Return to Transcripts main page


Giuliani Comments on Cohen Recording; White House Bans Reporter; FaceBook Stock Plunges; Defending Impeachment of Rosenstein. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:21] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Federal investigators seized more than 100 secret recordings from Michael Cohen. That's according to "The Washington Post" this morning. We already know that at least one includes the president. In that recording, then-candidate Trump and Cohen discussed buying the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal's story of an alleged affair with the president, which he denies.

Well, this morning, questions over if the public release of that recording could actually put Cohen in even more legal jeopardy.

Let's go to our national politics reporter, MJ Lee. She joins me.

And, MJ, I think it's interesting the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, brought up this exact issues, right, in the hours after the tape was released on Tuesday. Here's what Giuliani said about it for Cohen.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: You know to cooperate with the government, you've got to have credibility. First thing that happens is this guy's going to be disbarred. I mean it's ridiculous. He's a pariah to the legal profession.


HARLOW: I mean he's pointing to the fact that lawyers in the Southern District, prosecutors, may be pretty ticked that Cohen put this out there.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right. You know, what's interesting is that when Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's lawyer, released this audio recording to CNN earlier this week, we're learning that the SDNY, which is investigating Michael Cohen right now in a criminal investigation, they actually never got a heads up that this would be happening. And the folks that we are talking to, experts and people who know very well how the SDNY functions, they're sort of raising their eyebrows and wondering, what is actually the strategy behind this? And the issue that they're raising is that the decision to do this by Lanny Davis and Michael Cohen's legal team could actually complicate Michael Cohen's ability to get a deal.

[09:35:02] Now, of course, he hasn't yet been charged with any kind of wrongdoing. We actually don't even know if investigators are interested in making a deal with him. But the sources that we're talking to are wondering whether the decision to release this audio tape and creating this big media circus around the recording could jeopardize his chances of getting a deal.

And, remember, just to put some perspective on this, when Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who says that she had an affair with Donald Trump, when she was supposed to go in for an interview with SDNY investigators last month, that meeting actually was canceled and their stated reason for canceling that was because the media found out before the interview.

HARLOW: Right.

LEE: So this is not -- these are not people who like to be caught off guard.

HARLOW: Right.

LEE: Who like to see sort of this media circus. And so there are questions being asked about whether this is sound legal strategy on Michael Cohen's part.

HARLOW: I remember that. That was Avenatti, her lawyer, putting that out there.

LEE: Right.

HARLOW: And then very upset that that meeting was canceled. Now this is Lanny Davis putting the tape forward.

MJ, thanks for the reporting.

Ahead for us, a CNN reporter banned from an event, a public open event in the Rose Garden. Why? Because she asked the president a relevant question. This should trouble all Americans this morning, next.


[09:40:22] HARLOW: All right. CNN's reporter, Kaitlan Collins, who covers the White House, day in and day out, guess what happened yesterday? She was banned from an open White House event in the Rose Garden for what? For doing her job. Why? The White House didn't like her questions. Questions like this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody. COLLINS: Mr. President --


COLLINS: Did Michael Cohen betray you?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), everybody. (INAUDIBLE), everybody. Thank you, everybody.

COLLINS: Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say to prosecutors?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Kaitlan, thank you. Thank you, Kaitlan. Let's keep going. Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going. Thank you all.


HARLOW: A few things to understand here. One, the questions were questions any good reporter would ask. Two, Kaitlan was in the Oval Office representing not just CNN, the press pool. That meaning her questions were on behalf of all the networks that weren't there able to ask them. Three, Cohen was yesterday and today a major part of the news cycle and a question of the day. Four, the president himself tweeted about Cohen and the tape just hours before Kaitlan asked those questions.

Our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, joins me now.

This is a day that, you know, all Americans should be concerned about, not surprised, though.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It's quite an escalation. And I think it is important to spotlight this because we haven't seen something like this at the White House before. We've seen a series of escalations by the Trump administration, but this is a first time a reporter's been called in and said, your questions were inappropriate. You can't go to the next event. That's essentially what was happened. She was disinvited. I would say she was barred from the event in the Rose Garden.

And, like you said, she was representing the entire press pool that day, all the TV networks. So her questions were also Fox's questions and NBC's questions and ABC's questions. And that's partly why there's been an unusual show of solidarity for this.

HARLOW: Let's -- let's play that.

STELTER: Fox News speaking up and the White House Correspondents Association also speaking out. Here's a part of what the Association says. And, by the way, they

represent all the White House reporters. They say this type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrongheaded, and weak. It cannot stand. Reporters asking questions of powerful people, government officials, up to and including the president, helps hold those in power accountable.

And that's not just true now with President Trump. That's true every year with any president.

HARLOW: And here's a moment that I was so happy to see from Fox News anchor Bret Baier yesterday. Watch.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access. So far, no response from the White House.


HARLOW: We have since gotten a response from the White House. What do you make of it?

STELTER: Right, and essentially confirms Kaitlan's account. They say that she was shouting questions, but she wasn't doing anything any differently than reporters always do. It's customary when there's a photo op with the president, you get to ask a couple of questions at the end.

But I think this entire incident exposes the president's weaknesses. He does not want to have to address issues about Michael Cohen. He, perhaps, does feel betrayed, so he didn't want to answer her question. He does not want to talk about his twisted relationship with Vladimir Putin. He doesn't want those questions asked. And he certainly doesn't want to answer. So I think that proves, actually, Kaitlan was asking just the right questions --


STELTER: To prove she was on to something really important yesterday. And, by the way, today is Fox's turn in the press pool. So that's why you saw that solidary from Fox.


STELTER: Today, it might be their reporter who gets called to the office and says, you can't go to something.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: It's a very weird moment and hopefully just a one-off by the White House.

HARLOW: All right, I want you to stay here.

We do have some breaking news I want to get to.

The stock market just opened a few minutes ago. FaceBook shares are plunging.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is back. Brian Stelter is here as well, because this is very much a media story as well.

So, Christine, I'm looking at the stock trading right now, down 18 percent. What happened?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Just crushed here. A strategy shift for this company. They will focus now on privacy first. And that means privacy over profits. They will have to spend a lot of money, billions of dollars in coming quarters. That will slow growth and that will hurt the profits of this company. That's what the company says itself.

You know, it needs to put privacy first. It's had a terrible run here with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the private data of FaceBook users being disseminated and, in some cases, sold. And then you have election meddling and all kinds -- and fake news, the proliferation of fake news.

So this is a wake-up call for investors in FaceBook that it is no longer the wild west. This platform that began as rating how hot girls were in a college dorm room has now grown up into something that is part of democracy around the world and needs to act more responsibly. It will have to spend money to do that.

HARLOW: Here's the thing. This sell-off seems to be -- I think a lot of analysts would say, who take the long-term view, very short- sighted, Brian. This is a company that once again pointed out yesterday, we reach 2.5 billion people around the world.


[09:45:04] HARLOW: And the way that companies stick around for the long-term and mature, one could argue on the -- if you're long FaceBook still, is that they invest to fix problems and to make the company more sustainable and better. Is that not what FaceBook is doing here?

STELTER: Yes, FaceBook's investing so that people like the three of us stay on the site and don't go fleeing to a competitor.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: FaceBook's revenues were up, what, 42 percent year over year.

ROMANS: Anybody would love that revenue.

STELTER: What an incredible number. Any other company, right, 42 percent growth year over year. But it is remarkable to see a CEO like Zuckerberg, who did start it as a service to try to maybe meet girls, to have to address the reality that this company affects democracy.


STELTER: And to have to take action by hiring reviewers, hiring content analysts and things like that.

HARLOW: Christine, I will say, the last time FaceBook stock was down this much was July 27, 2017. So also in July we were on the air together. It was when investors had so many questions about FaceBook's mobile strategy.

ROMANS: That's right.

HARLOW: The stock fell over 11 percent that day. Look what FaceBook did on mobile to correct course on that so quickly. This is -- this is a huge company, but it's a nimble one.

ROMANS: It is a nimble company. And, look, it is a company that's market cap is, what, $630 billion. I mean it's a big --

HARLOW: Enormous.

ROMANS: Enormous company. An 18 percent decline, though, is -- you know, personally, that's $16 billion or $17 billion off Mark Zuckerberg's net worth, although he's not going to cry about that, I'm sure.


ROMANS: And, you know, there are 120-some countries that have GDPs about the size of what this company just lost.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

STELTER: Which is all the more reason why they've got to take responsibilities for some of their problems.

ROMANS: That's right. That's right.


ROMANS: And, look, they've had a big run of bad press. How many times have we been on the air talking about privacy, fake news, election meddling, all of these things.

HARLOW: Yes, you have to fix the problems. And I was wrong -- not 2017, it was 2012, I mean, the last time they've had a sell-off like this, a long time ago.

ROMANS: That's right. That's right.

HARLOW: It feels like yesterday.


HARLOW: I will say, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of FaceBook, along with some other tech execs, will be on The Hill, right, Christine, in September -- ROMANS: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Answering a lot of these questions.

ROMANS: And they've been -- they've also been in Europe answering these questions, the Europeans.

You know, the other thing is get out in front of the regulators. I mean if you're FaceBook, you want to show that you're spending money and you're getting out in front of the regulators who could potentially slow your profit more if they put in more onerous privacy rules.

STELTER: Right, that's a big part of this, they have to put in these improvements, some of these safeguards, that are necessary for various reasons. But that number you mentioned, 2.5 billion, that is a remarkable number. That's Instagram and What'sApp and FaceBook, all of these parts of the company.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

STELTER: They have a remarkable amount of control over people's digital lives. And with that control comes responsibility.

HARLOW: It does.


HARLOW: But again, FaceBook stock down 18 percent on a day when the Dow, the over -- the broader index is up 150 points.

ROMANS: Yes, that trade detente with Europe is what should be driving the market today, but instead FaceBook's getting all the anger (ph).

HARLOW: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it very much.

We'll be right back.


HARLOW: Welcome back.

Breaking news.

Some of President Trump's conservative allies in Congress are unleashing their strongest attack yet on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

[09:50:00] Our Manu Raju just spoke with one of them.

And this is about, you know, putting forth articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. What did you just hear?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Mark Meadows is the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, who's leading this effort, trying to impeach Rod Rosenstein over their concern of not getting enough documents that their -- part of their own investigation into how the FBI carried out its probe about the Clinton e-mail investigation, about the Russia investigation. They say the Justice Department has not complied with their request. Something the Justice Department has strongly refuted.

But I had a chance to talk to Meadows about this effort. He defended it. He said he's not trying to interfere with Bob Mueller's investigation. And he also said he has not spoken with the White House. And, Poppy, he would not rule out pushing for a vote today.


RAJU: You're asking for a scoping (ph) memo (ph). Are you concerned that you guys are asking for documents that could interfere with the Mueller investigation?

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R) CHAIRMAN, FREEDOM CAUCUS: You know, really, we're not about interfering with the Mueller investigation. What we're about is doing proper oversight and transparency. It's been consistent there. We've been consistent for nine months. And in doing that, it is critically important that we get the documents.

And I can tell you, most of the documents, if there is a legitimate reason on why they shouldn't give it, give us a privilege log and say this is the reason why we're withholding it. But the fact is, is we're operating in a vacuum. Much of -- they don't know the number of documents that we should have. After nine months, they should at least say, there are 100,000 responsive documents. You've gotten 50,000. And so here's the delivery schedule for the rest of them. And yet yesterday they could not answer how many documents are responsive after nine months. And I -- you know, how long do you go on?

RAJU: Are you going to make this privilege today? Are you going to take this to the floor today?

MEADOWS: Yes, we're still -- we're still looking at that option. Obviously we're in negotiations. Hopefully to find a production schedule that works. And if we get that done, then hopefully this is a one-day headline.


RAJU: So I asked him also, have you spoken to the White House or President Trump about this? He said, quote, I have not.

Now, he said that perhaps they may try to force this vote today.

HARLOW: Right.

RAJU: But the more likely situation is they wait until September because if they voted on this today, Poppy, almost certainly would lose overwhelmingly on the house floor. There's a lot of Republicans who are resistant to this and Democrats, of course, furiously oppose it. They say this is all an effort to interfere with the Mueller investigation, which, of course, Rosenstein overseas.


HARLOW: Including Goodlatte and Gowdy. I mean top, you know, Republicans in the House on this. At least not on board with this officially.

Thanks, Manu, appreciate the update.

Let's dig into this. April Doss is with me. She served as the senior counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation in 2016 and '17. She's also served as the head of intelligence law at the NSA.

I can't think of anyone more qualified to dive into what this actually means for the American people. Help us sort of decode what articles of impeachment would actually mean against Rod Rosenstein. And let's first dive into whether you think they have merit. I mean do they rise to the level, April, of high crimes and misdemeanors because this has to do with a FISA warrant on surveilling Carter Page.

APRIL DOSS, FORMER SENIOR MINORITY COUNSEL, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE'S RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: That's right. And your question is really the most important point. There is nothing in these documents that seems to rise to the level of high creams and misdemeanors. You know, there's five articles here and they fall into a couple of categories.

The Republicans who filed them are concerned that there's not been a second special counsel appointed to look into whether there were FISA abuses and to look into the Clinton funding of the Steele dossier. There's -- the articles address the issue of the redacted documents that were provided to the House and the House concerns that the redactions were, you know, sort of too heavy, that there wasn't enough transparency and the slow to provide information.

But none of that is a high crime and misdemeanor. When you look at typical congressional oversight, what happens is the congressional committees engage in lengthy negotiations with the executive branch over exactly what information can be provided, over exactly what the timeline. Should be. Because this has a lot of tools at its disposal to carry out oversight, it can withhold funding. It can demand hearings.


DOSS: To move for impeachment on this just really is far outside the bounds of anything normal.

HARLOW: So is -- I mean is this something with any teeth? Or is this more sort of show than substance in terms of actually resulting in any action?

DOSS: So that's a great question. And it depends on two things. It depends on the response from Republican leadership in the House and really bicameral leadership. We should see Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress strongly objecting to that -- to this articles of impeachment. And right now the way these were filed, they were filed as a non-privileged article, which means that it can only get to the House floor with Speaker Ryan's approval.

HARLOW: Right.

[09:55:13] DOSS: Of course we know that this morning Mark Meadows has said that they might refile these articles as a privileged articles in which case they can force them to go to the House floor for a vote.

You know, it's important to keep in mind that right now we only have, you know, fewer than a dozen congressmen who are currently signed on to these articles of impeachment. In all likelihood, they won't go anywhere. But it looks like another attempt to discredit the Russia investigation's rite large. And that's really the big concern.

HARLOW: And, of course, just to quickly remind our viewers of, you know, Rod Rosenstein's -- he's the one who oversees the Mueller probe. And there are some questions about --

DOSS: That's right.

HARLOW: A man who was just confirmed who, if Rosenstein were out, would be taking over the Mueller probe because of some questions about his connections to Russia.

DOSS: That's right. And -- and, you know, really, anybody who were to -- who would take Rosenstein's place would have the authority to decide what scope Bob Mueller's investigation should take. That's really the critical thing here.

HARLOW: Right.

DOSS: If there was any desire to curtail or constrain the Mueller investigation, taking Rod Rosenstein out of the loop would be a really effective way to do that. So I think that's where we're seeing this concern.

HARLOW: Right. But we did hear -- we did hear Meadows say, look, this has nothing to do with that. You know, this is about our oversight responsibility.

Look, we'll see where this goes. I appreciate your expertise, April. Thanks a lot for being here.

DOSS: Thank you.

HARLOW: President Trump, right now, on his way to the Midwest. He is going to Iowa and to Illinois. You see the president's daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, right there. He's going to talk about this tariffs news and a lot more.

Stay with us.