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Stock Futures Down on News of Economic Advisor Revising; Another Nor'easter Hits East Coast; Porn Star Sues Trump Over Alleged Affair. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like conflict. I like different points of view.

[05:59:13] REP. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The idea that Gary Cohn is departing is just a reminder that his love of conflict has real consequences.

TRUMP: The White House has tremendous energy, has tremendous spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think chaos is too strong a word.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What is Scaramucci trash talked his current chief of staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The headline reads "Porn Star Sues President," and nobody seems to blink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People knew about this when they voted for Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will have to continue to respond to it in a court of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are announcing a state of emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the second time in a week, a powerful nor'easter threatening more than 50 million people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of snow. There's going to be a lot more.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Ominous music makes sense with this snow coming. A lot of people still in a bad way from the last storm. We'll keep you up to date with that all morning.

As we say, welcome to you, our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, March 7, 6 a.m. here in New York. And here's our starting line.

Take a look at the U.S. stock futures. They do not like chaos in the White House. Markets down sharply on news that President Trump's top economic adviser is resigning. His name is Gary Cohn, and he's just the latest in a series of high-profile departures, a bleeding of talent the likes of which we have never seen in a White House. Cohn clashing with the president over his decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

The question now is who's going to replace him? Could the president really be considering someone with domestic abuse allegations? Who that is, we'll tell you, and we'll give you the likelihood.

President Trump denying the obvious, the reports that there is chaos in the West Wing but admitting that he likes conflict. CNN has learned that the president has done nothing to stop some of the public attacks on his embattled chief of staff.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And porn star Stormy Daniels suing President Trump now over her alleged affair and the hush agreement. The suit claims that her nondisclosure agreement is void, because Donald Trump never signed it. The bigger question is, did this payment from Donald Trump's lawyer to the porn star break campaign laws?

And a storm of a different kind. Another powerful nor'easter slamming the U.S. East Coast today. More than 50 million people from Philadelphia to Maine are in the storm's path, with more than a foot of snow expected in some places.

So we have all of this news covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip. She is live at the White House. What's the latest there, Abby?


Chaos? What chaos? Here at the White House, Goldman Sachs -- the former Goldman Sachs head, Gary Cohn, is leaving. And he announced that decision after markets closed yesterday, and we can see why. Those Dow futures are down sharply on news of his departure. And the business community and his allies inside and outside the White House are now worried that economic nationalists could be on the rise.


PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, becoming the latest in a string of White House advisers to abandon ship after butting heads with the president over his decision to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. News of Cohn's departure coming just hours after the president insisted that there is no chaos in his administration.

TRUMP: I read where, "Oh, gee, maybe people don't want to work for Trump." And believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. They all want a piece of that Oval Office; they want a piece of the West Wing. I could take any position in the White House, and I'll have a choice of the ten top people having to do with that position.

PHILLIP: The president later reiterating this message on Twitter, noting that he'll be making a decision about Cohn's replacement soon.

Sources say the president is considering tapping trade adviser Peter Navarro, who unlike Cohn, is in favor of imposing tariffs. Trump also considering informal advisor Larry Kudlow, who's been a vocal critic of the tariffs and lamented Cohn's resignation.

LARRY KUDLOW, CNBC BUSINESS NEWS (via phone): I think it's a turn for the worse. I think he did a great job. I'm really sorry he's leaving.

PHILLIP: Less than a month ago, Cohn was being considered as a possible replacement for embattled chief of staff John Kelly after successfully ushering in the tax Bill. But sources say his feud with the president over taxes was the last straw.

Cohn considered resigning last year after the president equated neo- Nazis and those protesting them in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Very fine people on both sides.

PHILLIP: The revolving door at the West Wing may not stop there. Speculation continues about national security adviser H.R. McMaster and chief of staff John Kelly. CNN has learned President Trump has emboldened former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired after just 11 days on the job, to continue attacking Kelly publicly.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This fear, culture of fear, culture of intimidation, people are afraid to talk to each other.

CUOMO: Coming from the president? They're afraid of the president?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I think it's the chief of staff.

PHILLIP: When asked about the infighting at the White House, President Trump saying this Tuesday.

TRUMP: I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view. And I certainly have that. And then I make a decision.


PHILLIP: Well, while President Trump is mulling over his decision about who to replace Gary Cohn with, he's going to be speaking today at a Latino legislative leaders conference today. But also, interestingly enough, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is going to be headed to Mexico to talk tariffs with the Mexican president.

Now, the tariffs and the NAFTA issue is a big one for this White House. These talks are coming at a crucial time, as the world is waiting to see what President Trump will decide on who to carve out of his tariff decision -- Alisyn and Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Ab. Thank you very much.

Joining us now are CNN political analysts David Gregory and John Avlon.

Brother David, let's do a little "So what, now what?" This story about Cohn leaving, why does it matter? And what does it mean going forward?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm really disturbed by it. Because it is either a sign that the president is moving in a direction of economic nationalism, which is counter to the conservative principles of the Republican Party, and may be really upsetting to financial markets and to the path of economic growth in the country, that's in sync with economic growth around the world.

[06:05:20] Or it's just another example of an erratic White House that may be moving in a direction until it doesn't move in that direction anymore. And so the lack of predictability that we're seeing in the futures here is troubling.

It's not to pin everything on the markets. But we do have a president who pays such close attention to the movement of those markets that he reportedly felt vindicated by his decision on tariffs, because there was a rebound on Monday.


GREGORY: So he's going to try to ride the wave. I think this is -- this is troubling, to lose somebody and to have an economic adviser like Gary Cohn, who's been, you know, on the fence about this administration from the beginning, and this really pushed him over.

CAMEROTA: Well, there you have it. I mean, John, correct me if I'm wrong, Gary Cohn was never planning to be a lifer in the White House. I mean, wasn't he part of the crop that was the not ideologically aligned, can be (ph) --


CAMEROTA: -- with Donald Trump at the beginning, who said sort of, "I'll give it a year"? I mean, there was a crop -- there were a crop of people who was like, "I'm going to serve my country. I'm going to try this" --


CAMEROTA: "-- and I'm going to see how it goes." And wasn't he in that category?

AVLON: Yes. These are the people Bannon derisively referred to as the New York Democrats. But who, in the context of the Oval Office, the West Wing, were folks who were adults that were trying to contain the president's worst instincts. And the deepest divisions in this administration, in this White

Houses, are between the populists and the plutocrats. And that's maybe the most unkind way to say it. But some of those folks were really trying to have a continuity of American policy and stop the president from lurching to the right. All the populists, Peter Navarro, the economic nationalists, they seem to have won the day.

What was the firing offense seems to be -- and it's a "jump or was he pushed" issue -- is trying to relitigate the tariff issue by bringing people into the Oval. That apparently is done. Cohn has threatened to leave before. Now he's finally out.

GREGORY: To be fair, though, to the president, you know, there is a theory of the case that his advisers have, that he has about tariffs. It's deeply unpopular in the Republican Party, even among the Republican leadership, that has decided to wake up from its silence to fight like hell on this issue, unlike other issues. But they have a line in the sand on this that really, they fear, does jeopardize economic gains. And so, you know, they're going in this direction. It may be incredibly ill-advised, but I don't think this is necessarily a sign --

CUOMO: See, that's the problem.

AVLON: Why stop now?

CUOMO: That's the problem. It's true, you're right, David, that this has been something that the president has been banging on since he got into the race.


CUOMO: However, the means of trying to enact what he's trying to do, which is change the trade balance, change the dynamic, the tariffs is what's bothering them. Not that -- you know, all right. You want to redo these deals? We'll figure out how to redo these deals.


CUOMO: You want to find other ways to do it, we'll do it. Don't do it this way. Their criticism is that Trump doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't understand what the impact of the tariffs are. It just sounds good. Sounds like he's delivering on a promise, and they're going to have to deal with the implications. That's what made Gary Cohn leave.


CUOMO: A guy who may have said he only wanted to be in there for a year at some point in the past. But he had been growing in power.

GREGORY: And by the way, I think the most important thing we can talk about about this White House this morning is the question of core competence. Do they know what they are doing? That is what is raised by, you know, chaos in the White House, is about core competence. That's what people should be worried about. CAMEROTA: According to Brookings, there's now a turnover rate of 43 percent in this White House.


CAMEROTA: The closest one before that was Ronald Reagan at 17 percent.

CUOMO: Not the kind of winning he wanted to do, winning that record.

CAMEROTA: No. And you know, look, here's the -- here's the list. I mean --

AVLON: That is remarkable.

CAMEROTA: -- generally people -- you know, when the president says, "Everybody wants to work in the White House. I have my pick of the litter." People do want to work in the White House, for sure. But everybody knows that it is an occupational hazard going to work in this White House.

AVLON: Four "X" Obama. I mean, look, it is a demanding job. There is turnover. The typical White House tenure is just over two years. But this is stunning.

And the president yesterday saying, "I love chaos. I got the pick of the litter," as you said, at some point, they're going to be, like, begging people to come on board. They're going to be looking at White House tours. I mean, there are some people who just want the bone fides of having worked to say they have worked in the White House.

But the president is not setting an environment -- by saying, "Look, I love conflict. I love watching conflict," that's not a good environment to work in, let alone to have a steady hand governing the country.

CUOMO: And it's not true that they have people falling over themselves --


CUOMO: -- to get into the White House. They're having trouble finding people that are of high quality as somebody like Gary Cohn.

And you know, look, the reality is he's running it like the reality show.


CUOMO: This worked for Trump on television: "We'll have this whole table kind of go at it. You didn't make the cut. You're fired." That whole thing. That doesn't work when you actually need sustainable competence over time and people who can manage situations that last months and years.

It is also very difficult -- President Obama said it was difficult to move the ship of state because it moves very slowly. And I think a lot of chief executives, excuse me, in the business world come into government or say they're going to come into government and run it in a certain way, only to be stymied. Now, that doesn't speak well of government.

[06:10:15] But this "you know, I like to have conflict around me and people with different points of view," I mean, I think he's -- you know, there's truth to that. And I think he probably thinks that's true in some areas and maybe where he has some background that could be helpful.

What I worry about, it's not that he has to know everything. But the caliber of the people around him is what's starting to suffer. You look at the foreign policy establishment, the national security establishment. If he does push out an H.R. McMaster, somebody with that kind of experience, then you really have to do -- because look at the judgment that he was going to have Michael Flynn be his national security advisor for a start. That's the problem. And now in the economic realm to lose somebody of the caliber of Gary Cohn, people should be worried.

AVLON: And if, you know, yesterday also, the president met with John Bolton, who's been basically, you know, auditioning for the job of national security advisor through appearances on cable TV for months. That's not a sign of a stable White House, that level of intrigue. This isn't simply FDR, some presidents in the past have liked to set advisors against each other. This is something a lot more endemic to the culture here, and it's not consistent with responsible government.


CAMEROTA: In terms of conflict, we have one more data point. And that is that, apparently, Anthony Scaramucci, according to our reporting, has been not dissuaded from having a public spat with General John Kelly.

So Scaramucci was on our air, and he said, you know, the morale is terrible. And the reason is because General Kelly has -- operates this culture of fear and intimidation. And that the word is, according to our reporting, that the president doesn't mind that, this public spat between his chief of staff and his ousted director of communications.

GREGORY: Right. I'm not one who pulls in a lot of stock in Scaramucci as a public figure who opines about White House matters, somebody who spent about four minutes in the White House and who is just kind of slash-and-burn guy. I don't think he's a very serious person in this regard.

However, it is also painfully clear that this president, whether he leaks himself, has other people leak, or has allies on the outside, has no problem trashing anyone and everyone around him. Because that's how he thinks it's a good idea to lead.

AVLON: Yes. Tone comes from the top.

CAMEROTA: OK. Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

Now we need to get to this breaking news. There's another nor'easter is slamming the East Coast for a second time in a week. More than 50 million people are under a winter storm warning or a watch.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is live in Lower Manhattan with more. What's it look like, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it has now changed to snow. Very light snow. But all morning, Alisyn, it was raining. That means it's getting colder, and that storm is spinning up. And the snow is going to begin here in New York City rather quickly; and piling up just outside the city could be 14 to 2- inches deep if you get into parts of Pennsylvania, the Poconos and the northeast.

This weather is brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, packed with goodness. And an extra cup of coffee might be on hand today.

Here's the storm. This is what the radar looks like. It's not that impressive yet. It's just getting going. This storm at 1 p.m. this afternoon will be making thundersnow in places. Two inches of snow per hour, upstate New York, parts of New Jersey, all of New England. Unless you're out along the I-95, where it's going to be snowing heavily, but 34 degrees.

So this is that 7-1 kind of snow, not 10-1. Which means one inch of liquid equivalent is only going to make seven inches of snow not ten inches of snow here, because it is so close to that 32-degree mark.

But there will be snow all day long. It will be piling up in some spots, especially upstate, maybe just a few miles west of here. We'll have a lot of snow on the ground.

And we are in the traveling vehicle today, Chris. We are getting in the car, and we're going to show you the snow.

CUOMO: You're going to be getting in the car, and you're going to be going nowhere fast. Because this city locks down with that kind of weather.

Is that new CNN gear you've got on there, by the way, that coat?

CAMEROTA: And how do we get it?

MYERS: This is official.

CUOMO: You don't do enough of that hazard duty to get that kind of stuff.

CAMEROTA: Sometimes I go outside in the cold.

CUOMO: Outside the building. But that, you have to be in plus 100 miles per hour to get that kind of stuff.

I like that hat. That's fetching. CAMEROTA: I actually have that already.

CUOMO: Really? I think that's new gear. I do.

CAMEROTA: It's his hood.

CUOMO: Yes, but I think it's new. I think it's new. All right, we're getting all that.

CAMEROTA: You can borrow mine.

CUOMO: More porn star problems. Stormy Daniels filing a lawsuit against President Trump, and she's making an explosive claim about the hush money she was paid. Details next.


[06:18:50] CUOMO: All right. The porn star is back. Stormy Daniels now suing President Trump. For the first time in public court documents, she says that candidate Trump knew all about the hush money she was paid over their alleged affair in an attempt to silence her.

CNN's Sara Sidner live in Los Angeles with more. What is the basis for the suit?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Chris, we no longer have to wonder what Stormy Daniels, the adult film star and director, has to say about the alleged affair with Donald Trump. Nor do we have to wonder about what she has to say about that nondisclosure agreement that was signed just before the presidential election, because it is all spelled out in this new lawsuit against President Trump.


SIDNER (voice-over): Porn star Stormy Daniels suing President Trump, seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement she signed just days before the 2016 election, preventing her from talking about their alleged sexual encounter.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC'S "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": You can't say whether you have a nondisclosure agreement. But if you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, you most certainly could say, "I don't have a nondisclosure agreement," yes?


KIMMEL: Thank you very much.

SIDNER: The lawsuit argues the agreement is null and void, because it was not signed by Mr. Trump, referred to in the document by the pseudonym "David Denison."

[06:20:06] Daniels's lawyer says Mr. Trump "purposely did not sign the agreement so he could later, if need be, publicly disavow any knowledge of the contract and Daniels." According to the complaint, Daniels had an intimate relationship with

Mr. Trump that began in the summer of 2006 and continued "well into 2007." The adult film star and director, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, considered sharing her story in 2016 after the "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced.

TRUMP: I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.


TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

SIDNER: The complaint alleges Trump's long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, intervened, paying Daniels $130,000. Daniels says Mr. Trump knew about the payment, which she calls hush money.

Last week, Cohen admitted to paying Daniels but insisted that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, "and neither reimbursed me for the payment either directly or indirectly."

The lawsuit says Cohen has continued to "intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and 'shut her up' in order to protect Mr. Trump," even as recently as February 27, when Cohen filed a bogus arbitration against Daniels without giving her notice of the proceeding and basic due process.

In the lawsuit Daniels also alleges Cohen coerced her into signing this statement in January, which states that reports of her relationship with Mr. Trump were false.


SIDNER: Now, there are lots of details, of course, in this lawsuit, one of which is pretty stark and pretty telling. It says that, if she or he breaks the agreement, that there is a $1 million penalty for each breach of the agreement. That would explain a lot as to why neither person would be talking. But now it's all laid out in that lawsuit.

And what's important here, I think we need to mention, Chris and Alisyn, is that, if what is in the lawsuit, if the allegations are true, this is definitely a violation of the federal election laws -- Chris, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. We're going to get to all of that. Sara, thank you very much.

Joining us now are CNN political analysts David Gregory and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.

OK. So let's just -- before we get to the big question of campaign laws, I'm confused about the timing of this. She knew -- Stormy Daniels knew back in November or October of 2016 before the election that Donald Trump hadn't signed this agreement.

So Laura, why now would she be bringing this lawsuit? Is it a red herring, do you think? That she's saying, "Guess what? He didn't sign this nondisclosure agreement, so it's null and void"?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is a red herring. I think what she's trying to do is capitalize on the opportunity and perhaps the limelight here.

Because frankly, it may sound odd to people. But it's not the absolute definitive requirement that every single contract be signed by both parties before a court will enforce it. You can have kind of an implied agreement if the parties have an offer and acceptance. And then you have consideration for it. This could all translate to "I'm going to give you an offer of $130,000 not to speak. You accept that offer about that. And then you actually cash the check, and we both go about on our days as if we are abiding by an existing, valid contract."

And to say now that it's null and void, they're confusing two different concepts, Alisyn. There is the void, which means that outright, it never was a good contract, no one ever should have followed it, or it's voidable based on the conduct of the parties. I think what she's getting at is Michael Cohen's statements about the nondisclosure agreement's existence is what made it now voidable, and now she can arbitration. And she can now speak freely and probably claim the million dollars or more for each disclosure.

CUOMO: Well, she also got an end-run around the agreement by filing the pleadings. By filing the pleadings, she was able to put her theory of the case in there, which is "Because I had this affair, this and this happened." So once again, David, she spilled the beans and got around the NDA, because all you have to do is look at this public document and you will see that she's saying this happened between the two of them.


CUOMO: So it's kind of over right there. Isn't it?

GREGORY: Right. And she clearly likes the publicity. She's going on late-night talk shows, despite having a nondisclosure agreement, before she claimed that there wasn't one.

Look, I think what's striking about this is that this is kind of the least troubling and salacious detail to be facing the White House amidst all of these problems. And we're in a different age, where this is not an issue that's going to affect President Trump and his -- his political standing.

CAMEROTA: Isn't that incredible?


CAMEROTA: And we all remember Bill Clinton.


CAMEROTA: And now an affair?

GREGORY: But that's a long -- it's a long time ago.

CUOMO: But I'll tell you what, there are people around the president who aren't happy about this, and not for the reasons that the rest of us don't want to be talking about this.

[06:25:01] CAMEROTA: Like the first lady?

CUOMO: Look, they started with Whitewater and real-estate transactions.


CUOMO: They wound up finding out that the president was messing around. Laura -- I mean, we all remember the story -- with women, plural. Then when asked about it, he lied. And that's the concern, Laura Coates.

Yes, we can dismiss this as relevant this is, versus all the tariff and everything else that's going on. People pretty much, even when you look at the poll numbers, have pretty set opinions about what the president did and did not do and whether they care or not.

But if asked under oath or by an FBI agent or by Mueller's investigators, "Did you know about this deal? Did you have an affair?" and he lies, and they're able to prove it, now we have a very different situation. That's not just tabloid fodder.

COATES: Absolutely. It's not just a hypothetical perjury or a hypothetical lie that's being told.

And you can actually go even more recently than that, Chris. You can look at one John Edwards, who was asked about the idea of getting a type of payment in terms of in-kind campaign contribution for an alleged affair. A coverup was alleged in that case. Now of course, that ended up in a hung jury.

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: But the precedent has been set that there is precedent to go after people, not just for lying about a coverup, in terms of your pillow talk with your wife. But also now having a lie about what you fail to disclose to investigators and also the Federal Election Commission.

And so he also has that looming in the wind. And it's not one to sneeze at or thumb your nose at. Not just about whether or not this is a morality issue here. It can now be one tied to campaign finance.

GREGORY: And here's the -- there's a couple of problems for the White House, specifically for the president, that this keeps coming out.

No. 1 -- and it all circles around the conduct of his lawyer. As I've talked to lawyers about this, a couple of questions have come up. If there's a material change in a case, the notion that you don't inform the client or get the client's consent is ridiculous, which is what Cohen claims here.

No. 2, the whole rationale is, "Even though this was untrue, we thought that these unfounded allegations could be damaging to Mr. Trump." Oh, so this one was the one that was so damaging? What about all the other ones? He just focused on this one?

CUOMO: On the heels of the "Access Hollywood" tape.


CUOMO: That's why Cohen says he tried to squash it.

GREGORY: But there's more than a dozen accusers. But this is the one that they said, "No, no, no. This one I have to pay off without the president's knowledge. I'll do it out of my own pocket."

CUOMO: Well, they have pictures together. Definitely had an association. He did try to help and advance her career.

GREGORY: But the notion that somehow that Mr. Denison, also known as President Trump...

CUOMO: That's a little detail that we haven't really seized on.

GREGORY: Right. Didn't know about any of this. That's what strains credulity. And I think again, this -- more details about this are bad for his lawyer and bad for him.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but the upshot, Laura, very quickly, is that how does this not violate campaign laws? He was -- Michael Cohen was trying to pay Stormy Daniels to avoid this ruining Donald Trump's chances at the White House. I mean, is that not an open and shut case?

COATES: Simply put, it does violate campaign finance laws, everything you said. Remember, it's a $2,700 limit. And you still have to disclose to the SEC.

The upshot for Donald Trump and others is that, No. 1, this is not even a full SEC. It's usually six people. It's now, I think, about four people at last count. It has to be everyone in agreement to even bring the case against it.

And the precedent I just discussed about John Edwards. It was found that, at least in one occasion, it was not a campaign contribution --

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: -- that was worthy of reporting.

CUOMO: So it's not.

COATES: And you know, Alisyn, who was the person on the SEC who said that? Don McGahn. He's now in the office of the White House counsel. So there is an upshot for the president even in otherwise clear-cut case.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: What Cohen says is, "I did it as a personal favor. I didn't do it as a contribution. You're going to have to prove a link." It's not as easy.


CUOMO: It's not that easy.

CAMEROTA: Laura, thank you.

David, thank you.


CAMEROTA: All right. So Democratic voters turning out in droves in the nation's first primary in Texas. Is this a harbinger of things to come in the mid-term elections? We'll give you all the details, next.