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Cohen Admits to Taking Out Home Equity Loan to Keep Porn Star Quiet; Trump to Stump for Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania; Interview with Stormy Daniels; Steve Bannon Makes Controversial Comments in Europe; Stormy Daniels Sues for Right to Talk about Alleged Affair; Trump/Kim Summit Would Make History, Good or Bad; Grim End to Hostage Standoff at Veterans Home; British Troops Assist in Probe of Nerve Agent Attack. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 10, 2018 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:08] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles, in for Ana Cabrera.

In just a few hours, President Trump will speak in Pennsylvania, rallying the base to help republicans avoid an embarrassing loss in a district he won by 20 points back in 2016. As the president tires to bring in the voters, he can't seem to avoid the story of Stormy Daniels. The porn start, who is suing the president, just speaking to CNN. It comes after new revelations on how she was paid $130,000 to stay silent on their alleged affair.

Now, Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used work e-mail to negotiate the payment, which may be counter Cohen's claims that he acted on his own with no ties to the campaign or the Trump Organization and no risk of campaign finance violations. Cohen also told CNN that he got the money from are a home equity line.

Daniels will not comment on any of that or go on camera, but she did talk about how her life has changed since her alleged 2006 relationship with Donald Trump went public.


STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: It's sort of a double-edged sword where a lot of people are very interested in boosting me for dancing and stuff like that. So I am getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now I am dancing three or four times a month. So that has been really great. But because of that, it is sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting. And a lot of the mainstream projects that I have been working on have indefinitely been put on hold.


NOBLES: CNN White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is joining us live from the White House.

And, Boris, is this going be put more pressure on the White House to respond?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ryan. In a typical administration, sure. There are more and more revelations about Michael Cohen, his use of Trump Organization e-mails, questions about the payment that he made, reporting that, at one point, he was upset when was not reimbursed. But this is not a typical administration. So far, what we have seen from the press podium, Sarah Sanders denying the president had anything to do with Michael Cohen's action. She has essentially said the president had nothing to do with what Cohen did on his own. Cohen, himself, has maintained that. Despite that, these questions are coming up, as we learn more and more what Michael Cohen did. And some of what he suggested leads to speculation that perhaps President Trump did know something about what was going on. The White House has not commented on it except to say that the president was not involved at all and that it's time to move forward and discuss other things.

The president, as we know, for some time, has a tendency to tweet about any number of issues. Today, he tweeted about North Korea and a shooting in California. But he has not mentioned anything about this controversy, one that we have been discussing for several weeks. The president did tweet about the trip to Pennsylvania later today. He is scheduled to leave in a few hours. So the reporters will have a chance to ask him about the Stormy Daniels' saga. We'll see if he responds.

But a note about where the president is heading. He is campaigning for Rick Saccone at Pennsylvania's 18th district. It has longly been a Republican district, but insiders have told CNN that they are not confident that the Republicans will be able to hold on to that seat. Not only is there Democratic momentum, this being the first midterm in the Republican administration, but all of the controversies surrounding the White House, about Stormy Daniels, turnover within the administration, and the Russian investigation, leads to a lot of questions about the stability of this administration. And this could be a bellwether for the Republicans heading into the midterm elections. Keep in mind, Ryan, if Republicans lose this seat, it is a district that Donald Trump won by 20 points, so it is an indication of a blue wave to come.

NOBLES: No doubt about it, Boris. A seat that the president won by 20 points, and now many analysts are calling it a tossup, and one of the reasons that he is headed to Pennsylvania.

Boris Sanchez, thank you, from the White House.

And now, a CNN exclusive. Porn star, Stormy Daniels, talking to CNN days after filing a lawsuit against the president of the United State concerning their alleged affair in 2006.

CNN's Nick Valencia caught up with Daniels last night at a Florida strip club where she was performing.

And I want to remind you, Trump's long-time lawyer made a $130,000 payment to Daniels weeks before the 2016 election, and the White House says the president has denied all of these allegations. And we will get right now to correspondent, Nick Valencia, in Pompano Beach, Florida.

And, Nick, her given name is Stephanie Clifford. She has become almost a character in the White House saga. But you had a chance to meet her in person. What is Stormy Daniels actually like?

[15:04:58] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is incredibly funny, Ryan, and witty and sharp, charismatic, just very big personality. We were not expecting to get this interview. In fact, there was a crush of media outside waiting for her performance before she walked in. We just managed to build some trust with her team and her assistant and they were telling us that she was not going to talk. And afterwards, after the performance, there was a meet and greet. And we asked if there was a chance to ask her some question, and they said so long as we don't talk about the pending litigation. And so long as we don't talk about President Trump, she would talk.

So we asked her how the whole ordeal, this saga, has been affecting her.


VALENCIA (voice-over): So what has this done for your career?

DANIELS (voice-over): It's sort of been a double-edged sword. Where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now we're dancing three or four times a month so that's been really great. Because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of adult films I'm supposed to be promoting and a lot of the mainstream projects I was actively working on have indefinitely been put on hold.

VALENCIA: You got a lot of attention. Some of it some negative attention. How are you handling everything?

DANIELS: I've been in the adult business for 17 years, so to make it that long in that business, you have to have a really tough skin. And so it's -- most of it rolls off my shoulder because it's an opinion like, oh, you think I'm a whore or ugly or old or I'm too fat or my boobs are too big or too small or whatever. I've heard -- there's nothing along those lines that someone can say to me I haven't heard. When someone says hey, you're a whore, I'm, that is successful whore to you.

VALENCIA: This is a little different. Has some of it been hurtful at all? What's your reaction to it?

DANIELS: The stuff that bothers me is the flat-out lie, like people randomly making up stuff.

VALENCIA: Like what?

DANIELS: Like that I'm broke. I'm actually one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. I have a contract that's been in place for several years. And I actually just renegotiated and got a new contract that was already -- the terms were already set before this stuff happened, and I have a huge -- I got a raise, so I'm doing just fine.

VALENCIA: What do you think about the circus that's happening? This was out in 2011 but now it's like a renewed attention on you and, you know, somebody else that we'll not name here?

DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear with the new developments comes new interest.


VALENCIA: Some very straightforward conversation and very straightforward and candid talk from Stephanie Clifford, also known by the porn name Stormy Daniels. She is scheduled to perform two more times at this strip club behind me. A lot of people are waiting to see what she'll do tonight -- Ryan?

NOBLES: Thank you, Nick Valencia, with a very revealing interview. Thank you for that.

And I want to discuss the Stormy Daniels interview with our pane. Joining us is Asawin Suebsaeng, politics reporter for "The Daily Beast." And also, Catherine Rampell, an opinion columnist from "The Washington Post."

Asawin, let's start with you.

Does Stormy Daniels accomplish with this interview, hurt or help the case?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, she is doing a very good job in terms of the media visibility and attention. At the very least in her case against the president. But it depends what it ends up producing in terms of what they promised as corroboration and other things as they are claiming that the president of the United States was clued in on this while Michael Cohen was doing, this and now, what are r reporters like myself and others have been trying to find out is what if anything people on the presidential campaign, some of whom have flooded into the Trump White House, and working in the administration knew about this while it was going on. It is very unclear except for, of course, Michael Cohen who is not a central part of the campaign at all. He would go on the tv as a pro Trump surrogate, but he was ensconced within the Trump Organization and kind of firewalled away from the campaign, because a lot of the senior officials kind of thought that he was kind of so -- so as we go forward we will find out more about the payoff and the hush money and if it involved the leader of the free world himself.

NOBLES: And, Catherine, to you now.

Is it not so much about the sordid details that took place between the president and the Stormy Daniels as much as it is about the way that the payout came down and whether or not the campaign had anything to do with it? CATHERINE RAMPELL, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think

both. There are lingering questions about the relationship of the -- the alleged relationship of the president and the porn star. The porn star said that Trump offered her cash to have sex with him. So we don't know exactly the extent of that relationship and were there other things that would have come out. And beyond that, you are right, we do want to know how this transaction happened and supposed hush money was paid out and were campaign finance laws broken. Stormy Daniels, in the lawsuit, suggests they may have been. She said the payout, the hush money, was intended to influence the election, which, in and of itself, would be a campaign finance violation. And we know that Michael Cohen sent from the Trump Organization account. And so there may have been corporate funds used to influence the election, and so there is a number of questions surrounding this.

[15:10:26] NOBLES: And, Asawin, back to your point about Michael Cohen, you wrote an in-depth story about Michael Cohen saying that Cohen directed Trump and he acts like Trump, and he even calls himself Trump's Ray Donovan, if you know the Showtime show. And what do you make of the recent moves of Stormy Daniel, because he is proud of this position of Trump's fixer?

SUEBSAENG: I have spent quite a couple of years now covering Trump world and the administration. And I know this is a tall the order to make, but I am not sure that I have been able to find anybody more willingly to gleefully throw himself on to a grenade for Donald Trump. He is the ultimate -- Michael Cohen is the ultimate Trump loyalist and he used to be his personal lawyer and he has been his long-time lawyer for god knows how many years. And he sort of has created a brand name for himself in terms of Trump efficiency. And he put himself on the perch of the organization to work for Trump, because he was so sure that he would get a job in the early administration or the high- ranking White House. But according to the reporting that you talked about, which is included in "The Daily Beast," he was blocked by the White House, including Reince Priebus, because they felt that he would be such a liability for the White House and get the administration in trouble, and on and on. And given the ongoing Stormy Daniel's and Donald Trump saga, I don't know how you can say that senior staffers' predictions were incorrect.

NOBLES: There is certainly some validity to that for sure.

And, Catherine, Stormy Daniels spoke to "In Touch Weekly" back in 2011. And I have pulled a quote here. This is talking about how she made fun of Trump's hair. And she said, quote, "Trump took it pretty well like. He was like, yes, yes, my wife even did my son's hair like that as a joke."

The interaction between the president and the porn star, it seems to have gone back a long time. And this is something that White House can't just sweep under the rug. And they seem to, at every turn, turn back questions related to this, but it is a deep connection between the president and Stormy Daniels.

RAMPELL: Right. If you are looking back at the interview, Daniels talking about how Trump was enamored not only with her talents professionally and that most people know her for but as a businesswoman. So there is some sort of meeting between two and she lost interest and we don't know how it fell out and we don't know the details of the relationship, which by all accounts, it is consensual, and she has not alleged otherwise, and falls into the category of a group of sexual allegations against the president at this point.

NOBLES: And now, we've talked about Michael Cohen, I want to transition and talk about another loyalist, Steve Bannon, Trump's former White House chief strategist. He made a controversial comment in Europe while speaking to the French Nationalist Party. Listen to his comments.




BANNON: Let them call you xenophobes.


BANNON: Let them call you nativists.


BANNON: Wear it as a badge of honor.



BANNON: Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.


NOBLES: Asawin, in case you could not hear it through the translation, "Let them call you racists, and then wear it as a badge of honor." And he was very close to Donald Trump, and they did have a falling out. But do these comments reflect back to Donald Trump as a decision maker to have Bannon in such a role in the White House?

SUEBSAENG: Well, it is certainly reflective of what Steve Bannon was saying to the president in the West Wing. I was listening to the speech before the far-right French Nationalists that you were playing, and it sounded like there were a number of things that I had heard while covering the White House months ago that would privately say all of the time while working within Trump's West Wing. And, in fact, say it public when granted the chance during, before or after the time he was working with the administration. And the fact that he is making the comments before Le Pen's party or organization is actually not surprising. But he has been a big fan of the right populists, nationalist parties and, for years, has wanted to work with them. And now, he is, now that he has time off from Trump world. He has been exiled by the president and his top allies, he has some time to further the message and make stronger relationships with these, his ultra-right troll thinkers in western Europe.

[15:15:43] NOBLES: And it is also important to point out that, after the speech, Steve Bannon gave a press conference and he said that he applauds the moves that the president has made as of late when it comes to tariffs and the fact that he has pushed out some of the globalists, as they have called them from the White House. And so even though Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are not arm in arm, to your point, Asawin, that thinking is still very important part of the policy decision making in the White House.

So, Catherine Rampell and Asawin Suebsaeng, thank you both so much.

Still to come, Stormy Daniels' lawyer tells CNN she has been offered money to break her nondisclosure agreement and talks about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. We will talk to a legal expert about what the fallout could be, next.


[15:20:33] NOBLES: A judge has been assigned in the lawsuit porn star, Stormy Daniels, has filed against President Trump. The lawsuit claims the hush agreement she signed to keep quiet about the affair is invalid because Trump never signed it. A hearing date has yet to be set. But could we hear from Daniels without this ever going to trial? Her attorney told CNN that multiple people are willing to pay the $1 million fine if she breaks her nondisclosure and spills about the affair.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: Has anyone offered to pony up the million to protect her and say, here, I'm good for it, go tell your story?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: At least 10 individuals in the last three days alone.

SMERCONISH: Is she contemplating taking any of the 10 offers?



NOBLES: And with me now is CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, who is a senior lecturer at Yale University.

And so the first, most obvious question, Asha, is it that simple? Could someone else just pay the fine for her if she decides to give the interview and talk about the relationship with President Trump?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, according to the nondisclosure agreement, she is liable for $1 million in what is called the damages per breach.

NOBLES: OK. RANGAPPA: So technically, every time she were to violate it, the

parties to the agreement could come in and, through an arbitration, and force her to pay that. And every time, if somebody was willing to pay it, it could happen. But that is not what she wants. She wants to be let out of the agreement completely to allow her to tell her story freely and make money if she wants to and that is better off.

NOBLES: Right. Obviously, Michael Cohen is a central figure in this and he is the one who paid the $130,000 through a home equity loan. And he used the Trump Org e-mail to basically communicate with Stormy Daniel's lawyer at the time of the agreement. Does that give any insight into the negotiations, and could it be used as evidence that Donald Trump may have more involvement than we know?

RANGAPPA: Well, two the issues going on. One is the with the campaign finance ethics, and one is the allegations made in the lawsuit. And so, when Mike Cohen says he made the payment himself, and it came from the mortgage account, what he is trying to do is to distance himself from the Trump campaign and say that I did this all on my own. And the way that the campaign finance law works is that it does not matter if you make the payment on your own. The question is, did the campaign know about it and did whatever you paid for benefit the campaign. This is where the timing is important. If he did it six days before the election, the fact that he was doing frit Trump Organization e-mail, and he was using that to facilitate. So if the organization or the campaign knew about it, and they were benefiting from Stormy's silence, then it could still be a contribution.

NOBLES: Is the reasoning plausible here, because what Michael Cohen is saying is I used the e-mail for soccer games, for instance -- he didn't say that specifically -- that he happened to use the e-mail for a particular transition and it had nothing to do with the organization. Is that a plausible explanation in this case?

RANGAPPA: Well, if he was truly going rogue. I mean, we all use our work e-mail to do sometimes personal business. I think that you have to look at the chain and see would it really be realistic that this would be happening at this moment in time that it would be happening without the knowledge of anyone else. John Edwards was criminally prosecuted for exactly this type of thing, a third-party donor or several third-party donors paying to take care of the mistress so that it would not harm the 2008 campaign. That was found to be a violation of the campaign finance laws, and they actually the DOJ launched a criminal prosecution about that.

NOBLES: And a story that "National Enquirer" broke and that President Trump has suggested they deserve a Pulitzer Prize for.

Is something that could be used as a blackmail opportunity against the president?

RANGAPPA: Well, we need to be concerned. If this is a one-off thing and now it is out in the open, OK? But if there are multiple people who have been silenced, that means that, you know, the president is afraid of these people coming out. That means that he has a vulnerability that some people who know about it, could potentially exploit. You don't want anyone to have leverage over the president of the United States for any reason, because we want him to be acting completely transparently, and not for motives other than the ones he says. So if this has been a pattern in any way, it would be a concern.

[15:25:21] NOBLES: Right. Now, what about the Russian investigation? Are these two completely separate issues here that we are dealing with or an opportunity that they could somewhere meet down the line?

RANGAPPA: It is a great question. I mean, you know, some of the things that are starting to come up in the Russian investigation have to do with whether there maybe, you know, some kinds can of quid pro quos that are happening with the policy and foreign contributions. And I think that this is generally a separate thing. However, if there is, again, a pattern of the campaign funds or funds channeled, being used for things that they were not to be used for, Mueller might look at that. I think that the bigger problem is that the president is going to be facing legal problems on two fronts. If this the lawsuit goes forward, the precedent of Clinton v. Jones means that he is likely going to be deposed in the civil lawsuit. On the other side, Mueller wants to interview the president. And U.S. v. Nixon is not on the president's side. He will likely have to do that interview. So this is -- these are two fronts, civil and criminal, that will be converging on the president in the near future.

NOBLES: And unprecedented for a president to be interviewed twice in both a civil and criminal investigation.

RANGAPPA: Yes. In the Kenneth Starr investigation, the president was two times interviewed, but at the same time

NOBLES: Right.


RANGAPPA: -- in two different cases. Yes, absolutely.

NOBLES: Asha, thank you for your insight as always.

RANGAPPA: Thank you, Ryan.

NOBLES: Thank you for being here.

Coming up, as the White House insists that President Trump will meet with Kim Jong-Un, the White House is also now coming up with conditions, and giving a few details about when or where it will happen. So how could a meeting between the highly unpredictable leaders play out? We will discuss that, next.


[15:31:37] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump agreed to meet the leader of North Korea face-to-face. And most analysts say, if it happens, it will certainly go down in history, either as a triumph of peacemaking studies by students for generations or it could fail on every level, leaving the security of much of the world even more in question. Success or failure depends only on the two men, and their famously unpredictability of their personalities.

Here is CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Washington and in Seoul, a mix of genuine optimism over the possibility of a groundbreaking summit and real concern over what could go wrong.

EVANS REVERE, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT IN SOUTH KOREA: This has been somewhat haphazardly prepared and very, very quickly prepared and I'm concerned about it.

TODD: Analysts say so much success and failure of a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un depends on the personalities of two unpredictable leaders.

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MIT: You have the two most unusual leaders on the face of the planet, walking to meet for the first time. And you know, what could possibly go wrong? If they hit it off, it could advance things, and things could go well pretty quickly. If they don't hit it off, the opposite could occur.

TODD: U.S. and North Korean officials are pressing their intelligence agencies and the diplomats for information on what the other side is after in a possible meeting.

President Trump wants North Korea to commit to drawing down its nuclear arsenal, White House officials say, and they won't even meet until it happens.

What does Kim want out of the summit, and does he win just by having Trump show up.

REVERE: He wants legitimacy that comes with a meeting with the president of the United States, a legitimization of his rein and rule and status in the world, something that his father and grandfather were not able to achieve. And if the American president goes through that, he will have given that important gift to the North Koreans for virtually nothing.

TODD: Veteran diplomatic and security officials are warning that Kim Jong-Un could be playing President Trump and that Trump could be walking into a trap. They say Kim is not going to give up the nuclear weapon, and even if he promises Trump he'll freeze his program for a while, he could still keep building the program in secret.

MICHAEL GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: North Korea has cheated on every diplomatic deal from the U.S., the U.N., South Korea, China, the Six Party talks. They have a perfect track record of cheating. And so even with a significantly large amount of pressure and pain we're imposing, I'm very skeptical. I think most people who have dealt with North Korea are skeptical he will keep a deal.

TODD: Another word of caution we're hearing is, if this meeting is canceled or does occur and it goes poorly, the U.S. may have few options left to get North Korea to drawdown its weapons than to move towards a military confrontation.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


NOBLES: All right, Brian, thank you.

Let me get Elise Labott in. She's our global affairs correspondent.

And, Elise, concerns that there is little time between the time of this meeting to happen. The initial announcement was as soon as May. Also the two leaders, Trump and Kim, don't have much experience in the diplomatic world. That MIT analysts of Brian Todd's report said what could go wrong, and he said that kind of tongue in cheek. But really, what could go wrong here, Elise?

[15:34:58] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Brian said, Ryan, everything could go wrong in the sense that there is a lot of pressure and expectation put on this meeting. So if it does not go well, that, you know, although the meeting could reduce tensions, this could increase tensions. That is why it is so important to prep the ground for this. And I think that is one of the things that right now is, it happened so suddenly, the U.S. does not have a strategy for what it wants. And, yes, one of the goals is denuclearization and North Korea drawing down its nuclear program. But should it be larger than that? Should it be a peace treaty or normalizations between the two countries? I think this is what the U.S. has to prep President Trump for what he wants. And you know, as we said, President Trump himself is so unpredictable he could go in to offer something or agree to something that is no one is prepared for.

NOBLES: And he does not have a lot support in this area right now, right? There's not a diplomat on the ground there in South Korea, no ambassador right. Could that make the process more difficult?

LABOTT: It is going to make the process more difficult. The president does have advisers at the National Security Council and he has Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who -- he was not around this week when it came about, but he has been working on this pressure campaign, working with China, working with South Korea. And the U.S., I understand, is also looking to bring in outside experts to the handle the technical negotiations. We have to have low expectations of what is even possible in the meeting. This is a meeting between two leaders. It's going to be very important and symbolic photo-op if it goes ahead. It is a first step, and the best we could look for. If they both agree that they want to keep talking, then they will tell the aids, whether it is the secretary of the state or even on a lower level, to start negotiations. So this is the beginning. So it is going to be important to beef up the diplomatic advice to President Trump. But, in the end, as we have said, these are two men who make their own decision, and it is a real challenge to kind of keep them on the kind of the, you know, traditional path. And this is certainly putting the cart before the horse, and as we have said, who know, maybe it is a breakthrough, but people need to be, you know, kind of keep their expectations managed.

NOBLES: Tradition does not seem to be the order of the day when it comes to this.

LABOTT: Not at all.

NOBLES: Elise, it is reported that North Korea has sent a second message to President Trump. This separate from the invitation for the face-to-face meeting. What do you know about the message?

LABOTT: In the message that South Koreans said it is an offer for a meeting and commitment to refrain from the nuclear and missile testing, and you have to see that President Trump today tweeted that, noting that North Korea has been suspending the nuclear missile tests for some months. We don't know a lot about it. The South Korea media has been saying it is more of a personal message to President Trump, kind of playing to the ego and playing to his leadership. You heard the South Korean envoy when he came out talking in that way. You heard President Moon saying this meeting would be miraculous. So this message is more personal from Kim Jong-Un to President Trump, praising him as a leader and saying, together, the two of us could get something done. But I think that what is interesting is that we have not heard anything from the North Korean government, a commitment, you know, reaffirmation of what they said. So it is all taking the South Korean's word for it right now.

NOBLES: OK. Elise Labott, thank you for breaking it down for us.

Coming up, a grim and brazen attack at the nation's largest veterans home. Details about what drove the gunman to kill himself and three hostages when we come back.


[15:43:31] NOBLES: Law enforcement sources now say the gunman at a veterans home in California had made a threat against one of the women he held hostage. By the time Friday's standoff was over, three women who worked at the home and the gunman were dead.

More details from CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tragedy at the veterans home in California in Yountville. Three women hostages and a gunman dead. The nearly eight-hour standoff with police apparently started when the suspect barged into a going-away party for the person there.

LARRY KAMER, WORKER: VETERANS HOME AT YOUNTVILLE: They were having cake and, you know, toasting and all that. And he just walked in with the rifle. SIMON: The employees were at the Pathway Home, a counseling service

for veterans located on the campus of the nation's largest veterans home. They help veterans with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

CHRIS O'QUINN, ASSISTANT CHIEF, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, GOLDEN GATE: It is tragic news that we did want to come before the public to give.

SIMON: Authorities have identified the three hostages as 42-year-old Jennifer Golick, Pathway Home clinical director, 48-year-old Christine Loeber, executive director, and 29-year-old Jennifer Gonzales, a clinical psychologist.

In a statement, Pathway Homes said, "These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation's veterans.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON, (D), CALIFORNIA: They were three wonderful, professional, talented, young women who get up every morning and go to the work to help veterans. And sadly, they are gone.

[15:45:00] SIMON: The gunman is 36-year-old Albert Wong, of Sacramento. Police say Wong, who had served in the military, was a former program participant at the Pathway House and left two weeks ago.

Early in the standoff, Wong and officers fired at each other. After the building was put in lockdown, hostage negotiators spent hours trying to make contact.

U=VANESSA FIORES (ph), WITNESS: It was a lot of just -- you know, you know, just like, they were calm, and they didn't know what to expect or anything like that. I was just thinking of wanting to go home to my son.


NOBLES: That is Dan Simon reporting.

Coming up, troops patrolling a small English town after a former Russian spy is poisoned and left for dead on a park bench. Could more people be at risk? The latest details, next.


[15:50:20] NOBLES: Now to a story that could be ripped straight from the pages of a spy thriller. Police in a sleepy English town scrambling to find out who else may have been exposed to a rare nerve agent used to poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter. Sergei and Yulia Skripal are in critical condition. And at least 21 other people have been treated for poisoning after being exposed to the nerve agent.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Salisbury, the town at the center of the spy war.

Erin, do authorities have any idea where exactly the Skripals were exposed to this nerve agent?

ERIN MCCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if they do, Ryan, authorities simply are not saying. They're being extremely tight- lipped with the details of this investigation. In fact, most of what we know at this point is based on what we can see. And an area of focus for them in particular right now is the local cemetery. And that's significant because that is where Skripals' wife as well as his son are buried. His wife died of cancer in 2012. His son died of liver failure last year. Authorities moved in there wearing hazmat suits, seen taking objects from the area.

Also moving in to Salisbury, the military. About 180 military personnel have been brought in to help with the decontamination effort. Today, they were seen moving an ambulance from the scene as well as a police car. They are moving objects, helping authorities, also assess the situation.

Now, today, in London, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, chaired what's called a COBRA meeting, an emergency level meeting in which cabinet ministers assessed the situation, going over the evidence. Out of that, Secretary Rudd saying her priority is to establish the facts and appropriate blame later -- Ryan?

NOBLES: A lot we still don't know.

Erin McLaughlin, live in Salisbury, England. Erin, thank you.

Next week, we reveal our first "CNN Hero" of 2018. But before we do that, an update on 2017's hero of the year. Amy Wright, of Wilmington, North Carolina, was honored for opening a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities. Now she's expanded her mission.

Here's a quick update from Anderson Cooper.


KELLY RIPA, CNN HERO CO-HOST: The 2017 CNN Hero of the year is Amy Wright.



ARMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: Oh, my gosh. I cannot believe this is happening.

COOPER (voice-over): Incredible night. But two months later, Amy has opened a second coffee shop. This one in Charleston, South Carolina.


COOPER: For most of the 17 new employees, this is their first job.

WRIGHT: People with intellectual disabilities aren't valued, so this coffee shop has created a place where people see their value.



NOBLES: Well, now Amy has some major expansion plans. You can watch Anderson's full update, or nominate someone you think should be a hero right now at

And we'll be right back.


[15:57:56] NOBLES: Tomorrow night, CNN's original series, "American Dynasties, The Kennedys," sheds new light on the iconic family and how they impacted public life on a global scale.

CNN's Dana Bash sat down with Kick Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy's granddaughter. Kick interviewed Dana about some of her memories covering the Kennedy family.


KICK KENNEDY: GRANDAUGHTER OF BOBBY KENNEDY: Thank you, Dana, for coming in today. I'm really excited to talk to you.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: My pleasure. It's so nice to meet you.

KENNEDY: I heard a pretty incredible story, which is that my great grandfather played a role in helping your grandmother in the great U.S. during World War II. How did that happen?

BASH: Not just that, Kick. Your great grandfather saved my grandmother's life. He personally did it. This is the lore of my family. We went back and looked at some of my grandmother's notes. She was Austrian. It was in the throes of World War II. She was Jewish. Her parents sent her to England to be a nanny, to work, just to get her out. And while she was there, her parents somehow got to the United States. She was still in England, desperately trying to get a visa to the U.S. My grandmother went to the embassy where your great grandfather was ambassador. She was relentless. And the story is that she finally got in to see your great grandfather, and he approved it. He personally approved the visa.


BASH: The story she used to tell was that your great grandfather said, "All right, little lady, you have moxie. I'll let you go."

KENNEDY: Fast forward a few decades, and Francis, your grandmother's granddaughter, Dana, is covering Joe's son, Ted. You said you have learned a lot from that experience. What are some lasting lessons?

BASH: I learned so much just by observing your Uncle Ted, Ted Kennedy, because he was the master legislator. And what was so remarkable about him was that he was the most partisan of Democrats. But he also was somebody who understood that you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


NOBLES: And don't miss "American Dynasty, The Kennedys" tomorrow at 9:00 p.m., only here on CNN.