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Trump and Kim Meet in Hanoi; Trump and Kim Speak in Vietnam; Cohen on WikiLeaks Dump. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired February 27, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much.
Thank you. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. President, have you declared an end to the Korean War, sir?
TRUMP: We'll see. (INAUDIBLE).
Thank you. Thank you so much for coming back (ph) (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: 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 touted in his relationship with Kim Jong-un. You saw them greet each other sort of formally, shake their hands, smile, and then it looked like Kim Jong- un cracked a joke that President Trump then laughed at and responded to.
We want to bring in now director -- former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who has been watching this along with us.
Director Clapper, tell us the significance of what you've just seen.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: 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 counter distract by some big concession to Kim Jong-un. For example, agreeing to withdraw troops from the peninsula in kind of the same spirit of the kind of gratuitous, giving up the joint exercises at -- in Singapore.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was striking to me -- Jim Sciutto was also a part of this conversation, obviously. Jim, you were in Singapore as well when the president met with Kim Jong-un.
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 a.m. Eastern Time, hours before Michael Cohen is about to testify in public. Kim Jong-un may be the best friend and best 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.
CLAPPER: Yes, there's a -- there's a certain irony we have --
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is. You know, and what the president's --
BERMAN: Jim Sciutto, go ahead.
SCIUTTO: I'll always defer to Director Clapper. But -- 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 that with punishing economic sanctions. And that's true. They're now meeting face-to-face for the second time.
SCIUTTO: The sanctions regime, although U.S. sanctions on North Korea --
SCIUTTO: International sanctions, not new, certainly. They go back to previous administrations. These have been tough --
CAMEROTA: Jim, hold on. We just want to tell our viewers that these are new, live pictures. This is happening at this moment. This is their first sit-down. They seem to be taking questions.
KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER: (speaking in foreign language).
TRANSLATOR: And I can't believe that the successful and great meeting that we are having today is (INAUDIBLE).
KIM: (speaking in foreign language).
TRANSLATOR: So during that 261 days since we last met, there have been some (INAUDIBLE). There have been (INAUDIBLE) situation. But there was a hostility that still remained from the very, very past period from the outside. But, however, we have been able to overcome all the obstacles and here we are today after 261 days (INAUDIBLE).
KIM: (speaking in foreign language).
TRANSLATOR: I truly believe that those 261 days were the days which were -- and during which our day is filled with a lot of thinking, a lot of effort and a lot of patience.
KIM: (speaking in foreign language)
[06:35:08] TRANSLATOR: Here we are today.
But here we are today and I hope that we can provide an outcome that is welcome by everyone. And I'm sure that we can do this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's really nice.
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've really rolled out the red carpet and they've -- they're very honored to have us. And it's great to be with you. We had a 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 think 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.
TRANSLATOR: (speaking foreign language).
TRUMP: 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 tremendous future with your country and good leader. And I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen. And we will help it to happen.
TRANSLATOR: (speaking foreign language).
TRUMP: Thank you all very much. We appreciate it.
And we're going to go have dinner. And then we have some big meetings scheduled for tomorrow. And we'll see you all, I guess, at a news conference at some point during the day.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) Michael Cohen and his testimony?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, guys.
BERMAN: All right, 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 an 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 (INAUDIBLE).
CAMEROTA: I'm also struck -- as you know I like body language -- I'm also struck by the optics of this, how deferential President Trump looks towards Kim Jong-un.
CAMEROTA: 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. Something that Kim Jong-un didn't return the -- didn't reciprocate until the very end where he said something complementary about Kim Jong-un, who then smiled and nodded.
BERMAN: I don't think Kim, by the way, knows how to deal with reporters in the room. He -- this is probably just the second time in his life he's ever been in a room at all with a free press and I'm not sure he knows who to look at right there.
James Clapper, in one final note, the president was thrown a question about Michael Cohen. Did not answer. Did not answer the question that was thrown about the Cohen testimony.
Director Clapper, what did you see in that brief moment?
CLAPPER: Well, 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 -- he didn't answer the -- he didn't answer the question.
One thing I think might be worth pointing out is, you know, this -- the promise of rapid economic progress in North Korea as in contrast to Vietnam. Well, that's a good point. You know, Vietnam was a former enemy and now it is thriving. But, let me 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.
[06:40:18] CAMEROTA: Yes.
Jim Sciutto, tell us what jumps out at you.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting for the president to draw attention to really the only take away 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 something the president is conscious of. So perhaps highlighting what he can say is that 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 -- that is a major, major question here. And -- and his own advisers, as we've reported leading up to this, concern lowering 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.
CAMEROTA: But, one last thing. I mean hasn't President Trump also changed the benchmarks of success where he says no testing.
BERMAN: Oh, yes.
CAMEROTA: Now he just doesn't want them testing.
BERMAN: Again, I think --
CAMEROTA: It used to be denuclearization.
BERMAN: And I think that's so interesting about Jim's point there, the 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 -- no -- 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 now 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 WikiLeaks was about to have 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 were 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?
CLAPPER: 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 it 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 of 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 -- is truthful. And so it -- this, to me, is, you know, affirming the -- all the puzzles. And if it isn't a smoking gun, it certainly is a warm barrel.
CAMEROTA: I believe you're mixing metaphors, director. But we want to bring in Abby, who is reporting on how the Trump administration and White House is responding to all this.
So the fact, Abby, that they're -- for the first time we are hear under oath in open testimony of this direct connection between Roger Stone calling and on speaker phone alerting the president that he says he had had a conversation with Julian Assange, what will their response be today?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 -- 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 an 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.
[06:45:35] So there -- he -- 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 -- 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 is 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 WikiLeaks 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. It does not seem strange that these things might be true.
BERMAN: All right, guys, stand by, if you will.
BERMAN: Again, we are looking at this prepared testimony from Michael Cohen. We're getting new information from that.
We are watching the president in Hanoi to see if he takes questions about these revelations. Again, these presidency redefining revelations.
CNN's special coverage continues right after this.
[06:50:58] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: All right, 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. No, we actually have what he plans to say here.
Could he backtrack and not say it? I suppose. But we have it in black and white. And there are many blockbuster things that he plans to say about President Trump that place President Trump squarely in the room for criminal activity.
So, 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 Elie Honig. We have John Avlon. We have Garrett Graff. We have Abby Phillip. We have MJ Lee. And we have former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
I think we have all the right guests for this.
Here's what we want to start with. MJ, let's talk about this. This is the Moscow Tower project, OK, 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, we have no business interests in Russia. Michael Cohen tells a different story. Here is what he will testify to under oath.
There were at least 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.
And let me just put a further point on this, it's because Michael Cohen will say they didn't -- 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.
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Alisyn, I think 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 continue -- 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.
LEE: 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 --
CAMEROTA: He didn't have to.
LEE: But I did that because I knew that's what Donald Trump wanted me to do.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes.
LEE: 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.
CAMEROTA: Right. Giuliani (ph).
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
LEE: And I know we were talking about this closer to the top of the hour --
BERMAN: Not necessarily Giuliani.
LEE: What does that mean in terms of who knew what? And also just raising the very obvious question of, if it is true that Donald Trump's personal lawyers okayed this and green lit --
[06:55:09] BERMAN: Sure.
LEE: This false statement that Michael Cohen was going to make to Congress, then, yes, it's very reasonable to ask the question of, well, would -- is there a possibility and a scenario in which Donald Trump himself knew?
LEE: And all of these people around him knew that this false statement was going to be made.
CAMEROTA: Hold on, MJ.
AVLON: Yes, there -- there clearly are those scenarios, right? I mean, you know, what -- 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, at the same time asking Michael Cohen consistently over the campaign, how's Russia going? And it's not only this Trump Tower -- you know, 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 -- of the famous Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, he says that Don Junior came up and whispered in his father's ear.
AVLON: Something to the effect 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.
BERMAN: And if you're talk about holding up the Michael Cohen credibility against the president's credibility, look, there are credibility problems on both sides.
And, Garrett, to an extent, this is where the lies come home to roost for this White House because Sarah Sanders told something that was patently untrue. It was a lie. Whether she knew she was lying is a different story, when she said 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.
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: 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 and the special counsel and the prosecutors in the Southern District. So they are very much paying attention to what he's saying. They're going to make sure that he's not saying anything today that they're not comfortable with him saying.
And just to sort of emphasize one thing that MJ touched on there that I think is important in the Trump Tower Moscow deal --
SCIUTTO: Can jump in here?
GRAFF: Go ahead, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
BERMAN: No, no, Sciutto, go ahead. (INAUDIBLE).
SCIUTTO: No, no, I apologize. I certainly didn't want to interrupt Garrett. The only point I was going to make is 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 both of the WikiLeaks releases, but also of that Trump Tower meeting in 2016.
And you made a great point, Alisyn, that this -- 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 really up to folks at home to decide who they believe here.
But in that context, remember, the pattern of lies.
SCIUTTO: It's a -- none of these statements are in isolation. But it fits a pattern that this president has been proven to have lied on --
AVLON: And the -- and the --
SCIUTTO: With each of these subjects in the past.
AVLON: 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.
CAMEROTA: And, also, I just -- 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 that 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.
BERMAN: All right, guys, we've got much more in this morning of breaking news.
NEW DAY continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: All right. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
There is major breaking news.
[06:59:52] 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 is a racist and a con man and a cheat.