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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Scott Pruitt Asked to Use Sirens in D.C. Traffic; Sources: Trump Floated Replacing Sessions with Pruitt Despite Scandals; President Trump Says He Didn't Know About Stormy Daniels' Hush Payment; Texas Border Sheriff Says National Guard Troops May Not Help; Central American Migrants Reach Next Destination, Some Vow to Go to U.S. Border; Lewandowski to Democrats: I'm not Answering Your Questions. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 5, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will he be fired or promoted or something else? That's the question tonight about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Now as you know, he's surrounded by ethical concerns and they appear to be growing. Just today we learned that he demanded VIP treatment lights and sirens to cut through Washington traffic. And according to three knowledgeable sources a member of his security team was demoted after refusing to do that. That's on top of the expensive furniture, the first class travel, the $50 a night room, the condo of Washington lobbyist.
So the bottom line is Pruitt got issues and despite all that, CNN has also learned that the President has been weighing a promotion for him and firing the attorney general he seems the love to hate on. Then late today Aboard Air Force One the President weighed in. For more on all of it, let's go first to CNN Jeff Zeleny at the White House tonight.
So what did you learned about the President considering replacing Sessions with Pruitt?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's certainly has been a discussion here at the White House. The President has been eyeing the attorney general. No one more in his cabinet has been more upset with for a longer period of time than Jeff Sessions.
And Scott Pruitt would have been an answer to that because he has been a confirmed member of the cabinet. So we could have been acting attorney general. But the reality here is, I'm told in the last day or so the President still discussing it but not as much. The reality is he did not think he did well on that Fox News interview yesterday. He called it interesting, himself, when asked about it on Air Force One today.
And the President said directly, no Scott is doing a fine job. He'll stay where he is. Now we've heard that so many times before. The President giving cabinet secretary basically a thumbs' up only to find out later in the week he's fired. So we do not know what the status of him. But the difference here Anderson is this. It's a key one. Conservatives think that Scott Pruitt is doing a good job at the EPA rolling fact. A lot of Obama era regulations. That is a difference then the Veterans Affairs Department for example. There is a big constituency for Scott Pruitt at the EPA to stay -- have him stay on, doing what he is doing, again rolling back those administration regulation. So at this point don't look for a change yet. But again, that could always change at the whim of the President.
COOPER: Do you know anything about how Chief of Staff John Kelly or others in the White House feel about it?
ZELENY: We do know that John Kelly has not been enamored with Scott Pruitt recently largely because of these headlines. This is something that John Kelly -- you know, a long time military man is been trying to get his arms around. His cabinet secretary is -- you know, for spending extra money, for buying extra things and for dragging them with their lights. John Kelly does not like this.
So he has been not pleased by this, we're told. He is where the scandals must stop. But again, it's the President's decision here. He's hearing a lot from outside advisors, senators, others who think on a substantive level Scott Pruitt is doing a good job. Another thing to point out, it's very difficult to confirm a new EPA administrator. So yes, the swamp is not being drained here but the policies being enacted are what the Trump supporters want. So that's what the President must decide and must way. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
David Gergen and Axelrod have been in the West Wing as cabinet shake ups were considered or actually carried out, David Axelrod on the Obama administration, David Gergen, then back to the Nixon days. They join us both now.
So David Axelrod, does it make sense to you that the President would -- even if it's floating the idea of replacing Sessions with Pruitt in the first place, given all the attention Pruitt is under right now for ethics concerns?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look I think Jeff Zeleny is absolutely right. We all know that he's been frustrated with Sessions for a very long time. And I think one of his frustrations is he keeps being told that he can't remove him. One of the appeals Pruitt may have been until the last few days that Pruitt has a constituency in the Senate.
One of the worries about Sessions is that he has a constituency among Republicans in the Senate where he served so long. They like Scott Pruitt in the Senate. Maybe the President thinks he's someone that can get confirmed. I'm sure what Mitch McConnell think is not only does he not want to get rid of Sessions or move Pruitt, he just doesn't want anymore nominating fights at this time. This is a very difficult time in the pre-election run up to have any of these fights. So I think the President is sort of acting out here because he's mad at Sessions.
[21:05:15] It is -- you know, I never want to bet against him doing something because every time you say he wouldn't do that, he do that. And it's odd to replace -- it is odd to replace someone as attorney general, someone who is all of a sudden scandal plagued in the way he's handled his office. But that I don't think would discourage Trump.
COOPER: David Gergen, I mean, pretty remarkable that Pruitt is in this place where he could be fired or promoted in the same week.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's an extraordinary story. I think that President Trump, first and foremost, likes Scott Pruitt because he thinks he's a tough guy. He will do the really hard things. After all, a Republican President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and then under Trump, Pruitt is the turning given to the environmental destruction agency. And I think the President really likes that.
He also likes to have Pruitt in the bullpen, where Sessions is still on the mount. I think he have to go to David Axelrod's point. A lot of the people around the President are telling him not to fire Sessions because he will have a (INAUDIBLE) on his hands trying to get anybody confirmed starting with Pruitt. And he is better off just holding on to Sessions will have to the midterm. And then making move then, which I think he will make eventually. But in the meantime, we've got the scandals growing or the smells coming out of this, in this grandiosity that Pruitt had shown, which I think is going to wind up being a political liability as well.
AXELROD: One of the ironies is that in under normal set of circumstances when you have a EPA director who is getting essentially rent free space from a lobbyist who is dealing with his agency or the wife of a lobbyist dealing with the agency that's the kind of thing that gets referred to criminal just agency for review eventually or potentially. And so at the same time, the story arises he's being talked about for attorney general. It is -- as David says, extraordinary.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, sure the definition of the swamp, I mean David Gergen, if the President did in fact replace Sessions with Pruitt, what kind of domino effect could it have on the special counsel investigation?
GERGEN: I don't know. I think first of all, it will be kind of a fight on Capitol Hill. And I think it would go on for a long time. And Republicans are rightly concerned that it's going to bring out if you look at the various polls there's a lot of support for doing things about climate change. I mean, you walk away from that -- you know, it's been lost to site here a lot on the environmental side. The environment issue because we have been engulfed in all the Mueller and everything else. I mean there's so many things going on. It's hard to keep on eye on the climate change but that -- historians may recall that's -- or may look back and say that's the single most important issue that Americans were dealing in 21st century.
And with Pruitt, you know, there's a growing sense in the public if once they understand what he's up to and as well as the rental and the numbers are just extraordinary. And the way he has abuse his power and acted -- you know, sort of a semi-Trumpian way. It must attract the President's attention, rather must build his respect for him. But I do think that when all this come down, I think the public is going to be pretty upset about it.
AXELROD: I don't think he can confirm anybody to replace Sessions if he fires him right now. Least of all Pruitt, I mean, you know how divided the Senate is. And I think there'll be a fewer Republicans who would take a walk on a replacement because it would be such an effort to undermine the Mueller investigation. So I think that he's stuck, which is something he doesn't like.
COOPER: Yes. And I mean, the other question is, would Mueller actually look at it as an effort -- yet another effect to undermine his investigation?
AXELROD: He could.
GERGEN: He would, Anderson, if the first person in the door at the Justice Department then fires Mueller that would be -- I think, in and of itself, it will not be have much impact -- if the intention is to get a replacement for Sessions so he can fire Mueller then he is inviting just another storm. It's going to be much better even.
COOPER: David Axelrod, what kind of a message do you think it sends to other White House officials that you can be facing all these ethics concerns but still possibly get a promotion?
AXELROD: Look, I think the whole thing is bizarre. I don't think ethics meant much in this administration starting with the President himself. And the fact that people are allowed to -- still have business enterprises far from business enterprises while they're serving in the White House.
[21:10:15] So I think the message is on ethics have been very, very poor. I think the bigger thing for people working in the White House is what the hell is going on here. Is there anybody but the President making decisions here? Is there a system? Kelly seemed to have control for the while. Now the President is basically gone off on his own and he is talking to his outside advisers and he is talking to himself and he is making these decisions on the fly and that I think is a very dangerous circumstance.
GERGEN: Yes, and --
COOPER: David, stick around. Go ahead.
GERGEN: I want to make a point. One more time that people take their cues from the President, Scott Pruitt would not be pushing the boundaries on ethics unless the President himself was doing the same thing as David Axelrod has been arguing. COOPER: I want to talk next about the President tossing out his prepared remarks today, let me fly with the starting of his greatest hits really from the campaign and beyond. It was long on (INAUDIBLE) short of Fox. Keeping them honest, ahead on that.
And later, the President breaking his silence on Stormy Daniels speaking up for the first time and why her attorney now calls it Christmas and Hanukkah, all wrapped into one.
[21:15:09] COOPER: The President made a lot of news on the way back from a quick visit to West Virginia where he also made headlines. He was there to campaign against Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and speak at a round table on taxes. He came with prepared remarks, only some of which he read. The rest he literary threw out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, this was going to be my remarks. It would've taken about two minutes, but to hell with it.
TRUMP: That would have been a little boring. A little boring. Now I'm reading off the first paragraph. I said this is boring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That kind of summed up the moment, the President returning to the kind of rhetorical red meat, mostly fact free red meat, we should point out that he enjoys much on that campaign trail, evening reaching back and revisiting remarks that stirred a lot of controversy on day one of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And remember my opening remarks that Trump Tower when I open, everybody said, oh he was so tough and I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don't want to mention that. So we have to change our laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, whatever the President is trying to say there by conflating rape victims today and rape back then is unclear. However on the number of other subjects the President was very clear and clearly saying things that are not true, such as this claim that his wall is already being built and the military will be taking part of the construction of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have to have strong border. We're going to have the wall. We've already started building it. We have a billion six, we've started building it and fixing miles and miles of wall that's already up and fence. And we're going to have our wall and we're going to get it very strongly. The military is going to be building some of it. But we're going to have very strong borders and we have to change our laws and we're working on doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, we sent our Gary Tuchman to the border last week. He saw for himself that the new construction, the President has been referring to is nothing new. It's merely the repairs and reconstruction of the existing walls. The President is now using that and referring to repairing walls which he hadn't been previously. There's nothing in the defense budget about wall building itself on the border. The President also returned to another theme that the voting was rigged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Many places like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say, oh that's a conspiracy theory. It's not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people, and it's very hard because the state guards their records.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Millions and millions of people. Keeping them honest, not only have experts debunked this, the President's own panel of experts have, his own voter Freud commission was shut down in January without finding any evidence of any such massive voter fraud. He said it's because the states wouldn't give them the information.
Back now with David Gergen and David Axelrod.
David Gergen, first of all, the fact the President is still peddling this lie that millions of people voted illegally in the election is pretty incredible after shutting down his own commission on this, and he won the election?
GERGEN: He's dismissive of truth as he is of ethics. You know, we go on and on and on with this. I thought one thing was striking this week, Anderson was a story in yesterday's front page in New York Times about the leader of Turkey, Erdogan, who is giving speeches like this every day, two or three on national television. He pays no attention to facts. He tells total number of lies. He is very charismatic and he maintains about 40 percent approval rating. Guess who else has about 40 percent these days? Donald Trump. You know, it is a device that works up to a point. And I'm sad to say that it also can lead to the diminishment of democracy if not its death.
COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean, the President say bringing up those first comments he made when he announced his candidacy. It makes sense giving the reporting that he is now feeling like he's his own best advisor and just going to start doing things his way. And the campaign as we know, he certainly did things his way. AXELROD: No, I think -- look, I think that's what going on. I think he spent a year being bridled by people who told him what he can't do. And his basic view is hey, I'm here because I followed my own instincts and I'm just going to do whatever I want to do. And I'm not going to be told what I can't do. And he is going back to his greatest hits, the things that he thinks help get him here, including this despicable issue, you know, where you're tarring an entire people on this rape issue and the voting issue which is absurd. But he's created this alternative universe.
And I think, Anderson, he's looking to the fall election. He's being told, I mean there was another election in Wisconsin this week for the state supreme court that went badly for the Republicans.
[21:20:03] There are all kinds of signs that there isn't a lot of h Republican enthusiasm out there and now he's trying to pump up the balloon with a bunch of this noxious gas that he peddled in the past. And he's hoping that, that will do the trick. I think he's persuaded. Now I speak to people who talk to him and say he's having the time of his life. He's really happy right now because he's doing what he wants to do and what he thinks is the smart thing to do and he has great faith in his own instincts. Well, we'll see how that works out in November.
COOPER: David Gergen, you just said about this can lead to the death of democracy. I mean, do you really believe that?
GERGEN: Yes, I do. I do. And this book that's out now called how democracies die by a couple of Harvard professors. It's very worth reading. It's short and makes compelling points about how many countries, dozen countries have -- where democracies have become authoritarian countries and it's happened again and again. And just in the last 20 years or so it's happened again and again when extremists, strong men come to office and carry their countries in that direction. And when you don't have the kind of restraint and the kind of (INAUDIBLE) that a democracy needs, you can erode it very badly. And I now think it's -- I think increasingly has becoming a threat, we're not there by any means but it is a threat and if we had this President and we had a couple more like him, you know, I think we would be very close.
COOPER: David Axelrod, do you believe that?
AXELROD: We -- yes, I mean, look, I'm deeply concerned about democracy. Not just here but in Europe, we see these authoritarian regimes growing up. We see democratic institutions being degraded and we see this assault on truth. And -- you know, a free press, the truth, facts. Those things are central to a functioning democracy. So you know I have faith ultimately in our institutions of democracy and in the American people who ultimately have the authority with their vote. It is -- I've said this to you many times, Anderson. My concern about Donald Trump is less his policy, even though I disagree with many of his policies. It's his utter disregard for democratic institutions. He's the President of the United States. He's the trustee of those institutions and he takes a hammer blow to them every single day and that is concerning. COOPER: David Gergen, just lastly, today the President also said that he might hit China with an additional $100 billion in tariffs which would be on top of the $50 billion the White House has already authorized. About that just a bit ago, Republican Senator Ben Sasse released statement that read, in part, "hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but if he's even half serious, this is nuts." Do you agree? Is it nuts?
GERGEN: I do. And the reason is for me even from his own point of view is that if he pursues this we will be eventually into a trade war. We went from him proposing tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports and then the Chinese in the last 48 hours match that and they're going to said they're going to put on tariffs. And then the White House rushed people out to say we're not going to have a trade war we're go into negotiations.
This isn't taking a fact, everybody calm down. They calm down the markets and then our President throws a hand grenade back into the midst of all of this and said, actually, I want to go to $100 billion more of Chinese imports being subject of tariffs. The Chinese are going to have -- they're going to rise and we're going to -- and there's going to be -- just wait and see how much the markets are rattled in the next 24 hours by what the President just did.
So I do think it's concerning and from his political point of view, it's nuts doing peril as a trade war would the very economic recovery that he has some legitimacy in claiming, I did a lot to help bump up this recovery. And that's going to be the strongest point the Republicans can take into the midterm elections. And if he throws it away through a trade war, there's a lot more Republicans that will say that's nut.
AXELROD: And in some of the various states that he won with. Yes.
COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, David Gergen, thank you very much.
When we continue, a lot more tonight, perhaps the most unexpected breaking news tonight, President Trump talks about the cash payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, finally breaking his silence on the issue.
[21:28:28] COOPER: Breaking news tonight, the President breaking his silence on Stormy Daniels. He's speaking out for the first time about the $130,000 hush money payment his own lawyer facilitated to secure Daniels silence about the affair he alleges. Today Board Air Force One, the President was asked by a reporter and for the first time he answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? TRUMP: No, I don't know. What else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then, why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, both Daniels and Former Playboy Model Karen McDougal have alleged affairs with Citizen Donald Trump. But until today the President has always refused to answer questions about either woman. As for Michael Cohen here is what Attorney David Schwartz, who speaks for Cohen on his have to say about the President's remarks and I'm quoting from his statement here. He said, "This is an accurate assessment of the facts. This is exactly what I've been saying all along. Michael Cohen made the payment to protect reputation, family and business. It had nothing to do with the election."
This of course did occur 11 days before the election. Now if Mr. Cohen could make it on the broadcast tonight, Stormy Daniels' attorney could. I spoke with Michael Avenatti in our first hour. Here are some of that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS'S ATTORNEY: It's like Christmas and Hanukkah, all rolled into one. You can't have an agreement if one party claims they knew nothing about one of the principle terms in the agreement. So the President has just shot himself in the foot and thrown his attorney basically on Michael Cohen under the bus in the process.
[21:30:03] Put him in dire straits with the state bar of New York because according to the President now Mr. Cohen was negotiating this agreement and doing this all on his own without consultation with the President. We don't necessarily believe that by the way, and we're going to test the veracity or truthfulness of the statement.
But, you know, Anderson, we knew sooner or later he was going to crack. This is a man that is not disciplined. He's not a disciplined client. And we knew sooner or later it was going to happen. We were patient and lo and behold the gift came from the heaven this afternoon when he responded to the question on Air Force One which he should never have responded to. He should have left it alone. And now he has put himself and he has put Mr. Cohen in a world of hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Michael Avenatti earlier tonight. Joining us now is former Trump Campaign Aide, Michael Caputo, and Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser to MoveOn.org.
Thanks for being with us, both of you.
Michael so, the President is known for saying things that for speaking off the cuff about a lot of things. He has remained silent until now on this. Do you think it was wise for him to answer those questions, Michael?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Well, I'm not an attorney so I can't tell you whether it's wise or not. I think Mr. Avenatti made his point very clear. But you know what, my real concern is here, Anderson, is the following. It's not really Mr. Avenatti or Stormy Daniels, it's Director Mueller because if you can -- if you know, Ken Star can get from white water all the way to questions about personal intimacy in order to wrap up Bill Clinton, this is a peril for the President as well. And if Director Mueller feels like he needs to go there -- and I think a lot of attorneys could connect the dots to make is relevant, this is a peril situation.
COOPER: Well, Karine, Michael raises really an interesting point. I mean, if Michael Cohen has violated campaign finance law, that does give -- opens a door for Robert Mueller to actually have something on Michael Cohen if in fact, he wants to try to get at Michael Cohen and get him to flip if there's anything for him to flip about.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON MOVEON.ORG: I think that's right. Michael Cohen was already at the epicenter of the Mueller investigation already. So now you have this potential hush money, this payment that was made to Stormy Daniels 11 days before a Presidential election and the lies and the cover up. Because it's not about the affair, it's the cover up that we continue to see and the lies from Donald Trump and others around this that has been made this very troublesome.
And so yes, this $130,000 would be considered an in kind contribution if Donald Trump is now is saying that he didn't know about this money which, guess what, is about $126,500 more than Michael Cohen is allowed to give. So this is incredibly problematic especially if you look at the timing. I think the timing here is the issue.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Michael because Daniels' attorney now is re-filing his motion to depose not only Michael Cohen but actually depose President Trump. And obviously the President and Michael Cohen have been wanting to get this into arbitration, which under the rules of NDA, which Avenatti says, it's not valid because the President didn't sign it. It calls for arbitration but Avenatti says under the rules in California in the federal district where this now is there's actually -- they can take depositions even to determine the arbitration. So Avenatti feels like he's in a good position to actually be able to depose the President of the United States. Does that worry you to have the President under oath speaking to an attorney on these issues?
CAPUTO: Well, the President is experiencing litigation. He has been deposed many, many times before. I don't like the idea of Mr. Avenatti or Stormy Daniels being able to depose the President, of course. I'm hoping their 15 minutes of fame is up soon. I'm much more concerned about Director Mueller. And I think that we can learn a lot from Ken Star and Bill Clinton in this. And I think the President's lawyers need to be on alert, whether this is something that actually happened between the President and Stormy Daniels or not.
COOPER: Karine, do you think it was wise for the President to publicly weigh in on this. I mean, it would be difficult for him not to given his own on an aircraft. He's not like -- you know, he is walking to a helicopter. He came back to the press obviously because there were things he wanted to talk to the press about. Maybe he didn't expect this question to be one of them.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, he should have expected it. I don't understand why he would not have. This is been a story that has been playing on and on for several weeks. So that's confusing why Donald Trump would not know. But look, Donald Trump is and I've said this before, he can't put a sentence together without lying. He has no credibility. Washington Post put out a story not too long ago where they said the first 400 day he lied, misled about 2,500 times. This is just the President that we have.
[21:35:04] Now we -- what we're seeing is a porn star has more credibility than the President of the United States. And that's a very sad place to be.
COOPER: Michael, do you want to respond to that?
CAPUTO: I do believe that it's difficult to sit on CNN over and over again and talk about a woman who gets paid for sex. You know, I find it distasteful. I wish they weren't talking about this. But as we talked about before, Anderson, you know, when I first met the President in 1988, he was playboy and was cultivating that image. I think the fact that he was a playboy earlier in his life is something that's baked into his presidency, baked into his candidacy. I don't think this hurt him. I just want to be sure that the legal perils are paid attention to.
COOPER: Michael Caputo, Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Just ahead tonight, we're going to return to the Texas border with Mexico. See how one local sheriff is reacting to President Trump's plan to have National Guard troops help with border security.
COOPER: During his brief chat with reporters Aboard Air Force One today, President Trump said he thinks between 2 and 4,000 National Guard troops will be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border. There were zero details so far about when and where, our Gary Tuchman is along the boarder tonight in Texas. He spent the day with a local sheriff who is not in belief happy with the plan to send National Guard troops there. [21:40:14] So Gary, talk about where you are and why the unease by this sheriff about this troops?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is Eagle Pass, Texas. This is Navarro County behind me, the Rio Grand -- behind the Rio Grand, the nation of Mexico.
And you're right. There are many people here who are very unhappy including the sheriff. He doesn't think it's necessary to have national guardsmen here. And he's also concerned it could be harmful, warm that in the second, first of all, let's talk this plan, very sketchy so far, you just said it, President Trump says he wants between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard troops deployed. But it's not clear, what dates they will come from. Where in the border they will deploy and when this will all happen.
There's history for this in 2006, President George W. Bush deployed 6000 National Guard troops and then in 2010, Barack Obama 1200 National Guard troops. So it has happened before.
But here is what people we talked to in this county said today, many of the residents, the ranchers, the sheriff, they acknowledge the problem is still bad. There are people coming cross this river, a lot of drugs coming across river. It's nothing like it was 10 years ago when President Bush sent out the 6,000 troops. Then you would commonly see 20, 30, 40 up to 100 people at a time coming across the river.
Law enforcement today said it's very rare that they see that. And there's also this concern, because in 1997 when troops were also put along the border, an 18-year-old Texas high schooler was shot and killed by a U.S. marine who mistook him for an armed illegal immigrant. And the sheriff is worried about that possibility if troops come back again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM SCHMERBER, SHERIFF, MAVERICK COUNTY, TEXAS: I'm afraid of that happening here. That some soldier getting nervous with a weapon and seeing somebody, one of my constituents walking close to the border and thinking that he's going to be danger to a soldier and might just fire and shoot him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: So we asked the sheriff, you're the top law enforcement official in the county, have you heard from the White House? Have you heard from the governor's office in Austin? Anything at all about this plan? And the sheriff is telling us, I've heard absolutely zip, and for nothing.
And then, I asked him, do you anticipate hearing anything because you would assume that they want to coordinate plans with you. And he goes no, I don't anticipate here on anything. If they asked me what I thought, the first thing I would tell them is, it's waste of money. Give us the money so we can hire more people. And the Sheriff's Department, give the border patrol money so they can hire more people, give us both money so we can have more technology and more equipment. He doesn't think they need troops here in this county. Anderson.
COOPER: And Gary, just to be fair and inform our viewers, he is a democratic sheriff in largely democratic area, correct?
TUCHMAN: And that's a very important point, Anderson, here in the State of Texas most of the border counties are heavily democratic. And there's a lot of bugs here. That's I'm covering my ear (ph). But back during the 2016 election, Donald Trump only got 20 percent of the vote here in Texas. And this is a very red state. So yes, he is a democratic sheriff in a largely democratic county, and he does believe, that's one of the reasons he's not hearing anything at this point.
COOPER: We talked to a former sheriff from Arizona in our last hour, who had a different point of view. We like to get all different sides on 360. Gary, thanks very much.
The caravan of Central American migrants, heading towards the U.S. border have reached the city of Pueblo, Mexico. The group scheduled to stay there for several days before heading off again, this time to Mexico City. CNN Leyla Santiago is with the group, has a look at the journey so far.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are women, children, men, families. This is the caravan President Trump calls dangerous.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She said, they're not armed they only have the very basics.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Karen Gallo joined the group in southern Mexico.
SANTIAGO (on camera): They left Honduras 20 days ago. And the entire family is traveling together. This is mom, dad, one of the kids and there is another kid that has made the journey as well. They're heading to the United States.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): They never expected to catch the attention of President Trump but that's exactly what the group did when about 1200 gathered in southern Mexico nearly two weeks ago for an annual pilgrimage that's been organized for more than five years.
Lillian Mejia is from El Salvador. She's a mom. She left two children there.
(Speaking In Foreign Language)
SANTIAGO (on camera): She says there's no work in El Salvador and there's also a lot of gang violence that's why she left. SANTIAGO (voice-over): Only clothes and shoes in her back pack as she heads to the United States hoping to find a job to send money back to her children, to help them escape poverty and violence.
El Salvador and Honduras have murder rates that are among the highest in the world.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO (on camera): She has this piece of paper that says if she can be here for 30 days. She doesn't know if 30 days is enough to get to the U.S. but she says, (INAUDIBLE). She is like we will fight to get there.
[21:45:07] SANTIAGO (voice-over): The Mexican government has been in touch with the caravan. Even giving some that 30-day permission to stay in the country without having to worry about deportation. President Trump insists the caravan is breaking up.
SANTIAGO (on camera): So you can see this is a little bit of a smaller group that has just arrived here into Puebla, not a thousands as originally had gathered in the southern part of Mexico.
But this is not necessary, the Trump effect. This is what happens every year during this annual pilgrimage. That's not to Trump effect, they always kind of diminish in numbers. What has changed since President Trump now a new plan to put the National Guard on the U.S.- Mexico border because President Trump says this is a dangerous caravan.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: So this gentleman is saying that -- he is saying they are not dangerous. He said, they're not thieves, they don't kill people. They're not gang members, he says. These are families and workers.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): For now, they'll stay in district where the priest make sure everyone has food and shelter before they even arrive much of the day was spent preparing for them. The community bought food, water and even books. But this is temporary.
After a few days here they head to Mexico City where organizers say about 200 will continue onto the U.S.-Mexico border.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO (on camera): She says she doesn't know what will happen but if she finds herself with the National Guard, she may have to wait but with God's help she says, she'll get there OK.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): They'll make it to the U.S., they say, not to endanger anyone, rather in search for a better life.
COOPER: Leyla, I mean you're getting mixed messages from the organization. What are you seeing right now?
SANTIAGO: Well organizers themselves are admitting that they are overwhelmed. And so what you hear from some organizers, not what you hear from other, some are saying they are putting things on hold. Kind of delaying things a little bit until they figure out what to do next and others say game on. They are going to continue north and this caravan continues.
I will tell you here there's still very much a community, a community really on wheels. Take a look behind me. This is the shelter where they are. And they have a mobile unit from the health department. They have immigration officials that are here to answer questions and help people.
And then inside this shelter it's also kind of like another village. I mean, there's someone who is cooking. There's someone who is cleaning, there's someone who is moving things around. So really what I'm seeing is that whether or not organizers are on the same page, the people of central America that started with this caravan that are making a statement that say they are going to head north are still under the same impression.
COOPER: All right. Leyla Santiago, I appreciate it. Thanks.
Coming up, new details about how the White House Intelligence Committees, Russia investigation went off the rails including a big F bomb during former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's testimony.
[21:52:27] COOPER: Well, the White House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation went on for a year and yield a plenty of drama but no clear answers, instead resulting in competing partisan reports. Tonight, we have new information about how the investigation went off the rails including an incident during Corey Lewandowski's testimony, the former Trump campaign manger. He was the final witness in the investigation. He didn't leave any doubt that he was frustrated with some of the questions he was being asked.
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins me.
COOPER: So Manu, what did Lewandowski say to the House Intelligence Committee?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, he had come to the committee twice. You recall that the first time that he came he would not answer a number of questions about topics that occurred after he left the Trump campaign in June 2016. He said at the time, well, I'm not prepared to answer those questions. So the Democrats insisted on him coming back.
So the second time he came back, Anderson, was in March. Last month when he was asked a range of questions that he refused to answer and it got rather heated. We're told by four sources with direct knowledge of exactly what happened that Lewandowski swore the democratic members of the committee repeatedly saying I'm not going to answer your F'ing question but he actually used the swear word, catching members by surprise. And probably some sharp push back by democratic members on the committee.
Now Republicans came out of that hearing defending Lewandowski, not pushing back at him at all saying he had done all that he needed to do to answer the democratic questions and he gave us a statement initially saying that did not dispute using any of the foul language and saying the Democrats just did not understand his plain English way of speaking.
But, Anderson, after our story came out earlier to night, Lewandowski gave me a call and he said there was the Democrats who first used foul language and he felt the need to respond in kind. He called their language appalling and he said he had never heard of such language being used before. And I asked him what's that language and he wouldn't say. So he couldn't recall. He also would not say which democratic members allegedly made those remarks, Anderson.
COOPER: Do we know what exactly Lewandowski would not discuss with the committee?
RAJU: Well, afterwards Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the committee said there were a range of topics that Lewandowski could shed light on but refused to do so including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, what he knew about that. His conversation with Trump after he became President and also that misleading response at the White House pushed after it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr. met with the Russians in Trump Tower during the campaign season.
[21:55:02] They would not discuss those topics among others. That's what prompted the frustration from Democrats on the committee.
COOPER: Where does this committee's investigation stand at this point? I mean, a report still hasn't come out.
RAJU: Yes. That's right. The Republicans have drafted a report but it has not been released publicly. We have top lines of that. And they concluded that the Republicans did that there was no evidence to support the notion that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Democrats say that this is not -- does not match up with the evidence that they're seeing and they also said that the Republicans did not actually investigate a number of areas that could shed more light on this area and this matter saying that they actually stifled the investigation.
So right now the intelligence community is determining what to declassify of the Republican report. In the meantime, Anderson, Democrats are putting together their own report and it really just shows the American public at the moment really nowhere closer to knowing exactly what happened in the 2016 elections. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Manu Raju, thanks. I appreciate it.
RAJU: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: More news ahead. We'll be right back.
[22:00:00] COOPER: That's all the time we have. Thanks so much for watching. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now. See you tomorrow.