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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Washington Congressman Denny Heck; Stormy's Proof?; Russia Tensions; Police Release "Shocking" Video in Fatal Shooting of Suspect; Police Fire Police Officer Involved in Alton Sterling Shooting; Inside Secret Escape Plan if U.S. Nuclear Command is Attacked. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 30, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The Kremlin accuses the U.S. of trying to turn Russian diplomats into double agents, even as they're being forced to leave the country. Tensions between Moscow and Russia soaring, as Vladimir Putin throws a provocative new missile launch into the mix.
Mountain of evidence. Stormy Daniels' lawyer insists he has some kind of proof to back up the porn star in her legal battle with the president. New questions tonight about whether Daniels would accept a payoff to resolve the dispute over hush money.
And Summer's burn. Another Trump accuser and former "Apprentice" contestant suffers a breakup with her lawyer. Why is high-profile attorney Gloria Allred leaving from Summer Zervos' case?
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 tonight, another Trump ally detained, questioned and subpoenaed in the special counsel's Russia investigation.
Ted Malloch says he was an informal adviser to the Trump campaign. Now he's a witness in Robert Mueller's probe with a date to appear before a federal grand jury. Stand by for details.
And reaction from House Intelligence Committee member Heck.
Our correspondents and analysts, they are all standing by.
First, let's go to our political correspondent Sara Murray.
Sara, what are you learning about Malloch and what investigators want to learn from him?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Ted Malloch says that he was stopped when he was returning from an international flight passing through Boston by the FBI. He says they detained him and they questioned him about Roger Stone,
who was of course a close Trump confidant, as well as about WikiLeaks. He professes to be largely confused about why he would be stopped. This is a person who has been an ally of President Trump's on the right and been very vocal in his support.
Here is what Malloch said in a statement today. He said: "What could they want from me, a policy wonk and philosophical defender of Trump? I am not an operative, have no Russian contacts and aside from appearing on air and in print often to defend and congratulate the president have done nothing wrong."
Now, it's worth noting that Malloch wrote a book alleging that the deep state was essentially out to get President Trump and that they fabricated the dossier of negative information about him in order to create this entire investigation into Russia.
BLITZER: He says he and his wife landed at Austin's Logan International Airport and he was removed, taken into a private room by the FBI. They questioned him for an hour. They wanted his computers. He didn't have one, but they took his cell phone. Right?
MURRAY: Right. This is a pretty aggressive tactic. And we've seen it before from Mueller's team, to stop someone at the airport, to detain them and to question them and essentially to take an image of their cell phone.
This is the kind of thing you would do if you are worried someone might be destroying information after their first contact with you or if really worried they are just not going to hand over all the information.
But for someone who proclaims he doesn't know anything, as Ted Malloch does in this statement, it's certainly an aggressive tactic that we're seeing by Mueller's team.
BLITZER: It's not the first time Mueller's investigators, FBI agents, among others, have stopped someone upon arrival back in the United States from overseas.
MURRAY: That's right.
For instance, we saw this with George Nader, who is now cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation, and who is providing different information about, for instance, meetings between members of the Trump campaign at that point, in the Trump transition, as well as from the United Arab Emirates.
This certainly seems to be a tactic that Mueller's team wants to take, especially if they are concerned you are going to I think destroy information, if they want to send a very clear signal they are very serious about talking to you.
BLITZER: He says, Malloch, he really doesn't have anything to offer. But clearly Mueller's team thinks he does.
And that is the reason that you would take a tactic like this. This one is a little bit perplexing, because, as I said, this is a person who has been on the right wing, who has been a vocal supporter of Trump. But I talked to a couple of campaign aides earlier today who said they don't really remember him being around.
He is also an ally of Nigel Farage, who we do know the president turned to at a number of points during the campaign for advice, four counsel. And obviously Farage he is a right-wing leader in the U.K.
And so that could be another connection here. But we don't just know exactly what Mueller's interest would be in this figure. And it's worth noting that the special counsel's office declined to comment on this particular --
BLITZER: It's also interesting. At the end of an hour of questioning at Boston's Logan International Airport, they give him a subpoena to appear here in Washington before a federal grand jury in two weeks.
MURRAY: That's right.
And that means obviously they want to get more information out of him. And, again, we just don't know where this kind of person fits into the puzzle. The fact that he was stopped at the airport, that he was questioned, that his phone was imaged, that he was then told here is your subpoena, we need you to appear in front of the grand jury obviously sends the signal that Mueller's team believes he could be an important witness to something.
To what, we just don't know.
BLITZER: On another issue, there's a hacker, a Russian hacker who has now been extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic. He appeared in federal court. What do we know about this?
MURRAY: That's right.
Add this to kind of yet another mysterious Russian figure that we're dealing with. This one is Yevgeniy Nikulin. He's been accused of stealing 117 million LinkedIn passwords in 2012. He was originally arrested in Prague in the Czech Republic.
The United States made it clear, we want him extradited to the United States and we want him charged here. As soon as the United States became interested, all of a sudden Russia also became interested in this gentleman. They said they had their own charges. They wanted him sent to Russia, not to the United States.
It set up this sort of diplomatic struggle between the two countries. Ultimately, he was extradited to the United States. As you said, he appeared in federal court in San Francisco today. And the FBI did put out a statement and part of said they will not allow international cyber-criminals to operate with immunity. BLITZER: He is in custody right now here in the United States.
We will have much more on this, all the late-breaking details. Sara, thanks very much for that report.
Let's go to the White House and new confusion tonight about President Trump's foreign policy that could benefit potentially Russia, even as Vladimir Putin launches a powerful new missile and flexes his muscle.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with the president, and he's joining us from West Palm Beach in Florida.
Jim, the president spoke publicly about Syria and he actually threw his staff a curveball.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A big curveball, Wolf.
That's right. While President Trump was out on the golf course today, he was creating confusion inside his administration over the U.S. policy on Syria. Aides to the president are trying to determine what the president meant when he said he wants to pull out of Syria very soon. This president also said, in the past, he doesn't like to telegraph his moves.
He may be doing just that on Syria.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump was laying low in Mar-a-Lago, playing golf, while, back in Washington, senior administration officials are scratching their heads over this comment Mr. Trump made in Ohio about Syria.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're knocking the hell out of ISIS. We will be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon. We're coming out.
ACOSTA: As one senior administration official put it, "We are still trying to figure out what he meant about Syria."
The president made the remark as fighting continues in Syria. On the same day as Mr. Trump's speech, two coalition soldiers, one American and one British, on a counter-ISIS operation in Syria were killed when their vehicle hit an IED. The president's comments on Syria are also contrary to what he's insisted in the past, that he doesn't telegraph his moves.
TRUMP: I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don't want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is. But let me tell you, this is what Obama does. We are going to leave Iraq on a certain day.
ACOSTA: The president has also been a tough critic of his predecessors in the Middle East, knocking George W. Bush for invading Iraq.
TRUMP: Everything that is happening started with stupidly going into the war in Iraq. Now, Iraq, we have, and people talk about me with the button. I'm the one that doesn't want to do this. OK?
ACOSTA: And slamming Barack Obama for leaving Iraq too soon, leaving the vacuum that led to the creation of ISIS.
TRUMP: He is the founder of ISIS. He's the founder of ISIS. He's the founder. He founded ISIS.
ACOSTA: A sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria may not only embolden ISIS. It could strengthen the hand of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long supported Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Putin is doing some saber-rattling this week, boasting about a new nuclear weapons system that is capable of evading any kind of missile defense, and striking targets in the U.S. like Florida, where the president is on vacation.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This new system has virtually no limitations on distance. And as you can see from the video, it is capable of attacking targets via both the North and South Pole.
ACOSTA: Russia's ambassador to the U.S., meanwhile, is defending Moscow's decision to expel U.S. diplomats in response to the Trump administration's announced diplomatic expulsions earlier in the week.
ANATOLY ANTONOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: If anybody slap your cheek, your face, what will be reaction from your side? You will think, not you will think, you will try to do and you will retaliate. It goes without saying.
ACOSTA: All that as the White House is grappling with more drama in the Cabinet. This time, it's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is facing accusations of taking a security detail with him on personal trips to Disneyland and college football's Rose Bowl game.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse complained in a letter: "Significant agency resources are being devoted to Administrator Pruitt's round-the-clock-security even when he's traveling on nonofficial business."
That follows the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who is accused of wasting taxpayer money as well.
DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Shortly before the president tweeted chief of staff, gave me a call just to let me know and gave me a heads-up.
QUESTION: So, you were -- Kelly told you, and then you found out by tweet?
ACOSTA: Shulkin was hardly given the same send-off as former Communications Director Hope Hicks that came complete with flattering photos of Hicks in her office snapped by "The New York Times."
ACOSTA: And the White House is bracing for another staff shakeup on the president's national security team this time, with new National Security Adviser John Bolton taking over and expected to bring on his own people.
Wolf, one official told us earlier today, it's anybody's guess just how many staffers will be out of a job. There's a possibility, Wolf, we will see another staff shakeup this time in the national security office. That would just follow what we have seen time and again over the last several weeks. Almost every part of this administration is experiencing some sort of staff shakeup from one point to another, Wolf.
BLITZER: Clearly more to come. Jim Acosta, thanks very much for that report.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. DENNY HECK (D), WASHINGTON: You're welcome.
BLITZER: How significant is this Trump campaign ally Ted Malloch's role in this investigation?
HECK: Well, what I would say about the last several days or couple of weeks on the whole Mueller investigation is that we appear to be getting closer and closer.
Bob Mueller appears to be closing in on this. It no longer is the case where all we are talking about are the financial improprieties and the money laundering allegations against Paul Manafort. We now have, count them, three individuals who were campaign aides to then candidate Trump, Mr. Papadopoulos, General Flynn and Rick Gates, each of whom have reached plea bargain deals.
And you have got to believe they are singing like birds. And even since then, of course, we have had the George Nader development and now the Ted Malloch development.
The bottom line is, it appears and feels as though Bob Mueller is closing in on the central element here --
BLITZER: Of this collusion.
HECK: -- which is on the issue of coordination and collusion, no longer just money laundering, but the issue of collusion and coordination with Russians or Russian national cutouts on the matter of interference in the 2016 election.
BLITZER: In his statement, Malloch implied that the FBI detained him for defending President Trump. He's writing a book accusing what he calls the so-called deep state of making up this Russia dossier to destroy Donald Trump.
What do you make of that?
HECK: He's a Roger Stone acolyte. Of course, he's going to say anything he can to help sell his book. Nothing he would say would surprise me. And I wouldn't receive it with much credibility whatsoever.
He is a propaganda machine and, frankly, every word that comes out of his mouth is propaganda.
BLITZER: The fact that they questioned him for an hour at Boston's Logan International Airport, the FBI, they took, confiscated his cell phone, they want to go through it clearly, his documents, and now -- and at the end, they gave him a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury here in Washington in two weeks.
What does that say to you?
HECK: Well, I think the more interesting part there isn't the subpoena. It's that they had legal access to his cell phone.
You have to believe there was a legal predicate that enabled them to do that. And with Bob Mueller, the only conclusion you can make is, he was after something and he knew what he was after. But, of course, we won't know for some time.
BLITZER: Did your committee know about this guy and any role he may have had?
HECK: We don't reveal what goes on within the committee and the deliberations associated with the Mueller investigation, the closure of which is pending, as we all now know through open sources, but we don't talk about that.
BLITZER: Well, can you at least tell us if you were surprised when you heard about these developments that he was detained in Boston?
HECK: Yes, I was.
BLITZER: You were surprised. All right, that's interesting in and of itself.
And you suspect collusion was the suspect, alleged collusion was the subject that the FBI was really interested in, the FBI agents working with Mueller's team, as opposed to money laundering or other issues?
HECK: I do.
And as I have said to you before on your program, Wolf, I don't think this is a case of alleged collusion. I think collusion has been hiding in plain sight. I don't think it's even debatable.
How else can you describe the infamous meeting in Trump Tower? How else can you describe the contacts and communication between Trump campaign operatives and WikiLeaks? That is collusion. That is a textbook definition of collusion.
BLITZER: In contrast, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and other Republican members, they say in the 14 months or so they have been looking into all of this, they concluded they saw no evidence of conclusion. To them, you say?
HECK: Well, Wolf, here was their methodology for making that conclusion.
When people came before the committee, they would ask them, did you engage in collusion, conspiracy and coordination? Did you observe collusion, coordination, conspiracy? And when they said, oh, no, I never did that, they said, oh, OK, we believe you.
That's no way to conduct an investigation. If we were serious about this, we would proceed with what Ranking Member Schiff has requested, which is subpoenaing the documents that are associated and that could prove or disprove the assertions by some of these people.
Having additional witnesses back in that we have not yet had an opportunity to interview, that would be a serious interview. Simply asking somebody who is, as it were, a person of interest if they were intent or guilty, and when they say innocent, you take them at their word, that does not constitute an investigation.
BLITZER: Well, Devin Nunes, the chairman, has wrapped up your committee's work. So, none of that presumably is going to happen.
Let's get to another sensitive issue, Congressman, while I have you. Do you believe this extradited Russian hacker, Yevgeniy Nikulin, extradited from the Czech Republic to the United States in recent days could have information on Russia's role in the 2016 election and do you want to hear from him as well?
HECK: So, if there is any possibility that he does have that information, then it is worth pursuing.
But I want to be very clear about this, Wolf. Bob Mueller indicted 13 Russian hackers. And insofar as that went, good and fine.
But let's be very clear about this. That's a bunch of 23-year-old kids operating in a windowless room doing harm to America during its 2016 election.
The real -- the central question here is, how is it that we change Russia's behavior? Because, since the 2016 election, they have not abated. They interfered in France. They interfered in Germany. As we speak, Wolf, they are interfering in Mexico. If we really want
to change Russia's behavior, then what we have to do is levy the sanctions that Congress adopted on a aggregated vote of 517-5 last summer against the oligarchs. That's where you put the squeeze on them.
You make it hurt his oligarch friends. You freeze their assets. You prohibit them traveling in the U.S. You prohibit them accessing certain banking services around the world. You get them feeling the pinch, going to Vladimir Putin and saying, there's got to be another way, because this is costing us a lot of money. That's the course we ought to take.
BLITZER: Congressman Denny Heck, thanks so much for joining us.
HECK: You're welcome, sir.
BLITZER: Just ahead, after the U.S. gives Russian diplomats the boot, Moscow accuses the Trump administration of trying to turn them against the Kremlin. We are going to have a live report. We're going to Moscow.
And when will Stormy Daniels' lawyer reveal what he describes as secret evidence he's been hinting about all week? We are going to hear from him, as another attorney calls it quits, parting ways with Trump accuser Summer Zervos.
BLITZER: Tonight, the Kremlin is accusing U.S. intelligence services of trying to recruit Russian diplomats who were expelled from the United States as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy.
It's adding to rising tensions between the Putin and Trump governments.
Let's go to CNN's Phil Black. He's joins us live from Moscow.
Phil, a rather provocative statement today from Russia's foreign minister.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf.
This comes as many of the expelled Russian diplomats today were flown out of the United States. This extraordinary statement attacks U.S. intelligence agencies. It accuses them of making feverish attempts to contact and meet Russian diplomats in the United States.
And it says it offers to help them in return for what it describes as -- quote -- "covert relationships of mutual benefit." That's diplomatic speak for, America is trying to turn our own people and recruit them to work as spies against us.
Now, Russia says, this isn't working, and it describes this alleged behavior as distasteful and cynical and beyond common decency -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Phil, Moscow is also continuing to retaliate against companies that ousted Russian diplomats. Give us the latest.
BLACK: Yes, we have seen a steady stream of foreign ambassadors and senior diplomats marching into the Foreign Ministry building here in Moscow today.
In all, including the U.S., 25 countries have now been told they will have to lose some of their personnel from Russia. It's mostly European countries, but you have also got Canada, Australia and the U.S. As I say, these are all countries that stood with Britain and announced earlier in the week they would be expelling diplomats and suspected spies.
They will now have to lose the same number of people from Russia. Russia is taking action against all of them, but it clearly holds two countries responsible for, it says, leading this, really, the United Kingdom and the United States.
It's accused them of bullying friends and allies to jump on board and expel Russian diplomats. And it's threatened to take further action against the U.S. and the U.K. if it believes that is it's appropriate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Phil Black in Moscow for us -- Phil, thank you.
Just ahead: What is Stormy Daniels' lawyer holding back? He's talking to CNN about the mountain of evidence he claims he has. But when will Americans get to see that evidence?
And we are also hearing conflicting stories tonight about why former "Apprentice" contestant and Trump accuser Summer Zervos has parted ways with her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
BLITZER: New tonight, a prominent lawyer is leading the case of one of President Trump's accusers, former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, this as Stormy Daniels' lawyer is digging in, telling CNN that he has a -- quote -- "mountain of evidence" against the president and his attorney.
We are joined now by CNN's national correspondent, Athena Jones.
Athena, we are seeing a lot of Stormy Daniels and her lawyer.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
That's right. And we're going to see -- or some people are going to see a lot more of Stormy Daniels this weekend. She is in the midst of a three-day run at a strip club in Tennessee, revealing all for patrons paying $30 and up. Meanwhile, her lawyer is being pressed to reveal a lot more about just
what evidence she has to back up her claims about an alleged affair with Donald Trump.
JONES (voice-over): Stormy Daniels set for a weekend of stripping in Nashville, performing as "The Porn Star That Trumps Them All."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're expecting a really good show.
[18:30:11] JONES: As her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, faces questions about when he'll reveal proof of the affair Daniels says she had with President Donald Trump in 2006. And why he has yet to explain this tweet with a picture of a DVD and the caption, "If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is this worth?"
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Tell us right now what's on that DVD.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: Well, I'm not going to do that. I know that everyone wants that. We're in a society where everybody wants immediate gratification. We've got a lawsuit to try.
CAMEROTA: I guess the point is what's your evidence? What's your evidence that there was an affair?
AVENATTI: We've got a mountain of evidence.
CAMEROTA: Such as?
AVENATTI: I'm not going to lay out all of our evidence.
JONES: But Daniels is suing to be released from what she argues is an invalid hush agreement, invalid because Trump did not sign it. Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he paid Daniels $130,000 as part of that deal.
Avenatti was asked today how much money it would take for Daniels to settle the lawsuit.
AVENATTI: I don't think there's a number. I really don't. I mean, that's not what this is about.
JONES: Avenatti maintains a federal judge is ruling Thursday, denying his motion to question Trump and Cohen under oath isn't a setback.
AVENATTI: Well, I don't really classify it as a setback. I mean, it's a temporary denial. We're going to refile the motion. It's a procedural ruling.
JONES: David Schwartz, Cohen's spokesman, an attorney in another matter, is praising the judge's decision.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, SPOKESMAN FOR MICHAEL COHEN: I'm not surprised in the least bit. I said from the moment that the motion was filed that it was frivolous, it was untimely. And the judge made the proper decision.
JONES: Schwartz called the hush agreement rock solid and continued to argue that it is valid, even though Trump didn't sign it.
SCHWARTZ: The president is a third-party beneficiary to this agreement. It's been said all along --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile, a legal shake-up in the case of former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, who is accusing Trump of defamation for denying her claims he sexually assaulted her in 2007.
Zervos losing her high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred. Allred, who frequently represents women in similar cases saying in a statement, "Our withdrawal has nothing to do with the merits of her case against President Trump. We will have no comment regarding the reasons for our firm's withdrawal. We continue to wish Summer the very best in her pursuit of justice."
[17:25:10] Zervos says she's parting ways with Allred for personal reasons.
"I decided to part ways with Gloria Allred purely for personal reasons, having nothing to do with her work as my attorney. I look forward to having my day in court with my current legal team."
JONES: And Zervos says she's not going to comment further on this case.
And back to Daniels for a moment. We've been talking about how much her lawyer has been working to keep the story in this headlines. Well, today he made clear that even if the president apologizes to his client, they are not going away. He said, "We want the truth from Mr. Cohen, and we want the truth from Mr. Trump. And it doesn't matter if it's next week, next month, next year or next decade, we are not going anywhere" -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Athena, thank you. Athena Jones reporting.
Let's get to our analysts. And Jeffrey Toobin, what do you make of, first of all, the discrepancy in the statements between Gloria Allred and Summer Zervos?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm going to say the words you're not supposed to say on cable news which are, "I don't know." I really just don't know what the nature of the fight is.
What we do know is that it was a pretty frosty parting. Gloria Allred said she withdrew. Zervos said she -- she's the one who ended the relationship. But I think the point here is that her lawsuit is -- will proceed in New York. They won their first motion. This is the case that, at the moment, has the best chance of getting Donald Trump to have to undergo a deposition. So, you know, she does have a team of lawyers. It's not like Donald
Trump who can't find lawyers. This case will proceed, but just with somewhat less celebrated, though highly competent lawyers.
BLITZER: Sara, how do you see it, the impact, potentially, on the suit and the president?
MURRAY: Well, if things keep proceeding as Jeffrey Toobin just pointed out and if the case still moves forward and there's no other sort of turnover with her legal team, I think this kind of remains the same concern with the president.
You know, this is all playing out against a president who is about to have to defend his party's majority in 2018. And you don't want to be in a weakened position. You don't want to be having to face allegations from these women and defending your record while you're in office and trying to govern the United States of America all at the same time.
And I think it is pretty incredible that the president has been so quiet about this, to this point. And I think that speaks to how seriously he must be taking these allegations and, frankly, how concerned he might be.
BLITZER: Unusual for him to be silent in the face of this assault. But I'm sure all if his lawyers are telling him, "Don't say anything, at least right now."
Laura, is the Stormy -- Stormy Daniels hush agreement rock solid, as Michael Cohen's lawyer, David Schwartz, insists?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think there's anything about this case that's rock solid or simple. But one thing that just never has made any sense to me is why Cohen doesn't just go ahead and release her from this NDA, this nondisclosure agreement. If it's such a distraction for everyone, you would think that that would at least resolve that portion of the case and make that part of her lawsuit drop out.
[17:35:15] Obviously, the defamation claim would go forward and whatever happened with campaign donations, that's still an issue for the FEC and the Justice Department. But you would think at least that portion could be resolved. She's already told her story. Everyone's made up their mind about whether they believe her or not.
BLITZER: I'm always anxious, Phil, to get your thoughts.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM: I agree with Laura. I don't understand what the big deal is here. We know he was in the room, and she spanked him with the newspaper. We know she stripped for him. We know she saw him in a state of undress or he didn't use protection in a sexual event.
BLITZER: Those are her allegations.
MUDD: Those are her allegations. But what I'm saying is, if you look at the history of the president, we have 15 -- what do we have, 18, 19 allegations from women, including some that are receiving legal judgments and moving forward in the sort of legal argument phase. What's the -- what's the secret here? Why are you allowing this to
have the front page news by continuing to have lawyers for the women get on TV and say, "We're still fighting this in court"? Why don't you just say, "Go ahead, tell your story?" What are the -- what are the secrets out there?
TOOBIN: If I can offer a possible answer to that, I mean, Laura raises a great point, which is, like, what are they fighting about? Why not -- she's already told the story. Why not just continue to let her tell the story?
The question raises the issue of are there other women out there with nondisclosure agreements? And if the Trump team, Michael Cohen and company were to say, "We don't care about nondisclosure agreements anymore," that could open the flood gates to other women talking. And that's something that -- that the president and his allies would probably not want to have happen.
BLITZER: Yes. There's no chance that they're going to say, "We're going to forget about all these nondisclosure agreements," right, Jeffrey? They're not going to say that.
TOOBIN: Well, they're not going to say that. And also, I mean, in fairness to Trump, they paid all this money to Stormy Daniels and to Karen McDougal for their silence. This was a contract. No one forced them to take this money. They took the money, and they agreed to be silent.
So the idea that they are somehow persecuted and this is some terrible thing that's happened to them, I mean, that's not necessarily the case.
BLITZER: Well, let me -- let me ask you this. Because Stormy Daniels got $130,000 in this hush agreement from Michael Cohen, the president's long-time friend, fixer, personal friend. Karen McDougal, the former Playmate, she got $150,000 from American Media, the company that owns "The National Enquirer." So what's the difference?
TOOBIN: The difference is that -- the question is who has the remedy against them? If it's a violation, who gets to get damages from them? In the Stormy Daniels case, it's the entity that Michael Cohen created, this E.C. That's -- that's the one that has the right to, you know, to a legal judgment against her.
What's so peculiar about the McDougal situation is that the party in the contract is "The National Enquirer," and "The National Enquirer" is saying, "Go ahead and talk."
So I really just don't understand what that lawsuit is about. The Stormy Daniels situation is considerably different, and there is a real controversy there.
BLITZER: Everybody, I need everybody to stand by. We're getting some very dramatic video coming in from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Alton Sterling shooting. We're going to have that and much more news right after this. ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[18:43:26] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We have breaking news coming into "THE SITUATION ROOM." Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have just announced the firing of a white police officer who shot and killed a black suspect named Alton Sterling.
They also released video of the incident from an officers' body cameras. Our Nick Valencia is standing by in Baton Rouge. He's been covering the news conference, all of the story.
Nick, stand by. I first want to show the viewers one of the body camera videos that shows officers approaching Sterling, the struggle to get him to put his hands on a car and the shooting. And we want to show you the whole video, even though it is graphic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, ma'am. Can you put your hands on the car? Stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands on the car, bro. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands on the car. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground! (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
[18:45:00] ALTON STERLING, SHOT BY POLICE: I didn't do nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots fired (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both officers OK. Suspect down. I need EMS code 3.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Hold on. Stop. Everybody stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go to Nick Valencia. He's in Baton Rouge for us. Very, very controversial. Bring our viewers up to speed on what just happened tonight.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police chief announcing at the press conference the video you watched was shocking to the conscience.
He went on to say Blane Salamoni, the officer who fired the fatal shots into Alton Sterling's torso and back would be terminated from the police department. And then he said Howie Lake, that second officer whose body camera that you just saw would be suspended three days unpaid administrative leave.
This decision announcement, Wolf, comes three days after the state attorney general declined to bring charges against the two officers, criminal charges and comes nearly a year after the U.S. Department of Justice declined civil rights charges. The officer -- the police chief just a short time ago said that he hopes this brings closure to Alton Sterling's family.
And there are certainly many people here wondering when they're going to see the rest of the videos. These are four videos that we're waiting for. We just got access to one. Three of them that are still being cleared. But people here saying they may very well protest tonight. We talked to activists earlier today and would like to see, with their own eyes, what is a captured on camera.
And I could tell you, Wolf, from seeing the video myself, the surveillance video from the store is very gory and it's been described to us as extremely graphic. It is, no doubt, that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Give us the background, Nick, why did police officers approach Alton Sterling to begin with?
VALENCIA: Well, initially, the reason was because there was a 911 call made by a homeless man who said that Alton Sterling was brandishing a gun. In fact, in the surveillance video, you can see Alton Sterling remove something from his pocket and wave it at the man who is alleged to have made the 911 call. We should remind our viewers that he was armed during this confrontation with the police. And after being fatally, Officer Howie Lake removing a revolver from the right front pocket of Alton Sterling -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Valencia, I want you to stand by. I want to get some analysis from our experts.
Phil Mudd, you're seeing the video, very disturbing video. What do you think?
MUDD: I mean, we have on additional piece of information, which is the police chief terminating the officer. We know earlier the Department of Justice declined charges.
The White House said these are local issues. I disagree. A real president would ask two questions, one local and one national. The local question is, if the police chief decided to terminate the officer for cause, how is it that the Justice Department declined to bring charges? Why was he fired?
There is a bigger question the White House should be involved in and that is, we have an epidemic of shootings of unarmed black kids and men in this country. Why is it? The president should be convening police chiefs to say, is there something better we can do for our country and what should the White House be saying? This is not a local issue. It's a national issue.
BLITZER: Laura, you cover the Justice Department for us. What are they saying?
JARRETT: Well, it's interesting. You know, part of the issue here is that you watch the video and it's obviously extremely disturbing and violent. But the legal standard, at least, for federal prosecutors is not just whether the officers were reckless or negligent. They have to go into that situation knowing what they're doing is wrong and doing it anyway.
And the Justice Department sees these cases all the time and decides, you know what, I don't think we can get a jury to buy into this. They are going to have another one of these coming up pretty soon.
Eric Garner in New York is another just like this. The officer used a chokehold, has not been prosecuted at the state level. No word from the justice department. It is clearly an ongoing issues that no one seems to fully realize how to fix.
BLITZER: Well, Jeffrey Toobin, do you see a pattern?
TOOBIN: Well, these are very hard cases and they're very disturbing. But, you know, I think we need to, you know, talk about the facts.
You know, Eric Garner was unarmed. Michael Brown, outside St. Louis, was unarmed. This fellow was armed. He did have a gun. And that, you know, I think really changes things and I think makes the police judgment a little easier to defend.
I mean, you know, you hate to see situations like this, but, you know, the facts matter.
[18:50:03] And the fact he had a gun, he was brandishing it, he had it in his pocket during this confrontation, it certainly puts police behavior in a different perspective.
BLITZER: Does it make a difference that the gun was in his pocket as opposed to he was holding a gun? TOOBIN: You know, yes, it does. But the real issue is whether or
not, and he had a gun and that's he had a gun. And that's a very scary, dangerous situation for police officers. And I think that's going to figure heavily into the decision about whether to prosecute or not -- prosecute the officer, that is.
BLITZER: Yes, Sara, there's going to be reaction I assume from a lot of officials here in Washington today.
MURRAY: Well, presumably. And, you know, we'll see if the White House changes their tone now that he's been dismissed for cause. But it seems pretty clear that this is not a priority of this administration. We've seen the difference in tone when it comes to shooting like this, and I agree with Jeffrey Toobin that there's a difference when someone is armed and unarmed.
But, you know, the Obama administration obviously made this a priority under their Justice Department. There's no indication this is going to happen under the Trump administration.
And we should remind people that they don't view these things -- not everything like this to them is a local matter. This was.
Kate Steinle, when that happened, when she was killed by an undocumented immigrant, that wasn't local matter to the president. That shaped his immigration platform.
BLITZER: It certainly did and we're going to stay on top of this. There's a lot more coming in, everybody stick around.
Also, a CNN exclusive. We're going inside the U.S. nuclear command center for a test of a secret escape plan if the facility came under attack by Russia or North Korea.
[18:5:13] BLITZER: Tonight, Russia's nuclear threats are front and center with the test launch of a new missile that President Vladimir Putin calls unstoppable. It's more reason for the U.S. military to prepare for the worst case scenario of a nuclear attack.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr got an exclusive look at an escape plan in place if America's nuclear command center is ever targeted.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Russia aims a long range missile like the "Satan 2" it just tested or North Korea suddenly targeted the headquarters for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, top commanders would only have minutes to get to safety.
BRIGADIER GENERAL GREGORY BOWEN, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: If it fails, we will deliver a decisive response. That's what we do. We have to make sure we, as the United States, have the capability and we show the capability to our potential adversaries. STARR: A senior officer at U.S. Strategic Command with authority to
launch a counterattack, if ordered, would need to be able to escape a direct hit on the base and stay alive to advise the president.
It's a nightmare scenario that is regularly practiced by the top commander four-star general, John Hyten.
(on camera): That clock tells me you can always find the president of the United States.
GENERAL JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: Always know where the president is. In fact, the top screen on the left will actually list the location of the president, vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, attorney general, everybody that we would need.
STARR (voice-over): Then, there is the countdown clock. Safe escape time, the amount of time to get to the escape aircraft via a secret tunnel.
HYTEN: Out that door and there's actually a stairwell that goes up to the grass that comes outside the building. My security detail will have a car prepositioned. I run and jump in the car. The roads will open up on this base and I beeline straight for the runway, will jump right on the runway. I come out like from right under the airplane.
STARR: On board the E-6B airborne command post, Brigadier General Gregory Bowen shows us around.
BOWEN: We have a very small amount of time from when we get missile warning coming in to we have to have this jet off the ground and out of the area to survive.
STARR (on camera): You could, if it came to it, talk to President Trump from this point?
BOWEN: Yes. If it was the worst day in America's history and this was the only thing left, yes.
STARR (voice-over): From this panel, intercontinental ballistic missiles could be launched from their underground silos.
BOWEN: The keys go in here. Everything in the nuclear world is two- person control. Two people have to turn the keys. The other one is sitting behind you. And then I've got a switch here to actually enable the system.
STARR: And from here, using a classified antenna flying out the back of the plane, submarines hiding deep under the ocean's surface could also get direct orders to launch their missiles.
BOWEN: We can communicate with our subs 24/7, no matter where they are in the world.
STARR: With the nuclear arsenals of North Korea and Russia now a top worry. This is the center of military efforts to stay out of war. BOWEN: We have to make sure that we, as the United States, have the
capability and we show the capability to potential adversaries, that should they decide they want to strike us, the cost of doing that is going to be unbearable on their country. That's part of what this jet does. It is deterrence in its simplest form.
If you shoot at us, your country is going to go away. It's that simple.
STARR: This hole dates back, of course, to the Cold War with the Soviet Union. But even today, Wolf, this escape plan is practiced all the time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Barbara Starr, excellent report. Thank you very much.
That's it for me, thanks very much for watching. To all of our viewers, happy Passover, happy Easter.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.