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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Lawyer Obtains Restraining Order To Silence Stormy Daniels; Trump Speaks To Witnesses Over Russia Investigation; Trump Associate Erik Prince May Have Misled House Panel Over Seychelles Meeting; Interview with Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia; Police: Ex-Russian Spy and Daughter Poisoned by Nerve Agent. Aired 7- 8p ET
Aired March 7, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next. Breaking news -- the White House trying to contain the fallout from Stormy Daniels bombshell, tonight claims Trump's attorney further threatened Daniels. What did the president know and when about the money?
Plus breaking news in the Russia investigation -- the special counsel now aware of two conversations president of the United States has had with key witnesses in the investigation after they testified to Mueller. This is according to "The New York Times" we have breaking details on what he wanted to know.
And the mysterious poisoning of a Russian spy and his daughter, police confirming it was a nerve agent. Is Russia sending a message to the United States? Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight the breaking news, someone is not telling the truth. It's either the president of the United States, Donald Trump, or porn star Stormy Daniels. Team Trump facing barrage of questions after Stormy Daniels sued the president claiming that a $130,000 settlement paid which was paid to her to keep quiet about her alleged sexual relationship with Trump was no longer valid because Trump never signed the agreement.
Just moments ago Daniels' attorney telling CNN that president's personal attorney Michael Cohen has "Further threatened her to keep quiet with a restraining order."
And earlier, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked again and again about Stormy Daniels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president approve of the payment that was made in October of 2016 by his long time lawyer and adviser Michael Cohen?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true. This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that I would refer you to the president's outside counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that there's arbitration that's already been won by whom and when?
SANDERS: By the president's personal attorneys and for details on that I would refer you to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're aware of them. So what more can you share with us?
SANDERS: I can share that the arbitration was won in president's favor and I would refer you to the president's outside counsel on any details beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Daniels' attorney, mocking Sanders claim that the president won the arbitration as a lie. Telling columnist for the "New York Times," "Yes, he and he also won the popular vote." So when Sarah Sanders said Trump won the arbitration, I guess this is confusing thing. If you are admitting there is arbitration, what else are you admitting? Are you also admitting that Donald Trump knew that the hush money paid to Daniels was paid to ensure her silence? When pressed further, Sarah Sanders stone walled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Did you know about the payment at this time though?
SANDERS: I've addressed this as far as I can go.
ZELENY: Did he know about the payment at the time?
SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of. There was no knowledge of any payments from the president and his defied all of these allegations. I believe I've addressed this question pretty extensively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: First of all she saying not that I'm aware of. She's giving herself some distance from it. And as for this point she made about this is all been answered in the past. Here's the thing about this, if you want to find out what team Trump has said about Daniels, you got to way far back into ancient dinosaur history in this Trump administration.
In fact you have to go back to November 4th, 2016, four days before the election. At the time, Hope Hicks then the campaign spokeswoman denied a relationship between Daniels and Trump. But that did. That's as far as team Trump is ever bond to address this alleged relationship. And obviously they have never fully addressed the nondisclosure agreement or and this could be the most crucial part when it comes to breaking the law in elections, $130,000 in alleged hush money.
Today Sanders repeatedly -- directly all further questions about the scandal involving Stormy Daniels to the outside counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Anything beyond that I would refer you to the president's outside counsel. Anything beyond that I would refer you to outside counsel. I would refer you to the president's outside counsel and I would refer to the president's outside counsel on any details beyond that. I can't speak on behalf of the campaign. I would refer you to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Here's the thing, if the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, tried to influence the election by paying hush money to a porn star so she would be quiet, and that another horrible allegation about women on him four days before the election. That is as important as it gets. And the American people deserve answers. It's time for the White House to stop trying to punt it to some outside counsel.
Jeff Zeleny is OutFront. And Jeff, there are so many more questions and you did again and again pushing Sarah Sanders on these crucial questions. What is the reaction tonight from inside the White House saying?
ZELENY: Well, Erin, it's clear the White House was wanted conflate this whole idea as asked an answered situation long before the election sort of blending this in with all the accusations of, you know, affairs and alleged affairs and alleged sexual abuse that the president obviously went through. And that was asked and answered by voters.
[19:05:09] This is a brand new information. So we asked this question again today because the White House has refused to answer it. They have said the president has addressed this. Our view is clear on this. Well the reality is the view isn't clear. And answering her trying to answer the questions today, Sarah Sanders actually opened the door to more questions about the arbitration, specifically she said repeatedly the arbitration has been won. We learned after the briefing that it's not true at least in the view of Stormy Daniels and her lawyers.
So by trying to push this aside, we learned several things today, one it's been discussed in the West Wing here. The press secretary said she had a conversation with the president at least one about this specifically. We also know that this is something that is worrisome enough to the president's political organization to have Michael Cohen still on the case on this here.
So, I think we end this day here, Erin, with so many more questions about Stormy Daniels situation. She's not backing down and White House still has more questions to answer. We'll see if they do tomorrow or in the coming days. But of course the president at some point, Erin, I would assume will be asked this because he of course knows if he was involved or knew about this payment in October 2016 more than anyone else. Erin?
BURNETT: And of course, you know, it's been so much reporting done on that. It's just that begs the obvious question for the regular person, which is why would you pay somebody off and why would you sign a nondisclosure agreement if he didn't do anything and you had nothing that you didn't want to disclose. Let's take a closer look what Stormy Daniels is claiming in her lawsuit. Sara Sidner is OutFront.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did she have a sexual relationship with the president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SIDNER (voice-over): Stormy Daniels' attorney says Donald Trump knew about the alleged hush agreement and the $130,000 an alleged hush money paid to shut her up.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: There is no question the president knew about it at the time. The idea that the attorney would go off on his own without clients knowledge and engage this type of negotiation and entering this type of agreement, quite honestly, I think is ludicrous.
SIDNER: The lawsuit filed against Donald Trump and a company linked to Trump's attorney Michael Cohen argues that the agreement is null and void because it was not signed by Donald Trump. Daniels lawyer says Mr. Trump purposely did not sign the agreement so he could later need be publicly disavow any knowledge of the contract and Daniels.
AVENATTI: She believes it's important the public learn the truth about what happened.
SINDER: The non-disparagement which refers to Trump as David Dennison and Daniels as Peggy Peterson was signed 11 days before the 2016 presidential election by Michael Cohen and Stephanie Clifford, Daniels' legal name.
Just last month Cohen admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 from his personal funds but insisted that "Neither the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction Ms. Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment either directly or indirectly."
The adult film star wanted to share her story in 2016 after this "Access Hollywood" surfaced.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
SIDNER: But the lawsuit said Trump and the campaign got wind of Stormy Daniels plan to reach out to the media and wanted to shut her up. The lawsuit says Cohen has continued to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and shut her up in order protect Mr. Trump even as recently as February 27 when Cohen filed a bogus arbitration proceeding against Daniels. But Donald Trump's attorney Cohen said this about this arbitration. "The designated judge from the arbitration tribunal found that Ms. Clifford had violated the agreement and enjoined her from among other things filing this lawsuit."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Now, Stormy Daniels attorney has responded to what Sarah Sanders said at the White House saying that Trump won this arbitration. He says, look, we have had no notice. There has been no hearing. No opportunity given to Stormy to respond and no decision on the merits and it is completely bogus. I do want to mention this to you, Erin, we look through this nondisclosure agreement and basically inside of it, it says, if the agreement is violated, that for each violation she could have to pay up to a million dollars in penalties plus pay back the $130,000. Now all this information is out there. Everybody is wondering what that means and what happens next. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Sara. And I want to go straight now to Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, author of "Justice for Some", former prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan.
All right, Paul, when you put all this together, you have this back and forth. You have a nondisclosure agreement. And you have a payment. And a regular person saying why would you have those things if there was absolutely nothing that occurred. The payment could be a major violation of federal election law, that's why this is important even if you don't care about the president's character. What's the bottom line?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the bottom line is that this is the kind of thing that would be fatal to any presidential candidacy, I mean a president of the United States paying off a porn star in order to get elected, a $130,000. I mean that's really -- that would normally be an enormous story, but the president of course has said, number one, I didn't know anything about this.
[19:10:10] He didn't know that his own lawyer paid a porn star $130,000? Boy, that's some lawyer. Remember, Michael Cohen the lawyer says he paid it out of his own money. Ever meet a lawyer who reached into his pocket to pay $130,000 to help out a client? I don't think so.
And they have now instead of it's a false story, why don't we cross examine Stormy Daniels, let's go public with it and let's -- let a little sunshine in. Instead they go to an arbitrator who issues an order barring her from saying anything ever going into the future. So, if you want to cast a little light on this, why don't we hear everybody's story.
BURNETT: Right. Which, Wendy, of course raises the whole question here, you've got this whole arbitration thing. Now you have this restraining order which I guess is restraining from saying anything, because it's not as if she's trying to bang down the door of the White House, let's just be clear to people talking about restraining order for her silence. But Wendy, I mean, you know, you have this whole nondisclosure agreement that apparently was signed by Peggy Peterson and then David Dennison with the other party. David Dennison, Donald Trump never actually signed.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. Well, it's an interesting question that a lot of people disagree about. But I think that it's probably OK for the president not to have actually signed the document and for it to still be enforceable. However, he would have had to give power of attorney to his attorney to do that and that has to be done with his knowledge and consent and intent. And, remember, Cohen keeps saying he knew nothing. So that would be at a minimum unethical and Cohen could lose his license in that's in fact what happened.
But, look, it was done to give the president plausible deny ability. But from where I sit I call it implausible deniability. There's no way he didn't know. Not only because of the amount of money, but because the severity of the issue in terms of its relationship to the campaign, and on the finance issue, can I just say --
MURPHY: -- that it's not that this was not done to benefit the campaign and that people in the campaign were not aware of it. It just would make everybody involved committing some level of malpractice, campaign malpractice, legal malpractice for the people not to know.
And so, a $130,000 for silence connected to the obvious purpose of not hurting the campaign on the virtual eve of the election, that's a serious campaign finance problem, because it's way beyond the amount that can be given legally. And from what I know it wasn't reported which is also campaign finance requirement. So many layers of problems here.
BURNETT: Was it reported because this is out of the goodness in Michael Cohen's heart? I say that. I personally think that doesn't add up at all. I don't think anyone would know that adds up. Also of course a report out there that he maybe he was complaining, why wasn't he being paid back. I don't know. Look, all you know right now as he said he knew nothing about it.
April, Sarah Sanders tried to tap dance around answering questions around the story, right. We played some of those exchanges. You've experienced this being in that press room. You know, Trump himself has been silent on this entire issue, which is very interesting, because when it comes for example to women who have accused him of sex assault which he admitted to doing on that infamous grab him by the P video, he's happy to speak out. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false. It's a phony deal. I have no idea who these women are. I have no idea.
The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Just to state the fact here there hasn't been a single suit. He hasn't done that yet. But, April, the point is he's happy to weigh in on that saying everyone is going to be sued. But when it comes to Stormy Daniels not a single word.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK. And that's one of the reasons why today in that briefing I asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, what does the president want the American public to know. Because we learned a lot today about this arbitration we didn't know about. We learned a lot of different things.
And the bottom line when you have all of these allegations swirling around the president of the United States and the fact he could have indeed part of an election crime, that's huge. And it's important. Particularly when this is supposed to -- the Billy Bush tape is supposed to have been the impetus as to where we heard him clearly saying grab, you now, by whatever, and this would have been impetus for her to speak out, there are a lot of issues out here relating to this Stormy Daniels' issue and other issues that cropped up.
[19:15:18] And it only fair to ask that question and fair for the president to speak to the American public on this. Because we heard him saying that. We also, and I'm going back to the Christian Gillibrand thing where he said, you know, she would do something for anything.
You know, it's not beyond the realm of possibility now thinking about this with this president and you're hearing about porn stars allegations about sexual affairs and things to that nature, and then hearing him on the tape.
So, it would only be feasible for president of the United States to come out and make a statement. And particularly as we see his wife in pain not wanting to be with him when you hear these allegations. It's just something that doesn't sit well. We've been though this movie before. And it didn't end well.
BURNETT: I mean, there's the thing, Paul, you know, obviously this is serious again, if people watch or the American people don't happen to care about the president's character, that's actually not the reason this matters, it made it some, but it matters because if he knew about the payment, it's a violation of campaign finance law and it's a very serious thing. What's at stake for the president?
CALLAN: Well, it's not --
BURNETT: If someone proves that, you know, Michael Cohen didn't do it at the goodness of his heart, OK. But, you know, that still may no mean the president knows about it. If they can prove the president knew about the money. CALLAN: Well, there's a huge amount of stake because if it is
campaign violation, and I want to make it clear, Trump people say it's a campaign violation. Look at the John Edwards case, $900,000 was paid to support his mistress, his pregnant mistress, and that wasn't reported during a presidential campaign. Trump would say this is a mere $130,000 and she's not even pregnant.
So -- and that's who the president would respond to this kind of a thing but it's not a campaign violation. It's a personal violation and nobody's business and that's why he makes it a secret. But I think he forgets one thing, when you become president of the United States, you give up your privacy and your ability to keep things secret and he's using the law to try to silence Stormy Daniels and it's wrong.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And we'll see what happens next.
Stormy Daniels attorney going to be on the next hour. That interview with Anderson at 8:00 p.m. So don't miss that.
And next, breaking news, "The New York Times" reporting tonight, President Trump spoke with two key witnesses about what they discussed with the special counsel. Is that witness tampering or not?
Plus breaking news, big questions about Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, a Trump associate, did he tell the truth to Russia investigators? And the former Russian double agent and his daughter deliberately poisoned. We now know by a nerve agent.
This is the message from Russia to the U.S.
[19:21:38] BURNETT: Breaking news, we're learning tonight President Trump has spoken to key witnesses in the Russian investigation after they spoke to the special counsel. This is according to "The New York Times" which is reporting that the special counsel is also now aware of these conversations. And that the president asked these witnesses about what they discussed with investigators.
In one discussion, according to the Times, the president told an aide that White House counsel Don Mcgahn should issue a statement denying a report. They told investigators the president want asked him to fire Robert Mueller.
Now, keep in mind, you've may asked that that statement was never released. The Times reporting further that the second discussion was with his former chief of staff Reince Priebus. Trump reportedly asking Priebus after he spoke to Mueller investigators how his interview had gone and whether they were nice.
This breaking news again highlighting the fact that president has ignored his attorney's advice that doing or saying anything about the investigation could create the appearance of interfering with it. And that is obviously one of the crucial questions. OutFront now, Juliette Kyyem, former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and John Dean, former Nixon White House counsel.
John, what do you make of this? I mean obviously on the face of it, it sounds like it's something he shouldn't be doing, but asking Reince Priebus, you know, were they nice seems pretty harmless. I mean obviously we don't know the full details about all of these supposed conversations. In your mind does this rise to the level of witness tampering or not, John?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well it certainly is close particularly since he was told by his attorneys not to do it for that very reason and then he went ahead and did it. That suggests he knew exactly what he was doing and that's why they reported it because they didn't want to get them self in obstruction situation.
BURNETT: Which is interesting. I mean Juliette, what do you think? I mean what does it tell you that the special counsel now knows about these conversations that the president had with key witnesses? And again I just want to emphasize the crucial point here is that the president talked to them after they talked to the special counsel. Se so we wanted to know what they talked about, what they told investigators?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I would take it one step further, not only did President Trump talk to them about what they may have said in front of Mueller, in front of the special counsel, someone or some entity, a lawyer or something then notified Mueller that those conversations had taken place, thereby, suggesting that people are beginning to protect themselves. They're not going to go down with this ship.
Two other just key points from the great reporting, one is that John Kelly is in the room. Which I just, you know, I've been on your show, critic of him, I think he sort of gets away with a lot of things. I think we really need to examine his role in protecting the president. We don't know he objected to it or not but he is in the room and someone, you know, wanted it to be known that he was in the room.
And second thing is just remind people that Mueller investigation is not about Donald Trump. It is about foreign influence in the 2016 campaign. That it keeps leading to the Oval Office has nothing to do with Mueller and everything to do with the evidence. And so just to remind people this is not about -- did not start off about Trump but foreign influence in our elections.
BURNETT: So, John, let me ask you the point that Juliette raises about John Kelly. The Times does report that John Kelly, the chief of staff was present for both of these conversations. Don McGahn and Reince Priebus which obviously means somebody told them that, right. You know, I mean, obviously presumably Reince Priebus and Don McGahn somebody told somebody.
But what do you think that means to John Kelly -- if somebody didn't try to stop the president from having these conversations? [19:25:05] DEAN: One thing it certainly means, Erin, is these people have absolutely no sense of history. This is one of the things that got Richard Nixon in a whole lot of trouble. He's an attorney. Nixon was an attorney. And he was openly coaching witnesses. He was coaching. I'm one of those he tried to coach (INAUDIBLE) chief of staff and talked domestic adviser. He coached them. He told them how to handle perjury. He was expert of perjury from his days in the House.
So history is just -- couldn't be a stronger lesson what a president should do in these situations because he was charged for this in his bill of impeachment. And it's remarkable these people would just ignore this history.
BURNETT: Juliette, I'm curious, you know, obviously that's a crucial point John makes. On a certain level though I guess you could look at this as a citizen and say, well, wouldn't be natural I want to find out what the special counsel talked to someone about, right, that it would be sort of a normal human instinct to want to have that conversation. It sounds like nobody was able to stop the president or at the least stop him. Perhaps even counsel him not to do this.
KAYYEM: Right. Or, look, Erin, there are probably are counseling him. I think some of the people around him are smart enough to know this that he just doesn't listen. I think you are seeing the consequences of a person, Donald Trump, who does not accept no or just thinks that the rules don't apply to him.
And then the interesting thing about this is that, you know, as president he may have thought, wow, none of the rules apply to me. I'm president. And in fact he's finding himself actually subject to much more rigorous rule systems in some respects and other respects no, because the special counsel exists. And that does sort of, you know, make me believe that, you know, his anger towards Jeff Sessions has got to be visceral at this stage because of the existence of the special counsel.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And more breaking news, did a key Trump associate mislead investigators who are trying to look at connections between the president and Russia under oath in testimony?
And more breaking news, spy mystery taking a stunning turn tonight. We have details coming in on that former spy on that former spy, a Russian spy and his daughter. They were intentionally poisoned by a deadly nerve agent.
[19:30:48] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: "The New York Times" reporting President Trump has talked to key witnesses in the Russia investigation about what they had shared with the special counsel, with Bob Mueller's team, and also that Bob Mueller is aware that the president then have had these conversations. And we are also learning tonight at CNN that a key Trump associate may
have misled the House Intelligence Committee over a controversial meeting in the Seychelles, off in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a meeting between a key Russian investor, a Putin insider. That meeting is now under intense scrutiny and the Trump associate who was there at this meeting with Putin's money man is Erik Prince, the co-founder of Blackwater, a former Navy SEAL, and the brother of the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT breaking this.
And, Manu, why do Democratic members of the committee believe that Prince at the least misled them?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, during this interview with the House Intelligence Committee last November, Erik Prince was questioned extensively about that Seychelles meeting, about whether or not this was effort to create a back-channel communication between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.
Now, he denied that it was any sort of back-channel communication. He said that he had two meetings when he was there with UAE officials and then he said he was encouraged to meet with a Russian banker separately by those UAE officials, he said he met separately with that a Russian banker at a bar. They had a beer last about 20 to 30 minutes, and really that was it, 2do not talk anything any policy or related matters whatsoever.
Now, we have learned from our own reporting that George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, someone who has Middle East ties and Middle East expertise and has ties to the Trump team and who was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia meddling, well, he was also at that Seychelles meeting with the UAE officials.
Now, nowhere in this testimony Erin did the Erik Prince revealed that Nader was at this meeting. He did not mention that at all. We've looked through all hundred five pages of this public release transcript and he did not reveal this and Democrats are saying that if he did in fact meet with Nader at this during the Seychelles meeting, that he lied to this committee under oath and they say this is something they need to investigate further.
Now, Republicans are not going that far. They're not willing to say that. But Prince's spokesman telling us tonight, Erin, that the public can review his testimony himself, that he did meet with some advisers to the UAE and others, but then when he asked, yes, specifically, did he meet with George Nader while he was there, they did not say declining to comment any further, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.
And this breaking news coming, of course, as we're following the breaking story also. "The New York Times" reporting President Trump has spoken the key witnesses and special counsel Bob Mueller's investigation after they talked to the investigators he called them want to find out what they talked about and what happened, obviously, raising questions of whether that is improper witness tampering.
OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly, who's on the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees.
There's a lot to talk to you about congressman and as happens every day, this news moves fast and furiously and changes every moment. What is your reaction first to "The New York Times" report that the president reached out to key witnesses after they had talked to Bob Mueller's investigators and asked them about their conversations?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA), OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: That report is deeply troubling. The president knows there's an ongoing investigation by a special counsel. It is completely improper for him to interrogate witnesses after they've provided testimony to the special counsel.
You know, we saw this before in Watergate and Richard Nixon was accused of suborning perjury. You cannot tamper with witnesses. You can't interrogate witnesses and you can't counsel them on what they should say next time they're called before the special counsel.
This is far beyond indiscreet. This is active its appearance with an ongoing investigation.
BURNETT: All right. So, you do see it as active interference.
BURNETT: I want to -- I want to turn if I may, Congressman, to the other breaking news at this moment. You heard Manu Raju just reporting that Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder, who was a Trump associate and, of course, is the brother of the education secretary, may have misled the House Intelligence Committee about that meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and that key Putin moneyman.
[19:35:12] Democrats are saying did not say George Nader was also at that meeting. He, of course, was an adviser to the Emirates and, of course, I also now reported advisor to the Trump -- to Trump at some point. Nader is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation.
What do you make of this, Congressman?
CONNOLLY: There are two problems here with Erik Prince's behavior. One is, you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, when you're under oath before a committee in Congress, especially the Intelligence Committee that has its own separate investigation foreign interference in our election. Prince apparently did not do that. He didn't tell the whole truth and that's misleading the committee at best and could be construed as perjury at worst.
The second problem with Prince however over and above that was his involvement with David Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who had to recuse himself from the entire Russian investigation of his own committee because he was providing intelligence to the president and the White House on the fly. And Mr. Prince met with Mr. Nunes, and I think we need to know what transpired in those conversations?
Was Nunes counseling you on how you might testify before the committee, then or subsequently? We don't know but it is another very troubling aspect of Mr. Prince's behavior and frankly, Chairman Nunes' behavior.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, we do need some more answers and to understand this from Erik Prince and I want to be just very explicit on George Nader. Of course, a UAE adviser who had ties to advisors to Trump. So, that's his link. I'd said advisor to the campaign.
CONNOLLY: And he's not cooperating with Mr. Mueller.
CONNOLLY: Which means that Mr. Prince is going to have a witness who will fully explain the nature of that conversation to the special counsel.
BURNETT: All right. And that meeting and, of course, what the purpose of it was, obviously, you know in January of 2017.
BURNETT: In the middle of the Indian Ocean, you have Erik Prince and you have this Russian fund adviser close to Putin. I mean, it's obviously an important meeting.
I want to ask you also congressman about Jared Kushner. The president's senior advisor, son-in-law, you just delivered a letter I know, Congressman, to Trey Gowdy, just had a chance to see this, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and you have asked him for an emergency hearing in Kushner's security clearance. What was Gowdy's response to you?
CONNOLLY: We have not heard from Trey Gowdy yet. I did mention it to him verbally on the floor in the last series of votes that I was giving him this letter and what it was about. Now, the reason I'm asking for an emergency hearing and that the chairman issue a subpoena to compel the testimony is as we speak, Mr. Kushner's in Mexico with a delegation of high-level U.S. officials. He does not have a top- secret security clearance and we have "The New York Times" report that Mexico is one of four countries that thought they could kind of roll Kushner because of his financial exposure and because of the troubling aspects of a security clearance.
What's he doing leading any delegation anywhere, let alone one of those four countries?
BURNETT: Right. And that, of course, a very crucial question. "Washington Post" reporting Mexico, China, the UAE, and Mexico all were 2trying to manipulate Kushner.
CONNOLLY: Exactly. BURNETT: I want to also ask about the other breaking story this hour, Congressman, because there's a lot. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president was not aware of the $130,000 payment that was made by his lawyer Michael Cohen to a porn star to keep her silent about an alleged affair, at least as far as Sanders knows, right? She said, I'm not -- I'm not aware of the fact that the president knew.
Do you think the president was aware that he knew about this hundred thirty thousand dollar payment which of course his lawyer has said his lawyer did without expecting reimbursement and out of the good of his heart?
CONNOLLY: It stretches credulity to believe the president who apparently had some kind of affair with a porn star was not aware of the fact that his own lawyer was engaged in a payoff to keep her quiet prior to the election. That stretches credulity.
BURNETT: Do you think it was a violation of campaign finance law by the president?
CONNOLLY: I think it needs to be investigated because it very well could be. Clearly, the timing had to do with when the election was taking place. They didn't want this to come out and affect the outcome of the election, and that gets to campaign laws, and whether this was an illegal campaign expense.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time, as always, sir.
CONNOLLY: My pleasure.
BURNETT: Thank you, Congressman Cohen.
And next, breaking news, a deadly nerve agent we're learning was used to try and kill a former spy and his daughter from a Russian double agent. Tonight, we have disturbing new questions about who did it and why.
And the latest reality show from the White House, extreme turnover. Almost half of team Trump gone. How can the administration defend that?
[19:43:35] BURNETT: Breaking news, investigators have determined that a nerve agent was used to poison an ex-Russian spy and his daughter, a police officer who arrived on the scene has now also been hospitalized because of the nerve agent. The former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in critical condition. They were found slumped over on a park bench in a small British town this weekend. This echoing previous incidents of Russians poisoned in an effort to be silenced.
Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT. And, Nick, this is a big story and Scotland Yard has been investigating we're talking about a nerve agent here used on the streets. What are you learning tonight?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary revelations behind me here the head of counterterrorism police in the U.K. coming out this afternoon and saying that's they were investigating attempted murder and that two people have been specifically targeted by this nerve agent. Now, they wouldn't say well the nerve agent was, but they would say they did know what it was specifically and that, of course, is presumably a bid to let whoever was behind this know that they're honing in in their investigation, a very small number of countries are capable of producing and supplying that kind of murder weapon.
Police are focusing in on CCTV from the hours about 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon of a lazy Sunday when Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia visiting from Moscow, a sad family who'd lost the wife and the son in just the last few years.
[19:45:01] They seem to have been to a pizza restaurant, been to a local bar and then felt ill, critically ill on that hospital bench, airlifted away at quarter past 4:00.
Initially, local first responders thought they may have been dealing with an opioid incident, but then 32 hours later, we hear it is shockingly a nerve agent -- Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, this is incredible and we were just seeing some of that CCTV footage. When you think about how this actually happened, you're talking about a small town, very isolated, who are they looking for? Who do they think did this?
WALSH: This is not a murder weapon you can just leave lying out in the hope that your two targets will stumble into it. So, the focus surely has to be how was this administered? Now, that presumably means that somebody was involved in that, did they know what they were administering? That's key question here. Really, were they trained? Did they fall sick themselves? Have they been to hospital already to be treated and then released or are they lying somewhere else in the U.K. also seriously ill?
That's the key focus for investigators here because within that person's identity, you begin to get the trail back to ever commanded this, all of this operation initially. All fingers pointing at Russia because of Sergei Skripal's past as a former Russian spy, convicted for spying for British MI6 while he was in Russia, and then part of an elaborate spy swap eight years ago -- a strange target because he basically been pardoned and forgiven by the Kremlin.
But some say their vengeance knows no bounds. There's a big question there for Britain to answer. Its top politicians have said they'll robustly respond. The question is, what's in their toolbox to do that, and what we're going to see that actually happen if they have the evidence in their fingertips? Erin?
BURNETT: Certainly no such thing as forgiveness from the Kremlin. Thank you, Nick.
And next, team Trump leaving the White House in record numbers. The president says he's not worried and he's got 10 people for every job. But should we the American people be?
And get used to the name David Dennison, because he may actually be the guy running the country.
[19:50:51] BURNETT: Breaking news, abnormal turnover. The White House trying to defend its high rate of turnover in the wake of yet another senior staff departure. Of course, the president's top economic advisor Gary Cohn. Here's Sarah Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is an intense place as every White House and it's not abnormal that you would have people come and go. But we're continuing to do great work. We're continuing to focus on the president's agenda, and that's what we're all here to do.
REPORTER: But actually, it is actually abnormal. No administration in recent history has had this much turnover.
SANDERS: But it's not -- actually, it's not normal to have turnover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Except for the fact that it is.
And the rate of turnover for team Trump, let's just show you the numbers, is 43 percent in the first months. That is extreme. It is abnormal.
Take President Obama, he had a 24 percent turnover rate in two full years, in 24 months, he had -- well, you can say 20 percentage points less.
OUTFRONT now, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton.
You served for four years obviously in the Clinton administration as labor secretary. Clinton had a good deal turnover but way less than Trump. His was 38 percent in the first two years, versus Trump's 43 percent in the first 13 months.
How much does this Trump turnover matter?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Erin, it matters only to the following extent -- a president is going to obviously suffer some turnover, but you need enough people around to provide continuity with regard to advice. It's very, very difficult for a president to make any decisions if the president is not getting advice from people who know the kind of advice that the president got a year before or six months before. So, that kind of turnover can be very, very dysfunctional and this record amount of turnover makes a dysfunctional White House I'm afraid even more dysfunctional.
BURNETT: So there is concern among Republicans and this isn't -- this isn't a Democratic talking point. There's concern among Republicans. You know, John Thune was talking about it today and the Senate's number two Republican John Cornyn spoke about it today. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Well, I'm concerned that who the president will turn to for advice, I think Mr. Cohn was an outstanding public servant and somebody obviously who had the credentials and experience to help the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, Robert, you know, Sarah Sanders responded specifically to Cornyn, saying the president's got a number of very accomplished smart capable people around him.
Look, the source close to the president yesterday, Robert, told me that Gary Cohen was, quote, the last good guy standing. Does the president still have enough, as John Cornyn said, smart capable people -- or Sarah Sanders said I'm sorry -- around him to do the job?
REICH: Well, he needs not only smart people. He needs adults. He needs people who can stand up to him and tell him when he's wrong and why he's wrong. Now, the president has said in the last few days that he liked conflict and I take that to mean that he likes conflicting advice and that's not bad. I mean, Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted conflicting advice as well. A lot of presidents do like conflicting advice so that they can make the right decision.
But here -- the difference is a conflict is different from conflicting advice and to have simply chaos and conflict in a president's -- in a presidency and in the White House is -- serves none of our of our interests.
BURNETT: All right. Robert Reich, thank you.
REICH: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos and President Dennison.
[19:58:09] BURNETT: Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just think, all this time we thought the president's name is Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Dennison, which you say, is Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: D.D., David Dennison, aka perhaps Donald Trump.
MOOS: Now it all makes sense, someone tweeted, Donald Trump did not collude with Vladimir Putin to get elected of the United States. David Dennison did.
Dennison is the signature line left blank on the so-called hush agreement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Dennison, is that an alias for President Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MOOS: So says the attorney for former porn star Stormy Daniels. Stormy itself a stage name went by her own alias.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy Daniels who goes by Peggy Peterson.
MOOS: Making this pair David Dennison and Peggy Peterson almost instantly a parody Twitter account surfaced. Real David Dennison, whose very first tweet was, uh oh. Prompting responses, like, will the real David Dennison please stand up? Then these three took turns.
But David Dennison didn't satisfy some people. They wanted an alias with a little more meaning.
Hans R. Huge was one suggestion. The classic Carlos Danger was already taken by Anthony Weiner who used it while sexting. Dennison now joins the name John Baron, and John Miller that journalists say Trump used to use pretending to be his own press agent.
Listen to how the speech patterns matched.
JOHN MILLER: I can tell you this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you this.
JOHN MLLER: He is probably doing as well as anybody.
TRUMP: As well as anybody.
JOHN MILLER: You understand that.
TRUMP: You understand that.
JOHN MILLER: He's starting to do tremendously well.
TRUMP: She did tremendously well.
MOOS: Never before has a president who so enjoyed name calling --
TRUMP: Lyin' Ted. Crooked Hillary Clinton. MOOS: -- been called by so many names.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Miller. John Baron.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Dennison.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how they came up with that name. And then Stormy Daniels.
BURNETT: It's pretty harmless name, though, when you think about the names he could have used.
All right. Thanks for joining us. Anderson is next.