Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.S. Drops Its Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb on ISIS; Sources: British Intel Passed Trump Associates' Communications with Russians on to U.S. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 13, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Tonight, American forces dropping the largest nonnuclear bomb in the arsenal on an ISIS target in Afghanistan. And the president's aide left it unclear whether he directly authorized it. Whether he did and whether that's significant are not the only questions.
We've had this weapon since the George W. Bush administration. It has never been used in combat. So, why now? How does this massive bomb actually work? And what does the use of it suggest about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan nearly 16 years since Americans went to war there?
In a moment, our panel of military, intelligence and counterterrorism professionals, but first, CNN's Barbara Starr joins us from Pentagon with the latest.
So, what have you learned, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.
We now know that this mission had been planned by the U.S. military over the last several weeks. They were looking at a target in Eastern Afghanistan, remote mountainous valley area. There was a complex of ISIS used tunnels and caves.
It was so remote they feel fairly sure they say that there were no civilians around. So, it seemed like the right target. There are about 400 to 800 ISIS across eastern Afghanistan. They've been trying to go after them for some time now.
So, the mission was planned. It was executed. They will now do the damage assessment. They will fly over the target.
They're going to have to determine that there were no civilian casualties. They say they don't think so. Still to be determined.
They'll have to find out if the bomb worked as planned because they've never used it in combat. This is a bomb that is so huge, 21,000-plus pounds. It's basically shoved out the back of a cargo plane at a very high altitude. And it detonates over the target. It doesn't penetrate into the
ground. People are killed, injured. The targets are destroyed by the concussive air blast of the weapon detonating. And they had never until now found a target they felt they could use it against -- Anderson.
COOPER: And specifically what do we know about the decision making that led to this and any involvement if there was by the president?
STARR: Well, we know that the commander in Afghanistan had had this weapon in the country for some weeks. We know he had authority to use it. We know that he briefed the mission up and down the chain of command.
So, when President Trump was asked today at the White House whether he authorized it, he was very cryptic about that. He said that he has authorized the military to do -- pretty much paraphrasing him -- whatever is needed.
Does that mean the military has free rein? No. It does not. It means the president may not have to authorize specifically each mission. He delegates authority.
But, look, on something this big, I hardly think the Pentagon -- pardon me, I hardly think the White House, the National Security Council wanted the president to find out about it on cable news.
COOPER: Barbara Starr, thanks very much.
More now not just on the bomb used, but also the target hit and the significance of it all. Here to talk about it, two retired generals, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Major General Spider Marks. Also with us, CNN's Dana Bash and Peter Bergen.
General Hertling, I mean, the fact that they used this most powerful non-nuclear bomb for the mission, what does it tell you?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Couple of things, Anderson. First of all, this is a tactical weapon. I can't emphasize that enough. This is not a strategic system. This is something that is used for a specific purpose.
As -- I'm going to channel my former combat commander role and tell you, whenever you have these targets you consult or your have your targeteers consult something called the JMEMs, the Joint Munitions Employment Manual. It's actually a book that says if this is what the target looks like, here are the kind of weapon systems you use.
The reason we haven't used this bomb since 2003, and there was a predecessor to this, something called the Daisy Cutter, because this bomb was actually designed in 2003 for an Iraq war fight. And then it was eventually used later on in this particular fight because it met all the criteria -- open space, tunnels and complexes, exploding devices, the IEDs that were used as part of this defensive position.
So, I think Mick Nicholson, the commander in Afghanistan, said, boy, I've got this kind of target. What kind of bomb can I hit it with? He probably said that a few weeks ago. His targeteers came back and said, "Let's use a MOAB." And that's what he did.
It took a while to do it. It seemed strategic. And a lot of people are calling it that. But it's not.
It's something that the commander of the scene knows. But he did certainly brief his boss, General Votel, and I'm sure folks this the Pentagon knew about it.
COOPER: General Marks, what does it tell you about the target itself? I mean, to actually go into I assume these tunnels would be a great danger to anybody who was doing that. I mean, to actually have people on the ground in that area.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Yes, certainly. The use of this weapons system was probably as Mark described the absolute correct weapons system for this target.
The target was obviously very large. It had a large kind of a collection of ISIS fighters.
[20:05:04] It was a known location. It was probably actionable intelligence. In other words, if we didn't -- if General Nicholson had not acted on it then, it probably might have been diminishing in terms of the possibility of a good kill, if you will.
It was the nexus. It was probably a known historical travel route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So, the combination of all these factors to include the collateral damage assessment that was done, which was obviously very, very low, it became the right weapons system to use.
If you had gone after this target with conventional forces -- first of all, it probably would have taken conventional forces, not simply special operations because of the large size of it, you would have put a lot of soldiers at risk. It would have been a far more complex operation. You would have had casualties as a result of it.
This really made a lot of sense to go after this target at this moment.
COOPER: And, General Hertling, if the president didn't know about it in advance, didn't sign off on it, didn't need to sign off on it, is that normal protocol?
HERTLING: In this case, yes, because it is a tactical weapon. I mean, you don't have the president signing off on everything you do in a combat situation, or at least you shouldn't. But you should have information flow to his national security adviser. And I'm sure that also happened through the secretary of defense.
HERTLING: You know, Anderson, I'll reinforce what spider just said. I actually had a target in Iraq that we wanted to use a MOAB on. And when the targeteers said, let's do the MEMs on it, they found out they couldn't because there were too many close local cities.
So, we went with more conventional smaller weapons, 2,000-pound bombs. Now, you know, the MOAB is 21,000 pounds -- 2,000 pound bombs, you just have to use more of them and use more airplanes to deliver them. And that gets dangerous as well.
COOPER: Dana, it's interesting this comes on the heel of the missile strike in Syria, obviously, just a week apart. I mean, obviously, different conflict, different types of devices.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Very different in both ways and also very different when it comes to what the president said he would do as a candidate and is doing now as president.
When it comes to this particular mission today, the target was ISIS. We know what he said. Probably one of his most famous lines from the campaign that he would bomb the you-know-what out of ISIS. Well, that's what at least he tried to do today. His Pentagon and his military brass tried to do that in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
That's very different from the strikes that we saw late last week on Syria, which is something that he vowed he would never do and really criticized and went after not just President Obama, but then-candidate Hillary Clinton for even being too hawkish, vis-a-vis Assad and Syria, saying it's not where we belong and so on and so forth.
On that, it's a complete change. The fact that he aggressively launched strikes after he saw the pictures of the chemical weapons attacks, especially on children.
COOPER: Peter, when most people think where ISIS has strongholds, they typically think Iraq, not necessarily Afghanistan. Talk about the presence they have there right now.
PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR, "UNITED STATES OF JIHAD": Well, I mean, I don't think it's, you know, hugely significant. But it may grow larger as people leave Iraq and Syria. It's quite possible they might return to the Afghan-Pakistan region.
You know, ISIS, there are a number of Taliban groups that have slapped on the ISIS patch and proclaimed themselves something they call ISIS in Khorasan, which is an ancient word for the Afghan region. You know, they're there but not as significant as the Taliban which now controls or contest a third of the Afghanistan population and really at the highest point I think that we've seen since the fall of the Taliban in December of 2001.
So, ISIS is just one of the many, by the way, jihadi groups in Afghanistan right now, including al Qaeda, the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan and many others. So, I wouldn't say they're hugely important.
The real issue is the fact that the Taliban have taken -- you're in Helmand in 2009, Anderson. You'll recall the Sangin district which was fought by the marines, the British marines and the American marines with a lot of deaths has now been retaken by the Taliban and that's quite a significant victory. Unfortunately, one of many the Taliban have had in recent months.
COOPER: Yes. General Marks, this is really a reminder to a lot of people who maybe haven't paid attention to Afghanistan. And we didn't hear a lot about Afghanistan frankly during the presidential campaign that the war is still very much going on. And in fact, you know, as Peter was just saying, areas that the Marines had fought for and bled for, in some cases have been retaken.
MARKS: Yes, guilty as charged. The United States had an amazing victory early on in the war in Afghanistan. And we diverted our attention into Iraq. We really as a nation have a capability to prosecute what I would say two separate campaigns within a war. And we simply were moving resources around.
[20:10:00] And we lost sight of the ball, if you'll allow me that expression. This is really -- you know, General Nicholson is the longest serving commander in country. I mean, this is an issue that he has embraced that the United States must get its arms around. The Afghan military has to increase its professionalism and we can ill- afford to establish timelines and declare when we're going to depart. We have to do that based on our assessment of the conditions.
That's where we are right now. And I think contributing factor with General Nicholson was, look, this makes the use of this MOAB makes perfect sense here, and it relieves some pressure from the Afghanistan military.
I want to thank everybody on the panel. Just ahead tonight, the people who helped put the president in the White House, and the extent of their contact with Russians. It wasn't just U.S. intelligence that picked up their communications we're learning. We have new details on that.
And later, Glenn Beck joins us to talk about signs the president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, may be on the outs.
COOPER: A new piece of the Russia Trump picture tonight. More information on communications between Trump associates during the campaign and Russians, specifically Russian officials and others known to U.S. intelligence.
Now, this builds on the story that our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto and others here in the network first broke. And it suggests more ears picked up early on signs of contact with Moscow.
Jim Sciutto joins us with more.
[20:15:01] So, what have you been learning, Jim? JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what
we're hearing is British intelligence and other Western European intelligence agencies like U.S. intelligence were picking up conversations between Russian officials, other Russians known to Western intelligence, and Trump associates, advisers to his campaign.
It's significant because more than one intelligence agency was documenting these conversations and feeling the need to then share it with U.S. intelligence which gives it some significance there.
Now, one thing I should note, this is incidental collection. These agencies were not targeting Trump's advisers or campaign. You're aware, Anderson, that Donald Trump accused Obama of using British intelligence to spy on him. That's not what happened here. They were targeting Russians, Russian officials and others. And as they were doing that, they picked up conversations between those Russians and people advising the Trump campaign.
COOPER: So, what do you know about comments Carter Page made earlier today? Because -- I mean, Carter Page has made a lot of sort of ambiguous and sometimes conflicting comments. It seems like today as well.
SCIUTTO: Yes, absolutely. I mean, at best confusing and at worse, conflicting and potentially troublesome for him. So, when he spoke to our Jake Tapper yesterday, Jake asked him, did you as you were meeting with these Russian, did you bring up the idea of easing sanctions, for instance?
And keep in mind, he was advising the Trump campaign. Trump identified him as a foreign policy adviser to Jake Tapper. He said, no, that didn't come up in the conversations. To ABC News this morning when pressed, he said, well, I don't really know for sure.
And that is a problem making these public comments without any sort of clarity. And we know that he is being investigated for these meetings because there was a FISA warrant reportedly out on him for some of these meetings.
COOPER: There were also comments made by CIA Director Mike Pompeo about WikiLeaks today, which are in stark contrast to what candidate Donald Trump said on the trail.
SCIUTTO: It's pretty remarkable. I know, Anderson, there is so much going on right that it's almost hard to keep track of some of this.
But remember, Donald Trump more than once during the campaign praised WikiLeaks. Famous in October just a month before the election, he said, "I love WikiLeaks." He encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails, et cetera, repeatedly via Twitter and in his public comments.
Now, the CIA director that he appointed in really his first public comments since taking that job comes out and says WikiLeaks is not just an annoying actor, he said they are a bad non-state actor that works with Russia against U.S. interests. That's a remarkable contrast between what the future president said during the campaign and what the director of the CIA is saying now.
COOPER: It would be interesting to hear what the president thinks about that now.
Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Joining us now is former CIA and FBI senior official, Paul Mudd, and Steve Hall, who oversaw Russian operations at the CIA, is a member of the agency's senior intelligence service.
Steve, I mean, in terms of how the intelligence was collected by the British, does it -- does it make sense to you that they would have had incidental interception of communications between Trump officials -- or Trump associates and Russian officials?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA SENIOR OFFICER, RUSSIA EXPERT: Sure, Anderson. It's not an uncommon event. The Brits and our other allied partners will be trying to monitor what the Russians are up to in their own countries. And just like in the United States, in the process of that legal collection against an adversarial country like Russia, you will get occasionally incidental collection, in this case apparently to Jim Sciutto's reporting, excellent stuff, against an American. And then the process is, of course, that due to our cooperation with our Five Eyes allies, that information will be passed usually to the U.S. government, usually to the FBI who, of course, has the mandate for U.S. persons and American citizens, not CIA or FBI. So -- I mean, or NSA.
So, yes, this is not an uncommon thing. And I would expect and hope that our Five Eyes allies would be monitoring what the Russians are doing and this incidental collection happens on occasion.
COOPER: And, Phil, the Brits made the Americans aware of this apparently back in 2015. What would have American intelligence agencies have done with the information?
PHIL MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: This is pretty straight forward. I can't wait to watch the fairytale that is spun by politicians over the next day about some huge conspiracy.
Let me tell you about what happens here. This is about burden-sharing that's been going on for decades. Huge volumes of data out there, Anderson. The United States collects some streams of data on, for example, Russians. The Brits can collect others.
It's not as if the British would have looked at this and let me cherry-pick the Trump stuff. They simply say, you give us your Russian stuff, we give you our Russian stuff. It's burden-sharing. It's been going on for years.
Once it gets to the U.S. side, the American side, the National Security Agency will look at it and determine if there is intelligence of value in this.
[20:20:01] And now, the FBI has got to be saying, yes, there is. If we have an investigation on people who are showing up in these intercepts, we want to know. That's what would have happened here, Anderson.
COOPER: So, Steve, when Sean Spicer cited, I was going to say, a FOX News report, but it was really a judge Andrew Napolitano report that FOX News then back away from, that alleged President Obama used the British intelligence, excuse me, intelligence agency, GCHQ, to spy on Trump, does any of this new information in any way support that claim?
HALL: Let me echo exactly what Phil was saying. Here is what didn't happen, and here's what I would have great difficulty imagining happened. Any administration in the United States, reaching out to one of our foreign allies, and, of course, the Brits are very close to them, but nevertheless it is a foreign government and saying, hey, I have a political adversary, or, you know, a political party that is running against me, I'd like you to collect against those Americans and then pass us that information on.
That's just not going to happen. And so, you know, the stuff that Spicer and others might come up with in terms of, oh, GCHQ or other of our allies, you know, some administration of the Obama administration went outside the chain of command and asked a foreign intelligence service to spy against an American citizen? I mean, come on. That's just not serious.
COOPER: Phil, you know, we can't quite get a straight answer out of Carter Page and whether or not he discussed the easing of U.S. sanctions with the Russians when he was there last year. If it didn't happen, I would think he'd be able to say it didn't happen. When you see his comments, what do you think?
MUDD: The first thing I think is he ought to send me a check for ten grand because I'm going give him the best advice he has ever gotten. Get off the air.
Let me tell you what happens in this situation, Anderson. There are three key parties here. The FBI conducts the investigation. In this case, a counterintelligence investigation on Russia and American citizens, including apparently Carter Page crop up.
For the FBI to go up -- what we call go up on a wire, listen to someone's phone and e-mail is a serious invasion of privacy. They walk across the street, Pennsylvania Avenue, to the lawyers at the Department of Justice who have to say, do we believe there is enough legal cause to put together what they call a package, a package to persuade a judge. We should listen to Carter Page's phone. Party two, the Department of Justice. Party three is a federal judge.
A federal judge looks at this and says, you've got to be kidding me. You want me to go up on a political operative involved in an ongoing American presidential election? This better be darned good.
Carter Page is trying to blow this off. As someone who watched this process, they didn't go up on him unless they had some fire. This is going to go ugly.
COOPER: Steve, we also learned this week that the FBI had gotten a FISA warrant to monitor carter page as part of this ongoing investigation into collusion with the Russia and the Trump campaign. Page wouldn't say whether the FBI had interviewed him yet.
Does it make sense they would have? I mean -- and if so, how would that go? How does that work?
HALL: That was probably about the only thing I think from what I saw that Carter Page said on the air that he probably got right when he demurred from talking about any ongoing investigation. So, I think you got the take Phil up on his after and pay that ten grand.
To me, the whole Carter Page thing is -- it bears all the hallmarks of a classical Russian espionage operation. They've identified somebody that looks like he could eventually be in a circle of power, you know, perhaps close to a president at some point. They started this process years ago, taking a look at him, seeing if he is the right kind of person to be essentially a spy for Russia. That's not to say that he accepted that proposal or that it even went very far.
But I can tell you, it looks an awful lot like all the Russian operations I've seen targeting American citizens who might eventually be in positions of power.
COOPER: It's interesting, because Carter Page one of the things that he says is look, I gave some documents to a guy who later maybe turned out to be a spy. But they were innocuous documents. They were all sort of things anybody could have gotten. But isn't that sort of how it begins?
HALL: Oh, yeah. The Russians -- this is -- the Russians are expert at this, right? You start saying, hey, give me something that is not sensitive. Give me some lecture that you have given, some newspaper article that you've written, some thought piece. And then, of course, you establish the idea of, yes, he is passing me some information. Perhaps that information can then become a little more sensitive and a little more sensitive.
And this is -- this is just how the Russians play the game. And they're very, very good at it.
Steve Hall, thank you. Phil Mudd, as well.
Just ahead, CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord responds to heat he's taking for calling President Trump the Martin Luther King of health care, and comparing cutting payments to reduce health care costs for the poor to the civil rights' leaders -- to the marches that Dr. King led.
[20:28:31] COOPER: Democratic lawmakers make it clear they're ready to play HARDBALL over health care.
Today, they said they plan to tie federal payments to health insurance to the spending bill that Congress must pass to keep the government running beyond April 28th. These are the same payments that President Trump told "The Wall Street Journal" he may halt to force Democrats to negotiate a new health care bill.
The payments reduce out of pocket costs for millions of low income Americans who get insurance through Obamacare.
Now, earlier on CNN, Democratic activist Symone Sanders said that President Trump is using people, many of them sick, as bargaining chips. CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord responded by comparing President Trump, his actions, to Martin Luther King, Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to say something here that I know will probably drive Symone crazy. But think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of health care.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, Jeffrey, Jeffrey.
LORD: When I was a kid, President Kennedy did not want to introduce the civil rights bill because he said it wasn't popular, he didn't have the votes for it, et cetera. Dr. King kept putting people in the streets in harm's way to put the pressure on so the bill would be introduced. That's what finally worked.
SANDERS: Jeffrey, you do understand that -- you do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten, dogs were being sicced on them. Basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because of the color of their skin.
So, let's not equate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a humanitarian, a Nobel Piece Prize winner, to the vagina-grabbing President Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLPI)
COOPER: Those remarks, not surprising, have been getting a lot of attention. Jeffrey Lord is here to talk more about it, along with CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers.
All right. Jeff, I want to give you a chance to explain exactly what you meant by your earlier comments.
LORD: Sure. I wasn't comparing President Trump and Dr. King. Who, by the way, is later (ph) by hero when I was a kid. What I was doing was comparing their strategy, Dr. King, quite especially, and I knew this when I was talking about this on air this morning was talking about creating a crisis.
Let me read you the quick sentence here from his letter from a Birmingham jail, which I'm well familiar with. "Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such attention that a community, which is constantly refusing to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored." Donald Trump isn't taking to the streets, he has the power of the presidency, but clearly if he withholds payments from the insurance company which "Wall Street Journal" said would result in a meltdown, that's a crisis. So he's doing the same thing, creating the crisis to get to a negotiation. That's the point. Period.
COOPER: Bakari, does it make sense to you?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think it doesn't make sense to me. I think it's an affront to Dr. King's legacy. But what this is further emblematic of is that Donald Trump has ushered in this culture of anti-intellectualism and ignorance.
I think that the comparison that Jeffrey made is intellectually disingenuous at best. And what we saw him do was pervert one of the greatest pieces of literature that we've seen in a very long period of time in over a hundred years, the letter from the Birmingham jail.
The fact is, Donald trump is trying to bring Democrats to the table to gut a piece of legislation which has insured many and saved lives. If he is successful, people will die in rural hospitals like the one I used to represent will close.
Doctor King, for example, his end game was to get America to confront its racist past and give black citizens equality under the law. You cannot compare the two or juxtapose the two.
And further, I have a sincere problem with this because I think people often times think that in our political discourse, somehow ignorance can be cavalier. Well, my father actually marched with Dr. King, and many were beaten, and many were killed so I could sit here on this set here today. And the fact that someone can make this comparison, even someone who is a friend of mine shows just how low our political discourse has sunken.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, the notion that Dr. King is creating a crisis. I mean, I know you isolate that line from his writing. The crisis it seemed to me, existed long before Dr. King. The crisis was the treatment of black Americans, African-Americans in this country. It was not a crisis manufactured by Dr. King.
LORD: Right, right, exactly. And his letter was of course written in -- as a response to eight clergymen who were protesting as it were, his tactics, his strategy. So, it was in answer to that because he said he was not getting anywhere in response. And this is what had to be done.
And I may add on a personal note. My father lost both his job and later a business because he stood up for black Americans when we lived in the South in 1965. So with all due respect, I learned a great deal from that and I feel very passionate about it because my dad stood up and was there to be counted.
I guess, and again, Bakari, my friend Bakari is playing the game here of changing the subject. I didn't say that Pres. Trump was Dr. King, what I said was their strategy was the same. (CROSSTALK)
LORD: Strategy can be about anything.
SELLERS: Jeffrey, I'm not playing a game. I'm not using a race card. Excuse me, I'm a black American citizen who stands on the shoulders of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And the fact is --
LOR: I agree.
SELLERS: -- and the fact is, from February 1st, 1960, when the students at North Carolina anti-state university decided they were going to sit in and they started something that was amazing with the sit in movement, so people like Ella Baker, and Fannie Lou Hamer, to Henry Smith and Samuel Hahnemann, and (inaudible) Middleton and all the many heroes and sheroes that we lost along the way on this struggle, the fact that you want to compare Donald Trump who is trying to find -- to make some political promise.
LORD: You can't do that, all right?
SELLERS: To meet political promise.
LORD: I did not compare him.
SELLERS: To meet some political promise is astounding and it even more astoundingly absurd. The fact is this, Jeffrey, in our political discourse we have to remove these Hitler and Nazi comparisons, Donald Trump is not Martin Luther King Jr., we've taken this to a place where it doesn't need to be. And I hope you're empathetic enough to see how disrespectful this is.
COOPER: You know, Jeffrey, I just don't understand the intellectual idea, even -- in the comparison, again, the whole manufacturing a crisis thing I don't see how they're the same.
SELLERS: That's because they're not.
LORD: If you cause a major crisis in American society then the society and those people who are causing the crisis --
[20:35:07] COOPER: Or Dr. King did not --
SELLERS: Doctor King did not cause a crisis.
COOPER: Yeah. All right.
SELLERS: Doctor King did not cause a crisis. Tom Brokaw had an amazing documentary wrote in an amazing book called "Boom" 1968. In 1968, we lost three students on the campus of South Carolina State University in the Orangeburg Massacre.
In 1968, April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
In 1968, we lost Robert F. Kennedy to assassination. The fact that --
LORD: And I --
SELLERS: -- he did not create a crisis. The crisis was that America did not want to confront its racist past and did not want to cash that promissory note. And the fact is Dr. Martin Luther King stood up for all that, and you cannot whitewash that legacy or bashed it --
LORD: I am not.
SELLERS: -- on national TV --
LORD: All right.
SELLERS: Because it's offensive.
LORD: Bakari, I mean, you're making something up on a (inaudible). I am not whitewashing it. By the way, I stood in line for six hours to pass Robert Kennedy's casket, and touch the flag. I was 17 years old Bakari. I don't know if you were old enough to be there. I was there. I stood up in the South in 1965. My dad most importantly stood up.
So, I'm not going to sit here and let you conflate saying, I did not say Martin Luther King Jr. and Donald Trump were the same. I said the strategy, and anybody can use these strategies, anybody for any reason, good, bad or indifferent, can cause a major crisis that forces other side -- the other side to negotiate.
LORD: That is all I was saying. To deliberate misrepresent it is not worthy of you my friend.
SELLERS: Listen, Dr. King died nearly 20 years before I was born. I'm only 32 years old so I don't have the audacity to know absolutely everything. But what I can tell you, is this argument that you're making is fundamentally flawed. And this crisis that you're talking about creating, this is not some game to pass a piece of legislation. These crises that you're talking about creating it got four little girls blown up in a church. These crises got (inaudible). These crises got people assassinated, including back Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so how dare you Jeffrey utilize their lives and these crises to make political points.
LORD: Bakari, again, you're just totally misrepresenting me and all I'm saying is that Dr. King himself said there was a reason to do what he was doing which was to cause a crisis. He was quite deliberative about it. Quite deliberative and effective, and I was a teenager and I thought he was right on.
SELLERS: Totally right on.
LORD: 100 percent.
SELLERS: To put a button on how intellectually dishonest this is and how you're perverting his legacy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. actually said of all the forms of in equality or injustice, inequality and health is the most shocking and inhumane. So please understand Dr. Martin Luther King and all his context and to bring his name up on the eve of when we bombed on Syria, on the eve of when we dropped bombs at Afghanistan, this man who was a pacifist, this man who fought for peace, please, is beyond the pale, Jeffrey, and I just hope that you have empathy.
SELLERS: And I hope you have empathy so that we could understand this.
LORD: Bakari, what he was fighting against was a Democratic Party that was created as a culture of race from supporting slavery and segregation, those were Democrats he was fighting against, Bakari, those were Democrats.
COOPER: Bakar, I want to give you with the final thought then we got to go.
SELLERS: For me, Anderson, when I saw Jeffrey's clip this morning I was more than disappointed. But I realize that this is indicative of where our political discourse has gone. You hear from president's mount. You hear from Sean Spicer, you hear people -- even including Jeffrey Lord, rewriting history. And this is so, so fundamentally unjust. This is intellectually dishonest. This is an epidemic of anti-intellectualism. And even more importantly from somebody like Jeffrey, they need to know it's disrespectful, because people died so that I could sit here. And it's an affront, and I dare not let it go, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, we're going to leave you there.
LORD: I will not let it go either.
COOPER: Bakari Sellers, thank you very much.
Well, coming up, a week of huge flip-flop for the president. We'll take a look at what is behind them next.
[20:42:52] COOPER: I want to borrow from the late early (inaudible) about how liberals become neo-conservatives, the president is a presidential candidate who's been mugged by reality to some extent that mugging happens to every new president. However, none until now has entered office after saying so loudly and so often that the job would be so essentially easy, in fact, by his own admission the presidency has been more complicated than Pres. Trump imagined. The question is, does that reality explain some of his recent 180s on policy? More now from Dana Bash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of Donald Trump's many memorable lines on the campaign trail was about ISIS.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENT: I would bomb the shit out of them. I would just bomb those suckers.
BASH: Given that, launching the "Mother of all bombs" against an ISIS target makes a lot of sense.
TRUMP: We're very, very proud of our military.
BASH: Under normal circumstances, that consistency, a campaign vow with a high profile follow-through is standard, expected, but not with this president during this week where a slew of his decisions and pronouncements were completely at odds with what he told voters.
Trump in May 2016.
TRUMP: NATO is obsolete.
BASH: Trump this week.
TRUMP: I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete.
BASH: Again, Trump last May.
TRUMP: China, which has been ripping us off, the greatest abuser in the history of this country.
BASH: And Trump this week.
TRUMP: President Xi wants to do the right thing. We had a very good bonding.
BASH: During his campaign, Trump repeatedly slammed Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
TRUMP: She's obviously political and she's doing what Obama wants her to do.
BASH: This week, the president changed his tune, telling "The Wall Street Journal," I like her. I respect her.
Switching position is hardly new for Donald Trump. After all, not long before he ran as anti- abortion, anti-Obamacare Republican rights, he was supporter of abortion right and a universal health care system. In an interview early in his campaign he was unapologetic.
Do you think the answer is still a single-payer system?
TRUMP: No, I think the answer is going to be, we have to knock down the borders and let people compete.
[20:45:02] BASH: That kind of flip-flop would crush most candidates' campaign, not Trump. Voters withdrawn to him for a lot of reasons, but being dogmatic was not one of them. In fact, the president himself was introspective about it last week as he previewed military strikes in Syria that he had not long ago rallied against. TRUMP: I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way. And if the world changes I go the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: To be sure, on many of his 180s from NATO to Syria the world has not changed, so the question is what has? Sources close to Trump tell me there are several ways to answer that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
First, the obvious. He's a novice to politics and foreign policy who is getting a high stakes on the job education leading him to change some views.
Second, he is and always will be a businessman driven to get results, not by ideology. For example, he didn't think NATO was serving America's interest. Now that he is involved, he believed he can change that.
Third, his inner circle has expanded and along with it his world view. New (inaudible) like Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster who both support being tougher on Syria and more open to NATO have the president's ear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Some sources say the president is most influenced by the last person who talked to him. Others say that's not quite right. A senior administration official who's with the president pretty much every day tells me that he is swayed by the most compelling argument he hears regardless of who delivers it or when it's delivered. Anderson?
COOPER: Dana, thanks very much. Just ahead, it has been a bumpy week to say the least for White House Strategist Steve Bannon, who's reportedly on -- denies over his power struggle, Jared Kushner, could he be on the way out. We'll talk to Glenn Beck ahead.
[20:50:45] COOPER: Much more reason the Trump administration they surely (inaudible) to spare in the West Wing in case you didn't noticed. In recent days tensions between Pres. Trump's son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Trump's Chief Strategist Steve Bannon have gotten so bad that Mr. Trump told them to work it out or he would.
Tonight, there are a lot of stories swirling with Bannon who put his imprint on the travel ban and other early actions taken by Pres. Trump, may be on his way out, if you would (inaudible) about what the president has been saying publicly in the last 48 hours.
He told "The Wall Street Journal," "I have people that I respect, I have people that I listen to, I have many people and the I make the decision. I'm just saying that Mr. Bannon is a guy who works for me, he's a good guy. But, I make my own decision. I don't have people making decisions."
To me, it didn't sound too settle there. Lot to discuss. Joining me now is Glenn Beck, Nationally Syndicated Radio Host and the founder of TheBlaze.
Glenn, I mean, you haven't been -- obviously, you're no fan of Bannon. Though, there was this quote from Newt Gingrich in the "Washington Post," and I just want to read it. He said, "Bannon is a brilliant pirate who has had a huge impact, but White House is in the end are like the U.S. Navy Corporate Structures and very hard on pirates." Is he right? I mean, is this just a matter of different styles of there's more going on here?
GLENN BECK, FOUNDER, THEBLAZE: No, I don't know. I hate to make this into a reality show especially with reality president. And, you know, who's going to be next to be voted off the island.
But, I think that Bannon was instrumental in a few things that didn't go well for the president. And the president likes to win.
Also, I mean, I don't know anybody who would bet against the son-in- law winning in the end.
BECK: What was disturbing here is a couple things. When you bring a guy in who was supposedly on the outside and get -- gave Breitbart really to the campaign. When he leaves, what does he do on the outside?
BECK: Yeah, and a danger in two ways. Is he on the outside but still kind of in, so he's influencing from a distance or is he angry and turns that populist (inaudible) against the president. There's, you know, what he's done just this week with Syria, North Korean, even dropping MOAB today, Russia, the export-import bank, those things were all very big with the far-right in the populist movement that was angry.
You don't inflict the wound on them. They're now thinking, who is this guy? Do they feel betrayed? We can worry about that little circle, but really the most disturbing thing that Bannon was a part of was this idea that we're going to put sanctions on the biggest currency manipulator in the history of the world, that's what the president said, China.
The reason why he said that and it connected with a lot of people, not me, but a lot of people and it connected because there were people out in the countries that really Donald Trump was their lost hope. I haven't had a raise since 2001. Who is going to understand it? How do they feel today when the president reverses all of this policy and that's where they put their stock that I'm going to get a job -- my job is coming back or I'm going to get a better job. He's just abandoned a lot of people.
COOPER: Well, I mean, he's abandoned people but also just -- things he stood by and said very loudly and very effectively on the campaign trail. The currency manipulator thing is one, obviously, NATO is obsolete, now it's not obsolete, even though nothing really has changed with NATO, it's just the president has changed. But he doesn't even acknowledge that he's changed.
I keep thinking about --
COOPER: -- the Republican candidates who were against him in the primary who, you know, were kind of -- you know, had policy positions and were sort of trying to be presidential and stand by positions and Donald Trump, you know, very effectively, obviously, but was able to basically just kind of take some very extreme positions and kind of make fun of the others, but now has adopted the very positions he ran against and effectively won against.
[20:5507] BECK: This is so far -- I mean, I can't speak for tomorrow. But today, so far, it's not my worst nightmare. My worst nightmare was that the president would turn to Steve Bannon and he'd go down this populist burn it to the ground ideology. The good news is he's not going that way, but the next question is where is he going? Is he going left? Is he going -- he's not going conservative. And, who is he going to have left in the end? Who's going to believe him? This is why I warned my audience and America that he doesn't have a core. He goes for the win. And that can be dangerous if things start to fall apart economically or, you know, in the world.
But it -- tonight at least, it looks the president is on the verge of beginning to look like another Republican who said stuff, didn't mean it, and turned into Reince Priebus or Paul Ryan and that's not good, but I remembered, Anderson, what Pres. Bush said to me. I was in the Oval Office the day that candidate Obama said that he would just fly over to borders in Pakistan and if he had to he would bomb Pakistan.
And I remember at that time Pakistan was very important ally for us and I remember thinking, my gosh, you don't bomb an ally. And, this took on real weight because it was said by the president and he pointed to his desk in the Oval Office and he said don't worry, whoever occupies that seat behind that desk, man or woman, will quickly find out that their hands are tied and they'll end up doing almost exactly as I have done.
COOPER: That's interesting. I mean does that --
BECK: -- looks like maybe that's true.
COOPER: Right. It's the same thing with Barack Obama talking about closing down Gitmo.
COOPER: And, obviously, once you're in power it's a whole different thing and nothing. And we've heard this from the president, I didn't know health care was going to be so hard, he got lectured for 10 minutes by the Chinese Premier about, you know, China and North Korea relations and now says, you know, it's not so easy for China to influence --
BECK: I get it.
COOPER: Yeah. Glenn Beck, it's good to talk to you.
BECK: Good to talk to you, Anderson thank you.
COOPER: OK, all right. I'll talk to you later next.
Coming up in another hour of 360, the latest on the unprecedented attack on ISIS targets in Afghanistan. The U.S. military dropping its most powerful non-nuclear military bomb, that Glenn just talked about, for the first time ever in combat. We'll be right back.