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The Situation Room

Interview With Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Trump Rally Crowd Chants 'Send Her Back'; Michael Cohen Documents Unsealed; After Stoking Anger At Rally And Launching Racist Attack On Congresswoman, Trump Tries To Disavow Chants Of Send Her Back; Newly Released Search Warrants Show FBI Believed Trump Was Directly Involved In Stormy Daniels Hush Money Scheme; One Hundred Fifty Million in 30 States Face Potentially Deadly Heat Wave; Puerto Rico Labor Movement, Unions Call For More Protests. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And spoke at least twice on the phone with Cohen the day he paid off Stormy Daniels.

Running on hate. President Trump tries to distance himself from the disturbing chants of "Send her back" that erupted at his rally, as the crowd echoed his racist attacks on a Democratic congresswoman.

The debate draw. Tonight, CNN will draw names for the lineup of the new Democratic presidential debates live, providing full transparency, as we learn which candidates will face off against whom.

And record heat. Dangerous and potentially deadly high temperatures are roasting much of the U.S., along with soaring humidity, expected to last into the weekend. Tonight, more than 150 million people in 30 states are sweltering.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news, newly revealed details of President Trump's role in the hush money scheme to silence women who say they had an affair with him.

Federal search warrants that have been just released show the FBI believed then candidate Donald Trump worked directly with his former lawyer Michael Cohen to cover up the alleged affairs just before the 2016 election.

And, tonight, the president is disavowing the disturbing chants at his rally last night, where the crowd echoed his attack on an African- American congresswoman, yelling, "Send her back." The president now says he disagrees with the chant and that he thinks he tried to stop it, when, in fact, he let it go on for 13 seconds.

We will talk about the breaking news, much more, with Senator Richard Blumenthal of the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, stunning details about the hush money scheme in those unsealed warrants.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Wolf.

And this flurry of documents do reveal this flurry of communication in those frantic days leading up to the 2016 election, and also the fact that FBI agents, in reviewing these texts and calls, they now believe that the president played a direct role in trying to keep at least one woman quiet about this alleged affair.

And the man at the center of it all, this middleman, Michael Cohen, he, of course, is now serving three years in prison for his role in this cover-up.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, newly disclosed details in a federal search warrant show the FBI believed President Trump was directly involved in the decision right before the election to pay off Stormy Daniels, who alleged having a sexual relationship with him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab 'em by the pussy.

SCHNEIDER: After the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape, the FBI said Trump's team was fearful more allegations would derail Trump's chances of being elected.

So Trump's lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, began working to buy the women's silence. In granular detail, the search warrants, which a judge ordered be fully released today, show the timing of phone calls between Cohen, Trump and other players, including Trump's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks.

The most damning are a series of calls on October 26, the day Cohen orchestrated a $130,000 hush money payment to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who was threatening to go public with allegations of a sexual affair with the now president.

The warrant shows Trump spoke at least twice on the phone with Michael Cohen that day. Thirty minutes after speaking to Trump, Cohen called his bank, opened a new account, and transferred the money needed to pay off Daniels. All the while, Cohen was in communication with the porn star's lawyer, giving him wiring instructions.

That timing is key, experts say, because prosecutors have said Cohen acted in coordination with and at the direction of Trump when he made the payments, an act that is illegal under federal campaign finance laws.

Michael Cohen is now in prison, after pleading guilty to violating those laws. But Trump has not been charged, and guidelines from the Department of Justice prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.

Sources familiar with the investigation say prosecutors are unlikely to charge any Trump Organization executives. While the president's lawyers declared victory, saying they were "pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed," the decision drew a fiery rebuke from Cohen today, who said from prison that the conclusion of the investigation without other charges -- quote -- "should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice."

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: The president of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.

SCHNEIDER: Cohen has repeatedly said the president was directly involved in the payment scheme, something the president denied last year.

QUESTION: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No.


QUESTION: Then why did Michael -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you will have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you will have to ask Michael Cohen.

QUESTION: And do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know.

SCHNEIDER: Four months later, the president changed his story, saying he only knew about Daniels' payout after it happened.

QUESTION: Did you know about the payments?

TRUMP: Later on, I knew, later on.


SCHNEIDER: And we're also seeing text messages between Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks for the first time when they talked about that "Wall Street Journal" story concerning Karen McDougal. Wolf, it turns out, in those text messages, their concern soon turned

to celebration when they actually realized that that story was not getting much traction in the media. Those were the claims, of course, that Karen McDougal made about having an affair with the president.

And, Wolf, we have also learned tonight that the House Judiciary Committee will be looking into the statements that Hope Hicks has already made, looking into the truthfulness of those statements. Hope Hicks has told my colleague Sara Murray that everything that she said was truthful.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed.

Jessica Schneider, thanks for that report.

Now to the White House, where President Trump is walking back on the shocking chant that broke out at his rally last night.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, as the president launched new attacks on African-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the crowd started screaming, "Send her back."


And President Trump is now gaslighting himself out of this mess that he started with his racist tweets. Today, the president claimed he tried to put a stop to the "Send her back" chants coming from his crowd in North Carolina last night. But that's not true.

Unlike the president, the video does not lie.


ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is finding out there's no going back after "Send her back."

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back!

ACOSTA: The president tried to fudge his way around accusations that he didn't do enough to stop chants of "Send her back" aimed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at his rally in North Carolina.

TRUMP: I felt a little bit badly about it, but I will say this. I did and I started speaking very quickly.

ACOSTA: But that's not true. Watch the video. The president paused and allowed the chants to continue for a full 13 seconds as he attacked Omar.

TRUMP: And, obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

TRUMP: And she talked about the evil Israel and its all about the Benjamins. Not a good thing to say.

ACOSTA: Pressed on the chant, the president pointed the finger at his own crowd.

TRUMP: I disagree with it, but, again, I didn't say -- I didn't say that. They did.

ACOSTA: But hold on. The crowd was essentially echoing the president's racist tweet from earlier in the week, when he told four Democratic women of color to go back to where they came from.

Asked a second time about the chants, the president praised his audience, then blasted the congresswomen once again.

TRUMP: These are people that love our country. I want them to keep loving our country. And I think the congresswomen, by the way, should be more positive than they are. The congresswomen have a lot of problems.

ACOSTA: But the president's targets aren't holdings back either, as Omar accused Mr. Trump of fascism.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): I believe he is fascist. This is not about me. This is about us fighting for what this country truly should be and what it deserves to be.

ACOSTA: While Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the president is playing with fire.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): His rhetoric is endangering lots of people. This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country.

ACOSTA: Top Republicans are backing the president.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I did talk to somebody who was there. He said it was a small group off to the side. What the president did, the president did not join in. The president moved on.

ACOSTA: Senator Lindsey Graham said the president is just fighting back against his critics.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you're a Somali refugee wearing a MAGA hat, he doesn't want to send you back.

ACOSTA: Graham was asked why Mr. Trump didn't control his crowd the same way the late Senator John McCain corrected one of his supporters who attacked Barack Obama in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's an Arab. He is not?



MCCAIN: No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that's what this campaign is all about.

GRAHAM: I don't remember anybody treating President John McCain the way they're treating Trump. I don't remember John McCain having to go through this crap every day all the time.



ACOSTA: And the White House is encouraging its allies to stay focused in their attacks on the four Democratic congresswomen who are being targeted by the president.

But we're told some of the administration's surrogates are very concerned about the chants from last night's rally. At one Trump adviser put it to me earlier today, Wolf, the chants were -- quote -- "gross."

BLITZER: What are you learning, Jim, about the U.S. targeting of an Iranian drone?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.

Just a short while ago, the president revealed that the USS Boxer downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. According to U.S. defense officials talking to CNN, this happened after that drone came within about 1,000 yards of the USS Boxer, and that the drone was downed using electronic jamming.

That is the initial information coming from the Defense Department at this point, Wolf. But we should point out it is early on in this incident. And, of course, it comes as the president is trying to get out of this controversy over those racist tweets -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

The "Send her back" chant is worrying a lot of Republicans, but few are willing to publicly criticize the president over it.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, so, how are Republicans reacting?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, once again, Wolf, the president putting his party on Capitol Hill in a very difficult spot, an awkward spot, a party that has grown weary of defending the president or sidestepping about all the controversies that are emerging, the aftermath of those racist tweets from over the weekend. Republicans thought they were past all of that, but after the "Send

her back" chants, it brought the issue back into the news. And today on Capitol Hill, some Republicans defended the president. Others sidestepped questions and would not respond to multiple inquiries about the matter.

And others said the president should disavow those comments.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): People need to respect America. If folks just want to be critics of this country, this isn't Cuba. You have a right to leave if you don't like it.

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): I don't think it's something that should be said. I think the president should make sure the next time a chant like that happens at one of his rallies, he puts an end to it.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You know, honestly, guys, I have said all I want to say on this subject.

RAJU: Senator, was it appropriate for people at the Trump rally to chant "Send her back" to Congresswoman Omar?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I didn't get a chance to see it.


RAJU: So in a closed-door breakfast this morning, some House Republicans raised their concerns directly to the vice president, Mike Pence, saying that this kind of rhetoric at the rallies, "Send her back," should not be repeated.

And, privately, some Republicans also raising those concerns, but, Wolf, some member Republicans who are up for reelection in 2020 did everything they could not to get on the bad side of the president, not wanting to embrace these remarks, but also not wanting to criticize him.

Joni Ernst there, as we showed, who's up for reelection in 2020, did not want to respond to questions. Neither did Martha McSally, another vulnerable Republican in the key state of Arizona, did not want to answer questions directly when I asked her, just completely ignored them in the hallways of the Capitol, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting.

Manu, you heard Jessica Schneider just mention a few moments ago that House Democrats may now scrutinize the testimony of former White House aide Hope Hicks. What else can you tell us about that?

RAJU: Yes.

In the aftermath of those FBI documents revealing that she -- that there was a phone call after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out about the alleged hush -- about Stormy Daniels, there were questions whether or not Hope Hicks was truthful to the House Judiciary Committee.

She was asked by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee last month behind closed doors whether she was ever present for any conversation between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump about Stormy Daniels. She said no on multiple occasions.

She also said she relayed information to the press that there was no affair between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels based on information that was dictated to her.

And I'm told, Wolf, that they are going to examine this information, this testimony, and perhaps will have follow-up questions for her in the days ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thanks very much, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

We're going to talk about the disturbing chant at the president's rally and more with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He's a member of the Judiciary and Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for coming in.


BLITZER: All right, so, do you believe that this chant that we heard at the political rally, "Send her back," was any different than the president's tweet earlier, when he told Congresswoman Omar, go back to where you came from?

BLUMENTHAL: They were the president's own words. They were not original to that group.

And, in fact, Donald Trump gloried in them. He allowed the chant to continue until it died down on its own. And he owns that chant.

BLITZER: You know, he's now trying to distance himself from that chant, "Send her back," but he actually praised the people at the rally who chanted it. And he says, they love our country.

So what's to stop this from happening again?

BLUMENTHAL: Nothing is to stop it from happening again. In fact, it's part of a pattern, "There are good people on both sides," after the Charlottesville murder.


And there are abundant evidence that he will glory in it again if it occurs. So I think it's time for my Republican colleagues to stand up and speak out.

BLITZER: Well, what do you say to your Republican colleagues who are defending the president? BLUMENTHAL: What I say to them is, I know it's hard, but we're at a

pivotal moment in history. The president is indeed playing with fire. This issue is as volatile and vile as it ever gets. And you have a duty to our country. You will be judged by history.

BLITZER: Do they say anything differently to you in private than we're hearing publicly?

BLUMENTHAL: Their take on Donald Trump is totally different in private.

Many are deeply repulsed by it. And they have to face the historic obligation that they have.

And we both know the poll numbers show the Republican Party is firmly under Donald Trump's control. They're behind him. That's why it takes courage and grit to stand up.

BLITZER: Let's get to the other major news we're following today, these new documents released in New York by the FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, these warrants involving the Michael Cohen investigation. He's serving a three-year prison sentence.

What does it tell you about President Trump's role, his involvement in these hush money payments?

BLUMENTHAL: Donald Trump lied to the American people. He not only knew about those payments. He directed Michael Cohen to do them.

In fact, there is abundant evidence to convict Donald Trump of many of the same crimes that Michael Cohen is serving years in prison for committing. And he would be, in fact, in handcuffs and a criminal defendant but for his being a sitting president of the United States and there being a Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

BLITZER: So you think, if he loses his bid for reelection, he potentially could be indicted?

BLUMENTHAL: Very potentially could be indicted.

BLITZER: Once he's a private citizen?

BLUMENTHAL: Once he's a private citizen, no longer in the White House, he would be the same as anyone else, subject to the criminal laws of the United States and potentially indictable.

BLITZER: But is that realistic, you think, that they would go ahead and indict a former president of the United States over this issue?

BLUMENTHAL: Whether he will be is a different question. He could be, certainly.

And this evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed many of the same crimes that Michael Cohen was convicted of committing. BLITZER: You tweeted just a little while ago: "Congress must hold

public hearings about this criminal scheme to know about all his lies and criminal wrongdoing and whether the White House or Attorney General Barr has interfered in any way in this investigation."

Tell us what you're getting at.

BLUMENTHAL: What I'm getting at is Attorney General Barr's responses to me and others at the hearing we conducted on his confirmation.

He gave no firm commitment that he would not be in contact with the Southern District of New York, that he wouldn't exercise that he called supervision. For me, that raises questions about whether or not he may have influenced in some way the outcome here.

BLITZER: On a different subject, but still a very important subject, you're heading with a congressional delegation tomorrow to the southern border with Mexico.

What do you hope to accomplish?

BLUMENTHAL: We're going to be traveling to the border to see detention facilities, holding cells, the hygienic and nutritional treatment of these children, and trying to make sure that basic standards of humanity are satisfied.

And we have legislation that would enforce those kinds of standards, end separation, provide for toothbrushes and three meals a day. We want to give the voices and faces of those caregivers, the relief agencies, as well as the Border Patrol agencies, an opportunity to be heard and seen on Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal, thanks for coming in.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

BLITZER: We will speak to you after you come back from the border.

BLUMENTHAL: Wonderful.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

Also tonight, we find out which candidates will face each other in the next Democratic presidential debate here on CNN. We are going to be getting a preview of the draw.

Plus, more breaking news, a searing heat wave gripping much of the country right now. Tonight, we have a new forecast.



BLITZER: We're about an hour-and-a-half or so away from finding out which Democratic candidates will face off on each night of the next presidential debates. The draw for the CNN Democratic debates will take place live here

tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Our political director, David Chalian, is here with a preview.

So, first of all, David, tell us how this is going to work.


So, the challenge here was 20 Democratic candidates have qualified for this debate, the largest amount of Democrats that we have seen on a debate stage. And so we need to divide them equally between two nights of debating, Wolf.

So, we are going to have a random draw. It's going to happen in three different sections. I will get to that in a moment. During each draw, there is going to be a shuffling of names in one box and a shuffling of dates in the other.

And then there will be a draw, a random draw, of an anchor at CNN reaching into the box, pulling out a name, reaching into the date box, pulling out July 30 or 31, and matching them up. And we will go through all of the candidates.

BLITZER: Why will there be three separate draws?

CHALIAN: We wanted to ensure that we were spreading equally between the two nights where these candidates are in the polls, where Democratic voters are supporting them right now, their strength of support.


And what we saw in the first debate, remember, four of the top five ended up on one debate night, and only Elizabeth Warren was alone in the top five candidates on a debate night basically of our own.

So we wanted to do our best to avoid that and ensure we were equally distributing across the entire field.

So we have one draw. The first draw is going to be 10 candidates, they're the ones that are polling a little lower right now. Then there's going to be a middle section draw for six candidates. They will split evenly, three and three between the two nights.

And then, finally, there will be the final draw, the top four candidates. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders will split equally, two and two, between the two nights.

BLITZER: Among the possible pairings, what kind of dynamics are you looking for?

CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, this is so fascinating to see what will -- who will end up on a stage with whom?

You do have -- Biden and Harris obviously had a very heated interaction in the last debate. Some people are watching, is there going to be a rematch this time around? Do they end up on this same debate stage?

Biden and Sanders, they have been going at it over health care for the last week. I'm curious to see if those two guys end up on the stage together and actually battle that out in front of the American public on a debate stage.

And remember, like I said, Elizabeth Warren, last time around, for the top tier, she had a stage to herself. Now she's going to be with another close competitor. And I want to see what that dynamic is, who she ends up with, and how she contrasts herself with that candidate.

BLITZER: Lots at stake tonight.

CHALIAN: No doubt.

BLITZER: You be here. I will be here. We will be watching it very, very closely.

David Chalian, thanks very much.

And watch the draw for the CNN Democratic presidential debates right here tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

The breaking news continues next, President Trump disavowing the chant at his rally that echoes his own racist attacks on minority congresswomen. Is he trying to have it both ways?

Plus, more on the stunning details revealed in unsealed court documents today about President Trump's role in covering up an alleged affair with a porn star.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Breaking news tonight. President Trump now claiming that he's unhappy about the chant at his rally last night that echoes his own racist attacks on minority congresswomen. Let's dig deeper with our experts and analysts.

And, David Swerdlick, let me play the clip. For those of our viewers who didn't see it, watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Omar has a history of launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back.


BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, the President now says he disagrees with that chant. But on Sunday, David, he Tweeted that Congresswoman Omar and the squad, the other congresswomen, should, quote, go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Is that chant that we heard any different?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It's just the sort of the second stanza of the Trump poem or the second movement of the Trump pale. He basically came out with the go back to Africa or your S-hole on Sunday, and now, his supporters at the rally basically have permission to do that just go back or send them back chant when he's giving that speech. And, of course, it gave them a good 10, 12 seconds to air it out.

I will just note too in that clip you played, Wolf, he said that Congresswoman Omar had a history of anti-Semitic statements. I do think her, for instance, Benjamin's Tweet was anti-Semitic, but the President also has his own anti-Semitic statement. For instance, at the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015, he said I'm a negotiator like you folks. You're not going to support me because I don't want your money. You want to control your politicians, that's fine. That to me is like a, all about the Benjamins, Tweet.

BLITZER: You know, April, the crowd started to chant after a long rant from the President about Congresswoman Omar and the others, the President praised the crowd today. He said they love our country. Can the President really have it both ways?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, not with media and not with us replaying what actually happened. In his mind, he may want to believe that. But when you have people like the Head of the Congressional Black Caucus saying you should have denounced it right away being the President of the United States versus looking like a white nationalist. I mean, those are some strong words from the Head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass.

But he wants to say now that if indeed something happens again, you know, he said, certainly, I will try to stop it. But let's see what happens, because we need to see how this plays in his base and if he's gaining momentum or if he's lost momentum. That's how the President basically carries on his day, if this plays well. And, unfortunately, he said again, as we've talked about this week, he enjoys this fight.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, what does the response tell you about the state of the Republican Party right now and what President Trump can get away with looking ahead to 2020?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The Republican Party is Donald Trump's party, period, end of paragraph. He's got 85 percent popularity at least in the Republican Party, it is all about Donald Trump and I think he can get away with just about anything in the Republican Party.


When you saw republicans twisting themselves into pretzels, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Oh, I didn't see that, I didn't hear that, I can't talk about that, I didn't see that. And then, privately, they are calling the White House, they're meeting at the White House and saying, did you have to do that? It creates a problem for me. And then you see the President allegedly disavowing, because I'm not sure that it was, in the very least, at all a disavowal.

RYAN: I was in the Oval Office. He said it.

BORGER: He said it. But remember back in 2016, he also said at first that he didn't like the lock her up chants. Well, hello, that continued. So we'll have to see, as you were saying, how this plays out.

But this is Donald Trump's Republican Party. And nobody wants to cross him because he is so popular. And if they do, they'll get primaried on the right and they're not willing to do that.

BLITZER: I want Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in. We just got some video, Jeffrey, of Congresswoman Omar returning back home in Minnesota. Watch this. We can watch it together.


CROWD: Welcome home, Ilhan. Welcome home, Ilhan. Welcome home, Ilhan. Welcome home, Ilhan. Welcome home Ilhan.


BLITZER: All right. You hear a very warm welcome, welcome home, Ilhan. Go ahead and give us your analysis.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, this is something we've never seen in American politics before. I mean, George Wallace camouflaged his racism a lot better when he ran for president in 1968 and 1972 than Donald Trump has in the past two weeks. I mean, there's just no more pre-tense anymore. I mean, that's -- you know, we're going to have an election in a year-and-a- half about whether someone who is, by any definition, an out-and-out racist is going to be re-elected President of the United States. And I don't know what the answer to that is going to be. I don't know what the results of the election is going to be. But I do know that's what's at stake.

And there's just no -- you know, when he ran the first time, you could say, oh, well, that was just him and, you know, he's not really a racist. Now, it's all out in the open and people are going to have a chance to vote which way they want to go.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by because there's more we need to discuss, and we will, right after this quick break.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. Newly unsealed search warrants show the FBI believed President Trump worked directly with his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on hush money payments and that he and top campaign aides scrambled along with Michael Cohen to cover up his alleged affair with a porn star.

Jeffrey Toobin, what can you tell us looking at these new documents just released today about the pattern of communication involving hush money payments that occurred?

TOOBIN: You know, it's really amazing to sort of take a step back and look at all the evidence. The Department of Justice has said that this money to Stormy Daniels was an illegal campaign contribution. Okay. Well, whose money was it? Well, ultimately, it was Donald Trump's money. He paid Michael Cohen to -- you know, he reimbursed Michael Cohen, who benefited from that illegal campaign contribution. It was Donald Trump because he was the one running for president. And who directed that the money be paid? That word was used by the Department of Justice in a court filing.

But who's in prison because of this campaign -- illegal campaign contribution? Michael Cohen? Why? I mean, it just seems so crazily unjust that Michael Cohen is prosecuted an Donald Trump isn't. I just can't -- I can't fathom how this worked out.

BLITZER: You know, the Justice Department guidelines say that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Are you surprised that no one else is being charged?

TOOBIN: That's a little less clear to me, frankly. I mean, Hope Hicks was involved in some of these phone calls, but it's not established that she -- what exactly she knew.

But it's quite clear what candidate Trump knew. And, yes, it is true that, currently, there is a policy that says the President can't be prosecuted. But, you know, he's not going to be president forever.

And if you -- if you prosecute Michael Cohen for this, I don't see why you shut this down as apparently the Southern District has done, when the real culprit, the person who was behind this, the beneficiary of it, has gotten away with it.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Gloria, because after The Wall Street Journal published its additional story about all of this, Michael Cohen, according to the documents that we now have, texted Hope Hicks, who was then working for Donald Trump and the campaign, and said, so far, I see only six stories getting little to no traction. Hicks, saying, keep praying. It's working. So what do you make of that?

BORGER: Well, first of all, Hicks' loyalty was to Donald Trump, and still is, I believe. And so what she was saying is, oh, good, this Stormy Daniels story, you know, it's not getting a lot of pickup, it's not getting a lot of traction here.

I think the point that Jeffrey is raising is the right one, which is the question about Hope Hicks, for example. They probably won't prosecute her. But, you know, the FBI says that she had called Cohen and they had a discussion and perhaps Trump joined them on the line. Well, what were they talking about?


Were they talking about Stormy Daniels? Were they talking about Access Hollywood? You know, I don't know the answer to that.

We -- you know, I don't know the answer to that. And I think that there are all these questions that are raised. The only one who seems to be sort of walking off is the president of the United States, because it was his cover-up, it was his affair, and it was his checks that he was writing from the Oval Office and Cohen is sitting in jail.

BLITZER: You know, April, let's remember what the president said aboard Air Force One. This is April 5th, 2018, last year, when he was questioned about this. Watch this.


REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know, no.


BLITZER: These just released documents paint a very different picture.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They paint a very different picture for the president. You cannot say that he doesn't know, because these tapes are showing that he directly told Michael Cohen what to do in reference to this affair with Stormy Daniels at the time that his wife was pregnant and had the last child.

So bottom line, I talked to Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's attorney just moments before we came on air. And Lanny Davis said, look, this proves that in public and private testimony that Michael Cohen was absolutely correct. And not only that his credibility stands, he says that Hope Hicks at this point, she could be indicted for the lies that she told and he also says in going back to what Jeffrey Toobin and what Gloria was just talking about, the fact that once the president loses his immunity as president of the United States, he could be charged on crimes, the crimes that Michael Cohen was charged on.

So this has tentacles. And I'm giving you a synopsis of a synopsis. Jay Sekulow said the case is closed. It is not closed by any stretch of the imagination. BORGER: Well, and I should also add that the House Judiciary

Committee has just said they're going to look into Hope Hicks' testimony to see if there are any inconsistencies there.

BLITZER: What do you think?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, yes, this is a situation where if you look at the testimony and you look at the documents released, it's easy to imagine what was going on then. October 7th, 2016, you have the "Access Hollywood" tape, you had WikiLeaks dump, you had the DHS saying Russia was behind the DNC leak.

There's reporting today that Hope Hicks, Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, then candidate Trump, were on the phone together. We don't know exactly what was said, but it does paint, as April is saying, a very different picture than what we have been told by the president previously, and also by Hope Hicks.

But it is -- like everybody else, it reminds me that President Trump seems to have somehow dipped and dodged his way out of this. Everybody else is in a lot of hot water.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Can I just add? I just don't think this is as incriminating of Hope Hicks as some people are making it out to be.

You know, she was the press person. She was dealing with damage control. She was dealing with how to respond to the press.

I'm not sure this says that she knew what was going on with Stormy Daniels. Donald Trump is a completely different story, and it was his money and he set this up. He's the one who is the real -- if there was a crime committed here, it's not Michael Cohen who was the principal criminal, it was Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around.

There's more breaking news we're following. A new forecast for the dangerous heat wave searing much of the United States tonight.


[18:53:27] BLITZER: There is more breaking news we are following. More than 150 million people in 30 states are being warned of potentially deadly heat and humidity that is expected to last for days.

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater is joining us right now.

Tom, this heat wave is roasting much of the Central and Eastern United States.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and it's really just beginning. I mean we have seen heat waves before, Wolf. Almost halfway towards the end of July into August. But this is different. It's going to be longer and it stretches. It's going to last through the weekend. Humidity levels excessively high. The big deal with this one, though,

even though we'll see heat index values at 105 to 110, it's the overnight lows in the urban areas. Many cities may not drop below 80 degrees. And that's the time where we need to replenish and recuperate.

Eighty-six percent of the lower 48 you mentioned, yes, at 90 or higher, 50 percent of the country at 95. Currently 108 Kansas City, 103 in St. Louis down a bit. You can see the rain hits Cincinnati, Nashville, Atlanta. They're at the 80s. Seventy-three in New York.

But the heat is building eastward. Triple digits all over. Minneapolis, Chicago, 101, 102. Indianapolis, 102, 105.

The warnings for 25 states now will move to the east. This now includes Washington, D.C., up to New York. New York, 80 degree low temperature Saturday, 83 on Sunday, Washington, D.C., 82, 83.

But the heat index values 105, 106 in New York. This is going to be deadly. So, make sure, make sure you can get to at least a cooling center if you do not have air-conditioning, Wolf.

[18:55:04] Check in on neighbors too.

BLITZER: Good advice. Tom Sater, thank you very much.

Just ahead, Puerto Rico braces for violence after days of protests.


BLITZER: There are calls tonight for more protects tomorrow, demanding the resignation of the Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello. Demonstrations started after hundreds of pages from his private chat group were leaked revealing profanity-laden messages aimed at opposition politicians, journalists and celebrities. Police have used tear gas on the crowds which have numbered in the tens of thousands.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.