Return to Transcripts main page


Nunberg, Lewandowski Testify in Russia Meddling Probe; White House Appears to Put Conditions on Kim-Trump Meeting; Three Hostages, Gunman Dead at Veterans Treatment Center. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 10, 2018 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: WHITFIELD: This all comes as President Trump prepares to hit the campaign trail today. He'll be stumping for a Pennsylvania Republican who is also in danger of losing in a district that President Trump carried by 20 points.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House for us.

Boris, this is a controversy that is not going away any time soon.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. There's the Stormy Daniels saga with these new revelations about Michael Cohen's use of Trump e-mail to communicate with Stormy Daniel's attorney and facilitate this nondisclosure agreement.

Cohen has denied he did this with the president's knowledge. He essentially put out a statement saying that his use of the Trump Organization e-mail means nothing. Here's that statement now. He writes, quote, "The use of my company e-mail to communicate with the bank and Miss Clifford's former counsel proves absolutely nothing despite the less-than-convincing comments offered by Mr. Avenatti." Mr. Avenatti being Stephanie Clifford's current attorney. He says, "I use this e-mail address for virtually everything, as many people do."

That statement still doesn't answer a question brought up in one specific e-mail exchange where Michael Cohen says he couldn't facilitate a payment to Daniels because the Trump Organization offices were closed for a holiday.

Despite all of that, the White House is not really saying much about the Stormy Daniels' controversy. Sarah Sanders has denied the president has anything to do with the allegations against him. She says the White House has said enough, something she reiterated multiple types this week about the controversy.

Here's one exchange she had with a reporter just yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said from the podium, you acknowledge the president, to follow up April's question, knows about the arbitration involving Stormy Daniels. So does he remember speaking with his lawyer about that? Does he remember meeting Daniels --

(CROSSTALK) SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have addressed this extensively. I don't have anything else to add.



I'll take one last question.


SANCHEZ: They say they've dealt with this extensively. But they still haven't really said anything about the fact that Daniels is now filing a lawsuit against the president or answering further questions about that arbitration Sarah Sanders brought up earlier in the week.

As you noted, Fred, the president heads to western Pennsylvania this evening. He's campaigning for Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania district number 18, the district the president won by 20 points. But Republican strategists are telling CNN that they're doubtful they can hold on to this seat. Not only is there momentum for Democrats, because we're in the first midterm of a Republican presidency, but also, they're concerned about these controversies potentially having an effect on the president's base. Not only Stormy Daniels, but the Russia investigation, the issue of tariffs, may actually play in the president's favor here. But with other Republicans challenging him, it spells disarray within the party. It will be interesting to see what happens. This could signal an alarm for Republicans as we await the midterm elections in November -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much, from the White House.

Earlier this morning, Stormy Daniels' attorney appeared on CNN and spoke with Michael Smerconish.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: Has anyone offered to pony up the million dollars to protect her and say here, I'm good for it, go tell your story?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: At least 10 individuals in the last three days alone.

SMERCONISH: Ten individuals in the last three days alone. Are any of them Larry Flynn?

AVENATTI: No, not that I know of.

SMERCONISH: Is she contemplating taking any of those 10 offers?


SMERCONISH: Does she think, in retrospect, that 130K was chump change? Because after all, he was elected president. I'm really asking whether that amount was determined by her perhaps believing the polls a week out from the election, hey, he's not going to win anyway, I may as well take the money?

AVENATTI: No. I think when and if she's able to tell her story the American people are going to learn how that amount was arrived at among the parties. But this isn't about her having buyer's remorse. It really isn't.


WHITFIELD: So what is all of this about? Let's bring in our political panel. Robert Zimmerman is a Democratic strategist and a member of the Democratic National Committee. Ben Ferguson is a CNN political commentator. Also joining us, Joey Jackson, who is a CNN legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney, coming to us from New Orleans, I think, right?


WHITFIELD: All right, gentlemen.

So, Joey, let me begin with you.

What really is keeping Stormy Daniels from talking more about her story if her attorney says it's nothing to do with money. And, remember, the attorney has also said that since President Trump didn't sign that nondisclosure agreement, there really isn't an agreement. So what's keeping her from talking further?

[12:04:52] JACKSON: The nondisclosure agreement. Simply because her lawyer is of the view that because it's not signed it's valid, I don't know that others share that view. Certainly, it's a contract. It was an offer to keep quiet. It was acceptance of that offer. There was a monetary provision of $130,000 paid in satisfaction to negotiate and otherwise keep her silent. That's why you see her lawyer going to court, trying to get what's called a declaratory agreement. That means declare the agreement null and void. What I think will happen is she'll tell her story anyway. Also keep in mind not only would she be subject -- even give back the $130,000, but there's what's called a liquidated damage provision in the contract, which says she has to pay $1 million for each breach of that contract. So if someone comes forward -- and there you saw Michael Smerconish speaking about her -- if she's deemed to be in violation, she will be responsible for paying that money.

WHITFIELD: So, Ben, really at issue here is not just the alleged affair, but about a character, and about a deal potentially made to protect an image prior to the election. And, bottom line, does this become a security threat? Does it show this alleged relationship, show any real vulnerability the president of the United States has to blackmail?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it does. I think what you're seeing here -- and I'll give Stormy Daniels kudos for at least being intellectually honest about it. This is great for her career. I'll tell you why she has not told her story yet. Because the build-up to the story is making her an insane amount of money. She has become one of the most Googled people in history. Someone said she's now by far the most famous adult star ever.

WHITFIELD: Right, but is that the side bar --


FERGUSON: -- decision she could have ever made on her own.

WHITFIELD: Ben, I wonder if that's the side bar, really the crux of it is the vulnerability of the president?

FERGUSON: I don't think so. I think everybody basically knows what the story is at this point. That his attorneys wanted to protect Donald Trump and his interests. Made a payment. She agreed to it. Now she's exploiting that agreement to her advantage to make what many have said is probably millions of dollars before she even does an interview or gets a big book deal or does a big sit-down here. Outside of that, this is tabloids meets politics of the president. It's a perfect storm for somebody like Stormy Daniels to make a lot of money off this.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST & MEMBER, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It's a much bigger issue here, Ben, than Stormy Daniels making a lot of money. If you look at the way an adult film actress and her lawyer have tied up the White House and the Trump administration and the president and his lawyers in one lie after another, one falsehood -- they've been exposed to one falsehood over another over this affair that everyone knows took place. No one believes the White House or the president's attorney.


FERGUSON: That is the --


ZIMMERMAN: I didn't interrupt you, Ben.

And you can only imagine --


ZIMMERMAN: Excuse me.


WHITFIELD: Hold on, Ben. Let Robert say the whole thing. You can you respond.

ZIMMERMAN: The president has denied this. No one believes it. But the bigger point is this, this White House has been caught in one lie after another discussing the matter. If this is what an adult film star and her lawyer can do to this administration, think about what the Russians can do to this administration.


ZIMMERMAN: When say this -- when you dismiss this, Ben, and everyone knows what the score is. Let's be very clear. This should make us extremely sad to see a president --


WHITFIELD: Well, I wonder, Ben, because there have been very different versions that have come out, even from the attorney. First, there was no payment. And then there was a payment. There was an LLC. And then it was, you know -- now this home equity line of credit. So, I mean, there have been a number of stories told. And why is that?

FERGUSON: Well, first of all --

WHITFIELD: Why not just be honest about it? What is being hidden?

FERGUSON: First of all, none of this would have come out if she would have abided by the agreement which she took $130,000 for --


ZIMMERMAN: But that's not the point.

FERGUSON: Let me finish.

ZIMMERMAN: Doesn't excuse the president's lawyer lying.

FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish.

So if the attorney comes out and says, I'm not talking about this, I'm not giving up new information, that's not a lie. That's just agreeing to the agreement. Now, when they have clearly exploited this to their advantage, so Stormy Daniels makes more money and makes millions of dollars off this, then naturally new information is going to come out from his attorney of Donald Trump. I mean, you're going to have to do that. The bottom line --


ZIMMERMAN: But the question is not that, Ben. The question is do you believe the information --


FERGUSON: Wait, let me --

ZIMMERMAN: Do you honestly --


FERGUSON: A moment ago, you talked about being honest here. The only person here that is not being honest is Stormy Daniels for not agreeing to what she agreed to in a contract and took $100,000-plus. She has exploited that. If you want to talk about honesty --


WHITFIELD: There's a lot of dishonesty it seems.


WHITFIELD: It does seem like there's a lot of dishonesty because there's a lot of changing of stories.

This is what Stormy Daniels said just last night when our reporter, Nick Valencia, caught up with her in Florida. Listen.


[12:10:08] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So what has this done for your career?

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR (voice-over): It's sort of been a double-edged sword. Where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So it's -- I'm getting more, more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month. Now I'm dancing three or four times a month. But it's overshadowing a lot of films I'm supposed to be promoting and a lot of mainstream projects I was working on have been put on hold.

VALENCIA: You've gotten a lot of attention. Some of it, some negative attention. How are you handling everything?

DANIELS: I've been in the adult business for 17 years. So to make it that long in that business, you have to have a really tough skin. And so it's -- most of it rolls off my shoulders because it's an opinion like, oh, you think I'm a whore, you think I'm ugly, I'm old, my boobs are too small or too big. I've heard -- there's nothing along those lines that someone can say to me I haven't heard. When someone says, hey, you're a whore, I'm like, that is successful whore to you.


WHITFIELD: Joey, this is a consequence, you know, of it being publicized, this alleged affair. But then when you talk about, you know, the lies about the affair, that's one thing. But it's really -- what really is at issue is the transactions and the stories about the financial transactions. Talk to us, Josey, about the legal road, and really why the Mueller team might be particularly interested in a pattern of transactions along with or in concert with a pattern of lies.

JACKSON: You know, you have your finger right on the pulse, Fredricka, because what you're doing is following the money. And if you follow the money, you get to the truth. And so the ultimate issue here is whether or not there were any laws broken. The point is, it could be seen as a campaign donation, right? In the middle of the campaign, just prior to the campaign, you have this hush money being paid. So the ultimate issue is whether or not it's if campaign finance or if it's not reported or disclosed on the form, a lie, and in the event it's an illegal campaign contribution, then you have a Department of Justice investigation that could lead, as we saw by analogy, in the case of John Edwards who formerly ran for president as a Democrat, he was acquitted of the single count and the jury hung on the other counts. But you can tie up the president and the White House if you can prove that. So the money trail is going to say a lot, at the end of the day, with regard to whether something legal or illegal happened.

WHITFIELD: And isn't it --


WHITFIELD: Is it true that the president or even that the Treasury secretary could have the power to follow the money, get to the bottom of the money of this transaction of Michael Cohen's, you know, home equity line of credit and transferring that money into the account of Stormy Daniels, Joey?

JACKSON: You know, I think it's more likely that you'll see it be done by the Federal Elections Commission. You know, they're certainly in charge, the regulatory body of fact. If something's amiss it will refer it to the Department of Justice. And all this in the midst of a much broader and wider investigation. Remember, Fredricka, it's not only about following the money and seeing where it leads and whether it was illegal. But when you start by calling people in to talk about it, as we've seen in another investigation, it's about whether or not, was there obstruction, are there lies being told? I mean, listen, anybody who believes that a lawyer -- I love my clients, Fredricka, don't get me wrong --


WHITFIELD: You're not going to hock your house for the client?

JACKSON: Right. I will not take a home equity line out of my house just because I'm a kind guy. That's not going to happen.

WHITFIELD: You're just not committed enough.


OK, Robert, 10 seconds left.

ZIMMERMAN: OK, Joey, also, Michael Cohen made the point he entered into an agreement without disclosing it to Donald Trump on behalf of Donald Trump but with aliases.


ZIMMERMAN: I don't know any lawyer who believes that's ethical at all, to make an agreement for your client and not disclose it to your client.

WHITFIELD: Ben, 10 seconds left.

FERGUSON: I'll say this, we are stretching to say this is going anywhere close to what we just described here. At the end of the day, you had an agreement that was made between attorney with a client who is now exploiting this to make millions of dollars. Well done to Stormy Daniels from a business perspective and decision for doing this. She's getting two to three times more per month than she did before just for her statement. Plus, she gets to promote herself --


ZIMMERMAN: And the --


FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish.

My point is this, to imply, somehow, that she is ethically here or she's a victim here is absurd.


She's exploiting this situation.

ZIMMERMAN: It's the ethics of family value leaders like you, Ben, that's at stake here, that's at issue.

[12:14:55] WHITFIELD: All right. Robert Zimmerman, Ben Ferguson, Joey Jackson, we'll leave it right there. Thanks so much, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

Up next, the meeting now contains an asterisk. The White House pumps the brakes on a face-to-face meeting between President Trump and North Korea's leader. Why?

Plus, a grim end to a standoff that lasted nearly eight hours. Details on why a gunman stormed a military veterans home in northern California and then took three women hostage.


WHITFIELD: All right, something out of fire and fury perhaps. Now we are looking at a possible unprecedented meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. But the White House says some conditions need to be met first.


SANDERS: They have made some major promises. They've made promises to denuclearize. They've made promises to stop nuclear and missile testing. 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.


[12:20:06] WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now to discuss, CNN's senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, live from Seoul, South Korea.

Ivan, what has been the reaction about this potential meeting?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So far, we have not heard any official reaction. And that's important because that means that we're not really directly getting a statement from Pyongyang. What we've heard so far of the North Korean position has come from the South Korean delegation that went there in the first place and brought the offer for a face-to-face meeting to President Trump himself. North Korean's government, the government doesn't exactly give press conferences. We try to figure out what they mean, usually from state media reports. And today, notably, one of the articles published by the state media wire was that North Korea was very angry about sanctions the U.S. imposed on North Korea a few weeks ago, saying that this could lead to a war. It is quite possible that the propagandists in Pyongyang just haven't quite gotten up to speed yet with the speed of the diplomacy that's taken place between Pyongyang and Washington with the South Koreans in the middle -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: So the president, President Trump, tweeted this morning that he spoke to the Chinese President Xi Jinping about the possible North Korean meeting. What more has come from that and what has China said about this?

WATSON: Yes, I think you're showing the tweet right now, which he initially misspelled Xi Jinping's name, but it looks like President Trump deleted that and corrected the spelling of his name. But saying that they spoke at length about the meeting with Kim Jong-Un of North Korea. President Xi said he appreciates the U.S. is trying to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative.

He has also spoken, President Trump, since the announcement Thursday night, with the prime minister of Japan, who continues to call for the economic blockade, so to speak, the maximum pressure campaign, as the Trump administration describes it, sanctions to continue to be imposed on the North Korean regime.

The South Koreans are delighted. The president down here said it was nothing short of a miracle. Of course, South Korea perhaps stood to have the most to lose if the worst-case scenario was to take place, and that is a war between North Korea and the U.S. with the capital where I'm standing, Seoul, within artillery range of North Korea's cannons. So the South Koreans are delighted that we've gotten to the stage of a possible historic meeting between the North Korean and U.S. leaders -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Ivan Watson, thank you.

South Korea having to be instrumental in extending that invitation that, apparently, North Korea gave.

In just a few hours, we will hear from President Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania. Will he address this potential meeting with North Korea?

CNN's global affairs analyst, David Rohde, joining me right now. He's also the online news director for the "New Yorker."

Good to see you, David.


WHITFIELD: How unusual or strange is this that there has been no reaction, nothing public coming from North Korea about what would be a huge meeting.

ROHDE: I think --


WHITFIELD: A huge moment for North Korea?

ROHDE: I think it's a good sign there hasn't been any reaction from North Korea.


ROHDE: What we don't want to have the backtracking from either side. And there was some talk about it, sort of a muddled message from the White House yesterday. I want to credit Donald Trump for agreeing to this meeting. It's a risk. He's a risk taker.


WHITFIELD: It's a real evolution on diplomacy. He poo-pooed diplomacy --


WHITFIELD: -- directly to Rex Tillerson, saying, why waste your time. Now he's embracing it?

ROHDE: Yes. So I applaud him for taking the risk. Now there's a chance for this White House and this president to work on execution, to have a clear message. Not yesterday where it was sort of garbled, but to sort of plan this out carefully. The tweet this morning was a good step trying to get the Chinese to help him. This is, again, great that he's a risk taker, but, you know, less impulsive. You have to be careful when you do this kind of diplomacy.

WHITFIELD: Even by way of that tweet, does this tell you that perhaps this president is now trying to develop some sort of framework? If this meeting is to take place, how to do it, where to do it? You know, just the dynamics of person to person, how does that play out? And these two head-strong leaders, you know, might one try to one-up the other? Don't you have to anticipate that before going into a meeting like this?

ROHDE: There is a colleague of mine, at the "New Yorker," Robin Wright wrote about this. This is sort of backwards. Normally, the president comes in at the end. You know, big short of nuclear arms agreements. With the Soviets, it was agreed by lower-level people. Nixon's breakthrough visiting China, that was three years of meetings. So there's a danger here that it's going to -- that they will meet and Kim Jong-Un will have this great, you know, moment in the global spotlight, you know, and nothing really comes out of it for Trump. So they need to manage expectations and I think start meetings now and try to plan out, to start this at the beginning of a dialogue. They're not going to instantly solve everything.

[12:25:26] WHITFIELD: Is there a great reward for North Korea, that this helps legitimize it? For the U.S., there are risks and there are rewards.

ROHDE: Yes. Again, I want to be fair to Trump, I think this is the right thing to do, to meet with him, but I think he has to be patient, listen to his aides, listen to past administrations. This is an old North Korean tactic. They ratchet up the pressure, they agree to talks, and then they basically use negotiations to buy time. He needs to sort of not be tricked into expecting some instant breakthrough in this kind of meeting. This has to be a strategy, not just a tactic.

WHITFIELD: Trump's tweet says, "China has been helpful here." Japan, apparently, not very excited about this idea. What does this do to the entire region, potentially?

ROHDE: It raises a lot of expectations. It's a smart play by the North Koreans. They're actually acting very effectively diplomatically. The Chinese are upset. Again, a White House mistake. The Japanese weren't told he was going to agree to this meeting beforehand. That's just a simple thing, wait a few hours. So the Japanese are going to be nervous. The Chinese I think will help, but he's got to be very careful again about whether the Chinese take real risks or just put Trump out there on his own to solve this.

WHITFIELD: David Rohde, thank you so much.

ROHDE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing back today when asked about his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. But was it a comment for the audience or for the U.S. president? We'll discuss.


[12:31:31] WHITFIELD: All right, hello again everyone. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.

Another busy week in the Russia investigation. Yesterday, Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg testifying before a grand jury. And that follows the testimony of former Trump manager Corey Lewandowski.

This morning, he spoke about his interview with the House Intelligence Committee.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They want to make this a circus, they did a very good job of making it a circus. But at the end of the day, they are now assured, from me and many others, there was no collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and any Russians.


WHITFIELD: Trump has not been directly implicated in Mueller's investigation. But the New York Times reports that he is asking questions, talking to two of Mueller's witnesses about their testimony. And there's a new name to know. George Nader, he is now cooperating with Mueller about his ties to the Trump team and United Arab Emirates.

All right, joining me right now, CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ, Michael Zeldin, and CNN Politics Reporter Jeremy Herb.

All right, Michael, to you first. So given everything that has happened this week, are we getting any more clarity on the direction, directions, plural, of the Mueller investigation?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we're getting indications that Mueller's investigation is ongoing, that it's not going to end any time soon, that it has a very broad reach to include all aspects of his mandate, counterintelligence, coordination with any counterintelligence efforts, matters that arise out of or might have arisen out of and obstruction of justice.

So Mueller is taking this mandate seriously. He's proceeding in multiple ways. And the setup that you described indicates just exactly that.

WHITFIELD: And on the latter, obstruction of justice, is talking with people who were known to be witnesses and investigated by the Mueller team is that -- can that be considered interference of any kind when you ask them how did it go?

ZELDIN: No, I don't think so. If a witness testifies before Mueller and comes back to the White House and says Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I spoke to Bob Mueller and he was asking me about one, two and three. And the president says thank you very much, nice to know, get back to work. I don't think there's anything problematic.

But if he says, however, well, let's talk before the fact of your interview and let's shape that testimony, that would be a different matter and that would be probably closer to witness interference. From what we see on the public record right now it seems as if he's just being debriefed.

Now, if he's going to use that to shape his testimony, that may be a bit more problematic. But on its face, Fredricka, I don't think yet we've seen anything problematic about that.

Normally, however, it's Trump's lawyers who ask for the debriefing not the president himself. WHITFIELD: All right. And Jeremy, you know, this morning the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at a federalist society event in Washington about his decision to distance himself from the case. This is what he had to say when a question was asked from the audience.



Our next question is the following. Do you think it was a mistake to recused yourself from the Russian investigation?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not my question.

SESSIONS: No. I think that's what I had to do.

[12:35:01] I did not realize -- I knew you have to deal with those questions and I told the confirmation committee that I would consult with the top officials in the department about any recusal issue. But there is a specific regulation that says if you participate in a campaign, explicitly says that, then you can't investigate the campaign of which you were a part. Pretty reasonable thing. And I was chairman of the national security committee of the Trump campaign and participated in so I didn't feel like it was -- that is what I was advised by the professionals, career people in the department. And I felt like I had to recuse myself.



WHITFIELD: All right, so Jeremy, is his audience, that live audience, or is he hoping his audience is also the U.S. president?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think it's a little of both. I mean, on the one hand, I think at this point Attorney General Sessions is not going to convince the president this was a good idea.

We've seen the president over and over on Twitter criticizing him for the recusal. It's kind of the original sin of the entire Russia probe and Robert Mueller. At the same time, the attorney general started defending himself. The president tweeted this week about FISA investigation about a second special counsel.

The attorney general fought back with a statement saying the Department of Justice acted properly and as long as I'm attorney general, that's what they're going to do.

WHITFIELD: And then, Michael, we're also learning now that Trump's attorneys are considering this interview of the president and the conditions, and also I guess trying to use some leverage in saying, yes, we're willing to do this if you can also make some promises that this investigation will end soon.

I mean, what's the likelihood of that?

ZELDIN: Zero, I would think. You know, Robert Mueller will define the terms and the timing and the duration and the content of that interview. It is not for the subject of the interview to set conditions.

WHITFIELD: And his attorneys know that. Why are they asking that?

ZELDIN: Because they're trying to do the best they can for their client. They have some public, you know, leverage in the sense that many people think that this is something which should end and maybe they're trying to pressure the Mueller team into thinking that they can't really get away with this as a PR matter. But in the end Mueller has a grand jury.

He has a grand jury subpoena. And he can subpoena the president. There is no precedent really that precludes the president from refusing to testify under these circumstances. Most of what Mueller wants to talk to him about is not covered by executive privilege because the president wasn't even the president at the time.

All of the run-up to the collusion inquiry is before he's president. And so, I think that a lot of this is, you know, sort of, for the president's sake, we're fighting for you boss, but in the end I think he's going to have to sit down, just as Bill Clinton had to sit down, and they'll take his testimony and the chips will fall wherever they fall.

WHITFIELD: Might this also be strategy of just kind of public posturing? If we make it public that they were asking for conditions and those conditions aren't denied, if he does not willingly testify, he can say, well, you know, we said under these conditions we would do it but they're just not working with us?

ZELDIN: That's right. But the conditions under which he can refuse are two, pretty much. One is to assert executive privilege. That doesn't seem applicable here.

And the second is to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination which is politically I think troublesome for a fellow who said no collusion, no obstruction, would love to speak to him. So, you know, I think his own words will, you know, haunt him I think.

WHITFIELD: And Jeremy, you know, there are reports now that the Chief of Staff John Kelly also warned the president, you know, not to talk to witnesses from Mueller's probe. But we just heard, you know, Michael's take on, you know, if it's just kind of like how did it go, that's perhaps safe. But the New York Times says that Trump asked former chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn about their interviews.

Does he know his limits, how far he's able to probe these witnesses?

HERB: I think we're going to -- this is something we're going to be watching going forward. Obviously the president has an intense interest in this probe and in what's happening. He's called it a cloud that's still hanging over him.

And, you know, he's wanted it to end now for a long time. And his lawyers have been predicting it's coming soon. The end of the Trump- Russia investigation.

I think we've seen Mueller's team clearly has not shown any signs of slowing down. We saw the list of people who were on the subpoena for Sam Nunberg this weekend. In addition to the president, many of his closest allies.

So I think this is something that is going to continue to be of interest to the president, to find out what it is exactly that Mueller's probing.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Herb -- go ahead, Michael.

ZELDIN: One last thing which is, we have to separate witnesses. McGahn is still a White House employee. So he's in a different position than Priebus who's a private citizen.

WHITFIELD: Good point.

[12:40:05] ZELDIN: So, the president's talking to McGahn may be a little more problematic because it may feel an imperative as an employee versus Priebus who has it voluntary. So we have to look witness by witness, who's aware, and what is actually being asked of them.

WHITFIELD: All right, Michael Zeldin, Jeremy Herb, thanks to both of you, appreciate it.

All right, coming up. It was a decision initially met with plenty of criticism but now the Pentagon exclusively tells CNN the plans for a military parade in Washington are a go. We'll tell you about the caveats.


[12:45:17] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

President Trump may be getting that military parade he's been asking for after all. A Pentagon memo shown exclusively to CNN outlines the plans. Trump called for the celebration after seeing a similar event in France.

And while there will be a various military vehicle, U.S. military vehicles, tanks would not roll down Pennsylvania Avenue. Organizers are hoping to avoid damaging the streets.

The memo says the parade will integrate with the annual Washington Veterans Day parade and it will run from the White House to the U.S. capital. And there are plans to have veterans and Medal of Honor recipients surround President Trump in the stands at the capital during that event.

President Trump's announcement that he would meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un caught the world by surprise. After months of intense rhetoric on both sides, now a possible breakthrough in diplomacy.

CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson reports on the tense exchanges and the possibility of the first meeting between the two leaders after a 70-year standoff between these countries.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: At the altar of democracy at the U.N. General Assembly --

TRUMP: Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): -- Trump up-ends orthodoxy, laying into his enemy, North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-un punches right back. State media calls Trump an old lunatic and a dotard.

Yet, less than six months later, Trump accepts Kim's call for face-to- face talks.

TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): There have been times where Trump doubted his words were clear enough. Even doubted his secretary of state's more formal diplomacy. Tweeting, "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man."

Kim kept his rocket tests coming. Intent on creating a missile capable of reaching the United States armed with a nuclear bomb.

So what has changed? Even at new year, both were boasting about nuclear buttons. So has Trump's bombast finally broken the hermit kingdom's (INAUDIBLE)? Or has Trump simply been outmaneuvered by enemies and allies alike?

Was it South Korea's Winter Olympic diplomatic thaw, they'll talk with chill of their relationships? Neither Russia nor China has been a watertight partner enforcing U.S.-sponsored sanctions on North Korea.

Both criticized Trump for bringing additional weapons to the region. And running war games under Kim's nose. Both want an end to U.S. militarization they see as stepping on their turf.

Yet, so far nothing indicates North Korea has changed and could be doing what it's done before, playing for time to perfect its weapons.

Neither do we know what Kim wants to say at the talks. Is his bottom line admission to the international club of nuclear arm nations?


ROBERTSON: Both he and Trump are utterly unpredictable. And it's quite possible both will emerge from the talks declaring victory only for the relationship to return to recriminations as the two great egos struggling to compromise over details.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, a deadly standoff. At least three people dead. What we're learning about why a gunman stormed into a military veterans home and took hostages. Live to North California, next.


[12:53:49] WHITFIELD: Three hostages and a suspect are dead after a day-long standoff at a veteran's home in Napa County, California. The victims all worked for a nonprofit organization that helps veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The gunman was a recent client.

CNN's Dan Simon is outside the facility in Yountville, California with more on this tragedy.

So Dan, I know the victims and the suspect have been identified. Tell us who they are and what happened.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred. First of all, we are learning that the gunman in this case, 36-year-old Albert Wong who served in the army was actually deployed to Afghanistan, was heavily armed when he barged into the facility yesterday.

He had both a shotgun and a rifle when he committed these murders. I can tell you that this is such an enormous tragedy. You had these three women who dedicated their lives to helping people just like the suspect, helping war veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

I can tell you that the victims are 48-year-old Christine Loeber, she was the executive director of the Pathway Home. Also Jennifer Golick, a 42-year-old psychologist, and Jennifer Gonzales, a 29-year-old clinical psychologist.

I can tell you that this gunman, 36-year-old Albert Wong, he had been at this facility up until two weeks ago.

[12:55:07] And for some reason, we're not being told the exact reason, he was told basically to pack up his things and leave. We don't know exactly what happened.

Apparently, we're hearing there was some kind of violent threat and that's why they told him to leave, but of course investigators have to examine all this.

Was there some sort of fight with these three women that ultimately led him to come back and target these women, take them hostage, barricade himself with these hostages and then murder them and apparently took his own life.


WHITFIELD: Terrible. All right, thank you so much, Dan Simon.

All right. It's a controversy taking the White House by storm. Straight ahead, hear from the adult film star who has just filed a lawsuit against President Trump. A CNN exclusive, next.