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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 19, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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then again, dreaming is how i got this far. now more businesses in more places can afford to dream gig. comcast, building america's largest gig-speed network. happening now, breaking news. pushing a conspiracy. we're told that an aggressive former prosecutor who claims there's a brazen fbi and justice department plot to frame the president will be joining the trump defense team. what does it reveal about mr. trump's legal strategy in the russia probe? lashing out. as the president rails against the special counsel, his lawyers reportedly are taking new steps to try to limit what robert mueller might ask mr. trump in an interview. i'll ask the top democrats in the house and senate intelligence committees what they're learning. not going home.
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stormy daniels' lawyers says the porn star is not backing down from her fight with the president. why is the president all but admitting his part in trying to buy her silence. and texas terror. after a fourth explosion in austin, authorities now say a serial bomber is on the loose. tonight, local residents have more reason to fear that anyone in the city could be targeted next. 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. >> we're following breaking news on president trump's legal battle with special counsel robert mueller. "the washington post" reporting tonight that mr. trump's lawyers have provided mueller's office with descriptions of key moments under investigation in the russia probe. their goal, to limit the scope of a presidential interview. this as we're told mr. trump is hiring a veteran lawyer who's
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been promoting a stunning and unproven theory that some fbi and justice department officials are framing mr. trump. i'll talk with the top democrats on the house and senate intelligence committees, congressman adam schiff and senator mark warner. they're both key players in the russia probe in congress. and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. first, let's go to our senior white house correspondent, pamela brown. pamela, things clearly are heating up in the russia investigation. >> that's right, wolf. and we have learned that there has been recent back and forth between robert mueller's team and the president's lawyers about a possible interview. this as a source close to the president tells us that the president is growing increasingly agitated as he realizes what his own lawyers have been telling him about the russia probe ending soon isn't actually happening. >> the good old usa. >> reporter: tonight, an emboldened president trump is taking a more aggressive stance towards special counsel robert mueller and his investigators. as we learned, the president is
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adding a new attorney to his legal team, joe digenova, who has pushed conspiracy theories. >> they tried to frame an incoming president with a false russian conspiracy that never existed and they knew it and they plotted to ruin him as a candidate and then destroy him as a president. >> mr. president, does robert mueller still have your confidence? mr. president! >> reporter: in a series of tweets over the weekend, the president signaled his strong desire for the russia probe to come to an end, tweeting this morning, a total witch hunt with massive conflicts of interest. so far, three trump campaign associates have pleaded guilty and mueller's team indicted 13 russians for election meddling. a move that prompted the administration to issue sanctions against them just last week. >> i'm just puzzled by why the white house is going so hard at this. other than they're very afraid of what might come out.
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i don't know how you can have any other conclusion. >> reporter: for the first time, trump attacked mueller by name, asking, why does the mueller team have 13 hardened democrats, some big crooked hillary supporters, and zero republicans? his question was rhetorical as well as incorrect, as mueller himself is a republican. as is deputy attorney general, general rod rosenstein, who oversees the probe. and this tweet on saturday had many questioning if the president is setting the stage for mueller's firing. "the mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime." that tweet caused white house attorney ty cobb to issue a statement once again saying that there are no plans to fire mueller. trump himself can't fire mueller directly, he'd need the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, to do it. or trump would need to replace his attorney general jeff sessions, because of his earlier recusal from the russia probe. on saturday, one of the president's attorneys released a statement attacking the investigation as manufactured and called on rosenstein to end
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it. "i pray that acting the attorney general rosenstein will bring an end to alleged russia collusion investigation." but the president did get one firing he wanted. deputy director of the fbi, andrew mccabe, was fired by sessions on friday, just two days short of retiring with a full pension. trump gleefully called the firing, quote, a great day for democracy. a notion that received pushback from his own party. >> the president said it was a great day for democracy yesterday. i think it was a horrible day for democracy. to have firings like this happening at the top, from the president and the attorney general does not speak well for what's going on. >> reporter: mccabe's attorney coming to his client's defense, calling trump's tweets childish, defamatory, and disgusting. tweeting, "the tweets confirm that he has corrupted the entire process that led to mr. mccabe's termination and has rendered it illegitimate." the president making another news splash today at an opioid
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prevention event in new hampshire, suggesting that some high-level drug dealers be given the death penalty. >> the ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty. now, maybe our country's not ready for that. it's possible. it's possible that our country is not ready for that. and i can understand it, maybe. although, personally, i can't understand that. >> reporter: and the president has arrived back here at the white house from new hampshire. the president ignored reporters' questions, including the question about why he just recently tweeted that there was no plan to add to his legal team when clearly, wolf, that is not the case with the news out today. in the meantime, a source familiar with the matter says the president is realizing the recent indications between a subpoena on the trump organization, recent negotiations between his lawyers and the robert mueller investigators, it's clear that this russia probe is not going end to anytime soon and that agitation from the president is what spilled over on twitter over the weekend with the president attacking robert mueller by name.
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wolf? >> good point. pamela, thank you. tonight, as president trump is lawyering up and attacking robert mueller, many members of congress are very anxious about the next shoe to drop. let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, manu raju. manu, you've been talking to some republicans about the president's new tirade against the special counsel. what are you hearing? >> reporter: yeah, republicans do not like the attacks the president has been waging against the special counsel. they are asking him to back off, to cool it, to not go after the special counsel. they believe it's not helpful for his cause and they certainly do not want him to fire robert mueller. they believe that he did take steps to do that, it would cause a revolt on capitol hill. but, wolf, republicans by and large do not support moving any legislation to protect robert mueller. there's a push from democrats and some republicans to do just that. even those one republican today, bob corker, suggested that a bill to protect robert mueller should be added to a must-pass bill to keep the government open by friday.
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the president launched all of these attacks against bob mueller over the weekend. i wonder if you feel -- if you're okay with that? >> uh, no. i -- i -- i don't like that and i noticed subsequently that they sent out a release from the white house saying they have no discussions and no intentions of terminating him. but, no, i think he needs to leave mueller alone. >> reporter: do you think that there needs to be an effort in congress to protect him legislatively? a bill to protect -- >> you know, i can't imagine -- i can't possibly imagine why senate leadership wouldn't place a protection in tthis omni that coming through. that would be the perfect place for them to deal with it. >> reporter: how would republicans react, do you think, if he fired mueller? >> i think there would be a total upheaval in the senate. >> i think the president ought to cool it a little bit. because i think it doesn't help him. look, i like the president. he's a person of strong emotions
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and he sometimes speaks out when he shouldn't. and in the case of bob mueller, i like bob mueller. he's honest. he's a very good prosecutor. he's straightforward. and i think it's not going to indict the president and i think the president should treat it that way. it would be the stupidest thing the president could do is fire him. yeah, he could do that, but he's not going to do that. and he shouldn't do that. >> reporter: now, wolf, orrin hatch also told me that he does not support legislation to protect robert mueller and neither does senator lindsey graham, at least not passing something right now. and that's notable because lindsey graham is one of the sponsors of two bipartisan bills to protect robert mueller. he just told me just moments ago, he does not believe they should move on this right now, because he does not think that robert mueller will be fired. also, john cornyn, the number two republican says he does not
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think it's necessary to pick that fight with the president. and you're hearing some frustrations with republicans about the republican leadership's stance on this, including mitch mcconnell, who has been quiet so far. jeff flake, just moments ago raising concerns that mitch mcconnell has not said anything since president launched all of those attacks against robert mueller over the weekend, wolf. >> manu raju up on capitol hill, thank you. let's talk about all of the breaking news in the russia investigation with the ranking democrat in the thousanhouse intelligence committee, congressman adam schiff. thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> so the official line from the white house is the president isn't thinking about firing the robert mueller. how believable is that? >> it's not very credible when you consider the fact that there's good reporting that the president actually had ordered his firing earlier in a fit of pique or when concerned about the latest russia developments. here it's hard to escape the conclusion that this timing isn't related to the reports that mueller has subpoenaed business records from the trump
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organization. members need to do more than just speak out in hushed tones. we ought to include in the omnibus a provision that says you cannot fire mueller but for good cause, that there's a right of appeal, essentially, and that all the documents be preserved and provided to congress. that would speak a lot more than the occasional murmurings of members of congress. skprt speaker not to speak out invites the kind of constitutional crisis we would have if the president were to fire mueller. >> do you believe, congressman, these latest tweets from the president, which are official statements from the president, amount to obstruction of justice or potentially witness intimidation? >> i think all of this goes to the president's intent. goes to the question as to whether there's a corrupt intent to obstruct justice. and i find it less than credible that one of the president's lawyers, who immediately called for the -- basically the firing
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of mueller after mccabe was fired, was doing so and was not speaking for the president. indeed, initially, he said he was speaking for the president. he must have then been cautioned by other lawyers in the white house that that was a problem, legally. but nonetheless, the president seems to be testing the waters. how much can he get away with? and like anyone -- any bully, basically, if you don't stand up to them and you do so in unequivocal terms, they see this as license to do whatever they have in mind. so, i really think we need to see what's plainly before us. and that is that this is a president who could wake up in the morning and decide in a fit of pique he's going to get rid of bob mueller. and we invite that kind of crisis if we don't take action now. >> "the washington post" is now reporting that the white house has sent the special counsel some written descriptions of the key moments under investigation. will that help limit the scope of the president's possible interview with robert mueller and his team? >> well, it's possible, that if
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they can provide written responses, that answer some of the special counsel questions that it obviates the need for certain lines of questioning in an in-person interview. but i don't think it's going to limit that much. and i don't think it should. there's a big difference between a lawyer-crafted statement and having a witness right in front of you that not only answer s questions, but answers, importantly, the follow-up questions. i can understand why the president's lawyers are concerned. this is a president with very little allegiance to fact. and he may be able to get away with that on the stump, but it's quite a different matter when he's speaking either under oath or under penalty of perjury, should he falsely testify or falsely state something during an interview with special counsel. but, while it may limit the questioning in the sense of, okay, this won't be necessary, i still think a very lengthy and detailed live and in-person interview is going to be
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necessary. >> joe digenova, a former u.s. attorney here in washington, d.c., is joining the white house legal team as a private attorney, representing the president. listen to what joe digenova said back in january? >> make no mistake about it, a group of fbi and doj people were trying to frame donald trump of a falsely created crime. >> so what does this hire say about the current white house legal strategy? >> well, it currently says both in the remarks we've been hearing lately from dowd and others as well as the hiring of this lawyer that they're adopting a new and aggressive attack approach to the special counsel. i have to think that as the mueller investigation has progressed and gotten closer and closer to the oval office, there's a sense of alarm going on. it's also not going to be over when the president wants it over, which was yesterday. so, you know, they have their allies in congress, they can shut down the house investigation and they did. but they can't shut down bob
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mueller, and not if people are living up to their constitutional duty. but bringing on yet another conspiracy theorist to the white house, i don't think serves the public very well, and ultimately, won't serve the president very well either. >> this all follows the firing of the fbi deputy director, andrew mccabe, late friday night. should they release the inspector general's report so that the american public can see the rationale behind this decision? >> well, ultimately, i think they should and i would hope that they will. but there are going to be tough questions to answer. why was this one piece of the inspector general investigation carved out, pushed ahead in order to be able to fire andrew mccabe before his pension would vest? why did the attorney general, who had promised the senate he would recuse himself, participate in that decision? why did the president weigh in and push this, when responding to the president's calls. and does that taint the firing?
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is it a coincidence that andrew mccabe as well as baker and others at the fbi who were in a position to corroborate james comey's testimony about his conversations with the president, why they have all been on the target list for the president and his allies in congress. these, i think, are very important and still-unanswered questions. >> congressman adam schiff, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead, we'll have more on the trump team's efforts to limit the scope on what mueller might ask the president. and i'll get comment from democrat mark warner. and stormy daniels' lawyers is speaking out about a stunning new move by the president and his attorney to make the porn star pay big-time. we're also hearing from mr. trump's attorney. he's firing back at daniels' claim she's been threatened. i'm just worried about the house and taking care of the boys.
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>> kids: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪ breaking tonight, new insight into the trump legal team strategy against special counsel robert mueller. "the washington post" reporting that mr. trump's lawyers are trying to limit the scope of a potential mueller interview with the president by offering written accounts of key moments under scrutiny in the russia investigation. we're joined now by senator mark warner, the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> how concerned are you, senator, that president trump has gone from calling it the russia investigation to now calling it the mueller probe? >> i'm very concerned.
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i've raised these issues before the beginning of the year. calling for my colleagues to stand up for the independence of the mueller investigation. many of my republican colleagues have said that the president will make a grave mistake. i think lindsey graham said it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. but i continue to be concerned by the president's disregard for the investigation, disregard for the seriousness of the russia incursion into our elections. i think there was more than a little bit fishy about the way andy mccabe was fired, 36 hours before he was to receive his pension. now, i have not seen the inspector general report and i expect to have a full brief on that. but it was more than a little bit fishy. the fact that they strung him out and then the president was so inappropriate as to be texting about this guy who served our country for over 20 years. >> "the washington post" is now reporting that the white house has given the special counsel,
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robert mueller, written accounts of some of the important moments mueller is looking into. what do you make of that strategy? >> you know, i'm not going to comment on the white house strategy. but the one thing we know is that every week that goes on, new information comes out. for example, we find now that cambridge analytica, one of the technology firms that the trump organization used in the campaign, a firm that claimed in many ways that it helped create the trump victory, appropriately or perhaps inappropriately got access to over 50 million facebook accounts. i expect an answer from facebook, not their lawyer, but from their ceo. i expect to hear more from cambridge analytica. and as more and more of this information continues to come out, for any effort to try to limit mueller or for the president to try to cut off lines of the mueller investigation would be terribly inappropriate. and again, this is about rule of law in this country. and i hope, god forbid, that the
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president tries to get rid of mueller or rosenstein or starts pardoning parts of his family or others, that people will stand up for rule of law and not, in effect, bow down to this president and his activities. >> after president trump called andrew mccabe's firing, in his words, a great day for democracy, the former cia director, john brennan, tweeted this. i'll put it up on the screen. "when the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. you may scapegoat andy mccabe, but you will not destroy america. america will triumph over you." senator, that is truly scathing to hear what the former cia director says about the president of the united states. he was the cia director throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. does brennan know something about the president's behavior that we don't know yet?
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>> i don't know the answer to that. if former director brennan has additional information, i hope he's sharing it with mueller. i hope he can come back in and share more information with our intelligence committee. the only bipartisan effort still remaining, looking into this matter. but what i think probably offends mr. brennan and i know offends a lot of former fbi agents, former prosecutors, is this president's kind offed ad hominem attack against the whole fbi, against the whole justice department. you go back and look at some of his tweets, go back and look at some of the president's allies who are in effect saying so-called deep state analogies. you know, we live in a nation of laws, wolf. and one of the things that has disappointed me is that there's not been more members of congress, frankly, more of my republican colleagues. and for that matter, more former u.s. attorneys, judges, and others stepping up and saying,
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even beyond mr. mueller, you just can't go out and attack our basic institutions like the fbi or the justice department. or you end up with circumstances like we saw a couple of weeks back, where that slightly unusual character was saying that he would not go in and even respond to the mueller subpoena. when we get to the point where people start saying they're going to pick and choose which laws they want to follow, our country's in a dangerous spot and in many ways, that kind of attitude is reinforced, frankly, by tweets by the president and by some of the president's allies who have even been more outrageous in their broad-based attacks against the fbi and department of justice. >> the senate intelligence committee is having an open hearing on wednesday, a very important hearing on wednesday, on threats to the election infrastructure here in the united states. what are the steps you want to see taken before the midterm elections in november?
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>> well, wolf, we'll have a bipartisan press conference tomorrow. we're going to highlight the work of a number of senators again from both parties. how we can get some resources, reinforcing the fact that elections are state and local controlled, but how we can get resources for states to make sure that voting machines have a paper trail. they no longer have the kind of absurd answers we originally got from the department of homeland security, when they wouldn't even notify the states that were attacked. but in certain cases, the top state election official didn't have appropriate security clearance. that's a crazy response. make sure there's more information sharing. the fact is, wolf, we're going to have this bipartisan legislation, because in a normal world, in a normal administration, you would have the white house take the gathering all of these entities, the dhs, the state election
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board, and the others together. the one thing i will give president trump's appointees, they all recognize the problem in terms of election security, that we're going into primary season and we're not safer than we were in meaningful ways than we were in 2016. you have even had the former head of the nsa, the fbi director, and the director of national intelligence in public testimony say in the last two weeks that they've had no indication from the white house that election securities have got to be a top priority. so our committee will have to make sure it's a top priority by passing legislation. >> glad to see there's some bipartisan cooperation in the senate intelligence committee, vastly different than what's going on in the house intelligence committee. senator warner, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> just ahead, as president trump effectively admits his involvement in the legal fight with stormy daniels, his lawyer, and her lawyer. they're all speaking out right now about new twists in the case and the alleged threats against the porn star.
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and we'll talk more about the breaking news in the russia investigation. the trump league team trying to put limits on robert mueller as a controversial new attorney is coming onboard. i'm very proud of the fact that i served. i was a c130 mechanic in the corps, so i'm not happy unless my hands are dirty. between running a business and four kids, we're busy. auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, life insurance policies. knowing that usaa will always have my back... that's just one less thing you have to worry about. i couldn't imagine going anywhere else. they're like a friend of the family. we are the cochran family, and we'll be usaa members for life. save by bundling usaa home and auto insurance. get a quote today.
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at&t doesn't. we offer more complete reliability with up to 8 hours of 4g wireless network backup. at&t, no way. we offer 35 voice features and solutions that grow with your business. at&t, not so much. we give you 75 mbps for $59.95. that's more speed than at&t's comparable bundle, for less. call today. there's breaking news tonight. the lawsuit pitting porn star stormy daniels against president trump. our national correspondent, sara sidner is working the story for us. sara, daniels' lawyer is speaking out about some aggressive moves by the president's legal team. >> yeah, stormy daniels' attorney talked to us, telling us that the president has much more to worry about than just the mueller investigation. even after being threatened with
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$20 million in damages, porn star stormy daniels' lawyer says his client is not backing down in her lawsuit against president donald trump. >> the president cannot fire my client and he cannot intimidate her. we're not packing up. we're not going home. >> reporter: attorney michael avenatti tells cnn that daniels is not cowed by filings late friday, attempting to move her case out of a california courtroom and into federal court. in a stunning twist, the president, who has until now remained silent on daniels' lawsuit, legally signed on to the case, all but admitting he has an interest in the $130,000 hush money deal his personal lawyer, michael cohen, made with the porn star in the days before the 2016 election. until now, cohen has maintained the president was not aware of the deal made to keep daniels' quiet about a sexual relationship she says she had with trump back in 2006. cohen had said trump denied the affair. >> for all practical purposes,
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joining into this lawsuit is a huge admission, on the part of donald trump, that he knew about the negotiated settlement, that he knew about the nondisclosure agreement, and that he has something really important that he's trying to hide. >> reporter: trump's lawyers want to shift the case to a federal judge, hoping to eventually shut it down or at least move it back into arbitration, where the details would remain private. among the claims they make, that daniels violated the agreement to stay quiet at least 20 times, and that she owes $1 million for each violation. >> what you make of that? >> it is ludicrous and it is preposterous. we now have a sitting president of the united states who is pursuing over $20 million in damages against a private u.s. citizen, who is doing nothing more than attempting to exercise her ability to tell the truth. >> reporter: michael avenatti filed suit on daniels' behalf
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last month against donald trump and essential consultants llc, the company set up by michael cohen to pay daniels $130,000. daniels' lawsuit asserts the confidentiality agreement is not valid because the president never signed it. as himself or as david dennison, the fake name assigned to him to protect his identity. he says because the president never signed, daniels should be free to talk. but lawyers for trump and cohen's company disagree. they say the deal is valid and that part of the agreement was to handle everything behind closed doors in arbitration. avenatti says his client is ready to fight and he's goading the president, saying his case can move much faster than special counsel robert mueller's russian collusion investigation. >> do you think you will depose the president in months? years? weeks? >> i think we're going to engage in discovery relating to whether this agreement was signed or not i and what he knew in a very short period of time.
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>> reporter: and avenatti says while the president continues to tweet about the russia investigation, he notice that mr. trump has yet to say a word about stormy daniels. >> he hasn't stopped in the past from tweeting and claiming every other claim is a witch hunt, baseless, et cetera. there's got to be a pretty good reason as to why we haven't heard from him yet in this case. it is crickets. and i assert the reason for that is, he is, and he should be, very, very concerned about what my client has to say. >> now, since avenatti has received a response from donald trump's lawyers and for the lawyers for essential consultants, we are now hearing from michael cohen, who has spoken to "vanity fair" and they have just published an article and here's what he has said. he said quite a bit in this article, but here are some of the main points. he said, i have never spoken to her, responding to stormy daniels. i have never e-mailed her. i have never met her. i have never texted her. and he goes on to tell "vanity
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fair," i have never threatened her in any way and i am unaware of anyone else doing so. those are his words. the first time since these lawsuits have been filed. we did get a response. i spoke with mr. avenatti, stormy daniels' lawyer, and he responded to cohen's response saying, there is little question at this point that mr. cohen's credibility is highly suspect. the battle is on. wolf? >> certainly is. he says he never spoke with her. he only spoke with her attorney when they negotiated that hush agreement. all right, sara, thanks for that. let's get some more on this with our experts and our analysts and laura coates, you're a legal analyst. michael cohen also tells "vanity fair" this. "people are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign. what i did defensively for my personal client and my friend is what attorneys do for their high-profile candidates. i would have done it in 2006, i would have done it in 2011. i truly care about him and the
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family more than just an employee and an attorney." does that make sense? >> well, no. the reason it doesn't make sense, there's no real question as to why we are questioning about the timing. 11 days before a presidential general election. it wasn't just a defensive measure for a friend, it was someone involved in a campaign. and there were corresponding requirements under campaign finance law. the reason it wasn't an issue in 2011 in because he wasn't running for president, therefore tlnltd there wouldn't be a campaign finance violation. but when you think about the reasoning behind this and the motivati motivation, you can't be so dismissive, mr. cohen, about why he did it, his own personal reasons and his love for the family. because we're dealing with a category of information and that category of person who the american people have every right to understand the motivations that are used to protect in a democratic election. >> kaitlan, is this latest move by the president's lawyers in effect an admission that the
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president is this d.d.? >> it certainly raises questions about it. because you're seeing it getting closer and closer to the white house. at first, they were not commenting on this. and of course, at that press briefing with sarah sanders, the press secretary, said that the president had won arbitration with stormy daniels and that brought it a lot closer to the president. now, we also know that she's been discussing this with president trump, but lately the white house has been refusing to comment on this. but it does seem to be getting closer and closer to the president with michael cohen, saying he made that payment, and then it was reported that he had been complaining that the president had not paid him back more that payment. it certainly raises questions about what the president knows. and the president, who has for years been involved in so much litigation, threatened to sue to many people. do we really think that was someone that was this close to him, michael cohen, would not have informed him of something like this? >> bianna, let me get your thoughts on this. the idea that stormy daniels was threatened. michael cohen in this "vanity fair" issue said he could only speak for himself. he didn't threaten her, he only
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spoke to her attorney. >> he said he didn't threaten her, not that no one else threatened her. this morning mika brzezinski said on her show, michael avenatti was the one who told her that she had been physically threatened. her sources confirmed that she had, in fact, been threatened and they confirmed who that person was. so it may not have been michael cohen, but that doesn't mean someone else didn't threaten her. >> let me be precise. he said, "i can only speak for myself. i reiterate, i have never threatened her in any way and i am unaware of anyone else doing so." that's what he told "vanity fair." matthew, can the president really separate the work of his personal legal team from that of his white house and himself? >> i mean, this was a president who has had trouble separating the work of anyone in the white house from himself. when it comes to his legal team, he's got the same issues. don mcgahn, the white house counsel is sort of separate now because he's said no to the president so many times. but when it comes to ty cobb and
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jim dowd, his personal lawyer, i think the president looks at these guys and think, they all work for me. this is a president whose only experience is running what is really a small family business. people worked for him, not a bigger company that he ran. i don't think he gets the distinction all the time. >> bianna, how big of a problem down the road is the whole stormy daniels saga for the president? >> initially, it was just background noise. we had other accusations throughout the election and the campaign, and voters seemed to overlook that. but something significantly changed. she has very effective representation, not just because i work at cbs, but i can tell you, as we all know, "60 minutes" does their homework in vetting these types of interviews. it's one of the reasons why it's taken a few weeks for the interview date to be set. that's coming up this sunday. so, clearly, they did their research in confirming whatever details she may have conveyed. and the american people can put two and two together. when you look at the fact that the president's lawyer, i don't care how loyal he is, gives
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$130,000, that's not normal. especially 11 days before an election. and you have potential finance laws that have been violated. so, there's legal ramifications and i think from a pr perspective, it's something that the president can't run away from. >> and the fact that they're now going to federal court to try to get closed-door arbitration. this is the president's legal team. they've got a new lawyer out in california, represented hulk hogan in the gawker attack. so a pretty smart lawyer. >> the reason that's so important here is that it's in a way throwing a lifeline to one issue for the president of the united states. when mr. avenatti is speaking about this particular case, he keeps referencing that a sitting president is going against an american citizen and using that evisceral reaction we would all have in the court of public opinion. but a person has a right to engage in a contract and enter into one where they have more bargaining power than the other person. and it doesn't necessarily mean, even though innuendo in the court of public opinion is very, very ripe and very, very there. the innuendo is not proof of an actual crime or the alleged
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sexual acts. but what it is proof of, the one time the president, because of his counsel, hulk hogan sued gawker for $120 million, the $20 million fine he's looking for against stormy daniels looks like peanuts for that. and it's all because of one foundation. they believe that a person has a right to engage in a contract. and it may be the reason he is not coming forward and speaking is because he has every right not to. it may be more and that's whatwear getting at. >> everybody, stick around. there's more we need to discuss right after this. saved us almost $800 when we switched our auto and home insurance. liberty did what? yeah, they saved us a ton, which gave us a little wiggle room in our budget. i wish our insurance did that. then we could get a real babysitter instead of your brother. hey, welcome back. this guy, right? (laughs) yes. ellen. that's my robe. you could save $782 when liberty stands with you. liberty mutual insurance.
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there's more breaking news we're following tonight. a new effort by president trump's lawyers to limit the scope of any interview of the president by the special counsel, robert mueller's team. we're going to get to that in a moment. but matthew rosenberg, you broke a huge story in "the new york times" involving this cambridge
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analytica, the trump campaign, the russians. what questions -- and facebook, of course. what questions need to be answered right now? >> i mean, first we need to know, so facebook has known that this data was harvested by cambridge analytica, which is this data polling firm founded by steve bannon and rob mercer. so facebook has known it's been out there for a few years. they haven't told anyone. they kind of told us, well, we thought it was deleted, but we've seen the data, it was not deleted. so what did they do? why did they do it? when did they do it? there were a bunch of kind of odd, mysterious russian connections that popped up to cambridge analytica. that remains unexplored. why was this oil company tied to president putin in 2016 asking an american political data firm that just started asking about its voter information. none of that really makes sense. there are a lot of outstanding questions here. >> and facebook lost a lot of money today. >> yeah, they lost a lot. >> billions of dollars, the stock went down. >> yeah, i think it was like 5%. and dragged the whole market down with it. i think facebook finds itself in
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a position where it's suddenly become a vector for a lot of incoming attacks on the united states. something it didn't plan on, you know. there were russians putting ads up. its data is being harvested by people who want to shape and kind of predict american voters and influence them. and i think, you know, facebook's trying to reckon with the fact that in some ways, it's an opt-in surveillance system. >> bianna, 7%, i should say, that's what they lost today, facebook, in terms of their value when the stock dropped, as it did. so what does all of this say about the trump campaign, the russia probe, and what's going on with social media right now. >> yeah, a top executive from facebook, just within the last half hour, announced that he would be stepping down, as well. look, there are a lot of questions that facebook has yet to answer. we haven't heard from mark zuckerberg or sheryl sandberg. but when it comes to the trump campaign, something that was always a bit puzzling was the role that jared kushner played in social media and in reaching
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out to voters through social media. remember, he's the one who actually brought cambridge analytica on to the campaign. and i remember forbes had a cover with him saying that he was the one who won this campaign because of social networking, because they were so highly effective in pinpointing voters' likes and behavior patterns. and yet you have the same jared kushner as saying, there's no way that they could have colluded with the rnussians, because they couldn't collude with their own offices. they were all over the place and unorganized. the role he played throughout the campaign, specifically when it came to social networks and facebook and that outreach was always a business puzzling, and maybe we're getting a bit more of a sense of cambridge analytica's role in what he saw and didn't see. >> laura, very quickly, is kushner vulnerable? >> yes and he remains vulnerable. but based on the data privacy laws, the fact that the president has not done a good
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job of cultivating relationships abroad is going to have an impact, too. >> what are you hearing from your sources at the white house? >> here's the thing. we've seen so far they've tried to distance themselves from cambridge analytica, saying they actually relied on the republican national committee for a lot of their research. but as bianna just pointed out, we have jared kushner on the record, bragging about just how useful they were and how he called his friends in silicon valley. and we also know that brad parscale, the digital director for the trump campaign in 2016, who is going to be the campaign manager for 2020, was talking about how much digital advertising, especially facebook, is what helped them win the campaign. you can't let them distance themselves from this too much, because clearly they were very involved. >> matthew, great reporting in "the new york times." everybody, stand by. there's more breaking news. we have new details of the latest bombing in austin, texas, and what set this attack apart from the others. (vo) dogs have evolved, but their nutritional needs remain instinctual. that's why there's purina one true instinct. real meat #1. a different breed of natural nutrition. purina one true instinct. now, try new purina one true instinct treats.
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breaking news. tonight, police in austin, texas, say the latest explosive trap set by a serial bomber was detonated by a trip wire. two men were seriously injured in the blast, which happened on a residential street last night. two other bombings this month each killed one person and a third bomb injured an elderly woman. those devices were inside hand-delivered packages left on the victim's doorsteps. investigators say the latest bomb were more sophisticated than the earlier devices. other news. this week, cnn's parent company,
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time warner, finds itself in the news and in federal court, fighting the trump administration's effort to block its merger with at&t. our justice correspondent, jessica schneider, has been covering the trial for us. jessica, this case could change corporate america. >> it could, wolf. and the judge today said that this is a high-stakes case. you know, today attorneys, they focused their arguments on what evidence will be admitted in this major merger trial. the trial does start on wednesday. and companies across the board will be watching to get a feel for how closely the trump administration will be scruti scrutinizing business deals and the judge in this case today acknowledged just how important his business will be to the future of the media industry. tonight, initial arguments are underway in the landmark case, pitting the government against at&t. the justice department is suing to stop at&t from merging with time warner. time warner owns turner, which includes cnn. the proposed media takeover has been a talking point for donald trump since the campaign trail. >> at&t is buying time warner and thus, cnn, a deal we will
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not approve, in my administration, because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few. >> an historic, huge media deal. >> reporter: despite the president's disapproval, most media analysts assume it would win approval. that's because it's a vertical merger. the two companies are not direct competitors. at&t is the country's largest telecommunications company that bought direct tv to boost its video subscribership in 2015. time warner creates video and digital programming. >> the government hasn't taken a vertical marriage case to trial in the last 40 years. >> reporter: in november, the justice department sued to block the $85 billion bid. >> when the government suddenly and without notice or any due proce discards decades of guidance, businesses are left with no
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guidepo guideposts. >> reporter: but canadian broadcaster bnn was told this. i don't see this as a major anti-trust problem. two months after delrahim was confirmed, the government filed suit, warning time warner's content was so valuable, at&t might threaten to withhold it from other distributors or charge higher subscription fees. at&t initially planned to claim selective enforcement, pointing to political bias. >> there's been a lot of reporting and speculation whether this is all about cnn. and frankly, i don't know. >> reporter: last month, a judge ruled at&t could not force the doj to hand over any communication between the white house and the attorney general of the anti-trust division, that could have shown whether the president played a role in blocking the takeover. the government in a previous filing said no communication like that exists. at&t is now focusing its defense on arguing it will not black out or charge more for time warner programming and that at&t needs to add content to its platform
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to compete with newer entities like netflix, amazon, and google. and that's why at&t isn't the only company with a stake in this case. the media giant disney is no doubt watching closely, given its proposed acquisition of 21st century fox. this trial will start on wednesday and expected to last about eight weeks. >> thanks. that's it for me. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, trump's lawyers, trump lawyering up. president trump hiring a new attorney who's fueling conspiracy theories about the russia investigation. is trump's new lawyer his mini me? and trump's attorneys reportedly turning over documents about moments in the russia investigation, all in an effort to keep trump from having to say anything to the special counsel. will it work? and trump giving credit tonight to hillary clinton. you have to see him say it to believe it. let's go "outfront." and good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, trump

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