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EARLY START

Michael Cohen's Attorney Provides Secret Recording To CNN; White House Plans To Help Farmers Hurt By Trade Fights; Winning Mega Millions Ticket Sold In San Jose, California. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- lawmakers lashing out at what one calls a Soviet-type of economy.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And somebody in San Jose, California is $522 million richer this morning, before taxes. One jackpot winner in last night's Mega Millions drawing. Congrats -- someone waking up hopefully quitting from work, perhaps?

ROMANS: Maybe.

BRIGGS: Oh, wouldn't we all? No, we love our jobs.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin with this. Michael Cohen's flip on Donald Trump is all but complete. A CNN exclusive breaking overnight.

The attorney for Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, has provided eye-opening audio to CNN. During a discussion about the campaign, candidate Trump and Cohen discussed buying the rights to a Playboy model's story of her alleged affair with Mr. Trump years earlier.

BRIGGS: Just before the election, the Trump campaign denied any knowledge of a planned payoff to Karen McDougal, but the September 2016 recording seems to confirm Mr. Trump knew at the time about the proposal.

Listen to Cohen as he tells Trump about his plans to set up a company to purchase the story rights from American Media, run by Trump ally David Pecker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: 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 with and I've spoken to --

DONALD TRUMP, THEN-CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give it to me.

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

TRUMP: So what are we going to pay with?

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

TRUMP: Yes, I'm thinking about that.

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

TRUMP: And he gets it, right.

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: What financing?

COHEN: Well, I have to pay.

TRUMP: So, we'll pay with cash?

COHEN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I've got it. No, no, no.

TRUMP: A check?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The audio at the end is muddled. It's unclear whether Mr. Trump suggests paying with cash or not paying.

The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has said no payment ever came from his client.

Giuliani tells "The Washington Post" it sounds like Cohen is explaining something to Trump that he doesn't understand. And now, Giuliani disputes that the recording shows Mr. Trump knew about the McDougal deal at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't think anyone could suggest that this represents anything where the president did anything wrong.

I question the strategy of doing this -- of trying to make a tape say what it doesn't say or of putting out a tape in which you're kind of proud of the fact that you're a lawyer taping your client and then thinking you could cooperate with the government. You know, to cooperate with the government you've got to have credibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Cohen's decision to have his lawyer, Lanny Davis, provide the tape to CNN highlights the breakdown in the relationship that once saw Cohen say he would take a bullet for the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: This is about honesty versus false disparagement of Michael Cohen.

Why is Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen? Because they fear him. What do they fear him, Chris? Why am I representing him?

They fear that he has the truth about Donald Trump. He will someday speak the truth about Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Legal experts tell CNN the tape's release indicates Cohen's side believes it is time to stop playing nice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: With the credibility campaign going on right now and in a game of he said-he said, he wants to prevail, particularly -- although it seems to people that the idea whether he said cash or did he say check may seem like a very nominal matter. What he's trying to establish is that there was some awareness on behalf of Donald Trump at the time.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: This is all political. There is no crime here.

The worst-case scenario, take everything Lanny Davis says is true, there's no crime. There's no federal crime, there's no impeachable offense.

This is all about how the president looks in the court of public opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The timing of the recorded conversation provides more evidence Cohen was busy quashing embarrassing stories about his client before the election. That effort now a central focus of the investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

President Trump offering $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by his trade battle.

It's like a Band-Aid on a broken leg. That's how one farmer and Trump supporter from Minnesota described it. And in Washington, major pushback from GOP lawmakers.

Farm exports have been the target of retaliatory tariffs from U.S. trading partners.

Ag secretary Sonny Perdue says the government will help the hardest- hit products -- soybeans, corn, dairy, pork -- partly using funds from a Depression-era program meant to boost farm prices.

Perdue calls this a short-term solution but Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says what farmers need in the long-term are markets and opportunity, not government handouts.

Senator Ben Sasse is even more critical, calling this "gold crutches." He says tariffs and bailouts won't make America great, it will make America 1929 again.

[05:35:07] GOP lawmakers, which few exceptions, expressed concern about the plan. Take Senators John Thune, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake -- they say farmers need trade deals, not welfare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: This $12 billion announced today suggests that this is going to be a longer-term problem than the president said. This trade wars are easy to win -- not so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The aid starts in September, just in time for elections.

But, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board says that the president fixing a problem of his own making will not fool voters. Quote, "Trump may think his farm tariff bailout will get Republicans past the November election, but sooner or later bad economic policy becomes bad politics."

BRIGGS: Wow, OK.

Joining us this morning to talk about all of this, "CNN POLITICS" senior writer and analyst Harry Enten. Good morning to you, sir.

ROMANS: Hi, Harry.

HARRY ENTEN, SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST, "CNN POLITICS": Good morning.

BRIGGS: OK, so "The Wall Street Journal" is one thing, but we have Republican senators from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin -- harsh criticism of the president's tariff plan and this welfare, essentially, to farmers.

What's the impact?

ENTEN: Well, I think the impact is that this election was going to be fought in the Midwest -- in farm places. If you look, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota -- these are all places where Democrats are either trying to hold seats or pick up seats.

And the fact, if you look at the polling, that these tariffs are so unpopular by about a two to one margin in the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll gives you an indication of why Donald Trump is trying to pull this what he's trying to pull.

ROMANS: A Band-Aid on a broken leg.

You wonder how much leverage, how much leeway soybean farmers -- soybean growers and others in the Midwest are going to give this president because they elected him because he said he was going to fix things. He was going to fix 20 years of bad trade -- what they thought was bad trade.

How -- I mean, how much leverage does he have?

ENTEN: I mean, certainly among the hardcore Republican base he has a lot of leverage, right? They're going to forgive pretty much anything that he does.

And, in fact, if you look at the poll, obviously, Republicans are more likely than Democrats or Independents to support Trump --

ROMANS: A lot more likely.

ENTEN: -- to support the tariffs. But at the end of the day, it's only 45 percent.

ROMANS: Right.

ENTEN: There are still plenty of Republicans who are not supporting this or unsure. And when you have Republican senators coming out so harshly against the president, that gives you an idea that not only is the base not with him, but he is going to face a lot of pushback no matter what he does in this situation.

BRIGGS: And, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, said he is not in favor of this tariff plan --

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: -- yesterday.

But let's talk about "Paymate." In ordinary times this would be devastating audio to hear a President of the United States, then a candidate, talking about a payoff to a Playboy playmate about an affair in normal times.

We are not in normal times. We are in times where bragging about sexual assault was not disqualifying.

What's the impact here?

ENTEN: I mean, if you look again at the polling -- now, we don't have any specifically right about this --

BRIGGS: Right.

ENTEN: -- right, because this is brand new and so on and so forth.

But if you go to April and you look at the Stormy Daniels payment -- why Trump kind of said I had nothing to do with that and I didn't -- I didn't pay anybody or anything like that.

And what you saw was the polls generally indicated that people thought he was lying. Fifty-nine percent said that Trump knew about the Stormy Daniels payment and that's a huge number. But, they said it really wasn't that important -- depending on which numbers you look at -- and that was especially the case among his base. So, to me, the fact that they already knew he was lying --

ROMANS: Yes.

ENTEN: -- or they think he was lying -- oh, wow, a tape comes out, he's lying. So it's just confirming what they already knew.

ROMANS: Well, there seems to be some fatigue on the -- on the women part of this story. I mean, we've seen this pictures over and over again of the president standing there with his arm around his daughter, next to his wife and the Playboy playmate who is the center of this whole thing.

I mean -- I mean, this is just -- this is life in Trump world.

ENTEN: This is life in Trump world. It's almost like some fantasy world that you'd watch on reality television. That's what we keep comparing it to, right, is a reality television show.

And it seems to me that the voters are somewhat ahead of the press on this particular issue because they seem to think -- you know what, we expect this from Donald Trump. Maybe --

ROMANS: There's that picture I'm talking about.

ENTEN: There's this picture. This is the craziest picture, perhaps, in the entire world.

If this is a normal president, what the heck is going on here? But with Donald Trump, oh, that's expected. That's what we think was going to happen.

So the fact that we have this tape released -- yes, it's a bad press day for the President of the United States and certainly, it's not something he wishes was in the news. But at the end of the day, I think the political fallout, unless there's something more here, is probably minimal.

BRIGGS: Yes. It does indicate though, I think, a change of direction. It's clear that the Cohen team, with Lanny Davis, is going to the mattress --

ENTEN: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: -- if you will. It looks like instead of looking for a pardon, it's game on between these two sides.

ROMANS: Did you say going to the mattress? Did you really say that?

BRIGGS: Well, that conversation felt a little Godfather-like, didn't it?

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: It felt a little consigliere, yes. I mean --

ENTEN: Was it one, two or three?

BRIGGS: All of them combined.

ENTEN: Oh.

BRIGGS: Pick your Godfather, Trump.

ROMANS: All right, movie reviews of Harry Enten, next on "CNN Money." Thank you.

BRIGGS: Thank you. I appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thank you.

ROMANS: President Trump drawing comparisons to George Orwell after turning his appearance at a VFW convention in Kansas City into a campaign rally. The president used the event to defend his tariffs on U.S. trading partners, telling his supporters we don't apologize for America anymore.

[05:40:11] Then he took a page straight from Orwell's classic, "1984."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you are reading is not what's happening.

Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people -- the fake news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.

Afterward, the VFW released a statement saying it was disappointed in its own members who booed the media. It said that it was happy to have all the networks attend as invited guests.

BRIGGS: Any description of President Trump's calls with world leaders will now come from overseas. CNN has learned the White House is no longer releasing summaries of those calls. That ends longstanding transparency by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

President Trump had at least two calls with world leaders in the last two weeks with the White House confirming the calls after they were reported by foreign media.

The administration will not say whether the suspension of phone call summaries is temporary or permanent.

ROMANS: This afternoon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will publicly grill Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the president's closed-door meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. Details about that face-to-face encounter are still unknown. Nine

days after that meeting we still don't know what the president agreed behind closed doors.

And now, curiously, the president is insisting he is very concerned the Russians will be fighting hard to interfere in the upcoming election. He is concerned about this -- the Russians are going to do this.

Here's the twist, though. The president claims Russia will be pushing for the Democrats because they definitely don't want Trump.

By Vladimir Putin's own admission, though, that would be a reversal from 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Yes, I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The Russians have now accepted the president's invitation for a meeting in Washington at the end of this year.

In a just released, though, Quinnipiac poll, voters called the Helsinki summit a failure by nearly a two to one margin over those who felt it was a success. And when asked if President Trump was acting in the best interest of the United States, voters said no by a 54-41 margin.

ROMANS: All right.

Ivanka Trump is shutting down her namesake fashion brand with plans to focus, instead, on government -- public policy. Ivanka retains limited ownership of her business to reduce potential ethics violations while she serves as a senior adviser, but sources say that given those restrictions, Ivanka decided it didn't make sense to keep the company running.

She tells CNN in a statement she doesn't know when or if she will return to the business but she will focus on her work in Washington for the foreseeable future.

Ivanka's brand has been a target for critics of her father's policies since the election. While profits saw a bump in early 2017, they have since declined. Multiple retailers have dropped her brand citing poor sales, including Nordstrom, Hudson Bay, and T.J. Maxx.

And, of course, there's been criticism of all the Trump brands for being produced overseas. Why you have this family --

BRIGGS: Yes. ROMANS: -- who has been talking about buy America, hire America.

BRIGGS: And there's been whispers of a future presidential run for Ivanka Trump. Time will tell.

Ahead, the death toll once again rising in Greece as wildfires engulf a seaside area. Residents and tourists forced to run into the sea to avoid the flames. We're live in Greece, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:55] BRIGGS: A federal judge says he expects the government will meet tomorrow's deadline to reunify eligible immigrant families.

Judge Dana Sabraw, on Tuesday, commended the government for its remarkable progress reuniting families but says he also finds the original policy that led to separations at the border deeply troubling.

A Justice Department lawyer said just over 1,000 parents have been reunited with their children out of more than 1,600 eligible.

Judge Sabraw said 914 parents found ineligible or whose status is undetermined likely cannot be reunited on time.

ROMANS: Meantime, a New York pizza delivery man who was turned over to immigration officials after he tried to deliver food to a military base has been released from detention.

A Legal Aid Society lawyer who helped win Pablo Villavicencio's release says they are ecstatic for Pablo to be reunited with his girls.

BRIGGS: North Korea appears ready to hand over what it says are the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korea War. The source telling CNN it's still not clear exactly when that will happen.

The source also says North Koreans who collected the remains are said to be unhappy because there is no reward for their hard work.

U.S. officials are expecting the first group of service member remains to be returned on Korean War Armistice Day, which is Friday.

ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Global stocks mixed today while Wall Street closed higher thanks to big corporate profits.

Shares of Google parent Alphabet hit a record high. It reported big ad sales, offsetting a $5 billion fine from the E.U. Europe claims Google unfairly pushed its app on smartphone users, locking out competition.

Now, this is day three for a pretty busy week in corporate earnings. More than a third of S&P 500 companies are set to report today. We're going to hear from some big car companies, as well as Boeing, Coca- Cola, and Facebook.

President Trump's trade actions are hurting Harley-Davidson's bottom line. Tariffs will cost it $55 million this year alone. Now, that's due to both U.S. tariffs on imported steel, which it uses, and steep retaliatory tariffs from the E.U. on motorcycles, which it sells there.

[05:50:03] Europe is a huge market for Harley so those E.U. tariffs caused it to shift some production overseas.

The president meets with E.U. leaders today. The aim, of course, to de-escalate the current trade fight. So there could be news on the trade front today with Europe.

Hamilton may head to the big screen and studios could pay more than $50 million for the rights. "The Wall Street Journal" reports there's a bidding war for the hit Broadway show.

The movie won't be a film adaptation. Instead, it would be the 2016 recording with the original cast. That is unusual for a Broadway show making it to Hollywood, but studios think that "Hamilton" is a special case.

The show is such a huge hit. It's earned nearly $400 million since 2015.

BRIGGS: And it is outstanding but you'll have to wait for it if you will -- 2020 or 2021 is when they expect the release.

"NEW DAY" -- you won't have to wait long --

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: -- or it's about 10 minutes away. John Berman joining us.

ROMANS: Broadway legend John Berman.

BRIGGS: In fact, he is.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Legend of the stage and screen.

BRIGGS: What's your favorite "HAMILTON" song, J.B.?

BERMAN: My favorite -- you know, this is -- I like -- actually, I talk about this with my wife all the time. I actually like all the songs from the women. I think that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the female characters and their songs in an incredibly beautiful way.

BRIGGS: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I actually had a thoughtful answer to that. You're surprised, I can tell.

BRIGGS: I was stunned a little bit. Mine's "You'll Be Back."

ROMANS: That's a good one. BRIGGS: I love some King George.

ROMANS: King George is good.

BERMAN: You would. You would always side with the empire in this case.

Listen, a few of us probably went to sleep because that's what one does when one has a morning television show. I, too, tried to go to sleep last night before my phone started exploding with this Michael Cohen news.

Hearing the tape doesn't just open up a can of worms, it opens up like a truckful of worms and a truckful of questions for the president.

The campaign clearly told a lie in the days before the election when Hope Hicks said we have no knowledge of these negotiations to keep this story quiet through the "National Enquirer." Donald Trump knew. We now heard his voice on tape discussing that.

We'll look at the implications of that.

We're going to speak to a Republican senator about this. What questions, if any, does he have for the president on this?

And, Alisyn is going to speak to Stu Zakim, who was general counsel official at AMI, the company who owns the "National Enquirer," for some insight. I think that will be fascinating to see what he thinks about this whole operation.

Like I said, we woke up to this news. I think we're just beginning to learn what the implications are and we're waiting to see how the president, himself, responds.

ROMANS: All right, John Berman.

BRIGGS: Twitter is talking. Hashtag #trumptapes are the top-trending story.

John Berman, we'll see you in about eight minutes. Thank you.

BERMAN: Awesome.

BRIGGS: Ahead, singer Demi Lovato awake and breathing this morning after an apparent drug overdose sent her to the hospital. We'll have the latest for you straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:57:07] ROMANS: Some breaking news to tell you about this morning.

Reuters is reporting, also "The Wall Street Journal", that former Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne has died. This, according to the carmaker's controlling family shareholder. He fell very ill after some complications after a recent surgery and he stepped down, much to the surprise of many people. He was replaced as chief executive last weekend by the Jeep CEO.

Anyway, so now we can report to you, according to Reuters and "The Wall Street Journal," the former Chrysler chief Marchionne has died.

BRIGGS: All right, some more sad news.

Singer Demi Lovato, an overdose -- but she is awake in stable condition at a Los Angeles hospital this morning after an apparent drug overdose. A rep for Lovato says her family thanks everyone for their loves, prayers, and support.

The 25-year-old singer has struggled with substance abuse and just weeks ago, she revealed in a new song that she had suffered a relapse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMI LOVATO, AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER: Singing "Sober."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Lovato has spoken candidly about her use of cocaine and addiction to alcohol, as well as mental health issues and an eating disorder.

Utah's Orrin Hatch wants the world to know he's not dead despite what the Internet says. Hatch, on Monday, posted a screenshot of his own Google search result that said he died on September 11th, 2017.

The 84-year-old had some fun with the fatal error, telling Google "we might need to talk." The longtime Republican also posted proof of life here. Hatch in his office reading Salt Lake's "Deseret News."

Google got the message, apologizing and fixing the result.

ROMANS: All right, we are here this morning so you know what that means. We do not -- we did not hit the Mega Millions -- no, no.

BRIGGS: Thrilled to be here, no less.

ROMANS: One person did, though. One winning ticket was sold in San Jose, California. Lottery officials say the golden ticket was purchased at Ernie's Liquors on South White Road in San Jose.

The jackpot, $52 -- $522 million. I keep saying 52. It feels like -- no, it's 522.

BRIGGS: Five hundred.

ROMANS: But I hit the lottery just with this job so I'm happy.

BRIGGS: You did, and I hit the lottery just sitting next to you.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all that info.

GIULIANI: I've dealt with much worse tapes than this.

DAVIS: He's got truth on his side now and he intends to tell the truth.

DERSHOWITZ: He's going to flip. There's no question. He's now made it clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing on this tape suggests to me there's an illegal act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is certainly circumstantial evidence that Donald Trump knew about each of these payments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, July 25th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we do begin with breaking news for you. We have a major CNN exclusive.

CNN has obtained a secret audio recording between then-candidate Donald Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen, two months before the 2016 election. This audio appears to confirm that Donald Trump knew of the effort to pay off and silence --