Return to Transcripts main page


New Details From Key Player In Trump Hush-Money Deals; Boeing Announces Software Upgrade For 737 MAX Plane Fleet As Ethiopia Crash Probe Begins; Trump Named Winner Of Golf Championship He Didn't Play In. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: --crashed killing all 157 people on board, including eight Americans. That's two deadly crashes involving the 738 MAX in just five months. Today, several airlines around the world grounded the plane. Here in the U.S., Southwest, United, and American are still flying that aircraft.

That does it for us. Time to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME. It's a big night.

We have the man on the other side of those infamous hush-money payments, Attorney Keith Davidson represented Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, others. He cut those deals with Michael Cohen to help bury the news of President Trump's alleged affairs.

He is here. He has new information this evening, the timeline, the intentions, the President's awareness, he knows and he is willing to be tested.

Also tonight, Speaker Pelosi just said something that's going to make a lot of Democratic jaws drop, words she's never said to the press before. What they mean for holding this President to account?

Plus, the real deal about these Boeing Jets that went down months apart. Why hasn't that model been grounded here in the United States? What the FAA is saying? And we have a former Federal Investigator to give us the inside scoop.

What do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: All right, look, you know the President has been implicated in a felony by his own lawyer. The question is well why and how much can we trust as truth?

Let's ask the man on the other side of the hush payments, Keith Davidson, again, worked hand-in-hand with Cohen in the deals to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal.

Counselor, welcome to PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: Now, people are going to say, "Why now?" Why now?

DAVIDSON: Well "Why now?" It's the easy question.

The Southern - I've been involved in cooperating since day one with the Southern District of New York, the federal investigators. They asked me for a long period of time to refrain from making any statements public.

Once that the House Judiciary Committee sent out their letters and document request to 81 people that - that request for silence has - has been abandoned.

CUOMO: Now, the reason they needed you was because they were looking at the payments in going after Michael Cohen.


CUOMO: But it was also about the depth of the contacts. To the outside, the reporting, it was like, "Well, I don't know. Maybe Davidson just papered the deals and, you know, this was transactional."

How much contact did you have with Michael Cohen?

DAVIDSON: I - it's tough for me to say. I would estimate somewhere between 150, 200 phone calls, you know, hundreds of emails.

CUOMO: So, literally hundreds of different types of contacts.

DAVIDSON: I can tell you that I - I provided roughly 1,500 pages to the Southern District of New York.

CUOMO: All right, so, now, you didn't deal directly with the President.

DAVIDSON: No, never. The only one I've ever dealt with, Chris, in the - anywhere in the Trump orbit was Michael Cohen and only Michael Cohen.

CUOMO: Now, one of the things that I'm hoping you can help us establish, you've done lots of deals like this.


CUOMO: And you were dealing with the attorney. But--


CUOMO: --what was your sense of the role and the awareness and the intentions of the principal, in this case, then Donald J. Trump, candidate? Do you think that this was Cohen freelancing?

DAVIDSON: You know, I don't - I don't know directly.

But what I can infer from - from my interactions with him in the 150, 200 phone calls, and emails, and texts, and everything else, I was never once left with the impression that Michael Cohen had independent authority to act and make decisions.

CUOMO: Meaning that you would say to him, "Well, look, here's the number." He never said, "Good, we're done. You know, I'm sending the paper." It was always "Let me get back to you."


CUOMO: And you inferred, well he's going back to somebody.

DAVIDSON: It was that that he was going back to somebody to - to seek authority for whatever it was that we were discussing. And the second thing is that he told me repeatedly, really, ad nauseam that he answered only to Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Now, the reason I ask--

DAVIDSON: Those - those two things, Chris, I think, it's a clear inference that - that--

CUOMO: Well, sure. And we had proof of it. You know, we got on this show a tape, I'll just remind people of, and I want your sense of when you heard this tape, did it jive with how you thought the relationship was working on the other side of the transaction.

Here is the President and his attorney about a deal with you.


MICHAEL DEAN COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: And I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with--

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: --funding. Yes. Um, and it's all the stuff--

TRUMP: Yes, I figured (ph).

COHEN: --all the stuff.


CUOMO: Now, people didn't understand what this meant. And then, over time, what we've been able to--


CUOMO: --piece together is you were not the only lawyer. You were not the only person representing people of interest to then John - Donald Trump, now, President Trump.


CUOMO: And that there they were trying to put together a transaction to get all the stuff from AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer just in case David Pecker took another job or left this trove--

DAVIDSON: Or get hit by a bus.

CUOMO: --or, God forbid. But--


CUOMO: --that something happened to him--


CUOMO: --we need this stuff. Did you understand the concern to be the same?

DAVIDSON: I'm not sure I understand your question.

CUOMO: That they - they were in the business of trying to silence these things, that this wasn't the first time that they had ever done it. They knew how to do this.

[21:05:00] DAVIDSON: Oh, they knew how to do it. They - they knew how to do it.

I think there's a long history. I think it's, you know, well-known that there's a long history of Donald Trump and people around him entering into non-disclosure agreements with aggrieved parties.

CUOMO: Now, another key element here is--


CUOMO: --why it happened, when it happened--


CUOMO: --OK? The good version of this for the President is it was on you. It was on you and your clients.

You knew that now is the time to strike because he was in a campaign, and you were going after him, and he had to cover it up personally. He didn't want his wife to know. What was behind the timing, from your perspective?

DAVIDSON: I - I think what you're really talking about, Chris, is - is sort of a John Edwards defense. And why that fails is because, in essence, the - the affair happened in 2006. So, we have to look at the timeline.

CUOMO: Which one? DAVIDSON: The--

CUOMO: Was it Stormy Daniels or the Karen McDougal?

DAVIDSON: They're - both. Right, yes.


DAVIDSON: OK? So, the affair, let's talk about Stormy Daniels though. It's been publicly reported that the affair happened in 2006.

In 2011 was my very first interaction, and it was through a phone call with Michael Cohen, and that was because a website called had published a - a - a small piece on the blog that reported Donald Trump having an affair with Stormy Daniels. So--

CUOMO: He called you?

DAVIDSON: --he called my client. And--


DAVIDSON: Stormy Daniels' then-manager, and berated her. I returned that call on behalf of my client. He left a message, didn't get through to her. I returned that call on behalf of my client.

And as soon as I - he - he picked up the phone in the other end, he jumped down my throat, and was extremely aggressive on the call. So, the - the - the time - that's important because the timeline happened, 2011. They knew that that the story was out there.

CUOMO: Why didn't it get done?

DAVIDSON: There was no interest, zero interest. They knew about it in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. They knew about it when - when he announced to be - to be President in 2000 - to his campaign in 2016.

They knew about it when he became the Republican nominee. They did nothing to settle the case. They knew about it, you know, well into September.

And it wasn't until, and what in all of my hours in sitting down with the Southern District of - of New York, and when everybody I see is reporting on this story for the last year, the one thing that people are missing is you cannot talk about the Stormy Daniels payment without talking about the Access Hollywood tape.

And it was--


DAVIDSON: Because it was the Access Hollywood tape, the Stormy Daniels' settlement came a day or two after the Access Hollywood tape aired, and there was very little to no interest for the years preceding Access Hollywood to resolve this case in any way, shape or form. And it wasn't until immediately after the Access Hollywood tape that the - there was a rush and - and - to settle this case.

CUOMO: A rush - now, let - let's be fair on why.

Was it a rush because Stormy Daniels, or you, said, "Oh, now there's an opportunity. Now, they're going to have to worry about these types of stories. Let's go back to them right now and see what they want to do."

Did your side motivate the urgency?

DAVIDSON: No. Because if you recall, Chris, it's been publicly reported, that there was actually two settlement agreements. One was executed in, I think, early October, I recall, and Michael Cohen did not pay. There was no funding on that first deal.

I think that's, again, very strong evidence that the Southern District of New York relied upon in their prosecution of Michael Cohen.

CUOMO: Why didn't they pay?

DAVIDSON: There was all kinds of reasons that were given to me, and excuses. There was a lack of trust between them. And the fact of the matter is they didn't pay.

They missed the deadline to pay, and we cancelled that settlement agreement. And then, there was a gap in time where nothing happened. And it wasn't until the day after Access Hollywood that the case ultimately did resolve.

CUOMO: And when that Access Hollywood came out, who called whom to say it's time to - to finish this? Did you call him and say, "Do you want to pay me now?" Or did he call you?

DAVIDSON: He called me.

CUOMO: And he said, "We want to get rid of this now."


CUOMO: And did you get the sense that this was just something that occurred to him or that there was planning going on, on the other side of the situation?

DAVIDSON: You know, I don't know the answer to that question. But, again, I was left then and now with the distinct feeling and impression that Michael Cohen did very little on his own.

CUOMO: Did you suspect at the time, "Hey, this could be a campaign finance violation. They shouldn't be doing this?"

DAVIDSON: You know, I - in - in my role as an attorney representing my client, I try - I stay in my lane. I had a goal to accomplish with my client. I believe that two consenting adults have a right to contract in any

way they - they see fit. Their motivation to settle this claim was really not my concern. And I never really went there.

CUOMO: You did have a conversation though with Michael Cohen where him getting paid back for the money that was put out was a concern, and that's relevant to people because why was he getting paid back, you know.


[21:10:00] CUOMO: Why wasn't the check just coming from somewhere else? What was your understanding? What was his apparent frustration from your perspective?

DAVIDSON: Well there - this is at a period of time after the election but before the inauguration that there was a - and it was once Cohen realized that he wasn't going to Washington.

And when that happened, he was despondent. He complained to me several times about that. And he was a--

CUOMO: To a lawyer he was doing a deal with, he talked about whether or not he was going to go work in the White House?


CUOMO: Now, he, you know, his people, obviously, Michael Cohen, when he talks about this, he says the opposite. He says he never wanted to go to Washington. He couldn't go to Washington, he says.


CUOMO: That he had to convince the President, "Look, I know you need me. I have to stay on the outside because we won't have the same privileged relationship if we go in." You're saying, "Not true."

DAVIDSON: I think--

CUOMO: It could both be true?

DAVIDSON: I think it could both be true. There's two different time periods.

That time after the election but before the inauguration, it was clear that he was despondent, I would say, heartbroken, that he wasn't going to Washington. He was extremely animated about that.

Then there was a time, much later, in the, you know, the early months of 2018, where he said that he had the perfect job. He loved being independent or a Personal Counsel to the President of the United States.

CUOMO: Did you make any contemporaneous record of those conversations where he said he didn't want to go to Washington? Why would I ask something like that? Because now it's material to whether or not he was telling the truth to Congress.


CUOMO: Did - other than your recollection, was there anything recorded contemporaneously at the same time?

DAVIDSON: No, no. But I - I have under, you know, penalty of a 1001 violation, I've sat down with federal agents, and I told them exactly what I just told you.

CUOMO: But you have no independent proof of it from your own word?

DAVIDSON: That's correct.

CUOMO: All right. And not to impugn your credibility but you're--


CUOMO: --you're - you're only as good as what you can show very often in these situations.


CUOMO: That's why I asked. So when--

DAVIDSON: But I - I - I'm sorry to interrupt, Chris.

CUOMO: Go ahead, please.

DAVIDSON: But if we - we go back, I - I said there were - they could both be true.

Then there was a period in 2018 where he loved it because his - when he reported to me that his consulting business was - was fantastic, and things were extremely good for him on the professional side, and he was very glad that he wasn't in Washington, and - and handcuffed by federal salaries.

CUOMO: So, there are a few more things--


CUOMO: --that we have to cover about this.

One of them that I want your take on is one of the big moments in this was the intrigue side was when Stormy Daniels said that somebody came up to her and physically made a threat.


CUOMO: This wasn't when you were Counsel. This was when in the latest iteration of Stormy Daniels, obviously--


CUOMO: --Counselor Michael Avenatti. You know things about this. I want to ask you because, again, this is all about figuring out what do we know is true. Stick around one more block?

DAVIDSON: Yes, thank you.

CUOMO: All right, appreciate it.

So, there is more to know. And, again, you can't get closer to the deal than the man who made them, all right? We're going to dig in with Keith Davidson and get the answers that we can, next.








[21:15:00] CUOMO: All right, we're back with one of the central figures in the President's hush-money deals, former attorney for Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels, and others, Keith Davidson, thank you for staying another block.


CUOMO: We were talking in here about what's the truth versus the stories that are just out there. And I asked you about campaign finance. You said, "It's not where my head was. I was trying to get the deal done."

However, was there ever - any discussion ever with Cohen about the sensitivity to the campaign, and what this would mean for the campaign, and how to get it done? Because you talk to somebody that much, it's going to start to bleed into just a rapport with the guy.

Was that part of the dialog?

DAVIDSON: No, no, it wasn't. And I think, you know, that - that tape, the audio tape that you played at the beginning of the show, I - I think, you know, you have to understand, you know, who Michael Cohen is and - and he's a pro.

He's been doing it for a long time. He - I think he's very good at staying in his lane. And I think that, you know, listening to that audio tape, you know, this is a guy who - who knows what not to say.

CUOMO: True. But you don't remember him saying to you, "Listen, I got to get this done. You're going to, you know, this is going to sabotage the - the candidate. We don't want to sabotage the candidate," nothing like that?

DAVIDSON: Nothing.

CUOMO: All right, now, that's relevant because the argument is they all knew what they were doing for the campaign. Interesting! He didn't have to tell you. He had no duty to disclose. It would be a little dumb to do so. But I just wanted to know.

However, however, being paid back wound up being something that bled into your conversations with him.


CUOMO: The HELOC, how he paid that it was coming from him, not from anybody else, that was never discussed.

DAVIDSON: Correct - never.

CUOMO: But eventually, you did get some conversation about the payment to you, and where it came from, because reimbursement wound up coming up. How so?

DAVIDSON: Yes. It was in that period that we previously discussed in between the election, after the election, but before the inauguration, when he reached out to me in - in that despondent state, and stated, "Can you believe after everything I've done, after everything I've done for that SOB that I'm not going to Washington, and he didn't even pay me back?"

CUOMO: And when he said he didn't even pay me back, did you say "Pay you back for what?"


CUOMO: Like did you know what he was talking about?

DAVIDSON: Well, yes. I - I knew he was talking about Stormy Daniels.

CUOMO: And then, did he tell you, "I paid that money, not him?"

DAVIDSON: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: And what did you think of that?

DAVIDSON: I - I didn't know. I didn't know what to make of that. I - I thought that he was probably a very good soldier.

CUOMO: But what sense - because, usually, the principal pays, let alone when it's a billionaire, an alleged billionaire, right?

DAVIDSON: Yes, right.

CUOMO: At the time you just thought, "Well this is the way they handle things."


CUOMO: Or did it to you speak to a secrecy? DAVIDSON: Well I thought - no, it didn't speak to secrecy. What it spoke to me have I - you know, they had a very unique relationship.

He was - I - at that time, from the little bit I know, he had one client, the Trump Organization, and he was, in essence, General Counsel for - for that organization. And it, to me, it spoke to their level of closeness.

CUOMO: What's your sense on the who knew? We know now that Michael Cohen says, and on the tape you hear, Allen Weisselberg, I'm working with other people in the office, that was about the whole basket of transactions--


CUOMO: --all the stuff, as they call it, with AMI. But to your knowledge, did people at the Trump Organization know what he was doing with you?

DAVIDSON: Not to my knowledge. Again--

CUOMO: You never heard the name Weisselberg?

DAVIDSON: Never. No.

CUOMO: Or anybody else at the Trump Organization? It was always just Cohen talking about Cohen?

DAVIDSON: Exactly. Or about, you know, the big guy, the boss, but never in terms of knowledge or anything like that. Again, I think he's a pro at staying in his lane.

CUOMO: Credibility counts.


CUOMO: Yours as well.


CUOMO: You've gotten a stink on you here.


CUOMO: Davidson, what is he doing representing? Why are you representing all these people anyway?

DAVIDSON: Right, yes.

CUOMO: How do you represent Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal--


CUOMO: --somebody else--

DAVIDSON: Yes. CUOMO: --who made allegations about the President.


CUOMO: You know, why? Why do you wind up representing all these people?

DAVIDSON: You know, I've developed a niche practice, a niche practice in - in Los Angeles. And a lot of these cases come to me.

In fact, these two cases, it's been publicly reported, came to me from two completely different sources, former clients that - that knew Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and they were referred to me by two independent sources.

CUOMO: You got a problem with Trump? You out to get Trump?

DAVIDSON: No, I'm not out to get him, and not - not out to hurt him. I mean I'm the son of a fireman from - from the Northeast. I'm a - I'm a Democrat.

[21:20:00] So, the - the narrative that's been out there that - that I was somehow working in coordination, in - in cohorts with Trump and colluding to round up all his dirty laundry, it's just - it could not be further from the truth. They--

CUOMO: Stormy Daniels says you took some of her money. It's not the first time an allegation like that--


CUOMO: --has been made against you. How do you defend yourself against charges that, you know, you put yourself first--


CUOMO: --before your clients.

DAVIDSON: That didn't happen. I have no idea what - what she's talking about, just didn't happen. Truth matters.

CUOMO: The idea you - so you never took her money?


CUOMO: You never took more than she was supposed to get?


CUOMO: Did you talk to her about that allegation? It came from her.


CUOMO: Why not?

DAVIDSON: Well, she never brought it up to me. She never - no one has ever addressed me. There's - there's current litigation. That - that's nowhere in the litigation.

So, I - I really have no comment, no understanding of what that -- where that comes from at all.

CUOMO: Why would those clients fire you?

DAVIDSON: Well I - I think--

CUOMO: If you did nothing wrong?

DAVIDSON: Well I think you're assuming that I was fired too.

CUOMO: OK. Fair point.


CUOMO: Were you or not?

DAVIDSON: It - we - there was a drifting apart. But it was never an actual firing. And I - when Stormy Daniels, for example, there was a - a change, right? I negotiated a deal. And I had an inherent conflict.

I can't negotiate a deal, draft a contract, and then properly serve her if she wants out of the deal because she would lose certain legal arguments.

CUOMO: Explain that to me. I don't understand.

DAVIDSON: Well, for example--

CUOMO: She want you - you draft a deal. She says, "I want to get away."


CUOMO: So what?

DAVIDSON: Right. Well there's - there's certain arguments that - that someone can make in - in a contract like there wasn't a meeting of the minds that it wasn't well explained to me--

CUOMO: Right.

DAVIDSON: --that, you know, this or that happened. If - if I was the lawyer who I've - I've now become a witness in a case, and I - I couldn't represent her to get out of the contract.

CUOMO: Now, in terms of your credibility as a function of her credibility, is it true--


CUOMO: --that the allegation that someone came up on her in a parking lot, it's something that you have knowledge of, and that you know it was made up, just to create attention? DAVIDSON: You know, I - I have no knowledge of anything. And - and I can tell you this, Chris, that there is still and will be, for the rest of my days, attorney-client privilege that - that has not been waived. And - and I'm not--

CUOMO: I understand that.

DAVIDSON: --and I can't get into either what was told to me or what wasn't told to me.

CUOMO: Can you stand by the credibility of that allegation?

DAVIDSON: I - I just can't comment on it, Chris. I have - I - I just can't.

CUOMO: Do you think that proof may come out that you knew about it? And while you can't talk about it that it wasn't what they said it was?

DAVIDSON: I mean I think it's a nice try, you know, but respectfully, I - I just can't answer that question. I can't confirm or deny what was either told to me or what wasn't told to me.

CUOMO: And just to bring us back to where we started, you have dealt with some shady types in doing these kinds of deals. But you've never been through anything like this. What have you learned--


CUOMO: --from this experience?

DAVIDSON: It's been - it's been a heck of a year. And, you know, the - the interesting thing too with these deals is that they're all negotiated previous - prior to the #MeToo movement. And they were, you know, commonplace.

And I've negotiated hundreds of deals like this. But - but to - to come in, analyze something that was done prior to #MeToo and then post #MeToo, I think it's just a very interesting--

CUOMO: Except the two that we know of aren't #MeToo at all.


CUOMO: Right? I mean these were consenting individuals who wound up wanting to get paid to keep it quiet, not who allege abuse at the hand of the man involved.

DAVIDSON: Fair. Right. That is fair. But it does involve non- disclosure agreements, was - which was a huge argument in the #MeToo movement.

CUOMO: A 100 percent.


CUOMO: That is true.


CUOMO: Women, anybody, should not be silenced just for money when they have legitimate grievances of criminal nature. That's something we talk about.

Keith Davidson, I appreciate your insight on these things.

DAVIDSON: Yes, thank you.

CUOMO: It's helpful to try and get the audience, all of us, just to figure out what do we believe, what do we not believe. Thank you very much.

DAVIDSON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so, look, here becomes the big question. You have two different types of accountability that will come up because of this.

Michael Cohen is going to jail in part because of his role in these payments. What legal exposure is there for the President? What political exposure is there? Because, remember, everything Davidson just told you, he told the Feds. So, we're going to take it to Cuomo's Court.

Plus, some news on the political threat to President Trump, you're not going to want to miss, next.








CUOMO: A personal payment to the extent that he even knew about it. That's what the President wants you to believe when it comes to paying off Daniels and McDougal.

But yet, another party directly involved in those payments is saying the opposite. Did anything that we heard from Davidson change the equation, not just so much for us, but for the people doing the investigating because they know this already?

It's new information to us. "He spoke to Cohen 200 times. Wow! We didn't know it." But they did. So, let's bring Cuomo's Court in session, Asha Rangappa and Ken Cuccinelli. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



CUOMO: Asha, what stood out to you in terms of that reckoning from the attorney who was part of the transaction?


We've been hearing for a while that, you know, the motivation for paying Stormy was not to influence the campaign or to help the campaign, it was to avoid personal embarrassment.

On that front, I just want to point out that Rudy Giuliani is stating the law incorrectly. It does not have to be the only reason. It just has to be--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --a reason.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: But he keeps saying that. But anyway--

CUOMO: That came up in the Edwards case, by the way. People can Google that. If they want to figure it out for themselves, now, Edwards was acquitted. But what you'll see in that Judge - now, Ken can argue--


CUOMO: --well and he has before, "Who - who says that's precedent?"

You know, the guy winds up getting acquitted, and the Judge in the case says, "It doesn't have to be the main reason. It doesn't have to be the only reason. It just has to be a reason that you did it for the campaign." Continue.

RANGAPPA: Yes. And, so, you know, the Access Hollywood tape being the precipitating factor after they - after this affair happened 10 years before, after they knew it could have come out five years before, but did nothing about it, that adds to - to the motivation here.

And I just want to add like as another piece of this puzzle that, you know, is - is related peripherally, that is also the day that Wiki - the Access Hollywood tape the day that WikiLeaks released its dump of DNC emails.

CUOMO: True.

RANGAPPA: So, you know-- CUOMO: Coincidence. But not - not true.

RANGAPPA: --coincidence or not.

CUOMO: Certainly a coincidence. They happened at the same time.

RANGAPPA: But I'm just pointing out that--

CUOMO: But we don't know that they have anything to do with--

RANGAPPA: An hour later--

CUOMO: --certainly has (ph) nothing to do with it.

RANGAPPA: --an hour later.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: But - but the point is, is that this, you know, changes the focus, and it does benefit the campaign.

You can see that there is a - a clear benefit, and also just because Ken isn't going to let me speak, if I - if I turn over the mic one more thing, which is that we knew when Mueller indicted--

CUOMO: He's being very patient. Being very patient.

RANGAPPA: --when we knew - we knew when Mueller indicted Cohen that he had the receipts. He had corroborating--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --evidence. They were not going to rely only on Michael Cohen.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And I think here, what we're seeing is an independent corroborator of what Michael Cohen was telling them.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, look, you know, Ken, they had the guy for 20 hours on the Southern District. The only thing you have to give Davidson on the issue that we're talking about here is when did this deal become real for Cohen/Trump, is why would he lie?

You know, I mean it doesn't matter to him if he - if the Access Hollywood tape came up and Davidson picked up the phone and called Cohen--


CUOMO: --and said, "You better pay me now because now I know you need it," no harm, no foul, that's his job.

[21:30:00] So, assuming that he's telling the truth that they called him and said, "Hey, it's time to get this done. We can't have any more information like this. We're too close to the end," what does that mean to you?

CUCCINELLI: Well, certainly, the - the pressure spike at the Access Hollywood day was like nothing I've ever seen in a Presidential campaign. It was massive. And they certainly didn't want more information coming out.

I actually think the most striking thing listening to Mr. Davidson is here's a guy who frankly caught negative attacks from one of his clients afterwards, and yet, he sat there and he denied you any hint of his impressions. He protected his attorney-client privilege even with a client who's given him a lot of hassle.

You compare that to Michael Cohen with President Trump and the quality of respecting the obligations of the attorney is much higher with Mr. Davidson than it was from Michael Cohen.

We just heard it here tonight. I - I - I was favorably impressed by that.

CUOMO: Well, one of them also accepted--

CUCCINELLI: I do think that--

CUOMO: --responsibility to go to jail, and then decided, you know, to turn over all the information they had, and to tell a whole new story. I mean, you know, you got to take everybody and that - that - that whole sense of who they are, not just part of it.

But character analysis aside, Ken, if they came to him--

CUCCINELLI: Yes, I think we're agreeing.

CUOMO: --because of the Access Hollywood tape, and they wanted to get this deal done because they had an outstanding contract with him that they never paid on, does that connect the President to a felony?

CUCCINELLI: I don't think any more than it did before. I think everybody knew. And I certainly have said on your show that the - the President was trying to avoid this information coming out. It was personally embarrassing.

It's not - it wasn't the first time he had broached the subject. But the pressure in his life had never been higher.

CUOMO: Right. But it would have always been embarrassing.

CUCCINELLI: The scrutiny had never been higher.

CUOMO: It would have been embarrassing since 2011.

CUCCINELLI: Of course.

CUOMO: He never did anything about it--

CUCCINELLI: Of course.

CUOMO: --until that pivot point in his election which wound up not mattering either way - anyway.

But, Asha, let me ask you this before we're out of time - time here. One thing that we keep leaving out because of this new and very low level of responsibility by anybody, let alone elected officials, is the President lied about this persistently.

And doesn't that have to matter on some level?

RANGAPPA: I think this matters at just a basic transparency and accountability level.

I mean, look, the purpose of campaign finance laws is to promote transparency, to allow, you know, the voting public to understand where the money that is supporting their candidates are coming from.

So, he not only concealed that. He then went in front of cameras and said that he had no idea whether this was paid. It wasn't paid from his own money. That was a lie.

And we know in so many other areas he was lying also about his business deal in Moscow, while he's promoting good relations with Russia. This is not allowing, you know, the public to make an informed choice, and it's really undermining people's, you know, exercise of - of their vote.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: So, I think as just a basic democratic principle it matters.

CUOMO: Well, look, I'm - I'm only saying it. Forget about character and all that. I'm just saying, as a sitting President, he still kept lying about this.

And by doing that, it's interesting if it'll make its way into any type of analysis of a pattern of behavior by a President with respect to ongoing matters that are being investigated.

Ken, appreciate the analysis as always. Asha, thank you.

All right, so, question everyone is asking. These planes, five months apart, same plane, both go down, they're new. Is this about the plane? Should we have them grounded here in the United States? They're doing it in China.

We have a man who knows the ins and outs of aviation safety. He's going to tell you something that's going to surprise you, next.







CUOMO: So tonight, Boeing is insisting that its 737 MAX 8, and that matters, all of that, right, because they're different versions of that 737, you can't put them all in the same basket, but they're saying the one that just crashed is a safe airplane.

Ethiopia's crashed, there, 157 people on board, all gone. The flight data recorders have been recovered. But we don't know what made that plane fall out of the sky, comes just five months after this same model of this new plane crashed.

Boeing says it's working on a software update to make an already safe aircraft even safer.

Several carriers around the world have grounded the Jets. So, obviously, people who have a degree of sophistication here have concern, all right? Two governments have done the same thing, not this one.

Let's bring in Jeff Guzzetti, former FAA Director of Accident Investigation. Jeff, thank you.


CUOMO: All right, panic, fear, five months, two airplanes, same type, both new, must be the airplane. Can you endorse that speculation at this point?

GUZZETTI: No, I can't endorse that at all. You know, just because you have two data points that are five months apart doesn't mean there's a straight line between the two of them. There really isn't nearly enough known about the Ethiopian accident.

And, in fact, there really isn't enough known yet about the Lion Air accident. So, it's way too early.

CUOMO: So, why are the carriers, why are two governments taking an action that you say is too early?

GUZZETTI: You know, I - I can't speak for those governments. I can only speak for the United States. And it's - this airplane was certified in the United States. It's been flying, basically, the basic certification model for - for six decades. And--

CUOMO: Well, help me understand that, Jeff because that's a - that's an important distinction.

So, the United States is different, in that, it doesn't just have the airplanes within its carrier fleet for different private organizations or even state-run organizations. You're saying - when - when you say they certify the airplane, not everybody does that, what does that mean and what does that give you in terms of comfort?

GUZZETTI: Well, so, the Federal Aviation Administration certified the Boeing 737 basis, certified the basic airplane back in the early 60s.


GUZZETTI: And Boeing has upgraded it periodically with engines, with glass cockpit, with technology.

CUOMO: Have they certified the MAX 8, the one that went down?

GUZZETTI: Yes, they have. But they certified it basically under the same certification basis. But because it had newer engines that were slung a little bit differently on the wings, and upgraded cockpit, those differences were taken into account.

CUOMO: So, you--

GUZZETTI: But, yes, it's a certified aircraft.

CUOMO: So, you're saying that you want to know more about the pilots involved and less about the plane. Why are you curious about the pilots involved?

GUZZETTI: Well, Chris, I want to know about a lot of different things, not just the pilots.

I want to know about the mechanics, how was this airplane maintained. In order to find out how an airplane died, you have to find out how it lived, and who touched it, and who flew it, and who put a wrench to it.

[21:40:00] And I'm not saying that the - the design is off the table here in terms of being culpable. But I'm saying that it's - investigators look at everything. They look at the man, the machine, and the environment that the airplane flew in before it had the accident.

CUOMO: And you're saying at least one of the pilots involved, you see some concern about what their credentials were?

GUZZETTI: Well, from - from what I've heard in the press, the First Officer had 200 hours of flight time, and that is pretty low for an airline pilot. Now, the Captain was very experienced, and the airline itself has a very good reputation.

But that is one thing that I picked up in the press that--


GUZZETTI: --I thought was a - a bit unusual.

CUOMO: Boeing saying that they're upgrading the software. Now, that's something that they didn't have to say. What does it mean that they're disclosing that? GUZZETTI: Well that's interesting. It's that upgrade announcement, I guess, you know, Boeing talked about that after the Lion Air accident, because in the Lion Air accident this - this MCAS system, which is a software change to the older 737s, is a - is a point of interest in that Indonesian accident.

So, given that the second accident occurred with the same model, Boeing and the FAA, I guess, felt compelled to say, "Well, you know, we're - we're not ignoring the issue. It's a safe airplane. And, in fact, we're learning from the first Indonesian accident, from five months ago, and we're already enhancing the safety to - to shore that up in case it had anything to do with that accident."

CUOMO: Little suspicious, obviously. You know, you say you're upgrading something, the planes falling out of the sky, you got to wonder why they want to upgrade that. The idea of the black box and answers, when do you think we'll know?

GUZZETTI: Well, presumably, the reports are that they've located both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, which is good news. That helps accelerate solving the accident.

CUOMO: Right.

GUZZETTI: It depends on what shape they're in, and where they decide to send those recorders for the--

CUOMO: Right.

GUZZETTI: --very methodical download of the data. It - all things being equal with - with no real destruction or damage, probably within the next 24 to 48 hours, investigators should have a clue--

CUOMO: Good.

GUZZETTI: --about what happened.

CUOMO: Good. And, look, forgive the lack of sophistication in this last question.

But this is a time of year where people are flying. They're taking their families. If they hear that they're going to be on a 737 MAX 8, should they stay home?

GUZZETTI: I wouldn't stay home. I think until the - the federal government says there's something unsafe about it, I think the - the - the - the flying public should have confidence in it.

CUOMO: All right, listen, Mr. Guzzetti, you did the job. That's why we wanted you on the show tonight. Thank you very much. As we get more information, please come back and help us if more data points, give us a different thru-thread (ph) for you, OK?

GUZZETTI: Will do, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well. President Trump spent his Sunday on the Links. Surprise! Surprise!

We've never had a President golf as much as he does. And the only reason it matters is because of how he bashed President Obama in saying, he'll be too busy to golf. Nobody's ever golfed more.

But, but there is something that we have to tell you about, about the President's golf that doesn't surprise me at all. But D. Lemon, he's tickled. We'll tee it up, next.








CUOMO: All right, we all know how much this President loves golf. I have no problem with that. I mean the hypocrisy of him saying, he'd be too busy to play, and play more than anyone ever, that's a little something.

But while I often hear stories about this President's integrity, or lack thereof, on the course, people say he is damn good at the game. In fact, he wins tournaments.

He has gold plaques that commemorate his triumphs on one of his club walls, '99, 2001, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2018, wait, 2018? He didn't play in the tournament last year. So, what gives?

Turns out the President won the title in a gamble, a reported nine- hole winner-takes-the-title challenge against the real winner. The President was so proud of it, it seems, that he added the plaque to his championship roll.

Not a big deal, but indicative of the man that we call our President. D. Lemon, did he earn the title?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Yes, the same way he earned the Time Magazine thing, the fake one.

CUOMO: You know, the truth is often good enough. He won all those championships. Why lie? You're already good. I don't get it.

LEMON: Chris, we've had this conversation. We've - the good thing, look, I don't know. But I do know I'll be honest. I do know some of his friends who have played golf with him--

CUOMO: Yes. LEMON: --and he says he doesn't cheat. They say something different.

CUOMO: Yes, no, I've heard many people say that he cheats--

LEMON: That's all I will say.

CUOMO: --when he plays. But I've never had anybody--

LEMON: My God.

CUOMO: --tell me he can't hit the ball.

LEMON: Oh, no--

CUOMO: And that he doesn't score well. They all say, he plays to a low handicap. He's consistently good. But he also lies. I mean he just lies when you don't even need to.

LEMON: Well, I mean, it's consistent in his personality, Chris. I mean he's--


LEMON: --he lies about everything. I - I told - he cannot help himself. It's his own reality.

And we were trying to figure out, when we were talking about this, the guys in the studio said it was Happy Gilmore with the golf game because it was the boss, and they had to.

But there was another movie--

CUOMO: The Adam Sandler movie--

LEMON: --with that - but that (ph)--

CUOMO: --is what you guys are talking about?

LEMON: No. There was another movie where there - there was like a--

CUOMO: Caddyshack?

LEMON: --an office tournament.

No. And they were like doing like sack races and whatever. And at the end, they're like, "What are you doing? You can't beat the boss," and they tackled him at the end to throw it to the boss.

CUOMO: Definitely not Caddyshack.

LEMON: I think that happens - that happened a lot here.

CUOMO: I love Ted Knight at the end of Caddyshack. There's so many great lines and and--

LEMON: So-- CUOMO: --and a great gopher. But I love when he says, "Well, we're waiting." When he says (ph). What a great movie.

LEMON: I'm looking for something that is on my - that someone sent to me about you.

CUOMO: Uh-oh.

LEMON: And - no, no, no. It says - it's - it's not bad. It said where - where does it say? Oh, "Glad to have you back. Chris C doesn't quite work without you."

CUOMO: I said is it - it must be bad. You said, "No." And that's good?

[21:50:00] LEMON: They were joking. They were - they were joking.

CUOMO: Well, it certainly made you laugh.

LEMON: The - I said it was - it was a joke.

CUOMO: Well, I definitely missed you. And I do love working with you.

LEMON: I know. I missed you too. And that's all people have said, "I - get back. I - I, you know, I miss the chemistry between you and Chris. Chris is holding it down. It's good that he's there but you got to come back, you got to come back."

CUOMO: I love seeing you live your best life and seeing all the creative ways that you could use the dogs to hide your body.

LEMON: Oh, no. I - listen, OK, so you didn't have a point until about a week ago. I ate my way through vacation. It was so good.

CUOMO: No, you look good.

LEMON: But, speaking of, now that I'm back, so you know this - this R. Kelly thing went down.


LEMON: Yes. So, you know the guy in the video where he stands up, and he, you know, he starts to - to yell and whatever, and the guy walks in, his Crisis Manager, Darrell Johnson?


LEMON: Darrell Johnson is on tonight.

CUOMO: Great guest.

LEMON: He's going to talk to us about what happened in that interview. And also, there is some new news in the R. Kelly story that he just gave to us, and then he's going to give to us during this interview.

CUOMO: Oh, very, very good. Oh--

LEMON: Yes, so see you in a little bit.

CUOMO: It is must-see TV. D. Lemon--

LEMON: Yes, look at that.

CUOMO: --see you in a second.

LEMON: Look at that.

CUOMO: What is that? What did he show?

LEMON: That - that's my muscles.


LEMON: That's my vacation muscles right there.

CUOMO: I got some calamine lotion for that. Take care of him (ph).

I stung see (ph) his big head wobble. All right--

LEMON: You are. You know what, see you.

CUOMO: --yes, yes. All right, can't even see his ears.

All right, so some of the biggest stars over at state TV are taking another page right out of this President's playbook. I know it's a shocker. They just can't say they're sorry tonight.

Here's what I don't get. Why would you ever expect the Trump Train to want to take any blame? I have an argument for you that's so simple, anybody can make, next.








CUOMO: So, when the President started with the fake news BS, I knew it was going to have an impact. This President has a keen ear for what to say to play on people's fears, to stoke anger. And people are very suspicious of many things, including the media.

So, I went out against it early. It was so damaging, so ugly, and intentional, such a slur, I said it was like the N-word for journalists. Wrong! After I said it, family and friends started calling, reminding me of

what I knew and screwed up. The N-word carries a legacy of violence and murder and prejudice that is so profound in disrespect that being called fake could never carry that.

What I said was wrong and hurtful. And if I knew that, I should own it and apologize. I didn't hesitate.

I apologized because my intention was to protect something that mattered, and this did the opposite. But I didn't want to disparage African-Americans with a legacy of slavery, the opposite of anything. I didn't want to increase any divide.

So, that takes me to what's going on right now in the media chasing after Tucker Carlson and Pirro, the latest provocateurs on the Trump Train over at state TV. They should apologize for what they said about every minority group they could target, collectively, though Carlson is the main mouth.

Apologize? What, are you kidding? They're not going to apologize. Stop asking.

They want to press the divide. They want to attack what most want to protect. And, ironically, you give them attention for doing something wrong, and they use that attention to say it more and, ironically, use your negative attention to play the victim.

Big boy will say "The Left is coming at me. It isn't nice." At the same time, he would strip away the sensitivity toward those who are actually victimized. Hypocrisy often goes hand in hand with harshness. Few bullies can withstand what they dish out to others.

Listen to what Carlson says.

He would vote for a Presidential candidate who said "It's these lunatic Muslims who are behaving like animals, and I'm going to kill as many of them as I can if you elect me." "Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semi-literate primitive monkeys." "The Congressional Black Caucus exists to blame the White man for everything."

He said this about a TV host. "She seems extremely C-wordy." He didn't say that. He said the actual word.

As for Jeanine Pirro, here's a taste.


JEANINE FERRIS PIRRO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S JUSTICE WITH JUDGE JEANINE HOST, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER JUDGE: Which according to the Koran 33:59, tells women to cover so they won't get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Look, you know what they're doing. This BS is currency for them. They get paid for this. The base likes their heroes to be base.

They've seen this President make it to the White House in part by doing the same thing. Now, a lot of this stuff that's coming up, at least about Carlson is from years ago, when he was desperate for attention.

Here's the test. Would he say the same things today? No, no, he's too busy playing the victim. He'd only say that he was naughty, but he wouldn't repeat them tonight. Why not?

Come on, Big Man. Read the list of all the things that you said, and do it again, and show that you mean it. Come on! You're not more about the money now than you are about the truth, are you?

He says apologizing to the mob costs people their jobs. What a coward! Why don't you repeat what you said if it's not such a big deal? You're not going to apologize. He's being treated unfairly by those criticizing the same. Give me a break!

See this guy and the others for what they are. If you mean it, own it. Don't just protect your money and your fame, or infamy, in your case. Apologize if you want, but that takes character. That is strength. That is integrity. Own that you did something wrong.

People who just say ugly things to get attention and jump up and down on the fault lines in our society, you don't have any of these virtues. You are a victim though, not of others, of yourself. Know that.

Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight With D. Lemon starts right now.

And I must say you were one of my friends who said, "N-word? Fake? Wrong. Correct it."

LEMON: You remember that?

CUOMO: And I did.

LEMON: You remember that conversation?

CUOMO: A 100 percent. And you told me the right advice.


CUOMO: Because you cared about me and you cared about me setting it straight, so I did exactly that because I cared about the impact.