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President Trump Declares Mission Accomplished on Syria Airstrikes; Russia, Turkey Vow to Work Together for Political Solution; Interview with Representative Eliot Engel; Pentagon Says Chemical Storage Sites were Targeted; Inside a Syrian Refugee Camp; Battle Rages Between James Comey and President Trump Over New Book; President Trump's Personal Attorney Due in Federal Court Monday; Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 14, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It is 9:00 Eastern here in New York, 4:00 in the morning Damascus, Syria. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera. And this is a special CNN live coverage.

Global fallout. It was on this show one week ago that we saw the very first images of a horrific attack in the suburbs of Damascus. This hour we will take you live to Washington, Frankfurt, Moscow and a refugee camp along the Syrian-Turkish border, in the wake of coalition airstrikes inside Syria.

Political fallout. As news continues to drop ahead of former FBI director James Comey's tell-all book, the White House in full attack mode. Trying to discredit the man Trump fired nearly one year ago. We have newly released clips from Comey's long awaited interview.

And legal fallout. President's fixer in plenty of hot water. After stunning revelations come out of a New York courtroom. A CNN special report, "HUSH MONEY," airs one hour from now.

But first, it is now about 24 hours since the United States, Britain and France acting together, sent a message to Syria in the form of more than 100 missiles launched from the air and from ships, and from submarines. Their targets were not Syrian people, troops, source cities, but the factories that make deadly chemical weapons and the places where they are stored.

This scientific research center near Damascus completely destroyed. Satellite imagery showing extensive damage at storage facilities in the city of Homs. And this is the reason for the air strike. A senseless attack on civilians inside Syria. Chlorine gas and now U.S. officials are all but convinced that sarin gas was used as well. Dozens of people died.

The Syrian government says they didn't do it. President Trump and many other world leaders don't believe them.

We are a global team on this military strike coverage this morning. CNN's Matthew Chance is in Cyprus, where the warplanes that flew this mission are based. CNN's Sam Kiley is in Moscow, tracking Russia's reaction and the response there. And in Washington, CNN White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez.

Let's start there with you, Boris. The president today tweeting the words, "mission accomplished." Does that necessarily mean that the U.S.-led military action against Syria for now is over?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not quite, Ana. The administration is walking a very fine line here. You saw that tweet from President Trump saying mission accomplished. We also heard from the secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who said that this is a one- time shot, but then on the other hand you had administration officials like U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Vice President Mike Pence saying that the United States is locked and loaded, and ready to respond and act in a similar fashion if Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons on his own people again.

It's not really that there isn't a clear picture for the United States' future in Syria but rather it's because it's a complicated one. For years, we've seen this sort of nebulous policy, a sort of hands off approach when it comes to the future of Bashar al-Assad with the exception of these two occasions where the Trump administration has directly gotten involved intervening in Syria, attacking these targets to try to keep Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons.

That appears to be really the singular, sort of all-together holding policy when the United States looks at Syria. Keep in mind, just a few weeks ago, we had President Trump saying that he was ready to remove the American presence from that country that he was going to bring American troops home. So it leads to a lot of questions of what the future is for the American presence in Syria when you consider especially that we don't really know yet how effective this strikes are going to be, not only, you know, preventing Bashar al-Assad from doing this again in the future but also in the extent that we'd crippled his chemical weapons reserves.

That is still a picture that is yet to be fully painted. Frankly the United States can't guarantee that they've completely depleted his ability to use those kinds of weapons against his citizens -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris, as we see fireworks going off behind you, what is the White House's next move? What will we see or hear tomorrow to follow these airstrikes?

SANCHEZ: That is still unclear at this point. President Trump had no public events on the schedule today. It is possible that we may hear from him directly again tomorrow. As you noted, he did tweet twice today. First he tweeted out mission accomplished, something that invokes a negative historical connotation of George W. Bush standing on that aircraft carrier, saying that the American mission in Iraq was essentially over when the deadliest days in that conflict was still years away.

And then further he sort of touted his own support for the military tweeting out that because of, you know, much needed federally approved dollars, the military is greater than ever. The question again is what the United States does next. This president hasn't really had a policy that has been consistent on Syria. [21:05:01] Not only did he say just a few weeks ago that he was ready

to remove troops from Syria but also even throughout the campaign, he had multiple times told his supporters that, you know, other nations have to be more involved in these conflicts overseas and he called for the United States to take care of itself before focusing on these conflicts throughout the world -- Ana.

CABRERA: Again, in this case, the U.S. did not act alone. The U.K. and France also joined this coalition in the airstrikes.

Matthew Chance, you are in Cyprus where the Royal Air Force unit involved in this action is based. The American commander in chief is declaring mission accomplished. Do the British forces there feel the same way?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they do, although there's not such a finality to it when you speak to the British officials here. They are saying that the small part of this attack was successful. That was four tornado fighter jets took off from the air base which is just over 100 miles here in Cyprus, just under 100 miles from the Syrian coast. An attack of relatively limited target in Homs and northern Syria, which was they believe a location where the precursor elements, the chemical weapons were stored.

You know, the concern was I think, there was some caution about, you know, carrying out the attack for a number of reasons. Not least politically in British, the opposition party has been questioning the legality of carrying out an attack like this without a parliamentary debate or without the Security Council mandate at the United Nations.

But there are other concerns as well, not least the security of the actual planes, and in order to meet that problem, another four aircraft were sent up into the skies near Syria as well, British aircraft, to provide air support to the actual bombers as they carried out their strikes with Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

There's also some concern locally, Ana, as well, that, you know, with the threats being made by Russia about retaliation, Cyprus, or the base at Cyprus may also come under attack. So there was some British sensitivity and a balance that have to be struck on the part of the UK government.

CABRERA: OK. Sam, this military message from the West was as much for Russia as it was for Syria since Russia is seen as covering up for Assad. How is Moscow responding?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the truth of the matter is, it's all been pretty much shrugged off but it's not really given much prominence in the Russian media. Vladimir Putin, straight after the strikes or soon after the strike said that this was a gross violation of international law because the operation had been -- not conducted with the United Nations Security Council mandate.

Of course yesterday or today, the Russians failed to get a resolution through the U.N. Security Council condemning the air strike. That was rather predictable. So they are going for international legal condemnation but the reality is that strikes against chemical weapons facilities are tactically significant but strategically irrelevant to the campaign being raged by the Assad regime, alongside the Russians, to try to destroy the rebellion inside Syria.

They successfully combined to crush the rebellion in Aleppo. They've recently crushed the rebellion in eastern Ghouta where on the final day and the final hours they allegedly used this chemical weapon and their next target in all probability will likely be the northern enclave of Idlib or the southern rebel enclave of Daraa, where they will use the same conventional tactics and what they are able to do in response to these airstrikes against chemical weapons is take away from that in a sense that it's OK to kill people in industrial quantities. You're just not supposed to use chemical weapons for it. That is not something that really is going to interrupt the strategic trajectory of what is ultimately going to lead to an Assad victory -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Sam Kiley, Matthew Chance and Boris Sanchez, thank you all for that reporting.

I want to continue this conversation now with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York. He is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thank you for coming in. Do you support the actions that happened over night last night?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: I think the action that happened over night is something that many people, including myself support because I think it's important to send a strong message to Bashar al-Assad that the gassing of a population is not something that is acceptable. If this were to continue, and if the president were to feel that he needed to take steps necessary to have further bombings, then I think the president would have to come to Congress. I think Congress has a very important role to play here. Administrations have been using the AUMF back from the 2001 and 2002 days to go after al Qaeda after the tragedy of 9/11.

[21:10:07] And administrations have been using it as a catch-all to essentially do whatever they want. That really cannot stand. Congress has to play a role. We've got to put forward a new AUMF but I don't think that the president should keep on doing this without involving Congress.

CABRERA: So if he does come back to Congress now after launching these strikes, which you say you support, would you give him authorization? Would you vote yes?

ENGEL: Well, I think it would depend on the circumstances. You know, I have some difficulty in the fact that Assad has murdered over 500,000 of his own people and certainly when people are murdered with gas it's horrific that people are being murdered with all kinds of other ways as well. And the West is sort of twiddled its thumbs all these years and allowed Putin and Iran to back -- to prop up Assad and to have these terrible atrocities perpetrated on the Syrian people.

I speak with many Syrian-American groups and, you know, get the inside scoop about what's happening. And it's really just a terrible thing. So I would like to see a plan for Syria. I would like to see what the future would be for Syria. It's certainly Assad cannot play any role, he cannot play any role in the future of Syria.

CABRERA: So you see regime change as the answer?

ENGEL: I don't know if it's regime change. I would like to see a free and open society in Syria where they can pick their own leader and not be ruled by a murderer who knocks them down with every step. So it's not regime change that I'm looking for.

CABRERA: How would you get to that point, though?

ENGEL: Well, I'll tell you one way we won't get to that point. We should not have boots on the ground. Nobody wants that. But you do have some of the rebels years ago. We had the Free Syria Army who was in a strong position and I think that we should have helped them more than we did. There are still some rebels that we could help but it's going to be tough because essentially everybody has sat back all of these years and allowed Assad to essentially get away with murder.

Now I have two bills, one has already passed the House, which is my SISA bill which slaps sanctions on people who are aiding and abetting these atrocities and also another bill which says that if funds go into the rebuilding of Syria, and none of them can go into the part of Syria that Assad controls. So I think there are other things that we can do to help move the game but it's really very difficult because frankly it's been years of just inaction and while we --

CABRERA: A lot of people are pointing fingers at the Obama administration for these years of inaction. We spoke with a Syrian man who survived the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria and here's how he reacted to the strikes that happened over night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASSEM EID, SURVIVED SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACK IN 2013: I want to tell Mr. Trump, like, directly, I'm a Syrian refugee who survived chemical weapons attack, who's lived under two years of seize and bombardment by the government. I would love to, like, buy you a beer and just sit in front of you and tell you how bad it is in Syria. How you should listen to your heart, not listen to your generals. You proved once again yesterday that you have a big heart at least a lot more bigger than Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: What is your reaction to that?

ENGEL: Well, I don't think it really matters whether it's Trump or Obama. What I think matters is that the Syrian people have been going through hell and the world has basically been sitting right by and allowing it to happen. You have Iran that every time the -- that Assad was losing this war in the past several years, someone would come in to prop him up. First it was Iran coming in with Hezbollah, the terrorist organization that they control, propping up Assad, and then when Assad was slipping again, the Russians came in.

CABRERA: And so I hear you're saying that you don't want more American boots on the ground but that you think something more needs to be done. Is there an argument to be made that the U.S., in the best interest of the American people, to get more involved in the conflict in Syria?

ENGEL: I don't want us to get involved in terms of putting American boots on the ground. I think there are plenty of Syrians that are willing to fight for their country. They just need the material to fight with and we should be providing it for them. We should be having a comprehensive for the future of Syria and it cannot in my feeling, strong feeling include Assad who is again, if you think of the enormity of this, more than 500,000 Syrians have been murdered we saw --

CABRERA: And that was as of 2014 when the U.N. stopped counting.

ENGEL: Right.

CABRERA: Keeping track.

ENGEL: We had, as I mentioned, my SISA bill before it was named after a photographer who snuck pictures out of Syria of terrible atrocities of dead bodies all over the place that were all killed by the regime.

[21:15:11] It looked like something, you know, out of World War II. We should be doing more and we should be doing it with our partners. But no American boots on the ground.

CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Eliot Engel. We really appreciate your time and your perspective here.

Our special live 9:00 hour is just getting started. Still ahead, exactly what targets were hit during these airstrikes and how effective they are? Our military experts break it down live on CNN, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: We are learning more about the U.S.-led offensive in Syria targeting the Assad regime's chemical weapons program. CNN military analyst, retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby outlined the assets used in last night's attacks and the value of the targets hit.

[21:20:09] REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Three targets were hit last night. Two storage facilities up near here in Homs and a research facility down in Damascus. All were related to Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons program. The Pentagon was very careful today to say that they did not obliterate all of his program, they didn't wipe every chemical weapon site off the map. But they wanted to send a strong message that it was the chemical program that was the real problem for the international community, in these cases, and that they wanted to do it precisely. They did it in the middle of the night and they did it with precision-guided munitions to cause the most damage to the target and the least damage to the surrounding areas.

Let me show you what I mean by that, Ana. Look at this bars of zoning. Now this is before the strike. I want you to look -- wait a minute. There we go. This is before the strike. If you look right here and see there's the three buildings of the research center. And then look after the strike. It's completely gone and everything else around it, all still in place. So very precisely done on these three specific targets.

CABRERA: Now one of the differences, of course, in this strike that was done on an international level, compared to what we saw last year in 2017 that was solely the U.S. acting, we know the U.K. and France were involved this time.

KIRBY: That's right. This was a coalition effort between three countries. That's another thing that makes this very different from last year.

Let's just take a look at some of the assets available at sea. You had a French frigate in the Med. You had U.S. Navy ships and submarines in the Red Sea, in the North Arabian Sea, and also in the Mediterranean, all firing Tomahawk missiles. In fact, of the 105 missiles fired, 75 percent of them were Tomahawk missiles, which has been a workhorse for the Navy.

And we'll take a look real quickly. It's 20 feet long. It flies at subsonic speeds but it's very accurate. It flies very low to the ground. Very hard for air defense systems to pick up. And it can do immense damage. And you can see the range all the way out to 1500 miles to keep you away from any Russian air defense systems.

But it wasn't just a sea coalition effort. There was an air coalition effort. It looks like almost 40 now of these cruise missiles were actually launched from the air, sort of Tomahawk missiles from airplanes, and from B-1 Lancer bombers, the JASSM, Joint Air Surface Standout Missile. The first time we think this has been used in combat. Very, very effective.

CABRERA: Our thanks to Rear Admiral John Kirby. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Last night's airstrikes on Syria involved multiple nations and the impact will ripple across multiple fronts from the Middle East, to Russia, across Europe and inside the halls of the U.N. After all the shock wave of Syria's long bloody civil war has led to a refugee crisis and regional instability.

Joining us now CNN national security analyst Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and a senior follower at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Robin Wright, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and a contributing writer for the "New Yorker." So I'll start with you, Robin. President Trump declared mission

accomplished after these strikes. The Pentagon says the strikes will set back serious chemical weapon program for years. Do you think this military action changed the game in Syria in a significant way?

ROBIN WRIGHT, FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: Not really. It does limit Assad's ability to use chemical weapons against civilian populations but the reality is that in some ways the strike also indicated that the United States has to accept the reality that President Assad is winning the war and he may be around for quite a while.

The president called him a monster, the Pentagon talked about the president as a dictator and his lieutenants as murderous commanders. And yet there's no U.S. strategy to try to deal with ending the civil war or replacing President Assad. The administration -- this administration, the previous administration, both tried to push a peace process but it isn't going any place. And the idea that the strike would add some kind of new momentum to the peace process is probably an illusion.

CABRERA: Gayle, if the West is looking at continued involvement in Syria, what is the end goal short of regime change and what is the risk of creating conditions that could potentially give rise to terrorists groups like ISIS?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So interesting you say that, right? So the end game has always been six letters. Right? Geneva, as Robin was saying. Trying to get the parties to the table. But the truth is, even though since 2011, official U.S. policy is the time has come for Assad to step aside. No one things he's going anywhere any time soon except maybe, you know, a day trip to -- to Moscow or Tehran.

You know, I mean, I talked to a Syrian activist yesterday and what (INAUDIBLE), who said, you know, this is all way too late. I mean, truly I don't think anybody thinks that this changes the calculus. But what is fascinating is watching the U.S., France and the U.K. because what we have seen in the past 24 hours is something we haven't seen in years, which is clear messaging, a very coordinated strategy, and a very clear idea that what they're trying to do is contain the chemical weapons threat and then if you watch what they're doing at the U.N. today to push the diplomatic path forward in some shape or form. And this is definitely the clearest coordination we've seen of these three Trans-Atlantic allies in years.

CABRERA: So Gayle, there is some concern, though, about Syria becoming another Iraq. Is there a case to be made that further intervention in Syria is in the best interest of the American people?

LEMMON: You know, I mean, this has been the arguments for many inside the Obama administration who since 2012, 2013, I've talked to, 2014, I know Robin has talked to them, have argued that the price of not intervening was not fully weighed.

[21:30:13] And so I think now you see, you know, this strike was set out to find the kind of Goldilocks moment where we don't topple the regime, we don't provoke the ire of Russia but we do make clear what it is that these three allies and the international community will stand for. And I was just in northern Syria, and I'll tell you, there is so much gain that you see on the ground.

People, really, I mean, I interviewed moms who live under ISIS and who walked out of the door every day, like this, you know, sheltering their children's eyes from seeing hangings and beheadings. And really what they say to me is we are willing to fight for our future, we just need the world to support us.

CABRERA: Robin, how do last night's strikes impact the already tense relations between Russia and the West especially the U.S. following the months we've seen of sanctions and reciprocal diplomatic expulsions?

WRIGHT: This is the third message in the last month to the government of Vladimir Putin to stop meddling in the region, stop meddling in the Western world. We saw the expulsion of more than 100 intelligent agents from something like two dozen countries. There are sanctions on the oligarchs in Russia. And now this strong message to Russia, and it's very interesting that the Russians did not attempt to intervene, did not do as they pledged to strike back at any target that hit in Syria and to go after those that fired those missiles.

We haven't seen that. But it is true that after more than a year, almost 15 months, of saying that President Trump wanted better relations with Vladimir Putin, that he hoped to reset relations, that it's now clear that that's a long way off. And a sequence of events, the use of chemical weapons against a former spy in Britain, and the meddling in the U.S. election. There was an election coming up later this year that now support for President Assad that the United States even President Trump is drawing a line. And it's going to be hard to better relations any time in the near future.

CABRERA: Robin Wright and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, thank you, ladies. I really appreciate your insight.

WRIGHT: Great to join you.

LEMMON: Thank you.

CABRERA: Still ahead. Life in limbo, as the world debates the next move. Syrians who have evacuated face a very dire situation. Up next, CNN takes you inside a refugee camp near the border with Turkey. You don't want to miss it.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:36:56] CABRERA: As the Syrian civil war grinds on, refugees remain in limbo not knowing when their misery will end. For them last week's alleged chemical attack was merely the latest chapter in seven years of suffering. Hundreds of families live in make-shift camps now as they free areas they called home. CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon got an exclusive

look inside one of those tent cities. She spoke to people just hours after this new round of U.S.-led airstrikes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's definitely something that stinks.

(Voice-over): These backpacks belonged Malaz and Masa, 7-year-old twins from Douma. They're a little shy, hesitant.

Their mother Umm Nour tells us they remember everything vividly. They were hiding in a basement when the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma took place. They could barely breathe. She felt her body go limp. She clawed her way up, dragging her daughters. But then, the other strikes began.

"We were between two deaths," she remembers. "Either from the chemical strikes or the others on the rooftop."

(On camera): The smell is still quite strong. These are the things that they weren't able to wash yet. And look, that's the toy that her daughter hid away to try to keep her safe, and she would tell the toy, you know, you might -- you might suffocate, but at least you'll be safe from the bombing. That's how -- that's how the kids' minds work.

Yesterday they were digging a tunnel for the ants so that the ants wouldn't suffocate just in case something happened.

(Voice-over): In another tent we meet a boy with a jagged scar running across his abdomen from shrapnel. His uncle who doesn't want to be identified was among the worst affected in the family in the chemical strike. He says his blood sample was taken the day before.

This new camp is inhabited with those who survived the siege of Douma. It's relentless months long bombing that drove families underground, so that something as simple as feeling the sun on their skin was a luxury.

Rim (PH) and her family thought there was a lull in the bombing and went outside when she says three airstrikes slammed right next to them. The next thing she remembers is being in the hospital.

(On camera): She had just gotten out of surgery in the hospital when the wounded from the chemical strikes she says began coming in.

(Voice-over): The scene was so horrific she says she forgot her own pain. What she doesn't know, what no one has the heart to tell her is that her husband is dead. Her son, just 2-years-old, is too young to remember his father.

The limited U.S., French, U.K. strikes may have sent a message to the Syrian regime about chemical weapons, but not about the rest of its arsenal.

For those who have endured the unimaginable, it's little more than a move on a gruesome chessboard.

[21:40:06] 68-year-old Fevziye arrived here four days ago from Douma. She has buried too many relatives to count, including her son and two grandchildren.

(On camera): There is nothing left for them, I mean, even if they could go home, there is nothing left.

(Voice-over): She says her country has caused her too much pain. And remembering the long lost days when her family was around her, when they were all alive, when feeling safe wasn't a luxury, it's all just too much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Wow. Arwa Damn is joining us now live from the Turkey-Syria border.

It's hard to fully comprehend what their lives are like, Arwa. What is the sense of people there? Do they think they'll ever be able to return?

DAMON: You know, they're so conflicted about that. Of course deep down inside, they desperately do want to be able to. But then they're also confronted with the reality that there is not much for them to return to. And also with perhaps the more bitter pill to swallow, and that is that this war is unlikely to end any time soon. The suffering, the bloodshed, the ongoing relentless fighting. This is what they have had to go through and it doesn't seem as if any of the powers that have the capability to actually bring about an end to it have the will to do so.

CABRERA: It is a chilling story you are covering for us. Thank you, Arwa Damon, for that report.

Coming up, President Trump's personal attorney facing a new deadline to turn over his client list. New details straight ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:07] CABRERA: CNN now getting a new clip of fired FBI director James Comey in his first big TV interview with ABC as it gears up for the release of his new book. Comey's memoirs called "A Higher Loyalty," hits the shelves in just three days. And in this new clip, Comey talks about his decision to go public about newly discovered Clinton e-mails just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: It wasn't the decision to reveal influence by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win and your concern that she wins, this comes out several weeks later and then that's taken by her opponent as a sign that she is an illegitimate president. JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It must have been. I don't

remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been. Because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. And so I'm sure that it was a factor. Like I said, I don't remember spelling it out, but it had to have been that she's going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you knew that letter would elect Donald Trump, you'd still send it?

COMEY: I would.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Let's talk it over with someone who personally knows Comey. Guy Lewis, former U.S. attorney who worked at the Justice Department with Comey.

Guy, are you surprised by Comey's calculus in that Hillary Clinton e- mail announcement?

GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I am, Ana, somewhat surprised about that because truly the FBI and certainly the director, they are just not supposed to make decisions based on politics and to me, the answer, it really does sort of sound like he's injecting politics into his calculus.

CABRERA: Comey's memoirs also includes pointed and personal attacks on the president's hand size, his skin tones, the bags underneath his eyes, and then in his interview with George Stephanopoulos we've also seen a clip in which he questioned the president's relationship with his wife.

Guy, do these types of personal attacks square with the Comey who you knew at the Justice Department?

LEWIS: I don't think they help. I really don't. There is nothing about that that I find enlightening or otherwise interesting to be honest with you.

Ana, there's probably two people in Washington right now that are mad as hornets about this book and these revelations, one of course is Trump. We know what the president thinks. He's made it clear in his tweets but the other person that we have not heard from is Bob Mueller. I mean, look, Comey is a witness in the investigation. Potentially a witness in the case. He's turned over reports. He's done interviews. He's given them a statement.

And every time a witness comes out and they are interviewed, journalists are very good. You're very good. You can ask a thousand -- same question 1,000 different ways and that just creates fodder for defense lawyers and investigators. Nobody likes it.

CABRERA: When you say Comey is a witness potentially in Bob Mueller's investigation and now here he is kind of spilling the beans publicly, does that impact potentially the Russia investigation, the special counsel's Russia investigation?

LEWIS: I think it does impact the investigation, Ana. I had a case recently -- for example, and I'll give you concrete example. So I had a case not too long ago that finished, it was -- I was representing Dr. Tony Bosch. Bosch had allegedly given A. Rod and other athletes, you know, the PEDs, and so it was a national case, it got a lot of publicity.

Now during that case, we must have gotten a request a day, two, three, four requests today to interview Bosch, to put him on the news, to have newspapers and magazines interview him, that kind of thing.

[21:50:10] Always resisted it, Ana, because it was never good because again, it created a record that you could use to really cross-examine him, and frankly the government didn't want me to either. And so I wonder right now whether Bob Mueller is scratching his head thinking what the heck is going on here.

CABRERA: But clearly, Comey would know that this could have an impact, right? So why would he do it in this way that he is -- how he's going out there, putting himself out there?

LEWIS: That's a great question. And I wonder whether or not, Comey -- whether Jim or Jim's lawyer called his predecessor, director, Bob Mueller, and said hey, look, this is what I got to do. Look, I understand Jim wanting to hit back. Truly. I understand that concept. But I am not so sure that the book and some of the things that you mentioned are such a good idea.

CABRERA: Guy Lewis, we appreciate you coming on. Thank you very much.

Coming up in just a few minutes, a CNN's special report, "HUSH MONEY: TROUBLE FOR TRUMP" with our Sara Sidner. We'll have a preview, next, don't go anywhere.

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[21:55:45] CABRERA: President Trump's personal attorney is due in court Monday, a week after FBI agents raided his home, his office, his hotel room, seizing thousands of documents, safe deposit boxes, a couple of cell phones.

Our camera has caught Michael Cohen out and about New York City today. He wouldn't respond to our questions about whether he had spoken to his lawyer or the president today. Now at one point you can hear a woman saying, "Bad man," to Cohen to which he quickly responds, "Good man."

Now the Justice Department just revealed that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings. This week's raid targeted records of hush money payments of two women who claim to have had affairs with the president.

CNN's Sara Sidner is joining us.

Now, Sara, tell us about this latest deal that just came to light concerning Michael Cohen and another confidentiality agreement this time involving this high-ranking member of the Republican National Committee.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, look, talking to our sources, our team confirmed that Michael Cohen was involved in yet another confidentiality deal with attorney Keith Davidson. Now Davidson is also the attorney who represented Stormy Daniels in a deal where Cohen admitted to paying $130,000 in hush money as part of confidentiality agreement. Davidson also represented the Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal who says she had an affair with Donald Trump that was silenced as well.

Now Cohen and Davidson, we have since learned worked on yet another deal in the summer or early fall of 2017 involving the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, Elliott Broidy. That agreement was made with a former Playboy model who says during her affair with Broidy, he had gotten her pregnant. And according to a source who has seen that hush agreement, the deal was that Brody would pay his mistress $1.6 million over a series of payments to be made on a quarterly basis for unspecified personal injury claims, though in the agreement Brody denied responsibility for those personal injury claims.

Now we have since gotten a statement from Mr. Broidy when this story broke and he's admitting that he did indeed have a mistress. Here's part of what he said. He said, "At the end of our relationship this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period. We have not spoken since that time."

And you should know that not long after that statement was sent to us Broidy stepped down from his lofty position at the Republican National Committee -- Ana.

CABRERA: And now, Sara, tell us more about this special report on Michael Cohen, the raid and the women at the center of this presidential scandal that airs tonight on 10:00 here on CNN.

SIDNER: Yes. We tried to put all the details together. We have laid out a timeline of events, talk to sources concerning some of the major scandals facing the Trump administration. We began, though, with the details of the raid of President Trump's personal Michael Cohen. We revealed some of our exclusive reporting in the many scandals involving hush deals, alleged affairs and some of what authorities say they confiscated during the raid of three places that Cohen lives or works in.

Now we also got unprecedented access, talked to many different people who all say that look, this signals a major turning point in the cases surrounding President Trump. Remember that Michael Cohen is his personal attorney but also his go-to guy, his fixer if you will. If you've only been getting bits and pieces of the daily gush of information that's hard to keep together, this is a really good place to see it all put together so that makes sense to you and it explains why it could be very important and potentially damming all the way up to the Oval Office -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Sara Sidner, we're looking forward to your special. It is just seconds away now. We really appreciate your time. And I'll be back live here in the NEWSROOM 30 minutes from now.

CNN's special report "HUSH MONEY: TROUBLE FOR TRUMP" with Sara Sidner starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN Special Report.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: He's been called Donald Trump's pit bull.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Cohen, someone said to me, knows where all the bodies are buried because he may have buried a lot of them.