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Trump News Conference Moved Up Two Hours, Signing Ceremony With Kim Jong-un Unlikely; Former Fixer Turns On Trump In Explosive Testimony; Cohen $35,000 Checks Were Hush Money Reimbursements; Michael Cohen Testifies at Congress; Trump-Kim Summit Ends with No Agreement. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired February 28, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- ten years but in Wednesday's congressional hearing he turned on his old boss like a Shakespearean tragedy. Cohen said Trump directed him to make hush money payments to two women during the campaign, Mr. Trump was aware his advisor Roger Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks before hacked e- mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign were published.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist, he is a con man and he is a cheat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Overshadowing what is happening here in Hanoi, President Trump, he is expected to hold a news conference in just about an hour. It was supposed to happen a few hours later in the day. But the White House Press Secretary Santa Sarah Sanders says that it has been moved up. She's also saying that an expected signing ceremony with Kim Jong-un now seems unlikely.
So far today, President Trump has not mentioned Michael Cohen. He is focusing instead on convincing the North Korean leader to give up his nuclear weapons that he has spent much of his time in power promoting and developing. The President says it may not happen today, or tomorrow, or who knows when, but he did predict fantastic success saying that it might happen a little bit longer term. During a rare Q&A with reporters, Kim Jong-un sounded optimistic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman Kim, are you ready to denuclearize?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Korean)
KIM JONG-UN, LEADER, NORTH KOREA (through translator): If I'm willing to do that, I won't be here right now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good answer. Wow. That might be the best answer you've ever heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: An optimistic tone before those talks got underway. But after the talks, again, this new development, Sarah Sanders repeatedly refusing to answer reporter questions about whether a scheduled signing ceremony would actually happen telling them that it does seem unlikely at this stage. That is an important development. We'll have to see what President Trump says in his press conference in just under an hour.
I want to bring in CNN White House Reporter Kevin Liptak who's live here in Hanoi. Kevin, what do you make of this?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it certainly as you said unclear what this means for this summit, but it is seen -- it does seem like it's being cut short. In addition to that signing ceremony that was cut out of the schedule, it does not appear that the two leaders will be eating lunch together. Reporters had been brought into the room at the Metropole Hotel where they were supposed to be dining together. They were there for over an hour waiting for the two leaders to walk in and they never did.
Sarah Sanders told the pool, the White House pool that the negotiators were still in their talks, that they would be in there for another 30 to 45 minutes, and then that the president would be returning to his hotel. Now, before these talks began, North Korean and U.S. negotiators were here in Hanoi trying to finalize that joint agreement, finalized the details that would be contained within it.
They were working to try and establish a more concrete roadmap to denuclearization after a somewhat vague statement was signed at their last summit in Singapore. If that ceremony -- if that signing ceremony doesn't proceed, it's not clear whether they were successful.
Stephen Biegun, the president's special envoy for North Korean negotiations had arrived in Hanoi several days ahead of the President to try and hammer out the language and the details of this signing statement. So as you said, we'll have to monitor this situation as it unfolds here in Hanoi.
As you were saying earlier, the President's advisers were a little worried that he would be undercut by that testimony that occurred on the other side of the world by Michael Cohen. The President himself stayed up and watched some of it in his hotel room while he was here.
And I'm certain that he was hoping to emerge from these talks with an agreement that might be able to prove the naysayers wrong about this diplomatic gamble that he is undertaking with North Korea. At this point, that joint agreement certainly seems like it's up and up in the air, Will.
RIPLEY: Kevin Liptak, I know you'll be checking with your sources. I want to get right to our panel here. Joseph Yun, a former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea policy, now a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Institute of Peace and a CNN Global Affairs Analyst, and John Kirby a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, former Pentagon and State Department spokesman and now a CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst.
OK, guys, we were optimistic at the beginning of the last hour. How are you -- how are you feeling now?
JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, this would be very, very disappointing. No lunch, no signing, possibly no joint statement. I mean, I have to believe what's been happening is of course at working-level. Special Representative Biegun has been negotiating. He was not getting much satisfaction so he gets kicked up to Pompeo and to (INAUDIBLE) level and they were not getting much satisfaction.
And then finally, he goes to the summit level, obviously. And there it seems like there was -- there's no agreement at all at this point. I mean, we have to wait and see. But if this is the case, then they're going to go back and have to regroup again and then there will be a whole bunch of questioning. Was there preparation?
Certainly, from what I could see, there have not been many working level meetings, in fact, only one. So that begs the question, have we done our homework? Did we know what they expected? We'll have to wait and see, Will, but right now, it doesn't look good.
[01:05:50] RIPLEY: Admiral Kirby, obviously President Trump had a lot on his mind going into this, but the pictures that we've seen, he seemed calm and collected. Now, lunch canceled, press conference is happening two hours early.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes. I have to agree with the ambassador. I'm a little concerned about the lunch thing. Because you would think if this was going swimmingly, why not have the lunch? It is great optic, you can meet -- the image of being relaxed and conversing. The fact there's in lunch that does bothers me a little bit too. And maybe it means that they just weren't able to make progress.
If that's the case, then -- and if Trump just decided, hey, I'm walking away, that's not all that bad. I mean, it's disappointing in the short-term, but for Kim to see Trump being able to say, walk away, look, we're not getting anywhere. I'm not going to sit here and negotiate for the sake of negotiating. That's also not all that bad in terms of perhaps long-term progress later on.
RIPLEY: If -- maybe even shows that the President isn't so desperate for a big headline if he doesn't think he's going to get results.
KIRBY: Yes, right. It could be -- could just mean that he's again focused like he should be and being pragmatic about it. Again, I'd be disappointed if there isn't an agreement. I don't want to overstate that. But there's also something to be said for being able to get up and walk away if it is for the going at all in a positive direction.
YUN: Well, looking at it substantively, I do think walking away is a bad signal.
RIPLEY: Well, I was going to ask -- YUN: Let's not -- let's not try to you know --
RIPLEY: Would the North Koreans cancel lunch or would that be the U.S. call?
YUN: That would be a U.S. call, you know. And so, what signals does it send? And also what are the next steps? I mean, clearly, now, we're not opening many options that we didn't think about. Increase in tensions and who knows, fire and fury. And so we really don't want to go there. So I mean, if certainly, if I was managing this, what I would look for is minimum agreement to paper over the differences and at least present the face that we're making progress.
So, I mean, let's see. I mean, below joint statement is there will be a press statement from each inside which we can expect. And there we'll have to go through and see where they agreed, where they disagreed. My own guess is we got what North Korea wants the most which is sanctions relief. And we've known from the beginning this was not something that President Trump was willing to give.
And so I think he felt that he just could not take that public step. I mean, that would be my own guess that's where he got stuck.
RIPLEY: What is your guess, Admiral?
KIRBY: It could be that very much. I mean, again, this is I guess where we -- where we may differ. I think if -- I think if it's on an issue like that, it would be unfortunate for the President to give too much here in only the second summit. And it doesn't have to be the end of the diplomatic process. I mean, maybe there will be another one. Maybe they agreed at least on some sort of ability to have a continued discussion even if it is not a liaison office.
So again, we have to wait and see. And we shouldn't overreact now without knowing too much. But canceling the lunch, that's not a good sign.
KIRBY: I mean, we know on the U.S. side, they were lowering expectations ahead of this. But none of us expected I think to see an abrupt end and certainly not the cancellation of lunch. So we'll obviously be watching as the clock ticks and we wait to hear from President Trump and then we'll get some insights. Admiral and Ambassador, thank you both for being here. We'll, of course, keep checking in with you. But right now, it's time to go back to John Vause in Atlanta.
VAUSE: Will, thank you. And as Donald Trump was in Vietnam playing down expectations, his once former loyal fixer Michael Cohen was under oath before Congress and accusing the U.S. President of repeatedly lying, of coverups and legal violation. For more now on the legal implications of Cohen's testimony, we head to Los Angeles. We welcome David Katz, former U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles and Jessica Levinson, a Professor of Law and Governance at Loyola University.
OK, so on that big question of possible Russian collusion, Cohen testified about a phone conversation where Roger Stone told Trump of WikiLeaks dump of damaging Hillary Clinton e-mails which is days away. He also testified about a conversation between Trump and Don Jr. indicating that Trump knew ahead of time that the Trump Tower meeting of June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. He was even asked by one of the lawmakers if Trump would be capable of colluding with Russia. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:10:03] REP. DEBORAH WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Would he have the potential to cooperate or collude with a foreign power to win the presidency at all costs?
SCHULTZ: Did he lie about colluding and coordinating with the Russians at any point?
COHEN: I wouldn't use the word colluding. Was there something odd about the back-and-forth praise with President Putin? Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Dave, I'll start with you -- start with you. Cohen said he had no evidence to prove collusion actually happen. If Cohen doesn't have that evidence, the man who is so close to Donald Trump and knew so much of what was going on, who does?
DAVID KATZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Michael Cohen said he didn't have direct evidence of collusion. Like he said, he didn't go to Prague and like Michael Cohen said he didn't talk to any Russian agents in Europe. But it's a very different thing to say that that somehow cleared or made this a good day for President Trump.
You're asking who might have further evidence of collusion? Well, Manafort, I think Gates the deputy campaign chairman may very well. There's also Flynn. There's a lot of people who haven't testified. What was remarkable about today is that we actually saw live so we could see him in person on television under oath. We saw the longtime fixer and lawyer for the President.
And so the first person from his whole cast of characters who's actually come forward on live T.V. and talked about it and we had them you know, in our in our homes, on our televisions, on our mobile devices was Michael Cohen. And you know, the Republicans said, oh well, you're a liar, nobody should believe you.
Who hired Michael cone to be his liar and fixer for over ten years? Donald Trump did. He could have hired any lawyer in New York. Who did he hire? He hired Michael Cohen. He had Michael Cohen intimidate and threatened people over 500 times in ten years according to his sworn testimony.
And guess what, Michael Cohen also has corroboration. He has documentary evidence that he presented, John, which shows that there's some basis for what he has to say in terms of bank fraud and also in terms of this campaign fraud for paying the hush money to these two women who were going to explode right before the election on Trump.
VAUSE: I guess my point is -- I'll speak to you Jessica, if collusion with Russia was actually happening, why wouldn't someone like Michael Cohen who was at that very, very senior level, so very close to the president, why wouldn't he know that it was happening?
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY: Yes. I mean, I think that this is frankly helpful to President Trump. And I think overall, this is not a good day for President Trump. But I think that the idea that Michael Cohen doesn't have a so-called smoking gun that he merely has suspicions is good news for the Trump campaign in the past and for President Trump currently.
Now, it doesn't mean again that there weren't people who were more closely involved with the campaign that it doesn't mean that there weren't people who are more closely involved with the Russian government, that there wasn't this type of as you know legally speaking we should really say conspiracy.
But I think that it shows that there wasn't the kind of daily chatter for instance in the Trump campaign about well let's get on the phone and talk to Russia about how we can fix the election. And of course that's not really how it would happen.
But I think that it also made frankly Michael Cohen's testimony a lot more believable because he did say a number of times I'm not sure about that. I don't know. No I didn't go to Prague. I didn't hear anything about -- he said I don't know anything about a child out of wedlock. So he actually kind of quelled a lot of I think the more conspiratorial rumors that we've heard as well.
VAUSE: And if there was -- sorry, Dave, yes.
KATZ: John, he had a couple of bombshells, however, which do hurt Trump regarding collusion. One is that Roger Stone called him on a speakerphone and said there's going to be a WikiLeaks dump of documents before it happened. And Trump said that would be great. That's damning testimony. And that looks like it can be corroborated because again it was on a speakerphone. There might have been yet another witness to it.
On top of that, Michael Cohen talks about the meeting at Trump Tower that before it happened, there was also a heads-up that Donald Trump Jr. came around the table which was unusual and whispered to his dad but loud enough so Michael Cohen could hear it. Hey, the meetings going ahead and Donald Trump said that's great.
The meeting is of course, the one that the e-mail had gone to Donald Trump Jr. about which said we have dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign from the Russian government and that's the one where the Russian lawyer and this motley crew all show up at the Trump Tower. Kushner is there, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort is there. That's very bad on top of everything else that Michael Cohen had to say. It was not just those two bombshells. One after the other, I'd made the president look terrible. VAUSE: I guess we had all that and you still -- and you didn't -- and you have him saying that he doesn't have direct evidence. That sort of raises a few questions. But if there is a smoking gun of a crime, it seems to be you know, in the evidence which Cohen submitted as part of his testimony that the checks -- two checks for $35,000 one signed by Donald Trump with that very notable signature, and the other one by Don Jr. This is reimbursement to Cohen for $130,000 he paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her affair with Donald Trump.
So, Jessica, I want you to listen to more from Cohen on the role that the president played in that hush payment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:15:31] REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA), VICE CHAIR, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND REFORM: Did the president call you to coordinate on public messaging about the payments to miss Clifford's in or around February 2018?
HILL: What did the president ask or suggest that you say about the payments or reimbursements?
COHEN: He was not knowledgeable of these reimbursements. And he wasn't knowledgeable of my actions.
HILL: He asked you to say that?
COHEN: Yes ma'am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Jessica, separate what is legal peril here for the president, as opposed to -- you know, political damage.
LEVINSON: So, I think that politically, it's -- you know, is quite damaging. And frankly, I would just echo again. I don't think all that new but it is different hearing. It's different on a visceral level and it's different, frankly, for the members of Congress who are going to have to go back to their constituents who watch these hearings and have to defend the president and his policies.
But legally speaking, for me, the fact that there are checks for instance that show a reimbursement, really doesn't add all that much if you look to the specifics of what Michael pled -- what Michael Cohen pled guilty to in open court, and what the sentencing memorandum said.
Which means that prosecutors weren't just taking Michael Cohen's word for it, they had other evidence, they believed that President Trump was the person who directed Michael Cohen to violate these federal election laws.
Now, does that mean that it can give rise to criminal liability because we would need President Trump to understand that this was a willful and knowing violation of campaign finance law?
I don't think the checks change that. I still think that's a question mark. I think it -- that -- what it does is it adds to the overall narrative that this was, in fact, a concerted effort to skirt campaign finance laws. But it's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And I don't see frankly any of that today.
VAUSE: Yes, very quickly, David, let's sort of wrap up on the direction -- you know, the implication, the Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow.
He said she -- you know, fudged the timeline that White House lawyers -- the virtual lawyers for Donald Trump reviewed his testimony, Cohen's testimony before he delivered it to Congress.
You know, essentially, what we had here is a situation where Trump didn't say directly, that you must go out and lie to Congress. But Cohen is saying, he knew what he had to say. It was made very clear to him what he had to do. Is that still obstruction of justice?
KATZ: Well, yes, it is. And the attempt to obstruct justice can also be the crime. But you know, this was kind of, at least, in Michael Cohen's description kind of like something out of The Godfather or out of a mafia movie where the Don doesn't say, "Do this exactly." He doesn't say, whack this person.
He tells you a story about somebody who had a really bad thing happened to them, and it lingers in your mind. Then, after Michael Cohen has been the fixer and the lawyer, 10 years, 500 times threatening and intimidating people, Michael Cohen, says, "That was the code. I got the message loud and clear."
So, as I say, this is very bad for obstruction of justice. There is lots and lots of examples and on top of that, Michael Cohen said there were many things he could not talk about like the foundation for new investigations in the Southern District of New York of charity fraud, of bank fraud, of witness tampering.
All of that not just by Trump, but by his immediate family. As I say, this was the day that President Trump dreaded, and it happened, and it's going to have a lot of repercussions including I think, the House is definitely going to vote articles of impeachment. Now, what the Senate will do, that's another story, John.
VAUSE: Yes. As I say, when you -- if you're going to take a shot at the King, you better make it a good one because you won't get a second. I guess that's one reason why they've been holding off. But David and Jessica, thank you so much. We really appreciate your analysis and your insight. It's been great.
KATZ: Great to be with you.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
VAUSE: Thank you. Up next. Last call for lunch in Hanoi. Anyone want lunch? There's an empty table there because of some surprising changes of the schedule at the Trump-Kim summit. We'll go live in Hanoi, find out what they could say for how these talks are progressing between the two leaders, just ahead.
[01:22:02] RIPLEY: Welcome back to you. CNN NEWSROOM, live from Hanoi, Vietnam, where we are following some breaking news at this hour at the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, seems to be coming to an unexpected abrupt end.
The two leaders skipped their planned working lunch. They had already put out the menu, they had the table set. Now, it's not happening. And it seems there is not going to be any ceremony celebrating a joint agreement between the two.
We're now hearing that President Trump will be holding a news conference nearly two hours than originally planned that coming up at the top of the hour. Of course, we will bring that to you live.
But right now, I want to bring in CNN's Ivan Watson who is following the situation here in Hanoi.
Ivan, you spoke yesterday with the Vietnamese prime minister and he was obviously optimistic about this summit, it seems now things are changing.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, we even had the menu of this expected working lunch, Will. Where the two leaders were going to dine on snow fish and a banana toffee pie dessert.
Well, it appears of those dishes will go uneaten. We've been shown images of the table itself that the two leaders were expected to be seated at, set for this working lunch. Not only does it appear that, that won't take place. But as you mentioned, the signing ceremony which the White House had told us about.
Which leads to some serious questions what changed here in what was supposed to be this second summit -- the second successful meeting between these two leaders.
We may get a hint of that from this statement from President Trump earlier today. Take a listen where he seems to lower expectations a little bit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think, no matter what happens, we will be ultimately have a deal that's really good for Chairman Kim and his country and for us. I think ultimately that's what's going to happen. That's where it's all leading. It doesn't mean we're doing it in one day or two days, but it's all leading toward a very, very big success.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WATSON: Will, the Trump administration stated goal is to get complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization in North Korea. And if you're canceling a working lunch, and canceling a signing ceremony, the suggestion is they're not there yet. Will?
RIPLEY: And on the North Korean side, Ivan, they wanted sanctions relief right away. So, if neither side got what they want, then this whole second summit could really turn out to be a big fat nothing.
WATSON: Yes, and again, it's still too early to say and we'll, of course, have to learn more when President Trump engages in that press conference that we're expecting within the hour.
But, we did hear in some of the exchanges between the two leaders that were conducted in front of the press, very unusual, unprecedented, frankly, where Kim Jong-un answered some questions from American reporters that the question of opening a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang was asked, and President Trump prompted Kim Jong-un a response -- to respond to that.
Kim said, he would welcome that, and President Trump seemed to agree. So, that was a very interesting exchange with the press kind of used as a way to air this out this possible step in public.
But again, we're just going to have to look and wait until the White House comes out with a formal statement to hear what was or was not accomplished at the second historic meeting between these two leaders.
[01:25:44] RIPLEY: And the North Koreans, whose coverage of this summit so far has been glowing. They will likely be putting out their own statement. We'll have to compare what both sides have to say. Ivan Watson, live here in Hanoi. Thank you.
That press conference, by the way, just over 30 minutes from now. And we will bring it to you live right here on CNN.
Next on NEWSROOM though, a charge of racism, and perhaps, even criminal activity from President Trump's former lawyer. How one Republican lawmaker tried to refute that charge and the backlash that has followed?
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. There been unexpected last- minute changes to the summit schedule in Hanoi, Vietnam. U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un apparently will be doing lunch.
And it now seems unlikely the two will sign a joint statement. Instead, Trump's scheduled news conference has been moved up two hours. That's now set for about 30 minutes from now.
Back in Washington, all eyes were on President Trump's former attorney at an explosive congressional hearing. Michael Cohen told lawmakers, Trump pursued a project in Moscow, well into his presidential campaign.
He also said Trump, reimbursed him for hush money payments to two women, violation of campaign finance laws. And there is a whole lot out of it as well.
Let's get Los Angeles and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson. Also with us, Republican strategist once, Charles Moran. So, thanks for sticking around for one more go.
Out first of the big picture here. Charles, Cohen's testimony delivered specific allegations of bank and insurance fraud, potential violations of campaign finance laws, and word of another unnamed investigation which is underway. But was there enough here to move the political needle in any way? Will the Trump supporters actually look at this and say, not the glad I thought he was.
CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thanks, John. No, I mean, today, really just made both sides retreat to their corners. If you were a supporter of Donald Trump, this -- none of this information is really going to do anything to dissuade you otherwise. If you didn't like Donald Trump, this is just going to make you hate Donald Trump even more. There's really not a lot that we got out of this today.
Clearly the point of the hearing was to discuss if there was any kind of Russian collusion or election interference. There were no silver bullets. There was nothing really major that came out of Mr. Cohen's testimony other than, you know, even putting some more -- some more nails in the coffin around some of the reports going out about him being in the Czech Republic or Prague.
He didn't observe anything that really had anything to do with Russian interference. So no silver bullet, both sides retreated to their two camps and it was another day of political theater.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Dave -- how do you see it?
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well John -- what was fascinating to me is just a few hours ago "The Hill" actually came out with a brand new poll that underscored the fact that there is some splintering within the Republican coalition behind the President.
Their new poll that came out in the story just hours ago basically contrasted a poll that they had done back in July where 87 percent of Republicans had a favorable rating of the President. Interestingly in this new poll only 79 percent have a favorable rating of the President.
Among Independents, Donald Trump won, I believe, around 46 percent of Independents nationwide, according to exit polling. But he's ticked down to 42 percent favorable rating in that same poll with Independent voters. Now that's the key swing vote ultimately that will likely determine
who is the president in the 2020 election. So, you know, if this poll is indicative of a potential splintering within the Republican coalition, that's newsworthy. And the fact that, you know, Donald Trump ha assort of maintained this Republican base throughout the core -- pardon me, the duration of his presidency.
If this is sort of the tip of the iceberg of something that potentially could continue that is really damaging for the President as we head towards the 2020 election.
VAUSE: It's not cracks in the eyes, perhaps the sound of cracks.
You know, what we saw is the Republicans on the committee went in with the idea that, you know, the best defense was an offense, say attack Cohen on credibility but they did not defend the President even on questions of substance about the allegations that he was making.
Listen to the former New Jersey governor, Republican Chris Christie on why that was a really dumb move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Someone needs to defend the President of the United States here. He's being accused of crimes by a guy who seemingly has inside knowledge of it. But there is an explanation for this and no one is defending the President.
The President -- I can guarantee, I know him well -- he's sitting in Vietnam right now fuming --
CHRISTIE: -- that no one -- fuming that no one is defending him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, David -- is it possible that Republicans can't muster the will to defend this administration anymore?
JACOBSON: I think that's right. I mean the reality is these folks are all going to be up for re-election, of course, in the 2020 election. They saw this massive tsunami of a blue wave that shook the country. Democrats won by almost nine million votes in the popular vote in 2018 watershed moment of an election.
And so I think it is clear that they're not going to carry the water for the President. I mean you had Mark Meadows there, one of the President's closest allies not defending the President, just making a joke of this testimony by Michael Cohen. Not fact finding, not trying to defend the President, not trying to do anything to sort of move the needle forward for the President.
And the reality is these guys are hypocrites. They're calling Michael Cohen a liar. That's their defense of the President. We know the President is a liar. He has lied over 8,000 times, according to the "Washington Post" fact checkers. And so they're not doing any justice for the President with their performance that we saw earlier today.
VAUSE: Time and time again, Cohen in his testimony, refuted what the President had said publicly. Just last month, for example, Trump was asked by the "New York Times", you know, about conversations he's had with his long-time associate and the master of the dark political arts Roger Stone. This is what he told the "Times" last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever talk to him about WikiLeaks because that seemed to be what Mueller was --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you never had a conversation with him?
TRUMP: No, I didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok.
TRUMP: I never did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever tell him -- did you ever tell him or other people to get in touch with him?
TRUMP: Never did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Now listen to Cohen testifying under oath what his recollection was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked documents, the Democratic National Committee e-mail ahead of time. And the answer is yes. As I earlier stated Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Charles -- you have to pick your lie, doesn't it. Do you go with the guy under oath who knows first hand the penalty for lying to Congress or one, who you know, they said is close to 8,000 false statements since taking office?
MORAN: Well, John --once again, if you actually play the entire clip of what Mr. Cohen was talking about with regards to Roger Stone, I mean it was Roger stone who was trying to be something more than he was. I mean he's -- you know, he's always been trying to get on the inner circle of Donald Trump.
He was the person calling Donald Trump. He was the person pushing all of this forward. And really President Trump would just kind of sit there and say ok Roger, thanks for the info, have a great day.
[01:35:03] He wasn't asking Roger Stone to do any of this. He wasn't pushing any of this forward. He was just taking the call.
So really there's not a lot of inconsistency here. President Trump did not send Roger Stone on any kind of mission to try to advance the WikiLeaks or maintain communication with Julian Assange.
I mean once again, there's not anything here. This is, you know, Roger Stone every knows is the master of political theater and again he's trying to just raise his own profile.
But I want to just touch on something that --
VAUSE: Quickly we're almost out of time.
MORAN: -- what Dave was talking about. I think it is smart that the Republicans didn't necessarily engage at this level and -- necessarily defend Trump. Because in the next election cycle these Republicans are going to be defending themselves, their votes and the record that they have run on.
For them it is not about Donald Trump. It's about winning reelection. And this is about -- you know, this trial, this show trial that went on in Washington, D.C. is not going help or hurt them.
VAUSE: Charles -- it sounds like you're saying that by defending Donald Trump the Republicans could cause themselves some trouble at the next election.
But we're out of time. We will leave it at that.
MORAN: That's what the Democrats want -- all about Trump, not about any real achievements.
VAUSE: Dave -- all this could go on forever. I wish we had more time but we don't.
Dave and Charles -- good to see you both. Thank you.
JACOBSON: Thank you.
VAUSE: Ok. Stay with us. A short break. We're back in a moment.
You're watching CNN.
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. We're expecting Donald Trump to hold a news conference shortly in Hanoi -- a major change of plans that we just found out about a short time ago.
CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us now live with details.
Jim -- this will be a solo news conference. The President will be appearing by himself.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
VAUSE: And if you don't have the working lunch, if you don't have the signing ceremony, if you leave early it doesn't look good.
ACOSTA: No John -- it doesn't look good. And we're just finding out in the last couple of minutes here via statement from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is that this summit has ended without any kind of an agreement.
It says here in the statement from Sarah Sanders sent out to the White House pool, White House reporters just a few moments ago, quote, "No agreement was reached at this time but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future."
A very short statement from Sarah Sanders there about the conclusion of this summit here in Hanoi, Vietnam. And so the President came all this way, all the way to the other side of the world in hopes of perhaps create a bit of a distraction for the American people back home that might have been very hyper-focused on what Cohen was saying up on Capitol Hill hours ago.
[01:40:05] But unfortunately for the President, unfortunately for the Trump administration they're going to be leaving Vietnam without any kind of an agreement.
And keep in mind, this was supposed to be a summit to move the ball forward. Instead it seems the goal posts may be moved after all of this.
You'll remember a year ago John, when the President had that summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. They had the signing statement. They made this announcement that Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime had agreed to start denuclearizing. We never really saw any hard evidence of that happening.
And they came into this summit in Hanoi in the hopes of at least advancing both sides toward that end conclusion. But it seems at this summit in Vietnam, that has not happened.
And so we're going to be waiting to see what the President says in just a short while from now. A press conference was supposed to be held later on this afternoon in Hanoi. It was supposed to happen at 4:00 in the afternoon. It was moved up to two hours after the White House got rid of the signing statement ceremony that they were supposed to have between the President and Kim Jong-un and a bilateral lunch that appears to have also been scrapped, by and large.
And so what we're going to see here in just about 20 minutes from now John, if everything is on schedule, the President will come out and explain presumably exactly what happened. What broke down in these discussions?
We saw just in the last couple of hours the President with Kim Jong-un talking to reporters and it sounded as though they were moving things in the right direction. Kim Jong-un, in what was a pretty remarkable moment was actually answering questions from American reporters.
David Nakamura of the "Washington Post" who's been handling a lot of the pool duties asked the question, whether or not Kim Jong-un was -- you know, why he was here.
And Jeff Mason from Reuters was also asking why was Kim Jong-un here. Was he interested in denuclearizing? And Kim Jong-un at one paid said I wouldn't be here if I was not interested denuclearizing.
That was a pretty impressive, remarkable moment for this summit. But at the same time, you could tell from what the President was saying earlier in the day, he was telling reporters earlier in the day that he wasn't necessarily interested in having a deal reached quickly. That he wanted the right deal is what he was saying to reporters. That is an acknowledgement that they could not reach some kind of an agreement at this Hanoi summit.
And so John -- what you're seeing here is the President walking away from the summit empty-handed. There was no art of the deal. There was no deal making. And the President would be walking out here in a few moments from now to basically explain to the world what exactly went wrong.
And you know, John -- when he opens it up to questions, yes, there will be questions about Kim Jong-un, yes there will be questions about North Korea.
But by and large I think you're going to hear this press corps ask a lot of questions about what Michael Cohen testified to lawmakers up on Capitol Hill hours ago. That is something he has not really weighed in on. We haven't seen a tweet from the President about this. And so that is going to be a big topic here when this gets started in about 20 minutes from now -- John.
VAUSE: Jim -- thank you for that. We'll check in with you when this gets under way about 20 minutes from now if all goes according to plan.
Stay with us. We'll have that press conference live.
But in the meantime "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.
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[01:44:58] [CNN WORLD SPORT]