Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Stormy Daniels Gives New Details Of Alleged Tryst with Donald Trump; Does Stormy Daniels' Interview Alter Political Balance?; Students Worldwide "March For Our Lives"; Trade War Fears Shake Stocks. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 26, 2018 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A former Republican senator says it is better to prepare for active shooters than to stop them. An emotional weekend across the country as activists flood big cities demanding action on gun violence.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, March 26th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the east. We will talk about the March For Our Lives across the country and around the world in a moment. But it's Monday so we are going to start with Stormy Daniels.

ROMANS: You take the next story.

BRIGGS: Adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, offering unprecedented details, says she was threatened to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 tryst with Donald Trump. In a highly anticipated interview with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes," Daniels says she was physically intimidated in Las Vegas in 2011 after trying to sell her story to "In Touch" magazine for $15,000.


STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. Taking the seats facing backwards in the backseat and diaper bag getting the stuff out. A guy walked up on me and said to me leave Trump alone and forget the story. He leaned over to my daughter. He said it's a beautiful little girl. It would be a shame if something happened to her mom.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You took it as a direct threat?

DANIELS: Yes. Absolutely. I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class. My hands were shaking so much I was afraid I was going to drop her.

COOPER: Did you ever see that person again?

DANIELS: No, but if I did, I would know it right away.

COOPER: You'd be able to recognize that person? DANIELS: One hundred percent, even now, all these years later. If he walked in the store right now, I would instantly know.

COOPER: Did you go to the police?



DANIELS: Because I was scared.


ROMANS: Two former "In Touch" employees tell "60 Minutes," the magazine backed out of the agreement after Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue. In a statement overnight, a lawyer for Cohen says Cohen had nothing to do with any threat against Daniels and does not believe it actually happened.

BRIGGS: In the interview, Daniels explained why she was risking $1 million fine for violating the hush agreement. She said it was very important to be able to defend herself and she said she signed the $130,000 non-disclosure agreement under intense pressure.


COOPER: If it was untruthful, why did you sign it?

DANIELS: Because they made it sound like I had no choice.

COOPER: No one was putting a gun to your head.

DANIELS: Not physical violence, no.

COOPER: You thought that there would be some sort of legal repercussion if you didn't sign it?

DANIELS: Yes. As a matter of fact, the exact statement used was they can make your life hell in many different ways.

COOPER: They being?

DANIELS: I'm not exactly sure who they were. I believe it to be Michael Cohen.


ROMANS: Daniels also detailed what she said was the one time she and Trump had sex after he showed her a magazine with his face on the cover.


DANIELS: Talking about yourself normally work? Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it. I'll never forget the look on his face. COOPER: What was the look?

DANIELS: I don't think anybody has ever spoken to him like that. Hand it over. So, he did. I was like, turn around. Drop them.

COOPER: You told Donald Trump to turn around and take off his pants?


COOPER: And did he?

DANIELS: Yes. So, he turned around and pulled his pants down. He had underwear on and stuff, and I just gave him a couple swats.


BRIGGS: You're welcome, America. Daniels did not unveil evidence of her alleged tryst with the president but hinted again she has not revealed everything she has, which is unusual. Before the interview aired, her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted, "Not all of our evidence will be mentioned or displayed tonight. That would be foolish. Tonight is the end. It's the beginning. The White House says President Trump denies the encounter ever happened.

ROMANS: The president was back at the White House last night. His wife, Melania Trump, the first lady stayed behind in Mar-a-Lago for a pre-planned spring break with their son. The first lady's spokeswoman did not mention the Daniels interview directly, but did tweet this, "I know the media is enjoying the speculation and salacious gossip. I like to remind people there is a minor child whose name should be kept out of news stories when it all possible."

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in our panel now, political economist, Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Investments, and CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Both are dying to discuss the spanky of Stormy and whatnot. Why does all this matter? Might it matter in the midterms or in 2020? If so, how?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. There is a political angle to this and it's about the midterms. Everyone is watching the different parts of the electorate going into the midterm elections. And one place the president and the Republicans are very vulnerable are with college educated suburban women.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the stories about the president and his policies that are alienating many women voters and energizing them going into this midterm. So, I think it can play into that especially the story about the threat against her.

[05:05:05] ROMANS: Greg, if you are -- there is that, the Stormy Daniels angle and this weekend of all of these kids and families in the streets asking for some kind of solution against gun violence. This is what "The New York Post" says. High school kids hope to ace midterms. If you are running for office and you see pictures in the streets and watching the Stormy Daniels saga, what is it saying for people running for office?

GREG VALLIERE, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: They are in trouble, but I would say this. I think if you hated Donald Trump before the interview, you still hate him. If you loved him before the interview, you still love him. I don't think the interview changed many votes. The gun story, however, I agree. I think that's a really big deal and I think the Republicans run a risk of being tone deaf. I don't think they get it. They don't understand the anger.

BRIGGS: When you talk about, Julian, these marches and the energy and massive crowd, estimated 500,000 people in D.C., how do they turn this into wins? How do they show something has come out of this issue? How do they focus this movement?

ZELIZER: Yes. There's two steps. One is going into the midterms. They have to do a little bit of what the Tea Party did with the health care debate under Obama. They have to go back to the districts, they and their families and they have to really put the pressure on members as they campaign to take a stand one way or the other on gun control.

BRIGGS: Single issue, though, can single issue voters be on the opposite end of the spectrum we come to expect on guns? Single issue gun voters have often been to keep guns in the hands of Americans.

ZELIZER: They can counteract that if they are energized through the summer and fall. They need families and other alliances. Other issue groups who are angry about the status quo to carry them through. There is a legislative battle they have to fight.

BRIGGS: Because nothing will get done this year. Congress is basically done legislating for the year.

ROMANS: Greg, you said the people don't get the -- you said Republicans don't get the anger that is out there and missing an important point. Rick Santorum, a former senator, said this on CNN this weekend. Listen.


RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about taking CPR classes or deal with situations with a violent shooter --

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: How are they looking in other -- I would ask they took action.

SANTORUM: They took action and asked someone to pass a law. They didn't take action how do I as an individual deal with this problem. How do I stop bullying within the community? What do I do to respond? Those are the kinds of things where you take it internally and say this is how I will deal with it and help the situation.


ROMANS: Greg, wow. VALLIERE: Yes. Yes. This does not help the party. I said before and I'll say it again. I think the Republicans look tone deaf on this issue. They don't get it. These young people have touched a nerve. If Republicans sound like Rick Santorum, they are in big trouble in November.

BRIGGS: Are they, though? Here are the numbers from the Fox News poll over the weekend, 91 percent of registered voters want universal background checks. The stunner is raising the legal age to buy guns to 21 from 18, 72 percent, Julian. Will we see that in the midterms?

ZELIZER: Again, it is about potential where we had marches like this. We had a march like this in 2000 and it fizzled in terms of what happened next. Those polls should scare legislators about where this could go. It is about what the students and their families and the organizations can do to respond to those jaw-dropping moments that Rick Santorum just provided them.

ROMANS: Women voters will be key in the midterms. Greg, let's talk about trade here. We heard from Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, this weekend. He is tamping down worries of a trade war. Listen.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: So, as President Trump said, we are not afraid in the trade war, but that is not our objective. I think we are working on a pathway to see if we can reach an agreement as to what fair trade is for them to open up their markets, reduce their tariffs, and stop force technology transfer. These are all the things we want to do.


ROMANS: Front page of "The Wall Street Journal" this morning, a story about how China and the U.S. are aiming to ease the trade rift. They are quiet talks about boosting market access. That was last week. Worries of a trade war are very bad things. Is it all better now? Futures are up this morning.

VALLIERE: I think this is a really big story, Christine, for the markets this morning, this "Wall Street Journal" story. Both sides are talking. You know, the Trump administration has already backed down on the steel tariffs with most of our allies.

[05:10:04] The Chinese retaliation that they talked about last week was $3 billion. That's not a lot. I think both sides want to avoid a crisis and my bottom line is this is a trade dispute. It is not a trade war.

BRIGGS: If you look just below that on the "Wall Street Journal," there is a story about farm income and how (INAUDIBLE) since 2006, and that Julian, could really impact Trump voters. That's where they come from.

ZELIZER: Absolutely. That rural vote is central to both his support and to Republican support now, and if those incomes are doing poorly, if those areas are suffering, then you combine that with the enthusiasm of the opposition. Republicans have a big problem in the midterms. The Republicans cannot afford those kinds of numbers.

ROMANS: What I learned today is that Dave Briggs read more of "The Wall Street Journal" than I did. All right. Guys, come back in about a half hour. We'll talk to you more. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Ahead, a U.S. military veteran brought to this country legally as a child deported back to Mexico in the dark of night. Why? That's next.



ROMANS: We are expecting to hear today from attorneys representing the family of an unarmed black man shot and killed by police in Sacramento. Officers say they thought Stephon Clark was holding a gun when they encountered him standing in his grandmother's backyard. But investigators only found a cell phone near his body. Attorney Benjamin Crump telling CNN he plans to conduct his own investigation.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF STEPHON CLARK: It is shocking when you think about somebody being shot 20 times as you watch that video and you say my God, they did not give him a chance to comply. It is more shocking to me as a father of black boys to say don't he get the benefit of some consideration?


BRIGGS: New questions this morning about why officers at the scene were instructed to mute their body cameras after Clark was shot. The officers are now on paid administrative leave. The department says they are getting death threats. The city was calm over the weekend. The Sacramento Kings played at home on Sunday. They did not see the repeat of last week when protesters blocked the main entrances.

ROMANS: A U.S. army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico. Miguel Perez came to the U.S. legally at age 8. His application for citizenship was denied due to a felony drug conviction.

The 39-year-old Perez said what he saw and experienced in Afghanistan in the two tours sent his life off the rails leading to drinking and drug addiction. Perez, his family and supporters including Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth argue that his war time service had earned him the right to stay in the United States.

BRIGGS: All right. Next stop, San Antonio, four teams still dancing including Sr. Jean. Coy Wire breaks down the final four in the "Bleacher Report" next.


BRIGGS: Final four set with the Cinderella looking among the three former national champions. Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Last night, you had two basketball (inaudible) overtime thriller. Kansas has made it to the elite eight in the last two seasons but lost both times and late in the game last night it was looking like mental demons and blue devils could send them home again, until two seniors stepped up.

An incredible pass from Devonte Grant to (inaudible) three languages that's saying something there tying the game with that clutch 3:25 seconds to go. Then in the final seconds, as time stood still. Grayson Allen's shot with the chance to win. No, to overtime it goes.

That is where Malik Newman rises to the occasion for Kansas. He scored all 13 of his points in overtime. Leading the Jayhawks to the 85-81 win over Duke to go dancing to the final four in San Antonio, which is exactly where they won the school's last national title ten years ago.


DEVONTE GRAHAM, KANSAS GUARD: We do it for moments like this and it is special. You know, especially here with the same game the last two years and losing it. Getting over that hump and it feels unbelievable.

GRAYSON ALLEN, DUKE COACH: We wanted to be the team winning at the end of the year. It is so abrupt. At the end of the game comes and it's over. So, it hurts. You can't say more than that.


WIRE: Before that game it was Villanova proving why they are the beast of the east. The Wildcats mauled Texas Tech, 71-59. In this era one-and-done players, Nova is the exception. They still have four players remaining from the team that won it all two years ago.

Madness is real in Chicago. Final four bound Loyola Ramblers and their 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean returned home to a hero's welcome. The first time Loyola has been back to the final four since 1963. Christine and Dave, that year, they won the national championship.

Next Saturday it will be the Cinderella fighting genes with Loyola and Michigan and then Kansas and Villanova. I don't know who I think will win it all. I don't know who I want to win it all. You know, there are good teams in the match up.

ROMANS: You want Sr. Jean on your side.

BRIGGS: He has a crush. ROMANS: That 1963 team, I didn't realize the history there. They won the national championship and the first team to integrate.

BRIGGS: Only team in Illinois history to win a national -- you have a crush on Sr. Jean.

WIRE: Sr. Jean is not my lover, but I'm in love with Sr. Jean. She was a teacher at what was then an all-girls school. You know your stuff. She has been at it a long time. Hopefully, she can get another national champ.

ROMANS: My sisters-in-law all know Sr. Jean. She said she gave up losing for lent.

BRIGGS: We go through the week, let's talk about Richardson and Custer having played together since third grade. Hopefully, the players get love. Coy, thank you.

[05:25:07] ROMANS: Wow, from Sr. Jean to Stormy Daniels. That is a tough (inaudible).

BRIGGS: There is no segue there.

ROMANS: Stormy Daniels details her alleged affair with Donald Trump. Some salacious details, but the headlines is accusations of intimidation and a coverup allegedly by associates of Donald Trump.



DANIELS: I was like turn around. Drop them.

COOPER: You told Donald Trump to turn around and take off his pants?

DANIELS: Yes. He had underwear on and stuff and I just gave him a couple of swaths.


ROMANS: Stormy Daniels goes public about her alleged tryst with Donald Trump.