Return to Transcripts main page


Sources: FBI Raid Sought Trump's Communications with His Lawyer Michael Cohen Regarding "Access Hollywood" Tape; Bipartisan Group of Senators Trying To Protect Mueller's Job; President Trump Taunts Russia over Syria: Missiles "Will Be Coming." Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired April 11, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

It is a very busy night, though frankly, when is it not a busy night these days? Capping off a day that saw the president all but promise to bomb Syria, as he continued to tweet his outrage over the investigation into his campaign and the raid on his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

And it's there we begin, with breaking news about what else FBI agents were looking for when they searched the home, the office and the hotel room of Mr. Cohen. It wasn't just information about payments to a former porn star, magazine company's deal with a playboy model. It wasn't just allegedly about bank records. It was also communications between Cohen and his client, Donald Trump, about that "Access Hollywood" tape that threatened to derail the president's campaign.

Now, remember, almost immediately after the tape was released, WikiLeaks published the first batch of material damaging to Hillary Clinton.

CNN's Jim Acosta has the story, joins us now from the White House.

So, what are you learning about -- more about Monday's raid?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we've confirmed that FBI agents who raided the home, office and hotel of Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, sought communications that Mr. Trump had with Cohen and others regarding the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that you just mentioned, that captured the president making lewd remarks about women a month before the election.

Now, according to sources familiar with the matter, the warrant's specific reference to the president is the first direct known mention of the president in a search warrant and appeared in connection with "Access Hollywood." So, this is obviously, you know, this is obviously a story that a lot of people thought would not come back to haunt the president, meaning the "Access Hollywood" tape, but it appears to have merged with this Mueller investigation in ways that the White House is not very happy about.

COOPER: Do we know why they would have been interested in this information? Or why they're looking for information about the tape or the attempts to keep it from coming out? ACOSTA: Well, one of the sources that we talked to said the warrant

also referenced an investigation into wire fraud and bank fraud, CNN previously reported that FBI agents removed Cohen's computer, cell phone, business files, financial documents. That's according to our sources.

And this search warrant also saw communications between then-candidate Trump and his associates regarding efforts to prevent disclosure of the tape. That's according to our sources. And so, all of this is obviously of great interest to the Mueller team.

Now, in addition to that, Anderson, investigators wanted records, communications concerning over potential negative information about then candidate Trump that the campaign would have wanted to contain obviously ahead of the election. Anderson, I remember covering that election, as you know, all too well. This was a bombshell, and the sources that we're talking to said that this warrant was not specific about what this additional information might be.

But obviously, the Mueller team wants to get to the bottom of all of this. And when you talk to White House sources, they're obviously not pleased about this. They see this as a continuation of a fishing expedition that is not really in line with the original mandate for the Mueller probe. It's why, for example, the president is not -- is apparently re-evaluating this idea of sitting down with Mueller's investigators.

COOPER: So, CNN also has new reporting on John Kelly, the chief of staff, and his feelings on what he's seeing in the White House.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. Our White House team is reporting that John Kelly was essentially coming into this week hoping that things were going to calm down after some chaotic weeks over here at the White House. That obviously has not been the case. Obviously, the raid on the office of Michael Cohen changed much of that, and then, of course, there's this decision about whether or not to launch air strikes on Syria.

The president indicated this morning in that tweet, which really shocked almost all of Washington, that the president would forecast or telegraph an upcoming missile strike on Syria. But that is obviously what he did.

Now, the White House tried to tamp down on that later on in the day with Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, saying that the president is still reviewing all of his options, essentially walking back the president's tweet. But make no mistake, John Kelly was expecting things to be quieter this week. He's not getting that -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate that.

CNN Political Analyst, Maggie Haberman broke the story first in the pages of "New York Times". She joins us now.

So, Maggie, just explain what you learned about this raid and the "Access Hollywood" tape.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Specifically on the "Access Hollywood" piece, it is one of the -- part of a bunch of categories essentially in what has been described to me by several sources as a lengthy search warrant. And in terms of the "Access Hollywood" component, it's looking for communications that Cohen may have had, I think either with the president or just on his own around the "Access Hollywood" tape, as well as any other negative information that could have existed about the president, negative news stories, negative publicity around the president.

[20:05:01] So, it's a pretty broad scope, but gets very specific around "Access Hollywood." It's not clear what role if any Cohen would have had about "Access Hollywood." What we do know is that was the same day the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta's e-mails, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, that had been hacked, went online and sort of engulfed the campaign.

Michael Cohen was also one of the only defenders of the president, then candidate, on television when the "Access Hollywood" tape broke. But it is the piece of this that has said a number of people close to this case very puzzled as to what exactly they are searching for.

COOPER: Maggie, after the raid first happened on Monday, your sources told you that on Tuesday the president's mood was, quote, brooding and fearful. Do you have any insight on how he's handling this latest revelation that the raid was at least in part communications about the "Access Hollywood" tape?

HABERMAN: Not happily, you know? I mean, the "Access Hollywood" tape, as you know, was deeply embarrassing to him and he is not somebody who gets particularly embarrassed by these things, but he was there.

It has confirmed all of this, but that corner in particular, as I understand it, has sort of confirmed his belief, A, both he and Michael Cohen are said to believe that, you know, while this is a Southern District of New York warrant, that this is all sort of Robert Mueller's hidden hand. It was according to Cohen's lawyer, done at least in part on a referral from Mueller. And this sort of confirms what the president had had in his mind, this is how the president sees it, that Mueller is just out to get him this entire time. This is just evidence of that.

There are a lot of people close to the president, also at least one member of Congress on Twitter, saying they can't understand what this would have to do with anything, the topic of "Access Hollywood" infuriates and touches a real nerve for the president and he's now going to see cable news chyrons about it all day today, again tomorrow. It's not going to help.

COOPER: Maggie, you reported yesterday that the president wanted to fire Mueller back in December after previously reporting he also wanted to fire him back in June, but Don McGahn, the White House counsel, stopped him, or threatened to resign. Do you have any indication of where he is now on the idea of firing Mueller? HABERMAN: Everyone I talk to says that he knows that he should not

fire Mueller and that it is a very, very dangerous proposition. The question of what happens to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, comes up more frequently, but at the moment, that also seems to be something that he recognizes would be problematic. But look, he is often musing about firing any number of these people. Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, Mueller, you know, the investigation should be, quote/unquote, shut down, is something that he has said on a near daily basis for weeks, if not months.

And most of his advisers have come to dismiss these instances of, that's just how he talks. Sometimes it has gone further than that, and in the case that we wrote about from last summer, it certainly did. The case in December, he was extremely angry and had to be talked off of it.

You know, it -- it's easy to dismiss the idea that he might do any of these things, except there was one time he did pull the trigger, and that was James Comey.


HABERMAN: Now, that has not had great results for him, clearly, and he might see that, but it's why you can't just dismiss this as that's just him musing.

COOPER: And, Maggie, on a morning that the president tweeted that Russia should, quote, get ready, because missiles will be coming, which Jim Acosta mentioned, he also tweeted, quote, much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the fake and corrupt Russia investigation, headed up by all the Democrat loyalists or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all, except Rosenstein, who signed FISA and Comey letter, no collusion, so they go crazy.

I mean, just, technically speaking, these are not all Democrats. These are, in fact, I believe all Republicans.

HABERMAN: Right. All, if not most. It's also, you know, it's not all fake. The intelligence community believes that Russia was behind efforts to influence the 2016 election, in the hopes of hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump.

There are many other reasons why there's, quote/unquote, bad blood, that are geopolitical in nature. When the president says something like that, you know, it is -- it is essentially the kind of thing that would only appeal to a couple of people, but among them -- it's hard for him, on the one hand, criticize Russia in the context of Syria, as he did in other tweets, and then, say, oh, but this collusion thing is all a fake.

The person who seems to be suggesting this is all a hoax is the leader of the country and the leader of the Republican Party. Other people are not. His own party members don't agree with him.

COOPER: Yes. HABERMAN: He just sees himself as interchangeable with the

institution he serves and has been unable to just say that, you know, in a -- efforts to influence the election in 2016 was an affront to democracy, it's not just something he has been able to do.

COOPER: It's interesting, because he said that the raid that happened on Monday was basically an attack on America, in very stark terms.

Just finally, when Hope Hicks left, the White House communications director, you said in effect that things could get out of control without her there.

[20:l0:06] Do you believe that's what we're seeing here?

HABERMAN: I -- so, I mean, I think that's part of it. I think that Hope Hicks was part of a group of people and it was never just one person, but there were a number of people who have worked in concert to try to calm him down, some of the members still in the White House, some of them left the White House. Hope Hicks is not the only person. And that has, I think, delayed him at certain points. They have helped get him off the ledge when he's talked about, you know, shutting down the investigation or firing this one or that one.

So, that is part of it, but I got to say, a raid by the FBI on his personal lawyer, I think if there were 1,000 Hope Hicks there, I'm not really sure that would calm him down.

COOPER: Maggie Haberman, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Last night, the president met with Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz. Professor Dershowitz was at the White House again today, did not meet with the president. Both meetings were prescheduled, according to the professor, regarding the Middle East. He's written at least six books on the Middle East, as well as more recently "Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy."

Professor Dershowitz joins us, so is Norman Eisen who advised President Obama on ethics, and before that, served as ambassador to the Czech Republic and as a former student I just learned of Professor Dershowitz.


COOPER: There's a lot of your former students sprinkled all throughout the world.

DERSHOWITZ: And they're all on the other side of me.

COOPER: First of all, I just got to ask you, did any aspect of the Mueller investigation come up in your dinner with --

DERSHOWITZ: I can't describe what went on in my dinner. I had a dinner with the president. I met with many members of the staff. The subject of all the meetings were around the Middle East, but I'm not free to disclose what went on.


DERSHOWITZ: But let me tell you about the "Hollywood Access" tape because I have a theory and I think it's correct. Remember, that the "Hollywood Access" was illegally recorded. It was recorded in California, which is a two-party consent state.

COOPER: But if you're wearing microphones.

DERSHOWITZ: No, no, but they didn't know it was on. That was the question.

COOPER: But if you're wearing a microphone, you're telling me --

DERSHOWITZ: No, not under California law.

COOPER: Really?

DERSHOWITZ: If you don't know that the mike is on, after you've left, if I leave here tonight, New York is a one party. But if I leave here tonight and go to the bathroom and the microphone stays on and I talk as, remember that happened in a situation with a guy, that murderer guy, Durst, whatever his name was, it's at least a question. So, I can easily imagine --

COOPER: You're in the commercial break, we were all talking --

DERSHOWITZ: That's very different. Remember, he left, they were leaving, all I'm saying is, it's arguable.


DERSHOWITZ: I can imagine the following conversation. Trump calls his lawyer, Cohen, says, stop this tape, it's illegal, I didn't consent to it. I didn't know the microphone was on. Stop it. Use all legal means.

Now, the government then gets that communication. They put it through a taint team. What do they do? What is a taint team? It sounds so benign.

A taint team is, other government agents, FBI agents or assistant United States attorneys, they go through the material, they say, ah, this is lawyer/client privilege, there's no exception, or this is doctor/patient privilege, this is priest-penitent privilege, or this is a conversation between a man and his wife, a spouse. I'm going to read it, but I'm not going to let the prosecution use it.

Would any American citizen be happy to have his or her private communications read by an FBI agent on the assurance, merely, that it wouldn't be used against --

COOPER: You're saying it should be read by a judge not by an FBI agent.

DERSHOWITZ: First of all, it shouldn't be read by anybody.

COOPER: Wait a minute, OK, Ambassador Eisen, I mean, if we're talking hypotheticals here, that's one hypothetical, what the president might have 2said to Michael Cohen. Another hypothetical is, he calls up Cohen, says, you know what, call our good friends at WikiLeaks, tell them to dump all that stuff because this tape just got released.

DERSHOWITZ: That wouldn't be a crime either. That wouldn't be a crime, either.

COOPER: That's the president.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes, Mr. President. Sorry.

COOPER: Wouldn't be a crime, but that's another hypothetical. You're saying that wouldn't be a crime.

DERSHOWITZ: That wouldn't be a crime, calling WikiLeaks and saying, you've already gotten material, leak it.

COOPER: Wouldn't it be an example of potential coordination?

NORMAN EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Anderson, you just heard the world's smallest violin playing for Alan's argument. Why? We can have confidence that this seizure of records was reviewed at the Justice Department, at the staff level, then by Rod Rosenstein. Then it was sent over to the U.S. attorney's office and reviewed again by the public corruption unit here. It could be that Alan --

COOPER: And a judge would have signed off on the search warrant.

EISEN: It could be -- and you have to get judicial permission. But the review before the judge made a probable cause finding is much more searching.

And whatever it is, it's going to be scrutinized, it's going to be the most scrutinized review in history. I think there is -- this is why I think, Alan, this is the flaw in your argument, I think that the prosecution has powerful reasons -- we don't know what they are, the timing questions certainly are substantial, but there's something else.

There's the history of Trump's paying hush money to women that he allegedly has had relationships with.

DERSHOWITZ: Perfectly legal.

[20:15:00] EISEN: And there are allegations that sometimes there have been threats against those women. And that may be what these prosecutors are looking at -- a pattern of illegal conduct.

COOPER: The bottom line is we don't know. We've just seen the tip of the iceberg.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me tell you what we do know. We do know that the search warrant allowed for the seizure of material that is confidential. In other words, nobody does a preliminary search and says, just seize material that is not covered by the privilege.

So, we know that they have material that's presumptively covered by the privilege. Then somebody reads that material --

COOPER: Right.

DERSHOWITZ: -- and says it's covered by the privilege, and says, oh, but I won't tell the prosecutor.

Let's assume, hypothetically, that they go and they find privileged material between the president and his lawyer, but it's embarrassing, seriously embarrassing. Do you think anybody believes that the FBI wouldn't leak that material if it's against the president of the United States? Do you think that's a sufficient safeguard to protect the right of every American not to have confidential material looked at by government officials?

COOPER: You've raised the objection there are other ways they could have gone about --

DERSHOWITZ: Of course, at least some of it.

COOPER: Right. But if they felt, if there was concern that this information might be destroyed, that Michael Cohen might be trying to get rid of information, isn't there a time essence here?

DERSHOWITZ: If there was evidence of that, but I don't think it was anything in the warrant that would suggest that there was probable cause to believe that there was immediate --

COOPER: Well, we don't know.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me ask all your listeners this question. If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, and they were investigating her with a special counsel, and they were going after the e-mails, and they were saying she destroyed computer this and that and the other thing and they went in and they raided her lawyer's office, the ACLU would be on this case, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers would be on this case and my former student would be on this case.

COOPER: Well, there's hypocrisy on all sides. Democrats would be against it, Republicans would --


DERSHOWITZ: Of course. At least some Republicans have now discovered civil liberties.

COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, I want you to respond to that.

EISEN: Alan, it's just not right. If any president of any party had committed the kinds of conduct that we've seen here --

DERSHOWITZ: You mean like --

EISEN: Let me finish. You interrupted me when I was in your class --

DERSHOWITZ: That was my job.

DERSHOWITZ: And you interrupted me when I was your -- working in your law practice and you're doing it now.

If any president had done the kinds of things that Donald Trump has done, raising the serious prospect that you may have -- you may have had obstruction of justice committed in the White House with the pattern around the Comey firing, this pattern of very disturbing possible campaign finance violations, did Donald Trump know that illegal -- possibly illegal contributions were being made to support his campaign --


EISEN: Let me finish. I'm almost done. I'm almost done. If any president had done that, I would be here saying that.

COOPER: OK. We've got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this discussion. We knew it would be good, so, we booked a lot of time for this.

Also later, more on the president and Russia, not the alleged campaign collusion, the confrontation which could heat up in a matter of hours. The big question, is Twitter the right place to send a message to Moscow on a military conflict? We'll be right back.


[20:21:53] COOPER: About the president, the Russia probe, his lawyer Michael Cohen, the breaking news surrounding the FBI raids on Cohen, actually getting search warrants against attorneys, exceeding rare obviously.

And as CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Preet Bharara told us last night, it's an extremely ominous development for anybody on the receiving end of one.


PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If I were still the United States attorney, no matter who the president was, and I was being asked to personally approve, as someone had to have been in the Southern District of New York, a search of someone's home and office, who was counsel to the president, I would want a lot more than the bare minimum proof of probable cause. And so, I predict, as we saw with Paul Manafort, that if they decide they have enough evidence to engage in a very aggressive move, that the likelihood that Michael Cohen is going to be charged is high.


COOPER: Back now with Professor Alan Dershowitz and Ambassador Norman Eisen.

Do you agree with that? That the likelihood --

DERSHOWITZ: I think it is. But the question is not the rights of the lawyer. Everybody is entitled to get a search warrant against a lawyer. Lawyers aren't above the law.

It's the rights of the client, that is, when you start taking the entire computer, all of the financial records, we know from reporting that it also includes conversations and --

COOPER: So, how can it be done then? I mean, if you're saying a taint team isn't the way to do it, it's not right for FBI agents to be doing this, you're saying, what, a judge should be the one?

DERSHOWITZ: If anybody's going to go through it, it should be a judge or a neutral monitor appointed by the court so that the least number of people possible, the most trusted people, actually read the lawyer/client material information.

COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, do you agree with him?

EISEN: Well, first of all, in order to do these searches, Anderson, the subpoenas need to be very narrowly tailored, so, you're not sweeping everything in.

I have a different view of the taint teams. You know, I had cases in which the taint teams worked. I also supervised an FBI office when I served as ambassador, and I can tell you, that those agents were honorable, I would trust them with my life, and I believe if they have instructions not to leak, they will not leak.

COOPER: Professor --

DERSHOWITZ: I got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. No leaks, oh, my god, a leak? It sounds like the scene from "Casablanca."

Leaking is pervasive. The head of the FBI, James Comey, leaked information and laundered it through a Columbia professor. That's the head of the FBI, supposed to be stopping leaks.

What kind of a message does that send to the FBI? What it says is, leaking is OK. Leaking is pervasive in this government.

COOPER: You have said that it would be a mistake for the president to fire Mueller. What about Rod Rosenstein?

DERSHOWITZ: Rod Rosenstein should be recused. He cannot be both a witness and a prosecutor in the same case.

COOPER: He's a witness because he was involved in the Comey firing?

DERSHOWITZ: Involved -- he wrote the memo. If you are Trump's lawyer, the first person you call as a witness is Rod Rosenstein. You wrote the memo.

Did you obstruct justice? Did you think this was an obstruction of justice?

COOPER: Would it be a mistake in your opinion, though, for the president to replace Rod Rosenstein with somebody who is going to try to basically get rid of Mueller?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, that's a tactical decision.

[20:25:01] I don't think Rosenstein, whoever replaced him, would try to get rid of Mueller, but I think Rosenstein's status in the case raises very deep questions. Let's assume he doesn't get recused and he then testifies. His lawyers will then come back and say, if he's now recused because he's testified, we have to go back and see if he tainted anything else early on in the case.

It's a mistake for the government to keep Rod Rosenstein on the case.

By the way, I want to take the opportunity to apology to Norm, as you know when you were my student, when I interrupted a student, it was the highest praise. It was a statement, saying, I get your point, now let's move on. So, when I interrupt you, it's praise.

EISEN: Now I'm going to interrupt you by praising you by disagree.

First of all, it's not a tactical question when we're talking about the firing of Rod Rosenstein on Robert Mueller.

DERSHOWITZ: They don't want to fire him.

EISEN: It's a profound -- but it's not a tactical question. It's the most profound attack on our rule of law what the president does every day.

Number two, it is not correct, Alan. I've done these government conflicts, including sitting in the White House. It is not correct that a prosecutor needs to be recused at this stage of the case because he's a possible witness. You tell me one time in the thousands of cases that you have done, when you have knocked out a prosecutor pre-trial before even an indictment of the subject or target. Name one example.

DERSHOWITZ: First of all, you want to ask yourself if you're a lawyer whether it's tactically advisable to do so, but you are actually looking in this camera and telling me it is OK for the same person to be investigating, prosecuting the case, when he knows he's going to be the central witness in the case itself. Does that really pass the smell test?

COOPER: Quick answer, and we have to go.

EISEN: He -- we do not yet know he's going to be the central witness.

DERSHOWITZ: Of course we do.

EISEN: We do not know it, and the rules -- there are rules on this, and the rules do not require it. This is more presidential mischief being recycled out of your dinner. COOPER: The rules require common sense and common sense says you

cannot prosecute and you cannot be a witness in the same case.

COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, former student, Ambassador Norm Eisen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, the action on Capitol Hill today to try and limit President Trump's ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. I'll talk to one of the sponsors of that bill, Democratic Senator Cory Booker, next.


[20:30:50] COOPER: Well, with President Trump reportedly fuming over the raids and his personal attorney Michael Cohen and the report that the President Discuss firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller this past December. Now a bipartisan group of senators are working together to try to protect Mueller in any future special counsel.

Today they rolled out a new consolidated version of some earlier proposed legislation that would do just that. The special counsel independence and integrity act as it's called would ensure that Mueller or any special counsel can only be fired by "good cause" by senior Justice Department official.

It would also require a ten-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing. Democratic Senator Cory Booker is one of the sponsors of the bill. I talked to him earlier tonight.


COOPER: Senator Booker, I am wondering why you and your fellow senators decided to introduce legislation today. Obviously you got to believe there's urgency to protect Special Counsel Mueller right now?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, first of all, I want to be clear, I introduced this legislation with Lindsey Graham last year. We had a hearing about this.


BOOKER: Legislation already. So there has been a lot of movement on the legislation. But yes, you are right, Anderson, there is -- there's seems to be a renewed sense of urgency and vigor to move this forward. And I'm hopeful that we are going to get this into our committee and out of our committee and God willing perhaps even to the Senate floor for a vote.

COOPER: We obviously learned today that during the FBI raid on Michael Cohen's home and the office that have tell the FBI sought communications between then candidate Trump and Cohen about that "Access Hollywood" tape. I'm wondering what you make of that and does the President's reaction to that raid add to the concerns about Mueller?

BOOKER: Yes. First of all, we have a constitutional crisis in the making should we ever have between now and the future of history have a President who he himself or his associates are under investigation. In this case, we have seen his associates be indicted, have still retained the power without good cause to fire or order the firing of special counsel.

And if we can't figure out a way to check that power, have an appreciate check and balance we could really make for a serious constitutional crisis. So there's a lot going on with this investigation. I am one of those folks who thinks let Mueller do his work. I know there is a lot of speculation but that you see a progression of work and a thorough investigation going on.

But I just want to make sure, I think that we in Congress, I am grateful that there are Republicans who are very prudent, sensible, sober piece of legislation. I understand that we should just make sure that we avoid what we saw in the past, which was Saturday night massacre type of situation.

COOPER: Well, you do have Republican cosponsors on the bill, but CNN is reporting that most Republicans oppose it, including Mitch McConnell, also Majority Whip John Cornyn, to say nothing obviously about -- even if it did pass, the likelihood of the president actually signing?

BOOKER: Yes. But you know, we're seeing circumstances change daily. I think one of the reasons why this bill is getting some momentum now and potentially will get a mark up in the judiciary committee is because you are starting to see a President saying things that are not only sort of threatening the process but seemingly potentially recklessly pushing us towards a constitutional crisis, which is something the Republicans and democrats want to avoid.

COOPER: If the President did fire say, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, would that in your opinion a constitutional crisis?

BOOKER: I think if he fired Rosenstein, you have heard the words of Republicans themselves say very dramatic things about what that would mean for Donald Trump's presidency. But again, if he fire Rosenstein and installed somebody who then ordered to fire Mueller, when you have seen what is going on, you have seen indictments, you saw one person being sentenced who pled guilty. For him to interrupt an investigation like that, I think you would bring about a moment in our country where you would really have a crisis in our nation.

COOPER: This tweet by the President this morning saying that much of the bad blood with Russia is caused, what he said as the fake and corrupt Russia investigation headed by Democrat loyalist. Does that make any sense to you at all? I mean, the idea that first of all, the majority of the people here we are talking about are Republicans.

[20:35:00] BOOKER: Yes. I mean, this is the thing that really frustrates me as -- you know, we have seen an investigation led by a Republican. Around an issue that we all have to keep reminding ourselves, I hope that this is something about the safety, the security and the strength of our democracy. Our Eastern European allies, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, all understand as well as other European nations that we are under a cyber war by Russia. When Putin is not met by power, when he's not shown American force pushing him back, he will only be emboldened in what he is trying to do to our democracy.

And it's not just our election systems, its critical infrastructure. We are in a cyber contest with the Russians who are on and on. To have a President of the United States not appreciate, not recognize the danger and the threat and be doing things that are at the very least trying to create an atmosphere that undermines an ongoing investigation. This is very problematic and I think it's -- in many ways this is malpractice on a President whose first concern should be protecting the American people.

COOPER: Senator Booker, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BOOKER: Thank you.


COOPER: Coming up next, more on the Stormy Daniels' documents that the FBI agents were seeking in the raid of the President's personal attorney and now we're learning the warrant also included documents related to the Access Hollywood tape. Stormy Daniels' attorney joins us next.


[20:40:00] COOPER: As first reported by "The New York Times," the infamous Access Hollywood tape continues to loom over Washington. This time inform the raid on the President's personal attorney. Sources telling CNN that the FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel were looking in part for communications between him and the President about the tape, which came out about a month before the election and shows the now President bragging obviously about sexual assault, the tape does.

And the warrant also included documents related to the $130,000 pay off of Stormy Daniels. Her attorney Michael Avenatti joins me now.

Obviously -- I mean, you don't have any inside knowledge on this Access Hollywood tape if in fact this is part of the warrant as reported by us and the New York Times. But just in general, now that it has been two days since this raid, how do you see this raid? Obviously, it's bad news for Michael Cohen, but what do you -- to you, what stands out about it?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Anderson, I think this entire raid is centered on this $130,000 payment. And what the President knew and when he knew it and what Michael Cohen did in connection with the $130,000 payment.

COOPER: Do you think that is front and center?

AVENATTI: I absolutely -- look, I can't get into the details, but I know it is front and center and I think it is going to be a clean case ultimately. And it is going to be far easier to prove than Russian collusion.

COOPER: But if the President did know about it, what is the crime there?

AVENATTI: Well, first of all, I think it is highly unlikely that he did not know about it. You know, a lot of people have said that if the President did not arrange reimbursement, then he is basically, Scott free that there is no issue. I completely disagree. If it can be shown that the President knew that Michael Cohen paid this money and that he conspired with Michael Cohen or agreed with Michael Cohen that it was going to be paid in such a way to not report it pursuing to campaign finance requirement that would be a felony. That would be a conspiracy potentially between --

COOPER: Because a lot of people have pointed to the idea that this was all about campaign finances and saying, well, look that's not such a big deal. You say it's a felony? I mean so that -- you're saying it is a big deal?

AVENATTI: No. There's no question it is a big deal. I have seen panelist on various news programs over the last 48 hours say, oh you know this campaign finance requirement is big deal, I mean we are talking about felonies.

COOPER: But oftentimes campaign finance violations are just referred to -- or basically end up being a fine?

AVENATTI: Al Capone did not go down for murder, Anderson. Al Capone went down for tax evasion and this could very easily be a very similar situation. This campaign finance violations if they occurred I believe they did. If they occurred, they are easily proven. It would only require potentially Michael Cohen rolling over on the President.

And this is something I'd been saying for a couple of weeks now. I think that that is the target of these raids. That is the target of this investigation. I don't know what to make of this "Access Hollywood" tape, to the best of my knowledge, there's been no reporting that suggests, or no facts to suggests that there was any change of money or any money in connection with this "Access Hollywood" tape. The only focus as it relates to the "Access Hollywood" tape could be acts of thuggery, acts of intimidation to the extent that Michael Cohen knew about this or the President knew about this and the intent to strong-arm or intimidate people to keep that from coming to light. That is really the only aspect relating to the "Access Hollywood."

COOPER: A couple days ago, you talked about releasing a -- I don't know, what do you call it? An identification by Stormy Daniels, you had a sketch artist do of this -- the person that she says threatened her in 2011 in Parkland in Las Vegas. You intimated the other day that you weren't going to do that, given the raid and things have changed, where are you on that now?

AVENATTI: Well, as you know when you interviewed her for 60 minutes, she described in detail this very serious threat back in 2011. Subsequent to that, my client sat down with Lois Gibson, who is a foremost forensic artist in the world, forensic sketch was produced. We were on the verge of releasing that together with details concerning a reward. We were asked to delay that. This is a very dynamic situation.

COOPER: Can you say who you asked by?

AVENATTI: I am not at liberty to discuss that. But what I will say is, this is a very dynamic situation. A lot has happened in the last 48 hours. And, Anderson, I will tell you these raids that occurred on Monday, they're not the last raids. I know that for fact that there are other raids that are contemplated. I anticipate them coming in within the next week.

COOPER: When you say you know that for a fact, I mean the only way you would know that for a fact, I know you said that you had been contacted and Stormy Daniels is cooperating with officials from the Mueller investigation. Are you saying you have learned that from people you have?

AVENATTI: I am not going to get into details as to where I learned that. But look, I think our track record over the last five weeks relating to what I predicted, what we predicted is pretty damn good. And I stand behind it.

COOPER: So you're saying more raids to come?

AVENATTI: I think we have only scratched the surface. I have the utmost competence. And the U.S. attorneys in the southern district of New York office, they are the best and the brightest in the nation, they are going to get to the bottom of this. We're going to cooperating in connection with that. But there is a lot of information that is going to come down the pike if you will. And I will tell you this, if I was the President, I would not be sleeping well at night.

[20:45:17] COOPER: Michael Avenatti. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

AVENATTI: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, a closer look at the President's Twitter warning saying, get ready Russia because "nice news, smart missiles are coming to Syria" what the White House said when asked for a clarification next.


COOPER: As we reported earlier in the program, the President has threatened military action on Twitter in response to the aftermath of the suspected chemical attack in Syria. The President tweeted this early this morning. "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming nice and new and smart. You shouldn't be partners with a gas killing animal who kills his people and enjoys it." [20:50:00] At the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about what that tweet means.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're maintaining that we have a number of options and all of those options are still on the table. Final decisions haven't been made yet on that front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So does it mean anything at all? What does it mean?

SANDERS: It certainly means -- I think, there's a lot there that you can read from. But at the same time, the president has a number of options at his disposal. And all of those options remain on the table and we're continuing to look at each one of them.


COOPER: All options may be on the table, but the tweet said, missiles, quote, will be coming, which certainly qualifies as telegraphing military action, something that Mr. Trump criticized President Obama for repeatedly and something both Sarah Sanders and the president have said over and over and over he would never ever, ever, do.


TRUMP: I don't want to tell the enemy how I am thinking. Does that make sense? Surprise. Remember, they used to call it the element of surprise.

I keep saying, whatever happened to the element of surprise. You know, I've been saying, the element of surprise.

We're too predictable. We need to be unpredictable. We have to be unpredictable.

We want to be unpredictable, folks. We want to be unpredictable.

And we have a president that gets up and he says, we will attack them here. We're going to leave here, we're going to -- this guy gets up and tells everything we're ever going to do. Why can't he just keep his mouth shut? Why would he announce this?

We have to be unpredictable, folks. I'm not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don't talk about military response.

I don't want to be one of these guys that say, yes, here's what we're going to do. I don't have to do that. You know why, because they shouldn't know.


COOPER: They shouldn't know. He's not going to talk about it.

Joining us now is Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," and CNN National Security Commentator and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mike Rogers.

Fareed -- I mean, again, we just saw the president time and time again saying, not going to telegraph. The only -- I mean, he is surprising people in that -- he's surprising the White House staff by sending out this tweet, it seems.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: You know, the thing that you're struck by about Trump is that he seems often surprised to face the constraints and challenges that every president has faced. Because I think he hasn't thought about it.

The reason that Barack Obama or George Bush or Bill Clinton faced this problem was you're leading the world, something happens, people expect to hear from the American president. They want to understand what is your reaction to it?

And in giving your reaction, you are rallying the troops, the entire free world. You're telling the country, this is a Democratic country. So you do have to kind of let people in on what's your reaction, what your strategy is.

That's why it's not because people are so stupid that they haven't thought about the fact, oh, there would be an element of surprise. You know, you have to balance this. And I think what's happening in a strange way is, Trump realizes the world is looking at him. And is wondering what he's saying.

And so, I don't thwart him for having, you know -- you have to signal in some way, are you going to respond to this? React to this? Is that -- the mistake, of course, was all of that criticism that he was heaping, piling on Barack Obama, which really misunderstood the nature of the presidency.

Of course, the president has to have some reaction when these things happen. They could have had a -- frankly, he could have had a more guarded reaction, the kind that Obama or Bush would have had, which gives you more options.

As you pointed out, Anderson, he actually -- whatever he's said -- his press secretary says, he doesn't have any option at this point. He has said he's going to respond.

COOPER: Right, and with smart weapons.

Chairman Rogers, Defense Secretary Mattis said today that the U.S. and key allies are still working on options to respond and have not even definitively concluded who is behind the attacks. How risky is it, then, for the president to make a statement like that? Or was it the right thing for him to do?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Listen, I was with Trump when he said, we shouldn't telegraph what we're doing tactically. And he certainly didn't do that in his tweet. And what I also found a little disturbing, this is why you don't have this kind of diplomacy over a short character tweet, is that the Russians could certainly misinterpret this. He deliberately poked the Russians in what we think was an Assad regime attack using chemical weapons.

You know, why would you enrage the Russians? The best way to do that if you really want to poke him is, have the attack, take care of their ability to deliver nuclear -- or excuse me, chemical weapons, and then come out and say, hey, the Russians need to clean up their act, they should not be supporting these folks. And now what's happened as you see that anti-air units are being deployed, units are being moved around Syria, ships have deployed, the Russian ships have deployed out of Tartus, a Russian-controlled port in Syria. And the reason they're doing that is they believe, if you're going to fire missiles, you have to do it from the met and they're going to have ships out there to try to deal with that.

None of that is good. I mean, some of that they were going to do anyway, but this heightened poke you in the chest just doesn't help and may have, in fact, have taken away an avenue in which the president could have dealt with this issue.

ZAKARIA: You know, the striking thing listening to Mike is, there's so much kind of bizarre, bizarre incompetence in the Trump White House.

[20:55:05] Sometimes, you know, things go wrong. Government is very hard. National security is very hard. But so many of these cases, it is obvious that this is not what you want to do, because you create more problems for yourself than resolve it.

So when you look at the steel tariffs with China. They decide to go on with, you know, steel tariffs and then, surprise, surprise, we actually import most of our steel from Canada and Mexico and South Korea and Germany. So then you have to provide exceptions to all those countries.

Or just, you know, think about what Mike just said. This is all predictable, if somebody just had a National Security Council meeting and had this five or six people around saying, OK, if we were to do this, what would likely happen? Will this -- these are things -- so then you don't do that.

It seems as though nobody in the Trump White House does any scenario planning before they announce something or before the president tweets something.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, White House Spokesman Sarah Sanders kind of danced around the president's comments, saying that just because the president laid out one option, doesn't mean he's looking or not looking at other options, including diplomacy. But to Fareed's point, does there need to be a clear strategy communicated in any type of reaction?

ROGERS: Completely. And if this were part of some grand strategy that maybe those of us who are in the -- used to do a lot of the national security work don't understand, that's great. But you need to articulate it or at least demonstrate it. And when you have the secretary of defense who's in a different position saying, well, wait a minute, we haven't even worked out the issues with our allies yet. And by the way, if you're going to be successful at this, you have to have our allies engaged in whatever decision, even if the president decided, I am going to fire tomahawk missiles and take out your ability to deliver a chemical weapon, either by air or by machinery or by runway, all of those things could be options.

Now, that seems a bit muddled. And you've gotten ahead of the negotiations with your allies. I will tell you, that will honk them off. That's a technical diplomatic term, Anderson.


ROGERS: I mean, it will happen. They're not going to be happy about this, because they want to get it right. They want to be able to tell their people why this is important and why we need to thwart the use of chemical weapons. I just think it takes away options, it doesn't help you build allies and put your options on the table.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, Fareed Zakaria, thanks very much.

Coming up, new details about the raid on the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen's office, hotel room, and home.

And how the infamous Access Hollywood tape is now playing to the investigation.

Also, new reporting on a plan to cripple the Russia probe and the return of Steve Bannon.