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Report: Federal Judge Denies Stormy's Motion to Depose Trump; Trump Speaks to Union Days After Absence from Public Eye; Russia Expels 60 U.S. Diplomats Tit for Tat. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 29, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. First time in six days we'll be seeing him speaking publicly. As we wait for that, we are following breaking news on the tangled web surrounding the President, the porn star and the hush money.

So, here's the news just in. A judge just ruled that the President will not be forced to testify under oath about his alleged relationship with Stormy Daniels, at least now. This federal judge in California saying Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti was quoting, premature, and Avenatti, by the way was just on CNN, again agrees but suggests he's not finished with the fight to end the President's silence.

Meantime, did a lawyer for Michael Cohen just detonate Cohen's case? We know in her civil suit against the President Stormy Daniels claims she should be free from that NDA, nondisclosure agreement that she signed because Trump never signed it, essentially rendering it invalid. I want you to listen to what the lawyer for Trump's long- time attorney, Michael Cohen, said here on CNN.


DAVID SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEYS: The President was not aware of the agreement. At least Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement. I can tell you that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now were about the agreement, What about the money?

SCHWARTZ: He was not aware about any of it. He was not aware. He wasn't told about it Michael Cohen left the option open. That's why he left that signature line. The option open to go to him. He chose not to.


BALDWIN: So, what David Schwartz just said, that Cohen was acting without Trump's knowledge help Daniels get out of this NDA agreement? This is what Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti just said about that on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: This is legal buffoonery. These guys are making it up as it goes along. As a guy that has practiced law at a high level against really good attorneys across this country for 20 years, this is amazing to me. David Schwartz, if that's to be believed, there are significant ethical concerns now related to Michael Cohen's conduct in supposedly settling cases without authority. That raises a whole host of additional issues.


BALDWIN: Gloria Borger is with me our chief CNN political analyst. Paul Callan or CNN legal analyst. So, Paul, let's just begin with you on the news, on the first front. This federal judge in California denying Stormy Daniels' motion for this trial and this discovery. They wanted Trump to be deposed. You're saying Avenatti overplayed his hand. Why?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he has overplayed his hand. He's seeking an expedited trial, expedited discovery. That means we want to jump to the front of the calendar.

BALDWIN: Now, now, now?

CALLAN: Now, now, now. Depose the President of the United States. This federal judge looks at this and says hey pal, I've got a lot of serious cases on my calendar. You don't get to jump to the front of the line unless you have a really good reason. The judge, in essence, said this whole case is about whether this case should be arbitrated or not arbitrated. And nobody has gotten around to making a motion to compel arbitration. So, what are you make an argument about? Make the motion to compel arbitration first and then come back. That is what he said in essence.

BALDWIN: Gloria, I'm going to come to you in a second but quick legal 101 because we presume that team Trump/Cohen would want the arbitration because it is advantageous to them because it keeps everything out of the public eye. It's private, around the table.

CALLAN: You're absolutely right about that. The whole purpose of setting up an arbitration was to keep this secret. Trump team wants the arbitration and the judge has now said Trump team, make a motion to compel arbitration and then Avenatti can respond to that and we'll see where we take it from there.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, the political fallout from this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I do think Avenatti overplayed his hand. And we're going to continue to see this, you know, spill out. Obviously now they going to file a petition to compel arbitration because that's what the judge told them they had to do and that they're not the most important case in the world, even though it sure seems that way to Avenatti and David Schwartz and I think you're going to continue to see these proxies kind of battle it out. Michael Cohen, as we know, has made the case and through David

Schwartz, to me and to Erin and to others that like this is the way -- this is the way he rolled when he worked for Trump, that he did all this stuff on his own. And Donald Trump couldn't be bothered with it because he was too busy.

[14:05:00] That seems highly unbelievable to a lot of people, as somebody said to me, look, Donald Trump is a guy who used to do contracts himself with people who were doing his building, who knew everything that was going on in the Trump organization at all times, Michael Cohen had an office a couple of doors down from Trump. The notion that he didn't know about any of this seems hard to fathom. But that's what they were arguing and that's what they're going to continue to argue.

BALDWIN: If Schwartz who is Cohen's lawyer is saying that Trump wasn't involved in the stormy NDA, those that can help the Stormy case? Because they want the whole thing thrown out.

CALLAN: Yes, they do want the whole thing thrown out. And yes, it would help your Stormy case if Trump's signature on the contract was necessary for the contract to be valid. But what Schwartz was trying to say is that Trump doesn't have to be involved for it to be a legitimate contract because the contract itself says and/or Donald Trump, Trump had an option and he opted not to sign but it's still a valid contract.

BALDWIN: OK. Gloria, to you. We're minutes from seeing the President of the United States in Richfield, Ohio, speaking about jobs and infrastructure, the economy. But this is the first time we've seen him speak publicly in a number of days, and all the while this whole stormy swirl has been happening, we know that some of our reporting in the West Wing is that the President has been chatting with his outside advisers saying to him, ah, you don't need a chief of staff or a comps director. Is that right?

BORGER: I think it's almost reinforcing what Donald Trump probably believes right now. For weeks he has been telling his friends I finally got this under control, I know how to run this White House. And I had a friend of his say to me, I think it was last week, that if you look at the way the Trump organization was run, there's an awful lot of vice presidents and one guy in charge, and that's Donald Trump.

And that's the way he likes to run things. Getting back to Stormy, it leads you to believe that he likes to have his finger in every pie. He may believe he doesn't need another chief of staff and, in fact, he can just silo everyone and say you're in charge of this. You're in charge of that and report back to me when it's done because I don't want anybody telling me who I can talk to, when I can talk to them. And, you know, he chaffed a lot under that with General Kelly who, by the way, is still the Chief of Staff.

BALDWIN: Until it's decided otherwise.

BORGER: Right. BALDWIN: Gloria, Paul, thank you so much. Let's move on to this

other piece of breaking news. Russia retaliating against the United States, announcing that the Kremlin will now shut down the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg and expel 60 U.S. diplomats, the exact same number of Russian diplomats that President Trump just expelled last week from the United States. The Presidents action is considered punishment for the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K.

So, let's go straight to Phil -- forgive me here is the President in Ohio

DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to be back in Ohio and I'm proud to be here with the incredible carpenters, laborers, all the members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18. I appreciate all of your support that's been amazing. Your support has been so great. Right from the beginning.

And each of you is living proof that American workers are truly the best in the world. Right? Rick Dalton and Mike Tochten, thank you very much for hosting us. Where are you guys? Where are they? Thank you, fellows. Nice-looking guys. We're also pleased to be joined by Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao and Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta. They've done a fantastic job.

[14:10:00] We're especially happy to have some of our great Ohio leaders with us today, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. Mary? State auditor, Dave Yost. Congressman Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson and Jim Renacy. Good, great people. Thank you. Good. Great people. Tough congressman, I will tell you that.

They're for the workers, right? They're for the workers. They're for the country. I can tell you that. They are for the country. Joined by our friends here in Ohio, my administration is fighting every day to protect. They're for the workers, right? They're for the workers. They're for the country. I can tell you that. They are for the country.

Joined by our friends here in Ohio, my administration is fighting every day to protect, defend and grow American jobs. You see what's happening all over the country. It's in Ohio, but it's all over the country. Pouring back plants and factories pouring back into our country. They can't come back fast enough, even if you look, Apple going to invest $350 billion. When I heard $350 billion I said you must mean $350 million. That's still a big plant. But they're going to investing $350 billion.

So many others coming back with massive amounts of money. They all want to be back in the USA. A lot of them left. They're coming back. We've eliminated a record number of job-killing regulations. That's one of the reasons they're coming back. And we're not finished yet. In some cases, you have statutory limitations where you have to go 30 days and wait and then you have to go 90 days and wait and then you have to go 15 days and wait. And then you go 90 days again. And then do you know what happens? We kill the regulation. It's a thing of beauty. I think that's been a big, big success and a reason for our success.

And we made history by massively reducing job-killing taxes. They want people to come in from the border and they want, I guess -- I can't imagine they want but drugs flowing over our border. We started building our wall. I'm so proud of it. We have $1.6 billion. We are wee already started. You saw the pictures yesterday. I said what a thing of beauty.

On September 28th we go further, and we get that sucker built. Some people said oh, has he given up on the wall? No, I never give up. We've done the planning and we have beautiful pictures. The wall looks good. I was always very good at building. That was always my best thing. I think better than being President I was good at building. Like you people. You're good at building. I think maybe I'll be better at President, David, that would be good.

We're building a really state-of-the-art very, very efficient. Have to be able to see through. Makes sense. You have to be able to see through to see who is on the other side. We have prototypes all over and we have something special happening. We're giving them the equipment they need to fight and to win. We are building up our military to the highest level it's ever been, and it was not in good shape. But it's now going to be very soon the highest level it's ever been.

By the way that means jobs, too. Defense is number one. Even you job folks would say defense is number one. But it's a lot of jobs. Millions of jobs. We unleashed American energy independence. Energy exports are at a record high and foreign imports are at their lowest level in much more than a decade.

[14:15:00] We stood up for the American workers by finally cracking down on unfair trade that steals our jobs and plunders our wealth. They've stolen our wealth, our jobs. They've stolen our plants and factories. No more. Even our friends took advantage -- our friends are friends.

They're wonderful people. But we said, you can't do that anymore. Those days are over. Frankly, our friends did more damage to us than our enemies. We didn't deal with our enemies. We dealt with our friends and dealt incompetently. Because we're now finally putting America first. America first.

BALDWIN: We will keep an eye on the President speaking there in Ohio. But back to our breaking news. Russia retaliating against the U.S., the Kremlin taking action to shut down U.S. consulate and expel dozens of U.S. diplomats. All of this fallout from that nerve agent poisoning being linked to Russia. We will take you like to Moscow for the latest there. Also, this beef with Amazon. President Trump launches an attack against the popular internet giant. Is this just about business or is this getting personal?

All of this as today Hope Hicks says good-bye to the President there at the White House. Sources say aides are concerned that the President could begin to unravel, their word without her. Others are telling Trump he doesn't need a communications director or chief of staff. More on that scoop coming up. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We're back with breaking news here on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Russia retaliating against the United States, announcing that the Kremlin will shut down the consulate in St. Petersburg and expel 60 U.S. diplomats the exact same number of Russian diplomats that Trump expelled out of the U.S. last week. It's considered punishment for the poisoning of a former Russia spy in the U.K. To Phil Black we go, live for us in Moscow. Also, with us Elise Labott, global affairs correspondent for more perspective. First to you, Phil, on the retaliations. Tell us more.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke. The principle of reciprocity applies. That's tit-for-tat. The U.S. kicked out 60 Russians, so the Russians are kicking out 60 Americans. And the U.S. shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle and Russia is shutting down the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. So, it's even in theory but Russia is saying the ball is in your court, if you are further we will take further measures.

It's not just America affected by this. Some 20 countries expelled Russian diplomats, talking a total of 150 diplomats from around the world. That's how many Russia says will be expelled in kind in the coming days here as well.

BALDWIN: So then, Elise, do you think that this tit-for-tat will continue, possibly escalate, or is this it?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think this was any surprise, Brooke. You remember back in 2016, during the transition, the Obama administration expelled a bunch of Russian diplomats and President Putin said he would hold off to see what the Trump administration did and then he ended up expelling an equal number of U.S. diplomats. Usually when it comes to these expulsions, it's a tit-for-tat, as Phil said, one for one.

I don't think there's any appetite really to escalate this. They did this in terms of the expulsions. Could we see other measures from the U.S. against Russia? Perhaps. Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman, was talking before he was called into the Russian Foreign Ministry about this decision and said we'll just have to see where it goes. The Brits are talking about freezing Russian assets. It's possible that the U.S. does that too. I think right now they want to calm the atmosphere and go on to dealing with Russia and other business.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you quickly. We were listening to the President speaking to workers in Ohio. And he was talking about the U.S. in the economy and then he pivoted for a moment and made this comment on North Korea.


TRUMP: And we are moving along very nicely with North Korea. We'll see what happens. Certainly, the rhetoric has calmed down a little bit, would you say? Would you say? And will see how it all turns out. Maybe it will be good and maybe it won't. And if it's no good were walking, and if it's good we will embrace it. But is going to be very interesting over the next period of time. South Korea has been wonderful. We'll probably hold that deal up for a little while, see how it all plays out.


[14:25:00] BALDWIN: We know at least Kim Jung-on was on that mystery train to China. Met with the leader in Beijing. This is ahead of the meeting with his counterpart in South Korea and that eventually in a location in time TBD, the President of the United States. Do you know anything about preparation that's happening behind the scenes from a White House perspective?

LABOTT: The whole administration is prepping for a meeting that hasn't been confirmed whether it's a date or location. There's a kind of interagency process in terms of where could this be? Who would staff it? Looking back at the history of negotiations with North Korea, the history of this type of summit. Everyone wants to be prepared in the event that it does happen.

But Brooke, the U.S. still has not heard directly from the North Koreans in any meaningful way in terms of any substantial program that they want to discuss. I talked to some U.S. diplomats who wonder whether the South Koreans have been exaggerating what the North Koreans are looking to do. Do we really know if they're ready to fully give up their nuclear program, so-called denuclearization?

One thing is for sure, as President Trump said, the atmosphere, the tone has definitely shifted. It's a much better tone. Some diplomats said look if it reduces tension, at least if you have a process going on, maybe it will be dragged out and that's not such a bad thing. Right now, there's a lot of preps for a meeting that they don't really know if it will happen, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Elise, thank you. Phil, thank you so much for your reporting from Moscow.

Ahead here on CNN, more on our breaking news. This federal judge in California denying Stormy Daniels' motion to depose the President and his lawyer. Stand by. We're getting new details and a response from Michael Cohen's lawyer.


BALDWIN: And another cabinet secretary shown the door by President Trump. This time the President fired his Veterans Affairs Chief, David Shulkin. A White House official telling CNN that David Shulkin had too many quote, distractions that interfered with carrying out --