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V.A. Secretary Shulkin Next to Go?; Stormy Daniels Breaks Silence in "60 Minutes" Interview; Sacramento Police Muted Body Cams After Fatally Shooting Stephon Clark. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired March 26, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:31:18] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Expect more shake-ups inside the Trump administration and soon, a close friend of the president says he is ready to make one or two major changes, more changes, to the administration. Justice sources tell CNN that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin could be pushed out as early as this week.
Our Kaitlan Collins live at the White House with the latest -- Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. David Shulkin, the V.A. secretary, has actually been on the chopping block for several weeks now. And the only reason he's still around really is that the president couldn't find someone, a clear replacement to take his spot over at the V.A. But now our sources have indicated that he could be gone as soon as this week and it is seeming imminent.
And David Shulkin was actually the one who used to be a favorite of the president's, but he's been on thin ice for several weeks especially in light of that damning inspector general's report that showed that Shulkin and his wife used taxpayer money during a trip to Europe. But if you ask the deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley how long Shulkin is going to remain on in the administration, this is what he had to say this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The bottom line is we all serve at the pleasure of the president and if he's not pleased, you'll know it. At this point in time, though, he does have confidence in Dr. Shulkin. He is the secretary. He's done some great things at the V.A.. But as you know, the president wants to put the right people in the right place at the right time and that could change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, John, you've got to take that confidence from the press secretary there with a grain of salt because of course they also maintained that the National Security adviser H.R. McMaster wasn't going anywhere just one week before the president replaced him with John Bolton. So we've got to keep that in mind there.
But this also comes as the White House is saying that there isn't some big staff shake-up under way, but we've actually seen the departure of several people, the last month, just since the end of February, not just a communications director in Hope Hicks, but also the chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, the National Security adviser, as I just mentioned, H.R. McMaster, the secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president's personal aide, and if you see that last one there, one of those recent ones, is John Dowd, who was the lead attorney on the president's legal team.
He resigned last week. And they hired Joe DiGenova, who's only here for essentially a matter of days, not even formally here in this role and they've since announced over the weekend that he will actually not be joining the president's outside legal team because of conflicts of interest. Leaving the president with just one lawyer, Jay Sekulow, on the outside, dealing with the president's response to the special counsel's investigation here, John.
So a lot going on here at the White House. We have not heard from the president on either of these fronts this morning. He's been tweeting about fake news and the economy. And one interesting thing I'd like to note is that the president follows 45 accounts on Twitter and for a brief period this morning, a very brief period, in fact, the president actually followed CNN on Twitter but then after it began, people started pointing it out and noting that he had followed another account, CNN, the president unfollowed CNN -- John.
BERMAN: I think maybe he was doing that just so he could send us direct messages, but rest assured, Mr. President, you don't have to DM us, you can call us. Call in right now if you'd like.
Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks very much.
The U.S. expels dozens of Russian diplomats, accusing some of espionage. We new developments on this breaking story. Stay with us.
[10:38:34] BERMAN: Stormy Daniels on "60 Minutes," the highest rated episode of that show in more than a decade. We believe more than 20 million people watched, so what will the political impact be?
Joining me now, CNN political commentators Robby Mook and Alice Stewart.
Alice, I read your Twitter, I know that you think there are three major takeaways here. Number one, both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are special, according to President Trump. Number two, credible according to many people who watched it and not fake news. That's based on the fact that the president hasn't said anything about this. Explain.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I mean, I don't think they're special. That's certainly as you said the president thinks so. There is quite a few similarities. He called them both special. He compared them to his daughter and also they had private dinners or encounters in his hotel, and so there is a lot of similarities in their stories, which in my view makes them very credible. And the fact that the president who loves to push back anytime he is attacked has been silent, deadly silent on this issue, I believe leads to the credibility of their stories.
But we're past the point of whether or not we believe if the president of the United States cheated on his third wife with a porn star and a Playboy Playmate, we've gotten to the point to where the concerns are whether or not there is a legal implications on this, using campaign dollars to pay off these women, for hush money, and then now what we learned last night is, was someone pushed by the president to threaten Stormy Daniels into remaining silent.
[10:40:07] Those are the consequences politically, and the fallout, look, I speak with a lot of people in the evangelical community and they have given him a Mulligan on this provided that these allegations stay in the past and that he continues to honor his campaign promises, specifically with regard to the life issue, appointment of Neil Gorsuch, and it's no coincidence in my view that Friday he doubled down on the transgender ban in the military. And issues like that if he continues to tow the line then evangelicals will continue to have his back.
BERMAN: Yes. I mean, I don't golf, but we would all love a Mulligan the size of the one that he's getting right now from the evangelical community on this issue.
BERMAN: Robby, look, you have dealt running against Donald Trump in the last election with scandals before. Every time a new scandal would come up, people would say this is the one that is going to sink him. What about this might last? You think that the campaign finance issues are real.
ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And there is -- from everything I know, there is literally no question that there was a violation of the law here. Donald Trump's lawyer has admitted that he used his personal money to pay someone off, and the paper work that we have seen proves that the purpose of that payment was for that person not to say anything 11 days before the election. So in my mind there is literally no question of whether the law was broken.
I think the piece that would need to be filled in to implicate the president directly is whether the president knew about it. And just strains all credulity, the idea that Trump's lawyer would -- you know, it sounds like he took out a loan on his house or something like that, that he would put out $130,000 and that, A, the president wouldn't know about it, and B, the president wouldn't reimburse him for it.
It just -- there is no way that that's possible. So, yes, I think this is very real. And if those things happened, it is against the law. And so, you know, with all this talk about the Mueller investigation, which is also incredibly serious, the whole question there is, did anybody break the law. But staring at us right in the face here is an example where they did.
BERMAN: The issue, the John Edwards precedent, is, was it exclusively for a campaign or could there be personal reasons why you wanted to keep someone silent. People do have nondisclosure agreements.
Robby, I guess my question is, why would this be different than the "Access Hollywood" tape in terms of the president's political support?
MOOK: Well, that's a good question. I mean, to Alice's point, he is getting a total pass on this from the evangelical community, which in my mind just proves how frankly morally corrupt the, quote-unquote, spokespeople for that community are. In fact they're just a political operatives like anybody else.
I don't think the president will pay a political price for his infidelity. And again, I think you should bring on this show all the people who have been so high and mighty when other politicians have been in similar situations and refused to do so now.
Again, I think what really matters here is the law was broken, and I want to know who is investigating and where this is going. And at what point we're going to -- at what point will we learn the president's role.
BERMAN: Alice Stewart, 60 Russian diplomats expelled or being expelled from the United States. This is in response to the nerve agent attack that took place in the United Kingdom. Is this action enough from the administration and does the president's rhetoric at some point need to match that action?
STEWART: At this point I think it's the perfect action at the right time. It was important that we stood with the U.K., we stood with our allies across the world, and standing up to Putin. It was critical that we send the message that the action of Russia do have consequences and it's important we show that we stand with our Western allies.
And look, the White House made a very good point, we want to continue to have -- try and build a relationship with Russia. But they have to change their actions. They cannot engage in this type of behavior with regard to chemical weapons in the U.K. And it's important that we stand firm and together on this.
Now ideally we'll hear from the president himself and he will make a statement on this right now. We're hearing from his spokespeople which in my view that is sufficient, that's what they're there for, they're to speak for the president, as well as Nikki Haley. But in my view, the actions here are sufficient with the times, they may beef up if necessary, but it's critical that he do stand up to Putin.
I think we would also see him standing up with regard to Russia interference in our election, but right now this is the appropriate action at the appropriate time.
BERMAN: Robby Mook, Alice Stewart, great to have you with us, guys. I appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks, John.
MOOK: Thanks. BERMAN: All right. An unarmed black man shot 20 times by police in
California, then a few minutes later officers apparently muted their body cams. Why?
[10:49:23] BERMAN: All right, new this morning, Sacramento police officers muted their body cameras about seven minutes after they fatally shot an unarmed black man at his grandmother's backyard last week.
Dan Simon live for us in Sacramento -- Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, John. The muted audio is something that definitely creates suspicion and even the chief of the police department has acknowledged that. Now the question is why did they turn it off? And we don't know that. The department policy does allow them to turn off the cameras and the microphones in very narrow circumstances, but it's not clear why they would have done so in this particular case.
In the meantime, John, the family has hired a very prominent civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump, and I asked him what was so disturbing about looking at that police video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:50:08] BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF STEPHON CLARK: It shocks the conscience when you think about somebody being shot 20 times. As you watch that video and you say, my god, they didn't even give him a chance to comply or anything. They just started shooting within five to seven seconds. The family of Stephon Clark is united and resolute in exploring every legal remedy possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: His last response there was in response to my question in terms of whether or not the family plans to file a lawsuit against the city of Sacramento. He would not answer that question directly, but, of course, as you can imagine there is every expectation that the family will -- John.
BERMAN: And, Dan Simon, I understand that NBA teams last night playing in Sacramento released some PSAs on this subject.
SIMON: This is a very powerful statement, John. This was the Boston Celtics versus the Sacramento Kings. In the pregame warm-up, you saw players from both sides wearing special T-shirts that said "Accountability, we are one," and the name Stephon Clark in the back. And they did create this video and I want you to take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not stick to sports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not shut up and dribble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is bigger than basketball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change can be uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change is necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must unite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say his name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stephon Clark.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stephon Clark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: So certainly an impactful statement from the players and once again we are seeing sports trying to bring the community together and it seems like the community is definitely, you know, wrapping their arms around that message -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Dan Simon, thank you very much.
We did get some breaking news just in to CNN. Moments ago, we learned the Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook for its privacy practices. This stems, of course, from the revelation last week that Cambridge Analytica, that group, harvested data from some 50 million people, from their Facebook accounts, apparently without their knowledge.
Again a Federal Trade Commission investigation now into Facebook. We'll be right back.
[10:57:02] BERMAN: So the Final Four is finally set with a Cinderella lurking among some college powerhouses. Coy Wire has much more on March Madness. Hey, Coy.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. What a game last night, two basketball blue bloods going into an overtime thriller. Kansas and Duke duking it out for a chance to advance to the Final Four. And it was looking like the Blue Devils would kick Kansas to the curb with just under 30 seconds to go, down by three. But two seniors stepped up. Devonte Graham to Svi Mykhailiuk, fluent in three languages, yes, that's money talk right there.
The game time three. But Duke would have one more shot in the final seconds. Grayson Allen, his shot is like time stood still. It bounced around the rim, but somehow it fell out, it doesn't go. So to overtime we go. Kansas said, man, that was too close for comfort right there.
In overtime, it was Malik Newman for Kansas, he scored all 13 of their points, leading the Jayhawks to the win. They're on their way to the Final Four, which is in San Antonio, and 10 years ago, that's the exact same place Kansas won their last national title.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEVONTE GRAHAM, KANSAS GUARD: We do it for moments like this. And it is special, you know, especially getting here, this same game last two years and losing it. You know, it's just getting over that hump and it just feels unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: The celebration in the locker room, incredible. Throwing water all over the place.
So that also meant there was a party going on back on campus. One person tweeted, "100 percent chance I'm nude on Massachusetts street if KU wins tonight." And the police department retweeted back saying, "100 percent chance that's a bad decision and it won't go well." Then they tweeted this, they may be the coolest police department on the planet, "If Jayhawks advanced, plastic cups downtown, good. Burning couches, no. High-fiving the cops, rock on, rooftop parties, absolutely no."
Well, after Kansas won, check out the scene. There it was. Massachusetts street. Their team had gotten knocked out in the Elite Eight the past two seasons. But now they're partying, they're moving on to the Final Four and the good old Lawrence PD, "Plastic cups, check, celebratory atmosphere, check," and yes, they're all on to the Final Four. That is next Saturday.
And you're going to have Kansas playing the other one seed, Villanova, in the late game. And then it's Cinderella, Loyola-Chicago, they're taking on Michigan.
The Final Four bound Loyola Ramblers, they return home to a hero's welcome yesterday and they had in tow their 98-year-old team chaplain Sister Jean. It's Loyola's first appearance in the Final Four since 1963 and that year, John, they also won the national title.
BERMAN: Well, there you go. Sister Jean, driving things.
All right. Coy Wire, thank you very, very much. I really appreciate it.
I think I had Michigan doing OK, maybe, in one of my pools? We'll see. 3
Thank you, all, so much for joining me today. I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. We begin with breaking news, President Trump sending a powerful message to Moscow.