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Interview With Senator Angus King; After Cohen Admits Lying About Trump Business in Russia, Trump Cancels Meeting with Putin Citing Situation with Ukraine; Hate Crime Probe Launched After Holocaust Scholar's Office Vandalized with Two Swastikas Spray-Painted on Walls. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 29, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Seventy hours. CNN has learned that Cohen has talked extensive with the special counsel in multiple meetings on a variety of topics. And a well-placed source tells me that Mueller now knows everything. What else has Cohen revealed?
Weak person. President Trump slams his former fixer for flipping, saying Cohen is telling lies now to reduce his prison time. But is the president's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, undermining his argument?
And passing on Putin. As Mr. Trump heads to the G20 summit in Argentina, he abruptly cancels his meeting with the Russian president, citing the crisis in Ukraine. But given the timing, right after the Cohen guilty plea, is that explanation believable?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following a major breaking story now.
The president's former fixer admitting in federal court that he lied to Congress to protect Mr. Trump and to limit the Russia investigation. Michael Cohen pleading guilty in a cooperation agreement with the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
Cohen confessing that the president's business dealings with Moscow continued later in the 2016 campaign than had been revealed, and that Mr. Trump was kept informed along the way, despite his attempts to downplay his ties to Russia.
As the legal peril for the president may be escalating tonight, CNN has also learned that Cohen has talked to Mueller about other topics as well during more than 70 hours of questioning.
I will get reaction from Senator Angus King. He's a member of one of the Intelligence Committees Cohen lied to. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing.
First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, Michael Cohen now admits to covering up for the president about the Trump Organization's business dealings with Russia. What's the latest?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.
The president's former lawyer Michael Cohen says he lied to Congress out of loyalty to President Trump. So now the man who once said he would take a bullet for Trump could turn out to be the most damaging witness for Trump and his presidency in the Russia probe.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, once again flipping on the president in federal court, revealing Trump while campaigning to become president of the United States knew more about discussions with Russians about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow than Cohen has previously acknowledged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cohen will continue to cooperate.
BROWN: Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how much the president knew about the deal dubbed the Moscow project, and about when it was terminated, telling the court he lied out of loyalty to the president.
The plea agreement says the man who once said he'd take a bullet for the president gave information to special counsel Robert Mueller during more than 70 hours of questioning between August and November. The deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow was just one of many topics discussed, according to a source.
Court documents reveal Cohen discussed the status and progress of the Moscow project with Trump, referred to as Individual 1, on more than the three occasions. And while Cohen told Congress last fall that the Moscow project ended in January 2016, he now admits discussions about the project lasted as late as approximately June 2016, when Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Cohen now admits he made the false statements to protect Donald Trump and give the false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Iowa caucus and the very first primary, in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.
Cohen also details a plan he was working on with a Russian-American business associate, Felix Sater, to travel to Moscow to discuss the deal ahead of the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. Cohen was even looking into the possibility of Trump making the trip to Russia as well.
Cohen writing to Sater: "My trip before Cleveland. Donald Trump, once he becomes the nominee, after the convention." The ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which Cohen admits he lied to, want to bring Cohen back for truthful answers.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It means that when the president was representing during the campaign that he had no business interests in Russia, that that wasn't true.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: If anything the president has said is true, that there's no there there, why are all his closest associates being found guilty of lying about their ties to Russia?
BROWN: And the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told me over the phone today there was no contradiction between the president's responses to Mueller on the question of the Trump Tower Moscow and what we have learned from Cohen.
And we have also learned tonight, Wolf, that the Justice Department notified the Trump legal team on Wednesday night about Michael Cohen's planned plea. The source did not say when the president was informed, but we should note that Justice policies allowed the department to notify the department regarding significant legal matters.
And I guess this qualified as that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very significant, indeed. All right, Pamela, thank you very much.
This new bombshell from Michael Cohen and Robert Mueller is hanging over the president right now as he heads to Argentina for the G20 summit tonight.
Mr. Trump is firing back at Cohen. He's also canceling, canceling a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now from Buenos Aires.
Jim, the president lands where you are fairly soon, and we're told that he's in a pretty terrible mood right now -- quote -- "spooked and completely distracted."
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he has good reason to be in a terrible mood. President Trump, as you said, he's on his way to Argentina for the G20 summit.
The president will arrive at this summit facing new questions, as you were just saying a moment ago, about his business ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, after that bombshell that his former attorney Michael Cohen dropped in New York earlier today, pleading guilty to lying to Congress about Mr. Trump's dealings in Moscow.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has left his old boss in a fix. Leaving for the G20 summit, the president lashed out at Cohen's decision to plead guilty to lying to Congress about Mr. Trump's business dealings in Moscow.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a weak person, and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he's lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence, OK?
ACOSTA: Cohen admitted to the special counsel's office that his discussions with Mr. Trump about a possible real estate project in Moscow lasted until at least June 2016, well into the campaign, and five months longer than what he told Congress.
The president's outside lawyer Rudy Giuliani blasted Cohen in a statement, saying: "Michael Cohen is a liar. It's no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress. It is hardly coincidental that the special counsel once again files a charge just as the president is leaving for a meeting with world leaders at the G20 summit in Argentina. With regard to the hotel proposal in Moscow, the president has been completely open and transparent."
Giuliani, it should be noted, has praised Cohen in the past.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He doesn't have any incriminating evidence about the president or himself. The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.
ACOSTA: The president insisted to reporters he's been very open about the Moscow Tower project.
TRUMP: So he's lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building. I guess we had -- in a form, it was an option. I don't know what you'd call it. We decided -- I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it.
ACOSTA: But that's not quite true. The Trump Moscow project only became public knowledge in February of last year, when it appeared in a story in "The New York Times."
The new revelations from Cohen also run counter to what the president said about his dealings with Russia just days before he was sworn into office.
TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we have stayed away.
ACOSTA: Still, the president maintains he's not worried about what else Cohen may share with prosecutors.
TRUMP: Not at all. I'm not worried at all about him.
ACOSTA: Democrats disagree. WARNER: I guess we shouldn't be totally surprised at this. This is
one more example of a close ally or affiliate of Donald Trump lying about their ties or conversations with Russia or Russians.
ACOSTA: The president left for the G20 with plans to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Mr. Trump scrapped the meeting after speaking with advisers about Russia's recent aggression against Ukraine tweeting: "I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin."
The tweet came less than an hour after the president indicated the meeting was still on.
TRUMP: I think it's a very good time to have the meeting. I'm getting a full report on the plane as to what happens with respect to that. And that will determine what I'm going to be talking about.
ACOSTA: As for the Russia investigation, the president said there was one other former aide facing legal jeopardy who was also on his mind, Paul Manafort.
Mr. Trump confirmed he hasn't ruled out a pardon for his former campaign chairman.
TRUMP: I've never seen anybody treated so poorly.
But the question was asked to me by "The New York Post." And I said, No, I have not offered any pardons. And I think they asked -- or whatever -- Would you? I said, I'm not taking anything off the table.
ACOSTA: The president made it clear, when it comes to Cohen, loyalty counts.
QUESTION: If Cohen is such a bum, why did you hire him, have him on your payroll for 12 years and have him do much of your dirty work like paying off...
TRUMP: Because, a long time ago, he did me a favor. A long time ago, he did me a favor.
ACOSTA: Now, the president's decision to cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin doesn't necessarily mean that they won't run into one another.
The two leaders could actually run into each other on the sidelines of this G20 summit here in Argentina. And as for Michael Cohen, as Pam said, Rudy Giuliani says there is no contradiction between what the president told the special counsel's office in those written answers and what Cohen has told prosecutors. And a Trump legal team source says that the questions posed to the president aren't necessarily the same as those posed to Cohen. But the president and Rudy Giuliani, as we have noticed all day long, they have had harsh words for Michael Cohen. And they are not alone.
We should point out, one source close to the president referred to Cohen earlier today, Wolf -- this is a source I talked to earlier today -- referred to Cohen as a -- quote -- "rat," adding -- quote -- "Inmates hate rats."
No love in Trump world for Michael Cohen tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, not very subtle indeed. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
Jim's already at the G20 summit in Argentina.
Let's bring in our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, and CNN's Kara Scannell.
Jeffrey, how big a deal is what Cohen told Mueller about Trump's Moscow deal and how big of a threat is it potentially to the president?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's an enormous part of the story.
And the main significance of it, I think, is it goes to the question of motive. Why was Donald Trump so obsessed with Vladimir Putin? Why was he so solicitous? Why did they change the Republican platform at the 2016 convention?
The answer at least in part now appears to be is because Donald Trump's business interests required him to ingratiate himself with Moscow, is that he was trying to get a deal done while he was campaigning for the Republican nomination.
And what's important to point out -- and what the president said today was very misleading on one point -- is that he said, well, everybody knew about this. No, that's not true. No one knew. No one knew he was negotiating a business deal in Russia while he was campaigning across the country in the Republican primaries.
That would have been a major part of the story, and no one knew.
BLITZER: That's a good point.
Kara, does what Michael Cohen now says square with what Trump said in his written answers delivered just the other day to Robert Mueller, or could the president get caught saying something different?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, sources tell CNN that these questions that Mueller posed to Trump were broader, and that there were some subparts to them. But it doesn't sound like it was quite as detailed as what Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to, these particular things that Michael Cohen said under oath. And we're told that Trump's written responses were also relatively
broad. And so it's not clear. And as Pamela Brown was reporting, Rudy Giuliani told her that they don't believe there are contradictions between Trump's written answers and what Michael Cohen is saying today.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: If I could just add quickly, this is why it's so much better for why it's so much better for someone to give written answers as oppose to ask questions -- answer questions verbally, because there can be no follow-up questions.
Clearly, the Mueller people would have followed up on this point. But just written questions, the president could answer however he wanted, and the Mueller people are stuck with it.
BLITZER: Answer to best of his recollection, which is the legalese way of framing the answers.
Shimon, this is President Trump's one-time fixer we're talking about, who was supposed to know all his secrets. Now he's spoken to Mueller's investigators for more than 70 hours on at least seven occasions. What other topics could he have told them about?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
And, Wolf, keep in mind that the cooperation doesn't end. It hasn't ended. In fact, his lawyer told us today that he's going to continue to cooperate. So who knows how many more hours Michael Cohen intends to spend with the special counsel and also the Southern District of New York, the U.S. attorneys here?
Look, there's a lot of concern surrounding what Michael Cohen knows. He's been around the president, as you said, for many years. He was involved in a lot of his business dealings, also the family's business dealings, the kids, other people close to the president, friends of the president, other people who are sort of in the president's world.
So all of that is certainly concerning. Some of the things that we do know that the Mueller team was looking at or asking questions about was pardons. You know, was Manafort -- that is, was Michael Cohen promised any kind of a pardon if he didn't cooperate, if he did in this case -- you know, as with some people calling him a rat now? Did that happen?
Did that go on in this case? Those are the types of questions that the Mueller team has had for Michael Cohen. They're still looking at him, whether or not he knew anything about any possible obstruction, other things.
There's so much that this guy knows, because he been around Donald Trump for so many years.
Jeffrey, prosecutors say they think Cohen is now telling the truth, but what do you think of the Trump team's strategy to dismiss Cohen simply as an admitted liar?
TOOBIN: Well, that is certainly what always happens when somebody flips, is that the people he flips against -- flip against say, well, he's just doing it to save his own skin.
The problem that the Trump people face with that is, if you look at the charging document, the document filed in court today, a lot of what Michael Cohen testified to now, you know, his new version, is corroborated by e-mails.
There is a lot of e-mail traffic about this Moscow project during the period of the spring and early summer of 2016. If he's lying about being involved in this project at that time, why is there e-mail traffic about it? I mean, it's just very hard to imagine how, if it comes to this under cross-examination, he could be made to look like a liar, when he's corroborated by contemporaneous e-mail.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by. There's more we need on this discuss.
But joining us right now, Senator Angus King. He's an independent who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
How significant do you believe it is that the information we learned today from the special counsel, how significant is this information?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, I think what's really significant is the question you asked a few minutes ago, and that is, what other information other than the Moscow project, the Moscow deal, does Michael Cohen have to offer the special counsel?
You could cover that subject in an hour. There have been 70 hours of interviews, according to published reports. So this is significant in and of itself, because it indicates a connection with Russia that, frankly, was pretty much dismissed or denied throughout the campaign.
But, also, I think the more important is, what don't we know? What is Michael Cohen testifying to, what information is he offering on a whole range of other subjects? And I think that's that's the bombshell today.
I mean, the Moscow project, I can't say too many people are surprised that this was something that they were interested in. Donald Trump had been interested in doing business in Moscow for years. And the fact that it continued into the campaign, I don't find terribly surprising.
You got to remind yourself, Wolf, this is a president with vast business interests across the world who hasn't divested himself of a dime of his businesses. He's still the owner of this business. He's turned over management to his sons, but he's the beneficial owner and still has -- whatever their ownership structure is.
So, there's no blind trust here -- or I guess you would call it a blind trust with 20/20 vision. This is -- we don't know what other businesses there are in other parts of the world or in Moscow or anywhere else.
But I think, as I said, the important part of Michael Cohen today is, what did he say other than about the Moscow project?
BLITZER: Well, do you believe, Senator, that this proves that the Russians had leverage over President Trump?
KING: Well, it certainly indicates that they had some -- that the president was interested in doing this deal. I don't know if I would escalate it to say it was leverage.
But he did have something that he wanted from Russia during the early part of 2018, and everybody knows that you don't do big deals in Moscow without the approval of the government. And the government in this case is Vladimir Putin.
So, clearly, there was an ongoing relationship and a desire to do that deal going into the middle of the presidential election, at least as far as June of 2016. So, insofar as, did the president want something for Russia during that period, I think the answer is clearly yes. He wanted to build the Trump Tower in Moscow.
BLITZER: Cohen says he misled Congress, your committee, the House Intelligence Committee as well, to protect the president. Do you think President Trump actually directed him to do that?
KING: I have no idea. I have no information or any way to evaluate that question.
I think -- I'm sure that's something the special counsel is looking into. Whether there was some kind of instruction or coordination between the White House and Michael Cohen during that period, I don't have any evidence on that and really can't speculate, Wolf.
BLITZER: The president says that Michael Cohen is lying to get a reduced prison sentence.
But he also says that if he had gone through with the Trump Tower Moscow project, there wouldn't be anything wrong with that. What's your reaction to that?
KING: Well, you know, I think the only question is, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it if he wasn't president of the United States or within a few months of running -- or he was running for president of the United States, and basically saying -- I think you played a clip that said, you know, no interests in Russia, no deals in Russia.
And then I guess that was technically true at the time of that clip. But my understanding is, earlier in the campaign, he made similar statements.
So I think, clearly, there was some interest there. The other piece that was touched upon in your clip, Wolf, is that the pardon is not off the table for Manafort.
That is dangling a pardon. I was a governor. I had the power of the pardon. And the idea of saying publicly a pardon is not off the table for somebody that might be a witness in a proceeding against me, I just -- I can't imagine doing something like that.
That is -- as I say, the term I would say is, he's dangling a pardon. He doesn't have to say, I'm going to give him a pardon. It's almost worse if he says I'm considering it, it's not off the table, because that's a signal to Manafort, hold out and you have got a good chance of getting a pardon.
BLITZER: Well, is that obstruction of justice?
KING: I'm not going to give it a legal characterization. But I would say it's very troubling.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, says the president's answers to Mueller actually line up with Cohen's.
If that's true, Senator, why did the president call Michael Cohen a liar today?
KING: Well, I thought of exactly that same question. If they line up, then Michael Cohen wasn't lying. He lied -- I guess what they're saying is, he lied last September to the committee; therefore, he's a liar and can't be trusted in anything he's saying.
But it sounds like they're trying to have it both ways. If they're saying the president's answers which were just submitted line up with what Michael Cohen said, then it's hard to say he's not telling the truth about this whole -- the whole Moscow project.
BLITZER: Now that the special counsel has the president's written answers to the questions that he submitted, those written answers were presented to the special counsel the other day, and with the president crossing paths potentially with Putin at this weekend's G20 summit in Argentina, what do you make of the timing of all of this?
KING: Well, you know, I think it's funny that everybody is saying -- not everybody, but the president's partisan certainly are saying, let's get it over with, let's move the special counsel's work forward.
And then we have a major breakthrough in the case, and I read this afternoon that some of the president's partisans are saying, well, it's only timed to make the meeting with Putin more difficult, and the same thing happened with Helsinki.
I don't think there's anything special to read into the timing. I think the special counsel is moving at his own pace and moving forward based upon the information that they have. And he's going to continue to do so, at least if the president or the acting attorney general doesn't take steps to try to terminate or otherwise undermine the investigation.
That's why I have been one of the people around here saying, why can't we pass this bill to protect the special counsel? Mitch McConnell keeps saying, well, it's not necessary.
I'm afraid if you wait until the firing takes place, it's too late. And it's like we're going to build in fire department here, but we're not going to hire anybody for the fire department until there's a fire. I think it would be a hell of a mess if we wait until there's a firing and then Congress rushes around and tries to do something retroactively.
I don't think that should work -- that would work. That's why we need to do it now, and we should. And if everybody around here says the special counsel's investigation should go forward and be unimpeded, then let's put our money where our mouth is and pass that bill.
BLITZER: We now know that Michael Cohen wasn't honest when he came before your committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, during his testimony. Will you have Michael Cohen back to testify again?
KING: That's a question that I'm going to defer to Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chair and vice chair of the committee.
But I think it would be helpful if the committee could talk to him once again, given these revelations today. But that's -- I'm going to let them make that call.
BLITZER: Senator Angus King of Maine, one final question, Senator, before I let you go.
What about Donald Trump Jr.? You want him to testify before your committee?
KING: Again, I'm going to give you the same answer. I'm going to defer that to Mark Warner and Richard Burr. I think they will make the right call on that, and I have confidence.
We have been able to work very well together on a bipartisan basis. And I'm going to let them keep doing just that. I'm proud that we have been able to do what we have done so far, working in a bipartisan way. And I think that's the direction we're going to continue to go.
BLITZER: Yes, you have been able to do in the Senate, the Senate Intelligence Committee, what the House Intelligence Committee has clearly failed to do, work in that bipartisan manner.
Senator King, thanks so much for joining us.
KING: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Just ahead, what else did Robert Mueller learn from Michael Cohen
during 70 hours of questioning? We are going to talk about the former fixer's role in the Russia probe and what he might have on President Trump.
And with Cohen's cooperation, can Mueller prove collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia? Our analysts are standing by.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news.
Michael Cohen now admitting he lied to Congress about the full extent of the president's business dealings with Moscow to protect Mr. Trump and to limit the Russia investigation.
The president's longtime lawyer and fixer pleading guilty in a cooperation agreement with Robert Mueller, Cohen revealing that efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow continued deep into the 2016 presidential campaign, at the very same time Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential election, attempting to help Mr. Trump win the White House.
[18:30:21] Let's bring in our analysts. And David Swerdlick, well into the 2016 campaign, one of the president's closest associates was in touch with the Kremlin on this project as we know. And Michael Cohen says he was lying about it to protect the president. What do you make of these incredible developments?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So narrowly speaking, legally, Wolf, I think it means that we need to look at what the president's answers were to those written questions that he turned in to the special counsel's office in the last couple of weeks. If the special counsel finds inconsistencies, that is going to potentially be a legal problem for the president.
More broadly speaking, politically, the president has had two years to come forward to the American people, more than two years, and simply say, "Yes, we were working on a deal for Trump Tower Moscow, or some other business venture in Russia. It didn't happen. But trust me, you know, this did not interfere with my campaign or with the way I conducted myself as president."
He didn't say that. He has said over and over, "I had nothing to do with Russia. This is all a hoax." And now if what Michael Cohen testified today in court to is true, that is a major political liability.
BLITZER: And as you know, Jeffrey, the special counsel has documents and evidence that make him believe Michael Cohen is now being truthful. And that's what he told the federal -- the court today.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And that's what prosecutors do. They don't just take people's word for it. They corroborate or see the absence of corroboration.
That's why it's so significant to see these emails in the -- referred to in the charging document today, because they corroborate Michael Cohen's story. It's not just taking his word for it.
But remember how much Michael Cohen had access to. His office was right by Donald Trump's throughout 2016.
What did he know about Roger Stone's conversations with the president about WikiLeaks? What did he know about the Trump Tower meeting in June with Paul Manafort and Donald Jr. and Jared Kushner? A lot of these conversations in -- in about the Trump Tower building, about the Trump Tower in Moscow, were taking place at precisely the same time that this meeting was being scheduled in Trump Tower in June.
All of this comes together, and that's why this is all so damaging, because it's not one discreet thing. It's a package of incriminating materials.
BLITZER: And you make a good point. We have no idea during those 70 hours of Q&A with Michael Cohen, what else he was providing the special counsel.
Jamie Gangel, how significant is it that the president has already submitted his written answers to the special counsel on these various topics?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's very significant. I do not think the timing was an accident, that he waited until the president had submitted those answers, has it in hand, and then has this Michael Cohen plea.
Let's also remember, Robert Mueller signed this piece of paper today personally. He really believes him. As David said, as Jeffrey said, there are emails, and there may be other witnesses that contracted, as well.
I want to talk about one old name, Alan Weisselberg. He is the CFO of the Trump Organization. He was given limited immunity in August about the Stormy Daniels thing and about -- about Michael Cohen. He knows everything that goes on in the Trump Organization and business world. Perhaps he's one of the people who Robert Mueller is talking to, as well.
BLITZER: Yes, that's an excellent point. He's been with the Trump Organization for, what, decades, 40 years, I think. Chief financial officer. And Alan Weisselberg has been cooperating. He did get immunity in exchange for all of his cooperation. And that's something potentially of grave concern to a lot of folks including presumably the president himself.
Jackie Kucinich, the president's lawyer says the written answers they provided to Mueller actually line up with Cohen's answers. If that's true, why did the president rail against Michael Cohen today and call him a liar? JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to be fair, in a
literal sense, Michael Cohen is a liar. The thing is, he lied to Congress.
The thing about Donald Trump is the fact that, if you're not with him, you're against him, and you're a liar. If you are on the -- if it looks like you're backing him up -- if you're Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Paul Manafort -- you're telling the truth. And that's the kind of binary way that he sees the world.
[18:35:07] And right now, because Michael Cohen is not -- is testifying against him, the president is -- is going to say that about him.
BLITZER: You know, David --
TOOBIN: Just --
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: To just add one point, this issue of like, look, what do the president's answers say? There's one way to find out. Why don't they just release them? I mean, there's nothing barring Donald Trump from releasing his own answers to Mueller's questions. Release them, and then we can all see if he's corroborated or not.
KUCINICH: I agree. Rudy Giuliani.
BLITZER: Realistically, Jeffrey, is there any chance the White House is going to do that?
TOOBIN: I don't think so, but you can draw your own conclusions for why they won't do it. I mean, I just -- all this -- mystery about what do the answers say? I mean, there's an easy way to find out. Let -- or let him just release that answer to that question. I mean, taking Rudy Giuliani's word for it, respectfully to our former mayor, I'd rather see the answers.
BLITZER: We'd all love to see all those answers. You know, David, let's watch how the president went after Michael Cohen earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story. Now, here's the thing: Even if he was right, it doesn't matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business, a lot of different things during the campaign. So very simply, Michael Cohen is lying, and he's trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, so he says, David, that Michael Cohen is lying, but even if Cohen is telling the truth, the president says there's nothing wrong with what he was doing. So does all of that add up? SWERDLICK: So, Wolf, the president sometimes speaks as if he's
breaking news when he's saying something that is 100 percent obvious. He did it twice in that clip that you played.
Yes, Michael Cohen is trying to get a better plea deal, and the president is saying that he's lying now. But the president said he was telling the truth when Cohen now says he was lying back then that the president said he was telling the truth.
In terms of the president trying to excuse himself for what was said in 2016, here's the problem with that. At a minimum politically, again, he said over and over on the campaign trail, over and over, once he had taken office, that Russia was a hoax, that he had nothing to do with Russia. Never did anything to disclose these ongoing business discussions, even if they didn't eventually lead to a Trump Tower. And now he's coming out and saying, "Well, of course."
Well, if it's "Of course," why was it sort of hidden from the public view back then?
BLITZER: You know, at the same time, Jeffrey, Michael Cohen was pursuing this deal in Moscow, communicating directly with the Kremlin, President Trump was praising Russia and Putin, for that matter, out there on the campaign trail, and the Republican platform on arming Ukraine against Russia changed more favorably toward Russia. So how concerning is that?
TOOBIN: Well, that's why this is so important, because it goes to the question that has been so mysterious from the beginning of Donald Trump's campaign.
Is it -- what is it about Vladimir Putin that he likes so much? Why has he been so solicitous? Why has he never criticized him? Why did he change the Republican platform? To make it pro-Russia.
And answer, presented by today's evidence, is because it was a way to make money. Because Donald Trump was trying to do business with Putin's Russia during the Republican primaries, and solicit -- and saying nice things about Vladimir Putin is why -- is how you do business and how you get business in Russia.
And what the president said today was, like, "Oh, everybody knew I was trying to do business in Russia," is absolutely not true. No one knew that during the Republican primaries. It would have been a huge story if he were negotiating, but he never said it. And that's significant.
BLITZER: That's very significant. Jamie, we know Michael Cohen, you know, as he liked to do, taped some of the phone conversations he had with various individuals including the president, Donald Trump, and he worked with him for about a decade if not a little bit longer. How worrying is that, that those taped conversations may now be possessed by Mueller and his team?
GANGEL: Well, we've had reporting that Donald Trump is unhappy and moody and upset. I think he is very unhappy and moody and -- heads are exploding. He knows now that Michael Cohen did have these tape recordings.
We are told there are other tape recordings. So in addition to the question of, as we discussed, emails, texts, other witnesses, there may be actual audio recordings that Michael Cohen had. And this may be one of the reasons that Robert Mueller is so confident that Michael Cohen is telling the truth.
[18:40:09] BLITZER: Yes. I think you make a good point. The audio recordings could be very, very significant.
Everybody, stick around. There's more news just ahead.
What, if anything, could President Trump accomplish as he prepares to land at a major global summit? We're told right now he's spooked and he's distracted after Michael Cohen's surprise guilty plea.
And what does Vladimir Putin make of all this, now that Mr. Trump has canceled their planned meeting on the sidelines of this summit? We're going to have a live report. We're going to Moscow
[18:45:14] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: President Trump lands at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, soon. With more reason to worry about the Russia investigation after his former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted he lied to Congress to protect him, Mr. Trump abruptly called off a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin but he claims it wasn't because of Cohen.
Let's go to our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He's joining us live in Moscow right now.
Matthew, another strange twist in the Trump-Putin relationship unfolding tonight.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very strange. I think the Kremlin were just as shocked as the rest of us when they heard this meeting had been canceled. I mean, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was in flight on the way to Buenos Aires when President Trump tweeted this cancelation and was undoubtedly prepping for what he thought was going to be a two-hour face-to-face meeting with the U.S. president.
And the timing coming so soon after those revelations were made public by Michael Cohen, leaving few people here in any doubt as to what was behind it.
CHANCE (voice-over): It's been hard to keep up with all the crises overshadowing the now-canceled Trump-Putin meeting. The latest controversy, Trump's former lawyer admitting he lied to Congress about his business dealings in Russia, prompting the U.S. president before leaving for the G20 in Argentina to vigorously deny any wrongdoing and suggests that a planned meeting with the Russian president would still go ahead. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a very
good time to have the meeting. I'm getting a full report on the plane as to what happened with respect to that, and that will determine what I'm going to be doing.
CHANCE: But he was barely in the air when all that changed.
Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, Trump tweeted, I have decided this would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful summit again as soon as this situation is resolved.
This is the naval confrontation of the Crimean coast to which the president referred. A Russian patrol boat ramming a Ukrainian naval tug before two other vessels were fired on and boarded by Russian special forces. Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors were captured and are being held for violating Russian waters, calls had already been mounting for Russia to be diplomatically isolated.
But up until Trump's unexpected tweet, the Russian leader had been prepping for a two-hour summit with President Trump in Buenos Aires. The Kremlin says it only learned of the cancelation from twitter and then texted its reaction to CNN. If this is the case, the Kremlin spokesman wrote, we'll have an extra couple of hours for other useful meetings.
There are serious issues the two leaders had planned to discuss at the G20 from Syria to nuclear weapons. But the latest events at home and abroad appear to have trumped what would have been a controversial head to head.
CHANCE: At least the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has welcomed the move, saying in a response to President Trump's tweet, this is how great leaders act.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Matthew, thank you. Matthew Chance reporting live from Moscow.
We're going to have much more on the breaking news right after this.
[18:53:32] BLITZER: Tonight, New York police have launched a hate crime investigation after two swastikas were spray painted on the office walls of a Jewish Holocaust scholar at Columbia University in New York City, the incident driving home the rise of anti-Semitism that CNN's been reporting on all week.
Right now, we have our final report on the "State of Hate" in the United States and around the world.
Let's go to our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.
Clarissa, an exclusive CNN poll revealed one-third of Europeans know little or nothing about the Holocaust, and tonight, we're getting reaction from the German foreign minister.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This really was some of the most troubling results that we found in our poll. A lot of people reaching out and responding across the world, but on Twitter, Germany's foreign minister calling the results of CNN's poll, quote, shocking and saying, we must remember the greatest crime against humanity if we want to prevent fascism in the future.
Well, we traveled to the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, to see why memory is so important.
EDITH EGER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: It was hell. It was hell, and yet I'm here. I'm here, hopefully to tell young people that I count on them.
WARD (voice-over): Edie Eger was just 16 years old when she arrived at Auschwitz from her native Hungary with her family in may 1944. Nazi physician Josef Mengele was standing at the end of the train platform. Known as the Angel of Death, he performed cruel and often deadly medical experiments on his prisoners.
EGER: He pointed my mom to go to the left and I followed her. He came after me, grabbed me. I never forget those eyes. He said, your mother is just going to take a shower. You'll see her soon.
WARD: Edith never saw her again. Both her parents were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz along with 1 million Jews. Hundreds of others were worked or starved to death. Edith did see Dr. Mengele again.
EGER: He came to the barracks and he wanted to be entertained so they volunteered me and I ended up dancing and closing my eyes and pretending that the music was Tchaikovsky and I was dancing to "Romeo and Juliet" in the Budapest opera house.
WARD: It was that powerful experiment and imagination that helped Edith to survive the unsurvivable. It would be eight months before Soviet troops would liberate the death camp, discovering horrors that remain etched on humanity's conscience 73 years later.
(on camera): In many ways, it's the experiences and testimonies of those who survived that have kept the horrors of the Holocaust alive. And the fear now is that as fewer and fewer of them remain, the memory will start to fade.
(voice-over): According to a CNN poll, it already is. More than a third of Europeans have either never heard of or know just a little about the Holocaust. The statistics for the younger generation are even more alarming, 20 percent of young French adults have never even heard of the Holocaust.
Michael Schudrich is the chief rabbi of Poland.
(on camera): When you hear that younger people say they know very little or next to nothing about the Holocaust, in Europe, which is where the Holocaust was perpetrated, how does that make you feel as a Jew?
MICHAEL SCHUDRICH, CHIEF RABBI, POLAND: How does it make me feel? It makes me feel I have more work to do. It makes me feel that we need to be more proactive. It makes me feel that we need to work far more intensively with ministers of education.
WARD: The stakes are high as Europe grapples with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but there are signs of hope. More than 40 percent of the respondents believe anti-Semitism is a growing problem in Europe. Half agree that commemorating the Holocaust helps to combat anti- Semitism, and nearly two-thirds say it can help ensure such atrocities never happen again.
Today, the ghosts of Auschwitz still linger, serving as a vital reminder to the more than 2 million tourists who visit every year.
SCHUDRICH: Visiting Auschwitz fundamentally transcends the intellectual. It confronts you face-to-face. You're not looking at a book. You're not looking at a film.
You're looking at a place that was built to kill human beings. You're looking at a place that's a factory of death. Four huge gas chambers with crematoria built for the only purpose, to eliminate Jews from Europe. When you stand there, don't try to understand it. Just have your eyes open, your heart open, absorb the moment.
Somehow, if you go there and you stand there, and you experience it, maybe that will help every human being that visits to be one step, 20 steps away from ever doing something like that again.
WARD: And, Wolf, unfortunately, Americans do not fare much better when it comes to Holocaust awareness. A survey taken earlier this year found that one in 10 Americans were not sure if they'd ever heard of the Holocaust. That number among millennials was one in five and 50 percent of millennials could not name a single concentration camp -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Awful, awful indeed.
All right. Clarissa, thank you so much for doing these excellent, excellent reports. We're grateful to you, to Sara Sidner as well.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.