Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump's 180 Today On Women Who Get Abortions; Donald Trump Defending His Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski; Female Journalists Call for Firing of Trump's Campaign Manager. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 30, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.

If you think you have seen it all in this presidential primary, just stay tuned and wait for the next headline to hit. They have been coming all day. All three Republican presidential candidates at our town hall backing away from their signed pledge to support whoever wins the GOP nomination.

Donald Trump first advocating punishment for women who get abortions if abortions are banned. Then saying the exact opposite all within hours. All without ever admitting he changed his position.

On top of that, new polling out of Wisconsin suggesting the winner there may not be Donald Trump, potentially blocking his path to sowing up the nomination before the convention, paving the way toward a floor battle unlike any seen in decades. And that same polling spells hope for Bernie Sanders and a headache for Hillary Clinton.

A ton of stuff tonight, plus a closer look at the legal troubles surrounding Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump double down on his defense, the man. Even as he double back on his abortion remarks which is where we begin with the abortion 180 and CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.

So walk us through exactly what happened today, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this all stems, Anderson, from some very hard line positions that Donald Trump said today during a town hall, an interview during a town hall today over abortion. And Trump was asked during that town hall, point blank, he was responding to a question, whether he would punish a woman for having an abortion if it was made illegal in the United States. Here is first that exchange which set off this controversy.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?


MATTHEWS: And this is not something you can dodge. If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and conservative Republicans would say yes, they should be punished.

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it's a very serious problem and it's a problem we have to decide on. It's very --

MATTHEWS: But you are for banning it?

TRUMP: Are you going to say put them in jail? The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten years?

TRUMP: That's I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don't know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: I frankly -- I do take positions on everything else. It's a very complicated position.


SERFATY: Now very quickly there was quickly a firestorm and condemnation from many of Trump's rivals really blasting his position on this. The Trump's campaign came out with a first statement to clarify his position. Then quickly after -- was forced into basically walking back the statement altogether, coming out with a lengthy statement saying quote "if Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal, and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permits to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held illegally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this in the womb. My position has not changed. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions."

And this whole life span of this controversy was very quick from the time the original statement was made by Donald Trump to the time of this clarification, it is walking back of his statement was only about three hours which gives you an indication, Anderson, how quickly it set off a real firestorm -- Anderson.

COOPER: And what's was Senator Cruz's response?

SERFATY: Yes. Well, this was interesting. The Cruz campaign quickly came out and condemned this statement. Cruz himself came out with a statement this evening saying in part quote "Trump hasn't seriously thought through these issues and will say anything to get attention." And it was interesting that the Cruz campaign very quickly trying to make this a larger critique about Donald Trump's conservative credentials. Really casting as a pattern, calling this just another missed step, another fumble made by Donald Trump revealing. They said, that he doesn't have any core, any anchor in conservative principles.

COOPER: Sunlen Serfaty, Sunlen, thanks very much.

We're expecting a phone call shortly from Secretary Hillary Clinton responding to the Trump remarks today calling to this broadcast.

Now, the new poll signaling trouble for Trump. So much so, it could foreshadow a scenario which no candidate gets the required 1,237 delegates they need to roll into Cleveland with the nomination sown up.

Tuesday's Wisconsin's primary could be a major path hole on that path. Our John King is here to explain it by the numbers.

So let's take a look at the poll in Wisconsin. What does it show?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It shows, Anderson, as you just know, in Wisconsin could be trouble for Donald Trump, a 10- point Ted Cruz lead. This is a market university law school poll. Cruz at 40, Trump at 30, John Kasich at 21 percent. Ten points going into the final days for Ted Cruz.

One of the reasons why is the gender gap. Look at this. Among men and women, Ted Cruz roughly even, 20 percent to 39 percent. But look at this. Donald Trump gets the support of 35 percent of Republican men in Wisconsin who plan to vote saying they support Trump. But only 24 percent of Republican women who plan to vote in the Tuesday primary. So even before the dust up of today, Anderson, an indication that gender gap is part of Trump falling too difficult behind in Wisconsin.

[20:05:13] COOPER: And trade is obviously a big issue on Donald Trump's economic pitch. How does that issue play?

KING: It is. And these numbers tell you that Donald Trump might be better off to get back to economics and the change argument and get away from conversations like abortions and other candidates' wives.

This is among Republicans. Republicans traditionally the party of free trade, right. Among Republican primary voters, only 32 percent of Republicans in Wisconsin say free trade deals are good for the United States. Nearly half, Anderson, 48 percent say free trade is bad for the United States. And watch how this breaks down. Traditional Republicans, those who say free trade is good, they tend to support Ted Cruz. Nearly half of them for Senator Cruz. But look at this. Donald Trump has a big lead among Republicans who say these trade deals are a bad deal for the United States, 41 percent. That's been something Mr. Trump has talked about since the beginning of this campaign. Part of his big appeal. In Wisconsin that have, even though he's losing, it is clear Mr. Trump's views on trade could help him in the primary.

COOPER: And what about room for Trump to recover before the primary?

KING: Well, there is time to recover. Mr. Trump has proven he can move the numbers, right. Just want to show one thing and this Wisconsin poll. Nearly one-quarter of Republicans say they are uncomfortable. They have discomfort with Donald Trump. Only 14 percent say that about Ted Cruz, five percent about governor Kasich. So when almost a quarter of the electorate you are trying to court, says they're uncomfortable about you, is there room for Donald Trump to recover? Sure. But that is a speed bump in the way.

COOPER: All right. John, stay with us.

On the panel tonight as well is chief political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, also out political commentators Jeffrey Lord, Amanda Carpenter and Ana Navarro. Jeffrey is a Trump supporter. Amanda is a former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz. Ana is Republican strategist. Rich Galen is also with us. He is also a strategist on the Republican side as well.

First of all, the poll numbers certainly in Wisconsin, not good news for Donald Trump.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not good news for Donald Trump. And surprisingly, good news for Ted Cruz. Wisconsin is not a state that's a natural terrain for Ted Cruz. Not a large evangelical population. And so for Cruz, the Cruz campaign is thrilled at these numbers. The problem for Trump are these gender gap numbers.

You know, overall in this country, he has about a 73 percent unfavorable rating with women. But he has always done pretty well with Republican women generally. This poll is the first sign, real sign, of kind of the cracking of women against Trump. We don't know if it's accurate. We don't know if it will hold.

COOPER: Nia, does it prove that to Cruz's point, that Donald trump, there's a ceiling to his support?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, in some ways. And that has been the entire argument we've seen from the GOP establishment all along. If the field winnows, then you can essentially stop Trump. It does seem like at least if this poll is accurate, that we're seeing some of that. In prior polls from Wisconsin, it was sort of a different scenario because people were breaking up the field of establishment candidates. So I think if you are a Republican who is part of the never Trump movement, this is a real moment because not only do you have Donald Trump, saying a string of controversial things, whether it's his handling of the Corey Lewandowski thing or what he said about Heidi Cruz and now this thing about abortion which again underscores what a lot of Republicans have said which is that Donald Trump hasn't spent enough time among Republicans, among pro-choice Republicans. You saw a lot of these -- pro-life Republicans. You saw a lot of these pro-life groups officially come out and say, well, this is because he's really just a convert to the pro-life movement.

COOPER: Well, I mean, the other way to look at it, John, is that these are issues he hasn't really thought much about. He hasn't kind of thought the ramifications of or kind of thought it through. Doesn't have policy papers. He is not in meetings with advisers on this. A lot of this comes from his own thoughts. And he is also, unlike a lot of candidates if asks a question, even very hypothetical, he goes there. He sort of -he talks out loud what his thoughts are, which a lot of politicians don't.

KING: Right. The pros cover there can tell you more about this than I can. But if you are a Republican and you change your position on abortion, which Donald Trump did. He once said he was pro-choice when thinking of running for the reform party presidential nomination. Now says he's very pro-life.

If you are going to change your position, ask George H. W. Bush, ask Mitt Romney. You better be able to answer these questions. It's OK to change your position. Voters will give you the change of position but you better be able to answer where it comes from, from a moral standpoint, from a legal standpoint. And the fact he couldn't do that hurts him.

Now, Donald Trump's strength is not his position on the issues. He has change his positions on a lot of issues. His strengths is his strength. But he is on defense now for the first time in a long time. He is still in the headlines but he is not setting the agenda by saying I build a wall or I will do this. And you have also had in one state a sustained period of time where a lot of money in negative ads has been dumped on his head.

COOPER: Jeffrey, are you concerned as a Trump supporter?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he made a misstep here. There is just no question about it. And he needs to correct it. He corrected it very quickly and he will move on. His greatest strength is that he's not a politician. It's also, of course, his greatest weakness because he doesn't have the smooth pattern down. And I think on balance, the problem for his opponents are they are all smooth politicians. And eventually over time, I think that this is being weighted towards as we used to say frequently outsiders. And I think he can certainly recover from this. But you know, today is a good example of when it worked against him.

[20:10:25] COOPER: Certainly, Amanda, it plays into the, you know, ongoing story line of Donald Trump issues with women, lack of consideration of women.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, certainly. I think this -- for this week, we are starting to see Donald Trump, he's not dominating the headlines. He is being subject to them. And this shows that he really hasn't thought deeply about the issues. In a traditional campaign you could at least spend a couple of months going around to these groups that care about these issues and kind to do listening sessions to get a feel for it. He did none of that and you can see him to just trying to make it up as he went along. And so, he said that and then his campaign quickly had to make a statement. He is going to have to do another round of interviews on this.

This is an issue you can't freelance. So you have to come from the heart and explain how you arrived at your position there. He hasn't done that thinking. And this is not a time where you can get up to speed at it.

COOPER: Ana, I mean, it is kind of remarkable, though, Republican front-runner could change even part his position on abortion within a few hours and they are not even acknowledge that he has actually changed. I mean, he says one thing in that town hall. Clearly whether it was because he hadn't thought about it or whatever. But that was his position then, and his position had changed and in his statement he said, I haven't changed my position.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In fact today I will tell you is a clear indication that Donald Trump hasn't become a politician. We haven't seen from Donald Trump until now an actual statement clarifying a flip flop within hours.

I don't think it's remarkable at all that he's changed positions. Anderson, he has been doing it for years now. He certainly has been doing it consistently for the last ten months. We have seen this repeated pattern over and over again. This is not new with him and women. We have seen him go after Carly Fiorina's face. We have seen him go after Megyn Kelly. We have seen him go after Heidi Cruz. There is nothing new about this. What I do think kind of, you know, set off the alarm bells is this is a real time bomb in a general election.

COOPER: Rich, we have seen, though, a lot of times, you know, a number of incidents happen. It seem like, wait a minute, is this a watershed event? And then it just sort of dissipates into nothing. Do you think this is real? Something else comes along.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't have a horse in this race. (INAUDIBLE). I don't like any of them. So it's like sitting on the curb at the rose bowl parade. I like that float. I don't like that.

But here is the thing. I understand everybody's position. But this is a tactical issue that he should -- if you're going to go into a conversation with Chris Matthews, somebody has to say to you, OK, look. You can't let him control the pace. Take a deep breath. Let him sit there and just throw things at you. Slow down. Make sure you know what's coming out of your mouths. Nobody can do that, except probably for Corey. You know this better than I do. But Corey is back on his heels because of what happened last week or two weeks ago. So I just think from a tactical standpoint the whole campaign is like changing places --

NAVARRO: He tried to shift the focus on Chris Matthews and put Chris Matthews on the questioning, asking him about, you know, your religion and being a catholic.

GALEN: If you are going to -- you can't go after Trump by poking holes in his logic. It's like sticking holes in sourdough bread. It's not what he says. It's how he says it.

COOPER: We are going to continue the conversation throughout the evening, including with Hillary Clinton who we are expecting to call in shortly.

In the meantime, next, a closer look at why today's change of course on abortion was not except for Donald Trump. We will look at other examples of born 80s from "360" town hall last night.

We will also focus more on the fallout to the abortion turn around with women voters. That and more ahead on what is a very busy night tonight.


[20:17:43] COOPER: Before the break you saw how quickly Donald Trump can reverse himself in the case of today's controversial remarks in abortion. It only took a few hours. Whoever, that is nothing compared to last night's "360" town hall where you shall see. He changed course on a number of vital topics in the space of a single conversation.


COOPER: It's been a U.S. policy for decades to prevent Japan from getting nuclear --

TRUMP: That's may be policy, but can I be honest with you? Maybe it's going to have to be time to change because so many -- you have Pakistan has it, China has it. You have so many other countries --.

COOPER: So, some proliferation is OK?

TRUMP: No, no. I hate proliferation. Now, wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?

COOPER: So, you are saying you don't want more nuclear weapons in the world but you're OK with Japan and South Korea --?

TRUMP: I don't want more nuclear weapons.

COOPER: So in terms of federal government role, you are saying security but you also health care and education should be provided by the federal government?

TRUMP: Those are two of the things. Yes, sure.

COOPER: Aren't you against the federal government's involvement in education? Don't you want it to devolve to state?

TRUMP: No. I want to go to state, absolutely.

I apologize for my wife for not being presidential on occasion. She's always saying, darling, be more presidential.

COOPER: She told me she's talked to you about that.

TRUMP: No, she does. Because she thinks I'm very presidential.


COOPER: Back with the panel.

I mean, it's always been one of the knocks on Donald Trump that he has flip-flopped. I mean, his critics in the Republican Party, that's what they try to use against him. I mean, any reason to think this would trip him up now when it hasn't this whole year?

BORGER: Look. I think that, in one sense, you have to give Donald Trump credit because he actually sat with "The New York Times" for 100 minutes and talked only about foreign policy.

COOPER: And they said that's longer I think than any other candidate.

BORGER: No other - so, I have to give him kudos for that, honestly. On the other hand, if you're going to sit and talk to "The New York Times" about foreign policy, you ought to have your ducks in a row and you ought to have things thought out. And like the question of abortion and sort of thinking as you go along, making it up as you go along. I know he now has a foreign policy team in place. But it's a little late to start getting tutored.

Most people, I'm old-fashioned, come to political campaigns with a set of beliefs they want to bring to the country and ideas. They want to give to the country. They don't come up with the idea later. They usually do it in the other way.

COOPER: What is also not clear how much he is actually getting tutored. I mean, there were questions early on, I think there was "Politico" article when he announced some of the names of his foreign policy advisers. Some said they hadn't actually sat down and talked to him.

[20:20:12] LORD: I've talked to senator Sessions. And he certainly is playing a role both in foreign policy --

COOPER: Right. But that is not what the - I mean, Senator Sessions has been around for a while with Donald Trump. These are people who he had recently named, I think, two or three of them said, actually I haven't had a conversation with him.

LORD: Yes. I am sure -- look. As I've said a lot of times, campaigns mimic the presidency. I mean, eventually these people -- he'll be filled to the rafters with people like this. We can have the discussion. Should he have done it long ago? Should he do it now? Should he, whatever. But that it's happening, I don't think there's any question about it.

Sessions is also playing a role with judges. He's announced he's, Donald Trump, has announced that he is going to release the names of six to seven people that he would nominate for the Supreme Court. Clearly Senator Sessions is going to play a role in that. COOPER: Right.

CARPENTER: But when forming sort of a kitchen cabinet inner circle on any particular policy issue, there usually is a meeting. It sort of an interview sessions between the candidate and policy expert to make sure that they are on the same page. Because usually these policy experts have very strong beliefs. They want to influence the decision maker and they have to make sure they marry up so that they are on the same page when talking about things and you don't have conflicting statements which I think we have seen several times where Trump surrogates and people designated by the campaign say I can't speak to that issue. That's a bad situation for everybody and a direct result of them simply not talking to each other.

NAVARRO: Honestly, you both are just so old-fashioned and dated. I mean, this idea that you would actually get spoken advice from advisers really seems to me to be so 2012, OK? I mean, have you not heard of foreign policy advice through osmosis and ESP? This is Donald Trump.

BORGER: But it doesn't mean that you can't have a set of beliefs. It means that things are complicated in this world and you may believe in making America great again. And Ronald Reagan, for example, had a very solid set of beliefs. But he called in advisers because these things have to unfold. They are very complex.

LORD: But in fairness, Reagan was criticized for not knowing a lot of this stuff even while he was president.

KING: Reagan sounded original in a lot of things and then cut deals. Trump's opening philosophy is I will make the best deal. He doesn't have a lot of rigid views, a lot of issues. Reagan was the great anti-communist and he was the one that negotiated and cut deals. (INAUDIBLE). Trump's position is let's cut the best deal.

COOPER: A lot of the positions Trump has taken and he's talked about this, you know, are sure of an opening gambit in a larger deal. I mean, this is what I am going into the deal with. And then we will see what happens in negotiations. It is one way to do it.

HENDERSON: Yes. And I think he is also, even when it comes to foreign policy, he is kind of drawing from libertarianism. He drawing from liberals in some ways. And he is also framing it a lot of times in terms of an economic issue.

COOPER: Right. And there is -- in some ways.

HENDERSON: And Obama has done that in some ways.

COOPER: There's a consistency with a lot of his economic positions internationally that he's - I mean, that he used to take out ads in the '80s about Japan and trade. And so, I mean, there is consistency.

NAVARRO: You know, last week when President Obama was in Cuba, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Donald Trump and asked him about the Cuba issue. And he framed it and answered it completely from a businessman's point of view. He talked about how you can't invest in Cuba without the Cuban government owning 51 percent. He didn't say one word, not one syllable about the dissidents, about the opponents, about the people getting harassed, about the people being jailed. All he did was frame it in a businessman's point of view. And that has worked for him. And that's my --

BORGER: I have this theory after covering Mitt Romney is that's why sometimes businesspeople don't make great political candidates because they come at everything from, what do I need to do to cut the deal? So Mitt Romney needed to talk about self-deportation to get conservatives on board. And Donald Trump looks at everything as a negotiation.

COOPER: But it's worked for him thus far.

GALEN: Yes. That's exactly what I was going -- I'm not nearly as deep a thinker as you, guys are. But I do know that we have been talking about nobody but Donald Trump for the first 24 minutes. We haven't mentioned a single other candidate, a single other issue other than what Donald Trump did today, what he did two weeks ago.

KING: I did ask Sunlen what Ted Cruz said about Donald Trump.

NAVARRO: And we are waiting for Hillary Clinton to call in.

COOPER: But it's a fair point. I mean, he has set the agenda, you know, from almost the moment he entered the case.

NAVARRO: And there is a man named John Kasich who is also running for Republican nomination.


COOPER: Thanks to you all.

There is a lot more to talk about over the next hour and a half.

Just ahead, will Donald Trump backed off his remarks on abortion today. He did double down what he says this video shows and also does not show. He says it proves his campaign manager's innocent of battery charges. We will break down the video frame by frame. We will also talk to Corey Lewandowski's attorney.


[20:29:00] COOPER: We have been talking about Donald Trump's 180 today, reversing himself in a matter of hours on whether women who get abortion should be punished if abortions are outlawed in the United States.

In another controversy, though, he is not badging it in, speaking in, defending his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski despite the video that appears to show what both men have denied happed. Florida police released it after charging Mr. Lewandowski with simple battery.

Now here's what Donald Trump said today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: How many thought it looked terrible what he did? To me, he was breaking it up. She's grabbing me, grabbing. Did anybody think it was really terrible? I mean, where he should be fired? Did anybody think it was a horrible thing what happened? I don't get it. So she said, this is the exact quote. I was jolted backwards. Someone grabbed me tightly by the arm and I yanked down. She didn't go down. I almost fell to the ground. He didn't almost fall to the ground. And they put out a warrant. I mean, what kind of country are we in in destroy somebody to destroy somebody?


COOPER: Donald Trump made the same case last night during our town hall.

[20:30:00] When I asked him if he was going to fire Lewandowski. He says he's standing by him.

Tonight, Miguel Marquez breaks down that video of the incident frame by frame.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The video only nine seconds long shows former Brietbart reporter, Michelle Fields approached Trump after his press conference on March 8th at 9:57 p.m. Audio from Fields's tape recorder obtained by Politico played alongside the video lays out the sequence of events.

MICHELLE FIELDS, POLITICAL JOURNALIST: Mr. Trump, you went after the late Scalia for affirmative action. Do you still -- are you still against affirmative action?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, thank you.

MARQUEZ: Frame by frame you see Fields approached Trump. For two seconds, Trump greets others, clearly not responding to Fields's questions. One second later, Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski intercepts Fields. You can see him reaching for her.

A second after that, he appears to have his left hand on her left arm. Two seconds later, he pushes past her. A C-SPAN camera from a different angle shows Trump passed by. You can see Fields wearing white and see Lewandowski's back. He appears to lunge towards Fields.

Fields on her own audio tape is heard complaining about the treatment to "Washington Post" Reporter Ben Terris who witnessed the incident.

FIELDS: I can't believe he just did that, that was so hard. Was that Corey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, like, what threat were you?

FIELDS: That was insane. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

FIELDS: You should have felt how hard he grabbed me.

MARQUEZ: On March 10th, Donald Trump had this to say about the alleged incident.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was in my opinion, made up. Now, I didn't see anything. All of a sudden, we heard about it later on.

MARQUEZ: Then last night, the story changed.

TRUMP: And all of a sudden, she bolts into the picture. She grabs me or hits me on the arm. In fact, I'm like this with my arm up. And then he goes by and I'm -- I mean maybe he touched her a little bit.

MARQUEZ: A Trump spokesperson has twice called the allegation entirely false adding that not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident. But the incident was captured on surveillance video from Trump's own national golf club.

When Lewandowski by a Tweeter called Fields an attention-seeker, she responded to both Lewandowski and Trump with this picture, bruises on her arm.

On March 11th, Lewandowski tweeted to Fields, "You are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact I have never even met you." A short time later, Fields filed a complaint with the Jupiter Florida Police Department setting off an investigation and another political storm.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.


COOPER: As we said Florida police have charged Lewandowski with simple battery which is a misdemeanor. He turned himself in yesterday morning, was issued a court date in May.

I spoke with his attorney, Bradford Cohen just before air.


COOPER: So, Mr. Cohen, where is your client on this? Because I know a couple of days after this incident, he tweeted out that this woman is delusional. That he never met her and never touched her. I saw an interview you did last night, I think on MSNBC, in which you said he did brush by her, but seemed to imply that there was no actual kind of real contact. You do acknowledge he grabbed her, don't you?

BRAD COHEN, ATTORNEY FOR COREY LEWANDOWSKI: I acknowledge that there was definitely contact. I don't know where the contact occurred. Obviously, she says that the contact occurred on her lower forearm. It appears to me that if there was any contact in terms of the video, it looks like maybe her upper shoulder but I can't even be clear on it because it's very inconclusive to me the video. That's number one.

The second issue that you discussed about him tweeting out the next day or day after that it's delusional and I've never met you, really the issue behind that is, is -- this was a nonissue to Corey. This was something that occurred very quickly. He didn't think anything about it. So when someone tweets the next day or someone discusses the next day, I was almost brought down to the ground, he obviously says, "That's impossible. I don't even know who this lady is."

COOPER: It does seem like the contact though, I mean, just from this video, it does seems like he has her and is able to stop her in her tracks. I mean, it does seem like he wield her around, doesn't it, in that video right here that we're showing?

COHEN: To me, it appears that he is stopping her or redirecting her from getting closer to Mr. Trump. And if you look -- Mr. Trump actually tweeted a picture where he is wincing away from this woman who's trying to grab his arm. And at that very moment, you see Corey who is coming in between him and Ms. Fields.

So in Florida and in most states, an absolute defense is a defense of another. And Corey is a trained police officer. He is no longer a police officer, but he was a police officer. And he was with New Hampshire Police for four years, I believe.

[20:35:02] He went to the Police Academy. He can see when someone is turning away or wincing away, he recognizes that.

And if you look at the still photo that Mr. Trump posted, you can see very clearly, Corey's eyes are focused on where her hands are, and Mr. Trump is looking down to see why she's grabbing his arm.

COOPER: So there's a couple of things, because last night, you were saying that he just brushed by her, but now, you are changing your perception on this video to at least say that he did have contact with her and was able to stop her or turn her around, correct?

COHEN: Certainly there's contact there. I would never change a story completely in terms of watching this video. I've watched it probably 150 to 200 times. It does appear that he gets in between her and Mr. Trump and redirects her away from Mr. Trump.

COOPER: So you've said now that he was a police officer. I know yesterday, you said he was a New Hampshire State Trooper. I mean we checked ...

COHEN: Correct.

COOPER: ... he was part of the Marine Patrol Unit, I think over the course of several summers in New Hampshire and went to a part-time Police Academy, I think for like 100 hours of training, correct?

COHEN: Yes, he attended a Police Academy. Correct.

COOPER: OK. It was part-time academy. And are you implying by bringing that up that Corey Lewandowski feared for Donald Trump? COHEN: I believe that Corey Lewandowski acted in all good faith in redirecting Ms. Fields away from Mr. Trump.

COOPER: And the bruise -- the photo that Ms. Fields has tweeted out in which you see bruises on her arm, I guess police officer interviewed her and the police report says "Bruising from what appeared to be several finger marks indicating a grabbing-type injury." How do you explain that?

COHEN: I don't. I have no idea how those bruises occurred. And I think you'll agree with me, even looking at that tape in the worst case scenario, there -- it does not appear to show what she is asserting, that someone grabbed her by the -- or that Corey grabbed her by the wrist or by the forearm, even in the best case scenario, it's not showing that. So I don't know how those ...

COOPER: So you think she may have ...

COHEN: ... marks occurred.

COOPER: You may have -- do you think she may have either staged that or believed that occurred somewhere else in some other kind of incident?

COHEN: I don't want to assume anything. I have no idea how they occurred but I don't believe that it occurred from the actions on that video.

COOPER: All right. Brad Cohen, its good to talk to you. Thanks for being with us.

COHEN: Thank for having me, Anderson.


COOPER: Just ahead, Donald Trump on the fire from a female conservative, 16 Republican women who work in media have published an open letter calling for him to fire his campaign manager. More on that ahead.


[20:41:32] COOPER: Seems fair to say that Donald Trump has not done himself any favor -- over the last 24 hour -- women nationally were already low before tonight's breaking news. And Mr. Trump advocated punishment for women who get abortions if abortions are banned.

Through, he reversed himself in short order, too important to point out. But his flip-flop came as he doubled down on defending his campaign manager who's facing battery charges after allegedly grabbing a female reporter's arm as we showed you just before the break.

Now, in an open letter today, calling for Trump to fire Lewandowski, 16 conservative women who work in media wrote, "The press is to have an adversarial, yet civil approach to those in, or running, for elected office. Never in this line of work is it acceptable to respond to reasonable and legitimate questioning with use of physical force."

There's a lot to discuss. Joining me again is Amanda Carpenter and Ana Navarro, also CNN Political Commentators Tara Setmayer and Kayleigh McEnany. Tara's the former Communication Director for Representative Dana Rohrabacher. Kayleigh is a Conservative Columnist and a Trump supporter.

Does this matter? I mean, is this, I mean, among Trump supporters, a lot of them were saying, "Look," I mean, this was a, you know, a scrum, it's a chaotic scene. OK. He touched her, but does it really amount to a crime?

CARPENTER: Well, I don't know. I mean, the court will decide that's going to go through all that. But, conservative women as evidenced by this letter are horrified to see what happened to Michelle Fields. I mean, look at what Corey said immediately after this, "She is delusional. I never touched her."

His own lawyer just acknowledged to you tonight on the air that there was a touch. Corey did lie. This woman was smeared for days and days by a presidential campaign. She has suffered. She had to walk away from her job because her editors would not support her.

And so, we all see this going on, and you have to stand up to it. And so, I don't know if it'll hurt Donald Trump, but I get that feeling he's being boiled like a frog in water. He's being hurt by degrees. And there won't be a moment when it happens, but we're going to look at all of this and say, "Wow, he's cooked."


NAVARRO: Look, it's going to -- it's not going to hurt him with his core supporters. For them, he walks on water. He's a quasi deity. He can do absolutely ...

COOPER: Because he's been trying to turn in into a positive, saying, "Look, I stand by my people. I don't ...

NAVAROO: "I'm loyal."

COOPER: I'm loyal.'' Right, exactly.

NAVAROO: "I'm going to be loyal for the country." And, you know, in truth, you know what, in law school, there's something called the "Reasonable Person Standard" When you're going through law school, the first thing you learn as the one else do it.

A "Reasonable Person" would have called Michelle Fields the next day and went to have said, "You know what, I'm sorry, things got out of hand, you know, those scrums, those spin rooms can get crazy, and it just got out of control. I'm sorry about that." She probably would not have filed charges had that happened.

But because we're not dealing with reasonable people, a mole hill has been turned into a mountain. This has escalated now into a level where we've been talking about it for days where there are arrests made, where there's going to be court hearings in the midst of a presidential race, and we're talking about this instead of talking about the very important policies.

COOPER: Kayleigh, in this letter, what do you -- or I mean, do you believe these women are right that Lewandowski should resign?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I find it interesting because the women who signed this letter are journalists. And one of the highest journalist's ethics, one of the highest principles of our criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. That is afforded to the worst of terrorist, the worst of criminals, the worst of rapist. But it appears if you work for the Trump campaign, it's the opposite, it's the presumption of guilt, it's guilty until proven innocent.

The fact is, there are two varying accounts of what happens.

[20:45:00] The "Daily Mail" has allegedly been contacted by an anonymous Secret Service agent on Trump's detail who says that this reporter was instructed twice not to cross this line, not to come towards Mr. Trump and touch him as the picture shows that she did.

So, I tell you that story not to say that it's the correct one necessarily. I'll tell you that story to show that there are two accounts of what happens and it is unfair both from a journalistic standard to presume that Mr. Lewandowski is guilty and it's unfair from a criminal justice standard. And I'm quite frankly ashamed that women would -- who are journalists would go out and presume this man guilty in the court of public opinion.

COOPER: Let me just point out, the Secret Service for, you know, on the record says they don't comment on anything like this and "The Daily Mail". Is "The Daily Mail" wants to take that into consideration, Tara?

TARA STEMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I find it astonishing that this is the first time I've heard Kayleigh say the word "Ashamed'". But its not -- she's ashamed of women standing up for another woman who was assaulted by the campaign manager of her candidate. That this is the first time you're ashamed?

MCENANY: You don't know that ...

STEMAYE: You're not ashamed that ...

MCENANY: You don't know that and it is unfair ...

SETMAYER: You're not ashamed to fact that Donald Trump ...

MCENANY: You don't do that.

SETMAYER: ... has called women fat pigs? You're not ashamed to the fact that Donald Trump decided -- he said he was going to pay for the legal fees of someone who assaulted a protester? You aren't ashamed of the fact that Donald Trump can never apologize for anything?

MCENANY: I said I don't like those things, Tara. I said I don't like those things. You can't put words to my mouth.

SETMAYER: But you didn't use the word ashamed. You should be ashamed of those things. But you're ashamed of women standing up ...

MCENANY: I have said I don't like those things.

SETMAYER: ... in women in journalism, standing up with someone else in a situation that a person running for president should have absolutely no involvement in whatsoever. This should have been handled over with done, but he has an inability to apologize.

COOPER: OK. Let Kayleigh respond, let Kayleigh respond. Kayleigh? I want you to be able to respond.

MCENANY: No. I have said many times, Tara, it's disingenuous to say that I have not this on those things on this very network.

SETMAYER: Ashamed.

MCENANY: I said it was inappropriate for Donald Trump to retweet that picture of Heidi Cruz. However, you just said a man who is guilty of assault.

Tara, do you know that you are defaming someone. You could actually be brought into court for alleging that he did something that he did not do.

SETMAYER: Uh-oh, am I going to get sued now by Donald Trump?

MCENANY: So, Tara -- no, you're not, Tara, but I would watch your words because that's a violation of the highest principle of journalism. It's a violation ...

SETMAYER: Are you kidding me? Are you serious right now, Kayleigh?

MCENANY: ... of our criminal system to presume ...


MCENANY: ... someone guilty on T.V. when there are two varying accounts, Tara. You need to be careful.


COOPER: One at a time, one at time, one at a time. OK, Tara, go ahead.

SETMAYER: So you're not concerned about Donald Trump's words when he lies in one sentence. He says one thing and then says something else. You're not concerned about Donald Trump when he says that women should be punished for having abortion and then changes his mind three times later, you know, after two hours when he got in trouble for it because it's disingenuous ...

MCENANY: I haven't been asked about that, so don't put words into my mouth when I haven't been asked about that ... SETMAYER: Because you consistently defending -- indefensible with Donald Trump, and you're doing it again today ...

MCENANY: No, I don't.

SETMAYER: ... when this is about common decency.

MCENANY: I just point out few things that I did it.

SETMAYER: It's about common decency, Ashley, I mean, Kayleigh.

MCENANY: Tara, Tara, please stop, because you're putting words into my mouth.

COOPER: Let's just take -- I'm sorry, Kayleigh finish the thought and then we're going to take a break.

MCENANY: I'm tired of people putting words into my mouth, Tara. I'm tired of you saying that I said something about his abortion comments when I haven't been asked about that. You need to stop generalizing about things I've not commented on. Please go check the record. Someone fact check this media. Please, go fact checked this. I've not commented on this subject and words were just put into my mouth.

SETMAYER: Well, maybe you should, maybe you should.

COOPER: OK. We're going to take -- just take a breath, we're going to take a break. We're going to continue the conversation when we come back.

We'll be right back. We'll be right back.


[20:52:04] COOPER: Well, picking up our conversation before the break on Donald Trump and women. A quick reminder, Hillary Clinton will be calling in shortly to the broadcast and the topic.

Meanwhile, back with our panel. Kayleigh, let's talk about Donald Trump on his comments about abortion today and then his reversal on that. What do you make of that? What do you make of the reversal, the quickness of it and any damage this may do to him?

MCENANY: Look, you know, he was in an interview with Chris Matthews. He was being peppered with questions. It's no secret to anyone that Chris Matthews is not a friend to the conservative cause or to Donald Trump's cause. But, you know, nonetheless, Donald Trump chose to go on his airwaves, to go on his platform and he was being peppered with the same question over and over and over. He kept answering it and then he made a mistake and he said that women should be punished and quickly came out and clarified it.

And the reality is, when you are someone who has made yourself more available to media than any candidate in modern presidential history, Donald Trump is on the airwaves every single day. He spent 100 minutes with "The New York Times." He has done this repeatedly. Hillary Clinton, most of the other candidates have not made themselves available to certain networks, have shied away from it. You said to Ted Cruz last night, you've asked him several times to come on ...

COPPER: Right.

MCENANY: ... he wouldn't come on in your program. Donald Trump puts himself out there. By virtue of being out there, you're going to make mistakes. It's called being human.

COOPER: I just ...

MCENANY: What matters ...

COOPER: My question though ...

MCENANY: ... is what he said and what his policy is.

COOPER: That's my question, though, you said he made a mistake, d you think he made a mistake in that he misspoke what he actually believed or do you think he hadn't really thought about it and that's what he believed in and then afterward, you know, people in the campaign came to him and said, "Look, here's a number of reasons why that's not a statement you want to be making,'' and then came out with a different statement? Which do you think it is?

MCENANY: I think he misspoke. I think he misspoke and I think he came out quickly and clarified it. I think he has strong pro-life views. He has strong policy views. He has a well developed policy on this. And I think he misspoke and came out and clarified.

NAVARRO: It'd be nice if he said he misspoke. It'd be nice if he said he made a mistake. You know, I think somebody needs to explain to Donald Trump, and it's, you know, his way of doing things has worked for him until now. But that admitting that you're human, that you make mistakes, asking for forgiveness, expressing regret, it happens to everybody. It happens to everybody. You say things that you don't mean.

I was impressed by how quickly he rectified but, you know, what he said was absolutely absurd. I mean, this is not the 1800s. We are not in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter". How do you punish women for getting an abortion? I just thought that this thing that was uttered from him was just so ridiculous and absurd that he really, at some point, should say, "You know what, I made a mistake."

CARPENTER: Yeah. But here's what happened, he got played by Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews made up what he thought would be the most extreme conservative position saying, you know, suggesting women be jailed for having an abortion and Donald Trump kind of thought about it because he didn't actually know what the conservative position would be. He went along with it. He got played by Chris Matthews because he had no idea what he really thought about the matter.

[20:55:00] BORGER: He got played. I think Chris Matthews guest him and a natural follow-up question.

CARPENTER: I mean, it was fair game. I'm not saying that ...

BORGER: Totally fair game. I think the thing that we were watching was Donald Trump trying to appeal to conservative voters ...


BORGER: ... very ironic, you know, and or pander if you want to use that word. And when you're trying to pander to a group of voters who ought to know what they want and what their position is. And what he didn't know is, yes, they're pro-life and, you know, he's against abortion. But he didn't know -- he didn't take it to the next step because these are not deeply held, deeply thought out views of his.

NAVARRO: That's right.

BORGER: On the economy, maybe, on trade, maybe, but not on social issues.

COOPER: We have to take a quick break. In the next hour, of "360", Hillary Clinton is going to be joining us. I'll get her take on Donald Trump's shifting abortion comments.

Plus, more moments from the "360" GOP town hall that still have people talking from John Kasich, Ted Cruz and of course, Trump.

The flip-fops, the Cruz/Trump's spouse battle and Mr. Trump's justification of his role in it, which maybe familiar if you're the parent of the young child that how old is this playing with voters in Wisconsin, when we continue.


COOPER: Good evening from CNN election headquarters in Washington. What could be a pivotal moment in the race for the White House?

A new poll signaling trouble for Donald Trump for the next battle ground, Wisconsin.

Headaches for Hillary Clinton, a renewed defense by Trump of his campaign manager, who's now facing a battery charge.

[21:00:00] And outcry over remarks by Trump about criminalizing abortion and penalizing women who obtain them, remarks of the campaign quickly trying to throw them down the memory holes just a few hours after they touched off the storm.

We're expected to be joined on the subject momentarily by the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.