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White House Press Secretary Facing New Credibility Questions; Trump Departs White House, Heads to Texas to Address NRA; Trump: Giuliani a Great Guy will Get his Facts Straight. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 4, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It has been since day one. And now what is it? Day 400 and something. It continues to be the biggest story.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brian Stelter, great to have you with us. Thanks very much.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of NEWSROOM begins right now.
BERMAN: All right.
HARLOW: There is usually animation.
BERMAN: We're animated. That's the important thing.
HARLOW: Happy Friday, everyone. Good morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.
BERMAN: And I am in fact still John Berman.
Will the president address the controversy swirling around his administration? And simply put, can we believe it if he does?
HARLOW: Right. We're also waiting to see the president, maybe hear from him. These are live pictures out of Joint Base Andrews. The president is headed there. In just moments, he'll board Air Force One. He's headed for Texas. He and the vice president will both speak today at the NRA's national convention there in Dallas. This amid more and more concerns about the credibility of the president, his staff, and the entire White House team at this point.
Our Kaitlan Collins joins us at the White House. We're waiting to see the president. He may take questions, right, as he walks across the lawn to Marine One there. What are you hearing?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Poppy, actually reporters are on the south lawn right now. The president just walked out of the Oval Office and I did just get an update from my colleagues who are out there on the south lawn. They said the president is speaking to reporters. We'll wait to see what exactly it is he's saying. I'm sure he's being asked about this Stormy Daniels payment, of course. The president actually does often speak to reporters in the south lawn, but he has made a habit in the last few weeks, but clearly today he does feel like there is something to get off his chest. Of course, inside the White House, his staffers feel blindsided by that revelation that Rudy Giuliani made that the president did reimburse Michael Cohen for the payment made to Stormy Daniels. They really feel that this press strategy is out of their control at this point because now we have got the president speaking with Rudy Giuliani who is not a White House employee and doesn't answer to anyone at the White House except the president himself going on cable news, making these announcements without coordinating with anyone in the White House. Clearly catching a lot of them off guard and they realize that their credibility is on the line here.
But back to the president himself, we're waiting to hear from him to see what he has to say. Today his counselor Kellyanne Conway was actually on the north lawn speaking to reporters. And we asked her if the American people can still trust the president after just a month ago he said that he didn't know about that payment to Stormy Daniels and he didn't know where Michael Cohen got the money to pay her. Here is what Kellyanne told us earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Kellyanne, what did you first learn the president reimbursed Michael Cohen for that payment made to Stormy Daniels?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I have no comment on that.
COLLINS: Did you know about it before Sarah?
CONWAY: I have never heard about that during the campaign. I was a campaign manager.
COLLINS: Did you know about it last year in the White House?
CONWAY: I did not.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did the president mislead the American people intentionally.
CONWAY: The president sent out three tweets on the matter.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can we count on the president to be honest?
CONWAY: The president is very honest. He promised to cut taxes and he did. He promised to get North Korea and South Korea to sit down and change the course of history and they are. He's got his delegation over in China working on more reciprocal trade deals that stop screwing the American and American workers and American interests and American businesses. Half a billion-dollar trade deficit with them and it makes no sense to him. If you see him yesterday surrounded by different faith leaders of six different religions and see their reformed man that he brought up to the podium, that's the president I work for, that's the president I know. You should look at his tweets on that matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So quite a statement from Kellyanne there saying she does think the president is honest. She referenced the president's tweets from roughly 24 hours ago about paying Stormy -- about paying Michael Cohen the money to pay Stormy Daniels but she didn't reference that appearance on Air Force One less than a month ago when he said he didn't know where the payment came from. And then, one more thing I would like to note, she walked off just there at the end, I asked her if the White House thinks that Rudy Giuliani is causing problems for them, clearly going on air and saying things that the White House is unaware of and including Kellyanne Conway who said she didn't know, that is a question John and Poppy, she did not answer.
BERMAN: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Just so we can tell everyone what is happening right now. The president did just make a statement on the south lawn, the other side of the White House where Kaitlan is now on his way to the helicopter. He spoke to reporters. We're getting the tape of that. We got some very, very rough notes about what he says. And I have to say, they're intriguing right now.
Let me tell you. He says Rudy Giuliani is a great guy, he has his heart into the whole defense of the president. But he says Rudy Giuliani is learning the subject matter and apparently, he'll be making another statement, the president says. Again, we'll hear from the president himself to find out exactly what this means. He also says Rudy Giuliani knows this is a witch-hunt, he started yesterday, he will get his facts straight. We'll find out much more about exactly what this means in the next few minutes. We'll play it for you.
In the meantime, joining us, CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin and federal and white collar criminal defense attorney Caroline Polisi.
[10:05:01] Caroline, let me ask you. Based on what we're hearing from the president, it does seem that the president this morning is trying to explain away what Rudy Giuliani says. And again, we'll hear it in just a moment. Stand by for that. But what does it tell you now that the client, in a way, is having to justify the comments made by the attorney?
CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL AND WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it is important to remember that campaign finance violations are both of a civil nature and of a criminal nature. And when you talk about a criminal violation of the campaign finance law, that would go to President Trump's state of mind. This back tracking now is all about the state of mind.
Remember, Giuliani said on "Fox and Friends," can you imagine what would have happened if this, you know, bombshell about the Stormy Daniels payment came up -- or the Stormy Daniels story, I'm sorry, came out, you know in October before the election. So that right there goes to the question of a criminal violation. I think you have to look at this case when you analyze it, in retrospect, John Edwards case. There, the DOJ couldn't get that across the goal line in terms of prosecuting and getting a conviction for the state of mind. So I think they're walking back a little bit on the state of mind.
HARLOW: OK. We have a few more rough notes on what the president said. Again, we're turning this tape, you'll see it for yourself here, the president and his entirety in just a minute. But he also spoke about the Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation. Here is some of what he said, quote, "I would love to speak, no one wants to speak more than me regarding an interview with Bob Mueller." The president also said it is the lawyers, his lawyers, that are advising him against an interview like Giuliani. He said there is nothing I would like to do more because I have done nothing wrong. But I have to find that we're going to be treated fairly.
Now, this ties into Rudy Giuliani, Michael Zeldin, because Giuliani made a big headache for the president potentially with Mueller's team on the issue of potential obstruction of justice. When he told Hannity on Fox this week that the reason that the president fired James Comey, the FBI director, was because Comey wouldn't publicly exonerate him and say that the president is not under investigation. So this all, you know, it is all coming full circle. What are your thoughts on Giuliani -- how can he walk that back?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they should walk Giuliani back to New York and leave him there. Because he's not helping the president in any way, either with Stormy Daniels or with Mueller. Remember, he came in, and the first thing he said was essentially I'm going to get this wrapped up in a few weeks. That was delusional. And we're seeing how that is not going to be the case.
Then with respect to his statement that he fired Comey because of Comey's refusal to exonerate him, that fits into the narrative of the president. I don't think that's all that different. Remember, the president says I fired him because I had Russia on my mind. Well, that could fit into the Russia on my mind, you know, sort of umbrella. So I don't know that it is vastly different.
But it is not helpful to the president when Giuliani is out there, freelancing with Sean Hannity and every other media outlet, completely unaware of the facts that underlie the president's legal situation. I think that Giuliani would have been much better off consulting with the Raskens, consulting with Mr. Flood, the new in-house guy, and Sekulow, get their facts and law straight and come forward. Because what Giuliani said in the Stormy Daniels payment was just wrong as a matter of law, and it just didn't -- he didn't know the law. And you can't have a lawyer who doesn't know the law. Doesn't help you.
BERMAN: It is also very hard to have a lawyer when the client seems to be undercutting him again today. The rough notes we have is the president saying, Rudy is a great guy, but he started a day ago. He'll get his facts straight. Rudy Giuliani started a few weeks ago now at this point. Wasn't just this week. He started going on TV a day ago, which may be the only thing the president cares about. But it is also a major, major issue here.
Caroline, while we're waiting to hear from the president directly on this, because I do think it is significant to hear these words, it is possible, he is, again, undercutting yet a new attorney here. Let's talk about the campaign finance issue. Again, Jeffrey Toobin said yesterday, when he heard Rudy Giuliani say what would happen had knowledge of the payments come out in October? Imagine what would happen a month before the campaign? Rudy Giuliani is trying to walk that back now. He has said to NBC News overnight, "If there was no campaign, Cohen would have made the same payment in the same amount to prevent personal embarrassment and heartache to his wife." Does that put the genie/confession back in the bottle?
POLISI: No, it does not. I mean, one thing I will point out is that statements by Rudy Giuliani, while of course are probative in a prosecutor's case, they're not the statements of a President Trump. So he may be woefully misinformed. That could be one argument. But I think the bigger issue here is the slush fund. The idea that Michael Cohen was operating on a $35,000 a month retainer arrangement. That he could just really play with to pay off people that had potentially damaging information to the president. That's really not how things should work.
[10:10:04] HARLOW: Can that be criminal?
And Michael Zeldin on this, I mean can that be criminal, if indeed the president paid Michael Cohen, his attorney, a $35,000 a month retainer just to clean up anything that looks bad and didn't have exact knowledge as it seemed like Giuliani is arguing now that the payments were for Stormy Daniels at the time, is there anything that could be criminal in that?
ZELDIN: Well, you know he can hire Cohen as his lawyer, and as his lawyer he could be tasked with cleaning up these things. And that would be an appropriate use of an attorney as long as the attorney behaves in a lawful manner. So in and of itself I don't think it is necessary that we think about it as a criminal purpose. What is more sort of indicative of what Caroline is saying, whether this is a civil or willful violation is the manner in which the payments were made, the funneling it through a law firm, using a limited liability company that was just set up a few days, essentially, before that. Then this repayment through these $35,000 incremental payments, including taxes and profit.
If I were a prosecutor on this case, and I expect the prosecutors to have already achieved this is I want the tax returns of Michael Cohen and the Trump organization and Trump individually, because I want to see how these payments and repayments are treated. Because if they are as Giuliani said, once, to protect the marriage, that's not a business expense that is deductible. We'll see whether the Trump organization tried to deduct it. If it is for -- if it is for the protection of the Stormy Daniels, then it may be. And so we have to see that, and I think he's opened up the whole issue of the tax returns.
BERMAN: We got about a minute left until the president starts speaking. We'll bring that to you the minute it happens, a minute away now.
Caroline, Giuliani trying to spin now that the president knew he was paying Michael Cohen but didn't know what it was for until very recently, possible? POLISI: So, I mean, I guess in an alternate world it is possible. Again, you can make the argument that, look, that October leading up to the election likely an incredibly busy time for the president. He's got a lot of things on his mind. So, you know, there has been reporting that Michael Cohen couldn't actually get in touch with the president to reimburse him. Remember, we heard reporting that he was sort of complaining about the fact that he wasn't reimbursed. I think now you have an issue where Cohen and team Trump are no longer in communication. They're not communicating about -
BERMAN: President, let's listen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I tell you what -- Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago. But he really has his heart into it. He's working hard. He's learning the subject matter. And he's going to be issuing a statement too. But he is a great guy. He knows it's a witch hunt. That's what he knows. He's seen a lot of them. And he said he's never seen anything so horrible.
As an example, 33,000 emails requested by Congress with a subpoena, and they get burned, they get deleted. And nobody says anything. Give me a break.
So, Rudy knows it's a witch hunt. He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight. He's a great guy. But what he does is he feels it's a very bad thing for our country, and he happens to be right.
QUESTION: When did you find out what the retainer was being spent on?
TRUMP: Well, you're going to find out, because we're going to give a full list. And people know. And virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it's been said wrong, or it's been covered wrong by the press -- just like NBC and ABC yesterday covered the story wrong.
But you'll be finding out. It's very -- it's actually --
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you --
TRUMP: Wait a minute. It's actually very simple. It's actually very simple. But there has been a lot of misinformation, really. People wanting to say -- and I say, you know what, learn before you speak. It's a lot easier.
QUESTION: Mr. President, when are these Americans going to be released from North Korea?
TRUMP: We're having very substantive talks with North Korea. And a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages. And I think you're going to see very good things. As I said yesterday, stayed tuned. I think you're going to be seeing very, very good things.
And also, the trip is being scheduled. We now have a date and we have a location. We'll be announcing it soon.
QUESTION: Mr. President, have you changed your mind at all about being willing to sit with Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Well, the problem with sitting is this: You have a group of investigators, and they say that I am not a target. And I'm not a target. But you have a group of investigators that are all Democrats. In some cases, they went to the Hillary Clinton celebration that turned out to be a funeral.
[10:15:06] So, you have all these investigators. They're Democrats. In all fairness, Bob Mueller worked for Obama for eight years.
If you look at the statements that were made, if you take a look, as an example, at the Rod Rosenstein letter to me, prior to the firing of James Comey, just read it. Put it in the air. Your viewers don't know about it. Put that letter on the air. It very much speaks very loudly, and that's just one thing.
So, I would say this: If I could be -- I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me -- in fact, against my lawyers, because most lawyers, they never speak on anything. I would love to speak, because we've done nothing wrong. There was no collusion with the Russians. There was nothing. There was no obstruction.
You know, very funny -- if you fight back, because you people say something wrong, or they say something wrong, or they leak, which they've been doing. If you fight back, they say, oh, that's obstruction of justice. If somebody says something wrong, and you fight back, they say that's obstruction of justice. It's nonsense.
So, let me just --
QUESTION: Are you --
TRUMP: Wait, wait. Let me just tell you. So, I would love to speak. I would love to go. Nothing I want to do more, because we did nothing wrong. We ran a great campaign. We won easily. We won that easily. 306 to -- I think, it was 223. We won it easily. That was a great victory. That was a great day for this country.
We just had new jobs numbers out. You saw we broke 4 -- 3.9 percent. I would love to go. I would love to speak. But I have to find that we're going to be fairly.
QUESTION: Are you sure --
TRUMP: Wait, wait. I have to find that we're going to be treated fairly, because everybody sees it now, and it is a pure witch hunt. Right now, it's a pure witch hunt. Why don't we have Republicans looking also? Why aren't we having Republican people doing what all these Democrats are doing? It is a very unfair thing. If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyer.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the jobs report today?
TRUMP: I thought the jobs report was very good. The big thing to me was cracking four. That hasn't been done in a long time; you'll tell me how long. But it hasn't been done in a long time. We'll full employment. We're doing great. The stock market is doing -- I guess it's up 35 percent since the election.
And now I think, really, they're waiting to see what's going to happen on trade, because we're going to have some incredible trade deals announced. My people are coming back right now from China, and we will be doing something, one way or the other, with respect to what's happening in China.
And let me say this. I have great respect for President Xi. That's why we're being so nice. And we have a great relationship. But we have to bring fairness into trade between the U.S. and China. And we'll do it.
QUESTION: Are you sure Michael Cohen -
HARLOW: The president of the United States on his way to Texas, taking several reporter questions, making so many headlines. Let's just begin, Caroline, with Rudy Giuliani, the president's own attorney, as you see him departing -- landing at Joint Base Andrews there. Undercutting his own attorney saying Giuliani just started yesterday, which is not factual and he'll get his facts straight.
POLISI: I'm in complete shock. I've never seen anything like this quite frankly. You know Michael and I disagreed previously about sort of what the underlying strategy here was when he came out on Hannity -- Giuliani, when he came out on Hannity and gave that bombshell interview. I really was of the mindset that this was a preplanned strategy because they knew because of the raid on Michael Cohen's office, home and hotel room, they knew there was going to be some bad facts out there and they wanted to get ahead of it.
HARLOW: Giuliani said as much to NBC that we knew the southern district just would come out with this.
POLISI: Yes. The reporting indicates that that happened. But in basically a closed-door meeting between Trump and Giuliani unbeknownst to the rest of its entire legal team, to the rest of his communications team, who are by all account flabbergasted by this interview. But apparently, it was part of the strategy, but now, again, we're seeing this walk back by Trump. And it is very confusing. I've never seen anything like it.
BERMAN: We're going to bring in Bakari Sellers and Mary Katharine Ham to this discussion right now.
Mary Katharine, let me start with you, the president of the United States just said of his attorney who claimed that the president was OK with everything he said. The president of the United States basically just said Rudy Giuliani botched this. He is a great guy -
HARLOW: But he didn't get it right.
BERMAN: But he didn't get his facts straight and he'll be issuing a statement. Mary Katharine, what do you make of it? MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it is sort of classic Trump. To probably have a plan to send someone out there, have him say what he says and undercut it.
[10:20:01] I actually think -- I imagined he might not do this to Giuliani because they do seem so in sync and Giuliani's moves seemed to clear -- call at least -- I feel like fighting, I feel like going on offense, I have the same gut feelings as President Trump and that would keep them sort of on the same page. But perhaps the blowback to that interview has told him otherwise. I'm sort of surprised.
HARLOW: We'll keep talking all the shocking things that just happened. But an important -- piece of news out of the situation with North Korea, the president did say there, may have missed it, near the end, he said that a location and date have been set for his meeting with Kim Jong-un. He just said that. He also said about those detainees, those three Americans. I think you'll hear a lot of good things. Obviously, their families are waiting to hear what will happen to them and what their fate will be if they're coming home.
Bakari Sellers, the president said it is actually very simple. Explaining the payment to Stormy Daniels. And he said, it is best, quote, "learn before you speak, it is a lot easier."
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, this has been a very interesting kind of diagnosis if you look at this from a legal perspective. Because you have Rudy Giuliani who did his best my cousin Vinny impersonation went out there and actually got the president in more trouble than he was before he actually spoke on Fox News. That's first.
Second, now you have the president attempting to walk that back and undercut everything that Rudy Giuliani said, but even more importantly, this president has a trust deficit with the American people. He has a trust deficit with Robert Mueller. He has a trust deficit with everyone. So, I'm not sure that anyone would believe anything that comes out of his mouth. That's why anyone who loves him or is around him or works for him does not want him to sit down for an interview because he just rambles, and he cannot tell the truth.
And so, what we saw today was more meandering and it may have more legal consequences. It doesn't have any political consequence. Because what we've learned in this Trump presidency is nothing matters anywhere, politically. But it will have legal consequences.
BERMAN: He did talk directly as Bakari brings up, Michael Zeldin, about the potential interview with Robert Mueller and his team.
BERMAN: And the president is continuing what is this new aggressive attack from both the president and his new legal team on this, directly saying that the lawyers who work for Robert Mueller are partisan. Mentioning that some of them are Democrats, some donated to Hillary Clinton. I think Andrew Weissmann went to the victory party - Hillary Clinton what was supposed to be a victory party that night. But he said something flat out false, he said Robert Mueller worked for Obama for eight years. Not true. He was the FBI director appointed by president Bush -
HARLOW: President Bush -
BERMAN: And then he stayed on as they do.
HARLOW: And he's a registered Republican.
BERMAN: Exactly. But Michael Zeldin, this attack saying that, you know, I'm willing to sit down with the special counsel, but only if I know that he's fair. What do you make of it?
ZELDIN: Well, of course, he, as the client, has the right to determine whether he will or not sit down. The lawyers can't tell him what to do. They can advise him but ultimately it is his decision. So, any decision to testify or not to testify is on the client, President Trump. The notion that he's not going to sit down unless fairly treated by people who he thinks are on his side is a bit, you know, counter indicated to the reality of things. He has this team and that's who he has to deal with.
HARLOW: Michael Zeldin, just notable pictures here. We see the president walking side by side with his Chief of Staff John Kelly amid all of the reporting -- well, the reporting that Kelly called the president an idiot, multiple times. You see this important image for the White House to put out here.
Caroline, as we continue to watch the president as he walks to Air Force One, he's heading to Dallas, the president also said and this struck me at the end, I want to sit down with Mueller, I want to sit down with Mueller if I think he's fair. He said if I thought he was fair, I would override my lawyers. That's also significant, right? Basically, we know John Dowd left because he wasn't being listened to.
POLISI: Right. Right. There has been a lot of shake-up on the legal team. Obviously, Trump isn't sort of the ideal client to have -
HARLOW: Let's listen to the president.
TRUMP: We have a great relationship. He's doing a great job as Chief of Staff. I could not be more happy. So, I just want to tell you that.
The New York Times has falsely reported. They've said things that are absolutely false. So, I just want to tell you that. And, General, you may have something --
JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I would just say it's an absolute privilege to work for a President that has gotten the economy going. We're about to have a breakthrough, I believe, on North Korea. The jobs report today. I mean, everything is going phenomenally well. Attacking the opioid crisis. It's nothing less than brilliant what's been accomplished in 15 months, I believe.
QUESTION: Mr. President, why did you change your story on Stormy Daniels? TRUMP: I'm not changing any stories. All I'm telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth. And to be bringing up that kind of crap, and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time -- that's all you want to talk about. You're going to see --
[10:25:02] QUESTION: But you said --
TRUMP: Excuse me --
QUESTION: -- on Air Force One that you did not know (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: No, but you have to -- excuse me. You take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look. You'll see what I said.
QUESTION: You said, "No," when I asked you, "Did you know about the payment?"
TRUMP: Excuse me, you go take a look at what we said. But this is a witch hunt like -
BERMAN: All right, we lost our signal there with the president. And notably John Kelly.
TRUMP: But what I do want you to do is look at our economy. Today, we broke 4 percent. 3.9 percent we hit today for the first time in many, many years. We're really proud of it, and we'll talk to you folks later. But I will tell you -- I will tell you this, I will tell you this. When Rudy made the statement -- Rudy is great -- but Rudy had just started, and he wasn't totally familiar with every -- you know, with everything. And Rudy -- we love Rudy, he's a special guy. What he really understands is that this is a witch hunt. He understands that probably better than anybody.
QUESTION: When did you know --
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. But Rudy -- Rudy understands this better than anybody. But when he made a certain statement -- he just started yesterday. So that's it.
So, bottom line is -- bottom line is, I want to talk to the people in charge, if they can prove that it's a fair situation. The problem we have is that you have 13 people -- they're are all Democrats, and they're real Democrats. they're angry Democrats. And that's not a fair situation.
Thank you very much.
TRUMP: We have a chance of bringing -- we have a chance -- we're doing very well with the hostages. We're in constant contact with the leadership. We are in constant contact with North Korea. We've actually worked out a time and a place which will be announced shortly and very soon.
QUESTION: Where? TRUMP: I figured you would ask that question.
TRUMP: But -- wait a minute --
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) or South Korea, are they on the table?
TRUMP: Not really. Not at this moment, certainly not.
QUESTION: You're not planning to withdraw (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: No. No. And we haven't been asked to. Now, I have to tell you, at some point into the future, I would like to save the money. You know, we have 32,000 troops there. But I think a lot of great things will happen. But troops are not on the table. Absolutely.
Thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right. President Trump there, he's now boarding Air Force One for a trip to Dallas. This turned into an extraordinary morning, I have to say, with the president sending direct messages, visual messages, the most significant I think for where we are today is a complete walk back -
BERMAN: I think, of what Rudy Giuliani his now personal attorney in the Russia matter has said over the last few days, Rudy Giuliani of course confirming that the president reimbursed Michael Cohen, his attorney, for the Stormy Daniels hush money payments. Now the president not once, but twice this morning, once at the White House, second time just to make sure we understood it, fully, said that Rudy Giuliani just started and may not have his facts completely straight here. Caroline Polisi, again, as an attorney, this just has to make you cringe.
POLISI: It is just unbelievable, John. I honestly have never seen anything like it. We heard some familiar refrains there from Trump, this is a witch-hunt. Rudy is a great guy. He's trying to have - he's needed to. He's trying to have it both ways. Basically, saying that you know our story hasn't changed, when in fact Rudy may not have been fully informed.
I thought it was interesting that he repeated this familiar refrain, he's not a target of the entire Mueller investigation. Remember, he may not be a target simply because Robert Mueller is operating under the assumption of the office of legal counsel memoranda which states that a sitting president cannot be indicted. So that could merely be the reason.
HARLOW: But if Giuliani is in the president's words just now, quote, "not totally familiar with everything," Kaitlan Collins, let me bring you in here as well at the White House, said we love Rudy, he's not totally familiar with everything, he'll get his facts straight, we know that Giuliani and the president sat down and mapped out and strategized before Giuliani went on Hannity and left everyone else at the White House out of the loop on that.
COLLINS: That's right, Poppy. They spoke not only after that interview, but also before and our sources told us that the president was not upset with what Rudy Giuliani said during that. And then of course, the president himself backed up what Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News on Twitter in a series of tweets. But he said he made several comments about Rudy saying he's a great guy, but that he's still learning the subject matter, getting his facts right. He said that he just started yesterday. But, of course, I should note it was reported two weeks ago that Rudy Giuliani was joining the president's legal team.
One of those comments there about Rudy felt like getting adjusted could have been about the fact that Giuliani did announce on Fox News yesterday that those Americans detained in North Korea were being released yesterday. Of course, that didn't happen. And the White House and the State Department still have not confirmed any of that. So, that might have been what the president is referencing there, but a fascinating back and forth just there on the tarmac at JBA before the president boarded Air Force One, where he was arguing with a reporter about what he said on Air Force One about Stormy Daniels. He was telling the reporter to go back and look at what he said. Of course, John and Poppy, we both know that on that flight he denied knowing anything about the payment to Stormy Daniels.