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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump's Lawyer, Michael Cohen, Reveals His Secret Client is Sean Hannity; Judge Orders Government to Turn Over Materials to Cohen's Legal Team; "The Washington Post:" Trump Stopped New Russia Sanctions a Day after Ambassador Nikki Haley Said They Were Coming; President Trump Lashes out Again at "Slimeball" Comey; Supporters of President Trump on the Comey Interview. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 16, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Today, an adult film actress was in a courtroom. The lawyer for the president of the United States, a lawyer who paid to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with that president and that wasn't the bombshell in the hearing, not even close. At the hearing in New York, the judge decided whether the president and Michael Cohen's legal teams will get to review files seized by the FBI before prosecutors do. More in that a moment.
But also, that was not the bombshell. The most stunning moment probably came when Michael Cohen was forced to reveal the identity of a mystery client whose name he tried to keep quiet and that client is Fox News host Sean Hannity. So, it would seem the president and Sean Hannity share more than dinners and frequent phone calls in a mutual love of Fox News programming. They also share an attorney.
This did not come out willingly in court. Cohen's attorney said the client had asked not to have their name revealed. The judge said that wasn't a good enough reason to keep the name concealed, ordered Cohen's lawyers to reveal the name and that name as I said was Sean Hannity.
So, Michael Cohen's clients that we know of, the president, former RNC official Elliott Broidy who paid off a woman he had an affair with which led to an abortion, and Sean Hannity of Fox News.
Here's the way Sean Hannity explained it on his radio show after the news broke, after Michael Cohen's legal team said explicitly in court, Sean Hannity is Michael Cohen's client.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I've known Michael a long, long time; and let me be very clear to the media: Michael never represented me in any matter. I never retained him in the in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid legal fees to Michael.
But I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective and I assume that those conversations were attorney-client confidential.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: So, he seems to be saying I was not really a client of attorney Michael Cohen's but our conversations are confidential because he is an attorney and I am his client. Now, regardless of the exact nature of their attorney-client relationship, even if it is as Hannity says on Twitter almost exclusively about real estate, let's not forget that one week ago today, there was a raid on Michael Cohen's office and Hannity reported on it on Fox News as if he had absolutely no connection to the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: This is a Fox News alert. President Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen just had his office, his home and his hotel that he was staying in raided by the FBI today in an early morning raid. Now, what that means as Mueller's witch-hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, no disclosure, no disclaimer, not even the casual mention that, oh, yes, this guy also represents me in some form or fashion, mostly real estate, no mention of that, that he passes along for your legal advice and private consultations.
Sean Hannity also talks about it on his radio show.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HANNITY: This opens up an area where it seems that there's no -- there's no limit at all into the fishing expedition that Mueller is now engaged in. And if he has access to everything that his personal attorney has, I can only imagine where that's going to lead.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: He could definitely imagine at least one place where it might lead, to his own name. Sean Hannity is already starting to fuss and fume that the media is going crazy with this and it says that there's no there there. Perhaps there isn't but not disclosing a business or legal relationship with someone you report on and have had as on your guests at least 16 times since the president -- since Donald Trump declared his candidacy, that doesn't sound either fair, nor balanced.
CNN Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz was in the courtroom today. He joins us now.
So, talk about the first of all the judge's ruling today.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So, essentially, it was a small victory I would say perhaps for Michael Cohen and his legal team there. Their whole point in filing this motion was to be able to review the materials that the FBI seized the week ago and they wanted to review it. They wanted to have an opportunity to discuss about what is privileged and what the government should not have access to.
So, today, the judge ordered prosecutors, the government here to turn over, to make copies of various documents, some 10 boxes, it was revealed today, in court of the FBI now has with material that they seized from Michael Cohen, electronic devices and hard drives.
And all of that now has to be copied and hand it over to Michael Cohen's attorneys. So, is it clear based on what happened in court today whether or not Sean Hannity actually is Michael Cohen's client?
PROKUPECZ: Well, much like everything else since Friday with this hearing, it's been a little confusing because for since Friday, the judge has been saying to Michael Cohen and his attorneys, tell us who Michael cone represents and there's always been this blurred line and I think this goes to the argument that prosecutors have been making that Michael Cohen has these interesting relationships with people that aren't necessarily people he's representing.
[20:05:07] It's there's just this vague sort of line here that prosecutors say does not always mean that these people are his clients. Sean Hannity, as you as you played earlier, denied that he -- that Michael Cohen represented him. But Michael Cohen's attorneys used the argument that Michael Cohen was his attorney and, therefore, should not release who this third client was that wound up being Sean Hannity.
Certainly, Anderson, I can tell you, you know, having been in this courtroom when that happened, it was a stunning moment. I mean, there was just the audience, people sitting around the courtroom, the reaction was quite audible and many folks were certainly, certainly shocked after the judge ordered him to release the name of this client, Anderson.
COOPER: So, just what does the ruling mean in terms in the investigation moving forward? It certainly seems to be a delay, yes?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, absolutely, Anderson. This is definitely a delay. The prosecutors did not want this. They've been arguing since Friday that this was stall tactic by Michael Cohen and his attorney, by the president's attorneys who have now intervened, who also want to view this material.
So, this prevents the investigators from looking at any of the information, any of the documents that were seized in the raid. It's now up to a taint team that is run by the government that has no access to the investigation, to go over some of the materials that are going to be provided to Michael Cohen's attorneys. But in terms of the investigation, in terms of this material that was seized, the investigators will not have access for it until the judge decides what they should look at Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks.
Lots to sort out. Joining me now, Gloria Borger, Anne Milgram and David Axelrod. None of whom have ever -- I have ever consulted with for private legal advice or free legal advice, nor real estate advice.
So, Anne, we'll get to the Sean Hannity thing in a moment. But just the substance of the hearing, who's happier tonight, the Michael Cohen, President Trump's team, or Stormy Daniels?
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think -- I do think it's a mix, but I think -- I wouldn't classify it as a win for Michael Cohen and the president. I mean, they're asked -- their first ask was really, let us decide what's privileged and what isn't, give us all the information back, let us go through it and then we'll give to the government what we don't think is privileged. The judge said absolutely no to that.
And so, the government -- what the government wants is the ability for their taint team to review all the materials and then push out anything that is questionable to debate with the lawyers for Michael Cohen and the president. And what Michael Cohen's lawyer said is, OK, if you won't give it all to us, appoint a special master which would be an independent third party, that would go through all of it.
COOPER: Instead of the taint team.
MILGRAM: Instead of the taint team.
And the challenge for the government with that is that and, look, I think -- it's clear in a case like this that nothing that's attorney- client privilege is going to be reviewed by the investigators. The question is how they get there, and the government does do this regularly. The question is, will the judge defer to the government as would normally be the case or which he appoint a special master?
The issue with the special master really becomes one of timing, that it tends to take longer and puts a little bit more delay, but I think that's what she's weighing now and she hasn't decided that yet.
COOPER: So, she hasn't decided who the special master is?
MILGRAM: She hasn't decided whether for certain, she'll do a special master. But she asked to have four names given from each side, and that's an indication that she's seriously considering it. And so, the lawyers have said that they'll provide those names to her tomorrow.
COOPER: Who would normally be like a former judge or something?
MILGRAM: A former judge, a former attorney general, former prosecutor or someone who might have been a U.S. attorney, but someone who would be a very well-respected lawyer.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean, the longer that the Cohen's team can run out the clock on this process, does it take some of the pressure off him to cooperate with the government, whether it's federal prosecutors or Manhattan or potentially a special counsel?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it might because it's significant for them to get judicial review and that could obviously, if you've just been talking about take longer, but I was speaking with a source today, a legal source who's close to this case who said, look, the reason they got this search warrant in the first place leads you to believe that they -- they're close to something.
And so, we don't know that what they are looking for was key evidence that they need in order to complete their case against Michael Cohen or whether it's confirming evidence that they would just have liked. So, if they were close and they wanted to just secure this evidence as additional evidence, then maybe they can go -- you know, they can do whatever they wanted to do with Michael Cohen in the first place without waiting for all of this, that they could continue to move.
On the other hand, if they felt that they needed this evidence to indict say, then it will take longer and then it will help, you know, then it will help Michael cone because this is a process and, of course, they have the opportunity during this process to appeal.
COOPER: David, I mean as for the Sean Hannity revelation, he says he wasn't Michael Cohen's client in the, quote/unquote, traditional sense. Do you have any idea what that means?
[20:10:01] DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. First of all, my instinct when I heard this was that somewhere, there's a "Scandal" writer or TV writer or "House of Cards" writers slapping their head and saying, why didn't I think of this? I mean, it is so unbelievable, this twist of the plot. But I don't know what it could be.
And, obviously, the fact that they said he was a client and he'd be -- he was embarrassed to have his name released I think was telling. If I were Hannity, I'd be embarrassed as well having gone off on the rampage he did about this Cohen business without revealing that he was in file.
Now, Sean Hannity is not at the end at the end of the day, a journalist. He's not a reporter. He's an infotainer. And so, perhaps, he doesn't hold himself to those standards.
But can you imagine how the folks on Fox would have howled, Anderson, if you, for example, had shown up as a as a client in a situation like this?
So, you know, I think it's a sticky wicket. And if he's not a client, why did his lawyers say he was? So, it raises all kinds of questions.
COOPER: Yes. Anne, I mean, if you're not a -- if you haven't paid somebody and you've consulted them for advice Sean Hannity claims about real estate primarily, although I don't know what that it means exactly, what the other stuff would have been, can you -- can you automatically say it's privileged?
MILGRAM: Well, you can still be a client even if you haven't paid a lawyer yet, and sometimes you get advice and will pay later. Sometimes you don't pay. But the real question is, were you asking for legal advice and guidance. And then the second piece of this is always that, you know, Sean
Hannity had this conversation with Michael Cohen and somebody else was in the room, then it's not privileged. You know, if they were talking about committing a crime, for example, or engaging in criminal behavior, fraud, it's not privileged. So, it really does come down to this question about --
COOPER: But he's asking about some real estate deal.
MILGRAM: Sure, you know --
COOPER: If it's a business deal --
MILGRAM: If it's a business deal, then it's not legal advice, right? You could be on either side of that. And so, I think, you know, if it's for legal advice, look how should I structure -- you know, how would you think about this legal arrangement, then that could be attorney-client related.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean, Hannity's I get -- you know, he's not a journalist certainly. He's essentially at this point a shadow spokesman for the president. I guess, though, I will say I'm even surprised that he would not -- you know, just to inform his viewers in the some 16 times that Michael Cohen has been on that we counted since Donald Trump announced a candidacy, that he would not at least say, you know what, I've consulted Michael Cohen for advice over the years --
COOPER: -- on real estate stuff.
BORGER: Right. You know, you would expect -- you would expect that someone would do that and say, you know, in the interest of full disclosure, I've gone to Michael Cohen for advice informally over the years about real estate.
That didn't happen. You point out he's not really -- he's not really a journalist and, you know, my sources say to me, look, he didn't 2specifically when he was having these conversations with Michael Cohen, he didn't specifically say, oh, this is covered under attorney- client because it was so informal, that it wouldn't need to be said. But at this point, at this point, it's very clear when you look at the court proceedings that Hannity expects it and didn't want his name mentioned, you know, even mentioned today. And I think there's a sense that Michael Cohen kind of threw Sean Hannity under the bus here.
COOPER: Well it also, David, it's interesting to me because you know, for -- if that -- if Sean Hannity is one of his three clients in the last 10 years, that says a lot about what he's doing for President Trump. I mean, the second client was this -- you know, this RNC guy, you know, this Republican donor Elliott Broidy, you know, and with the hush payment to a former, you know, playmate I think it was or a Playboy model or penthouse model, I get them confused -- playmate I'm told -- it does seem to then be really his client is Donald Trump.
AXELROD: Right, and I don't think that Michael Cohen has been spending late nights rifling through legal documents and journals and catacells (ph). He is -- you know, he is what he has been advertised to be, he is a fixer and he has been Donald Trump's fixer for the last so many years.
And I think what the government is arguing and would know better than I is that he really is bet hardly a lawyer at all, that much of what he does has nothing to do with law in the traditional sense. He's out there and he's fixing stuff.
AXELROD: And so, I think that's why they feel like the privilege doesn't apply too much of the material that they have gathered on it.
COOPER: Yes, it's fascinating day.
Gloria Borger, Anne Milgram and David Axelrod, thanks.
Up next, Hannity, Cohen and the president, the love that dare not speak its name. The president pushes his TV program, the TV host pushes the president, and Michael Cohen seems to whisper in both their ears.
[20:15:00] Details than that.
Plus, Stormy Daniels was in court today. You'll hear what she had to say and I'll speak with her lawyer Michael Avenatti. Stick around.
COOPER: So now that Michael Cohen's mysterious third client has been revealed to be Fox host Sean Hannity, the feedback loop continues to feed upon itself. This is a new one, but we've known for a while that the president takes accused or gets some pointers from Fox News and vice-versa and that he and Hannity are in frequent contact.
Randi Kaye tonight has more.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How good is Hannity, he said? How good is Hannity?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump in Phoenix last year, slamming the media as divisive, yet complimenting his pal Sean Hannity. The Fox News host and the president have a long and cozy history.
As recently as last month, Trump hosted Hannity for dinner at his Mar- a-Lago resort. The two men discussed immigration with Hannity pushing Trump on the border wall for the sake of the upcoming midterm elections. Hannity acted as an informal advisor during the campaign, but their relationship began long before Trump ran for president. Back in 2009, Trump was a regular guest on Hannity show talking about
the tea party. The two men became fast friends with Hannity backing Trump on his outlandish conspiracy theories, like Trump's false notion that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States.
[20:20:03] TRUMP: Look, he's got a grandmother in Kenya who said he was born in Kenya at the hospital.
HANNITY: But the issue would go away in a minute --
TRUMP: I don't understand --
KAYE: The Trump-Hannity connection is unique. The two reportedly still talk regularly. As frequent Fox News guests Newt Gingrich put it, it's the New York thing, they talk the same language. Over the years, Hannity has become one of the most dependable pro Trump voices on TV openly advising the president on issues like Russia.
HANNITY: If I was advising the president, I say, let this investigation go forward.
KAYE: Hannity hitched himself to the future president early on. At the 2015 CPAC gathering, Hannity wore a Trump brand necktie to interview Trump. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough has reportedly called Hannity Trump's lapdog, but that hasn't stopped Hannity from defending the president.
HANNITY: So, the Never Trumpers like Senator Flake, they don't seem to understand that by blocking the president's agenda, and you see the reaction he gets around the country, they're only harming you the American people.
KAYE: Listen to Hannity in the hours after Donald Trump's former campaign manager was indicted.
HANNITY: This indictment has nothing -- let me repeat -- nothing to do with Trump/Russia collusion. Zip, zero, nada.
KAYE: And like the president, Hannity dismisses the Russia investigation as a witch-hunt. The two men are so close that even after Trump bragged about grabbing women's genitals on the "Access Hollywood" tape, Hannity stood by him.
Hannity even backed the president on his false claims that his inaugural crowd was the largest ever.
Trump for his part often promotes Hannity's program, like this recent tweet: big show tonight on Sean Hannity.
It's a bromance where it seems both men benefit.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
COOPER: With me now, criminal defense attorney, professor Alan Dershowitz, author of the book "Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy", and former Obama White House ethics czar, Norm Eisen.
Professor Dershowitz, welcome back. You were on Hannity's program the day of the Cohen raid. You said it's a very dangerous day for lawyer- client relations.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Right.
COOPER: What do you make of the fact that you were actually saying that to somebody who according to Michael Cohen was a client, although according to Sean Hannity, not a client.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, you know, he was in a very difficult situation. He's not going to not talk about the Cohen raid obviously, and he didn't want it to be known that he was a client. Look, I think you had to make a choice and I think the choice should have been to disclose to the viewers that he has a relationship. He could have described their relationship in any way he wanted, but the viewers have a right to know there's a relationship.
COOPER: Just in terms of -- I mean, do you believe he is a client? I mean, if somebody is just getting you know free legal advice from somebody --
COOPER: -- who he has on a show a lot, what is that? Is that --
DERSHOWITZ: Well, every week, somebody comes over to me when I'm leaving here or somewhere else and says, I just ask you one quick legal question. I'm very tough -- no, you have to establish a lawyer- client relationship, otherwise, whatever you tell me is public knowledge. So, you know, I taught legal ethics for years. Norm Eisen was the legal ethicist. We understand that.
A lawyer like Cohen, somebody like Hannity wouldn't really understand that people sometimes hand me a dollar, and they say here's a dollar, I've just retained you, you're my lawyer. No, I'd give the dollar back.
COOPER: If you accepted a dollar retainer, you're pretty much a lawyer and you are.
Ambassador Eisen, Sean Hannity says Cohen never did any legal work involving a third party, never retained him or received an invoice. This was mostly about real estate.
What - how does this smell to you?
NORMAN EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it does smell a little off. Anderson, I have to agree with Alan, there are ethics rules, just like we as lawyers have ethics rules. And it's universal among journalists -- the radio, television and digital journalists news organization, the International Federation of Journalists, all of them have a code, you have to -- if you can't have conflicts, if you do, you have to disclose.
So, I don't -- I don't think it's right. And there's other strange things Anderson because Hannity threw Cohen under the bus when he said I never retains him. He -- words the effect, Cohen didn't represent him, he never gave him money.
Then, Hannity switched and he did just what Alan talked about, but it sounded a little too schooled. On his show, he said, well, maybe I gave him $10 and said I want to be protected by the attorney-client privilege. Come on. Clients don't talk like that.
So, I think the whole thing reeks.
COOPER: But it doesn't work that way.
[20:25:01] I mean, can a person believe if they're talking to a friend who's an attorney and getting just some advice and we don't know if it's actually a legal deal or a real estate deal that is not talking about, can they expect there to be a attorney-client -- how do you know if there's going to be a attorney-client privilege?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, anybody ought to ask, you ought to be very clear about it. But people do have expectations. People do think that if they talk to me at a cocktail party, where there are other people around, and asked me for legal advice, they subjectively believe that somehow they've established the lawyer/client relationship with me. But they haven't.
COOPER: So, you really have to ask somebody. You say, is this a privilege --
DERSHOWITZ: And the lawyer should take the initiative and say, this is not a lawyer-client conversation. Do not count on me protecting you if I'm subpoenaed or even asked by the press whether we've had a conversation.
So, it's very important. Now, the one area where I think the judge may have created a problem is when she categorically ruled today that the name of a client is never covered by lawyer-client privilege. If that's what she said, I haven't read her opinion. There are exceptions.
There are some cases where the name is regarded as lawyer client classified. If going to the lawyer itself requires confidentiality. For example -- this is a good close example -- if there's a lawyer who's only a fixer and only fixes cases involving guys who have had affairs with women, you don't want to be known as that guy's client because if you are, you know why you went to him. And in cases like that, the courts have protected the names of clients when they've sought to be disclosed.
Professor Dershowitz, thanks very much. Ambassador Norm Eisen, thanks as well. Still ahead, Stormy Daniels had strong words for the president's lawyer Michael Cohen -- what she said outside the courtroom. We'll also talk to her attorney Michael Avenatti, when we come back.
[20:30:17] COOPER: We're now in a breaking news, a new rolling tonight as the President's Michael Cohen tries to block prosecutors from reviewing records sees from him, a federal judge ordering the government to turn for Comey's records and allowing Cohen's legal team to look at what they believe should be protected under attorney client privilege.
Also Fox News Sean Hannity, one of Comey's client, though Mr. Hannity is pushing back on that. And adult film star Stormy Daniels was also in the courtroom today. Some of the documents seized from Cohen last week were related to the $130,000 payment he made to Daniels right before the election to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with the President. Stormy Daniels spoke to reporters as she left the court house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: So for years, Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law. He has considered himself and openly referred to himself as Mr. Trump's fixer. He has played by a different set of rules, or shall we say no rules at all.
He has never thought that the little man or especially, women, and even more women like me matter. That ends now. My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everybody finds out the truth and the facts of what happened. And I give my word that we will not rest until that happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, also in the courtroom today, it was Ms. Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti who joins us now. I could think the Sean Hannity thing in a moment, just the ruling by the judge today is it -- do you see it as a partial win for Michael Cohen because since they at least get to name potential master to look over the documents that have been taken?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, you know, I call it more like kissing your sister, I don't know that's a win, I mean it's certainly not a loss. But what they really wanted to do, Anderson, was -- they wanted to get control of the documents back. And get them back from the government so they can make the determination relating to privilege with the President, the Trump organization --
COOPER: That would have been a very big wind obviously if they were the ones determining what was privileged and what was not.
AVENATTI: Correct. And one of the reasons that we were there was to make sure that it did not happen because we believe the integrity of the documents making sure documents don't magically disappear is of the utmost importance for our case out in California. So we wanted to avoid any spoliation in the law or anything of that nature. And so we were happy that the judge seems very focused on ensuring that, that does not happen.
COOPER: You said I think it was yesterday that you believe within the next 90 days there may be an unsealing of an indictment against Cohen for what you said where I host a very serious offenses, we don't know if that is true. I'm not sure what you are basing that on. But what happened today did that slow down your belief in the timetable?
AVENATTI: No, not at you all. I stand behind that. It's my belief based on some pretty good information that I have and, you know, look, I think my track record has been pretty good over the last six weeks. I think that's going to happen in the next 90 days, and I think it's going to be a significant domino to fall and it's going to be serious, serious consequences from there on out.
COOPER: What was it like in the courtroom when the revelation was made about Sean Hannity.
AVENATTI: Well, Anderson, you need to understand there was a huge build up. There was about 20 minutes of build up to that moment because --
COOPER: Where the Cohen's attorneys were resisting this?
AVENATTI: Correct, Michael Cohen's attorneys were resisting, disclosing who the third client was. It was considerable debate back and forth with the judge, with the assistant U.S. attorney, with others in the courtroom, back and forth as to whether it was going to be disclosed.
In fact, at one point, Michael Cohen's attorney told the judge that they had been instructed by this client. At that time we didn't know who it was, that if she ordered the name disclose, they were to take an immediate appeal of the judges rolling --
COOPER: They claim the client has said, meaning Sean Hannity had said that?
AVENATTI: Correct and it was basically a warning shot to judge Wood. And you know, Judge Wood is been around a long time. She is an exceptional judge. She's not going to be intimidated by stuff like that. And -- but they were trying to send the message it went no where with her and then ultimately, the judge said I want you to publicly disclose it. And the attorney for Michael Cohen said, do you want me to say it orally, state it orally or put it on a piece of paper and I thought for sure he was going to put it on a piece of paper and handed up to the judge. It's kind of a Hail Mary with the idea that maybe the judge looks at it and says, well, I want to thank about this.
But lo and behold he said the client's name is Sean Hannity and it was like, Anderson, a bomb went off in this federal courtroom. I mean there were gasped, there was -- you know, eight or 10 journalists and all of a sudden abruptly stood up.
COOPER: Were you one of the people gasping?
AVENATTI: No. I was surprise. But -- you know, quite honestly and it's been reported -- I mean, my reaction was, well, at least now we know why Fox News hasn't been covering our case for six weeks.
COOPER: It is surprising that Sean Hannity has not -- and all the time he interviewed Michael Cohen ever said, oh just full disclosure, you know, we have a long relationship and I ask him for advice sometimes?
AVENATTI: Well, again, I am not a journalist. I mean, I don't know the standards by which you and other exceptional journalists live by. I mean, you guys I'm sure you're going to analyze this and what needed to be disclose or not.
[20:35:05] What I will say is this, you know, I think Michael Cohen -- I think Sean Hannity should have had his own counsel in the courtroom. I think that Michael Cohen's counsel -- you know, somewhat threw him under the bus in the hearing and I mean that is my take-away from it. I think it should have been handled differently than it was.
COOPER: You filed an objection to the President Michael Cohen's request for stay in the Daniels' lawsuit to the criminal investigation In New York. Do you have a sense of when that stay will be ruled on?
AVENATTI: So their reply is due on Tuesday evening. And Judge Otero, who is incredibly thorough, and he is on top of the things like you cannot believe. I would imagine that he is probably going to issue a ruling on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday and we're very confident in our position.
COOPER: So your case moves regardless of what happens in New York?
AVENATTI: That is correct. I mean, they're in parallel tracks right now. And if we're successful in defeating a motion to stay, the next up is our motion relating to the deposition of Michael Cohen and the President.
COOPER: All right. Michael Avenatti, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said new sanctions against Russia were coming. The President reportedly not so fast. We'll ask the Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley about that and wars between the president and his former FBI Director Jim Comey, that's next.
COOPER: There was an announcement we expected from the Trump administration today that did not come tied to Syria and Russia. Nikki Haley the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. mentioned it yesterday. Take a look what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:40:08] NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: So you will see that Russia sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn't already. And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used. And so, I think everyone is going to feel it. But at this point, I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that did not happen today. I want to find out why, joining us now is Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. Hogan, thanks for being with us.
When Nikki Haley said that yesterday that, Russian sanctions are going to be announced today, did she misspeak? Was she misinformed? Did the announcement get canceled after she spoke? And is the White House concerned at all that it may9 reinforce the narrative that things are chaotic?
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, look, I mean U.N. Ambassador Hailey has done an incredible job for this administration, one of the strongest voices for the American ideals across the globe. But --
COOPER: So what happened?
GIDLEY: The administration is looking at sanctions on Russia, potentially some more sanctions, quite frankly. But we don't have any announcement to make at this time.
COOPER: So how did she -- I mean because, you know, everybody, as you said, she is very practiced and very careful on what she says and often has private conversations with the President before she appears on television from other reporting that I've read. Did she just misspeak or was she misinformed or did the President change his mind?
GIDLEY: Look, I can't speak for Nikki Haley, she was my governor, I have known her for a long time both being from South Carolina, but what I can tell you is there is a change that we do issue more sanctions, we just don't have the decision yet from the administration.
COOPER: The "Washington Post" as if I know, is reporting that the President himself told to them because he was not comfortable executing them at this point. And if that's true, do you know why the President isn't comfortable executing sanctions against Russia right now?
GIDLEY: Look, I'm not going to get into interim deliberations as to what the President will do or won't do as it relates to potential sanctions forthcoming on Russia. What I can tell you though, is no one's been tougher on Russia than this president. As you know -- COOPER: Well, it sounds like Nikki Haley is actually tougher than this President.
GIDLEY: No, that's not true at all. Look, the President is the only one who can make this decisions and he is the one who put forth the sanctions. Barack Obama wouldn't give legal aid to the Ukraine. He wouldn't open up oil exports to Eastern Europe. President Donald Trump did both of those things. We've closed down three diplomatic facilities in the country, in San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C. We expelled hundreds of Russians back to their country. I mean, this President has taken a tough stand on Vladimir Putin, he continues to this day up to including the fact we just struck Syria, one of --
GIDLEY: -- Russia's allies and we are considering more. We just don't have the more announcements to make on these potential sanctions today.
COOPER: The President did address the nation on Friday promising to respond of the Syrian's use of chemical weapons with crude oil instruments over national power military economic and diplomatic. How was he responding economically if with no new sanctions?
GIDLEY: Well, look, I mean, what the President did was come up with a leadership plan quite frankly that brought together our partners and allies in the region. He put together a surgical strategic strike to try and stop Syria and their use of chemical weapons on his own people. We all saw the videos, we all saw the pictures. It was gruesome, it was horrific. Russia also complicit in that for telling us for years that they were working to stop that chemical weapons program and they didn't do it. This President stood up and said we're not going to have that happen anymore. We're going to focus on joining with our partners and allies to ensure --
COOPER: But, I know --
GIDLEY: -- that these chemical weapons -- the infrastructure was shut down and we had a surgical attack and stooped it.
COOPER: That was military and I get diplomatic because you did in conjunction with the U.K. and France. But does economic --
GIDLEY: But it's economic too as Syria can't rebuild. I don't have the money to do anything when you do systematic destruction like we did with our partners in France and U.K. --
COOPER: So economic was in a reference said new sanctions?
GIDLEY: There are new potential sanctions out there, Anderson. I'm not going to get ahead or get into hypothetical as what the President may or may not do. We don't telegraph what we do in this White House as opposed to previous administration.
COOPER: Well, I think the President did telegraph, you know, using smart weapons to bomb Syria but, anyway. I want to ask you about James Comey, initially, when Comey initially cleared Hillary Clinton, the e-mail investigation, President Trump criticized and saying it was a rig system. Then went Comey announced the reopening of the case in October, the President said they have guts to for come and do that and that he brought back his reputation. Now the President is calling him a slimeball and a liar. It does appear that the President's opinion of Comey is really only based on whether or not Comey's actions are favorable or unfavorable to the President. What would you say to that?
GIDLEY: Not true. The President ultimately fired James Comey. Look, James Comey is a disgruntled, discredited, disgraced individual who was fired from the FBI by President Donald Trump. And he was fired because he leaked information some of which may or may not be classified, according to senders like Chuck Grassley and then he lied about it.
And as the chief, or I guess the head of the highest law enforcement division in all of the land, you cannot use politics, phone number and personal bias --
GIDLEY: -- to make decisions and that's exactly what James Comey did.
[20:45:06] COOPER: OK. But I'm confused --
GIDLEY: And every time he opens his mouth, and you know this, Anderson, he was the most hated person in this town until President Donald Trump fired him. Now he is the toast of the town. He's in every news cast --
COOPER: So -- right, but I'm confused --
GIDLEY: -- every broadcast particularly.
COOPER: I'm confused because when he was fired, I interviewed Kellyanne Conway that night, you all sent out a lot of people on television and you are all saying the reason he was fired was the way he treated Hillary Clinton. Then the next day the President said (INAUDIBLE), it was Russia and now you are saying he was fired for leaking information?
GIDLEY: No, I'm saying it's all of those things. Go back and look at what we now know.
COOPER: Is that the first person I heard that he was fired for leaking information.
GIDLEY: Right, you see this book tour now and you see all of the things that are starting to come out that James Comey himself admitted to doing. This is what the problem is. And when this town, as you know --
COOPER: -- the stories are shifting though like it was first -- it was being mean to Hillary Clinton which always seem unusual and the next day the President says it's Russia, and now it's leaking.
GIDLEY: No. No, but it's not unusual exclusive, Anderson. All of these things work together to show exactly why James Comey is a disgraced individual.
GIDLEY: It takes a lot to unite Republicans and Democrats in this town with the ranker and rhetoric that exist. As you know the polarization is incredible like -- the likes of which I have never seen before, but congratulations to James Comey, because you united everybody around your ridiculous book tour.
COOPER: All right. The New York Times reported recently that the President's advisors are more concerns with the investigation to Michael Cohen than they are about Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. Is the President himself also more concerns about the Cohen investigation at this point or the Mueller's investigation?
GIDLEY: Look, I can tell you that the President is a little bit frustrated and concerned about the direction that the Mueller's investigation has taken. But we've been fully cooperative with Special Counsel Mueller and as you know we've turned over thousands and thousands of pages of documents. We've given several people over for testimony. I mean we cooperated fully here.
COOPER: But to the question though, it did seem like the President when, you know, he was meeting with his military team talking prior to the strike on Syria, he clearly was very upset about the Cohen raid. Does -- Is that because he views it as more of a threat than the Mueller investigation, or more -- is it more of a concern for him right now.
GIDLEY: Look, I haven't spoken with him directly about the Cohen raid. What I can tell you is that the President's concern about the direction that the Mueller investigation has turned. But as far as Michael Cohen's concern I'm going to have to refer you to him where his personal attorney for any comment, any comment there.
COOPER: You know the other day, Sarah Sanders was asked if Michael Cohen is still in the President's confidence, is he still an employee, I mean, is he still a personal attorney of the President? Do you know the answer to that? Because Sarah Sanders wasn't really clear.
GIDLEY: No, she answered it today actually on Air Force One. And she said, what we all know, which is absolutely the President has a relationship with him. I don't know exactly the relationship as relates to a professional agreement they may or may not have. But you also know that the President has many attorneys. This isn't his only one. So, they still do have a relationship.
COOPER: But you are not sure if he is still an attorney -- GIDLEY: To the extent of that, I can't tell you how extensive it is.
COOPER: OK. All right, Hogan Gidley, I appreciate for being on. Thank you.
GIDLEY: Thanks so much for the time, Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, what supporters of President Trump have to say about the Comey interview? Our Gary Tuchman in Washington with the group of Republicans in South Carolina, we'll get their reaction when we continue.
[21:52:24] COOPER: More now on fired FBI Director James Comey for his T.V. interview promoting his new exclusive book, where he really doesn't move back and goes after President Trump calling him unfit for office referring to him as a mob boss.
The White House says President Trump watched bits and pieces of it, not the entire thing. Our Gary Tuchman watched all of it with the group of supporters of the President. Here is his report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Twenty-three active members of the Charleston County, South Carolina Republican Party scrutinizing the James Comey's interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would've you feel to be James Comey in the last 10 days of that campaign after you sent the letter?
JAMES COMEY, AUTHOR OF "A HIGHER LOYALTY": It sucked. I walked around vaguely sick to my stomach and feeling deep in down. I thought like I was totally alone and everybody hated me and that there wasn't a way out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still do.
TUCHMAN: In this live living room, no evidence of any pity for Comey.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What did you think of James Comey?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very seem weak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary, I think that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very pity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's 6'8" tall but he's a little man. I think he vanish the office of the FBI. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The head of the FBI doesn't feel like comfortable with it. (INAUDIBLE) it is not what I would expect from a man.
TUCHMAN: What's little liver mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weak.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Key moment of the interview.
COMEY: But I don't think he's medically unfit to be a President. I think his morally unfit to be a President.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Was a moment that angered many here.
TUCHMAN (on camera): And Comey said, his morally unfit to be a President.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is he to pass judgment?
TUCHMAN: Why isn't he allowed to pass judgment? He's a former FBI director?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? He was the top cop and he had the opportunity to call Trump out and he did it. He really felt that Trump was unfit -- morally unfit, he had the opportunity.
TUCHMAN: Would you believed him, if he said it at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would we?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And what about Comey saying the President asked for his loyalty? At the President's denial of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we know that he wasn't asking for him to protect our country loyalty?
TUCHMAN: Trump asked a lot of people for their loyalty and it's not about the country. That won't be against the personality that we know of Mr. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a businessman, I think he would ask the loyalty. If you are on my party, you get to be working for me, we need to be cohesive and yes, loyalty is very important.
TUCHMAN: But that's not the FBI's job to be loyalty to the President. That's the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not his job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say, I got this big, big, ball on you of Russia and constitute some stuff like that. That sentence staged very poorly.
TUCHMAN: So you blame Comey for making Trump paranoid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's exactly what he intended to do when he went on the first meeting --
[20:55:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was his intention.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And guess what? I'm going to work with you, but I got this on.
TUCHMAN: You know Comey is a Republican and Mueller is a Republican, Rosenstein is a Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Comey is --
TUCHMAN: So why would Comey want to make Trump be uncomfortable from the beginning?
TUCHMAN: Well, that was Jay after Hoover that was a long time ago. Why do you think Comey would want to make Trump uncomfortable?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're part of the swamp. Yes. He's trying to drain the swamp.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great.
TUCHMAN: The consensus here is that Comey is a dishonest broker or any that you're troubled with the President's grasp on the truth at some point?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not, you know --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe anybody is 100 percent always truthful and --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and in big powerful situation like he's in.
TUCHMAN: Why do you think Jim Comey would say all these lies about the President of the United States after this career?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because his childhood dream he would became the director of the FBI and that was spoiled by Donald Trump.
TUCHMAN: OK. Does that not trouble anybody?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
TUCHMAN: How come?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're way better off than with James Comey. Way better off.
COOPER: Gary joins us now. The Republicans Charleston, do any of them acknowledge the possibility that public reopening up the Clinton e-mail investigation. Comey they have swayed the election?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, we asked our group if anyone thought that Comey could have swayed the election towards Donald Trump and nobody raised their hands for a few seconds. And then one man on the back raised his hand and said, yes, I think it is a possibility. And then later someone came up to me and said the same thing.
So this group wasn't 100 percent unanimous. Also in another topic the nickname that Donald Trump has given James Comey, the nickname being, "slimeball." Many members of the group said I think it's fine to say "slime ball." Others say that it wasn't a very good thing for the president to say. Anderson.
COOPER: We appreciate everybody sitting down with Gary. Thanks very much.
Up next, the President's attorney, Michael Cohen forced to by a judge reveal a mystery client. Fox News Sean Hannity. Mr. Hannity is taking some issue with that when we continue.