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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trumps Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign with 1st Fundraiser; Sources: Administration Officials Frustrated Trump Unconcerned with Russian Election Meddling; Trump Promises "Big Surprise" on Health Care. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 28, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, the president is running for re-election. He's at his first 2020 campaign fund-raiser. No president has ever had one so early in his first term. In fact, both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush waited until the third year of their presidencies before even filing for re-election.
At least part of the reason for holding the event, according to one Republican affiliated with the Trump campaign, is to, quote, help show that he's not going anywhere. It's happening at his own hotel in Washington, which he and his family still have a financial stake in, which we'll talk about shortly, with the former ethics advisor to President George W. Bush.
And contrary to what the White House promised, as recently as this afternoon, tonight's event is now taking place entirely behind closed doors. No reporters, no cameras. Just as there were no cameras again today at the White House press briefing, just as the GOP Senate health care bill was drafted and is being redrafted in secret, we have new reporting on that tonight, including the big surprise the president is promising.
We have exclusive reporting on frustration inside the White House that the president seems almost in denial about the Russian threat to the next elections, lest it throw doubt on his 2016 victory.
So, a big night of news ahead. It starts outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
So, talk about what's going on in this event behind you and why it's closed to the press now, all of a sudden.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, you'll have to excuse me, there's a lot of noise around here right now because of the protesters who are outside Trump Hotel while the president is inside delivering remarks to donors right now.
Now, the event is closed to the press. That has been much debated today. We started out this morning with the event being closed to the press and when Sarah Sanders, the deputy press secretary, was pushed on this during the off-camera gaggle today, she said it was because this is a political event and they were keeping it separate. But then with some prodding from the press, they decided to allow a few pen and pad reporters in and one camera. And then, two hours later, they changed their minds.
So, there's no press inside this event right now. We have no idea what the president is saying to his donors, and we likely won't find out unless one of the donors tells us.
COOPER: How much if anything is the Trump Hotel getting paid to host this event? Do we know? I know you were asking some questions about that.
COLLINS: That's a great question. We have no idea who is paying for this event tonight that the president is attending. We reached out for comment, and our answers have not -- our requests have not been answered.
So, it could be the RNC. It could be the re-election campaign, and it could be that the hotel donated the space. We don't know.
COOPER: Is it normal for a president to hold a fundraiser for his re- election only five months after taking office? We mentioned that -- I mean, Presidents Obama and George W. Bush -- they didn't do it for another two years.
COLLINS: Yes, we are campaigning in 2017 for the 2020 elections, even though Donald Trump was just inaugurated not very far from where I'm standing right now less than six months ago. This is the earliest we've ever seen a president hold a re-election fund-raiser. And the president is getting started early.
But for Donald Trump, it's like the campaign never ended. He's held five rallies since he took office in January, and all of those in states where he won, and we know how Donald Trump is in his rallies. He loves, you know, the crowds and the chants and what-not. And it's like the campaign is never over for him.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate you being there. Thanks very much.
Let's bring in David Gergen, Kirsten Powers and David Chalian.
David, I mean, it is incredible, a president only five months into his first time who has historically low approval rating amid investigation fund-raising for re-election at a hotel owned by his family to boot. On the one hand, it's raising questions. But it's also pretty smart just in terms of sending a message to people that he's not going anywhere.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. Each one of those clauses in your question is sort of unprecedented and remarkable in and of itself. Put it all together and once again, Donald Trump is sort of redefining how to be president.
The timing is certainly noteworthy, that it is only -- he hasn't even hit the six-month mark yet in office and he's doing this. I went back to look at the first fund-raiser that George W. Bush did in 2003, 2 1/2 years into his administration. And the first fund-raiser that Barack Obama did in 2011 just to see what they said.
And, Anderson, their quotes from those fundraisers were about touting accomplishments that they had done in the first couple of years, starting to set the frame and the narrative for what they were going to campaign on for re-election. When you're not in the job six months yet, you're far away from being able to sort of tout a list of accomplishments, or think about how the voters may start thinking about your re-election contest.
So, that is one marked difference. Obviously, we won't know what Donald Trump says tonight because this is closed to the press, unlike his two predecessors.
COOPER: But, David, it's a fair bet he is going to tout what he says are his accomplishments, which he has touted before, which he says he signed more bills than any president since FDR. You can quibble about what those bills actually said, some of them are -- you know, perhaps not what people, you know, were really following, because some of them were just low-level bills.
[20:05:09] DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Is that to the other David?
COOPER: I'm sorry. That was -- it doesn't matter. David Gergen, I mean, clearly, the president is going to tout what he believes are his accomplishments, David Gergen.
GERGEN: Absolutely. Of course, of course. But, unfortunately, he doesn't have any major legislative victories. He does have the Gorsuch victory and that's turning out well from a conservative standpoint.
But, I don't -- listen, this is giving fresh meaning to the phrase permanent campaign. You would think tonight that the president would be scrambling, doing everything he could to rescue the health care reform bill, which is now in serious trouble in the Senate, as we know.
But we're 159 days since his inauguration. We're 1,224 days until the next election. You would think the emphasis would be on trying to be a good president right now and then let the re-election take care of itself down the road.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, how much of this is about trying to send a message to fellow Republicans considering a primary challenge down the road or, you know, to opponents who think he doesn't want to run for re-election again?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, even if he's going to -- if someone is going to run a primary against him, doing things like this wouldn't stop them, right? I think the idea that he would feel that he needs to send that kind of message is sort of odd.
I mean, I'm just going to say it, it's too soon. And it's just -- it's not appropriate. He was elected to be president. He should be governing.
And it's clear that he likes the campaigning side a little more than he likes the governing side. He's been criticized this week for not really -- by senators who met with him for not really seeming to know the details of this very important health care bill and instead he's putting his energy into spending time with people who love him, his donors that -- and in other times, he's spending time doing these rallies. And the rallies are also very unusual to be doing so early in his first term.
COOPER: Yes. David Chalian, I mean, you know, there have been criticisms of past administrations about kind of campaigns never ending. This is taking it to another level.
CHALIAN: It is. But I don't think it should surprise any of us. He campaigned for the job last year in completely new ways that we had never seen somebody do before and lots of people thought, oh my God, he's breaking every rule that we know about presidential politics and it worked for him. So, it doesn't surprise me to see him breaking these rules.
I mean, I -- on inauguration day is when he filed his re-election committee with the FEC. He's been doing online small dollar fund- raising the entire length of his presidency thus far, and as Kaitlan mentioned earlier, he's done a bunch of campaign rallies, that his campaign has paid for already.
So, he's definitely decided that the permanent campaign is not only his comfort zone, but it is where he thinks he excels. I agree, this isn't going to necessarily ward off a primary challenge. The thing that will do that is if his poll numbers are better than they are now two years from now. That will sort of determine how many people come out of the woodwork of his own party to decide if he is truly beatable.
COOPER: David Gergen, how -- I mean, why would they not allow even a pool camera in, given that, you know, the president certainly likes coverage? He likes coverage of the rallies that he gives, and this is certainly a favorable crowd that he's going to be speaking to.
GERGEN: Yes. I think a couple of things. He seems to be doing a lot of this, because this is the one steady place he gets adulation. You know, he can count on, if he's in front of these donors, he's in front of his base, he's getting a lot of adulation and he seems to feed off that.
Why they would close this to the press is part of the continuing mystery why they've become so secretive. I think it's really -- I think it's hurting them. I think it's backfired on them.
Had they had more transparency about putting together that health care bill in the Senate, there wouldn't have been Republican senators say, listen, this was done in the dark and I think hurt the bill itself. It's now, you know, only has about 20 percent of support in the country according to recent polls. But this obsession with taking -- banging the heads of the press, they
reportedly took real delight when CNN, when three reporters had made a mistake, CNN owned up to it, and three reporters left. And, you know, they owned up to the mistake.
When is it that the Trump people are going to own up to the things they've said that are wrong? We may wait a long time even past the next election for that.
COOPER: Kirsten, there's also the question of money being paid to the Trump Hotel. I mean, it's very possible that the president is financially benefiting from this event, which is a fund-raiser for his re-election, but if they have to rent out the hall of the president's hotel, the president and his family benefits from that financially. Again, we haven't had answers about the economics of this.
[20:10:00] POWERS: Well, right. I mean, we've gotten little details about this. And now that press aren't going to be in there, we're going to get even fewer details. Though, eventually, presumably, they'll have to release at least how much, you know, the campaign paid out for this event, and they have to make sure they didn't pay too much or too little, because either of those things could get them into trouble, because this is something that the president has a financial interest in.
So if they paid too little, it could look like they were, you know, getting some sort of contribution. If they paid too much, it could look like they were trying to use money to help enrich a Trump property, which enriches the family. So, and then at a minimum, of course, even if everything is on the up and up, it's still inappropriate, because the president is, you know, using his role as president of the United States to gain attention for a property that he enriches himself from.
Kirsten Powers, David Gergen, David Chalian, thanks.
We have a lot more to talk about tonight, including the threat that apparently dare not speak its name. What we're learning from inside the White House no less about why there's so much resistance to actually addressing the Russian hacking threat, to the point that the president's own advisers are getting frustrated. The reporting on that ahead.
And later, what did the president mean when he promised a big surprise on health care and how does it fit a pattern of promise making dating back years before becoming president?
[20:15:06] COOPER: We've been reporting recently and extensively on how little beyond a single executive order the Trump administration has done to address the hacking threat from Russia. You know, supporters attached a lot of significance to the executive order, which calls on agencies of the federal government to devise action plans for beefing up cybersecurity and gives the Defense Department greater responsibility for addressing the threat.
However, it doesn't mention Russia by name and again, it appears to be pretty much all that the administration has done. This is something top members of the intelligence community, both past and present, have warned is a real danger. They've said on the record and behind closed doors that Russia hacking efforts are active, ongoing and potentially capable of far worse in the next election.
It's also a threat that just today, the president's own homeland security secretary warned about calling election hacking, quote, the way of the future. Still, though, it seems little action from the White House. In fact, there seems to be out and out resistance.
Tonight, we're getting new reporting on why that may be. Specifically, who is standing in the way?
CNN's Dana Bash and Sara Murray did the reporting. Sara Murray joins us now.
So, what have you learned from inside the White House?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, speaking to multiple senior administration officials, they say they're struggling to convince President Trump that Russia still poses a threat to the integrity of America's elections. In fact, one official told me there's, quote, no evidence to show that Trump is actively engaging on the issue.
The president still gets a daily briefing, and, of course, that includes updates on Russia. But beyond that, an administration official says there's no paper trail, no schedules, no readouts, no briefing documents, really nothing to indicate the president is convening meetings or roundtables on this subject the way he has with other threats, for instance, threats against the U.S. power grid.
Now, on top of that, sources tell my colleagues Dana Bash and Jim Sciutto that National Security Agency director, Mike Rogers, actually expressed his frustration to lawmakers that he can't convince President Trump to accept U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election.
COOPER: So, top officials have called this a major threat. Why would the president be reluctant to address it?
MURRAY: Well, Anderson, people who have spoken to that president about this say he's really struggling to separate the investigation into his campaign's possible collusion with Russian from this investigation into Russia's meddling in the election itself. So, one source close to the president said Trump sees everything regarding Russia as being organized as a challenge to him, basically a move to undermine his presidency.
COOPER: Has the White House responded to this at all?
MURRAY: Well, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted to me that Trump is taking this threat seriously and he says the White House is taking action, but they're just doing it quietly. Now, in a statement to CNN, Spicer says: The United States continues to combat on a regular basis malicious cyber activity and will continue to do so without bragging to the media or defending itself against unfair media criticism.
Now, Spicer also pointed to the fact that the Trump administration has upheld the Obama administration sanctions against Russia. But congressional sources say the White House is already trying to water down an additional package of sanctions that's already passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.
COOPER: All right. Sarah Murray, thanks.
Now, in testimony today before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former Bush State Department official Nicholas Burns accused the president of dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country -- those are his words -- for his apparent disinterest in Russian meddling. He also criticized the Obama administration.
Nicholas Burns joins, along with CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, President Trump did sign an order on cyber security. But is there any evidence that he's, you know, focused directly on the threat from Russia itself?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, little evidence that he's focused on the threat. We're hearing that from people inside his own administration. And I've spoken to both Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who say they don't see the level of urgency either.
And this is not just looking backwards but particularly looking forward, Anderson, because everybody says, not just Russia, but China, Iran, North Korea, very actively targeting the U.S. political process, political organizations, et cetera. And there is no reason to believe that Russia in particular will not attack again.
And the big concern, Anderson, is that this time, they will take the alarming step of targeting voter tallies. That didn't happen in 2016, but there's real concern a lot of these probing attacks or at least laying the groundwork for going after voting systems, actually vote- counting potentially in 2018 and 2020.
COOPER: Ambassador Burns, in your testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee today, you said if the president continues to refuse to act against Russian hacking is, quote, a dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country. Is the executive order he signed, is that not a good first step?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. UNDER SECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: It's a good first step. It's six months into his presidency.
But, Anderson, we were the victim of a massive systematic cyber attack by the Russian government, the Russian intelligence services. All of our intelligence services agree on that. And for six months, the president has done literally nothing. He has
not initiated an investigation of what happened.
[20:20:02] He's not had conversations with his cabinet officials to ask them what they think happened. He's not been talking to the European governments, also victims, the French, the Dutch, the Montenegrins, the Germans of Russian cyber attacks. He's not even in favor of a Senate bill that would by 97-2 voted to impose harsh sanctions on Russia, the administration is trying to dilute that bill.
So, you literally have no response from the American president on a critical issue of a defense of the United States and trying to protect our democratic process. I can't imagine any prior president acting this way. And so, we do need to see this situation turned around. Let's hope that this executive order is the first step to do that.
COOPER: Jim, I mean, today, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly said election hacking is, quote, the way of the future. How much can intelligence agencies drive U.S. efforts to combat that if the president isn't devoting his time to it?
SCIUTTO: Listen, it's an open question, because the intelligence agencies, and law enforcement have been really doing all they can. They did it in private. They've been giving these warnings for months, going back to the Obama administration.
And then in public, you've had very public statements, you know, fingering Russia for the election hacking during the 2016 campaign. But now, public testimony, more details about how many states, 21 states that have been targeted. Secretary Kelly, this is President Trump's rather own appointee as DHS secretary, sounding the alarm today.
So in public and private, they are giving these warnings. And, you know, this is at its base often very much a partisan issue. But I'll tell you, I hear bipartisan level of concern, but also increasingly a bipartisan frustration with the efforts coming from the White House so far.
COOPER: So, Ambassador Burns, if they had the weight of the White House behind them, how much would that change things for the intelligence community, do you think, in terms of doing something?
BURNS: I think it would help enormously. There's so much that has to be done. You have to raise the defense of this country, and that's complicated because it's our states and local authorities who run the elections, so you have to have that dialogue, a federal, local, state dialogue, number one.
Number two, you want to send a stiff message to the Russian Federation that we're not going to tolerate this kind of action, attack on our own country, and that there will be retribution. You want to work with the Europeans to tighten up what the NATO alliance can do. You want to try to prosecute hackers, find them and prosecute them, if the Russian government is subcontracting this to some of the private hacking organizations in that country. There's so much that has to be done. This should have been the first
executive order signed on January 20th. You ought to -- they ought to think about forming a 9/11-type commission, because there's nothing more important that the American people have confidence in their votes when they go to the ballot box, either for the midterm elections in 2018 or the next presidential election in 2020.
COOPER: All right. Ambassador Burns, Jim Sciutto, appreciate it. Thanks.
BURNS: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, the president is promising a big surprise on the Obamacare replacement bill. We're going to look at what it might be, as well as his habit of telling us to stay tuned for something, and then not necessarily delivering. We're keeping them honest on that, next.
[20:26:41] COOPER: Before the president got ready to go to his closed door off-camera fund-raiser tonight at the hotel bearing his name, he made some remarks for the cameras about the stalled Senate Obamacare replacement bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Health care is working along very well. We're going to have a big surprise with a great health care package. So, now, they're happy.
REPORTER: What do you mean by big surprise, sir?
TRUMP: You're going to have a great, great surprise. It's going to be great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Leaving aside for a moment that surprise might be the last thing people with health care needs -- might want to hear, let alone experience, the president made a point of putting it out there, and who knows a surprise might actually be coming. Whether that's good or bad, of course, remains to be seen.
What's clear, though, is that Donald Trump certainly enjoys telling us all to stay tuned. We've heard that phrase a lot.
And "Keeping Them Honest", we've seen him fail to deliver on schedule or in some cases at all. Here's a small sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to be announcing something I would say over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal.
We're going to do construction very quickly. We've got the plan largely completed and we'll be filing over the next two or three weeks, maybe sooner.
We're going to have some very pleasant surprises for you on NAFTA.
We're going to surprise you.
So, she's going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks.
We're going to be having a news conference in about two weeks to let everybody know how well we're doing.
INTERVIEWER: You have people now down there searching?
INTERVIEWER: I mean, in Hawaii --
TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they're finding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: On that subject, President Obama's citizenship, we never got word on what his investigators found. In fact, according to our own investigation, there was no evidence that those investigators existed or were on the ground.
Fast forward to now, what the president is promising, you have to wonder whether the real surprise will be that there is no surprise, whether anticipation will give away to anticiappointment, something Donald Trump once warned about on page 38 of the book that Tony Schwartz wrote for him.
You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.
Joining us now with more from the White House, CNN's Jim Acosta.
This, quote, great, great surprise, do we have any idea what we may actually be referring to?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're going have to find out. If it's something like those tapes that he talked about having, which did not exist about six weeks ago, we had to wait six weeks to find out the president did not have any recordings over here at the White House.
But I am told by one Republican source who talks to officials over here at the White House that president is looking at a variety of ways to try to make this work, to try to get those 50 votes that he needs to get this bill out of the Senate. But that same source, Anderson, said that it's also suspected that this might be another case of empty rhetoric.
And, keep in mind, Anderson, this is a -- this is a health care bill. We had a number of polls come out today, all of them, if you average them together, show that this has about 20 to 25 percent approval among the American people. Those are legislative dog food numbers.
And to think that you're going to have 50 Republican senators, some of whom are up for re-election next year who are going to sign on to this, that might be wishful thinking. He might be in for a big surprise of his own, Anderson.
COOPER: Should we expect more efforts by the president, more face-to- face interaction between the president and senators, or him working the phones, which, you know, we saw some yesterday held that meeting for senators. We've been told he's been working the phones.
ACOSTA: He has been working the phones. He's going to continue to work the phones, according to White House officials. The question is, whether or not he can make the math work, and part of the issue is, Anderson, and you know we've been talking about this debate for several days now, can he make adjustments or can they make adjustments or can they make adjustments to the bill that satisfy moderates when it comes to Medicaid funding while at the same time appeasing conservatives who really want to repeal and replace Obamacare just begs the question how many times can they rinse and repeat on repeal and replace.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jim Acosta, I appreciate the update from the White House. On that new polling tonight, here the specifics, the most recent is from Fox News, showing just 27 percent support, 54 percent opposition, 18 percent say they are ensure. This is about the Senate health plan. And that's the rosiest support in the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll that's at 17 percent, 16 percent of the (INAUDIBLE) poll.
Back now with CNN Political director David Chalian. Does anyone know what the President is telegraphing, David, when he promising a big surprise on health care?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I can't find anyone that knows. Certainly the White House isn't saying as Jim just mentioned to you, nobody on Capitol Hill seems to know some surprise up there (ph). Some Republicans on the Hill were feeling a bit more optimistic today than yesterday. Although there's not much evidence as to why they should feel that way, other than the fact that yesterday McConnell had to set -- hit the pause button and reset. So it was a down day for Republicans on the Hill. But I can't find anyone that knows of a surprise coming. And as you pointed out, Anderson, Donald Trump has a history of being sort of addicted to a big reveal promoting one, even if one never actually comes.
COOPER: Although, you know, I mean, to be fair in the -- when the House was debating this, there was a lot of talk that they weren't going to be able to come to some sort of agreement. They did finally come to an agreement. I mean, the President could just be saying a surprise is, you know, maybe he thinks the chances are, you know, that they will come to some sort of agreement and then people will be surprised by that, whether or not he knows they will at the stage.
But, I want to play something that Republican Senator Susan Collins said yesterday about how the President is adapting to Washington. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN COLLINS, (R) SENATOR, MAINE: This President is the first President in our history who has had neither political nor military experience. And that's -- it has been a challenge to him to learn how to interact with Congress and how to push his agenda forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, David, I think that supporters are listening to that and they very well like the fact that he is, you know, not a creature of Washington. To Senator Collins' point that he needs to be able to work with Congress if he wants to get his agenda accomplish his, I suppose there's truth to that.
CHALIAN: Well, there are certainly truth to what his saying. And you're absolutely right. He was sent to Washington to disrupt Washington in the way Washington works. There's no doubt about that. I would just point you, Anderson, if you look at the totality of the Trump presidency so far, I would say the cleanest victory he has had throughout his presidency is getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. And I think he followed the most Washington Playbook in doing that. Yet, put out a list during the campaign of potential Supreme Court nominees for everyone to look at and vet. And then he made sure to nominate from that list, so he had buy-in from all the outside groups and the Republicans on the Hill and he was able to get his guy on the court. He followed a traditional playbook and that was his biggest success actually.
COOPER: Senator Chuck Schumer said today, he'd like the Democrats to come to the White House too so they can work on this bill as well. Any chance that might happen?
CHALIAN: You know, it's hard to see that happening right now. Why? If you're a Democrat, would you all of a sudden decide that working with the Republican president who beats up on you every day and who's down in 35 to 39 percent approval rating would be a good idea? I don't think there's a political incentive for them to do it. Their own base would be enraged if they did, because they're fueled by anti- Trump fervor.
And Mitch McConnell himself said, you know, if we have to work with the Democrats, it means we're not going to get the reforms we want in health care. So I don't think Republicans would be that eager for that kind of help either.
COOPER: David Chalian, thanks.
Coming up, first much as the President likes to talk about what he considers fake news but he doesn't seem to have any problems with fake magazine cover. Frame copies of a fake time magazine featuring his pictures into exclamation points. We found adoring the walls at several Trump properties. David Fahrenthold at "The Washington Post" discovered this kind of just weird story. We'll hear from him, next.
[20:38:18] COOPER: The "Apprentice" is a television smash! TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS, EVEN TV! If those headlines sound a little exuberant for a cover of TIME magazine, that's because they're fake. The entire coverage marks first 2009, featuring a picture of the President is fake. And it's hanging on the walls of multiple Trump properties. The magazine has asked the Trump organization to take the phony cover down. The real question is how and why it was ever put up there in the first place. David Fahrenthold at "The Washington Post" brought the story. He joins me now along with Michael D'Antonio author of "The truth about trump."
I mean, David, this is just weird. First of all, Donald Trump has been on plenty of magazine covers, they don't need to put fake ones up. Why -- I mean, how did you figure out it was fake in the first place?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I happened to be at a Trump club and I walk by and saw this thing. And it just looked off. The boarders on the red border on "TIME" magazine was too thin, the typography was a little weird and as you said, the headlines are just sort of cheerleader. You don't have a red "TIME" magazine covers story. This guy is doing great! And that was the tone of this cover. It just looked off. So I took a picture of it and then called "TIME" magazine and they confirmed, yes, it was fake.
COOPER: And it's not just a one off, it seems like there are multiple copies of this displayed at other Trump properties, including ones overseas, right?
FAHRENTHOLD: Right. We found it now, pictures at of it at eight different clubs. Seven golf clubs, including two overseas in Ireland and Scottland, near the front entrance of Mar-a-Lago, and just today, we find the picture of it in 2012 sitting in Trump's office in Trump Tower.
COOPER: Michael, I mean, does this make any sense to you? I mean, President Trump has been on the cover of "TIME" 14 previous times. Why not just display the real ones? Obviously maybe not as, you know, favorable mentions as this fake one, but why would he need a fake cover boasting about him frame up of his properties?
[20:40:12] MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Well, there are probably a couple of things going on here. One is that there isn't ever enough praise for Mr. Trump, and I think the normal headline that would appear in "TIME" magazine would be insufficient for him. But I also think that this could be a case of someone trying to please him.
You know, there is an expectation around the Trump orbit of constantly making the extra effort to have him look good, have him look even more accomplished than he might be. And so someone could have gotten carried away with what they thought was a good idea. And it's almost as if once you put it out there, how do you take it down? You know, everybody gets accustomed to seeing this. But kudos to David for noticing this and using his reporter's instincts to note it and follow up on it, because once you get a good look at it, he looks better than I think any magazine editor would allow him to look. Because it's almost like a wax figure representation of Donald Trump. And the headlines are way over the top.
COOPER: But, I mean, David, it's not just somebody in one of his clubs like mocking this up to praise, you know, the boss. These were clearly sent around to multiple clubs.
FAHRENTHOLD: That's right. And it wasn't just sort of passed out at one time either. There are clubs like the one in Ireland and Scotland that he only bought in the last couple of years. So they were redecorated and sort of trumpiified only very recently and had this included on their decor. So it wasn't just something he did want, and then he forgot about. They were making an effort as they opened new clubs, this was sort of part of the stuff that you added when you redecorated the club in the Trump style.
COOPER: I mean, obviously, you know, people are being critical of the story that it's, you know, it's a minor thing. But it does -- I mean, if President Trump or even citizen Trump at the time knew about it, it does say something about his personality or what he likes. Do we know, did the President know about it?
FAHRENTHOLD: We don't. I asked the White House that very question and I asked the Trump organization the same question and they wouldn't say. One thing that was interesting to me, you would think? Well, of course, obviously he must have known it was fake. You know, how could he not know, you know, that he wasn't on the cover of "TIME" magazine. But I found this interview from July 26, middle of last year's campaign where Trump is talking about how much bigger politics is to business. He says -- we know I've been on the cover of "TIME" magazine a lot as a politician, but when I was a businessman all those years I was a businessman, I was on the cover twice. Or really he was only on the cover once in 1989. So it seems like there, he might have been mentally counting this fake cover as a real one. And certainly he displayed it alongside real magazine cover in this clubs. So it's possible that Trump was not even in on the joke that he thought it was real and somebody else had fooled him.
COOPER: Michael, I mean, do you think as some are saying that this just underscores how deeply the President wants and needs the attention of the media and praise? I mean, despite all this anti- media rhetoric, he consumes more media than anyone at his level that I've ever heard of.
D'ANTONIO: Well, he consumes more. But he also actually produces more. If you think about the activities of his life, they've really revolve around publicity seeking that far exceeds the developments that he's built or the golf courses he's developed. So you've got to think he's a headline writer going way back. Twitter is his version I think of tabloid newspaper headlines. So he produces it. He wants to appear in the media constantly. And I think until the presidency, this was a measure of success for him.
The problem, as Senator Collins mentioned in your previous piece, is that he has to learn how to be the President now and achieve actual things, and that's a much different thing from ginning up a fake "TIME" magazine cover or seeking awards, which he also did quite avidly, from organizations that he created. So it's a steep learning curve for man who's background is promotion.
COOPER: David, I mean, we mentioned that "TIME" magazine asked the Trump organization to take them down. Do we know, have they?
FAHRENTHOLD: I have heard from somebody at a Trump club in Virginia. That one has been taken down. I don't know about the rest. A lot of this things are at private clubs. It's hard to get and to see them. We know from people's photos in the past that they were there. And we're trying to figure if it had come down. The Trump organization has not answered any questions about this. One thing that just going off the other point, these clubs are nice. In fact, the clubs themselves are signs of success. You couldn't be successful, to own a club like this you need to be successful. And yet they felt the need to add a little bit extra add, kind of a phony trophy on top of something that by itself was a sign of Trump's success.
[20:45:10] COOPER: That's interesting. David Fahrenthold, Michael D'Antonio, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
Up next, the President's obsession with the media rages on. At the last on camera press briefing, the deputy White House Press Secretary lashed out at the room and a reporter said enough is enough. He joins us next.
COOPER: President Trump and some of his supporters declared war on the media long before he was inaugurated, and there are no signs that battle is slowing down. Right now the President is holding his first fund-raiser for his re-election campaign, an event at his own hotel in Washington. And reporters were supposed to be allowed but then they weren't. certainly this is a pattern. The President has been tweeting for incessantly about what he considers as fake news. This network, "The New York Times," others on any given day.
Today's White House Press Briefing was off camera. But yesterday Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was on camera and spoke about what she called a constant barrage of fake news directed at the President. Then had this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: If we make the slightest mistake, the slightest word is off, it is just an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room. But news outlets get to go on day after day and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources, have, you know -- you mentioned the Scaramucci story where they had to have reporters resign. [20:50:13] BRIAN KAREM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SENTINEL NEWSPAPERS: Come on. You're inflaming everybody right here and right now with those words. This administration has done that as well.
Why in the name of heaven? Any one of us, right, are replaceable and any one of us if we don't get it right the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us.
SANDERS: I think, I think --
KAREM: You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There's no option other than that.
SANDERS: I think --
KAREM: We're here to ask you questions.
KAREM: You're here to provide the answers and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, see, once again, the President is right and everybody else out here is fake media. And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.
SANDERS: I disagree completely. First of all I think if anything has been inflamed it's the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was Brian Karem who stood up to Deputy Press Secretary. He is Executive Editor of Sentinel Newspapers. Brian joins me now along with two other reporters who are quite familiar with the White House briefing room, April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks and CNN's Jim Acosta. Brian, let me start with you, why did you feel the need to speak up yesterday?
KAREM: Jim wasn't there. Somebody had to do it. It was -- all I can say is that it was very frustrating. That was the first on-camera interview in a week with the press secretary. She came out and the first thing she did was blast the media. It was on purpose. It was planned. And you know, Jim and April probably know me well enough to know there is a very little filter between what I think and what I say. And I was quite upset about it and so I voiced my concern.
I am tired of -- look, every one of us knows reporters that have been bullied, have been hurt, some have died, some have been jailed to try and do this job. And they went after CNN specifically but they went after all reporters generically. At the same time, Sarah is telling us to look at a video that isn't vetted and is fake media and lamb blasting us for being fake media. It's just disingenuous. And at some point in time I, you know, I taught my kids there's only two ways to deal with a bully, you either make them your friend or you're going to have to thump them one and let him know he can't be pushed around. And I'm tired of being pushed around. COOPER: You know, Jim, I mean the incident that she started talking about, which is -- I assume it was CNN, three employees resigned over it and there, you know, there were repercussions for errors that they made. Has anyone in this White House given all the lies or untrue statements? I mean has anyone's had actually -- has anyone had to resign based on, you know.
ACOSTA: Anderson, no. When president founded birtherism and perpetuated the myth that President Obama was born in another country and nobody resigned. When he came out and said his inauguration crowd size was bigger than President Obama's, nobody had to resign. When he said that Obama wire tapped him at Trump Tower, nobody had to resign. When he said that he may have tapes of his conversations with Jim Comey, nobody had to resign. It seems for this White House, when it comes to fake news, nobody ever gets in trouble, namely the President.
And I think Brian is exactly right. I appreciate him speaking up yesterday. I think more of us are going to be speaking up in the days to come. It's funny, the off-camera briefing happened on Monday. We had one on-camera on Tuesday and then off-camera one today. And yet the one yesterday is the one where they lash out at the news media. I don't know how the --
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes, I wonder how that happened.
ACOSTA: I don't know how the emoji goes. But I would put that emoji to use in this case, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean we should point out Mike Flynn resigned but that was for lying to the Vice President who then went on television and told an untruth.
KAREM: I don't think they've ever even admitted a mistake, this administration.
COOPER: Yes. I mean the President has always been reticent to do that even during the campaign. April, I mean President Trump challenges anything that doesn't fit into his own perceptions of reality or what he wants other people to believe reality is. He's done with its inconsequential things like the crowd side at his inauguration as Jim mention. He has also done it with important issues like Russia's interference in the election.
RYAN: Yes. Well, you know, this President has a very different take on reality. And just today in the briefing room there was a question of the two guests that Sarah Huckabee Sanders brought out. You know, the President likes to say that the numbers of illegal immigrants in this nation are 30 million. And then we ask the professionals from DOJ and from Homeland Security. They said, what they're hearing or what they've been seeing is 11 to 12 million. So this President likes to inflate things but yet we are the liars, we are the fake people. You know, it just doesn't add up.
[20:55:04] But I will say this. Jim and Brian for the last couple of days it -- there was something that happened today in that briefing room. Today people pushed back in unison.
RYAN: Against Sarah Huckabee when she came -- when she came to the podium and said, you know, oh, well, you know, if we had the victims here, you wouldn't cover it and this, that, and the other. She would say, oh, you wouldn't cover this. And we like, yes, we have. And then others have said why is there not a briefing on-camera? So I believe that the push is getting momentum. And, again, it's not about us.
KAREM: It isn't, you're right.
RYAN: It's about free press. It's about the American public, getting the information from the highest office in the land, from the man they elected. And Martha Joynt Kumar, the author of "Managing the President's Message" said if you don't hear the President's voice, that's why the briefing, particularly an on-camera briefing is so important. And we're not hearing the President's voice and as Jim has said over and over again. We've had one solo press conference. That was February.
KAREM: That's it.
RYAN: What is this, June.
COOPER: Brian, what do you say, though, to folks who are listening this at home who think this is like, you know, reporters complaining about their jobs being difficult or complaining about not being respected?
KAREM: I think April makes a great point. It's not about us. It's about what this President is doing. And look, I separate from the President from his White House press staff because sometimes they've shown promise for doing some things. I credit them for Skype, I credit them for bringing in people from the cabinet to talk to us in some of the briefings. I give them credit for all that. But this President has undermined us from the very beginning. He's called us enemies of the people. He has told us we are fake media and he is trying to undermine and drive a wedge between the electorate and us and we are the public. We are the republic.
So it's -- in attempting to undermine the First Amendment, he's trying to undermine the republic to sell a message. And the message is what I say is factual and whatever else you hear is not. There are some people that listen to that but slowly I have to tell you I was -- I know our frustration in the room, and Jim has kind of led that struggle. The thing he went through on Monday in the press room kind of led indirectly to what happened to me in Tuesday.
KAREM: And April was one of the first ones to speak up in that press room. The three of us together, I don't know, it could be dangerous tonight. But the point being is that in that room it's I -- we have felt the tension. But after what I said yesterday I've gotten presents from people and I've never seen -- I struck a nerve. And I didn't expect to strike a nerve outside the press room. But I think the public it is really beginning to vibrate with them and it's bothering them. And that's important.
COOPER: Brian Karem, I appreciate you being with us.
RYAN: But again, Brian --
COOPER: I'm sorry, April. We have to cut it off.
RYAN: I just want to say this -- it's not about us.
COOPER: That's right.
RYAN: It's about the American public getting their information, freedom of the press.
COOPER: April Ryan, Jim Acosta, thank you very much. I appreciate it. More coming up, about tonight's presidential fund-raiser, the earliest ever campaign kickoff. Some ethical questions surrounding the fact that is taking place to the President's hotel. And some strategic reasons behind why the President is doing it. Well, have the late details when we continue.