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Source: Comey "Disturbed By His Interactions with Trump; House Judiciary Dems Warn Trump Not To Muzzle Comey; Deputy AG Rosenstein to Testify A Day Before Comey; Source: Comey Felt He Had Trump Situation "Under Control"; Russia's President Mocks Claims of Meddling In U.S. Election; Why The Climate Hoax Silence?; Putin: 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' With Trump's Climate Pact Decision; How the President Decided To Ditch Paris Accord; How Think Tank Influenced President's Climate Thinking; Does Trump Think Climate Change Is Real?; WH Refuses To Say If Trump Still Thinks Climate Change Is A Hoax; Bourdain in Antarctica. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 2, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: -- ending this week and some of a cliffhanger. Will the President try to block James Comey's testimony next week by invoking a secular privilege? There's that and breaking news on what Director Comey was thinking when the President was pushing him to end the investigation into Michael Flynn.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on both joins us now. Will the President -- I mean do we know try to block Comey's testimony?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, the bigger question maybe even if he wanted to, could he. If you look at what it takes to invoke executive privilege, James Comey no longer a government employee. The President himself has talked about the conversations publically both on Twitter and in a letter that he and James Comey had.

Basically, as it stands right now, there's a lot of question about whether he could or not. Now Anderson, the White House says they're currently reviewing this issue but as note tonight, just a few minutes ago, House Democrats on the judiciary committee just release a letter saying two things primarily. First and foremost, they don't believe on the merits should the President try and invoke executive privilege it would work. And if he did, they point out the political ramifications of it. Most notably, that it would look like he was trying to obstruct the testimony. These are two key consideration the White House will have to pay attention to as they look forward to this, but as you noted Anderson, we don't have an answer yet.

COOPER: The day before Comey appears, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will also testify.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's right. And a separate hearing, separate focus Spice specifically, for intelligence surveillance and the courts had oversee them. Now the big question here is, what can members get out of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but also everybody else who will be on this panel? The acting FBI director will be their, the direction of National Intelligence the CIA director and the director of the NSA. And most interesting enough, all of these individuals have played some role one way or another in this Russia investigation.

Now, the reality is, what we've seen over the last couple weeks is all questions will be deferred to the special counsel, Bob Mueller, that's just kind of the posture everybody is taking at this point, but what will probably be more interesting to watch Anderson, how the senators conduct themselves. This will be laying the groundwork for the hearing, the much bigger hearing, the main event that follows.

Members on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats how they set themselves up for that big hearing just 24 hours later will be very interesting to see. It will also probably a very good indicator of things to come. Anderson.

COOPER: There's new reporting about why Director Comey may not have reported the alleged pressure, the pressure the President put on him to ease off the investigation.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and this is really important, because this is something you are going to hear from Republicans on Thursday almost certainly. If you had such problems with the President's actions, why didn't you report them? Why didn't you resign? Here's what we're hearing from a source familiar with James Comey's thinking, is he essentially thought these actions in isolation, the idea of telling Jim Comey to back off the investigation into Michael Flynn. Things of that nature, were kind of the actions of a ham handed individual that that didn't quite understand the separation process between the law enforce and the White House.

Jim Comey according to this person, viewed this as kind of a training process. Getting the White House and most notably the guy who sits in the Oval Office, the President of the United States, kind of comfortable with how the relationship was supposed to work. So in isolation, he didn't believe they raised to the level of something that need to be reported.

But all put together, and most notably concluding with the firing of Jim Comey, that raises a very real question as to whether obstruction was actually taking place. Something we will almost certainly hear Jim Comey questioned about at that hearing next week, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly thanks very much.

That's how a source describes James Comey's thinking in the early weeks of the Trump administration. Now hold that in your mind as we review the events and interactions that Comey will certainly testify about on Thursday.

Randi Kaye has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In January, this year, a dinner at the White House. Now under scrutiny. Dining together, Donald Trump and then FBI Director James Comey. Mr. Trump had been sworn in seven days earlier and on that night, the source says, the President asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to him.

Comey instead offering to give the President his honesty. The President had a very different account of that dinner meeting when he spoke to NBC last month.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I think he asked for dinner. And he wanted to stay on as the FBI head. And I said, you know, consider we'll see what happens.

KAYE (voice-over): The White House pushed back on the loyalty question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the dinner the President had with James Comey earlier in January, did the President implore him to pledge his loyalty to the President? Is that true?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that happen?

TRUMP: Maybe appreciate you're bring --

KAYE (voice-over): The President says Comey also told him at dinner that he was not under investigation and that Comey repeated it again twice later.

TRUMP: That time he told me, you are not under investigation. But then during the phone call he said it and then during another phone call he said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask, am I under investigation?

TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's possible, will you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, you are not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was the President so consumed by this that he would ask that question on three separate occasions?

[21:05:03] SPICER: I think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated and he wanted clarity to make sure.

KAYE (on-camera): Still on February 14, another key moment between President Trump and Director Comey, this time in the Oval Office. Sources say Comey documented the meeting in a memo which was described to CNN. Comey says the President ushered others out of the room, including the Vice-President, then that Trump allegedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into General Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia.

Flynn was fired as Trump's National Security Adviser after admitting to inappropriate contacts with Russia.

(voice-over): A source told CNN, Comey was so surprised by the President's request he documented everything he could remember for senior FBI officials. In his memo, Comey said the President told him, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.

A source told CNN, Comey was concerned that the President was trying to stop the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape or form to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? also, as you --

TRUMP: No. No. Next question.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite that, just days after firing Comey in may, President Trump dropped this bombshell. Suggesting he let Comey go because of the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.

KAYE (voice-over): Of course, that only raised more questions about the possibility of obstruction of justice. Given Comey's testimony before Congress --

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: We're conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the Russian efforts and anybody associated with the Trump campaign.

KAYE (voice-over): Benjamin Wittes a friend of James Comey spoke to Anderson Cooper about how Comey thought personal contact with the President was inappropriate.

BENJAMIN WITTES, FRIEND OF JAMES COMEY: This is a guy with a story to tell. I think if I were Donald Trump, that would scare me a lot.

He did feel like there were these numerous incidents where the President was kind of probing the edges of his defenses. And all in the service of making him a -- seeing whether you could make a loyalist out of him.

KAYE (voice-over): And it wasn't just James Comey, the President may have been trying to influence. In March, just days after Comey revealed the FBI probe into possible Trump campaign connections to Russia, the President asked two of the government's top intelligence chiefs to publically deny evidence of collusion between his team and the Russian government.

Sources tell CNN both the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers were uncomfortable with the nature of the President's request and refused to comply. The White House declined to comment and so did Director Coats when asked by the Senate Armed Services Committee. DANIEL COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the President.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) RANKING MEMBER INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Congress really needs to find out whether there was an active effort to interfere with the investigation or to draw in the intelligence agencies or their leadership in a way that would politicize the agencies.

KAYE (voice-over): The effort to uncover the truth continues.

Randi Kaye, CNN New York.


COOPER: A lot of to discuss. Joining me CNN political analyst and New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, a former presidential adviser in four administrations including the next in White House.

Maggie, looking ahead to next week, do we know about what Comey is going to say?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We know that he has been trying to figure out what the restrictions are, on what he is allowed to talk about. But in general as our expectation is and he's going to talk about how he felt about the approaches that President Trump made to him with relation to this Russian investigation, with relation to Michael Flynn, the ousted National Security Adviser.

But he is going to I think be very careful to stay within the parameters of what he is allowed to do without tripping up any legal question --

COOPER: Not talking about the actual FBI investigation?

HABERMAN: Correct. I mean he can't talk about, in the same way we saw him in these Congressional committees testifying, he was very careful repeatedly to say that it's something I can't talk about, and you should not take my answer as a yes or no. But merely I can't speak of it.

I think he will hear a fair amount of that at the same time. I think that you will hear him speaking in his own words, not through friends, speaking on background, not through, you know, aides or whomever he used to work with him about how he felt about his interactions with the President. And I think it has the chance to be explosive.

COOPER: David, as far as this notion that Director Comey may not have thought of any individual action taken alone as constituting obstruction of justice, does that explanation make sense to you?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think each action taken alone or by itself may not trigger the law, so to speak. But I do think it's more important that Director Comey may be disturbed by the pattern and that the pattern itself.

[21:10:08] If you look at, you know, there from early on, whether there would -- allegedly the President asked him for this loyalty, and then he asked him to drop the case and when he wouldn't drop the case with Flynn, you know, the president fired him. And If you look the in between conversations, that pattern is more damning than any one those elements would be. And it may explain why he didn't tell anybody or he kept this contemporary on his notes, but didn't tell anybody about what was in them, didn't report it to others.

COOPER: And Maggie do we know, can -- will the notes be read, I mean can he use those notes?

HABERMAN: I'm not certain actually how detailed he can get into that.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: My assumption is that he can rely on them, but I'm not certain that he is going to be able to actually sit there and literally go through what he said. And then go up to do some real time memory essentially. But I think he is pretty familiar with.

COOPER: And at this point, we don't know if the White House is going to try for executive privilege.

HABERMAN: We don't, but I was just talking to a White House Advisor who was suggesting it was unlikely. Now again, we are living in Donald Trump's America where a hard decision often is not clear until he says or will tell somebody says publicly. They are looking at all of their options which I would expect them to do. But there is a recognition by some in the White House anyway, if not everybody, that exerting that privilege would be very, very problematic on its own in terms of the optics, in terms of how it would be received potentially by people who have been defending the president. I also think frankly, and this was a point that was made to me by somebody a little bit ago. I think the president is probably looking forward to watching this testimony on some level.

COOPER: Yes, yes.

HABERMAN: I think that he enjoys the show of it for lack of a better way of --

COOPER: He has enjoys, would you think?

HABERMAN: I don't think that -- I don't think it is fully set in the severity potentially of what is going on right now for a lot of people around the White House. And I'm not sure it has for the president either just based on what he is saying and the fact that he continues tweeting despite the fact that lawyers and White House counsel and his aides have all said, please be careful because you're creating just a chain of evidence here.

COOPER: David, in terms of the politics, what is better for the President letting Comey testified publicly about their conversation or blocking him, which to Maggie's point could make a scene like some, you know, administration is trying to hide something.

GERGEN: It would be a terrible mistake politically to invoke executive privilege here and it would be challenged legally. But I precisely think does send this definite signal to many people that he grab (ph) what is he trying to hide. And furthermore, we all know that Comey is ultimately going to be talking under oath to the FBI investigators. And his story will eventually come out one way or the other.

So to get into a court for now and try to hide him recognizing that one day the story is going to come out in full, I don't know what quite was sure accomplishing me. It's better off, it seems to me for the White House tomorrow, not wait, not review, not spend a lot of time on it, clear the deck, say he were going to allow him to testify.

COOPER: Yes, it's going to be fascinating Thursday. David Gergen, thanks, Maggie Haberman as well.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, there's more breaking news. Now, Russian president Putin is speaking out again about the election hacking and what he thinks about the entire controversy.

And later, how the president can drop American participation in the Paris accord on global warming without saying a single word about global warming itself. He is called that hoax many times before as a civilian, but not anymore. The question now is why and why doesn't the White House saying what he really thinks about it?


[21:16:57] COOPER: At a business round table today in Saint Petersburg, Russian president Vladimir Putin reset his compass and did basically another 180. He is once again flatter denying that Russia had anything to do with hacking the U.S. election. He also ridiculed the reaction to President Trump's decision to pull out the Paris Climate Accord and didn't stop there.

Brian Todd has details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was trademark, Vladimir Putin, appearing on stage in a marathon interview forum today, the Russian leader surprised the audience in English.


TODD (voice-over): Invoking the '80 singer Bobby McFerrin sarcastically describing the anger around President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. But in his native tongue, the former Soviet spy told the politician was far less sunny continuing to deny Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election while attacking former candidate Hillary Clinton saying her campaign just can't admit its own mistakes caused her loss. PUTIN (through translation): They decided to say it's not our fault, it's the Russian's fault. It's like anti-semitism to blame the Jews for everything. We all know what this can lead to, nothing good.

TODD: At the same time, Putin spoke admiringly of Donald Trump's successful campaign.

PUTIN (through translation): The Trump team was more effective during the election campaign. He found an approach to the electorate that worked for him.

TODD: But he wasn't done there. On the heels of his comment on Thursday that Russian "Patriots", not the government might have hacked the U.S. election, Putin gave another denial referring to U.S. intelligence reports on the hacking.

PUTIN (through translation): I read these reports. There is nothing specific in these reports, just assumptions and conclusions.

TODD: And he denied any discussions about sanctions between his government and the incoming Trump administration. Tonight, analysts say Putin is looking for deniability, trying to prevent investigators from tracing anything any alleged interference in the election directly to him. But at the same time, they say, it appears he is loving the attention and the strife inside the U.S. political system.

WILL POMERANZ, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: He now has a president who wants to have better relations with Russia. He has a scandal that has weakened the U.S. president and he has a U.S. president who is busy lecturing his best allies about climate and about NATO. So there's a lots of things that Putin is enjoying about the current crisis.


TODD: Vladimir Putin also came to the defense of the man who works for him here in Washington, Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak who is at the center of the investigations into Trump's aides' contacts with the Russians. Putin said, "Our ambassador met with someone, that's what the ambassador must do." He said reports of secret deals before the inauguration are, "Playing hysteria" and said, "How should we stop that, take a pill or something?"

We also reached out to Hillary Clinton's representatives for response to Vladimir Putin's comments about her campaign, they declined to comment. Anderson.

COOPER: Brian Todd. Brian, thanks very much.

Coming up next, look inside the White House decision-making process on the Paris pullout, there's new insight since the arguments that move the president whether he considered all the facts and what facts he considered before making up his line.


[21:23:25] COOPER: The White House today defended the President's decision to pull out of the Paris accord on global warming. That much, of course, is expected. Well, it was not expected, but maybe should have been. It was just how completely the evasion continues to be on perhaps the central question, namely, what does the president now believe about global warming?

CNN's Jim Acosta tonight has details.


TRUMP: Thank you very much everybody.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The climate was warming at the White House as officials from the president to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agencies, Scott Pruitt.

UNIDINTIFIED MALE: Does the president believe today that climate change is a hoax?

ACOSTA(voice-over): Dodged the question.

UNIDINTIFIED FEMALE: Does the president believe the climate change is real and a threat to United States?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA MANAGEMENT: You know, what's interesting about, all the discussions we had to the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue. Is Paris good or not for this country?

ACOSTA (voice-over): Pruitt echoed president Trump's decision to pull out at the Paris Climate Agreement as a choice in favor of American workers.

TRUMP: They don't put America first. I do and I always will.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the head of the EPA also took some jabs of what he described as climate exaggerators, the kind of language used by global warming skeptics.

(on-camera): You were up there throwing out information that says, well maybe this is being exaggerated and so when you talk about climate exaggerators, it just seems to a lot of people around the world that you and the president are just denying the reality. And reality of the situation is that climate change is happening and it's a significant threat to the planet.

PRUITT: Let me say this and I've said it in the confirmation process and I said it yesterday.


[21:25:02] PRUITT: There is -- there -- we have done a tremendous amount as a country to achieve reductions in CO2. And we have done that through technology and innovation. We will continue to do that. We will continue to stay engaged.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But (inaudible) that you are putting your head in the sand.

PRUITT: Well, there's no evidence of that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Well, there's press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters earlier this week that he would check on whether the president still believed climate change is a hoax as he stated in the past. Did Spicer have a chance to clear that up with the president?

SPICER: I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Spicer and Pruitt joined the growing list of top administration officials dancing around the climate question.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Does President Trump still believed climate change is a hoax?

GARY COHN, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: What President Trump believes is he was elected to grow the U.S. economy and provide great job opportunities.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA HOST: Does the president still believe global warming a hoax?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water.

ACOSTA (voice-over): There are other pressing questions facing the White House such as whether the president will invoke executive privilege to block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying on Capitol Hill next week. Spicer said, "That's up in the air."

SPICER: It's got to be reviewed.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But he insisted, the president is standing by son-in-law Jared Kushner amid questions about the White House adviser's dealings with the Russians.

SPICER: Absolutely.


COOPER: And Jim, the president has said that he is open to negotiating a new climate deal. Did the White House actually follow up on that at all today, because that -- I mean the Paris accord took years and years and years? It's unlikely that there's going to be a new deal, isn't it?

ACOSTA: Oh that's right Anderson. And the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told reporters today once again that the president is open to starting negotiations on a new Paris climate deal, but we've heard over the last 24 hours in response to the president's announcement, world leaders, including key U.S. allies who say simply, that's not happening. Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much. More now with a little known organization that apparently had a big influence on the president's climate decision. CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has the low down on who they are. He also tried to find out who is financing them. Take a look.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Located in a nondescript office in Washington D.C., there competitive enterprise institute and its Director of Energy may have just helped change the political and environmental direction of an entire nation.

(on-camera): And it's been a big win now for you, correct? I mean this is kind of a coup for your group.

MYRON EBELL, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It's a small organization. We have been very persistent. We haven't given up. And I think we have to a large extent finally prevailed through the actions of president Trump and his administration.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Myron Ebell has the administration's ear. He ran president Trump's EPA transition team. He supported the president's pick of a climate change skeptic, Scott Pruitt being chosen as EPA director. And he confirms president Trump rescinding of six orders Obama era executive orders and that aimed at curbing climate change and regulating carbon emissions was part of his action plan.

And from the moment the Paris accord was signed by the United States, he has worked to persuade the U.S. to get out of it. Just weeks ago in a White House inner circle was battling over what to do about Paris, CEI put out this T.V. ad reminding the President what he had promised to do.

TRUMP: We're going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

UNIDINTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, don't listen to the swamp. Keep your promise. Withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate treaty.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): That was pressure, right? Were you delivery trying to remind not the people, not the public, but the president what he said?

EBELL: Yes. There's a large wing of people who proudly identify as part of the basket of deplorables in the Trump administration. And there are bunch of people who are much more comfortable identifying as part of the swamp. So there was a debate, a real debate in the White House and in the white or the cabinet. So we just wanted to remind the president which side he is on.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Yesterday, the pressure paid off. Myron Ebell and several colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute were at the Rose Garden when president Trump said this.

TRUMP: It is time to exit the Paris accord. GRIFFIN (voice-over): He claims to have never met president Trump before yesterday yet his influence over the administration seems undeniable which scares environmentalist.

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, PROFESSOR OF GEOSCIENCES AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: The access that Mr. Ebell and the competitive enterprises that do (ph) apparently and others who not only don't like the idea of implementing policy to protect us from climate change, but seem to have a thorough scorn for mainstream science, was and still is extremely disturbing.

[21:30:00] GRIFFIN: Ebell calls much of the scientific data on global warming questionable. The institute has been accused of misinterpreting scientific studies and has according to scientist like Michael Oppenheimer created at far the misinformation to confuse voters. Who is paying for all this? That's a good question.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Does the energy industry support you? Does the coal industry support you?

EBELL: If you want to know, you will have to talk to them, because under IRS non-profit law for 501(c)3 which we are a nonpartisan -- non-profit public policy institute. We don't disclose our donors.


COOPER: So, Drew, who does pay? Do we know?

GRIFFIN: Well, like he said, they don't have to say and they don't say. I'll tell you this, Anderson. It's mostly large donations from private people. $250,000 up to $1 million in some cases by individuals who are going to remain secret. But we can also tell you that they do have this fund-raising dinner.

And according to "The Washington Post" in the past, yes, coal, yes, energy, yes, car companies like Ford, also Google, and also Facebook have been involved. But most of the fund-raising for this group comes from private people who are remaining private.

COOPER: All right, Drew Griffin. Drew thanks very much.

Coming up, given that the president just went against virtually every other country on the plan on the climate accord, it's kind of an important question. Does the president think climate change is real or does he still think it's a hoax as he tweeted? He won't talk about it. And as we should -- as we showed you moments ago, neither would the White House, but the president have said plenty about in the past. We'll show you that ahead.


[21:35:32] COOPER: As we've been reporting, the president is very clear on what he dislikes about the Paris Climate Accord. On the other hand, he's certainly avoiding questions on the underlying issue, climate change itself. It's odd because as you know, as a candidate, Donald Trump was anything but shy on the subject. Gary Tuchman has more.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump hasn't made it clear where he stands on climate change. But as candidate Trump and citizen Trump, he certainly did. In December 2015, he had this to say.

TRUMP: While the world is in turmoil and falling apart in so many different ways, especially with ISIS, our president is worried about global warming. What a ridiculous situation.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then there was this in September 2015.

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HOST: Do you believe that the temperature of the earth is increasing? And what would you do if you do believe that vis-a-vis global climate change?

TRUMP (via telephone): Well, first of all, I'm not a believer in global warming. I'm not a believer in man-made global warming.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): He said this about President Obama in April 2016.

TRUMP: He said global warming is our biggest problem. OK. We have problems, OK. We have some big problems. We may have a global warming problem, but it would be of the nuclear variety if we don't have smart people in office and soon.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then this moment during the campaign.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.

TRUMP: I did not say that. I do not say that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But all you have to do is look at President Trump's Twitter feed to see that he did say that. In 2012, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." In fact, his Twitter feed with scores of tweets on the topic gives a pretty clear window into where he stands on the issue.

There's this in January 2015. "It's record cold all over the country and world. Where the hell is global warming? We need some fast." And this in February 2014, "It's not climate change, it's global warming. Don't let the dollar sucking wiseguys change names midstream because the first name didn't work. In November 2012, "Let's continue to destroy the competitiveness of our factories and manufacturing so we can fight mythical global warming. China is so happy."

Interestingly back in 2009, Donald Trump did sign a letter along with dozens of other business leaders calling for meaningful and effective measures to control climate change. And there have been occasions where he sounded a bit like he was on defense.

TRUMP: I'm still open-minded. Nobody really knows that. Look, I'm somebody that gets it. And nobody really knows. It's not something that's so hard and fast.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But overall, his blizzard of tweets and almost all of his televised comments on the topic have revealed an overwhelming sentiment.

TRUMP: I am not a believer in climate change.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Donald Trump has never been shy about expressing that, at least until now.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: We'll have more now on that. Earlier tonight, I talked about it with Jim Acosta who spent part of the press briefing today trying to get a straight answer, so as "The Washington Post" Phillip Rucker who is just sort of penetrating report on how the president made his decision to ditch the Paris Accord.


COOPER: Jim, the fact the White House still cannot and will not say whether or not the president believes climate change is real, I mean I guess they can, they just won't. Is that really a viable strategy, simply not answering what seems to be a pretty vital and obvious question?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I think it guarantees that this question is going to be asked over and over again. It will probably come up at the next press conference the president has if he has another one in the near future. He was asked about it during a press availability today. He simply ignored the question.

It reminds me, Anderson, of when reporters would pepper him with the question about whether he still believes Barack Obama was not born in the United States. And it just took months and months and years and years of pulling teeth to get the president to admit that the president was born in the United States.

And I get the sense that there's a similar situation here. White House officials are not going to say where the President doesn't believe climate change is a hoax anymore unless they hear it from him. And at this point, my guess is, is that they're just not getting that answer from the president at this point.

COOPER: And Phil, you were reporting today about how President Trump came to his decision, the big influence to Steve Bannon had on decision. What can you tell us?

PHILLIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, getting that of the Paris Accord was always something that President Trump has wanted to do dating back to when he was a candidate on the campaign trail. But he had a long deliberative process here to get to the final decision and he was really influenced by Bannon as well as by Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA.

And they presented him a lot of facts and figures and numbers and charts and graphics to impress upon him their argument that the economy would suffer under the emission standards that are required in the Paris Agreement for the United States.

[21:40:13] And Trump ultimately sided with them, even though his daughter, Ivanka, had been pushing him to stay in the Paris Accord. She had summoned all of the CEOs to call him, to pressure him, to lobby him, to write letters in op-eds and newspapers and it just wasn't enough to pry him away from his nationalist instincts that Bannon said.

COOPER: Phil, I mean, does this race questions about the power of Ivanka Trump in this White House?

RUCKER: It does. Certainly, she has a lot of influence with the president. She's family. She's blood. She has access to him whenever she chooses. She can make her views known to him. But at the end of the day, she's someone who wants a more -- who has a more moderate ideology dealing with the Republican conservative president and a Republican conservative administration.

And there's only so much influence she can have on these policies to pull him in the right direction and climate change is not the only case where she's lost out in the battle. There have been a number of other policy matters where the president has gone further to the right than she would like.

COOPER: Jim, I mean, this is not the only thing the White House won't answer questions about. They refuse to answer questions about the president's wiretapping claims. Now there's referring anything have to do with Russia, the special counsel. I mean, just a few months ago Sean Spicer was claiming President Trump's transparency has "exceeded" that of any modern president.

ACOSTA: That's right. And I think the danger for Sean Spicer at this point, Anderson, is that he just loses all credibility in the briefing room. We saw that on the first full day of the administration when he lashed out at the news media for not saying that the president's inauguration crowd was bigger than Barack Obama's, Sean Spicer has had moments where he's just damaged his credibility time and again.

And I just can't imagine him going into the briefing room and saying, "Well, I haven't had a chance to talk to the president about whether he still believes climate change is a hoax." We asked Sean Spicer this question earlier this week. He said he would come back with a question. And today when he was asked in press, "Well, did you go back and ask him that question?" He said, well, he hasn't had the opportunity to do that.

That just really doesn't sound like anything that adds up, Anderson, when you consider the fact they were going into this Rose Garden speech to make a major decision on climate change and yet nobody inside the White House had the backbone to go to the president and say, "What about this one question and this thing that you keep calling it a hoax? What do you want to say about that?"

It's just -- it's astounding. It's stunning to me that they did not resolve that issue and they're still putting this position where it's just embarrassing that they can't answer that question.

COOPER: Phil Rucker, Jim Acosta, thank you guys.

RUCKER: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, coming up, Anthony Bourdain goes to Antarctica. He tells me all about it. His most unknown destination for "Parts Unknown," what he found and how he manage to get there in the first place.


[21:46:35] KAYE: So, Anderson, did you get anything interesting in the mail today, anything say that's only sent to people of a certain age, perhaps?

COOPER: You are jerks. You promised me nothing was going to happen.

KAYE: I didn't make any such promise. But, listen, first of all, let's look on the bright side, OK? Senior citizens, they get a lot of discounts, right? What did you get in the mail? Tell us.

COOPER: I got my AARP card.

KAYE: OK. So let's keep in mind, you get a lot of discounts --

COOPER: You know what, let me tell you what happens when you get your AARP card as I now know. You wake up in the morning and you get your mail and there's an envelope. It doesn't identify what it is. It just says, "Happy birthday, Anderson." So I was like, oh. Open it up, AARP card. It was like a dagger in my heart.

KAYE: But look on the bright side. You're going to get all this bargains at the early bird special before you know it and people are going to be giving you their seat on the subway soon. And actually, Anderson, you know, to be honest, I thought, and I think a lot of us did that you were already 50, because I could have sworn that we celebrated your 50th birthday last year.

COOPER: Yes, I know you did. Yes, that was my 49th.

KAYE: Are you sure you're not 51?

COOPER: That was my 49th birthday and you all pretended it was my 50th to twist the knife even deeper.

KAYE: I don't remember that. But, listen, let's not drag this out. I don't want to drag it out. We just got some comments into CNN that I think are particularly relevant to how your future might look from a source who calls herself Sally O'Malley. Take a look.


SALLY O'MALLEY, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: I'm proud to say I'm 50 years old and not one of those girls who is afraid to hide her age, unlike some other girls. And I like to kick, stretch and kick. I'm 50. 50 years old. 50 years old.


COOPER: She is one of my favorite characters on the old SNL.

KAYE: If you weren't attached to a mike, I would ask you to get up and kick just like that.

COOPER: I'm 50. I actually -- it's so funny. I actually have been repeating that in my head. I like to kick and stretch -- yes.

KAYE: I'd like to see it. Well, listen, it's not just me who wants to wish you a happy birthday, happy 50th birthday. Now that you're an elder statesman, yes, you are, some of your contemporaries, people in your new age bracket, wanted to send you their best, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday, Anderson Cooper. I watch you every night. You did a very wise thing. Turning gray earlier than you should have makes you look younger than you are. You don't look 50. You look 49. You look 49. Good luck. That's your phone ringing. Answer it.

PHIL DONAHUE, MEDIA PERSONALITY: Hey, Anderson, it's Phil. Hey, man, I just want to tell you that -- what? Donahue, Phil Donahue. Is the caller there? Hey, man, I just want to say that was the greatest movie of all time. Do not forsake me oh my darling.

MARLO THOMAS: Honey, that's Gary Cooper. This is Anderson Cooper.

DONAHUE: Oh, Anderson Cooper wasn't in high noon?

THOMAS: No. Happy Birthday, Anderson. And don't sweat the 50th. It only gets worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anderson, 50 is not -- wait until you hit 90. You've got a long way to go. Happy Birthday, Anderson.

RUTH WESTHEIMER, ACTRESS: Hi, Anderson. I'm Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Guess what, I wrote a book for you, for your birthday. You are going to be 50.

[21:50:03] Look what I wrote for you, "Sex after 50." Don't worry, I promise you that you can still have a wonderful sex life even after 50 years of age. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anderson, hey, you look pretty good for your old age. Not good (inaudible), of course. Happy birthday, buddy. Happy birthday.

BARBARA EDEN, FILM ACTRESS: Hello, Anderson Cooper. This is Barbara Eden. And I'm here with a very special message from a dear friend of mine. It is come to her attention that you've been suffering the great deal of angst over this big 5-0 birthday. And she wants to tell you it's just a number. Don't worry about it. After all, she's 2050 years old. Well, of course, she's a genie.

Happy birthday, Anderson and many, many more.

DICK CAVETT, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Hey, Anderson. It's me, Dick Cavett. Here's the thought, suppose as you move into your 50s, wouldn't it be scientifically interesting if your hair started to darken?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Anderson, happy birthday. So, I don't know what to get you for your birthday. So I've decided I'm going to give you my house. Have a great day and I'm going to have a tequila on you. Enjoy. Happy birthday. 50 isn't that old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anderson Cooper, 50, I'm 90. Good luck. Happy birthday to you.


COOPER: Wow. That's amazing.

KAYE: 90 years young there. Amazing.

COOPER: That's interesting. Wow. Thank you to all those wonderful wishes from those amazing people. Wow.

KAYE: Happy birthday.

COOPER: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. You're all fired. We'll be right back.


[21:56:02] COOPER: So the new episode of "Parts Unknown" really lived up to its name. Anthony Bourdain travels to Antarctica for the first time. I talked to Anthony recently in the more temperate climate at the restaurant in La Sirena here in New York City.


COOPER: So the upcoming show, you're in an Antarctica.


COOPER: I thought that you've been telling Antarctica (inaudible).

BOURDAIN: You'd remember. COOPER: I was in Greenland, which is also a very --

BOURDAIN: Maybe the most difficult show to shoot that we've ever, ever done.

COOPER: Just getting there or --

BOURDAIN: Just getting there is tough. We went as guests of the National Science Foundation. There's an international protocol for how you behave on the ice. Meaning, there is not a single cigarette butt on the ground anywhere in Antarctica. You don't touch the animals. You don't pick up rocks and take them with you. No pets, because pets might bring distemper or something it might transfer at, you know, to the penguins.

COOPER: So what do you see there? I mean, what do you --

BOURDAIN: You see a landscape absolutely untouched by time. If you were -- hypothetically speaking, to put some glacier ice into your scotch at a remote scientific research base --

COOPER: Hypothetically speaking.

BOURDAIN: -- its bright blue and the person putting it in your drink might tell you this ice is tens of thousands of years older than even the concept of scotch.


BOURDAIN: It's a -- there are parts of Antarctica that have been stripped dry. The glaciers recede, leaving a surface that's much like Mars. In fact, apparently, we test a lot of things like the Mars Rover is there. I went to the South Pole. I imagine, you're standing on the South Pole. Everywhere you go, every direction you go is north.

COOPER: But there's no native inhabitants, are there?

BOURDAIN: No. It's -- in the summer at the South Pole, it was about somewhere between 20 and 50 below zero. That's summer. But the point is it takes a special breed of people. And there are nearly 1,000 of them living and working 12-hour shifts at McMurdo Base, the principal American base down there. And it is a really unique, fascinating subculture of people from every walk of life and background.

People who are incrementally exploring, often at very remote, incredibly difficult locations, questions like, you know, can we predict the behavior of the sun? Where did life come from? What was in the atmosphere thousands of years ago? Asking questions about things that they know they will never know in their life or career, but they're looking to incrementally move these things forward.

It is also a place where if you were to go down there, Anderson, because there no kids allowed and no pets, and there's nothing green, but if you were to sneak a puppy down there, you could probably charge $100 for five minutes. So everybody on the base, they would pay you $500 just for a few minutes stroking a puppy. You don't want to stroke a penguin.

COOPER: Really?

BOURDAIN: Yes. We flew out to spend some time with the penguins with this guy who had been living with penguin colonies for like 30 years observing the same colony. And, all this fresh faced, young interns out on the chopper with (inaudible) like, oh, we're going to go. Help tag the penguins. This is going to be great. You know what you don't want all over your clothes, penguin poop.

COOPER: Oh, really?

BOURDAIN: Oh, man, they came -- they decidedly dispirited. They're just covered with liquid penguin shit. They smell.

COOPR: Do they?

BOURDAIN: Yes. You know, more than 10 penguins in a room is not a place you want to be.

COOPER: I look forward to that.


COOPER: You can watch Anthony Bourdain Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.

Before we go tonight, we want to say thanks. Thanks to one of our writers, Kate Fiddick (ph). Kate has been with us here at "360" for 12 years. We are a better program for her. She's brought passion, expertise and, most of all, precision. Precision in her words to make sure that we, that I always got it right. That's what real journalists do. That's what Kate is. Thank you, Kate. And we'll miss you.

"CNN Tonight with Don Lemon" starts now.

[22:00:07] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Not a good week to be president. This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon.