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Russia Investigation; World Leaders Gather in South Africa; Carr Fire carves path of destruction in Northern California; Japan Facing Typhoon Jongdari. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:10] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: The two fails of the Trump Tower meeting. The U.S. president denies knowing about the infamous 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer ahead of time, but in former attorney says, that's a lie.

After widely critic summit, it is now the Russian president who is inviting Mr. Trump for another visit with some conditions.

And Japan, braces for another typhoon after deadly flooding, ravage part of the country early this month.

Live from the CNN in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. Great to have you with us.

So U.S. President Donald Trump is fighting back against the latest accusations from his former attorney Michael Cohen. On Friday, the President again deny that that he had prior knowledge of the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, between his top campaign advisors including his son and Russians.

According to our sources, Cohen says the President did know about it. If Cohen is telling truth, and if he can prove it, this is very bad news for the White House.

CNN's Manu Raju breaks it down for us.


MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump, has repeatedly denied knowing about a meeting his son had with Russians in the heat of the 2016 campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's president of the United States of America.

RAJU: But his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen now prepared to contradict the President under oath.


RAJU: Sources tell CNN, that Cohen is ready to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew in advance about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning guys (ph).

RAJU: In which Donald Trump Jr. was expecting he would get dirt from the Russians on the Clinton campaign.


RAJU: Cohen is privately asserted that he and others were present.


RAJU: When Donald Trump Jr. informed Trump of the Russian offer, and that Trump give the go ahead to have the meeting. The bombshell claimed directly contradicts what Trump Jr. told congressional investigators last year.

Ask by the Senate judiciary committee, did you inform your father about the meeting or the underlying offer prior to the meeting, Trump Jr. responded, no, I did not. He also said, he did not know the identity of the person he called three times before and after that meeting. And whose number was bought. And whether that person was his father.

The news also calls into question Cohen's own testimony before Congress. And its past public statements. A source tells CNN that Cohen did not tell the House Intelligence Committee last year that Trump had advance knowledge of the meeting. After Trump Jr. said he did not tell his father about the meeting.

DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: There was nothing to tell.

RAJU: Cohen tweeted. So, proud of Donald Trump Jr. for being open, honest, and transparent to the American people."


RAJU: Trump also took to Twitter to push back on his longtime personal fixer. "I did not know of the meeting with my son, Don, Jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam."

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani also denied Cohen's claims and accused him of lying in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: I expected something like this from Cohen. He's been lying all week -- he's been lying for years.

MANU: But that is not how Giuliani characterized Cohen just weeks ago on CNN's State of the Union.

GIULIANI: I do not expect that Michael Cohen is going to lie. I think he's going to tell the truth and if he does that we're home free.

MANU: Democrats said this opens a new front in the Russia probe.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: It effectively brings the issue of collusion or conspiracy right to the President's feet.

MANU: This claim wrapping up a week that saw a stunning public fallout between the president and one of his closest confidants starting with the recording revealed by CNN of Trump and Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to tell him yes.

RAJU: Discussing paying off a model who alleged an affair with Trump.

TRUMP: We'll have to pay with cash.


MANU: And Thursday's revelation in the "Wall Street Journal" that the chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, has been subpoenaed to testify in a criminal investigation involving Cohen.

(on-camera): Now in light of these contradictory accounts about that Trump Tower meeting from 2016, Democrats want to hear from Michael Cohen again on Capitol Hill. Some are asking him to come back, testify before the relevant committees and just in exactly explain what happened especially if it appears that he is saying something different to the special counsel than what he told lawmakers in Congress.

Now, at the same time, Donald Trump, Jr. also under renewed scrutiny from Democrats who are saying he should come back and are also calling in the Republican counterparts to issue subpoenas to the phone companies to determine who Donald Trump, Jr. called before and after that meeting took place in 2016.

Of course that number has been blocked out but Republicans have resisted this for months and they're showing no signs of jumping on this now.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.


[03:05:12] VANIER: With me now is political analyst Michael Genovese, author of "How Trump Governs".

Michael Cohen, appears to be sending signals. He -- he proved this week that has secret recordings of the President. Then he makes this explosive allegation. So he's sending signals, but who are they for?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are multiple audiences. I mean the -- the southern district of New York is the first, Mueller is the second. But I think the ultimate one is Donald Trump, where his trying to position himself so he can get the best deal from one or two of those sources. I would say the best deal with President Trump would be to get a pardon.

But Rudy Guiliani, the President's attorney today may have put a nail in that coffin because he just got on repeating well, having said two weeks ago, that, you know, Mr. Cohen is an honorable men. Now he's saying, oh he's a liar, he's a repeat liar, he's a habitual liar. So, I think in a way, Rudy Giuliani has declared war on Cohen. So that's going to make him perhaps to go further.

And so, the question is, does Cohen have anything to support his accusation? It's not just his word, because if he said, he said, you got two people who are known assembler's which of the two dishonest people do you believe.

But if Cohen has other people who can also testify to this, and he suggested he does. And he if has some paper trail. Something that might indicate that there is a deeper association with President Trump. And the President would then be in that wide and circle, it's starting with Don. Jr. in the June 9th meeting where he -- there was told (INAUDIBLE) by the Russians, we have dirt on Hillary, we'll get it to you. He said, I love it.

But we didn't have the President link --


GENOVESE: -- to that too closely. But this might make that link possible.

VANIER: So, the fact that Michael Cohen has shown no evidence. I mean he shown -- he showed evidence with audio tape, right? But on this particular accusation, he hasn't back up his claim. What does that tell us, is that ammoniation for later? Or does that maybe fuel Donald Trump's defense that is actually a lie?

GENOVESE: Well, if I were Michael Cohen, I would release things very carefully, and he is one of the best lawyers in Washington Lanny Davis. So, I'm not -- I would think that they have a strategy that they've already got in place. And they know the tactics involve and step-by-step they want to do something. And so, it's hard to see him making such a bold accusation without something to support it. And so, I think its one of the things you just have to wait and see what he's going to produce if he produces and nothing the President is in pretty good shape.

VANIER: And he does produce, something, what are -- what are the risk facing the President?

GENOVESE: The risk is that his off repeated claim of no collusion get pull out of the water. Because if he didn't know about it before hand, he knew it was about dirt on Hillary and knew it was on the Russians, there's a collusion. That collusion of course is not a crime, but what it does it did undermines him and the -- the view of public opinion and might have some legal implications as well.

VANIER: What about his son Don. Jr.?

GENOVESE: Don Jr. seems to be in some trouble, because the paper trail, remember he denied that he had this -- this meeting denied everything and there e-mails come out, he said OK, I did have the meeting. And the story kept changing, we know now that he -- not only was approach by the Russians, told of the dirt. But when he said, and this is a quote, "I love it". That's pretty, pretty close link to collusion if not illegal definition, but it certainly is start potential (ph) effort and people would the judge if I think very harshly on that.

VANIER: Yes. And you start looking at all the circumstantial evidence, then you'll also have to throw in the fact, that just I think was two days before the meeting, Donald Trump announce he would be giving the following week or rally where he would reveal everything that went on the misdeeds of the Clintons and then he ended up after the meeting, turn out to be dud (ph) not --

GENOVESE: He canceled.

VANIER: -- making such a -- such a speech.

GENOVESE: That's right. That suggested, maybe he knew before him what -- that there was going to be dirt, then was disappointed when there was and then they'll have to just cancel the press conference.

VANIER: Michael Genovese, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Thank you. Thank you.

VANIER: Where and when will the leaders of the U.S. and Russia meet next? Well that seems to be a question that neither Donald Trump nor Vladimir Putin can't answer right now.

The informal invitations have been exchange, but then there is the pesky matter of that investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Matthew Chance has the latest from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The world they need or won't they. The back and forth continues over when and where the U.S. President will sage or never one-on-one summit speaking in an economic summit, the gathering in South Africa. President Putin of Russia, he said he understood why a recent invitation to the White House was postponed until next year. Referring to the political situation within United States.

Another, White House is saying that they're open to a meeting in Moscow, after Vladimir Putin revealed, but this is something that he has already discussed with President Trump.

[03:10:06] VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through interpreter): We are ready for such meetings. We are ready to invite President Trump to Moscow to be my guest. He has such an initiation, I told him that and I'm ready to go to Washington. I repeat once again if the right conditions for work are created.

CHANCE: But it's unclear when those conditions will be right when the political climate in the United States will become less hostile to another U.S.-Russian meeting. The Kremlin though has become increasingly unenthusiastic about a second summit fearing a political backlash in the U.S. after critics of President Trump condemn his performance next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki as overly differential earlier this month.

Vladimir Putin though still found grounds to praise his U.S. counterparts and remember campaign on a platform of building a better relationship with Russia.

Trump's great virtue Putin told journalists in South Africa is that he always wants to keep his election promises. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VANIER: Mr. Trump says America's economic performance is amazing and getting better but some economist sworn it's just for now. A new report shows the economy grew in the second quarter 4.1% compared to the same period last year.

Now that is the fastest tape growth in nearly four years. We're talking about quarterly growth here, getting to 4% annual growth with a key Trump campaign promise. On Friday the President took his victory lap.


TRUMP: Once again we are the economy envy of the entire world. When I met the leaders of countries the first thing they say invariably, is Mr. President, so nice to meet you, congratulations on your economy. You're leading the entire world. They say it almost each and every time.


VANIER: So just to be clear, the quarterly growth is just of above 4%. That's performance of this year and Donald Trump believes that will lead to a yearly growth of three plus percent.

The growth is the result of a number of factors coming together. Business investment rose as companies invested some of the money from tax cuts. Consumer spending and spending by the U.S. government also increased. And the trade war actually helped as well because U.S. export grows as foreign buyers were stocking up on American products that could layer to be hit with tariffs.

And the President' top economic adviser says, this report is not a fluke.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: This is a boom that will be sustainable. Frankly, as far as the eye can see, this is no one-shot effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Earlier I spoke with Monica Mehta, a managing principal at Seventh Capital. I asked her to grade President Trump's performance on the economy so far.


MONICA MEHTA, MANAGING PRINCIPAL AT SEVENTH CAPITAL: I think right now, you know, I would give him a -- I would give him an A, an A minus. In general you can't really complain about the economy right now, the consumers feeling confident. In general if you want a new job the job market is good enough that you can leave your current position and find something new, consumers generally feel confidence and when they feel that way they're spending.

Businesses have gotten a huge spin from the tax cut and you saw that play out in terms of spending in the first quarter which was at by $11 and in this last quarter, it was up by 7% for things like infrastructure equipment, intellectual property.

But I think in this last set of GDP numbers that came out today there was definitely a big gemmy in there for Dond Trump, which came in the form of a one time events with a lot of company that are fearing trade war that rushed to push exports now before tariffs come in, in July. And you saw that in particular with soybeans, and so there was a huge rushed to export soybeans.

When you look --

VANIER: So that's means if there's a temporary surge in exports then what happens when that trade war actually really kicks in and the tariff actually really started to buy, that's kind of go down then?

MEHTA: Absolutely. So the reason that they're rushing to export is because they're expecting demand for U.S. goods to go down from China once the 25% tariff hit. And they're already starting to see in the category of soybeans where we did see this big rush to export. We're already seeing China, the buyers in China moving deliveries towards to Brazil.

VANIER: Monica Mehta there from Seventh Capital.

First it was deadly flooding, then a crippling wave and now Japan is getting ready for another strong storm as a month of extreme weather continues.

If there anything we learn from that recording of Donald Trump speaking with his former attorney it's that the President still has a soft drink of choice. I have more on that later.


[03:17:12] VANIER: More than 80 massive wildfires are burning across the United States. One of the biggest is the deadly Carr Fire in Northern California. 100 of firefighters are working to control it, but hot and windy conditions are fueling the flames. Nearly 20000 hectares have been torched with 500 structures already destroyed. Authorities believe a malfunctioning vehicle started that flame on Monday.

An extreme heat is making life miserable for people across Western Europe. It is not letting up yet. We've been telling you about this for a few days. Now it's also increasing the spread of wildfires in Sweden. Just like it contributed to the deadly fires in Greece last week. Erin McLaughlin takes a look at the devastation.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fires have gone but the devastation remains. An eerie silence has fallen in this Greek village, where houses once stood, now they're just charred remains. Nothing was spared. Authorities believe arson is to blame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time in 38 years of my service seeing so much catastrophe from a fire.

MCLAUGHLIN: As the blaze tore through the coastal village of Rafina, many sought refuge in the water. But many didn't make it. Dozens died, almost 200 were injured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I feel a pain in my heart, a very heavy load, a very big burden.

MCLAUGHLIN: Greece is not alone. Across Europe, tinder dry conditions, combined with a scorching heat wave, are stretching emergency services to the limit. In Sweden, a fire front continues to burn out of control. Even the country's air force has been deployed to help, dropping a bomb to try to starve a nearby fire of oxygen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is not something we've done before. So we've been working closely with the rescue leader and we have done meticulous calculations.

MCLAUGHLIN: Germany, too, is dealing with its own fires, including one which forced the closure of a major motorway. But its emergency services are also being deployed in other ways.

Amid sweltering temperatures, firefighters in Cologne are being used to water the trees, while in Berlin, the water cannon usually reserved for riot control has been brought out, this time, though, to keep the heat at bay.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


VANIER: And Japan is bracing for a powerful typhoon that could dump up to 500 millimeters of rain in 24 hours. Typhoon Jongdari, that's its name, is threatening to unleash its heaviest rainfall around Tokyo. However, officials warm it could also hit the west of the country. Remember Western Japan already saw deadly flooding earlier this month. Meteorologist, Derek Van Dam joins us with the latest on the storm. What do we know? [03:20:11] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, some of the outer rain bands from Jongdari are already reaching Tokyo and some of the outside prefectures there in south central part of Mainland. And that looks as if the worst will come before it improved in that area over the next 24 hours.

Let's take a lot and you will able to see the latest satellite information from the Joint Typhoon Warming Center. Sustained winds 160 kilometers per hour, if you look closely on the satellite image, you can see a small common centric eye right at the center of that circulation. That is just to the south of Tokyo. But it's always that northeastern quadrant of a typhoon because of its counter clockwise circulation that we see the most abrupt force from storm.

This is at least valid for the northern hemisphere. And we're going to see a large area of strong winds pushing to that region, just to the south of Tokyo. We could easily see gusts in excess of 100 kilometers per hour, within the next three hours, on top of that, excessive rainfall.

The only thing that's maybe some silver lining here is that -- this is a very fast-moving storm. So the fact that it's moving at a northwesterly direction of 43 kilometers per hour means that it will come in, it will do its worst and then move on very quickly. And that's going to limit our fall potential across the area. Still big numbers that are going to come out of the mainland of Japan. We don't need any additional rainfall because remember the ground is already very saturated from a few weeks ago when we had the flash flooding and unfortunately the fatalities.

But if this was a slower storm, these numbers would certainly be higher than this. Not we want to hear though because we still have another 250 millimeters of rain on areas if you recall a couple of weeks ago, so over a thousand millimeters. So the ground is extremely saturated and any additional rainfall could exacerbate. The problem could cause more flooding and remember even the topography here is quite mountainous. So the potential for flash flooding and also wind slides and mudslide still a main threat.

Now, other thing to talk about here is -- well, the potential for a little bit cooler weather, settling in because of the amount of cloud cover. It's been extremely hot there. We know there's been fatalities, thanks to the heat and humidity but with this typhoon moving through across the region it is brought down our temperatures, somewhat giving us some minimum relief still extremely humid in the region but at least we're not seeing those heat in the C values in the 40s like we were at this time last week.

So I wish we just had mere things to talk about here across Japan, including heat waves and excessive rainfall. It looks as if the next 24 hours will be difficult for the country but it will improved once the storm makes its way out by Sunday afternoon.

VANIER: Fingers crossed because I remember you told us about, you know, the death toll was more than 200 dead --

DAM: Yes, from the flood --

VANIER: -- in western Japan.

DAM: -- from the flashflood and --

VANIER: -- and then over 80 fatalities because of excessive heat. Derek Van Dam, as well as all the CNN weather center, thank you very much.

DAM: All right.

VANIER: And there is still no final vote count, no definitive result in Pakistan after the country's general election. However, Imran Khan and his movement for justice party have declared victory. This has been remains a disputed election. Every other political party says it was rigged. Some are threatening protest unless there is a new vote.

Khan is the natural hero from his days a cricket star. He is also seen as the military's favorite candidate. The European Union has cast doubts on Wednesday's vote. In fact E.U. observers say there are signs of a systemic effort to undermine the governing party. They're urging that anyone who challenged the election results do so legally.

An outspoken critic of this election knows Khan very well. Her name Reham Khan, she is a journalist. She is also one of Imran Khan ex- wives. Here is what she is telling CNN about the man who would be prime minister.


REHAM KHAN, IMRAN KHAN EX-WIFE: I don't have personal vendetta and I'm not happy for Pakistan because it's not Imran. If it wasn't Imran it's actually there would be another puppet. So for me Imran is the way this -- the wrecking has happened. It's been so blatant to show very clearly who the boss is, and the boss is neither Imran or any other politician.


VANIER: Now the U.S. President is threatening to impose large sanctions on Turkey if it doesn't permit an American pastor to return to the United States.

Andrew Brunson is now under house arrest in Turkey. On Wednesday he was allowed to live jail. He was arrested in 2016 in a crackdown after an attempted coup. Now he says, he is not guilty of the charges against him including espionage or having links to terrorism.

Now our senior U.S. official says President Trump has asked Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help secure Brunson release with a prisoner swap. Turkey says, they never made any kind of deal and letting its court decide what to do with Brunson.

[03:25:00] After you see this, you will never tell yourself that something is impossible ever again. A Russian army veteran who is a quadruple amputee has set a Russian diving record by descending 30 meters in open water. He is the only such person to accomplish the feat. Dmitry Pavlenko lost all four limbs in a landmine blast when he was 19. Russian record keepers witnessed his 15 minute dive Thursday all of this happened in the Black Sea.

It's not exactly Watergate when Donald Trump gets caught on tape ordering a coke. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on why this secretly recorded conversation is so popular.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talk about grasping at straws. Have you heard the juiciest part of the Trump/Cohen tape?

TRUMP: Give me a Coke, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't have a legitimate --

MOOS: Incontrovertible evidence of the thirsty President.

TRUMP: Get me a coke, please.

MOOS: Living up to his reputation for daily consumption of --


JORDAN KLEPPER, COMEDY CENTRAL, THE OPPOSITION: That's 144 ounces of President fuel.

MOOS: You'd be surprised how many commenters tweeted, my favorite part is when he yells, "get me a coke, please."

Others ranked it up with "mom, the meatloaf" from "Wedding Crashers"

WILL FERRELL, CHAZZ REINHOLD IN WEDDING CRASHERS: Hey, Ma, could we get some meatloaf?

MOOS: There were comparisons to JFK my fellow Americans --

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask --

TRUMP: Get me a coke please.

MOOS: But there was one thing that got the most comments that even critics found pleasing.

@REALDCJ23: Wow, he said please.

@LADYAND BILLS: He said Please? Must be a fake.

@CAPITALISHCUTTY: Trump says, please to the help. That's my President.

MOOS: He hasn't always been complementary about his favorite beverage. Tweeting, I have never seen a thin person drinking diet coke. And -- I'll still keep drinking that garbage. Jimmy Fallon once chronicled the President's behavior as he downed his daily dozen.

TRUMP: The American dream is dead. Bing, bing, bong, and that. God bless the united church.

MOOS: Now he has a red button on his oval office desk to push when he wants a Coke. But when he was a candidate, he actually had to speak.

TRUMP: Get me a coke, please.

MOOS: As one commenter noted, things including hush money go better with Coke. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


VANIER: Thanks for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got your headlines. I'm back in two minutes with those, stay with us.