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Trump: Trump defends Cohen after NYT report; "Smallville" Actress Charged in Sex Cult Case; Romney Not Committing to Support Trump in a 2020 Bid. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 21, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Will the fixer flip? The "New York Times" report that President Trump long time lawyer Michael Cohen could turn on him to avoid potential jail time. Has the President pushing back on Twitter. The President slamming the paper before tweeting this, "Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer, who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"

It was nearly two weeks ago now the federal agents raided Cohen's office, his home, his hotel room and sees documents including ones related to the hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels. The porn star claiming she had an affair with Trump.

According to the New York Times, Trump's lawyers and adviser resign now to the possibility that Cohen, who has a wife and two children and facing mounting legal fees could end up cooperating with investigators despite showing Trump unflinching loyalty in the past.

I want to bring in CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez, who is live in the West Palm Beach this evening near the President's Mar- a-Lago. Boris, in the past Cohen has gone so far as to say he would take a bullet for Trump but it hasn't exactly been a two way street.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Ana, especially if you believe this report from the New York Times published yesterday, authored by Maggie Haberman, who as you know the President attacked on Twitter earlier today. That report cites six different sources that indicated that historically the President has not treated his personal attorney well. At one point, Haberman describing the relationship as that to an owner to -- that mistreats their dog.

I want to read you now two quotes from people close to the President talking about his relationship with Michael Cohen. The first coming from Roger Stone, a long time Trump campaign -- an aid, he apparently told the New York Times, "Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage."

Now I actually chatted with Roger Stone earlier today and asked him to expand on this "New York Times" piece. He would not -- he actually said that he did not believe that the President's tweets had anything to do with him.

A second source from the story is Sam Nunberg, a former aid to President Trump. Listen to this quote, he told the "New York Times," "Whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflective response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael."

One last note on -- in those tweets, the President indicated something about a drinker or drug user being part of the story. We've asked the White House to clarify specifically who the President was talking about, but they have yet to get back to us. Ana?

CABRERA: Boris, within the same New Times reports, they mentioned that Cohen attempted to apologizing to the First Lady, what more can you tell us about it?

SANCHEZ: Yes. That's an interesting piece of this puzzle. Apparently, during a trip to Mar-a-Lago that Michael Cohen took earlier this year, he tried to approach First Lady Melania Trump to apologize for some of the negative headlines that have been coming out about the President's allege affair with Stormy Daniels.

We don't have any indication to exactly how that conversation went over whether the First Lady was receptive to Michael Cohen, but it is note worthy in the since that even as Michael Cohen has apparently attempted to defend the President before, remember that he alleges that the President knew nothing about his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. He seems to inflict sort of pain on the President and that is reflects in some of the comments that we've seen from sources as they discuss Cohen's sort of shortcomings in trying to help President Trump. Ana

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez for us in West Palm Beach. Thank you, Boris.

Lawyer Michael Cohen has been fiercely loyal to President Trump but at what point does legal jeopardy outweigh loyalty. CNN Legal Analyst Richard Ben-Veniste is joining us now. He is a former Watergate Special Prosecutor.

Richard, good to see you tonight.

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Ana.

CABRERA: The President said he doesn't think Cohen will flip to save himself. What do think, what factors might determine that?

BEN-VENISTE: I don't know. It is odd to hear the President of the United States sounding like Tony Soprano talking about his lawyer flipping. The question is, whether if asked to give testimony, whether Mr. Cohen will assert a 5th Amendment privilege, which is his right to do or whether he will give testimony truthfully. Not a question if whether he will make up anything to harm President Trump. That's just one more bizarre thing added to the mix.

CABRERA: President Trump's former divorce lawyer said the President called him for advice. Jay Goldberg said, he warned the President that Michael Cohen could end up cooperating. But he says, his fear is that Cohen might lie to prosecutors, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:05:00] JAY GOLDBERG, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I didn't accept the notion of flip, flip means to me, that when faced with the potential of spending time in jail, he will tell the truth. I don't think that's what the President was concerned about. And that's not what I'm concerned about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So Richard, you sort of say this idea of him not telling the truth is silly to even -- and even go there. Why do you think that?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, they are bringing it up. Mueller and his team aren't about this perjury and false testimony from Mr. Cohen or anybody else. What Jay Goldberg said is correct. When somebody decides to cooperate with the government, giving up his 5th Amendment privilege, if he has one, that means cooperating truthfully and there are many ways to ensure that a cooperating witness does that.

CABRERA: Having had experience on another special counsel investigation, I want to get your take on this other tweet from the President today about Comey and the special council looking into the Russia election meddling. He essentially claims Bob Mueller's investigation stemmed from a classified leaked that is pointing to the Comey memos. Does the President have a point and what does it mean for the future of Mueller investigation?

BEN-VENISTE: I don't think so. I think the material that is in the memos seems to be not protected by any classified designation. But we'll see. The Department of Justice and inspector general will take a look at that and we will see. By in large, this is another diversion and the question is whether there was an attempt to obstruct justice among other things that are under investigation at this moment.

CABRERA: Let me just follow up on that, though because Comey, himself has said to our Jake Tapper he does remembers writing some classified information in his memos and now that we've all had a chance to look at them, even though there are reductions in them, we've learned four of these memos did end up with a classified designation of some sort whether it's confidential, secret or top-secret. That of course is a little bit where it gets confusing and when they were designated classified, if it was after the fact or before. And there is also Wall Street Journal reporting that two of the memos that were given to this professor at Columbia Law School in fact did have some classified information in them although Comey may have done some reductions fired, giving it to him. So it still seems posy there what if this I.G. reports comes back and says, there was classified information that got distributed?

BEN-VENISTE: Then Mr. Comey will be properly sanctioned. And that is something to be determined. But before we start hypothesizing about classified information, we can take a look at it and use our own common sense and see whether there's anything that appears to be classified in the material that's been released.

What I think it does is reinforces Mr. Comey's prior testimony, which is entirely consistent as far as I can see with what is in the memo. So if in fact, he were to be called at some later date in the trial, those memos would probably be admissible if his credibility were under attack, has prior recollection recorded very contemporaneously. So I think this is a lot about nothing, once again.

What is interesting to me about the memos is that the President was so fixated on the allegations of having attended a -- some sort of debauchery while he was in Russia. And the thing that -- two things that strike me are, first, that apparently, the President said to Mr. Comey that he didn't spend the night. Well, we know that's not true. Even the President's body guard has refuted that notion.

And secondly, his immediate reaction was this couldn't be true because I'm a germaphobe. Well, he was a reputation of being a germaphobe for not shaking hands with strangers on the campaign trail. On the other hand, according to the two women who have acknowledged having an extramarital affair with the President, he had unprotected sex with them. And so that seems to put in a different light the idea of being a germaphobe as a defense of having participated in the activity that was described in the dossier.

[21:10:12] CABRERA: What the President refers to in the memos as the golden showers thing.

BEN-VENISTE: Yes.

CABRERA: Richard Ben-Veniste, it is great to have you on with us. Thank you very much for your insight and expertise.

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: So now you've heard what James Comey has had to say in this memos and his book tour. But it's time for you to ask questions, tune in Wednesday for the live Town Hall with the Former FBI Director, Anderson Cooper moderate, live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up President Trump may be supporting Mitt Romney's run for Senate but moments ago in Utah, the former outspoken critic that the President was far less enthusiastic about a Trump 2020 campaign. We'll explain.

Plus, she played superman's friend on the TV show "Smallville" did this actor also have a secret role? Luring women into a sex cult? The scandal rocking Hollywood.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:12] CABRERA: We are getting some breaking news out of the political world right now. It involves former presidential candidate and current Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney. CNN National Political Reporter Maeve Reston is on the phone with us.

Maeve, I understand you just interviewed Romney, what did he say? MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (via telephone): So it is very interesting convention here in Utah and I had a chance to sit down with Mitt Romney where he said that he could not yet commit to supporting Donald Trump's Presidential campaign in 2020, essentially making it clear that he really intends to be an independent voice for Utah. He said that he will make that decision down the road about whether he supports Trump's campaign and said that as a person of political experience, if I endorse someone, "I want to know what it is in it for Utah and what help he would provide for us on key priorities in Utah."

So this is kind of a trend that we're seeing among a number of Republican lawmakers in Congress. And now, you know, really prominent candidates like Romney who, are saying they are not yet ready to get behind Trump. And it is kind of a very unusual obviously for that to be the case. So within the Republican Party, usually the support for -- Republican president would be automatic. Ana.

CABRERA: We're looking at all of these pictures of the President and Mitt Romney. They have quite the history in the past year and a half or so since the campaign and just a couple of months ago. The President backed Romney in his quest to be the next senator for Utah, tweeting, "Mitt Romney has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to Orrin Hatch, and has my full support and endorsement!"

And Romney replied, "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I can also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah." So -- I mean, they seem to have this good will going there, what happened?

RESTON: Well, I mean, it's a -- I think there's been an uneasy truth there for a long time. I want to make it clear that in the interview today that Governor Romney said that he does expects Trump to be the Nominee at the Republican Party in 2020 but again it would not commit.

But as you know, he was one of the harshest critics of candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. He criticized his tone on immigration and also his comments -- Trump's comments about women.

And here in Utah, you have to remember that Donald Trump is much less popular than he is and other strong Republican states around the country. People here do not like Trump's position on immigration. They're much more moderate on that. And obviously you have a huge population of volunteer (ph) and they don't like the tone that Donald Trump has taken in the Oval Office.

CABRERA: Just this week as you mentioned, we have this reporting our Manu Raju asking more than a dozen of GOP senators whether they are ready to back Trump in 2020. Most of them would not commit yet at least not yet. Among them, less than four of the senators Cornyn, Collins, Alexander, Sanford, Kensinger, Kennedy, Thune and others, what does it say about the state of the Republican Party under President Trump?

RESTON: Well, I think it means we're going to have an interesting 2020. Certainly, there will be challengers to emerge to the President and there are just a lot of Republicans that you talk to around the country right now who are just not sure about President Trump and would like to see someone else in that office.

CABRERA: Which is interesting when you look at the recent polling and 85 percent-plus Republicans still say among those voters they do support President Trump. Maeve Reston, thank you very much for your reporting.

And coming up, she played Clark Kent's friend in the hit show "Smallville." How did this actress now get involved in an alleged sex cult? The shocking charges against her, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:23:37] CABRERA: Sad news today from the entertainment world about a man who made an enormous impact on the Austin powers movies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accept one-eight, your son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breathtaking. I shall call him, Mini-Me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Actor Verne Troyer has died. He appeared in nearly 60 films and TV shows but his most memorable role was that a doctor evil's Mini-Me.

At 2 feet 8, Verne Troyer was one of the shortest people in the world and no word on how he died. But the official statement announcing it made a point to mention that depression and suicide are serious issues and we just heard from his friend and co-star Mike Myers. He says, "Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him. It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed."

Verne Troyer was 49 years old.

An actress best known for her role in the TV series "Smallville" is now part of federal trafficking indictment, a sex trafficking indictment, Allison Mack played Clark Kent's best friend for 10 years on the C.W. show about the earlier of superman.

Well, now the Justice Department accuses Mack of forcing at least two women to have sex with the leader of the controversial group, which former members now describe as a cult. CNN Polo Sandoval tells us more about this so called cult and Mack's role in it.

[21:25:13] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Under the group claimed to be a female mentorship group but the details that we've found in this federal indictment show that it also had a dark side according to federal authorities. And before we break down this document of reporting, some of the details can be disturbing for young viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Federal prosecutors indicting Allison Mack on sex trafficking charges Friday. The actress best known for her role on the C.W. series "Smallville" is accused of recruiting women to join a sex cult, according to federal prosecutors. Mack recruited women under false pretenses to perform sexual acts for Keith Raniere, the group's leader and sole male member of a secret group within Nxivm.

STANLEY ZAREFF, FRIEND OF ONE VICTIM'S FAMILY: She is dangerous. She is sick. She is evil. She is dark and she has done harm to many people. Imagine having your initials burned into a woman's body. That's happened.

SANDOVAL: Raniere has also been indicted on sex trafficking charges. Both he and Mack face claims that many so-called slaves were branded on their pelvic areas with Raniere's initials. Mack and Raniere have pleaded not guilty. On its website, Nxivm reports to be a self-help program providing quote "an ethical humanitarian civilization."

In a statement, Nxivm defended their founder. We're currently working with the authorities to demonstrate his innocence and true character. We strongly believe the justice system will prevail in bringing the truth to light. If convicted, both Mack and Raniere face at least 15 years in prison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: Federal investigators say that the women who participated in this group were forced to hand over collateral, things like nude photographs and information on their family. That would then be used against them if they did not comply with orders. Ana.

CABRERA: Strange story. Polo Sandoval, thank you.

Coming up here in the Newsroom, President Trump conflicting claims about talking to Vladimir Putin. When was the first phone call and did it include talk of Russian prostitutes?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:31:28] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A magician never reveals his secrets unless of course a judge says otherwise. This week, a judge forced fame illusionist David Copperfield to explain one of his signature Vegas tricks, after an audience member who got hurt sued.

First, here's the back story. Copperfield has been performing the trick known as the vanishing crowd or Lucky 13 for about 10 years participants picked at random, place in a cage that hovers over the stage and then abracadabra. They disappear and then reappear in the back of the room.

Well, now, because of court testimony we know what really happens. Those audience members are rushed through secret passage ways and through a kitchen at the MGM Grand hotel so that they can pop up and surprise the audience. A man named Gavin Cox took part in this trick in 2013 and now he's -- he tripped back stage and he fell into a dark construction zone. He claims to have permanent brain damage because of it. And he suing, Copperfield, the hotel and three other companies connected to the show.

Let's talk it over with CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson. So Joey, here, Copperfield secret, his magic is out there now. Why did it get to the point of a trial? Why not just settle to it?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, that's a very good question because generally you figure for publicity and everything else because there's always the legal end of it, right, but then there's always the other end which is the public relation imperative to get things resolve. But at the end of the day it's about negligence, right? Negligence in the variety of slip and fall, apparently because of this Lucky 13, unfortunately Luck 12 in this instance --

CABRERA: Or unlucky 13.

JACKSON: Exactly. Because one of the parties as they're going through passage way, apparently they're saying slipped and fell. So you have the factual issue is to whether or not they actually did slip and fall as a result of what -- what was happening in that passage way. Was there construction? And did it impair the passage such that they would slip and it comes down to negligence, duty breach causation damages. You have a duty to keep a passage way safe, as a result of that, if you don't do it, right, causation and as a result of this -- they're saying dumpster or something else was there, it causes the injury, right, you breach your duty because you don't keep it safe, it results in an injury. You have a lawsuit.

CABRERA: You talk about negligence and --

JACKSON: Yes.

CABRERA: -- I'm wonder if it fits into what Copperfield says happen. He says he ran the course the night before. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said if there was an obstacle and problem in the way.

DAVID COPPERFIELD, MAGICIAN: I didn't do anything about it during my run around. I took a pass before, if I saw it --

They're not told in advance, every single move they make, they are instructed where to go.

COPPERFIELD: Mr. Copperfield, we are not going to get along if you keep doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Joey, what do you think of his answer? How he hold up?

JACKSON: You know, listen, it's cross examination. And so what generally happens in a trial you have what's called direct examination and that's where answers are softball question are given to the person that testifies, that's Copperfield, he talks about the trick, he talks about the safety of the passage, he talks about his track record and how in 10 years this has never happened before.

But then you get the defense attorney that's there, right, or the party that suing and say hey, listen, answer my questions in the way I want them answered. So he held up just fine. The issue is going to be whether did he breach or did anybody associated with his team beach.

When we go and watch these things and feel lucky enough to get called as a participant, you want to be safe. You want to be OK. It's about fun. It's not about injury. And so, he did anything that lead to this injury. There has to be accountability. So the open question is did he do enough to ensure the safety of the Lucky or as you say, unlucky 13.

[21:35:18] CABRERA: When it comes to somebody as famous as David Copperfield. How do you as the plaintiff's attorney prevent the fame from overpowering or overshadowing the case?

JACKSON: It's a great question. And, you know, it's difficult because you can do jury selection. And in jury selection which is when you're selected a jury, you ask questions. You know, look, this is about someone famous would that impair your ability to be fair. Is it OK you're not just going to say, hey, they're famous they would never do such as thing, right, even if you give us a damn court, if someone was injured you believe that is serious? In the event that this famous person did it, you're going to hold them accountable, right? And so, you get answers and depending upon the answer you seek that juror and jurors and just you just hope that they are fair, but there's always a, you know, celebrity factor.

CABRERA: It can work for you or against you.

JACKSON: Yes, that's very true.

CABRERA: Do you think he could turn around and argue that the courtroom revelations are now making him lose money.

JACKSON: You know, he certainly could but that's something that you have to consider going into it. So to the point how we began this discussion, why are we here? How did he get this far? Why is it on trial? There certainly is the ability to settle these cases. And, you know, not for anything but he is insured and the venue is insured, the parties associated with this entire event are insured, cut a check and let's move on.

The guy, you know, he says there's $400,000 in medical expenses. Not chump change. But these things happened that's why you have insurance to cover them. I'm surprised that they're exposing him to this. It's a problem. And it impairs other shows. I mean, you know, when you go to Vegas next time you might say, I'm going to watch the show but I'm going to sit in my seat, I'm not going to go on stage and go on the --

CABRERA: Hey, maybe it will bring more people to the show because they're like I know a little something, something about how it works. Let's see if I can figure out another trick. Thank you, Joey Jackson.

JACKSON: Any time.

CABRERA: Always good to see you.

JACKSON: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Well, Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer has made interesting announcement on the unofficial pot holiday 420 which was yesterday, of course. He announced he is proposing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Schumer is one of several top Democrats backing this legislation to decriminalize pot. Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, they're all supportive of this move.

Meantime in Colorado where marijuana has been legal for several years. Now there's a debate over whether marijuana is increasing crime in the state.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fort Collins ph has traditionally been a low-crime community.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is no fan of marijuana. Even the legal kind.

(on camera): You thought that legal marijuana would put the black market out of business?

JUSTIN SMITH, LARIMER COUNTY CO SHERIFF: That is one of the big promises is if you regulate it, you would get rid of the problems traditionally been there with the illegal grows. But it's been really the opposite.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The sheriff said legalization of recreational marijuana has not only fuelled the black market but also Colorado's crime rate. Since legal sales began in 2014, crime is up more than 5% and violent crime is up more than 12%. Smith thinks one reason is that legal marijuana is attracting a growing transient population that's more likely to commit crime.

(on camera): You're not arguing that you smoke a joint and you rob a bank?

SMITH: No, it's a not a causal thing. But we are seeing an association every third inmate in the jail is a transient and you go by and asked him most of the time we came here because of marijuana.

MCLEAN (voice-over): His frustration reached the boiling point last summer, when 23-year-old Helena Hoffmann's body was pulled out of this Fort Collins Lake. Police said she had been raped and murdered on her way home from work. She left behind a 4-year-old daughter name Mary now being raised alone by her father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember Mary looking at us and she goes, did my mom died and that's really what set in.

MCLEAN: The man convicted of Hoffmann's murder is Jeffrey Etheridge, who says he moved to Colorado with his then-girlfriend because his brother was working at a marijuana dispensary. At the time, Etheridge was a transient living out of the car. From jail he told us he pleaded guilty only to avoid the death penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, for real, I want justice. Not only just for me but for her family. The person is still out there.

MCLEAN: Smith is one of the few law enforcement leaders wiling to go on record linking legal marijuana to rising crime. That's because there's very little data to support his claim. Just as Denver police whose data shows overall crime in the city is only on the rise up almost 4% since legalization.

JAMES HENNING, DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT: Can you attribute that to marijuana? I don't think you can.

MCLEAN (on camera): The data doesn't show that.

HENNING: The data isn't there.

MCLEAN: If someone can said it's possible that legal marijuana is having an impact on boosting crime in the state of Colorado, would you tell them they are crazy?

HENNING: No, everything is possible. So, I just can't nail down, you know, and say definitively, one way or the other.

[21:40:10] MCLEAN (voice-over): In 2016, Denver's mayor blamed legalized marijuana for a series of violent incidents downtown, including involving a transient who just arrived in Denver swinging a PVC pipe at random bystanders on a crowded pedestrian mall.

Just steps away Governor John Hickenlooper was been a reluctant advocate of legal weed. Something he campaigned against. He's not convinced that pot has lead to more crime but he's also not sure that the opposite is true.

(on camera): Yo9u are not ruling out the possibility that there is a correlation between an increasing crime rate and legal marijuana.

GOV.JOHN HICKENLOOPER, COLORADO: Not ruling it out.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions tore up Obama era protections for marijuana friendly states like Colorado. Hickenlooper where has promised to defend Colorado's legal industry for now.

HICKENLOOPER: The political establishment is skeptical of marijuana legalization.

MCLEAN (on camera): But no one is saying that you can put the gene any in the bottle.

HICKENLOOPER: Not yet we aren't, but trust me, if the data was coming back and saw spikes in vital crime, we saw spikes in overall crime, there be a lot of people looking for that bottle, right? And figure how we get the genie back in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Again, CNN's Scott McLean reporting. Quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:45:44] CARBERA: Welcome back. Fired FBI director, James Comey recently released memos are prompting new questions about the nature of President Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin before Trump took office. Trump has made conflicting statements on this issue in the past. CNN Brian Todd has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his own words, before becoming president, Donald Trump either had a longstanding relationship with Vladimir Putin or had never met him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He could not have been nicer.

I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is.

TODD: But tonight there is a bizarre new twist in the odd years-old alleged bromance between the two men after James Comey's memos detailing his conversations with the president were released to Congress and leaked to the public.

In one, dated February 8th, 2017, Comey writes about what he perceived as the president's obsession with allegations that the Russians taped him with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. The president said the hookers thing is nonsense, Comey says, but that Putin told him we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. He did not say when Putin told him this, Comey notes.

The alleged comment by Trump about a conversation with Putin is attracting attention today because according to the Kremlin, Trump and Putin had only spoken to each other once, just 11 days earlier, on January 28th of last year. That was a phone call between the two leaders.

On Trump's end, Vice President Pence, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Michael Flynn were in the room. But neither the Kremlin nor the official White House readout of the call mentioned prostitutes being discussed. For years before he ran for president, Trump had repeatedly claimed to have met Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin, have you met this guy?

TRUMP: He's a tough guy. I met him once.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you met Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have?

TRUMP: One time, yes, a long time ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel --

TRUMP: Which was, by the way.

TODD: But later when he was running for president, Trump's story changed.

TRUMP: I've never met Putin. I have nothing to Putin. I've never spoken to him.

TODD: Biographers say with Trump embellishment and reality sometimes collide resulting in confusion. They say Trump's previous claims to have met with Putin may have referred to a meeting Trump wanted to have with the Russian president in 2013 when Trump hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Biographers say the meeting never happened, but Putin reportedly sent Trump a lacquered box as a gift. Then there was this.

TRUMP: I got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes." We were stablemates.

TODD: They were actually on different continents at the time.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Donald Trump sees these associations as being quite meaningful. So if he's on a TV show and a few minutes later someone else is on the same TV show, he might consider himself stablemates with that person.

TODD: But none of that, Trump watchers say, explains the alleged comment to Comey about discussing prostitutes with Putin. Putin did once mention in public the allure of Russian prostitutes about three weeks before that alleged Trump-Comey conversation when the Russian president dismissed the claim that Trump watched prostitutes urinate on each other in a Moscow hotel.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, (through translator): It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world.

TODD: Could Trump have simply embellished to say that Putin told him about Russian prostitutes? Could Trump have misremembered something, or did he really have this conversation with Putin?

REID WILSON, THE HILL: Donald Trump is somebody who likes to talk about his interactions with other famous people. It puts him on the same level as them in a number of instances before he became president of the United States. So it's not entirely clear whether or not this interaction ever happened.

TODD: Ana, according to James Comey's memo, the president denied at least three times being with Russian prostitutes. But now, Comey's memos are raising another bizarre question. Did Vladimir Putin ever talk to Trump about Russian prostitutes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That's the question. Brian Todd, thank you.

The White House did not respond to CNN's request for clarification on Putin's alleged comments to President Trump. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:54:16] CABRERA: On tonight's new episode of "Sex and Love Around the World", Christiane Amanpour visit Shanghai. A study where women are backing tradition to regain control of their love life.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): When I first came to Shanghai in the '70s, individuality was unthinkable. All these years later, I find the city is full of self- expression. Women have reclaimed control of their appearance, their sexuality, and how they use it.

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[21:55:19] AMANPOUR: In the world's most populous city, where social dynamics are always changing, and urban isolation is growing, many people retreat online for a personal connection.

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CABRERA: I recently sat down with Christiane to discuss tonight's episode.

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CABRERA: This week you're in Shanghai, China and you say women have made huge strives when it comes to women in business, empowered to really take control of their lives in a lot of fronts but when it comes to love and sex, not so much. Why the disparity?

AMANPOUR: Well, first of all, it was a communist state with very rigid controls around social interaction. I first went to China in 1978, to Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere. It was still heavily communist that none of the market economy experimentation, none of the flowering of what we see now.

And women there were all dressed in the same uniform. The little Mao green uniforms. They didn't -- they did not diverge from that. They wore no makeup, they road bicycles, there were no cars. That was it. And when I asked a woman in 1978, how about a little makeup or lipstick, no, no, no, we don't want to stand out.

I hadn't been back since 1978. So to be back in 2017 and see this unbelievable city that looks like a cross between Hong Kong, Manhattan and old world Shanghai was incredible but particularly because of the women because they, again, power that city.

There's an enormous amount of women power in Shanghai, partly because of so many, you know, girls who are empowered by their parents in the One Child Policy. Those who kept their girls and didn't get rid of their girl fetuses really poured everything they had into them. So, they created very assured, very educated, very, you know, very important segment of the female class.

Having said that, though, while they may be economically and educationally empowered, not sexually. There was no such thing as dating. There are -- we discovered new dating services, not apps, but actual clubs where there are trainers and teachers and coaches to teach you how to date. To teach you how to dress. To teach you what to say. To teach these very successful girls how not to intimidate the guys. I mean, you know, we have that issue in the west, right?

CABRERA: And I always think shouldn't you have a natural connection?

AMANPOUR: When there's no natural connection in a place that's never dated because they have always, always had arranged marriages. That's the paradigm of Chinese culture.

CABRERA: And so now there are women who want to choose their own spouses, who want to date. But is there a generational divide?

AMANPOUR: Yes, there is.

CABRERA: Are there still women whose parents want them to match make?

AMANPOUR: There are, there are, but less and less. There are. In fact, we do have an amazing scene. In fact we talked to this really popular television host, a woman, a transgender woman. And she has this amazing dating show. So like the most successful in China. You can imagine, we're talking about a potential hundreds of millions of viewers, not a couple of million here and there. Hundreds of millions of viewers.

But it's dating with a twist because the couples come on. It's the parents who choose who the daughter or the son should go off into the sons is set with --

CABRERA: To date.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So that's pretty funny. And then we went to a market or like a park on the weekend where the mothers are sitting in a row. Pairs of them in rows with upturned umbrellas. And in the umbrellas are flyers with all their kids' attributes. The kid is this age, the kid has this education, the kid makes much money, it's got this job women and boys. They are trying to match make for their kids in the park by handing out flyers about, you know, their kids' vital statistics in every -- CABRERA: Required.

AMANPOUR: Yes. It is -- honestly it was great. It's so amazing. But again, the whole younger generation is trying to change that and have love, sex, intimacy from their agency. You know what I mean? They being in charge of their destiny. And it's a work in progress. But it's fascinating to document.

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CABRERA: Before I hand off to Christiane, breaking news, Senate candidate Mitt Romney will have to run in a primary for the nomination to replace Utah senator Orrin Hatch. He came in second today in a second round of delegate voting. It is the same day Romney announced he's not ready to commit to supporting President Trump's re-election bid.

That's going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here. Up next, it's Sex and Love Around the World with Christiane Amanpour.