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What Trump Has Said About The Fifth Amendment; Arizona Teachers Walk Out For Pay & Funding Raises; LeBron Hits Game Winner Against Pacers. Aired 7:30-8 a ET

Aired April 26, 2018 - 7:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:40] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal attorney says he's going to assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the Stormy Daniels civil case. This comes as sources tells CNN the president's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has met with Robert Mueller to explore the possibility of Mr. Trump doing an interview with Mueller's investigators. And, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, talking about executive privilege and the president's pardon ability. So there's a lot to cover.

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutors, Michael Zeldin and Laura Coates. So -- Michael also served as Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ, full disclosure there.

So, this is actually kind of complex as a legal tactic. You could say it's a no-brainer, you got an open criminal investigation plead the Fifth in the civil case, it'll hold it in advance, it'll keep it quiet. But, it's a little tricky legally because in the civil case, pleading the Fifth can have with the jury a negative inference. But that's really about legal tactics. The main optical problem here for Michael Cohen, I'll start with you, Laura Coates, is what his boss says that pleading the Fifth means. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have you seen what's going on in front of Congress? Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, horrible. Horrible. The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth, so they're not prosecuted, I think it's disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Did you think it was disgraceful when he pled the Fifth in 1990 to avoid a deposition? All right, but that's about hypocrisy. Let's deal with the optics. Laura Coates, pleading the Fifth, bad, bad, means you did something. What's the rebuttal?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the rebuttal is that you have every right to assert that particular privilege particularly if you are exposed to both criminal and civil liability. And you're right, Chris, it really is a tactic. It's a way of saying, listen, your honor, there may be overlaps here and the testimony I gave in one will impact the testimony that I can give in another. Or, will expose me to a greater legal jeopardy.

And if that's the case, I would like to have the opportunity to prioritize the one with the lock me up in jail as opposed to the one that could give me a monetary penalty of some sort. And the courts are usually helpful in doing that.

The difference here, though, Chris, is that this judge in California is trying to assess whether or not a negative inference can be drawn from his failure to try to answer any questions about the non- disclosure agreement. And that may lead the judge to draw a negative inference that may ultimately help with Stormy Daniels' case and hurt his claim at the NDA should stand --

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: -- and be liable.

CUOMO: Right, I mean, look, Michael, a little bit of this -- Laura, perfect analysis, thank you very much. I had to read up on it last night. You know all this instinctively. It's a little in the weeds for people in terms of what this means. And the civil case has its own problems. Michael Avenatti is very compelling on television perhaps, but that doesn't mean he's going to be as compelling with his case in court.

But, for the southern district and their criminal probe, him pleading the Fifth in the civil court means nothing.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. It means nothing at all and I don't think there was any expectation that in New York, they thought that Cohen would testify or otherwise find evidence for them. Their case is a criminal case where Cohen is a target of that investigation, the fight there is about attorney-client privilege and the review of the documents seized from his law office and that will be primary among the decisions that Judge Wood has to make in that case. That's what's of concern to the southern district, not the Stormy Daniels' civil Fifth Amendment.

CUOMO: All right, let me ping pong on some other issues of both you. Michael, let me stay with you. Rudy Giuliani worked with Bob Mueller back in the day, highly respectable. Will walk in there, will talk to him and say, hey, what's this really about and there is no proof of collusion, let's end it. Mueller will be impressed because he respects Rudy Giuliani. Is that the proper analysis?

ZELDIN: I don't think so. I think that Rudy Giuliani and Mueller go back to the 9/11 days. It's been a long time since then. They may have neutral respect for one another but Mueller has more respect for the process that he's undertaking, which is to determine whether or not there was criminal activity that falls within his mandate and Rudy Giuliani is not going to change Mueller from that pursuit. [07:35:03] And so he may come into Mueller and say, what's this all

about and Mueller may give him an answer to it or not, but in the end, Mueller's going to do what the facts of the evidence require of him irrespective of his relationship with Rudy Giuliani and it's fanciful to think otherwise.

CUOMO: Laura, can it end if the president doesn't sit down and talk to Mueller and/or his investigators?

COATES: That'd be the beginning. Of course, think about it, if he -- he has an interest. Just like Mueller, they both have an interest in having a voluntary sit down. If you're Trump, you want to have a voluntary sit down, if you're going to have one at all, because you can have your lawyer present unlike if you're in the grand jury, you can all set the parameters for the questioning.

If you're Mueller, you want him to sit down voluntarily because otherwise, he would be in the unprecedented position of trying to compel the -- through a subpoena or if he plows (ph) it to actually have him held in contempt. That's never been done before, Chris, of a sitting president. It's either (ph) asked to be held in contempt if he ignores the subpoena or otherwise. So both parties are trying to come together, but ultimately, Mueller has the upper hand because he has the grand jury subpoena power, assuming the president will respect it.

CUOMO: Percentage chance, Laura, that this probe will end without the president being interviewed?

COATES: I'm going to say 5% to 10%. He has to be interviewed. He is the person who's mens rea is the most important here and he is the person, if he's not a target of the investigation, could actually tell the authorities, tell the investigators whether anyone of his team, anyone in his orbit was involved in some way. He may be the missing (INAUDIBLE) you can't do without.

CUOMO: Mens rea, a Latin that means the mental component, what the mindset was, that's what Laura's talking about. All right, let's play some sound from Jeff Sessions about the pardon power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President or anyone in the administration discussed with you the possibility of President Trump pardoning Michael Cohen.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not able to reveal the contents of any communications I might have with the president of United States or his top staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Legit answer from Jeff Sessions on that point, Michael Zeldin.

ZELDIN: No, it's the false assertion of executive privilege. We've seen Attorney General Sessions do that time and again in his congressional testimony. It's for the president to assert that privilege and that privilege relates to the deliberative process of senior executives and the president in policymaking. This does not, you know, implicate that in any way, shape or form. But that's been Sessions' refrain and Congress has not required him to answer the question beyond that. And so it is what it is and we have to just move forward from that.

CUOMO: Well, Laura, we got to wrap it up here, but I don't have to be as smart as you to know that he could have just said, no, we've never discussed it and he didn't say that.

Laura Coates, Michael Zeldin, thank you so much. One of the benefits of the gig --

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- is talking to people as smart as you two. Alisyn.

COATES: Thanks, Chris.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Now, but this story, teachers in Arizona are working multiple jobs to make ends meet. So what they hope to accomplish when they've walked out of class today, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:08] CAMEROTA: Arizona teachers joining a wave of walk out across the country. More than a hundred school districts in the state are cancelling classes today as teachers lobby for raises and for better school funding.

CNN's Bill Weir talked to teachers who will be walking out. He is live in Phoenix with more. Bill, what have you learned?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn. What we here is the recipe we've seen sort of playing out across the country at, say, 50,000 or so teachers put them in classrooms that are woefully broken and underfunded under pay them for 10 years or so. You combine that with a legislature, that's allergic to any sort of tax hikes.

You put those two things together, let it simmer on Facebook, and what you have is the first walk out in Arizona history today. I've talked to a lot of teachers filled with conflicted, righteous indignation but they're fired up. And they're ready to send a message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CINDI MORTON, TEACHER: Start talking about what your outline looks like for your research paper. So --

WEIR (voice-over): During the day, Cindi Morton is an Arizona teacher.

MORTON: There it is, and you saved it yesterday. WEIR: And then, she is a private tutor. On weekends, she's a

caretaker of emotionally disabled kids. And four nights a week, she turns her car into a taxi.

WEIR (on camera): Do those kids have any idea you're driving a Lyft after school?

MORTON: Yes, they do, actually.

WEIR: Do they?

MORTON: Yes, somebody will say, oh, I want to go to Ms. Morton's and work on this. And they'll be, oh no, no, no, she got to go to work today.

ELIZABETH MILICH, TEACHER: So come on in.

WEIR: All right. One teacher with four jobs is hardly unusual in the state.

MILICH: My oldest is a nanny. She literally makes more money than I do.

WEIR: Is that right?

MILICH: Yes, because she works for a great family who pays her very well.

WEIR: How old is she?

MILICH: 19.

WEIR: Elizabeth Milich takes home $320 a week, and out of that, must outfit her entire classroom.

MILICH: And then I just bought the carpets and the chair and the chair cover. These books are not from the district. Those are like my personal books from my own kids, bought books.

WEIR: Her tales of BYO books and a shot of her tiny pay stub went viral on Facebook and have since been followed by hundreds of snapshots of vermin-filled classrooms and tattered textbooks, improvised air conditioners, and a globe with two Germanys.

But of course, Arizona is not alone. The season of revolt started in West Virginia where nine-day strike brought a 5% raise. And then spread to Oklahoma, where teachers forced a rare tax hike to fund a $6,000 bump. But not enough to provide new chairs. So Donna Ross improvises with buckets from Lowe's.

DONNA ROSS, TEACHER: And they sit like that and they're ready to rock and roll. That's what I do with my money.

WEIR: In Kentucky, a one-day walkout brought stiff resistance from lawmakers and the harshest of guilt trips from Governor Matt Bevin. [07:45:02] GOV. MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY: How many hundreds of

thousands of children today were left home alone? I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.

WEIR (on camera): The Kentucky governor was forced to apologize for that implication. And since guilt doesn't seem to be stopping this rolling red-state revolt, some are trying threats. The Arizona superintendent said this week that teachers are breaking the law by walking out and could lose their certificates forever. But since Arizona has thousands of unfilled vacancies, most of these folks are ready to call that bluff.

(voice-over): Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey says he wants to give some teachers a 20% raise over three years, but the legislature can't agree how to pay for it.

MILICH: As a conservative Republican, I was actually kind of hopeful. But then, you start kind of thinking, wait a second. So, everything that has been said from the government actually isn't really true.

WEIR: So you don't trust them, bottom line?

MILICH: Correct.

WEIR: But since her pay stub went viral, she's be getting gift cards and donated supplies from strangers around the world.

MILICH: Bless her heart. "Dear Mrs. Milich, with the most important job in the world, you shouldn't have to use your own funds for school supplies. Hope this helps defray those expenses." And then it's from the American school in London, a sixth grader.

WEIR: A sixth grader.

MILICH: Is that -- I mean, I like -- seriously, like my eyes just welled up with tears and I was like, that is the most precious thing.

MORTON: Why would you not want to provide our kids with the best possible education? We do our best here. I need my leaders, I need my government to do the same. I need them to bring it every day, every single day, because I do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEIR: Obviously, teachers don't go into it for the money and so many are indeed loved with their children and legislators know that and it is often sort of used as a lever in the sort of negotiations, Chris. But next stop, Colorado, where teachers there today will voice their displeasure with the status quo. Who knows how long this one will last or what the results will be.

CUOMO: That's good, Bill, that you are reminding people that this isn't new and it's not narrow. And for all the talk about technology and what we need in our classrooms, the teacher is the most valuable tool. So the problem has been around for a long time, who's going to start doing something about it? Bill, this was the right way to tell the story, so important right now.

Thank you, my friend. Good to see you.

All right, punny (ph) of April showers. May flowers, I don't know, we're going to have to see. But in the Northeast, do we have some dry weather coming? CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast, a horrible start to the fishing seas and weather wise. You promised that you would do better, you lied again.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I did. I did, but you get sunshine today. I know it's hard to book a trip, you know, one day in advance but that's what you have. More rain coming in tomorrow. The rain is finally moving out of Boston right now and it will move away, you'll get sunshine today. But another storm system for the New York City area for tomorrow, it's down here in Atlanta for today, also into Knoxville as well.

Let's move you ahead to 1:00, it'll be raining in Atlanta if you're flying through Atlanta, it could be slow. If you're driving through West Virginia, or even North Carolina later on today, very heavy rainfall coming in. That rain does get to New York for tomorrow afternoon and into the rest of the week, it gets better because only one more front, and that's a cool front.

Yes, it will cool you down because today, New York could get in all the way to 67, D.C., 71. Cool down into the 60s, but at least it dries out. Maybe Chris would be happy with this forecast, I'm not sure. 81 on Wednesday, will the fish bite or does he use the wrong bait?

CAMEROTA: Interesting. Are you happy with that one? Is that OK (ph)?

CUOMO: Yes, no, because he happens to be right. The problem is my own.

CAMEROTA: The problem is yours, all right. Well done, Chad.

OK. So meanwhile, LeBron James falling up two amazing piece in the last five seconds of the game, leading the Cavs to a win. The highlights in the Bleacher Report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:53:06] CAMEROTA: OK, another big game for the Cleveland Cavaliers and another big moment in the epic career of LeBron James. Lindsay Czarniak has more in the Bleacher Report. Hi, Lindsay.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn. It was so good last night that you could feel the adrenaline pouring off him as LeBron celebrated with his team on the court. This is the kind of LeBron performance that makes the opposing team say, uh-oh. This was a huge moment of shift (ph) for Cleveland, this Bleacher Report brought to you by Ford going further, so you can.

Let's take you right to that game under 10 seconds to go tied at 95, Victor Oladipo has the ball. He drives there but watch LeBron James, the monster block, the Pacers said it was goal pending (ph) but no call. So, we take you to three seconds left in this game, this is the moment LeBron talked about. He said he rehearse this as a little kid, he calls it the three-two-one moment, where you know that that shot is going to go in even before it leaves your hand.

The crowd went wild. And after that, you can see LeBron, look at him, he's so excited, he can't control and he's embracing people from his team. There, he runs up on the floor's table. Look at those fans, he is truly their person last night, right? LeBron talked before, he talked after this moment about what it was like in that huddle.

LEBRON JAMES: Just give me the ball. Give me the ball. It's like deja vu from the regular-season game we have versus Minnesota, where I got a block on the other end and then the game-winner buzz (ph). That team never stops, that team never stops and it's going to be even tougher on Friday.

CZARNIAK: So LeBron, I mean, he's not just the best player in the league, he truly is one of the best motivators. And when he showed his guys how it's done with his play, it can turn a series on its head. So the Cavaliers will now have an opportunity to close out this series Friday, but if they're going to do it, Chris, they're going to have to do it in Indiana. So a tough task ahead but, man, what a night to remember.

CUOMO: Right, and by they, you mean him because he is a carrying a Mid Drop 44 (ph) back in the day, we used to call that a Reggie Jackson or a Robert Newhouse.

[07:55:05] CZARNIAK: I would say so.

CUOMO: Lindsay, thank you very much.

CZARNIAK: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

All right, we do have breaking news, the White House has just announced that President Trump's embattled pick to be the next V.A. secretary, Dr. Ronny Jackson, is withdrawing from consideration. This comes after days of disturbing allegations about professional misconduct that forces senators to postpone his confirmation hearing.

Let's get right to CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House. This is not a shocker. What do we know about the calculation?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not a shock at all, in many ways, it's very much expected. The White House said last night that it was Ronny Jackson's decision and he made it this morning saying in a statement that he would withdraw from consideration to be the V.A. secretary. He vehemently denies the allegations against him, as you mentioned, several sources have come forward both to reporters and to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee alleging that he misused his position to prescribe medications loosely, was intoxicated on the job on several occasions. But Jackson says none of those things are true and then he adds that,

unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for the president and the important work we must be addressing, how we give the best care to our nation's heroes.

Now, this is just another roadblock for this White House that has really struggled to get their cabinet nominees confirmed. They've also had a lot of issues with ethics in the president's cabinet and Republicans are growing frustrated that this is one in a bigger pattern of this White House not vetting nominees before they come to the Senate for confirmation. But this morning, the president is going to be speaking just shortly in an interview on Fox News. And Jackson is out, they will now have to find someone else to fill that critical V.A. position, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Abby, listen, we're just getting the statement from Ronny Jackson. I just want to read a portion of it.

"Going into this process", he says, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity. The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated." So, why is he dropping out?

PHILLIP: Well, clearly, he's right about one thing, it is a huge distraction for this White House. But beyond that, Alisyn, we should also point out there were questions about Jackson's qualifications to run this massive federal bureaucracy more than 300,000 employees, having no real experience in government. He is a doctor. He is an officer in the military, but a lot of Republicans and Democrats were concern that he simply was not qualified.

So, that would have been one hurdle to overcome. A second hurdle with all of these allegations being brought forward by, in some cases, almost two dozen sources according to the Democrats on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, it would have been very difficult for him to be confirmed to this position, especially considering that Republicans have a very narrow majority in the Senate. They could not afford to lose anyone virtually. It is also virtually unprecedented for a V.A. nominee to not get overwhelming support and Jackson, at the very least, was looking at a very, very, difficult uphill battle for confirmation.

CUOMO: All right, Abby, let's bring in John Avlon here. It's also unprecedented to put somebody like Ronny Jackson up for the V.A. job. This is a job that is very intense, it has been a failure for so many with a very good credentials. That was the problem for Ronny Jackson coming into this, is that it was about the president liking him. His performance in a press conference, where he came up with that magical number about the president's weight and overall fitness.

CAMEROTA: And longevity.

CUOMO: And longevity, could live to be, what, 200.

CAMEROTA: 200, yes.

CUOMO: Right, right, which is better. Trump said a little low. But a good start. But that was his problem, he's never done anything like this. The personal things were piled on top of that.

JOHN AVLON CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. This ultimately is a problem of Donald Trump's own making because it was an impulsive decision based on whether you personally like Ronny Jackson. And part of the tragedy in the radius of damage, I think, is that Dr. Jackson had been someone who was praised by presidents in both parties. He both worked for them.

But by nominating somebody who did not have the relevant experience, who had not been properly vetted, somebody who, when you floated it in conversations of the White House, the press -- the people thought the president was joking. He set up Ronny Jackson to fail. And these allegations that came out, all anonymous but a high number of them, 23 individuals allegedly speaking out against him, that just created a completely untenable situation politically. But the fundamental flow was the nomination and the lack of experience to do the job, a difficult job that is running the V.A.

CAMEROTA: So David Gregory, the president really likes Ronny Jackson as did President Obama. Can he stay on as the White House physician now?

DAVID GREGORY CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I don't know what all the tension will be on that. I mean, the president could say, yes, I like him, I want him. And I don't know if there'll be pushback from the military on that given this.

[08:00:08] I simply don't know and wouldn't speculate on this. I think it's going to be difficult given these allegations, I think.