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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House Official: President's Press Team No Coordinating with Giuliani on Message; Washington Post: U.S. Spy Agencies See Signs That North Korea is Working on New Missiles. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired July 30, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Keeping them honest tonight, the president says it never happened. Never, ever. But now, one of his key defenders is also saying what sounds a lot like but if it did happen, so what? And in case you're wondering, yes, the subject is Russia, and yes, those are goalposts being moved, moved it seems almost on several fronts.
We'll start with the one transgression that President Trump has always, absolutely positively categorically denied.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia.
There has been no collusion. They won't find any collusion. It doesn't exist.
There is no collusion with me and the Russians. Nobody has been tougher to Russia.
There was no collusion.
No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No nothing, he says. No collusion. His response to the revelation his closest campaign adviser sought Kremlin dirt on Hillary Clinton.
His response after the House and Senate Intelligence Committees released their reports on Russian interference. His response, in fact, to nearly any Russia-related question the president has ever gotten, no collusion. If not, the two foundational words of his entire administration, then at least the linchpin of his defense.
That is until our reporting that his former lawyer and confidante is now willing to tie the president directly to that meeting with Russians during the campaign. Now, that Michael Cohen's apparently ready to say that candidate Trump knew in advance about what amounts to at best an attempted collusion or intended collusion or unrequited collusion, the line of defense has a new wrinkle, moving from never happened to so what if it did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Which I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
GIULIANI: You start analyzing the crime. The hacking is the crime. The hacking is the crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That certainly is the original crime.
GIULIANI: Well, the president didn't hack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. That's the original crime.
GIULIANI: He didn't pay them for hacking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. It almost sounds like the president's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was saying we shouldn't be focusing on the goalpost that the president has set up time and time again, but instead should be looking another 20 yards down field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Which I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, it's not. That much is true, and that's all. There is no anti-colluding with Russians act anywhere on the United States code.
But there's plenty on the books about conspiracy or campaign finance abuses and obstruction of justice. Not to mention that most would agree, it's just -- you know, plain wrong if it happened to be secretly scheming with a hostile power. It's a touchy subject, as you might imagine. Perhaps because of that, this is not the first time the president's defenders have felt compelled to define their transgressions and alleged transgressions downward.
Just after election day, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said, quote, there was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign. It never happened, she said. Three months later, never became to the best of our knowledge. Sarah Sanders saying, quote, this is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place.
A month later, that gave way to meetings, yes, but no planned meetings. Donald Trump Jr. telling "The New York Times," quote, did I meet with people that were Russians? I'm sure. I'm sure I did. But none that were set up, and certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape, or form.
Of course, that was untrue. So, down field went the goalpost yet again. Now there was a planned meeting, but it was primarily about adoption. Then it was OK, but I was just there as a favor to a friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I was basically sitting there listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who had set up the meeting. And, you know, in his own words, you can hear what he said and you played it earlier about it. He apologized to me walking out of the meeting, basically, for wasting my time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, today, we know that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort went into that meeting know full well it was with people who were portraying themselves at least as Kremlin-connected Russians promising intelligence on Hillary Clinton.
And with each revelation that followed, everyone from the president on down played word games with the public or just plain lied. Now that Michael Cohen may be prepared to say that the president had prior knowledge of the meeting, the new line is yes, maybe there was collusion with a hostile foreign power, but it's not a crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Which I don't even know it's a crime, colluding with Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, you might think this alone would be good day's work for Rudy Giuliani. But wait, there was more. He also had this to say about Michael Cohen's allegation that he knew in advance about the Trump Tower meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Even as the Russia meeting, I'm happy to tell him he wasn't there. He wasn't at the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, according to our sources, that's not what Michael Cohen is allegedly ready to say. Cohen is allegedly trod say that Trump had prior knowledge of the meeting, something his son and others have denied repeatedly and that Don Jr. had seemingly denied under oath.
Was Mr. Giuliani opening up a window ever so slightly to the fact that Mr. Trump might have known about the meeting but didn't attend it?
Well, some today have suggested that. But the reality is we just don't know. We do know we hadn't heard that distinction before today, which is curious, to say the least.
OK, now stay with me here, because things get even weirder from here. That's because Mr. Giuliani also brought up another meeting, one we didn't even know about, which he says the president also did not attend, a meeting that apparently happened two days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: He did not participate in any meeting about the Russia transaction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president?
GIULIANI: The president did not. And the other people at the meeting that he claims he had without the president about it say he was never there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. So if you're keeping a score, A, the president was never at the pre-meeting. The pre-meeting meeting that Michael Cohen says he was never at, and no one was even asking about, and B, the president was never at the Trump Tower meeting that no one has ever said he was at.
You got that? No? Where did the goalposts go again?
Notice how he didn't really answer the real allegation that the president knew in advance about the meeting with the Russian, not attended the meeting or a meeting before the meeting, only that he had been made aware in advance by Don Jr. Now, just to be clear, here is our reporting word for word. According to sources, and I quote, Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer by Trump Jr. Now by Cohen's account, Cohen approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians according to sources.
Rudy Giuliani had a lot to say today. That much is indisputable. Whether he actually cleared anything up, well, that is not.
As for the president, he went before the cameras today and said nothing because this -- because no one, the president chose to ask questions asked him about.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us with more from the White House.
So has the White House had any response to claims Rudy Giuliani was or wasn't making this morning on television?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson. As a matter of fact, I just spoke with a White House official who said that the press team over here at the White House is not coordinating with Rudy Giuliani in terms of what he says on behalf of the president's legal team on these various talk show appearances, including on "NEW DAY" here on CNN, nor can they control what Rudy Giuliani says according to this White House official.
Now, this official went on the say, Anderson, that they cannot say that definitively about what Giuliani does in coordination with the White House counsel's office. And, of course, Anderson, we do know if past is prologue that the president's outside legal team has obviously had many conversations with the president's inside counsel over the last several months. And so, it is expected that obviously they're having those kinds of conversations on that end of the White House, but no coordination, this official is saying, with the press team.
I think that's a notable, you know, thing that the White House is putting out there, because it's obviously something that they're saying at this point that they are not signing off on what Rudy Giuliani says on behalf of the president and his legal team on these various talk show appearances.
COOPER: Well, the president wasn't asked about Giuliani's comments today. But it's not like reporters didn't try to press him on the issue.
ACOSTA: Yes. That's right. I was in the Oval Office earlier today when the president was with the Italian prime minister. I asked the president how it is that you keep saying that there was no collusion when Rudy Giuliani is saying over and over again today that collusion is not a crime.
Anderson, this is the one thing that we've heard from the president over and over again, from the president's defenders over and over again that there was no collusion between the president, his campaign, and the Russians during the 2016 campaign. And so, it is very strange. It is very odd and curious that, all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Rudy Giuliani would float this legal claim that there's -- you know, it's not against the law to collude with the Russians on -- at the end of July in 2018. It's just very strange.
And, you know, people who have -- who are familiar with some of the discussions that go on here at the White House have scratched their heads for a while now about what Rudy Giuliani says in these interviews. I think it does lend some credence to the theory out there, Anderson, that when Rudy Giuliani goes on the air, he is sort of putting out a fog of confusion what the president's legal team is up to, what their strategy is to essentially, you know, make everybody want to move on.
And that's largely what I think Rudy Giuliani was doing today. He was -- he was putting out so many contradictory comments, saying that collusion is not a crime while the president is insisting there was no collusion at that at some point I think the hope is inside the president's legal team and among his defenders that the public just gets bored with the whole thing and wants to move on.
COOPER: Interesting. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Joining us now, one person who can speak to whether the Russia meeting was the sort of thing that candidate Trump would want to be told about, Barbara Res, who's a former long-time executive at the Trump Organization, author of the book "All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction."
Barbara, thanks so much for being with us.
BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: My pleasure.
COOPER: You worked on and off for Trump Organization for years. Is it -- the thing I never understood about this meeting is the idea that Don Jr. would be told by someone representing -- allegedly representing the Russian government that the Russians were supporting his father's campaign and would not tell his father, either about that major fact or about the meeting taking place or the meeting had taken place. Given what you know about how the Trump Organization works, does it make sense to you Donald Trump would not have been informed about this?
RES: In my opinion, based on my experience working with Trump and everybody that worked for Trump, something major, something newsworthy, something press-worthy would also go before Trump, always.
[20:10:11] COOPER: Because he wanted to know. He wanted --
RES: Yes. He wanted to be on top of things.
COOPER: And -- I mean, it is possible that Donald Trump Jr. might have -- that as a child of Mr. Trump, would have more latitude that an employee?
RES: You know, I'm not -- I don't think so. No you know, the reason Trump Jr. is in the position he's in, Ivanka is in the position, Jared is that Trump has historically believed that he is better served by having family members, even if they're not quite as qualified. But I think that perhaps he may even be harder on family members.
I know he was harder on Ivana when she worked for him. I have a feeling that he probably might have been harder on Donald when he didn't do -- Donald Jr., when he might not have done what he was supposed to.
So, from my point of view, Donald Jr. would definitely have gone to his father. I think he would have said in advance, look what I've got. We're going get something on Hillary. I think he would have sort of been bragging about it, look what I did, that kind of thing.
COOPER: Which makes sense why candidate Trump made that speech in which he talked or promoted an upcoming discussion about some big news on the Russian.
COOPER: The -- there has been some suggestion, though, that maybe Donald Trump Jr. wouldn't have wanted to alert his father in advance in case nothing came of the meeting, and therefore he would look bad in his father's eyes?
RES: No, I don't think that's the case at all. I think that he would have told Donald about the meeting. And if it didn't amount to anything, it would have been fine. It was something they attempted and it didn't work out.
COOPER: The -- I want to ask you about Allen Weisselberg, the -- who is the chief financial officer. A lot of people have said, well, look, he knows far more than Michael Cohen would have possibly known about the Trump Organization given the length of time he was there. Allen was there when Donald Trump's father was running the company. Is he that important?
RES: You know, when I worked there, and that's a long time ago, Allen had just come over from Brooklyn, and I think his prime function was to run the every day side of the accounting division, in other words, paying bills. I don't know that he was doing the tax returns. I'd be surprised if he was. I'd think they have lawyers and certainly outside accountants for that.
As far as the financial dealings are concerned, yes, I do believe that he got more and more involved as time went on, and Donald trusted him. He was almost a family member, like I said before. But I don't think that he would have been the most important person in that, you know, sphere of, you know, who does what. I think probably Cohen knew more than Allen.
COOPER: Just the way the Trump organization was set up, does it surprise you some of the chaos and sort of -- the president seems the eye of this storm and a lot of people are misinformed around him or he does -- he tells them one thing but that's not really the case of what actually happened. Is that the way the organization itself was run?
RES: To my experience, absolutely. It was always run in chaos. And there was a lot of splitting people up, and a lot of dividing and conquering.
Trump liked to have controversy. He liked to be surrounded by controversy. He wanted his people, you know, competing with each other.
COOPER: He liked -- he liked that environment?
COOPER: Did he think it was productive or just -- do you know why he liked it? Or part of his nature?
RES: Yes, I think he thought at a time, and he says this, have I the best people. And he was always trying to make one better than the other. And you could see him when he brought in Scaramucci and all that stuff, competing, competing, competing. You know, that was something he liked to do, yes.
Barbara Res, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
RES: Always my pleasure.
RES: Nice to talk to you.
More help on cutting through the confusing fog the president's attorney left us with today, joining us now, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero.
So, Jeff, Giuliani is saying collusion isn't a crime. We've talked about this certainly for months. I mean, it stands very much in contrast to what the president has been saying for months, which is that there is no collusion.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's sort of a contrast. The implication of what the president has been saying is that I didn't commit a crime. But he has never quite defined what collusion is. I mean, as you pointed out earlier at the beginning of the show, it is true that collusion itself is not defined in the United States code as a crime.
But if you look at the Mueller investigation, if you look at what Mueller is authorized by the Department of Justice to look into, one of the things specifically is collusion. If you look at the indictment of the social media case where there are 12 individuals and one company charged with illegally assisting the Trump campaign from Russia, the clear implication there is if the Trump campaign worked with these Russian entities, that would be a crime as well.
[20:15:02] But there is no crime specifically called collusion. So, if you want to take --
COOPER: But there is conspiracy.
TOOBIN: There is conspiracy. And clearly, assisting the Russian government to intervene illegally in the Trump campaign would be a crime. So, you know, I think Rudy Giuliani is playing word games there to a certain extent. But if you want to be technical, he's right, that there is no crime called collusion.
COOPER: Dana, you spoke to Giuliani earlier today after the interview on "NEW DAY". He tried to clarify some of his comments, right?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. OK. I'm going try to explain this so people don't get even more confused. But at the end of the day --
COOPER: Good luck.
BASH: Exactly. It is as clear as mud, and I don't think that that's an accident.
What Giuliani talked about, one of the things he talked about with Alisyn Camerota this morning was the idea that there was this alleged second meeting or excuse me a meeting that happened a couple of days before the notorious Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr. and the Russian attorney and so on and so forth, where they talked about what they would discuss, like a pre-meeting, basically.
So, Giuliani brought it up as if the meeting happened with Alisyn Camerota. It was not clear. I talked to him afterwards, and he said, no, the reason I brought it up is because reporters came to me, meaning Giuliani and to Jay Sekulow, another member of the Trump legal team, saying that this is being floated to them, to the reporters that there was an additional meeting where they were going through the Russia situation, that Cohen was a part of it.
And what Giuliani said that he and Sekulow found out in doing their own investigating internally is oh, that meeting never happened. So he said, if you're still with me, that the reason he brought it up to Alisyn is because he wanted to get ahead of it. But there's no question it confused things and he has, in various times and various interviews talked about a meeting and then said the meeting didn't happen.
So, to me, are you still with me, Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, I went to a special place in my head for a while. But I'm back.
BASH: It's not back to the goalpost I hope.
But to me, he said that there is a meeting that never happened. But there is no question that this is his way of, he says, trying to get out ahead of stories, but it's also very much to throw a whole bunch of smoke at the screen and make it hard to see through it.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Carrie, Giuliani seemed very careful to say that the president wasn't at that meeting at Trump Tower. He didn't say that the president didn't know about the meeting in advance, which is the whole point. There was never any belief that the president himself was actually at that meeting. Again, it's a shift in what the line is from the Trump campaign, from the Trump camp.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Right. So Rudy Giuliani keeps trying to, as you outline, he keeps trying to change the story and change people's attention towards what may or may not have occurred. What we know is that there is an investigation focused on conspiracy to defraud the United States. That's really the special counsel's theory of the case, and everything else falls under that, whether it's the unauthorized access to the computer systems, what we call the hacking, or whether it's potential violations of campaign finance, any of those fall into the rubric of conspiracy.
And these meetings regarding whether or not individuals, senior officials Trump and his inner circle on the campaign knew in advance about any of those activities that the Russian government, Russian intelligence officers were doing goes to whether or not they were part of that conspiracy. And so, when Rudy Giuliani says that there was no collusion, the question really is did they have advanced knowledge? And were they in some way working together, would be another way to describe what the law calls conspiracy.
COOPER: Jeff, the whole notion from the president this weekend that Mueller has conflicts of interest, Giuliani wouldn't explain what those alleged conflicts are when pressed today. I mean, from all the -- what we know so far, it doesn't seem like there is much there there. There was that report about the president had claimed the conflict over a golf membership in a golf club. It wasn't clear if that's what Giuliani was referencing. It seems probably that is what it is.
TOOBIN: It was funny. I was actually in the studio when Alisyn was doing that interview. I almost started laughing because Giuliani said, you know, I don't know what the conflict is, but I would have recused myself if I was Mueller, and that was what? I mean, it just -- it was sort of peculiar.
But, look, you know, I think what's important to remember about what Rudy Giuliani says and about -- you know, all -- what the president says especially on Twitter is that it's designed to go into the conservative ecosphere. It's designed to get into Fox News, Breitbart, various, you know, Websites that are supportive so that people can start saying the same thing.
[20:20:02] No such thing -- there was no collusion, and even if there was collusion, it's not a crime.
You will certainly start to hear that more often in the conservative media world.
I'm sorry. Go ahead, Dana. I didn't mean to interrupt --
BASH: No, no, it is. You're exactly right. It is designed to do that.
But I was talking to some people in the Trump orbit today, particularly the political orbit today, who are noting that he is pretty comfortable with where the base is right now, as he should be. According to almost all the polls, he's got sky-high approval rating among Republicans.
And in this particular case, it might be less strategic and more knee- jerk personal. He's upset about Michael Cohen. He's upset about the fact that the special counsel is talking to somebody who, Anderson, as you were just discussing with the former Trump Org executive who is was very much in the inner circle.
BASH: And he is lashing out.
In addition to the fact that they are desperately trying to -- at least in the last few months, successfully so, chip away at the credibility and the integrity of this investigation.
COOPER: Dana, thank you. Jeff Toobin, Carrie Cordero, as well. Just ahead, a fiery debate on the president and Russia, specifically
their summit. The question two weeks later, why don't we know more about what actually went on behind closed doors? Why don't we know actually anything that went on behind closed doors between the president and Vladimir Putin?
Next, breaking news and potentially a slap in the face for President Trump who could be about his face and his summit with Kim Jong-un undone by a new report on Kim's missile program.
[20:25:49] COOPER: When the president took a fresh victory lap this afternoon for his summit with Kim Jong-un, he might have spoken too soon. The breaking news, new reporting in "The Washington Post." Here's the lead, quote: U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country's first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.
Joining us now by phone, one of the reporters on the byline, Joby Warrick.
So, Joby, these new missiles that North Korea is building, what do you know about them? What can you say about them?
JOBY WARRICK, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Well, one thing that has become clear to us, Anderson, over the last few months is that our insight into what is going on in North Korea is getting much better. North Korea was always a black box for intelligence. Now, we have a really good picture of what's going on inside some of these facilities and decision making by some of the leaders.
And what we see here is weapons being constructed at factory that made some of the most powerful weapons in North Korea's arsenal. And so, at a minimum, we can say that, you know, North Korea has not put on the brakes as far as its weapons program is concerned.
COOPER: What kind of evidence has U.S. intelligence gathered to show that this is happening? It is known?
WARRICK: Yes. We do know that some of this is -- photographs are being taken by the NGA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which looks not just at what we can see on the ground, but also has the ability to penetrate inside buildings and see what's going on inside.
And what we see is construction is continuing. They have hundreds of facilities around the countries that make weapons, and surprised, they haven't stopped work at many of these facilities. In fact, most of them are continuing to work.
COOPER: So, have the North Koreans made any kind of real moves at all to start a disarmament process? WARRICK: There has only been a couple, and they're not that
impressive, to be honest. The one that everyone is talking about, dismantlement of an engine test stand, that's where you take a rocket before you test it on an actual missile, and you just check its capacities and make sure it's working OK. They're taking apart one of those.
But they have already proven they have an engine that works. They don't really need this facility anymore. They can rebuild it fairly quickly if they want to. So, it's more of a symbolic move than anything else.
But the Secretary of State Pompeo just acknowledged this past week that fissile material, the stuff that makes nuclear weapons explode, that work continues. They're still making more of it. And now, we have indication that the missiles are still being made too.
COOPER: I mean, in fact, your reporting that the North Korean officials have been discussing how to deceive Washington about their nuclear capabilities. That sounds very alarming.
WARRICK: It is alarming. And the people that are listening to these conversations are catching these conversations in real time are very worried about it, because what we see in real time evidence that North Korean officials don't really take this very seriously. They want to offer some token gestures to dismantling their nuclear arsenal, perhaps giving up some weapons, allowing inspectors to see some facilities, but they have no intention of giving up everything. And that comes as no surprise when you think of nuclear weapons as being essential, at least in the eyes of the regime to the survival of Kim Jong-un and his family.
COOPER: Right. I mean, it sort of flies -- I mean, it certainly flies in the face what the president, you know, tweeted out when he came back about there is no more nuclear threat from North Korea. I mean, you reported that North Korea's stockpile of enriched uranium could be substantially higher than we think. Is that right?
WARRICK: And this is really important as well, Anderson, because we've always known about one facility. We've been able to actually go inside of it. American scientists visited this place called Yongbyon a few years ago. But we had suspicion at the time that there were other sites.
And now, we know of at least one other one. It's a big one. It's been working for at least 10 years. And that means that the stockpile of enriched uranium is probably much bigger than we knew even a few months ago.
COOPER: Oh. It's incredible reporting. Joby Warrick, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Also, I want to urge everybody. Joby wrote a book that I read a couple of years ago. I just think it's one of the really, best books I ever read, certainly about ISIS. It's called "Black Flags". It's all about the rise of ISIS, the history of al Qaeda. It's really an extraordinary, extraordinary book. I recommend everyone get it.
But far back to North Korea, the new developments that Joby's reporting on do not necessarily come as a surprise to people who know the country and its behavior over the years. It might, however, come as surprise to the president, who has gone out of his way to praise Mr. Kim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's got a great personality.
He is very talented.
Great personality and very smart. Good combination.
He's a -- you know, funny guy.
I learned he's a very talented man.
He loves his people. He loves his country.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: -- he is very talented.
Great personality and very smart. Good combination.
He's a, you know, funny guy.
He is a very talented man.
And loves his people. He loves his country.
He was really very gracious.
He's a very smart guy.
We've had a really great term together, a great relationship.
He is a great negotiator. I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea. And he wants to do what's right. He trusts me, I believe. I really do.
We got along right from the beginning. I think he liked me and I like him.
He's negotiating on behalf of his people, a very worthy, very smart negotiator. We had a terrific day.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So is the President recessing his views? No sign of so it far. Still plenty to talk. Joining us now CNN global affairs analyst, Max Boot and CNN military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
I mean should Max, this come as any surprise to anybody who has, you know, followed the history of North Korea and the United States and efforts that peace between the two countries?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it's entirely expected to everyone, Anderson, other than Donald Trump himself. I mean I think he is about the only person in the world and probably the only person in his own administration who actually thinks that as a result of the Singapore summit, the North Koreans were truly planning to give up their nuclear weapons, which they did not commit to. All they said is we will work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which means something very difficult for Kim Jong-un than it means for Donald Trump. But Donald Trump has been trying to convince the world that this was a stupendous deal, the problem is solved, there is no more nuclear threat. And the intelligence consistently contradicts those rosy assessments.
COOPER: General, I mean the reality is North Koreans, as Max said, they agreed to nothing as far as we know. So the fact that they're continuing to build these missiles, it's not even necessarily like they're breaking some agreement with the U.S., because there is nothing really specifically written down.
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They're not, Anderson. And Max and I are on the same page. We're talking about a dynasty, the Kim dynasty that has been in place for three generations. Grandfather, father, and now Kim Jong-un. You're not going to change their strategic approach in a morning session at a summit in Singapore. All of us who have been skeptical about this from the very beginning, and anyone who has served on the Korean peninsula knows that this just isn't the way it works in the real world when you're dealing with Kim Jong-un. He is not a good guy. He is not a charismatic leader. He is a vicious dictator who kills his own people. And he depends on these nuclear weapons, as he's been building them for the last several years, to give him power and to give him strength and to have other people fear him. Yes, this is not a surprise at all to anyone that knows this regime.
COOPER: Max, the post quoting a nonproliferation expert. I want to make sure I get it right, he says that the U.S. has this backwards. North Korea is not negotiating to give up their weapons. They're negotiating for recognition of their nuclear weapons, which is a completely different thing.
BOOT: Exactly. I think that's actually happened as a result of this process. Donald Trump has legitimated the North Korean regime. He has treated Kim Jong-un as an equal on the world stage. He's praised him to the skies as the clips that you just played showed that. And he has essentially led to relaxation of sanctions on North Korea because China is simply not enforcing sanctions in the same way they were before. And in fact, other countries just don't have any incentive to enforce the sanctions because Trump says the problem is solved.
So why would they want to, you know, inflict pain on themselves if the problem has been solved. So I think Kim Jong-un is actually getting what he wants, which is keeping the nuclear program, seeing sanctions relaxed, and seeing his profile enhanced on the world stage. He is getting pretty much everything he wants. The U.S. is getting almost nothing out of this.
COOPER: And General, I mean not only what Max talked about, you're also getting a stop to joint military maneuvers with South Korea that the U.S. has had for quite some time, and the fact that the North Koreans have been discussion, according to the post, how to deceive Washington by the number of warheads and missiles they have, I mean why should anyone expect them to do any differently?
HERTLING: They shouldn't. And that's the key issue, Anderson. You know, when you're talking about the military exercises, I think Mr. Trump got a lot of advice from his military leaders in the Defense Department is let's do a snapback exercise. If something wrong happens, let's immediately put them back into place and prove if you're going to say take them off the table, then at least be prepared to put them back. We did not do that. He has not taken the advice of anyone who is expert on many of these issues in south -- North Korea, as he hasn't with many other parts of the world. So it's to be expected what we're seeing right now. And it's more than unfortunate, it's extremely dangerous and just catastrophic that this is going on.
COOPER: General Hertling, thanks very much. Max Boot, we're going to talk to Max in a little bit. More insight of Max about President Trump's ongoing lack of details on his meeting Vladimir Putin, two weeks out, we still don't know what they talked about.
First, Rudy Giuliani's other mode of attack, how he is going after special counsel Robert Mueller now.
[20:38:24] COOPER: The breaking news. A White House official telling CNN that the President's press team is not, repeat, not coordinating with the President's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani who frankly would be hard to keep up. As you saw at the top of the program, he said a number of confusing things about the allegation that the President knew in advance about the campaign meeting with Russians. He was, however, a bit better focused where other aspects of the Russia probe are concerned, including his assertion that it's gone on too long.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: I don't respect credentials. I respect performance. I see a guy who's conducting an investigation, particularly the Russia collusion part that is by now obvious. You only can investigate an innocent man so long. See, if the guy didn't commit the bank robbery and you think he did and you keep investigating him, you're going to do it forever. Because you're going to keep coming up with Cohens and --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand. And we have due process. I understand all that but the investigation isn't done yet. And you know how long these things take. GIULIANI: Yes it is. Of course it's done. If they're looking at his tweets, the investigation is done. We're going to do obstruction by tweet on a President of the United States as an article of impeachment? Go read the law review articles about that. It's laughable. It's scary.
COOPER: So is the investigation over? Is Rudy Giuliani says? Joining us now CNN legal analyst Anne Milgram and CNN contributor Garrett Graff, author of the "Threat Made Tricks inside Robert Mueller's FBI in the War on Global Terror".
Anne, I mean t his notion that the Mueller investigation is over, it's something that frankly the Trump team has been saying now for quite some time. In relative terms, though, it actually hasn't been going on that long compared to the Benghazi investigation.
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
COOPER: Compared to Iran Contra.
MILGRAM: Yes. I mean, this investigation has actually moved very quickly. And if you look at all the indictments that have been brought, tomorrow the Manafort trial starts, it's moving very quickly. And so, they're moving pieces, you know, one piece at a time. As cases become ready, they charge them.
[20:40:08] But there's no question, it's moved very quickly. And, you know, Rudy Giuliani knows this, but the investigation is over when the investigation is over. And Mueller decides that there are no further leads to run down. And just because he says it's over does not make it true.
COOPER: Garrett, I mean Giuliani is saying he doesn't respect credentials, talking about Robert Mueller, he respects performance. You wrote a piece about Mueller's time in the military. Talked to a lot of people talked who serve with him. What did they tell you about his performance?
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is someone who is not getting distracted by Rudy Giuliani's comments on cable news sort of day in and day out. I mean, Anne just sort of said the most stunning part of this, which is Rudy Giuliani is one of the most talented and well- known and recognized U.S. attorneys in modern U.S. history. And the fact that he is sort of on TV on a daily basis pretending that he doesn't have the foggiest idea how a federal investigation goes down is just laughable, and it's frankly pathetic to watch him say the things that he says as empty as they are.
COOPER: Well, I mean well, you know, he talked about storm troopers, you know, going into I think it was in referencing going to Michael Cohen's office. The idea that Rudy Giuliani, you know, who was once Mr. law and order, is now calling FBI agents who are, you know, lawfully executing search warrants storm troopers is pretty shocking and disturbing. GRAFF: Yes. I mean Rudy Giuliani would not be where he is today as celebrated a figure he at least once was without the hard work of hundreds of FBI agents backing him up in cases big and small across the southern district of New York. And the idea that the mayor of New York City on 9/11 is attacking the man who led the FBI's investigation into 9/11 is sort of unfathomable now, if you fast forward this, you know, 17 years since that event.
COOPER: And Garrett brings this up in his piece is that we don't know what Rick Gates or Michael Flynn or George Papadopoulos have told Robert Mueller. In fact, we don't know -- we've only seen the tip of the iceberg of the stuff that Robert Mueller has. So for Rudy Giuliani to be latching on to tweets, that's -- you know, is, you know, I understand why he would be doing that, but it's not reflective of what actually is happening below the surface in the Mueller investigation.
MILGRAM: There's no question about it. I mean what Giuliani is latching on to also are when the counsel's office, when Mueller's office is saying we want to ask about these things, he is latching on to them as that's all the evidence that they have, which of course we know is not the case. Tomorrow Gates starting tomorrow in the Manafort trial, Gates will start cooperating. So we'll only then start to hear what the full scope of the evidence. When it comes to Flynn, we still don't know fully who he's cooperated against, how many people he is cooperating against, what his information is.
So it is like an iceberg where you only see the tip. And it's not until the cases are brought and tried that the public will get to see all the information.
COOPER: And Garrett, you also make the point that that we don't know if Mueller is done with Manafort, whether he'll bring additional charges, whether there will be any plea deal. I mean how much do you think we'll learn from Manafort's trial which as Anne said starts tomorrow in Virginia?
GRAFF: We're going learn a lot. And the other thing is Paul Manafort is going to learn a lot. I mean, he's almost 70 years old. He is already in jail for witness tampering during the course of the trial preparation, staring at potentially as many as 300 years in federal prison. It's not going take a lot for him to be staring down a life sentence if this trial begins to go poorly. So I think the big thing to watch is how Paul Manafort thinks his own trial is going and does he think at some point over the next couple of days that taking a plea deal with Bob Mueller is the better part of valor.
COOPER: I mean such an interesting idea that, you know, he changes his tune as he sees how his trial is going.
MILGRAM: Right. I mean -- you know, I think this is interesting in a lot of ways. I don't expect that Manafort will plead guilty. If he is going to plead guilty, I think we would see it tomorrow, candidly, before the start of trial. And the reason I don't think we'll necessarily see it is that this is a paper case, right? This is a case where the government has followed the money trail. So, even when you look at the indictment, they're going to provide evidence on all these pieces, and now they also have Gates as a cooperator. So I think the truth is that the case is going to be extraordinarily strong against him. He may have a view that it's not as strong as it goes in, but, you know, it's not just a he said-she said thing. It's going to be follow the documents and the bank records. And I suspect that by the end of the government's opening, they're going to have details, a pretty lengthy and extensive road map of how Manafort committed a number of crime.
COOPER: Anne Milgram, thank you. Garrett Graff, thank you as well.
The President bragged again today about how great his meeting with Vladimir Putin was. Still two weeks out we still have no really anything about what happened behind closed doors. Will we ever get any answers? We'll talk about that ahead.
[20:48:41] COOPER: Well, it may be one of the world's greatest mysteries. What happened at the two-hour plus sit-down between Vladimir Putin and President Trump in Helsinki. The President brought this back into the news cycle today.
TRUMP: I had a great meeting, in my opinion. Of course the fake news didn't cover it that way. But I had a great meeting with President Putin of Russia.
COOPER: Says it great meeting. But didn't cover it that way because we had no idea what actually took place in that meeting. Max Boot is here, CNN global affairs analyst, and Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton.
Max, let's start with you. I mean, the President saying he had a great meeting with Vladimir Putin. The fact is, it's been two weeks now. We still don't know what went on behind closed doors between these two.
BOOT: That's exactly right, Anderson. And Trump is aggrieved that he's not getting the credit that he thinks he deserves. But we have no idea what the heck happened. And if you listen to Mike Pompeo's testimony last week, even Secretary Pompeo doesn't have a clear idea of what happened. This is not normal. This is not what normally happens when two leaders meet. You're seeing Trump continuing to praise Putin, and we don't know the substance of what they discussed. That's a scary scenario.
COOPER: Steven, I mean do you think it's problematic that we don't know what was said in that two-plus hour meeting between these two world leaders? And, you know, as Max said, it seemed like Mike Pompeo or even others maybe even have a firm grasp on what was said. [20:50:00] STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, NYU: I don't think it's unusual. We do have a pretty good sense of what was discussed both from what Trump's people have said. But equally from two or three speeches Putin has given. Let me just round (ph) them off, because I was looking at them today. They discussed trying to avoid a new nuclear arms race by keeping alive two treaties that exist. They talked about peace in Syria, including securing Israeli borders from Iranian forces. That would be very important to Americans, I think. They talked about the possibility of a joint alliance against terrorists who are in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. They talked about doing more business, which doesn't make much sense because of the sanctions. And they talked in some way about the United States becoming more involved in the Minsk Agreement, which is the only agreement we have to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
COOPER: But how do you know that's what they actually talked about?
COHEN: That was saying (INAUDIBLE) those are good things.
BOOT: You have to take Putin's word this is what they talked about.
COHEN: This is what the Russian side has said.
COOPER: Right. So, you're going on the --
COHEN: Well, there's been --
COOPER: You're believing Vladimir Putin on this?
COHEN: But -- well, I don't want to shock you, but I believe Vladimir Putin on several things. But the point is, is this has been confirmed by a number of Trump's people. Trump himself made some statements, we discussed this.
COOPER: It hasn't really been confirmed, I mean --
COHEN: Yes, he doesn't talk like a normal diplomat.
COOPER: What President Trump actually said to Vladimir Putin is only known to Vladimir Putin and to President Trump. Even if Putin comes forward and says, I said this, or even if President Trump comes forward and says, I said this, we don't know for sure. The only thing we know for sure is what happened in that press conference. Did what happen at that press conference concern you at all, Stephen?
COHEN: Well, let me give you an example. I being older than both of you, maybe you don't remember. In early 1986, President Ronald Reagan met alone with then Soviet leader Gorbachev for a think about 2 1/2 hours. And everybody was very upset about it because Reagan was getting older in years and people were worried. When the guys came out, Reagan and Gorbachev, they said, we've decided to abolish nuclear weapons. And aides on both sides said, you can't do that just like that. So they backed off. But what happened one year later? Reagan and Gorbachev abolished a whole category of nuclear weapons, the intermediate range.
COHEN: So good things got done, and nobody else knew except the two translators what was said in there. So there's precedent.
BOOT: OK, Steve --
COOPER: President Trump today talked about meeting with the Iranian President, Rouhani, with no pre-conditions. Does that surprise you? Would that be wise?
BOOT: It's not surprising to me at all, Anderson. In fact, I predicted over a week ago when Trump came out with that semi-deranged tweet in all capital letters threatening consequences the likes of which you've never seen before to Iran. Based on his pattern, you can easily predict that after threatening these horrible consequences, Trump will then try to set up a meeting, glad-hand, and before long he'll probably be praising Rouhani for being credibly intelligent, smart, witty, warm, and reaching a deal that has no substance to it whatsoever. That's his pattern.
The striking thing to me is although he's willing to threaten North Korea, he's willing to threaten Iran, he never threatens Russia. And that's why a lot of intelligence officials think that there is something highly suspect in the relationship between Putin and Trump.
COHEN: I have no idea what Mr. Boot is talking about. He wants Trump to threaten Russia? Why would we threaten Russia? You've got two nuclear --
BOOT: Because they're attacking us, Professor Cohen. Russia is attacking us right now according to Trump's own director of National Intelligence.
COHEN: I've been studying Russia for 45 years. I've lived in Russia, and I've lived here.
COHEN: Excuse me. What did you say to me?
BOOT: I said you've been consistently apologizing to Russia in those last 45 years?
COHEN: Right, I don't do defamation of people. I do serious analysis of serious national security problems. When people like you call people like me, and not only me, but people more eminent than me, apologists for Russia because we don't agree with your analysis, you are criminalizing diplomacy and detente and you are the threat to American national security end of story. Why do you have to defame somebody you don't agree with? They used to do that in the old Soviet Union. We don't do that here, where we used to, but we need to stop it.
COOPER: So, finally -- just finally Stephen, you're saying Russia was not attacking the United States?
COHEN: I know what you're talking about. They didn't -- during the 2016 election, Russia attacked the United States. Yes, I don't think they attacked the United States.
BOOT: OK. And yet you just denied being an apologist for Russia. You're apologizing for Russia as we speak.
COHEN: Well, you haven't let me finish. You don't know what I'm going to say.
[20:55:02] COOPER: Please go ahead.
COHEN: The meddling began, Mr. Cooper, and -- the meddling began right after the Russian revolution when Woodrow Wilson sent American troops to fight in the Russian civil war.
BOOT: Oh, please.
COHEN: The meddling began on the Soviet and Russians -- let me finish. On the meddling side when the communists formed communists international 1919, ever since then, Moscow has meddled in our politics. We have meddled in theirs. This is low level stuff that went on. It is not an attack. It is 9/11. It is not Pearl Harbor. It is not Russian paratroopers descending on Russia. This kind of hyperbole and attack on America suggests we need to attack Russia. So you've got Mr. Boot saying that Trump should threaten Russia. With what? Does he want to attack.
BOOT: Try sanctions.
COHEN: I think that Mr. Boot would have been happy if Trump had waterboarded Putin at the summit and made him confess. Trump carried out an act of diplomacy fully consistent with the history of American presidencies. Let us see what comes of it. Then judge.
COOPER: All right, Stephen Cohen, Max Boot, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
COHEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, the goal post moved again. Now the President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani is saying he doesn't know if colluding with Russians is a crime. What we're learning -- hearing from the White House tonight, next.