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Stormy Daniels Breaks Silence In "60 Minutes" Interview; Trump Weighing Recommendation to Expel Russian Diplomats; Will Trump Stay Silent On Stormy Daniels Scandal?; Students Pledge To Take On Lawmakers At Ballot Box Over Guns. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 26, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: If you offer to sell me your house and only I sign it, that doesn't mean you have to sell your house.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I understand, but why didn't you challenge him in on this at that moment? Why not when she signed it, say hey, this isn't signed by Donald Trump? Why now all these months later?

AVENATTI: Well, I wasn't her counsel at the time.

CAMEROTA: So if you had been, you would have said this agreement is null and void?

AVENATTI: What I'll say is this. Had I been her counsel this would have been handled quite a bit differently.

CAMEROTA: This is what the lawyer from Michael Cohen is saying to you. This is a statement that has just come out.

"I hereby demand that you and your client cease and desist from making any further false and defamatory statements about my client. That you immediately retract and apologize to Mr. Cohen through the national media for your defamatory statement on "60 Minutes" and make clear that you have no facts or evidence whatsoever to support your allegation that my client had anything whatsoever to do with this alleged thug."

Are you going to cease and desist from all of this?

AVENATTI: We're just getting started.

CAMEROTA: Do you have any apology for Michael Cohen, just suggesting that he was connected a thug in a garage somewhere?


CAMEROTA: Last night, Stormy Daniels said something really interesting that I had not heard before. She said that she wasn't attracted to Donald Trump. She said that she did not want to have sex with Donald Trump. She also said that this was completely consensual.

Make sense of that for me.

AVENATTI: She agreed to have sex with him at the time. I think -- I think there may be a lot of women that have found themselves in a similar situation over the course of their lifetime and have perhaps given in to something that they really didn't want to do at the time.

CAMEROTA: But why? Why did she do that?

AVENATTI: Well, I can't really answer that question relating to why she did it. I think that, you know, she was 27 years of age at the time. She was impressionable. She wasn't a teenager by any stretch of the imagination. But, you know, I think people find themselves in situations all the time and they make decisions that perhaps they regret.

CAMEROTA: But did she think that she was going to get something out of that?

AVENATTI: I don't think she did it to get something. I think she was in the moment and she made that decision.

CAMEROTA: I mean, it was just curious to hear her -- we had not heard her say that she was not attracted to him and didn't want to have sex with him. Generally, a consensual relationship means that you're both in it together and so that was just curious.

AVENATTI: I don't think my client is the only woman in the last 100 years that perhaps ended up having sex with a man that she really didn't want to have sex with.

CAMEROTA: Are police investigating now the threat that she revealed last night that was made to her when she had her infant daughter with her?

AVENATTI: Not to the best of my knowledge.

CAMEROTA: Should they be?

AVENATTI: I think they should. I think it's a pretty serious matter. I know we are.

CAMEROTA: I mean, how will that -- how will we know the truth of that? How will we get to the bottom of that?

AVENATTI: Well, we're going to get to the bottom of it because we're going to find out who that was and who hired him, although I'm fairly clear as to who hired him.

CAMEROTA: And that is?

AVENATTI: Well again, I think it's fairly obvious. It's got to come from someone associated with The Trump Organization.

CAMEROTA: Michael Avenatti, thank you very much.

AVENATTI: Thank you. CAMEROTA: We will continue to talk to you and see where this develops. Thanks so much --

AVENATTI: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: -- for being here -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a lot to discuss there but we won't.

Here's the tease. Will the U.S. act against Russia in response to the nerve agent attack in the U.K.? What the National Security Council is recommending to President Trump, next.


[07:37:28] CUOMO: We have some breaking news, too.

Austin police officers have been injured after a suspect opened fire on them. Police say the officers were responding to an unknown emergency after someone called 911 for help. When police knocked on the door no one answered and then a gunman started firing.

One of the officers was shot, another was injured somehow. None of the injuries are said to be life-threatening.

Police say the SWAT team shot and killed the suspect after a standoff.

Meantime, police in Jersey City are investigating the deadly shooting of an off-duty officer Sunday. Officers responding to another 911 call. This one found him inside a house with a gunshot wound. He later died at the hospital.

CAMEROTA: Saudi Arabia's air force intercepting seven missiles fired from Yemen on Sunday. In a statement, Saudi leaders said debris falling on residential neighborhoods killed a man. They are blaming Houthi rebels for the latest missile attack.

This is not the first time the Saudi Kingdom has been targeted. After previous incidents, the Saudis launched airstrikes on the Yemeni capital.

CUOMO: More breaking news, this out of Russia.

At least 64 people are dead, dozens are missing after a fire ripped through a shopping mall in Siberia. Officials say the fire broke out on the top floor of the four-story building. Twenty were rescued from the burning building. At this point, it's unclear what started the fire.

CAMEROTA: And, President Trump could decide today whether to expel a group of Russian diplomats from the United States. The move would be in retaliation for the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

A source tells CNN the president's National Security Council is recommending this move, adding European diplomats are getting optimistic signals that the president will expel a significant number of Russians.

This would be an interesting development.

CUOMO: Well, one, this would be an echo pattern from what we saw with Obama when he got -- expelled those guys and took back one of their props (ph) here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, which is why it would be so interesting because --

CUOMO: So --

CAMEROTA: -- this is obviously not the way President Trump generally deals with Russia.

CUOMO: Right, but it just shows if you want to go that way there's an established conformity there where we're done this before so that would make it an easy path.

What is unusual here is the deliberativeness, right? Tariffs -- everybody tells him not to do it and he jumps right in because he likes it.

Here, they're having to push him along and massage it. Why? The same question remains.

CAMEROTA: All right.

CUOMO: All right.

So, Stormy Daniels, the Playmate case, the third case that's out, the other allegations that are out there -- you have the private side of this and the prurience, and how you feel about it. Then you have the legal issues and the exposure to the presidency. There's a big difference. We'll explain, next.


CUOMO: The president has ignored questions about the Stormy Daniels scandal for weeks and that's very unusual. He is an active opponent. Well, it doesn't matter because her story is now out in the open and there are big legal implications for her in that and maybe, political ones for him.

So let's discuss. We have CNN political analyst Julie Pace and Josh Green.

So, Julie, what do you think moved the needle from the Stormy Daniels interview?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think certainly the fact that she offered in more detail this idea of being threatened by people that she felt were connected to Trump, and that that seems to have been one of her motivating factors both in staying silent and then signing these multiple agreements saying that there was no truth to the allegations. I think that that is a big piece of it.

But her and her legal team also keep teasing this idea that there could be more evidence. She wouldn't directly answer that question about whether there are text messages, photos -- anything else out there. We don't know whether that's true or not but certainly they're succeeding in at least leaving open that possibility right now.

CAMEROTA: I mean, that's right. He just told us the same thing. Michael Avenatti, who was just on, told us that there is more to come.

And so, Josh, is Stormy Daniels just going to be sort of a thorn in the president's side for weeks to come or do you think that there are bigger ramifications here?

[07:45:00] JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Well, I think -- I think both are true. I think she is going to stick around. That certainly seems to be her plan and Avenatti's plan.

But there are potentially bigger ramifications and they stem from the $130,000 payout that Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels, and that's not a fact that's in dispute. The danger to Cohen and potentially to Trump is that that could constitute an illegal campaign contribution.

And one of the interesting things about the "60 MINUTES" interview to me last night was that Avenatti, the lawyer, produced evidence showing that that payment went to Michael Cohen at his Trump Tower address and that the communications were conducted through Trump Organization e- mails, which potentially brings Donald Trump himself into this case of potential illegal campaign contributions.

And we know from the example of John Edwards that these kinds of things can be prosecuted.

CUOMO: Right.

GREEN: So certainly, that represents a legal threat to Trump and to Cohen.

CUOMO: Right, but it was civil. They lost with Edwards and I know the guy last night, Trotter (ph), who was the FEC head at the time with Edwards on "60 MINUTES" say he thinks the facts line are better here. But we don't know that and he doesn't have command of the facts in this situation. And even if it did come to fruition, it's a fine, you know.

And I wonder what --

GREEN: Well, he is the President of the United States. I mean --

CUOMO: No, no, no, I get it, but that's an optics question. I'm saying it's not real legal exposure. We keep talking about it putatively that way but it's not like this is going to upset the presidency even if he were found to be in violation of the FEC laws.

I think the real potential legal exposure -- and please, Josh, Julie, tell me otherwise. I direct this to you Julie, but Josh, you're always willing to weigh in.

The idea that if this went to a deposition, if he were to talk to Mueller and for some reason this were found tactically or derivatively to be relevant and he didn't tell the truth about it. That's what's started the Clinton cascade back in the day. That's what I see as the major legal implications for him.

I think Stormy Daniels and her lawyer Mr. Avenatti have some significant legal exposure as well but that's beside the point, Julie.

PACE: Yes. No, I think you're exactly right here and it's important to point out that as you laid that out there are several big ifs --

CUOMO: Right.

PACE: -- in this scenario.

If Trump were to be deposed, if Mueller were to question him about that, and the fear there for Trump and his legal team would be that he would perjure himself. That is a fear that they have broadly speaking actually as it comes to what Mueller is questioning him about.

But that, at this point, seems to be several steps away and may never happen. But certainly, the stakes -- the consequences if we headed in that direction would be much greater than a campaign fundraising violation -- or campaign finance violation.

CAMEROTA: But, Josh, I mean, politically speaking this is all sort of titillating to watch. However, it's not as bad as the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape. The "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape reported sexual assault. These are consensual relationships with adults.

So politically speaking, does it make a dent?

GREEN: Well, we'll see. I mean, Trump isn't exactly flying high in the polls right now and you've seen in these series of special elections that these can have ramifications not just on Trump himself but on the Republican Party more broadly, and that's a real danger heading into November.

The one other issue I think is worth mentioning though was Stormy Daniels' allegation that a member of The Trump Organization presumably threatened her and her infant daughter. I think if there were some sort of discovery process that's another area where Trump and his organization could potentially be in some kind of legal liability that went beyond just a simple fine.

CUOMO: Sure, sure. Now, the problem with that allegation is did you tell anybody at the time? If it were so unsettling who did you tell when you walked into the gym?

CAMEROTA: Did you report it to the police?

CUOMO: What did you say?

And if you know that you would recognize the person right now if they walked in the room, then it can't be Michael Cohen because she knows what Michael Cohen looks like and she had an opportunity to say it was him and didn't.

But even if that vets out I think that there's legal exposure problems here for Avenatti and this move that he's doing.

And it was weird to hear her original lawyer, Mr. Davidson, put out a statement last night. A little cryptic because he's got confidentiality issues, right? He's got --

CAMEROTA: He's asking her to waive that.

CUOMO: Saying this is not my reckoning of the facts of this situation. That's an unusual move for a lawyer.

So I don't know legally, politically how this shakes out, Julie, but one thing that's weird is that Trump is not going after these opponents and I've never seen him be reserved like this before since he's become president. Am I wrong there?

PACE: It's basically Stormy Daniels and Vladimir Putin who are not getting the full Trump treatment these days.

CUOMO: One in the same?

PACE: Who knows?

CAMEROTA: Ever seen them together?

PACE: It is -- it is fascinating. I mean, the whole -- the whole ethos that Trump has created around him is that he's a counterpuncher so that if someone punches at him he will punch back. His aides talk about that consistently. That's what they use, essentially, as the excuse for so many of these personal --

CUOMO: But she said some things that seemed a little calculated to get at him.

PACE: Absolutely. She did seem to be -- to be needling him certainly on her statements that she wasn't attracted to him.

[07:50:04] CAMEROTA: There you go.

PACE: That she didn't want to have this kind of relationship with him. That's the type of thing that you can imagine getting under his -- getting under his skin.

And yet, he's been silent throughout this -- throughout this whole exercise. I don't know how much longer he's going to be able to maintain it. There certainly is one key difference with this situation though is that there's a -- there's a personal aspect for him, you know, involving his wife, his kids.


PACE: That may be factoring into his decision to keep quiet, as well. CAMEROTA: Time to move on to gun policy or do we need to?

CUOMO: Please.


CUOMO: Move along.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for the prodding.

So Josh, obviously, there were all of these demonstrations nationally and even internationally yesterday about trying to stop gun violence.

So you're in Washington. I mean, what do you think happens next with Congress and beyond?

GREEN: Well, I don't think a lot is going to happen with Congress. I mean, we had minor legislation -- minor gun legislation in the omnibus spending bill but nothing significant. And there isn't any sign I can see that anything would happen between now and November.

I think the next step for the gun movement is going to have to be to show their strength at the ballot box in November and especially, for the young people who were the leaders of this march to get their cohorts to come out and vote.

Millennials now make up the largest segment of the American electorate and yet, they vote in lower numbers than almost anybody else. That's one reason why I think Republicans and even some Democrats don't feel a particular threat.

I think in order for that to change they're going to have to register, organize, and turn out at the polls in serious numbers. And if they do and if it costs a lot of Republicans their jobs then potentially you can imagine Washington beginning to lean a little more in the direction of taking serious gun control measures.

CAMEROTA: Julie, last thoughts?

PACE: I would also just watch these competitive races in the -- in the House and the Senate and see if Democrats start pushing gun control to the forefront. If they are still holding back on that issue in a place like Missouri or Indiana, for example, then you're going to -- you're going to see that they don't expect that this enthusiasm that we saw over the weekend is going to translate into the polls.

CUOMO: Well remember, not every state feels the same way about this issue.

CAMEROTA: Of course. Oh, this is a totally geographic issue. I mean, absolutely. That's part of the polarization.

CUOMO: So it's hard to just make it a mandate well across. But if the voters don't care and they say well, it matters to me, I don't care what our culture is -- culture's changing -- then it could be a big deal because politicians act out of consequence, not conscience, too often.

CAMEROTA: Julia Pace, Josh Green, thank you very much.

So, will tariffs against Chinese goods spark a trade war? What the president's top advisers are saying about this, next.


[07:56:45] CAMEROTA: OK, it's time for "CNN Money Now."

Two of the world's biggest economies could be heading for a trade war and that, of course, is rattling Wall Street.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more. What are seeing, Christine?


Yes, a terrible week last week but stocks around the world right now are higher. Dow futures up about 300 points after "The Wall Street Journal" reported that China and the U.S. have quietly started trade negotiations.

Last week, President Trump promised tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Then, China targeted $3 billion in U.S. exports. That spurred Wall Street's worst week in more than two years.

The Dow is now down 11.6 percent from its recent high. That is known as a correction, folks. And with interest rates rising, analysts say a trade war -- an all-out trade war could trigger a recession.

Some big-name CEOs are speaking out against Trump's protectionism, like Apple's Tim Cook and BlackRock's Larry Fink.

But, Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin says the president will back down.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY, U.S. TREASURY: So, as President Trump said, we're not afraid of a trade war but that's not our objective. I think we're working on a pathway to see if we can reach an agreement as to what fair trade is for them to open up their markets, reduce their tariffs, stop forced technology transfer. These are all the things we want to do.


ROMANS: Mnuchin is leading those talks with China. The goals is to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Christine. Appreciate it.

We are following a lot of news. What do you say? It's Monday morning, let's get after it.


STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS, CLAIMS SHE HAD AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: He was sitting, you know, on the edge of the bed.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360", CONTRIBUTOR, CBS NEWS "60 MINUTES": And you had sex with him?


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has denied the allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It isn't so much about the affair, it's the effort to cover it up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy is laughing us all the way to the bank.

DANIELS: I felt intimated and honestly, bullied.

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: The president thinks the White House is operating like a smooth machine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he wasn't adding to his legal team but he added to his legal. He said he wasn't shaking it up, and then he shook it up.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: What you have to have are people who are on the president's agenda.


RICK SANTORUM (R), CNN COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem do something about maybe taking CPR classes.




ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, March 26th, 8:00 in the east.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels breaking her silence about her alleged affair with President Trump in her first on-camera interview.

Daniels telling Anderson Cooper on "60 MINUTES" that she was threatened in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 to keep quiet. She claims she felt pressured into signing those documents denying her relationship with Donald Trump.

Anderson Cooper will join us live in just moments.

CUOMO: All right. There's no question this scandal is going to make a lot of headlines and there's other headlines that matter just as much.

You see what's going on in the White House? More flux. A source tells CNN President Trump is getting ready to fire someone else. This time it looks like the embattled V.A. secretary David Shulkin.

And, Chris Ruddy, a close ally of Mr. Trump's, says the president will likely make even more personnel changes, and soon.

We have it all covered. Let's start with CNN's Sara Sidner with the story.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels, breaking her silence to "60 MINUTES" about her alleged affair with Donald Trump and the aftermath.