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CNN RIGHT NOW
Michael Cohen Search Documents Indicate Trump & Hope Hicks Played Role in Stormy Daniels' Hush Money Payments; Tonight on CNN: Life Drawing for Democratic Debate Lineup; House Passes $15 Minimum Wage Bill, Expected to Stall in Senate; Trump Disavows "Send Her Back" Chants Despite Remaining Silent & Starting Racist Attacks with "Go Back" Tweets. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 18, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: By contrast, the FBI affidavit said that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump had spoken maybe once a month the previous several months before that.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So knowing this, because one of the questions, Joseph, has been, what does this mean for Donald Trump? He's was this unindicted co-conspirator. Is there some culpability for him? Now that we have these search materials because the investigation's been closed, what's the answer?
JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. So we've known for a long time that there were campaign finance violations. That's part of the reason Michael Cohen is sitting in jail.
We knew Donald Trump knew about these payments. They were done at his direction. This fills in the gaps a little more about what he knew, how much he knew, and when he knew it.
The big takeaway of the release of these documents is that the investigation is closed. What that means is, as long as Donald Trump is president, it's highly unlikely he will have any accountability from this Justice Department.
So unless Congress takes this and runs with it or a subsequent administration takes action when he's no longer president, probably means case closed.
KEILAR: And that was your expectation?
MORENO: I mean, it's a really serious case, right? It's not a slam dunk. And I can certainly anticipate what his defenses would have been. He sort of messaged those over the course of the last year, saying basically, I trusted Michael Cohen, I didn't know what he was doing. Clearly, a lot of mistruths there.
But at the end of the day, as long as he's president, as long as Bill Barr is the attorney general and he controls the Justice Department, I don't see this moving forward.
KEILAR: Joe, Kara, thank you so both of you. We have more on our breaking news. The president falsely claiming he
tried to stop the "send her back" chant at his rally. And the congresswoman who was target is responding. Stand by.
[13:36:14] KEILAR: We're just hours away now from CNN's live drawing to determine the lineup for the upcoming Democratic presidential debates. Those are happening in Detroit on July 30th and 31st.
We have CNN's political director, David Chalian, here.
So, David, explain to us how this all will work.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as you know, Brianna, we have got a group of 20 candidates that have qualified for this debate. It will be over those two nights, as you said.
So in front of a live television audience, we'll split the groups into 10 and 10.
Here's how it works. For each draw there will be a name card with a candidate's name on it, as well as a date card, July 30th or 31st. So the name will be randomly drawn and it will be matched up to a randomly drawn date.
After the draw, we'll announce the podium order that will be on each stage in Detroit. That also is determined by public polling.
We're doing three different draws. This is to ensure that we split the field of 20 evenly across the two nights based on where they stand in the polls.
Draw one, it's the lower tier, the bottom-10 candidates. They will split five and five evenly across the two nights.
Then in the second draw, we have that middle tier of candidates. These six candidates will split evenly between the two debate nights, three and three.
And then in the final draw, the top-tier contenders, Vice President Biden, Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. They're going to split two and two evenly across the two nights.
KEILAR: So during the last two debate, there were many candidates who were not paired together that we might have liked to have seen on stage together. What pairings would you be curious about this time?
CHALIAN: Well, these are just a few of the potential matchups among the top tier that I think people will be looking for, Brianna.
Remember, in Miami, we saw this debate, right, Joe Biden versus Kamala Harris. That was where we saw the most fireworks. Will there be a rematch this time around? Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, they've been going at it over health
care for the last week, quite intensely. Will we see that play out on the debate stage?
And remember, Elizabeth Warren was by herself when it came to the top- five candidates last time on Miami on one night. Who does she mix it up with? Is it Senator Bernie Sanders? The two of them are fighting over similar voters. Eyes will be on that matchup as well -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Yes, we'll be watching.
David Chalian, thank you.
Just a reminder. You can find out which Democratic candidates will face off on each night of the next debate in this live special event we're having. Watch "THE DRAW" for the CNN Democratic debates tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
For the last four years, Democrats have been promising to raise the minimum wage. And today, they voted to do just that. The House just passing a bill that will raise the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 federally an hour to $15 an hour, a change that would happen gradually over a period of years, which is a slow phase in that moderate Democrats demanded.
Of course, this bill has no chance of making it out of this divided Congress. Senate Republicans are not expected to take this up. That's, in part, due to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. And it found that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would kill more than a million jobs.
Karoun Demirjian is with us now. She's a congressional reporter for the "Washington Post," following all of this.
Democrats are trying to message their priorities with these votes, but I wonder amid the cacophony of controversies, if voters even pick up on it.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Nancy Pelosi keeps saying we talk about Bob Mueller and all these things but these don't trickle down to where people live, we have to talk about economics and health care that will affect who people vote for.
[13:40:03] But you're right, there's a lot of din and confusion around other things happening at the same time. These votes are taken and they do not end up dominating the front pages or the top headlines of the day because we're talking about Trump's tweets or something else is happening. If it's cutting through, that's not clear.
And like you said, the chances of this actually becoming law and then cutting through everything else because it's actually changed what the federal standard is, very, very slim to none in this Congress.
KEILAR: Let's look at some of the bills that Democrats have moved here. They've introduced nearly 4,000 bills, 210 have passed the House. Only 16 have passed the Senate. And 15 of those have been signed into law by the president.
And so the president has tried to say that they're spending all this time investigating him, actually, they're wasting all their time and not doing anything like this, legislating. Is he accurate?
DEMIRJIAN: In a way, yes, but this is always what happens when you have a divided Washington, D.C. And now you've got a divided Congress. And the House is not the same party as the White House.
The House has the easiest time passing legislation because it's basically majority rule. Most of the votes that go through, as long as you prepare a rule ahead of time, the majority party will get its way as long as the majority party can stick together.
That makes these issues like raising the minimum wage, which appeals across the Democratic Party, quite easy to get through the House. But they usually stop at the doorstep of the Senate. That's where the compromise comes in.
Compromise is always difficult in Washington. Republicans and Democrats have not been getting along for years. That difficulty rises to a fever pitch in election years. It's not 2020 yet, but --
KEILAR: It kind of is, it feels like 2020 mode.
DEMIRJIAN: Right? The mindset is there all the same. So the idea of being able to reach across the aisle in a not urgent crisis total drama situation is very rare. Maybe the debt ceiling, that will happen, because, otherwise, the entire economy grinds to a halt. But in this sort of case, like you said, pretty much no.
KEILAR: We'll wait for that crisis for some bipartisanship.
Karoun Demirjian, thank you so much.
Outcry growing over the president's racist remarks and his new racist rally chant. We're going to talk to a former Trump executive who will tell us if he thinks the president is racist.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.
(CHANTING) TRUMP: And she talked about the evil Israel and "it's all about the Benjamins." Not a good thing to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Fifteen seconds. That's how long the president remained silent as the crowd chanted "send her back." The earlier unofficial count I had was 13 seconds. That's the official count, 15 seconds.
This flies in the face of what the president said moments ago, that he tried to shut this down, this chant, by talking quickly, he said.
Well, that is a lie. Keeping up his attacks on four congresswomen of color was a major part of President Trump's rally in North Carolina last night.
Which raises the question: Is this political strategy or is the president racist or is it both?
Let's talk to someone who can answer this question for us. Jack O'Donnell is the former president and COO of Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City. He's also the author of "Trump": The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump."
Jack, thank you for joining us.
JACK O'DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT & COO, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL AND CASINO & AUTHOR: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: The president says he doesn't have a racist bone in his body. You worked very closely with him, talking to him multiple times a day for over three years. What did you see?
O'DONNELL: Well, I saw a very racist Donald Trump.
You know, Brianna, I guess the best way to describe him, he's like an old-school segregationist. If you think of George Wallace or Strom Thurmond, back in the '50s or '60s, that is how Trump thinks.
So, you know, he expresses his views very openly, when you become part of the inner circle, as I was. I mean, I was running his most successful business for three years. We spoke on a daily basis.
It was very common for him to make very casual comments about his views on race, whether it was traits that he would associate with people, where he very often said blacks were lazy, things like that. It was just very common with him.
He would very often say, why should whites have to live with blacks, because he didn't fundamentally believe that whites wanted to live with blacks and blacks didn't want to live with whites. That was just a very common conversation with Donald Trump.
KEILAR: So was it black Americans that he singled out? Or were there other groups that he had negative words for as well?
O'DONNELL: Well, he stereotyped almost everybody, Brianna.
But I think he also had a very harsh view of Puerto Ricans. I got the impression that most of that came from his experience with his father in their housing developments when they tried to purposely segregate Puerto Ricans as well as black people from certain units. So he had a very negative opinion of Puerto Rican people.
[13:50:13] But he also stereotyped rich people. Very commonly saying, I want short Jewish guys with yamika's on their head counting my money, I don't want black people counting my money.
So he typecast many, many people.
KEILAR: You document a time where he was allegedly complaining about black people being lazy. And he asked if you agreed with him. And you say that you, quote, "told him, in no uncertain circumstances, that I did not."
How did he react to that?
O'DONNELL: Well, very cavalier. This happened in the restaurant at Trump Tower down in the lobby. And he was, first off, talking loudly and I was horrified and tried to get him to quiet down. But when he asked me the question, I said, absolutely not. And it was a very cavalier waive of the hand. He just completely discounted my opinion.
KEILAR: You say -- you write that, "President Trump isn't president in spite of his racism, but because of it."
Why do you think that?
O'DONNELL: I think his base largely supports his views. I think you saw that last night. I think you saw that in the clip you ran.
He fundamentally believes that most Americans thinks the way he thinks. That's why he continues to say what he does, you know, on this issue of race. He knows it's going to support the people that already follow him, and he thinks more people will fall in line with his views.
KEILAR: Do you think -- based on your experience with Donald Trump, before you quit your job, before the casino went belly up, you saw him day in -- or interacted with him day in and day out, for between three to four years. Based on that experience, do you think he's bothered more by criticism when it comes from congresswomen of color or white lawmakers? Do you see a difference?
O'DONNELL: Well, I think he does relish the criticism from the congresswomen. In his mind, that's low-hanging fruit. He can go after that easily and get what he wants out of it. It's satisfying for him.
I think that, you know, white lawmakers going after him is something that he fears, actually. You know, in my opinion. And I don't think he wants that open fight because, deep down, he's a bit of a coward. He doesn't want to openly fight with the rest of the Republican Party. KEILAR: Do you think that Donald Trump will be re-elected?
O'DONNELL: Well, it's a great question. I'm going to start by saying, I certainly hope not. I think it's possible. And I think that largely depends on who he's running against. If the candidate generates the kind of apathy that Hillary Clinton did, then he certainly could be re-elected, in my opinion.
KEILAR: Jack O'Donnell, thank you so much, former COO of the Trump Casino.
Am I saying that right, Jack? Give me the full --
O'DONNELL: Yes. Yes, you are. Yes, thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Of the Trump Casino, Atlantic City.
Thank you so much, Jack. Thank you.
If you wondered how the president's choice of words is being received, Miriam-Websters tweeted this last night: :Tonight's top searchers, in order, racism, Socialism, Fascism, concentration camp, xenophobia, bigot."
[13:54:00] Up next, he rarely speaks publicly since leaving office. But in moments, former House Speaker John Boehner is going to join CNN live on the current state of the Republican Party and the plan he's pitching to his former colleagues.
TRUMP: Thank you very much for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you rule out sanctions --
TRUMP: We're looking at it. We're looking at it. Very, very difficult situation for a lot of reasons. Things could have been done better in the previous administration. The previous administration made some very big mistakes with regard to Turkey. And it was too bad. So we're looking at it. We'll see what we do. We haven't announced that yet.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does your message mean to your supporters who are making that chant?
TRUMP; Well, these are people that love our country. I want them to keep loving our country. I want them to keep loving our country.
[13:59:53] And I think the Congresswomen, by the way, should be more positive than they are. The congresswomen have a lot of problems. When look at the statements they made, that we're so bad and so horrible to our country, you look at what they said, John. What they said was something that is -- it's hard to believe they could make statements like that.