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Chinese and North Korean Leaders Meet; Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Asks to Depose President Trump; Interview with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired March 28, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that they're having conversations I don't believe is a bad thing. It's a power play by China. I think they're going to use this as leverage against the United States.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump reaching an agreement with South Korea to rework a key trade deal.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a deal that was causing a lot of problems for our country.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Stormy Daniels's lawyer wants to question the president of the United States about the agreement to silence his client.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've addressed it extensively, and there's nothing new to add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he's not saying anything about someone, that's when he's really rattled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he comes out and calls my client a liar, there's going to be serious consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 28th, 8:00 in the east.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un making a secret trip to China to meet with the Chinese president. It is the dictator's first foreign trip since he came into power in 2011.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The surprise meeting comes as Kim gets ready the meet with President Trump in the coming weeks. Mr. Trump tweeting just this morning that there's a good chance Kim will do what is right for his people and he's look forward to meeting with him.
CAMEROTA: Also breaking overnight, Stormy Daniels' attorney asking a federal judge to let him depose President Trump under oath. He's looking to find out what the president knew about that $130,000 payment to the porn star just days before the 2016 election.
So we have all these stories covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Ivan Watson. He is live in Seoul, South Korea. Ivan, what have you learned?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this was a surprise and secret summit. China and North Korea did not tell the world that Xi Jinping had met with the North Korean leader who had made a four day visit to China until after Kim Jong-un got back to North Korea. He traveled by train between North Korea and the Chinese capital and back. So it's been a secret meeting and it came after years of frosty relations between these two supposed allies, long-time allies, China and North Korea.
And in this case what you had was Xi Jinping basically brushing aside the differences the two countries have had, saying that this is a strategic choice, their alliance, and they shouldn't let isolated incidents disrupt the alliance.
Meanwhile, the North Korean leader has gone on to say that denuclearization is a possibility here on the Korean peninsula. That's been a no-go in the past for North Korea, but provided South Korea and the U.S. cooperate.
That brings me to reaction from the White House. President Trump has tweeted twice about this so far, saying he's looking forward to a possible meeting with the North Korean leader, saying that he was informed about the secret summit by Xi Jinping himself in a message to him, but also saying sanctions between North Korea must be maintained for the time being.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has been negotiating trade with its South Korean ally. President Trump previously called the 2012 trade agreement horrible. There have been some tweaks to it. The U.S. will be able to double the quota of cars exported to South Korea, and they'll extend tariffs on South Korean trucks exported to the U.S. Basically a lot of diplomacy going on between North and South Korea and their patrons, China and the U.S., ahead of a lot of big stakes diplomacy expected in the weeks and months ahead.
CAMEROTA: Such fascinating developments, Ivan. Thank you very much for all the reporting.
Now to breaking news in the Stormy Daniels case. Her attorney is asking a federal judge for permission to depose President Trump under oath about that $130,000 payout that Daniels received from Michael Cohen just days before the 2016 election. CNN's Abby Phillip has been following this. She's live at the White House for us. What's the latest, Abby?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. We have some new information in this development. Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney, is citing Bill Clinton's precedent in saying that he can depose president Trump in a matter that has to do with his actions before becoming president. But while we have not heard yet from Michael Cohen, the president's
personal lawyer, or his attorney in this case, a friend of Michael Cohen, David Schwartz, calls this a reckless use of the legal system.
PHILLIP: Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, wants to know what President Trump knew about the $130,000 payment to his client days before the 2016 election. Avenatti asking a federal judge in California for permission to question the president under oath for up to two hours.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: We're going to prove that Mr. Cohen's statements to the American people are false, that at all times Mr. Trump knew about this, knew about the $130,000, was fully aware of it, and with the assistance of Mr. Cohen sought to intimidate and put my client under his thumb.
[08:05:01] PHILLIP: The president's lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket and that the president knew nothing about the agreement.
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president strongly, clearly, and has consistently denied these underlying claims. And the only person who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims.
PHILLIP: The court filing comes as President Trump remains silent about the alleged affair. The White House sparring with reporters over that characterization.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it's silent when the president has addressed this. We've addressed it extensively. There's just nothing else to add. Sometimes he chooses to specifically engage and punch back and sometimes he doesn't.
PHILLIP: A source close to the White House tells CNN the current plan is for Mr. Trump to continue avoiding the topic because the controversy hasn't heard his poll numbers. Avenatti telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that eight women have now come to him with stories similar to Daniels.
AVENATTI: We're still exploring their stories. We're going to be very careful and deliberate.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you know if any of these eight women who have come to you, come forward to you, also signed confidentiality or hush agreements?
AVENATTI: We understand that two of them have.
PHILLIP: The president's legal troubles mounting as he struggles to build up his legal team ahead of a potential interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Two more lawyers declining offers to join Trump's legal team Tuesday due to business conflicts just days after the president insisted that many top law firms want to represent him.
SANDERS: The president has a highly qualified team with several individual that have been part of this process.
PHILLIP: It is day five of President Trump not having any public events on his schedule, and he has so far remained quiet on social media about this Stormy Daniels situation. He has, however, been tweeting this morning about the unfolding negotiations with North Korea and also about the Second Amendment. He said, "The Second Amendment will never be repealed as much as Democrats would like to see that happen and despite the words of former Supreme Court justice Stevens. No way. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must always hold the Supreme Court."
Meanwhile President Trump now faces the prospect of two lawyers here trying to question him under oath both in the Stormy Daniels case and when it comes to the special counsel, Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Abby, thank you very much.
Joining us now, CNN political analysts Josh Green and John Avlon. So legally we know that this is a dodgy move by Avenatti. He wants to get away from the NDA, the non-disclosure agreement, says that these types of matters would be dealt with in arbitration. So he's trying to get around that. The hearing I think is in April -- Javi, when -- 30th or something like that?
CAMEROTA: Yes, April 30th.
CUOMO: So we're not going to hear anything about this for a while. Javi is our E.P. He puts most of the things that are correct things in my head. So what do you make of this as a tactic and as a potentially outcome?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Partly you've got a media strategy by Avenatti and it's been very effective.
AVLON: Largely, fair. But he's really using Trump tactics. This is all stay tuned, a little bit of new news, a morsel to keep it at the top of the airways. He's been very effective in that. But the rubber meets the road with the actual legal process. Obviously his best case scenario is to get the president to testify, to get Michael Cohen to testify from both a legal and a media standpoint. But it's a long ball because the existence of the NDA. It's not as clear as the Zervos case which is going forward because the judge already said the precedence of Paula Jones applies.
CAMEROTA: So Josh, here is what Michael Avenatti said this morning on CBS about why he's doing this, what he wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: We want to know the truth about what the president knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it. As it relates to this agreement, we're going to test the veracity or the truthfulness of Mr. Cohen's, his attorney's, statements. And we're confident, Gayle, that when we get to the bottom of this, we're going to prove to the American people that they have been told a bucket of lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Your reaction, Josh?
JOSH GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The brass ring here for Avenatti and any lawyer going up against Trump is to get him to testify under oath, to be deposed under oath. My Bloomberg colleague Timothy O'Brien was sued by Trump years ago, actually did manage to get him under oath, and his lawyers caught Trump in 30 different lies.
CUOMO: People can read that deposition. I think Tim has it out there. At the "New York Times" when he was doing that, you can read Trump's deposition.
GREEN: Exactly. Exactly, you can Google this and read the lies that he caught Trump in. That's the big fear of Trump's legal team. And that's one of the reasons why Trump's previous lawyer, John Dowd, resigned. He doesn't want Trump to testify in front of Bob Mueller's investigators. Trump evidently does want to testify. And I think a lot of lawyers around town would counsel Trump and tell him this is potentially a bad idea for you to go ahead.
CUOMO: Although it does seem, at least at this point, things can change, that I think Trump is getting lucky here again by the nature of who is opposing him. Avenatti has gone really heavy on hype, especially as an officer of the court. You're not supposed to be a tease man and a hype man as somebody's legal counsel.
[08:10:00] And because of this NDA, I think Avenatti has a very tough time proving this wasn't a legitimate contract. And once that comes, then it's his contract that winds up having all this legal exposure, not the president.
CUOMO: It's more likely than the other outcome, that the NDA gets thrown out.
AVLON: It may be more likely, but we also have a pattern of lies from Cohen about this case. The president has a truth telling problem, though his defenders would say he's a P.T. Barnum character. Don't take him literally. But that's a real problem especially when you have this kind of legal jeopardy and the fundamental fact of a payoff to a porn star days before the election.
CUOMO: That's the FEC. The FEC would have to bring that action. Stormy Daniels can't bring that action. They talk about it in their pleadings as if they're going to make the case that this was a campaign contribution. They don't have standing to make that. That would have to be FEC. We don't know that they're doing anything about this. AVLON: The FEC is basically toothless and blocked by design. But if they can't take action on that, they should wave the white flag and go home.
CAMEROTA: So Josh, the White House yesterday, Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, has said that they've addressed this adequately, she doesn't have anything more to add. So here was that exchange with our Jeff Zeleny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why this silence? Is someone advising him to be silent? Or is he following his own --
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it's silent when the president has addressed this, we've addressed it extensively. There's just nothing else to add. Just because you guys continue to ask the same question over and over and over again doesn't mean that we have to keeping coming up with new things to say. We've addressed it. We've addressed it extensively. And there's nothing new to add to that conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What about that, Josh, they have nothing more to say?
GREEN: I don't think they want to say anything more because they don't want to give fuel to this story. One of the reasons I think Trump's advisers have been fairly successful in addressing this scandal is they've managed to keep him off Twitter. They've managed to keep him from attacking Stormy Daniels and potentially doing something that would violate the non-disclosure agreement and then maybe free her up to speak more publicly or to bring some kind of a court action that would move this process along.
And part of what Avenatti is doing in this media tour is trying to bait Trump into reacting. You see that with his tweets and his implications that there may be video tape, there may be text messages or e-mail messages or what have you and this promise that there's more coming down the road.
John is right, it makes for great TV, it keeps the story in the news. But I think part of the design here is also to try to force a reaction from Trump who we know is very easily baited when people are criticizing, attacking, and humiliating him.
CUOMO: He's a very savvy guy when it comes to media. Donald Trump is no stranger to these types of pseudo-legal battles that play out in the press. He did come close with Biden. Biden was talking about him with women. He went after Joe Biden. He called fake news the other day after the "60 Minutes" interview and the 22 million people. So he's gotten close. But on this one he's in good shape so far because his public approval numbers aren't changing based on it, and now he has something else to talk about. This North Korea development with what happened with Kim Jong-un going to China, him getting the South Korea deal, it seeming more likely that they're going to get a meeting, these are all potential positives and check marks for the Trump administration.
AVLON: Absolutely. And no administration is one thing. And the North Korea policy has been tough. They seem to have reshuffled the calculus of North Korea, and that opens the potential for some kind of breakthrough. But let's not get ahead of ourselves too much because that's a high stakes negotiation and some folks are worried Trump could get rolled. Nonetheless, their tough approach really does seem to have changed the calculus.
The economy is doing beautifully. That has benefited Trump's poll numbers. But if the economy takes a downturn, it's shaky ground. But there are absolutely things that the administration can look to and say we've done that right. The problem is the president has a capacity to step on his lip and create his own distractions as we see with the Stormy Daniels saga and on and on. And behind it all is the Russia investigation. And people want the president to testify on that. Dowd, his former lawyer, expressed a desire to fire Mueller. But this is something that also can't be ignored and spun away. This is serious and it's ongoing.
CAMEROTA: OK, John Avlon, Josh Green, thank you both very much.
So CNN learning that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook will testify before Congress about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. We are talking to a member of two committees who wants to talk to the Facebook CEO next.
[08:17:53] CAMEROTA: CNN has learned that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress in a matter of weeks. Facebook coming under fire after Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Trump's campaign improperly accessed information from at least 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.
Joining us now to talk about this and more is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He's a member of two committees that want to talk to Zuckerberg.
Senator, thanks so much for being here in studio.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Is Zuckerberg going to appear in front of one of your committees?
BLUMENTHAL: He will.
CAMEROTA: Which one? Judiciary?
BLUMENTHAL: I hope he'll appear before both. Certainly, right now, he's slated to appear before Judiciary. I think there ought to be subpoenas for him in case he changes his mind, for documents that Facebook has and for Cambridge Analytica and Aleksandr Kogan who are key, also, to knowing how this information on 50 million people was harvested and then abused, illegally juiced to mine and manipulate other data. CAMEROTA: Is it your thought that Facebook intentionally or somehow
knowingly violated America's rights?
BLUMENTHAL: That is one of the questions. Facebook has a problem with truth and with trust. It needs to tell the truth to Congress about whether it knew. It says that in 2015, it asked all this data be deleted, and it never verified it. It never, very alarmingly, told the users that their data was out there potentially at risk. That is deeply concerning.
CAMEROTA: Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg has not been more transparent?
BLUMENTHAL: I think that the Facebook attitude, quite frankly, has been, trust us, we know better. And that's the problem they have with trust. Now, they need to accept rules of the road that, in effect, regulate their business model.
Their business model is to sell information about you and me without our knowledge or consent. They need to accept rules that require knowledge, full disclosure and consent, not only when that information is initially sold or shared, but also when it is used afterward.
[08:20:03] And they need to devise rules to protect the information from breaches and other prematurities (ph).
CAMEROTA: Until they do that, do you think Americans should delete their Facebook accounts?
BLUMENTHAL: I wouldn't advice people on whether they should delete their accounts. They should take precautions in safeguarding their information, and where they agree to is ask -- which is one of the facts that occurred here, Aleksandr Kogan was able to harvest all this information on 50 million people because he deceptively encouraged people to join this personality quiz or app that he applied.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the census. So, the Commerce Department wants to add a question for when people go around door to door and take the census count. And the question is this, is this person a citizen of the United States? What's wrong with that question?
BLUMENTHAL: First, it violates the Constitution.
BLUMENTHAL: Which requires census tabulation to be done on every person, everyone who lives in the United States, not necessarily just on citizens. Second, as a practical matter, it undercounts people who live in states or areas that may need federal funding. So, it short- changes --
CAMEROTA: But hold on. You're saying it undercounts them because they won't reveal it. They will hide whether or not they're a citizen, because, you know, on the face of it, it looks like it's looking for transparency. It looks as if you'll be able to get an accurate count of how many undocumented immigrants are here versus citizens.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, that may be the spin that the administration is trying to put on it, but there's a reason that that question hasn't been used since 1960 on census counts. By the way, the census is already way behind schedule and starved for money. So, they're introducing this new question at the last moment.
But the practical effect will be to short change areas of the country where there are a large number of undocumented people, and you know because you live in this part of the country, that a lot of these folks have lived here for literally decades. They started businesses, raised families and they may be in need of certain kinds of assistance or their states may be.
CAMEROTA: Yes, sure, but you hear the other side. I mean, what the White House is saying, or the Commerce Department, is that we need to know accurate numbers. We need to know in a sovereign country how many people really live here and how many undocumented immigrants are.
Let me read you what Senator Marco Rubio just tweeted this morning: Latest absurd freak-out is over 2020 census, citizenship question. In every nation, citizenship matters. So, shouldn't we know how many we have? And districts apportioned based on number of people not here legally dilutes the political representation of citizens and legal residents.
BLUMENTHAL: We should know, but not through the census, which constitutionally -- remember, it's required constitutionally that it count every person, everyone who lives here, not every citizen. That's the law.
And there's a reason for the law which is we want to know what the characteristics are of our total population, not just of citizens.
You're right, citizenship be counted. There are other ways to do it.
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, you know, we are forever saying something like, well, between the 11 million and 14 million undocumented immigrants here -- because we don't know an exact number -- would it help to know?
BLUMENTHAL: It would help to have comprehensive immigration reform. The present system is broken. That's why there are 11 million people living in the shadows and there's bipartisan consensus that there should be comprehensive immigration reform.
We produced the bill. I helped to write a bill. And just a few years ago, it passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate by a 68-vote margin and it was never voted on in the House. So, this immigration issue is fundamental to our democracy. We need to reform the present system.
CAMEROTA: While I have you, I want to ask you about Russia. The president expelled 60 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Russia did in the U.K.
And here is what the Russian ambassador said about that. The United States did a very bad step. I'm sure that time will come that they will understand what kind of grave mistake they did.
What do you think about the president's move and about what retaliation they're talking about?
BLUMENTHAL: What the president did should be just the beginning of a much more aggressive counterattack against the Russians. They have attacked our election system fundamental to our democracy in 2016. They're doing it again, and we need to counter their chemical attack on the U.K., their continuing aggression in Ukraine, their violation of our missile treaty --
CAMEROTA: But do you give the president credit for what is considered -- what many say is a very strong step, stronger than what President Obama had done.
[08:25:02] BLUMENTHAL: I give the president credit for expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers. I think it is diminished in its force by the president's failure to himself break his silence on Vladimir Putin, instead of pushing back as aggressively as he should, he congratulated Putin on his election.
So, we need a much more aggressive and robust response to the continuing attack on our democracy, a chemical attack on our ally, use of military grade poison against people living there.
CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much. Great to have you here in studio.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. The lawyer for Stormy Daniels is asking a judge to let him depose both President Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen. How that could put the president's loyal long-time protector to the test or not? Next.
CUOMO: Breaking news. Stormy Daniels' attorney asking a judge for permission to depose President Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen has admitted paying the porn star $130,000 of his own money just days before the 2016 in exchange for her silence.