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NEW DAY SUNDAY
Haley: U.S. "Locked And Loaded" To Hit Syria Again; Assad Praises Russian Weapons After Allied Strike; Questions Raised Over Long-Term Syria Strategy; U.S. And Allies Push For U.N. Chemical Attack Investigation; Comey Responds To Criticism Of Clinton Email Investigation. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired April 15, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Precise, overwhelming and effective.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to tell Mr. Trump like directly, I'm a Syrian refugee who survived chemical weapons attacks. I would love to buy you a beer.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Michael Cohen, the attorney-at-law and also sometimes not at law. I'm Donald Trump's lawyer! I got a whole hard drive that is just labeled, yikes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
Now after the military strikes, we are seeing acts of diplomacy just hours after raining more than a hundred missiles to three sections in Syria, American, British and French leaders are calling for a new investigation into the suspected chemical weapons attacks by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
PAUL: The allies say it's going to help dismantle the program in, quote, "a verifiable and irreversible way." I want to show you some images we are getting here. Tomahawk missiles being launched from the submarine "USS John Warner" in the Mediterranean Sea.
Syria's most powerful ally Russia has called on the United Nations to condemn the military action, but members of the Security Council overwhelmingly rejected that resolution. Syria says most of the missiles were intercepted and that some of the targets were left unscathed.
The satellite images appear to dispute that showing some sides have indeed been leveled. The Pentagon says the strikes on Syria's chemical weapon sites sets back the program for years but with some capability still left, the Trump administration issues a stern warning against future attacks.
BLACKWELL: CNN politics reporter, Dan Merica, is in our Washington bureau with more. Dan, good morning to you.
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning. Yes, the fact that some of that infrastructure was left standing. It's important there, the Trump administration is promising future attacks if President Bashar al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons.
Now it's important note here that the Defense Department yesterday could not say whether that red line, new set red line includes chlorine gas, what was used during the suspected attack. Even as U.S. officials say they are confident that both chlorine and sarin were used in the alleged attack that spurred the strikes by the United States, France and Britain.
Democrats on Capitol Hill, while initially supportive of the attacks have now called on Congress, called on President Trump to come in front of them and present his future strategy for Syria. This comes as they are promising future attacks if these chemical weapons continue, the use of chemical weapons continue.
They are also calling on the Trump administration to go to the United Nations and use the United Nations as a venue for that diplomacy. What is remarkable here is that the U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, is actually possibly more hawkish than many in the Trump administration on this issue. Take a listen to what she said yesterday about possible future attacks in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MERICA: So, she said the United States is locked and loaded. The president of the United States said yesterday that it was mission accomplished. A reference that harkened back to what President George W. Bush said during the Iraq war that he has now said he regretted using that term.
It's also important to note that Nikki Haley's use of the term red line certainly references back to what President Obama said in 2013 in Syria saying they would use force if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. He kind of backed off of that and went for a more peaceful solution that President Trump has slammed him for. We are also told at times that President Trump has brought up President Obama's failure to figure out the Syrian crisis when they are deliberating what exactly to do in the country.
BLACKWELL: All right. Dan Merica for us in Washington. Dan, thank you so much.
New this morning, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is claiming at least partial victory. In a meeting with Russian lawmakers, he says that defense weapons supplied by Moscow knocked down many of the allies' missiles. It's worth pointing out these weapons are cold war relics from the soviet era.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us live from Northern Syria. Nick, of course, U.S. military would refute the claim made by Assad, but the statement here, the sentiment reinforces the obvious, the reliance by Syria on Russia.
[06:05:12] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, obviously, this is part of Bashar al-Assad making a clear statement of how nothing really disturbed them over the last 24, 48 hours or so. Remember the likelihood of Soviet era and anti-aircraft systems being able to take out U.S., U.K., and French missiles state- of-the-art precision-guided highly unlikely obviously.
So, we're in two possibilities here, either we believe the abiding narrative from the Russians and the Syrians they took about two-thirds of the missiles launched in the direction of Syria.
That in itself even by modern technology would be staggering success for anti-missile technology or frankly, the Pentagon with their satellite images of the before and after of the destruction, which they have managed to have done ourselves telling the truth there.
But putting that aside, we are quite used to the Syrian regime propaganda mission. Their aim here is to make it quite clear that business continues as normal. That was the point of the bizarre imagery of Bashar al-Assad walking to work through an empty but very nicely mashed polished marble reception put out yesterday.
That's being the idea behind the life is normal pictures on Syrian state tv too. They have been showing the damage, the Barzah Research facility, that is true, absolutely. But at the same time, I think this has been a moment for the Syrian regime to say business is normal isn't really changing.
They are moving forward with notions of reconstruction. Part of that strange meeting between Bashar al-Assad and Russian lawmakers is the man who responsible for much of the destruction of Syria saying he's going to need about $14 billion to start rebuilding the bits that he currently controls.
It is really a war that continues regardless of this. The U.S. was quite clear that chemical weapons were the focus here as was the U.K. and France for six years, let's face it, have no interest in changing the balance of the Syrian civil war and haven't the last 72 hours.
The question now is what is new red line? Is it chlorine or sarin? And Damascus (inaudible) potentially by these external enemies and its allies to think about never using chemical weapons again? Back to you.
PAUL: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, good to see you. Thank you so much for the insight there.
So, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former Army commanding general in Europe and Seventh Army is with us now as well as Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Thank you both for being here.
General, I want to start with you. We just heard there from Nick Paton Walsh. The question is, where is the red line? Do you think that it is ambiguous at this point or has it been drawn?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it's been drawn, Christi. The fact that this attack was certainly an attempt to provide a deterrent for both Mr. Assad and the Russian supporters under Mr. Putin to not use any chemical weapons before.
As you said in your last segment, the implications of the use of any type of chemical weapons, whether it's chlorine, sarin, blister, mustard, the different types that Assad has, all of those are devastating weapons. They are horrible and against a convention of international law.
So, I think the true red line has been drawn against the use of any weapons. I believe Mr. Assad and Mr. Putin now have -- are deterred from using both in the future.
PAUL: Juliette, do you agree with that that they are now deterred and beyond that, if that is true that they are now deterred from using any chemical weapons, but what do we do from this point on? Because it doesn't solve anything with the leader of that country with Bashar al- Assad.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. I think what we saw, at least Friday night, was the challenges from going sort of a tactical campaign which was that. That was essentially to take out some sights and make a statement about the use of a chemical weapon to a more strategic mission.
And that mission has a problem which is the general architecture of what is going on in Syria, which is Assad is in power and the Russians are supporting him has not changed and will not change without more engagement by the west, which is something we and nor our allies want to do.
So, I think what you're going to see is just a focus on chemical weapons as sort of this area where the west is going to insert its preferences and its policy the no use and Russia and Syria may or may not abide by it. But in the end, I don't think you're going to see many changes to the government structure in Syria to the civil war nor in the long term to the continuing reign, unfortunately, of Assad.
PAUL: General Hertling, I want to read something that Representative Will Hurd of Texas tweeted out. He said, "You still have Bashar al- Assad in power being to kill many of his own countrymen, that's not a success.
[06:10:07] I think until Assad leaves, I would say the broader goals in the region have not been accomplished." A lot people calling for diplomatic efforts here. We're seven years into this war or they are, how plausible is it that there's any sort of diplomatic effort that could persuade Bashar al-Assad?
HERTLING: I don't think there is any, Christi. That's interesting point. Congressman Hurd has a very fine point on this. This is a civil war and I think the determination by the president and this current administration is we are not going to get involved in this civil war no matter how heinous it is.
We are looking more to stop the international movement of chemical weapons and the use of those weapons. It's interesting. The day after the attack by the coalition of the United States, U.K., and France, Syria was right back at it bombing civilian targets with conventional weapons, taking strikes against women and children again, it just didn't happen to be with sarin or chlorine glass.
It was with conventional weapons and just as many people were dying in this conflict. That's the unfortunate part about this, but there's a whole different procedure if you're going to get involved in a civil war and when you're looking to displace by force a nation's leader.
That is a whole lot different mission set than upholding international law and the use of chemical weapons. That is the differentiation between the two.
PAUL: Sure. So, Juliette, if you are not going to get involved in a civil war and you are not going to displace this leader, what are the options?
KAYYEM: So, there's two focuses that we will see in the future. So, one is, of course, as the general is saying, simply a statement that the use of chemical weapons, whether sarin or chlorine will be answered if it is used.
I think chlorine is much more difficult to prohibit because it has, obviously, industrial uses, nations use chlorine all the time. So, we just want to ensure that chlorine is not weaponized against the citizenry.
The second area not to be forgotten is America's strategic interest in ensuring that ISIS no longer has strongholds in either the Syria or Iraq area. We will continue our military presence to ensure essentially our own safety, right? ISIS is -- or dismantling ISIS is an important strategic and national interest for the United States and the west. So, those two areas are our focus in Syria. If anyone thinks that Syria will change, it's just not going to happen.
PAUL: General Hertling, real quickly, there a belief that Kim Jong-un may be paying very close attention to what the U.S. is doing right now. How does what we are seeing in the last 24, 48 hours affect that whole event?
HERTLING: Well, again, it's the fact that the United States will stand up under President Trump against the use of weapons of mass destruction which both chemical and nuclear weapons are. These are outlawed weapons on the world stage and to use them in an attack is going to be met with force by a nation that has a significant amount of power, the United States.
The precision of this strike, even though as Juliette says, this was a tactical operation, the only strategy was to issue that message that we will stand up against the use of chemical weapons. But the precision of the weapons, the synchronization of the strike, the way the conduct of the operation was conducted in a very fierce and very short period of time are all signals, I think, to Kim Jong-un about the capabilities of the United States.
PAUL: All right. General Hertling and Juliette Kayyem, so grateful to have your voices here. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: After the strike, France, U.S. and U.K. are pushing for an independent investigation of chemical weapons attacks in Syria as the U.S. and Russia debated over the air strikes at the U.N. That is ahead.
PAUL: And former FBI Director James Comey had a decision to make, send a letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton's emails or do nothing. What he said he would do, if given another chance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our message to Russia is you're on the wrong side of history. It is time for Russia to get the message of President Trump delivered last night. That you're known by the company you keep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: It's 18 minutes past the hour right now.
Vice President Pence there in Peru. The U.S. and U.K. and France pushing for an irreversible end to Syria's chemical weapons program. U.N. diplomats telling CNN France backed by the U.S. and U.K. want an independent investigation of the chemical weapons attack. BLACKWELL: Now there was also a heated debate at the U.N. Security Council between the U.S. and Russia, and a failed attempt by Russia to get the U.N. to condemn the attacks.
PAUL: CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is live from London right now.
BLACKWELL: Nic, tell us more about the resolution being led by France and the pushback there from Russia.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it is going to face pushback from Russia, absolutely because we had a precursor for this earlier in the week when there was resolution that the United States, backed by France and Britain.
Tried to get through already which said that there should be an investigation into this attack in Douma because, right now, you have the chemical weapons inspectors going into today, into Damascus into that neighborhood of Douma to have a look and see if chemical weapons were used.
But that is the problem. They are going there to see if they were used and what the chemicals were. But what the international community wanted and wanted this last week and proposing again to draft a resolution on the United Nations on, which says it's no good knowing that chemicals were used because we know that.
[06:20:09] It's no good knowing just what chemicals were actually used, but it's important to note who was responsible and to be able to apportion blame and, therefore, stop Assad doing it again in the future.
So, the language on that resolution is going to have to be -- I would say exceptionally clever, if you will, to try to break Russia's support and stop Russia placing a veto on it and that seems exceptionally unlikely.
Russia thinks it dodged a bullet over the weekend in Syria and just continue with Assad -- using chemical weapons but continue on their agenda in Syria propping Bashar al-Assad up and killing off his opposition.
BLACKWELL: All right. Nic Robertson for us in Moscow. Nic, thank you very much.
PAUL: James Comey says even if sending his 2016 letter to Congress helped to let Donald Trump win, he would still do it again. What he would say to Hillary Clinton?
BLACKWELL: Plus, President Trump's personal lawyer due in court tomorrow after the FBI raids on his home and his office. We will explain why Michael Cohen is expected there and at least where Trump is concerned about this.
PAUL: All righty, you're up early on a Sunday. It's 26 minutes past the 6:00 hour. We are grateful for it, though. Thanks for keeping us company. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Sunday to you.
PAUL: So, former FBI Director James Comey said had he -- if he were able to do it all over again, let's say, he would still send that pivotal 2016 letter, that letter announcing before the 2016 election that he was investigating Hillary Clinton's emails that he would still send it even -- whether it changes the outcome of the election or not.
BLACKWELL: All right. Here is Comey speaking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: Wasn't the decision to reveal influence by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win and if she wins this comes out several weeks later, and taken that she is an illegitimate president?
COMEY: It must have been. I don't remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been. I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. I'm sure that it was a factor. Like I said I don't remember spelling it out about it had to have been. That she is going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she will be illegitimate the moment this comes out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you knew that letter would elect Donald Trump, you would still send it?
COMEY: I would.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hillary Clinton is convinced that that letter defeated her. What do you say to her?
COMEY: I hope not. I don't know. I honestly don't know. I sure hope not but the honest answer is it wouldn't change the way I think about it. My hope -- I didn't write the book for this reason -- but talking about leadership, it was important to tell the email story because it's me trying to figure out how to lead well.
That people will read that story and try to put themselves in my shoes, try to realize that I'm not trying to help a candidate or hurt a candidate. I'm trying to do the right thing and you can come up with different conclusions, reasonable people would have chosen a different door for reasonable reasons, but it's just not fair to say we were doing it for some illegitimate reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: All right. Joining us now is Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." So, it's interesting, Brian, to hear him say I wasn't consciously thinking about it, maybe it was just already ingrained in my mind. He is basically saying it didn't taint my decision. Your thoughts.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to think back to those weeks before the 2016 presidential election, how there was this consensus view, even among Trump supporters, Trump voters that Clinton was the likely victor, winner.
Comey is saying he wasn't able to escape that feeling either. Even the nation's top law enforcement officer might have been influenced in some way and in the back of his mind at least by the idea that Clinton was the likely victor.
BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you, we have seen already some of the responses from the president on Twitter and there has been a bit of a hiatus there for obvious reasons what has happened in Syria and the strikes there. But the expectation that will pick up as this interview airs tonight and we see James Comey for the next several days.
STELTER: Yes. This is going to be at least a week and a half long rollout and the expectation is that in these interviews, Comey will share even more, both from the book and also parts that are not in this book.
The Stephanopoulos interview that you showed a five-hour long interview that Stephanopoulos taped with Comey and this will be edited down to a one hour airing tonight. But then all week long once the book is out, he will continue to appear across television and radio.
And you have to imagine some feedback loop here where the president might respond, or the Republican National Committee will be responding and then Comey will be wanting to act to their rebuttals.
We already know the RNC has campaign out called lying Comey to tear down his credibility and remind people what even Democrats have said about Comey in the past. He's, of course, a polarizing figure and something that RNC has taken advantage of.
You know, guys, there are 850,000 copies of this book that have already been printed. This is a staggering number in the publishing world.
I spoke with the head of the publisher at Macmillan, Don Weisberg, he said this is the largest first printing that we have done all year long. And what makes that noticeable is they also printed "Fire and Fury."
Remember (ph) three months ago Michael Wolff's book comes out of nowhere. It becomes a smash hit. "Fire and Fury" ultimately sold 2 million copies but it started out at a much smaller level. In this case the publisher is expecting this book to be a huge best seller that's why they have already printed almost a million copies with much more to come. So there are certainly high expectations for Comey at the publishing house and I think that's all the more reason why there is a sense of dread about this book at the White House. PAUL: All right. I want to point out a point that Nate Silver made. Here it is.
"If Comey's decision to release the letter on October 28th was influenced by his interpretation of the polls that really ought to cut against his image as an honorable, principled decision maker. Instead he was just being expedient and trying to save his own hide."
Of course, he was saying there he thought she was going to win. He was clearly paying attention to the polls. Do you agree with that?
STELTER: And this entire book is supposed to be about ethical leadership --
STELTER: -- about difficult decision making so I think he's going to get pressed in interview after interview about this issue with Clinton. The choices he made around the Clinton investigation and whether they were the right choices or he regrets those choices.
You know, at one point later this month he's going to be doing a town hall with our colleague Anderson Cooper that's in a week and a half but I'm interested in seeing what's that like when he's interacting with voters and other readers of his book.
First he's going to be on "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper on Thursday so he'll be sitting down with Jake Tapper, the first live interview on cable news. And I think there is going to be questions, obviously, about Trump but also about Clinton because of these questions. It's almost like an alternative reality.
If the Comey letter had not come out, if the investigation had not been reopened, there are so many questions about what would happen after that. And there are many people, including Clinton, herself, and Jennifer Palmieri I have on "RELIABLE SOURCES" this morning who say it was the Comey letter. It was the Comey letter that tipped the election.
PAUL: All right. Brian Stelter, looking forward to seeing that this morning. Be sure to catch him because he's not going anywhere, Brian is on "RELIABLE SOURCES" of course today 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: Well, he has been called the less cool version of Hollywood's on screen fixer Ray Donovan and he's reportedly had just one client for more than a decade. We will see if that is true on Monday in court. And that client would be Donald Trump.
Why attorney Michael Cohen could be on the verge of a major, major change. We will tell you about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIAM NEESON, NARRATOR: In August, 1978 a new Pope John Paul I is elected. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An extraordinary turn of events he has a massive heart attack and dies in his sleep.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Paul I dies after 30 days. And you have to have another election immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cardinals saw the death of John Paul I as a message from God, that maybe they needed to think in a little bit more of an unconventional way and why elect a non-Italian (INAUDIBLE) pope and make this radical change from the past.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that election brings forth Karol (ph) Wojtyla (ph) who becomes to be John Paul II.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour right now. We expect President Trump's personal lawyer to appear in federal court tomorrow following the FBI raid of his home, his office, his computer.
BLACKWELL: Yes. The hotel rooms, cell phones, on and on and on.
The issue? The recordings here. Calls between Michael Cohen and another attorney that could bring big problems for Cohen and possibly for the president.
PAUL: Cohen's loyalty to the president it's legendary. CNN's Brian Todd explains why he is called in fact the president's fixer.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's personal lawyer and confidant in serious trouble on several fronts. Michael Cohen is coming off a tumultuous week which included FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room and the news that Cohen has been the subject of a criminal investigation for months, as he prepares to follow a judge's order for him to go to court on Monday Cohen could be on the verge of taking a major legal hit (INAUDIBLE) in the service of one man.
MICHAEL COHEN, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO DONALD TRUMP: The next president of the United States.
TODD: Prosecutors say Cohen has told at least one witness Donald Trump is his only client.
For 12 years, Cohen has been Trump's personal attorney or as many call him, Trump's fixer. One former Trump campaign official says Cohen is a less cool version of Ray Donovan, Showtime's fictional Hollywood fixer. But if Cohen is less cool than Donovan, observers say he is every bit as tenacious. MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED": It comes down (INAUDIBLE) to threatening people. He's a guy who carries a pistol and ankle holster. He makes it clears to people that he is a tough guy.
TODD: From sometimes ruthlessly maneuvering against people who have damaging information on Trump to trying to facilitate business deals for his boss, observers say Michael Cohen consistently doggedly displays the one characteristic Donald Trump values most.
FISHER: There's very little in the world that's more important to Donald Trump than loyalty and Michael Cohen has shown for more than a decade that he will hold
confidences and that he will fight for Trump in the way that Trump likes and that is to hit hard, to always hit back harder than you've been hit.
TODD: Cohen's legal handling of the Stormy Daniels case has come under scrutiny. He recently said he used his personal funds to -- quote -- "facilitate" a payment to the porn star shortly before the 2016 elections. Trump recently said he had no knowledge of the payment something legal experts say is almost unheard of.
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is extraordinary and I would tell you that probably 99.9 percent of the lawyers in America would never even contemplate doing this.
TODD: Cohen tells CNN his legal handling of the Daniels case has been solid, air-tight and that he believes it's Daniels who is now liable for millions in damages based on her conduct. But Cohen is also being criticized from a pure public relations standpoint.
MICHAEL RUBIN, CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST: I think the entire thing was either reckless, naive, or completely incompetent.
TODD: Crisis communications specialist Michael Rubin says, it was a bad idea to believe paying Daniels off would make her go away. What should Cohen have told Trump?
RUBIN: Tell him this is not going to work. That's what he -- that's what he really should have done. There was nothing they could have done to make this go away so dealing with it honestly is pretty much the only choice they have.
TODD (on camera): Cohen depends himself on that score as well telling us he hopes Daniels and her attorney are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame that he thinks that will diminish significantly when a judgment is entered against her.
As for the allegations of an affair, Mr. Cohen reiterated his strong denial of an affair on three separate occasions. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BLACKWELL: Brian, thank you.
Joining us now Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for "Spectrum News;" and Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser for the Trump campaign. Gentlemen, welcome back to NEW DAY Sunday.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: Jack, let's start with Michael Avenatti. You know the name, he's Stormy Daniels' attorney. Here he was with Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Michael Cohen right now is radioactive. I'm going to repeat it, radioactive.
Anybody that had any contact with this attorney, this man for the last 30 years their information may now be in the hands of the FBI and there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be very, very nervous. And the more contact you had with him during that time period the more at risk you are and we know who the person is that had the most contact and that is the president of the United States.
BLACKWELL: So, Jack, "The New York Times" is reporting that the Trump -- the president's advisers are more concerned about the Cohen investigation being detrimental for the president than the Mueller investigation.
Are you concerned about the Cohen investigation? Are you concerned about those recordings?
KINGSTON: I would be.
And I would say this. If you think about the Mueller investigation on collusion with Russia, it's proven to be nowhere as a dead-end.
And then there was --
BLACKWELL: No, it hasn't been, Jack. The investigation is not over.
KINGSTON: Victor --
BLACKWELL: You start every answer -- I don't care if I ask you what time it is, you say there is no collusion. That is not an answer because the investigation is not done. Can we focus on Cohen --
KINGSTON: OK. But I just want to say a year and a half now into the investigation no proof of collusion which has been pointed out by many attorneys as not a crime to begin with. So now we are going after Michael Cohen for criminal investigation which means he may have been doing something with medallions for taxi cabs which was part of his business that was illegal.
I would be worried if somebody raided my personal attorney just because you don't know what kind of records are in there of anybody and so I think there is a heavy handed tactic here that does put at risk the attorney-client relationship which is historically been protected in America. To me it almost looks like a more of a witch hunt going on.
Not certain but I'd say that anytime you look for one thing you could find another and that gives people uncertainty.
BLACKWELL: Errol, let's take personal and attorney and examine both of those, because personal, the judge asked on Friday for Mr. Cohen's attorneys to point a name of any other client. They didn't have an answer to that so by 10:00 a.m. they have to produce that list.
And attorney, we have learned that there was a secret warrant before the raid on Monday. Investigators seized emails from several of his email accounts and prosecutors say they found that he was doing little to no real legal work. The significance there.
LOUIS: That's right. The significance of that is that Michael Cohen is an independent player. He is a very wealthy man.
He has got business interests internationally. He owns a whole bunch of real estate. He has got those taxi medallions which are permission to pick up folks here. Each medallion at on point worth over a million dollars and he allegedly had at least business interests that involved hundreds of them.
He is a very wealthy man. He's an independent player. To the extent that he has said publicly that he acted without the president's knowledge.
Not as his attorney but as a friend, as a fixer. As something.
He may have run afoul of some campaign finance laws. He may have, in fact, done a bunch of stuff that needed to be recorded as benefiting the president or benefiting the campaign.
There are other inconsistencies in some of his independent business work as well where he is making these deals and he is doing it on Trump organization letterhead. So in that case, is he working for the president? Who is the client? Is there a client?
All of that stuff has to get straightened out. And I think the judge was right to really press this person to come forward and explain exactly who he was and why he was doing what he did.
BLACKWELL: So, Jack, we know that part of this investigation focuses on possible bank fraud, possible wire fraud, possible campaign finance violations. We know that there could be significant time associated with at least a couple of those.
If the pressure builds, we have talked about this legendary loyalty, do you think that Michael Cohen would flip?
KINGSTON: I don't think that he would flip and I don't think there is anything to flip about. That would be, you know, kind of implying that the president is guilty of something of which I don't think he is.
I think that Michael Cohen, as Errol has pointed out very accurately he is a man with lots of business interests, somewhat of a wheeler and a dealer of things and I don't mean that in a derogatory sense but the guy has got a lot of plates that he's spinning in the air. And I think when you're kind of living in that world where there is international transactions, there are taxes, there are banks --
BLACKWELL: Non-disclosure agreements.
KINGSTON: -- then you can't trip up on something and it can't come back to haunt you.
So I think it's just going to all have to be unraveled. But I don't think -- I think for the president, there is more -- could be more embarrassment than anything that is illegal.
BLACKWELL: OK. So let's talk about this new "Washington Post/ABC News" poll that's out this morning checking the pulse of the approval rating for the president, 40 percent according to the new poll the respondents approve of the job the president is doing, 56 percent disapprove. But I want to skip to the next number here.
First with you, Congressman, 68 percent of women who responded to this poll personally disapprove of the president. Do you think there is an effect -- cause and effect here? The reporting on Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and the responses to those women, and this number?
KINGSTON: I think that there probably is. I'm not sure that -- I'd really have to get into the poll to figure out, OK, what is it that you need to do and to -- to try to move the numbers around?
I think that all politicians need to be sensitive to what we call the she issue, security, health, and education. And I think the president, like any other politician, could do more to address those issues.
And I think on the rising cost of health care, the availability of it, education, making sure our schools are teaching kids and that they are safe, I think all of that has to be addressed by Washington and you don't see a lot of movement on that -- on the legislative or the executive branch not as much as I think people would like to see.
BLACKWELL: So, Errol -- a good point. I'm glad you brought up policy because we haven't talked about policy in a while. But, Errol, to you. We saw in the 2016 election at least that voters really don't have to like the candidate they're voting for. They just have to dislike the opponent more.
We know President Trump is not on the ballot in 2018. What does this mean for Republicans who are potentially?
LOUIS: Yes. It's a real head wind in the face of everybody running under the president's banner, whether they are -- mostly Republican, obviously, but some Democrats as well. If you want to be associated with Trump supporters and you've got this 68 percent kind of personal dislike number hanging over the elections, it's really going to be very tough.
This is partly why I think you see a lot of folks dropping out. It's why the Democrats feel energized, feel like they can go straight to women voters, maybe take advantage of this awakening that's going on around the country, around the #MeToo movement and try to really sort of use Donald Trump frankly at his terrible deplorable personal behavior and image, to try and score some political points. And it may seem a little bit unfair to sort of hold your local Congress person accountable for the past bad behavior of the president, but not everything in politics is fair.
BLACKWELL: Finally, as we look ahead to what is happening tomorrow, Michael Avenatti says his client, Stormy Daniels, there's a possibility that she will be in court there for that hearing with Michael Cohen.
Any expectation, Jack, that -- that will have any real impact or is this that just Avenatti taking advantage of cameras?
KINGSTON: I think Avenatti is enjoying this circus. I hope that he (INAUDIBLE) might get served by James Comey. But Stormy Daniels, James Comey, Michael Avenatti they are all peas in the pod as far as the American people are concerned. They are worried about jobs. They're worried about Syria. They're worried about. They're worried about national security and terrorism and the president if focusing on that and not the Stormy Daniels of the world.
BLACKWELL: All right. I guess we could check the president's Twitter account and see the last 10 tweets what he is focused on.
KINGSTON: And his actions (ph).
BLACKWELL: All right. Errol, Jack, thank you both.
KINGSTON: Thanks a lot.
LOUIS: Thank you, Victor.
PAUL: They were just talking about Michael Cohen there. He showed up, in a sense, on "Saturday Night Live" last night and there was one big named star who got called in to play him. We will share that with you in a moment. Stay close.
BLACKWELL: Coming up this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" Jake Tapper talks with Stormy Daniels lawyer, Michael Avenatti, plus, Senator Angus King and former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara. That's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
PAUL: All right. With Ben Stiller -- yes, Ben Stiller on SNL last night doing his Michael Cohen impression.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Here he is as President Trump's personal lawyer joining the cast. Takes on Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYA RUDOLF, ACTRESS: Excuse me, Mr. Sessions.
KATE MCKINNON AS ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: Oh, no. Are they here for us? I'll go peacefully.
RUDOLF: No. It's not the police. The president's lawyer Michael Cohen is here to see you.
MCKINNON: Oh, family. Yes. By all means, send him in.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BEN STILLER AS MICHAEL COHEN: Hi. How are you doing?
Yes, that's right. It's Michael Cohen, attorney-at-law. And also sometimes not at law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)