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Michael Cohen Officially Declared War On Donald Trump; Carr Fire In Northern California Has Claimed At Least Two Lives And Nearly Doubled In Size; A Stark Warning From Rep. Adam Schiff Following News That Russian Hackers Tried To Break Into Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill's Office computers; CBS President And CEO Les Moonves Is The Latest High Profile Media Executive To Face Accusations Of Sexual Harassment; Superstar Demi Lovato Still In A Los Angeles Hospital After An Apparent Overdose; People Who Know President Trump Says He Stretches The Truth. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 28, 2018 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Secret tapes now about center fold hush money. Who knew what about the infamous Trump tower meeting. President still saying he was in the dark about it. Michael Cohen Trump's former lawyer saying the President knew and he knew ahead of time.

Now, balance the headaches for the President against news that the American economy is soaring. And that's the kind of roller the White House rode this week.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is in New Jersey, near the President's golf course resort.

Boris, this is being called by our analyst the week that Michael Cohen officially declared war on Donald Trump. Do officials there see it that way?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, according to the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, he foresaw Michael Cohen doing something like this, saying that he was expecting this of the President's former attorney. Though that does contradict what we have heard previously from Rudy Giuliani.

He had previously said that Michael Cohen was an honorable man. It wasn't that long ago that President Trump was defending him on twitter as well. Really the turn around that he have seen from the President and his team on Michael Cohen has been dramatic. And I really want to play two sound bites for you that illustrate that point.

This is Rudy Giuliani first a couple months ago and then this week talking about Michael Cohen. Listen to this.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He doesn't have any incriminating evidence about the President or himself. The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.

I expected something like this from Cohen. He has been lying for years, I mean --


SANCHEZ: Now just yesterday, President Trump suggested on twitter that Michael Cohen potentially was making up stories in order to lessen his legal woes, the President suggesting those may be tied to Michael Cohen's taxi business. Administration officials are hoping that the President doesn't continue wading into the Russia investigation. Sources have told CNN that aides have try to keep the President busy by trying to keep him on the road and to keep him focused on his economic message.

This week the President was touting a strong economic numbers and this trade deal that was announced with the EU. It appears though that the President is not going to let this go as the Russia investigation and the questions that continue to linger around it will be a cloud over this administration -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

Now, before the show, I spoke to former defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta about Michael Cohen's claim that Trump knew in advance about the Trump meeting as well as news about plans for the second summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Here is our conversation.


CABRERA: Mr. Secretary always good to have you with us.

I want to tap into your experience working in the White House. When you look at this week's headlines, the new claim that the President of the United States had knowledge of and approved of accepting Russian help during the campaign, how does this affect the work of this administration?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it raises obviously a lot of issues about just exactly what -- what that relationship was, what kind of assistance obviously was provided directly to the campaign. Those are issues obviously that Bob Mueller is considering in his investigation. And I'm sure he is going to be looking very closely at those issues, because they relate to the whole question of whether or not there was any collusion between the Trump campaign or the President himself and the Russians.

CABRERA: The ongoing questions about the President's connections to Russia. Now we have Russian President Vladimir Putin saying he is ready to go to Washington. He invited President Trump to Moscow. But there has to be quote "necessary conditions." What's your reaction to that?

PANETTA: Well, the concern is that this last summit in Helsinki was about as close as you could get to a foreign policy disaster, because the President throughout that trip obviously made, I believe, some serious mistakes. He criticized NATO. He criticized Great Britain. He criticized Germany. He said that the Eu was our foe. And then at the summit at this very private meeting, to which we really still don't know what went on, he then had a press conference at which he said he trusted the Russians more than he trusted our own intelligence agencies with regards to the issue of interference in our elections. There is just a lot of questions that were raised by that summit that I think need to be answered before there is another meeting.

CABRERA: Which questions?

PANETTA: I think the question is, what exactly did they discuss on one-on-one. The reality is that secretary Pompeo himself did not really answer that question. And what we have heard is largely from the Russians as to what went on in that meeting. And I think it's very important, particularly for the President of the United States to debrief at least the chairman of the joint chief of staff as to what was discussed and what decisions if any were made. I mean, it is incredible to have a meeting with the President and our chief adversary Russia, and not have some sense of what was discussed.

[16:05:33] CABRERA: Well, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, as you mentioned, says he has spoken with the President about what was discussed. Listen.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Has the President told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour closed-door meeting.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Presidents have a prerogative to chose who is meeting or not. I'm confident you have had private one-on-one meetings in your life as well. You have chosen that setting as the most efficient way --.

MENENDEZ: I just asked a simple question.

POMPEO: I just. You can't he eat up seven minutes, Mr. secretary.

POMPEO: The President disclosed what he said to Vladimir Putin about Russian interference in our elections. And he said that he is confident that as a result of that conversation Vladimir understands that it won't be tolerated.

CABRERA: Secretary Panetta, do you believe he truly knows what was discussed?

PANETTA: No, I don't. I think the fact that -- that the President and Putin met alone, that only the two of them obviously plus the interpreters to some extent but the two of them know what went on in the meeting. Even secretary Pompeo himself in that response did not indicate that he had been fully briefed about all of the areas that had been covered in that discussion.

CABRERA: It has been one year since John Kelly took over as President Trump's chief of staff and CNN's latest reporting is that he has become a shadow of dominant figure he once was. A source saying Kelly has been sidelined from big decisions and that quote "Kelly still doesn't read twitter unless shown one of the President's messages and he still doesn't watch the television in his office. Gazing instead at the large Lincoln portrait he had hung in his place of the large TV screen about his fireplace.

You were a chief of staff. Would you have resigned by now?

PANETTA: Well, you know, that's a question that every chief of staff has to respond based on their own instincts of right and wrong. I know John Kelly. He served me as my military aide when I was secretary of defense. He is a good man. I think he tried to put in place some degree of discipline, some kind of order in terms of a chain of command, some kind of a better approach to policy development within the White House. I think the biggest problem is that he is working for a President who is very difficult to discipline, who doesn't accept discipline, had who thinks he should operate based on his own gut indistinct, doesn't want to accept the advise of others, doesn't want to accept any kind of the traditions or rules that used to guided past Presidents.

CABRERA: Why would Kelly want to stay in that position then?

PANETTA: I think John Kelly is a marine. He is committed to service of this country. I think he believes that his presence at least provides some degree of discipline in an otherwise chaotic presidency. He is not - obviously, his relationship with the President will determine whether he should stay or not. If he has lost the trust of the President, then obviously that would impact on his ability to do the job of chief of staff. Whether that's happened or not is an issue between John Kelly and the President.

CABRERA: Earlier this week, the President the threatened to revoke the security clearances of former government officials who have been very critical of his policies, among them former CIA director John Brennan and general Michael Hayden, former DNI James Clapper, former secretary Susan Rice, James Comey and Andrew McCabe were also mentioned but they in fact don't have clearances anymore. What's your gut reaction to all of that?

PANETTA: I think it's against the basic values we protect in in country with regards to the ability of people to enjoy free speech and to say what they think. That's the strength of America. And to have a President be offended by those kinds of comments and then try to retaliate by taking their security clearances away from them, I think it's an abuse of his power.

I think this President like past Presidents has to be big enough to be able to take those that disagree with him to understand that there is going to be criticisms about the things he does, and to be -- and to continue to do what he might believe is right for the country. That's the nature of our democracy. And I think he weakens our democracy when he threatens to do something like taking away the security clearances of those that have been critical to him.

[16:10:25] CABRERA: Secretary Leon Panetta, thank you so much.

PANETTA: Thank you.


CABRERA: Coming up, small children among the missing now after a wildfire explodes in California leaving incredible destruction behind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe it's gone, you know. All those memories, you know, childhood memories.



[16:14:58] CABRERA: The Carr fire in northern California has claimed at least two lives and nearly doubled in size.

Today, President Trump today approved an emergency declaration in the state. The fires are fueled by high temperatures, erratic winds, heavy vegetation. People are fleeing for their lives as their homes and neighborhoods burst into flames. Again, at least two people are dead, 500 structures destroyed. And since the fire exploded overnight nearly 81,000 acres have now burned.

CNN's Dan Simon is on the ground in Keswick, California.

We see the destruction behind you, Dan. Fill us in.

[16:15:36] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the destruction is just incredible. We were just driving along the main highway and just came across this subdivision. This is Keswick estates. And you can see that there is really nothing left.

If take and you look from, above it gives you sort of appreciation of the scope of just one neighborhood. And there are several neighborhoods that have been devastated. And there is just nothing left.

This is also the community where three people went missing, a grandmother and her -- and two young children. And so we are still waiting to get confirmation as to what may have happened to them.

But it's just an unfortunate situation at this point. There are two people confirmed dead, two firefighters. And unfortunately, in terms of the overall fire, the weather conditions are just terrible. Triple digit temperatures today. Supposed to get windy tonight, this area still under a red flag warning. So it's possible there could be even more destruction. They are still evacuating communities. So we are just going to have to see what happens this evening. That's is really when the conditions get bad, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Dan Simon, we know you will stay on top of it. Thank you very much.

Coming up, echoes of Orwell, the President draws comparison to dystopian novel from decade half after telling a crowd don't believe what you see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:21:21] CABRERA: A stark warning from Representative Adam Schiff following news that Russian hackers tried to break into Democratic senator Claire McCaskill's office computers.

Schiff, the top Democrat in the House intel committee tweeted news that Russian hackers targeted Claire McCaskill shortly after Trump called for her ouster is a chilling sign of Kremlin plans for Midterms. At Dan Coats said the warning lights are flashing. All Americans of all parties must denounce this even if Trump won't.

Now, this comes as the President convened the first election security meeting. And CNN's Alex Marquardt reports not much came out of it.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN REPORT (voice-over): Facing growing criticism he hasn't focused enough on the election cybersecurity threat from Russia, the President met with his national security team in the White House situation room to discuss election interference. So far the administration vague on the details.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Just rest assured there are actions under way to protect our elections or to expose any external -- any by anybody external efforts to influence the American public, to show false news, that sort of thing.

MARQUARDT: It comes as Missouri senator Claire McCaskill accusing Russian operatives of trying to hack into her office last year. Saying in a statement, while this attack was not successful, it's outrageous that they think they can get away with it this. I will not be intimidated. I have said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.

McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection this year. A senior Microsoft executive confirmed that three 2018 candidates have been targeted by the same group of Russian intelligence operatives who targeted Democrats in 2016.

TOM BURT, MICROSOFT VICE PRESIDENT OF CUSTOMER SECURITY: They were all people because of their positions might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint.

MARQUARDT: The hackers used fake Microsoft pages and so-called phishing attacks. The company is on high alert for similar pages which they say they take down when discovered. It's the campaigns rather than the voting systems that are among the most vulnerable targets.

ROBBY MOOK, DEFENDING DIGITAL DEMOCRACY PROJECT: I think the fact of the matter is that the campaign staff will never get to the level of the adversaries and stair them down. We are talk talking about the most sophisticated cyber operators in the world. Russian intelligence. The Iranians, the North Koreans.

MARQUARDT: The Trump administration has come under fire for not announcing a comprehensive coordinated plan to thwart cyberthreats.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think it's an embarrassment that this White House has not made election security a top priority and has not put the kind of attention and focus on it that we need.

MARQUARDT: In May, the cyber coordinator role on the national security councils was eliminated as top intelligence officials sounding the arm. Comparing the state of danger to the months before the 9/11 attacks.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. Today the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

MARQUARDT: The department of homeland security oversees the defense of the country's voting infrastructure. But on offense, it's less clear with the NSA, FBI and military all taking leading roles.

MOOK: We really need more connective tissue between people gathering intelligence, people doing law enforcement, and people charged with protecting our different assets in the digital realm.

MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt CNN New York.


CABRERA: From the launch of the iPod to the rise of social media, the turn of the 21st centuries was marked by an explosion of tech ideas. Relive the so-called I decade tomorrow night during the brand new episode of "2000s." Here is a preview.


[16:25:11] STEVEN LEVY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WIRED: Microsoft in the beginning of the decade with their operating systematic and their productivity software was still very, very strong.

SHIHAB RATTANSI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates calls Windows XP, the most important tool created.

STEPHEN WITT, AUTHOR: At the time Microsoft was 33 times larger than Apple. Apple was seen as a second or even third tier technology player that had essentially lost the way.

STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE COMPUTER, INC.: We have a five percent market share. And you could say that doesn't sound like much. But we look at it as saying kind of five down 95 to go.


CABRERA: Catch the brand new episode OF THE "2000s" tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.

Coming up, a singer's struggle newly released 911 calls from the day Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital for an apparent drug overdose.

Stay right there.


[16:30:35] CABRERA: Explosive claims against one of the most powerful men in entertainment. CBS President and CEO Les Moonves is the latest high profile media executive to face accusations of sexual harassment. The allegations are part of an investigation by the "New Yorker." It details claims of six women claiming harassment, intimidation and retaliation. And I should say here CNN has not independently confirmed the allegations. And Moonves denies them.

One of his accusers, actress Ileana Douglas described a meeting in 1997 while she was working on a pilot for CBS. Here the excerpt from the "New Yorker's" account.

In a mil of second, he has one arm over me pinning me, she said. Moonves was violently kissing her holding her down on the couch with her arms above her head. "The New Yorker" recounts a similar claim from writer Janet Jones during a work meeting. She says quote "he came around the corner of the table and threw himself on top of me. It was very fast."

Ronan Farrow wrote "The New Yorker" article and he spoke with CNN. Listen.


RONAN FARROW, WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: They all continued to fear retaliation. You know, Janet Jones, the writer you just mentioned. Describes him calling her afterwards and threatening her and saying these sort of things that appeared to be cliches to us but obviously coming after a work meeting and after an alleged assault like this are very, very serious and frightening like you are never going to work again. And she and these other women were still frightened to come forward but said they were due themselves because they wanted to expose what they feared was a culture of impunity that could protect other women if it is reversed.


CABRERA: In a statement, Moonves says quote "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes. And I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected and abided by the principal that no means no and I never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career."

Superstar Demi Lovato still in a Los Angeles hospital after an apparent overdose surrounded by her family. CNN had learned Lovato's former boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama is also by her side.

And we now have the 911 call from Lovato's home that led to her hospitalization this week. Excuse me. You can hear one of Lovato's friends pleading with emergency responders, no sirens, please. This is the four-and-a-half minute call, heavily redacted. Here is the portion of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll let you know when they are outside. You should hear the sirens real soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We -- no sirens, please, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, this is a medical emergency. I don't have control over that. I'm sorry about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I thought you were just saying we had to like wave the guys down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that was definitely wave us down. That is going to be helpful. This is definitely a medical emergency for her. And they need to get there as fast as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard the sirens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did. OK. Good. Good.


CABRERA: There is still a lot we don't know about that call and about the nature of this emergency. But let's talk it over with People TV anchor and popular culture commentator. Lola Ogunnaike.

And Lola, it is so good to have you here with us. What do we know? What have we learned about what led up to that 911 call?

LOLA, OGUNNAIKE, PEOPLE TV ANCHOR: People close to Demi say that she has been spiraling more than a year. But things went to a fever pitch a few months ago. She is separated with her team. Her team is really helpful in keeping her sober. But they decided that enough was enough and decided to part ways with her and that's when things really took a turn for the worse.

CABRERA: Do we know who made the 911 call?

OGUNNAIKE: We have heard it's an assistant or someone close to her. But the call was made. They were hoping that no sirens would be there because they wanted to call as little attention to this matter as possible. Unfortunately, when you have someone unconscious, who appears to have overdosed, you have to do everything you can to get to them as quickly as possible.

CABRERA: And as far as the recovery? What's the plan? Do you know?

OGUNNAIKE: As you mentioned earlier, she is currently with friends and family. Wilmer Valderrama, her ex-boyfriend remains one of her dearest friends. He has been there the past few day with her. The plan, we have been told, is to get her to rehab as quickly as possible.

As you know, she was in rehab in 2010. And she was there to a face and sort of issues from addiction to bulimia to self-harm, cutting. So this is someone who has battled with these things for years. And she has been very open about it.

I interviewed Demi a few years ago and she talked to me about her struggles. She spoke specifically about how she was bullied when she was a child. Because she was a child star, and when she would go to regular school the kids taunted her for being a celebrity. And they really made her life a living hell and she dreaded going to school as a result. So I think some of that pain that residual pain is there.

But you also have to keep in mind that Demi comes from a family that has also battled addiction. Her mother recently revealed in her memoir earlier this year that she battled a Xanax addiction. That she suffered from anorexia. That she, too, suffered from depression. And she also alleged that Demi's father, her late father, also battled bipolar disorder but it was undiagnosed for years. And she was privy to abuse in the home.

So this is a girl who has been through a lot, but still managed to triumph overall. We were talking off-camera about how big a star this girl is. She has 70 million fans on Instagram alone, 70 million followers and her hit song from 2017, "sorry, not sorry," one of the biggest songs of the year.

[16:35:52] CABRERA: I love that song.

OGUNNAIKE: I love that song, too. It is my treadmill song.


OGUNNAIKE: More than 351 million views on You Tube alone. So that just gives you a sense of how big a star she is.

CABRERA: And like you said knowing what she has overcome and also her openness to share that she is not a perfect person.


CABRERA: Has always drawn people to her. I can only imagine how hard it would be to deal with addiction, to deal with mental illness issues and then to do it in the spotlight like she has. And with the social pressure that comes with the role that she has in her career. I mean that has no add a layer of complication to all of this. And we know the lifestyle often times of the stars can't make it easy to deal and to cope with addiction issues or mental illness.

OGUNNAIKE: I think you are completely 100 percent correct. And one of the difficulties that Demi faced growing up is that she is the breadwinner. So her mother said that it was very difficult to manage Demi because she was the one who was paying the family bills. So that was one issue.

And the other issue is this young girl who was dealing with bullying also dealing in addiction, seeing addiction in her own family. That was a problem but also the pressure of being a role model. She would be the first to tell you that she is not perfect. She sings about it. She even spoke about losing her sobriety if in her most recent song, Sober. She confessed through it all. She is very autobiographical in her lyrics. So she has no shame about eh things that she has been through. But again, it is very difficult - it is difficult for anyone, but it is exponentially more difficult when you are doing it before the world.

CABRERA: Lola Ogunnaike, thank you very much.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

CABRERA: For sharing with us. We of course wish Demi the very best.

We will be right back.


[16:41:56] CABRERA: People who know President Trump, worked for his companies, even wrote books about him say there is one universal constant about this man that you can count on him to stretch the truth. Even outright lie if it suits his situation. And that's not a new facet of Donald Trump's personality.

Here is CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): From the election itself.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In many places like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say that's a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory. Millions and millions of people.

BORGER: To the inauguration.

TRUMP: We had a massive field of people you saw that. It went all the way back to the Washington monument.

BORGER: To statements like this.

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

BORGER: Donald Trump has had a fraught relationship with the truth, one going back decades. To the building and selling of Trump tower where Barbara Res managed the construction.

BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION VICE PRESIDENT: He planted the that princess (INAUDIBLE) was looking for an apartment in Trump tower.

BORGER: That didn't happen.

RES: No. But it made the papers.

BORGER: Sure. So veracity wasn't a part of it. It was just getting the buzz out there.

RES: Yes. Yes.

BORGER: Did you guys laugh about it.

RES: Yes. Because there was nothing so terrible about it. I mean, you know, it was kind of like puffing, you know. It is like he is exaggerating.

BORGER: Tony Schwartz co-author of Trump's art of the deal has a name for this.

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: I came up with this phrase truthful hyperbole which is, you know, I called it an innocent form of exaggeration. Now I can call something I actually sold for $2 million and I can say $10 million and that becomes truthful hyperbole. The problem is that there is no such as truthful hyperbole. The truth is the truth. Hyperbole is a lie. They don't go together.

BORGER: And they didn't go together during the troubled opening of Trump's Atlantic City Taj Mahal casino in 1990, when some of the slots didn't work.

ALAN LAPIDUS, ARCHITECT FOR DONALD TRUMP: When the casino control commission went down there on opening day to check out that all the things had been done, many things hadn't been done. They she shut down a third of the slots.

BORGER: Slots that were critical to the casino's success.

LAPIDUS: The slots are the prime revenue producer of the casino. To shut down the third on opening day was both humiliating and financially disastrous. It's only done because he doesn't have, you know, an organization in depth.

BORGER: But that wasn't the story Trump told.

JACK O'DONNELL, MANAGER, TRUMP PLAZA CASINO: Something could go bad like the opening of the Taj, and he would say it's because we had so much business here that this happened. Not that the system is broke down, not that we didn't know what we were doing. We had so much business it broke down. Truly he just would lie about everything.

BORGER: And did he.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the slot machine thing where they were down for a while.

[16:45:00] TRUMP: The slots were so hot -- again nobody seeing people play that hard that fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ordered blew out the slots literally.

TRUMP: We had machines -- they were virtually on fire.

O'DONNELL: Donald is so wrapped up in hyperbole that it's almost constant lies, you know, whether the littlest things where, you know, if you had -- if you had 2000 people at an even, you know he would say there were 5,000 people at an event.

BORGER: And he got away with it.

SCHWARTZ: There is no belief system. If it will work I will say it. If it stops working I'll say the opposite and will not feel any compunction about saying its opposite because I don't believe anything in the first place.

BORGER: Switching gears is exactly what President Trump had to do after his press conference with Vladimir Putin, attempting to walk back this remark on election interference.

TRUMP: My people came to me. Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.

And a key sentence in my remarks I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia.

SCHWARTZ: Seeing it from his perspective, doesn't make a distinction between what's true and what's false, he -- his only distinction is what will work and what will not work.

BORGER: And what happens when he is challenged with facts? What does he do?

SCHWARTZ: He has a genius, you know, perverse genius for turning any situation into something that is evidence of his brilliance. Even if it's not true.

BORGER: Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: I want to bring in our CNN political experts here with me now. They are "The New York Times" politics editor, Patrick Healy and senior political correspondent for the Washington examiner David Drucker.

Patrick, lying stretching the truth. I mean, this has worked for Trump in business. So what if he has a little here or there? Do you think his voters care?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think most Americans expect a level of honesty and directness from the President. But what Republican voters who support Trump have sort of bought into. And what the President has been now saying for years, is that the media distorts everything. And that the media is against me, and that to support him means to, you know, basically whatever comes out of his mouth, even if the evidence is totally to the contrary, even if they could, you know, voters could see with their own eyes something.

CABRERA: Even if he had on camera said one thing one day and you have the tape and he says I never said that. HEALY: Right. I mean, if you look at that tape of him saying, you

know, the would and the wouldn't the next day. I mean, those of us who have covered Trump for years, that sounded like his natural cadence. There was no reason to think that he was pausing confused by now is he saying a double negative or not. And then, you know, the cleanup the next day was just - it was just so hard to fathom. And you wonder, does he believe that voters are frankly so gullible that they might just be willing to kind of go along with whatever he says?

CABRERA: David, at the end of the day, it does come down to what voters think at least in the political realm and the political future for these people. Do you really think they care?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they care in a global sense. If you ask any voter do you care if your politician tells you the truth, they will probably scream at you and say of course I do. I'm so angry they have all been lying for years.

CABRERA: And I ask that question in the context of look at the economic numbers we just got yesterday and how well the economy is doing. Another President once famously said, it's the economy stupid.

DRUCKER: Right. I think when you then drill down and you look at in from a lower altitude, what you find is that voters expect some level of lying from their politicians. They think that all of them at least spin and many lie when it is convenient. So they don't look at this as somehow well Trump is a liar but nobody else really ever lies to me. They think everybody lies to them.

And ultimately, while they would like politicians to tell them the truth, and they would tell that that bothers you in general that they have been lied to in a campaign and then politicians get into office and don't fulfill their promises, what they really want is a government that works for them and the policies that deliver.

And so, I think that that is one of the things that can work for Trump, especially with Republicans. But even with independents in an election in 2020 for instance where it's going to be him versus another candidate and he can frame it as a choice. It can be, sure, I may have told you some things that were a little bit squirrely once in a while but about that economic growth and about the jobs, and about the fact that I delivered on XYZ campaign promise, these are things that can work for him, especially, Ana, bus the expectations for him from the beginning have been so low. And so much of how the public reacts to a politician is about what they expect. If they vote of you because they think you are moral and then you are immoral, it hurts them. But if they vote for you knowing you are immoral, when you then act immoral, it doesn't really diminish you.

[16:50:34] CABRERA: That's interesting.

Now Trump, he obviously is constantly talking about the fake news that's a common term we hear out of his mouth. But he went a step further this week, it seems an attack against the press. Listen to what he told a group of veterans.


TRUMP: And just remember what you are 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.


CABRERA: People immediately began drawing ties between what he said and George Orwell's book 1984. And the line from the book reads this. Quote "the party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final most essential command."

Patrick, is this what Orwell warned about?

HEALY: It is what Orwell warned about. And it is galling. I mean, for the president of the United States to basically tell Americans, you know, don't believe what you see, you know, with your own eyes. I mean, what kind of sort of moral leadership is that? What sort of integrity are you kind of holding up with that?

Yes, I mean, to David's point earlier and yours, a lot of Americans right now are thinking about right track and wrong track and they feel like you know we had -- we are having economic growth that is really significant. You have, you know, 4.1 percent second quarter growth, you know on track for a very strong year.

A lot of Republicans certainly feel like the right track, you know, is here. And President Trump is leading that way. But you know the question becomes this isn't just sort of little kind of white lies or sort of spinning here and there. It is you know the United States' democracy being under attack from the Russian government and President Trump being there in a room standing next to Vladimir Putin being asked will you in front of the entire world you know denounce what Russia is doing? And instead he sends a totally different signal.

I think counting on voters in the Midterms basically saying you know, I feel like we are on the right track. Economic growth is going well, you know. Sort of the outrages that I feel might be cultural or identity but, you know, they are not great in terms of economy in terms of foreign policy. And just the willingness -- it's hard to belief that people would be willing to go along with that kind of let's say advice, you know, don't believe what you see with your own eyes.

CABRERA: Some people want to believe what they want to believe. And in this day and age all the different information avenues out there people find what they want to find often times. And this is a White House that really wants to control the message, control the narrative, David.

In fact new White House communications chief Bill Shine tried to defend banning CNN Kaitlan Collins from an open press event saying it wasn't technically a ban. Listen.

DRUCKER: Yes. This was the most laughable.

CABRERA: Let's listen.


BILL SHINE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF OF COMMUNICATIONS: Did you ask her if we are use the word ban? Because I have seen it on lower thirds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What word did you use, Bill?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You prohibited her? What's the word you used?

SHINE: You ask her. Focus now. You ask her if we ever used the word ban. See you guys later.


CABRERA: OK. I looked up ban in the thesaurus, guys. A few if this (INAUDIBLE) are prohibit, forbid, disallow, bar, block, stop.

David, why the word game? You banned a reporter from covering an event. Why not admit it?

DRUCKER: Because I think that they like to play the games with us. And I think they like to spin up the press so that we become the story and that furthers the President's narrative especially with his supporters that he wants to keep ginned up in a Midterm election where it's going to be harder for them to turn out when he is not on the ballot. And that is part of everything.

The other part of this and I didn't mean to laugh over the clip there. The other part of in is that if we never believe as voters anything that the media reports then whenever there is a negative story that could hurt the President it won't be believed. And it helps him keep his relationship with his voters secure.

Interestingly enough, and I think this is really interesting about the don't believe what you hear and see, this is also what you hear from supporters of the President who don't believe that what he says and often what he appears to be doing isn't what is really happening.

And so, if you talk to a Republican who is supportive of the President's foreign policy and you question him let's say or her about the Helsinki summit and about how he deals with Russian meddling in the 2016 election, they will say, no, actually the President has been tough on Russia. Look at his actions. Don't listen to what the President says they will say, look what the President is doing. But don't believe what he says because that's not really what is happening. So this is all tied into coverage and analysis of this particular President.

[16:55:20] CABRERA: David Drucker, Patrick Healy got to leave it there, guys. Thanks so much.

DRUCKER: Thanks. CABRERA: Coming up Trump and Cohen and a war of words. Two men who

have trouble telling the truth. One of them is lying about that Trump tower meeting in 2016. Which one?