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White House Defends False Statements on Daniels Hush Money; Giuliani Makes Demands Regarding Trump Interview with Mueller; Sources: Trump Legal Team Felt Blindsided by Giuliani; Giuliani's Media Blitz Throws Trump Legal Team Into Disarray; Former Trump Aide Tells CNN About Mueller Team Interrogation; U.S. Seeks Detainees' Release As Sign Of Goodwill. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 3, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: -- were awarded the Medal of Honor and Orlando Bloom playing First Lieutenant Ben Keating, for whom the outpost was named. The film will begin shooting in August.

[17:00:08] That's it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, presidential payback. The White House is forced to defend its false statements and President Trump's about hush money paid to Stormy Daniels after new lawyer Rudy Giuliani drops multiple bombshells. Has Giuliani thrown Trump's legal team into disarray?

"We're not suckers." Giuliani blindsides the White House and accuses Special Counsel Robert Mueller of trying to trap President Trump in committing perjury. Will he let Mueller interview the president?

"Deadly accurate." A former Trump presidential campaign aide says after his interview with Robert Mueller's team, it's clear that investigators are focused on Russian collusion. Do they now know more about the Trump campaign than the people who ran it?

And speaking freely, Rudy Giuliani raises hope North Korea will soon release three Americans, but the White House says it actually can't confirm that. Does he have access to national security information?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The White House bombarded with questions about the bombshell interview by Rudy Giuliani, the newest member of President Trump's legal team. Press secretary Sarah Sanders was just forced to defend false statements that she and the president made about hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Giuliani blindsided the White House by revealing what the president knew about the deal and that the former New York mayor linked it to the 2016 election. The White House now saying that Mr. Trump eventually learned of the payment to Daniels.

We're going to talk about that and more with Congressman Ruben Gallego of the Armed Services Committee. And our reporters and experts are also standing by for us.

First let's go to the White House and CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. So Jim, it became very evident today during this briefly that they're facing a credibility crisis.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brianna. The White House was back on its heels today, with officials insisting that they were unaware that the president had reimbursed his attorney, Michael Cohen, for the money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels until that was revealed by one of Mr. Trump's other attorneys, Rudy Giuliani. Asked repeatedly whether the president and other officials here have been lying to the American people, the White House didn't have any answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What a day. What a beautiful day.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The skies were clear, but the storm clouds have returned for the president, who joined Christian conservatives for a national day of prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, why are you changing your story on Stormy Daniels?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.

ACOSTA: Just as the White House was scrambling to explain a bombshell revelation from Rudy Giuliani that Mr. Trump has repaid his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed she and the president once had an affair.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So --

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: They funneled it through a law firm.

GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.

HANNITY: Oh. I didn't know -- he did?

GIULIANI: Yes.

ACOSTA: That completely contradicted what the president told reporters just last month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money? To make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know. No.

ACOSTA: Giuliani's explanation for that? The president didn't know about the reimbursement until just recently.

GIULIANI: He didn't know the details of this until we knew the details of it, which is a couple of weeks ago. Maybe not even a couple. Maybe 10 days ago.

ACOSTA: But that differs from this tweet from Mr. Trump, that claims Cohen was on a monthly retainer. "Not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into through reimbursement." Then president went on to tweet, "These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth. The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair."

The stunning admission from the president also runs counter to multiple denials from White House officials.

SANDERS: There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he's denied all of these allegations.

ACOSTA: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters she only learned of the reimbursement last night.

(on camera): Were you lying to us at the time, or were you in the dark?

SANDERS: The president has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim and, again, I've given the best information I had at the time. And I would refer you back to the comments that you yourself just mentioned a few minutes ago about the timeline from Mayor Giuliani.

ACOSTA: That statement -- Sarah, that statement was in reference to the reimbursement, the payment.

SANDERS: Again, I gave you the best information that I had. And that --

[17:05:03] ACOSTA: That was a shot in the dark. You didn't know.

(voice-over): In a separate interview on FOX, Giuliani tried to explain away all of the past false statements, including from Cohen, who has also stated he was not reimbursed. Giuliani insisted it wasn't an attempt to go around campaign finance laws.

GIULIANI: It wasn't for the campaign. It was to save their marriage as much as their reputation.

ACOSTA: There were other jaw-dropping admissions from Giuliani, such as when he admitted he'd fired former FBI director James Comey over the Russian investigation.

GIULIANI: He fired Comey, because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. He's entitled to that.

ACOSTA: And when he described the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as disposable.

GIULIANI: If they do do Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on him. They're going after his daughter?

HANNITY: What about his son-in-law? We talked about him.

GIULIANI: I guess Jared is a fine man. You know that. But men are, you know, disposable. But a fine woman like Ivanka? Come on.

ACOSTA: And when he appeared to liken the federal agents who raided Cohen's office and their investigation to Nazi storm troopers.

GIULIANI: The question there was, the only possible violation there would be was it a campaign finance violation, which usually will result in a fine, by the way. Not this big storm troopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, Giuliani appeared to cross an important line in all those comments to the media, at one point stating that the three American prisoners being held in North Korea are being released. Asked whether the president had given Giuliani permission to discuss foreign policy matters, the White House press secretary said she didn't know.

But Brianna, one thing we should point out to our viewers. When the White House press secretary says she's giving us the best information that she has, that's not the same thing as telling the truth -- Brianna.

KEILAR: That was evident today. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you so much.

We do want to bring in now CNN political correspondent Sara Murray. And, Sara, when you listen to Rudy Giuliani in these interviews he's been doing, he has really been coming out hard against the Mueller investigation.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's hitting back at the Mueller investigation. But he's also laying out a very long list of demands for what Mueller's team needs to do if they want to sit down with the president. What is not clear is whether Giuliani's bombastic approach is ultimately going to be to the benefit of his client.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): The president's increasingly combative approach to dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on full display, thanks to his new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

GIULIANI: If they're objective, we can work something out. If they're not, then we have to shake hands and basically go into a litigation over do they have the power to subpoena? And I think they have lost that power. That is completely tainted investigation.

MURRAY: Trump's longtime adviser and now lawyer parroting Trump's talking points on the Russia investigation.

GIULIANI: This has become a witch hunt, like the president said.

MURRAY: And accusing Mueller's team of setting a perjury trap for the president.

GIULIANI: This started as collusion with the Russians. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

GIULIANI: Now they go to obstruction of justice, collusion among the players. What they're really trying to do is trap him into perjury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So let's talk about --

GIULIANI: And we're not suckers.

MURRAY: But there's no indication Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians has concluded. Former Trump adviser Michael Caputo says he hasn't seen any evidence of collusion, but that's what Mueller's team was squarely focused on when interviewing Caputo this week.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: There are things that they're tracking down, and I think they're very focused on Russian collusion. I think they believe that they'll get to something. These guys are ready for whoever comes into that room. It's a very unpleasant experience.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, Giuliani may have added a twist to the obstruction of justice investigation. The president has offered up shifting explanations for firing FBI Director James Comey.

First, he said it was because of the recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over the handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. Then he said it was because of the Russia investigation, a comment he later tried to walk back. Now Giuliani is adding a new reason.

GIULIANI: He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. He's entitled to that.

MURRAY: As Trump's lawyers negotiate with Mueller's team about a potential interview with the president, Giuliani is making the case that Mueller's powers are limited.

GIULIANI: They cannot indict him. I don't believe they can subpoena him.

MURRAY: And he's laying out a strict set of demands, like a guaranteed time limit, that he may have little ability to enforce.

GIULIANI: They're going to have to treat him the same way as Clinton. Two and a half hours. We end. We walk out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, we know that Mueller's team has already raised the notion of subpoenaing the president with the president's lawyers. That could be setting up these two sides for a clash that may be decided by the courts -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Sara Murray, thank you so much for that report.

Now Giuliani's remarks are rocking the Trump legal team. We have CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez working this part of the story for us. What's the reaction there, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three words. They're stunned; they're blindsided; they're angry, frankly, because Giuliani sort of was on the "Hannity" show on the FOX News. Allegedly, he was there to make the case that the president is being treated unfairly, especially when you consider the way Hillary Clinton was treated, in their view. And they also -- he was also there to make the case that the president should be believed over anything that the former FBI director, James Comey, has to say.

Obviously, this went really, really off the rails. The president's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told Dana Bash this morning that he coordinated everything, everything he said. He spoke to the president before he went on the "Hannity" show, and he spoke to the president afterwards. Everything was coordinated, at least according to Rudy Giuliani to Dana Bash.

KEILAR: Is there any evidence that Giuliani was coordinating these comments with the rest of the legal team? Is there a sense that he went rogue?

PEREZ: No. It was completely rogue. He did not do that, at least according to the sources that we've been talking to.

Look, Brianna, for months, the president's legal team that's been handling the Russia investigation has been very, very strict about not talking about the Stormy Daniels matter because, frankly, has nothing to do with the Russian collusion investigation. At least that's the way they've told us. And so for months they've been very disciplined. There's not been a lot of discipline about this team. You've seen a lot of turnover. But one thing that has remained constant is that they've been trying their best not to talk about this.

Rudy just went there. He just basically just went over the lines. And so everybody was learning this as they were watching FOX News. Frankly, we were texting some of the members of the legal team as this thing was going down, and they were all sort of stunned as it was happening.

KEILAR: Evan Perez, thank you so much. I want to get more on all of this now with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Sir, thanks for being with us.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: My pleasure.

KEILAR: And I do want your reaction to some of the language that we've heard coming from Rudy Giuliani, the president's new personal attorney. He called federal enforcement -- federal law enforcement agents "storm troopers." He accuses Robert Mueller of trying to lay a perjury trap for the president. What's your reaction to that?

GALLEGO: Well, I'd just like to kind of remind people, is this had been a Democratic president or had this come under Barack Obama's administration, public would have been losing their mind. The fact that the president right now lied to the public about payments to a porn star about an alleged affair, potentially doing a campaign finance violation and then, on top of that, his personal attorney, you know, calls our, you know, FBI agents and our federal agents in general, basically, Nazis, the fact that this is not even a big story tells you how dysfunctional this whole -- this whole administration is. And to what degree of chaos that this president has caused.

KEILAR: He also shifted the rationale for why Jim Comey, the FBI director, was fired when he gave that interview last night. The original memo that was drafted said it was because Comey had mishandled the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

President Trump said on national television to Lester Holt that he fired him "because of the Russia thing." He told -- sort of said he got some pressure relieved when he talked to Russians in the Oval Office.

GALLEGO: Right.

KEILAR: And now Giuliani is saying that it's because Comey wouldn't say publicly that the president was not a target. He said Hillary Clinton got that, and the president couldn't get that. What's your reaction to that?

GALLEGO: Well, again, the president and his administration just continue lying. Either through their proxy, Huckabee Sanders, or through their lawyer and sometimes even through Trump himself. This is why we actually need to have a full investigation. Mueller needs to continue his investigation. He should not be impeded by the president or by the Republicans in the House of Representatives or in Congress, because we can't get a straight answer.

And if Giuliani's afraid of the president perjuring himself, the way to avoid that is to not lie. And I guess, you know, his own personal attorney, the president's own personal attorney, feels that the president has a proclivity to lying and, therefore, is trying to protect him from that, which you know, tells you a lot about what type of administration, again, we're dealing with.

KEILAR: There was a really interesting warning that came from Michael Caputo, a former Trump adviser, who met with the special counsel team yesterday. And he told CNN that investigators are clearly focused on potential collusion. He said they know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.

What does that tell you about where he special counsel is headed right now? Did you take anything away from that?

GALLEGO: I'm not going to take too much away from it, because we need to have Mueller continue his investigation. But from what I've seen just publicly, and this is even from admissions from the Trump administration, there was definitely high-level contacts between the campaign and the Russians. And they denied it the whole time until, again, it all got creeped -- slowly leaked out.

So we know that top-level campaign officials met with Russians in Trump Tower. We know there was discussion and agreement that there was going to be an exchange of information. Whether that happened at some point or other, it maybe didn't. But we know also the Russians wanted to see Secretary Clinton lose and Donald Trump do better.

[17:15:08] KEILAR: But do you take it to mean that the special counsel is, despite what the president has asserted, focused on collusion, not just obstruction of justice?

GALLEGO: I take it that the special prosecutor is looking at everything. And any -- anything that has to do specifically with the Trump administration and any type of abuse of power or breaking of the law that they find in the process of this investigation.

The problem that you have with this administration is that the lies, the corruption and the obstruction is just endless. And sometimes it's basically them just shooting themselves in the foot and causing, I think, a lot more chaos and investigations to keep going further.

KEILAR: Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. We really do appreciate it. Congressman Ruben Gallego with us from Arizona.

GALLEGO: Thank you for your time.

KEILAR: And next, the White House defends President Trump's shifting story on what he knew about the Stormy Daniels hush deal and when he knew it. And the president's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, raises hope of imminent release for three Americans held by North Korea. Why doesn't the White House seem to know about it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:42] KEILAR: President Trump's newest lawyer has plunged the rest of the legal team into chaos. Sources say that Rudy Giuliani blindsided them by revealing that Mr. Trump reimbursed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the hush money that Cohen paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. And Giuliani says the president knew about the payment, contradicting the president and the White House. CNN national correspondent Sarah Sidner has the latest for us now.

So Sara, you know, Giuliani went way off what has been the White House script.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a huge development. Everyone gasped when they were listening to what Rudy Giuliani was saying. He's part of their legal team. Because for months we've been hearing from the White House, denying there was any affair. And then we heard from Donald Trump himself that he knew nothing about this supposed deal for $130,000. He says this was all Michael Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER (voice-over): Tonight, the White House is struggling to explain a startling admission from Rudy Giuliani, the newest member of President Trump's legal team, telling FOX News that the president did repay the $130,000 in hush money to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, after Cohen paid off porn star Stormy Daniels.

GIULIANI: That money was not campaign money. Sorry. I'm giving you a fact now you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So --

HANNITY: They funneled it through the law firm.

GIULIANI: Funneled through the law firm, and the president repaid it.

HANNITY: Oh. I didn't know -- he did?

GIULIANI: Yes.

HANNITY: There's no campaign finance law?

GIULIANI: Zero.

SIDNER: In admitting Trump reimbursed Cohen, Giuliani revealed Trump, in fact, had to know about the payment, which the president denied on Air Force One just last month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael -- why did Michael Cohen make that payment, if there's not truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my -- an attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know, no.

SIDNER: And Giuliani's revelation undercuts what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the American people in March.

SANDERS: I had conversations with the president about this. There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he's denied all of these allegations.

SIDNER: Giuliani back on FOX this morning, trying to clear things up, claiming Trump wasn't made aware of the payment until recently.

GIULIANI: He didn't know the details of this until we knew the details of it, which is a couple of weeks ago, maybe not even a couple; maybe ten days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cohen didn't?

GIULIANI: He didn't ask. Cohen did -- Cohen made it go away. He did his job.

SIDNER: The president turning to Twitter to try to make his case, calling the reimbursement to Cohen part of his monthly retainer and calling Daniels' claims of an affair "extortionist accusations."

But just last month the original attorney who negotiated the $130,000 payment for Daniels told CNN it was Cohen who first reached out to him.

(on camera): Michael Cohen calls you up and says what about Stormy Daniels?

KEITH DAVIDSON, FORMER LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: He says, "I'm hearing rumblings out there that, you know, the press is poking around about Stormy Daniels. Do you have any information on that?"

SIDNER: Did you at the time?

DAVIDSON: No.

SIDNER: So what did you say back?

DAVIDSON: "I'll call you back."

SIDNER (voice-over): The nonpartisan group Common Cause, which has filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department regarding the Stormy Daniels hush payment, says if Giuliani is right, that could actually spell trouble for the president.

PAUL S. RYAN, COMMON CAUSE V.P. OF POLICY & LITIGATION: The fact that Donald Trump knew about this payment means both Cohen and Donald Trump are subject to criminal liability here for these violations.

SIDNER (on camera): Have you spoken to the president about this case?

(voice-over): Trump's attorney in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit, Charles Harder, has so far declined to comment publicly. But Stormy Daniels's current attorney is seizing on Giuliani's comments.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: There has been lie after lie told to the American people relating to this transaction, the agreement, the payment.

We now know that that was an absolute lie on videotape aboard Air Force One, and I think it's an absolute disgrace.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Now sources telling CNN that some of his legal team had no idea that this was coming. They were completely caught off-guard. The question is, what is the truth?

[17:25:04] KEILAR: CNN's Sara Sidner for us. Thank you so much for that report.

And coming up, Rudy Giuliani previews a combative new approach to dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Why did he blindside the Trump legal team?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: We're following the legal and political aftershocks following the latest round of interviews by President Trump's new attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Sources telling CNN that the president's legal team has been thrown into confusion and disarray by disclosures that Giuliani has been making.

[17:30:09] Let's bring in our political and legal experts to talk about this. Gloria, you've been talking to a lot of your sources. Tell us what you're hearing about the legal team and the White House staff and obviously what is a frustrating situation for many of them?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I've been talking to my sources so has Pamela Brown and Evan Perez, and we're all basically hearing that Rudy Giuliani threw a hand grenade into the middle of what they were trying to get together as a cohesive legal strategy because they brought new lawyers on the team, they have the Raskins from Florida, they're bringing Emmet Flood into the White House. They're trying to get their meetings back with Mueller sort of on target again to see what's -- you know, what either they're going to have the President testify or not. And suddenly, Rudy Giuliani -- and he probably spoke with the President about this and they all believed that this is a Rudy Presidential kind of thing that they concocted. He goes on T.V. and he's supposed to message, he's supposed to say, this is unfair to the President, Comey's a liar, and all the -- you know, the FBI is unfair and all the rest of it, and instead, he veers off into this Stormy Daniels territory and ends up telling a story that actually contradicts what the President has said. So, the team is infuriated and they say we look stupid and they say it looks like we're calling one play at a time because they are.

KEILAR: Because they are. Susan Hennessey, when you look at this, it seems like perhaps this was Rudy Giuliani's objective but it certainly was not the objective of the team at large. Do you think this was something that Giuliani considered the ramifications of or is maybe happy with the outcome of, or probably should not be?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: I think we have to consider that it'd be amazingly complex legal landscape that Trump is facing, right? There's the Stormy Daniels litigation, the Mueller investigation, Congressional inquiries, the new DNC lawsuit, emoluments legislation, right? This is hugely complex stuff, and you really need your lawyers to be well-coordinated. We've actually seen Rudy Giuliani's comments come back to haunt Trump legally in the past. A year ago in May 2017, Rudy Giuliani went on T.V. and said the President told me that he wanted a Muslim ban and so I told him this is how to do it legally. That showed up in court filings weeks later.

KEILAR: It really undercuts when your argument in court is it's not a Muslim ban, right?

HENNESSEY: Exactly. Right. So, I think what the President may end up finding is, you know, this P.R. strategy -- it really is a P.R. strategy and not a legal strategy -- it might emotionally satisfy him in the moment but, you know, in the law, words really matter and I think he is going to end up regretting this.

KEILAR: Joey Jackson, what do you make of Giuliani's legal contributions, I guess we could say?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Brianna, it's bizarre. Now, I'm one that felt that bringing him on was a genius move. Why? He's familiar with the process. Remember, he was the U.S. attorney in the southern district. He's familiar with the players, I thought that was favourable, and I thought he was a very good strategist, and more important than all of the above is the fact that he has the stature to tell his client no when to direct his client in terms of what to do, but when you come out like this, it's problematic for three reasons. Three cardinal sins. Number one, you contradict your client, the President, in terms of his knowledge of the payment. Wow! Right? Bewildered and befuddled by that. Then you go to number two, you contradict Cohen whose saying, oh, I did it myself, he has no idea. And then, number three, you establish a nexus between the payment and the campaign.

So, now, I'm left scratching my head saying, what are they doing? Furthermore, let's talk about something very basic. It's called the truth. Is there any regard for that, right? When you walk into a courtroom at all times that I've walked in as a former prosecutor, as a defense attorney now, people swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help me. You swear or affirm. And I mean, what's coming out of the White House on a daily basis are things that there's no credibility there. The voracity is zero, the strategy seems to go every day in a different direction. So, it really bewilders you, it frustrates you, and it really -- you know, the American people should know that we're not being leveled with, and that's problematic.

KEILAR: And Chris, speaking of that, I mean, watching the White House briefing this afternoon and you watch Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary, who has stood there flatfooted and said this and that. Actually, let's play this. This is what she has said previously and inaccurately on this subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We give the very best

information that we have at the time. We give the best information possible at the time. And we're going to continue to do that every single day. I have given the best information I had at the time. Again, I gave you the best information that I had. I give you the best information that I had. I'm going to continue to do my best to do that every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So, that is what -- that was her explanation today, but she told the press that she learned about this latest bombshell when the rest of us did and it really contradicts what she has said in the past. I mean, what do you make of it?

[17:35:03] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: OK. So, best information I had is a euphemism for what I said before was not true, but I wasn't lying because that was the information I was given. And in her defense, if you talk to the President and the President tells you, look, this is how it is, you go out if you're the Press Secretary and largely say, I talked to the President, here's how he says it is, which is what she said on March 7th. Now, it turns out that what the President told her isn't how it is. So, she's now put in literally an impossible situation by Rudy Giuliani and the President of the United States who are operating, as Gloria mentioned, sort of as their own little rogue unit at the moment. It got me to thinking about -- watching Giuliani last night and then the reaction today, it's like if you go up in a baseball game and you swing and you're nowhere near three pitches and strikeout, but when you're walking back you're like, ha ha, nailed it. Do you know what I mean? Like he -- everything he did -- to Joey's point, everything he did was like the opposite. You're undermining the President, Michael Cohen, you're connecting it to the campaign.

KEILAR: You've seen Press Secretaries who -- it's a frustrating way to reporters, they almost like willfully remain ignorant but in this case --

CILLIZZA: Yes. Plausible deniability, right.

KEILAR: Right. And so, they try to give themselves some protection. This is different. I mean, what do you do as a Press Secretary when someone -- when you are not getting the truth?

CILLIZZA: Correct.

KEILAR: This is what leaves some Press Secretaries to bail.

CILLIZZA: The issue -- the issue that she has is what she -- what happened here is quite clear, she asked Donald Trump about the payment, Donald Trump at best misled, and at worst, lied about it to her. She then went out and presented that information. Gloria, it's -- there's not -- it's not complicated. Now, she's clearly wants to keep her job. Is not going to quit and saying, you know, I'll do the best to my ability.

BORGER: I don't know.

CILLIZZA: But she has been radically undermined.

BORGER: She seemed today completely sad and rattled, I would -- I would have to say by this. And so, are the President's legal team. I mean, why resurrect this story? When, as you point out, there's so much other stuff they have to deal with, and they were trying to get on the right track, but now they're back --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: And we have so much more to talk about. I'm going to get in a quick break. We have a whole lot more news to discuss with you guys. Stick around with me. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:41:58] KEILAR: We're back now with our political and legal experts and they're going to give us their opinions on Michael Caputo. So, former Trump aide who is known for going before Congress when he was questioned and he basically told them to go to hell. And now, there's a very different thing that we are hearing where he was after being interviewed by the special counsel's team, he had some input it seemed for the President about really just what this investigation means and this is what he had to say about it to CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The Mueller team knew more about what I did in 2016 than I knew myself, and I think they know more about the Trump campaign than anyone that ever worked there. They have texts, not just e-mails, I believe quite a bit of those. They had spreadsheets full of information that I'm sure they have on every person that they're going to interview. These are very, very thorough and professional interviews that it feels more like an interrogation than an interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Joey Jackson, when you hear Caputo saying that, what does it tell about where the special counsel is headed right now?

JACKSON: Well, it's very clear to me that what it tells me is Caputo was warning everybody else who will come in that room that you better be truthful because they know a lot more than you do and a lot more than you think. Let's talk about briefly how prosecutors and investigators work. Brianna, when you're invited into that room, there's something called a proffer and there's something called a reverse proffer. Proffer first, that's when tell me what you know about things. Problem is, that they already know what you know and don't know and generally have records to substantiate what they're talking about, so you're just confirming their knowledge, and if you step outside of that box, it's a problem because there's something called perjury. Reverse proffer is something that I think eventually Michael Cohen will walk into when that is, look, let's cut a deal. This is all the stuff we know. Tell me what we need to know about Trump, and we'll forgive it. That's when prosecutors tell you all the information. So, Caputo is being very clear and saying these are professional people, they know it all, if you don't come clean, there's going to be a lot more than five guilty pleas as we stand right now, 19 indictments.

CILLIZZA: I think that -- I would just add to Joey's point. I think it is a message for anyone who has not gone before the special prosecutor -- or special counsel, none more so than Donald John Trump as he continues to weigh whether or not to do it. One of the biggest arguments against Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) is Donald Trump talks, he says stuff, a lot of stuff isn't true, or not backed up by facts. When you are confronted with someone who is as orderly as organized and knows as much as it appears according to Michael Caputo, the Mueller team knows, Donald Trump can get himself into a lot of legal problems by doing so.

KEILAR: And if you watched him be deposed before, which we have, you'd see that he does stumble that way. Susan?

HENNESSEY: Right. I mean, look, we clearly see that Caputo is completely overwhelmed, right? He understands now how good Mueller's team is. You know, I do think that this is a warning to people. I also think it's a little bit of a warning to Trump himself. You know, this stuff is scary. It costs a lot of money. It puts your family in jeopardy. And so, whenever Trump thinks about sort of the various actors in his world and base it down to have these very, very intense engagements.

[17:45:09] Meanwhile, he's putting Rudy Giuliani on T.V. just because he feels like it, you know, you have to think about the message and how that might change the calculations.

BORGER: But that's why he's not going to testify, period.

CILLIZZA: Right.

BORGER: He's not going to testify, and what Rudy Giuliani is trying to do -- although, he did it inartfully yesterday, is to give the message to the American people and Trump just started it. The reason I'm not going to testify is because you can't trust these people, you can't trust the FBI.

KEILAR: A trap.

BORGER: It's a trap. They want to put me in a perjury trap. You can't trust the investigators, you can't trust the investigation. And why should I go sit down with those guys? I'm not going to do it. So, this is the predicate that Rudy Giuliani is supposed to be out there laying, not the Stormy Daniels issue which is what he did yesterday.

CILLIZZA: And by the way --

KEILAR: Thank you so much to all of you. We are unfortunately out of time. But coming up, the White House calls on North Korea to show goodwill by releasing three detained Americans. Will Kim Jong-un set them free any time soon?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:42] KEILAR: This afternoon at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that it would be "a sign of goodwill if North Korea were to release three detained Americans before President Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un." CNN's Brian Todd is following developments here. And tell us, are there any indications that this could actually happen soon?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, one official with knowledge of all this tells us that their release is "imminent." Rudy Giuliani said it would be today. And then, the White House and State Department seemed to dial back on all of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: The fate of three Americans detained by Kim Jong-un's regime tonight is a mystery. An official with knowledge of the negotiations over the three men tells CNN their release is imminent. President Trump tweeted, "stay tuned." Rudy Giuliani, the President's new legal adviser, but not a government employee, made a bold promise.

RUDY GIULIANI, LEGAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We got Kim Jong-un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today.

TODD: But other officials inside the White House and State Department could not verify that the three would be released imminently.

SANDERS: We can't confirm the validity of any of the reports currently out about their release.

TODD: And some administration officials told CNN they were frustrated that Giuliani was saying too much, too soon. One U.S. official told us they were confident of a release, but officials say they're working to verify reports that the three Americans had been moved from labor camps to a hotel in Pyongyang.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S.-NORTH KOREA NEGOTIATOR: Well, what the North Koreans do is right before they release hostages, they give them good food, they put them in a hotel, they move them from prisons, those are good signs, but they were unjustly apprehended.

TODD: Tony Kim and Kim Hack-song, teachers at a Pyongyang science university were arrested in the spring of last year, accused of hostile acts against North Korea. The American longest held Kim Dong- chul, was arrested in October 2015, charged with spying for South Korea. When CNN interviewed him two years ago, he seemed to be aware the North Koreans were monitoring the conversation.

KIM DONG-CHUL, AMERICAN DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA: I committed an act of espionage against North Korea. I gathered information about its nuclear program and military facilities.

TODD: South Korean intelligence denied that. GREG SCARLATOIU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: That was definitely a forced confession. We have seen this done to many other American detainees, actually all American detainees.

TODD: Joseph Yun, former U.S. special representative for North Korea was the official who went last year to get American Otto Warmbier out of Pyongyang just before Warmbier died. Yun says he was the last non- North Korean to see the three Americans currently being held in June of last year.

What was their condition then?

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: I saw them, of course, in the presence of North Korean authorities. I talked to one by one, all three of them, and certainly, when I asked them, how their health was, they responded it was good.

TODD: Former negotiator say Kim Jong-un is releasing the Americans because he knows a summit with President Trump won't happen if he doesn't. What conditions could they have faced in the labor camps?

SCARLATOIU: They're under extraordinary pressure, there is of course psychological pressure as we have learned from many of the former hostages, there is actual physical torture involved as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, these three Americans will undoubtedly be debriefed by U.S. intelligence when they get out, and will likely be able to give some information on where they were held and other conditions, but Veteran negotiators and human rights experts tell us, there's a lot these guys will not be able to say. They tell us that in North Korea, American detainees are held separately from North Korean prisoners, and given much better food and other conditions. The last thing Kim Jong-un wants these people say is for the Americans to be able to give specific information about just how harsh North Korean labor camps really are. Brianna?

KEILAR: And Brian, how much of a rule did Mike Pompeo play in the likely release to these three Americans?

TODD: Brianna, by all indications, he played a major role. Pompeo, while he was still CIA Director, went on a secret trip to Pyongyang, met with Kim Jong-un over the Easter weekend. A U.S. official says he raised that issue of the detained Americans then. The people who really know about these negotiations say they have no doubt, Pompeo's trip got this moving, it might have been the decisive factor in this release, if it indeed happens soon.

[17:55:02] KEILAR: All right. Brian Todd, thank you for that report. And coming up, the White House is forced to defend false statements after Rudy Giuliani's bombshell revelation about the Stormy denials hush deal -- Stormy Daniels, I should say, hush deal and what President Trump knew.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Happening now, changing his story. The President now admits Stormy Daniels was paid to stay silent after his new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, revealed that Mr. Trump refunded the hush money. Tonight, we're told Giuliani had left the rest of the President's legal team in turmoil.

Out of the loop, the President's top spokeswoman admits she didn't know about the payback to Michael Cohen until she watched Giuliani on T.V. like everyone else. Has the credibility of the Trump White House sunk to a new low?

Disposable, another stunner from Giuliani --