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White House Calls Fatal Police Shootings Local Matters; Roseanne Reboot Ratings Soar, Tackling Trump-Era Politics; Trump's Loyal Fixer Michael Cohen at Center of Scandal. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 28, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I remember talking to Jay Johnson, the former head of Homeland Security in the Obama years, and he said, when you have tensions between the black community and police there's a national security issue. And he described the national security issue being that when you don't trust -- when each side has a lack of trust they don't trust one another. If the police ask you in the community if you see something, say something, you're knocking to be reticent. You're knocking to be ready to say that and the police will not basically trust you as well. There is a problem there.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Is it, though -- part of it is a moral issue, it's a moral question?

RYAN: It's more than that.

BALDWIN: Of course, this is a national issue that requires leadership. Isn't there a risk when you hear Sarah Sanders saying local issue, let local authorities deal with it? That could come off as dismissive.

RYAN: Yes. It was dismissive. And you have to think about this. This is a president who very much supports police. And I go back to one of those statements he said last year when he was with law enforcement, talking about how don't be so kind and gentle when you're putting them in the car. You know, I wouldn't hold their head. And it makes you wonder, really, where does he stand? Does he really mean that? They said it was a joke. Because remember, law enforcement even came out saying, we don't stand behind that.

So, there is a moral imperative. You know, many of these people are people who could have been alive to stand trial and say something but they're dead and we don't hear anything. This is a national issue. It's not a local issue. The nation is talking. Not just black people but white people. People of all races. We are watching what happens. It's a heart issue. And there have been long calls from many groups for this to change. And now it's time for the president to determine whether he's going to speak on it, to change the dynamic or stay silent.

BALDWIN: April Ryan, thank you so much at the White House.

RYAN: Thank you, Brooke. BALDWIN: Next, Roseanne. Roseanne brings the political debate

happening inside many American families to television. How the reboot of her show is hitting a political nerve and attracting millions of viewers.


BALDWIN: Roseanne is back. And the premier of the sitcom reboot plays up presidential politics in the form of bickering with her sister, Jackie.


SARA GILBERT, ACTOR PLAYING ROSANNE'S DAUGHTER: She promised she would get along and, knowing the both of you, I'm guessing you're the one keeping this feud alive.


GILBERT: OK, you guys have got to talk this out civilly. Mom, aunt Jackie, standing right here hat in hand.

ROSANNE BARR, ACTOR, ROSEANNE: I don't have time for this.

METCALF: Knee still giving you trouble, Roseanne? Why don't you get that fixed with the new health care all you suckers got promised?

BARR: It works good enough to kick your ass, snowflake.

METCALF: There you go. All you people go straight to the violence. Every one of you, wrapping yourself up in the flag and clinging to your guns.

BARR: Oh, that such a stereotype.

Where are you going?

JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR: I just realized we got kids in the house and I can't remember where we hid our gun.

BARR: Oh, it's my little princess.

METCALF: Or senator or doctor or captain of industry because girls can be whatever they want to be.

JAYDEN REY, ACTOR: I want to train cats to bark.

BARR: Good. I think it's cool. And Jackie thinks every girl should grow up and be president even if they're liar, liar, pantsuit on fire.

METCALF: I think we know whose liar and who is on fire, Roseanne.

GILBERT: Hey everybody this is the first dinner together we've had as a family in a long time. Let's try to survive it.

BARR: Yes. First let's say grace. Jackie, would you like to take a knee?

METCALF: How could you have voted for him, Roseanne?

BARR: He talked about jobs, Jackie. He said he'd shake things up. I mean, this might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the with a he way things are going.

METCALF: Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse.

BARR: Not on the real news.

METCALF: Oh, please.


BALDWIN: Guess how many people tuned in last night? 18 million. That is nearly as many as the "Voice" and "NCIS" combined. Roseanne Barr reacting to that. And she said this.

I'm so grateful to the fans of the Roseanne show for giving it a good premier rating. You are all wonderful here is to making America laugh and talk again. Love you.

So, Joanna Weiss is with me. A former Boston Globe TV critic who talk to the show's executive producer for this hour, article in "Politico." Joanna, I mean, OK, how and why did that whole team and Roseanne want to bring the show back and was it her idea to have Roseanne Connor be this Trump supporter?

JOANNA WEISS, AUTHOR, "HOW TRUMP INSPIRED THE 'ROSEANNE' REBOOT": One of the driving forces behind the show was Sara Gilbert, who plays Darlene, and who I think had this idea to bring back the show in the Trump era. Called up Roseanne who once she discovered that everyone else was going to be on board, including John Goodman. Who you might remember was killed off in the finale. He's alive again.

So, I think the idea was, A, you know, there's this power of nostalgia and this family. This was the number one show for much of the '80s and '90s. A really high up in the Nielsen ratings. A lot of people connected to them. I think just had an appetite to see them again. But they were also the quintessential working class white suburban family, which happens to be the quintessential Trump voter. The kind of voter that everyone in the media is trying to understand since the 2016 election.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: But I mean, 18 million viewers. Do you think that this kind of family is being ignored by mainstream TV?

WEISS: I mean, working class families are fairly rare on mainstream television. There are a few examples. ABC's "The Middle" is one prominent example. But in a lot of cases TV is aspirational. You see people who are either people very rich, kind of Kardashian rich or you see people who are supposed to be middle class. And who are either living way beyond their means or this is sort of Hollywood's idea of what a middle-class house looks kind of like a palace looks like. So, it's fairly rare to see people who are portrayed in a very

positive light. Who live in a modest house. Who have old appliances. Who are seen struggling with money and struggling with the bills and seeing that feels like validation for a lot of people. It feels like someone is understanding them and listening to us

BALDWIN: So, OK, let's take it a step further. Because I read, of course, I read your interview with the lead executive producer, Bruce Helford. And he told you this. What's really important to Roseanne and all of us is to put the whole discourse out in the open. We're hoping we can bring a kind dialogue back.

I mean, as you point out in your piece, that is a mighty tall order. But do you think they can pull it off?

WEISS: Yes, the thing about fiction, the power of fiction and of these relationships that we have with fictional characters is that we can kind of put ourselves in someone else's shoes without that kind of -- without the tension of a relationship you might have with a real person. And the thing about a sitcom and family like the Connors and Roseanne is that we feel like we know them. It's not just, you know, reading an article where a reporter went and interviewed someone, and you sort of read this one-off. And it might be empathetic and very well done, but this is someone you're going to sort of encounter once in your life. The Connors, you feel like you know. You see them on a regular basis. You invite them into the living room. And you, kind of -- you're going through their trials and their struggles with them in a really empathetic way. It's a really powerful tool for understanding.

BALDWIN: Joanna, we'll see how the season continues on. We will be watching. I know you will. Thank you so much for that.

WEISS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, Stormy Daniels' attorney takes action to try to get on the record deposition from Donald Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen. CNN digs into the long history between the president and his right-hand man.


BALDWIN: News just into CNN. The Justice Department's internal watchdog has now formally launched an allegation into allegations of government abuse of its surveillance powers. The announcement comes in the wake of the explosive Nunez memo about the FBI's efforts to obtain FISA warrants to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.

And now onto Michael Cohen. He has been called President Trump's fixer, his right-hand man, his pit bull. Simply put, he is the man that Trump depends on when he needs to get things done.: Is also the man at the center of the Stormy Daniels scandal after admitting to paying the porn star $130,000 just days before the presidential election. CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, takes a closer look at Michael Cohen and President Trump's long history.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In the soap opera in which a porn star accepts a payoff to keep quiet about her affair with Donald Trump, there's got to be a guy who gets it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is Michael Cohen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is Mr. Cohen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is this guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is this guy?

BORGER: Michael Cohen is where he's been since 2007. Standing behind Donald Trump or closer in his back pocket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael was, I'd always like to say, the Ray Donovan of the office.

RAY DONOVAN: I'll take care of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took care of what had to be taken care of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what had to be taken care of. But all I know is that Michael was taking care of it.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: He is the guy that you can call at 3:00 in the morning when you have a problem.

BORGER (on camera): Do you know of stories of Donald Trump calling him at 3:00 in the morning?

SCHWARTZ: Donald Trump has called him at all hours of the night. Every dinner I've been at with Michael, the boss has called.

BORGER (voice-over): But Cohen did not call the boss, he says, when he decided to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket 11 days before the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think is ludicrous.

BORGER (on camera): So, you believe 100 percent that Donald Trump --


MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: There's not a meeting that takes place, there's not an expenditure that is authorized that he doesn't know about.

BORGER (voice-over): Cohen would go on the record for this piece. But his friends claim it's all part of his job in Trump world, giving the boss deniability and protection.

SCHWARZ: If you know the relationship between the two people, he took care of a lot of things for Mr. Trump without Mr. Trump knowing about it. That's part of overall structure, that Michael had great latitude to take care of matters.

BORGER: In Michael Cohn, Trump hired his concierge, a version of his long-time mentor, the lawyer Roy Cohn, lawyer, a controversial pit bull and aggressive defender of all things Trump, no questions asked. After D'Antonio finished his book on Trump, he got the Cohen treatment, and what turned out to be an empty threat.

D'ANTONIO: Then he got mad. And it was, you just bought yourself an f'ing lawsuit, buddy. I'll see you in court.

BORGER: In 2011 Michael Cohen described his job this way.

[15:50:00] MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: My job is I protect Mr. Trump. That's what it is. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of a concern to him, it's of course, concern to me. And I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.

BORGER: Cohen a sometimes Democrat, first came to Trump's attention after buying apartments in Trump developments. Then went to the mat for Trump against one of his condo boards and one.

SCHWARTZ: Trump loved him for it. I mean, that was the beginning of it. And then after that, they became close. It was much more than an attorney-client relationship. It was something much deeper, almost father and son kind of thing. Always hot and cold. Donald Trump could be yelling at him one second and saying he's the greatest person in the world the next second. Donald Trump knew that Michael always had his back.

BORGER: For Trump, it wasn't about pedigree. Cohen, who was 51, got his degree from Western Michigan's Cooley Law school and had some initial success in the less than genteel world of New York taxicab medallions.

SAM NUNBERG, TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: If you look where Michael came from in his legal career, before he started working for Trump board, it wasn't like he came from a white shoe law firm. He came from, you know, a hard nose New York trial firm. Trump has an eye for talent and this was somebody, then I mean, he used to call him his bulldog. His tough guy.

BORGER: At the Trump organization he's done a bit of everything. Running a mixed martial arts company, securing real estate branding deals, and even taking care of transportation.

NUNBERG: You know, the famous Trump plane. There was an engine issue that he actually took care of and got a really good deal on.

SCHWARTZ: Watching him is like a reality show. He's got three phones. He's got the hardline. He's got two lines. He's texting. He's on the computer.

D'ANTONIO: You can almost say this is Donald Trump's mini me. From a guy who started really in the middle class on Long Island can now be quite wealthy himself. Known internationally and yes, he's in a bit of a jam with the Russia scandal.

BORGER: In the eye of not only Stormy but also of interest to the special counsel Bob Mueller and Congress.

COHEN: I look forward to getting all the information that they're looking for.

BORGER: During the campaign, when Trump said he had no contact with Russia, Cohen was privately trying to cut a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow. It never happened but Mueller has asked about it.

NUNBERG: The sad reality is that Michael pursuing the Trump Tower deal in December is just another factor that goes into this whole Russia narrative.

BORGER: Cohen's name was also in the infamous dossier which alleges he traveled to Prague to meet with Russians. He's completely denied it and is suing "Buzzfeed" which published it.

SCHWARTZ: It is immeasurable. The damage that has been caused to him, to his family.


BORGER: When Trump became president, he did not bring his brash wingman to Washington.

BORGER (on camera): Do you think he wanted to be in the White House? Be White House counsel or...?

D'ANTONIO: There must have been a part of him that was dreaming at a great job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But he's also the guy who not only knows where all the bodies are buried. He buried a lot of them himself. And that ironically disqualified him.

COHEN: And they say I'm Mr. Trump's pit bull. That I am his right- hand man. I've been called many different things around here.

BORGER: Now he may be called to testify with. With the Stormy Daniels case in federal court.

SCHWARTZ: I know Michael Cohen for over 21 years and I know that he will not rest. He will not sleep. He doesn't sleep away, right? Until he recovers every single penny from Stormy that's due the LLC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen a lot of attorneys use intimidation tactics. The problem is, if that is your speed, and if you are a one- trick pony, and you use that in every case, when all of a sudden you run up against somebody that doubles down and that isn't intimidated, then you're lost.

BORGER: Cohen flew to Mar-a-Lago to dine with the President the night before Stormy Daniels appeared on "60 Minutes." Because if you're Michael Cohen, you're the ultimate loyalist.

COHEN: The words the media should be using to describe Mr. Trump are generous, compassionate --

BORGER: And you still believe Donald Trump will be loyal --

COHEN: Kind, humble, honest --

BORGER: To you. Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.


BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you.

Next, a new report says President Trump has a grudge against Amazon. And today we saw the stock take a huge hit.

[15:55:00] What the White House had to say about whether those two things are related.


BALDWIN: We are moments from the closing bell. Amazon shares down more than 4 percent after the news website, Axios, reported that President Trump may be looking the curb Amazon's growing market power. Axios reported that Trump wants to go after the world's largest online retailer with anti-trust enforcement or by changing tax rules. Here's what White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, said today about the president's attitude toward Amazon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report early this morning said that the President is quote, obsessed with Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos. Have you ever heard the President talk about amazon? And are they currently competing on a level playing field right now?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've heard the President talk repeatedly about making business practices in this country level for everyone across the board. I've heard him talk about it privately and publicly and I know it's something that he wants to see happen. Beyond that, I don't have anything for you.


BALDWIN: According to Axios, President Trump has talked about changing Amazon's tax treatment because he worries mom and pop retailers may be put out of business.

And there you have it. We're going to send to it Washington a little early today. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks so much for being with me here in New York. Jim Sciutto is sitting in for Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts now.