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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Giuliani on Media Blitz to Clarify Daniels Payment Comments; Homes Destroyed, People Flee as Lava Flows in Hawaii; France, Britain Unhappy with Trump NRA Remarks; Trump Set to Make Dramatic Decision on Nuke Deal; Afghanistan Mosque Explosion Kills At Least 13, Wounds 30; War Reporter Survives Hit to the Face With An RPG. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired May 6, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Angering not one but two of America's most closest allies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If one person in this room had been there with a gun, the terrorists would have fled or been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Donald.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Stormy. Stop making such a big deal about this. Everyone knows it's just an act. I solved North and South Korea, why can't I solve us?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, Donald. It's too late for that. I know you don't believe in climate change but a storm is coming, baby.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning. It is May 6th. And these are the major headlines we are following right now.

Mr. President, grab your remote. Rudy Giuliani is on a media blitz this morning after the president says his new lawyer needs to get his facts straight.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And live from New York, it's Stormy surprise. The porn straw draws some laughs during her "Saturday Night Live" debut. The question is, will the president react to it?

BLACKWELL: A violent volcano threatens in Hawaii. Lava erupts in a neighborhood, tourists to rush to safety.

PAUL: And a truly inspiring story to start your Sunday. A war correspondent is with us live explaining why he returned to Afghanistan after hit in the face with a grenade.

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

(MUSIC) PAUL: Well, good morning. Rather than backing down, Rudy seems to be doubling down. He was on Fox News to say President Trump did not break any campaign finance laws by making a payment to Stormy Daniels.

BLACKWELL: And you'll remember, just days ago, the president said his new attorney would get his facts straight. So has he? Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He'll get his facts straight.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The facts? I'm still learning.

TRUMP: He started yesterday.

GIULIANI: I've on the case for two weeks. Virtually one day in comparison to other people.

TRUMP: There was no collusion with the Russians.

GIULIANI: There is no evidence of collusion with the Russians.

TRUMP: There was no obstruction.

GIULIANI: There's no evidence of obstruction of justice.

TRUMP: What they should do is look at the other side where terrible things have happened.

GIULIANI: Poor little Hillary. We've got to be nice to her. We have to -- no under oath. No Q&A. Just notes.

TRUMP: He knows it's a witch hunt.

GIULIANI: The judge in sum and substance said this is a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So hours later then, you've got this. Stormy Daniels, the porn star, on "Saturday Night Live," telling Alec Baldwin's version of Trump that she will not stop until he resigns.

Joining us live from Washington, Sarah Westwood, CNN White House reporter.

How is all of this being digested today, Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, Rudy Giuliani has spent the past few days on cleanup duty since making a bombshell claim on Wednesday night that Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 that Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election in exchange of her silence about an alleged affair. Now, Trump had denied any knowledge of her involvement in that transaction and Giuliani's comment seriously undermined his denial. Giuliani has had to walk back much what he originally said about the Stormy Daniels case and last night he had this to say about his knowledge of the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Did you misspeak or did people not interpret what you were saying? You were talking about the facts or were you talking about the law, Mr. Mayor?

GIULIANI: I'm talking about the law and the conclusion. The facts, the facts, I am still learning. I'm not an expert on the facts yet. I am getting there but I am an expert on the law, and particularly the campaign finance law, I lived under it running to president. And the fact is there is no way that the campaign finance violation of any kind, nor was it a loan. It was an expenditure. And this expenditure would have been made whether he was for president or he wasn't running for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, sources tell CNN that Giuliani's comments about the case has thrown the president's legal team into disarray and other White House staffers say they weren't consulted on what Giuliani planned to say in many of these interviews leaving much of the White House in the dark about what Giuliani might say next, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

WESTWOOD: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now, Mark O'Mara, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, and Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Gentlemen, good morning to you.

I want to start with you, we got to separate this conversation into halves because we've got an attorney. We've got a media guy. Let's talk about the attorney first, Mark.

Rudy Giuliani said there -- and let's play it. Let's play what Rudy said about his understanding of the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: The facts -- the facts, I'm still learning. This is 1.2 million documents. I've been on the case two weeks and virtually one day in comparison to other people.

[07:05:04] So I'm not an expert on the facts yet. I'm getting there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: If you're still learning the facts, why are you on television every day trying to make the case?

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First, I love Rudy. I'm a New Yorker in my heart so I get it. But to answer your question, he should not be. He literally should not be, because the only thing you have as a good attorney, defense attorney of any sort, is you need to know the law. He says he does and you need to know the facts before you talk about it.

The worse thing you can do is ever get on TV or anywhere and say something you to walk back from. The problem is it is that as you present your client, you have to know what you're talking about. You can only say that which you can defend forever more, and everything that has been said in the past two weeks is so convoluted and self- contradicting that it's got to cause problems in the way he can be believed when he is talking about his client in the future.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about Giuliani as a media profile, a media person here. Is he doing his job, which is to muddy the water but leave with the headline of no collusion, no obstruction, all legal?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think he is doing what the president wants to be doing himself, you know, coming on television and defending himself. Remember, you know, 10 days, the president called into "Fox and Friends", and that's exactly what he wants to be doing. He wants to be out there defending himself but instead, he has Rudy as a surrogate doing that.

In some ways, Rudy is acting like a surrogate, more like a talking head than as an actual lawyer. I think it goes to the old yarn about how you shouldn't hire your friends or your family because here, what the president has done is he's hired a close friend of his who ends up getting him in trouble. One of our colleagues said the other day, America's mayor has become the president's nightmare, and I think that's continuing to be true now four or five days along. Rudy is going to be back on television later today, again kind of twisting himself into a pretzel. But as much as wants to spin in the court of public opinion, and that mayor may not be effective in a court of public opinion, a court of law is just a very different matter.

BLACKWELL: So, while we have on the one side, Mark, we have -- let me stay with Brian for this, actually. We have on the one side, we've got the president's attorneys and the presidents with their three stories, Sarah Sanders has her own version and you mix them all up and maybe they come up with one. You've got on the other side, Stormy Daniels who was on "Saturday Night Live" last night, staying in front of the cameras, now pop culture feature herself.

Let's watch a portion of that performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN AS PRESIDENT TRUMP: Just tell me what do you need for this to all go away?

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: A resignation.

BALDWIN: Yes, right. Ha, ha. Being president is like doing porn, what you do, it's hard to do anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So, Brian, it appears that the American people are not punishing the president for the actual alleged affair. So what's the impact of Stormy Daniels being on television on "SNL"? Is she having some impact here?

STELTER: Well, she has become one of the most effective thorns in his side. When you think about some of the top opponents to Trump that get a lot of attention, there is some lawmakers, yes, but it's actually people like Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti. Go figure who thought we would be here 16 months into the Trump presidency.

I think what Rudy said though about the Stormy Daniels payment just doesn't add up. He said last night, this payment would have been made whether Trump was running for president or not, but we all know this alleged affair happened more than a decade ago and it was because Stormy Daniels was getting calls from media outlets and thinking about speaking out only a couple of weeks before the campaign ended that she was paid at that time. So, the idea that this would have happened this payment would have been made regardless of the campaign it just doesn't make sense.

If I can add one more point about Rudy.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

STELTER: Stormy Daniels, yes, it's a sex scandal, a payment scandal, fine. Rudy is out there on national television talking about the Americans that are being held in North Korea. He has said repeatedly they are about to be released and saying on Thursday they are released today and they haven't been released yet according to the U.S. government. Again, last night he said hopefully soon.

Why is the president's personal lawyer talking on national television talking about a really critical delicate national security matter? It just boggles the mind.

BLACKWELL: This was a conversation we had in the last hour. What are his -- what is his job description? I mean, he was wrong obviously on Thursday saying that the detainees would be released.

STELTER: Today. Hopefully, he'll be right this time butted for forbid this make the delicate situation any worse.

BLACKWELL: Mark, from the show last night, Giuliani went on to say even if this was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it fully with a payment of $35,000 a month to pay off that and other expenses. He says that wouldn't be a violation either. Is that accurate?

O'MARA: Well, I think Rudy just passed his prime, quite honestly.

[07:10:02] And taking on the massive amount of information had he to absorb. He should have hushed up. He had an opportunity to sort of come on scene maybe, and be a reasoned voice. What he said last night, to me, was more problematic. He came out and

sort of doubled down and said, again, what he did, he would have done any way -- incredibly untrue. I think coincidental if it was true. And then he said, it was for this reason, it wasn't a campaign reason, it was a campaign reason, it was a retainer.

I take retainers. You don't take retainers for other purposes and then come in afterwards and sort of sweep them altogether and say, now it makes sense. You don't have an opportunity to do that. And my god, you never go on national TV and discuss that type of information as a lawyer.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And Giuliani will be back on this morning. We'll see what he says today.

Mark O'Mara and Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

O'MARA: Thank you.

PAUL: President Trump's close friend and former chairman of his inaugural committee is apparently also on the special counsel's radar. A source tells CNN that Tom Barrack was interviewed by the Mueller team back in December. He was apparently asked about his relationship with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy chairman Rick Gates. Now, Barrack had introduced Manafort to Trump and hired Gates for Trump's inauguration. Federal investigators did not ask him about money or his relationship with the president and made it clear he was not a target of the probe.

As President Trump's legal battles in the Stormy Daniels case continue, is his newly hired attorney Rudy Giuliani adding to the chaos as Victor was just talking about? Congressman Adam Schiff joins Jake Tapper to discuss that issue on "STATE OF THE UNION". It's today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: A volcano on Hawaii's big island is spewing lava, destroying homes now, forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes. We've got details on what's happening now and what's ahead.

PAUL: And angry allies. What some world leaders are criticizing President Trump's recent comments about guns. What they want to happen, next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the risk to journalists reporting from conflict zones is huge. We'll talk to one man who was hit by an RPG in Afghanistan but went back again and again to cover the horrors of war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:16:20] BLACKWELL: The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's big island is not letting up. It's spewing rock and lava into the air and at least eight volcanic vents now, we're told, have opened up in the Lailani Estates. That's according to the U.S. Geological Survey and it's destroyed five homes. PAUL: The air quality, in fact, are so dangerous. I mean, take a

look at this, extremely high levels of sulfur dioxide in that cloud there and hundreds of people have had to evacuate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tears. A lot of tears. Saying goodbye to my house. Might have to start over at age 56. You know, that's -- that's concerning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Officials in Hawaii say the volcano is, quote, not done yet.

BLACKWELL: Two of the United States closest allies are expressing their anger and disappointment over recent comments made by President Trump. France is upset over claims the president made about the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. One hundred thirty people were killed, dozens of others injured.

But President Trump had this to say at the NRA convention. This was Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns. They took their time and gunned them down one-by-one. Boom. Come over here. Boom. Come over here. Boom.

But if one employee or just one patron had a gun or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Francois Hollande, the president of France at the time of the attacks, called the president's comments shameful and French foreign ministry is calling for respects for the victims.

And there are a lot of people in the U.K. who are angry about the president's claim that the country has a knifing or stabbing problem. At one point, the president even compared a London hospital to a war zone with blood all over the floors.

PAUL: Listen, it's no secret Arizona Senator John McCain and President Trump aren't the best of friends per se. Sources close to McCain say President Trump isn't expected to be invited to his funeral. McCain is 81, of course. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year. And we are told that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have already been asked to deliver eulogies at that funeral when it happens.

CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer with us right now, also a historian and professor at Princeton University.

I want to point out, Julian, thank you so much for being with us. I want to first get your reaction to some of the things that the president has said -- that President Trump has said about McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured, OK, I hate to tell you.

And except for one senator who came into a room at 3:00 in the morning and went like that, we would have had health care too. We would have had health care too. Think of that.

And, by the way, we are decimating Obamacare. We got a bad vote the evening. We got a bad vote the evening that we were going to terminate Obamacare. We got a bad vote. You know about that, right? That was not a nice thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Let's put it out there how unconventional this is to be having a conversation about a funeral for a man who is still with us, who is still with his family and we hope will be for quite sometime, but he is, obviously, himself, making some arrangements now and making his wishes known.

First of all, do you think that the president, based on the delicate situation that is being dealt with, with Senator McCain and his health, that it's time maybe for the president to just back off?

[07:20:07] JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we should hope this is the moment he can restrain himself. It's very hard for the president to do that. When attacked, the president likes to attack back and this is, obviously, a strong message from someone who is in this critical condition, that this is at the top of his agenda to make sure that the president won't be there at his funeral and indicates just how deep the anger runs for McCain.

I don't know if President Trump will be able to not say anything. That's often very difficult for him. But I don't think it would sit very well with many Americans, including many Republicans, if he doubles down on his attacks.

PAUL: I want to read something. There are a couple excerpts from McCain's upcoming book, "The Restless Wave". And in it, he does talk about Donald Trump, and here's what he says: I'm not sure what to make of President Trump's convictions. He threatened to deliberately kill the spouses and children of terrorists, implying that an atrocity of that magnitude would show the world America's toughness.

He went on to say, but I don't have a complaint, not one. It's been quite a ride, referring to his life, saying, I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.

What do you make of McCain's thoughts at this delicate time, himself?

ZELIZER: Well, look, looking back at his life, I think he is happy with what he has accomplished. This is a person for whom public service is the most important contribution that a citizen can make. And I think everyone would agree he has done that, both in war and both in politics. He has devoted his whole life to this.

Toward the end of his life, though, he's in this situation where he is in bitter conflict with a Republican, a member of his own party, both on policies, but also simply on the disposition of president Trump toward public service. I'd say he also, I think, feels some form of guilt in that, look, when Sarah Palin became the vice presidential pick in 2008, many think that opened the door to some of what we know is Trumpia politics. So, I think Senator McCain is wrestling with all of this at this difficult moment.

PAUL: You know, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, they didn't have strong relationships with John McCain, but how do you honor McCain's life in that moment without letting the absence of the current president from that moment?

ZELIZER: Well, I think there is moments you don't have to talk about the present situation.

PAUL: Right. But it will feel like it that.

ZELIZER: Of course. I mean, you can't have a dispute like this between a president and a sitting senator and not have it hover over discussions of that senator. You know, when Senator McCain did the thumb's down to the health care bill, that was a key moment in his career, for sure. And it made that conflict something that we will talk about in our discussions of the senator.

So, it will hover over, but he also has a very long record from the war through his service in the Senate that I think, in many ways, if done well, will overwhelm our discussions of Trump when that time comes.

PAUL: All right. Julian Zelizer, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, a journalist who was hit in the face by an RPG in Afghanistan did not give up his passion for the profession. In fact, he went back to the war zone. We will talk with him in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:28:35] BLACKWELL: President Trump has less than a week to decide if the U.S. will leave the Iran nuclear deal. This is the 2015 agreement between the U.S. and Iran, China, France, Russia, Britain, the European Union. This is an exchange for reducing the number of centrifuges, which are the machines used to process uranium for nuclear weapons, major cuts to stockpiles of weapons grades uranium, and unprecedented inspections, crippling U.N. sanctions would be waived and more than $100 billion of Iran's dollars frozen as part of sanctions would be returned. Now, the president has called it the worst deal in history and earlier

this year, said he would withdraw unless what he calls major flaws are fixed.

So, what are those flaws? First, the president wants international inspectors to have immediate access to nuclear facilities. Right now, the deal gives Iran essentially weeks to allow inspectors in. The deal does not address Iran's long-range missiles program. President Trump wants to punish Iran for continuing to develop these long-range missiles which could be, at some point, used to carry nuclear weapons.

And then there is the sunsetting of some of the provisions of this deal starting in 2025.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.

[07:30:01] We got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short term and temporary delay in Iran's path to nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In seven years, Iran will be able to enrich its uranium and most of the provisions will expire and the president thinks limits on Iran's enrichment program should be permanent. And then there is Iran's funding of terror. The deal does not address that either.

Supporters of the deal say that this deal was designed to deal with just one problem, preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and arguably its biggest supporter in the U.S., former President Barack Obama says this deal puts the U.S. and the world in the best position for this deal and beyond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If 99 percent of the world's community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say, this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, and you are arguing either that it does not or that even if it does, it's temporary, or that because they are going to get a windfall of their accounts being unfrozen that they will cause more problems, then you should have some alternative to present. And I haven't heard that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now, CNN political commentator and conservative talk show radio host, Ben Ferguson, and former south regional director of Obama 2012, Tharon Johnson.

Good morning to both of you.

THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Ben, I've got to start with you. After criticizing this so harshly during the campaign, throughout his administration, I mean, how would the president stay in the deal politically? Do you expect he will leave?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via telephone): Look, I think he is going to be able to leave on this and I think the president understands there are certain things you have to call out when they are not working. I also think that you have to realize every time this comes up you need to look at do you have leverage? Do you need something to change? If something is going to change, how do you change it? And is there the capital for things to change?

And I think that's one of the reasons why you've seen a lot of conversations about this back and forth with other leaders, and this president. And this is always a calculation that you have to be -- you have to change with, you have to be calculated with and that I think one of the reasons why you have so many people that have been looking at this saying, look, the president -- this is always negotiable. This is something that we should -- all Americans should want us to be looking at and do we have the best deal to get our hands on, do we have the best deal for us and are we able to verify what they are doing is correct and accurate.

So, I think this is constantly moving to this president and this administration because let's be clear, Iran is not the most forthcoming country when it comes to what they are doing and the information that Netanyahu this past week put out there I think was very damaging to them and it was a way to call for the rest of the world they are not doing necessarily everything they claim they are doing in this deal.

BLACKWELL: Tharon, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week, it's not the end of the world if the U.S. leaves the deal, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that it's not even the end of the deal if the president does not waive or sign on the 12th of this month, the waiver of the sanctions. It doesn't equate leaving the deal.

Is that plausible?

JOHNSON: Yes, it is plausible and as Ben just pointed out, this is a fluid process. One of the things that President Trump has talked about is basically making sure that we protect our homeland, to make sure that Iran continues to honor the deal in which they entered into. But I think that this is an ongoing process and understanding if he does not sign this extension or doesn't move forward on this, this is not the end of the world.

One thing I can say about President Trump, I do think that in his heart that he definitely wants to make sure that this deal is done right and if he lets go some of the rhetoric around who actually constructed the deal, his predecessor and President Obama and take the politics out of, I think he will put America first and I think we will continue to be feel very protected. BLACKWELL: Tharon, let me ask you about one more thing, this is a

reporting from "The Boston Globe" in which they say the former Secretary of State John Kerry who negotiated this deal back in 2015 is doing some shadow diplomacy in which "The Globe" reports that in recent weeks, Kerry spoken or met with the Iranian foreign minister, the presidents of France and Germany, the E.U. foreign policy chief, one government at a time, right? I mean, this is what Michael Flynn got in trouble for.

Should the former secretary of state be working behind the scenes while there is a secretary of state?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, Secretary Kerry spent a lot of time, I mean, spent years, Victor, working on this deal, and it's something he is very proud of. It's a part of his legacy and President Obama's legacy.

Now I'm not going to get into whether a secretary should be having meetings or having conversations when they are out of office.

[07:35:05] It's happened before. But I do know that Secretary Kerry understands that it is one government at a time, it's one president at a time, and it's definitely one secretary at a time. So, I think that his intentions are good but he definitely is not trying to interfere with this president's process and continue to protect the homeland.

BLACKWELL: All right. It seems like he is meeting with the right people to try to convince them to see if they can stay in this deal. So, we'll see if we hear from the former secretary there.

Tharon Johnson and Ben Ferguson, thank you both.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Christi?

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the waffle house hero says he is still waiting to hear from President Trump despite Sarah Sanders saying the White House planned to invite him for a visit. James Shaw Jr. sat down with CNN's Van Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Have you heard yet from President Trump?

JAMES SHAW JR., WRESTLED GUN AWAY FROM SHOOTER: At this time, I haven't heard anything, but it's not to say he didn't try to contact me or not. So, I haven't heard anything.

JONES: So, he hasn't successfully contacted you, but he gave a shout- out to Kanye today. No shout-out to you.

How do you feel when the president of the United States misses an opportunity to hold up, you know, somebody who is trying to do good stuff like you? SHAW: I know he has a busy agenda and a busy schedule. Maybe he

hasn't got around it me and maybe my time is coming. It's not for me to judge really what he does. It's just, you know, I did what I did and I didn't really do it for recognition. I did it just to save my life, honestly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Tennessee lawmakers recognized James last week with a resolution praising, quote, his brave actions.

You know, we are hearing reports of yet another bombing in Afghanistan. We have a war reporter with us next. He was once wounded by Taliban fighters and he is talking with us about why he still feels this drive to go back to that country. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:41:09] PAUL: I want to introduce you to somebody pretty extraordinary, war correspondent Carmen Gentile. He was on assignment in Afghanistan talking to a group of young Afghans when he suddenly saw their eyes go wide. He turned to look and then he saw what they were seeing, a shoulder launched rocket propelled grenade heading straight for him.

I do want to forewarn you here, his video is tough to watch.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

PAUL: That projectile hit him right in the face. It did not explode but it was followed by a long process of recovery, several surgeries. Believe it or not, several more trips to Afghanistan.

Carmen Gentile is with us right now. He's also the author of "Blindsided by the Taliban".

Carmen, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate having you here.

CARMEN GENTILE, JOURNALIST: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

PAUL: Absolutely. I want to get your take on breaking news we're hearing out of Afghanistan this hour, in fact. There has been another bombing there. At least 13 people have been killed in a mosque that was also being used as a voter registration center, we understand.

So, when you hear that and you've been there and have been in the mix of this, your first thoughts for the people there, for what happens from this point on.

GENTILE: This devastation that the Afghan people endure day after day is a modern day tragedy that continues to plague these people and as it has for generations now. Coupled with what happened in Kabul recently, the bombing that was followed up by a secondary attack when people had gathered to report on that bombing, the brave Afghan men and women who work as journalists there, is monstrous and it breaks my heart.

PAUL: Help us understand the people of Afghanistan since we are not there, obviously, in the capacity you are. You have a lot of insight that I'm sure you can give us.

GENTILE: Well, regarding the aforementioned atrocities that they have to endure every single day, people that I've met, particularly in rural Afghanistan, who live lives of subsistence farming and other agriculture, who live in these very difficult places in the mountains or in the deserts in southern Afghanistan, they are the hardiest people that I have ever met. They have a courage of conviction that I will never come close to understanding fully as I would my own.

PAUL: Do you consider them friends?

GENTILE: Absolutely. I have had a number of -- made some really good friends there. In fact, among the Afghan journalists that I know working in Kabul, I was very concerned about their well-being after that recent bombing and I was reaching out to them and making sure that they were OK. So --

PAUL: And they were?

GENTILE: Yes, they were.

PAUL: OK. I know that since you were hit, you've had a total of four surgeries, I think.

GENTILE: Correct.

PAUL: And that has left, is it 12 pins in your face? Is that right?

GENTILE: Right. I have 12 pins and four plates on the side of my face and I have a corrective lens that stitched on my eye that refocuses a little bit and I still have difficulty seeing out of it and it's blurry and my eyeball is fixed -- the pupil's fix dilated so that everything out of this eye is bright.

PAUL: Wow. After that experience of being hit, after everything you've seen there and after everything we even heard this morning about what's happening there right now, what gives you the wherewithal to say, "I need to go back there"?

GENTILE: No, I didn't want what happened to me to define the rest of my life and I knew that I didn't want to be the kind of -- the kind of reporter that I wanted to be. I wasn't going to be one I could sit behind a desk and work indoors. I'm an outside person.

I felt as though if I wanted to get back some of what I had lost that I needed to go back and resume the work that I love doing.

PAUL: And what do you love about that work? What -- when you go back, what stories intentionally do you want us to know about?

GENTILE: I'm always interested in talking to people one-on-one. I am not the kind of person that tells the story from 30,000 feet. I'm really not interested in talking to leaders or generals. I like talking to young men and women, be they U.S. soldiers, Afghan soldiers, civilians, and hearing their stories and telling their stories in a way that people can relate to them and hopefully from that, draw a bigger picture about what it is that the people of Afghanistan and the U.S. men and women that are serving there are going through.

PAUL: You know, I remember several years ago, many years ago, Christiane Amanpour, of course, has been in some very dicey situations herself at the correspondent, and she had her child and she was asked about that. She said, you know, once you have a child, I think have you a responsibility to stay alive. You have a 2-year-old daughter.

Do you feel that same responsibility? And how do you balance fatherhood with this very dangerous job?

GENTILE: It's difficult. I like to say that there are two kinds of risks. There are calculated risks and there are foolish risks. And never was one to take what I thought were foolish risks but now I'm extra careful not to take those kind of risks because she is always on my mind.

And covering these types of stories where I see a lot of suffering by civilians and particularly when I see children, it hits me even harder now. So --

PAUL: Well, Carmen Gentile, we're glad that you're OK.

GENTILE: Thank you.

PAUL: We thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. And again, his book is "Blindsided By the Taliban." Thank you for sharing your story.

GENTILE: Thank you very much.

PAUL: Absolutely. Take good care.

GENTILE: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Well, a stormy scandal that the White House can't get out from under. Stormy Daniels trolling the president with a surprise appearance on "SNL" last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: I solved North and South Korea. Why can't I solve us?

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: Sorry, Donald. It's too late for that. I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm is a coming, baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:52:20] BLACKWELL: Stormy Daniels made a surprise appearance on "SNL."

PAUL: Yes, the other cast of characters, they were there as well. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is everyone on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, can we please just decide on one line and stick to it because our stories are all over the place?

BALDWIN: Guys, hold that thought. I'm getting a call from work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, I have lost all credibility. Did you lie to me about the Stormy Daniels affair?

BALDWIN: Yes, that sounds like something I would do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, good, just as long as we're on the same page. I'm good to go. See you Monday.

BALDWIN: OK, I'm back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, can we hurry this up. I'm supposed to do 24 more talk show appearances today and I'm trying to make it like an advent calendar, where I reveal one new crime in each show.

BALDWIN: Call up Stormy Daniels and fix this once and for all, and maybe keep me on the phone, too. I'll just be quiet and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy, this is Michael Cohen. Are you alone?

DANIELS: Yes.

BALDWIN: What are you wearing?

DANIELS: Excuse me.

BALDWIN: OK, Michael, I can take it from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, but as your attorney, I highly advise against you --

BALDWIN: So what up, girl?

DANIELS: Hello, Donald.

BADLWIN: Come on, Stormy. Stop making such a big deal about this. Everyone knows it's just an act.

DANIELS: I work in adult films. We are not really known for our acting. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Anyone else wondering when this is going to stop? Although I will say Kate McKinnon --

BLACKWELL: Everybody, raise your hand.

PAUL: Kate McKinnon can do anything, I think.

BLACKWELL: She can.

PAUL: The talent, my goodness, the talent.

You know what? Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us. We hope you make really good memories today.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" comes up after a quick break.