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AT THIS HOUR
Gloria Allred Withdraws from Representing Summer Zervos; Judge Denies Stormy Daniels' Attorney's Request to Depose Trump, His Attorney; Russia Expels U.S. Diplomats, Tests New Ballistic Missiles; EPA Administrator Under Fire for Security Expenses During Personal Trips; Oklahoma Teachers Preparing for Monday Walk Out Over Raises. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired March 30, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A step backward for Stormy Daniels, but her lawyer says they're not going anywhere. A California judge halted her attorney's effort to depose President Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, calling the motion for an expedited trial and discovery process premature. Daniels team wants them to answer questions under oath about the $130,000 payment to silence Daniels about her alleged affair with Trump.
Some breaking news in to CNN about Summer Zervos. She's the former "Apprentice" contestant who accused President Trump of sexual misconduct and then sued him when he called her a liar. Zervos is losing a high-powered attorney who has been representing here.
CNN's Athena Jones has details for us.
What is happening here, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, it is not exactly clear why Gloria Allred, who was representing Summer Zervos in this matter, has withdrawn from the case. She, of course, made a name for herself in representing women in cases like this.
Here is the statement that Allred's office provided to my colleague. Gloria Allred says, "Our firm has withdrawn from Summer Zervos' case. Our withdrawal has nothing to do with the merits of her case against President Trump. We have no comment on the reason for the firm's withdrawal. We continue to wish Summer the very best in her pursuit of justice."
I can also report that Mary Ann Wong, part of Summer Zervos' legal team, will continue to represent her. She said so in a statement.
Summer Zervos is not commenting on this change.
But one thing that is interesting here, Brianna, is we don't know exactly why Allred is removing herself from this case, but we do know that she made clear she is now willing to talk about the case, to talk about the facts in the case. It is generally her approach not to talk about details of -- in cases where she is representing someone. Now that she isn't part of that legal team, we could hear a lot more from her about this case -- Brianna? KEILAR: We could hear more from Gloria Allred or from Summer Zervos?
JONES: We could hear more from Gloria Allred, who is now willing to talk about the case. As you saw in her statement, she is saying, she is not withdrawing because of the merits in this case. She appears very willing to discuss it now that she's no longer representing Summer Zervos directly. So I think that we could get more details from her in the coming days, just about this case and about her approach and her views on it.
KEILAR: Yes, and maybe that will answer some questions about why she is stepping aside as well.
Athena Jones, thank you.
Joining me now is CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin.
Areva, this is pretty interesting news with Gloria Allred no longer representing Summer Zervos. A lot of legal experts had looked at the various cases that President Trump is facing, or his personal lawyer is facing, and they thought the Zervos case could be the most dangerous to him. With Gloria Allred stepping aside and simply issuing a statement that says this has nothing to do with the merits of the case, it leaves open, well, why did she step aside? This is a high-powered attorney who we have known to represent many women.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Brianna, we won't know the exact reasons, and Gloria won't be free to share those reasons. Those are typically considered attorney/client privilege conversations. And what happens in those conversations, the lawyer even after they withdraw from a case, doesn't have the liberty or the freedom to discuss why they were withdrawn. It could prejudice the case. I think Gloria made it clear, however, though, that she didn't withdraw because of the merits of the case. I think she was trying to signal to the public that she does believe that this case has merit.
I don't think it will hurt the case going forward. I think Summer will be able to find competent counsel to continue to represent her. We know the judge issued a favorable ruling in her behalf. He said the case can move forward, that Trump can be deposed, that this case can continue in civil court despite Trump's team objections and attempts to have the case dismissed.
KEILAR: What kind of reasons would prompt a lawyer to step aside from a case?
MARTIN: Good question, Brianna. Sometimes lawyers and clients have differences about the way a case should be prosecuted. So you will hear oftentimes the word "irreconcilable differences." That means I may want to go in one direction with the case, and the lawyer has a different idea about the way the case should be prosecuted. And they can't come to a compromise. They can't come to an agreement about how the case should move forward. In those cases, a lawyer has an ethical obligation to withdraw from the case, because lawyers are bound to represent their clients zealously. And if they can't do that, then they should withdraw from a case. Sometimes there are disputes over fees. Lawyers often have to withdraw from a case because of lack of payment from a client or some other kind of dispute about how the lawyer will be compensated. Sometimes it just has to do with the schedule that the lawyer may have. Sometimes, you know, again, a lawyer may say to a client, I don't think I'm the best person to represent you in this matter.
So there are a number of reasons that may be the cause of why Gloria Allred has withdrawn from this case, but I don't think we should read anything in to her decision as it relates --
MARTIN: -- to the merits of this case or the ability of Summer Zervos to move forward with her claim.
[11:35:14] KEILAR: On the Stormy case, let's talk about that. The judge says Avenatti, her lawyer, was premature in making a motion to try to depose President Trump and Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer. Cohen's shell company, they haven't responded at this point to Avenatti's complaint that alleges defamation. They haven't officially filed to compel arbitration. Obviously, you know, that could be seen as just taking as much time as they are allowed to draw this out. What did you think about the judge's decision to put a temporary stop on this?
MARTIN: Yes, Brianna, I wasn't surprised by it. And I agree with it. In a case such as this, before there has been a formal response to the complaint, typically discovery isn't allowed. And we have to remember that Trump's team continues to argue that this entire matter should be sent to private arbitration. Their claim is that the court doesn't have jurisdiction over the dispute between Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, and Donald Trump. So I expected the judge to decide that matter first. The judge has to first determine whether this case will remain in a federal court or whether it will be sent back to state court -- that's one possibility -- or whether it will be sent to private arbitration. And until that's decided, it is not likely that any discovery will move forward.
KEILAR: Areva, thank you so much. Areva Martin with us.
Coming up, dozens of U.S. diplomats expelled, an American consulate shuttered, and Russia is testing a new ballistic missile with nuclear capability. Yet, the Kremlin says it still wants good relations with the U.S. We'll have that next.
[11:41:17] KEILAR: Russia is showing the world a new type of long- range missile. Russia's military showing today what they call the successful test launch of a new type of ICBM nicknamed the Satan 2. It is the same - it's at the same time that Russia is at the center of a real diplomatic mess. More than 20 countries have booted out Russian officials and Moscow has done the same.
I want to get Kelly Magsamen in here, a CNN national security analyst, the V.P. at the Center for American Progress. Satan 2, such a subtle name, right? Such a subtle name. What is the
message that Vladimir Putin is sending?
KELLY MAGSAMEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The Russians are subtle. I think this ICBM test is probably a long-planned test. They have been trying to upgrade their ICBM force for quite some time. They're trying to field it by 2021. So this could just be part of a plan of testing. Frankly, you know, the United States recently tested our own submarine-launched ballistic missiles as well. Hard to tell if it is connected in any way to the expulsion of the diplomats.
KEILAR: You don't necessarily read into it that this is -- this is all interwoven, right?
MAGSAMEN: Yes. It could be. We don't really now. But they have a long-term military modernization plan ready to go.
KEILAR: What is the effect on U.S. efforts in Russia when you're talking about these expulsions and this closing?
MAGSAMEN: Listen, I think the international community had to send the Russians a very strong signal by expelling diplomats. I think that was important. I think if we try to affect Vladimir Putin, this is not the way to go about it. I think we need a new playbook as it relates to Putin. In some ways, Russian meddling in our elections and all the ongoing activity is almost like a new Sputnik moment for the United States. And we have to respond in kind.
KEILAR: Sanctions instead?
MAGSAMEN: We need to go for Putin's pocketbook. He and his cronies have amassed a tremendous amount of wealth at the expense of the Russian people over the last several years. They keep some of that wealth in the United States and in Great Britain. We need to be having a much more financial-sanctions-focused approach on Putin.
KEILAR: No sanctions on oligarchs, which became very clear --
KEILAR: -- in the last week or so.
Kelly Magsamen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
KEILAR: The embattled EPA administrator under new scrutiny this morning. A Senator claims that Scott Pruitt used taxpayer-funded security teams for personal trips to Disney and to the Rose Bowl. We'll have details next.
[11:45:00] KEILAR: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is now facing scrutiny for his pricy round-the-clock security. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is calling out Pruitt's unprecedented EPA-funded expenses. The costly 24/7 security detail was reportedly part of Pruitt's personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.
CNN aviation and government regulation correspondent, Rene Marsh, has the story for us.
It's important to note that Pruitt was already under scrutiny for costs.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was. You know, pricey travel, racking up nearly $200,000 in travel costs flying first class. Of course, the EPA says all of that happened because of security measures. But now CNN is learning that this Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse recently sent a letter to the I.G.'s office essentially saying, look, we also want you to look a little bit more closely into security costs surrounding Pruitt's security detail. As you know, it's a 24/7 security detail. We do know that he sent this letter recently. CNN had a chance to review it. Whitehouse says that it was based on information that he received confidentially from an unnamed source. The letter essentially alleges that Pruitt uses taxpayer-funded security detail while on non-official business, including trips home and to Disneyland --
KEILAR: He's not supposed to do that.
MARSH: Look, it depends on who you ask. EPA is saying, look, this EPA administrator is facing threats that no other EPA administrator has faced before. So that is their argument, that, look, he needs the security no matter where he goes. However, Senator Whitehouse is raising questions about, well, how much is this costing the American taxpayer when now we're talking about protecting not the president but the EPA administrator when he goes to the Rose Bowl, when he goes to Disneyland with his family. So, you know, he's asking that the EPA office of inspector general look closely into this.
[11:50:09] KEILAR: And the EPA is responding -- that's their response, basically, that he's doing this in line with security protocols? What are they saying?
MARSH: They're saying his security details does not change whether he's on official business or not. And they point out all the threats he's been facing.
KEILAR: Rene Marsh, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.
After watching teachers in West Virginia go on strike and win, teachers in Oklahoma are preparing to walk out on Monday. Lawmakers there just approved a pay raise, but is it enough to stop the strike?
But first, more than 40 percent of kids and teens sent to a juvenile detail detention in Texas once will be back within just a year. So a Dallas chef opened a cafe with a built-in training program to make sure that they get the opportunity to serve meals instead of more time. "CNN Hero" Chad Houser describes it as an a-ha moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAD HOUSER, CNN HERO: I remember consciously thinking that the system is rigged based on choices that were made for him, not by him, the color of his skin, the part of town that he was born into, the schools that he had access to. And I just thought, it's not fair. He deserves every chance that I had. And I thought, if you're not willing to do something yourself, then you're being a hypocrite. So either put up or shut up. And that was it for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: For more on Chad's story, going to CNNheroes.com. And if you know someone who deserves to be a "CNN Hero," well, definitely nominate them.
[11:56:08] KEILAR: Oklahoma teachers just got a $6100 pay raise, but they say they're going to strike, anyway. While lawmakers called the pay raise historic, the teachers union say it's not enough. So teachers say they're going to walk off the job on Monday.
Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation is teacher's salary, according to the National Education Association. Just to put it into context, the average salary for an elementary school teacher in the state, average, of anyone with any experience, is a little over $41,000 a year, according to a 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is more than $17,000 less than the national average.
Joining me now to discuss is David DuVall. He is the executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association.
Lawmakers, sir, have approved a $6100 pay raise. We just talked about that. It's the first one that teachers in Oklahoma have gotten in 10 years. The president of your union called it historic and major progress, but the plan is still to walk out on Monday. Tell us why.
DAVID DUVALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Well, hello, Brianna. Yes, what's happened, however, is that the legislature passed what is admittedly historic legislation, which would provide significant pay increases for teachers, but then they turned around within 72 hours and began to dismantle the funding mechanisms to pay for it. And that's simply not acceptable.
It's important to understand the context here. Over the last 10 years, Oklahoma -- the Oklahoma legislature has cut per-people funding in our state by 28 percent, which is far more than any other state in the country. This isn't just about teacher pay, this is about the classroom. I speak with teachers every day, and, yes, they're seeing their colleagues go to other states for better pay, but what they're also seeing is class sizes exploding. They're seeing schools go to four-day weeks instead of five-day weeks. And 20 percent of Oklahoma schools are now running on four-day weeks. They're seeing A.P. classes and foreign-language classes and other enrichment curricula get cut because we don't have the funding to pay for it. This is about our students and doing what's right for our students. It's not about just teacher pay.
KEILAR: We saw West Virginia teachers fight successfully for a raise. We're seeing in other states, in Kentucky, teachers walking out, Arizona teachers have protested. Do you think this is part of a national movement?
DUVALL: I'm sure that there is an impact nationally, teachers seeing what's going on in other states. But in our case, in Oklahoma, it's not just teachers, it's teachers and parents and students and community members who have seen the legislature. They've lost faith in their legislature to deal with the issues that are important to them. And this is as much about telling the legislature that we expect you to fix this problem. And this problem is education funding, this is about doing what's right for students. So this is an Oklahoma issue, it's not a national issue. It's about the people of Oklahoma want our legislature to do what's in the best interest, the best public interest, and not some special interest. It's about students.
KEILAR: We'll be watching on Monday.
David DuVall, thank you.
Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar.
"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King will return next week.
We begin this hour with President Trump. He shocks some members of his own administration after revealing his plans for American involvement in war-torn Syria in front of a massive crowd in Ohio. Last night, the president told supporters about his plans for the ISIS battleground.