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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Tweets V.A. Secretary Shulkin Has Been Ousted Replacing Him with the White House Doctor; Dowd Reportedly Suggests President Trump would Pardon Flynn and Manafort; Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Seeks To Depose Trump and Cohen; No Public Events for the President Amid Growing Questions about His Alleged Affairs; Outrage Growing Over Fatal Police Shooting of Stephon Clark. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 28, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:12] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, Shulkin out, the president announcing the ouster of a top secretary on Twitter replacing him with the White House doctor. Is Trump adding to his roster of yes men?
Plus was there talk of pardon for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. Was the president behind those conversations? And Stormy Daniels attorney files to depose the president and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen spokesman and attorney is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, another Trump firing a top Trump cabinet official gone tonight. This time it's the Veteran's Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. President making announcement on Twitter this evening, announcing Shulkin replacement to run the second biggest agency in the United States with over 300,000 employees will be Trump's White House personnel physician, Ronny Jackson.
Much more on this stunning announcement in just a moment because the timing here is extremely important. Trump's end of the day Twitter bomb firing and hiring, coming just hours after a major bombshell drops in the Russia investigation. "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" reporting that Trump's former lead attorney, John Dowd, secretly reached out to the attorneys for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort They of course are two crucial figures in Robert Mueller Russia investigation, Dowd reportedly suggesting that President Trump would pardon both Flynn and Manafort.
Now, both of these men, of course, have been charged with major crimes by Mueller, from lying, to money laundering. Both of them held top positions with Trump. Flynn as his National Security Adviser and Manafort as his Campaign Chairman.
To be honest, they were in a position to know things if there are things to be known, which raises the question tonight, was John Dowd reportedly dangling out pardons in attempt to prevent Flynn and Manafort from flipping and cooperating with Mueller.
At the White House today Press Secretary Sarah Sanders would not fully deny the president's role in the reported discussions about pardons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president direct John Dowd to talk to the attorneys of both Manafort and Michael Flynn about potential partners?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware of any conversations to that nature at all.
BURNETT: I'm not aware, which of course isn't a no. And it's the wording and the theme we've heard before when talking about possible pardons regarding these two men.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday the president said that he felt very badly for General Flynn. Would he consider pardoning him?
SANDERS: I'm not aware of that has come up or any process or decision on that front.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates were named in this or the thing does not having at anything to do with the campaign, would the president consider or rule out pardoning either of them?
SANDERS: I haven't had any conversations with him about that.
BURNETT: I'm not aware. I haven't had conversations. Again, not answering the question.
Both Flynn and Manafort have extensive ties to Russia. Flynn, the president's former national security adviser was under investigation at the time the pardon idea was floated by Dowd for lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Manafort the former campaign chair, among other things, was at the Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer in June of 2016.
Now, John Dowd, of course, quit his job as president's lead attorney last week. So today another Russia attorney for the president, Ty Cobb released the statement that reads in part, "I have only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House." Interesting that he added in the words, "on the record."
Now, of course under discussion or under discussion you'll also notice that Cobb uses the present tense. It does not discussion discussions from last year which is when these conversations reportedly happened. Keep in mind, both Manafort and Flynn were charged by Mueller last fall.
Flynn pleaded guilty. But Manafort didn't. Is that because he's expecting a pardon? It's a question tonight. The president has been repeatedly himself asked about whether he would pardon both men and here's how he has responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We'll see what happens. Let's see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, are you going to pardon Manafort?
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDE OCLIP)
BURNETT: Dowd himself says as far as he knows, there were no discussions about pardons. And, you know, when you hear all this its a lot of as far as I know, I'm not aware, I haven't had any conversations, not right now, that's a lot of what's coming from the White House team. And it raises some serious questions.
OUTFRONT tonight Jeff Zeleny who is live at the White House.
[19:05:02] And Jeff, you know, the president announcing on Twitter that he's getting rid of his Veteran's Affair Secretary David Shulkin who is a dead man walking for days. And he does it hours after we're hearing this major development involving possible pardons. Interesting timing.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, there's no question the president knows how to change the subject and how he announces this, is his own decision. He controls the timing here. We are told that the Chief of Staff, John Kelly, here at the White House informed Secretary Shulkin of his firing. The president we were told did not reach out to him directly.
Now, all of this of course is happening after hours and hours of questions here at the White House about the potential pardon. At the White House briefing, as you were showing there. Sarah Sanders walked a fine line speaking in the present tense saying not that I know of, I'm not aware of.
But the reality here is we know that the president has expressed some interest in pardoning them. So the interesting timing though, Erin, is the timing last year here before Flynn have actually pleaded guilty. Now, there may be not anything wrong with this at all. He is the president. He can decide who he pardons.
But it raises the question is this going to be part of Robert Mueller obstruction of justice investigation here. Was there some conversation about this before that guilty plea? Of course all of this will play out as many things will but it's stacking up here on a day with another big staff shake-up. Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Jeff Zeleny. And OUTFRONT now, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, White
House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan and Former Federal Prosecutor, Glen Donath who represented President Clinton during Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment hearings. Also represents a client we should know to his been before the special counsel in connection with the Ukraine allegations with Manafort and Gates.
April, let me start with you. The president hits Twitter at 5:31, to be exact, p.m., Eastern Standard Time, to say Shulkin is out --
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes.
BURNETT: -- as V.A. secretary. More than 300,000 employees, second largest governmental unit and that his personal doctor at the White House, Ronny Jackson is going to be the new Veterans Affairs secretary. It's a pretty stunning announcement.
Is this about that or is this about the president not wanting the news tonight to leave with him pardoning two major players in the Russia investigation?
RYAN: It's both. It's a distraction as well as trying to take the focus off of the situation and also trying to move the ball forward with VA. We know that the president, we've known for weeks that the president has not been happy about the situation with the V.A. secretary.
RYAN: You know, the word was the fact that, you know, all the other secretaries can travel abroad. But why would a V.A. secretary have to have to travel overseas unless they're going to some place like Normandy for commemoration --
RYAN: -- of something there. And that just did not bode well for him and he's very unhappy about that. But it comes at a time where it was strategically placed to be a distraction.
This president doesn't want to deal with this, this issue of pardons, this issue of Russia, and a source says, this is very real that they've put that up. This was a leak story that they put it out --
RYAN: -- for the pardons to give word to Manafort as well as Flynn.
BURNETT: And that's really important part of this. And we're going to talk much more about the V.A. and the chaos in the White House in a moment because that is an important story. But we are going to talk more about the pardons and do so in detail right now.
So, John, do you see anything suspect, if the president's team was in fact discussing pardons with Manafort and Flynn, leading into their being charged?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I see a great deal of suspect. John Dowd is old enough to remember Watergate. And Watergate was infected deeply with pardon promises from Richard Nixon, both during the cover-up and as the tail-end of it when his presidency was ending. And one of the things that was in the bill of impeachment for Richard Nixon was the misuse of his pardon power.
I think John Dowd if he has done this, either way, this report is going to result in his being asked by the Special Counsel what he was doing, if he was doing it by himself, he could be involved in obstruction. If he was doing it with the president, he could be involved in conspiracy to obstruct. So this is pretty serious charge that came out from very good journalism.
GLEN DONATH, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON IN LEWINSKY AND IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: Well, Erin thanks for having me again. I think it's important to note at the outset, that Mr. Dowd, at least according to the story, adamantly denies that he discussed pardons with any of the private lawyers. He's had a very distinguished career in government and private practice, he was a marine.
I take his denial seriously and it sort of hard to know and to make of this developing story. Assuming the allegations are true, I agree with John. I think it's really problematic. There are very smart lawyers on both sides of the debate as to whether the exercise of the pardon power or here contemplated exercise of that power --
DONATH: -- could rise a level of destruction. But no careful lawyer for the president would want to be near that discussion.
[19:10:11] BURNETT: I mean, you know, this is the thing even after Manafort and Flynn were charged, right? And as that pointed out Flynn pleading guilty, but Manafort didn't, right? And now you've got this reporting, it's raising questions about as to why, right? That did he -- is he holding out and expectation of a pardon or what? I mean after the charge, the president still had very nice things publicly he came out and said about Flynn and Manafort. Here he is first we're hearing about Manafort, and then Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TURMP: I feel badly for him because I always found him to be really a very nice person.
I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life. And I feel very badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: John is that just what you'd expect from the president or does it sound like he's trying to send sort of a message? DEAN: I think he's clearly sending a message in those bouquets he's sending out to his former aides to hang tight. I think it's quite obvious. And he -- somebody must have advised him somewhere along the line, he has to be careful. This is a dangerous ground, it could be obstruction. But he can't resist himself. This is his nature as well.
BURNETT: April, you know, we're also learning prosecutors say they have made a major connection between the deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, right, a very close associate to Paul Manafort with ties with to Russian intelligence service, and we understand that this happened during the campaign in the fall of 2016, right before the voting, that person ties existed in 2016. Gates was aware of this, this tie to Russian intelligence that he was working with this person who was a close business colleague of himself, and Paul Manafort. How significant, April, is this development tonight?
RYAN: It basically substantiates for many and some that were skeptical that this is real. And also, you know, granted there is no crime for collusion, but there are other avenues that this links to that could really spell trouble for this president and his presidency as it relates to the democracy and the Democratic process of the U.S. election process. So this actually just is one of those factoids that you can stand on.
It's not speculation. It's not myth now. It's one of those facts that they have to say this is something that really could point to the president or those close to the inner circle. So it moves the ball forward.
BURNETT: And it certainly, you know, it does with a known tie to intelligence. Thank you very much all three of you.
And next more on the breaking news, the White House shake-up and David Shulkin who is replaced by this man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNY JACKSON, NOMINATED DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: There's no indication was served that he has any cognitive issues. The president, you know, he's very sharp, he's very articulate. The president's health is excellent. It's called genetics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's your new nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs, second largest department in the United States.
Plus Stormy Daniels legal team not backing down. What could a motion to depose the president of the United States mean for Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen spokesman guest OUTFRONT.
And family feud, Kellyanne Conway's husband sent a tweet today slamming the administration, and it's not the first time. What's going on?
[19:17:04] BURNETT: Breaking news, Veteran's Affairs Secretary David Shulkin out, fired, and replaced by the president's White House doctor. After weeks of Shulkin, the former secretary, twisting in the wind with reports President Trump was unhappy with him, and frankly, some pretty awful travel receipts. Tonight the president came out finally and did the job.
I'm pleased to announce that I attend the nominee of high respected admiral Ronny L. Jackson, M.D. as the new secretary of Veteran's Affairs. In the in room honorable Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as acting secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin's service to our country and to our great the veterans.
Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT.
Pamela, what do you know about how this firing went down because this is one of those ones, everybody knew the president wanted was going to do. And then, you know, he finally for whatever reason maybe link to some of the other reporting out there today chose to do it now.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right. And I guess this is no surprise, Erin, that Shulkin found out he had been fired in a phone call from the Chief of Staff John Kelly. A White House official says that Shulkin, it was becoming too much of a distraction and he was sort of a dead man walking the recent days with these news that the president was going to fire him.
So, Chief of Staff John Kelly have him a call told him that he was fired, the same way the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found out phone call from the chief of staff that not from the president himself.
And we're told that the president had been talking to people close to him in recent days, allies, and friends saying that he wanted to fire Shulkin. Many White House staffers I'd spoken too Erin have sort of wondered out loud to me why Shulkin didn't quit?
BROWN: Of the writing was on the wall that he was going to be fired and I'm told that things really be soured between the president and his VA secretary earlier this year when Shulkin was a subject of that damming report from the department inspector general that found serious derelictions by Shulkin and senior V.A. officials. So that was sort of beginning of the end of his demise. Before that, though Erin he was well-liked. The president, those around him liked him. And it's really remarkable to see how quickly he fell and how he found out today.
BURNETT: Right. How quickly he fell and of course it was John Kelly who made the call, again not the president. The president is nominating his White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, to replace Shulkin. Jackson of course as we know raved about the president's health in extensive remarks to reporters answering all their questions. Is Jackson qualified though to lead the second largest federal department? We're talking about what, more than 300,000 employees?
BROWN: It's really remarkable. The second largest agency. This is a man who had sort of a meteoric rise ever since he was there, in the press briefing room giving the president a clean bill of health. You'll recall that day. And this was amid all the speculation about that the president's fitness to be in office and so forth. He tamped that down when he held that press briefing.
[19:20:02] And ever since then promoted. He was promoted to admiral from, you know, from the physician to that and now to oversee the second largest agency in the government. Those who have come before him, Erin, have had a long track record of running agencies or companies.
But I'm told that the president has mentioned his name to those around him as a possible replacement for Shulkin and those around him actually kind of laughed off the idea, Erin. They didn't think that he was actually serious about it, given his lack of experience, running an agency but here we are and now it appears he will, Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly serious. Thank you very much Pamela.
And OUTFRONT now, former White House adviser, Stephen Moore and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Thanks to both.
Robert, Shulkin, we know has been on death watch as we've been saying for weeks, right? The president want to get rid of him and he pick his moment. The president let it all drag out in public which was of course humiliating with Shulkin, he clearly made some bad decisions when it comes to travel. But the shake-up ads an unprecedented turnover rate in this administration. Now we're now what, 50 percent according to Brookings. Is there a method to the madness of running an administration this way?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER. U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, it is madness. I don't think there's a method very much, Erin. The problem is when you run an administration in which you have so much turnover and the president is actually firing like mad, it creates a kind of at a effect -- a chilling effect throughout the administration. People don't know how long they're going to be there. Their assistance and the career civil service doesn't know what kind of the management structure is going to be.
You know, these are complicated departments. I ran a department and I served in three separate administrations. It takes a long time to figure out what you are doing.
I mean, even at the best of times and even if you have the full support of your president. Let me say one other thing. This is a president who has demanded loyalty. He wants loyalty. That's all he talks about is loyalty. He wants people to sign loyalty oaths. But this is a man, a president who has not been very loyal to the people who work for them. I mean leaving them twisting the wind like this.
BURNETT: Excuse me. So --
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: But let me respond to that if I may.
BURNETT: Steve, can I just ask you, because when it comes to loyalty, right, Trump like Shulkin, doc -- I mean -- I'm sorry, Dr. Ronny Jackson who is White House doctor, gave him that clean bill of health. Here's some of the things Jackson said about Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: There is no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues. The president, you know, he's very sharp, he is very articulate. A lot of energy and a lot of stamina.
Look at his vision, I mean he's, you know, he's 71 years old, I mean he can drive if he wants to without glasses. I mean he washes his hands frequently. He uses Purell. The president's health is excellent.
The fit is overall, health is excellent. Now he has incredible genes I just assume. I think he remain it for duty for the reminder of this term and even for the reminder of another term if he's elected for another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Steve is -- look, he's a doctor, he's a respected doctor. Is he the best man to run the second largest agency in the United States, or is this the yes man he wants? I mean Trump if he's watching, he watch this like whoa. That's why I picked that guy.
MOORE: Well, let me say a couple of things. first of all, in response to what Robert Reich has said, you know, there's all this talk I see that's on all the time, a crisis in the White House, there's madness, but you know there's an old saying, a new saying I should say, that, you know, Donald Trump is the worst president ever unless you look at results. And what's happening with the economy, Bob, and jobs, and all these things are so positive --
BURNETT: OK. But Steve --
MOORE: -- and that's what --
BURNETT: Steve, I understand --
MOORE: But here's my point.
BURNETT: -- this is the pivot you have to make. But can you answer my question? Is he the best man for the job? Or does the president want a yes man.
MOORE: I think that to the president should have in the agencies who he wants. But my point is this, when you ask the question, both of you about loyalty, you know what impresses me about Donald Trump is do you know who he's loyal to, Bob and Erin, he is loyal to the people who voted for him.
He is checking all of the boxes of things that he said he was going to do. He's doing tax cuts, deregulation, pulling out of these treaties and so on. And that so I think the most important thing.
BURNETT: Although --
MOORE: Loyal --
BURNETT: I'm not going to get into this, but there some interesting articles on that trade specifically and how it hurts his base more than anybody else. But hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
BURNETT: Hold on. Hold on. Please. Please, one second. I want to talk a little bit more about Dr. Jackson on this specific point that when now Trump picks them because it does matter who you picked, right?
MOORE: Yes, certainly
BURNETT: To do jobs. OK. Robert, we know the president is obsessed with image. In private remarks to France including a fund raiser dinner at Mar-A-Lago, Trump praised Ronny Jackson looks specifically and by the way we have the tape. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: He's like central casting, I mean became like a Hollywood star so I think they'll make a movie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And an appearance matters. Here is Trump talking about other people and how appearance matters when he picks people to work for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He has been so wonderful to work with. He's a real talent and real guy. And he is Central Casting. Do we agree? Central Casting.
I see my general's, a couple of them. This a central casting of him doing a movie. I'd pick you, general, General Mattis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:25:12] BURNETT: Is that just words, Robert, or is that how he actually makes picks?
REICH: No, I think that's exactly how he has picked people. Not everybody, obviously. But looked at Rex Tillerson and he said Rex Tillerson looks like a secretary of state.
I mean, you know, for a television personality, and that's what Trump is, and a marketer. And that's what Trump is and has been, you know, you're not hiring qualified people. He's not hiring qualified people. He is hiring people who look the part or have or who are (INAUDIBLE), who are basically told him what he wants to hear. This is not the way to run a government. This is a complex in set of institutions and it's dangerous to pick people that way. And it's dangerous not to give them enough time to actually learn their jobs.
BURNETT: Stephen, I want to ask you a question here about where we are on the process. So if you want to make the argument, OK, he needed to get out but people he didn't like. That the people in that he does like obviously, you know, Hope Hicks quit her post and today was her last day.
So now there's the question about who's going to replace her? One of the names most talked about is Kellyanne Conway a top Trump adviser who's been, you know, publicly loyal to him. Her husband now, George Conway, sent a tweet today that I think will raise your eyebrows if you did not see already Stephen.
He wrote this is flabbergasting. And then he put a link to the "New York Times" article about Trump's lawyer talking about pardons in the Russia investigation. And that's not the first time her husband has done this sort of things.
When Trump fires people after saying they're safe, which is what we're talking about, he writes, so true, it's absurd, which is why people are banging down the doors to be comps director, pretty snarky. And then when Joe diGenova was hired, although obviously, I don't know we have -- what really happened with that, but anyway, the day he was hired, he writes the chickens didn't have time to leave the barn.
Kellyanne Conway and George Conway have not responded to us. Stephen what's going on though? This is a -- It's pretty significant. I mean this is the husband of perhaps the president's most trusted adviser right now.
MOORE: Frankly, I don't know. I can't respond to that. But I will say this, I mean I think what Trump is doing and is, look, this is a business man president, right, Robert Reich.
This is the first president we've had in a long, long time who understands business. And, you know, you look at the way he ran his successful businesses. If he had people weren't -- and by the way this is the way most CEOs, you know, operate.
If you're not performing you get fired. And the problem I think Robert Reich is exactly opposite in the problem that you see in government. Instead people don't get fired for malperformance and when they're not doing their job.
You got a career civil service system where people therefore 25 years, you can't get rid of people. We should be -- have performance-based government and that's what I think Trump is trying to get here.
REICH: And that's not what we have. And that's not what Trump has given us.
BURNETT: Performance or appearance. All right thank you both very much. I appreciate your time as always. And next President Trump under oath the Stormy Daniels legal team is demanding to depose the president and his attorney about that $130,000 payoff. Spokesperson for the president's attorney is OUTFRONT next.
And protests in Sacramento again tonight over the police killing Stephon Clark. The White House sidestepping questions today when asked directly calling close local matter. We'll be back.
[19:31:44] BURNETT: Tonight, Stormy Daniels trying to force President Trump to testify under oath. Daniels' lawyer has now filed a motion in federal court seeking to depose the president and his lawyer Michael Cohen. The reason they say to find out whether the president was aware of the agreement and whether he agreed to it.
Now, keep in mind, Cohen has admitted he paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president. The hearing date is now scheduled for April 30th.
OUTFRONT tonight, David Schwartz, Michael Cohen's spokesman, also Cohen's attorney in another case. He's represented the Trump Organization in other matters as well.
OK, let's get straight to it. Is Michael Cohen going to sit down with a deposition?
DAVID SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEY AND SPOKESMAN: No, he won't get to that point. Of course, if the court ordered him to, he would sit down for a deposition.
But this case is completely frivolous, OK? The defamation case doesn't even come close to making out defamation. You have to prove that the statement is false. It's got to be -- it's one of the elements. It's got to be a false statement.
And when you look at the statement that he made, it's not even close on its face that it's a false statement. How could anyone assume that it's a false statement the way he worded that?
So, the judge will look at that right away and say it's not even close to being defamation on its face. That will be thrown out.
BURNETT: But if it isn't, you're saying, and he's told to sit down, he will?
SCHWARTZ: Of course, he will.
BURNETT: He's not going to be in contempt, so he'll go and sit down?
SCHWARTZ: Of course he will. But he won't have to in that case.
BURNETT: Now, the question is, though, Stormy Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti, is saying, look, ordinarily, you get seven-plus hours for this. I'm not asking for that. I'm asking for two hours because I want to get straight to it. I'm not asking about other women. I'm asking about this case. He's being very specific, listing out his questions.
Why not do it? If there's nothing to hide, why not come out and do it under oath?
SCHWARTZ: It's so reasonable. So he wants to depose the president. Yes, everyone wants to get the chance to depose. So, he wants to depose the president for two hours. Look --
BURNETT: There is it a precedent for the way for the president to be deposed. Paula Jones --
SCHWARTZ: Of course there is.
BURNETT: -- is mentioned in this filing.
SCHWARTZ: And he may be deposed in other cases, I'm not saying he won't be.
But in this particular case, if you have -- they are seeking a declaratory judgment. So, now, you have the defamation, we just covered that. Now you have the declaratory judgment.
The declaratory -- this is an iron solid contract. It is a contract. She signed the contract. She received the benefit of the contract. It was signed by the other party.
BURNETT: Meaning she received $130,000.
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. And EC, LLC signed on the other side. So, the judge is going to be able to look at this contract and say what are you talking about here? You had an attorney present also, the attorney who negotiated it.
BURNETT: There are some crucial issues aside from whether or not they had all the details about the sex she's talked about that night, OK? Because in the sense, you might also say that separate from the issue.
BURNETT: The issue is she was paid $130,000 --
BURNETT: -- days before the election. Was it done to influence the election and did the president know about it? And that's what Avenatti is saying that he wants to get to the bottom of in this filing, right?
And Sarah Sanders, the president's press secretary, was asked specific by about this today. Did the president know about the $130,000? Did he know that it was even possible? Did he know about the nondisclosure agreement itself? And here's how the exchange went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: You haven't answered the substantive question about whether the president was aware of the $130,000 payment that was made under agreement in which he is explicitly named to keep Stormy Daniels silent. Can you answer that question?
[19:35:01] You were asked three weeks ago today and said you weren't aware. Are you aware now?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president has denied the allegations. We've spoken about this issue extensively. And I don't have anything to add beyond that -- anything beyond that I would refer you to the outside counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. It seems like a simple question and you are Cohen's spokesperson in this. So, can you say unequivocally that the president was never in any way aware of the $130,000 of the agreement itself?
SCHWARTZ: The president was not aware of the agreement. At least Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement. I can tell you that. And you asked a whole bunch of questions, so let me cover that.
SCHWARTZ: So, you asked about 12 days before --
BURNETT: Not aware of the agreement. How about the money?
SCHWARTZ: He was not aware of any of it.
SCHWARTZ: He was not aware.
SCHWARTZ: He wasn't told about it. Michael Cohen left the option open. That's why he left that signature line --
BURNETT: Dennis Dennison.
SCHWARTZ: The option open to go to him. He chose not to. He chose to bind the LLC - E.C., LLC, and Stormy Daniels into the contract.
SCHWARTZ: Now you ask why did -- why -- people are scratching their heads, why 12 days before? Because that's when the attorney approached Michael Cohen. The other -- Stormy Daniels' attorney approached Michael Cohen.
BURNETT: Maybe she thought her story was valuable coming into the election.
SCHWARTZ: She admitted that on "60 Minutes", right?
BURNETT: But if you are paying off $130,000 right before the election, aren't you doing it to influence the election?
BURNETT: Isn't that that definitional, which is a violation of the law?
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely not. That's all speculative. That's speculation. That's guesswork, OK? The bottom line is --
BURNETT: So, why pay it at all if you don't care what she's going to say?
SCHWARTZ: Erin, so this is done every single day in this country. You pay it off to avoid litigation. You pay it off to protect family. You pay it off to protect business. And you pay it off to protect reputation.
That's what's done. Politicians enter into these.
BURNETT: So before we go --
SCHWARTZ: TV personalities.
SCHWARTZ: Business people.
BURNETT: Right, I understand what you're saying.
SCHWARTZ: But I want to --
BURNETT: To a layperson, it's like why would you do it unless you're lying? A lot of people do it.
SCHWARTZ: By the way, this has nothing to do with Avenatti. Why is this in Avenatti's papers? The federal election case, that's for the Federal Election Commission. It has nothing to do with this.
BURNETT: But here's what I do think is important. It would be unethical, lawyers would say, for a lawyer, Michael Cohen, to go into agreement, nondisclosure agreement and payoff a porn star $130,000 without telling his client about it. That would be unethical thing to do.
So, here's my question. If he didn't tell the president, who was not the president at the time, he could be disbarred. My question for you --
SCHWARTZ: I don't accept that. I don't --
BURNETT: If he has to choose eventually between the president lying for him, and himself, who is he going to choose?
SCHWARTZ: I don't even understand -- let me just break that down. The bottom line is, you know, he's going to tell the truth as to what took place. And what took place is very clear. OK?
The other lawyer approached him. It happened to coincide with the election. She admitted on "60 Minutes" she was shopping the case around. She admits that. OK? She was receiving offers.
BURNETT: Why wouldn't he tell his clients? Can you answer to me why he wouldn't have told his client that he's paying $130,000 to a porn star?
SCHWARTZ: His client -- his client is E.C., LLC under the agreement. That is the binding party. Donald Trump in this agreement, he's a third party beneficiary.
I know you are smiling at me, but these are legal concepts.
BURNETT: I understand they are legal concepts.
SCHWARTZ: These are legal concepts. He's a third party beneficiary. He didn't have an obligation. And if you understand, and you do somewhat, you understand structure of the Trump -- and Michael Cohen's role in there, it was much more than attorney and client.
BURNETT: I understand what Michael Cohen's role was. He's very close to the president.
SCHWARTZ: Right, right, very close.
BURNETT: He makes it harder for me to imagine he didn't tell the president because I do know about Michael's role.
SCHWARTZ: Because he's that close to him he had great latitude to handle these matters.
BURNETT: So they happened with such frequency that you wouldn't need to tell him about $130,000 payment?
SCHWARTZ: Look, Michael was the fixer. We all know Michael -- so, it could be anything. It's not that this matter -- there were a ton of matters that took place that Michael fixed. Donald Trump wasn't involved in every single matter, all right?
And the other reason why we know --
BURNETT: I understand that.
SCHWARTZ: -- there was a line there, right, for DD. All right? It was blank.
BURNETT: David Dennison.
SCHWARTZ: It was blank, right? That's evidence in and of itself that he didn't go to Donald Trump because the line was blank. He left the line blank.
BURNETT: Understood. But I'm just making a point, you wouldn't go to him only if it happened so frequently that you wouldn't need to. It's sort of when these things come along, you take care of it.
Right? You understand where I'm coming, right?
SCHWARTZ: The insinuation that it's some sort of sexual in nature, it could be any business problem.
SCHWARTZ: Believe me, Michael Cohen got calls at 3:00 in the morning. Michael and I would be at dinner, the boss would be calling him all the time. So, there's always problems, in any business, there's always problems.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, David. I appreciate it. Good to see you.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And we'll be talking to you again as this continues.
And next, are the allegations raised by Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal testing the faith that evangelicals have in this president. Jerry Falwell Jr. is my guest.
And maybe politicians are just like us, a mayor, air pods, and the picture everybody is talking about.
[19:43:44] BURNETT: Tonight, a fifth day of silence for President Trump. No public events for the president, amid growing questions about his alleged affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playmate Karen McDougal. And the White House repeating the same untrue statement that the questions about these have been answered extensively.
OUTFRONT now, Jerry Falwell. He's president of Liberty University, which is the largest Christian university in the world. A crucial voice for evangelicals.
And this is an important question. Jerry, at this point, do you think the president needs to come out and address these allegations directly or not?
JERRY FALWELL JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, I know he's already denied the allegations. And first of all I appreciate you having me on. I'm here to give my perspective on this.
But I don't think he needs to come forward. I think everyone knows his past. I'm one of the 85 percent or so of evangelicals who supported him. We knew about his past as real estate mogul, as sort of a playboy, as a owner of a beauty pageant.
And we supported him for one reason, because of his position on the issues. I've been consist throughout my life. I never once criticized Bill Clinton when he was accused of all sorts of things by many women, even though I didn't agree with his politics.
[19:45:00] FALWELL: And I think we need to be focused on the issues. When you choose a doctor or lawyer, or when you decide which movie to watch, you don't check the doctor or the lawyer's past to see if they've had an extramarital affair. I enjoy movies, whether the actors and actresses have behaved their whole lives or not, same thing with musicians.
It's just that we are all sinners. Nobody understands that better than evangelicals. That's why we are Christians because we all believe we need forgiveness.
BURNETT: So, there are some obviously in your community who feel differently than you. Bob Vander Plaats is one of them. He's another of the nation's top evangelical leaders. And he says if these affairs are true, the president must apologize to his wife and publicly to this country.
And here's how Bob put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB VANDER PLAATS, CEO, THE FAMILY LEADER: I believe if these affairs are true, he should own it, he should confess it, he should say I'm sorry. He should reach out to Melania and his family. He should also reach out to country and say he's sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Why is he wrong about the public part of that? Reaching out to this country and saying I'm sorry?
FALWELL: I know Bob well, and I respect his opinion. Not all evangelicals agree. All evangelicals -- evangelicals are diverse in their opinions and I respect his opinion. I just don't happen to agree with it.
And I believe what Jesus said, that he is without sin cast the first stone. I believe he said judge not, Jesus said judge not lest you be judged.
And I think it's our job to look at where Donald Trump stands on the issues. The reason that evangelicals supported him is because they wanted to see some of the 70,000 factories that we lost because Clinton signed NAFTA come back to this country, some of the jobs comes back, fair trade agreements, national security. North Korea is coming to the table now because of President Trump's toughness.
BURNETT: Yes. FALWELL: And, you know, I can -- I was born in 1962. As I think back over my life, there's probably only one president who was above reproach, both professionally and personally, and that was Jimmy Carter. And he happens to be our commencement speaker in May here at Liberty University.
BURNETT: That's interesting.
FALWELL: But I don't agree with him on hardly any political -- I don't agree with him on hardly any political issues.
BURNETT: Not, but you point out his moral -- you know, the moral, I mean, obviously, he's famous for saying, right, I have sinned in the heart, right, admitting that publicly even though he says he never acted on it, but he still felt that it was worthwhile to admit that.
FALWELL: That's exactly what Jesus said.
BURNETT: I want to play something that's maybe a lit hard to hear, Jerry, but Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal have both shared some frankly eerily similar stories about how the president downplayed his marriage during their alleged affairs and compared them to his daughter. Let me just play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE: We passed a room, and he said, this is Melania's room, she likes to have her alone time or get away to read or something like that.
STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: He brushes it aside, you know, don't worry about that, we don't even -- we have separate rooms and stuff.
MCDOUGAL: He's very proud of Ivanka, as he should be. I mean, she's a brilliant woman. He said I was beautiful like her, and, you know, you're smart girl.
DANIELS: He said, wow, you -- you are special. You remind of my daughter. You know, he's like, you're smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, look, that's unpleasant to hear. But it doesn't give you any pause when you think about these women having the same stories and saying these things about the president about his behavior?
FALWELL: When "Access Hollywood" video came out, I was one of the few who said I believe Donald Trump was different person than he was in 2005 when that happened. And I really do believe that. I think he's had a change of heart. I think he's changed in the positive way.
I don't think there is any chance of anything like this happening in the White House like Bill Clinton was accused of or John Kennedy was accused of.
BURNETT: Would that be a red line if it did, if word came out that it did, is that what would change it for you or no?
FALWELL: I think it's different while you are in the White House, because it puts you in a position where you could be blackmailed on policy or other things. And I don't know what the law is on that, but I am an attorney, but I don't know in that specific point. But I do think it is a little different.
Whether it'd be a line for me or not, you know, I still go back to the issues. I think just like with Bill Clinton, many of his supporters stuck with him no matter what he was accused of, even rape, I believe he was accused of. And it's -- you know, it's a hypothetical question, so I can't really answer it.
BURNETT: But hypothetically you would be okay with even that, is that what you are opening the door to, rape?
FALWELL: No, no. I'm just saying I have to wait and see the circumstances to make that judgment.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Jerry, I appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on, as always.
FALWELL: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: And next, protests heating up tonight in Sacramento, on the eve of Stephon Clark's funeral.
[19:50:02] Why is the White House calling his death at the hands of police a, quote, local matter.
And this side up, why some politicians can't seem to get technology right.
BURNETT: Breaking news, protesters out tonight demanding more answers over the shooting death of Stephon Clark. Two Sacramento police officers fired 20 shots of him claiming he pointed a gun at them. He had a cell phone.
Tonight, the White House weighed in on the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You have the issue we're in the midst of an issue that happened shooting of young man in California, behind his grandmother's house with a cellphone.
SANDERS: Certainly, a terrible incident. This is something that is a local matter and that's something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: As the city prepares for Clark's funeral tomorrow, protesters are gathering right now marching through the streets of Sacramento where our Dan Simon is with them.
And, Dan, hundreds expected to attend Clark's funeral tomorrow. What are you learning tonight?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Erin. First of all, we are with these protesters. I would say there are several dozen of them. We are walking the streets of downtown Sacramento. And I've been here for the past week, Erin, and the anger is definitely not dissipating, if anything, it's become even more intense.
Tomorrow, there will be the memorial service for Stephon Clark, and they're expecting as many as 500 people to attend, Erin. It will be a public service and Reverend Al Sharpton is going to be doing the eulogy.
The question is, what happens tomorrow night? We know that another protest is expected tomorrow afternoon, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dan Simon. And we'll be talking to you tomorrow as that memorial service happen.
And next, Jeanne Moos on politicians who struggle with the strangest things.
COOPER: Tonight, what happens when politicians meet technology? Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Should it worry us that President Trump's informal adviser on cybersecurity was nabbed wearing his air pod upside down?
And shouldn't the Republican strategist posing alongside Rudy Giuliani have told him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I have something in my teeth?
MOOS: With air pods in his ears, the photo went viral. Does Giuliani actually have his air pods pointing up? Better for getting the signal from Moscow?
This is the correct way to wear air pods but at least the former New York mayor didn't confuse an air pod for a blow-dryer. The red panda obviously missed Apple's launch.
TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: The future of wireless audio.
MOOS: Meets the presence of a 73-year-old politician.
Donald Trump Jr. was photoshopped perched on one of the pods. The mockery was merciless, it's shoved all the way through.
There were jokes about maybe he forgot to take out Q tips or maybe saving cigarettes for later.
But Giuliani wasn't blowing smoke. He told "The New York Post" he had no idea he was wearing the air pods wrong. Sometimes I wear them with a thing pointing up. Sometimes I wear them with the thing pointed down
Every day items can challenge politicians. From Mitt Romney, ironing himself -- to Hillary swiping her metro card five times, only to have "SNL" reenact the snafu.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going the old fashion way. I'll take a cab.
MOOS: And remember when George W. Bush found himself practically shrink wrapped in a poncho.
ELLEN DEGENERES, TV HOST: Is that the first time?
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Yes.
DEGENERES: First time putting a poncho?
BUSH: It looks like it.
MOOS: Ellen got him a new one with the presidential seal.
DEGENERES: This end up --
MOOS: And for air pods, this end up. No wonder Rudy wore them wrong, his up is down.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: From the top to the bottom --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Oh, all right. Thanks for joining us. And don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time you want. You just have to go to CNNGo.
"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.