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Former First Lady Barbara Bush in Failing Health; Trump Unleashes on Comey, Slams Book; Cohen and Daniels Due in Federal Court Tomorrow; Assad Meets With Russian Lawmakers in Damascus. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 15, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:08] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

So this just in to CNN, we're learning new details about the medical condition of former First Lady Barbara Bush. CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel joining me right now on the phone. So Jamie, what more do you know about the health condition of the former first lady?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, (via telephone): So, we unfortunately have some sad news to report, that 92-year-old former First Lady Barbara Bush is in failing health according to sources close to the Bush family. They've actually now put out a statement saying that she has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care. She is at home, at their home in Houston. Her husband, former President George H.W. Bush is with her as are her children, three of her children, Dora, Marvin and Neil, also her son, former President George W. Bush, and former Governor Jeb Bush has been in and out visiting this past week.

So just to give you some perspective, Fred, of what, I think, a lot of people have known, that her husband, who suffers from Parkinson's, has had a lot of health problems. What I think people were not so aware of is that a couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with COPD, and she's been battling that and congestive heart failure. She's been in and out of the hospital multiple times over the past year. She was in just last week.

But Barbara Bush is very private, and she does not like it when people make a fuss, and I know that the family had been trying to respect her wishes. That said, on Good Friday, she was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital suffering some shortness of breath. She was in the hospital for about a week. She was doing better. She was able to go home, but I'm told she started to fail again in the last number of few days.

And, this is not an easy time for the family. President -- former President Bush and Barbara Bush have been married for 73 years. I am told that he is by her side but that he is understandably very upset. It doesn't -- you know, they are 92 and 93, but there's never enough time. And so I think that this is very difficult for the whole family, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Very difficult for the entire family, understandably. You mentioned, you know, her congestive heart failure, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, COPD. In her recent hospital visit, primarily doctors were addressing those things, and she's now at this juncture where, according to that statement from the former president, it is her choice to be at home with family and to no longer receive the same kind of medical attention?

GANGEL (via telephone): Right. I think what happens with COPD, as we know, is you don't recover from it (INAUDIBLE). And with a congestive heart failure and being 92, this has just gotten worse and worse over the last year. If you see her in public, you might notice that she's been on oxygen for some time around the clock. And what happened was on Good Friday she was suffering from shortness of breath. And they took her in to the hospital. She was not put in the ICU, I'm told, and she was getting oxygen and medication to help deal with the shortness of breath.

She was in a fragile state, but I'm told that she turned around and she was doing better. And so they were able to release her this past week on Tuesday. But then the cycle started again, and I am told, you know, Barbara Bush and her family, her children called her the enforcer. She is very tough and very strong, and she said, I am not going back into the hospital. She just made that determination that she opted to be at home now.

[15:05:10] So they are now taking care of her at home, but her health is failing, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, they're respecting her wishes. Jamie Gangel, thank you so much. Keep us posted. Of course, all of our prayers are going out to Barbara Bush and the Bush family.

All right, quite a change now. Another major headline that we're watching today. President Trump unleashing on his former FBI director. He's waging a rhetorical war against James Comey on Twitter. This ahead of Comey's highly publicized book tour which essentially starts tonight with the start of a television interview, perhaps to upstage Comey's accounts?

In one tweet the president suggests Comey should be in jail, writing, "The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered, like how come he gave up classified information, jail? Why did he lie to Congress, jail? Why did the DNC refuse to give server to the FBI? Why didn't they take it, why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 and more?"

That's from the president of the United States. The president's press secretary was asked about those allegations a few hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the Justice Department being asked to investigate James Comey? SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware of anything asked of the Justice Department, but I do think if they feel there was any wrongdoing, they should certainly look into that just as they do on a number of other topics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House. So Boris, the president seems like he is trying to get ahead of that Comey interview airing tonight, but the likelihood the president will be watching the interview is what?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We don't really know yet. We don't often get confirmation from the White House about whether or not the president closely watches these interviews. For example, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes, we never really got firm confirmation whether he watched that or not.

But just by looking at his tweets this Sunday morning, you can tell the president is on the defensive and that he has been listening to some of the things that James Comey has been saying about him as he begins this media blitz promoting his book, one in which he says that the president is not tethered to the truth. The president taking exception specifically to one portion of Comey's account this morning. He writes about Comey's mindset right before the 2016 election when he talks about what was in his thoughts as he revealed to the world that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. The president writing in part in one tweet, and I quote, that Comey was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win and he wanted a job.

He then goes on to call the former FBI director a slime ball. There are a couple questionable aspects to this tweet, but I want you to listen to the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sort of defending this point of view before we get into that. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Look, it's been very clear that James Comey is a self- admitted leaker. He lied to Congress, he's been inconsistent constantly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he lie to Congress about?

SANDERS: Look, he said that he opened the Hillary Clinton investigation on its merits. Now we're finding out certainly that it had something to do with the political landscape. I find it outrageously unbelievable that Jim Comey, the man that takes these copious notes and recollects every detail of every conversation that he had can't remember why he would have specifically opened an investigation into a presidential candidate, particularly somebody he thought would become the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Now, Comey has made clear that that investigation was reopened because in October of 2016, there were previously undisclosed e-mails that the FBI discovered that were sent by Hillary Clinton, and so he felt that he needed to make that announcement. It's something that Clinton has acknowledged hurt her chances of winning the presidency, but yet the president and the press secretary here are charging that Comey did it for other reasons, but he can't remember the reasons he did it.

In fact, Comey says that he cannot remember whether he consciously thought about Clinton's poll numbers and her chances of winning when he ultimately made that decision. On a completely separate note, Fred, I have reached out to White House officials to ask if they are monitoring the news about former First Lady Barbara Bush. I have yet to get a response still, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, bring it to us when you have that. Appreciate it.

All right, still ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think is going to happen with Cohen? Do you think he might even be indicted?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER REPRESENTING STORMY DANIELS: Jake, I do. I strongly believe that within the next 90 days we're going to see an unsealing of an indictment against Mr. Cohen for a host of very serious offenses. And I believe, Jake, that is going to be a significant domino that's going to fall in connection with this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:10:05] WHITFIELD: A bombshell prediction from Stormy Daniels' lawyer. Against Mr. Cohen for a host of very serious offenses, and i believe, Jake, that is going to be a significant domino that's going to fall in connection with this.

A bombshell prediction from Stormy Daniels' lawyer. More of that interview, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen will be in federal court tomorrow attempting to block investigators from using evidence collected in raids last week. And now, we're learning that adult film actress Stormy Daniels will also be attending Cohen's hearing. Daniels and Cohen are battling over a non-disclosure agreement about an alleged affair that she had with President Trump back in 2006. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti spoke on CNN State of the Union this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[15:15:00] TAPPER: Let's start, Michael if we could with the bombshell news that the president's personal attorney Michael Cohen, who you're currently suing is now under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. What do you think is going to happen with Cohen? Do you think he might even be indicted?

AVENATTI: Jake, I do. I strongly believe that within the next 90 days we're going to see an unsealing of an indictment against Mr. Cohen for a host of very serious offenses. And I believe, Jake, that is going to be a significant domino that's going to fall in connection with this.

TAPPER: Do you have any specific examples of things Mr. Cohen has done that you or the U.S. Attorney's Office believe to be criminal?

AVENATTI: Well, i think there's a number of possibilities, Jake. I think he could be indicted for bank fraud, wire fraud, campaign finance violations. I think there's a whole host of potential criminal conduct that could be charged. You know, according to his attorneys, the FBI seized thousands, if not millions, of pages of documents in connection with the raids going back some 30 years. This guy is radioactive right now, and this is not going to end well, Jake.

TAPPER: Earlier today on the show, Senator Angus King, independent of Maine who's on the Senate Intelligence Committee said that Cohen seems to keep popping up whether it's with the Stormy Daniels hush money payment or with the Russia investigation. Do you know of anything that might link the two or anything Michael Cohen might have done involving Russia?

AVENATTI: Well, I'm not at liberty to get into a lot of those details, Jake, but, you know, suffice it to say as follows. On Friday, while we were all in court trying to deal with this TRO and the judge was asking questions of his counsel and the counsel unfortunately did not have answers to these simple questions, the judge was not happy about it, Michael Cohen was videotaped and photographed sitting with a number of men on the upper east side, I believe it was, and we believe a number of those actually have ties -- Russian ties, as crazy as that sounds.

So this story just gets more strange and more strange by the day. You can even make this up if you wanted to.

TAPPER: Do you -- can you shed any more light on what you just said? I mean, I saw a picture of one of the people he was sitting with and he has ties to one particular Russian, wealthy individual. What else are you talking about?

AVENATTI: Well, again, I don't want to say too much this morning. But you can't make this stuff up. I mean, I just -- I don't understand what he's doing, what Michael Cohen is doing with each passing day. This is getting worse and worse for him, and it's going to get worse and worse for the president.

TAPPER: President Trump's lawyers and Cohen, as you noted, went to court on Friday to try to prevent any of the material seized by investigators from being read, claiming attorney-client privilege. The U.S. Attorney's Office responded by saying that Cohen, has, quote, exceedingly few clients and a low volume of potentially privileged communications, end quote.

You're a lawyer, doesn't Michael Cohen have some sort of standing to make this claim of attorney-client privilege?

AVENATTI: Well, he has standing to make the claim, but if it's shown that these communications were not in furtherance of providing true legal advice or true services as a lawyer, they're going to blow a hole through the privilege big enough to drive a Mack truck through, Jake. And the fact that he's been called to court on 2:00 on Monday is also a problem. You know, as I stated on Friday, right after the judge made that order, we could see Michael Cohen plead the Fifth Amendment in open court on Friday depending on what questions are posed to him.

I'm going to be there at 2:00. I can announce that we got comfortable with a security plan last night for my client. She's going to attend at 2:00 on Monday. I think Monday afternoon could prove to be very interesting.

TAPPER: Stormy Daniels is going to be in court on Monday with Michael Cohen? Is that what you're saying?

AVENATTI: Yes, she will attend at 2:00 on in New York Monday.

TAPPER: Is that intended in any way to provoke him, to get into his head?

AVENATTI: No, not at all. It's intended to send the message that this is a very, very serious matter for her, and she wants to make sure that the American people know that she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents as possible. She also wants to ensure that she is heard and that she's represented at the hearing. It has nothing to do with getting in his head at all.

TAPPER: All right, Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels. Thank you so much for your time, sir. Appreciate it.

AVENATTI: Thanks for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk about all of this. Joining me right now is CNN Political Commentators Maria Cardona and Doug Heye. Maria is a Democratic strategist and Doug is Republican strategist and former communications director for the RNC.

All right, good to see you both. OK. So, no, this won't get into anybody's head. This is a going to be a (INAUDIBLE).

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: (INAUDIBLE) to do that as well.

WHITFIELD: Not at all. So, reportedly, you know, Doug, the president is far more concerned about this investigation than he is the Russia probe. Understandable given the relationship between he and Michael Cohen for many years.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, absolutely. When your lawyer has their office raided, that is as close to -- not to use the term we use in Syria, but that's as close to a red line as you can get.

[15:20:06] It's understandable that he would not only be only concerned about the broader investigation but that his own lawyer had his office raided. That's why a lot of people and several civilians we spoke to aren't necessarily Donald Trump fans wanted to learn more about exactly why this was done before they really commented on it.

WHITFIELD: Except that there's nothing to worry about then you wouldn't worry about it?

HEYE: Sure. But, you know, again, when your lawyer's office gets raided, that's a big deal. That's not simply, you know, calling somebody up a witness. It's not, you know, another subpoena to somebody else who could shed more light. That's your lawyer where attorney-client privilege is, you know, a sacred thing.

CARDONA: But, you know, to that point, I think that is why the people that were involved in this got -- and, you know, we've read about how many people had to approve this, how many people had to really look into the details because it is about a personal lawyer and attorney- client privilege and because it is held so sacrosanct. But also, I believe that they did a whole other level and layer of approvals because it was the lawyer of the president of the United States.

WHITFIELD: And partially provoked by the president on Air Force One, saying --

CARDONA: Yes, exactly, saying, I don't know, ask Michael Cohen. So that -- I mean, he kind of threw not just only Michael Cohen under the bus, but he kind of put a little bent into the whole, you know, privilege of the attorney-client privilege and the fact whether they could invoke it or not.

WHITFIELD: Right. Unclear whether the president will be watching tonight, you know, James Comey interview, but he will be (INAUDIBLE).

(INAUDIBLE)

WHITFIELD: You know, no comment I should say coming from the White House thus far. Yes, he'll be watching, yes, he'll going to be paying attention to 2:00 because Michael Avenatti kept reminding everybody, 2:00 tomorrow in federal court in New York. What might the president and his legal team really be listening for? They're cautioning themselves about this hearing.

HEYE: Well, it's not just legal team, it will be the political team as well. It's not just the president who will be watching, you know, everybody at the RNC Communications Department will not just be watching, they'll be working and they'll be sending out opposition sheets to what we see on T.V. tonight, obviously tomorrow as well.

And there are kind of two tracks here. There's the legal track which we don't still don't know a whole lot about, and there's the P.R. track which is -- which they have been -- Stormy Daniels' team has been incredibly effective on. If you look at Michael Avenatti's interview that you just showed, it was almost like professional wrestling about as farcical as this whole thing gets. He doesn't just say that they've got something that you should tune in on. It's Monday, 2:00 p.m., just like a whole (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: It's like Donald Trump as we saw that from the president on the campaign trail would dangle, just stay tune, watch --

CARDONA: Manipulating, you know, the media --

HEYE: Tune in tomorrow and we keep you --

CARDONA: -- and the audience, right. But I think it's important to note, and Jake actually asked this question to Michael Avenatti, what does one -- does one thing have to do with the other, in terms of, you know, the whole Stormy Daniels issue and the Russia investigation? Avenatti focused on, well, look at Michael Cohen, look who he is surrounding himself with. All of these folks have Russian connections. And we know that some of them do, but who knows how far that goes.

But there are other things, I do think, that connect them. Let's not forget that the day that the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, and we know that that was a big issue in the raid in terms of the things that the prosecutors were looking for, it came out and then an hour later, the -- it came out in the news that the DNC was hacked and then John Podesta's e-mails started getting leaked by WikiLeaks.

WHITFIELD: The correlation --

CARDONA: So, the correlation --

WHITFIELD: -- coincidence, timing.

CARDONA: -- you know, it seems a little iffy or --

HEYE: And politics are now (INAUDIBLE) a lot of coincidences, yes.

CARDONA: But there's one other thing. We've also heard that part of what Mueller is looking into is this whole issue whether Michael Cohen went to Prague or not, and he has denied it before. He showed a page of his passport which doesn't prove anything, and now they're looking into that. And I think that that -- those are really big issues that connect both of them, and that is why the stench of worry and desperation from this White House is palpable, and it's overwhelming.

WHITFIELD: The president today has spent a lot of time tweeting, really, about the James Comey interview tonight, the tell-all book that will be out on Tuesday but already excerpts have, you know, helped promote this book as not an already a best-seller before its official release. The president in his tweets also talked about -- or are making the inference that James Comey should have gone to jail.

Is this kind of a sign posting from the president that he's going to encourage the Department of Justice to open up an investigation of James Comey, his behavior as the FBI director, some of the admissions he makes of mistakes made, and some of his influences by the political landscape as to why he made certain things public?

HEYE: Yes, I don't think there's any question about that, and we know that Donald Trump is going to be as aggressive as -- on this as possible. As his own campaign team said repeatedly during the campaign, he's a counter-puncher. These are the most significant punches that he's facing. There certainly are some questions about what Comey has written, what some of his actions were. David Axelrod even said that the timing here is a little iffy at best. And his own admission that he made political decisions at the FBI, take some of Comey's arguments away.

[15:25:01] But this is going to be a full context forward, and this is what Trump excels at. The question is what is there that they may want to hide, if anything.

WHITFIELD: And now members of Congress want to put some protections in place to at least help protect Robert Mueller, maybe even something for Rod Rosenstein? Do you see that there could also be some protections for former FBI Director James Comey listening to the president's inferences of jail?

CARDONA: You know, those are really good questions. First of all, because on the Mueller piece, I think that if they do it, and I think they all should, both -- Democrats clearly want to put these protections into law, Republicans should, too, because as we come into midterm elections, there is a big question as to Republicans have not stood up and held this president to account, hardly at all. And very few have done so, and those few that have done so are not running for office. We'll see where Paul Ryan and the band on this. He said this morning that he thinks that James Comey is a man of great integrity. But we all know even that if both the Senate and the House pass a law that protects Mueller --

WHITFIELD: Who is going to sign it?

CARDONA: Trump's not going to sign it. He ain't going to sign it, but it's a big symbolism from the standpoint of everybody who is running for re-election in November.

But the second one is, I don't know that they legally pass protection for Rosenstein because he serves at the pleasure of the president because he is a political appointee which is important for people to remember he is a Republican, he is Trump's appointee. So for Trump to say that this is a witch hunt on all scores, it's just not credible.

WHITFIELD: And if he is fired or has to be replaced, there still has to be confirmation hearings before that person. And that person will be asked -- I mean, (INAUDIBLE) whether they're going to adhere to the letter of the law, protect the law, or whether they would be -- their allegiance would be to the president. HEYE: Sure. You know, there have been a lot of questions about whether or not Scott Pruitt would leave the EPA and if so, how hard that confirmation battle would be. That would be nothing compared to anybody who would potentially replace Rod Rosenstein or Jeff Sessions if that were to happen as well.

CARDONA: But I will say, let's be very clear. I believe, and I know a lot of Democrats believe this, and I think some Republicans, too, that if he does make the step of firing Rod Rosenstein, that will be as significant and as dire as if he were to fire Mueller, and it would cause a constitutional crisis.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it right there. Buckle your seat belts for another interesting week.

(INAUDIBLE)

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. Good to see you, Doug and Maria. Appreciate it.

All right, still ahead, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meeting with Russian lawmakers today. There are reports that he is in a good mood and even celebrating victory over rebels in the very town where the U.S. airstrikes took place.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:32:04] LIAM NEESON, NARRATOR: In August 1978, a new pope, John Paul I is elected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, the extraordinary turn of events, he has a massive heart attack and dies in his sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Paul I dies after 30 days. And you have to have another election immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cardinals saw the death of John Paul I as a message from God that maybe they needed to think a little bit more about unconventional way. Why elect a (INAUDIBLE) pope make this radical change with the past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that election brings forth Karol Wojtyla who becomes to be John Paul II.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C. And this just in. Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush, is in, quote, failing health and will not seek further medical treatment. That information from a statement from the office of the former president issued a short time ago.

At 92 years old, Mrs. Bush has been hospitalized multiple times in the last year. She is suffering from chronic Obstruct Active Pulmonary Disease, COPD and congestive heart failure. The statement says Mrs. Bush will instead focus on comfort care at home, adding, quoting now, it will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of here failing health, worrying not for herself, thanks to her abiding faith, but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving, end quote.

We'll have another live update at the top of the hour. Our prayers are going out to Barbara Bush.

Another big headline that we're following this hour. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad appearing defiant today while meeting with Russian lawmakers in Damascus there. According to one report, the Russian lawmakers described Assad as being in a good mood. The meeting follows missile strikes led by the United States, France and the United Kingdom against Syrian Government targets in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians last week.

And meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issuing a stern warning when asked if the U.S. would strike if Syria uses chemical weapons again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I don't think there's any way that I can answer that. I mean, we don't know what he's going to do with the level he's going to do or anything else. I will tell you that the president is watching and I think the national security team is ready. So basically, we will watch his actions. He now dictates his life and he dictates what happens between the United States, our allies and his regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: I want to bring in CNN Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott.

[15:35:01] So Elise, the Trump administration says it is preparing new sanctions on Russian, you know, as early as this week, but there is also criticism that the strikes didn't go far enough. So how is the White House or State Department, Haley handling all this?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what they're talking about is Russian companies that perhaps some export arms or helicopters to Syria. You saw one of those oligarchs last week. One of those companies was supplying those S-400 weapons to the Syrians.

But I think what Nikki Haley is saying is, you know, this attack, while it didn't, you know, completely degrade Assad's chemical weapons arsenal, it did make a dent. We're talking about a production facility, a research facility and it does set the -- and not only an airfield and it does set the program back. But she said, listen, we made clear the U.S. is not going to war, the U.S. is not trying to get Assad out of power. This wasn't about regime change, this wasn't about trying to overturn the civil war, and I think that was the message they sent to the Russians all along. And I think that's why you saw that there was not a big escalation.

That was really in the minds of the U.S. And Haley said, look, if Bashar al-Assad does -- do this again, the U.S. is ready to act on the problem is, Fred. That kind of gives him a long list of other weapons he can use to brutalize his people.

WHITFIELD: And so, it's expected after the strike, customarily after any kind of, you know, coalition-led strike, a unilateral, you know, strike, there is going to be the campaign war, the P.R. war. And we heard Nikki Haley who said, you know, locked and loaded. You know, this might be a deterrent, and now we see this new video of Bashar al- Assad who looks really confident, he looks cool, you know, he's with Russian lawmakers. And then yesterday we saw the video of him, you know, walking casually through the palace with a briefcase. So this campaign, this P.R. campaign, is it likely to escalate?

LABOTT: I don't think so. I think --

WHITFIELD: I mean, does it matter?

LABOTT: -- President Trump will probably see a couple of tweets, maybe, about that briefcase or the Russian meetings. But, look, Bashar al-Assad has every reason to be happy. He is winning the war. This was not an effort at regime change, as we've said, and he just really took the area that he launched those chemical weapons against.

I think what you're going to see is, this continue to drag on, and that's why there's going to be a concerted effort at a political transition, a real genuine effort to have a political solution here. The Russians are really going to be the onea in the driver's seat pushing Bashar al-Assad to the table, and that's why I think you heard this morning from members of Congress on the Sunday talk shows. Everyone wants to see a strategy for Syria. OK, you made your point with the attack on the chemical weapons use, but what is the U.S. strategy for Syria?

Just last week we know President Trump was talking about getting out of Syria. Now Bashar al-Assad is obviously proving stronger than ever, so what is his plan? And I think that's what you're going to want to hear from President Bush over the next week. Well, we'll have to see what he's come up with. Yes, and even --

WHITFIELD: Oh I know, because we're all thinking about -- of Barbara Bush today. So -- and perhaps if it's not a publicized strategy just publically knowing that there is a strategy, that too will reassure those critics.

LABOTT: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

All right, coming up, the president's personal lawyer and the adult film star he paid off face to face in federal court. We'll talk about what could happen as both Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels both attend a key hearing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:43:10] All right, welcome back. Tomorrow, the President Trump's personal lawyer and the porn star he allegedly had an affair with, the president that is, will both be in the same federal courtroom. Cohen is fighting to prevent prosecutors from using some of the evidence collected in raids of his office, hotel, and home last week. Cohen has been under a criminal investigation for months now in New York over his business dealings.

Stormy Daniels, who is suing Cohen for defamation, is choosing to attend tomorrow's hearing, according to her attorney, though her lawyer says it's not to rattle Cohen's cage.

Here with me now, Larry Noble, general counsel for a legal watchdog group and a former lawyer for the Federal Election Commission.

All right, Larry, good to see you. So, what is in store tomorrow? What is this about? Is this suppressing information that was collected from the raid? Is it making sure it doesn't go public? What?

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's about all these things. What Trump actually is involved with is what Michael Cohen did was, they filed a motion to try to suppress the information. They also want to be able to review what the Department of Justice has now, what the FBI has before any of it is given over. Cohen's team wants to review it claiming attorney-client privilege.

They asked for an extension on Friday and they got one today, because their lawyer -- Trump's new lawyer on this was not hired, I think, until Wednesday. And so now the judge, Judge Kimba Wood will decide tomorrow what can be released, what can be released by the FBI. What are the rights of Trump and Cohen are in this particular case.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. So they're even --relationship or the legal representation might also be challenged in terms of -- to the extent Michael Cohen is the attorney for the president?

[15:45:06] NOBLE: Right. There are certain attorney-client privileges. One of the basic principles for attorney-client privilege is you have to be the attorney for the person who's asserting it. So if Michael Cohen was not acting as President Trump's attorney in these situations, then they can't assert attorney-client privilege. So that is the one of the first things they're going to have to look at. And even beyond that, just the assertion of attorney-client privilege is not get out of giving documents over free card.

Then you have to look at whether it applies in a specific situation. Not all dealings with your attorney fall attorney-client privilege.

WHITFIELD: So this is information from a raid conducted by the FBI. There was approval of this raid from the Department of Justice. But now the Department of Justice can also play a role here in helping to argue or even protect, you know, that some of this information would be submissible. NOBLE: Right. Well, the Department of Justice obviously has the interest in supporting the FBI (INAUDIBLE) the FBI's lawyers on this. And -- but what can happen in a situation like this is a separate team can be assigned to review the documents, to decide which documents are --

WHITFIELD: A separate DOJ team.

NOBLE: A separate DOJ team. And they could also decide who should see certain documents. It is one of the fears, if there is attorney- client privilege, is you don't want it to taint other cases. It may be valid to look at for this particular case, but say the case of Cohen in paying the porn star, it may not be valid to look at certain documents in other cases. Likewise, if there's attorney-client privilege and nobody should be looking at it, this group would make sure that the FBI doesn't get to see it. they don't want to taint it.

WHITFIELD: So the president's tweet and his behavior certainly says that he's rather nervous or concerned about this investigation. Nervous and concerned about this probe. Might the president just pick up the phone and say to the attorney general, DOJ, these are my concerns. Make sure x, y, z does or doesn't happen?

NOBLE: Well, if I was advising the president which I'm not, I would say stay very far away from this because you're already looking at possible obstruction of justice charges. He does not want to be seen in any way at this point as far as I'm concerned as trying to dictate what happens from this point on.

Now, will he do it? Who knows? He may do it by tweet. He's already let it be known that he thinks that the attorney-client privilege applies in all these situations. But so far the Department of Justice has not been following what he's asked, and also keep in mind, this is different from the Mueller probe. This is out of the southern district of New York. It was referred by Mueller but it was not -- this probe is not actually one that Mueller is conducting.

WHITFIELD: All right, Larry Noble, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

NOBLE: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll be right back.

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[15:52:11] WHITFIELD: All right, tonight on CNN, the final episode of our six part original series, "American Dynasties: The Kennedys." It takes a look at the family's legacy. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA BARRY, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA MILLER CENTER: Jack and Jackie's daughter Caroline became the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: I'm also proud to carry forward my father's legacy of public service.

BARRY: You have Joseph Kennedy II, Bobby and Ethel's oldest son who served a number of terms in Congress, along with his cousin, Patrick. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was the lieutenant governor of Maryland. You have Christopher Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, launching his political career in Illinois.

TIM NAFTALI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HISTORY OF PUBLIC SERVICE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: It would not be possible to write a complete history of modern America without talking about the Kennedys and the contribution that they have made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining us right now, Eileen McNamara, she is the author of the new book, "Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World", and she joins us today from Boston. Good to see you.

EILEEN MACNAMARA, AUTHOR, "EUNICE: THE KENNEDY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Hi, good to see you as well.

WHITFIELD: Excellent. Thanks for being with us. So, as we see in this final episode of "The Kennedys", Bobby Kennedy's death was another tragic loss for both the family and the country. Was this a case that, you know, it changed the dynamics of the family?

MCNAMARA: Well, you're right that it certainly changed the dynamics of the country and of the 1968 presidential race. I think the dynamics of that family were always set by the boys and by the emphasis on the boys. The reason I wrote this book is because it's too easy to write women out of history and his sister Eunice, who was in France when her husband was the ambassador to France for the United States came back on the occasion of his assassination. But she was a huge part of that family, and she doesn't play a very big role in your series. I counted one sentence.

WHITFIELD: And, you know, the role of Eunice Kennedy, I mean, of so many women, women had a very dynamic role in this family, taking real leadership, you know, and directing the family, whether it be with service, whether it be faith, or whether it was, you know, holding the family together. How do you see that as being a really fantastic attribute of this family?

MCNAMARA: Well, I think most of the women had an ornamental role in that family, frankly. Yes, they had great faith and great fortitude. But Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a political actor in her own right. President Kennedy had no record when he was in the United States Senate or in the House on the issues that defined that family in many ways.

[15:55:05] The support for children with intellectual disabilities. There was no federal support for those children before the Kennedy administration. And it didn't happen because of Jack's commitment, it happened because of Eunice's commitment.

WHITFIELD: And what an incredible commitment and legacy. And what an incredible footprint she would leave on public service, particularly as it pertains, you know, the Special Olympics and, you know, paying attention to and taking considerations for people and young people with such challenges.

Eileen McNamara --

MCNAMARA: Well, we do remember her for that, we remember her for Special Olympics. But her legacy is actually much deeper and broader than that. A child with intellectual disabilities was not guaranteed a seat in a public school classroom until 1975. That's incredible to think about today. It wouldn't have happened without Eunice who lobbied Congress to make that happen.

Those children were still confined to the (INAUDIBLE) and institutions until Eunice convinced Jack Kennedy to put this on the top of his national agenda.

WHITFIELD: What a incredible legacy indeed. Eileen McNamara, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

MCNAMARA: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And be sure to watch "American Dynasties: The Kennedys" tonight at 9 Eastern only on CNN.

And we'll be right back.

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