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Author of New Book on Trump; Amazon Stock Plummets; Notre Dame Player Makes Last Second Shots. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 08:30   ET



RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE: CHANGING THE RULES OF THE GAME": In my book, I cite a "Washington Post" story, "Washington Post" not being the worst place in the world. I used to work there. August 14th of last year citing e-mails that have been turned over by the White House to congressional committees between Manafort and other aides in which Papadopoulos tries to get all of them to go to Russia and meet with Russian leaders.


KESSLER: This is in e-mails. And Manafort says, absolutely not. His deputy says -- Gates says absolutely not. They say we have to warn Trump not to do this. They say we have to assign another guy to make sure nobody responds to this.

CAMEROTA: But what does that have to do with whether he'll turn on President Trump?

KESSLER: Because there's nothing to turn. I mean, you know, whether he's going to spell the beans. What if there are no beans to spill? That's what this proves, that, in fact, he want -- they wanted nothing to do with Russia. Nothing. That is a fact. And it's been totally ignored by the media, by "The Washington Post." A lot of stuff in this book like that on both sides. I also side with the FBI on some of these issues and say there are a lot of holes in the allegations about the FBI.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: But you do say in this book that you believe the Russia investigation is basically bogus and it is a very flattering portrait of Donald Trump, someone you've known for around 20 years, I gather. He was a major figure in a previous book of yours on West Palm Beach.

KESSLER: Correct. Sure. Yes, I've known him for 20 years. And, Melania, I have a lot of insights into Melania, which -- which I think are endearing because she actually has a tremendous influence. This has never come out before. She actually sits in on meetings. She expresses her opinion. She summarizes what other people have said. She comes up with new strategy. And, on the record, I quote a lot of the White House people saying her judgment is impeccable.

CAMEROTA: I've heard this as well. I've heard that they have a real relationship and that at dinner they have real exchanges and that she is a more substantial person than sometimes we see depicted on TV. So how is she coming with the women who have come forward and this Stormy Daniels story (ph)?

KESSLER: You know, I -- you know, I think she was certainly upset at one point. I do say that when they first started dating, she found out that Donald had gone back to see his previous girlfriend, Kara Young (ph), and she broke up with him. You know, she didn't care about the billions of dollars. She broke up with him. She ordered her clothes sent back from Mar-a-Lago. The butler sent them back. I quote him on the record. A week later he had wooed her back and -- so, you know, she had some -- some --

CAMEROTA: So now what?

KESSLER: Experience with this before.

No, you know, again, if you look at -- at the way they are together, and I saw them, for example, the night before New Year's Eve when I interviewed him for the book, and this is the only book -- the only interview he says he has given or will give for a book. As you say, they have a tremendous bond. They discuss everything. They're very much in love. You know, you simply can't act and cover up if -- when you see what you -- what they are like together.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And other members of his family, specifically Jared and Ivanka, don't come across in as good shape by your telling here. You say that the president has -- understands in his view that Jared and Ivanka are a problem and that he's repeatedly told the couple that they made a mistake by joining his White House.

KESSLER: Yes, and, in fact, he has hinted to them that he thinks they should go back. Not only that it would be better for them, but better for him. But, as we know, he can't fire people and he's certainly not going to fire his own family members, you know.

CAMEROTA: By tweet. That would be awkward.

KESSLER: There you go.

AVLON: That would be awkward. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, awkward.

KESSLER: Yes. Yes.

AVLON: A question for you. You've -- because you've known Trump a long time and you seem to have a close and cordial relationship with him. You said -- in 2015 you said, several years ago he told me the GOP will never win if it comes across as mean spirited towards immigrants.


AVLON: And I happen to think that's the real Donald.


AVLON: Do you still think that's the real Donald? And, if so, what happened?

KESSLER: I think it's the real Donald, but he is a politician. He bobs and weaves. He's like a prize fighter, you know, fainting and counterpunching. That's the way he works to make deals. So, you know, he will say things on different sides in order to get the result that he wants. I quote --

SCIUTTO: Well, just to be fair, on immigrants, he's been -- he hasn't been saying things on different -- he has a very consistent anti- immigrant message going in two years in the campaign.

KESSLER: Now, and -- but previously he had said something else.

You know, in the book -- in the book I quote Norma Foyer (ph), who was his top aide for 26 years. When she joined the organization, he had only seven other employees. And she said there are two Donald Trumps. One is the one you see on TV, who makes these outrageous comments to get attention for his brand and now, of course, for his presidency, and then there's the real Donald, which is quite the opposite. Anybody whose actually met with him says, wow, he's -- he listens, he's -- he pays attention. He's respectful. That is the difference. So you see this acting that goes on, but you have to actually look at the -- at the actions.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean that's what's confusing for lawmakers is that they think they have a deal. When they meet the one-on-one in-person president, they come out thinking that they have understanding and a deal and then something blows up on Twitter. I mean immigration is just the latest example.

[08:35:04] KESSLER: Yes, well, you know, in the book I say that he's going to be seen as one of the greatest presidents, just like Reagan, based on results.

CAMEROTA: And what -- based on, what? Based on which results?

KESSLER: Results. Well, the economy, stock market up, lowest unemployment, lowest black unemployment, foreign affairs, almost getting rid of ISIS, about to meet with the North Korean leader, sending missiles into Syria to show that we're not going to be messed with. On and on. On and on and on.

But, in the end, people are going to look at that. They're not going to remember the tweets. They're not going to make the -- remember the outrageous comments. And, you know, it just takes real intellectual prowess to separate in your mind what he's doing, what the results are, versus some of the very bizarre things that we see.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to imagine a future where we don't remember the outrageous comments and the tweets.

KESSLER: You're right.

CAMEROTA: OK. Ronald Kessler, the book, "The Trump White House," thanks so much for sharing part of it with us.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

KESSLER: Thank you.

AVLON: Congratulations.


CAMEROTA: All right, so market are on edge after President Trump's repeated attacks on Amazon. Will the whiplash on Wall Street continue? We have a preview, next.


[08:40:23] CAMEROTA: It's time for "CNN Money Now." We're less than an hour from the opening bell and investors have a message for President Trump, stop attacking Amazon. The president's war on Jeff Bezos is creating a sell-off on Wall Street.

CNN correspondent Alison Kosik is live at the New York Stock Exchange with more.

What are you seeing, Alison?


So I think that all the red that you see on the board, not just a message to President Trump to leave Amazon alone, but to not start a trade war with China.

Look, the sell-off that we saw yesterday has President Trump's fingers prints all over it. His actions on trade, his Twitter attacks on Amazon, that really rocking Wall Street in a big way yesterday. The Dow falling 459 points. All of the major indices in the red for the year.

His attacks on Twitter against Amazon really hitting the tech sector hard. You look at Amazon shares, they fell another 5 percent yesterday. Yesterday and throughout the past several days President Trump has been attacking Amazon, accusing Amazon of scamming the post office and of not paying sales taxes. Neither is true. Amazon pays sales tax in every state that charges one and Amazon pays the post office. In fact, you look at the post office's delivery service, it's booming. It's up 11 percent last year and even added Sunday delivery in a partnership with Amazon. It's something that the post office is calling mutually beneficial.

So what you're seeing could be a personal attack against Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns "The Washington Post," which you know, Jim, that Trump frequently criticizes.


SCIUTTO: He does indeed. Alison Kosik at the stock exchange.

KOSIK: Sure.

SCIUTTO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

At number one, a newly released classified memo details the scope of Robert Mueller's investigative mandate. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explicitly authorizing Mueller in part to investigate whether Paul Manafort colluded with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.

CAMEROTA: The president's shift back to a hard line immigration stance sending a signal to his base of a renewed crackdown. President Trump tweeted now ten times about immigration in the past 48 hours.

AVLON: A source tells CNN that EPA Chief Scott Pruitt's jot is in jeopardy. The White House looking into Pruitt's housing situation after reports he rented a room in Washington from the family of a prominent energy lobbyist.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Elizabeth Esty says she will not run for re- election in November. The Connecticut Democrat has been under fire for keeping her then chief of staff, Tony Baker, on the payroll for months. This after a former staffer alleged that Baker harassed, even threatened her.

CAMEROTA: And Jim's favorite story of the day, Villanova winning their second college basketball championship in the last three seasons. The Wildcats beat Michigan 79-62 in the national title game in San Antonio.

SCIUTTO: It is the best story of the day.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," please go to for the very latest.

CAMEROTA: That was the easiest "Five Things" I've ever done because I only did two of them.

AVLON: See, we like to -- we like to share.

CAMEROTA: That was really fantastic with you guys.

AVLON: We're here to help.

All right, Villanova's big win isn't the only big NCAA story. Norte Dame's Arike Ogunbowale wowing fans back with game winning buzzer beaters. We'll speak with her live, next.


[08:47:48] SCIUTTO: Villanova beating Michigan to become the 2018 NCAA men's college basketball champions, one of my favorite stories of the day. But it is a player from the women's championship that really has everyone talking. In the final moments of the nail biter between Notre Dame and Mississippi, check out this shot. With less than one second on the clock, Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale nailed this three-pointer from the corner, capturing the NCAA title. Believe it or not, it was a repeat of Friday night's buzzer beater by her as well over the previously undefeated Yukon when Ogunbowale made a game winning shot with a second left in overtime. It's incredible.

Arike, who was named, of course, the tournament's most outstanding player -- who else could it be -- she joins us now this morning.

Arike, thanks so much.

I've got to ask you, is the -- are you still living off the buzz of those two great moments? Literally, I mean, we researched, you're the only player in men's or women's NCAA tournament to hit two consecutive last-second buzzer beaters.

AVLON: Come on.

ARIKE OGUNBOWALE, NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL PLAYER WHO HIT GAME-WINNING SHOTS: I mean it's pretty crazy. It's been a lot of media attention. And, I mean, it's a little overwhelming. But, I know I'm really excited. I'm just blessed to be in this position.

CAMEROTA: How many times have you watched that shot on replay, on video?

OGUNBOWALE: Well, I think I get tagged in it about every second. So I've been watching it each time.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. And it never gets old. I mean I -- from where I sit, it's like you went unnecessarily high with that shot. You didn't even have to shoot it that high.

OGUNBOWALE: I know, right? I mean, I really didn't, but I felt like the ball was in the air for years and I was just -- I was like, I don't know if it's going to go in, but it felt like it took forever.

AVLON: Do you ever watch is on slow mo to extend that (INAUDIBLE).

OGUNBOWALE: Yes, I watch the slow mo. I think I've watched it in every speed, every angle.

AVLON: I love it.

SCIUTTO: It's incredible.

You know, we've been reading up on you. And I love the fact that your mom was your coach in grade school. How much of an influence was your mom and your father, who I also know was a college athlete?

OGUNBOWALE: Yes, well, they've been a great influence on me. They're super competitive, both of them. So, I mean, them just being with me every day and making me competitive. My older brothers are competitive, too. So I think being around that environment really helped me.

CAMEROTA: Well, listen, I'm around my daughters every day. They're in seventh grade. They play basketball. I don't see them making shots like that. What do I need to do?

[08:50:00] OGUNBOWALE: Soon. Soon. CAMEROTA: OK. That's good.

No, seriously, how many times have you practiced that shot to perfect it?

OGUNBOWALE: I mean just -- I wouldn't say that specific shot. But just in the gym I do a lot of crazy shots sometimes when I finish my workouts and just -- you never know when you're going to be in that position. So I think just workouts and just being able to do that off- balanced shots sometimes for run they're really going to help.

SCIUTTO: You know, I know when we were all kids, of course, we dreamed of hitting the winning shot and you kind of play that out in your mind. Of course, I never got the chance to actually hit a winning shot. I did dream about it. Did you -- did you, when you were a kid, do you just kind of kick back and throw up a shot from the corner and imagine yourself winning the NCAA championship?

OGUNBOWALE: Yes, I mean, definitely just always dreamed of this position, but I never thought it would happen once, but twice. Like, this is just unreal. And it's just -- it's amazing. I can't even really wrap my head around it.

AVLON: Living your dream. It doesn't get much better than that.

So you're a junior right now. You're studying business. Are you giving thoughts into what's next, WNBA, or going into business, or some other field?

OGUNBOWALE: I haven't really thought about it much. Like you said, I still have one year left. So I think once the time goes down, I'm going to start to think about my decisions.

CAMEROTA: Now, are you strutting around campus like, you know, just sort of big woman on campus, getting lots of kudos, like not going to class? Is that -- because that's what I'd be doing. So what's your -- what's your (INAUDIBLE)?

OGUNBOWALE: Well, we had off yesterday. But today will be my first day of class. But, I mean, I'm just going to be a normal, regular student.

CAMEROTA: Now, that's a mistake. That -- you can lord it over everyone.

SCIUTTO: We hear that celebrities are tweeting. You're a favorite now. And who wouldn't -- who wouldn't want to in light of what you did. And I love that your name, Nigerian, it means something that you see and cherish. You know, I'm -- just such a great one and I bet your parents are thinking even more now they named you the right thing.

OGUNBOWALE: Yes, I mean, they're super proud of me and just -- I don't know, they -- they are just really excited for me.

CAMEROTA: What celebrities are you hearing from?

OGUNBOWALE: I mean I heard from Kobe after the Friday game and on Sunday. And J.J. Watt tweeted about me. Dwyane Wade. Gabrielle Union. Demarda Rosa (ph). And so a lot of famous people.

AVLON: That's high praise. You've got D. Wade and Kobe. That's, you know.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And I guess it's great getting (INAUDIBLE) because too often the women's tournament doesn't get the attention the men's tournament does this time of year.


SCIUTTO: But, man, I mean, if -- if two consecutive buzzer beaters by the same player, yourself, doesn't do it, I don't know what will. It's just -- it's just a great achievement.

OGUNBOWALE: I mean, definitely. And even the semifinal game with Louisville and Mississippi State, there was a buzzer beater going into overtime. So it was just three great games of basketball. And I think it was great for the women's basketball.

CAMEROTA: Jim was saying that if this had happened in a men's game, that man would be nominated for president.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's --

CAMEROTA: I mean --

OGUNBOWALE: Probably, which is sad, but --

CAMEROTA: You know? Right. So what's your message to young girls?

OGUNBOWALE: Just that, I mean, keep doing what you're doing. I think women's basketball is going to come up there with equality with men's basketball. And that it's just a great sport, super competitive, and it's real basketball on the women's side.

SCIUTTO: Well, I'll tell you, we've been studying how to pronounce your name right, but I think America is going to learn your name and have it on their lips for some time. I mean just incredible achievement. We're proud of you. And thanks so much for taking the time with us.

OGUNBOWALE: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Keep it up. Great to talk to you.

SCIUTTO: There's more "Good Stuff." That's coming up next.


[08:57:14] SCIUTTO: It is time now for "The Good Stuff." And wait for this. You're about to meet a teenager who isn't letting anything get in the way of his dreams. Have a look at this. This is Luke Terry. He's a catcher for his middle school's baseball team in Tennessee. First glance, appears like Luke is doing a little trick, catching and throwing with the same hand. But, in reality, he has only one arm. Luke had his right arm amputated when he was a baby due to an infection. It's not stopping him at all. Watch him there. Last summer Luke even threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game. This new video of Luke is going viral now, inspiring people all over again.

I've got to tell you, it's incredible. My son play's little league. He plays catcher. He -- catcher is a hard position to play.

AVLON: It sure is.

SCIUTTO: This guy makes it -- makes it look easy. It's a tremendous story.

CAMEROTA: That is inspiring.

AVLON: It's beautiful because it's about -- you know, it's baseball season again, and that always means spring is here, it's time for renewal and that means hope. And it's just such a beautiful example.

It reminds me also about a Major League pitcher named Jim Abbott --


AVLON: Who had one hand, who pitched a no-hitter. He was a Yankee. And so it's an example of how these sort of examples carry forward and inspire new generations.

CAMEROTA: Right. And obviously overcoming, you know, any challenge that you have.

OK, we have some more "Good Stuff," actually.


CAMEROTA: Congratulations to one Jim Sciutto. He was honored by the White House Correspondents Association with the Merriman Smith Award. Our Jake Tapper, Evan Perez and contributor Carl Bernstein also share in the award for their reporting about the intelligence community, briefing then President Obama and President-elect Trump about allegations that Russia had compromising information on Trump. The White House Correspondents Association says thanks to this investigation, the dossier is now part of the lexicon.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, thanks very much. As you noted there, I worked with a great team on this, Jake and Evan and Carl Bernstein. And, you know, we work really hard, you know, and we worked really hard to get the facts right. And this was a story -- and I always tell people, I've never been involved with a story where there's been greater teamwork, greater attention. And so I'm proud to be part of the team.

CAMEROTA: That's so great. People talk to me all the time about the need for good journalism right now. And you guys exemplify that. And it's in challenging times when journalists are not always the most popular.

SCIUTTO: You might have heard of some people throwing some rocks in our direction. Even some this morning. But, you know, it's -- you just keep at it. AVLON: You keep at it.


CAMEROTA: Well, great to work with you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here.

And you, as well, John Avlon.

AVLON: You. Yes, sort of. Kind of.

CAMEROTA: You guys made it super easy.

AVLON: It's a blast.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you guys here. Thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Enjoyed it.

CAMEROTA: All right, time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Erica Hill.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in today for John and Poppy.

We are an hour away now from a very big first in the Mueller investigation. The first sentencing of a defendant who flipped. We'll go live to the D.C. federal courthouse in just a moment.

[09:00:05] But first, a bombshell from the special counsel himself.