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White House: Trump Doesn't Believe Stormy or Threat Claims; Trump Administration Moves Against Russia Expelling 60 Diplomats; Interview with Stormy Daniels' Friend Alana Evans on Alleged Trump Affair. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 26, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: And we heard Stormy Daniels tell Anderson Cooper and what Karen McDougal told Anderson Cooper that make the stories sound more credible.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It's interesting, Josh Rogin, you heard something fairly consistent from White House spokespeople, which is to set the limits for what they could comment on truthfully. Raj Shah said we'll give you the best information that we have available. He referred questions on the payment and any legal agreement with Stormy Daniels to Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer there. Setting a little bit of a separation, because Raj Shah has been challenged that there are times information from the podium turned out not to be true.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANAYST: That's right. And they don't know what's coming next. Stormy Daniels's attorney is holding things back. The strategy is drip, drip, drip. They have a photo of a disc. What's on the disc? We don't know. The White House has to be careful with anything it says. If there is actual evidence that what they are saying is wrong, they may not know about it. So they just have to say as little as possible and hope they don't contradict themselves.

SCIUTTO: Worth noting, both sides are trying to manage the message, trying to control the story and the news cycle, dominate the news cycle the best they can.

ROGIN: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Kim, of course, the other big headline here, the White House moves against Russia, expelling 60 Russian diplomats. The strongest Trump administration response to Russian activity of this administration.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. After the recent passing of sanctions against specific Russian oligarchs this is the longest expulsion since the '80s under Reagan. The message to Russia is we will line up with our NATO and E.U. allies if you push us. But Trump allies are saying the reason he hasn't shamed Putin directly in some conversations about this is he's trying to keep an avenue open saying, you know, we are treating you with respect. We are saying this is a red line, but if you want to behave according to international norms, the door is still open.

SCIUTTO: I tried to keep count. I couldn't keep count the number of times Raj Shah said we want to work with Russia. These are areas like counterterrorism and elsewhere, keeping open the door to contact with Russia. Josh, I should note it's different from the language you hear from European capitals. If you listened to Theresa May today, Europeans expressing more public alarm about the attack than you have heard from the White House.

ROGIN: Right. What a great example of the fact that in this administration we have two foreign policies -- the bureaucrats' and the president's foreign policy. There is a difference, but they interact in interesting and unpredictable ways. You have a national security agency squad that wants to get tough on Russia, respond with sanctions, confront them on interference around the world and the president has been emphasis on making the U.S.-Russia relationship better. Those things are happening in parallel to each other. In this case, as Raj Shah said clearly, they had no choice. If you want to get along with Russia, it takes two to tango. If Putin is going to deliver chemical weapons on the streets of London, well, that forces our hand. Even President Trump has to respond to that.

SCIUTTO: You have to look at it that way. As Raj Shah noted, dozens of people were poisoned by this. The nerve agent is a chemical weapon. You have to look at it as a chemical weapon terror attack on the soil of a close U.S. ally.

ROGIN: Right. You are seeing an acknowledgment that the strategy of just being nice to Russia to work with them doesn't work. The way to deal with Putin is he'll push until he meets resistance. When he meets resistance he'll stop. Then you can have a negotiation. If you want to work together on terrorism, Syria, Ukraine, OK, we can have a conversation. You can't have the conversation while you let Putin and his government run roughshod over customs and kill people on European soil.


SCIUTTO: He may not necessarily pull back. Just ask the Ukraine where Russia is today.

DOZIER: Yes. Yes.


DOZIER: Putin respects force, but one of the problems with today is, yes, you had to do it, but is it going to change Russian behavior? Probably not. This message has worked for Vladimir Putin with his people that the west is against us. Now, look, they are all acting against us. So there is going to be a lot of support for reciprocity. What I have heard from former intelligence agent officers who used to work inside Russia, what they are worried about is some of our best people are probably about to get thrown out just at the time we need to be watching everything Moscow is doing.

[14:34:35] SCIUTTO: You said some of their best people, some of the best spies, of course.

Kim, Josh, Juana, thank you very much. Next, we'll speak to a personal friend of Stormy Daniels who said she

was there in Lake Tahoe the very night Stormy Daniels allegedly had that affair with Donald Trump. She's also willing to take a lie detector. Her reaction to what the White House said. The Stormy Daniels story isn't credible, they claim. That interview is after this.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. More now on allegations made in a "60 Minutes" interview with porn star, Stormy Daniels. In the last few minutes, White House deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, said President Trump denies he had an affair with Stormy Daniels, saying that the president does not believe that any of the claims Ms. Daniels made in the interview are accurate.

To remind you, she claimed, among other things, that she was threatened physically in 2011 after trying to sell the story of her alleged tryst with Donald Trump. Have a listen.


[14:39:56] STORMY DANIELS, FORMER PORN STAR: I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. The seat was facing backwards, diaper bag, getting all the stuff out. A guy walked up on me and said to me, leave Trump alone, forget this story. Then he leaned around, looked at my daughter and said, that's a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom. Then he was gone.


SCIUTTO: Here's what the White House had to say about the allegations just moments ago.


RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I can speak for only the White House. I can say categorically that obviously the White House didn't engage in any wrongdoing. The campaign or Mr. Cohen can address anything with respect to their actions. With respect to that interview, I will say the president strongly, clearly, and has consistently denied these underlying claims. The only person who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims.


SCIUTTO: I'm joined now by adult film actress, Alana Evans, a personal friend of Stormy Daniels.

Alana, I know you spoke with us last week before the interview with Anderson Cooper aired. You heard the White House dismissing your friend Stormy Daniels's account out of hand. I'm curious what your reaction is.

ALANA EVANS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS & PERSONAL FRIEND OF STORMY DANIELS: Anger instantly because by dismissing Stormy's claims you're yet again dismissing the words that I have shared about being there in Tahoe and the things that I know happened, especially with Donald Trump calling me with Stormy from that hotel room that night. I'm tired of watching us be called liars again and again to protect a person who is lying even if he is the president of the United States.

SCIUTTO: To remind our viewers, because this is important, when things like this happen to women, this woman, your friend Stormy Daniels, confided in you. She told you details of this relationship. That's what you're saying here about that conversation in Lake Tahoe.

EVANS: I was actually invited to join Trump and Stormy that very night. She called me repeatedly asking me to join her. Watching the "60 Minutes" interview and seeing her talk about she knew she was putting herself in a bad place by going to his room alone, being the person and friend she was calling that night I feel horrible now that I didn't go with her and that I made my friend go to his room by herself when she was asking me to be there. So many emotions I'm feeling now after watching that interview and even different emotions now from watching the press briefing. I'm very frustrated about the consistent lies that keep coming from that office. He's saying he believes her accusations aren't true. He was there. He knows that they are true.

SCIUTTO: There was really multiple lines of attack from the White House podium on Stormy Daniels. One, Raj Shah, the deputy press secretary, saying the president doesn't believe that Stormy Daniels was threatened. So questioning the credibility of that story. He said there is nothing to corroborate her claims. And also said she's been inconsistent. In fact, you're saying what she told you corroborates that claim. And you're also saying you were in the room when the president called her as it happened.

EVANS: The president and Stormy together called me. The two of them on the phone at the same time calling me from his hotel room. And, yes, I have said this before. But they keep calling me a liar. Stormy herself has taken a lie detector test. I have yet to be asked to take one but, at this point in time, I'm absolutely prepared to do that. I am tired of being called a liar. I know she is, too.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you, what do you say to the people -- and there are, some the president's supporters -- saying Stormy is trying to profit from this story being in the news. How do you react to that charge?

EVANS: That's what everyone is going to say when a woman wants to come forward and tell her story. We are always accused of seeking financial gain when the reality is she's just telling the truth. She said in the interview last night she might be receiving more bookings, but you have to think about the danger that we are putting ourselves in by speaking out. It doesn't outweigh the financial gain in the least. In fact, the money doesn't make up for the stress, the hate, the awful things being said about us. There is no money you could pay us to make up for that.

[14:44:47] SCIUTTO: As she said in the interview, her daughter was there, and she felt her daughter in addition to herself was being threatened.

Alana, please stay there. We have more time, and there is more I want to ask you about, including whether Stormy Daniels has evidence perhaps of this alleged affair.

Please stay with us.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. We are here with Alana Evans, a friend of Stormy Daniels, who Stormy Daniels told of her alleged affair with President Trump back in 2011.

Alana, thanks for staying with us.

Let me ask you something. The president himself has never personally denied this, whether a public comment on Twitter or on Twitter, one of his favorite ways of communicating with the world. He's left it to the White House and he's left it to his lawyers. What's your reaction to that, the president not himself coming out and calling Stormy Daniels a liar here?

[14:49:45] EVANS: Well, as you know, when I'm speaking, when Stormy is speaking, when Karen is speaking, you're watching my reaction and you're reading me to see if I'm telling you the truth. I don't think you'll ever see Donald Trump speaking about his affair. And I'm not going to bother calling it alleged. Speaking about his affair with Stormy because he's not going to be able to lie when people are actually watching him.

SCIUTTO: You heard, of course, and she's told you about this threat. You said at times that she even feared for her life following this threat. Did she ever describe to you who specifically delivered that threat to her? What the person looked like, who they might be?

EVANS: The interview last night was the first time that I had heard about this particular threat. I know of other threats that have been received, the e-mail and things like that, but I hadn't heard about this before. I will say at that time in Stormy's life, we weren't seeing each other or speaking as much because she had remarried and had a new family and we just weren't running in the same circles at that time.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about this then. Stormy Daniels' lawyer has hinted at times to the possibility that she has evidence of their alleged affair, whether it be text messages, even videos, still images. Do you know, are you aware that she has any such evidence? Has she spoken to you about it or shown you anything along those lines?

EVANS: I am unaware about text messages or pictures or any type of evidence she might have that would fit on a disk. All I know is that Stormy still has the dress that she wore from that night.

SCIUTTO: And she kept that for what reason? EVANS: Maybe a keepsake. Maybe because it's actual proof. I can

only speculate the things that may be on that dress, especially if it's never been washed.

SCIUTTO: Understood. We'll leave that there.

I want to ask you this as well, because this gets to what changed in her approach to this. She signed a nondisclosure agreement, accepted this money days before the election, $130,000. Why do you believe that Stormy Daniels chose to break her nondisclosure agreement now and give this far-ranging interview where she gives details of this relationship?

EVANS: She's giving an interview to a renowned news show, first of all. She's not being paid for an interview like this. And I think we're getting to a place where there is so much talk and so much speculation, so many horrible accusations, people's opinions, people's threats coming against her that I would imagine she's tired of all of the naysayers, the White House trying to discredit her truth. And so coming forward and explaining to the rest of the world things that people like me already knew, I think she was ready. It's time. As she's approaching the lawsuit, we are all watching Cohen and Trump more than double down on her with this ridiculous $20 million lawsuit that they're bringing against her. It's time. It's time for her to speak out. There's no more damage that they can do at this point other than continue to try to defame us.

SCIUTTO: Well, Alana, you're speaking out as well. I know this is a difficult topic to talk about, and I know that Stormy is your friend, so it's difficult for you to experience that.

I want to thank you for taking the time and giving us honest answers to our questions.

EVANS: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I just want to defend my friend because I'm tired of watching the way she's being treated over what I know is true.

SCIUTTO: I hear you.

Best of luck to you.

Back now to our other breaking news, the Trump administration announcing today strict penalties against Russia, perhaps the toughest penalties imposed by this administration yet on Russia. We'll have a live report as to how Russia is responding, calling it a grave mistake.

[14:54:09] Also a stunning revelation, the father of the Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando worked as a secret FBI informant long before that shooting happened. Could this upend the case against the gunman's wife?


SCIUTTO: Hello. Top of the hour. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Brooke Baldwin today.

The White House issuing a strong denial to the accusations by adult film star, Stormy Daniels, who has alleged an affair with then-private citizen, Donald Trump, and the alleged threat she received afterwards.

I'm going to play the White House reaction, but first, what Daniels said on "60 Minutes" just last night.


DANIELS: I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. I was taking the seats facing backwards in the back seat, diaper bag, getting all the stuff out. A guy walked up on me and said to me, leave Trump alone, forget the story. Then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said a beautiful little girl. It would be a shame if something happened to her mom, and then he was gone.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, A.C. 360: You took it as a direct threat?

DANIELS: Absolutely. I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class and my hands were shaking so much I was afraid I would drop her.

COOPER: Did you ever see the person again?

DANIELS: No. But if I did, I'd know it right away.


COOPER: You'd be able to recognize that person?

DANIELS: One hundred percent. Even now, all these years later. If he walked in right now, I would instantly know.

COOPER: Did you go to the police?



DANIELS: Because I was scared.


SCIUTTO: She was scared.

But just moments ago, at the White House press briefing, deputy White House press secretary, Raj Shah, delivering the strongest denial to date in response to those allegations.