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There Are 13 Russians Have Been Formally Indicted For Interfering In The 2016 Election, The White House Blames Democrats On Russian Meddling, The Killer, 19 Years Old. He Has Confessed To The Shooting, To Killing 17 People According To Law Enforcement. White House Denying Fresh Claims Of An Affair Early In The President's Marriage To First Lady Melania Trump, "Black Panther" Is Poised To Break Records In Its Opening Weekend. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 17, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:12] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It is 7:00 eastern. 4:00 in the afternoon out west. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
It is official 13 Russians have been formally indicted for interfering in the 2016 election. The charges are stunning. They detail how the Russians worked for years. They spent millions of dollars, to try to pick the next President of the United States. Today, President Trump's national security adviser says this indictment offers undeniable proof against Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: While this admission might seem in significant, it's not. For more than a year President Trump has refused to accept that Russia meddled calling the probe a hoax and a witch hunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.
This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.
The entire thing has been a witch hunt. How many times do I have to answer this question? It's a ruse. I have been in office 11 months. For 11 months they have had this phony cloud over this administration, over our government. It's a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that frankly, the Democrats should have won because they have such a tremendous advantage in the electoral college so it was brought up for that reason. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: As I said the details in this indictment show this was never a Democratic ruse or excuse for losing an election. The interference was very real.
Our Polo Sandoval look at what was involved.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These 37 pages allege Russians went a very long way in their attempt to interfere with U.S. democracy. According to the federal indictment, Russians operating out of this St. Petersburg troll farm launched a misinformation campaign to wreck havoc on America's political system.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine ;dependence and democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.
SANDOVAL: Examples of the alleged misinformation campaign include allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic Party and the purchase of advertisements to further promote the allegations on Facebook. The pages were even designed to look like they were run by real Americans and focus on issues in American life, race relations, immigration, and of course, then candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Facebook estimates close to 126 million Americans may have been exposed to this and other propaganda. Federal investigators say the group behind it is the internet research agency link today the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement in the U.S. elections. At the security conference Saturday Russia's foreign minister again dismissed those claims.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIA'S MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): I have no response. Until we see the facts, everything else is just platter.
SANDOVAL: Then there are the rallies. In May 2016, a small group of anti-Islamic protests gathered outside a Muslim community center in Houston Texas. Situation grew intense with counter rally.
The very month of the election, both pro and anti-Trump demonstrations were held in New York. U.S. prosecutors say both events were organized by this same troll group half a world away in St. Petersburg. Russians traveled to the U.S. on a fact finding mission in 2014, say prosecutors. It would be the foundation of a massive operation brought to light in recent months and described in detail in these 37 pages.
Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
CABRERA: So now you know how they did it. How is the President and the White House responding to the news? CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joins us live in West Palm
Beach, Florida where the President is spending the weekend.
Boris, this indictment reveals a stunning and brazen attack against our democracy. Is President Trump addressing that?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sort of, Ana. The most that we got from the White House from the administration in a number of tweets and official statement put out by the President yesterday was that Russia was a bad actor.
But there really wasn't a strong condemnation of Russia meddling in the 2016 election. There really wasn't a call for them to stop potential future meddling. And no real sign from the administration that they are going to take aggressive steps to prevent Russia from interfering again in the future elections. One coming up just a few months away in November.
Instead, what we have seen from the administration is a focus on Democrats and the media. I want you to listen to what deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told FOX News earlier today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:05:13]HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians. And that's the Democrats and the mainstream media who continue to push this lying the American people for more than a year. And quite frankly, Americans should be outraged by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: So, again, the blame for election meddling not squarely placed on Vladimir Putin or his cronies but rather Democrats and the media, at least according to Hogan Gidley. That line of thinking not necessarily aligning with other Republicans, including some very prominent once like senator Chuck Grassley who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, actually tweeted out to President Trump encouraging him to confront Vladimir Putin.
Look at this tweet sent out earlier tonight. He writes quote "next time President Trump that you talk to Putin, tell him to butt out of our elections. Quit the cyber warfare interference in our democracy."
That tweet certainly, noteworthy, because as you recall, Ana, one of the previous occasions in which President Trump et Vladimir Putin, he said that he asked Putin whether Russia interfered in the election and that he believed Vladimir Putin when he denied that Russia did. We will look forward to seeing how the President approaches Vladimir Putin in the future now that these indictments have been put out there.
We should note as far as the President's schedule goes, you noted that he is spending the long weekend here in Palm Beach. He did not golf today as he typically does on sunny Saturdays like this one. A White House official telling CNN that in part out, that's out of respect for the victims and families and friends of those affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school early on Wednesday.
We can also tell you that just a short while ago we learned that House speaker Paul Ryan is actually going to be meeting with the President in Palm Beach tomorrow to discuss the legislative agenda, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez in West Palm Beach, thank you.
For all of that, let's bring in our panel now. CNN political reporter Greg Krieg, CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali and law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.
So, Tim, instead of attacking the foreign adversary that tried to undermine our democracy, the President, the White House's reaction is to attack fellow Americans. Is there a precedent for this?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, there is no precedent for a set of indictments regarding foreign intervention in one of our elections. So we are in unchartered waters anyway.
But there is it a real problem for the President. And the President now cannot credibly deny that there was a Russian interference. And the President has to understand that the U.S. national security community has to figure out why the Russians preferred him. Not only over Hillary Clinton, but also over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio because the Russians were also trying to hurt Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio during the primary campaign.
So I'm not suggesting that there is a deep dark secret there. But the President has to understand that it is important for the country to know why Russia prefer him. Why did the Russians go to this trouble to help his campaign? That doesn't mean he won because of them.
NAFTALI: His problem, his challenge is to separate himself from Putin. He didn't do it in the campaign. He hasn't done it up to now. But really the legitimacy of his ability to deal with our foreign policy depends on him now distancing himself from Putin and the fact that the Russians wanted to help him for some reason.
CABRERA: Well, now he has basically said since this indictment came out, Greg, that this kind of clears him, look, they were doing this in 2014. They started this effort before I even announced my presidential campaign and yet he has not condemned Russia.
GREGORY KRIEG, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I mean, I think it fits the pattern perfectly. He kind of -- I think he takes this news in, like we found out on Friday, and immediate frame of reference is how does this affect me, how does this make me look, does this undermine me or rather does it undermine my election victory in some way.
CABRERA: Should the White House be taking a victory lap on this?
KRIEG: It seems like an odd way to approach it. You know, from strictly political point of view, you know, like as Rod Rosenstein said when he was speaking, he said, it was nothing in this indictment that says there is collusion. There is nothing in this indictment.
CABRERA: In this indictment.
KRIEG: Yes. And you know, lawyers, right, you know, that I would pay attention to those words. I don't imagine he would say them if they didn't maybe mean something.
But putting that all aside, yes, I mean, I feel like from a political point of view, you say this is serious. We acknowledge this. And we look forward -- to me, it's a very simple thing to do. If you have even the slightest degree of discipline, you just let it move on and he just seems to be incapable of doing that.
[19:10:09] CABRERA: And we should point out we do know that people like Flynn, like Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty. They are cooperating with Mueller. There are other aspects of the Mueller investigation and this indictment certainly hasn't touch or answer questions pertaining to those areas.
But Tom, what message do you think Mueller was sending with this indictment?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think what he is saying is that he is going to investigate this diligently and return an indictment if they can gather the evidence, which they gathered, of what these individuals did. And I think that, you know, my last 11 years in the FBI, I was senior executive, my last seven under Robert Mueller, and I can tell you that's why we don't know what's going on in that investigation. He runs a tight ship. The several dozen agents that are assigned to him in this investigation, you have heard nothing from them. And we are always surprised. We were sur surprised when Rosenstein made the announcement. People were wondering what is this going to be when he announced he was holding a press conference.
So that's the nature of this. This investigation is not over by any means. And I think you are right, nobody should be celebrating in the end zone that they are being exonerated. We just don't know. And I think that the Rosenstein was quite clear, although a lot - I have heard a lot of people on air that missed this point, that this indictment, this indictment doesn't show collusion, doesn't show that any results were successful in attempting to influence the election. Just that they tried and they have the evidence of who did it and how they did it and brought a indictment through a grand jury against them.
CABRERA: Greg, Senator Lindsey Graham has said Trump has a blind spot when it comes to Russia. Why does it say when President Trump has a problem with, saying this isn't OK, to Russia but yet, doesn't have any problem going after ally when he doesn't agree with something they say or do like you think of the U.K. and think what has happened there?
KRIEG: Right. I mean, I think it goes back to his views of his legitimacy, of other people's views of his legitimacy as President. He, you know, I think - I mean, if you can strain out all the other things, what he hears, we are all listening to, you know, what Rosenstein is saying in the press conference, we are reading through these documents, we are picking out pieces.
What the President is hearing is, you know, you are elected, and it wasn't on the level. You didn't achieve. You are not a brilliant candidate. You won for some reason apart from your own, you know, like unique incredible political abilities. And that's what he is hearing and that is what he is reacting to. And if you read, you know, his twitter feed, you know, it's all about Democrats this. And you hear from this White House saying this is weapon of destruction by Democrats in the mainstream media. I mean, I think it's very important to, you know, the extent we can put ourselves in his shoes and what he hears here is what you did, your great accomplishment is not legitimate.
CABRERA: So, Tim, you had said something earlier that struck me. You said any attempt now to undermine the Mueller investigation at this point could credibly be described as treason. Explain that.
NAFTALI: Well, the Mueller investigation, if you look at the mandate, was always supposed to look to see if there was any coordination or contact between associates of the Trump campaign and Russia. So it was part of the brief. But now we have publicly accessible information, which means the President has this information. That shows that there was a Russian effort to undermine our democracy.
That means that any attempt by an American citizen right now, whoever it is, to undermine the Mueller investigation, you have to interpret as a way to help Russia. I mean, we know that the Mueller investigation is trying to figure out why Russia did this to the extent you can. Who was involved. To what extent did they influence our democracy, again, based on what you can learn through the means at their disposal. Anybody who tries to intervene in that process is making it harder for our country to defend itself against Russia. That's why the reason of treason arises.
It's a game changer. This is a much, much more serious investigation and it is now publicly more serious. There was a time when only people in the intelligence community and then in Congress knew what they had been finding. Now the American people do and now members of the White House do. I don't know what they knew before, but they certainly know it now.
So for the President to start playing the game that he was, to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation, a lot of folks are going to say to the President, Mr. President, you don't want an independent investigation of Russia's intervention in our democracy? Why not? This raises the stakes for him. It's not the political game for him that it was before. And my hope, because I wanted the United States to have a credible national security policy, my hope is the President will start distancing himself from Russia big time and showing that he is embarrassed about having been Putin's candidate.
I mean, this is embarrassing. The President of the United States was Putin's or at least Russia's candidate. That should be embarrassing to Mr. Trump, to President Trump. That's not any reason to have a victory lap at all.
[19:15:22] CABRERA: I want to give you the final thought, Tom.
FUENTES: Well, I think that, you know, one of the things to point out here is this is not something new. This goes back to the cold war soviet union with their trade craft continued when they became the Russian federation in 1991. They contribute to protest groups over the years, anonymously, of course. And even the protest group may not be aware that thinking that just, you know, people that favor their cause or sending in money. But this has gone back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, where they do just that. Where they are trying to show the rest of the world that they have the answer to how to run a country with their system, and our democracy is dysfunctional, and we often help them prove that case, that we can't pass laws, that we can't agree, that we are all divided. And anything they can do to widen that wedge between various factions in this country, they do it and they take advantage of it. And it's still ongoing now, with or without their help, it's continuing.
CABRERA: Tom Fuentes, Tim Naftali, and Gregory Krieg, thank you all.
KRIEG: Thank you.
CABRERA: Straight ahead to Florida where the outrage is boiling over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONZALEZ: To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: A powerful message straight from the students who survived a massacre. Their calls for change next.
You are live in the NEWSROOM.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
[19:21:01] CABRERA: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a short time ago, a few miles from the school where 17 people, students and faculty, were shot dead Wednesday by a former student with a rifle. Speakers at this anti-gun rally included students who survived the massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONZALEZ: If you don't do anything to prevent this from coming, from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they will worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you. To every politicians who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Now, amid all the pain of this shooting, the principal of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school has taken to social media to send this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TY THOMPSON, PRINCIPAL, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We lost 17 lives on valentine's day. That's supposed to be international day of love. We are going to take the love that we got lost on Wednesday and we re going to spread it over the next days, weeks, months and maybe even years.
The love you shared and continue to share is going to help us get through these trying times. And eagles I promise you, I will hug each and everyone of you as many times as you need and I will hold you as long as you need me to for all 3300 of you and your families and we will get through this together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now to the person responsible for all of this pain and fear and unbelievable sorrow for so many people. The killer, 19 years old. He has confessed to the shooting, to killing 17 people according to law enforcement. People who know him say they aren't surprised that, he has a long history of trouble and instability and violence. His recent online photos and posts do nothing to dispute that images. He poses with guns and knives and spout hate speech.
CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung is in Parkland, Florida.
Kaylee, people who went to school with this gunman, who live next to him, teachers, they all paint this picture of someone capable of horrible violence.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, they do. We continue to learn disturbing habits on and offline of the confessed school shooter. CNN was actually allowed access into a private group Instagram chat that he was a part of. In it, he pronounces his views and racist and homophobic and anti-Semitic. He shares photos that illustrates his obsession with guns and violence.
Now, since Cruz joined that Instagram group chat in August of 2017, the chat was primarily among six individuals. Those individuals refused to confirmed their identities on or off the record to CNN. But they appears to be younger than 178 years old. And I want to warn you the language that we found Cruz to used in this group chat is offensive and disturbing. As he would write quote "I hate Jews, n- word, immigrants, shoot them in the back of the head. I think I am going to kill people."
Over the course of this story, we have also learned that the shooter spent most of his life in an adopted home. Here in this group chat he wrote quote "my real mom was a Jew. I'm glad I never met her."
And we have also learned of more than 30 times over the past several years that authorities were called to the home that Cruz lived in. Well, we are now learning of one specific incident in September of 2016, he gotten into a fight with his mother. She alleged to authorities that he was cutting himself. Investigators came to the home and yet they determined that he was not at risk to harm himself or others. Ana, we now know that not to be true.
CABRERA: Such a shame all around more than that.
Kaylee Hartung, thank you.
I want to bring in a career law enforcement official and current deputy mayor of Rochester, New York. Cedric Alexander.
So Cedric, this 19-year-old shooter now charged with murdering 17 people. He has a mental health history that is apparently very long and extensive. His classmates say he talked about killing about shooting up the school. The FBI now we know got tips specific to this shooter. And I want you to listen to what he apparently told a neighbor after his mother died last November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL GOLD, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTER'S NEIGHBOR: I was emotionless. And I wasn't sure if it was shock or what was going on. But he had no emotion to him. He was just -- then I asked, are you sad? You know, can I help you? And he said I'm sad because nobody showed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: He was upset nobody showed up to his mother's funeral. Drew Griffin's reporting that just four people were there. And some were asking was that some straw that broke the camel's back. But we also know local law enforcement responded to this person's home 39 times. At what point does law enforcement intervene? When is the time for them to intervene?
[19:25:59]CEDRIC ALEXANDER, DEPUTY MAYOR, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: Well, let's back up a little bit. I think one thing that is important to point out, Ana, when we look at this 19-year-old young man, is that he certainly without question had a culmination of severe events happened in his life. Probably loss of parents we know at this point. Loss of connectedness. That emotionless that you hear about is someone who has just became totally detached in many ways. And he probably suffered with some really for some long time homicidal and suicidal ideations. And you just got to a point for him probably not having the things that need to be in place or somewhat intervening when there was opportunities to intervene to help him through this. So what we end up with home and address police where they have been to 39 times over the period of seven years. And I'm quite sure they flag the residents in a some ways. I'm quite sure there were a number of officers who probably been to that residence a number of times. But there was never nothing from their visits to suggest anything else other than family trouble or something that didn't rise to the level of such as what we have today.
So this is sad on a whole lot of levels. Unfortunately, he did not receive the help he could have received very early on. And we may have permitted or had an opportunity to get in the way of 17 lives being lost here, which I'm still very sad and very angry about myself.
CABRERA: So am I. And as a parent myself it feels personal when you see children in particular affected.
ALEXANDER: Well, it is personal. And now if we listen to these children, these young kids in this school, they are young adults and they are becoming young adults. And in a few years they are going to finish high school. They are going to finish college. They are going to go into the workforce. They are going to be voting citizens. They are going to carry this trauma with them for a long time.
They are going to be the ones going forward in the future who are going to determine who the next politicians that's going to set in those seats in Washington and in the home state local communities because what they are saying is enough is enough. These are coming from young people. And over the last couple of days we have watched them on television articulate their thoughts and feelings. And we can see how bright they are. How smart they are. How thoughtful they are and how they are committed they are in terms of helping to make a change in this nation when it comes to gun violence.
CABRERA: Yes. I want to ask you about lessons learned. Because I spoke with Columbine principal Frank Angelis who was there when that shooting happened over 20 years ago and he talked about how there were, you know, protocol changes when it comes to respond to go active shooters for example. And so there is always a takeaway you hope when all of these tragedies happen. What will be the lessons learn from this one, do you think?
ALEXANDER: Well, hopefully, the lesson we learn here is one, we probably should have learned many other times before, is that when someone is identifiable to us and may have a severe issue, a severe mental health issue, and making threats as such, we no longer can take any of these threats for granted. And I said the other night, you can go up on any Web site and you see all kind of foolishness of people holding gun or masquerading weapons or making crazy statements. And what I implore to the American public is that we can no longer joke around that way. And we also have to ask social media to create some new restraints as well as what's going to be posted online because police cannot go beyond 300 million websites in this country and keep up with them all.
CABRERA: Correct. Could it help if social media flagged them accounts?
ALEXANDER: Absolutely, if they flag them. But I think they also going to have to come up with new parameters in terms of what they are going to allow because you are not going to ever have enough police or social service to follow behind what's even up there now.
This is a very sad case. But the young people are being very aggressive. They are being very verbal. And they are making it clear to all of us in this nation not again. Enough is enough.
[19:30:09] CABRERA: No doubt about it. Cedric Alexander, thank you so much. ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.
CABRERA: Good to see you, sir.
ALEXANDER: Good to see you.
CABRERA: We want you to remember the names and faces of the people whose lives were ended in this tragic shooting. Here are some of the 17 who perished.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
[19:35:14] CABRERA: If there is one thing that is abundantly clear about this latest school shooting, it is this, the students of Marjory Douglas Stoneman high school may still be grieving but they are angry as well.
CNN's Victor Blackwell sat down with some of those students. They are putting politicians on notice.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: You said that the governor and senator Rubio murdered 17 people. Why?
CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: It's Rick Scott and Marco Rubio who allowed this to happen. They are enablers and the blood of 17 people and all those injuries and all the families that have been hurt, this is all on them. They have us thinking this is inevitable and that we can't do anything to stop it. It's too difficult. We are done with that. The GOP has abandoned us and left us to people like Nikolas Cruz.
BLACKWELL: And this is for any of you to respond to. This is what speaker Ryan said.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We need to think less of taking sides and fighting each other politically and pulling together.
ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: I disagree with that statement. Because it's very clear that there are two sides to this and there are certain people that accept money from the NRA and I believe speaker Ryan is one of those people. It doesn't seem like the country is coming together. It seems like they are sending their prayers and condolences but they are not taking action like they need to be.
BLACKWELL: Now, those we will disagree with the framing of what you just said and what are hearing from others is that the NRA didn't purchase the gun. The NRA didn't pull the trigger. The NRA didn't conspire to kill.
SAWYER GARRITY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: They might have pulled the trigger, but they are who allowed him to buy the gun. Someone who isn't even allowed to buy alcohol legally is allowed to buy a war weapon like where does that make sense.
BLACKWELL: Does this make you uncomfortable what you are hearing from people who want to limit access to weapons?
ALFONSO CALDERON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: I just don't feel it's realistic to expect people to just deny right they have been given by the second amendment. And throughout the entire history of this country. I just feel like if we take small steps now that are plausible, maybe later we can actually take larger steps that will stop things from ever happening again. I think mental health is something that everybody can get on.
KASKY: If Nikolas Cruz spoke to one official, someone who knows mental health for five minutes before he bought that gun, they would have instantly said not only is this person not able to wield this gun responsibly, this American belongs in counseling.
Mental health hasn't brought Washington together before. What's your degree of confidence that anything will happen?
SOFIE WHITNEY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SENIOR: I have never seen this kind of reaction to something like this.
GARRITY: I don't have a degree of confidence at all. Stories like these, like you hear about them on the news, and a week later we are onto something else.
KASKY: Every time this happens, it's flowers, it's love. But right now there is this air of change. Parkland, I feel it, everybody is inspired. Everybody is ready to make Parkland the last city that has to deal with it.
CABRERA: Seventeen people lost their lives in the high school shooting. We honor their memory tonight.
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[19:42:56] CABRERA: The White House denying fresh claims of an affair early in the President's marriage to first lady Melania Trump. A reporter in the "New Yorker" claims Donald Trump was intimate with former playmate model, Karen McDougal back in 2006. The former playmate claims in a letter, Trump had had an elaborate system for covering up in discretions.
CNN's Tom Foreman is here to explain.
Tom, tell us more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this has been a rough week at the White House for the first lady. Full of new allegations of affairs involving her husband, a secret payoff and details about how he supposedly kept it all hidden from her. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
FOREMAN (voice-over): Heading to Florida, the President walked alone to Marine One. His wife Melania traveling separately amid humiliating headlines, including word that the billionaire businessman's lawyer paid off an adult film star following alleged a fair and new claim about another extramarital merger.
That story dates to 2006 when "the Apprentice" was shooting and having a party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. The married star of the show, Donald Trump, was there. And according to the "New Yorker" so was former playmate of the year, Karen McDougal. The magazine said it was the start of nine-month whirlwind of motel room, fancy trips, a visit to Trump tower where he pointed out his wife's bedroom. Even high profile events like the launch of Trump vodka and the Miss Universe Pageant.
McDougal told the magazine she paid for everything and was reimbursed to prevent a paper trail leading to Trump. The White House says this is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal. So how did the "New Yorker" come up with the sordid tale? A friend of McDougal supposedly gave the magazine eight handwritten pages.
RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORKER: She wrote a detailed chronicle of this a fair in the course of selling this story.
FOREMAN: The story did sell to the company that owns the "National Enquirer" for $150,000 days before the election according to "the Wall Street Journal" and the "New Yorker."
So why didn't you read it? Because the Enquirer which is run by a friend of Trump's did not publish McDougal's story by paying for it, legally blocked anyone else, including her, from coming out with details. The Enquirer has made no comment on that part of the story.
FOREMAN: We reached out to Karen McDougal for more and we had no response yet. Although the story contain many other (INAUDIBLE) allegations against Trump of other affairs, sexually aggressive behavior, disrespectful comments, including a racist comment.
So is all of this getting to the first lady? We don't know. All she appears to be keeping some distance from the President, she is also keeping quiet -- Ana.
CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you.
So black panthers breaking records on its opening weekend, but it is more than a movie, it is a long a waited cultural event. Up next, I'm speaking to actor Bambadjan Bamba who is in this film but why it's having such a massive impact.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:50:29] CABRERA: Welcome back. "Black Panther" is poised to break records in its opening weekend. But it already breaking new ground in Hollywood featuring a black super hero and mostly black cast and held by black director. This film explore scenes long and represented in Hollywood. The movie has been praised for lifting up a proud and prosperous image of the African continent. And actor, Bambadjan Bamba, is in this film and joins me now.
Bambadjan, so good to see you tonight. How does it feel to be part of something so big right now?
BAMBADJAN BAMBA, ACTOR, DACA RECIPIENT: Good to see you, too, Ana. It feels amazing. I mean, it is a huge celebration. And just to see how everyone is in love with the movie. Everyone is coming out with their African garb, African outfits.
BAMBA: I had to, man. It is a huge, huge celebration. I really didn't expect it to be this huge.
CABRERA: What is your message to the fans?
BAMBA: Look, my message to the fans is if you like superhero movies you are going to love this film. If you love action films, you are going to love this film. I have seen it a couple of times with different audiences and everybody loves the film because it is ultimately a great story.
And then also, you know, it highlights Africa in such a great, positive light of what could really be possible. The most exciting part for me were the women of this film. And it just reminds me of our African mothers who really are the backbone of our society. And they really kick butt. Can I say ass on CNN? Sorry.
CABRERA: Sure. You just did.
BAMBA: I did. My fault. My fault.
CABRERA: I know you are so passionate about this, about your work, about your culture. I mean, some people are calling this film a real culture breakthrough. Is that how you see it?
BAMBA: Yes. Well, I think it is kind of a breakthrough the same way that "Star Wars" was a breakthrough, right? We have had like "Blade" before. But I think at the time that "Blade" came out, superhero, Marvel films or superhero characters didn't have the light and interest that they have today. So that's what I would say.
I mean, I don't think it compares to Obama being elected, right, because at the end of the day it is a film. But what I'm hoping is that it will show that black leads can carry a movie, and it can play globally and can be bankable. So hopefully we can get more movies like that. CABRERA: So I haven't seen the film yet. Just head out. I can't
wait to see it. But a lot of people will be like, OK, now I have to look for Bambadjan in this movie. What character do you play?
BAMBA: Well, look, I'm the militant leader. And my part comes fairly in the beginning. I kind of open the film up in a way. So get there early. My black people, please, this is not the time to be late. You got to show up on time and get ready and you're going to be blown away.
CABRERA: Go ahead.
BAMBA: No. I was going to say there is one more thing. It is also kind of bittersweet because, as you know, I have been here as a DACA recipient and as the Dreamer. And to be a part of such a great movie and live this American dream and still have my life and limbo and the life of millions of other dreamers especially right now where so many bills already bailed in Congress. It is kind of bittersweet. But I'm not letting anybody steal my joy. The devil will not steal my joy today.
CABRERA: Good for you, my brother.
I did want to ask you about that, specifically, about DACA, because it is -- just the timing is somewhat coincidental, the fact this movie is being released at the same time we just saw the debate in the Senate come to a grinding halt and now it's sort of been shelved. Are you confident there will be a permanent fix.
BAMBA: Honestly, I don't know. None of us really know. We just watch the news every day and hope. But like I have been saying for the last couple of months, we are going to keep fighting. We are going to use this democracy. We will be in front of Congress. We are going to be in their hallways and their offices. They are going to see us. They are going to hear our stories. We are going to humanize it.
And ultimately, I believe that like Ted Kennedy said America has a choice to make, right? Looking forwards towards the future or looking back in fear of the past. And I really believe that America will look forward and we will find a permanent solution and we will ultimately accomplish that more perfect union as we have done in the past. So that's my hope and my inspiration.
CABRERA: Bambadjan Bamba -- well, good luck. Thank you so much.
BAMBA: Thank you for having me.
CABRERA: We will be in touch. We will be right back.
[19:59:43] CABRERA: Some good news just in to CNN. The last critical patient from the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School has improved and is now listed in fair condition. Broward health says only three patients are still in the hospital, all in fair condition. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. Up next on CNN,
join CNN's Jean Casarez for a new exclusive investigation.
CNN Special Report, "Broken Bones, Shattered Lives."
That's it for me. Good night.