Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump: Biden "Would Go Down Fast and Hard"; Source: Trump Meets with Bolton. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired March 22, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump escalating a fight with former Vice President Joe Biden today, tweeting: Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy.
[16:30:06] Actually, he's weak, both mentally and physically. He would go down fast and hard, crying all the way.
The tweet coming after Biden made comments to college students in Miami, referencing the "Access Hollywood" video and Trump's previous crude remarks about women.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: If I we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.
JOHNS: Biden's already hitting the campaign trail in support of Democrats, many right in the middle of Trump country, from Senator Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, a state Trump won by 36 points.
SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: In the reddest of red places, there's good people who want something different than what we have.
JOHNS: To Conor Lamb who pulled off the upset win in Pennsylvania and a district Trump won handily in 2016.
It's all part of the Biden playbook, using his working class roots and straight talk to appeal to Democrats who turned their backs on the party.
BIDEN: Some people in my party don't even get it anymore. They don't get it. It's about our pride. It's about our dignity.
JOHNS: But the looming question --
REPORTER: Vice President, was the Conor Lamb rally in a 2020 warm up?
JOHNS: Will Biden be the one to challenge President Trump in 2020?
BIDEN: I have a regret that I am not president because I think there's so much opportunity. JOHNS: Biden passed on a third presidential bid in 2016 after his
son, Beau, died in a battle with cancer. When he's on the stump, his straight talk has given way to his well-known propensity for gaffes. His small circle of advisers are keeping any 2020 plans under wraps for now, but sources confirmed that they have been going over the what-ifs should Biden decide to run.
BIDEN: We're not closing the door. Look, I've been around too long. I mean, I'm a great respecter of fate, and -- but who knows what the situation is going to be a year and a half from now?
JOHNS: At 78, he would be the oldest person ever to be sworn in as president. Still, Heitkamp is among those encouraging him to throw his hat in the ring.
(on camera): But do you think he should run?
HEITKAMP: I think he should run. I do.
JOHNS: Do you like him?
HEITKAMP: Oh, absolutely. And, I -- you know, my test, I have Republican friends who love Joe Biden because they connect with him.
JOHNS (voice-over): Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
TAPPER: Coming up, wait until you hear just who showed up at the White House just a second ago and might it spell trouble for one member of the Trump administration? Don't go anywhere.
[16:36:35] TAPPER: What's this? A sign of another White House shakeup in the near future?
That was John Bolton leaving the White House or entering the White House just moments ago. He's the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His name is floated to be a possible replacement for the national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
My political panel back with me. So, a source confirms, Pamela, that Bolton met with President Trump this afternoon.
Should we -- it is Friday tomorrow, and there hasn't been any major firing that I can think of this week.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
TAPPER: Should we expect McMaster to leave and Bolton to come on board tomorrow?
BROWN: And normally, Friday is when all the news happens, it seems, I've learned.
TAPPER: Fire day.
BROWN: Yes, exactly. You know, I think the timing of this cannot be ignored. Of course, you've been hearing speculation of rumors that McMasters is going to be replaced, and then the White House came out last week to quell -- to quell that speculation. But this comes on the heels of the president furious about this leak regarding his phone call with Vladimir Putin. But he congratulated him, ignoring the advice from his national security advisers.
And so, it certainly has a lot of us thinking, who cover the White House, does this mean once and for all, he's going to use this as a way to get rid of McMaster, which is something that he's been telling aides, advisers he's been wanting to do for some time. So, it is curious that the leading contender, according to sources to take McMaster's role as national security adviser, goes and meets with him at the White House today, Jake.
TAPPER: I have to say, if you look at Bolton's career, it doesn't really match up with the president's view of foreign policy. President Trump, when he ran, he talked about not being an interventionist, not wanting to start wars, and certainly, he -- you know, he dropped bombs in Syria and he's talked tough to North Korea. But it doesn't seem a great match on policy position, Josh, but I don't know it matters.
JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it is curious, because he has a much more aggressive posture than the president, at least campaigned on. Now, I think we found with virtually every president that you govern a little differently than you campaign when it comes to foreign policy and you may have found out in the last year and a half that John Bolton's view of the world actually fits his style better than we thought it did.
You know, I mean, look, he's in the shake it up mood. So, you never know what's happening. I think we've had our requisite shakeup here today with John Dowd. So, it's probably not coming today.
TAPPER: I think that counts as a firing, never mind. I was --
BROWN: Well, he resigned.
TAPPER: Right, right.
TAPPER: What do you think of John Bolton? A lot of progressives -- they're not fans.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's a safe characterization. Definitely not a fan of John Bolton.
You know, there's reports that just surfaced in the last couple days that he did an ad for a Russian linked gun lobby group, so, like perhaps, maybe the president likes John Bolton's view on Russia and that's why he's currently coming to the White House. We don't really know. But what I do know is this that it is not healthy for the United
States government or posture in the world internationally to be such shakeups in the White House like this. This is not a game. This is not a reality show. This is real life, and this is our government.
And every single day Donald Trump is allowed to carry on as though this is some reality TV show clearly for ratings hurts our standing in the world. This has lasting implications far beyond a Trump presidency.
TAPPER: So, though Biden and Trump were threatening to beat each other up, there was a much more peaceful feud, duel on Capitol Hill earlier today. Republican Senator Jeff flake and Democratic Senator Cory Booker challenging each other to a snowball duel on the hill. Booker lost and he had to buy Flake's staff pizza.
[16:40:01] There you see them having the snowball duel.
This is a much more -- this is much more what I think people like to see. I'm not sure what you think of the Biden-Trump, I can beat you up, grumpy old men sequel.
HOLMES: Let's take that one first, right? I think there's something more sophisticated about the Biden-Trump duel here than --
SANDERS: Tell us, Josh.
HOLMES: Well, because, look, we like to talk about the gender gap that the president has and we like to talk about how he's struggling with suburban voters, struggling with minority voters. What he's doing really well with is rural white men, and whether we want to talk about this or not, Democrats are going to have to win some states here like Ohio, like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, where there are an awful lot of rural white men.
TAPPER: You're saying Biden did something smart, is what you're saying, no?
HOLMES: What I'm saying is that he's trying to cut into this sort of machismo that Trump has been able to cultivate over the last few years, and I think that in some ways, this is a smart strategy by Biden.
TAPPER: We'll have you all back to talk more about this, a machismo gap.
Porn star Stormy Daniels claims President Trump broke the law, had her bullied. Can she prove it? We'll talk to her lawyer, next.
Plus, the upsetting police body cam footage that shows officers killing and shooting a man holding his cell phone in his grandmother's backyard. Why officers say they shot him 20 times.
[16:45:48] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I guess I'm not 100 percent sure on why you're doing this.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Quick preview of Stormy Daniels' interview this Sunday on 60 Minutes, where the adult film star is expected to detail her alleged affair with Donald Trump. This afternoon, Daniels' attorney demanded that the Trump organization and banks behind the $130,000 payment of the alleged hush money keep all records related to the agreement.
Joining me to talk about all this is Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti. Michael, thank you for being here. Have you -- have you drafted a subpoena for this record, and this is worked?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Jake, thanks for having me. We have the subpoenas in the can, there -- they will be released as soon as the window opens for discovery in our case which hopefully will occur shortly.
TAPPER: Now, you said today that the president's attorney said, resorted to "thuggish tactics". Describe, what is -- what do you mean by thuggish behavior?
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, I think a lot of that is going to be -- is going to come out during the interview on Sunday. But I think, most recently, Jake, you look at these threats of suing my client for $20 million. These threats that they're going to take her house, they're going to take all of her money, they're going to take the money and go on extended vacations.
This is not professional. It's thuggish, they are empty threats it's never going to happen. My clients not going away, I'm not going away. And look, Jake, the president may be able to fire Mueller. He can't fire me, and he can't fire my client. And we're going to get to the bottom of this.
TAPPER: So, it does seem to me that if the Trump team had just let Stormy Daniels, tell her story and not threaten to go after her in any way and just acted as if the nondisclosure agreement, which honestly, $130,000 for Donald Trump, that's nothing. That this story would have gone away a long, long time ago, don't you think?
AVENATTI: Well, Jake, I think they should have let her tell her story back in October of 2016. And I asked Mr. Schwartz, on A.C. 360 the other night, and you know, everybody has got a stunt double except me and my client. Donald Trump has a stunt double called Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen now has a stunt double called Mr. Schwartz. We're waiting for the stunt double of Mr. Schwartz, to step up. I mean, I don't understand it.
I'm here answering questions, my client's going to answer questions on Sunday. None of -- none of the players in this game will step forward and answer pointed questions. I don't understand, and I asked Mr. Schwartz, this on A.C. 360 the other night. What's the big deal? What's the issue? Why do they continue to attempt to intimidate this woman, put her under their thumb? Let her talk, let her tell her story. If they're that confident that what she is saying is a bunch of B.S. And, Jake, I will tell you, it's very credible, but if they're that confident, they should let her talk and they, in turn, could tell their version of events.
TAPPER: To be honest, I mean, you have said that your client was that physically threatened to stay silent, but you haven't answered questions on what exactly you mean by that. Who issued the threats, what the threats were Michael Cohen denies that it was him. So, you're not answering all the questions that I have either.
AVENATTI: Well, Jake, but it's not for me to answer those questions, and I've told you is, is that she is going to answer those questions on Sunday. That's what I've said and that's the form in which she's going to answer the questions, and I'm confident that people are going to learn details relating to that, and they are going to reach their own conclusions.
TAPPER; In her interview with In Touch magazine, Stormy Daniels said that she had the phone number of Donald Trump's former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, and his long-time assistant, Rhona Graff. This is, of course, back when Donald Trump, was a private citizen. She said she coordinated meetings with the president through Schiller. Did she have any contact with Schiller, Graff after the affair -- of alleged affair ended?
AVENATTI: I don't know the answer to that. So, I can't answer it.
TAPPER: Did Keith Schiller have any involvement in the nondisclosure agreement at all?
AVENATT: I don't know how to answer that. I mean, what do you mean by that? I want to understand the question.
TAPPER: Did he asked her to sign it? Did he bring it to her? Did he pressure her to sign it?
AVENATTI: I don't believe that he was directly involved in it, no.
TAPPER: Now, your client, Stormy Daniels, tweeted that the president, "Had her bullied and broke laws to cover it up." Can you elaborate it all who bullied her? Can she prove that the president broke any laws?
AVENATTI: Jake, again, that's not for me to answer. I'm not dodging the question, she's going to answer these questions point blank during the telecast on Sunday.
[16:50:06] TAPPER: Now, earlier this week, you released a photographs and the declaration from somebody who administered lie detector test on Stormy Daniels back in 2011. You bought that, that was done by a private publisher who is trying to prove that her story for -- you know, before they published it was true, was accurate. You said you weren't the only one trying to buy this lie detector test video of her. Who else tried to buy it and why?
AVENATTI: Well, Jake, here is what we discovered. We learned that there were a number of third parties including a couple parties in the mainstream media that were soliciting the polygraph examiner and attempting to purchase not only the video but his file. We caught wind of that, we immediately negotiated with him. We purchased the video and the entire file, and all rights to the file and the video. All of that is now in a very safe place, and the reason why we did that was because, a, we did not want it destroyed because it's highly relevant to our case, and, b, we did not want it utilized through -- for some nefarious activity. So, we acquired it and it's now in a safe place.
TAPPER: Was it somebody buying it to air it, or somebody buying it to bury it?
AVENATTI: Well, I think there were multiple parties that had a desire to do both.
Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model also alleges that she had an affair with President Trump. Around that same time, have you or your legal team all spoken with her or her legal counsel?
AVENATTI: No, and we see that case as very, very different, Jake.
TAPPER: No, right. She is suing American media international, not President Trump. Michael Avenatti, always good to have you on. Thanks so much for your time.
AVENATTI: Jake, thank you. Have a good evening.
TAPPER: Another woman posing a legal threat to the White House, as Playmate Karen McDougal, as I just mentioned. She will join CNN tonight for an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper about her alleged affair with Donald Trump years ago, something the White House has denied. That's an interview we'll only see on CNN tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up, disturbing body cam footage from the police show officers shooting a man while he's holding a cell phone in his grandmother's backyard. Now the family's demanding answers about their grandson's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEQUITA THOMPSON, GRANDMOTHER OF STEPHON CLARK: And I told those officers, you are the murders, murderers, murderers!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:56:50] TAPPER: In our "NATIONAL LEAD", it happened again. An unarmed African-American man shot and killed by police. This time, in his grandmother's backyard. Now, newly released bodycam video is telling us more of this chilling and tragic story. I want to bring in CNN's Dan Simon. Dan, what else does the video reveal?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it obviously shows that a lot of shots were fired. Now, Sacramento police are saying that the responding officers thought that Stephon Clark was pointing a gun at them, but there was no gun, just a cell phone. And now, there are mounting questions as to why officers firing at least 20 rounds in a warning, some of what you're about to see is graphic.
POLICE OFFICER: Hey! Show me your hands! Stop, stop!
SIMON: The encounter lasts less than a minute.
POLICE OFFICER: Come in here, drop your gun.
SIMON: After a brief chase, Sacramento police fired 20 shots. And as the smoke clears, they explain --
POLICE OFFICERS: Something in his hands, it looked like a gun from our perspective.
SIMON: Ahead, in their spotlight, an unarmed 22 year-old black man lay dead in his grandmother's backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we can't cooperate getting help on how's to know your -- you don't have the (INAUDIBLE).
VANCE CHANDLER, PUBLIC INFORMATION SERGEANT, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's a very tragic event for the family and for our officers.
SIMON: They say they feared for their lives, but no weapons were found at the scene, just a cell phone.
THOMPSON: Right there, right there was my grandson dead with the iPhone.
SIMON: It does not appear the pursuing officers ever identified themselves as police before opening fire. Now, the family of Stephon Clark, a father of two, says they are murderers.
Are you angry with them?
STEVANTE CLARK, BROTHER OF STEPHON CLARK: I'm pissed, I'm livid. I'm --
SIMON: You said, you wanted his name to be remembered the same way the people remember?
CLARK: -- Martin, to Marie Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown.
SIMON: Sacramento police arrived in the neighborhood, Sunday after 9:00 p.m. responding to calls of someone breaking car windows. Police say they found at least three vehicles damaged. They believe Clark was the culprit.
According to the Sheriff's Department, its helicopter crew observed the person breaking windows and picking up a toolbar. Aerial video show someone, police say as Clark, hopping fences and running from police. CLARK: The police have Trans slandering, I was saying it was this and that. He wasn't a gun guy. You know I mean?
POLICE OFFICER: 570 is down, no movement.
SIMON: Moments after the gunfire, Clark lay silent. And the officers reload their guns. Still fearful, it seems, of being attacked. Minutes later, they approach to administer aid.
Where does the family go from here?
CLARK: We're afraid -- we're afraid. It's not the first and it won't be the last. That's what I think -- that why it hurts the most.
SIMON: Now, Clark did have a previous criminal record including charges of domestic abuse and robbery. But, obviously, Jake, that had no bearing on the events of that night. We should point out that the two officers have been put on paid administrative leave, and one of them, Jake, is African-American. Jake?
TAPPER: Dan Simon in Sacramento, for us. Thank you so much. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD today. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer, his next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.