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Gun Battle in Sri Lanka; Trump Defends Response to White Nationalist Violence; Biden Addresses Criticisms of His Past Behavior; Measles Quarantine Issued at Two California Universities; Michael Avenatti Addresses Fraud, Extortion Allegations; Kim Jong-un's Polished Summit with Vladimir Putin. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A hideout raided: police in Sri Lanka search the home of a suspected terrorist and find what could be bombmaking items.

And U.S. president doubling down: Donald Trump once again defending his controversial comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

And campus quarantine: two universities in Los Angeles order a measles quarantine to try to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM starts now.

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HOWELL: At 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, we start with the breaking news out of Sri Lanka, where explosions and a gun battle in Sri Lanka have left at least 16 people dead. The latest bloodshed was in a home, where terrorists detonated three bombs as security forces approached.

After the blasts, 16 people lay dead; six of them were children. All of this is less than a week after the Easter Sunday massacre. CNN's Sam Kiley is live in Sri Lanka.

And Sam, I understand you had an opportunity to be near, to visit that place where the raid took place?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're right outside that house, George. This is the scene where most of the people died. There is one male body on the roof, the result of an explosion.

Inside, I have to tell you, the scene is extremely unpleasant. There are large number of charred bodies, six of them children, three women. And that is a consequence of a gas bottle exploding combined with what the police say were at least three detonations possibly involving grenades, certainly involving a very substantial blast. The whole roof of the house has been taken off.

But George, there is a connection, a direct connection between the events here and the events last Sunday, Easter Sunday. And it goes to this rifle here. This is the rifle that Mohammed Nasri was holding when he was shot in the street by Sri Lankan forces. He is the brother-in-law law of Zahran Hashim, who not only was one of the suicide bombers at the Shangri-La hotel but is also the spiritual leader of the group here. We went on his trail and this is our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KILEY (voice-over): Identified as the spiritual leader of the group behind the Sri Lankan Easter massacres, authorities now say he died in one of the suicide attacks.

Zahran Hashim shown here in images released by ISIS. He practiced what he preached, here telling followers that all non-Muslims should be killed.

His murderous ideology put down routes here in a Muslim town on the island's east. Local Muslims say the seeds came from the Gulf region.

Sri Lankan police say more suspects are at large and people here are so fearful of the radical ideology that no one will appear on camera. This Sufi community says it's borne the brunt of resistance against what they say is an infection of extremist ideology imported from the Gulf and reinforced with a lot of extra money.

They say that this is resulted in violence against them, their homes have been burned, their offices have been machine gunned in a clash of their supporters and those of Zahran Hashim.

Resulted in his arrest and later in him going into hiding. That was two years ago. But Sufis as practitioners of mystical Islam remain afraid. Zahran Hashim founded this mosque. He recruited followers here until he was expelled for inciting violence. And went underground.

We've been to the offices, the home of the director, nobody is talking to us. Indeed locals are afraid to speak to us too. But they say that youngsters love coming here because they can't speak the Arabic of Quran. They come here for an interpretation. They say the problem is that that interpretation is an extremist.

He somehow made contacts with an ISIS member now arrested in India. He told Indian intelligence of his plot to kill tourists and Christians.

These details were relayed to Sri Lanka --

[04:05:00]

KILEY (voice-over): -- in April. His name appears in a Sri Lankan police alert on April the 11th.

His brother now on the run is also identified in the police memo as a plotter, we traced his address. The brothers name is on the water bill.

Again and again we are encountering people who knew Zahran our new his brother. This family and other neighbors have confirmed that they did live in the house just down the road here.

They're saying they were very, very unpleasant neighbors and there were altercations between the adults in Zahran household and some of the children here, these children were hit. He continued to preach online and somehow recruited wealthy followers in the capital as suicide bombers.

M. AZATH SALLEY, SRI LANKAN PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR: He's the guy who is giving them the ideology and when he talks to people, they get convinced.

KILEY: This is his last video appearance moments before he detonated one of the two bombers who killed many in Shangri La hotel. He was caught on CCTV but Sri Lankan authorities have no explanation of how a notorious salesman of violence was not caught in person.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KILEY: So just to break down those figures more accurately, 15 people were killed here, among them nine civilians and six believed to be terrorists. One civilian also killed when she was in a vehicle during the gun battle and mistaken for a possible suicide bomber.

HOWELL: Sam Kiley, following the story for us in Sri Lanka. Thank you.

Back here in the United States, President Trump is hosting Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe at the White House this weekend. It is Abe's third visit to the White House in two years. He's also stayed twice at the president's resort in Florida, a clear sign of the importance Japan attaches to its relationship with the United States.

But Mr. Trump is also focused on re-election. The former vice president, Joe Biden, is now running for the Democratic nomination and slamming Donald Trump's initial response to the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters back in Charlottesville. Here is what the president said at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. You had is this very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people. On both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: On Friday Mr. Trump claimed that he was referring only to a very specific group of people. Here's what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I've answered that question. And if you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly.

And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals.

I have spoken to many generals here, right at the White House, and many people thought -- of the generals, they think that he was maybe their favorite general.

People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt is joining us, she teaches government at the University of Essex.

Good to have you with us.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me on.

HOWELL: So Joe Biden made it clear his focus is on President Trump and in that opening video announcing his candidacy, he used Charlottesville as the centerpiece. We hear Mr. Trump responding to that and that phrase that he used about "fine people on both sides."

Do you see this as Mr. Trump clarifying, some might argue revising what he said in those comments in that news conference?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, that is definitely not what he said the first time. He never really mentioned Robert E. Lee or monuments. He had just basically said that there were very bad people on both sides and that there were also fine people on both sides.

And after Charlottesville, this was the low point of his approval ratings across the nation. And the entire public disapproved of this. But actually when you looked at the base itself, there was a poll taken right afterwards, 30 percent actually thought that equally the liberals and equally the neo-Nazis were to blame for the violence and even further 10 percent thought the liberals were to blame for the violence.

So though that the general public, the mood was pretty low after this statement he made, his base felt that it is a little more --

[04:10:00]

LINDSTAEDT: -- complicated. And he is again seeking out to his base when he makes comments about Robert E. Lee. There are still a majority of Americans that support the monuments. These numbers are declining but feels that these comments resonate with those voters that will vote for him, though it totally turns off Democrats and independents. He is really trying to appeal to his base when he makes these kind of statements about the monuments, about Robert E. Lee.

HOWELL: Natasha, the question though here, you are seeing Joe Biden, certainly enter the race, enter the conversation this Charlottesville piece.

Is Joe Biden getting under President Trump's skin here?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, he does know how to get under Trump's skin and he is probably the candidate that Trump fears the most in entering the race because Biden appeals to the same type of voters that Trump appeals to.

These are voters that are working class blue collar voters, possibly noncollege educated white male voters, these are the types that Biden can attraction. He will do really well in Midwestern states, which are critical to winning the 2020 election.

And Biden knows how to go after him directly. He has been speaking less about his own policies and what he brings and what's new and fresh, which might be a mistake in 2020 because ultimately he will have to come out with some sort of policy agenda if he is going to win the election, definitely if he wants to win the nomination.

But he is taking Trump head-on, tackling the vulnerable issues. When Trump's approval rating was at its lowest, in order to get under Trump's skin, Trump took the bait, responded in a way that only will appeal to the base but not really appeal to the entire American public.

HOWELL: We saw Joe Biden on "The View" recently, trying to tackle some of the challenges that he faces on his own as he launches into the field of these Democratic contenders, the question about his judgment when it comes to personal space around women and also his past in overseeing the hearings that put Anita Hill before lawmakers.

You will remember that confirmation proceeding that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. And then he criticized Biden for how he managed the questions around Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment by Thomas.

He attempted to apologize. The question here, did it work? Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I'm sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done. I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules to be able to stop things. But there are a lot of mistakes made across the board. And for those I apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So I'm sorry that she was treated the way that she was. There were a lot of mistakes, he said.

What do you make of his apology?

LINDSTAEDT: On the plus side, in contrast to Trump, who doesn't seem to apologize, Biden did make an attempt to apologize but it wasn't a very good apology. It was sort of a non-apology, it was about, I'm sorry for the way you felt, I'm sorry about the way you were treated, not I'm sorry about the way I treated you.

There wasn't really any attempt to take personal accountability for some of the missteps that he made. And there was a lot of criticism about what he did during the Anita Hill hearings because he was the chair at that time. He didn't really allow enough witnesses to come forward that could corroborate her testimony.

He forced her to describe the sexual harassment in graphic detail. And he also didn't create a safe space for her, a dignified environment for her and to really understand how vulnerable that she was at that time.

Instead, he blamed his Republican colleagues at the time and the fact that it was an event that wasn't handled very professionally and without really sensitivity to her.

But he would need to take more personal responsibility for his role in that process and apologize to her directly without making these kinds of excuses. And if he just continues on this sort of bumbling apology tour, this won't get his campaign off to a good start. He needs to make a real decent, sincere apology, one that she actually accepts. Recently she says she doesn't really accept his apology.

And he needs to start focusing on the issues and things that resonate with voters, particularly in the way that he is able to attract voters who are really dealing with tough economic times, focusing on health care, focusing on maintaining high employment rates rather than get mired in some of these details of he said/she said and not really doing a particularly good apology.

He will need to improve upon this if he is going to want to have a chance to win the nomination.

HOWELL: One point of accuracy, I want to go --

[04:15:00]

HOWELL: -- back to the earlier question that we had, we spoke about Mr. Trump clarifying or revising. I want to point out exactly what Mr. Trump said in that news conference.

Later after, he mentioned the both sides comment, he said, " You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."

So he did mention the Lee name.

But is it a matter of clarifying, is it a matter of revising?

Because some of the people that were there because of Robert E. Lee were also there to support the white nationalists, too.

LINDSTAEDT: It is a good point to say that he briefly mentioned Robert E. Lee but that really wasn't the main point of the way that he was responding to the Charlottesville event, which was just a huge stain on recent U.S. history.

He responded in such a way where he was focusing on the neo-Nazis as possibly having some good people in those that were protesting on that particular day in Charlottesville. And that there were both good and bad people on both sides.

His main reaction wasn't really about, oh, this is just about monuments here and it is about Robert E. Lee and people have the right to protest about that and that it is really more of a free speech thing and that they were intending to kind of promote our historical heritage.

It was really about offering tacit support for the neo-Nazis. And that is why it was such a controversy. If he had only focused on the monument issue, it probably wouldn't have blown up in the way that it did.

HOWELL: We appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you so much.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: One of the most contagious diseases is spreading in the United States after being virtually eliminated nearly 20 years ago. We'll have more on that after this.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Health care workers in California are racing to contain a measles outbreak. More than 600 students and faculty are under quarantine at two universities in Los Angeles and now President Trump, who has been skeptical of vaccines, has changed his view. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They have to get the shots for vaccination. It's so important. This is really going around now. They have to get their shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The U.S. faces the worst measles outbreak since it was virtually eliminated in 2000. Government health officials have found 695 cases in 22 states this year. The highly contagious disease is flaring up around the world.

In fact, based on World Health Organization figures, Ukraine has had more than 7,000 cases in the past 12 months alone.

Let's talk more about the U.S. measles outbreak with Dr. Seema Yasmin, clinical assistant professor at Stanford University.

Good to have you, Doctor.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: So looking back at last year's numbers, clearly we are on track to surpass, well surpass, the number of cases seen in the United States this year.

What would you say are some of the factors behind this latest outbreak?

YASMIN: You're right, we've seen nearly 700 cases of measles reported just this year so far. And that is in 22 states across the country. And on this broader context of a 300 percent increase globally in measles cases. So it is not just an increase here, we're seeing outbreaks in many parts of the world.

Although across the U.S., there is pretty good vaccine uptake generally, we do have these areas, especially tight knit communities where many people are choosing not to be vaccinated. And that is really what is contributing to the spike in cases and these outbreaks that we're seeing now.

HOWELL: You are joining us this hour from Mountain View there in Silicon Valley. California certainly on the map there. And just recently here -- nearly 700 people who were quarantined at two different universities in Los Angeles.

How difficult is to manage these types of scares, given how contagious measles is?

YASMIN: So that is exactly right. It is the contagion part of it. Measles is one of the most contagious infections known to humans. The average person who has measles goes on to infect about 18 more people. And it is so infectious that if you are not vaccinated, you can walk into an empty room where somebody who had measles coughed or sneezed two hours earlier.

And although they have left the room, the droplets hang in the air and if 10 unvaccinated people go into that room, nine of them will get measles. That is how contagious it is.

So nearly 1,000 students and staff at two Los Angeles universities are being quarantined because, in each case, just one student who had measles exposed many, many people. So it is the fact that it is really contagious.

And the second factor is that we know, on university campuses, they are very social places. That is how one person can go on to infect many more and why health departments across most parts of the country have these abilities to enact a quarantine, to make sure, especially in the case of something like measles, you can say to people, hey, we're going to limit your movement, we're going to make sure that you don't expose more people until you can prove to us that you have had two shots of the MMR vaccine or you have immunity in some other way.

And so we did see in both of these instances that many hundreds of people were quarantined but the numbers went down quickly because vaccination is actually a requirement of enrollment at universities so people could show that they had protection.

HOWELL: You talk about the numbers that did go down as officials were able to confirm --

[04:25:00]

HOWELL: -- that people had some type of immunity.

There are questions that many people have about whether they need to get a second shot.

So the question, is there a need for people born before a certain year to reconsider getting that shot again?

YASMIN: I was just talking to my cameraman here in this tiny studio and he remembers having measles. He was born in the '50s and he had it in the '60s and passed it on to his sisters. But that generation, that was pretty common.

But we've had a vaccine since 1963. So we say if you were vaccinated after 1967 or 1969, you are OK. But also important to bear in mind that it is two shots of the MMR that you need. If you had one, that is about 93 percent coverage and you need the two to give you 97 percent.

And in the U.S., some people, not many but some people weren't getting the two shots until after 1987 because that was the year that health officials here said, they put it in writing, that you need the two shots of the vaccine.

But the anti-vaccine movement is a problem. Just yesterday, I took the train from here up north to San Francisco. And as I looked on the train app to look at the timetable, the first thing that flashed up wasn't the train times but an alert that someone on the trains here in Northern California had measles and there was a possible exposure on the trains.

So it feels like this is becoming the new normal. We've seen instances like this on airplanes, on trains and on university campuses, all the places where you have lots of traffic and lots of people coming into contact with one another because measles is so contagious, we need about 95 percent of the population to be immunized so we have herd immunity.

HOWELL: Doctor, thank you again for taking the time. Clearly this is something that people need to take seriously. Thank you. YASMIN: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: Attorney Michael Avenatti, no stranger to courtrooms but now he's facing years behind bars. We sit down with him ahead. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.

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HOWELL: This information just in to CNN. Cyclone Kenneth destroyed more than 3,000 homes when it hit Mozambique; 18,000 people are displaced there. The weakened storm is forecast to bring more torrential rain and flooding. It is the second to strike Mozambique in the past six weeks.

The lawyer who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump is now facing the legal fight of his life. Michael Avenatti has a court date in California on Monday. He's been indicted on more than 3 dozen counts, including wire fraud and bank fraud.

He is also charged in New York for allegedly trying to shake down sportswear giant Nike. He faces prison for the rest of his life. CNN's Sara Sidner just got an in-depth interview with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY: My lawyers didn't even want me to sit down for this interview.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Michael Avenatti is doing it anyway while free on a $300,000 bond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael, could you think you'd go to jail before the president?

SIDNER (voice-over): Accused of trying to extort Nike...

GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Avenatti again made his threats and demands.

SIDNER (voice-over): -- for more than $20 million.

SIDNER: Nike says, "Look, we have Michael Avenatti on tape, saying he will take this money and not disclose anything and ride off into the sunset." Did you say that?

AVENATTI: Did I say that we'd ride off into the sunset?

Yes.

Was it in the context that Nike and the government alleges?

Absolutely not. What happened was, was that Nike and their attorneys figured out that they couldn't buy me. They couldn't own me. They couldn't control me.

SIDNER (voice-over): Avenatti is accusing Nike of rigging the college basketball recruitment process by bribing amateur players to attend Nike-sponsored schools. Nike told CNN it would not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion.

But the criminal complaint says Avenatti was threatening to go public if Nike didn't comply with his demands, $1.5 million for his client, between $15 million and $25 million to hire him and his co-counsel to lead an internal investigation or a payment of $22.5 million and no investigation.

Instead of making a deal with them, Nike called the FBI saying it was being extorted. The FBI began recording the meetings. The case came to a head in just under a week after this tweet, Avenatti announcing a press conference.

SIDNER: What happened after that?

AVENATTI: Well, I was arrested shortly thereafter.

SIDNER: Were you saying to them, "Pay me hush money. I'll be quiet. I'll go away. I'll walk out the door"?

AVENATTI: No, never, never happened.

SIDNER: The accusations concerning hush money is especially ironic...

STORMY DANIELS, PORNOGRAPHIC ACTRESS, DIRECTOR: Hi, everyone.

SIDNER: -- considering the case that brought Avenatti's name into the American consciousness.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Michael Avenatti.

SIDNER: The high-flying, hard-fighting litigator became a household name when he represented porn star Stormy Daniels, who sued the president of the United States.

DANIELS: My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth.

SIDNER (voice-over): She wanted out of a hush agreement she signed in 2016 to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual affair she said she had with Donald Trump. Trump has denied the affair.

SIDNER: Did you think you were going to bring down the president?

AVENATTI: I immediately saw that as an opportunity to do collateral damage to the president of the United States. In that regard, I accomplished the goal, although not, you know, entirely.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know what?

You're a thug.

AVENATTI: Thug, thug, thug, thug.

SIDNER: Avenatti's theatrics and legal zingers became a fixture on cable news.

AVENATTI: Where is this guy?

SIDNER: The president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, endured the public shaming. And after an investigation referred to the Southern District of New York by Robert Mueller, Cohen admitted to a total of nine criminal counts, including orchestrating --

[04:35:00]

SIDNER (voice-over): -- that hush payment to Daniels on Trump's behalf to effect the 2016 presidential election.

AVENATTI: I don't think his prison sentence is strong enough by any stretch of the imagination.

And -- and I don't believe that other people around him that participated in that, including Donald Trump, the president of the United States should somehow get a pass. I believe Donald Trump should be indicted.

SIDNER: But now, Avenatti is facing serious charges and potential prison time, more than 300 years, if convicted.

The very same day he was arrested in New York, the U.S. Attorney in California charged him in another separate case, eventually bringing 36 counts, including wire fraud, bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud.

But perhaps, the most stunning charge, stealing from his own clients, one of them, a paraplegic man, named Geoffrey Johnson.

Your paraplegic client has said he did not receive what he was supposed to receive of a $4 million settlement.

Did you defraud him?

AVENATTI: Look, here is the bottom line. I'm not at liberty to get into the details of that particular situation because I've been advised by my counsel not to do it. If it was up to me, I'd hold a press conference, put documents up on the screen and tell my side of the story. SIDNER: But Avenatti did do that. Using Twitter as his bullhorn, he posted this document showing a glowing recommendation that he said his client had signed just a month before the indictment.

His attorney said what you posted was actually you tricked him into signing something saying that you were a great attorney and they was happy with your services that you stole money from him. How do you respond to that?

AVENATTI: That assertion by the attorney is absurd.

SIDNER: Prosecutors are also saying the same thing.

AVENATTI: Prosecutors are saying all kinds of things. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're all true or provable.

SIDNER: That wasn't the only client prosecutors say he defrauded. There are four others, including an NBA player who wanted to quietly pay monies to his ex-girlfriend for her long-time support. But nearly all the $2.7 million settlement was allegedly used to pay for this, Avenatti's personal jet.

Did you own a private jet?

AVENATTI: I had an interest in a private jet, yes. But there's nothing --

SIDNER: Your company --

AVENATTI: But there's nothing unusual about some of these factors relating to my lifestyle.

Have I had a privileged lifestyle?

Of course.

Have I had a lifestyle that some people would describe as lavish at times?

Yes.

I'm a self-made guy. I put myself through college. I put myself through law school. Nothing was ever handed to me, Sara.

And you know what?

I busted my ass for a lot of what I've received.

SIDNER: And prosecutors have tied your lifestyle. They accuse you of buying that jet with $2.5 million that belongs to a client from a settlement.

Are they right?

AVENATTI: We're going to have facts and evidence. We're going to present that to a jury. And a jury is going to decide up or down whether I'm convicted or not. And it's their obligation --

SIDNER: You're evading the question. And you usually if -- if there's nothing but truth out there and you did none of this, why can't you just tell me?

AVENATTI: Because, Sara, here's the problem, because my lawyers didn't even want me to sit down for this interview. We've had umpteen debates about this. And the problem is, is that I've been told to say absolutely nothing and I've said, no, I'm not going to do that.

Next question.

SIDNER: Avenatti has rarely shied away from a controversy.

AVENATTI: It is time to come clean. Basta.

SIDNER: Stepping into the spotlight in connection with the biggest headlines of 2018.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, BRETT KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes.

SIDNER: As U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh faced sexual assault allegations ...

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I have never done this to her or to anyone.

SIDNER: -- Avenatti emerged with a second accuser.

AVENATTI: She is 100 percent credible.

SIDNER: Republicans and some Democrats viewed his insertion into the case as an outrageous stunt.

Do you interject yourself purposely for your own fame, for your own fortune in these cases that have made headlines?

AVENATTI: Do I interject myself? No. I receive a call from a client.

SIDNER: She never testified. She was accused of lying. But her allegations were never investigated.

When the border battle over child separation emerged, so did Avenatti with clients whose children were alone and afraid. In one case, he went all the way to Guatemala to deliver a mother's most precious gift.

ELSA ORTIZ ENRIQUEZ, ANTONY ORTIZ'S MOTHER: (Speaking foreign language).

SIDNER: And, unexpectedly, received one of his own.

AVENATTI: It was -- it was one, as a father myself, it was -- it was one of the best days of my career. I remember it like it was yesterday. I mean he gave me a -- I have it in my briefcase. I carry it with me. It was in my briefcase when I was arrested. It's a fabric bracelet that he made me to thank me for bringing him back to his mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider running for the Democratic ticket in 2020?

SIDNER: Avenatti began to consider running for president.

AVENATTI: Stand up, join the Fight Club.

[04:40:00]

SIDNER (voice-over): He tested the waters in West Hollywood and the crowd swooned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Avenatti, just so you know --

AVENATTI: Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- I sleep better because you're in the world. I'm not kidding.

AVENATTI: What's your name?

We hit harder.

SIDNER: From Iowa to New Hampshire to Texas, Avenatti began fundraising for Democrats. But problems with his own financials followed him. A judge ordered one of Avenatti's firms to pay his former partner $10 million and another $800,000 he owed to the IRS. He has yet to pay all his debts.

Are you broke?

AVENATTI: No, I don't think I'm broke.

SIDNER: Well, you know if you're broke or not. Are you broke?

AVENATTI: No.

SIDNER: You're 100 percent sure?

AVENATTI: I -- no, I'm not broke.

SIDNER: OK. Are you having money problems?

AVENATTI: No. I don't believe I'm having money problems. I mean I believe there's been some challenges along the way, there's no question about that.

SIDNER: Avenatti still had his eye on the presidency. And then --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, is under arrest on allegations of felony domestic violence.

SIDNER: Did you hit, slap, drag the young lady that was in your apartment?

AVENATTI: Absolutely not. And that's why there's been three separate investigations and no charges have been brought.

SIDNER: And with that, Avenatti bounced back into the headlines, taking on another explosive case.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Avenatti said that he had given the State's Attorney's Office a videotape that showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl.

SIDNER: At first, Avenatti's new evidence in superstar R. Kelly's case energized a public clamoring for justice. But it wouldn't be long before Kelly's attorney would use Avenatti's legal troubles against him.

He is basically saying R. Kelly's case has been tainted because of what has happened to Michael Avenatti and the case is rotten.

AVENATTI: It's a desperate attorney for a desperate man. It's absolutely absurd.

SIDNER: Now, Avenatti is fighting perhaps the biggest case of his entire life, the case against him.

You're facing potential of more than 300 years in prison, if convicted.

Will you fight these charges or will you make a plea deal?

AVENATTI: Well, I anticipate on fighting all of these charges.

SIDNER: Have you thought about the prospect of potentially having to spend time in prison?

AVENATTI: There's no question I've thought about that. I mean I'd have to be an absolute moron to have not thought about that.

SIDNER: There are some people that are delighting in what they see is your facade being exposed.

The "New York Post": "Avenatti is actually the fraud, con man he accused Trump of being."

"The Hill": "Trump Jr. Mocks Avenatti," saying, "You might just get to share a cell with Michael Cohen."

"Politico": "Avenatti crashes and burns."

Have you crashed and burned?

AVENATTI: No, I don't think I've crashed and burned at all. I mean, look, this is a rough-and-tumble business. There's no question about that. We operate now in an environment that is more toxic politically than we have ever experienced in the history of the United States.

SIDNER: But haven't you contributed to that?

AVENATTI: Look, largely due to social media. Have I contributed to that?

SIDNER: To the toxic nature of politics.

AVENATTI: I don't think so because I don't think I've trafficked in nonsense and personal attacks for the most part.

SIDNER: He has also made clear why he thinks he's facing his own legal battles now.

AVENATTI: I've made a lot of powerful enemies over the years, especially over the last 18 months.

SIDNER: You're alluding to a conspiracy against you.

AVENATTI: I'm not alluding to a conspiracy. What I'm saying is --

SIDNER: You are.

AVENATTI: -- what I'm saying is the facts are the facts.

SIDNER: The IRS says the fact is they've been investigating him for two years, long before Avenatti ever met Stormy Daniels.

Daniels and Avenatti parted ways earlier this year. When Avenatti was arrested for financial crimes, Daniels tweeted she was not shocked adding that he treated her extremely dishonestly. He denies being dishonest.

Was it worth it to take on this case?

AVENATTI: If you would have asked me that nine months ago, I would have said absolutely. As I sit here today, Sara, I just don't know because the price that has been paid by me and my family and those around me has been enormous.

SIDNER: You sound like a man that has been humbled by this. Is that fair?

AVENATTI: Oh, there's no question I've been humbled. Regardless of what happens, I have had an enormous life. I have had a lot of opportunities that a lot of people could only dream of. I've done a lot of things over my 48 years that lot of people would never have an opportunity to do.

SIDNER: Are you afraid you're going to lose it all?

AVENATTI: Well, of course, I'm afraid of that. I mean, again, I mean if I wasn't afraid of that, there would be something fundamentally wrong with me as a -- as a man, as a human being.

But I can't have that consume me. It can't -- I can't allow it to eat me up. Because otherwise I, you know, I might as well just, you know -- [04:45:00]

AVENATTI: -- I guess, crawl into a fetal position and we -- wither away. And I'm not going out like that. And I'm not planning on going out, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Sara Sidner reporting there for us.

So between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, it seems things went very well after that summit. A look at how North Korean leader is increasingly taking to the international stage.

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HOWELL: North Korea's Kim Jong-un isn't known for his international stage presence but on his trip to Russia, he did try to cast himself as a statesman next to Vladimir Putin. CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance looks at their growing friendship.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His sendoff to Russia was enthusiastic, to say the least. Before boarding his special armored train, Kim Jong-un bid farewell to high ranking North Korean officials while flower-waving crowds roared their approval.

It's almost as they were as glad to see the back of him. But this was a carefully polished visit. State television even caught the train getting a last minute clean many hours later as it pulled into Vladivostok station. No dirty carriages soiling this summit.

There was one awkward moment, while they tried to line the train door up with the red carpet, an error which Kim seemed to eventually sidestep. Perhaps because it was how this moment looked.

It was most important, meeting Russia's strongman president for the first time, building a strategic alliance, appearing more statesman, less rocket man. This Russian relationship has the makings of a bromance far deeper than --

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CHANCE (voice-over): -- any imagined by President Trump's worst critics.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I am proposing a toast to the happiness and the beautiful future of our two countries' people as well as the health of our comrades and friends here. CHANCE (voice-over): But Kim Jong-un can be an unreliable partner, even for Russia, arriving at this planned military ceremony in Vladivostok more than two hours late. There was relief when he finally showed up.

CHANCE: This is a rare glimpse of the reclusive North Korean leader, we simply don't see him very often in public. But here he is, dressed in his Trilby hat and long coat, about to lay a wreath at this Russian war memorial. And he seems to be basking in the public spotlight, especially in a country where he's received such a warm welcome and absolutely zero criticism.

CHANCE (voice-over): Of course, optics are important for President Putin, too. He wants to cast himself as a power broker on the global stage. This summit also helped silence Kremlin critics. Next to the eccentric North Korean leader, Russia's own autocrat may seem a more reasonable choice -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Vladivostok, in Eastern Russia.

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HOWELL: Still ahead, we're learning about the damage in Mozambique from cyclone Kenneth. We'll have a live report on the weather situation, devastation. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Thank you for being with us this hour. We'll be right back after the break.

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