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Interview with Governor Jay Inslee; Michael Cohen Sending Clear Signal to President Trump; Jim Jordan Back in D.C. Amid Accusations He Ignored Sexual Abuse; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 9, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The administration says they're working tirelessly to reunite these children with their parents, but what will the federal judge say? Meantime, governors from six states wrote a joint letter to HHS and DHS, questioning how this process is working and demanding a response.

Joining me now is one of the governors that signed that letter, Democrat Jay Inslee of Washington.

Thank you for being here, sir.


HARLOW: Good morning.

INSLEE: Good morning.

HARLOW: I read through the six demands you have in this letter. And you want to know the process. You want to know how and when these reunifications will happen, exactly how many children are separated, exactly how many very young children are separated. Has HHS or DHS responded to you at all since you sent this letter on Friday?

INSLEE: No, and this is par for the course. Look, this has been a barbarous process from the beginning. It has been a diabolical scheme and the president playing chess, you know, he's sort of been willing to sacrifice a few pawns, which are these children, in his effort to, I guess, look as tough as he wants to be. But we are grossly dissatisfied with the government's response. They have given us nothing but inaccurate information. They've gone so far last week to suggest that they would consider just placing these children with foster parents as a reunification plan and call it good, which is totally dissatisfactory.

HARLOW: So, Governor, let me ask you about that specifically because I did hear you talk about that and I'd like to know more. That your team was on a call with government officials and that that federal government officials actually told your team that they do not plan to reunite all of these 3,000 children with their parents? That they would be willing to put them with foster families and that they think that that would meet the reunification demands by the court? Is that directly what you were told?

INSLEE: Yes, we were -- my staff was told, I was not on the call, but my staff was told on several occasions that not all of these children would be reunited with their parents. That there would be reunification, and they used that term repeatedly, through other means, which could include foster parents, it could include potentially relatives.

And we've already been told through press reports there have been 19 parents deported with no plans that we've seen to reunite those children with their parents. So what we have seen here is a continuation of the Trump policies of just being able to continue this policy of inhumane treatment to these children.


HARLOW: So what recourse do you believe --

INSLEE: And we've got nothing but --

HARLOW: What recourse do you have? I mean, you know, these are the deadlines set by the courts. What recourse do you and other Democrats have?


HARLOW: If they don't meet the deadline, if they don't follow through, I mean, you can't through HHS officials in jail over this, so what do you do?

INSLEE: Well, we are in court right now, in my state, and I'm proud of my state, we have stood up to the Trump administration repeatedly and we are now in court as a plaintiff as well seeking judicial relief. The courts do have contempt citations. They can fine the government, they can do other things as well, but there is something that's more important that all of us can do this year.

Look, we realize where this problem resides. It resides in the White House. You know, a fish rots from its head. And what we have to do is both. Look, people have come up to me by the dozens saying, what can we to protect these children? And frankly the answer is, this November, vote. And find every kid who's under 35 who might not vote and get them to vote. That's what we can do and that's what we need to do. We need to elect Democratic governors who can stand with me against this administration.

HARLOW: Governor, I wonder if you agree with your fellow Democrats, a number of them, prominent Democratic senators, Senator Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, who have called for the abolition of ICE. I mean, they -- there is a huge rallying cry behind this. But some like Jeh Johnson, former DHS, as you know, ran DHS under President Obama, Jeh Johnson says that that's a mistake. Do you agree with your fellow Democrats who say abolish ICE?

INSLEE: Well, I voted against ICE from the beginning, so you can count me a critic from day one. But the reality of the situation is, to solve this problem, the problem is in the White House. The agency --


HARLOW: So are they wrong then, Governor?

INSLEE: -- get their orders from the White House.

HARLOW: Are they wrong then --

INSLEE: I'm not arguing with people --

HARLOW: About abolishing ICE? I mean, because what Jeh Johnson said, let me read part of it in "The Washington Post" this weekend, he said, the outright abolition of ICE would compromise public safety. That's his argument. He goes on to say, calls to abolish ICE only serve to sew even greater division in the American public and in its political leadership, damaging any remaining prospect of bipartisan immigration reform.

Do you think he's right? Does he have a point or is part of the solution, as some of your fellow Democrats are calling for, to just abolish ICE altogether?

[10:35:04] INSLEE: Well, here's what I think. I think we have to solve this problem. We have to stop this inhumane treatment of our children and other people. And to do that, it is necessary to have a change of leadership at the top. The master of this agency is the president. The degradation of human rights are because of Donald Trump.

HARLOW: But what does that mean about ICE?

INSLEE: The orders have come from Donald Trump.

HARLOW: What does -- I mean --

INSLEE: That means, we have to --

HARLOW: Is it misguided to point to ICE in all of this and say, you abolish ICE and that helps solve the problem?

INSLEE: Well, I think that there is a concern that certain people may interpret that language as meaning, we're going to have no enforcement of our borders whatsoever.

HARLOW: Right.

INSLEE: And I don't think that's probably what people are proposing. If they propose reorganization of an agency, we should always be willing to consider that. But I come back to the central tenant that the problem will be resolved when we change the White House and when we vote for people this fall that can create comprehensive immigration reform that will prevent Donald Trump's depredations.

That will be the ultimate solution to this problem. And that's what we should focus on. And that's what I'm focused on and I'm going to court to do what we can to restrain this rogue president. And that ought to be our obligation and we're going to fulfill it, you bet. HARLOW: Of course, even under the previous administration, President

Obama, there was not that comprehensive immigration reform that has been talked about and hoped for by so many for so long.

Governor Jay Inslee, I have to leave it there. Thanks for joining me this morning.

INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.

HARLOW: The fixer fights back. The message Michael Cohen is sending to the president. New reporting, next.


[10:40:48] HARLOW: Welcome back. Rudy Giuliani says that Michael Cohen should tell the truth, but multiple sources tell CNN that Michael Cohen has a clear message for the president and for Giuliani. The truth isn't your friend. This as his attorney, Lanny Davis, this morning just fired back at Giuliani's comments yesterday that Cohen should tell the feds the truth.

Listen to what Giuliani said first.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: If he believes it's in his best interest to cooperate, God bless him. He should cooperate. I think the man has been horribly treated by the people he's going to cooperate with, but that, you know, sometimes you have no other choice.

I do not expect that Michael Cohen is going to lie. I think he's going to tell the truth, as best he can, given his recollection. And if he does that, we're home free.


HARLOW: So here is the biting response to that from Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, who writes this morning, quote, "Did Rudy Giuliani really say on the Sunday shows that Michael Cohen should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? Seriously? Is that Trump and Giuliani's definition of truth? Trump and Giuliani next to the word 'truth' equals oxymoron. Stay tuned. #thetruthmatters."

With me now on the phone our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, who has new reporting from multiple sources.

Gloria, that the message is pretty clear here from Michael Cohen to Giuliani and the president and that is, quote, the truth is not your client's friend. What can you tell us?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (via phone): I think what they're doing is they're hitting the reset button, and -- as I was told, and this looks like it's war here, pretty much, between Rudy Giuliani, his client, Donald Trump, and Michael Cohen. You know, for the past year, Cohen has denied vehemently participating in or knowing about anything about collusion with Russia. And so these new comments from sources close to Cohen suggest that he's dangling some information about President Trump and others in the president's orbit that he might want to share with investigators.

Now we don't know any details yet. We also know that his attorney, Guy Patrillo, is not necessarily meeting with prosecutors at this point. They -- my sources have referred any inquiries about the case to Patrillo, who is not commenting. So it is possible they're trying to say to the prosecutors, hey, maybe we have something here, but we don't know, in fact, Poppy, whether they do.

But what we do know is that they are now taking on Rudy Giuliani and the president frontally, and one source said to me, look, Cohen is no longer taking a bullet for Trump. He's no longer a flunky. It is his July 4th moment.

HARLOW: Is there, Gloria, an indication that you're getting that anything could change Michael Cohen's mind at this point in time? Because we know he has felt from our reporting abandoned by the president. The president, when he's been asked into these press gaggles a few weeks ago about Michael Cohen, you know, calls him sort of a nice guy, but I don't talk to him much. Certainly not standing by his man, if you will, on this. Could something from the president turn Michael Cohen back to being in his corner?

BORGER: I think at this point, it does seem -- does seem hard to say. Look, Cohen feels frustrated, as you point out. He feels abandoned. He also, you know, I was told by my sources that when he originally spoke out a couple of weeks ago on ABC, he was very careful in choosing which areas to distinguish himself from the president.

Remember, he said, I respect the FBI. Who has said the FBI is a corrupt institution? The president. Right? He said that he believes the intelligence communities over Trump. And this goes on and on now. So I think what he is doing is sending a direct message to the president of the United States, which is, if I tell the truth, it might not be so good for you.

What we don't know, Poppy, is what the truth is. Because Michael Cohen is not telling us exactly what he knows and when he knew it.

[10:45:02] So, you know, the story will continue to unravel, but now you do have the president's ultimate loyalists, his former fixer, punching directly back at his former boss.

HARLOW: Yes, it's a significant development, Gloria. Thank you for that important reporting. We appreciate it.

Let's discuss it more with Caroline Polisi, a federal and white-collar defense attorney. So I mean, what's your read on this? He's got this new legal team. One of the lawyers is Lanny Davis. You saw the message from him very clear this morning. What's your read?

CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL AND WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think we're witnessing the reinvention of Michael Cohen. You know, over the course of the past week or so, he's sort of -- he's no longer, as Gloria said, the guy that's going to take a bullet for the president. And he now has his own sort of Giuliani in Lanny Davis. I mean, the two are kind of like doppelgangers in that regard. They can come out from a PR standpoint and really throw some punches.

I agree with Gloria that it's unclear at this point what information Michael Cohen may have, but look, it's no secret that when you hire Guy Patrillo, a former prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, that he's looking to potentially cut a deal. He's looking for Guy Patrillo to pick up the phone, say, what can we do, guys? Here's what we have, is there anything that we can work out?

And after that, he would engage in what's known as proffer sessions with potentially the Southern District, maybe Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. Who knows? There could be a lot of information that could be helpful here.

HARLOW: Let me ask you something else. Rudy Giuliani did a series of Sunday show interviews this weekend and he made news on ABC, with George Stephanopoulos, Sunday morning, talking about why -- what the president knew in conversations that were had about Michael Flynn and, you know, whether the former FBI director James Comey was asked directly by the president to go easy on Flynn or to let this thing go. Let's listen to this exchange.


GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that. What he said to him was, can you give him a break?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABS NEWS ANCHOR: Comey says he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: Well, that's OK. I mean, taken it that way, I mean, by that time, he had been fired. And he said a lot of other things, some of which have turned out to be untrue. The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times. Can you give the man a break? Either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by friends. You take that into consideration. But you know, that doesn't determine that not going forward with it.


HARLOW: He is confirming there, Caroline, what the president denied in a May 2017 news conference, the president was asked if he'd urged Comey to let up on Flynn and go easy on him, and the president said, no, no, next question. And this all ties into the obstruction issue.

POLISI: Right. Absolutely.

HARLOW: How significant is that?

POLISI: It's hugely significant. I mean, you can sugar coat the language, which Giuliani is trying to do here, but the fact is, when it's the president of the United States that directs, is giving a directive or what Comey perceived to be a directive to let an investigation which pertains to the president of the United States go, well, that's obstruction of justice. And that is the entirety of what this investigation one prong is about, and this is part and parcel of Giuliani's tactic of getting out in front of --


HARLOW: Does it matter that Giuliani said it, he could walk it back like he has other important things --

POLISI: It does matter.

HARLOW: And say, oh, I didn't mean it, I misunderstood, like the Stormy Daniels payment?

POLISI: One hundred percent it matters less. If it were Donald Trump himself to say those words, that would be more meaningful. But Giuliani doesn't have a good track record in sort of his credibility and consistency anyway, so likely they could try to walk that back if they had to. You know, the president has come out saying, look, Rudy's a good guy, he just got on this case, he makes some mistakes. But -- so it's less bad than if Trump himself had said that, but this is not good anyway you spin it.

HARLOW: Caroline, thank you. I'm glad we have you here this morning.

Ahead for us, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan is now back in Washington as he fights accusations that he knew about alleged sexual abuse at Ohio State. He denies those and he's pointing to political motivation behind some of it. Stay with us.


[10:53:17] HARLOW: Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan returns to Capitol Hill today, arguing that recent attacks on him are politically motivated. This as new accusers have come forward -- new accusers have come forward who have said that they were sexually assaulted by a team doctor while they were students at Ohio State and that Jim Jordan knew about the abuse. It is a claim that he has denied.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any type of abuse. If I had been, I would have dealt with it.


HARLOW: Our Jean Casarez has been on this story. She joins me now. There are new accusers, three more people who have come forward with different accounts. What are they saying?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, CNN has spoken with a lot of former wrestlers from Ohio State University and each of them really bring something different to the table. One former wrestler who wrestled in the late 1980s at Ohio State says that he was sexually abused by Dr. Richard Strauss and it was when Jim Jordan was the assistant coach. He said that he never specifically told Jordan, but that Larkin Hall,

which was this open facility where it seems like professors showered, the athletes, male athletes showered. He said Larkin Hall where the athletes showered was a pedophile's dreamland and that if Jordan didn't know, he was living under a rock. But he does describe Jordan as a class act.

Now another former wrestler, Mike Alf, says that he didn't consider it abuse at the time. That the wrestlers joked about it. But the physicals were weird, it was inappropriate behavior. He doesn't believe Jim Jordan knew and says that if he did know, he thinks Jordan would have done something.

Another unnamed former wrestler tells us that Coach Russ Hellickson and Jordan had to know because they were in the shower when the doctor was in the shower and the doctor was in the shower for a long time.

[10:55:06] You know, Poppy, in the defense -- Jim Jordan in his own defense is talking about character fallacies in some of these accusers.

HARLOW: Right.

CASAREZ: And it is true that one of the most serious accusations comes from Dunyasha Yetts who tells CNN that he told Jordan all about it, he did serve time in federal prison for a crime of dishonesty. He says I served my time, moved on --

HARLOW: Unrelated to any of this.

CASAREZ: Unrelated to all of this. It was a crime of dishonesty, though, but he says, I'm now very successful in business. That should not be held against me.

HARLOW: Jean Casarez, thank you for the reporting. Please keep us posted as this develops.

The breaking news this morning, eight boys now rescued from that Thailand cave. We're learning more about their condition and what is next for the operations. Four more boys still trapped. Much more ahead.