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Former Trump Aide Says He Will Refuse to Testify in Russia Probe; Sex Coach Claims to Have Key Info on Russia Probe; Interview With California Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But denies he's doing it is to protect President Trump. So, why is saying Mueller probably has something on the president?

Influence peddling? Mueller's investigators are now reportedly looking at possible attempts by the United Arab Emirates to gain political influence by funneling money to the Trump campaign. Did that sway the president's stance in a recent Mideast dispute?

Porn star secrets. A new report says the president's personal lawyer complained about not being reimbursed for hush money he purportedly paid to a porn star who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump more than a decade ago. Why was the alleged transaction flagged by a bank?

And Russian sex coach jailed. A self-proclaimed guru makes a bizarre offer from a detention center in Thailand. She claims to have information about Russian election meddling that she will reveal if the U.S. grants her asylum. Tonight, she's speaking out to CNN.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, a remarkable twist in the Russian investigation. A former Trump campaign official publicly defying special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a series of interviews with CNN, Sam Nunberg vowed to defy a grand jury subpoena, saying of Mueller, and I am quoting now, "Do you think I would ever talk to that moron?" -- closed quote.

Nunberg goes on to say he thinks Mueller probably has something on Trump and that another aide, Carter Page, may have colluded with Russians. But Nunberg also states there was no collusion by the Trump campaign.

We will talk about breaking news and more with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and analysts, they are all standing by.

First, let's get to the latest from our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, Sam Nunberg is actually daring Robert Mueller to arrest him.


And Nunberg is being very vocal and very public in defying this subpoena. He flat out told CNN he is not planning to cooperate. Nunberg was a very short-lived campaign adviser getting fired early on, but he still took the liberty today to speculate that the president knew about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

But Nunberg still insists there was no collusion.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg says he will refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena that asks him to turn over documents and e-mails he exchanged with several campaign officials, including Steve Bannon and adviser Roger Stone, and requests his appearance before a grand jury in Washington Friday.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg did spend more than five hours talking to the special counsel's investigators in February and he says the questions then indicated Mueller's team may be moving in on the president.

NUNBERG: The way they asked about his business dealings, the way they asked if you had heard anything even during while I was fired, it just -- it just made me suspect that they suspect something about him.

And you know what? Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians, and if they find out -- if he did that, I don't know. If he did that, you know what, it is inexcusable, if he did that, if he had some deal. We already know Michael Cohen was trying to do Trump Tower Moscow.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg was fired by the campaign just two months after Donald Trump announced his run in August 2015 for racially charged Facebook posts. Nunberg was close with campaign adviser Roger Stone, who was also fired in August 2015.

In public interviews and tweets, Stone has claimed to have a relationship with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, something both he and WikiLeaks have since denied. Stone also exchanged messages with the Guccifer 2.0, the online entity that claimed responsibilities for the DNC hack and was later outed as a front for Russian intelligence.

NUNBERG: They think that Roger colluded with Julian Assange. I can tell you, Roger did not collude with Julian Assange.

SCHNEIDER: After Nunberg spoke out today, Roger Stone issued this statement. "I was briefly part of the Trump campaign and has been the president's friend and adviser for decades, and would expect that Mueller's team would at some point ask for any documents or e-mails sent or written by me. But let me reiterate, I have no knowledge or involvement in Russian collusion or any other inappropriate act."

Nunberg also talked about that Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 where Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer, along Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. Trump Jr. says he had been promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but maintains his father never knew about the meeting. The president has said the same thing.


Nunberg disputes that, even though he was fired from the campaign nearly a year before the meeting.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting. Do you think that that's true?


TAPPER: You don't think that's true?


SCHNEIDER: Nunberg now says he won't cooperate with the special counsel and questions the basis of the investigation.

NUNBERG: Yes, Mueller thinks that Trump is a Manchurian candidate.

The idea that we were the Manchurian candidate, Gloria, we were a joke. Everybody was laughing at us. The idea that we were colluding with the Russians? Give me a break.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg also telling Jake Tapper former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page is the real culprit when it comes to collusion.

NUNBERG: Carter Page was colluding with the Russians.

TAPPER: So Carter Page was colluding with the Russians, you think?

NUNBERG: Yes. I believe Carter Page was colluding with the Russians.

TAPPER: Well, if that's true, Sam, Carter Page was an adviser to the Trump campaign.

NUNBERG: He wasn't really an adviser, Jake. Come on. Do you really think he was an adviser? He was a name on a list.


SCHNEIDER: Carter Page did respond in a statement to CNN today, calling Nunberg's claims that he colluded with the Russians "laughable" and saying that Nunberg should provide specifics, rather than "mindless rhetoric."

Now, NBC News did say he spent about 80 hours this weekend starting to gather the e-mails and documents requested by the special counsel. But, of course, now has decided not to comply with the subpoena, and, of course, Wolf, that could eventually lead to contempt of court charge, which could be punishable by anything from jail time to fines and anything like that.

BLITZER: Yes. With all of the threats, he could reconsider clearly in the face of going to jail.

Thanks very much, Jessica Schneider, for that report.

Let's get some White House reaction to all of this.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, the White House seemed as surprised about Nunberg as anyone.


They were blindsided by all of this inside the White House. And there were aides and officials watching all of this unfold on CNN this afternoon and were just simply baffled by what Sam Nunberg was saying.

And I can tell you, Wolf, I talked to a number of people that used to work for the Trump campaign in 2016. Mixed reactions from those folks. One source said, how can Sam not know anything about any of this? He was fired by the Trump campaign in August of 2015.

But then I did talk to a former Trump campaign official that said, wait a minute, Sam Nunberg is close with Roger Stone. And as Jessica was just laid out in that piece, Roger Stone has been an adviser to Donald Trump before he was President Trump for a long time.

But Sarah Sanders, when she was asked about it at the briefing, gave essentially the canned response, that there was no collusion with Russia and she basically said Sam Nunberg did not work for the White House. Here's more of what she had to say.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we have said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. Anything further on what his actions are, he hasn't worked at the White House, so I certainly can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.


ACOSTA: A very important question that's now come up for the Justice Department, for the Trump administration, Wolf, and that's whether or not it will try to enforce the subpoena with Sam Nunberg.

Sarah Sanders was asked, was it a good idea for Sam Nunberg to be defying subpoena like this? She didn't really respond to that. But I did try to ask the question at the very end of that briefing, will the Trump administration enforce, will the Justice Department enforce that subpoena? Wolf, she did not answer that as she left the Briefing Room.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jim Acosta over at the White House.

Let's dig deeper with CNN's chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell.

Jeffrey, what are the potential consequences of Sam Nunberg defying the special counsel and refusing to comply with this grand jury order?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is really very simple, Wolf. A grand jury subpoena is not an invitation to a birthday party which you can accept or reject at your pleasure.

It is a legal command, and he's got to show up or they can find him in contempt, which can be punished by being jailed, by being fined, and that can go on indefinitely.

Now, I do think that the Mueller office does not want to get into a freak show contest with this guy, who is obviously at least somewhat emotionally unstable.

They will certainly try to reach out to his lawyer and say, come on, let's dial this back, get him in the grand jury, calm him down. But if he doesn't, and if he doesn't take the Fifth, because if he takes the Fifth, then he does have the right not to testify, but if he just simply says it is ridiculous, as he said to Gloria and to Jake, he could be locked up.

BLITZER: Listen, Josh, to this clip from an interview that Gloria Borger had with Sam Nunberg. Listen to this.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you believe the special counsel has something on Donald Trump?


I suspect that they suspect something about him. The way they asked about his business dealings, the way they asked if you had heard anything even during while I was fired, it just -- it just made me suspect that they suspect something about him.


BLITZER: What do you think?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think this is a puzzling day.

These developments we were all involved in watching for some time now and trying to make sense, is this a strategy or is this just something who is unraveling before our very eyes?

I think it is important to point out -- and I can tell you how these investigations work, having obtained more grand jury subpoenas than I can count, they're important cools. The reason they're used so much is because at end of the day, any investigation is about information.

What information do you have before you that will allow you to conduct an investigation? As we listen to that clip and the interviews that Mr. Nunberg did today, one thing that stands out is it is quite possible that some of these records that are being commanded by the grand jury are records that may already be in Mr. Mueller's possession.

And why that is important is because in any investigation you are trying to corroborate the information before you. If you go to an interview, if you're looking through records, you're trying to determine, is this person being truthful? It is not a trap they're setting, but it's something they're going to compare. They are going to be comparing note to see is this person being honest.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, Sam Nunberg also believes that Robert Mueller may suspect that the president during the campaign was in effect a Manchurian candidate. Listen to this.


NUNBERG: I am not going in. It is ridiculous.

The idea that we were the Manchurian candidate, Gloria, we were a joke. Everybody was laughing at us. The idea that we were colluding with the Russians? Give me a break.

BORGER: Is that what you think the special counsel is getting at or it sounds to me from some of our other answers, you think he is looking into the more financial side of Donald Trump's life.

NUNBERG: He may. I don't know what he's looking into. He may. He may. And you know what?

And you know what? Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians, and if they find out -- if he did that, I don't know. If he did that, you know what, it is inexcusable.


BLITZER: Jeffrey, what's your reaction to that?

TOOBIN: What's interesting, to the extent you can get through the craziness, is, there were a lot of questions about Russia he has been asked, that Mueller was obviously focused on what he is supposed to be focused on.

Were there connections between the Trump campaign and Russia? And that appears to be most of the questioning that he went through. What happened here is actually fairly standard. Prosecutors rarely put someone in the grand jury just right away. They usually have an office interview with them first and narrow down the subjects they want to talk about in the grand jury. That's the interview he was talking about with Gloria there, the

office interview. But it does seem that Mueller is very concerned about what contacts, if any, there were between the Trump campaign and Russia.

BLITZER: He also suggests, you know, Josh, that Roger Stone was his mentor and he really doesn't want to talk about the relationship they had, doesn't want to make available all of the information and the e- mails and the phone conversations that he had. Listen to this.


NUNBERG: They think that Roger colluded with Julian Assange. I can tell you, Roger did not collude with Julian Assange.

BORGER: Why do you think they want you in the grand jury?

NUNBERG: They want me to testify against Roger.


NUNBERG: They want me to say Roger was going around telling people he was colluding with Julian Assange. That's what they want.


BORGER: And that did not occur, according to you?

NUNBERG: No, it did not.


BLITZER: What do you think?

CAMPBELL: This guy is all over the map.

One thing that's interesting that really stood out for me as we watched kind of again the great unraveling here is that up until this point, Mueller's team has been tight. We haven't seen the leaks. It has been very difficult to determine where his investigation is headed, what he is looking for.

This is key today because in an investigation like this, you have three ways to determine the direction and to help kind of telegraph where someone is going. Number one is the court filings. What are they actually filing with the courts? Number two is, what are the FBI -- what are they asking -- interview witnesses?

And I think that's what we see here. You are getting a little bit of insight into that. And then third part being thing those records being commanded by the grand jury. What are they asking for? I think it is important seeing today this again unfold before our eyes, because it gives us that insight into where the investigation is ultimately headed.

BLITZER: In the subpoena, Jeffrey, that Sam Nunberg received on February 27, just a few days ago, they said they want all of the information he has and they listed 10 individuals.

I will quickly read them. Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon.


Several of them, he says he never spoke with them, he hates them, doesn't talk to them. So, obviously, it wouldn't take a long time to get information about them.

But he clearly doesn't want to talk about Roger Stone and Steve Bannon.

TOOBIN: Well, you know what? Too bad.

It is not up to witnesses to decide what they want to talk about and what they don't want to talk about. You know, this is 10 people who are obviously centrally involved in this investigation.

And prosecutors and FBI agents, their job is to set a wide net. If he has no contact with Steve Bannon, then so be it. But when you get a grand jury subpoena, you have to answer it.

What he keeps saying is, they want me. Mueller wants me to say X. Mueller wants me to Say y. Mueller wants him to tell the truth. That's why someone gets a grand jury subpoena. And the idea that Sam Nunberg gets to decide what he talks about and what questions he answers, I think everyone knows that's just absurd.

CAMPBELL: Jeff is spot on.

I would just say one of the most striking things I heard from Mr. Nunberg today was him saying he has "no interest" in providing these records to Mr. Mueller.

I think Jeff can attest, of all those subpoenas I obtained and served, I never saw a line in there that took into consideration the interest of the person being subpoenaed.

BLITZER: How do you think Mueller is going to respond? Because you used to work at the FBI. How does a special prosecutor like Robert Mueller respond to these public statements from Sam Nunberg?

CAMPBELL: After he stops shaking his head, I think his team is going to get to work, they're going to continue what they have been doing.

Again, as this person continues to talk, they learn more. I think as we sit here today, and we don't know what is going to happen Friday, whether he ultimately shows or not, but we can guarantee that somewhere probably here or in New York, there are a group of salty U.S. Marshals that are Googling this guy's address and working up an arrest plan.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jeffrey? TOOBIN: Well, I do think they will try to dial this back at first,

call his lawyer, and say you know he has no right to do this, you know this is not in his interest. Talk to your client. Get him in the grand jury. We don't want a spectacle.

But at the end of the day, you can't defy grand jury subpoena. Maybe they will give him an extra week. Maybe they will give him a few days, but they're going to arrest him if he doesn't testify. It is simple as that.

BLITZER: He is going to have to come to grips with that reality.

Guys, everybody stick around. There's a lot more. We are following the breaking news. A former Trump aide says he won't talk to the grand jury, despite Robert Mueller's subpoena. Coming up, I will speak with a key member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Plus, a self-proclaimed sex coach from Russia jailed in Thailand and offering to share secrets about Moscow's election meddling. What does she want in return?



BLITZER: We are following breaking news.

Former campaign aide Sam Nunberg telling CNN that he will not comply with a grand jury subpoena issued in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. She's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

And you heard Sam Nunberg say right here on CNN that President Trump was right that this is a witch-hunt. What are the consequences, though, of Sam Nunberg's defying the special counsel, Robert Mueller?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I think he's preparing himself to go to jail. I don't think he appreciates the seriousness of this subpoena.

And I think that he is basically putting special counsel Mueller in the position of having to act, because if he basically can snub his nose at the special counsel, then others will find it convenient to do so. You cannot evade a subpoena.

BLITZER: That's a fair point.

Nunberg also says President Trump actually knew about that very controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNBERG: He talked about it a week before.

And I don't know why he did this. All he had to say was, yes, we met with the Russians. The Russians offered us something, and we thought they had something. And that was it.

I don't know why he went around trying to hide it. And he shouldn't have.


BLITZER: But Sam Nunberg was actually fired from the Trump campaign almost a year earlier, in late summer 2015. That was very early on in the campaign. Do you believe he really can be trusted as a witness?

SPEIER: Well, I can't speak to that, but I have always thought that when then candidate Trump, on winning the Indiana primary, boasted about how he was going to have a very important speech the following week and provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, he was in fact mimicking the words that were in some of the e-mails that kind of generated the Trump meeting, Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russians.

So there's more here than meets the eye. I don't know if he's a good source of it, but I'm sure that the special counsel is following up on all these clues.

BLITZER: I'm sure he is as well.

What does all of this tell you, Congresswoman, about where the Mueller investigation is heading?


SPEIER: You know, I think the investigation is heading to where the facts are leading him.

And I think the facts are leading him to financial dealings that then Trump had as the head of the Trump Organization with Russians. We don't know the full aspects of it because we have never seen, for one thing, his tax return.

And I think that's part of the secret of unlocking the relationship that exists between the Russians and Donald Trump, who was then the president of the Trump Organization.

There are too many of these deals he did with Russian oligarchs and with criminals who had a past that no one would engage in business with unless you were accustomed to doing it and had kind of flown under the radar for as long as I think Trump has.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for joining us.

SPEIER: Thank you for the invitation.

BLITZER: We will have more on the breaking news coming up.

How will the special counsel, Robert Mueller, react to a former Trump campaign aide defying his subpoena?

Plus, could a self-proclaimed sex coach jailed in Thailand shed new light on the Russia election meddling? Tonight, she's speaking out to CNN about her claim and what she wants from the United States.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, SITUATION ROOM: Breaking news. A stunning display of defiance from a former Trump campaign associate in the face of a subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sam Nunberg, one of the president's earliest campaign aides, says he won't turnover e-mails to Mueller's team and will refuse to testify in front of a grand jury.

Let's get some more from our experts and our analysts. Jeffrey Toobin, I want to play a clip for you. I know you were just in Moscow. You were working on this story as well.

This is Emin Agalarov that Sam Nunberg is referring to. He's a Russian pop star who showed up with Trump back, what, in 2013 when Trump went over to Moscow for the Miss Universe contest. Listen to this.


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I was told that that idiot Emin had offered to send women up to Trump's room, but Trump didn't want it. He doesn't do that. He's too smart for that.


BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and talk about that.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Trump's bodyguard testified to the House Intelligence Committee that while they were at the Ritz- Carlton Hotel in Moscow that someone had offered to send prostitutes to Trump's room in the Ritz-Carlton and he declined and he and Trump asked about it.

I had never heard that Emin Agalarov was the person who did it. Emin, in addition to being a semi pop star, his father, Aras Agalarov, is the oligarch who underwrote the pageant in Moscow in 2013.

I would not necessarily trust much of what Nunberg said, but it is true that someone apparently did offer to bring prostitutes.

Now, in the Steele dossier, Steele says that two prostitutes cavorted in Trump's room in the Ritz-Carlton, and that, of course, is highly controversial. It's been denied by Trump. And I certainly did not prove it one way or the other.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just say something about Emin Agalarov, which is that, don't forget, he was also the person who was very involved in setting up the meeting in Don Jr.'s office in Trump Tower, at which they were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So, the Agalarov family comes in and out of Trump's life many times.

TOOBIN: Gloria makes an extremely important point here because the person who actually set up the meeting in Trump Tower in June of 2016 is the PR person named Rob Goldstone, who is Emin's personal publicist.

BORGER: Exactly.

TOOBIN: So, the line between the 2013 Miss Universe and the collusion exposed in that 2016 meeting is really a direct one.

BLITZER: And, Samantha, listen to this because in this interview that Nunberg had with our own Jake Tapper, he makes this allegation that the president knew about that controversial Trump Tower meeting a week earlier.

The president says he didn't know anything about it, but listen to this.


NUNBERG: He talked about it through a week before. And I don't know why he did this. All he had to say was, yes, we met with the Russians. The Russians offered us something and we thought they had something, and that was it. I don't know why he went around trying to hide this. And he shouldn't have.


BLITZER: Now, Sam Nunberg had been fired almost a year earlier from the campaign. So, Sam, how would he even know about this?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Wolf, honestly, this feels like a desperate cry for attention, to me, from Sam Nunberg.

The fact is that Mueller does not need Nunberg to know that President Trump has been playing Russian roulette for years. I mean, whether it's going to the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow - I've stayed there - it is a lion's den for Russian spies.

Everybody knows you turn off your phones, you don't use the communications there, everyone in the lobby is probably working for the Russian government.

Trump made every mistake in the book when it comes to doing business with Russia, working with the Russians, and potentially meeting with the Russians. And Mueller doesn't need Nunberg to make that case to him.

[18:35:08] What it felt like today is maybe Nunberg got up on the wrong side of the bed and needed a media hug or something because he shared information that may or may not be true. And the fact is that Mueller is going to have so many other ways of looking at collusion and finding out who was or wasn't at Trump Tower for that matter.

BLITZER: David, he was fired just a few months after he started working in the campaign in 2015. How reliable is he really?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I mean, if you listen to Gloria's interview and Jake Tapper's interview, clearly, it seems like he has got an angle or maybe even an axe to grind in this.

But I don't think - just as Sam is saying, I don't think he has to be reliable to the broad case of what went on with then candidate Trump or anybody in his inner circle.

Special Counsel Mueller is sort of weaving this very intricate, rather exquisite tapestry of information, and all he needs is a little bit here or there from all these characters, including Nunberg, and that's what he's going to get from him if he ever testifies.

BORGER: But I think what Nunberg was saying to me is that Mueller, he believes, is going after Roger Stone, whom - he said to me, Mueller believes Roger Stone colluded with Julian Assange.

He is very close to Roger Stone. He called him his mentor. They're good friends. And so, I think he believes that's why Mueller may be going after him. I would argue that Mueller probably already has his e-mails and maybe there's something here after five-and-a-half hours of testimony before FBI investigators. Maybe there's something here that Mueller wants to pull him before the grand jury for because maybe there's something that they believe he has two stories on.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: The point that, well, he was fired, he doesn't know anything, that's not necessarily how the Trump world works. The president is well known for continuing to consult with people whom he had fired.

Cory Lewandowski was fired. He still talks to Cory Lewandowski with some regularity. Roger Stone was fired. Roger Stone has been back in good graces at times. Steve Bannon for awhile, at least, before the Michael Wolff book, was still in touch with the president after he was fired.

So that the notion that just because he was fired he doesn't know anything, that's not necessarily true.

BLITZER: Sam, I went through this detailed two-page grand jury subpoena dated February 27th, 2018, and if you take a look at the specifics, what Mueller wants for the period November 1st, 2015 to the president, "Please provide all documents related to the following individuals." Then he names ten individuals - Carter Page, Cory Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump, Hope Hicks, Heath Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon.

So, that's almost everyone involved. What does that say to you that he wants - Mueller wants all the specific information from Sam Nunberg about what he knew about these individuals? VINOGRAD: Well, I think it shows that his investigation is proceeding at pace. But, Wolf, when you read that list, the thing strikes me the most is, wow, Trump really associates with a lot of very sketchy people, right?

I mean, people on that list are known foreign agents. Carter Page was asking to be recruited by the Government of Russia and is suspected of being a foreign agent.

And so, when you look at who Trump's inner circle is, whether it was Nunberg up until he was fired or the people on that list, you have to wonder how the president makes decisions about who his trusted advisers are and, frankly, who is still left in the White House advising him and what kind of ties they may have to foreign governments, whether it's through business deals or foreign contacts or the like.

And from a national security perspective, I think it's really important that we take a step back and say he has really poor decision-making. Mueller is investigating all of these people.

And we also know, again, that Mueller is potentially looking at counterintelligence issues related to Jared Kushner and Ivanka, which could play into this.

BLITZER: He also told you, Gloria, Sam Nunberg, that he believes that Mueller suspects that Donald Trump was the Manchurian candidate. Lot of us, of course, remember the movie "The Manchurian Candidate." What do you make of his behavior, Nunberg today, making all of these allegations?

BORGER: He said also - he said Trump may well have done something during the election with the Russians. If he did that - I don't know. If he did that, you know what, it's inexcusable. He said he didn't know, but he is no Manchurian candidate, which means, as you know, bought and paid for by the Russians.

But I think Nunberg - look, he is not a fan of Donald Trump. He got fired by Donald Trump. He is a fan of Roger Stone. Very close to Roger Stone. And I think he was sort of lashing out here, saying I am just not going to participate in this anymore because I gave five and a half hours of interviews to the FBI and they know everything they need to know.

[18:40:08] Obviously, the special counsel will have something to say about that. There's also a question of whether, I don't know, was he looking at an e-mail - he wouldn't tell me this - was he looking at something that could be incriminating in his emails? We don't know the answer to that.

Maybe the special counsel does because he has the e-mails.

SWERDLICK: Yes. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. He came out today to say, look, hey, I am not a snitch, but at the same time distance himself from President Trump. And I think he's trying to play both sides. BLITZER: But as you point out, Jeffrey, he already spent five and a half hours answering questions from Mueller's team.

TOOBIN: Right. I would hesitate before assuming there was any grand strategy to what Sam Nunberg has been doing. I mean, he seemed like - to use a technical term - a whack job for most of the day. So, I don't know whether to believe what he says, I don't know what his real goals are, but all I know is when you get a grand jury subpoena, you've got to show up. And he's not showing up, so he could be in a world of trouble.

BLITZER: Unless he changes his mind between now and Friday. Let's see if he does.

All right, guys. Everybody stick around, there's more breaking news. We are following a new twist in the case of hush money paid to a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump. I'm going to bring you new breaking details.

Also, a Russian sex coach says she has dirt on the Kremlin's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election and she is willing to trade that information in exchange for asylum here in the United States.


[18:46:21] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: There's new information tonight about the hush money paid by President Trump's lawyer to the porn star, Stormy Daniels.

Let's go live to our national correspondent Sara Sidner.

Sara, what's the latest?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If "The Wall Street Journal" sources are correct, this could be the first time we're seeing evidence that Donald Trump in fact knew about that payment to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet.


SIDNER (voice-over): Stormy Daniels, the porn star who allegedly carried on a sexual affair with Donald Trump ten years before he ran for the presidency, reportedly almost went public right before the election because a payment she was expecting from Trump's lawyer hadn't arrived. That revelation is one of a series of new allegations from "The Wall Street Journal" and "The Washington Post" suggesting Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, held back a $130,000 payout because he couldn't get a hold of Trump during the last days of the campaign.

That's different than what Cohen previously said. Last month, he admitted to paying $130,000 out of his own personal funds to Daniels, but in a statement said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment ether directly or indirectly. Stephanie Clifford is Stormy Daniels' real name. But "The Journal"

now says Cohen told friends he complained that after the election, he was never reimbursed.

PAUL RYAN, COMMON CAUSE: Michael Cohen clearly was not source of the funds if he was mad that he had not yet been reimbursed after the election.

SIDNER: "The Wall Street Journal" also says the bank used to wire the money flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to Treasury Department. The paper says the money was paid out 12 days before the election, leading to questions about whether it could be considered a campaign contribution. The watchdog group Common Cause which filed complaint earlier this year with the Federal Election Commission says if the new allegations are true, they are a huge problem for the president.

RYAN: There are two important facts in the new "The Wall Street Journal" reporting today on the Stormy Daniels payment. Number one, Michael Cohen apparently missed his initial deadline to pay Stormy Daniels her hush money because he could not get in touch with Donald Trump. Now, this underscores our allegation in our January complaint that this was all about the election and that Mr. Trump, now President Trump, was involved in all this.

SIDNER: As for Stormy Daniels, she continues to show up for performances and do interviews, always careful, though, to side step any questions concerning Trump. But this exchange with erotic photographer and director Holly Randall reveals Daniels still has a story to tell.

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS & DIRECTOR: I haven't lied about anything. I haven't misled anyone. Like there's a common misconception that I leaked this, like it wasn't me. And hopefully I'll be able to tell my side just for -- not for any sort of gain other than I want to be able to defend myself.


SIDNER: Now, we should be clear that Mr. Cohen, that is Donald Trump's personal attorney, and the White House, have denied that there was any affair between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels. We do know that the bank that this money was transferred from, that was Mr. Cohen's bank, they have said no comment. The White House has said we're going to refer you to Mr. Cohen for comments on the new details. Mr. Cohen has called it fake news, and as for Stormy Daniels, none of her representatives responded to request for comment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sara, thank you. Sara Sidner with the latest on that front.

Just ahead, a self-described Russian sex coach who claims to have incriminating information on the Kremlin's election meddling is speaking out to CNN. What is she willing to offer in exchange for asylum here in the United States?


[18:54:36] BLITZER: New tonight, a self-described sex coach is offering inside information on Russia's election meddling. The woman is currently imprisoned in Thailand but says she's willing to trade what she knows for asylum in the United States.

Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson actually met with the woman. He's joining us now live from Bangkok.

Ivan, tell us how that went.


[18:55:01] I mean, this is a story that the headline pretty much says it all. This young woman who described herself as a sex coach offering U.S. investigators information she claimed she has about Russian meddling in the U.S. election in exchange for her freedom from this Thai jail and not be deported back to Russia. It is a very strange story.


WATSON (voice-over): She described herself as a seductress, a relentlessly self-promoting 21-year-old named Anastasia Vashukevich, with a social media stage Nastya Rybka. This Belarus-born woman claims to have evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

The question, is this a desperate ploy to get out of jail or as her friend claims, is this young woman truly in danger because she knows too much?

MARIA SKULBEDA: They are in danger. Second, they have the information. And third, we are afraid of their lives, really afraid of their lies. We don't know what's going to happen.

WATSON: For days, Vashukevich and several Russian friends have been held at this jail in the capital of Thailand where visitors are not allowed to bring cameras.

(on camera): I just came out of this detention center where I spoke with Anastasia Vashukevich. It was loud and hot and chaotic. And talking through the bars, she says she witnessed meetings between the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and at least three Americans who she refused to name. He claims they discussed plans to effect the U.S. elections but she wouldn't give any further information because she fears she could be deported back to Russia.

(voice-over): Her claims might not hold much water if it wasn't for this. Photos published on her Instagram account of Vashukevich along side Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska -- Deripaska, a one time business partner of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He's pleaded not guilty to charges related to money laundering and other alleged crimes discovered during the investigation into Russian meddling.

Vashukevich's posts showed Deripaska on board his private yacht, meeting Russia's deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko, two powerful Russian men overheard in one video discussing Russian-U.S. relations.

Vashukevich wrote about the meeting using altered names in this book. Deripaska denies meddling in the U.S. election and says Vashukevich was never his mistress. A spokesman writing: This is clearly an attempt by Anastasia Vashukevich to politicize the accusations of the Thai police.

And here's where the story gets really weird. Last month, Vashukevich was in Thailand with a Russian sex coach named Alexander Kirillov, running a week long sex training course that teaches among other things, tips for dating.

On the last day, Thai police burst into the hotel arresting Vashukevich, Kirillov and eight others for working without a permit.

Ukrainian-American Pavlo Yunko traveled from New York to attend the course.

PAVLO YUNKO: I was there to have just a good time.

WATSON (on camera): And then the police showed up?

YUNKO: And the police just showed up.

WATSON: In the days that followed, Yunko says he hand delivered this letter from the sex teacher to the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, requesting asylum in exchange for recordings Vashukevich says she made of alleged Russian government crimes.

An embassy spokesperson says since Vashukevich is not a U.S. citizen, this is a matter for the Thai authorities.

Supporters now deliver food to their friends in jail where Vashukevich's offers to help U.S. investigators have apparently gone unheard. The jailed seductress and the sex teacher recognized soon they may be deported back to mother Russia.


WATSON: OK. So, Wolf, Thai authorities originally accused these group of Russians and Russian speakers of working without a visa, and they revoked their visas here to Thailand. A Thai police chief tell us that they are currently doing the paper work for the deportation. However, a lawyer for the group, who normally works here with Russians, says this is taking unusually long, that usually people are deported within matter of one to two days and it's been more than a week now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And very quickly, any way to assess the validity of the evidence she says she has?

WATSON: Impossible, because she hasn't offered any of that evidence. When I was kind of skeptical about this, the man, the kind of sex Svengali, Alexander Kirillov, he said, listen, we're trying to slow down deportation right now. We could have gone home to Russia very quickly and not have to be suffering in this overheated jail. And we're trying to wait for the Americans to come and talk to us and

that just hasn't happened yet.

BLITZER: Ivan Watson, with that report, thanks very much.

That's it for me.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.