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Reporter Indicates Sources Claim President Trump Treated Personal Attorney Michael Cohen Poorly; DNC Sues Russia, Trump Campaign, Donald Trump Junior, and WikiLeaks; North Korea Announces Suspension of Nuclear Arms Testing; Comey Memos Detailing Interactions with President Trump Released; Donald Trump's Relationship with Vladimir Putin Before Becoming President Examined; Funeral Held for Barbara Bush. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 21, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:16] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone and thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Today a grand farewell for the former first lady Barbara Bush in Texas. And among the guests current first lady Melania Trump alongside three other former first ladies and former presidents. While in Florida President Donald Trump unleashing a series of tweets this morning. Top of mind, protecting his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump rattling off tweets attacking a "New York Times" article suggesting a strained relationship between the two men. Trump writes "The New York Times" and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman known as a Crooked H flunky who I don't speak to and have nothing to do with are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will flip. They used nonexistent sources and a drunk, drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account, lawyer who have always liked and respected. Most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry. I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible witch hunt and the dishonest media." Those tweets coming from the president today.

But according to Cohen's attorney, Cohen may be facing an indictment within 90 days, something Stormy Daniels' lawyer has also said. It's all the result of a criminal probe in New York following the FBI raids of Cohen's home, hotel room, and office earlier this month.

So what does all of this mean for the president of the United States and his current fixer? CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Florida near Trump's resort. So Boris, the president seems confident in Cohen but he also has a lot on his mind that he conveyed via tweet today.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. President Trump lashing out on Twitter Saturday morning attacking "The New York Times" and one of its reporters, Maggie Haberman. To put some context around this, the story pertains to the president's personal relationship with his attorney and sheds some negative light on it. It comes following weeks where news has broken that, as you noted, the FBI raided Michael Cohen's apartment, his office, and his hotel room, sources indicate looking for information pertaining to contacts that he may have had with President Trump.

It also comes on the heels of news that some legal experts have told President Trump that he should prepare in case Michael Cohen flips on the president. That is to say if Michael Cohen has any incriminating information about President Trump, that he may use it to comply with investigators and seek some leniency. Now, this piece published yesterday by the "New York Times" citing six different sources indicates that historically President Trump has treated his personal attorney poorly. The reporter behind the piece, Maggie Haberman, was on CNN last night saying that she heard from these sources the president has treated his attorney like an animal. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Michael Cohen has over the years done all kinds of things at the president's urging, because the president wanted him to, because he came to sort of intuit what he thought the president would want. It didn't always work out. Sometimes those things were handled in a way that was either ham-fisted or came back to bite the president later. The Stormy Daniels case would be one of them.

But Cohen was basically trying to do right by his boss and was seeking his boss's approval, and Trump time after time treated him -- Trump is very fond of using the term like a dog. He treated Cohen quite poorly over a period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now, Fred, one noteworthy portion of the president's tweets this morning are that piece where he talks about someone being a drinker and a drug user. There's been widespread speculation online about who the president was talking about. We won't get into that. CNN did reach out to the White House, though, to ask for clarity on specifically that comment. We have yet to hear back, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, keep us posted from Florida, appreciate that.

Lots to talk about now. Joining me right now, CNN contributor and general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center Larry Noble and CNN legal commentator and former lawyer for Trump's White House James Schultz. Good to see you both.

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you.

JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me on.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. So Larry, first, Cohen and Stormy Daniels' attorney seem to think an indictment is coming. Here is Daniels' attorney yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Mr. Cohen is going to be indicted soon?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Absolutely I do. I don't know the scope of that indictment, and I think that was the point I was raising in court.

[14:05:01] What I state in the press is not evidence. The court is interested in competent evidence before the court. And, look, this investigation could take a long time. There could be subsequent indictments. We don't exactly know. My own personal belief as someone with 18 years of experience who has some knowledge of what's going on, yes, I believe the indictment will be issued within the next 90 days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Larry, if there is an indictment, yes, that could spell trouble for Cohen. But then what about for the president given their relationship?

NOBLE: It could spell definite trouble for the president. Obviously what he's concerned about and his lawyers are concerned about is that to avoid prosecution, Cohen is going to, the expression is flip. But Cohen is going to talk about possible crimes by Trump. And in fact, some of Trump's lawyers are now counseling that it's likely that Cohen will flip. That assumes I guess in some ways that Cohen has information on Trump.

And it's going to be a tough decision for Cohen. If they're threatening him with an indictment about what he wants to do and he has information, honest information to give up, he could be facing jail time. He has two young kids. And he could be facing serious sanctions, losing his license. Does he stay loyal to the president?

And what we just heard is that apparently there's a history of the president abusing him, of not being nice to him. They've said you don't want to have your lawyer indicted. You definitely don't want to have your lawyer indicted when you've been mean to your lawyer because that really gives him something to think about. You assume he'll still be honest, but it gives him something to think about, about how loyal he wants to actually be, and how loyal is the president going to be to him?

WHITFIELD: And so James, yes, like Larry spelled out, there's a lot at stake potentially for Cohen, his license, ability to continue with his livelihood, and he has a wife and two kids. And are those the ingredients that might make someone like Michael Cohen flip?

SCHULTZ: Michael Cohen is in serious trouble. A judge issued the subpoenas. They were executed. They were not taken lightly. There were arguments made in court relative to how the evidence is going to be viewed by the Justice Department. He's in serious trouble. Whether that means anything for the president remains to be seen because there has to be something there to flip. And I think Larry said that succinctly a minute ago. And as it relates to how the president treated Cohen when he was his

lawyer, I imagine the president was a pretty demanding client. And of course he was. He's a businessman. He's certainly demanding of his lawyers. And characterizing it as mean just seems a little odd to me. Lawyers are used to dealing with demanding bosses, no question.

WHITFIELD: So Larry, Stormy Daniels' former lawyer Keith Davidson is now reportedly working with the federal probe on Cohen. He reportedly shared records related to the $130,000 hush money payment, and Cohen has said that he used his own money but then that money is still questionable where it came from. Yes, there is the lock, but was there reimbursement, et cetera. Is it an issue of following the money that really might help explain the story of hush money by whom, who knew it, et cetera?

NOBLE: Yes. That's clearly one of the central issues here is that hush money. Now, Cohen has said he paid it himself, and he paid it out of a home equity loan. So there are questions about whether or not there was any fraud in getting the home equity loan. There's questions about whether he was reimbursed by somebody which could be an illegal campaign contribution.

He by paying that money could have made an illegal campaign contribution if in fact he was acting as an agent to the campaign or anybody in the campaign knew about it. So there are a lot of issues involved with that money and the source of it. And that is one of the things they're going to follow.

You also have to keep in mind apparently the U.S. attorney is also looking at other things with Cohen's businesses. But the core of this right now is the money that was used to pay Stormy Daniels.

WHITFIELD: And James, it seems like there's some real brevity with these cases, but then traditionally, cases like this might take a long time. And given that possible life span of this case, do you see that perhaps the president in his real affinity for Michael Cohen and defense of him might potentially look for an opportunity to pardon him even before anything goes to trial? Of course, we are talking about different cases. Federal level and then we're talking about New York.

SCHULTZ: Nobody is even talking about pardons. And the only reason we're talking about indictments at this point is because in the civil case they're looking for a stay because there's going to be -- they're going to elicit testimony relative to the matters that are being viewed in the criminal context. And that -- Cohen is going to have to make a decision whether to take the Fifth Amendment privilege there against self-incrimination as it relates to that information.

WHITFIELD: And Larry, really the issue is -- if there is some sort of election commission violation, then you're talking about federal court. But if we're talking about the case staying right there in the New York district, the president doesn't have any powers, would he, in any kind of pardoning on that level? That would be the governor, right?

[14:10:14] NOBLE: It depends. There's a federal case in New York in which case the president, the pardon power would work. There's a state case. And there the pardon power would not work. And in fact they're in New York trying to pass a law to make that clear that he cannot pardon people for a violation of state crimes. So you have a lot of moving parts in this. I think one of the things that has to be worrying Trump in the White House is that there are so many moving parts. There are so many people coming out in different ways. But yes, these state cases are very different than the federal cases.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Larry Noble, James Schultz, thanks so much. Stick around. We'll see you again in just a few minutes.

Coming up, after decades of rocket launches and threats of destruction, Kim Jong-un says he is suspending nuclear and missile tests effective today. The announcement stunning leaders across the world. We're live in Seoul with details, next.

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WHITFIELD: Welcome back. After decades of missile tests and threats of war, North Korea says it is done with its nuclear and long-range missile testing. The announcement was made on North Korean state television and comes just days before talks are set to begin with South Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests. Midrange and intercontinental ballistic missile rocket tests, and the nuclear test site in northern area is also completed its mission.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: President Trump praising the development, tweeting out "North Korea has agreed to suspend all nuclear tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the world. Big progress. Look forward to our summit." That from the president.

Countries from Europe to China and South Korea are also praising the move. CNN's Ivan Watson joins me now live from Seoul. So Ivan, how much of a surprise did this announcement come to everyone?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We just listen to the response. The South Korean government, for example, with the South Korean president scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un face-to- face in just six days' time has welcoming this, saying this will create a positive environment for the upcoming not just North/South Korean summit but then the subsequent summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump that we still don't know the location or date of that summit.

So yes, it has come as a surprise interpreted as an olive branch. And the justification that the North Korean government has used for why its suspending nuclear weapons tests, and the last one was conducted just last September, and missile launches, the last missile launch was in November of last year, the justification is that North Korea has nuclear weapons. It's a nuclear-armed state. It has mastered in the words of the government statement, miniaturizing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile technology, so it doesn't need to test them anymore. And now instead the government is going to focus on economic development and on improving relations with neighbors, though it says it will not use the existing arsenal unless there is direct nuclear threat to North Korea.

So there's no talk of dismantling at this point. It is just a unilateral declaration of a pause of nuclear test, but one being welcomed by pretty much all the stakeholders here in the region.

WHITFIELD: So that commitment is one thing that's being celebrated. But then there are things that are missing from this announcement. And what is striking concern out of people in the region?

WATSON: Well, I mean, the Japanese are the first to complain here. They've had missiles fired over their territory in the last year. And just a little bit of context. North Korea says it's not going to fire missiles now. In the six years that Kim Jong-un has been in power, it has fired more than 80 missiles. So this has become kind of a pattern and part of the rhythm of the region which has fortunately gotten a lot less tense in recent months.

But the big question, the looming question here is denuclearization. Would North Korea be willing to dismantle it arsenal of nuclear weapons? And a lot of experts will argue that, hey, North Korea, not a very wealthy country, has spent untold riches and years building these nuclear weapons and has been internationally isolated and punished as a result. Why would it immediately give these things up unless there is a very, very strong incentive not only from South Korea, its rival on its southern border, but certainly from the U.S. which North Korea has always viewed as it greatest enemy?

WHITFIELD: Ivan Watson, thank you so much from Seoul.

Coming up, back in this country, the DNC sues on the receiving end, Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Details on the lawsuit and the alleged conspiracy that the committee says threw the 2016 election.

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[14:24:09] WHITFIELD: Major developments unfolding this week in the Russia investigation, and a new move by the Democratic Party to get answers. The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russia, and WikiLeaks, claiming they conspired to interfere in the 2016 campaign. That civil suit followed the release of James Comey's memos. The redacted 15-pages of notes detailed conversations the former FBI director had with the president, President Trump, on a wide range of topics such as Russian prostitutes, government leakers, and the president's deep concerns over Michael Flynn. The president tweeting just last night "James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a special counsel. Therefore the special counsel was established based on an illegal act. Really, does everyone know what that means?" That from the president. [14:25:02] Back with me are my legal experts Larry Noble and James

Schultz. Also joining me is David Swerdlick who is a CNN political commentator and assistant editor for the "Washington Post."

OK, we're going to try and delve into a whole lot of topics that cover a wide range here. So first, Jim, did Comey, who testified that he shared his notes with a friend so as to make it public so as to also encourage the need for a special counsel, was anything in that process illegal as the president infers?

SCHULTZ: To the extent it was classified information, the answer to that is maybe. And the inspector general at the Department of Justice has announced that they're looking into it. So we don't know whether it was illegal or not. We just know that Comey had admitted releasing those documents to the public, and it remains to be seen what the I.G. says about it.

WHITFIELD: And so Larry, was that considered classified since it wasn't like the formal documentation of an FBI submission but instead his contemporaneous notes?

NOBLE: Comey says he did not consider it classified. It's really not just a question of whether it's contemporaneous notes. It's what information was in there. Was it classified information? He says it was not and that it was redacted. And as was just said, there is an inspector general looking at this. But it doesn't necessarily undermine the Mueller investigation because while Comey says in the book that he released some of those memos in the hopes that a special counsel would be appointed, the special counsel was appointed for a lot of reasons.

WHITFIELD: And then also, James, the Justice Department watchdog now is looking into Comey's handling of those memos. Do you see something on the horizon in terms of trouble legally for Comey?

SCHULTZ: Look, It remains to be seen. Everybody said nothing was going to happen to McCabe and we've seen reports that now a criminal referral has been made over to the U.S. attorney's office on McCabe and the issues associated with the inspector general's investigation into him. So I think it's very early to make judgments as to what's going to happen with Comey.

What we do know is that Comey has a history of self-righteousness and doing things that he believes are the right things to do no matter what anyone else says. When he rushed to the bedside of a sick John Ashcroft when he wanted to oppose what his then boss, President Bush and the Bush administration, wanted to do as it related to wiretapping. And then he did the same thing as it relates to the Hillary Clinton investigation in coming out and making that second announcement. It's like he has this self-righteous way him. And Andrew Rosenthal of the "New York Times" pointed that out in a November, 2016, editorial piece.

WHITFIELD: OK.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I JUST make one comment about the McCabe-Comey comparison if I can?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

SWERDLICK: And good morning. So listen, I think that's an interesting analogy. The only thing I would say about that is that if the Justice Department moves forward with criminal charges against McCabe, they've already got an administrative finding of lack of candor in hand. With Comey they're be starting from scratch and I think the administration will also look at what kind of information is going to come out if Comey has the opportunity or is forced to be in a position where he has to defend himself and explain why he made the decision on his own, whether it was right or wrong, I agree that it's a maybe, to keep those contemporaneous notes. So I think that changes the analysis a little bit.

WHITFIELD: And then David, when you talk about lack of candor, the same terminology was used for the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, when he was on Capitol Hill testifying a number of times, but today your newspaper, "Washington Post," is reporting that the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, actually told the White House that he would consider quitting if the president were to fire the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. And so one has to wonder did he mean for that to get out into the public sphere? Is that with intent to perhaps make it easier on the president because he expressed his displeasure with both Rosenstein and Sessions?

SWERDLICK: Fred, I think it's hard to get into the mind of Jeff Sessions at this point, Attorney General Sessions at this point. One theory might be that he's on the sidelines of the central issues going on at least out in front. Maybe behind the scenes there are people he's talking to including the president. But because he recused himself early on this has been a Rosenstein led investigation into the most important issue that the Justice Department is dealing with during the entire presidency of President Trump so far. So maybe it's a way for him to say look, he's either going to make a move, make himself more relevant, assert his voice in the discussion, lest his reputation and his legacy in the short tenure that he's had as attorney general looks like he's been a bit player who took himself out of the game early, latched his star to President Trump in a way he didn't intend, and now is sort of tied to circumstances rather than a cabinet member leading the charge on the central issue of the Trump presidency, certainly from the perspective of the DOJ.

[14:00:15] WHITFIELD: And, Larry, to many people this seems like one big, giant soap opera. But really the centerpiece to all of this stuff is the meddling of the 2016 election. So now the DNC is injecting itself in this matter with this lawsuit. In your view, is this a publicity stunt or is this frivolous as the president puts it, or is there a chance this case could make it to court and reveal something new?

NOBLE: I don't think it's frivolous. I think there's a real chance it could make it to court. Having said that, there's no doubt that the DNC wants publicity out of this. I have no doubt they'll use it for fundraising. That's just the nature of the game. But if you look at the complaint, it's an interesting complaint. It

was very carefully drafted. They did not sue Donald Trump, the president. So they avoid issues with that. They sued the campaign committee. They sued Donald Trump Junior, the Russians. And basically what they're claiming is that there's damage to the DNC because of what happened with the Russian hacking. And they have a number of different allegations in there and a number of different complaints. And they're asking for monetary damages and also to prevent this from happening again.

People forget that in Watergate the DNC sued the RNC in Watergate and actually got a settlement when the whole matter was over. I also think one of the interesting things about this is even if the president should manage to get Mueller fired and manage in some way to close down that investigation, this type of case can continue. Now, it may be slowed down right now while the criminal investigation is going on, but they filed in it part, they said, because of a statute of limitations possibly running on some of the claims. But I think the case needs to be taken seriously even if they do fundraise off it, even if there is in part a political motive.

WHITFIELD: And then, gentlemen, there was that dossier for a long time. It was kind of pushed aside maybe as a sideshow, but now it's back in a different kind of way, these salacious elements in the memos of the former FBI director, also focusing on the president's repeated denials of accusations in that dossier claiming that he was involved with Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. And this is in part what it said. The president said the hookers thing is nonsense, but that Putin had told him we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. So, David, does this just simply bring new light to the interests of this dossier, what, if anything, the president or anyone may be trying to hide, et cetera?

SWERDLICK: Look, Fred, I think that it does bring a new level of interest to it. But I think the core question here is what kind of relationship, if any, does President Trump have with President Putin? I'm not trying to dismiss the hooker component of this, but I'm saying I think that's secondary to whether President Trump has been straight with the American people going back to the campaign about whether or not he's had personal conversations with President Putin prior to becoming president, and then --

WHITFIELD: And there was the overnight visit while in Russia, et cetera.

SWERDLICK: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: All these things offer some credence perhaps or somehow how that dossier, and the stories -- the version of events the president has given, whether there's a collision here?

SWERDLICK: Right, exactly, whether that goes to collusion, that's most importantly. And then secondarily, also important but secondarily is the subject matter, talking with another head of state, essentially objectifying women and male bonding over it is obviously also problematic if true. WHITFIELD: James, I felt like you had something you wanted to say.

SCHULTZ: Yes. I think going back to the lawsuit, I see this as flat out political stuntsmanship by Thomas Perez, the head of the DNC. I think we're going to see it dismissed early on. And the issues -- I would be careful if I were the DNC of what you wish for on this thing.

If you remember, Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security director under President Obama, testified last summer that he thinks that there could have been more done relative to the servers after they had been hacked, and that the DNC should have been cooperative. As a matter of fact, the DNC said no thanks to the federal law enforcement officials as it related to getting answers to how all this happened and actually mitigate the damages. I think the DNC has unclean hands. If you remember the information that came out at that time was that they were rigging the election for Hillary Clinton in the primary against Bernie Sanders.

WHITFIELD: OK, we'll see how it all goes or it doesn't. James Schultz, Larry Noble, David Swerdlick, thanks to all of you, appreciate it.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Fred.

NOBLE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: One of the main centerpieces of the Comey memos, Trump's relationship with Putin. Back to that. Up next, the inconsistent accounts surrounding the two world leaders leading up to the 2016 election.

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[14:39:28] WHITFIELD: The Justice Department's internal watchdog is take a close look at how former FBI director James Comey handled his memos recounting his conversations with President Trump. Comey has publicly stated that he shared the memos with top FBI officials, Mueller's office, and a Colombia Law School professor. Now CNN has learned the inspector general's office is questioning additional close associates of Comey about precisely which memos they saw. The review will also determine whether any classified information was improperly shared.

[14:40:00] All of this as Comey's private notes are fueling more questions about President Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his own words, before becoming president, Donald Trump either had a long-standing relationship with Vladimir Putin or had never met him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He could not have been nicer.

I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is.

TODD: But now there is a bizarre new twist in the odd years-old alleged bromance between the two men after James Comey's memos detailing his conversations with the president were released to Congress and leaked to the public.

In one, dated February 8th, 2017, Comey writes about what he perceived as the president's obsession with allegations that the Russians taped him with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. The president said the hookers thing is nonsense, Comey says, but that Putin told him we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. He did not say when Putin told him this, Comey notes.

The alleged comment by Trump about a conversation with Putin is now attracting attention because according to the Kremlin, Trump and Putin had only spoken to each other once, just 11 days earlier, on January 28th of last year. That was a phone call between the two leaders. On Trump's end, Vice President Pence, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Michael Flynn were in the room. But neither the Kremlin nor the official White House readout of the call mentioned prostitutes being discussed. For years before he ran for president, Trump repeatedly claimed to have met Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin, have you met the guy?

TRUMP: He's a tough guy. I met him once.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you met Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have?

TRUMP: One time, yes, a long time ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel --

TRUMP: Which was, by the way.

TODD: But later when he was running for president, Trump's story changed.

TRUMP: I've never met Putin. I have nothing to Putin. I've never spoken to him.

TODD: Biographers say with Trump embellishment and reality sometimes collide resulting in confusion. They say Trump's previous claims to have met with Putin may have referred to a meeting Trump wanted to have with the Russian president in 2013 when Trump hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Biographers say the meeting never happened, but Putin reportedly sent Trump a lacquered box as a gift. Then there was this.

TRUMP: I got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes." We were stablemates.

TODD: They were actually on different continents at the time.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Donald Trump sees these associations as being quite meaningful. So if he's on a TV show and a few minutes later someone else is on the same TV show, he might consider himself stablemates with that person.

TODD: But none of that, Trump watchers say, explains the alleged comment to Comey about discussing prostitutes with Putin. Putin did once mention in public the allure of Russian prostitutes about three weeks before that alleged Trump-Comey conversation when the Russian president dismissed the claim that Trump watched prostitutes urinate on each other in a Moscow hotel.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, (through translator): It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world.

TODD: Could Trump have simply embellished to say that Putin told him about Russian prostitutes? Could Trump have misremembered something, or did he really have this conversation with Putin?

REID WILSON, "THE HILL": Donald Trump is somebody who likes to talk about his interactions with other famous people. It puts him on the same level as them in a number of instances before he became president of the United States. So it's not entirely clear whether or not this interaction ever happened.

TODD: We've sought clarification in Washington and Moscow over whether Putin told Trump personally that Russian prostitutes were the most beautiful in the world. The White House didn't get back to us. Putin's spokesman said the Russian president, quote, "could not say such things and did not say it to President Trump."

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: We have got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom. But first, as opioid-related deaths in the U.S. continue to rise, one mother in Indiana is taking it upon herself to help remove pills from the street after losing two sons from opioids in the same night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY SAVAGE, LOST TWO SONS TO OPIOID OVERDOSE: Justin, Jack, Nick, and then our youngest, Matthew. Nick and Jack were very adventurous, fun-loving. The summer of 2015 was the summer that Jack had just graduated. There's a lot of graduation parties. The next morning was the June 14th. I was in Jack's room. He was unresponsive. I called 9-1-1. I remember hollering for Nick. He never came. Both of our boys were pronounced dead that morning.

They took hydrocodone which is a form of an opioid. It was ruled an accidental overdose related to acute alcohol and hydrocodone ingestion. Maybe by sharing Nick and Jack's story we can prevent this from happening to somebody else. We just former the 525 Foundation in hopes of maybe influencing some new laws.

[14:45:10] Thank you, senators, for inviting me to speak with you today.

And to help spread awareness to the dangers of prescription drugs. We've had three pill pickups so far in our community. We've picked up probably a little bit over 1,500 pounds of pills. We're just going to keep doing it. By me telling their story, they're still able to make a difference in the lives of others.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:09] WHITFIELD: Today family and friends are gathering to celebrate the life of Barbara Bush. The funeral for the former first lady who passed away Tuesday was held today in Houston. Over 1,000 people attended honoring the matriarch of a Republican political dynasty. Here's a look at some of the most poignant moments of the service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENT HISTORIAN: In her final days while the 43rd presidents was visiting, Mrs. Bush asked one of her doctors if she'd like to know why George w. had turned out the way she had. And then she announced, I smoked and drank while I was pregnant.

(LAUGHTER)

SUSAN GARRETT BAKER, FRIEND, WIFE OF FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES BAKER: Barbara, the tough but loving enforcer, was the secret sauce of this extraordinary family. Thank you, dear lord, for bringing Barbara Pierce Bush, this vibrantly beautiful human being, into the world, and especially for bringing her friendship into our lives.

JEB BUSH, SON OF BARBARA BUSH: I feel her looming presence behind me. And I know exactly what she's thinking right now. Jeb, keep it short. Don't drag this out. People have already heard enough remarks already. And most of all, don't get weepy. Remember, I spend decades laughing and living a life with these people. And that is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: An incredible ceremony today. And CNN's Kaylee Hartung is joining us live now from Houston. Kaylee, it looked like a beautiful balance of laughter and solemnity.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was, Fred, and Barbara Bush wanted a simple service. She got that. Very traditional Episcopalian Easter liturgy. But what she got that may have been more important to her was a service that ran on time. As you heard her son Jeb joke that brevity would be of the essence for him today. The logistics of the past couple of days of the celebration of Barbara

Bush's life all working in very impressive choreography. You heard today so many of the elements of who she was spoken to with such grace. Whether it was from Jeb joking about the enforcer she was and the rules that she would lay down for their family, but also those rules that helped excel he and his siblings to the heights that they're at.

You heard from one of her best friends, Susan Baker, the wife of Jim Baker who was George H. W. Bush's secretary of state, what a supportive friend Barbara was over the years.

And then from Jon Meacham, author and the historian, more perspective on her humor and humility I thought best illustrated when he told the story of Barbara walking along the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine, and someone stopping her and saying you look an awful lot like Barbara Bush. And she said I get that a lot, not wanting the spotlight to ever be on her. But today it was. People really bringing voice to their love and respect for this woman who lived such an incredible life.

You saw tremendous emotion, especially from the Bush grandchildren, the 17 of them. Many of the grandsons today as pallbearers. It was a particularly I thought impactful moment as you saw the pallbearers escort the casket out of the church at the conclusion of the service with the entire Bush family behind them. George W. Bush pushing his father in his wheelchair, a job that Barbara for many years had taken on herself. That now seemingly George W.'s job.

The motorcade we then saw leave this church, Fred, processing through the city of Houston for this community to pay their respects to her along the way as they head to her final resting place at George H. W. Bush's presidential library at College Station.

WHITFIELD: So many unique ways of paying tribute to the former first lady. And former president George H. W. Bush had his own very special way of paying tribute. Describe that for us.

HARTUNG: He did, Fred. George H.W. Bush known to wear socks with flair, if you will, over the years. And we know Barbara Bush, a tireless advocate for literacy. So today George wore his book socks in tribute to his wife and her commitment to that cause.

[14:55:10] WHITFIELD: So cute in that colorful stack of books right there at his ankles. All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much from Houston, appreciate it.

And we'll be right back.

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[15:00:03] WHITFIELD: All right, hello again, and thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.