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Cohen Tape Leak Could Complicate Legal Troubles; Trump Administration Must Reunite Separated Families by Today; Controversial Mining Project Gets New Life Under Trump; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- lawyer, what does this mean for Michael Cohen, though, legally? Next.


HARLOW: The public airing of Michael Cohen's secretly recorded conversation with then candidate Donald Trump could be a big legal headache for him, for Michael Cohen, if he wants to cooperate with the feds, if charges are brought. According to multiple sources Cohen's legal team did not notify the U.S. attorney's office that they'd be taking this tape to the media.

Anne Milgram is with me, CNN legal analyst and former New Jersey attorney general.

[10:35:01] So the Southern District, not happy, that this gets out there. But what could it legally mean for Michael Cohen?

ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So I'm not sure that it means that much legally. But first of all, yes, the prosecutors would not be happy that evidence in their case is being discussed. And also Cohen, he is not cooperating yet from what we understand.

HARLOW: He is not charged yet.

MILGRAM: Exactly. And -- but they could still cooperate him before charging him.


MILGRAM: So it's possible he is in this sort of gray zone where he may be looking for cooperation. We've seen it publicly reported that he said he may be willing to cooperate.

HARLOW: Right.

MILGRAM: So if he were a cooperator, the Southern District would be furious. This would not have happened. So this tells me he's not yet a cooperator.


MILGRAM: First of all. The other thing it tells me is that his lawyer is either trying to basically, you know, come out and say, look, he's willing to come out and tell the truth and he's going to be forthright about this stuff, or it's also really a candid effort to push back the narrative that keeps coming out publicly against him. But, you know, for the prosecutors, this isn't a great thing.

HARLOW: So we're learning this morning from "The Washington Post" reporting that there are, according to the "Post," 100 tapes that were seized from Michael Cohen when the FBI, you know, raided his office and his apartment. This tape that we have heard with the president and Michael Cohen was taken in September, two months before the election. Assuming a bunch of these other tapes were also taken before the election, why would Michael Cohen then in good graces with the president, not seeming like anything is up, record 100 conversations at least?

MILGRAM: This is completely -- I do not understand this at all. Right? And of all the lawyers I know, and I've been practicing state, local and federal for years now. I don't know anyone else who tapes conversations. And so this is highly unusual. You know, I -- it's almost like an insurance policy in case something happens that he has a record of those conversations, perhaps. But --

HARLOW: And it's totally legal?

MILGRAM: Well --

HARLOW: Because it's New York and a one-party consent state?

MILGRAM: Right. So, you know, 11 states are two-party consent states. New York is a one-party consent. So Cohen could consent. The thing that's interesting, though, is that if Cohen did have other clients during the past decade, you know, Connecticut is a two-party state, Pennsylvania is a two-party state. Anyone that's in one of those two-party states, this would absolutely be illegal.

HARLOW: Well, and by the way, the only reason this is out, out there, I suppose legally is because the president's legal team, Rudy Giuliani, they waived their attorney-client privilege on this thing, which is confounding to a lot of people.

MILGRAM: That's a great point. And to be honest, of these hundreds of other tapes, many of those may -- some of those may be privileged. Right? So it's possible there are other Trump conversations.

HARLOW: Right.

MILGRAM: But remember that for you to have a legal privilege, it has to be that you're seeking legal advice and counsel. And so Cohen really has to be in a legal role. And so if he's actually the fixer --

HARLOW: Right.

MILGRAM: -- it would not be privilege.

HARLOW: Not just because he is a lawyer.

MILGRAM: So they may have waived it because they do not think it exists as much --


MILGRAM: You know, that to me is very possible.

HARLOW: And any claim by the president that this tape could be possibly illegal as the president wrote earlier this week?

MILGRAM: You know, I don't see that it's illegal. I still -- you know, I think it's extraordinary for a lawyer do this. And it's a terrible practice. I mean, lawyers should not be taping clients. It doesn't matter who your client is. But -- and the fact that he sometimes was representing Trump legally as a lawyer and sometimes not makes it even more -- you know, he was wearing two hats, I think, in some circumstances means he shouldn't be taping.

HARLOW: Yes. Thank you, Anne.

MILGRAM: Thank you.

HARLOW: Good to have you as always.

Today is the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite parents and children separated at the southern border. Our Rosa Flores is in McAllen, Texas, with more.

This is the day. I mean, this is when the federal judge said of those families, thousands need to be reunited. Is it going to happen?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the bottom line, Poppy, is that not every child that was separated will be reunited by deadline. Now the government will say that all eligible children with eligible parents will be able to be reunited. And the ones that are not eligible will not.

Now those are the controversial buckets because the parents that are not eligible have criminal backgrounds, perhaps they got a DUI. They might have been released from U.S. custody and, or they could have been deported. So they're not even in this country.

Now I want to share with you what's going on right behind me because this literally just popped up moments before our live shot, Poppy. But this is a group here from the valley. They're called Lupe. And they've been chanting literally moments before our live shot, which means the community is furious. This group here in the River End Valley has been working. They've done hunger strikes, marches against the separation of families and for the reunification of families.

So again, this popping up just moments ago on the day, the deadline for the government to reunite all these families. And Poppy, the reality is, not every child that were separated will be reunited by deadline -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Rosa, before you go, CNN has obtained an internal report that shows the Trump administration was warned that ending U.S. protection for more than 300,000 Central Americans would actually strengthen gangs like the MS-13 gang in America that the president blasts.

[10:40:04] What do you know about this report?

FLORES: Well, that report also showed that it would increase illegal immigration, Poppy. This is a huge issue and a huge worry for these families from Central American countries and Haiti. Bottom line, when these families get deported, sent back to their countries, they are fresh blood for these gangs. Now we have seen the thousands of children and parents who have fled from these countries to the United States, Poppy. So imagine sending back immigrants with U.S. citizen children, those gangs are going to target them. And that's why these families are so worried and so concerned -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Rosa, thank you for that important reporting. Keep us posted throughout the day.

Next for us, we're going to show you part three of Bill Weir's remarkable series in Alaska. "TRUMP VERSUS THE WILD."


HARLOW: Welcome back. A controversial mining project that was all but killed by the Obama administration is now moving forward under President Trump.

[10:45:03] Pebble Mine in Alaska could be the largest copper and gold mine in the world. But it sits just a few miles from the largest lake in Alaska, which is the nursery of the state's famous salmon fishery. Critics say the project, if it comes to fruition, could kill the salmon population and harm the environment.

Bill Weir is here with more. This is part three, "TRUMP VERSUS THE WILD"?


HARLOW: What did you find?

WEIR: Well, we went up there a couple of years ago for "THE WONDER LIST" to do this story.


WEIR: And it looked like the fishermen and native tribes and the nature lovers had beaten back this idea. It was too close for comfort. So what is the nursery of the last great salmon run. But then came President Trump and Scott Pruitt. And now the debate is raging once again over what is more valuable, the minerals we all need for our devices in our lives, our modern lives, or this wonder of renewable resource, this salmon run. And it's a contentious fight. But we thought we'd give you a look at just what is at stake.


WEIR (voice-over): This is a beach landing on a battleground. No bombs or bullets, thankfully, just gorgeous quiet. But that little camp holds a band of brothers determined to defend it from invasion.

(On camera): What happens if a bear comes for a drink right now?


WEIR (voice-over): Among them is Drew Hamilton, a biologist and guide for the World Wildlife Fund, who makes a living getting cozy with grizzlies.

HAMILTON: It takes a couple of days out here to really ease into it and realize that the bears are just part of the landscape and they're going about their business.

WEIR (on camera): Yes.

HAMILTON: And as long as you don't mess with them, they're going to leave you alone.

WEIR (voice-over): In nearby Katmai National Park, my team learned firsthand that this part of Alaska is nirvana for bears and wolves, whales, and eagles. A wonderland all made possible by salmon. Tens of millions surge into southern Alaska each summer to spawn, feeding every form of life, including a multibillion dollar fishing and tourism industry dependent on the health of this landscape.

HAMILTON: We've got bear tracks, we've had wolf tracks, fox tracks.

WEIR: Which is why Drew worries less about wild animals and more about the human beings coming towards us on the beach.

(On camera): What are you guys up to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We work for a surveying company up in Anchorage.

WEIR (voice-over): They are hesitant to admit they're doing work for the Pebble Mine, one of the most controversial projects in Alaska history.

HAMILTON: This red spot right here.

WEIR (on camera): This is it. This is where it all started.

HAMILTON: This is where it all started.

WEIR (voice-over): About 80 miles from the beach, a Canadian mining company called Northern Dynasty discovered enough buried treasure to propose the biggest gold and copper mine in the world.

But when the EPA under Barack Obama determined that blasting it open and digging it up would threaten the fishery, stock in Northern Dynasty tanked, partners bailed, the companies sued. But then --

JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: Congratulations, Mr. President.

WEIR: A reversal of fortune. In one of his very first acts running Trump's EPA, Scott Pruitt met with Pebble and then settled the lawsuits. When CNN revealed that meeting, there was an outcry in Alaska. Most fishermen, tribes, even Governor Bill Walker are opposed to the mine. And Senator Lisa Murkowski said she would never trade salmon for gold. But Northern Dynasty refuses to give up.

(On camera): The latest plan includes a 100-mile natural gas pipeline to power the mine. It would run past that active volcano into a massive port system here on this beach. Imagine ships and semi-trucks instead of bears and foxes, and then a 35-mile road through some of the most pristine wilderness in the state.

(Voice-over): Since Scott Pruitt resigned amid scandal, the new man in charge of the EPA is Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist at one of Pebble Mine's law firms. He declined our request for an interview.

TOM COLLIER, CEO, PEBBLE PARTNERSHIP: This is in the Roosevelt Room and that's Gore and Clinton.

WEIR: But the CEO of Pebble was happy to talk.

COLLIER: Nobody can guarantee there won't be an accident. Right? But we've done a hell of a lot to minimize the possibility of there being an accident on this site.

WEIR: Pebble Mine would sit in a wetland prone to earthquakes. So the biggest worry is a tailings damn failure like this one in British Columbia, which sent a lake full of acidic waste downstream. But Collier says the mine site is so far from Bristol Bay, that is a risk he can live with.

COLLIER: If there is an accident, it will kill fish for about 20 miles down the north fork of the Koktuli, and that's it. And for 10 years, it will come back naturally.

WEIR: Utah's Bingham Canyon is the biggest mine in the world.

[10:50:02] Pebble has enough wealth to dig one three times bigger. But after all the resistance, those plans have been cut in half.

(On camera): And there are some theories that you shrink the footprint of the mine in order to get the permit and then once you spend billions to build the port and the pipelines and the roads and all of that, you say, well, we need to expand.

COLLIER: There's a lot of gold and copper and silver and molybdenum in the ground out there. And we do not have any current plans to expand beyond what we're talking about with this permit. But it wouldn't surprise me if somebody, us or someone else, doesn't do that at some point in the future.

HAMILTON: I mean, they're basically talking about putting 175-mile gash across this pristine habitat.

WEIR (voice-over): Plans and promises aside, Drew sees this is first piece of survey equipment as the beginning of the end of this wilderness as we know it.

(On camera): What do you say to the argument that this means jobs, this means an infusion into the Alaskan economy?

HAMILTON: I say there are already jobs here. You look at the town of Homer in the bear viewing industry, there are millions of dollars being made here already in its current wilderness state. You look at the other side of the mountain. There are tens of millions of dollars already being generated in a fashion that can be sustained for decades and decades and decades. Why can't we just keep that going?

WEIR (voice-over): So he and his fellow bear lovers will try to stop the invasion through persuasion, but the clock is ticking. As Army engineers rush to review their plans, Pebble hopes to get their permit and a wave of new investors by the fall of 2020, right before Donald Trump's next election.


WEIR: To be fair, there are tribes who would appreciate roads and new jobs in that part of the state.

HARLOW: Right.

WEIR: But it's really a crossroads of the last frontier as to which is more important, what's worth protecting.

HARLOW: Yes. Any indication that they wouldn't get this permitting? I mean, these things have been moving pretty quickly under this administration.

WEIR: Well, the governor actually asked the Army Corps of Engineers to even stop. Like don't even do the environmental impact study. There's so much resistance there. But you don't know. We don't know under the Trump administration who will have the upper hand.

HARLOW: Bill, thank you.

WEIR: Thank you.

HARLOW: It's a beautiful series, we appreciate it.

WEIR: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: This just into CNN. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just fired back at Republican leaders in the House Freedom Caucus who introduced Articles of Impeachment against deputy, Rod Rosenstein. Here's what Sessions tells us, quote, "My deputy Rod Rosenstein is highly capable. I have the highest confidence in him."

We'll be right back.


[10:57:32] HARLOW: Cowboy owner Jerry Jones says his players will stand for the national anthem. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report/" So what's the news?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, you know, Jerry Jones giving his annual state of the Cowboys address yesterday and of course he was asked plenty of questions about the national anthem controversy.

And Jones, he is the first owner to come out and say before this season that his players will all stand for the anthem. And he also said President Trump's involvement in the controversy, it's not helping the situation.


JERRY JONES, DALLAS COWBOYS OWNER: His interest in what we are doing is problematic from my chair and I would say in general the owner's chair. Unprecedented if you really think about it. We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we'll do so accordingly. But yes, I'd like -- everybody would like for it to go away. Our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line.


SCHOLES: The NFL owners have put a national anthem policy in place back in May. But after there was backlash over how teams are going to discipline players, the NFL and Players Association announced they were putting the anthem policy on hold while they come up with a permanent solution. The preseason kicks off one week from today.

All right. Some awesome news to report this morning. Former Bills great Jim Kelly has beat cancer for a third time. Kelly's wife posting this picture to Instagram saying, "All of his scans on Wednesday came back cancer free."

Now back in March, Kelly underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove the cancer and reconstruct his upper jaw. Last week Kelly was presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS where he encouraged everyone to make a difference today for someone who's fighting for their tomorrow.

All right. And finally Vince Carter is hanging in there for one more year. The 41-year-old signing with the Hawks to play in his 21st season in the NBA. Carter the oldest player in the league. And get this, he was drafted three months before Hawks rookie phenom Trae Young was even born.

And Poppy, he's one of three players left that played in the '90s, and I have to tell you what, I certainly route for Vince Carter because he's one of those guys that still makes me feel young knowing that he's still playing in the NBA.

HARLOW: You know, as someone closer to 40 than I am 30, I'm all for that. I am all for that and 40 is the new 20. So there you.


HARLOW: Jim Kelly, I mean, I was so touched watching him at the ESPYS. He was amazing still.

SCHOLES: Awesome, awesome news. HARLOW: Thanks, Andy.

And Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.