Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Unveils White House Plan for School Safety; Will Trump Lawyers Block Stormy Daniels '60 Minutes' Interview? Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 12, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID HOGG, STUDENT ACTIVIST: Because at the end of the day, we all bleed the same American blood. And we need to realize that, come together and work together to save our children and save our future. And that's what we want to do on March 24.
[07:00:14] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Alfonso, last word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
CAMEROTA: OK, there you go. I'm so sorry, you guys, about the delay. I know that it makes it super awkward. But you got your message across. And obviously, we will be watching you on March 24 and all the days up until then. Thank you both very much for being here with us today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a good one.
CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Like right now.
CAMEROTA: Like right now. We mean that literally.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
The White House is backing off President Trump's repeated calls to raise the minimum age to buy certain guns. You'll remember him saying, "You guys, you men and women in this room, you're afraid of the NRA. Sometimes you have to fight them." Where is that fight now?
The administration unveiling a school safety plan that does include helping states pay to arm their teachers and to improve the nation's background check but not to cover all sales. The plan also calls for a federal commission on school safety headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. It comes just hours after the president mocked that very idea. He stood at a rally and just said commissions are a joke.
CAMEROTA: Well, President Trump hoping that the Republicans can hold onto a House seat in Pennsylvania in tomorrow's special election. The president was campaigning for Republican Rick Saccone over the weekend. And the president used the rally to attack journalists and people he considers his opponents.
He also renewed his calls to execute drug dealers.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live at the White House. Give us the latest, Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris and Alisyn.
Overnight, the White House unveiled President Trump's school safety proposals away from the television cameras. Though they are moving forward with that contentious proposal to provide school employees with firearms training, the president is shifting his stance on one key issue here after multiple conversations with the NRA.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump backing down from increasing the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms, an idea strongly opposed by the NRA that the president repeatedly pushed for.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't make sense. I have to wait until 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18.
COLLINS: The shift coming after Mr. Trump publicly shamed senators Toomey and Manchin for not including it in their bill.
TRUMP: I'm curious as to what you did in your bill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't address it, Mr. President?
TRUMP: You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA. Right?
COLLINS: Instead, raising the age on gun purchases will be one of a range of issues studied by a new federal school safety commission chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
LESLIE STAHL, "60 MINUTES": Do you feel a sense of urgency?
BETSY DEVOS, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: Yes.
STAHL: Because this sounds like talking.
DEVOS: No, there is a sense of urgency, indeed.
COLLINS: But on Saturday, President Trump mocked the concept of these types of commissions to solve problems like the opioid epidemic.
TRUMP: We can't just keep setting up blue-ribbon committees. They talk, talk, talk, talk. Two hours later. Then they write a report.
COLLINS: The White House's proposal includes providing rigorous firearms training for specially qualified school personnel on a voluntary basis.
DEVOS: This is one solution that can and should be considered. But no one size fits all. Every state and every community is going to address this -- this issue in a different way.
COLLINS: The administration also supports transitioning veterans and retired law enforcement to work in schools, adopting measures to allow law enforcement to remove firearms from threatening individuals, overhauling and reforming mental health programs, and the Cornyn- Murphy bill improving reporting to the federal background check system.
The White House rolling out the gun proposal one day after the president's rambling and, at times, vulgar speech in Pennsylvania that was supposed to focus on Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone. Instead the event felt more like a campaign rally for the president where he attacked potential 2020 challengers.
TRUMP: Can you imagine covering Bernie or Pocahontas? Pocahontas, how about that?
Oh, I'd love Oprah to win. I'd love to beat Oprah. I know her weakness. No, I know her weakness.
COLLINS: And debuted this new campaign slogan.
TRUMP: Keep America great! Exclamation point. Keep America great!
COLLINS: The president touting the steep tariffs he imposed last week on steel and aluminum imports and his potential summit with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un.
TRUMP: Who knows what's going to happen? I may leave fast, or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world and for all of these countries.
COLLINS: President Trump surprising aides by suggesting that drug dealers should be executed.
TRUMP: I think it's a discussion we have to start thinking about, don't you? But I don't know if you're ready.
[07:05:05] COLLINS: And raising eyebrows with what some Democrats call a racially charged attack on Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has called for his impeachment.
TRUMP: She's a low I.Q. individual. You can't help it. She really is.
COLLINS: Now Chris and Alisyn, President Trump is hoping to chalk up another Republican victory tomorrow in Pennsylvania, a district he won handily in the 2016 election. And his son Donald Trump Jr. is going to do some last-minute campaigning there today.
CUOMO: All right, Kaitlan. Obviously, a big reason this is interesting is that this should have never been close, this race. He won this district by 20 points. You know, it was a wonder that the Democrats wanted to put money into Conor Lamb. You know, part of the political thinking, it will be interesting to
see who thought that was a good idea. Who thought there was vulnerability? They were right to see how this plays out. But it is certainly closer than they expected.
Let's bring in CNN political analysts John Avlon and David Gregory.
David, we say it sounded like a campaign rally speech for Trump, because it was. That's what it was about, him doing what he likes to do the most. Going there, pressing the economic success and pressing the culture divide, right? That's what he does. He says, here are common enemies. And here's what I got done on the economy. That's what he did on Saturday.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And nobody loves the attention like Donald Trump to say, "Oh, yes, this election should be about me. Why not? Let's make it about me."
He's bigger than the party. He stands apart from the Republican Party, and yet he owns the Republican Party. So he's very much on the ballot in all of these races. And looking at softening support in some of what we consider Trump country is very significant. As we gauge whether all of his antics still work and whether what he's talking about is still reaching his core supporters.
But we do know, and we know it from special elections, there's a lot of energy on the other side. A lot of energy. And in congressional races, you know, you can't just attack Hillary Clinton and kind of get everybody geared at sort of their opposition to your opponent. It's much different here.
So you know, that's what we're seeing. We're seeing somebody who, in all of his outrageousness, you know, suggesting this business about considering the death penalty for drug dealers, going after Oprah, all the rest. It's just pushing all the buttons to remind people of what the brand is, to remind people of what they like, which is that he'll say and do anything to just shake things up. And there's enough people who say, "Yes, that's still a good idea."
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the big policy headline of the day. And that is that the White House has put out what their view of what the solutions would be for fighting school shootings and gun violence.
So I'll just tick through some of these proposals to remind everybody. It does not include the plan to increase the age limit that the president had talked so many times about wanting, personally believing in this.
It provides qualified school personnel, which means teachers, with firearm training. It supports veterans -- this is interesting -- and retired law enforcement to transition into working as school security officers.
It urges states to do what Connecticut did. OK? So when somebody is a danger to themselves or somebody else, that law enforcement can temporarily take their firearms. It creates a task force to study age restrictions. I think the
president said he doesn't like things like task forces. It proposes extension of mental health programs, and it supports the Fix NICS Bill by senators Cornyn and Murphy.
What's interesting, John, is that if the NRA had written their dream list of proposals, it would be this. Not to say these won't work. But this is completely in keeping with what the NRA would like.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, is there anything? You know, he mocked Senator Toomey for saying, "Oh, you're afraid of the NRA." Is there anything in this list of proposals from the president and the White House that the NRA doesn't support?" Signs point to no. They seemed to have been the last person to speak to the president and the White House about the bill they put forward.
Some progress is better than none. But this is an NRA-approved checklist. Nothing about taking them off.
CUOMO: So, David, what's the play here? That despite what he said in the meeting on TV, that he's going to do what everybody in his party does when it comes to this issue. And that that was just for show. When it's time to go, he checks every box that people who vote on this issue might punish him with.
GREGORY: Well, it looks like he's willing to lead on a couple of issues. Right? He's been consistent in saying there ought to be more guns in schools, no matter the opposition that's come on that. And that's obviously supported by the NRA.
And he does want to raise the -- the age. He said consistently it doesn't seem to be in this blueprint. Remember, whatever the White House puts out as the blueprint doesn't really matter. And their commissions don't matter. It's what's going to become legislation.
CUOMO: Well, you think they would have at least been ambitious here.
CUOMO: Because what you're saying is true, they could have backed off it on the legislative phase. He gave himself the hedge at the meeting, saying, "You guys won't agree but I think you should consider it." If you want them to consider it, he would put it in his blueprint. He didn't even do that.
[07:10:03] GREGORY: Well, I agree, but -- but I still think he is mercurial enough to say that, if all of a sudden, this bubbled up from the Senate, and he would say, "Yes, that's a good idea." But he doesn't -- he's not going to lead the way on this. And that's really the breaking point on this. He has got to -- I've said in the past the presidential leadership alone doesn't get it done. See Barack Obama with a Democratic-controlled Congress, and they couldn't get it done.
But he has got to make this part of the bully pulpit if you're going to get something done over time. Because who else is going to keep that energy up? It's going to be at the grassroots level. It's going to be in the states where they, you know, after Sandy Hook and can be the case now. They can do efficient legislation. But it's still got to be a national issue.
Because the NRA is always going to be there. They're always going to be there fighting these issues that are issues in their minds about liberty, about protection of fundamental rights and about resisting overreach from the government all -- all manifested in the gun. And that's what their opponents have to understand.
AVLON: But this president isn't interested in policy. That's not his definition of leadership. It's about -- it's about rallying the base. It's about appealing to his tribe. So he's -- you know -- and attacking Oprah, which is never a smart thing to do, by the way. At a rally to an adoring crowd. Dialing up those culture war divides and talking about executing drug dealers, which is well outside the norms of anything we expect from an American president.
But this isn't about -- this is a grandstanding president not a governing president.
CAMEROTA: But --
GREGORY: I think that's a really important point. And I just want to underline that, because the promise of President Trump was that he was -- he could do deals, right? He was a dealmaker. The ultimate dealmaker. The outsider who comes in and makes Washington work, because he did it so well on "The Apprentice" and not real life. And then -- but he did it in his various deals.
What deals has he put together? You know, he wants to do this on North Korea? Is he going to do it on guns? You know, I mean, so he talks about all the -- he had a deal, you know, on immigration, couldn't get it done. So I think John is right, that this is still more of a -- a kind of a circus act than it is the guy who actually delivers these big deals.
By the way, if he could deliver on these deals, imagine the political impact of that, if he could actually bring some of these home.
CAMEROTA: But I mean, in the meantime, he set up this blue-ribbon commission with his secretary of education, Betsy DeVos helming it, and then a couple of hours later, he said this about his real feelings about blue-ribbon commissions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We can't just keep setting up blue-ribbon committees with your wife and your wife and your husband. And they meet, and they have a meal, and they talk, talk, talk. Two hours later, then they write a report. Look, that's what I've got in Washington. I've got all of these blue-ribbon committees. Everybody wants to be in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So the commission that Betsy DeVos is going to be helming is a joke, I guess?
AVLON: But he's, like, clearly reacting to the fact that he just signed a blue-ribbon commission. He looks these sort of Jackie-Mason- style monologues. This is a good idea. This is his good time.
But again, the gap between what he -- the responsibilities of running for president and his rally rhetoric is just so stark.
GREGORY: Look, it wouldn't -- it wouldn't be worth doing much analysis beyond the entertainment principle, because that's what he does at these rallies for, if not for the reality that it keeps happening, people keep dying.
You just had a veteran go into a veterans' home and kill three of the workers there and then himself, and he was thrown out of PTSD. It checks every box of checked mental illness. The guy was able to get access. They weren't able to follow-up. If these things don't change, people are going to keep dying. And that is something that doesn't seem to register at the polls for people who think they want change and moments when we're in conflict.
You know, I mean when we're in crisis, people say it's got to change. But then they don't vote on that, David. And that's why you wind up with an NRA-approved checklist from the White House on what to do about school shootings.
GREGORY: Right. And this is, look, we're in a fractured media environment, living through an historic presidency the dysfunction and a level of kind of outrage and chaos. And I mean, never, not even in the aftermath of 9/11 have I seen people as glued to the news as they are to CNN and other outlets.
And what is the byproduct of that? Is that our attention spans are this. They're nothing. And so it requires even more presidential leadership and decision to keep the country's focus on this particular priority. Will he do that? That's the question. And everything we've heard so far would tell you that he is not going to do that. But that's the test.
CAMEROTA: Well, look, that's what the students are trying to do, as well, with the march on March 24. I mean, that's why they're traveling to Washington, D.C., hoping that it takes root around the country. So obviously, we'll be covering that.
[07:15:03] All right. David Gregory, John Avlon, thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right. Will the president's legal team try to block a "60 Minutes" interview with Stormy Daniels from ever airing? We're going to ask her attorney next.
CUOMO: All right. There are some new developments in the Stormy Daniels scandal. The adult film star taped an interview with "60 Minutes" set to air this coming Sunday. Anderson Cooper does the interview from CNN, of course. But there is a report from BuzzFeed suggesting that lawyers for the
president may try to stop CBS from airing it.
Let's discuss these developments and what happens next with Ms. Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti.
Good to see you, counselor.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Good morning.
CUOMO: So let's deal with the latest. My understanding is it wasn't going to air this Sunday anyway. It was all about whether or not it happens this week. So there has been no built-in delay because of this controversy. But as far as you know, has anyone from team Trump tried to stop "60 Minutes" from airing the interview?
AVENATTI: Well, nothing has been filed as of yet. But we have heard some rumblings that it's expected, perhaps, this week. I hope we're wrong about that, quite honestly. Because I think the American people deserve to hear from her. And quite honestly, we don't understand why all of this effort is being undertaken to silence my client.
[07:20:14] CUOMO: Well, it may have concern about recent energy, as well. Right? Their argument is why didn't she talk all those years before now? You know, she had plenty -- this happened, what, back in 2000 whatever. Why didn't she speak before now? Why did it only become relevant about the election? And their theory is it's always been about the money. Your pushback?
AVENATTI: Well, it hasn't been about the money. And in fact, had she wanted to sell her story to the highest bidder, she could have obtained far more than $130,000. And I think once and if she's ever to tell her story freely the American people are going to conclude --
CUOMO: Why didn't she speak before?
AVENATTI: Well, because I think she was respecting the fact that she was going to remain silent. And the problem is, is that Mr. Cohen a few months ago decided to start giving interviews and statements about what had transpired. And that's really not appropriate. It's not appropriate to have one side out there disseminating mistruths, half- truths, outright false statements, and at the same time, Ms. Daniels, Ms. Clifford is unable to speak her side and explain her position.
CUOMO: Now, look, we go through this on the fact analysis of how it happened because it becomes a matter of veracity. Who's telling the truth and who isn't.
But the starting preposition that the American people want to know what Stormy Daniels has to say. And that's got to be an open question, Counsel. Because people know about Donald Trump and his past and his behavior. He was weighed and measured. And they voted for him anyway, the people who put him in office. So this idea that this will be some kind of truth that people who have ever heard before. It's not going to be a little tough to deliver on. AVENATTI: Well, I don't think so. Because you have -- there's multiple aspects of this, honestly. You have what actually occurred between the two of them. And then they have the efforts to cover it up, including in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.
And then you have what has transpired since then, as it relates to the payment of $130,000, the refusal by Mr. Cohen and the administration to come clean about what really happened.
CUOMO: So of that affects you anyway, right? This is a contract. The preamble of which -- you know, as you know. You know all the paperwork. Says that the parties include and among, "D.D.," you know, easy name. But really the LLC and Ms. Daniels. And, you know, it was signed by Cohen on behalf of the LLC.
And we know law for an acceptance. You'll play with the law in California. But basically, you had a deal. It was a deal at her urging. The word is that she had been talking to networks, then went to Cohen through her counsel and said, "This is what they're going to pay me, 130 grand. Can you meet that, or I'm going to talk."
AVENATTI: That's false.
CUOMO: And so they cut a deal.
AVENATTI: That's absolutely false.
CUOMO: Now where did that come from?
AVENATTI: No, that's absolutely false.
CUOMO: How did it happen. I know you weren't involved at the time, but what's your understanding?
AVENATTI: That narrative is completely false. And I think when it --
CUOMO: She wasn't meeting with other news agencies?
AVENATTI: She was discussing the opportunity with other news agencies.
CUOMO: Then she wasn't respecting the silence.
AVENATTI: No, wait a minute. There was no deal at the time. She was not -- she was meeting with other news agencies. She was not looking to profit from this, quite honestly. And I think when she's able to tell her story, the American people are going to be able to judge her veracity, versus the veracity of Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen; and we're going to let them decide on who's telling the truth.
CUOMO: Are you worried that because she signed this deal, right, she was then exposed to the components of the deal? One of them was the arbitration. They went to an arbitrator. The arbitrator said you signed this deal. It's a good deal. And you can't -- it's a proper deal, not a good deal. And you can't even file this kind of lawsuit. And then she went out
and filed it anyway. But now you have this damages mechanism in there. And if you lose on the law, this appearance, everything that Daniels says, those will be amounting different penalties that you'll have to pay. Are you worried about that?
AVENATTI: Quite honestly, no. Because that's not what the arbitrator said. And in fact, when Mr. Cohen proceeded in that arbitration, he proceeded under the name of the LLC --
AVENATTI: -- which doesn't even have the right to proceed in arbitration, pursuant to the agreement. If he wanted to proceed in arbitration, he had to do so is on behalf of Mr. Trump. He did not do so. And I think it's pretty obvious as to why he didn't.
CUOMO: Why wasn't the LLC -- this may be too in the weeds for people.
AVENATTI: I think it probably is.
CUOMO: Because the law matters. But the LLC was what -- what brought the action and what he signed as a representative of it. That's where he got his money from is obviously another matter. He says it was from a credit line from his house. But why couldn't he bring this action? That's who signed it, was him on behalf of the LLC? He's the one with the rights.
AVENATTI: Because the agreement specifically provided that, for this course of action, it had to be "D.D." Let me also say this, because this hasn't been touched on.
AVENATTI: And it's critically important. Paragraph 8.6 of the agreement makes it clear that, if all parties, all parties -- "D.D," E.C., and Ms. Daniels -- if all parties do not sign the agreement, there's no deal. All parties did not sign the agreement. There's no deal.
[07:25:13] CUOMO: What do you think happens next? Do you think we get to see this on "60 Minutes" this week?
AVENATTI: Well, again, I certainly hope so, because I believe the American people deserve to hear her out. They deserve to know the truth on what happened relating to the payment of these monies, Chris, where they came from.
And -- and I don't understand what's so complicated about this. I don't understand why the president cannot come out and state unequivocally, did he know about the agreement, did he know about the payment, and did he have anything to do with the payment being made? Three very simple questions. You don't need 140 characters on Twitter in order to answer those three questions.
CUOMO: All right. Mr. Avenatti, thank you very much for making the case.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
CUOMO: Appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. So listen, this sounded like O.J. Simpson's lost confession. Did he admit to killing his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman in a 2006 interview? Our exclusive with Judith Regan, the woman who interviewed O.J., next.
CAMEROTA: In a bombshell interview, O.J. Simpson gives a hypothetical confession to the 1994 murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.