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Manafort Convicted, Cohen Pleads Guilty; Ex-Lawyer Blames Trump in Campaign Finance Crime; Twitter Suspends 284 Accounts; Microsoft Prevents Russia Hacking; Korean Families Bid Their Final Goodbyes; Disputes Over Impact Of Trump's Coal Emissions Rollbacks; Divers Free Shark From Death By Plastic; Priest Charged In Case Involving. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired August 22, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The lawyer who once vowed he would take a bullet for Donald Trump is now implicating the president in a crime. More on Michael Cohen's explosive allegation in open court.
This happened the same day President Trump's former campaign chairman was found guilty of financial crimes. We will look at the fallout from Paul Manafort's conviction.
Later, time to say goodbye, perhaps for the last time. The emotional family reunions for those separated by the Korean War are coming to an end.
Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I am Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: It is hard to overstate what a catastrophe the past 10 hours has been for Donald Trump and two men who were once among his closest advisors. They helped him through critical parts of his presidential campaign and are guilty of felony charges that could land them in prison for decades.
A jury in Virginia has found former campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of eight financial crimes, it's the first case special counsel Robert Mueller's team has taken to trial.
The jury could not reach a verdict on 10 counts against Manafort but they did find him guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of hiding foreign bank accounts. The 69- year-old Paul Manafort faces up to 80 years in prison.
What happened in a New York courthouse could have much bigger implications for President Trump. His former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight charges including campaign finance violations and said he acted under Mr. Trump's direction.
The president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, issued this statement, "There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflected a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time."
CNN's Brynn Gingras has more now on Mr. Cohen's plea.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen implicating President Trump as he pleads guilty to eight charges of tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time.
GINGRAS (voice-over): Though not mentioning either by name, it was clear through evidence and the dollar amounts that Cohen was referring to payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and former "Playboy" Playmate Karen McDougal when pleading guilty to the campaign finance violations.
He also did not mention Trump by name but said to the judge the payment regarding Karen McDougal was, quote, "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."
Cohen also said he kept information from becoming public, quote, "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."
CNN has reached out to the president's personal attorneys for comment; the White House declined to comment.
Michael Cohen is facing 65 years in prison, he posted a $500,000 bond and will face sentencing on December 12th.
Cohen is not required to cooperate with the government as part of his plea agreement, according to one source. The president's attorney turned fixer has been under federal investigation for months. Authorities have been looking into his business dealings, including $20 million in loans involving his taxi business --Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: CNN legal analyst Laura Coates joins me now.
Always good to have you with us.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you. Glad to be here.
CHURCH: Two of Donald Trump's men facing justice Tuesday. In Michael Cohen's case, his guilty plea directly implicates a sitting president. Michael Cohen says he paid women hush money at the direction of candidate Donald Trump and this is what Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, tweeted.
"Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.
"If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
Wow. So what is your reaction to that?
Is he right, did Donald Trump commit a crime here?
COATES: It certainly says he did, according to the statements made by Michael Cohen. I can't impress upon you enough the gravity of this. You have a sitting president, one of his right-hand man, who knows him best of all, known as his fixer, comes out in a court of law saying --
COATES: -- he acted with the direction and in cahoots with the President of the United States to commit a felony offense and more than one.
This goes back to the understanding of what the executive branch does. The President of United States overseas the Department of Justice, it is his job to ensure that he is abiding by the laws of the land.
To have him implicated in this crime is astounding. Having said that, the campaign finance laws here in the U.S. are quite clear. There is a cap on the amount of money that you give to an election campaign.
There's also a reporting requirement that corresponds with whatever money you give. You can't simply circumvent those laws by having somebody pay it in advance and pay them back later through a loan, before or after the election.
If you did that, there would be no point of having the election campaign finance laws, because you could just wait until you win in order to have that money be shielded. What you are seeing here is the President of the United States being taken to task for actions and activities that influence the presidential election. That is shocking.
CHURCH: So if President Trump committed a crime here, what happens next?
Because you can't indict a sitting president.
COATES: Well, there is a policy at the Department of Justice. And the policy is not necessarily the rule of law. It doesn't come with the same precedential value as a Supreme Court decision.
But it says, under the DOJ policy, we don't want to throw the government into complete chaos by having a president be indicted and sitting in a criminal trial. But the notion is very nuanced, it must be a sitting president, it does not mean that if impeachment proceedings came about and impeachment was the result, you could not then indict a no longer sitting president.
This is ironically very similar to what happened in Watergate, where you had Richard Nixon, named as a unindicted co-conspirator, based on that same policy that you couldn't indict a sitting president.
Ultimately he did not face the criminal charges, because of what happened next in America. But certainly, a president could have the political consequence and could, once he is not the President of the United States, still face the same charges. But really we are in uncharted territory here.
CHURCH: This is the situation, two legal blows for the President of the United States, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Now those two legal blows are fueling this chatter about a possible impeachment.
But what would the process be next?
Surely, Michael Cohen would need to prove he was directed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump could say he is a liar.
COATES: He could. There is a court of law, felonies and misdemeanors, corresponding to different levels of charges, then under the impeachment, you've got high crimes and misdemeanors.
They don't necessarily correspond to your normal viewpoint of what is a felony and what is a misdemeanor. Essentially crimes that are committed that undermine the power and the credibility of the office, including things certainly like trying to get involved in campaign finance violations or any felony offense.
The process normally for impeachment are articles of impeachment drafted in the House, meaning the House serves as kind of a jury, a grand jury, to say we think there has been a wrong, a high crime or misdemeanor or equivalent. We would like this person to be tried for impeachment.
Then it goes to the Senate and they have a trial-like proceeding. That is all incumbent on a willing House and a willing Senate to do either of those two things. That normally has a partisan affiliation to it. As you know, here in the United States, it's run by the Republicans on both the House and the Senate sides.
There's not a whole lot of incentive to (INAUDIBLE) the Republican Party, particularly before the midterm elections. If that shifted this coming November, perhaps there's different incentive to do so.
But ultimately, it all rests with the political process. One final thing, Robert Mueller, his job as special counsel, is to write a report to Rod Rosenstein, who is acting in place of the recused Jeff Sessions.
He will write a report that goes to Congress to recommend all of his findings. And you can be sure that part of it will be that the President of the United States was implicated in committing felony crimes in the state of New York, with somebody who was his right-hand man. That will be part of the calculus that they will consider, in Congress, about whether or not to impeach a sitting president.
CHURCH: You would see Robert Mueller getting involved in this?
Not all legal analysts agree on that particular matter.
COATES: Robert Mueller did farm out the case of the Southern District of New York because the crimes that were alleged with Michael Cohen did not come out necessarily of his directive of collusion, looking into collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.
Michael Cohen may have been the right-hand man of Donald Trump but he wasn't technically part of the campaign, although we are seeing --
COATES: -- campaign finance violations that came out of it.
So he farmed it out. Because you farm a piece of it out, it doesn't mean that he doesn't retain some greater authority in the long run to reclaim portions of it. Ultimately, he will have the task of drafting a report that encompasses all the different aspects of the case.
Now the case involving Michael Cohen came out of his mandate, in the sense that, if you think about the collusion investigation, they have the directive to be able to investigate a murder in a home. In the process of looking into that murder, they've passed by a coffee table with a mound full of drugs.
They are not required to walk by it, ignore it and not press charges simply because their ultimate directive was the homicide investigation. Michael Cohen, in many ways, is the coffee table with drugs, to say we saw this. We presented it to somebody else to more effectively deal with it.
But I can still incorporate it because it fell under the umbrella of things that I was entitled to look at under my mandate and, because of that, it will be included in the report.
CHURCH: That's a good analogy there, Laura Coates, we thank you always for your legal analysis.
COATES: Thank you.
CHURCH: Pornography star Stormy Daniels feels vindicated after Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law. As we heard earlier, Michael Cohen implicated Donald Trump in the illegal payment of $130,000 to silence her over an alleged affair.
And now her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tells CNN's Chris Cuomo, he is coming after Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I know for a fact that Michael Cohen is cooperating and providing information to federal prosecutors, so there is no reason why they would've entered into this plea agreement were he not cooperating. Michael Cohen has a lot of information.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So you don't need a cooperation deal to be cooperating?
AVENATTI: Exactly, and I think that point is critical. You don't have to have it in writing in the documents to have an agreement in place. I am highly confident, in fact, I know, Michael Cohen has been providing information. Prosecutors at SDNY are expecting him to continue to cooperate because, if he doesn't, they have the ultimate hammer.
That is, at the sentencing stage, which will take place in December, they can ask for either an upward departure or the maximum. They have a significant hammer in their toolbox in the event Michael Cohen doesn't cooperate.
CUOMO: Same with Manafort?
AVENATTI: Same with Paul Manafort. We have a pending motion ability to depose Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. I think there's zero chance we don't get a deposition of Michael Cohen. And I think there is a significant likelihood that we will get a deposition of Donald Trump.
What that will mean is, I will have an opportunity to ask Michael Cohen and Donald Trump questions under oath. Under oath -- it is one thing to lie to you or other members of the press. It's an entirely different thing to lie under oath.
I will be able to ask difficult questions of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump about what they knew, when they knew it, what they did about it and what they did to cover it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And with Michael Cohen's guilty plea, we are witnessing an extraordinary U-turn in his relationship with Donald Trump. CNN's Randi Kaye has more now on the man who proudly defended and protected Mr. Trump for years -- until now.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen's loyalty to Donald Trump seemingly unmatched, once telling "Vanity Fair" magazine he would take a bullet for his boss.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: They say I am Mr. Trump's pit bull, that I am his -- I'm his right-hand man.
KAYE (voice-over): Right-hand man until the relationship went south. For more than a decade, Cohen was --
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Three big tech --
CHURCH: -- companies, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft, say they're taking major steps to remove fake and malicious content.
Twitter announced it has identified and removed hundreds of accounts for, quote, "engaging in coordinated manipulation."
Working with law enforcement and other companies, it found many of them originated in Iran.
Facebook announced it removed 652 pages, accounts or groups that it says were part of a coordinated disinformation campaign. Some of the pages originated in Iran or Russia. Facebook says they were spreading misinformation in the United States, the United Kingdom, Latin America and the Middle East, while posing as a group called Liberty Front Press.
In the meantime, Microsoft says it has taken control of six phony websites created by hackers tied to Russian military intelligence. The sites were designed to fool users into thinking they belonged to two U.S.-based conservative think tanks and the U.S. Senate.
As it always does, the Kremlin denied any knowledge of involvement with the websites. Our Drew Griffin has more than that.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The target this time, conservatives, Republican leaning think tanks with strong anti-Kremlin views. But the playbook is just like 2016 all over again.
Domains with names like senate.group and adfs_senate.email, apparently poised to target political staffers, campaigns, anyone in politics and trick them into giving up a password or a way in for Russian hacking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was clearly designed for what are called spear phishing attacks, this notion of sending somebody an e-mail, having them click on a link.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It's almost the same scenario the Russians used to steal emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in 2016.
Microsoft says it caught them early this time and prevented any attacks. The hacking plan included two Republican leaning groups critical of Putin. The International Republican Institute, whose board includes six serving senators, and The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank that has been focusing on Russian government corruption.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not surprised, we have a tough line in Russia, as do many of our peers. I think our work has gotten underneath their skin because of our focus on kleptocracy and on the circle around Vladimir Putin. And I think it's clearly gotten to them.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): In Moscow, continued denial that anyone connected to the Russian government has anything to do with hacking or even meddling in U.S. elections.
"What is the proof and on what grounds are they reaching such conclusions?" a Kremlin spokesman said, saying Microsoft is participating in a "witch hunt." And without explanation, this.
"From the U.S., we hear there was not any meddling in the elections."
The Kremlin position is oddly similar to President Trump, who still seems to question what his own national security team has confirmed, that Russians meddled in the 2016 election campaign and continue to do so now.
In a Reuters interview on Monday, the president said, "if the Russians meddled."
Microsoft president Brad Smith says there is no if about what just took place.
BRAD SMITH, PRESIDENT, MICROSOFT: There is no doubt that they were responsible for these six sites, there's no doubt that they were responsible for really the most serious attacks in 2016 and the attacks that we saw in France in the presidential election last year.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
CHURCH: They waited nearly seven decades to reunite with their loved ones. Now 89 Korean families are forced to separate yet again. They spent 12 hours together over the past three days, not nearly long enough to make up for all that time apart. Soon, their South Korean relatives will return home and thousands of others are still hoping to live long enough for their own chance at one of these long- awaited reunions.
Our Paula Hancocks is live in South Korea, joining us now. Paula, as this round of family reunions came to a tearful end, are
there any plans to make these events more regular, including more of the 57,000 people still waiting to reunite with their loved ones?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, that is the hope from the South Korean side. But it always has been the hope from the South Korean side, it's not just up to one of the Koreas. Pyongyang has to agree.
It is really only when relations between North and South Korea are good that these reunions happen. So we are here where, just a couple of days ago, very excited families were getting on a bus, heading to the North Korean side of the DMZ and meeting with families that they haven't seen in decades, that in many cases they didn't even know whether they were --
HANCOCKS: -- still alive. We have certainly seen some very emotional images from those reunions in the North. But they have already said their goodbyes. They are heading down on their buses, back to South Korea. They will be here in a couple of hours.
So they have already said goodbye, they know they are very unlikely to see those family members again. This is something that the head of the Red Cross, when I spoke to him here in South Korea, was talking about, that they want to make sure that, once they have had these reunions, that is not it, because at this point, they have no further communication.
They don't see each other again but he wants to try to make sure that there is some kind of communication between the two sides afterwards as well. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, himself from a separated family and was part of one of these family reunions in the past with his mother, meeting his auntie for the first time, he said that this is a top priority for him, from a humanitarian point of view, to try and make sure there are more of these reunions.
Of course the South Korean side can say all it wants. The U.N. secretary-general has called for more reunions. It is up to Pyongyang if they want to do this again.
CHURCH: It is a heartbreaking situation.
Paula, do we have any idea when the next round of family reunions will likely happen?
Have there been any discussions moving in that direction?
HANCOCKS: There are going to be more reunions later this week, this is within this reunion this time, there's going to be families from North Korea that have applied to be part of these reunions.
And the South Korean counterparts will be heading north to meet them. So there is this second round that is coming up. But beyond that, we don't know whether there will be any in the future, certainly, as I say, there have been calls for many more to happen, 57,000 people from the South Korean side were eligible for these reunions.
They are still waiting. We have spoken to some of them, there's bitter disappointment they have not been involved. Even a couple of days ago here, one man came to protest that his 90-year-old father was developing dementia and so soon he wouldn't even be able to remember his relatives from a medical point of view, let alone the fact that he has been parted from them for many decades.
So it is a desperate race against time to try to reunite as many of these families as possible and to reunite them in a more permanent sense than just three days in North Korea.
In a couple of hours' time, we'll see 89 families descending from a bus, having been in North Korea, this is the most heartbreaking moment, knowing that that is probably it, that they won't see them again in the future.
So there is really a couple of elements to this, yes, there needs to be more reunions. Yes, these reunions need to encompass a larger number of separated families. But there needs to be, according to the Red Cross head, a continued communication once they have met.
CHURCH: Let's hope that happens. It is so very sad. Our Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date from South Korea, many thanks.
It was a stunning day of rapid-fire developments in two U.S. courtrooms. Coming up, the legal implications of the plea deal and conviction of two of Donald Trump's close associates.
Plus the Trump administration is lifting standards for coal emissions and critics are howling about more pollution and more health problems. Back with that in a moment.
[02:30:48] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. Donald Trump's former lawyer admits he broke campaign finance laws in 2016, and that then candidate Trump directed him to do so. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts including bank and tax fraud. He arranged payments to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Facebook and Twitter have removed hundreds of accounts that they say were part of a coordinated disinformation campaign. Some of the accounts originated in Iran, others in Russia. Meantime, Microsoft removed six phony websites saying they were created by hackers tied to Russian military intelligence. After briefly reuniting in North Korea, 89 families torn between the North and South now have to separate again.
They spent 12 hours together over the past three days trying to catch up with relatives they have not seen in nearly seven decades. South Korea's president is vowing to make more family reunions a top priority. All right. Back to our top story now, Michael Cohen, the man long known as Donald Trump's fixer could face roughly five years in prison for his guilty plea on Tuesday. But that sentence could depend on whether Cohen chooses to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
As of now, there's nothing to suggest he will do so, and cooperation is not part of his plea deal. Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of false statements to a bank, one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of excessive campaign contribution. The deputy U.S. attorney says the charges reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty that are especially significant when done by a lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT KHUZAMI, DEPUTY UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to two campaign finance charges, one for causing an unlawful corporate contribution and the second one for personally making an excessive personal contribution both for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election. In addition, what he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign.
In addition, Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidates company which were untrue and false. They indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2070 when in fact those invoices were a sham.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, several hundred kilometers away at nearly the same time as Cohen's plea, a jury found President Trump's former campaign chairman guilty of financial crimes. Jessica Schneider has that.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A guilty verdict for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who faced a 12 day trial for financial crimes. The six men and six women on the jury finding Manafort guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts. But the judge declaring a mistrial on 10 other counts. As the verdict was read, Paul Manafort remained stone-faced while his wife Kathy sat a few rows behind him expressed no emotion.
Her hands clasped in her lap. Manafort's defense team had projected optimism throughout the four days of deliberation.
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT'S LAWYER: Mr. Paul Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts.
SCHNEIDER: This jury considered 18 complicated counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts. The jury asked for clarification on the counts just twice. Last Thursday, they asked the judge for further explanation about the standard for conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Tuesday morning they asked what they should do if they couldn't reach unanimous decision on a single count.
[02:35:04] The judge instructed them to go back to the jury room and try again. Hours later, they emerged with their verdict. Prosecutors made their case against Manafort with 27 witnesses and more than 300 documents explaining that Manafort made more than $60 million from his lobbying work in Ukraine, and that he allegedly hid it in 31 foreign bank accounts. They also showcase Manafort's extravagant purchases including five homes spanning from Manhattan to Virginia, a $15,000 ostrich coat, and a $10,000 karaoke machine.
But they acknowledged we're not in the courtroom today because Mr. Manafort is wealthy. It is because Mr. Manafort filed false tax returns. It is not a crime in this country to be wealthy. The defense did not president any witnesses and Manafort himself did not testify. But during their closing arguments, the defense pointed to Manafort's decades of work as a political consultant for Presidents Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford, and President Trump.
PAUL MANAFORT, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Today at around 7:30, Mr. Trump will be the nominee of the Republican Party. So we're excited about that.
SCHNEIDER: The defense team also argued Manafort was a victim of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation telling the jury no one seemed concerned about Manafort's dealings with banks until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions saying clearly their goal was to stack up the counts. Manafort's is the first case brought to trial by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, a probe often dismissed by the president as a witch hunt.
But now, one of his former top aides found guilty. The president so far has been quiet when it comes to offering his former campaign chairman a pardon, but he has made his disdain for the trial known.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, it's a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion.
CHURCH: Our thanks to Jessica Schneider for that report. So let's bring in former federal prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin who also worked with Robert Mueller at the Department of Justice. Thank you so much for being with us.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: My pleasure.
CHURCH: So two of Donald Trump's men facing justice Tuesday. Michael Cohen's case, the biggest story with him pleading guilty and implicating a sitting president. Cohen says he paid women hush money at the direction of a candidate that of course being Donald Trump. This is what Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis tweeted. Today, he stood up and testified under oath. He's doing that Cohen there obviously. That Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't
they be a crime for Donald Trump? Is Cohen's attorney right there? Did Donald Trump commit a crime and will Cohen be able to prove he was directed by Mr. Trump in this instance?
ZELDIN: So that's the $64,000 question. Cohen's side of the story is that Donald Trump directed me to do this. It has to be verified that that's the case, but that's the story that Cohen said under oath in court while entering his plea of guilty. If it's able to be proved to be true, then, yes, Donald Trump would be aiding and abetting or conspiring with Cohen to violate campaign finance laws, and candidate Cohen -- candidate Trump would have an additional charge of filing a false campaign report with the Federal Election Commission that left out that payment, and that's a separate five year lying to federal officials crime. So if provable, this is serious stuff.
CHURCH: So how big a problem could this proved to be for President Trump? And will this be something that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation will look into?
ZELDIN: I don't think it would be in Mueller's, you know, bailey wig. It's mostly going to be in the Southern District of New York's ambit. However, where this falls for the president is because the President of the United States by Justice Department policy cannot be indicted himself. This becomes a political evaluation by the House of Representatives to determine whether or not this activity amounts to something that should invoke an inquiry into impeachment.
CHURCH: Do you think it would go that far?
ZELDIN: Well, you know, in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it's not likely to go that far. In a Democratic House of Representatives, I would think that they would open an inquiry whether it goes there, you know, all the way through to the end remains to be seen. But it's serious stuff when you encourage somebody to lie about the, you know, authenticity of your election.
CHURCH: How concerned do you think Mr. Trump would be right now?
[02:40:07] ZELDIN: I think he should be concerned. It's not, you know, something that one would feel comfortable when your lawyer says under oath in a federal court that Mr. Trump told me to commit a crime. That can't make you comfortable. And in fact, if you look at Giuliani, Trump's legal representative who speaks to the media's statement on this. He said, well, Cohen didn't say that we committed a crime.
He just said and he's trying to, you know, deconstruct somehow that we were involved. So he's really parsing words, Giuliani, to keep the president, you know, sort of clean in this case, but it's really not going to be that way.
CHURCH: And if this is in -- if this isn't enough, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, how will that likely impact President Trump? ZELDIN: So you think what a day within an hour of one another his
personal lawyer and his campaign chairman each are found guilty of felonious conduct. That can't make you feel comfortable. Whether or not the Paul Manafort case involves the president will be determined on whether or not Manafort now having been convicted and facing another trial on almost identical charges in the District of Columbia will decide that it's time for him to cooperate with Robert Mueller.
And if he has something to say like for example, he, Manafort, can testify that the president knew about the June 9th meeting when the Russians came over to give dirt on Hillary Clinton then maybe he has a bargaining chip with Mueller that Mueller will accept in exchange for some sort of reduced sentence.
CHURCH: So two of the president's men in a lot of trouble here within hours of each other, where does all of this leave the U.S. presidency and of course what are the optics?
ZELDIN: Well, I think the optics are terrible. Where it leaves the presidency is that those who are supporters of the president I think aren't going to be discouraged. Nothing seems to have shaken their confidence in him and would be surprised if this does too. But what will be interesting is whether or not any of the House Republicans who are running for election find themselves needing now to distance themselves from this president, and if so, that could be a bit of a game changer for the president as he moves forward in his presidency.
CHURCH: Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for your analysis. Always appreciate it.
ZELDIN: Thank you very much.
CHURCH: And coming up, heart problems, breathing issues, even more deaths expected, so why is the Trump administration allowing more carbon emissions into the air? We'll take a look at that. And a week after a scathing grand jury report, a new case of abuse involving a Pennsylvania priest and a teenage girl.
[02:45:42] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the Trump administration will now let's state set their own carbon emission standards for coal fuel power plants.
Environmental and medical groups say rolling back important safeguards will be bad for the health of Americans. And even the agency backing the plan admits the extra pollution could lead to more premature deaths.
We're looking at the numbers here. It is estimated the increased emissions could lead to 36,000 additional deaths over the next decade. And 630 thousand cases of respiratory ailments in children. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more now on some of the dangers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When you're looking at this particulate matter, P.M. as they're called, there's nothing that you'd see. They're 130th the size for example of a human hair.
But, you take them into your system and for people who are especially at risk of heart and lung disease, this can be really problematic. It can cause premature death in those folks. It can cause non-fatal heart attacks, it can interfere with the normal conduction of one's heartbeat, increase asthma. All the things you see on the list.
Of most people, if I never seen a coal-fired power plant, you don't know what it looks like. But people see cars driving around all the time. If you looked at the Clean Power Act and the impact, by the year 2030, it would have been sort of like taking 160 million cars off the road.
Under these new regulations, again, they're still being defined but projections are maybe more like taking 8 million cars off the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, there. So, let's talk with Janet McCabe about this year's the former head of the EPA air office that devised the Clean Power Plan during the Obama administration. Good to have you with us.
JANET MCCABE, FORMER ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, OFFICE OF AIR AND RADIATION, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: So, the EPA's own estimate says this new rollback would result in 1,400 more premature deaths per year as of 2030. What do you make of this new rule?
MCCABE: Well, it's a -- it's a quite a change from the Clean Power Plan that was enacted in 2015. Those additional deaths that they themselves are identifying are the result of the particulate matter and other air pollutants that come along for the ride with the CO2 that's emitted by coal-fired power plants.
And this rule would require so much less reduction that we would have coal plants running more in this country. And as a result, emitting more of those traditional pollutants that are the ones that cause those more immediate health impacts.
CHURCH: And supporters of this rule, say it would help the middle class. Let's just listen to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The so-called Clean Power Plan they dreamed of would have had no meaningful effect on global emissions. It would, however, have packed up middle-class American jobs and sent them right overseas.
It would have piled a heavier burden onto the most vulnerable families, lower-income Americans, or hit the hardest when energy costs take off. And this plan was projected to yield double-digit percentage increases in electricity costs in 40 states, of course, including Kentucky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, what's your reaction to what he was saying, mate?
MCCABE: Well, there just a lot of things in that statement that I disagree with as a matter of fact. One of the most striking ones, since he was talking about impacts on lower income people, is that the Clean Power Plan was actually projected to lower energy bills.
And there's a difference between energy prices and energy bills. What we found in 2015, was that one of the cheapest ways to reduce carbon dioxide which, of course, is what the Clean Power Plan was all about was reducing pollution is through energy efficiency.
And that is happening in the normal course of the development of technology. Every time you buy an electronic device, it is much more efficient than the one you had before. And that's continuing to be a very, very cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
So, as the system gets more efficient, people's bills go down. And we actually projected that by 2030, the average electricity bill would be about eight percent lower than it would be without the Clean Power Plan. So, that -- so we're just on the same page in terms of the impact on people.
[02:50:17] CHURCH: Right, of course, we know too that California has been at the forefront of setting environmental regulations and the state's Attorney General has said, he may sue the Trump administration over this. Is that the right way forward do you think?
MCCABE: Well, it's really unfortunate that our system has ended up with being so divided. We have 1/2 of the states who didn't like the Clean Power Plan and the other half did. And we will certainly have many people who are prepared to go to court over this very much dial back rule that challenge with this rule is that it will do almost nothing to reduce carbon.
Even though the administration admits that carbon pollution is a cause of climate change, they admit that fossil generation is contributing to that, and they admit that they have a responsibility under the Clean Air Act to do something about it. But this rule is a very minimal approach.
And so, we will have the battle joined again in the courts while the battle on the previous rule is still in play. And unfortunately, what that means is years of delay while CO2 continues to be emitted by power plants in the U.S.
CHURCH: And what's your general take on the direction, the Environmental Protection Agency has taken under the Trump administration with former head Scott Pruitt, unapologetic about wanting to deregulate the agency, and of course, his replacement being a former lobbyist for the coal industry?
MCCABE: Well, I think the message has been clear from the very beginning of the administration. This is a deregulatory administration in the last two weeks, we've seen the proposed rule to freeze the corporate average fuel economy standards. So, to put the brakes on our push forward to have cars be more and more fuel efficient. And now, this rollback of the Clean Power Plan.
So, I think that the message from the administration is perfectly clear if we didn't already know it.
CHURCH: Janet McCabe, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
MCCABE: You bet, it's a pleasure. Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, now to an example of how plastic in our oceans is threatening marine life. A shark in Eastern Australia narrowly escaped a sad fate when two brave divers intervened what was originally a training lesson turned into a rescue mission.
When divers noticed a grey nurse shark had plastic netting stuck between its large jaws. They tried to remove it by tugging on the plastic line hanging from the shark's mouth. And they were able to successfully free it.
The shark escaped the slow and painful death from discarded plastic. A faith that has become all too common. Plastic trash in the ocean is killing millions of animals every year. It is tragic.
Well, just before the Pope's trip to Ireland, the Vatican makes an unusual announcement ahead of the close watch on how he addresses sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Were back in just a moment.
[02:54:53] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania faces charges of indecent assault and corruption of a minor. Officials say, Father Kevin Lonergan, sent sexual messages and nude images to a 17-year-old girl on social media. He is accused of hugging the girl while aroused and grabbing her while she tried to pull away.
The diocese, says it cooperated with the district attorney and immediately removed Lonergan from his assignment. Priests in Pennsylvania are under scrutiny after last week's grand jury report that said more than 300 priests had sexually abused more than a thousand children for decades.
Well, in just a few days, Pope Francis is to visit Ireland and he will meet with victims of clerical sex abuse. The Pope is under increasing pressure to do something about decades of abuse and cover-ups and victims are demanding more than just words. Barbie Nadeau has the details now from Rome.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis will be meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse when he travels to Ireland this coming weekend.
It's not unusual for the Pope to meet with victims of clerical sex abuse but it is unusual that the Vatican would make this announcement ahead of time. Instead, the Pope usually holds these meetings behind closed doors and the victims announced that they met with the Pope.
The Vatican did say that it would not be commenting on what was said between the Pope and those victims. The church in Ireland, of course, has its own history of scandal with clerical sex abuse and widespread abuse in 2009. A scathing report pointed to the fact that over 30,000 children had been abused over the course of many decades in Ireland by Catholic Church officials.
This announcement comes on the heels of the Pennsylvania grand jury report outlining over 70 years of clerical sex abuse carried out by more than 300 priests on over 1,000 children. The Vatican responded to those allegations with a statement calling them criminal and calling for greater accountability.
Then, Pope Francis, this week followed that up with a letter to the people of God in which he apologized for the sins of the church, and called on church leaders to avoid creating a community where it would be easy to hide such abuse.
The victims of clerical sex abuse want more than words. They have called on Pope Francis to ask for resignations from complicit bishops and Cardinals and they would like to see any of the secret documents about clerical sex abuse held in churches around the world be released to secular authorities. Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.
CHURCH: And thank you so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of world news in just a moment. Hope you can join us. You're watching CNN.