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Former Trump Attorney Warns Trump That Michael Cohen Could Turn on Him; President Trump Now Says Russia Will Face New Sanctions "When The Time is Right;" Trump on Fate of Mueller and Rosenstein: "They're Still Here;" Sandy Hook Families Sue Alex Jones for Defamation. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, news of a warning to the President from one of his long time legal advisers that his fixer could turn on him.

On the table, will Michael Cohen flip? One of the President former lawyers says it could easily happen. The President again insists that nobody is tougher than Russia than he is. Despite Russia being advise, there would not be new sanctions.

And power and access, the Hannity connection to the President and President's lawyer and just how deep it may go.

We begin tonight with new reporting broken by "The Wall Street Journal" that the President's former lawyer and long-time advisers warned him on Friday that if Michael Cohen faces criminal charges he would turn on the President and cooperate with prosecutors.

CNN Chief Legal Analyst Gloria Borger has confirmed the story. She joins us now.

You talked to this attorney as well. Just walk us through -- first of all who this former attorney of the President's Jay Goldberg is and what he advised the President about Michael Cohen.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Jay Goldberg is an old friend of the President. He is about 85 years old. He negotiated very good deals for the President in both of his divorces, from Ivana Trump and from Marla Maples. So they go back a long way. And still talk to each other. And so as you say this is first reported by the "Wall Street Journal."

I then spoke with Jay Goldberg afterwards. And he reported that last Friday morning he gets a call from the White House, first pick up by his wife. Then he takes it. And the President is effectively asking him for his legal advice and read on the case.

And his advice was very clear. Be careful. Michael Cohen whom you think is a good friend of yours and may very well be a good friend of yours is going to flip on you. And the reason he told me is that anybody who is facing 30 years never stands up. Without exception he said, he told the President, a person facing a prison term cooperates. And he said there wasn't much of a response from the President to that at all. Then he told the President -- and by the way, don't testify, because even if you're telling the truth they're going to get you.

COOPER: He apparently told "The Wall Street Journal" reporter who broke that he estimated on a scale of one to 100 in terms of chances that Michael Cohen would remain loyal and not flip it was -- his number was a one.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: It was that low.

BORGER: Yes. I mean, and he said to me people who face long prison term invariably become government witnesses. This is what occurs. They're not professional criminals here. Michael Cohen is not that. And I know from other sources that Michael Cohen is worried about his family. He is worried about his children. He is worried about being destroyed completely financially.

And Goldberg says that, look, I just tell the President what my experience shows me. And it's very clear to me -- and also quite interesting actually -- that the President is reaching back to somebody he has known for decades to get kind of advice, even though he has a bunch of lawyers right here in Washington.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it sort of says something -- or I don't know maybe it doesn't. But the idea that he is reaching -- I mean, he does have a legal team in D.C.


COOPER: But he is reaching back to somebody who dealt with so long ago?

BORGER: Well, it seems to me that the President is his own lawyer in chief here. The President -- I have been talking to many sources about this, Anderson. The President is calling the shots for his legal team right now. As hard as they try to get organized and figure out who they should add to the team -- and by the way Goldberg suggested somebody from a prominent law firm who said no. But as much as they try and get more cohesive and focused with the President, nothing happens unless the President says yes.

So here you have the President acting as his own, you know, chief attorney, calling another attorney saying well what do you think about this? And what do you think about that?

COOPER: Gloria Borger, thanks very much.

A lot to get to with the panel. With us tonight, Philip Bump, Laura Coates, James Schultz, Kirsten Powers, Paul Begala, Amanda Carpenter.

It's fascinating. I mean, Laura, with you first, what do you make of this idea that pretty much everybody flips if they're facing a prison sentence. I think the attorney talks to the Wall Street Journal even Sammy the Bull Gravano, you know, flipped and he was -- you know, a hardened a criminal as they come?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, everybody has a different pain threshold. But you're talking about the President of United States who has the ability to pardon you if a federal crime. But not the ability if it's a state related crimes.

When the back pack is the prosecutors is dangling inside of Cohen, if you were to get pardoned on a federal crime if convicted or charged of anything I still have you on the state crime. So it may be the incentive to say, well, if I need cut my losses in some way and gamble I have to cooperate because I'm facing the state charges nonetheless. But there is only reason to actually cooperate if it's enticing to the person.

[21:05:05] If you're talking about taking off a year or two in the sentence recommendation it's not worth it to the person. If you're talking about no time, probation, et cetera, then it is worth it. But the risk people to think about is imagine Russian nesting dolls where at the very end of it is nothing. If you keep trying to get a cooperative with the hope of the biggest fish would be at the end of that, you may end up with nothing. If he is the biggest fish, if he is doll that you want, there is no reason for them to even allow him to cooperate. They want a conviction and a sentence.

COOPER: James, I mean, this attorney says he has nothing against Michael Cohen that he is not making this a snub against Michael Cohen. What do you make of that assessment, that pretty much anybody facing a lengthy prison sentence is likely to turn?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I agree wholeheartedly. And I also think -- look, he went for legal -- went to legal advice from a long trusted friend and former lawyer. And that's not uncommon for folks to do. And it's a good thing that he is seeking the legal counsel. And what he is essentially telling him is to be careful.

And sure anybody if I were advising the President I would tell him to be careful. This is someone who has a propensity to tape telephone conversations, tape conversations in person. You want to make sure that you're protecting yourself. But in terms of what he has or what he doesn't have on the President, whether he is going to flips or not, first off there has to be something there to flip. And I don't know if that is clear there is any -- that there is a there, there, at this point.

COOPER: Kirsten?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I guess I would say -- I'm sorry.

COOPER: No, go ahead.

CARPENTER: Is that I think all this talk about him flipping is premature. I mean, I'm dying to know what the feds have on Michael Cohen. I mean, it was such a dramatic act for his office to be raided. I hope to goodness that they have the goods on Michael Cohen because if they don't. If they're just going on a rumor or random tip or maybe just some of the suspicion they thought he was just going to destroy some evidence, things are going to unravel. I mean, people will protest hard. This would be such an overreach that I want to know what that warrant says. I want to know what the warrant says on Carter Page. And I'm dying for that information to come out.

COOPER: But just to get the warrant in the first place pass a judge I would assume they would to have to have some -- something to show.

COATES: Of course, I mean probable cause is not the ceiling in a case like this. It's the bare minimum. You must at least have some understanding or indication that what you're finding at the home, the office or hotel is actually about a criminal nature. Not a guess. And they wanted to have more than that especially being an attorney, especially being the attorney reportedly for the President of the United States I bet that judge cross every T and dot every I and require them to do so before hitting. Having said that, Amanda, you're absolutely right, there is no guarantee to anything fruitful coming out of it but getting the warrant suggests that there is far more than simply an innuendo.

COOPER: Kirsten it's interesting to me that this attorney was more than happy to go on the record with "Wall Street Journal" and with Gloria Borger.


COOPER: So you know -- and I think the reason -- I think he said to the Wall Street journal reporter was that -- he wanted to make sure the President heard him when he said what he said.

POWERS: Right. Well, I mean this is the whole thing that the President I guess only hears people when they're either on TV or talking to a newspaper even though they actually had a conversation. So theoretically he would have heard him there. You know, I keep hearing conserves saying oh, they better have had a reason to go into -- you know, to go to Michael Cohen's office. I mean, I don't know why we're assuming they didn't. This just keeps getting repeated over and over --

CARPENTER: I'm not -- I think the suspicions are there I'm hoping it's air tight.

POWERS: They had to get a warrant.


POWERS: I mean, it's not like they just were like who were just going to busting in there and --

CARPENTER: But to raid the President's lawyer. I think the conditions can be there. I'm saying I am hoping as Laura said they dotted every T and crossed -- you know, dotted every I so there is no debate when this comes out that this action should have been carried out. PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's -- yes, it's so extraordinary to go into a lawyer's office it happen. But it's unusual. It's more than unusual it's extraordinary, and the President's lawyer going to have. I'd be surprised if they didn't have a much higher bar and that magistrate didn't have a much higher bar. But I do think that this advice that the President getting is -- it's true.

You know, you remember the REM song, "Everybody hurts." Or fairly everybody flips. Now we know everybody leaks, because if we're on magic box then we're real and you can listen to us, Mr. President. It's extraordinary because we're all -- all of this I think the advice -- he is getting -- he is presuming that there is criminal conduct underneath this? Why because we're sentient beings we can see the obvious. We don't know what it is, maybe it's nothing but what are the odds that all of this is nothing?

CARPENTER: Right. It's kind of an awkward position to be in that we have to wait. We watch all these raids. Investigation continues. It's frustrating as someone who thinks there is a lot of circumstantial evidence, there's a lot of suspicion to have to wait and be in limbo while the President just punches FBI and every law enforcement agency --


PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": To that point, though specifically there is no one who is under more attack than the President right now who works with the government than Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General and he had to sign off on this thing, right? I mean, this went to him before it went to the magistrate judge and as such no one is going to be paying closer attention to how is the President going to react to this than Rod Rosenstein. So I think it's safe to say, there was enough there to making him comfortable moving forward.

[21:10:10] SCHULTZ: And the judge is even taking extra precautions and you've seen that in terms of protecting the attorney client privilege information. So you're seeing them doing the extra step which makes me feel a little better about.

COATES: But if we're all learning one thing it's from Sean Hannity is that we are assuming that Michael Cohen is the attorney of the President of the United States and that he is always acted in that capacity every time there was a dealing and every time there was a paperwork or anything that was filed or recorded and if that was the not the case attorney client privilege need not apply here and it may be his ultimate denies for Michael Cohen not being able to protect that from disclosure.

COOPER: Well, I mean, and Michael Cohen himself has said -- I mean, in the dealing with Storms Daniels that he was not --

COATES: There's even engagement.

COOPER: You know, the communication with the President he just did it on his own. So that would seem to indicate there is no privileges there.

COATES: Right.

COOPER: Everybody stick around. A quick programming note, we're going to hear even more from former FBI Director James Comey when he sits down with our Jake Tapper that's tomorrow, Thursday 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead, what President Trump is now saying about new Russian sanctions, he was ask tonight whether or not it will happen, his response in a moment.

Also, the well-known conspiracy theorist goes -- well, incredibly far now. She is being sued by parent who lost their children in a Newton shooting we'll talk to one of the moms involved in the shoot on the lies that this conspiracy theory spread and why they're fighting back.


[21:15:01] COOPER: At Mar-a-Lago tonight, the President answered question and Russia, the question of mixed messages over whether there would be new sanctions and the Mueller investigation. Here is some of what he said when he asked whether it's concluded that it's not worth the political fallout to remove Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion. And that's been so found as you know by the House Intelligence Committee. There is no collusion. As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months. Four months. Five months. And they're still here. So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us.


COOPER: Well, CNN Jeff Zeleny joins us now from a Florida. What else did the President say about the investigation?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, certainly interesting that the President said really he down played the suggestion that has been reported for weeks that he is thinking about firing Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein. By suggesting that he wants to get the investigation over with perhaps suggests that he wants to cooperate. We don't know if that means testify. But certainly he went on to really discredit it for several minutes, talking again about how it was a hoax. Saying it was all over. But he left out one name, Michael Cohen.

Of course that's the major development in all of this as we've been talking about throughout the evening. And that's something the President did not acknowledge. But he really tried to brush this aside saying he has been as cooperative as possible here and trying to move along. But certainly did not take the opportunity to say that he does plan to dismiss Rod Rosenstein. But he didn't say he would keep him necessarily either, Anderson.

COOPER: There is a lot of back and forth over the last few days on Russian sanctions. What did the President have to say today?

ZELENY: Anderson, this is pretty interesting, because as we know there's been the controversy inside the West Wing. One of the President's really most visible and respected cabinet members Nikki Haley under fire for coming out on Sunday saying that there were new sanctions, going to be new sanctions coming out against Russia.

The President the next day rejected them. That created this back and forth here among who is sort of telling the truth, why did the President pull back? So the President was asked about this at the very end of the news conference. And he said that we will do sanctions he said as soon as they -- as soon -- because they deserve it. But then he went on to say this about Russia.


TRUMP: There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. Between building up the military, between creating tremendous vast amounts of oil, we raised billions and billions of dollars extra in NATO. There has been nobody tougher than me. With the media, no matter what I did it's never tough enough, because that's the narrative. But Russia will tell you there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump.


ZELENY: Perhaps it's not about being tough as it is being consistent. And that has been a question here that is still hanging over this White House. What is the President's coherent and consistent strategy toward Russia? The question of sanctions clearly was in the works over the weekend. That's why Nikki Haley went out and said they were coming. Clearly the President pulled back.

So he said they would be coming soon. We don't know exactly what that means. But he certainly did not say they wouldn't be coming at all. Of course Anderson, all of this tied to other matters. He wants Russia to play along in his summit coming up with Kim Jong-un. He needs Russia on his side. So a very interesting summit here with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but of course, all leading into the other potential summit with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Back now with the panel. We'll get into sanctions in a minute.

Paul what do make of his comments about Rosenstein and Mueller? I mean, he didn't say no that's off the table. He just said they're still there even though people have been talking about this for months?

BEGALA: He used to say I'm not firing them. Now he is saying they're still there, which we already knew that, sir, we didn't need breaking news to tell us that they're there. I think he is -- we know from reporting that he ordered his White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mr. Mueller. McGahn refused to do so and threatened to resign. There is another instance where he moved to try to fire Mueller and others stopped him from doing it.

So and then he says three times we want it over, we want to done with, we want it behind us. We got you the first time, sir. But he is going to tranquil this. He fired Jim Comey because he didn't like how he handled the Russia investigation, right. He was trying I think to obstruct it. He is endlessly whining about Mueller and Rosenstein. He is telegraphin as much as he always does. He always tells us what's on his mind. He is going to fire everybody he can. He is going to pardon everybody he needs to and he is going to torch everybody else. Maybe that's I think is long term strategy.

CARPENTER: I mean, what was interesting in that presser he still doesn't admit that Russia meddled in the election. He went on this conspiracy theory. Didn't really say it but it but he's trying to say it which is his way of wondering why the FBI didn't seize the DNC servers.

[21:20:02] That is flirting with the conspiracy theory that the DNC email hacks were some kind of inside job that the Russians didn't do it. So of course, he doesn't think there should be an investigation because he still won't admit that basic fact.

SCHULTZ: White House turned over 1.4 million documents in connection with this review. And I think everybody jumps the gun the moment the President gets upset or frustrated or otherwise or reports out of the White House that the President then is going to all of a sudden fire Rosenstein and fire Mueller. And I think that's the point he was making here today was that look we've been cooperating all the way through. And that they're still in the positions. We haven't -- he hasn't made any moves on them. And I don't --

COOPER: Well, he didn't say he hasn't made moves on them just they're still there.

SCHULTZ: But they're still there but fact of the matter is he hasn't fired them.

COOPER: Right. But the reporting though -- I mean the reason he says the media has been talking about in for months is because he's been talking about it to people in the White House.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Right, but last week we heard this is imminent. Rod Rosenstein is -- it's imminent that he is going to be dismissed. It didn't happen.

COATES: But the reason you keep hearing that -- I mean if you're afraid of having a witch hunt then stop putting on green paint on your face and wearing a pointed hat. It's the President of the United States who repeatedly goes after Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, the investigation. It's not the media pulling it out of the wind. And many ways it's pulling out from the actual tweets --

COOPER: Right, and according to the reporting, only because Don McGahn threatened to quite the first time.

SCHULTZ: From advising the President I'm saying don't talk about any of this. But I mean that's just the way it is. But the fact that the news media saying, well, it's imminent that he is going to be fired. And fine that's coming out of the White House because everybody is gauging the reaction of Donald Trump. Fact of the matter is they're both still doing their jobs.

BUMP: Well I mean, James Comey was still director of the FBI in May 8th, 2017, right. They still were doing their jobs until he fires them. And so we have these reports that a lot of outlets said -- I don't remember anyone saying it's imminent so much as there are a lot of signs that this maybe coming --

COOPER: Right. He is about these two people. He is asking people in the White House about this.

BUMP: Yes. So he is talking to people, the 30 million people follow on Twitter as well. And this is -- it's not a secret and that defense I think falls down to -- if he hasn't fired James Comey, maybe I think --

COOPER: What about the -- Kirsten, what do you make of this whole story on Russian sanctions? I mean, it's -- first of all, Friday night you have the President in speech in to the nation on Syria saying military, diplomatic economic movements. We saw the military we saw the diplomatic. The economic would seem to be sanctions and then Nikki Haley on Sunday says sanctions are going to be announced if they haven't been announced it's happening Monday. Steve Mnuchin is going to be doing it. I mean, there was a level of detail and specificity there. And then it seems like they called the Russian embassy that Sunday and said Nikki Haley is wrong. And Monday -- you know, we know what happened, nothing.

POWERS: Yes. It's hard to imagine Nikki Haley going out and saying this if there hadn't been a decision that this was going to happen. So I think it's safe to assume that some point there was a decision and then somebody changed their mind. And that somebody who changed there is probably Donald Trump.

If you look at the various actions that have been taken against Russia there have been a few. They're not quite as numerous as the President says they are but there have been a few. If you look at reporting on them, they really had to push the President to do these things. And then even when there was the expulsion of diplomats he was furious because the U.S. expelled more than the European countries did. And he didn't want to look like he was taking the lead.

And so what it's been is people really pushing him to take actually that he doesn't really want to take. And so you know in the end I think maybe he just decided this isn't something he wants to do. It doesn't make sense that you want to take military action but you don't want to do sanctions. I think that's the problem.

CARPENTER: I do think there could be a plausible explanation. Of course maybe there's a big gun that there were some secret deal for sanctions release in exchange for elections help, maybe. More likely, does Donald Trump want to preserve the option to do business in Russia post-presidency? We know in run up to his presidency, he wanted to do the Trump Tower in Moscow. He did all the beauty pageant deal. He laid a lot of ground work there.

I think it's very possible that he just wants to be able to do business there with his family as a private citizen after the White House, which may be would explain why he is willing to engage in diplomatic actions, on military actions but not economic. I think it's worth considering.

BEGALA: And five times there was no collusion. This is his thing. And now all of his supporters keep saying it. It's not true. First off, as you know, Jim you're a lawyer, it's not a crime. But to a certain context, which were they were colluding 12 different -- this is CNN's reporting, 12 different people connected to Mr. Trump talked to Russians. They had 19 face-to-face meetings and 51 total contacts.

Just give me one example. This is the -- one of the most recent -- Rick Gates who is now pleaded guilty, deputy manager -- deputy chairman of the campaign had frequent phone calls in September and October 2016 with a person the FBI believes had active links to Russian spy services. That's "The New York Times" not me. That's collusion. Now whether it's a crime I don't know. Mr. Gates already pleaded guilty to some crimes. But he can't honestly say no collusion and his supporters need to stop saying it.

[21:25:00] SCHULTZ: Well, the fact that he had -- it's likely that the President talked to additional other advisers over the weekend pulled it back, maybe because they need help with North Korea. Maybe for other reasons that are beneficial to this country. We don't know the answer to that, to just tie it to collusion or tie it to the economic or the business interests --


CARPENTER: If he could tell what the Russia policy is that would be great.

SCHULTZ: Right but the folks said, oh well, she might have gotten out of her skis meaning Ambassador Haley. The folks that got out skis are the folks that said he got out of her skis. President has every right to dial back that policy. How the staff deals with the policy after the fact is very, very important. And in fact you saw an apology coming out of it.

COOPER: Much more ahead in a moment, I'm going to talk with Senator Angus King about all the mixed messages on Russia sanctions. Also, CIA Director Mike Pompeo's face to face meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.


COOPER: Back to our breaking news on Russia. The President now insist the new sanction will be put in place when the time is right for the country supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. This comes after a war of words over this issue with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Now earlier, I spoke about this with more Senator Angus King of Maine.


COOPER: Senator King, tonight the President said that no one has been tougher on Russia than him. And he added, "We'll do sanctions as much as they deserve it." I'm wondering do you think the Russians deserve more sanctions?

SENATOR ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Absolutely. I mean and he said it himself on Friday night during the attack. If they deserve an air strike it seems to me they also deserve sanctions.

You got to remember, Anderson, that the Russians were inter-involved with the Syrian chemical weapons program. And they were the ones who said in 2013 they were going to guarantee that the Syrians weren't going to do this again.

[21:30:07] So they've sort of taken ownership of this and the fact that there was plenty of warning that this strike was going to come, there were no Russians that were involved, that were in any way targets. But to not target them with sanction it seems to me is just letting them off easy. It's a free pass. Why would they worry about doing it again?

COOPER: Yes, I mean you mentioned that speech he gave Friday night announcing the attack. He talked about military actions, diplomatic actions and economic actions we saw the military, we saw the diplomatic ones with the U.K. and France. But it does seem like those economic ones we're talking about were sort of telegraphing the idea of more sanctions.

Nikki Haley clearly said that on Sunday as if it was a done deal. He even said Mnuchin was going to be announcing it either Sunday or Monday. What do you think happened? Do you have any idea? Was it just the President deciding to change the policy?

KING: Well, you know, we- we're all speculating. I don't know what happened but I know enough about Nikki Haley. She doesn't say things casually. And she is not going to look into the camera on Sunday morning and make an unequivocal statement the sanctions will come. And I think she even said maybe today or by tomorrow.

COOPER: Yes, she did.

KING: And -- so she clearly had a clear -- she had a signal on that. What happened in between? It appears the President changed his mine. There is a larger issue here, Anderson, though that is what bothers me, because it goes to the whole Russia relationship.

Right now Russia is getting a free pass in a sense. We have imposed sanctions. But they aren't as severe as what I believe they should be. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It was a -- it was a very serious deliberate sophisticated comprehensive effort to undermine our democracy. And they haven't paid any price. And my position has been all along in dozens of hearings until they start feeling that there is some price to be paid there is no reason for them not to keep on doing it. And we have evidence now that they're going to keep on doing it. They're involved in this election coming up this fall.

COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of the President's nominee for secretary of state. I've heard you say that you think Mike Pompeo done a good job at director of CIA. Would you vote for him as secretary of state?

KING: I have not decided yet. I'm legitimately and honestly undecided, Anderson. I met with him. I went to his hearing at the Foreign Relations Committee the other day even though I'm not on the committee.

One thing by the way, I can tell you for sure, the seats for the audience at a congressional hearing aren't as comfortable as the seats the senators have up around the table. But I have talked to a lot of people. I'm still running down talking to people that I respect.

I can argue it either way. I did vote for him as director of the CIA. I think he has done a good job. But secretary of state is an entirely different job. CIA you're delivering intelligence, in effect you're taking a product that your people produce and giving it to the President.

Secretary of state is pure policy. And I have some concerns about Mike Pompeo's policies in terms of Iran, North Korea, things that he stated historically, climate change, things that will be important in terms of his representation of the country around the world.

So I'm still weighing it. He is a bright guy. Very capable. There's no question of that. He clearly has the President's confidence going to North Korea. But I'm still not sure. I'm trying oh wrap up my process the next couple days.

COOPER: What do you make of Pompeo's recent trip to North Korea? I mean, the White House today cited it as reason to push his nomination through? Have they made him invaluable in discussions with North Korea?

KING: Well, I don't think that necessarily. But I'm glad he went. I'm glad somebody went. I mean a meeting of this magnitude -- I mean, Anderson, the stakes couldn't be any higher. If we achieve some kind of diplomatic breakthrough it will relieve one of the greatest pressure points in the world. It will relieve an enormous danger to our country. But the contrary is if it falls apart then we could be on a road to devastating military conflict.

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

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, coming up days after it came out that Sean Hannity is the Michael Cohen mysterious third client, we now learning more about how he is intertwined with the President. We'll show you that next.


[21:38:02] COOPER: In the two days that have elapsed since the President's lawyer my knowledge Cohen was forced to reveal in court that the mystery client he tried to keep secret was in fact Sean Hannity. The consequences have been swept.

Hannity's employer Fox News did what any respectable news organization would do when face the with the knowledge that one of its anchors had gone on the air time after time after time to breathlessly report on someone without disclosing his personal connection to the story. I'm kidding they don't care. They didn't care. Here is a statement.

They said, "While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support."

It's a doze of a conflict of interest and one that was kept secret. But it's not even Hannity's most glaring conflict of interest. New reporting "Washington Post" shows just how intertwined Hannity and the President are. Talking several times a week discussing show topics, the Russian investigation, what the President should tweet. One Presidential adviser says, "Hannity basically has a desk in the place."

Back now with the panel. I got your paper's reporting. I mean, it's fascinating kind of this symbiotic relationship. It's a mutually beneficial?

BUMP: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, Hannity has been an ally of Trump since early in the campaign, probably even before the campaign. He essentially endorsed him during the campaign. And he has been able to use his television problem which he insists isn't a journalistic show, it's an opinion show, but he has been able to use it to really drive the conversation both nationally and at Fox News.

He essentially serves as the furthest right outpost-on Fox News. It sort of drags the rest of the hosts with him to march the rhetoric that he is using there. And it's (inaudible) the rhetoric that he uses in the show.

It's sort of like Glenn Beck from the early days of the Barack Obama administration. And what the effect is that Suffolk University pulls people regularly and half of Republicans say Fox News is the most trusted news. So this is a network that Republicans are watching a lot, Sean Hannity is dragging all the coverage to a more favorable Trump position and the net results is certainly tributes to the fact that Donald Trump is seen very favorably by the same base of people.

[21:40:02] COOPER: There is a conflict for Fox News because I mean, obviously during the day, they have -- folks like Shepard Smith, Bret Baier, you know who are doing reporting. And yet the nighttime is much more opinion based?

COATES: Yes, it's almost too convenient to say that oh no, no we're going to use a kind of nuanced semantics argument. I'm an opinion journalist not actually a journalist. I'm not to be regarded and have the credibility as others but please believe every word that I say.

And the conflict is so apparent in my mind that of course unlike an attorney, a journalist is necessarily have the same bar admission ethical standards that you would have, but you still have credibility and ethics on the line. And to me this is a clear violation of what the American people would like see from somebody who represents -- you know, that they are actually giving them factual information as opposed to not only just opinion but also one that tainted by a personal conflict.

And we're seeing more and more not just that he has this relationship with purportedly Michael Cohen. But also now we hearing reports of other people who have ties to him, for example Jay Sekulow apparently represented him in a case, along with Joe diGenova and he is like in a case involving a cease and desist letter out of a radio station in the west. So you have a kind of not only symbiotic, but also insidious (ph) with the Trump administration in the way that makes it really misleading.

COOPER: I mean, I personally no problem with Fox News. I'm glad they're out there. I'm glad that MSNBC is out there. I personally wouldn't want to do what either of them do. But, Jim, do you think Hannity should have at least said I've consulted from time to time with Michael Cohen. He is my guess. Because he has been on like at least 16 times?

SCHULTZ: Look, he hasn't run from his positions. He is for Donald Trump. He is for the President. He endorsed him. He has done interviews at rallies. He is with the President of the United States. And the fact that there are people around the President that he is affiliated with isn't changing that and doesn't add any more to it he is embracing it.

COOPER: If you do business with people who you are interviewing them and 2interviewing them in some sort of journalistic role. I mean, there is a certain ethics involved of you should at least acknowledge we have a prior relationship?

SCHULTZ: I'm a lawyer and I deal with ethics as a lawyer in terms of journalistic ethics I'll leave it to the journalist around here to make those judgments. But the fact of the matter he has been absolutely transparent in the fact that he is pushing the Trump agenda without a doubt.

COOPER: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes, I mean, look I would say the evening news shows at Fox like the evening news shows at MSNBC are opinion shows. They're not -- anybody who thinks they're turning on the news and getting Walter Cronkite. They're not. You know, and I don't think nobody thinks that Rachel Maddow, however talented she is, is just giving people the straight scoop. It's a perspective.

So I think most people do recognize that what Sean is doing is giving an opinion. And I don't think there is really anything wrong with him being a supporter of Donald Trump. I do think he should have disclosed this. I just -- I think that if you're going to be sort of on the war path on behalf of the White House about the FBI going into Michael Cohen's office then you need to disclose this relationship or recuse yourself from that situation, whether you're entertainment, whether you're opinion, whether you're a straight news show. I think that that's what he should have done.

BEGALA: From a White House perspective, I actually think this is going to shock you. I think it's good. Sean has problems and I don't support Donald Trump. You don't want the President to be a prisoner of the bubble, right? And Presidents try to reach out beyond that. I don't think it's bad at all it's good the President reaches out I wish he would raise his level of who he reaches out to. And Sean ought to disclose that.

But, you know, President Obama and other Presidents would have columnists come in and meet off the record and share ideas. I don't know he is doing and I look probably for me to defend Sean Hannity or Donald Trump. But the disclosure is from -- I had a pro Clinton perspective every single appearance during the election, we disclosed that I advice, a pro Clinton SuperPac and by the way after the election I left it so I don't have anymore conflicts of interest. That's what CNN wanted for disclosure and I think it's better.

COOPER: I got to get another break in. Thanks everybody. Still ahead, grieving parents who is children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary should not have -- had to deal with their loss being called a hoax but they have for years now repeatedly right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Now three parents are hoping to make him pay literally. I'll speak with Veronique De La Rosa whose six-old son Noah Pozner was killed that day. About a million dollar defamation lawsuit she is behind. That's next.


[21:48:42] COOPER: Radio host sounding off with a conspiracy theory isn't something we would normally cover but Alex Jones of InfoWars says taking part in some pretty vial disgusting talk. We frankly can't ignore it.

Now keep in mind this is a guy who has a big audience and has nearly 3 million visitors in the last month according Quadcast, a company that tracking web traffic. It's clearly a lot of people who are listening to Alex Jones, his vulgar message that takes aim at grieving families. These moms and dads have been through what no parent should ever face. They lost their babies, their young children, first graders who were shot and killed in the classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Now three parents have filed defamation suits. They want Alex Jones to stop spreading lies about them and murdered children. More now from 360's Randi Kaye. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX JONES, AMERICAN RADIO SHOW HOST AND CONSPIRACY THEORIST, INFOWARS: The whole thing is a giant hoax. It took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years now right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been selling the outlandish falsehood the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary which tragically did leave 20 children and six adults dead never actually happened.

JONES: Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors in my view manufactured.

KAYE: Completely fake and a giant hoax? Jones says yes. All carried out by opponents of the Second Amendment.

[21:50:02] JONES: I don't know if the moon landings are fake. But I don't put anything past the anti-gunners.

KAYE: Well, now two families whose children died in the shooting say they have enough, they are suing Jones for $1 million for defamation alleging his conspiracy pedaling has caused emotional anguish and despair. Jones didn't respond to a request for comment.

COOPER: What do you want to know about Noah?

VERONIQUE DE LA ROSA, NOAH POZNER'S MOM: He was a 6-year-old little boy.

KAYE: One incident highlighted in the lawsuit is an interview Anderson Cooper did after the shooting with Veronique Pozner, now Veronique De La Rosa, her son Noah was killed. And now she and the boy's father are suing Jones.

This clip from the Alex Jones show was the first time Jones floats a conspiracy theory about the interview suggesting Cooper wasn't even there talking to grieving parents.

JONES: Folks, we've got video of Anderson Cooper with clear blue screen out there. He's not there in the town square.

KAYE: Later, in April 2017, Jones hosted a radio show he called "The Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed." Highlighting that same Anderson Cooper interview, only this time going even further.

JONES: Then we've got Anderson Cooper famously, not just with the flowers blowing in fake, but when he turns, his nose disappears repeatedly because the green screen isn't set right.

KAYE: Jones' claim is ridiculous and the lawsuit makes that clear saying the video glitch resulted from motion compensation video compression. A distortion effect that is common when converting video to a digital format. The other lawsuit is being brought against Jones by Neil Heslin who lost his son, Jesse, at Sandy Hook. He talked with NBC last year.

NEIL HESLIN, JESSE LEWIS' FATHER: I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.

KAYE: In the weeks following, Jones in another InfoWars personality cast down on whether Neil Heslin really did hold his son saying the coroner identified children through family photos.

VOICE OF OWEN SHROYER, INFORWARS REPORTER: That is his claim, now according to timeline of events and corner's testimony that s not possibly.

JONES: The stuff I found, they never let them see their bodies.

KAYE: Grieving parents made out to be actors all part of an alleged sinister manipulation plan concocted by Alex Jones to fool the public. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: There's another sick layer to all this, in the lawsuits the families say that Alex Jones' vulgar lies have even led some listeners to make death threats against them. They detailed the case against a Florida woman who believes the Sandy Hook Shooting was a hoax. She was sentenced to five months in prison to making death threats against know Noah Pozner's family online and in voicemail messages.

She was also ordered to not access a list of conspiracy based websites including InfoWars. Earlier, I spoke about all this with Noah's mom Veronique De La Rosa who you just saw in Randi's report.


COOPER: Veronique I want to get to the lawsuit in a minute. But I just want to start by talking about your son, Noah, this really about his legacy more than anything. What do you want people to know about him?

DE LA ROSA: That he was full of life. He was just a typical little boy. Inquisitive, full of wonder, a very connected loving little l soul, he loved people. He loved animals. He was inquisitive. He wanted to know how everything worked and how he fit into the scheme of things. He was just a wonderful budding little individual.

COOPER: He's got an incredible smile, too.

DE LA ROSA: He did. And it just radiated. This love of the world, and this desire to tap into everything, into the entire inner workings of things. He was just -- he was just always on the path to discovery. That's how I remember him the best.

COOPER: This lawsuit that you just filed with your former husband, Noah's dad, what do you hope comes out of this?

DE LA ROSA: Accountability. No more, no less. You know, I think there comes a time when if there's a choice that's made over a relentless period of years to peddle falsehoods and to profit from them, then there has to be a day of reckoning. And accountability and they say that sunlight is a great disinfectant, well, I say, let it shine.

COOPER: Part of this lawsuit, I understand, includes an interview that we did together which Alex Jones has been distorting. I just find it inexcusable that this person is out there pedaling these lies about one of the most heartbreaking of all tragedies.

[21:55:10] DE LA ROSA: That's right. He no longer gets to desecrate my son's memory. He no longer gets to negate my pain and profit from it. That is correct. You and I both know where we were on that night and the pain that came with that event.

COOPER: So many people, you know, talk about -- they use that word, closure. And I always thought there really is no such thing as closure. It seems to me kind of a made-up TV where I'm just wondering how you move forward through grief?

DE LA ROSA: You know, at first, it starts out being this total devastation and then it morphs into this deep abiding sadness and you survive on the memories and you survive on letting your imagination guide you on what might have been. On -- his life remains unlived, so I'm his voice. His father is his voice.

COOPER: Veronique, thank you for your strength and thank you for talking to us tonight.

DE LA ROSA: Thank you very much.

COOPER: And we'll be right back.