Return to Transcripts main page
FBI Raids Offices, Hotel Room Of Trump's Personal Attorney; Dershowitz: "If This Were Hillary Clinton," ACLU Would Be Screaming; NYT: Rosenstein Personally Signed Off On Warrant To Raid Cohen's Offices. Aired 12:30-1pm ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:32:47] MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: My job is I protect Mr. Trump. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that have a concern to him, it's of course concern to me. They say Mr. Trump's pitbull, I'm his right-hand man. I mean, I've been called many different things around here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS ANCHOR: As you can see there, Michael Cohen wears the title of President fixer like a badge of honor. Which is why the no-knock raid of Cohen's office and hotel room touched off a nerve with the boss. Today the President says his attorney-client privilege is being compromised. That after telling reporters last night this raid, in his view, a disgrace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've wanted to keep it down. We've given, I believe, over a million pages worth of documents to the Special Counsel. They continue to just go forward. They only keep looking at us.
So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, well, let's keep going, and they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the morning. And I think it's a disgrace. So we'll be talking about it more. But this is the most conflicted group of people I've ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, Cohen is on record saying he would take a bullet for the President. He may soon have to decide if he'll take the legal equivalent of that if he has anything to offer to prosecutors. Now the President often says the people who are charge in this investigation, under investigation here, distant people, hardly even knows them, very hard to make that case about Michael Cohen especially when you listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Michael was -- I always like to say the Ray Donovan of the office. He took care of what had to be taken care of. I don't know what has to be taken care of. But all I know is Michael is taking care of it.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: He is the guy that you could call up 3 in the morning when you have a problem, and you need something taking care of. Every dinner I've been out with Michael, the boss has called.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: It's not a meeting that takes place, there's not an expenditure that has authorized that he doesn't know about it.
SCHWARTZ: He took care of a lot of things for Mr. Trump without Mr. Trump knowing about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There is. We talked a little bit about this on the substance of it earlier, and now we get into this personal relationship. I mean, there are a lot of people who understand Trumpland who say Michael Cohen, you know, knows more about Ivanka or Don Jr. Eric for that matter. That, you know, he is literally the -- has been the President's right hand manager's personal fixer which raises the sticks here quite dramatically.
[12:35:08] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does. And I mean, I think the reason is that of course he knows more than the family members. There are some things you're not going to explain to your daughter or even sons, perhaps. But I think that the point here is, is this an effort and avenue to get something else? If Michael Cohen would turn on the President -- I can't imagine it, frankly. I mean, he has been at his side long before he ran for president, you know, at every other iteration.
When I was a reporter at the New York Times, you would write one story about Donald Trump and you would get a phone call immediately from Michael Cohen. He is an appendage to him, so that's why this is so offensive to the President. Is he trying to -- are the Feds trying to get him to cooperate, to go after someone else who is even closer to the President, a family member, perhaps? We don't know the answer to that, but this is a critical moment in this investigation.
KING: And again, just to put Michael Cohen into context, this is a pin tweet from him from Sunday. "A person who deserves my loyalty receives it." Quote there from Joyce Maynard. I will always protect our potus, Make America Great Again. Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House Communications Director calls Michael Cohen the secretary of loyalty.
Again, those who understand Trumpland, this sounds concern and may just hardball tactics by the prosecutors. Not just the Special Counsel. Again the Special Counsel brings evidence to Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who says, thank you, this is credible, but it's not under your Russia mandate, so I'm going to hand it off to U.S. attorney in New York who then goes to a judge. So they clearly think they have a case against Michael Cohen. The question is what else do they get in that search?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, I think when you take a step back, you look at somebody extremely close to the President like Michael Cohen who is now under investigation. You have Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law also under investigation. You have two people who were previously close to the President, Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who have been indicted, and Rick Gates, also a former deputy campaign manager.
These things are really adding up, and you can understand, I think, why the President feels completely under siege. And as somebody who sort of, I think, believes that he embodies the office that he holds, that's why he's saying this is an attack on the American people and on the U.S.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But I think the other thing, you know, to the President's defense is if you found out that your personal attorney that you've shared any vulnerability, any sort of legal vulnerability you might have had, whether you did something wrong or not, over decades, and you found that person's office was searched and their home was searched and, you know, hotel room was searched and the documents were taken, yes, of course, you're going to feel under siege, of course you're going to feel like that's unfair, because that's the person you felt that you could go to and you could trust. And we know that this President doesn't necessarily trust the Justice Department, doesn't necessarily trust law enforcement in this country.
And so when we saw Michael Zeldin explaining kind of the painstaking process that you have to go through, the way you ensure that privilege communication of an attorney and a client is protected, you can sort of understand in the President's brain why he doesn't necessarily trust that and why he does feel so exposed to find out everything that he could have been talking to Michael Cohen about over these decades, you know, before he was president, before he was running for president, could somehow now being in the hands of investigators.
KING: And I think that's the key point to why it is so important now that we watch to see if the system meets the bar. Meaning, the Feds in New York have taken this over and it's more of comes back (ph) to the Special Counsel when they have to defend this in court, can they convince judges they're doing the right thing? Because here is Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law professor retired now, I believe, He's become a Fox News commentator repeatedly. He thinks this goes over the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, EMERITUS HARDVARD LAW PROFESSOR: You know, if this were Hillary Clinton being investigated and they went into her lawyer's office, the ACLU would be on every television station in America, jumping up and down. The deafening silence of the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: About as appalling as the deafening silence of the Republicans when the former campaign chairman gets indicted, when the former national security adviser cops a plea. But as we go back through this here, I take Dershowitz's point to be this. If the President says it's an attack in our country, it's an attack on our system.
Now we're going to have Michael Cohen challenges in court. We're going to have a public airing of the case against them so they get to see if they make the bar.
ZELENY: And the question going forward of course what does the President do about it? Does he decide this is enough that he's going to fire Rod Rosenstein? This is enough that he's going to fire Jeff Sessions? The Sessions one is still a little more complicated on Capitol Hill, you know, confirming a new attorney general, et cetera, but keeping an eye on what his view on Rod Rosenstein is. Does he believe he's compromised in all of this year?
[12:40:03] So, you know, this is a familiar story but a different inflection points. Up until now, the President's adviser to be able to talk him off the ledge, don't fire anyone.
I'm not sure that it will be the --
KING: It's important to watch the President over the next 24 hours because what he said yesterday caught the attention of a lot of Republican leader on Capitol Hill as well. They think the President is inching toward a line they don't want him to cross. We shall see.
OK, we'll take a quick break. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
KING: More on now to this big breaking news story that raid, the serving of a search warrant at the offices of the President's personal attorney and long-time fixer, Michael Cohen. The New York Times now reporting, I'm going to read from this article.
[12:45:04] "The FBI agents who raided the office of the President Trump's personal lawyer were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and information related to the publisher of The National Enquirer's role in silencing one of the women." Investigators telling the New York Times the two women, one is Stormy Daniels, we know about that, $130,000 payment from the President's personal attorney just before the 2016 election, she says to buy her silence about a relationship in 2006. Karen McDougal is the ex-playboy model who we know was paid I think $150,000 by the ownership group of The National Enquirer whose publisher is a personal friend of the President. That was in August 2016. And investigators now want to know about these payments and they want to know what Michael Cohen has in his bank records, in his personal notes, in his e-mails, on his phone, all the materials seized from him, which we don't know a lot about this, but which this tells me they're looking at this somehow a campaign finance violation or some is there bank fraud or some of the financial crime involved in trying to buy silence here.
SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: The big question is what they think he had, right? Because to do it the way they did, to pierce the attorney-client privilege, you have to show that the communication between the attorney and the client weren't furtherance of a crime or a fraud. And in order to get the no-knock warrant that they had, you have to show credible fear that evidence would be destroyed if you knock or somebody's life -- you know, somebody's safety would be in danger. That's an extraordinarily high bar.
So clearly they must think they have enough where they know enough about the communications between the President and Michael Cohen to prove that there was a crime fraud --
KING: And that show that probable cause to a judge to get the floor (ph).
MURRAY: But that also assumes, though, that the President was party to these payments and aware of these payments. And so far they have confirmed that the President was not party or aware of these payments. So I think we need to be a little bit careful about whether you are actually piercing attorney-client privilege when it comes to piece (ph) because we don't know. We don't have any answer about whether the President knew that.
ZELENY: Right, good point.
JOHNSON: The timing on this I think is so interesting because we just heard the President a few days ago address the Stormy Daniels situation for the first time. Getting on Air Force One, he said he was not aware of the $130,000 payment on the record and identified Michael Cohen as his attorney, which I think is important. And then a few days later we have this raid on the offices. So the juxtaposition of those events I think is probably important.
ZELENY: And it's not on the attorney from the long time ago. They talk all the time. Michael Cohen was down at Mar-a-Lago having dinner with the President just a couple weeks ago. We've seen last week referring questions and they -- I mean, he's not on staff but he talks to Michael Cohen much more than a lot of his own staff members here.
I think Sara makes a good point. We don't know what the President was aware of. Perhaps they want to ask Michael Cohen and find out what's the situation there.
KING: But that is the challenge now. If you're the President of the United States, Michael Cohen is your friend, Michael Cohen is your personal attorney, Michael Cohen has done a lot of fixing for you over the years, but now do you have questions about how aggressive you want Michael Cohen to be in fighting back? Because as I said early in the program, when people like Paul Manafort have fought back, that's when the Special Counsel shares some of his evidence. Some of it is included, some of it is redacted, if you saw the black in the pages here. But it is because Paul Manafort fought back that the Special Counsel filed papers and said Rod Rosenstein authorized me to investigate possible collusion, possible evidence of a crime, investigate payments from Ukraine.
So if Michael Cohen goes to court to fight this warrant, to fight the seizure of these documents, might we learn something the President doesn't want to learn?
KAPUR: Of all the people that around the President, he is probably the last, Michael Cohen is probably the last person I would expect to turn on the President even arguably more than Manafort.
KING: If may not mean to turn on the President, but if he is defending himself and he goes back at the court, then you get these filings and that's where we're learning.
KAPUR: Right. He's described himself as not only friend of the President but someone who would do anything for him. That anything includes hush money payments to women in the President's life, it includes threatening messages for reporters who are working on stories, includes using friendly media, you know, as part of exchanging favors to get people to be quiet. This is, you know, someone who certainly has a trust for the President and clearly knows a lot probably more than anybody.
ZELENY: Again, in terms of triaging information here, there's a lot of stuff going on. The point is, what does the President do about this? We know he's furious. What does he do about this? He's canceled that trip to South America. And he wasn't scheduled to leave until Friday. It's Tuesday now.
So he is focusing on this. What does he and he alone decide to do about this, watch in the coming hours. We'll see.
KAPUR: Republicans in Congress are nervous as they usually are when there's, you know, there's talker, chatter, there's somebody floating that the President may fire Bob Mueller takes up to do that. Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and ally of President Trump was on the (INAUDIBLE) it would be suicidal for the President and it would give Democrats a weapon.
MURRAY: So they're not in risk enough to do anything about it. I mean, let's be real honest about where Republicans are right now. They're going to go on television and say, don't do this, you're going to get into a lot of trouble, but they're not going to pass legislation to protect the Special Counsel. There has been no actual political will to do that.
KING: Their message actually is more than anything, don't do this to us.
MURRAY: Right. (CROSSTALK)
King: We're the ones on the ballot this year, do not make us deal with that. We shall see what the President does. Let's say a very consequential day you're watching.
[12:50:01] Up next, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives her long-time critic Mike Pompeo some advice as he prepares to take a job Clinton once had.
KING: Welcome back. We told you early in the program, the President changing his travel plans to stay in Washington with the Syria crisis and now this. Just in to us, the Defense Secretary James Mattis also modifying his upcoming travel this week. The Secretary cancelling trip to California and Nevada that were planned this weekend, U.S. official saying it's due to scheduling conflicts but not expanding on just -- with those conflicts are.
On today's political radar, Americans under the age of 30 say they are more likely to vote in this midterm election than they were in the last two midterms. That's according to a new poll from Harvard Institute of Politics. 37 percent of that younger age group say they definitely plan to vote. That's significantly higher than the 23 percent back in 2014 and 31 percent who said that in 2010.
[12:55:00] 72 percent of Americans under 30 say they disapprove of how President Trump is handling his job, just 25 percent approve.
Two Democratic senators say they have evidence that the Environmental Protection Agency may be overstating the need for security for the administrator Scott Pruitt. That security runs 24/7 costing you over $2 million. Meanwhile Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff is expected to speak with congressional investigators this week about his concerns to this over wasteful spending, their concerns, excuse me, and questionable agency practices.
Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo turning to every living former Secretary of State in preparation for his confirmation hearing on Thursday, even Hillary Clinton. Those two have an awkward history. Pompeo, a fierce Clinton critic when the House was investigating the Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE POMPEO (R), KANSAS: Were you aware that our folks were either wittingly or unwittingly meeting with al Qaeda on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, just before the attack?
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I no nothing about this, Congressman.
POMPEO: I think that's deeply disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, though, Pompeo is reaching out and sources telling CNN Clinton happy talk some advice. It included, a source tells us, urging Pompeo to retain and to rely on the career diplomats at the State Department.
Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS today with the breaking news day. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right after a quick break.