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Cosby Found Guilty of Indecent Assault; White House Releases Photos of Pompeo, Kim Jong-un; Trump Admits Cohen Represented Him in Stormy Daniels Case. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 26, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our pop culture lead is once again a shameless book promotion moment. The endorsements are rolling in for "The Hellfire Club." Jake Gyllenhaal was spotted deep, already into "The Hellfire Club" at a Los Angeles bistro. Then there's America's sweetheart, Paul Rudd, on the emotional roller coaster that is the D.C. thriller. And TV's Jimmy Kimmel in a totally believable Photoshop, devouring "The Hellfire Club" next to Wolf Blitzer. In all seriousness, this is my new novel. I'd be honored if you joined these guys and picked up a copy of it. It's on Amazon and in stores right now.
[17:00:33] That's it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. The Cosby verdict. A stunning conclusion to a closely-watched trial. A jury finds Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault, prompting an outburst from the comedian as prosecutors seek to revoke his bail. How much jail time is Cosby facing?
FOX and fuming. President Trump gives a wild phone interview to his favorite morning TV show, at times raging about the multiple controversies dogging his presidency. Did the president threaten to take control of the Justice Department over the Russia investigation?
Hurting his case. In the same interview the president admits for the first time that Michael Cohen represented him in the Stormy Daniels case. Those words leading federal prosecutors just moments later to drop objections to an independent review of material seized in the FBI raids on Cohen.
And shaking hands. The White House marks the swearing in of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state by releasing remarkable photos of him with the dictator, Kim Jong-un, during their meeting in North Korea. Why is President Trump now suggesting a summit with Kim might not happen at all?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Bill Cosby, once nicknamed America's dad, found guilty on all counts in an indecent assault trial. The jury convicted Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home near Philadelphia back in 2004.
Also breaking, unprecedented photos released by the White House moments ago, showing the former CIA director, Mike Pompeo, shaking hands with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during their secret meeting over Easter weekend.
The pictures made public after Pompeo was confirmed sworn in today as the new secretary of state. We'll talk about all the breaking news and much more this hour with our guests, including the attorney for Andrea Constand and others in the Cosby trial, Gloria Allred.
And Congressman Denny Heck of the House Intelligence Committee is standing by, as well. Our correspondents are ready to go.
Let's get straight to the breaking news in the Cosby trial. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, Bill Cosby's attorney says they're going to appeal the verdict, and he said very strongly.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Attorney Tom Mesereau saying this fight is not over. But tonight, Bill Cosby's accusers are elated, some of them saying they didn't expect this verdict, even though they've spent years trying to win some measure of justice.
TODD (voice-over): The man once known as America's dad and considered among the most powerful people in Hollywood feebly clings to a member of his legal team after being found guilty of aggravated indecent assault. Bill Cosby convicted on all three counts.
One of his accusers said she was so overwhelmed with emotion she banged her head on a bench in the courtroom. Outside she was simply ecstatic after years of trying to bring the disgraced 80-year-old comedian to justice.
LILI BERNARD, COSBY ACCUSER: I was just full of joy, full of gratitude for the prosecution, for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for Andrea Constand and the five prior bad act witnesses, my survivor sisters who courageously stood on that stand.
I was also just shocked. I didn't expect this kind of verdict. The jury has restored my faith in humanity. And I feel like I'm dreaming, and I need to be pinched to be woken.
TODD: Lili Bernard says Cosby drugged and raped her while he was mentoring her for an appearance on "The Cosby Show," but this case centered on the accusations of Andrea Constand, a former employee of the Temple University basketball team, who testified that Cosby, who was a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged and sexually assaulted her when she visited his home to ask for career advice in January of 2004.
KEVIN STEELE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He used his celebrity. He used his wealth. He used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes. And now we really know today who was behind that act, who the real Bill Cosby was. And a jury has spoken with one voice.
TODD: More than 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. Many described similar encounters, accusing Cosby of luring them into private meetings where he'd give them advice, then drugging them and raping them.
[17:05:13] During his trial and other legal proceedings in recent years, Cosby would appear in public as a weak and timid figure, often leaning on others. But according to a CNN producer inside court, after today's verdict was read, and a prosecutor asked for bail to be revoked, arguing that Cosby has a private plane and could be a flight risk, Cosby stood and yelled loudly that he doesn't have a plane, quote, "you asshole."
Cosby's attorney, who argued that his interaction with Constand was consensual and called her a con artist, was defiant outside court.
TOM MESEREAU, BILL COSBY'S ATTORNEY: We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don't think Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything, and the fight is not over.
TODD: and when asked if he'll appeal that verdict, Cosby's lawyer, Tom Mesereau said, quote, "Yes, very strongly." A sentencing hearing has not yet been set, but Cosby faces up to ten years in prison on each of those three counts, and he'll likely serve those terms concurrently -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The judge did not revoke Cosby's bail. Why not?
TODD: Well, Wolf, it's because he cited his age and the fact that he attended every hearing for two and a half years. As we said, the prosecutor wanted to revoke the bail, saying he's a flight risk. He's got this private plane. But Judge Steven O'Neill said he attended every single hearing he's had to be at for the past two and a half years. But the judge did say he needs to not leave his Pennsylvania home, and he has to be fitted for a GPS tracking device.
Brian Todd with that report, thank you very, very much.
Joining us now, the attorney for three of the accusers in the Cosby trial, Gloria Allred. I know you're not one of the attorneys for Andrea Constand, but you are --
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Right.
BLITZER: -- the attorney for three of the other women. Did these women ever think they'd see this day, Gloria?
ALLRED: Well, Wolf, let me just say, I'm very proud of Andrea Constand. I'm very proud of all of the 33 accusers that I represent. Those who spoke out and some who didn't speak out against Mr. Cosby but did provide evidence and information to the prosecution. Proud of all of them, including the three who testified, prior bad act witnesses in this case: Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Lise- Lott Lubin. All of whom were vigorously attacked by the defense with smear tactics, with ugly innuendo, with attacks on their motives and their character, which were totally unjustified. None of them were seeking money. None of them were seeking fame. All of them were seeking justice.
They wanted their truth to be known and they endured such a vicious and ugly cross-examination, but they persisted and they prevailed. It's a great day for them. It's a great day for all of the accusers. It's a great day for the "#MeToo" movement, for women because women have been believed.
In this case, I've always said, Wolf, how many women will it take before one woman is believed against the denials of a rich, powerful, famous man? Now we know the answer. In a criminal case, in a court of law right here in Montgomery County, the answer was it took six women, but the jury found the truth; and the truth is that Bill Cosby was and should have been convicted of these three serious felonies.
BLITZER: Take us inside the case, Gloria. What do you think made the biggest difference in getting today's outcome as opposed to almost a year ago when there was a hung jury?
BORGER: Well, I was here for the first criminal case. In that case, the prosecution sought to allow the prior bad act witnesses to testify, to allow 13 to testify. And of course, the defense wanted zero. The court only allowed one prior bad act witness to testify in that prior criminal case.
I also represented that very brave witness, Kelly Johnson. But one was not enough. So at the end of that first criminal case, where there was a deadlock, a mistrial, I said publicly, I urged publicly for the prosecutor to once again renew his motion to allow prior bad act witnesses to testify. And this time I said, "I hope that the court will allow more than one." Because I felt that more than one would be required in order for the jury to really fully understand that Mr. Cosby had a common plan, scheme and design to drug and sexually assault women.
I thought it would be important for them to know that there -- Mr. Cosby could not have been mistaken about whether these women or Andrea Constand consented, because if they saw that other women would testify under oath that, in fact, Mr. Cosby had also drugged and sexually assaulted them, that they would see that he couldn't have been mistaken about whether Andrea consented and that, in fact, he would know if he was drugging and assaulting a woman. If the jury believed that, that in fact, they couldn't consent if they're incapacitated, and that is why the jury convicted. Not just on one count but on three counts, which required that they find substantial impairment and also -- and also that Andrea was not conscious and therefore couldn't resist and couldn't consent.
[17:10:42] Do you think the "#MeToo" movement that has developed over the past year made a difference?
BORGER: Wolf, of course. Many of these accusers came forward before hashtag "#MeToo." They were speaking the truth. I was bringing -- BLITZER: I mean, among the jurors. Among the jurors I'm talking
BORGER: Oh, among the jurors? Well, possibly. And I guess we're going to have to wait for the jurors to say. Of course, they were asked that in voir dire, whether they were aware of the "#MeToo" movement, how that would affect them and so forth.
All of the jurors who were aware of it, and that was almost all of them, were certainly feeling and stated that they could be fair and impartial and only decide this case based on the evidence that was admitted in the courtroom.
And I have every reason to believe that that's true. But on the other hand, you know, it was important, too, that there was an expert that -- that testified about rapists.
But can I say that it made no difference? I think it may have made a difference. But again, that doesn't mean they didn't decide this case based on the evidence on the courtroom. And I want to say to women who are watching, to persons who have been raped, who have been sexually assaulted and who think that a jury won't believe them, I believe that things have changed. And that there is a better chance now that you will be believed if you report to law enforcement, if you go to a private attorney and have a civil case or if you do both.
I think you should reach out, understand your legal options and don't just suffer in silence. Understand that the tide is turning, and women are now being believed.
BLITZER: Gloria Allred, congratulations on your win today. Thanks very much for joining us.
BORGER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Also breaking this hour, there are some remarkable new photos of the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, meeting with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang just a few weeks ago.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us right now.
Jim, the pictures were taken --
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BLITZER: -- during their secret meeting. Tell us about that.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. The White House sending off another signal that President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un could actually happen by releasing these photos that you just mentioned a few moments ago of new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.
These pictures were taken when Secretary Pompeo, then CIA director, Mike Pompeo, visited Kim Jong-un, visited the North Koreans over Easter weekend. President Trump, by the way, wasn't so sure about this meeting when he was on FOX earlier today, whether or not it's going to happen. He also sounded consumed with anger for much of the day today as he vented his frustrations on a slew of topics, from his failed pick to run the V.A., Ronny Jackson, to the cloud still hanging over this White House, the Russia investigation.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Talking to children gathered in the Rose Garden --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only ask friendly questions today. We don't want to embarrass your children.
ACOSTA: -- President Trump used some adult language to complain about White House doctor Ronny Jackson's decision to withdraw his name from consideration for secretary of Veterans Affairs.
TRUMP: He's a great man. And he got treated very, very unfairly. He got treated really unfairly. And he's a hell of a man.
ACOSTA: The president was already fired up about Jackson after a wild phone interview on his favorite morning TV show, "FOX & Friends," where he threatened to go after Democratic Senator Jon Tester for raising questions about the White House doctor's past.
TRUMP (via phone): I think Jon Tester has to have a big price to pay in Montana, because I don't think people in Montana -- the admiral is the kind of person that they respect and admire, and they don't like seeing what's happened to him.
ACOSTA: Sometimes shouting into the phone, the president made other threats, sounding as if he won't cooperate with the special counsel's Russia investigation.
TRUMP: They have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on. I've taken the position, and I don't have to take this position --and maybe I'll change -- that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over.
ACOSTA: He also weighed in on former FBI Director James Comey, who claims the president denied spending the night in Moscow in 2013 when, as alleged in a dossier written by a former British spy, Mr. Trump watched prostitutes urinate on each other.
But the president seemed to confirm that he did spend the night in Moscow in 2013.
TRUMP: He put a lot of phony stuff. For instance, I went to Russia for a day or so, a day or two, because I own the Miss Universe pageant. So I went there to watch it, because it was near Moscow.
[07:15:10] So I go to Russia. Now, I didn't go there. Everybody knows the logs are there. The planes are there. He said I didn't stay there at night. Of course I stayed there. I stayed there very short period of time. But of course I stayed. ACOSTA: The president also acknowledged for the first time that he is
represented in the Stormy Daniels saga by his personal attorney, Michael Cohen --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling today?
MICHAEL COHEN, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: I feel great.
ACOSTA: -- who's also under federal investigation.
TRUMP: He represents me. Like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me and, you know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong.
ACOSTA: When the conversation turned to North Korea, the president said his upcoming meeting with dictator Kim Jong-un may not happen after all. Still, the White House teased the potential sit-down by releasing these stunning images of new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the North Korean dictator over Easter weekend.
TRUMP: Could be that I walk out quickly. With respect. But it could be. It could be that maybe the meeting doesn't even take place. Who knows? But I can tell you right now they want to meet.
ACOSTA: As the president ranted and raved, it was the FOX hosts who seemed to cut off the interview.
TRUMP: There is no collusion with me and Russia.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": All right.
TRUMP: And everyone knows it.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": We'd talk to you all day, but it looks like you have a million things to do.
TRUMP: You could.
KILMEADE: I hope you join us again, Mr. President.
ACOSTA: On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, another cabinet headache for the president played out as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addressed a series of heated questions about his ethical behavior.
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATORS: I've made decisions to switch and make sure that -- make changes from first class back to coach.
SEN. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Unfit to hold public office and undeserving of the public trust.
ACOSTA: Now aides to the president were watching his performance on "FOX & Friends." As one official described it, staffers were wincing over some of the president's comments, especially his remarks on the Russia investigation. Even to friendly media outlets, Wolf, his aides wish he just wouldn't go there. As one official described it to me earlier today, the comments were just not helpful to his cause -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.
Let's get more on all of this. Congressman Denny Heck of Washington state is joining us right now. He's a key member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I want to get to what the president said. He railed against the Justice Department during his interview with FOX. He's accusing what he described as deep-seated people in the Department of Justice of making up phony charges against him.
What do you think when you hear that kind of talk?
REP. DENNY HECK (D), WASHINGTON: So when the president makes those kinds of assertions or utterances regarding the investigation under way, I think they're completely immaterial. I think what they clearly are, frankly, is somebody engaging in a political defense and posturing for the public's sake.
But as I like to remind my friends, many of whom get very frustrated and angry about this is it is irrelevant to the actual investigation under way. The president continues to make the mistake of thinking this is all about a public relations war and not about a legal and potentially criminal matter. Period. Full stop.
BLITZER: The president says he'll leave the Justice Department alone for now. Should that encourage members of Congress to pass the bill that made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee today to protect the special counsel, Robert Mueller?
HECK: So first of all, my congratulations and kudos to the members of the Senate committee that passed that out and, frankly, especially to the members of the majority party, who frankly have the courage to do that. But as we all know, the majority leader of the Senate has already made it clear that he's not going to take it up.
I think what it represents, however, given that there was bipartisan support is a reflection of what the American people would like to have happen and that Director Mueller be fully protected so that he can complete his work. And once again what the president says with respect to this on an ongoing basis is immaterial to the actual investigation itself.
BLITZER: Congressman, I know you've got to run and vote. I'm going to have to cut it short, but we'll continue this interview down the road. Thanks so much for joining us.
HECK: You're welcome, Wolf.
BLITZER: There's much more breaking news we're following. Prosecutors use the president's own words against him after Mr. Trump's surprise remarks about his lawyer, Michael Cohen and the Stormy Daniels case.
[17:23:34] BLITZER: More now on the breaking news. President Trump in a live phone interview, admitting for the first time that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was representing him in the Stormy Daniels case.
Our national correspondent, Bryn Gingras, is joining us. She has the very latest.
Bryn, I take it prosecutors used the president's own words today against him in court.
BRYN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right, Wolf. The government essentially just used his words in withdrawing their objection to using a special master in this case to review all those documents that Cohen's attorneys were arguing had privileged information in this case. So let's first hear what the president said on "FOX & Friends."
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": How much of your legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?
TRUMP (via phone): Well, as a percentage of my overall legal work a tiny, tiny little fraction. But Michael would represent me and represent me on some things. He represents me -- like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.
GINGRAS: And certainly, this is what the government was arguing all along. They said, "We've always said it's a minimal work, so there really isn't privileged information here." And that's why they put forward this motion today, and the judge here in this federal case agreed. And so do the Cohen's attorneys, and now we have a special master to this case. Her name is Barbara Jones. She's a former federal judge, appointed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. district court where she served for about 17 years.
She's gone in private practice, also worked as an assistant district -- assistant U.S. attorney here in the Southern District. So she's very knowledgeable of white-collar crime and other cases. And she will be the person that has the final determination on how these privileged documents or what is claimed to be privileged documents are going to be moved forward into the criminal investigation into Michael Cohen's business dealings. That will happen at the same time that Cohen's attorneys are also reviewing those documents.
[17:25:28] If I can also mention, Wolf, one more thing. We got a little bit more insight in court today about all that evidence that's been handed over to Cohen's attorneys at this point. So far they've already received four phones and an iPad. Tomorrow, they expect to receive information from another dozen cell phones that was taken by the FBA [SIC] during that -- FBI during that raid of Michael Cohen's home and his office and his hotel rooms -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bryn, I take it Stormy Daniels asked to be a party to the criminal investigation of Michael Cohen by prosecutors in New York. How did that go?
GINGRAS: Yes. Certainly, Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, he filed a motion today to intervene. He was arguing today for a short time in court, saying that some of that information, he believes, is privileged information for his client, Stormy Daniels.
He says that he believes that some of the information that was in that raid is confidential information between her former attorney and Michael Cohen before, during and after the nondisclosure agreement.
So he basically wants a seat at this. And the judge didn't make a ruling about that. However, we expect one possibly next week, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Bryn. Thank you.
Bryn Gingras reporting from New York.
Coming up, did Donald Trump throw Michael Cohen under the bus by accidentally siding with federal prosecutors?
Plus, the president railing against the Justice Department. Is he threatening to seize control of the Russia investigation?
[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Breaking news, President Trump is accusing the FBI of corruption and seems to be threatening to seize control of the Justice Department. Let's get analysis from our experts. And Laura Coates, I want you to listen precisely to what the President said on that Fox interview this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very disappointed in my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it's going on and I think you'll understand this, I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what's going on is a disgrace. I'm fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people -- drain the swamp -- that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me, and they're not bringing up real charges against the other side. And you look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it is a disgrace. And our Justice Department which I try and stay away from but at some point, I won't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So, he's threatening at some point to take charge.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, it's shocking that up until now he is not yet been involved in the Justice Department. Everything you've seen, the tweets, the discussions about his entire Justice Department and that entire agency of the FBI, he's been quite involved in at least giving his opinion on things. It's also worth noting that every single person, the top down, he mentioned are people that are his appointees. You've got Jeff Sessions, you've got Christopher Wray, you've got (INAUDIBLE) that is all profess to be Republicans, as well, and also appointed by him. And so, it's odd that he'd make this sort of connection and statement about that. But also, speaks to an issue that he believes somehow that all of the different indictments that have come down which have not actually targeted him but instead his campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, 13 Russian nationals and a lawyer among others and is our national security adviser formerly, that somehow he sees all of that as a reflection solely on him in a witch hunt targeted towards him, when frankly, that's not further from the truth at this point in time.
BLITZER: Is it just bluster, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, it is but we don't know. I mean, certainly by the way that he was talking it sounds like it could be more than bluster in a big way. And Laura talked about how it's odd that he's talking about the senior leadership of the Justice Department considering they're his appointees, and in a normal circumstance it would be odd. In this circumstance, it's the same kind of venting that we have been reporting for months that he's been doing behind closed-doors to his friends and to his allies and to his aides. He is precisely talking about not necessarily the career people but his own very appointees namely the top of the list there is, of course, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions who then just an hour or two after -- a couple of hours after that presidential outburst Sessions had to go before a committee on Capitol Hill and tried to navigate questions about his recusal of the Michael Cohen case. Good luck. There's no way he's going to say that given what we just heard from the President.
BLITZER: And Nia, as you know, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to protect the special counsel Robert Mueller including four Republicans who voted in favor, and it's probably not going to go anywhere, Mitch McConnell won't let it come up for a vote in the Senate floor, but it does send a message.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It does send a message. And this is movement, because before you had most of the Republicans essentially saying this would never happen. Donald Trump would never fire Bob Mueller so there was no need for this type of legislation, so for them to actually move forward knowing full well that it's not going anywhere, A, because Mitch McConnell is not going to bring it up; and, B, Donald Trump would probably veto it, if it ever got to his desk.
[19:35:07] It does send quite a message to where Republicans are. It basically says this is a red line, you can't fire Mueller, you probably can't fire Robert Rosenstein, either. It would be big trouble for your administration. So, you heard that from Lindsey Graham, for instance, people like Thom Tillis who also signed it, this bill.
BLITZER: Do you think the President, Chris, is going to get the message from the Senate Judiciary Committee?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: He should already have it, candidly, Wolf. I mean, you've heard everyone from Orrin Hatch. I mean, you know, these are not the typical, Jeff Flake says Donald Trump better watch out, right? We know Jeff Flake is very much a critic of Donald Trump for some of -- some I think genuine reasons, some political reasons. These are people who are sort of down the line. Orrin Hatch said Donald Trump could be one of the greatest Presidents ever. I mean, this is not someone who's been a huge critic and yet you have him warning about it. So, yes, I think it's important you notice -- I think it's important that essentially saw four Republicans purposely vote for something they know -- knew would bother the President knowing that it's probably not going anywhere. It's sort of a vote into the ether because nothing goes. So, why take that vote? Because you want to send that message. Does Donald Trump hear it? How much does he hear anything, and even if he hears it, does it impact him? I would generally err on the side of thing, it probably doesn't impact how he makes his mind up in most situation.
BLITZER: We've got more to discuss including the President's trip to Moscow back in 2013. He spoke out about it earlier today. We'll update you on the very latest.
[17:41:17] BLITZER: We're back with our panel. And Chris Cillizza, let's talk a little about the President's trip to Moscow back in 2013 when he went for the Miss Universe pageant. As you know, the fired FBI Director said when he -- speaking of the President, the President denied even spending the night there at that hotel with all those allegations, sordid allegations that supposedly occurred at that hotel. But listen to what the President said earlier today on "FOX & FRIENDS."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those memos were about me, and they're phony memos. He didn't write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff. For instance, I went to Russia for a day or so, a day or two because I own the Miss Universe pageant. So, I went there to watch it because it was near Moscow. So, I go to Russia -- now, I did go there -- everybody knows. The logs are there, the planes are there. He said I didn't stay there a night. Of course, I stayed there. I stayed there a very short period of time but of course, I stayed. Well, his memo said I left immediately. But I never said that. I never said I left immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think?
CILLIZZA: OK. So, this one specific instance, it's very possible it's a misunderstanding. Comey thought Trump said he didn't stay and left, and Trump said he did stay. What's odd and I think you shouldn't be fooled by is Trump is trying to say, see this little thing over here where we have a misunderstanding, well, that means that Comey made everything up. I mean, I remind people that what are in the Comey memos and what largely are in his book are also things that he testified before Congress under oath about. So, I tend to believe the guy who testified under oath more than the guy who didn't or hasn't yet, simply because the penalties for lying under oath are significant. So, one little discrepancy of did he stay a night or did he not stay a night, to me, even if it's he said/he said, fine. But that doesn't discredit the broader story of Comey's recollections of the meetings with Donald Trump.
BASH: Also, can we just take a step back and talk about the tone that we just heard from the President. Never mind that the President of the United States just called in to a cable news show that he likes to watch.
CILLIZZA: For 30 minutes.
BASH: Just called in for 30 minutes, OK? Take that aside, and you know, that is not a typical scenario. But the tone he was yelling, he was so agitated. You could almost picture him red in the face. And that was the sort of the theme and the thing that we heard from him throughout most of the phone call. That is not a President when you're talking about the person who America and people around the world look to for leadership and calm and sort of in control. That is not the kind of M.O. that generally a President wants to give off. One thing if you're a candidate, one thing if you're on the campaign trail and you just -- you kind of trying to be you. This is the President of the United States screaming into the phone on a cable news show.
CILLIZZA: And to Dana's point, just quickly, Dana's point, they had to rush him off -- they were push -- the anchors were saying, all right, Mr. President, well, OK, you probably shut up. And he keeps talking. And they say, well, you've got a lot of important things. I mean, that in and of itself. Sorry.
HENDERSON: Yes, I think it's (INAUDIBLE) -- it's a glimpse of the Donald Trump at night, right, when he's calling around and talking to friends and venting. I think that's in a way what we got. It was almost Donald Trump on the couch, just venting over and over and over with all of his grievances for 30 minutes. I think people who liked Donald Trump probably liked it some ways. Some people tweeted essentially say this is what we want from Donald Trump, this is what we like of some of his -- some of his --
[17:44:59] BLITZER: I'm only -- I'm only guessing because I've been on the receiving end of an interview that's going on and on and on, and I want it to go on, and the person who's doing the interview wants it to go on, but that person's handlers are saying, end it, and they're following into the producers, end the interview, end the interview, end the interview. I suspect that may have happened this time, as well.
COATES: Yes, you know, he almost bolstered the credibility of James Comey who often spoke about one of the reasons he does not believe in the President or is distrustful of him because he often addresses points no one has asked him about, and he's very, very adamant and vehement about the fact of what he did not do and what he says he did not do just magnifies the maginifies the particular claim. Also, you're right about the slippery slope. But you're going to parse out certain things that are accurate and other things that are not, that's really a problem but the main thing here is to -- these are contemporaneously drafted memos. Now, that's important because we give a lot of credence in the court of law of things that written close in time to the event. We think it's much more trustworthy but also they were written before, that's the keyword here. Before he was fired, before he had the axe to grind presumably and before he had any motivation to tell the wrong thing or a lie. Those are all important considerations here.
BLITZER: Yes. The -- I remember at one point, the President thought maybe there weren't, maybe there was tapes and there apparently weren't tapes. Lordy, I hope there's tapes. Remember when Comey said that contemporaneously is very important especially by a then-FBI Director at the time. All right, guys, stick around. There's more news. The EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is fighting for his job, as allegations of an unethical behavior pile up. Does President Trump have his back?
[17:51:13] BLITZER: Breaking news, the EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is fighting for his job amid allegations of ethical lapses and excessive spending. Pruitt faced tough questions from lawmakers during a tense hearing up on Capitol Hill today. And sources tell CNN that Pruitt worries some members of the Trump administration are actively working to get rid of him. Our Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is joining us now with details. Sunlen, tell us more.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this really was a make or break moment for him, Wolf. These allegations have just been piling up on him and he has been quickly losing the confidence of the White House. Today, we saw Scott Pruitt up here on Capitol Hill fighting to save his political future.
SCOTT PRUITT, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: A lie doesn't become truth just because it appears in the front page of a newspaper.
SERFATY: Tonight, embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is fighting back.
PRUITT: Much of which has been targeted towards me and my team has been half-truths or at best, stories that have been so twisted they do not resemble reality.
SERFATY: Pushing back against the ethics allegations mounting against him.
PRUITT: Those who attack the EPA and attack me are doing so because they want to attack and derail the President's agenda and undermine this administration's priorities. SERFATY: Pruitt today sitting for over five hours in a pair of hearings on Capitol Hill.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: You really should resign and you are undeserving of the public's trust.
REP. ANTONIO CARDENAS (D), CALIFORNIA: The list of your failures is long, and your wasteful spending is an embarrassment to government --
SERFATY: The Democrats taking names.
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: This is taxpayer money. It's taxpayer money.
SERFATY: Pruitt today for the first time revealing he did authorize his chief of staff to give out controversial large pay raises to top aides, against White House wishes.
PRUITT: I think with respect to the raises, what's --
REP. PAUL TONKO (D), NEW YORK: Was that true? I have five minutes so I have to move along.
PRUITT: I was not aware of the amount nor was I aware --
TONKO: Not the amount, were you aware of the raises.
PRUITT: Not aware of the amount, nor was I aware that -- of the bypassing or the PPO process not being respected.
SERFATY: That contradicts Pruitt's initial defense.
PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you didn't know that they got these large pay raises.
PRUITT: I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday.
SERFATY: Pruitt backtracking too on the questionable purchase of a $43,000 soundproof booth he installed in his office that a government watchdog says violated federal spending law.
PRUITT: I was not involved in the approval of the $43,000. And if I'd known about it, Congressman, I would have refuse it.
CARDENAS: That seems a bit odd. If something happens in my office, especially to the degree of $43,000, I'll know about it before, during, and after.
SERFATY: Pruitt offering up a new justification for the purchase today.
PRUITT: It has not been certified as a SCIF and it does provide protection on confidential communications. SERFATY: That contradicts his first defense of the purchase that it was needed as a so-called SCIF, a secure room to potentially hold classified conversations when there are two already installed at the agency.
PRUITT: It's a secure phone line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So, it's a SCIF. What we call a Sensitive Compartmental Information Facility, is that right?
PRUITT: There are -- yes.
SERFATY: Pruitt shifting blame to a staff to over questions of his lavish travel habit from private plane use to first-class tickets.
PRUITT: Travel office and the security team determine where I set on a plane and all trips that I've taken.
REP. ANNA ESHOO (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you know what, with all due respect, I may be elected but I'm not a fool.
SERFATY: And while most of the fire certainly did come today from the Democrats on those committee, even the chairman of one of those committee, the Republican chairman admitted that these scandals have become way too persistent for even Republicans up here to ignore. And sources tell CNN that Pruitt has lost the confidence of nearly everyone at the White House except for a handful of people and importantly President Trump himself so Pruitt's future, Wolf, in large part depends on how President Trump feels about his performance today. Wolf?
[17:54:58] BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much, Sunlen Serfaty reporting. There's breaking news coming up, Bill Cosby found guilty of sexual assault. Details of his outburst in court and what happens next? We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, Cosby found guilty. Jurors convict the man once known as America's Dad of sexual assault. Prosecutors arguing that he prayed on women for decades. Tonight, the verdict against Bill Cosby and the impact.
Telephone tirade, President Trump calls into a friendly T.V. show venting his anger on critics and his failed Veterans Affair nominee and delivering one bombshell statement after another. We're following the fallout on multiple fronts this hour.