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Sanders Says White House Would Condemn Any Threat Against Daniels; Zinke Says Konnichiwa At Hearing Using Wrong Phrase; No South or North Korea Envoys as Trump-Kim Jung-On Meeting Looms; Ex-Trump Associate Says in E-Mail He Can Engineer A Trump Presidency. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 16, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, we take the safety and security of any person seriously, certainly condemn anyone threatening any individual. But I have no knowledge of that situation and would refer you to the President's outside personal attorneys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: That is how the White House responded just a little bit ago about these new claims from Stormy Daniels that she had been physically threatened to stay silent. Let me bring in Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan who is the watchdog group, Common Cause, with them. Paul thank you so much for being with me and we wanted to talk to you because it's your group, has already filed that federal complaint over the payment made by Trump. We were just discussing this, right, days before via Michael Cohen to silence Stormy Daniels.

The two headlines today -- let me begin with these allegations that Daniels was physically threatened to stay silent. What do you make of the allegation and how does that at all factor into your case?

PAUL RYAN, COMMON CAUSE: You know, the allegation is not surprising at all and it's very, very troubling, depending on the jurisdiction in which those threats occurred it could rise to the level of assault or some other criminal charge. So that's bad news for team Trump. But the bottom line, the reason Common Cause is interested in this is because Americans have a right to know who is spending money right before an election to influence voters when they are going into the voting booth.

Here we have $130,000 expenditure by team Trump to influence voters when undisclosed and that's not even the biggest violation. Common Cause last week filed a complaint about a team Trump violation to the tune of $40 million and growing that's underway. No one is talking about that. American First Policies is the name of this dark money C4 group that's up and running and raising and spending dark money in the election. So, there are a lot of problems with team Trump and hiding information from voters right now. BALDWIN: The other issue, just staying on this Stormy Daniels story,

is that this lawyer who was on says there are six more women, this is according to him, six women who want to come forward. They say they have very similar stories to Stormy Daniels, two of whom he says did sign NDAs. He's vetting all these people. But what does that tell you as it relates to your efforts?

RYAN: The really interesting comment that he also made was at least two of them to his knowledge have signed nondisclosure agreements. If there was a payment involved we're going to be looking to file more complaints, and these two new potential emerging complaints for payments to influence the election by team Trump that went undisclosed they have violated campaign rules. They not the only ones, last month we filed a complaint against AMI, the tabloid company, that paid Karen McDougall $150,000 for her silence indirect coordination with Michael Cohen. Another very similar violation of what's at stake or what's at issue in the Stormy Daniels matter.

BALDWIN: OK. Paul Ryan, thank you so much. We'll stay in close contact to see what happens with what you filed. Appreciate it.

Coming up next here, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke makes a tone-deaf comment to a congresswoman as she is discussing this program to honor survivors of Japanese internment camps. We'll play it to you and watch the jaw drop of the woman over his right shoulder.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Interior Secretary Zinke up on Capitol Hill with these cringe worthy comments to this Congresswoman. The Hawaiian lawmaker was telling Zinke about her grandfather's detention in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. She wanted to make sure money would be set aside to preserve the historic site and this is how Secretary Zinke responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. COLLEEN HANABUSA, (D) HAWAII: I believe that it is essential that we, as a nation, recognize our darkest moments so that we don't have them repeat again. So, Mr. Secretary I would like to know, even with the President zeroing it out are you committed to continue the grant programs that are identified, I believe, as the Japanese- American Confinement Sites Grants Program which were funded in 2017, will we see it funded again in 2018?

RYAN ZINKE, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Oh, Konnichiwa.

HANABUSA: I think it's still Ohayogozaimasu but that's OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: There was a woman, but you couldn't see it, but her jaw just went what?

Congresswoman Hanabusa corrected Zinke's greeting for good morning he gave the traditional greeting for good afternoon. Nevertheless, lawmakers, Japanese Americans view the timing of the comment as incredibly insensitive. So, let's chat this over with David Sanger and other issues. David singer is our CNN political and national security analyst, in the national security correspondent for the "New York Times." I what set clip over a couple times now and to me it's like file this under "what was he thinking."

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. It is sort of hard to figure out, Brooke. I spent six years in Japan as a "Times" correspondent. And had he been in Japan in a Japanese context, it would have maybe made sense because he would've shown that he was trying to speak the language.

But he's talking to Americans here. The fact that they're Japanese- Americans is probably less central to this conversation that they are Americans and raising a very critical question, which is, what is the commitment to building some memorials to what was one of the darkest moments, I think most people would agree, in the American civil liberties history, the decision to go confine and intern actual American citizens. And so, it did seem to me that it was flip, at best and maybe a little tone deaf at very worst.

BALDWIN: Yes. Let's move to your reporting in the "Times" about these cyber attacks plotted by Russians on the U.S. power grid and nuclear air and water facilities. How they could have sabotaged or shot power plants off at will. Reading your piece, how serious is this threat?

SANGER: It's a pretty serious threat. But what's really interesting here, Brooke, if you back off and look at the timing. So, the first intrusions into American power plants here of this particular attack -- obviously there have been other Russian

attacks, was at the end of 2015. What else was going on at that time? Other Russian groups were going into the Democratic National Committee.

We had different probably uncoordinated attacks underway simultaneously. Second, to go put these implants into American power systems and to do them in a way that the Russians would have access to basically the control panels of the systems remotely. Now they didn't do what they did in Ukraine.

In Ukraine in 2015 around the same time they turned off the lights. Here, it wasn't used. And there are some experts I've spoken to who think that in fact, the Russians wanted to be discovered because what they wanted to do was send a message that if we ever got into a serious conflict with them, they were already inside our system and could flip the switch at will.

BALDWIN: They're big on sending a message, aren't they, with the nerve agent in England and we know the only place I could've made that. And in this case as well. What about North Korea? The news this week, Tillerson is out. We have an outgoing Secretary of State. You still don't have the South Korean ambassador. No North Korean special envoy and it is Ivanka Trump, David, who is meeting with the South Korean envoy. This is happening just a month or so-ish we're hearing now end of May for this potential Kim Jong-un/Trump meeting. How is the U.S. possibly ready for this meeting of two men?

ZINKE: I can't imagine that we are. Because Secretary of State Tillerson thought until last Sunday that he was conducting this negotiation himself. He was the one who was out putting the lines out as we used to put it, to the North Koreans in an effort to work toward a diplomatic solution. And three days after it looks like that is beginning to be set up, he gets fired. Mike Pompeo, designee for Secretary of State is not likely to be confirmed for another month, month and a half probably, if he gets confirmed.

We assume that he will. As you say there is no ambassador to South Korea. There is no North Korea special envoy in the State Department. And this kind of meeting takes a lot of preparation unless the president believes that he is so confident here's all negotiating skills that he can just sort of going there and wing it with Kim Jong- un and try to set an agreement in principle.

[15:40:00] And leave it to others to sort out the details later on. My guess is given the history of North Korea negotiations, that's probably a prescription for something going wrong along the way.

BALDWIN: Let hope we never have to say the sentence winging it and Kim Jong-un in the same breath ever again, David Sanger. Thank you so much. We'll see when this happens, if this happens, according to the White House. Good to see you. Thank you.

SANGER: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here, he wrote an e-mail promising to engineer a Trump presidency. A now a Russian-born businessman involved in the Trump Tower Moscow deal is speaking out. What he says Trump once asked him to do and his response to that e-mail exchange with Trump attorney Michael Cohen just ahead.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Investigators in Miami are still trying to figure out what caused that 950-ton pedestrian bridge to collapse on to traffic. Florida Senator Marco Rubio says the cables on the bridge were being tightened when the collapse happened. At least six people have died, and police say that number could go up. Search and rescue efforts have now shifted to recovery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIRECTOR JUAN PEREZ, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: This is a homicide investigation. That's all it is. That means somebody died. That is it. It does not mean there is criminal charges looming or pending or anything like that. Is there a possibility for that? There's always a possibility for something like that to occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Several of the victims are still trapped in vehicles under that rubble. In a new sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is

advancing and maybe getting closer to what President Trump has called his red line. Mueller is closing in on the heart of the President's business dealings issuing a subpoena specifically to the Trump Organization.

A source telling CNN Mueller's team is seeking business documents. We're learning this as a Russian born businessman involved in a deal to try to build a Trump Tower in Moscow is speaking out this e-mail exchange with Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. This is 2015, Felix Sater wrote, quote, Buddy, our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this. I will manage this process. Here's what Sater told Chris Cuomo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELIX SATER, RUSSIAN-BORN BUSINESSMAN TIED TRUMP: The e-mail that I wrote was to a friend I knew since childhood. Michael Cohen. The excitement about having had worked with someone who is now running for president, especially for an immigrant kid like myself. I was beyond enthusiastic about it. I am more than happy for all the proof to come out. I was trying to build a billion-dollar project.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It didn't happen, right?

SATER: It did not happen, no.

CUOMO: So, there was never money exchanged. There was never any type of relationship developed in this regard between Putin or anyone close to him and the Trump Organization to your knowledge.

SATER: To my knowledge and anything that I was involved with. Absolutely not.

CUOMO: The idea that you went to Russia with Trump's children to advance business interests. Is that true?

SATER: That is true.

CUOMO: Because that you know that the GC, the general counsel of the Trump Organization says it's not true. Felix was just in Russia at the time that the kids were there, it wasn't coordinated. Is that true?

SATER: The president asked me to be in Russia at the same time as them to look after them.

CUOMO: The president asked you.

SATER: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: Directly?

SATER: Directly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Sater wouldn't say whether he was interviewed by Bob Mueller. Still ahead, Jake Tapper sits down with Stormy Daniels' attorney as he makes new claims that his client has been physically threatened to stay quiet.

But first, today marks the start of 2018's CNN Heroes. We want to introduce to you Carol Rosenstein. After her husband was diagnosed with dementia she started to lose hope until one day he sat down at the piano.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROL ROSENSTEIN, WIFE OF DEMENTIA VICTIM: I was seeing something magical happening before my eyes. The doctor told me that we were watching the power of music changing brain chemistry. Playing a musical instrument is like a full body workout for the brain. The music actually resurrected him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: How incredible is that? You can watch her full story of the band, Carol created actually for her husband called the Fifth Dementia. Go to CNNheroes.com. And while you are there please take a moment, think about it, nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: CNN's groundbreaking original series "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD" premieres tomorrow night at 10 o'clock Eastern. And our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour explores how women from different countries and cultures are breaking down old boundaries to find love and intimacy.

Here's a look at the first episode in Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:55:00] CHRISTINE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: It is a Japanese tradition that goes back centuries and it's an accepted way of life. That men can be pampered and pleasured by any number of services for a price. The modern salary man can choose everything from a traditional geisha to women dressed as school girls and hostess bars, guaranteeing very attentive company.

But where does a modern salary woman to go get her boxes ticked? In the post bubble economy, they work hard and play hard. But may have little time or inclination for relationships. Now there are host clubs to cater to female customers who may be searching for the boyfriend experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Again, "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD." It premier's tomorrow night 10 o'clock Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN with Christiane Amanpour.

And I'm Brooke Baldwin. Stay right here. "THE LEAD" starts right now.