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Interview With Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes; Trump Administration Finally Sanctions Russia; Special Counsel Demands Documents From Trump; Bridge Collapse in Florida; School Shooting Surveillance Video Shows Officer's Response; Trump Organization's Role in Stormy Daniels Case Revealed Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: With this look now at the Trump family's business empire, has Mueller crossed the president's red line?

Sanctioning Russia. The Trump administration announces punishment for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election, singling out more than a dozen Russians already indicted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Why did the administration miss Congress' deadline by a month-and-a-half?

Friend or foe? As President Trump moves closer to blaming Russia for the poisoning of a former spy, the White House won't say whether President Vladimir Putin is an ally or the enemy of the United States. Why does the West Wing seem unwilling to call him out?

And deadly bridge collapse. A pedestrian walkway under construction collapses on a Miami road, crushing cars and trapping the people inside. Rescuers are working frantically to reach the victims. What caused the span to come crashing down?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, special counsel Robert Mueller turning the sights of his investigation into Russian election meddling toward President Trump's business empire.

A source tells CNN that Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business documents, which The New York Times" says are related to Russia. That news comes as the Trump administration finally announced sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.

Congressman Jim Himes of the House Intelligence Committee is standing by. We will talk about the breaking news, along with our experts and analysts.

First, let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

He has details on the latest twists in this Russia probe.

Jim, Mueller's investigation clearly appears to be picking up steam.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the clearest indication we have seen so far that Mueller is expanding his investigation into Trump's business dealings.

We had heard before from witnesses who had been asked questions about business properties, deals, et cetera. We have reported in January the Trump Organization had voluntarily supplied documents related to the businesses, but this is different. It's a subpoena, a legal demand that the Trump business must comply with.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, signs the Mueller investigation is expanding into President Trump's business dealings. CNN has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business documents.

According to "The New York Times," the subpoena included documents related to Russia. In an interview with "The Times" last July, Trump said looking into his family finances would cross a red line for him.

QUESTION: Mueller looking at your finances or your family's finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

QUESTION: Would that be a breach of what his actual...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. Yes, I would say yes. By the way, I would say I don't -- I don't -- I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something. I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows. I don't make money from Russia.

SCIUTTO: An attorney for the Trump Organization told CNN today the company is cooperating fully with the special counsel.

Also tonight, the Trump administration acknowledging that Russia meddled in the election and taking its toughest action yet, enacting sanctions on Moscow to finally meet a congressional mandate to impose the penalties.

Among the Russian targets on the list, all 13 people and three entities indicted by special counsel Mueller last month for interference in the election, including this man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Also sanctioned, the company that Prigozhin financially backs, the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms to incite discord during the campaign.

Trump initially resisted the sanctions, signing them into law only in the face of veto-proof majorities in both houses. At the time, he lashed out at lawmakers on Twitter -- quote -- "Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time and very dangerous low. You can thank Congress."

The new sanctions also add more weight to Robert Mueller's investigation.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch-hunt.

SCIUTTO: Which the president has repeatedly dismissed.

TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The president's been dragged kicking and screaming to this moment. What happened today with Treasury validates the Mueller indictment, which the administration was running away from.

SCIUTTO: Today, the U.S. also publicly blamed Russia for a nerve agent attack that left a former Russian spy and his daughter critically ill in Britain, deeming the action a clear violation of international law.

TRUMP: It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it, something that should never, ever happen. And we are taking it very seriously, as I think are many others.

SCIUTTO: Despite today's moves against Russia, however, Democrats say the president must do more.

[18:05:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's far past time that they did it. There's a series of provisions of the law that are pretty mandatory that the administration has not pursued against Russia on financial institutions, on arms transfers and other things, so there's a much more robust response that should be had.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: The Treasury Department statement, very strongly worded, makes clear that Russian election interference is continuing.

And not to be missed in here, it says that there's other cyber- attacking going on, Wolf, of U.S. critical infrastructure, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation. These are real concerns for U.S. intelligence, that Russia cannot just attack U.S. election systems, but also critical infrastructure around the country.

BLITZER: We have a lot to assess.

Pamela Brown, Jeffrey Toobin are with us as well.

Pamela, what's the significance of this move by Mueller?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the first time that we know of Robert Mueller's team demanding business documents related to the president.

For context here, back in January, the Trump Organization turned over thousands of documents to Mueller's team. And so it appears in this situation, the fact that they are using a serious investigative tool, a subpoena, to compel documents, is that either they feel like the Trump Organization didn't hand over all of the necessary documents or they want to make sure that they have all of the documents.

Either way, this is clearly getting closer to the president and his business deals. The Trump Organization says it didn't have any business in Moscow, but we know in 2015 the president signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. It never happened. But it's something we know from our own reporting Mueller's team has been interested in.

And it shows the investigation is picking up steam, as the president continues to call it a witch-hunt.

BLITZER: And, as you know, Jeffrey, Mueller used a subpoena to get this information. He could have simply asked for the information, but the use of a subpoena says what?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It says that they're very serious about either cleaning up what they feel like they haven't gotten or starting a whole new round of inquiries into information that they want to get.

But I think it is quite clear that this information, the Trump financial relationship with Russia, if it can be found, is at the heart of Mueller's investigation, because it goes to the issue of motive. Why did Donald Trump -- why would he solicitous of Russia during the campaign? Why did Russia support him during the campaign?

Whether there was relationship, as his sons have said several times there was, that question is at the heart of Mueller's investigation. And it is certain that he had been looking into it previously. Now, with subpoenas, he's looking at it even more zealously.

BLITZER: The subpoena suggested to me, I assume to you, Mueller's investigation is going on and on and on.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it is interesting.

Of course, the president's advisers have apparently told him a number of times it was going to end by Thanksgiving, Christmas. I don't know what holiday we can extrapolate this out to, but it doesn't appear to be winding down, certainly based on this. But, of course, we don't know how far the special counsel is going to take these lines of inquiry.

We just know these lines of inquiry clearly exist today and he is still digging in those lines.

BLITZER: How provocative is this, Pamela, this move by Mueller? Because, as you remember, he told "The New York Times" last year, the president, that if he asked for his business records, that crosses a red line.

BROWN: Yes, it's almost like Mueller's baiting the president to fire him.

With a move like this, it is a very serious move, but it shows that Mueller is serious about this investigation. And what will be interesting to see is if the president changes his behavior towards Mueller as an individual, because so far, as we know, he has called this investigation a witch-hunt, but he hasn't really gone after Robert Mueller himself on Twitter and elsewhere.

And as Jim pointed out, his lawyers have been telling him this is going to wrap up very soon, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Now we're in mid-March. Now we're getting news that the Trump Organization has subpoenaed records related to his business dealings. We will have to wait and see if his behavior changes towards Robert Mueller as a result.

TOOBIN: What the president said was if Mueller seeks business records other than about Russia. So if the records are only about Russia, that suggests that's within the president's red line.

Since we haven't seen the subpoena, we don't know. But I think that distinction is significant.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: The president doesn't like any of this. I know he drew this red line for anything related outside of Russia, but the bottom line is, he doesn't like any of this.

TOOBIN: And the red line has no legal significance. It is just -- it just shows what will really make him angry. And we will see if he would do anything about it.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Is it possible that Mueller is going after Donald Trump's tax returns, which the president, of course, has been reluctant to release?

TOOBIN: I would be shocked if he hadn't had these tax returns for months. It's really a fairly easy process for a federal prosecutor to get an individual's tax returns if it's relevant to a criminal investigation.

BLITZER: Directly from the IRS?

TOOBIN: Directly from the IRS.

And the president wouldn't necessarily know whether Mueller has them. But just in terms of you look at the number of prosecutors, you look at the scope of the investigation, you look at the question of motive and the president's finances, the tax return would seem to be central to many of those questions.

[18:10:13]

BLITZER: Good analysis. Everybody, stick around. Don't go too far away.

Let's get some reaction from the White House.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is working that part of the story for us.

Jeff, what are you picking up?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's question the central unknown thing here in the middle of all this is how the president will react to this report that the special counsel is looking now into Trump businesses.

As we have been discussing here, the red line certainly a central issue. But I asked the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today if that red line applies to Russia or beyond or if the president still holds true to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: Does he draw distinction, do you know, between red line on family finances separately from family finances or business finances relating to Russia as it pertains to this case?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes very strongly there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We're going to continue to cooperate with the special counsel, and for questions specific to the Trump Organization, I would refer you to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: Sarah Sanders answered every question about that red line with the standard response that they're cooperating.

I went on to ask about the president's patience with all of this. Is he, you know, essentially running out of it? He has been advised by his lawyers, as Jim and Pamela were discussing, that it would be over at Christmas, at Thanksgiving.

Sarah Sanders said that, we're going to cooperate with special counsel, and we look forward to them concluding soon.

Of course, that's an open question if that is going to be soon or not. But, Wolf, with all the possible staff changes in the air here at the White House and indeed across Washington, the central question is, will the president put Attorney General Jeff Sessions on that list?

That would create a cascading series of events here. We don't know if he will do that or not. But certainly this is a new development that will have to get the president's reaction. Perhaps we should keep an eye on Twitter -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see what he says, if anything. All right, Jeff, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut is joining us. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: What does it say that the Trump Organization has now been subpoenaed by the special counsel for business records?

HIMES: Well, not one bit surprising, right?

People who are in real estate know that an individual has all sorts of limited partnerships, complicated corporate arrangements that would be easy -- and I'm not saying they were, but they would be easy targets for money laundering, for people who wanted to pay off an individual.

So, to me, this just says that Bob Mueller typically is doing his work.

BLITZER: In that an interview last summer with "The New York Times," he suggested, you go after my business dealings, that crosses a red line.

Could this move by Robert Mueller potentially result in a new special counsel, the president deciding to fire him?

HIMES: Well, we need to be very clear about one thing, Wolf, which is there is no individual in the United States, including the president of the United States, who is above the law.

The president of the United States doesn't get to tell the FBI what they investigate, any more than the car thief or drug dealer on the street does. We are a nation of laws. It's interesting, because the president by saying, you don't get to look at my business dealings, is almost saying, hey, have a look.

Why else would he be -- in a moment in which he is saying he wants to fully cooperate with the investigation, why would he be creating that red line, which, as Jeffrey Toobin pointed out, has no legal meaning?

And if he exercised that, if he took the kinds of actions that you're talking about, it would be -- I think it would be a crisis, particularly at a political moment in time when an awful lot of my Republican colleagues, having watched what happened in Pennsylvania two nights ago, are feeling pretty nervous about what it means to be affiliated with this president.

BLITZER: Well, there could be a political crisis. There could be a constitutional crisis as well if he goes too far in this area. A lot of people are worried about that.

As you know, the Trump administration today finally enacted new sanctions against Russia, a month-and-a-half after the deadline imposed by Congress, as you know, including sanctions against a dozen Russians indicted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

The president, as you know, has called this entire Russia probe a witch-hunt, a ruse. But now he's -- the administration is going forward with sanctions, at least in part related to those who were allegedly involved.

HIMES: Yes. And I guess I would make two observations, Wolf.

Number one, it's not enough. It wasn't enough when President Obama sanctioned individuals and closed down two diplomatic facilities. It is certainly not enough that after a year of actually protecting the Russians -- and, remember, we still have no statement from the president of the United States about an attempted murder by Russian agents on a London -- I guess it wasn't London, but on a British city street, using a weapon of mass destruction.

This has been a pattern of isolating Russia in the mind of the president from any culpability for anything.

[18:15:05]

Now, Wolf, what will be interesting is, of course, the rest of the world understands what the Russians did to our electoral process. When the House ultimately -- when you see the Republican report, which I'm not going to tout here, you will see that the Republican report actually agrees with everybody else, that we had a very significant attack by the Russian...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The president did say in the Oval Office today that it looks like it was Russia.

They did issue a statement, together with the other allies, the U.K., Germany, France, saying Russia was involved in the poisoning of this ex-spy in Salisbury, England.

But let me get to another sensitive issue. You saw that "Washington Post" report today that they had an audio recording of -- the president told a closed door fund-raiser in Saint Louis last night that basically he acknowledged that he had lied to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, about the United States having a deficit, the trade deficit with Canada.

And Trudeau said, that's not true. What does it say that the president of the United States would concede publicly, would say publicly in front of a group of Republican fund-raisers that he lied to the Canadian prime minister?

HIMES: Well, again, sadly, that's not a surprising thing.

If you read Donald Trump's books, he talks about using -- I forget the exact phrase -- but exaggeration and twisting of the truth as a negotiating technique.

Look, we have been under this president over a year now. Every other tweet contains some fantastic, maybe it is a lie, maybe it's an exaggeration, but, quite frankly, it is not surprising.

What's troubling is that there was a time in this country where the president doing what he did with Republican fund-raisers last night would seriously cause us to sit up and take notice. And, of course, this is just another day at the office for Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Congressman Jim Himes, thanks for coming in.

HIMES: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues with more on Robert Mueller's subpoena of the Trump Organization. What does it tell us about the state of the investigation right now?

Plus, new evidence in the case involving the president and the porn star. Tonight, we're learning of a link to the Trump Organization.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:21:38]

BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the breaking news that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which we have learned has now demanded documents from the Trump family business.

Let's bring in our experts and our analysts.

It's interesting. The Trump Organization was voluntarily providing some documents to Robert Mueller, but now there's been this formal subpoena that has is put forward, which sends a pretty significant message.

TOOBIN: And this is why it's so hard to evaluate this from the outside, because there are a number of possibilities.

It could be that the Mueller office is unhappy with the amount of cooperation they're getting. It could be that they're just finishing up and they think they have gotten everything , but they just want to be sure they have gotten everything.

What it does tell us, though, is that the Trump Organization, Donald Trump's business, is at the heart of the investigation, because it goes to the issue of motive. Why did Donald Trump, why was he so solicitous of Russia during the campaign? Why was Russia so solicitous of him?

What, if anything, was the business relationship between the two?

BLITZER: Is this money laundering you're talking about?

TOOBIN: Not necessarily. It could be related to the issue of motive for just cooperation.

One of the great mysteries has always been, why has Donald Trump never criticized Vladimir Putin? Why did he change the Republican platform in 2016 on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Putin? One possibility is that there was a financial entanglement between Russia and the Trump Organization, and the documents would go a long way to telling that story.

BLITZER: And, quickly, would this subpoena come from a grand jury?

TOOBIN: Yes. The grand jury subpoena is sort of a myth. It is done by prosecutors in the name of the grand jury, so prosecutors sit in their office and write out subpoenas, but it is done with the authority of the grand jury.

BLITZER: David, does this cross the so-called red line that the president drew last summer in that "New York Times" interview when he said don't go after my family business?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: If it doesn't cross it, it certainly puts a toe right on that line.

It signals, to Jeffrey's point, that the special counsel's investigation is ratcheting a notch tighter toward President Trump's campaign, President Trump's businesses, looking to connect the dots, if there are dots there to connect, between Russia, the campaign, the businesses, and what incentives there have been for, for instance, the president being so often solicitous and friendly toward Vladimir Putin and dismissive of American allies.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, the -- we only learned about the subpoena today, but it apparently was issued a few weeks ago. You talk to a lot of people surrounding the president. Do you get a sense they're more concerned right now, they're deeply worried about what's going on?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the president himself is, because as we have reported for months now, his lawyers have told him that this investigation is coming to an end time and time again.

First, it was it will be over by Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, and then the new year. And here we are in the middle of March. What the subpoena signals is that this is not ending any time soon, but is only extending it for at least several more months.

I think they're running out of ways to pacify the president over the investigation because that's what they have been doing over the last few weeks, essentially telling him that.

TOOBIN: They're not running out of holidays, though. We have Easter, we have Memorial Day, July 4th.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: But it does seem like a source of frustration for him, because they can no longer tell him that.

[18:25:00]

And you have got to pair that with what else has happened in recent weeks, with the House Intelligence Committee, those Republicans announcing that they say they found no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

And you wonder if that's going to be -- if the president is going to lash out in coming weeks and potentially use that, use their statements as a way to vindicate himself from firing the special counsel or whatnot because he certainly could use that as a line of thinking, because he believes it vindicates him.

BLITZER: Because, Phil, the president often calls this Russia probe a witch-hunt or hoax, a ruse. He's used several words. But today his own administration, the Treasury Department, imposed sanctions against a dozen or so Russians who have already been indicted by the special counsel.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: They had no option. When the special counsel came out in mid-March with the indictment, if you're at the Treasury, you look at the people and the institutions named in the indictment, you say we better make sure we prevent financial transactions for them.

When I look at this as a former government bureaucrat, I hate to say it, there is one interesting point here. And that is, you look at the agencies outside the White House that have issued statements on this.

The director of national intelligence now, the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Justice, Nikki Haley at the U.N. has been pretty tough on this. You look at the secretary of state, pretty tough on Russia, secretary of defense. Now this is secretary of the treasury coming out with sanctions which had to be coordinated from the White House.

There's nobody left in town. Everybody has said, if you want to know who is responsible for this, it is Moscow.

BLITZER: Do they go far enough, these new sanctions?

TOOBIN: You know, they're pretty modest. These are people who were already indicted. The sanctions are the least of their problems. They could be going to prison.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: They're not going to prison if they are staying in Russia.

TOOBIN: That's true.

But you notice who is not on the list. For example, on the list of oligarchs that came out much earlier, you had Aras Agalarov, who was the sponsor of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, which Donald Trump ran at the time. He is not on the list.

Only the people who are already indicted. They didn't go very far in deciding whom to sanction.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by a moment.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news. We're just getting word of a U.S. military helicopter that has crashed in Iraq.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, tell viewers what you're learning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour details just coming into CNN.

A U.S. military helicopter, a Black Hawk variant, has crashed in Western Iraq, according to the U.S. military. It is very crucial they are using the word crashed. Initial reports are there were seven personnel on board. Their fate at this hour is unknown.

It is early Friday morning, of course, in Iraq. Rescue and medevac crews are on the way to the site to see who they can rescue and what the state of this helicopter is. There are no reports at this hour it was hostile fire. But, again, these are very initial reports about what has happened.

Now, of course, this helicopter was flying alongside another. They always fly in pairs. They will be talking to other crew about what they might have seen. Was there any indication of hostile fire? This has just happened in the last couple of hours. So, details are very sketchy right now.

But, again, a U.S. military helicopter, a Black Hawk variant, crashing, in the words of the U.S. military tonight, in Western Iraq. Rescue forces on the way. Seven said to be on board -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, we will stay on top of this story and stay on top of all the breaking news.

We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:33:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is insisting tonight that the United States does have a trade deficit with Canada, despite public records that show a clear trade surplus.

The trade relationship with one of America's closest allies is under scrutiny tonight after President Trump boasted at a private fund- raiser last night that he simply made up claims about trade when he met with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

So what does that say to you, David Swerdlick -- Swerdlick? You saw -- you heard the audio tape, and you saw what the president was saying. Clearly, he acknowledged himself he was lying to Trudeau.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So our CNN colleague Fareed Zakaria wrote a column for the "Post" last year, where he explained that, in his view, the president was not so much a liar but a B.S. artist. When you listen to this recording, what you see is that, if you buy the idea that he's a B.S. artist, he also is proud to be a B.S. artist.

The problem with trying to B.S. the Canadian prime minister is twofold. One, it's not just the next-door neighbor who we're trying to renegotiate NAFTA with. This is a close security ally, a country that went to Afghanistan with us and works with us all around the world. The idea that you're going to insult them, even in what you think is a private setting, it does not speak well for future relations.

BLITZER: The president keeps saying that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada. We checked with the Commerce Department. That's part of the executive branch of the government. The U.S. ran a $2.7 billion surplus last year -- surplus last year with Canada.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's exactly right. So the president has been making these types of comments for several months now. It wasn't just yesterday. This wasn't a brand- new story that he's decided to tell. He's long alluded to this.

But it gives you some insight into what happens in those meetings with him and world leaders. Because I think when he was in his private life as a business man, he could fudge the facts a little during his debates and negotiations and his deal making that he used to do. So I think that's acceptable when you're a businessman, I guess, depending on whatever your, like, morals are.

[18:35:09] But when you're the world leader, and you're meeting with other world -- when you're America's leader and you're meeting with other world leaders, you can't just fudge the facts and make up your own numbers and do that.

It think it gives a lot of insight into how those negotiations go. And I think it's going to be a tale of caution for other world leaders. Because obviously, the president has recently imposed those tariffs on steel and aluminum. But he said that some countries could be excluded from them after they had direct negotiations with the president.

So when he's in those negotiations with those world leaders, with Australia or whoever, what is he going to be saying to them about the numbers between the two countries? Is he going to be making them up? And I think that's a great question that they need to ask themselves when they walk into those meetings.

BLITZER: If he gets irritated with Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, for those numbers which show a trade surplus with Canada as opposed to a deficit.

The other interesting thing in that close- door fund-raiser, and there's an audio tape of it now, the president seems to suggest that, unless South Korea got its act together and improved trade with the United States, the U.S. could pull out its 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea. This at a time just weeks before presumably the president is going to be meeting with Kim Jong-un.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: And who's going to be at the table with him most closely? That's the South Koreans. They're looking at this through a few lenses.

No. 1, they're saying, "I was with Secretary of State Tillerson. He was the calm guy here." Then the president said, "Little Rocket Man." All of a sudden, the president turns around and says, "I want to talk to the North Koreans." They've got to look at the president and say, "What do we believe when he speaks? Do we believe what he says today or do we believe what he says last month?" And when we get a new secretary of state, does he have the same views as Rex Tillerson?

We've talked for weeks about -- and months about the implications of turnover in the departments and about the president's comments. I think this is a concrete example.

You talk to the South Koreans, and you tell them, "Believe me. This is what the president is going to say when we negotiate with the North Koreans." What do they say? "How do we trust you? We don't know."

BLITZER: I think the president is learning you go into a background -- you go into a meeting with fundraisers, 70, or 80, or 100 people, everybody has a little phone like this. Somebody is going to be recording what the president is saying. So just be careful.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: So maybe -- Maybe he just shouldn't lie. Just a suggestion.

BLITZER: What does this say, then, about his presidency, his powers, how he views himself?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, you know, we just sort of wear out his -- the departures from the norms of presidential behavior. You know, it's all well and good to call it fudging, to call it, you know, a B.S. artist. I mean, you're the president of the United States negotiating with an important foreign leader, is just, charitably, making stuff up. But probably just lying. And, you know, these actions have consequences.

You know, you can't pinpoint necessarily what they are, but it is a degrading of the office that I don't think we can fully understand the full impact of it.

MUDD: I mean, I think I can pinpoint what they are. Let me go to an example. When he tells us that the Iran nuclear deal is a bad deal, after he told us he doesn't even know the state of the relationship with the Canadians, when he's talking to the prime minister, how do we know he knows what the Iran nuclear deal is? I don't. I don't believe him.

BLITZER: You know, you've been doing a lot of reporting, Kaitlan. He seems to be more going with his instinct, his gut right now than listening to his advisers.

COLLINS: Yes, he does. And there's been talk, of course, this week of this looming staff shakeup, especially with the firing of the secretary of state on Monday, via tweet.

But now it's -- I've asked sources why is the president so much more -- why is he so much more open to the idea of a staff shakeup? Because we heard from him today, he said he thinks change is good, and he wants new ideas. And they say it's because he seems more comfortable and self-assured after a year on the job. And he feels less inclined to listen to those advisers and those aides who he feels have tried to restrict him from doing what he truly thinks is best, like staff changes.

Because they warned him, if you make too many staff changes, it's going to look like you've really got a chaotic West Wing. People are really going to buy into those reports. And I think he listened to that for a while. And I don't think he's doing that anymore. I think he feels much more comfortable on the job, and he's open and embracing the idea of chaos.

Of course that makes a lot of people laugh, because the West Wing has seemed chaotic for nearly a year now. But I do think that he seems more open to making those staff changes and taking the people that he truly wants like Larry Kudlow, against the advice of people that have held that job and who they thought should take that position.

BLITZER: And there are others, plenty of others. We keep hearing every day, David. H.R. McMaster, General McMaster, he may be gone. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, he may be gone. Even Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. Shulkin, the veterans affairs secretary. Every day there are more names emerging.

SWERDLICK: Right. I don't know how long this is going to takes to draw out.

But when he appointed Larry Kudlow, what I thought of was that he's now trying to cast "The McLaughlin Group." Right? The president wants a group of people who can go out there and speak on his behalf and articulate his policies on TV in a way that he doesn't feel like his other advisers have, and that's more important than having the experience and the expertise of the generals who he touted so much --

[18:40:04] TOOBIN: You're not even old enough to remember "The McLaughlin Group."

SWERDLICK: It's still -- it's still on.

COLLINS: To add -- to add to David's comment, he's totally right. He trusts more of his gut and his instincts and how he feels when he interacts with people than less of what is on the resume and what he's advised to do and who seems more qualified for the job.

BLITZER: Anybody else?

TOOBIN: I'm still trying to think of the "McLaughlin Group" member.

MUDD: He's definitely old enough to remember.

TOOBIN: I am.

SWERDLICK: Larry Kudlow.

TOOBIN: Was he on?

SWERDLICK: Yes, yes.

BLITZER: I was once a guest on "The McLaughlin Group."

TOOBIN: And was very aggressive, as we learned.

BLITZER: I was on Johnny Carson, as well.

All right, guys. Stick around. Just ahead, what new documents show about the Trump Organization's role in buying porn star Stormy Daniels' silence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:45:29] BLITZER: Newly released video from the massacre in Parkland, Florida, is raising new questions about the response of the sheriff deputy who was there when the gunman opened fire.

Here is CNN's Rosa Flores.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This edited surveillance video seen by the public for the first time appears to show the Broward sheriff deputy assigned to protect the school standing outside as the mass shooting unfolded inside. Police records show that at 2:21, gunman Nikolas Cruz enters the building and begins shooting. One minute later, Officer Scott Peterson is seen near an administration building and turns around.

At 2:23, while the shooter is killing students and teachers, Peterson appears to move on a golf cart, and can be observed standing between the 700 building and 800 building, an area that's by the 1200 building where the shooting took place. Peterson said he believed at one point shots were being fired from outside. Dispatch audio from him indicates otherwise.

SCOTT PETERSON, POLICE OFFICER: We also heard it way over by inside the 1200 building.

FLORES: Inside, Cruz continues his rampage, firing his weapon more than six minutes, stopping just before Peterson says this.

PETERSON: Broward, do not approach this 1200 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 or 600 feet away at this point.

FLORES: Seconds before, the shooter blends in with other students and flees the scene. Broward sheriff's office adding this statement with the video's release. The video speaks for itself. His actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation after being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination.

Prior to disclosure, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel offered a more guttural response. SHERIFF STEVE ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: What I saw was a

deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position and he never went in. Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words.

COCONUT CREEK MDL 4: Stand by right there, do not move!

FLORES: Meanwhile, release of more material from that day. Coral Springs Police turning over dispatch calls of the moment he was apprehended.

COCONUT CREEK MDL 4: I have the suspect, Nikolas Cruz.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, Coral Springs, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We are also learning new information tonight about the case pitting the porn star Stormy Daniels against President Trump.

Our national correspondent Sara Sidner is working the story for us.

Sara, it turns out the president's company was involved.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, new information tonight, a new judge has been assigned to the case between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump and CNN has obtained new documentation that shows another Trump organization lawyer is linked to the Stormy Daniels litigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER (voice-over): Less than ten days after Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen issued a public statement saying the Trump Organization had not been involved in paying $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, CNN has learned one of the company's lawyers was filing this demand for arbitration in California, attempting to stop Daniels from speaking out.

Documents obtained by CNN show Jill Martin, an L.A.-based assistant general counsel for the Trump Organization, filed the arbitration request February 22nd, as the lawyer representing Essential Consultants LLC, the shell company Cohen created to funnel money to Daniels.

The filing lists Martin's work dress as 1 Trump Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes, the home of the Trump National Golf Course.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: The focus of the filing in February was to gag my client, put a muzzle on her, prevent her from speaking. And that's why they filed the arbitration, to obtain what's called a temporary restraining order. So, this idea that there's separation between EC, LLC and Donald Trump and the Trump Organization is a complete and utter fiction.

SIDNER: Cohen has previously said he acted without the knowledge of the president or his company and in a statement to CNN, the Trump Organization denied Martin was acting in her official capacity. As previously reported, it says, Lawrence Rosen, a New York attorney, is representing EC, LLC. In the arbitration, the Trump Organization is not representing anyone, and with the exception of one of its California based attorneys in her individual capacity, facilitating the initial filing, the company has no involvement in the matter.

(on camera): She says she was acting on her personal capacity, is that believable?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm incredulous about her statement, particularly given all the lawyers in the state of California. The fact that Cohen would hire someone that works exclusively for the Trump Organization at the same time that he is telling the world that there is no relationship between the organization and the payment of the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. I don't think the story is believable.

SIDNER (voice-over): Daniels lawyer, Michael Avenatti, says he doesn't believe Martin either and he is ignoring an arbitration order signed by a retired judge telling Daniels not to talk about the hush money agreement. Instead, he says is he moving forward with the lawsuit filed in court designed to free Daniels from the agreement, saying he plans to move forward with the process of discovery, including the possibility of deposing the president.

AVENATTI: We are now going to enter the discovery stage in this case and we're going to begin a diligent, well thought-out, smart, measured approach to discovery in this case, that's aimed at getting to the bottom of what happened here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, will you seek to have the president sit for a deposition?

AVENATTI: Well, we're not going to layout our strategy but I don't think that would be a big stretch.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Now, Stormy Daniels says her legal representation is expensive as she tries to fight against the president of the United States and she's asked people for help crowdfunding site. Well, they have come to her aid, so far in just two days, more than $134,000 has been donated to her fund.

Also, Stormy Daniels attorney mentioning that he has been contacted by several other women who also may want to file cases against the president -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. The story continues. Sara, thanks very much.

Stay with us. Lots much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:34] BLITZER: This Saturday night, CNN's Christiane Amanpour talks to women across the globe about their intimate lives in the premiere of her new six-part series "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD".

Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Women are no longer willing to take the place that society has imposed on them. They don't all want to be the perfect daughter who grows up to the perfect housewife. And massive shift is underway.

(on camera): Oh, good, we are going to get some drinks now. We'll loosen up a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): I've come to meet a group of friends at regular hang out where they gather to dish on their lives and their loves.

(on camera): Ladies, let's talk about sex. How is sex?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it.

(LAUGHTER)

AMANPOUR: Do you think men here, the people who are you dating, and your husband, your partners, do they care about your happiness, about your emotional and your physical satisfaction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably, maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Christiane is joining us right now.

Tell us a little bit more, Christiane, about this truly extraordinarily series. What inspired you, first of all, to explore this topic?

AMANPOUR: Well, what inspired me was, you know, I spent my whole career exploring the dark side, the violent side, the quite depressing and sad side of life amongst men, women and children all over the world, during wars, crisis, famines, all the extreme elements of the human condition that I've covered throughout my career.

And I got thinking a couple of years ago, but there is another side to this coin. There is another softer dimension to being human. What about love? What about intimacy? What about all these things that people talk about and think about but never really explore in any sort of deep way, other than, you know, the violence associated around sex or the prostitution or the pornography.

So, this is not that at all. And this clip that you showed is from the first episode. It's from Tokyo, which is a very stylized and formal community of people. They have sexless marriages. They have a massive percentage of young boys and men who are asexual, who haven't lost their virginity yet. There is a big taboo around not just talking about sex and intimacy and love, but even holding hands or hugging or kissing in public.

And therefore, I want you to go and talk to people. It started by wanting to talk to victims of war who are refugees fleeing war, how they kept up their humanity and their intimate lives and I want to just talk to everybody about it, because I thought it was such an interesting and important dynamic that effects all of us and rarely an addressed in this manner.

BLITZER: You are absolutely right. I'm so glad you've done this, Christiane. Thank you so, so, much.

"SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD" premiers this Saturday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

I think you are going to enjoy this series that Christiane has put together for all of us. Six-part series, each one one-hour. First one this Saturday night. Check it out.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.