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Daniels Sues Trump; AT&T-Time Warner Trial; Trump's Focus on Policy. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired May 1, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:18] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Stormy Daniels is now suing President Trump for defamation. The lawsuit stems from the president's tweet on April 18th dismissing this composite sketch of a man that Daniels says threatened her over her alleged affair with Donald Trump more than a decade ago. The president wrote this, a sketch years later about a non-existent man, a total con job, playing the fake news media for fools, but they know it.

Joining us now is Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti.

Michael, great to have you. Thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: So how is that defamation when he didn't even mention Stormy Daniels in the tweet?

AVENATTI: Well, he doesn't have to mention her by name in order for it to constitute defamation under the law. I mean it's clear as to who he was referring to. It was clear that he was referring to the lease of the sketch and his claim that this was a non-existent man. And what's interesting, Alisyn, is, if he didn't have anything to do with Stormy Daniels and he didn't know anything about what happened in 2011 and he never had anything to do with the agreement or the $130,000, which is the nonsense that they're trying to sell the American public on, then how would he know whether there was a nonexistent man or not?

CAMEROTA: Yes, how can you prove a non-existent's man's non-existence?

AVENATTI: Well, I mean, that's an interesting question. But I think what we're going to be able to prove is that this actually happened and that -- and that it occurred and he's going to be put in a position to have to substantiate his claim that it didn't happen, that it was fabricated.

CAMEROTA: And when you say you'll be able to prove that it did happen, beyond her word, what else is there?

AVENATTI: Well, I think that we're going to be able to identify this individual. We're getting very, very close to doing that. And I think there's going to be other evidence that's going to come to light that's going to substantiate her claim.

CAMEROTA: Because of the sketch? I mean have there been tips of -- on the sketch?

AVENATTI: Absolutely. We've made considerable progress over the last ten days or so.

CAMEROTA: And so, just one more thing, you think the police will identify who this man is?


CAMEROTA: You're seeking damages. So I think 75,000 is what I read. Are you seeking $75,000 in damages? And what damages did Stormy Daniels suffer from the president claiming that this didn't happen?

AVENATTI: The $75,000 is the jurisdictional minimum in order to be in that court. We'll seek damages in excess of that. We're not required under the law to prove what's called special damages because we maintain that this was a per se defamation.

But, Alisyn, let me say this. There's some actual legal pundits in the last 24 hours that have suggest that because my client is an adult film star, that she can't be damaged or defamed. And I'm outraged by that. I mean that's the --

CAMEROTA: You mean -- just so I understand, that her reputation, they would say, is sullied by -- because of her career, so she can't be damaged? I'm I understanding the logic?

AVENATTI: Yes, that's basically -- well, or the ill logic. I mean that's effectively -- you know, it's almost like suggesting that because of how a woman dresses that she could be raped and that that's OK. I'm outraged by that line of -- or that -- that line of logic or ill-logic and I think a lot of people should be outraged by it.

CAMEROTA: Why? Because what do you want them to know? What do you want them to understand about Stormy Daniels?

AVENATTI: Well, regardless of a woman's profession, she's still entitled to have people speak about her in a truthful manner. All because you engage in a certain profession does not mean you check the ability at the door to be treated with respect and dignity. I think it's outrageous, especially in today's day and times. I mean this isn't the 1950s where people just turn a blind eye to this nonsense.

CAMEROTA: As you know, this past weekend was the White House Correspondents Dinner. And there were some surreal moments because -- it's always this confluence of politics and celebrity and the media. And so, I saw you at this party, a pre-party before the White House Correspondents Dinner on Friday night and --

AVENATTI: You looked -- you looked lovely, by the way.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. You were dashing as well.

But what really got peoples' attention was the moment when Kellyanne Conway, the president's counselor, entered the party and you were right there and there was this scrum of paparazzi -- and let me pull up the picture -- because everybody was sort of crowded around all of you. Don Lemon looks like he's presiding at your wedding. He looks like he's the minister at your wedding to Kellyanne Conway. And I just want -- obviously you two are on opposite sides of this Stormy Daniels case. What was this moment like?

AVENATTI: Well, let me be clear, we're not getting married. We're not engaged. Of all the things I could state with certainty, that's not going to happen.

CAMEROTA: Despite the photographic evidence, you're not engaged. OK.

AVENATTI: That's correct. Nor are we getting married.

But, you know, Kellyanne and I met for the first time at that event. It was a rather spirited discussion. And we'll leave it at that.

CAMEROTA: But what did you guys discuss? What could you discuss? I mean when you first see Kellyanne Conway, what did you say to each other?

AVENATTI: Well, we initially introduced ourselves and we actually discussed the fact that we both went to the same law school just as a coincidence. And then things progressed from there. I don't want to get into the details of what we discussed, but it was spirited.

CAMEROTA: But was it -- was it heated? Did you have a heated conversation?

AVENATTI: I wouldn't describe it as heated. It would describe it as spirited. I think we're both passionate in our positions. And we don't hesitate to articulate as much.

CAMEROTA: Was it as surreal for you as it was for me witnessing it?

[08:35:03] AVENATTI: I was fairly surreal. Yes, I would agree with that.

CAMEROTA: Michael Avenatti, great to talk to you.

AVENATTI: Good to see you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for the update.

AVENATTI: Thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the blockbuster merger case coming to a close. Now it's up to a judge to decide if AT&T can acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Details, next.


CUOMO: The fate of the AT&T-Time Warner merger is now in the hands of a federal judge. Lawyers for the Justice Department and the telecom giant facing off in court for the final time. So, you know what the question is. Is the judge going to approve AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of CNN's parent company, Time Warner.

Joining us now, Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources" and Hadas Gold, CNN politics, media and business reporter.

So, Hadas, I will ruin your day and say, what do we think the judge is going to decide? We, of course, don't know. What is the suggestion about the time involved in the deliberations?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: So the judge said that on June 12th he's going to hold a hearing, and that's when he will announce his ruling on this case. He said there's a possibility that he could rule beforehand, but I don't think that's likely because he has noted many times that he's going to take a long time to reach this decision. He said his opinion will be more than 200 pages long.

[08:40:12] That June 12th date is only nine days before the merger deadline of June 21st. Some people are speculating that that gives some sort of signal that he's going to approve the merger. But it's completely not clear.

What is clear is that we have reporting that the judge has actually asked both sides in their post-trial briefs to give him five pages on remedies, things that they think that they can do to help alleviate any anti-trust concerns. And in their closing arguments, the Justice Department said, you know, per your direction, we think that if there was to be any sort of remedy, that it should be a divestiture. That they should sell off -- AT&T should be forced to sell-off the Turner Networks, including CNN, because ultimately their concern is that by AT&T owning Time Warner content, including Turner, is that AT&T would have unfair leverage over their competitors, would be able to get higher prices out of them, would be able to attract more subscribers. And, as a result, the government is alleging that your everyday cable bills would then go up.

CUOMO: Right.

GOLD: AT&T says, that's not the case, but ultimately it's up to the judge to decide that.

CUOMO: All right, so why is that interesting? It's interesting because, while that is sometimes done in bench trials, OK, it does suggest that this judge is at least open to a compromise situation, which changes the stakes dramatically.

So, Brian, let's bring you into this.

If there are apportionments on the table, that's a very dicey proposition for AT&T, because, let's be honest, the government is in this to make a point about an all or nothing notion about this deal. So apportionment, so even if this decision comes and we now know from Hadas's suggestion that judicial decisions don't follow the college application process, which is where you get a thin letter you're in bad shape, you get a fat letter you're in good shape.


CUOMO: A fat decision can go either way as a justification. But what does that mean that he said give me some points so that I might make a deal here?

STELTER: Right, he's looking for some remedy, some conditions. Conditions is something we heard a lot about in the NBC-Comcast deal almost a decade ago. There were lots of conditions attached to that deal. The government allowed it to go forward under the Obama administration. But there were lots of rules Comcast had to play around or play with and actually those rules are about to expire.

That's normally how these sorts of deals go. But that is not what the Trump DOJ wanted to do. They essentially wanted this all or nothing situation. So it sounded like the judge, at least wants to think about the possibilities of some sort of in between, some sort of compromise, as you said.

The issue here is that -- well, we should also point out, as of last week, the DOJ anti-trust chief said he still was open for a settlement conversation. His phone was open any time for that call. So far AT&T and the DOJ did not get very far in any of those conversations.

CUOMO: Well, AT&T is banking on precedent. You don't see deals like this nixed. And they're also banking that if the DOJ puts forward, as Hadas suggests, selling off the Turner Networks, including CNN, will that motivate the judge's understanding of some kind of animus or motivation or intentionality in their pursuing this in the first place.

STELTER: Yes. Well, I also think a fat decision gets to the concern here about political motivation. There's been concern for months that the Trump administration was somehow trying to meddle in this deal, trying to punish CNN given the president's disdain for this network. A fat decision by the judge making very clear where his arguments are, that will help give legitimacy to the decision.

A good way to put a button on that.

Thank you very much, Brian and Hadas, as always.


CAMEROTA: OK, so we now know the questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask the president. What do these mean? We get "The Bottom Line," next.

CUOMO: First, former NBA star Chris Herren rebounded from drug addiction in a very unlikely way. Now he is helping others beat drugs. He's the subject of this "Impact Your World."


CHRIS HERREN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: My story led me to the NBA and the Boston Celtics. But behind all that was an addiction to heroin and OxyContin. Being a professional athlete hiding this addiction was a full-time job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2008, Chris Herren was found near death with a bag of heroin. An old NBA friend and his wife pushed the fallen hoops star into rehab.

HERREN: Liz and Chris Mullen reached out to me and gave me the greatest gift, you know, a chance to get well.

When I started the Heroin Project, it was all about covering the spectrum, bringing in family support groups, recovery coaches, as well as helping them sustain treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A serve which helped Susan Duffy get her son sober.

SUSAN DUFFY, PARENT OF RECOVERING ADDICTS: It really does increase the possibility of your loved one surviving.

HERREN: We all get sick in this process. Family members have broken hearts and people who are suffering have broken souls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why Herren offers free virtual support groups with licensed counselors, something that's helping James Franchek. His daughter Emma died from an overdose in 2016.

[08:45:07] JAMES FRANCHEK, GRIEVING PARENT: The support allowed me to get through it and not fall apart. It literally saved my life.



CAMEROTA: President Trump is blasting the leaked questions from Robert Mueller's team as, quote, disgraceful this morning and again insisting that Mueller's Russia probe is a witch hunt. This comes as the White House chief of staff denies reports that he told others in the White House that the president is a, quote, idiot. Can President Trump focus on policy with all of this happening?

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

So, David, he has a lot on his plate, as we've been discussing. He has trade. He has the Iran deal. He has, of course, immigration. He has North Korea. I mean I could go on.

[08:50:02] So, do we know if the president is able to focus on this amidst the chaos of some of the other stuff?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we know how consumed he is by the Russia investigation, but we also just look at yesterday in his public pronouncements. We saw him talk about all those four major issues you just went through. The immigration stuff with what's going on at the border, the delegation of China on trade, the whether or not he meets with Kim Jong-un in the DMZ, and, of course, the Iran nuclear deal with Netanyahu's presentation yesterday. Four major issues dominant in this era. And what do the last 16 hours tell us? They tell us exactly what the Trump presidency is about because even though those issues are out there, we immediately hear the palace intrigue stories of the chief of staff calling him an idiot and unhinged and then, of course, these questions that Robert Mueller's team wants to ask him once again shows this is the danger for a president when you are under investigation. It subsumes. It just takes over everything else, even major issues like the ones you ticked through.

CUOMO: So help me understand this, Mr. Bottom line. How is it that the president of the United States, who has access to the best intel available, listens to Benjamin Netanyahu give that speech and says, I was 100 percent right. You see what he just said, Iran is still up to it, this deal has to go, when his secretary of defense, Mattis, says, yes, this is what was going on when the deal was put together, and all of the allies kind of yawn and say, we knew this already. And the IAEA comes out and says, we saw a lot of this stuff that Israel is showing off now already.

How is it that the president of the United States seems to jump at a conclusion that all of the intelligence people around him don't share?

CHALIAN: Well, that's not a new pattern of behavior for the president. He's more pushing a PR issue with this. He's trying to set the stage for what he may eventually do and pull out. I think he was completing the two step that Netanyahu was trying to dance with him yesterday and sort of lay the public argument groundwork. But you're -- obviously, Chris, you're totally right to point out that, in fact, much of this was known. There wasn't new information here. But that's never going to stop Donald Trump from touting that it justifies his case.

CAMEROTA: And, David, we have a graphic of at least 40 of the questions that Robert Mueller's team would ask the president.


CAMEROTA: I mean this comes from the leaked list of questions that "The New York Times" obtained. They seem to be notes perhaps that President Trump's legal team took after talking to Robert Mueller's investigators. So what's your thinking on why this is happening and what the upshot is?

CHALIAN: Again, now I'm just speculating here, but reading between the lines, you're right to note, as "The New York Times" reported, so this was a readout to the Trump legal team, and yet "The New York Times" obtained it from someone not on -- currently on Trump's legal team. So it does seem, though, how could this not come from somewhere in Trump's orbit.

So if it's being leaked from somewhere in Trump's orbit and then the president is tweeting that it's terrible that it's leaked, I asked the question, well, what's going on here? It seems to me that maybe somebody in his orbit, we know there are many people who do not think he should sit down with Robert Mueller despite his saying that he would like to do so, they think they are maybe plotting the groundwork here and laying it out for the president to move from, yes, I'd like to sit down with him, to, I'm not going to do an interview. And it seems to me that this may be part of that public strategy to lead the president to a justified way in their minds to say, I'm not going to sit down and do an interview.

CUOMO: You think he does an interview or no?

CHALIAN: You know, I don't know the answer to that. But I'll tell you, reading those questions, you can see why his legal team would be so concerned about it. It is so far reaching. It is every possible avenue. And if you look at President Trump's ability -- abilities in answering questions about anything, if I was his lawyer, and I'm not a lawyer, I would be very concerned about him sitting down and answering these questions because of just how broad the scope is.

CAMEROTA: All right, David Chalian, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

CUOMO: Well, how about some Friday "Good Stuff" on this fake Friday Tuesday?

CAMEROTA: Let's do it. That's what the prompter promised, that it's Friday. So everyone mark your calendars.

CUOMO: Hash tag, Tuesday feels like Friday. "Good Stuff," next.


[08:58:09] CUOMO: Hey, this is a great "Good Stuff," all right.

Some generous donors helped change a Florida mom's life. Amber Williams, in a terrible car accident, left her paralyzed from the waist down. The accident making it hard for her to raise her three children who have downs syndrome.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her spirit is undaunted in the recovery so that she can get back to those kids and be a mom.


CUOMO: Now, many believe the Lord doesn't give you more than you can handle. And enter award-winning band Florida Georgia Line. They bought Amber a new wheelchair and it's allowed her to stand, which allows her to do so much more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so amazingly blessed. There's no way I would be, you know, back at work like I am and be able to take care of the boys independently so soon.


CUOMO: All right, now, she is phenomenal, OK, and she and her husband were already phenomenal. They took in these kids out of the goodness of their own heart. They were raising their kids. They were doing it together. They're incredible for the community. He came up to us in D.C. when we were there.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: And said, I just want to tell you about people who were good to me. He wasn't even talking about all that he has done for his own family and others.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: They're amazing people and so nice to see their goodness rewarded.

CAMEROTA: Right. Like, it's great that the band helped them. That is so helpful. But I could tell that they were already special people.

CUOMO: Yes. And his perspective, because I was like, wow, man, you've been given a lot to deal with. You know, your wife, with what she's dealing with and with the kids. And he was like, you know, you get what you get and, you know, you deal with it and you do the best that you can and we're fine. And I'll tell you what, they're great people and thank you so much for sharing this story.

CAMEROTA: All right, on that note, it's time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman and Poppy Harlow.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[09:00:02] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Breaking this morning, the president says he's really mad that someone leaked the questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask him. So disgraceful, he says.