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Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal to Be Announced Today; New York Attorney General Resigns Amidst Allegations; White House: Giuliani Brings 'Added Value' to Trump Legal Team. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 8, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will now face top-seeded Tampa Bay. Huge night for Washington.

[07:00:10] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sounds like it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell that's where I'm from.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I noticed the enthusiasm.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Been waiting a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a huge time. It's like your Jets, but we don't have to talk about that.

CUOMO: Except you're actually happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. You've got time. Plenty of time.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

All right. So we're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Donald Trump is just hours away from making what could be the most critical national security decision of his presidency.

The president is widely expected to end a waiver of sanctions against Iran, against pleas from U.S. allies. If he does that, that's basically the give on the historic nuclear deal. If that's gone in terms of U.S. commitment, the deal may well fall apart.

So the question of whether the president will comply with any requests by the special counsel to come in for an interview is also on the table. And we're hearing it could come to a head soon. Sources say some inside the White House are balking at Rudy Giuliani's media blitz.

CAMEROTA: OK. And there's much more news. At this hour, polls are open in four states for the first Super Tuesday of the primary season, including West Virginia. President Trump, in an unusual move, is urging his supporters in that state not to vote for the Republican, former coal executive and ex-con Don Blankenship. White House sources say the administration fears that Blankenship could be Roy Moore on steroids because of racist remarks he's made.

And we're also following breaking news. New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, an outspoken champion of the #MeToo movement, resigning after allegations of violence by several women.

Let's begin with our coverage. CNN's Abby Phillip is live at the White House for us. What's the latest there this morning, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.

Today the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is hanging in the balance. President Trump's slated to make an announcement about his decision at 2 p.m., but all signs point to President Trump withdrawing from the deal and essentially ignoring the pleas of U.S. allies that the U.S. should remain in it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump expected to effectively walk away from the Iran nuclear deal this afternoon after criticizing the pact for years.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a bad deal. It's a bad structure. It's falling down. Should have never, ever been made.

PHILLIP: The decision follows an orchestrated lobbying campaign by some of America's closest European allies, who have encouraged Mr. Trump to remain in the deal.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We think that what you can do is be tougher on Iran, address the concerns of the president, and not throw the baby out with the bath water. Plan B does not seem to me to be particularly well-developed at this stage.

PHILLIP: The International Atomic Energy Energy has repeatedly found that Iran is complying with the terms of Obama-era pact. And a new CNN poll shows that nearly two thirds of Americans think the U.S. should not withdraw. Still, the president's supporters argue that leaving the deal is necessary to confront Iran's hostile behavior in the Middle East.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The whole premise that this deal somehow guarantees a safer, more moderate Iran is wrong. If you got rid of it, the first thing that would happen is you would crash Iran's money machine, in which it's pursuing its dreams of a conquesting empire.

PHILLIP: One European diplomat tells CNN that the Trump administration appears intent on renegotiating a second deal while working on agreements to address Tehran's missile program and Iran's support of terror groups, but Iran's foreign minister rejecting this proposal.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER: We will neither outsource our security. Nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.

PHILLIP: The Iran deal front and center at the White House as deliberations over a potential interview between the president and special counsel continue behind the scenes.

Sources tell CNN that several White House officials are not happy with Rudy Giuliani's ongoing media blitz, comparing his performance to that of former communications director Anthony Scaramucci. For now, officials say that Giuliani still has the president's blessing, but multiple outlets now reporting that Mr. Trump's frustration is growing.

Giuliani rejecting the characterization, telling Politico, "If I'm not up to it, I don't know who is."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president pleased with the appearances of Rudy Giuliani over the last few days?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I didn't speak with him specifically about his feelings about it, but certainly feels that he's an added member -- added value member to his outside special counsel.

PHILLIP: Giuliani telling "The Wall Street Journal" that the president's lawyers have set a May 17 deadline to decide about a potential interview, but sources tell CNN there is no firm deadline, another sign of a fissure within the president's legal team.

[07:05:03] "The Journal" reporting that during an informal four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump's lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions, due to the frequent interruptions and the president's talkative nature.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Well, the nomination battles continue for this administration today. The president's nominees to be the next CIA director, Gina Haspel, is heading back to Capitol Hill today for some more meetings. The White House is really pushing hard to try to shore up some support for her after lawmakers have expressed concerns about her role in the past CIA enhanced interrogation programs, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Abby, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

We do have some breaking news now. New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, a prominent adversary of President Trump and a champion of the women -- of women in the #MeToo movement, he has resigned hours ago after allegations of physical abuse from four women.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us with all the breaking details. You know, sometimes we use the word shocking in this news cycle. These allegations are shocking.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, a dramatic fall from grace, that's for sure. And we're talking about allegations of physical and verbal abuse. Slapping, strangling to the point two women say they had to go to the hospital. One woman says Schneiderman called her a whore.

The allegations made by four women in total and paint two very different pictures of a man who until now has been regarded as a champion for women in the #MeToo movement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS (voice-over): New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, abruptly resigning three hours after "The New Yorker" published an article detailing abuse allegations from four different women. Two of the women, who were romantically involved with Schneiderman, speaking to the magazine on the record, saying that the attorney general would, quote, "repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent."

Neither woman filed a police report, but both say they sought medical attention after being slapped and choked, the article stated.

The women also accusing Schneiderman of verbal and emotional abuse. Tanya Selvaratnam, who dated Schneiderman from the summer of 2016 until last fall, telling "The New Yorker" that the former attorney general, quote, "started calling me his brown slave and demanding that I repeat that I was 'his property'."

Schneiderman denying the accusations, insisting, quote, "In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for his resignation and, within an hour, the attorney general stepped down. Quote, "While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time."

Schneiderman's resignation, a dramatic fall from grace for a public official widely considered to be a champion for women's rights.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, OUTGOING NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Are we ready to fight against male supremacy in all its forms?

GINGRAS: As attorney general, Schneiderman, who is not married, was at the forefront of the #MeToo movement, leading the legal charge against Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company.

SCHNEIDERMAN: We have never seen anything as despicable as what we've seen here. A pervasive pattern of sexual harassment, intimidation, discrimination and abuse at the Weinstein Company.

GINGRAS: Schneiderman has also been a fierce critic of President Trump and his policies, bringing more than 100 actions over everything from the DREAMer program to potential presidential pardons.

SCHNEIDERMAN: When bullies step up, you have to step to them and step to them quickly; and that's what we're here to do today. GINGRAS: In 2013, Schneiderman sued Trump for fraud over Trump

University, resulting in a $25 million settlement.

The president's allies are celebrating Schneiderman's resignation, Donald Trump Jr. retweeting this 2013 message from Mr. Trump, predicting that Schneiderman will be next, asking, "Is he a crook? Wait and see. Worse than Spitzer or Wiener."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: The Manhattan district attorney's office says it has opened an investigation into Schneiderman's conduct. His replacement will be selected immediately by New York state assembly and senate via joint ballot, guys. Incredible accusations.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Brynn. Thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Let's discuss it now with CNN political analyst and editor in chief of "The Daily Beast," John Avlon; and CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza.

John Avlon, it doesn't get darker than this. It just does not. These accusations that these women have lodged against him, I mean, with such specificity, with such color. They have pictures of themselves after the abuse. They went to doctors because of it. I mean, this -- this -- they have the most credible stories you can imagine.

I just want to read one more because three of them were involved with him in romantic relationships. And after a brief courtship then things turned much darker and much uglier. He began to degrade them verbally and physically.

A fourth woman -- here it is -- "an attorney who has held prominent positions in the New York legal community, says that Schneiderman made an advance towards her. When she rebuffed him, he slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day. She recalls screaming in surprise and pain and beginning to cry and says that she felt frightened."

[07:10:13] I mean, this is in a category of domestic abuse.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, we can talk about the politics of it. We can talk about the larger conversation. But as somebody who is a champion of the #MeToo movement, this is hideous. I mean, it's just hideous that this is how his career ends.

AVLON: The hypocrisy is stunning. It's a reminder that hypocrisy is and should be the unforgivable sin in politics, and it applies even in the Trump era. For someone who's styled himself as a champion of the #MeToo movement, someone who's been very tough on Trump.

This sociopathic streak in our political figures needs to stop. And it seems to be an epidemic. These allegations are highly specific. They are ugly. They are creepy. They are cruel.

But once this article was published, and not from a conservative agenda-driven journalist but "The New Yorker," he resigned and really -- because Democrats were demanding it in New York state. That's an affirmation of standards.

But, you know, I'd like to see some folks reach political office who at least apparently try to hold themselves to a higher standard in their private life as well as their public life. That seems to be mission impossible right now, and it's pathetic. And we're better than this as a country and as a state.

CUOMO: Well the reaction was completely nonpartisan early on, right?

AVLON: Well --

CUOMO: Schneiderman was making his round of calls about how people are going to react to this in positions of power. He was getting no support. Full disclosure: obviously, the name is not a coincidence. My brother is the governor of New York. But it's not like, you know, the governor had to precipitate this. You know, this was done as soon as it -- it came out.

The question is what's next for Schneiderman in terms of legal exposure. Domestic violence with two of the girlfriends. That's something that is going to be taken very seriously. They might have some statute of limitations issues there. But this fourth woman who came out, the prominent lawyer whose name isn't out there for reasons of fear, that could be an act of criminal exposure.

And we saw that in his statement, Chris Cillizza. He gave a statement that would have been, at best, a legal defense.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes.

CUOMO: This was consensual. But it was certainly never going to be acceptable.

CILLIZZA: That's exactly right. And I think we always have to separate in these instances, political consequence and legal consequence.

The political consequence, I read the first five paragraphs of the story and thought, if he survives politically the next 24 hours, I'd be surprised, particularly given the hypocrisy and the seriousness of the allegations. I think Alisyn used the word "grim." I mean, it is rough stuff in there.

Legally, you have him saying, "I'm leaving, but I'm not leaving because I'm -- do not take my resignation as an admission. I didn't do these things. This was" -- that's the legal piece. He's at least trying, and Chris as a lawyer, you know this better than me, but he's at least trying to protect himself or set up a legal defense.

But politically speaking, this was a -- this was a done deal the second -- that article published at 6:47 p.m. last night. At 6:48 p.m., this was -- it was headed in that direction, whether he resigned three hours later or three days later.

CAMEROTA: Kellyanne Conway, the president's counselor to -- top counselor, seized on this. So, when Schneiderman had tweeted earlier in his career, you know, months ago, "No one is above the law and I'll continue to remind President Trump and his administration of that fact every day," as we've said, he was a vocal adversary of the president's.

Kellyanne Conway tweeted last night at 9:11, "Gotcha."

So I understand the political vendetta that is, I guess, being expressed there, but obviously, there's a larger conversation, and there's a larger conversation because let's not forget --

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- that President Trump, that six women have accused him of forcibly kissing them. Six women have accused him of groping them. It's not in the category of the violence of Eric Schneiderman, but -- but President Trump isn't tweeting about this. But he's having Don Jr. and Kellyanne tweet about it, because it's complicated.

AVLON: Yes. And they're doing it in kind of a literally "gotcha" sort of dance on the political grave way, as opposed to taking the high ground and saying this kind of violence against women, you know, is unacceptable by anyone. Let alone a chief law enforcement officer, let alone someone where this is clearly a case of pattern of abuse of power and arrogance of power.

And presumably, they're not taking that tact not, because it's not the right thing to do, because they're afraid they live in a glass house or at least their principal does. That itself is sort of pathetic. This is -- demands a response that's a little bit bigger than petty politics, because the charges, the allegations themselves are really serious. And for the members of the White House staff not to take the obvious high road of saying this is something we all need to condemn.

CUOMO: Right.

AVLON: Itself is a sign of how small our politics have become.

CUOMO: Well, also, look, just the idea -- you're not wrong to call it the high road. Since when is calling out arguably illegal behavior, let alone in a domestic situation. You know, we have a cultural stigma where, "Oh, the domestic stuff, that may be more complicated." That is a problem. We have a documentary coming out about it. It's actually worse because of the pattern of how people are conditioned and why they stay in it.

[07:15:16] CAMEROTA: Oh, by the way, and the shame -- I mean, the idea that these women came from -- these were all prominent, accomplished women.

CUOMO: Yes, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: And the idea that they came forward, obviously risking their own reputations, the shame that is involved in domestic violence, that tells you the level that they got to. And in fact, they did it, they say, because they were so appalled by his hypocrisy as trying to be a #MeToo champion.

CUOMO: And you have to do the credible vetting, of course, as you do with all allegations. But the idea that they didn't come forward right away, you have to apply a different standard when it comes to domestic violence. The delay does not show a hollowness to the allegation the way ordinarily people may think in their head.

Chris Cillizza, let me ask you about something else that just popped on the political radar. John Kerry is no longer an officer of the U.S. government, as far as I know. There are a lot of reports, not denied by him, that he is still doing negotiations, shadow talks, whatever you want to put on it, with foreign powers about the Iran nuclear deal. The president complained that that's a violation of the Logan Act.

Here's something that John Kerry said just today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The best thing the administration can do is say, "Look, we don't like the deal, but we're going to stay in it. But we're telling you right now you've got to deal with these problems, and we're going to work with our European friends to make sure you do. And if you Don't do it within this period of time, then there may be some consequences."

But to play your hand and get out, take away some leverage, give them an excuse to go do other things, that's good negotiation? Please. It doesn't make sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: He can criticize the politics, but if it's true that he's been talking to foreign powers about the deal, is there exposure for John Kerry?

CILLIZZA: I mean, potentially. I don't think that that's anything that's going to get prosecuted in my meaningful way.

But I do think that Democrats need to take a hard look. Donald Trump didn't hide his views of the Iran nuclear deal during the campaign. I was at a number of events in which he said, "This is the worst deal ever. We're going to get out of it."

So if at 2 p.m. today he says, "We're getting out of it" -- and there's a lot of polling, including our own, that suggests most people want us to stay in it -- but if he suggests we're going to -- he says we're getting out, no one should be surprised. I mean, you can disagree with the decision, but Donald Trump is very -- has been very clear on the campaign trail that that's what he wanted to do.

AVLON: Yes. And I think this is clearly something where he's frustrated that in the past, national security adviser H.R. McMaster doesn't back his political instinct. Bolton is likely to do so.

Look, the idea that all of a sudden, they're going to start enforcing the Logan Act is probably laughable. It is often invoked, never enforced.

But I think the key point at 2 p.m. today is does Donald Trump simply dismiss it, or does he, as he's suggested, standing with Macron a week or two ago try to take the things that critics of the deal feel are really objectionable. The fact that sunsets is 2025 leaving the Iranians open to develop weapons. Their ambitions in the region. Is this a mend it, not end it strategy? Or is it simply going to be, in a fit of political pique, "I'm following through on my promises, and let the consequences be damned."

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, Chris Cillizza, thank you both very much.

CUOMO: All right. We're following breaking news. Chinese state media reporting that President Xi Jinping just met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Northeastern China. This is video from a prior meeting between both leaders in March. We don't have any video of the current meeting.

This week's two-day meeting comes as Kim is preparing for a potential summit with President Trump. There is no date or location announced yet for the meeting.

CAMEROTA: OK.

CUOMO: All right. So, the White House touting Rudy Giuliani's value to the Trump legal team. But has the media blitz helped or hurt? There are two minds on the issue. We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:23:07] CUOMO: All right. Sources telling CNN that some White House officials are not happy about Rudy Giuliani's recent media blitz and the negative headlines that he's generated.

This comes as Rudy Giuliani tells "The Wall Street Journal" that the president's legal team is aiming to decide by next week if he will sit down with Mueller's investigators for an interview.

All right. Let's discuss. There's a lot of legalities here and there's a dovetail with political considerations as well. So we have CNN legal and political commentator Ken Cuccinelli and we CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Let's just do a little bit of the political dance for a moment. Ken Cuccinelli, do you think that Giuliani's media blitz has helped or hurt?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Overall, I think it has hurt. Giuliani's gotten incredibly lucky, in that two judges really stepped into this arena last week with Elli, my local judge here in Northern Virginia, being the most forceful. And -- and really giving the Mueller team some headaches. But if that hadn't happened, he'd have the whole, the sole spotlight all week on this subject. And I really don't think he helped his client.

I do think it was good to get the truth out there about -- or the beginning of the truth about the payments timing on Stormy Daniels and the money that flowed back there, just because I think truth is always better than staying in a cloud of untruth. And -- but I don't think he did it very well. Certainly not very artfully.

And you mentioned the White House in the intro. They could be mad about simply not having had a heads-up. I mean, there's nothing keeping Rudy Giuliani as the personal lawyer for the president from telling them what he's about to do on FOX. Nothing is stopping him from doing that, and yet he didn't seem to do it.

CUOMO: Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I think Rudy Giuliani has made a fool of himself. I think it's been a really embarrassing performance, and he hasn't even told a coherent story.

[07:25:06] I mean, when -- when did Donald Trump reimburse Michael Cohen? How much did he pay him? Did he -- did he -- was this money spent as a campaign expenditure or not? Giuliani has gone back and forth on that. What was the reason that Donald Trump paid the money to Stormy Daniels? I mean, this has been a fiasco. I don't think it changes Donald Trump's popularity, because nothing changes Donald Trump's popularity.

CUOMO: We have a new CNN poll. His numbers are about the same. In fact, they've ticked up in several areas that go outside of this, in terms of people, recognition of results from his administration.

But, just on this straight making the case on Stormy Daniels, and of course, Rudy says in his own defense that he's not there to deal with Stormy Daniels. He's there to deal with the Mueller probe, and we'll get to that in a second.

But you know, Rudy says that he's being shy on details and timing, because that's not his job, and it's not his burden. He uses the word "burden." The prosecutors, Ken Cuccinelli, you have to show why the president did what he did with Stormy Daniels and why it was wrong, and when it was done that proves that point. This is on you. It's not on him.

CUCCINELLI: Well, that's certainly true. It's absolutely true.

But, when your personal lawyer, the head of your legal team, speaks to facts, the presumption is you're speaking to facts as understood by your client.

And what -- and to Jeffrey's point, Rudy bounced around on this. And he didn't answer certain key questions like why did this happen when it happened? What was -- what were the specifics of the payback? I mean, he's invited a whole other round of questions. And if he wasn't brought on to deal with Stormy Daniels, then why in the hell were you talking about it? He certainly isn't an ambassador on the --

CUOMO: Why was he talking about hostages getting sent back home from North Korea?

CUCCINELLI: That's where I was going, Chris. That's exactly where I was going.

CUOMO: So it's a little different.

CUCCINELLI: I mean, you're not an ambassador on the Korean Peninsula either.

CUOMO: Right. It's a little different situation.

CUCCINELLI: Don't talk about that either.

CUOMO: It's not a typical lawyer-client relationship --

TOOBIN: Yes, it is.

CUOMO: -- apparently. So Jeffrey, let's talk to why Rudy says he is there. The idea of a deadline next week -- obviously, they're not calling the shots -- about when this happens or doesn't. This is going to be up to the special counsel. Can they come out with a position where "Well, we've decided we will not talk to the -- Mueller in any way. It's not going to happen. Move on"? Can they even control that?

TOOBIN: Well, they can say they won't talk under -- voluntarily, and then Mueller can respond with a subpoena. And the courts will decide whether -- whether the president has to answer. So this is not entirely in the Trump team's hands.

Neither Trump nor Mueller particularly wants a year-long fight in the courts with a, you know, probable victory by Mueller, but not -- by no means certain. That doesn't really help either Trump or Mueller to have that kind of fight.

So there is an interest on both sides to getting some sort of resolution. But given Donald Trump's, you know, long difficulty with the truth and his extreme hostility to Mueller and the fact that he is a subject of this investigation, they don't want him speaking to Mueller.

And I think the whole thing could really end with the president taking the Fifth, because that would be a bad couple of days of stories, but at least it would end this whole drama. There's nothing 00 there's nothing -- the Mueller team is not going to immunize the president, I don't think.

CUOMO: How do you know?

TOOBIN: I think taking the Fifth would really end the story.

Because I think there are constitutional issues about immunizing the president, you know, forcing the president to testify when he, you know, has so many other constitutionally-mandated obligations. I think taking the Fifth would be an extreme political embarrassment, but I don't think -- but I think that would end the controversy. CUOMO: Just a reminder, obviously, Clinton didn't take the Fifth.

His wife didn't take the Fifth in Whitewater. She wound up going then as just a counsel to go and talk to different Whitewater transactions.

All right. Ken Cuccinelli, unless you have a very strong different opinion from Jeffrey, I have an idea. I want to see if we can establish a couple of facts. Do you have something that is very different?

CUCCINELLI: My opinion is not strongly different. I think Jeffrey may have nailed it right on the head. Of course, we'll find out in a few months as time rolls forward. But I think that is a very likely outcome.

CUOMO: All right. The first for everything if Jeffrey Toobin nailed it on the first instance like that.

All right. But let's try to establish a couple of facts here. The first fact is this. The idea of Rudy Giuliani saying -- full disclosure, I believe that this is political game playing. I think Rudy knows the answer to both these questions. He's just offering a different one, because he's trying to help his client's political cause.

The first one is "We want the Hillary deal. No under oath." Ken Cuccinelli, Jeffrey Toobin, can we all agree that that is a red herring; that is a distraction? This is no "being under oath." If you're talking to an FBI agent, if you lie to them, it's a crime. They don't have to put you under oath. This is nonsense. Fair point?

TOOBIN: Fair point.