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Forensic Analyst Dissects Secret Tape of Cohen & Trump; 20 Years Later Lanny Davis Plays Key Role in Presidential Sex Scandal; Trump Orwellian Comment: Don't Believe What You See & Hear; Trump Plan to Drill in Alaska Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor; White House: 2nd Putin Meeting Postponed Until Mueller Probe Compete. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It cuts. So what do you read into that?

MARK RISCH, FORMER COMPUTER FORENSIC ANALYST: What's interesting, if you look at the spectrogram -


RISCH: -- it ends abruptly, which means it was not turned off. Because when you turn it off, you have to move the phone, pick it up --


BALDWIN: More rustling.

RISCH: More rustling and the like. And listening to the undercover tapes and listening to surveillance tapes all the time, this is pretty standard pattern that you're going to hear, turning it on, turning it off. What this means is there's more to the tape. But all that was disclosed at this particular time was a snip-it of the tape cut off digitally, not mechanically.

BALDWIN:: Which is such a key point. We don't know what remains, but that was an abrupt edit.

Mark Risch, thank you so much --

RISCH: Thank you.

BALDWIN:: -- for your expert analysis on that.

Meantime, he's played a key role in the presidential sex scandal. And 20 years later, he's playing a key role in a presidential sex scandal. Lanny Davis, who defended former President Bill Clinton, is going up against the current president by defending his long-time fixer. When you throw in Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, it's like the '90s all over again. It's like we're at the Peach Pit wearing scrunches and wearing snap bracelets and doing the Macarena.

With me now, CNN contributor, Michael D'Antonio. He's a Donald Trump biographer. Michael D'Antonio, it's like the '90s are back with us. Is this not

just a surreal moment in this country?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & AUTHOR: Well, it's been a surreal moment, I think, since Donald Trump descended on the golden escalator and announced that he was running for president. And one of the elements they think is really surreal is that Michael Cohen is the guy who would record conversations with people -- I suspect he recorded me -- and then trotted it Donald Trump's office to play his recordings for his amusement. This should not be a surprise to Donald Trump as much as he says he's outraged by all of this. This is standard operating procedure in his world. And it's just come back to bite him a little bit.

BALDWIN: It's interesting you note, you say you probably have a recording back to when we talked about Comey, which is from ions ago, and Donald Trump said, watch out, we may have tapes. And now it's like -- it's all flipped on its head.

And how do you -- knowing the president as you do, and now that this open war exists between Cohen and Trump who has responded to him on Twitter, what do you think this president is thinking, feeling, behind closed doors?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think he is absolutely furious. This is what he would consider to be a profound betrayal. And what's fascinating to think about with Cohen doing this is, this is a guy who lived in the muck and mire of Donald Trump's world. And now he's going in and turning over a rock and we're getting a peak under what is at that rock and all the creatures are wiggling around. And I think among those creatures is Allen Weiselberg, who he mentioned, and David, who is also mentioned in the recording, these are people who fixed things for Donald Trump. And know a lot. And both of them are being subject to the inquiries of prosecutors looking into Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. So there's more bad stuff floating out there that the president should be afraid of.

BALDWIN: As I was listening to you, my executive producer jumped in my ear, we have all been dealing in the fallout that was the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump and what the heck happened. And why would this president, given the fact that he attacked our democracy in 2016, is continuing to do so. He, being Putin. Why would he invite him to the White House? They just jumped in my ear and said now that the White House is not inviting Putin to the White House until the Mueller probe is concluded.

Is that laughter? Is that laughter? Why are you laughing?

D'ANTONIO: What are we supposed to do with this guy? You know, every single day, it's like he's spinning the wheel and it lands on a number. They canceled the invitation, and who knows who is whispering in his ear at various moments and whether he's actually paying attention. I think he's panicking. This is a fellow who goes faster and is more erratic the more afraid he is. And this to me really seems like he's more afraid than he ever has been. And is more confused. So we're all confused. But now it may be that the master of chaos is himself, absolutely stumped, and doesn't know what move to make next.

BALDWIN: Do you think it's all the things that Cohen knows and could say that is at the center of his panic? Or might it be because Putin hadn't said yes. Or something I'm not thinking of?

[14:34:57] D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think it's everything. I think he is afraid of Michael Cohen. I think he's very afraid of Robert Mueller. We have now just one institution, the Department of Justice, that is defending our democracy against this onslaught that is the destructive impulse of Donald Trump. And so Mueller has been steadfast. He's demonstrated that he's not going to stop. He's indicted dozens of people. And now we've got the Manafort trial pending. I think the president is afraid of both these dynamics. He's afraid of what is happening with Michael Cohen and he's very much afraid of Michael Mueller.

BALDWIN: Michael D'Antonio, never a dull moment.

Thank you.


BALDWIN:: Thank you.

D'ANTOINIO: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a cryptic message during a President Trump speech, has flashbacks to George Orwell's "1984." Was there more to Trump's, "Don't trust what you see or read?" An Orwell biographer gives his take straight ahead.


[14:40:09] BALDWIN: Flashbacks of Orwell, especially after this comment from President Trump to veterans, telling them not to trust what they see and read.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening. Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.



BALDWIN: The comment came while he was talking about the economy, but now a number of experts say the president's message sounded Orwellian, like George Orwell in his novel of "1984," about life in the authoritarian state. One line a lot of people are pulling from Orwell, is as follows, "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."

Here now is novelist and Orwell biographer, D.J. Taylor, the author of 2003's "Orwell: The Life."

D.J., welcome.

D.J. TAYLOR, AUTHOR: Very nice to be here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: When you heard the comments made by this president yesterday, you tell me what crossed your mind.

TAYLOR: Well, I immediately thought, because this has been going on for some time now, for a couple years, I thought this is the latest installment, the latest chapter in the Trump-Orwell story. Because as you remember, as soon as he was inaugurated in January of last year, sales of "1984" rose so exponentially that the publishers could keep pace with demand. They went up by several thousand percent because people thought that a new autocratic style of world government had suddenly emerged with Trump at the forefront. And so my immediate thought was that we are back in the world that Orwell created, where what you read in the newspapers, what you hear on the radio, is not necessarily accurate. It's being tampered with. It's being fiddled about with in a way that suits controlling forces that you yourself, as the private citizen, can't see. That was my original thought.

BALDWIN: But, D.J., this is a tactic used by dictators. And we're talking about the president of the United States. I remember reading in "1984" in high school and thinking, you know, that this sort of dystopian society was frightening, but certainly not America. And today, I ask you, is this frightening?

TAYLOR: It is frightening. And I think the problem is -- and I should say that we have this problem to a lesser degree here in the U.K. The problem is that large sections of society out there in the wider world in the boondocks, wherever, is so disconnected from the sources and the authorities, media authorities, sometimes that they used to believe in that they are increasingly skeptical of what they hear everywhere. They are hunkered down in their own silos listening to the news that suits them. I mean, the problem we have here is the great content in which large sections of the public and some sections of the media hold the BBC, for example, which always used to be seen as an objective source of news, but is now seen to be the creature of some sort of liberal elite establishment that the general public is not supposed to like. So this is a worldwide problem but it is affecting America possibly even more than anyone else.

BALDWIN: Well, tell that to Melania, who apparently tuned into the wrong TV channel recently. That's a whole different story.

D.J. Taylor, we're going to leave it.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you. Cheers.

BALDWIN:: Good to have you.

Just ahead here, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set to face lawmakers over the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin. What CNN has just learned about what Pompeo is expected to reveal. We are live on Capitol Hill when it starts.


[14:48:05] BALDWIN: There's a battle raging in Alaska over a new gold rush, black gold, that is. The fight for drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has pitted neighbor against neighbor.

But Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski appears to be trying to have it both ways. She backed President Trump's plan to drill for oil in America's last big wilderness despite believing in man-made climate change.

Here is the second piece of the CNN special series, "TRUMP VERSUS THE WILD." Bill Weir filed this report from Alaska.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this little hamlet in Alaska, the only village inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there are three topics of conversation most days, polar bears, the weather and Donald Trump.

(on camera): Are you a fan of President Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he does good things. He does bad things. I'm grateful that he got that bill passed.

WEIR (voice-over): December's tax cut bill also opened the Arctic refuge to drilling and the government is now moving fast to lease 8,000 acres on this pristine coastal plain. This is where the last great caribou give birth, a place of life and beauty, made all the more fragile by a staggering rise in arctic temperatures.

(on camera): Do you believe in climate change? You think it exists?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a cooling and there's a heating. The icecaps were going to melt, they would be gone by now, but now they're setting records.

WEIR (voice-over): That's the exact opposite of the truth. And this time lapse of the NASA satellite data shows the relentless burning of fossil fuels is melting the Arctic at a record pace, including the oldest, thickest ice seen here in white.

Which is why more and more emaciated Nanook are wandering into town. They need sea ice to make damns and hunt seals. Without it, whale scraps are the next best thing.

(on camera): But skinny, hungry polar bears are not the only warning sign up here. That's the airport. And they are moving away from the coast due, in part, to sea level rise. They're seeing more and more freakish rainstorms in the winter and blizzards in the summer. But at the same time, all the modern creature comforts in the town, from the clinic to the school, were paid for with oil money. And with the promise of fresh millions for their native corporation,

most of the folks here are eager to tap into the one product that is changing their land forever.

[14:50:30] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we use to hunt whale meat? We use gas and oil. What do we use to go hunt caribou? Gas and oil. We have the right to develop our land.

WEIR (voice-over): A so-called scoping meeting with federal officials lays bears just how emotionally divisive the issue has become.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about what is going to happen to this land if there's an oil spill and the response that's going to come along with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for that message. May I ask where you are from?

WEIR: That loaded question and the tension in the room shows how much resentment there is for outsiders who want to protect the refuge.

And to the Anumbia (ph) here on the coast, those environmental arrivals include the tribe up in the mountains, folks fiercely opposed to drilling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they partner with the oil companies. We have told them our position. Our culture, our spirituality, our traditional way of life is based on the caribou. And we are not willing to give it up.

ROBERT THOMPSON, ALASKA RESIDENT: I would say they have the moral hybrid on there trying to preserve the culture and the people who are pro-oilers are doing it for money.

WEIR: Back in this town, Robert Thompson is known as the local anti- drilling gadfly a wildlife guy who carries a revolver just in case the skinny polar bear gets grouchy.

THOMPSON: This gun is more powerful than Dirty Harry's gun.

WEIR (on camera): Is that right?

(voice-over): He points out that the native-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is worth billions, thanks to royalties from other drilling sites.

But that wealth does not trickle down. And his neighbors here believe that tapping the refuge will finally bring the wealth and respect they deserve.

(on camera): There are a lot of people in Chicago or Dallas or Iowa who believe this is their land, too. It is a national wildlife refuge, like a national park.

THOMPSON: Yes, but then --

WEIR: And they want to keep it pure.

THOMPSON: But they will never set foot here. I don't think it is right for them to be able to tell us what we can and cannot do with our own land. You know, we're the best steward of our land.

WEIR (voice-over): That's the kind of local support pro-drilling lawmakers like Lisa Murkowski love to highlight. The Senator is a driving force behind opening Anwar, and she insists that wildlife won't be harmed. Despite numerous requests, she refuses to be interviewed. One reason may be that, unlike the president, she's one Republican who believes in manmade climate change, but wants her state to keep drilling regardless.

FLORIN SCHULTZ, PHOTOGRAPHER: If this will happen here, it would just destroy the entire place.

WEIR: Up at the refuge, Photographer Florin Schultz is one outsider who spent years here capturing the magic of this place. And he hopes everyone, including the good folks here, will take the long view path.

SCHULTZ: I'm using resources. I'm driving a car but I feel that we need to think in new ways. We need to think in new technologies and stay with the value of keeping wild landscapes. Because once they're gone, they're gone.


BALDWIN: That was CNN's Bill Weir. For a more in-depth look over Alaska's battle over wildlife, go to

Coming up next, more on our breaking news. The White House says Donald Trump believes his next summit with Vladimir Putin should wait until after the Mueller investigation is concluded.

[14:54:02] And moments from now, speaking of Russia, our secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, will be facing lawmakers there up on Capitol Hill. The press getting ready. We will hear about what happens, depending. He said many things came of that Putin/Trump summit. What he'll divulge to lawmakers, next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching CNN on this Wednesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for staying with me.

Just a heads-up, any moment now, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will sit down in that room in front of a line of Senators and be questioned about what exactly happened inside that meeting between President Trump and President Putin last week in Helsinki, Finland.

Meantime, the White House just announced it will postpone that second meeting with Putin where the president, over Twitter, had offered this invitation to go to the White House in the fall. He'll postpone that until the Mueller probe is complete. Let's remember, we still know nada about this first summit in

Helsinki, the summit in Helsinki nine days after it happened.

So our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is standing by, and Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.

But, Jeff, first to you.

Talk to me about why this postponing of this meeting is such a big deal.

[14:59:51] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this is very significant. You'll remember that this meeting is being delayed just about as fast as it was abruptly scheduled last week. It took many people by surprise, particularly members of the National Security Council, other advisers and the director of National Intelligence by surprise last Thursday when he was on stage.