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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Attorney Used Trump Organization E-mail in Stormy Daniels Deal; Interview with Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' Lawyer; Cohen Says He Used His Own Home Equity Line for Stormy Daniels Payment; WH Appears to Add Then Deny Conditions on Trump-Kim Meeting; NRA Sues Florida After Governor Signs New Gun Control Bill. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 09, 2018 - 20:00   ET



Tonight -- thanks for joining us -- only on this program, Stormy Daniels' attorney speaking out with what he says is one more piece of evidence potentially tying the president to a payoff for porn star Stormy Daniels. That's in addition to the evidence he produced this morning.

But before we go any further, a quick reminder of something we said on the program last night. This is about the payoff, not the alleged affair. We're following the money and who knew about it. Marital infidelity, if it happened is certainly nothing new, not for millions of Americans, not for presidents and not for Donald Trump, whose love life has been tabloid fodder, some of which he stoked himself as publicist John Miller or John Baron for decades.

It's not new for Washington, D.C., either. R's do it, D's do it, even educated fleas do it. What most Republicans, Democrats or fleas for that matter do not do is pay to hush it up.

So, we begin tonight keeping them honest by continuing to follow the money or trying to, at least, in examining the claims made by President Trump's go-to fix it guy, Michael Cohen, personal attorney to the president and before that, to Donald Trump candidate and private citizen.

Michael Cohen, Trump Organization employee.

Now, remember, when the story broke, Attorney Cohen put out the following statement. Quote: Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or campaign expenditure by anyone.

A hundred and thirty thousand dollars, 11 days before the election, in exchange for Stormy Daniels' silence about the affair she says she had with Donald Trump back in 2006. A hundred and thirty thousand dollars of his own money, Cohen claims, which today he said he raised from a home equity credit line. Nothing to do with the Trump Organization. Nothing he told the candidate about, no money from Trump or the campaign, just his own money from his own pocket. Here's how CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin assessed those



JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Lawyers don't do that. They don't do that with their own money. It's not ethical, it's not proper to do that without talking to the client and it also just doesn't make any sense.

I mean, you know, it's one thing if he just was a billionaire he had $130,000 sitting around. But the idea that he goes into a home equity line and then writes the check and just does it out of the goodness of his heart, I just -- it's just unbelievable.


COOPER: Also potentially not ethical, Michael Cohen saying he entered in an agreement on his client's behalf but claims not to have actually informed his client about it at all.

And keeping them honest, even if everything Michael Cohen claims is true that he did this out of loyalty to Donald Trump with borrowed money using his own home as collateral, how do you explain the "Wall Street Journal" report that he had been complaining to friends about not being reimbursed? The question, of course, is reimbursed for what, by whom?

Cohen sent a two-word statement to "The Journal" and their story, fake news, he said.

This morning, though, in connection with the lawsuit to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement Stormy Daniels signed, her attorney produced e-mails to and from Michael Cohen using his Trump Organization address.

What they show are a bank sending Michael Cohen at his Trump Organization e-mail address this note, saying, the funds have been deposited in your checking account. And Michael Cohen forwarding that message to Stormy Daniels' attorney, but forwarding it from a personal e-mail account in an e-mail that appears to include the corporate e- mail account the bank originally sent their confirmation to. All of this to handle the payoff on candidate Trump's behalf just 11 days before the election.

So the question, did Donald Trump know about the business Michael Cohen was conducting in an effort to bury a potentially damaging late October surprise and does it violate campaign finance or any other laws? Now, we don't know tonight, nor is the White House saying much.

Here's Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have addressed this extensively and I don't have anything else to add. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, if that sounds familiar there's very good reason why. Here she is on Wednesday.


SANDERS: Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true.


COOPER: So, keeping them honest, the one thing neither she nor the president nor anyone at the White House has done is address the allegations either directly or extensively. In fact, it's the one thing they have not done.

As for Michael Cohen, he's spoken out several times today and this evening. Something we'll talk about with our first guest.

So, with all that as backdrop, Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney, joins us now.

Thanks so much for being with us.

First of all, you've just given us a new document that you believe is significant. Can you explain what it is?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Anderson. And thanks for having me on tonight.

This is yet another e-mail that shows that throughout this negotiation period, this period during which attorney Cohen was negotiating on the president's behalf --

COOPER: With Stormy Daniels' then attorney?

AVENATTI: That's correct. That during this entire time period, he was routinely using his e-mail address at the Trump Organization and his e-mail signature block to identify that he was effectively doing this on behalf of the Trump organization.

[20:05:05] COOPER: So, right what we have on the screen, this is a new e-mail you have given us tonight which is from Michael Cohen again using his Trump Organization e-mail address and describing himself as an emissary of Donald Trump.

AVENATTI: That's absolutely correct. I think one of the things that is critically important about this e-mail, Anderson, if you look at the e-mail, the top -- the last e-mail on the string, it talks about how the office is closed for Yom Kippur.

COOPER: The Trump Organization offices.

AVENATTI: That is correct. And, Anderson, if I could just set the stage relating to this e-mail, this -- in mid-October was around t time period the payment was to be made. It ultimately was not made, and the deal fell apart for a while, then ultimately was resurrected and the payment was made in late October. This e-mail relates to the first payment, the first date, I should say, of the payment, in mid- October.

Now, why is this important the reference to Yom Kippur and the office, because it appears to be innocuous when you look at it. We assert actually that it's not innocuous because, in fact, the payment was being made personally by Attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office open in order to effectuate the payment.

COOPER: And, clearly, the office he's talking about is the Trump Organization office which is on the letterhead and is underneath his signature.

AVENATTI: That is the office. He's clearly referring to because if you look at the signature and you put it up on the screen, he identifies himself as executive vice president and special counsel to Donald J. Trump. He lists the address. That's the office.

COOPER: And this was an e-mail he sent to the attorney basically around the time explaining why the money hadn't yet been sent.

AVENATTI: That is correct. And, look, if this was, again, if personal transaction as your viewers know, when you are conducting personal business, you don't have to go to your office --

COOPER: Right.

AVENATTI: -- to conduct personal business. You ca do it from your home, you can do it on your cell phone. There's any number of --

COOPER: In fact, if the office is closed, you probably have more time to conduct your personal business.

AVENATTI: Exactly.

COOPER: This is actually now, this is a brand new document that you just released. Earlier today, you released e-mail correspondence again between Mr. Cohen and his bank and the attorney for Stormy Daniels. Just explain this e-mail, because it's a little confusing, but it sort of -- I mean, you say it's very significant.

AVENATTI: We believe it's pivotal for the following reason. The initial e-mail in the string which is at the bottom of the page is an e-mail exchange between a representative of First Republic Bank to Mr. Cohen alerting him to the fact that they have effectively carried out his wishes and transferred money from one account at First Republic to checking account at First Republic. He turns around then and forwards that e-mail to himself.

COOPER: So that e-mail from the bank was sent to his Trump Organization e-mail account.

AVENATTI: Absolutely. And your viewers can see it on the screen. He then turns around and forwards that to his personal e-mail account, which is the 2next e-mail in the string, above that, what's being shown on the screen right now.

COOPER: So, that -- that's being shown on the screen, basically says the money is in the account.

AVENATTI: Correct. It's from the bank employee to Mr. Cohen.

COOPER: And why would Michael Cohen then feel the need to forward that e-mail to himself, to his private e-mail address to then communicate with Stormy Daniels' attorney?

AVENATTI: I don't haven explanation for it, quite honestly, because if there was nothing to hide in connection with this e-mail string, then Mr. Cohen could have forwarded this e-mail directly to Mr. Davidson and would not have had to take the interim step of going to his personal e-mail account.

What we believe happened, and this is speculation but I think it's pretty good speculation, is that he sent it to his personal e-mail address, he was then going to send it from his personal e-mail address to Mr. Davidson but he forgot to delete the middle portion of the e- mail that showed that the communication had taken place with his e- mail at the Trump Organization.

COOPER: So, Michael Cohen, as you know, has gone on the offensive today, said some things about you. He said but about this, he says, in part, quote, I sent e-mails from the Trump Org e-mail address to my family, friends as well as Trump business e-mails, I basically use it for everything. I'm certain most people can relate.

AVENATTI: I can relate. I mean, I often use personal or business e- mails for personal business. I don't think that's that unusual. But what's unusual is, the routing of the e-mail to his personal e-mail account and then making sure to send it from his personal e-mail account to Mr. Davidson.

COOPER: So, big picture, the reason all this you believe is so important is because Michael Cohen has come forward very clearly and said, look, this was something I did out of loyalty.

[20:10:04] I used this, you know, and today saying it came from his home equity line, that this had nothing to do with the Trump Organization. We still don't know where the money came from. What do you make of his contention that it actually came from his home equity line?

AVENATTI: There's a word in Italian and the word is basta. It means in English, enough. Basta.

We have heard explanation upon explanation. They are ever-changing. It's nonsense.

I'm running out of superlatives. Your legal analyst is running out of superlatives. Your guests, guests on other networks, we are all out of superlatives. Nonsense, ridiculous, preposterous, ludicrous, the list goes on and on. We are out of words to describe -- to describe what Mr. Cohen is

trying to sell to the American public. Anderson, it is impossible, it is so out of the realm of possibility that this attorney undertook all of this work. And I want to be clear about something, this NDA took awhile to negotiate, draft --

COOPER: The nondisclosure agreement.

AVENATTI: The nondisclosure agreement. This was not something that gets done in 30 minutes. This is something -- it took hours. It's a detailed document. This is -- this is why some people hate attorneys because they have to go through documents, they spend so much time looking at documents like this and spending so much time and usually billing their client for the time they spent.

This took a long time, the negotiation, the drafting, the communication, the routing of the payment. We are talking about hours and hours and hours. And what Mr. Cohen and the administration now expects the American public to believe is that he went off half-cocked on his own without any guidance or communication whatsoever with his client, none, he just decided that he was going to do is.

He was going to draft the document, he was going to negotiate it, and he was going to draft the document with places for his client to sign.

COOPER: Which if -- I mean, again, I'm no lawyer, but I know that if somebody is making a contract in which I'm named and they are having other people sign it and they are signing it and they are representing themselves as representing me and I don't even know about the document, that seems highly unethical.

AVENATTI: It is highly unethical.

COOPER: It's completely unethical.

AVENATTI: It's highly unethical and it can result in what we call within the industry getting your tickets stamped. And what that means is, you lose your license.

COOPER: Michael Cohen also, the White House has said, look, the president's attorney won in arbitration in California, that you say Michael Cohen set up this arbitration just kind of very quickly, you weren't informed, Stormy Daniels wasn't informed, and that they got a ruling that you say is invalid.

Did -- did you not know that Michael Cohen was doing this arbitration?

AVENATTI: Anderson, this arbitration has so many problems I don't even think we can describe them all in the hour that we have. But I'm going to take a shot to describe a few of them. First of all, the arbitration was brought not in Donald Trump's name, but in the LLC name that Attorney Cohen has set up.

COOPER: Right.

AVENATTI: That's improper. The LLC did not have the right or the ability and in legal terms, it's called standing, to proceed with the arbitration. So, first of all, you got the wrong party.

Second of all, in order to, proceed in the arbitration, Mr. Cohen was required by the bar rules of California to be a licensed attorney in California or to have a licensed attorney as what's called local counsel. He did neither. That's a misdemeanor under the law.

COOPER: Wait. Michael Cohen isn't licensed to practice law in California?

AVENATTI: There is nothing indicating that he is. We haven't been able to find any record of him being licensed in California.

And if he wasn't licensed in California, that's a misdemeanor to be practicing law in California. It's no different, Anderson, than if I came to New York or Washington, D.C. and attempted to practice law. I'm not licensed in those jurisdictions. So, that's the second problem with the arbitration. I could go on.

COOPER: I want to ask you, we got to break, but when we come back, I want to ask you, that the bank itself, when they received the $130,000, that was then going to be moved to -- given to Stormy Daniels' attorney, they raised a red flag. They raised something for SAR, which is a suspicious activity report. I want to ask about that. Because again, the question is where did this money come from?

We're going to take a quick break. The conversation continues, along with our own legal panel.

Later, a Stoneman Douglas High School student on Florida's gun laws just passed by Rick Scott. Whether they go far enough in his opinion and whether the NRA has a case in court against them. They just filed a suit.


[20:18:42] COOPER: We're talking with Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney about the money his client got from Donald Trump's personal and corporate attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen claims he paid it out of his own pocket from a home equity line of credit, that's what he said today.

And today, Mr. Avenatti revealed that Cohen used his Trump corporate e-mail account during the transaction, something Mr. Cohen also confirmed today and is very much downplaying.

Just moments ago, Mr. Avenatti showed us a new e-mail from Michael Cohen referring the office being closed for Yom Kippur, suggesting that if Michael Cohen truly were doing this on his own, the office being open or close were not be relevant.

So, back again with Michael Avenatti.

So, one of the things I don't think that's gotten lot of attention again, and again, our focus really is sort of following the money and just for full disclosure, I should say I have met -- I have talked with your client for "60 Minutes". There was something called a SAR report, when the bank, I guess was First National and received $130,000. Was it First National?

AVENATTI: First republic.

COOPER: First Republic, sorry.

When they got $130,000 from Mr. Cohen, who says it's from a home equity line of credit, the bank, there was a suspicious activity report put out. Can you explain what that means and why $130,000 would have triggered a suspicious activity report?

AVENATTI: There are treasury regulations in the United States that are in place to guard against money laundering and financial crimes. 2

[20:20:06] And these regulations hold that when a bank determines that a particular financial transaction or series of transactions is suspicious, they are obligated under the law to prepare and file what is called a Suspicious Activity Report, otherwise known as a SAR.

What we from the prior in this case is that at some point after the date of this transaction in late 2016, First Republic Bank prepared a SAR, a Suspicious Activity Report, relating to this transaction, relating to the payment of the $130,000. They transmitted that SAR to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, otherwise known as FinCEN. It's a division of the U.S. Treasury.

Now, we don't know what happened after that point. Very often, FinCEN will disregard the SARs, sometimes they investigate them, sometimes they'll send them to the FBI for further investigation. We don't know what that SAR shows because it's not public information.

But here's what we do know. We know the president and his appointee, the treasury secretary, control FinCEN. They could very easily release the SAR. And if, in fact, if Mr. Cohen does not have an objection to it, if he doesn't believe anything was untoward about this, if his story is to be believed, then release the SAR. It's a fairly brief document, but it's going to be very illuminating as to the details relating to this transaction.


AVENATTI: If there's nothing to hide, release the SAR and let the American people see what happened here and if there's nothing there, then there's nothing there.

COOPER: I sense release the SAR will be your new rallying cry.

AVENATTI: I think it's pretty simple. It's a straightforward document.

COOPER: So, let me just get this straight, though. The bank that we have been seeing the e-mails from, that Michael Cohen had from one account moved into this other account which he said was from his equity line of credit, that's the bank that said this was -- something was suspicious?

AVENATTI: That is correct. That e-mail that was on the screen earlier from First Republic Bank, the e-mail that was sent to Mr. Cohen in his Trump Organization address, saying the money has now been placed in this new account from which it was ultimately wired to Ms. Daniels' attorney, that's the bank that prepared the SAR, transmitted it to FinCEN, a division of the U.S. Treasury and we want it released.

COOPER: Mr. Cohen said a lot today. He's not addressed this notion again of potentially unethical behavior of claiming to represent his client in an agreement with Stormy Daniels without his client's knowledge.

I mean, he went after you today. You know, he said that you clearly allowed your 15 minutes of fame to affect your ludicrous conclusions. How Mr. Avenatti or the media at large believes this to be breaking news is a mystery to me. He should either evacuate the room he's standing in or immediately seek attention of an ENT doctor.

AVENATTI: Well, unfortunately, I'm a little under the weather, but I don't think I need a doctor.

And second of all, I'm very fortunate in my career, Anderson, over the last 18 years, I think I exhausted my 15 minutes, maybe 14 or 16 years ago. But separate and apart from that, I'm not going to respond to his personal attacks. I want to keep this about the facts and I want to keep about the truth, because, Anderson, quite honestly, I don't care if you're on the left or on the right or in the middle.

The American people deserve straight talk, not spin on this issue. They deserve facts. They deserve the truth, they deserve evidence.

This is not complicated. The questions are simple. Did Mr. Trump know about the negotiation of this agreement? Did he know about the payment? Did he sign the document? Did he facilitate or pay the money or did he have somebody else pay the money? And what was that relationship?

This could be cleared up very, very simply and quite honestly, I don't know why it hasn't been cleared up. Release the SAR, answer the questions, let the American people decide.

COOPER: All right. We've got to take a quick break. We'll come back with our panel. Mark Geragos and others.


[20:27:56] COOPER: Talking tonight with Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti and the new e-mail he revealed for us, which appears to deal another blow or race more questions about Michael Cohen's claim that he and he alone pay for Stormy Daniels' silence and neither the Trump Organization nor candidate Trump was involved.

So, we're back with Michael Avenatti. Joining us as well is criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, and former FBI senior agent Asha Rangappa.

Mark, I mean, you heard Michael lay out his case. What do you make of it? MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there's quite a few

problems with the arbitration agreement to begin with, and the idea that they went into arbitration, they got a temporary restraining order issued. There's a whole line of California cases that say arbitrators, private arbitrators, cannot issue restraining orders, injunctive relief. I litigated it last year when I was suing the state bar.

So, that's one problem. I know the judge who issued this. I have a great deal of respect for her, but I don't know that -- you know, that's one of the reasons you don't do these things ex parte, just one side, because you need both sides to give a judge the issue.

The other problem I think they've got just from a practical standpoint is many of the issues that Michael has raised, they're in front of Judge Pfeffer (ph). And unless they paper or use a preemptory challenge on Judge Pfeffer, she's one of the smartest and ablest people on the bench. My feeling is, is that when she sees this and sees what happened, she's not going to give it a whole lot of shrift.

I don't worry as much about the committing a misdemeanor for practicing law without a license because I'm sure he will say that -- and I won't mention the name, but I have a pretty good idea as to who their local counsel will be, somebody he's used before in other litigation.

COOPER: What about the notion of negotiating a contract involving a third party that the third party -- he's claiming a third party doesn't know anything about?

GERAGOS: Well, that is a real problem. And I have been in a situation where I've had a client that I have represented multiple times where I've told the client he needs to settle, or I told the client she needs to settle, and literally have tentatively agreed on a settlement subject to the client blessing it after I yell at them or scream at them or something like that.

I just cannot imagine, and I'm not in Michael's shoes and I feel his pain that he's got somebody he's worked for over 10 years special counsel probably feels like he was doing the right thing, but no good deed goes unpunished and in this case I don't know if I would be more angry at Trump or at my banker who dimmed me out to the treasury.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Asha, I mean does it make sense that a SAR suspicious activity report would be filed or whatever you -- I don't know what the term is, for $130,000 for someone who's banking at their bank and I mean money that's been transferred one account to another?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, well banks and other firms and institutions are required to do these when there is a certain monetary threshold it might be $5,000 or $10,000 and the point is to allow the Treasury Department to detect patterns of money flow to allow them to see, for example, money laundering or money to terrorist organizations which are likely not implicated here. I think you actually honed in on the bigger problem here which is, you know, if you take Michael Cohen at his word and Donald Trump and no one else knew anything about this, this contract has three parties that were all supposed to be agreeing to the fundamental terms of it and so the best case scenario is exactly what Stormy Daniels is claiming in her lawsuit that this may not be a valid contract.

If there was no meeting of the minds of one of the three parties that were supposed to be a part of it then she may be free to talk that's kind of best case scenario and then as we've heard before you have potential violations of campaign finance laws on John Edwards was criminally prosecuted by the Department of Justice for having a third party. Pay for his mistress in order to help his campaign. So I don't think that this administration really has a good option no matter which way turn right now.

COOPER: Michael, what are your options just in terms of I mean are there subpoenas? What do you do next?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Well shortly the windows going out and thrust begin let's called it discovery and start issuing subpoenas and try to find out the who, what, where, when and part of the process is going to be a pursuit of determining what the President knew and when he knew it. And you've identify that before and that's going to be critical.

COOPER: Do you know who you would like to subpoena?

AVENATTI: We do, I'm not going to announce it on national television tonight but we're putting together a discovery plan and we're going to march forward.

Now, they're going to be trying to drag us into the arbitration, to the proceedings the Mark referenced. I too know that the arbitrator very well and she's a very well respected judge but quite honestly I think they pulled the wool over our eyes. We weren't invited to the party. We weren't even able to present any evidence or engage with her.

In fact we don't even know if they disclosed to her who the true parties were. They may have just disclosed to her the aliases. We don't know what story they may have told her. So we don't want to pass judgment on her determination quite yet but they're going to be attempting to drag us into arbitration and this is a very important point.

They don't want this to take place in the public. They don't want the public to know what transpires in connection with this. They want to do it in arbitration which is a private proceeding in an office building, it has security, you are in a conference room, people are not from the outside are not allowed in. It is confidential generally, on the flip side we want to proceed with this in a public court of law, a courthouse owned by the people where you can't padlock the doors and keep people out and people can then view it and observe it and judge for themselves based on facts, evidence and document what happened. COOPER: Mark, would you ever take out a $130,000 line of credit on your house for a client? I mean I know you are dedicated attorney.

GERAGOS: I'm very dedicated to my clients. I can't imagine a situation maybe an emergency situation where it was a repeat client where I've done this I bailed people out for instance. Where I couldn't find a bondsmen when somebody was in another lawyer who's referred and they've said get this personnel. I've done that so I admit to doing that and I supposed that's kind of a first cousin of this.

The interesting thing about what Michael says is in the irony of this because I keep going back to Bill Clinton. I mentioned it the night before last is, you know, it is Jones versus Clinton, which is the authority that Michael will have. Two, he is not going to mention who he is going to put on his deposition list. I'll tell you, whose front and center, it's David Dennison AKA Donald Trump.

[20:35:02] And by the way, eight nothing with one concurrence, Jones versus Clinton was decided that a civil lawsuit wouldn't interfere. They've holding by the U.S. Supreme Court would not interfere with the President's discharge of his duty and therefore he was subject to civil process. That's a real problem because he can't escape from that unless he says, "I wasn't a part of this." If he says I wasn't a part to this. I didn't do this then Michael Cohen got issues.

And I know he feels like this isn't breaking news but obviously it is. I mean, it's no different than Paula Jones and Bill Clinton. It's no difference than Juanita Broaddrick.

COOPER: Asha, I mean you mean John Edwards before, is a violation of campaign finance loss inherent criminal, or there are civil violations?

RANGAPPA: There can be civil and criminal penalties I mean they did choose to go to criminal route with John Edwards which was controversial and I think, you know, at the time their legal experts debated whether that was an appropriate prosecution to bring but the point is that there is precedent and there is essentially, you know, precedent for characterizing this kind of payment as being something to the benefit of the campaign and just to the point with the Clinton v. Jones, you know, the President is now facing two different precedents because you've got potential deposition coming up on this on one hand. And then you showdown with Mueller and, you know, Nixon's precedent on that side is not going to help him on challenge that very well either so he's got a lot of legal problems coming.

AVENATTI: Let me say this as it relates to and Mark really wasn't hanging it out there when he said that obviously we're going to seek to depose of the President in connection with this case. Most depositions as Mark will tell you some of last more than a day in California we have a limited 7.5 hours same limit at the federal level. I'll make this guarantee right now. We will limit that deposition of Mr. Trump to less than one hour. We will take it any place in the world at any time. Anytime, any place, less than one hour. COOPER: You think you can do that in an hour?

AVENATTI: I do. I do even though from time to time from what I've seen, he has a tendency to like to talk but even with then, I've actually allowed that in my estimate because that's how simple we think this case is.

COOPER: Michael Avenatti, Mark Geragos and Asha Rangappa thank you.

More ahead, the White House today is aiming to tread very carefully about the planned meeting between the President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying initially no meeting would take place until Washington will sees there were concrete actions from North Korea. And hours later, well, never mind, well Keeping Them Honest on that next.


[20:41:19] COOPER: At the White House today there were plenty of mixed messages about the possibly historic meeting between President Trump and the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says, the President made no concessions and deserved all the credit for what could be a landmark negotiation. Still at first she said North Korea had to show had taken with they described as "concrete actions" to fill its promises before any meaning could take place.

Later White House officials said in effect, never really mind, the invitation was offered and accepted according to the official.

Meantime, Vice President Pence chimed in saying North Korea should know that "all options are on the table."

And just a little bit ago the President himself tweeted about it keeping track of this force is our Jeff Zeleny, who joins us now from the White House. So the President just tweeted, what did he say?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, certainly a very busy couple of days certainly last day of domestic shuttling here. But the question still remains over will that meeting actually happen.

The President weighing just a short time ago on Twitter, of course, he said this. Let 's take a look. He said "The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be if completed a good one for the world time and place to be determined."

So the President trying to close the day here, or close the week here if you will saying this meeting he believes will happen. And they say by early May, some point in May. Anderson, there's not a lot of time here for what is the biggest diplomatic gamble of his presidency and certainly in generations for an American leader.

COOPER: Yes, I mean yesterday among, you know, many there was a sense that the President may have done ahead of his staff announcing things, you know, they 're far from fully beg, is that still the sense today?

ZELENY: Anderson, it is the sense and I was in the White House briefing room when the President came out, the smile in his face was clear that he wanted this deal to happen. And now his staff is left to sort of make this work. The question here is what conditions this will happen under. Is he giving up too much here by saying he will go over there for that meeting? But he was taking a big gamble.

And Democrats, Anderson, and I've been struck by have seldom given him -- would have a nod on this. If this works, this would be an amazing bit of diplomacy. If not, the U.S. is certainly giving up a lot, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, thanks. No American President, we should point, has ever met with any North Korean leader. President Clinton came close, his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, actually made it to North Korea for a preliminary talks but everything stopped after that.

I'm joined now by former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden, who knows a great deal about North Korea.

General Hayden the White House's saying they made no concessions, isn't it agreeing to meet Kim Jong-un in the first place a sort of concessions? I mean Kim Jong-un getting exactly what he wants which is a meeting on the world stage with U.S. President.

GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Anderson, I actually think that's a really big deal. And it was first thing I noticed when the announcement was made yesterday.

I negotiated with the North Koreans and family and jam as a two-star with the Koreans People Army. And they've made every effort to try to isolate me as a lowly two-star so they could make this appear to be a talk between the North Koreans and the United States rather than between the North Koreans and the United Nations command in which I was apart. So they've been driving for this dialogue with us, this equality with us, this equivalency with us and I fear that most powerful image is going to come out of this, Anderson, is the President of a real country, ours, standing next to the President of North Korea with him enjoying the legitimacy that our President brings with him.

COOPER: And is that something that then the North Korean regime uses with in North Korea to bolster Kim Jong-un's as you say legitimacy?

[20:45:00] HAYDEN: Yes. I know, absolutely. Look, Kim is trying to do two things there and we need to understand this because we want to leverage it. He is actually trying to improve the quality of life within North Korean's standards but he's also made the nuclear program a touchstone for his rule for the people there.

The signs all over Pyongyang or about the march to this nuclear reach that they have and so what this is going to appear to be to the North Korean people, Anderson, is that they have arrived at their destination and that has caused the American President to make a pilgrimage to talk to their dear and powerful leader. And so there are real downsides associated with this.

Look, I want to be hopeful. I hope this turns out but this is really complicated and we are making some serious concessions going in. That I fear that once we get into this session without proper preparation for the 2President the wheels will start to fly off and we made, make conflicts more likely in the long-term.

Anderson, just think now, how much both presidents, Kim and President Trump are invested in this meeting and if the wheels fly off in this meeting if it ends up in a bad place to what are they going to turn? And since it's already started at the level of chief of state, they're not going to turn to diplomacy.

COOPER: The White House said that the President will not have the meeting without concrete and verifiable actions taken in place by North Korean and the administration is going to verify denuclearization through the national security and intelligence community. I mean North Korea has been resisting any kind of verification process for decades.

HAYDEN: That's right. And so were going to have a real problem with verification and any kind of deal. And based upon my background in intelligence, Anderson, without invasive verification I would not promise the President that I could detect North Korean cheating on the arrangement. But Anderson, we've got a more fundamental problem here. What is the meaning of denuclearization? For you and me that means wrapping all the stuff up and throwing it away and tearing the buildings down.

I am convinced that for the North Koreans it means a long and torturous process leading to some undefined future in which nuclear weapons will no longer be necessary from their point of view because their threat environment has stopped largely because we have given them a piece treaty, largely because we backed away from our commitment to defend South Korea, and largely because we're withdrawn our forces. Anderson, sad to say, and I really hope I am wrong but I don't think we see any significant reduction on the part of the North Koreans without our changing our strategic equation on the peninsula.

COOPER: You know, I mean, what's also interesting is there is still unfilled positions in the State Department that are key to laying the ground works for this talks. There's no U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, the U.S. onboarding North Korea just step down who was up until now that State Department's negotiator.

HAYDEN: Yes, that is another more specific tactical problem. Look, we are going to have to load up the President here with an awful lot of knowledge and understanding. I mean he has assumed the rank of chief negotiator because we're starting this at the top and so we're going to want him to be very knowledgeable and frankly very careful so that he doesn't make a misstep that the North Koreans will then exploit. And the fact that we've found a strict the department of some expertise makes this harder than it would otherwise be. And again, Anderson, I want to be hopeful here. But this is going to be hard.

COOPER: Yes, General Hayden, appreciate your time. Thank you.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: There is more breaking news. Ahead, less than a month after the shooting in Stoneman Douglas High School took 17 lives. Florida's Republican Governor breaks with the NRA signs new gun regulations into law it is a major loss for the NRA and just sued the state about it. I will speak to a student who survived the shooting to get his take on all of it next.


[20:53:16] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. The NRA is suing to block a new gun law signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, saying it prohibits law abiding citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. The new law raises the age to 21 to buy all firearms and adds a three-day waiting period. It also bans the sale of ownership of bomb stocks and allows some teachers to be armed in schools. And this comes nearly one month of course after 17 students and staffers were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School.

Joining me tonight is Cameron Kaskey, a Stoneman Douglas student, a survivor who pushed these new gun laws.

Cameron, what's your reaction to Governor Rick Scott signing this legislation today?

CAMERON KASKEY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS STUDENT: You know, Governor Scott is trying to look like he's taking a step in the opposite of the direction of the NRA, but we know that's not really going to happen. And while seeing these two parties move in the right direction together is a positive thing, it's a baby step. I mean if you really look at the bill, we need to ban assault weapons, and that's not happening in this bill.

COOPER: I mean he did go out of his way today to praise the students who Parkland for raising their voices. He said to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard. You didn't let up, and you fought until there was change. You helped change our state. You made a difference. Do you think he's basically -- that this is just kind of window dressing? You don't think he is really going to keep moving in this direction? You think this is as far as it's going to go for him?

KASKEY: Well, no. It's nice to see that it happened, and it's nice to see there were some people thinking more for the safety of the children than for their wallets. But I do think that Rick Scott is using this as an easy way out of the situation. And while we appreciate his praise it's -- this is not what we're looking for.

COOPER: Do you have a message, I wonder, for the NRA in light of the suit they have now filed against the State of Florida, arguing that legislation punishes law abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual?

[20:55:10]KASKEY: Well, this lawsuit is just another fund-raising opportunity for the NRA to pay Wayne LaPierre another $5 million. I mean it's for attention. The second amendment, if you really look at it, it's not final. It's not something that's set in stone. I mean, the First Amendment -- you've heard the fire in movie theater rhetoric. That was written before there were machine guns, and machine guns are illegal on a federal level. The fact that the NRA is claiming that they're defending everybody's Second Amendment rights, it's a bunch of nonsense.

COOPER: The march that's going to take place on the 24th, I'm wondering how the planning for it is going. What are your expectations?

KASKEY: The march is going exceedingly well, better than I could have ever imagined, hoped, dreamed and the only thing that's overwhelming here is that so many people are offering their help, that it's hard to keep track. But as problems go, that's a pretty good one to have.

COOPER: How is it being back at school?

KASKEY: Being back at school is a very -- it's very nice. And I'll tell you why. I was afraid that we were going to get back together and instantly everybody was going to be breaking out in tears. And while it's been emotional and while we've all been hurting, I've never seen more school spirit, ever. Stoneman Douglas is an amazing community, filled with more than 3,000 leaders, and I've never been prouder to be an Eagle in my entire life.

COOPER: Just finally, what happened in Florida with the Governor, do you think this is a victory against the NRA?

KASKEY: I think this is a victory for anybody who is trying to go to school and not get shot.

COOPER: Cameron Kakey, I appreciate your time. Thanks.

KASKEY: Thanks a lot.

COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight, an initially confusing statement by the White House Press Secretary on the planned meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and more developments in the Stormy Daniels Saga. More ahead.