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Pence's "In the Dark" Defense in the Russia Probe; Trump to Tout Economic Gains in State of the Union Address; Stormy Daniels Evades Questions About Alleged Trump Affair; #MeToo Movement Takes Center Stage at Grammy Awards. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 28, 2018 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:20] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And tonight Trump versus tradition. The president known for throwing out the script, breaking every rule of communication prepares for the most presidential of gatherings, a joint session of Congress where he will deliver his first State of the Union address. This is a big moment. Made even bigger because this is his first midterm election year when the party almost always suffers.

CNN has learned the speech will balance the accomplishments of last year, namely economic growth and tax reform, with his hopes of forging an immigration and infrastructure deal later this year. But in an unusual move for a president trying to sell his agenda, he will not be taking his State of the Union message on the road this week.

For that part of the story, let's bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.

And Boris, we are hearing there is actually some frustration inside the West Wing over this decision. What's going on?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. Some advisers here at the White House believe that this is a missed opportunity. One senior White House official actually telling CNN, quote, "Unless it's a big rally, he is usually not interested." The president seeming to shy away from taking his message on the road. And it's especially noteworthy in part because it's a departure from previous administrations.

And also because people close to the president tell us that they expect an optimistic tone during the State of the Union speech, one that seeks to reach across the aisle and appeal to people that aren't in the president's base. Historically, other presidents have used this kind of as a springboard to promote their agenda and get support from the public for costly projects.

Keep in mind, the president is expected to ask Congress for a trillion dollars on Tuesday just for his infrastructure plan. Don't forget, he is also asking them for $25 billion when it comes to building that long promised border wall. So the president apparently shying away from taking that message to the American people, in part because he is unhappy about the format of those events -- Ana. CABRERA: The president was up early this morning tweeting about the

economy. There was kind of a weird twist, though, which led to a spat with rapper Jay-Z. Tell us what happened.

SANCHEZ: That's right, Ana. Though we've heard this president say that he doesn't watch cable news, he clearly caught wind of Jay-Z's interview with Van Jones on CNN last night in which the rapper was asked about the president's approach toward communities of color and essentially said that, though the president touts low unemployment numbers, it's not really a sign of respect to him.

Here is the president's response this morning. He writes, quote, "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate ever recorded."

So the president clearly taking offense to Jay-Z's criticisms there. This is something that we've seen play out before. The president not shy to take to Twitter and attack anyone who criticizes him. Though we have heard from staffers here at the White House and from lawmakers even publicly who have asked the president to tone down the tweets and keep the focus on the agenda, it does not appear that he is changing his approach in 2018 -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.

I want to bring in our panel. CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen. Also with us CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Tim Naftali.

So, David, I'm interested in getting your perspective. As someone who has advised and had a personal relationship with four U.S. presidents, you understand the challenges of this role.

Can you think of a reason the president wouldn't want to take his State of the Union message on the road and tout his new tax plan, for example?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I can't really, Ana. In fact I think it's more necessary than ever for this president.

Listen, I've just come back from Davos where the president visited. And I can tell you for the first time in his presidency, he has some wind at his back. The business leaders there, and across much of the United States, they don't really -- they haven't taken to Mr. Trump personally. They don't particularly like him. They think he is odd and erratic and everything else. But they like his policies.

And they're very supportive of his reducing taxes on corporations, trying to bring that repatriate money back home and doing regulatory reform and very more importantly now infrastructure. What surprises me so far about what we've heard about this week is when you present a big idea like a huge investment in infrastructure, what you want to do is persuade the public to get behind it. And so far this president has not been very successful at persuading

people either on health care or on his tax bill that those policies were a good idea. And he needs it on infrastructure to make this bipartisan. So I would think not going on the road will limit his capacity to persuade the country that this is a good idea.

CABRERA: Tim, one of the reasons he is not going on the road, as Boris described, was because it's not like a big rallying kind of opportunity he feels. Would he benefit, though, from a more intimate time and to work closely with Americans versus some of those big rallies?

[18:05:07] TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Ana, his decision not to go on the road is really telling because when he goes on the road, who is he speaking to? He is talking to his base.


NAFTALI: And what he really needs to do, in my humble estimation, what he needs to do now is to broaden. If he wants to be an effective president, he needs to broaden his base. He's got -- if he doesn't broaden his base, he's not going get over 40 percent approval.

The immigration policy that he suggested before going to Davos was really interesting because it was not something you'd expect his base would want. Some of the language he used at Davos was also not something you'd expect his base to want. So he has an opportunity to broaden his base.

But he is not going broaden his base if he just goes to Pensacola and to Alabama. He's got go to parts of the country he doesn't visit. So it seems to me a wasted opportunity. If he really wants to change the headline about his presidency, he's got to get out to the American people and explain why he is not just the president of the red state, he is the president of everybody.

CABRERA: David, let's listen to what the president said last February when he first addressed Congress.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength. And it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter --


TRUMP: -- of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation, and a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.


CABRERA: David, he said he was there to deliver a message of strength and unity. You talked about how well he was received in Davos. Do you think he has delivered that in the first year, what we just heard? GERGEN: Well, listen, the economy is doing very, very well right now.

And every president who is in his situation would claim a lot of credit for that, even though the facts don't support the notion that -- you know, that he inherited a strong economy from Barack Obama. President Trump deserved credit for accelerating that recovery and the rally and the markets is a sign of confidence from the business community. But it's not as if -- you know, he thinks history started from the day he became president when in fact, you know, he inherited good conditions.

And very importantly, Ana, it would be helpful for him to acknowledge that economies all around the world are now starting to flourish. This is the first time we've seen synchronized growth. And that is growth occurring in several major countries or many major countries simultaneously. The first time we've seen this in over 50 years, all the way back to the Eisenhower administration.

So he would be -- he would serve himself well to recognize there are other forces, but that he is building something new again and something that's better and he can -- people can take confidence in it. The more he can lift consumer confidence as well as his own poll ratings, the better will be for this economic -- this economy to accelerate.

CABRERA: Tim, I want to get back to something you were touching on earlier, and that is, how does the president expand his base? And so a lot of people will be listening to the tone he strikes in his message. In fact this morning he was asked about some of the issues that have proven divisive in this country, especially some of the remarks and actions of this president previously. And this was in an interview with "Good Morning, Britain." He was asked about the Women's March last weekend. Let's listen.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "GOOD MORNING, BRITAIN": Do you identify as a feminist? Are you a feminist?

TRUMP: No, I wouldn't say I'm a feminist. I mean, I think that would be maybe going too far. I'm for women, I'm for men, I'm for everyone.


CABRERA: OK. So feminism was Miriam Webster's word of the year last year. And we looked up the definition. "The theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes."

So, Tim, your reaction to the president saying he is not a feminist.

NAFTALI: I'd like to know what the president really believes about these issues. One of the concerns that I've always had is that it's hard to know what his core values are. You know, he wants to help the Dreamers, for example. He then uses them as a bargaining chip. He then decides, I'm not just going help 700,000 Dreamers, I want to help 1.3 million Dreamers. It's the same with regard to women. Does he believe what Ivanka Trump

says? Does he believe in equal pay for equal work? Does he believe in assistance so that women and men can take care -- so women can leave the workplace and not lose their job? What does this man believe?

So it's a label. He says he is a feminist. He says he is not a feminist. I care about what he proposes and what he acts on. Because I think that's really the test of a person. It's what they do with the power that they won at an election. So I'm waiting to listen to this speech. I'm waiting for the tone of this speech. Are we going to stop talking about immigrants as if they're somehow harmful to this country?

[18:10:03] Are we going to stop blaming immigrants for a carnage that doesn't exist? Are we going to talk about a country that works together, tries to understand each other and grows together? That's what I'm waiting. Is he capable of a tone that's not divisive. And that's what we'll see on Tuesday.

CABRERA: Perhaps the best window into the president's thinking, into the president's heart, David, is what he tweets. The president has started a new public feud today on Twitter with rapper Jay-Z. Here is the remark from Jay-Z on CNN last night that appears to have set off the president.


VAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: He is somebody who is now saying, look, I'm growing. I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration.

Does he have a point, that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service, but no jobs? Maybe he is going to say terrible things, but put money in our pocket. Does that make him a good leader?

JAY-Z, HIP-HOP MOGUL: No. Because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to, like, happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point.


CABRERA: David, do you understand why that would make the president upset and cause him to tweet, "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be the lowest rate ever recorded?"

GERGEN: Listen, it's inexplicable that a president of the United States would get into an argument with Jay-Z over something like this. I mean, he's got better things to do, more important things to do. The black unemployment rate has dropped. Once again, you know, a lot of that occurred under the Obama administration. If you go back and look at it, I think you'll find that over the last four years of the Obama administration, jobs -- there were more jobs being created each year than under the first year of Donald Trump. But nonetheless, Donald Trump deserved, you know, credit for what he

has done on the economy. He does -- especially the stock market. It's just that, you know, why does he stoop down to get into an argument like that? He just got -- presidents normally have much, much bigger things on their mind. And he ought to be thinking about, how do I get this infrastructure program done? How do I make sure we don't have a war with North Korea?

You know, the head of the U.N. sort of issued a red alert the beginning of this year that this was a year which was particularly dangerous for the world. And I just think that's what the president -- that's what a normal president would focus on.

CABRERA: David, Tim, you'll be back with me in just a moment. Stand by, please.

And a reminder to stay with CNN for live coverage of the president's first State of the Union Address. That's this Tuesday. And our coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, for a lot of Americans, President Trump's threat to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last summer brings back memories of another president and another special counsel and another time. It became known as the Saturday night massacre.

We'll take a look back with our panel, next.


[18:16:59] CABRERA: It was a different time and a different president, but the news that this president, Donald Trump, wanted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June only to be convinced it would cause a political firestorm brings back memories of what's become known as the Saturday night massacre. It erupted as the nation was in the throes of Watergate.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes a look back.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: How much money do you need?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next two years.

NIXON: We could get that.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Nixon and White House counsel John Dean in secret recordings talking about the Watergate break-in. The special prosecutor Archibald Cox wants the tapes and subpoenas the White House for them.

NIXON: Play it tough. The way they're playing, that's the way we're going to play.

KAYE: But Nixon invokes executive privilege and refuses to give up the tapes. But the U.S. Court of Appeals steps in, ruling that Nixon must comply. Nixon instead tries to hand over summaries of the recordings. But Cox balks at the idea.

ARCHIBALD COX, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, WATERGATE INVESTIGATION: I think it is my duty to bring to the court's attention what seems to me to be noncompliance with the court's order.

KAYE: Thinking he has the country on his side, Nixon takes a gamble and orders his attorney general Elliot Richardson to fire Cox.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening. There are reports tonight that President Nixon has ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire the special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.

KAYE: But the attorney general refuses to fire Cox and resigns in protest.

ELLIOT RICHARDSON, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am committed to the independence of the special prosecutor.

KAYE (on camera): So Nixon orders the deputy attorney general to fire the prosecutor. He too refuses and resigns. Before the night is done, though, the U.S. solicitor general suddenly filling in as attorney general agrees to fire Archibald Cox. The so-called Saturday night massacre.

(Voice-over): Still, Nixon is hardly immune to it all. About nine months later, Nixon, on the verge of impeachment. But instead of being removed from office, he resigns.

NIXON: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: David Gergen and Timothy Naftali are back with us you.

So, David, you were working for Nixon the night he ordered the firing of the special prosecutor. When you heard this report that President Trump had also ordered Mueller to be fired, what were you thinking? Is history repeating itself?


GERGEN: It sure triggered a lot of memories when I read that the president did want to fire Mueller, and fortunately someone talked him out of it. His own attorney said you do that and I'm out of here. And that persuaded him not to do it. So it was the Saturday night massacre that didn't happen.

But I can tell you, going back to October of '73, at that time I was a lieutenant in the Nixon White House. I was running his speech writing and research team. And none of us at the White House except at the very top had any inkling that he would do something like that. It was an absolute shock. It was real sense that we had a constitutional crisis on our hands, and nobody knew where it would turn out.

[18:20:08] But everybody trembled at that. And the firestorm, I can tell you the firestorm then was intense and had Donald Trump fired Mueller, we would have had another firestorm of equal intensity.

CABRERA: You know what stands out what you just said, David, to me is that there was no inkling that Nixon was going to do what he was going to -- what he ended up doing. And yet with this president, it seems to be if he had gone through with it, not that surprising considering what he did with James Comey.

GERGEN: Well, that's exactly right. And at the time of the Saturday night massacre, one of the things that made it so devastating was that Elliot Richardson, then the attorney general, and Bill Ruckelshaus, then the deputy attorney general, both of them resigned. They were two of the men of great integrity and commanded enormous respect around the country as being good citizens, terrific public servants.

So when they resigned, it was -- we've never had anyone sort of respond to the king in that way. And Nixon felt very betrayed by them, but it was the right thing to do. And so we ought to be appreciative of Mr. McGahn stepping in here with President Trump and telling him you can't do this without causing a firestorm, and I will resign. That was helpful. He stopped a Saturday night massacre in the Trump White House.

CABRERA: Tim, the irony of the backlash against Nixon was that ultimately another special prosecutor was appointed who was just as tenacious.

Do you think that in this case, had President Trump fired Mueller, or should he still go ahead and do that, that the reaction would be the same?

NAFTALI: Well, I mean, as David remembers, the public was aghast at this. This was -- you know, it's very hard to remember what it was like before the Saturday night massacre because president -- no president had ever done this before. But you didn't just have the firing of this missile of high level members of the Justice Department. You also had the FBI going and sealing the special prosecutor's offices.

And so there was a sense for a couple of days that not only was Nixon getting rid of the person at the top, he was getting rid of the entire apparatus, that the United States government could actually not have an independent investigation when the president didn't want it. And so the key here with Mr. Trump is, I suspect his dislike of Mueller will not go away.


NAFTALI: And there may be continuing pressures from him to do something about Mueller. The issue here is, can the Mueller investigation with Mr. Mueller or without him continue to do its job and investigate every lead that it needs to? In the case of Nixon, it happened that they were able to do it. The

Nixon administration thought they picked a ringer. They chose a conservative Democrat, Leon Jaworski, thinking that he would be more sympathetic to the president than Archibald Cox, who was John F. Kennedy's solicitor general. Leon Jaworski was just as tough if not tougher.

Al Hague told the Nixon Library that this was a complete miscalculation on the part of the White House. They did not want this investigation to be tougher. With Jaworski, it was as tough or tougher. That might very well happen to Mr. Trump, President Trump, if he got rid of Mueller.

CABRERA: Maybe a miscalculation. Maybe it was just karma coming back to get Nixon there.

David, bottom line, as you point out, Trump listened to White House counsel Don McGahn. Mueller is still investigating.

Here is Senator Lindsey Graham on this today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president is frustrated, no doubt about that but he did not fire Mr. Mueller if the report is true. Mr. McGahn did the right thing and to the president's credit, he listened.

But this is something for Mueller to look at. I see no evidence that President Trump wants to fire Mr. Mueller now. I don't know what happened back last year. But it's pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it'd be the end of President Trump's presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller. So I think we're in a good spot with Mr. Mueller.


CABRERA: And yet, David, there is legislation that's being talked about to make sure the president doesn't fire Mueller. So the fact that there is still a question about whether Trump might still fire Mueller, does that surprise you?

GERGEN: I don't think it's a surprise because there may be collisions ahead that are a lot worse for President Trump than what he's faced so far. What if Mueller asked for his tax returns? What if Mueller -- you know, it goes down the trail of bringing him in and putting him in front of a grand jury and starts talking about his monetary past? You know, because President Trump said he is going to draw a red line there.

So I think there could be future collisions. But let me go back to yes, this White House did not do a Saturday night massacre. Thank goodness for that. And we ought to, as I say, salute Mr. McGahn for helping stop it. But that doesn't mean that what happened we should forget about it. Let's remember that since the time that the president was talking actively, the White House has told us on almost a dozen times that nobody in the White House has ever talked about firing Mueller, it just hasn't happened.

[18:25:12] They've denied and denied and denied. Those denials were a pack of lies. So if they're going to ask us to believe them on this, and they have lied to us, why should we necessarily -- why should the public believe on other issues that they keep insisting this didn't happen, this didn't happen, this didn't happen?

Once your credibility erode and you start openly lying like that and you're caught in it, your credibility really does suffer when the next big event comes along. And they're going to need the public down the road probably on a couple of issues before this is over.

CABRERA: David Gergen and Tim Naftali, thank you both, gentlemen, for your wisdom and sharing it with us.

GERGEN: Thank you.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, he's brushed off as press secretary to Vice President Pence. So what does Marc Lotter think of the administration's rollercoaster first year and all the Trump scandals that Pence has to answer to?

We'll get his take next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Welcome back. In a year of Washington disruption, one of the only constants is this. Vice President Mike Pence says he knows nothing about the Russia investigation swirling around the White House.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: During all of my experience on the campaign, I've never witnessed any evidence of collusion or any of the other issues. I'm not aware of that ever having occurred.

And the President has spoken his mind on top. And, look, we'll fully cooperate and are cooperating with the Special Counsel. We'll provide them any and all information.


CABRERA: That cooperation now being tested as the President's legal team negotiates conditions for an interview with the Special Counsel.

Joining us now, Marc Lotter. He is the former press secretary for the Vice President. He is also a former special assistant to the President.

Sir, good to have you with us tonight. Marc, you have seen --


CABRERA: Thank you. You've seen the reports that the President ordered the Special Counsel fired, though he was eventually, you know, forced not to do that. His White House Counsel rebuffed that attempt.

This happened last June. You left the White House last September. To your knowledge, was the Vice President aware the President ordered his White House Counsel to fire Robert Mueller?

LOTTER: Well, the President has denied that account that was reported in "The New York Times."

And I think the important thing here to remember is that we are now seven months, almost eight months, removed when these reportedly and denied allegations took place, and Robert Mueller is still on the job, still working. The White House is cooperating fully, has been, and continues to do so.

CABRERA: Do you think it reflects poorly, though, on the Vice President that he was perhaps unaware of an incredibly critical potential White House decision to fire the Special Counsel?

I know what you said, the President has denied that. We've heard public denials all along, but this is a credible report.

LOTTER: But, once again, the President has denied that this took place. And what you see right now is that we are now seven, eight months removed, and the Special Counsel has not been fired. The White House continues to cooperate, producing 20,000 documents, hundreds of hours of interviews with everyone who has been asked to be interviewed.

And so the investigation continues, and still yet there is still no evidence that there was any collusion with Russians on the campaign.

CABRERA: How in the loop is the Vice President when it comes to the most critical decisions made by the President?

LOTTER: Well, the President and the Vice President are very close. They have developed a very close working relationship in the course of the last couple of years since he joined the ticket. He is there for the major policy decisions. And it's someone that the -- the President and the Vice President, they have a very close relationship.

The Vice President takes the President's message, whether it's around the world, whether it's to Capitol Hill or around the country, talking about ways that the President is wanting to make America great again.

CABRERA: So safe to say if President Trump did plan to fire Robert Mueller, the Vice President would know about it?

LOTTER: Well, I can't say that. I'm not going get into the private conversations between the President and the Vice President. I am not aware of any kind of conversations that took place in that respect. And again, the President has denied those claims. But this is really about setting the stage for the future. That's

what the President is focused on right now. That's what the White House is focused on right now. And I know that they're looking, along with the Vice President, in having a very big week and a very big Tuesday night with the State of the Union.

CABRERA: I want to ask you this about the Vice President, knowing he is a man of faith. The White House, including the Vice President, has dismissed the reporting from "The Wall Street Journal" and elsewhere that a Trump Organization lawyer paid $130,000 in hush money to keep a porn star quiet about a consensual sexual affair with the President.

I want you to listen to two prominent evangelical leaders, Jerry Falwell and Tony Perkins address these accusations.


JERRY FALWELL, JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: He's not the same person now that he was back then. I believe he has changed. What they don't understand about evangelicals is our whole faith is based on the theology of forgiveness.

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: If this behavior were occurring today right now as he is President of the United States, I can assure you that my support and the support of evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly. But we're talking about something that occurred 10 years ago. Evangelicals understand what a second chance means.


CABRERA: The Vice President may be the most prominent evangelical politician in the country. In your conversations with him, is that his attitude towards the President? Does he share what we just heard?

LOTTER: Well, again, like you said, the campaign back then denied this. The person involved has denied this, and the President's lawyer denied this.

But what the Vice President is a looking at is look at the record of accomplishment. I mean, the President has nominated and had confirmed more conservative judges, stood for the right to life than any other president, maybe even more so than President Ronald Reagan himself.

So when it comes to the policy matters, restoring respect for people of faith and allowing them to express their faith openly in this country, those are the kinds of things that the Vice President is focused on. It's what many evangelicals out there are focused on. And it's something the President promised he would campaign to do, and he's doing it now that he is in office.

[18:35:08] CABRERA: But has the Vice President ever said some of these accusations against the Vice President give him pause?

LOTTER: Well, the President has denied those allegations. In the case of the most recent report that you mentioned, there was a statement put out by the person involved who also denied those allegations. So, again --

CABRERA: But even when you look back to the "Access Hollywood" tape where we hear the President in his own words say some things about women and what he does to women that clearly are not OK.

LOTTER: Well, the Vice President at the time, and as a Vice President's -- the nominee at the time, he made his thoughts clear on that. He said that he was not -- could not stand by the words and encouraged the President, then the candidate, to come forward and talk about that with the American people, which he did.

But, again, these are rehashing issues that have been years ago, decades ago. I know the President, the Vice President, and the entire staff at the White House right now are entirely looking forward.

They're looking at a great economy, more people taking home more money in their pockets beginning this month -- this upcoming month. Those are the things they're focused on right now.

CABRERA: Marc, one thing is very true. We have seen over the past year of this administration the Vice President really be a cheerleader to the President. I want you to listen to the way Vice President Pence has talked about the President since taking office.


PENCE: Last November, President Trump won a historic victory.

President Trump's leadership inspires me every single day.

Our President is a man with broad shoulders and a big heart.

The book is entitled "The Art of the Deal." And it's actually an American classic.

I think President Donald Trump has assembled the strongest conservative cabinet in my lifetime bar none.

It's the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a president who literally embodies American leadership.

I know he will make America great again.


CABRERA: Marc, how important is it for this Vice President to play the role of cheerleader?

LOTTER: I think the Vice President and the President are both playing cheerleader for the American people and for our country. I know the Vice President. He has defined it from very early that vice presidency is entirely defined by the President.

What the President wants the Vice President to do, whether it's traveling the world, traveling the country, or going down the street to Capitol Hill to convince lawmakers to pass the largest tax cut in modern history or whether it's to invest in our military, those are the kinds of things that the Vice President is eagerly willing to do.

He wants to take the President's message across the country and across the world. And I know when he says that it's the greatest honor of his life to serve as Vice President that he means it.

CABRERA: Last question for you. We know he has a big fundraiser tomorrow, raising money for his own PAC. What are his future political ambitions? Does he want to be president one day?

LOTTER: Well, I know the only thing the Vice President is focused on is the 2018 election. This is a kickoff of his political activity here for the first quarter. He is going to be very busy.

I think there are dozens of trips planned to support Republican candidates and office holders who support the President's agenda. And when it comes to looking beyond that, his only other concern is making sure that President Trump is re-elected president in 2020.

CABRERA: Marc Lotter, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

LOTTER: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: President Trump will use Tuesday's State of the Union address as an economic victory lap with jobs, infrastructure, and trade as major talking points. And you can bet investors on Wall Street will be watching this.

CNN'S Christine Romans has tonight's "Before the Bell" report. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the President gives his first State of the Union address this week. The big question now, what is the next phase in his America first agenda now that tax reform is passed?

It could be infrastructure, something the President talked a lot about on the campaign trail. Wall Street already likes the prospects of that.

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar posted its first sales increase in four years last week. Their stock up 70 percent over the past year, making it the second best performer in the Dow.

Also on the radar, the last interest rate decision of Janet Yellen's term as Fed chief. Her replacement, Jerome Powell, was confirmed last week. Yellen will step down when her term ends on February 3rd.

The first jobs report of 2018 will also be released on Friday. One hundred forty-eight thousand jobs were added in December, marking a total of 2 million new jobs during President Trump's first year in office.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.

CABRERA: Thank you, Christine.

Coming up, Stormy sit-down. The porn star who once claimed an affair with Donald goes on camera and on the record.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have a sexual relationship with Donald Trump?



CABRERA: A senior aide to Florida Senator Marco Rubio is out of a job this weekend. Rubio fired his chief of staff, according to his office, when allegations of improper conduct surfaced between the chief of staff and a subordinate.

Now, the senator's office has not provided any more information or even giving his name, but he has been identified and confirmed as Clint Reed. CNN has tried to contact Reed. Still no word back just yet.

Former porn star Stormy Daniels responding only with a smirk when asked by a reporter if she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump. But while she may not be saying much, someone else is, her friend, who had some eye-popping details to share with CNN's Sara Sidner.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stormy Daniels breaks her silence.

STORMY DANIELS, ACTRESS: I have a strangely normal life, yes.

[18:45:01] SIDNER (voice-over): But so far, she is not talking about her alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump and whether she was paid $130,000 in hush money a month before the 2016 election to keep quiet about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have a sexual relationship with Donald Trump?

SIDNER (voice-over): She may not be talking, but her long-time friend and fellow adult entertainment actress, Alana Evans, is.

ALANA EVANS, ACTRESS: Because I'm the one who didn't sign any type of nondisclosure, I can speak freely about it. And for me, it's more about telling the truth and not letting him continue to lie about his crazy behavior, his illicit affairs.

SIDNER (voice-over): Trump's attorney has denied any affair took place. But Evans says the alleged affair happened in 2006, just four months after Donald Trump's wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son.

Questions about the affair resurfaced when "The Wall Street Journal" first reported Daniels was paid to keep quiet just before the election, raising questions about where the money came from and if it violates federal election laws.

The President's attorney sent a statement to CNN saying Daniels signed a letter, saying my involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more.

But in 2011, Daniels did an in-depth interview with "In Touch" magazine, detailing her alleged tryst with Donald Trump. The magazine says she and her ex-husband took a lie detector test to prove she was telling the truth.

Evans says this picture was taken a few days after she herself was invited up to a hotel by both Daniels and Trump.

SIDNER (on camera): Are you certain that there was a relationship between Stormy Daniels and President Trump?

EVANS: From the moment that I ran into Stormy that day, I knew that she had met Donald and she had expressed to me what had happened in the golf tournament and when they had met. It was made very clear to me that Donald was all about Stormy.

That night when I was receiving the repeated phone calls, it was after I had already had dinner with Stormy and had already received my first invitation. So I knew early on in the night they wanted me to come hang out with them.

As the phone calls continued and towards the end when Donald was calling with Stormy, to go from my girlfriend inviting me to hang out with this wealthy prominent man to now hearing Donald Trump on the phone telling me, come on, Alana, let's hang out, come party.

SIDNER (on camera): What do you think he meant by come party? Was it come play Parcheesi, or was it come have sex or fun?

EVANS: I'm going to be totally straight with you. If someone calls me to invite me because they're hanging out with someone famous and wealthy like him, it's not to just have a glass of wine. It's not to just hang out.

I'm pretty sure I was invited up for sexual fun with the two of them. I was the extra girlfriend to be added to the equation. But to hear Donald on the phone personally inviting himself, with Stormy, was enough to intimidate me from the situation.


SIDNER: Evans then told us that she asked Stormy Daniels what happened that night since she didn't show up, and she says that Stormy Daniels told her that Donald Trump chased her around the room in his tighty whities.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Las Vegas.

CABRERA: That is an image I want to get out of my head. Thank you, Sara. Coming up, music and the #MeToo movement colliding at the Grammy

Awards. The performances everyone will be watching for tonight. Stay right there.


CABRERA: Some of the biggest names in the music business are making a statement on the red carpet tonight at the Grammys. Their single, simple accessory is speaking volumes, a white rose, in support of the Time's Up movement.

CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is at Madison Square Garden for us. She just spoke to Grammy host James Corden and music superstar Kelly Clarkson.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: I got to know, first of all, what's it like being back in New York to host the Grammys for the second year in a row? It means you were pretty good last year.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, 60TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS: I don't know that that's what it means at all.


CORDEN: I think it means that everybody else said no.


CORDEN: I can -- I imagine that that's the only -- you know, that's the only conclusion I can come to. Who else --

CLARKSON: And you're hilarious and loveable.

CORDEN: Well, you're very kind. But in truth, I'm really not in the show very much. I'm there for about 13 minutes, just popping up every -- basically, I've realized, whenever they need to turn the cameras away from the stage because they've got to get a big setting --

CLARKSON: Whenever there's like a hot mess happening --

CORDEN: Yes, they go --

CLARKSON: -- save the show, James Corden.

CORDEN: They go, do something now.

CLARKSON: Make them laugh.

CORDEN: And you go, oh, OK. Mostly, I'm in a -- I found this amazing room that's full of M&Ms, and I basically sit in there. That's it.


MELAS: That sounds like my dream. CORDEN: That's it.

MELAS: Well, look, we were just talking about the white roses and you're wearing one tonight. Why is it so important for the music industry to weigh in on all of this?

CORDEN: I don't think it's -- I think it's not about the music industry needs to weigh in on this. I think that's completely what it isn't. I think it's about people.

CLARKSON: Women and race (ph), yes.

CORDEN: Yes. And actually, it's -- Janelle Monae actually speaks in tonight's show. And really, I think it hits the nail in the head where she talks about, at its core, it's about equality. It's about pay equality, it's about an equal respect, a mutual respect. And that's what it is. I don't think it's --

CLARKSON: And that's noble. That's a great job.

[18:54:59] CORDEN: I don't think it's about necessarily, oh, a music industry thing. I think it's -- this is an outlet which -- oh, it is -- and, you know, should be everywhere. That's what I think. I don't know.

MELAS: Are you nervous?

CORDEN: Oh, my God. Are you joking? I'm nervous every day.

CLARKSON: You're not nervous!

CORDEN: I'm nervous every day.

CLARKSON: You shouldn't be.

CORDEN: Let alone now.

CLARKSON: You're hilarious.

CORDEN: I'm never not nervous.


CORDEN: Oh, are you joking? I was like -- I've been biting my nails into oblivion.


CORDEN: That's where I am.

CLARKSON: If I was as funny as you, I would never be nervous.

CORDEN: You're way funnier than me.

CLARKSON: Oh, shut up. CORDEN: And this is -- you know, this is not always a venue that's

built for comedy. So we'll try our best. We're going to try and get through it as best we can.


CABRERA: All that positive energy. Thanks to Chloe for that interview.

Coming up, the state of the President ahead of the State of the Union. Will he stick to the script and reach beyond the people who voted for him? We're live with a preview next.