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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Cancels Pelosi's War Zone Trip Amid Shutdown Fight; Trump Gets Political At Military Event, Talks Caravan, Wall, Pelosi; Cohen Says Trump Directed Him To Pay For Poll Rigging; Haley Stevens (D-M). Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 17, 2019 - 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: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: Out front next, Trump fights back. Never to be outdone, the President abruptly cancels the Speaker's trip to Afghanistan.
Plus Rudy Giuliani doing major damage control after contradicting the entire Trump team's defense on collusion with Russia. He's got a new explanation tonight.
And Michael Cohen admitting he tried to rig online polls for Trump. Bags of cash exchanged reportedly, was all directed by the President. Let's go out front.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, President Trump strikes back. Lashing out at his nemesis, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she threatens to postpone his State of the Union address. Pelosi's bus was idling outside her office, literally there it is, idling outside, waiting for the speaker to come out because she was heading straight to Andrews Air Force Base to board a military plane heading to Afghanistan and then she gets this letter.
And the only way to show you how childish this letter is, how un- presidential it is, is to read it to you. So, I want to read it. "Dear Madam Speaker, due to the shutdown, I'm sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over.
In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I'm sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the strong border security movement end the shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative. I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous southern border finally receive the attention funding in security it so desperately receives. Sincerely, Donald J. Trump."
And, by the way, I like his tweets all the way through this, you know, he capitalizes things like strong border, shutdown, there's sorts of things in here. But I want to go through some of these words because it's important. Her trip postponed, those are his words hours before take off. Postponed just like Pelosi threatened to do to the President's State of the Union. That's what this is about retaliation.
And then we get the word excursion. A trip by the House Speaker in line for the presidency after Pence to a war zone is not an excursion. That demeans, the men and women who are serving and dying there.
Pelosi spokesman responding, the purpose of the trip to Afghanistan was to meet with U.S. troops and to, quote, obtain critical national security and intelligence briefing from those in the front lines. Hold that thought for just a moment because the next words to highlight from the letter are public relations event. The President writing, "I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate."
It was just over three weeks ago the President of the United States went to a war zone, Iraq, during a shutdown to visit troops. The goal, to obtain intelligence from those in the front lines. Did the President consider that to be a public relations event? I don't think so.
And then this line. Obviously if you'd like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative. The second line of the President it is not fly commercial into a war zone. iPhone commercial from (INAUDIBLE) is absurd to say the Speaker should travel that way, but if this President thinks that Pelosi should fly commercial to Afghanistan, OK sure, her prerogative, right?
Then why is his wife flying on a government plane tonight to Mar-a- Lago? I'm not making this up. Melania Trump just flew on the plane you see there to Palm Beach. Just to be clear, you see the tail. It's not commercial. No, it's not. We're in the middle of a shutdown. She's not going to a war zone. She's going to Mar-a-Lago.
And this entire letter is unpresidential as it is, is also a breach of national security. The President's trip to Iraq was top secret. Even our reporters on board said nothing until after he landed. That's the way it goes. We keep these things secret so that the life of the President or the first or second in line to the presidency is not threatened.
The President revealing Pelosi's plan is simply not protocol and it is not appropriate. Even if he is canceling her trip, it should not be public information.
Abby Phillip is out front live outside the White House. And Abby, does the White House have a strategy or is this just about retaliation? Clearly, the President wrote it himself with the random capitalizations and all. This is his letter.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it had been 24 hours since Nancy Pelosi asked the President to postpone his State of the Union address because of the shutdown. And a lot of people wondered why President Trump and the White House seemed to have not responded at all to that. And that's partly because according to our sources they didn't have a plan. They didn't know how to respond to what she had put on the table and were looking for a strategy.
They landed upon one this morning. According to our sources, the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney decided that this might be the best opportunity for them to respond to her. And as you pointed out, one official called it retaliation. Now, the President liked this idea and has since liked the coverage of it in the media believing the Democrats had been seeming to have the upper hand in this shutdown as all of these stories have been being told this week of federal workers really at their wits end not being paid for almost a month now.
[19:05:17] But with this move, the President once again looks like he's basically sticking a thumb in Nancy Pelosi's eye canceling this trip just hours before she was scheduled to get on an airplane to go to Afghanistan. The question is what happens now? We don't seem to be any closer to any kind of negotiations or any kind of end to the shutdown.
The Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the Hill with Jared Kushner a few hours ago. He's meeting with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. There was no meeting with Democrats on the agenda and there's no sense that anything was accomplished. So we have not moved from our starting positions, and in fact we could be getting much, much farther apart. The tone of this debate has really deteriorated, Erin, over the last several days and there does not seem to be an end in sight.
BURNETT: All right. Abby, thank you very much.
And just to be clear, by the way, the Speaker said she was never going to Egypt and is required to stop in Brussels for pilot rest time. This was a trip to Afghanistan in the war zone.
Out front now, Representative Haley Stevens, Democrat from Michigan who was Co-President of the Freshman Class. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman. Welcome to the show.
REP. HALEY STEVENS (D), CO-PRESIDENT OF THE FRESHMAN CLASS: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: What's your reaction, the President, to this letter that I just read and we were going through, the President doing this to Nancy Pelosi's trip?
STEVENS: Well, look, I'm absolutely concerned about the national security breach with the President's actions. And it is ridiculous and it's childish. And I've been in Congress for two weeks, Erin, and I have voted nine times to reopen the government. We need to reopen this government.
I represent a district from south eastern Michigan. We make cars, I've got an incredible workforce, we're waiting for those new cars to get off the product line, but yet the EPA testing center that would approve those new cars to get on the road is shuttered. And so our economy is being hampered. We're $1.2 billion lost every week, our GDP is taking a ding. We need to act and we need to act now, and that's what we've been doing. That's what we're waiting on the Senate to do and certainly the President.
BURNETT: Now, when it comes to this trip, obviously, you know, it's something that has been planned. The President took one to Iraq during the shutdown. These are the points I just made. But the question is should the Speaker have gone to cancel this earlier? Should she be traveling during a shutdown anywhere?
STEVENS: I have a lot of respect for the national security process in place. Certainly the troop visit, the visit to NATO and reassuring our allies, that is her responsibility as third in command to the presidency.
BURNETT: So you're all right with that part. I want to play for you what Congressman Mark Meadows said. He was talking about the State of the Union address, which of course the Speaker, you know, came out and said, that should be postponed until the shutdown is over. Here he is.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I think he'll give the State of the Union somewhere else and Nancy Pelosi's politics will come back to bite her.
BURNETT: Come back to bite her?
STEVENS: This isn't politics. That is national security. To setup the State of the Union, you need the Secret Service, you need security measures in place. It's a weeks long ordeal. I've been in conversation with House administration about the State of the Union from before I was even sworn in.
You have all elective members of the federal government assembled in one body. It's something we need to take seriously. It's not politics. It's good government, Erin. And that's what this new Congress, by the way, is all about.
We are about serving the American taxpayer who's paying for this dysfunction. This is at the expense not only of the 800,000 workers who aren't getting a paycheck, which is absolutely absurd. This is also about the taxpayers who are repeatedly paying for this chaos and confusion. We need to get back in the business of good government. That's where we're standing. That's what our caucus is working towards, and frankly, I believe that's what we're going to deliver.
BURNETT: So, when Kirstjen Nielsen obviously who oversees Secret Service says they're fine, they've got it all under control. Do you think she's playing politics or not telling the truth when it comes to security for the State of the Union?
STEVENS: I have a lot of doubts about that. I do. And I believe that we need to put at the forefront a good government for people. We certainly want to have a safe and secure State of the Union. Our House administration is working in lock step with the Secret Service. We need to take that seriously. It's being evaluated.
And frankly, I don't think we have ever had a Congress sworn in during a partial government shutdown. This is a disgrace. We know it's ridiculous. We know it's got to end. We need to be negotiating when the government is open.
And I got elected, Erin, because I talked about our manufacturing economy. I talked about the great innovation coming out of my region. That's what I want to deliver for. I want to stand up for our taxpayers and I want to make sure our government's working for people.
[19:10:03] And yet, you know, the President makes this point that he wants a wall. And, you know, look, the Republican who happens to have the longest border section in the country, Will Hurd think it's a terrible idea, right? It doesn't work.
But tons of people, on both sides of the aisle, say there should be more wall or a better wall, or fill in the blank sense, whatever you want to call it in certain places. Are you for that? And if so, shouldn't you guys just go ahead, put up the white flag and talk to him?
STEVENS: Make no mistake about it, Erin. I'm a Democrat and I stand for improved border security. That is something that we need to take seriously. We need to be listening to people like Will Hurd, who are representing districts with those long border stretches. It's certainly an interesting district.
We -- I care a lot about this opioid epidemic. And right now, we can't even address the opioid epidemic in this country because our government shutdown. And so some of the resources to take care of those who are suffering and struggling with addiction, they don't have access to those resources.
We know we need to take border security seriously. We need to improve technology. We need to improve the personnel, the humanitarian needs. We've got components of a deal. We need to reopen our government. That is priority number one.
BURNETT: Right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman. Thank you.
STEVENS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, President Trump turns a military event into a political one about the wall and warnings of another caravan. Plus, Trump likes to claim the polls are rigged only according to Michael Cohen it was Trump who was actually rigging polls. Wait to hear this. And Rudy Giuliani today trying to cleanup this stunning admission.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you have.
GIULIANI: I have no idea -- I have not.
[19:15:27] BURNETT: Tonight, the President going political at a military event. Trump at the Pentagon today spent 21 seconds expressing condolences to the families of those who died in a deadly terror attack in Syria yesterday. Four Americans, a man he pivoted to talk about his wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now you have more caravans forming and they're on their way up, thousands and thousands of people. We don't know where they're from, who they are, nothing. We need strong borders. We need strong barriers and walls. Nothing else is going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, that's a clip. It went on for 3 minutes and 14 seconds talking about the wall. So 21 seconds when he's talking to the military about the worst casualties since 2014 in Syria, and 3 minutes and 14 seconds talking about his wall.
And on Twitter, for example, you know, this is the first time he's made any comments about the ISIS attack. He didn't say anything until today. All those tweets were about shutdown, et cetera.
Out front now, Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, Stephen Moore, Informal White House Advisor. OK, Joan. So we almost didn't hear anything from him in the past days. He's been very quiet, right?
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Right.
BURNETT: He certainly didn't talk about what was going on with the military. And then, you know, when his friend Nancy comes out and says he should postpone his State of the Union, he goes quiet until he comes out with this letter today.
WALSH: Yes, the lovely letter. Yes, that performance talking about his wall was -- again, he's slowing down, there's something off about the way he was speaking today. And in terms of the -- this petty cancelation of her trip to Brussels and Afghanistan, I mean it's so -- it -- not just juvenile.
I also want to point out that she -- that the part of it -- it's not a public relations tour, she was going to Brussels and she was actually going to reassure our NATO allies that the alliance is strong despite what the President repeatedly says. That's an important part of her job. And for him to treat it like it's just a public relations excursion, I think that that's part of what he wanted to undermine. It's also -- it's pettiness personified.
BURNETT: Right. Well, of course, you wanted to say public relations excursion as we pointed out, then that means that's what he just did, right? I mean, that's unfortunately -- you know, these things are the same and either they're both serious and important, which they both are, or they're both a joke.
BURNETT: Stephen, we're on day 27 of the shutdown. The polls, right, we've been reporting. The President feel -- or the New York Times, I'm sorry, reported the President feels that he's getting crossed on a shutdown issue and here's why, right. He cares a lot about the poll, more on that to come. And here they are, right?
Poll after poll showing the numbers are not looking good for him, right? No matter how you look at it, you're up to blaming him anywhere between 53 percent and 56 percent of Americans blame him and Republicans for the shutdown. How worried is he that he's losing here?
STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: By the way, Erin, I was never in favor of this government shutdown on the first place, I just don't think it's a good way to resolves these conflicts.
MOORE: But, you know, this is maybe an example where Trump is losing the battle but winning the war. It was very interesting, Erin, I listened very closely to your conversation with that Congresswoman, the new freshman Congresswoman, I think, from Michigan. And, you know, she must have said seven times in that interview, we're for border security.
Democrats have a new line here. They're understanding. They're going back to their districts and they're getting hit pretty hard from a lot of their constituents about this issue of border security. They're weak on this issue.
And, you know, I think Trump, in some ways, is having the upper hand here because reinforcing, and every statement he makes that, you know, he is for border security and the Democrats are not. And by the way, if Democrats were for border security, they would have funded it, right? And they haven't.
BURNETT: They did fund it. They did fund it. They also offered those 25 --
MOORE: They didn't fund the $5.5 billion that Trump wants. So --
BURNETT: Steve, you know, separate from the conversation you're having on border security, OK, it's an interesting point, but what he did today in his 3 minutes and 14 seconds was -- wasn't about border security, right? He's talking about caravans and then he's saying strong borders and then he makes the point that that is barriers and walls. Nothing else is going to work.
BURNETT: Right? So he is -- I mean, I don't know what we are at this point. He is going down again and again, right, 50,000 times.
MOORE: He's doubling down on the wall --
BURNETT: Right. On it being about a physical thing.
MOORE: Look, I don't agree entirely with what Trump said. I mean, I think almost everyone agrees and I think the President would agree that, you know, border security involves a lot more than a wall. And, by the way, it doesn't just involve, you know, what you do at the border, it's involved in what you do inside the border, which is, by the way, Joan another area where Democrats are so out of touch with the American people.
[19:20:05] I mean, every major Democratic city in the country, my home town or Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, they're all sanctuary cities basically telling illegal immigrants, come to San Francisco, come to Boston, come to Chicago, you know, say favor here and what kind of a border security argument is that? Or --
WALSH: You know, I think really there --
MOORE: -- even -- or they're laying, or they've been going after the border security
WALSH: The sanctuary city is that whole issue is played out and what's really scary actually --
MOORE: But wait a minute, how do you defend that --
WALSH: Don't interrupt me, please.
MOORE: How do you defend that?
WALSH: You ask me questions, don't interrupt me.
MORRE: How do you defend the sanctuary cities?
BURNETT: Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: The real issue is that the shutdown --
WALSH: Stop it. The real issue is that the shutdown is hurting our security, that we can't use e-verify that actual employers trying to hire can't verify that somebody is here legally. We've got issues with TSA, we've got issues -- when a lot of people come in by airplane, we've got all kinds of security issues because of the shutdown, Steve. So keep singing your sanctuary city song. It's no longer a big issue. And --
WALSH: -- Democrats favor border security.
MOORE: But why --
WALSH: They've made many offers about -- to beef up border security. The 2013 bill was a masterpiece of bipartisanship, and it only did not become law because John Boehner was a cowered and wouldn't put it on the House floor. And we both know that.
MOORE: Why aren't they force (ph) today, I mean that doesn't --
BURNETT: But, you know, the President he does a thing, he puts his, you know, this with his hand and he says drones and I know more about technology than anybody else and it's not enough. Yes, will heard on, Republican represents the longest single border district could not be more clear, it is the most expensive and least effective way to protect the border. He's talking about a wall and he was laying out how we need more technology.
MOORE: What about the border patrol agents? Wouldn't you say that they probably know more about controlling the border than anyone? And they've been solidly (INAUDIBLE). Look, I'm sort of agnostic on the wall. I think it'll help but I think you got to take a lot more steps. And, you know, but not funding the wall and not funding the border security is prohibiting us from getting real legal immigration reform done.
And by the way, Joan, I asked you four times to explain why all these Democratic cities are sanctuary cities and you can't explain it because you can't defend it.
WALSH: It's absolutely an irrelevant issue right now.
WALSH: We're not talking about sanctuary cities. We're talking about -- Democrats have been making offers to Donald Trump since he got into office to do a big border security deal, whether it involves DACA, whether it involves every kind of -- every other kind of border security including partially a wall. And he walks away from it every time. He can't be trusted.
MOORE: Democrats have said they won't negotiate, so how is that -- there's no negotiation going on.
BURNETT: Well they both said they won't negotiate. He says give me everything I want or I don't talk, and they say we won't give you that -- (CROSSTALK)
BURNETT: And so that's what we're pointing out.
BURNETT: Including that letter I read which was petty and childish.
MOORE: Erin, they are saying we will not negotiate period until the government is open.
BURNETT: That's right.
MOORE: And that's not a negotiation. Well that's not a negotiation.
WALSH: He keep saying I won't negotiate and so --
BURNETT: And I won't negotiate until you give me everything I want. I mean like I said, this is just a go ahead and hide in your corner. It doesn't make it right. All right, thank you, both.
WALSH: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next it's one of Trump's go-to talking points, this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These polls are rigged. They were rigged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And now Michael Cohen with a new revelation, Trump and his team were paying cold hard cash to rig polls.
And Rudy Giuliani trying to get ahead of something? Is he? Suggesting that the Trump campaign could have colluded with Russians?
[19:27:30] BURNETT: New tonight, Michael Cohen says he paid to rig polls at the direction of his boss, Donald J. Trump. According to "The Wall Street Journal", an I.T. specialist says that Cohen agreed to pay him $50,000 to rig online polls. The specialist says that, you know, he came over to Trump Tower to collect his money. And he says Cohen suddenly handed him cash.
Now, Cohen denies the cash payment but the I.T. specialist is extremely specific. He says Cohen handed him a blue Walmart bag which contained between $12,000 and $13,000. That's not paying him the full amount, but still $12,000 and $13,000 in cash in a Walmart bag.
Evan Perez is out front in Washington. And, Evan, look, at the least this is bizarre --
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BURNETT: -- and it does appear on the top level here yet another instance Michael Cohen willing to do anything for Trump.
PEREZ: That's right. And I think that's the story that Michael Cohen is going to be telling certainly if he gets to testify, Erin, in the next couple of weeks here in Capitol Hill where he says he wants to testify, wants to tell a story of all the things that he's been doing for Donald Trump over the years. And certainly this idea that he was -- think about this, he was rigging online polls. These are things that nobody really pays attention to, right?
PEREZ: But he says that he was supposed to be rigging these polls for the future candidacy of Donald Trump, to sort of burnish his image ahead of his announcement to run for president.
I think it fits in line with all of the things that we've been hearing from Michael Cohen and certainly that the Democrats are going to be pursuing as they do these investigations. They launched these investigations at the beginning of this Congress because they want to make the point that Donald Trump was willing to do anything to win election, to burnish his image and that includes colluding with the Russians, of course.
So the funniest part of the story, the most bizarre part to the story obviously is the idea that Donald Trump yet again according to Michael Cohen, according to this account in "The Wall Street Journal" essentially stiffed this guy. He was supposed to pay him $50,000, ends up paying $13,000. We've heard that story before and here we hear it again.
BURNETT: Yes, it is bizarre. That's the thing on the fame. All right. Thank you very much, Evan.
I want to go now to David Gergen, Former Adviser to Four Presidents, Juliette Kayyem, Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, and here with me Jeffrey Toobin, Former Federal Prosecutor.
All right, Jeff, so Michael Cohen is trying to rig polls, online polls. And by the way, this guy (INAUDIBLE) it's a pretty bad job of it, but he said --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And the polls didn't show him doing very well, either. So he did rig them very well. Yes.
BURNETT: Right. So I mean, you know, I mean maybe this is the President saying, oh, you didn't do a good job, I'm not paying. But at the direction of Trump.
TOOBIN: I mean, you were right at the beginning. This is deeply weird at every level.
I'm not sure there's any law enforcement matter here. I think this was actually before he declared for president so I'm not sure --
BURNETT: For his image, whether it'd be for running politics or business.
TOOBIN: So it wouldn't be an unlawful campaign contribution but obviously, Michael Cohen could be at some risk if he just stole some of the money that Donald Trump gave him. But in terms of actually violating the law, I'm not sure anything here, anything violates the law.
It does show how much Donald Trump was obsessed with polls, which is something we saw throughout the campaign. And also it just shows the depth of trust that he had with Michael Cohen, which, of course, relates to a lot of other things.
BURNETT: Which is all very important when you talk about whether laws were broken, you know, as this campaign started and continued.
I mean, Juliette, according to the I.T. specialist, Cohen paid him in cash, right, this Walmart bag, which as I said it's a pretty specific detail. Cohen denies it, but we have a pattern of cash payments when it comes to team Trump that are bizarre.
You know, Adam Davidson wrote in "The New Yorker" about the building which was never finished but the building of the Trump Tower over in Azerbaijan. He quoted the contractor who said, quote, they would give us a giant pile of cash. I got $180,000 on time, which I fit into my laptop bag, $200,000 another time, once a colleague of his picked up a payment of $2 million. He needed to bring a big duffel bag.
OK, Ivanka Trump, by the way, was running this project.
Juliette, we're talking about $2.4 million at least in cash. That is not normal. Let's be clear, cash payments like this are red flags.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT UNDER OBAMA: That's exactly right. I mean, normal corporations you want to have accurate accounting and you also pay taxes. So why do people pay in cash? That's because they want to avoid what's going out the door and also what's coming in the door. And so, this is consistent with us having no transparency on the taxes.
But just picking up also on what Jeff said, I think what makes this an interesting story for his testimony because it's kind of silly in some ways is that it does show Trump went to Michael Cohen not only as a trusted advisor but what you might call special projects, this is also true of paying off porn stars. These special projects which include in some ways defrauding data or the American public.
And just to remind people, right, this is what the dossier said about Michael Cohen. That Michael Cohen actually, so it gets to it Russia stuff, was also the special projects guy. So keep that in mind when we get to a couple of weeks from now to his testimony and what Michael Cohen was used for.
BURNETT: And, you know, it does give context, David, not just to the fact the president was obsessed with polls, look at random polls, caring about polls, but when he talked about rigged polls, it was a word he used because that was indeed what he was paying others to do for him. Does anybody remember things like this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The polls are crooked.
They show these phony polls.
These polls were rigged. They were rigged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Some of them by him, David.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and he also said the election was rigged. I wonder what he was really talking about there.
Yes, Jeffrey may be right that he didn't break any laws, although there are some questions about campaign finance laws. But what we see here are two things that are very familiar. He plays by his own rules and they all come straight out of Machiavelli.
You know, candidates don't cheat by trying to rig polls, by paying people do that. It's bizarre.
But the second thing is, that's so familiar, is how inept these folks were when they tried to carry out little schemes like this. Once again, it just seems like sort of amateurish.
BURNETT: Right. And I guess if they were this inept on the small, could they have done larger?
I mean, Jeffrey, I also want to make the point, Cohen was reimbursed on this payment, this all cash payment, which I want to make sure, he's saying it was a check. I.T. specialist gives all details to say it was cash.
But he was reimbursed by a hand written note, OK, so he didn't have any receipt, right? It was a hand written note and then basically repaid by Trump personally. This is according to "The Wall Street Journal."
This says a lot about Cohen's role.
TOOBIN: Well, and just how seedy the whole operation was. And one thing you can be sure the Republicans are going to raise when he testifies publicly is, did he get more money from Donald Trump than he actually turned over to the -- did he pocket some of Trump's money and not pass it all off to the I.T. specialist?
[19:35:02] Everybody is a grifter as far as I can tell and that may be the clearest lesson of all.
BURNETT: All right. Well, next, we want to talk about how one of the president's biggest evangelical supporters is now connected to Cohen's claim about rigging the polls. It's an incredible link.
Plus, why is Rudy Giuliani completely contradicting 18 months of adamant, adamant, adamant denials like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no collusion with the campaign. There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, collusion delusion. President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani playing cleanup today after saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": Yes, you have.
GIULIANI: I have no idea -- I have not. I said the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, that's just blatantly false.
Both Giuliani and Trump have insisted there was no collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign on multiple occasions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no collusion with the campaign.
There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian people.
There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians. No collusion.
HOST: Is it still the position of you and your client that there was no collusion with the Russians whatsoever on behalf of the Trump campaign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So I don't need to tell you. They just told you themselves.
So now today, Giuliani is telling our Dana Bash, quote: If anyone was doing that he is unaware of it and so am I. But neither he nor I can possibly know what everyone in the campaign was doing.
OK, I just want to be clear, this is seismic shift, right? This has been almost two years of them saying there's been no collusion of the Trump campaign or Trump, and/or Trump and Russians. And Giuliani is now saying it is possible there was collusion with Russians and team Trump.
His best argument now is, OK, maybe it was other people but it wasn't Trump and Trump couldn't have known everything going on so it was not his fault. The problem is if this is the truth and Trump himself did nothing wrong but others might have, the president should be demanding to know the truth, right?
If he's innocent and others aren't, he should want to know, right? He shouldn't be covering it up by saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This has nothing to do with Russians. It's a Russian hoax.
It's a witch hunt and it is a disgrace.
It's a witch hunt hoax.
This was setup by the Democrats.
There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, everyone's back with me.
David, let me start with you. And just want to be clear here, right, President Trump's lawyer has now publicly said there could have been collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. That is what has just happened.
GERGEN: Yes, yes. He opened the door to that possibility and he did it in such an emphatic way it was very heavily suggested that he believed there might have been collusion. It was not only that there could have been but that there well might have been. And I think that's the big difference.
He tried to walk it back today in what he said in the file analysis today was pretty neutral. But what we know is when he was really speaking from his gut, from his heart, from his head was last night when he opened that door. And by the way that was not his finest hour.
BURNETT: I mean --
TOOBIN: No, indeed.
BURNETT: Maybe one could say that both specifically and metaphorically to the situation he's in right now.
Jeffrey, Giuliani late today trying to continue with the cleanup, and I want to read his tweet. My statements on collusion haven't changed. The misinterpretation has
changed. The point is I represent the president, not the campaign. But from both perspectives, there is no involvement with the Russians on the e-mail hack, the only possible crime.
OK, it's hugely confusing if you're watching this. That was the intent. He said what he said last night. It's the opposite of what they've been saying for almost two years. Now he's trying to say there's only one crime, the hack of the DNC e-mails and no one from Team Trump had anything to do with that.
First of all, there could be a lot more crimes.
TOOBIN: There could be. I mean, there have already been charged crimes that are be on that. I mean, there's the e-mail hack that went to WikiLeaks. There's the social media crime, the use of Facebook by the Russians, which Mueller has charged as a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
And, of course, there is also the very serious investigation of the president and especially the president but perhaps others of obstruction of justice, the firing of James Comey, false statements made, cover-up. All of that, which is by the way what led to Richard Nixon's resignation, that is part of the investigation here. So, to define the only crime possibly as the e-mail hack is wishful thinking on the part --
BURNETT: And, Juliette, let's be clear, you know, Giuliani, so let's just say somebody watching thinks maybe he misspoke last night. He didn't. Rudy Giuliani did not misspeak.
I want to remind everybody of another time when he came out and said something completely the opposite of what Trump and others had been saying. I'm talking about Stormy Daniels. Rudy Giuliani with Sean Hannity, right, when he dropped the bombshell about the hush money. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000, which mean which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now you don't know, it's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: So they funneled it through a law firm?
GIULIANI: Funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.
HANNITY: Oh, I didn't know. He did?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: My favorite part of that is Sean Hannity. Wait a second, it's not part of the cover-up.
[19:45:00] I need to be informed of this. It's just so great.
BURNETT: But that was -- and then by the way everyone said, oh, did Rudy Giuliani misspeak, did he know what he was talking about? No, he did know what he was talking about. Trump did repave that whole thing now.
So when he came out last night and says, there might have been collusion with the Trump campaign and Russians, is he -- is he saying something he already knows to be true, Juliette?
KAYYEM: I believe so. Giuliani wittingly or unwittingly greases the runway on all of these stories, sort of prepares maybe himself, let alone the public for what may come down. And I want to be clear, his statement today did not negate what he said yesterday. It's actually the same statement. It is Trump himself did not collude, but maybe someone on the campaign did.
Now, that doesn't solve the criminal problem for Trump as Jeffrey was saying about lots of other crimes including obstruction of justice. But I also want to take a step back and say, you know, something was going on in this campaign whether Trump knew it or not that so many felt either sort of like they had a welcome mat to talk to the Russians. And that comes from the top.
You know, Trump set a tone for the campaign, which was this kind of behavior is OK. And that we have to remember.
BURNETT: And then obviously now this leaves him only sticking out and saying the president himself didn't collude. That's the only thing that's left here.
TOOBIN: Right, and since we found out last week that Paul Manafort gave secret polling data to a Russian intelligence official the idea that no one was involved with collusion is becoming harder and harder to defend. Thus, yesterday's statement.
BURNETT: And as I say before we go the fact the word poll is involved is pretty significant as well.
All right. Thank you all.
And next, what's the connection between Jerry Falwell, Jr., Donald Trump and that I.T. expert, you know, who was supposedly hired to rig the polls for Trump?
And this Cardi B video leaving senators conflicted. Jeanne Moos complains.
[19:50:48] BURNETT: Tonight, Liberty University defending one of its top officials after "The Wall Street Journal" reported that he was hired by Michael Cohen to rig online polls for Trump. That university is run by Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the president's biggest defenders. Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) reporter: Christian conservative Liberty University is shrugging off accusations against its chief information officer, saying outside work for its staff is fine, as long as it does not interfere with their employment obligations.
But the political link to Liberty goes a lot deeper.
TRUMP: In America, we don't worship government. We worship God.
FOREMAN: Because long before President Trump spoke at graduation, school president Jerry Falwell Jr. was speaking up for candidate Trump.
JERRY FALWELL, JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: When I walk into the voting booth, it's my job to choose -- not the best Sunday school teacher, not the best pastor, but the best leader for our country.
FOREMAN: One of the first and loudest voices from the evangelical community, Falwell endorsed Trump and pushed back against critics as they railed over alleged infidelities, lying, and questionable conduct.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
FALWELL: When the "Access Hollywood" video came out, I was one of the few that said that I believe Donald Trump was a different person than he was in 2005. I really do believe that.
JERRY FALWELL SR., TELEVANGELIST: Our founding fathers were not all saints.
FOREMAN: Falwell's father, founder of a potent Christian political movement in the '70s and '80s called the Moral Majority supported Ronald Reagan. Close to 30 years later at the GOP convention --
FALWELL: I stand here with the sincerest prayer that history is about to repeat itself with the election of Donald J. Trump.
FOREMAN: Still, it's been controversial. When Falwell defended Trump's statements about racial violence, some Liberty graduates returned their diplomas, yet Falwell has pressed on, steadily praising Trump's hard lines on trade, terrorism, immigration and more.
Asked just weeks ago by "The Washington Post," is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger they're support from you or other evangelical leaders? Falwell's answer, a flat no.
FALWELL: We knew about his past as a real estate mogul, as sort of a playboy, as the owner of a beauty pageant, and we supported him for one reason, because of his position on the issues.
FOREMAN: And so often, Erin, when we talk about Trump's base, this is what we're talking about, people out there who are simply saying no matter what happens with him, they are standing by him because they see enough advantage to their point of view no matter what else he does -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Tom, thank you.
And Jeanne is next.
BURNETT: Tonight, Dems don't know what to do after a rapper slams Trump. Here's Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rapper Cardi B likes to rap about money.
CARDI B, RAPPER (rapper): I need the dollars, I get the money and go.
MOOS: When she went on Instagram to talk about money and the shutdown --
CARDI B: This is crazy, and I really feel bad for these people that go to go to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) work to not get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) paid.
MOOS: Her rant, laced with all those swear words, went viral.
CARDI B: This is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crazy. Like our country is in a hell hole right now, all for the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wall.
MOOS: It left Democrats in a dilemma. They like her message. They really like that she has almost 40 million followers. But all those curse words?
CARDI B: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I'm scared.
MOOS: So were senators trying to decide whether or not to retweet the Cardi B video, wrote Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. OMG, I had the same argument with myself 30 minutes ago.
Responded Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. Schatz suggested they both retweet it. Murphy answered DHYB.
Don't hold your breath.
Then, Senator Chuck Schumer jumped in: Guys, I'm still holding my breath. Are you going to retweet Cardi b or not? Final answer, we decided not to do it. Wouldn't be senatorial.
The exchange prompted someone to suggest you guys need to take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's social media class. Yep, the 29-year-old congressional newbie tweeted class was in
session. ABC reported she offered fellow Democrats nuggets like if you don't know what a meme is, don't post a meme. One fellow congressman joked the below pic is called a selfie.
As for worrying about not being senatorial, not every congresswoman is congressional.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: We're going to impeach the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MOOS: And certainly not every president is presidential.
TRUMP: We'll beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.
MOOS: But bleeping Cardi B is as rhythmic as a cardiac monitor.
CARDI B: But this is really (EXPLETIVES DELETED) serious, bro.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CARDI B: Our country is in a hell hole right now.
BURNETT: And thank you for joining us.
Anderson starts now.