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Trump Rattled by White House Counsel's Cooperation with Mueller Investigation; Feds Prepping Charges against Michael Cohen; Awaiting Manafort Verdict. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now: extensive cooperation. Sources say President Trump is unsettled after learning White House counsel Don McGahn met for more than 30 hours with Robert Mueller's team without revealing to the president's legal team what was discussed.

Is the president's latest frenzied attack on Mueller a sign that the Russia investigation is closing in on the Oval Office?

Verge of charges: CNN has learned prosecutors are preparing charges against President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, and those charges could be announced within days.

Will that push Cohen into telling all, all he knows about his long- time boss?

Still deliberating: jurors weigh the evidence for a third day in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

What's behind the judge's private conferences with lawyers from both sides?

And presidential insults: showing new signs that he's shaken and unsettled, President Trump lashes out in all directions, calling Robert Mueller's team, and I'm quoting the President of the United States, "thugs."

Is Melania Trump trolling her husband by speaking out against cyber bullying?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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BLITZER: President Trump unleashes another torrent of abuse on Twitter, sounding frantic, as he calls special counsel Robert Mueller "disgraced and discredited," calling his investigators "angry Democrat thugs."

That follows a "The New York Times" report that White House counsel McGahn met for more than 30 hours with Mueller's team and sources now say the president was rattled after learning about that extensive cooperation.

And there are now new questions about the president's legal team, as Rudy Giuliani tries to walk back his Orwellian declaration that, quote, "truth isn't truth." I'll speak with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of the Judiciary Committee.

And our correspondents and specialists are standing by with full coverage. But let's begin with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, bravado and insults from the president. But he really seems unsettled right now by the latest twists in the Mueller investigation.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The president said to be unnerved and unsettled by all of this. Despite that, the president and his legal team are downplaying this revelation that White House counsel Don McGahn spoke to the Mueller team for some 30 hours to tell what he knows about the Russia investigation.

And critics are blasting this decision to allow McGahn to talk to the special counsel's office but one source familiar with McGahn's testimony tells CNN, the president's team could still try to block Mueller from using the White House counsel's testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McGahn, was it a mistake to have you speak without limits to special counsel Mueller?

ACOSTA (voice-over): It's the latest sign that the Russia investigation is inching closer to the Oval Office. One of the president's closest advisers, White House counsel Don McGahn, sitting down with special counsel Robert Mueller's team. But President Trump tweeted, "That's no big deal," insisted he allowed it, stating, "Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller spent over 30 hours with the White House counsel only with my approval for purposes of transparency."

Much of Washington is second guessing the decision to allow McGahn to testify. Part of the old Trump team strategy to cooperate led by former outside attorney John Dowd and ex-White House attorney, Ty Cobb.

The president's lawyers don't exactly know what was said during McGahn's 30 hours of testimony as they were never fully briefed.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Don McGahn has no choice then but to go in and answer everything, every question they can ask him. And this is not in the president's interest, it wasn't in the president's interest.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But a source familiar with McGahn's testimony argues the White House could still assert executive privilege over what McGahn told Mueller's team, setting up a potential battle over any information provided to prosecutors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe that, no, in terms of jeopardy to the president, I don't see the downside to having McGahn go in and talk with them and Dowd's specifically said that McGahn was a strong witness.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Questions are also being raised about the president's current legal team after what his outside attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said over the weekend about Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian attorney.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: They didn't know that she was a representative of the Russian government and indeed she is not a representative of the Russian government. If this is their case for collusion, good luck, Mueller.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. According to e-mails released by Trump Jr., an associate described the Russian attorney as "the crown prosecutor of Russia, offering official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump. Giuliani then took issue --

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ACOSTA (voice-over): -- with the notion of objective truths.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well, that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth, not the truth. He didn't have a conversation --

(CROSSTALK)

CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST (voice-over): Truth is truth. I don't mean to go like --

GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Giuliani's stunning words that the "truth isn't truth" could easily become an unintended motto of the Trump era.

GIULIANI: Truth isn't truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now as for Giuliani's comment that the truth isn't truth, the president's outside lawyer did later tweet he only meant to describe the Russia investigation as something of a he said/she said.

That being said, Wolf, it's still how the president's own lawyers defining Mr. Trump who revels in describing the journalists who cover this White House as fake news. Wolf, it sounds like "1984" meets 2018 and it's a far cry from the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty amazing, what's going on.

Also breaking right now, Jim, the president just, in an interview with Reuters, what are we learning from that?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. The president gave an interview to the Reuters News Service earlier today. And he was asked about whether or not he would consider relaxing sanctions on Russia. He did say he would consider that, if he could get Vladimir Putin's cooperation on the Ukraine and Syria.

Obviously, those are two points of contention for this White House, for this administration. And it has been going back to the Obama administration.

But, Wolf, that would require, my understanding would be, for Vladimir Putin to give up Crimea, back to Ukraine. That is obviously something that is not going to happen anytime soon.

And so while the president is saying he may look at relaxing sanctions on Russia, it is unclear what scenario would bring that about. And we're still waiting to find out more from what the president said in that interview -- Wolf.

BLITZER: If you get clarification, let us know. Jim Acosta, over at the White House, thank you very much.

CNN has also learned that prosecutors are now putting together charges against the president's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, and those charges could be revealed within days. Cohen has recently made it clear he may end up cooperating.

Let's go to our national correspondent, Athena Jones; she's in New York for us.

Athena, what are you hearing?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the timing of these charges is still in question. We know that federal prosecutors are mindful of the election cycle when deciding when to charge. They want to avoid taking actions that could affect an election. So they're considering bringing charges either before September or waiting until after the midterm elections are over to do so. Either way, it is pretty clear, charges are coming.

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JONES (voice-over): Tonight, sources tell CNN, federal prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and long-time fixer, and could announce them by the end of the month.

Cohen, seen entering his lawyer's office this morning, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud and tax fraud, with investigators examining more than $20 million in loans obtained by Cohen and his family's taxi business, according to "The New York Times."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For years Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law.

JONES (voice-over): The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York is also investigating Cohen for possible campaign finance violations related to the $130,000 he paid porn star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 tryst with Trump.

Trump has denied the affair.

So just how exposed might the president be here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one most dangerous for the president is actually the campaign finance issue because that can lead to the president's knowledge or direction of Cohen to do this.

JONES (voice-over): A criminal indictment against Cohen could be a major setback for the president. Cohen worked alongside Trump for more than a decade. And after years of proclaiming his loyalty to his former boss, even saying he would take a bullet for Trump...

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.

JONES (voice-over): -- Cohen has reversed course dramatically in recent weeks, telling family and friends he is willing to cooperate with the feds to alleviate the pressure on himself and his family.

And just last month, releasing a secret recording of a conversation he had with Trump about a potential payoff related to another woman, former "Playboy" Playmate Karen McDougal...

KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYMATE: We were together 10 months.

JONES (voice-over): -- who claimed to have had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied the affair and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said no payment was ever made.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

COHEN: I'm all over that. And I spoke to Alan about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be --

TRUMP: What financing?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

JONES (voice-over): But while Cohen has expressed a willingness to cooperate with prosecutors, it isn't yet clear if they're interested in a deal or what information Cohen has to offer them.

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now one more thing here; John Dean, the former White House counsel that helped bring down Richard Nixon's presidency during Watergate, confirmed to CNN he has been talking with Cohen's lawyer --

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JONES: -- Lanny Davis in recent weeks, raising questions about whether Cohen is looking for advice on how to cooperate with prosecutors.

But Dean, who is also a CNN contributor, said he and Davis have known each other for years, dating back to President Clinton's impeachment, and that Davis has asked him about how events unfolded during Watergate.

Dean stressed he doesn't know any of the specifics of the Cohen case. And, remember, President Trump himself name-checked Dean, calling him "a rat" in a tweet over the weekend in response to a report about White House counsel Don McGahn, speaking with the special counsel's team -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All very, very interesting. Athena, thank you very much, Athena Jones in New York reporting.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Congressman, thanks for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. I want to get to the Michael Cohen developments in a moment. But let's start with the Russia investigation.

In your view, how important is the White House counsel Don McGahn's testimony now, 30 hours answering questions before Robert Mueller's team?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, it's extraordinary that the White House counsel would spend 30 hours with Mueller's team.

Obviously, going through in painstaking detail the events that have taken place throughout the Trump administration, presumably focused a lot on whether there was efforts to obstruct justice connected to the firing of James Comey, the withholding of information, the decision to urge others to go easy, what communications may have taken place with the Department of Justice, with or beyond Jeff Sessions.

So there's an amount of information that Don McGahn was in a position to be able to provide, that, on its own, may not be incriminating but could be a piece to the puzzle of the conspiracy that may have existed between the Trump campaign and Russia to sell out our democracy or the obstruction of justice that may have taken place thereafter.

BLITZER: President Trump said he approved of this Q&A session that McGahn gave Robert Mueller's team.

How transparent, how open do you think McGahn was with the Mueller team?

JEFFRIES: Well, I think when you spend 30 hours with the Mueller team, it's clear that Don McGahn, who's a lawyer, well respected in this town, understands that the worst thing that he could have done was to go into those conversations and not provide all of the information as truthfully as possible because that could subject him to criminal jeopardy.

And he clearly doesn't want do go down that pathway. So this is just another example of how meticulously the Mueller team is pursuing this investigation to get to the bottom of what took place. Eventually, they'll prepare a report to the Department of Justice, to the Congress, to the American people.

BLITZER: What does it tell you, Congressman, that the president now is comparing the Mueller investigation to McCarthyism and he's rejecting the idea that his own White House counsel -- and I'm quoting the President of the United States right now -- is "a John Dean-type rat"?

JEFFRIES: Well, the president is unhinged, clearly concerned, out of control, in the midst of a meltdown. Any other administration, we would call this extraordinary; in the Trump administration, we call it Monday.

This is behavior that should shock the conscience of the American people, that an individual who should be focused on dealing with the wage stagnation, for instance, that's affecting the middle class and the fact that the Trump economy is benefiting the privileged few, not everyday Americans.

But instead, he's attacking other fellow Americans, clearly, because he's concerned with what may be uncovered by the Mueller investigation and the other parallel investigations that are taking place.

BLITZER: In the midst of all of this, now the president's telling Reuters in this new interview today, that he would consider lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia if the Russians cooperated with the U.S. in Ukraine and Syria.

Your reaction?

JEFFRIES: Well, what I don't understand with this particular president is why he continues to try to play footsie with Vladimir Putin and Russia and refuses to acknowledge the fact that, one, they attacked our democracy with respect to the 2016 election and continue to do so, as opposed to taking steps to try to cozy up with them at the same time he attacks our allies in Mexico and Australia, the European Union, NATO, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, so on and so forth.

Something's very wrong with this individual who's sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

BLITZER: And give me your reaction to the president's statements earlier today on Twitter, that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is "disgraced and discredited," that his team is "a bunch of thugs."

There you see it, right there, "disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller," the way he's speaking about Mueller.

JEFFRIES: Well, it's a shameful statement. And unfortunately, what we have seen from my colleagues in the House of Representatives on the Republican side, is that they refuse to take steps to rein in this president without recognizing that we are separate and co-equal branches of the government in the House.

We don't work for Donald Trump, we work --

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JEFFRIES: -- for the American people. And they are enabling this type of behavior when they refuse to go at it aggressively. And that's shameful.

BLITZER: One final question, how worried should the president be about his former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, cooperating?

JEFFRIES: Well, he should be very concerned because Michael Cohen is someone who's obviously closely affiliated with Donald Trump and all of his business shenanigans that have taken place for decades and will be in a position to reveal that information to the federal prosecutors in Manhattan. That could spell trouble for Donald Trump.

BLITZER: If you're Michael Cohen, potentially cooperating; Don McGahn already cooperating. We'll see where all of that leads. Congressman, thanks, as usual.

JEFFRIES: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Up next, President Trump is reacting with bluster and insults but is he really rattled by the revelation that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, spent more than 30 hours talking to Robert Mueller's team?

And as federal prosecutors put together their charges against Michael Cohen, will the president's former fixer turn on his old boss?

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BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. Growing alarm inside the White House right now as President Trump's inner circle trying to grapple with the revelation that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, has provided more than 30 hours of testimony to Robert Mueller's investigators.

Let's discuss with our experts.

Laura Coates, we don't know what Don McGahn told the Mueller investigators but we do know that 30 hours is a long time.

How worried should the White House be?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They should be very worried because they don't have their attorney-client privilege that would protect the conversation between normally an attorney and the client.

The presumption is that because he works for the White House, he is the president's personal attorney. No, no. That's Giuliani and Jay Sekulow. He is for the Office of the President to the White House counsel in and of itself.

So without that protection, you have no idea what he talked for.

Remember, he's also somebody who was formally a campaign finance expert, and FEC commissioner, which means that there was a period in time when he would have known about maybe the Trump Tower meeting or about campaign contributions or anything that's happening.

So there's a lot of room to wiggle around in that 30 hours. A lot can be discussed, a lot of things can be very damning. And I suspect a very small portion was obstruction, if at all.

BLITZER: Jamie, the president insisted he allowed the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to cooperate. He posted this on Twitter.

"I allowed White House counsel Don McGahn and all other requested members of the White House staff to fully cooperate with the special counsel. In addition, we readily gave over 1 million pages of documents, most transparent in history. No collusion. No obstruction. Witch hunt."

So he's clearly downplaying the significance of all of this but the president's team was apparently caught off guard by all of this. And apparently, if you believe "The New York Times" and others, they don't fully know what Don McGahn told Mueller's team.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Correct. And I would say the most important two words in that tweet were "witch hunt!" We've called it unsettled. I would add uncertain, unraveled, maybe even to quote a certain book, unhinged.

Here's the thing about McGahn. He is someone who has stood up to the president before. They have had strained relationships for quite sometime.

And what did he stand up to the president for?

When the president wanted to fire Robert Mueller. So here we are again, at a hinge point, where nobody knows what Robert Mueller knows. But 30 hours, as Laura said, is a long time to tell them a lot of things.

BLITZER: Certainly is. And we also know that the president, all of a sudden making a comparison to John Dean, Don McGahn. John Dean, the White House counsel under Richard Nixon, who eventually testified against him.

Listen to this tweet, Chris, this is from the president.

"The failing 'New York Times' wrote a fake piece today, implying that, because White House council (sic) Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the special council (sic), he must be a John Dean-type RAT" -- all caps -- RAT.

"But I allowed him and all others to testify. I didn't have to. I have nothing to hide."

What does it say to you that he's making this comparison to John Dean?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: It reminds me of when there was some chatter after an ABC interview with Michael Cohen earlier this summer, where Michael Cohen -- in fact, Donald Trump's one-time personal attorney effectively said, like my loyalty is to country and family. This is the guy who said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump came out with a tweet the next day that said, "Michael Cohen won't flip. He's too trustworthy." I do think there's an element of that at work here, which is, Don McGahn's no John Dean rat. He's a good guy. Don McGahn, are you listening?

The problem I think, at some level, is, first of all, there's no allegations in "The New York Times" story that Don McGahn is a rat, number one.

Number two, even if he has given up the goods to the extent that they exist, he already did it. Any sort of cajoling, anger, surprise by the president, the damage, if there is damage to be done, is already done in those 30 hours.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And by the way --

BLITZER: Go ahead, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: -- most others would call John Dean a patriot.

Are we seeing the president defending Richard Nixon?

Because that seems to be what he's implying in that tweet.

Going back to the other point about how this sort of all began, according to "The New York Times" with Don McGahn, in the "You Can't Make This Up" category, he became suspicious allegedly after hearing, overhearing or hearing "The New York Times" report that one of the reporters had overheard two of the president's lawyers, speaking very loudly at a restaurant about the investigation, about how they differed with Don McGahn on their views as to how --

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GOLODRYGA: -- the president should proceed.

Don McGahn then gets suspicious, saying maybe the president's trying to throw me under the bus and thus begins this 30 hours' worth of testimony and cooperation.

COATES: You know, they almost give too much credit in both directions here, in my opinion. First of all, the magnanimous gesture of "I let the White House counsel speak" is a farce to me. You don't let the White House counsel do anything, Mr. President.

Number two, in terms of "I spoke as a willing person," well, Don McGahn, he really had no choice. It would have been an exercise in futility to try to fight and battle out in the court whether you had to comply with a subpoena if they actually gave you one for the special counsel.

BLITZER: He didn't have attorney-client privilege but what about executive privilege?

COATES: Exactly. That's the next point with executive privilege here, what may be a reason to protect him?

Because you do want the President of the United States to have very candid conversations with people who are in his circle. The president has no one to turn to, no one to rely on, he gives less than sage advice and makes less than sage decisions. That's the theory.

However, the courts have not fully resolved this issue of whether or not they have a true executive privilege with Don McGahn. But the public interest in knowing ultimately if a crime committed, that's a higher threshold and one that the court will always say, if justice will prevail, only if there's testimony or statements, that wins.

BLITZER: You know, Bianna, the president also compared Robert Mueller and his team to Joe McCarthy.

He tweeted this, "Study the late Joseph McCarthy because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that makes Joseph McCarthy look like a baby. Rigged witch hunt."

What do you make of that comparison? GOLODRYGA: Well, the irony is not lost on anyone except for perhaps the president, when he talks about Joe McCarthy in a negative sense, obviously in this tweet, when, on the other hand, you constantly hear him saying, where's my Roy Cohn, who was Joe McCarthy's right-hand man and saying that, oh, I need somebody who defends me. I need somebody who will speak what I want to be spoken to and will defend every word I say.

So I'm not sure why the president would choose to go after Joe McCarthy when, at the same time, he's saying he needs his Roy Cohn.

BLITZER: Yes. Everybody, stick around. There's a lot more we need to discuss.

Sources are now saying that President Trump is clearly rattled, his legal team in the dark over exactly what the White House counsel, Don McGahn, told Robert Mueller's team in those 30 hours of interviews.

Plus, the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, visits his own lawyer on this day, as federal prosecutors prepare charges, maybe coming in the next few days.

Will the former fixer now cooperate with the feds?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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1745

[17:45:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: -- does their precise or semi-precise timing of 6:15 mean? Well, we'll have to wait for another half hour or so -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll soon find out. What's at stake for Mueller and his team with the outcome of this trial, Jessica?

SCHNEIDER: This is an extremely high stakes trial. We've all been watching it very closely. This is the first time we have seen a trial from any of these indictments from the Robert Mueller probe. And, of course, we have seen the President calling it a witch-hunt, ramping up his tweets in recent weeks.

So, really, any acquittal of Paul Manafort, that would just add more fuel to that fire that Republicans have been putting out their to shut down this probe.

On the flip side here, if we get a conviction of Paul Manafort, even a partial conviction perhaps, it would lend credence to the Mueller probe continuing here and going on for perhaps several more weeks or perhaps even months. So, yes, a lot rides on this trial, Wolf. BLITZER: It certainly does. All right, Jessica, we'll stand by and

get ready to hear from you once we get word. Thank you.

Coming up, more on our top story. Could testimony from the top lawyer over at the White House help the Special Counsel build a case against the President of the United States?

Plus, new analysis of potential legal trouble for President Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr.

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[17:50:52] BLITZER: Tonight, renewed focus on potential legal trouble for President Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr. Our Brian Todd is covering this story for us.

Brian, what are you hearing from legal experts?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, experts are, again, looking at whether Donald Trump, Jr. could be facing legal trouble because of what President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has just said about that Trump Tower meeting in 2016.

Giuliani, in trying to defend Donald Trump, Jr., just brought more attention to conflicting accounts of that meeting, accounts which are now drawing attention to a potential violation of the law.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Are you bored of winning?

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the public scrutiny over the President's eldest son is intensifying. Questions over whether he could face legal trouble for that fateful Trump Tower meeting, gaining more attention.

Issuing a passionate defense of Donald Trump Jr., the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in denying any collusion, says Trump Junior didn't know before the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Natalia Veselnitskaya would be representing the Kremlin in the meeting.

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They didn't know she was a representative of the Russian government. And indeed, she is not a representative of the Russian government. So this is much ado about nothing.

TODD (voice-over): CNN has reported that Veselnitskaya did have ties to the Kremlin at the time of that Trump Tower meeting. Part of Giuliani's defense of Trump Junior is that he didn't actually get any dirt on Hillary Clinton.

GIULIANI: I don't know if they knew she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name.

TODD (voice-over): An e-mail Donald Trump, Jr. received before the meeting directly contradicts that.

Publicist Rob Goldstone who facilitated the meeting e-mailed Trump Junior a few days before the meeting, saying, quote, the crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia. That the information was, quote, part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump, Jr.'s response to Goldstone? If it's what you say, I love it.

LARRY NOBLE, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: It is clearly dishonest to say that they did not know that this was a meeting with somebody who is representing the Russian government.

TODD (voice-over): Where might Donald Trump, Jr. have specifically broken the law? Experts point to this federal statute saying, quote, a foreign national shall not directly or indirectly make a contribution of donation of money or other thing of value in connection with any federal, state, or local election.

NOBLE: The law prohibits taking anything of value, not just money but anything of value, and information is something of value.

TODD (voice-over): Legal experts say even if Donald Trump, Jr. didn't know that was against the law, he could still be prosecuted for taking the meeting. Part of Giuliani's defense of Trump, Jr. is that he didn't actually get dirt on Hillary Clinton at that meeting.

GIULIANI: It turned out to be a meeting about another subject, and it was not pursued at all.

TODD (voice-over): Can they get a conviction if they didn't get any information?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, absolutely. It's the notion of attempting to get it, taking the meeting, trying to get something of value. It doesn't necessarily have to bear fruition.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Taking that Trump Tower meeting isn't the only thing Donald Trump, Jr. could face legal trouble for, according to what legal analysts are telling us tonight. They say he could also be in jeopardy, possibly, for making false statements to Congress about it.

Trump, Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee last year that he never told his father about that Trump Tower meeting. But sources recently told CNN that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was prepared to tell Robert Mueller's team that Cohen was there when Trump, Jr. told his father beforehand of the meeting and that his father gave the go ahead.

The President denies ever knowing about the meeting. And Donald Trump, Jr.'s attorney has said they're in command of the facts and are confident of the accuracy and reliability of everything that he has told investigators -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Good report, thank you very much.

Coming up, following his latest Twitter rampage, sources say President Trump is rattled after learning the White House Counsel met for more than 30 hours with Robert Mueller's team without telling the President's lawyers just what was discussed.

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BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Trump's terms for Putin. The President is speaking out tonight, saying he is considering lifting sanctions on Russia if he got new some cooperation from the Kremlin. What does Mr. Trump want and will he get it?

Ratting out Trump? We're told the President is on edge tonight after learning that the White House Counsel spent more than 30 hours talking to Robert Mueller's team. What did Don McGahn reveal to the Special Counsel?

Charges expected. Prosecutors are maybe just days away from announcing criminal charges against Michael Cohen four months after the Feds raided the President's longtime fixer. Will that seal a deal for Cohen to flip?

[18:00:03] And be bested by Melania. The first lady makes a new appeal against cyberbullying despite critics' complaints that she is married to the cyberbullier-in-chief.