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Giuliani Throws Wrench Into Trump Legal Team's Plans; NYT: Trump Considers U.S. Troop Reduction in South Korea; King James Continues Reign in "Lebronto". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: -- or taken a flame thrower to it, depending on how you see it.

[05:00:03] Multiple sources tell CNN Trump's other legal advisers felt blindsided, angry and confused when Giuliani revealed the president reimbursed his lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen for a hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. That remark contradicted previous explanations by the president and by Cohen.

Giuliani told CNN Thursday he and the president are on the same page and aiming to, quote, get everything done and wrapped up with so it doesn't take on a life of its own.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: But the White House is struggling to explain after the president spent months denying he knew anything about the hush money or the reimbursement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The president did talk about monthly retainers in the tweet and then Rudy Giuliani said the president only knew about this ten days to two weeks ago. How can you be aware of something ten days to two weeks ago, but in the same time, in the process paying retainers that cover the reimbursement to Michael Cohen?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I can't get into the details of the ongoing litigation. I refer to you the president's outside counsel.

REPORTER: Just a follow up on. You said on March 7th, there was no knowledge of payments from the president. And he's denied all of the allegations. Were you lying to us at the time or were you in the dark?

SANDERS: The president has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim. And again, I have given the best information I had at the time.

REPORTER: Why can't you state you were in the dark? I think it's a fairly simple question.

SANDERS: I think it's a fairly simple answer that I've given you actually several times now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On Thursday, the president confirmed the hush payment and the reimbursement in the series of very carefully crafted, in my view, tweets, right? While also denying any connection to his presidential campaign. A source says the president's legal team is, quote, calling it one play at a time.

To help break this all down, let's bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin via Skype from Los Angeles.

Good morning.

So many legal questions here. After months, contradictions, now, Rudy Giuliani trying to get ahead of this and saying this is not a campaign finance violation. Does it look like campaign finance violation to you?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Christine, such a stunning disclosure and done in such an odd way. You have a legal team that's working on the matter. We know there is a civil lawsuit pending in the federal court in California. We know there's the federal investigation that's happening with respect to Michael Cohen and the payment to Stormy Daniels is part of the investigation.

So, to have Rudy Giuliani go on Fox, Sean Hannity's show, and really in a rather casual way make this huge disclosure I think caught as we were hearing from the White House everyone off guard. And then his attempts to try to paint this narrative as if it is not any kind of federal crime or doesn't violate the law in any way was -- I don't think accomplishes that, particularly when you look at later statements made by Stormy Daniels owe attorney Michael Avenatti who disclosed last night that he has information himself from the files and conversations with Keith Davidson, who's Stormy's former lawyer, that indeed Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson had extensive conversation, exchanges about that payment being made in a timely way to avoid the story of the alleged aware between Trump and Daniels coming out prior to the 2016 election.

BRIGGS: Not just prior, just days before the election. It is the timing that is pivotal here. And it wasn't just revelation on Hannity, it was how Rudy Giuliani explained it the following morning on "Fox & Friends." We'll play that for you and Jeffrey Toobin's reaction. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP LAWYER: Imagine it coming out on October 15th in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To make it go away, they made this --

GIULIANI: Cohen made it go away. He did his job.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: That's a confession that this is a campaign finance violation because they wanted to shut her up in October of 2016. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So then what?

TOOBIN: That's why the payment was made then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The affair was in 2006.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: The payment and NDA was 2016 because there was an election. How is that not campaign related? Areva?

MARTIN: Well, that's the very point. No one believes the story being spun by Rudy Giuliani. In fact, the facts suggest that it is indeed a campaign violation because the payment was done to influence the election. That's the part that Rudy fails to mention.

He tries to make a distinction around the money, the source of the money. And his argument because this was Trump's personal money, wasn't paid from campaign funds, wasn't from a corporation, that somehow it can't be a campaign violation because it was his personal funds.

[05:05:11] But the law doesn't just focus on the source of the money. The law focuses on the intent of the payment. And in this case, based on Giuliani's own statement and now Michael Avenatti's statement that he has evidence about the reason for the payment, it flies in the face, I think, of credulity to suggest that this wasn't done -- this payment wasn't made in the influence the outcome of the election.

ROMANS: And I should correct myself. I said the affair was in 2006, and the NDA and the payment were in 2016. You know, the president is still denying the affair. They are saying he is still denying the affair.

BRIGSS: A key point.

ROMANS: An important distinction.

BRIGGS: And she once denied it on paper, too.

ROMANS: That's right. And that's something they bring up often.

All right. Thank you so much, Areva. That's fascinating.

That's legal analyst, now to discuss the politics, joining us from Washington is Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist of Horizon Investments.

What does this do to the political landscape here? It sounds as though Giuliani was trying to get ahead of this and make sure this didn't have a life of its own, as they said. But this is -- we are in day two.

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST: He gave life to other stories, including why did Trump fire Comey? Giuliani said basically Comey wouldn't tell the president whether he was being investigated or not. You can make a case of obstruction of justice based on that quote.

I have to tell you, in this town, in the last week, Trump has had still another one of the worst weeks of his presidency, more and more people are talking about impeachment. Proceedings beginning this winter if the House flips to the Democrats, I don't think you cannot get 67 votes in the Senate to convict. But more and more people are thinking this is ultimate end of this is an impeachment proceeding. This is not a great story for the financial markets.

BRIGGS: It is hard to fathom that in 2019, we could be talking impeachment and Nobel Prize simultaneously. That is extraordinary.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: That is impossible.

Here is what "The Wall Street Journal" said about the developments on the Korean peninsula, because the president could broker a peace deal in the next couple of months removing nukes from North Korea. "The Wall Street Journal" says Mr. Trump is compiling the record of few will believe him during a genuine crisis after speaking with Robert Mueller or a nuclear showdown with Kim Jong-un. Mr. Trump should worry that Americans will stop believing anything he says.

And once again, these stories are interrelated because, of course, the Stormy Daniels affair is blatant proof that the credibility of the president is nothing these days. He stared at the American public or the reporters, depending on how you see it, and said, I don't know anything about this payment. You'll have to ask Michael Cohen about it.

How does this matter when you look at international relations?

VALLIERE: How do you brief the press? How does Sarah Sanders brief the press? Because she knows she was lied to here. So, credibility, you're absolutely right, Dave, is a big, big issue, as we go into late 2018 and into 2019.

And, you know, people understand the sex scandal. Maybe people can figure that out more. This is nothing compared to the Mueller investigation which is still ramping up. I think leading toward indictments in the next couple months.

ROMANS: Moving forward today, the optics are the NRA. The president speak for the second time at the NRA. That is one chance to change the story line if he can stay on script.

There's also in three and a half hours, the jobs report, which should be good. This is a good story for the administration. It gets overshadowed by the self-made dumpster fires.

VALLIERE: Absolutely, Christine. Economic fundamentals are good. Inflation is fairly well controlled. Corporate earnings are great. And the markets I think would normally rally on this stuff. I think the markets now are getting unnerved by two stories. One, the

possibility of impeachment which we talked about and second, I don't think there is imminent resolution of the China trade dispute. I think that goes on for a while. So, the market has things to worry about despite really good economic fundamentals.

ROMANS: Our Matt Rivers was reporting preliminary word from the Chinese side saying they are looking at market access. They would look at intellectual property issues. But you know think that it's going to be brinksmanship on the trade front.

I mean, the president's base wants tariffs. They want -- you know, they want to see the president tough on China.

VALLIERE: I think his delegation will lead China saying we made some progress. You know, we have some understandings. But getting the details ironed out is going to take a long time.

BRIGGS: Won't the Chinese give some symbolic win to take something home?

[05:10:00] VALLIERE: I think so, maybe access to U.S. financial firms, insurance terms, maybe some assurances on intellectual property theft. But in terms of getting a deal in print, that's -- the devil is in the details.

ROMANS: It always is. All right. Greg, come back in a few minutes.

VALLIERE: All right.

ROMANS: So much to talk about this morning. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Republican lawmakers in Missouri will convene a special legislative session later this month to consider impeaching embattled GOP Governor Eric Greitens. Statehouse and Senate leaders announcing the extraordinary move Thursday.

There has been mounting pressure on the governor to resign over two criminal felony charges against him. Greitens also faces three separate investigations into his conduct. Missouri's Republican house speaker says they will not avoid doing what is right just because it is hard.

ROMANS: Mandatory evacuations underway right now in Hawaii as the Kilauea volcano erupts releasing lava into a residential subdivision. The evacuations affecting 1,700 people, almost 800 structures threatened.

A woman who safely evacuated took this video for us. Look at the distance on the street. You can see, well, that's lava bubbling up in the street. The governor has now expedited relief efforts and activated the Hawaiian National Guard to help with security.

The Red Cross has opened two shelters. Eruption comes after earthquakes rocked the area since Monday. Those quakes have now slowed down. BRIGGS: Extraordinary pictures there.

All right. Is the U.S. preparing to drawdown troops in South Korea? New reporting this morning ahead of nuclear talks with Pyongyang. We are live in Seoul, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:15:39] BRIGGS: All right. It's 5:15 Eastern Time. There's big news, folks.

Listen up, Twitter urging all of its 336 million users to change their passwords after it discovered a glitch causing passwords to be saved unprotected on its internal computer systems. The company says there is no evidence passwords were leaked or misused. The issue has been resolved, but it would say when the bug was discovered or how long it had been storing passwords incorrectly.

Twitter's CEO says it was important to be open about the internal defect and their chief technology officer tweeted an apology.

ROMANS: Arizona school teachers return to the classrooms one day after the governor signed an education funding bill that gives them a 20 percent pay raise by year 2020, including a 10 percent hike in the upcoming school year. The new measure also increases funding for support staff and new textbooks, upgraded technology and much needed infrastructure. The president of the Arizona Education Association says she is proud of the deal which ends a six-day walkout.

BRIGGS: National security adviser John Bolton meets with the South Korea's national security chief today in Washington, laying the ground work for President Trump's planned summit with Kim Jong-un. Now the focus will be on location, which is still up in the air, and on broader elements of the talks. This as "The New York Times" reports the president is ordering the Pentagon to prepare options for reducing the number of U.S. troops in South Korea.

CNN's Alexandra Field live in Seoul for us. Alex, what's the reaction there about this reporting?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Dave.

Well, South Korea's national security chief says that he's been told directly by an official in Washington that it isn't true, that the president isn't looking at that. A source close to the White House familiar with the administration says that this is something the president could look well into the future after nuclear weapons were verifiably gone, absent from the peninsula in their entirety.

But the question has been raised as you look at the possibility of the peace treaty that would formally bring to an end the Korean War in 65 years after the fighting ended. Would there be a need to maintain the 30,000 U.S. troops that are currently stationed on the Korean peninsula?

Well, the president has complained about the cost of that in the past and just this week, South Korean officials tied the necessity of having these troops on the peninsula to broader issues of regional security and stability.

Of course, this is all background in the run-up to the big talk that could happen between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. More ground work for that now being laid between South Korea and United States. At the same time, Kim Jong-un has been talking to the Chinese foreign minister reaffirming commitment to total denuclearization.

The question before that big summit is whether or not North Korea will have another show of good faith and if they could release three detainees, three American prisoners held inside North Korea. Within the last day, the administration had indicated there could be big developments which sparked hope for the families. But at this point, not clear of the timing on release. Certainly, though, a lot of reason to be optimistic that this would be an opportune moment for North Korea to make that release happen -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: Sure would. Alexandra Field live for us in Seoul this morning -- thank you.

All right. We have seen this movie before. So too have the Toronto Raptors. Andy Scholes with the latest LeBron explosion in the "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:23:23] BRIGGS: King James reign over the Raptors. It doesn't like it will be ending anytime soon. He was dominant last night.

ROMANS: Yes, Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, LeBron, it was just ridiculous watching that last night. He just owned Toronto. It was so bad at one point, the play-by-play guy welcomed everyone back to the broadcast to Lebronto.

LeBron eliminated the Raptors the past two seasons, but this year, it was supposed to be different. Toronto was the one seed in the East. Home court in the series. It hasn't mattered.

LeBron ripping the hearts of the out fans with fade away after fade away. He finished the game with 43 points and 14 assists. First time that has been done in playoff history. Cavs easily win 128-110.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: The ball was popping. Everybody felt comfortable. No matter at home or on the road, that's how you want to play.

KEVIN LOVE, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: You could just sense it. I mean, you know, he knew what was at stake. He knew another one here at their place was going to be huge for us. He came out and he played that way from the jump tonight. And like I said, you could sense that he was going to have a special night early on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. Patriots owner Robert Kraft chatting it up with rappers Meek Mill and Gucci Mane before game two between the Celtics and Sixers last night. And Philly had a 22-point lead in the second quarter, but you just can't count out the young Celtics. Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum leading the comeback.

[05:25:01] Boston would come back to win this one, 108-103, take a 2-0 lead in the series. Sixers star Ben Simmons did not show up in this one. He had one point in the game.

All right. Stanley Cup playoffs. Predators looking to even their series with the Jets. Goaltender Pekka Rinne with one of the best saves you'll ever see. Check it out in slow motion. He stops the puck with the knob of the stick. Just incredible. Nashville win this one, 2-1. That series now tied at 2 games apiece.

Now, finally, the White Sox beating the Twins last night, thanks to a walk-off home run by Trace Thompson. The younger brother of Warriors guard Klay Thompson, you know, usually when you do that, you get attacked at the plate by your teammates with water and whatnot. Check out Yolmer Sanchez. He dumps the water cooler on himself at home plate before joining in on the fun.

Never before seen that in Major League Baseball. Dumping it on yourself and then celebrating with your team. That's a fun young team. Usually you are trying to avoid the water.

BRIGGS: I want to see a coach do that, you know? Take it himself.

Andy Scholes, thank you, my friend. Have a great weekend.

SCHOLES: You too, guys.

ROMANS: All right. The shifting story on the Stormy Daniels payment leaving the White House with no good answers. Did Rudy Giuliani's admission of reimbursement put the president in more legal jeopardy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)