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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Calls "News Conference," Ignores Tough Questions; Pres. Trump And First Lady Arrive In Florida Amid Affair Scandals; "Washington Post:" E-mails Show Trump Officials Encouraged Papadopoulos To Connect With Foreign Contacts; In New Op-Ed, McCabe Denies "Lack Of Candor," But Admits Answers May Not Have Been "Clear"; First Lady Speaks At Women's Event After Ex-Playmate Apologizes For Alleged 10-Month Affair With Trump; National Security Council Tells Trump to Expel Russian Diplomats; Dow Plunges 1,159 Points in 2 Days Amid Fears of Trade War. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, the art of distraction, what lengths will the President go to avoid the tough questions.

Plus the President calling out former Intel Chief James Clapper and James Clapper responding right here OUTFRONT.

And the market losing 1,100 points in two days, the reason, Trump's tariffs on China and fears of a Trump trade war. Let's go OUTFRONT

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, fake detail. The President tonight distorting his own credibility and not just with critics or law makers, but his own supporters just to change the subject.

This was the headline on the usually Trump friendly Drudge Report, fake veto. That is how Drudge calls it. And it's all because the President woke up this morning and went on a Twitter rant. You might say, "Oh, well, that doesn't happen all the time," but not exactly this way.

Yes, he railed against the Russia investigation as usual, but then he threw a new bomb into the mix, "I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats, not mentioned in the Bill, and the border wall which is desperately needed for our National Defense is not fully funded."

OK. This spending bill had to pass today or the government would shut down. It was a ticking clock. Midnight tonight the whole thing was going to shut down, so the threat of a Trump veto was major news. It is not something tried or silly to throw around. He was about to shut down the government.

And the tweet took on massive meaning because it was a total about face. The White House had promised yesterday repeatedly to reporters this is a done deal. The President was signed the spending bill, it's over. So the President drops his tweet bomb on his own party, which had spent weeks negotiating the bill with Trump's own White House team.

And then he went silent for hours before suddenly announcing a news conference, canceling Sarah Sanders press briefing, you know, the one where she takes questions from reporters.

Now, the President had reasons for not wanting Sanders to takes questions today and I'll get to that. But first, what he did at his news conference. He broke his silence on the bill he threatened to veto saying, "I signed it."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've signed this omnibus budget 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Then he did something bizarre. He parade out his candidate. They were all there, somehow they were ready to brag about how amazing the spending bill was, you know, the one he said was so horrible he might veto it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We in the military are humbled and grateful to the American people for their sacrifices on behalf of this funding.

KIRSTEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We at the Department of Homeland Security work very closely with the Department of Defense and we support this omnibus in the defense of our country. As the President has stated under his leadership, he has delivered for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Let's be clear, the cabinet members did not have a lot of time to prepare because the President made the call to host his news conference and then parade them out there. Well, I mean, he told the press about it 28 minutes before it happened. And he told everybody about it on Twitter again. So at 12:32 he said, "Guess what, I'm going to have a news conference and it was at 1:00."

Maybe this is because he was seizing on the drama of the spending bill to distract from some very big issues bearing down on him. He used the cover of this news conference to actually avoid questions, because his news conference canceled Sarah Sanders press briefing for the second day in a row, which means that the White House has not answered questions on some really big things that have happen in those two days. For example, the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has been ousted. The President's lead attorney in the Russia investigation, John Dowd quit, and the women who are speaking out for the first time about the President's alleged extramarital affairs. This has just happened in the past two days.

And in the past couple of days of White House silence, the former Playboy model Karen McDougal talked about how she says Trump tried to pay her for sex.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN MCDOUGAL, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me. And I actually didn't know how to take that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did he actually try to hand you money?

MCDOUGAL: He did. He did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And then there is Stormy Daniels. Her interview on "60 Minutes" is going to air this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Have a seat. I guess I'm not 100 percent sure on why you're doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Today at the President's news conference, and when he left for Mar-a-Lago, the President avoided the questions because, you know, the press asked them, they tried to ask them and here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is Karen McDougal telling the truth?

[19:05:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, any comment on Mrs. McDougal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch "60 Minutes, Mr. President"?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It's funny he called that thing, that dog and pony show a news conference, but he hasn't taken questions, in fact it's been 400 days since he held one, which he did. It's just distractions from the real questions.

And Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT live at West Palm Beach, Florida tonight where the President and First Lady will be landing momentarily.

Boris, the White House -- look, they don't want to talk. He made it clear, he doesn't want to answer those questions.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Erin. Yes, plenty of questions for this administration, but few answers. You can call it a crisis of messaging as the President is set to arrive here in West Palm Beach shortly.

He just tweeted out a moment ago about the omnibus spending bill saying that he would never vote for another bill like this again, calling for Congress to give him a line item veto, something at this previously been found to be unconstitutional. Again, the President threatened to veto this bill earlier today, almost simultaneously you had a number of White House officials under cutting the President.

You had the Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, saying that he didn't think a shut down was going to happen, essentially calling the President's bluff saying that he wouldn't veto this shortly before the president signed it. Beyond that, you have the White House again for now consecutive week arguing that it is a calm, well oiled machine, while there is continuous turnover and turmoil.

I've had White House officials privately tell me that they're frustrated. They feel they can't do their jobs because of so much uncertainty and chaos, but the President in recent weeks tweeting that stories about shakeups on his legal team and that the White House were fake news. Then just yesterday you had had the departure of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, in comes John Bolton. Further you had shakeup on the White House legal team, the President's lead lawyer, John Dowd, stepping down. So the President not answering questions about these allegations of fake news either.

And we have to point this out, it maybe obvious to you and I, Erin, but frankly, it is telling that while supporters of this President say that they love the fact that he is a fighter, someone who will challenge anyone who criticizes him publicly, he has yet to directly answer questions about Stormy Daniels, the alleged affair, the alleged money that was paid to her to keep quiet, and further the White House is not answering questions about new allegations from former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal who also said that she had an affair with the President, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Boris. And as I said, we expect the President and the First Lady to land momentarily at Mar-a- Lago. OUTFRONT now, Josh Dawsey, the White House Reporter for "The Washington Post," Rachael Bade, Congressional Reporter for Politico, and Patrick Healy, Politics Editor for the New York Times.

Patrick, it's great to see you again.

PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Good to see you.

BURNETT: We're still talking about some of the same things we were talking about during the campaign.

HEALY: Right.

BURNETT: OK. But, look, it's been 400 days since we've got had a formal press conference, right?

HEALY: Right.

BURNETT: But what he did today was he called a news conference to cancel the press briefing to the second day in a row. So they have taken no questions now on Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels interview, the top Russia lawyer, John Dowd quitting, or H.R. McMaster, I use the word ousted.

HEALY: Right.

BURNETT: It's pretty incredible how they've avoided questions.

HEALY: Yes. I mean is this what make America great looks again -- looks like? I mean, it makes America great again looks, it's -- you know, it's strange. He basically does not want to answer questions. He wants to make statements. He wants to have his tweets. He wants to cart his cabinet out in front to talk about what a great President he is, what a great ideas he has.

And then he comes out and says again and again, "This is a bad budget. I'm never gone to sign this again." Empty threats after empty threats. It's not making America great again. It's making people feel like they have a President who relishes chaos, who lives in distraction, was no talk about any -- and he does have things to talk about, Erin.

I mean, he does have some things, in terms of Republican messaging for the midterms about the tax cut, about, you know, sort of job creation. There are things that he can talk about, but what he knows is, is that the questions he's going to get are about Stormy Daniels, about Karen McDougal, and you see him sort of scouring across the White House lawn ignoring the shouted questions. It's not strange.

BURNETT: I mean even today, you know, he had wanted to bring up the markets, but it's not a good day to take questions on it. I mean, he lost more than 1,000 points in two days because of what he did on China. Time will tell, but right now it wasn't something he wanted to talk about.

I mean Josh, you know, Patrick uses the word scouring. It's actually -- it's a good description, right? I mean, he was asked today, even though he didn't take the questions, he ignored them, right, both at the news conference and also on his way to go to Mar-a-Lago about Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. I want to play the questions in these responses again, because this is actually really different that he's ever done before. And I also play one moment, here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

[19:10:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is Karen McDougal telling the truth?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, any comment on Mrs. McDougal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch "60 Minutes, Mr. President"?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK, there is no question he heard all of that. I mean obviously, Josh, we could hear it. You know, in the past he said no problem either himself or Sarah Sanders or anybody else calling the women who accused him of things liars. This time, he's not even answering the question.

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. Well, this has been kind of a slow ball scandal for the White House. You saw the allegations about -- both women now that have emerged particularly on "60 Minutes."

I mean, the President sees "60 Minutes" as an iconic television show. One reason he was frustrated with the answers of Betsy DeVos gave on "60 Minutes" where she seemed unprepared, is because he loves the show so much.

And you can bet that he will be tuning in on -- to that and watching that. This is while as Thai (ph) was dominating the cable airwaves and the President certainly know what's being said about him and these women.

I think that the White House taking questions about these women. As you said, no win situation. What do you say? Oh, we're fighting them in court to have nondisclosure agreements. If so, why do you have a nondisclosure agreement? What happened to cause that? And why won't you (INAUDIBLE) them and let them tell the truth?

Everyone that I talk to in the White House just wishes that they had never had to address these stories at all, but if something obviously for the President that he cannot address forever, I think it is going to be mark away, as you point out, Erin, that most things the President has a litany of comments to make, he has opinions, few unexpressed thoughts and morning tweets, late night tweets, but on these women we really haven't seen any of that.

BURNETT: No. I mean, the silence has been deafening in a certain sense, right, because, you know, at least before even when it wasn't true, they were willing to call people liars.

I mean, Rachael, Karen McDougal talked about this issue, right, who is lying and the President. I just wanted to play that clip. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCDOUGAL: Well, I think somebody is lying and I can tell you it's not me. It's a little hurtful, but at the same time I have to understand, like if he were to have told hope that he didn't do it, I guess I understand because he's trying to protect his family, his image, things like that. But it was definitely a little like, "Wow, you're going to lie about that? OK."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Rachael, how long do you think they can stay silent? I mean, you know, there is going to be a press briefing and there is going to be a press briefing at some point next week, and now you have Karen McDougal, and then you're going to have the Stormy Daniels interview. So it's actually going to get bigger, not smaller.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: That's absolutely right, Erin. I mean, they're probably going to stay silent for a few more days, I would think, and see how the "60 Minutes" interview goes, what she actually ends up saying. But I think the reality is, you know, they're trying to deny that this ever happened. But more and more people are not believing, including Republicans on Capitol Hill who are allies of the President.

A lot of people are asking, you know, if this never happened, why pay these women off and why try to keep them from coming forward? And people want answers to that. Democrats do at least. Republicans don't want to touch this with 100-foot pole.

The other issue is you have these women coming forward and they're giving details, intimate details, and that in a way sort of lends some credibility in some people's eyes, makes people believe them more.

And also you have Stormy Daniels lawyer who just today tweeted this picture of a disk saying, "A pictures is worth a thousand words," how many is this worth? And he was basically suggesting that he has evidence on this disk of the relationship. So, yes, they're going to have to address this at some point. I don't know how long they're going to keep denying it, but at some point it's all going to come to ahead.

BURNETT: I mean it is. There is no way around that. There is Air Force One. Of course, as projected (ph) landing in Mar-a-Lago. The President, the First Lady, other members of family on board.

You know, I mentioned the fake veto as the headline on Drudge, which I think was actually very interesting point, right? And that wasn't actually the headline of the article it linked to, right?

It doesn't matter Drudge decided to make the point. He said you're going to do it and then you don't do it, calling him out. Fox News, they were slamming the spending bill itself. They don't like the bill, so they don't like that he said he's going to veto it and then failed to follow through. Ann Coulter tweeted, "I will never sign another bill like this again. Yeah, because you'll be impeached."

HEALY: That's big. That's big. And when you lose Fox News, Ann Coulter, and Drudge on one day for President Trump, that is a bad day and this is the reality. I mean, as goes Fox News, so goes the Trump base. That is the reality and that is what President Trump cares the most about.

He cares about what those voters, as Trump voters in Pennsylvania and Indiana and Michigan and Wisconsin, how they feel. Basically about him as a strong leader, as a leader who is focused on the issues that they the care most about.

And when they hear on Fox News that he's signing a bad bill that how could our President let this bill come into law, you go from a deal being done to veto threats. And nobody in Washington believes it, but the base is upset.

BURNETT: Right. It's a good point. You know, when you lose the people who are your big allies, because you don't want to talk about other things, it would have upset those people as much, you know, that's not a good day. Thank you all very much.

[19:15:12] And next breaking news from the "Washington Post," we have new breaking details about the man the Trump team called a mere coffee boy. Apparently, well, wait until you hear what happened.

Plus more breaking news, the President's own security team are now upping the anti-gone to the President and they said you got to kick Russian diplomats out, you got to expel them. First of all, this is leaking, why? And will he step up to the plate?

And what is Melania Trump saying tonight about Karen McDougal's claims?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCDOUGAL: Now people know the truth. I'm not a liar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news, the top member of the Trump campaign urged George Papadopoulos to be interviewed by a Russian news agency two months before the election. This is a "Washington Post" report tonight.

They say Papadopoulos got the request in September 2016. He then reached out to the Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lanza. I want to point out, Bryan is a CNN Political Commentator. Now going to the post, Lanza replied to Papadopoulos, "You should do it," emphasizing the benefits of a U.S. "partnership" with Russia.

OK. Papadopoulos, of course, is now cooperating with Special Counsel Bob Mueller. He pled guilty to perjury. OUTFRONT now, Democratic congressman from California, Ted Lieu who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for your time.

[19:20:05] I want to just, you know, this report out from "The Washington Post." George Papadopoulos, you know, of course the Trump campaign has said that he was nothing more than a coffee boy. President Trump called him a low level volunteer.

What's your reaction to tonight's development that he was communicating with the Deputy Communications Director and doing interviews to try to push this U.S. strategic partnership with Russia two months before the election?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Erin, for your question. Trump campaign official Papadopoulos had advanced knowledge that the Russians had Hillary Clinton's emails. So one of the questions is who else in the Trump campaign knew about that. For longest time, Trump officials said he was just a low level staffer or coffee boy. This "Washington Post" article shows that they were lying.

He had direct communications, not only with the deputy press secretary, but also with high level campaign officials such as Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Sam Clovis, then campaign co-chairman. And they should all be scared because Papadopoulos is cooperating with the special counsel now.

BURNETT: I mean, this also comes as you know, as President Trump shaking up his legal team, the attorney in-charge, John Dowd quit. Joe DiGenova who accused the FBI and DOJ of framing Trump is in, and obviously very much in the Trump line of thinking. Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist says, "This is all a sign Trump is going to war with Mueller." Here's how he put it just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think President Trump is going to war. I think it's very obvious he's going to go to war on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Is he right? He was talking to Mueller specifically. Do you think the President is going to war with Mueller?

LIEU: Absolutely in terms of his tweets and public statements. I'm also on the House Judiciary Committee and we held a press conference this week showing that that is a red line.

If Donald Trump fires Mueller or fires Rosenstein to meddle with Mueller, or fires Attorney General Sessions to meddle with Mueller, those are impeachable offenses and I believe that people would take to the streets because that is something that violates the rule of law and is massive obstruction of justice.

BURNETT: Your Republican colleagues, when you've had your private conversations with them on your committee, do they agree with you, it's impeachable? LIEU: You know, it turns out that when Republican members retire, they tend to show more courage. So we've seen some courage coming out from retiring Republicans. Senator Jeff Flake has also already said that it would be impeachable offense if Mueller got fired by Donald Trump. And so you're seeing people like Trey Gowdy also standout and say that Rob Mueller needs to be -- allowed to continue and finish his job.

BURNETT: The fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe has just written an op-ed for "The Washington Post." It's literally out. I'm looking at it now. He said, "Not in my worst nightmares that I dream my FBI career would end this way." He continues, Congressman Lieu, to deny having a "lack of candor," right, which is what he was accused by in the, you know, inspector general report, right, that went to the H.R., essentially at the FBI, right, so this is a nonpartisan conclusion that he conclude he had lack of candor.

He writes, "I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted, and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor."

He does admit, "I didn't knowingly mislead. At worst, I was not clear." And he gives reasons as to why that may have been the case. Is it possible he really might be in the wrong here, Congressman?

LIEU: It's possible. I interviewed Andrew McCabe as part of a closed door House Judiciary hearing. I called my Republican colleagues to release the full transcript. I think the American people should see what he said.

But based on the public reporting, as well as his statements in his op-ed, it looks like this is an issue regarding what happened regarding Hillary Clinton's campaign and how he may or may not have released damaging information about her campaign.

That is nothing to do with the Mueller probe into Russia and its unfortunate that President is trying to use the McCabe firing to somehow diminish the special counsel. They're completely unrelated.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Lieu. I appreciate you're talking to us tonight.

LIEU: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump slamming a former intelligence official with a very serious allegation. General Jim Clapper is OUTFRONT to respond.

And Melania Trump soldering on as another woman speaks out about an alleged affair with her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCDOUGAL: What can you say except, I'm sorry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:57] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump and the First Lady arriving just moments ago in Florida. There they are coming off Air Force One. Their son, Barron, with them, as you see. It's the first time they've been seen together since CNN's interview with Karen McDougal which revealed intimate details about the 10-month relationship she said she had with the President and how she felt about Melania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Were you in love with him?

MCDOUGAL: I was, yes.

COOPER: And do you think he was in love with you?

MCDOUGAL: He was, yes.

COOPER: Did Donald Trump ever say to you that he love you?

MCDOUGAL: All the time, you know, he said that he love me.

COOPER: You went to his actual apparent at Trump Tower?

MCDOUGAL: I did. I didn't know what was going there.

COOPER: What did you say -- did he reference Melania at that point?

MCDOUGAL: He did. We passed a room and he said, "This is Melania's room and she likes to have her alone time or to get her way to read," or something like that.

COOPER: How do you feel of being in his apparent?

MCDOUGAL: Guilty, very guilty. I kind of didn't -- I couldn't wait to get out of the apparent, actually.

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

MCDOUGAL: It's a tough one.

COOOPER: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Emotional there. And Kate Bennett, sorry, is OUTFRONT. Kate, look, it was an emotional moment. The First Lady, of course, then today right after that interview which aired last night, made a public appearance in Washington in an event called "The International Women of Courage Award Ceremony." KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Erin. This event at the State Department had them scheduled for Wednesday, but because we get that all that snow here it was pushed to Friday. So it sort of created this ironic and coincidental moment where here were the First Lady discussing women and women of courage and what definition of what it meant to her. Let's take a listen to her earlier today.

[19:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So, again, the first lady has not commented on this latest news with Karen McDougal. She hasn't commented on anything with Stormy Daniels.

If we remember, these headlines have been around, Erin, since January. She has not, you know, followed through with commenting. She's been stoic and silent and continued business as usual. But it must be a very difficult time for the first lady.

BURNETT: Well, certainly, it is. One can only imagine.

Kate, please stay with me.

I want to bring in former Nixon Counsel, John Dean, because, John, obviously when you think about this personally, especially from the perspective of the first lady, look, this is sad and depressing story on many levels. It is important, though, for the president and his presidency. We have now heard Karen McDougal's story. On Sunday, we're going to hear Stormy Daniels story.

How damning could that be for the president?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, they don't help, obviously. And I'm sure it's publicity not only that affects his family life and his children, but it affects his presidency. The effort to keep these women quiet has not worked. We'll see if "60 Minutes" goes ahead on Sunday with the interview with Anderson.

So -- but McDougal was really devastating interview. I listened to it yesterday. And I'm sure it was very difficult at the Trump household.

BURNETT: I can only imagine that it was. Kate. You know you have the president and the first lady at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend, their son is with them. So the president as we know, he likes "60 Minutes". He likes to watch it. We don't -- I can presume he'll watch it, I don't know. This is going to be very difficult.

I mean, will they be together when that program when that Stormy Daniels interview airs? BENNETT: Well, they are not supposed to be, Erin. The president is

going to head back to Washington as planned on Sunday evening. He's scheduled to arrive, I believe, before "60 Minutes" airs. So, the first lady is staying on at Mar-a-Lago, preplanned spring break where she will be there the entire week. So, no, they won't be together.

But I will say this, just adding on, you know, I think in many ways people say, oh, Melania Trump knew what she was getting into it, look at Donald Trump's history, you know, a notorious divorce from Ivana Trump and cheating on her with Marla Maples, which was very public.

But at the same time, no matter whether or not you know your husband is ladies man, or has a history of philandering, the details that were revealed in that interview last night about sharing I love yous, that she was in the apartment, that Melania Trump posed in this picture with her, et cetera, those are the things that I think are the real sort of gut punch, dagger, salt in the wound, whatever you want to call it, moments that for the first lady must be all the more humiliating. And also, this is a first lady extremely private. And so, to have this happen as well in her world is very challenging.

BURNETT: Right.

And, of course, John, when we're talking about this, you know, you're talking not just about federal election law violations, but, you know, in the context of Summer Zervos, another woman in this case with alleged unwanted advances from the president. Her case against him from defamation has been allowed to proceed. He's still fighting it.

But the president cited in that was Bill Clinton's case, right? And obviously with Bill Clinton, it was Monica Lewinsky, it was an extramarital affair that ended up being the impeachable act, not anything related --

DEAN: Actually, it was the Paula Jones case.

BURNETT: Yes. And is that -- is that what this could be for this president, not just the salacious and humiliating details that some people may not want to hear and others find horrific, but the reality that telling a lie can matter for him right now?

DEAN: It sure can. And he's a long way at this point from deposition in that New York case that Gloria Allred filed for her client. It really started during the campaign and his really calling all the women that accused him -- excuse me -- of falsely accusing him.

Now, that case is going to go forward. They are appealing it. It's a very strongly written, well-written attorney by the trial judge in New York. And the big issue is whether or not it does fall within the exception of the Paula Jones case, which is the Bill Clinton case.

And the judge directly addressed that. And leaped over that hurdle and said, listen, states are equally as entitled as federal courts to proceed when a president does an unofficial act, particularly before he becomes president.

[19:35:02] And that's what's involved here.

I think it's just a stall tactic. And they are trying to delay the inevitable of this going forward.

BURNETT: They're trying to delay the inevitable.

Stormy Daniels attorney, Kate, today said if a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words is this worth. It was a tweet. Then came on with Wolf Blitzer, had a picture of a DVD, here's what he said when Wolf asked him about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: That DVD contains evidence substantiating the relationship. And the tweet is a warning shot. I want to be clear about this. It is a warning shot.

And it's 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Kate, how much concern is there in this White House about what he's saying, that they don't just have her word against his word, they have evidence substantiating what she says?

BENNETT: I mean, I think it's very nervous times inside the White House, that sort of nebulous photograph of the CD or DVD or whatever that may be. And the warning shot.

I mean, it all feels very cloak and dagger what could this be. And listen, it's something that they can say it's nonsense, it's tabloidy, it's gossipy, it's denied, et cetera, but I think there are some very real fears what could come out on Sunday night.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, President Trump takes on a former top intelligence official on Twitter, calling out James Clapper. Guess what, he's going so come on and respond to the president next.

And Dow down 1,100 points in two days on fears of a trade war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:32] BURNETT: Breaking news, a CNN exclusive. President Trump's own national security counsel has urged him to take major action against Russia for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the U.K.

The NSC has said that Trump should expel Russian diplomats, some number of them, they didn't give a specific number, but diplomats, a bunch of them from the United States and send them home to Moscow. This puts Trump on the spot because it took his White House ten days to officially blame Russia for the attack, and the president, of course, you may remember, ignored his national security team.

It's very explicit in all caps advice, not to congratulate Putin on his win of an election, and when they said specifically to condemn Putin for the poisoning of the spy, he didn't bring it up on the call at all.

OUTFRONT now, former director of national intelligence, General James Clapper.

General Clapper, great to have you with me. And I just want to start with this breaking news that we have.

Of course, you know, we know the president ignored his advisers' advice, right, to condemn Putin for the poisoning on the phone call this week.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yes.

BURNETT: Now, someone is leaking that his own National Security Council 2wants him to take bold and serious action against Putin by expelling these diplomats. Does the president have a choice given that this has leaked?

CLAPPER: Well, it certainly puts him in a tough place, I think. And, first of all, this recommendation, if it has in fact been formulated by the National Security Council is exactly the right thing to do, and just regrettable, it's a bit late. I think then much more timely, had it been done right after the U.K. expelled or declared PNG 23 Russian diplomats in Britain.

But never too late, I guess. But, yes, it would be interesting to see now how he reacts. And also clear that someone or some group of people in the National Security Council that are making -- are exposing these deliberations are very committed to kind of forcing the president's hand.

BURNETT: Right, and certainly not happy with him. I mean, you know, sort of unprecedented to see this kind of leaking coming out and obviously all of it so negative for the president.

CLAPPER: Right.

BURNETT: Ii want to ask, General, about something the president did about you today. He went out on Twitter, you know, when he was tweeting about the spending bill, he also came out and he tweeted, I want to read this one in full.

House Intelligence Committee votes to release final report findings, one, no evidence provided of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia. Two, the Obama administration's post-election response was in sufficient. Three, Clapper provided inconsistent testimony on media contacts.

Now, I want to emphasize, General, we have not seen the report, which, of course, is put out by the Republican majority on the committee. But I want to start with the president's accusation against you. Clapper provided inconsistent testimony on media contacts.

What's your response to President Trump?

CLAPPER: Well, first, the first thing struck me about -- there were many, many recommendations in this report, at least based on the press release, maybe dozens. I didn't get a chance to count them all up. And I thought it kind of strange that of all the many, many recommendations, most that he -- of the three he cited, one of them pertained to me, which I thought in the relative scheme of things is pretty inconsequential. So, I don't know why -- why he did it.

Secondly, I honestly don't know what they're talking about. My attorney reached out to the majority staff of the House Intelligence Committee to ask for some explanation or clarification, or amplification. And apparently, the process is going to be that they have to submit, and it's 150-page report, to the intelligence community to have it declassified which is a proper procedure, which could, of course, take weeks.

So I don't know when I'll find out about it, but, you know, it kind of blindsided me. They didn't reach out to me to ask me about it. I would just contrast this process with that which was followed by the subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee after Sally Yates and I testified last 8th of May. And there was some confusion about some questions that were asked of me and Senator Graham went on television saying that I had answered inconsistently.

We went back and read informal transcript, and there were a series of three questions, one posed by Senator Graham and two posed by Senator Grassley where they weren't the same question, I answered them differently. And we explained all that to the committee and they accepted it.

BURNETT: OK.

CLAPPER: Which to me is a better process than this. Maybe it was my evil twin. I don't know.

BURNETT: I mean, who knows what he's saying exactly here? But, I mean, if he's saying something like on media contacts, I don't know, that you were speaking to the media when you shouldn't have been, or anything like that. I moon, is that fair in any way?

CLAPPER: No. Well, it's not accurate. If talking about when I was in the government, I did not. Now, certainly afterwards, yes.

BURNETT: You work for CNN.

CLAPPER: I work for CNN. So, I just don't know what it's about.

Now, it could be something as simple as I didn't use the same phraseology in responding to similar question. But I think, frankly, the real point here was to put out a smear, an innuendo, which I can't respond to, because I don't know what they are talking about.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, General Clapper, as always, I appreciate it, sir.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Next, stocks down today. Another huge drop. We're talking about 1,100 points in two days, because the president' announcement tariffs on China.

And students descending on Washington on eve of the March for Our Lives anti-gun rally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:23] BURNETT: Breaking news. Stocks plunge again, Wall Street ending its worst week in two years. The Dow down more than 1,100 points in just the past two days. The president, though, says the stock market is out of this world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the stock market is going to be great. The stock market is way up. When I came in to office, the stock market was from a different planet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right, the roller coaster certainly is from a different planet.

OUTFRONT now, Peter Tuchman. He's a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. He's been there for more than 30 years.

If you recognize his face, you should. He's one of the most photographed traders on Wall Street. These are all the pictures. Whenever you see him on the front page of "USA Today", "Wall Street Journal", it's your picture.

Peter, you have been there through all of these things. Obviously, what is causing this drop? Eleven hundred points in two days. Is this the fear over what we're seeing regarding China?

PETER TUCHMAN, FLOOR BROKER, QUATTRO M. SECURITIES INC.: OK. So, we have seen a year that's been unprecedented this year and the last, let's say, 14 months. Nothing but an up market, and the most recent crack we had in the market was early February.

It was on a Friday afternoon. It was sort of this trifecta, I called it. It was a perfect storm. It was a day we had low unemployment rate numbers came out. They talked about wage growth. There was fear of inflation.

It was the first time that enough economic data made the market roll over. It's the first time we saw it. February didn't end as bad as we thought it was going to be.

BURNETT: Right. TUCHMAN: We caught a bid in the market, right? There was some shoppers out there. But what happened this week was, once again, I think it was even like a quadruple effect at this point.

We had Wednesday, the Fed, Mr. Powell came out. It's our first time seeing him. He was fairly transparent, but he did throw an interest rate raise on the table. I mean, he actually raised it. And we talked about two more this year and three more for '19. OK.

Then, we saw the trade war, the headlines coming out about Mr. Trump and China and tariffs and what-not. And people don't like that, we have seen that don't like that headline at all. OK?

So, we saw a raise. We saw, and then we saw tech. We saw this sort of, you know, the first time we saw the cream of the crop stock, Facebook, OK, suddenly have a crack. OK. It was like everybody's --

BURNETT: All this Cambridge Analytica concern.

TUCHMAN: Well, look, the market's been -- the whole surge has been led by tech. And for the first time, we're seeing something that makes people wonder, make people lack of trust, uncertainty.

BURNETT: Do people in the market believe the president's talk on China? He said steel and aluminum tariffs. He has given a lot of exemptions, though not full, but he's given a lot of exemptions. You know, sort of big talk and then he came back and changed it a bit.

TUCHMAN: Correct.

BURNETT: Do they think he's really going to follow through with something that could cause a trade war with China?

TUCHMAN: You know what? I don't really believe that. It's hard to know what the people upstairs are thinking.

The market usually tells us what it really is thinking about. We have seen two days. We came in this morning after yesterday's sell-off of 700 points, off of what I described the tech turnaround, the raise of interest rates, and a little bit of fear and uncertainty and trust over Facebook, and then -- and then today, it didn't follow through on the opening, right?

The market was solid on the opening. We actually went up 150 points. I think it's that sort of Friday fear. There's a little uncertainty.

I don't think he's going to follow through on a lot of those things. But you know what, the market tells us what it wants to do. I think Monday is going to be really telling. Today's sell-off was a 2:00 market on close, big shift of money into the marketplace.

BURNETT: All right. Well, we will see what happens. But interesting you say that, you don't think he will. It's going to be a test to see what happened. Thank you so much.

TUCHMAN: If his advisers listen to him -- if he listens to his advisers, it may not happen.

BURNETT: The track record on that.

TUCHMAN: Right.

BURNETT: OK. Next, a vigil under way in Washington, people in cities across the country getting ready for the March for Our Lives rally tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:45] BURNETT: A vigil under way right now at the National Cathedral in Washington, ahead of tomorrow's March for Our Lives. For the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, it is an effort to keep their voices being heard.

Diane Gallagher is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAUREN HOGG, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Everybody was saying I love you.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The students movement is crashing the capitol.

HOGG: I'm 14. I shouldn't have to think about getting shot in my school.

GALLAGHER: But before they march on Washington --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What place do you want?

GALLAGHER: They had to get there. Hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students along with their parents and teachers started their journeys on Thursday.

TARYN HIBSHMAN, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We're going to make a statement that teenagers can change the world and these things can't happen without somebody doing something.

GALLAGHER: CNN traveled to D.C. with a group from Parkland. Their seats were on a plane sponsored by the gun control advocacy organization Giffords.

DARREN LEVINE, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We should never have been here, this shouldn't happen. We shouldn't have to come on a plane together at the start of our spring break to march in Washington, to walk for our lives all together.

GALLAGHER: Clad in school colors and hashtags, excited, nervous, and determined to be heard.

DEMITRI HOTH, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: You're not going to be able to ignore us because we're at your doorstep now. So, we're going to stay here and we're going to fight. GALLAGHER: On just a couple hours of sleep, senior Demitri Hoth stood

alongside former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a fellow shooting survivor, demanding change at the highest level.

HOTH: Never again, never again, never again. America, we are your future. Why wouldn't you protect us?

GALLAGHER: Teachers wrangling hundreds of teenagers as they march through the halls of congress, searching for lawmakers to talk about their agenda. Even spending about half an hour with former Vice President Joe Biden, who behind closed doors talked about their unfortunate common bond to finding power in pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look up to him a lot. It was very inspirational.

GALLAGHER: The pain is heard in 14-year-old Lauren Hogg.

2HOGG: (INAUDIBLE) your parents that you love them is the worst thing imaginable.

GALLAGHER: The freshman lost four friends in the massacre at her school on Valentine's Day.

HOGG: I think about my friends every moment of every day. That's what pushes me to do this.

GALLAGHER: And though in the shadows of historic buildings, these teenagers are focused on changing their future.

RYAN SERVAITES, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I think Washington is ready for us. I think we're ready to give them hell.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And that was Dianne Gallagher. Tomorrow, don't miss our special coverage, and more of Dianne's report on the march on CNN.

"AC360" starts now.