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Rudy Giuliani Indicates President Trump Did Not Collude with Russia but Leaves Open Possibility Trump Campaign Members Did; Interview with Democratic Congressman Max Rose of New York. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired January 17, 2019 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- this is current day in the United States.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 2019.

CAMEROTA: It's just shocking.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No place for it. Sara Sidner, thank you for the report.

A stunning admission from the president's lawyer in the Russia investigation. Stick around.

CAMEROTA: OK, good. You stuck around. Good morning, welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: When we say it's happening right now, we mean really right now. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, January 17th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump's lawyer admits the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia. Here is what Rudy Giuliani told our Chris Cuomo just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign. I have no idea. I have not. I said the president of the United States, there is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here -- conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, not true. And we have the video to prove it, which we'll play shortly. Rudy Giuliani then made another false statement, claiming President Trump also only said that he did not collude with the Russians, not his whole campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The president did not -- CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He said nobody had contact. Tons of people

had contact. Nobody colluded. The guy running his campaign was working at an issue at the same time as the convention.

GIULIANI: He said he didn't. He said he didn't. How would you know that nobody in your campaign --

CUOMO: He actually did say that, Rudy. He said nobody. Then he said as far as he knows.

GIULIANI: As far as he knows, that's true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Giuliani is lying. The president did say so. We have the video. He has repeatedly denied not only that he, but he has also that anyone in his campaign coordinated with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian people.

There was no collusion whatsoever. There never has been. The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now, John Avlon, Astead Herndon, national politics reporter for the "New York Times," and Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney. Leave the fact that Rudy Giuliani just lied aside. The president has said that nobody colluded. Rudy Giuliani has said that nobody colluded. Elie, I am dying to know why Rudy Giuliani came on CNN last night and moved the goal posts so far that he's only saying the president didn't collude now. Why?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is ridiculous what Giuliani said. It is self-contradictory. But I do think it's a strategy of sorts, and it's one I have seen before as a prosecutor. Rudy Giuliani came up through the southern district like I did. He was several decades before, making cases against large criminal organizations. And when you do that, one think you learn is that the boss, the guy at the top, has a benefit, he has an advantage, which is he's insulated. He's protected by the people below him. He can give orders, he doesn't have to do his own dirty work with his own hands. So when things go bad, when subpoenas start flying, when indictments start dropping, he can make the exact defense we saw from Rudy Giuliani last night, the boss defense. The, ey, wasn't me. It was the guys around me.

BERMAN: A strategic -- I'm sorry, you called it a strategic surrender. What do you mean?

HONIG: Yes. He's being backed into a corner. And what defense lawyers do when they're in a tight spot is you give up whatever ground you have to give up. You see what the facts are, and as the facts close in, you surrender and you back into a corner. And we saw that. The quote that jumped out at me that caught my attention was Giuliani said the only crime he can commit here is collusion, which is outrageous. He's trying to change the playing field, he's trying to shrink the bull's eye so that nobody can damage his client.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, you worked with Rudy Giuliani for many years when he was mayor. You know how he thinks. What was Rudy Giuliani doing there last night? Was he foreshadowing something that was to come or was he trying to clean up the Paul Manafort stuff?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this was a strategic flanking move by Rudy. I don't think this was a misstatement while playing pit bull on TV. This was moving the goal posts to protect his client. And I think it did acknowledge that some of the facts that are already our and maybe some to come are likely to show that there were more contacts and perhaps ones that could be classified as collusion between members of the campaign and the Russia. It's an acknowledgment of that inevitable fact. But he's trying to insulate his client. That's his number one job.

CAMEROTA: It's more strategic. Sometimes people think that he goes off half-cocked, that he shoots from the hip, and he says things.

AVLON: I don't think this is one of those. I really don't, because he did not try to clean it up after stating it. After some misstatements he'll try to confuse it. I think he's probably not aware of everything the president said, although anyone with a passing knowledge of this case should know the president has repeatedly said no collusion between the campaign. But it's an acknowledgment of facts that have already come to bear and perhaps facts still to come.

BERMAN: And it's a great point, because there are times people say, oh, Giuliani has lost his fast ball, or he's saying things that are crazy, and then it turns out later there was a reason for it.

[08:05:03] Case in point is when he went on TV and blurted, revealed, admitted out of the blue that Donald Trump had paid for out of his funds the hush money for Stormy Daniels. Let's play that one more time so people remember how Rudy Giuliani made a big reveal on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000 which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money. Sorry. I'm giving you a fact that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: They funneled it through a law firm.

GIULIANI: Funneled it through a law firm, and then the president repaid it.

HANNITY: Oh, I didn't know. He did?

GIULIANI: Yes. HANNITY: There's no campaign finance law?

GIULIANI: Zero.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: When he did that, we were like, oh, my gosh, he's blurting this out. That was a big mistake. It turned out to be he was planting the seed, laying the groundwork for what we were about to hear, which is of course that President Trump made the payment. So what's happening this time?

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Exactly. I think we are seeing somewhat of the same thing. You have the president's lawyer making that foreshadowing that may indicate that there are some facts to come that shows this is a strategic surrender, as we talked about earlier. But the politics here are also interesting. When Giuliani and when the president make these new sort of new statements, it signals to their supporters what the next grounds to fight on is.

And so not only do you have the legal defenses, but you have a political bunkering down that's happening, too. And so when you go to his supporters, when you go to Trump rallies, when you go to those communities that are still sticking behind him, they update with these new facts. They update with what the conservative media is telling them. And you'll see that kind of hunkering down based on the new information. So it's legal but it's also political.

CAMEROTA: And just to remind people that when Rudy Giuliani did say unequivocally that nobody in the Trump campaign was involved, at least he said nobody at the upper levels, he went on that tour, if you'll remember, he had a lot of media appearances July 30th when he said he didn't know if collusion would be a crime. And that got a lot of attention. But here's the moment on FOX News where he was trying to explain what he meant and did give that blanket statement. So listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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?

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Correct. When I say the Trump campaign, I mean the upper levels of the Trump campaign. I have no reason to believe anybody else did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, so the only question, Elie, is he softening the ground that the upper levels of the Trump campaign, maybe in addition to Paul Manafort.

BERMAN: It's the campaign chair. It's the campaign chair.

HONIG: Only for a few months, guys.

CAMEROTA: If it's the campaign chair, then he's doing cleanup for Paul Manafort. If he's not, he's foreshadowing something. If he's just talking about Paul Manafort, we already know that. The news broke that Paul Manafort passed along internal polling data. That is certainly cooperation with the Kremlin. So if that's all Rudy is talking about then we actually already knew that.

HONIG: It's hard to dance around the campaign chair. But I think he is setting the groundwork for something more. I think in their mind, in his mind, we have already written off Manafort. He said he was just here for five months during the convention and the key part of the campaign. But the evidence, even based on what we know, even based on things that Rudy Giuliani could not contest, the evidence is really getting to that point where I think, look, Rudy was panicked last night. And I think you could see why.

Undisputed -- Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, all of them have been convicted of crimes. All of them had either criminal or illicit conversations with Russia, all of them have lied about it. We know the Russians were engaged in the hacking, in the social media platform. All of that is undisputed and it is all starting to point in one direction. And I think you could see Rudy not handling it super coolly last night.

AVLON: I don't know that he was panicked. Again, that's not new information. What Rudy I think was doing was getting ahead of a story. In politics it's called telling the truth slowly. And Rudy is going to be the canary in the coalmine to say, to your point, that previous argument is no longer operative. And he's going to try to change the frame of the debate.

BERMAN: Would you be nervous if your Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner today? Did Giuliani just send a signal that I'm not here for you, the president's legal defense team isn't here for you?

HERNDON: That's what I heard. When we see that circle moving smaller, and now it's just to the president himself, that means everyone who is under that level can now be fair game if we are talking about the political signaling. I don't want to speculate on who that might be, but we know those have been folks who have been interviewed by the special counsel and are under the lens. And so if you are those people, that could be a signal that the president and his lawyer are now saying the only person we are really centralizing our defense around is the president himself.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, we are still trying to figure out if lawmakers are going to be able to subpoena the interpreter that has gone along when President Trump met with Vladimir Putin, particularly in Hamburg. What we now know from the "New York Times" reporting, and we had David Sanger on in the past hours who was integral in this, is that President Trump was so eager to get the word out that he believed Vladimir Putin and that Vladimir Putin was being falsely accused of election interference that he called David Sanger from Air Force One on the way back from Hamburg to plant that seed with him. [08:10:20] It was an off the record conversation, but then President

Trump broke that agreement by talking about it publicly. He so believed Vladimir Putin's position, or wanted to believe Vladimir Putin's position, that he felt it imperative to call David Sanger and tell him about it. And of course, lawmakers want to know what else went on during the conversation with Vladimir Putin and President Trump. And the only way they think they might be able to get the answer is if they could see the interpreter's notes, which the president took, or to interview that interpreter.

AVLON: Because it's hard to imagine there is an explanation for the president seizing the interpreter's notes, especially everything we know that's going on at the time. Want to talk panic? It's calling an off the record conversation with David Sanger to try to push a lie that has already been early as October of 2016, the intelligence community's unanimous assessment is that Russia was intervening. And the president of the United States is the one trying to push back on that narrative with a sense of real panic. So look, if there is any reluctance among members of Congress on either party, frankly, to get and subpoena --

CAMEROTA: There is reluctance.

AVLON: There is, and there shouldn't be.

CAMEROTA: But it would break a precedent that leaders of countries need to be able to speak freely to each other.

AVLON: But in this particular context, a hostile foreign power meddling in our election, the president of the United States benefitting from the meddling, overriding the unanimous opinion of the intelligence community, and then seizing the interpreter's notes in a private meeting which no one else was present, we are in an unprecedented situation.

BERMAN: And then proactively calling a reporter from the "New York Times" to spin Vladimir Putin's line on the same day that you are dictating a response for the "New York Times" to a meeting in Trump Tower that your son took with a Russian who was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. I'm not a lawyer or an investigator, Elie, but if I'm Robert Mueller, does that get to intent?

HONIG: Absolutely. It's all part of the big picture. The Trump Tower meeting obviously was on his mind. You can see it from the sequence that we just played out. He's on the plane and, yes, panicking at this point, calling David Sanger. That Trump Tower meeting, let's not lose sight of that. That is the danger zone potentially for Donald Trump, Jr., and Jared Kushner, as you mentioned. They sometimes tends to get washed away. They sat in Trump Tower with a bunch of Russians. We now know that the lawyer, Veselnitskaya, was connected to Russian intel trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton and discussing sanctions, which I think will become a bigger and bigger piece of this picture as we go. So yes, it all comes together. Intent is in all of the circumstances, but I think a clearer picture is emerging. CAMEROTA: The question is, who came up with the adoption cover story?

Was it Donald Trump on Air Force One? Was it Vladimir Putin the day earlier? Was it the Russian lawyer? Who came up -- it was wrong, so who came up with the adoption cover story? Thank you all very much for the insight.

So a newly elected Democrat goes to the White House for those talks about the shutdown yesterday with President Trump. Does he think there is now hope for a deal? We talk to him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:51] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The government shutdown drags into day 27. And the White House held a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers on the government shutdown and any possible solutions. Did they make progress?

Joining us now is a new Democratic Congressman, Max Rose. He attended that White House meeting. He is also an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. MAX ROSE (D), NEW YORK: Morning, thank you so much for having me.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you. Welcome to Congress.

ROSE: Thank you. Thank you again, although I've never been a member of Congress while the government is open, so we've got a lot of work to do right now.

CAMEROTA: That's an interesting point of reference for us. So, when you went to the White House yesterday, what did you say to the President? What did the President say to you? Did you sense any momentum?

ROSE: Well, you know, the message that we all collectively wanted to bring to the President is really twofold.

The first is, is that there is a strong bipartisan consensus emerging that we have got to get this government back open. That there's really a national crisis emerging in this country as our federal workers, many of whom are entrusted with national security responsibilities are not being paid. You know, we have food banks being set up by the FBI and the coast guard in my district and throughout the country.

And two, that there's also a obvious desire, and I'm not the first to say this and this wasn't the first time this was said in a meeting, that should we reopen the government even on a temporary basis, there is also a strong desire to sensibly analyze this issue of border security and national security and figure out a way that we can comprehensively address it while also upholding our values.

CAMEROTA: OK, so what did the President say about that proposal, of opening the government for three weeks and let's get this done?

ROSE: Look, that's one of the problems with this town is that everyone leaks like a sieve and I think that the most important thing that we speak to here is though is that there was a bipartisan meeting yesterday that was sensible, comprehensive --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

ROSE: -- and that's what matters, OK.

CAMEROTA: But was it off the record? I mean why can't you share where the President's head is on this?

ROSE: Well because I'm looking to achieve progress here, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm not looking to speak to anybody for anybody else but I what I do want to see is that this government is back open. And what I also know, I think that we have to strongly point out here is that shutdowns can not be used as tools of negotiations. We can't set that precedent here that the government can be shutdown by either party and they can advance a political agenda in the process.

CAMEROTA: Got it.

ROSE: I don't want to see a Democratic President do that either and should a Democratic President do that --

CAMEROTA: We've heard others say that too, totally understood.

ROSE: -- I would strongly stand up against it.

CAMEROTA: OK, so given that was there any talk, look I'm not asking you to settle a score or anything just to gives us some insight into whether or not there's any break in this impasse. Was there any suggestion of if you reopen the government we will compromise with you on the barrier that you've said that you want if you get us the dreamer or some --

[08:20:02] ROSE: No, that was not the purpose of this meeting. The purpose of this meeting and I find it -- you know, it's illustrative that this meeting was even news. It's illustrative of how broken this city is, OK?

The purpose of this meeting was to again appeal to the president and his team to reopen the government even on a temporary basis so that we can adequately and sensibly address national security concerns. Beyond that though, the purpose of this meeting was not to negotiate and I think that we should see a lot more of these bipartisan meetings happening in this town. It's one of the biggest problems that we see here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and so about the State of the Union address, you know Nancy Pelosi said that she doesn't believe the President - she sent a note saying that he should postpone it. You said she's bailing the President out, what does that mean?

ROSE: So, the question here is not whether there are security concerns or not but the question really is whether or not a State of the Union during a shutdown would be an absurdity. OK, what is the President going to stand up there and say hey, the State of our Union is that the federal government is not open for business, we have to start looking at this shutdown as a national crisis. One that has to immediately be resolved so that we can make sure that our national security is preserved and we are also paying people who are doing their jobs honorably. So, I think that a State of the Union address right now would be crazy.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about what happened in Syria, four American's were killed, you of course a veteran of Afghanistan. Do you agree with Senator Lindsay Graham that the President's announcement of a precipitous pull out of troops from Syria somehow emboldened or created enthusiasm from ISIS?

ROSE: You know, I don't think that that's the correct way that we should be evaluating national security concerns. The purpose, the point here is that we have to question whether or not ISIS is not -- is a threat, is a threat throughout the world and it has a presence in Syria. Right now, I think the obvious answer is yes and we have to address that threat in a multi-lateral comprehensive manner.

And so, we can not politicize this issue and that goes for either party. We can't do this by tweet, we can't say that we're doing a withdrawal that takes people by surprise, this is going to be a continued threat, one that doesn't mandate a huge invasion of countries but one that does mandate that we stay on the offensive and we always keep our guard up and that's what I'm in favor of.

CAMEROTA: But when the Vice President says ISIS has been defeated is he wrong?

ROSE: Absolutely. Absolutely he's wrong, yesterday was illustrative of that and we also can not look at this threat through the lens of a WWII paradigm. We're not going to have some grand treaty with ISIS, this is likely a fight and a threat that we are going to face for the duration of our respective lives and we have to come to terms with that.

And we have to adjust our foreign policy accordingly, that's one reason why I think Congress needs to play a far more aggressive role in determining our nations foreign policy. We can not allow though for mission creep. Should a presence in Syria be justified along the lines of countering Iran or coming to the aid of our Kurdish allies then certainly that would require congressional approval.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Max Rose, welcome to New Day, great to have you on.

ROSE: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being with us, we'll see you again.

ROSE: Thank you for having me again.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No tie. No tie until the shutdown ends. That's the way I look at it.

CAMREOTA: That would bring it to a quick end.

BERMAN: All right. A new article, the provocative title Trump must be a Russian agent, the alternative is too awful. We'll talk to the author, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:28:02] BERMAN: A remarkable shift in strategy by the Trump legal team. Rudy Giuliani says there was no collusion between the president and the Russian government, but he cannot say the same for the president's campaign.

(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. I have no idea. I have not. I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here -- conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Two things. One, it is not the only crime you could commit here. Number two, the president and Giuliani repeatedly have said there is no collusion at all. So, that was moving the goal posts about as much as you can move the goalposts last night.

Joining us now to discuss that and much more, Susan Glasser, staff writer for "The New Yorker" and CNN global affairs analyst, and Garrett Graff has a new article out for "Wired" titled "Trump must be a Russian agent; the alternative is too awful."

We'll let you ruminate on the title while I go to Susan first for reaction on Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer saying the president didn't collude. As for everyone else on the campaign, meh, who knows?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Look, there is a word for this called chutzpah. Your point is well taken. The president and his lawyer seem to be moving the goal posts here. Is it up to them to decide what the goalposts are?

You know, again and again, this is about the fourth or fifth time they have changed their standards. It doesn't really matter in the end except as a communications tool to their followers who do pick up on President Trump's cues and that of Giuliani.

Did you look at the way he looked when he said this? His eyes pop out of his head when he says, I never said that, I never said that. I feel like it's one of the memorable moments we'll go back to when the Mueller report comes out.

But it's very important to note that the president himself is, in fact, in the middle of the questionable events and the allegations that Mueller.