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Parkland Shooter Getting Fan Mail Behind Bars; Right-Wing Host Forced to Apologize to Parkland Student; Russia Retaliates. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired March 29, 2018 - 15:00   ET



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A place called Westport, California, just north of there.

Another bizarre twist in this whole story is that Child Protective Services in Washington state had been out to the house on -- last Friday and Monday and Tuesday, wanting to see, check on the welfare of the children, because, back in 2010, one of the women, one of the moms, had been -- she had pled guilty to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota. They were trying to check on them then.

They were not there. And it looked like basically when police got into the house to see if they were there and alive, it looked like they had just left the house for a temporary trip. So a lot of mystery here and a lot of sadness -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: How awful. Miguel, thank you for the update on that, out of California.

Let's continue on here to the top of the hour. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We are following breaking news in this tangled web surrounding the president, the porn star and the hush money. A judge has just ruled that the president will not be forced to testify under oath about his alleged relationship with Stormy Daniels, at least for now, the judge saying Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, was "premature."

And Avenatti, who was just on CNN, agrees, but suggests he's not quite finished with the fight to end the president's silence.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Well, Wolf, over the course of my lifetime, it hasn't happened a lot. But it turns out that we were a little premature this time around. This is just a procedural ruling. It really means nothing.

But I will tell you this. We're very, very encouraged by language in the order, not just suggesting, but basically finding that we're correct in the application of the law and the facts to this matter. This does not bode well for the president or Mr. Cohen. And all indications are that when this motion is heard on the merits,

we're going to get the discovery and we're going to get the trial we have asked for.


BALDWIN: Joseph Cammarata, Paula Jones' former attorney in her lawsuit against President Clinton, with me now.

Joseph, did Michael Avenatti overplay his hand?


I think what he did was what any lawyer who represents a victim should do, is be very aggressive. And he tried to get the deposition sooner rather than later. There's nothing wrong with that. The court said, as you mentioned, not now, but maybe later.

The pivotal issue is going to be whether or not the Trump group can enforce the arbitration clause in the Stormy Daniels' agreement. If so, more likely than not the hope of deposing Mr. Trump in an arbitration proceeding is minimal.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about the other piece of news. I want to play some sound. This is Michael Cohen's lawyer here on CNN saying that Trump wasn't involved in the whole Stormy NDA. Here he was.


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

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Not aware about the agreement. What about the money?

SCHWARTZ: He was not aware about any of it. He was just 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: Now, maybe this is where those little words and/or come in with regard to the president's signature, AKA David Dennison.

But, Joseph, with what Mr. Schwartz said, would this help the Stormy case? Would it give them an opening?

CAMMARATA: Would it give them an opening to pursue in terms of...

BALDWIN: Thus believing -- if they're saying, oh, Trump didn't know to sign, then would that render the contract invalid?

CAMMARATA: If he was supposed to be a signatory to the agreement and he did not sign, well, then you don't have a complete agreement, you don't have a meeting of the minds.

If you undertake to have a contract with persons A and B, well, you need persons A and B. Otherwise, you don't have a complete meeting of the minds, a complete enforceable agreement. And so that would play into the hand of Stormy Daniels.

But, you know, it seems that on the Trump side that the story keeps changing, the sands keep shifting in terms of just who did what relative to putting this agreement together. You have to believe that a lawyer would lay out $130,000 for a client just because he liked the man. That's kind of hard to believe.

BALDWIN: You wouldn't do that for someone you really liked?

CAMMARATA: Not really. I'm not sure that you're supposed to do that as a lawyer, because now you have an invested interest in the underlying litigation.

And our ethical rules prohibit from -- as I understand it, prohibit us from doing that. Even if I love my client, I don't think that's the appropriate thing to do.


And so here they say, well, I just gave $130,000 to protect my good friend Donald Trump. It just doesn't ring true.

BALDWIN: Especially when it comes to borrowing against your home to have this money to pay this person.

Let me move on, because we also really wanted to talk to you. Joseph, let's relive the '90s for a second.


BALDWIN: Because your case -- you like that?


BALDWIN: Your case with Paula Jones has recently been cited here by the Stormy legal team in order to get the president under oath.

And based upon what you know about this case, do you think the precedent applies having a president not be immune from civil cases, applies with Donald Trump?

CAMMARATA: It most certainly does.

BALDWIN: It does?

CAMMARATA: It applies in the Zervos case. It applies in the Stormy Daniels case. It applies in any case in which a president is accused of wrongdoing unrelated to his official business, unrelated to the office of the president of the United States.

The Supreme Court said in my case, the Jones and Clinton case, that there is no -- we don't have kings in our society. We're all equal before the eyes of the law, and that the president of the United States is just like any other citizen, and has to stand accountable in a courtroom for any alleged wrongdoing.

And so it most certainly applies to the Stormy Daniels case and it most certainly applies to the Zervos case and any other case in which Mr. Trump is accused of wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct.

He will be in the appropriate circumstances subject to fact-finding, answering written questions under oath, providing documents and giving sworn testimony under oath in a deposition.

BALDWIN: I like that. No kings in the eyes of the law.

Joseph Cammarata, thank you so much for weighing in. I appreciate that.

CAMMARATA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's move on, because we've got this other breaking story, Russia retaliating against the U.S., announcing that the Kremlin will shut down the U.S. Consulate over in St. Petersburg, and not only that, they are going to expel 60 U.S. diplomats.

That's the exact same number of Russian diplomats that President Trump expelled last week. The president's action is considered punishment for the poisoning of a Russian spy over in England.

Phil Black is in Moscow, and we also have Josh Rogin, our CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist.

But, Phil, first to you on the retaliation, this sort of tit-for-tat. Tell me more about that.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's the principle of reciprocity, according to Russian officials.

And this was always, Brooke, going to be the minimum Russian response, really. You kick out 60, we will kick out 60. You close a consulate, we will do the same. And that's precisely what they have done.

Crucially, they have decided to match that U.S. effort and not escalate it. They're not just doing it with the United States as well, but to every country that, in recent days, has announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats or suspected intelligence officers.

You're talking about more than 20 countries; 150 diplomats are going to be given their marching orders by Moscow over the coming days in the same way that the U.S. has received these orders today.

But they have dealt with America first, the old adversary, the country that Russian really does tend to care about most. The Russian view is that this is the bare minimum response, it's a reasonable response to what you have done to us, unjustly, but they have included a warning. And that is that if other countries, notably the United States, do take further action against Russia, then Russia will respond further as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The spokeswoman over at the State Department, Josh, Heather Nauert, just addressed this. Let's listen to what she said.


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This evening, Ambassador Jon Huntsman was (INAUDIBLE) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation dubbed 60 of our staff persona non grata, and they now must depart within seven days. They also ordered the closure of our consulate in St. Petersburg within 48 hours.

It's clear from the list provided to us that the Russian Federation is not interested in a dialogue on issues that matter to our two countries. I spoke with him a short time ago, have also spoken with some of his other colleagues who are serving in Moscow. I let Ambassador Huntsman know that the entire State Department and U.S. government stands with our people at Mission Russia.


BALDWIN: All right, so you heard her, Josh. This 60 for 60, does it end there?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it ends this round of the tit-for-tat. Right?

But who knows what Putin is going to do next. Let's remember, each of these steps that the U.S. and its partners take is in response to something egregious and often illegal that the Russian government did in the first place, right? First, they invaded Crimea, then Eastern Ukraine. Then they interfered in our election. Now they're killing people on the streets of England. OK?


So, sure, we can have this sort of diplomatic detente for a while. But there's no sign that like Vladimir Putin is just stop there and now be a really good guy and just do everything right, right?

Now, John Bolton, incoming national security adviser, said just a couple of weeks ago that really the only way to really stop Putin from continuing his aggression is to have a disproportionate response.

He wants to do a lot more, right? If the Russians want to do a lot more in response, fine, we will see where their breaking point is. But as long as we have sort of a piecemeal response, and then they do a piecemeal response, we're basically back to where we started.

But Bolton will get a chance to push that policy when he gets into office in about a couple weeks.

BALDWIN: Speaking of John Bolton, the incoming national security adviser, meeting Defense Secretary Mattis for the first time, want you to listen to how General Mattis greets him.



JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Mr. Secretary, it's so good to see you. Thank you for inviting me over.

MATTIS: Oh, no, thanks for coming. And it's good to finally meet you.

BOLTON: Absolutely.

MATTIS: I hear that you're absolutely the devil incarnate. I wanted to meet you.



BALDWIN: The devil incarnate. I wanted to meet you. Thoughts?

ROGIN: Well, these guys have -- although they've never met, they have been working in the same very small national security community, at the various highest levels for decades, OK? They don't agree on a lot of stuff.

First of all, they don't agree on whether we should attack North Korea, OK?

BALDWIN: Minor detail.

ROGIN: Bolton says we should. Mattis says we shouldn't. They don't agree on the Iran nuclear deal.

There's a lot of stuff they got to work out. But what they're doing here is, they're wrapping their arms around each other, very public show of support for a good reason. These guys are professionals. They are going to have to work together. There's a lot of really important stuff coming up, North Korea summit, Iran deal. There's wars going on.

It's a crazy time in our lives. They're both sort of trying to rise above it. Now, are they going to be able to do that? That depends on both of them. Mattis has a lot of experience working with Trump officials that he doesn't agree with. He's pretty good at it. Right?

Bolton has a lot of experience not working well with people that he disagrees with. He is going to have to change. Right? Now, a lot of people that I talk to who are close to Bolton say he knows that. He's going to get in there. He's not going to be the John Bolton that gets into fights with everybody all the time for no good reason.

He is going to try to be a manager, a leader and work with all these people because he knows that's the job that he's about to have.

BALDWIN: They will be watched very closely, the two of them.

Josh, thank you so much. Good to see you.

ROGIN: Any time.

BALDWIN: Just in, FOX News host Laura Ingraham is now apologizing for mocking a school shooting survivor as advertisers are pulling out of her show.

We will discuss that, as well as the disturbing stack of fan mail letters addressed to the accused Parkland school killer. Who these letters are from and why the suspect may have no idea they exist.

And, right now, Stephon Clark's family and friends are laying him to rest there in Sacramento. His shooting death at the hands of police officers has sparked large protests. The White House, when asked about this, says it's a local matter. We will discuss.



BALDWIN: The president today lashing out at Amazon again, saying that the retail giant doesn't pay enough taxes.

The president tweeting this: "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state and local governments, use our postal system as their delivery boy, causing tremendous loss to the U.S., and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business."

Amazon stock now is recovering after taking a bit of a hit over the president's criticism of the retailer and its owner, Jeff Bezos. Bezos also happens to own "Washington Post."

Linette Lopez is back with us today, senior finance correspondent for the "Business Insider."

And so, all right. There's the -- I want you to fact-check some of what Trump is saying and then we will get into the meat and potatoes of why perhaps he's really irked with Amazon, AKA, Jeff Bezos. But first on taxes and the postal system, is he right or is he wrong?


I think that when we're talking about taxes, we need to have a debate on whether companies in America across the board should be getting sweetheart deals to move to cities, to states. Amazon is not the only company that gets a sweetheart deal when it says it's going to bring jobs to, whatever, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or whatever you're talking about.

If we want to have discussion about that, we should do that about corporate America in general, because this is happening to all kinds of companies in all kinds of sectors. Now, the U.S. Postal Service, that is patently false. Packages are

the one bright spot in the U.S. Postal Service. And that's what Amazon delivers. Now, I'm not surprised he doesn't know. This is a president who thinks that Americans still get their milk from -- quote -- "the local milk people" -- unquote. It's kind of crazy.

So the question is, if we want to talk about antitrust, that's another thing. Do you want to talk about how Amazon is pushing retailers out?

BALDWIN: Is it? Because that's what apparently his wealthier friends who he hops on the phone with are saying. This is forcing mom and pops out of business.

LOPEZ: To me, it's unfortunate that he doesn't try to cover more pressing antitrust issues, like health care, where we're seeing massive mergers, we're seeing pricing going up, and Americans aren't able to keep up with the price of drugs.

And actually Trump's FDA had tweeted about that. If anybody should be tweeting about it and retweeting it, it's Trump. This is a problem that Trump can solve.

BALDWIN: How much of it is, though, about the guy who is at the top at Amazon is also the same guy at the top as what the president affectionately refers to as the Amazon "The Washington Post." This is Jeff Bezos. This is the number one on the Forbes billionaire list kind of guy.

How much of this is just personal?

LOPEZ: It's hard not to think this is personal.

During the campaign, Trump went really hard after Michael Bloomberg, and I think it was a little billionaire jealousy there. They come from the same hometown. Trump hates "The New York Times." But I think he might hate "The Washington Post" more, because he grew up with "The New York Times."


He has kind of this weird thing with Maggie Haberman. He is kind of obsessed with her. So, I think "The Washington Post" is a perfect target for him. And, yes, he's tired of the media and he's getting up and he's tweeting about it. What else is new?

BALDWIN: Linette Lopez, thank you very much.

LOPEZ: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

All of this as today Hope Hicks says goodbye at the White House. Here they are, cameras rolling. Sources say aides are concerned that Trump could begin to, their word, unravel without her. Others are telling Trump he doesn't need a communications director, doesn't need a chief of staff. How much is he listening to them?

Also ahead, the shooter at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, getting stacks and stacks of fan mail as he sits behind bars. What the sheriff's department had to say about these disturbing piles of letters.

And FOX News host Laura Ingraham forced to apologize today for making fun of a Parkland student, David Hogg. But some of her advertisers are still pulling out of her show.



BALDWIN: Like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy before him, the Parkland shooter is inexplicably receiving hundreds of pieces of fan mail, love letters, even money from admirers around the world. I know.

These are just some of the letters sent since he was arrested for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. They are from all kinds of people, teenage girls, older women, some even men.

The sheriff's department says some have even sent money for his commissary.

So, my colleague Ashleigh Banfield, host of HLN's "CRIME & JUSTICE WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD," is with me.

And the second I read this, this morning, obviously, you are like, what?


BALDWIN: Why are people doing this?

BANFIELD: Yes. It's not just his phenomenon. Like you said, Manson had it. He had it for decades, followers. Drew Peterson had it, love letters on death row. The Menendez brothers, they had their followers, too. It's weird.

BALDWIN: It's beyond weird.



I mean, look, some people marry people who are committed for life and people who are committed and sentenced to death. And they meet them through the mail and they marry them. And it's odd.

It's an odd phenomenon. This one is particularly sad because it's so abrasive. It feels ugly. There's money flowing in to his commissary. The reports of upwards of $800 have flowed into his commissary account, where he can buy snacks and things. I think it's just jarring. But if you want any consolation in any of this, at least the sheriffs

have kept it from him. He is in isolation. He's on suicide watch. So, he's not allowed just to peruse our shows or the mail. They're reading some religious reports to him, some of these religious e-mails or letters that have come in.

But they're not letting him see the racy photographs and the love letters from -- I mean, you wouldn't believe it, the women and girls and even grown men.

BALDWIN: Sending him these letters.

Speaking of Parkland, the FOX News host Laura Ingraham, right, so she attacked -- she has been attacking -- she attacked this one student, David Hogg, who has been on TV a bit talking about what he's fighting for, along with a bunch of these young people.

She had tweeted initially: "David Hogg, rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it." Goes on: "Dinged by UCLA, 4.1 GPA, totally predictable, given acceptance rates."

So, then she has now actually apologized, saying this.

Guys, if you pull up the tweet, I just will read what she has said in her mea culpa. And so the fact that she has apologized, Ashleigh Banfield?


Look, I think -- I always want to see the best in people. I'm really glad that Laura Ingraham apologized. I don't know if it was because of how clever he was in his reply several hours after the initial tweet, but don't mess with a 17-year-old kid like David Hogg. Don't.

He extraordinary. He simply put up a tweet saying, pick a number, one through 12 and contact the company next to that. Shall I read the list? Because on it was Sleep Number, AT&T, Nutrish, Allstate, Bayer, Rocket Mortgage, Liberty Mutual, Arby's, TripAdvisor, Nestle, Hulu, and Wayfair.


BANFIELD: And I will tell you this, Brooke.

Since that tweet went up, Nutrish dropped advertising and announced that. TripAdvisor has pulled out of Laura Ingraham's show and so has Wayfair.

So, then, as you said, I think Laura Ingraham was compelled to read: "Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA, including David Hogg. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week" -- amen -- "I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after the horrific shooting, noticing how poised he was." I don't know if she had a moment of conscience or if she had of a moment of, holy...


BALDWIN: Oh, my gosh, my advertisers.

BANFIELD: Yes, I'm losing bread.

But 17 -- even right-wing trolls have gone against her and said, are you kidding me? Please. You're a 50-some-year-old woman going after a 17-year-old kid. Ain't right.

BALDWIN: Too far.

OK, Ashleigh, thank you.

BANFIELD: Happy Easter.

BALDWIN: Same. Same to you. Thank you.

Moments ago, President Trump weighed in publicly about why his VA chief had to go. But is his personal doctor the right guy for the job? We will talk live to a former Green Beret and get his take coming up.