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Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Stirs Hope After Early Trials; Trump Denies Cohen Claim He Knew of Trump Tower Meeting Ahead of Time; Rep. Eric Swalwell Talks Cohen's Claim on Trump Tower Meeting, Mueller's Russia Probe, Current Russian Election Meddling; Putin Invites Trump to Moscow, Ready to Come to Washington for 2nd Summit; What Years of Loyalty Got Michael Cohen; Trump Issues State of Emergency as 30,000 Evacuate as Flames Threaten California Neighborhoods; Trump's Push to Drill in Alaska Wildlife Refuge Sparks Heated Debate; Is Trump's War Against Media Worse Than Nixon's. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 28, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll have to see how this pans out. It's got to go through bigger trials and more locations and see if the results stay the same. And that could still take several years.
But, Fred, look, there's some five million people in this country with Alzheimer's. The numbers are expected to triple over the next 30 years, so any possibility of hope here will obviously generate a lot of buzz -- Fred?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hope is always key.
Thank you so much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWROOM, with Ana Cabrera, from New York.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Fred.
And thank you for being with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.
Somebody is lying, but the question is, who are you going to believe, someone not really known for telling the truth or someone on record with more than 3,000 false or misleading statements since becoming president of the United States? Michael Cohen, the president's one- time confidant, his fixer, his lawyer, he says Trump knew in advance that Russians were meeting with campaign officials in Trump Tower before Election Day to hand over dirt on Hillary Clinton. President Trump has repeatedly denied knowing that such a meeting happened. He denied it again on Twitter just yesterday.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, near the president's golf resort where he's spending the weekend. Boris, there were a few revelations this week, to say the least, about
the president from Michael Cohen, none of them flattering. What are we learning about Cohen's motivations?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, according to several people who have discussed this matter privately with Michael Cohen, he believes that reaching out to Robert Mueller will lessen his own legal woes. Of course, he's under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. And what he is alleging is dramatic, that the president of the United States has misled the American people, saying that President Trump effectively not only knew about that proposed meeting between some Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton and his own son and members of his campaign team, but further, that he approved of that meeting.
Just as dramatic has been the shift that we've seen from the Trump team when it comes to Michael Cohen, his former attorney. Following the news that FBI officials had raided his office and apartment, the president defended his former attorney. Several members of his team called Michael Cohen a good man. And this week, in light of these revelations, they've resorted to flat-out calling him a liar.
We should point out this is supposed to be a positive week for the White House following that disastrous summit in Helsinki where President Trump had to clarify and then re-clarify his remarks. The president had some good news to tout this week on the economy. Just yesterday, announcing robust numbers when it comes to the GDP. Further, a trade deal that was announced with the European Union. But as we've seen before, Ana, the Russian investigation continues to be a cloud over everything this administration does -- Ana?
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you.
Last October, Cohen testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Eric Swalwell is on that committee. He is also a former prosecutor. And he joins us now from Washington.
Congressman, great to have you with us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Thank you for spending a part of your weekend with us.
I spoke with your colleague, Congressman Adam Schiff, yesterday, and he confirmed Cohen was questioned about the Trump Tower meeting when he testified before Congress behind closed doors. Do you believe he was truthful with your committee?
SWALWELL: Well, he certainly was questioned. You know, we're going to wait and see what he is willing to say publicly, Ana, because this is reporting, and I trust Jim Sciutto and his sources. But it would be better if Michael Cohen were to raise his right hand and come back to our committee or the House Judiciary Committee or even talk to Bob Mueller. But he certainly has had a history of lying in the past, but most of those lies were on behalf of Donald Trump. So when Donald Trump and his team say that he's a liar, that's true, but he was always doing it to advance Donald Trump's agenda.
So I'll also say, Ana, as a former prosecutor, it is very common that people find religion and want to do the right thing and, oftentimes, you know, when confronted with overwhelming evidence will come forward and tell the truth and that could be the case here.
CABRERA: I know you can't say exactly what Cohen said because you want to respect the fact it was in private, but did you walk away with the impression that Trump had knowledge of that Trump Tower meeting?
SWALWELL: Yes, and that wasn't only because of Michael Cohen's testimony. There was so much other evidence that we had, from the fact that the family that set this up, they were so close to Donald Trump that it's inconceivable that he would not have known that think put this request in. Two, Donald Trump was just one floor above in the building at the time that the meeting took place. Three, Donald Trump is very close, we learned, to his son, Donald Trump Jr, and they talked every day about the smallest details of the campaign. And then, of course, there's the cover-up behavior. Once this meeting was exposed a year later, Donald Trump dictated to his son the inaccurate statement that Donald Trump Jr gave the media, so I think that's a consciousness of guilt as well. So it was never really a question to us about whether he knew. It was just whether he'd be straight with the American people about whether he knew.
[15:05:14] CABRERA: So there's this question about credibility, who's telling the truth. Trump's attorneys say Michael Cohen is a proven liar. You've spoken about his trustworthiness, maybe he had this sort of come-to-Jesus moment. But if there's evidence that his story has changed here, would you feel comfortable, as a former prosecutor, putting him before a jury?
SWALWELL: Yes. If I had other corroborating witnesses. And you know, there's an instruction that jurors receive all the time when you only have a single witness to prove a fact. It says, if you believe that witness, you can rely on just one witness, and it doesn't have to be DNA evidence or having the crime committed on videotape. But you need some other circumstantial evidence. And again, I laid out some of it. There was also this issue of, as the meeting was being set up, Donald Trump Jr was on the phone with the Russians setting up the meeting, then he had a call with a blocked number, and then he had a call back to the Russians within an hour. And we know that Donald Trump, the candidate, used a blocked number at that time. So you have a lot of circumstantial evidence here, as well as Donald Trump the candidate telling the public just days before the Trump Tower meeting that he was going to be learning and putting out new information about Hillary Clinton. So, to me, it adds up, but you know, it's really on Michael Cohen to come clean.
CABRERA: Allen Weisselberg, another person in Donald Trump's inner circle, the long-time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, has been subpoenaed to testify as part of this investigation into Cohen. People describe Weisselberg as someone who knows every cent that comes into and leaves Trump's businesses. What is he obligated to provide to federal prosecutors since he has been served this subpoena? SWALWELL: So, he could, of course, assert his Fifth Amendment rights
and then they would have to find other ways to get the records that he has. But a corporation, though, cannot assert a Fifth Amendment right, so they will still be able to obtain a lot of the records but they may not be able to get the firsthand knowledge that Mr. Weisselberg had. But if he wants to be forthcoming and help the prosecution, they would be able to get, you know, the conversations that he's had with Mr. Trump about his financial dealings. I think there's going to be an interest in whether Mr. Trump has sought financing from Russian sources. We know that, through the decades, Mr. Trump has sought to invest in the Russians and that they have sought to invest in him. And kind of piecing that together, I think it's critical as you try and answer this conspiracy question as to whether Donald Trump had knowledge the Russians were helping him and whether he was giving that a green light.
CABRERA: Do you think he'll have to turn over the tax records?
SWALWELL: Well, the corporation would have to turn over anything it had. It doesn't have a Fifth Amendment right. So I think those records will ultimately end up in the hands of Bob Mueller or the southern district of New York.
CABRERA: Intelligence chiefs say Russia is already trying to interfere with the upcoming midterms. But national security sources we've spoken to at CNN say they have received no guidance or strategy from the White House about how they are going to combat these efforts, so every entity is sort of operating on its own. Why do you think that is?
SWALWELL: There's no leadership at the top, Ana. And you know, while it's interesting to go back and look at what happened in 2016 with the Trump family, the candidate and the Russians, I don't think that is as nearly as important as protecting the ballot box going forward. I wrote legislation right after the election to have an independent commission. It has bipartisan support. Nearly 200 members of Congress are on board with it. And it would have us take our best states persons, elders and experts, to go look at what happened and also recommend reforms for Congress to put in place and for the executive branch to use to devote resources so we can protect the ballot box. I think that's the most important thing we can do. Bob Mueller should look at the crimes that were committed. But our nation's leaders should unite. But if the president isn't willing to do it, it's going to take bipartisan efforts in Congress. We have not seen that willingness from Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, and so I'm afraid we're going to go in just as vulnerable this November.
CABRERA: Amid all this, Putin is saying he's ready to come to Washington. He's even invited President Trump to Moscow, an invitation the White House says it is open to. I'm sure you have some thoughts about the meeting at all in Helsinki.
CABRERA: But if this meeting does happen, what should be the goal of this second summit of sorts?
SWALWELL: Yes, well, first, if Vladimir Putin comes to Washington, I can promise you, Ana, he will not be as alone with President Trump as he would like. He will hear millions of voices in a free democracy protesting outside of the White House. But I don't think the president should have a meeting with Vladimir Putin unless he can achieve American strategic objectives, including really reducing what Vladimir Putin is doing in Syria to support Bashar al Assad, reducing what Vladimir Putin has already done in Ukraine, and telling him we're not going to accept his annexation of Crimea. And, most importantly, directly confronting him, looking him in the eye and saying, we will not tolerate election meddling. There will be a price to pay. He had an opportunity to do that and President Trump was incapable. So if we're going to see a repeat of that, that's going to make America look weaker.
[15:10:23] CABRERA: If they were coming out of that summit to have a press conference, and the president confronted President Putin right then and there, would that change your opinion of what you have so far surmised about their relationship?
SWALWELL: Yes. I think we would all unite behind a president who could stand up for our condition.
CABRERA: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much, again, for being with us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
CABRERA: Coming up, the break-up from the guy who would take a bullet for Trump, to the man seemingly ready to expose all of his secrets. A look at what years of loyalty got Michael Cohen after the FBI came knocking.
Plus, the deadly inferno out west. Thousands on the run from flames consuming homes in California. We are live.
And later --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to one of the last truly wild places on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Bill Weir is on the ground in Alaska where the fight over drilling in the National Wildlife Refuge is raging.
[15:15:37] CABRERA: Even after the FBI raided his apartment, Michael Cohen reportedly said he would rather jump off a building before turning on President Trump. So how did the former fixer become one of Trump's biggest potential legal threats?
CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's defender --
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: You guys are down.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: True.
KEILAR: And it makes sense that there would --
COHEN: Says who? Says who?
KEILAR: Polls. Most of them. All of them.
FOREMAN: -- his trusted adviser --
COHEN: The words the media should be using to describe Mr. Trump are generous, compassionate.
FOREMAN: -- and most of all, his lawyer.
COHEN: My job is I protect Mr. Trump. That's what it is. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of concern to him, it's, of course, of concern to me.
FOREMAN: -- Michael Cohen has been all that to Donald Trump and Trump has returned the favor with an extremely rare close relationship.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, FRIEND OF MICHAEL COHEN: It was much more than an attorney-client relationship. It was certainly -- it was something much deeper, almost father-and-son kind of thing. Donald Trump knew that Michael always had his back.
FOREMAN: The two native New Yorkers joined forces about a dozen years ago when Cohen bought a condo in a Trump building. And by most accounts, they bonded quickly over their shared values and sharp elbows. Soon, Cohen was handling real estate deals, helping run some companies, and even coordinating transportation for Trump.
COHEN: They say I'm Mr. Trump's pit bull, that I am his -- I'm his right-hand man.
FOREMAN: When Trump's campaign lit up, Cohen's portfolio expanded to include alleged payoffs to women claiming sexual relationships with his client, even as the president has steadily denied them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did Michael Cohen make the --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael. FOREMAN: And as the Russia investigation tightened, Cohen famously
told "Vanity Fair" last year, "I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president."
Then came a --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "A.C. 360": Breaking news, the FBI today raided the offices of President Trump's long-time attorney, Michael Cohen.
FOREMAN: The president erupted.
TRUMP: It's a disgrace. It's an attack on our country in a true sense.
FOREMAN: But while he shouted witch hunt, Cohen has since gone another way, telling ABC, "I don't agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I will not be a punching bag in anyone's defense strategy. And now, I put family and country first."
(on camera): For his part, President Trump, who used to routinely and warmly talk about Michael Cohen, now seems to not be saying his name publicly at all, let alone, nice things about him.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: Let's talk it over with Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and former assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department, and Rachel Kugel, defense attorney and the founder of the Kugel law firm.
Michael, I want to start with you.
You know, why is Cohen publicly floating his alleged dirt on Trump and that 2016 meeting at Trump Tower? What is the possible legal strategy there?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's a mystery to me. If I were advising Michael Cohen, I would tell him to not do any of the things that he's done, such as release these tapes, if that's who was the source to the "New York Times," go on Chris Cuomo's show with your story to tell, and then have it be told that you're going to flip on the president. I just -- doesn't make sense to me. My years as a defense attorney, my years as a prosecutor tell me that that's a strategy that's mystifying. He should be working quietly with the southern district of New York to try to resolve the issues and become, you know, less in jeopardy himself personally and more cooperative with their investigation.
CABRERA: What's wrong with this strategy, though?
ZELDIN: It makes it appear as if he is begging for a deal, that he will say anything, true or false, to get that deal and, thereby, undermine his credibility and utility to the southern district. CABRERA: Let's take a look at Trump's outside lawyer, Rudy Giuliani,
and his evolving opinion of Michael Cohen that he's been putting out there in the media. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:19:59] RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: He doesn't have any incriminating evidence about the president or himself. The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.
I expected something like this from Cohen. He's been lying all week. I mean, he's been lying for years, I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Going from he's an honest man to he's a total liar. Conflicting accounts there of Cohen's credibility. Could that end up complicating Trump's defense strategy, Rachel?
RACHEL KUGEL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FOUNDER, KUGEL LAW FIRM: I think two things. I think one is certainly his credibility -- Cohen's credibility is in serious question, and that's why he should have kept his part in this quiet. But as far as what Giuliani is saying, remember what the lawyer says cannot really be imparted to the client in that way. So this is not, you know, Donald Trump's position, Donald Trump's defense. This is his lawyer's argument on it. And that's important, right? There's a very big difference between what Trump says about what's happening and what Giuliani says about what's happening as his lawyer or mouthpiece.
CABRERA: I also am reminded that it's now been more than 20 times Trump and his allies have denied, denied that he knew of that 2016 Trump Tower meeting prior to when the "New York Times" first reported about it last year. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST, HANNITY: Did you tell your father anything about this?
DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. It was such a nothing -- there was nothing to tell.
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, here's what happened. Donald Trump Jr put it all out today. It's all out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting?
TRUMP: No, I didn't know anything about the meeting.
SEKULOW: Let's focus on what the president was aware of. Nothing. He was not aware of the meeting.
TRUMP: It must have been a very important -- it must have been a very unimportant meeting because I never even heard about it. DONALD TRUMP JR: I wouldn't even have remembered it until you start
scouring through the stuff. It was a literally just a waste of 20 minutes, which was a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So all that is what was said to media outlets, but Donald Trump Jr, he denied Trump's knowledge under oath.
So, Michael, if Cohen's claim is corroborated, could Don Jr end up facing perjury charges?
ZELDIN: Yes, false statement or perjury, depending on the nature of the question and answer. And that's problematic for Don Jr. But Michael Cohen needs to be corroborated. Right now, there's very little in the public domain that we know of that corroborates his version.
I think a key witness here is Hope Hicks. What did she know, and was she aware of Trump's knowledge prior to the meeting? And what numbers were called by Don Jr that were blocked that we don't know of yet? That may be reflective of the communication between Don Jr and his father about the meeting. So there are things that can be obtained that corroborate Cohen or not corroborate Cohen, but those have not yet leaked out into the public process.
CABRERA: Do you think Mueller already knows, though?
ZELDIN: I think Mueller knows a lot. I think Mueller has access to all of this stuff. But a lot of this stuff is, you know, witness dependent and it may be that if this is a new tale that Cohen is saying -- remember, Cohen hasn't spoken to Mueller -- that it is something that Mueller will now start running down. So we don't know yet whether he's looked into all of this.
CABRERA: So listen to what CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, is floating out there. I'm going to read a part of his CNN.com piece. He writes, "If Cohen's claim is corroborated, it could theoretically give Special Counsel Robert Mueller the leverage to propose a deal. Resign the presidency in exchange for immunity for Don Jr. Otherwise, Don Jr will be indicted for lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee."
Rachel, what's your take?
KUGEL: First of all, I think that's really problematic for a couple of reasons. You know, do we really want -- understanding that someone's unpopular but there's a constitutional process for how an impeachment, how someone becomes removed from the presidency. To let someone in a position of Robert Mueller decide who the president is at any given time is a dangerous precedent to set, even if it's an unpopular president. Remember, our Constitution's only as good as how it protects those that are unpopular. If the unpopular aren't protected, then none of us are. So we have to be really careful about this idea that just because he may be unpopular, he may have done some unsavory things, some bad political things, doesn't mean that someone in Robert Mueller's position should really have the right to choose who is the president of the United States at any given time. That's extraordinarily undemocratic.
CABRERA: My takeaway from this here, Michael, is really that he's suggesting that Don Jr may end up being the key in some way to get to President Trump. Do you think Robert Mueller would go there?
ZELDIN: No. I actually -- I like Paul, and I respect his legal opinion. I think that were Donald Trump Jr to be in legal jeopardy, why not just pardon him. I don't know that you need to make a deal of immunity for resignation. I don't think that's likely to happen when he possesses pardon power. And it could well be that if Don Jr ends up in legal trouble, the president has that pardon power, and we'll see how it goes. But I just can't see Mueller offering -- Mueller's a conservative, not in a political sense, but in a legal sense, and I don't think that that would sit well with him as the -- an appropriate -- like Rachel says, I don't think that would be an appropriate way for a prosecutor to behave.
[15:25:13] CABRERA: All right. Thank you both. Michael Zeldin and Rachel Kugel, great to have you both with us.
Coming up, tornados of fire. Look at these images out of California. Crews are battling a deadly blaze that is burning unchecked right now out west. Plus, the race to find people still missing. We are live on the scene.
[15:29:58] CABRERA: President Trump has now declared an emergency in California as wildfires consume thousands of acres. People are running for their lives. Their homes and neighborhoods burst into flames. There's a race against time, and the elements, as authorities are searching for a great-grandmother and two young children who went missing when this fire roared through the city of Redding, forcing thousands to flee. Officials now confirm at least two people are dead, three are missing, 500 structures are destroyed. This fire exploded overnight and has now burned nearly 81,000 acres.
Joining us is CNN's Dan Simon. He is on the ground in Keswick, California.
Dan, destruction behind you. What's happening right now?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, Ana. The size and scope of this disaster is truly incredible. This is Keswick Estates. You can see that there's just nothing left. The fire just roared through this neighborhood. And take a look at this vantage point from our satellite truck and just gives you an idea of the magnitude of what we're looking at here.
This community of Keswick, just outside of Redding, this is also the area where that grandmother, that great-grandmother and those two kids also went missing. As you said, officially, the death toll is at two, but as the sheriff's office has indicated, there's a chance that they might get more missing person reports, and ultimately, unfortunately, maybe more people will be declared dead. This is just a truly devastating episode that's happened here in
northern California. It's impacted people in so many ways. I want you to hear what some people are saying, beginning with a local newscaster who had to evacuate the set as the flames got close. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Right now, we are being evacuated. That's where we are kind of closing out right now. We are going to leave the station because it is now unsafe to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just can't believe this is happening in your community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That house is my whole life. There's just one thing that's in that House that is not replaceable to me, and it sounds silly, but it's a car that I've had since I was 17. It was my first car. If it gets destroyed, there's no replacing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't think the fire was going to come here. So, we didn't really take things out. Like everybody else that was scrambling at the last minute to get out, when we saw the fire on the ridge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Well, the forecast calls for a bad firefighting weather over the next few days, triple temperatures at least in the middle of next week. Humidity remains low and the winds remain high at night so it could be several more days before firefighters get a handle on this -- Ana?
CABRERA: That is not good news.
Thank you very much, Dan Simon. We know you will continue to stay on top of it. Just looking at your images, it is heartbreaking to know that is someone's property, their home, their livelihood.
Again, thanks, Dan.
Coming up, the fight over Trump's move to drill in one of the most controversial places in the U.S. Bill Weir is on the ground in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Be sure to tune in tonight. Van Jones is one-on-one with NBA Star Carmelo Anthony. They talk about his special activism and giving back. Plus, Van takes on the progressive movement that's surging in the Trump era. The "VAN JONES SHOW" show airs tonight at 7:00 right here on CNN.
[15:37:47] CABRERA: The Alaskan wilderness is one of the few remaining unspoiled areas in the world, but now 1.5 million acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is facing off with the Trump administration. Laws signed last year are opening the door for oil businesses for the first time in decades.
CNN's Bill Weir, host of "THE WONDER LIST," takes us there.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is magnificent. Wow.
(voice-over): Way up at the tiptop of Alaska, an airplane can feel like a time machine.
FLORIAN SCHULZ, PHOTOGRAPHER: You see there? There's a bunch of little babies around.
WEIR: Because the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR, is the kind of pure wilderness most of America paved over long ago.
SCHULZ: This is it. We are in the heart of the Arctic refuge.
WEIR (on camera): Welcome to one of the last truly wild places on earth.
(voice-over): The coastal plain brims with life from musk oxen to bears, both grizzly and polar. Birds that will migrate to the backyards of all 50 states.
But as Florian Schulz has captured over the years, the most common creature is the caribou, and not just a few, but hundreds of thousands. The kind of herd unseen since the plains buffalo were wiped away.
And when Florian is here with his family, he can't help but wonder how long it will last.
SCHULZ: We need to keep some of these places untouched. We are changing the world everywhere so fast, but why not leave a few places unspoiled.
WEIR: For almost 60 years, that was the rationale that protected ANWR from this. These are the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay that fill the famous pipeline and power countless lives.
But since there are billions of barrels elsewhere, nature lovers have long argued there's no need to drill here. And for decades, that argument held until --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day a friend of mine in the oil business called. Is it true that you have ANWR in the bill? I said, I don't know, who cares. What is that?
He said, you know, Reagan tried. Every single president tried. I said, you got to be kidding. I love it now. And after that, we fought like hell to get ANWR. He talked me into it.
[15:40:10] WEIR: December's tax cut bill also opened ANWR to drilling thanks to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who slipped in the provision knowing that it would only need 51 instead of 60 votes to pass.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R), ALASKA: It is wrong for those from the outside looking in, who have taken a nice trip into an area and said, this must be protected.
WEIR: But conservationists point out there's already a huge glut of American oil.
(on camera): And oil companies are laying people off up here, right? Because prices are so low.
NICOLE WHITTINGTON-EVANS, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Oil companies have been laying people off and for the first time in the last five years, I was seeing more oil company workers leaving the state of Alaska and going to places like North Dakota than coming into this state.
WEIR: But much like Trump's efforts to revive dying coal mines, the rush to drill here seems driven more by politics than economics.
(on camera): Former Speaker of the House Tom Delay once said if we could drill in ANWR, it will break the back of the environmental lobby.
DAN RITZMAN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, SIERRA CLUB: Well, they haven't drilled in ANWR yet. We know the Arctic regions are heating twice as fast as any other part of the world, and it makes zero sense to come here and look for more oil that's going to exacerbate that problem.
WEIR (voice-over): And among those opposed is the Wichen (ph) Nation, the northern-most tribe of Native Americans.
(on camera): How many people live here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 150 year-round.
WIER: Wow. I think about 150 people live on my floor of my apartment building.
(voice-over): Their numbers may be tiny, but they are definitely not outsiders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Archaeological evidence shows we've been here over 25,000 years.
WEIR: And the only reason they survived is caribou. Back in the day, they would trap the animals in these handmade corrals. These days, they use guns and snow mobiles, but still need the animals to survive in one of the most-expensive neighborhoods in America.
(on camera): Groceries at the Midnight Sun can cost twice as much as the whole foods in Manhattan. Gasoline up here runs $10 a gallon. But still, given the choice between oil money and caribou, there's no debate. These folks will stick with the one animal that has kept them alive for thousands of years. And they cannot imagine drills and trucks and pipelines across what they call the sacred place where life begins. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look what happened to the plains Indians and the
WEIR (on camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not going to happen to my people. We're not going to allow that to happen again.
WEIR (voice-over): To the Wichen (ph), they are a Native American David against a Goliath of oil companies, Republican lawmakers, and the Inubia (ph), a coastal tribe of native Alaskans eager to drill and cash in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that the U.S. is saying we can finally do this, now we have the other side, the environmentalists, saying we can't do this. What's wrong with this picture?
WEIR: As the government rushes towards development, community meetings lay bare the fight, tribe versus tribe, neighbor against neighbor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have thousands of gallons discovered in places that have already seen destruction, but restraint is what we lack. When did we all become owners of the land? It has always owned us.
WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, Alaska.
CABRERA: Coming up, a special council, secret tapes, and a war with the social media, the week that had some eerie similarities to the Nixon presidency. Stay right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:48:13] RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never heard or seen such outrageous, vicious, distorted reporting in 27 years of public life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That was President Richard Nixon, assailing the media for their coverage of the Watergate scandal less than 10 months before he was forced to resign. Nixon's disdain for media has been compared to Trumps but with one key difference, Nixon kept his harshest comments private while President Trump has let it all air out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those people right up there with all the cameras.
TRUMP: They are the worst.
Those very dishonest people back there --
Absolute dishonest, absolute scum.
We have a very crooked media.
It's time to expose the crooked media deceptions.
It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.
I've never seen more dishonest media.
They're bad people. And I think they don't like our country.
The media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade.
They are the enemy of the people.
I would never kill them. But I do hate them. And some of them are such lying disgusting people. It's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us NOW CNN political analyst, also a historian and professor of history at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer.
Julian, I'm excited to talk to you about this. How do you think Trump's disdain and relationship with the media stacks up with past president, Dick Nixon?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's comparable. I do think Richard Nixon hated the press. He felt the press was unfair, out to get him. He felt the press was giving America a skewed picture of who he is. But like you said, to learn a lot of what Nixon thought, we needed the secret tapes. Whereas, President Trump, he just says it front and center either on the Twitter feed or television. It's a much more public attack that we have from the current president.
[15:50:05] CABRERA: Earlier this week, the White House refused to back down after barring our Kaitlan Collins from an event in the Rose Garden because she shouted some questions earlier in the day that he apparently didn't like. They said he wasn't taking questions at that time.
It brought to mind this moment from the Nixon tapes when Nixon is speaking to his press secretary at the time, Ron Ziegler, about the "Washington Post."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON (voice-over): I want to it clearly understood, from now on, ever no reporter from the "Washington Post" is ever to be in the White House. Is that clear. RON ZIEGLER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (voice-over):
NIXON: Unless it's a press conference.
ZIEGLER: Yes, sir. In the briefings.
NIXON: Never in the White House, no church service, nothing with Mrs. Nixon does. You tell Connie, don't tell Mrs. Nixon, 'cause she will approve it. No reporter from the "Washington Post" is ever to be in the White House again. And no photographer either.
NIXON: No photographer. Is that clear?
ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.
NIXON: None ever to be in. That is a total order. And if necessary, I'll fire you. Do you understand?
ZIEGLER: I do understand.
NIXON: OK. All right. Good.
ZIEGLER: OK. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And now here we are four decades later.
ZELIZER: Right, not a very nice man. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. He literally would push certain media institutions away and not give them access. He tried to get the FBI to leak all kinds of damaging information about specific reporters, about whether they were homosexuals. He even intimidated them. And he even intimidated news stations with the SEC licenses. It was an all-out war. For a while, it worked. That's what people forget. Until '72, the press did back away from reporting too aggressively on him. And it's only after '72 that we see the press ramp up its coverage.
But this isn't a comparison President Trump should necessarily be proud of. You want to compare yourself to Lincoln, you want to compare yourself with FDR. You don't want to compare yourself to Richard Nixon.
CABRERA: Of course, the other parallel this week to the Nixon administration, the Cohen recording that's out there. The fact that an investigation into the president could rely on tapes. In fact, 45 years ago this week, this was the cover of "Newsweek." Does any of that surprise you?
ZELIZER: Well, this was a big part of the downfall of Richard Nixon. It was in July '73 that the country learned there were recordings. We didn't know that. And the president recorded his Oval Office conversations and other conversations. This material becomes the basis of his downfall. Ultimately, it's one segment where you can hear Richard Nixon trying to block the investigation that leads members of Congress to say no more.
We only have a little snippet at this point and we don't know what is out there. But hearing a president do something that is wrong is different than hearing about it. And I think that's what we learned with the Nixon tapes. And we'll see what else is out there at this point.
CABRERA: And it's obviously yet to be determined if politically this changes the tide.
ZELIZER: It's a different era. You know, Richard Nixon didn't have conservative news outlets to spin the story his way. Richard Nixon didn't have Twitter where he could instantly respond and try to discredit the "Washington Post" or discredit Congress as they tried to talk about the tapes. And we're more polarized. So there's part of the public that won't be moved in the same way they could still be moved back in '73 and '74.
CABRERA: Some people have questioned if Michael Cohen isn't trying to have a John Dean moment in reference to Nixon's counsel, who turned against him, and joined sides with the prosecution during Watergate. Is that what's happening with Cohen.
ZELIZER: He might be. And it might be to protect himself. But it might lead to damaging material for the president. We don't know what Cohen's motivations are or what he will do. But this is what happens when you have a problematic president and a president who is pretty aggressive, like we heard Nixon on the tapes. People can turn against you. Your allies can become enemies. And sometimes the former allies can be the most damaging of all.
CABRERA: So much to discuss. And thank you for laying it out there for us.
Julian Zelizer, your wealth of knowledge, I always appreciate getting your take.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Every week, we honor an everyday person doing extraordinary work to help others. We find these people through your nominations. Earlier this year, we recognized Dr. Rob Gore, an emergency room physician doing anti-violence work in New York. Now we want you to meet the Black Panther star who nominated him to be a "CNN Hero."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I nominated Dr. Gore to be a "CNN Hero" because we grew up together. Then I saw him doing this wonderful community work.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I'm very familiar with "CNN Heroes." I'm a fan of the show. As I was volunteering here, I said to myself, wait, "CNN Heroes," Dr. Gore, perfect match. And here we are. I'm so proud of my friend to see him excel in this way and show the world what he does. So surreal, so exciting, so rewarding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:55:10] CABRERA: To learn more about this story, or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," log on to CNNheroes.com. But heads-up, the nominations close Tuesday night. Don't delay.
We'll be right back.
[15:59:53] CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being with me. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.
President Trump coming off several days of Helsinki fallout. Secret tapes now about centerfold hush money, who knew what about the infamous Trump Tower meeting. The president still saying he was in the dark about it. Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, saying the president knew and he knew ahead of time.