tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 27, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
stormy daniels? as the white house again denies allegations of an affair, i'll talk to stormy daniels' lawyer. paying for it. looking for ways to keep his campaign promise. the president is asking about using the military budget to fund a border wall. why should the government pay for it when he pledged that mexico would pick up the bill? and a high security mystery train leaves beijing as quietly as it arrived. was kim jong-un on board for his first foreign trip? we have new information. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> breaking news, after joining allies and cracking down, president trump is staying quiet. he's not even tapping out tweets. ignoring call to challenge
vladimir putin. and the white house is dodging questions for the president in the stormy daniels controversy, refusing to say why his lawyer paid the porn star $130,000 while repeating that the president denies the allegations of an affair. i'll speak with stormy daniels' attorney, michael avenatti. and he is standing by live. our specialists and correspondents are also standing by. first, let's go chief to our correspondent. why is president trump so suddenly silent? >> perhaps it is the calm before the tweet storm but he's been uncharacteristically silent. the white house continued to make the case that the president is getting tough on russia over the poisoning of an exrussian spy on british soil. but aides are also struggling to explain why the president is not speaking out more on moscow's bad behavior or allegations of his own. this week president trump has been the commander in brief. steering clear of any major
comments two issues nagging his administration. russia and stormy daniels. pulling his punches, enstefd delivering them. >> the president is incredibly engaged. he gives us messages to deliver on his behalf. he's also put out a number of tweets over the last week. he has a country to run and he's doing a great job with that. sometimes he chooses to specifically engage and punch back and sometimes he doesn't. >> reporter: once again president left to it his press office to say that they're doing enough to punish russia, are 60 russian diplomats are being kicked out of u.s. >> we're shirt applying pressure on russia. we're working our allies and partners. >> reporter: the critics are wonder yes, mr. trump isn't sounding off on vladimir putin, accused of being behind the poisoning of the exspies in
britain. >> i had a call with president putin. and i congratulated him on the victory. his electoral victory. >> reporter: the white house has exaggerated its actions, with one spokesman claiming that it sanctioned oligarchs tied to putin. >> would this president consider sanctioning vladimir putin? >> the united states has issued sanctions on key russian oligarchs in response to the meddling in the 2016 election. >> only to have another spokesperson it hasn't happened yet. >> we can't just sanction responsible taken justly. >> even the republicans wish the president would say more. >> i think he needs to speak more forcefully. russia is becoming a are bit of a that a rye pariah state. >> and on stormy daniels, the porn star who said she was paid off to cover up her affair with
mr. trump. he tweeted, since this is what really matters, the ratings for my client stormy daniels' appearance on 60 minutes crushed by millions, as well as the november 2016 appearance. an attorney for the personal lawyer michael cohen who allegedly made the porn star spamt firing back. >> stormy daniels is sthopg best deal she can shop. i call exit torsion. >> as for the legal team, the white house brushed off questions about why so many high profile troerns turning down the chance. >> the president has a highly qualified team with several individuals that have been part of the process. ty cobb, jay sekulow. >> reporter: the president is scrambling to find a way to pay for the wall on the brord, talking about taking it from pent. >> i can't get into the specifics but i can tell you that the continuation of
building a wall is ongoing. >> perhaps because that would be a sign of a key campaign promise that is tumbling down. >> and who will pay for the wall? 100%. >> not so much. the president suggested the idea having the pentagon pay for the wall last week, part of problem with that idea is that the administration simply cannot just take moan from the military. that would require another vote from congress. clearly, wolf, the president's proposal to have mexico pay for the wall has appeared to have gone out the window. >> that's what it appears to be. thanks. a legal fight takes shape. let's to go our national correspondent. what is the latest? >> hi, wolf. what is so interesting about all of this is that stormy daniels and her attorney are avid
twitter users, something they share in common with the president. they are making their case to the american public. for dmanls particular to defend herself. this is something we're used to seeing the president do. mr. trump is staying publicly silent on the matter and hasn't even mentioned her by name. tonight a new round of denials from the white house on donald trump's alleged relationship with stormy daniels. press secretary sarah sanders denying claims that trump had an affair with her in 2006 after daniels spoke about her encounters in a 60 minutes interview. >> i can tell you the president has denied the allegations. >> meanwhile, are daniels,s and real name is stephanie clifford, and the attorney is heating up. tweeting key sections of the complaint accusing cohen of defamation. >> he made some statements earlier this year where he
basically said that the affair never happened. in not so many words. and made my client out to be a liar. so we'll test veracity of the statements. >> he argues cohen's february statement explaining the ability of $130,000 he facilitated for daniels, not to tell her story, was meant to imply or insinuate that daniels was lying about her affair with trump. it included the phrase, just because something isn't true doesn't mean it can't cause you harm or damage. the friend or lawyer in another matter said that charge would not hold up in court. >> a judge on defamation. it doesn't even pass the smell test. >> and he points out the legal and ethical violations that were made. a famt white house says trump did not know about and for which cohen said trump did not provide any reimbursement.
avenatti tweeting, the deal was void from the start based on ill legality because it was to cover up adultous conduct. and he says he has several leads on who was responsible for making threats against daniels. >> i was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. the seats in the back seat, diaper bag, getting all the stuff out. and a guy walked up on me and said to me, leave trump alone. forget the story. and then he leaned around and looked at my daughter, a beautiful little girl. it would be a shame if something happened to your mom. >> you took it as a direct threat. absolutely. >> neither trump nor -- he believes it came from a trump associate. >> we know it is not my client
that extent goon. there's only one logical place left as to who would have sent the goon. >> now daniels has said the president knows she's telling truth. when she was asked to share any texts, photos or other items, she said her lawyer advised her not to do so for now. michael avenatti said it would be foolish to share it now and that the 60 minutes interview is not the end. it is the beginning. warning trump and cohen allies to buckle up for more. making it clear over and over again they are not going away. >> thanks for that report. thanks for joining us. >> that lots of questions. let's start with your reaction to sarah sanders today. she said there's no truth to your client's allegations. what is your response? >> i didn't hear her say that.
any time white house has spoken on this, we have to parse words, unfortunately. they refuse to make clear and unequivocal statement. why we haven't heard from the president as to these allegations is really beyond me. i do not understand. this man can tweet about a whole host of the most mundane things in the world on a consistent basis. and yet he cannot come out and state unequivocally that she was not in his hotel room. they didn't have an affair. that he knew nothing of the agreement, knew nothing of the payment, et cetera. i think the reason why is clear. my client is telling the truth and he knows it. >> yesterday, the press secretary said -- they said that nothing could be believed because of the inconsistencies. they said don't believe anything she says. they cite her january 10th statement this year when she
said i recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that aid sexual relationship with donald trump many years ago. i am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false. my involvement with donald trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more. then a few days later, january 30th, she said among other things. i am not deng it because i was paid hush money as has been said. i am de denying this because it never happened. >> what's interesting about this, my client sat for a nearly two-hour interview with anderson cooper, one of the best in the business, in the world. answered tough questions. i've come your show and others and answered tough questions. from the white house and mr. cohen, what do we get? we get me schwartz. basically a talking held who is not even involved in the case.
why can't the president or mr. cohen to answer the tough questions. >> we've invited mr. cohen and so far he's declined. hopefully at some point he will come out. the lawyer did say the $130,000 payment was not hush money. it was legal extortion. your reaction. >> well, wolf, there $130,000 payment story, it continues to evolve. it makes no sense. if you buy into their story, and you buy into the white house explanation to the extent that they provided one, you have to believe the following. in the two weeks prior to the campaign, michael cohen gets a call from my client or one of the representatives. they couldn't clued that she has no basis in reality. there is no truth to the statement. there never was an affair. et cetera, et cetera. how do they respond? they promptly pay her $130,000. it doesn't make any sense, wolf.
it doesn't add up. the american people are smarter than this. the american people know that neither michael cohen nor donald trump would pay somebody that just came out of wood work. $130,000 unless there was some validity to what she said. >> why did she deny there was an affair in those signed statements? >> well, i think she explained this in detail. she was intimidated. she was concerned for her safety. what's interesting, i saw the lead-up piece related to who would pay for the wall. i think michael cohen will pay for the wall. >> i don't know if he has that $20 or $50 billion. a lot of experts believe the defamation suit against michael cohen that you filed is simply a tactic on move this case out of arbitration, into court where the president of the united states potentially could be deposed. is that true?
>> no. that's not true. this case will never end up in arbitration. the agreement was never signed by mr. trump and he had to sign it for there to be a binding deal. we're highly confident it won't end up in arbitration. and the attorneys for the president have made a fundamental blunder which i think will become apparent here in the next couple days, relacing to removing this case or the federal court. and i look forward to when that blunder surfaces. >> you tweeted earlier today that you're making progress on finding the man who allegedly threatened your client in that parking lot in 2011. how close are you to identifying that individual? >> well, i won't say that we're close but i will stay last 24 to 36 hours have been very fruitful. we're continuing to be provided
information relating to possible leads, et cetera. i'm hopeful we can identify that person. not only identify them but where they came from and who instructed them to carry out this threat. >> are you working law enforcement to conduct this investigation? >> i'm not at lebanon to discuss that. >> why not? >> well, because i'm not at lebanon to discuss and it i don't think it would be appropriate. >> people say why not work police? maybe they could hell help near over down a list of suspects? >> i'm not saying that we are or we're not. i'm not at liberty to discuss what's transpiring. >> and remind us why she didn't report the threat right after it occurred back then. >> she was terrified. and i don't think that's unusual. people are victimized all the time and they don't report it to the police because they're concerned for their safety or the safety of others. i don't think there's anything unusual about it. >> did she report it contemporaneously to friends,
associates? >> she did. she did mention to it others. >> can you tell us who? >> i don't have the names at this time. >> if you can't find individual who allegedly made these threats, how does your client prove that this took place? >> well, she's answered the question under questioning by anderson cooper. what you see what you get. she's very, very credible. she is certainly more credible than michael cohen. not even close. i think the american people will judge her credible. >> a couple other loose ends. your client, mcdougal, is it sfrank they both hired the same person, giving up their right to tell their stories?
>> i was not involved then and i'm not in a that's on to pass judgment as to that question. i won't answer it. >> because he says helawyer-cli confidentiality agreement. are you will to release him from that? >> ultimately that's my client's decision and i have not communaled with or about it. >> you've said you have six more women who have come with similar stories. have you found them to be credible? >> i can announce the number isn't six anymore. it is now eight. >> and how credible are their stories? are they similar to what your client, what karen mcdougal has suggested? >> there are similarities. but we have not fully vetted them, and as you know when you have something of this nature,
we have an ethical responsibility to cross our ts and dot our is. >> a couple questions. do you know whether these six or eight women also signed confidentiality agreements? >> we understand that two of them have. >> do you know if they were $130,000, $150,000, a broad range of how much money was involved? >> i'm not at liberty to discuss that. i'm sorry. >> it seems your client is perhaps only person throughout right now who can get the president to stop tweeting about something. how do you explain the president's silence on this case? >> well, i think the president is rightfully concerned if he comes out and calls my client a liar, or suggests that she's not telling truth, there will be
serious consequences. he's exercised good judgment. they're trying to have their cake and eat it too. if the president claims this didn't happen, she come out under equivocally and state it. just like bill clinton did as it related to the monica lewinsky scandal. and of course that turned out to be false. just like others have done. where he is the president? where is michael cohen? i think their absence speaks volumes. >> thank you for joining us. i'm sure we'll have you back to continue this conversation. up next, breaking news. our new poll is just in. as america weighs in on donald trump. president trump is having trouble finding and keeping lawyers to defend him in the
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if your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, talk to your parkinson's specialist. there are treatment options that can help. my visitors should be the ones i want to see. a new poll is just out with some striking indications about how the public views the russia probe he and a possible north korea summit. our political director has been going through the numbers for us. where is the polling when it comes to the mueller investigation? >> we asked if people approve or not the way bob mueller is handling the investigation. take a look at his approval rating. it is at 48%. remarkably consistent over the
last several months. that compares with donald trump's approval rating on this very issue. we also asked about whether people think majorly an effect on discredit the president. 58% in the polls say it is a serious matter. 36% say it is an effort to discredit trump. but look at this by party. where you sit is how you see this investigation. nothing has changed on that front for months. 92% of democrats see it as a serious matter. that compares to 57% of independents and only 19% of republicans. flip it over. this is may notally an effort to discredit trump. 73% of republicans say that's what it is compared to 36% of independents and 5% of democrats. we wanted to know red line. can mueller investigate trump's finances? what do you think? 67% of americans in this poll say mueller should be able to investigate trump's finances.
on 28% say he should not. >> you poll the american public on how the president is handling the situation with north korea, kim jong-un, what did you find? >> what we find is movement and a lot of it. we asked the overall, how does donald trump approve or disapprove? look at the changing here. 43% approve now. 49% disapprove. that 43% is a high water month. look at november. 33%. clearly the outreach is having an impression. how do i know? do you approve or disapprove of the decision to meet with kim jong-un? nearly two-thirds of americans skoorks% approve of trump's decision on meet with kim jong-un. and presumably, he is supposed to meet with him the end of may. thank you for all those numbers. coming up, our top lawyers declining offers to join president trump's defense team and the russia probe.
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two more have turned down the offer to join the defense citing business conflicts. this makes the fifth major law if i recall that we know of to receive a recent invitation to help the president with the russia probe. let's bring in our an listeraly. why is the president having such a hard time finding a law firm on defend him? >> in washington, d.c. number one, he is running his own legal strategy. he is a terrible client. there are lots of law firms that feel they're couldn't afflicted from joining his team because they represent other people in this investigation that has really spread. and i think that there are lots of lawyers with whom i've spoken and my colleagues have spoken who said, he wouldnt take our advice. that's one of the reasons john dowd quit. if you have a client who won't take your advice, why would you represent him? now i will tell you from my
reporting inside the white house, they are saying there's to rush to get another attorney. that he is doing just fine over whether the president will testify and that eventually they may bring on another attorney or so. and my interpretation of that is quite frankly, if the democrats win back the house, i think they have to have an attorney that might have some experience with the question of impeachment. >> jay sekulow, his back ground is constitutional law. not necessarily defense. and this is really an important investigation. an important case. shouldn't high profile lawyers be standing in line getting toward help the president? >> absolutely. and i think there are two main points here veflt important words. high profile, very experienced lawyers, willing to take the
case. he can get any lawyer to come take this case. they want the publicity behind it. but this is a bigger problem for the narrative around donald trump. we've seen it now, 14, final months of him being in office. he is not loyal. he will not listen to advice, and you can't trust your own colleague or in this case, your own client. that's why you're seeing the likes of ted olson and others around town who are saying, you know what? this case isn't for me. i'm sorry. i'm conflicted. i wish you well. >> the solicitor gentle at the justice department. we see chaos among the legal team but plenty elsewhere in the trump administration. is the president stirring up a lot of controversy? a lot of commotion right now? >> absolutely. this is all coming from the top. when we see the chaos in the white house, it starts with the president. the president enjoys the chaos. he feeds off it.
so it is much bigger than just his legal team. has the systemic problem in this administration. and it absolutely starts with president trump himself. but it is not in his mind a problem he needs to solve. it is a feature. not a bug of this administration in his mind. >> is it consideration we draw any conclusions, sabrina, about whether the president will or won't testify before mueller's team some. >> certainly even though president has said he would like the talk to the special counsel, he and his legal team have been unable to agree on the parameters of an interview or even a time or date to sit down. i think one of the concerns baltimore if the president did testify, he would open up to even more legal peril. we know he is a president who has a problem with the truth so he could commit perjury.
it doesn't really mat here comes is that goes with respect to the legal team. the problem here is not the lawyer, or who is on the legal team. the problem is the client. and there's no predictability when it comes to trump who have seen him try on disdread special counsel and its investigation. he does that frequently in tweets. that's not something that i think any high profile lawyer is willing to deal with what might happen tomorrow. >> does this depleted legal team make him more vulnerable right now to mueller? >> i think you know, inside the white house they say absolutely not. it is proceeding as it should proceed. jay sekulow was in all those conversations with the special counsel's team, i know what john dowd. but of course they need some back-up here. they need, you know, they need some more heft. not to say that ty cobb isn't doing his job. but if in the end, they let the
president testify. they need to figure out how to brief him and how to get him narrowed down and how to get him not to and pound on everything when he answers questions. or if they make the constitutional case, and take it all the way to the supreme court. they're going to need some additional help. i would argue that's where someone like ted olson would have really come in handy to help with all these constitut n constitutional issues. they have co-authored the integrity chakt would prevent the removal of the special counsel? >> it says a lot about congress' trust in the commander in chief that they pro actively have to pass legislation to prevent him from doing something he may or may not do. signing on not only to the
legislation with senator kuhns. but others who work together on legislation the same way. here's the reason why. it is hard for republicans to pass it. that means you are then acknowledging that you can't trust donald trump and he may go forward. that's a bad thing for republicans. >> stick around. asking about reports that the president is reaching out to rob port he. the one time top aide at the white house who resigned after both his ex-wives publicly accused him of assault and abuse. and later, was kim jong-un aboard a mysterious train that just paid a visit to china? le g. a cockroach can survive submerged underwater for 30 minutes. wow. yeah. not getting in today. terminix. defenders of home.
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"wow, maybe i'll glow too if i book direct at choicehotels.com." who glows? just say, badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com. sources are tell cnn the president is floating the idea of having the pentagon pay for the wall. will that fly? >> i don't think so. it is very inventive. i'll give him credit. now towed sign this huge spending bill cle wasn't happy about signing. the president is saying can you just use some of the money in there and it has to be reprogrammed chflt means that it would have to be voted on by congress which means it is not going anywhere.
certainly the president would like folks pay for the wall. that's not happening. >> second choice. >> certainly not going to happen. how this all works the president colonels out with his idea. congress goes through their priorities, and ear marks where the money is going. congress has to approve every dime. >> the other story we're looking at is the president has been in touch with rob porter, his former aide who left the white house amid these allegations from his ex-wives. >> clearly the president not too concerned by the allegations against rob porter and it really reinforces something we know about the president. even when his associates are not working for him any longer, officially working for him, he
continues many of those people. he keeps in touch with rob porter and prreince priebus. no one is ever truly gone. >> no one can speak for the president and what he might do. jared kushner's security clearance was down grade in part because the porter investigation. it showed the president is willing to tolerate mistreatment of women. >> i'm waiting for steve bannon to come back to the white house. >> you never know what will happen down the road. coming up, new fallout from the stormy daniels interview. and next, who was on that mysterious train that pulled up in beijing? did kim jong-un travel to china this week? this is laura.
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this afternoon over at the white house, the press secretary sarah huckabee sanders refusing to confirm or deny whether the kim jong-un has been in china. there are intriguing questions about who may have been aboard a special train that was seen this week in beijing. brian todd has been working his sources. what are you learning?
>> reporter: we're told u.s. and south korean intelligence agencies are monitoring the train's movements, the secretive visit to beijing very closely. it's got crucial ramifications for kim jong-un's possible summit with president trump with the south korean president and for his relationship with china as the u.s. intelligence official tells us tonight, north korea's ties with its closest ally are at the lowest point they've been in recent history. an imposing motorcade darts back to the rail station in beijing and just as mysteriously it arrives a high security train with bulletproof carriages departures the chinese capitals. it's highly likely that kim jong-un was on board the train. analysts say if kim did visit china to possibly meet with president xi jinping it would be extraordinary. >> this would be the first time that kim jong-un has left north korea since taking power. >> reporter: and the first time
kim would have met with a foreign head of state. analysts say the chinese leader may have wanted to signal to kim that china didn't want to be left out in the cold, that he wanted to be briefed with the upcoming summit and his potential meeting with president trump. there could have been a stern warning to the young dictator. >> my assumption is the chinese are basically told him you're antics are creating big tensions with the united states. it's not in our interest. we know you're under some pressure and we're willing to help you out but you need to tone it down and now that the americans are showing some willingness to meet with you, you need to start playing ball. >> reporter: the chinese are believed to have been furious with kim jong-un for his ramped up nuclear and missile tests and for executing his own uncle considered china's man in pyongyang. tonight the train itself is the focus of intrigue. it's hugely symbolic. kim's father and grandfather used the train when they
traveled to china and russia. a russian diplomat said in those days live lobsters and expensive wine were delivered to stops along the way and the train was staffed by, quote, beautiful lady conductors. >> they have good-looking young women that work for the supreme leader in his offices and so those women do perform the same tasks on the train when kim jong-un uses it. >> reporter: analysts say when the train moves around inside north korea it's got one train ahead of it and one behind it. other security measures they say are remarkable. >> it is armored. it has the ability on the roof of the train, there's the ability to land a helicopter while the train is moving. there are air escorts with the train. there are north korean air force jets that will fly over while the train moves through north korea. >> reporter: by taking the train and not a plane, kim jong-un can have many more of his top aids and officials along with
military and security personnel with him and can keep his hands more tightly gripped on the levers of power. >> is it possible, brian, that kim jong-un's sister could have been on that train? >> reporter: absolutely. analysts say if kim jong-un was not on that train his sister likely would have been. she is now kim's most trusted aide. hess the second most powerful person in north korea and she is seen as the catalyst for so much of these recent diplomatic breakthroughs given her visit to the winter olympics and her meetings with moon jae-in. >> we should find out sooner rather than later who was on that train. brian, thanks very much for that report. coming up, president trump is rarely silent about anything, so why is he keeping quiet about stormy daniels? and he's taking action against russia but why isn't he talking about it? the white house tries to come up with answers. wow. yeah. not getting in today.
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call today. happening now, silent on stormy, the white house struggles to explain why the president isn't punching back as the porn star speaks out about their alleged affair and escalates her lawsuit against mr. trump's lawyer. new questions this hour about his sudden show of restraint. shrinking team, the president is trying and failing to hire more lawyers to defend him against robert mueller's russia investigation. why do superstar attorneys keep telling him know. and nassar's boss charged, the former dean who oversaw the olympic doctor is now accused of sex crimes himself. stunning new details this hour about the allegations of assault, harassment and poerng. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world.
i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room". announcer: this is cnn breaking news. the white house is now in the rather unusual position of downplaying his silence insisting his incredibly engaged. even if that's true, mr. trump remains quiet in public about two very sensitive subjects, russia and porn star stormy daniels. our correspondence, analysts and experts are all standing by as we cover all the new developments. first let's go to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. the president is letting his aides do the talking. >> reporter: he seems to be holding his fire, wolf, and perhaps it's the calm before the tweet storm. he's been uncharacteristically silent. the white house continue to make the case today that the president is getting tough on