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Trump Accepts Offer to Meet Kim Jong-un; Stormy Daniels Attorney on Allegations Against Trump. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 9, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All this as we learn that the arraignment date for the Parkland school shooter has been set for March 14th, the one-month anniversary of the massacre -- Chris, Alisyn.
[07:00:08] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Athena. Thank you very much for all of the updates on Parkland. And it will be very interesting to see what other states do and learn from the Parkland experience before it can happen.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And if the federal government actually takes this question on in a real way. It hasn't happened yet. And let's be honest, they're banking on it going away.
CAMEROTA: We have Senator Richard Blumenthal coming on to talk about just that.
So thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
SEN. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: The United States has exactly zero good military options against North Korea. So any diplomacy and dialogue is good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pledge that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look what he can tell his own people, that he's sitting at the same table face-to-face with the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A meeting could actually be successful.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That's a decision the president chose by himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be a positive development. I'm still pretty skeptical about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don't believe anybody wins a trade war.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The workers were betrayed. But that betrayal is now over. REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You have a lot of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What good is it to be president if you can't do the thing you've been complaining about for 30 years?
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Big news day.
After months of rhetoric and threats, President Trump agreeing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, setting up what could be the summit of the century. This would be the first time a sitting U.S. president meets with the leader of that isolated regime.
CUOMO: While the South Koreans are certainly applauding the diplomatic breakthroughs, seeing how they helped broker it, the president's tariffs proposal is prompting pushback and a request from them for an exemption.
The president following through on that controversial campaign promise imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, and these imports will have potential bad effects. And that's why there is so much strong opposition from Republican leaders and calls that the president didn't meet the legal standard of showing that this is a matter of national security. Will lawmakers do anything about that? We'll see.
The White House is also dealing with the Stormy Daniels scandal. There's growing concern inside the White House about fallout from it and how it's being handled. We will be speaking with Ms. Daniel's lawyer in just a few minutes.
We have it all covered, so let's go first to CNN's Will Ripley live in Seoul, South Korea. Big place to be this morning.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Chris. And here in Seoul, obviously, they are elated about this. They did help broker this deal. South Korea wants engagement with the North.
China dodged our questions overnight about whether they would possibly host this presidential summit with Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. In the U.S., we know there is cautious optimism.
One country we haven't heard from yet, North Korea. They have not yet announced to their own people that this offer was made and accepted by President Trump. It will be interesting to see what they say, given that they've been telling their citizens for the duration of the Trump administration that they should hate Donald Trump.
Now their leader is going to be sitting down with him, potentially, face-to-face .
CHUNG EUI-YONG, SOUTH KOREA NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.
RIPLEY (voice-over): President Trump agreeing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un within the next two months, setting the stage for an unprecedented encounter between the leaders of two countries who just last year were exchanging threats of nuclear annihilation.
TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
RIPLEY: North Korea responding by calling President Trump a dotard, old and senile, threatening the U.S. territory of Guam and conducting repeated nuclear and missile tests.
But now, an apparent break-through.
CHUNG: Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he's committed to denuclearization. He pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.
RIPLEY: In addition to suspending their weapons testing, the South Korean representative says Kim Jong-un also accepts the upcoming joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. President Trump expressing optimism about the possibility of denuclearization but stressing economic sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached.
South Korea's president calling the meeting almost miraculous. But others expressing skepticism, noting North Korea has made these types of promises repeatedly, accused by the U.S. of cheating on previous deals.
Victor Cha, recently dropped from consideration as U.S. ambassador to South Korea, reportedly for opposing a preemptive military option against the regime, warns "While the summit provides unique opportunities, its failure could also push the two countries to the brink of war."
[07:05:09] The surprise announcement coming after Mr. Trump unexpectedly popped into the White House briefing room to tease the news, catching both White House and Pentagon staffers off-guard. Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, sent on a trip to Africa, said this about the prospect of talks.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're a long ways from negotiations. I just think it's -- we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it.
RIPLEY: The South Korean delegation delivering North Korea's request to the White House after meeting with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang earlier this week. South Korean officials say Kim expressed interest in meeting with
President Trump during a more than four-hour dinner meeting, where he treated officials to multiple bottles of local alcohol and even cracked jokes about early-morning missile launches and his image outside North Korea.
RIPLEY: The information we learned here today in Seoul about that dinner really extraordinary. The South Koreans who were there painted the picture of Kim Jong-un as relaxed, confident, smiling, joking about everything from the fact that President Moon can now sleep in a bit later, because he won't be launching missiles in the early morning hours, to joking about the luxury hotel accommodations that they got in Pyongyang.
Clearly Kim Jong-un, at least by all indications on the surface, appears calm. He feels that he's in the driver's seat. My sources told me earlier this week that he wants to send a message that he's the sheriff in town. He's calling the shots. He's getting what he wants. And by extending this surprise invitation to President Trump, it was almost like the political equivalent of throwing a Hail Mary and President Trump, Chris and Alisyn, could not resist catching that ball and running with it. We'll just see where this all goes.
CAMEROTA: Such a fascinating development, Will. Thank you. It's great to have you on the ground there for us.
So here to make sense of what's going on inside the White House in just the past 24 hours is CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman.
So, Maggie, this wasn't supposed to be announced yesterday. This was not planned.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No.
CAMEROTA: This was spontaneous.
HABERMAN: This was spontaneous.
CAMEROTA: What happened? How did this happen?
HABERMAN: So the delegation from South Korea had come to brief U.S. officials. They were on White House grounds. They were not supposed to meet with the president until today. He heard that they were around. He summoned them to the Oval Office. They came to the Oval Office, briefed him on what had taken place. He said, yes, essentially on the spot. And it still required for the delegation from South Korea to reach out to their folks back in Seoul and, you know, make sure this all was OK and that everyone was on board.
And the president said, "And I want you to announce it in the next couple of hours." The president contented himself with this little reveal with sticking his head into the briefing room and saying there was going to be an announcement. CAMEROTA: Surprising reporters who were in the press briefing room
thinking that tariffs were going to be the only big announcement of the day.
HABERMAN: Correct. And then it was announced at 7 p.m., very brief announcement made, you know, right by the West Wing Portico in the dark, entrance to the West Wing lobby. And that was it. And there are a ton of lingering questions.
Look, if this -- if this works, it is huge credit to the president. And as we know, he said to John Krell of ABC yesterday, who stopped him when he stuck his head in the briefing room, you know, "I hope you'll give me credit." We know that that is what the president really wants here.
If this is a substantive meeting, if it leads to serious change, if it leads to, as he claimed, denuclearization, then he should get credit. But there are a ton of questions about what comes next, what he is even negotiating for. The diplomatic community --
HABERMAN: -- is not just surprised but really alarmed and suggest that he might get played.
CUOMO: I mean, look, I think we're seeing an example of what has become a culture. Right? Which is this could very well be a positive step. We haven't seen it happen before. There is obviously a need for diplomatic channels. What we've been hearing about preemptive strike is scary to everybody. Every military expert says it would be zero sum at best.
However, how he does it gets in the way of his own success. We see that every day. The economy does have good metrics. But the way he either doesn't tell the truth about what's going on or attributes it to it, he causes his own problems. It's something that maybe someone should take note of at some point inside that White House.
HABERMAN: I think they do take note of it. I just think that they're not able to sell that cycle. To your point, he creates chaos and then he reacts to the chaos.
CUOMO: This would have been a bigger deal if Tillerson didn't say the exact opposite.
CAMEROTA: Called Mike Pence a couple of days ago. Essentially everybody else in this administration has been going -- rowing in a different direction than what the president did. There is, to your point, a legitimate argument that everything else that has been tried has not worked. That there is certainly a need to do something different.
I think you have seen this president. I've had people in the White House who will say to me pretty frequently, you know, there's the "sky is falling" crowd. And the sky has not fallen. And to be fair, the sky was going to fall when Gary Cohn left. Really not a substantial market dip at the end of the day.
We will wait and see what happens with tariffs. You are hearing a lot of alarms run on that.
And on this one, there is also a "sky is falling" thing. But to your point, he has been of the people ratcheting up the noise with North Korea. It's not as if he has been taking the step back approach, and it's just happening out there. He's been very engaged as a verbal combatant with this fellow idiosyncratic leader. And that is what alarms people.
[07:10:22] CAMEROTA: But I mean, today, before we get down the road of what could happen and what couldn't happen, this is a momentous occasion. He will be the first U.S. president to sit down with the North Korean leader. And we just heard James Clapper say this is a great opportunity. What happens next? It's a great opportunity to shift the dynamic. And it is trademark Trump.
HABERMAN: Right. The question is what he goes in -- and I don't disagree with any of that. That is absolutely true. And that is, as I said before, the credit that he is seeking, at least in part, is for even doing the overture. And he can get it.
I mean, again, to Chris's point, there is a way to do it. And it doesn't have to be sort of riding solo while the rest of your government, which has been working in a different direction, or at least in a sort of lower key direction, is caught utterly by surprise. But it is an opportunity.
The question becomes, because he is so prone to kind of popping off or doing his own thing, what happens at this meeting? What does he get in exchange? What are the concessions?
Already, you are seeing a difference in the language between what he tweeted about what supposedly has been agreed to as a possibility with this meeting and what North Korea believes it agreed to. And I think that you're going to see, potentially, more splits. The more splits you see, the less productive the meeting.
CUOMO: See, that's the concern.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: Is that how you do it, you know, the method to the move matters in politics.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: And yes, you're right, this could be a good opportunity depending on what you make of it, which is planning, which is strategy, which is time, which is layers.
CUOMO: And they don't have any of that. HABERMAN: No. Surprise work for the initial moment to be clear. And
sometimes when he does that, it really does work to his advantage. Sometimes when any elected official does that, it works to their advantage. And so at least in getting to this point, that works.
But it is, then, what follows is going to be vitally important. And they have less margin for error now that he has sort of shown his cards up front.
CAMEROTA: But we have drawn up, just as a quick little list, some of the president's successes that do end up being eclipsed by the scandal. So North Korea is in decline. Economic sanctions, regardless of what happens at this meeting, OK, the economic sanctions appear to be working. They're in decline. And they have become open to this overture. OK?
ISIS caliphate, gone. Strongest relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia trying to modernize. Strong economy, obviously, at home. Lowest corporate tax rate that everybody said that they had always wanted. So he's done all these things. And then every week one of these things happened. There is a Stormy Daniels, where there is a Rob Porter, where there is a Jared Kushner and John Kelly spat. It's -- well, it's dizzying.
HABERMAN: Right. Look, I mean, the Stormy Daniels thing is a different order of magnitude. Rob Porter was sort of an internal issue that was created by a lack of a system in terms of security clearances. The Jared Kushner issue, that is also -- you know, that is within --
CAMEROTA: I'm just saying scandal sometimes competes with success.
HABERMAN: Agreed. And a lot of people took note on the timing on what he did with North Korea, given that the Stormy Daniels issue is now back in the news pretty frontally. Doesn't mean that's necessarily that he was trying to change the subject, but it is hard to ignore the timing.
CUOMO: Right. And also, look, even on that lists of things that we just said, sometimes it's something unrelated that gets in the way of the text.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: But sometimes it's something that's very related to it.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: He said he was going to help the middle class. He said he was going to have a middle-class tax. But he did it by lowering corporate tax rates. You're going to get criticized for that. Because we've never seen that wind up being a boost for the middle class. On Israel, yes, they do have really strong relationships. But it's a time when Bibi Netanyahu is under fire.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: And one of the things that they gave is real here, right or wrong, is a really controversial move, of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. So very often --
CAMEROTA: It is complicated. I agree. Nothing is black and white. Though sometimes I think that is his lens.
CUOMO: It becomes a problem for him.
HABERMAN: His lens is always black and white. And I think the problem is that he has trouble hearing the criticism and sort of factoring that in as part of the stock price and saying, "Well, I understand people will feel X, Y, Z."
He wants it to be portrayed in one direction. And again, that is why he tries to set the tone for this when he initially stuck his head in the briefing room and said, "I deserve credit." It was very sort of Dustin Hoffman at the end of "Wag the Dog." So yes.
CUOMO: Credit, there are only two things that I know for sure. "Wag the Dog," my favorite line. "One, there's no difference between good flan and bad flan. Two, there is no war. That's William H. Macy's line from that.
If you want credit, you handle things one way. If you want progress, you handle them another. That is a fair criticism of how they handle things in there. But they've never had a test like this, Maggie.
HABERMAN: No, this is a big --
CUOMO: You get taxes wrong, people are pissed off at you.
CUOMO: You get these other domestic policies wrong, people are going to be upset. But this has existential criteria attached to it.
HABERMAN: It does. But I think that their argument would be -- and I think it is a fair one -- and we have said this earlier -- they have tried everything else, and nothing has worked. It is true the sanctions -- and you know, the sanctions are working and have brought them to the table.
And I do think you have to see where this goes. But, again, the next step cannot be done on the fly.
[07:15:15] CUOMO: Right. That's the point.
That's basically the case.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, where does this leave Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who didn't know that this was going to be --
CUOMO: In Africa. Figuratively and literally.
HABERMAN: I was going to say. It's left him where he has been much of this administration, which is not necessarily in the room where it happens.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, always great to get your insights and reporting. Thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right. Under the category of scandal and what winds up distracting the White House, pretty much at the top of the list right now is Stormy Daniels. Now, her lawyer says the president's personal attorney tried to silence his client over an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. What is his case? What is the remedy he seeks? Next.
[07:20:04] CUOMO: All right. Stormy Daniels. Obviously, that's her entertainment name. The adult film star using President Trump -- suing, not using. Suing President Trump. She's set to tell her story with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes." That's going to happen, obviously, on Sunday. Daniels is trying to get out of a nondisclosure agreement that she signed preventing her from discussing what she alleges was an affair with the president. What's the case? What's the remedy?
Joining us now to discuss that is Stormy Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Thank you very much for taking the opportunity.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: Good morning.
CUOMO: So what's the case? You say Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer, silenced/tried to silence your client. How so and why is that wrong?
AVENATTI: Well, quite honestly, Chris, it's not just Michael Cohen, but it's also Donald Trump. That's our position. In the waning days of the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Trump, through the use of Mr. Cohen, his personal attorney, attempted to silence Ms. Daniels by having her enter into a nondisclosure agreement whereby Mr. Trump would pay Ms. Daniels, through Mr. Cohen, $130,000 to buy her silence to prevent her from coming forward and talking about the relationship that she had with Mr. Trump.
CUOMO: Quick question. First one on the intrigue side, the facts side. Do you know for a fact that it was Trump who was going to pay the money and that he was negotiating this deal through his attorney? Because as you know, that's not what Michael Cohen says. I know you weren't involved at that time.
Michael Cohen says it was always him and the person who was then counsel for Stormy Daniels and that he was doing this on behalf of Mr. Trump and that Trump was not involved, would not be involved. Is that your understanding?
AVENATTI: Well, that's my understanding as it relates to what Mr. Cohen has claimed. But Chris, it's laughable; it's absolutely laughable. And we're going to prove that Mr. Cohen is not telling the truth about this.
AVENATTI: How are we going to prove that?
AVENATTI: Because we're going to be able to obtain discovery and documents and testimony that's going to show, I am highly confident, that at all times Mr. Trump knew exactly what was going on.
I want to set the stage for a moment as to -- as to what happened here. According to Mr. Cohen, he was doing this all on his own. First of all, Mr. Cohen had ethical obligations, as a licensed attorney in New York, to keep his client informed at all times.
You're talking about the waning days of a presidential election, where everything mattered. Mr. Cohen wants the American people to believe that he ran off half-cocked, negotiated a very difficult agreement with a signature line for his client, arranged this payment, made this payment in waning days of the 2016 presidential election, and that all the time his client was in the dark and Mr. Trump knew nothing about it. It's laughable. It's absurd, and the mere suggestion is an insult to the American people.
CUOMO: All right. So then we get into what we call the law. The "even if" argument dilemma for you. Even if you're right about all of that. And it is what many will think it looks like on its face. It doesn't make your case about her being coerced into making this deal.
Cohen says, one, he didn't go to her. She came to him through counsel. And that the number was of their reckoning. And she made a deal. Offer, acceptance, bargained for consideration. Now she feels she left money on the table so she wants to get out on it. That's not going to be the easiest way to get a declaratory judgment from a judge.
AVENATTI: Well, quite honestly, our position is there never was acceptance, because Donald Trump never signed the agreement.
CUOMO: But we know, look, I don't practice at your level. I've done research on you. I'm not going to get into who's a better lawyer. You win. But we both know you don't have to sign a document for there to be a contract.
AVENATTI: You're a better anchor.
CUOMO: For now. Who knows which way your career goes?
But what I'm saying is if you have -- we know that you can have a contract without an executed signature page. And what is going to be your proof that she didn't make this deal the right way?
Because otherwise, the law could look at her as having what they call unclean hands. You took the money. You want a better deal now. But that's not how contracts work.
AVENATTI: Well, quite honestly, in the law in California -- and that's what -- that's what's going to apply here, Donald Trump had to see these documents. That never happened. In fact, the agreement, and a paragraph in the agreement, it specifies that if it's not signed, there's no deal.
Our position is very simple. It was not signed. There was no deal. We believe there's a reason why it wasn't signed, namely so that Donald Trump could have deniability, the same deniability that he's relying on right now. That's why it wasn't signed. That's our position. We think it makes all the sense in the world, honestly. We are highly confident we're going to be able to blow up this deal.
My client wants the ability to speak openly and honestly to the American people. She's going to tell her story. If Donald Trump has a counter to that story, let him come forward and tell his side of the story. We're going to let the American people decide who's telling the truth. It's just that simple.
[07:25:00] CUOMO: Does it bother you that your client has gone back and forth on whether this happened or not?
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, obviously, I don't think it's ideal. But I think when she tells --
CUOMO: Bad facts, as we'd say. Why'd she ever deny it if it's her truth?
AVENATTI: And I think when she is allowed to speak openly, and the American people hear her explanation, they're going to judge for themselves as to whether she's credible or not.
CUOMO: Not a legal question but, you know, in terms of what we're dealing with here in our political culture, there is the "so what?" issue to this. You know? People did not vote for Donald Trump because they thought he was a moral mountain. Right?
When you look at the poll numbers, they say, "Does he make bad personal choices?"
"Yes, he does."
"Does that matter to you?"
They voted for him. Even the evangelicals went for Donald Trump when, you know, these types of what kind of character, whatever, however subjectively you want to define it. They have made, like, their bread and butter. Now they went for him more than anybody, including Ronald Reagan.
So do why does the American -- why do the American people need to hear from Stormy Daniels?
AVENATTI: Because cover-ups matter.
CUOMO: Meaning what? What's the cover-up here? They entered into a deal.
AVENATTI: No, the cover-up is that you have Attorney Cohen claiming that Donald Trump never knew anything about this. You have the White House claiming that Donald Trump never knew anything about this. That's going to be shown to be patently false.
CUOMO: Now why -- why are you so confident? I get that you have to have the position. That's not easy to prove. You'd have to get communications between the two of them that shows that they were talking about this and that he did know at that time.
AVENATTI: We have substantial evidence and facts that were not included in the complaint. I mean, we're not going to lay all of our cards out on the table.
CUOMO: True. That's a strategic decision.
AVENATTI: And I am confident that when those evidence -- or when that evidence and those facts come to light, the American people are going to conclude that Attorney Cohen and the White House have not shot straight with them on this issue.
CUOMO: And what should happen as a result? What are you looking for here?
AVENATTI: We want her to have her day to speak openly and honestly. We want the truth to be known. Let the chips fall where they may.
CUOMO: Would she be willing to give back the $130,000 and say, "Fine, I don't want anything to do with you guys. This was never a real deal. Here's your money"?
AVENATTI: If she's ultimately ordered to do that in order to speak openly and honestly, 100 percent absolutely.
CUOMO: Why is the bar to be ordered? If this is about speaking the truth and exposing wrong-doing, why not give the money back and then have clean hands?
AVENATTI: Well, Chris, I believe she's always have clean hands. It's really not about unclean hands. It's about the fact that the deal was never accepted by the other side.
But separate and apart from that, if Attorney Cohen and Mr. Trump want to come forward and admit that he knew about the deal but didn't sign it and they'd like to undo this and have her return the money and she can speak openly and honestly, my phone is open.
CUOMO: So you're going to go forward to this. Do you think it gets resolved in the courts?
AVENATTI: We'd like to have it resolved outside of the courts. This could very easily resolved. Let's go agree there was no deal. Let's let both sides tell their story. Let's let the American people decide.
CUOMO: You have any concern? Like, so far the White House has been -- they've been sketchy about keeping clear -- Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Good facts for you. I pointed out bad facts for you before. Good fact for you is Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying the arbitration case went in the favor of Donald Trump. It makes him a party to this. Putatively, not legally. He wasn't a party to the arbitration case, as you know. That was through Michael Cohen's holding company that he had.
But if that's where this goes, and it becomes Donald Trump versus your client, are there any concerns about whether that's a fight you want to take on? This is a man who's a very active opponent.
AVENATTI: Well, he's very active. He's very aggressive. He's very powerful. But I haven't let people take my lunch money since I was 7, 8 years old. I'm not going to start now.
CUOMO: All right. Michael Avenatti, thank you very much for hammering out the case. Appreciate it. We'll follow it.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris.
The big news today, President Trump agreeing to meet with with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. We get reaction from the Democratic side next.