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Avenatti: Daniels Owed Respect Regardless of Profession; White House Walks Back Major Statement on Iran's Nuclear Program Status; Pence's Doctor Reveals New Allegations Against Ronny Jackson; First Migrants from Caravan Start Asylum Process at Border; Trump Delays Imposing Aluminum Tariffs. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 1, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Avenatti, he was asked about that this morning, and he responded. I want you to listen to this.



MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Regardless of a woman's profession, she is still entitled to have people speak about her in a truthful manner. All because you engage in a certain profession does not mean you check the ability at the door to be treated with respect and dignity. I think it is outrageous, especially in today's day and times. This isn't the 1950s where people just turn a blind eye to this nonsense.


BOLDUAN: Does he have a point? Being a porn star does not preclude you from being able to tell the truth.

CALLAN: It doesn't. We're talking about an important principle. But when you try jury cases, you put 12 ordinary people in a jury box, and they're going to hear that she probably has made between 200 and 500 pornographic films now. She has a legal right to do that, certainly, and shouldn't hold that against her. But some people will hold that against her. And most lawyers would look at this and say, it lowers the amount of damages that are going to be awarded in the case as a result, because some jurors may say her reputation has not been damaged.

The final thing I would raise on what are the damages in the case is this. She's being accused of lying about whether she actually had sex with the president. The president denies that it happened. And she said that it did happen. So when you're arguing this to the jury, you have to say that saying you didn't have sex with the president or if the public believed that is defamatory in some way. In other words, that's how her reputation has been damaged because the president says she didn't have sex with him. Is a jury going to give a lot of money for that? I don't think so. They might give a symbolic award, sometimes say, we award $1 in damages because they want to send a message she has a right to sue and that the president has the right not to disparage the reputation of another person. But recovering a huge amount of money, it is not going to happen in this case.

BOLDUAN: This doesn't even get to the fact that this is just one suit. This doesn't even get to where things go then with the other lawsuit filed against Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney, now on hold. Michael Cohen is facing a criminal case. This is a tangled web.

Thank you.

CALLAN: Very tangled.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Paul. Thank you.

Coming up next, the word change seen around the world. Why the White House walked back a major statement on the status of Iran's nuclear program, next.


[11:36:40] BOLDUAN: This morning, the Israeli prime minister is doubling down on his assertion that Iran has been lying for years about its nuclear ambition. Listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: There is an enormous amount of new information that we didn't know that shows how advanced they were in their bomb-making work. So that's the first thing. Second, if people knew this, then how could they close the file and say they never did anything like this. This was the condition for entering the deal.


BOLDUAN: At the same time, the world's nuclear watchdog says there is no evidence of Iran trying to develop nuclear weapons after 2009. But Netanyahu says they still can't be trusted and the deal never should have been struck because of it.

This all comes just 12 days before President Trump is expected to decide whether to leave Iran nuclear deal altogether, making the time of Netanyahu's announcement all the more provocative.

With me now to discuss, CNN global affairs analyst and a former State Department official, Aaron David Miller, and CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, a former spokesman for the Pentagon and the State Department.

Great to see both of you.

John, did Benjamin Netanyahu move the ball here? Did he present new information?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Those are two very different questions, Kate. Let me take the second one first. No, he didn't. Nothing he said was information we didn't already know, that had most of it been declassified by the Bush administration. He made a compelling case for why the Iran nuclear deal was so important in the first place. We knew they were advancing towards a nuclear weapons program and because we knew they would lie about it. He seems to be arguing that because they have all these records and data that their intentions are impure, and they'll cheat in the future. That's why the deal has such a strong verification regime in place. But his argument is because, like I say, my notes from history class at the University of South Florida, that means I'll want to go back and get a PhD. It is a weak argument.

Whether you move the ball or not, I don't think he did, but I don't think he was trying to. I think he was speaking to an audience of one, mostly, that was Trump and to his base, to try to shore up the president's pending decision on May 12th about whether or not to stay in the deal. He's giving Trump something that Trump can point back to and say, you see, look, based on what Netanyahu said, I'm fully in the right to pull out of this deal.

BOLDUAN: Maybe in that regard he did move the ball, the direction moving towards Trump to get out of the deal.

Aaron, former CIA director, Michael Hayden, this morning, suggested that when it comes for Netanyahu on this issue, specifically, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Listen to this, please.


MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE & FORMER DIRECTOR, NSA & FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: With all due respect to the prime minister, and I realize he's not an intelligence source, all right, but we have certain labels, certain caveats we give to some sources. And for some sources who actually report good information, we also have to point out, so that you understand the motivation of the source, we believed his remarks were designed to influence as well as to inform. And I think that might apply to what the prime minister said yesterday.


BOLDUAN: Aaron, do you agree?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There's no doubt that the prime minister wants to be the coach, the cheerleader, and the player, and he is clearly all three with respect to the JCPOA. He's on the verge of a major political victory, getting the president to begin the process. What he'll actually do, our president, is another matter. Begin the process of exiting the JCPOA. I agree generally with what John said. But I think there is one important point that these -- that this treasure trove of documents reveal, and that is the issue of intent. And it reflects, I think, a genuine concern and problem with the JCPOA. Once scientific knowledge enters the consciousness of a nation's scientific community, it can't be extracted or expunged. Do think the Iranians are on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon? Absolutely not. Do I think they want to contain the know-how and the technical reports to put them in a position to do so, at some point, if required or necessary? Absolutely. And that, I think, is the real problem. We are never going to sleep or have a good night's sleep given the nature of this regime and the fact that it is driven by a profound mix of grandiosity and security. This agreement is highly flawed, but it is functional. Walking away from it without a Plan B, I think, is a political interest of the president, but not in the national interest.

[11:41:11] BOLDUAN: There is also then how the White House is talking about all of this, John. The White House put out a statement last night that said this, in part, "Iran has a robust clandestine nuclear weapons program that it tried and failed to hide from the world and its own people."

"Has a robust nuclear weapons program." The White House later changed that "has a robust program" to "had a robust program," explaining the error as a typo. This word changes everything. You handle communications for state and defense, John. How does this happen?

KIRBY: Yes, I go back to what Mark Twain said, the difference between the almost right word and the right word is a big matter. It's a serious matter. It's like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. I think that -- look, they'll say this is a typo. I think to some degree we have to take their word for it. Not like I never made typos.

But two things I would say. One, I think it is a Freudian slip. I think there is a strain of people over there that wanted to word it as "has," as present tense. They felt that was stronger and probably more in keeping with the theme of Netanyahu's presentation. And number two, when you correct a statement like that, at least when I was in at the Pentagon and the State Department, not only do you repost it on the Web site, you send out an aggressive over e-mail to the press corps to say, we made a mistake, here is what the mistake is, here is where you can find the link to the new statement. And they didn't do that. They just reposted it.


KIRBY: I think that was a little bit shady.

BOLDUAN: Aaron, can I ask you, former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was speaking out this morning, on CBS, and about the Iran deal in general. Let me play it for you. Listen to this.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I wouldn't have signed this agreement to begin with. I've said that before. I think it was a weak agreement, particularly on verification. It allows Iran to break out after a specific period of time. I probably would have stayed in for alliance management reasons more than anything else. But I don't think that it is the end of the world if the administration leaves the agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: She doesn't think it is the end of the world if the administration leaves. Are the fears overblown?

MILLER: The end of the world? No. It is not the end of the world. You're dealing with a broken, angry, dysfunctional Middle East. You see the situation in Syria. You've got Arab regimes melting down in Yemen, in Libya. Iraq is more stable, but highly questionable whether it is a functioning state. No, it is not the end of the world. It just leaves -- it is going to leave the United States more isolated. It is going to afford the Russians and the Chinese more advantage. And right now, given the face-off between the Israelis and the Iranians in Syria, which is extremely worrisome, it is going to raise the question as -- about whether or not there are any constraints left on any actor. And this, I think, is not a good situation and at a very bad time.

And, finally, while I don't think it is going to affect Kim Jong-Un's calculations about whether to do a deal with Trump or not, it is going to provide him with an excuse if this heads south to basically walk away.

So, again, it is in the political interest of the president, but it is not in the collective national interest.

[11:44:25] BOLDUAN: And we should learn much more very soon.

Aaron, it's great to see you.

John, thank you so much. Great to see you.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive. New allegations against White House doctor, Ronny Jackson. This time, not coming from a Democrat. Stand by.


BOLDUAN: A CNN exclusive now. New allegations coming out about President Trump's former doctor and former nominee to head up the V.A., Dr. Ronny Jackson. New documents show that Vice President Pence's private doctor privately alerted the White House last year about an issue with Dr. Ronny Jackson.

CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, broke this story and he's joining me right now.

Manu, what happened?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, President Trump has contended that all this criticism against Ronny Jackson is nothing but short of vicious rumors. But we're learning for the first time that were these serious concerns about Jackson's conduct raised by Vice President Pence's doctor last September when the doctor wrote a series of very detailed memos that were provided to the vice president's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, and also the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, that we have now obtained at CNN. Now Pence's doctor accused Jackson at the time of violating patients'

private rights under the HIPPA law for Karen Pence, the second lady of the U.S., who had a medical situation last fall at Walter Reed Hospital. After Pence's doctor raised the alarms about the situation to senior officials and to Mrs. Pence, the doctor had two very contentious confrontations with Jackson. The physician said she was intimidated. She felt that he was engaging in, quote, "aggressive behavior" that made the physician feel uncomfortable and dismissed concerns that Mrs. Pence's privacy was violated, even suggesting, Jackson suggested that HIPPA didn't always have to be followed at the White House. This was in line with the allegations relayed to Jon Tester, that he raised publicly from the unnamed individuals that the White House has largely dismissed -- Kate?

[11:50:49] BOLDUAN: Wow. That's pretty amazing. We'll see what happens now.

Manu, great to see you. Thanks so much.

Coming up next, "I cannot go back to my country" -- that from just one woman, the first migrant to be processed at the U.S.-Mexico border, as she and many others are seeking asylum. But if the president says they're not welcome, what's going to happen? We'll take you there.


[11:55:21] BOLDUAN: The very first of hundreds of migrants who said they left home to escape violence in their home countries have started the process of applying for asylum in the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection are processing eight of the migrants who arrived after a months-long trip from Central America, through Mexico to the U.S.

CNN's senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, is there.

Kyung, what's the very latest?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I can tell you is the eight people who have begun their asylum process in the United States is a sign of hope for the people left here. There are about 100 migrants who are still here along the U.S./Mexican border. You can see that they're living under tarps. They're sleeping on blankets, on concrete. That's really the only blankets separating them from the pavement, Kate.

What those eight people represent to them is a sign of hope that they will actually begin to be able to have a life in the United States. But some perspective on this. Even though that is day one for those eight people, and we heard cheers in the crowd as that news was announced, it is going to take them years, approximately six years, to find the end, some sort of resolution for that asylum processing. There are about 620,000 people who have no resolution yet or are still waiting on the list, Kate.

So despite all of that, the people who are here, the children who are playing here, say they are not going to move, that they intend to wait here as long as possible for the hope of having a life in the United States -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Kyung, we'll continue to follow with you.

Thank you so much.

Today is also the day that President Trump's deal of aluminum tariffs were supposed to go into effect, but the president pushed the deal back 30 days to give the European Union, Canada and Mexico more time to try to negotiate a new deal. All of this is happening as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is part of a delegation heading to China to try to negotiate another trade deal.

CNN's money and politics correspondent, Cristina Alesci, sat down with the secretary and had a chance to speak with him.

Cristina, what did he say?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: The main objective in going to China is trying to close the gap between the amount of goods that the U.S. buys from China versus the amount of goods that it sells to China. Right now, that's $375 billion. The U.S. wants to cut that by $100 billion. China says no way. The problem is the two sides are very far apart going into these discussions right now and both of them are posturing like they have the upper hand. Listen.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're not looking to pick a fight. This is about trade disputes. This is about negotiating what's good for American companies and American workers. It's a one-sided deal. We buy over $500 billion of goods from them. They buy $135 billion from us.


ALESCI: They buy our currency. They lend us money.

MNUCHIN: Again, plenty of people can buy our treasuries. If they want to stop --


MNUCHIN: -- buying out treasuries. Again --

ALESCI: China is the largest holder of our debt.

MNUCHIN: I'm not concerned about that at all. Treasury securities are the most liquid securities in the world.


ALESCI: As you can hear, Kate, Mnuchin is very confident that China cannot retaliate.

Just to put this into perspective, though, China is the biggest holder of the U.S. debt. And if it wanted to retaliate and hurt the U.S. economy, all it has to do is not buy more U.S. debt at a time, by the way, when the U.S. is actually borrowing a lot more money to pay for tax cuts. So in that sense, many economists and people on Wall Street are very concerned that China could hurt us. It could drive up borrowing costs, make it more expensive, and really halt the growth, and work against the administration's objectives of getting to that 3 percent and 4 percent target that it wants to hit -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Cristina, also, on the issue of tariffs, you have Mnuchin heading over. But included in that delegation are top folks that don't agree on tariffs. You've got Kudlow, who is anti-tariff. You've got Peter Navarro, who is pro-tariff. What kind of message will they be taking?

ALESCI: That's a very interesting dynamic, Kate. And you are very right, there are disagreements. But right now, the administration is fixated on showing a unified front. They are all swimming in the same direction at least publicly. How things play out behind the scenes is a big question mark. I actually did push Mnuchin several times on this point, and he was not willing to show any of his cards on that front.

But you're right, there are very big disagreements on that team, and how this gets resolved, and whether or not the president will stay off Twitter and stop antagonizing the Chinese is also a big question.

BOLDUAN: That is probably the largest unknown of anything as they head over to China for these negotiations.

Cristina, thanks so much. Thank you for bringing us that interview.

And thank you all so much for joining me.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.