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INSIDE POLITICS

Stormy Daniels' Lawyer: More Women Have Reached Out To Me; Trump Threatens to Pull Troops Out of South Korea; Trump Spin: Democrat Won PA Because He Ran As A Republican; Pelosi: Don't Read Too Much Into Lamb Distancing Himself From Me; New Video From Parkland School Massacre Released. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:02] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Again -- and, you know, why this matters is that Michael Cohen's position from the very beginning has been this was purely his involvement with Stormy Daniels, an act of altruism on his part, completely separate from the Trump Organization, completely separate from Donald Trump himself. But now, we have not only his frankly difficult to believe story that he just paid $130,000 out of his own pocket, but now --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: To an adult film actress who he says didn't have an affair with the president but just to be a nice guy he wanted to give her $130,000.

TOOBIN: On the very eve of the election.

KING: Got it.

TOOBIN: That's his story.

KING: And so the question is, does this matter? Everyone says, it's, you know -- and if you're a Trump supporter you say it's tabloidy and it is. She did sign a non-disclosure agreement but she says it shouldn't be binding because the gentleman, which David Dennison, the pseudonym, she has a pseudonym as well, Peggy Peterson, that's supposed to be Donald Trump. She's challenged it. That's the whole basis of this in court.

She has an attorney now publicly who's figured this out politically.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: He has and what he has been successful at doing is getting this story to break through. We've seen versions of this same story and so many other controversies surrounding Donald Trump that are kind of a flash in the pan. They are a story for two days and then they move on.

What Stormy Daniels' attorney has figured out is the way to continue to release these details day by day, piece by piece and he's building a case essentially to Jeffrey's point that it's incredulous to believe now that Michael Cohen and people around Trump had no -- they were doing this completely separate. Cohen was completely on his own. KING: Michael Avenatti's point is, number one, they want the White House -- I'm sorry, they want Michael Cohen and the private LLC to free her from the non-disclosure agreement. Say it's not binding, he didn't sign it, so just free me from it and we will not have to go a court in Los Angeles.

As he tries to make that case, he's essentially trying to force people around the president to respond. They either have to deny it again or they have to let her go and speak. And as he does that, listen to Michael Avenatti here raising the stakes if you will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were now in the line of work of defending women who have had sexual relationships with the president that he'd like to keep quiet. Had more women come to you?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many.

AVENATTI: I'm not going to answer that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dozens?

AVENATTI: Not a dozen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a dozen. More than five?

AVENATTI: I'm not going to answer that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That, you know -- again, it's -- you could say that's a little reckless or you could say it's a shot at the White House saying let's get along here, I got more.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. It's very tantalizing. We just want to know more details, right?

But this drip, drip, drip I would say is creating tension among Democrats on the Hill because there are Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee who really want to go after this. They want to learn -- they want to find out exactly who knew what when, when these payments were made. And they want democrats to take this and run with it and potentially not make it a core campaign issue obviously.

But do more about it and see it if hurts Republicans in the midterm but Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, she's afraid of this issue. And I think that that's sort of interesting thing --

KING: What's she afraid of?

BADE: That it will not register with voters and that could have a backlash with the Democratic base that wants to talk about, you know, how do policies affect their bottom line. They're concerned more about that than the scandal.

KING: So before I lose you on the legal front, she does have a non- disclosure agreement. Now her point is because DD didn't sign the document, she says that's Donald Trump, that it's not binding.

Is it or is what we're seeing play out here? Is she in violation of that agreement but she knows because it's the president what can he do about it?

TOOBIN: She actually has two arguments. One is that the agreement is void in the first place because it wasn't signed by DD who is Donald Trump. That's a pretty good argument, I think given the whole structure of the agreement.

Her other argument is that, well, because Michael Cohen said bad things about me, the agreement is void. That I think is a pretty bad argument. But anything that gets her the right to speak is fine with he --

KING: If this judge gives her standing in the L.A. court, the hearing is down the road a little bit, but if the judge gives the lawsuit standing, depositions?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And, you know, remember, the "60 Minutes" story -- you know, Anderson Cooper, our colleague interviewed her for "60 Minutes". That's almost certainly going to run before this case is resolved in court.

So, you know, it will almost be moot by the time they get to -- as a practical matter but it will still be a live lawsuit with the opportunity potentially at least for Stormy Daniels' lawyer to start doing discovery.

KING: And to that point, we're waiting the official word from CBS to when that air. It could be this Sunday, could be down the road. They're doing some checking and all that. We'll see it, all right.

Coming up, the attorney general. He's got to make a decision really quickly about whether to fire a former top FBI official. But for right now, Jeff Sessions just seems happy to be out of Washington for a day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:35:04] JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's great to be with you. Thank you for letting me get out of Washington. It's a thrill a minute out there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: On our political radar today, the attorney general Jeff Sessions could decide in the coming days to either fire the former FBI Director Andrew McCabe or to let him formally retire this weekend with a pension as planned.

An internal FBI watchdog is recommending McCabe be fired. He's been under investigation for his handling of the probe into the Clinton foundation before the 2016 election.

[12:40:00] President Trump taking swings at a few key allies last night at a fundraiser. In an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post, the president called Mexico, quote, spoiled, and he appears to threaten South Korea with the idea of leaving them without U.S. military support.

This is what the president said, quote, now we have a very big trade deficit with South Korea and we protect them. So we lose money on trade and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let's see what happens.

And this just into CNN, the U.S. Transportation Department says it is now investigating the death of a family dog aboard the United Airlines flight this week. It's the latest in a string of deaths and mishaps involving pets on commercial flights.

One U.S. senator says he's had enough. Louisiana Republican John Kennedy putting his name on a bill that will make airlines treats animals with more -- in his words, common decency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: In a lot of respects, dogs are how people ought to be. Pets, particularly dogs, are family members now. I've got two dogs at home, one is a beagle, I don't know what the other one is but I love them both, and I wouldn't ask Becky to choose between me and our pups.

And what happened on the United was disgraceful. I don't particularly enjoy having to legislate or trying to legislate common decency but by God, I'm going to do it until they take this seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Kennedy is a very funny man but this is a very serious issue. We'll see where this one plays out.

I want to come back to the president at the fundraiser last night. The president should have no expectation -- no politician should have any expectation of privacy, even if you think you're in a private fundraiser. How will it play around the world for the Mexican Government already at odds with the president over all the things we know about to hear, you're spoiled. Or the South Koreans to hear this linkage in the president's mind, at least in a fundraising speech, between trade policy the president doesn't like and U.S. military troops along the DMZ.

There are more but I'll stop there.

PACE: Now, that's a pretty good -- that's a pretty good list. In some ways, it's so typical of the president. He's said versions of some of these things, the Canada tariffs trade balance issue. He said that in public or version of that in public previously. You do get the sense though from allies that they get a bit worn down by this. They get worn down by being the punching bag, they get worn down by these threats that you have to take seriously to some extent because he is the president of the United States. But then there's very rarely a follow through. It's very hard to imagine he'll going to pull troops out of South Korea now.

KING: And especially in the democracies, they get asked by their people, stand up to this guy. This guy is trashing us.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Yes, there's no ambassador to South Korea. I wonder how the South Koreans -- who the South Koreans are calling to get reassured on that issue.

KING: Not the secretary of state I guess either, right?

KNOX: Probably not.

KING: All right, when we come back, President Trump trying to spin an embarrassing loss for Republicans in Pennsylvania. He claims the Democrat won by being him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:47:00] KENNEDY: I don't think we ought to insult the American people and try to spin it. We need to listen to this. It's important politically but, I think (INAUDIBLE).

Hey, the American people are trying to tell us something up here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Well, straight talk from Republican Senator John Kennedy saying his party, the Republican Party, shouldn't try to spin their embarrassing loss in Pennsylvania's special congressional election Tuesday night.

One person Mr. Kennedy might have been talking to there, the president. Here's what President Trump is saying about this, quote, the young man, Tuesday night that ran, he said, oh, I'm like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts and everything. He ran on that basis. He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.

The president made those remarks at a private fundraising event. They were obtained by the Atlantic.

You were walking the halls of Capitol Hill Yesterday. I get what you say publicly. What are Republicans supposed to say? We got our butts kicked, we're going to lose our majority, we might as well just leave now.

I get it. They're not saying that. But a lot of them are trying to spin this in a way that at least their public spin suggests they're not playing close enough attention to the results because this was a big deal.

BADE: Yes, it's definitely a denial city up there. There are Republican leaders, they were in a closed door conference after this election yesterday morning. And Speaker Paul Ryan and the leader of the campaign arm tried to tell Republicans this should be a wake up call, you guys got to get ready. The potential wave coming.

But even then they were trying to sort of make excuses saying that it was the candidate, the Republican candidate was a bad candidate, he was grumpy, he was an (INAUDIBLE) candidate, the Democrats ran a conservative candidate.

I heard a lot of Republicans make the same remark that President Trump made just there saying, oh, you know, he actually was a Trump-like republican which is totally untrue. He supported ObamaCare, he said the tax cuts were a give away to corporations.

I mean, look, they're trying to spin this but if they were smart, they will learn from this and they'll get their stuff together by the midterms.

KING: They lost a seat the president carried by 20 points. There's no way to spin this. It was a blow to the Republican Party.

If what's at play in Pennsylvania that we saw it play in Alabama last year, and in Virginia last year, and elsewhere, if that continues, they'll lose the majority. Period.

So you have to bend that arc which is hard or not. The flip side of this is, what's the lesson for Democrats? Listen to Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, Conor Lamb, the Democrat in this race did say -- you're exactly right, he was not Trump but he also was not a Pelosi Democrat. And he said, a, I'm for the Second Amendment and b, he said, if I get elected to Congress, I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi so Nancy Pelosi asked today, are you OK with this?

What if other candidates start popping up saying I'm not for Pelosi running as Democrats?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, MINORITY LEADER: One candidate in Texas came out and said he would not be for me and he came in fourth. He came in fourth. So let's not read too much into this.

I feel pretty confident about the -- my ability to -- first and foremost, be a master legislator for the good of the American people. I have a strong following in the country and I don't think that the Koch brothers should decide who the leader of the Democratic Party is in the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:50:05] KING: Oh, that's not going to play so well among some Democrats.

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, in Massachusetts, we have Congressman Seth Moulton who was -- is really close to Conor Lamb, campaigned there over the weekend, raised money for him and they both were sending that message out in Pennsylvania saying we -- not only send Conor Lamb to Washington because he's against Trump but also send him because he's against Nancy Pelosi.

There is a wing that feels good coming out of this Pennsylvania election that kind of anti-establishment rhetoric coming from Democrats has a little more ground than they thought before. But she's also right that the fundamentals of this race could have been baked otherwise and we don't necessarily know what caused it.

KING: So if there's a big wave -- the Democrats need 24 seats to take back the House. If there's a big wave and they win the House and they pick up 35, 40 seats and she -- it's a comfortable margin, Nancy Pelosi will be speaker.

Is there a possibility that the Democrats win the House by four or five seats and Conor Lamb is among them, and he's going to run in a new district, but there's four or five guys plus the existing group that says we don't want Nancy Pelosi. Is it possible the she could -- the Democrats could win an election and she still might have to step aside?

PACE: Yes, I think it's certainly possible as Rachael previously said.

BADE: Yes, I was going to say, absolutely. I mean, a third of the conference or the caucus I should say already doesn't want her to lead them any more. They see her as toxic, they think it hurts when trying to get independent voters.

KING: And winning won't change their mind?

BADE: They're going to have a whole new group of potentially couple dozen Democrats who are going to be distancing themselves from her. Lamb isn't the only one. She'll need to get used to this. She's going to have a problem if she has a slim margin running for speaker.

KING: This is a fascinating year from now through November.

Stay with us. A quick break here.

Up next, you want to stay with us. New video released just moments ago from outside the Parkland, Florida school where the shooting massacre took place just last month.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:00] KING: Some breaking news, important breaking news just in to us right now.

New video from outside the Parkland, Florida high school where that massacre, the shooting took place just last month. And new evidence that the armed school resource officer did nothing.

This video just released on orders from a judge. You see in the top right there shows Deputy Scot Peterson standing outside the school as kids were being shot, dying, getting hurt inside.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Parkland, Florida. Rosa, walk us through what we see in this video and why it's important.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you mentioned it, John, this video is requested by CNN to show the movements of the armed deputy that was on scene at the time of the shooting.

So you see a spot shot of the deputy Scot Peterson and some of his movements as he's moving from the location where he was when the shots started being fired to the location where he says he took a tactical position. So these are his movements. And it's a little difficult to see but you'll be able to see that -- and we tried to circle this will for you.

That you see someone between two different buildings. It almost appears like he's behind a pole but he's literally not behind that pole, he's beyond that between the 700 and 800 buildings.

Now, Broward County Sheriff's Office released this video and sent out this statement with it saying, "The video speaks for itself. His actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation as requested by Sheriff Scott Israel on February 21st. After being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination."

Now, after that happened, Peterson -- a statement through his attorney said that he had taken that tactical position, he didn't know where the shots were being fired, if it was inside or outside the 1,200 building. The breaking news at the hour is that this video just released, it was ordered by a judge to be released, just released to CNN and we're seeing for the very first time, John, some of the movements of this deputy, some of the movements of the other officers that arrived on scene shortly after as well.

John?

KING: And Rosa, you mentioned ordered by a judge to be released because CNN and other news organizations went to court, correct? And as you answer that, is this all we're expected to hear from Broward County? The statement you just read, obviously if you watch this video, and the sheriff said so himself that this not cast the department in a good light.

FLORES: You know, you're absolutely right. As we watch this, one of the things that I know I'm asking, I actually just asked the Broward County Sheriff's Office is if this is the particular video that the sheriff was watching when he made that statement, that the video made him sick to his stomach. Because as you can see once you watch this video, it's difficult to see Peterson's position and so I'm asking them as a follow-up question just to make sure that we're actually getting the video that the CNN sued for because -- CNN along with other news organizations requested this video, it was taking longer than we normally expect. So after suing for the video, a judge ordered its release.

But we're still following up, John, to make sure this is the actual video that the sheriff mentioned on national television. That this is the video that made him sick to his stomach. It's a little difficult to see so we're trying to figure out if this is the actual video that he viewed before making the decision to suspend Peterson which led to his resignation.

KING: Rosa Flores, great reporting. Continued great reporting on the scene for us. Rosa, appreciate you coming here. And, again, CNN and other organizations went to court to get this video released. There are some 911 calls from the students released yesterday.

It is important the essence of the debate about gun violence. It is a debate looking forward.

Also important to put all the pieces together as to what happened that day so everybody can learn from it.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now.