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How Will Lawmakers Respond Florida Massacre Survivors?; Trump Names Third National Security Advisor of Presidency; Will Trump Remain Silent About Alleged Affairs? Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 07:00   ET


REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: They can't do it this time. Look at Citibank yesterday, when they joined a whole host of companies who have said, "We're going to make changes to respond to these kids, to respond to this movement. That's what's happening.

[07:00:14] There have been big changes outside of Washington of Washington already. Those companies fleeing the NRA. Those companies who are changing their gun policies. That now that has to be felt here.

And after this march, when hundreds of thousands of kids show up, students and their parents from all around the country and march in 800 cities, they're going to start to feel the pressure in this chamber, and that's going to continue into November.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I'm just being a skeptic because of what we know about the process. And look, when those big corporations, they make changes, that's good. But they don't make laws. When they start changing where they put their lobbying dollars to push for these kind of changes instead of ones that are better for their bottom line, then we'll see their full engagement. But it's going to be about voters. It always has. It always will. And we'll see what happens at the polls. We're coming up on midterms. Closer every day.

Ted Deutch --

DEUTCH: The lobbying power, Chris, of these kids, the strength of their voices resonates so much -- so much more strongly. It's so true. People listen to them and understand what their lives have been like because of the policies, because of the inaction that Congress has year after year after year endured. We don't take that anymore. Their right to march, and Congress has to listen.

CUOMO: I hear you. Ted Deutch, thank you very much for making the case on NEW DAY.

All right. Hey, thanks to you, our international viewers, for watching. For you "CNN TALK" is next. Have a great weekend. For our U.S. viewers, though, we've got big headlines. What do you say? It's Friday. Let's get after it.

Good morning. We're getting after it right now. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is still on assignment. Erica Hill is with me. And once again, we've got a lot to talk about --


CUOMO: -- this morning. President Trump once again shaking up his administration. He just named his third national security adviser in just 14 months. H.R. McMaster, the three-star general, is out. And the former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, is in. A man who is attached to decisions that President Trump has criticized for years.

But here's the big news. This could mean major changes for how the Trump White House deals with North Korea, Iran, and Russia.

HILL: There is also a major shakeup in President Trump's legal team. John Dowd, the president's top personal attorney, resigning over disagreement on how to respond to the Russia investigation. It comes as President Trump insists he still wants to talk to Robert Mueller's investigators.

And breaking overnight, the federal government will not run out of money tonight. The Senate passing a $1.3 trillion spending Bill to fund the government through September.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, always good to have you. Obviously, on this, we have to start with the shakeup that we're seeing in the White House.


HILL: I was going to say, a little bit of whom, because we had two yesterday.


HILL: But I would say that, starting with John Bolton, which obviously had been rumored for some time, had been denied by Sarah Sanders as recently as, I think, Sunday may have been the last time.

HABERMAN: Around then, yes.

HILL: And yet we're hearing just from John Bolton in terms of the announcement that, yes, this had been in the works. And yes, the wheels were turning. But even he was surprised when it came out yesterday afternoon.

HABERMAN: The president has wanted John Bolton for a while, is my understanding. And it had been slow-walked by a number of people. Among them, Mattis and Kelly. Kelly, I think, playing a more frontal role on that. Kelly had wanted McMaster out for a very long time.

Kelly clearly got his wish on McMaster in terms of expediting the time frame. McMaster had told people he hoped to stay through the summer. That just became untenable after all of these reports that he was on the chopping block. He became, he felt, ineffective with world leaders. And that's an understandable position. John Bolton, however, is a loss for John Kelly. I mean, to the extent

that we have set up this president as like a co-president with his top advisors, John Kelly had tried very hard to keep him out.

The president is surrounding himself, as we are seeing, with Larry Kudlow at the National Economic Council, they're now seeing with Bolton, with a lot of people who are not really inclined to tell him no.

What you had with McMaster, what you had with Gary Cohn at the NSC, were people who were trying to serve as sort of moderating forces against the president's instincts and to try to present him with information on the other side of the ledger, instead of just sort of what he sees on TV on policy.

John Bolton had to make very clear coming in that he understands the president is the decider, that he is not going to act like a principle in his own right. We will see how that works. I think that's going to be hard for him. He is somebody who is used to being his own force.

He also advocated a number of foreign policy moves that the president campaigned against. And so melding those two things, again, is going to be interesting.

CUOMO: Well, one little stroke of good luck they'll have is he doesn't have to go through a Senate confirmation.

HABERMAN: Absolutely. Sure.

CUOMO: And that will be very good news for Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump --


CUOMO: -- in this regard, because this man holds a lot of extreme views. I want to give you a taste of a video that's out there about Bolton. This is him -- let's just play it. I want you to hear what he says.


[07:05:10] JOHN BOLTON, INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thank you for this opportunity to address the Russian people on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Russian constitution.

This document signaled a new era of freedom for the Russian people and created a new force for democracy in the world. Were the Russian national government to grant a broader right to bear arms to its people, it would be creating a partnership with its citizens that would better allow for the protection of mothers, children, and families. Good luck on your journey into a new century of freedom.


CUOMO: This is John Bolton, OK. This guy is the national security adviser. He believes that Russia is in some new era of freedom? I mean, that is just demonstrably false. He encourages them to take up the Second Amendment there. Because it is the best way to secure all of their rights. That's certainly not true. In our constitutional democracy, which is about fairness under law, thank God. And he says it's also a great way to make sure you can always gather food.

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: This is the national security advisor.

HABERMAN: I think that, to your point -- and I think it's an excellent one, that he doesn't have to go through a Senate confirmation hearing. You would find so many videos like that, so many tweets, so many columns that he has written on all manner of issues.

Look, he has actually been pretty critical of Trump in terms of sanctions and the lack of imposing them on Russia in the last year. So I think that, in terms of what he has said more recently, it's more in line with what you're seeing the foreign policy committee at large say.

But it is true that he has taken a number of positions that would come into question, and that would be certainly one of them. We're going to be -- look, depending on how aggressively people go -- go after this and start looking into his background, there's going to be weeks of this in terms of what he has said in the past.

It's also important to remember, unlike H.R. McMaster, he has never served in the military. He's not a military commander. We keep talking about him as a warmonger and, certainly, the positions he has taken have echoed a cry toward war or a march toward war. He's never actually implemented almost anything that he has talked about.

And so it will be interesting to watch him slide into that role.

HILL: Interesting, too, because he has said, "Well, look, everything that came before, all of these positions we can all dig up, we can all see. We can see the piece in "The Wall Street Journal" a little less than a month ago, saying that the way, actually -- the legal case for striking North Korea first, right, is how the piece is titled.


HILL: So he has these positions. But he said, "Well, you know, all of that was in the past. Now I served" -- obviously, as you point out -- "I serve for you the president. I'm going to do this."

But you can't ignore those things, to your point. And especially as we are supposed to have this meeting. The president is supposed to have this meeting with Kim Jong-un scheduled before May. And then we have someone coming in and saying, "Well, actually, the best way to do this, let's just go to war."

As we know, the president has had North Korea readily in the back of his mind for a very long time as a massive concern. It was one of the things that most alarmed him during the transition when he met with President Obama, when he learned about what he was facing. That remains the case.

I do think that he now has somebody who is going to -- let's pretend that he didn't advocate for what he advocated in terms of the case for the first strike. He at minimum has somebody who might be more receptive to saying, yes, go ahead and hold these talks. Whereas almost the entire administration has said to the president that was a bad idea and that was another snap decision where he agreed to this meeting. We'll see if the meeting actually happens. But he agreed to this, really, without any consultation. So --

CUOMO: And now what do we know? You are what you believe. You get brought in because of your beliefs.

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: Not because they're hoping you're tabula rasa, right? Because he wouldn't have the pedigree that would in any way satisfy the requirements for this job if it were not for the positions that Trump hears him echo on FOX News all the time. So it's got to be about what's in his head.

That means the Iran deal stands a better chance of being blown up.

HABERMAN: I think that's true.

CUOMO: Fair point?


CUOMO: North Korea is going to be dealt with at least as aggressively as it has been to this point. And diplomacy, even though he's a former U.N. ambassador, will not be more of a priority than it was before him.

And then Russia remains an open question. He has been hard with him about sanctions. But let's see what happens once he gets in there and starts pushing a hard line on Russia and gets pushed back. We'll see where they are. We'll see where he is.

HABERMAN: Yes, that's going to be the telling moment. Right, Chris. Again, we have seen people who have pushed back on this president. One of the things -- it is true the president likes seeing people fight. But I think one of the biggest misconceptions is people in the administration will say he likes having two people lay out their views, and then he picks one. That really isn't true. He just likes watching people fight. He actually knows exactly what he thinks and what he wants; and he wants someone who's going to tell him that he can do what he wants.

And so far, we have not seen anyone who is able to steer him on a different direction on Russia. As we saw again this week, we don't know whether he read the briefing notes that told him "Do not congratulate Putin" on election that has been widely described as fraudulent. But he went ahead and he congratulated him anyway. CUOMO: We were told he received an oral briefing, as well.

HABERMAN: That's right. And he -- as always with this administration, you hear two different -- well, maybe he did. It wasn't brought up on the call. You have to wonder why it wasn't brought up on the call if it wasn't. But regardless, we will see whether Bolton is going to succeed where, basically, no one else has on that front.

CUOMO: Well, look, if this whole latest tumult shows anything, it's that just because they say that something is not true, you can't put any stock in it. You just can't.

HABERMAN: In fact, you can put the opposite. I mean, the two things that happened yesterday, in terms of H.R. McMaster leaving and John Dowd, the lead attorney for the president dealing with the special counsel resigning, those were two things that the president denied was happening very aggressively. Especially about John Dowd, the lawyer. He made a production of this on Twitter. And look what happened.

HILL: I guess it wasn't happening until it did happen.

HABERMAN: Or you could look at it that way.


HABERMAN: It doesn't happen until he says it happens.

HILL: Yes. There we go. All right, Maggie. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So what are we dealing with this morning? Two women, two bombshell interviews. Both detailing alleged affairs with President Trump. But there are legal cases surrounding these. It's not just a question of vanity or personal intrigue here, about sex lives. This is about legal action and what it could mean for the sitting president of the United States. Will he remain silent, President Trump, or is he going to say something about what has been on TV? Maggie stays. We're going to get the inside scoop next.


[07:15:15] HILL: In an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, former Playmate Karen McDougal breaks her silence about an alleged affair with Donald Trump more than ten years ago. It's a relationship the White House says never happened.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hope Hicks has said categorically you did not have a relationship. There's no truth to this. When you heard that denial, what did you think?

KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER "PLAYBOY" MODEL: 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 Hicks -- Hope that he didn't do it, I guess I understand because he's trying to protect his family, image, things like that. But it was definitely like, wow, you're going to lie about that? OK.


HILL: The other bombshell interview Anderson -- with Anderson coming up Sunday when we hear from Stormy Daniels in that "60 Minutes" interview. So will President Trump remain silent about these allegations? I want to bring back in CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman.

I think the money is on yes, that the president remains silent here.

HABERMAN: Yes, I mean, look, I think that -- it's funny. Actually, for a couple of reasons, I think he's going to remain silent. I think one, he has been advised repeatedly, "Do not weigh into this. There is absolutely no upside." I don't actually think he -- I think he recognizes that it will create more oxygen. I don't think that this is making the first lady particularly happy. So I think if you look at it that way, it's not a surprise. These are the two cases that he has stayed silent about, which were supposedly consensual affairs.

Contrast that with the, you know, nine or so women who have accused him of assault, harassment, misconduct. Those he has very vociferously denied. Those were something where he felt sort of attacked.

I think one of the things -- most telling things I ever heard about Donald Trump was, you know, there was a famous "New York Post" first page, and I'll know you'll remember it-- "Best Sex I Ever Had," where supposedly, his second wife, Marla Maples, had said this to a friend. He loved that front page. Most people would have been embarrassed, ashamed, you know, cringing. It was some kind of a badge of honor.

And so I think that there was a degree to which, well, these two cases are uncomfortable for him and they are uncomfortable, potentially, from a legal parameter.

CUOMO: Right.

HABERMAN: I do not think it is from sort of the moral spousal parameter that is bothering him.

CUOMO: Right. Look, if this were a morality play and about what he does in his private life or what his marriage is about, I would have pushed very hard for us to be talking about something else right now.

However, first, the White House, if not the president, has denied these situations.


CUOMO: Right. His counsel has come out and denied vociferously what's going on with Stormy Daniels. So now as a result, we have potential legal exposure to a sitting president of the United States.

HABERMAN: That's right. CUOMO: We know why with Stormy Daniels. I know you've heard a ton of that. We have to see where this case goes and what this interview is about Sunday night.

But on this one, this is -- this is a little bit of a tricky legal situation. Because she's telling her story. She's out there telling it. So the idea of suing for the ability to tell the story winds up being a little moot, as they say.

However, the idea, Jeffrey Toobin says, "I talked to Mr. Pecker from AMI," the parent company of "The Enquirer," who paid this woman, McDougal. Jeffrey says that Pecker said to him in the interview, "Yes, I paid her off for my friend Donald Trump."

Now --


CUOMO: -- we have a potentially legally-sufficient claim that "I told you I wanted to tell my story, and that's why I did this deal. That was my bargain for a change. You said you would give me that. You didn't give it to me, and you did it to help Trump. And maybe he knew."

Now we've got a problem on our hands, at least something that's going to be worth talking about.

HABERMAN: I think that's right. And I think that's what we've been talking about for some time in terms -- certainly, in terms of Stormy Daniels. We have had at the time some reporting that there were other cases involving AMI and involving women who were suddenly put on the payroll or received something.

That does open him up. There is legal exposure there. Exactly what it looks like and where it goes, I don't know. But as we know from the Bill Clinton/Paula Jones case --

CUOMO: Right.

HABERMAN: -- in whatever year that was, '98, '99, this is how -- this is the way in. This is an entry point, potentially. And once you start opening that door, all sorts of things can come out.

I agree with you, that if this was just about his marriage, his personal life, it's his business. If it gets into payoffs, intimidation, third-party payoffs, then we're going into a different area. And we are going to an area that touches not just on the president and how he conducts himself but how the president has conducted his business over many, many -- I mean, his actual company over many, many years. That -- his company was his bedrock for running for president. And so that, I think, is where it gets into a dicey area.

HILL: Well, and that would also open up questions, too, as people look further into that. And how much of that has been brought with him to the White House. HABERMAN: Sure.

HILL: And how much is filtering out.

It's fascinating, too, we don't hear a lot from the first lady, which is obviously understandable in this situation. But out of nowhere, tweeting a picture yesterday of the two of them in the snow storm. That obviously getting a lot of reaction.

What's fascinating, though, is all of these things are happening as all of a sudden, as we talked about in the last block, John Bolton is in.


HILL: John Dowd is out. And so that calls into question again, too. "I'm not talking about these women. I'm not talking about all these things that are going on. But oh, look at this shiny carrot over here. A new national security adviser."

HABERMAN: It's hard not to think that the Bolton thing didn't relate timing wise. I mean, again, I don't -- I've not been told that, to be clear. But you look at the timing and you know his penchant for diversions would not be a surprise at all.

In terms of that picture with the first lady -- again, this is a theory. I've not been told this. You're heading into a spring break. The president is expected to return to Washington. I think the first lady is going to stay at Mar-a-Lago for the duration of their son's spring break. I think at minimum this just sets the tone of, look, we're together.

So when it becomes clear that the president travels, then it's not another question of, you know, "Oh, my goodness. They're not together." I think that -- I think she -- the first lady is in an unenviable and really awful spot.

CUOMO: Yes. And look, you know, we should not be in the business of trafficking in their personal things.

HABERMAN: No, that's right.

CUOMO: But I'll tell you what, if the president dangled Josh [SIC] Bolton as a shiny object, good for him. I'm going to attack it like a striped bass. Because it's a hell of a lot more important to the American people, than even if these legally-sufficient situations are to arise in court. And we'll see. A long way to go on that.

Maggie, nobody knows better than you. Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

All right. Now coming up in just minutes, we're going to talk to counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway. She is spearheading the White House efforts to fight opioids in this country. There are few scourges that are killing us the way that is. What's their plan? We'll talk to her about it. HILL: Also, H.R. McMaster is out. John Bolton is in. So how will the new national security advisor for President Trump impact the way he deals with adversaries? We'll ask General Michael Hayden next.


[07:26:00] HILL: President Trump replacing his national security adviser H.R. McMaster with a controversial pick: former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. The former FOX News -- FOX News personality known for his hawkish views. A source telling CNN Bolton has told the president, however, he wouldn't start any wars.

Joining us now, CNN national security analyst General Michael Hayden. He's the former head of the NSA and CIA.

Good to have you with us as always.


HILL: Good morning. Do you believe that, based on everything we have seen and heard and read from John Bolton over the last number of decades that he does not intend to start any wars?

HAYDEN: Well, I don't think he has the authority to start any wars. But I do think John Bolton being national security adviser will push the president and the nation in a more dangerous course when it comes to some really key international security issues.

He's a hawk on North Korea. He's going to urge the president to rip off the Iranian nuclear deal. All of those are going to set things in motion, Erica, and we will not be able to control where they end up.

HILL: And what is your biggest fear, in terms of where setting things in motion pushes us?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, it pushes us away from diplomacy, away from international consensus, and more on the direction of what we would call kinetic options, where the only thing left on the table that you have to play is the armed forces of the United States.

Look, when John was announced yesterday, I had the thought that I could not remember a national security adviser who was more unilateral in his point of view than Ambassador Bolton. He's also very hawkish, as you point out. Somewhat ideological. And no one has ever accused John of being a consensus builder.

And so now we've got someone very close to the president whose instincts on a lot of things are very much like the president's. And H.R. was somewhat of a different kind of advisor.

HILL: Well, and to your point there, one of the things that we're also hearing is that it's been made very clear to John Bolton, and he has, obviously, accepted these terms, that it is the president's word. And he serves at the pleasure of the president. We always know that to an extent, obviously. But to look at this from the viewpoint of what the president says will

go, "Yes, you're my adviser, but I'm not necessarily listening to outside ideas. I'm not necessarily bringing in an H.R. McMaster anymore to perhaps offer different viewpoints to give me a better sense of what's out there. We are going with my way or the highway."

HAYDEN: Yes. And isn't that the scary part, Erica? I mean, the reason you have a National Security Council staff, the reason you have an interagency process is to tee up for the president a variety of options in the hope, maybe even in the expectation that you can actually influence presidential decision making.

But now you've got -- you've got John, Ambassador Bolton, next to the president. I think their instincts are near identical when it comes to Iran. I think both of them want to be tough on North Korea. I think -- I think the only really core area of contention between their instinctive views comes on Russia. And despite that video that you all showed a few minutes ago, John actually is a bit of a hawk on Russia. And that will be an interesting dynamic between him and the president when it comes to the relationship with Vladimir Putin.

HILL: He has called Russian interference in the election, quote, "false -- a false flag operation."

I do want to get your take on this, a swell, though. "The Daily Beast" reporting Guccifer 2.0, the lone hacker, of course, who gave credit for giving WikiLeaks those e-mails from the DNC.

But in fact, this person was an officer of Russia's military intelligence director. What are you hearing on that front?

HAYDEN: Yes. Actually, that is just additional detail that confirms, I think, the plot line that we knew was true all along. This is just additional confirmation.