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CNN TONIGHT

Trump and Cohen Conversation Out in Public's Ears; Recording between Then-Candidate Donald Trump and Michael Cohen; President Trump's Former Fixer, Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels' Lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 24, 2018 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Rudy Giuliani says that the president says do not pay with cash, use a check. Now we did not have this sweetened with an audio expert. Rudy Giuliani says he did.

But here's one point. The Trump organization n put out a statement and said cash is being used as a financing term, not a reference to green money. Whether you're paying on a one-time payment or over time, financing.

Now, if that's true, then why would Trump say the word check?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes.

CUOMO: Now it is true no payment was ever made of any kind, so this is about intentions and credibility, and this idea that you're going to hear what you want to hear, this is a tricky one. You and I both know Michael Cohen. That was Trump's guy. He had a lot of depth with the Trump base. So will they just not believe him out of allegiance to Trump when this is someone they also used to believe?

LEMON: Well, I think that's a very good position. Very good questions to ask because you asked a number of questions there. Will his base believe this? Because the Access Hollywood tape happened that was before the election, he still became president.

Remember Air Force One, where he said, no, you'll have to ask my attorney. I didn't know about it. Weeks later he admits that he knew about it. So will it make a difference with the people who support him, will they believe him, or the people he's lied to, which is the American people?

Or what does that mean for him legally? You said well, you don't think we should focus on the legal part, but if you'll just indulge me for a moment here, I don't -- it's not illegal to tape someone.

CUOMO: In New York.

LEMON: In New York. It's on party.

CUOMO: It is a one-party consent state, but it could be unethical for an attorney vis-a-vis, the bar association. That's a second consideration.

LEMON: But even if they gave up the privilege and they said, you can release it? How is that illegal? They said they could.

CUOMO: That adds a layer to the analysis about whether or not it was privileged. But there still could be an ethical duty to notify a client. But that I'm saying don't just look about criminality as the only bar of evaluation. You know, telling the truth, what is the truth, were you acting in an up and up way or where you were being shady, they may not be illegal actions but it doesn't mean that they're irrelevant to the people that you govern.

LEMON: Well, this is your scoop, right, so I want to -- I want to play it if you don't mind and you stick around and then we'll go over--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead. It makes it fair hearing it for themselves and it's yours now.

LEMON: And then I have some new information I got from people who are close to Michael Cohen. And before Lanny left the studio, I asked him to respond and I'm going to give that response. So let's play it and then you and I will talk. Here it is.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good. Let me know what's happening, OK? Maybe because of this it would be better if you didn't go, you know? Maybe because of this. For that one, you know, I think what you should do is get rid of this. Because it's so false what they're saying, it's such bullshit.

I think -- I think this goes away quickly. I think what - I think it's probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time. Yes. In two weeks, it's fine. I think right now it's, it's better. You know? OK, honey. You take care of yourself. Thanks, babe. Yes, I'm proud of you. So long. Bye.

What's happening?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Great poll, by the way.

TRUMP: Yes?

COHEN: Seen it. Great poll.

TRUMP: Making progress.

COHEN: Big time.

TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He's a good--

COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott? TRUMP: Can't believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What's, what's happening?

COHEN: No--

TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?

COHEN: Yes, a hundred -- no, you're talking about Mark Burns. He's, we've told him to--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't mean that -- Mark Burns, are we using him?

COHEN: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard left -- I'm sorry, Richard (Inaudible) just called. He -- just when you have a chance, he had an idea for you.

TRUMP: OK, great.

COHEN: So, we got served from the New York Times. I told you this regarding -- we were--

TRUMP: To what?

COHEN: To unseal the divorce papers with Ivana. We're fighting it. Kasowitz is going to --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: They should never be able to get that.

COHEN: Never. Never. Kasowitz doesn't think they'll ever be able to. They don't have a --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Get me a Coke, please!

COHEN: They don't have a legitimate purpose, so --

TRUMP: And you have a woman that doesn't want this.

COHEN: Correct.

TRUMP: So you've been handling.

COHEN: Yes. And --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And it's been going on for a while.

COHEN: For about two, three weeks now. TRUMP: All you've got to do is delay it for--

COHEN: Even after that, it's not ever going to be opened. There's no -- there's no purpose for it. I told you about Charleston. I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that - I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up and I've spoken--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Give it to me and get me a--

COHEN: And, I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: -- funding -- Yes. And it's all the stuff.

[22:05:03] TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.

COHEN: All the stuff. Because -- here, you never know where that company -- you never know what he's going to be--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.

COHEN: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be--

TRUMP: Listen, what financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay him something.

TRUMP: We'll pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.

TRUMP: Check.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: So, as Lanny said you hear with your own ears there. I mean, there is a dispute about what happened. Giuliani is saying, he's saying, no, pay with a check, but that's not what you hear on the tape. That's the pertinent part of the tape, and let me remind the viewers, this was two months before the election. What do you say, Chris?

CUOMO: I say that you don't look at it just in terms of whether a crime was committed. This is about who is telling the truth in this matter. And there are two main questions. One, did the president know about the arrangements that his lawyer was

making surrounding the payment to Karen McDougal and maybe other assets? He says the other things, we have to buy them all because -- and then Trump says maybe he gets hit by a train.

We're talking about David Pecker, the head of the Enquirer at the time. And by the way, I make no suggestion or allegation against Mr. Pecker. I'm not in any way suggesting he did anything wrong. It's just the truth of the matter asserted on this tape.

So number one, is that the president know. And the second one is the idea of what was going on with his intentionality. Did he want this done on the up and up the way his legal term asserts that he did, or was he saying pay with cash and not do not pay with cash? And then the Trump organization argument I just don't understand it if he was talking finance terms, why did he then mention a check?

LEMON: A check. Right. What does that mean? I'm glad you said that. One more time. One more time. I want people in the back to hear this. So pay close attention and then Chris and I will talk on the other side. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

COHEN: And, I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: -- funding -- Yes. And it's all the stuff.

TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.

COHEN: All the stuff. Because -- here, you never know where that company -- you never know what he's going to be--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.

COHEN: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be--

TRUMP: Listen, what financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay him something.

TRUMP: We'll pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.

TRUMP: Check?

(END VOICE CLIP) LEMON: So Chris, what it sounds like what he's saying, all the stuff that AMI has, in case, I think he's saying it's inaudible in case Pecker or someone whoever they're working with gets hit by a bus or something. Then all this information is still there for the world to see and whoever takes over next can release it, they want to make sure they get all of it before something happens.

And again, if you're saying we need to pay by cash or you want to pay by check, the check would seem like they would be financing it, right?

CUOMO: No. The financing was an awkward word used by Cohen, I think, to legitimize the conversation, frankly. Cash, check just shows that the president was open to paying and was--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He didn't want people to know about it.

CUOMO: And look, I mean, why not just do the corporate entity in the first place if that's what you wanted? Now is that illegal? Nope, and bad fact for anybody who wants to make it about illegal conduct, there was never any transaction.

So the corporation was set up but they never bought back the assets, what I'm calling the assets, which are these potentially bad stories for Trump.

But I just think it's about the truth. And this idea that you're going to look at it depending on whether you like Trump or not, that's B.S. It's just about what you believe to be true or not and what you can prove as true.

And that's why we just play the straight item. I didn't put up any translation of it because I don't want to put words into people's head. You hear it for yourself. This will be chewed on. But it doesn't matter whether you're left or right on this, it's just being reasonable and hearing what you hear and thinking about it in context. Why would Cohen say no, no, no, no, no the way he did?

LEMON: Right. Right. And you know, making that decision in real-time as someone is saying something where you said you didn't put up a transcription of it. I remember sitting here the night Donald Trump said to me, she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of wherever, and in that moment I said what do I say here? Do I put words in his mouth or in the viewer's minds or do I just let his words stand on their own?

Those are the decisions that you have to make. And I think it was very important for you just to play it and let people hear for themselves what was said.

But I do want to go back to this AMI thing about everything out. Because this wasn't just about McDougal, was it? Was this about other people who had called in trying to catch?

CUOMO: On the face of what we hear, the answer is no, it was not just about Karen McDougal. I asked Lanny Davis and he rightly skirted the question. He said, I've got my own privilege issues with my client, Michael Cohen, I can't answer that.

LEMON: Yes.

[22:09:59] CUOMO: But why would Michael Cohen -- if you play it again, he says, no, we have to get all of the things, and then they have the discussion of a, God forbid something happens to Mr. Pecker. So it wasn't just one thing. What other things that they have?

LEMON: I got to -- you know, we have to put up the response up, Chris.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: So here's triple screen on of what the Trump team is saying that he said on tape if we have that--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: This is their version of the transcript. They said, this is the transcript.

LEMON: Yes. They're saying he said, well, are you going to pay him with something? And then Donald Trump said, don't pay with cash, check. And then he says, no, no, no, I got it. But he says, and nowhere in there where it says Michael Cohen says cash. You hear Michael Cohen clearly saying--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Michael Cohen never says cash in what I hear and I know--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Check, rather. You hear him say check.

CUOMO: I never hear Michael Cohen say cash or check. I hear Donald Trump say cash and check.

LEMON: Check. Got it.

CUOMO: Now the Trump organization they have this reckoning that Trump was using some type of term of art about how to pay for things and not talking about green money. Again, then why did he mention a check if he was talking about a full payment or pro-rated or staggered payments, he wouldn't have said check.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, I spoke with some of Michael Cohen's friends. People who are close him tonight. I just want to read it specifically here. It says, "His friends say it certainly looks like he wants to tell the truth to the most important person in America right now who is seeking the truth about Trump. And you know who that is, that's Mueller.

So I asked Lanny Davis when he was on your set, I said, please come see me, I want to ask you about something that I heard. He said -- he said, I can't answer that question. There is a reason though that I keep saying the truth is on our side. And who most wants to most hear the truth from Michael Cohen?" And he said, "So I have to leave it at that and leave it unanswered."

CUOMO: Look, Lanny Davis is a very talented advocate. He's certainly a way better lawyer than I am which is why we have to do so much more homework here. But we talk to Mueller about what? You know, Mueller is investigating Russian attacks on our democracy and anybody who helped him -- anyone who help in those efforts. So what does Cohen have on any of that? I mean, that's the question.

This has nothing to do--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- with what Mueller is looking for.

LEMON: I think they're saying it's one more, it's just an indication that he wants to -- if he ask something, flip on Trump and go to the special prosecutor and tell him what he knows. But that's what this--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But flip means and although Dershowitz, you know, again, another so much more talent than mine. But he said this shows he's going to flip. Flip on what? He hasn't been charged with anything. He may not be charged with anything.

Look, you have your own relationship with Michael Cohen and I have had some wars with him when I was on New Day, but you know, I think that he has a tough battle in front of him P.R.-wise. Because he is known to the American people as Donald Trump's boy who fought against him, attacked his enemies and would do anything for him.

And now his theory is, I had to tape him, ethical or unethical, because I had to protect myself. He could have just not done whatever he thinks he needs protection from. So he's got some work to do when it comes over to winning, I think the American audience. And the truth may set him free.

LEMON: Again, depending on what state you're in, in the United States, it may be legal or it may not. It is legal here in New York, here in New York to record someone without them knowing it. Only the person doing the recording has to know. Chris, thank you so much. I'll see you tomorrow. Great job. Thank you.

Let's bring in now CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, CNN contributor John Dean, Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and the co-author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the election of Donald Trump."

Good evening to all of you. So, you heard the conversation. We want to play more of the tape. John Dean, I'm so glad you're here because you've gone through this before. A snippet of the tape. John Dean and I will talk, as well as the rest of the panel right after this. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: And, I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: -- funding -- Yes. And it's all the stuff.

TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.

COHEN: All the stuff. Because -- here, you never know where that company -- you never know what he's going to be--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.

COHEN: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be--

TRUMP: Listen, what financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay him something.

TRUMP: We'll pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.

TRUMP: Check?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So John, Michael Cohen had said at one point that he wanted to be the John Dean of the story. What's your reaction to this tape tonight?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's interesting, I'm somebody who has listened to an awful lot of tapes back in the Nixon era and more recently thousands of them for Nixon's conversations, every conversation he did on Watergate.

The only way you can really hear a tape is with a foot pedal where you can reverse and listen and listen and listen. Each time I've listened to this tape, I've heard something different or a little bit more.

[22:14:59] And what it does to me is if he wants to do what I did, having the tape to back you up is certainly nice.

I didn't know tapes were there. I suspected they were there but didn't know initially when I broke rank and started talking. Midway through my -- after my testimony is when the tapes came out. But I think this does put the lie to the Trump people on their version

of this story as I hear it. It certainly comports with what Michael has been saying, so this bolsters his truth.

LEMON: So Lanny Davis was on with Chris moments ago, and he said, you know, Trump and the people have been telling you that he didn't know about this, and on and on and on. Of course the statement tonight, you see what they said what they -- their version of what they hear on the tape.

But do you think -- how much of this will make a difference? Does it matter in the court of public opinion most or does it matter in the court of law most? How much of a play does this tape have in any of that?

DEAN: You want my reaction?

LEMON: Yes.

DEAN: My reaction is we're just getting to know who Michael is, Michael Cohen. And this is one of the introductions. That's why he obviously hired Lanny Davis who is very good with the media, and he will expose this more and more to Michael who doesn't have a good reputation going into this situation.

I think this is the sort of thing that will start to rehabilitate that, that he's a man who wants to tell the truth, and he's showing how they have tried to distort his positions even before he's come out and said a word. So I think this helps him in that regard.

LEMON: You're saying a foot pedal. In the old days that's what you would have to rewind and use a foot pedal. But I mean, Lanny Davis again on CNN saying over and over listen to this--

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: He still use foot pedal.

LEMON: Yes. Listen to this yourself and you come up with what you believe is being said there. So Kaitlan, what does this relate -- what does release, the release of this tape mean for the president? What's the response there, anything?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Don, there is no response yet but it means the White House won't be able to deny that the president was well aware and involved in these discussions about paying someone to stay silent about her allegations of an affair with the president, which is something they've done in the past.

They did it very adamantly with Stormy Daniels, as you'll recall, and that really blew up in the face of a lot of White House officials who had maintained that the president had no idea about that payment, nothing to do with it, and then Rudy Giuliani, his attorney, went on television and said, actually, the president did know about it and he helped facilitate that payment by repaying Michael Cohen. You have noticed that in the weeks that they've been asked about Karen

McDougal, this woman who allegedly she had an affair, a longstanding affair with the president, the White House has not issued those kinds of defenses of the president.

Just this week Sarah Sanders was asked if the president maintains he did not have an affair with Karen McDougal. Sarah Sanders did not say no, which was very telling in and of itself. Instead she said that the president maintains he's done nothing wrong, and then she referred questions to Rudy Giuliani.

It seems that the White House has learned that they got burned after they said the president didn't know anything about Stormy Daniels, then they found out he did. They are not issuing that same kind of defense when it comes to Karen McDougal.

LEMON: OK. So Mr. Isikoff, all along the president has denied the affair through his spokespeople and so on. So this tape appears, and correct me if I'm wrong, confirmation that he did have some sort of something with her and that he conspired with Michael Cohen to cover it up?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, I didn't hear any reference to Karen McDougal much less an affair with Karen McDougal on the tape. So obviously there is a lot more that preceded this and a lot more that followed it. And it's very hard from this somewhat ambiguous tape to draw any conclusions.

Yes, it does appear that Donald Trump uses the word cash and that is suggestive and maybe embarrassing to the president. Although against all the other things, you know, that the president has said that have proven to be untrue, I'm not sure how much of this stacks up.

Legally, look, the only way this is a legal matter is if this was somehow done in the context of the election. And that payments were made that amounted to an illegal campaign contribution.

For one thing, apparently no money was paid, at least not that we know, and I certainly didn't hear any reference to the election on the tape. So as a legal matter, I'm just not quite sure what this adds up to.

LEMON: Yes. This was shortly before the election. The timing is important as well.

ISIKOFF: The timing is important, but to make a criminal case, you've got to prove that was exactly what was on their minds.

LEMON: Kaitlan, thank you very much. Michael, John, I want you to stick around. We've got much more on the breaking news tonight. More revelations from the secret tape obtained exclusively by CNN of candidate Trump and Michael Cohen discussing how they would buy rights to a Playboy model a story and what she says was an affair with Trump. We'll be right back.

[22:20:12] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: We're back now with our breaking news. It's a CNN exclusive. The secret recording between then-candidate Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen discussing how they would buy the rights to a Playboy model's story about her alleged affair with Trump years earlier that happened back in 2006.

I want to bring in now again, Mike Isikoff and John Dean.

John, are you surprise the president attorney's waived attorney-client privilege on Trump's behalf regarding this recording, this secret recording?

DEAN: I think they were worried about come what may. They might have been worried about the potential of the crime fraud exception and to make sure that issue wasn't even litigated. They just put it out there feeling they could talk their way or walk or talk their way around it.

So I am not surprised they waived. Nixon happened to waive with me before I testified. That was a smart move because the crime fraud situation certainly was there.

LEMON: I want to just play again the pertinent part of this tape where they are discussing this payment. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Great poll, by the way.

TRUMP: Yes?

COHEN: Seen it. Great poll.

TRUMP: Making progress.

COHEN: Big time.

TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He's a good--

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?

TRUMP: Can't believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What's, what's happening?

COHEN: No--

TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?

COHEN: Yes, a hundred -- no, you're talking about Mark Burns. He's, we've told him to--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't mean that -- Mark Burns, are we using him?

COHEN: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard left -- I'm sorry, Richard (Inaudible) just called. He -- just when you have a chance, he had an idea for you.

TRUMP: OK, great.

COHEN: So, we got served from the New York Times. I told you this regarding -- we were--

TRUMP: To what?

COHEN: To unseal the divorce papers with Ivana. We're fighting it. Kasowitz is going to--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: They should never be able to get that.

COHEN: Never. Never. Kasowitz doesn't think they'll ever be able to. They don't have a--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Get me a Coke, please!

COHEN: They don't have a legitimate purpose, so--

TRUMP: And you have a woman that doesn't want this.

COHEN: Correct.

TRUMP: So you've been handling.

COHEN: Yes. And--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And it's been going on for a while.

COHEN: For about two, three weeks now.

TRUMP: All you've got to do is delay it for--

COHEN: Even after that, it's not ever going to be opened. There's no -- there's no purpose for it. I told you about Charleston. I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that -- I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up and I've spoken--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Give it to me and get me a--

COHEN: And, I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with-- (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: -- funding -- Yes. And it's all the stuff.

TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.

COHEN: All the stuff. Because -- here, you never know where that company -- you never know what he's going to be--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.

COHEN: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be--

TRUMP: Listen, what financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay him something.

TRUMP: We'll pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.

[22:25:01] TRUMP: Check?

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: All right. So Michael, here -- this is a statement from Giuliani on Friday. He said "Cohen is talking about buying the rights from AMI, American Media, Inc. They're talking about a corporation doing it, one of their corporations doing it. The president says make sure it's done correctly and make sure it's done by check." Is that what you hear, Michael?

ISIKOFF: No. I did not. That seems like a creative interpretation of what was on the tape. But, you know, a couple things do leap out. You know, Trump seemed a little surprised when I listened to it again about financing. What financing? You know, I think his guard is up a little bit there. Wait, I'm going to have to shell out for this?

But, you know, look, you want to know so much more about obviously conversations had to have preceded this about what all that other stuff was. You know, we don't know.

But I just want to come back to -- as a legal matter, because I do -- you know, look, there are serious questions whether this Justice Department, given the existing OLC opinion would ever charge the president with a crime, anyway.

But the only crime that's been identified in all of this so far is that illegal campaign contribution issue, and you know, like I said, I'm not sure this advances the ball much on that. You know, the other matter that struck me in listening to Chris'

interview with Lanny Davis was the one matter where Cohen factors into the Russia investigation where there was the claim that he flew to Prague and met with Russian operatives about paying off hackers.

Lanny Davis -- even now when Michael Cohen is doing everything to assert the truth and distance himself from Donald Trump, I heard Lanny Davis say there was absolutely no truth to that.

So in terms of the Russia investigation, Michael Cohen is not flipped in a way that's going to help Robert Mueller, at least on that which was one of the more sensational allegations in the Steele dossier.

LEMON: So Listen, John, the president reacted to the story that Michael Cohen had secretly taped him when it first came out. And he tweeted this. He said, "Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office early in the morning. Almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client totally unheard of and perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite president did nothing wrong."

So, John, you know, we said it before but it's worth saying again, the president is wrong when he says the government broke into his lawyer's office. As a matter of fact, Michael Cohen talked about how professional they were, even thanked them when they left. He even said they didn't break into his office.

What do you make of this tweet in light of what we learned tonight? Because it's not illegal to tape someone in New York so what do you--

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: That's correct.

LEMON: And do you think it's unethical?

DEAN: You know something, every time I've heard this tape, I have thought it is not a telephone conversation we're listening to. We hear him having a conversation on the side, then we hear a lot of room noises. We hear other people shouting and having a sort of sub side conversation. I don't think this is a telephone conversation, Don. I think that he was recorded in his office.

LEMON: I think that -- in the office.

DEAN: Yes.

LEMON: But even still, but that's -- even still if you're recording someone not on the phone--

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: Well, I haven't looked up -- I've not looked up the New York law.

LEMON: I think one party consent -- I'm not an attorney, but I think one-party consent is one-party consent, no matter that you're on the phone or in person.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: Yes, I mean, and there are some exceptions, but this is a room.

LEMON: Right.

DEAN: This is bugging a room, possibly. So that might raise a different issue if this isn't a telephone call. It does raise also -- New York is kind of confused. The American Bar Association came out and said it is not unethical for a lawyer to record a conversation with a client unaware that -- if it's all right with the state law.

New York City bar came out against that ABA position and took exception to it. So there are ethical issues that he faces on this. But again, as I say, I really wonder if this is a telephone conversation.

LEMON: Yes. It's interesting, because it has been said Donald Trump will record people in his office. What if these are his tapes?

DEAN: Well, that's a possibility, too, that he was aware of it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What do you think of that, Michael?

ISIKOFF: I'm not quite sure how the prosecutors would have gotten it or Lanny Davis would have gotten it. It is worth -- look, when the first reports on this tape surfaced at the end of last week, it was not entirely clear where the tape -- how the tape had emerged, who had leaked it.

[22:30:09] I think it's pretty clear now that it's Lanny Davis who's giving out the tape. He provided it to CNN. And what that tells me is that Michael Cohen does not yet have a deal with federal prosecutors.

Because if he did, this tape we wouldn't be hearing this tape. The prosecutors would not want this tape out. This is a plea to get a deal for prosecutors. And Michael Cohen's legal team is putting it out there to sort of tantalize prosecutors, telling them, in effect, we can fill in all the blanks for you. So give us a deal.

LEMON: Michael, John, thank you so much, gentlemen. I appreciate it. When we come back, the Trump organization responds to our CNN exclusive, the Cohen-Trump tape, plus, another CNN exclusive, why Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti reportedly asked for a meeting with Michael Cohen. Is a settlement on the table? Michael Avenatti is going to join me at top of our next hour.

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LEMON: The Trump organization responding tonight to our CNN exclusive, the Cohen-Trump tape. And we have another CNN exclusive tonight. It involves President Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti. I want to bring in now CNN National Political Reporter, MJ Lee, and CNN Reporter, Kara Scannell.

Thank you so much for joining us. Listen, Kara. I understand that the Trump organization has responded to the release of this tape. What are they saying about it?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Don. So the Trump organization has told us in a statement tonight that when there is the reference to the word cash on the tape, which itself is money, as you've explained. That the reference is not to bags of cash, it's not to green currency. What the Trump organization is saying is that this would have been like a cash payment, not a financing scheme.

But it still would have been followed through the proper protocol of heavily lawyered documents, lawyers on both sides negotiating the terms of this, not that there were bags of cash walking around. Of course, Lanny Davis made the reference of (Inaudible) used cash are drug dealers and mobsters. So they're saying that this is not what they're talking about.

[22:35:02] It doesn't explain why we hear or why Giuliani, another one of Trump's lawyers, saying that Trump used the word check. So that's still a mystery and its still (Inaudible) money in this context, Don.

LEMON: So Kara, you know we're going to speak Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti in just a little bit. But I know he's already responded to this situation, specifically referencing Lanny Davis' interview on CNN earlier tonight?

SCANNELL: That's right, Don. So Michael Avenatti put out a statement on Twitter, where he tweeted about this Lanny Davis' comment. Of course, Avenatti is very interested in this because he represents Stormy Daniels and they have sued Michael Cohen. So in this tweet, Avenatti says Mr. Davis is a good lawyer, but his client Mr. Cohen is not innocent nor is he a victim.

He is a co-conspirator, dishonest thug who continues to refuse to come clean and do the right thing. They are playing you and aiming for a pardon. Where is the rest of the evidence and tapes?

LEMON: Interesting. MJ, to you now, on this subject, I know you have some new reporting about the proposed meeting between Michael Avenatti and Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. What are you learning?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: So what we're learning is that Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, requested a meeting with Michael Cohen and his lawyer last week to discuss a possible settlement between Cohen and the adult film star. This is according to one of Cohen's lawyers, Brent Blakely. Just to remind everyone, Stormy Daniels says that she had an affair

with Donald Trump in 2006.

Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 before the 2016 election to keep quiet about that alleged affair. She is now suing President Trump as well as Michael Cohen. Now Blakely, this lawyer who is representing Cohen on the Stormy Daniels' related matters. He tells CNN exclusively today that Avenatti asked Cohen and Blakely to meet in person in New York to discuss a settlement between Daniels and Cohen.

Now, Blakely says the meeting was set for this week but that he subsequently canceled that meeting after Avenatti went on television this weekend and suggested that Cohen and his lawyers were open to cooperating with Avenatti. So for now, Don, that meeting seems to be off.

LEMON: What is Avenatti saying?

LEE: Well, Avenatti is vehemently denying that he asked for a meeting to discuss a settlement, saying it is Blakely's claim rather is completely false and designed to help Cohen get a pardon from Mr. Trump. Now, when we pressed him on the key question, which is whether he and his client, Stormy Daniels, would be open to a settlement with Michael Cohen.

Here's what Avenatti said. He said, quote, we don't do settlements with people who continue to lie to the American people, which is what Michael Cohen wants to do. He needs to stop playing games, in courting a pardon from Donald Trump and do the right thing. Now of course, it's really important to note that the Stormy Daniels lawsuits are an entirely separate from the criminal investigation into Michael Cohen taking place in New York.

He has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but of course, we know that investigators have their hands on millions of documents, of recordings. This, of course, is one them and other files that the FBI seized earlier this year. And Cohen is still obviously waiting to find out his fate in that criminal investigation.

LEMON: MJ and Kara, great reporting, thank you very much. I appreciate it. When we come back, much more on the explosive breaking news, a secret recording obtained by CNN of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen discussing how they would buy the rights to a Playboy model's story about an alleged affair with Trump.

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[22:40:00] LEMON: We're back now with our CNN exclusive. We have obtained the recording between then candidate Donald Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen, discussing how to buy the rights to a Playboy model's story, alleging an affair with Trump.

So let's bring in now CNN's Senior Political Analyst, Mark Preston, and Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot. Gentlemen, good evening.

Mr. Preston, you first, let me get your reaction to this breaking news we have been listening to. You remember we were on live that night for the Hollywood -- the Access Hollywood tape, and now here we are. Do you think this is damaging to the President?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Don, let's go back to that night. I said it was all over for Donald Trump. I didn't think he would be able to continue on with his campaign. We saw Republicans come out and say he's got to step aside. Look where we are right now. And honestly, I don't think this is going to have much effect on anything, unless there is some criminality proven that they were trying to use as some kind of a campaign donation or somehow related to the campaign.

And they did not acknowledge it. But even if that is the case, it's probably still not enough for really President Trump to get in a whole lot of trouble.

LEMON: Yeah. So, Max, Rudy Giuliani is disputing the content. What's your read on this?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's very hard to take seriously anything that Rudy Giuliani says at this point, because he just makes wild claims. And obviously, this tape further confirms that what we basically know, which is that Donald Trump is a liar. And it's pretty obvious that he was involved in these payoffs to the playmate, as well as to the porn star.

And his denials just have no credibility whatsoever. The thing I would add, Don, though, is that I think this is only the tip of a very large iceberg involving Michael Cohen. And remember, there is a lot of other stuff involving Michael Cohen, including his consulting business where he was said to have solicited a $1 million fee from the government of Qatar to try to influence the Trump administration.

He got money from Viktor Vekselberg, this Russian oligarch for purposes that we can only guess at. So he was involved in a lot of shady dealings, essentially working as a lobbyist, at the same time that he was working as the President's lawyer. And so that in itself is highly suspect. He probably -- he may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He's under FBI investigation.

He knows a lot of things about the President, and this could be kind of a warning shot across the bow of Rudy Giuliani and of Donald Trump showing how much Michael Cohen knows and how much damage he can do to them.

[22:44:59] LEMON: Speaking about how much Michael Cohen knows when the President, the candidate at the time doesn't seem like -- that he is surprised or he doesn't know about what Michael Cohen is bringing to him. I want you to listen to this and then we'll respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding -- yes. And it's all the stuff, all the stuff. Because you never know where that company, never know where he's going to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could get hit by a truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it when it comes to the financing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What financing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to pay. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cash?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Mark, the President has denied this. But it seems like he's not surprised. He seems like he knows exactly what Michael Cohen is talking about. He denied the Stormy Daniels incident as well or alleged affair, and now this. It appears he knew about this one as well.

PRESTON: Oh, there is no question about that, Don. I mean look, we could sit here and talk ourselves blue about how much Donald Trump lies. And you know we'll hold up a red apple and tell you it's a green apple, and damn well you better listen to him and it better be a green apple that comes out of your mouth.

But what I do think is interesting about that conversation and it's going to take a little bit of time to kind of dissect all these words and kind of piece them together. A couple things, even if it was cash or if it was check through a shell corporation, you're still trying to hide something. It's the same purpose to try to hide a payment.

So that in and of itself is pretty devious. But again, 10 years ago, heck, 5 years ago, this would destroy a politician's life. It would destroy a presidency. Donald Trump just seems to thrive off of it.

BOOT: Don, one of the things that jumped out at me is the extent to which Donald Trump was actually involved in the nitty-gritty and the details. He was not taking a hands-off attitude towards this sort of backroom dealing. He wanted to know exactly what was going on. And I suspect that was part of a larger pattern which well may have extended to the possible help that the Russian government in fact (Inaudible) Russian government gave the Trump campaign in 2016 in winning the election.

You know we know a lot of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, 82 documented contacts at this point. The question is how much did Donald Trump know and when did he know it. And what this suggests to me is he may actually know more than a lot of people think, that he may actually not have been so hands off, he may well have been involved in a lot of sordid dealings beyond (Inaudible) payoffs to the alleged mistresses.

LEMON: Michael Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis says Cohen is trying to come clean, trying to be honest now. Set the record straight for him and his country. But he is known as his fixer, as a guy who would do -- as he said he said I would take a bullet for Donald Trump at one point. Is that believable now, Mark, that he's repairing his reputation and he wants to come clean? What do you think?

PRESTON: Don, honestly, I was going to interrupt you at one point and bring up this point and tie together what Max had said about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen knows a lot right now. And what Lanny Davis said on behalf of Michael Cohen just last hour here on CNN about how he's a changed man and you know how he's evolving.

Bottom line right now is that Michael Cohen is in a lot of trouble. He has a lot of investigations against him right now. And in the end, Donald Trump is not going to be the one he's taking a bullet for. He's going to take a bullet for his wife and his children as any normal person.

LEMON: So you don't think he's seen the light, Max?

BOOT: It's hard to know what the heck is going on there. But what's obvious from this is that you know Michael Cohen has gone renegade, essentially. He's not being a good soldier anymore. He's not being the guy, as was just suggested, who is going to take the fall for Donald Trump. He's going to look out for number one, himself.

And that could spell very big trouble for Donald Trump. Because it's obvious that Michael Cohen knows a heck of a lot about Donald Trump's private business dealings that Donald Trump has strived so hard to keep secret by not releasing his tax returns, not releasing his business records. Michael Cohen, I suspect knows where a lot of the bodies are buried. And so I would suspect that Donald Trump is going to sweating and tweeting up a storm before long in response to these revelations.

LEMON: Max, Mark, thank you very much. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:00] LEMON: We've got more now on our breaking news, a CNN exclusive, the audiotape of candidate Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen discussing how to buy the rights to a Playboy model's story, alleging an affair with Trump. That affair was alleged back in 2006. Joining me now is CNN's Global Affairs Analyst, Susan Glasser.

Susan, good evening to you, very interesting night here, and this recording, I want to get your reaction to this recording between Cohen and Donald Trump. What are the consequences for the President?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you know I think you have had some smart commentators who already pointed out that it clearly represents a significant message from Cohen and his legal team, Lanny Davis, a veteran of high stakes legal and political fights like this. Of course, it's a message to President Trump that Cohen is no longer on the team, that he is clearly signaling he knows lots of significant, potentially damaging revelations that he can make against the President.

I guess one question I have is why now. Why are they releasing the tape right now? Is this a message that is aimed at the prosecutors? Is it about Cohen trying to you know get a plea bargain or a deal of some sort with the prosecutors? Or is it fundamentally a message for Donald Trump and his legal team or perhaps to both?

But clearly, that seems to be the intent. It is a fragmentary tape. We don't have the full context surrounding it. So it's hard to draw you know hard and fast substantive judgments about what's in there. But clearly, it's revelatory.

LEMON: Well, it is -- we have to remember too, this Michael Cohen case is in the hands of the southern district of New York. And it is separate and apart from the Robert Mueller investigation, although he recommended or sent the information over to the southern district you know in the first place. But do you think this could have any consequences for the Mueller probe?

GLASSER: Well, you know, of course, that's the question that immediately leapt to my mind. Tonight, I'm hearing the information about this tape. What is on the other tapes? What other information does Michael Cohen have, that if he's really broken ranks firmly with President Trump. The guy he said he would take a bullet for, you know, does he have more information that would be relevant to the Mueller investigation?

[22:54:54] I know Lanny Davis made a point of you know denying this allegation that's in the Steele dossier related to Michael Cohen, and the alleged trip that he took to Prague according to that dossier. But he didn't speak -- Lanny Davis didn't speak to the broader question of does Michael Cohen have information relevant perhaps about Donald Trump's financial dealings, any financial connections to Russians, for example, that might eventually turn up in the Mueller investigation.

That's the natural question. You know someone pointed out that politically speaking, it's unclear the damage that might come from this, simply because it seems like many people have probably already assumed that the allegations about President Trump, then candidate Trump, knowing about these alleged payoffs in 2016 -- most people have sort of already...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Built into it.

GLASSER: Exactly.

LEMON: It's built into the sauce. Thank you, Susan, I appreciate your time.

GLASSER: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, the tale of the tape, CNN exclusively obtaining the secret audio between candidate Donald Trump and Michael Cohen as they discuss buying the rights to a Playboy model's story about her alleged affair with Trump. Stick with us. You're going to want to hear more.

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