Return to Transcripts main page
NEW DAY SATURDAY
Cohen Used Trump Organization E-mail In Stormy Daniels' Payment; Three Dead After VA Home Hostage Standoff; White House Appears To Put Conditions On Kim-Trump Meeting. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired March 10, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- seal tolerance. He will never stop until he finishes with this sham.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But through it all, he's obviously most happy like this -- blessing the hopeful and the desperate. A pastor who wishes the church was more like a field hospital. Above all, here to treat the wounded. Bill Weir, CNN, Vatican City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: "Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History", Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STORMY DANIELS, PORNOGRAPHIC ACTRESS: I'm actually one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. Actually, just renegotiated and got a new contract.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about the payoff, not the alleged affair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawyers don't do that. They don't do that with their own money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Mr. Trump know about the negotiation of this agreement? Did he know about the payment? Did he sign the documents?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Face-to-face talks between President Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The NRA is suing to block a new gun law signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Scott is trying to look like he's taking a step in the opposite direction of the NRA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Panic at a mental health facility.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're scared. Very anxious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators say, a person armed with a rifle shot at deputies before taking three hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. 7:01 is the time. And this morning, another twist in the Stormy Daniels saga.
V. BLACKWELL: Yes, we now know President Trump's Personal Attorney, Michael Cohen, used his official Trump organization e-mail and signature while arranging that $130,000 payment to keep the porn star quiet about an alleged affair between herself and Mr. Trump.
PAUL: And Stormy, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, spoke with CNN last night and sort of addressed the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLIFFORD: I think it's pretty clear that with the new developments comes new interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
V. BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia is live in Fort Lauderdale where Stormy just made a stop on her tour. I'm going to leave a name of the tour to you this morning, Nick. What is Stormy saying?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to her team, we should start there, this is not her idea to have this tour. This is just part of a regular dance performances that she's already scheduled. The clubs have a different take on that. But here last night, we came down to see her first live performance since she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles superior court over this nondisclosure agreement which she says is now null and void because the president of the United States, the man she's accused of having an alleged affair with, did not sign that document. Now, she performed in front of about 200 people last night, and we did not think -- in fact, we were told explicitly she would not be talking to the media. But after the performance she had and meet and greet, and it was then that she agreed to an interview. She didn't want to talk about the litigation, in fact, she said she had no comment for the president, but she did talk about how this alleged affair with the president is affecting her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: Sort of in a double-edged sword where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So, I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month. And now, I'm dancing three or four times a month. So, that's been really great. But because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting, and lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: Now, Daniels gives this interview less than 24 hours after we've learned that Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of the president, used his professional e-mail address to communicate with Stormy Daniels' attorney. Michael Cohen is saying this is not a blockbuster development, he uses his professional e-mail address to communicate for personal reasons all the time. And released a statement here saying -- I'm going to read part of that saying, "The use of my company e-mail to communicate with the bank and Ms. Clifford's former counsel proves absolutely nothing despite the less- than-convinced comments offered by Mr. Avenatti -- her former attorney. I used this e-mail address for virtually everything, as many people do." Now, the attorney for Ms. Daniels is saying that this is not the case, he calling his bluff, calling Mr. Cohen's bluff, saying that this is further proof that he wasn't acting in a personal capacity or in a freelance capacity, but rather an official one for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: If, in fact, the payment was being made personally by Attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office open in order to effectuate the payment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: There's a lot of anxiety, we're told, in the White House that this story is now beginning to overshadow the day-to-day operations of the president. For her part, Ms. Stormy Daniels is scheduled to perform here at the Solid Gold Gentlemen's Club here in Pompano Beach later today. The story showing no signs of going away any time soon. Guys.
[07:05:15] V. BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia for us there in Fort Lauderdale. You know, some -- just the details of this story, I -- we were supposed to say the name of this tour --
PAUL: I couldn't believe you didn't do it --
V. BLACKWELL: I just couldn't -- I couldn't say it. I mean, some of the tawdry elements of what is happening, test some of the bounds that we have for ourselves.
PAUL: Yes, it does. We came into work today and said, this is what we're talking about. This is what we're talking about.
V. BLACKWELL: Will we stay or will we -- all right, let's get now to Margaret Talev.
PAUL: Yes. CNN Political Analyst and Senior White House Correspondent from Bloomberg News. Margaret, thank you so much for being here.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FROM BLOOMBERG NEWS: Good morning, guys.
PAUL: How potential, at the end of the day, dangerous is this for President Trump, for his policy, for his -- you know, plans for himself in the White House and the -- the policy that he wants to get done?
TALEV: Yes. Well, I mean, I think you have to look at it on at least a couple of levels. One is the legal liability to President Trump, to his lawyer, to the campaign, and whether that opens him up to anything from depositions to, again, some sort of liability. But then on the other hand, you have the political side of this which is what is the impact going to be, does this erode any of his standing or support from Evangelicals. So far, they've held very firmly behind him because of his willingness to pursue, you know, policies from anti- abortion legislation or policies to support judicial nominees. Does this erode that at all? Does it erode the president's support from mainstream Republicans who now control the two chambers of Congress? But also, it is potentially a distraction from trying to get tax policy done, infrastructure work done, a lot of the foreign policy machinations. And could it come in in way to Bob Mueller's investigation? I think that's kind of the next trench of questions.
V. BLACKWELL: Margaret, at least twice yesterday, by my count, Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the briefing said that she'd spoken this extensively and didn't have anything else to add. Is that really, considering how -- at which speed this is growing, a tenable position? And it's unusual that the president has not talked about this even on Twitter for something that's becomes such a major issue.
TALEV: Yes. Well, I mean, that wasn't the most forthcoming answer, although it's probably the best answer for now. The last time that the press secretary tried to talk about this from the podium, she actually opened the president up to more exposure, that was the acknowledgment about the arbitration proceedings. So, sounds like the lesson and takeaway for the president's press team at this moment is don't try to fuel the spectacle. But it's not going to stop the questions from coming, and more importantly, it's not going to stop whatever the theoretical legal and campaign issues are that may be kind of moving along behind the scenes. But the sort of cardinal rule on this is if you don't really have enough information to talk about it from the podium, don't talk about it from the podium.
PAUL: All right. Margaret, I want to move on to another issue that's come up. This letter from President Trump to President Putin back in 2013 inviting President Putin to the pageant that -- that President Trump, then-Citizen Trump, of course, was having, the miss universe pageant was in Russia. Not unusual, would you think really, though, at the end of the day, for a businessman of his stature to reach out to somebody, a leader in other country, and invite them? Yes, no?
TALEV: Well, in the context of Donald Trump 2013 businessman, the letter makes a lot of sense and isn't particularly surprising. In the context of President Trump, 14 months into office and ensconced in this probe that involves looking at his relationship with Russians, the context becomes more complicated. And so, this is yet another piece of information that the special prosecutor's team can look at to try to understand the threads and connections between now the president and his associates and President Putin and his associates.
V. BLACKWELL: Margaret, let me ask you about this reporting from Gabe Sherman in Vanity Fair. A source saying a Republican with frequent contact with the White House says that President Trump now is in command, has been on the job for more than a year. He now has the levels of power to work and he doesn't give an expletive there. Trump's decision to circumvent the policy process that imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, reflexes emboldened desire to follow his impulses and defy advisers. He was like an expletive you, Kelly. Trump is red hot about Kelly trying to control him. Are we seeing a rebellious president here with the unexpected acceptance of this invitation from Kim Jong-un, and the addition of the tariffs, and could we see some shifts in the staff around him?
[07:10:07] TALEV: Well, it's right to see that the pendulum has swung a bit, and part of this has to do with the departure of Rob Porter as the Staff Secretary, who was the gatekeeper on the flow of a lot of information. And also, some of this has to did with now the impending departure of Gary Cohen. The president has a number of these campaign promises that he wants to fulfill and a number of instincts about foreign policy and North Korea that he's been thinking about for a while. I interviewed him -- a colleague and I interviewed him last May, it's been not even a year, but at that time he was saying he was open to talking directly with Kim.
At that time, his staff pretty quickly clarified, well, under circumstances, none of which have been met yet. But I think president was speaking from the gut at that time, and for the past year, has been thinking about should he talk directly with Kim, could that make a difference. So, you are seeing him take matters into his own hands, and on the one hand, he's the commander in chief, he's the ultimate decider, and he should be the one who decides what to do. But on the other hand, he has gone a lot of times around his staff, bypasses staff, and when he makes announcements, sometimes in this case, there's not much warning. And everyone else who is there to try to support him and stand up, these things in methodical fashion, has to figure out, wow, can we be ready to do this in two months?
PAUL: Yes, yes, a lot of confusion that press in there. Margaret Talev, we appreciate your insight. Thank you.
TALEV: thank you.
PAUL: So, in other news this morning. To tell you about here, three women are dead after a hostage standoff at a veterans' home in Yountville, California.
BLACKWELL: And the shooter was found dead, had been suffering from PTSD and been treated at home. Let's bring in now CNN's Dan Simon. Dan, good morning to you. What else do you know?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Victor. Investigators are trying to figure out what caused this decorated war veteran to barricade himself with three hostages, murder them, and then apparently take his own life. This happening on the campus of the nation's largest veterans' home, specifically at a center that helps veterans deal with the trauma of war.
SIMON: Tragedy at the veterans' home of California in Yountville. Three women hostages and a gunman dead. The nearly eight-hour standoff with police apparently started when the suspect barged into a going-away party.
LARRY KAMER, WIFE WORKS AT THE FACILITY: We were having cake and, you know, toasting, and all that. And then, apparently, he just walked in with this -- this rifle.
SIMON: The three victims were employees of the Pathway Home, a counseling service for veterans located on the campus of the nation's largest veterans' home. They helped veterans who suffered with PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
CHRIS CHILDS, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: The tragic piece news, one that we were really hoping we wouldn't have to come before the public to give.
SIMON: Authorities have identified the victims as 42-year-old, Jennifer Golick, Pathway Home Clinical Director; 48-year-old, Christine Lober, Executive Director; and 29-year-old, Jennifer Gonzalez, a Clinical Psychologist. In a statement, Pathway Home said, these brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation's veterans.
REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D), CALIFORNIA: They were three wonderful, professional, talented young women, who get up every morning and go to work to help veterans. And sadly, they're gone.
SIMON: The gunman's been identified as 36-year-old, Albert Wong, from Sacramento. Police say, Wong, who had served in the military, was a former program participant at the Pathway House -- he left two weeks ago. Early in the standoff, Wong and officers fired at each other. After the building was put in lockdown, hostage negotiators spent hours trying to make contact.
VANESSA FLORES, WITNESS: It was just a lot of -- you know, like the residents were like just -- you know, they were calm, they didn't know what -- what to expect or anything like that. I was just thinking of wanting to go home to my son.
SIMON: Well, we know that the gunman was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He served for about a year there in Afghanistan, had a clean military record, had been awarded four medals, including a good conduct medal. What ultimately caused him to come to this home, this Pathway Home, where he had been receiving treatment for his PTSD and target these three particular hostages, we don't know. Of course, investigators are trying to determine ultimately what caused all of this. Victor and Christi.
V. BLACKWELL: All right. Dan Simon for us there in Yountsville. Dan, thank you.
PAUL: Thank you, Dan. So, a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Now the president, President Trump, says this is in the works. The White House says, though, yesterday, one thing could stop it.
V. BLACKWELL: Plus, the NRA is suing Florida over a new gun law that's raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21.
[07:14:58] PAUL: And British troops trained in chemical warfare are called in to investigate after that Russian spy is found poisoned on a park bench. We're live with the latest.
PAUL: Well, President Trump says his meeting with Kim Jong-un, it is still happening even though his press secretary said it would not happen without "concrete actions."
V. BLACKWELL: Sarah Sanders said a promise to freeze nuclear tests is not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The understanding, the message from the South Korean delegation is that they would denuclearize. We've accepted the invitation to talk based on them following through with concrete actions on the promises that they've made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
V. BLACKWELL: After Sanders said that, the president tweeted this, "The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the world. Time and place to be determined."
PAUL: Joining us now, Joel Wit, he's a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins and he was involved in North Korea negotiations with the State Department during the 1990s. So, thank you so much, Mr. Wit, for being here. We appreciate it.
JOEL WIT, SENIOR FELLOW, U.S. KOREA INSTITUTE AT JOHNS HOPKINS: Thank you.
[07:20:13] PAUL: What do you believe will happen with these talks? Do you think North Korea has any intention of agreeing to some sort of precondition?
WIT: Well, I think the North Koreans have already agreed to our preconditions. We've been saying for some time now that they have to stop nuclear testing, stop missile testing, and commit to negotiate about denuclearization. So, they've met that requirement already.
V. BLACKWELL: So, I want you to listen to this exchange in a press briefing yesterday in which there was this question about preconditions, and specifically denuclearization. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said they promised to denuclearize. Did they promise to denuclearize or 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. We have to see concrete and verifiable actions take place. Yes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
V. BLACKWELL: So, if they've agreed to denuclearize before the meeting, what then is the meeting about? I mean, how much of this, does the U.S. need to see before the discussion, and then can you give us what I guess Sarah didn't define yesterday, the definition of denuclearize totally from the U.S. perspective?
WIT: Well, look, we're talking about the concept of denuclearization, and that will be a long-term process. It can't happen overnight. So, the North Koreans have agreed, as far as I can tell, that the negotiations will be about denuclearization, and that will be an objective of the negotiations. They're not going to give up their weapons beforehand, and I doubt if the Trump administration expects them to. A first step towards denuclearization is stopping testing -- and they've said they're going from to do that.
PAUL: You've been involved, as we said, in negotiations between the State Department and North Korea. What do you think needs to happen to make the negotiations successful with Kim Jong-un as opposed to his father?
WIT: Well, I think what needs to happen now and very quickly is a process of U.S.-North Korean discussion that sets up the choreography for the summit, and that will take a lot of work and a lot of preparation. And even if that happens, when you get two leaders in a room, sometimes they go off script -- and it's not just Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan did that in 1985 when he met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik. But the process of preparation is now what's most important here.
V. BLACKWELL: Joel, I was having this conversation with my team yesterday about how the word "sanctions" sometimes is hollow. It just becomes, you know, a placeholder like insurgence was a few years ago. In relaying this to the viewer, the listener, sometimes they don't really get what that is. Can you detail for us which sanctions now are hurting which parties that would get Kim to this, this position where just several months ago -- not too many months ago -- he was saying he would never give up, and now he's at least having a conversation about denuclearization and accepting those U.S.-South Korea military exercises?
WIT: Well, as many people know, we've been imposing sanctions on North Korea for a while. The Trump administration has stepped up that effort, and it's hitting key sectors of North Korea's economy. And that has to hurt. But the point here is I've been talking to North Koreans since November 2016, after President Trump was elected. And beginning then, they basically said we want to sit down and talk with President Trump. And in early 2017, they even raised the possibility of having a summit with him. That was before all these sanctions happened. So, I think there's a lot more going on here than them reacting to punishment by the Trump administration.
PAUL: What else do you think is going on?
WIT: What's going on is that they probably reached a point in the development of their nuclear weapons and their missiles where they feel they can pivot to having talks with the United States, to trying to lessen the tensions, and to try to move toward modernizing their economy which is also another very big objective of Kim Jong-un.
PAUL: OK. Joel Witt, we appreciate your time today, sir. Thank you.
WIT: Thank you.
[07:25:03] V. BLACKWELL: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not feeling well and has canceled all public events in Kenya today, according to the under-secretary of state. He's under the weather because of long days working on major issues such as North Korea.
PAUL: But some of Secretary Tillerson's events are going to be rescheduled, we're told. He arrived yesterday as part of a five- nation tour of Africa. Next week, he heads to Chad and Nigeria.
V. BLACKWELL: The NRA is suing Florida after Governor Rick Scott signed a gun-control bill raising the minimum age to buy a firearm of any kind from 18 to 21. We'll talk about that next.
[07:30:23] PAUL: Welcome to Saturday. So, grateful for your company, as always. I'm Christi Paul.
V. BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. The NRA has filed a lawsuit challenging a new Florida law that raises the minimum age to buy a gun. Florida Governor Rick Scott, signed the bill, Friday. This is the first gun-control legislation since the Parkland school massacre.
PAUL: Now, the law raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and it allows some teachers to be armed. CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson with us now. So, Joey, I want to read you what part of this lawsuit says because they seem to target particularly that one aspect of the legal age limit that would be raised here.
They say, "This blanket ban violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible law-abiding Florida citizens and is, thus, invalid under the second and 14th Amendments." 14th Amendment, of course, being equal protection class. Is that true base on all you can see thus far? JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Good morning to you, Christi. It is not at all, we have to remember a couple of very important things. The first thing, of course, is that yes, people have constitutional rights, the Second Amendment is powerful, the right to bear arms. But no right is absolute, and we see that no more than we do in the first amendment, right? You have freedom of speech, but you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater for fear other people would be harmed. You can't defame anybody by saying false things that affect their reputation. And so, too, here, as it relate to the Second Amendment, there are limitations which leads to the next issue.
The State can impose reasonable regulations that makes sense in order to protect its citizens. And number three, as long as the State does that in a way that -- well, it's called the rational basis test. That is that the law is rationally related to an important governmental objective, then its fine.
And so, therefore, I get that law is going to be challenged, but -- you know, look, look at the drinking age by analogy. That was raised to 21. You could argue that had perhaps women are more responsible drinkers than men. If you want to argue that in the lawsuit, they certainly talk about science as it relates to women being more responsible and women, and gun ownership, etcetera. So, I see that -- you know, they certainly have a challenge but I do not see it going anywhere.
PAUL: Another aspect to this element of this law is that it provides more money for arming school resource officers. And in turn, some of that money could go to allowing teachers to be armed. And Governor Scott, says he's not even completely on board with that. Let's listen to what he said here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: There are things at this bill that I oppose and I've been pretty open about that. I still think a law enforcement officer should be the ones to protect our schools. I've heard all the arguments for teachers to be armed, and while this bill would significantly change on this topic, I'm still not persuaded. I am glad, however, that the plan in this bill is not mandatory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Florida teachers unions said that they're very disappointed in the governor's decision. They said, "Instead of leading, the government -- the governor followed along with the legislators to put more guns in our schools."
Now, the governor argued he -- had he used a line-item veto power to cut the funding that would have eliminated the funding for all of these school resource officers. Was there any other way, Joey, that you can see to have done that to get those money to the officers and still not made it possible for teachers to be armed?
JACKSON: Well, let's start here, Christi. That those are policy decisions, and those policy decisions have really nothing to do with the legality or constitutionality of anything the State may or may not do. Now, of course, there's a way, in direct response to your question to get funding. There's a variety of ways, some may not be palatable.
You raise taxes, you impose fees, you increase student fees, you increase parking fees. There's a number of ways to get resources in order to fund the project, whether the public likes it or not is another matter. But simply because resources could be allocated in a way that perhaps is deemed more appropriate, perhaps is more suitable, perhaps makes more sense, it doesn't do anything to take away from whether the law is passed.
You have a system, that system is composed of a legislator in that State of Florida which passes laws. The governor signs the law, and as long as the law is constitutional, that's going to be the question, then, any policy decision that you, I, or anyone else may disagree with is not at issue really. The legality of the law is what's important.
PAUL: All right, yes. Always so grateful to have your perspective. Joey Jackson, thank you.
JACKSON: Thank you.
V. BLACKWELL: Mexico and Canada are exempt for now from President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Australia now says it is, too.
[07:39:47] V. BLACKWELL: Canada and Mexico are getting a pass for now on President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs, and Australia also may be exempt here. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, seems to think it's a done deal. He tweeted this after a phone call with President Trump, "Great discussion today on security and trade. Australia-U.S. trade is fair and reciprocal, and each of our nations has no closer ally. Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel and aluminum. Good for jobs in Australia and in U.S."
The President Trump tweeted this, "I spoke to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia. He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship, working very quickly on a security agreement. So, we don't have to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia."
Now, there some reporting at The Wall Street Journal that Malcolm Turnbull, prime minister of Australia, says that the president is confused about that security agreement element. Let's bring in now, Brent Budowsky, opinion columnist for The Hill and Ken Blackwell, former domestic policy adviser to Trump transition team.
You are my first Blackwell guest on the show, sir. And I just going to put a plugin that. Good to have you. Gentlemen, good morning to both of you.
[07:40:55] BRENT BUDOWSKY, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE HILL: Good to be with you.
V. BLACKWELL: Ken, let may start with you. If the president, as he has imposed these sanctions in the context of national security, got to protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industries. Says, "If you don't have those, you don't have a country." How do you then create exemptions for Canada, for Mexico which combined makeup about 26 percent of steel imports into the U.S. and then, add Australia to the list and potentially South Korea down the road? How do you make that argument?
KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think you make the argument that what you are trying to do is to focus in on punishing the major bad actors and to send a message to them. The original approach with a meat cleaver was too broad and counterproductive.
As you know, I'm a free trader, and I had problems with the direction in which the president was going. And he engaged members of the conservative movement, champions of free markets, and at least we got him to tailor it to really bad actors who caused us major problems. And so --
V. BLACKWELL: But how has he tailored with it?
K. BLACKWELL: I'm pleased with the -- excuse me?
V. BLACKWELL: How has he tailored with it?
K. BLACKWELL: But, he's tailored it by, in fact, focusing in on the real principle bad actors in this case. And quite naturally, you know that, that's China.
V. BLACKWELL: Well, then go after China specifically. How to bring in India and --
K. BLACKWELL: Well, and that's what -- that's what he's doing. He's moving -- his moving to that sort of specificity. He, in fact, has worked with those folks who are definite allies in terms of national security and trade. And as to they're trying to said, it's reciprocal.
V. BLACKWELL: If it's going after China, then, why not just going after China instead, making this argument about national security? It seems like you can't make both.
K. BLACKWELL: Well, again, you can. The reality is that he was elected president of the United States, he has a commerce secretary, and I can opine as much as I want to in the final analysis. He has engaged major economic thinkers on this, and he's honed in on a strategy that both makes sense in terms of our national security and dealing with bad -- the principal bad actors, most notably China. But, on the other hand, he is in fact, embraced our allies who are so important to our national security.
V. BLACKWELL: All right. Brent, your take?
BUDOWSKY: Bottom of my heart for not asking me about Stormy Daniels, since nude dancers and porn stars are outside of my expertise.
V. BLACKWELL: Stay with us because the question is coming.
BRENT: No, no, to answer -- to answer the question about trade, CNN is doing a wonderful series on the Kennedys that will begin tonight. And I look forward to it as a Kennedy Democrat whose written two columns in The Hill praising Joe Kennedy, the congressman.
I would advise the audience, look up the book, The Kennedy Tapes, by Philip Zelikow and Ernest May. About President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. It is the best thing ever written about how to be a president. Donald Trump would profit from reading it.
Kennedy mobilized our allies while Trump attacks our allies, defames our allies, and create fear from our allies. Kennedy stood up to dictators while Trump praises a Chinese dictator, at the moment he wants to be dictator for life. And he praises a Russian dictator as a strong man when he's attacking America and is being investigated now for murdering somebody in Britain.
Those are outrageous, and what Kennedy understood is the job of a leader is to unite our allies and mobilize our allies and not to declare trade worse that are half-baked against our allies. I'm not a free trader, I'm somewhere in the middle on that. But this idea, this ham-handed action of just blurting out because he has a bad day between firing his own people and his own people resigning. That we're going to do a trade war without the proper government channels, without doing the homework that presidents do. In a way that alienates our allies further and emboldens our dictator enemies more, is just the wrong way to be a president. Kennedy understood that. Trump has not.
[07:45:28] V. BLACKWELL: Well, the president, President Trump has said that trade wars can be good, although, he says, he doesn't expect that this will turn into a trade war. Let's turn now to those porn stars and hush money that you mentioned just a moment ago there, Brent. And Ken, let me come to you. Do you believe the narrative that's at least Michael Cohen -- the White House is trying to stay out of it, but that Michael Cohen and the president's allies are selling? That somehow he got notice of this alleged affair and that -- and that Stormy Daniels wanted to tell her story. He didn't go and ask Donald Trump if it was true if he could defend it, if he had proof that it did not happen. Instead, he went and took out a loan against his house, his mortgage, and just paid her and didn't involve the Trump organization, didn't involve the president or the candidate then, at all?
K. BLACKWELL: Brent is 66, I'm 70. And as the commercial says --
V. BLACKWELL: And the president is 71.
K. BLACKWELL: -- we've seen a lot of things. And so -- and so -- and so, from, you know, Marilyn Monroe and JFK, Brent's hero, to Bill Clinton and Lewinsky, the fact of the matter is that these tabloid stories detract from the agenda that the president is advancing. And that's why the White House is saying, look, let's focus on that agenda. Let's focus on a growing economy and Americans going back to work. Let's focus on the fact that --
V. BLACKWELL: Of course, the White House would not want to focus on the idea that the president's personal attorney paid off a porn star.
K. BLACKWELL: Well, absolutely -- well, again, as was the case in the mid-'90s, you know, feminists had to strain to defend that the behavior of Bill Clinton in the White House. They wanted to focus more on his agenda. And so, those of us who in fact are concerned about, the hollowing out of our military and now the president is building a backup, so to address -- you know, national security --
V. BLACKWELL: So, this doesn't matter to you. This doesn't matter to you.
K. BLACKWELL: All right, I didn't say it -- I'm saying that I'm more concerned about advancing an agenda that moves America forward and make it -- and safe, and I'll let his attorney do with the narratives that he is developing on some past behavior.
V. BLACKWELL: OK, Brent?
K. BLACKWELL: And quite naturally -- and quite naturally, I think we all -- we all have to deal with -- you know, the inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and hold as moral standards and behavior. Where there are inconsistency, we have -- (CROSSTALK)
V. BLACKWELL: But also have to deal with the potential legality of the $130,000 in-kind donation to a campaign when, of course, the maximum is much lower than that.
K. BLACKWELL: And I would let -- donation and it really -- and they should handle it -- handle that.
V. BLACKWELL: I hear you, sir. Brent, we're running low in time. But I need to let you respond to that.
BUDOWSKY: Well, I think that fundamentally I'd like to know what Mr. Blackwell and what the conservative theologians who have made a career out of attacking liberals, not all of them, by the way, but some of them. What would they say if a black president had behaved like Donald Trump? And I'll tell you what they'd say, you'd have five congressional committees of Republicans investigating that black president. Instead of making excuses, apologies, and evasions for Trump humiliating his wife who should get an award for grace under pressure, putting up with this. It's just a disgrace on all levels.
V. BLACKWELL: Do you think it comes down that President Trump is white, not that he's a Republican?
BUDOWSKY: I think there's a double standard, you bet there is.
V. BLACKWELL: OK. Brent Budowski, Ken Blackwell, thank you, both. Quick break, we'll be right back.
[07:53:28] PAUL: 53 minutes past the hour and British authorities are investigating this mysterious nerve agent attack on a former Russia spy and now they have returned to his wife's gravesite. The former spy and his daughter were poisoned earlier this week, remember? And both are in very serious condition right now. CNN's Phil Black joins us live. Bill, or Phil, I'm sorry. What information are you learning from investigators this morning?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, good morning. The investigation continues as you say at the local cemetery. That's where police have really focused their attention last night and again this morning. Sergei Skripal, the spy and his daughter, well, they collapsed about where can get not far from actually, just behind me here.
His son and wife, their graves are at that cemetery. The police say they are not exhuming remains there, but they are studying this location themselves. What they really looking to determine is how and where this chemical weapon, this nerve agent, was used? Where was Sergei Skripal and his daughter exposed to it?
They determined pretty quickly that the substance in question was a nerve agent. That was achieved through sample testing at a nearby secure military lab. Ever since then, they've been trying to work back from that point and establish the bigger picture. Precisely, how and where the chemical weapon itself was used? Sergei and Yulia Skripal, they are in a critical condition.
A police officer who is also injured, affected by the nerve agent, he is doing better, awake and talking but still serious condition in hospital. Victor, Christi, back to you.
[07:55:05] PAUL: All right, Phil Black, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Well, in this week's "STAYING WELL", you will see how a dog, named Peety, changed one man's life.
ERIC O'GREY, LOST OVER 150 POUNDS: My name is Eric and I was 340 pounds taking insulin for type two diabetes in addition to about 15 other medications and I just felt miserable all the time. I hit rock bottom, one day I was on an airplane. They had to delay the airline by about 45 minutes until they could get a seat belt extension. That caused me to feel very embarrassed. I found a doctor, she prescribed for me a whole food plant based diet and she also told me to adopt a shelter dog.
Adopting a dog forced me to get outside every day, so I had to take Peety on walks for a half an hour, twice a day. Suddenly, we had friends and were talking to people. The doctor provided me a whole list of recipes and I learned how to cook. And what I was craving changed entirely. So, in just about 10 months, I dropped from 340 pounds to 185 pounds. After Peety passed away, I stopped going on walks. I started feeling that another dog was looking for me, and I started looking at all the shelters. He looked at me and then, it'll look on his face was like "Dude, let's get out of here." By the end of that summer, we are running half marathons together. It's been seven years, my weight hasn't fluctuated up or down more than two pounds.
I believe that Peety completely saved my life.