Return to Transcripts main page


Protesters Gather Outside Trump's Phoenix Rally; NYT: McConnell in Private Doubts If Trump Can Save Presidency; Treasury Secretary's Wife Insta-Brags, Slams Critic; Charlottesville City Council Meeting Erupts Into Protests. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

The president is in Phoenix tonight and he has company. Protesters gathering now to meet him, with the final number expected to be in the thousands. The city's mayor, a Democrat, saying he shouldn't have come, not so soon after his incendiary remarks on Charlottesville.

The state's two Republican U.S. senators at odds with the president, not attending the rally tonight.

And on top of all that, there's a new reporting breaking tonight in "The New York Times" suggesting that the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unsure the president will be able to salvage his own presidency. Turns out, they haven't talked since August 9th when they had a yelling match on the phone over the Russian investigation, according to CNN's Manu Raju, over the sanctions against Russia the Senate passed.

And as if that weren't enough, the president has floated the possibility of pardoning the very controversial former local sheriff Joe Arpaio. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it will not happen tonight. But as we've seen with presidential events like this one, almost anything can happen.

So, with all that on this plate, the president arrived tonight in the Valley of the Sun after a brief stop in Yuma, which represents a change in plans because the original one had him going to the border, but that we just learned was cancelled due to security concerns. Tonight's event is a phone campaign rally just the sort of thing the president thrives on, and although there's a teleprompter in hand, as we all know, the president likes to ad-lib and sometimes as we saw last week, go off the rails.

We'll bring you his remarks as they happen.

First, CNN's Alex Marquardt inside the rally.

So, what do we expect from the president tonight, Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the White House has made very clear that this is a campaign event. So, it's not far-fetched to think that we will see campaign Trump freewheeling, off-the-cuff, not sticking to script, the kind of thing that many of his supporters, much of his base, the kind of people you see here really eat up.

Of course, many of his allies would like to see him stay more on script, more on message, read those teleprompters and the speech that is loaded into them as we saw the president do last night in his big speech on Afghanistan. As for what exactly is planned for this speech tonight, the White House isn't really saying that they are keenly aware that they do have to strike an important tone after that deadly violence in Charlottesville, after the president's comments were widely panned following that deadly violence in Charlottesville and as they touched down in Arizona today, the White House said that we can expect to hear a condemnation of hate in all forms.

Now, as you mentioned, a big question looming over this rally is the fate of that deeply controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There's a question about whether the president would announce in this rally that he would be issuing a pardon. The sheriff had been convicted of criminal content for refusing to stop racially profiling Latinos.

Earlier today, Arpaio told CNN that he wouldn't be coming and as they touched down as you mentioned, the press secretary for the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that no action will be taken on that front at any time today -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Alex. I mean, the president has been weighing in on politics in Arizona, in the run-up to the rally, going against -- well, we know the past what he said about Senator John McCain, but also going in Senator Flake.

MARQUARDT: That's right. Well, it's no mystery that the two senators from Arizona have been huge thorns on the side of President Trump. Senator McCain was the deciding vote that led to the collapse of the Republicans efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senator Flake has been a longtime vocal critic, dating back to the early days of the campaign.

And it seems that enough with enough for President Trump. Just a few days ago he wrote in a scathing about Senator Jeff Flake that it's great to see that Dr. Kelly Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake who was weak on borders, crime and a non-factor in the Senate. He's toxic.

So, that is a tacit endorsement of a challenger to Senator Jeff Flake. Kelly Ward, we're told, will be in the audience tonight. She is not expected to have any sort of speaking role. We will see if that tacit endorsement turns into a full-throated endorsement by the president.

As for Senator Flake, I spoke with him yesterday, asking him about those comments, asking him about whether the president should be wading into a senatorial primary, particularly against a candidate of his own party. He said that that was the president's prerogative -- Anderson.

COOPER: Alex Marquardt, a lot to look forward tonight. Thanks.

I want to go now outside to the venue where Gary Tuchman is.

Gary, about how many protestors are out there now?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, right now, there are hundreds, perhaps more than 1,000 protesters here. It's 107 degrees, but the temperature right now may not be as high as it suffers outside. There's plenty of hate to go around a both sides.

I'm standing right amid people who do not like Donald Trump at all. They're holding signs.

The protests weren't expected to start until around an hour from now but they started or later right across the street out there. I'll see if I can give you a look. Excuse me for a second.

[20:05:00] Excuse me for one second.

Right across the street, this is what people are going into the Donald Trump rally, and there's a lot of antagonism here between both sides. People to be honest on both sides are given a finger to each other, yelling at each other. And although it's American right to protest, I got to play, the hatred is a little bit disappointing.

I also want to tell you on the other side of the street here, we'll take a look over here, you can see what I'm talking about the hatred. That's Donald Trump, a balloon, wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and a swastika on his chest. Next to him is a former Sheriff Joe Arpaio who you were just talking about, who has been found guilty of conspiracy of pulling over people he thought were undocumented immigrants. He faces the possibility of six months in prison.

So, in the next hour, there supposed to be a lot more people here, more than 10,000 people have signed up on Facebook to participate in these protests. The rally begins in about two hours. So, right now, police are doing a good job keeping both sides separate. SWAT team members are here holding rifles. And very important, there was a lot of hatred, Anderson, was an absolutely no violence so far -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Gary, good news on that. Gary, thanks very much.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton opposed the president's visit. He -- as we should note -- a Democrat. In a recent "Washington Post" op-ed, he accused the president of dousing racial tensions with gasoline and said he fears he may be looking to light a match.

I spoke to the mayor before we went on air.


COOPER: Mayor Stanton, you called on the president not to come to Phoenix. I'm wondering what your concern was. Is it just the possibility of the protests? You know, certainly, there are a lot of Trump supporters that want to see him tonight.

MAYOR GREG STANTON (D), PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Well, I felt that after the tragedy in Charlottesville, which happened just a short time ago, the president's failed moral leadership after Charlottesville. His failure to unequivocally condemn the racism and the white nationalism and the Nazis there, to have a campaign rally here in Phoenix, Arizona so shortly thereafter. You put it all together, it was such a dangerous combination that I thought the rally was not the correct thing to do here in Phoenix at this time.

COOPER: Are you concerned about what may happen tonight in terms of, you know, any conflicts between protesters?

STANTON: Well, first, we have just received word that Sarah Huckabee Sanders has indicated the president will not be pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio --

COOPER: Right.

STANTON: -- tonight. That is a great victory for so many of the community activists and leaders that have been asking the president not to do that. That would be such a volatile thing to do here in Phoenix and because of that, I'm much more confident that today is going to be calm and peaceful.

In addition, we're so lucky here in Phoenix to have a great police chief, a great Phoenix Police Department. They're working with federal and state authorities. They've got an incredibly complicated but good plan for tonight. And I have the highest level of confidence that they're doing everything possible to make sure were peaceful here in Phoenix.

COOPER: You feel like if he had pardoned -- announced that he was going to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix tonight, that would have been potentially incendiary.

STANTON: There is no doubt about it. The singular purpose would have been to inflame passions to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio who I know nationally, internationally, is sort of this cartoon character.

But here locally, it's personal. He really terrorized the lives of so many Latino residents. They couldn't even go to school or work without fear being pulled over under false pretenses and arrested and facing criminal sanction for literally doing nothing. He faced a trial -- a civil rights trial that he lost and he was found to be in criminally contempt.

So, our sheriff has been firmly convicted and for the president to do that at a campaign rally in front of 10,000 people would only -- the only purpose of that would have been to inflame passions et cetera. And yes, I was very concerned about what that might do on the streets of Phoenix, because the president has backed off -- and make a mistake -- he was leading in that direction, but because he's backed off because of the advocacy of so many wonderful leaders here in Phoenix, I have a much higher level of confidence that the rally and all of the people expressing the First Amendment rights will do so in a peaceful environment here in Phoenix tonight.

COOPER: As you know, I mean, in front of a -- you know, an adoring crowd, the president often responds to the crowd and plays off the crowd. And we've also seen in the past, Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying one thing, the president doing something else.

So, it is still very possible tonight he will either speak about Sheriff Joe Arpaio or decide to announce that that he's going to pardon him if that is what he intends to do.

STANTON: You are correct. He might do that. There's nothing we can do about that, other than his press secretary has indicated, it's not going to occur, but do so tonight in this politicized environment so shortly after his failure of more leadership, after the tragedy in Charlottesville, yes, if he were to go against what his press secretary said today, it would be a very bad thing and a potentially very volatile thing here at Phoenix.

COOPER: What about -- I mean, you know, there was a slightly more conciliatory tone that he took last night at the beginning of his address to the nation about Afghanistan, seemingly addressing kind of the aftermath of Charlottesville, although he never actually mentioned the community by name.

[20:10:02] I'm wondering, did -- were you impressed by that at all?

STANTON: No, I was not.

And by the way, Speaker Paul Ryan was not impressed either. I saw his town hall in which he also acknowledged that the president fell short after Charlottesville.

So, there has been bipartisan condemnation of the failure of moral leadership by this president after the tragedy of Charlottesville and which obviously these white supremacist openly marched, a young woman was tragically murdered by an avowed neo-Nazi. And instead of discussion about blame on all sides, the president should have been unequivocal that that's not acceptable in the United States of America. And his sort of guarded words last night were not enough.

Again, he should take the opportunity here in Phoenix, Arizona. Put politics aside and for once try to bring the people of this country together.

I'm not Pollyannaish. I'm not kidding myself. I don't expect that to happen. But if he really wants to be president of all the people, that's what he should do tonight in Phoenix.

COOPER: Mayor Stanton, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

STANTON: Thank you so much, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, just ahead, more breaking news as we watch the protests unfold, away from the president to speak.

There's a "New York Times" story and it is a doozy about the breakdown in the relationship between President Trump in the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. The headline: McConnell in private doubts if Trump can save presidency. We got one of the reporters who broke the story.

Also tonight, later, Donald Trump down front likes to prepare himself as a populist, but the spouse the treasury secretary is being compared to Mary Antoinette, posting a photo of her getting off a government plane, bragging about her designer clothes and belittling a mom of three who criticized her. We'll hear from the mom as she attacked online, and show you how the treasury secretary's new wife is now singing a different tune.


[20:15:14] COOPER: Looking at the protestors tonight in Phoenix, gathered outside the venue where President Trump is going to speak tonight. When he does, the two Republican senators from Arizona, they will not be on hand. Either John McCain or Jeff Flake will be there, although Senator Flake's GOP primary opponent will.

And now, a new report in "The New York Times" reveals just how bad the president's feud is with another top Republican senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sources tell "The New York Times" that Senator McConnell is privately expressing uncertainty the President Trump can actually salvage his presidency.

CNN political analyst and "New York Times" national reporter Alex Burns shares the byline in the stunning story. He joins me now.

Is McConnell not sure that President Trump will serve his full term? And what does it mean that he may not be able to salvage the presidency?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's expressing pessimism and frustration in a range of ways, Anderson, but from the from the get-go of this story, it was very clear that the Senate leader is really telling people close to him people who were supportive of his agenda in general and who he relies on to a pass legislation and support the party on the national level that he simply no longer feels that President Trump can be counted on to be a dependable partner for him in governing or in politics either. That goes in the 2018 elections, potentially goes for the 2020 as well.

COOPER: And the last time they talked, I think included in your report, is August 9th and in a phone call that ended up in a shouting match.

BURNS: So, it's nearly two weeks ago now was the last time they had any direct contact. There's been staff contact, but Republicans are coming up on a number of really, really important governing deadlines in September. At this stage of things, you'd expect to have direct conversations with the president and really the most important man in Congress. That is not happening.

COOPER: And based on your reporting, part of the shouting match was over the president's anger, what, that Mitch McConnell wasn't enough to protect him from the Russian investigation?

BURNS: That's right. A couple people who were briefed on what happened on the phone call said that there was fuming about the health care issue as the president has expressed in public, but that really the great bulk of the call and most of the heat on the call was directed on that Russia issue -- the sense that this is out of control and Republicans don't have my back.

COOPER: I want to read just something, an amazing detail. He says, in a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly and berated him in a phone call that quickly developed a profane shouting. The president accused McConnell of bungling the health care issue, even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader's refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in 2016 election, according to Republicans brief.

So, I mean, according to your resources, the president believes the Senate majority leader should be running interference on the -- on the Russian investigation.

BURNS: Well, he certainly feels that Republicans in Congress ought to be not advancing what he views as investigations that are unfair and detrimental to his political interest. And I think, you know, in some respects, it reflects that the president is something of a political amateur, but in some -- it's also just a sign of the depth of the defensiveness on this issue, that whenever you have had Republicans criticize him on Russia or suggest that maybe there is something there they ought to look into, get the president very upset and he expressed that directly to Senator McConnell.

COOPER: It's so interesting of what is the president's strategy on this? I mean to not only publicly go after McConnell, as he has in tweets and comments, but to -- I mean, have this personal animosity and shouting matches. I mean, is there -- one wonders is there a strategy here or is it just President Trump being unable to control himself?

BURNS: Certainly, the sense on the Hill is not that there is this well-crafted strategy to get results from a recalcitrant Republican- controlled Congress. Republican senators, Republican donors, they do feel that what's happening at this point as the president is holding grudges against members of his own party who he feels have crossed him and he is more focused on those grudges than on sort of crafting legislative results.

COOPER: Another piece from your story says, White House aide told Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican from the state who the support was in doubt, this about a health care bill, that she could only accompany him on Air Force One if she committed to voting for the health care bill. Capito declines, saying that she hadn't even seen the bill.

BURNS: That's right. And we know that there are hard feelings about the health care issue. I think the depth of those hard feelings is maybe a little more intense than is widely recognized. Dissent among Republican senators certainly from folks in and around McConnell's operation that the president made this a lot harder for them and he has -- through his behavior on the health care issue -- made it harder for them to do anything else, like tax reform or even basic stuff like funding the government.

COOPER: Yes, incredible reporting. Alex Burns, thanks so much.

BURNS: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Joining us now is former Clinton chief of staff and Obama CIA director, Leon Panetta, and CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, who's worked for president's in both parties dating back to the Nixon days.

Secretary Panetta, how significant is it that McConnell's, you know, reportedly questioning whether the president can salvage the mess he's made of his presidency?

[20:20:05] LEON PANETTA, FMR. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, it's a -- it's a very important statement that reflects a real breakdown between the president and the majority leader in the Senate.

Look, I know Mitch McConnell. He is a -- he's a pragmatist. He's somebody who likes to get things done. He works at his job.

And I think the fact that he fought very hard for the health care bill, lost it by one vote, to then have the president come after him and be critical of what he did, particularly a president who was all over the place on health care, from repeal to covering everybody, and then used some of the strong-arm tactics that you talked about that blew up, I just think it's a reflection that at this point in time, there is a real breakdown between the president of the United States and the leader of his party in the Senate. And it doesn't bode well for getting anything done this fall on major issues.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, David, do you see a strategy here by the President Trump to do this? I mean, have you ever seen a relationship between the president and his party's leader in the Senate that's more dysfunctional?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't see any strategy at all. I see more of a temperament problem and that is, you know, how well-suited that Donald Trump is or not suited for working with an institution like the Senate.

It's so important to go back to basics. I agree with everything Leon just said. I think he said well.

To go back to basics as he knows, the Senate and the House are co- equal -- a co-equal branch of government under the Constitution. They are -- they are as powerful and as to be as respected as the presidency itself. In fact, Article One is about the Congress, and Article Two is about the president. The founders saw the Congress as actually more influential and more important.

But to go beyond that, it's -- the Senate members still think of themselves as belonging to a club, especially each party has its own club. And for McConnell who was a proud man, this is insulting to be treated this way by the president, and it is driving him from -- away from the president. Interestingly, that fascinating story in "The New York Times" says that the business leaders who deserted the president as advisory board have now started to gravitate toward McConnell, as the person they ought to work with.

This could well turn out to be for it's over that McConnell and other Republicans will say, you know, we'll just run this ourselves, Mr. President. We'll send you the bills when you sign them. But we're going to take it from here.

COOPER: We go take a quick break. We're going to continue the conversation.

Let's also dig deeper to the implications the Republican Party and Republican president at war.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Now, our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before, and I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mitch, get to work and let's get it done.



[20:26:38] COOPER: Going to tonight's rally in Phoenix, the president has attacked both Republican senators from Arizona and the Senate majority leader. The question is, how long can this sort of thing go on before it all starts blowing up politically?

Before we go back to Leon Panetta and David Gergen, I just want to remind you of some of the things the president has said publicly about Mitch McConnell.


TRUMP: I'm very disappointed in Mitch, but honestly, repeal and replace of Obamacare should have taken place.

Mitch, get to work and let's get it done. They should have had this last one done. They lost by one vote. For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace.

He should have known that he had a couple of votes that turned on them and that should have been very easy to handle.

REPORTER: Should Senator McConnell consider stepping down as majority leader?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what? If he doesn't get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you could ask me that question.


COOPER: Back with Secretary Leon Panetta and David Gergen.

Secretary Panetta, I asked this to David Gergen in the last, before we went to break. Do you see a strategy here? I mean, is there -- is it -- is it a way that of the president distancing himself from the failure of Obamacare or is it just emotion?

PANETTA: There is no -- there's no strategy here. I think what you're seeing is a president who has very little experience in governing, very little experience in politics, and he's taking the same kind of approach that he did when he was a developer in New York, in bullying other people, in criticizing them, and in trying to bully them into doing what he wanted.

And it worked for him not only in the business world, it worked for him when he ran for election. And so, he thinks all of this will work for him in governing the country. But it's not. You cannot bully members of Congress to somehow come your way. You've got to deal with them. You've got to respect them. You've got to talk to them in equal terms.

And if he doesn't learn that lesson, mark my word -- he will not achieve any major legislation certainly in this first year of his presidency.

COOPER: David Gergen, I keep thinking about just the toxic environment that the president seems to create all around them. I mean, whether it's in a relationship with Mitch McConnell right now or people in the White House, you know, these competing camps that we've seen in the White House. You know, for months now, the White House has been denying there's any chaos. That clearly -- those clearly were just lies.

I mean, we now know there has been complete chaos, and you have, you know, strong people like H.R. McMaster, you have Gary Cohn who's -- you know, I've interviewed him in the past and clearly, you know, who wants to do good for the country and is a hard-working and incredibly smart guy. When there was talk that, you know, he might step down in the wake of what happened in Virginia, the markets dropped. I mean, it just seems like the president creates a toxic environment for all those people around him who are trying to do the best they can.

GERGEN: I absolutely agree, and it goes back to what Leon just said. That's the way he did business in New York. That was the way he conducted business.

You can talk to any number of people that did business with him there who probably tried to bully him, that he tried to strong-arm them, and you get very aggressive if they go along with what he wanted, the tales of allegiance (ph).

[20:30:00] I think that's just who he is. If that -- you know, I think it's time to reject the excuse that he's an amateur. He's been on the job seven months. He wanted this job. It's not an excuse any longer, well, I don't know my way around. He has know his way around, and he, you know -- I've seen a lot of people, a lot of presidents who come to town who are not familiar with Washington, but they learn on the job very quickly. Bill Clinton answer so well, was an example of that. It took him a while, he stumbled in the beginning, but he learned and he grew into the job. And we haven't seen that here.

One of the things, Anderson, I think is very really interesting, we see a little more order and we saw in last nine speech in Afghanistan, the generals clearly are starting to have some impact inside on at least policy making on Afghanistan. But the generals don't know anything about politics, either. I don't see the team around him that knows much about governing and about the politics of trying to build the Republican Party.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Secretary Panetta, how important is that to have that team around him? And again to the point it does seem like with H.R. McMaster, with Cohen, he has a lot of experts in their field on policy, but politics is a whole other different matter.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The President, I think, thinks that he's the smartest guy in the room. And that's the biggest mistake a president can make. And I think when it comes to political decisions, when it comes to decisions involving domestic policy, I don't think he listens very well. And so the result is, he hasn't been willing to build the kind of team that he built on national security. He's built a strong team on national security. Thank God he's willing to listen to them.

What he needs to do is to build that same kind of team when it comes to the legislative challenges he faces on the hill, the economic challenges that are facing this country. He's got to be able to have a team that can do the job, because frankly, he can't do it. He's not built right to be able to do this. He's going to have to rely on good people who are willing to reach out and try to develop coalitions in the Republican Party, respect the leaders on both sides, and try to develop the kind of coalition that can pass tax reform, that can pass funding for infrastructure, and do the things that he wants to achieve. If he's not willing to do that, then I think nothing is going to happen.

COOPER: Secretary Panetta, David Gergen, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

When we come back, what do you wear on a government plane on a visit to one of the poorest states in the country? Well, if you're Louise Linton, the Treasury Secretary's wife, you wear as much designer clothing as you can, and then you instagram about it, listing all the brand names and then you attack and belittle somebody who criticizes you for it. Welcome to the great judgment of new wife of America's New Treasury Secretary. The latest on her, ahead.


[20:36:45] COOPER: The Treasury Secretary's wife woman named Louise Linton is at the center of an online firestorm after posting an instagram photo bragging about the couple's wealth, tagging luxury designers clothes she have to be wearing in the post and flaunting a hand bag that cost about $10,000.

When an Oregon mom commented that her behavior was "deplorable," and Linton hit back, had insult to injury. This was all during a bay trip to Kentucky, a state where the median household income is less than $44,000 a year. Randi Kaye has the story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The controversy took flight soon after her plane landed, that's when treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton posted on Instagram, bragging about flying with her husband on a government plane to Kentucky to visit Fort Knox.

Linton, who has a reputation for flaunting her wealth appeared to be carrying an Hermes handbag, which sells for about $10,000.

Mnuchin's 36-year-old wife then tagged a series of luxury designers, Roland Mouret, Hermes, Tom Ford and Valentino. Linton's instagram started to pick up steam. One instagramer, who was offended by the post, was an Oregon mom named Jenni Miller. "Glad we could pay for your little getaway, #deplorable."

JENNI MILLER, WOMAN WHO COMMENTED ON INSTAGRAM: I honestly, I didn't know who she was. To then be tagging everything she was wearing with all these expensive European designer names just seemed ridiculous and quite frankly, offended me as someone who paid for part of their trip.

KAYE: But it didn't end there. Instead of letting it go, Louise Linton ripped into the Oregon mother of three, with a long, condescending rant that oddly included a series of kiss emojis. "@JenniMiller 29, cute, uh, did you think this was a personal trip? Adorable." Then before it was over, Linton called Miller adorably out of touch, suggesting she go chill out and watch the new "Game of Thrones."

MILLER: There are probably better ways to spend her time and money than trying to make me feel bad about my simple, cute life.

KAYE: Louise Linton, a former actress from Scotland has long touted her wealth and Hollywood lifestyle. Of all things she played Marie Antoinette in this 2007 episode of CSI.

KAYE (on-camera): And keep in mind, Louise Linton and her Treasury Secretary husband were visiting Kentucky, one of the poorest states in the country. That only added to Jenny Miller's frustration, who felt Linton could have done something to help the children of Kentucky instead of bragging about her expensive wardrobe.

KAYE (voice-over): Jenny Miller didn't even know that Linton had responded to her, until her sister told her about it.

MILLER: It was as tone deaf as her original post, and that it was very ironic that she was calling me out of touch and assuming things about me and just being so condescending and so incredibly rude.

KAYE: Jenny Miller didn't drop it either, posting again, "Apparently I offended this deplorable girl I had never heard of until today. According to my 20 second Google search, she's married to an old rich guy in a wedding attended by other couples of similar age and beauty gaps."

[20:40:04] But that post never made it to Louise Linton's instagram page. By then she had changed the setting to private. This was hardly the first time Linton was caught up in controversy. Last year, the memoir she wrote about her time in Zambia in the 1990s when she was just 18 also got her in hot water.

In the book titled "In Congo's Shadow" Linton painted herself as what critics called a white savior, when she wrote about becoming a central character in the horror story of the Congolese War. She wrote, "I try to remember a smiling, gap-toothed child with HIV, whose greater joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of coca-cola." "The Washington Post" says the book was panned as racist and full of misrepresentations and ridiculous cliches about Africa. It all gave rise to the hash tag Linton lies, and Linton pulled the book from sale. He later apologized for offending anyone.


COOPER: And Randi Kaye joins me now. And today, I guess another apology from Linton in this latest issue?

KAYE: Absolutely, Anderson. Late this afternoon, Louise Linton apologized for her rant on instagram. She issued a statement through her publicist saying, "I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive."

Also, in addition to that, the Treasury Department has told CNN the couple will be reimbursing the government for Linton's travel and that she does not receive compensation for products she mentions on line. Anderson?

COOPER: Why does she have a publicist? I mean, what is the Treasury Secretary -- she an actress?

KAYE: She was an actress from Scotland. She's done a little bit of television as you saw on that CSI episode, which she played Marie Antoinette in the custom party. But she also has done some acting as well in Hollywood.

COOPER: All right. Joining me now, thank you very much, Randi. Joining me now, Alice Stewart and Kirsten Powers.

What do you make of this, Kirsten? I mean --

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean I think it's -- first of all, the post came off as something that you would expect from not just a teenager, but a very nasty teenager.

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: Right. I mean, this was just really kind of unbelievable how nasty she was to this woman. You know, separate from the fact that it's just bad judgment obviously to be the wife of a public servant I think posting these kinds of pictures with all these hash tags of very expensive things when in fact, you know, that bag that she was carrying ranges somewhere between $10,000 and into the hundreds of thousands.

COOPER: For the bag?

POWERS: Yes, for the purse that she was carrying. So, I mean, this is -- when you're going to a state where -- I mean, the whole country I think obviously there's a lot of suffering, but in that state in particular.

COOPER: What's interesting to me is looking at this photograph that she posted, that's not a photograph she took.


COOPER: -- that's a photograph that she had to search out somebody else took or asked somebody to take or somehow she searched it out and intentionally posted it. And then, it's not just she hash tagged the designers, she actually tagged the items in the photograph, which is -- so that any time somebody searches for Hermes bag, that photo will pop up if you look under Hermes bag.

POWERS: Yes, right.

COOPER: This is what -- we did the study on this social media for 13 old-year-old.

POWERS: For teenagers.

COOPER: Yes, this is what teenagers doing, it's all about exclusion. It's all about not only showing how great a time you're having and how great you are, but that other people are not having this time, right? And that's what this seems to be about. Alice, how do you see it?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly, I think this is -- you know, as Randi said in her piece, she played Marie Antoinette and who is famous, let them eat cake and Linton has just crossing all over this cake here and made a bad situation even worst.

So to the degree you said in terms of what all you have to do to get this on? It's way beyond me with regard to the Instagram thing. But clearly she went out of her way to do this. And I think that bad thing is and unfortunately we're seeing this with others in this administration that have money is that they just don't understand that what they're saying and what they're doing is out of touch with the average American person. And as they were just returning from Kentucky, those people, average median income, about $40,000. They just don't understand that kind of post and that kind of extravagance and calling attention to it is kind of insulting to the average American person. COOPER: -- the people's billionaire, I believe his son referred to him during the convention.

POWERS: What's so concerning about this is that -- the things that she said to this woman, it's happen for me just not the juvenile (ph) stuff is this idea that they're making this huge sacrifice by working for the President of the United States. Her husband is working for the President of the United States. He's the head of the Treasury Department in the United States of America, and it's a sacrifice to her to be married to this person.

Now, I think we all know it's because he is not making a billion dollars this year or something or how much he used to make. And so that mentality, which we also by the way, hear from the Trumps a lot, you know, of how much they've given up to serve in the government. When in fact for most people serving in the government is a huge honor.

[20:45:08] COOPER: Right, it's the honor of most people's lives.

POWERS: Yes, exactly.

STEWART: And I think it's a couple things to point out that are moot points at this point because we're well beyond this. But look, it's not uncommon for spouses to travel with cabinet members and others in the administration. They do need to reimburse the cost of the travel. And moving forward, I think it's imperative, one of the things that she says, she's talking about -- as you say, the sacrifice. It's a blessing to do this. And if nothing else, this is an important lesson to learn. She's not a public figure being a spouse of a cabinet member. But it's an important lesson that everything you say and everything you do, not just represents you, but now her spouse, in turn the administration. So hopefully this will be a good lesson for her that in the future you need to be more careful what you say and how the implications.

COOPER: Right. Or, if she's using all her vast resources to employ a publicist, perhaps -- or maybe -- I don't know if the publicist had anything to do with this photograph, but maybe consult the publicist, somebody with a clear head, or even ask the husband, is this a good idea for me to like be, you know?

POWERS: But I don't understand why they don't know this. You know, I mean, like I don't understand why they don't already know that this isn't a good idea. That's why I'm getting lost. It's like I don't understand people who think that attacking somebody in that manner on Instagram, your adorable little family because they're -- I guess, not super wealthy or something. I don't -- I guess, I'm just lost as to why like someone has to educate this woman about that.

COOPER: I mean, let's be honest, it's just like tacky and disgusting.


COOPER: I mean it's really vulgar.


COOPER: It's like my mom always said, you know, she knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. She knows the price of her Hermes bag, she wants everybody to know she's wearing, you know, I don't know who's underwear or who's dress are, or whatever whoever made -- Tom Ford and all these others.

STEWART: That will be the next hash tag. Look, I think -- I think her apology was sincere. It wasn't one of those apologies that, I'm sorry if I offended -- if what I said offended. It was sincere apology and it was about eight hours too late.


POWERS: But Alice, you're just as a sweet.

STEWART: No, but I think -- but also the woman who responded to her friends, they're trying to raise money for her friend who had a stroke, who have nothing else. So hopefully that person will receive a lot of money from her.


COOPER: Kirsten thanks, Alice Stewart as well.

Coming up next, tensions boiled over last night in Charlottesville, where city council meeting as protesters they control the room forcing the meeting to stop, when it resumed, the protesters sounded off. We'll talk about their demands, their outrage when we continue.


[20:51:31] COOPER: Protests, looking at a protest outside a confederate monument on the campus University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, one of many recently. And there's more news out of Charlottesville, Virginia, tonight. The first city council meeting since last weekend's tragedy spiraled out of control, when protests took over. They want confederate statues in town removed and said that lawmakers have blood on their hands. Ed Lavandera has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's not the rules. We don't do that.

ED LAVANDERA: This was just the beginning of the Charlottesville city council meeting. Demonstrators filled the chambers, and within minutes, took control of the room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've been called to order so you have to be removed.

LAVANDERA: As police removed and arrested three people from the chambers, two protesters climbed on top of the council member's podium, and unfurled a banner that read "blood on your hands." Demonstrators blamed city leaders for not stopping that unite the right rally, organized by white nationalists and neo-Nazis that led to the death of Heather Heyer and two Virginia state police officers killed when their helicopter crashed while on patrol near the clashes.

PROTESTERS: Blood on your hands!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody's got to be held accountable for not only the blood of those three lives but for every injury that happened this past weekend.

LAVANDERA: The city council members left the room and shortly after the televised feed cut off. When the meeting resumed, Charlottesville residents unleashed a furious litany of criticism on the council especially Mayor Michael Signer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys need to wake up and smell what you're shoveling. You really do. We need you to have a solution. We need you to protect our city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I warned you. I've had enough. We've all had, absolutely had enough. The statue needs to come down. You need to grow a [bleep] spine. Get the statues down, all of them. Get them down.

LAVANDERA: Demonstrators accused city officials and police of not doing enough to protect the counter-protesters on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All had multiple opportunities to intervene and you did not intervene one time.

MIKE SIGNER, MAYOR OF CHARLOTTESVILLE: We tried really hard to get the rally out and a federal judge -- a federal judge forced us to have the rally downtown.

LAVANDERA: Again, Mayor Signer shut down the meeting and left the room.

SIGNER: I'm canceling this meeting.

LAVANDERA: The mayor returned to chants that he should resign.

PROTESTERS: Signer must go! Signer must go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you all going to do when they come back? Because they are coming back. They've already said so. What are you all planning to do when they come back? Those statues are still there. That's their vision.

LAVANDERA: City leaders have taken the first steps to remove the two confederate statutes in Charlottesville but that will take some time to work out. In the meantime, city leaders plan to cover the monuments in a shroud until they're removed permanently. It's a move that likely won't calm many in Charlottesville, as city leaders brace for an open town hall meeting on Thursday. Ed Lavandera, CNN, New York.


COOPER: With the President facing criticism for his comments on the violence in Charlottesville, as we mentioned he is out west tonight in Arizona where he hopes to play to his base at a campaign rally. He'll be greeted by supporters and protesters in the streets. Crowds gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center where he'll speak in about an hour.

Miguel Marquez is there. He joins us now. So what are the crowds like where you are, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are growing and angry. Shouts of justice and shame as the Trump supporters go into the arena there. I'm going to show you some of the groups that have shown up here. Antifa, which a militant anti-fascist group, they had just shown up here in masks. They say they are not intent on causing any militant action today.

[20:55:06] But I want to give you a sense of just how big this crowd is here. It's probably 2,000 plus. People keep pouring in from over on this side, but if you turn around this way, you can see over there by those balloons, that's where the main brunt of the crowd is, that's where the convention center is, that's where they are shouting at the Trump supporters as they go into the convention center.

Still an hour away from the President actually speaking here, it's not clear whether these crowds are going to stay. Phoenix police treating this as a major event like the Super Bowl, essentially, saying that it is all hands on deck for them. They have all law enforcement agencies including the National Guard on alert for this hoping nothing goes wrong.

I can tell you, there is a very, very big contingent of police here. One thing that they have done is they've blocked off streets around the area so that no one can drive a car into this. They have the dump trucks and barriers across all the streets of this area hoping that they can stave off any sort of issues. There were some moments earlier today where the direct -- where there was direct sort of confrontation between Trump supporters and people who do not agree with the President, but those seem to have calmed down, Phoenix police using mainly officers who are uniformed, literally, to get in between the protesters on both sides. Let them have their say, but at the same time, not let it get beyond just screaming and shouting. Anderson?

COOPER: All right, Miguel, we're going to check in with you throughout the next hour.

Up next, we'll take you inside the convention center. See what's going on there, as we await the President's speech in Phoenix.


COOPER: At the top of the hour tonight, Donald Trump versus the protesters who are on hand for his campaign rally tonight in Phoenix. The President versus the state's two Republican senators, neither of whom will be in attendance tonight, though, one of their GOP primary opponents will be. President versus Senate Mitch McConnell, who "The New York Times" now reports as privately doubting whether he can save his presidency.