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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
FBI Has Cohen Tape of Trump Discussing Playmate Payment; Source: Mueller Wants to Talk to "Manhattan Madam" Who Once Worked for Roger Stone; Source: WH Spoke With DNI Office Before Coats Speaking Event Didn't Mention Putin Invite To U.S.; More Information From Moscow About Meeting None From White House; Exclusive: Alleged Russian Spy's Lawyer Talks; The Trump Show: TV's New Reality. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired July 20, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, an exclusive interview with the attorney for alleged Russian spy Maria Butina. The attorney joins us. That's ahead.
So is the latest on the mystery surrounding what happened behind closed doors when President Trump met Vladimir Putin, it's a mystery because the White House won't tell us or tell you. In fact, we're getting more from Russia than we are from Washington.
We begin, though, with the president's former personal attorney and longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. Today, we learned he had made tapes of conversations with his client and others and federal authorities have those tapes. They were seized when the FBI raided Cohen, including one from September of 2016 when Cohen, then-candidate Donald Trump, were talking about paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who as you know alleged an affair with Mr. Trump about ten years prior, while Melania Trump was pregnant and even after the birth of their son. Money above and beyond an arrangement with the "National Enquirer's" parent company, AMI, to buy Ms. McDougal's story and then kill it.
Now, this conversation took place just two months before the election, September 2016. Several weeks later, just a few days before the election, the campaign denied any knowledge of the alleged affair, or the "National Enquirer" deal, but that's getting ahead of the story.
So, let's start at the beginning as told to me exclusively by Karen McDougal earlier this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, tell me about your first date.
KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE: Our first date, I was told we were going to go to the Beverly Hills hotel for dinner. So he had told me that Keith, his bodyguard, was going to pick me up at a certain time, and he did.
And then we were driving over to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Keith drove around to the back and he said, we have to get out here because we don't want to walk through the hotel. And at that minute, I'm like, thinking to myself, are we going to a room? Thought we were having dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
COOPER: In the actual restaurant.
MCDOUGAL: Right. Well, we did have dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but in his bungalow instead. We had dinner for a few hours. We talked for a few hours. We had a great time. We were getting to know each other. We were talking about this birthday.
Then as the night ended, we -- we were intimate.
COOPER: When you got to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Keith said, we're not going to go through the lobby, we're going to go -- was it to a -- to a room at the Beverly Hills hotel or a suite or --
MCDOUGAL: It was a bungalow in back.
COOPER: A bungalow.
MCDOUGAL: It's the one he said he always stayed at, in fact, every time I met them there, it was the same exact bungalow. And he called it the nicest bungalow they have. So I guess that's why he chose that one. But that's, yes, that's where we went every time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, fast forward to November 4th of 2016, "The Wall Street Journal" breaking the story of her allegations and the arrangement with the "National Enquirer." Spokesperson Hope Hicks telling "The Journal", we have no knowledge of any of this.
I asked Karen McDougal about it during our interview back in March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Hope Hicks has said categorically you did not have a relationship, there's no truth to this. When you heard that denial, what did you think?
MCDOUGAL: Well, I think somebody's lying and I can tell you it's not me. It's a little hurtful, but at the same is time, I have to understand, like, if he were to tell Hope Hicks that he didn't do it, I guess I understand because he's trying to protect his family, his image, things like that. But it was definitely a little, like, wow, you're going to lie about that? OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, of course, it's possible that Hope Hicks, herself, was being lied to, but barring that, we now know that four days before the election, the campaign's chief spokesperson was lying to voters. The Cohen/Trump tape shows candidate Trump was made aware of the "National Enquirer" deal at least that September, two months before Hope Hicks said they knew nothing about it. Now, keeping them honest, perhaps we should have known given team
Trump's chronic trouble with telling the truth, including the hush payments to Stormy Daniels, which Michael Cohen arranged and fronted the money for. Back in January of this year, of course, spokesman Rob Shah said none of the allegations were true.
Now, here's the White House press secretary in March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true. This case has already been won in arbitration. Anything beyond that, I would refer you to the president's outside counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then, about a month later, here's what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no. What else?
REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a few weeks later, his other attorney Rudy Giuliani said the president did, in fact, pay Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: When I heard Cohen's retainer of $35,000, when he was doing no work for the president, I said, that's how he's repaying -- that's how he's repaying it, with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:12] COOPER: So, OK, that's Giuliani essentially coming clean on the lie his client and people around him have been telling for months. As for Karen McDougal based on what we seen so far today, the spin has just begun. Joining us now by phone is "New York Times" White House correspondent
Maggie Haberman who shares a byline with Matt Apuzzo and Michael Schmidt on the breaking story today.
So, there have been two explanations from the president's attorney, from Giuliani today, since your story posted. What's his latest explanation for these conversations? And let's talk fast because the story might change again.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Yes. So, we were given an initial explanation in which he indicated this was a separate payment, that this was a payment to McDougal that was separate and apart from this arrangement that McDougal had with AMI. He called back later to clarify that this was actually supposed -- on the tape, what they're discussing, is obtaining the rights to her story from AMI.
They are -- Giuliani was strenuously denying that this should be construed as a reimbursement, although some I think would interpret it that way. He's adamant that it is not. I think that that has legal implications when it comes to the campaign finance piece of this.
And in his telling of it, it was Trump who said, let's do this properly and with a check. And it was Michael Cohen who either had suggested cash or didn't suggest a check in the first place. Someone close to Cohen has adamantly denied that version of events that suggested that the presentation in which the then-candidate was saying, let's do this all aboveboard, is not how this went down. We're obviously not going to know without hearing this.
The conversation is short. It's around two minutes long. It cuts off at some point before the conversation is done. There are portions of it that are apparently inaudible in the transcript.
And it will, you know, I think it will have to be heard, you know, by any of us to really understand what's being said. But what it clearly does, as you say, is undercut what the campaign told "The Wall Street Journal" in October of 2016 which is that they knew nothing about this. That's obviously not true. Whether Hope Hicks who made that statement was aware of that, I don't know. It's very possible that Donald Trump didn't tell her the truth.
But it raises questions about the president's credibility at a time when his folks are trying to undermine Michael Cohen.
COOPER: What's amazing about Giuliani's -- both of Giuliani's explanations, let's take either one. And the first one is that this would have been -- they were discussing an additional payment to Karen McDougal.
COOPER: Ami was claiming we weren't paying for her silence, we were paying her for the rights to her story, which we then didn't really believe, so we didn't publish it but we also wanted her to a columnist. If they were discussing just giving another payment to Karen McDougal, that is certainly pretty stunning. I understand why he would call back then and say, oh, actually, no, that's not what that was, even though that's what I just said it was. It was actually they were buying the rights to the story.
HABERMAN: That doesn't make much more sense.
COOPER: It doesn't make any sense.
HABERMAN: Donald Trump is not a publisher.
COOPER: Right, "Trump" magazine I think lasted for one or two editions and doesn't exist anymore.
HABERMAN: This would not have been a story you would have seen in it.
COOPER: That is also true.
HABERMAN: The distinction in the explanations I think has a legal one, as opposed to a personal one. The personal one, either way, is problematic for the president. There is no landscape in which this is a good thing for him --
HABERMAN: -- in terms of -- in terms of what he has said about this before.
COOPER: I mean, frankly, what makes the most sense in terms of them paying AMI is it does sound -- I mean, what makes the most sense just logically is they are reimbursing AMI for doing them a solid of buying Karen McDougal's life rights and so, that seems to be what the president -- what Donald Trump would have been talking to his attorney about, not, like, buying her life rights so that they could do something with it or bury them because AMI had already buried them.
HABERMAN: Well, or it could be that they were trying to buy it just so they had control over it and bury it, themselves, but what I don't think they were trying to do was buy them so that they could tell her story. Again, just back to the original point of why someone would own the rights and what you do with them. There is no credible explanation why Donald Trump would want those, other than to put them on a shelf somewhere.
HABERMAN: So, I think that's where this ends up not making sense. I mean, again, Giuliani kept describing this as exculpatory and it may be in the legal sense. I think -- I'm not a lawyer, so I can't -- I don't know what specifically is said on the tape because we haven't heard it.
What we were told by people close to both sides is this is the only -- and this was another point of clarification, initially we were told this is the only audio of them.
[20:10:01] Then we were told this is the only one of substance meaning this is the only one that isn't, you know, call me, call me back, I'll call you. This is the only one that features a conversation of anything that is material to that search warrant on Michael Cohen in the first place in April.
COOPER: And -- and the -- your understanding is that the president had no idea that Michael Cohen had recorded him?
HABERMAN: No. The president did not know that he was recorded. It's still confusing to me how this recording came to be. Why it's so short. And so forth.
You know, we know that Michael Cohen had a long history of taping people, but, you know, he often told people that he taped himself as well as reminders of notes or to, you know, to, you know, prompt him about something in the future when he was trying to do projects or take care of things. I -- we don't know how many recordings were seized.
You know, there are a lot of unanswered questions with this, but what is clear is the timing of the recording is evidence that the president had to have known about --
HABERMAN: -- Karen McDougal and those payments when his campaign was saying that's not true.
COOPER: Right. Then that is essentially the big headline. Maggie Haberman, thank you.
Still more questions on this and more on the legal angles now. Joining us is former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers, CNN legal analyst and former Watergate figure, John Dean, who has his own stories to tell about pivotal tape recordings obviously, and criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, Mark Geragos.
So, Jennifer, there's a lot of back and forth of whether or not the recordings are good or bad for the president. Certainly, Giuliani is trying to paint them as exculpatory. What do you make of that? I mean, I guess it comes down to the tale of the tape if the conversation demonstrates that the president knew of the payoff, certainly, previously, at the very least, it shows his campaign was lying.
JENNIFER ROGERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Well, that's right. I mean, there are a couple things that are interesting here as a legal matter. One is that the recording is apparently in the hands of the investigative team now. The prosecutors and the FBI who were doing the Michael Cohen case. That means it's not privileged. So, it's been handed over.
So it's either not privileged in the first place, meaning there was no legal advice being sought, or the crime/fraud exception applies meaning the privilege has been vitiated. So, that's interesting. It means it's usable in court. It's not going to be excluded on privilege basis. And number two, this is a campaign finance violation, almost
certainly, as you pointed out, we don't know exactly what is on the recording, but here is the president and Michael Cohen talking a couple of months before the election about getting a benefit for that -- for the candidate, and that is to keep quiet Karen McDougal.
So, it's making it look more and more like the facts are there for a campaign finance violation. It's unlikely that will ever be brought, but if nothing else, this will probably be spelled out in Mueller's report which goes to the House for whatever they may do with it.
COOPER: John, I mean, a campaign finance violation really, I mean, normally what -- it's basically a fine, if he even -- I mean, I guess the federal election commission can refer it to the Department of Justice, but it's -- there's Democrats and Republicans on and they all have to unanimously agree. And that seems unlikely.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: That is unlikely. It's a body that is almost totally dysfunctional in doing anything. That wouldn't preclude necessarily a prosecutor looking at a campaign act violation, but not likely. So, this is not -- you know, this doesn't look like a major item to trade some sort of crime and some sort of immunity for Mr. Cohen.
DEAN: I'm not quite sure why this was floated when it was and particularly when Maggie added that this is apparently the only substantive recording he's got.
COOPER: Well, that's what Giuliani is claiming.
DEAN: Yes. That's what Giuliani is claiming.
COOPER: John, it's so --
DEAN: We don't know if that's true.
COOPER: As someone who so famously flipped on President Nixon, considering how loyal Cohen claimed to have been to Donald Trump, what do you make of the reporting of President Trump's reaction to the recording saying I can't believe Michael would do this to me?
DEAN: Well, I've heard other stories where he was well aware as he told Erin Burnett one time in an interview that he was in the real estate business in New York and everybody secretly recorded everybody. So I don't think he was particularly shocked. He might not have thought that Michael Cohen would have done it because he was -- had a legal relationship, attorney/client relationship, but I must say also the New York City Bar during many of the years that Michael was working for him had made an exception for attorneys recording conversations.
COOPER: So, Mark, I mean, there's been a lot of discussion about the expectation of attorney/client privilege between President Trump and Cohen. Just the fact that the president's current attorney, Giuliani, is out there talking about the details of the tapes and to Jennifer's earlier point, I mean, already, I guess, any attorney/client privileges have been deemed either not to apply here, or invalidated because of the nature of the discussion.
[20:15:05] MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Remember, Trump had lawyers who went into that courtroom, and I believe it was Judge Wood's courtroom. They were able to successfully get a special master appointed. So, somebody ruled or looked at everything that was seized which is normally not how it operates in the federal system. Usually, you have a dirty team and a clean team.
Here they had a special master which was a retired judge who either ruled that it was a crime fraud or ruled that it wasn't privileged. And Rudy Giuliani would obviously have access to the list or the privileged log that was submitted by both of all of the lawyers on the respective side. So I think what he's doing here is he's trying to spin it as e exculpatory.
I can understand in a legal sense why he's saying it's exculpatory. He's saying that, look, all of this shows is that in real-time, the president didn't know that the payoff was happening and they were discussing something after the fact. It doesn't take away from the fact, I don't -- I'm not as familiar with the New York City Bar rules that John just referred to, but there is something entirely reprehensible to a client about their lawyer recording them unbeknownst to them.
I mean, the whole idea of attorney/client privilege is you're supposed to have a client be able to unburden themselves, tell you everything that they want to tell you and get your best advice. If I'm doing that with a lawyer who then when he's caught in the crosshairs is turning that over, leaking it, or releasing it and commenting on it, that does some great damage to the attorney/client privilege. And as somebody -- I don't care how you take what your view is on Trump, there's something that's just unseemly about the fact that these recordings, attorney/client conversations.
COOPER: Well, Jennifer, I mean, you know, the more someone always says, well, I'd take a bullet for you, I'd be loyal to the end to you, the less I believe them. I mean, people who generally are like that don't actually have to say that over and over and over again. And certainly, if you really are that loyal, you don't record secretly the person you're talking to.
RODGERS: Yes, it is very strange. I think the president has a right to be angry. I mean, unfortunately, for the president, it's not a legal defense. He can't keep the recording out just because, you know, Michael Cohen shouldn't have done it.
But that's right. And Cohen is now in a position of having to decide what's he going to do? Is that loyalty that would have him take a bullet enough to send him to prison for years and have him do that? So, that's what he's deciding now, and I think we'll know fairly soon here, as soon as charges are filed, which way he's decided to go on that.
COOPER: John, the circumstance certainly different between what you went through in Watergate, do you see parallels in your situation and what Michael Cohen is facing?
DEAN: There are. He has to make a decision if he's going to come forward and tell the truth. I happened to make that decision when the cover-up was going on internally in the White House and broke rank. He's at that point right now. And my advice to him would be to break rank and tell truth. It is the only way to go.
COOPER: John Dean, Jennifer Rodgers, Mark Geragos, thank you very much.
Coming up next, we have breaking news, and a question why would Russia's special counsel Robert Mueller want to from a woman who once ran a high priced New York call girl ring? A woman known as the Manhattan Madam. We'll ask her friend, Trump associate, Roger Stone.
Later, the interview you'll only see here, the attorney for the alleged Russian spy joins us to talk about his client.
[20:20:23] COOPER: Politics, they say, makes for strange bedfellows sometimes. Apparently so do criminal investigations.
Late today, the breaking news hit, special counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to a woman named Kristin Davis. If the name doesn't ring any bells, her former moniker might. She was once known as the "Manhattan Madam" who ran a high-priced call girl ring some years back in New York City.
Our M.J. Lee has more of the breaking news.
So, what's the latest you're learning about this?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Anderson, as you said, we have learned today that special counsel Robert Mueller has made contact with the lawyer representing Kristin Davis. As you said, she's a woman that some members of the public might better know her as the Manhattan Madam. She was ran a high-end prostitution ring in New York City. And if you recall, she actually went to jail as a part of the prostitution scandal that took down former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Now, if there's going to be a subpoena that Mueller and his team hand down to Kristin Davis, this woman, that has not yet happened. We got in touch with the lawyer who would be representing her if that happened, and this lawyer actually said, if the special counsel subpoenas her, that he would, in fact, be representing her.
Now, we do not know at this point why the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is interested in talking to this woman. But, certainly, a really intriguing and unexpected twist in this Robert Mueller investigation. COOPER: She also has a connection to roger stone, who was obviously
at a time an adviser on the president's election campaign.
LEE: That's right. At this point in time, if we were to make an educated guess, that might be one reason why Robert Mueller and his team are interested in talking to Kristin Davis. The two have known each other for a long time. Roger Stone is actually the godfather to her child. And Davis actually did some work were Roger Stone including, I'm told, doing some clerical work, including some work related to his Websites.
Now, Mueller, of course, as we all know, has been very interested in roger stone, and has also taken an interest in some of the aides that have worked for Roger Stone in the past. So, again, this might be the connection and the reason for his interest.
Now, I do want to read a statement that we got earlier today from Kristin Davis' lawyer. It said, Kristin Davis and Roger Stone are very good friends and she has worked on and off for him for the last ten years. Roger is the godfather to her son. She is currently in the cosmetology business and she knows nothing whatsoever about Russian collusion with the 2016 election.
Now, obviously, you can see there that she's trying to sort of get ahead of the story and make it very, very clear from the get-go that she knows nothing that Robert Mueller might be interested in -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. M.J. Lee, thanks very much. Joining us now is Roger Stone.
Roger, thanks very much for being back on the program. We appreciate it.
So, with Mueller wanting to talk to Kristin Davis, it would be the third ex-associate that's been caught up in this investigation. Do you believe you're a target of this investigation, and that's why they want do talk to Ms. Davis?
ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I have no idea, thank you for having me back, Anderson. First of all, last week's indictments I think made pretty clear that I had no advanced notice of the alleged hacking of the DNC, received no materials from Guccifer 2, the Russians or no one else, passed no material on to Donald Trump or WikiLeaks or Julian Assange or anyone else.
Now, Kristin Davis is a good friend of mine. She's a brilliant woman who has paid her debt to society. I always thought it was unfair that she went to prison after the fall of Eliot Spitzer and he went to CNN to host a TV show.
She has remade her life. She was not working for me during 2015. She worked for me during a portion of 2016. She went back to school to learn I.T. skills. She has helped me build some Websites, but she has no knowledge whatsoever of any Russian collusion, collaboration with WikiLeaks, or anything else improper having to do with the 2016 election.
COOPER: Can you see any situation where they want talk to her that doesn't have something to do with you? And on top of that, I guess has Mueller's office been in contact with you or your attorney?
STONE: I cannot imagine anything other than that question. She has been an associate of mine for over ten years. She's someone I have great affection for. I am, as M.J. Lee reported, the godfather to her son. She's a single parent. She's now in the cosmetology business.
COOPER: So would she have been handling e-mail -- sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Would she have been handling e-mail correspondence, things like that, that would be of interest to Mueller?
[20:25:01] STONE: Well, at this juncture, Mr. Mueller has had full access to my e-mails, therefore, he's well aware that there's no evidence whatsoever, not in the possession of Kristin Davis, not in the position of Andrew Miller, another associate of mine who's resisting a subpoena from Mr. Mueller, or anyone else of collusion with the Russians, collaboration with WikiLeaks or any other inappropriate act.
In my view, in all honesty, this is a phishing expedition. Perhaps it is the payback for the fact that I broke the story yesterday on Info Wars that Tony Podesta has been -- that the special counsel has asked for immunity for him in the Manafort investigation, or the Manafort prosecution.
I know that has not yet been reported on CNN, but I reported it yesterday at Info Wars. I have multiple sources. Fox has also reported it. I believe it to be true.
Perhaps this is payback for that.
COOPER: Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, onetime close associate of yours, was asked by the "Hollywood Reporter" what's next for you? He said Roger is going to be indicted, he's a critical piece for Mueller. Obviously, Nunberg doesn't have real, you know, inside knowledge into Mueller's thinking or his operations though he did talk to Mueller.
Do you think he's right? Do you think you'll be indicted?
STONE: Mr. Nunberg has no evidence of Russian collusion, or WikiLeaks collaboration.
Sam is a very smart guy. I think he has substance abuse problems and, frankly, I think responsible members of the media should be very, very careful when they take what he says at face value.
COOPER: Just lastly, you told "The New York Times" in regards to Michael Cohen, quote, Donald goes out of -- Donald Trump meaning -- Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage. Now that we know Cohen was recording at least some conversations with
his client and also vowed to be loyal to his family and country, do you think Michael Cohen is out for revenge on the president?
STONE: In all honesty, I have not had a chance to follow the developments of the day. I know that Michael Cohen wanted very badly to be in the president's presidential campaign. He was not. He wanted very badly to be in the president's White House. He was not.
I honestly do not know what he knows and whether any of it is detrimental to the president. I'm going to go by what Mayor Giuliani says and believe that this is benign, but I have no special knowledge to the contrary.
COOPER: Roger Stone, appreciate you being on. Thank you.
STONE: Thank you very much.
COOPER: It's now day four since the Helsinki summit ended. Senior U.S. officials, including the nation's top intelligence officer, are saying they don't have any idea or concrete idea of what was actually discussed between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Russia says agreements were reached. The question is what agreements? All the requests for a transcript or read-out denied. We'll get into that, next.
[20:31:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news now, about the invitation of Vladimir Putin from the White House to come to Washington. Yesterday, director of national intelligence Dan Coats learned about the invitation while talking to Andrea Mitchell on the stage at a conference in Aspen. A source familiar with what took place says White House aides talked to Coats' staff 45 minutes before his appearance, but they didn't inform coats of the invitation because the press staff on site had yet been told.
So its four days and counting since the Helsinki summit ended, which means four days and counting since we've been in the dark about exactly what happened when President Trump and Putin met behind closed doors. Four days that we've asked for a readout as they say in White House press speak and got nothing, and no, the director of National Intelligence didn't know anything about that, either.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by, President has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more, but that is the President's prerogative. If you'd asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way, but that's not my role. That's not my job. So, it is what it is.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Again, that's America's chief intelligence officer saying he doesn't know what was discussed between the two men. Now, interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Russian officials continue to say they are delighted by what took place and say there are agreements reached between the two sides. The question, of course, is what agreements? Since we're not getting answers from the White House, yes, we've asked, we're going to have to go to Moscow for answers because that's where we are now.
Matthew chance is there. So, Matthew, we still don't have any readout from the White House, what are you hearing from Russian officials?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be fair, Anderson, we haven't had a readout, either, from the Kremlin in terms of the sort of usual readout we'd expect after a big, important summit like this. Just some general characterization of the summit as being positive. Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, said that there had been useful agreements that had been made there. But having said that, there have been a number of sort of, you know, kind of revelations that have trickled through for various other Russian officials, the Russian defense ministry, for instance, has spoken about the two Presidents in Helsinki discussing security arrangements internationally. Arms reduction treaties. Deals over Syria.
Things like that. The Russian ambassador to the United States, he was briefly in Moscow to attend a meeting here in the Russian capital, said that there have been concrete agreements on eastern Ukraine. And local media reports have spoken about how Vladimir Putin, again, the Russian President, has spoken to ambassadors about the possibility of holding a referendum in eastern Ukraine to decide the future of that sort of war-torn region. And so, you know, that's the kind of, you know, revelation that we've had come to us via, bleakly from Russian officials but no firm read out of the kind we'd expect honestly.
COOPER: You know, it's also still so fascinating that, you know, Vladimir Putin made this offer about Mueller's team going to Moscow, and then Russian intelligence agents coming here and being able to interview U.S. officials, or interrogate U.S. officials that the President, you know, apparently, I assume in, you know, on the one-on- one meetings. But even publicly at the press conference talked about as -- sounding like a great idea, sounded like really interesting or, you know, something to be really seriously be considered, when most Russians hands out -- just out of hands that would never -- that should never happen. And now the White House has walked that back saying, well, the President doesn't think it's a good idea.
[20:35:03] CHANCE: It was -- I was in that press conference, and it was absolutely fascinating and horrifying, frankly, as we discussed earlier, to see the U.S. President in such a sort of, I suppose, submissive kind of role in that relationship. The expectation was, even amongst Trump's critics, is that -- was that he was going to, you know, make a stand, or at least, you know, kind of, you know, talk about all the areas of conflict between the United States and Russia. But he didn't do that and he even submitted when it came to that suggestion that the United States basically give up several of its key figures for interrogation by Russian authorities. And I think the sense here in Moscow is that, you know, may have gone well on the surface, but did it go too far? Is there a possibility of a backlash in the United States? The kind of backlash that we're seeing already that could place a further strain on relations between Moscow and Washington?
CHANCE: So, you know, that there are mixed feelings here in Moscow, I think it's fair to say.
COOPER: Yes, Matthew Chance, appreciate it. Thanks very much from Moscow.
A lot to discuss with former CIA officer Steve Hall. David Axelrod, obviously key aide to President Obama.
David, was there ever a time you remembered President Obama meeting one-on-one for more than two hours with somebody who is in an adversarial relationship with the United States and the public not having any information about what was said?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All the meetings that he had that I know of were read out to the public. He had lengthy meetings with -- with people in foreign governments. He had a lengthy meeting with Putin in 2009 that was -- when Putin was prime minister. Not when he was President. It was the regular practice of our administration and every administration to read these meetings out, but more importantly, Anderson, it was certainly the practice of this administration to have people monitor these meetings, and to make sure that key national security advisers and cabinet members were advised after the meetings of what happened, and were instructive or involved in prepping the President before the meeting. So everything about this was unusual and troubling.
COOPER: Steve, I mean in the absence of the White House providing an account of what happened or the State Department, it's really the Russians are the only ones kind of doing the talking. Has the U.S. lost the ability to control the narrative here? And how does that impact the relationship?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It does, indeed, seem that the Russians now control the narrative, which is obviously never a good thing. We're getting dribs and drabs of information. I was just reading something that there was the possibility that there was a discussion where the Russians were pushing the President on not allowing Ukraine in Georgia, any plan for NATO ascension. You know, that's obviously a very serious policy issue. Not to mention all the issues with regard to Syria and some very valid issues that need -- and complicated issues, such as, you know, further arms treaties and so forth.
All of that stuff, you know, needs to be out there. There's no reason really for it for not to be out there. Experts need to take a look at it. Congress needs to take a look at it and to let the Russians be the ones who do this is a recipe for disaster because, of course, they will spin it. They have no -- there's no open and free press in are Russia, so there's, you know, there's no advantage to the United States for that. It's another situation where I think the United States is lost out of this particular summit.
COOPER: And David, I mean yesterday it was announced the White House had extended the invite to Putin. Just in terms of the politics of it especially in the fall, I don't know if it's going to be before the midterm elections or after the midterm elections, if Putin accepts the invitation before the midterm elections, and comes, does that create a huge problem for Congressional Republicans? I mean, won't they have to answer questions of whether they support the President's decision to host the man who --
AXELROD: Yes, I'm sure.
COOPER: -- not only attacked America but, you know, continues to try attack the country's democracy according to the intelligence services?
AXELROD: Yes, I'm sure the news of this invitation was greeted with wild enthusiasm in the Republican cloakrooms up on Capitol Hill, Anderson. Look, this has been a terrible week. Now, the Republican Party coalesced, at least the rank and file according to polls have largely coalesced behind the President. But independent voters have been deeply troubled by this. Obviously, Democratic voters, and in many of these swing districts, this is an unhelpful issue.
You see will hurt, for example, from Texas, who's a former CIA officer, has been very outspoken on this. He's in a very tough race in a swing district. There's a reason beyond his professional sense of outrage or whatever he feels about this that he's speaking out. It's because it is a political liability for him. So, you know, it's Trump's habit to double down when he has a disaster, to be defiant about it. This invitation seems to be -- seems to be part of that pattern.
[20:40:10] But from a political standpoint, I have to believe that Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and others are urging him to postpone any kind of meeting until after the election.
COOPER: Steve, do you -- I think -- I don't think it was you, I think it was Rolf Mowatt-Larssen on the program a couple nights ago who said that he wouldn't be surprised if the Russians had a recording or transcript of what went on in that meeting one-on-one. Do you think that's possible? And if so, how would -- how would that have happened?
HALL: Yes, no, it's absolutely possible, and something that Rolf and I would have agreed on. The Russians certainly have the capability to do that, in a very private meeting like that, it's, you know, child's play for the Russians to be able to get both audio and video on this. And so, you know, it can be used for a number of different things. I mean --
COOPER: Well, I guess for the U.S., too, then.
HALL: It's possible for the U.S., but then, of course, you have to ask the question, the guy who makes the decision as to whether or not there's clandestine taping going on is the most senior guy in the room. On our side, Donald Trump, on their side, Vladimir Putin. In a meeting like this, it would seem to me that it would be much to the benefit of Vladimir Putin to clandestinely record this stuff so that he could later trot things out and shape the conversation, say, well actually the President said this and here's the clip.
So, you know, yes, makes all sorts of sense that they would do that. They don't have to. They could keep it to themselves. But, yes, it's certainly possible and could be very useful for them in the future politically.
COOPER: And I guess given that one of the reasons the President allegedly didn't want to have other people in the room is because he didn't want leaks. I guess since he doesn't trust the intelligence community, he wouldn't want the intelligence community bugging that room and having that tape for that very reason.
HALL: And that look --
HALL: Now the Russians -- now the Russians can leak it for, you know, for him, or for themselves.
COOPER: Steve Hall, David Axelrod, thanks.
A quick programming note, you catch David Axelrod and "THE AXE FILES" Saturday night 7:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
Up next on "360", a Russian woman sits in a Washington jail tonight accused of being a Kremlin spy and attempting influence American politicians. She's entered a plea of not guilty. Coming up, I'll talk exclusively to her attorney about the charges against her.
[20:45:30] COOPER: Sex, guns and lies. That's how prosecutors say an alleged Kremlin secret agent infiltrated American politics, getting close to Trump allies and other Republicans. Russia's ambassador to the U.S. on the other hand says the Department of Justice' case against Mariia Butina is a farce. Butina has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and acting as a covert Russian agent. The Russians have set up a hashtag in her defense. Her onetime boyfriend, Paul Erickson, only adds to the intrigue. He's an American conservative political operative. It's not clear where he falls into the alleged scheme. Prosecutors suggest he may have been manipulated by Butina who's half his age.
Joining me exclusively tonight, Mariia Butina's attorney, Robert Driscoll.
Robert, government laid out a long list of communications have they say prove your client Mariia Butina was a spy. And I want to read one between her and the Russian official she was communicating with immediately after Donald Trump won the election. She writes, "I'm going to sleep, it's 3:00 a.m. here. I'm ready for further orders." The Russian official says "think about it, in which areas of life we can -- for towards bringing us closer. . Is, understandably, what else we need to look at the American agenda."
So, you say your client isn't a Russian spy. How do you -- I mean why is she asking for further orders?
ROBERT DRISCOLL, MARIIA BUTINA'S ATTORNEY: I think that like most of the government's case is taken completely out of context. Those Twitter direct messages, which by the way, most Russian spies don't communicate by Twitter direct messages which are unencrypted. There's thousands of them between them Aleksandr Torshin and Mariia over years period. And they were gun rights advocates together and we friends (INAUDIBLE) in America, is direct messages about -- with pictures of kids and dogs and everything else. And they both had an affinity for better American/Russian relations. But that certainly wasn't of her purpose of the trip to the U.S. It was something they discuss once in a while.
COOPER: Here's the other thing the government says they have, they flagged several direct messages between her and the Russian official, where your client talks about going, quote, "underground, going incognito and having to be quiet and careful". The government alleges the messages show her acting in a covert manner. To that, you say?
DRISCOLL: Again, Mariia never said she was anyone other than who she was. She always said she was a Russian. She said that she had worked with Aleksandr Torshin. Or it said that she was friends with him, or assisting him in his endeavors. And she never did anything covered at all. I think any discussion of them of underground or covert versus public is more to do with whether or not to have for example public conferences, and inviting Americans and Russians on a gun issue and other issues. Or have more private dinners which is what (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: -- who's alleged to be a spy that -- only -- from what -- people who were at the university with her, she had a picture of Vladimir Putin on her phone and she often spoke in defense of Vladimir -- trying to be incognito and be here as a spy, I'm not sure that she -- I mean its odd that she would have high profile in defense of Vladimir Putin. And I would think if --
DRISCOLL: I asked her about that.
COOPER: -- I was a spy for Vladimir Putin, I would actually go the opposite way and kind of downplay my like of Vladimir Putin.
DRISCOLL: I actually asked her about that today, because I read about it, I think on CNN, the story about the phone cover. It's a picture of Vladimir Putin shirtless on a horse. So, you can imagine, you know, which she had as a gag. She's the Russian student and, you know, everyone knew she was a Russian student. So she had --
COOPER: No, I'm saying it actually argues in your favor in this case --
COOPER: -- which is, like, if she's trying to have a cover position --
COOPER: -- it seems odd that she would be publicly out there promoting Vladimir Putin position in classroom.
DRISCOLL: She was head of the (INAUDIBLE) in Russia before she even came here. She's been getting publicity since she's been in the U.S. for well over a year. If she were a spy -- was disclosed -- in articles online over a year ago.
COOPER: So --
DRISCOLL: According to the government's theory, her cover was blown over a year ago and she didn't leave.
COOPER: So, let me ask you that Paul Erickson, the man that she had a relationship with, is he the U.S. person number one has named in the indictment? Because it seems like he is.
DRISCOLL: I'm not going to confirm nor deny that here.
DRISCOLL: But, I think you're on the right track.
COOPER: Can you say exactly what her relationship with Erickson was, was she using him to gain access to the NRA, to Republican elite?
DRISCOLL: No, I mean, I think that they have a personal romantic relationship. And they have for about five years and they attended lots of events together over time.
COOPER: Was she using sex as a means to manipulate Erickson? Because there was some indication that she had -- there was one report she complained about being --
[20:50:01] DRISCOLL: No. And I think it's very unfortunate, the government kind of dropped those allegations without any evidence the other day in open court. I vehemently asked the government for any support for those allegations about trading sex for things because I frankly find it kind of offensive just because she's an attractive woman that that's the direction people go in. But I haven't seen any evidence of that and, you know, I think she's --
COOPER: Well, I think someone from the school said that, you know, all out of the men she hung out with seemed to be above 60 which sort of struck them as odd. But there were handwritten notes found in her apartment. In particular, one said how to respond to FSB offer to employment. How do you explain that?
DRISCOLL: Those not -- I believe those notes were found in another apartment of person one. COOPER: Right, in person one's handwriting.
DRISCOLL: In person one's handwriting. So, I don't think it's up for her to explain that. But I will say this. That as --
COOPER: The FSB is offering full employment either to subject number one, who she's in a relationship with, or to her, that's certainly again raises the questions.
DRISCOLL: I think that anyone who is Russian has to meet with the FSB when they go back and forth and frequently is asked at the airport what they're doing in America, if they had any information for the FSB. And, you know, that what would happen if the FSB approached her gun rights group or not group. I think those kind of things were discussed by her.
COOPER: But talking about employment is -- I mean if the FSB is talking about full employment, that's of concern, no?
DRISCOLL: Again, and if there were any evidence that she was employed by the FSB, you know, but there's just -- there's just none.
COOPER: Have you ever represented Erickson?
COOPER: And so bottom line, in terms of what your clients want, is it a plea deal, a return to Russia? Something else?
DRISCOLL: My client is innocent of the charges. And so what she wants to be is we're going to establish that the government cannot prove the case here. The government has brought a case into the foreign registration act, which by the way, no one was ever prosecuted under. And so essentially to registration statute saying that if you're going to do certain activities in the country, you have to register with the attorney general of the United States. So they're acknowledging that everything they did is legal under U.S. law.
COOPER: Robert Driscoll, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
DRISCOLL: Thank you.
COOPER: All right, let's check in with Chris and see what's coming up on "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's an interesting distinction legally between being innocent and the government not being able to prove a case.
COOPER: That's true, yes.
CUOMO: And usually lawyers avoid the word "innocent" because it means then you know for a fact that your client did absolutely nothing wrong. And usually there's a little bit of ethical hurdle that comes with that. So be very interesting to see what comes out in that case.
CUOMO: That was a good interview, my friend.
So, tonight we're going to be taking a look at the Cohen tapes, what they mean, what they don't mean, and why they're coming out now, which, surprise, surprise, I don't think it's a coincidence my friends. We're going to take people through that and we're going to talk about what Vladimir Putin did with his first chances to prove a friend to Trump. That's the show tonight.
COOPER: All right. Seven minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much.
Just ahead, a look at the CNN Special Report: The Trump Show, TV's New Reality. That airs at 10:00 p.m. eastern. Brian Stelter is the host. He joins us with details, next.
[20:56:22] COOPER: At 10:00 p.m. eastern tonight, a new CNN Special Report: The Trump Show, TV's New Reality. Here's a quick look.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST (voice-over): In the Trump era last minute script changes are the new reality for scripted TV.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We will see what we will see.
ALEX GANZA, CO-CREATOR, HOMELAND: There's this impulse to be relevant and to comment on what's going on.
STELTER (voice-over): Alex Ganza is the co-creator of Homeland.
(on-camera): When a big story breaks do you all talk about whether you incorporate that, how to make that a part of show?
GANZA: It's the first thing we discuss every morning in the story line, especially now when the news cycle is just so crazy.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, defending Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news tonight, a stunning shake-up at the White House.
GANZA: Is this something germane to the story that we're telling?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A porn star and a major staff departure, just another day in the Trump White House.
ILENE CHAIKEN, PRODUCER, SHOWRUNNER: We were all utterly, utterly blown away. We are all trying to adapt to Trump's America.
STELTER (voice-over): Veteran show runner Ilene Chaiken. (on-camera): Is it fair to say that Hollywood is a hub of the so- called resistance?
CHAIKEN: It's no secret that Hollywood leans progressive and there's a certain dangerous presumption that everybody that walks into the room is going to share your politics, and not everybody does.
SALENA ZITO, JOURNALIST: People feel insulted.
STELTER (voice-over): Journalist, Salena Zito.
ZITO: People in the middle of the country believe that Hollywood only portrays things in a certain way, as though they are the butt of the joke. That their views aren't respected.
COOPER: And I'm joined now by Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES".
It is fascinating to see this. I mean it's not only the Trump presidency has changed the way we cover news. Just -- I mean the news cycle itself just is umped up in a way, the speed of it now, it's not like anything I've ever seen.
STELTER: Yes. That affects Hollywood as well as us in the cable news world. It affects these show runners producing sitcoms and dramas who normally didn't care much about what was going on in Washington, but now there's this pressure, partly from the audience, to be reacting to what's going on in the real world.
COOPER: It's hard to compete though --
STELTER: Do you see that on a lot of shows.
COOPER: I mean, a lot of the stuff seems like it comes out of Hollywood, and yet, you know, they risk being left in the dust if they do a story line. And then, you know, the next week a whole new turn has taken place.
STELTER: And that's been a through line in these conversations. We spent months talking to TV's top producers, as well as critics who watch all these shows. And they said there have been a number of times that they have to rewrite scripts or rethink plot lines for example, on CBS is the Good Fight, there was a reference to Stormy Daniels suggesting though she was just a flash in the pan. People moved on. Well, as had been made clear, people not moved on from those stories.
Avenatti, Daniels always in the news. And so they had to rewrite that plot line, have change that part of the script. That's happening all the sometime now. And of course on the comedy side, we're seeing so many jokes at the President's expense. Perhaps too many lead that others to decide. But it is clear, it is true, it is clear in left- leaning Hollywood, they do feel they're part of the resistance. They're trying to standup where they believe is right at a monumental time in history.
COOPER: I'm just wondering if there's a fatigue factor either in Hollywood or among viewers, you know, people want a break from that?
STELTER: There's always a desire for escapism. But because we live in this age of peak TV, there's something for everyone. There's more shows than ever, they're talking about the President, taking him on. But there are also plenty of shows in the opposite direction. Look, I've been wanting to binge watch the Americans on FX. It recently ended. It's all about Russia, all about the Cold War. It feels like I could learn a thing or two from it now. There's a lot of shows like that that actually help you process the day's real news.
COOPER: Yes, Brian Stelter, look forward to it. 10:00 tonight. The special report, "The Trump Show, TV's New Reality. 10:00 p.m. eastern right after Chris Cuomo.
Before we go, quick reminder, don't miss our new interactive daily newscast on Facebook. You get to pick the stories we cover, you can watch full circle weeknights at 6:25 p.m. eastern. Just go to facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle. That's one word. I'll see you there on Monday again at 8:00 p.m. here obviously weekday night on CNN.
[21:00:09] The news continues. I'll hand over to Chris in "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?