tv New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman CNN February 27, 2019 3:00am-4:01am PST
conversation in july of 2016 where donald trump was told in advance that wiki lealeaks was planning a massive dump of e-mails that would be damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. >> if you're still sleeping now would be a good time to wake up because he says he will provide backup. he says will provide the pan we will a check that president trump wrote to him to reemburse him for that payment to stormy daniels to keep her quiet. this check was written by he was president and this puts allegations of criminal activity directly in the oval office. today, michael cohen plans to call the president a, quote, racist, a con man, and a cheat. so as capitol hill braces for this explosive testimony, president trump is in vietnam for his second summit with north korean dictator kim jong-un. but michael cohen son his mind. he has attacked his credibility
earlier on twitter ahead of everything we're about to share with you. let's bring in jim sciutto, ellie, and john avlon, and abby phillips, and mj lee, national political correspondent. oh my gosh, we have so much to talk to all of you about. so let's dive in. ellie, let's talk about first jeopardy that michael cohen is presenting. here are some of the new things that will be presented in his testimony today according to the written statement. he will say a lot of people have asked me about whether mr. trump knew about the release of the hacked democratic national committee e-mails ahead of time. the appearannswer is yes. he then goes on to explain how he knows that mr. trump knew beforehand and here is michael cohen what he plans to testify to. in july of 2016, days before the democratic convention, i was in mr. trump's office when his secretary announced that roger stone was on the phone.
mr. trump put mr. stone on speaker phone. mr. stone told mr. trump that he had just gotten off the phone with julian assange and that mr. assange told mr. stone that within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign. mr. trump responded by stating to the effect of wouldn't that be great. ellie, tell us what you hear here. >> so i see six or seven different areas where if true, if proven, would make out crimes committed by the president. and this is a good example, because with each of these separate areas you have to ask to what extent is michael cohen backed up, corob rated? you can't expect people to take michael cohen at his word. if you look at this incident, first of all, get that phone record, right? was there a call from a phone number from roger stone into the trump org or tower? i would get that mueller or the southern district has that. that's an important piece of corroboration. there's another piece of corroboration. if you think back to stone's
indictment, doj alleges that senior trump campaign officials directed stone to be in contact with wikileaks and at one point that one of those senior trump campaign officials was directed by some unnamed person and there's speculation about who would have been doing that direction. so there's a good amount of corroboration for that allegation. and if it's true, alisyn, then it gives us a direct connection between the president and fore knowledge of the president about the wikileaks dump. >> this is the first time that we have had someone testify, this will be the first time. >> under oath. >> under oath, that donald trump was told before wikileaks dumped the stolen e-mails that it was going to happen. and his response is, wouldn't that be great. jim sciutto, you've been covering this from the very beginning. you know better than anyone that the president has denied this. denied this to the american people, denied it in conversations "the new york times," denied it repeatedly. this, again, if true, is new information and it gets to
exactly what the president was aware of in terms of stolen e-mails. >>. >> and gets to the fundamental question of the special counsel's investigation. and that have was there cooperation between the trump campaign and russia as it interfered in the election in in fact, there are two incidents that cohen is going to testify under penalty of perjury, under penalty of further jail time today he will testify. one, that stone told trump in advance about this wikileaks release, as you mentioned. the newest thing here is he is saying that there were direct contacts between roger stone, trump's adviser are and julian assange who runs wikileaks, that's something we didn't know before. and if the special counsel has electronic proof of that, remember they have enormous resources here, if he can corroborate that, that is significant. also crucially on that point we should note the president answered in his written questions to the special counsel that stone did not tell him
about those wikileaks releases in advance. that would make a liar of the president under penalty of perjury. that's on the one issue. advanced knowledge of the wikileaks releases. the other issue is this famous june 2016 trump tower meeting where michael cohen says will testify, that he believes donald trump jr. told his father about that meeting in advance. he describes this encounter with don junior comes behind the desk, whispers in his ear the meeting is on and the president responding that he's happy that the meeting is on. and so that would be two incidents where the president was aware of communications with russians with wikileaks which, again, get to the central question of the special counsel's investigation. this raises the issue does the special counsel have more than michael cohen's testimony to corroborate those incidents? remember, special counsel has a lot of cooperating witnesses who are very close and deeply involved in this campaign, rick
gaetz among them. he has a lot of tools to gather electronic evidence of those things. this is a significant moment in the russia investigation. >> garrett graff, you have a book called the threat matrix where you have been connecting these dots for us and everyone for months now. what do you see in michael cohen's testimony today? >>? >> yeah, think jim is right to draw our attention to that summertime frame. because part of what is significant about the idea that the president might have been aware of the july release of the wikileaks as opposed to the september and october fall wikileaks events is that that changes the whole timeline for the summer and how these plots could have unfolded. remember you have the late july comment that the president makes publicly that has always puzzled us that has been cited in the president's -- in the special counsel's indictment of russian military intelligence saying russia, if you're listening, please hack hillary clinton's
e-mail. well, if we now have michael cohen saying that prior to that conversation the president knew that julian assange was posting or going to post hillary clinton's e-mails, that really changes the context of some of those conversations and incidents that we have long been suspicious of. >> and don't forget, that just two weeks ago cnn reported that the special counsel had evidence of stone communicating directly with wikileaks. something that's been widely denied both by the president and stone and wikileaks. so if that's true, this puts this testimony in larger context and potentially greater legal jeopardy because there's evidence to back it up. we know he's handing over evidence today, michael cohen according to this advanced testimony, things we haven't seen before from checks, personal checks from the president when he was president to pay off -- reimburse michael cohen for stormy daniels to financial statements to deutsche
bank, things we haven't seen before. but this wikileaks piece is potentially is the most -- has the most legal jeopardy, has the highest stakes. and what cnn reported two weeks ago, there would be evidence to back it zplup abby, you know what the president has said about this. what do you see? >> i think what you're going to hear from president trump and his allies obviously is that michael cohen is not a reliable person on that, that he has a lot of interest in trying to implicate the president in order to lighten his load, lighten his sentence on the charges that he already faces. but, of course, the counterargument to that is that if he is lying in that way, lying to congress and lying to the special counsel, he could make his situation worse. so he -- he is very much incentivized to not say something that's untrue in an attempt to lighten the sentence then turns out to be not true and he ends up being worse off. but what these two elements i think really speak to that is
problematic for the president is that from the get go i think there's a lot of disbelief that in a campaign in which the president was the top -- obviously the candidate, it was being run by his family members, essentially, that he would somehow be completely out of the loop on major events that are going on. i think that's what this all speaks to. the idea that don junior, his son who he's very close to would somehow not talk to him about these moments was hard for a lot of people involved to believe. so many people are going to be inclined to believe michael cohen when he says that don junior did tell the president at some point. and then dwloobeyond that one o president's closest confidants roger stone also would not have told him of some significant development in the campaign that potentially could have benefited him was also difficult for a lot of people in congress to believe and a lot of people analyzing the situation on the outside. so there's a lot that michael
cohen is presenting here that isn't -- that doesn't seem far from the realm of possibilities. now whether he is prove it seems to be a much different situation. and, frankly, i think a very high bar ninkt he'll ha. i think he'll have to show the goods to corroborate this. >> supposedly he is bringing along some documentation. but i think this today is going to right general public's critical thinking and they're going to have to decide who they believe today. both michael cohen and president trump, frankly, have a history of lying, as we know. it's been well documented by the fact checkers. and so people are going -- when they hear michael cohen they're going to have to use their critical thinking skills and decide who they think has a bigger motivation to lie today, the president or michael cohen. >> and by the way, let's remember that the lies that michael cohen told in the past were in the service of getting donald trump elected. they were on the same side. i think this is also important to remember. >> that's what he says in here.
>> they were opt same sin the so they were both lying in tandem. >> that's rai why it's really important. i assume the american people are adults enough and citizen enough to not to do a he said she said. and people who have switched their stories over time lied the second time when facing jail time 100%? this is someone who now has nothing left to lose and he's presenting evidence. and that evidence answers a lot of questions that were screamingly obvious in the past because he was the insider in the room who now seems to be telling the truth. >> let's bring in a new piece that michael cohen is introducing here that gets to the issue of evidence. because he puts new meat on the bones when it comes to payments of stormy daniels and says things we have not heard before. he says, he asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair and lied to his wife about it, which i did, lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets. she's a kind, good person. i respect her greatly.
she did not deserve that. first of all there are is also the first time that he directly says that the president had the affair with stormy daniels. before he said it was alleged. he said he had an affair he said he lied to the first lady. then he goes into greater detail. he will present to the committee today we are told a check written by the president of the united states for this payoff. this is 139. as exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, i am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that president trump personally signed from his personal bank account on august 1st, 2017, when he was president of the united states. while he was president of the united states. okay. pursuant to the cover-up which is the basis of my guilty plea to reimburse me, the word used by his tv lawyer, the hush money i paid on his behave, this $35,000 check was one of 11 check inn stallments that was paid throughout the year while he was president.
mj, you covered this from the beginning as well. the president wrote a personal check to michael cohen that he will opponent from congress today. cohen also testifies that the president, while he was president, talked to cohen about these payoffs. >> i mean, john, this hush payment piece of this is just so incredible and on so many levels. i mean, first of all, just the quote that you read from the cohen testimony, you're absolutely right, that we are now going to hear him say in public on the record in front of cameras for the first time that donald trump asked him to pay off this adult film star that he had an affair with. and then in addition to that, just worth restating, asked him to lie to his wife about it. i don't know that you get a bigger sort of personal betrayal than this when you're bringing the extramarital affair that we have been talking about this whole time as the alleged
extramarital affair. michael cohen is telling the world, no, this is a thing that happened, and not only did it happen, he wanted me to be involved in paying her off so that she would say quiet. and in addition to that, the president wanted know lie to his wife about it as a part of this bigger cover-up. so that is just incredible on its own. and then the details of it too that he is stating for the record that these repayments, these reimbursements came from the president and he's going to present evidence of it, this $35,000 check that we have been talking about for a while in the context of this hush payment scheme, he's going to sit there and say look at this. this is a check that i have with donald trump's signature on it that shows that president trump was essentially paying me back while he was in the oval office, in the office of the presidency. that is just incredible. and if i could just say one more thing in the bigger picture of
the personal betrayal. it's not just about the extramarital affair and, you know, asking to lie to the first lady about it. there's so many other details. michael cohen hitting the president for being a person of immense greed. there are details about michael cohen being asked to help hide from the world donald trump's s.a.t. scores and his grades in school. and then of course the vietnam detail in the very end where he says mr. president, i find it ironic that you're in vietnam right now when you and i had a conversation about you not wanting to serve. and he said that donald trump told him i didn't have surgery, just tell the world that there was some sort of medical procedure and also, quote, you think i'm stupid? i wasn't going to go to vietnam. there's so much in here and i assume that michael cohen is going to get the chance to talk about all of this in such great detail that really just gets to donald trump's character. >> and mj, in a moment of cosmic
sink conis si synchronicity, here is president trump arriving in hanoi, viet nau nam, you can see his motorcade arriving. it's all just so -- we've pointed out there's a split screen all week, but this split screen here where michael cohen is talking about what he had to hide about president trump's deferments to actually fight in vietnam and what he now suggests was made up -- >> do we still have that picture? it was interesting they were pulling a curtain as the president was arriving. one of the things i think we need to watch for throughout the morning is there are moments where cameras will be allowed near the president where will be having diner with kim jong-un. they will be having a quick handshake. jim, i know you're watching this closely over the course of the morning. reporters will be near. i imagine there will be questions not just about this north korean summit, but questions about these new revelations for michael cohen's prepared testimony today.
>> yeah. there will be, and of course a press conference tomorrow. but think as the president pulls up there to meet with the leader of north korea on a primary, arguably the primary immediate national security threat to the u.s., and that's north korea's nuclear weapons, this we know from his tweets, they're public, that this son his on his mind. cohen's testimony is on his mind. and we know that he has commented that the larger investigation has been brought up to him by other world leaders when he sat down with them to discuss issues of consequence. and he feels that that's damaging to him, damaging to his standing, that he's had this hanging over his head when he's had those meetings. so here the president has something enormous hanging over his head, his long-time lawyer and fixer to testify, to issues central to the russia investigation. it's difficult to imagine that that is not inside his head as
he is faced with what is an enormously consequential summit here to these nuclear questions, and a summit which the president enters with challenges, a whole host of advisers around him lowering expectations about what he can achieve here, but also his advisers telling us, my colleagues and me in advance of this meeting, that they're concerned that the president might do go too far with the knowledge of what's hanging over his head. that he might be pressured, pressure himself to make a headline here to distract from what's happening back home. and his own advisers have the concern that he might give up too much without concessions from the north korean side. so the president and his advisers might like to separate these two things happening today, but, boy, they're not separate. >> they're interwoven at the moment as we can see right from our zbleen ascreen. >> and that was always part of the trump's design to see if the
hostile foreign power could overwhelm the headlines of cohen's testimony. but we think that it actually won't. as we look out in the real geopolitical history-making moment of the summit, has a president ever gone into a negotiation in this scope in a weak are more needy position because of the revelations coming out at home? because he needs to make a deal to come out and to compete with this news. and the people across the table will know that. so that's the context in which this negotiation's beginning, and it really hammers home the seriousness of the job he's embarking on. >> and we'll be watching throughout the morning each time there is a public appearance between the two leaders very carefully to see if the president does respond to this. he already has on twitter. >> and we'll bring you all the news. we're watching it closely and we'll bring it to you. >> i want to bring you back to the remarkable 20 pages filled with new revelations here.
can one assume that michael cohen has testified to all of these things already to the special counsel and the southern district of new york and the 70 plus hours? i've lost count of how many hours he's talked to them and grand juries. has everything in here already been said under oath under penalty of perjury before? that's one question. and do you think that he would -- that the special counsel and/or the federal lawyers will have to some extent approve of going public with these claims? >> so yes and yes, john. look, the waco operatiy coopera works -- >> hang on. this is kim jong-un's motor kade, it has just arrived at the hotel where he will be meeting with president trump. he just watched prove's motorcade arrive a few moments ago. and here's the curtain that will be pulled aside so we can see some things. >> what i'm suggesting is they're probably trying to limit and that was the full extent of our coverage. so that's the only tape we've been given of this right now.
>> here we go. >> so we may see kim jong-un getting out or we may just go right to a flag shot when they don't want us to see -- >> these are pulled shots that are put out from there and we're only being given certain things here, certain views and we will only see what they want us to see. go ahead, jim. >> i was just going to say that that curtain is a security precaution. it does not have to be related to the cohen challenges, et cetera. you will often see that on arrival because it prevents a potential attacker of getting a view of the principals, the president, or kim. and kim in particular i will note in the last 24 hours at the demand of his security team, a whole host of reporters that were in that hotel where he's staying that had a view of his arrival, the departure were removed because of that very issue, just so they wouldn't get a vision of him. so that curtain and the inability to see them as they
arrive, not necessarily related to the prospect of being asked uncomfortable questions. >> that's helpful. >> more likely a security precaution. >> we're looking at a stage where very shortly we will see the president and north korean lead kim jong-un. we've got about a minute before that happens. if you could finish the answer about what the special counsel will have heard already in terms of this testimony from michael cohen. >> mueller and/or the southern district have to know all of this. when you're cooperating with somebody you sit with them for days on end, it's a pain staking process and you get everything they know. there's no way they would clear this or vet this. and there's no way michael cohen's lawyer who's smart would allow him to go in front of the cameras or congress today and say this untles was fully vetted. the keyword today is going to be credibility. the republicans are going to do what ever criminal defense lawyer i've ever seen has done to one of of my cooperating witnesses at trial which is call them a liar. keep track of how many times today the republicans call him a liar. what i think we should be doing as the general public is looking for does what michael cohen say
make sense? does it jive with things that we've seen before? and to what extent is he backed up by other evidence? we've gotten a sense of that in the opening statement, the checks, the other records and documents that he's brought up. and remember, this is just an opening statement. we're just getting started. there's going to be a whole lot more coming out today. >> garrett graff, i want to warn you we may have to interrupt you when we see the president and kim jong-un together for the first time. that may nap a minute we're told. but in the meantime, remember, as we all do, that explosive buzzfeed story that said that the president had directed michael cohen to lie to congress. that will come up today. and, in fact, he is going to address it. he is -- this is what he's going to say. mr. trump did not directly tell know lie to congress, that's not how he operates. in conversations we had in the campaign at the same time i was actively negotiating with russia for him he would look me in the eye and tell me there's no
business in russia and then go out and lie to the american people by saying the same thing. in his way, he was telling me to lie. so, garrett, that was such a headline grabbing moment when it sounded as though there was going to be an overt direction to lie to congress. and this is much more subtle of michael cohen saying he got the message. and i'm wondering what you think of that testimony that he'll say? >> this sort of perfectly explains and is consistent with the buzzfeed reporting and then the special counsel's unprecedented denials saying that they don't vefds have evidf that. which is not to say that cohen sort of didn't feel that way that he had been instructed to lie. it's just that the special counsel did not have evidence of a direct overt act, as you said. this is sort of the who will rid me of the meddlesome priest question, which is if donald trump and michael cohen have worked together long enough, he
doesn't necessarily say -- need to say, hey, mikey, i need you to lie about this because they sort of understand each other's roles. and really this is what michael cohen was supposed to do for donald trump for a decade. you know, he was the fixer. i mean, that's not a title you get because you're doing sort of totally obvious things. and remember we sort of seen this interaction actually with the president in the recordings that michael cohen released last summer where he was talking about those hush money payments to stormy daniels and you hear michael cohen basically saying, sort of summarizing, you know, mr. trump, i'm going to do that thing that we talked about. and donald trump says, well, okay, mike, you go ahead and do the thing that you need to do and sort of they both know that what they mean is, you know, we're going to pay the hush money to stormy daniels but there's not a direct conversation that we hear on tape with that happening. >> can i make one addendum or
addition to what you're talking about in terms of the buzzfeed article and whether or not the president directed michael cohen to lie to congress, which cohen says did he not. cohen does say s, though, that e president's personal attorney reviewed and edited his prepared testimony. he may not have just committed perjury when he spoke outloud to congress, he provided perjury in the statement he provided beforehand and that statement was reviewed, says mike a.m. cohen, by the president's personal attorney. ellie, you're the attorney among us. does that put the personal attorney in any kind of jeopardy here, if they edited, were aware that michael cohen was going in there with dishonest statements? >> you hit on the key point. if the attorney was aware that was false, 100% that attorney's on the hook for obstruction of justice, witness tampering and suborning perjury. doj has to an extent signed on to michael cohen's version of facts. when michael cohen pled guilty
to giving this false testimony, in his plea documents and sfnsing documentsfn sentencing documents, they certified that michael cohen gave testimony about circumstances of preparing and circulating his false testimony. preparing and circulating. what that told me at the time, other people were involved in reviewing this, other people were involved in putting this lie forward, and now michael cohen says at least some of the people who were being alluded it to there were trump's personal attorneys. >> abby, this not abe a pleasan or comfortable day for the people around president trump. obviously they know all of this is happening. they have been reading michael cohen's written statement that he prepares to give. and it's just going to be hard, i would imagine, for them today to figure out the -- how to thread this needle when all this is happening on congress. what are you hearing? >> absolutely. i think there are two things happening here. one, it's that the president is obviously thinking about this as
he's going into these high-stakes negotiations. it's on his mind. it's potentially affecting his mood, not just with his aides, but in the context of this conversation with kim whereas jim rightfully pointed out, it makes the president much more eager to get a deal. i think people looking at the situation have always understood that to be the case. but the second thing is that we have been hearing from white house aides a sense that they believe that michael cohen would not necessarily present anything blockbuster or particularly new in this public hearing. it seems that that is not the case. and that if you were one of the aides trying to convince the president that this was no big deal, you're probably in some hot water right now because obviously this is a big story, obviously michael cohen is coming out here with information that he believes is going to be new and is going to break some new ground at least in the public and that is going to hurt the president in i think a major
way he's goes into this. >> we're about to see very shortly as the president and north korean leader kim jong-un, we are told they are going meet here very briefly. >> they're walking in the room as we speak. >> shaking hands and then they'll attend this dinner. we're told that the dinner was a problem because they were trying to figure out what the menu would be and the white house was insisting on a very simple menu. here they are. >> mr. president, what do you hope to achieve when talk to the chairman. >> i think it will be very successful, great relationship. i think it will be very successful. we look forward to it, we both do. [ inaudible question ] >> have you walked back at all [ inaudible ].
>> no. thank you all very much. thank you. thank you. >> mr. president, is there [ inaudible ]. >> we'll see. thank you. thank you all very much. >> here we go. >> there you have it. you saw the president and kim jong-un meeting for the first time and you saw some of that sort of signature warmth that the president has out toed in h touted with kim jong-un. and then it looked like
president trump cracked a joke that kim jong-un laughed at and responded to. we want to bring in james clapper who has been watching this along with us. director clapper, tell us the significance of what you've just seen. >> well, it's significant but it's hard to separate this from, you know, the juxtaposition of what's going on here in this town or what will transpire a little later this morning washington time. and i do, as others have alluded, i do worry about the president attempting to counterdistract by some big concession to kim jong-un. for example, agreeing to withdraw troops from the peninsula giving up joint exercises in singapore. >> jim, you were in singapore as
well when the president met with kim jong-un, and it's striking to see the president of the united states with the north korean dictator not just shaking hands, but patting him on the back, exchanging smiles there in a way at this moment, and i'm talking about 6:31 eastern time hours before michael cohen is about to testify in public, kim jong-un may be the best friend and ally that president trump has right now. they were expressing this moment of warmth there. it was an island of presidential stability, you know, in a sea of problems that he's facing at this very moment. >> there's a certain iron -- >> and what the president's -- >> hold. >> jim sciutto, go ahead. >> i'll always defer to director clap, he but the only point i was going to make was that the president's advisers have made the point repeatedly in the days leading up to this that mr. trump, president trump, is the first to try this strategy with north korea of building a personal relationship with the
north korean leader and couple willing that wi ing that with economic sanctions. and that's true. they're now meeting face-to-face for the second time, the sanctions regime, although u.s. sanctions on north korea, not new, they going go back to previous -- >> hold on. this is happening at this moment in the is their first sit-down. they seem to be taking questions. [ speaking foreign language ] [ inaudible question ] [ speaking foreign language ]
>> so during that 261 days since we last met, there have been some [ inaudible ]. there have been [ inaudible ] and there was hos sthalt still rema hostility that still [ inaudible ] but we have been able to overcome all the obstacles and here we are today after [ inaudible ]? [ speaking foreign language ] >> actually believe that those 261 days were the days which were during which -- >> our day is filled with a lot of thinking, a lot of effort and a lot of patience.
[ speaking foreign language ] >> here we are today. >> but here we are today and i hope that we can provide an outcome that is welcome about everyone. and i'm sure that we can do this. >> well, i want to just say it's an honor to be with chairman kim. it's an honor to be together in really a country, vietnam, where they really rolled out the red carpet and they've -- to have us. and it's great to be with you. we had very successful first summit, i felt it was very successful, and some people would like to see it go quicker. i'm satisfied, you're satisfied, we want to be happy with what we're doing. but i thought the first summit was a great success and i hope this one hopefully will be equal
or greater than the first. and we made a lot of progress and think the biggest progress was our relationship is really a good one. [ speaking foreign language ] >> and as i've said many times and i say it to the press, i say it to anybody that wants to listen, i think that your country has tremendous economic potential, unbelievable,
unlimited. and i think that you will have a [ inaudible ] great leader and i look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen. and we will help it to happen. [ speaking foreign language ] >> thank you all very much. we appreciate it. we're going to go out there and then we is with skr some big meetings scheduled for tomorrow and we'll see you i guess at a news conference at some point during the day. thank you very much. >> mr. president, michael cohen and his testimony? >> thank you.
[ indiscernible conversations ]. >> president trump with the north korean dictator kim jong-un. we did hear from both leaders. kim says here we are, he says i hope we can provide a outcome that is welcomed by everyone. and president trump said i think we will have a successful meeting. he says that perhaps some of the progress has been a little slower than some wanted, but he says the biggest progress is our relationship. and by that he means his personal relationship with kim jong-un of whom he said i think he will be a great leader and have great success. >> i'm also struck, as you know i like body language, i'm struck by the optics of this, how deferential president trump looks towards kim jong-un. he pivots his chair towards him. he smiles, he nods while he's talking, much like i do to you. he smiles and nods while he's
talking, but kim jong-un didn't reciprocate until the very end where he said something complementary about kim jong-un where he then smiled and nodded. >> i don't think kim knows how to deal with reporters in the room. it's probably the second time in his life where he's been in a room with a free press and i'm not sure he knows who to look at. and the president was thrown a question about michael chon and did not answer the question. director clap, he what are did you see in that brief moment? >> with respect to the question, i think we -- i could bet my paycheck that that dinner will be over in time for the testimony. and the president will be well ensconced in his room with the tv on. and, you know, i'm not surprised he didn't answer the question. one thing i think might be worth pointing out is, you know, this promises of rapid economic
progress in north korea in contrast to vee jet nam. that's a good point, you know, vietnam is a former enemy and now it is thriving. but let they tell you the two economies are vastly different in the infrastructure in north korea has got a long way to go to be anywhere near vietnam, in my view. >> jim sciutto, tell us what jumps out at you. >> well, it's interesting for the president to draw attention to really the only takeaway from their first summit, which is that they have a relationship, right? because remember the administration's own standards for success in these negotiations is complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. there have been -- there's been no progress on that goal since that summit. that's smgt presideomething the is conscious of so perhaps he can say we're talking. now, the question is you'll have
talked twice. what will the president take away from this meeting that gets closer to that goal of complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization? that is a major, major question here. and his own advisers, as we reported leading up to this, concerned lower expectations, one, and concern that the president, in an effort to tout a success, gives a concession that is not justified by what north korea, what kim is giving in return. and that's -- that's an essential point here. >> one last thing. hasn't president trump also changed the benchmarks of success where he says no test something now he just doesn't want test something it used to be denuclearization. >> i think that's so interesting about jim's point there. president went out of his way to point out that the biggest progress we've had, the biggest deliverable is that we have a relationship here, not that there's been a concrete step toward denuclearization. and up until this point the president said all i want is -- or i would be satisfied with no
testing, no new testing which already exists at that point. director clapper, i want to draw your attention to some of the things we have learned in michael cohen's prepared testimony. he is prepared to tell congress today that he witnessed a conversation where president trump then candidate donald trump in july of 2016, was told that wiki cleeks wleaks was aboe a massive dump of the e-mails that were stolen and it was going to be damaging to hillary clinton. the president's knowledge of that, again, you had knowledge of various investigations while you, director of national intelligence. how does that change the prism with which you look at it if donald trump was told that this e-mail dump was coming? what's the significance? >> well, i think it's quite significant. and i was thinking back of a -- one of then candidate trump's rally speeches in which i think was in june of '16 in which he
alluded to something big that's going to happen. which people inferred was a dump of his opponent's e-mails. so i think this whole thing with michael cohen just affirms what many people already suspected. i do think he's credible, i can't conceive why he would lie under oath under this circumstance, you know, on his way to jail. and so i think what he -- what he's going to say is truthful. and so this, to me, is, you know, affirming all the puzzles and it isn't a smoking gun, it certainly is a warm barrel. >> i believe you're mixing metaphors, director. but we want to bring in abby who's reporting on how the trump administration and white house is responding to all this. so the fact, abby, that for the first time we are hear under oath in open testimony of this
direct connection between roger stone calling on speaker phone alerting the president that he says had he had a conversation with julian assange, what will their response be today? >> it will be what we've heard it be, which is actually i think a fairly limited argument for the president and his allies. it really just boils down to a character assassination of michael cohen, which, you know, michael cohen probably -- they don't need to do that much work. i think people are aware of what michael cohen was doing, what he lied about, all the things that he said about the president, that he's now coming back and saying that he was wrong about. so it's not like they have much room to go there in terms of trying to say that michael cohen is an unreliable person. but to director clapper's point, it is not really in his interest to lie in this context to potentially make his legal situation far worse than it already is. and what he does do in his testimony that i think is
problematic for the president from a public relations perspective, which is frankly a lot of how the white house is looking at this, is that he establishes in some fairly concrete ways places where the president has lied. that $35,000 check is important for not just because it talks about the president's role in trying to cover up ana alleged affair, but it demonstrates that the public lied about this publicly as president. he said he did not know anything about those hush money payments. that was clearly a lie if he wrote a $35,000 check to michael cohen as president of the united states. so michael cohen is establishing some key places with proof where the president is lying. and then he's making some other claims about the president's activities that we have not yet seen concrete corroboration of, but that don't seem outside of the realm of possibilities. it is believable, i think to the public, that the president would have been told by his son about
something like that meeting in trump tower. it's believable to the public that the president would have been told by his friend roger stone about his contacts with people who had information on hillary clinton. and then, as director clapper points out, the president goes out publicly and encourages russia to hack hillary clinton. he encourages quickie leaks to release information about hillary clinton. so these are all things within the realm of possibilities, and that's what's going to be very difficult for the white house and the president's allies to combat if the does not seem strange that these things might be true. >> stand by if you will. with looking at this prepared testimony from michael cohen. we're getting new information from that. we're watch lgt president in hanoi to see if he takes question from these revelations. again, these presidency redefining revelations. cnn's special coverage continues right after this.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> get used to that breaking news graphic and sound because we have it all morning. we have in our hands 20 pages of what michael cohen will be testifying publicly to today in congress. we got a preview. we thought we would have to wait until 10:00 this morning. we actually have what he mans to say here. could he backtrack and not say it? i suppose. but we have is it in black and white. and there are many things that he plans to say that place president trump squarely in the room for criminal activity. let's go through it. we want to bring back our highly esteemed panel. we had jim sciutto who is with the president in vietnam. we had ellie, abby, mj lee and former director of national against james clapper. i think we all the right guests for this. here's what we want to start with. and, jay, let's talk about this. this is the moscow tower project
and that is what president trump is said to have lied to the voters about because he said we have absolutely no dealings in russia were we have no business interests in russia. michael cohen tells a different story. here's what he will testify to under oath. there were a half dozen times between the iowa caucus in january, 2016, and the end of june when he would ask me how's it going in russia, referring to the moscow tower project. you need to know that mr. trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to congress about the timing of the moscow tower negotiations before i gave it. that is what he is accused of lying about to congress and he's saying that president trump then candidate trump knew very well that they had an ongoing interest in moscow. it's because michael cohen will say they never believed they would win and he wanted to keep this iron in the fire, was very interested in keeping this iron in the fire because he stood to make millions of dollars from it. >> so, alisyn think there the trump tower piece, i'm sorry,
the moscow tower piece of this perfectly sort of captures in how many different buckets these -- this story falls into in terms of the precarious position that the president is in in terms of directly lying himself. michael cohen straight up says the president lied about the moscow tower project because he knew that this was a lucrative project and the negotiations, the talk about this continued much more than he actually let on to the public. and so this was a -- this was an example of the president actually going out to the public and lying about not having any business interests in russia. and then there's the piece of it where michael cohen himself obviously lied. he has pleaded guilty to that already, lying to congress, but he says, and he makes clear,
that it wasn't the president that directed michael cohen to lie, but that there was a lot of suggestion and sort of a knowing look, almost, that donald trump would give to michael cohen when he himself said i have no business in russia, michael. but of course michael knew that that -- michael cohen knew that that wasn't true and he would look up and see donald trump himself saying to the public this lie. so in a lot of ways michael cohen is saying, look, he may not have necessarily literally said the words, michael, go out and lie to me. >> he didn't have to. >> but did i that because i knew that's what donald trump wanted me to do. and then there's the piece of it that brings in the people that are close to donald trump. because the testimony says that michael cohen's false statement to congress was reviewed by donald trump's personal lawyers. >> right. >> and i know we were talking about this closer to the top of the hour, what does that mean in
terms of who knew what? and also just ravesing tising t obvious question of is it true that donald trump's personal lawyers okayed this and green lit this false statement that michael cohen was going to make to congress, then, yes, it's reasonable to ask the question of is there a possibility and a scenario in which donald trump himself knew? >> yes. >> and all of these people around him knew. >> hold on, mj. >> this fault statement was going to be -- >> there clearly are those scenarios. what he's saying is basically that donald trump creates an environment where people absorb the lies, understand the lies, and go along with the lies understanding that they're liars. that he's denying anything to do with russia and at the same time asking michael cohen consistently over the campaign how's russia going? and it's not only the moscow trump tower deal that's discussed in this testimony regarding russia. there's the really bombshell revelation that cohen says that trump was aware that roger stone was communicating directly with
wikileaks. that is a big deal on like five different fronts. there's also the information in here, and it's more of a recollection he has, but in the context of the famous trump tower meeting where are he says that don junior came up and whispered in his father's ear. >> audibly. >> that the meeting was on. and that is good. so there are three specific elements here that really have massive implications for questions about russia and the trump campaign. >> and if you're talk about holding up the michael cohen credibility against the president's krshcredibility, th are problems on both sides. sarah sanders told something that was patently untrue if the was a lie, whether she knew it was a lie was a different story. when she says the president didn't know about the payments to stormy daniels. we have the signed check that michael cohen is going to provide to congress today. michael cohen testifies the president knew and was directing the russia deals. well, the president throughout
the campaign says i have no business with russia. this is where the collection of lies comes back and where credibility, you've got to hold them up against each other. >> absolutely. and remember the justice department and michael cohen's own lawyers have a vested interest in ensuring that he remains a credible witness for cooperation going forward both on capitol hill and with the justice department in the special counsel and the prosecutors in the southern direct distric district. they're very much paying attention to what he's saying and make sure he's not saying today that they're not comfortable with him saying. just to sort of emphasize one thing that mj touched on there that i think is important in the trump tower moscow deal -- >> i can jump in here? >> go ahead, jim. >> oh, sorry. go ahead. >> no, no, sciutto go ahead. >> no, no, i apologize. i certainly didn't want to
interrupt garrett. the only point i was going to make it gets to a pattern of lies here regarding russia contacts for knowledge of wikileaks releases, the trump tower meeting, the trump tower moscow project, and the hush money payments. it's a pattern of lying that the president participated in, right? he denied the hush money payments. they turned out to be true. he denied any interest in a trump tower project, when in fact we learn those conversations went much later. of course he denied any russia contacts. many of those contacts have now been corroborated and michael cohen taking those contacts a step further now saying that the president has for knowledge of both the wikileaks releases but also of that trump tower meeting in 2016. and you made a great point, alisyn, this gets to the critical thinking of the american public here. you're going to hear competing claims today about who's credible, who's believable, and it's up to folks at home to decide who they believe here. but in that context, remember the pattern of lies.
>> yeah. >> it's -- none of these statements are in isolation. but it fits a pattern that this president has been proven to have lied on with each of these subjects in the past. >> and the difference is that michael cohen seems to have the receipts. and that he's going to be presenting new evidence at this congressional hearing today. and that's a big deal. >> and also i just feel i have to make the point again, they were on the same side. they were lying in the service of the same goal. they weren't lying at each other for all of these past three years we've been listening, they were lying in the service of the same end goal. only today under oath will we hear michael cohen saying what he says is #truth. >> we have much more in this morning of breaking news. new day continues right now. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. all right. good morning, everyone. welcome to your new day. there is major breaking news. overnight cnn obtained an explosive 20-page statement. we have it in our hands here
that the former trump lawyer and fixer michael cohen is set to deliver before congress in public under oath today. michael cohen is expected to say the president say racist and a con man and a cheat. it contains a half dozen statements and each one of them could jeopardize the presidency. perhaps the most damaging, cohen claimed, was that mr. trump was told in advance that wikileaks was planning a massive dump of these e-mails that would be damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. >> cohen knows his credibility is in question, so he plans ton bring documents to back up some of his claims, including a check he says the president wrote him to reimburse him for hush money to silence porn star stormy daniels and karen mcdougal he will. cohen says that interest check was written while donald trump was president. this puts criminal a