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Trump: "Who Knows What's Going To Happen" With North Korea Meeting; White House Dodges Questions On Porn Star Payoff. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 11, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me in this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.
President Trump is spending his Sunday slamming the Russia investigation in a new round of tweets, blasting the "New York Times" over a story about the potential hiring of an impeachment lawyer. He is also repeating a line that we've heard many times before. No collusion. And shifting the blame to his 2016 campaign foes Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
All of this after a raucous night stumping in the heart of Pennsylvania's steel country. The president energizing the crowd to vote for the Republican congressional candidate in Tuesday's special election, but also looking forward to his own campaign come 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But our new slogan, when we start running in -- can you believe it -- two years from now is going to be "Keep America Great," exclamation point. Keep America Great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joining me now outside the White House.
So, Boris, this was the president unscripted to a degree, unleashed.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred, and that's just how he likes it. I spoke to a White House official last night during the speech who is familiar with the president's prepared remarks for Saturday night in Pennsylvania, who told me that he delivered about five sentences of what was on the script and then he just went off, attacking some familiar targets like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.
He gave us a new line about a potentially rumored opponent in 2020, Oprah Winfrey, saying that he knows Oprah's weakness. Then he kind of did something unexpected. He announced his 2020 slogan, you heard it there, "Keep America Great," something that I'm told was not in the script.
He also rowed at the crowd, talking about pushing for the death penalty for drug dealers. There was a bit of a mixed reaction but the crowd appeared to be mostly receptive to that idea.
I am told, however, that the president consulted some aides and advisers on his messaging on North Korea. It appears that the president wanted to refine that message knowing full well that Kim Jong-un was likely listening to what the president had to say, though he used that opportunity to build himself up and go after some of his political opponents. Listen to this portion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The South Korean representatives who just left North Korea came outside, big throng of press. They announced that North Korea, Kim Jong-un, would like to meet with President Trump. This doesn't happen. You know, they say, well, Obama could have done that. Trust me, he couldn't have done that. He wouldn't have done that. He would not have done it, and by the way, neither would Bush and neither would Clinton. And they had their shot and all they did was nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: At one point the crowd actually started booing when he was talking about North Korea, and he calmed his supporters down, telling them not to boo, that they could wait until after a deal was done. That's the president really positioning himself as the dealmaker-in- chief.
Of course, we can't forget about why he was in this part of Pennsylvania. That special election on Tuesday. The president campaigning for Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate for District 18 in Pennsylvania. I'm told that the president ditched a portion of his trip promoting Saccone, and then just improvised, saying that he was a handsome guy. That he would likely vote for all of the items on the president's agenda.
One final note about today, Fred, later this evening, we're expected to get a series of proposals, an outline of where the White House stands on gun control. As you know, this is a few weeks removed from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The president has floated a series of ideas on where the administration wants to go related to gun control. This will be the first time we really get a sense in black and white, on paper, about what they want to do -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, at the White House, thank you so much.
So the president did change the prompter in a speech that felt very much like the old days of campaign trail 2016. But this time he has a few new targets to attack, along with some old favorites.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness. When I was in China, and other places, by the way. I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem? No, no, no, we do not. I said, what do you attribute that to? Well, the death penalty. I think it's a discussion we have to start thinking about. Don't you -- I don't know if you're ready.
Wouldn't we love to run against Oprah? I would love it. I would love it. That would be a painful experience for her.
[14:05:02] Remember I used to say, how easy it is to be presidential? But you know you'd be out of here right now if I -- you'd be so bored. I'm very presidential. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. Rick Saccone will be a great, great congressman.
See, that's easy. That's much easier than doing what I have to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, a little bit of everything there. All right. Here with me now, CNN political analyst Ryan Lizza and Julian Zelizer and CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin.
OK, well, there was a lot there. Let's try to, you know, unravel some of it if we could. Julian, you first. I mean, this was quintessential back on the campaign trail. At the same time there was a lot of entertainment. So is this the president's reset exclamation point moment?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not a reset, it's a continuation of what he did on the campaign trail, in the 2016 election, and it is a set-up more than for the midterms for his own presidential reelection. And its main message was don't believe what everyone is saying, whether it's the media or whether it's the experts. The comedy is doing well. I'm about to have a big breakthrough with North Korea. And everything is good in this country.
And I think that was the message we heard and that's what we're going to hear in a few years. And that's what he's selling, himself and what he's done.
WHITFIELD: A little mix of politics, a little mix of entertainment, and then a little -- you know, mix of something that he is proposing in the future.
Let's talk, Michael, a bit about the whole death penalty, you know, for drug dealers. We also remember hearing from President Trump that he was praising the Philippines' president Rodrigo Duterte on the death penalty, putting got death people who were users, people who were dealers, but is this serious? I mean, is this really potentially something that the president can make happen to entertain the idea of the death penalty for drug dealers in this country?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you'd need legislation, and that means Congress, and I don't think this is going to pay us. I have to tell you, tough, as a policy matter, having been deputy chief to narcotics section in the Justice Department and watching the draconian three strikes you're out types of penalties go in, they did nothing to stem the flow of drugs into the United States. Really, we have to focus on our demand side. Nancy Reagan just say no. We have to figure out why is there such an epidemic of drug use in the United States. And effectively deal with it rather than try to think that we can stop the flow in and kill the drug traffickers because if there's a demand, there's still going to be product.
WHITFIELD: So, Ryan, also part of looking ahead, the president looking ahead to the potential 2020 election foes. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Can you imagine covering Bernie? Or Pocahontas? Pocahontas. Can you imagine having to cover Elizabeth Warren?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Ryan, the president pointing there that Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren would be boring candidates. You know, the crowd seemed to really agree or at least liked what they were hearing,. So a president is expected to, you know, inspire generally but now the priority in a candidate well before the midterms or the primaries is to make sure you can entertain. Is that what we're getting here?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that line gave away the Trump understands the singular thing he did especially in the Republican primaries to make sure that the attention was on him. I think the studies after the fact showed that the media attention that Trump got compared to his Republican opponents in 2015 and '16, he alone got more coverage than all of them combined and he's sort of, you know, letting us all in on that he knows the secret of his success is to keep, you know, and frankly we're a part of this, Fred, to keep the press entertained and have the focus on him at all times.
Over all the speech was a classic Trump campaign speech in that it combines sort of, you know, hilarity when he was imitating what an actual, you know, normal politician would do, frightening illiberal ideas like borrowing from a communist dictatorship, ideas on criminal justice, this idea that he says he got from President Xi about the death penalty for drug dealers which to me at least lacks an understanding of what the drug problem is in this country.
And then just the sort of bigoted attacks in my view at least when he was talking about Maxine Waters and calling her low IQ out of nowhere and some of the other things he said about the press. So all in all, Donald Trump being Donald Trump.
WHITFIELD: Still, you know, the cloud of Russia hanging over the White House, you know, but the president didn't talk about Russia in the speech last night, however he did tweet, this morning, Michael, about the investigation, about the "New York Times" reporting, about Maggie Haberman, which for a long time he seems to really, you know, trust and confide in.
[14:10:03] But he was -- the story that he was most critical of is that he would be talking to an impeachment attorney by the name of Emmet Flood, who was known for, you know, representing Bill Clinton. He worked in the White House counsel under George W. Bush. The president saying, this didn't happen. The reporting is that he actually met with at the White House Mr. Flood. So if that is the case, what would that indicate to you?
ZELDIN: Well, it's been for a longtime thought that the team that Mr. Trump has to deal with the Russian investigation is too small. It really essentially is. Ty Cobb in the White House. John Dowd and Jay Sekulow outside the White House. It seems that Mueller's investigation is proceeding and it's not getting smaller. And therefore it makes sense that they want to expand the roster of attorneys.
This fellow that they're talking to is experienced. He understands how this works. Were this to go toward the impeachment arena, he knows how to deal with that. But I think that as a bolstering of the roster, it does make sense. I'm not sure why the president would deny it. It's probably more true than not that he was there. Whether or not he's got his eye on impeachment or just additional resources, it doesn't really matter, he needs additional help because contrary to what he has said, this thing is not wrapping up in the next 30 days.
WHITFIELD: And the reporting is, that "New York Times" is not that Ty Cobb would be add, but this would be an addition to a supplement, too. So Julian, does this also indicate that the president perhaps is worried that if this is indeed the case particularly about the midterm election that perhaps Democrats will pick up more seats and that perhaps impeachment proceedings would be more realistic.
ZELIZER: That's exactly correct. And that's why the stump speech this story actually go hand in hand. I think the president understands ultimately that this, this investigation, the scandal will be resolved probably in a political area. So the stump speech is about shoring up your support with the Republican Party, making them remember you will deliver what you want and this news would be an indication he's thinking of post-November 2018 and understanding that a wave election is possible. And if that happens, if the House is Democratic and Mueller has damning findings, this could move into impeachment.
WHITFIELD: And so, Ryan, you know, Emmet Flood apparently turned down an opportunity to work with the president last summer. Why would he say yes this go-round?
LIZZA: You know, I don't know -- I don't know the answer to that. I do know that the tweet and attacking Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times," also a CNN contributor, you know, it's hard to know how critical to be of Trump about that because I think he has -- it's kind of like world, you know, like wrestling. He likes to create these dramas and turn people who he actually respects and likes, Maggie being someone like that, into a villain and sort of feeds off it, but Maggie is generally considered one of the best political reporters operating, one of the best pool of reporters covering Trump.
And despite what he said, one of the people who has access quite frequently not just to his senior aides but to the president himself, and she's interviewed Trump many times. So just to point out that part of the tweet --
WHITFIELD: That he apparently even calls her sometimes so.
LIZZA: Absolutely. And I think there is a little bit of, you know, a tongue-in-cheek flavor to a tweet like that because he knows that someone like Haberman really does have his number and really does have a rich, rich history of very accurate reporting. So I'd like to see a denial from the lawyer more than Trump about whether this did indeed happen or not.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. All so fascinating. Thanks so much, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
ZELDIN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Ryan Lizza, Julian Zelizer, Michael Zeldin.
All right. The president is offering more support today for the Pennsylvania Republican running for president on Congress in Tuesday's special election. And in an effort of avoid a loss for the GOP, he tweeted his support for Rick Saccone and touted Republicans being 5-0 in recent congressional races. Polls in Pennsylvania's 18th District where the president won by more than 20 points shows a surprisingly tight race. Last night Trump took aim at Conor Lamb, the Democratic challenger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And Conor Lamb, lamb the sham, right? Lamb the sham. He's trying to act like a Republican so he gets -- he won't give me one vote. Look, I don't know him. Looks like a nice guy. I hear he's nice looking. I think I'm better looking than him. I do. I do. I do. And he's slightly younger than me. Slightly. No, I heard that then I saw, he's OK. He's all right. Personally, I like Rick Saccone, I think he's handsome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. An event for Lamb is under way right now outside Pittsburgh. And that's where we find CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll.
So, Jason, last night's rally was heavy on Trump's presidency, his reelection.
[14:15:02] Does that imply Republicans are confident that they can hold on to the seat?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, confident is not a word I would use, Fredricka, out here for this special election. I think concerned is probably a little bit more accurate. Definitely a lot of concern. That's why you've seen one GOP group spends, what, some $3.5 million to defeat Conor Lamb. That's why you've had the president come not just once but twice, including last night the vice president -- Vice President Pence coming out here as well to lend his support for Rick Saccone.
Look, the president knows what's at stake here. Rick Saccone is a man who ran on -- ran a campaign on being more Trump than Trump. This is -- this race is just as much about Donald Trump as it is about Rick Saccone, that's why last night you saw the president go over what he calls his accomplishment, much of what was heard last night certainly up for debate, but he wants to remind voters here why they voted for him, why he won this district by some 20 points.
So he tried to remind voters of that last night. He's going to keep doing that. Rick Saccone is going to keep doing that. The hope is, once again, that all of what he said last night will translate to Rick Saccone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's an honor to be with you. Go out on Tuesday and just vote like -- you got to get out there. The world is watching. This -- I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick. They're all watching because I won this district, like, by 22 points. It's a lot. That's why I'm here. Look at all those red hats, Rick. Look at all those hats. That's a lot of hats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: OK, and so, Fredricka, just so you know where we are here. This is Green County.
CARROLL: This is one of the most rural parts of the 18th District where Conor Lamb is holding this event right now. Right now he's getting the endorsement of the United Mine Workers. That's pretty much a feather in his cap because you know the president has made a very big deal about the mining industry, the coal mining industry. You had a coal mine in fact here in Green County that closed just more -- a little bit more than a week ago so definitely a feather in the cap.
WHITFIELD: That's interesting.
CARROLL: To the Conor Lamb campaign. And if they have any hope of an upset here, they're going to have to reach into some of those Trump Democrats. A lot of those people voting right here in Green County -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: That makes it very fascinating that he would get that endorsements. All right. Jason Carroll, thanks so much. Appreciate it. All right. We're learning new details about the Army vet who fatally
gunned down three workers in a VA treatment facility in California. Plus it's the cloud that just won't break over the White House. Stormy Daniels, new reaction from the administration as questions mount over the $130,000 payoff.
[14:22:07] WHITFIELD: Flags at California's capital are at half staff after an Army veteran shot and killed three workers at a VA treatment facility in Yountville. The state's secretary -- rather, the state's secretary of Veterans Affairs addressed the community in mourning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VITO IMBASCIANI, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Our hearts are heavy for the over 900 veterans that call this place home and for the hundreds of people that work here every day to create a loving, caring environment where veterans in the final years of their lives can live a life of dignity, comfort and safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Albert Wong was being treated for PTSD. We're now learning that he had been asked to leave the program just two weeks ago after he threatened one of the victims. And police say another victim, Jennifer Gonzalez, was pregnant. Wong reportedly had seven firearms registered in his name.
Let's get more now on all of that. From CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell.
So, Josh, good to see you. What will be the next steps for authorities to take here?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT: Hi, Fred. Well, still so many questions remain here today in California following yesterday's hostage situation turned deadly shooting. And this is certainly going to be a lengthy investigation. One key question law enforcement officers will always want answered after an incident like this is, what was the motive? Why did the gunman, a decorated Army veteran, engage in this action?
Now CNN has learned that sometime before the shooting the gunman made some type of threat against one of the victims, and although the details of that threat are not clear, it does at least help answer the question whether the shooter knew any of his victims.
Next we move to the question of mental health and the role it may have played into this. There have been questions raised regarding whether the gunman, as you say, had suffered from post-traumatic stress, and whether that was part of the reason he actually entered the facility.
Now some of the recent shooting incidents, a serious question here is whether the gunman should have had access to firearms in the first place? CNN has learned from law enforcement officials that the perpetrator had at least seven firearms registered in his name, which when coupled with the possibility of mental health concerns is a potentially deadly combination.
Now there is so much we don't know about this particular case, but today grieving family members and friends of the victims are no doubt wondering whether this is yet again an instance where red flags were missed.
WHITFIELD: All right. Josh Campbell, thanks so much for being with us on that.
CAMPBELL: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, will the planned meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un actually happen? And what would it entail? The president gave two cents last night. We'll discuss, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Who knows what's going to happen? Hey, who knows? It happens, and it doesn't happen. I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world and for all of these countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: President Trump is moving full steam ahead with plans to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. And now we're learning that Trump originally wanted the meeting to be in April or -- I'm quoting now -- as early as possible. But according to South Korean officials Trump was persuaded by National Security adviser H.R. McMaster and South Korea's top security official to wait until May after the South Korean-North Korean summit. The president addressed the meeting last night at this campaign rally in Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to have a meeting and there's no more missiles going off, and they want to denuclearize. Nobody had heard that. Nobody thought -- but they said they want to -- they are thinking about that. Who knows what's going to happen? Hey, who knows? If it happens, if it doesn't happen, I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world and for all of these countries, including, frankly, North Korea. That's what I hope happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now to discuss former U.S. assistant secretary of state and contributing editor of "Politico," Jamie Rubin. You just wrote this article, "Can Trump handle Kim Jong-un?" and you also write that this is something the president envisioned for a very long time. Perhaps he didn't say it out loud, but to be able to be the one to broker an amazing, masterful deal. This is the opportunity.
JAMES RUBIN, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: The idea of Trump as the grand negotiator is something he's been pushing pretty much his whole career. That's what the books that he wrote was about. And frankly, when he first entered the national scene some 20, 30 years ago, it was to say that he could negotiate a better arms control agreement with the Soviet Union than any of the people doing it at the time.
And then when he first started running, I guess two years ago, he was saying -- and this was people -- it struck people as odd. He was saying, I can get along with Mr. Kim. The idea for him is that he is the grand negotiator, and if he's given an opportunity to show that, he can pull it off.
I think what he might find out is it's a lot easier to look from aside than sitting down with Kim and the difficulties are extremely hard to see your way through.
WHITFIELD: So, you write while he has a reputation of being a great negotiator, this is not negotiating a real estate deal. Even though he's said, I have this knack of being able to connect with people and making things go my way, what does he not know about entering into a talk with Kim Jong-un?
RUBIN: Well, first of all, is that Mr. Kim, sees the United States' role in the region as the problem to begin with and so, he's going to raise the idea of American troops in South Korea. He's going to raise the idea of, well, if you'll have your troops leave and I won't need nuclear weapons, I won't need missiles, I won't need all these programs.
And Trump is a nationalist. He's raised this idea before and what I think the people of South Korea are probably panicking about the officials at the government level and others is that Trump doesn't have a longstanding commitment to the U.S.-South Korean alliance.
He's raised the idea that these troops deployments in Asia, Japan, South Korea and Europe, for example, are a waste of money. If Mr. Kim says, well, you know, if you reduce the troops a bit then maybe I won't need these missiles. Trump may go for that and that will cause an uproar like we've never seen in the U.S.-South Korean alliance.
WHITFIELD: So, this was the president last night in Pennsylvania. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: South Korea came to my office after having gone to North Korea and seeing Kim Jong-un. No, it's very positive. After the meeting he may do that, but now we have to be very nice because let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: It's interesting. Via tweet and everything else he was able to try to undermine Kim Jong-un and insult him, and now he says, come on, everybody, let's embrace this moment, et cetera.
But what about that moment of South Korea coming outside the White House and actually making this announcement, you know, ahead of the president who now sounds like he's kind of in control of this whole idea. Was that strange to you?
RUBIN: It was very unusual for the South Korean national security adviser to announce a summit between an American president and a North Korean leader. I'm not against that in principle, it's just unusual. It might be a good thing in the end to have the South Koreans to feel fully invested in this.
But for South Korea to entice Mr. Kim into denuclearization as the president seems to enjoy pronouncing it, is through carrots, through incentives. The South Koreans don't want to see the United States reduce their troops in the region, they don't want to reduce our alliance, so they want to give Kim essentially carrots, incentives.
This is exactly what was done during the Clinton years and it worked for a while in getting them not to expand their plutonium nuclear track towards nuclear weapons. But Trump and his team have criticized from the beginning the whole idea that you have to give North Korea incentives or perhaps foreign aid or financial assistance.
They've said, that's not on. They are not going to do that. If you're not going to give aid and you're not going to reduce troop presence in the region, what is in it for North Korea?
[14:35:12] And so what they're going to find themselves at odds with the South Koreans about whether there should be aid to North Korea as an incentive to do this, or they're going to be at odds with the South Koreans because they want to reduce forces in the unlikely event Trump decides to do that.
I think there are some fundamental foreign policy issues underlying this summit that haven't been resolved that need to be resolved so you can get to a point where you can have a reasonable chance of negotiating --
WHITFIELD: How's the president going to be able to get to that? There are a lot of vacancies within the State Department, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea abruptly resigning, how is the president going to equip himself with some form of incentive for North Korea?
RUBIN: I think that's a very good question. The kinds of individuals in the State Department perhaps or the U.S. ambassador of South Korea or others who would normally be the ones advocating a substantive solution to this, meaning suggesting, well, if we give this type of financial assistance or reduce this sanction or lift that particular prohibition or take him off the terrorist list or we provide other foreign policy tools, the people who would be recommending that don't exist right now. They're the ones that know about the North/South Korean problem for 40, 50 years, the true experts. There are going to be some, and I'm sure they'll find them, and we shouldn't exaggerate that the president can't do this without these people, but it's going to be harder.
WHITFIELD: So, are you worried or hopeful?
RUBIN: I'm both, I'm worried and hopeful. I think it's possible that Donald Trump could make some big decisions with the right preparation that will be good for our country, but I'm worried that some real problems are going to arise with our relationship with South Korea.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there. James Rubin, thank you so much. Good to see you.
RUBIN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Appreciate it. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The scandal surrounding Stormy Daniels is growing with new questions being raised about a legal settlement between President Trump's personal attorney and the former porn star. Today, a White House spokesman dodged questions about what the president knew about $130,000 payment to keep Daniels silent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president approve the payment that his personal lawyer made to Stormy Daniels?
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I'm aware of, but Michael Cohen, the attorney in question, has addressed this. The White House has addressed this, Sarah addressed this earlier this week and I have nothing further to add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president reimburse Michael Cohen, his attorney, for making that payment?
SHAH: Not that I know of. Michael Cohen has addressed this matter extensively and the underlying --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you asked the president that question?
SHAH: I haven't asked the president that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning more about Stormy Daniels' past and what she sees for herself and her future as a writer and actress and a director. Nick Valencia has that.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is one of the most famous people in the world right now for a very infamous reason. But who is Stormy Daniels? The 38-year-old has made her living in front of the camera. A porn actress with hundreds of X-rated scenes to her name, Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, is also an established adult film director, a point she made clear in an exclusive interview with CNN.
STORMY DANIELS, ACTRESS: I am actually one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. I have a contract that's been in place for several years, and I actually renegotiated and got a new contract and the terms of set before this happened, and I got a raise. So, I'm doing just fine.
VALENCIA: Her popularity has taken her mainstream over the years playing herself in music videos and hit movies like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Daniels is trying to play on her notoriety into a Senate seat. In 2010, she launched a big against David Bitter, taking things off on a listening tour.
DANIELS: I never take anything lightly. I work extremely hard. I'm always up for a good fight.
VALENCIA: She dropped out of the race for not being taken seriously. As she told us this weekend, negative attention is something she thrives on.
DANIELS: I've been in the entertainment business for 17 years, so to make it that long in this business, you have to have a really tough skin. 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 or I'm fat, my boobs are too big or too small or whatever.
I've heard there's nothing along those lines of someone can say to me that I haven't heard and so when people says, you're a whore, I'm like, that's a successful whore to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you have a relationship with a woman named Stormy Daniels?
VALENCIA: Sources tell CNN her alleged affair with the president has caused anxiety in the White House overshadowing the president's day to day work. The White House has repeatedly denied the allegations.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've addressed this extensively. I don't have anything else to add.
VALENCIA: As humiliating headlines dry out, Daniels has accused the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, of bullying her into silence, but she's proven she can't be controlled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look back at this time in your life, what are you going to think about what you're going through right now?
DANIELS: Holy (inaudible). Is there really anything else to say?
VALENCIA: A short time ago, I spoke again to Stormy Daniels, and she tells me that she has a lot more to say, a lot more angles that she wants to get out and she will once the time is right, and she is legally able to do so.
[14:45:11] She hasn't announced just yet what she is expected to do next, but we anticipate her to continue to capitalize on her new-found spotlight and continue her strip club performances across the country -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: You just said she doesn't know what she wants to do with it yet, but when it comes down to being able to have the freedom to speak, what is she envisioning? Did she is she wants to cash in on her story? What would this get her if that nondisclosure were lifted so she felt like she had the freedom to tell her story and in what capacity?
VALENCIA: You know, she told me she's not looking for money, and I don't get the sense that she's looking for money. She wants to get her side of the story out, truth out, she tells me. But she didn't really expand on that. It's kind of cryptic, actually, Fredricka, about what she meant about these new angles coming out. We just don't know what she has under her sleeve, but we suspect she's not going away any time soon -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Right. You have to wonder does that mean a book deal? She is an actor, she is a director, she gave you a lot of detail about how her career has expanded. Nick Valencia, thanks so much. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: In case you haven't noticed, March Madness is in full effect, but before the basketball players tip off for the final four, a group of cancer survivors will take to the same court for a great cause. Here now is Andy Scholes.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this has become a tradition in the final four. Cancer survivors with powerful and inspiring stories taking to the court together. One of player in this year's game is Jacqueline Harvey, a teacher and volleyball coach out of Austin, Texas, and this inspiring her students' lives in a big way.
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JACQUELYN HARVEY, INFINITI HARDWOOD HERO: I started playing basketball when I was three. When I got on the court I just realized, wow, I really love what I'm doing, I love playing this game. It teaches you discipline and teamwork, how to encourage somebody who they're down, when to be tough and lift and go and lifting your teammates.
I was diagnosed with cervical and ovarian cancer in April of 2017. As soon as you hear that word, cancer, your brain just goes blank and you just sit there and you're like, me, like I don't have cancer. I think you have the wrong person. I'm 27, I'm young, I'm healthy. There is no way that I have cancer.
Then the cards started coming in, the team started coming up to me. I would get videos from games that I missed of, hey, Coach, we won this one for you, and you could just see the excitement on their faces, like I know we can't fix what's been diagnosed, but we can show you that we're here to support you.
It helps remind you that what you're teaching them on the court really is life. They're like rallied around you. They said, no, you are part of our team and we're here to pick you up. It's amazing. Cancer is just a small part of who you are. A cancer diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean death. My name is Jacquelyn Harvey and I'm a Hardwood hero.
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SCHOLES: Now Jacquelyn will be playing and will help raise funds for cancer research as a part of a partnership with coaches versus cancer -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that is so inspiring. Thank you so much, Andy Scholes. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, tonight catch the premiere of CNN's new original series "Pope, The Most Powerful Man In History." CNN's Bill Weir gives us an inside look at how Pope Francis has been responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.
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BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Even before day one, it was obvious that Francis would be different.
(on camera): They sent him a first-class ticket to come to the papal election, but he traded it in for coach. While all the other cardinals were arriving in limousines, he walked to the Vatican every day, and though he could live in the finest room in the finest palace here, he chose a humble little abode inside the Vatican guest house.
(voice-over): From this room, the first pope to name himself after the poorest saint planned an agenda for the neediest souls. You can see it in the form of the homeless, sleeping under priceless Vatican frescoes or when you knock on the door of an archbishop and it's answered by a family of Syrian refugees.
Days after Gandhi and (inaudible) were married, she was kidnapped by ISIS. After ransom was paid by Syrian Christians, they were welcomed here by Roman Catholics.
(on camera): Stella, you can't cry. You don't know you're the luckiest baby. You're the luckiest baby in Italy.
(Voice-over): Nearly every day the pope mentions the suffering in Syria and on a mission to a refugee camp, he even brought a dozen Muslims home.
(on camera): Many people lose their lives trying to leave Syria, some are taken advantage of by traffickers, you ended up on the pope's plane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was fantastic. He's a real human being, an example to leaders of all religions.
WEIR (on camera): Has he tried to convert you?
(voice-over): But despite his example, Mateo Salvini (ph), the Trump- inspired politician who vowed to round up migrants and segregate Muslims saw a surge of support in the recent election.
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, BREITBART ROME BUREAU CHIEF: They do listen to the pope when he says you should be Christian and welcome a stranger, but they also see a situation where you reach critical mass and say, we don't know how much more of this we can do.
WEIR (on camera): The pope said recently, if you split up families because of immigration, you can't be pro-life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
WEIR: You agree with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely.