July 12th, 2015
04:23 PM ET

EVP of Trump Organization Michael Cohen: "Here is the bottom line: Donald Trump is right now at the top of the Republican candidates."

Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, executive president of The Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, joined host Brian Stelter to discuss whether Donald Trump is worried about his brand after losing certain partners, Senator Lindsey Graham’s latest comments, Donald Trump’s event in Phoenix, and Trump’s comments on the media.

Reliable Sources airs Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon (ET).

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES WITH BRIAN STELTER

VIDEO:

Michael Cohen, special counsel to Donald Trump, addresses news media coverage of his boss and says the candidate is "authentic."

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS:

Cohen on Donald Trump not worrying about losing certain partners: He is not worried about these ancillary businesses or these spineless individuals that want to run away from him.  What he is interested in is simply making America great again.  That is his message. …What he's worried about, again, is his message, which is to make America great again.  He is worried about the veterans.  He's worried about national security.  He is worried about Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid.  He's worried about many different things. One thing he is not worried about is the small dollars that are coming in as a result of these relationships.

Cohen on Senator Lindsey Graham calling Donald Trump a “wrecking ball”: I’m not really sure what Lindsey Graham is saying.  I don't really think anybody cares what he's saying… Donald Trump has hit a chord.  Donald Trump from even yesterday in Arizona, what was supposed to be a thousand-person event turned out to be a 20,000. The silent majority has been awoken.  And Mr. Trump will talk about, there is a real movement out there. And the one thing Donald Trump is, is he is authentic.  He is not going to have individuals tell him what to say.  He is not going to poll individuals before releasing what he believes is necessary in order to make this country great again.

Stelter and Cohen on Donald Trump’s event in Phoenix, AZ: [STELTER]: You mentioned 20,000 people being there in Phoenix. There were not 20,000 people in Phoenix.  I know Donald Trump said that on Twitter.  The venue was supposed to hold 4,000 people.  The New York Times says less than 10,000. How can we believe this man could be commander-in-chief if he can't even get his facts straight? [COHEN]:  Listen, whether it's 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000, it's a complete sellout.  And if Donald Trump says– [STELTER]:  That actually matters, whether it's 5,000 or 20,000.  It actually matters a lot. [COHEN]:  Why does it matter?  What you see is a movement.  You see a movement of people that are angry.  They're angry with the all-talk-no-action policy of our career politicians.  Donald Trump is not beholding to anyone.  He is not asking anyone like lobbyists or the big financial institutions, for money.  He is doing this from his own pocket and he's doing it for a purpose."

Cohen on Donald Trump’s latest critique of the press: Of course, they're (the media) giving him attention because he creates ratings.  That's what Donald Trump does. But what Donald Trump is angry about is there was a statement that was made regarding Mexico, and every liberal media outlet jumped on it and they switched it from Mexico meaning the government to the Mexican people. And that was absolutely unfair.  It was dishonest.  And it's created a swell of media attention. And in all fairness it back-fired on them because, again, he's polling number one.  So, it certainly appears to be creating this ground movement by people who are angry with the way our politicians are dealing with our open borders.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

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

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump dominating headlines while he’s suing Univision.  So, how is Spanish language media covering Trump's anti-immigration message? Plus, the most anticipated book, not only of the year but of the decade.  But did 89-year-old author Harper Lee even want it to be published?  We have new information this morning from a journalist who met with Lee a few days ago.  And what is going on at Reddit?  Well, the CEO is stepping down.  Can women get a fair shake in Silicon Valley?

Good morning.  I’m Brian Stelter.  And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES.  We have all those stories and more coming up.  But let's begin with what increasingly looks like the story of the summer - that is the man behind me, Donald Trump.

If the presidential campaign he's running were a reality show, it would be scoring record-high ratings.  Polls - they’re showing more and more support for the billionaire who will say just about anything.

Meanwhile, newsrooms are sending more and more reporters to Trump campaign events like this rally in Phoenix last night.  And some commentators - well, you can hear the surprise in their voices.  They don't know what to think.

Here’s two examples from MSNBC and FOX earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I used to say he'll stop, whenever he absolutely has to file that form, he’ll stop.  He'll shut this thing down.  I’m just getting the sense this thing has gotten more traction than he was expecting, he’s connected with something he was expecting to.  And I’m just wondering, this thing is already bigger than anybody thought it would be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The question I think, really, is the buzz is actually a good thing this early on.  We’re still a long way until Iowa, long way until New Hampshire.  Or is the sound of the buzz a chainsaw?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER:  I don't know - I don’t think FOX knows how to cover this campaign.

You know, two things are happening.  There is a growing sentiment and I hear you all saying at home that the press should not be covering Trump the way it is, should not be involved in what is basically an epic trolling of the presidential primary process.  But at the same time, there is also this growing sense that Trump is reshaping the whole race, challenging the Republican establishment, exciting the base, and writing a chapter of the 2016 story that almost nobody expected.

Now, everybody has an opinion about Trump.  A few people really know him like my next guest, Michael Cohen, an executive vice president and special counsel of the Trump Organization. Michael, as one of Trump's top advisers, are you seeing the constant stream of campaign coverage and rejoicing?  Or is this somehow hurting his business somehow?

MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  Well, look, Donald Trump is a mega-billionaire.  And when he releases his financials you're going to see just how wealthy he actually is.  He is not worried about these ancillary businesses or these spineless individuals that want to run away from him.  What he is interested in is simply making America great again.  That is his message.

STELTER:  We've heard the message.  When you say spineless, are you talking about NBC, Univision, Macy's?

COHEN:  I’m talking about them and all the others.

STELTER:  But you hear that, these are major corporations that have distanced themselves from Trump.  It must be hurting the bottom line at this point.

COHEN:  Well, I don't think Mr. Trump is worried about the bottom line.  What he's worried about, again, is his message, which is to make America great again.  He is worried about the veterans.  He's worried about national security.  He is worried about Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid.  He's worried about many different things. One thing he is not worried about is the small dollars that are coming in as a result of these relationships.

STELTER:  Let me play a sound bite from you from earlier this morning on STATE OF THE UNION here on CNN.  Another presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, had this to say about Trump.  I want to hear your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think he's uninformed about the situation regarding the illegal immigrant population.  I think he’s hijacked the debate.  I think he is a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER:  A wrecking ball?  Michael, any reaction to that?

COHEN:  I’m not really sure what Lindsey Graham is saying.  I don't really think anybody cares what he's saying, to be very honest with you. Donald Trump has hit a chord.  Donald Trump from even yesterday in Arizona, what was supposed to be a thousand-person event turned out to be a 20,000. The silent majority has been awoken.  And Mr. Trump will talk about, there is a real movement out there. And the one thing Donald Trump is, is he is authentic.  He is not going to have individuals tell him what to say.  He is not going to poll individuals before releasing what he believes is necessary in order to make this country great again.  That is again -

STELTER:  I think we can agree, first of all, every candidate wants America to be great again.  A lot of candidates already think America is great.  I mean, that slogan doesn't say much.  It's like cotton candy, isn't it?  Make America great again.

COHEN:  No, I really don't think so, Brian.  Actually, I think Donald Trump is authentic to that message.  The other -

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER:  Here’s what I’m concerned about.  You mentioned 20,000 people being there -

COHEN:  The other -

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER:  You mentioned 20,000 people being there in Phoenix. There were not 20,000 people in Phoenix.  I know Donald Trump said that on Twitter.  The venue was supposed to hold 4,000 people.  The New York Times says less than 10,000. How can we believe this man could be commander-in-chief if he can't even get his facts straight?

COHEN:  Listen, whether it's 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000, it's a complete sellout.  And if Donald Trump says -

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER:  That actually matters, whether it's 5,000 or 20,000.  It actually matters a lot.

COHEN:  Why does it matter?  What you see is a movement.  You see a movement of people that are angry.  They're angry with the all-talk-no-action policy of our career politicians.  Donald Trump is not beholding to anyone.  He is not asking anyone like lobbyists or the big financial institutions, for money.  He is doing this from his own pocket and he's doing it for a purpose.

STELTER:  I think we can all agree there is a lot of anger out there and you’re right that he's tapping into some of the anger.  What I wonder, for you, as someone that works with him every day and gives Donald Trump advice, how do you plan a strategy or a campaign for a guy like Donald Trump?  It seems like he gets out there, he doesn't have prepared remarks.  He doesn’t have a scripted speech.  He just says whatever is on his mind.  Is it hard to work with a guy like that?

COHEN:  That’s what makes -

STELTER:  How can you possibly plan a campaign?

COHEN:  That's what makes Donald Trump authentic.  That's why he resonates with the people.  He doesn't have pre-scripted speeches that people spend two, three weeks on polling in order to find out - well, if you say this, then it's going to resonate well in your poll numbers.  Here is the bottom line: Donald Trump is right now at the top of the Republican candidate.  He is polling number one.  Some say he is by himself.  Others say that he's with Jeb Bush.

What he's saying is resonating with the people.  The people are tired.  We're all tired of the all-talk-no-action policy of our career politicians.  And I think Donald Trump's honest, open, authentic message is what the American people are looking for.

STELTER:  You mentioned the polls where he is number one.  I would just add one caveat, which is so far, those have been online polls.  CNN, for example, goes with telephone polls.  So, we haven’t been reporting on the polls where he’s number one. But you’re absolutely right.  He's polling number two.  He’s close to Jeb Bush in some of these telephone polls.  And we're going to see more polls in the coming days that show it seems this real momentum from Donald Trump. My last question for you, Michael, before I have to let you go is, whether you agree with his critique with the press.  He was calling the press terrible last night.  He loves to mock reporters.  And yet aren't reporters giving him attention and helping him rise even higher in the polls?

COHEN:  Of course, they're giving him attention because he creates ratings.  That's what Donald Trump does. But what Donald Trump is angry about is there was a statement that was made regarding Mexico, and every liberal media outlet jumped on it and they switched it from Mexico meaning the government to the Mexican people.

And that was absolutely unfair.  It was dishonest.  And it's created a swell of media attention.

And in all fairness it back-fired on them because, again, he's polling number one.  So, it certainly appears to be creating this ground movement by people who are angry with the way our politicians are dealing with our open borders.

STELTER:  Michael, I appreciate you being here.  Thanks for taking the time this morning.

COHEN:  Very nice to speak to you.

END INTERVIEW


Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • Reliable Sources
tmpl
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.