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Technical Glitch Delays Voting Results in Pakistan; Trump Blasts Cohen over Secret Audio Recording; Scientists: Evidence of Liquid Water on Red Planet. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired July 26, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, from deadly fires in Greece to Yosemite National Park, temperatures are soaring and breaking records from Europe to California.
It's opposite day at the White House. The president getting tough on Russia while embracing the E.U. agreeing to zero tariffs and setting back from a trade war with the Europeans.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
The death toll from the worst wildfires in Greece in more than a decade has risen to 81 and will likely climb further. Rescuers are searching through charred cars and buildings trying to account for all the missing, among them twin nine-year-old girls.
More than a dozen fires swept through the Attica region on Monday moving so quickly, many victims simply couldn't outrun the flames fueled by strong winds as well as hot dry weather. Dozens of homes have been destroyed and entire villagers wiped out.
CNN's Melissa Bell reports now from the fire zone and she has heard from survivors who have lost almost everything they own and from one official who says as the fires rapidly spread, mistakes were made.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As morning breaks over, Attica, a scene of utter devastation. The survivors assessed the damage from the deadly fires and want to know why the costs were so terribly high.
Mati to the east of Athens has borne the brunt of the losses, an entire village wiped off the face of the earth. Slowly its survivors have been returning to what's left of their homes.
CHRISTIANA FRAGLOU, FIRE SURVIVOR: I'm completely devastated. This is my mom's house. I taught at the beginning that she was dead because she managed to go to another little beach with our dog. We saved one dog. We lost three.
BELL: Like Christiana, Dimitra only survived by heading to the sea. She spent two and a half hour treading water, but the return home she says has been the hardest part.
DIMITRA STATHOPOLOU, FIRE SURVIVOR: It was a paradise and now it's the ugliest place in the world.
BELL: This was the scene outside Dimitra's house. Cars stopped in their tracks as the fires began. People died in them or trying to flee them. Locals are angry that no evacuation plan appears to have been in place. We took their anger to the mayor of Mati.
VAGELIS BOURNOUS, MAYOR OF RAFINA AND PIKERMI (through translator): There was no evacuation order was the wind was coming from the east. Also, the main body of the Fire Brigade was in Kinetta, 40 kilometers away. The fire was underestimated. And finally, all the above were mistakes that resulted in our mourning so many human lives.
BELL: But for the people of Mati, those who have survived, the answers from the authorities are too little and come far too late. Melissa Bell, CNN, Mati.
VANIER: Let's go over now to Derek Van Dam, with more on this. And of course, the outlook for the next couple of days is what everyone is looking at and of course, beyond that as well.
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, you can see that by the satellite image that we are looking from basically a bird's eye view of the fires that broke out in and around Athens. How strong the winds were just directing the smoke from these particular wildfires.
So, there are some good news and some bad news. We do have a few thunderstorms that have popped up across the region. That means rain. So, we want to help quench some of these fires and the dry conditions, but of course, thunderstorms have lightening which can trigger new wild fires.
And also, thunderstorms have a lot of wind associated with them, so they can make fire fighting efforts very erratic and very difficult for the personnel on the ground. This is all thanks to a low pressure system that's located across the Black Sea.
It's helping usher in some moisture across Greece and there's chances of rain fall. So, we'll take what we can get. Of course, we want to keep those thunderstorms without the lightening, right?
Athens three-day forecast through the course of the weekend calls for wet weather for Thursday and for Friday with a general drying trend on Saturday. The winds, however, could pick up once again later into the weekend. So, something we'll monitor very closely.
Another story we're monitoring is the western parts of the U.S. An iconic national park, Yosemite National Park in California. This is just east of San Francisco. Parts of it has been closed down. Check out some of these aerial photos and videos coming out of the region.
You can see some of the personnel trying to battle the blaze there. We have just shy of 17,000 hectares that have been burned so far.
[00:05:08] Twenty six percent containment and get this, John, over 3,000 people trying to help contain this fire. Very difficult conditions with extreme heat across the southwestern U.S. and of course, our ongoing draught that continues to impact much of the region. A lot to talk about across the world here, John. Back to you.
VAUSE: The weather is not friendly right now in many places. Derek, thank you. California, police had a detained a man suspected of starting the so-called Cranston fire east of Los Angeles.
Officials say that blaze is burning out of control sweeping across 1,900 hectares in the San Bernardino National Forest. Homes and other structures have been destroyed and several towns are under mandatory evacuation order.
Meantime, fire emergency is forced to close some parts of the Yosemite National Park. We just told you it's been burning there for almost two weeks now. Officials are hoping to reopen the entire park by Sunday.
All of this as California struggles with a record heat wave. Death Valley with a record high of 52.7 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. It is hot out there.
Nick Watt joins us now on the phone near the Cranston fire. Nick, the last report on that fire to the east of us here in L.A. Zero percent contained and officials were expanding the number of mandatory evacuations. What have you got?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Exactly. They are trying to avoid a disaster here, similar to the disasters that we've seen elsewhere in Greece, for example. The mandatory evacuations this afternoon from the idle wild area that's up in the mountains just to the west of Palm Springs, that desert resort down there.
We have just heard that a man has now been arrested on suspicious of starting multiple fires. Driving on Highway 74 in those mountains closed to the public right. We can see old grown trees burning in the darkness and firefighters working through the night trying to contain this fire.
(Inaudible) 4,700 acres right now and as we speak zero percent contained. They have stopped most of the flights. The wind has also appeared to have dropped, which will be helping them in their efforts to contain these flames -- John.
VAUSE: Nick, thank you for the update there on the Cranston fire. Clearly, there is a lot going on across the region right now. Our Nick Watt there on the line.
More than 10,000 people have been affected by the collapse of a dam in Southern Laos. This dam collapsed after a heavy rain fall in the region. Those who have been impacted by all this may actually soon get to see the damage.
A government official has told CNN the water could soon recede allowing people to return to their villages maybe in the coming days. Six villages were completely submerged. Survivors could be seen clinging on to rooftops while others paddled through the flooded areas on makeshift rafts and boats.
The prime minister has visited victims and calling it the country's worst disaster in decades. At least 26 people are confirmed dead, more than 100 missing. More villages remain under threat.
Live now to Matt Rivers standing by for us in Beijing. Matt, let's start with the good news. The water levels expected to fall, but right now, is it known just how many people are still waiting to be rescued?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. At this point, we're not sure. This is still very much an ongoing situation, John, and the U.N. has said it's really impossible to know exactly how many people have been affected and exactly how many people are still waiting to be rescued.
Some of the numbers that we have gotten so far, though, as you mentioned, 26 people confirmed dead so far. That number expected to rise. A 131 people remain missing at this point. The government says it is still a search and rescue operation, not a recovery operation.
But still among those people, we are expecting that death toll to rise. Six thousand people have been displaced so far according to the U.N. and nearly 12,000 in total have been affected.
When you see those kind of numbers, again, this is a fluid situation, but when you see these numbers, it makes sense when you think about the amount of water that has inundated these communities.
The equivalent of 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water descended on the villages with absolutely zero warning. So, that's why you are hearing terms, phrases from government officials calling this one of worst disasters Laos has faced in decades.
This is a country that is not highly developed, and so this rescue operation really in its beginning stages. Even though the water is going down, weather reports according to the mystery that's in charge of the rescue, John, are not looking good. So, if it does start to rain, that obviously makes things harder.
[00:10:07] VAUSE: Yes. Matt, we appreciate the update. Matt Rivers there live for us with the very latest there from Laos.
State television in Pakistan is reporting that the Cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan's party leads in the general election. That's an estimate based on preliminary results.
Technical problems have slowed the vote count, which is now being done manually. The head of Pakistani's Election Commission says there is no conspiracy behind the slow count and has rejected accusations from the leaders of Khan's two main opposition parties that the election was rigged.
Well, for the very latest, CNN's Sophia Saifi is live in Islamabad. So, Sophia, these results are trickling in, about a third are being counted. The other question is whether Imran Khan and his PTI Party can secure a majority in the national assembly or maybe they will be shopping around for a coalition partner.
SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, John, it's been an interesting 12 hours, more than 12 hours actually. Polls closed yesterday on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Normally in the previous two election cycles that have happened in Pakistan because you must understand this is only the second time in the entire history of the country that there is a consecutive transfer of democratic power in Pakistan.
Keeping that in mind, normally as per historic results, they usually come out by around midnight, by 2:00 a.m., we're seeing victory speeches. That however was not the case last night. We had complete chaos. We had different channels stating different results.
Obviously, they were projecting Imran Khan in the lead and you did have fragmented results coming out from the Election Commission of Pakistan on state media, which was information that we were able to pick up showing that Imran Khan was in the lead.
The lead enough to be in the lead, but not enough to actually make a majority government. So, it does appear that he will be shopping around, but there still hasn't been an official announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
And the reasons that they are giving is that there was a technical glitch. They're saying that they are manually handling the result counting, but we don't really know what that really means.
Is it being hand counted? Are they doing some other things? They then accuse the weather, but there were clear skies all over the country yesterday. So, you know, Shivas Sharif's party, the PMLN and the Punjab, the party of (inaudible), the PPP, son of former slain prime minister, (inaudible), they have all been crying out that this has been rigging.
That the military has been involved. There have been accusations of pre-poll rigging even before the polls opened. There has been -- this has been a very dirtily fought election. As of right now, we still don't have a proper definite result from the Election Commission of Pakistan. Even though, Imran Khan is expected to be making a victory speech just in a couple of hours.
VAUSE: OK, maybe that victory speech might have to wait for just a little bit longer. He's waiting, what about 22 years for this moment. So, I guess a couple of more hours won't do him any harm. Sophia, thanks for the update. We appreciate it.
This just in, 100 firefighters are responding to a blaze in Northwest London. Flames can be seen shooting from the roof and windows of an apartment house in West Amsted. Witnesses described waking to the sound of windows shattering.
London Fire Brigade says about 50 people have been evacuated from the building. The fire is believed to have started in a flat on the fourth floor, but no word on what may have caused it. All of this starting just a few hours ago.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM L.A., Vladimir Putin will not be coming to Washington after all, at least this year. We'll tell you why.
And the United States and its European trading partners agreeing not to impose any new tariffs, at least for now, while they work on a new trade deal.
VAUSE: It's (inaudible) to Washington for Vladimir Putin will not be visiting the White House this fall if he was even coming at all. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said the White House has decided to wait for a second summit until the, quote, "Russian witch hunt is over."
That witch hunt could be going for a long time actually. The White House seems to believe the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. election will be over by the end of the year, but there is no indication from the special counsel that that time line is even relevant.
Bolton says Mr. Putin will be re-invited once the investigation is done. Even so the Kremlin hasn't actually accepted President Trump's invitation for a second meeting, which was offered last week on Twitter. Instead, it was suggested the two leaders actually might meet on the sidelines of another big international summit.
Jill Dougherty of the Woodrow Wilson Center joins us now from Seattle. Jill is a CNN contributor and our former Moscow bureau chief. We're lucky to have you, Jill. Thank you.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: At this point, is it possible to know if it was the White House that decided to postpone the meeting because the Kremlin was about to or maybe formally turned down last week's invitation.
Earlier this week, Moscow appeared less than enthusiastic about another gettogether or was this just the White House responding to the criticism from the Republican lawmakers over a second summit with Putin?
DOUGHERTY: You know, I think -- we don't know specifically whether the Russians said, no, we're not coming. But we do know that the Russians were not very eager, let's put it that way to accept the invitation. I know that the way that (inaudible), who is the aid to the president, a very seasoned diplomat, sophisticated guy and the way he answered this was to say, you know, it is good that we should meet, you know. The president should meet. We should have a meeting.
There are no preps taking place at this point, but maybe we could do it some other place. And then he mentioned, for example, Argentina, the G20. I think that's in November. And then he also said, maybe better to wait until the dust settles.
So, I think what you are getting is a rather polite way of saying President Putin does not want to come to the United States with the political situation that we have right now. The president firestorm of criticism about his performance at the summit certainly Congress is in no mood to be welcoming to President Putin.
It would be very, very difficult and it could be a mind field, John, because, you know, the Russians really although I don't think they totally understand the American political system. I think they know plenty enough to realize that this is very unpredictable.
What the president would do? Let's say that Vladimir Putin did come, what would Donald Trump do? I mean, he has although I doubt he would do this to Putin, but other international leaders, he has pretty much dissed them. So, you don't know what he would do when the Russian president came anyway. So, I think --
VAUSE: He does seem to have a lot of nice things to say about Vladimir Putin. He doesn't often have anything bad. I don't think he ever has anything bad to say about Putin. So, this, you know, the uninvite him, I guess, is significant, but Secretary Mike Pompeo appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
Russia was the major issue there for lawmakers in particular intelligence suggesting Moscow is planning to interfere in the November midterm elections. This is how Mike Pompeo responded to those questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president disclosed what he said to Vladimir Putin about Russian interference in our elections. He said that he is confident as a result of that conversation, Vladimir understands that it won't be tolerated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish he has said that in public in Helsinki.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[00:20:06] VAUSE: OK. So, now we know what at least part, I guess, what those two leaders spoke about in private. But apart from the very chummy Vladimir reference, he had Barack Obama before Vladimir to one side had a similar conversation. That didn't do a whole lot of good.
DOUGHERTY: No, it didn't and you know, we have to figure out the context of that comment. I mean, the president, the American president may well have said that, but it feels kabuki theater because he's already indicated, you know, or at least asked did you do it and Vladimir Putin certainly knows that the United States and this administration do not want him to do this. But it hasn't stopped it. So, I don't think that that has much weight.
VAUSE: You know, it's been an interesting day at the White House. They've been getting tough on Russia. The president is making nice with the E.U., but we also had an incident with our White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins. She was banned from a Rose Garden event because the deputy chief of staff, Bill Shine, did not like the questions she had asked the president.
She was the pool reporter at an earlier event. The questions were about Michael Cohen and his secret recordings. From your experience of working in places like Russia where there is autocratic leaders who do like tough question and they love those supple questions.
How does this all sort of equate -- how do you see what happened at the White House in the context of how things are done in Moscow?
DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, John, I covered the White House actually for six years and then I also worked in Moscow for nine years. You know, the White House, this is kind of standard operating procedure. I know it sounded chaotic on that tape. It sounded like a lot of yelling.
But when the pool goes into the oval office and especially with this president, that's your one shot probably of the day to get any type of comment. And the president often does respond to questions.
So, I think that that idea that you would say we don't -- it was not an appropriate question or that she was yelling or anything is absolutely ridiculous. There are no proper questions for the president.
He needs a responsible professional journalist who go in there and this is a pool reporter, not just CNN, representing all of the networks in there. That was a legitimate question.
And as far as yelling, everyone yells. If that's only you can get heard and sometimes that will be effective. If the preside doesn't want to answer it, he doesn't have to answer. You know, I know that it is more controlled in Russia, but not even Russia (inaudible) any country that has major control over the media or a despotic ruler, cetera, that's precisely what would happen.
The ruler would say, you know, thou shall not ask that question and it would be over. So, I think that this is very serious, actually.
VAUSE: Yes, it is, Jill. It's good to know your perspective. I always remember you as this great Moscow bureau chief. I always forget -- I fail to remember sometimes your time at the White House as well, so your experience is invaluable. So, thank you very much.
DOUGHERTY: Thank you. VAUSE: For more on this, joining us now former Los Angeles city councilwoman, Wendy Greuel, and we also have Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institute, former foreign policy adviser to the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Okay. So, Anti-Russia stuff, keep remembering 11 days after Donald Trump stood on the world stage next to Vladimir Putin casting doubt on U.S. intelligence and siding with Putin and his denials of election interference.
We now have this report from Reuters. U.S. President Donald Trump will convene a high-level meeting on election security this week with tough security officials on the White House National Security Council.
Lanhee, we don't know the agenda, but it would be hard to hold a meeting -- that kind of meeting without actually mentioning Russia and that could be quite confronting for Donald Trump?
LANHEE CHEN, LECTURER IN PUBLIC POLICY AND LAW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, look Russia is front and center, John. They are clearly if you look at all of the threats that this electoral system here in the U.S. faces, there is absolutely no question that Russia is at the top. They have been fermenting this kind of unrest and activity in democracies throughout Eastern Europe for decades.
And frankly, this activity in the United States we saw in 2016 was just a prelude to what we might see in 2018 and beyond. So, yes, absolutely, it's impossible to have this this discussion without citing the Russians what they have done and what they plan to do.
VAUSE: Yes, it is quite a turnaround for this president. Also, a turn around the disinviting of Vladimir Putin to the White House. Here's the statement from the National Security adviser, John Bolton. regarding postponing that meeting.
"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over. So, we've agreed that it will be after the 1st of the year."
Wendy, the decision has been welcomed by many lawmakers, but also, what do you make of the tone of the statement? What does it say about the administration and timing? Who says the Mueller investigation will be done by then?
[00:25:11] WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCILWOMAN: Well, I think we're having the White House and the Trump surrogates out there, you know, speaking from both sides of their mouth. Is it a witch hunt or is it something that he actually said Putin you shouldn't have done this and did that in private or when he came back and said whether as would or wouldn't.
You know, this now having a meeting on our security is a long time coming. I mean, this has been talked about since the election in 2016 and when he became president in 2017. It is now almost August of 2018 that he wants to have this conversation. I think that it's, you know, a little too little too late, but it's time to focus on it. But I think we are not sure exactly from which perspective the president is coming from.
VAUSE: You know, I guess, you know, maybe it's too little too late, but maybe it's better late than never because we did have this big push back against Russia day on Wednesday as the White House, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appearing before the Senate.
He made this big defense of Donald Trump when it came to how they've dealt with Russia. Here's one exchange that Pompeo had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: So, I just really want to point out and we've had this from previous administrations but not as much as we're hearing today that what Congress is requiring you to do, all of a sudden you found religion and are taking credit for it. But in reality, you haven't implemented one time the sanctions that have been passed by Congress.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator, first of all, that's not true. We've passed a number of sanctions under the (inaudible) provisions and it is also true at least to my best recollection of the Constitution is the president signed that law as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Lanhee, that's an exaggeration by Pompeo and that's being kind.
CHEN: Well, look, I think that clearly what this administration is trying to do is to present themselves as having been tougher on Russia than previous administrations. Now, the challenge is there is the rhetorical side of it and there is the policy side of it.
I think on the policy side of it you can make the case that they have done a number of things to challenge Russia. The problem is rhetorically, the more that you hug Vladimir Putin, the harder it's going to be for people to understand the posture of the administration.
I think that's the challenge. It is certainly the case that the previous administration did not do nearly enough to check the Russian threat. But we are where we are now, and this administration has plentiful opportunities not just in policy.
But in rhetoric to show the world that we understand exactly who Vladimir Putin is, we understand the threat he poses, and I think that would be big step forward for this administration to take.
VAUSE: OK. Well, there was no hugging of Putin on Wednesday, but there was some hugging of the president of the European Council with Donald Trump at the White House. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So, we had a big day, very big. We met right here at the White House to launch a new phase in the relationship between the United States and the European Union, a phase of close friendship, of strong trade relationships in which both of us will win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Wendy, here is that man, the president of the United States, who two weeks ago described the European Union as foes? I guess, if nothing else, Wendy, this meeting with Jean Claude Juncker set the White House and the president have limits because he did not start that trade war that everyone had feared. He did not impose tariffs and said they would work together to reduce tariffs, which would be good news at the very least.
GREUEL: Well, I think having that discussion and sitting at the table to talk about it is important. I think the pressure has been mounting from so many of the people who are impacted by the current tariffs that are out there. Those soy bean farmers, the Republican senators who represent some of those states who are being negatively impacted by the tariffs.
This kind of conversation should have happened before he went out and started to threaten people. But we're now in at least a step in the right direction to have those conversations. But people are still going to lose their jobs and lose money because of the tariffs that have been imposed.
VAUSE: Very quickly, Lanhee, is this a moment for the U.S. president as near Damascus on his journey, something (inaudible) around him. He's down on the ground and he heard a voice and it said, Mr. President, the Russians are not your friends, but the European are or is this just about politics?
Reassuring rattled Republicans after the summit last week that put the hell into Helsinki that Donald Trump really is, you know, looking out for the United States and he's not in the pocket of the Russians?
CHEN: I think it is two things. I think it is politics and it's economics. On the politics side, obviously assuaging some Republicans who believed that the protectionist trade policies are deeply problematic for the country. Sort of soothing their nerves, moving forward, and showing them that they can have unity on this topic.
The economics frankly, John, the U.S. economy is going to be under threat if these tariffs continue and there's a recognition that threat could of course place pressure politically on Republicans in the midterms elections and eventually, the President, when he runs for re- election.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: OK, Lanhee and Brandy, thank you so much for both being with us, and for putting up with my road to Damascus, thanks guys.
CHEN: Thank you. VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, President Trump has finally responded to the secret recordings by his former fixer, Michael Cohen, while our next guest says it's actually a whole lot worse than anyone actually realizes.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour. The death toll from Greece's wildfires has risen to 81 and is expected to continue to climb.
Rescuers are searching charred cars and apartment blocks trying to account for the missing. Dozens of homes have been destroyed by the flames which were fuelled by strong winds and hot, dry weather.
State television in Pakistan is reporting cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan's party leads in the general elections. That's based on preliminary results. Technical problems have slowed the vote count which is now being done manually. Leaders of Khan's two main rival parties now say the vote was rigged.
The White House said it's decided to put off a second summit with Vladimir Putin until next year. President Trump had invited the Russian leader to Washington this fall but the Kremlin didn't immediately accept.
The U.S. administration says it will re-invite Mr. Putin when the Russia investigation or Russia witch-hunt, as it calls it, is done.
Donald Trump, blasting his former fixer, Michael Cohen, after the release of a secret recording which has both men discussing a pay-up for hush money. Mr. Trump tweeted this, what kind of lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this the first, never heard of it before? Why was this tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins as you mentioned earlier, tried to ask the President about the recording.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN REPORTER: Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
COLLINS: Mr. President, did Michael Cohen betray you?
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And after, that, the White House banned Collins from President Trump's Rose Garden event with the head of the European Commission. Officials told her, her questions were inappropriate. And she was shouting.
Joining me now, Attorney Seth Abramson and also a professor at the University of New Hampshire, in Manchester, Seth, it's been a while, so it's good to see you.
ATTY. SETH ABRAMSON, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, MANCHESTER: Good to talk with you, John.
[00:35:07] VAUSE: OK. I want to talk about this tape because one of the big reasons why this tape seems so potentially damaging to the President is because in all likelihood, this indicates Cohen made a lot more tapes. The FBI reportedly has at least, a dozen, which as far as the President is concerned, could have recorded any conversation he has ever had with Michael Cohen.
ABRAMSON: Well, let me say first that I do agree with President Trump on one point. While it may be legal because it's one party consent in New York for an attorney to secretly record a client, it is unethical because you are creating a serious jeopardy to the client that the client doesn't know about.
And certainly, it's not something I ever would have done as an attorney. But what I will say is that we now have evidence from this first tape.
And as you said, there will be more tapes, that President Trump conspired with his so-called fixer to receive campaign contributions in the first few weeks before the election, I guess two months before the election that he had no intention of reporting to the federal government. And that's quite serious.
VAUSE: OK. I want to get to some of those details and what, sort of, European proves what. OK, so let's start with this, sort of, contentious issue of cash versus check and what exactly the President said or didn't say. Here's his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, putti up his defense. Listen to this.
RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: The transcript makes it quite clear at the end that President Trump says "don't pay with cash." Cohen then interrupts and says, no, no, no, I got it. And then you hear (INAUDIBLE) slow it down, check.
And then Cohen followed it with no, no, no, and then quickly cuts off the tape which indicates exactly (INAUDIBLE) was saying, that Cohen doesn't want to record because it was too exculpatory from the point of view of the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, Giuliani says slow down the tape, it's easier to understand. So, we have. Listen to this.
BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COHEN: When it comes time for the financing, which will be --
TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?
COHEN: Well, I'll have to pay him something.
TRUMP: Don't pay with cash.
COHEN: No, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.
(END OF AUDIOTAPE)
TRUMP: I still heard cash, not -- don't pay with cash, but so, how is this question of cash versus check relevant, especially when it comes to, you know, motives for Donald Trump?
ABRAMSON: Well, John, you heard cash, I heard cash. I think most of the country heard cash. The reason that people consider it significant is that suggests that the President didn't want his payments to David Pecker or to Michael Cohen to be traceable.
And that's certainly significant from a certain standpoint, but ultimately, the cash-check issue is immaterial. He was going to receive either a benefit from AMI that he was not going to pay for at all.
And certainly, Rudy Giuliani has pointed out that no payment was made, which means you receive the benefit from AMI, from David Pecker, if that's true, or he was going to reimburse Michael Cohen through cash or check via a shell corporation, in which case, once again, he's acknowledging that he received a benefit.
Nobody in America believes whether it was a cash payment or a check payment. That President Trump had any intention nor did Michael Cohen of reporting this to the federal government. That's just beyond (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: OK, here's another portion of the tape. It's a discussion about The New York Times trying to unseal records of Trump's divorce from his first wife.
COHEN: We got served from the New York Times. I told you this will look like it was an unseal divorce papers with Ivana. We're fighting it. Kasowitz is going to --
TRUMP: They should never be able to get that.
COHEN: Never, never. Kasowitz doesn't -- don't ever be able -- they don't have a --
TRUMP: Get me a coke, please.
COHEN: They don't have a legitimate purpose.
TRUMP: A woman that doesn't (INAUDIBLE) COHEN: Correct. Yes. For about two, three weeks now.
TRUMP: All you have to do is delay it.
COHEN: Even after that, it is not ever going to be opened.
(END OF AUDIOTAPE)
VAUSE: OK, so Trump says all you got to do is delay it for -- and you can't really work it out, he could've said days, weeks, months, years, we don't know. Why does that establish some kind of time line here and how does that go to motive?
ABRAMSON: Well, the argument that Trump supporters are making is that this proposed payment to AMI or reimbursement to Michael Cohen was too far in advance of the 2016 election for it to constitute an unreported campaign contribution.
Obviously, we can't take that very seriously because this was September 2016, just two months before the election. But as you just pointed out from that aspect of the audiotape from Michael Cohen, there was a conversation between -- in fact, the entire conversation between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump was about the election, Michael Cohen was engaged in election-related activities for Donald Trump.
And in that conversation about the New York Times and Ivana Trump's divorce filings, they're clearly talking about delaying the revelation of those filings which include a rape allegation from Ivana Trump that she later retracted.
So that it will not come out in the weeks before the election. Everything about that part of the tape is inculpatory as to an election law front.
[00:40:09] VAUSE: OK, very quickly, Cohen refers to a David on the tape, at this point. Here he is.
COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up --
TRUMP: Give it to me.
COHEN: And I have spoken to Allen.
(END OF AUDIOTAPE)
VAUSE: Yes, that could be David Pecker, the publisher of the National Inquirer, you know, the magazine which held the story on what the rights for Karen McDougal. It could also be a David Daniels, the -- or Dennison, rather, which is, you know, Trump's alias.
And these things give a really good example of why Cohen's cooperation here is so vital. You can have the tapes, but Cohen can give the context and the background and the history of everything.
ABRAMSON: That's right. As you said earlier, John, there are going to be more tapes. There are at least 11 more. This event suggests that there's been a final burning of the bridges between Cohen and Donald Trump.
And that particular section that you just played, the idea of all of the info regarding our friend David, whether that's referring to David Pecker or David Dennison, that phrase, all of it, is something that Michael Cohen repeats several times during the tape, suggesting that there is more information.
It's not just Karen McDougal, it's not just Stormy Daniels, there's a suggestion on the tape that there may been a "handling" of Ivana Trump, to make sure that she didn't say anything in the weeks prior to the election. But it sounds like from that phrase, all of it, there are other women.
And Steve Bannon previously told Michael Wolff in Fire and Fury, though, there's of course all the controversy surrounding that book. Steve Bannon did say that Michael Cohen had paid off many women over the years. So there may be other issues other than this.
VAUSE: I thought the number was over a hundred, in Fire and Fury?
ABRAMSON: I think that's what he said.
VAUSE: Yes. OK.
ABRAMSON: I think (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: That's a big number. Seth, good to see you. Thank you.
ABRAMSON: Thank you, John.
VAUSE: Coming up here, it's time to say there is evidence of an underground lake on Mars. So, does that mean there is life on the red planet? And can we go there and live there?
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) with what could've been a good discovery telling researchers report they have found evidence of a lake of water on Mars. It's under the southern polar ice cap, spans about 20 kilometers. Experts say salts-like magnesium and calcium may be keeping the water from freezing.
The breakthrough does not prove the existence of life on Mars but it does now at least show scientists where they should be looking or not. We don't really know. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You are watching CNN.
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