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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Source: Trump "Spooked And Completely Distracted;" Trump Tries To Discredit Cohen After Ex-Attorney Admits To Lying To Congress Out Of Loyalty To Trump; One Idea For Trump Tower Moscow: Give Penthouse to Putin; Interview With Rep. Mike Quigley (D), Illinois. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 29, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Clarissa, thank you so much for doing these excellent, excellent reports. We're grateful to you, to Sara Sidner as well. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, President Trump spooked after his former fixer pleads guilty to lying about Trump's business dealings with Russia. Is Michael Cohen now Trump's greatest threat?
Plus Trump cancels his meeting with Putin, claiming it's because of Ukraine but then why was the President touting the sit-down just hours earlier before that Cohen who spoke.
Plus, is Michael Cohen having his John Dean moment? Why there are so many comparisons to Nixon's former White House Counsel. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, spooked and completely distracted, that is how a source describes President Trump tonight. The President's long-time fixer pleading guilty to lying about Trump's Russia dealings. Michael Cohen moments ago returning to his New York City apartment after saying he lied about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
The reason? According to Cohen in a court filing, "I made these misstatements to be consistent with Trump's political messaging, and out of loyalty. The President is moments away from landing in Buenos Aires for the G-20. Before boarding the plane, he slammed Cohen on the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a weak person, and by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he's a weak person, and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence, so he's lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it. He's a weak person and not a very smart person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: First of all, Trump never talked about the Trump Tower project, far from open about it. And here's what happened. Cohen had told Congress that discussions about the Moscow tower project ended by January 2016. Cohen is now saying that those discussions, which he said Trump and his children were well aware of, went on even after Trump clinched the Republican nomination. They went on until June of 2016.
So, what happened in those six months? You know, when he said they ended in January and he lied and they really ended in June, why is that so crucial? Well here is why. As Trump was trying to get the Trump Moscow tower to move ahead, he went on the campaign trail, saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Putin called me brilliant. I like it. So now I like Putin. Now, Putin called me a genius, by the way. He said, Donald Trump is a genius and he's the absolute leader over there and he's the smartest person.
I think Putin's been a very strong leader for Russia. I mean, he's been a lot stronger than our leader, that I can tell you.
Wouldn't it be great if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn't it be great? Is there anything wrong with that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: As the former CIA Moscow station Chief Steve Hall tells me it's close to inconceivable that President Putin was not aware of the Trump deal for the tallest building in Moscow and possibly in all of Europe, putting candidate Trump's flattery, right? He's absolute leader, he's strong, he's an absolute leader, and Trump's suggestion of changing American policy to Russia in a whole new, disturbing and ugly light.
And in a court filing today, prosecutors say Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress about the Moscow deal after Trump became President to protect him and to, "minimize links between the Moscow project and Trump and give the false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Iowa caucus in the very first primary in the hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations".
Now, those Russia investigations are focusing very heavily on events that happened in June of 2016, including the Russian hack of the DNC, that meeting of Papadopoulos and an ambassador. That hack, by the way, of the DNC broke in "The Washington Post" on June 14th of 2016, which according to Cohen was on or about the same day of the last discussion about the Moscow Trump tower deal.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington. And Evan, you have new reporting tonight about how and when the President's team found out what Cohen was going to do today.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. It was yesterday, last night, in fact, that the President's legal team was notified by the Justice Department that this plea agreement, this plea from Michael Cohen was coming today. We were told that this is part of the procedure of the Justice Department, that they briefed the White House before significant legal matters happen.
You remember back in June -- I'm sorry, in July, before the Justice Department indicted some Russian intelligence agents, they -- the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went over and briefed President Trump before he left for Helsinki about that coming indictment, so that is not unusual.
But we do know, Erin, that obviously the President has been very, very disturbed about what Mueller is up to and you can see that in some of the tweets. What we're seeing -- we're seeing glimpses of what Mueller is doing in these indictments -- I'm sorry, in these court filings. He's laying out a narrative, and that's what's disturbing the President. His legal team certainly is in the dark.
[19:05:01] They don't know exactly where this is going. And that's one of the reasons why you see the President, as the description there from the sources that you quoted earlier, that he is a bit, you know, disturbed about exactly where this is going to end up, especially because as you can see from the court documents today in Michael Cohen's case, he's saying that the kids, his kids, the President's kids and the family business are at the center now of this investigation. It's crossed a red line that the President always said that Robert Mueller should never cross.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Evan Perez. Of course, a red line that when it comes to whether there was any -- anything improper here with Russia or quid pro quo definitionally would have to go to the bottom line when it comes to President Trump, which means his business.
OUTFRONT now, John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel during Watergate, Gloria Borger, Chief Political Analyst, and Harry Sandick, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, of course, which has been dealing with Michael Cohen as well. And Steve Hall, former CIA Chief of Russia Operations, as I just mentioned his name a moment ago.
Harry, how significant is this? You've got this nine-page court filing, Michael Cohen saying I lied and I lied to help the President politically.
HARRY SANDICK, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: It's very significant. Number one, he's now cooperating with the Mueller investigation, so we now have the connection between Cohen and Mueller. The documents talk about seven meetings.
BURNETT: But this isn't just a Southern District of New York taxi medallion issue. This is now Bob Mueller, Russia.
SANDICK: Right at the center of Russia. And the allegations are that he lied in order to essentially help give the President cover so -- to minimize the connections that Trump and his team had with Russia during 2016, during the campaign, while Russian intelligence officials were looking for ways to influence our election, to help Trump be elected, we have Trump trying to do business deals with Russia. Very troubling, even if the underlying idea of Trump doing a deal with Russia is not illegal, all the lying about it later on suggests a real desire to cover this up.
BURNETT: And certainly, you know, the sycophant-like behavior, Steve, that we just heard from then candidate Trump as this was going on puts that in a new light. I mean, you believe Putin would have known about this tower. I mean, look, it wasn't just a tower, right? It was going to be the tallest building in all of Moscow, maybe the tallest building in all of Europe, and Cohen clearly thought this was a big problem so that he lied to cover for Trump.
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Sure, and absolutely. It's -- there's really no doubt in my mind that Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin would have known precisely about this deal and frankly much, much more about Donald Trump.
You have to remember that, you know, the Russian Intelligence Services and Vladimir Putin used to be a part of them and then ran them, you know, they gathered this type of information on anybody they think of interest. And decades back, I think, Donald Trump became of interest, even more so, imagine their response when they're like, oh my god, one of the guys we've been tracking all of these years may actually become the President.
He doesn't have a great shot at it but he's in the running and for Putin not to know about that, not to have been briefed by his own intelligence services, that somebody that they had been watching and in fact doing business with for decades was now in the running for President, it would have been incompetence. It would have been -- it's just almost unthinkable that Putin would not have known about that.
BURNETT: Which puts Trump's words, as I say, in a new and disturbing light. I mean, Gloria, when Steve talks about decade of business and all the things that the Russians would have gathered on Trump in that time, you are reporting tonight that Trump Tower Moscow is now just one of many topics regarding the President that Cohen talked with Mueller's team about and, and this is stunning, 70 hours so far of questioning between Mueller's team and Michael Cohen. That isn't a bunch of taxi medallions in the Southern District and one lie about Trump Tower. That's 70 hours.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a lot of information. And I spoke with a source who is very close to Michael Cohen who said to me today, in no uncertain terms, Michael has the goods. He has extremely valuable information.
And so, this clearly goes beyond the Trump Tower Moscow that we're talking about, although that is crucial and important. But if Michael Cohen is talking and we know how close he was to Trump at certain points, how loyal he has been to Donald Trump, and we also know the -- the things that were being asked in the grand jury.
So, you have to assume that they are, you know, that they're not only talking about Trump Tower Moscow. They're talking about who knew what, when about the WikiLeaks dump, about the meeting in Don Jr.'s office with the Russians, did the President know about it. So, I think Michael Cohen now, who was the man who said he would take
a bullet for the President, has now become Brutus to the President because he has this need now to, his people say, tell the truth and come clean and is no longer in the business of protecting Donald Trump, which is what he did for all those years that he worked for Trump.
[19:10:04] BURNETT: I think Michael Cohen is, you know, he cares about his kids and what they think of him and he has --
BURNETT: -- he has decided that he is going to come clean with everything. I mean, John, 70 hours. That is a lot of time. Would you spend that amount of time with someone -- you've been in the midst of one of these investigations -- who does not have, quote, unquote, the goods?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: No, you would not. That is a lot of time, and I think it's doubly important to understand the conditions that Michael went into the prosecutor's office. He had no deal at the time when he went in to talk to them. That 70 hours was purely on speculation that he would have enough information that they would find him an important witness.
Well today, we learned that's what happened. The prosecutor, Special Counsel, has sent a letter to the judge, indicated when there's sentencing that they're going to weigh in and suggest there be a reduction in sentence for his cooperation. So, that was purely on spec. He didn't have that going in before he started talking, so he obviously gave them good information and they believed it, and it's corroborated.
DEAN: And so Michael's taking a chance and it worked out.
BURNETT: And that's the crucial part. Corroborated, Harry.
BURNETT: It isn't just, oh, he said it and it sounds good, right.
BURNETT: The President's saying he's making it up.
SANDICK: That's right.
BURNETT: I think is it fair to say at this point given this nine-page court document that they know that it is not made up, that they have corroborated it independently, it isn't just one person's word versus another's.
SANDICK: That's right. And prosecutors of this caliber would be looking for corroboration of a number of kinds, so you'd be looking for documents. You would be looking for recorded phone calls. There's one alleged in the information. Probably recorded --
BURNETT: Something we know, by the way, Michael Cohen did.
SANDICK: That's right. And also to the extent he's talking to people in the Russian government, we have ways of recording those phone calls. You also have documentary evidence, e-mails, texts, these people were not cautious about talking to each other on paper.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you, Steve, according to Cohen, Trump was briefed on the project, the Trump Tower project in Moscow more than three times. The President today actually, you know, although it generally said Michael Cohen lied, did not say he lied about this. He actually said it does not matter. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business and why should I lose lots of opportunities. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business, a lot of different things during the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now I want to ask Gloria about that in a moment, Steve, but first this point. If the deal really did end in June of 2016, right, they were lying about it before but it really ended then, right, the Papadopoulos month, the DNC hack month, all those other things. Would Putin really be able to hold this over Trump's head, President Trump's head, Steve, in your view?
HALL: Sure, absolutely he would. Again, I'll defer to the lawyers on the panel with regards to the legality of it but from a counterintelligence perspective, remember, Donald Trump is the kind of guy who has a couple of characteristics that come together quite nicely for the Russians and their intelligence services. First of all, he's very transactional. What benefits him is what he's interested in. Secondly, he has a very strong ego. He thinks first very well of himself. And he's willing to engage in risky behavior, whether it's cavorting with prostitutes or other types of things.
All of those things, it's gravy for the Russian intelligence services. They collect information on him for as long as they possibly can. And then imagine if you're Donald Trump, the guy who says I am the deal maker, I am the one who wrote "The Art of the Deal" and then Vladimir Putin sticks his head in and says, actually, let's not forget, Donald, and maybe this is what he said in Helsinki, I'm the one who made you.
Nobody else would lend you money. I gave you money. Nobody else would let you do projects, we talked about projects in Moscow. Those are things that Donald Trump would never, ever want to come out.
BURNETT: He never would. And John Dean, what about the point that the President said though, you know, some might say, well, there would be nothing wrong, right? I mean, at that point, not only did the Russians think he was a long shot. Donald Trump thought he was a long shot. I mean, nobody thought Donald Trump was going to win the White House in June of 2016. Just to be honest. Nobody did. So, does he have a point that there would be nothing wrong if I did do it?
DEAN: Well, theoretically, there would be, but there's a story that broke on my way to the studio that apparently he was offering Putin a penthouse in the building that was worth $50 million. So, that is against the law. And that would be just blatant bribery if that story bears out. But, you know, with Trump, I don't think he thought he would ever be President, so he was doing a deal, and those are the kinds of deals he does.
[19:15:01] BURNETT: And Gloria, I will just say, yes, that story is a BuzzFeed story, that they offered the $50 million penthouse. We have not independently confirmed it, so I'm not going to say that we know anything about it but John does point out that is out there. What's your take, Gloria, though, on this whole issue?
BORGER: Well, look, I think that you have to sort of set the scene here. Donald Trump is running for President. He's heading into the Iowa caucuses, right? Michael Cohen is trying to protect him. This deal is continuing to go on. He's telling the press. He's telling everyone, I did no business in Russia. It's not a crime to lie to the press. We know that.
But he is saying, I have no, you know, dealings with Russia. Meanwhile, he's saying Putin is a great guy and Putin loves me. When, in fact, he was having dealings with Russia.
BURNETT: They had a lot of intent, a signed letter of intent, right, Gloria, for any skeptics though he's trying to get a deal. He didn't sign a letter of intent.
BORGER: Right. I did the story on the letter of intent in September of 2017, and it was, you know, I was not told the truth about it. I was told that it ended, you know, because the deal collapsed in January, not June, so the timing, you know, the timing was off. But that was the story that Mr. Cohen was telling to the congressional committees. But this was -- this was Michael Cohen trying to protect Donald Trump once again. To make sure that nobody would know that Donald Trump was lying about this.
And now, what Michael Cohen is saying is that, yes, Donald Trump was lying about it. And I think the big question here is, how much leverage, how much leverage, then, did all of this give Putin?
BORGER: Over a person who could potentially become President of the United States.
BURNETT: And that is the crucial question we have tonight, right? Because the question is, how much leverage and --
BORGER: Right. BURNETT: -- has he used it? And that is the crucial question we all have, the quid pro quo, and this huge development tonight, putting it front and center. Thank you all and our breaking news coverage continues.
President Trump is trashing Cohen. So, you know, and he had been for a little while here. So why did he keep him around for so long?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Because a long time ago, he did me a favor. A long time ago, he did me a favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What favor could it be? That would have resulted in keeping someone around for a dozen years doing all your dirty work.
Plus, Democrats vowing to investigate the President as Trump threatens to retaliate by releasing what he calls devastating documents.
And the reporter who broke the story months ago that Michael Cohen's story on the Trump Tower in Moscow did not add up, that it didn't end in January. That reporter is OUTFRONT and he has more developments tonight.
[19:21:37] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump about to land in Buenos Aires to meet with other world leaders at the G20 summit but one person who is now not on the schedule, Putin. The meeting abruptly canceled via presidential tweet today, just moments after we learned that Michael Cohen, the President's personal -- his former personal lawyer admitted that he lied about Trump's business dealings with Russia, alleging in court documents that the President knew about the proposed project for Moscow tower, had been briefed multiple times, in fact, on it.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT in Buenos Aires, where President Trump is expected to arrive shortly for G20 meetings. So Jeff, you know, this meeting was good to go, was going ahead and then all of a sudden the Michael Cohen news breaks and Trump says he's going to cancel it.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, good evening. The time line is extraordinary. The President said on the South Lawn of White House as he was leaving to fly down here to Argentina that it was a very good time to have the meeting but he was clearly so focused on Michael Cohen, clearly so focused on what this means to him, potentially, so he cancel the meeting. In one respect, it was to change the subject, to look like he is being strong against Vladimir Putin.
In another respect, though, imagine the conversation here in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20 summit, world leaders, you know, are gathering here once again, and they are seeing what is a challenge for President Trump at home. So, of course, the White House had hoped this meeting was a chance to not do a do-over, have another shot at meeting with President Putin from that he Helsinki summit this summer which, of course, by all accounts from Republicans to Democrats are like -- even supporters of the President was largely a disaster. Well now that meeting is not going to happen.
Erin, regardless of what comes of this Russia investigation, regardless of if there is collusion or if there isn't, this is the -- another example, a telling example of how this is affecting the day- to-day job of the commander in chief, of the U.S. President, not being able to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin. These summits don't happen all that often. Only a couple a year or so, so this now the President canceling that meeting with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, it was supposed to be one of the high points of this summit here. Now that means all of that will go away.
The optics, the White House knew, were not good. The President sitting alongside with Vladimir Putin, but Erin, there are real consequences for all of this, but they will still likely cross paths with each other on the sidelines of this summit. We'll see what comes of that. Erin?
BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
And obviously, our group is back with us. Gloria, you know, the timing here, it's not something -- what I find interesting, right, is ostensibly, they found out last night, team Trump found out last night that Michael Cohen was going to do this. But the President in some sort of, it would appear, once it broke, the reaction to it, it appears to be emotional, his canceling of the Putin meeting.
BORGER: Well, it does. I mean, we saw his tweets, which he said, you know, was because of the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia. But you saw the President on the South Lawn today.
You saw how upset he was about Michael Cohen, and how he seemed distracted and, you know, was calling Michael Cohen names, somebody he used to trust, who was very loyal to him throughout his entire time at the Trump organization. And you see that this affects the President, that he has been completely preoccupied with this since the midterm elections.
[19:25:13] We've seen tweets about Mueller that have grown more and more frantic. We've seen his reaction to the Paul Manafort news, and now, again, to Michael Cohen news today. And so you see a President that seems to be engulfed by all of this, and upset because he doesn't know where this is heading, vis-a-vis him.
BURNETT: So, you know, the President lashing out at Cohen today, Harry, and saying that he made it all up and he's making it all up to get a reduced sentence, which, you know, supposed to be sentenced obviously December 12th, some of the charge there, you know, five to seven years, trying to do this to basically lower that and get out of that altogether. Here is what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: He's a weak person, and not a very smart person. What he's trying to do is end. And it's very simple, he's got himself a big prison sentence, and he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sure, maybe that's true. But you're saying they wouldn't be where they are, i.e. team Mueller, if they didn't know this was true.
SANDICK: That's right. And look, this is what every defense lawyer says about a cooperating witness, they're lying. The cooperation is their get out of jail card, and you know, but cooperators -- I'm sorry, prosecutors who are doing their work correctly with cooperators won't sign them up unless they have corroboration. And so this type of lashing out in public ultimately doesn't go anywhere other than perhaps to rally his base.
BURNETT: And John, here's the thing. The President obviously today saying Cohen is weak and not smart, he's a liar, but you know, here's the President and Rudy Giuliani, his current lawyer, here's what they've said about Cohen and this is just a small sprinkling of much of the same here. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I always liked Michael.
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Michael's not going to lie. He's going to tell the truth.
TRUMP: I can tell you, he's a good guy.
GIULIANI: The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: John, do the President's past statements matter?
DEAN: Well, that sounds all very familiar to me. I went through that with Nixon, who gave a number of national speeches about I was the only witness who had anything untoward to say about him, so it must be something wrong if there's nobody else that can report this information. Well, no one else was willing to do it.
I think Michael Cohen is in the same situation as some of these other witnesses. So this is standard discrediting of a witness, and in the long run, it doesn't work. The truth does come out.
BURNETT: Steve, the President was asked today that this crucial question, you know, OK, if he's such a loser, why did you keep him around for so long? Keep in mind this around for so long was a dozen years and included Stormy Daniels payoffs and other things, perhaps, of that ilk. I want to play that question and answer for you, Steve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Cohen is such a bum, why did you hire him, have him on your payroll for 12 years and have him do so much of your dirty work?
TRUMP: Because a long time ago, he did me a favor. A long time ago, he did me a favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I like, Steve, how the President does not dispute dirty work because indeed, quite a bit of it was. But what do you make of that, Steve? A long time ago, he did me a favor. You're the intelligence officer. What do you make of that?
HALL: Yes, it really took me back, Erin, to my days, you know, when I was a station chief overseas in places like the Balkans and in other places on -- in Central Eurasia, Russia, and other locations. This is very, very typical of autocratic leaders, you know, who come into power with this close group of buddies, many of whom have dirt on each other and that's why they maintain those relationships, so nobody gets into trouble.
And then somebody turns and all of a sudden, you know, the new prime minister or the new president or the new head of state, you know, will start saying, well, I'm going to sic my police on you, or I'm going to sic the intelligence services, you're an enemy of the people, you're no longer my friend.
This is just stuff that you see in places that are not democracies or that are still very young in their Democratic process. It is not something that I would expect to see in what, you know, is the oldest and hopefully leading democracy in the world. It's much more autocratic than it is Democratic, at least coming from this particular President. That troubles me.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
Next, Democrats sending new criminal referrals to the Special Counsel. Does that mean more shoes are about to drop? Plus this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Familiar voice? Yes, you just heard it. Some are calling this Michael Cohen's John Dean moment. Is it?
[19:32:50] BURNETT: Breaking news: we have just learned that one of the ideas for promoting the Trump Tower in Moscow was to offer the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the penthouse, in that tower. Think about that for one second and how the president was saying he was such a strong, amazing, wonderful leader during all this time, he's offering him the penthouse. Trump's running for president.
The Russian-born businessman Felix Sater who was working on the project with Michael Cohen tells CNN now that the concept was a, quote, marketing ploy, "BuzzFeed" citing two law enforcement forces, is reporting that Cohen discussed the idea directly with a representative of Putin's Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, your reaction to this, that one of the ideas to promote the Trump Tower was to offer Vladimir Putin the penthouse.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: You know, it's interesting. It was called a marketing ploy. In any city in the United States, it would be nothing short of a bribe. It is clearly bad enough that Mr. Cohen lied about the -- what they were doing in Russia, seeking the Trump Tower past January of 2016. It's worse if the president of the United States misled the American public and said he had no business interests, zero, in Russia.
It's worse that they were even wooing each other, trying to help each other politically and financially during a political campaign, and this would even be the worst of all those things. It's unimaginable if true.
BURNETT: So, why do you think Michael Cohen lied to your committee? Just to be clear, it was your committee in front of which he testified, saying this all ended in January of 2016, which of course was a lie. He now says it was June. Why do you think he lied?
QUIGLEY: You know, it's hard to understand. I was a criminal defense attorney ten years, why do people lie? I can't understand why a man as smart as Mr. Cohen, an attorney, would lie and do so in such a fashion. This was a written statement, right? There's no question whether he misunderstood a question or something of that, you know, back and forth exchange orally.
[19:35:01] This is all written. I guess the only way I could guess the answer to that is that it's a perverse sense of loyalty to a man he must have known shows absolutely no loyalty to anyone who has ever served him. He will dismiss them and has during the course of the last two years in his political world as president of the United States and in his personal world. If they're of no use to him, he discards them because they mean nothing to him.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, I could say, look, from many conversations with Michael Cohen after that time, I think he held out hopes that the president would repay his loyalty with some kind of a good position in the White House or something else. He really did. He held out that hope, and seemed confounded and humiliated that it did not pan out.
I mean, if Cohen lied to you about this, Congressman, what else do you think he lied about? You're talking about a written statement, vetted, he had time to go through it. He lied about this. What else? QUIGLEY: Well, I have a great desire to have Mr. Cohen come back to
the committee. He has expressed a desire to come back and talk to us without any form of immunity. So just the top of my head, did you meet with Russians at any time during the course of the campaign and discuss the campaign, to give an exchange of information as was talked about, for example, in Trump Tower, the sanctions that were imposed by the Obama administration?
Those are all fair game. And any connection with the Russians and financial gain as it relates to, perhaps, Trump Tower or the money laundering issue that we're all too familiar with.
BURNETT: And has he -- when you say that he wants to come back, has he explicitly said that to you?
QUIGLEY: No. There was public reporting that he was willing to come back and talk to Congress without immunity. I think that was after his first plea deal and his willingness to volunteer and cooperate. We're now -- have heard in today's reporting, just the breadth and width of his cooperation with the Mueller investigation, it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we coordinate with the special counsel but given that, I think that he would offer us a wealth of information, not directly related to all the things that the Mueller investigation is taking part in.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about a threat the president has put out via the interview with the "New York Post" that he did yesterday. He said, quote, if you play tough, meaning you Democrats when you take over the House, he would declassify FISA warrant applications and, he says, other documents from Bob Mueller's probe, which he says, quote, they will see how devastating those pages are, i.e., the public, devastating to you, the Democrats.
BURNETT: What do you say?
QUIGLEY: Yes, the president said similar silly things in the past. He has declassified documents. He's gone after the 702 process that's related to this. And nothing he has said has borne any truth.
I think what the president has done is a major attack on the intelligence community and its independence, its ability to function, the Justice Department, and that's the damage we're going to have to recover from, from this time on. So, I have no fear whatsoever of information coming out that the president thinks will do us harm. There's just nothing there.
What I'm afraid of is continued damage to our intelligence communities' ability to keep us safe.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Congressman Quigley.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the Russian born and childhood friend of Michael Cohen e-mails Trump's then fixer, Michael Cohen, quote, our boy can become president, and we can engineer it. What did he mean?
Plus, the very public break-up between a president and a lawyer. Does it sound familiar to you?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excessive concern over leaks, an insatiable appetite for political intelligence, all coupled with a do it yourself White House staff regardless of the law.
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[19:42:51] BURNETT: Breaking news, Yahoo News reporting tonight that special counsel Bob Mueller is asking questions about Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.'s role in pursuing the Trump Tower deal in Moscow.
OUTFRONT now, Hunter Walker, White House correspondent for Yahoo! News. He broke the story. And by the way, he reported earlier this year that Cohen's discussions, you know, lasted longer than he was claiming, right, this whole January, June thing.
Hunter, obviously, you had this -- you had this a long time ago. And what have you learned tonight about Ivanka and Don Jr.?
HUNTER WALKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Right, so, all the focus today has been on Michael Cohen's work with Felix Sater to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow and what I've learned is that Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump were separately pursuing efforts to make a Trump branded skyscraper in Moscow. They also both did have involvement with Michael Cohen's work. Ivanka was recommending architects and as a source familiar with the Trump Organization put it to me, Don Jr. was, quote, peripherally aware.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you about this. I mean, how do you interpret this? They're working separately and my understanding from your reporting is they basically didn't succeed, right, that those talks ended and then Michael Cohen starts, I mean, is it fair to say that he was the big -- that he brought it home where they couldn't? Or how would you interpret that?
WALKER: I think all we really know here, and you know, it gets pretty confusing, but the Trump organization spent the better part of three decades pursuing a skyscraper in Moscow on multiple, multiple fronts. Felix Sater told me he w was working on it starting in 2003, and then Don Jr. and Ivanka had their own efforts, which included one with the Agalarov family who your viewers will know from the infamous Trump Tower 2016 meeting and that was in 2013 and then Cohen was also doing this on his own.
So, basically, they put a lot of lines in the water, and I think that really just indicates how much President Trump wanted to see his name on the Moscow skyline.
BURNETT: Right. And when you put that, how much he wanted, decades for this skyscraper, how much he wanted it, and then you put in the context of this possibly, you know, offering the penthouse to Vladimir Putin himself, I think this starts to take the shape that people realize how significant it will be.
[19:45:05] You've been reporting on this, Hunter, Felix Sater is central to this. He was a classmate of Michael Cohen's. He was born in Russia. They met in high school, actually, so their relationship goes way back, but he's obviously central to this as well.
How important is Felix Sater?
WALKER: Well, Felix Sater was basically the main other person working with Michael Cohen to build Trump Tower Moscow. But he also was involved when Ivanka and Don Jr. were trying to build Trump Tower Moscow in 2006. He chaperoned them on a trip to Russia, which "BuzzFeed" first reported back in May and I just confirmed today.
However, you know, I think there's -- there's been so many separate efforts by the Trump Organization to get this skyscraper built that it all got a little bit muddied and I know when I first read that Sater went over there with Don Jr. and Ivanka, I assumed that all three of them were working together. But apparently, Don Jr. and Ivanka were taking their own separate meetings and doing their own separate work as far back as 2006.
BURNETT: That's incredible. And, of course, just to emphasize, Michael Cohen did have that signed letter of intent that they then were moving forward to at least until June of 2016. He now says.
Thank you so much, Hunter. Hunter Walker breaking a lot of this story.
And more tonight on this devastating blow to the president dealt by a man who once said, on camera, he would take a bullet for Trump. Is Michael Cohen a traitor or is he a hero? Is this his John Dean moment?
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, he's lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence. OK?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The breakdown of the relationship between Donald Trump and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, has Washington chattering for good reason. Cohen was Trump's keeper of secrets. Now he may be letting them loose, and we know that could be explosive because we've seen it before, when President Richard Nixon and his legal adviser, White House counsel John Dean, turned on each other.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it.
FOREMAN: At the height of the Watergate scandal, Dean's position then looked like Cohen's now in three key ways.
First, Dean was an insider.
DEAN: The Watergate matter was an inevitable outgrowth of a climate of excessive concern.
FOREMAN: He discovered what happened, when, and who was involved.
DEAN: Excessive concern over leaks, an insatiable appetite for political intelligence, all coupled with a do-it-yourself White House staff regardless of the law.
FOREMAN: Second, Dean was point man for the president's defense, discussing payments for Watergate conspirators and keeping him above the fray.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.
FOREMAN: And third, as the investigation intensified and Dean began cooperating with investigators --
DEAN: They called for bugging, burglarizing --
FOREMAN: -- his ties to the president disintegrated.
NIXON: The counsel to the president, John Dean, has also resigned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Watergate scandal broke wide open today.
FOREMAN: And as NBC News found way back then, plenty of Nixon's fans joined the White House chorus in blaming Dean and others.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't blame the president. I think he is -- his associates fooled him quite a bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that he has anything to do with it. I really don't.
FOREMAN: To be clear, none of this is to suggest Donald Trump is like Richard Nixon or that the Russia investigation is like Watergate. Rather, the point is this. The story of John Dean shows us when a president's lawyer turns on him, that is a very big deal, because such a lawyer is uniquely positioned to answer those key questions. What did the president know, and when did he know it? Erin?
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Tom Foreman.
As you heard the president today when asked about why he let Michael Cohen do all his dirty work, he never took issue with the dirty work part.
Back now, John Dean. I mean, John, look, I know you've been in touch with some of Cohen's
legal team throughout this process. He's looking at three to five years in prison. Obviously, sentencing coming up. You were sentenced to one to four years but actually ended up not having to go to prison.
Where do you think Cohen's head is?
DEAN: Well, I think he has decided very clearly, when I alluded earlier in the show, that he had come forward voluntarily to give his information to the special prosecutor, had no deal, was taking the risk that just the truth of what he had to say would carry the day and he might get some sort of help from the prosecutor, which appears to be the case, that the prosecutor is going to step in and say, this man has been helpful.
I was in a little different situation than Michael. I was an insider who tried to blow up the cover-up from the inside.
[19:50:02] Michael had to wait until it blew up and then decide which course he was going to take.
BURNETT: He's a slightly different role, an insider for quite some time, and maybe wanted to continue to be one and then no longer was, which may play into his motives and calculus here.
But, John, for you on a human level, you know, as we've been going through all of this, a lot of people asked us about you, but just now watching yourself then, listening to yourself then, what does that make you think as you rewatch yourself?
DEAN: Well, you know, it's -- it's so many years ago, 45, 50 years ago now, almost close to 50 years ago, that you evolve and mature from an experience like that. Had I not had the lack of experience I had as White House counsel, I might have moved on the president much faster. I only had maybe 39 meetings with Richard Nixon, 37 of them were taped. He didn't call on me until eight months after the arrest of Watergate.
As soon as I got the gist of his thinking, I tried to get him to reverse that thinking but failed. So he didn't appreciate that either.
BURNETT: All right. Well, John Dean, thank you very much.
DEAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, an OUTFRONT special report. As the president is about to land for the G20, one of the top topics on the agenda, not Russia, something else. Sanjay Gupta goes on the front lines.
[19:55:21] BURNETT: President Trump moments away from touching down in Buenos Aires for the G20, a major topic of discussion, climate change. This comes as our Sanjay Gupta investigates how the Rio Grande River is drying up. It is part of a new series on CNN, "Global Warning".
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're looking at the place where the Rio Grande, the mighty river, once flowed. Today, dust and sand instead of water.
This is El Paso, Texas. Just across the border, Juarez, Mexico. Hardly any rain here, not much humidity. Just dry.
ED ARCHULETA, EL PASO WATER UTILITIES: We were forecast to be running out of the water by the year 2020.
GUPTA: Ed Archuleta ran the water utility in El Paso when that dire prediction was made in 1989. Then, El Pasoans were using about 200 gallons of water per person per day. And so, Ed's first order of business was to simply preach conservation.
ARCHULETA: Good evening and welcome to another edition of "Water Matters."
GUPTA: Residents were paid to turn green lawns into brown desert landscapes. And it helped, quite a bit.
Today, El Pasoans have cut their water usage by 35 percent per person. But for a city that relied on the river, it was becoming increasingly dry.
ARCHULETA: There's no question that I think the climate change is affecting the Rio Grande.
GUPTA: To better understand what climate change looks like here, we traveled two hours upriver just outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
(on camera): We made our way to the Elephant Butte Dam. You can see it over here behind me. Built in 1916.
At times, the water has become so high, it would spill through the dam. But take a look at the water levels now. It's about 3 percent of the total capacity.
BILL KING, PROFESSOR OF CIVIL ENGINEERING: What we are seeing is a systematic increase in temperature. So we're seeing the snow melt runoff earlier than historical, and a more rapid melt than average. And, again, for a given level of snow pack, less runoff reaching the river, and reaching our reservoir here.
GUPTA (voice-over): Bill King is a professor of civil engineering at New Mexico State University.
(on camera): We're certain that what we're seeing here has worsened by climate change?
KING: With very high confidence, yes. GUPTA (voice-over): A reservoir like this may fill again one day.
But when it does, it probably won't fill as quickly. And the water will drain faster than ever before.
That's the thing about climate change. It doesn't happen drip by drip. It is cycles that are continually getting worse and worse.
ARCHULETA: I realize that we needed to have the river water when it was there, but in times of drought, we needed to have other avenues to be able to meet that.
GUPTA: And so to keep this major American city from going completely dry, despite being nowhere near a coast, they built the world's largest inland desalination plant. It treats the brackish water underneath El Paso's main aquifers.
ARCHULETA: It basically gives El Paso an insurance policy against drought.
GUPTA: Another more provocative step, creating a closed loop. That's exactly what it sounds like, treating sewage water and sending it directly back into drinking water pipes, toilet to tap.
Gilbert Trejo El Paso shows me how it's done. It starts by filtering out solids like rags and wipes out of raw sewage. Then there are many levels of filtration and treatment for the bacteria, viruses, and everything else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do this. Cheers.
GUPTA: it's what is necessary to make El Paso drought resistant.
(on camera): It tastes like water.
GUPTA: Erin, actually, the water wasn't bad. I'm still here. I'm still alive. Between desalination and that closed loop system that you just saw there, El Paso can make 35 million gallons a day. That's quite a production. That's why cities all over the town, Cape Town, South Africa, you remember, Erin, they ran out of water earlier this year
GUPTA: They're now visiting El Paso, because El Paso has become this really innovative place when it comes to water and becoming drought resistant, and it's because they've been planning for this concern about climate change for 30 years now.
BURNETT: Wow, the new farm-to-table.
GUPTA: That's right.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Sanjay. Pretty powerful.
All right. Thank you for joining us.
"ANDERSON" starts now.