Return to Transcripts main page


Special Counsel Mueller is Stopping Questioning Wealthy Russians about Possible Illegal Donations to Trump Campaign; Trump Administration Sending National Guard to Border with Mexico; President Trump Playing to His Base on Multiple Fronts; CNN Uncovers Audio of Roger Stone Warning about WikiLeaks Info "Devastating" to Clinton; Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 4, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:48] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the question this hour, did Russian money flow into the 2016 Trump campaign? CNN has exclusively learned that Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to find out and has been making some aggressive moves to do just that. CNN's Kara Scannell and Shimon Prokupecz broke the story. Kara joins us now.

So explain what you've learned about what Mueller has been doing?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Anderson, what we've learned so far is that Mueller's team is now targeting certain Russian oligarchs and that they've actually stopped two of them when they've landed in the U.S. on their private planes recently, in the past month.

And for one of those oligarchs, Mueller's team had asked them for questions and also had searched one of their electronic devices. The other oligarch was also stopped, and we've also learned that one other oligarch, who is in Russia, was asked to provide voluntarily documents and give an interview to special counsel Mueller's team.

Now we're not sure if he's going to do that, but we do know now that as part of this investigation into whether Russia meddled in the election and if there was any collusion with the Trump campaign, Mueller's team is now tracing the money back to the -- that came into the campaign through some of these oligarchs and asking these questions.

COOPER: So it's illegal for foreign nationals to donate money to U.S. political campaigns. How would they have potentially gotten around that?

SCANNELL: So we understand that Mueller's team is asking questions around two different ways that money could be hidden or funneled through intermediaries into the campaign. One of them, sources tell us, is that Mueller's team is looking at whether there were straw donors or American citizen who's can properly contribute to campaigns, but to see if any Russian money came in through them. Another avenue that Mueller's team is pursuing, sources tell us, is looking to see if Russians made investments into corporations or donated to think tanks. And those corporations and think tanks then donated through a political action committee into the campaign or inauguration fund. Both ways would enable there to be layers between the source of the money and the donations, and we understand that Mueller's team is now asking questions about that.

COOPER: And Mueller's approach with Russian oligarchs recently, explain what it tells us about -- or what we can discern about the investigation itself from that.

SCANNELL: One source said that this could be the, "wish list." Mueller's team has probably already gone through various documents, bank records, account statements that they have jurisdiction over in the U.S. and now stopping the Russians is a chance to see what more they can learn from the other end of the money flows, if it did in fact go to these individuals.

Experts I've talked to also have said this is a real strategy that prosecutors use. You know, they want to catch people off guard. They want the element of surprise, and they want to try to get the truthful off the cuff answers, not something that's been more rehearsed or lawyered. It also gives them an opportunity to search electronic devices such as cell phones before they can be wiped of any potential evidence.

COOPER: Kara Scannell, I appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much. Few people are better equipped to talk about this than CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Preet Bharara, who is former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

Preet, the idea that Mueller's team is having the FBI search Russian oligarchs traveling into the United States. I'm wondering what does that tell you?

[21:05:03] PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It tells me the Mueller team is very serious. It tells me that Mueller team has something that is causing them to take these significant and aggressive steps. It's telling me and should tell everyone that the investigation does not stop at water's edge. They can't necessarily go into Russia and interview people they would like, who may have been involved in affecting the election in an unlawful way, but they can lie in wait and see if people who like to travel United States do that. And it's something the prosecutors have been doing for a long time. And oligarchs should now appreciate that they travel a little bit at their own peril.

COOPER: Would they also have the capabilities of reaching out to oligarchs traveling in Great Britain? Where obviously a lot of Russians go there.

BHARARA: Yes. I mean, you would be hoping that our allies and our law enforcement partners around the world, particularly in friendly countries, are coordinating with our own law enforcement and assisting us in various ways in allowing us access to people who they, themselves, might be requested to conduct interviews that are significant to an investigation going on here. I don't know what kind of arrangements have been reached, but that's a normal thing that happens, and it happened during the time I was U.S. attorney as well.

COOPER: Which part of Mueller's case do you think this could fit into? I mean, could he be trying to establish some sort of quid pro quo here?

BHARARA: It looks like it. I think as people understand there are two major components, it looks like, the Mueller team is focusing on. One is obstruction, obstruction-related issues. And the other is whether or not people conspired in some way against the laws of the United States to affect the election. And so this looks like the oligarch interviewing looks like it's talking about the second component because if it turns out that oligarchs or anyone else, whatever you want to describe them as, had contributed to campaigns unlawfully, and that would be unlawful by definition, then Mueller's going to be looking at it.

COOPER: In today's press briefing, Sarah Sanders was asked about whether the President would sit for an interview with Mueller's team. I just want to show our viewers what she said.



SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President is working in conjunction with his legal team and making a determination. I'd refer you to them on anything specific regarding that matter. We're continuing to be fully cooperative with the office of the special counsel, and we'll continue driving the same message that we've been driving for over a year, that there was no collusion.


COOPER: I mean, obviously the President a couple months ago or maybe a couple weeks ago said that he would be willing to testify under oath. I mean as an attorney, do you think he should sit for an interview because yesterday, you know, we learned that according to the reporting, Mueller views him as a subject, not as a target. But that can also change.

BHARARA: Look, being a subject of an investigation is a very serious thing. It means that you are under investigation. It means at any moment you can convert yourself into a target of the investigation. By the way, some occasions we've seen in the past and it includes Martha Stewart and some other less infamous cases as well, that the thing that got someone in trouble was having been a subject coming in and lying to the government, lying to FBI agents, caused them to be charged. As we've seen in the Mueller investigation so far, including with respect to the person who just got sentenced this week to 30 days in prison, it is a serious matter to lie to the FBI, that bob Mueller will charge people who engage in that conduct, in lying to the agents. So it's a big deal. If you're asking me, you know, as a lawyer generally speaking, do I want the President to sit down for an interview? I would say yes, and I think that most of the public would want that because he can clear things up. He can explain both to the investigators and for purposes of showing that he has nothing to hide. It's a good thing politically and for transparency for him to come forward. If I were his lawyer, I probably would take a similar tack to some of the things we've been told he's been advised, that it's a very precarious and treacherous thing, particularly for somebody who's not given to telling the truth in a lot of contexts.

COOPER: Preet Bharara, I appreciate it. Thanks.

BHARARA: Thanks.

COOPER: Well, the President tonight signed a memorandum for using National Guard units to help secure the southern border. We have details of the deployment although they remain kind of fuzzy coming so soon after the President called for troops. In fact, all day the White House has been scrambling to build policy on the fly to try to fit the President's statements, that or actually walk back some other remarks on tariffs and pulling troops out of Syria. So the question about all of it is this any way to run the White House. Perspective now from Fareed Zakaria, Host of "GPS" here on CNN and the Atlantic National Correspondent, James Fallows.

Fareed, the fact this administration either has to play catchup with what the President has said or try to shape policy from off the cuff statements or walk back large parts of them, it's got to make the already difficult process of governing that much more complicated?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Yes, it's very strange. There's a kind of almost bizarre incompetence to the way in which the administration proceeds. So if you remember they start out with a travel ban that they then have to walk back because it's clear it's not going to meet legal scrutiny and courts are going to start dialing it back. Same thing with the steel tariffs, they announced tariffs on steel. China is not a particularly large exporter of steel, so they then have to give exemptions to two-thirds of the countries that export steel to the United States.

[21:10:07] You know, with something like the border wall, the troops on the wall, it's not clear what will actually happen. President Trump says troops are going to return from Syria and start building -- rebuilding America. I don't know if he realizes the troops in Syria are special force troops, are highly unlikely to be very good at building bridges or digging ditches in the United States.

And with all of that, it's all perfectly predictable. I wonder if it's getting worse, Anderson, because you Have Gary Cohn has left. McMaster has left. A lot of the so-called grown-ups have left. But this has been a puzzling incompetence because many of these things were perfectly predictable.

COOPER: James, it's not just people in the White House, you know, who are surprised by this and who have to, you know, be careful what they say because they're not sure if the President's going to contradict them. I mean after a time, just the American public stops believing in things the President is saying. Fareed said this last night, that the President's words are at risk of becoming kind of weight weightless.

JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: That's true. And there is a leadership and effectiveness consequence of this, a predictable surprise for everybody who enters the Oval Office and probably more so for Donald Trump than anybody else given his lack of experience is there's only so much the President can do just by saying, make it so.

The other 90 percent of what a President accomplishes is by persuading people, persuading people in the Congress, persuading the public, persuading overseas leaders that it's in their interest to go in the direction the President wants to lay out. So it is a huge advantage in that if you know which direction the President is going. With Ronald Reagan, he didn't know a lot of the details, but everybody knew where he was going. Overseas allies and domestic legislators as well. With Trump, his domestic allies in the Congress, they've decided whatever he is for, they're for, even if it's different six hours ago from what it is right now.

But for international leaders, it becomes really difficult because they don't know if they take some risk to side with one of his policies, is he going to change his mind the next day? So that becomes -- you know, it has the effect you're mentioning of sort of making the public lose trust in what he says, but also internationally it decreases this effect of whether a President can have people follow in the direction he wants to go.

COOPER: Well, Fareed, to James' point, I mean the effect of this not just in the U.S. but on the allies of the U.S., I mean it can actually have real consequences on the ground if our allies start to doubt, well, wait a minute, are we committed to a place, are we not? Do we listen to what the President is saying or do we listen to what military personnel on the ground are saying?

ZAKARIA: Well, if you think about almost all the big foreign policy challenges the administration faces, I think it would be fair to say that our allies must be wondering what exactly is American policy on Russia. You know, is the United States getting tougher on Russia, or is there some doubt on that?

On Iran, is the United States actually going to tear up the Iran deal as President Trump says? On North Korea, initially he said I will never talk to these guys as a reward for this buildup. In fact, I'm going to, you know, blow them out of the water and rain fire and fury on them. Then he says, no, no, no. I'm going to meet with them and have a deal.

So in each of these cases, you can imagine a country like Japan, for example, that has a very strong, tough, anti-North Korea stand. Are they going to take the political risk -- is Prime Minister Abe going to take the risk softening that stand because he thinks that Trump is going to move in that direction and they're going to be coordinated, only to find he's out on a limb and Trump has backtracked.

You know and this has happening time and time again. When I've been traveling abroad, this is the biggest problem most countries have. They're almost happy with any American policy in the sense that as long as it's consistent and they can figure it out, they will adapt to it. What they don't understand is should they pay a political price for something that will change tomorrow.

COOPER: You know, James, you mentioned President Reagan and -- you know, that he may not have known a lot of -- some of the details or get into the weeds on policy. But a President like Reagan and frankly just about any President is protected normally by, you know, layers of people around him, by people who vet speeches, by just sort of the weight of the office and not being exposed constantly. This is a President who exposes himself constantly through Twitter or, you know, large campaign events which he seems to enjoy and his staff encourages him to do. And while his supporters say, you know, it's great that he's able to communicate directly with the American people, the cost of that is he's able to communicate directly with the American people on anything that enters his head, and it often turns out to be things which are just not true, factually incorrect, or are not actually going to be policy executed by the White House or Congress.

[21:14:57] FALLOWS: Yes. And you see this. You see a clearer and clearer distinction or manifestation of the difference between being a popular character, especially a TV character, especially a reality show character, especially a sort of pro wrestling character, where unpredictable, suspense, what's going to happen tonight is different from all the previous nights. Those things are all great for a character on TV and some of Trump's personal popularity which is buoyed by that, and the very different job of being an international leader where predictability, steadfastness, being able to say this is the direction we're going. Five years from now, we're going to be in that place, so please come with us step by step by step.

Often the things that you are required for effectiveness, especially internationally, are dull and boring and make for predictable speeches and things that are not like pro wrestling and not like being on a reality show. And that tension between the personal popularity TV character aspect of this job, which Donald Trump enjoys and still is playing up, and the job of leading, especially internationally, I think we're seeing the contrast between those more and more starkly.

COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, James Fallows, thanks very much.

FALLOWS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, more on the border, on the wall that the President wants built, include the question about the building of it. The White House cannot seem to answer and failed again to answer today.

Later there's new reporting as well on WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange and Roger Stone who warned at time almost (INAUDIBLE) about what he called, "devastating WikiLeaks disclosures" during the campaign. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:20:10] COOPER: More now on the President's decision to send National Guard units to the southern border. The President today tweeting, "Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change this Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way -- they want people to pour into our country unchecked. CRIME! We will be taking strong action today."

Joining us now is Leon Rodriguez, Former Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Back this hour as well is former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes.

Leon, this news that the National Guard troops are going to the border, both President George W. Bush, should be pointed out and Barack Obama did that in two operations. It cost a total of -- I think, more than $1.3 billion. Is this any different, or do you see this as the same idea?

LEON RODRIGUEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: No. I mean this is different in the sense that the amount of activity headed toward the border is actually substantially less than it was. The highest it was, was under President Bush, somewhat less under President Obama, a lot less now. And so it is different in that respect.

It's also important to understand that the work that the National Guard would do, at least if you follow history is a purely supportive role. The responsibility here remains that of the U.S. border patrol. The other thing I would add is what you are seeing in Mexico this weekend is really the face of a simmering humanitarian crisis. And these folks are saying no matter how much interdiction you have, we need help. There is gang violence in our countries. There is poverty, and we're going to keep being visible until there really is a more comprehensive solution to our situation.

COOPER: Steve, I mean Secretary Nielsen was asked today why the urgency, and I guess I'll ask you that. What about that? Just from a logistical standpoint, why rush this now? Critics of the President say, look this has a lot to do with criticisms he's received from former supporters of his or even from his base, concerns that he's soft on immigration, illegal immigration?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Well, listen, the President has certainly not been soft on the border. And I think this is part of a common-sense strategy and one which he telegraphed and promised in 2016 and is following through on.

I have enormous empathy for people who are fleeing terrible situations in Latin America. My own father fled just such a situation of violence and a lack of opportunity in Latin America. But he also did it legally and that is the major -- and to me, the primary caveat that must be recognized here. No one has a right -- no one has a right to enter our country without permission just as no one has a right to enter our homes, our places of businesses without permission. So we will literally protect the border with the military if necessary, and through the National Guard, to show the world that while we are a nation of immigrants and we love immigration, we are not a lawless nation that will allow illegal immigration to become its own force.

COOPER: Right.

CORTES: And the only reason --

COOPER: But, Steve, the question --


COOPER: Steve, the question really, though, is this about politics, the fact that the President is doing it now. Under George W. Bush, my understanding is, you know, this was a stopgap measure in order to -- while they were trying to hire up more border officers, they were using national guard to fill more clerical duties that would free up other border agents to actually work on the border. It does -- I mean to you, is this about politics at all, as some have said?

CORTES: You know, listen, sure. I think it matters politically in that he's delivering on a political promise. I think that does matter. And I think it's also about politics because the Congress refused to recognize the will of the people, who elected Trump knowing that a foundational promise of his campaign was to build a border wall. They gave him $1.6 billion instead of $25 billion, which is what he requested.

So I think this is his way to say in the meantime, before we build the full wall that we should build, in the meantime, the wall is going to become a human wall, and it's going to be a wall of guardsmen and military.

COOPER: Leon, it's not actually going to be a wall of guardsmen and military as the president -- Steve just said. I mean, the President talked about the military guarding the border. The U.S. army, the marines are not going to be standing shoulder to shoulder on the border with weapons drawn, facing the Mexican border. It's going to be National Guard troops. And again, isn't it, Leon, going to be mostly sort of organizational duties?

[21:25:00] RODRIGUEZ: It is. It's going to be some air surveillance. It's going to be some activity in assisting and processing people.

Look, at the end of the day, the responsibility here remains that of the U.S. border patrol. Their numbers have grown year-over-year since the early 2000s. You know, there is tremendous logistical resources that they already have in terms of their ability to conduct surveillance at the border. So I think it's hard to believe that this -- you know, that the National Guard would particularly change the equation here. It's certainly dramatic. It's certainly, you know, to those who perceive whether, you know, based in fact or not, that there is lack of enforcement at our border, I suppose this is satisfying. But if you really look at it operationally, this is really not a particular change.

CORTES: But, Leon, when you say we perceive this, that's just dishonest. There are literally a thousand people a day roughly arrested crossing our border illegally. And how many more who aren't arrested, who make it through. So this isn't a perception issue. This is the reality on a ground. There is a soft invasion going on in the United States that we have tolerated for decades in this country.

COOPER: But, Steve, you do argue --


RODRIGUEZ: You need to look over decades because the fact is that the traffic has been diminishing consistently over decades. So if you look at where we were in 2000, 2001, 2002, we were talking about much higher levels of apprehension with less --

COOPER: But Steve -- and also hasn't the Trump administration rightfully pointed out that actually the percentage of people crossing the border illegally has dropped by as much as 60 percent? So on the one hand, they are claiming and I think for good reason credit for having a dramatic drop in numbers under the President Trump administration and at the same time now claiming that there's this army of people coming across. It's a national emergency, and that there is enemy combatants coming across, which have you seen any evidence of enemy combatants, of al-Qaeda and the Taliban coming across the southern border?

CORTES: No, I'm not calling them enemy combatants. But still someone who comes into your home or your country without permission is an invader. There's no other proper term to describe --

COOPER: But you are saying that you do admit that the numbers have drastically reduced?

CORTES: The numbers were dropping dramatically in 2017, and I think that was a great testimony to President Trump and his fortitude in terms of reinforcing the border. However, they've been rising lately, and I think the reason they've been rising lately is because now these people who respond very well to incentives have decided or have determined that President Trump didn't get what he wanted. He didn't get the kind of border wall he wants. He didn't get the kind of law changes that he wanted. And so they're showing up. By the way, they're being far more skillful in manipulating our process. What I mean by that is many of them now are claiming asylum status whereas that was a very minuscule number in times past. So they're getting smarter about it.

COOPER: Leon, I want you to respond.

RODRIGUEZ: They're not -- I mean they're not merely responding to incentives. What they're responding to is desperate situations in their country. Enforcement is a tool. Our immigration laws need to be respected. But until we have a comprehensive solution, a hemispheric solution to what's going on in these countries in terms of poverty and gang violence, this is going to keep coming. I don't care how many National Guard troops you send to the border or how high a wall you build, the actual pushes and pulls of migration need to be addressed. It's not simply an enforcement issue.

COOPER: All right. Leon Rodriguez, Steve Cortes, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, a look at President Trump and his die hard political base, why does he feel the need to play so strongly to his supporters? We'll show you that ahead.


[21:31:55] COOPER: President Trump's tweets over the past few days have taken aim at many targets, Amazon, the media, former President Obama to name just a few. But in a very real sense he's playing to a single audience, his political base. More from our Randi Kaye tonight.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have retailers all over the United States who are going out of business.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the President is trying to impress his base, comments like that may do the trick. No doubt Trump has a personal beef with Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns "The Washington Post." But Trump, in going after Amazon, is also defending brick and mortar retailers, which he says are getting squeezed.

TRUMP: You look at some of these small towns where they had a beautiful main street with stores. The stores are all gone.

KAYE: Those retailers in many cases, mom and pop shops, part of what Donald Trump sees as his base. His effort to keep his supporters in Middle America and elsewhere happy may explain some of his recent rhetoric about tariffs too, sounding more like he did during the campaign.

TRUMP: China is upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They're ripping us off, folks. It's time.

KAYE: Trump's move to slap tariffs on China was a nod to his base. But less than 24 hours after the White House unveiled a list of Chinese imports they plan to target for unfair trade practices, China slapped its own tariffs on the United States, targeting agriculture exports from U.S. farm belt states like soybean, corn, wheat, and beef.

Now farmers who largely supported Trump could get hurt. Still, Trump's top economic adviser hinted that in the end, there may be no tariffs at all.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I doubt if there will be any concrete actions for several months. We'll see how that plays out. Nothing concrete has actually happened. These are proposals.

KAYE: And what about immigration? After a tough-talking campaign and deciding to end the DACA program last year, the President started to sound as if he were willing to cross the aisle on immigration issues.

In January, even calling for a bipartisan, "Bill of Love" to protect DREAMers, the hundreds of thousands of young people brought here illegally. But now once again is taking a harder stance.

The President on a tear about weak laws and porous borders, stoking fears for the upcoming midterms like he did during the campaign. In a tweet, the President announced no more DACA deal.

SANDERS: The President has been very clear, put multiple proposals on the table to fix the problem, and Democrats have not been willing to take a deal that was actually a really good deal and went much further than the previous administration.

KAYE: And those National Guard troops the President plans to send to help shore up the southern border with Mexico, border security is an issue that won him lots of support during the campaign, and he's playing to that base again.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It will be strong. It will be add many as is needed to fill the gaps.

KAYE: Promises in the year 2018 that sound a lot like 2016. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


[21:35:00] COOPER: Joining me now is Kirsten Powers and Paris Dennard.

Kirsten, do you see any kind of strategy from the President here?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we can only judge on his actions. We don't know what's going on in his head. But it seems pretty obvious that he is trying to -- he's tailoring these tweets to his base. We know that. We know there's a midterm election coming up where the Republicans stand to not do very well, which is typical in a first-term midterm election, but it looks like it may be even worse than I think some people expected. And so he needs to gin up the base. There's a huge enthusiasm gap between the Democrats and the Republicans, and he also just signed a bill that has a lot of his supporters very, very unhappy. So it would certainly make sense for that to be the strategy.

COOPER: Paris, do you see this about ginning up the base? I mean he has received criticism from the right, people like Ann Coulter hitting him pretty hard for, you know, not getting wall funding, and sources say that criticism has, "Rattled him."

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Anderson, I think the President understands that he ran on a winning message, which is a make America great again message. And a lot of things that he has been tweeting about and some of the things that have come out through these executive orders and Presidential actions have been things that he campaigned on that the American people -- or those we should say, that voted for him really supported and want to see him make good on his campaign promises because when you move from a campaign, you go to governing.

And he's realizing that when you are President, you can't just do everything on your own. You have to work with the Congress, and in many instances, I think he feels rightfully so that the Congress has let him down, and has let down the people that he said in his inaugural address he was going to be there. He wasn't going to forget about them.

And so these issues that his base, the issues that the American people that voted for him care about, curbing illegal immigration, border security, small businesses and supporting have a robust economy, these are things that they care about, and I think he's smart enough to know that with a midterm election coming up, he wants to give some wins on the board for the Republicans to go and campaign on.

And while he may not be as popular as people want here in the beltway or here in Washington, D.C., back home in a lot of these districts where these members are running, there are places where he is very popular. And this is not -- if not the President that's very popular, his message and his policies are very popular.

COOPER: So, Kirsten, I mean if moving troops, moving National Guard forces to the border as George W. Bush did when they were trying to hire more border officers, as President Obama did as well, I mean is that really about politics for this President?

POWERS: Well, I mean I think it's something he probably believes needs to happen regardless of politics. But, look, he did have an opportunity to lead. Paris, you're going through all these different things that people are disappointed about. He could have struck a deal and gotten a wall. I mean the Democrats were willing to give him the funding for the wall, something that they absolutely hate, that they don't support, that they don't think we need, that they think it's a waste of money, that they think it's offensive. But they were willing to do it. But instead he then loaded up, you know, the bill with all these other requests that they couldn't agree to. And so --

DENNARD: No, they could agree to. They just chose not to.

POWERS: No. This is how it works. You don't get everything that you want. If you get people to agree to something that their party is vehemently opposed to, you then cannot say, in addition to that, I want you to add in all these other things. That's just not how deal making works, and I think that Donald Trump certainly should know that.

So the point is he wasn't able to make a deal, and that's why he's in trouble. And so I think, yes, he can try and do a lot of different things. But I think when you've lost Ann Coulter, you know, you're kind of in trouble. You know, she was one of his biggest supporters, and if she's turning on him, I don't think that bodes well for him. DENNARD: The President is not in trouble.

COOPER: Paris, I want --

DENNARD: Yes, the President is not in trouble. We've seen recent polls that show that his poll numbers are going up. We've seen a Congressman who is running for the Senate put on a make America great again hat to show his undying support for the President.

The President is not in trouble. What he is concerned about is the things that he puts on the table that the Congress is not able to work. If he puts out a deal and they choose not to accept it, that's their fault for not making a deal. If the President put out some positive deals, and they chose not to accept them.


COOPER: Paris Dennard, Kirsten Powers, I appreciate it. Thanks.

[21:39:37] When we continue, new details of a radio appearance by Trump campaign supporter Roger Stone and just what his connection is or isn't with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.


COOPER: New reporting tonight from CNN's Andrew Kaczynski shows long time Trump supporter Roger Stone appeared on an internet radio show on the same day that "The Wall Street Journal" says Stone sent an e-mail claiming he'd had dinner with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. Andrew Kaczynski joins me now.

So what did you and your team discovered about, about this time line and explain just the significance of it?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, KFILE: OK. So this is Roger Stone on the Alex Jones show. He was on there on August 4th of 2016. Now it's significant because this is the same day on which he sent that e-mail claiming in which he had dined with Julian Assange.

Now, what's equally very interesting about it is in the appearance, Stone said that devastating WikiLeaks were going to be coming out on Hillary Clinton, and he also claimed that he had spoken to Donald Trump basically that same day. So he would have spoken to Trump the same day or night in which he claim having dinner with Assange. So having those two things connected is very -- raises a lot of questions about his relationship with WikiLeaks.

COOPER: Has Roger Stone responded to CNN about your findings?

KACZYNSKI: So I e-mailed with Mr. Stone a little bit. He says that he was traveling from L.A. to Miami on the date in question. He actually says that in the interview with Alex Jones as well. So he claims he couldn't have dined with Assange, and he basically is saying it's, you know, a fake story and whatnot.

[21:45:00] COOPER: All right. Andrew Kaczynski, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. Coming up, remembering Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years to the day since he was assassinated in Memphis. I'll speak with Dr. Cornell West about Dr. King's legacy.


COOPER: Bells rang out this evening across the country marking the devastating moment in American history 50 years ago on this day in 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Here was the scene at the King Center in Atlanta this evening.


COOPER: The bell rang 39 times, symbolizing Dr. King's age when he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. At that site now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, there was a day long tribute honoring his life and his legacy. Joining me now is Dr. Cornell West.

[21:50:00] Dr. West, thanks so much for being with us on this, the 50th anniversary of this assassination. It's so interesting how history changes the way somebody is perceived, and it's very easy -- this happened with Muhammad Ali as well. But certainly Dr. King, his legacy, I mean his life is probably so different and his message is so different than sort of a sanitized version of it which has become kind of the common way he's seen today.

CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: Yes, I think we're reaching the conclusion that Martin Luther King Jr. was an extremist whether it came to love. Extremist when it came to justice. And what that meant was that he was willing to tell the truth. Truth is always to allow suffering to speak.

He comes from a people who have been terrorized, traumatized and hated for 400 years. He taught the world so much about love and connected at the justice, with unbelievable level of courage and vision. But it's a sad day. It's a very tough day. It's a sober day. It's a sober day, because something died in all of us who are concerned about each other. When you think about Brother Martin shot down like a dog there outside of room 306 in the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis.

The important thing to be honest is that martin Luther King Jr., he loved you. He loved me. He loved Muslims, Mexicans. He loved Palestinians and Jews. He loved Dalit (ph). He loved Roma. He was a love warrior. He's an intellectual and spiritual love warrior.

COOPER: And yet, I mean that message today, I wonder how it would be perceived particularly this political moment in our history. It's very easy to embrace him now that he's not here and not speaking about issues which probably would alienate a lot of people from him.

WEST: Well, the beautiful thing is, you know, you got to William Barber with the Poor People's Campaign. You've got the Reverend Katie Ladd there in Seattle. You got Father Pfleger in Chicago in St. Sabina. You have Mark Ridley Thomas in Los Angeles.

There is a wave of people who are keeping his legacy alive in a variety of different context. You got some progressive rabbis, progressive ministers and temples and Muslim mosque and so forth. And especially among the young people, there is a marvelous new militancy among the younger generation. You got the Teachers Unions in Kentucky and Oakland keeping alive his legacy.

And most importantly, you have the critics of the empire. Most important you have those keeping track of the bombs, keeping track of the wars, keeping track of the house raids and detentions. The torture sites and so forth. Martin Luther King Jr. he had a love supreme. He was concerned about each and every human being. A Vietnamese baby had exactly the same value as a black baby in Alabama brown baby in East Los Angeles or red baby on the reservation or a white baby in Newtown Connecticut or Parkland High in Florida.

That's the kind of person that he was. He was a free black man. He was a Christian minister. He was a spiritual giant. But he was still not perfect. He was not pure. He was human like me. He was human like you. But he decided to be a love warrior. Not just a polished politician. That's that neoliberal talk about being smart. No. Smartness was not enough. He wanted wisdom and courage and most importantly, he was willing to pay a cost. He was willing to go to the edge of life's abyss to step out on nothing and land on something and what he landed on was a legacy that passed on to the younger generation. We'll see. Because his after life will be manifest in the kind of lives we live. Not the super facial lip service or pretentious posturing but who is willing to live and who is willing to die for justice for freedom.

COOPER: I think one of the things he said and I don't want to misquote it but I think he said something to the effect that he would rather die than live a life of fear, or live in fear, to make that -- to be willing to die rather than live in fear, that's an extraordinary thing. I think for most of us, you know, that's not a decision I think a lot of people are willing to make.

WEST: No, but Brother Martin said that I'd rather be dead than afraid. And that's why he said in the end that most people don't understand who I am. They don't understand my calling. They don't understand my commitment. Because you see as a Christian, he was willing to live in the world and not of it. He was willing to learn how to die every day by calling himself into question to be reborn into a better person and to be willing to give of himself. He's like al green though, brother. At the end of an al green concert, he is about to collapse because he gives of himself. He empties himself.

[21:55:04] Martin Luther King Jr. emptied himself whether he was in that coffin. He had the body of a 65-year-old just like Charlie Parker. Why? Because he gave everything, the gifts that he had, he cultivated. And he gave it back in terms of his intellectual work, his moral work, his spiritual work and his Christian prophetic witness.

And unfortunately in the age of neo-facist stirrings and Hungary and Poland and the White House as well as in Kenya and other places that that kind of love and justice is being pushed to the margins. But it is coming back. There is a spiritual and moral awakening in this nation and around the world. And many of us are willing to go down swinging to stay on that love train, to stay on that justice train and make sure that we put a smile on the face of Brother Martin from the grave. We'll never forget him, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Edward Zied (ph). They're a cloud of witnesses. And it's a beautiful thing to be a part of that cloud. And Brother Martin, he's at the center of it.

COOPER: You usually get in a cold train reference. But you did get in an Al Green reference which I love and appreciate. Dr. West, always a pleasure. Thank you.

WEST: Love you, brother. Stay strong now.

COOPER: Thank you. We'll be right back.