Return to Transcripts main page


Friend: Trump Is Considering "Terminating" Mueller; Special Counsel Team Members Donate To Dems. FEC Records Show; Donald Trump Jr.: There's "No Ambiguity" In My Father's Orders; A.G. Sessions To Testify In Open Hearing Tomorrow; Melania Trump And Son Barron Move Into White House; Navy Veteran's New Mission: Spike's K9 Fund. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 12, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:55] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, certainly no shortage of breaking news tonight surrounding the Russia investigation, tomorrow's Senate testimony by Attorney General Sessions. The president, according to a close confront, Newsmax Editor in Chief Christopher Ruddy, weighing the possibility of actually firing Mueller.


CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, NEWSMAX: I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he is weighing that option. I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently. I personally think it would be a very significant mistake, even though I don't think there's a justification. And even though -- I mean, here you have a situation --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think there's a justification for?

RUDDY: For a special counsel in this case, but also -- I mean, Robert Mueller, there's some real conflict. He comes from a law firm that represent members of the Trump family. He interviewed the day before -- a few days before he was appointed special counsel with the president who was looking at him potentially to become the next FBI director. That hasn't been published, but it's true.

And I think it would be strange that he would have a confidential conversation and then a few days later become the prosecutor of the person he may be investigating. I think that Mueller should have not taken the position if he was under consideration and had a private meeting with the president and was privy maybe to some of his thoughts about that investigation or other matters before the bureau.


COOPER: Christopher Ruddy earlier today. CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House. Jim, has the White House had anything to say about the comments from Chris Ruddy?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they have, Anderson. In just the last hour the Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, put out a brief statement saying that Chris, meaning Chris Ruddy, speaks for himself. And then a separate statement came from White House officials shortly thereafter saying that Chris Ruddy did not meet with the president himself before making these comments.

I know, Anderson, because I saw Chris Ruddy myself over here at the White House earlier this afternoon that he was here on the White House grounds and he was inside the west-wing earlier today. But I've also talked to a source close to the president who says that the president is being counseled by "many people not to fire Robert Mueller." And so this appears to be something that is being deliberated inside the White House and among the people around the president.

COOPER: Right, because if he is being counseled not do it, it means there's discussions about whether or not to do it.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And it would be a dramatic move, Anderson, not some -- it would be something that we have not really seen -- a kind of constitutional crisis that we have not really seen since the Watergate era, because there are questions as to whether the president could even fire the special prosecutor. I was talking to an expert earlier this evening who said it really is sort of a murky area because we haven't -- we just haven't had a lot of test cases in this department.

COOPER: And very quickly, did the White House have anything to say about Session's testimony tomorrow?

ACOSTA: Well, yes. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about this during the briefing earlier today and he essentially said that it's unclear whether the administration will exert executive privilege, invoke executive privilege and attempt to block Jeff Sessions from answering all of the questions that he'll be asked up on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

That sets up a scenario like we saw last week where the director of national intelligence was just simply refusing to answer some questions because he was awaiting guidance from the administration.

And so you could have a situation tomorrow where Jeff Sessions is being asked all sorts of very important relevant questions and is just not giving a lot of answers that will be to any kind of satisfaction to those senators up on Capitol Hill.

So it will be something to watch. But, I would imagine if this Mueller thing is, you know, reaching his level that Jeff Sessions will be asked about that as well, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta. Jim, thanks.

A short time ago, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee weighed in with a warning to the president. Congressman Schiff tweet, "If president fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don't waste our time." Congressman Adam Schiff joins us now on the phone.

Congressman Schiff, do you think the president is seriously considering this? Could this be some sort of a trial balloon? Because you hear the White House statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Chris speaks for himself. That's not saying the president isn't considering this, to just saying Chris speaks for himself.

[21:05:05] ADAM SCHIFF, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (via telephone): You know, it's really hard to figure out whether it's a trial balloon or this is the president just expressing that he would like to get rid of this guy just the way he wanted to get rid of James Comey.

You have to hope that common sense will prevail, but it wouldn't surprise me at all even though it would be absolutely astonishing where he say entertain this. The echoes of Watergate are getting louder and louder.

But if he were to go though with this, if he were to order Jeff Sessions, who has supposed to have recused himself to fire this guy, I would hope that Jeff Sessions would take the principle course and resign before he would agree to that. And similar to Rod Rosenstein, I would hope would resign before he would give affect to that kind of instruction.

But, yes, if the president goes through this somehow, Congress will have to step up to the plate, reestablish the independent counsel law that has expired so that he can be once again appointed. We're not going to let the president choose who conducts this investigation.

COOPER: I mean, just playing it through, if the president actually did decide this is what he wanted, wouldn't -- and this is something that the attorney general is supposed to do. It's not something that the president himself is supposed to do. Attorney General Sessions because he recused himself, wouldn't he have to recuse himself from that decision? So wouldn't it automatically go to Rod Rosenstein?

SCHIFF (via telephone): It should. But then again, Attorney General Sessions should have had nothing to do with the firing of James Comey and yet he did. So the recusal isn't timely (ph) worth that much, because if you recuse to making these decisions in the Russia case and you recommend firing the top investigator in the Russia case, that recusal doesn't amount to a whole lot.

So, I think you're right. I would hope you're right that Jeff Sessions would tell the president, number one, this is a bad idea, number two, I recused myself and number three, if you make me do this, I'm going to quit. And it would fall to Rod Rosenstein.

And I have to think Rod Rosenstein having spoken so highly at Bob Mueller and both Democrats and Republicans think very highly of Bob Mueller, is also not going to acquiesce to this kind of further interference in the Russia investigation. COOPER: Of course, because he is the one who appointed the call -- got the special counsel just recently. So, you said, though, Congress would just step in if this was done. Congress would step in reestablish the independent counsel statute. Are you confident Republicans would go along with that?

SCHIFF (via telephone): I think the pressure on Republicans would be even too much for them to resist. Now, I hope it doesn't come to that. We're tested this way. And I hope I'm not wrong about this. But at some point, Republicans have to stand up and speak and act in favor of our system of checks and balances. And if they were not to do it here, I don't know how they can go back home and look their constituents in the eye.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time tonight. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Thank you very much.

More now on the growing complaints from Republican circles about Robert Mueller. CNN Jessica Schneider joins us now with that. The controversy involves the team Robert Mueller has assembled. What about it?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're learning, Anderson, is that members of the legal team known to have been hired so far by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to handle the Russia investigation, well, they've given political donations almost exclusively to Democrats. That's all according to a CNN analysis of the Federal Election Commission records.

So here's the breakdown. More than half of the nearly $60,000 in donations, it came from just one lawyer. You can see there James Quarles and more than half of that amount was actually donated before the 2016 election. Now, two of the lawyers gave the maximum $2,700 donation to Hillary Clinton last year. We should though note that there was no record of Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself making any donations.

So I'll run down the list for you again. James Quarles, he's at the top there. He started his career as an assistant special prosecutor in Watergate. He's donated more than $30,000 to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's last campaign and Barack Obama's campaign in recent years. But, as you'll note, he's recently -- or has forked over about $2,700 to Republican candidates.

Now, Jeannie Rhee, she's donated significantly to Democrats. She maxed out to the Clinton campaign and those other two lawyers, they did also donate to Democrats, Anderson, but they stopped donating in 2008 and 2006 respectively. So didn't donate this election cycle.

Now, we did reach out to a spokesman for Robert Mueller. He had no comment when CNN asked about the donations and any criticism it might invite that there is bias in this investigation, Anderson.

COOPER: And what's been reaction among President Trump's allies?

SCHNEIDER: Well, former House speaker and Trump ally, Newt Gingrich, he has come out forcefully on this. He tweeted very early this morning. Take a look at this. "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look at who he is hiring. Check FEC reports. Time to rethink."

But, it's notable that it was just last month on May 17th when Gingrich -- he tweeted a very different tune with this saying, "Robert Mueller is a superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down."

[21:10:08] One other note, Anderson, that even with this emerging criticisms of Mueller's team, former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who'd led the investigations into Bill Clinton in the 1990s, he said he has confidence in the team. He said they're complete professionals. And then Starr stressed about Mueller, "Let's let him do his job." Anderson?

COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, appreciate the update.

I want to bring in the panel, David Axelrod, Jeffrey Toobin, David Sanger, Asha Rangappa, Christine Quinn, David Urban, and April Ryan.

David Sanger, let me start with you. The response from the White House on this whole idea of getting rid of Mueller is Chris's his own -- Chris speaks for himself, which, again, is not saying that the president hasn't considered this or is considering this.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It true isn't. It's a real non-denial there and it would suggest that the subject has come up. Everything that we've heard tonight suggests that most people who the president may have heard from on this, and certainly the ones he will hear from, are going to explain that it's a bad idea, that historically it has resonance of the Saturday Night Massacre.

COOPER: Right. Even Chris Ruddy was saying he didn't think it was a good idea.

SANGER: That's right. So that raised a couple of possibilities. One, trial balloon. Second, warning to Mueller that this is under way. I doubt -- Mueller doesn't strike me as the type who intimidates easily, but it could be. Third possibility is that the president really is not attune to what the reaction might be or might be trying to figure that out.

Congressman Schiff may be right that it would result in Congress acting to put together again the special prosecutor law that Congress itself let lapse. But I'm not at all certain that that's right. I mean, it could well be that they will get it and say it really shouldn't have happened, but putting a law back together is too difficult.

COOPER: Asha, I mean, you formally worked at the FBI. Do you think this would intimidate Robert Mueller?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Not the Mueller I know. I worked under Mueller. I didn't work for him personally, but he is a man who I don't think bends to political winds. And I'll point out that he was appointed by George Bush and he also was the head of the FBI and the investigation in the Valerie Plame leak. So, this is someone who, you know, is able to I think be unbiased and objective and has proven that and is the longest serving director of the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover.

COOPER: David Urban, you're obviously a supporter of the president. Would you advise him to fire Robert Mueller?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I wouldn't at all, Anderson. And I don't think Director Mueller -- Director Mueller is a decorated combat veteran from Vietnam, a Marine Corps officer. I don't think he is the type that wilts easily.

But I'll just go back to a point that was raised earlier by Jeffrey Toobin there on the panel about conflicts, whether or not Director Mueller has conflicts in his law firm or whether he has conflicts because of his close personal relationship with Director Comey.

They've been friends for over 15 years. Comey is a star witness here. They've been very, very close allies, battle buddies. I don't know exactly what the terminology has been used in the past. But, you know, there may be an apparent conflict there.

And as well as the -- just the poor optics of hiring attorneys who work on this investigation who have given -- who are purely partisan. I mean, given no money to Republicans and huge amounts of money to Democrats.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, what about that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I just think, you know, particularly two of those prosecutors. You know, Michael Dreeben is perhaps the finest appellate lawyer in America when it comes to criminal law. I mean, this is someone I've seen him argued before the Supreme Court. He's argued something like 100 cases there. The justices lean forward when this guy argues. I mean, this guy is a legend.

Andrew Weissmann who is a former colleague of mine in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn was also the head of the Enron prosecution team. I mean, these people have impeccable credentials. You know, when you look at the Starr --

URBAN: Bad optics though, Jeff. Bad optics.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, the Starr investigation had a bunch of people who gave money to Republicans. I mean, I just think -- you know, let's just let these people do their investigation. He hasn't finished hiring. Presumably he'll hire some other people. But, you know, these people are a lot bigger than single campaign contributions that they gave 10 years ago.

COOPER: David Urban, it's interesting, Chris Ruddy actually made a point kind of arguing along your lines but actually in a different way. He was saying that Mueller -- he believed Mueller actually had some conflicts because he was being -- he had had an interview with President Trump. He was being considered for a job prior to being appointed as special counsel.

And his law firm -- Mueller's law firm, apparently according to Ruddy, has actually represented members of the Trump family. So he thought perhaps he had been privy to information or the thinking of the president that might -- that should disqualify him.

[21:15:10] URBAN: Yeah. I'm not so sure about that, Anderson. But on this network, we heard this week the former assistant director of the FBI for the criminal division say that upon one of the first or second meetings that Director Comey had with the president where he felt uncomfortable or whatever word he used to scribble down his (inaudible), that he should immediately recuse himself because he became a part of the investigation at that point.

And so, what I'm saying and I'm asking Jeffrey is -- and just out loud is does Director Mueller have a conflict because of his close personal relationship with the Starr witness in this investigation?


TOOBIN: I don't think so. I mean, you know, he is the director of the FBI. I mean, they -- that's where -- that's how he got this job. Both of them were directors of the FBI. I just don't think that represents a conflict. I mean, sure they know each other. A lot of people who work together in Washington know each other.

UBRAN: But I think they're more of a mentor, mentee relationship.

TOOBIN: I don't think that's an accurate --

COOPER: David Axelrod, how do you see the idea of the president considering firing or even having --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I agree with Jeffrey and everyone else. And, David, this would increase the level of this crisis by like 100 fold, because every single member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, said at the time of Mueller's appointment, "This is what we need. This is the impartial guy."

You saw Newt Gingrich's tweet. And I think what's happening now is because -- precisely because he is hiring these very, very high powered prosecutors that Jeffrey talks about, there is a sense of nervousness and foreboding about where this might go. And so there's a strategy now afoot to try and sully the investigation as political and to turn it into a Republican/Democrat thing. I think it's very hard to do with a guy like Bob Mueller, frankly.

CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NYC CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: And it's kind of classic Donald Trump and his team, right? This guy is too close to Trump, he can't be the special counsel. He is too close to Hillary and Democrats, he can't be the special counsel.

They know that this guy is going to run a top notch, ethical investigation with some of the top lawyers in the country and they're frightened of that so they're going to just crush from both sides to try to discredit.

COOPER: April Ryan, just very briefly. When you hear that statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Chris Ruddy speaks for himself. As somebody's cover White Houses for a long time, is that as David Sanger was saying a kind of non-denial denial?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But at the say the time, remember last week when Sarah Huckabee said you can't take what the president says with his tweets seriously. And then Sean Spicer comes in saying its official. So we have to wait and see how this all plays out.

But at the end of the day, this president is going to speak for himself no matter who stands before him and just tries to shake or talk to him sense about what this could actually do to the democracy and what it could do to his party, what it could do to the country.

So, we'll have to see what the president says. But I'm sure Chris Ruddy made his points known to the president, but it's ultimately up to the president.

COOPER: All right, more to talk about. Coming up next, did Donald Trump Jr. let a Comey-size cat out of the bag? Let see what he said that -- from his doubt on his father's account of their now famous meeting.

Later, what a big court case from President Trump's past may say about his honesty given his claim this days -- the White House's claim that he is 100 percent willing in his game (ph) that he is 100 percent willing to testify under oath about Comey.


[21:21:48] COOPER: Well, the president says it would not have been wrong to tell James Comey that he hoped the FBI would lay off Michael Flynn. He also denies saying it. However, this weekend, his elder son, Donald Jr., perhaps accidentally or incidentally contradicted his father.


DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: When he tells you to do something, guess what, there's no ambiguity in it. There's no, "Hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job." That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, "Oh, I felt threaten." He felt so threatened. He felt it, but he didn't do anything.


COOPER: And back now with the panel. David Urban, I mean, it does seem like the president's son is directly contradicting his father, President Trump said on Friday that he didn't say, "I hope you can let this go about Flynn."

UBRAN: Yeah. Well, so only two people were in the room, right, the president and Director Comey. And as I've said before on your show, Anderson, in other times, if Director Comey felt so threaten or uncomfortable about it, I think he should have just said to the president, "Mr. President, this is a completely inappropriate discussion for you and I to be having. And I don't feel comfortable about it." And the president would ask him why and he could have explained it. And then -- we've been at the end of it.

COOPER: Right. But is this just a mistake by Donald Trump Jr., because he was tweeting all during the Comey thing so he was listening to that very carefully.

URBAN: Yeah, I believe it's a mistake. I believe it's a mistake and he just, you know, misspoke. I'm not spoken to him, but I believe it's a mistake.

COOPER: David Axelrod, does Donald Trump Jr.'s explanation make sense to you?

AXELROD: Well, let me just say what it says to me is he is kind of a chip off the old block. He shouldn't be talking and -- about this stuff. I mean, someone like an attorney should sit down with the entire Trump family writ large and say, "Folks, we got a problem here. Let's be discreet. Let's not be contradicting each other's stories. Let's not be talking."

And somehow that is beyond the president and apparently beyond his son. You know, he went out there in the interest of defending his father and he complicated things and --

COOPER: April, I mean, how does this White House compare to other White Houses that you've covered over the years? I mean, in terms of their ability to craft a response, in terms of their ability to all be on the same page.

RYAN: Well, I know the Obama administration, the Bush administration, even the Clinton administration would say this is under investigation, they would keep quiet. And this is something we've never seen before. And I'm just this weekend watching former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer go off on Twitter saying, "Mr. Trump, you need to stop because you will perjure yourself."

So -- and I talk to Ari today as a matter of fact, so he said something to the effect they really don't realize what is going on and what can happens with this. So they -- as you say -- as David Axelrod just said, they need to stop because it is now a spiral that they may not be able to stop at all.

COOPER: David Sanger, again, I mean, you covered the White House for "The New York Times" for a long time, how do you see it?

SANGER: Well, there was an interesting line in Donald Trump Jr.'s phraseology there that had the president said it. He might be in less trouble today. It was that line, "But you have to go off and do your job." And had he offered that -- had Comey said that he heard that? Had the president said, "But I added that." Then I think it might have relieved a bit of the pressure, because the question isn't really just the I hope you can interpret whether or not that means you better do this and how to phrase it.

[21:25:13] But if he had said, "At the end of the day, your job is to do your job." I don't think we'd be having this discussion today. I've never seen another presidency do that. In the Clinton White House when April and I were covering that White House, they walled off the Lewinsky investigation from the policy side.

COOPER: David Urban, I know you wanted to get in.

URBAN: Yeah. I would just say that to David -- for your latter point, your second point there, look, I'm in favor. I believe that they should wall off this investigation and never speak about it again and talk about infrastructure, talk about, you know, jobs and apprenticeship programs that they're going to be talking about later this week.

But to your earlier point, there are only two people in that room and we don't know what was said because we only heard from one side. So we don't know the president didn't say what you hoped he had said there at the end.

TOOBIN: But, you know, people like us have been saying, you know, Donald Trump can't say this. He can't say a bad thing about John McCain. He can't say a bad thing about Megyn Kelly. And you know what happened? He got elected President of the United States. And I think he thinks he has a better understanding of the public and public perceptions than people like us. And, you know, who is to say he is wrong?

COOPER: We've got an argument to be made there.

QUINN: And I also -- I think I agree with that. But I also think, you know, what we saw what Donald Trump Jr. there was classic, New York City real estate big guy-ITIS. I'm going to tell my people what to do and they're going to do it.

And that I think is largely the attitude Donald Trump has brought to the White House. It really is kind of bullying, ordering, but also very simplistic. And what you can order in the boardroom is irrelevant to international and national politics.

COOPER: You know, Asha, just going to -- just on Jeff Session's testimony tomorrow. It's going to be interesting because he has no doubt he's going to be asked about the kind of the preamble or the moments before Director Comey was asked to stay in the Oval Office, that Jeff Sessions was there. It was apparently kind of lingering by Director Comey and then the president dismissed him. No doubt we're going to at least theoretically get Jeff Session's perception of that, what happened in the moments before.

RANGAPPA: I think we're going to get -- he is going to be asked about what happened before. And I think even more importantly, he is going to be asked about the conversation that Comey had with him after when Comey said, "You have to make sure that that never happens again."

COOPER: Right. And Comey said he just remained silent.

RANGAPPA: And Session's version of that is very different, because Comey says he stayed silent. Sessions said that he told him to abide by protocol. There's a different version. Another, you know, he said, he said happening there that's going to matter.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. I want to thank everyone in the panel. Coming up, if the president testifies under oath in the Russia investigation, which he said he would do or be willing to do, would he tell the truth?

We're going to take a close look at when he testified in a lawsuit in 2007. He was caught lying multiple times about everything from how much he was paid for a speech to how many employees he had. That's next.


[21:31:00] COOPER: Well, the president has said that he 100 percent be willing to testify under oath that he didn't ask FBI Director James Comey to lay off the investigation to Michael Flynn's ties to Russia. White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week the President is not a liar.

But as a civilian, Donald Trump was caught dozens of times saying things that were not true, caught in a court deposition in a lawsuit that Trump himself filed against a reporter who wrote a book that questions his net worth. Trump sued, which opened the door for him to have to answer questions under oath. Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): December 2007, Donald Trump under oath in a courtroom deposition. And if it was a test of honesty, the future president didn't farewell. Even the simplest of questions turned tough to answer.

Lawyers asked about Trump's boast regarding how much he was paid for a 2005 speech he gave at New York City's Learning Annex. Trump, "I was paid more than$1 million." He'd said the same to Larry King back in 2005.

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE" HOST: You make appearances, you got $1 million. You got $1 million for appearance with the Learning Annex, right?


KAYE (voice-over): But it wasn't. What Trump didn't reveal until he was pressed during the deposition was that more than half of the $1 million he claimed he was paid for that speech was actually just his own estimate of the value of the publicity that came along with it. The lawyer asked, "How much of the payments were cash?" Trump, "Slight, approximately $400,000." Trump was also exposed for not coming clean about his stake in a Manhattan real estate project, which Trump had claimed for a 77-acre project, was 50 percent. The lawyer asked, "Mr. Trump, do you own 30 percent or 50 percent of the limited partnership?" His answer, "I own 30 percent."

After a confusing explanation, he was asked, "Are you saying that real estate community would interpret your interest to be 50 percent, even though in limited partnership agreements it's 30 percent?" "Smart people would," Trump responded.

On the subject of his net worth, author Tim O'Brien wrote in his book that Trump was worth far less than the $5 billion to $6 billion Trump had once claimed. Under oath, Trump was asked, "Have you ever not been truthful about your net worth?" His response was non-committal. "My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings. But I try."

It didn't stop there. In fact, "The Washington Post" found Donald Trump either lied, exaggerate, or told falsehoods a full 30 times on the subject of the number of people working for him.

KING: How many people work for you?

D. TRUMP: Twenty-two thousand or so, different businesses, over 22,000.

KAYE (voice-over): In court, the lawyer asked, "Are all those people on your payroll?" "No, not directly," Trump said. Turns out, he was factoring in employees of other companies that he'd subcontracted.

(on camera): And on his claim, he had zero borrowings from his father's estate, under oath, a different story, "I think a small amount a long time ago. I think it was like in the $9 million range," he told the court.

(voice-over): And about those fees at the Trump's golf courses? Trump had said memberships had been going for $300,000. He was again proven to have stretched the truth when the lawyer questioning him provided an internal document showing the correct figure, $200,000 per membership. Trump was cornered. Correct, he conceded.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And joining us now is "Washington Post" reporter David Fahrenthold, who reported on this extensively last summer. Timothy O'Brien, the author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald". He was the one who was sued by Donald Trump.

I mean, Tim, it's fascinating to see the president, because we've all heard so many of the statements he made, you know, before he was president when he was a real estate developer here in New York, a sort of grandiose statements, to actually see him pinned down under oath and confronted with facts that he can't -- [21:35:02] TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD": With documents from his own business and with, you know, bank filings or tax returns or records of, you know, receipts from fees he got for various services. And he simply -- the way I think my lawyer set it up with him was to ask him a question based on something he had said publicly and then he would attest that that was correct and then they would show him a document that actually showed it wasn't correct. And he'd say, "Oh, right, right." And, of course, that proceeded about 30 times.

COOPER: Did he ever say, "Oh, you're right, I made that up. Or I lied about that," or --

O'BRIEN: You know, he -- no, he never said that. He said, "I interpreted it differently." And the sort of magic and the humor and the crazy in all of this is how he interprets it. At one point, my lawyer said to him, "How do you value how well your golf courses are performing?" And he just sort of walked around and I looked at them.

And my lawyer said, "You don't write it down anywhere? There is no financial audit?" And he said, "No. We don't write it down anywhere." And he goes, "Well, how much -- how do you know how much they are worth?" And he said, "Mental projections. I use mental projections."

And similarly when he is talking about his net worth, he said it depends on how he feels each day. So he sort of introduces this notion that all these things are malleable and they're subject to his own subjective whims, but they're not.

COOPER: And, David, I mean, you've done such extensive reporting on his foundation, on the charitable giving. Is that the kind of -- what you found as well, how he sort of interpreted things?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, the striking thing to me out of all of this was that most people when they tell a falsehood, often they put in some whistle words or some wiggle room, there's some vagueness. Trump was very, very specific in his falsehoods. And I found that in my charity reporting as well.

He'd say, "I'm going to give X amount to charity," and in fact he would give nothing. But he realizes that people put a lot of faith in statements that sound specific and exact and had no problem saying false things that were specific and exact. And because they were exact, we're easily disprovable if anybody ever got a hold of the proof.

COOPER: He also seems to believe in just repeating a falsehood over and over and over again with the idea, I guess, that it's a marketing thing that the more you say it, the more people are kind of rather beaten down by it and just start to believe it or think, "Well, he must be partially true."

FAHRENTHOLD: The interesting thing about this deposition was Trump kept so many things close, hidden in his company. It was so hard to know exactly what his company was doing and whether it was succeeding or failing financially. That was what was so great about this lawsuit.

He sued Tim and sort of in doing so opened the door into his own company that Tim's lawyers could get in and see exactly how this stuff worked. Trump had been going by for so many years on the idea that nobody could actually check what he was saying, and then all of a sudden it all got checked.

COOPER: Tim, its one thing as a private citizen to be saying stuff that's not true and another thing as President of the United States. Do you think Trump -- President Trump realizes that difference that he is in a much deeper pool?

O'BRIEN: I actually don't think he does yet. I think this stuff is so central to who he is. He is so used to -- he's going to be -- on Wednesday, he is going to be 71 years old. He's basically been doing this for the last 50 years or so, and essentially getting away with it.

He is insulated from his own I think prevarications and the stakes by wealth when he was younger and then by celebrity during the "Apprentice" era and now the presidency. And I think -- I don't think he cares in the short-term whether or not he is believed. I think what he cares about is whether or not he is paid attention to on a running basis and if he need to --

COOPER: But that's the fascinating thing. I mean as president, he is automatically paid attention to. It's not like he is fighting for --

O'BRIEN: But it will never be enough. It will never be enough.

COOPER: To get in Cindy Adams' column, you know, he's won. I mean, he has won in so many respects. He is the most powerful guy in the planet.

FAHRENTHOLD: One of the things that struck me about the way he behaved as president, he is borrowing a tactic that he used earlier which was, if he is caught on something like this and he doesn't know how to get out, he gives a time frame and he'll tell you the real truth in a week or two weeks --

COOPER: Two weeks, yeah.

FAHRENTHOLD: -- something like that. Long enough that it sounds close when he says it, but not long enough also that you might forget or get distracted before it actually comes too.

COOPER: That's the idea that people are going to get distracted or something else will come around to supplant that as a story.

FAHRENTHOLD: But how many times -- that's been his way out of a trap is to say, "In two weeks you'll find out."

COOPER: Right. Yeah. David Fahrenthold, thank you so much. Fascinating stuff. Tim O'Brien, I appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Anderson. COOPER: Jeffrey, we're going to have a lot more. Coming up ahead, Melania Trump and son Barron Trump move into the White House nearly five months after President Trump took office. This might change things at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That story in a moment.


[21:41:27] Well, the first family is united under one roof again. Over the weekend, Melania Trump and 11-year-old son Barron moved into the White House. They are back living together fulltime for the first time since the president's inauguration nearly five months ago. And the First Lady could make a big impact moving forward.

More now from CNN's Kate Bennett.


KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was accompanying President Trump on his first trip abroad last month that offered the public its longest and most consistent opportunity to learn more about Mrs. Trump. After wowing international audiences with her style, the First Lady closed the trip with a rare public speech to U.S. military families stationed abroad.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It is because of your selfless commitment that we enjoy the freedoms we have today.

BENNETT (voice-over): Since January, back home in Washington, the First Lady has taken part in official duties when she is able. Hosting the wives of dignitaries --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's beautiful.

M. TRUMP: Thank you very much.

BENNETT (voice-over): -- and making two visits to children's hospital. While on the campaign trail, Melania said she would focus on putting a stop to cyber bullying. However, since the election, she's appeared to back off that cause, focusing speeches instead on women's issues, human trafficking and education.

A White House source today told CNN cyber bullying would still be on the list of issues, just part of her work for children. The source also said the next few weeks could see a rollout of the First Lady's initiatives, the outline of her platform.

Her presence and that of Barron might also fill up some free time for the president, who has been living solo and having a few extra hours to watch the news, ponder politics and, yes, tweet. Now back together, Melania could tell him to put down the phone as she said in an interview last year she's tried to do.

M. TRUMP: Sometimes he listen, sometimes he doesn't.

D. TRUMP: I'm not a big tweeter. I mean, I don't do too many. BENNETT (voice-over): Being a first couple now fulltime, also means Trump might be on better behavior, making sure not to crowd his wife on the red carpet, a reminder of the moment from a couple of stop in Israel where Melania fell behind walking next to her husband and the Netanyahus, which led to the hand swat seen around the world. And remembering to cover his heart for the national anthem, something that took a nudge at the Easter Egg Roll.


COOPER: Kate Bennett joins us now from the White House. Now that she is living in Washington, do we expect to see more of her in official capacity?

BENNETT: We actually do. Her offices are filling up her schedule. She'll be hosting the annual congressional picnic here at the White House later this month. And then next month, she's going to go abroad again with her husband, stopping in Poland and then to the G20 summit in Germany.

COOPER: All right, Kate Bennett. Kate, thanks very much.

Still coming, a navy veteran's new mission, protecting K9 police dogs, the unsung heroes of a police force. You're going to meet my friend Jimmy Hatch, one of CNN's "Champions of Change" next.


[21:46:55] COOPER: All this week CNN is bringing you a special series called "Champions for Change", a chance for us to tell you about incredible people who are dedicating their lives to making a difference in their communities, helping others.

When I got this assignment, I knew just what I wanted to tell you about. You're about to meet someone who I know very well. His name is Jimmy Hatch and he's done some extraordinary things in his life to serve this country. He is not just a friend, but also a personal hero of mine. You will see why.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to step straight back.

COOPER (on camera): You're stepping out. I'm looking toward the plane?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, straight back.

COOPER (on camera): OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can just think about falling.

COOPER (on camera): I really don't want to think about falling, but OK.

(voice-over): If you're friends with Jimmy Hatch, chances are you'll eventually end up here, on a plane climbing to 13,000 feet, about to do something a little crazy. This group in the plane are mostly volunteers. We're all here for a fund-raiser for Jimmy Hatch's charity Spike's K9 Fund, which raises money to help protect the lives of police dogs, buying them custom-made bulletproof vests.

(on camera): Wow, she's fast.


COOPER (voice-over): I first met Jimmy two years ago when I interviewed him for a story. He served in the navy for almost 26 years, most of it as part of a special missions unit with multiple tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Jimmy doesn't like to make a big deal of it, but he has seen a lot of combat in his life and he has done some remarkable things to help protect us. On his last mission in Afghanistan in 2009, Jimmy was critically wounded, shot in the leg by a Taliban fighter while searching for Army Private Bowe Bergdahl.

Jimmy's life was saved partly because of a military dog in his unit named Remco, who was the first to spot the Taliban fighter and the first to come under fire.

HATCH: I watched Remco. I watched his body language. And as it changed, I knew we were getting close to something. And then before I realized what was there, he took a couple rounds to the head with an AK-47 at about six inches.

COOPER (voice-over): Remco was killed and Jimmy nearly lost his leg. He was so badly wounded he had to retire from the navy. But that didn't mean that Jimmy Hatch retire from serving. He found a new mission by founding Spike's K9 Fund, a charity name for the first dog he handled in the military, Spike, who was killed on a mission in Iraq in 2006.

HATCH: For me as a person who handled the dog, it was my duty I felt to make sure that he was protected. And when the dog gets hurt or, you know, killed, you failed.

COOPER (voice-over): Jimmy is now dedicating his life to helping train and protects police and military dogs. Jimmy helps police department K9 units around the country, often posing as a bad guy, a decoy to help train the dogs and get them used to wearing this vest.

[21:50:03] In some situations, police dogs are sent in when it's too risky for a police officer. The dogs find the suspect and grab onto him. It gives police officers valuable time to apprehend him.

Volunteering as a decoy is not glamorous work. Jimmy spends a lot of his time getting bitten by dogs over and over again. This dog is wearing a custom-made bulletproof vest that Spike's K9 Fund got for him. It's lightweight so it doesn't slow the dog down, but it will protect him. It can save his life as well as the life of his human handler. These vests aren't cheap. They cost about $2,500 apiece. All this training helps the dogs and their police handlers get better. And though the dogs look scary, they can actually save a suspect's life, stopping him before he gets shot or Tasered. The better trained the dogs are, the safer everyone is.

HATCH: Training is how, just like when I was in the military, it's the same thing, you train, train, train, train, and your odds of success go up.

COOPER: Spike's K9 Fund is a small charity. Jimmy runs it along with his director of operations, Emily Soccino.

EMILY SOCCINO, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, SPIKE'S K9 FUND: Currently, we've helped dogs in 26 different states and I would like the whole map to be lit up with dogs that we've helped.

COOPER: Their office is Jimmy's kitchen table when the heat overhead low. Jimmy says more than 80 percent of the money donated goes to dogs' vests and medical expenses, which sometimes aren't covered by local police departments. He's gotten vests for at least 288 police dogs so far. By the end of the year, he'd like to be able to say he's outfitted at least 500 police dogs.

Last month, I met up with Jimmy when he was working with the Norfolk Police K9 Unit.

HATCH: Anderson, come on in here. Listen to this dog, man. See how he keeps biting to get deeper?

COOPER: One of their police dogs, Krijger, was shot to death in 2016. And through Spike's K9 Fund, I was able to help get bulletproof vests for a number of police dogs in the area. Officer Ryan McNiff was Krijger's partner.

RYAN MCNIFF, POLIC OFFICER, NORFOLK POLICE DEPARTMENT: So this guy right here was named in honor of Anderson Cooper as Stacey.

COOPER: Thanks to Spike's K9 Fund, Officer McNiff's new K9 partner has the vest that Krijger did not.

HATCH: That's cool if he's wearing the vest that you've provided for the dogs. So that's a bulletproof vest and he wears it to work every day.

COOPER: Jimmy somehow convinced me to suit up so I could experience the power and discipline of these dogs.

HATCH: I got him.

COOPER (on camera): I'm good. I'm great.

HATCH: Come on, let's get up. You feel how intimate that is?

COOPER (on camera): Yeah.

HATCH: He's talking to you. COOPER (on camera): They should be unsung heroes of the police force.

HATCH: Indeed, for sure. They're not really on the spreadsheet when it's concerned for budget. They're actually pretty expensive.

COOPER (on camera): So often in a police force's budget with all the limited resources they have, the dogs are pretty low on the list.

HATCH: Right.

COOPER (voice-over): Since Spike's K9 Fund is so small, they need donations to keep going. Jimmy asked me to attend a fundraiser in Norfolk in May.

(on camera): You can make a huge difference in the life of this organization and you can actually see the difference you make. You can see the vests that you buy that are on the dogs that are helping to protect them every single day. And that's just an amazing, amazing feeling.

(voice-over): One thing I wasn't all that keen on doing this weekend was skydiving. I'm afraid of heights, but Jimmy has a way of convincing you to do things.

HATCH: Whoa. Yeah, man.

COOPER (on camera): That was intense. That was intense. Getting out of the airplane is just the most -- it's so unnatural. It's so, like, holy (inaudible).

(voice-over): Jimmy Hatch is no longer wearing a uniform, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing to serve our country. And it hasn't stopped him from continuing to fight to keep all of us safe.


COOPER: He's an incredible guy. If you want to find out more about Jimmy's charity, go to

The CNN and HLN anchors are going to be bringing you the causes closed to their hearts all week long. So for more details, you can go to Don Lemon will have our next "Champions for Change" report tonight in the 11:00 hour.

Up next, marking a solemn anniversary, we remember those who were killed at Pulse nightclub shooting one year later.


[21:59:00] COOPER: We end the program tonight marking a very solemn milestone. One year ago, 49 people were murdered at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The youngest victim was 18 years old, the oldest was 50. They were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives. They were all taken from this world far too soon. Tonight their loved ones, survivors of the attack, first responders from that night and the people of Orlando are mourning the 49 and celebrating their lives. Their ceremony is just about to get under way at Pulse nightclub, what is now considered sacred ground. Stay with CNN for continuing coverage of that event at Pulse.

Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, President Trump considering whether to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon. That word coming from a close friend of the president. I will speak to that friend very shortly, so stay tuned.

[22:00:02] Attorney General Jeff Sessions now just hours away from testifying in public before a Senate committee investigating Russia's meddling in the election. It will be the first time he testifies in Congress just recusing himself from the Justice Department Russia probe.