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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Source: President Trump Also Asked, "Why Do We Need More Haitians? Take Them Out". Source: Pres. Trump Asks "Why Are We Having All These People From ****hole Countries Come Here?"; Pres. Trump Slams Then Supports Surveillance Program; Tomorrow Marks 8 Years since Devastating Earthquake Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 11, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:0:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
The president of the United States is tired of so many black people coming to this country, tired of immigrants from Haiti and Africa being allowed in. Quote, why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?, the president said today at the White House. His comments reported first by "The Washington Post", confirmed by CNN, and amazingly not denied by the president or the people around him.
Tired of Africans and Haitians, the president went on to say he would like to bring more people from countries like Norway, Norway, whose population is overwhelmingly of Nordic descent, white people, in other words.
James Baldwin, the great writer, the great American, once said that, quote, ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. Ignorance allied with power.
For the president of the United States to believe Haitians have not contributed extraordinary things to American society, that is ignorant. For him to claim all the countries of Africa are shitholes is woefully ignorant.
But as disturbing as you may think these sentiments are, these comments by the president -- they are actually not anything new. Three weeks ago "The New York times" reported something else the president said about Haitians in another meeting with the White House, about Haitians, he reportedly said they, quote, all have AIDS and said that Nigerians, quote, live in huts.
Now, the White House denied he said those things at the time three weeks ago. They are not denying he said the comments today, which were spoken in a room with bipartisan lawmakers. Perhaps the White House feels the president's remarks will be well-received in some parts of this country, among some parts of the president's base, and perhaps that is true. But it doesn't make what he said any less ignorant or any less racist. Not racial, not racially charged, racist.
Let's not kid ourselves. Let's not pretend or dance around it. The sentiment the president expressed today is a racist sentiment. Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post" is the reporter who broke the
story. I spoke to him right before air time.
COOPER: Josh, these racist comments by the president, can you just explain how they came about and what context they were said?
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Sure. So, there was a bipartisan meeting today on trying to get to an immigration deal. And in the meeting, Senator Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham, Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, outlined a plan where they would cut the number of immigrants who came, part of the visa lottery system, but would still have a number from countries that are protected, TPS status.
After that, the president seemed frustrated that they wanted immigrants to come from African countries, from Haiti, from places that he deemed shithole countries in the meeting. And it kind of took lawmakers aback. The president said he would prefer to have immigrants from Norway and possibly from other Asian countries that he thinks are more beneficial to the United States and its economy.
COOPER: How did lawmakers, other people in the room react, do you know?
DAWSEY: They were taken aback. The president was salty during the exchange on several occasions. I think there was cursing on both sides from the president and from some of the lawmakers.
It was a comment that was pretty unexpected. We haven't been able to hear from a lot of the Republicans in the room, haven't gotten reactions from them tonight. But among Democratic aides and even some Republican aides that we've talked to, there was a sense of, wow, he really just said that.
COOPER: What's interesting is, I mean, "The New York Times" I think weeks ago had reported the president had previously said -- described people from Nigeria essentially as living in huts, I believe was the term he used and said that Haitians have AIDS, that all Haitians have AIDS. Those comments were denied by the White House very quickly. The White House, they're not denying the president said this today.
DAWSEY: No. And to be clear, Anderson, before we published our story, we called the White House and went over every single comment that we were attributing to the president and everything we were going to say the president said in the meeting, and we got no denial either. The statement did not deny our story. We have gotten zero indication from the White House that they disagree with our reporting here.
COOPER: Right. In fact, the statement that the White House has put out essentially says that the president wants people -- immigrants who are going to contribute to society. I guess the White House believing that people of African descent or of Haitian descent do not contribute as immigrants to this society, which is just patently false. DAWSEY: Well, and you're seeing though, Anderson, too, some of the
president's supporters like this. I saw Ann Coulter tweet that maybe the president was trying to win her back. She's been critical of some of his more liberal moves on immigration. I think to a large portion of the country they see these comments as inappropriate. Some may deem them even racist.
But I think some of the president's supporters who really want to cut down even on legal immigration. One of the things we've seen from this president time and time again, Anderson, is a desire to cut even not just illegal immigration, cut back on the number of people who come here legally by 50 percent.
[20:05:02] You saw earlier this week where they plan to remove 200,000 Salvadorans back to their country.
They have not made a secret of their immigration agenda. And it's something that, you know, I think if the White House really wanted to push back on this, they would. It seems they do not want to deny the president made these comments.
COOPER: Josh Dawsey, I appreciate your time, thank you.
DAWSEY: Thanks so much, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, the White House is trying to manage the situation, to put it mildly.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now.
Have we heard anything from the president himself about these comments?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson. And I think right now, it's safe to say that this White House is paralyzed and is frozen in terms of how it is dealing with this right now. Sara Sanders, the White House press secretary, told me a short while ago that there won't be any more comments coming from the White House of this evening about what the president said earlier today to that group of lawmakers when they were trying to talk about this immigration issue.
But, Anderson, we want to report some new information that we have coming out of that meeting. A person familiar with what went on in that meeting says that the president when talking about the temporary protection status for Haitians, that status being eliminated by the Trump administration apparently Senator Durbin and others were discussing this in this meeting, a person familiar with the meeting tells us that the president at that point said, quote, why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.
So again, another fairly offensive comment there coming from the president, a very offensive comment coming from the president. Now, we should point out just to underline what you were saying a few
moments, Anderson, the president of the United States has a history of making these racially charged offensive comments and we put together a graphic just to demonstrate that, that this goes back for some time now. Remember, president Trump is the person who repeated the lie that President Obama was not born in the United States. When he launched his campaign, he said some Mexican immigrants are rapists. Just last August, after the tragedy in Charlottesville, he said that there were very fine people among the white supremacists who were protesting there and then, of course, today, saying that Haitians and Africans come from shithole countries.
Anderson, time and again, this is just a problem area for this president where he just seems to harbor these racist attitudes and is apparently feeling more and more emboldened to say this. I talked to a source close to the White House earlier this evening who was shocked that the president with say this among lawmakers because it would obviously get out.
And the irony of all ironies, a sad irony tonight, my colleague, Jeff Zeleny is reporting that the president heard about all of this coming out in the news when he was taping a message for Martin Luther King Day, which is, of course, coming up on Monday.
COOPER: We should also point out, this is the day before the eighth anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake in which more than 200,000 people were killed or crushed to death.
I understand staffers at the White House don't believe that these comments are a big problem. Is that possibly true?
ACOSTA: Well, I think that there's a feeling among some in the White House that this may somehow play well with the president's base. I think that's a sad commentary about the president's base. I think there are even people who are very strong supporters of President Trump who would say tonight that these comments are extremely disappointing.
I talked to somebody this evening who was saying, listen, these are just dumb comments, these are not racist comments coming from the president. But, Anderson, as we were just showing and you were outlining earlier, there just seems to be a pattern here for this president. It's a disturbing pattern because it seems to come back to one truth here and that is that this president deep down may just be a racist -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, if you're saying you don't want more black people in this country coming from Africa or coming from Haiti, you want more white people from Norway, hard to see that as anything else but in racist terms.
ACOSTA: And, Anderson, I just want to say very quickly that last summer when we had that exchange with Stephen Miller in the briefing room about the Statue of Liberty, you know, I asked him, I asked him, it sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow into this country. At that time, Stephen Miller said I was ignorant for making that kind of suggestion. But as Josh Dawsey was saying just a few moments ago, this administration has not made any secret about what its immigration policy is.
Their policy is to restrict the flow of people of color coming into this country and the president made that clear earlier today in his comments to those lawmakers.
COOPER: Yes, whether it's from Central America, Mexico, Muslim countries, Haiti, any place in Africa.
Jim Acosta, appreciate the reporting.
This new reporting we should also point out is in stark contrast as to what Donald Trump as a candidate said when he was trying to get the Haitian-American community to support him on the campaign trail.
Watch this from September of 2016 in Miami.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether you vote for me or you don't vote for me, I really want to be your greats champion and I will be your champion. The Haitian people deserve better, and that's what I intend to give them. I will give them better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I will be your greatest champion.
[20:10:00] Joining me, Van Jones, Bakari Sellers, Jason Miller, Ana Navarro and Marc Lotter.
Ana, I mean, in your opinion, is there any other way to interpret his comment other than being just racist?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course, there's no other way to interpret it. This is not an isolated comment. The first thing he did when he started running was calm Mexicans rapists. He has gone on to equate white supremacists in Charlottesville to the people protesting against them.
He has called black athletes sons of bitches. He has feuded with the congresswoman who represents Little Haiti, Frederica Wilson. Last year at this time, he was feuding with civil rights icon John Lewis.
This is not a coincidence. This is a pattern of behavior. We have a racist, a shameless racist who has hijacked the Republican Party, who has hijacked the Oval Office. And this country needs to stand up against this and tell him that we will not let him divide us by color, by race, by ethnicity, by economy. We will not by quiet, we will not allow this.
Donald Trump, this is not America, this is not America and we will fight against your division, your racism, your anger, your hatred and all the horrible things you are trying to do to this country.
COOPER: Van Jones, I mean, should this come as a surprise to people?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean it's not only racist. It's only just inaccurate. Numbers are sometimes better. Thirty-three percent of Americans have college degrees. God bless everybody, it's a lot of hard work, now they have student debt.
Forty-three percent of African immigrants have college degrees, OK? Eleven percent of white people in America have a graduate people. One-quarter, 25 percent of Nigerian-Americans have a graduate degree. So, what is he talking about?
Part of the thing is that when you're relying on just horrible stereotypes -- by the way, Melania Trump, our first lady who I admire greatly, is from Slovenia, not exactly the jewel of Europe. Slovenia. But she's welcome here and Nigerians are not.
There's something wrong with the way this president is proceeding. I don't think anybody here on this panel can defend these kind of comments. If you want to have a conversation about immigration policy, you can have it without insulting whole continents and whole countries, especially when you have African immigrants coming to this country, making America better every day and being disrespected by this president.
COOPER: Jason, I mean, the idea that all Haitians have AIDS, that they should get out, the president doesn't want more black people from Africa or from Haiti, wants more white people from Norway. Is that defensible?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, Anderson, that's not at all what the president said so let's talk about the context of what today was.
COOPER: He didn't say that all Haitians said AIDS?
MILLER: No, no.
COOPER: It was reported in "The New York Times."
MILLER: Well, Anderson, the White House has denied that.
COOPER: They denied that when it was a meeting of White House staff. But when it's a group of bipartisan lawmakers today, they can't deny today because bipartisan lawmakers heard it. So, do you think it's such a big jump for him to say all Haitians have AIDS to him saying that it's a shithole?
MILLER: I don't think that the point is for you or me or anybody else to put words in the president's mouth.
COOPER: The president is putting racist words in his own mouth. Anyway, go ahead.
MILLER: So, he was not making racist comments.
So, today, the whole point of the meeting is the fact that President Trump, unlike Democrats and Republicans in the past, is actually going to get something done on DREAMers, something I don't think he's getting any credit for.
COOPER: We're talking about Haitians and black people.
MILLER: Hold on. So, this is the meeting, they're having a bipartisan meeting to talk about what we're going to do about the 700,000 or 800,000 DREAMers who are here. They get to the section on overall comprehensive immigration reform, again, something that Obama couldn't get done, Bush couldn't get done, but Trump is going to get it done.
So, they get to the section on merit-based immigration and the president has been very clear that he doesn't think there should be carve-outs from any country. Not from Norway, not from Great Britain, not from Haiti, not from El Salvador, not from any country does he think there should be special carve-outs by each country. He thinks there should be merit-based by each person. And that's something the candidate --
JONES: What does that have to do talking about s-hole countries?
MILLER: Hold on, hold on.
COOPER: So, there's more people with merit from Norway than there are from Haiti and from Africa? Africa, by the way, an enormous continent full of dozens of countries.
MILLER: -- individual, there shouldn't be carve-outs.
The plan that these lawmakers came back to him actually still have these carve-outs for countries on the TPS list, countries that are in severely economically distressed places that are sending us tens of thousands of people.
MILLER: If they even have the shirt on their backs, then they're lucky.
COOPER: Have you been to Africa? Do you know how many countries are in Africa?
Does the president know -- I know the president likes to make up countries that are not actually in Africa and that don't actually exist, but they're incredibly developed and well-off countries in Africa.
COOPER: In fact when the president was speaking to black African leaders he was talking about all his rich friends making money in Africa.
MILLER: Anderson, respectfully speaking, you're leaving a lot out from the conversation. And what you even heard from Jim Acosta and we've heard from previous blocks, not only did the president say when he was talking about countries doing much better economically, he said Norway or countries in Asia.
[20:15:04] He didn't name specific countries in Asia, so he's talking around the world.
He's like, why would you go and specifically say that there need to be carve-outs from countries that are so economically distressed.
COOPER: Right. So, he's willing to generalize about all Asians as being people who are working hard and deserve the merit of coming here, but all Africans are not. How is that not by race?
MILLER: He's making a race that it should be by individuals and shouldn't be going and targeting --
COOPER: So, everybody from Asia is hard working and deserves to come here?
MILLER: No, the whole point is should be a merit-based system, just like the way that Canada does it on a point-based system. It's a pretty smart comprehensive immigration idea. I think ultimately the president --
JONES: Can we get in --
COOPER: Van, I want you to respond to that.
MILLER: You're trying to make it sound like -- go ahead, van.
JONES: Listen, I give you an "A" for effort, but the reality is you haven't addressed the issue that alarmed the entire world. When you say s-hole countries and then you say Norway is welcome and these people are not, that is not a smart conversation about immigration policy. You and I can disagree and argue about skills based versus TPS versus anything else. But that's not what was happening.
JONES: Hold on a second. You got your chance. That's not what's happening.
What's happening is, you have a president that has shown his heart to the country. He's shown his heart. And in his heart, people from Africa, a billion -- almost a billion people live in Africa. To him, they all are s-hole people who live in s-hole places. That is wrong and you should denounce it.
JONES: By the way, sir, and, Jason, I know you very well, you should denounce it. You should denounce that, Jason. I know you very well. Why won't you denounce that? Why won't you denounce S-hole nation?
MILLER: Everyone in the world wants to come to the U.S. you know why? Because this is a great place.
JONES: Do you think Africa is an s-hole continent?
MILLER: We have to reform --
JONES: Jason --
MILLER: We have to reform. I think that the president --
JONES: Maybe we do. Jason, I'm talking to you man to man. I'm talking to you person to person.
MILLER: Don't try to bait me, Van. I'm giving you straight answers.
JONES: Do you think Africa is an s-hole continent, yes or no?
MILLER: You know, there are lots of s-hole places all around the world.
JONES: Do you think Africa is an s-hole continent?
MILLER: -- effort to try to bait me because --
JONES: It's what your president said and not me.
MILLER: You've run out of ideas. You've run out of ideas so you're trying to bait me on something --
JONES: No -- do you want to have a conversation about immigration?
COOPER: OK, let me bring in -- let me bring in Bakari Sellers.
COOPER: Nobody can hear when we're all talking.
Bakari, we haven't heard from you.
When -- I mean, Jason is saying, you know, that there's a lot of shithole countries. I mean, why don't we -- let's just use the word the president is using. If it's good enough for the president of the United States to use it, I think the American people deserve to hear the words the president is using. The idea that all countries in Africa are shitholes is just woefully ignorant. It's just -- I mean, it's just moronic and it shows the president knows nothing.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but I think that -- I mean I have to give Jason the name of my chiropractor for getting in that pretzel to defend this nonsense. I mean, the comments that the president made were asinine, they were ignorant, any other adjective you want to add to this discussion. But why are we surprised? I mean, why is this breaking news?
I mean, if we go back in history, this is the same man sued by the Department of Justice and used to put a little "C" on black people's applications for color. Why are we surprised? This is the same person who was sued by African-American and minority dealers in his casino. Why are we surprised? This is the same man who still has not apologized for the Central Park Five.
I mean, down here in South Carolina, we look our and throw our hands up to black folk and said we have tried to tell you this is who this man was. It's not as if he was just showing you his heart today. Stokely Carmichael once said a white man who wants to lynch me, that is his problem. A white man who has the power to lynch me, that is my problem.
Racism is a question of power, not of attitude. So when we say that the president of the United States is racist, it's because he harbors these views and he has the power to implement policy which subjugate these people to oppress the systems. I mean, this is not rocket science. And I'm not surprised at all.
And I'm actually more surprise and this is what drives me up a wall, Anderson. This is the problem with the discussion that we're having. People want to say, oh, my God, he's talking to economic anxiety voters or he's giving red meat to his base. The hell with all of that.
I am sick and tired of the good people in this country who support Donald Trump, who will not stand up and call this for what it is. We have an issue with race in this country that dates long back before Donald Trump and long back before Barack Obama and George Bush and Bill Clinton and George Bush. But we have never dealt with that issue because good people sit on their hands.
BAKARI: If you cannot sit here on live TV and say that what the president of the United States, be his friend or not his friend, said was racist, then you are not contributing to making this a more perfect union. This is the frustrating part of this whole thing.
COOPER: I've got to take a quick break. I want to hear what Marc Lotter has to say when we come back. And we'll continue this conversation. Much more ahead. We'll be right back.
[20:22:57] COOPER: The breaking news tonight, word that the president today disparaged immigrants coming from what he called shithole countries, referring to African nations, in fact, the entire continent of Africa and Haiti.
Joining me now is Congressman Cedric Richman, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Congressman, you released a statement earlier that said the president's comments are further proof that his "Make America Great Again" agenda is make America white again agenda.
When you heard the remarks he made today. What's your thinking?
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Well, the sad part is I wasn't surprised. You know, we've come to a really sad place in our country when the president speaks, one, you're not surprised by anything he says and, two, you escort the children out of the room because you don't know what's going to come out of his mouth.
And today is just one of those days where he's feeling pressure from his base and as any great three-card Monte player, he creates a distraction. So, there was no secret meeting with U.S. senators that using the word a shithouse describing African countries that it could get leaked, but it keeps us from talking about his failure to live up to his commitment to the DREAMers.
It takes us off of message of what we should be talking about and we're just talking about how racially insensitive he is, how ignorant it is or how simple-minded the comment is and how so many people just find this to be normal and are making excuses for the president. That's almost just as troubling as the other parts.
COOPER: Well, this notion that the White House thinks these comments will play well with the president's base, that just seems like, I mean, again, in all of the sadness of this day, and the most cynically possible way to spend it, I mean, I don't know if that's true or not, but it's just pathetic.
Do you believe this will play well with the president's base?
RICHMOND: I can't hear.
COOPER: Sorry. Do you hear me now?
[20:25:02] RICHMOND: No, I can't. I can't hear, Anderson.
COOPER: I'm afraid we lost you.
RICHMOND: OK, I can hear you now.
COOPER: All right. Do you think this will play well with the president's base?
RICHMOND: Well, unfortunately, every time he says something like this, it does play well with his base, or at least a segment of his base who his America first and America only. So, it's almost like code words that the president uses, but he always use it when there's other term off.
So, when he made his first immigration comments the other day on live TV when he said that the bill should be crafted with love, he got crushed from his base, talking about he was going back on word. That he was allowing amnesty.
So, today gave him a chance to show that he was tough. And that he would get rid of the diversity visa and stop all from the people from the shithouse like Africa coming over, when the facts show that when you're talking about attaining college degrees, African immigrants do a better job than everyone else.
So, we're not talking about facts. We're really talking about emotions. And I think that he is one of the best in the world at dividing people and distracting people from the real issues. And that's the unfortunate part about it, because we're not talking about DREAMers tonight. We're talking about racially insensitive comments, racist comments coming from the president of the United States as opposed to how do we keep government running past the 19. How do we fulfill the promise to the DREAMers? We are distracted and I think that was his ultimate goal.
COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
The president repeatedly said he is the least racist person ever, including on this network when he was interviewed by Don Lemon during the campaign. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Are you racist.
TRUMP: I am least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel.
Marc Lotter, you work closely with the vice president. I cannot imagine the vice president of the United States ever saying anything like this. Can you?
MARC LOTTER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I mean, let's be honest. This is not Nickelodeon. And there was a story on CNN --
COOPER: I don't know what that means.
LOTTER: But --
COOPER; Can you imagine the vice president -- I'm asking you, can you imagine the vice president, the man you work for ever saying anything like this, yes or no?
LOTTER: That's not the kind of language that the vice president would use. But let's be honest, this salty language. This is going back to presidents going back, all the way back to Harry Truman.
COOPER: There is salty and there's racist. Do you believe this was racist language?
LOTTER: He is talking about his immigration goals of our country, which is --
COOPER: No black people from Africa or Haiti, correct?
LOTTER: No, it's not where you're from. It's who you are. He wants it based on bringing in the best and brightest.
COOPER: So, why is he talking about shithole countries?
LOTTER: He is talking about bringing in large numbers of people just by based on where you are from, not who you are. So, he has talked about merit-based from beginning. He wants America to attract the best and brightest.
COOPER: He is not talking about countries. He's talking about the entire continent of Africa.
LOTTER: What he was talking about was is he is talking about a merit based system. I looked up a few minutes before I came in. Norway is the seventh highest educated country in the world. Why would we not want more people from Norway not because of the color of their skin, but because they're highly educated.
COOPER: And not have more black people from Africa? Because, I mean, as I think to Bakari's point, college education levels are actually very high. Van -- college education level are actually very high from African immigrants.
LOTTER: And the president is talking about having a merit based system. Not based on where you're from --
SELLERS: But this is crazy.
SELLERS: This is --
COOPER: Go ahead.
SELLERS: This is insane.
The fact that we're having this conversation with educated people on national TV is insane, because you don't understand the fundamental values of diversity. I mean, you don't understand the people who come from different parts of the world to the greatest country in the world bring various tools. They have different value.
And yes, if you can't sit here and rebuke the comments by the president of the United States -- if this was merit-based system based on some intellect, then I'm going to sign up to deport Donald Trump.
I mean, listen to this, what are we talking about? People who come from Nigeria, people who come from Liberia, the Cameroon, South Africa, Tanzania. Look, they bring value to this country.
We have had poor immigrants from Ireland come to this country. But I don't hear people talking about this them. We've had poor infantries from white countries. But you want to bring somebody who wants to bring their intellect or
maybe want to work with heir hands, but they want to bring value to the United States of America and you say no because they're have a shit hole because of the color of their skin.
MILLER: In many ways, we're seeing the same things. I mean, I think we all want America to remain the place where everyone in the world wants to come. What the president is saying that we have to prioritize people based on the merit based system. That's why he wants to go and reform it.
And again, he is saying there shouldn't be carve-outs and I went through the list. There shouldn't be carve-outs for Norway.
COOPER: Is there any white, predominantly white or Caucasian country that the president has called a shithole?
MILLER: I haven't had a full conversation on every place in the world.
COOPER: Well, no, I'm just asking. To your knowledge, there is no predominately white country the president has called a shithole. I mean, we know he doesn't like Muslim countries, or Central America or Mexico.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well no, I'm just asking you -- to your knowledge there is no predominantly white country that president has called the shithole? I mean we all know --
COOPER: -- or Central America or Mexico, and now the entire continent of Africa as well as Haiti. I'm just wondering if you can name one country that has a problem, that has a majority Caucasian population that the president doesn't want people from that country?
JASON MILLER, COMMUNICATION STRATEGIS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: He wants the best and the brightest and you're trying to make this --
COOPER: No, I'm waiting different to say. You know, what there some problems in Norway, there some problem in Sweden, I mean the idea that he picks Norway is -- Van go ahead.
MILLER: Because he never spoke leader of Norway yesterday. COOPER: So last guy in the room, that's what on his mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also said Asia. I mean it's --
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How can't have it both ways.
MILLER: But you're asking for it both ways as well. He happened to see him yesterday.
JONES: Let me say a few things.
COOPER: All right, he also said Asia.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson?
COOPER: He generalized to the entire Asian population as good people to have in this country as well. I mean again that's racist. Van, go ahead.
MILLER: But your higher level psychologist.
COOPER: One at a time. Van go ahead and -- Van.
JONES: I have the floor. So here's what I want to point out. Whenever they try to defend what Trump is just, I don't -- let's just have an honest conversation. They don't talk about what Trump said. They say we only care about an individuals and merit and all this great stuff, which nobody can argue with. Unfortunately that is not what the president said. And so yes, listen, we can argue about diversity visas --
MILLER: That's what the meeting is about.
JONES: Hold on second, I'm talking. We can talk about whether, you know, diversity visas which, you know, Bakari and I are for is better than skills based, et cetera. That's a rationale conversation that grump people can have. That -- the word shithole would never come up in that conversation. And the fact that we are here now for almost through the first half hour of the show and no one from this administration has come on to say no one should call any country or continent a shithole. No one to tell call a continent a shithole, that that is a bridge too far. To ought you something about the character of the Trump movement at this point.
COOPER: I going to take another quick break. We're going to continue the conversation. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[20:35:39] COOPER: Ana -- we're back now with the panel. Ana, the breaking news were the president say or referred to African nations and Haiti as shithole countries while talking about immigration in Oval Office meeting, as state and Republican Congressman Mia Love of Utah, whose Haitian-American said the president must apologize. Part of the statement I read and I quote, "This behavior is unacceptable from leader of the nation. My parents came from one of those countries, took an oath of allegiance to it and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with.
I'm back now with the panel. Ana, I mean the White House, you know, they were quick three weeks ago to say, well no in this meeting that was White House staffed, and all know the president didn't say that all Haitians have aids and that Nigerians, you know, all live in huts. Those statements now ring a lot more true based on what he said today and amazingly the White House is not denying he said what his -- what -- it was reported that he said today.
NAVARRO: Well they can't deny when you have people of the moral clarity of a Dick Durbin and a Lindsey Graham and a Mario Diaz Balart who were there and who heard it. Mario Diaz Balart who represents South Florida whether are enormous amount of Haitians and Haitian- Americans living here. He can't deny it, he can't deny when there are people of that caliber who were there and heard it, and it tells you just how shamelessly racist here. This is not something that he's saying in dark of night, because not something that he's thinking on his head. Let me tell you, you know why he doesn't like the visa lottery, because it's the way Africans come here.
You know why he doesn't like TPS, Temporary Protective Status, because right now, it covers Haitians, it covers Salvadorans. You know what Haitians and Africans have in common? They are incompletely different parts of the world, completely different continents, they are black, they are black. But Donald Trump has shown us his dark heart, has shown his racism.
I am as desperate as anybody for there to be a DACA deal, for there to be a deal on DREAMERS. But we cannot normalize the fact that Donald Trump has turned the Oval Office into a shithole, into a morally bankrupt place, where there are lie and division and racism that comes out every single day. That cannot be normalized by Republicans. I applaud, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbel and Mia Love and all the people in the Republican Party who are refusing to look the other way and normalize this appalling behavior by this man who today occupies the White House.
And let me just tell you this, I am probably a few miles away from little Haiti. I assure you that it, that (INAUDIBLE) goes tomorrow to the Doral Country Club owned by Donald Trump, they're going to find a lot of people from shithole countries working for minimum wage there for him. Maybe that something they should do.
COOPER: Well actually, when I was looking today, people from Haiti actually are among I think is the second biggest group of people who are brought in to work at Mar-a-Largo --
NAVARRO: Of course they are.
COOPER: I'll have to confirm that. Mark, I mean is this -- are you proud of the president's statements today?
MARC LOTTER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I stand with the president in terms of the fact that we need to reform our immigration.
COOPER: All right, I asked you are you proud of the president's statement today or your standing by those statements?
LOTTER: Well, I was not in those meetings. So I can't attest to the veracity of them.
COOPER: Or the White House is attesting the veracity by not denying the statement. So assuming -- unless you say the White House is lying, assuming these statements are correct, do you stand by -- are you proud of the statements? It's a simple question.
LOTTER: Well I choose to view this in the way and the intended they were and the way it was intended which is talking about our broader immigration system --
COOPER: I don't understand what that means, I'm just going to ask one more time and then I let it go, because clearly you don't want to answer. I guess you're not saying that your -- your not willing to say you're proud of president calling Africa shithole and Haiti the same.
LOTTER: I'm not going to get into specific comments that he made except --
COOPER: Why not? Because he's president of the United States and that's what we're talking about. The specific comments he made, you can make up other statements that you wish he made but these are the statement he made. So you don't want to make a comment about the actual statements?
LOTTER: In context of what he was talking about, an immigration discussion, talking about temporary protective status, in the context of that discussion, he was about talking about --
LOTTER: -- his broader --
COOPER: But you're not proud --
COOPER: I mean -- OK, I've asked you six times. Clearly not going to answer.
Van, like if people are going to stand by it, I mean they should stand by it, but not pretend that he said something else.
JONES: I agree. And one thing we have that has to come with, can you imagine if President Obama had said I don't want anybody from European countries. I want people from Africa.
[20:40:08] What would the reaction from the right wing or from conservatives have been, it would have been complete bedlam, and there's a reason for that. It's a dumb thing to say, it would have been racist to say and there's no way to square that circle. What -- my concern is not with Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump shows his heart over and over again. I am concerned that we have -- I'm proud that Mia Love came forward. every Republican, this -- the Republican Party, I hate to say this, Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, it was founded to be a radical anti-slavery party sticking up for dignity of every individual human, that's what the Republican Party is supposed to be. How can it be hard for Republicans to sit on this show and say anything other than he should never have said that. We can disagree about policy.
NAVARRO: It's not a word at all.
JONES: But to seeing now.
COOPER: Do you Bakari, I mean if a klansman in a white hood mumbled this under his hood while burning a cross saying, oh Africa is a shithole, all Haitians have AIDS, Haitians should get out, we don't want any more of them here. I've know Republicans would say look that's outrageous, that's disgusting that person said that.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But -- but the --
COOPER: If somebody with a skin head, you know, with a shaved head said that while marching in Charlottesville with a tiki torch, people have said, well that's repugnant. That they said that, if the most powerful person in the planet seating in the White House to saying it cuff links in a nice suit on -- I guess it surprises me more Republicans aren't saying well, you know, having a problem with it.
SELLERS: That's because racists -- Anderson and with all due respect, racists don't wear hoods anymore, instead they wear brooks brothers suit and oftentimes they get their own TV shows. So, I mean the fact of the matter is that, this is not anything new to many of us who were trying to shatter the system of a pressure and justice and racism. But I guess it's new and sensationalized because the leader of the free world said it.
You know, timing of this for me is what's most difficult. We are 50 years away since -- it's 50 years 1968. In 1968 you had the Orangeburg massacre, you had the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and you had the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. We celebrate his birthday on Monday.
And so I want everybody under the sound of my voice to understand that any words that come out of the president of the United States mouth talking about King Day, talking about unity, talking about peace, talking about love is a bold-faced lie. Because we know what he says behind closed doors. Six months before Dr. King was assassinated, he was having trouble with his own dream, he said people were growing frustrated because the dream of this country had shipwrecked off the coast of Vietnam. He was having trouble realizing getting people to believe in the dream that he thought was at the mountaintop. We are all frustrated because we believe that this American dream does not exist for people of color and the president showed us that.
COOPER: We got to take a break. I appreciate the discussion.
Up next, tweets from President Trump on the nation's surveillance program, to send leaders on Capitol Hill scrambling. We'll have also more the president's comments today at the White House.
[20:45:52] COOPER: We're going have more on the president's racist comments today at the White House. And more on Haiti coming up.
But there was another surprising moment at White House today. Stop me if you've heard that one before. The whole dustup was over series of contradictory tweets send by the president. They came as the house was set to vote on a reauthorization the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act otherwise known as FISA.
Specifically, an extension of section 702, which impart allows the intelligence community to monitor foreign communication, it's been credited with stopping terror plots. Critics say it allows more or less surveillance at 7:33 this morning, the president took issue of FISA writing on Twitter, "House votes on controversial FISA Act today. This is the act that may have been used with the help of the discredited and phony dossier to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign by the previous administration and others" oddly place question mark.
And that led to confusion on Capitol Hill. Lawmaker said, so themselves including some Republicans and the key to confusion as well founded because the administration had less than 12 hours before the president's tweet. Send out a statement in support of the FISA reauthorization. So for almost two hours no one could figure out it where exactly the White House actually stood, until the president went back on the Twitter machine and reverse course back to support for FISA with this post at 9:14 a.m. With that being said, "I have personally directed to fix to unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land, we need it. Get smart."
The vote then took place, it passed this afternoon. I asked about the confusion contradictory tweets, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders appeal and insisted of course there was no confusion.
SARACH SANDERS, SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS: We don't think there was a conflict at all. We don't see any contradiction or confusion on that. We won't confuse, but some of you guys were. President has been clear about what his position is, I'm not sure what the confusion is there.
COOPER: Yes, no confusion at all. It must be us.
Joining us now, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper the former director of National Intelligence. Director, thanks for being with us.
I'm wondering first of all how you interpret the president's tweets on FISA, because there is the issue of him a, not knowing the specifics of the actual law and b, conflating this with his personal grudges against the intelligence community.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I don't know about that, but it was very disturbing to use one of the president's favorite tweet adjectives, it's sad that apparently he didn't understand exactly what Section 702 is all about, which is designed to govern the collection on non-U.S. persons overseas. And I guess it gets to his allegation about -- absurd allegation about surveilling Trump Tower. And 702 had nothing to do with that. And similarly conflating that with the dossier, which to be clear, is not an intelligence product or intelligence document.
So -- and apparently this stemmed from watching "Fox & Friends," and that's in fact the first line of his first tweet, came from the scroll from Fox News. So I just hope nobody on "Fox & Friends" tells him go bomb North Korea.
COOPER: Right, I mean you would think the president would have people who could easily brief him on what is actually happening on Capitol Hill that he wouldn't have to glean the information from, you know, the, you know, well-informed folks on "Fox & Friends."
CLAPPER: Well, it is and he does have very competent people around him in the White House that do understand what 702 is and how important it is. It is absolutely vital for the safety and security of this country. It contributes thousands of intelligence -- generates thousands of intelligence reports every year and is one of the primary sources of information if not the primary source of information for items that go into his own president's daily brief.
COOPER: I want to ask for your reaction today on the president's comments about immigrants from, you know, Africa, from Haiti, what he calls shithole countries. You served your country in the military, and the civilian side of the government. What do you want to -- what do you make what the president said?
CLAPPER: Well, having -- as you alluded Anderson, having served this country in one capacity or another for 50 plus years, I was appalled, embarrassed. I'm out of adjectives that have not already been used. It's vulgar, despicable, it's racist, it doesn't befit the office. And I can already imagine the international reaction that that is already generating. It's very, very disappointing.
[20:50:30] COOPER: I mean, to -- first of all, to talk about Africa as if it's one country and all the same, is just moronic on a level that's really hard I think -- I mean for anybody's spent time anytime in Africa, to understand, but let alone read, you know, a map. It just seems like the president paints with a very broad brush, I mean all -- somehow for some reasons linking Haiti and Africa, the only commonality being the color of the skin of many of the people on the continent.
CLAPPER: Well, I lived in Africa, I lived in Africa as a child and Eritrea and now part of the Ethiopia. There are some 53 countries in Africa with a broad diversity and there are many people of African descent who have come to this country and made huge contributions. So it is really sad, disappointing and falling et cetera, to make a blanket accusation like that. And I get it on what, you know, the academic discussions about policy discussions about immigration reform, but there's this no tap dancing around what he did. And what he said, it's terrible.
COOPER: Yes, Director Clapper, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Up next, we're going to have to hear from the writer who work on the "Art of the Deal". The man who actually wrote it, what Tony Schwartz has to say about the president's racist comments today?
[20:56:10] COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, in the Oval Office meeting today as you know, the president of the United States asks why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here, including Haiti and the continent of African countries. In fact the continent Africa, some perspective now from someone who knows the president well, having spend plenty of time with him writing the "Art of the Deal", here's what Tony Schwartz had to say just before air when I asked him if the president's comment was racist.
TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR, ART OF THE DEAL: Well, yes, racist clearly, hateful. And in some sense more revealingly so reflective of the narrowness of the world to which he gives any value. If you aren't like me, he saying effectively and he believes deep in his heart, if you're not rich and white and male, you're not worth anything. And that's a moment of great candor on his part when he says what he did today. And the notion what we have to parse whether or not it's actually he did say it, he said it just like that. He said that phrase or it's equivalent hundreds of times. And the idea that we have a president who sees the world not only through a self-centered lens, but through a lens that is so hateful to so many groups it's just extraordinary.
COOPER: Tony Schwartz.
Before we go tonight, I just want to take a moment to talk about Haiti, one of the place the president of United States referred to today as a shithole country. I was taught math in high school by a Haitian immigrant name Yves Volel who work hard, who dedicate themselves to teaching kids of America. He ultimately returned to his country in Haiti and was assassinated while running for president.
I spend a lot of time in Haiti, I first went there in the early 1990s, as a young reporter. In 2010, my team from CNN was the first international team of journalists on the ground after the earthquake struck. I spent more than a month there and have return many times on assignment and on vacation. Like all countries, Haiti is a collection of people, it's rich and poor, well-educated, not good and bad many. But I've never met a Haitian who isn't strong. You have to be to survive in a place where the government has often abandoned this people, where opportunities are few and where mother nature has punished the people far more than anyone should ever be published.
But let me be clear tonight, the people of Haiti have been through more, they've been through more, they've with stood more, they fought back against more injustice than our president ever has.
Tomorrow marks exactly eight years since the earthquake struck Haiti, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed between 220,000 and 300,000 people. The actual numbers will never be known, because they were buried in unmarked pits. One and a half million people were displaced. For days and weeks without help from their own government or police, the people of Haiti dug through rubble with their bare and bloodied hands to save complete strangers. Guided only by the cries of the wounded and the dying. I was there when a young girl name Bee (ph) who'd been trapped in rubble for nearly a day was rescued by people who had no heavy equipment, they just had their God given strength and their determination and their courage.
I was there when a 5-year-old boy name Mangly (ph) was rescued after being buried for more than seven days. Do you know what strength it takes to survive on rainwater buried under concrete, a 5-year-old boy buried for seven days. Haitians slap your hand hard when they shake it, they look you in the eye. They don't blink, they stand tall and they have a dignity. It's a dignity many in this White House could learn from. It's a dignity the president with all his money and all his power could learn from as well.
On the anniversary of the earthquake, on this day, when this president has said what he's said about Haitians, we hope the people on Haiti who are listening tonight, and (INAUDIBLE) L.A. and Miami and elsewhere, we hope they know that our thoughts are with them and our love is with them as well.
[21:00:11] Thanks very much for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris?