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Impeaching the President; Hawaii Braces for Hurricane; Lobbyist Working with Agriculture Department; Hearings on Trump-Cohen Payments; Cohen Go Fund Me Page. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 23, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: What I'm also saying is, if impeachment is warranted, then it should go forward when the Mueller investigation is complete. To be fair and consistent, I've told the Republicans they never should have tanked the investigation or shut it down on the House side. And to my Democratic colleagues I say, we need to let the American public know what happened, how to prevent this kind of thing in the future, but let Mueller's investigation complete.

Had they gone forward with impeachment proceedings when they wanted to months ago, yesterday's and the day before's information never would have become public, wouldn't have been part of that proceeding.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I do want to ask you about the House Intel, because you believe that Michael Cohen lied when he testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee in October. What do you think he lied about?

QUIGLEY: I think he lied about a variety of information and there was also some omissions. A lot of questions left to be answered. I said months ago that there were new documents, new evidence that call into question his testimony. I think what you're seeing in the last several weeks with Mr. Cohen is that he's clearing his conscience. I think that the House select Committee on Intelligence should have him back. Let him clear the air.

It was disturbing, and I guess also --

CAMEROTA: Hold on. Let me just stop you there. Are you calling him back like right after Labor Day?

QUIGLEY: That would be up -- look, the ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, has refused to let the investigation stop on the House side. However difficult, we've gone forward interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents. It will be up to the ranking Democrat to -- whether or not to ask Mr. Cohen back, but I would welcome him back.

His attorney, Mr. Cohen's attorney, said that he has information that the Mueller investigation would like. Well, if the Mueller investigation would like that information, I'm sure the House Select Committee on Intelligence would. So let him clear the air on the -- on whether or not he was in Prague in 2016 meeting with Russians, whether he was the conduit in General Flynn in 2017 to lift sanctions. What was the $500,000 payment from the Russian oligarch for -- used for? Was that the money used to pay off the porn star? These are all extraordinary questions.

CAMEROTA: Well, hold on there. Hold on a second. Help me that -- help me with that connection, because that $500,000 from the Russian oligarch, what makes you think that that was the money used to pay the porn star? Because isn't all of this about that it was directed by the president and paid by the president and there are wire transfers to show that then candidate Donald Trump paid it in order to influence the 2016 election. You're throwing sort of a new wrench into that, whatever Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to.

QUIGLEY: No, I think that the shell account that was used on some of these payments is the same one that was where the money was funneled from the Russian oligarch. But again, let Mr. Cohen clear the air because there are conflicting reports. And it's fair for the American public to understand just how this money was used. Which money was used for what payment? I don't think anyone's documented that. But it's clearly in question because of differing reports from the president, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Cohen.

CAMEROTA: All right, we look forward to hearing what you learned on the intelligence committee that you can share.

Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you very much for being with us on NEW DAY.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hawaii braces for its biggest weather threat in decades. We're going to have a live report from Honolulu as Hurricane Lane closes in, next.


[08:37:34] BERMAN: Hurricane Lane barreling toward Hawaii as a powerful category four storm. Officials are warning residents that heavy rain could trigger flash floods.

We sent our best man, CNN's Nick Watt, live to Honolulu with an update.



Well, right now the eye of this hurricane is about 225 miles south of the big island. It's moving north. The big island's going to see some wind and rain today. And tomorrow the big question is when does this hurricane start turning west, because if it continues north, it's going to get very close to Honolulu, where I am now, home to nearly a million people.

And here are the issues. We are going to see huge surf. We're going to see maybe two feet of rain in places and a storm surge. And if you look here, I'm on Waikiki Beach here, and that is the surf and then, Chris, if you just come back around here, that is a hotel and this is kind of a downtown area with a lot of people and this could flood very, very easily.

Now, Hawaiians are being told to get ready to shelter in place for up to two weeks. They're buying water, generators, food. And also the U.S. Navy has actually moved its ships out of port of Hawaii. They are now out at sea, out of the path of this hurricane and they -- they will be ready to come in and help with rescue operations if that is need.

Back to you.

CAMEROTA: Nick, that's a beautiful area and it will look very different about 48 hours from now.

Thank you very much.

WATT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, CNN has exclusively obtained new internal e-mails from the Department of Agriculture which reveal food industry lobbyists working hand-in-glove with agency staffers.

CNN's Rene Marsh has the exclusive details.

What have you learned, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, in January, the lobbying group National Grocers' Association, they sent talking points to USDA officials for a speech that Perdue would give to the group. We compared the talking points to the speech. Take a listen.


MARSH (voice over): The talking points included a discussion of how rural grocers, quote, are often the only food store for miles.

SONNY PERDUE, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: Frankly, your stores are many times the only stores available for food for miles around.

MARSH: Committed to sticking it out not because they're getting rich --

PERDUE: You know, I appreciate you sticking it out. Not because you're certainly getting rich in doing that.

MARSH: But because they live in these communities and know without a grocery store the community will suffer. They're not driven by Wall Street, but rather by main street.

PERDUE: You're not driven by Wall Street, certainly, you're driven by main street.


[08:40:03] MARSH: All right. Well, the Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan government watchdog group, they obtained the e-mails through a Freedom of Information Request. The USDA saying to CNN that its common practice among speechwriters the world over to gather information from organizers of events, including specific topics of interest to be incorporated in the remarks.

But we spoke with a Republican speechwriter who has written for former presidents Ronald Reagan and both president Bushes. He says this is actually not normal. And what you don't want is to secretary to look like he is quoting a lobbyist.

But that's just one example. Other e-mails show communications between USDA and another lobby group pushing to influence who would be selected to serve on a committee studying how much salt is unhealthy for Americans. The agency says it did not give into the lobbyists' request.

But, again, John, this is raising concerns about whether this pro- industry agenda under this administration, who's looking out for the interests of American people.


BERMAN: Really interesting to see that side by side.

Rene Marsh, thanks very much.

MARSH: Sure.

BERMAN: The young actor who claimed he was sexually assaulted as a teenager by actress, director and Me Too movement leader Asia Argento is now speaking out. Jimmy Bennett acknowledges he sought a financial settlement from Argento and says he did not share his story publicly because, quote, I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative. I was under age when the event took place and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn't think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy.

TMZ obtained this 2013 picture, which appears to show Argento lying down with Bennett. Bennett would have 17 at the time, Argento 37. In California, the age of consent is 18. "The New York Times" reports that months after publicly accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape, Argento agreed to pay Bennett after he accused her of sexual assault. On Tuesday, Argento said the allegations were absolutely false, saying she never had, quote, any sexual relationship with Bennett. She says the $380,000 payment Bennett received was made by her then-boyfriend and late CNN host Anthony Bourdain in a show of help and compassion.

CAMEROTA: All right, well, our big story this morning, the president's version of what happened with these payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal keeps changing. So we have "The Bottom Line" for you next.


[08:46:44] CAMEROTA: All right, so the president and his surrogates and advisers are in full deflection mode this morning trying to figure out how to deal with Michael Cohen's guilty plea. So here's one angle the president took this morning in an interview.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal. You get ten years in jail, but if you say bad things about somebody -- in other words, make up stories, if you don't know, make up stories, they just make up lies. Alan Dershowitz said compose, right? They make up lies. I've seen it many times. They make up things and now they go from ten years to they're a national hero. They have a statue erected in their honor. It's not -- it's not a fair thing, but that's why he did it. He made a very good deal.


CAMEROTA: Are we going to the ribbon cutting for Michael Cohen and his new statue? I haven't heard about that yet.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's political director David Chalian.

It's just such an interacting tact of damage control that you hear out of the White House this morning.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And it feels like a bit of a lonely one. If you listen to his surrogates, if you listen to what's being echoed on Capitol Hill by Republicans, yes, they'll get on board with the president's talking point that there's no mention of Russia here, there's no public evidence of definitive collusion or conspiracy just yet. They'll echo those points. But I don't hear a lot of people echoing that flipping should be outlawed. Remember, this is the chief law enforcement officer in the land, the executive in charge of the law enforcement pieces of the government and he's suggesting that one of the tools that law enforcement uses should be outlawed.

But you don't hear a lot of echoing of that, Alisyn. I also don't hear a lot of echoing of another thing the president said on Fox this morning, that if he were to be impeached, that everyone would be poor. So I do think we're seeing a little bit here of an isolated president a bit really trying, as we've seen Donald Trump do in the past, testing things, throwing stuff against the wall, seeing what sticks, testing what kind of messaging. But it does feel to me, at least, a little bit like he's grasping at straws.

BERMAN: We had Senator Mike Rounds, who I wouldn't characterize as a fierce, fierce partisan. I mean I think he's a solidly "r" red conservative here. But he, for instance, didn't like what the president said about Jeff Sessions, but he did draw the line about being overly critical of the president on this matter. And I asked him -- I tried to press him on whether the Senate should hold hearings.

Let's listen.


BERMAN: Why not look for the answers? Can't Congress look for the answers to these questions which you're posing? They're totally legitimate questions. So, have a hearing.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: To begin with, you have a hearing going on right now with Mr. Mueller, who has started the process. He'll do a report to Congress. He'll do it based upon whether or not there was any activity with the Russians concerning the campaign that Mr. Trump ran. And to this point, there has been no evidence of any collusion there.


BERMAN: So that was the no Russia argument, David, which you pointed out the Republicans are happy to repeat.

But Mike Rounds also went a little bit further than that. He said, well, look, I don't know if there's proof that the president directed Michael Cohen. I'm not sure there's proof that the president knew it was against the law if he directed Michael Cohen, which Alisyn has pointed out to me all this morning is actually part of the code there. So he has some Republican -- at least tacit support, David.

[08:50:08] CHALIAN: Oh, I -- he does, undoubtedly. And I think it's a little more than tacit. I mean that's sort of some active support to the president's line of thinking on this, John. And I -- and I think that the silence from so much of the leadership is also actually active support of the president in the moment. It is -- it's just so concerning to see the co-equal branch -- put partisanship aside -- just the fundamentals of how our democracy is set up. The co-equal branch of government, the legislative branch, which is charged with oversight responsibility, the silence from Republican leadership, who's in charge of the shop over there on Capitol Hill, is an abdication of responsibility.

CAMEROTA: David, what about Republicans outside of the beltway? What about Republican candidates? Are they -- I mean Jonathan Martin has some reporting in "The New York Times" this morning about what their narrative will be and if they feel free to speak out.

CHALIAN: Right. I think Jonathan quoted there Tom Cole, congressman from Oklahoma, and a shrewd Republican strategist who had sort of run politics for the RNC in his career. And I think what you see there is not some stampede to say every Republican candidate should start challenging the president on these serious matters. But I do think you see the continuation of advice, which is that if the president's not working for you in your district, in your particular race, have no fear about stepping away from him. And I think that's what I read that "New York Times" story to say is that some smart party strategists are making sure that Republican candidates feel the license to do that. Remember, guys, this is all happening in the context of this new Fox

News poll that showed similar to what our poll showed last week that approval for the Mueller probe is up. And we also see in that Fox poll a slight uptick among people who think that there may be some there there at the end of this. So this is happening where we're seeing these slight shifts in public sentiment about the probe in general.

BERMAN: David Chalian with "The Bottom Line."

Appreciate it, David.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Great to see you this morning.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, David.

BERMAN: "The Good Stuff" is next.


[08:55:54] BERMAN: It is time for "The Good Stuff."

A good samaritan in California rushes to save people from a sinking car.

Watch this.


BERMAN: All right, this red SUV accidentally crashes into a railing and plunges into the water.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

BERMAN: Inside there, a mother, son, and their dog. Look at that. As soon as Jeff Perez saw it, he jumped in to help.


JEFF PEREZ: And no sooner did I hop in the water, the lifeguard captain was handing over the older lady to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to get them out.


BERMAN: Luckily everyone in the car made it out safely. As for Jeff, he said he'd do it all over again if he had to.


PEREZ: I would just hope that people would do the right thing. And that's what we're all here for, to be here for one another and for support.


BERMAN: He was in so fast. Clearly he didn't even think about it, right? He saw the car go in and says, I'm going in after it. I'm helping right away.

CAMEROTA: But I need to see more of the video. How did they get the guy out of the -- if the window was up this high, how did they get the guy out of the car?

BERMAN: Ingenuity.

CAMEROTA: Right. Just old-fashioned --

BERMAN: Stick-to-it-ivness (ph).

CAMEROTA: Bravery, courage and ingenuity. But I just kind of need to know for future reference --

BERMAN: Look at the dog. Look at the dog. It's the dog first.


BERMAN: The dog -- everyone made it out safely, which is why I can note the dog made it out first.

CAMEROTA: OK, I guess -- OK. I just -- I like to commit these things to memory because I have a horrible feeling that I could drive off a pier accidentally, so I need to know how --

BERMAN: We're going to have to talk about that later.

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: We're going to have to come back to that.

CAMEROTA: OK. Meanwhile, I'm just going to read this intro the way the writers have written it, OK, and then you can interpret it on your own.

If Superman can have an evil doppelganger in bizarre-o world, than Michael Cohen can have a Go Fund Me page.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Feeling generous? Michael Cohen would like you to donate to his Go Fund Me page.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I was like are you nucking futs? I couldn't believe it.

MOOS: Believe. Cohen's lawyer was all over TV asking for donations.


Wanting to help Donald -- to help Michael Cohen tell the truth.

And we've set up a website called MichaelCohenTruthFund.

MOOS: Are you kidding me, read one tweet. How about you get a go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) account.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no, no, I won't give him a dime. Not one dime. Not one dime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even a dime that I found off the street.

MOOS: But someone's donating towards the goal of half a million dollars. A woman who contributed five bucks using Melania's name says she did it to see if the site was legit.

On Megyn Kelly's show, the audience laughed out loud.

DAVIS: Some help from the American people so he can continue to tell the truth.

MEGYN KELLY: The audience is -- they don't feel (ph) ready to donate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking they're all dirty and I'm thinking they've all been grabbing the money and now they just want to grab mine.

MOOS: Some wondered why Cohen needs cash when he bought a $6.7 million apartment that he now rents out for $25,000 a month.

Read another tweet, here's who he really is, linking to audio of Cohen threatening a reporter.

MICHAEL COHEN: So I'm warning you, tread very (EXPLETIVE DELETED) lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) disgusting. Do you understand me?

MOOS: We understand some of those willing to contribute want Cohen to bring down President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so --

MOOS (on camera): How much would you be willing to give him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think 20 bucks would be the most because I think, like, I gave like $30 to World Wildlife Fund. So I can't give more to Cohen than I give to pandas.

MOOS (voice over): Cohen, like pandas, may end up in captivity. Who would you rather contribute to?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CAMEROTA: OK, any panda reference works. That's beautiful. BERMAN: That was -- that was pandering (ph). That was like, clear. I'm

just going to throw in pandas at the end there. $30 to pandas, though. It's a lot for pandas.

CAMEROTA: You're pandering.

I don't understand his finances. How can you own a $7 million apartment and need money for your Go Fund Me account?

BERMAN: Well, he needed to take out a loan in order to pay Stormy Daniels. His home equity loan needed to get that for the $130,000. Something's going on there.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Good point. I am going to quote you on that. Something is going on there.

BERMAN: Someone in law enforcement ought to look into this Michael Cohen thing.


BERMAN: I'm just saying.

CAMEROTA: You're right.

BERMAN: I'm just saying.

[09:00:01] CAMEROTA: Maybe tomorrow we'll talk about that.

BERMAN: Right. And time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow.

Take it away, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.