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CNN Live Event/Special
Barr: "Stunning" Leak Shows It's "Too Easy" To Get Access To Secrets; Michael Cohen Responds To Trump's $500 Million Lawsuit Against Him; Jury Selection Begins In Defamation Trial Against Fox News. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 13, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.
Tonight, we are following a dramatic turn, in one of the most significant leaks, in Pentagon history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under arrest, a member of the Air National Guard, suspected in the unprecedented leak, of America's secrets.
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: FBI agents took Teixeira, into custody, earlier this afternoon, without incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As global fallout intensifies, where does the investigation go next? We'll ask former Attorney General, Bill Barr.
Plus, lashing out, former President Trump sitting for a high-stakes deposition, as he sues, his former fixer, for $500 million, in the, wake of his New York indictment.
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER MANHATTAN CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think he's really trying to intimidate him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen will join us, to respond, and tell us what the former President's next legal headache could be.
Also, discreet deal, Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, under renewed scrutiny, after new reporting reveals a secret real estate sale, to a Republican billionaire.
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Our Supreme Court is facing a crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Justice Thomas break the law?
And pressure mounts.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Why not just take the step and resign?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats divided over 89-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein, resigning from Senate. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I've never seen them go after a man, who was sick, in the Senate, in that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll talk to Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar, about that and more, coming up on CNN PRIMETIME.
COLLINS: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins.
Tonight, one of America's most wanted suspects, the alleged leaker of highly classified U.S. Intelligence, is now under arrest, after a massive manhunt. The FBI, taking 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, into custody, in Massachusetts, in a dramatic scene, that unfolded, with agents, carrying rifles, outside his home.
The Air National Guardsman is accused of the unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified defense information. The Feds believe that he's the one, who leaked that trove of secret documents, online, which first appeared, last month, on the social media gaming platform, Discord.
These are documents that provide insight, into U.S. intelligence activities, not just here, but worldwide, tactical information, about the war, in Ukraine, and much more. Some of them could be as recent as last month. The Pentagon says that this major breach has presented an incredibly serious risk, to national security.
Teixeira will be appearing, in court, tomorrow, in Boston, for the first time. He's an Airman First Class, which has raised major questions, of how a low-ranking member of the military had access to so much sensitive information.
Former U.S. Attorney General, Bill Barr, is here. He'll react to this, and the investigations, into his former boss, Donald Trump.
But first, I want to bring in an all-star cast of my CNN colleagues, to discuss this. Evan Perez, Abby Phillip, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, and John Miller, all here, tonight, to discuss this.
John, I want to start with you. Because, watching this play out, today, was extraordinary, with these FBI agents, outside of his home, as he backed toward them, with his hands on his head, did they have to change anything, after it was publicly reported, his identity?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Totally. I mean, this was an operation, where they set up a surveillance. They were hoping he would go to work, today. They could follow him to work, arrest him, on the base, in very controlled circumstances.
Instead, what you had was "New York Times" reporters, knocking on his door, publishing his name, out there, and open source.
COLLINS: Talking to his mom.
MILLER: News helicopter, circling over, talking to his mom.
So, at that point, they had to make a command decision, which is not what they wanted to do.
You had a suspect, in a major case, who knew that the authorities were closing in on him, who's in a house, who has been put numerous posts, online, of himself, with dozens of high-powered weapons. That's one of those situations, where if it goes this way, it's going to be fine. If it goes sideways, it could be Waco.
So, at this point, they did a surround and call-out. It's where they roll up with their armored vehicle. You see, the agents take positions, form the perimeter.
They call in and they say, "This is the FBI. We're outside. You need to come outside, right now. We're doing this, so nobody gets hurt." They instruct him how to come out. And then they say, "Once you're out the door, listen to the verbal commands of the agents," and you see him, marching backwards, into handcuffs.
But that was Plan B, not Plan A.
COLLINS: Yes. Not Plan A.
So, Evan, what happens now? He's supposed to be in court, tomorrow. Do we know what the charges are going to look like against him?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for now, all we know, is what the Attorney General said, which is essentially, the removal, the retention, and the dissemination of these national security secrets. These are classified documents. We expect that there's going to be additional charges.
And then, once he appears, in court, in Boston, he's going to be removed, to face these charges, in the Eastern District of Virginia, which is where the Pentagon is located. And that's where the case is going to be brought.
So, the importance of that is, that's a district, that's a prosecutor's office that does a lot of these cases. They handle things, having to do with the Pentagon, with the CIA. And, frankly, he's going to be facing a jury, of people, a lot of them, who are going to be former military members. So, he's going to -- he's in, for a rough time, based on what we know, of what he's accused of here.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what you're saying just reminds me of how striking this is that this is someone, who lived in Massachusetts. And that actually just highlights how diffuse of a problem this is, for the U.S. government.
You've got military bases, dozens of them, all across the country, and you have thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people, just like this guy, who have access to top secret and higher level of information. He didn't even really have a need-to-know. He just had access it seems, to the systems that had this information in it.
And you have two competing issues, here, for the national security community. One, they need to be able to share information, widely. They need to have people, to maintain those systems.
PHILLIP: And the other is that this information is very, very sensitive. And some disaffected 21-year-old, who just wants to be liked by some teenagers, online, can just decide to take it, and share it with his friends. And then, suddenly it becomes a major global national security crisis!
PEREZ: It really does highlight, like the weakness of despite all of the changes, millions of dollars that have been invested, in trying to harden the systems, right after the Edward Snowden disclosures, after Chelsea Manning, that, in the end, really, you're only as good as the people that you trust, with these systems, right?
PEREZ: And it's been known, I think John knows this very well, from his time, in the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense has always been the weak link, because it's so big.
PHILLIP: And because some of these--
PEREZ: It's so diffuse.
PHILLIP: I mean, we're talking -- you're talking about a National Guard individual.
PHILLIP: I mean, you have thousands of people--
PHILLIP: --who are at all levels of competency, in the United States military, partly because you have to.
PEREZ: By necessity, right.
PHILLIP: By necessity, people have to have different jobs. But you're not doing a real full psychological assessment, of some of these people. And this was someone who, clearly there were red flags. I mean racist and anti-Semitic language--
PHILLIP: --in his records? He still had enough of a clearance, to have access, to this information.
COLLINS: Yes. And the question that I think that poses is how all of this was sitting online, for weeks, potentially. We know it's at least been online-- PEREZ: Months.
COLLINS: --since last month, for months. And the Intelligence Community, which is pretty well-funded, didn't notice this, until it was then disseminated, from whoever was in that group, to other places, online?
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes, it seems like the one thing this has shown is, in addition to tightening up who has access, but also keeping control of classified documents, and where they are.
Because if the Mar-a-Lago documents, people, they didn't realize that things were missing, right? If that doesn't show you that they have to get a handle, on what documents are where, and who has access to them?
And getting top secret clearance isn't easy. It's a whole process. And they do, do some clearances, et cetera. So, there were some very missed signals, here, about this individual--
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: --for sure.
PEREZ: But keep in mind. I mean, Kaitlan raises a very important question, of why wasn't this detected by the systems that are in place, right? The NSA does a lot of scanning of networks.
PEREZ: But it's all aimed at external, right, external threats. By law, the FBI is not really supposed to be monitoring, some of these forums on, domestically, right? And certainly--
MILLER: And the Intelligence Community is barred by law, from doing the same thing.
PEREZ: From doing, yes.
MILLER: But I think what you're looking at here is, this is one of those situations, where his job is he's at an Intelligence installation, not just an Air Force Base.
MILLER: He is a systems engineer, a network engineer, whose job--
MILLER: --is entailed with keeping that network working and functioning, which gives him broad access--
MILLER: --across a spectrum of systems.
And the fact with, the military is, there are, what do you say, thousands of 21-year-old kids, who have, taken that oath, and who don't violate it, and who do a great job. And then, you see one of these things happen? And there's a reaction to it.
COLLINS: And you heard the Pentagon, today, saying, we entrust these people with a lot of responsibility, even at a young age.
COLLINS: Stand by everyone, because joining me now is the man, who served as the Attorney General, under Presidents George H.W. Bush, and Donald Trump, Bill Barr -- George W. Bush, I should note.
Thank you so much, Mr. Attorney General, for being here.
I want to ask you the question that we're talking about, which is how a 21-year-old Massachusetts National Air Guardsman, had access, to so much sensitive information.
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it is stunning. And it points to a problem that's endemic, in our national security structure, in Washington, D.C.
It's partly just the dissemination of information, within agencies, the idea that there's really a good reason to spread this thing out, everyone will job and -- will do a better job, if they're fully aware. And so, it's too easy to get access to this stuff.
And secondly, technology, as John was saying, plays a big role in this. The more that it's put in systems, and the more people, you have involved, in maintaining the systems, the more you're spreading around the information.
BARR: But hopefully, this will be a wake-up call. I mean, we've had a number of wake-up calls. There was the Chelsea Manning case, and so forth that involved volumes of documents.
But this should really wake people up, because this is very sensitive information. It's military information, Intelligence information, and diplomatic information. And in a point, where we're certainly not directly involved, in the conflict, but we have a lot at stake in it.
COLLINS: Yes. And it's recent information as well. I think that's what's really alarming, to a lot of National Security officials.
When he is in court, tomorrow, what kind of charges, do you think, you're going to see?
BARR: Well, primarily, it seems that from the language, used by the Attorney General, it seemed it'll be violations of the Espionage Act, the statutes that cover the handling of National Defense Information.
And I'm glad that he's going to be tried in the federal court system rather than court-martialed. And, as Evan was saying, I think the Eastern District of Virginia is the perfect place to try this case.
COLLINS: What kind of punishment, do you think, if he is charged with something from the Espionage Act, or something? I mean, does that look like life in prison? What are we talking about here?
BARR: I mean it could be effectively life in prison. Chelsea Manning got 35 years. And many people thought that that -- well, some people thought that was lenient. So, I would look for something substantially higher than that.
COLLINS: All right.
BARR: Assuming that, obviously, assuming this is the guy and he's convicted.
I also don't think that we've seen the whole picture yet. Maybe we have. But, it seems to me some of these documents, spread across social media. And it's not really clear, who was involved, in taking them, from the chat room, or whatever, it was called, on Discord, and giving it further dissemination.
And the other thing I am interested in is the Russian role in this. I mean, we didn't see it online. But apparently, the Russians may have found some of it, and, engaged in some disinformation, by changing the documents. So, I think, that is part of the story that we have to find out more about.
COLLINS: But we were just talking about the Intelligence Community, with as well-funded as it is, the fact that they didn't notice this, for so long, and that maybe potentially other adversaries noticed it beforehand? Why, in your sense of did they not notice this beforehand?
BARR: Well, I think what John said is right. I mean, there are restrictions, on monitoring U.S. outlets, and so forth.
But still, seems to me, through keywords and other things, attention should have been drawn, to discussions of current conditions, in Ukraine, and maybe someone should have looked. It was on 4Chan, for example, and -- I think. And that's an outlet that should be monitored.
COLLINS: All right, Attorney General Barr, we have a lot more to get to with you, tonight, including new revelations, about what Justice Department prosecutors, are focusing on, as they are investigating former President Trump's efforts, to overturn the 2020 election. So, standby.
Plus, we're going to go one-on-one, with Trump's Former Attorney, Michael Cohen. This is his first interview, since Trump sued him, for more than $500 million. We'll tell you how Cohen plans to fight back, ahead.
COLLINS: Former President Donald Trump is now facing mounting threats, on multiple fronts.
One week, after he was arrested, here in New York, Trump was back in Manhattan, for a deposition, today, with the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, as part of her investigation, into his business.
He is also trying to get his trial for sexual assault and defamation postponed.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney is currently weighing charges, over Trump's push, to throw out the 2020 election results, there.
And, in Washington, there are new signs that the Special Counsel's probe, into January 6, and Trump's handling of classified documents, is ramping up.
Back with me now, to discuss all of this, is Trump's former Attorney General, Bill Barr.
And welcome back.
I do want to ask you though, about the latest legal move, we've seen, from your former boss, which is filing a lawsuit, against his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to the tune of $500 million, in damages, saying that he allegedly breached his contract. Do you think there's any merit to that lawsuit?
BARR: I mean, all I've seen is newspaper reports on it. I didn't see what the substance -- I didn't detect any real substance to the lawsuit, so.
COLLINS: When I was thinking about this, today, I was reminded of what the former U.S. Attorney General, or U.S. Attorney, in the Southern District of New York, Geoff Berman, wrote about you, in his book. He said that you tried to kill investigations, into this, when it came to Michael Cohen.
He said, "When Barr took over in February 2019, he not only tried to kill the ongoing investigations but -- incredibly -- suggested that Cohen's conviction on campaign finance charges be reversed."
Is that true?
BARR: Well, first, he was -- he pled guilty, before I arrived at the Department of Justice. And I didn't kill any investigation.
But I think people did come to the conclusion that even assuming the facts, about Trump were correct, that it would not have constituted an illegal political campaign contribution. But I didn't try to kill any investigation.
And in fact, I was gone, from the Department of Justice, now, for two years. It's under the Biden administration. If they thought that there was something there, they were free to bring it. They were also free, to raise it with me. And no one ever did. COLLINS: Did you--
BARR: Of pursuing a case.
COLLINS: Did you suggest that Cohen's conviction, on campaign finance charges, be reversed?
BARR: Yes. He pled guilty. I didn't -- I felt the plea should stand.
COLLINS: I want to move on to the other investigations.
Because today, we also saw one of your former colleagues, the former Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, go and testify, before the grand jury, in D.C. that's investigating, of course, Trump's actions, on January 6.
You've said that you believe your former boss has dug himself a hole, when it comes to this investigation, and the documents investigation. What do you mean by that when it comes to the January 6 one?
BARR: Now, what I was saying was, I tried to call them, as I see them.
And there's some cases, or some legal proceedings, that I think have been unjust and unfair to Trump, including the Russiagate episode, and the New York cases, both the civil case, and the latest criminal case. I don't think they have any substance, and I think they're brought for political reasons.
But that doesn't mean everything that Trump does, he's a victim on. And I said he's frequently his own worst enemy, and he digs himself holes, and he does some things that are reckless, that are clearly going to give rise to investigations and look into them.
And that included both the documents in Mar-a-Lago, and the January 6 episode, and the events after December 14, in trying to reverse the election, when all the states had certified their votes.
COLLINS: Do you think Pence's testimony could potentially be damaging to Trump, or game-changing, for that investigation?
BARR: I mean, obviously, they have fought hard, to get the testimony of people, who are in direct contact, with Trump. And potentially, their information, their evidence, can be crucial, to making a case, if there is one to be made.
I've been a little skeptical, about them able to establish a case, on January 6. But I don't know all the facts. I've said all along, I think the more significant case, or the one that appears, to me, to be most threatening, are the Mar-a-Lago document case.
COLLINS: Why do you think that one's more threatening to him?
BARR: Because, when it first came out that he had the documents, a lot of people sort of immediately ran and said, "Why didn't the government seek him, talk to him about it? Why didn't the government subpoena it? Why did they -- why did they have the raid and so forth?" Or the search?
And it turns out, as I suggested that they jawboned him for a year and a half. They did subpoena him.
And, I think, the real question, there is not whether he kept the documents, and had them, in Mar-a-Lago, so much as once this was raised with him. And it was clear that he was being asked to return the documents, as the government's property. The games were played for quite a long time. And I think that that exposes him.
COLLINS: Do you think--
BARR: And -- yes?
COLLINS: Do you think he can be charged, on obstruction, only here? Or does there need to be an underlying crime, in your view?
BARR: I think, in this case, the underlying offense was his having these documents, which he shouldn't have had, and he was subpoenaed. And if he doesn't provide them and hides them from the government, there's both an underlying offense, and there's the offense of obstruction.
But the thing that I think actually brings this that raises this, and makes it a more significant threat is the obstruction aspect of it.
COLLINS: And do you--
BARR: And I'm not saying -- I just think there's a high risk, here. And just based on the government's conduct, here, I suspect that they have some evidence of -- that they would consider to be strong evidence of obstruction. And that's why I feel that this is probably the most threatening case.
COLLINS: What do you mean by that, based on what the government's doing here?
Do you mean because of how aggressively Jack Smith's investigation is progressing, the fact that he was able to talk to Evan Corcoran, one of Trump's defense attorneys, without the shield of attorney-client privilege?
What is it that makes you realize that it might be a serious case, for your former boss?
BARR: Well, they did puncture the attorney-client privilege, as you said, through this so-called crime-fraud, establishing before the judge, it's a crime-fraud exception, which was saying there was probable cause that there was evidence of a crime here.
So, that and just the things I read in the newspaper make me feel that there's probably a likelihood that they have people, who have cooperated, with the government, and may be able to establish that he well knew, he had not delivered all the documents, back to the government.
COLLINS: It's a pretty extraordinary case, if they do move forward with it.
If you were the Attorney General, do you think you could feel comfortable, moving forward, with indicting a former President?
BARR: Well, I think that this is the kind of case that requires a lot of discretion, prosecutorial discretion.
And one of the things that I think is appropriate to consider is, what will this do, to the body politic? The precedent it sets? And having to deal with the question of uneven justice? People will point to Hillary Clinton and so forth. And those are legitimate points to consider.
And I'm not paid the big bucks, to make that call, right now. So, I'm not going to offer my views on it.
But one of the things I've said is that the appointment of Jack Smith makes me feel that they have decided not to -- that if the facts are there, to sustain a case, that it's a supportable case that would ordinarily be indicted, that they've made the decision, to indict it, and that they're not going to tank the case, because of these discretionary considerations.
That's -- now this happened -- that was my view, before, they found President Biden had taken some documents, and Vice President Pence, and that complicates things. So, we'll see where it falls out.
But again, I do think that that's the most serious thing, facing the former President.
COLLINS: And you see the distinction, because obviously, the obstruction factor is what's at play, with Trump's situation. That's not something that's been brought up, when it comes to Biden, or when it comes to Pence.
I do want to ask you, because Trump's not just facing these investigations. Obviously, he's facing the one, here, in New York, maybe one, an indictment, in Georgia.
Do you believe that presidents and former presidents should be categorically immune, from being prosecuted, by these elected state and local prosecutors? What's your -- what's your sense of that?
BARR: Well, obviously, they're not categorically immune from it. I mean, if former President goes out, and commits a crime, in a particular state, a clear crime, then they're not immune from prosecution, simply because they're the former President.
But this is something that really is completely hanging, on a federal law, a federal offense. And this is a local prosecutor, doesn't have jurisdiction, over the federal offense, and he's basically premising on this, is that the President violated a federal law. But the President would be entitled to have that determined by a federal court and a federal jury.
And so, that's the problem here is that he's -- for clearly, I think, clearly partisan reasons, he's dredged up this offense, and is trying to bootstrap it into a felony, and go after the President with it.
And the federal government has never pursued this. Either, when I was in office, as far as -- they never brought it to me, as a potential case, against the President. And after I left, it hasn't been raised as a potential offense.
So, if the federal government is not going--
COLLINS: But wouldn't that be, because if he's a sitting president, the idea that he couldn't be indicted?
BARR: No, I said, after I left, so after the President left office, no one has -- as far as I'm aware, the Department of Justice has not pursued this case. Because, the problem with the case, technically, is that the payment of hush money is not a campaign contribution.
BARR: It's a payment of a personal expense. And the issue then becomes whether it would have been made, irrespective of the campaign. And that would be very tough to show here. So, I don't think -- I don't think it is a federal offense.
COLLINS: Yes. Well, and of course, the issue is that he had Michael Cohen make that payment.
We have Michael Cohen here. So, we'll get his perspective on that.
Former Attorney General, Bill Barr, thanks so much, for your time, tonight.
BARR: Yes, thanks.
COLLINS: As I mentioned, Michael Cohen is here. He is the key witness, against Trump, in the hush money case, the man, who made those payments, to Stormy Daniels. Now, he is being sued, by his former boss, to the tune of half a billion dollars.
This is his first interview, since that lawsuit was filed. We'll tell you what he says, next.
COLLINS: Despite Donald Trump's many swirling legal issues, he is now initiating another legal fight, suing his former attorney, and fixer, Michael Cohen, for $500 million, the suit, claiming that Cohen spread lies, and breached his contractual obligation, to Trump.
Michael Cohen is here with us now.
Part of the lawsuit is over claims that he made, in his book, "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics," as well as his podcast, "Mea Culpa." Cohen's other podcast is called "Political Beatdown."
Michael, thank you for being here.
We obviously want to talk about this lawsuit, from Trump. But you wanted to respond to what you heard, from the former Attorney General.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY, AUTHOR, "REVENGE," HOST, "MEA CULPA" PODCAST, HOST, "POLITICAL BEATDOWN" PODCAST: Yes. Someone forgot to tell the former Attorney General, that his responsibilities, as an Attorney General, is to represent the people of the United States of America, not just one man, meaning, his boss, at the time, Donald Trump.
And that's the biggest problem, because I sat and I listened to the comments, coming out of his mouth. And I'm still trying to figure out what this buffoon was talking about. It was back-and-forth circular- circular. He didn't answer a single question.
And then, of course, with the refusal of the -- what's his name, Geoffrey Berman book. And there's nobody as it comes to Geoffrey Berman's book has acknowledged that anything that the other person has said is accurate.
COLLINS: Well, he's saying the claim that he made is not true. I would argue that he did answer some questions, talking about how he views these legal cases, against his former boss.
But he also said that he thinks the lawsuit filed against you, by Trump, doesn't have any merit.
Were you surprised when Trump filed that lawsuit?
COHEN: Yes, I was surprised. Not shocked. But I was surprised.
It's part of the Trump playbook. I mean, we've used it before. He used to talk about how he had bought the action, against "The New York Times," and despite the fact that he lost that, over the course of the years? That sort of determination, that decision was used to dissuade others from that same sort of path.
But I was wondering whether Donald, at the time that he was coming up with $500 million, thought he was like Dr. Evil, putting his finger, up to his mouth, trying to think about having fun, at somebody else's expense.
COLLINS: Why do you think he did this now? Because the comments you've been saying? He's alleging you're breaching attorney-client privilege, by talking about what you also got privately and agreements you signed. Why do you think he's doing it now?
COHEN: Well, first of all, he keeps talking about some document that I signed. There is no such document.
COLLINS: You said you never signed--
COHEN: I never signed an NDA. There was a couple years back--
COLLINS: Did you sign a confidentiality agreement?
COHEN: No. When there -- there was a document series that was going around to Trump Org. I never signed it.
But more importantly, years ago, Charles Harder had, when I was putting out the book, "Disloyal," had sent a letter, cease-and-desist letter, and claimed to have attached this NDA. We had asked for it. It was never attached. It's actually not even part of the complaint. It's also missing.
COLLINS: So, you're saying that they are not going to produce any document that has your signature on it, saying you wouldn't talk about the conversations that you all had privately?
COHEN: Yes. I don't recall signing any NDA. And I would like to see the documents. So far, it has yet to be produced.
COLLINS: Do you think Trump is trying to intimidate you, or maybe others, from coming forward?
COHEN: Well that's the whole purpose of this lawsuit. It's to harass and intimidate.
It's not just to harass and intimidate me. It's also to put out a message, to everyone else, that if in fact, you following what Cohen is doing, you too will get a $500 million lawsuit, against you, which you're going to have to defend.
And, to be honest with you, the defense is expensive!
COLLINS: Are you going to be able to afford a lawsuit, like this, if it doesn't get tossed out?
COHEN: Well the answer is no. However, I was fortunate enough that American Patriots put together a GoFundMe. And it's already -- I mean, our first goal was to reach $100,000. I think we're already halfway there.
And I'll figure out how to make it work, with various different law firms, in Florida, as well as New York, even if that means that I have to start doing some of the legal work myself.
COLLINS: You would represent yourself?
COHEN: I would not represent myself as the counsel. But I can do certainly--
COLLINS: Right. COHEN: --a lot of the work. That's what I've been doing, over the course--
COLLINS: Because you've been this far, right?
COHEN: --sure, over the last--
COHEN: --couple of days. I was looking at different strategies that I would employ, what am I going to, once I ultimately get the complaint? Still hasn't been served. But once it gets served, then the clock starts running.
I can look at maybe doing a Rule 12 or Rule 16 motion, and force an immediate deposition. We can file an answer. We can go ahead, make a motion for summary judgment, or a dismissal.
There's many different strategies. And I'm trying to figure out which one will put me in the best situation, and him, in the, obviously, the worst.
COLLINS: Given, you're a former attorney what would be the basis, for your motion, to dismiss?
COHEN: Actually, I don't want to talk about it, only because I haven't come up with a strategy yet. And once they do, I'll come back and I'll let you know.
COLLINS: So, why talk about it publicly, if you haven't come up with a strategy yet?
COHEN: Well, I'm not the one who came up. I was sitting in my room, watching television, when my phone started to blow up, telling me that--
COHEN: --"Donald just signed a $500 million lawsuit. He just filed a $500 million dollar lawsuit against you. Do you have a comment?"
I said, "He did what?"
COLLINS: That's how you found out?
COLLINS: From reporters?
COLLINS: When the Trump campaign, and Trump world, found out that you were coming on, to talk about this, they sent a statement, saying "Michael Cohen has zero credibility. Any and all statements made by him about President Trump and others should be disregarded as the rantings of a deeply troubled, jealous and sad individual, who is clearly trying to rehabilitate his image by selling what's left of his soul through lies and deception."
What's your response?
COHEN: I think he's deflecting. I think he's actually referring to himself. He probably had that written, while looking at himself in the mirror.
I heard the same stupidity, when Bob Costello, after he was before the grand jury, came out in front of the gaggle, and said basically the same thing.
These -- this is Donald Trump's playbook, use the same lines over and over again, "Rat," "Convicted perjurer," "Felon," "No credibility," this is how Donald Trump plays. And I know the playbook, because I wrote part of it. And I know exactly what he's doing in advance.
It's very sad to see that these are the -- this is the language, coming from a former President, a guy who's, right now, allegedly leading the Republican Party, wanting to be the 47th President of the United States. You see the comments that come out on Truth Social.
COHEN: So, before he wants to attack my credibility? So far, everything has turned out to be exactly right. District Attorney, here in New York, grand jury ended up indicting, based upon not just my testimony, but multiple people's testimony.
COLLINS: Can I push you on something, though? Because, for those of us, who have covered Trump, and therefore know -- knew for a long time? It's still stunning, even after all these years, to see the, disconnect between the two of you. This -- lawsuits. You've filed lawsuits against him that were dismissed. He's now filing the lawsuit against you.
COHEN: I'm sorry, what case did I file that's been dismissed?
COLLINS: When you filed the suit against Trump, and Barr, and just the U.S. generally, when you went back to--
COHEN: It's -- it's on appeal.
COLLINS: --when you went back to prison, after you wrote the book.
COHEN: It's on appeal.
And it's not dismissed, because it lacked veracity. It was dismissed because, based on the Dobb (ph) decision, Bivens was overturned. Had nothing to do.
COLLINS: But how did your--
COHEN: Including Judge Liman's own determination--
COLLINS: But back to my point?
COHEN: --in that decision was that he agrees--
COHEN: --100 percent that what they did to me, the unconstitutional remain, of a United States citizen, by the former Attorney General, with the help of the DOJ, is wrong. However, it was out of his hands, because of the Bivens decision.
COLLINS: OK. But that was because you wrote your book. We'll let that legal process play out.
But my point is, how did this relationship, between the two of you go, from what it once was, to the point where it is now?
COHEN: That's a great question. I mean, I think, unfortunately, the last person that's in Donald Trump's ear controls his brain. And somebody sat there, whispering into his ear that we need to -- we need to make Michael Cohen, into the scapegoat.
And when I ultimately realized? For example, when Bob Costello was trying to become part of my legal defense team, after the raid, on my home, the hotel and so on? I realized that I'm going to be Donald's scapegoat.
And I would never allow history, to remember me, as Donald Trump's -- as responsible for Donald Trump's Dirty Deeds. It wasn't going to happen.
COLLINS: My last question. This lawsuit references, the books, the podcast, your public appearances.
When I read the transcript of when Trump was arrested, the judge himself was also concerned about not just what Trump is saying on Truth Social, but witnesses, speaking publicly.
You speak publicly, often, after you testified to the grand jury. You come on television a lot. Do you worry that you could hurt the case that you're out there, so publicly, talking about it that it could be damaging?
COHEN: No, because nothing that I've come on television, and talked about, references any of the conversations, or any of the information that either I discussed with the grand jury, or the District Attorney.
COLLINS: Michael Cohen, we'll see what your next step is, in this lawsuit. Thank you so much for joining us, tonight.
COHEN: Good to see you.
COLLINS: All right. It is arguably the biggest media trial, switching to a different legal story, here, of the century. The jury almost seated in Dominion's defamation case, against Fox News. Tonight, there are brand new tapes that have been revealed. We'll play them for you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COLLINS: Opening statements, in the $1.6 billion defamation trial, against Fox News, are expected to start Monday.
A Delaware judge wrapping up questioning of prospective jurors, today, Judge Eric Davis, speaking to the individuals, privately, asking questions, like whether or not they regularly watched Fox.
Today's hearing also included previously-undisclosed audio, featuring conversations, between the Fox News host, Maria Bartiromo, and former Trump attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
This is that audio.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: What about this software, this Dominion software?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: That's a little harder---
GIULIANI: --to tell you, right? It's being -- it's being analyzed right now. I mean, there are a couple of races that have been reversed because the Democrat was triple-counted, two, two already in Michigan. Now, whether that applies for the whole state or not, I can't tell you yet. But I can -- but I can tell you that, we---
GIULIANI: We have more than---
BARTIROMO: Go ahead.
GIULIANI: We have more than enough unobserved ballots in Michigan and in Pennsylvania to overthrow the election.
BARTIROMO: OK. Perfect. And then, this Dominion software, does Nancy Pelosi have an interest in it?
GIULIANI: Yes, I've read that. I can't prove that.
COLLINS: CNN's Oliver Darcy joins our conversation, now.
Oliver, I mean, these tapes, they're saying essentially, that they were not brought forward soon enough.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: And that's the problem for Fox, is the judge is losing patience, and doesn't think that the Network has been full -- forthcoming and fully transparent. And there's a number of things that has led him to believe that.
But he is now appointed a Special Master, to investigate whether Fox has misled the court, and whether they withheld some evidence.
Abby Grossberg, the source of that audio recording amended--
COLLINS: She was the producer for Maria--
COLLINS: Maria Bartiromo online?
DARCY: Right, at one point. She amended her lawsuit. She's also suing the Network. It's getting a little complicated. But she amended her lawsuit, earlier this week, to also accuse Fox lawyers, of deleting messages, from her phone. And, of course, she has accused them, of trying to coerce her, during her Dominion depositions.
And so, this is a big mess, for Fox, doesn't look good for them. And it's really impacting this case, going forward. These cases are sort of colliding, right now.
COLLINS: Abby, what do you make of this, on the eve of the trial, as this is about to begin, the fact that now the judge is so clearly frustrated, with the Fox attorneys, citing them, obviously, that is not what you want to happen, right before you're about to go to trial.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it's clearly terrible for Fox.
And I think that it does seem to suggest, if it is true, that they had access to these tapes, and simply omitted them, as part of the evidence, it suggests that they're trying to prevent potentially damaging evidence, from being a part of this case. And that is not going to bode well, for them, in this trial.
We'll see if the jury gets to take that into consideration, as they look at all of this.
But we're a couple of days away now, from this whole thing starting. And it's been actually just bad news after bad news after bad news for Fox.
It's hard to see here, what their case is going to be, to claim that this was sort of inadvertent, when it seems like so many of their anchors, were actually going to these sources, trying to get evidence of voter fraud, and then being told that there was none, and then going on television, and claiming that there was fraud, and lying to the audience.
COLLINS: Yes. Karen, what do you make of what the potential jurors were being asked, today? Questions like, "Do you personally know or have an opinion on Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, or Mike Lindell," the Pillow guy? "Have you ever served as an Election Judge or volunteered at a polling place?" "Have you ever had any capacity in connection with the 2020 election besides voting?"
What do you make of those? What do you read into that?
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Those are typical jury questions that you would ask, in a case like this, because you want to get somebody -- obviously, everybody's heard of the election, and Donald Trump, and Rudy Giuliani, et cetera, and Fox News.
But you want to take out people, who are going to be biased, one way or another. You're really just looking for people, who are fair and impartial. And so, those are the types of questions you would ask jurors, to try and weed out the ones that have an agenda, or have a bias.
COLLINS: John, what are your thoughts?
MILLER: I mean, when you hear a tape, like this, where, people don't necessarily know they're being recorded, and they're having a candid conversation? You see something, where this now in and of itself has meaning.
But when you match it with the other things that Oliver has told us about, which is there are emails, where Fox executives are saying, "We've got to stop with this fake elections, stolen stuff, or Dominion voting machines stuff."
There's one from Abby Grossberg, who supplies this tape, after this show, where they have Sidney Powell, the lawyer on, where she sends a message, saying, "We're not doing any fact-checking on this, on today's broadcast."
When you marry all these things together, they raise a question. And the question is? "This is what they're saying on email. And this is what they're saying on tape. Were there two Fox Newses?" One, where they lived in the office, in the sphere of reality, where they ask questions? And another, where they played a different role, on TV, sticking, with the script, which followed a certain agenda?
MILLER: And that's what this case is going to be all about.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: And don't forget the judge already found that they lied. That's -- that is taken off the table. It's just whether they had actual malice. So, did they know, or had reason to know, or recklessly disregarded the truth?
COLLINS: Yes. FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: This is just -- they already took out the first question, from the jury.
COLLINS: It's the intent. We'll see. I mean, it's going to be fascinating.
Oliver, you'll be spending a lot of time in Delaware, potentially.
Oliver, Abby, Karen, and John, thank you all for being here.
Up next, tonight, on CNN, "Dirty Jobs'" Mike Rowe, and Jordan Klepper are going to join, our friend, Alisyn Camerota, and her panel, to talk about the rise of AI, Artificial Intelligence, and what it means, for our future.
Next, here tonight, the Justice Department is now asking the Supreme Court, to step in, after a judge's ruling, to halt an abortion pill. Senator Amy Klobuchar is going to join us next, to talk about the fight.
COLLINS: Less than a year, after the Supreme Court, overturned Roe versus Wade, justices may be preparing to take on another major abortion case. The Justice Department, announcing today, it is going to take emergency -- an emergency dispute, over medication abortion drugs, to the High Court.
I'm joined now, by the Senate Judiciary Committee member, Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota.
Thanks so much for being here, tonight, Senator.
What do you expect the Supreme Court is going to do here?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Kaitlan.
When I look at the law, and the facts, of this case, I don't understand how they could let this ruling, from one judge, in Amarillo, Texas, stand.
It then goes, as you know, today, a surprise ruling, in the Fifth Circuit, where they actually maybe narrowed a little, but it is still absolutely absurd, opposed by the American Medical Association.
Why? Because now as it stands, these two Trump judges, on the Fifth Circuit, in addition to the one Trump judge, in Amarillo, said this.
The two Trump judges said, "OK, well, you are not going to be able, women of America, to use the drug, Mifepristone, that's used in half of the abortions, in this country, for 10 weeks. You can only use it for seven, in our non-medical judgment. And two other things. You can't get it in the mail, and you can't get it in the pharmacies." That's what they said. So, that is the case that now goes to the Supreme Court. They have one day, to stop this, from taking effect, for a huge number of states, in this country, a huge number of women, in this country.
And there is a way, for them, at least, for now, to get out of this. And that is by simply saying the truth, which is the people that brought this case, a very small number of doctors, do not have, what we call, standing.
They are not hurt now. And they're not going to be hurt in the future by this case. And they should not be able to bring this case. And therefore, you are not going to stop this drug being available for the whole country.
COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what they decide.
But some of your colleagues have said, if it does stand that, the FDA should ignore this ruling. Do you think that they should?
KLOBUCHAR: I believe in the rule of law. And the first thing, you see happening, is that the Justice Department is fighting this, tooth and nail, aggressively bringing this case.
And let's remember another thing about the rule of law. We've got another case out of Washington State, which covers 17 states, and the District of Columbia, which covers, my State of Minnesota, which has an entirely different ruling. And that judge said he's not listening to the Fifth Circuit. He has made his own case.
So, this is all going to end up in the Supreme Court. But I believe the answer is to aggressively fight it, in the court, instead of ignoring the rule of law.
COLLINS: And you mentioned these judges. Judge Kacsmaryk was that judge, in Amarillo, Texas, a Trump-appointee.
All of this has really highlighted the importance of judges. And this has become a big topic, on Capitol Hill, with increasing pressure, on one of your colleagues, Senator Dianne Feinstein, to resign.
She's been absent from the Senate. She is missing key votes, and holding up judges, who need to get confirmed, according to Democrats, but can't without her vote.
Do you think she should resign?
KLOBUCHAR: Let's unpack this. The first thing that happened today was very significant. She announced that she was going to be not continuing her duties, on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That is where the big rub is, right now, because, you are right. It has slowed us down, from getting judges through. And she is going to allow Senator Schumer, to appoint someone else, in her place, for that committee.
Now, there are some procedural things, like we need 60 votes. So, we're going to need 10 Republicans, to go along with this. But if history is any guide, my hope is that they will. So, that's the first thing that has to happen.
The second is that she is still recovering from shingles. It, according to her, it's taken longer than she thought. But, at some point, she needs to come back. And that is going to be something we'll be dealing with, if she doesn't come back. But I'm going to take her at her word that she's going to come back.
But if it goes on and on and on and on, then we're down one vote, in the Senate. In what is still only a one-vote margin, that becomes a whole different issue that I think she's going to have to make serious decision, at that point, because when you have such a close vote, in the Senate, then you do need to have all the votes, there.
And people may be gone.
Talked to Senator Fetterman, today. He's in great spirits. He's coming back, Monday. He's doing so well.
KLOBUCHAR: People sometimes are gone, on both Republican and Democratic side, including Senator McConnell, who's also coming back. We know that. But you can't leave the seat vacant for that long.
COLLINS: Yes. He announced he's coming back, on Monday.
But -- and obviously shingles is incredibly painful. We think of that.
But if she can't fulfill her duties, on the Judiciary Committee, she's temporarily stepping aside from that, do you have confidence that she can continue to fulfill her constitutional duties, as the Senator, from California?
KLOBUCHAR: Well I'm hopeful that she can.
Again, I want to see what happens, in the next month or so. You give her that time, to be able to come back.
But if she can't come back, month after month after month, with this close Senate? That's not just going to hurt California. It's going to be an issue, for the country.
So, we take her at her word, she's coming back. Let's see what that date is, and what date she tells Senator Schumer. But for now, she really made the right decision, to step aside, from the committee.
As a member, of the Committee, I know we have a number of judges, and we have bills, legislation that we have to, what we have call, markup--
KLOBUCHAR: --and get through the committee.
COLLINS: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar, we're out of time, tonight. But thank you for your time, tonight. Thanks for joining us.
Thank you to all of you.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota, starts, right now.