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Ex-Playmate Apologizes to Melania for Alleged Trump Affair; Stormy Daniels' Attorney Tweets Out Cryptic Photo of Disc; China Vows Retaliation Against Trump's Tariffs Proposal; Activists to Demand Gun Safety Measures. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL: No, no regrets except the fact that he was married.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: If Melania Trump is watching this, what would you want her to know?

MCDOUGAL: That's a tough one.

COOPER: Or say to her?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. What can you say, except I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me. I'm sorry.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The president has denied the affair. So far, Melania has remained silent. You see the pictures of Melania Trump. She is presenting an International Woman of Courage Award, courage over at the State Department at this hour.

We'll bring in CNN's White House reporter, Kate Bennett, who follows the comings and goings of the first lady. And also criminal defense attorney, Sara Azari, is with me now.

Sara, staring with you, watching Karen McDougal -- that was a fascinating, far-ranging interview. There are a lot of things I heard people say about that interview. When it comes to her relationship with Donald Trump at the time, when she talks about how she loved him, she thought he loved her, too, what I have not heard yet is she isn't credible.

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I always look at, being a defense attorney, at accusers with a great deal of skepticism. I have to tell you, I believed every word that she said. Short of having a polygraph like Stormy Daniels, there's no reason not to believe this woman. I thought she's extremely credible. I thought that, you know, unlike a lot of people today, talking about how they don't understand why she is suing, because she already told her story, if you listened carefully she actually told Anderson, this is not my full story. I'm very careful with what I'm saying. She's trying to go about it the right way. She has brought a lawsuit. She's trying to get out of this cash and catch and kill so she can tell her full story. She never got what she bargained for. It was all a fraud.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to her case and then looking at these other women's cases.

Kate over to you, you were watching Melania speak at the State Department. Here we are in a week where the news is plastered with the cases involving three different women and her husband, three different cases and she's giving this courage award.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It's crazy irony. This award was supposed to be handed out on Wednesday, but the snow storm prevented it and moved it to today, the day after this interview that Anderson Cooper did. It's been a difficult week for the first lady. She's had three speaking engagements, starting Monday the opioid, Tuesday the Internet, and then today. Brooke, these stories broke in January. Certainly, she has been dealing with these, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal for quite some time.

BALDWIN: It has to be humiliating.

BENNETT: It must be. And the gut punch, the "I love yous," that she was in her apartment. The first lady hasn't spoken. No matter if you know your husband has a history as a notorious ladies' man, I think the poignancy and the specifics of the interview last night must make things difficult for her today. She was shaky going up to the podium to give these awards and deliver her remarks.

BALDWIN: I don't blame her.

BENNETT: It's a difficult time.

BALDWIN: In her own apartment.

Sara, back over to you, from Karen McDougal to Stormy Daniels. While everyone was watching this Anderson interview with Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels took to Twitter and put out this photo. She said, "If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is this worth?" And you see what looks to be maybe a C.D., some kind of disk, including the #60minutes. What could this mean?

AZARI: This is Avenatti alert. What's missing here is the red siren emoji. Watch "60 Minutes," my client is telling the truth. It's no different than the polygraph photo, of Stormy taking the polygraph test. He is corroborating her voracity and setting the stage for Sunday, which will be way better than the Super Bowl. I think it's evidence. Those photos, those videos she may have had are on that C.D., whether we're going to see those or -- I don't know. But it's definitely setting the stage and corroborating her truthfulness.

[14:34:34] BALDWIN: It's their way of saying sort of out of the Trump playbook. Stay tuned.

Sara Azari and Kate Bennett, thank you for that.

Coming up, just hours after President Trump ordered the $50 billion in tariffs, China is hitting back. How Trump's America First plan could backfire on the very people who helped him get elected.


BALDWIN: There are growing fears of a possible trade war with China hours after President Trump ordered tariffs on China worth about $50 billion in Chinese goods. China is hitting back with tariff threats on their own.

The Chinese ambassador with this warning to the United States: "We don't want a trade war, but we are not afraid of it. If people want to play tough, we will play tough with them and see who will last longer."

Here is China's version of playing tough. Beijing threatening to slap $3 billion on U.S.-made products, ranging from wine, nuts, fresh fruit, pork and recycled aluminum goods.

With me now, Max Baucus, former U.S. ambassador to China and a former Democratic Senator from Montana.

Nice to see you and have you on.


BALDWIN: First and foremost, when you hear that whole we'll play tough with them and see who will last longer, you know the Chinese, how do you interpret that?

[14:39:50] BAUCUS: It's interesting. I was over there several years. When I first arrived, the Chinese talked to us and said hey, we Chinese, we'll take care of Asia. You Americans do the rest of the world. We're together, we rule the world. We'll do this together. We didn't accept that because clearly lots of other countries, Japan, South Korea, they're not going to go along with that. Now we're doing almost an about face. We're becoming very confrontational, U.S. and China. And I think it's very dangerous. The Chinese are very good at doing just enough to keep us at bay. But now --


BALDWIN: Confrontational with the Chinese is not --

BAUCUS: They don't like it. But they're tough customers. They'll play ball. If they have to be tough, they're going to be tough.

BALDWIN: Do you think at any point in this is the president right on talking tough?

BAUCUS: I think he's got a point that we haven't done as well as we could over the years. There's no question about that. But I don't know that this is the right way to do it. His diagnosis is correct. But I think the remedy of trying to give them a bloody nose is not the way the Chinese will react. They're nationalistic, just like we are. They're proud just like we are. Wait a minute. The president punches us, we're going to stand tall. BALDWIN: Sure, sure. If China makes good on this threat with these

U.S. goods, how would that impact everyday Americans?

BAUCUS: I think that you're going to see some impact, to be honest. Not a heck of a lot.


BAUCUS: My big concern is the next step.

BALDWIN: Which is what?

BAUCUS: Trump saying, OK, $60 billion with tariffs on Chinese products. That's when we're going to be in the big leagues and that's where I'm concerned about a trade war. Don't forget, when you start something like this, it's hard to pull back. It's like a military war. What's the exit strategy? How do you reduce tariffs after a while?

BALDWIN: Is a back channel possible? We saw President Trump smitten, dining last fall with President Xi.

BAUCUS: Yes. Yes.

BALDWIN: Is that possible?

BAUCUS: Secretary Tillerson tried in many ways to put together that back channel. We don't have a very strong Chinese expertise establishment in the government that knows how to deal with China. We're weak with respect to Asia and China, compared to Asia and other parts of the world.


BAUCUS: So back channels are very important. This is a whole big new era we're into. I'm very concerned. You throw John Bolton and Pompeo into the mix and --


BALDWIN: Makes you nervous?

BAUCUS: It makes me nervous. Chinese will be, oh, what's this all about? It will make Kim even more nervous. He won't be able to trust Americans. Or we pull out of the Iran deal. China will be very much involved in the peninsula. Nothing will happen in North Korea without China being involved.

BALDWIN: That's why these new names joining the inner circle absolutely matter when it comes to --


BAUCUS: Oh, they do, they do.

BALDWIN: Mr. Baucus, thank you very much. I appreciate it. (CROSSTALK)

BAUCUS: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up next no CNN, ahead of massive marches in cities across the country, I spent my evening with these 11 people, each of whom whose life has been impacted by gun violence. Their powerful stories. Why they say they're hopeful, coming up.


[14:47:21] BALDWIN: Tomorrow, right here in Washington, D.C., thousands of students from all across the country, including survivors from last month's deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will march in Washington. The March for Our Lives will demand lawmakers and President Trump do something to stop gun violence and mass shootings on school grounds.

Looking ahead to the march, I wanted to hear from Americans who have grieved and survived and are pushing for change here in D.C. Last night, I listened to 11 people, thanks to the help of Every Town for Gun Safety, ranging from a woman who lost her father in Columbine 20 years ago, to two students from Parkland, Florida, who lost friends and teachers just last month. I heard from a high schooler, who lost her father to gun suicide and a librarian who shielded children at Sandy Hook. What I walked away with was this: Despite their irreplaceable losses, they have new hope thanks to powerful young voices at Marjory Stoneman High School.

Here is part one of our conversations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father was killed at Columbine high school in 1999. For the past 19 years, I've seen a lot of people really working to make change and I believe that Parkland was the tipping point.

BALDWIN: We are sitting amongst people with shootings that span from Columbine, 20 years back, to what happened to you all a couple of weeks ago. And they're saying now, because of what happened at your school, they believe, change is possible. What does that feel like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think considering our student body and how open they've been of their experience and what they're -- how they've been grieving, we've just been very out there. We're kind of like, this is enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's so much reason for hope that we're seeing young people whose lives were touched by this tragedy. And I think that's why millions of Americans are going to be out on Saturday, marching and demanding change in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're just asking for us to help keep them safe. They're not -- they are not even, most of them, voting age yet. They can't politicize this issue. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a generation of young Americans that have

grown up with lockdown drills. When they see this happened at Parkland, it's personal to them. Doing nothing doesn't work. I think people are tired of this.

BALDWIN: When you get that breaking news alert on your phone that it has happened again, what does that feel like for you?

[14:49:57] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I've been getting that news for almost two decades now. And the march on Saturday will mark the 6,913th day I've marched without my dad. And every time there is this little flash of hope and then nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the students from Parkland, when I saw them on TV, I just started like -- it's embarrassing. I was jumping around my House, clapping my hands, because people are listening. People are hearing us. We feel like we've been yelling from the bottom of the barrel for almost two decades.

The politicians can march with us or watch us walk away.

BALDWIN: To hear her believe in you all and hope in this plight 20 years in the making, how does that sit with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I think a lot of people are confused as to why you're just hearing us now. And that's because it took this event to happen at our school for you to hear us. We've talked about it in our school before. We've debated for gun control and what we think would actually make change. And now that there's this national presence of media that can get our message out it's getting out. We're not going to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Columbine happened, social media wasn't around. When Sandy Hook happened, it was elementary kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't have Instagram, Twitter. I think when they realized it was teenagers and teenagers are on social media all the time, I think it gave us the platform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we think about gun violence, I believe it's not until we are able to get into the heart of our legislators and our congressmen, until we're actually able to get into their heart and turn that will they be able to really understand the plight and the grief and the pain that anybody that has suffered gun violence has to go through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I miss having my family intact because we're no longer together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really are relying on our adults, on our older generation so that they can vote for lawmakers who support common sense gun laws.

BALDWIN: You have decided to be the change. You are running for Congress in Georgia's 6th district. What pushed you over?

LUCY MCBATH, (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE & GUN ACTIVIST: It's been growing and festering inside of me for a very, very long time. Of course, it started with Jordan. There's a shift and a cultural change we've never seen before. These are our babies. If we, as adults, don't even stand up to our own legislators and these children are standing up, I'll do whatever I have to do to help them thrive and be who they're supposed to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best way to describe it, we felt like it's been a whole year and also it was just yesterday. A couple of them were in my grade. I've gone to school with them since I was little and losing them has been kind of hard. Carmen was in a lot of my classes. She was so smart and understood everything. Mr. Feis, Coach Feis would wave at us every morning when we walked into the school. And then Alyssa is my little sister's friend. And it's kind of hard talking about it. Because she was 14 and she had a life ahead of her.


BALDWIN: You will hear much more of our conversation next hour.

You can also find out, if you are interested, where marches are happening near you. Text March to 66443. Join CNN tomorrow for complete live coverage of March across America. CNN's coverage begins at 6:00 a.m. eastern. I'll be hosting special coverage tomorrow from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

[14:54:18] We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: We continue on, on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me here in Washington, D.C.

Here's the breaking news at the moment. President Trump has signed $1.3 trillion spending bill into law. He did it begrudgingly. It happened just hours after he tweeted that he was considering vetoing the legislation. Then he called this impromptu press briefing to sign the bill while simultaneously complaining about how ridiculous it is.


TRUMP: There are a lot of things I'm unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things that we shouldn't have had in this bill, but we were, in a sense, forced -- if we want to build our military, we were forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress, 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. Some people don't even know what -- $1.3 trillion. It's the second largest ever. President Obama signed one that was actually larger, which I'm sure he wasn't too happy with either.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Let's start at the White House with our reporter there, Kaitlan Collins.

It almost sounds like, from the tone of the president, he called this a whole ridiculous situation, mentioned the 2200-plus pages. No one read it, he said, including himself. But and then he's almost forced to sign it.