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Cuomo Prime Time

Interview with Rudy Giuliani; Discussion of Russia Probe Latest; Interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo.

And we have a CUOMO PRIME TIME exclusive tonight. A claim that goes to the truth of what the president knew and when he knew about an event that is central to the special counsel's Russia investigation.

Let's get after it. We have CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, and Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent for CNN.

Jimmy, what do we know now?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, tonight, sources with knowledge tell myself and Carl that Michael Cohen claims that then-candidate Donald Trump knew in advance about the June 26 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. Crucially, these sources tell us that Cohen is willing to make that assertion to the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

Cohen alleges as well that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer. He was informed by Donald Trump Jr. about that offer. By Cohen's account, Trump approved going ahead with that meeting with the Russians.

Now, we should note that our sources said Cohen does not have evidence such as audio recordings to corroborate his claim. A source familiar with Cohen's House testimony said he did not testify that Trump had advance knowledge. Cohen's claims were not mentioned as well in separate reports issued by both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

CUOMO: Now, going back through that transcript, the question before Congress for Cohen is going to be did they even ask him about it? So, now, there's a different state of play.

Let's bring in Carl here.

Timing, why now?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because Michael Cohen is going around saying that he has information that shows that the president had foreknowledge of this event as well as foreknowledge of other things that Cohen now is aware of, and we know that Cohen is, quote, flipping, attempting to flip on the president of the United States. He's also shopping for a get out of jail card. If this information is true and accurate, and if it can be nailed down in testimony by others, it's very, very significant because the president has denied any foreknowledge of this event, and this meeting goes to the question of intent to collude because, indeed, his son in that meeting made him -- said to -- in a communication that he was willing to get information -- I love it, he said -- from the Russians at this meeting.

CUOMO: All right. So before we get into the implications too deeply, let's get into the balancing part of this.

Jimmy, what are you hearing from the president's side on this?

SCIUTTO: OK. So we reached out to a number of people, of course. Alan Futerfas, of course the attorney for Donald Trump Jr., he tells CNN the following, and I'm quoting: Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and congressional investigations. We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump Jr. and on his behalf.

I should say that contacted by CNN, one of Cohen's attorneys, that is Lanny Davis. He declined to comment, and, of course, Chris, I know you're speaking to Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, and I'll leave his response to you.

CUOMO: Yes, thank you for mentioning that. We have Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, was scheduled to be on the show tonight. He's in the green room. He's listening to the reporting. Then he will get a full and complete opportunity to make his case to the audience.

So, in talking about this, interesting in that statement, Jimmy, nothing -- and Carl -- about rebutting the specific allegation from Cohen about the meeting and what he says he heard.

Now, let's get into the context a little bit. Let's listen to what the president himself told "The New York Times" about whether he knew about this Trump Tower meeting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't look at it very closely to be honest with you.


TRUMP: I just heard there was an e-mail requesting a meeting or something -- yes, requesting a meeting. That they have information on Hillary Clinton. And I said -- I mean, that's standard political stuff.

SCHMIDT: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting? TRUMP: No, I didn't know anything about the meeting. It must have

been a very important -- must have been very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it.

HABERMAN: No one told you a word, nothing? I know we talked about this on the plane a little bit.

TRUMP: No, nobody told me. I didn't know -- it's a very unimportant -- it sounded like a very unimportant meeting.


CUOMO: All right. That's not the only denial we've heard from the president or his team about not knowing about the meeting, right?

SCIUTTO: That's right. That's been a consistent story for nearly a year now. One claim that has stayed consistent is that Trump had no knowledge of the meeting beforehand, was not told about it afterward, and he insists he first learned about it one year later when "The New York Times" first came to them with that information.

Those denials w he should note, not just repeated by President Trump but by his attorney, Jay Sekulow, Trump Jr., his son, Trump Jr.'s attorney who we, of course, reached out to tonight, as well as the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders., and those people denying that Trump had contemporaneous knowledge of that meeting. We did a count, Chris, I should say, on more than 15 occasions, that denial coming.

CUOMO: All right. So we have a whole litany of them about what it is, but, you know, that's the record to this point.

So if Cohen goes through with this, the main concern is going to be credibility, right?


CUOMO: Because the sourcing is -- correct me if I'm wrong -- I don't have a tape. I don't have a document. I don't have anything that shows it's more than my word.

How good is his word?

BERNSTEIN: We don't know, and that is what Mueller and the other prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, assuming they will get a chance to talk to Mr. Cohen, will have to determine.

I think we've got to look at this as part of a larger picture. Mr. Cohen is very proximate to important things around Donald Trump. He is claiming that he knows many things, including this crucial event and what transpired before it. And that this was part of it, and that the president, then a candidate, knew of it in advance.

Presumably, Mueller may already know about what the president's knowledge of this is or is not. This is part of a big matrix. And --

COHEN: And Cohen suggests other people were in the room during the meeting that he was at, so maybe Mueller has had access to them.

BERNSTEIN: Again, we know almost nothing out of the Mueller investigation about what state his investigation is at, except that he is looking at obstruction of justice. He is looking at questions of collusion. He is looking at what the president did, what the Russians did. This meeting goes to the heart of it.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: And if, indeed, Michael Cohen can provide some good evidence backed up by others that the president knew of this in advance, it could be very damaging to the president. But --

CUOMO: More damaging to his son. He's not just throwing a bomb at the president.

BERNSTEIN: Again, it would appear that if things are as Mr. Cohen is saying, that some people have lied. We've seen a lot of lies.

CUOMO: But lying to me or you is one thing. The reason I bring up Donald Trump Jr. is only because of what Michael Cohen said, but Donald Trump Jr. has testified before Congress.

BERNSTEIN: Yes, he has.

CUOMO: Closed session. Not public. But we have a transcript of it.

Put up the transcript of it.

Did you go up and talk to your father about it? No. I wouldn't have wasted his time with it. I never discussed it with him at all.

And he said this to Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you tell your father anything about --

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. It was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.


BERNSTEIN: I think what we got to look at are two things here, that we do know that Donald Trump Sr. has lied throughout that investigation, that many, many things he has said turn out to be untrue. What we also know is that Mr. Cohen, up until this point, does not have a great record of credibility either.

He is now claiming that he is ready to provide everything he knows. The government already has his devices. They have his iPhone. They have his computer disks, and he says that he is willing to tell to the special prosecutor everything that he knows in exchange for some kind of leniency or immunity from prosecution.

It is a high-stakes poker game that is going on here involving Cohen, involving the press, involving the president of the United States. We'll see where it goes. But it is very, very important that for the first time, Michael Cohen, who has been proximate to the president of the United States for many years and knows many of his secrets, is saying, I want to spill those secrets, especially this one, in exchange for my perhaps being treated leniently.

CUOMO: You know, Jim, just for context on what is happening here strategically, this is a big change for Cohen by disposition of his legal team. They had been saying, flip on what? There are no charges. You know, what would we have to offer up? We haven't done anything wrong.

A move like this suggests an insurance policy, doesn't it?

SCIUTTO: It does. I mean it certainly suggests as well an enormous amount of legal pressure that Michael Cohen is under, and that is something that the president's lawyers and advocates are going to draw attention to.

But one consistent thing you hear from Mr. Cohen's lawyers and representatives and others who know him is that he went through a change, that now he wants to set the record straight, that now he is choosing country over Donald Trump. And that is what they're offering as an explanation for his change in tack.

CUOMO: Carl?

BERNSTEIN: There's an obvious parallel that suggested itself that may or may not be relevant, and that's in Watergate to John Dean, who did a similar thing. He was part of a conspiracy. We don't know that Cohen and the president engaged in a conspiracy, but that's what some people are alleging.

And then, Dean decided at a certain point he, one, wanted immunity, and, two, he would tell in his view a patriotic act, what he knew. If Michael Cohen is doing something of the same thing, it could be very, very consequential. We now are going to find out as this goes along what facts he knows, what facts he doesn't, and the special prosecutor will deal with the question of his truthfulness, validity, and whether or not he wants to make a deal with Cohen.

He might not want to make a deal with Cohen because he might have more evidence from elsewhere and doesn't need what Cohen has.

CUOMO: That is a possibility. We are being told that this is Cohen's team wanting to go to Mueller, not Mueller coming to them. That way it has worked up at this point.

BERNSTEIN: I think that's right.

CUOMO: And, obviously, you're going to hear Rudy Giuliani make this point for the president. You only know what you can show when it comes to matters of law, and that is the new bar although this is a big allegation from Michael Cohen.

Thank you, Carl Bernstein. Thank you, Jim Sciutto, for bringing it to us on CUOMO PRIME TIME.

All right. We got to test both sides. We're testing the weakness on Cohen's side. What about on the president's side? His attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is here, next.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he may tell Robert Mueller the president knew about that Trump Tower meeting with a possible Russian agent, that he supported it, and that he therefore lied about what he knew thereafter.

How does this affect what's going on with the probe? And how does it mesh with what we learned from the Cohen tapes earlier this week?

Everybody's got a perspective of this. We have former New York City mayor, current counsel to the president, Rudy Giuliani, here with us tonight.


CUOMO: Thank you, sir. Appreciate you taking the opportunity.

What is your response to the headline? You did not look very impressed in the green room.

GIULIANI: No, no. I expected something like from Cohen. He's been lying all week, I mean -- or for two -- he's been lying for years. I mean, the tapes that we have demonstrate any number of very serious lies by him back a year and a half ago, including his fooling people, hiding tape recordings, telling them they weren't recorded, lying to their face, breaking faith with them, taping his client, which is a disbarable offense.

I don't see how he has any credibility. This is basically if he had a trial, and there won't be a trial here but if he had a trial, you would say, which lie do you want to pick? You want to pick the first lie, the second lie, or maybe some new lie?

There's nobody I know that knows him that hasn't warned me if his back is up against the wall, he'll lie like crazy because he's lied all his life.

CUOMO: All right. So the flip on it is this -- to do that to me, to tell me a lie, that's the media. You know, what's the risk (ph) of it?

To go to Bob Mueller and say, he knew, I was in the meeting. He heard his son -- he puts his son in the mix also. The son told him he supported it. He says, according to our reporting, there were other people in the

room. So this is something that Bob Mueller should be able to figure out, right?

GIULIANI: Well, the question isn't what happened in the room. The question is what did the president know, as you said, and Bernstein said, what did he know, and when did he know it? So, it would have to be people in the room with the president --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- that can corroborate Cohen, which there won't be because it didn't happen. And then it becomes a credibility contest between two or three witnesses who say one thing and Cohen who says another.

CUOMO: Assuming they say different things.

GIULIANI: I'm pretty comfortable about that. Not having a chance to go back and look at all of it, but I remember it pretty well. There's no doubt in my mind that he's just not credible. I would not accept him as a witness as a prosecutor.

If Mueller has any other kind of case, this is the kind of witness that can really destroy your whole case because any finder of fact loses confidence in the case when you rely on a guy like this, when you rely on a guy where before you're finished with him, you're going to have such a string of lies, you just can't trust him.

You put him in this kind of pressure, and what's his history been? His history has been lying under pressure.

CUOMO: One step sideways for a second and then we'll get back to the tapes and I know you have responses prepared. The president says that he has an eye for talent, and he always has the best people around him. I'm sure you won't disagree with that where you're involved.

He put his trust in this man for years. He entrusted him with his most sensitive matters and said, I gave him full discretion to do things I didn't need to know. It's a fundamental aspect of the president's narrative of what happened --


CUOMO: -- with the women.

Why did he have somebody so close to him if the guy is so incredible?

GIULIANI: Chris, that's kind of part of the human condition, right? I mean, we all make mistakes about people that turn out to be disloyal to us. You know, Benedict Arnold was disloyal to George Washington, the greatest president, right?

So, anybody can Brutus and Caesar. I mean, you can go back to ancient classical literature and you can find people you trust and they turn out to be scoundrels. I saw the president when he first found out that he had been taped, and the president was completely shocked. CUOMO: I believe that.

GIULIANI: And he wasn't angry. You know, President Trump can get angry sometimes. He was disappointed, almost like a father who has been betrayed by his son. It was very moving for jay and me.

CUOMO: But he obviously believed that Michael Cohen was a man of good character, who he could depend on, and who told him the truth.

GIULIANI: Up until a few days ago, yes. I think he did. He had no reason to distrust Michael. He didn't select Michael for government. You know Michael was bitter about that.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm.

GIULIANI: That's going to be on tapes, without getting into the detail of that. And he's very, very jealous and bitter about the kids, which also comes across on the tapes.

So, you got a whole scenario here that's really, really sick. And I agree with you the president didn't know, but, gosh, I've been fooled by people. Totally fooled. And I'm a pretty good judge of character and I prosecuted a lot of people. But I've been fooled.

CUOMO: If it's true -- indulge me for a moment. If it's true, if Cohen's telling the truth, I was there. I heard the son. He said, this is what I've got.

The president or then candidate Trump said, great. Let me know. And it happened. What do you think that means legally for the president?

GIULIANI: I don't know. I haven't had a chance to analyze it, and I don't want to assume that hypothetical because it's so contrary to all the facts that I know up until now. I'm not going to assume that, and I'm not going to argue, well, even if it happened, it may not be as significant as all of the anti-Trump people are going to blow it up to.

But I honestly don't think it's significant. But in any event, that doesn't matter. It didn't happen. That's our position.

CUOMO: But the only way we know it didn't happen is because Trump Jr. says it didn't happen, and the president says it didn't happen.

GIULIANI: Correct. And a person who is found to be an incredible liar, who's got a tremendous motive to lie now because he's got nothing to give, says it. All of a sudden at the 11th hour. I don't think anybody believes that, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Well, we'll see, right? We'll see if Mueller wants to take the meeting, if he wants to hear the --

GIULIANI: I don't know why he wouldn't take the meeting. You want to hear it, but then the question becomes can he corroborate it?

CUOMO: Right. GIULIANI: If he can't corroborate it, it's useless.

CUOMO: Well, you said earlier, he might not want this. He may know things --

GIULIANI: He's going to want to hear it. He's going to be running around saying this, you want to hear what he has to say. But as far as I can tell from the record, it is not corroborated by anything. In fact, it's disputed.

CUOMO: All right. Now, here's your problem. This will get us into the earlier scoop we had in the week. Michael Cohen has a credibility issue, stipulated for the point of argument. You got it.

So does your client. Your client has a credibility issue. He has said things that are not true, and this week became an example of that. The idea that he didn't know anything about Karen McDougal until after the fact seems to be disproved by that tape.


CUOMO: How no?

GIULIANI: Nothing on that tape.

CUOMO: Go one by one.

GIULIANI: I told you the key part of that tape that they were pushing on was the check or no check thing.

CUOMO: Which I never understood, but make your case first. I understood your case. I don't understand the significance. Go ahead.

GIULIANI: They want to say that he wanted to do this transaction in cash.


GIULIANI: Which of course is absurd. It was a corporate transaction.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: You can't do it in cash. So trying to attribute those words to him was like forcing an interpretation of what is in fact a tape that has to be carefully analyzed on people. The idea of a cash transaction here is absurd.

The idea of check makes it clear that the president wanted a memorialization of it, wasn't afraid of it. That's important. It's important to mental state. It's important to did he have an intent to deceive, which he didn't? The president hasn't done anything wrong here.

As far as the president not telling the truth, he's -- there's nothing that contradicts what he said about this investigation, not a darn thing. CUOMO: Well --

GIULIANI: How about the tape with you? Cohen says, I set it up with Stormy Daniels. I paid it. I paid it out of my own pocket. I did it for the family. I didn't do it for campaign purposes.

That is word for word exactly the version we have, not only from the president, but from all the people around the president.

CUOMO: All right.

GIULIANI: That corroborates our case and kind of throws the Stormy Daniels thing out of the picture. So he kind of screwed himself on that. So what does he have left?

CUOMO: All right. Let's take it one at a time.

GIULIANI: He has this ridiculous collusion thing. So it's got to go on further than this by the way.

CUOMO: All right. But let's --

GIULIANI: Did Trump ever meet with Russians? Did he ever agree with them?

What do you mean he colluded? The Russians hacked. Nobody thinks the president was involved in the hacking.

Did he get the fruits of it unknowingly? No. But if he did, that's not a crime. There's no crime there.

CUOMO: Understood. But there's a difference between something being illegal and something being wrong.

Now, one thing. You got me handcuffed on one thing. What Michael Cohen told me on that tape, I told him was off the record. Even though what happened in terms of the recording of it, that's one issue. It was off the record, so I can't corroborate what you're saying.

GIULIANI: I can. I read the transcript.

CUOMO: I know you did. But I just want it to be clear I'm not going back on my word.

GIULIANI: I'm not going to ask you -- Chris, I told you this then. I said it on Fox. I said it all over. You did exactly the right thing.

In fact, Chris, thank you for doing it because you questioned him the way a lawyer would question him, and you got everything out of him. I couldn't have done a better job of getting him to corroborate my client's statement than you did. And he did it three or four times.

CUOMO: It was off the record. I can't talk about it.

GIULIANI: But he put it on the record by taping the darn thing surreptitiously, by lying to you.

CUOMO: I understand. But just because somebody else does the wrong thing doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing.

So, let me just take -- let me take you back to something else that I can speak to. On the tape that we played on the show this week --

GIULIANI: Which is about the first one now?



CUOMO: The president had a familiarity with what Michael Cohen was telling him that they needed to be doing with regard to McDougal and the other assets that AMI may or may not still have. He knew the dollar amount. He knew what was happening and why. That shows knowledge before the transaction.

That is inconsistent with what the president and with what Hope Hicks said from the campaign. He knew about this until after the fact. Not true, Rudy. We know it from the tape.

GIULIANI: No, that's not right. The tape is really can be argued either way on whether he knew or he didn't know. He doesn't say --

CUOMO: Why did he know the dollar amount?

GIULIANI: Cohen could have told him two hours before and not taped it. How do I -- there's one conversation between Cohen and the president that's taped. You think they had one conversation in two years?

CUOMO: I don't know.

GIULIANI: Not only that --

CUOMO: But I know it when I hear it. It's not now information.

GIULIANI: Here's another thing that he did. When Trump says check -- and everybody agrees that he said check at the end -- he cut it off abruptly. Who knows what else was discussed then?

There's no doubt the president was very surprised by the idea of financing, that they were going to have to make some kind of payment.

CUOMO: It was a clumsy word to use. I think it was Cohen trying to legitimize the discussion frankly.

GIULIANI: Why do we have to make everything against the president?

CUOMO: How am I doing that?

GIULIANI: He was surprised.

CUOMO: I'm giving you one take on one thing. GIULIANI: He was surprised. He was surprised by financing. You can hear it in his voice.

CUOMO: He said what financing?

GIULIANI: What financing?

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: Which indicates he certainly didn't know the details of this situation.

CUOMO: And then I think he says I'll pay cash. And then Cohen says, no, no, no, he then says check.

GIULIANI: No, dog gone it, he doesn't say that. He said don't pay cash. No, no, no, Cohen says.

CUOMO: I had a forensic expert look at the tape and he says he said something else.

GIULIANI: I had three forensic experts --

CUOMO: It's not making unfair to the president. I'm just telling you --


GIULIANI: I'm telling you, if you want to listen to it --

CUOMO: I listened to it so many times, I never want to hear any of it again. I'm saying don't get upset about it --


GIULIANI: I am upset about it because people are lying about it. It says don't pay cash.

CUOMO: Wait, why would the forensic lie about what he heard? I'm just saying, be open to the possibility you're wrong.

GIULIANI: I am not wrong. I heard it myself.

CUOMO: You could be wrong, Rudy.

GIULIANI: I'm not wrong. I heard it myself.

CUOMO: It's so unclear on the tape.

GIULIANI: No, it's not, not if you're used to listening to thousands and thousands of hours of tape and dealing with inaudibles like I am and knowing how to enhance them yourself, which I know how to do.

Be that as it may, the man is a liar. A proven liar. There's no way you're going to bring down the president of the United States on the testimony uncorroborated of a proven liar. I guarantee you this guy is a proven liar.

CUOMO: I hear what you're saying.

GIULIANI: A year ago, when I wasn't his lawyer, people in your profession told me, this guy will flip because he is an inherent, pathological liar.

CUOMO: Well, look, we only know what you show. We'll see what proof there is. If he's a liar --


GIULIANI: I'm not worried about it at all.

CUOMO: But I'm saying credibility is a problem for the president too. That's not me being unfair. It's me being objective.

GIULIANI: But, you know, the president's credibility is not at issue.

CUOMO: Why not?

GIULIANI: Because the president -- people are --

CUOMO: He says he didn't know about the meeting. Maybe he did.

GIULIANI: You've got to make a case against him first. You haven't made a case against him.

CUOMO: But that is going to be --

GIULIANI: No, it's not. It's not a case when a liar says something. This guy's testimony will be worth nothing.

CUOMO: Well, hold on a second. If the president knew about that meeting at Trump Tower in advance --

GIULIANI: He didn't.

CUOMO: If he did, it matters Rudy. It does.

GIULIANI: It does. It's not a smoking gun. It matters.

CUOMO: That's not the bar. It matters. It's proof, and it's also proof that he's been lying to the American people.

GIULIANI: He didn't know about it. I know that. I've been over this in great detail. I've talked to the corroborating witnesses. This guy is walking into a trap. But --

CUOMO: You've talked to the other people that were in the room?

GIULIANI: Of course I did. Months ago. A month ago. Two months ago.

CUOMO: And you know what they say the president was told and not told by his son? GIULIANI: I know what they say, yes.

CUOMO: All right, fine. Then I accept your word at that. We'll see what you can do to prove it.

GIULIANI: And I know that he's walking into a situation in which there will be no corroboration.

Gosh almighty, why didn't he tape it? He taped everything else. He's got a hundred tapes. Why didn't he tape that?

Maybe he did. Maybe he's got a tape of that that he erased. Did you ever think of that?


GIULIANI: You don't think he would erase a tape?

CUOMO: Maybe he would. I don't know.

GIULIANI: I can demonstrate to you with my forensic expert that he cut that tape off, that first tape.

CUOMO: Well, we know that but there's good and bad reason for that. He could have done it, as you're saying, as part of an orchestration or it could have been he got an incoming call and it cut off the app that was recording it on the iPhone. That's the problem that we can have with that.

GIULIANI: Well, good, we can argue both ways and that creates a reasonable doubt.

CUOMO: Abs -- listen, again --

GIULIANI: And reasonable doubt has to be given to the person who is under investigation.

CUOMO: I'm with you. Although, Rudy, let's just point something out for the audience. I'm trying to make points about credibility. You say, well, that doesn't make a case. Then you say, well, that's reasonable doubt. What is it? Do you want a legal context or you're not?

GIULIANI: You're making little points about credibility, and there's a couple of major points about the guy who you're relying on for this big story tonight. Number one, he lied to people about taping them, both the president and other people. And not only that, he went to subterfuge in order to do it, like a whole little game which shows how pathological he is.

Second, we know that we have statements from him corroborating 100 percent the entire Stormy Daniels situation exactly as the president has told it.

CUOMO: But if he's a liar, then why wasn't he lying then and trying to get over on somebody like me to get a good story for the president --

GIULIANI: Well, that's the point.

CUOMO: -- who he seemed to love more than his whole family?

GIULIANI: Now you're making a summation argument that makes him totally useless. You don't know when he's telling the truth, unless -- you don't even know if he's telling the truth on tape because he lies on tape. So, the man is what we call in the legal profession incredible. He's not credible.

CUOMO: And you don't think the president has a similar credibility problem?

GIULIANI: He does not. The president hasn't done anything like that. The president doesn't go around taping and lying to people.

CUOMO: No, no, no, not the taping and lying. Although, Rudy, be careful. He said he did exactly that with Jim Comey. That's what he suggested and no tapes ever came out.

GIULIANI: He did it as a test of Comey. He did it as a test of Comey.

CUOMO: Did he tape Jim Comey?

GIULIANI: He did not, as he said three days later after he said that.

CUOMO: Did they tape the interview that happened in Helsinki where he said we'll put out the tails later and you'll be able to see what was done and not done?

GIULIANI: I don't know -- I don't know anything about Helsinki.

CUOMO: Sarah Sanders was supposed to give them to us.

GIULIANI: That's a whole big question on politics.

CUOMO: It's never happened. But I'm saying it goes to credibility.

GIULIANI: You're talking about the meeting between --


GIULIANI: I have no idea.

CUOMO: No, no, no. It was in an interview that he had done about NATO, and he said, I record all these interviews now, and you'll get that tape. We never got the tape.

The idea of the president --

GIULIANI: Didn't the reporter tape it?

CUOMO: Yes, and they said, we have our own to show the true context. It never came out. What I'm saying is this. He's got credibility issues on things small,

medium, and large. That's why those tweets are being relevant because he's been lying about this investigation.

GIULIANI: You can't make a case against somebody based on credibility issues. You've got to prove.

CUOMO: But credibility counts, and that may be why you don't want him to testify is because --

GIULIANI: No, I don't want him to testify because I don't want him to be put up against liars. I don't want a situation like, you know, he says the truth about this. There are three witnesses that can corroborate him, but they recommend perjury because one guy, a proven liar, says the opposite.

CUOMO: But he puts himself in the same box. When he says there was no Russian interference, he knows it's not true. He says it anyway. That's a lie.

GIULIANI: He hasn't said that.

CUOMO: He's said it a million times, Rudy.

GIULIANI: He hasn't -- yes, he has done nothing wrong. He hasn't colluded with the Russians.

CUOMO: He says Russian interference is a hoax.

GIULIANI: He did not.

CUOMO: It's something the Democrats made up.

GIULIANI: He just gave a press conference in which he said that he accepts the findings.

CUOMO: Yes, now, because a dozen times --

GIULIANI: A year ago.

CUOMO: No, please?

GIULIANI: We put out an interview of him eight months ago, ten months ago, saying exactly the same thing.

CUOMO: Rudy, come on.

GIULIANI: Come on?

CUOMO: You know that he has said so many times it's a hoax and a witch hunt and the Democrats made it up to make up for why they lost. Come on.

GIULIANI: The witch hunt is trying to inveigle him into whatever the hell the Russians did.

CUOMO: Fine. Then he should draw the distinction like you should did.


CUOMO: He never does. He did not.

GIULIANI: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: He did it only --

GIULIANI: OK. Well, we're going to go back and forth. He did --


CUOMO: I've never been more right against you than I am right now. Never.

GIULIANI: Chris, you're actually wrong. Right after -- right after Helsinki, he said I accept it.

CUOMO: After he adopted Putin's position. Come on. I was in Helsinki. One of the most embarrassing things I've ever witnessed.

GIULIANI: Would you let me --

CUOMO: Please, go ahead. Save him.

GIULIANI: That's another personal attack that's really --

CUOMO: It's not. It was embarrassing to see him say Putin is very convincing --

GIULIANI: Well, because you're embarrassed. I wasn't embarrassed.

CUOMO: -- and our intelligence community, you know, they say what they say.

GIULIANI: You have your own perspective, and I have mine.

The reality is that the president said that he accepted the fact that it was Russian interference. I don't exactly know how long ago, at least six months, eight months, maybe a year ago.


CUOMO: And you don't think since that time he's said Russian interference is a hoax? I will send you a list of stuff that will crash your phone.

GIULIANI: What he is saying is that the attempt to inveigle him --

CUOMO: I get it.

GIULIANI: -- with all this craziness, $20 million worth of an investigation, all this obstruction nonsense that only comes out of the fact that you have this investigation that started with Peter Strzok running it for eight months, that is a hoax. He's right. CUOMO: First of all, we do not know that he is right about it being a

hoax. It's certainly a legitimate investigation.

GIULIANI: No, it's not.

CUOMO: Pompeo says it. Coats says it. Members of Congress say it.

GIULIANI: It's a legitimate investigation of the Russians. It is hardly a legitimate investigation of him.

This is a political investigation started by the people who helped Hillary out of her jam. All those people put on the case.

CUOMO: Republicans.

GIULIANI: Not Republicans. Peter Strzok.

CUOMO: Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein.

GIULIANI: Ooh, yes, they're some Republicans.

CUOMO: Well, they're either Republicans or they're not. You've got different kinds?

GIULIANI: Mueller hires all Democrats, including Democratic activists.

CUOMO: He didn't hire all Democrats. It was about 50/50.

GIULIANI: No Republicans. Not a single Republican.

CUOMO: He does have, too. He has Republicans on the staff.

GIULIANI: Not that I know. Certainly not Republicans that are engaged like Weissmann was engaged, like Jim Quarles was engaged, donating a lot of money to the Democrats.

CUOMO: Mueller himself is a lifelong rock ribbed Republican, and you know that. The president had just met with him about taking a post in the cabinet.

GIULIANI: And turned him down.

CUOMO: But why did he meet with him?

GIULIANI: It begins with a conflict.

CUOMO: Why did he meet with him?

GIULIANI: He didn't know who Mueller was. Mueller was a guy --

CUOMO: He didn't know who he was and he met with him to be the head of the FBI?

GIULIANI: Come on. What I mean is he didn't know all the bad things about Mueller. He knew Mueller was a former FBI guy. He needed an FBI guy. He interviewed him and on the spot, he decided he's not the right guy.

CUOMO: This is what I don't get.

GIULIANI: Don't return him into the job. Then that guy becomes -- you select that guy as the special prosecutor when he's just been turned down for a job?

CUOMO: Rosenstein did, the guy that the Trump administration picked. They picked Rosenstein.

GIULIANI: I think it was a very serious mistake of judgment.

CUOMO: But it's not, but this conspiracy theory that they're all out to get the president and part of some angry men cabal just doesn't make any sense.

GIULIANI: They are out to get him. They are out to get him. They are contorting evidence in order to get him. They are putting undue pressure on people in order to get him.

They're putting Manafort in solitary confinement, which sounds more like Russia than the U.S., in order to get him to break. And maybe they've succeed in cracking this guy and getting him to lie. I don't know. I'm not sure of that. I have -- well, I shouldn't say it.

CUOMO: And don't say it.

GIULIANI: He has -- he has -- Michael has disappointed me so much that I -- I can't believe it. When I saw that he taped the president, when I listened to the other tapes, some of which you haven't heard, and the way in which he deceives people, there's no way this guy survives like even a motion to dismiss anything that happens.

CUOMO: Well, here's what we know for sure.

GIULIANI: He'll ruin your whole case.

CUOMO: This is going to be a fundamental issue of credibility.


CUOMO: And if you're right about it, then this is going to go one way and very quickly.

GIULIANI: There's no other way to go because the president didn't do anything wrong.

CUOMO: Rudy Giuliani, thank you very much. No reason to get so angry about it. It's also about civil discourse.

GIULIANI: I'm not angry. I am -- I am upset about the lying that's going on and I'm getting upset that this thing is being carried to ridiculous extents now.

CUOMO: I understand your position. You know here, tough but fair.

GIULIANI: I didn't say you were not fair.

CUOMO: You're banging on my table. You're going to break it. It's very expensive.

GIULIANI: I did not bang on your table. I got upset about the way every single thing is construed against the president when, in fact, anybody under investigation is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

CUOMO: A hundred percent.

We're going to go to commercial, and we will discuss what the definition of bang is because I want to show you what you did in the crack on in table.

GIULIANI: I didn't bang --

CUOMO: All right. We just heard the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, lay out his case on the breaking news. So what could be the potential legalities? What is worth examining?

We have two big-brain lawyers who made and defended these kinds of cases. "Cuomo's Court", next.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight. Let's take it to "Cuomo's Court".

We have Asha Rangappa. She is going to lay out what could be part of a prosecution theory here. And Ross Garber with the potential defense understanding of this. Thanks to both of you.

Asha, what have you got?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, that was quite a trip that you took with Mr. Giuliani, Chris. But I'm going to bring it back to earth here with the facts.

So one of the things that he mentioned about Cohen was that he has a credibility problem, and I think that's true. But with regard to the content of what happened with the notification of the Trump Tower meeting, remember that Don Junior, according to Senate Judiciary Committee transcripts, made three calls to a blocked number before and after that Trump tower meeting was offered to him.

And then on the day of the Trump Tower meeting, two hours later, he made a call to a blocked number. Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't subpoena those records, but I guarantee you Mueller has subpoenaed those records.

CUOMO: And can you get the number behind a blocked number?

RANGAPPA: Yes. He can get from the phone company with a subpoena. He should be able to get those numbers.

CUOMO: And what's your theory? That that block the number was his father?

RANGAPPA: Well, I don't know. But what I'm saying that can corroborate or not corroborate Michael Cohen's statement.

CUOMO: Maybe, maybe not.

RANGAPPA: So, if that number -- well, if the numbers were to his father --

CUOMO: Well, then yes.

RANGAPPA: -- and you have Cohen also timing it, that would be a corroboration.

CUOMO: All right.

RANGAPPA: So I'm saying that, you know, there are ways to do that.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's bounce it to Ross.

And what do you make of this at the outset? Do you think this would be something, if this is all true and Cohen goes in and this is what he tells Mueller, how big a deal do you think it is?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, I can understand Rudy Giuliani being surprised and upset by this. He's sort of fighting with shadows. And, you know, Asha, as a former FBI agent, you can see how aggressive they may be on this.

But Rudy had actually some very good points. You know, first, Cohen may have a credibility issue. In fact, he does. Don Jr. testified under oath about this. The president talked about it. We haven't heard Michael Cohen talk about it, and so, there's no way right now for us to measure his credibility.

And in terms of the phone call, I would expect that Don Jr. and his dad are probably talking multiple times a day about lots of different things. So, you know, the first point is maybe Cohen is telling the truth, or maybe he's not telling the truth. But we're not in a position yet to be able to judge that.

CUOMO: But here's how you would know, Ross, right? If this part is true that it was a meeting with more people than just Don Jr., then- candidate Trump, and Cohen, now you've got something else for Mueller to dig into. And my only suggestion here is if Cohen were to go and lie to Mueller about this, and then he finds out that I've got three other people or how many other people were in the room and they all say Cohen is lying, he's setting himself up for some danger there, is he not?

GARBER: For sure. But, look, people do that all the time. They go in, and they lie, and they exaggerate to federal investigators all the time.

And so far, you know, we have no knowledge that Cohen has done that. And, in fact, he's playing sort of an interesting game here. You know, I think Asha would agree with me that federal investigators probably wouldn't be so happy with what Cohen is doing right now. You know, going to the press instead of going to the government.

CUOMO: Right.

GARBER: And, you know, Cohen's represented by --


CUOMO: But remember this -- remember this, Ross, because I got to end it because I don't have any more facts to go on and I don't want to eat time with just speculation. But remember this -- and Asha taught me this on another story. If he went to Mueller first, he would never be able to get word of this out because Mueller would lock him down. He wouldn't be able to talk about it, and he is worried about his credibility. Clearly, that's what this week has been about.

Rangappa, thank you very much. Ross, I appreciate it. Thank you for making the case on both sides.

GARBER: Good to see you.

CUOMO: We'll get more facts, come back. We'll argue it more.

All right. So court of law, one part of this. Court of public opinion, maybe just as important because this whole probe may turn out to be just a political process. So what could the fallout be?

We have a member of the House Judiciary. Does he see this week's developments as game-changers? Next.


CUOMO: Sources tell CNN Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, is willing to tell the special counsel that President Trump is lying about a key meeting at the center of the Russia probe.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat, member of the Intelligence Committee, joins us now.

This is a credibility contest, Congressman. How does it size up in your estimation?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Chris. Well, as far as Michael Cohen's credibility, Rudy Giuliani described him as a proven liar, but all of his lies in the past were on behalf of Donald Trump.

And also as a former prosecutor, I've proved many cases, and it happens all the time, that proven liars come around, and they do the right thing. And their testimony is critical in proving cases beyond a reasonable doubt.

But the significant here about what is being said is that a candidate for president knew that a foreign adversary, the Russians, were seeking to help his campaign, and that, I think, cannot be lost and that is what we have to guard against in the future elections.

CUOMO: Right, but that's only as good as his word, right?


CUOMO: Because unless there's corroborating evidence, I mean, it seems to be the biggest factor in this report, Congressman, is what we don't know. If there were people -- other people in the room --


SWALWELL: A single witness can --

CUOMO: -- that's the key to Mueller knowing the truth.

SWALWELL: Yes, and jurors are told every day that a single witness can prove any fact in a case. You always want more evidence. And I think, you know, Michael Cohen would be expected to corroborate, you know, other pieces in this case.

But all of the evidence that we viewed in our investigation suggested that Donald Trump, of course, knew. And I say that because Donald Trump was very close to the Agalarov family who set up this meeting. Donald Trump was one floor above where this meeting took place.

The blocked number issue, we know that Donald Trump in his penthouse in Trump Tower had a blocked number. So, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest that he knew --

CUOMO: So, what if it's true that he did know? How does it change the analysis?

SWALWELL: Well, it shows he had prior knowledge that the Russians were seeking to do this and he didn't stop the meeting. He was giving a green light for the Russians to interfere and for people on his team -- his deputies, his son, his son-in-law, Paul Manafort, who was at the meeting -- it was a green light for them to continue to work with the Russians.

And so, I think this opens up a whole host of other questions about what the president knew the Russians would do.

CUOMO: Right, but that's not a crime.

SWALWELL: Oh, that's a betrayal of our democracy, to let a foreign adversary --


CUOMO: Arguably. But it's not a crime. That's what Rudy's argument is, is that none of this is criminal. It will all be dealt with by voters.

SWALWELL: Well, Chris, conspiracy to defraud the United States is a crime that many people in the Mueller investigation have been charged with. So that would be the crime right there. CUOMO: That would be the crime.

SWALWELL: And an attempt is also a crime, Chris. You know, an incomplete act, if you try to rob the bank but you're unsuccessful, that's --

CUOMO: An inchoate act even in a conspiracy can be actionable under law. I understand that.


CUOMO: Let me ask you something. When you guys had Cohen, did you ask him about what knowledge he had of Trump's knowledge of this meeting?

SWALWELL: We should release the transcripts. The Republicans are prohibiting us from talking about that. I will just say this, Chris, because I want to answer your question. We put out a report about significant evidence in the case. We did not include this for Michael Cohen. And again --

CUOMO: Right, neither side did.


CUOMO: What does mean? Does that mean you didn't ask or you asked and he didn't answer?

SWALWELL: I think you can assume that we were very -- you know, I would say, complete with our questions and covered a wide area of issues. Again, I'm trying to honor what we agreed to with the Republicans.

But, Chris, every day in America, witnesses come forward who have told lies to the police and then want to do the right thing. And if it can be corroborated, juries convict on that evidence every day.

CUOMO: Congressman, thank you very much. I know you guys are on break.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

No, we're working at home, though.

CUOMO: Well, we rewarded you with breaking news.


CUOMO: Thank you very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

CUOMO: All right. Closing argument next, why the truth matters, told with a very entertaining story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: All right. Here's a story that captures where we are this week after these two significant developments, the Cohen tapes and his potentially telling Mueller that Trump is lying about a material aspect of the probe.

The president has tried hard to discredit and distract from the probe, certainly by attacking those of us looking for the truth. It takes us to this story. Here we go.

Man walks into a pet store, sees a sign, talking parrot, guaranteed. Buys it.

Come back next week and says, doesn't talk. The store owner says, what? It didn't climb the ladder and start talking?

The guy says, what ladder? The store owner says, oh, sorry, you need the ladder, 10 bucks. Another purchase.

Another week, no talking, back to the store. Saying complaint, store owner. What? He didn't climb the ladder and look in the mirror and talk? What mirror? Oh, sorry. Another purchase.

Third week comes. The guy comes back to the store and the owner says, is he talking it? The guy says, the parrot is dead, but before he died he spoke. And the store owner says, what did he say? He said, don't they sell any bird feed at that store?

What's the moral? Be aware when someone is selling you something. And that's where we are right now. Who is selling you a line of B.S. and who is telling you the truth?

Mueller is assessing this, but you must also, because it's highly likely the probe is going to come down to a political battle. And lawmakers are going to do what they think you demand.

Now, as I said, Trump keeps distracting from the truth of the probe. I heard the mayor's arguments. So did you.

But the record shows he said consistently it didn't happen, it's a hoax, there's no proof of any collusion. Same with the women and the peccadilloes, no knowledge of payments to any women before the fact, no knowledge of what Cohen was doing in that regard.

Now, none of that appears to be true. So what is the truth? It matters, period.

But the argument is that it matters here for at least a couple of reasons, OK? Here's the first: to get to the bottom of any potential campaign violation or money moving crime, all right? And two, because it goes to the president's knowledge of and involvement in a meeting that is proof of a desire to collude and certainly of interest to Mueller.

Now, the rub is going to be credibility here. That's what it's going to come to. So, if we move to the end of our story, we'll have to make this judgment. And I will give you the information, we will work hard.

But in that story, Trump would be the store owner. And here's the concern. If he'll lie about personal peccadilloes, if he'll lie about what he knew and when about payments, if he'll lie about a meeting like the one his son and others attended, where does it end? Where does it end?

If he is willing to put himself first and the truth second, what if it's about what happens to the men and women we send to fight overseas? What if it's about meetings with world leaders? What if it's about, God forbid, what led to a terror attack here at home?

The truth has to matter. It will not only answer questions. It will set a standard of accountability going forward to protect against irresponsible governance. The president has so much control and so much power, he must tell the truth. One dead parrot is enough.

Thanks for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.