Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Stormy Daniels Sues President Trump; Where will Trump and Kim Jong-un Meet?; Will Trump Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal?. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:02]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is signaling that he's leaning toward pulling out of the accord after a call with the leader of Israel over the weekend.

And in this news conference earlier this afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has Iran's secret nuclear files, 55,000 pages, disks and has proof that Iran is lying about its part of the deal.

The prime minister says, in reality, Iran is expanding its nuclear program. However, despite this news, President Trump stopped short of saying the U.S. is definitively dropping out of the agreement, which aims to reduce Iran's nuclear weapons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is just not an acceptable situation. And I have been saying that is happening. They're not sitting back idly. They're setting off missiles, which they say are for television purposes. I don't think so.

So we will see what happens. I'm not telling you what I'm doing, but a lot of people think they know. And on or before the 12th, we will make a decision. I think, if anything, what's happening today and what's happened over the last little while and what we have learned has really shown that I have been 100 percent right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now, our CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

And, Jeff, the president made that comment at his joint news conference with the president of Nigeria just a little while ago. But watching that press conference of Netanyahu's it certainly seemed like, as spoke first in English, that he had an audience of one.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, there's no question, the president was indeed watching that, I'm told, from just off the Oval Office.

He was certainly watching that speech. He agrees with Benjamin Netanyahu about this entirely. They had a phone call over the weekend. On Saturday, they spoke. This is something that the prime minister is simply doing to amplify the message here.

The president stopping short of saying exactly what he was going to do, but, boy, listening to him in the Rose Garden certainly, certainly seemed that all signs are pointing to the fact that he does plan to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

BALDWIN: What about quickly the headlines on North Korea, and how he actually floated again the notion of meeting Kim Jong-un at the DMZ?

ZELENY: Well, certainly, the president is focused on the optics of what that would look like. The history of the fact that the meeting, should it happen, will be history-making on its own, right, regardless of where it is, but the president is certainly not satisfied with the idea of having this in some random hotel someplace. He wants that picture at the DMZ.

But, Brooke, this is interesting. Just a couple weeks ago, U.S. officials were telling us they did not want it at the DMZ. They want it at a neutral third-party site, so it didn't look like the president was sort of giving in and essentially on the doorstep there.

But he may have the final say here. He said he was just floating the idea. But it certainly seems like it's a picture that he wants. He's very focused on images, and if it would happen, it certainly would be an amazing meeting there at the DMZ, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny, thank you, at the White House.

ZELENY: Sure.

BALDWIN: With me now, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, who served as the White House coordinator for defense policy in Obama White House.

OK, welcome to both of you.

And, Gloria, just...

ELIZABETH SHERWOOD-RANDALL, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just to you first, Gloria, on we know that President Trump had spoken to Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend. We know that Mike Pompeo -- thank you -- we know Mike Pompeo had met with Netanyahu on Sunday. Does this mean that the president essentially green-lit what Netanyahu presented to the world, and thus does this mean that the president's leaning on pulling out?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

I think there's no way that Netanyahu would have done this, as you pointed out earlier, in English first, which means he was speaking not only to Trump, but to the American people, and that he got the go- ahead from Trump and Pompeo to do this.

I think if I were Macron or Angela Merkel or Theresa May, I might be a little upset about this, if they were not clued in on this, because, don't forget, they were all lobbying the president last week to kind of don't end it, mend it, to renew an old Bill Clinton phrase.

And I think that Netanyahu got to the president and showed him all of this intelligence, an. i must say, Brooke, that it was stunning to me, the intelligence that he presented.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: I mean, it was highly sophisticated, and you kind of -- you sit back and you wonder, wow. how did they infiltrate that way? Who did they have working with them on the inside in order to get this? It was quite remarkable.

BALDWIN: Also remarkable, some of the claims, Elizabeth, four claims from Netanyahu that Iran lied about never having a secret nukes program. After the 2015 deal, they say Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuke weapons for official use. Iran lied again in 2015 when it didn't come clean with the nuke deal. And, lastly, the Iran deal is based on lies, obviously, an opinion, although it was presented as fact.

[15:05:17]

Do you -- what did you make of those claims and how the prime minister laid them out? Because I was speaking with Fareed Zakaria last hour. And he was saying much of what Netanyahu said is already out there, it's not a secret.

SHERWOOD-RANDALL: So while Israeli spycraft is impressive, I actually didn't hear anything that surprised me.

The reason we negotiated an Iran nuclear agreement is because we knew Iran was determined to have nuclear weapons. And we needed to put a stop to their developmental program. And what we did in the agreement that was achieved with Russia, China, the Europeans and the United States, and Iran, was to stop the two pathways to the bomb, their acquisition of sufficient uranium, enriched uranium, to build a bomb, and their acquisition of plutonium to build a bomb.

With those two dimensions arrested, set back for many years, then we knew that there would be sufficient time, were the Iranians to proceed again to try to build a bomb, for us to intervene.

When we came into office, we learned how close the Iranians were to be able to build a bomb, and when we left office in the Obama administration, we had set that back significantly. We knew there was never no risk. What we did was put time on the clock.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth, would the U.S. put out its own evidence?

SHERWOOD-RANDALL: I can't speak for this administration, but I think we have ample evidence of what we have accomplished thus far in setting back the Iranian nuclear clock.

And we also knew well about what the Iranians were up to before we negotiated the agreement.

BORGER: Brooke, so the one thing that did surprise me was Netanyahu's charge that in 2015 the Iranians lied to the IAEA, in other words, the inspectors, and that that would be a real problem in terms of the agreement, wouldn't it, if they were lying to those inspectors, because this was going on during the time it was supposed to...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Right, if they were inventorying -- if they lied then and if they had lied since, to mean that would be significant. How, Gloria, would Mike Pompeo or John Bolton play into the president's decision when it comes to Iran on May 12?

BORGER: Well, I think usually. And I think both of them are singing from the same songbook, as is the president, which is, it's got to be ripped up.

Now, maybe, maybe, and we don't know the answer to this, maybe there's a way to please the president and Netanyahu and not rip up the entire deal, as Macron and Merkel say. We don't know what is going to happen next. All we do know is that there's not a lot of time between now and May 12.

BALDWIN: Right.

BORGER: And so the question is how do you validate this intelligence in such a short period of time? The Israelis have it. The U.S. has been briefed on it, I'm assuming, and I'm assuming others will be.

But don't our intelligence agencies -- and other intelligence agencies have to validate it?

BALDWIN: What about -- Elizabeth, if you can answer that, I certainly -- I don't know the answer to that.

I'm also wondering too the Israeli perspective. Obviously, based upon what Netanyahu said and what he put out there and the word lie he used over and over, he wants to kill the deal. But why do the Israelis think that they would be better off without this deal?

SHERWOOD-RANDALL: It's mystifying to me, because Netanyahu previously indicated that he recognized that Israel was more secure as a consequence of the Iran nuclear agreement.

We will have to look at the facts, but what I would emphasize is the importance of our recognition in the negotiation that the Iranians had lied before. We weren't basing the negotiation on lies. We were basing negotiation on our technical assessment of what we needed to do to significantly set back the Iranian nuclear program.

And that didn't set it to zero, but it gave us many more years than we have otherwise today. And what I can't understand is why we are facing so many challenges around the world, we would want to essentially restart the Iranian nuclear program, rather than keep it constrained for the many years that it's constrained with intrusive verification and inspections that are part of that nuclear agreement.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Gloria Borger, thank you.

Again, the deadline May 12. Ladies, thanks.

Coming up, breaking this afternoon, adult film star Stormy Daniels filing a lawsuit against the president after he called a sketch of her alleged harasser over Twitter a total con job. Does she have a case?

[15:10:11]

Also, President Trump floats potential sites for his big meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. And he's apparently putting a lot of emphasis on the potential production value of that.

And Senator John McCain hitting President Trump and reflecting on a lifetime of service as he struggles with stage four cancer. It's all from the senator's upcoming memoir. We have excerpts we want to share.

You're watching CNN. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We're back with some breaking news on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

This is all regarding the adult film star Stormy Daniels, who just filed a defamation lawsuit against President Trump. It is separate from another lawsuit where Daniels is suing the president and his personal attorney general, Michael Cohen, over that 2016 hush money agreement and that $130,000.

This new lawsuit has to do with what Trump tweet recently about this sketch of a man Daniels says some years ago threatened her life.

[15:15:07]

Trump tweeted this: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man, a total con job, playing the fake news media for fools, but they know it."

With me, Areva Martin and Paul Callan, our CNN legal analyst.

And so, Paul, again, just jogging everyone's memories back, this is from when Stormy Daniels was on "The View." She tells the story of when the word got out that she was going to tell the truth, her truth about this alleged affair with then private citizen Donald Trump, that some man in a parking lot threatened her as she was with her newborn child and so recently the sketch was made.

The defamation suit, does it have legs? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's a real uphill battle

for Avenatti representing Stormy Daniels, because in order to prove defamation, you have to prove that -- and this is the theory that he enunciates in the complaint.

He says, you have accused my client of doing a criminal act, i.e., falsely accusing somebody of a crime, the guy in the sketch. All right?

However, in defamation law, if what you say is as the law defines an opinion, that's not defamatory. And just to make it clear...

BALDWIN: Opinion being what Trump had tweeted about total con job?

CALLAN: Yes. And here's how the law makes the distinction.

Let's say I were to say Stormy Daniels robbed a bank. All right? That is capable of being proven true or false. If I said she robbed Chase Manhattan Bank, we could look it up and see if Chase Manhattan had been robbed.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure.

CALLAN: All right?

Trump is saying, this sketch is a con job. Now, how would you prove that true or false, especially since the guy hasn't even been apprehended? It seems to me it's not capable of being proven true or false. And it falls then into this category of opinion, which you can't bring a defamation lawsuit for.

BALDWIN: Which, to add to that -- thank you, former media law professor as well, Paul Callan.

Areva, the question to you. As he also pointed out, since Stormy Daniels is a public figure, Avenatti has a higher burden, malice.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

In a defamation lawsuit, if you are a public figure, you have to go that extra mile of proving malice, because the law is sensitive to people's First Amendment rights. And there's that fine line between your ability to state something about a person, but also your ability to exercise your First Amendment rights.

And I don't know if Stormy Daniels in this lawsuit could prove that that statement was defamatory. Now, probably, she would have an easier chance proving malice against the president, given what we know about him and how he feel about this entire Stormy Daniels lawsuit, the incident and all the statements that have been made by her attorney.

But I also have some issues with the tweet itself. It doesn't mention her by name. We have to make an inference that Trump is talking about her. I think this lawsuit is Avenatti's way to keep the pressure on Trump, particularly since this federal judge in California has put the civil case that is pending in the federal court in California on hold for 90 days.

We know Avenatti wants to depose Trump, wants to depose Michael Cohen. He's not going to be able to in this federal lawsuit in California, so maybe this is his opportunity, so he thinks, to get a shot of that deposition of Donald Trump in a different lawsuit.

BALDWIN: That's interesting. It's like bigger picture. This is his strategy. Obviously, he knows the law. He knows the likelihood.

CALLAN: Yes, he does. And he's found an angle here to bring a new action.

I think what's also interesting is, since the California suit now is on hold, as Areva said, and Mr. Avenatti seems to spend most of his time here in New York City, all right, making television appearances about the case, what better place to file a new lawsuit than here in New York?

And this case has been filed in New York. So, for a lot of reasons, he may have been deciding to pursue the case in New York.

BALDWIN: Right. OK.

Paul and Areva, thank you both so much.

BALDWIN: Speaking of President Trump, should he receive the Nobel Peace Prize? That is what his counterpart in South Korea has said. It comes as Trump suggests an interesting site for his meeting with Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks. Where might that be?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:23:45]

BALDWIN: North Korea now saying it will abandon its nukes and even allow journalists in to watch the dismantling, but only if the U.S. promises not to invade.

Never mind the fact that the U.S. has never made any threats to invade North Korea, this report coming from a South Korean official to "The New York Times."

Meanwhile, South Korea's President Moon told his Cabinet that he thinks President Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending this stand-off between the North and South. And Trump supporters, listen for the chanting. They agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE: Nobel! Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's very nice. Thank you. That's very nice. Nobel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With all of this, President Trump saying that his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un may happen in the next three to four weeks. He's even suggesting a possible location for the summit, the DMZ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, it was an interesting thought, and I had that thought. We're looking at various countries, including Singapore, and we are also talking about the possibility of the DMZ, Peace House, Freedom House.

And there's something that I thought was intriguing. I think that some people maybe don't like the look of that, and some people like it very much.

[15:25:07]

I will say this. If it's not a success, if it's not a success -- got to get rid of the nuclear weapons. If it's not a success, I will respectfully leave. It's very simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to Will Ripley. He's live in Seoul for us.

And, Will, listening to the president, some people, he said, don't like the idea of him going to the DMZ because of the optics. It makes it look like Trump is -- he is going to Kim Jong-un. At the same time, it's a mighty symbolic site for this sort of meeting.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And who can dispute that those extraordinary images were made for TV? And that obviously resonated with the president, who was watching the coverage taken by the photos of Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in planting the tree together, taking a stroll, shaking hands along the military demarcation line.

Yes, the DMZ had been ruled out by administration officials who told us as recent as a couple of days ago that Singapore was the favorite location here in Asia because of its neutrality. But there are American troops stationed at the DMZ, so it could possibly make sense.

And what about this talk of President Trump potentially winning the Nobel Peace Prize? That was actually suggested by President Moon Jae- in here in Seoul when he was asked about the possibility if he should win the prize. And he said, oh, no, it should go to President Trump.

He's consistently giving the president credit for creating the conditions for the revived talks, the easing of tensions between the North and South. He said the maximum pressure campaign, the sanctions, even the insults and the threats of military action all helped bring North Korea to the table.

I might also argue, Brooke, though, that Kim Jong-un has had a long- term plan here all along to develop his nuclear arsenal up to a point that he would sit down with the U.S. from a position of strength. And at least for now, things are going exactly as I have been told many times in Pyongyang the North Koreans planned.

BALDWIN: I spent so much of my weekend including looking at your photos, Will Ripley, of that stunning visit between Moon and Kim. Just imagine between Kim and Trump if it were to be at the DMZ.

Will Ripley for us in Seoul, thank you, Will.

Breaking news on the standoff over the caravan of asylum seekers who have just arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump moments ago ripping U.S. immigration laws, calling it pathetic, the world is laughing at us, and saying he's watching this caravan for himself.

Details ahead.