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CNN NEWSROOM

Giuliani Doesn't Rule Out Trump Taking the Fifth; GOP House Intel Chair Wants to Hold Sessions in Contempt; Stormy Daniels Trolls Trump on SNL. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 6, 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] ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, President Trump's newest attorney, Rudy Giuliani, out this Sunday to clear the air.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I never thought $130,000 was a real payment, it was a nuisance payment. As far as I know, it's a longstanding agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like this.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC'S' "THIS WEEK": So did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the president?

GIULIANI: I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes. The Mueller part of the case that --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to get that --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: That one is gone. That one is gone. I think if you ask the prosecutors off the record, they would tell you, that's gone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If the president has done nothing wrong as you say again and again, and he tells the truth --

GIULIANI: He's never done anything wrong, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if he tells -- if he tells the truth as you would advise him to do, what is the danger in answering Robert Mueller's questions?

GIULIANI: Because they're trying to trap -- you couldn't put a lawyer on this show who wants to keep his law license to tell you he should testify.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident the president will not take the Fifth in this case?

GIULIANI: How could I be confident of that? MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Did that interview just

happen?

WHITFIELD: Trump's counselor trying to offer clarity and perhaps some distance, too.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT: I have limited visibility into what Mayor Giuliani is talking about because politely he is the president's counsel, I'm the president's counselor.

WHITFIELD: All this hours after Stormy Daniels made her own forecast on "SNL" last night.

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm's a-coming, baby.

WHITFIELD: CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. If the president's new attorney intended to make the rounds on the Sunday's talk shows to straighten things out, well, that might have backfired.

There are even more questions now about what Giuliani calls a nuisance payment to Stormy Daniels, and possibly to others if necessary, and him saying Trump might refuse to comply with a possible Mueller subpoena. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president said you're going to get the facts straight, so let's try to get some facts on the table right to begin with. The president does acknowledge meeting Stormy Daniels, correct?

GIULIANI: I'm not really involved in the Daniels thing, so I don't know. I mean, he denies that it happened. She has written a letter denying it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we do have a picture of them together, so the president --

GIULIANI: Well, it depends on what you mean by met her.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, yes, there's the picture right there. I just want to get that fact on the table.

GIULIANI: Well, it looks like my friend Donald Trump before he was president, but -- and that looks like the woman who was on "Saturday Night Live" last night.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. But does -- GIULIANI: Now that's pretty -- I think she kind of -- god, if I were

her lawyer I'd be very upset. Fame and fortune, let me make money. How is she damaged? She's become rich as a result of this. The $130,000 doesn't mean anything. Boy, I wish that was my case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So the president does deny any sexual relationship with Stormy Daniels?

GIULIANI: He has. I have not -- I'm not -- as I said, I'm not involved in that. But the reality is he denies it. She denied it. Then when it was opportunistic, right, before the election, she came forward and then of course the whole thing happened with Michael Cohen. And it's history now because it wasn't a campaign anything that --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, wait. But let me just -- because you say it's history. When did the president first learn that Stormy Daniels wanted money to keep quiet about the relationship?

GIULIANI: Don't know and doesn't matter to me. What matters to me are two things. There are two relevant legal things, which is what my job is. Number one, it was not a campaign contribution because it would have been done anyway. This is the kind of thing that I've settled for celebrities and famous people. Every lawyer that does that kind of work has. And number two, even if it was considered a campaign contribution, it was entirely reimbursed out of personal funds, which I don't think we'll even get to, because the first one's enough. So case closed --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well --

GIULIANI: Case closed for Donald Trump. And I think for Michael Cohen, who I think got a big boost with Judge Ellis' comments the other day.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's -- the other day you also told BuzzFeed, though, that at some point after the 2016 election, Michael Cohen had complained to some people that he hadn't been paid by Donald Trump. And then -- so then you said Cohen met with Trump and told him and Giuliani said that we'll cover your expenses, they work out this $35,000 a month retainer after that. So the president did know about this after the campaign?

GIULIANI: Can't say that. I mean, at some point, yes, but it could have been recently, it could have been a while back. Those are the facts that we're still working on. And that -- you know, may be in a little bit of dispute. This is more rumor than it is anything else. But --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's what you said. You said that to BuzzFeed.

GIULIANI: But here's the -- well, yes, I mean that's one of the possibilities or one of the rumors. The reality is --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You stated it as fact.

GIULIANI: Well, maybe I did. But I -- right now, I'm at the point where I'm learning, and I can only -- I can't prove that. I can just say it's rumor. I can prove it's rumor, but I can't prove it's fact. Yet. Maybe we will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you've said as -- you've said it as a matter of fact on Hannity and BuzzFeed.

[14:05:02] You talked to the "Washington Post" about it.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: I don't know -- I don't know how you separate fact and opinion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's --

GIULIANI: When I state an opinion, I'll say this is my opinion. And when I state a fact, I'll say this is a fact.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the president worked out a retainer agreement with Michael Cohen after the election in order to repay him --

GIULIANI: No, no --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- for the settlement to Stormy Daniels.

GIULIANI: The second part -- the second part of it, the last part of it, the retainer agreement was to repay expenses, which turns out to have included this one to the woman that you saw on "Saturday Night Live" last night, trying to make more money, and now our NDA with her seems to be irrelevant because she wants to break it up because she wants to make a lot more money than $130,000.

I never thought $130,000, I know this sounds funny to people there at home. I never thought $130,000 was a real payment, it's a nuisance payment. When I settle this -- when it was real or a real possibility, it's a couple million dollars, not $130,000.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you --

GIULIANI: People don't go away for $130,000 over a meritorious claim.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You did call it a settlement payment. The president did make these payments to Michael Cohen over the course of 2017, according to you. Then why did -- on April 5th, why did the president deny any knowledge of the payments when in fact he made the payments?

GIULIANI: Well, I don't know -- I don't know when the president learned about it, he could have learned about it after or not connected the whole thing at that time. The reality is those are not facts that worry me as a lawyer. Those don't amount to anything, what is said to the press. That's political. What matters to me as a lawyer is -- STEPHANOPOULOS: It's OK to lie to the press?

GIULIANI: Gee, I don't know, you know a few presidents who did that. I don't think that this president has done that. But in any event, that's not the crime. The crime is, was it a campaign contribution? Not a campaign contribution. 100 percent, people want to avoid that conclusion because it gets him out of trouble and it makes the whole investigation and the tactics that were used by the prosecutors totally repugnant.

The reality is, here's the test, not of Michael Avenatti, not of me, but of the Campaign Finance Commission. If it could be for any other purpose, even if the purpose is campaign, any other purpose, if a man buys a suit, if a woman buys a dress, it cannot be considered a campaign contribution.

Now this was for another purpose, to protect him, to protect his family. It may have involved the campaign, it doesn't matter. And it would've been done under any other circumstances, if there was no campaign and I can prove --

STEPHANOPOULOS: If that's the case, then why wasn't --

GIULIANI: And I can prove that it has been done on numerous times. Not necessarily with President Trump, but with many other people that I and other lawyers have represented.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If it could --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is responding to Giuliani's whirlwind interview this morning. Listen to what he told CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION": I want to ask you right away about the latest this morning from Rudy Giuliani on ABC News. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said this was a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen. So did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the president?

GIULIANI: I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's your reaction to that? Do you have any indication there might be other women that we don't know about?

AVENATTI: Well, Jake, I think that when all the facts and the evidence come out, there is going to be evidence of payments to other women. I think that's going to be laid bare for the American people. But I have to tell you, this interview that Rudy Giuliani gave this morning is just a latest in a series of train wrecks for Rudy Giuliani and the president. They can't get their facts straight. They keep changing every interview they give.

The facts take on a new life of their own, and this is what happens when you lie and try to cover up, and this is exactly what happens.

TAPPER: Giuliani also said this morning that he expects that Trump fixer Michael Cohen will cooperate in the investigations, but investigators might be disappointed because Cohen doesn't have any incriminating information about President Trump. I imagine that you think he shouldn't be so sure about that.

AVENATTI: Well, no, I think he should be absolutely unsure about that. I don't think there is any question, I've been saying this for a while, that Michael Cohen is going to turn state's evidence on the president, and I'm confident that there's going to be a lot of evidence and a lot of conduct that's going to come to light.

I mean, the story, Jake, if we just concentrate on this $130,000 payment, and I don't want to say story because now it's stories. The stories that they are trying to peddle to the American people are forever changing over the last few months and even over the last 72 hours. Now Rudy Giuliani is trying to claim that he really doesn't know the facts, isn't really up to speed as to the most basic facts.

I mean, these are facts that you would find out as an attorney in the first 30 minutes of a meeting with a client. This is not that complicated of a situation. Did the president know about the $130,000 payment? When did he know about it? Did he know about the agreement? Did he reimburse it and how did he reimburse it? I mean, I don't understand what's so complicated about this unless you're trying to hide things.

TAPPER: Giuliani argued this morning that it's very clear the president has not violated any campaign finance laws over this hush payment. He says the payment would have been made regardless of the presidential campaign, and even if it had been campaign related it wasn't a loan or an expenditure because the president reimbursed it. Is that right?

[14:10:06] AVENATTI: No, that's not right. I mean, you know, Rudy Giuliani evidently doesn't -- he claims to not know the facts, but he most assuredly does not know campaign finance law. That's not campaign finance law. Rudy Giuliani seems to believe that if the payment was not made with campaign dollars that somehow there is no campaign finance violation. That's not the law. I think it's clear that, look, if this $130,000 reimbursement was all aboveboard and they weren't trying to hide anything or trying to skirt campaign finance law, then why didn't the president just write a check or send a wire for $130,000 in reimbursement funds and be done with it?

Why this whole scheme about the invoices and the retainer and all of this, wind up the formation of the LLC by Michael Cohen. I mean, these are not actions that you take if some things aboveboard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Lots there to break down. Joining me right now, CNN contributor and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center Larry Noble, Republican strategist Rick Wilson, he was also the former strategist for Rudy Giuliani's 2010 Senate campaign, and CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.

All right. Good to see all of you.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You too.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, Brian, let me begin with you. You know, what in the world just happened? Giuliani, Avenatti, on the air to best represent their clients, right? So is this who can win in the battle of public opinion well before possibly going to court?

STELTER: Yes, my generous explanation of Rudy's TV tour is that he is giving the interviews the president wishes he could give himself. You know? The president would love to be out there on TV defending himself, but his aides and lawyers are constantly telling him not to do that. So he almost never gives interviews. Instead he has his old friend, Rudy Giuliani, playing surrogate, really playing surrogate more than playing lawyer.

I mean, some of these quotes, Fred, my issue as I'm getting up to speed on the facts here, I'm about halfway through.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

STELTER: That he's admitting he doesn't know all the facts.

WHITFIELD: The facts we're working on --

STELTER: That's why this interview is going to be taught in law schools and not as a way to represent your clients. It's going to be taught as a way not to represent your client.

WHITFIELD: So, then, Rick, this appears to be some sort of strategy then. Last week it was a toss-up strategy, maybe it was just kind of a runaway train, but then now that he has gone on again in a very similar method, this is strategy. So is this more of what Brian was saying, perhaps Rudy Giuliani not representing Donald Trump as a lawyer but really almost as an extension of, this is how Donald Trump might answer these questions so that's how I'm handling this?

RICK WILSON, FORMER STRATEGIST, RUDY GIULIANI 2000 SENATE CAMPAIGN: I think Brian is on the right track there. I call it the Immanuel Kant problem. Plus Immanuel Kant said there was the phenomenon, the unreal thing that we see, and the noumenon, the real thing we don't see.

Rudy is the phenomenon here. He is the show, he is the steam valve for Trump's anger and Trump's, you know, desire to go out and fight this out in the media space. And the noumenon, the underlying layer are people like Emmet Flood and the other attorneys who are around the president desperately trying to keep him from never speaking in public, desperately trying to keep him from telling Rudy too much, because they're going to try to work this under the radar screen and kill these things.

But I think that -- I think that Trump's need to have a Rudy out there is very real and that phenomenon of seeing Rudy do the big scenery eating.

STELTER: Yes, yes.

WILSON: Tearing the set up sort of performance is really -- you know, Trump needs that psychologically.

WHITFIELD: So, Rick, you know Giuliani, having worked on his, you know, Senate campaign then, so is -- when Rudy Giuliani says, you know, the facts we're working on, you know, usually an attorney wants all of it right before saying, I am representing you. And he says, you know, I'm learning. You know, I can prove it's rumor but not fact.

I mean, help us understand what the intention is here. He's taking off his prosecutorial hat, and even though he's saying I'm legal counsel, I'm really not, this is an exploratory mission?

WILSON: If I could -- if I could give my old friend Rudy a piece of advice, it would be very simple.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

WILSON: It would be to ask yourself if you think Donald Trump, your client, is telling you the truth. Is Donald Trump lying to you by omission or commission? Is Donald Trump giving you the entire spectrum of facts you need to defend him adequately? And I think there is no question that Trump is not a guy who is truthful to anyone, even to people who are trying to help him. So I think that's really -- that's sort of the baffling thing to me, because Rudy is an aggressive advocate for people, an aggressive prosecutor, an aggressive, you know, advocate in almost every spectrum.

But if you're unequipped with the facts and if your client is lying to you and making material omissions to things that you should know about before you, you know, set out to defend him, I think it puts you as an advocate in a very difficult spot. And you know, it's only your reputation.

[14:15:08] WHITFIELD: And, Larry, if we can try to extrapolate further some of what we heard from Giuliani who called the Stormy Daniels, you know, payoff a nuisance payment, implying that -- you know, that $130,000 is not even a lot of money for a situation like this, so much for, you know, no payment, now it's kind of justified payment, and that it's not a violation of election laws because it's to protect his family. How is that for a legal argument?

LARRY NOBLE, GENERAL COUNSEL, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: It's not a very good legal argument. There was a lot of deflecting going on there. If you noticed, he brought up "Saturday Night Live," he brought up Clinton. He brought up a lot of different things to try to change the subject.

You know, whether or not $130,000 is normally what Giuliani's clients pay for this type of thing is irrelevant. The question is, was this for the campaign? And even the fact that he says, well, you know, he didn't want his wife to know about this, or he didn't want it to be public, that's also irrelevant if they did it because of the campaign. And the most telling evidence of that is when they paid this.

They paid this right before the election. The actual alleged affair happened way before that. And she's been around for a while and right before the election, they felt it was necessary to make this payment. And I think that's really what is important about this.

One of the things that surprises me, and I fully agree with what Rick and Brian said is he's not really acting as a lawyer right now. Giuliani is acting more as a spokesperson. I've never heard a lawyer say, after talking to his client, I don't know what the facts are.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

NOBLE: Also you saw something else --

WHITFIELD: That was an overt omission -- I mean, admission. It's just perplexing.

STELTER: Yes.

NOBLE: And he also -- and he also said something that runs through this administration, which is, well, what, you know, I don't know if I know the difference between a fact and an opinion. And I thought that was also telling. So, you know, it is -- I think this is a way to try to deflect and confuse, but the reality is there's a basic factual question here is, was this done for the purpose of influencing the election?

And I think the evidence is very strong that it was, and I don't think they can get away from that by calling it all sorts of other things and talking about "Saturday Night Live" or saying they don't know the facts.

WHITFIELD: And in midstream, he was like, well, I'm really here to talk about the Mueller investigation, but it was preceded by all this other stuff that we just, you know, re-played for you. We'll replay some of the other stuff later, but Brian, you know, you see Rudy Giuliani is digging deep. But then when you listen to what the president's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN, and she was on other networks, too, she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: I would also tell you that I'm happy to answer these questions, but I have limited visibility into what Mayor Giuliani is talking about because politely he is the president's counsel. I'm the president's counselor. I will tell you, though, in speaking with the president just yesterday, when the president said no on Air Force One, he was talking about he didn't know when the payment occurred. It's a very fascinating exchange between him and Katherine Lucie of

the AP, I believe, and so he's saying he didn't know about it when the payment occurred and he found out about it after the fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So I wonder, Brian, is he -- while she's representing the president still, she also kind of trying to protect herself by underscoring on the counselor, you know, it's been a while since I've been an attorney, she said that on another network, but you know, I'm not his counsel. Why would she do that?

STELTER: She's trying her best. And we've seen a number of aides in the White House, you know, like Sarah Sanders, having to try to explain what they did and didn't know at certain times. I think it's a reminder that there is not so much maybe a grand strategy here as there is an attempt just to get through the day, to get over to the next day, to get through whatever the day's scandal is and get on to the next one.

That's the approach we sometimes see from the White House here whether it's the president trying to distract and deflect with random tweets or whether it's his aides saying I didn't know and then try to pivot, and talk about some other topic. You know, it's just trying to get through the day. And unfortunately, that's where the White House finds itself.

You know, day 470, there really isn't a White House at all. There is a president and then a bunch of aides scrambling to keep up with him. And personally I wish I was a fly on the wall for the next conversation between Trump and Rudy. I would love to know how Trump really feels about these interviews.

WHITFIELD: Right.

STELTER: Maybe he's loving it or maybe Rudy is the next Mooch.

WHITFIELD: And so, Rick, you were nodding a few times while Brian was talking. What are you thinking about Kellyanne Conway?

WILSON: I think it's remarkable because, you know, Kellyanne was doing some limited walk-back this morning and she was trying to insulate herself a little bit. But this is a woman who likes lies like a fat kid likes cake. She has absolutely no problem being -- almost a mendacious, an untruthful person on television. But if it's to the point where it's making her uncomfortable and she's trying to say, I don't know about that stuff, you know there is a bigger issue below the surface here.

This is like a filth iceberg and there is a lot underneath it that she's aware of but doesn't want to get tagged with knowing about because she -- you know, she's the queen of that happy talk thing for him, and the fact that she's putting daylight between herself and the president on this is very interesting to me.

[14:20:06] WHITFIELD: It's telling. I'm not sure what it says yet, but it is telling.

So Larry, your assessment?

NOBLE: Yes, I agree. And also what she said was, well, I'm not really involved in that, that is what Giuliani is involved with. And Giuliani then says, well, I don't know the facts. So it's a simple question here, or a simple request. Can somebody talk to the president and find out what the facts are? Now they may then decide they don't want to tell the public, and a lawyer -- well, that's why a lawyer usually will try to find out the facts before they go public. They may decide there's certain things they don't want to make public. But somebody does know what the facts are, it's the president.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

NOBLE: And you'd think his lawyer would not just keep saying I'm learning, I'm trying to figure out what they are, and there may be some disagreements.

WHITFIELD: And as an attorney to best represent your client, wouldn't you have like a nice little sit-down, tell me everything you know. All of it. Just put it all out there. I need to be equipped with everything. And that's not happening yet?

NOBLE: That's not happening. And that's absolutely the first thing you do. You sit down, you talk to your client, you find out exactly what went on, and you decide frankly how much you believe them on it and then you make a decision on what you're going to say. And your first concern really has to be court proceedings. And then -- you know, there's also concern of PR, but they seem to have gotten this backwards, and they seem to have done this -- if you believe them, as first worried about the PR and then they're going to worry about the facts.

And people have said that you can't commit perjury, you know, over television of what you say to reporters. But these things are important and these things do become relevant when you're trying to decide whether he's telling the truth.

WHITFIELD: All right. But wait, there's more. Larry Noble, Rick Wilson, Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Stay tuned.

The president's lawyer also weighing in on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. Why he doesn't want the president to testify and won't rule our pleading the Fifth? Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS: Hello, Donald.

ALEC BALDWIN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Come on, stormy, stop making such a big deal about this. Everyone knows it's just an act.

DANIELS: I work in adult films. We're not really known for our acting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Stormy Daniels on "Saturday Night Live." Her ominous forecast. And a new report says President Trump's pick for CIA director tried to withdraw her nomination. The details when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:26:24] WHITFIELD: All right. More from that stunning interview this morning. President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who raised eyebrows last week provoking the president to say he's new on the job and still getting familiar with the facts. Well, today Giuliani covered a lot of ground, even warning in the Bob Mueller investigation if the president is subpoenaed to testify, he doesn't have to comply. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the Mueller investigation. The president said again on Friday that he wants to speak with Mueller, answer his questions. So are you prepared to make that happen?

GIULIANI: Not after the way they've acted. I came into this case with a desire to do that, and they just keep convincing me not to do it. First they leaked the questions, then they do this whole --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me just stop you right there. That's not a fact. In fact those questions were written by Jay Sekulow after a meeting with Mueller and his team, and these were -- your impression of the Trump team's take on the questions, and in fact, there was a document made by the Trump team. It wasn't something leaked by Mueller.

GIULIANI: It wasn't something leaked by us, I know that. But in a way we were helped by it, so I guess that's why they suspect us. But we were helped inadvertently. We're helped because it shows he has no case. Three main issues, right? One is, was there collusion? Come on. Nobody believes anymore there was collusion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There are several questions on that list about collusion.

GIULIANI: Well, there were questions about it because they don't have any answers. They wouldn't have to ask us if they had answers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor, what's -- if the president has done nothing wrong as you say again and again, and he tells the truth --

GIULIANI: He hasn't done anything wrong, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if he tells -- and he tells the truth as you would advise him to do, what is the danger in answering Robert Mueller's questions?

GIULIANI: Because they're trying to trap -- you couldn't put a lawyer on the show who wants to keep his law license to tell you he should testify.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's only a trap if the president doesn't tell the truth.

GIULIANI: No, it isn't. It's only prosecutable if they have some built up, manipulated evidence to prove the president didn't tell the truth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you have evidence that proves he doesn't tell the truth and the president didn't tell the truth?

GIULIANI: No, people do things like lie. People lie. Could Comey be lying? You're damn right he could be lying, George. And we're going to walk ourselves into a trap like that? I couldn't --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: If James Comey lied to the special counsel then he's the one who's vulnerable to perjury. If the president told the truth, he's not.

GIULIANI: And the special counsel has to be open to believing that. The special counsel so far seems to think that Comey is Moses. And I happen to think Comey is Judas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president? Will you comply?

GIULIANI: Well, we don't have to. He's the president of the United States. We can assert the same privilege as other presidents had. President Clinton negotiated a deal in which he didn't admit the effectiveness of the subpoena. He withdrew it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he did testify -- yes, but he did testify before the grand jury. Is the president willing to do that?

GIULIANI: But only for two and a half hours, only with an arranged format. Would we be willing to do that? I'd rather have the Hillary Clinton treatment.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think President Clinton was --

GIULIANI: But I would rather have the Hillary --

STEPHANOPOULOS: More than two and a half hours.

GIULIANI: That was two and a half hours in the grand jury. Approximately, maybe three. We'll take three. But Hillary Clinton treatment is what I'm looking for, and that is no under oath, only a Q and A, and then we get the questions in advance and they write the report two weeks before.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you -- he has briefed you on the topics he wants to discuss. Are you confident the president will not take the Fifth in this case?

GIULIANI: Oh, how can I ever be confident of that? When I'm facing a situation with the president and all the other lawyers are, in which every lawyer in America thinks he'd be a fool to testify.

I've got a client who wants to testify. Please, don't -- he said it yesterday. And, you know, Jay and I said to ourselves, my goodness, you know, I hope we get a chance to tell him the risks that he's taking.

So he may testify. And we may actually work things out with Bob Mueller because working with him directly is good.

But if they keep undermining it and we have situations like Judge Ellis saying that they're out of control and they're not authorized -- and they refused to give the Judge their authorization. What's going on with that, George? God Almighty.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Final question. Do you still want Rod Rosenstein to shut down this investigation?

GIULIANI: I do. I believe that after Judge Ellis' remarks last night -- yesterday, rather, on Friday, there is no question that the amount of government misconduct is accumulating. I happen to believe it's greater than anybody realizes.

It's very embarrassing to my former Justice Department and very embarrassing -- not to the FBI agents. Please, nobody is attacking FBI agents. They're just from the lawyers. We're attacking the formal leadership of both organizations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. A lot to unpack there. Will Trump plead the Fifth? Will he be forced to comply with a potential subpoena by Robert Mueller's team? We'll discuss all of that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:35:50] WHITFIELD: Rudy Giuliani is muddying the waters over President Trump's decision on whether or not to testify in the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Will he or won't he? That's the question.

Larry Noble and Rick Wilson are back to break it all down.

So, Larry, we heard Giuliani, you know, repeat that Trump wants to speak to Robert Mueller, but he didn't rule out that he might plead the Fifth.

You know, the question was, you know, will he comply? And Giuliani says, you know, not the way they're acting. So is this in the best interest of the President?

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are a couple of things we have to really break down here. There are two issues in terms of complying.

One is whether he would comply with a subpoena which means show up for testimony. The other -- he could comply with the subpoena and then still take the Fifth Amendment. That is his right. He can take the Fifth Amendment.

It doesn't -- optically, it doesn't look very good. But I have to say, as a lawyer, he has the right to take the Fifth.

You know, the -- what they're doing, I think, is setting up the idea that he's not going to testify. And I have to say I understand the idea that if you were Trump's lawyer, with everything we know about Trump, I probably would not want him to testify.

I think that, you know, it is just hard to keep him to a story. I think he doesn't always understand the difference between opinions, facts, and lies. And so he is kind of, in that sense, is the worst type of client to have out there testifying. So I think you would say to him, you don't want to.

Now, there's a problem, which is, if subpoenaed, I think he does have to show up. And I think the -- there are cases that lean very strongly in that direction, that he has to show up, including when it went to the Supreme Court. So then questions --

WHITFIELD: And then what? OK, so you show up. Is that when you're saying he still has the option of pleading the Fifth, or is that to the detriment of President Trump if subpoenaed and pleading the Fifth?

NOBLE: I think it's going to be to the detriment to him publicly, especially since he is president. He has said before, anybody who pleads the Fifth must be guilty. He said it's the type of thing that the mob does.

But I think what the lawyers have to weigh is, would you rather it looked bad or would you rather the likelihood that he's going to say something that's going to be taken as perjury? Because he's going to contradict himself even in the same interview, even answering the same questions. That he's not going to keep to a straight story.

WHITFIELD: So, Rick, is Giuliani doing the President a disservice by, you know, spelling out all these potential scenarios, even using language by talking about the investigative teams that, you know, the misconduct is accumulating, and even saying that this case is predicated on built-up, manipulated evidence?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think those statements are very much about keeping the Fox News Trump audience fired up and filled with the belief that this is an evil conspiracy run by George Soros and the Illuminati and the grey aliens and all this other stuff against the President.

The sort of Fox info wars access where it all has to be a conspiracy against the President, it couldn't be something that the President did or his associates did. So I think that's where that messaging is really strongly coming in.

And, you know, there is a part of this also that is Rudy just trying to bluster through this thing, and the sort of bravado of maybe the other side will crack if we just act like we're going to yell loud enough and long enough about it. I don't think that's an accurate reading of Robert Mueller, from my understanding of Mr. Mueller's history.

But, you know, that is -- it's not going to stop them from pursuing that strategy in part because, as we talked about in the prior segment, this is what the President wants. He wants that confrontation. He wants that reality television, you know, professional wrestling kind of engagement as a central part of his communication strategy.

WHITFIELD: And it almost seems like the President is taking a victory lap. You even heard it from Rudy Giuliani.

And even, you know, Kellyanne Conway, underscoring that, you know, this past week, a federal judge in Virginia, you know, is questioning the motivation behind Mueller's prosecution of Paul Manafort. The judge claiming that Mueller's team is just trying to, you know, bring Trump down and that's why they're going after him.

But others do have a different take. Here is Congressman Adam Schiff this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:39:57] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Here, the Special Counsel, I'm sure in discussion and in consultation with Rod Rosenstein, is deciding which of the cases that have arisen from this investigation he should try personally and which should be farmed out to others. That's how the process should work.

And while, you know, it's certainly within the judge's prerogative to ask these questions, I don't think it really bears on the legal issues. And so I think that Bob Mueller will prevail in the sense of being able to go forward with this litigation. I don't think there is really any legal question about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Larry, can that Manafort case really impact what does or doesn't happen with the President?

NOBLE: It can have some impact, but I don't think it's going to have a major impact. First of all, judges often will be very hard on the government and then end up ruling against them. It's happened to me -- I mean, sorry, ruling for them. It's happened to me.

So you don't -- you can't say based on what he said. I think a lot of his comments were gratuitous, but based on what he said, you can't say which way he's going to rule. But even if he does dismiss the case, it -- and I think this is what

Representative Schiff was talking about, is the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia can bring the case. The Department of Justice can bring the case.

This is a case about Manafort dealing with Ukraine earlier. It's not the core case dealing with Russia and the, quote, collusion. So it doesn't undermine what is going on with Mueller, but, you know, it is -- it does feed the Trump narrative about this being some sort of grand conspiracy.

WHITFIELD: All right, Larry Noble, Rick Wilson, we'll leave it there for now because there's more.

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLE: Thank you.

WILSON: Always. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Next, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee says he wants to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt. What Congressman Devin Nunes said on that and why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:16] WHITFIELD: Hi, welcome back. The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee making a big threat today against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

California Congressman Devin Nunes says he is going to push to hold Sessions in contempt of Congress. He is accusing the Attorney General of withholding documents in the House Intelligence panel's probe of government surveillance. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE (via telephone): Two weeks ago, we sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a classified letter. Per usual, it was ignored. Not acknowledged, just completely ignored.

So last week we sent a subpoena. And then on Thursday, we discovered that they are not going to comply with our subpoena --

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS HOST: So what are you going to do about it?

NUNES (via telephone): -- on very important information that we need.

HENRY: So what are you going to do?

NUNES (via telephone): The only thing left that we can do is we have to move quickly to hold the Attorney General of the United States in contempt, and that's what I'm going to press for this week.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now to discuss, CNN political analyst Karoun Demirjian.

All right. So, Karoun, what are we to make of this battle between Nunes and Sessions? Are these marching orders, perhaps, from the President who has had lots of advocacy from Nunes in the darkness of night?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's always been an open question. Or at least for the last year or more, that's been an open question about how much Nunes is taking cues from the White House and vice versa.

But, look, this is the latest chapter and the most definitive, really, and Nunes pledging on television that he's going to do this, in what has been an ongoing back and forth of Nunes threatening to hold members of -- federal law enforcement officials, top ones, in contempt for not producing documents.

He wants it various stages related to the probe of -- that they're trying to conduct into what sort of surveillance was done of individuals related to the Trump campaign. This kind of goes back to the same stuff that was behind the dossier. And before that, it was document requests that were going back to last summer.

The fact that Nunes is throwing this down, though, in this sort of forum is basically saying, OK, I'm done playing the game of chicken here. And the question is going to be whether people go along with it. I mean, he can file a contempt resolution, but the committee is probably going to have to vote on that, or the entire floor depending on how this goes.

Is the rest of the GOP going to be in lock step with him, or will they say this is going too far when you're attacking the Attorney General directly, if he's giving you reasons that are -- saying that, you know, you're putting people in danger by getting -- asking for this information.

WHITFIELD: So is this an issue of -- you know, it's transparency versus investigations that lead to potential prosecution? Justice Department, the separate, you know, branches of government.

Is it the discretion of the Justice Department which has prosecutorial powers to say we don't want to share this information because it could jeopardize our investigation versus Congress? It's about transparency, you know, sharing information with the public, and one might jeopardize the investigation or prosecution. And that's why Sessions wouldn't comply?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, yes and no. I mean, look, there are multiple layers of what's been going on here when you're talking about the request coming out of the House Intelligence Committee.

Yes, Congress wants more transparency for the government. And, yes, the government sometimes is overly zealous in saying we can't give you what you want because it might get public if we hand it over to you. You can come and read it in the chambers of the Justice Department or when it's the CIA, it's there.

But they're very -- you know, they hold onto that information that they consider sensitive. And, yes, when it's the Justice Department, it could be because it could complicate any sort of ongoing prosecutions or investigations they have.

But then there's another element, too, of the fact that you're not talking about Congress as a whole advocating for transparency versus the executive branch as a whole. This is fraught with politics.

When you're talking about, right now, the House Intelligence Committee, specifically Devin Nunes and specifically the Justice Department, there are accusations, mostly coming from Democrats, that they are trying to undermine the integrity of the federal law enforcement agencies in order to throw, kick sand, on the Russia probe that Bob Mueller is running.

[14:50:06] And so the question then is, well, how much can you separate these two?

WHITFIELD: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: Because the pushing for transparency, sure, that is an argument that works very well, but is that all that there is there and do other lawmakers think that that's all this is about? Probably not.

WHITFIELD: Right. And at the same, we just heard Rudy Giuliani, who is the lawyer for the President, who says the misconduct is accumulating. Talking about within -- under the umbrella of the Justice Department.

DEMIRJIAN: Right.

WHITFIELD: All right, Karoun Demirjian, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, Stormy Daniels delivering a message to the President of the United States in a star-studded cameo on "Saturday Night Live."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STORMY DANIELS, ACTRESS: I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm is a-coming, baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: What else she said and what the White House is saying about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Adult film star Stormy Daniels made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live," poking fun at the ongoing saga surrounding her legal fight with the President of the United States. Ben Stiller also reprising his role as Michael Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: All right. Is everyone on?

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Yes.

KATE MCKINNON, ACTRESS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

STILLER: Guys, can we please just decide on one line and stick to it because our stories are all over the place?

BALDWIN: Guys, hold that thought. I'm getting a call from work.

AIDY BRYANT, ACTRESS: Mr. President, I have lost all credibility. Did you lie to me about the Stormy Daniels affair?

BALDWIN: Yes, that sounds like something I would do.

BRYANT: OK, good. Just as long as we're on the same page. I'm good to go. See you Monday.

BALDWIN: OK, I'm back.

MCKINNON: Guys, guys, can we hurry this up? I'm supposed to do 25 more talk show appearances today, and I'm trying to make it like an advent calendar, you know, where I reveal one new crime at each show.

BALDWIN: Call up Stormy Daniels and fix this, once and for all. Maybe keep me on the phone too. I'll just be quiet and listen.

[14:55:02] (APPLAUSE)

DANIELS: Hello.

STILLER: Stormy? This is Michael Cohen. Are you alone?

DANIELS: Yes.

BALDWIN: And what are you wearing?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: Excuse me?

BALDWIN: OK, Michael, I can take it from here.

STILLER: OK. But as your attorney, I highly advise against you --

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: So what up, girl?

(LAUGHTER) DANIELS: Hello, Donald.

BALDWIN: Come on, Stormy, stop making such a big deal about this. Everyone knows it's just an act.

DANIELS: I work in adult films. We're not really known for our acting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom, and it all starts right now.