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CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Sarah Sanders Says She Is an Honest Person; Giuliani Says Melania Believes Her Husband; Daniels Sues Ex-Attorney and Cohen For A Cover Up; Police Chase Soldier in Armored Vehicle. Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media's and in large part that's because you guys spend more of your time focusing on attacking the president instead of reporting the news. I think if you spent a little more time reporting the news instead of trying to tear me down, you might see we're working hard to provide you good information and provide that same information to the American people.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Margaret, you just want the truth.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. As a White House reporter and in my role with the Correspondents Association, I'll say that reporters and the American public ask questions to put answers on the record and they serve as news and also a first draft of history. And any press secretary knows their credibility is paramount and incredibly important.

We appreciate Sarah Sanders' efforts to work with us behind the scenes to press on access on this upcoming Singapore summit, her proximity to the president is incredibly important and her statements from the podium are incredibly important also. We've seen in the past at some point when she realizes that the story was different, or the facts were different, we have seen her come back and acknowledge that from the podium. I think that's important in the cases, even when you gave the information which you believe to be true at the time, when the information changes it's important to correctly record.

BALDWIN: Sarah Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will be on "CHRIS CUOMO TONIGHT" on his primetime show. Do not miss at 9:00 this evening here on CNN. President Trump just praised EPA Chief Scott Pruitt despite a number of scandals circling him right now, first class travel, millions on a security detail, a used mattress from a Trump Hotel and whether he used aides to help get a Chick-Fil-A franchise, we're back with that next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: First Lady Melania Trump has just made her first appearance before the media for the first time in 26 days since May 10th. Shortly before she underwent a kidney procedure. The president acknowledged his wife just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First we have to start with our great first lady, Melania. Thank you, Melania. She went through a little rough patch but she's doing great. We're very proud of her. She's done a fantastic job as first lady. The people love you. People of our country love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The president and first lady were at FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the new hurricane season, which started five days ago. There's in Quinnipiac Poll out that shows Melania Trump has a higher approval rating than most administration officials, including her husband. Kate Bennett was in the room. Of course, she follows all things Melania Trump for us. Kate, 26 days without being in the public eye. Did she say anything, speak up at the event? What were your initial impressions?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: She looked well, Brooke. She seemed much herself wearing her coat dress and high heels as she does. She did not say anything. She sat quietly, nodded along as listened as the president spoke to member of his cabinet at that FEMA briefing. We didn't hear from her personally.

I did see her later, though, in a room in FEMA when the president and first lady and vice president Mike Pence came down to thank FEMA workers, she did sort of work the room, shake hands, make eye contact, stuff that she's done before at public events. It's not unusual for her not to necessarily speak. We've seen her at these hurricane recovery briefings last year after the hurricanes sitting mostly quietly by the president's side as a briefing is received. So not unusual but have I to say she looked well and seemed very much like her old self. There was no resort of outward appearance that she'd been ill or anything like that.

BALDWIN: Of course, we wish her well. You know, 26 days, why do you think she selected this particular event to be out there?

BENNETT: Well, I think the hurricane season last year really affected the first lady as it did most of the country. She was with the president in Florida, In Texas and in Puerto Rico. She returned to Texas on her own to Corpus Christi with second lady Karen Pence to unveil a FEMA trailer and unpack boxes at a food bank and pop by Whataburger, we remember that well. She reminded Americans to be vigilant and support people who lost things and encouraging people to donate their time and volunteer. It appears to be something that she's very interested in and went along today.

BALDWIN: We've just gotten some news on Rudy Giuliani. He's one of the president's lawyers now. He's at this conference in Tel Aviv. He just told this crowd that Melania Trump does not believe that her husband had an affair with Stormy Daniels. This is the quote from Rudy Giuliani. She believes her husband and she doesn't think it's true. Thoughts?

[15:40:00] BENNETT: Well, I mean, the first lady has never commented publicly in the face of all the Stormy Daniels headlines and quite honestly, Brooke, I feel like the American public has sort of rewarded her for that with these poll numbers which keep going up and up in the face of her silence. I asked her office for comment on Mr. Giuliani's comments, they have not gotten back. It's difficult to say whether or not Mr. Giuliani was basing his statements off of fact or thinking out loud. It's certainly not a topic that the first lady has touched. It's difficult to say whether or not Mr. Giuliani was basing his statements off of fact or thinking out loud. It's certainly not a topic that the first lady has touched.

BALDWIN: Kate Bennett at the White House. Thank you. Speaking of Stormy Daniels, we have some breaking news involving the adult actress in a new lawsuit she's just filed against the president's former attorney Michael Cohen and another attorney, Keith Davidson who initially represented Stormy Daniels when she agreed to that $130,000 hush agreement that prevented her from discussing an alleged affair with Donald Trump. MJ Lee is with me live on this. Tell me more.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So here is the lawsuit that was filed by Stormy Daniels in Los Angeles earlier today. It is 11 pages long. Let just walk you through. There are a lot of lawsuits involving Stormy Daniels these days. Let me walk you through what this one is about. She is suing her former lawyer, Keith Davidson, as well as president Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen for what she says is an act of collusion and the two men acting in concert to manipulate her and to benefit Trump. Now, as the lawsuit lays out, it claims that the two men worked together as recently as January of 2018, texting each other when they realized that there would be a story coming out in "In Touch" magazine detailing Stormy Daniels' alleged affair with Donald Trump dating back to 2006.

Now, the text messages show that this is a direct quote, "Mr. Cohen immediately colluded with Mr. Davidson in an attempt to manipulate Miss Clifford," Stephanie Clifford is of course her legal name, "in a manner designed to benefit Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump."

One detail from the text messages is that it appears the two men tried to get her a spot-on Sean Hannity's program on Fox News, so she could go on and deny the details of the affair. It appears that didn't happen. You see between the back and forth of the text messages Cohen at some points getting very frustrated at Davidson for not being able to make this happen.

The bigger picture and the significance of this is that Michael Avenatti, the current lawyer for Stormy Daniels, his strategy has been very clear. He has wanted to argue with the public that Trump and the people close to Trump, namely Michael Cohen, that he has not been honest with the public and they want to show that there was something nefarious going on, that if a lawyer -- when you hire a lawyer, they are supposed to represent your interests and your interests only. Why would Keith Davidson who is supposed to be representing Stormy Daniels be secretly speaking with Michael Cohen to try to prevent this story from coming out?

BALDWIN: Stay with me, MJ you have this 11-page lawsuit in your hands. We'll get an attorney to weigh in on this when we get back. Quick break. Back to our breaking news after this. [15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We are back with our breaking news here involving Stormy Daniels and this new lawsuit she has just filed both against the president's former attorney Michael Cohen and one of her former attorneys, Keith Davidson, who had represented her years ago when she had agreed to that hush payment, that $130,000 that had prevented her from discussing her alleged affair with the now president of the United States. So, I have with me Norm Eisen, attorney, former White House ethics czar and MJ Lee back with me. Norm Eisen, MJ just laid it out but what does this sort of lawsuit accomplish?

NORM EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Brooke, thanks for having me back. You know, the relentless nature of Stormy Daniels' legal attack and that of her attorney Michael Avenatti continues. This lawsuit opens a new front. Mr. Avenatti was blocked from appearing in the New York matter related to the Cohen file.

So, what he's done is he's gone to court in California, he's sued Cohen and Stormy's former lawyer, Davidson, in state court there, and he's revealed a lot of communications between Davidson and Cohen that seem to suggest that instead of helping Stormy, her lawyer was working with Cohen. That's the allegation. So, he's opened a new front in the legal battle. And we're far, far from the end of this war.

BALDWIN: Right. So, two things. One, let me just read this statement. This is from Stormy Daniels' current attorney Michael Avenatti. He said the text messages show the prior denies by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen relating to what Mr. Trump knew and about the honesty of my client were absolute lies. There was a significant coverup here as part of an attempt to deceive the American people and Mrs. Trump and we intend on getting to the bottom of it. Before we continue on, just big picture and MJ, you were reminding me, Keith Davidson, the original attorney of Stormy Daniels represented Karen McDougal and another former Playmate, and he had worked with Michael Cohen in both of those case cases.

[15:50:00] LEE: Right. I think when you have at least three cases that we are now aware of where the two men for whatever reason were involved in all of them, I think Michael Avenatti wants to use to make the case there is at least a pattern of behavior. I also asked him in addition to the statement you just read from Michael Avenatti, I said how did you get the text messages and he said we obtained them after months of pressuring Mr. Davidson to turn them over and he continues to withhold information from us, including more text messages. So, trying to suggest here that there could be more communication that could be potentially damning that we don't even have our hands on yet. And he is going to continue, this is a certainty hammering Michael Cohen at a moment of real vulnerability. In addition to all of this of course keep in mind he is under a criminal investigation right now. There was a big raid earlier this year where investigators took thousands of pages of documents from his hotel room, his office and his home, so he knows that he is under fire right now.

And of course, all of this, I have to mention, we are talking a lot about First Lady Melania Trump as well. Going through these text messages that are included in the lawsuit, the First Lady is actually mentioned, in March 2018, Michael Cohen appears to say to Keith Davidson, I am with FLOTUS, give me a minute. This is when Keith Davidson asked him are you calling? And he says, not yet, because I am with the First Lady of the United States.

So, I think we talk about all of this, the lawsuit and the legal implications are all complicated, but we also have to keep in mind that this is a family matter as well.

BALDWIN: It is a family matter. And of course, as we were just talking to Kate Bennett we heard the comments from Rudy Giuliani over in Israel a little bit ago. I mean this is something that obviously the First Lady and the First Lady's office have not at all commented on. But Mr. Ambassador back over to you, listen, we know that Michael Cohen is the fixer, right. This is a guy who said he would take a bullet for the president of the United States. And if he has been in the president's orbit for a number of years and this is the if, and this has yet to be proven, but if the allegation is that there was some sort of nefarious behavior, behavior that did not benefit Stormy Daniels in that particular case, and there are multiple cases involving Michael Cohen. Especially even being investigated for criminality at the moment. What does this speak to in a broader sense?

EISEN: The golden egg is the treasure, is in those files, that are being now reviewed in New York. There sure to be the possibility of additional corroboration for this case. The other two cases that we know about that Davidson and Cohen worked on, and who knows what else. So, it may very well be that what's in this complaint is the tip of the iceberg for Cohen, and you know this complaint is a relatively small worry. Cohen's willingness to take a bullet for Trump is going to be tested because I think having done this for almost 30 years, every time when DOJ has seized attorney's files as I have seen, and it is very rare, met that internal threshold within the Department of Justice. The attorney gets indicted.

It's harder to get permission within DOJ and then from a judge to do those subpoenas than it is to get some convictions. So, Cohen is going to be tested and the big picture here is another pressure point for him. Is he going to flip on President Trump? And when he does, boy, these texts with Mr. Davidson, bad as they are, and they do look bad, President Trump likes to say no collusion. This does look like a substantial allegation let's say, we don't want to prejudge. A substantial allegation that Davidson and Cohen were colluding to harm Miss Daniels, that's what's alleged in the complaint. But that's going to seem small when it comes time for Cohen to decide is he going to cooperate against the president? What does he have?

[15:55:00] So this is really focused on those files where the answers to all of this may lie, this case gives Avenatti and Daniels another way to attack those files and lay a claim to what's in there.

BALDWIN: Again, from Avenatti's significant cover-up he says to deceive the American people and were going to get to the bottom of it. To be continued. Ambassador Norm Eisen and MJ Lee, thank you both so much. Coming up next, one week after Kim Kardashian visited the White House, Trump commutes the sentence of the woman she was advocating for an CNN has learned dozens more pardons may be on the way.

[16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A White House contractor arrived to work and has been put under arrest on an attempted murder charge. Secret Service officers arrested Martese Edwards Tuesday outside of the White House complex. A source tells CNN that the 30-year-old was working for the National Security Council but had no access to the West Wing, and he would have undergone daily security screenings.

Before we go, the most insane video of the day, this National Guard soldier driving a stolen military vehicle leading police on two-hour chase. You don't see this every day. Police say the first Lieutenant stole the armored vehicle last night from Fort Pickett in Virginia. Not high-speed, keep in mind the vehicle can only go about 40 miles an hour. Investigators say the vehicle which belongs to the Virginia National Guard was not equipped with weapons. The soldier stopped in downtown Richmond and then surrendered. Police arrested him for driving under the influence of drugs. He was also charged with eluding police and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

So, there is that for you in Virginia. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much for being with me here today, we'll see you tomorrow. In the meantime, to Washington we go, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.