Return to Transcripts main page
White House Bans CNN Reporter; A Push to Impeach Rod Rosenstein from Republicans; Pompeo Grilled by Lawmakers over the Helsinki Summit; Trump-Putin Washington Summit Postponed; Michael Cohen's Conversations with Trump; Donald Trump's Secret Audio Tapes. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired July 25, 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)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: When we want you, as you said, we want the people who are watching us, the American people to critique us, to give us feedback. We welcome it. And also when we get it wrong, what do we do, we apologize and we correct it.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That's what you're supposed to do.
LEMON: That's what you're supposed to do. This administration doesn't do that.
CUOMO: It's pretty become a rare commodity--
CUOMO: -- politically here. But I'm just happy you are back. You are outward dumb on Friday night. You had no more hope. You were like, you're not really sure. You called me naive.
CUOMO: I don't think I remember.
LEMON: It's just -- it's just I think this we keep saying, Chris, honestly, this isn't who we are. Well, it is. This is who we are.
CUOMO: It's part of who we are.
LEMON: Except the president of the United States. These are people, we see people out yelling at each other, calling each other names.
CUOMO: Yes. Yes.
LEMON: Shouting. You know, we see the Internet, people with Internet muscles or Twitter muscles and their bullies.
CUOMO: Yes. LEMON: And they're getting it from the top. So I can't be as positive as you, because I've been on this earth a little bit longer than you and I've never seen this. And I hope we can get back to some degree of normalcy. But I'm not so sure after this. We may have, you break it, you bought it. Yes.
CUOMO: I may be younger than you, stronger and according to your mom, better looking.
LEMON: Not as good looking.
CUOMO: But I'm just taking it I just take it as a fact as a source. But I tell you what I got a lot of miles on odometer. And I know that the ugliness is real.
CUOMO: And you are right, any friend. But the beauty is too. And we see it here. We got to call it out of ourselves and we have to make it more available for everybody. We'll be better if we can do that. I believe that.
LEMON: I agree. I'm going to need a second source on that mom thing because I know--
CUOMO: She's on the phone right now. Hello?
LEMON: Who's the coolest? Who does your daughter think is the coolest?
CUOMO: Tie doesn't matches suit.
LEMON: The coolest on CNN. Who's your daughter--
CUOMO: My daughter does have a weird thing from you -- for you. I believe some therapy will fix it.
LEMON: That's it. We're done. See you, Chris. You have a smart daughter. Very bright. See you tomorrow.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
President Trump's allies heating up their feuds tonight with the Justice Department. Congressman Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan introducing a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. We'll have much more on that in just a moment. So stay tuned.
And it comes as the White House is under the gun on multiple fronts. There's the fallout from the bomb shell revelation right here on CNN last night of the secret tape of then candidate Trump and Michael Cohen discussing how to buy the story of a Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump.
President Trump blasting his former attorney. More to come on that as well. And one expert says is really on that tape.
That is as Secretary of State Mike -- Mike Pompeo was hammered on Capitol Hill today over what was said when the president met with Vladimir Putin behind closed doors last week and why he's refusing to reveal that to senators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Has the president told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour closed door meeting in Helsinki?
Has the president told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour, closed-door meeting in Helsinki?
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: The president has a prerogative to choose who's in meetings or not. I'm confident you've had 2private one-on-one meetings in your life as well. You've chosen that setting as the most efficient way to--
MENENDEZ: I just asked you a simple question. Did you--
POMPEO: I just--
MENENDEZ: You can't get (Ph) my seven minutes, Mr. Secretary, did you -- did he tell you whether or not, what happened in those two hours?
POMPEO: Yes, senator. The predicate of your question implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. I completely disagree--
MENENDEZ: I didn't ask you a predicate. I ask you simple question. I hope we're going to get to it. Did he tell you what transpired in this two-hour meeting?
POMPEO: I've had a number of conversations with President Trump about what transpired in the meeting, I was also president when -- present when he and President Putin both gave us a sense of what they discussed in the meeting that followed immediately after.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And speaking of Russia, the White House announcing that the second summit with Vladimir Putin, the one the president sprung on the administration last week, apparently with absolutely no warning, well, it won't actually happen until next year.
National security advisor John Bolton offering what may be the Trumpist excuse ever. Claiming the president thinks the meeting should happen, quote, "after the Russia witch hunt is over." The Russia investigation is no witch hunt and it might take a while whether the president likes it or not.
But the real reason for the summit postponement just might be the Kremlin's failure to accept, to actually accept the invitation. So how does the White House respond in the face of questions they don't like? Questions about Russia. Questions about Michael Cohen. How do you think this president would respond? Just one day after telling you not to believe what you see and hear from the press. Apparently, he's not brave enough to answer for himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
COLLINS: Mr. President, did Michael Cohen betray you?
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.
COLLINS: Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Not only did the president not have an answer after the White House -- after the White House banned the questioner. CNN's Kaitlan Collins banned her from a Rose Garden event. Sarah Sanders later issuing a statement claiming our reporter quote, "shouted questions and refused to leave despite being asked to do so."
[22:04:57] Let me state this is the obvious, let me state the obvious where Kaitlan Collins is doing her job. She was doing her job. It is her job to ask questions of the president even if he doesn't like those questions.
It is standard operating procedure for reporters to ask the president questions. Sometimes he answers, sometimes he doesn't answer. There's nothing unusual about Kaitlan Collins doing her job. It is unusual for the White House to ban her for doing her job.
In her statement, Sarah Sanders went on to claim the White House supports a free press. Odd way of showing it, don't you think?
All right. So let's get to our guest now. Let's bring in CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, also CNN political analysts April Ryan and Kirsten Powers, and Republican strategist Rick Wilson.
Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us.
April, before we get into the rest of this, let's start with the White House banning of Kaitlan Collins who was representing all the networks, right? She's a pool reporter asking questions. They said that--
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, she is.
LEMON: -- she didn't -- you know, they didn't like the question she asked. What's your reaction as a member of the White House press corps?
RYAN: Kaitlan Collins, bravo. You know, Kaitlan, the last time we went that briefing room the question she asked a battery of questions that were real and that were tough. They were not biased and they have taken no. And to look at that picture of the president's new communications person, to stand there with his hands crossed as if to say he wanted to intimidate her.
This White House has a problem with people asking questions. The real questions, not questions that they like, but the real questions that puts them against the wall to really have to give some real answers.
I mean, you've seen it with me. They stopped -- Sarah Huckabee stopped calling on me and she won't even answer my questions. But you know, this is -- this is a White House that likes to retaliate against reporters. And not only that.
I find it very curious also that Chris Cuomo had the exclusive with the tape. The president was not happy about that as well. And of course, the first lady wants to get the truth so she is watching CNN and the president is upset.
Sp all this culminates at the same time. Kaitlan did her job and other reporters. I love the fact that other reporters are standing with her. And this is what we need. We need to go back to the days of Helen Thomas, Sam Donaldson, Ann Compton, Bill Plante, and Mark Knoller. It's gone. We need to get that back.
This is a president of the United States with the fourth of state with the first line of questioning in American president. If you shut us down, the American public does not find out the answers.
LEMON: Rick, I have some questions for you but I saw your face when as April was giving her response there. And it seems like you want to respond to it.
RYAN: I love Rick.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. I just want -- I want to stand up here and just say we all know Kaitlan. She's a pro. And those questions were determined and professional.
WILSON: They weren't excessive. And you know, this was snow flake Donny needing his safe space and a crying pillow because someone asked him something that he wasn't prepared for -- overreacted.
LEMON: And these are tough, though, questions, Rick.
WILSON: They were. And of course they were. They were right on target. They weren't something -- and it wasn't -- it wasn't unprofessional. It wasn't rude. You know, I'm sorry.
RYAN: I know.
WILSON: If you want to be president of the United States and you want to pretend that you're this big silver back swaggering, you know, alpha male, well, you ought to be ready to face the questions that the representatives of the people are going to ask you.
LEMON: I just want -- Kirsten, I want to see if you want to get in before I move on because I have so much to talk about. Do you want to respond to this?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think we're probably on the same page about this that Kaitlan clearly didn't do anything wrong. They claim she was shouting. She was just, you know, talking like any reporter I've ever heard in a pool spray and asking very basic questions.
LEMON: And Kirsten, it's not -- it's not just Kaitlan. Listen, Kaitlan, it started with Kaitlan but you have to cut it off before it continues to go on.
LEMON: I think it's important that all news organizations stand up for each other. Go on. Sorry.
POWERS: Right. Well, no. And so I think they are being bullies and they're trying to intimidate her. I think that she's extremely fair reporter. But she is a very tough reporter. And I think this was an attempt to try to intimidate her.
Now it's going to backfire, I think. Because I don't think she is going to be intimidated. But there's no question that's what they were trying to do here and basically say don't do it again.
LEMON: OK. Let's move on to more news. Manu--
RYAN: Don, real quick.
LEMON: I got to get to more news. Listen--
RYAN: Don, just--
LEMON: Go ahead. Quickly please.
RYAN: We're not Russia. We're not China. This is what they do over there. This is the United States of America. The First Amendment, freedom of speech is built into the Constitution. This president was sworn in on inauguration day to uphold the Constitution. This is part of Constitution. That's it.
LEMON: Thank you very much. So, President Trump's conservative allies, Manu, in Congress moving to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Is this just a political move? How likely is this actually to happen?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very unlikely that this is going to pass the House and get approved by the Senate. The Senate of course, would have to convict which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. And I can tell you there's virtually no support among the Senate Republican for this.
[22:09:58] And then, the House Republicans are actually divided about the notion of impeachment. This is really being pushed by a faction of House Republicans, particularly the conservative and the House Freedom Caucus who have been driving this fight with Rod Rosenstein.
Because of their concerns they say that Rod Rosenstein has not complied with a wide range of request subpoenas related to the Clinton e-mail investigation, related to the Russia probe that they believe has not been done properly.
But the Justice Department will come back and say look, we have provided 880,000 pages of documents to Capitol Hill. We have been cooperating to Capitol Hill. That what the Republicans are doing is essentially moving the goal post.
Now Democrats are coming out tonight and saying their concern is this, is all part of an effort to under the Mueller investigation and give the president pretext perhaps to fire Rod Rosenstein because he oversees the Mueller investigation.
That's not what the conservatives are saying tonight, Don. They say that this is just an effort to get them to comply with their request. But we'll see how this plays out. But right now Republicans are divided about this step going forward.
LEMON: Look, Democrats are saying they're concerned that -- I mean, Kirsten, isn't it obvious. Can you look at it any other way other than an attempt to try to kneecap Mueller's investigation?
POWERS: Yes, it's the same thing. It's the same thing we were just talking about basically. It's just a different, you know, it's a different situation. But it's them trying to intimidate people to doing what they want.
And these are kind of things that, you know, we just typically don't see. And I think that there's just we gotten to this point where there's no standard that Republicans and the White House won't blow through in an attempt to try to get people to do what they want to do.
LEMON: Yes. Rick, you're a Republican and I have to asked you to what happened to Capitol Hill being a check on the president? It seems like they are doing -- they are trying to do the president's bidding. WILSON: Don, it's one of the things that I've been thinking about for
about two years now. I wrote a lot about it in my book. It is, that they have abandoned their constitutional role as a co-equal branch of government with a responsibility and an authority to oversee and to check the executive branch.
I mean, for these guys who pretend that, you know, that they wear Constitution underwear at night they have completely walked away from the role of Congress as anything but a cheer squad for Donald Trump.
I mean, these guys are supposed to have on green eyes shades and take a hard look at the actions of the executive, not pom-poms. And this behavior by, particularly by the Freedom Caucus guys. You know, look, I think Manu is exactly right.
I spoke to a senior leadership aide tonight who just laughed when I brought it up if it's going to hit the floor if it had any chance of going to the Senate. He dismissed it completely.
But these guys they've been given free rein by Paul Ryan to act this way, to be out there running around and engage in the sort of Asse mine, you know, this jackassery that they're engage in, because you know, they have completely abandoned the fact that, two things. That they are supposed to be as a body, a co-equal branch of government and that as representatives of their states and the people in their states and districts that they are supposed to represent the needs of the people back in their district in their states.
And they're not doing any of those things. They have gone there and it's now a contest to be who can be on Donny's good list and who can get on Fox News enough to spit -- you know, cue a non-conspiracy lunacy.
LEMON: I want everybody to stick around. And Manu, when we come back I want to talk to you about Mike Pompeo on the hot seat to say, really taking the heat for the president's policy, his policies. We'll be right back right after this break.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back with me now, Manu Raju, April Ryan, Kirsten Powers, and Rick Wilson. So, Manu, to you first as promised, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the hot seat today. Did frustrated senators get answers about what was actually discussed in that Trump-Putin one-on-one?
RAJU: Short answer, no, Don. I mean, Republicans and Democrats emerged from this hearing, even allies of this president saying that we don't really know exactly what happened in this meeting.
Now what Pompeo said over and over again was that the policy had not changed on some key issues like sanctions against Russia. There were a number of questions about whether or not sanctions, easing sanctions were discussed between Putin and Trump.
And time and again he pushed back and said he didn't want to get into that discussion because this is a private discussion between leaders. He said it's appropriate to have that private discussion. He didn't want to discuss what he privately talking with Trump.
But he did acknowledge that there was some discussion about Syria. But then when there's questions about whether or not there was a discussion about drawing down U.S. troops from Syria, discussion between Trump and Putin about that and the particular subject, he pushed back even telling Jeanne Shaheen, the senator from New Hampshire that that's not the mood of the question you want to be asking, the senator.
The question is, are we changing U.S. policy and that answer is no. I can tell you members did not take that particularly well. Bob Corker, the Senate foreign relations committee chairman told me afterwards that there's no real clarity on this hearing.
And you heard his comments from the outs of this hearing. He was harshly critical at the president for the president's comments confusing allies, confusing the world and saying it's not in line what the administration is doing. And Pompeo pushed back rather aggressively on that specific topic as well. So it was rather contentious but not really shining any light about what exactly happened last week in Helsinki, Don.
LEMON: Listen, Secretary Pompeo serves at the pleasure of the president, Kirsten, but he really works for -- they all do work for the American people. And I think they need to be reminded of that a lot. But I'm wondering if he was -- if he was serving an audience of one. Watch this and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: The president calls the ball. And the president called the ball over 200 times to sanction Russian entities. There were statements from the United States government of which President Trump is very clearly in charge.
The president calls the ball. His statements are in fact policy.
I think the president has been unambiguously clear.
Senator Flake, you gave me too much credit. I'm doing my level best every day to implement the president's policies. This president runs this government. His statements are--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So this is how I watched the hearings today, Kirsten. I imagine the president to be sitting in the seat of the questioner especially when it was a Republican asking the question. I said, OK. Now if the president -- or if there was a Republican asking him a question, and saying they're talking to the president. Everybody here is talking to the president. Audience of one? [22:20:00] POWERS: Yes. So I mean, what he seems like is a good
little soldier, right. He's just doing what he's told and he's not questioning it. When I don't believe for one second that he thinks it's normal for the president of the United States to be meeting one- on-one with enemies of the United States whether it's Kim Jong-un or whether it's Vladimir Putin.
But he knows that he has to sit there and say all of this. And the fact he can't really address anything that happened in the meeting is very problematic. Donald Trump is the president. He's not the king. He is representing the United States. He's not in there just as Donald Trump.
And so, really the fact that Republicans aren't screaming more about the fact -- aren't screaming at all frankly about the fact that he's meeting alone with these people is astonishing.
LEMON: Rick, I got some poll numbers, some new poll numbers out for you today. And I want to -- this is approval numbers. Critical states for 2016 for this president for his victory. He is under 40 percent in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Got to worry them right?
WILSON: Well, what's got to worry them is that these are states that were narrowly flipped in part because of a little bit of goosing from the Russians. But what you're seeing here is this poll was actually taken before some of this tariff news started to really, really hit.
2And these are states that are going to be directly impacted by Donald Trump's disastrous tariffs policies. And so, you know, the message they got and many of those, in fact, many of those crossover votes were like white male democrats and in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan, was that this is a guy who will be out for your economic best interest.
Well, that's obviously not the case. And so you're starting to see that reflected in the poll numbers. You also saw in this poll today that the same pattern we're seeing you iterated out across the country which is that women voters and educated voters, and even Republicans are abandoning Donald Trump in droves.
So I think the landscape for the congressional side in these swing states in particular is telling. And I think it's a reason why Donald Trump is suddenly dumping $12 billion into soybean and hog farmers and will continue to dump money into those states to try to offset the negative economic consequences of his trade policies.
LEMON: Who has paid for that, right? We'll have to pay for it. It will be us. So, listen, April, the E.U., China, when they retaliated with their tariffs, they specially targeted states for domestic political reasons. I think motorcycle tariffs that impacted Harley Davidson in Wisconsin.
LEMON: Do you think this is all connected? RYAN: The -- this is very much connected. The president sees that his
numbers are waning. He cannot be -- he cannot be this dictator that he's trying to be at this moment. It reminds me of a song. Jay-Z, a prolific rapper, a prolific philosopher. I'm taking a quote from him. You know, "Putin has got Donald Trump big pimping -- big pimping Donald Trump right now.
Donald Trump thinks he can do whatever he wants to the world and this nation and it's not happening. People are rising up, the farmers are rising up his base. People are saying no more. Veterans are not showing up like he wants them to at rallies. And you see him going just going off the rails on Twitter because he's very upset and he's scared.
But one thing for sure, this president is trying to appease the world community with that E.U. statement today. That surprise E.U statement today that was amazing. He's trying to fix this problem and he's also talking about aluminum and steel. He's trying to make good when he knows--
LEMON: Isn't this a problem of his own making?
RYAN: -- he needs to fix this.
LEMON: He's fixing something that he broke.
RYAN: It's a problem of his own making. And not only that, not only that with this Russia thing, he's with Rosenstein, he's throwing the rock and hiding his hands. All of this is a problem of his own doing. He wanted to fire Rosenstein.
RYAN: But now he's got other people to do his bidding. The rule of law is gone now.
RYAN: Donald Trump and we don't like to say it, but we are going down the line of a dictatorship. Russia and China. That's what we are.
LEMON: Yes. Kirsten, I got ask you. I just -- I want to get back to these three states. Because if you look at these key three states here. Let's just put the poll back up. But less than a third of voters think the president deserves re-election in 2020. Less than a third. What do you think of that?
POWERS: Well, I think that's obviously bad news for Donald Trump. But this is today, you know, the re-election campaign is going to happen in what's really another lifetime frankly.
POWERS: So it's going to matter a lot more when we get closer to that. It's also going to matter a lot who he runs against. And so I think it's very hard to talk about Donald Trump getting re-elected without knowing who the Democrats are going to nominate and how they are going to fair in terms of taking him on. I still think that he has a very, very good chance of getting re-elected.
LEMON: Yes. I think you're right. But again, this is just -- they were just asking opinion, do you think he deserves not whether they would, you know--
POWERS: Yes, exactly.
LEMON: I understand -- I understand what you're saying.
LEMON: But it is a lifetime away. We even haven't gotten through the midterms yet. All right. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.
[22:25:03] When we come back, the on again, off again Trump-Putin summit. James Clapper weighs in on why the White House now says it won't happen this fall, after all.
LEMON: So why did the White House backtrack on the second Putin summit just days after the president apparently sprung it on his administration with no warning?
So I'm going to talk about this now with CNN national security analyst James Clapper. He's the former director of national intelligence and he joins us now via the phone. Mr. Clapper, thank you so much for joining us. You doing OK?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm doing great. Thanks, Don.
LEMON: So let's talk about. This president's national security advisor, John Bolton, announced the delay for this potential visit to Washington by the president. Here's what he said. "He said the president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year."
Do you think the vocal backlash to the Helsinki summit is what led to that decision? What led to it?
CLAPPER: Well, I think it probably had something to do with it. But you know, Don, I was wondering whether in light of the fact that at least in my -- from my perspective, Putin clearly had the upper hand here and is, I think the alpha dog now in this relationship.
And I just wonder whether the Russians were playing hard to get a bit and they couldn't pin the Russians down on a time that soon after the Helsinki summit and for all those reasons, perhaps, is why they put it off.
[22:30:00] I don't know. But that thought occurred to me about the Russians being in the superior position now and playing hard to get, whereas most people any foreign leader would generally at the opportunity to visit the White House and have a meeting in the Oval Office.
LEMON: So do you think the Kremlin said not so fast. I don't want to do it right now, not a good time, and so then the President had to you know and then...
CLAPPER: I don't know, but I did wonder about that as soon as I heard the national security advisor's announcement about wait until the witch hunt is over. The other thing that is interesting about the Helsinki conference is you know Putin being subjected to questions from the free press and who you know is not mindful of being asked -- not concerned about asking awkward questions. And I think the Russians probably thought about that as well. And perhaps thought they would have (Inaudible) some awkward questions if they don't show up until after the midterms. Again, this is just speculation on my part.
LEMON: You said after -- you know he did put a time line on it. He said after first of the year. You think it's significant that he said -- do it after first of the year. He doesn't know how long the investigation will run.
CLAPPER: Exactly. That thought occurred to me too. He knows when Mueller is going to be all done. He doesn't know when the investigation will be done, (Inaudible) way of joining Rudy Giuliani and try to put a time line on when the Mueller investigation is over.
LEMON: You remember the soccer ball. Someone said that they should check it, right, the soccer ball that Putin gave to Trump at the Helsinki summit. Well, it is being reported now that particular type of soccer ball may have contained a transmitter chip from the manufacturer. Secret Service says that the ball was thoroughly screened.
I mean would Putin be so brazen as to try to sneak some sort of device into the White House like that?
CLAPPER: No, I don't think -- well, I actually don't. I think the implications of detection and the embarrassment of whether come from the revelation that Putin was himself, was somehow acting as a platform for some sort of surveillance or collection capability, and that got found out would be tremendously embarrassing to the Russians. So I don't think they would chance that.
LEMON: I want to get to Secretary Mike Pompeo now, appeared before the Senate foreign relations committee today. Things got a little bit heated. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the President told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two hour closed door meeting in Helsinki.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has the prerogative to choose who is in meetings or not. I am confident you've had private one-on-one meetings in your life as well. You've chosen that setting as the most efficient.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just asked a simple question. Did he tell you what transpired?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A number of conversations with President Trump about what transpired in the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he didn't really answer the question. So the obvious question is it sounds like Mike Pompeo truly doesn't know what happened in Helsinki.
CLAPPER: Well, you know, I watched it off and on, watched that hearing. And I have to say that Secretary Pompeo's very smart, very capable guy gotten dealt a tough hand, trying to you know to accept the broken china after what the President says and does. And so he's clearly a favorite of the President. He was when he was director of CIA.
And that's why he's Secretary of State. And so the secretary is going to do all he can to try to deflect and defend the President. That's clearly what he was doing today, to the frustration of some of the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
LEMON: Yeah. So I've got to ask you. The White House has also ended this long standing bipartisan policy providing public summaries for the President's phone calls with foreign leaders. Do you think there's a legitimate reason why they wouldn't want to do that?
CLAPPER: Not really. I think you know that's bad from two dimensions. One from the standpoint of transparency and keeping the public aware of what the President is saying on their behalf to foreign leaders, and as well it's bad internally. You know as a member of the National Security Council, I used to get summaries of phone conversations that President Obama had with foreign leaders.
And those are very useful to know what the foreign leaders saying, as well as what our own President is saying. So it served as a way of keeping the national security team on the same page. So from my standpoint, external reason -- transparency reason and internal coordination, I think it's a bad thing to stop those summaries of conversations of foreign leaders.
LEMON: Mr. Clapper, thank you for your time. [22:35:04] CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, the tale of the tape. Is Michael Cohen looking to make a deal by releasing the tape of his conversation with Donald Trump or did he ruin his chances?
LEMON: Some breaking news right now on the tapes that Donald Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen. To tell you about -- The Washington Post reporting the feds have received more than 100 recordings. So joining now to discuss, CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein and CNN Political Analyst Laura Coates, lots to discuss, so Laura, let's get right to it.
Good evening by the way. The Washington Post is saying that the most substantive exchange involving the President is the one that was released by Cohen's attorney on Tuesday. But what is the danger for Trump in these other tapes?
LAURA COATES, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, remember. The danger here is whether or not those conversations are going to be privileged. Just because you speak to a lawyer does not actually mean it's going to have the attorney-client privilege stamp on it. In fact, if the nature of it is not about a legal matter or in further of trying to get legal advices or legal counsel or (Inaudible) trying to get a crime to go forward.
[22:40:13] Then it's not going to have the protection. So the President right now is probably wondering to himself how much is out there and how much exposure do I gave on these non-privileged conversations.
LEMON: Yeah, because he has no idea of what they have, what was recorded, what wasn't. I want you guys to take a listen to this new enhanced exchange between Trump and Cohen. It's involving paying AMI either in cash or check.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to open up a company for the transfer of that info regarding our friend David so that -- I am going to do that right away. I've actually come up on (Inaudible) and I've spoken to Allen about how to set the whole thing up.
PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So what are we on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With funding, yes. And it's all the stuff, all the stuff because you never know where that company, you never know where he's going to be. Correct. So I am all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be...
TRUMP: (Inaudible) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. I got it, no, no, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Laura, an independent audio expert and his colleague who enhanced the tape and who both knew nothing about this story agree that the President says, I will pay with cash. The opposite of what Rudy Giuliani has been saying. What's your take?
COATES: Well, this of course, is a credibility game here where Giuliani is trying to in some way insinuate that the person to believe here is the President of the United States, and that you can prove by the exchange. Well, in reality it tells you that it's not exculpatory as he promised. But it's not so damming as everyone is talking about, because in reality, it doesn't move the needle so far ahead that it makes this (Inaudible) in particular exchange maybe commonality.
And going for it, the Stormy Daniels case, different story, does lay the foundation this is an exchange that happens often times. It wasn't even one that was shocking to President, which is going to be a problem for the future cases.
LEMON: So Carl, now that the expert says that Trump says I will pay with cash, right. His attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has a statement, a new statement obviously. He says dueling experts who come to different conclusions. In context, using cash would make no sense because the transaction is between two corporations. What's your response to that, Carl?
CARL BERNSTEIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I think we're being very myopic in the way that we're looking at this tape as being the most important thing that's going on right now. I think that two experts could have it out in a courtroom and Rudy Giuliani is probably right about that. The real thing that's happened here is that the President's lawyer has gone rogue.
He's fired a shot across the bow of the White House, and the question is whether or not he is going to get immunity, which he is seeking from Mr. Mueller. It's not at all sure that this is going to work for Mr. Cohen. But what is going on is it is clear that he believes and those representing him believe that he has information that could be very damaging to the President of the United States in the Russian investigation.
I think that's what we need to keep our eye on here. What we see with this tape, it sounds like a couple of thugs, one whom happens to be a candidate for the President of the United States, the other one his lawyer trying to make something go away. It shows Trump lying once again. What else is new there? Let's look at the big picture, which is Michael Cohen really a threat to the President of the United States in the Russian investigation. And there are some real indications that he is.
LEMON: Well, let's also look at the strategy too here, because Trump is the one, Carl, who waive privilege on this tape. And some say it's in order to get ahead of the bad news. But if that is a strategy, don't you have to tell the truth about it?
BERNSTEIN: Yeah. You're supposed to tell the truth about it. But again, I think that this is not a big development because of what is on these tapes. I think this is a big development because of where Michael Cohen is now and what his interaction with Mr. Mueller will be. I don't think the southern of New York prosecutors are very happy about the way he went about this.
But Mr. Mueller might find a reason that he thinks immunity is in order for Cohen. But there's a long way to go. And look, he had proximity to Donald Trump. That's why Trump is unhinged. If you listen to the people around Donald Trump, who those of us who are reporters talking to people in the White House talk to.
They say the President is unhinged about Michael Cohen and the fact that Cohen was a witness to many, many things that the President never thought his lawyer would possibly discuss with anybody.
[22:44:54] LEMON: And he can't be happy that they're saying that now 100 recordings, maybe 100 recordings. Can I talk a little bit more about strategy, Laura with you because?
LEMON: Could Cohen's decision to release the tape hurt his chances of making a deal with prosecutors in the southern district of New York.
COATES: Yes. Well, first of all, he has not been charged with a crime as of yet. And so it's difficult to see whether he is trying to have a preemptive conversation before there is any grand jury indictment, which is one of the points in time where prosecutors gives the sweetest deal before all the work has to be done, before the grand jury has brought in if there are charges that are pending.
The reason it hurts is because what he really did was play to the hand of Rudy Giuliani, who is trying to get everyone to quibble about cash versus check. Either way, there was a payment discussion about trying to suppress information prior to an election. That's really the meat of the matter, not the tomato-tomato semantics argument about cash versus check.
And so he played into the hand of that in many ways, and then when he did so, he called into question whether or not he was going to give information to both the press as well federal investigators. And as you remember, one of the problems with the dossier is the FISA warrant was that they decided to no longer use that person as a reliable source going forward in the future (Inaudible) because he gave information to both sides and undermined his credibility for the FBI ultimately in the long run.
The same is true in a prosecutor's strategy. Well, what is your incentive here to have the court of public opinion or a court of law? If your choice is the court of law, mum's the word. And he plays to the hand of Rudy Giuliani. LEMON: Well, Carl mentioned that it's important that Michael Cohen
because Michael Cohen is in close proximity to Donald Trump.
LEMON: Someone else who is in close proximity to Donald Trump, a new name came up in the tape. And we'll talk about that right after the break.
[22:50:00] LEMON: The President repeatedly dodged CNN's attempts to ask him about Michael Cohen today. But those questions are not going away. Back with me now Carl Bernstein and Laura Coates, so Laura, one of the big take-aways from the tape is the introduction of a new character into the whole saga. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. So I am all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be...
TRUMP: What financing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have to pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Cohen is referring to Allen Weisselberg. He is the CFO of the Trump organization. Laura, do you think Weisselberg and Trump's businesses now become more interesting to prosecutors? Does this bring that into play?
COATES: Absolutely. I mean first of all, if you're a client and your attorney starts to name people by their full name, it's probably a signal there's an issue with the recording going on, number one. But number two, I think there is, because remember talking about Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti claim this months ago, the idea of well, how involved was the Trump organization with the overall agreements and discussions to suppress information through non exposure agreements. .
So you now have exposure not only for campaign, but also the organization itself that says what role did you the have in trying to facilitate or make a campaign contribution on behalf of candidate Donald Trump, because of course, suppressing information would be part of an in-kind contribution in many forms for David Pecker, and if there's a CFO of a Trump organization and as a handyman, they have increased legal liability.
LEMON: Yeah. But should Weisselberg be concerned about getting subpoenaed and getting dragged into this whole saga, Laura?
COATES: He should be concerned about getting subpoenaed for a conversation or even having to answer questions to be interviewed. However, we don't know yet what the conversation entailed. It may have been a benign discussion about how does one set up a corporation. What would I have to do to do so and not giving in the details?
If he was not privy to the overall intent, if the intent was not criminal. He can relax. If it's not, he can't.
LEMON: So Carl, Weisselberg, he's worked for the Trump family since 1970s. He has in depth knowledge of the Trump organizations finances, which we know is a red line for Trump. That's what he says. Could -- I mean could he be even more dangerous to Donald Trump than Michael Cohen.
BERNSTEIN: I don't think -- I can speculate on that. I also don't know. It could be that he's already been interviewed by FBI agents. I really don't know the answer to that. I think there's a much more relevant thing we ought to look at, and that is about this attorney- client privilege. It does not obtain. It is not enforceable if the lawyer and his client are engaged in a conspiracy.
BERNSTEIN: If they are conspiring together. There is no privilege in that event. And that maybe applicable in this situation and this part of the Mueller investigation. There is no privilege if they too -- if Trump and Cohen in any way have conspired to do anything. So I think we ought to look at that, and that too may be getting under the skin of people in the White House right now.
LEMON: I just wonder because this whole thing about -- I'll ask you in the last segment, Laura, about (Inaudible) and who didn't -- they said Trump's lawyers weighed the privilege (Inaudible). There is no privilege if the two are conspiring to do something. I think Michael Cohen's team believes that they -- (Inaudible) Lanny said he released the tape. They did it in order to correct the record because Rudy Giuliani released part of the transcript. Does that have anything to do with anything?
COATES: Well, the strategy here, of course -- remember the person who actually owns the privilege is the client. So it was Giuliani on behalf of the client in the interaction between Michael Cohen, the attorney, and Donald Trump the client. And only the client can ever say I am going to waive the privilege. Now the strategy behind that is twofold.
Number one, it was a preemptive strike against somebody who they thought could launch a war against them. Otherwise, there would be no point in trying to suppress information or get ahead of the story, sort of like a Trojan horse in many ways. Number two, it's because they may not want to litigate the issue. Remember, if they are getting into an argument whether or not this is a crime, fraud exception, well, it's kind of like saying I didn't touch her inappropriately.
[22:54:58] I massaged her inappropriately. The underlying problem is still the same. You don't want to get into that semantics argument for a court of public opinion. And so what they were trying to do is essentially not litigate that. And (Inaudible) has talked about it as well. I mean even Nixon did not want to litigate the issue, of (Inaudible) exception about whether or not to litigate the issue of the tapes. This is a common theme and it makes sense from that perspective.
LEMON: Yeah. We don't have time for that. But Carl, I do want to mention this before we go, 45 years ago this week. I want to put this up. Newsweek had this cover, this cover The Nixon Tape. That was the headline. One of those tapes released in 1974 was the smoking gun that brought down Nixon. Could tapes turn out to be Trump's achilles heel here?
BERNSTEIN: I think you would have to have something very specific and very damming about an act that would show something having to do with Russia. We're a long way from that right now. But where we are is a Mueller investigation that people in the White House will tell you they believe are closing in on the President.
And that's one of the reasons that the President is so beside himself right now and is determined to make this investigation go away, be undermined, bury the truth, and cover up, etcetera. That's the more relevant fact in looking for a single smoking gun tape.
LEMON: Carl Bernstein, Laura Coates, thank you very much. When we come back, all the President's lies, why he tells you not to believe what you see or hear with your own ears, your own eyes.