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Nunberg to Mueller: 'I'm Not Cooperating... Arrest Me'; Republicans Urge Trump to Reconsider Tariffs; WSJ: Payment to Porn Star Flagged as 'Suspicious' by Bank. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired March 6, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: A grand jury subpoena is not an invitation to a birthday party.
[05:59:11] SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I have no problem complying. What I'm not going to do is sit for 15 hours.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: He's going to look at this and say, "You don't show up, we will, and you're going to jail."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not concerned about this testimony, because he has proven himself to be unstable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump may have very well done something during the elections with the Russians.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I certainly can't speak to the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we pretty much explored that to death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party is not willing to follow him on tariffs.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country on trade has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are real consequences that he doesn't seem to appreciate.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome your viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, March 6, 6 a.m. here in New York. So here's our starting line.
How will President Trump respond today to claims made by one of his former campaign aides, Sam Nunberg, in a series of bizarre interviews yesterday? Nunberg is angry over a grand jury subpoena requiring him to turn over thousands of e-mails with former campaign officials. It is unclear if Nunberg will cooperate. So what does all of this tell us about the focus and the scope of Robert Mueller's investigation?
Also, these strange interviews leading the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee to call for Nunberg to testify in front of that committee. But the leading Republican on the committee is throwing cold water on that idea.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And that right there is more proof that the House intel probe is just a partisan mess.
Meantime, President Trump is digging in on imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. House Speaker Paul Ryan is speaking up, kind of, having his spokesperson express concerns about the tariffs and asking the president to back away from this idea. Why? Because the fear is that the tariffs are, in essence, attacks on consumers and would therefore undermine the recent tax cuts. But Trump says he is not backing down. The President, however, in his own inimitable way, may be leaving room open to back down by striking a deal with Canada and Mexico.
And we also have a new development in this Stormy Daniels saga. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was complaining to friends after the election that he has not been reimbursed for a $130,000 payment to the porn star to buy her silence. "The Journal" also reports that the bank used by Cohen flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to the Treasury Department.
We have a lot to cover. Let's begin with Abby Phillip, live at the White House -- Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris. It seems that the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is taking its toll on Trump associates. Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, is becoming the first to say that he wants to defy Mueller. And these interviews that he's been giving, these bizarre interviews on television and in print outlets, have been -- have left the White House here in a little bit of a state of shock.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg threatening to defy a grand jury subpoena to testify this Friday and daring Special Counsel Robert Mueller to arrest him.
NUNBERG: They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?
PHILLIP: Mueller's team has subpoenaed all communications Nunberg has had with ten different individuals since November 2015, including President Trump. Nunberg later signaling that he may be open to complying.
NUNBERG: I was thinking, to save time -- I've been advised against this -- maybe I'll give them my password, my e-mail password. Because what do I have to go --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: So then you're going to comply?
NUNBERG: Then I would comply, yes.
BURNETT: So now you're saying you might comply.
NUNBERG: I have no problem complying in itself. What I'm not going to do is sit, Erin, for 15 hours.
PHILLIP: Nunberg, who says he's already spoken with Mueller's team once, making a series of explosive claims about the investigation.
NUNBERG (via phone): Trump may have very well done something during the elections with the Russians.
They know something on him. Jake, I don't know what it is.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: They know something on him?
NUNBERG: Perhaps I'm wrong. But he did something.
PHILLIP: At other times Nunberg insisting that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians.
NUNBERG: The idea that we were the Manchurian candidate? Gloria, we were a joke. Everybody was laughing at us. The idea that we were colluding with the Russians? Give me a break.
PHILLIP: Nunberg also making this unsubstantiated claim about President Trump's knowledge of a now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr. and Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting. Do you -- do you think that that's true?
NUNBERG (on camera): No.
TAPPER: You don't think that's true?
NUNBERG: No. It doesn't -- Jake, I've watched your news reports. You know it's not true. He talked about it the week before.
PHILLIP: Nunberg seemingly referencing these remarks from two days before the meeting.
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week. And we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it very informative.
PHILLIP: That speech never materialized.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Was that because the Trump Tower meeting didn't produce what he hoped it would produce? PHILLIP: The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee
telling CNN he hopes to interview Nunberg about the claim, but the Republican leading the committee's investigation signaling otherwise.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So your expectation this is winding down?
REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R-TX), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I said earlier, we're closer to the end than we are the beginning.
PHILLIP: Earlier in the day, the White House rejecting Nunberg's allegations.
SANDERS: He hasn't worked at the White House. So I certainly can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.
PHILLIP: But inside the West Wing, sources tell CNN multiple officials were closely watching Nunberg's free-wheeling interviews, calling them "bizarre" and "nuts."
Nunberg even attacks the White House press secretary in another interview.
[06:05:04] NUNBERG (via phone): If Sarah Huckabee wants to start debasing me. She's a joke. OK. Fine, yes, she's unattractive. She's a fat slob. OK, fine. But that's irrelevant. Her -- the person she works for has a 30 percent approval rating.
PHILLIP: CNN's Erin Burnett asking Nunberg very directly about his mental state.
BURNETT: Talking to you --
NUNBERG (on camera): Yes.
BURNETT: -- I have smelled alcohol on your breath.
NUNBERG: Well, I have not had a drink.
BURNETT: You haven't had a drink?
BURNETT: So that's not --
BURNETT: So I just -- because it is the talk out there -- again, I know it's awkward. Let me just get you the question. You haven't had a drink today?
NUNBERG: My answer is no, I have not.
BURNETT: Anything else?
NUNBERG: No. BURNETT: No?
NUNBERG: No. Besides my meds.
NUNBERG: Antidepressants, is that OK?
PHILLIP: Well, Alisyn and Chris, we should note that Sam Nunberg was fired by Trump in 2015, and he's been a figure that's been kind of off and on, in and out of this orbit for several years now.
This is coming at a really awkward time, yet another headache related to this Mueller investigation at a time when the eyes of the world are obviously on this White House, and President Trump is hosting the Swedish president here at the White House today for a news conference. We're sure that he will get some questions about this and other things this afternoon when we see him -- Alisyn and Chris.
CAMEROTA: That does seem like a safe bet, Abby. Thank you very much for all of the reporting.
Let's discuss with CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political analyst John Avlon.
So Jeffrey Toobin --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, ma'am.
CAMEROTA: -- Sam Nunberg is an interesting character.
TOOBIN: You think?
CAMEROTA: I do think. And, you know, what it sounded like to me, listening to his series of interviews yesterday, was that he doesn't want to have to go through the hassle of turning over thousands and thousands of pages of e-mails and correspondence with former campaign officials. He doesn't want to have to do that. At some point he said, I think, to Erin, "I'll just give Robert Mueller my password and let them do it."
CAMEROTA: So I mean --
TOOBIN: He could probably do that, actually. Yes.
CAMEROTA: Then he avoids jail time, right? Because if he refuses to turn over what Robert Mueller is asking, then he does face jail time.
TOOBIN: Correct. And refuses to testify. This is not just a subpoena for documents. It's a subpoena for his personal appearance.
CUOMO: What if his counsel puts in a suggestion that he'll plead the Fifth?
TOOBIN: Well, then it's all over. Then the controversy goes away that --
CUOMO: Not to be a human bucket of cold water on all of this delicious --
CAMEROTA: Mr. Wet Blanket. Go on.
TOOBIN: But if they then -- then he can't refuse to testify on the grounds of taking the Fifth. So I mean, that would delay the confrontation, but it wouldn't necessarily eliminate it.
CUOMO: Why would you immunize such a sidebar guy with such limited knowledge?
CAMEROTA: They don't need him, right?
TOOBIN: All the more reason to immunize him, because you're not giving up a prosecution. You would just --
CAMEROTA: You're not worried about setting a precedent with a more serious people coming in. I want that, too. Otherwise I won't speak.
CAMEROTA: Anything to add, John?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, "only the best people." I mean, this is -- this was a spectacular rolling meltdown. This was the full Nunberg. And he was not well.
CUOMO: The full Nunberg.
AVLON: Yes, we got the full Nunberg.
CUOMO: That will live on, Erica.
AVLON: But he really was not well. And I think the question of what's motivating him? Loyalty for Roger Stone. Were there outside elements affecting, impairing his judgment? He says no. Viewers might come to a different conclusion.
CAMEROTA: But I mean, but John, let me press this. When you say he's not well, I mean, he's angry. He says that he was mistreated by Trump. He says that he was treated terribly, I think is his quote. He's angry. He wants to tell his story. So, you know.
AVLON: Look, he was able to get on every network in the world yesterday. But I don't think this was somebody who was making decisions from a strategic perspective. This was more impulse control issues. And he's close to Roger Stone. And he says he's motivated...
TOOBIN: The -- there was a serious element to this, which was Mueller is asking about Roger Stone and hacked e-mails. The 13-defendant case that was indicted a couple of weeks ago was the case about Russian manipulation of social media. Mueller has done nothing yet about the hacked e-mails. He hasn't charged any Russians. He hasn't charged any Americans.
I think the fact that he wants to talk to Nunberg now about Stone and hacked e-mails suggests he -- Mueller is moving on to a possible case against someone, and not necessarily Stone, to be sure, but against the people who hacked John Podesta's e-mails, who hacked the DNC e- mails, and that would be very significant.
CAMEROTA: So you see that -- you see the focus there, because he's asking for this correspondence?
AVLON: I think that's an important point. The Trump -- the White House can credibly say, "Look, he never worked here. He only worked on the campaign early on and he is a Stone protegee. Stone and Lewandowski clashed early on. They lost the fight. Nunberg's out."
But what obviously -- the play is what does Roger Stone know? And Roger Stone has been connected with WikiLeaks. He's denied it different times. There's been evidence otherwise. And the DNC hack. So if it's a play towards that, that becomes very significant, and Nunberg could have knowledge of that.
[06:10:04] CUOMO: Emphasize the word "if" there, though, because Jeffrey, I hear your theory. But what in that subpoena, assuming it's real, and we don't really know whether it is or not -- but let's assume it's real. Why would we come to that conclusion, when it's such a big group of people that may or may not have anything to do with the e-mails?
TOOBIN: Because we know more than just the subpoena. We know the office interview he had with Mueller's office where he talked about the kinds of questions he was asked. And he keeps saying, "He's out -- they're out to get Roger Stone, and I'm not going to help them get Roger Stone." And --
CUOMO: He also said they have something on Trump.
TOOBIN: Yes, well, but that's --
CUOMO: And said stuff about Carter Page.
TOOBIN: He says that Mueller thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate. I discount that completely. He has no idea what Mueller thinks.
But he does know what questions he was asked.
TOOBIN: And he was asked questions about Roger Stone. And Roger Stone's only real connection to this whole investigation is to the whole matter of hacked e-mails. And that is the next subject, logically, that Mueller would be turning to. CAMEROTA: Well, now lots of people think -- well, some people think
-- that Sam Nunberg is the key to something and may hold some answers. In fact, Adam Schiff of the House Intel Committee now is intrigued and his interest is piqued. Here's what Adam Schiff said yesterday about wanting Nunberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: That speech that he teed up, which was going to take place after the Trump Tower meeting, he never gave. Now, is that because the Trump Tower meeting didn't produce what he'd hoped it would produce? We don't know. But certainly, Mr. Nunberg has light to shed on what the president knew before the Trump Tower meeting, we'd be interested in finding out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: That's an interesting point. I mean, you know, we never know -- we never found out -- he did hype up this big meeting about all -- this big speech about Hillary Clinton's, you know, misdeeds, and then the speech -- and then the never happened. Now, it could be just that the chaos of the Trump campaign that the speech didn't happen. But the timing does suggest that the failure of the Trump Tower meeting to produce incriminating information may have had something to do with it.
Sam Nunberg didn't even work for the campaign at that point. So how he would know that is -- is hard to fathom.
AVLON: That's why it's arguably a bank shot to Stone. Stone is not working with the campaign then either but a long-standing relationship with Trump as sort of a dirty trickster. That's his stock and trade, one of the more colorful people on the fringes of politics.
But that -- that is clearly sort of the larger game. Does he have evidence? Does he have communications with Stone that maybe shed light on the larger questions?
CUOMO: Look, my interest in this guy is that let's assume -- let's assume he knows nothing about any of these things, and everything he is saying is nonsense.
CUOMO: OK. Still, he is a great window into who Trump had around him in a very formative phase. In Josh Green's book, right, we'll recall -- you've heard this before --
CUOMO: -- but the context is a little bit sharper for you now that you've been introduced to Nunberg. He and Stone and Bannon --
CUOMO: -- were the fundamental group that came up with the wall as a way to keep Trump, as a candidate, on track and talking about immigration, because they knew that immigration was making the base they were trying to access angry.
CAMEROTA: I have an excerpt. Here is -- this is interesting. They came up with the wall. OK, so "'Roger Stone and I came up with the wall,' according to Nunberg. Initially Trump seemed indifferent to the idea. But in January 2005 he tried it at the Iowa Freedom Summit. 'I will build a wall,' he said, and the place went nuts."
CUOMO: And I like the next part, because it really shows you who Trump's all about. So the line works...
CUOMO: ... but it's not good enough. Why? Because it's not about him. "Warming to the concept, Trump waited a beat and then added a flourish that brought down the House. 'Nobody,' he said, 'builds like Trump.'" And then once he heard applause for his name, boom, he was in, baby. And that's all we heard for the next 14 months.
TOOBIN: Thus American policy is made.
CUOMO: So Nunberg, you know, you want to dismiss him.
TOOBIN: And the presidency he was fundamental, not just the campaign. We're --
CUOMO: This is who was coming up with this stuff. The guy you saw on TV yesterday is the guy who birthed this entire idea.
AVLON: It's a beautiful thing. But the function yesterday, also, is to really gaslight the president and the White House with this. This was not a good day. The rolling reality show that has been set up in motion by the president, this was that sort of, you know, late in the season 1 unexpected character reemergence with the cray-cray. It was really --
CUOMO: "I only hire the best."
AVLON: Only the best.
CUOMO: "I only hire the best."
If the guy had a pet monkey on his shoulder, he would be more legitimate than this.
CAMEROTA: That is a great addition for season 2.
Gentlemen, thank you.
CUOMO: Can't make it up. Can't make it up.
President Trump refusing to back down on steel and aluminum tariffs, but now some of his biggest Republican allies in the House and Senate are saying that the president should walk away from his plan. What will that do? Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[06:18:50] CUOMO: All right. So what is the chance of some progress when it comes to what we're dealing with with Trump and the tariffs? We know how he got here. We now know that it was supposed to be bait. But the president is refusing to back down on these tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. So what is the real chance that there's any progress on a deal?
We now have the speaker, Paul Ryan, getting involved. He says he's worried about a trade war. Will the president listen to Ryan, a growing chorus of Republicans? It would be a first.
Let's bring back John Avlon and joining us now, CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich. Good to see you.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Likewise.
CUOMO: Great to hear about the baby.
The -- why am I being skeptical like that? Because they have come to Trump before and said --
CUOMO: -- "This is a bad idea. Don't do this." And you can fill in the blank with, like, 15 or 20 different things. And he has done it any way every time, as far as we know.
Do you think that Ryan and others saying, "Don't do the tariffs. We'll find another way. Don't do this. You screw up our tax breaks; you screw up everything." You think that will change the president's mind?
KUCINICH: It's hard to say. He also has Gary Cohen coming at him, apparently, this week with executives that will be affected by an aluminum and steel tariff. So we'll see. I mean, who's going to be the last person in the room with him, which we know. But it's not necessarily untrue, right?
[06:20:03] AVLON: No, it's not at all. It's just an absurd way to make policy.
KUCINICH: But it's the only -- but here's the problem. All congressional leaders can do is talk at this point, because this is a legitimate presidential power. They can, in theory, pass something brand-new, have him veto it. But this Congress, I mean, that's a tall order.
CUOMO: If he makes the national security case.
KUCINICH: If he does.
CUOMO: That's their back door on this, right? Is that he only has these 232 powers under this 1960-whatever law if he shows it's national security. KUCINICH: Sure.
AVLON: And notably, that was the argument, essentially, Navarro was making on the Sunday shows. Right? That, you know, the nation needs the ability to produce its own steel or aluminum; otherwise, we're at a disadvantage from a national security perspective.
Look, Trump is pretty dug in. He doubled down. Ryan is trying to find a spine again on this issue, because it's an issue he's cared about. But his No. 1 issue is deficit and debt; and he rolled over on that. So why is this the one you want to fight and die on?
I think the only credible concern is a trade war on top of an already heated economy, on top of tax cuts, that's a bad -- that's a perfect storm.
KUCINICH: In a midterm year.
AVLON: Yes, exactly.
CAMEROTA: Well, here's how Paul Ryan himself puts it. This is the statement that he put out for a spokeswoman: "We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan. The new tax reform law has boosted the economy, and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains."
But then we're told by Maggie Haberman at "The New York Times," inside the White House, that President Trump was a little skittish after watching the turmoil of the stock markets, but then on Monday, the stock markets seemed to rebound and recover.
CUOMO: But it rebounded, because the market -- I mean, who knows? It's such a collective conscious. But it seemed that -- less likely that this was going to happen the way Trump had outlined it would, and then the markets rebounded.
CAMEROTA: Well, he was encouraged by that sign so now he's back at the tariff table.
KUCINICH: Right. And that's, again, why you have these congressional leaders. They're probably going to look at him and they probably will bring charts. Because he -- that's one way that advisers communicate with him. And...
CUOMO: Is that the polite way of saying they're going to use crayons and construction paper? What are you trying to --
KUCINICH: Chart, charts. I didn't say puppet show.
CUOMO: He gets it.
CAMEROTA: If it goes like that, like the downward, then it's bad.
KUCINICH: Right. I imagine they're a little more sophisticated than that, but I've been told that they use charts to explain things to him sometimes.
When you look at the midterm elections. Let's take somewhere like my home state of Ohio. This is an issue where someone like a Sherrod Brown is on board with the president. He is in -- he has a race, presumably, against someone like Mike DeWine.
CAMEROTA: We talked to Debbie Dingell from Michigan, right, so you know, at the epicenter of these issues. She said that she wasn't sure yet how to feel about it. She had to study it more, but would this plan bring back steel plants?
KUCINICH: It helps Democrats.
CAMEROTA: Help these steel workers?
AVLON: They're -- you're not going to pull a Lazarus on an entire industry, which has been in retreat since 1980, but if you look at the core states that Trump flipped to win, Wisconsin, you know, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa where he had huge gains, these are states with huge manufacturing bases. A lot of the elected reps, to Jackie's point, want to see this kind of action.
And Republicans shouldn't be surprised. He ran on a protectionist platform. He's never been a free trader. They just assumed they'd be able to win them over by being the last person in the room. But he's sticking to his guns on this, and there's a political base playing argument to suggest it's a good idea. It's a violation of everything the Republicans believe in.
CUOMO: I agree with everything you guys just said. It's a little odd that he's playing to a Democratic issue and going against his own party. People will see It's all based on something that's just not true which is it's tariffs. It's trade imbalances that have drained our manufacturing jobs. It's automation.
CUOMO: That's what's drained the jobs. And it feels like he's setting people up for disappointment by saying to them, "If I do this, the jobs will come back." It's just not likely.
KUCINICH: Well, and I think that's what you'll hear. He's going to hear from these executives, presumably from car companies and the like, that are saying, you know, "Not only that, this is going to hurt jobs that are already here." He's talking about taxes on European cars as a way to retaliate. Well, if you drive through the south, there are just, you know, off the top of my head, Mercedes, BMW.
AVLON: Yes. Greensville, South Carolina.
KUCINICH: Totally. Those are all American jobs making European cars. Not to mention all the parts that are steel and aluminum and everything. So I think that's what you're going to -- that's what he's going to hear from other job creators.
Now, you're right. There is this sticking point, because he promised to bring back the steel industry; and fulfilling campaign promises that he made on the stump have been very important to the president --
KUCINICH: -- and some of his advisers who will hold him to that, saying, you know, "You made this promise. And you need to deliver to the forgotten man."
AVLON: Yes. And look, look at like, Mahoning County, Youngtown, Ohio, where my mother is from, he flips it. It goes hard for him. The absence of the steel mills is what's gutted that town over a period of decades. So it gives them some hope.
But to your point, the real underline issue is automation. It's A.I. And what's the response for working folks who are really poised to be even in more pain because of that? Where's the policy to deal with that?
CUOMO: He could have given them a real tax break. That's how he sold the tax cuts, that this is a middle-class tax cut. You can't find an economist that will say this is a middle-class tax cut. There are some benefits to those people, but it's obviously over-weighted to the top. He didn't do that.
[06:25:17] I just feel like I don't get what the long-term play is for him here. Because they're going to know real soon whether or not this changes their lives.
AVLON: He may not be thinking long-term. Let me just throw that out there. All right. Next topic, Stormy Daniels. Natural segue.
So, it turns out that the bank that Michael Cohen used to transfer $130,000 to her flagged this as a suspicious transfer because it was suspicious.
CAMEROTA: So Michael Cohen, we also know, it had complained from reporting that he was never reimbursed. So other than Michael Cohen being out $130,000, does this story advance? Does this story make a dent anywhere?
KUCINICH: You know, it depends on if the -- I mean, I know Common Cause, a left-leaning group, has asked for the DOJ and the FEC to look into this, because it could have been considered an in-kind donation.
CAMEROTA: Violating campaign laws. Because if it does change the outcome of the election, and you could argue that that's why they paid her in order to change the outcome of the election, because people might have been swayed.
CUOMO: Well, it doesn't have to work. You know, I mean, if you show that Trump knew about this and that it was done in order to help the campaign, doesn't matter.
CAMEROTA: Well, why doesn't even he have to know? Can't Michael Cohen just know and break campaign laws? CUOMO: But that wouldn't break campaign laws.
AVLON: OK. What's new in this report, what I think is really significant, to get to Jackie's point and yours, is that what this report says is that Cohen delayed payments, because he was trying to get in touch with Trump, and it was hard during the final days of the campaign. That's new information. That connects Trump --
CUOMO: If true.
AVLON: Well, if true.
CUOMO: He says it's not true. His answer were two words: "Fake news."
AVLON: But the fundamental -- of course. But that's what -- that's also code for uncomfortable fact. Let's just be real.
CUOMO: I like that reckoning, just for our own purposes.
AVLON: Has the added pressure of being true. Here is -- here is the other major issue behind this. Who in their right mind believes that Michael Cohen purely on his own, out of the goodness of his heart, decides to give a six-figure sum to a porn star out of a Delaware corporation. There's no scenario where that happens, absent of trying to shut somebody up and -- or come up with a credible one for me. Because I haven't heard --
CUOMO: It's OK to want to shut the person up, and that's why you did it.
KUCINICH: Before he ran for president.
CAMEROTA: Try to protect Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: Donald Trump doesn't have to know about that.
AVLON: No, no, no. But it's to protect him to cover something up that could be politically damaging, and there's also the information --
CUOMO: But that's why Cohen says he did it.
AVLON: And Cohen is going around -- Cohen is saying that, you know, he believes Stormy Daniels' denial. He was just shoring things up. And also, the question why he's -- he's out $130,000 and Trump isn't --
CUOMO: Because he believes in Trump and Trump has been so good to his family. This is what he says as to why. Ow, could that be untrue? Yes, but you'd have to show. You'd have to show that Trump knew that Trump was -- said he was going to pay him back.
AVLON: For what? CUOMO: For what what?
CAMEROTA: Good question.
CUOMO: We'll discuss in the break. This is not important enough to warrant more time.
CAMEROTA: John Avlon, Jackie Kucinich, thank you.
CUOMO: There is major breaking news. That's why we're cutting this conversation short. The North is saying -- this is Korea we're talking about -- will North Korea halt nuclear missile tests even temporarily in favor of talks? We have a live report with new information out of Seoul next.