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Michael Cohen Taped a Conversation with Trump - Can Mueller Use This Information in His Investigation? Trump's Makes Changes to Scripted Speech. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired July 21, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and from around the world. Just when you thought a bad week for the president could not get worse it did. The president was reportedly taped by his own lawyer discussing a payment to Playboy model Karen McDougall. We'll discuss the evidentiary implications plus the president's strikeout after trying to do damage control after his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, President Trump may have made things worse when he deviated from the script.
Overlooked by many, the seven words he refused to say which I think provide great insight into his view of the Russian cyber attack. And after his performance was panned, the president renewed his charge that the media is the real enemy of the people. But this week when Sarah Sanders tried to ignore a question she didn't like, a reporter stood up for his rival colleague. He's here.
And a movie that moved me. Adopted by birth by three different families, they didn't know about each other until they met at age 19, but then the story of these identical triplets took a dark turn. I'll talk about the director of hit documentary, "Three Identity Strangers."
But first ,a bad week for the president ended even worse, reporting Friday by the "New York Times" the president's lawyer Michael Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the election in which they discussed payments to a former "Playboy" model Karen McDougall who said she had an affair with Trump. This conversation was about a month after the parent company of the "National Enquirer," AMI paid McDougall $150,000 for her story and did not publish it in a practice known as catch and kill.
Today's "Washington Post" says that in the 90 second conversation, Cohen can be heard urging Trump to consider buying the rights to McDougal's claims to better control the story according to people familiar with the exchange. Quote, "I think we need to bring this in house." Cohen tells Trump according to one person with knowledge of the recording. The "Post" also reports that Trump was largely silent in the conversation. The recording was a part of the evidence seized by the FBI when it raided Cohen's homes and offices in April. According to "Times" prosecutors want to know if it's evidence of any violation of campaign finance laws. And it would seem to critic the Trump campaign denials of any knowledge about the affair and payment to Karen McDougal when the "Wall Street Journal" first reported the story which was four days before the election.
At that time Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman said this, "We have no knowledge of any of this." She said that Ms. McDougal's claim of an affair with Mr. Trump was totally untrue. The story, at this stage, raises more questions than it answers, not the least of which is why would the president's own lawyers tape him? What other tapes might exist? Will the subject matter be protected by the attorney/client privilege or come under the crime-fraud exception and might the President face a more perilous situation in New York's Second District than he does from the Mueller probe?
From the perspective of prosecutors, perhaps the biggest question is whether any payments were made to protect the president's family or to influence the outcome of the election. Of course the last time the president's voice was heard on an embarrassing tape, the subject matter was more carnal but in that case he emerged unscathed while the person who whom he was speaking lost his job. Whether this ends the same way, well that remains to be seen. Please go to smerconish.com right now and answer today's survey question. Will the contents of Michael Cohen's recordings hurt or help President Trump? I'll give you the results at the end of this hour.
Joining me now a trial lawyer Shanin Specter, named by the "National Law Journal" as one of the top ten litigators in Pennsylvania. He also teaches at Hastings, Stanford, Berkeley, and the Penn law schools. Full disclosure, I'm affiliated with his firm of Klein and Specter. Shanin, I need to show you a remarkable tweet from President Trump from earlier this morning. Put it on the screen.
"Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!"
This brings it to a new level, right? Is there not now a public war between the two?
SHANIN SPECTER, PENNSYLVANIA LAWYER AND PROFESSOR: Yes, Mike, there appears to be. This is a very surprising tweet from the president this morning where he suggests that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, committed a crime.
SMERCONISH: You teach rules of evidence to law students. So take me into the classroom.
Explain to me the attorney-client privilege and the significance of this news about Trump being taped by Michael Cohen about Karen McDougal?
SPECTER: Well, the significance of this tape is that it may indicate there was criminal conduct by either President Trump or Michael Cohen or both of them, and the way we get there is the following. We start with the attorney-client privilege and the attorney-client privilege says a communication between an attorney and a client for the purpose of receiving legal services is privileged from disclosure to others, but there is a narrow exception to the attorney-client privilege and that is where the communication is in furtherance of a crime or of a fraud. And that brings us to this tape that has been described in the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" today, including by the president's attorney, Rudolph Guiliani as concerning a discussion between President Trump and his then attorney Michael Cohen about a claim that was being made against then businessman Donald Trump.
That communication would plainly be an attorney-client communication. Cohen representing Trump in connection with a claim being made by McDougal. So that then raises the question, how can this be lawfully released? It can be lawfully released if the conversation was in furtherance of a crime or a fraud by Mr. Trump or Mr. Cohen or both of them.
SMERCONISH: So the privileged conversation, put up that second slide again, because I love the way he's walked us through it. A privileged conversation may be lawfully disclosed if the court has found it to be in furtherance of a crime or fraud. Shanin, we don't know how this ended up in the public domain, but you are positing the idea that perhaps it's because the special master, looking over the totality of all that evidence seized from Cohen has determined it falls under the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege.
SPECTER: Mike, that's exactly right. The federal judge (inaudible) on April 26th of this year appointed former Federal Judge Barbara Jones to inspect the tape recordings and the documents that were seized from Michael Cohen on April 9th of this year and she has ruled that almost all of these documents and things are not privileged, including a ruling just this past week that over a million such items were not privileged, and it stands to reason that this tape recording may have been one of those items.
SMERCONISH: Okay. Read the tea leaves now. Who would have motivation to put this in the public domain?
SPECTER: Michael Cohen. He would fought be permitted to do --
SPECTER: Well, first of all, he would not be permitted to do so before now, because the communication is privilege absent the finding of the special master that the crime-fraud exception applies. He does have a motivation to put this out publicly, for two reasons. One, to show his cooperation and assistance to the government in building a case against the president, and second if he still entertains the thought that the president might pardon him, the putting of this tape in the public domain is a pressure point on the president that he can do the president great damage.
SMERCONISH: This story as per the tweet and your reaction to it has taken a dramatic turn today. True?
SPECTER: Yes, it really has, Michael. It's extraordinary that the president would suggest that Michael Cohen has committed a crime in relation to the tape recording of this conversation, which, by the way, appears to have occurred in New York state, in which there is one party consent and I'm sure that President Trump knows that, because he's been involved, himself, in tape recording and making statements, going back to when he was a businessman and when he was calling into radio shows and the like.
He knows the law in New York on tape recording others. So not only is he wrong in suggesting that Cohen committed a crime in recording him, but to accuse his former lawyer, who simply say that may have the goods on him committing a crime is just a terrible, terrible idea.
SMERCONISH: Shanin, thanks for your expertise, we appreciate it. SPECTER: You are welcome, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I want to know what you think, go to smerconish.com, cast a ballot on today's survey question, will the contents of Michael Cohen's recording help or hurt or help President Trump? What are your thoughts, tweet me at Smerconish. Go to my Facebook page, I'll read responses throughout the course of the program. What do which have? Smerconish, unfortunately, nothing is going to hurt him.
Nothing may hurt him Daughterer (ph) in the eyes of the 46 percent who put him in office, but there is a whole different constituency here and that's constituency is in the second district of New York, by the way, distinctively different from the Mueller probe, and how this plays in that investigation remains to be seen. One more if we have time.
Smerconish Cohen recorded Trump because he knew who he was dealing with. He also knew it would come to something like this, some day. I keep thinking who else might he have recorded? And might those - beyond the president. He's very loquacious individual, Michael Cohen, and very accessible to members of the media. What might other tapes show? just wondering.
Up ahead, the president received a lot of criticism for what he said in Helsinki, but I think what's more interesting is what he refused to say and I'll tell you what I mean. Plus a show of unity in divisive times, one journalist stands up for another. Why did he do it? He'll tell us. And triplets separated at birth but reunited years later by pure chance. Their astonishing story made into a documentary that's become one of the most talked about films of the year and I will sit down with the director.
SMERCONISH: With the stroke of a Sharpie and the striking of seven words, the president might have told us everything we need to know about his interpretations relative to the investigation of the Russian meddling in the 2016 election. As a result, his post-summit efforts at damage control after Helsinki and the meeting with Vladimir Putin only made matters worse and that was before he invited Putin to the White House. Where to begin? First there was the timing. The president had ample
opportunity to clear up any discrepancy before leaving Finland on Monday, especially where he did interviews with two "Fox News" personalities after the meeting with Putin ended but before departing for home. Instead, there was no effort to say that he had misspoken before Air Force One took off, probably because he said exactly what he meant to the say.
Second the scripted claim that he later made that he had meant to say wouldn't instead of would is belied by the totality of that context. That one sentence was an outlier; it was in keeping with his I don't have all presentation while addressing the media in Putin's presence. In fact, it would have been odd had he both called Putin's denial quote extremely strong and powerful, only to then say I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.
Third, when he read scripted remarks to try to convince the world that he really does recognize Russia's culpability. He couldn't resist going off script and pointing a finger elsewhere. Quote, "Could be other people also," which was to me a reminder of that first presidential debate when he wondered whether the hack of the DNC server was the work of a 400 pound man. But here is the kicker that many have missed; it's what he refused to say aloud that had been spelled out in front of him.
When the President welcomed the media into a meeting he was having with congressional leaders at the White House, he sat at a conference table with four pages of notes displayed in front of him. Of course, members of the media took pictures including Tom Brennan of the "New York Times"whose photographs captured Trump's scripted words included his handwritten notations allowing easy comparison between what was intended and what was delivered.
A comparison of the two is remarkable. On the top of page two, these words appear, quote, "In saying as I have said before, that I accept our intelligence community's conclusion about Russia's meddling in the 2016 election," the president read those words verbatim and then he added what he had written in his own hand, "there was no collusion" the misspelling is his.
He then continued to follow the script.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would, instead of wouldn't the sentence should have been I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia, sort of a double negative. I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.
SMERCONISH: Okay, so far, so good. But then came this deletion, quote, anyone involved this that meddling to justice, stricken, presumably by his own hand clearly he was supposed to say, anybody involved in that meddling either would be or should be brought to justice, but he just couldn't do it. Probably because he doesn't believe it.
His deviation from the script is an admission that he has no desire to see anybody involved in the meddling brought to justice; it's just that simple. The stricken words are a trial lawyer's dream, reminiscent of when Charles Manson's prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, famously lamented that O.J. Simpson, quote, "made sufficiently incriminating statements in his interview with police that alone could have convicted him."
Assuming the president ever sits down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Mueller could spend an afternoon questioning Trump, on this deletion alone. For starters, did you those words, Mr. President? Do you not believe those words, Mr. President? Who do you have in mind when you struck those words Mr. President? To the extent it is proven that Russia meddled in our elections, would you not like to see those perpetrators brought to justice? Who do you not believe should be spared justice for the Russian attack?
You know usually it's what the president says that raises questions. This time, it's the other way around; it's what he would not utter. This week the "New York Times" broke the story that weeks before his inauguration, President Trump was given definitive proof that Putin had interfered with the election. And joining me now is one of the co- authors, David Sanger, he's the "Times" National Security Correspondent with a brand new book, very timely, "The Perfect Weapon, War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age." David, you know the story today, its Michael Cohen presumably having taped Trump. What is Robert Mueller's interest in that issue, if any?
DAVID SANGER, "NEW YORK TIMES" CHIEF WASHING CORRESPONDENT AND AUTHOR: Well it's not clear how interested he is in that but clearly, if you look at what Mueller has done Michael of the past couple of months, he did an indictment of the people who ran the internet research agency. They're the ones in Russia who put out those ads and other commentary on Facebook and social media. Then, ten days ago, he indicted 12 officers of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit that broke into the Democratic National Committee and then work with WikiLeaks, created falls personas, created Guccifer 2.0.
When you read those indictments together, what is missing from it is whether or not they got help from any Americans, and that people who clearly, the Mueller is trying to press for information on that is Paul Manafort goes to trial soon, Rick Gates, his associate. Of course, General Michael Flynn, who was the National Security Adviser, briefly under President Trump. And you'd have to also add Michael Cohen into that, in case he heard any of that along this way.
So this question of the deletions you were referring to gets to what's really the central intrigue that we just don't know the answer to in the Mueller material which is was there, were there Americans and were there Americans who were linked to the campaign or close to President Trump, who somehow interacted with either the GRU, the internet research agency, or other Russians. That takes you to our story this weekend. I'm sorry, go ahead.
SMERCONISH: Something that occurs to me after reading your book is that Mueller is operating largely on a cyber evidentiary trail as he attempts to answer those questions.
SANGER: He certainly is. And if you go into that indictment of the 12 GRU officers, what's remarkable about it is he has transcripts of text, e-mails, other conversations, and I have been told by people in the intelligence community that he actually didn't get that from U.S. intelligence but that, instead, he was able to put it together from foreign intelligence agencies that cooperated and from legal process here in the United States.
Now, that raises an interesting question because so many internet communications go through the infrastructure set up in the U.S., servers in the U.S., or AT&T or Verizon or AOL or you know any number of other internet service providers, Google, of course, and Apple, that it's very possible that the GRU didn't realize that some of these conversations were running through U.S. servers, which ultimately Mueller may have been able get access to.
SMERCONISH: David, I hear a criticism from supporters of the president often from radio callers, who say to me, yeah, but our hands aren't clean and there is an academic at Carnegie Mellon, Dov Levin who I've had on my Sirius XM program who did a study and said between World War II's end and the year 2000, 81 times in 61 nations, we've meddled. What thoughts on that do you have?
SANGER: That's certainly true. The United States has interfered, particularly through the Cold War in elections in Italy in the 1940s, Latin America in the '50s and '60s, Japan, we staged a coup in Iran in the 1950. So certainly on the question of meddling in elections or interfering in elections, the United States does not at all have clean hands.
And you know when you go through the perfect weapon as you and I were discussing earlier this week, Michael, we also don't have clean hands on the question of cyber intrusions into other countries. The only way that our cyber defenses and our cyber offenses work is by getting inside the networks of foreign countries, and of course, that's a violation of law in those countries.
SANGER: So while you could come after the Russians and say, what were you doing inside the network with the DNC, they can easily turn around and say, clearly, you are inside the networks of Russian intelligence and so forth and this is one of the essential problems.
SMERCONISH: That's why I bring it up.
SANGER: Yes, it's one of the essential problems with cyber which is we have wrapped so much secrecy as a government in our cyber operation, offensive and defensive, that we haven't been able publicly debate any ground rules about what is off limits and what is not. So if you and I sat down...
SMERCONISH: I learned that from the book. I was going to say, are you in totally uncharted territory as your book makes clear. Hey, David, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it. Go and enjoy that weather behind you.
SANGER: Yes, it's not so rough out here, Michael. Great to be with you.
SMERCONISH: Still to come the gracious gesture heard around the world. NBC's Hallie Jackson cut off by Sarah Sanders at a White House press conference, the "Hills" Jordan Fabian comes to her defense. Is this a sign of new alliances in the media? He'll tell us next.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, SMERCONISH: An alliance developed regarding the President's ongoing war with the media or so it seemed. First, some background, you will remember that during the President's visit to Chequers, the country home of British Prime Minister, Theresa May, he ignored questions from CNN's own Jim Acosta and chose to call on John Roberts of Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's such dishonest reporting because of course, it happens to be NBC which is probably worse than CNN.
JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Mr. President, since you attacked CNN. Can I ask you a question ...
TRUMP: John Roberts, go ahead, John ...
ACOSTA: ... can I ask you a question ...
TRUMP: No, no, John Roberts, go ahead. CNN's fake news, I don't take questions from CNN. CNN is fakes news, I don't take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So Roberts then asked his question without making any reference to what the President had just said, he was criticized for not calling out the President, but arguably had shown loyalty to his employer first.
Then came this moment on Wednesday, in the White House briefing room, NBC's Hallie Jackson was quizzing Sarah Sanders about the White House claim that when the President had said "no" when asked about whether Putin had interfered in the election, he was just saying, no to anymore questions. Sanders tried to move onto the next questioner. Here's the end of their back and forth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When he sees that he has misspoken, he comes out and he says that.
HALLILE JACKSON, CORRESPONDENT, NBC: ... follow up (inaudible) ...
SANDERS: Jordan, go ahead ...
JACKSON: ... just a follow up on my second question, Sarah.
SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to -- you've asked two. I am going to move on to Jordan ...
JACKSON: I did not -- I had two. You told us the President has been ...
SANDERS: Once again, Hallie, I'm moving on to Jordan. Jordan, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So, she was trying to call on Jordan Fabian of "The Hill." Here's what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN FABIAN, CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: Sorry, Hallie, go ahead if you want to.
JACKSON: Thanks, Jordan.
SANDERS: Actually, I'm going to take a question from Jordan.
JACKSON: ... critical of (inaudible) because I don't think any of us remember, at least I don't remember a time when the President has publicly called up Vladimir Putin.
SANDERS: I think by stating the fact that the President said that Russia interfered with our election, that's a pretty bold call out of another world leader. Jordan, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining me is Jordan Fabian. Hey, Jordan, gutsy on your part, insofar as when you defer maybe Sarah Sanders isn't going to come back to you with another question.
FABIAN: Yes, Michael, that thought entered my mind right after I had done that, but in the moment, I viewed it as a professional courtesy to Hallie. All of us in that room are trying the get our questions in, and follow up questions are a very important part of trying to get to the bottom of some of these answers we're trying to get, so Hallie hadn't finished yet. I've been covering the White House for three and a half years.
Reporters have always had the chance the ask follow up questions in those briefings and I thought it was important for her to be able to finish her line of questioning before the questioning moved to me.
SMERCONISH: So as I was watching you on Wednesday, of course, I was thinking about Jim Acosta and John Roberts. Were you thinking about the way that had gone down in the United Kingdom?
FABIAN: Honestly, I wasn't, Michael. When you are sitting in the chair in the briefing room, you're basically just trying to get your questions straight and make sure you don't sound like a moron on television quite frankly, so I was just trying to ask myself in the mindset to ask my questions to Sarah Sanders and then this interaction happened.
look, I'm not going to lie. We've talked a lot about behind the scenes about press corps unity, about making sure all of us can do our jobs and in that moment, I thought deferring to Hallie was the right thing to do.
SMERCONISH: Okay, and that of course is my big question. Is this a sign of things to come? You just said you've had conservations with other members of the White House press corps, do you think this may unfold in subsequent, in press conferences to come?
FABIAN: I hope so that in the sense that all of us in the White House press corps have respect for one another and do our best to make sure we can all do our jobs. I sort of view it in a little bit of a different light. There is this dynamic now partially because of how the President treats the media that the media is the opposition party and we are tasked with defeating him.
That's not how we view it. We are just trying to do our jobs to report on the President and the White House and tell readers what's going on and really what I tried to do was make sure that one of my colleagues had the chance to do her job and hopefully, in the future, if it happened to me or somebody else, we would pay it forward.
SMERCONISH: Final question, there is something on my mind as to whom you owe a duty. I mean, I would like to think that you owe a duty to the American people, but you actually owe a duty to "The Hill." So if you defer to Hallie, and now Sarah angry at you for having done so, doesn't come back to you, and I'm your editor at "The Hill," I'm going to say to you, "Hey Jordan, I mean, way to take a bullet, but you never got your question and we want you to be on record." Thoughts?
FABIAN: Yes, you hit the nail on the head, Michael. As a reporter in that room, you are serving different masters, so it's a very tough balancing act, when you're in that moment. Luckily for me, I think Sarah did the right thing and called on me afterwards, so I was able to get my question in.
But that's part of the dynamic in the briefing room that I think a lot of viewers don't really get is that when Sarah goes to somebody else and somebody asks a different question, it's not a slight to the other reporter in the room. It's that all of us are covering different stories, and you were trying to get that in. So, again, it's a very tough balancing act, but I am glad it worked out last week.
SMERCONISH: You know when a guest goes on the all the Sunday morning shows, they call it a Ginsburg.
SMERCONISH: Because back in the intern scandal, her lawyer did all the shows. If somebody should defer next week in the White House press corps, maybe they'll be calling it a Fabian, like they pulled a Fabian. They just decided they would surrender their time. I don't know, we'll have to watch. Thank you, Jordan.
FABIAN: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your social media comments. From Facebook, I think we've got some. "Am glad the reporters starting to stick together," says Joan Ingram. Right, Joan, but you get my point that Sarah Sanders is -- she's finished now with Hallie, she goes to Jordan, Jordan says, "No, I'll surrender my time." And Sarah, to her credit, gave Jordan back his time. But she doesn't have to, and if Jordan now gets cut out of that loop, you wonder, has he distinguished -- has he provided his employer with what they're owed?
One more if we've got time. "We'd love to see reporters support each other when Sarah Sanders is trying to shut one down. They should all repeat the same question until she answers. Wouldn't that be interesting?" Patti, if they all came in with the same question and went round and round and round, I think there is going to be more of this.
I mean, the reason I wanted to have Jordan on the program today is that I have a suspicion that there is more to come in this regard. Don't forget to answer today's survey question at smerconish.com, "Will the contents of Michael Cohen's recording hurt or help President Trump?"
Still to come, triplets -- separated at birth, then reunited at age 19 by sheer coincidence. Their astonishing story is now a critically acclaimed documentary, but the story is a troubling one. I'm about to talk to the director.
SMERCONISH: Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman -- all adopted at birth and were not aware of each other's existence, so far interesting, but not remarkable. But then at age 19, the three boys finally met through a crazy set of circumstances and quickly realized they were identical triplets. It started off as a heartwarming tale that attracted media interest, but then a much bigger, a much darker story emerged. A story told in a new documentary that has earned rave reviews. "Three Identical Strangers," which is a hit in theaters. It will air
on CNN in January. Director Tim Wardle joins me now. Hey, Tim, I don't know if the scale is to four stars or five stars, but I'm giving you the max. I thought it was terrific. I have to say I laughed and I cried. I mean, you really take us on an emotional roller coaster.
TIM WARDLE, DIRECTOR: Thank you, yes. That's what I'm hoping the film does. It really encompasses a wide range of emotions. You go to a movie theater and watch it with people. They are laughing at the start and then they gasp, and they start crying, and by the end, they are pretty angry. So, yes, I am pleased it is being so well received.
SMERCONISH: I'm not going to give it all away, but Bobby goes off to college. He is driving an old beat up Volvo. If you had asked him, he would have said the he had one sibling, he gets to school, a number of people address him by a different name and very quickly, the pieces fall together. It turns out he has a twin brother and the twin brother had been on that same campus one year prior. Then what?
WARDLE: Well, then the two brothers finds each other and they celebrate. They're on the front of a lot of newspapers, particularly in the New York area and the very next day, they get a call from someone who says, "I'm reading about you guys in the paper and I look just like you. I can see a picture. I look just like you. I think I'm the third. I think we're triplets."
SMERCONISH: And they were triplets and this was not by happenstance, this was design that they would grow up in very different environments?
WARDLE: Yes, and the film kind of explores what happens both after the three of them are united, and they become famous in New York and around the world, but also looks at the circumstances behind the separation. As you say, it wasn't just a random event.
SMERCONISH: And may I also say that despite all of your work and labor in bringing this to a screen, there is a big piece of this we still don't know, locked away at Yale University is the real story, the full story?
WARDLE: Absolutely, there is a treasure trove of documents relating to the brothers and other twins that were also separated, that are kind of locked away in a vault there until 2065, now we believe.
SMERCONISH: Is there any prospect that because of your movie, those records will be released sooner than 2065?
WARDLE: Well, the brothers because of the film and some of the work my producers did, the brothers have got access to some materials relating to them, heavily redacted photocopies. It's very hard to know exactly what they've got, but I am hopeful that as a result of this film, the organizations involved and who can grant access will be much more transparent in talking about this study. SMERCONISH: Again, not trying to give away too much, but because this
was all by virtue of some experiment, for a lack of a better description, is there any argument that can be made that the ends justify the means? Did anything come of this? Did we learn anything about three identical twins, raised if different socioeconomic backgrounds?
WARDLE: I think that's the question at the heart of the film. I mean, I think various people make an argument that this experiment was justified in the area it occurred in, and was started in, in the 50s and 60s when there were a lot of rogue kind of scientific, well, psychology experiments. It was kind of the Wild West of psychology, things like the Milgram Obedience Experiment and later the Stanford Prison Experiment, which would not pass any kind of ethical test today.
But for me, the point you raised about the knowledge -- as far as we're aware, no solid knowledge was gained through all the damage that was done in this experiment. So it remains in my eyes pretty unjustifiable.
SMERCONISH: Let's call it five. I'm giving you five stars, well done, and thanks for being here.
WARDLE: Thank you, we're at 96 on Rotten Tomato, thank you very much for having me on.
SMERCONISH: And you deserve it. Hey, still to come, your best and worst social media comments. We've got a tweet on this. Let's see it. "I'm adopted, discovered my mother and two brothers live in same city as me. I've known my brother unbeknownst since 1984. My mother lives three brocks from my kids." Hey Bruce, you've got to see this movie. Everybody has to see this movie. As I say, it begins as a heartwarming tale and then it takes a more sinister direction. And there is a lot we still don't know, but thumbs up.
It's your last chance to vote before we give you the final results of today's survey question at smerconish.com. Will the contents of Michael Cohen's recording harm or help President Trump? Go vote.
SMERCONISH: Hey, time to see how you responded to the survey question today at smerconish.com. Will the contents of Michael Cohen's recording help or hurt President Trump? Survey says 9,879 votes cast; 82% say hurt, 18% said help. You know that Rudy Giuliani in his capacity as the President's attorney said that this would exculpate, that this would benefit the President when all was aid and done.
And I would point out as I said at the outset of the program that "The Washington Post" today said that you really hear Michael Cohen's voice and not much from the President. So, time will tell.
What else do we have? Social media reaction to today's program. Put it up on the screen. "Smerconish, maybe Trump struck that line because it had grammatical errors just like he was saying no to answering more questions." Hey, Bosscat, so much has been said about Helsinki and appropriately so, and of course, the President then on Tuesday tried to get a mulligan by speaking to the media and launched the whole semantic would versus wouldn't.
The seven words that he would not say are I think a trial lawyer's dream and great fodder for Mueller if he ever questions the President. The President refused to say that he wants brought to justice. He wants to see brought to justice. Anybody involved in that Russian meddle, and he needs to explain why. Why didn't he say it?
"He crossed out the sentence because he is afraid of an indictment against himself." I guess Ellen what you're saying is he didn't want to say he wants them brought to justice because that would mean he'd be brought to justice, at least that's your interpretation.
Give me another one. What have we got. "Smerconish, if the press corps unites, the White House will end the press briefings." True, Tony, but what if more follow Jordan's lead at other events like when you saw Acosta and John Roberts. What if John Roberts in the backyard at Chequers had said, "No, I want to give me colleague from CNN who used to work here the opportunity to ask his questions." I think it is the start of something, but we'll find out.
One more if I've got time. "Smerconish, what does the tape matter? His supporters could see him shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still would not abandon him. Might be true. But the question is not what his supporters will do or think, that pertains to what happens in 2020. It's what the Southern District of New York will think ...
SMERCONISH: ... when they evaluate that evidence. You can catch up with us anytime at CNN Go and On Demand. I'll see you next week.