March 25, 2018 2:01 pm
Transcript for One-on-one with Trump confidant and Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy
But we turn now to that political storm consuming the white house. President trump is increasingly acting on his own leaving his staff in the dark about his next move. Case in point, his Friday morning tweet threatening to veto the budget deal his team vowed he’d sign. At midday the president called a last-minute news conference which staff called a bill signing which ended up being neither. Earlier in the week the president slapped $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods potentially edging the U.S. Closer to a trade war. And on Thursday, yet another surprise, a tweet announcing national security adviser H.R. Mcmaster was out and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton would replace him. The announcement came as a shock even to Bolton who said he was caught off guard during a live interview. The staff shake-up also came just before a prime time interview with Karen Mcdougal, a former playboy model who says she had an affair with the president years ago. And tonight, another potentially explosive interview is set to air. This one with adult film actress stormy Daniels, who says she too had an affair with trump and was paid to keep quiet about it. So, what’s at stake for the president? Let’s bring in ABC news chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and Chris ruddy, CEO of Newsmax media and a personal confidant of the president’s who is also an ABC news contributor. And, Chris, I want to start with you. You are a friend of the president. I know you spoke to him yesterday. We’ve seen so many sudden moves from the president this week with his staff, Mcmaster out, Bolton in. Should we expect more of this? The president told me he’s perplexed by all of these reports there’s chaos at the white house or mass staff changes. He told me that he thinks the white house is operating like a smooth machine. His words. He did say that he’s expecting to make one or two major changes to his government very soon and that’s going to be it. Now, other white house source, not the president, tell me the veterans affairs secretary David shulkin is likely to depart the cabinet very soon. But other reports, people like Ben Carson, I’m told the president is happy with the job he’s doing. He will be staying. Chief of chaff Kelly, the president is happy with the job he is doivg. He will be staying. So, all of these fake news reports saying there’s turmoil and chaos, I think the president has made incredible choices with Larry kudlow, John Bolton, I know he was very ecstatic, very experienced guys in their area of governanceg they’ll do a tremendous job for the president and the country. Well, Chris, there’s certainly been a lot of turnover if you don’t want to chaos, you don’t have to but let me go back to John Kelly. What do these changes mean for John Kelly if he stays? Well, I believe he will be staying, but I think — the president was never in politics before, remember, he was a business guy. He was an entertainer, he came into this job, didn’t know anyone in politics and he’s brought in a team that’s been very good in many area, general Mattis, for instance, Mike Pompeo. There’s certain people that just didn’t work out, Rex tillerson didn’t click with the president. He didn’t have the political smarts for someone to run the state department, never engaged with his own staff at the state department. So, I think the president is making like he’s trying to improve the type of people he’s bringing in, kudlow and Bolton, you might disagree with some of their views, they’re much stronger personalities coming into the white house and they’ll give a level of stability and be a great help to general Kelly. Chris, I want to turn to the president’s mind-set about this interview with stormy Daniels, the interview with Karen Mcdougal. Did he watch those interviews and tell us what he’s thinking. Well, you know, I can’t tell you everything he’s thinking. I can only tell you what he told me. He said he thought much of the stormy Daniels stuff was a political hoax, his words. Martha — So, he thinks they’re lying even though stormy Daniels got $130,000? I’ll let him characterize. You know, you have to look at this case. You’re a straightforward journalist. I think you’re fair-minded. When you watch this interview on sbc, “60 minutes” you’ll look for the same question I’m looking for. Are they going to ask her, stormy, why did you hit higher a political hit, democratic attorney Michael avenatti that’s worked for 150 democratic political campaigns, Joe Biden’s campaign and Rahm Emanuel. Who is operating on funding her tremendous public relations effort? And, you know, at the bottom line is there’s never been a claim of harassment. So the president looks at this and I think he’s looking at it like I’m looking at it, this is politically motivated to hurt and embarrass him in some way and you know what, at the end of the day the poll numbers for the president are up. Gallop has him at a record 40%. The Rasmussen at 48% approval. So I think the American people are really dismissing this as political, political witch-hunts. Okay, Chris, thanks for that. I want to turn to Dan Abrams now. Storm is set to tell her story tonight. Are there legal implications for her and for the president? Yeah, so I think from a legal perspective, she’s at more risk than the president. She’s the one who effectively agreed to this $130,000 deal and as part of that agreed that if she speaks out about this, there will be damages. Now, she’s got arguments as to why that shouldn’t apply. She says that president trump didn’t sign the contract. Not a particularly strong argument there. Strongest argument they’ve got Michael Cohen disclosed there was this $130,000 payment that effectively voids the contract. Another argument, but she’s the one who could be facing legal jeopardy down the road. For him it’s political. What is the fallout from what she says? Is she credible? Is there more evidence out there that could further embarrass the president but from the legal perspective I think she’s really the one who has to be more concerned than him. And we saw Karen Mcdougal interviewed this week. A very powerful interview. She said she had an affair with the president for nearly a year. A very different legal case there with her. Well, that’s right and probably even a weaker legal case. Look, I think she was suing to make sure she could do this interview. It seems Ami, the company that she signed the deal with for her life story is not going to sue her over her interview with Anderson cooper. The question becomes who owns her life story? And right now Ami would say we do. We paid $150,000 for it. She’s saying I didn’t understand the contract. My lawyer was in cahoots effectively with the other side. That’s not a particularly strong legal argument that she has, but I think the most important issue for her is that she’s not going to be sued for speaking out about what she says is her affair with the president. And, Dan, in the midst of these two stories there was a third lawsuit involving trump this week. A judge ruled that former “Apprentice” star summer Zervos claiming he defamed her calling her a lie irshould be allowed to move forward. Is this a dangerous lawsuit for president trump. This is the one he should be worried about. The other two from a legal perspective, I don’t think are particularly significant. Why is this one so important? By the court saying this case can now move forward, you’re opening up the door to discovery meaning there are a whole lot of other issues that can now potentially come in. There are even — everything from possible tax returns to other women, remember, she basically says that he kissed her and groped her but that’s not what the case is about. It’s about defamation. It’s about him saying it’s not true. When he was making those comments he was talking about a bunch of other women as well and so those other women could become relevant in the context of this case and that’s why for him I think this case becomes much more perilous than anything else we’re talking about. Okay, thanks very much to you, Dan Abrams and Chris ruddy.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.Tags: ThisWeek
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