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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
NYT: Trump Lawyer Floated Idea of Pardons for Flynn, Manafort; Federal Judge Rolls Out Lawsuit Alleging Foreign Gifts to President Trump; Stormy Daniels' Attorney Seeks to Depose President Trump, Michael Cohen; Protests Continue in Sacramento Over Police Killing Unarmed 22-Year-Old Man in His Grandmother Yard. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 28, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did the President's personal attorney try to secure the silence of two key figures in the Russia probe by offering Presidential pardons?
On the table new reporting that suggests the answer may be yes. Some very carefully parsed answers from the White House aren't exactly dispelling suspicions.
Also it's a controversy as close to the White House as the Trump international hotel. A lawsuit gets the go ahead accusing the President of profiting, essentially from being president.
Later a new twist in the Stormy Daniels saga, the legal effort to get the President on the record and under oath, new filings by the attorney for Stormy Daniels. We begin with the pardon story first reported in "The New York Times." The headline, Trump's Lawyers Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort.
The lawyer in question is John Dowd, who recently left the President's legal team, the discussions happened before Michael Flynn copped a plea and Paul Manafort was charged.
Our Jeff Zeleny joins us from the White House. So explain what we know about these alleged conversations about pardons because we should point out that Dowd denies it occurred.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that's true. John Dowd denies it occurred, and the White House was doing some careful answering of questions today to say that these conversations didn't happen. But what "The New York Times" is reporting is that these conversations were happening indeed by lawyers last fall.
You'll remember last fall as Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort were both -- the discussions were happening if they would cooperate with the special counsel or not.
Now, one ended up doing so. Michael Flynn ended up pleading guilty in December. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman ended up not. He's fighting this. But that's why these conversations are important. If the White House, if the President was offering or talking about some type of pardon, is there obstruction of justice here? Now, these are all questions. We don't know the answer to these questions. But this new reporting and the White House's very careful calibration today certainly suggest that this may be something that Bob Mueller is looking into.
COOPER: Yes, a lot depends obviously on the wording -- I mean, assuming this conversation between John Dowd and the attorney for Manafort and the attorney for Flynn took place as the times is reporting, and "The Washington Post" has also backed up with sources although, again, John Dowd denies. Assuming those conversations took place, the wording of what was said is very critical to whether or not this was an attempt to actually obstruct or just a conversation.
The White House, as you pointed out, was very careful in their wording about whether or not these conversations took place today.
ZELENY: No question. I mean, again and again today at the White House briefing, Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary, was going through some verbal gymnastics, if you will, talking in the present tense, referring things to John Dowd, saying that, you know, there is -- there are no discussions about this now, but the question here is last fall. Were there discussions about this at the time?
And again, the President has the authority to pardon, and we heard what the President was saying frequently last fall, particularly after Michael Flynn pled guilty. He said he's a good man and he would potentially think about pardons at some point. But the question here is that we don't know the answer to, important to point out, but the question is, were there these conversations going on before the guilty plea? Was there potentially obstruction of justice here? We don't know, but more food for thought as this investigation escalated again getting to the ultimate question. Will the President, or will he not sit down and answer Bob Mueller's questions.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Perspective now from CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for New York Southern District, Trump Tower, full disclosure, he was fired from that job by the President. We spoke to him earlier.
COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of these alleged conversations about pardons.
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think like a lot of people, you find it kind of crazy.
COOPER: Crazy that Dowd might have those conversations?
BHARARA: Yes. I think that the way you exercise your pardon power in a way that doesn't have the optics of looking like it's a quid pro quo, in other words the President will buy your silence by giving you a pardon if you agree in advance not to say anything bad about him and not to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. I'm not saying that happened, but that's certainly what it will look like. And if you're a smart lawyer and you go and you approach the other side, Michael Flynn's lawyer, for example, and you start floating the idea of a pardon if that's true, then it absolutely makes it look like, as we're seeing today from all the reporting and the reaction, it makes it look like you were figuring out the possibility of trying to offer something for something in return.
Again, I want to make clear I'm not saying that happened, but it sure is what it looks like a little bit.
COOPER: What would be the way to avoid that, for the President to just go ahead and do the pardon?
BHARARA: Yes, I'm not sure if it's a great idea for the President to do the pardon. But if the concern is if the issue at hand is whether or not the assertion of the pardon power with respect to people who might have information about you and are involved in the same investigation -- if the question is, can that in some way support a finding of obstruction, then you don't do it this way. Then you either decide not to pardon or you pardon at sometime when you think it otherwise makes sense.
[21:05:00] You don't give people grift, right? You don't give Bob Mueller the opportunity to do what I am sure he is doing or has done, and that is question Michael Flynn, his lawyer, and Michael Flynn is now cooperating. When this overture was made, it was before cooperation.
I have to imagine that the Mueller team has now talked to Flynn and talked to Flynn's lawyer and said, well, what happened with respect to the pardon offer? What were the words used? Was there an offer made? Was there a wink? Was there a hint? Also, more importantly even, was it clear that John Dowd was speaking on behalf of the President? Was the President the one who was directing this, and that makes a lot of difference, I think.
COOPER: But just so I'm clear, John Dowd could -- could John Dowd have raised this notion of a pardon and it not been some sort of an inducement for them to not cooperate with an investigation?
BHARARA: Yes. I want to make clear with respect to all these reports that come out in the "New York Times" and elsewhere, there's never detail of what the conversation actually was, what the words were in fact.
COOPER: So the words are key here, what words were used?
BHARARA: Yes, there's a spectrum, right. To hypothesize, at the one end of the spectrum, if John Dowd said, I hope, you know, you're doing OK. You know the President has pardon power. That's not great to say because it suggests something. But I don't think that's actionable in any way. At the other end of the spectrum, you could have someone saying, in quite blunt language that usually is not used even by somebody who doesn't always have the best judgment, the President is prepared to pardon you if you agree not to cooperate. Now, I'm not sure that's a fine argument anyway, just in terms of strategy because once you're pardoned, then you don't have in the same way -- you know, you don't have the same extent of a -- you know, you don't have the same ability to say that what you might testify about might incriminate you because you're off the hook. So I'm not sure it's a longer term strategy that makes sense and that might be one of the defenses the President will use if someone suggests that he was trying to get something for something. But it seems not quite kosher.
COOPER: Just lastly on another subject, why do you think the President seems to be having such difficulty getting a legal team together here? I mean it seems like the White House says, well, refer to Jay Sekulow. It seems like that's kind of the only member of the President's outside legal team who is still there. The President has said he has no problem getting people, everybody wants to work for him. But whether it's stated conflicts or pretend conflicts or people not wanting to work -- I mean O.J. Simpson got a dream team of attorneys.
BHARARA: He did. Look, the simplest reason is he's a terrible boss. He's a terrible client. He doesn't listen to his lawyers. Sometimes he doesn't pay his lawyers. He fires them ignominiously, and, you know, the kind of person that you want at your side in these kinds of things -- and we've charged the president of the United States, we charged a lot of high profile people, one of whom retained John Dowd in fact.
And what you really want is somebody who has been around the block and who knows how the system works and is able to talk, you know, freely and respectfully with the prosecutors so they can have, you know, a negotiation about even things like sitting down for an interview or what the parameters of an interview would be. And I think the people who are in that position, you know, some of them notwithstanding, although John Dowd has now left, want to have their reputations intact.
And talking to people that I know -- you know, I know a lot of people personally, it is a big step to decide to represent the President of the United States in this context given the track record of how he treats other people. Look, John Dowd has had a lot of difficult clients in his life, and that relationship didn't work out over a period of time.
Marc Kasowitz was somebody that the President of the United States apparently has trusted for many, many, many years. He was shunted aside in a way that was embarrassing to Marc Kasowitz. So just as in the case with the cabinet, and you know, the VA secretary was fired, you know, by Twitter today as well. The way the President treats the attorney general of the United States, the lawyer for the country, these people aren't treated well, and some people may decide, I have money. I have a reputation. I don't want to do it.
The other reason I will say that I've heard personally and also reported is that there are some law firms who have to be careful about taking on a representation that will cause them to have recruiting problems or cause them to have client who's will say, we don't want you doing that representation because we'll take our business elsewhere. So there's a sort of, you know, underlying beneath the surface pressure, social pressure also, business pressure also.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Preet Bharara, thank you.
BHARARA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, to thrown the conversation now, CNN's Manu Raju makes his panel debut tonight. Also tonight Kirsten Powers, Paris Dennard, Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, along with attorney and former Congresswoman, Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the White Judiciary Committee, write articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.
Manu, it does bear repeating that both the Post and the Times do not have the details of what words were uttered allegedly by John Dowd. Again, he denies there was any kind of offer or quid pro quo or even discussion about pardons.
[21:10:01] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's very true. The words are significant, but what we do know with this President is that he makes decisions off the cuff with his gut, and he may suddenly decide to move forward with the pardon process.
Remember, typically when you go through the pardon process, there's some sort of Justice Department review. The Justice Department goes through this, and this is a very serious matter that happens throughout the government. But when you look what he did with the last pardon, Joe Arpaio, there was no real Justice Department review. It was the President's ultimate decision to move forward here. So presumably if John Dowd did move forward with this, there was some decision by the President to green light this in some way, and he may not have looped in the people necessary or typically who would green light such decision.
COOPER: Congressman Holtzman the dimension of the Arpaio pardon is interesting because it was around the time allegedly of this meeting and at the time there were a number of people who said they felt perhaps the Arpaio pardon was a public way of President Trump sending a message to Michael Flynn or to Paul Manafort that, look, I'll pardon this guy even though there's a lot of pressure not to.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, ATTORNEY: Yes, well, I think people could say the President was sending signals because he said I have full pardon power during this period of time too. But I think it's really important to go back to Watergate here because in Watergate, President Nixon resigned rather than face certain impeachment in the House and removal by the Senate.
One of the grounds voted in the articles of impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee was offers by the President of the United States to the Watergate burglars of Presidential pardons. I don't remember that we knew the exact words that Richard Nixon passed to those burglars, but the offers were there, and that was a basis for one of the articles of impeachment, because the President was using the power of his office to protect criminal behavior on his behalf and on behalf of the his aides.
And so if this happened, if an offer was made to Flynn at a time that could have affected or that the President believed or that Dowd believed could affect his cooperation with the U.S. attorney -- I'm sorry, the special prosecutor, then we could be right in the middle of impeachment territory of the President of the United States, as well as criminal --
COOPER: There is not attorney-client privilege for whatever discussion there was between Dowd and Michael Flynn's attorney or Dowd and Manafort's attorney because it's not, you know -- they're not his client. So both those other attorneys would be able to talk to Mueller about this as would Dowd have to talk to Mueller about this.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And this, to me, what is so surprising, but again shouldn't be really surprising because they never come clean on anything. But the cover-up is going to be what makes this so much more difficult for them. If John Dowd had just come out and said, yeah, you know what? We talked to them about pardons. The President has full power to pardon anybody he wants. I think they would be on much more solid ground. But now they're saying that they didn't do it. They are denying it, and what we have seen throughout is this pattern of denial, denial, denial, saying there's no collusion here. There's nothing to see. This is all fake news. And every single day there is a rock that is unturned. There is information that is reported. And little by little, the trickle, the trickle, the trickle goes to the credibility that there is something there they clearly don't want people to find out.
COOPER: We're going to get a quick break in. We're going to continue this discussion with the panel, we'll bring the rest of the panel in.
Later, the police shooting, the protests surrounding it, and shortly, Benjamin Crump, attorney for the man who was killed and his family. We'll be right back.
[21:17:16] COOPER: Talking about pardons including the new reporting that President Trump's personal attorney broached the idea of them for Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. At the time neither had been charged. The question, which has no answer yet, whether this was intended to secure the silence of two potentially key witnesses. Flynn as you know, did agree to talk. Manafort has not.
Back now with the panel. Paris, I'm wondering how you see this because the White House has been very careful in the language they are using when asked about this. Today they're using all present tense saying this is not under discussion, words -- in fact, I think I have Sarah Sanders answering -- kind of using very cautious language. I just want to play that so our viewers can see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are pardons on the table for anyone involved in the Russia probe? SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I would refer you back to the statement from Ty Cobb in the report that you're asking about, in which he said, I've only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say unequivocally that no one here has discussed pardons in this case?
SANDERS: I can say that Ty Cobb is the person that would be most directly involved in this, and he's got a statement on the record saying that there's no discussion and there's no consideration of those at this time at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLTZMAN: How could Ty Cobb be the one involved in this when the conversation was allegedly had by John Dowd? What is she talking about? The fact of the matter is that they are not saying this never happened. They're not disavowing it, and they're not saying that if Dowd ever did something like this, we disavow it. It's outrageous. It's wrong. Never should have happened. They're not saying that.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the things I'm hearing a lot from the folks that I talk to is the President has never once mentioned the word "pardon" in my presence, and they're being very careful --
COOPER: In my presence.
STEWART: In my presence. And they're being extremely careful in the words that they use and how they phrase it. Look, one thing, he has the full power to issue pardons. He can do that and it's fine if they have a conversation about it in the White House. But as you mentioned, Nixon and the pardon promises, with all that's going on, he's facing jeopardy with regard to the Mueller probe if he does this because it's not right.
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Throughout this administration, we have seen people talk about how they haven't been as disciplined as they would like in past administrations and how they haven't really followed the rule of advice from counsel and outside counsel and things like that. Right now I think what you see with this White House is you can't be fast and loose with your language. Everything that you say on camera can be used against you in a court of law.
And so they are being very careful because they don't want the President to be impeached. They don't want articles of impeachment even broached. And so everything that they say is calculated, and it's on purpose because Sarah Sanders as the press secretary does not want to say something off-cuff that could be use the against the President. And that is why they're being so very careful because the stakes are that high. [21:20:12] COOPER: But they also have to walk on eggshells because in all honesty, they don't know what conversations the President has had with John Dowd.
COOPER: Or what he's had with friends or anything.
COOPER: And so Sarah Sanders will say, well, I haven't asked the President about, that and that's probably a wise answer or maybe a wise thing to do, not to ask. But you don't know if what the President is saying to you is actually correct or --
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It sort of strains credulity that the President hasn't talked to anybody about pardons. I mean it would be a completely normal thing to do, and I think with Donald Trump, the fact that he was willing to pardon somebody like Joe Arpaio shows that he would be willing, probably, to pardon people.
And I don't -- to me, this just sounds like what I think Donald Trump probably did. And the question is whether or not, you know, he's done anything illegal, which it sounds like he hasn't. But if there was a quid pro quo, if that could get him into trouble. And if does sound like if it happened, it would have to be a quid pro quo. What's the point of doing it otherwise? I mean you can just pardon them. You don't need to talk to them about it.
RAJU: Also the larger issue here is a credibility issue. When the White House comes out and they deny something, and you can't believe them anymore because time and again they have denied various things, personnel changes, stories that turned out later to be true. So when the White House comes out and denies things and they use the qualifier things like at this time, not that I'm aware of, you have to tend to think there's probably some truth to it. And that's why they're using all these qualifiers. That ultimately undercuts their credibility as a White House when they want to say something declarative, and you can't necessarily believe them because in a few days --
COOPER: Right. Last week there were no personnel changes at this time when asked about the VA secretary.
RAJU: It was true.
STEWART: It was true at that time, Anderson. But I think --
DENNARD: You've got to ask the right questions.
STEWART: I think that's the conundrum that Sarah finds herself in each and every single day because as a communications person, you want to be able to have credibility. I think she has shot her credibility completely, but I think on this, she is actually trying to be very careful because she doesn't know the conversations that this President has had, and it is legal territory that she can get in trouble in if she actually finds herself saying something that is untrue. But to the whole point, to your point, Manu, this White House has a history of lying. This President has a history of lying that no matter what they say, John Dowd frankly has a his history of lying when he said he tweeted something out of the President's Twitter account after the President tweeted it. And nobody believes that. And so, you know, to the point of his lawyers, including John Dowd, have never done him, I don't think, any good or any justice. They're not, I think, working in the best interest of their client.
HOLTZMAN: I just wanted to add one little point here which is that this may not only be impeachable. It may be a crime. And if it is a crime, I mean just because the President has the power to pardon doesn't mean he can't -- for example, if he takes a bribe to issue a pardon; he can't be prosecuted for it? Of course he could be prosecuted for it. The point is if this is a crime, then there is no attorney-client privilege with Mr. Dowd -- between Donald Trump and John Dowd because a lawyer and a client can't collude to commit a crime. And that would be very interesting.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. A federal judge has rolled out a lawsuit alleging foreign gifts to President Trump, maybe illegal, that lawsuit has been allowed to proceed. We'll have the details on that ahead.
[21:27:34] COOPER: President Trump was elected it's pretty safe to say most Americans had never heard of the emoluments clause of the constitution. As refresher here it is, it's Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the constitution which says in part that no person holding any office shall without the consent of Congress accept any presents, emolument, office, or title of any kind, whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
Now, attorneys general from Maryland and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit claiming President Trump has violated that clause citing payments made by foreign officials who are staying at the Trump international hotel when they come to Washington.
I'm back now with the panel. How big a deal do you think this is because basically the judge has ruled this case can proceed? But it also possibly opens up for other states that have Trump properties, Trump hotels, if other hotels or local authorities in those places want to make this similar argument.
RAJU: No question about it because this does not have to do with Florida or any other places beyond the District of Columbia. This is an issue specifically for the Trump international hotel here in Washington.
Look, this is a new area that has not really been explored. This is a President who has had business interests like no other candidate before him. And when he came into office, he made a very clear decision not to completely divorce himself from his business interests. In January 2017, you'll recall he had this big show of trying to eliminate conflicts of interest, but really what he did, he said his sons will be in charge of the business, and they would not be involved in the government but he did not put things in a blind trust. So this is something that is going to be potentially a problem for him especially if this lawsuit continues to advance.
COOPER: Paris, do you believe that foreign officials, people are throwing parties at that Trump hotel in D.C. in order to curry favor with the President because that's really at the heart of this allegation, not only that it's hurting other businesses, other hotels in town, which is why D.C. government or Maryland government have filed -- or are pushing this, but that essentially, you know, folks come from a foreign country, and when they meet with the President, they want to be able to say, we're staying at your hotel and it's great, and that that will curry favor.
DENNARD: I mean, it's hard to -- to your point, Manu, it's very difficult what we are in because this is uncharted territory, number one. Number two, it's also difficult to prove because I go to the Trump hotel or a foreign dignitary stays at the Trump hotel, that he's going to bring that up and that's going to incur any type of favoritism or any quid pro quo.
[21:30:03] COOPER: Did you just bring that you go to the Trump hotel to curry favor?
DENNARD: I go to the Trump hotel because I like the Trump hotel.
CARDONA: Did he say that on TV?
RAJU: He likes spending $20 on a cocktail.
DENNARD: $30. But at the end of the day, what we have to ask ourselves is, is this fair to the President because he's legally allowed to do this. He's legally allowed to not separate himself from being able to profit, if you will, from his business holdings. There's nothing illegal about that. But what they have to be able to prove is that there is a deliberate quid pro quo because they stayed at the hotel or had an event at the hotel.
HOLTZMAN: That's not quite right. The emoluments clause doesn't require a quid pro quo. The emoluments clause means you just can't take the money. The framers of the constitution said, you know something? We don't want foreign governments messing with the United States officials. So you can't take money from them. Whatever their intent was and whatever your good motives are, period. So no quid pro quo.
CARDONA: That's makes sense.
COOPER: Old gifts from -- like if somebody gives a golden eagle to the President from Abu Dhabi, it has to be registered and --
DENNARD: This is a slippery slope because the President --
HOLTZMAN: It's not. It's very clear in the constitution.
DENNARD: I highly doubt that the framers of the constitution were thinking about hotel stays and whether or not you went and had a cocktail at a hotel bar, and that was going to somehow --
DENNARD: The other point, Congresswoman, when President Obama received money from the Nobel Peace Prize, there was no some type of emoluments issue there if a foreign government happened to buy copies of his book because they just thought it was a good book and the President in turn profited from it, there was nobody screaming we have an emoluments issue then. It was simply because President Trump has a hotel in Washington, D.C., which is a hotel that people are frequenting. That's what it is because if that was the case, we would be parsing hairs over all the other --
DENNARD: If that was the case, we could be --
CARDONA: It is a lot more than that, Paris, because President Obama or frankly, I don't think any President before him has had -- or before Trump has had the kind of business entanglements that this President has, which is why people were advising him to completely divorce himself from his businesses while he was in office.
DENNARD: Was it illegal?
CARDONA: If he had done that, he wouldn't have this issue.
DENNARD: He doesn't have to.
CARDONA: That's fine. But that's why he's --
DENNARD: It's not illegal to do it, so take that off the table.
CARDONA: I'm not saying it's illegal. --
RAJU: He did make a very clear recommendation for him to completely get rid of these potential conflicts.
CARDONA: And why? Because when he takes foreign money --
DENNARD: The President isn't taking foreign money.
CARDONA: He is! He is, Paris.
HOLTZMAN: Because that money goes into his corporations and he takes the money from his corporations. CARDONA: He personally benefits, right?
DENNARD: That's incorrect.
HOLTZMAN: That's the point.
STEWART: It doesn't have to say specifically your hotel can't benefit from foreign governments. It specifically says you cannot profit from foreign governments. That's the way it --
HOLTZMAN: It doesn't even say profit. You can't take money from a foreign government, period. And that's in the constitution.
STEWART: I think he attempted at the very beginning, as Manu mentioned he attempted to show transparency in this case and try to show that he was separating himself. Unfortunately I don't think he quite went far enough because there's --
DENNARD: He did. When the Trump hotel sent a check to the treasury department for what they determined to be profits, they gave that back to the government to cast away any doubt of any violation --
CARDONA: They're not doing that now, though.
DENNARD: What do you mean?
CARDONA: They're giving every single piece of coin and money that they receive from foreign governments or people from foreign governments that are staying in the Trump hotel? Is that what you're saying?
DENNARD: They cut a check to the government for what they determine to be profits, one. Two, I wish somebody on the panel would talk about the fact that President Obama received I think $1.5 million for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, number one. Number two, if any foreign government bought his book, that would be considered a profit. President Obama went into office not a very rich man, came out a very rich man. A lot of it was from book sales. Do we know if any foreign entity -- any foreign government bought that book? If they did, that would have been a violation, but I didn't see you, you, you, or you complain about it.
CARDONA: The fact that you're making that argument means you know you have a weak argument.
DENNARD: But that's what you're not responding to. It shows the strength of my argument.
COOPER: All right. One at a time.
CARDONA: It's ridiculous.
CARDONA: Oh, really?
DENNARD: He donates his money from the salary from being the President back to the treasury.
CARDONA: I'm not talking about the President's salary. I'm talking about the millions and millions of dollars that he is benefiting from, from the Trump hotel.
DENNARD: And it's not illegal, so get over it.
CARDONA: Every time that the foreign government pays him and it is illegal.
POWERS: I'm sure that conservatives regret they didn't think of it. I'm serious. I mean, the only reason they didn't do it is because they didn't think of it. And maybe President Obama did do something wrong. I don't know. But the constitution says that you can't receive this money from foreign governments. You know, if President Obama did it and did it wrongly, that wouldn't make it right when President Trump did it.
[21:35:14] And look, this is just such an obvious conflict of interest. I mean, we don't need the constitution to tell us that. It's very obviously a conflict of interest where people can try to curry favor with you by staying at your hotel. I just don't even see why this is something to even debate. It's just inappropriate.
COOPER: All right, we're going to take a quick time-out. When we continue, we'll discuss the latest filing in the Stormy Daniels case. Her lawyer is seeking to depose both Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen over the so-called hash money payment of $130.
COOPER: Before we talk about the Stormy Daniels, I just give you an update, Paris mentioned the money that President Obama earned for the Nobel Peace Prize. We've just looked it up. Mr. Obama actually donated that to Fischer House, the Clinton-Bush Haiti fund as well as a number of other organizations, United Negro College Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, American Leadership & Educational Fund, American- Indian College Fund, and Central Asia Institute. So, yes, he gave away the $1.4 million just for facts sake.
The attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels is seeking depositions from both President Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen. The reason Michael Avenatti wants to force them to publicly testify under oath about that $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Ms. Daniels as the 2016 Presidential campaign ended, here's what Mr. Avenatti said to me last hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [21:40:07] MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: We're focused on the formation of the agreement and the terms of that agreement and what the President knew and when he knew it. We're not interested in what the White House spokesperson or deputy spokesperson has to say. We want to put the President under oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with our panel. Does anyone think this is actually going to happen, or do you think this is just a gimmick, or do you think it's a legal maneuver?
RAJU: I think it's a gimmick, but it's also possible it could happen. I mean, look at what happened two decades ago to Bill Clinton. It's certainly possible that he may have to be deposed and have to answer some of these questions under oath.
COOPER: This will be decided actually by the ninth circuit, which I know is one of President Trump's favorite.
COOPER: Perhaps not a coincidence Mr. Avenatti filed it in the Ninth Circuit.
RAJU: Yes. And look, when you hear what the White House has not been saying about this, it's not a whole. They have not been answering a lot of questions. They have not been explaining whether the President was aware of this $130,000 payment that was Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels.
COOPER: By the way, David Schwartz, an attorney for Mr. Cohen in another matter of fried, said tonight on Erin Burnett, that the President was completely unaware, which I think it's the first time I actually heard.
RAJU: Yes and that's much further -- look, that's much different say in the media --
STEWART: One of the things that Avenatti has said is he wants to get to the truth. He wants to get the truth out here. And I think we can all agree we've heard enough about the sex with the porn stars and the playmates. It's not about that. It's really about, as Avenatti said, it's about this payoff, this NDA, potentially threatening someone to remain silent about this, and that's what he wants to know the formation of the agreement. What did the President know? When did he know it? Did he give Cohen the authority to pay off this money? That's the question.
And there is precedent for this to happen. President Clinton had to depose with regard to the Paula Jones case. I was in little rock when it was going on, covering that. And it wasn't what ultimately was his downfall it was not about sex with Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky, it was his lying about it and has potentially trying to cover it up.
COOPER: He also obviously wants discovery to get financial documents -- I mean, he hasn't said this, but he said some information, so I assume it's financial documents to see was the $130,000 reimbursed?
COOPER: In fact, come from his own equity line, things which there's no evidence --
CARDONA: And I think that's going to be the nugget because no matter how many times Michael Cohen says that he did this out of the goodness of his own heart because he loves the President so much, nobody believes that you're going to take out a $130,000 line of credit and pay off your boss' hush money because you love him so much and because he never said anything about it to you or because you don't expect something back from that. So I think that --
COOPER: And if your boss is a billionaire --
CARDONA: And if your boss is a billionaire. And by the way, people heard him complain privately after that, that he had never been paid by the President for this month.
COOPER: The Wall Street Journal reported that.
CARDONA: Exactly. The Wall Street Journal reported that.
HOLTZMAN: There's potential violation of campaign finance laws. And I think no one push that under the rug, the fact of the matter is, if the President intended to reimburse Michael Cohen, that's a violation. If Michael Cohen in fact took money out of the Trump organization in some way, shape, or form, then you have a corporate contribution, period.
COOPER: But those kinds of violations -- I mean, first of all, the FEC, it takes a long time for them and it's also -- right now, there's two Democrats, two Republicans. It has to, I believe, be unanimous. It's very unlikely. And if anything, they can refer it to criminal prosecution of the Department of Justice but it's more than traditionally it's just a monetary fine.
HOLTZMAN: Correct. I'm not saying it's a major issue but it is part of it, willing just to violate the law.
RAJU: Even if no legal issues arise from this, the political problems are significant. The President has not had any public events for the past five days. Tomorrow will be the first time we're going to see him publicly. You have to think that the Stormy Daniels controversy is putting the President -- essentially muzzling this President. And you take away his mega phone. You take away a big part from him to drive the agenda going forward. It's a huge distraction for this White House.
DENNARD: This White House -- you know this White House is full steam ahead. We look at the stuff that's happened, the trade deal with Korea, you look at the fact that he just fired and hired a new V.A. secretary. There's no muzzling of him. What he's doing is doing the right thing, which is not talking about something that has nothing to do with his presidency, has nothing to do with his candidacy. It is fair to raise questions and issues about whether or not Michael Cohen -- how he got the money. Did it come from the -- that is the issue of Michael Cohen and Ms. Clifford and Ms. Clifford and Michael Cohen, nobody else.
COOPER: But with the amount of people that have been fired. Is it really full steam ahead? I mean it seems like there's not a lot of people like shoveling the coal to keep the steam engines going.
DENNARD: Well you know what, if it took two people to get a trade deal with Korea, took two people do all the things that this President has been doing with smaller stuff, I think it's fair enough to say they're doing a good job.
COOPER: I want to thank everybody in the panel.
[21:44:56] Coming up, protests continue in Sacramento over the police killing of an unarmed 22-year-old man in his grandmother's yard. I'll speak with the civil rights attorney representing the family of Stephon Clark next.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Protests continue over the killing of unarmed African-American man by police in Sacramento, California. 22-year-old Stephon Clark was killed in his grandmother's yard. Police say, they thought he had a gun. Only his cellphone was found on the scene.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about this in other cases today. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Certainly a terrible incident. This is something that is a local matter and that's something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does he say about weeding out bad policing when you continue to see these kinds of situations occur over and over again?
SANDERS: Certainly we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The President's very supportive of law enforcement. But at the same time, in these specific cases, in these specifics instances, those will be left up to local authorities to make that determination and not something for the federal government to weigh into.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, joining me now is civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Clark family.
Mr. Crump, do you agree with Sarah Sanders, this is just a local matter? BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE CLARK FAMILY: Anderson, not at all. When you consider that 73 civilians have been killed by police bullets since 2015 and 70 of those were African-American men. This is a national epidemic and this video is very dramatic, when you look at it as an example of what's going on. They shoot first and ask questions later when it's black and brown people.
[21:50:15] COOPER: You say that Sacramento law enforcement action both before and after shooting have raised more questions than answers. Explain what you mean by that. What are you learning though because obviously the shooting itself, and even in the aftermath, the audio was turned off on the body cameras, as I understand it?
CRUMP: Yes, sir. Anderson, have you to acknowledge the video from the helicopter and the body cam prove to us that, number one, Stephon Clark had no gun. He had no weapon. He was no threat to the police. The police didn't give him a warning, they never identified themselves and when they shot and killed him they offered him no humanity as they let him lying on the ground dying for six minutes before they came over there and handcuffed him. And at that time they muted the microphones which is inappropriate on so many levels, his family believes at that point they had started to conspire to try to cover up what they knew was an unnecessary, unjustified killing of an unarmed black man.
COOPER: The police chief in Sacramento, Daniel Hahn has pledged complete transparency in the investigation. I'm wondering if you have faith that the police investigation is going to get to the bottom of what happened?
CRUMP: The family is very suspicious. While we appreciate the release of the video from the helicopter and the body cameras, because that did convey some transparency, that's important. But now we need accountability to get the trust. And we have to remember, Anderson, the day after they executed Stephon Clark, shooting him 20 times in his backyard, five feet from where his grandmother has to sleep every night, they then came and said the reason they had to do that because he had a gun. And they had to walk that back the next day and then they tried to allege that he had a tool bar, a crowbar. Then they had to walk that back and then finally they had to admit all he had was a cell phone. So the family of Stephon Clark doesn't trust anything that comes from the Sacramento Police Department since they were not telling the truth at the very beginning.
COOPER: We've seen protests in the streets. I know those are going to continue. I mean, you've represented the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, both of whom were killed by police. Do you think any progress has been made when it comes to the relationship between the African-American community and police in many cities across this country?
CRUMP: Well, when you consider yesterday the Alton Sterling decision that was also on video, and you see what happened to Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma City, which was also on video and no one's ever held accountable when they kill unarmed black and brown people. That's why I don't agree with the Press Secretary and the White House. This is a national issue. These are our children being killed in every city, whether it's Ferguson Missouri, whether it's Freddie Gray in Baltimore, where there is -- in Los Angeles with (INAUDIBLE). I mean, the list goes on and on, Anderson, we've done so many of these interviews, and yet whatever reason there's a justification to always exonerate the police when they kill black people.
And we change that because we deserve due process of the law too we are citizens, we deserve equal justice. And that's all the family of Stephon Clark is asking for. And that's why everyone is marching and protesting in Sacramento, because they don't want to see it happen again because we know if it happens this time and nobody's held accountable. We'll be back again, Anderson, talking about the same systemic problem.
COOPER: Mr. Crump, I appreciate your time. Benjamin Crump, thank you very much.
CRUMP: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
[21:58:05] COOPER: Before we hand it over to Don Lemon, I just want to acknowledge something that happened on the program on Monday. Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenetti was here with Michael Cohen's lawyer/friend. And I guess the time we thought it would be a good idea to have Jeffrey Toobin there as well. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AVENATTI: Your friend is a thug.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEY: Well, thank you. That's a million dollars.
AVENATTI: A thug. A thug.
SCHWARTZ: A million dollars.
AVENATTI: Thug, thug, thug, thug.
SCHWARTZ: Anyone who --
AVENATTI: Thug, thug, thug.
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wait a second --
SCHWARTZ: Anyone -- if you see anyone --
AVENATTI: He's a thug.
SCHWARTZ: By the way --
AVENATTI: He's a thug.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You may have noticed Jeff Toobin was sort of in a bit of a stuck in the middle with you kind of situation during that thug-off. Something that Stephen Colbert also happened to noticed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS ANCHOR: Well, we hear the late show of acquired exclusive audio of Jeffrey Toobin internal monologue.
AVENATTI: OK, no galvanic skin response
SCHWARTZ: No, I got to say this.
AVENATTI: No galvanic skin response
TOOBIN: Oh, god. When will this be over? I want to go home. I mean, why am I even here, I'm an author for god's sake. Now both sides of my face are covered in spittle. It smells like garlic and brute cologne. Damn you Anderson Cooper. Damn you to you hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now, Jeffrey Toobin, author and I believe Harvard educated attorney.
TOOBIN: Clowns to the right of me. Jokers to the right. You know what, the song even then occurred to me. Although others have sung it better.
COOPER: What were you thinking in the thug, thug, thug, thug? Which by the way, the Washington Post counted 20 times.
TOOBIN: 20 thugs. The hands in my face were the quite striking things, like big meaty hand from Mr. Schwartz on the left. You know I thought silence was an excellent option as it often is, and that's what I mostly --
COOPER: You tried to zero it back to the law. We appreciate that you've been there. It took a lot of me frankly to just step back and enjoy the entire conversation.
TOOBIN: As did we both.
COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin. Thanks very much.
Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it off to Don Lemon, CNN Tonight starts now.