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Rudy Giuliani Contradicts Himself; Interview With Rep. Jim Himes; Omarosa Records Conversations in The White House. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 13, 2018 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your "New Day". Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me, which is awesome on this Monday.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks John Berman.

BERMAN: It makes Monday worth wile.

HILL: You know your making my Monday worth wile.

BERMAN: You're just saying that.

HILL: It's just a happy morning.

BERMAN: You're just saying that because you have to. This morning a glaring case of revision is history, Rudy Giuliani contradicting Rudy Giuliani telling CNN that President Trump never discussed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

But then FBI Director James Comey, of course James Comey testified under oath that that conversation happened. And it was just a month ago that Giuliani himself clearly said the president had asked Comey to give Flynn quote a break. In an oval office meeting before he fired Comey.

HILL: President Trump's inner circle also a major focus on this Monday morning. Remember when the president said this on the campaign trail?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to make America great again. We're going to use our best people.

I'm going to get the best people.

We're going to deliver. We're going to get the best people in the world.

We don't want people that are B level, C level, D level. We have to get our absolute best.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: One of - it's tough to forget.

BERMAN: I do remember that now that you mention it.

HILL: It was a point that was driven home several times. One of the people he hired. One of the absolute best is a White House Aid, former apprentice star Omarosa Manigault-Newman. She is now promoting her new tell all memoir, with some explosive claims. So what does the president think now?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel betrayed by Omarosa sir?


TRUMP: Lowlife. She's a lowlife.


HILL: The president making that comment before Omarosa released secretly recorded audio from inside the White House situation room. Audio she claims in the moment Chief of Staff John Kelly fired her. She also say's she refused to accept hush money to stay silent after leaving the White House.

So how will the president and the White House respond today? Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Boris Sanchez who's live in New Jersey near the presidents Bedminster - easy for me to say, residence. Boris good morning.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning Erica. Rudy Giuliani the president's attorney is insisting that this is all just a miss understanding. He's attributing what he calls confusion to a device used in legal argumentation known as arguing and the alternative.

He say's the president never had a conversation with James Comey about Michael Flynn, though he didn't quite make that clear in previous statements. Meantime the White House is responding to these astounding claims. And it's recording by Omarosa something that could lead her to very serious charges.

Rudy Giuliani is again changing his story. Now saying President Trump will deny ever telling FBI director James Comey to ease up on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMPS LAWYER: The president say's he never told Comey that he should go easy on Flynn. If he goes in and testifies to that under oath, instead of just this being a dispute they can say its prudery, if they elect to believe Comey instead of Tump.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: But just a month ago Giuliani said the exact opposite.


GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that. What he said to him was can you give him a break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comey say's he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: Well that's OK.


SANCHEZ: Comey has always insisted Trump asked him to take it easy on Flynn. And say's he has the contemporaneous notes to prove it. Flynn has since pleaded guilt to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with the Special Councils investigation.

Giuliani later back tracking claiming he was repeating Comey's words not the presidents.


GIULIANI: The conversation never took place. But if it did take place, and here's the conversation that's alleged. It is not illegal to have said that.


[07:05:00]SANCHEZ: All of this comes as former White House Aid Omarosa Manigault Newman releases a recording that she secretly made inside the White House situation room back in December When Chief of Staff John Kelly fired her.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If we make this a friendly departure we can all be - you know you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.


SANCHEZ: Omarosa who is promoting her controversial tell all book about her year in the White House, says the recording was the only way to defend herself.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AID: The Chief of Staff of the United States under the direction of the President of the United States threatening me, on damage to my reputation, and things getting ugly for me, that's down right criminal.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: The White House is slamming the recording as a national security breach, the president not mincing words about his former aid.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel betrayed by Omarosa sir?

TRUMP: Lowlife. She's a lowlife.


SANCHEZ: Omarosa was the last African American to work in a high level position in the White House. When pressed to name another White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway could not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that say to not have a single senior advisor in the west wing who's African American?

KELLYANN CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I didn't say that there wasn't. But hold on.


CONWAY: There are plenty of people if you're going by that, and not by the actions of the president which you probably should. Then you should look at the fact that we have a number of different minorities.


SANCHEZ: Now there are other aspects to this Omarosa recording that lead to very serious questions. Not just how she was able to record in what is supposed to be a secure setting. But also why did John Kelly feel it was necessary to take Omarosa into the situation room to dismiss her?

And further what was he talking about in that recoding when he referred to very serious integrity issues that she may have committed? I asked the White House about this John and Erica. They have yet to respond.

BERMAN: All right, Boris Sanchez we'll put those questions to Mark Short who worked in the White House at that time in just a little bit. In the meantime I want to bring in CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffery Toobin. CNN Senior Political Nia-Malika Henderson.

Counselor Jeffery to you first on Rudy Giuliani who now is contradicting Rudy Giuliani, on what was discussed between President Trump and James Comey, interesting for a lawyer to do so.

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well it is interesting but it's also I think consistent with what a lot we've seen from Giuliani lately, which is what he calls arguing in the alternative, which means just giving people choices about what to believe. Here he says well you could, you could believe that this conversation

never took place. Or if the conversation took place it wasn't a criminal act by the president. I mean this is how - he's made the similar point about collusion. There was no collusion. But if there was collusion it wasn't criminal.

I mean these are arguments that are essentially not - they're designed to give the presidents supports a variety of choices. Not so much to persuade people of any one in particular. Just like anything, anyway you look at the evidence it helps the president.

HILL: Does the truth figure anywhere in this?

TOOBIN: I - I - you know that's the problem with arguing in the alternative. Lawyers are doing the alternative in courtrooms all the time. But here in a public setting, people are not lawyers. They are ordinary people. And they just want to know what happened. And when you argue in the alternative it can sound a little legalistic.

HILL: Yes. That's why I would like to call it a choose your own adventure.

TOOBIN: Yes, that's fair enough.

HILL: Less legal ease, just a thought. When we look at this though politically and how it's playing, look we know that there are people who have already made up their minds about this investigation which we have no idea what their actually looking at. We really don't. Because we don't know how broad it is at this point. We don't know when it's going to end.

These are the details then people would like to ignore. But when we look at this Nia-Malika and we look at where we are, and when you have Rudy Giuliani putting out these options essentially. Is - are we at a point where we can tell her whether this is starting to help or hurt republicans?

Because we sort of know where the president's supporters are, but as we're moving towards November and Rudy Giuliani is bringing up the midterms how is it playing?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISOR: You know we don't know. We obviously have sort of the evidence of these elections. The primaries, the president strong obviously with his base and able to pull people across the line of that he endorses in primaries.

And special elections a bit of a mixed bag and you see voters really acting differently in terms of the way they behaved in 2016. Suburban, White, college educated voters kind of fleeing the republican party. And you saw that in this last special election in Ohio.

Rudy Giuliani is starting to argue that listen you've got to put republicans in office. Keep republicans in office if you want to prevent this president from being impeached. You have sort of fringed democrats talking about impeachment as well. People like Tom Steyer. But it's certainly not a major argument of any of the leadership. Or many of the candidates either.

And we don't know. We don't know when Mueller is going to release something. You hear Giuliani obviously saying oh he's got to release it by September 1st. That's not really true so we'll see how this plays out. I think the big thing will be in November we don't know what's going to happen.

We have finds of a way, we have finds that Giuliani on the one hand thinks it's this will hurt. On the other hand he thinks somehow it will help if he draws it out. So he's basically doing kind of playing both sides at this point.

BERMAN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin I want to shift gears to Omarosa. Our friend Maggie Haberman at the "New York Times" just reported that the White House believes there could be dozens of tapes made by Omarosa. We've heard one, which is the recording of her getting fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly.

TOOBIN: Right.

[07:10:00] BERMAN: The White House apparently believes there may be dozens of recordings that you made. Maggie also reports incidentally that she's got information that there were other recordings made by other people who worked in the west wing. My reaction to that is wow.

TOOBIN: Wow, indeed. I mean, I don't even think you tape your colleagues at CNN in your private conversations.

BERMAN: Not as far I know, but no. It obviously is a very strange workplace, the West Wing of the White House. And, you know, it raises the question if the president believes Omarosa is now a lowlife, what kind of judgment does it show that he hired her in the first place and spoke so highly of her and what does she know that - I mean, you know, the tape itself with John Kelly, there's nothing particularly outrageous about anything that Kelly says.

The question is why was she taping in the first place and how can you run a workplace in the single most secure place in the United States where people are taping each other in the Situation Room? I mean, when you go into the Situation Room, you're supposed to surrender your cell phones, put them in a locker. I mean, what kind of workplace allows this kind of craziness to take place?

HILL: Well, she also made the point that the reason the conversations were taped were because this is a White House where everybody lies. That for (ph) Omarosa - I mean, Omarosa is not exactly known for her standing as a moral compass in some cases, but when that's the reasoning that's being given, too, you can't ignore that.

You also can ignore - I mean, are there legal ramifications here, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: You know, I doubt it. I mean, she worked there. It is a employment customer to turn in your cell phone when you go into the Situation Room. I don't think it's a legal requirement, but I think it's indicative of a pretty crazy and disorderly workplace that, first of all, that she worked there in the first place, how she behaved when she was there, and what's she's done since she's left.

BERMAN: Again, the best people - we played that amazing montage in the beginning there of how the president claims he would hire the best people. Omarosa was a reality show contestant among other things. That's how the president knew her. In some ways, what's happening is the least surprising development you could conceive based on how her employment went.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. I mean, she is probably one of the best reality show contestants in reality show history, right? I mean, you imagine if you are Donald Trump, you see in Omarosa something of a kindred spirit.

I mean, they both used to be Democrats. The both, obviously, made their way to the White House on the back of reality TV show. They both understand the media landscape. They both have a somewhat slippery relationship with the truth. They also are very dramatic and they know how to put on a show. I mean, that's what has stuck me about these last couple of days and seeing this roll out. She really, I think, has captured people's imagination first interviewing 'Meet the Press'. She'll be on the 'Today Show' at some point.

So yes, I mean, it's not surprising that if you're Donald Trump you want someone like Omarosa because they have been in each other's lives for years. I think she was on three different versions of his reality show, and he complemented her at some point. He said, "listen, you're one of the reasons that I'm so famous," because she was so instrumental in those first seasons of the reality show 'The Apprentice'.

And so, in some ways, no surprise that she was there and no surprise that it ended in such a spectacular way.

TOOBIN: I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea of one of the greatest reality show contestants of all time. Is there like a hall of fame they have -

HENDERSON: She's in it. Donald Trump's probably in it -

TOOBIN: - you being (ph) 'Survivor', 'The Apprentice" -

HILL: We're going to come back to (inaudible) in the 8 o'clock hour.

TOOBIN: 'The Bachelorette' hall of fame -

BERMAN: 16 Candles the Anthony Michael Hall (ph) comment. No, king of the (inaudible). You know, I get that's kind of cool.

TOOBIN: That's correct.

[07:15:00]BERMAN: Details following (inaudible). Jeffrey Toobin, Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks so much. I will not as much as there are people laughing at all of this, we're talking about the West Wing of the White House. We're talking about the White House where the decisions for this country are made and this stuff that's going on raises serious questions. HILL: It does raise serious questions, and that - and to your point, that's why were discussing it. Yes, you can have a little fun with it, but there is very serious stuff happening here.

Also want to bring you up to speed here on breaking news, North and South Korea announcing plans to hold another summit. This will be the third meeting between both nations since relations have thawed. CNN's Will Ripley who has traveled to North Korea more than a dozen times joining us now with more. Will, good morning.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESONDENT: Hi Erica. We learned overnight that the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, will travel to Pyongyang sometime in September. The date has not been officially announced yet, but this a big deal. It's the first time that a South Korean president will travel to Pyongyang in more than a decade since 2007, and it comes at a time that the relations between North and South Korea seem to be warming up, but relations with North Korea and the U.S. have really hit a standstill at the moment.

Denuclearization talks have ground to a halt. Last week, North Korea put out that statement at the United Nations blasting the U.S. saying that the U.S. is not moving on sanctions relief and a peace treaty and that North Korea could potentially walk away from denuclearization talks, although North Korean officials have also hinted to me that they are hoping for a second summit later this year with President Trump.

Now, we know that President Moon of South Korea often has served as an intermediary during this process. The last time he met with Kim Jong- un, he flew immediately to Washington. He briefed President Trump before his historic summit in Singapore in June. So could this second summit sometime in November - this third summit rather sometime in November between Moon and Kim Jon-un be laying the groundwork for yet another meeting later in the year with President Trump? John, we have to watch very closely at what comes next.

BERMAN: All right. Will Ripley, you are watching very closely and we're very glad for that. Good to have you there. Omarosa said she needed to record conversations in the White House because, quote, "everyone lies." Marc Short worked in the White House with Omarosa. He joins us next. Don't go anywhere.


The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, now claims that the president never asked former FBI Director, James Comey, to drop an FBI investigation into Michael Flynn, but that's not what he said a month ago. Here's how Jake Tapper confronted Giuliani with his own words.

[07:20:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The president says he never told Comey that he should go easy on Flynn. Comey says the president did. He put it in his memo. If he goes in and testifies to that under oath, instead of just this being a dispute, they can say it's perjury, if they elect to believe Comey instead of Trump.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CNN HOST: How is a good witness for the president if he's saying that the president was asking, directing him, in his words, to let the Michael Flynn investigation go?

GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that. What he said to him was, can you ...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Comey says he took it as direct.

GIULIANI: Well, that's okay. I mean, taking it that way, I mean by that time he had been fired.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, you didn't direct him to what he said, was can you can give him a break? You said that? I mean ...

GIULIANI: I -- yes, I said it, but I also said, before, that I'm talking about their version of it. Look, lawyers argue in the alternative. I know it's complicated, but my goodness, we've been over it long enough, I mean, why would I say something that isn't true?


BERMAN: Well, he said two things. He said two completely different things. Let's discuss with Democratic Congressman, Jim Himes of Connecticut. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee. Which one of those things do you believe to be true, Congressman?

REP. JIM HIMES, D-CT.: Well, there's no question, and I know this from having read the contemporaneous memos that Jim Comey wrote, as well as having spoken with Jim Comey, that Jim Comey was pressured by the president in a one-on-one dinner, in the White House, to go easy on Flynn.

Now, did he use the exact words, drop the investigation, I don't think necessarily and maybe that's where Giuliani is working this, but as you pointed out, he's contracting himself and there's not question, remember this is the President of the United States in the White House, being pretty clear with the director of the FBI about what he wanted. So, I just don't know where Giuliani's stories are coming from.

BERMAN: Well, his new story appears to be that no conversation happened, period. Another argument would be that James Comey's version of the story isn't the president's version of the story.

Rudy Giuliani, as the president's lawyer, could argue that the president has a different memory of what was discussed. He seems to be arguing that nothing was discussed.

HIMES: Well, two things to remember, John, number one, remember there were two, at least, conversations in which the president deliberately cleared the room to have a conversation with Jim Comey. One of those, of course, is at Trump Tower, before the inauguration, when there's been this briefing in which the president cleared the room. The second, of course, and I think there may be even been a third, is the dinner where Jim Comey arrives at the White House to discover that the dinner is, in fact, just a table for two.

So, we know the president, on at least two or three occasions, set up situations where there was no one else in the room but him and Jim Comey and then we have the memorandum that Jim Comey wrote, contemporaneously, in some cases right after having those meetings and the conversations that Jim Comey had with his senior staff at the FBI.

So, if there were two people in the room and there were no recording devices, we may never know for sure, but when you look at the bulk of the facts, it does not look good for the president.

BERMAN: Rudy Giuliani says that the president will not do an interview with Robert Mueller after September 1st, because it is too close to the election. Do you think that Mueller should say, no interview after September 1st as well? Do you believe it would be inappropriate for the president to be interviewed between September 1st and November?

HIMES: Well, I guess I've got two things to say about that John. Number one, Rudy Giuliani and no defendant and no suspect and no target gets to tell prosecutors how they run their investigations. That's true of you, me, that's true of the two bit drug dealer standing on the corner, it's true of the President of the United States. Nobody gets -- nobody is above the law.

Number two, if we learned one thing from the whole Comey announcement of the investigation into Hillary Clinton and then the investigation was over and then the investigation was back, was that the Department of Justice generally, and the FBI cannot factor in the timing of elections in how and when they make certain moves.

So, my hope is, first of all, that Mueller is allowed to continue his investigation unimpeded, and secondly, that he does it on the timetable that is important not to his version of not affecting the election, because people could have different versions, but actually getting the truth out there in a competent way.

[07:25:00] BERMAN: The tradition inside the Justice Department, the guidelines, this is not written law, are that they try to avoid doing things that would influence politics before an election and there's no set timetable there, but that is tradition. Do you think that is tradition that should be followed?

HIMES: Well again, it's a case specific thing, so it's hard to know. Remember, the President of the United States is not on the ballot in November. This is not a presidential election, this is a Congressional and Senatorial and local election.

So again, I would hope the bias within the FBI and within the investigation would be to do their work without trying to game out how something may or may not affect the election. That, of course, was Jim Comey's mistake. He violated protocol, look, and I'm a -- I'm a -- I'm a -- I respect Jim Comey. I think he's a good man. I think he made a mistake in deciding he was going to try to game, try

to figure out what would be the least impactful way of announcing and conducting an investigation.

And my hope would be, particularly since the president is not on the ballot, that Robert Mueller would continue his investigation in the way he thinks is best to get at the truth.

BERMAN: Congressman, you are part of a bipartisan election security bill. Always love to hear the word bipartisan in front of anything these days. Explain to me what you're trying to get passed.

HIMES: Yes. No, it's just the fact that this is bipartisan is a good thing, because, of course, we've heard ambiguity out of the White House about who attacked us and whether the Russians did it and all that good stuff.

But Tom Rooney and I, who we are the Chairman and the Ranking Member, respectively, of the Cyber Security Sub-Committee of Intelligence, have put forward a bill that is -- would be a small part of the overall effort of providing the resources and providing the kinds of communication and propagation of best practices that would allow us to have more confidence than we do today in the security of knowing that the Russians couldn't do what they did to us, again, in November of 1916 -- sorry, November of 2016, time for another cup of coffee. And give us confidence that our elections are not hackable.

BERMAN: I do not believe the Russians have been accused of swaying the election of Woodrow Wilson, although we will look into that at the break. Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, thanks so much for being with us. I do appreciate it.

HIMES: Thanks John.

HILL: Omarosa Manigault-Newman just releasing a new conversation she says she had with President Trump the day after she was fired. We will play that for you next.