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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Cohen Sues Trump Organization for Unpaid Legal Fees; White House Pressuring GOP Senators to Back National Emergency. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired March 7, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: One of our colleagues invokes the classic anti-Semitic tropes, anti-Semitic language that Jews control the world, that Jews care only about money, that Jews can not be loyal Americans if they also support Israel.

[16:30:02] This, too, must be condemned. And it feels like we can't say it's anti-Semitism unless everyone agrees that it's anti-Semitism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Can I read a quote from Donald Trump?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You probably agree with Ted Deutch on like 99 percent of things.

POWERS: Yes.

TAPPER: Do you think he's being insincere?

POWERS: Let me read a quote from Donald Trump.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're talking about --

POWERS: I'm just referring to what he said, his complaint. Donald Trump told a room of Jewish Republicans, that you're, quote, not going to support me because I don't want your money, adding that, quote, you want to control your politicians, that's fine.

TAPPER: That's the Republican Jewish coalition --

POWERS: What's different than what he was just complaining about?

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I don't think he would defend that.

POWERS: That's my point. Why is the -- first of all, she didn't say this. I mean, that's not what she said. If we look at what she actually said --

TAPPER: Support for Israel was all about the Benjamins.

POWERS: Which she apologized for profusely and it was wrong. And I don't think she should have said that. But she did apologize for that. Donald Trump has never apologized for this.

TAPPER: Correct.

POWERS: And so, my point is, she has apologized and I think she is learning, to Jamal's point.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But this is the second time. And members of Congress have a right to police fellow members of Congress.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: It's not, Amanda, because what she said --

CARPENTER: As they did to Steve King, finally.

POWERS: She actually said I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it's okay for people to push for allegiance for a foreign country.

CARPENTER: She questioned the allegiance of her colleagues. That's why the colleagues want to take action.

POWERS: Not Jewish colleagues. That's the point.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: But I think her Jewish colleagues included in that.

POWERS: Right, but she's talking specifically about the fact she doesn't feel like she can talk about these issues without being called anti-Semitic.

CARPENTER: And she can't do it without --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: And, as I said, she shouldn't have used the word allegiance. I agree with that. But I do think she's learning.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Words matter.

POWERS: Right. And I think she is learning and for the first time we have these two Muslim American women in Congress.

TAPPER: Rashida Tlaib and Congresswoman Omar.

POWERS: And I think that, you know, we need to be able to have a conversation and hear what they're saying without immediately trying to silence them by calling them anti-Semites. JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There ought to be space to have

-- stand up for values of tolerance. There also has to be space to have dissent about the actions of a foreign government that typically is someone who is aligned with a community that is in conflict with that government, ought to be able to speak up and talk about it.

TAPPER: Actually, there's another Minnesota congresswoman, Democrat who is very critical of Israel, much more so than Congresswoman Omar. She has managed to avoid the tropes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Good advice for everyone.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We're going to continue to keep an eye on the House floor where debate still under way on that message that is more broadly an anti-hate bill before the vote.

And then, Michael Cohen taking a page out of President Trump's playbook to go after the president in a new way.

Plus, we're going to find out Paul Manafort's fate any moment. We're going to bring you his sentence as soon as it happens.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:35] TAPPER: We are following two breaking news stories at this hour.

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort will be sentenced at any minute. You see the court house on your right there.

Plus, on the left, the House is debating and about to vote on an anti- hate bill amidst the debate that is dividing Democrats. We're going to continue to follow these stories and bring you any developments.

But just in to CNN right now, in case you had any dreams that Michael Cohen and President Trump might somehow reconcile, our next story would crush that. The president's former fixer is now suing the Trump Organization, claiming it did not pay him or his attorneys' fees for his work after he started cooperating with federal investigators. This as both Democrats and Republicans are outraged over the idea that Michael Cohen may have lied to Congress about whether or not he ever asked for a pardon.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now.

And, Manu, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings just said that he would nail Michael Cohen to the cross?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I spoke to him about the testimony where Michael Cohen said he never asked for a pardon from the president. Now, there's questions about that testimony and whether or not he was truthful in what he said. When I asked Cummings about that, he told me he takes lying to his committee very seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I told him, I said, I will nail you to the cross. And I meant that. I've got to make sure they are true inconsistencies and not outright lies, and then I've got to find out whether it meets even the threshold that DOJ would even want to look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So, he's saying he doesn't know if it was an actual perjury committed to his committee about that pardon talk. He wants to look at the transcript, review it further and decide whether or not it deserves a referral to his committee. But Jim Jordan, a ranking Republican in the committee, Jake, told me earlier today that he does plan to refer this to the Justice Department, to ask for an investigation into possible perjury. So, Michael Cohen, he's facing questions from both sides of the aisles, and Republicans pushing very hard for the DOJ to go after this, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Manu, you have also some new reporting that Cohen's lawyers brought up a possible pardon not just once but multiple times.

RAJU: Yes, there were multiple discussions between Cohen's attorneys and President Trump's attorneys last year about the possibility of a pardon. Now, there's a debate on both sides about who initiated the pardon and whether a pardon was actually on the table.

But, Lanny Davis, who was Cohen's attorney, said in his statement that Cohen was open to the ongoing dangling of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media.

[16:40:09] And he said he was referring to a period in what's involved in a joint defense agreement where they were all working together. But after Cohen turned and left that agreement, he never wanted a pardon going forward. And that's what -- according to Lanny Davis, that's what he was referring to in his public testimony.

Now, that's not winning any assurances here on Capitol Hill where Republicans believe he was very untruthful in what he said there and also Cohen has told Congress, Jake, that he had conversations with Jay Sekulow, the president's attorney, about a possible pardon as well. Sekulow denying that today, Jake.

TAPPER: And, of course, a reminder that Michael Cohen is going to jail, in part, because of his previous lies to Congress.

Manu Raju, thanks so much.

This Cohen development is the latest in a string of bad news for the president this week. Now, the White House is scrambling to stop a rough week from becoming an awful month. CNN has learned the officials are privately pressuring Republican senators to vote in favor of the president's national emergency declaration on the southern border. And as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports now, they're threatening retribution for any Republican who goes against them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. It's a great honor to have the prime minister of the Czech Republic.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump in front of the cameras today. But behind the scenes, he's facing setbacks on top priorities and at risk of losing ground in his own party. New reporting from CNN reveals the White House has been pressuring Republican senators not to buck Trump by voting in favor of a resolution overturning his national emergency declaration.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I don't believe that the president has that authority under the Constitution.

K. COLLINS: At least four GOP senators have indicated they'll support the resolution Trump has promised to veto. But White House aides are worried that number could grow and lead to another negative news cycle about Republicans breaking with Trump. In turn, they're warning there could be 2020 election consequences if they defy the president.

SENATOR COLLINS: It's not the job of the executive branch, it's not the job of the judicial branch to appropriate money. It is the job of Congress.

K. COLLINS: That, coming amid fireworks on Capitol Hill.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS SECRETARY: Sir, they're not cages.

K. COLLINS: As the Department of Homeland Security secretary remained defiant while being grilled by Democrats over the administration's immigration policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are they?

NIELSEN: Areas of the border facility that are carved out for the safety and protection of those who remain there while they're being processed.

K. COLLINS: The Commerce Department announcing the nation's trade deficit and goods is at a record high, due in part to the president's tax cut and tariffs, despite his promise on the campaign trail to narrow that gap.

TRUMP: It's a political and politician made disaster. It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn it around. And we can turn it around fast.

K. COLLINS: And one week after talks fell apart with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, new satellite images show a North Korean nuclear missile site that Pyongyang said it was dismantling appears to be operational. Asked about those images today, Trump said it's still too early to tell. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Let's go.

TRUMP: It is disappointing. We'll see. We'll let you know in about a year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, sources said the president has been frustrated by what he sees as negative coverage of that second summit with Kim Jong- un. But today, his national security adviser John Bolton let the door open to a third summit happening, saying the president is absolutely open to talking to him again -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thanks so much.

Surprising news today. A familiar face in the nation's capital, who people thought was going to run for president announced he's not going to. It's not who you think.

Then, will President Trump's former campaign chair spend the rest of his life behind bars? We're going to bring you Paul Manafort's sentence when it happens any minute.

Plus, we're still just moments away from the House vote on that anti- hate bill.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with our "2020 LEAD." Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown ruled out a presidential run today. Democratic sources tell CNN that former Vice President Joe Biden's likely campaign was a factor in Brown's decision and we have learned that Biden is now 95 percent committed to running for president according to the New York Times.

More than six in ten Democratic-leaning voters told CNN that Biden should get in the race. But even Biden admits there are legitimate questions about his age. He would be 77 years old at the next inauguration. Let's go to our panel. And Kirsten, you say that Biden might have a hard time winning the nomination. Why?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just -- I think that we now have a Democratic Party that is very critical of a lot of things that happened when Joe Biden was in power. In particular, the crime bill which is something that has been one of his signature issues. I'm not sure if he's going to be ready to apologize as much as he needs to apologize. I don't think it's just a one apology kind of thing.

I think that we have a you know, a base that's really demanding in terms of these issues. I think rightfully so. And when you have somebody who's a former vice president who's been around for a long time, I could see him starting to get a little irritated by having -- and then the Anita Hill issues as well I think is going to come back.

TAPPER: And David, sources telling CNN that Biden has not spoken to Senator Sherrod Brown about his decision but he did speak Biden to Michael Bloomberg after Bloomberg decided not to run. And a source opposed to former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe says he and Biden are "constant dialogue." They seem to see a very narrow path for a more moderate candidate.

[16:50:10] DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And the point Kristen makes is you know, is he going to be willing to slog it out and put in the work. I mean, he's the vice president. He used to get whisked around with Secret Service and you know, it just -- it's a different lifestyle, a different vibe than when you're a hungry presidential candidate.

Is it going to be willing to slog it out like so many these other candidates are? Is he going to get annoyed? There's going to be this expectation he's going to start with a big bang. If he doesn't, it's going to -- what if he whimpers out. What's going to happen? Will he withdraw? And it's going to be pretty interesting to see.

TAPPER: Is he willing to be at a pancake flick with the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Kirsten, you were talking about by his past where -- Jamal, were talking earlier a few weeks ago about his work on the 1994 crime bill, then Senator Biden. take a listen to some of the comments that then-Senator Biden made about crime at the time found by the K-File Team here at CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I don't care why someone is a mal factor in society. I don't care why someone is antisocial. I don't care why they've become a sociopath. We have an obligation to cordon them off from the rest of society, try to help them, try to change the behavior. That's what we do in this bill. We have drug treatment and we have other treatments to try to deal with it, but they are in jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We should note this was a bipartisan bill. But we remember how Hillary Clinton's comments on super predators came back to haunt her.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. And then here's the tough part of this is. The Democratic Left has a little bit of Education and history lesson to do on this. In 1993 there were five -- OK, last year, in 2017, there were 520 murders in Chicago. We were all outraged by it. In 1993, there were 579 murders in Detroit, 850 in Chicago, another 1,092 in Los Angeles. Crime was rampant.

I was with Bill Clinton. When Bill Clinton went to like Church of Memphis at a (INAUDIBLE) Convention and he talked about what Martin Luther King would think about the number of people who were killing each other, and he was praised by African-American women who were happy somebody was talking about it. The crime bill was done because there was something very serious going

on in the country that had to get solved. Now, Joe Biden should apologize for what the policies he did and Joe Biden should apologize for the language he use, but he should not apologize trying to do something for a real crisis in America.

TAPPER: Great panel. Thank you so much one and all. His supporters love him for being the anti-Trump. Up next, the scandal threatening the Canadian Prime Minister's political future, and then we're going to find out Paul Manafort's fate. Any moment we'll bring that to you as soon as it happens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "WORLD LEAD" today, it looks as though Canada's golden boy may have lost just a bit of his shine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being accused of pressuring his former attorney general to cut a deal with a company facing corruption charges and then demoting her after she refused to do so.

Trudeau today denied any wrongdoing. But as CNN's Nick Watt reports, the damage to Justin Trudeau's reputation may already be done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin Trudeau simply cannot continue to govern this country now that Canadians know what he has done.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that Justin Trudeau. Youthful, strapping, some also say sexy now gone from that to this.

Is it feasible that this could be the end?

PATRICK JAMES, PROFESSOR, USC SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Yes. That government can fall. Trudeau could simply resigned.

WATT: After his aides reportedly pressured his Attorney General to cut a deal for a Montreal company accused of bribery because a conviction would bar SNC-Lavalin from government contracts. Today the fight fell.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER, CANADA: In regards to standing up for jobs and defending the integrity of our rule of law, I continue to say that there was no inappropriate pressure.

WATT: The honeymoon is over. We're now three kids in and the babies up screaming all night. Kicked off by a newspaper expose, then his former A.G. going public.

JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, CANADA: I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

WATT: She resigned today almost an apology.

TRUDEAU (through translator): Situations were experienced differently and I regret that.

WATT: He didn't say he'd grabbed anyone's privates, his former campaign chair isn't headed to the penitentiary, he didn't call other countries (BLEEP) holes, the scandal that here south of the border might had been forgotten by lunchtime has been rocking Trudeau's world for weeks.

Another disenchanted cabinet minister resigned.

JANE PHILPOTT, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE TREASURY BOARD, CANAD: I'm not going to be taking questions on those issues.

WATT: Trudeau's closest aide and good friend fell on his sword but still backs him.

GERALD BUTTS, FORMER PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO PRIME MINISTER: What happened last fall is in fact very different from the version of events you heard last week.

JAMES: People inside the Liberal Party right now seem to be holding firm with Trudeau but if this story as the saying goes continues to get up and have legs and keeps walking around, I think the pressure will be on him to bail out.

WATT: Is this the end or just a dose of reality for a politician once bathed in a divine light that frankly no leader could ever live up to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Now, there are elections coming up in Canada this fall and polls right now suggesting that if those elections were tomorrow, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals would lose. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much for that report. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.