tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN August 23, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PDT
nternet, you can add voice for just $24.95 more per month. call or go online today. call or go on line today. top of the hour. i'm poppy harlow in new york. from loyal fixer to flipper, the president falsely says michael cohen's crimes, quote, weren't crimes. >> what bhimichael cohen pled t weren't even campaign related. they weren't crimes. >> they were. but he says his betrayal should be illegal. listen to this. >> he made a great deal, because he was in another business totally unrelated to me where i guess there was fraud involved and loans and taxicabs and all sorts of things. he makes a better deal when he
uses me. i know all about flipping for 30, 40 years i've been watching flippers. everything is wonderful and then they get ten years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. it almost ought to be outlawed. >> a lot of headlines to get to. let's go to jeremy diamond at the white house. good morning. a crime isn't a crime this morning, according to the president. he was up late not happy about a lot of this. >> reporter: that's right. it's been a whirlwind nearly 48 hours since we got the guilty verdict in the paul manafort case, guilty plea from michael cohen. we know the president was up late last night tweeting, just past 1:00 a.m., about this quote, unquote, rigged witch hunt. now we're getting a better sense of what the president has been thinking about all of this. in this interview with fox news, the president talks about flipping, saying it should be illegal, clearly expressing i had concerns that some of these phones who have been -- who are
now convicted felons who have been close to him might flip on him. it's quite remarkable to hear the president of the united states, the head of the executive branch, talk about a tactic that's commonly used in federal prosecutions in such a negative way. the president also being asked about impeachment and whether or not he sees that as something that he is concerned about. the president making clear that he doesn't think he should be impeached as long as he is doing a great job. kind of focusing on the economy, saying that he believes the stock market would crash if he were to be impeached. all of this comes as paul manafort is about to head for his second trial, of course. and paul manafort clearly not flipping as of yet. the president, of course, praising those comments. but he wouldn't quite say whether or not he would be willing to pardon his former campaign chairman. >> are you considering pardoning paul manafort? >> i have great respect for what he has done in terms of what he
has gone through. you know, he worked for ronald reagan for years. he worked for bob dole. his firm worked for mccain. he worked for many, many people, many, many years. and i would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in washington probably does. >> we are a long way from drain the swamp, unless you are paul manafort and you do what everybody else also does. the president was asked about michael cohen, his longtime attorney, somebody who worked for him for more than a decade. he is trying to distance himself now from michael cohen, who has pleaded guilty to eight felony charges and implicated the president in the campaign finance violations to which he pled guilty. this comes, of course, as the specter of michael cohen and what he could possibly say to prosecutors further, if he could talk additionally with the special counsel robert mueller,
that is still looming. it was notable the president made very few disparaging comments about michael cohen in this interview, trying to be perhaps a little bit nice to a man who could flip on him as the president is saying. >> it's an interesting point. jere jeremy, thanks for the reporting. let's talk about the legal aspe aspects. good morning to you guys. ann, let me begin with you. according to the president this morning, michael cohen's admitted crimes, felonies, weren't crimes. >> first of all, there's no question they are crimes. no federal judge would take a guilty plea unless they were pleading guilty to a crime. the bottom line is we know they are crimes. there's no question here that there are campaign finance violations. what makes these campaign finance violations very clear is that cohen is saying that the president intended do this to protect himself in the political campaign. that's what matters. for the president to say there's
nothing wrong is just -- it's beyond absurd. >> shan, he is downplaying the crime of campaign finance violations. right? but there's actually a bigger crime that michael cohen is alleging here in what he said in court, and that's a crime of conspiracy against the president. >> that's right. the president is now what we call an unindicted co-conspirator. it's perfectly clear that it's him and that cohen was acting at his direction. so he is completely implicated in the crime. >> what about paul manafort? your read on the language, shan, that the president used to describe paul manafort in this interview this morning, echoing what he was tweeting right after? >> yeah. the language is striking, particularly in conjunction with his later talk about flipping. i mean, he is using the language of mafia mob prosecutions. it's one thing to express
sympathy but he is saying it's an unjust prosecution, even though he has been convicted. clearly, a continuing signal he is trying to dangle the pardon possibility in front of him. >> you think a pardon is likely? >> it's hard for me to imagine we could talk about a pardon. even the language he is using, it's stunning to me that we now have manafort convicted as a felon of stealing millions of dollars essentially from the american people and donald trump is out there saying, but he is a great guy. it's really -- it's hard for me to imagine that we could be talking about a pardon. that said, i think it's possible the president does it. >> let's listen also to the explanation on the payments here, shan. because the president wants to have it always -- not one way or two ways, always. the issue is, he says such contrasting things on tape. so let's listen first to the cohen payments to pay off, you know, stormy daniels and also
karen mcdougal, to keep stories of an alleged affair with the president silent. here is what he said this morning. >> did you know about the payment s payments? >> later on. you have to understand, what he did -- they weren't taken out of campaign finance. that's a big thing. that's a much bigger thing. did they come out of the campaign? they didn't come out of the campaign. they came from me. >> okay. well, here is what he said on tape with michael cohen about arranging a deal to pay $150,000 to keep karen mcdougal's story of an alleged affair with the president, to keep that silent. here is the president. >> when it comes time for the financing -- >> what financing? >> we will have to pay. >> pay with cash? >> no, no, no, no. >> what is he trying to do here? shan? >> that's a good question.
>> it's all there. it's all right there. >> he is trying to deflect as is usual. i gotta say, i think anne will agree, he needs to consult with lawyers before he talks about this stuff. it makes no sense. he is talking about it wasn't campaign resources. that's not what the crime is here. it's completely off base with that. then his statement that he didn't know about it until later or something, i mean, that is collaborated because what is the later there? he is aware of it before it's paid. i don't see how this helps him at all besides opening up to more false statement. >> do you think, anne -- who or what do you think is putting the president in the most jeopardy right now? by that cohen and, you negotiation the very likely possibility of a potentially very consequential plea agreement and cooperation agreement or manafort who also could reach a deal with
mueller's team? >> i would be skeptical that manafort will reach a deal. he should have done it earlier. it's a strange thing to do at this point. again, it's possible. the cohen piece, the two biggest issues are michael cohen's guilty plea and the mueller investigation into whether he conspired with russia. and manafort is out there as well. he has a -- >> is cohen's problematic issue with the truth and credibility going to be a factor that could be helpful to the president? >> sure. look, the president surrounded himself with people who are not truthful. the kind of lawyer that would tape someone, the kind of people that would steal millions of dollars from the u.s. government and steal from the transition and inauguration. the president surrounded -- he did not surround himself with mother theresa, let's say that. the people all have issues. they're all going to be found to have lied and cheat and stolen.
you have the president of the united states saying that paul manafort was stealing money and doing these things but everybody in washington does it, so it's okay. how is that possible? >> from the drain of swamp president. the political side of that next. thank you. shan, nice to have you as well. president trump also taking another shot at his own attorney general this morning. he says there is only one reason that he gave jeff sessions that job. what is it? you will hear from the president next. also, facing legal battles back here at home, the president sends a late-night tweet about south african land reform. south africa is firing back this morning. was this really about policy or just a distraction tactic? john bolton moments ago saying he and his russian counterpart did not see eye to eye on election meddling. so what now? countries that we traveled- "what is your nationality?" and i would always answer, "hispanic." so, when i got my ancestrydna results
yet again, the president of the united states is ripping into his own attorney general jeff sessions, saying he gave sessions the job based on loyalty, solely loyalty. apparently, instead of qualification. listen to the president. >> he took the job and then he said, i'm going to recuse myself. i said, what kind of a man is this? by the way, he was on the campaign. you know, the only reason i gave him the job because i felt loyalty. he was an original supporter. he was on the campaign. >> all right, david gergin is with me and jackie kasinich. there's so much to parse through from this interview this morning. let's begin on this, the attorney general, only hired
because of loyalty. loyalty above all else. a theme for this president. for a man who has paid for and works for the american taxpayer. >> absolutely. it's important to go back to fundamentals here. the president of the united states is the ultimate guardian of our rule of law in the united states. the attorney general is the appointee of the president to carry that out. and to protect the rule of law. donald trump now has been on a tear to violate all the norms that we normally associate with protecting the rule of law, going after his attorney general like this is one more example. but also, the way he has praised now a convicted felon, paul manafort, for essentially resisting any cooperation with the justice department, with various investigations. and at the same time, he attacked his longtime lawyer, michael cohen, who agreed to cooperate and tell the truth
under oath. yes, it didn't reflect well on the president, it implicated him. but you know, he, the president, is our guardian. if we can't -- if we can't expect protection from the guardian, where can we turn? we have become a nation without a rule of law. >> you can turn to the co-equal branch of government, you can turn to congress, because that's a big part of their mandate is to check the executive branch. you know, we heard from republicans this morning. it's mum, pretty silent from house speaker paul ryan's team, from mitch mcconnell's team. where is the check? >> it's a really good question. you are right, it should be with congress. but they're being quiet because they don't want this election to be about president trump. he is very good about turning the entire functions of the government into being all about
him. he just said that with the justice department. it's all about loyalty, it's all about him, it's all about protecting him. that's what you heard from senator rounds. that's what you heard from people on the hill this week, saying that he is the president. what do you want us to do? you could launch investigations. you could do this. you could do that. we are ahead of a midterm. they want to talk about the economy. they want to talk about taxes. right now, all they're doing is spending their time talking about president trump. and that in a lot -- particularly talking about house congressional districts, could be very problematic. >> david, let me ask you about the voter, right, and what this is going to do to the republican voter and the staunch trump voter. a guy that i have interviewed for years, made a ton of money in the oil boom, a big republican donor, fascinating because he stood so closely with
the president on everything, until now. here is what he says. this cohen stuff is an earthquake. cohen is admitting trump told him to commit a crime. a lot of people in trump world have been spinning and spinning. how do you spin a fact? this is a hard fact in a formal setting that's unavoidable. is he an anomaly? are we going to see more of that in. >> i think that's one of the big, big questions. if people like that begin to turn, you will see the numbers begin to crumble, support for trump begin to crumble. i think he is more protected in rural parts of the country where his base is very strong. but i think a danger part is in the suburbs. you have a lot of people in the suburbs are still open minded and haven't made up their mind necessarily. they like what trump has done for the economy. but they're probably aghast by all the rest. which way will they go? the republicans, after
watergate, the next midterm, it was a few months later, they lost 49 seats in the house and 5 seats in the senate. they could do that again, unless this republican wakes up and is tougher and less cautious and some would say cowardly about the way they're dealing with the president. >> the counterpoint to that, again, in the same "washington post" piece, from josh holmes, who advises mitch mcconnell, he says, i don't think anybody who is a trump supporter has been sitting around for the past six months baking their -- banking their support on the president's denial of his relationship with stormy daniels. is this baked in? >> i don't -- the president hasn't really moved, right, with his supporters. >> no. >> they don't necessarily care what he does. they think he is under siege and he has been under siege this entire time. in the president's defense, there hasn't been a lot of consequences for him personally
of all of these scandals unfolding. now we bring us to the midterms. if they lose the house, if they lose seats, sure, the president will blame it on other things. he will be a very large presence of that. that will be a real live consequence. we will have to see if that happens. if not, you will see a very emboldened president, if the republicans keep control. >> david? >> i think that's absolutely right. i come back to this, republicans, by tieing themselves as tightly as they have to donald trump, are going to face more and more problems unless they change course. from my point of view -- i know they won't do this. i know they will be against it. i think they ought to draw three red lines for the president. do not shut down the mueller investigation. second red line is, do not start pardoning people like paul manafort. third red line is, when and if mueller subpoenas you, go and testify. >> talk.
those are three stark red lines. >> yes. >> we will see if it comes to any of them. thank you all very much, jackie, david, good to have you this morning. the follow-up now to the helsinki summit between the president and vladimir putin. the president's national security adviser john bolton just moments ago met with his russian counterpart. here are the cliff notes. they do not agree on a lot when it comes to election meddling. truecar is great for finding new cars.
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this morning, south africa wants clarification for what it is calling, quote, hysterical comments from president trump. what were those comments? let me read you what the president wrote last night. i have asked secretary of state mike pompeo to study the south africa land and farm seizures and large-scale killing of farmers. they claimed they were seizing land from white farmers. david mckenzie joins me this morning. what is the president talking about? >> reporter: he is talking about a fox news report and a lightning rod often for white nationalists around the world. let me start off by saying there are two factual inaccuracies in the tweet and then the report. there are no farms being seized by the government. the other being that while there are -- there is a broad issue
with crime, of course, in south africa, there isn't some high level of farm murders specifically right now. in fact, one farm organization saying it's at a 20-year low. the issue broadly is this issue of land in south africa, which is a deeply emotional issue in this country with a racist past. 70% of people owning private land here are white south africans. you look at the demographics. that's something the government and others are trying to change. here is the response from the south africans. south africa rejects this narrow perception which only seems to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past. a very swift response, because of that tweet, which mentions the secretary of state. it takes on a whole official kind of air about it, even beyond the fact that it was the president of the united states wading into this issue. >> no response yet back to the south african government from the white house on it this
morning. we will keep an eye on that. thank you for the fact check this morning. meantime, national security adviser john bolton talking tough with his russian counterpart on election meddling. they just met. listen to this. >> we weren't able to reach agreement on that. we decided to go ahead and we will each speak individually, which is what i'm doing now. on the whole, i would say we made considerable progress. i made it clear that we wouldn't tolerate meddling in 2018 and that we were prepared to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening. >> this meeting that just happened today was a follow-up to the held sisinki summit. let's go to michelle kosinski. i mean, these two men not on the same page. bolton made that very clear. it was so difficult than with a we saw in helsinki. >> the u.s. and russia are it seems never going to be on the same page, at least any time soon, on election meddling.
russia denies it, calls it fake news, say it's a big hoax, sounds a lot like language we hear in other ways relating to russia on the part of the u.s. on election meddling, national security adviser john bolton has been tough on russia. some consider him to be a russia hawk. he has spoken out harshly against russian bad behavior many, many times in the past. when you get him in this kind of scenario, they are in geneva, he is with his russian counterpart, you feel certain he is going to raise it, he is going to say something like that. and he made it pretty clear that he said, it's not going to be tolerated. we're going to do something about it. do not mess in our elections. >> of course not. that's a silly question. i just spoke to him literally a few minutes ago.
we have performed here in exactly the way i think the two leaders would have expected us to. you know, honestly, have a little faith in the american people who elected him president. >> reporter: that sound was in response to a question from a bbc journalist at this press conference where they asked if president trump is a security risk. you heard john bolton there say, you know, no, have faith in the american people, they know how to pick a president. that's a silly question. with that, the press conference ended. >> okay. michelle, thank you for walking us through all of it this morning. up next for us, it's called catch and kill. this morning, we're learning new details about just how far michael cohen went to protect his client when trump was running for president.
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and if you're pregnant or planning to be. otezla. show more of you. welcome back. with michael cohen's guilty plea, new details about the "national enquirer's" relationship with the trump campaign has come to light. cohen admits he worked with american media, they owned the "national enquirer." he worked with them to bury stories that made then candidate trump look bad. it could have hurt him in winning the presidential election. we have learned that this so-called catch and kill strategy was conjured up just after then candidate trump
entered the race, back in 2015. brian stelter is with me. he is our senior media correspondent. this is your reporting. walk us through how extensively we now know michael cohen worked with ami to bury this stuff. >> we heard about catch and kill for several months. it had been based on media reports. now for the first time, michael cohen in his own words is admitting to this behavior. that's part of the guilty plea. there's so much detail in these government court filings. some of the detail does involve this media company that was acting more like a political advocacy group than a newsroom. the "national enquirer," everyone knows it. it's a supermarket tablet. it does enplmploy journalists. it's incredible to think that behind the scenes, it was hearing about bad news for trump and burying it with the help of michael cohen. this was a partnership behind the scenes where they were weaponized to help trump and
hurt his enemies. >> what about the guy at the helm of this? it appears from "the wall street journal" reporting, he is cooperating with prosecutors. >> that's the new development that i think make u.s. wonder about the friendship between trump pecker. he provided details, including trump's knowledge of the deals. when pecker was subpoenaed earlier this year, he cooperated. he handed over a lot of information to prosecutors. that would indicate -- that's one of the reasons why the government was able to get cohen to plead guilty. the government had a lot of evidence. >> we know the president loves, i think is a fair word, loves the "national enquirer." let's jog people's memory about what he has said over the years. >> the "national enquirer" did a story. they have a very good record of
being right. i have always said, why didn't the "national enquirer" get the pulitzer prize for edwards and o.j. simpson? you can't knock the "national enquirer." it has brought many things to light, not all of them pleasant. >> yes, that's true. >> especially about trump's enemies and opponents. >> just flatly untrue things. ted cruz's father and -- >> this pecker and trump friendship, in the past he said pecker should run "time." there's all these tweets about his friend david pecker. they are palm beach buddies. now that we know he cooperated, it makes you wonder, is trump going to turn against pecker. >> i know one other new development from michael cohen's information is that there could be more people within the trump campaign that were involved in squashing these stories. >> this is still the mystery. this is the part we don't know.
court filings say cohen and pecker worked with one or more members of the trump campaign in this partnership to keep bad news out of the news. we don't know how many of those campaign members were involved and who they were. that is an unknown. we do know this started just two months after trump's campaign started. according to the government, this collaboration started in august 2015. it make u.s you think when trums bashing the fake news, attacking real journalists, think about his record. he had a media company in his pocket helping him during the campaign. he seems to have an interesting relationship with this particular source of news. >> thinking, i did it then, why can't i do it now. duncan hunter set to be in court later today on charges he and his wife misused a quarter of a million dollars in campaign finances. to buy big things, nice trips to
hawaii and italy, luxurious vacations and an airline ticket for the family pet rabbit. hunter maintains he is innocent. he calls the charges dirty tricks brought on by democrats. sources tell cnn that the decision was made by a u.s. attorney appointed by republican attorney general jeff sessions. the president says the stock market would crash if he were impeached. one of trump's former economic advisers weighs in on that next. hey allergy muddlers.
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that would only be if democrats take the house back in november. the president warns, don't go down that road. here is how he explains it. listen. >> you know, i guess it's something like high crimes and -- i don't know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job. i will tell you what, if i ever got impeached, i think the market would crash. i think everybody would be very poor. because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe in reverse. >> let's talk about that. with me now is steven moore, senior economics analysts for cnn. he advised the president on all things economy during the campaign. good to have you here. we're going to get to china tariffs in a moment. i had to get to you to ask you to weigh in on that statement. can i just read it again? if he were impeached, the market would crash and a lot of people would be very poor.
really? >> look, this is a president who has phenomenal economic record since the day he was elected. there's no question. the stock market is up 40% since the election of donald trump. the economy is firing on all cylinders. i think that if trump were removed from office, i don't think that's going to happen, but if it did, i think it would cause a lot of problems for the stock market. >> mike pence would be president then. >> that's a great point. >> with the same policies. >> that's a fair point. i'm going to make another point that's related to this. i made this point a couple months ago on cnn and got a lot of blow back. richard nixon probably would not have been impeached or had to leave office if he had been presiding under a strong economy. i'm not excusing anything about what richard nixon did with respect to watergate. president nixon could not withstand the political heat
because americans felt like the direction the economy and the direction of the country was going in the wrong direction at that time. >> would you extend that analogy then to president clinton and the economy then in. >> yes. exactly. the economy was doing wonderfully. the stock market was through the roof. americans said, we don't care about this stuff. as long as the country is going in the right direction, as it is now, people -- look at -- >> that's essentially you saying the co-equal branch of government, congress doesn't care at all about its responsibility to check the executive branch. >> i'm not saying that. i'm just saying -- >> you are saying as long as the chi is go economy the -- >> when the economy is doing really well, as it is doing right now, and -- look what's happened to donald trump's approval rating with the american people.
even as these -- the russia story and the story with manafort and cohen have evolved, donald trump's approval rating has gone up. how do you explain that ? >> it's 42%. i'm going with our poll. we're going to use our polling. i can speak to the methodology there. it's above where presidents clinton, reagan and carter were at this point in their presidency. he would shall see. let me get to you on this, that's what's happening right now, midnight overnight the new tariffs, 25% taxes on chinese goods kicked in. china retaliated. this transpired in the last few hours. the federal reserve warned yesterday that if this escalates, it's going to depress the economy, it's going to hurt the soaring economy. has the president miscalculated on this one? >> i think actually trump is winning on this trade war with china. i think you are seeing china starting to show signs of real
panic. your general point is right that if this escalates, it's bad for the economy. there's no doubt about this. if trump wins and gets real concessions and capitulation from china, which i predict is going to happen before the end of the year, then i think the economy is even stronger. yes, this is a risky strategy. it's a high-stakes game of poker trump is playing. i think he will win. >> can you help me understand why? you are saying this. my guest last hour who is a businessowner, supportive of the tariffs about to testify before congress tomorrow said this. you are predicting. can you point me to one piece of evidence that shows you that xi is bending? >> well, look at what's happened to the chinese stock market. it's down 20% this year. you are seeing a lot of disinvestment in china. the growth rate has been cut in half. my sources -- i do have sources who follow the chinese economy, tell me there's a real sense of
panic. that's not just me. "the wall street journal" reported this, "the washington post" reported it, there's a real sense of panic. they don't know how to deal with donald trump. they can't withstand a trade war. i made this point before and i will make it again. if we can't trade with china, would it hurt the u.s. economy? absolutely it would hurt us. if china can't trade with the united states, it throws their economy into a recession. they can't withstand this trade war. i think they will back down. i really do. >> i think all american people, regardless of their politics, hope you are right and hope this does not depress the economy. we gotta see. steven moore, it's nice to have you on. thanks for being with me. >> thank you. ohio state has sis speuspens head football coach urban meyer for mishandling abuse allegations regarding a former assistant coach under him. you will hear from meyer next. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job
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on the built ford tough f-150. so hurry and save big on ford, america's best-selling brand. get zero percent financing for sixty months plus twenty-eight hundred bonus cash on a 2018 f-150 xlt equipped with 2.7 liter ecoboost. welcome back. ohio state has suspended their head football coach urban meyer for first three games of the season. some people blasting this this morning saying, that's it ? >> this is a partial suspension. the final two weeks of the suspension, he is able to coach during the week. he is not allowed to coach the game. this bleacher report brought to you by ford, going further so
you can. it took the board of trustees 11 hours of discussion to come to this conclusion. the main topic they were discussing, meyer's response or lack thereof. he failed to take sufficient management action. meyer offered this response. >> what message do you have for courtney smith? >> i have a message for everyone involved in this. i'm sorry we're in this situation. i'm just sorry we're in this situation. >> failure to acknowledge her directly has also gained heat for him. meyer admitted he knew about a 2009 abuse allegation made by smith's ex-wife but he was not aware of a 2015 incident until last month. zach smith denied the abuse allegations. he was fired from the team in
july. smith's attorney told cnn his client should not have married courtney smith adding vengeance against her ex-husband resulted in collateral damage to urban meyer, gene smith and the ohio state university. a federal investigation is being pursued into ohio state's response to allegations of sexual abuse against a former athletic doctor. the long awaited, much anticipated head to head match play showdown between tiger woods and phil mickelson is on. it's for high stakes. the grand prize is for a whopping $9 million. winner taking all. they are billing this like a heavyweight title fight in boxing. you know there's going to be trash talking involved. there's also cool opportunities. bleacher report will be at the forefront giving access, live coverage will be available on
bleacher report live app as well as directv. they will mike these two. it's going to be very interesting. >> really? is there a seven second delay? >> that's a great question. i don't think so. i would watch out. >> no trash talking. i appreciate it. thank you for being with me today. see you tomorrow morning. "at this hour" starts now. hello. i'm erica hill in for kate bolduan. friends, felons and the fallout. president trump sits down with fox news and unleashes jaw-dropping remarks on threats to his administration, both real and imagined. distancing himself from michael cohen, the former fixer, his one-time attorney. the man who joined the trump organization in 2006 and the same man who now says the president violated campaign finance laws.