Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

White House Chief of Staff: Vetting of Democrats' Memo Will Be Done in A Responsible Way; President Trump Tells Pentagon to Plan a Military Parade; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California; Kelly: Some Dreamers "Too Lazy to Get Off Their Asses;" Pres. Trump: "Let's Have A Shutdown" If No Deal on Immigration; Sen. Flake: "Treason Is Not a Punchline, Mr. President"; WH: Pres Trump Was Joking When He Accused Democrats of Treason; Biden on Whether Pres. Trump Should Talk to Mueller; Biden: I'd Advise Pres. Trump Not to Talk to Mueller; Will Biden Run In 2020?; Will Democratic Memo Be Released? Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired February 6, 2018 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. A big night of breaking news.

We begin right now keeping them honest on the memos and the question of the White House double standard. As you know, Democratic rebuttal to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' memo alleging FBI and Justice Department bias is on the president's desk. He's got until Saturday whether or not to make it public, and which if any parts of it to leave out.

Now, listen to what Press Secretary Sarah Sanders late today about how this will happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has seen the memo. He met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein within the last hour to discuss some of the differences between the two memo memos. And we are undergoing the exact same process that we did with the previous memo in which it will go through a full and thorough legal and national security review. We're in the middle of that process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're undergoing the exact same process with this memo as the last one, that's what she said.

Keeping them honest, it's hard to see exactly how. This memo claims to rebut the one that President Trump said after reading it that it vindicates him entirely in the Russia investigation. Now, leaving aside the fact that it does not in fact do that, it's hard to know exactly what process there really was in the release of the Nunes memo, perhaps only the appearance of one.

And it's not just us saying it. The president himself said that he wanted the Nunes memo out before he'd even seen it. He said it on camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let's release the memo.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, yes. Don't worry. A hundred percent. Can you imagine that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, apparently, the president could imagine. As CNN was first to report, the president was also boasting to friends in the days surrounding his getting the memo from Congress that it would, according to two sources, expose bias within the FBI's top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him.

And as "The Washington Post" reported when he first learned about the memo from conservative friends and on cable news, he was determined, sight unseen, that it had to come out.

So, I want to play part of that Sarah Sanders sound again because there's something else that jumps out.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: We are undergoing the exact same process that we did with the previous memo in which it will go through a full and thorough legal and national security review. We're in the middle of that process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A thorough national security review, she said there, suggesting, of course, that the White House would listen carefully and take the counsel of the relevant national security agencies. Which really makes sense, except it doesn't because this is what FBI Director Chris Wray, the FBI director picked by this president, had to say about the Republican memo. Director Wray cautioned against its release, saying the bureau had, quote, grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.

And, of course, despite that unprecedented statement, the memo was released anyway. So, keeping them honest, it's not clear how much of a process there was last time. If the Democrat memo is released after undergoing the kind of careful interagency scrutiny that Sarah Sanders is suggesting the last one did, it seems it would be a first. And if the memo is not released, the question will be asked, was that too a foregone conclusion?

So, with that in mind, let's go to CNN's Pamela Brown at White House.

So, Pamela, I understand Chief of Staff John Kelly just weighed in on the Democratic rebuttal memo. What did he say? PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as you'll recall, Anderson, last week, the White House was saying it wanted to release the Nunes memo for transparency. But General Kelly, the White House chief of staff, would not commit today one way or the other on Capitol Hill, speaking to reporters, if the White House would indeed support releasing the Democrats' memo. He also wouldn't say one way or the other whether there would be redactions.

Now, he was asked by a reporter on Capitol Hill whether he was leaning towards releasing it even just a little. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REPORTER: Are you leaning towards releasing it? At least a little?

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, I would say -- I mean, this is a different memo that the first one, it's lengthier, it's -- well, it's different. So, not leaning towards it. It will be done in a responsible way.

But again, the first one was very clean, relative to sources and methods. My initial cut is this one is a lot less clean. But at the end of it all, it will be guys like Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray from FBI, certainly the national security attorneys at the White House giving the president a recommendation on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now, for comparison, the Nunes memo, the Republicans' memo, was 3 1/2 pages. The Democrats' memo is 10 pages. And today, Rod Rosenstein, the embattled deputy attorney general, was here at the White House meeting not only with Chief Kelly, with the Chief of Staff Kelly, and with Don McGahn, White House counsel, but also with the president.

And as you'll recall, last Friday, Anderson, the president was asked whether he had confidence in Rosenstein. He was mentioned in the Nunes memo.

[20:05:00] The president said, you tell me.

But today, Rosenstein was here and he will weigh in on what redactions if any should be made to this memo, or what should happen with it, along with other national security officials. Those recommendations are expected to be provided to the White House on Thursday. From there, we're told the president will be briefed and then will make a final decision on whether or not it supports the releasing of the Democrats' memo, Anderson.

COOPER: It is interesting to hear, Pamela, General Kelly say, you know, it's up to Chris Wray and advice from Rosenstein and national security people at the White House. I mean, Chris Wray and Rod Rosenstein both met with General Kelly, asking him and the White House, not to release the Nunes memo.

BROWN: That's right, and Chris Wray made a big statement to the public when he said that releasing the Nunes memo presented, quote, grave concerns. But yet, the White House went ahead anyway and released that memo.

Now in terms of redactions and them weighing in, the Republicans on Capitol Hill said that Chris Wray did weigh in and there were changes made to the Republicans' memo before it ever came to the White House. That is why the White House didn't make any redactions.

So, it will be interesting to see how this plays out and what recommendations, if any, the FBI and Rod Rosenstein with DOJ makes.

COOPER: Yes, Pamela Brown, thanks very much.

Joining us now, Democratic member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California.

Congresswoman Speier, do you think the president is actually going too allow the Democratic memo to be released? I mean, if he's listening to Chris Wray and Rod Rosenstein, it seems like that would be a first in this process.

SPEIER: Well, we've already sent our memo to Chris Wray and Rod Rosenstein. So, their edits have already been made. The fact that the president --

COOPER: Did they have edits to the memo?

SPEIER: We haven't -- I haven't received it back yet but I believe that whatever edits they were going to make, we were going to stand by them. If he's going to stand by the attorney general and the FBI director, then we should be good.

But let me suggest that what will happen is the president will probably release the memo. He will redact it heavily because he does not want to have the, you know, book report that was basically the Republican proposal of three pages, compared to what is the equivalent of a ten-page post grad dissertation that is fully functional in terms of footnotes and that is very in-depth.

So, I would be surprised if we see our memo released in a manner that's going to be helpful to the American public.

COOPER: Do you think it would be changed to a degree that would make it less impactful from your perspective?

SPEIER: Without a doubt. That's what the intention will be. They certainly don't want to overshadow the memo that was put out by the Republicans.

Our memo is very, very in-depth. Very dense, actually. It took me a good 25 minutes to read it and fully comprehend it.

COOPER: Do you believe that there are concerns about sources and methods in the Democratic memo?

SPEIER: If there are and the FBI and the Department of Justice redacts it, we'll stand strong and right by them in terms of not criticizing that. We never wanted the memo released in the first place. We never wanted sources and methods to be exposed.

And I think that that's one of the great dangers of moving down this path. It is not good for our country. You know, we rely heavily on sources around the world in other countries and many of our allies. They're going to be loath to participate with us, offer us intelligence, if they think that they are going to be subject to this kind of outing.

COOPER: If this memo is released, the Democratic memo is released by the president, and there are redactions, will it be clear to the public, will it be clear to you and others on the committee, about the source of those redactions? Whether in fact they did come from the FBI or from Rod Rosenstein, or if in fact they were something from national security people within the White House itself?

SPEIER: Yes, there will be, because we have submitted ours to the DOJ and the FBI. They have returned it to us with whatever redactions they want. So, I think that any additional ones will clearly come from the White House.

COOPER: I just want to turn to a late-breaking story. President Trump has told top military brass he wants a military parade in Washington, D.C., originally reported by "The Washington Post." The demand from the president was apparently inspired by the Bastille Day parade he attended in France which he was very impressed by.

A military official told "The Washington Post," quote: the marching orders were I want a parade like the one in France.

I'm wondering, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, what's your reaction to that idea?

SPEIER: I was stunned by it, to be quite honest. I mean, we have a Napoleon in the making here. And I believe that we have so many issues around the world in terms of preparing for wars that are ongoing and wars that may be in the offing because of what's happening in North Korea that I would say that it's really a waste of money. And I think everyone should be offended by his need to always be showing. He's truly Napoleon-like.

COOPER: You think that parade is more about him? Because I think he would argue or other maybe Republicans who support the idea, others who support the idea, would say it's a way of honoring our troops, it's a way of showing off their capabilities, and also, you know, showing off the country's pride in them.

SPEIER: You know, any of those kind of military parades that I've seen in the past, it is all about authoritarian regimes, frankly, with maybe the exception of France. But it's not our style. It's not the way we do business. And I really object to it. I think it's going to cost a lot of money.

So what's really in it for the American people?

COOPER: Congresswoman Speier, appreciate your time. Thank you.

I want to bring in CNN military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General Hertling, what went through your mind when you heard the president wants this military parade and plans are in the works?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I had to smile, Anderson. It's an interesting request from the president to his military.

COOPER: Smile, happy smile, or smile mystified smile?

HERTLING: Smile, bemused smile. It is something that, I'll be honest with you, Anderson. I'll state my bias upfront. I dislike parades personally very much. I don't know a whole lot of soldiers who like them.

But from a factual basis, as Congressman Speier just said, this is going to cost a lot of money. There are going to be a whole bunch of rehearsals. The kind of parade president Trump envisions coming down Pennsylvania Avenue or Constitution Avenue, asphalt streets are different than the ones they hold in Red Square or Tiananmen Square or on the cobblestone of the Champs-Elysees.

It is interesting that you put a 70-ton M1 tank on those roads and it's going to chew it up. You have to have rehearsals for that. You have to ship the tanks and the equipment in, because there are very few military bases around Washington, D.C.

So, I think this is -- you know, I was just thinking about what the chairman, how he might have responded to this. I think initially he probably rolled his eyes. I won't speak for General Dunford but he probably rolled his eyes, we've got to delay that and not even bring that up.

And when it kept being brought up, I mean, the military will do whatever the commander-in-chief asks them to do, but it's not a good idea for our military, in my humble opinion.

COOPER: You say people in the military do not like parades. I'm wondering why that is.

HERTLING: Because you feel -- first of all, you have to rehearse a lot for 'em, you walk a lot for 'em, you have to shine your equipment and get your equipment prepared. I mean, you're not going to put a tank off the tank line at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and put on it a rail car, and bring to it Washington, and just have it rolling down the street. You've got to fix it up. That's part of the essence of a parade is to look good.

And that's what they do in China, Russia, France to a lesser degree. So, there will be a lot of effort, a lot of resources placed on this during a time when the military is doing a whole lot of other things. And I got to tell you, across the board, my take, and I think I speak for a great majority of military members, we don't like parades. COOPER: I'm wondering, do you think the idea of this is -- says

something about the president himself? I mean, do you think it's more about him than it is about the troops?

HERTLING: Well, I have my thoughts on that, Anderson, I won't say what they are. But here's what I will tell you. It is not in the culture of the United States military. That is not who we are from our Founding Fathers.

The military, we're civilians that came together and protected our democracy. It's not an overt effort to show how tough you are. We come together, we fight wars when we have to, and we do the kind of things we need to do. And there's not a whole lot of -- there shouldn't be in my view a whole lot of chest-thumping and, you know, these overt means of showing how tough you are.

As Congresswoman Speier said, that's for tin horn democracies. But having said that, if the president wants a parade, I'm sure the military is trying their best to put one together. I'm glad I'm not wearing the uniform right now, even though I love the military.

COOPER: General Mark Hertling, appreciate it, thanks.

HERTLING: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you, Anderson.

Coming up next, the verbal hand grenade that Chief of Staff Kelly lobbed into the immigration debate, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are just too lazy to apply for legal protection, as he put it, quote: some would say they would too lazy to get off their asses.

Also tonight, a CNN exclusive interview with former Vice President Joe Biden and his surprising advice for President Trump on the Russia probe, he says don't talk to special counsel Mueller. We'll explain why, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:51] COOPER: The president tonight appears to be heading toward a showdown with Congress and perhaps a government shutdown over immigration policy. He says without a deal he's OK shutting the government down.

Meantime, his Chief of Staff John Kelly added fuel to what is already combustible mix with these remarks on Dreamers.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants. And the president sent over what amongst to be two and a half times that number to 1.8 million. The difference between 690,000 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up. (END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, as you might imagine, that touch off a storm.

CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now.

Jim, you pressed Sarah Sanders on Kelly's comments, what was her response?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Anderson, mainly because -- I mean, this appears to be one of a long line of offensive comments coming out of the White House aimed at immigrants in the context of this immigration debate. Keep in mind the president has said in the past, we love the Dreamers.

Well, if you listen to his chief of staff, it doesn't sound like at least the chief of staff loves the Dreamers. He was essentially describing them as slackers earlier today. Here's how it played out in the briefing room when I pressed the White House press secretary on General Kelly's comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Just on the face of it, isn't that just a wildly offensive comment about these undocumented immigrants who are waiting for some kind of solution to come out of this city?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the only person that's actually offered a solution is this administration. The president's been a championed of giving 1.8 million DACA recipients and DACA eligible people a pathway to citizenship, and he's laid a plan and a solution that actually addresses both Republicans and Democrats' concerns. I think it's hard to argue with that statement.

SANDERS: On the surface of that, isn't it just an offensive comment, though, isn't it, just on its surface?

SANDERS: I think that's something you would have to decide for yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So, Anderson, as you can see, she didn't answer the question. But we should point out, Dreamers who are brought to this country through no fault of their own have spent most of their life not being lazy and sitting on their asses, they've been working their butts off. They've been working their asses off, to be blunt, keeping their noses clean, keeping their records clean, working hard in school. Some of them are in the military.

They've been the opposite of lazy. A lot of immigration advocates would argue that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I understand General Kelly was pressed late tonight on his comment, what did he say? Is he backtracking?

ACOSTA: Yes, and we should point out, Anderson, there's some new reporting from our Capitol Hill colleagues that the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer actually confronted General Kelly in a closed-door meeting about these comments that he made about these Dreamers being too lazy to get off their asses to sign up for DACA. And apparently, this exchange went back and forth, and General Kelly did not back down. Apparently, he doubled down in talking to reporters after that meeting.

He put it this way. I've got to say that some of them, talking about the Dreamers, should have probably gotten off the couch and signed up for DACA protection from deportation.

So while he toned down the language a little bit are the thrust of his comments remains. He is not backing off of this comment that he believes some of the Dreamers out there, some of these 700,000 Dreamers, were too lazy to sign up for protection from deportation. If you talk to many of them, they would say just the opposite.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate that.

Two views on this now from two CNN political commentators, Steve Cortes, a former Trump campaign adviser, and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Maria, General Kelly sort of rephrase this, but it didn't really seem like he's walking it back, just saying, you know, they were too busy sitting on the couch. Is that an improvement?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, absolutely not. Frankly, it underscores the offensive manner in which General Kelly sees immigrants. I mean, it was naked bigotry at its best. What is so disgusting about this, Anderson, is that General Kelly, the leader in the military, immigrants -- and I bet you Dreamers -- served under him.

And for now, for him to come out and say, call them lazy, and that for him that is a reason that almost half of them did not come out to sign up for DACA, perhaps it's because they foresaw a xenophobic administration could follow the Obama administration and they were afraid to turn in their information because of what exactly is happening now. And if he knew any of them, which I'm sure he doesn't, if he respected them enough to understand where they were coming from, which clearly he doesn't, he would understand the real reasons why those numbers are what they are.

But it underscores not just how he feels about it, but how his boss feels about immigrants, how his whole administration feels about immigrants. And they see us all as lazy leeches, as criminals, as rapists, as something that this society should be afraid of. It's disgusting.

COOPER: Steve?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Maria, I'm glad you mentioned his military command. I had the chance to spend an hour with the general yesterday in the White House. He had me in along with other Hispanic leaders to talk to us about immigration and getting a deal done. And he talked at length about how the Marine Corps is the service of choice for Hispanics, how proud he was about that service, and how ably and heroically they serve our country.

So, you're just dead wrong that he doesn't respect Hispanics. It's actually quite the opposite.

COOPER: Do you think what he said was appropriate?

CORTES: Listen, I wish he'd chosen his words better, I do. But having said that, I think what's more important than phrasing something poorly is the policy prescription that he is putting forth.

COOPER: But wait a minute, you don't think it's important if the person who's executing the policy thinks that more than 700,000 people are lazy? I mean, isn't it sort of the typical stereotype of a slur that someone would use?

CORTES: No, look, not at all.

CARDONA: Steve, of course it is, come on.

CORTES: This administration is not --

CARDONA: You have to stop being an apologist for the bigotry this administration shows --

COOPER: Let Steve answer. Let him answer.

CORTES: Maria, the way you and people on the left throw around bigotry, it's almost lost any meaning, any credible anymore. The president is not a bigot. General Kelly, I assure you is not a bigot. In fact, the opposite of bigotry --

COOPER: Why are they acting like one?

CORTES: -- the opposite of bigotry, they're not -- they're acting with compassion and heart, trying to find a solution for these DACA young people. And, by the way, the president took what was 700,000 DACA recipients and said, we're going to more than double that to 1.8 million.

COOPER: But, Steve, isn't it just kind of been ignorant to just label 700,000 people either frightened or lazy?

CORTES: Well, no, the 700,000 are the ones who did sign up. Why did the rest not sign up? To be honest, I don't know, there could be many reasons why.

COOPER: My question is, isn't it ignorant to label 1.1 million people lazy or --

CORTES: Anderson, I wish he would have phrased it better, I do. Having said that -- COOPER: Because why? Why do you wish he would have phrased it

better?

CORTES: What is way more important isn't necessarily that you used a line, a throw-away line about them, but what you're doing for them.

CARDONA: Throw-away line? Wow.

CORTES: And you are allowing them protected status and eventually citizenship --

COOPER: But it's not throw-away if you repeat it by saying they're sitting on the couch. Someone sitting on the couch is lazy.

[20:25:01] CORTES: Well, look, again, we can't major in the minors here, right? What's important here? What's important is let's get these DACA recipients protected. Let's do it the right way via law, not executive fiat, as President Obama did.

He created this mess, by the way. And President Trump had to walk into it.

CARDONA: Oh, give me a break, Steve, please. He's not the one to rescind the protections that they had. He's not the one to put in a poison pill for a real deal that is on the table that includes citizenship plus border security. He is not the one that put these Dreamers in harm's way. That was all President Trump's doing.

CORTES: OK, couple of things --

CARDONA: Now he is making it worse by him and his chief of staff calling them lazy and then intimating that they are all MS-13 criminal gang members, which we saw over half an hour briefing that was out of the White House today. It's ridiculous. They say one thing and we know he feels the other.

CORTES: Nobody's saying they're criminals, criminals are not eligible for DACA. And by the way, too, I really reject calling them Dreamers. Americans have dreams too. That's an important point.

CARDONA: You know what, Steve, I agree with you, they're not Dreamers. You know what they are? They are doers, because they have done nothing but give to this society their best years, their best work, their best minds, and their best commitment to the American dream.

CORTES: You're so unhinged about president Trump you can't see that this president is the one who wants to protect them.

CARDONA: Give me a break.

CORTES: He wants to make permanent in law.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: There are people across the country laughing at you right now, Steve.

COOPER: Steve, the president says that he loves Dreamers. Do you think General Kelly loves Dreamers? Because again, it doesn't sound like it by saying that they're lazy and then following that up with their sitting on the couch.

CORTES: Given the conversations and meetings I had with him yesterday, yes, I think he absolutely does. I think too we can show both heart and toughness here. That's what this administration is doing. Show heart to the DACA recipients who didn't choose to break our immigration laws, but then also show toughness by getting dangerous illegal immigrants out of this country, by securing our border, by ending visa lottery, and by restricting chain migration.

That's the system -- that's a compromise that makes sense. And by the way, don't take my word for it. Seventy-two percent of the American people per CBS News poll who saw the president's proposals on immigration in the State of the Union agree with him. You can't get 72 percent of people in these divided times to agree on much of anything. They won't agree that the Eagles won the Super Bowl, much as agree with the policy.

COOPER: Maria?

CARDONA: Ninety percent of Americans agree that Dreamers should be protected. So let's work on a solution that will actually get Dreamers protected without putting in poison pills that the president knows will make this go nowhere.

COOPER: Let's end it there.

Maria Cardona, thank you. Steve Cortes, as well. Appreciate it.

CARDONA: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, President Trump dodged into the debate over immigration and a possible government shutdown. What he said -- did what he say threaten to undermine any compromise?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:39] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's more breaking news tonight. We've been talking about Dreamers but President Trump also took a headlong plunge into the immigration debate, saying he would back a government shutdown, if Democrats don't agree to tie the immigration law. So, here he is this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If we don't get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country and continue to kill gang members. And we're just talking about MS-13, there are many gang members that we don't even mention. If we don't change it let's have a shutdown, we'll do a shutdown and it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Oh back in January, the President called the possibly immigration compromise "a bill of love".

So tonight just how much of a monkey ranch could (INAUDIBLE). Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, former adviser to several president David Gergen and former Republican Congressman Jack Kingston.

David, is this an important strategy for the President?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not portion of strategy, I think it's bad for the country. President normally at this time when you are on the brink of past please of shutting down the government, they get into the process and they're constructive. They work behind the scenes or in front of the process. But they're very constructive. This it makes it harder to get there, he is threatening them. In effect, you know, he's throwing down a (INAUDIBLE). You either give me the immigration bill that I want, no changes or we're going to shut down the government. That's what he saying.

COOPER: Is this -- Jack, I mean do you see this is an opening salvo in a deal or is this unfortunate.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I really do, because part of what Donald Trump is about is shaking up the town and going about things in an unconventional way. And I think David is right, I think most presidents traditionally have gone in there and said OK, guys, I'm going to be the mature adult. But instead he is playing a different card. He saying, look, you guys don't get it done, I'm not afraid of a shutdown. And I think that's puts more pressure on a bipartisan basis of this House and the Senate to say, you know what he really means it, let's get this thing done. Because the legislative branch is the lead on this thing.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Except that -- what the President said today doesn't reflect the reality of what happened on Capitol Hill today. And will probably happen again tomorrow which is the whole notion of immigration of the Dreamers, that whole debate has been separated from the idea of a government shutting down. The House of Representatives passed a bill that will keep the government open through March 23rd. The Senate tomorrow was likely to do a different version, but, you know, is it possible that something happens and that whole thing falls apart and the government does shut down on Thursday, sure. I'm not going to say anything as a possible in this day and age.

But it seems as though they are separate and that what the President was doing was, you would call it shaking the trees. Other people would call it taking what is happening actually in good faith as we speak to Capitol Hill and turning it on its head.

COOPER: There was a senior GOP source close the budget talks, it base that brushed off what the President said, saying it's trumping Trump, I doubt we see a shutdown. I mean do people just kind of on Capitol Hill just ignore this sort of stuff now thinking all that just the kind of things presidents.

GERGEN: I think if you go what Dana has been reporting on, it does look like there maybe two different bills. One bill that is on spending, and the Senate is finding a solution, that bring the domestic side up, that's the military and shove it on the House to pass and scare the House into doing that. But you got a bipartisan bill that way. But the other track is -- and that will prevent a shutdown, and on that basis, the Democrats loose everybody loses a lot of leverage and it may well be the Dreamers bill, the separate will then die, because of inability to find a solution, that pleases the President. The President keeps saying, I insist on -- you work on a bipartisan agreement on my bill. My bill is the one either I get my bill, or that my bill or the highway, that's in effect when he saying them.

KINGSTON: But that is also what President Obama said to us in 2013. I am not going to let you defund Obamacare and I'm not going to let you modify. As you know, we had a about two week shutdown and we as Republicans were the ones to say, OK you're right, because as the President, you have the bully pulpit. But, you know, as an proprietor, you know, you have three option. One, is the regular appropriation bill pass on the regular order, the other is a supplemental bill that adds to current spending and the third one is continuing resolution.

[20:34:58] If you don't do one of those three, you do shut down the government. And were Dana's made a point, it's not I think most members right now are saying, OK we're going to do a continue resolution, because we want to keep talking and we want to get to that March 22nd deadline. And hopefully by then we'll have something done. But actually, I think it will happen by Friday that maybe they'll have a top line.

BASH: Yes.

KINGSTON: They'll come to agreement on the debt ceiling, they'll come to agreement on some health care issues, they'll come to agreement on the disaster bill and there's a tax section on there, tax extenders maybe in that bill.

COOPER: So --

BASH: The good news is, if this happens, again if, then this whole kind of guard rail to guard rail, you know, two-week extension, a two- week extension in the threat of government shutdown should be stopped for a couple of years. If that happens. That's a completely separate though from the question of the Dreamers, which --

GERGEN: The Dreamers could get stuck, they could be stranded. They could be stranded.

BASH: They could, they could. I mean the thing is in the Senate in order to reopen the government, you remember couple weeks ago, the Republican majority leader made a promise -- COOPER: Right, a very public -- publicly.

BASH: Very public promise that he would start debate on February 8 which is Thursday. My understanding and talking the sources tonight is that that is still the plan, an open Senate debate it probably won't start the nervous (ph) until next week, they'll open it but then next week.

And then there will be pressure on Republicans and Democrats and the President as they debate to actually do something old fashion which is come up with a bill.

GERGEN: And -- but the President may veto the bill, that's what it is now.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: And he think so hardline --

KINGSTON: I think if the immigration bill free standing or gets or if it's even tied into appropriation, if it gets through the House he will sign it. And I think most House members won't vote for it unless they know he'll sign it, because he'll give them cover.

COOPER: He said -- he said in that meeting, look I'll go with whatever you all decide and I'll take the heat whether or not that's actually true, we'll -- we'll obviously see.

Thanks for the conversation Jack Kingston, Dana Bash, David Gergen.

Coming up, the White House says the President was joking when he said Democrats who weren't enthusiastic enough about his State of the Union Speech or un-American possibly treasonous. The member of his own party Republican senator does not find it funny, he's firing back, we'll also hear from Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, next.

Also ahead, former Vice President Joe Biden speaking out extensively about lessons from his father, how his son Beau in compass (ph) those lessons, his take on what the President should do in the Mueller investigation and whether he plans to run for President. A wide ranging interview with Chris Cuomo, that's coming up ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:06] COOPER: As you know, the President says Democrats who didn't cheer him enough to his liking at his State of the Union Speech don't want the country to do well, they're un-American he said and he gets this treasonous.

Today Sarah Sanders says he was clearly joking but even it was intended to be a laugh riot, the joke is certainly not landing well with some Democrats and at least one Republican. Here's what GOP Senator Jeff Flake said on the Senate floor today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: Mr. President, words matter. Have we arrived at such a place of numb acceptance that we have nothing to say when a President of the United States casually suggest that those who choose no the to stand or applaud his speech are guilty of treason? I certainly hope not. One who level such a charge knows neither the meaning of the treason, nor the power that the words of a President carry. I have seen the President's most ardent defenders use and now worry argument that the President's comments were meant as a joke. Just sarcasm, only talk and cheek, but treason is not a punch line Mr. President.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu tweeted this. "Dear @realdonaldtrump, I served on active duty in the U.S. military to give people the right to clap when the President speaks or not to clap to stand or to sit. To attend your speech is sort of boycott them. We are not and never will be an authoritarian regime.

Congressman Lieu joins me now. So, you surely did means words in your response to President. I wonder why you felt you need to react so strongly, because the White House saying look, this was, you know, the treasonous line was in jest.

REP. TED LIEU, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well first of all Anderson, I don't believe the White House, this is the same White House today that said Donald Trump doesn't want a government shutdown when he specifically said he wants a government shutdown. So I don't believe he said that ingest. And I served on active duty in the military because I love our country. And one the reason I love America is we don't force people to cheer for their President. We let people disagree with their President without fear of retribution and that's what makes America great.

COOPER: You know, you're Democrat and fellow Veteran Senator Tammy Duckworth also strongly criticized the president, the remark. She said, we don't live in a dictatorship or monarchy as were an oath in the military, in the Senate to preserve, protecting, defend the constitution of the United States. Not to mindlessly cater to the women's of a cadet bone spurs and clap when he demands I clap. I wonder what your reaction to her words there, because you too have been critical to President for his deference.

LIEU: I believe Senator Duckworth had it exactly right. She served in combat and I think its really quite disappointing for Donald Trump who was never been in the military to lecture military veterans of Congress about what is treason or what is not treason. And keep in mind, a lot of the things that President does seems to be based on his own ego. He wants people to stroke his ego, to clap for him, we wants this big military parade which is a huge waste of money for one man's ego. That is inappropriate and continuously show that Donald Trump is not fit for office.

COOPER: That's what you think that parade, the idea of a military parade about good citing (ph) the President supporters might say, well look, this is a way to honor veterans and a way to -- to for veterans to, you know, to have a day that focus on them and show off their might and show of their marching abilities and have pride in the service members.

LIEU: Well we already do have Veteran's Day, we also have Memorial Day. We have lot of amazing air shows all of United States. To have this big military parade in Washington D.C., first of all makes me think, why would Donald Trump want yet another event where he has to makeup crowd size. But more importantly, this reminds people of other countries, when we think of military parades, we think of North Korea or Russia, that's not the image we want the rest of the world to have of United States.

COOPER: So when the White House says that it's tongue in cheek that the President was clearly joking, you just don't buy that?

LIEU: Absolutely not. I will believe it when the President says he was joking or if he tweets and recalls what he said. But for now I take him at his word and I don't think the White House should be around trying to spin what the President has been saying and if you just look at the White House they have to keep backtracking on what the President actually says, well maybe we should just believe what the President what the President actually says.

COOPER: The -- President Trump touted his State of the Union address as one of unity just one week later here we are with another potential shutdown looming. The Presdent saying, he wants a shutdown, I'm wondering does language like that make it more difficult to work with the White House?

LIEU: Absolutely. And keep in mind that no president should ever be urging a shutdown. Should never want to say he wants a shutdown. The President is the leader of the federal government. If there's a shutdown, it means he has failed. And Donald Trump campaign as being a deal maker, I don't know why he is trying to going around saying he wants a shutdown. Nobody else in Congress wants a shutdown. And by the way the House Republican leadership rejected him and passed a bill that has nothing to do with what he wanted.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Ted Lieu, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you

[20:45:00] LIEU: Thank you.

COOPER: The President's legal team has reportedly been saying he should not answer questions from Robert Mueller, we talked about that a lot last night. Well today, former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on that issue, in a lot more. We'll hear what he had to say, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The President's lawyers are advising him not to answer questions from special counsel Robert Mueller according to reporting in the "New York Times." There's someone who agrees with that advice, someone who might come as a surprise to you, former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden sat down for an extended interview with Chris Cuomo today. We're going to play most of it in the next hour. We're going to bring you in fact the whole interview. But first just watch this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think he should sit down with the special counsel?

JOE BIDEN, FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If I were the President's lawyer, I'd probably tell him not to sit down with the special counsel.

CUOMO: Why?

BIDEN: Because --

CUOMO: Then they subpoena you and you wind up in front of a grand jury without a lawyer.

BIDEN: Yeah, and if you -- I think you're in a situation where the President has some difficulty with precision.

[20:50:07] CUOMO: That's one of the most subtle things I've ever heard you say, Mr. Biden.

BIDEN: And one of the things that I would worry about if I were his lawyer is him saying something that was simply not true without him even planning to be -- to be disingenuous.

CUOMO: Do you think he has that little control over whether he tells the truth or not?

BIDEN: I just marvel at some of the things he says and does.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well joining me now is Paul Begala, Carrie Cordero, and David Axelrod.

Paul, I mean it's interesting to hear the former vice President say this. Do you think it's possibly just a negotiating tactic on the part of Robert Mueller's attorneys and the President that -- excuse me -- the President's attorneys and the President that they're sort of releasing this information of, oh, we're telling him not to, that it's just kind of a negotiation?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a trial balloon on the part of the Trump team to see, well, what if we just stiff Mr. Mueller and his investigators and don't cooperate at all? Will people freak out? Ultimately, I think he's going to wind up taking the fifth because the facts are not his friend. He can't. I disagree slightly with Vice President Biden at my peril. It's not just that the President says outrageous things or his fidelity to the facts are kind of slippery, it's the facts are not his friend. he's not going to testify because he can't without incriminating himself. And so he won't

COOPER: Carrie, do you think that likely that he will testify? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think his lawyers are going to want it to get to where the President of the United States is taking the Fifth Amendment, right against self-incrimination --

COOPER: That is not good (ph).

CORDERO: -- in front of a grand jury in the District of Columbia. So I do think that they will try to keep that from happening. On the other hand, lately they've been trying to negotiate an interview between the special counsel's office and the President, and I do think some of their public releases reporting that they have spoken to reporters about regarding executive privilege, maybe trying to say that they're not going to submit him to an interview -- I think they're trying to delay his interview with the special counsel's office. So to the extent that they know that it's not in his interest to speak soon, they know that the way that he is, it might be difficult for him to sit through an interview. And so I think part of what they're doing is trying to delay that interview by publicly floating ideas about executive privilege, by maybe suggesting to the special counsel's office that he's not going to sit for an interview, and that buys them more time.

COOPER: David, I mean it's interesting to hear former Vice President Biden -- you know, can Republicans now say, well look, even a staunch Democrat like Joe Biden would advise President Trump not to testify?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he was asked if he were the President's lawyers what would he say. And I think he answered the question like a lawyer or as a lawyer. And if you're thinking of it from their standpoint, for all the reasons that have been stated, there's got to be a great deal of trepidation about the prospect of this President sitting down in front of those prosecutors. But, you know, there's a different issue which is the political issue, and that is what is the cost to the President of not sitting down, of not answering these questions?

COOPER: Do you think there is one?

AXELROD: I mean just people expect that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- is certainly would be supportive.

AXELROD: Yes, they would. And I think part of what's been going on n the last few weeks has been to set the groundwork for that potentially because -- so that the case could be made that this wasn't a legitimate investigation. It was politically motivated. There's no reason the President should submit himself to that. And I think his supporters would accept that. The rest of the country, I think, would be troubled by it, however. And, you know, there is a big body of -- you know, the President's been very clear, I want to sit down. I want to answer these questions. He's also in the past, by the way, said that taking the Fifth is tantamount to a guilty plea.

So that's embarrassing tape that's sitting out there. But as you know, he's not one who is bound by consistency. So if he --

COOPER: Or embarrassed by past statements.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Right. That's not -- I don't think that's his big concern. He'll create a new reality for himself. But this -- I think Biden's answer reflects what most lawyers would say.

COOPER: Paul, I'm wondering what your lesson -- I mean you lived through this with President Clinton, you work for. What is the lesson that the President's team should take away from President Clinton's experience?

BEGALA: I think it's an entirely different case. I never once advised Bill Clinton not to cooperate.

COOPER: But he fought this to the --

BEGALA: But not whether he testified. He certainly fought it. He defended himself I think --

COOPER: Didn't he go through the courts?

BEGALA: But -- no that was Paula Jones case.

COOPER: OK.

BEGALA: There's a civil lawsuit in which the Supreme Court ordered him nine to nothing to defend the civil lawsuit, which included testifying in a deposition, not real full testimony in a court. In the Starr case, I can't recall any of the President's lawyers and certainly not any of his other advisers telling him not to -- in fact, not only did Bill Clinton sit down with Ken Starr and he answer questions about his personal life, he gave blood. He had to give blood to Ken Starr.

[20:55:10] This guy, Trump, he can't answer a single question, and I think that's probably a better strategy for Donald Trump because he's guilty. That's the difference. I mean, you know, Bill Clinton, people could argue about well he certainly had an affair, but he won the case on perjury and obstruction of justice. And I don't think Trump can win this case.

COOPER: Carrie, how long can this play out though? I mean how long will Mueller's team allow it to play out?

CORDERO: Well, it depends. I mean they can -- they'll set some period of time. It sounds from the reporting it's already been a couple months that they've been negotiating the interview. So that could go on for maybe another some period of a month or two. Or it depends -- it really depends on which aspects of their investigation that they want to interview him on and whether they're ready at this point that they want to conduct the interview. Once they are ready, they think their investigation has reached the point that he's the last person to be interviewed, and they're going to do it, then they can decide whether or not they have to issue a grand jury subpoena if he really isn't going to sit for an interview.

And then the grand jury subpoena, if the White House fights over that, that could go on for many months.

COOPER: Yes.

CORDERO: And there have been other presidents who have cooperated with investigators in other ways. President Reagan turned over his excerpts from his diaries in the Iran-contra issue. President Clinton, has you mentioned, cooperated. President Bush -- George W. bush cooperated in the Valerie Plame case, he sat down with special prosecutor Fitzgerald.

COOPER: They only gave him -- I think they gave him an hour.

CORDERO: About an hour to be interviewed in person. Right.

COOPER: Carrie Cordero, Paul Begala and David Axelrod. Thanks very much.

Much more of Chris Cuomo's interview with former Vice President Joe Biden. That's still to come just a few minutes. They covered a lot of ground including whether Biden will run in 2020 and of course and how Biden's late son Beau remains a guiding force in his life as he said. That's coming up the next hour.

Also the latest in the Democratic version of the dueling memos. What chief of staff John Kelly said tonight, about when he expects a decision on when the Democratic version will be released.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)