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Porn Star Lawyer: "Absurd" to Say Trump Not Aware of Payoff; WAPO: Evidence Trump Team Tried Secret Russia Back Channel; Florida Lawmakers Send Historic Gun Bill to Governor; Russians Released Anti- Clinton Video Game Before Election. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 8, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: As recently as last week, according to this lawsuit, they're saying that Cohen, Trump, they were trying to, in their words, shut her up with this lawsuit.


BALDWIN: Here is more from Daniels' attorney.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: These threats continued until, in fact, only a few hours ago, when Mr. Rosen, Lawrence Rosen, the attorney who now purports to represent Mr. Cohen and the entity E.C., LLC, sent e-mail correspondence to me, threatening that if Miss Daniels continues to talk, she may be subjected to significant additional damages.


BALDWIN: Darren, do you think Stormy Daniels, her attorney, do you think they have some sort of evidence that Trump or the campaign really forced her into silence?

KAVINOKY: I think there is good evidence there and they're doing the right thing by seeking declaratory judgment by a court and that's when one party is unclear about their rights and responsibilities and go into court to get a judge to issue an order about what they can or cannot do. So now once they're into court, the judge basically has two options. He or she can set it for an evidentiary hearing and allow that to go forward or, according to this hush agreement, it calls for a binding arbitration in the event of any dispute. The most critical question in my mind off the bat is who the judge that will be deciding this? That could tell us which way or the other this could lean.

And then, of course, what counsel is referring to there in terms of the significant damages, is that the contract does call for a $1 million liquidated damages clause in the event of any kind of disclosure.

BALDWIN: Each, right?



BALDWIN: Could be multiple million, depending on how many times?

KAVINOKY: Of course.

BALDWIN: The whole strategy from the Stormy Daniels' team that, Seema, it's aggressive. And we were talking earlier, almost like using the Trump playbook against him, get the dirty laundry outlet the there, try to box them in a corner --


BALDWIN: -- try to play this out in the court of public opinion. What do you make of that?

IYER: This is exactly why Trump isn't happy that Sarah Sanders said something in the press briefing. It's feeding into the Stormy Daniels' team now, their playbook. Right?


IYER: The more the Trump team talks, the more ammunition Stormy Daniels' team has. I agree that Trump should be pissed that Sarah Sanders said anything. Sorry.


Darren, do you think, based on what you've read, that there are texts, videos, photos that exist?

KAVINOKY: Yes. Absolutely, no question.


BALDWIN: Yes, yes.

KAVINOKY: One of the things that may be difficult for Stormy Daniels and their team is that -- or her team rather, is that the contract is signed by D.D., or Donald Trump, and E.C. on one side and Stormy on the other. One of the big noises that Stormy's team is making is that Trump didn't sign the contract, as D.D., his alias there, but that little two-letter word "or" that could be a problem. If you read that strictly, that it's either Trump and/or Cohen's shell company, E.C., who could bind that side, E.C. did sign that agreement through Cohen. That may be an issue there. The better reasoned view is exactly what Seema was talking about, it was simply Trump's side that opened the door, kicked open the door through Cohen's comments in the media.

BALDWIN: Darren and Seema, thank you very much.

IYER: Thank you.

KAVINOKY: Thank you. BALDWIN: Coming up, now this question swirling around this key Trump associate and secret meeting in the Seychelles before the inauguration of Donald Trump. Was the goal a secret back channel to the Kremlin?


[14:38:06] BALDWIN: A mysterious meeting in the Seychelles, remote luxury archipelago off the coast of Africa, known as a haven for offshore banking. The participants, the founder of the private military firm Blackwater, a Russian fund manager and officials from the United Arab Emirates. The whole thing reads like a spy novel but is subject of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Trump campaign's plans to set up a secret back channel of communication with the Kremlin. Now news that Blackwater's Erik Prince, a Trump associate and brother of education secretary, Betsy DeVos, may have withheld the truth about who else was at that meeting. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and Middle East specialist with ties to the Trump team.

With me now, Devlin Barrett, national security reporter for the "Washington Post," who broke the story.

Devlin, nice to see you.


BALDWIN: You are speaking with people familiar with this whole investigation. What are you hearing about what exactly happened in the Seychelles?

DEVLIN BARRETT, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: The Seychelles meeting has been a mystery for a long time. We originally reported last year that intelligence officials thought it was an important meeting to try to establish a back channel between the Kremlin and incoming Trump administration. Erik Prince, who you mentioned, denied that and denied it to congressional investigators over and over and over. Now we learned another participant in those meetings, George Nader, has basically provided evidence and Robert Mueller has other evidence that contradicts Prince's version of events.

BALDWIN: Part of the denial is that Prince never mentioned Nader. Now that Mueller knows these things, how will that his whole storyline?

[14:40:01] BARRETT: It will be interesting to see how Erik Prince handles this. When we called for comment, he referred us back to his past statements to Congress, which have been cast in doubt, it's fair to say. He knows Nader, who once worked for Erik Prince. It's curious. Some of his answer are far more curious, just knowing that George Nader was there. But obviously, it's problematic for this whole issue of what were the Trump transition officials trying to do right before the inauguration. It's not the only instance where we hear about some effort to create a back channel, sort of an unofficial line of communication between Trump officials and the Kremlin. This seems to be one of the earliest versions and attempts to do that. BALDWIN: Devlin Barrett, "Washington Post," thank you very much.

BARRETT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Meantime, in the wake of the Parkland shooting, Florida passes its first gun control measures in more than 20 years. We'll talk to one lawmaker who ended the debate with an emotional account of the teacher who actually protected her son while her daughter was dying.

Put my kid in the closet when her daughter died. I wanted to say thank you at the funeral. I didn't know how to do that.


[14:45:52] BALDWIN: In the wake of the Parkland shooting, an outspoken voice suddenly gone quiet, overcome by painful emotions. That's what happened when Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz spoke before lawmakers when passing this historic gun bill in response to the shooting last month that killed 17. Representative Moskowitz, a Democrat, represents Parkland, Florida, and is also a graduate from Douglas High School. His young son's teacher lost a daughter in that shooting, 14-year-old Jamie Guttenberg.

Here is what he said just before the bill was approved to raise the age to purchase a gun to 21 and allow some teachers to carry guns.

STATE REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ, (D), FLORIDA: My 4-year-old, who recently learned how to write his name -- his name is Samuel. We went with Sam. It's easier to write. He had been so happy to learn how to write his name, but he wanted to get better. We signed him up for a writing class. That writing class was going on in Parkland on the afternoon of February 14th around the corner from Douglas, and that class was taught by Jen Guttenberg. You see, she lost her daughter, Jamie, while she was teaching my son how to write.

She put my kid in the closet when her daughter died. I wanted to say thank you at the funeral. I didn't know how to do that.


BALDWIN: Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz is with me now.

Representative Moskowitz, again, my deepest condolences. It was extraordinary what Florida was able to accomplish yesterday. Can you tell me what you were feeling as you were standing there, speaking up?

MOSKOWITZ: Yes. You know, it still is surreal to me. I've been telling everybody, you know, the city of Parkland, nobody knew where that was when people asked me when I served on the city commission, where the hell was Parkland? I used to try to explain it to them. Now the world knows where Parkland is. It's on the list of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech. What these families have gone through, what these kids have gone through, it's just unimaginable. These parents should be grieving for their children not lobbying us to do the obvious, what was right for the last decade. These kids and parents have been tremendous. Without them, this never would have happened. It took Democrats and Republicans. This is a Republican- controlled legislature or Republican-controlled Senate, Republican- controlled Senate, Republican governor who decided that they had had enough of the NRA and tell the NRA it's finally enough.

BALDWIN: What is stunning about what you all passed in Florida is that it flies in the face of what the NRA stands for, specifically raising the age to purchase any firearm to 21 from 18. Can you tell me more about the meat in this legislation that you all passed?

MOSKOWITZ: At the end of the day, it answers the ultimate question. Would this have prevented the Parkland shooter from committing the heinous crime, terrorist act that he did? The answer is yes. If you're under the age of 21, you will not be able to buy a firearm. If you try to buy the firearm over the age of 21, there's a mandatory wait period so you can go through a background check. If you're a danger to yourself, danger to others, red-flag restraining order language in a number of states and supported by every town for gun control and the Giffords folks that will make sure you don't have access to weapons and if you do, we will take them from you. We strengthened the Baker Act for people who are mentally ill, to make sure they don't have access to weapons. We'll spend $100 million on school hardening, $100 million on mental health. And this is the complete package, comprehensive package. Yes, there is a component in here that I don't like and I don't support, which is potentially if there are local communities out there that decide that they want school personnel to go through the training so that they can be armed to prevent this thing happening in their neighborhood that's in the bill, too. People have to understand that Republicans had to vote for gun control. You know, that's not popular in their neck of the woods. So you've got to put stuff in the bill that makes them want to vote for this legislation. And so this is what compromise looks like. It's not clean. It's dirty. It's not a 50/50 compromise but they moved out of their corner and they told the NRA, which has had free reign here for 20 years, that enough is enough. We're going to make a difference. And the march is not the march forward. It's going to be the march backward and the retreat on the nonsense going on here with action toes guns.

[14:51:11] BALDWIN: I want to play some sound in the wake of what you all accomplished. And I know this has to go on to the governor for his signature. I want to play some sound. This is the president commenting on your work today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I want to congratulate the state of Florida and your representatives on some very good legislation that's been passed.

I guess they've been listening to me a lot more because, unexpectedly, they passed concealed carry for some very special teachers that have a great ability with weapons and with guns. And they passed that. It was somewhat surprising to people because they didn't go in thinking about that. But I guess they liked what I said.


BALDWIN: "They liked what I said." Does the president deserve a little credit for what you all accomplished?

MOSKOWITZ: No, I don't need to give the president any credit. I'm a lowly state representative. He's the president. My members shouldn't have to do this. He has very expensive, fancy paper in his Oval Office, very expensive pens. He could have signed an executive order dealing with bump stocks a long time ago. But we had to deal with it because he refused to. You know, he was talking about gun control and then, all of a sudden, he started talking about tariffs. He's the president. He was telling us when he was running he's not a regular politician, he's going to be different. He's no different. He has done the exact same thing that the last couple of presidents have done, which is not enough. I mean, do an executive order on assault weapons ban, Mr. President. Sign an executive order on bump stocks. We don't need to wait for Jeff Sessions. You don't even like Jeff Sessions. What are we waiting for him for? Get some nice paper out. I'm sure you've got plenty of pens. Sign an executive order. I don't need any thank you. You heard Andy Pollack. He came to you and said you're going to fix it. You've done nothing to fix it. There's plenty of time. Do something.

BALDWIN: Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz, thank you.

MOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Under way right now, the South Koreans hand delivering a secret message from North Korea's Kim Jong-Un to the White House. Standby for that.

Also ahead, a new CNN investigation reveals the Russians are behind this Hillary Clinton video game that surfaced before the election. Standby for that.


[14:58:02] BALDWIN: CNN has learned that Russian trolls created and released this anti-Hillary Clinton video game. You heard me right. It's called Hilltendo. Tried to make this whole thing go viral weeks before the 2016 presidential election. It is one of the strangest ways that the Russians tried to influence the presidential election.

The game had three different sections. Level one, help Hillary delete as many classified e-mails before she's caught. Level two, how much money can she get from the Arab states. And level three, help Hillary throw the Constitution as far as possible. What?

"CNN Money" investigative reporter, Jose Pagliery, is with me.

This was I guess their attempt to emulate throwback Nintendo. It's creative, though.

JOSE PAGLIERY, CNN MONEY INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It is. It shows how far Russians are willing to go. The reason that Russian propaganda works, the reason the disinformation campaign works, they understand Americans and know how to subvert our system. They were looking to undermine the way we actually engage with each other.

BALDWIN: This didn't catch on, right?

PAGLIERY: No, it didn't.


BALDWIN: We're not hip to Nintendo.

PAGLIERY: No, it was viewed by 700,000 people or so and played by, it says, 19,000. So, no, they failed to make this go viral. But it shows that they were trying. It took a whole lot of work for my colleague and I to piece together the digital bread crumbs and trace it back all this time.

BALDWIN: So I guess we'll go online and check it out,

Jose, thank you very much. Hilltendo. Got it.

PAGLIERY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's continue on.

Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Moments from now, the president will lead a signing ceremony to hail his controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum. This happening hours after his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, pleaded not guilty to bank fraud and tax crimes. What more, President Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, just testified before the House Intelligence Committee. We heard from the ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, a minute ago, and he spoke about what Lewandowski would and would not answer in his second appearance before --