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Polygraph of Stormy Daniels; Ex-Playboy Model Lawsuit; Defamation Suit against Trump; Millions Bracing for Another Nor'easter; No Comment from Zuckerberg; Ex-Fox News Analyst Blasts Network. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 21, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:31:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is he? I --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is this guy? Why won't he come and sit --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he'll -- oh, he'll (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, why won't he come and sit in this chair --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because, obviously, there's other --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute, let me finish. Let me finish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no I want to answer that question because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, let me finish because he's been invited numerous times. He won't come on the show. He's dodging the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. Oh, no. OK, right, so -- he is not dodging the question. He has -- there are other --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's dodging the questions. He has (INAUDIBLE) you. Where is this guy? Where is this guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are other investigations going on.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What a mess. And that's just a glimpse of the legal swamp that the president finds himself stuck in this morning. Leave aside for a second this was a shouting match between a lawyer for an adult film actress and a lawyer for the president's lawyer.

In just the last 24 hours, results of a polygraph test found that a porn star was telling the truth about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. A second woman is now suing to get out of a non-disclosure agreement. And a state court ruled that a third would can sue the president himself in connection with a sexual misconduct incident. We are covering all the twists and contortions here.

Athena Jones with me. But I'm going to start with MJ Lee on the very latest with Stormy Daniels.


MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: There are so many headlines but let's start with that incredible polygraph test. Keep in mind, this was an interview that Stormy Daniels did in 2011 with "Life and style" magazine. And as a part of this interview, they asked her to take this polygraph test. Here's a photo from a video of that polygraph test.

Now, the polygraph report that we obtained yesterday shows that she was asked at least two specific questions. One was, did you have vaginal intercourse with Donald Trump around July 2006, and the second was, did you have unprotected sex with Donald Trump in July 2006. And Stormy Daniels answered yes to both. And the person who administered this test says that he had no reason to question that she was telling the truth. In other words, he determined that she did, in fact, have unprotected vaginal sex with Donald Trump.

Now, as I alluded to, just to make things a little bit more dramatic, there is video apparently of -- when she was taking this test. And Michael Avenatti telling CNN yesterday that he paid $25,000 to purchase this video because he wants to make sure that this video is protected during the litigation and not altered or destroyed. And, keep in mind, too, there could be more news coming in the next couple days. The "60 Minutes" interview is supposed to air on Sunday.

BERMAN: Yes. I bet it doesn't -- we'll get news before Sunday based on this --

LEE: Right. Right.

BERMAN: Based on Michael Avenatti.

OK, that's case number one.

Case number two here has to do with this former Playboy model Karen McDougal. What's going on here?

LEE: That's right. And this is along the themes of a woman who wants to speak out as well. This former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, says that she had a ten-month affair with Donald Trump. And she is now suing American Media, Inc., which is the company that owns "The National Enquirer." And what she is saying is that she was paid $150,000 but that the publication never ran the story. This is a practice that is commonly known as catch and kill. And she says that in addition to that, that the company has threatened to -- threatened her with, I should say, financial ruin. So this is the second woman now that we know of who wants to take legal action in order to be able to tell her story about Donald Trump.

BERMAN: All right, both of these cases deal with consensual relationships and non-disclosure agreement. This other case, Athena Jones, not consensual at all. It has to do with former apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. What's going on here?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So Summer Zervos says that Trump assaulted her in 2007 on a couple of occasions. She says he kissed her -- unwanted kisses. He, at one point, kissed her aggressively, touched her breast. She made these allegations in October of 2016, very close to the election.

That very same day, Trump -- then candidate Trump denied those allegation. He continued to deny all of this on Twitter, in campaign rallies, at debates. Not just allegations made by Summer Zervos, but also other woman who had come forward, saying they were all liars. This was 100 percent false. These are fabrication.

So Summer Zervos is arguing that she has been defamed because Trump called her a liar. She has been hurt emotionally and financially. This case is now being allowed to go forward.

[09:35:05] The Trump team had tried to argue that he has immunity from lawsuits in state courts, had tried to get the case postponed, saying that it would conflict with official duties, and it tried to argue that those repeated statements of denials were opinions that were protected as political speech. The judge dismissed all of that. Now his lawyers have ten days to respond.

BERMAN: All right, Athena Jones, MJ Lee, thanks very much.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates to try to understand this.

Let's try to move through it pretty quickly, if we can.

First, in dealing with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, I guess, what's noise here and what's legally important? The polygraph test, noise or legally important?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Noise, because most of the time those polygraph results are not going to be admissible in court. But in the court of public opinion, it buttresses the argument this is a forgone conclusion perhaps that an affair existed. But there are two buckets, what the public would like to know and what Stormy Daniels can say. Neither of those inquiries is for the court to figure out whether the underlying allegations are true. The NDA is going to be solid and valid. If the court finds that the contractual terms are OK, they have no regard for whether it's actually true, the allegations that are being covered by the NDA.

BERMAN: What would it take, in both the Stormy Daniels case and Karen McDougal, to declare these non-disclosure agreements void?

COATES: Well, normally it would take the idea that there is a public policy interest for the court. The courts are not going to go ahead and look behind everyone's motivations. The contractors say, you know what, you've got a raw deal, we're going to let you go ahead and renegotiate this contract. They will look dis-favorably on a contract if there's some reason that we should not disclose it, meaning it was void for some reason, the signature is probably not the easiest way to do it. But if there's fraud.

And the McDougal case is asserting at this point in time that she was duped and she had no idea what she was getting into, that her lawyer was probably playing both sides, if the allegations are true, and that she entered into a contract without really knowing what she was doing. And Stormy Daniels is very different because her argument is that, you know what, there has been violations of that contract that frees her from it. Both are uphill battles and both will have its day in court.

BERMAN: And, of course, if there are physical threats and we've been, you know, told that there were, that could be a whole separate thing. That could complicate things as well.

I do want to ask about Summer Zervos here because this could be the more serious legal issue for the president.


BERMAN: This is a defamation case that a state judge has now ruled can go forward. What's the jeopardy here for the president?

COATES: Oh, this is absolutely the biggest hurdle for the president of the United States because now you have a court in New York saying that a sitting president, and an incumbent, can be sued civilly in state court for things that he did when he wasn't president. Just last October you had like 75 or more cases that were in the pipeline in case this was to go down. And so now you have the Achilles' heel that everyone on his team has feared about the Mueller investigation, meaning what is the president of the United States going to say in an interview or a deposition?

Well, this most assuredly ensures that he will have to do just that. And so you've got the Achilles' heel that's now exposed and you have him opening up to other liability because when one person is able to bring a lawsuit against the president and there is no immunity in state court now, well, Clinton v Jones kind of goes out the water in that respect about it, and also it opens the flood gates, John. Today is Wednesday. By Friday you'll probably have a lot more cases ahead of us.

BERMAN: Does it matter that the precedent and the judge citing Clinton v Jones was a federal lawsuit, this is a state case?

COATES: It matters in the sense that the Supreme Court only said in Clinton v Jones that the president of the United States was not immune for actions prior to being president in a federal court. They never actually talked about the issue of state court. This is one of the first times the court has interpreted that to say, look, I'm going to use that logic to say, because the Supreme Court did not say that it applied to state courts, I'm going to use that logic here. I think it was the right call to make.

But again, John, it opens up the flood gates and it really shows you, when the judge said yesterday no one is above the law, I think you have an insight into how this case is going to go.

BERMAN: These are not going away. This is going to be a real issue for the president going forward.


BERMAN: All right, Laura Coates, thank you very much.

Tomorrow, right here on CNN, Anderson Cooper will sit down for an exclusive interview with Karen McDougal. Remember, she is the Playboy model who says that she has a non-disclosure agreement with the publishers to "The National Enquirer." She wants out of it now. This interview tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN. This will be a big moment in all of this.

In the meantime, a fourth nor'easter bearing down on the region is expected to bring more snow than the previous three storms combined. Oh, great. Seventy million people bracing for this. We're right in the middle of it.


[09:43:47] BERMAN: All right, new this morning, congressional aides say they expect a sweeping new federal spending bill to be filed in a matter of hours with just two days to go before the government runs out of money. A short-term continuing resolution will be necessary to even get to the bigger bill. This will give the Senate and House time to finalize the $1.3 trillion measure without the threat of another government shutdown.

The Illinois governor's race shaping up to be the most expensive in U.S. history. Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker, and incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner won their respective primaries last night. Rauner poured about $50 million of his own money into the campaign. Really barely squeezed out a victory. Pritzker spent $70 million in his primary. They will face off in November, putting money into the Illinois economy.

Meanwhile, the closely watched primary for Chicago area House seat just called moments ago. Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski won with a -- beat out his challenge, Marie Newman. The margin there, 51 to 49 percent. Newman conceded moments ago. Lipinski not supported by many members of the Democratic delegation, considered more conservative -- too conservative for some progressives.

Happening on Capitol Hill at this moment, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about to face questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding efforts to fight against foreign meddling in this year's elections. This after members of Congress said yesterday that the government has failed to protect against Russian cyberattacks in state and local elections.

[09:45:17] Former Obama Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson will also testify. This could get pretty contentious. Democrats not happy at all with the response so far from the administration on Russian meddling. We will keep our eye on that.

This morning, more than 70 million people are under winter storm warnings or advisories as the fourth nor'easter in three weeks is hitting the region at this moment. The storm could dump more than a foot of snow in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. That is a -- that's a lot. All right, some public schools already closed. More than 3,000 flights have been canceled.

Our Ryan Nobles, Yukon Cornelius, is right in Washington, D.C., with the very latest.

Ryan, what are you seeing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we woke up at 6:00 this morning here in Washington, D.C., and saw all kinds of green grass on the National Mall. Things have changed quite a bit just in the last hour.

You're supposed to see the Capitol Dome here behind me. It is completely gone. Despite that, both the House and Senate are in session here today in Washington, D.C. Pretty much everything else is closed. The federal government is shut down. The D.C. government is shut down. All the public schools in the region are shut down as well.

Take a look down here. This is the National Mall here behind me. Usually the Washington Monument easily seen. It has completely disappeared now as this snow starts to fall.

And what we're dealing with right now is a pretty thick, heavy, wet snow that is falling down. Super easy to make snowballs, John. So you can bet we'll see some snowball fights here on the National Mall today as this snow day continues.

Pretty much the roads right now still clear. It's pretty much easy to drive around this area. But that's in part because there just aren't a lot of people on the roads. So much is shut down here as this is going to impact a pretty wide stretch of the northeast coast.

So right now the snow is starting to come down. We're expecting a lot more as the day progresses.


BERMAN: Ryan Nobles, got the Mall all to himself.

Ryan, thanks very much.

All right, we do have breaking news out of Austin, Texas. Officials there have identified the bomber, the suspected bomber, who blew himself up this morning outside that city. His name is Mark Anthony Conditt. Officials before had said he was a 24 years old white male. There are reports now he was 23. Either 23 or 24 years old. Mark Anthony Conditt, identified as the now diseased suspect in the Austin serial bombings. More on that shortly.

In the meantime, where is FaceBook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg? His company losing billions in stock value in the middle of a personal data sharing scandal and not a peep on what he plants to do about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:52:23] BERMAN: FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still noticeably silent after a data harvesting scandal that rocked the social networking empire. The Federal Trade Commission is now asking questions about how and why up to 50 million users' personal data ended up with a political consulting firm tied to President Trump's campaign.

Joining me now, CNN's senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

Where is Mark Zuckerberg?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He is still silent. He's the only one really not talking about this. Lawmakers are talking about it. Regulators in other countries as well. A lot of users have questions about this. So far Zuckerberg has not said a word. According to the company, he and his COO, Sheryl Sandberg, are spending -- working around the clock trying to figure out what went wrong here, working on a response. So we'll see maybe later today -- maybe there will be more from FaceBook.

Today the stock is down another 2 percent, that means more -- more billions of dollars of value falling off this company. We've seen more than $50 billion of value wiped away so far this week. So that's a sign of how serious this is being taken by Wall Street.

BERMAN: It's interesting, you know, he's the cause of bipartisanship, which is rare right now. You have both Republicans and Democrats really ticked off and wanting to see him on Capitol Hill.

STELTER: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: And so far he's been nonresponsive to that.

All right, senior media reporter, there's a big media story this morning from our colleagues over at Fox News. A sort of dramatic exit. What went on here?

STELTER: A remarkable exit letter by a Fox News contributor named Ralph Peters. He's been a long time analyst on the channel. A big critic of President Obama. A fan of President Trump. SO it's remarkable to hear this person, of all people, saying Fox is a propaganda machine.

We can put on screen part of what he said in this dramatic exit letter. He says, today I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers.

This is a Fox employee talking about Fox.

He went on to say that he was proud of the network when he was working there for a while, but no more. He says now he's no longer proud to be there. He's choosing not to renew his contract.

Fox is responding by saying, we respect his opinion, even though he's just trying to get attention out of all of this on the way out the door.

But, John, I've never seen anything quite like this. A contributor from Fox News basically blowing the whistle and saying, this is propaganda. And like I said, this is not a liberal at Fox. This is one of their conservative commentators. So I think there could be some fallout from this. After all, there's been a lot of -- a lot of Fox critics who have been saying stuff like this for a long time. You know, Democrats who say that Fox News hurts the country by having these pro-Trump hosts who spout talking points every night. But to actually hear it from the inside is something different.

[09:55:02] BERMAN: I'm sure there will be more in the newsletter tonight.


BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, new details on the man behind the string of bombings in Austin, Texas. We have breaking news on this right after the break.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

This morning we do have breaking news.

The suspected Austin serial bomber is dead. Moments ago police identified him as 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt. Police say this man blew himself up as a SWAT team was approaching his car. Now despite his death, police are warning that this threat is not over.

[10:00:11] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours.