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WSJ: Trump Organization Finance Chief Subpoenaed in Cohen Case; Interview with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; NY Times: Mueller Examining Pres. Trump's Tweets About Sessions and Comey in Obstruction Probe. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

It's been nearly 48 hours since the secret recording made by Michael Cohen of Donald Trump was first made on CNN, nearly 48 hours since it became clear that the president and his campaign lied about his knowledge of the deal to buy the silence of a former Playboy model who alleges a 10-month long affair with Mr. Trump. Nearly 48 hours and no one, no one at the White House, and certainly not the president himself, has owned up to the lie. The silence is deafening.

CNN has new reporting tonight the president is feeling the heat. One official telling us and I'm quoting here, is getting closer and closer to his inner circle. How do you think he feels?

Well, today, it got a heck of a lot closer. According to the "Wall Street Journal," Allen Weisselberg, long time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in connection with the Michael Cohen investigation. Now, you may recognize Mr. Weisselberg, he was for a time a judge on "The Apprentice."

"The Wall Street Journal" broke the story, a former Trump Organization employee telling CNN that Weisselberg knows every deal the president has been involved in, quote, every sale, anything and everything that's been done, including it seems the deal that candidate Trump and Michael Cohen talked about in September of 2016 and that team Trump has lied about from the moment this story first came to light, the deal was to buy the rights of Karen McDougal's story. She is the Playboy model who was alleging a 10-month long affair with Mr. Trump, the rights had just been purchased a month before by David Pecker who runs the parent company in the "National Enquirer". They purchased the rights and never ran the story, perhaps because David Pecker is friends with Donald Trump.

Here is Michael Cohen talking with Mr. Trump about stetting up a company to make the deal.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: 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 -- DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Give it to me and --

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


COOPER: I've spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up.

Now, you heard Michael Cohen say there that then candidate Trump: So much for Michael Cohen being able to claim as he did with Stormy Daniels that this was something he did all on his own, nothing to do with the Trump Organization. He talked about how to set the whole thing with the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. The man said to me the most powerful non-family member in that company, and the conversation suggests he knows about this $150,000 pay off being considered for American Media.

You know, pretty standard chief financial officer stuff, happens in every company, right? But judging by the conversation, the deal was to ensure Mr. Trump control the story in case as he quaintly puts it, American Media CEO David Pecker gets hits by a truck or something, or something happen to the company.

Now, just to remind you, this conversation happened in September, before the election. American Media bought the rights of the McDougal story in August. Yet in November, just days before Americans voted, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said and I quote, we have no knowledge of any of this.

And, look, maybe she didn't. Maybe she was lied to as well. In any case, it's hard to imagine Allen Weisselberg could have a similar excuse. He's been at the Trump Organization since Mr. Trump's father was in charge and he would know, for example, whether his own boss is lying or shading the truth or concealing something when he said this back in January of 2016.


TRUMP: So I tweeted out that I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we've stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia.

As a real estate developer, I have very little debt. I have assets and now people have found out how big the company is. I have very little debt. I have very low debt.

But I have no loans with Russia at all, and I thought that was important to point out. I certify that. So, I have no deals, I have no loans and I have no dealings.


COOPER: Well, as chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, who's now been subpoenaed, would know if that's true. He had also plenty to say about this moment at the same press conference, which seems like so long ago.


TRUMP: And what I'm going to be doing is my two sons who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me.

Again, I don't have to do this. They're not going to discuss it with me. And with that I'm going to bring up Sherry Dylan and she's going to go -- these papers are just some of the many documents that I've signed turning over complete and total control to my sons.


COOPER: So, remember that moment. The stack of folders that President-elect Trump did not let anyone actually look inside of. He turned over control of his company to a blind -- not to a blind trust but to his sons.

And then Allen Weisselberg, who would almost certainly also had detailed knowledge of the president's net worth, which he's been shown to have lied about and his taxes, which as you know he's refused to reveal. Weisselberg would almost certainly know for instance whether this is lie.


[20:05:04] TRUMP: I'm under a routine audit, and it'll be released, and as soon as the audit is finished, it'll be released.


COOPER: Well, the president to this day has yet to even show any evidence that he's being audited, nor has he released any tax returns, breaking with four decades of tradition. In fact, he apparently considers his personal finances and his business to be off-limits to investigators. But now, he may not have a choice in that matter.

So, a lot to cover. CNN's Jeff Zeleny and MJ Lee both have new reporting tonight.

I want to start off with Jeff at the White House.

Where is the president -- the president I should say is due any minute now, Jeff, returning from Air Base Andrews. What are you learning about all this stuff with Weisselberg?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the president will be returning here to the White House just momentarily. But we know that he left the White House this morning I'm told still fuming over those secret recordings from Michael Cohen. But as he was visiting Iowa, as he was visiting Illinois, his mood turned even angrier when he learned about that report.

Now, it's important to point out, as you said, there's no one closer outside of family who knows more about the Trump finances of anyone on the planet than the CEO, the CFO, excuse me, of the Trump Organization. The president when he came down here to Washington, he left the organization in Mr. Weisselberg's hands.

So I am told by a Republican official close to the White House who told me this. He said, it's getting closer and closer to his inner circle. How do you think he feels?

Important to point out, there's no sense that there's wrongdoing here by Mr. Weisselberg but there is a sense that he knows a lot. And prosecutors are interested in knowing more about finances, other matters. Tax returns, you name it.

So this is something if you want subpoena someone, this is someone who knows where a lot of the information is. I can just hear right now the president landing on the South Lawn of the White House momentarily.

So, Anderson, we'll see if he says anything in a while about all these questions.

COOPER: How did the president find out that Weisselberg was subpoenaed? Do you know?

ZELENY: I'm told that he had some advance notice from his lawyers. His lawyers were giving him a heads up that this had happened. Of course, they did see it play out on television in real-time as he was doing his campaign-style event this afternoon. So, he was watching that coverage.

So this was not surprising this necessarily happened. We do know the Michael Cohen prosecutors are looking at all of this. Of course, Mr. Weisselberg's name was mentioned in that recording that we heard on CNN this week. And one aide also pointed to his mood at the second event of the day, speaking in Granite City, Illinois, outside St. Louis, listing a long list of grievances, he seemed a bit agitated, if you will. That's his mindset, his mood coming back to the White House tonight. We'll see if he talks about it, Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff, thanks.

I want to go to CNN's MJ Lee.

What are your sources telling you about the clout that Weisselberg had in the Trump Organization?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Anderson, we have been talking to our sources today who understand the Trump Organization and Weisselberg's role at the company, and this much is very clear, there are few people who understand the finances of the company, better than this man. Weisselberg is the person we are told who oversees every dollar that goes in and out of the company. He's the person who personally gave Trump update on financial matters.

And as you can guess, he's been privy to a lot of sensitive information over the years. One Trump Organization employee tells CNN that the Weisselberg subpoena is potentially an ultimate nightmare scenario for Donald Trump because of how much he knows.

And here's more of what they said. They said, Allen knows where all of the financial dealings are buried. Allen knows every deal. He knows every dealership. He knows every sale. Anything and everything that's been done, he knows every membership, anything you can think of.

Now, to be clear, this person wasn't saying there are any buried bodies at the Trump Organization, but making the point that if there are any, Weisselberg would certainly be the person to know.

COOPER: As we just heard Weisselberg's name was mentioned in the Cohen Trump tape, what do you think that tells us about why investigators are interested to talking to him? Because it also previously, you know, on the Stormy Daniels case, Michael Cohen was always saying, look, I did this on my own, nobody in the Trump Organization had nothing to do with it.

Clearly, that's not the case in this -- in the McDougal matter?

LEE: Sure. You know, it seems pretty obvious that Weisselberg should be able to help investigators answer some key questions about Michael Cohen's conduct, as you said. You can here him mentioning Weisselberg's name in that recording and Cohen actually tells Trump that he consulted with Weisselberg on the issue of payment to Karen McDougal, the woman who says she had an affair with Donald Trump.

And just that alone, Anderson, would suggest that Weisselberg should know how exactly Cohen planned to make this hush payment to McDougal, that he planned on using cash, or was it a check?

And I should note, you know, beyond that, Weisselberg could also know about other people that Cohen may have paid or try to pay on Donald Trump's behalf, you know, beyond the women we've been talking about a lot lately like Karen McDougal or Stormy Daniels. So, it's not hard to imagine why Weisselberg would be a key piece of the puzzle in the Cohen investigation -- Anderson.

[20:10:02] COOPER: Yes. MJ Lee, thanks very much.

With us now, someone who has all kind of questions for the president and the people close to him, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: I mean, the fact that the guy who's the CFO of the Trump organization has now been subpoenaed, there's so much we know don't know about that. How important do you think this is?

BLUMENTHAL: It is a potential bombshell, not only because Allen Weisselberg in effect has the keys to the Trump financial kingdom, he knows where all the bodies are buried, but it shows clearly that the prosecutors here are, in fact, following the money. And that is the key, whether it's deal, dealings and loans in Russia that may provide a motive, what does Putin have on Trump? That's been one of the most common questions asked in the wake of Helsinki.

But also it shows they are in fact knocking on the White House door.

COOPER: The subpoenas, I mean by the southern district, but whatever is revealed through this subpoena would no doubt be also of interest to the Mueller investigation.

BLUMENTHAL: That is the key question, and it points to the fact that there's one Department of Justice here, and everybody reports to Rod Rosenstein. The effort to impeach Rod Rosenstein shows again folks are becoming increasingly worried and desperate about how the Department of Justice is in fact closing in on the Trump financial matters. And that information will go back and forth, grand jury information to be shared among offices, and in fact the IRS information that the Mueller investigation has obtained will also go to the Southern District of New York.

COOPER: Would the Mueller investigation even know if Donald Trump is being audited by the IRS? Would they have that information?

BLUMENTHAL: They could well have access to that information? There has to be showing to get IRS information, but it certainly could be made available.

COOPER: The -- it is fascinating that at this point, there's still so much, you know -- the president despite during the campaign saying, oh, yes, as soon as this alleged audit is finished, I'm going to release it. There's still so much not known about anything to do with the finances. And as he told "The New York Times", he views that as a red line for the Mueller investigation.

BLUMENTHAL: And I think that indicates what your excellent reporting also shows, that he is becoming increasingly concerned, I think is the right word to describe it, certainly the evidence of his statement of grievances. But also keep in mind that there are other ways that we can get at that financial information. I have led to of my colleagues in a lawsuit under a constitutional provision, the emoluments clause that forbids his taking payments and benefits from foreign governments.

And what we want to know is the entire universe of payments and benefits he's received without consent of congress, and we're hoping that the court will give us the standing to move ahead with that lawsuit, which could be very, very important and other lawsuits going forward as well. And as you said, he has never surrendered ownership of the Trump Organization. So what Allen Weisselberg has to say about the ongoing affairs of that organization can be imputed to him as the owner.

COOPER: And when I mean, in respond to the subpoena to go and testify, he can be asked anything.

BLUMENTHAL: He can be asked about anything. There is no limit to what he can be asked about that conversation, setting up a shell company, indicating clearly that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen were in a criminal conspiracy to violate the campaign finance laws. Make no mistake, that evidence is powerful in implicating Trump and Cohen in a criminal conspiracy.

COOPER: When you say criminal conspiracy -- I mean, you're talking about a violation of what federal election campaign laws?

BLUMENTHAL: And a potential fraud investigation, other kinds of violations. But the agreement to work in concealing -- work together in concealing the potential deception of the government is certainly a violation of the campaign finance laws, if proven by evidence, other evidence and confirmed. And I think implicates potentially Allen Weisselberg as well.

So, those questions and any others about the Trump Organization's financial dealings, loans, involving Russia or Deutsche Bank which has acknowledged in fact money laundering for Russia, it's also Donald Trump's main bank. And so, there are a lot of ties here that Allen Weisselberg would know.

COOPER: Yes, Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

COOPER: A lot to talk about with our guests tonight, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN legal analyst and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

[20:15:01] Jeff, I mean everybody knows Michael Cohen, but this guy Weisselberg, he's been there longer and seems to be involved in really much more aspects and a lot more of the Trump Organization than Michael Cohen ever was.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, he goes back to Donald Trump's father. I mean, that's how long he's been with the company. And remember, if you were talking about financial times, the chief financial officer, which is what he was is not only the person whose testimony you want, but you also want to get the records that he has access to.

You know, white collar cases are almost always made not just on testimony but on financial records. And he's the one who will know where all of the financial records are. Those are the records they're going subpoena, and that is going to be the key to any case if there is one.

COOPER: Right. I mean, Gloria, as Jeff said, he's been working for the organization for decades. He knows more than anybody outside of maybe the president's own kids and probably knows more than the president's own kids.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think he does. And he's had the trust of Donald Trump. When Donald Trump became president, he left the Trump Organization and Weisselberg was in charge along with his own kids. So, imagine that. That's how much he trusts him.

And I think the fact that they're interviewing Weisselberg as a witness has got to make Donald Trump very nervous, very, very nervous here, because he knows everything. I mean, he's the book keeper essentially. And Cohen had to go to Weisselberg to clear things.

And so, you know, I think it wouldn't make the president feel very comfortable.

COOPER: Right. John, it's so interesting because Michael Cohen, relating to Stormy Daniels, his claim and his supporters claim was always that was just something Michael Cohen did on his own, had nothing to do with the Trump Organization, even though there was already evidence back then according to Michael Avenatti, that there were connections to the Trump Organization, that he used a Trump Organization lawyer for arbitration. Here in this tape, he's actually saying with regard to Karen McDougal, he actually is using someone from the Trump Organization to setup a company.

And in a lot of times in a case like this, as you well -- as you know better than most, it is about following the money.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Absolutely, Anderson. And they're right on the money with this witness. He's clearly crossed the red line here. But this is the southern district crossing the red line, and I don't think they're going to pay any attention, and they're going to go where the money leads them, and this is the witness who will take them there.

COOPER: Yes, this is the witness that will take them.

We have much more to talk about with our guests after a quick break, including "The New York Times" reporting that Robert Mueller is taking a look at President Trump's Twitter post about James Comey and Jeff Sessions as part of his investigation into obstruction of justice.

And later, more breaking news, the government declaring its compliance to reunite immigrant families with their children. But they framed strictly on its own terms. So, have they really complied? A look at that ahead.


[20:21:58] COOPER: As we're reminded almost daily and at time even hourly, President Trump is a creature of Twitter. Now, "The New York Times" is reporting that some of his tweets are being reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into possible obstruction of justice, tweets like this one about fired FBI Director James Comey for instance.

Quote: As it turns out, James Comey lied and leaked to protected Hillary Clinton. He was the best thing that ever happened to her.

Or this one about his attorney general: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking a very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes. Where are emails and DNC server and intel leakers. Back now with CNN's Gloria Borger, John Dean, and Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, the reporting from the "New York Times" that, you know, Mueller is looking at the president's tweets, how big a deal is that?

TOOBIN: Well, it's a very big deal, because the issue with any sort of white collar crime is criminal intent. Was there criminal intent? How do you determine whether there's criminal intent? The voice of the would-be defendant, the words of the defendant.

Now, what's so bizarre is that in Watergate, we had -- we had to wait until the White House tapes corroborated what John Dean said what went on in the Oval Office. But, here, you have the president himself essentially confessing to obstruction of justice.

COOPER: It's a real time Watergate tape --

TOOBIN: And, you know, that -- so, the fact that they're looking at this is simply what responsible prosecutors would do.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, John, never before in the history of the presidency have we had a real-time look into what the president's thinking is.

DEAN: That's exactly right. The tweets are a very unique source. I happened to take a look after the announcement about looking at the tweets came out, at the bill of impeachment. I noticed that Article I, the obstruction article for Nixon, really draws heavily on his public statements and not so much his private statements or the tapes. They used the tape after they had written a report after they said this kind of confirms what we already figured out.

TOOBIN: Now, in fairness to the president here, their argument is, well, how can it be criminal intent if he's just broadcasting it to the world? How can he think he's doing something wrong if he is actually just telling everyone in a tweet? That -- you know, you can just be a brazen criminal, that's the response, but that is a legitimate point, that his defenders say.

COOPER: And, Gloria, the team is dismissing this, arguing that the president is within his rights to defend himself. He's in on social media.

BORGER: Right. I mean, look, they're saying that he can use social media, Rudy Giuliani is making the case that Jeffrey is talking about, which is, if he's trying to obstruct justice, why would he do it in plain view?

But you can -- you can look at some of these tweets and say, well, this is kind of witness tampering. And I went back and I looked at the 40-plus questions that team Mueller gave to Trump's attorneys months ago saying, you know, these are some of the things we'd be interested in. And one of them was, for example, what was the purpose of your May 12th, 2017 tweet? That was the tweet in which he said to Comey, you better hope there are no tapes.

[20:25:02] So, they're already interested in tapes.

And then he said, what was the purpose of your September and October statements including tweets, regarding James Comey? And what was the purpose of your July 2017 tweet regarding Mr. Sessions? So, you know, it's very clear that if they're going to make an obstruction argument and we don't know that they will, that they'd have to piece together, it's tough, you guys are the lawyers, it's tough, but they'd have to piece together some kind of mosaic that went to Trump's intent, which is what they want to ask him about if they ever get to sit down for an interview with him.

TOOBIN: And remember, too, this is not a conventional criminal case. Under Department of Justice policy, Mueller cannot charge the president with a crime. So, if this is going to be a further investigation, it's going to be an impeachment investigation and that's as much a political enterprise as a legal one.

COOPER: John, Giuliani told "The Times" that if you're going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly, secretly, and not in public, which if you look at Nixon and Clinton, I mean, they were accused of doing it privately. As we know, this is a president that does a lot of things publicly.

For an obstructions case, though, John, would there have to be like one big thing or could there be multiple little efforts to kind of -- according to prosecutors, amount to some obstruction?

DEAN: Well, when you look at the bill of impeachment for Nixon, the Article I, you see they drew heavily on many of his public activities, the fact he had misled the public as part of his scheme to obstruct and dangling to witnesses, sometimes privately and sometimes not so privately. The -- and particularly with Trump, his use of the pardon has appeared to be rather blatant in signaling to witnesses what they might get if they hang in.

So, I -- you know, it's a combination of public and private. And I think that's what we will see in the case they build. I'm almost positive that Mueller is building an obstruction case.

COOPER: You think so, really?

DEAN: I do.

COOPER: What is it that makes you so convinced?

DEAN: Well, not only they're now looking at the tweets, but just the conspicuousness of his actions, it would be almost malpractice to not address that because Trump has clearly been obstructing this investigation since he won the presidency.


GRIFFETH: And remember, too, it was the firing of James Comey that prompted the hiring of Mueller. So, that potential act of obstruction is the birth of this investigation.

COOPER: Gloria Borger, John Dean, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.

Well, more now on the deafening silence from the White House and much more on what is behind Michael Cohen's decision to put that tape out there.


[20:31:49] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The President just returned to the White House. He's said to be angrier than when he left as investigators get closer and closer to his inner circle and the so- called red lines for him. The fact remains though much of the heat he's feeling as heat of his own making and its not owning odd (ph) to it. He and his supporters have been lying about the deal to buy woman silence about the affair she says she had with him. And now that their lies have been revealed to be lies, their silence is deafening. No acknowledgment at all, in fact none. Here was the President's answer reporters on the south lawn just moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you concerned about --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you have any response to Michael Cohen? Mr. President? Allen Weisselberg's subpoena? Will you respond to Allen Weisselberg's subpoena?


COOPER: Well, no answers there, none this morning, no answer yesterday either. When CNN's Kaitlan Collins asked the question at a White House event, actually there was an answer. Kaitlan who was serving as a pool reporter meaning working for all the networks was then barred from the following event. We'll have more on that shortly.

But first, I want to check in on CNN Abbey Phillip at the White House. Abbey, you asked the White House today about this. What happened?

ABBEY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've gotten nothing but silence from the White House on this all day today Anderson. And also really all week. This is a White House that has only had three White House press briefings all month and only one this week and President Trump just now on the lawn refusing to answer questions from reporters about this and a number of other topics that have come up about this issue.

The -- what -- the reason we continue to ask the White House about this is because Hope Hicks, the President's spokesperson during the campaign denied any knowledge of this payment to Karen McDougal during the campaign. And now, that's known to be untrue, but the President who is normally used to kind of stopping and talking to reporters at moments like refusing to answer questions, giving us only stern look and a little bit of a wave as he walks back into the White House.

COOPER: Is the White House at least telling us why they aren't saying anything or they just remain silence on that, too?

PHILLIP: They're pretty silent on that, too. But this afternoon on Air Force One, the Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley got some questions about this. And what all he did was refer questions to the President outside attorneys. That's the move that they are taking right now to deflect some of these questions. We also had a chance to ask Bill Shine, the deputy chief of staff for communications at the White House who was responsible for disinviting Kaitlan Collins from that White House event after she tried to ask about this. And he also declined to answer any questions about this or about why the White House made that move.

But one saying that Hogan Gidley did say this afternoon, that I think its pretty revealing, he was asked, was it the President's decision to punish a reporter for asking questions about the Cohen tapes at the White House yesterday. And he didn't deny it, but he did say that, you know how strongly the President feels about this issue. And certainly do Anderson. The President is not normally one shy to answer questions but he's clearly not interested at all in engaging on this subject.

[20:35:03] COOPER: Except he was fine engaging with Michael Cohen when he didn't know it was recorded and his own campaign went on record with this why it's totally fair to ask this question and totally hypocritical for the administration to say we're referring it to outside counsel. They weren't referring to outside counsel back when Hope Hicks was lying or maybe when she was being lied to and it was giving a lie to the American people. We'll keep it on obviously. Abbey, thanks very much. More on Mr. Shine in a just a moment.

But first more, what could be motivating Michael Cohen joining us for that, the "Washington Post" Tom Hamburger who shares the byline on a piece titled, "I'm Not Going To Be A Punching Bag Anymore: Inside Michael Cohen's Break With Trump".

Tom, it's a fascinating article. What have you learned about what drove Michael Cohen to release this recording?

TOM HAMBURGER, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, Michael Cohen, who is a famously loyal to the point where he said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, has become increasingly disenchanted and has felt abandoned by the President who he served so loyal -- by the man he served so loyally so many years. There were a couple of things that really apparently people close to him tell us put him over the edge. One was Rudy Guiliani's public statements describing Michael Cohen's role and what happened in some of these discussions involving Stormy Daniels and others.

And then secondly, there was a report that the Trump organization balked at some point at paying some of Cohen's legal bills after his office and residences were searched by the FBI. And that put Michael Cohen over the top. It made him feel abandoned. One friend of his described it to us as he's lost in the wilderness. He hires Lanny Davis and -- then as CNN reported, released, Lanny Davis his lawyer and counselor released the transcript -- I'm sorry, the audio of his conversation with Donald Trump.

COOPER: So -- I mean based on people you talk to, I mean is Cohen no longer hoping for some sort of a pardon from the President if that -- if in fact he is charged on anything? I mean is he angling for a plea deal?

HAMBURGER: So Anderson, of course, what motivates Michael Cohen is one of the great parlor game here, one of the things we know from Lanny Davis just said publically that Michael Cohen is not angling for a pardon. That that's not what this is about. We haven't heard from Michael Cohen directly. And it would that releasing unilaterally the audio that was provided to CNN by Lanny Davis might not a move that would endear someone to prosecutors.

COOPER: Right. Might upset the prosecutors.

HAMBURGER: Might upset the prosecutors. And it would also -- it also m might upset although you could argue have the other effect now President to is in a position to pardon or not.

COOPER: You're also reporting that the government seized more than 100 recordings that Cohen made of his conversations. At this point though, do you have any sense of what might or might not be on them, how significant they might be? And I believe you said there others with Mr. Trump.

HAMBURGER: So our understanding is that there are other recordings of Mr. Trump and Michael Cohen, but that they are not substantive. That they may be just brief conversations. They don't point to a specific drama like the tape that CNN broadcast that Lanny Davis released. Other of the 100, many of them, apparently, are Trump -- are Michael Cohen conversations with reporters. Lanny Davis explained to us yesterday that Michael habitually taped his conversations.

It was -- he didn't like to take notes and this was a more effective and accurate way of doing it. But as a result now there is a repository as you said a moment ago, over 100 tapes -- over a 100 conversations recorded that prosecutors are now wading through.

COOPER: Interesting. Just a fascinating article. In terms of how the President has been responding to all of this, what are your sources telling you about that?

HAMBURGER: Well what we're hearing tonight, I think this matches what -- with what your White House folks are hearing as well is that his mood was very stern. He was not amused this morning when he took off for the Midwest. Very angry at Michael Cohen and the release of this taped conversation publicly. And now the news report this afternoon broken by the "Wall Street Journal" that his long time chief financial officer has been subpoenaed in this case has further sour the mood and we can see from the tape that you just rolled as the President landed at the White House, he does not seem amused.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Hamburger, thanks very much. HAMBURGER: Thank you.

COOPER: Fascinating.

Just ahead, more on the reporter prevented from doing her job at the White House. And the word games being used to justify it.


[20:43:38] COOPER: This may look and sound a little strange only because it is. The new White House Deputy Chief of Communications was asked today why he prevented CNN's Kaitlan Collins from attending a Rose Garden event. Collins said when she met with Bill Shine, press Secretary Sarah Sanders yesterday, they told her that the questions she was asking were inappropriate for that venue and they said was shouting. So we know that. But when asked today, Bill Shinestarted saying word games over a single word, "ban."


BILL SHINE, DEPUTY CHIEF, COMMUNICATIONS: Would you ask her if we ever used the word "ban?" Can I see it up (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What word would you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What word would you use?

SHINE: When you ask her if we ever used the word "ban." Then I will answer that question.


SHINE: You ask her -- focus now -- you ask her if we ever used the word "ban."



COOPER: I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. That's ridiculous. When Bill Shine, who used to work at Fox News by the way, who was like one of the guys that ran it, called Kaitlan Collins into his office, he told her she was "disinvited from the Rose Garden event". When Sarah Sanders issued a White House statement, it said Kaitlan was "not welcome". So they want to focus on the word "ban" and say ask about the word ban and then (INAUDIBLE) questions where -- which probably we never quoted as anyone saying ban. It's almost like they want to distract from the real issue.

[20:45:00] Can you imagine that, which is the fact that no one in the White House has even tried to give an answer to Kaitlan's questions, ban, block, disinvited, its all the same thing. And this whole game that would be laughable if it weren't so actually serious.

With me now is David Gergen who was there at the Nixon White House when President Nixon surely didn't want to ban a lot of reporters or want to disinvite, or whatever you want to call it. It is just word games, I mean that they're playing now about the word "ban".

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Sand in your eyes. So you can't see clearly what's going on. You know, they're trying to manipulate the press, they're trying to manipulate what questions they can ask and not ask. And if you go to -- you know, if you push too hard, they're going to disinvite you from quote from other events. That's a destruction of all the traditions that have grown up over the years. But listen Anderson, every President in the older days that (INAUDIBLE) like has had trouble with the press and the frustrations. But this administration has taken it to a whole new level. We haven't seen this level of suppression of critics, discrediting of the press on a regular basis, of using a network like Fox almost like a state-owned media company.

COOPER: It also said something about Bill Shine and his -- you know, reference for that profession of journalism that which he, you know, worked at Fox allegedly --

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: -- but now the -- you know, selling this drink it try to sell it to, you know,

GERGEN: Sure. It, you know, the environment is such it look like -- it looks like if you're around Trump you need to prove your manhood.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: You need to show to the President that you're going to do something, your going to stick it to him, his opponents and that's what his engaging right now.

COOPER: Hogan Gidley, the deputy press secretary was ask if the President decision to ask Bill Shine and -- or Sarah Sanders to bar Kaitlan Collins from the event or if it was the President. And he said, we issued a statement on this. And I commented on here. You know our position. The President does feel strongly about this.

I don't know what that means.

GERGEN: I think that --

COOPER: About what? He lied about --


COOPER: -- you know, not knowing anything about this deal with Karen McDougal?

GERGEN: Yes. President is angry at the press in general.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: I think, you know. So he's -- I think they're taking out the anger in a way they are. But I just -- the bottom line is we live in increasingly dangerous times, because -- this administration has gone taken -- gone so far beyond what previous administrations have done in all sorts of ways of attacking and undermining the kind of rules of the road that have kept the press there. I don't think people fully appreciate, when you describe the press and when you suppress reporters, you really threaten the First Amendment. And it puts you in a situation we're in a Never-Neverland about what's true and not true. And that's -- one has a sense as the new -- as the questions close in on the inner circle your just discussing, the ratcheting up the price we have pay for a free press.

COOPER: Well, I mean and that -- you know, you and I talked about this earlier in the week, I mean the just extraordinary statement now the President made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, people who fought and just --


COOPER: -- and they died for the First Amendment, Second Amendment, you know --


COOPER: -- in our system, saying don't believe what you see and what you hear.

GERGEN: They have a very strong commitment to the Second Amendment.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: Their commitment to the First Amendment is very weak.

COOPER: Yes. I want to play something from the Nixon tapes, I'm always fascinated about the Nixon tapes. You worked in the Nixon White House. This is Nixon speaking to Ron Ziegler talking about the "Washington Post" at the time. Let's listen.


RICHARD NIXON, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I can't clearly understood that from now on, ever, no reporter from the "Washington Post" is ever to be in the White House. Is that clear?


NIXON: Unless it's press conference.

ZIEGLER: Yes, sir. Just the briefing here, but --

NIXON: Not a briefing, never in the White House, no church service, nothing with Mrs. Nixon does. You tell Connie, don't tell Mrs. Nixon because she'll approve it. No reporter from the "Washington Post" is ever to be in the White House again, and no photographer either. No photographer, is that clear?

ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.

NIXON: None, ever to be in. Now, that is a total order. And if necessary, I'll fire you. Do you understand?

ZIEGLER: I do understand.

NIXON: OK. All right. Good. Thank you.


COOPER: I love those tapes. Ziegler was the press secretary at the time. I think the (INAUDIBLE) over that was some reporting about his daughter at a party or -- if --

GERGEN: I can't remember exactly.

COOPER: It was not something earth shaking.

GERGEN: Yes, yes. It's no compliment to the Trump administration to be compared to the Nixon administration.

COOPER: Yes. Well at least -- and they were willing to have the "Washington Post" press go to a briefing or event.

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: Which, you know, Kaitlan Collins was (INAUDIBLE).

GERGEN: One of the other things, Nixon said terrible things about the press. Usually, they were said in private. It's rare you would heard anything like what you just heard on that tape said in public. But in private he just fumed on a regular basis. I've seen other Presidents do that. They almost all want to overthrow the Sullivan case, which is, you know, is a protection against libel. And -- but they don't take it public.

[20:50:01] In the Nixon's case, you know, I was on that staff. So I can tell you to frequently which he did was let him blow off and tell you to do this horrible things and then you just file it away and see if he ever brought it up again. He didn't bring up again.


GERGEN: Yes, yes. Thinking he fell, that it.

COOPER: That's pretty gutsy.

GERGEN: Blow up the Brookings Institution.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: Nobody knew. We're not quite going to do that.

COOPER: Did he actually say blow?

GERGEN: Oh yeah.

COOPER: I've going to look at that tape.


GERGEN: There's some juicy ones out there.

COOPER: David Gergen, always great to have you. Thank you very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Let me -- want to check in with Chris Cuomo to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUMO, CNN ANCHOR: First, I like our men in black thing going except you would be the guy that makes this look good.

COOPER: I don't have a pocket square like you do. I got it, you know --

CUOMO: Well, I going to have something to distinguish (INAUDIBLE) otherwise we're twinsies.

All right, tonight is going to be a big night, my friend. Wwe have breaking news. A scoop that could change the perspective on the Mueller probe. What somebody who is very close to the President is willing to tell Mueller about a material aspect of the investigation. I'm being vague for a reason.


CUOMO: You will get the news right at the top of the show.

COOPER: So I've got to stay tuned for it? Like you're not even going to commercial break you're going to tell me?

CUOMO: Damn straight. Especially you. Of all people, I'll tell you last. Wearing the same outfit and looking better than me. You get nothing.

COOPER: Nine minutes from now, I'm definitely going to be watching Chris, thank very much.

CUOMO: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciated it. If I have to come back by the way at like midnight to redo a broadcast because of what you're reporting, I'm going to be annoyed.

Up next, more breaking news tonight. Upwards of 700 kids, 700 kids we're talking about separated at the border still without their parents tonight. So why is the government claiming it met today's deadline to reunite all families? This is the case of yet more word games? I'll talk about it with a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who was briefed by the secretary of Homeland Security.

More on that when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:56:04] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. The Trump administration claiming it has met today's deadline for reuniting families split up at the border. In a court filing it says 1,442 children have been reunited. Here's the catch. One in three children or about 711 kids have not been reunited. The government says that's either because they have red flags that prevent reunification or because they could not be located in time for the deadline.

In other words, the Trump administration missed the deadline and is claiming success on its own terms. Earlier, I talked about all this with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.


COOPER: Congressman, to the government's declaration that the reunifications are now complete, you say what?

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO, (D) ARIZONA: Well, absolutely not. I mean we spoke to Secretary Nielsen yesterday as in question about the caucus. We told her that idea that they believe that they're going to get this done by the deadline is impossible, and she kept insisting they were going to do it. And, again, she didn't. They lied. They had no plan how to get out of this. They still have no plan to get out of this. She doesn't personally have the leadership capability to do it, nor does the President have the focus on doing it. And unfortunately, we can now say that this country has created orphans because of bad policy.

COOPER: So she -- I mean you're saying flat out she was lying when she said to you that they're on track to complete this?

GALLEGO: Absolutely. Last -- yesterday in front of at least 15 members of Congress, she said, we are on track to meet the deadline. We clearly said to her, no, you're not. It's impossible for you to actually hit the deadline. She was insistent that we hit the deadline. Now we're here. We now know that, of course, that we're not able to hit the deadline. We now know there are many family who's are still separated. And more importantly, we know that there are some families that may never be reunited, and all because this administration does not know how to function, and they have no leadership in terms of secretary of Homeland Security, nor at the White House.

COOPER: The government is saying that 711 children were ineligible for unification, the majority of those are kids whose parents are outside the United States. Right now, I mean it doesn't seem the government has any kind of real plan for how to reunite those kids with their parents because often those parents when they're sent back, they're not sent to where they came from. They're just dropped off somewhere else and they have to figure out how to get back to their homes.

GALLEGO: Absolutely. And we're not even sure they're dropped off in their country that they actually resided from, and that's -- you know, that could be a bigger problem. We actually know that there are children that actually got sent back to their home country but their parents are here still in the United States going through the immigration process. That is the problem with this administration. They have no plan. All right now, they're trying to do is actually get out of the political problem they created for themselves. They know that this policy has been extremely unpopular with the American public, and they're just trying to basically fix the political problem but not actually fix the physical problem that they separated these families and they have no way to get them together.

COOPER: So what does happen to the kids who they still haven't reunite with their parents? I mean what happens?

GALLEGO: Well, for example those kids in the United States, at some point if they're never going to be able to reunite these parents, they're going to actually end up entering the foster care adoption system in the United States depending on what state they are in and what, you know, judicial process that could be. Whether -- maybe they're lucky enough to find a family member that is related to that kid, to those children here in the United States. But if not they will essentially become wards of the state.

Again, this country created orphans because this administration, the Trump administration, Secretary Nielsen are -- you know, basically tried to create a deterrents by separating family and had no plan about how to actually end this problem, except again to focus any on the political problem.

COOPER: We'll keep on (INAUDIBLE). Thanks for your time.

GALLEGO: Thank you.


COOPER: Before I hand it over to Chris, I want to remind you about our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. It's brand-new. You can watch "Full Circle" week nights 6:25 eastern. Just go to Rolls off the tongue. We'll see you there tomorrow and again at 8:00 p.m. of course eastern here on "360".

The news continues though as it always does. I want to handle over to Chris "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now. Chris?

[21:00:02] CUOMO: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. And we have a "CUOMO PRIME TIME" exclusive tonight. A claim that goes to the truth of what the President knew and when he knew about an event that is central to the special counsels Russia investigation. Let's get after it.