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Trump Tower Doorman Story; Fight at Fenway; Stanley Cup Fight; Pompeo Confirmation Hearings; Military Force for Syria; Food as Fuel. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 12, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:37] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new information this morning. Another bombshell by "The New Yorker" that suggests a potential pattern of payoffs to bury unflattering stories about Donald Trump in order to protect him during the 2016 campaign. Once again, it involves "The National Enquirer" allegedly paying someone off, in this case 30 grand, to catch and kill a salacious story from a former Trump Tower doorman. "The New Yorker's" Ronan Farrow is once again on the case and joins us.

Always good to see you.


CUOMO: Thank you for being here.


CUOMO: So, what does the reporting suggest?

FARROW: So the reporting suggests that there was this salacious rumor of an affair, potentially a child born out of the affair, largely baseless. We didn't uncover any evidence that this was real.

However, what we did uncover, very firmly, was source after source within AMI saying, they paid this money --

CUOMO: AMI the parent company of "The National Enquirer."

FARROW: The parent company of "The National Enquirer." They then added a liquidated damages clause to this deal with this individual who had the individual from supposedly within the company saying he would have to pay $1 million if he ever breathed a word of this and then they killed the story. And, you know, we heard over and over again that was a direct order coming down from David Pecker, the head of this company, who has publically professed an allegiance to Trump.

And this is significant, every legal expert told us, because it establishes a pattern now. This is potentially the third elicit payment during the election cycle, Stormy Daniels, which was a direct deal with that woman to silence the story that she had, and then Karen McDougal's story, which she first talked to us as well and another example of through this same company that owns "The National Enquirer," a story being caught and killed.

CUOMO: Sources suggest to you that this is somehow part of the matrix of interest in this current warrant that we saw executed on the president's attorney?

FARROW: So we know "The New York Times" and other publications have reported that one of the points of interest of the FBI raids this week was indeed communications related to these kinds of shutdown stories and the relationship between AMI and the president. And certainly, you know, what the sources told us over and over again and the documents we had suggested was that this was part of a pattern of that close allegiance between the president and this organization.

CUOMO: Any Trump lawyer fingerprints on what you're looking at now?

FARROW: We do report that Michael Cohen, according to multiple individuals involved in this story, was making regular calls.

[08:35:05] Now we should say, you know, we reached out to Michael Cohen. He hung up on us a couple of times. And, you know, we do not get a response from him. He did talk to some other reporters circling the story and, you know, confirmed that there was some communication about this.

CUOMO: The pocket becomes relevant, right? It gets tricky when it's AMI. Catch and kill, by the way, is they go out, they buy the story and then they squash it, and then you have to determine why they did that. That's harder than just showing what the president's lawyer may have done, right, because you have an obvious affinity there.

So with David Pecker, the head of AMI, you would have to show that not only did he do this to kill it, but he did it to kill it to help the president during the campaign, and that would really be an in-kind contribution.

FARROW: Right. So from an election law standpoint, these are all very difficult things to establish. You know, even if this was all to benefit the president, hypothetically speaking, but Michael Cohen was doing it to benefit the president's personal life, that would be a potential out from any election law violations.

You know, there are also exemptions to these election law standards for media companies doing legitimate journalistic work. But the legal experts we talked to pointed out, if it can be established that this was a pattern in which AMI and "The National Enquirer" were not acting journalistically, they were purely intending to kill these stories on behalf of the president, those exemptions might not apply.

CUOMO: Not easy. A side question. You are becoming a known commodity in this business. You have a book on foreign policy coming out later this month. Where does your interest lie in this line of stories? Because you know this narrative gets beat up, right? People will say, who voted for the president, I didn't vote for a priest, Ronan Farrow, and this is all in the past and what he does in his own personal life, that's stuff that doesn't matter to me. I care about my taxes. Where is your interest journalistically? FARROW: So I think one thing that I've very clearly established in

this body of reporting is, its very non-partisan. Harvey Weinstein, I broke that story.

CUOMO: Sure.

FARROW: And along with a group of other brave reporters who spent a long time banging their heads against the wall. That was a, you know, a major Democratic force to be reckoned with. He was a big donor. A big Hillary Clinton supporter. And, actually, what we see in what's being exposed about this pattern of payments allegedly on behalf of the president is the same actors involved, Dillon Howard, "The National Enquirer." These were all individuals also working to suppress stories on behalf of Harvey Weinstein.

We also report in this story that Lanny Davis, a Democratic operative, who had been a close Clinton confidant, and Boies Schiller another firm, you know, run by a prominent Democratic lawyer, were involved in AMI's and "The National Enquirer's" effort to shut down this story that we're reporting on today.

So what this is about is systems, Chris. This is about the most powerful people in the country having the ability to silence and change the news narrative at will. And I think that the public should know that. And, look, I'll defer to the election law experts. They say that this is worth scrutinizing.

CUOMO: Well, we look forward to seeing where it takes you.

Ronan Farrow, thank you very much.

FARROW: Always a pleasure. Thank you.

CUOMO: And as we were talking about before, when the book comes out on foreign policy and your theories about how the military is shaping too much policy, you've got to sit right here.

FARROW: "War On Peace." It's out April 24th. You can preorder it right now.

CUOMO: Great. I will. Although I'd rather a free copy. No, you're welcome any time.

FARROW: You get a free one, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you. Thank you.



All right, meanwhile, there's bad blood boiling over at last night's Yankees/Red Sox game. The benches clearing twice. We'll tell you what caused this brawl, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:42:05] CAMEROTA: Bad blood on the field in baseball's most heated rivalry. The Yankees and the Red Sox renewing their hatred in a bench- clearing brawl.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What happened, Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, boys being boys. You're grounded, kids.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

After the Red Sox clobbered the Yankees 14-1 on Tuesday at Fenway, New York swung back last night, literally. Boston's Joe Kelly drilling Yankees Tyler Austin -- Austin Tyler, rather -- 98-mile-per-hour fast ball. That will make you heated.

Check this out. This rivalry dating back nearly 120 years. Has the gas poured on it. Benches clear. Bull pens clear. Three players ejected. Yankees win in the end, 10-7.

To Las Vegas, baby. In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights making their Stanley Cups debut with a pregame performance fit for a show on the Vegas Strip. Knights fighting with swords and shields. A glowing performance by a glowing drum line creating this epic atmosphere for the Knights, who continue their historic run with a 1-0 win.

In Pittsburgh against the Flyers, Sid the Kid Crosby and the Penguins were the best thing on ice since my bourbon last night. Crosby with this highlight reel deflection. Look at this. One of his three goals on the night. Pittsburgh seeking a third straight Stanley Cup. Victory looking like the defending champs. A 7-0 win.

That's good stuff, Cuomo.

CUOMO: That is good stuff. You don't drink. You're body beautiful. Don't try to play like that. You were drinking a protein shake at 1:00. You didn't even have --

WIRE: Still just trying to grow some hair on my chest, man, anywhere.

CUOMO: I'll talk to you later, handsome.

WIRE: All right.

CUOMO: All right, things could get testy at Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing today. Is he going to become the next secretary of state or not? We'll give you "The Bottom Line," next.


[08:47:56] CUOMO: Mike Pompeo's going to be in the hot seat soon. The president's pick for secretary of state is going to face a Senate confirmation hearing this morning. He is going to need at least one Democrat to support his nomination. Will Pompeo be confirmed?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

Yes or no?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure. Yes. I'll go with the prediction he'll get confirmed.

CAMEROTA: Which Democrat is going to break from the pack?

CHALIAN: Well, as you know, although it hasn't happened in 40 years, you can still get a nomination to the floor without getting it through a formal committee vote. But, you're right, the more likely path here is that some Democrats will come on board.

We know there have already been some Democrats who have stated, hey, I did vote to confirm him from CIA director. I learned some things during that time. I'm not going to vote for him for secretary of state. That poses a problem.

But, guys, it's an election year and a lot of these red state Democrats that are up for re-election are feeling potential pressure points, even in a really big Democratic year, to not just knee jerk reject the president's appointees because it's the president. So you can see the Republicans making some attempts to try to pressure those red state Democrats to get on board.

CUOMO: So, yes, and look at the red state Democrats. That's where it will likely come from.

CAMEROTA: That's good.

CUOMO: All right, good so far.

What is the chance that --

CAMEROTA: You get an A so far.

CUOMO: What is the chance that the president says, hey, we're going to bomb, or doesn't say anything but alerts the leadership in Congress, hey, we're going to bomb and that they say, no, no, no, you have to come to us, present a plan, we're going to have to debate it and we're going to have to vote because that's what the law and Constitution demands. We've punted for too long, Mr. President.

CHALIAN: Well, some members of Congress will absolutely say that. We know that without a doubt, Chris. We've seen the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, take a leadership role in this fight. We've also heard from some Republicans that have concerns about getting an authorization to use military force here and that trying to use the one dating back to 9/11 is not necessarily the right way to go here.

[08:49:59] Do I think overall majorities in Congress are going to stop the president from doing that? No. We didn't see that a year ago when he launched surgical strikes. I don't think the political calculus has changed in any way to -- that they would sort of -- all of a sudden the Republican majorities would try to prevent him from doing so now.

CAMEROTA: The president sent out tweets yesterday that sounded as though incoming missiles were imminent in terms of Syria. Then today he backed off saying, no, no, no, I never said when anything was going to happen. Do we have any sense from the White House of any sort of timeframe or what the president is thinking?

CHALIAN: No, and by design, right, though -- except for the president's tweet that he's already cleaning up, as you noted, he didn't just slightly back off this. I mean he ran away and chose an entirely different tact because he'd gotten a bit of brush back, don't you think, of criticism that he was doing exactly what he criticized President Obama for doing. That he -- he doesn't telegraph his moves. And that's where Sarah Sanders yesterday at the briefing wanted to reposition the White House and the president himself coming to that effort this morning.

But he was already out there telegraphing -- I mean other than saying, hey, it's going to happen Sundays at 10:00 Eastern, just when Jim Comey's interview is beginning to role, other than saying something like that, he telegraphed what his actions were. And now this morning he said well maybe or maybe not.

Yet, at the same time, I will note, you do start seeing some international partners coming around to who's responsible for this, action does need to be taken. So I don't think a military strike at all has been taken off the table, but clearly the political blowback that the president got he wants to clean up a little bit.

CUOMO: Doesn't everything that you're saying right now militate in favor even more so of having Congress step up and assert its lawful authority here?

CHALIAN: I mean there has been a decade long debate about this now, about Congress stepping up to its responsibilities to actually authorize --

CUOMO: Although it's never been officially debated, right? It never gets on the floor. It's always (INAUDIBLE) on television shows and then nothing happens.

CHALIAN: Well, sorry, not debated with an actual piece of legislation. Yes. Yes.

And that's why I'm very skeptical, Chris, that things have changed. I don't anticipate that there's some groundswell for this to happen. You will hear the debate over the television air waves again, no doubt. And it's a worthy debate that the country, I hope, is tuned in to and listens to.

This -- Congress is, of course, the peoples' representatives and they absolutely have a role to play here, as I read it. But, nonetheless, from a political point of view, I just don't see the pressure point that the president is going to feel that he actually has to follow through with going to Congress first. CAMEROTA: You brought up James Comey's interview this Sunday and, as

we've heard, the RNC is also preparing a media blitz to kind of, you know, denigrate him, I suppose. So are we about to start seeing those commercials and all of that?

CHALIAN: It certainly sounds that way. I mean Jeff Zeleny's reporting this morning that the RNC is sort of setting up a war room, a website that says lying Comey to use the president's terminology and nickname -- his pension for nicknames. So there does seem to be an all-out effort to make sure to try to do sort of character assassination of Jim Comey so that his credibility is called into question, just at the time he is trying to put forth a case and explain what he put in this book about everything he experienced with his time with President Trump.

CUOMO: Brother Chalian, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Chris.

CAMEROTA: An A for the whole thing.

CHALIAN: Well, thank you, Alisyn. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Very good.

CUOMO: We have "The Good Stuff" coming up.

CAMEROTA: But first, your morning coffee may do more than give you a buzz, it may actually be good for you. Nutritionist Lisa Drayer has more in "Food as Fuel."

CUOMO: Did you just admit you put --


LISA DRAYER, CNN NUTRITIONIST: Research suggests caffeine can offer a range of possible health benefits. They include improved memory, enhanced athletic performance, liver health benefits and possible protection against Parkinson's disease.

Coffee in particular, that is regular as well as decaf, may actually help you live longer. One study found four cups daily may reduce the risk of early death. Coffee has also been shown to lower the risks of diseases, such as type two diabetes, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's and skin cancer.

Of course, preparation matters. If you like your cup with milk, chose low fat over cream and avoid sugar. Everyone's tolerance varies, but in general, healthy adults can safely consumer up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. That's about four eight ounce cups of coffee. However, expectant moms and those with heart conditions might wish to forego their cup of joe.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:58:43] CUOMO: All right, "Good Stuff."

A California man making it his life's mission to honor World War II veterans. Twenty-year-old Riche Sharma (ph), he's traveling around the world to film some of our nation's heroes. Why? Take a listen.


RICHE SHARMA: To talk to a real life super hero who went through the literal definition of hell, I could just call them and that's what hooked me.


CUOMO: Riche's interviewed more than 870 World War II vets. He hopes that his work will live on forever.


SHARMA: The great, great, great grandkids of these heroes will not only get to know what their great, great, great grandfather's name was, but they'll also get to know what kind of a person he was, how he lived his life, the sacrifices he made.


CUOMO: Look at that.

CAMEROTA: Gosh, that's so valuable because, you know, look, when those heroes are gone, they're gone. And so we need to memorialize them on video.

CUOMO: That's the whole gone but not forgotten. And what a beautiful initiative for a young person to take, showing respect for the greatest generation. Well done "Good Stuff."

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile to the news, Secretary of State-nominee Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing begins in about an hour. So, until then, here's CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman.

[09:00:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

A huge day of news and we are chasing it all.