The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/30/17 Wrong Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 30, 2017
Guest: Richard Haass, Matthew Rosenberg
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We`re continuing following breaking news out
of Orlando, Florida. Right now, you`re looking at live pictures from the
main airport there. Police responding for reports, an armed man at the
rental car area. So far no reports of anyone hurt or shots fired. The
police activity has been heavy at times of course to bring you more as we
get it, we`re just getting this information.
And now there is breaking news as well tonight, in the White House Russia
probe is central figure is about to turn over document, Sean Spicer gives
his first news conference back home and makes news on many fronts and we`ve
got new reporting on intelligence intercepts that if the people on them are
telling the truth, could shed new light on what Moscow believed they had on
the man that would become president. So there`s a lot to cover in the hour
First, CNN`s Sara Murray at the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Been all of our –
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Trump
administration struggles to find its footing amid the cloud of controversy,
a senior official is stepping aside. Communications Director Mike Dubke
submitted his resignation of May 18. There was unclear when he`ll serve
his last day in White House. His upcoming departure comes as speculation
about a broader staff shakeup reaches a fever pitch.
DAVID BOSSIE, CITIZENS UNITED PRESIDENT: Thanks for having me back.
MURRAY (voice-over): Former Trump campaign hence like David Bossie are
playing coy about whether they may assume be headed to the west wing.
BOSSIE: I`m not going to say that there`s – that something is sitting on
table for me to pick. It`s an ongoing conversation.
MURRAY (voice-over): As Jared Kushner, the president son-in-law faces
scrutiny in the FBI`s Russia probe, sources tell CNN he isn`t going
anywhere. And that for now, Sean Spicer`s job is also safe.
The press secretary reemerged in front of the camera for the daily briefing
today. His first since mid May. And insisted the president`s priorities
are on track.
SEAN SPICER, U.S. PRESS SECRETARY: That the president`s legislative agenda
is in full swing.
MURRAY (voice-over): But in a chaotic west wing, crisis management is
putting the brakes on the agenda. Trump venting on Twitter Tuesday said,
“The U.S. senate should switch to 51 votes immediately and get healthcare
and tax cuts approved fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt.” But
both of those issues are slated to move through a process that only
requires 51 votes. The biggest problem has been getting Republicans on the
Meanwhile, the president isn`t making key decisions that lie within his
control. He hasn`t named a new FBI director, though he is interviewing two
candidates today. He hasn`t made a decision about whether to send
additional troops to Afghanistan. And he hasn`t announced whether the U.S.
will remain in the Paris climate accord.
Fresh on the heels of a trip to NATO and the G7 where Trump privately
criticized German officials, Trump took his scold in public Tuesday,
tweeting, “We have a massive trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay far
less than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. this will
COOPER: And Sara Murray joins us now from the White House. So the
breaking news tonight about Michael Flynn, what else do we know?
MURRAY: Well we know that Michael Flynn, who is the ousted National
Security director, has been sort of a central figure in this probe into the
Russia investigation. Now we`re being told from a source close to Michael
Flynn that he is going to hand over a batch of documents, some of these
were related to his businesses, some of this will be personal documents, to
the Senate Intelligence Committee all to sort of help them move along in
the Russia investigation of the first batch of these documents will be due
And of course, this is in response to subpoenas from the committee. And so
it seems pretty clear Anderson from those – some of the developments
happening here today that this investigation is expanding, it is beating up
and Flynn is just one of the figures who is close to President Trump who is
being tapped in this Russia investigation.
COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks very much.
More now on the story that CNN Jim Sciutto broke along with Dana Bash and
Pamela Brown, on what Russians may have believed they had on the president
and people close to him. It`s a potentially explosive story. It also
comes with reasons to be very cautious about precisely what we`re reporting
and what we are not reporting. With that in mind, Jim Sciutto joins us.
So what have you learned Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, let`s be clear.
So two former intelligence officials and a congressional source tell CNN
that Russian government officials discussed having potentially, “derogatory
information” about then presidential candidate Donald Trump as well as some
of his top aides. This in conversations intercepted by U.S. intelligence
during the 2016 election.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the
discussions centered around whether the Russians had leverage within
Trump`s inner circle. The source says the intercept of communications
suggested to U.S. intelligence that Russians believed, “They had the
ability to influence the administration through this derogatory
Now, the sources do caution that the Russian claims to each other could
have been exaggerated. They could have been made up but they are listening
to them and this is part of the bigger picture they`re investigating now,
[21:05:01] COOPER: Do we know which Trump aides the Russians discussed?
SCIUTTO: Well beyond President Trump himself, of course that`s key, none
of the sources would say which specific Trump aides were discussed. One of
the official said the intelligence report masked the American names as
these reports would do when you have U.S. individuals caught up in
collection like this. But it was clear these officials told us that the
conversations revolved around the Trump campaign team. Another source
would not give more specifics, rather citing the classified nature of the
COOPER: And what`s the White House saying about this?
SCIUTTO: So the White House gave us a comment tonight, they reacted very
strongly. Here it is quoting, this is yet another round of false and
unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the president. The
reality is a review of the president`s income from the last 10 years showed
that he had virtually no financial ties at all. There appears to be no
limit to which the president`s political opponents will go to perpetuate
this false narrative.
The statement went on including illegally leaking classified material. And
it ended all this does is playing to the hands of our adversaries and put
the country at risk. We also reach out the office of Director of National
Intelligence and the FBI, they did not comment – just one final note
Anderson, I should note that by the time Trump took office, questions about
some of his aides` financial dealings with Russian entities were already
COOPER: All right Jim Sciutto, appreciated.
That Sara Murray touched on Michael Flynn, agreeing to start turning over
some documents to the Senate Intelligence Community. Lawmakers also want
information from two other campaign associates, Boris Epshteyn and Trump
personal attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen today declined that request whoever
there`s a late new development. Gloria Borger just got off the phone with
him, she joins us now. What did he say Gloria?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF ANALYST: Well Michael Cohen said, first of all he
has not been subpoenaed to testify as had been reported by another news
organization. So he made that very clear. And he said, if I am subpoenaed
to testify, I will comply and gladly, he said, as I have nothing to hide.
There is no shred of evidence that implicates me.
So he`s very – he`s, you know, very strong here. And he says the reason
he didn`t want to comply with the committee`s request earlier as he told me
it was poorly phrased, overly broad and not really capable of being
answered. So, you know, you`ve had Flynn, for example, who said the
request was too broad. And Boris Epshteyn who`s been saying the same
things. So what they`re clearly trying to do is get these requests
COOPER: Right, you talked about Boris Epshteyn, I mean worked in both the
campaign in the White House. He`s also been contacted by congressional
investigators for information.
BORGER: Right. And it`s a voluntary request, as was Michael Cohen`s. And
his attorney said that it was broad also and that it was a broad
preliminary request. And they said not that they wouldn`t comply but they
said that they reached out to the committee and asked some follow-up
questions and are awaiting to hear their response.
So obviously, these things have gone out, Anderson. Some say, you know,
Michael Cohen earlier to Jim Acosta that it was a fishing expedition. I
think that`s the way it`s being received. But if these requests can be
narrowed, then perhaps you can avoid a subpoena.
COOPER: All right to Michael Cohen just to reiterate after talking to you
tonight your – the latest is that he says he would cooperate as long as
it`s more specific?
BORGER: Well, and he – and also, you know, the important thing is here as
he says he hasn`t been subpoenaed. But if he is subpoenaed, that he would
comply because he has nothing to hide.
COOPER: All right, Gloria, thanks very much.
I want to update you quickly on the information we`re getting out of
Orlando. Police are saying there`s no active shooter, no shots fired.
Suspect is contained. So that`s the latest there.
Coming up next, conflicting stories about why Jared Kushner was meeting
during the transition with a Russian banker – or met with a Russian banker
with a shadowy past. That we`ll try to focus on the facts, of course what
we know, what we don`t know.
And later, what`s really going on between the president and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, from Berlin, it sounds like a key alliance is
under pressure. From Washington, they say it`s all good. Take a closer
[21:12:36] COOPER: Shortly after Jared Kushner met with Russian`s
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about setting up some kind of secret direct line
for some reason to Moscow, he met with another shadowy Russian figure, his
name is Sergey Gorkov and as you know, he`s a banker, a Putin confidant, a
graduate of a Russian spy school.
In March he said in a statement and that the meeting was about business,
the bank`s business and that of Jared Kushner another American
entrepreneur. Yesterday though and for a second time the White House said
Kushner was acting in his capacity as a transition official. And there`s a
third possibility related to that meeting earlier in December on the so-
called back channel.
Randi Kaye tonight has more.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man Jared Kushner
met with in December 2016, just a month after Kushner`s father-in-law
Donald Trump was elected president. He`s name is Sergey Gorkov, he`s a
Russian banker. The chairman of VEB Bank. He also has ties to Russian
President Vladimir Putin, who appointed him to head the bank.
What exactly was discussed between Kushner and the banker last year remains
a mystery. Though keep in mind, as an ally of Putins, Gorkov reportedly
may have been using the meeting to help establish a direct line to the
Russian president outside the usual diplomatic channels.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don`t think its
standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a president of the United
States by someone who is not in an appointed position.
KAYE (voice-over): Jared Kushner has offered to answer the Senate
Intelligence Committee`s questions about not only this meeting but another
meeting he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that same month. It
was Kislyak who had suggested Kushner meet with the Russian banker.
(on-camera): The fact that Kushner didn`t mention either of this meetings
on his White House security clearance forms, may also be a topic of
inquiry. Though he did rectify that quickly. There`s also the concern
that the Russian bank has been under U.S. sanctions for the last three
Also, when Kushner met with the banker, he was still CEO of Kushner
Companies and critics questioned whether he was looking for financing for a
pricey Manhattan real estate project.
(voice-over): The White House has said there was no discussion at the
meeting about Kushner`s company or about sanctions. The meeting itself
didn`t violate U.S. sanctions, but investigators will want to know what was
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: My dashboard
warning light was clearly on and I think that was the case with all of us
in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these
approaches to the Russians.
[21:15:10] KAYE: Seems that Jared Kushner, who rarely speaks beyond a
whisper in the president`s ear, may soon be called on to do a whole lot of
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: More now on with this all adds up to so far and how to make sense
the flood of information only seems to grow. For that, we`re always glad
to turn to former NSA and CI Director Retired General Michael Hayden.
General Hayden, this meeting between Jared Kushner and Gorkov, why would
someone like Kushner need a direct line to Putin if in fact that`s what he
was looking for or the president was looking for? And why would he be
talking to a banker with the kind of background that Gorkov has?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I mean the published
story, Anderson, is that Sergey Kislyak recommended that he talk to Gorkov,
which might have been Kislyak`s way of doing what the Trump team wanted,
which was to establish this back channel to President Putin.
Now, to answer your question, why would they want to do that while we were
in a transition, why would they want to do that while the – then President
Obama was actually coming up on a very serious decision with regard to
sanctions against this same Vladimir Putin and the Russian federation. I
just can`t explain that and that`s why this is a controversial thing. I
mean back channel is back channel. Fine. I`ve actually better back
channel for President Bush. But doing it this way with this actor while
you weren`t in government, that`s why all the questions.
COOPER: I mean, Sean Spicer was asked about this today and he said in
general terms, back channels are inappropriate part of diplomacy. I mean
to be clear though, you talked about you had been a back channel. Is that
how this was being used?
HAYDEN: Well, I would not define this as a back channel. A back channel
is something that governments do for below the radar conversation. So that
you can get some things accomplished that might be more difficult to
accomplish should the channel be exposed, be made public.
Anderson, I flew into Islamabad with Mike McConnell the director of
National Intelligence after Benazir Bhutto was killed to confer with the
President Musharraf. We went in there secretly. We met secretly. We left
secretly. President Bush wanted us to share a certain message with
I mean this is what government`s do. That`s fine. And you`ve got good
people in the administration, Secretary Kelly, Secretary Mattis, H.R.
McMaster, defending the principle of back channels. I agree. But I don`t
think that`s exactly what this was.
COOPER: Does this just seem amateur to you?
HAYDEN: One of the background realities in which this took place was
administration that was refusing assistance from the professionals inside
the United States government, because they were so suspicious of them. And
frankly, had a bit of contempt with the administration they were replacing.
They refused State Department help to actually set up the calls with
foreign leaders, to suggest what these foreign leaders might want to bring
up with the president-elect, not controlling the president-elect, trying to
help him and the administration in waiting pushed the assistance away.
COOPER: CNN is reporting now that Russians believe “they had the ability
to influence the administration through derogatory information”, that the
may have been financial in nature. There`s certainly the possibility that
the Russians were exaggerating this, that they were, whatever the –
however the sources discovered this, that it was Russians making themselves
more important than they really were or just lying to each other.
If it`s true, how critical would it be to the investigation finding out
what exactly that information is?
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, if it`s true, the investigation would really need to
know that, because, well it depends exactly on the investigation too,
Anderson. You got the FBI investigation, which is about criminality. But
you`ve also got what`s going on the Hill from the two intelligence
communities – two intelligence committees and that effort is designed to
get the story.
What`s going on? What did the Russians do? What they do it? What
expectations did they have? I think in both cases, you would want to know.
But Anderson, let me make a comment on that report which actually began,
you know, according to an intercepted communication between two Russians as
a former director of NSA that`s already bad, having that out there in the
public domain. That is actually harmful.
And there – therefore, I do agree with the administration that an awful
lot of the information out there is hurtful of American intelligence.
One more point, Anderson, with regard to SIGINT, signals intelligence,
which is – what this is alleged to be. Those of us in the business know
that you live by SIGINT, die by SIGINT. It gives you great intelligence.
But often or sometimes at least you`ve got people trying to mislead and
sometimes you just intercept a conversation between two people who really
don`t know what they`re talking about.
[21:20:05] So you need to be careful with intercepted communications before
draw firm absolute conclusion.
COOPER. General Michael Hayden, always good to talk to you. Thank you.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, the White House says President Trump would
describe his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “fairly
unbelievable”. There certainly have been some statements and tweets that
some of the president`s critics find kind of unbelievable. That`s next.
COOPER: President Trump is back in the United States but continues to
criticize allies who`s feather his raffle during his first foreign trip.
At a rally in Munich, Germany over the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel
did not mention President Trump directly but did say that Germany can`t
count on the United States and has to take it`s faith into it`s own hands.
This morning the president took early morning Twitter to write, “We have a
massive trade deficit with Germany plus they pay far less than they should
on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. This will change.” Today, Sean
Spicer was asked about the state of U.S.-German relationship. Here is what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I think the relationship that the president has had with Merkel he
would describe as fairly unbelievable. They get along very well. He has a
lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had
during their talks in the G7.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:25:11] COOPER: Fairly unbelievable. Also, in that briefing today
Spicer said the President`s trip was incredible, historic and unprecedented
and quoted people who praised him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “For the first time in my life I
see real hope for change.” In a correspondent one of the leading Israel
publications wrote, “In the short space of three days, Trump carried out a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Was the trip a three-days semi-revolution, an ally alienating show
of bad manners or a little of both? Michelle Kosinski has more.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SERIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Overseas for the first time as president Donald Trump seemed to want to
stand not just out but apart shoving to the front the fierce handshakes,
the stunning reprimand of NATO allies and what was supposed to be a big
moment of support.
TRUMP: Twenty three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what
they should be paying.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): In Italy, he was the only G7 leader not to endorse
the Paris Climate Agreement. While they walked in a group to take a photo,
Trump chose instead to ride alone in a golf cart. As Trump continues to
criticize Germany`s trade practices, its foreign minister didn`t hold back
saying flat out that Trump`s policies put Europe at risk, calling it short
sighted, a new American isolationism.
NICHOLAS BUMS, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO NATO: This is a crisis of sorts in
the trans-atlantic relationship and these are our best friends in the
world. There`s a major difference of opinion on trade. There`s a major
difference of opinion on how to handle Russia. We`ve never had an American
president who was so weak, frankly, and dismissive of the big institutions
that have binded us to Europe over the last 70 years. NATO when the EU.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): With the Russians, it was the new French President
Emmanuel Macron who called out Putin to his face for spreading fake news,
trying to influence his election.
(on-camera): In Asia, with the U.S. scrapping the huge trading block that
would have been the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as slashing the State
Department budget and foreign aid, China has been working on big deals of
its own and is trying to expand its soft power and influence around the
(voice-over): Russia is also looking for inroads. And that the U.S. does
step away from its push against climate change, that again leaves room for
others to lead.
BUMS: I think this could do more to diminish American credibility and
influence and leadership in the world than any other issue. Because
outside the United States, this is a number one first order issue.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): As of stands, there is concern among allies over
what the U.S. will stand for. Will it be as strong of voice for human
rights and democracy itself? Europe now stating openly the dynamic of
leadership and partnership is changing.
Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.
COOPER: Joining me, are Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN`s Fareed Zakaria GPS
and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author
of “A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old
Fareed, what does President Trump achieve by saying the things he said
about Angela Merkel in just of the last couple days?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: A lot of the behavior toward
NATO strikes me as not strategic. Trump has most these grievances almost
since the 1980s. If you look at Trump`s writings, the few things he talked
about when he talks about politics. There were two things, one, he thought
that the – he wanted to be protectionist. The Japanese were ripping us
off, you know, later the Chinese. But the second was that our NATO allies
have been ripping us off, not paying their fair share.
So this feels as though it`s a long held grievance that he just can`t stop
himself from constantly expressing even though it serves no real purpose.
It doesn`t help the United States. It doesn`t help our strategy. It makes
the west look divided. It invites people like Putin to try to further
divide it. I don`t think he is thinking it through. I think this is
emotional reflex more than foreign policy.
COOPER: Ambassador Haass you actually tweeted about this morning saying
that the president`s anti-German rhetoric is “short sighted politically and
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, short sighted
politically, Anderson, because it drives a wedge between the United States
and Europe where it encourages Germany and the European`s to go off on
their own. And that may not be all that much of a problem so long as you
have people like Angela Merkel running Germany. But the day will come when
we will have somebody very different.
And neither now or then, it also provides all sorts of opportunities for
Russian mischief making. So I just don`t understand what`s behind it.
Economically, the president seems all but obsessed over trade imbalances.
And somehow assumes a trade deficit is a sign of American weakness, or that
others are somehow taking advantage of us. And it`s just – it`s a sort of
argument that just isn`t anyway justified by even rude mantra (ph)
[21:30:07] COOPER: You know, Fareed, essentially the White House, Sean
Spicer said that the president`s relationship with Angela Merkel he
described as I think was “fairly unbelievable”. I`m not sure if he meant
it in the sense that I think a lot of people take it. It is kind of
unbelievable. I mean had he been trying to further Russia`s cause, there`s
not much more he could have done on this trip.
ZAKARIA: Absolutely. Look in general, you almost say to yourself, what is
the script that Vladimir Putin would want to write? It would be the
president of the United States would go to NATO, refuse to affirm Article
V, the one for all, all for one declaration of security, have bad, you
know, push the Montenegrin prime minister out of his way, have bad
relations with the Germans who are really now at the center of Europe.
This is – you couldn`t have scripted something to look worse for NATO,
worse for the west. What`s most interesting about it is you`re beginning
to see other countries, particularly Germany and France, start to say, we
are going to affirm the liberal international order. We`re going to
strengthen the west. It`s almost as though the position of, you know,
leader of the western world has fallen vacant and President Macron of
France is stepping in to fill that role.
COOPER: I mean can`t you make – or Ambassador Haass, can`t you make the
argument that that`s what – then candidate Donald Trump ran on, that
America first, he doesn`t want to be the world`s policeman, he doesn`t see
the same role for the United States globally that past presidents have.
HAASS: Well, the problem with transferring leadership to places like
France and Germany is even if they doubled what they spent on defense.
They just don`t have the capacity or the domestic politics to play a
leadership role around the world. So again, I just don`t see the strategic
And again, also what we spend on defense is not something that somehow is
only a negative, is only a cost. It totally rebounds to our own benefit in
terms of the security and stability that we tend to develop around the
world. So I think Fareed a few minutes ago, Anderson, called it a
grievance. In some ways it`s even more fundamental than that`s it. Its
mind set, it`s a world view in which trade, in which foreign policy effort
is only seen as a negative rather than being seen as a positive.
COOPER: So where does this – Fareed, where does this go? I mean in terms
of relations with France, with Germany?
ZAKARIA: With Donald Trump, let`s be honest, you never know what the next
week will bring a total reversal of this week. But if this persists, it`s
a very serious shift. Because what it really represents is that the United
States that has built, sustain and nurtured this liberal international
order, the western world as we think of it, he has decided to back off,
decided to absent itself. And so what you are going to see is countries
like Germany and Chancellor Merkel was very clear, we`re going to step up.
The French President Macron has talked about how he is really confronting
Russia and on – for example the cyberattacks in a way that the United
States president refuses to do.
COOPER: All right Fareed Zakaria, Ambassador Haass, thank you so much.
HAASS: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, we have just confirmed President Trump`s
Personal Attorney Michael Cohen now saying he will testify before congress
if he is subpoenaed his path to the Russia probe and his loyalty to Donald
Trump in a moment.
[21:37:18] COOPER: As we said, congressional investigators have asked
President Trump`s Personal Attorney Michael Cohen to turn over documents
related to potential contacts with Russia. They`ve also asked him to
testify before Congress. As Gloria Borger just reported, Mr. Cohen now
says, he will testify if he is subpoenaed even though he says there`s not a
shred of evidence against him.
You may remember Mr. Cohen is a fierce defender of Mr. Trump during the
campaign. He was frequent Trump television`s surrogate known for his
aggressive style which was evident again today. Tom Foreman tonight has
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A total fishing expedition,
that`s how the President`s Attorney Michael Cohen described a congressional
request for him to testify in the Russian probe. Rejecting it outright.
It was just as quickly renewed with force.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: In all likelihood, there will be
subpoenas issued which he will be compelled to respond to.
FOREMAN (voice-over): No confirmation from the committee on that. But
even in the hot seat, Cohen`s response is typically come on his own fierce
terms. Listen to him insisting for example Trump never disparaged Mexican
MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It was wrong.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And you haven`t admitted that.
COHEN: And I will not.
FOREMAN (voice-over): For years, he has served as one of Donald Trump`s
personal attorneys. He has publicly fought accusations against Trump
University and claims of sexual impropriety against Trump. He is also has
been a relentless defender of his client`s political positions.
COHEN: When Mr. Trump talks about of being a rigged system, there`s really
two parts to it. The first is the media and the second is the voter fraud.
FOREMAN (voice-over): In 1999, Trump was in favor of abortion rights.
TRUMP: I`m very pro choice.
FOREMAN (voice-over): When he later flip-flopped ahead of the 2012 race,
Cohen told the national journal, “People change their positions all the
time, the way they change their wives.” When asked about polls months
before the 2016 vote, which widely showed Hillary Clinton ahead, Cohen`s
combative side came out fast.
BRIANNA KEILAR, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But you guys are down.
And it may –
COHEN: Says who?
KEILAR: Polls. Most of them. All of them.
COHEN: Says who?
KEILAR: Polls. I just told you. I answered your question.
COHEN: OK. Which polls?
KEILAR: All of them.
COHEN: OK. And your question is?
FOREMAN: Cohen says the congressional investigation into any possible
links between the Trump team and Russians are utterly without evidence.
And while he is not rushing to explain anything to congress, he is calling
the congressional probes a rush to judgment. Anderson?
COOPER: Lots to discuss now with the panel, Maggie Haberman join us again,
Jeffrey Lord, Jen Psaki, Matthew Rosenberg and (inaudible)
Michael Cohen has said he wouldn`t comply. He said clearly will comply if
there is a subpoena but he says basically that there is no there, there.
[21:40:05] MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:
That`s my sense of it. I got a message from him earlier saying he has not
been subpoenaed but if he is he will gladly comply, “as I have nothing to
Look, Michael Cohen is very familiar face to most of us who cover the Trump
campaign. He`s been an aggressive defender of the president for very long
time going back to I mean my dealings with him, go back a long time but
including 2011, when Trump was first thinking of running for president in
You know, he has been pretty aggressive against this probe. He has been
pretty aggressive that there is no there, there. I don`t know expect him
to go sort of quietly into the good night. And we will see. It`s an
interesting contrast in terms of how he is handling this. Because it is
very different than to say what Michael Flynn is doing, which is – that he
was subpoenaed and resisted it for quite sometime and I think now has said
he will comply with some documents.
It is funny as we were watching that viral moment with Brianna Keilar
where, you know, the says who moment which a lot of people know, I`m
laughing all over again watching it his funny moment but he wasn`t wrong at
the end of the day.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly.
HABERMAN: So like I just think it`s – I don`t know where this ends up
COOPER: The polls did indicate that. But the polls were wrong.
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: The polls were wrong.
HABERMAN: That`s right.
LORD: There`s a difference between Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.
Michael Flynn was involved seriously in the campaign, was the National
Security Adviser, designator, actual – sort of. Michael Cohen has been
nothing throughout other than a television spokesman on occasion but the
president`s lawyer in his business. I mean that`s –
HABERMAN: That`s not – no that`s not true. He did some stuff on the
LORD: Well, what I`m saying is, the extent of his involvement here – I
mean he is a good lawyer. He is not going to go out there and say I didn`t
do anything if, in fact, he did something. That`s I guess – if he had
something to report.
COOPER: Matthew, how do you see this?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I
mean, I think we`re in that situation where this is whole constellation of
people. And Cohen may be right this may be a better of fishing expedition.
But, you know, I thought the committees and I imagine the federal
investigators too are at that point where like they need to start clearing
things off and seeing, like OK, are these people we need to continue
looking at, are these people we don`t?
And to know that, we need to subpoena them, we need to interview them. And
I imagine, we`ll be seeing a lot more of this in the days and weeks to
COOPER: Jen, I mean to the argument that it`s a fishing expedition, and
Michael Cohen is saying, look, that the request was so broad, it was almost
impossible to comply with.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRES. OBAMA: Well, it`s
not surprising coming from somebody who is an experienced lawyer to say
that and one who has a reputation as being a bulldog in defense of Trump.
I think there – a lot of the questions surrounding all of these ties have
been about the financial connections or that`s always been in the
background. He is someone who also presented the Ukraine-Russia plan that
was, you know, taken from the Ukrainian thugs to Trump. He is somebody who
has had a lot of investments in Ukraine and has had ties to Russia through
We won`t know the answer until he participates, the committee looks at the
information and they reviews and make a decision. But they`ve said they
are going to be expansive. They`re going to get to the bottom of the truth
and clearly, this is part of that.
COOPER: Phil, does it seem like a fishing expedition to you?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: It does. I wouldn`t
comply if I were him. I have attacked President Trump from day one. I
would do exactly the same thing as his lawyer said. Let`s look at two
issues. Number one, from day one if you look at the congressional
committees, they have been partisan with some exceptions. So you`re
walking into an environment where if you provide information, you are going
to be attacked by Democrats for siding with the president who from the
Democrats` perspective has sold out America.
Meanwhile, we have a parallel investigation from the FBI that could have
criminal implications. Why would you comply with this if you`re walking
into a shark tank where you`re going to be attacked? I would do the same
thing he`s done.
COOPER: Jen, to that point, why should he comply?
PSAKI: Well, it`s not partisan when it`s burr and warner. It`s the
Democrats and Republicans requesting information from a committee. You
know, I think he`s going to make the decision about whether he`s going to
comply or not. But if he has nothing to hide and they subpoena him which
they`ve shown they may do and they did with Flynn,m then it raises the
question as to whether he just is looking sketchy in general. So, he`ll
have to make that decision if the committee decides they`re going to use
COOPER: Jeff, I mean just because there`s, you know, the committee is run
by a Democratic and Republican, doesn`t mean it`s not partisan?
LORD: Right. You got insiders there. The question I have, Anderson, you
know, when the dog chases the car and catches the car, then what? As they
go through these witnesses and they get somebody like Michael Flynn who
says I didn`t do anything and then they find out, yup, he didn`t do
anything. Then what are they going to do?
I mean they`re going to keep working their way successively through people
that they will not have in Watergate style sitting there with a smoking gun
and said, yes –
COOPER: I think to Michael Cohen.
LORD: Yes. I`m talking about Michael Cohen.
COOPER: Right, right. OK.
LORD: I mean, so when they get him there and they find nothing, then what?
That, you know, I mean –
COOPER: Maggie, does it hurt the credibility of the committee if it is a
HABERMAN: I mean I think it`s too soon to say. I think that Matthew`s
point, you`re going to see a lot of this.
[21:45:02] Look, they have said they`re going to be pretty broad and scope.
And so this would be the first committee that we`ve ever seen that is going
to do sort of a wide net, a wide net you can flip it – flip a meaning and
say it`s a fishing expedition. I think it`s not a surprise that Michael
Cohen is being asked to come in.
But I do think again, I have to go back to this, my ears perked up when
Jeffrey said, Flynn, when he meant Cohen because with Flynn there`s a lot
more to review. And his behavior has obviously been a lot different. And
he is I think the one person who investigates or is just based on this
early stage believe could provide them with some information.
COOPER: We`re going to have much more to talk about with the panel,
including the departure of one key aide at the White House including
pressure for a larger shakeup. Is that what`s needed? Will that fix the
problems? We`ll talk to panel that ahead.
COOPER: As we said tonight, the White House is facing flood of breaking
news on the Russia probe on several fronts. This comes as word broke today
that the White House Communications Director Michael Dubke has resigned.
Back with the panel. Matthew, I mean you talk to a lot of sources within
the White House probably and elsewhere. Is there a sense that the
president needs to have a shakeup on – inside the White House? Or do they
think it`s working well?
ROSENBERG: I mean it`s hard to tell on any given day. I think, you know,
you saw the press conference today with Sean Spicer that did not go well.
And, you know, especially on the Russia stuff, on the Russia front, there`s
just this avalanche of revelation and it`s – move or a fire hose and a
[21:50:11] And that can`t – you can`t come home from Europe to this kind
of news and think things are going well. I mean Maggie really knows these
guys, this incredibly well and I think we`re all finding that they are
having difficulty managing this and difficulty kind of absorbing these
developments that seem to happen every other day now.
COOPER: You know, Maggie, I mean, some people like we`ve had in the show
just in the last hour said this is the personality of the President.
COOPER: This is how he ran his company. It`s a lot of – it`s obviously a
very different thing when it`s, you know, you`re the most powerful person
on the planet. Do you think a shake-up that – what do you hear?
HABERMAN: I mean, I think it`s – I think there are couples of things. I
think that there are people who are there, who really try incredibly hard
and are in a very tough spot and they`re there because they really do
believe in the president and they want to work for him. I think that
someone like Hope Hicks who was with him in the campaign and I think has
essentially killed herself throughout the campaign and did a very good job
for him in a very tough situation –
COOPER: – for the country –
HABERMAN: And I think that there are other people who I think – correct,
number one. And I think that a lot of other people are there for a similar
reason. Who do care about the country. I think there are some people
there who thought being in the White House would be a career enhancer, and
that this was a way to go about it and they are discovering that on any
given day if you go out and say, no matter – I mean, I that we can all
agree that Sean Spicer`s briefing today was less than optimal. If his goal
was to see in common like he was answering question but I think that –
COOPER: The way they just said he`s not going to have another one
HABERMAN: Right. I think that if you are person who is in the position of
having to speak for this president, you go out there, knowing within hours,
he might tweet something that is going to completely under catch you no
matter who you are. And that – it`s like dancing on the head of a pin,
and so sure, you can do shake-ups.
But number one, there aren`t a whole lot of people running towards that
buildings right now as a career opportunity. Because they see what has
happened to the people who have done it. And what has happened to their
credibility. That`s a really, really, difficult thing, number one. And
number two, you can change all the chairs you want but as you said, this is
the president`s personality and approach.
COOPER: Jeff, you know, I talk to so many former White House Chiefs of
Staff when this administration first started, Republicans and Democrats.
All of them said the same thing. You got up people clearly in their lunch.
You can`t have all these different power centers, people have, you know,
ears to the President at different times.
LORD: I think that`s Chief of staff –
COOPER: It doesn`t seem – that would clearly seem to help matters, I
would assume if that`s something that the President would tolerate.
LORD: I think that`s true, but there is one ingredient here that always
has to be adapted to, and that is the president. Whoever that president
is, he builds the staff out from his own personality and his way of doing
COOPER: For better or worse.
LORD: For better or worse, right. And they were all different. And I
think what President Trump is discovering here is he needs to get the staff
to his liking so in respond the way he wants it to respond which is basic
impulse they all have. I remember that Pat Buchanan was brought in for
this very job after he had –
LORD: – long since been in the Nixon White House and that was I think the
COOPER: He run the press office. You`re right.
LORD: And he was the communications director for this exact job. He did a
fabulous job. But this was from somebody – his predecessor was having
problems. So they brought Pat in. He knew exactly what to do. He knew
Reagan well. They got along. You know, the fix worked. So I think really
what you`re seeing here is President Trump is trying to get this in his own
fashion to work the way he wants it and he probably won`t stop tinkering
with it until it`s done.
COOPER: Jen, I mean you work obviously in the Obama White House, do staff
PSAKI: They can matter and they can be moments of reset and moments of
opportunity. Our first communications director on the Obama administration
was only there for three months and a change was made. So that`s not
uncommon but that alone doesn`t solve every problem. You need bring
somebody into a job like that or chief of staff or what – any of those
jobs that have a close relationship with the president. Somebody who the
president trust and will relay on, but somebody who the president will give
license and will give confidence to be able to do their jobs. It needs to
go both ways.
So bringing someone new in will only make it work if he changes the way –
some of the ways that he is doing business as Maggie and some of the others
on the panel have touched on.
HABERMAN: Yes. I mean I think that Jen touched on something really
important, which is trust. The thing that I have heard over and over from
people inside and outside the White House speak with the president is, you
know, he generally is not a very trusting person and he wasn`t before he
became president. The leaks that have come out and whether you – you
know, I don`t love the term leak because sometimes they`re just people
actually getting things with shoe leather (ph) and so forth but, often
times it is. But the information that has been outside of his control, he
always had people sign nondisclosure agreements.
HABERMAN: He always had some sense of control over the organization he
ran. He doesn`t have that here. He has all of this Republican National
Committee former staffer whom – many of them are very talented but whom he
has continued to complain about. And I think that this has not instilled
in him a sense of comfort frankly and I don`t know how he gets that.
[21:55:11] COOPER: Phil, I mean, the staff can`t go to their boss and tell
them he`s off track. Is that – I mean is that an important attribute in
the White House staff?
MUDD: Well, let`s throw a panel flag (ph) here. That is. There`s a
couple of really basic issues here. Number one, how many avenues of
messaging do you have? You have the family, you have the outright folks
that Steve Bannon folks, you have the bureaucrats, Secretary of State,
Secretary of Defense. There are too many people with too many differences
of opinion who have avenues to the president.
Number two, let`s have a reality check. The spokesman for the president of
the United States has a right to spin for the president. You cannot walk
away from Europe where the European premier that is Angela Merkel for two
days running says the western alliance is at risk. We`ve got to look at
other options and have the spokesman say everything is great. You got too
many messages and you got a message that is not reality. That`s the
problem here, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Thanks everyone. We`re going to take – we got a late
update on the breaking news reports of a gunman at Orlando International
Airport. Police just released new information. We`ll bring you the
details when we come back.
COOPER: Quick update now of Orlando International Airport is now a stand
off. Police say this begun when someone reported a man with a gun in the
terminal near the rental car area, negotiators now talking with him.
[22:00:03] Time now turn things over to Don Lemon in “CNN Tonight”.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Home alone and angry and isolated president hackers
down as the Russia investigation swirl (ph) around them.
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