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Trump's Lawyer Used Trump Org Email for Porn Star Deal; White House Briefing as Trump Agrees to Meeting with Kim Jong Un. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired March 9, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we are, you're watching CNN on a Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.
Any moment now, we will watch what is sure to be an intense White House briefing get under way.
Officials could celebrate a big moment in nuclear arms history. President Trump says that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un. He will be the first sitting president, sitting U.S. president, to do so.
The White House will also be confronted with breaking details on this story that is causing all kinds of high anxiety within the West Wing. What did Trump know about a payout to keep a porn star quiet about their alleged affair?
We are now learning President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen actually used the Trumporg.com e-mail to negotiate this $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen has said he paid the money on his own, that there was zero connection to the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.
Here is more from Stormy Daniels' attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: I think this development is significant because it shows that at all times during the communication process relating to the negotiation surrounding this hush payment that Mr. Cohen was utilizing his Trump Organization e- mail in those communications. Not just when communicating with Mr. Davidson, Ms. Clifford's attorney at the time, but also internally when he was communicating with the bank about the specific issue of transferring money. They say always follow the money and this goes directly to following the money to show exactly where this money came from. So, we think it's a substantial development.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So let's start with our CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin. Tell me -- tell everyone watching why it is so important, you know,
that this payment, this $130,000, be from Cohen's personal account instead of the Trump.org account.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it all involves whether or not the president knew or not.
Look, the whole idea at the beginning of this, Brooke, to keep this affair quiet is just completely unraveled, OK? So, now, we have all the details about this affair, 2006, 2007, et cetera, et cetera. The question now is, was this payment made, one, to aid a candidate in getting elected and, two, did that candidate know this payment was made to aid him in getting elected? That I think is the legal question that the Federal Election Commission would zero in on. The rest is kind of a contract dispute between Stormy Daniels and President Trump.
But what this e-mail shows is that Michael Cohen under e-mails of Trumporg.com was basically using company e-mail to facilitate this transaction. That opens up the question of whether or not the president could, should or would have known. But also if this ever gets to disclosure, now you have a window into on Trumporg.com e-mail accounts for on Stormy Daniels' attorneys to discover.
So, I think, you know, we've seen -- we've been a lot of critics have come out against Michael Cohen for the sloppy way he has handled this non-disclosure agreement. This may be one of the more damning sloppy details that wasn't attended to.
BALDWIN: Complaining recently according to the reporting from the "Wall Street Journal" that he hadn't been paid back the $130,000 and now, the news about using his work e-mail address.
Drew Griffin, stand by.
Let's talk with the legal ramifications of this whole thing. Areva Martin is with me, attorney and CNN legal analyst.
Listen, I know a lot of people use their work e-mail for personal things. That falls in one category. This is perhaps quite different. What are the legal implications of a Michael Cohen who is the man ultimately running for president's personal attorney, what are the implications of him using that work e-mail address?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it really raises the question, Brooke, about who is telling the truth in some this entire situation. We've heard the White House and Michael Cohen state over and over again that the Trump Organization and that Donald Trump himself had no knowledge about what was happening with respect to this negotiation and payments.
MARTIN: This seems to undermine that and clearly put on to the president, you know, a need to explain how is it that someone who is working for him, not just his private attorney, but someone who's involved in his organization, because otherwise you wouldn't have access to the Trump.org email. If he is just a personal attorney working in his private law firm, why is he using the campaign organization's e-mail?
So, I don't think the president or his team can continue to make the assertion that Michael Cohen had no communication with Donald Trump during the time period that he is negotiating this settlement.
[14:05:05] And this has been said over again, but I think it's worst noting.
MARTIN: Michael Cohen is barred by the state of New York. And he is bound by ethical rules when he handles matters on behalf of his clients. And those bar rules require him to communicate important information about a case to his client.
So, if you are negotiating $130,000 settlement, you have an obligation under those bar rules to communicate with your client and this e-mail puts us one step closer I think to proving and establishing that those communications were taking place.
BALDWIN: We have a statement from Michael Cohen. We'll get to that in a second. Areva, I have so much more for you. Please do not move a muscle.
Just to remind, everyone, we are waiting for that White House briefing to begin. Sarah Sanders back behind that podium. You know today, she's going to be on the receiving end of a lot of tough questions about precisely what we've been discussing.
It will also be this first briefing since we learned the huge news that President Trump was upset with how she handled Stormy Daniels' questions earlier in the week. More on that and the anxiety this story is causing all within the White House.
The other big breaking piece of information in the last 24 hours, the fact that President Trump has now stunned the world agreeing to meet with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un and the question everyone is wondering, is this an opportunity or is he walking into a trap? And where was the on secretary of state while all of this was playing out at the White House?
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
[14:10:58] BALDWIN: Any moment now, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will be taking to the podium for the first time after upsetting the president just a couple of days ago with her admission that Trump did in fact have ties to this porn actress Stormy Daniels stopping short of admitting an affair, but confessing to an arbitration.
So, David Chalian is with me, CNN political director. And Areva Martin is back with me now.
So, David Chalian, OK, here is my question to you. You know, aside from Michael Cohen sort of coming out of this whole thing looking like he has gone to rent an attorney law school and, you know, the president having maybe not the best moral compass, what is the worst possible outcome really for the president in this?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know that there will be a legal outcome --
BALDWIN: Politically speaking is what I'm asking.
CHALIAN: Yes, politically speaking, I'm not sure that there's going to be a huge amount of negative impact for him. I think that this is not new information about the president's alleged behavior. It's been out there. I think it was baked in -- I'm not even sure, Brooke, quite frankly if indeed this affair was revealed before the election that it would have had an impact on the election at that point. Remember, he had been through the "Access Hollywood" tape.
BALDWIN: Grab them by the you-know-what. Yes, there we go.
CHALIAN: Yes, exactly. But I do -- but I do think there is a fundamental issue of whether or not the president is telling the truth to the American people and that deserves our attention or whether or not he is trying to cover something up. That's one thing that I think is important.
The other thing that I think is important with maybe the worse impact for him personally and on the presidency is it strains the relationship with the first lady and that becomes a whole different kind of distraction from his work for the country.
So, I think that there are real issues to look at here even if at the end of the day, I don't think he's going to lose support over it necessarily.
BALDWIN: OK. Back to the legal conversation, and, Areva, to you, just talking about how this attorney Michael Cohen used the Trump Org e-mail address, would the fact that he did that show any sort of, I don't know, coordination within the Trump Organization, would it put the Trump organization at risk, and then also couldn't they since it is a work e-mail address actually have access to all the e-mails pertaining to this?
MARTIN: Yes, very good questions, Brooke. One thing is for sure, there is a pending civil lawsuit that has been filed by Stormy Daniels' new attorney. And if that lawsuit proceeds and the lawyer is taking the position that this settlement agreement that includes an arbitration clause, that it's not valid because Trump didn't sign that agreement, that is happening in this arbitration and an arbitrator will decide that.
But in the civil action that's moving forward, there will be discovery, there will be an opportunity for a deposition possibly of Donald Trump. There will be an opportunity to ask written questions that have to be answered under oath and to issue subpoenas. So, very much we should expect that there will be a request to get all of those e-mails, to follow the e-mail chain to see if any e-mails were forwarded to Donald Trump or anyone else in the Trump Organization.
And we know that the banks that are involved in this transfer of the $130,000 flagged for the transfer.
BALDWIN: They flagged it.
MARTIN: They flagged them.
So, we don't know if the Treasury Department is involved. If the IRS is involved. And we know there is the Mueller investigation, the special counsel investigation is going on. And we know that there is some indication that he is looking at this money trail.
So might he get involved, get interested in where this money came from, if this money was indeed used to prevent Stormy Daniels from telling her story advance the president, to help him in his election? We know it happen $11 days before the actual election of 2016.
So I don't think we can say with any degree of certainty that Trump is out of or not in legal jeopardy with new information that's been revealed. And, in fact, I think it makes the question even more compelling that there are probably also legal troubles ahead for the president.
BALDWIN: Well --
CHALIAN: I think, Brooke, the president is really happy he is not an e-mailer.
BALDWIN: There you go. You're right. He's not.
CHALIAN: He doesn't use email. I think he is probably pretty happy about that.
BALDWIN: There are other people named in this lawsuit.
[14:15:00] Three other people, I was reading this morning, about a woman Jessica Drake, she is one of them. She has accused Trump of harassment. So which led me to wonder when I was reading about this, this morning, David Chalian, of course, well, how many other women might there be. And how does Sarah Sanders handle questions on this in mere minutes.
CHALIAN: It's such a good question. I think after her outing on Wednesday at the podium where she sort of breathed more life into this, if you will, my guess -- I don't know this -- but my guess is she's going to stick to the line of just deflecting this completely to outline counsel and not deviate from that script, because the last thing she wants is to anything to give in more life than it currently has.
(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: And she made the statement about he won the arbitration, that was such an odd statement because before that, they had been denying that he had any knowledge of this. So you win an arbitration by definition, you are acknowledging that you are a party to that arbitration.
BALDWIN: No, when all of us heard about her mentioning the arbitration, we were like it was a record scratch moment I think for a lot of reporters thinking what is she referring to.
Areva and David, thank you both so much. Stand by.
Also just a quick programming note, Stormy Daniels' attorney will be joining Anderson Cooper live tonight, 8:00, to discuss this news that this Trump Org e-mail address that was used. So, that's tonight at 8:00 here on CNN.
As we wait for this briefing to begin, new behind the scenes details on President Trump's stunning announcement agreeing to meet with North Korea's Kim Jung-un. We will talk about how this could potentially play out, where they could actually come face-to-face. And why the stakes are so incredibly high.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- evidence that the American Dream is back and real under President Trump's leadership. Based on the jobs report, the president's economic policies of historic tax cuts and deregulation are working.
The Obama administration was losing around 1,000 jobs a month in the manufacturing industry. But since the president's election, manufacturing jobs have increased by 275,000.
Over 300,000 jobs were created in February alone, bringing the total number of jobs created since president Trump was elected to nearly 3 million.
The federal government is getting out of the way, and the American people are innovating, building, and creating jobs.
In other news today, the president has pardoned Kristian Saucier, a Navy submariner. Mr. Saucier was 22 years old at the time of his offenses, and has served out his 12-month sentence. He has been recognized by his fellow service members for his dedication, skill, and patriotic spirit.
While serving, he regularly mentored younger sailors and served as an instructor for new recruits. The sentencing judge found that Mr. Saucier's offense stands in contrast to his commendable military service. The president is appreciative of Mr. Saucier's service to the country.
With that, I will take your questions -- John.
REPORTER: Sarah, what are the considerations that are under discussion for the location that this meeting between the president and Kim Jong-un would take place?
SANDERS: Yes, as we said last night, a time and place have not yet been determined. We'll certainly make those announcements when more decisions and more information is available on that front.
REPORTER: But what are the considerations that are under discussion for where this could take place? I mean, you wouldn't -- I take it you wouldn't want to have it in downtown Pyongyang.
SANDERS: Yes, and we're not going to have those conversations between me, and you, and the press. Those will be conversations that take place at a much higher level, and, certainly, outside of this room.
REPORTER: And just if I could --
REPORTER: The South Korean national security advisor said that the U.S. responded positively to a South Korean request for a waiver on the steel tariffs. Could you tell us where you are on that?
SANDERS: As the president's proclamation said yesterday, there were two countries that were specifically excluded, and there would be the opportunity for us to negotiate on matters of national security with other countries. And we're going to be doing that with a number of different countries.
REPORTER: Sarah, does the president think that Kim Jong-un is sincere about talking about denuclearization?
SANDERS: The president is hopeful that we can make some continued progress. Look, what we know is that the maximum pressure campaign has clearly been effective. We know that it has put a tremendous amount of pressure on North Korea.
And they have made some major promises. They've made promises to denuclearize.
[14:20:00] They've made promises to stop nuclear and missile testing. And they've recognized that regular military exercises between the U.S. and its ally, South Korea, will continue.
The maximum pressure campaign, we're not letting up. We're not going to step back or make any changes to that. We're going to continue in that effort, and we're not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea.
REPORTER: But does he think that Kim Jong-un can be trusted as a negotiating partner?
SANDERS: Look, we're not in the negotiation right now. We've accepted the invitation to talk, based on them following through with concrete actions on the promises that they've made. Jeff?
REPORTER: And if I could just ask you just one other thing. Lindsey Graham said about this news. He said: A word of warning to North Korean president Kim Jong Un, the worst possible thing you can do with Donald Trump, in person, is to meet with him in person and try to play him. If you do that, it will be the end of you and your regime.
Is Lindsey Graham reading the president correct on that? Is that a correct --
SANDERS: I think that Lindsey Graham knows that President Trump is one of the best negotiators. And certainly, I think that he has great confidence in his ability, and is glad that he'll be the one at the table for the United States. I think Senator Graham has been on the other side of that, and certainly knows the capabilities and the determination of President Trump.
REPORTER: Sarah, why did the president accept this invitation without any preconditions? For example, without demanding that the North Koreans release the three Americans that are being held there.
SANDERS: Look, that's something that we're going to continue advocating for and pushing for. But let's not forget that the North Koreans did promise something. They've promised to denuclearize.
They've promised to stop nuclear and missile testing, and they've recognized that we're going to continue in our military exercises.
Let's be very clear: The United States has made zero concessions. But North Korea has made some promises. And, again, this meeting won't take place without concrete actions that match the promises that have been made by North Korea.
REPORTER: And I wanted to follow up on that because you just said that now. Do you think that a two-month time period is enough time to make sure that they will actually fulfill those promises? He said he wants to do it by May.
SANDERS: Look, we're working on the determination of the time. But let's not be lost in the fact that this didn't happen overnight. This maximum pressure campaign and this process has been ongoing since the president first took office.
For the first time in a long time, the United States is actually having conversations from a position of strength, not a position of weakness, like the one that North Korea finds itself in due to the maximum pressure campaign.
REPORTER: Does that mean it might not be May?
SANDERS: Again, I -- we haven't set a time or a location. Those things have yet to be determined. REPORTER: Sarah, you said they promised to denuclearize. Did they promise to denuclearize or did they promise to talk about denuclearizing?
SANDERS: The understanding, the message from the South Korean delegation is that they would denuclearize. And that is what our ultimate goal has always been, and that will have to be part of the actions that we see them take.
REPORTER: Is that before or after the meeting?
SANDERS: We'd have to see concrete and verifiable actions take place.
REPORTER: Before the meeting?
SANDERS: Yes. Yes.
REPORTER: Sarah, isn't the president giving Kim Jong-un exactly what he wants, which is respect and stature on the international stage?
SANDERS: Not at all. I think that the president is getting exactly what he wants. He is getting the opportunity to have the North Koreans actually denuclearize.
Look, you have to remember, nothing is changing from the United States' position. We're going to continue the maximum pressure campaign. We're going to continue working with our allies and partners to do that. And we're going to continue to ask them to step up and do more.
Nothing is changing from our side when it comes to this conversation.
REPORTER: But there's no guarantee this will be any more than a photo op? Kim Jong-un gets his equal footing, in his view, on the world stage, with the leader of the free world, and the president gets nothing.
SANDERS: I certainly disagree with -- I definitely don't think that the president is getting nothing, when we've already said -- and, frankly, I've said it many times since walking in here in the last 10 minutes -- that the president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea.
So, the president would actually be getting something, and, frankly, the world would be getting something. If we can get to a place where North Korea is denuclearizing, that is a massive step and it's something that will make the entire globe much safer. And even President Moon has said that this is because of the leadership of President Trump.
REPORTER: And one small follow-up question, which is -- and I apologize for that -- which is, given the economic news and the North Korea news, what words would you use to describe the president's mood right now?
SANDERS: The president is in a great mood. The president has been in a great mood because we've had not just a successful couple of days; we've had a successful year. And we're very focused on making sure we have seven more.
REPORTER: Sarah, thank you.
Top officials at the White House and at the Pentagon seemed to be taken by surprise by the announcement. Was this done in a haphazard way?
SANDERS: Not at all. As I said, that this has been part of an ongoing campaign that's been going for over a year. And just because some of the individuals that may regularly leak to the press weren't involved in the conversation doesn't mean that the appropriate parties that lead those agencies were not in the room and not part of that discussion.
REPORTER: But the president came here to the briefing room, though, before reaching out to the president of China. Is that appropriate? Should he not have reached out to his international partners first before making an announcement here?
SANDERS: Look, we had ongoing conversations with leaders across the world. The president simply said there would be an announcement. He had several conversations with world leaders, both last night and today.
REPORTER: Were you aware he would make this decision beforehand?
SANDERS: Again, the president had conversations with a few world leaders, both last night and today. This is something that all of these countries have been working together on and something that we're going to continue to work with our allies and partners on.
REPORTER: And was the secretary of state aware that he was going to make that decision, Sarah?
SANDERS: Yeah, and the secretary of state's deputy was in the room at the time these conversations went on. So it's absurd to pretend like they weren't part of this process and haven't been part of this process all along.
REPORTER: Sarah, to follow on what Peter was asking, how will the president and the United States be able to verify this before the meeting? How will they be able to verify the denuclearization?
SANDERS: That's something that will be determined through the national security and intelligence community. Certainly not something I would read out to you guys from here.
REPORTER: The president has said repeatedly that previous presidents, his predecessors, have mishandled this and misplayed this. Why can he be so confident that this is the right move, when, just in October, he was telling his own secretary of state it would be a waste of time to talk directly?
SANDERS: Well, I think it's really clear that they've misplayed it, or we wouldn't be in the position that we're in. The president wouldn't be having to clean up the mistakes of the previous three administrations. The president is getting promises out of North Korea that haven't been made in any recent years.
And again, we are going to continue the maximum pressure campaign to make sure that they follow through on these commitments.
REPORTER: Who would he like to have with him --
SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to keep moving.
REPORTER: If I could just ask, who would he like to have with him at the meeting? The secretary of state? I mean, there is not an ambassador now in South Korea. Does he plan to step up more before this meeting?
SANDERS: Look, the president has an incredible team that is surrounding him, both from the national security advisor, secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the intelligence community. But at the end of the day, the ultimate person to lead that negotiation -- or that conversation and be at the table will be the president.
REPORTER: Thanks a lot, Sarah.
The North Korean government has made promises before. They've reneged on those promises in two prior administrations. What's different now? Why should we trust Kim Jong-un now?
SANDERS: Again, because the United States is going to continue that maximum pressure campaign. We are making no concessions and we are not going to move forward until we see concrete and verified actions taking place by North Korea. We are also operating from a position of strength that we haven't had in previous administrations due to the maximum pressure campaign -- not just by the United States.
Let's not forget that a lot of our allies and partners, like China, South Korea, Japan, have stepped up and done infinitely more over the past year due to the president's leadership than they have in the previous administrations.
So, this is a collective effort to put that pressure on North Korea, and it's going to continue. North Korea is in a place of weakness, and that is certainly recognized by the promises that they've made through this conversation.
REPORTER: Kim Jong-un has starved his own people, he's murdered his own people. You could say he's responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier. Why put him on the same stage as the president of the United States?
SANDERS: Look, the president wants to make sure that we denuclearize the peninsula, and that we're securing and helping have a safer world.
I'm glad that you guys are acknowledging a lot of the problems of North Korea, because just a couple of weeks ago, a lot of members in the press were actually elevating North Korea and some of the members of the regime, and comparing them to people in the United States and in this administration.
I think that is actually what put North Korea on a similar stage. No action by this administration has even remotely demonstrated a level of rise that the media did during the Olympics and through some of those stories.
REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah.
Yesterday, the South Korean official came out to the stakeout location and said that this meeting would be taking place by May. But you did not say that in your original statement; that's not what you said today, that a place and time has not been set. So, was there some sort of a miscommunication about that? Because that was definitely what had been said by Mr. Chung yesterday evening.
SANDERS: No. I'm simply saying that a time and place haven't yet been set.
REPORTER: OK. And so, moving on from that point, can you kind of explain to us how this did end up coming about last night? Because we had the president pop his head in here at roughly close of business to say to some reporters who were around that there was going to be this announcement --
SANDERS: Maybe that's you all's close of business. Our hours must be a little later than you all's.