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Report: Trump Lawyers Demand All Evidence from Cohen's Tenure; Jackson Mess Focuses on Frustration Due to Poor Vetting; Supreme Court Hears Travel Ban Arguments. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 25, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. You are watching CNN on this Wednesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
We have some breaking news off the top on those FBI raids of the president's personal attorney and long-time fixer, Michael Cohen. Here's what we have got for you. A judge had given all parties today to submit letters describing how they intend to review all the evidence that they seized in his hotel room and office to see if it violates attorney/client privilege. And so, Kara Scannell is with us with the breaking details. Obviously, this was all about attorney/client privilege what was protected. They want their hands on it first. Walk me through what the judge said.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: The judge set a hearing for tomorrow where she wants an update from the government on exactly where they are in this process of making copies they will ultimately give to Cohen's attorneys for their review. And then Cohen's attorneys will provide anything that is relevant to the Trump Organization and Donald Trump for their review. This all goes around the issue of privilege, which is really critical here.
That's kind of the thrust of what the judge is focusing on. We are expecting letters today to come in from all the parties explaining what they are looking at in terms of privilege/ The first letter so far came from the Trump Organization where they're saying they have abundant resources to review the documents they'll ultimately get and that they've set aside three lawyers from their external law firm and five lawyers from the Trump Organization. This is all to say we have enough people here to go through this process, isolate what we believe is covered by attorney/client privilege and get this process moving.
BALDWIN: And there is this whole entire process and we have no idea how long it takes to finally get the OK on which documents, electronics et cetera can be looked at in this investigation involving Michael Cohen?
SCANNELL: The judge will decide whether she let's a government team called the taint team separate from the investigation look at the documents that are ultimately provided to the prosecution or if she creates a special master. And so, we will hear more about that in court.
BALDWIN: OK, Kara, thank you. Nice to meet you. Welcome to the team, by the way.
Minutes from now the White House briefing is set to begin as questions about the qualifications of President Trump's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs will not stop. And CNN has new details about allegations of impropriety against Dr. Ronny Jackson. Including that he allegedly overprescribed sleeping medications and that he was drunk on the job.
Expect to see a lot of pushback from the briefing room podium today. The White House vehemently defending Jackson just one day after the president tried to give him an out from going through this whole process to become the next V.A. secretary at all. The president said the decision was Dr. Jackson's to make. And some in the White House say some insistence on the military doctor led to a less thorough vetting process. Jackson denies any of these accusations facing him and today multiple White House official said his confirmation should indeed go forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: Will be making the request to Chairman Isakson that he get his hearing. I think they want to make sure that they look at the latest allegations that came forward. We think that Dr. Jackson is a great American patriot.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's a very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and in the medical community. That's something that we strongly feel that veterans need.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We're not going to write him off in any way before his hearing and, quite frankly, neither should members of congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What specifically is Jackson accused of? CNN politics senior writer Juana Summers it is with me now with some of the details involving one incident that forced Secret Service to actually step in, so he wouldn't wake up a sleeping president. What are they alleging?
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Hey Brooke, that is exactly right. Members of the Senate Veterans committee dealing with a slew of allegations against Ronny Jackson. We are reporting one specific one. I've spoken with four sources, including one with direct knowledge of this incident. It dates back to 2015 on an overseas trip. Our sources tell us Ronny Jackson traveling on this trip went to a female employee's hotel room door was banging on the door loudly. This loud, drunken behavior got the attention of the Secret service. Because they were concerned that Jackson's behavior would waken then-President Barack Obama.
And here is what else we are learning. That this incident was brought up the chain of command and that Senator John Tester, the top Democrat on the Veterans Committee, he is aware of this allegation. It's really important to note that there are -- that this committee is hearing for more than 20 members of the military, bringing allegations, including this one and the committee is working to corroborate whether or not these claims are true or not.
[14:05:00] There's not a lot of documentation. Still trying to learn what's true and what isn't. One of the things I did ask one of the former members of the White House medical unit that work with Jackson, people travel back and forth, they might have a drink. Why does it matter if he's drinking? That source telling me it goes to judgment. This is a job you're called on call 24/7. You can't be drinking if you're responsible for taking care of president and his staff.
BALDWIN: Why are these allegations coming to light just now? Jackson became a White House physician in 2006 under the bush White House he was officially appointed presidential official under President Obama in 2013. Listen to this rave review from former President Obama of Dr. Jackson the following year. Quote, Ronny's positive impact cannot be understated. He is a tremendous asset to the entire White House team, already at a level of performance and responsibility that far exceeds his current rank, promote to rear admiral there. Let's go to Jim Acosta, who is waiting for that briefing to get rolling. Jim, how did these allegations not come to light before?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think part of that is because the president liked what he saw when Dr. Ronny Jackson came in to that briefing here in the White House and told reporters that the president was in excellent health. You will remember Dr. Jackson talking about the president's genes that if he were eating healthier and doing more exercise, he could live to be 200 years old.
The president liked that and that's why he tapped Ronny Jackson to run the Veterans Affairs Administration department. But as you heard yesterday Brooke the president himself acknowledged at that press conference with the French President Macron that Dr. Jackson has an experience issue that he lacks some of the experience necessary to run the VA. That was a pretty startling admission from the president of the United States.
If you put aside all of the allegations that have surfaced in the last 48 hours, you can't escape the fact that there are lingering questions, something he's going to have to answer to if that hearing is rescheduled. We reported last night that the White House is seeking to reschedule that hearing for Dr. Ronny Jackson. Brooke, the question at this point is just how hard Republicans will fight for this nomination. Obviously, the White House is fighting for this nomination. They're saying these allegations facing dr. Jackson are outrageous, that they are defaming somebody they consider to be a true patriot. I've heard from various officials that Dr. Jackson is not only a member of the military himself, but family members of his are in the military. So, they're really circling the wagons around Dr. Jackson and trying to get his nomination at a critical position. It's a question of whether or not the Republicans have the appetite on capitol hill to put up with this given all of the or ethical questions that have been facing other cabinet members. People on capitol hill have had it up to here with a lot of these ethical questions and they don't want another nomination story to deal with.
BALDWIN: We'll see how Sarah Sanders defends him presumably again today. Let me ask you about John Bolton, how he's wanting a big shake up?
ACOSTA: We've been reporting some of these various departures we've seen in the national security staff since the arrival of the new national security adviser john bolt on. We understand he fired off a three-paragraph memo that basically said he's reorganizing the staff there and essentially gave the employees no advanced notice, he was not taking any input according to a senior administration official who told CNN about the existence of this memo. So, it seems according to this official that more departures in the national security team are on the way. Keep in mind, Brooke, obviously John Bolton will want to have his on team there. Nobody is saying he shouldn't have his own team but there are a lot of very pressing national security issues on the front burner route night now, like the looming talks the president wants with Kim Jong un and the president was threatening to -- he sounded open to a new Iran deal. If Bolton is going to reshuffle the staff over there, he's going to have to do it quickly.
[14:10:00] BALDWIN: We'll look for you and your front row seat at the briefing. As we wait for the briefing to start, we have breaking news from the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices today hearing the case of the president's travel ban and we are now hearing the audio of what happened, including why the swing vote appears to back the president's case. Case of the president's travel ban, and we are now hearing the audio of what happened, including why the swing vote appears to back the president's case. Plus, despite their kind of touchy, feely friendship on display, President Macron calling out many of the president's policies when he spoke to Congress. Here what he said. You're watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Breaking news today out of the United States Supreme Court where the president's controversial travel ban finally made its way to the highest court in the land. They heard arguments over the third version of the ban, it place as ban on certainly travelers from North Korea and Venezuela. One of the key questions today, whether the president's campaign rhetoric about Muslims entering this country should factor into the legality of the policy. I'm going to play some sound. This a hypothetical scenario from Justice Elena Kagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: This is a hypothetical you've heard a variant of before. Say at a future time a president gets elected who is a vehement anti-Semite, says all kind of denigrating comments about Jews and provokes a lot of hatred over the campaign and his presidency. And in the course of that asks his staff or his cabinet members to issue recommendations so that he can issue a proclamation of this kind and they dot all the I's and cross all the T's and what emerges and again in the context of this virulent anti- Semitism, what emerges is a proclamation that says no one shall enter from Israel. This is an out of the box kind of president in my hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: I have CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider, who was in front of the court much of the day and CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic who was inside that beautiful court. Joan, I want to begin with you. You have covered this court for a long time. Sitting in there today, what were your biggest takeaways?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's a great question. We had two types of question there. We had these extreme hypotheticals that your listeners heard. Wasn't it great to hear Elena's voice. We hear her spinning what she acknowledged is an extreme hypothetical and Chief Justice John Roberts with an extreme hypothetical from the other end about a Syrian attack and would the president be able to do anything about it. But then you had questions that really got to the nitty-gritty of the legality, which I think will really matter. So, I was listening to where was Justice Kennedy, where was even Justice Breyer who voted with Elena Kagan and joined with the conservatives to let this go back into effect in December.
I think we're going to see a pretty ideological vote here, but we may have just Breyer show more sympathy to president Trump than we might have thought before. Listening to Justice Kennedy and so many of his questions went to where are the safeguards if there's an individual who really can claim discrimination and this travel order, who has an individual case to make? And the government's top lawyer said in specific instances, there can be exemptions. Justice Breyer asked about that, too. But when Justice Kennedy was asking more broadly about it, he seemed very sympathetic about where the government was going.
You're listening to how the questions are formulated to determine who might obviously challenger the travel ban, maybe Kennedy, maybe the chief justice swing more to the side of the four liberal justices. Even based upon questions that's not necessarily an indicator of how they may vote in the end, correct?
BISKUPIC: Well, a couple things there, Brooke. Under normal circumstances, you sometimes do get devil advocate questions. I didn't think that anybody was really throwing anything out there too misleading, although I have to say Elena Kagan asked this fabulous hypothetical that's going to get attention, rightfully so. [14:20:00] But she also asked questions down in the weeds to the cha
challenge challenger's lawyer to say what can you bring to the table that to show that this order conflicts where congress was. You have to listen to not just ones that are ear catching but also ones that might reveal their hand. I would say that -- to tell you the truth, what I'm expecting in June is a vote to uphold. But that's just my impression and --
BALDWIN: Forgive me. We'll listen for that decision to come sometime in June. Let's pivot to the White House.
SANDERS: -- in full engagement in the planning helped highlight and showcase the special relationship between United States and France our oldest ally.
President Trump and President Macron also had a number of important conversations on critical issues facing each nation at home and abroad. As the president said yesterday, the future between the United States and France has never looked brighter. Tomorrow the administration will be participating in the 25th
anniversary of take our daughters and sons to work day. The president looks forward to welcoming many of your children and the children of those who work here at the White House. As a reminder, this Saturday is national prescription take-back day. Across the country many businesses, medical offices, state, local and tribal governments and first responders will host drop-off events where Americans can safely dispose of unused medication.
Disposing of unused pills can prevent the misuse of commonly prescribed opioids. During the last national takeback day in October, Americans disposed of a record breaking 900,000 pounds of prescription pills. The Trump administration encourages everyone to take part. For more details, visit takeback day.dea.gov to find your local collection site and learn how to safely dispose of prescription medication. With that I'll take your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I asked the president yesterday about the allegations that Dr. Ronny Jackson is facing. There are more allegations that have been leveled at him in the last 24 hours, one that might involve an alleged HIPA violation. Do you have anything more on the allegations against Jackson? Is the White House saying anything about it?
SANDERS: Dr. Jackson's record as a White House physician has been impeccable. In fact, because he's worked within arm's reach of three presidents, he has received more vetting of most nominees. Given his unique position of trust and responsibility, his background and character were evaluated during three different administrations. Dr. Jackson has what at least four independent background investigations conducted during his time at the White House, including an FBI investigation conducted as part of the standard nomination vetting process. During each of those investigations, dr. Jackson received unanimous praise from dozens of witnesses and the investigations revealed no area of concern. Dr. Jackson has received glowing evaluations from his superiors, including several from president Obama, which said that Dr. Jackson should continue to promote ahead of his peers and already at a level of performance and responsibility that exceeds his current rank.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about some of these allegations about overprescribing, the other one I just mentioned a moment ago.
SANDERS: I think it makes it very clear in terms of very thorough investigation and vetting process has taken place.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Despite what you just said, is the White House doing any additional looking into Dr. Jackson's background in light of the allegations?
SANDERS: There's been a pretty thorough vetting process done by the FBI as well as three other independent investigations, but that's part of what the nomination process of Congress should do and what it's supposed to look like and why they should move forward with a hearing. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Since the White House and the president are
standing behind him, will you ask the Senate Veteran's Committee to reschedule his nomination?
SANDERS: We're continuing to work with members on the hill.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it the position of the administration that the people who have raised these allegations are lying?
SANDERS: That's not what I said. I said we've done multiple background checks have taken place and we're continuing to look at the situation.
[14:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you not find them credible? These allegations that suggest political motivation behind them.
SANDERS: I can only speak to some of the personal accounts that some of those of us have as well as the records that we have that are substantiated through a very detailed and thorough background investigation process.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, on North Korea, during the state of the union address the president described the North Korean -- sent Otto Warmbier back half dead. How do you reconcile those two assessments of the leader and the regime in North Korea?
SANDERS: The president's referencing the conversations that we've had ongoing over the last month or so in regards to the meeting to take place and their willingness to denuclearize on the peninsula.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He's changed his appraisal of Kim Jong un?
SANDERS: Certainly not that but he wants to have the ability to sit down and have these conversations and in that process, they have been open with their willingness to denuclearize and that's certainly been the focus and what we have been pushing for and expect to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He thinks the regime has changed?
SANDERS: We think the maximum pressure campaign is working but we're not going to let up on that campaign until we see some of the words they've made go into concrete action but they're moving in the right direction. John?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I wanted to get your reaction to the ruling that came down from a federal district court judge here in Washington concerning DACA. He said the president's decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious, the third federal judge to rule against the president on DACA.
SANDERS: The DACA program violates federal law. President Obama went around congress and created the program. We believe the judges' ruling is broad and wrong. It creates youth to come here and expect similar judicial policies for them. It's time for congress to do what the president has called on them to do and offer to be part of and actually fix this problem. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it still the main argument by the
administration that the reason why it was necessary to cut off the DACA program was because of the threat of lawsuits by Republican attorneys general?
SANDERS: That was certainly a big part of us knowing that this is an illegal program and something that congress has the ability to actually create laws and they have to be part of this process and fib and fix this problem.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'd like to ask you about the drop for the ranking in the United States and the world press freedom index, the United States now down to 45 and according to reporters without borders, much of the blame for that goes to the president for his attacks on the media. What's the reaction of the White House and does it accept that the president's comments have denigrated freedom of the press in the United States?
SANDERS: Certainly, would not -- would reject the idea that the president or this administration has halted freedom of the press. Think we're one of the most accessible administrations that we've seen in decades. I think by my mere presence of standing up here and taking your questions unvetted is a pretty good example of freedom of the press and I think it's ridiculous to say otherwise.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Two questions. Yesterday there was some scuttlebutt late in the afternoon that no Democrats were invited to the dinner last night. And then later a check of the list showed that there were at least four Democrats invited. However, the accurate report was there were no congressional Democrats invited. Now, going back to state dinners to when President Roosevelt hosted the king and queen of England in 1939 and invited potential opponents, there have always been congressional Democrats at state dinners. Why the exception last night?
SANDERS: Again, as you said, there were Democrats present at the dinner and the focus of this dinner was to keep it intimate and small and that's exactly what we did. There was a wide range of individuals that participated, and we think it was a great success and very proud of not just the dinner but the entire visit and certainly the relationship that we have with our great ally in France.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But no congressional Democrats. Was there any discussion of that in preparing the list?
SANDERS: Look, we talk to congressional Democrats all the time. We don't have to have dinner with them to have conversation with them. We'll continue to talk to them about policy-related issues. I think the fact that there were a number of Democrats that were present kind of negates the fact that it wasn't a bipartisan dinner. Charlie? Oh, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The proclamation the government signed regarding Armenia and Turkey. He used an Armenian word for catastrophe or atrocity but never used the word genocide in this resolution. Does the president believe in Armenian genocide? SANDERS: I haven't had a detailed conversation with him about that,
but I understand the resolution the president signed was consistent with past administrations as well. Charlie?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. Rap superstar Kanye West has been in the news for supporting the president and expressing admiration for the president --