Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Throws a Very Public Temper Tantrum; Trump Regrets Signing the Budget Bill; Trump Campaign Officials Encouraged Papadopoulos To Meet With Foreign Contacts; Fred FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Fires Back at the President; Similarities Between Stormy Daniels' And Karen McDougal's Stories About Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 22:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The president of the United States threw a very public temper tantrum today. First he threatened to veto the $1.3 trillion budget bill that will keep the federal government open for business through September. Then he signed it away, then he suddenly called a news conference and trashed the bill some more.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old.


LEMON: So that is the very same bill President Trump's own team worked on every step of the way. But the president wasn't done complaining. He blamed Democrats for failing to include money for DACA, even though he is the one who ordered the end of the program. He said he wants the power of a line item veto, which is the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional 20 years ago.

And he insisted the Senate should scrap the filibuster which had absolutely nothing to do with this. And which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has bluntly said will not happen.

All of this, again just one big presidential temper tantrum. The president knew he had to sign the bill, but he also knew his base would be furious about the lack of funding for his long promised wall. So, he signed it behind closed doors. That wasn't the big thing where -- you know, he does this with the paper and shows you what he's signing.

He held a so-called closed news conference with no actual questions from reporters about -- someone who shouted the ones to the president as he was walking out the door. Watch this.


TRUMP: Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, is Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal lying about the affairs?


LEMON: Just camera clicks. The president didn't answer that. Maybe he didn't hear. Then I guess he also didn't hear CNN's Jeff Zeleny asking the president, as he was heading to Marine One on his way to Mar-a- Lago, here it is.


JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Will you watch 60 Minutes on Sunday, Mr. President?


LEMON: Stormy Daniels attorney who tweeted out a picture of a DVD late last night with a caption, if a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is this worth? He told Wolf Blitzer this today.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: The tweet is a warning shot. I want to be really clear about this. It is a warning shot.


LEMON: So, much more on that in just a few minutes. We have a whole lot to cover here on a Friday night. I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst Mr. Mark Preston, national security analyst Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times, and political analyst Kirsten Powers, a columnist for "USA Today," and former Congressman David Jolly.

Happy Friday to everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. Let's talk about this Mark. Seriously, usually we see this--

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Big sweeping signatures, too.

LEMON: Why didn't we see that today?

PRESTON: We didn't see that today because everything that he ran on and I know some people have said he didn't necessarily run as a fiscal conservative. Everything that he ran on as a Republican, he went back against in order to try to get this bill through today.

He knew that the Republicans were having trouble on Capitol Hill, but the fact of the matter is, Don, that Donald Trump was upset. Donald Trump was angry that he didn't get all the money for the wall, and he needed a distraction. The news hasn't been so good for him and certainly in his personal life in the last 48 hours, and he needed a distraction. And if you need any proof of that, why did he do this today? Why

wasn't the president out front on Monday and Tuesday saying, we need to get our spending down, we need to get this bill done, we're coming up against a deadline, we didn't really hear much from him other than what was happening behind the scenes with White House aides crafting this bill.

LEMON: Well, the White House helping this, I want to ask Matthew Rosenberg. And there was, though, $1.6 billion in there for securing the border wall, right? Wasn't there 1.6 billion in there?

PRESTON: Yes, yes, but not all of that can be used to build the wall in of that money--

LEMON: It's existing.

PRESTON: -- it's existing fencing.


PRESTON: So it's not even true quite frankly.

LEMON: So then if he helped to craft this, then why the tantrum, Matthew or saying, I will never sign a bill like this again or pretending maybe he's not going to sign it. What was that all about?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Look, this is a guy who's used to getting what he wants. He ran a small family business, you know, everybody worked for him, he owned the company, there was no separation of powers, there were no people to be negotiated with, I think this is -- it remains an incredibly difficult situation for President Trump to manage. He has a strong personality to manage, I mean, we all have bad days, you know. I can throw tantrums too. 9

[22:04:56] But so publicly over the affairs of state over budget for our government, it's one of the things you're looking at a guy who is not used to the restrictions on power that he doesn't think he should have.

LEMON: Kirsten, I want to read, this is from "The Wall Street Journal." There's a portion it says, "White House aides huddled with Mr. Trump and warned him that he might catch blame for shutting down the government on a weekend he planned to spend at his Palm Beach Florida resort. F that Mr. Trump said in rejecting the argument according to people familiar with the discussion." How do you read this, Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think -- look, he should be unhappy with it because it doesn't represent his priorities. But you have to ask how did that happen? Because he had his staff working with people in Congress, and again the Republicans as we talk about all the time do control Congress. And so he's the head of the Republican Party theoretically.

So, the things that he's upset about are, he didn't get the funding for the wall, that's because he wouldn't strike a deal with the Democrats. The Democrats were actually willing to give him the funding that he wanted if he gave them a deal on DACA. Instead he came back and he asked for a whole bunch of other things that the Democrats just couldn't give him.

He didn't get the funding that he want -- or he get funding cut off to sanctuary cities which has been a major priority of his as well. And they in fact increased funding on a lot of programs he wanted to see cut.

So here we have the man who told us he's the best deal maker there is, he's going to come in and he's going to strike deals and he gets this horrible deal that doesn't represent his priorities, of course he wants to veto it, but he really can't because his staff negotiated that.

LEMON: Yes. There is some other breaking news I want to get to, but just before I get to that I want to ask you, congressman. The president called for two things that aren't going to happen.


LEMON: He wants the Congress to give him a line item veto. The Supreme Court actually deem that unconstitutional 20 years ago. He wants to get rid of the filibuster rule in the Senate. Both things are not happening. So, does he understand how this works?

JOLLY: No, he doesn't, Don. And listen, this is the biggest wholesale failure legislatively of Donald Trump's administration, there's no two ways about that. Recall he proposed a budget that cut a whole lot of domestic programs, all of those cuts were rejected. In fact, Democratic priorities were funded in this bill.

And so the fact that he tried to nuance his way into signing this, frankly, is a disappointment to his base. There's no other way around that. I mean, this is a complete abdication to the swamp.

And Donald Trump signed a bill today that represents not only what we've seen in the past, but something that Republican Congresses have issued in recent years, they gave him a larger domestic budget than anything President Obama ever had and Donald Trump signed it today, he caved.

LEMON: There's also breaking news tonight I want to report. The White House tonight announcing a ban to prevent most transgender persons from serving in the military. He is following through on a pledge that he first made on twitter last year. Mark, why is this being announced with President Trump done in Mar-a-Lago on a Friday night?

PRESTON: Well, clearly they want to bury it. I mean, it's obviously an issue that the Trump administration has struggled with. The good thing about this, though, Don, is that if there can be any good that you find in this, is that it doesn't ban all transgender folks from serving in the military. But it put out a clear guideline.

Those guidelines having just looked at them, certainly come into question, because part of those guidelines, Don, say that if you have had some surgery or you're going to require surgery, then that would disqualify you from serving in the military.

You got to say yourself would you say that to a woman who's going to have a baby. Would you say that to anybody who signs up and say, look, you may get cancer, like, we may have to pay for your health care down for something else down the road? So it's a little interesting that they did that way.

LEMON: There is someone (INAUDIBLE) Go ahead, Kirsten, what would you want to say?

POWERS: Well, look, I mean, when we talk about this a while back they spend more on Viagra than they would ever spend on the surgery for transgender people, and so the idea that somehow which they've said before that this is some sort of -- it's too expensive, that it's going to harm them, is absurd.

And then the statement that came out from Sarah Sanders, there was this definite implication that it could somehow undermine military readiness. Which it doesn't make sense, if you're going to let them stay in if they're already in, then you're acknowledging that it's not affecting military readiness. So I think this is a really terrible decision on their part.

LEMON: Well, Matthew, today's drama is 100 percent self-made. The White House was involved in crafting this bill that we talked about just moment ago, also what's happened with the transgender bill on a Friday night.

If the president was really concerned about these issues, number one, would he -- if he really care that much, would he do it on Friday night and then go? But when it comes to this budget, he could have said something before, right? I mean, is this attributable to too much cable news watching executive time? Is it because there's a revolving door at the White House? Why all of this drama?

[22:09:55] ROSENBERG: I mean, I'm going to guess all of them, all of the above there. You know, the president could have come out this week, he could have come out last week, and started working for a bill he wanted. Instead he sat back, and what he got he didn't want. It wasn't really what he wanted. So he complained about it and then he signed it.

The transgender ban, it sounds like policy kind of created a pit of campaign promise, but not actually matching the facts and the experts that have done a number of reports and a number of studies.

LEMON: Could it be though at the end of week where he knows that people are upset about his budget that he's trying to change the headlines?

ROSENBERG: You know, at this White House it could be hard to tell from minute to minute. It's sort of looks like that's one of the things they want to do here, you know, let's shift it here. This is -- this is a policy that's going to be a lot less unpopular than a number of other things the White House has done. And I think they know that with their base this will play well. LEMON: All right. Lots more to talk about, everyone, so hold your thoughts. When we come right back, fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fires back at the president.


LEMON: This week has been one more tsunami of breaking news. The Mueller investigation, to the Putin phone call, to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, to the replacement of H.R. McMaster with John Bolton.

Back with me, Mark Preston, Matthew Rosenberg, Kirsten Powers, and David Jolly. I could go on but we only have so much time in this broadcast.

Matthew, let's talk about your reporting. It connects two big stories this week. The data harvesting from Cambridge Analytica and John Bolton. What are you learning?

[22:14:57] ROSENBERG: Well, Bolton was one of Cambridge Analytica's kind of first and earliest customers. And you look at the paper work, they signed up specifically for this kind of psychographic profiling that Cambridge claimed it could offer. How effective that ever was is still a huge question.

But, I mean, they were really close. There was a point in October 2014 where Cambridge Analytica was writing talking points for Bolton to explain his work with this new company in their ability to psychologically profile a voter so they can give them specific messages.

You know, I think some of this is that Robert Mercer the very wealthy Republican kind of patron who backed Trump. He also backed Bolton's PAC. He's going to connect a lot of republicans into Cambridge Analytica because Cambridge Analytica was his company.

But, you know, this is the company that harvested Facebook data under false pretenses. Misused it. Its chief executive has been suspended this week because he was caught on camera bragging that they send prostitutes to seduce, you know, politicians of rival candidates in foreign elections and they bribed people. And this is a company in a lot of trouble and its association with the Republicans is going to be an issue.

LEMON: And you spoke to Cambridge Analytica's whistleblower Christopher Wylie. I spoke to him as well.


LEMON: For your piece. And he told you Bolton's PAC was interested in ways to make people more militaristic?

ROSENBERG: I think, you know, John Bolton has been very clear about his vision for the world. And he is somebody who has advocated a lot of use in military force and a lot times in his career. So it does go to figure that if he's running a PAC and there are for national security he wants to see a more robust kind of aggressive American posture.

I think the way Chris put it is that Bolton thought Americans were limp wristed and spineless and he need to stiffen them up.

LEMON: Kirsten, you know, one thing to make people more militaristic is stiffen them up, what do you think this says about Bolton and how he'll look at his position as national security advisor.

POWERS: It's just completely consistent with who he's always been. You know, it's who he was when he was in the Bush administration, and he was pushing for the war in Iraq. It's who he was when he was an ambassador to the United Nations and was advocating -- I mean, hawkish doesn't even begin to capture his world view.

I mean, there's almost no problem that he doesn't think a military strike or all out war wouldn't solve. And so I think he's even talked to about recently a military strike against North Korea. He has extreme views. And to say I want to make the country more militaristic versus I'd like to persuade people, you know, on some policies.

I mean, these are very different things and I think it sorts -- it suggests almost sort of like I want to brainwash people into having this militaristic view, and to think that he's going to be the person, you know, advising the president is a pretty scary thing.

LEMON: Yes. You took the words out in my mouth. I was going to say brainwashing.


LEMON: And it's interesting that people can be manipulated, how, you know, people can be manipulated without even knowing that they're being manipulated.

PRESTON: Well, you know what's amazing too, is that especially with all the reporting we've seen out of CNN and out of New York Times out of Matthew and his colleagues, especially when it comes to Facebook. Is that people we've all known that all of these companies, these social media companies have taken our data.

We don't necessarily know what they've used it for. LEMON: Right.

PRESTON: And people seem to be OK with it. This is actually a very big moment in time, I think, because we even heard Mark Zuckerberg say that, you know, the other night that perhaps Facebook needs to be regulated. We just don't know what the regulations are, but now we are seeing the real dirty underbelly of politics right now, with what's happening with Cambridge Analytica and this Facebook data.

LEMON: I think it should -- of course it should be regulated. And I think the bots should be removed, and they should go through and somehow scrub fake accounts and all of that. You should -- you should have to put your information. I think you should put your name there, I think you should be required to put your name and it shouldn't be anonymous on Twitter so you can be held accountable for it. PRESTON: Right.

LEMON: David, listen, I have to ask you about John Bolton's PAC contributed to your House campaign, right? What do you make of all of this--

JOLLY: Right.

LEMON: -- and Bolton having the president's ear. I mean, he's an ideologue, does that seem like a good fit with the president?

JOLLY: Look, it raises concern, and so here's what I would say about that, I love this question, Don, because of this.

I had grave concerns about Barack Obama's foreign policy, right. The Republican notion of leaving from behind, the gaps in the Middle East, and some of his questions with Russia, which seemed juvenile compared to what we're seeing from Donald Trump.

But what I know now is this. I would rather have ideological questions about a president's foreign policy, than judgment questions about a foreign policy, and so yes, Josh Bolton -- or John Bolton did contribute to my campaign. His super PAC certainly did, but what I know now is that we have a president who reacts to the last person who has his ear. And I think that's a grave concern, right.

John Bolton when I was a -- I've met him one time. And I know him to be a hawkish as defined by the most ardent hawks. The president deserves to be counseled by hawks and doves.

[22:20:05] The concern is the president as arbiter of that information. And that is where the distrust lies. I don't see eye to eye with John Bolton on everything. I certainly don't. But the concern is the judgment of the President of the United States and who he listens to. And I think the transition of the national security team in the last two weeks is of grave concern to the republic.

LEMON: So my question was, does that seem like a good fit with the president? You don't think it's a good fit?

JOLLY: No, I don't simply because of the president's temperament, right. The president is continuing to surround himself by hardliners and the president is not somebody who has shown himself to be of reason and of judgment.

LEMON: Got it. Mark, I want to switch gears and I want to talk about Andrew McCabe, the recently fired deputy director of the FBI. He was fired less than two days before he was supposed to retire. And here's what -- he wrote an op-ed for "The Washington Post" and here's what he said in part.

He said, "President Trump's cruelty reminded me of the days immediately following the firing of James B. Comey as the White House desperately tried to push the falsehood that people in the FBI was celebrating the loss of our director. The president's comments about me were equally hurtful and false which shows that he has no idea how FBI people feel about their leaders."

He isn't going out quietly. He's describing the president as cruel in this.

PRESTON: Well, the president is cruel in this. I mean, just the way they go about firing James Comey, and of course now McCabe. I mean, if you go look if you read that whole op-ed it notes that McCabe found out that he was fired from a friend who said he saw it on CNN, that CNN was reporting it back he was fired -- that's when he went and saw--


LEMON: He found it on CNN. Comey was--

PRESTON: Was out in Los Angeles and found out--


LEMON: Found out from the news as well. Tillerson reportedly from Twitter. This has--



LEMON: This has become --

PRESTON: Let me answer the question this way, I ran into an FBI agent, high ranking agent, who I know a little bit. Last week, and he said to me, you know, I don't watch TV any more. And I said why don't you watch TV? And he said because I'm sick and tired of the FBI just getting hammered all the time.

And I had to say, listen, I don't want to talk about work with you, you know, I understand there's a lot of pressure on you, but understand this, the American people don't believe or support what Donald Trump is saying about the FBI. He may have some of his supporters, but the majority of the people don't. I think that support.

LEMON: You think the majority of the people don't? Do you think--


PRESTON: I think in the end I think that we can go out and we can do stories and we fan the flames and we can talk to the 37 percent or 36 percent of the people who support Donald Trump, but I think that if you would talk to the other 60 percent of the American people who look at the FBI, especially if you know somebody who's in law enforcement, it's a lot easier to be dismissive of president Trump's attacks.

LEMON: I just wonder, Kirsten, I mean, you having, you know, worked at different networks and you know what the information that some other networks put out regarding the FBI and regarding this president is not always -- it's not always faxable and right on, do you think that most people -- you know, do you agree with Mark about most people not feeling that way about the FBI?

POWERS: Well, I think that he had -- I think the president's attacks have eroded the trust in the FBI with a certain part of the country. I mean, we're talking about a lot of people who watch Fox News or who listen to conservative media, and you know, who take that as sort of the gospel.

And so, you know, maybe I agree with Mark. Everybody in the country doesn't think this, and I wouldn't say most of the people in the country believe this about the FBI. But I think he's had a real impact in terms of, you know, with the Republican Party -- just imagine if Barack Obama had attacked the FBI. He would have been called un- American.

I mean, this used to be -- the FBI and law enforcement used to be this sort of core of the Republican Party and they would say, you know, we always stand, you know, by the people who are basically out there trying to protect us. And so I think it's amazing how much he's been able to shift that in such a short amount of time.

LEMON: Yes. Interesting. OK. Thank you, guys. Have a great weekend. I appreciate you joining us here.

When we come back, you should do it, that's what the Trump campaign official told George Papadopoulos about meeting with Russians. We know that Papadopoulos is cooperating with Robert Mueller. So what could all of this mean for his investigation.


LEMON: New development tonight in the Russia investigation. Remember George Papadopoulos, remember how team Trump tried to dismiss him as a coffee boy? Well, there is a new report tonight that the campaign actually encouraged Papadopoulos to talk to Russians.

I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, a former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department, and CNN legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli.

Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you for joining us.

Michael, "The Washington Post" is reporting that document show that the Trump campaign urged George Papadopoulos to do an interview with the Russian news agency as foreign outreach.

Trump campaign deputy communications director, his name is Bryan Lanza told Papadopoulos, you should do it. So, does this contradict the picture that the Trump campaign had originally painted to Papadopoulos who is now cooperating by the way with Robert Mueller.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does in the sense that after the Papadopoulos plea was revealed, and remember, Papadopoulos' plea sort of surprise all of us. No one really knew who he was or what role he played in the campaign. And then all of a sudden, there's this one count lying to agent's information. And so everyone said what's this all about and the campaign, the Trump

surrogates and the campaign said, he was a coffee boy, and had the meanest role and wouldn't recognize him. He elevated by storm sort of stuff.

Now what is coming out is that the role that Papadopoulos played was more significant than the campaign has let on. And that Papadopoulos had more communications than perhaps even blessings of the campaign to meet with Russians and others affiliated with Russians during this March, April, May, June, July period.

[22:30:00] So, I'm not sure that it makes anything more criminally actionable but it sure does create a picture of the campaign, sort of directing Papadopoulos on his way rather than being accidental.

LEMON: OK. Well, Ken , what do you -- what's -- the face for?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: You know, if you read the Washington Post article. It minimizes the guy even more. You guys are talking Russia and people -- it's a reporter. A reporter who e- mailed numerous people in the Trump campaign and only one of them responded, George Papadopoulos.

And here he is, the Bryan Lanza, sure go talk to her comment was about going and speaking to this Russian reporter and look, the foreign press covered the U.S. elections, and they're frankly kind of annoying, not personally annoying, but they're of no use to the campaign.

So, you know, they're not a high priority like say CNN would be or CBS would be, and so forth. People who talk to Americans. And so the only one who responded was Papadopoulos, and we're really making a mountain out of something that isn't even a mole hill of Bryan Lanza, Deputy Town's guy, saying, yes, you go talk to this reporter. This is nothing.

The Washington Post article to their credit goes through and person after person. The reporter was interviewed by -- the Russian reporter was interviewed by The Post via e-mail. The Greek Defense Minister, who is referenced in the article, who he had contact with, who is referenced and calls him. Yes, young man, he is a real dreamer, but I didn't really talk to him, because he was of no relevance.

LEMON: So, just because someone works -- go ahead, Michael.

ZELDIN: I was going to say, I can -- I think you're not taking this in the broader context. If you look at the Papadopoulos statement of defense, what it shows is that Papadopoulos was trying to minimize his relationship to the campaign when he spoke to Mueller about his contacts with the Russian professor with the woman that he brought with him and others ongoing.

Also, what was minimized was Papadopoulos' dealings with Sam Clovis, who was co-chair of the campaign and others. And this Bryan Lanza piece, a lot is saying Brian didn't did anything wrong at all, I'm just saying, it is another element in this mosaic of the campaign whether it be Lanza or Clovis or others, understanding that this fellow and probably others, Carter Page, and others were out in the world meeting with Russians with the knowledge and perhaps even the support of the campaign.

So you can't take this one talking to the reporter and pretend that that's all this is about. It's a broader context of what Papadopoulos and Carter Page and others where doing -- doing this critical period of April, May, June, July.

LEMON: By the way, I have to say, we invited Bryan Lanza, he's from the campaign -- now he is a contributor of CNN. He was not available tonight. But I got to ask you, sources are telling CNN the role of the new -- this is from Michael Rohde, the new attorney brought on to Trump's legal team is in flux.

The President met with long time Washington attorney, Joe DiGenova along with his wife and law partner Victoria Toensing yesterday. Sources tell CNN the President liked their message, but doesn't think they are right for the job. No one has officially been hired yet. Is the DiGenova the right person for this role, Michael and Ken I will bring you in?

ZELDIN: Well, so, I worked with Joe as Deputy Independent Counsel when he was an Independent Counsel he's been -- and Vicky, I worked for the Justice Department. They've been friends a long time. I think they're terrific people and terrific lawyers, and I think they could help drive a media strategy for the President.

My biggest problem is that they have been reported in the paper as representing Mark Corallo and Sam Clovis, and I don't understand how you overcome the conflict between the representation of those individual's -- irrespective of whether they sign a waiver and the representation of the president.

Especially Corallo, who quit the campaign or quit the -- the job in the White House, because he thought they were engaged in obstructionist behavior on that Air Force One memo thing. So how do you represent someone who's essentially said the White House has engaged in obstruction behavior and at the same time represent the White House?


ZELDIN: So, I think on a complex matter, they probably won't pass the test.

LEMON: Ken, I know you want to respond. Go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, no, no, no, I agree with Michael. I think that for those reasons, it's a bad fit. And you don't really have to go any further than that. And you can say there's no conflict now, but there's no telling where things will go and particularly as it relates to each individuals, Sam Clovis, Corallo, so what or President Trump and putting yourself as a lawyer in that position would be very unwise, and again, I don't think it serves any of those clients well for a lawyer to put themselves in that position. Much like -- last night.


[22:35:15] LEMON: All you have to do is say no, I wouldn't that's' not -- but anyway. Thank you, I appreciate both of you. Have a great weekend.

ZELDIN: You too.

LEMON: When we comeback, Playboy playmate and a porn star, both coming out with blockbuster interviews about their alleged affairs with the President and their stories are pretty similar.

Plus, Stormy Daniels attorney firing, what he calls, a warning shot. Where are going to tell you, what he is threatening.


LEMON: President has stayed uncharacteristically silent as more women come forward with allegations about affairs with him. Sources had told CNN, the President has asked for advice from allies who told him, fighting back could make him look guilty.

And the Wall Street Journal is reporting, others have told Trump, there's no sign the allegations are hurting him with voters, but as we're learning more about ex-playmate Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels, their stories are sounding more and more similar. CNN's Sara Sidner has the latest. Sara?

[22:40:03] SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, Michael Avenatti says, he's firing a warning shot, warning the President and his personal attorney to be careful what they say about Stormy Daniels after her 60 minutes interview. But we also notice some details that are strikingly similar between Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, both women say they had an affair with Donald Trump.


SIDNER: The parallels are unmistakable between these two women. Porn Star, Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy Model, Karen McDougal, who say they were silenced about their alleged affairs with Donald Trump. The similarities are important, because they show a pattern of alleged behavior, including intimidation, chaos and media influence by Trump's allies as he ran for president. Both say the relationships happened between 2006 and 2007 and both describe similar sexual experiences with Donald Trump.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Did he ever use protection?


SIDNER: This happening around the time Melania Trump had her son in March of 2006. Both these women say Trump offered them an apartment in New York, which they refused. McDougal says she was well into the relationship when they both attended a Lake Tahoe golf tournament.

MCDOUGAL: He came in one day and said, oh, there are a bunch of porn stars out there.

SIDNER: One of those porn stars, Daniels, who still has this memento.

MCDOUGAL: I knew he talked to ladies, but I didn't know there was anything else. I didn't know he was intimate with other ladies.

SIDNER: Except for his wife Melania, of course.

MCDOUGAL: The only regret that I have about the relationship that I had with Donald was the fact that he was married.

SIDNER: McDougal even met the now first lady, but told Anderson Cooper, she purposely kept her distance from Mrs. Trump. McDougal also attended Trump's Vodka Release Party in Hollywood in 2007. Also at the party, Stormy Daniels, friends say Trump invited her.

Their parallels continued just before the 2016 Presidential election, when the two women decided they wanted to tell their stories and somehow ended up with the same attorney, Keith Davidson. He broke with a deal for Daniels with trusts personal attorney Michael Cohen to pay $130,000 as part of this confidentiality agreement.

According to McDougal's lawsuit, she had no idea Davidson was also informing Cohen about her deal to sell her story involving Donald Trump to the National Enquirer, which it never published. And both women say they were later intimidated to keep them from talking.

COOPER: AMI has put out a statement saying that, you can talk to the media, that you're free?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, I saw that statement too, but according to their attorney, I can't. There will be financial ruin.

SIDNER: Trump, Cohen and the parent company of the National Enquirer AMI have all disputed various claims. Cohen says, Trump denies the affairs ever took place, and knew nothing of the deals, he says he doesn't remember any e-mails coming from AMI to him in McDougal's case and denies intimidating anyone.

AMI denies any coordinated campaign to convince McDougal that she would be sued or that her reputation would besmirched if she told the truth.


SIDNER: Now, the attorney that one's represented Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in 2016, says he would like to talk about what McDougal has said about him, but that he can't, because of attorney client privilege, Don.

LEMON: Sara Sidner, thank you very much. I want to bring in now Conservative commentator, Carrie Sheffield, CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro, also a Conservative. Thank you both for joining us.



LEMON: All right.

NAVARRO: I think there are -- really I think there are some nuances.

LEMON: OK. We'll talk about that, but let's go to the story, let's get to the nuances of the story just, because we don't have a ton of time. Stormy Daniels attorney, Ana, Michael Avenatti, tweeted out this last night, it's a picture -- says the picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words is this worth. 60 Minutes, please deny it, (inaudible). The tweet also had a photo of a disk in a safe. Wolf Blitzer asked Avenatti today what that meant and here's what he said.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: The tweet is a warning shot, I want to be clear about this, and it's a warning shot. And it is a warning shot to Michael Cohen and anyone else associated with President Trump that they better be very, very careful after Sunday night relating to what they say about my client and what spin or lies they attempt to tell the American people, but make no mistake about it. It is a warning shot.


LEMON: What do you think he meant by warning shot and what do you think could be on that DVD, Ana?

NAVARRO: Honestly, I don't even want to speculate what could be on that DVD, because it might require me then having to bleach my mind's eye.

[22:45:00] Look, I. you know obviously, what can be on a DVD? Images, you know, I think that is what he is obviously alluding to and, you know, making a veiled reference to not so veiled reference to. Look, I think Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti are very, very good at moving and influencing the court of public opinion.

And doing what Trump is so good at doing which is teasing and engaging directly what the public and communicating directly with the public. They are masters at it, if Trump is the master of the art of the deal, this guy, you know, Stormy, they're the masters of the art of the tease.

LEMON: Yes. I said, listen, if the President wasn't the President, he would be asking Michael Avenatti to be on The Apprentice, because he certainly knows the media and he knows how to tease things out like that. If Avenatti does have evidence --

NAVARRO: The communications job is open.

LEMON: Yes. If he does have evidence of an affair with Stormy, what do you think that will do, what happens there?

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, OPPORTUNITY LIVES: Well, Don, I think at the very beginning of the report, you had be known the head from the Wall Street Journal which says the voters don't really care. That this wouldn't really -- he is tough on, Don, as it relates to this, you know, allegations that are really quite old and really quite tires someone in the sense of -- you know, I was just at the White House yesterday with the President with Kellyanne Conway, with Ivanka, it was for a panel and forum on millennials --

LEMON: We can talk about that in the next (inaudible).

SHEFFIELD: Sure. OK. But it's substance. I think it's a red herring.

LEMON: Here's the thing though, this isn't -- this isn't about the affair. You know, people, I mean if he had an affair, that's between him and his wife. This is about questionable legal practices and intimidating -- possible intimidating private citizen -- a private citizen or private citizens and if the President of the United States is involved in that, we didn't know about the $130,000 payoff, or the $150,000 whatever from AMI. That is what this is about, it's not whether he had an affair or not.

SHEFFIELD: I just don't think that -- again, if this is a news story that again, as you guys have all pointed out, this is masterful -- just deviating from substance, like, let's focus on the substance, that is what really matters. And the fact that, you know, Harvard University --

LEMON: That's the substance. That is what I'm asking you about.


LEMON: If there are questionable -- if there are questionable legal affairs with the President, isn't that or possible campaign finance laws that were broken, that is substance, don't you think, that's a substance here?

SHEFFIELD: There is no evidence of any substance, that this has anything to do --

LEMON: We don't know unless it's litigated.

NAVARRO: Actually --

SHEFFIELD: It's the speculation game again, to say that there is no evidence something -- that's hear and say.

LEMON: We don't know until -- it is adjudicated you cannot say that there is no evidence of that.

SHEFFIELD: But you cannot say is that you are innocent until proven guilty. So again, this is going in the same circles.

LEMON: That is not what this is.


LEMON: You don't -- do you think he had an affair? SHEFFIELD: I don't think it's really relevant to the fact that --

LEMON: OK, but you're not answering my question then. If you think he had an affair and it was worth paying off someone to keep them quiet, hundreds of thousands of dollars, you don't think that is substantive. Apparently, they think it's at least for one case, $130,000 substantive. There are 130,000 reasons that they paid this person off.

SHEFFIELD: Look, I am not privy to what happened and neither are you in terms of what happened between these women and the President. The President has absolutely denied it. And I just think that it really is a distraction, and look, I like you, Don, and I love CNN, but it's just like -- if you want to get the Trump voters to be, you know, more receptive to these conversations, like let's focus on things that matter, not allegations from --

2LEMON: It's not my job to get a Trump report, to be more receptive to a conversation. My job is to report the truth.

NAVARRO: Don, can you let me get in here a minute.

LEMON: Go ahead, Ana, quick and I want to say something for the next file.

NAVARRO: Yes. First, a few things, first. You know, she is right, these are old allegations, this from, I think from 2006, here's the problem, though, with that point. I remember in October during a debate with Hillary Clinton when Donald Trump and his allies brought out every woman Bill Clinton, not even Hillary, Bill Clinton, the spouse had been with decades and decades and decades before. And so if old allegations didn't matter then, I'm not sure why 10-year-old allegations should be so old now.

LEMON: Ana, hold your point right there. I have to take a break. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Back with me now Carrie Sheffield and Ana Navarro.

Ana, if you want to finish, there are other things I want to talk about, if you want to finish the point you were making last time.

NAVARRO: Yes, I meant on the point about -- about substance and how this is sightings look, I think, you all are right. I don't think his voters care one bit about this. And you know we are seeing it right now. But I do think there is probably one or -- at least one of not two people who care a lot. And unfortunately for Trump, it's a big house, but they live under his same roof. And I think that is why you are seeing him do so much chaotic decision making this week.

I don't think it is a coincidence that an hour or two before Anderson's 2interview with Karen McDougal was to air, he suddenly made the announcement on John Bolton and McMaster. I don't think it's a coincidence that all of a sudden today at 10:00 at night, he throws the religious right a bone and announces the banned of transgender in military.

I think, he is very good at distract and divert. And you know, let me tell me something Honey, hold onto your wig on Sunday, because god only knows what he is going to pull on Sunday and Monday to distract us from that Stormy Daniels interview.

LEMON: Listen, I want to talk about this, this afternoon the First Lady, gave a speech at the State Department as part of the International Woman of Courage Awards Ceremony. Let's listen to this.


MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: Courage is the quality most needed in this world. Yet, it is often the hardest to find. Courage sets apart those who believe in higher calling and those who act on it. It takes courage not only to see wrong, but strive to right it.


LEMON: Do you -- do you think that women who support the President have a hard time with this apparently putting his wife and mother and child through this and then having the first lady talk about courage standing up there, Carrie.

[22:55:07] SHEFFIELD: I think that was a beautiful statement from the first lady. And the women that are honored in that ceremony, I'd love to see them maybe honored in the CNN heroes segment, just, you know, to profiles the courage of this women virtually remarkable and in terms of, you know, what might be happening --

LEMON: You didn't answer the question, I'm running out of time.

SHEFFIELD: Sure, in terms of what might be happening under, you know the roof of a private family, in terms of their relationship it's -- it should be private. And so, I think that we should respect that.

NAVARRO: You're right, like Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton's relationship was private? I mean, come on let's be consistent here. It matters. It matters, because what happens in the personal life affects the professional life and the political life and that affects us all. How their head is affects us all.


NAVARRO: And you can't sit there and say it doesn't matter.

SHEFFIELD: I wish --

LEMON: We got to go.

NAVARRO: We spent years.


LEMON: I've got to go, let me say this.

SHEFFIELD: That is just the height of hypocrisy.

LEMON: Carrie, we would love to be able honor some of those women, if want to, you go to and submit them and if they rise to the ranks then they too could be a CNN hero, anyone can.

SHEFFIELD: Beautiful.

LEMON: Thank you both, I appreciate it. When we come back the President -- the President governing by conflict on multiple fronts. We know the President thrives on chaos, but does the country?