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Active Shooter in California; Attorney Used Trump E-Mail Address For Porn Star Deal; Trump Already Changing Mind on North Korea Meeting?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired March 9, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We start this hour with the announcement that stunned the world, the president of the United States agreeing to this unprecedented meeting with the North Korean dictator. Or is he?
We are now seeing signs that the meeting may not be set in stone after all, with the White House putting some conditions down first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And we're not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and rhetoric of North Korea.
We'd have to see concrete and verifiable actions take place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So here is an if.
If the meeting happens by May, as the president said it would, it would be the largest gamble to date for two defiantly stubborn leaders who have for months engaged in name-calling and a harrowing nuclear stare-down.
So let's start with John Park. He's the director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard Kennedy School.
So, John, first just your reaction from what we heard from the White House briefing and Sarah Sanders, actions must match words, not just stopping missile testing, proof, but proof of -- easy for me to say -- denuclearization. How did you interpret that?
JOHN PARK, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: What we're seeing is the retroactive thinking through what would actually have to take place in order for President Trump to meet with Kim Jong-un in May.
So the part about concrete actions now, that is actually a reference in many respects to what the Bush administration did with the process called nuclear disablement, the idea to disable components of the North Korean program from anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
The biggest sign of that, in 2008, the North Koreans with the senior U.S. official, Ambassador Sung Kim, at the time was overlooking on a hill as the North Koreans demolished a cooling tower. So that is one type of example. But there is going to be a lot more in terms of thoughts of what these concrete actions may be.
BALDWIN: How is that proven if we're talking about a meeting upcoming in the near future?
PARK: That is a part about the accelerated timeline.
Certainly by May is something that was set out there. We're piecing together what took place in the White House yesterday. This is when President Trump offered and then confirmed to meet with Kim Jong-un and that is where the South Korean national security adviser basically said he would have to get confirmation from his president.
President Trump then invited National Security Adviser Chung to call President Moon in Seoul, and on the spot that's where they got the agreement. So I don't think May is carved in stone, but the idea of working toward a summit is positive.
BALDWIN: OK. What about questions just about the logistics of the meetings, i.e., where does this even happen?
PARK: That is a part where if you look at the criteria, one, it's very unlikely that Kim Jong-un is going to travel outside of North Korea or far away from North Korea. Number two, a place where it would be considered very amenable to a host country of some kind.
And so if you look at these type of areas, you're basically looking at something close to the border with North Korea. And Panmunjom, this is the area at the demilitarized zone where President Moon of South Korea will be meeting with Kim Jong-un next month.
That is kind of a dress rehearsal. And I think that is a likely candidate spot.
BALDWIN: I know you say Kim Jong-un wouldn't travel out of North Korea. I just want to read this from Switzerland.
The foreign Ministry has put out this bit of information welcoming a potential meeting between the U.S. president and Kim Jong-un, but saying that it is up to the parties to decide if and where talks will be held.
John Park, thank you so much.
Got another great guest, Nicholas Kristof, columnist for "The New York Times" who has been to North Korea several times over.
Nick, you have pushed for direct talks for years. You had a piece in "The Times" today calling this whole thing a dangerous gamble. Why do you see this way? NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I feel like sort
of an awkward position because I have been calling for direct talks for all these years.
And when President Trump said last August that talking is not the answer, I was critical of that, and now all of a sudden he is embracing talking, and I'm critical. But I guess what I would say is I think it is a really healthy pivot to go from just talking about missile strikes to talking, to having direct talks.
But those direct talks should not begin at the presidential level. And I think that this is a gift to Kim Jong-un in which we did not extract anything in return.
And there is just a risk that things will go wrong and that we won't actually manage to achieve a peace process and a denuclearization, if we manage to avoid all the careful preparations that are essential in a case like this.
BALDWIN: I want to get to what is best for the U.S. out of this whole thing, but I'm also really interested in Kim Jong-un and his ultimate goal and his endgame.
And I'm wondering, if he is saying publicly I will nix the nukes, if that gives Trump no option but to come to him and then all of the attention, I mean, is he wondering down the road, oh, I want to unified Korea under Pyongyang and he has got to do all this as the first steps?
KRISTOF: The South Koreans are saying that Kim Jong-un is willing to talk about denuclearization. But we don't really know what that means.
And in the past, North Korea has talked about denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula if their security is guaranteed. And what they essentially have meant in the past is that if the U.S. cuts alliance with South Korea and pulls out all the U.S. troops from South Korea, then they will begin a process of getting rid of their nuclear weapons because they won't need them, but perhaps not in a verifiable way.
And that, of course, if that is what they mean now, that is not going to lead anywhere. It is also possible that Kim Jong-un I think genuinely wants to improve the North Korean economy. Maybe he is open to some kind of a grand bargain.
But I think that is a lot of heavy lifting. Verifying it, when we don't know where those nukes are, would be extraordinarily difficult. And so I think there is a lot of reason to be very skeptical about where we're going. And we have already given Kim Jong-un one thing that he wants, which is a promise of a meeting with the U.S. president.
BALDWIN: Isn't that -- just to hear Sarah Sanders reiterating there are no concessions on behalf of the U.S., but you agree just the fact that the president would show up is concession number one?
KRISTOF: Yes, exactly.
What North Korea craves above all is international respect, dignity, recognition, being treated at the same level as other nuclear powers, and especially the U.S. And that is why they wanted to have American presidents visit North Korea for decades now.
It's one reason why they have been willing to release American detainees only to very high-ranking U.S. officials such as former presidents. Ex-President Bill Clinton went to Pyongyang for the release of two of them.
And so this is something that they crave in and of itself. And we have -- simply by arranging this meeting, we have given something to them that they dearly want. And we have gotten nothing back from them in exchange.
BALDWIN: Also interesting, this is what we're getting from our correspondent in the east, this is Will Ripley saying that Kim Jong-un has apparently been studying Donald Trump, knowing that he is malleable, knowing that if you get an impressionable Trump in a room, maybe anything can happen.
From a Pyongyang perspective, Nick, is this a legitimate effort or is Trump just walking into a trap?
KRISTOF: Well, we didn't know whether it is legitimate. And I think we should surely test it, but I think we should have tested it by sending H.R. McMaster to Pyongyang, rather than have a summit.
When I was in North Korea most recently in late September, officials were asking all about Trump, about McMaster, about Tillerson. They want to understand them. And I think one thing that they noticed is that South Korea has been very successful in managing President Trump by flattering him.
And I'm sure that that has -- that they have taken note of that and that they will put that to use if there is indeed a summit.
BALDWIN: I was in South Korea and I was at the DMZ in September. And I was asking all about Kim Jong-un and Trump. And the overarching theme I kept hearing from people is they felt like they had a sense for years of what Kim Jong-un wants. It was Trump that no one really quite knew what he would do, what he would say.
Nick Kristof, thank you so much. Please, please come back.
KRISTOF: Good to be with you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Great talking to you.
We are following the other big story today, this whole Stormy Daniels saga, the new information that President Trump's personal attorney actually used his Trump Organization e-mail address to arrange this payment, this $130,000 payment to the porn star days before the presidential election.
That does not exactly jibe with what we have been told about the deal in the past. Be right back.
BALDWIN: We're back with more breaking news the afternoon here out of Napa County, California. A verterans home in Yountville is sheltering in place after reports of an active shooter.
CNN's Stephanie Elam is with me in California with just the first bit six of details.
Stephanie, what happened? What do you know?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
There is not a lot of details at this point. What we do know, Brooke, is that it happened at 10:40 a.m. local time, that there was a report of shots fired. There is also reports of a man in body armor showing up at the Yountville Veterans Home.
We know that this is about 600 acres. It's right there next to Napa. People may have heard of the restaurant French Laundry. It is not far from there, just back behind that.
What we do know is that this happened near the main dining hall and they are asking people to shelter in place on this campus, that they have a lockdown in place there. We know about 1,000 veterans do live on this 600-acre property.
We also know that the CHP SWAT team is on their way. There were reports of like 30 shots being fired. But we still do not have any indication of anyone that has been hurt. There's been no reports of any injuries at this point. But we continue to monitor this one, Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. We have got the live pictures, so we can see how large the grounds of the campus is, as you pointed out, 1,000 veterans living at this facility.
As soon as he get any more information, and I know it is tough in the beginnings of stories like these where we don't have a lot, and we need to be crystal-clear and precise in our reporting.
Stephanie, thank you so much. We will pop you back in front of the camera as you soon get anything else, so we can report on those veterans in California.
Let's send it back to the breaking news here out of Florida, the governor there signing a new school safety bill in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, you are going to hear from him.
Also, we're following breaking news in things Stormy Daniels. The new information we just have this afternoon pertaining to the president's personal attorney and how we've learned that he used the Trump Organization e-mail address in paying out this $130,000 -- why that is significant, the legal implications, when we come back.
BALDWIN: Welcome back.
According to CNN sources, it is the controversy some White House officials fear will dwarf the others. Now there is even more breaking news about this porn star who says she was paid to stay quiet about an alleged affair with the president 12 years ago.
CNN has learned that the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used his Trump org.com e-mail address to actually negotiate this $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. However, Cohen has said he made the payment personally with zero ties to both the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization.
Now, Daniels just filed suit against the president saying that he did not actually physically sign that nondisclosure agreement directing her to keep quiet about their alleged relationship.
But let's hone in on this e-mail address here.
With me now, civil and family law attorney Erin Ehrlich, and Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor.
So, welcome to both of you.
And just jumping right now in, the fact that Cohen used this Trump.org e-mail address, what are the legal implications and questions you have?
ERIN EHRLICH, CIVIL AND FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, the threshold issue in this case is, who is the party to this agreement?
The Trump administration, the White House, and Michael Cohen have all come out on the record and said the president had no knowledge of this.
But now we're finding out that there may actually be some kind of a connection to the Trump administration. They may have in fact known, which would potentially give some credence to Stormy Daniels' premise of her lawsuit, which is that he was in fact a party to this nondisclosure agreement and that his signature was required for it to be enforceable.
BALDWIN: Let me just pause and let me read part of this Cohen statement. Daniel, to you: "Neither of the Trump Organization nor the Trump
campaign was party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford" -- Daniels' real name -- "and neither reimbursed me for the payment either directly or indirectly."
But when he says Trump Organization wasn't party, and he is e-mailing and negotiating this $130,000 payout from the Trump Organization e- mail, isn't that directly contradicting what he is saying?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: In some ways, yes. The issue here...
BALDWIN: In some ways.
GOLDMAN: In some ways, yes, but, in some ways, no.
If could be that that is his e-mail address and that he is using it in furtherance of a negotiation outside of the confines of this agreement, in other words, that the Trump Organization is not actually a party to this agreement, but Michael Cohen as the lawyer for the Trump Organization is negotiating that.
Why that is particularly relevant, though is that it gets closer and closer to Donald Trump. Right now, the White House is saying that Donald Trump didn't know anything about this, he wasn't a party to this, he had nothing to do with this, this is all Michael Cohen.
GOLDMAN: But if Michael Cohen is representing the Trump Organization in connection with these negotiations, then he has an obligation to let the Trump Organization know and its president and CEO, Donald Trump, about what he is doing in relation to this.
That brings up ethical rules. And that is part of what Stormy Daniels' argument is, that he must have known, because Michael Cohen had to have told him under New York ethics rules.
BALDWIN: OK. Well, the good news, as David Chalian pointed out, our CNN political director, the fact that the president just doesn't e- mail. So you know if you are looking into these e-mails and you are not going on some mega-fishing expedition, but you are still looking to germane e-mails, right, with regard to this, that you could see -- what are you looking for?
EHRLICH: Well, I think it depends on who you are.
There are so many facets to this. You have got the Stormy Daniels facet, which is sort of losing a little bit of steam. People are now thinking in the larger terms about potential violations of federal election law.
BALDWIN: That's the biggie. EHRLICH: And what ultimately could happen is we're going to find out, once you go into the e-mails, if this litigation is allowed to continue, the discovery process will start.
The e-mails that are germane to the litigation will be revealed. We could start to see where this money is coming from. Mr. Cohen is going out and saying that he, out of his own good will, dished out $130,000.
BALDWIN: Which he really wants back, according to "The Wall Street Journal."
EHRLICH: Everybody is sort of raising eyebrows. How good of a friend are you? It's $130,000 out of your own pocket. It doesn't make sense. It just doesn't pass the smell test.
BALDWIN: OK. Go ahead.
GOLDMAN: And the bigger question is, are there others?
BALDWIN: There are other people named in the lawsuit, including this woman Jessica Drake, Angel Ryan, AKA Jessica Drake, who accused the president of forcibly kissing her in 2006.
Stormy Daniels' attorney was laying out the case this morning as to why the American people need to know. Bottom line, I wondered the same thing. Are there other women?
GOLDMAN: Right. And she is represented by Gloria Allred, who is not commenting on this. And it is not Gloria Allred's practice generally not to comment.
So there may be some suspicions as to whether or not there are other agreements like this, and if there are, then it really does go back to, is there is a lot of hush money being paid in the wake of that "Access Hollywood" tape to quiet other people in connection with the election?
And then that violates all sorts of campaign finance laws, potentially.
BALDWIN: Dot, dot, dot.
GOLDMAN: To be continued.
BALDWIN: Daniel and Erin, thank you both so much on that.
EHRLICH: Thanks for having us.
GOLDMAN: Thank you. BALDWIN: We do have an update for you on the situation there at that
veterans facility in Yountville, California, in Napa County.
Police activity at the veterans home. We are getting new detail. We're getting more information for you. And we're watching the scene. So we will have that ahead.
Also, the White House today in the briefing backing off just slightly from President Trump's announcement yesterday evening to meet with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. If and when that happens, let's talk logistics. What would the meeting look like and who has the most to gain?
Back in a moment.