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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Defamation Case Against President Trump; Trump vs Ford. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired September 10, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUMMER ZERVOS, PLAINTIFF: He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Then candidate Trump pushed back on Twitter and on the campaign trail.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These allegations are 100 percent false.
JONES: Under the agreement, the president will provide -- quote -- "written answers and objections to questions" submitted by Zervos' lawyers by September 28.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I expect a lot of very embarrassing questions for the president of the United States.
JONES: For his part, Trump is appealing the ruling that allowed this case to proceed, arguing he should immune from prosecution in state court and that the case would conflict with his official duties.
Meanwhile, in California, Trump and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, both moved over the weekend to rescind the now infamous $130,000 hush agreement reached with porn star Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election, now claiming the deal wasn't valid. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued to be released from the contract, in which she agreed to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.
Daniels is also suing both men for defamation. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a response today, opposing the potential dismissal of the hush money lawsuit and blasting the latest moves by Trump and Cohen, telling CNN after Cohen's filing:
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: The bottom line here is, is that this man, Donald Trump, does not want to sit down and have to answer any questions under oath. And if I was in his shoes, I probably wouldn't want to do that either, in light of the facts and the evidence.
JONES: So there you heard Michael Avenatti arguing that this case should still -- he argues this case with the hush agreement should still go forward.
Of course, Daniels is already suing the president and Michael Cohen for defamation. So those are separate cases. And one more note on the Summer Zervos case. While it is significant the president has agreed to sit down and answer questions under oath, written questions, it's also important to note that he reserves the right to object to the questions that Zervos' lawyers ask, which means we could still see more litigation over whether these questions are proper and appropriate.
So this case still has a long way to go -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Athena Jones, thanks very much.
I'm curious, Angela. The president seems to be consolidating here a bit, right? Agreeing to give written answers here, dissolving, in effect, the NDA regarding Stormy Daniels, another woman with alleged involvement with him. Is that the strategy, does it seem? To kind of limit the number of battles he's fighting?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, that would be interesting, considering he regularly starts battles every single day on Twitter. So I don't know if that's the case.
SCIUTTO: And he's not tweeting about this one.
RYE: Yes. And I wonder why. Right? This is one that I think maybe some reasonable advisers, as you counseled earlier, Kristen, have been effective here.
What I think is astonishing is that, in any other circumstance, someone with nearly -- or actually over 20 accusers in the sexual assault, sexual harassment realm would have been a poster child for MeToo.
Somehow, Donald Trump skirted any responsibility for that. So I wonder at this point if a strategy for some of the accusers will be to continue to come forward with defamation cases. That's the strategy I'm interested in.
SCIUTTO: In the numbers, and this has been acknowledged, but you see these in our latest polling, problem with women voters. We already talked about his low approval among all voters, but 36 percent approval, among women, just 29 percent. On honesty, only 21 percent of women believe he's more honest than other politicians, already low in the 30s for the whole pot, men and women, but 21 percent for women.
Looking to the midterms, David and Kristen, how big a concern is that for the president? Because in the special elections, in many special elections, it has been women voters that have often turned things against the president and his party.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
Look, again, very troubling, if you're in a suburban district, right, where these numbers are obviously more troubling, suburban Philadelphia, suburban Chicago, Boston. Any place there is suburbs, you tend to have lots of problems. So the numbers are bad.
But, again, snapshot in time, 60 days out, not saying they're going to get tremendously better, but there's always -- there's always room for improvement. And, you know, I would counsel the president, talk about the economy. Talk about your accomplishments. Focus on those things much more moving forward from now and for the rest of your presidency, right?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When Donald Trump was elected, he was not elected to be America's sort of national chief Boy Scout.
When you looked at the exit polls, you saw a lot of voters that said, I don't like this guy. I don't think he's a good person. But I nonetheless am going to vote for him.
I think the question is, how long can you sustain that? How long can you sustain people saying, I don't really like you, I don't think you're a person of good character, but I guess you will bring needed change to Washington?
Like, at a certain point, I think your luck starts to run out.
URBAN: I think the only numbers that may be lower than this are the congressional approval numbers, right? If you look at the congressional approval numbers, they're in the basement, right?
SCIUTTO: Across the body, you're right.
SCIUTTO: People tend to like their individual congressmen.
URBAN: So you like your congressman.
And so I think, you know, to kind of amplify that, people are disgusted with Washington. They don't like any of this. They don't like us sitting around this table.
SCIUTTO: Let's be fair.
URBAN: I think they're repulsed by the whole thing.
SCIUTTO: Women do not have a low approval of this president just because they're disgusted...
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. It's typically about the things he has said and done.
URBAN: No, I understand. I'm not talking about women. I'm talking just overall generally. Right?
That's what made this presidency possible. Right? When Barack Obama got up and started talking about, you know, all of these bad things, it was a reaction to eight years of Obama presidency.
SANDERS: Hold on, now. No.
SANDERS: I just want to be clear. What happened, Donald Trump being elected president was a culmination of a lot of things that also -- that included some racism, that included some downturns for some people in the economy, that included lots of things.
But President Obama dug this country out of a proverbial economic ditch. And the reason we have the opportunity to celebrate these great economic numbers we have is because President Obama did his work.
It's absolutely true. And I will say about the women, though, Jim, it is really important that folks understand that this election will be decided by women, will be decided by black women, will be decided by these white suburban women. And that is the key here.
And the fact that a lot of women do not like, not just like -- don't -- dislike the president, but a lot of women are concerned about what they're seeing from Congress. A lot of women are stepping up. Those folks are going to be the drivers to the polls. And I think that's where Congress will be met with their judgment day.
URBAN: I do think you see that in these two big upsets so far to date, right? You have had women of color kind of stepping forward.
SANDERS: We have always been there, though. I want to be clear now. We have always been.
URBAN: But I'm saying, you really do see that. Right? The folks who are very energized. Right? And started out their careers in the Obama administration, are now kind of coming to age as elected officials.
SANDERS: Ayanna Pressley was a city council woman.
SANDERS: None of them started in Obama. Maybe me.
URBAN: Listen, who were motivated by the Obama administration. That's what my point is. They were motivated by the Obama presidency. Right?
They got involved in politics. And now have kind of coming of Running. City council. Moving their way up. Right? And so I do accept your point, well-taken.
SCIUTTO: Let's give Angela a final word.
RYE: Yes, sorry.
Just quickly, when you talk about Andrew Gillum, he was in elected office right out of college before the Obama presidency. When you talk about Ayanna Pressley, to Symone's point, again, before the Obama presidency.
When you talk Stacey Abrams, again, minority leader during Obama presidency, but was elected before then. So I think the narrative here is a little different. People are just finally starting to wake up.
SCIUTTO: Listen, there's more to talk about. Clearly, as you say, women voters are going to have a big role to play in this election and the next one.
Coming up: a rare move from the White House, admitting something President Trump touted on Twitter was wrong. That's next.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
President Trump yet again trying to meddle in the free market, this time taking aim at Ford, suggesting the auto giant should now make one of their cars here in the U.S., instead of importing it from China because of the steep tariffs imposed on Beijing.
Ford firing back immediately, saying it makes no sense to make the car in the U.S., due to lack of domestic demand.
Want to get right to CNN's Tom Foreman.
Tom, a top White House economic adviser responded today to the president's comments?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, and he effectively said, look, this president has strong opinions about everything, and that is helping his economic policies work for America.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN (voice-over): The Ford Focus Active is a crossover vehicle which was set to be built in China and sold in the U.S. Now Ford says tariffs pushed by President Trump have made that plan too expensive. They're canceling the China plant, and Trump, who once raged at Ford for offshoring jobs:
TRUMP: It's a disgrace. It's disgraceful.
FOREMAN: ... is tweeting triumph. "This is just the beginning. This car can now be built in the USA."
But hold on, Ford officials say. Despite still producing the vast majority of their vehicles in the U.S., they are not going to put that China plant closer to home or even offer that car to Americans.
"It would not be profitable, given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units."
TRUMP: The forgotten men and women of our country are forgotten no more.
FOREMAN: Trump has long promised he could deliver for blue-collar workers, saying he would spur big names like Ford, Harley-Davidson and Apple to create many for jobs domestically.
TRUMP: Apple will start building factories and plants in this country, and will make their products in the United States, instead of China, Vietnam and all sorts of other countries.
FOREMAN: And blue-collar jobs are growing faster than they have in more than 30 years, according a new analysis by "The Washington Post" and data from Brookings Institute. That's especially true and helpful in many small towns and rural areas, where Trump's base is concentrated.
But many industry leaders say this is largely a result of economic trends started under President Barack Obama, and they worry that Trump's tariffs will ultimately lead to fewer jobs and less wealth for everyone.
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: What I have seen over my lifetime is that countries that embrace openness, that embrace trade, that embrace diversity are the countries that do exceptional. And the countries that don't, don't.
FOREMAN: Simply put, the president wants his tariffs to force foreign countries and domestic companies to bend to his will.
But economic experts say trade arrangements are a lot more complicated than that and this spat with Ford underscores, it doesn't always work out the way the President hopes or claims it will. Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tom Foreman, thanks very much. Kristen, this is a Republican president attacking a free market company here. It's something he's done before sometimes it seems with political motivations that this one perhaps difference of opinion over tariffs. Should a president be doing that?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, as someone who likes free markets I'm not a big fan of President telling companies what they should or shouldn't be producing. I think the market should drive these things. But this is one of the sort of bizarre, these oddities of the moment of Trump being the leader of the Republican Party that it sort of exposed that an awful lot of Republican voters may have for awhile talked about loving the free market but at the end of the day are sort of willing to set that aside in service of other goals.
SCIUTTO: Well, if you look, we talked about this a bit before so -- in what was a really devastating poll for the President on a number of fronts, approval, trustworthiness, etcetera, the one place he gets a pretty high numbers is 49 percent on the economy, not about 50 percent but certainly higher than foreign affairs there, immigration, foreign trade. David, how much council -- consolation do you take you can see in that figure there at a time when listen, the economic numbers were spectacular?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, the economic numbers are spectacular. The president should continue to tout it. You know, I take exception here. We talk about increasing real wages, you know what increases real wages, more jobs, more manufacturing jobs in America. You can't have it both ways in America. You can't want to have increased real wages, substantive increase in wage numbers by -- and at the same time continue to produce things offshore, right? What's the number one input component, number one factor for having cheaper goods made overseas labor costs.
So if you want to have increased wages, you have to have factories in America. This can't all be service jobs, right? We can't just all be sitting behind the desk and typing things, we need to make things. And to make things in this country, if you make things in this country, people's wages will increase and that's what this president is fighting for.
SANDERS: So we need to make things, we need more trades, more emphasis on trade, more --
URBAN: Right, absolutely.
SANDERS: Absolutely. I agree with that. You know, I'm someone who believed in well, free and fair trade and that you know America's trade policy has not necessarily been the best service to American workers. But the problem is what we're seeing particularly with the tariffs um and what Ford is siding with their numbers, what we're seeing with what farmers are saying about their rising costs and the struggles that they are having is it's the result of Donald Trump's trade policy.
And so the President has brought this upon himself and I think it's a result of his convoluted trade policy. I think -- I think -- I think he has tried to bully companies and individuals to do things that if not boding well for American workers. And so the American workers are the ones that are losing out in this. The gamble is you're going to play with American workers, you're going to play with their livelihood, their lives you're playing. You're playing with farmers from Nebraska and Iowa, all across the Midwest.
URBAN: Listen, there's only so many places in the world that people can buy grain right? The Chinese can't build -- they can't make it. The Japanese can't grow it. So they have to buy from America at some point. Listen, the question is do people -- are people in America willing to pay something that says made in the USA. Will you pay a little bit more for that? I think --
SANDERS: Will the President?
URBAN: Listen, it's interesting -- and it's interesting --
SCIUTTO: Well, the company --
URBAN: And it's interesting on NAFTA you have a very, very progressive leftist center president coming into office in Mexico who has the same goals as this president, right, increase wages for Mexican workers.
SCIUTTO: One issue because, Angela, is the issue of our blue-collar workers making it. Are they sharing in the economic growth to degree that they should? Washington Post at a story today that shows that those numbers are increasing. What are your thoughts on those numbers?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So a few things. I think what is maddening to me is this talk about this guy you know, being for the American worker but regularly you see the Republican Party now the face of that party Donald Trump with a massive attack against labor unions. You see someone who says I'm for the blue-collar worker but four in ten Americans per this latest poll cannot afford to pay their basic bills and make ends meet. So if you're really for American workers, the test is not convoluting and by messing with trade policy it's just raising wages.
And when he had the operative opportunity to do that for federal workers, he's shown that opportunity as well. Is it -- unlike different presidents, no, but he was supposed to be different from other presidents. I think the other reality of it is if he's really for the American worker, for blue-collar workers there's a study that (INAUDIBLE) put out on the race class narrative, you can also be building bridges --
URBAN: Are you saying federal workers are blue collar workers?
RYE: There are some federal workers who are blue collar workers. I worked on Capitol Hill and I work and say hello to some every single day.
[16:50:01] URBAN: And how much of the federal workforce is a blue- collar worker?
RYE: There are a number of them especially in state, especially in state.
URBAN: You can give me those numbers. I'd like to know the number of --
RYE: But you know what's unfortunate you're doing, David, right now, the fact that you would trivialize some --
URBAN: I'm not trivializing.
RYE: That's what you're basically you're doing.
URBAN: No, I'm not.
RYE: You're discrediting it.
URBAN: I'm discrediting your thesis.
RYE: I know that you want to pick -- you want to pick this apart because this point that I'm making doesn't bode well for your president, but the reality is --
URBAN: No, it doesn't convey the truth.
RYE: It is the truth. And he is -- he is regularly working active --
SCIUTTO: Let's talk about the truth -- let's talk about the truth if we can on economic numbers because the President was caught in an untruth today, a tweet -- he tweeted this morning that the GDP rate 4.2 percent is higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in over 100 years. His own White House had to correct that this afternoon because in fact there had been more than 60 times in the last several decades when that happened. They corrected, Kristen, to say well, actually the -- you know, it's really just in the last 10 years here.
I mean, it's one of these cases where listen, the number by itself is good enough. You don't have to claim it's the greatest in history. And by doing that undermines his own economic argument.
ANDERSON: Right because then it makes the story about the are you honest and trustworthy piece and not the how is the economy doing pieces which in this poll that we've been talking about for the last hour, we know that's not the ground that you want to be on. So I think look, if people were not feeling themselves like the economy was getting better, we see that in this poll lots of people are not fans of this president.
So there are an awful lot of people who don't really like him but are nonetheless willing to say but you know what, things are kind of going OK for me economically by making it about some fact that is not a fact, it takes it away from the Trump message.
SCIUTTO: The remarkable thing is the economy is doing well and this is a historically low approval rating precedent here. I mean, where do you -- where do you -- you can't lay that at the feet of Bob Woodward. I mean, you have to lay that at the feet of this President, do you not?
URBAN: I'm not laying in the feet. So again, Kristen said, right, nobody elect this president to be warm and fuzzy. They elected him to get stuff done. To come to D.C. break China --
SCIUTTO: Yes, but these figures are not about warm and fuzzy, they speak to his respect for the rule of law, his trustworthiness, etcetera. That's more important than warm and fuzzy.
URBAN: Overall likability, right? If you broke it down over --
ANDERSON: It's his credibility.
SCIUTTO: Respectability and credibility.
URBAN: But if you ask is he getting the job done?
SANDERS: No. Many people would say no. And you will find out in 57 day how true that really is.
URBAN: You will, right? But again, you'll find out in 2020 how true that is. Donald Trump is out running.
SANDERS: Let's get over the midterms first. Let's do the midterms first.
SCIUTTO: We'll be watching both. Unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it there. We were just moments away from our next update on the monstrous storm that is heading towards the East Coast including us here in Washington. The latest details from the National Hurricane Center, that's next.
[16:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is breaking news.
SCIUTTO: Breaking news now. A brand-new update on Hurricane Florence. Just into CNN, the system exploding, going from a Category One to a Category Four hurricane. This in just 24 hours and it is still gaining strength and on track to take a direct hit on the east coast. Florence could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Carolinas in 30 years. Hatteras Island on North Carolina's outer banks is now under mandatory evacuations. More evacuations will begin tomorrow.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, she's at the CNN severe weather center. Allison, tell us what's happening here. I mean, it's getting bigger, it's getting stronger.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. We've seen those sustained winds jump up about ten miles per hour with this latest advisory. Still, a Category Four, and the important thing to note is we still expect it to be a Category Four at landfall, somewhere between Virginia and South Carolina. Rain is going to be the biggest concern with this particular storm. We are talking about widespread amounts at the area around landfall to be about six to 12 inches of rain.
However, it is not out of the question for some of these areas to pick up 20 if not even 30 inches of rain, because the system is expected to stall out. However, this is not going to be the only impact that we have for this area. The key thing to note, we talk about Virginia to South Carolina being the key area for landfall. But really, anywhere from Florida to Massachusetts, you are going to have impacts in the form of rip currents, strong winds and even beach erosion.
SCIUTTO: Now, the last Category Four to hit the Carolinas at least, that was Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. I can still remember it. Does this Florence look similar?
CHINCHAR: Similar, but not at the same time. So here's a look. This pink line here was the track that Hurricane Hugo hit. It technically made landfall over South Carolina, whereas most of the models are favoring Florence to be more of a North Carolina landfall. The real emphasis here, though, is that when Hugo made landfall, it exited quickly, making its way up towards Canada. Florence is not expected to do that, Jim. And that's going to be the big concern why we have so much rainfall because it's expected to make landfall and then sit there for days.
SCIUTTO: And if -- and I assume that even though it's hitting in the Carolinas, that folks up here in Washington, further up the east coast, they're going to feel some effects of this in rainfall, et cetera.
CHINCHAR: That's right. And the one thing for people who aren't familiar with Washington, D.C., you guys have had plenty of rain. So that ground is already completely saturated, even if D.C. only gets, say, four to eight inches of rain. You have to understand, that's going to have big impacts, not only for flooding, but that ground is already loose. It won't take much of a wind to start knocking trees down and triggering power outages.
SCIUTTO: Allison Chinchar, thanks very much for the update. You can follow me on Twitter and -- @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.