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Pressure on Trump; Storm hits East Coast; Trump Infuriated over Leak. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 21, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Why? Right to -- why is it so important for you to tell your story and why do you want to tell it now? And part of that came up last night here on our air with Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti. And we're hearing from the other side too.

I want to take a listen to that and then get your take.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: Why is it so important to your friend and the president of the United States to keep this woman under wraps, to keep her under the thumb, to shut her up? Why is it so important?


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": You know, let me --

SCHWARTZ: I can tell you -- I can tell you why it's important.

AVENATTI: No, let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish.

SCHWARTZ: I can tell you.

AVENATTI: Why -- why is that so important? Why not -- why not let her come forward? It's important -- it's important to every single person --

SCHWARTZ: Well, let's answer your question first. Moving forward, it's important -- it's important to every single person that enters into a non-disclosure agreement. People do this -- people do this in order to avoid litigation and avoid the embarrassment to family, to business, to reputation. That's why people enter into these. You know why people enter into these contracts. They're entered into all the time.


HILL: So, look, if you -- and if you're taking what he's saying at face value, yes, they enter into them for reasons and they do it knowingly.

So then why do we want to change things now? Why do we want to keep -- or why do we want to keep them in place? You can see both sides. But break it down for me here. Why does this really matter?

NANCY ERIKA SMITH, REPRESENTS GRETCHEN CARLSON: Well, people who enter into NDA agreements aren't the president of the United States. We happen to live in a democracy. This president has been lacking transparency since he wouldn't give us his tax returns. But his behavior is more important to the public. The public has an interest in how the president of the United States conducts himself.

We -- how do we know this? They impeached Bill Clinton because he lied about a consensual relationship. We know this because Donald Trump held a press conference with all of his accusers somehow in order to tarnish Hillary Clinton. The people have a right to know about the conduct of their president, especially a president who's loved by white evangelicals, they're his base, who want to tell gay people they can't have rights based on their religion, and their religion prevents women from making private medical decisions and policy should be based on those religious principles. And here we have a president who wants to hide his own behavior. He's the president. He's not anybody.

HILL: So let me ask you, is it about that behavior or is it about legally what we're seeing? And I don't mean just -- I mean there's -- so there's the question of, is it the behavior of an alleged affair, that's one thing, that a lot of people aren't all that upset about. Yes, maybe -- maybe it's men behaving badly but, you know, this is sort of what we get, or is it more the behavior you're your point, from a legal standpoint. And if that is it, we are seeing this constant drip, drip, drip of information from Stormy Daniels and from her attorney, Michael Avenatti. Is that working? Is that working in terms of -- obviously it's keeping the story out there, but is it changing -- in your view, is it changing the narrative and what we know about it?

SMITH: Well, I hope it is because, as they said in the Nixon impeachment, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. And when you have a president of the United States making a fake name in order to shut up somebody weeks before the election, and now we know his friends are doing catch and kill with other women who have stories about him, if he wasn't holding himself up to be literally the evangelical president, Jesus speaks to him, God brought him to us, maybe it would be even less relevant.

But the public has a right to know about the character of the president. He said that himself repeatedly throughout the election. Republicans talk about character more than anybody.

HILL: So one of the things that sticks out in two of these cases here -- so let's put Stormy Daniels aside for a moment -- but we're also looking at -- we've got this ruling yesterday with Summer Zervos, who was in -- a contestant on "The Apprentice." And she had filed a defamation suit against the president because he called her a liar, among other things. He said, listen, number one, I'm the president, so this really can't happen right now, when they were going back. And then also that his speech was protected because it was political speech. So he's protected under the First Amendment. The judge said, this doesn't stand. This isn't going to happen. What's fascinating to me is, that happened, right, and at the same time we're hearing from this other woman, a former playmate, who says that she sold her story for $150,000. It was never published. Now he's also claiming that her story falls under First Amendment protections because it's also political speech. It's fascinating that we have two different sides in two different cases, but they're both using a similar argument.

SMITH: Right. I don't think it's political speech to call somebody a liar. I don't think that can be called political speech. But it might be political speech to say I have information about the president, which shows his character and that he's a hypocrite.

HILL: Which one of these three cases has the most teeth legally?

SMITH: I think that the summer Zervos case does because she can now subpoena all the other NDAs that's going to be relevant to her case, what he said about other women, and whether he lies about his behavior with other women. And we just saw on Cosby the judge ruled that five other women can testify about this pattern of behavior. So she can -- she can subpoena all the other NDAs and take his deposition as we know from Clinton versus Paula Jones -- Paula Jones versus Clinton.

[08:35:09] HILL: That could take months. It could take years, really.

SMITH: Hopefully it will take months.

HILL: Two seconds, do you think it will happen?

SMITH: Yes. Absolutely.

HILL: All right, Nancy, always good to talk to you. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

HILL: Tomorrow night, former playmate Karen McDougal shares her story exclusively with Anderson Cooper. You can see it right here, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, on "AC 360."


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, big headline this morning, Austin police say the suspected serial bomber is dead. But they say there is still perhaps a threat of more explosions. Why? Next.


CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

The suspected serial bomber who terrorized the city of Austin for nearly three weeks is dead. Austin police confirming the man blew himself up using an explosive device. Authorities are warning people in the area, however, to remain vigilant in case he left more package bombs behind.

HILL: Stormy Daniels' attorney releasing a 2011 polygraph report that found Daniels was truthful about having unprotected sex with President Trump. The adult actress hoping to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed with the president's attorney for $130,000 in exchange for her silence.

[08:40:09] CUOMO: President Trump at the center of two other lawsuits involving other women. One by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says the owners of the "National Enquirer" paid her to bury her story. The other, a Manhattan judge rejecting Trump's motion to dismiss a 2007 claim by "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos who says he groped her.

HILL: President Trump under fire for congratulating Vladimir Putin on his election win despite warnings from top advisers not to do it. "The Washington Post" reporting he even ignored note cards that said do not congratulate in all caps.

CUOMO: Incumbents on both sides of the aisle prevailing in the Illinois primaries. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will face billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker in what could be the most expensive governor's race in history.

HILL: For more on the "Five Things to Know," just head to for the latest.

CUOMO: More than 70 million people along the East Coast are bracing for yet another nor'easter on the first full day of spring no less. Cities like New York, Philly, Washington, they're going to get more snow this time than the previous three storms combined.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers tracking the storm.

We were watching it heavy in D.C. early this morning. Still not much here in New York.


CUOMO: False hope?

MYERS: No, no, it's coming.

HILL: Great!

MYERS: It's raining and sleeting in New York right now, even at JFK, because the air is dry but it's still warm. This air will cool down as the low exits the U.S. into the ocean and then drags down the cold air from the north.

Now, there's already ten inches of snow all across central Pennsylvania, right into parts of central Maryland. It's (INAUDIBLE). So it has been snowing all night and still is. But the snow does get to the northeast. It's been sleeting and raining in Philly, sleeting and raining in D.C., and the same story even up toward New York City. It will start as that even in Boston.

But it will eventually get colder and cold enough to make heavy snow for like 18 hours. And that's the rub. You get a half an inch an hour. That's nine inches of snow. You get an inch an hour, you can just do the math there, that's 18.

So this is going to be a forecast, I think, maybe between -- somewhere between six and ten for most of the big cities, but there will be places without a doubt that will get 18 inches of snow before it's all done.

This is the latest model. The big blast of the heaviest snow is for the Poconos, right on over toward the Berkshires. And that's where it's snowing right now. And it will be snowing hard for most of the day.

Chris, Erica, back to you.

CUOMO: All right, bud. It's coming. We get it.

MYERS: Yes, it is.

CUOMO: Time to make due.

President Trump furious over the latest White House leaks about his phone call with Vladimir Putin. New CNN reporting, next.

HILL: And a comedian finds her calling in the wake of tragedy and achieves viral fame after appearing on "The Price is Right." Her story on "Turning Points."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very happy to be here debuting my new look, which is aggressively fat yet still very judgy (ph).

I'm Danielle Perez (ph) and I'm a standup comedian.

When I was 20, I was living in San Francisco, living that whole sex and the city life. I was run over by a (INAUDIBLE) streetcar. I came to in the hospital and my mother says to me, Danielle, you don't have any feet.

My legs were amputated below the knee. I was in such denial about the reality. That denial allowed me to get out of the house, learn how to drive, but it also delayed that healing process.

I got very depressed after that. My best friend, her roommate was a standup comedian. So we started going to a lot of his shows. By the third one I was like, I could do this. I started going to open mikes and I just fell in love with it.

I was on "The Price is Right" and I won a treadmill and a walk-in sauna. That video went viral. I was even contacted by "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

I guess I'll just do what everyone else does, is just use it as a piece of furniture.

Standup comedy has helped me heal because it's really given me purpose. What I try to convey is like it's OK to be yourself.



[08:48:32] CUOMO: All right, so CNN has learned that President Trump is infuriated over a leak to "The Washington Post." The paper reporting the president's national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election victory. But the president did it anyway.

Let's discuss with CNN senior political commentator Jennifer Granholm and CN political commentator Steve Cortez, a former Trump campaign adviser.

It's good to have you both here.


CUOMO: Forget about -- of course he's angry. Nobody likes leaks. You know, you ran the governor's shop in Michigan. You don't like leaks. Nobody wants leaks. OK.


CUOMO: Yes, you never had a single leak. Not that you want to remember anyways.

So, let's talk about the substance of the matter. He has the call. He congratulates the president. The national security advisor didn't want him doing that. Why? Because they don't believe in the democracy of the process there.

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: And because they believe that this man is actively inimical to the United States as a cause --

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: And they wanted him to point some of those things out and the president doesn't are you OK with that?

CORTES: Well, I'm not OK with leaking under any circumstances, particularly when it -- in regards to national security, because this isn't just bad behavior, Chris, this is a crime. And this has been happening throughout the Trump presidency, that highly classified, highly secure documents are being leaked to the media. So this needs to be figured out. Somebody needs to be put in handcuffs, quite frankly. So --

CUOMO: Well, he's got to inspire more loyalty among his people also by maybe staying on message and doing what they advise him to do. How about that? CORTES: But he's the president. That's the problem there. That's my other issue, OK? The president does not take his orders from anyone, including even very important advisers, like the National Security Council.

CUOMO: But do you like the call he made in terms of what he said to Putin and what he didn't say. Are you OK with that?

[08:50:03] CORTES: Well, we don't know exactly what he said. But, you know, I find it ironic, for instance, he was asked about this yesterday in the Oval Office during the pool spray with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He was asked why he didn't criticize Putin. Well, was he supposed to also turn to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and start immediately criticizing their civil rights record, their human rights record in Saudi Arabia?

In other words, there's a lot of leaders around the world who don't operate by American standards. We know that. It doesn't mean that we can pick and choose the leaders of the world. It does mean we have to negotiate and work with them for our interests, including some really bad guys, and Putin's one of them.

CUOMO: Well, and, clearly, he's been doing that with Saudi Arabia all along, privately and now publicly.

What do you think of this situation?

GRANHOLM: First of all, I think that the -- I understand the concern about leaks. But I think the bigger issue is the fact that he would not stand up for America's interests when people here are being impacted today by the Russian intervention in our election, in our electric grid.

One of the impacts that our allies are feeling, because our -- does he support NATO? Is he going to stand up for his strongest ally? The -- you know, Great Britain? What is -- what's the impact on staff? There's a reason why this leaked, because staff is horrified that he's not following their suggestions. How does this impact Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has to stand up there and defend it? How does it affect Mike Pence, who today is giving a speech at the OAS criticizing Venezuela about having fair elections -- fair and free elections? So the impact on them.

And then you look at the impact on the Republicans, who were asked about this in a gaggle, you know, yesterday and they were like stunned because they've got to go out and defend it, not just the ones who were elected today, but the ones who are running for office. It has a trickle effect that's terrible.

CORTES: But I think to -- what I would defend -- again, we don't know exactly what went on in the phone call. What I -- what I can defend, because it's known, are the policies of Donald Trump regarding Russia. You know, we're constantly told by his critics that he's somehow a puppet of Putin. Well, he's not a very good puppet if he is, because what he has done? He's armed the Ukraine. He's slapped sanctions on the Soviet Union -- or, excuse me, on Russia. He went to Warsaw and gave probably the most anti-Russia speech since the Cold War. So both in words and deeds he's making life difficult for Vladimir Putin. So --

CUOMO: Do you believe that? Do you think that he's been too tough on Russia or tough --

GRANHOLM: No. I mean, come on. I mean, Steve --

CORTES: The --

GRANHOLM: Why do you think he's getting all of this criticism? It's not just because people want to criticize Trump. It's because objectively he has been in a bromance with Putin. He never -- he never confronts him face-to-face.

CORTES: The reason --

GRANHOLM: He never talks about it. I mean if you look at the readout of the two -- you say you don't know what happened on the calls, it's because the U.S., in its readout, had four sentences. The reason why we know what happened is because the Russian readout was much more transparent. It had 11 topics --


GRANHOLM: That were discussed --

CORTES: Right.

GRANHOLM: A full six paragraphs. The bottom line is, he, for whatever weird reason -- or maybe there's something to it, he cannot bring himself to criticize Putin in the same way --

CORTES: But, hold on --

GRANHOLM: That he brings himself to criticize people like Kim Jong-un. He can't do it.

CORTES: It's unfair to single out Russia. For example, he's had a lot of interactions with the premier of China, with Xi. I've never seen him publically --

GRANHOLM: He has criticized --


GRANHOLM: You go through his Twitter feed. He has criticized China.

CORTES: He has not publically -- he has not publically criticized them for their human rights record, right, which is -- which is demonstrably worse than Russia's, for that matter.

GRANHOLM: OK. And I -- and maybe he should. And maybe he should.

But the point is, the leader of the United States has to set an example and set a tone for what we will accept around the world. CORTES: I agree.

GRANHOLM: We pushed democracy around the world. The fact that he attacked us --

CORTES: That's why we're arming the Ukraine.

GRANHOLM: It was an attack on us. It was Russia declaring war on us by attacking our election.

CORTES: I think --

GRANHOLM: He can't say anything about that?

CORTES: I think what this is really about, and the reason that people focus so much on Russia, is there is still -- there's almost a neurosis on the left. People still can't accept that he won in 2016 and they need to come up with an excuse. They need to come up with a boogieman, with a scapegoat.

GRANHOLM: Oh, come on, Steve.

CORTES: And Russia, sadly, for whatever reason, has become that convenient --

CUOMO: But you can't undo the win. None of this -- nothing is ever going to happen --

CORTES: Well, they're trying to. All I hear is resist and impeach and --

CUOMO: Well, it depends on who the "they" is.


CUOMO: You know, if you're talking about like, you know, big mouths on Twitter, who cares what they say. It's about, you know, our official process and our institutions. We have a president whose name is Donald Trump. It's just unusual that this man will come after me for something that I say on a TV show when I'm, you know, relatively inconsequential to him. But Vladimir Putin plays a stupid video with missiles crashing down on Florida, directed right where he spends most of his time at Mar-a-Lago --

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: Not a word. It's just odd.

CORTES: Right. But, Chris, let me ask you the question then. Why? Why is he -- is he --

CUOMO: I don't know. I asked him this morning to give us the answer. I don't believe I have any proof that Vladimir Putin has any kind of specific control over Donald Trump, but that's what makes his behavior so odd because this is a man who's always spoiling for a fight. You know this about him. It's what you guys like about him, but not with Putin. And that's why I'm asking him, don't worry about arguing about Mueller.

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: Mueller's not going anywhere if he's in his right mind, but why don't you tell us why you're doing this?

CORTES: Well, maybe he hasn't gotten in a verbal fight. I'll agree with you on that. And I don't know if he should or shouldn't. That's up to him. He -- we elected him to be commander in chief, but he is --

CUOMO: He could have slapped these sanctions on day one when Congress passed them, but they didn't.

GRANHOLM: From day one.

CORTES: He's gotten into a literal fight by arming the Ukraine. Something that Putin hates. He also got into a literal fight by raining American cruise missiles onto a base in Syria where there were Russian jets. So this is not a man who's afraid to confront Russia or to confront Putin.

[08:55:11] GRANHOLM: Policy (ph).

CUOMO: Well, we'll see. He's going to have a chance, he says, upcoming --

GRANHOLM: We'll see. Mueller will --

CUOMO: That they're going to meet. We'll see what he decides to do there, if not only for his own personal interests, he's got to take care of his allies. And the U.K. has a serious beef with Putin right now.


CUOMO: Appreciate the spirited discussion, as always.

All right, it's hump day. What do you say, how about a little "Good Stuff" action? We'll get to that, next.


CUOMO: All right, time for "The Good Stuff."

A young boy rushes to save his neighbor's life. This is a good one, all right. So, the nine-year-old boy is Malachi (ph). He heard his neighbor, Alan (ph), calling for help. It turns out Alan was changing his oil when his car fell on top of him, OK. Malachi jumped into action using a nearby jack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how he did it, but that little fellow (INAUDIBLE) about two feet long, that jack, and he jacked that car completely up off me.


CUOMO: Malachi says he's no hero. He did what anyone would do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Alan, I hope you feel better.


[09:00:03] HILL: Nine.

CUOMO: I love this kid. But he is wrong. He did not do something that anybody else could do. That was hard. First of all, is everybody always thinking about helping? Maybe, maybe not. To get a jack and jack up a car