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Ex-Playmate Speaks Out on Alleged Affair with Trump; Students Meet with Lawmakers Ahead of March for Our Lives; Protesters Block NBA Arena Over Fatal Police Shooting; Department of Justice Indict Iranian Hackers; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 10:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So how will this interview change the atmosphere within the White House? How will this interview change the perception of the president? What questions does it raise legally and politically? That's next.


BERMAN: A former "Playboy" playmate Karen McDougal says she had a 10- month sexual relationship with then just private citizen Donald Trump. She also says that a key ally of the president paid to keep her quiet about that relationship just before the election.

So what does this mean?

Joining me now, CNN political commentator Matt Lewis and political analyst Amy Parnes.

Amy, I've heard many opinions about this interview from the time it was on TV to this morning, you know, about 12 hours later. One thing I have not heard spoken out loud or on Twitter, not once, is that they don't believe Karen McDougal.

AMY PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and the thing is she is believable. The whole interview was very detailed and comprehensive.

[10:35:03] You can see it, she's detailing where she was with him, how she felt, how he felt, what was said. I don't think anyone is doubting that this actually happened. And so this sort of builds another -- more of a pattern about President Trump. And it is hurtful to him as he's trying to move past this, trying to move past Stormy Daniels, here comes another one.

This is another big hit for him as, you know, other things loom. And I think it's going to keep going and hurt him.

BERMAN: It is interesting, Matt Lewis, what Amy just said there, the acceptance that this happened. It is remarkable, right? I mean, you've had past scandals before, think of how long it's taken to get to that moment where everyone agrees on the fact pattern here. You know, maybe there are people who disagree. I just haven't heard anyone raise a stink about the facts as they were laid out last night. And Republicans may be, you know, thanking their lucky stars that they

all went home from Washington right now for the congressional break, and they don't have to answer questions about this because over the last few weeks if you talk to them about this, the fact that allies of the president allegedly paid for silence on something like this just before the election, no one has any answers, no one has any defense, no one really has any explanation.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Look, so -- and the interesting thing is ironically I think this is actually politically helpful. Nobody is surprised. Nobody doubts her word and nobody is surprised that Donald Trump would behave that way. And on the surface, that's an indictment of Donald Trump. That's -- you know, that's a horrible thing, but politically speaking, I think it's actually very helpful to Donald Trump.

He's never built his credibility on being a man of character or a man of virtue. He has always been somebody who assumed to be chasing the ladies and simultaneously skirting the rules, finding ways out of problems, paying people off. I mean, this is part of his brand. And so I think it's an indictment on the American public, maybe, that this is our president, but in terms of hurting Donald Trump politically, I think the fact is that this is baked into the cake. This is who he is -- he is who we thought he was.

BERMAN: And so, Amy, it's interesting because you have a different opinion because just before Matt spoke there, you said you think this raises new questions, it creates new problems, how, where?

PARNES: I mean, I just think that this is another -- just another story. And a more detailed story. A lot of people seemed a little skeptical maybe of Stormy Daniels and there is, you know, maybe a he said-she said involved. And here you have more of a romance. You have this kind of takes it to a whole new level. This wasn't just Donald Trump, you know, having a one night stand with someone.

This is someone who he, you know, was in a relationship with it seems like while he was married and just after the birth of his child. And so I think some people might have a problem with it. I mean, I agree in the fact -- I agree with Matt that, you know, we knew about all of this before the election, we knew that he had kind of a problem and it didn't really affect or tip the scales. But I think this one is a little different.

BERMAN: One other thing that's unknown, Matt, also, as you look forward here, is, you know, is there a pattern, is it more than Karen McDougal or Stormy Daniels who will have her moment on television Sunday night in "60 Minutes," you know, that could be potentially big also. Are these just two of many? There seems to be a lot of similarities. It doesn't seem dissimilar in the fact that there was a lawyer in common here, Michael Cohen has said they've been part of both of allegedly in these cases as well, and both of these payoffs happened just before the election.

Do the American people have a right to know how many people may have been paid for their silence just prior to the 2016 election? LEWIS: Yes, I mean, look, obviously as a journalist I'm in favor of

more transparency. I think the American public deserves to know things like this. But I'm just -- I'm just questioning whether or not it matters how many, right? So like, if you care about -- let's say if you care about the Me Too Movement, you already hate Donald Trump. There is one more woman coming forward alleging something, I don't think matters. Does it matter if it's three or four politically speaking?

We already know that this is a person -- that Donald Trump is a scurrilous cad. Does it matter if it's three Playmates or porn stars or four? I think, like, once you reached this level, the numbers don't really matter as much.

BERMAN: You know, truth matters. I will say that truth matters. I know truth matters to voters in this case and the president has denied this or Hope Hicks has said that the president denies this. And those denials, we'll see if he keeps on denying it, we'll see what he denies after the Stormy Daniels thing.

And Amy, I'm going to shift gears here, but I guess the common theme here is truth. Right? The president, this morning, has threatened to veto the omnibus spending bill, the $1.3 trillion package that was passed by Congress overnight, the package that his own staff has said yesterday that he supported and would sign, the package that, by the way, even after he threatened to veto it this morning, that key senior adviser says don't worry, this thing is still going to happen.

So what we're seeing on the screen here, "I am considering a veto off the omnibus spending bill," is what, it's just words?

[10:40:06] PARNES: Right. I mean, and that's what we've come to expect. He's sort of using this to his own advantage, you know, even though my OMB director has said, you know, that I will sign this, I'm not going to, because I'm the one who supports DACA, the Democrats are not. So he's kind of drawing a line and doing what he did a couple of months ago, actually in January, where he was saying the Democrats are holding it up and it was effective back then. It kind of worked. So he feels like he can do that again and, you know, and say, in future months, no, I didn't hold this up, they did.

BERMAN: Look, you know, they both passed it right now, all he's got to do was sign it. He's threatening to veto it, I don't believe he actually will. We shall see.

Amy Parnes and Matt Lewis, I really appreciate you being here. Thank you.

LEWIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Very soon student activists set to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Next, why one activist says these rallies are just the beginning of the movement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:45:21] BERMAN: Student activists moving through Washington this morning, meeting with lawmakers ahead of Saturday's March for Our Lives. Those rallies will be held across the country.

Ryan Nobles live in Washington, meeting with some of those demonstrators -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, no doubt about that. We're expecting more than 100,000, perhaps hundreds of thousands of young people to descend on Washington for the March for Our Lives. But they want this to be a lot more than just a demonstration. They really want to see some action take place and that's what they're doing here today, at the United States capitol, meeting with lawmakers, pressing them to pass laws which in their mind would solve some of this problem.

In particular they want to see stricter gun laws and just about an hour ago, they wrapped up a press conference with some of those lawmakers, lawmakers from Florida, some other United States senators were part of that press conference, and we also heard from some of these young people that have been the victims of gun violence, that have been a part of these school shootings.

Among them, Dmitri Hoth, who's one of the survivors of the Parkland shooting. Listen to what he had to say about the importance of this weekend.


DEMITRI HOTH, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: A lot of people think that Washington is the finality of the accumulation of everything that we've been working towards these past couple of weeks when in reality, it is just the beginning. It is just the announcement to America that we have arrived, and we just are now going to establish a movement, and you're not going to be able to, you know, shrug us off so easily. You're not going to be able to ignore us because we're at your doorstep now.


NOBLES: And that was the concern from a lot of these students in the wake of the Parkland shooting that when we've seen mass shootings like this happen in the United States and other periods of time that it leaves the consciousness of America pretty quickly. And they want to continue this fight. They do not want anyone to forget about what they went through, that's why they scheduled this march. That's why they're continuing to rally support behind their effort.

They are going to be knocking on the doors of their lawmakers from all over the country. And it's important to mention, John, that while many of these students are from Florida, there are students expected from all over the country. So that means many of these lawmakers are going to be hearing from their constituents, from every part of the United States. The precursor to the very large message that they hope to send tomorrow with the march -- John.

BERMAN: Ryan Nobles at the Capitol. Ryan, thank you very much.

And of course CNN will be covering these rallies all day long.

Overnight, protesters blocked the entrance in Sacramento to a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks. The arena eventually shut its doors to the public. This was all part of demonstrations around the city four days after 22-year-old Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by police in his grandmother's backyard. After the Kings' game, the team owner addressed the protests.



VIVEK RANADIVE, OWNER, SACRAMENTO KINGS: We at the Kings recognize people's ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We stand here before you, old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment.


BERMAN: Joining me now live from Sacramento, Dan Simon, with the very latest on this -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. What an extraordinary situation to watch this all play out yesterday. This protest actually started behind me at city hall, and then protesters went through the streets, downtown Sacramento before winding up at Golden One Arena where they essentially formed a human chain at the entrances, preventing fans from going in.

The Sacramento Kings just decided to essentially for safety reasons just to not let anymore fans in. So what an odd sight to see just a few people watching that game between the Hawks and the Kings. Fortunately, there was no violence and there were no arrests, but, John, let's talk about how this all began.

This happened last Sunday, when police got a 911 call about a person smashing some car windows. And police responded a few minutes later. And with the help of a police helicopter, they wound up in the backyard of a home and that's where police fired some 20 rounds at a person they believed was holding a gun. But there was no gun. Just a cell phone. And 22-year-old Stephon Clark died at the scene.

And obviously because of the way this unfolded, 20 shots, no gun, the police department is facing very difficult questions about how this all happened.

I want you to hear what his brother is saying about all this.



SIMON: You said you wanted his name to be remembered the same way that people remember --

CLARK: Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown.

[10:50:04] SIMON: Where does the family go from here?

CLARK: We're afraid. We're afraid. He's not the first and it won't be the last. That's why -- I think that's where it hurts the most.


SIMON: Well, Stephon Clark's family has now hired an attorney, a prominent civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump, who will be headed to Sacramento at some point today. We don't know yet what legal action the family might take. But fair to say, John, you can expect more protests going forward -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Dan Simon for us in Sacramento, watching this very closely. Appreciate it, Dan.

We have more breaking news now, just moments ago, the Department of Justice announced charges against a group of what they call Iranian hackers claiming they broke into accounts of thousands of universities, professors and businesses.

Jessica Schneider joins us with the latest on this.

Jessica, what have we learned?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you know, this is a multiagency effort to indict and also crack down on these Iranian government-backed hackers. So the government announcing this today, the justice department has indicted nine Iranians, and the Treasury Department has also imposed sanctions on those nine as well as the agency that they worked for.

So they say that this was a very complicated scheme dating back to 2013. Basically these nine government-linked Iranian hackers worked for an organization that was actually tide to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard core, which is the intelligence -- one of the intelligence agencies in Iran. And the government alleges in this indictment that these nine hackers worked extensively, prodding into and hacking -- or trying to hack into more than 100,000 accounts.

The government says that they were successful, hacking into 8,000 accounts. These accounts were linked to university professors, as well as governmental agencies like the Department of Labor. And really when it comes down to it, these hackers, the government says, were successful. They actually managed to steal academic data, other data amounting to a worth of about $3.4 billion. So these nine Iranians are now under indictment. Of course, they are in Iran, and without that extradition treaty, they likely won't be sent here to the United States unless they try to travel elsewhere.

And announcing these indictments today, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he explained what was a very massive and complex hacking effort. So that indictment announced today. Interestingly, you know, this indictment today by the Department of Justice, it comes on the heels of what we saw from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the indictment of 13 Russian nationals accused of cyberhacking during the 2016 election campaign.

So while law enforcement was here today, the deputy director of the FBI, David Bowdich, was also here. They didn't go into specifics as to how exactly they're targeting cyberhackers across the world that they know are trying to infiltrate our systems here in the United States, but they do say that they're working with international partners to thwart this.

Because of course, John, as we saw with the Russian indictments, as we're seeing with the indictment of these Iranian government-linked hackers today, these date back several years and they were extensive massive efforts that just now are really being indicted, and, you know, so we're seeing this as a multiyear effort, so the question is, how do they crack down now right on the heels of, of course, the midterm elections and then the elections coming up in 2020 as well -- John.

BERMAN: Jessica Schneider following the breaking news out of Washington for us. Jessica, thank you.

Sister Jean just like the rest of us, her bracket now busted, too. But it was her own team that did it to her.


[10:58:16] BERMAN: Everyone's March Madness busted bracket stomped all over again last night. Especially from Loyola-Chicago's big victory. One bracket that also destroyed that team's 98-year-old chaplain, Sister Jean.

Coy Wire with the very latest. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Sister Jean has Loyola-Chicago's -- been their team chaplain for over two decades. So why did she pick her team to lose in the Sweet 16? I talked to her yesterday. And she told me she has this special second bracket. Listen.


SISTER JEAN DOLORES-SCHMIDT, LOYOLA-CHICAGO TEAM CHAPLAIN: I have Loyola in my second one, which I call them the -- a Cinderella dream bracket. And they're going to the top.


WIRE: The Cinderella dream bracket has the fairy godmother's magic touch, facing Nevada, 6.2 seconds remaining and the junior from Jersey, Marcus Townes, is money. More clutch than a Kate Spade shot. That was the dagger in the heart of Nevada right there. And I was there and the player and the fans had this energy that was palpable and so did Sister Jean.

We caught up with her after the game and she says it's all good that her original bracket got busted.


DOLORES-SCHMIDT: Custer said to me as he got off the court, we broke your bracket, Sister Jean. I said that's fine with me. Let's keep going.


WIRE: How about Kentucky? They've never lost a Sweet 16 matchup under John Calipari. But that changed thanks to the other Wildcats taking the court, Kansas State. They took down Big Blue. Barry Brown Jr. taking it to the rack. How do you like that? K State, that one up for good right there at 19 seconds remaining and that last shot for Kentucky did not go. That sets up the Cinderella day between 11 seed Loyola-Chicago and nine seed K State tomorrow. Last two number one seeds remaining, they'll tip things off tonight. Kansas taking on Clemson and Villanova playing West Virginia.

BERMAN: All right. Coy Wire, thank you very, very much. Appreciate it.