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Russian Lawyer Now Says She Worked With Vladimir Putin's Kremlin; President Trump Is Calling For The Resignation Of Democratic Senator Jon Tester; Leaders Of North And South Korea Signed A Big Declaration; A Federal Judge Has Halted The Porn Star's Lawsuit Against President Trump's Personal Attorney For 90 Days; President Trump Skipping White House Correspondents' Dinner Two Years In A Row. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 28, 2018 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. You made it to the weekend. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with me.

President Trump today is determined to swap one Washington for another. He is about to depart the nation's capital headed for his reelection rally tonight in Washington Township, Michigan. All of this ahead of another bombshell admission from this woman.

Take a look. This is the Russian lawyer, excuse me, from that 2016 Trump tower meeting, who, of course, was arranged on premise on sharing political dirt on Hillary Clinton. And she now says she worked with Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. Listen to this.




CABRERA: The key word there, informata or informant. Now, Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Junior, Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort back in 2016. But that new detail now about her Kremlin ties comes after House Republicans on the Intel committee released a 253-page document on their investigation.

And I quote "while the committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill- considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns."

Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, notice that. For example, the June 2016 meeting at Trump tower, between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer. Now, President Trump tweeting he is, quote, "honored by this report."

Let's get to White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez in Michigan, where the President will speak at a rally tonight.

Boris, set the scene. BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Ana. Yes, the

President set to speak here in Michigan. The doors have just opened at the venue and we are seeing several hundred people now heading in. The President won this county by some 11 points in 2016. He is beloved here and his supporters have come out in droves.

And this is where the President feels comfortable during these rallies. So he may mention the Russia investigation to repeat that line that he often uses that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and that it is simply a witch-hunt being perpetrated by Democrats. The President often goes off-script during these rallies, so we can potential expect him to break some news.

You will recall that recently he made news at a rally in Ohio, declaring that America's presence in Syria would soon leave that country. That surprised several people within his administration and at the Pentagon, as well. We may hear the President tonight discuss the recent talks between north and South Korea, and to give himself credit for moving that forward.

Beyond that, the President may talk about Michael Cohen, his embattled attorney, as well. Not likely, but it is something that he may get into. And we can expect the President, of course, to attack some familiar targets, including Montana senator, Jon Tester, who played a big role in downing his nomination of Ronny Jackson for secretary of Veterans Affairs.

It always gets underway at 7:00. We should note, the President is here in Michigan as the second White House correspondents' dinner that he is missing, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez in Washington Township, Michigan. Thank you for that.

Let's bring in our panel. CNN intelligence and security Analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Baer. CNN political Analyst and executive editor for "Central Newspapers," Brian Karem, and CNN political Analyst, Ryan Lizza.

So Ryan, the fact that Veselnitskaya now says she is a Kremlin informant, how does that change things?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for one thing, the timing is sort of unfortunate for the House intelligence committee, which wrapped up this investigation and really didn't give much credence to the famous Trump tower meeting. This would seem to be a piece of evidence that they would want to look at a little bit more closely.

You know, the first thought I had about this is why is she coming out and saying this publicly? And is this first kind of, you know, psy- ops by the Kremlin? Obviously, they love to keep the Russian meddling story going. They know it creates lots of fighting in our politics, which is the goal of the whole operation. And Putin has a long track record of meddling in other countries, denying it, then subtly, you know, indicating, well, maybe he did meddle, after all. And then eventually bragging about it. We saw that in Crimea. So the first thing I thought is, is this part of the next wave of this for Putin to actually take some credit for what happened in 2015 and 2016.

CABRERA: Bob, from your experience, what do you think?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I agree with Ryan, this is part of a vast covert action campaign, run out of the Kremlin. The interesting thing for me as a former intelligence officer is they are using these proxies, like this lawyer, and a lot of other oligarchs and the rest of them. And the old model of using the KGB has been dropped from taking these people that are frankly nebulous and running them into us.

And Ryan is absolutely right. Putin is bragging about this. She wouldn't have gone on TV. And he has succeed in sewing chaos in this country, which we are going to pay for, for a very long time.

[16:05:30] CABRERA: Brian, I see you have something to add?

BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Veselnitskaya, she didn't come forward without -- hopefully I didn't mangle her name too bad. She didn't come forward without permission from Putin, OK. That much we know.

Now, the intelligence people that I know that are my sources in the intelligence gathering community say, what this may signal is that Putin has no further use for Trump and the timing was specifically made for after he was exonerated so -- in Congress. So that's something that you have to look at going forward.

I can tell you this much. Tonight, he is probably, Trump, sitting there while we're at the White House correspondents' association dinner -- and by the way, Ana, there hasn't been a President missed that correspondents' dinner since Reagan missed it, and he got shot and still managed to call in when he was, you know, on the mend from being shot.

Our President hasn't shown up two years in a row now. And I guarantee you tonight he is going to tell us about the fake NBC News. He is going to tell us how he was exonerated. He is going to tell us that we are all the bad guys. And meanwhile, what's really going on behind the scenes as Mr. Bear and Ryan pointed to, this is all another subtle attempt at manipulating us. And this is something that we are paying for now and we will continue to pay for, unless we get smart about what's going on, and hold the feet to the fire to the people that need to have their feet held to the fire.

CABRERA: And it will be interesting to see if he brings up Russia at his rally tonight, because he has been tweeting a lot about it. Clearly, it's on his mind.

And Ryan, we are now learning that Russia has actually followed up after the election. Listen to what Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the house intelligence committee, told CNN.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (R-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, Veselnitskaya reaches back to the Trump family, right after the election saying, we want to follow up now on this request we have on the Magnitsky act. So, clearly, there's an expectation there on the Russian side that they may now have success with the Magnitsky act. Given that the prior meeting and communications dealt with the offer of help and the request on the Russian part for appeal to Magnitsky. It certainly seems like the Russians were ready for payback.


CABRERA: Ryan, does it make sense that the Russians would get back in touch with the Trump campaign and eventually the Trump administration, seeking payback of sorts, if they hadn't delivered the so-called dirt at that initial meeting?

LIZZA: Well, that's an excellent question, because it really gets to the heart of whether this was one of two things. The most innocent explanation for this meeting is that it really was basically about the Magnitsky act, which obviously Putin has lots of reasons to hate. And that that was the sort of -- that was the point of the meeting before and after he was elected.

The more conspiratorial, you know, I don't mean that in a pejorative way, but just a way to describe it, is that they were testing the Trump campaign to see if they would be receptive to some type of cooperative relationship in pushing negative information about Hillary Clinton. And it was a little bit more of a sophisticated operation.

Now, whether that meeting was part of the sophisticated operation or not, there certainly was a propaganda campaign, highly sophisticated including hacking and dumping and use of social media to hurt Hillary Clinton and help get Donald Trump elected. And one of the benefits of helping get Donald Trump elected would be a perhaps a different position on the Magnitsky act.

So in that sense, it's perfectly ordinary for them -- perfectly unsurprising that there would be some follow up on that one issue.


LIZZA: The big question is, was it part of a slightly deeper conspiracy?

KAREM: Well, Ana, your question presupposes that at some point in time, they weren't talking to the Trump campaign. There is nothing to show that the communication ever stopped. I mean, it seems to be ongoing and if you remember, to the point that Donald Trump stood up in front of the public, in front of a large audience and asked Russia to look at the Hillary emails. I mean, that's there for everybody to see. So the idea that the communication between Trump and Russia ever stopped is to me quite fascinating.

I think there's every indication that the communication continued and continues to this day. Now, how high it goes, and whether or not there's criminal intent or a criminal action involved, that's up to the Mueller investigation. And I would trust whether they exonerate him or they don't that they will find facts out, find and let us know. But there's no indication at any point in time that the Russian

communication between high levels of the Russian government and their operatives or their informants and the Trump campaign and the Trump presidency ever ended.

[16:10:31] CABRERA: Bob, I want to turn to some of our other reporting that CNN has exclusively about the NRA gathering now and setting aside some documents related to the Kremlin-linked banker, Aleksandr Torshin (ph). Now, is this a sign the group is bracing for a possible investigation, do you think?

BAER: Well, they have to look at the Russian money going into the NRA. They spent, what, $30 million on the Trump campaign. It's a lot of money. How much of it was Russian? How much of it was private? What part of it came from the KGB? We don't know. But clearly, the Russians had sent the message at the very least that we're willing to support you, Mr. Trump. Now, whether there's a smoking gun that goes right back to the Kremlin, I frankly think that Putin, you know, has covered his tracks well enough. And if there is a smoking gun, he will release it himself if he gets buyer's remorse.

But he clearly told the Trump campaign, I can help you with hacked email. I will help you. Whether or not there was collusion or not, it doesn't matter. Because after those emails came out, they can say, look, we told you. The Trump campaign didn't have to say, yes, release the emails. But they definitely knew that the Russians had them and used that and they expected payback. No question in my mind.

CABRERA: What is the history of the Russian's connection to the NRA?

BAER: None. I mean, the Russians in the old days used to use the communist party in this country. But what they figured out is you can take right-wing groups like neo-Nazis in Germany and you can cause chaos through them. It's the same model that Putin learned when he worked with the Stassi in the '80s.

I mean, this all a pattern here. It's very clear for the intelligence agencies what he has done and that he has masterminded this. No doubt in anybody's mind.

KAREM: Absolutely. And remember the old adage, follow the money. That's why it's attracted to the NRA. It's money for them. They use it the way they want, or so they think. Not realizing all the time or maybe realizing that they are playing into the hands of something a little more nefarious than what they bought.

CABRERA: Ryan Lizza, just to tie this up into a bow, you know, the President continues to say he is innocent. He says, no collusion and he basically said he was totally vindicated by the House Intel committee's report that found no evidence of collusion. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were honored. It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing. It's a witch-hunt. That's all it is. I was very honored by the report. It was totally conclusive, strong, powerful. Many things said that nobody knew about and said in a very strong way.


CABRERA: Brian, do you put as much stock in the house committee's findings as the President appears to?

KAREM: No. He can't -- and he's got to stop saying it's a witch hunt, because he's a party to the witch hunt, if it is, because the 13 Russians that were indicted by the Mueller investigation, he sanctioned. He applied sanctions against them. So that is a non sequitur. And the House intelligence committee is not the be all, end all. It's going to be the Mueller investigation.

So Mr. President, you may feel like you were exonerated, but let us all wait and sit and find out what someone who really knows how to investigate the situation, what conclusions he comes to. And then we will be satisfied. But a partisan, a partisan investigation by those in the Republican Party exonerating you means zero.

CABRERA: Brian and Ryan, we have got a lot of those names that sound the same in this segment.

Ryan Lizza, a quick final thought.

LIZZA: Look, Bob Mueller has a criminal investigation open pup the President is the subject of a criminal investigation. And we'll -- you know, his fate will be decided by -- well, one, by Mueller, and then if there's something serious, perhaps by Congress. So the House intelligence investigation is hardly the last word on this.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Lizza, Brian Karem, and Bob Baer, good to see you guys. Thank you for being here.

LIZZA: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, no prescription, no problem. A new CNN report on the White House medical unit uncovers new allegations of misconduct, just one day after Dr. Ronny Jackson bowed out of his bid to join the Trump cabinet.


[16:18:54] CABRERA: Today, President Trump is now calling for the resignation of Democratic senator Jon Tester. This comes as the Montana senator raised concerns over the slew of misconduct allegations against rear admiral, Ronny Jackson, Trump's pick to lead the department of Veterans Affairs, who withdrew his nomination this week. The President tweeting today, secret service has just informed me that Senator Jon Tester's statements on admiral Jackson are not true. There were no such findings. Tester should lose race in Montana. Very dishonest and sick.

Well, senator Tester released a statement today, as well, saying, it is my duty to make sure Montana veterans get what they need and have earned. And I will never stop fighting for them as their senator.

I want to get right to CNN politics senior writer Juana Summers who has been breaking all sort of stories about this ongoing fight.

Juana, take us through what exactly this is all about.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Sure, Ana. So earlier this week, Montana senator Jon Tester, he is the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. He compiled a list of allegations related to the conduct of rear admiral Ronny Jackson, the White House physician. That document, that two-page document is based on conversations that he and members of his staff had with nearly two dozen of Jackson's former and current staffers and had a wide range of allegations having to do with a hostile workplace environment as well as drinking.

Now, it's really unclear what exactly the President is referring to in that tweet, but one of the most severe allegations included in that document is this. It alleges that Jackson went to a secret service going-away party while serving as the White House doctor. He got drunk at that party and he wrecked a government vehicle.

Now Jackson himself have said that he didn't wreck any vehicle. And a White House official tells CNN that the White House's military office, they pulled records from GSA showing three different vehicle incidents that happened during the years 2013 to 2017, but out of all of that documentation, there was no evidence to prove that Jackson was drinking on the job.

That White House official telling CNN, and I'm quoting here, "that there would have to be a massive cover-up or government conspiracy for him to crash a government vehicle without any paperwork."

Now, separately from that, CNN reported citing four sources, including one with direct knowledge that during an overseas trip in 2015, Jackson became intoxicated, went to the hotel room door of a female employee, he knocked on her door loudly, and the secret service ended up responding to his loud and drunken behavior.

Now, that incident, after we published that story, the secret service releasing a statement saying that it had no record of any incident, specifically any incident involving rear admiral Ronny Jackson after a thorough review of internal documents related to all Presidential foreign travel the occurred in 2015.

Now, after that secret service statement, we reached out to our sources, and a source with direct knowledge of that incident told CNN that there was, indeed, a conversation between White House medical unit staff and the secret service at the time of the incident at which the secret service expressed concern about Jackson's loud drunken behavior, Ana.

[16:21:51] CABRERA: So Juana, presumably, the secret service announcements are what the President is pointing to when he says that there is proof that some of these allegations are false. But again, it is one word against the other. And it doesn't necessarily address all of the allegations about Ronny Jackson and his medical unit.

SUMMERS: No, it doesn't. It's important to point out, Jackson has not been coming out and responding to these allegations one by one. By on Thursday, when he withdrew from the nomination process to serve as the director of Veterans Affairs, he did make a statement. And he said that all of these allegations against him are completely false and fabricated, but that he wanted to pull out of this process, despite the fact that he believes he's innocent.

CABRERA: Tell us a little bit more about what you have learned as these new allegations continue to come out.

SUMMERS: Sure, that's right. One of the latest things we have learned, Ana, is a little bit more about the culture of the White House medical unit, a unit that's charged with caring for not just the President, but members of the senior staff, the vice President.

My colleague, M.J. Lee and I spoke to about a half a dozen people who currently or formerly worked at that medical unit. And what they described to us is a grab and go culture where mid-level staff to the most senior officials within the White House have obtained prescription drugs without being examined by a doctor.

Four former and current medical unit officials told us that they saw prescription medication handed out readily without some of the most basic medical consultation. And Jackson did not respond to a request for comment on that story.

CABRERA: So where does that leave Dr. Jackson? Is he back in his former position?

SUMMERS: He is. The day that Jackson actually announced he was withdrawing for the nomination, he was back at work in the White House basement. Currently right now since he has been in the nomination process, there's been somebody filling in for him who has been serving as a primary position to the president, but Jackson is back on the job, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

CABRERA: Juana Summers, thanks so much for your reporting.

SUMMERS: Thank you.

CABRERA: So when President Obama handed the reins to Donald Trump, he warned his biggest problem would be Kim Jong-un. Now that North and South Korea are talking peace, will President Trump receive any credit from his political opponents? Our panel weighs in next.


[16:28:25] CABRERA: Welcome back. After 15 months of a presidency defined mostly by chaos, controversial firings, abrupt exits of both staff and high-ranking cabinet members, and of course, the Russia investigation, the question right now is this. Could the potential of peace between North and South Korea be President Trump's lasting legacy? He is definitely taken a different approach than prior Presidents. And he took a dig at them in comments this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Things have changed very radically from a few months ago. You know the name-calling and a lot of other things. We get a kick every once in a while out of the fact that I will be watching people that fail so badly over the last 25 years, explaining to me how to make a deal with North Korea. I get a big, big kick out of that. But we are doing very well. I think that something very dramatic could happen.


CABRERA: I want to discuss with CNN political contributor and former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings, and CNN Presidential historian and the former director of the Nixon library, Tim Naftali.

So gentlemen, the leaders of North and South Korea signed a big declaration yesterday, a big declaration saying there would be no more war between them, which included a promise to turn the demilitarized zone into a peace zone. They also agreed to the goal of de-nuking the Korean Peninsula.

Scott, is this Trump's doing?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, this is a great day, because we are a long way away from nuclear war, whereas in the last year, how many weekends did we sit around, Ana, wondering, are we on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. President Trump, through the enforcement of the sanctions and through his resolve, proved to the North Koreans and everyone in Asia, frankly, that he was dead serious about denuclearizing the peninsula. It brought Kim to the table. He got his international allies engaged. I think President Trump's on the right track.

Look, I don't trust the Kim regime, and of course, they have been lying to the United States and the international community for a long time. So we have to trust, but verify. But clearly, we are in better shape on this situation than we ever were during the Obama years.

[16:30:27] CABRERA: Tim, if all goes as planned, what would this mean for the President's legacy?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the first thing is that it means a much more peaceful peninsula for 80 million Koreans. And this has always been a Korean story. Kim Jong-un's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, started it, the war. It was an attempt by the north to take over the south. To end the war, it always required the North Koreans to change their approach.

Now, we will debate this and maybe President Trump deserves a lot of credit. We will discover, soon, or maybe not so soon, what changed Kim's thinking, because his calculations changed. And now it's up to the Koreans to establish peace with China and the United States being the guarantors. CABRERA: But when it comes, though, to the President getting credit

for a change, regardless of the cause of the change, it happened under his watch, Tim, and we recall President Obama got a Nobel peace prize. Could that be potentially in the future here?

NAFTALI: Well, I think it's really important for us to learn what Mr. Pompeo said, because -- and what role we played, we, Americans, played in helping to create the conditions for the two Koreas to come together. And I don't know the answer. And if it turns out that the United States found a way through these back channels to sweeten the pot for North Korea or to lay the groundwork for this, then, of course, President Trump and the Trump administration will get the credit. We just don't know that yet.

But what's really important right now is that this not become a political football. Let's all be really excited for the fact that a 65-year conflict may actually be at a formal end. And then we can figure out who is responsible for it. But the worst thing that can happen is for this to become a political football the way in which the Iran deal did. But in this case, it would be Democrats who would give the credit to the President. In that case, the Republicans didn't give the credit to the President. Let's not make this a partisan issue. Let's hope for peace in Korea.

CABRERA: And on that note, all good news when it comes to North Korea there. Obviously good for this President.

But on the other hand, Scott, we have all of this chaos still happening within his administration. You have got more negative news headlines this week on Ben Carson, on Scott Pruitt. Of course, there was this issue of Ronny Jackson, the President's nominee for the VA secretary. What the heck? How do we get there? How is this happening?

JENNINGS: Well, let me say a word about Ronny Jackson because I think what has happened to Dr. Ronny Jackson is absolute character assassination. We have seen Jon Tester's anonymous stories that he put out this week falling apart over the weekend. You have the secret service disputing that some of these things happened. The reporter who broke the original story, Jonathan Swan of "Axios" said he wouldn't print the allegations, because I can't prove they are true, and then said in an interview, Jon Tester can't prove they are true, either. I think this has been an absolute outrage.

Now I'm not sure Dr. Jackson was the right person to lead the VA. And he certainly should have been vetted, but this character assassination is absolutely outrageous. He is a Navy doctor, he served his country. And his only sin in this whole deal was that he was nominated by Donald Trump and that was enough for Jon Tester to smear a good man. I'm outraged by it and I think a lot of people are, frankly.

CABRERA: I hear your outrage, but it wasn't just Democrats. It wasn't just Jon Tester who was concerned about these allegations. It wasn't just him who were hearing these allegations and the allegations were coming from people who were both current and former members of the administration and former members of that unit in which this individual worked. So are you suggesting that they were lying?

JENNINGS: Well, look, I know this. Dr. Jackson has, in his own name, gone On the Record to deny it. And nobody has come forward in their own name to ask these allegations. And I would ask a simple question. Most of Dr. Jackson's service in the White House came under the Obama years. He served and serviced Barack Obama for eight years. Are you telling me that the Obama administration, the Obama White House let a drunken, pill-pushing, you know, late-night, hotel door-banging, car- crashing irresponsible lying quack of a doctor service the White House for eight years if they knew about these allegations? I don't buy it. I think it's a bunch of crap. And I think what they've done to Dr. Jackson is outrageous.

CABRERA: Why don't you think, Tim, in ten second, if you will, we were hearing that same kind of defense of him when the allegations first surfaced? I mean, the Republicans weren't even coming to his defense?

NAFTALI: I don't know if the admiral is guilty of any of this. I think what's really important is that if this is untrue, that he be exonerated, whether or not he gets the position or not.

What I'm really upset about and worried about is the fact that this White House has not vetted its candidates very well. And has opened up the White House to a lot of embarrassment. And the President should not have pushed forward this nomination without doing a background check.

As for senator Tester, he is in a tough race in Montana. I can't imagine that he would jump on flimsy allegations. That would be very dangerous, politically. But I don't know senator Tester and I don't know about the allegations. I do think that the climate in Washington is poisonous right now.

[16:35:38] CABRERA: All right, guys, got to leave it there.

Thank you so much, Scott Jennings and Tim Naftali.

Coming up, what do Stormy Daniels, Hulk Hogan and a GOP fund-raiser have in common? The answer may surprise you.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.


[16:40:25] CABRERA: There's a delay in the Stormy Daniels case. A federal judge has halted the porn star's lawsuit against President Trump's personal attorney for 90 days. But while that suit is on pause, we are learning more about the original nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed with the guidance of her former attorney, Keith Davidson.

CNN's Sara Sidner has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do porn star Stormy Daniels, former wrestler Hulk Hogan, and former deputy finance chairman of the RNC Eliot Brody have in common? CNN has learned they all signed almost identical confidentiality agreements written by the same Beverly hills-based attorney, Keith Davidson.

In 2012, Davidson tried to broker a deal between Hulk Hogan and Davidson's client, who was trying to make money off a sex tape, showing Hogan having sex with his friend's wife. Davidson wrote the confidential settlement agreement, saying the sex video would be handed over if Hogan paid his client $300,000. Hogan's attorney called the FBI. And Davidson was caught up in an FBI raid, accused of extortion. He was questioned, but never charged.

Four years later, Davidson became Stormy Daniels' attorney and he used the same document as a template for the Stormy Daniels deal, a source tells CNN. The wording in most of it is identical. That means the President's attorney, Michael Cohen, did not write the hush agreement as previously believed.

JUDD BURNSTEIN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: If Keith Davidson drafted this document for Stormy Daniels, that's an outrage. Because this is such a one-sided agreement.

SIDNER: Judd Burnstein, a New York lawyer who briefly represented Donald Trump said Davidson crafting the agreement is an unusual move for two reasons. The person demanding the silence usually drafts the deal, to make sure it's airtight. They would want to be in control of writing the agreement. And the attorney for the person being silenced is already giving away a large amount of negotiating power by writing it, Burnstein says.

BURNSTEIN: If you are the lawyer representing the person who's being asked to provide confidentiality, your goal is to make -- to write an agreement that has as many holes as possible, to protect your client. Your goal is not to lock up your client.

SIDNER: Part of the deal says Stormy Daniels, who again was Davidson's client, can be fined $1 million for each time she talks about the alleged affair with the President. Davidson also wrote the hush agreement signed by a former playboy model he represented who accused a major GOP donor of getting her pregnant.

Then RNC deputy finance chairman, Eliot Brody, agreed to pay her $1.6 million. His lawyer in the deal was Michael Cohen. In a statement, Brody revealed more about the situation, saying the woman terminated the pregnancy. The woman's current attorney, Peter stris, said none of this should have ever been exposed to the public.

Can you say definitively that this was not your client leaking this information?

PETER STRIS, PARTNER, STRIS AND MAHER: My client did not leak this information. My client was not involved in the leaking of this information. My client could not be more upset that her personal life in this regard has been made public in any way. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Again, that was Sara Sidner reporting.

Coming up here in the NEWSROOM, the President skipping the White House correspondents' dinner for the second year in a row. It is all because of jokes like this?


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let's see what we have got up there.



[16:48:37] CABRERA: Every spring, it's the hottest ticket in Washington. A chance for the press and politicians to rub elbows, share a laugh or two. But of all the famous faces attending tonight's White House correspondents' dinner, the one that stands out is the one that you won't see.

For the second year in a row, the President is skipping this event to head out to a totally different Washington. Washington, Michigan, where he will hold a rally with supporters. It's no secret the President loves roasting the media, but when the joke's on him, it's no laughing matter.

Here's a look at what happened at previous dinners.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, of course, there's Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for President as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to address the elephant that's not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. And that's because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight. It would be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can't just make it on a Saturday! It's a Saturday! As for the other guy, I think he is in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke.

OBAMA: Donald Trump is here tonight! Now, I know that he has taken some flack lately. But no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing?


[16:50:21] CABRERA: Not even a smile there. Joining us now is David Litt. He wrote speeches and jokes for

President Obama and is now the head writer and producer for "Funny or Die."

So David, what's your take on President Trump skipping this event now two years in a row?

DAVID LITT, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it's an admission that he is not going to do well if he went up and tried to do a little bit of comedy tonight. I mean, I remember watching him at the Al Smith dinner, which was one of these joke dinners on the 2016 campaign. He actually got booed by the audience. That is really hard to do. You have to do a terrible job at the Al Smith dinner or at the White House correspondents' dinner to get booed by the crowd. So I don't think that President Trump would like to be in Washington, Michigan. I think he just understands that if he was in Washington, D.C., his night would not go so well.

CABRERA: And yet he loves the limelight, we all know. He likes to be the center of attention and in the spotlight. Regardless of the party, what I think is interesting is Presidents do traditionally have some friction at times, at least, with the media. They want to control the message, of course. But this President, he takes it to a different level. Would it make a difference in that relationship if he participates in an event like the White House correspondents' dinner?

LITT: I think he would be put in a tough spot if he participated in the correspondents' dinner, and here's why. A few weeks ago, he was at the gridiron dinner, which is also an event for journalists. And when he was there, I'm paraphrasing here, that reporting was one of the professions he respects most in the world. That's not something you hear very often from Donald Trump. It's certainly not something he says to his supporters.

So if he went in public in front of the cameras and said the same thing he said behind the scenes at (INAUDIBLE), he would be admitting to his supporters, his most hard-core supporters, that all of his fake news attacks are really just fake. And I think he would be exposing himself as a hypocrite. It's just one more reason I think he is afraid to show up at an event like this one.

CABRERA: So I know you don't have a lot of confidence in the President's ability to deliver jokes, but let's pretend for a second that Trump was attending the event, you had to write a joke for him, what direction would you take?

LITT: You know, people ask me that a lot, and my view is, and I am a Democrat, but I'm also an American, my view is that if you are a really funny person and your job is to write jokes for Donald Trump, the first thing you should do is quit. Because I think that even if you're just writing jokes for a President, you have to be writing them in order to help that person advance their agenda in some way. And I think this President has crossed so many lines that I can't even begin to answer that question. I think I would just say, you know what, Mr. President, in all seriousness, I resign. CABRERA: By the way, we are looking at live images right now of the

President right there on the side of the screen, as he is boarding air force one, going to his rally in Michigan this evening set to get underway at 7:00. Meantime, while he won't be at the White House correspondents' dinner, his press secretary Sarah Sanders will be there representing the administration at the head table.

David, how does that factor into this event, do you think?

LITT: I don't know that it's going to make a huge difference to have the press secretary at the event when the President isn't, because if the idea here is to try to split the difference and say, oh, actually, the President does respect the press, that's why we are sending the press secretary who frequently lies to the press, I don't think that's going to work.

I think the White House is trying to have it both ways. They are trying to avoid having Donald Trump show up, tell a bunch of jokes that go badly, and at the same time, send some sort of presence this year. I think it's pretty clear what this is, which is a President who doesn't want to go, is a little afraid of how it would turn out, and is trying to cover his butt anyway, because he would like the press to like him more than they do. And you know, because they are covering him for the most part accurately.

CABRERA: All right, David Litt, great to have you with us. Thank you very much.

LITT: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: Stay tuned. CNN's special coverage of the White House correspondents' dinner begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern.


[16:58:26] CABRERA: "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" is back. This weekend on the Season 2 premiere, W. Kamau Bell travels to the U.S./Mexico border to find out what Trump's wall would really mean for the people who live in its shadow. Here's a sneak peek.


W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (voice-over): Today, I'm back in (INAUDIBLE), Mexico to check out a place to reveal the human cost of America's immigration policy, the Kieno border initiative. And I'm meeting with one of its leaders (INAUDIBLE).

Tell me where I'm at right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is a play where we provide two meals a day, mostly to deportees.

BELL: This is their first sort of welcome back to Mexico?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really is. We provide food, clothing, support. This is a critical work kind in border. BELL: Are there people who are coming here who have been in the

states for years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are seeing an increasing number of people who have been living in the United States for a long time who are being deported, in comparison to last year.

BELL: Some people, they thought their life was set up there and suddenly they're deported and they find themselves in this room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes almost overnight.


CABRERA: You can catch the premiere of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" tomorrow night, right after the premiere of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN" here on CNN.

Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. So glad you could be us this weekend.

President Trump is gearing up to speak at a reelection rally Monday night in Michigan. We showed him boarding air force one. And this comes after a bombshell revelation from this woman. This is the same Russian lawyer from that 2016 Trump tower meeting, which was arranged on the premise of sharing political dirt on Hillary Clinton. The same Russian lawyer who insisted she is just a private attorney, now changing her tune.