Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Announces Shutdown of Nuclear Test Site Ahead of Trump Summit; "Washington Post:" Sessions Tells White House He Might Quit if Rosenstein is Fired; "New York Times:" Maybe Michael Cohen Won't "Take a Bullet" for Trump Anymore; Former Lawyer for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal Cooperates with Deferral Probe of Michael Cohen; Judge Wants to Hear from President Trump's Attorney Before Ruling on Whether to Put Stormy Daniels Case on Hold. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:51] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of breaking news to bring you on a very busy Friday night. We begin with an announcement from North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, which if true it would be stunning. State one media North Korea reports says he says his regime no longer needs the nuclear or missile tests. The North Korea source tells CNN that Kim has realized the best path forward is normalizing relation was other country, which again if true -- plenty of reasons to be cautious and skeptical would be a massive in reversal.

Will Ripley joins me from Hong Kong. What are you hearing about Kim Jong-un, about how he came to this decision, if in fact it is his decision?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I've been speaking with North Korean officials who actually were taken by surprise, by this announcement. But they say this is an incredibly shroud move. Kim Jong-un met with his top party officials in Pyongyang on Friday and clearly this announcement came on the hills of that meeting. And they have decided that at least for now, nuclear tests and missile tests are not the best path forward for North Korea.

Arguably Kim Jong-un's missile program has gotten into this point. He has leverage, he is getting -- recognized by world leaders. And yet continuing that program could mean military conflict with the United States, it could mean the continuation of this crippling the economic sanctions. And so what my sources are telling me is this indicates Kim Jong-un's willingness to focus on trying to fulfill the promise to his people, a promise that he made when he came to power to improve their economic living conditions. And in order to do that he feel that engaging with the global community and not moving forward with nuclear -- with nuclear missile testing is the best way to go at least for now.

But the North Korean will never going to completely give up their leverage, they haven't said they're going to destroy their nuclear weapons. Yes, they might shut down the nuclear test site (INAUDIBLE). It doesn't mean that there may not be another test site that we don't know about. And also North Korea hasn't said that they won't continue to launch satellites for example, which a lot of people feel use the same kind of technology that could be used to put a war head towards the United States. But clear a lot of things that still need to be worked out here.

COOPER: This obviously came after his visit to China meeting with the Chinese premier as well as the visit by CIA Director Mike Pompeo?

RIPLEY: It did. And you know, apparently according to sources who are familiar with that discussion, the meeting went well. And I think that that meeting face-to-face with Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un it showed the Trump administration that Kim is someone who they can deal with.

President Trump said that the meeting, you know, went well. He was -- Kim Jong-un was described as personable, as well prepared. Obviously he has been studying a lot about this, really studying President Trump himself.

And so he is going to be going into this potentially historic summit, probably with a very clear list of what he hopes to gain out of this. And we can only hope that President Trump also will come prepared to potentially make a deal, because this is an opportunity that's never happened before. Nine U.S. presidents, three North Korean leaders, this is the first time that the President of the United States and North Korean leader going to sit down face-to-face. There may not be another opportunity like this again if this doesn't go well.

COOPER: Will Ripley, thanks very much.

Boris Sanchez joins me now with the latest reaction from the White House. What does the President have to say about the announcement Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Anderson. Yes. Tonight we're seeing a shift from language that President Trump had previously used to describe the American relationship with North Korea, no mention of little rocket man tonight.

Also a shift from even how he described the possibility of this summit just a few days ago. And answering questions about the possibility of the summit the President had qualified it by saying if the North Koreans went through, if they behave well, then this summit could potentially take place.

Tonight the President is saying that he is looking forward to the summit. He tweeted out a short while ago writing, "North Korea has agreed to suspend on nuclear tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the world. Big progress, look forward to the summit."

The President actually pinned that to his Twitter account. Of course there are still a number of logistical issues to be ironed out specifically where this summit is going to take place. We reached out to the White House to see if they would expand on the President's tweet tonight. But they have yet to put out a statement. Anderson. COOPER: And I mean, this certainly gives the President some big pushback to his critics and to anyone who suggesting he was going into the summit without any concessions by the North Koreans?

[21:05:02] SANCHEZ: Yes, there was criticism of the administration after this announcement of a potential summit was made that the administration was apiecing Kim Jong-un and giving into this craving that he has had to meet with an American President and elevate his country on the world stage.

Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo was criticized after the announcement of the secret meeting in North Korea, some saying that he came back empty handed, what with there being some American prisoners in North Korea right now.

But of course this is significant, this is ammunition for the administration to justify some of the rhetoric that we have heard from President Trump in the past, his argument is that he is soft on the North Koreans.

Of course the question now is how serious is Kim Jong-un about denuclearization? How transparent is he going to be? Is he going to allow an independent monitor to enter his nation and survey nuclear facilities? And is that denuclearization going to be irreversible? In other words could Kim Jong-un ultimately flip a witch and from one day to the next restart his nuclear program from one day to the next? So still plenty of questions to be answered.

Again, this is significant. But as you well know, Anderson, the United States has had deals with North Korea before that have wound up in the waste been of history.

COOPER: Yes. Boris Sanchez, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World." CNN Military Analyst Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and CNN Chief National Strategic Correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

Gordon, how significant is this. Do you buy this?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, "DAILY BEAST": Well, I think it is significant of course. You know, I'm sure that Kim Jong-un thinks he is playing us. His father in 2008 they destroyed the cooling tower for his only reactor and then a year after that they walked away from the denuclearization, the six party talks.

So they are probably thinking they going to do the same thing as dad did. But the point here was that where are so many dramatic events that are occurring -- one right after the other. No matter what plans Kim has I think he is going to be swept by momentum which means that he can decide that he can play this out. But that's not going to be the way things occur actually occurred. Things are just happening much too fast, much too significant.

COOPER: With both the United States and with South Korea, you mean? CHANG: Yes. And certainly you also got China involved. You got Japan involved. President Trump has shown that he is not going to allow anyone to upstage him. You have new national security adviser who has talked about actually attacking North Korea when he was at Fox News.

So you have all sorts of events that are unnerving Kim Jong-un. And by the way he needs sanctions relief. Because it's pretty clear that the U.N. sanctions, U.S. sanctions are now starting to constrict the flow of money to Kim, which means he needs cash. That means he has to talk to Trump.

COOPER: General Hertling, I mean do you believe North Korea will want something in return, a freeze for a freeze as some people had said?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, this is a positive development, Anderson, but I'm not breathlessly excited about it. I normally don't disagree with Gordon but on this I do. There is a whole lot of talking required yet. And all it is, is a freeze of something that Kim Jong-un has already proven he can do. He has already proven he can fire missiles. He has already proven he can test nuclear weapons.

He is doing this to set the trap I believe. You know, he has been negotiating with both the President of China and the Prime Minister -- as Mr. Trump has been talking to the Prime Minister of Japan. The North Koreans have been sending their Foreign Minister to Moscow.

So there has been a lot of discussion behind the scene other than just Mr. Pompeo going over. So I think there is a lot more to be considered. And I'm not excited yet. In fact I'm extremely skeptical. This has happened before.

COOPER: You said he is setting a trap. How so?

HERTLING: Well, I believe that he has the most to gain. He is in a very good situation. He has already proven his nuclear program works. Possibly not as much as he'd like. He needs primarily the economic assistance, as Gordon just said. That's critical to Kim Jong-un right now. He needs to bring his population around. He has seen positive development. And I think he is going to get help from some of these neighbors.

COOPER: Jim, I mean if you were Kim Jong-un why would you denuclearize? I mean, again their definition of denuclearization is seems to be different than ours. But you look at what happened to Muammar Gaddafi, you know, I mean it didn't end up well for him.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you wouldn't. I mean and that's a thing is that, it's seen as survival. It's a matter of survival and you know, we've often talked about how folks from the outside will say well Kim is a crazy man, irrational behavior, et cetera.

But folks who know North Korea well say in fact North Korea's security policy is very rational from their point of view. You'll hear this even from U.S. intelligence officials from their point of view they are outmatched. They're surrounded by rivals. They basically have one sort of friend that is China in the world. So nuclear power, nuclear weapons are the best chance of survival. So when they say denuclearize really more likely to be talking about a freeze as Gordon and Mark -- General Hertling were talking about.

[21:10:07] The question becomes what does the U.S. then -- what does the U.S. freeze. Do they freeze exercises? For how long? How comfortable is South Korea with that?

Also possible only on the table an actual treaty to end the Korean War which has been kind of inactive since 1953 but not officially over. And if you were to reached an agreement there suitable to both sides it would give North Korea a sense of some security that they would -- they wouldn't have be in danger of a first strike for instance. But you know complete -- and I'll defer to the smarter folks on the panel. But complete denuclearization based on folks I talked to seems far- fetched.

COOPER: Gordon I mean, moving forward what is the U.S. need to be cautious about in this?

CHANG: Everything. I mean, this is the Kim regime after all. And they've been very good at this. You know, they've had a nuclear weapons program since at least 1965 maybe even since the end of the fighting in the Korean War in 1953.

But we have got a lot of high cards and we haven't played all of them yet. And so yes, of course, Kim doesn't want to give up his most destructive weapon. But then again, if he is put in a position where he might lose the regime he could very well decide to do that. So for instance, he may not have the money for gift politics which is giving of luxury items to senior regime elements to keep their loyalty. If he doesn't have cash to do that. The choice for him may be stay in power or give up nuks.

COOPER: That's critical for him to stay in power?

CHANG: Well, absolutely. That what has been the mantra of the Kim regime. The second thing that they need to do to stay in power is take over South Korea. And probably what Kim is thinking right now is if he starts a momentum of events then very well he'll be able to sort of submit -- to force South Korea into submission. Now that sounds ludicrous to us. But that's been the Kim family policy for 70 years.

COOPER: General Hertling just how important are the joint nuclear exercises with South Korea that the United States does. I understand they would be something -- potentially on the negotiating table when people say a freeze for a freeze?

HERTLING: Right and that's the one step I was going to go, the joint military exercises are extremely important. And when you take a look -- again the setting of the trap -- is there a leaning toward the potential of a deal that would get some or all of U.S. forces off the peninsula that would disrupt the alliance that we've had for 70 years. If that were to occur and not trying to go too far forward too fast but that would be significant to both Russia and China.

Very insignificant -- I'm sorry, very problematic for the South Koreans and Japanese. But that's been a goal of Kim Jong-un. It's also been a goal of the Russians and Chinese to get U.S. forces off the peninsula. So is that part of the deal making? Is that what Kim is going to ask President Trump for? And we have seen a propensity for President Trump to say why do we have the forces on the peninsula? Who is paying for this? What kind of defensive measure?

Remember that was all part of the mantra during the campaign.

COOPER: Yes. General Mark Hertling, Gordon Chang, thank you. Jim Sciutto as well.

When we come back, breaking news from "The Washington Post", Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatening to quit with the President fires Rod Rosenstein. Plus the latest in the Stormy Daniels' courtroom drama. What happened in federal court today in California? I'll talk to her attorney also tonight.


[21:16:52] COOPER: Breaking news from "The Washington Post" tonight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported told the White House that he might have to leave his job if the President fired Rod Rosenstein. The Post says Sessions called White House Counsel Don McGahn last weekend with that warning. Amid reporting that the President was furious with Rosenstein for authorization the ride on Michael Cohen's home and office. That come to CNN as also learning new details on the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote detailing his conversations with the President.

The Justice Department watchdog group is now investigating whether any classified information was improperly shared. A lot of get to with our panel, Gloria Borger, Van Jones, Rich Lowry, Maria Cardona, Scott Jennings and Jennifer Rodgers.

Gloria, I mean, this move by Sessions, is that -- would that be good news to President Trump, the idea that Jeff Sessions would resign if Rod Rosenstein was fired?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, he might think two for the price of one here. Because he doesn't like Jeff Sessions and he doesn't like Rod Rosenstein. So he might think OK well I didn't know that. Maybe I should do that.

On the other hand, it's very clear that Jeff Sessions' message to Don McGahn was, look if this were to occurred you would have a revolt on your hands in the Justice Department. And that would be a real problem. And that Sessions was very happy to learn that in the meeting that Rosenstein had with the President last Friday in which we are reporting that Rosenstein apparently told the President that he had no legal jeopardy in the Michael Cohen case, that the President was pretty happy with that news and maybe with Rosenstein. So maybe now he won't fire him. And Jeff Sessions will be happy. Who knows?

COOPER: Rich, would be it a problem politically for the President if he fired Rosenstein and Sessions quit?

RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Yes it sure would. And I think anything he does to move against Mueller almost any form now would risk causing a semi collapse in his justice department. And he would not be able to get confirmed A.G. or a Deputy A.G. to replace him. So it would be a crisis of legitimacy in his Justice Department. I just think even though he is irritated at the probe obviously, he hates the way it widened out there is really no good alternative other than weathering it.

COOPER: Jennifer, are you surprised to hear Sessions essentially going about for Rosenstein?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS: A little bit. Except you know -- it's his deputy so he should support him. But it's heartening to see that Sessions doesn't seem to be buying into the narrative of some of the Trump surrogates that Rosenstein has already done things that warrant his firing. So at least to me he is supporting him to that extend which I think is a good thing.


MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm glad to hear Rich say that, it would be a bad thing because I think in the minds of too many people especially people who support Trump, firing Rosenstein wouldn't be as bad as firing Mueller. And to me I completely agree with you. Firing Rosenstein would be just as bad as firing Mueller. Because it's an attempt to get the Mueller investigation out of the way. So I think that and even if it's a double way with Sessions would certainly I think cause a constitutional crisis. And then would cause whether it's Republicans trying to put something in place to protect Mueller, whatever you have it, I think it would be a bad sign for the Trump campaign.

COOPER: Scott.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, this confirmation issue is real. I mean, look how much trouble they had confirming the NASA guy the other day. They had to twist arms and we don't have the space shuttle anymore.

[21:20:02] I mean, Pompeo is having issues. We've got CIA comes up. We've got the V.A. that's going to be coming up. Throwing two more shrimps on this confirmation Barbie would be a huge disaster and lead this department rudderless and leaderless. They should not move on these guys besides. Sessions is implementing the President's agenda and he is doing a good job.

COOPER: That's the thing, Van, about Sessions, I mean, not only was he -- the earliest supporter of candidate Trump. To Scott's point maybe more than anybody else he is pushing the President's agenda forward fast --

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: He is most Trumpian of the Trump team and yet the most despised, the most spat on, the least respected. And that's kind of the Trump style. The closer you are to him, the worst he treats -- his sense of loyalty is very bizarre.

But what we're seeing are institutions buckling and strange but not breaking under Trump's antics and his fits and his bluster and his threats. You are seeing the institutions holding on. And if a Sessions were to leave, don't forget, this is a former senator. So you have -- you know, he can pick up the phone and call a whole bunch of people to his defense in the U.S. Senate.

So far the Republican leadership has basically been quiet while Trump acted this way. We don't like the tweets. But once you start wrecking institutions senators tend to start making a lot more noise.

BORGER: Here is the irony that you'd have Chuck Schumer and every Democrat who doesn't like Jeff Sessions going out there and defending Sessions.


BORGER: Do not fire Jeff Sessions whatever you do.

COOPER: Just on the Comey memos how big a deal is that the inspector general is looking into whether Comey -- basically there was classified information in the memos that Comey leaked out. And also to a wider circle of people than previously perhaps now.

RODGERS: Yes. Well, on the one hand it's a huge deal, right? I mean, any time the inspector general is looking at conduct like that, you know, they will where they find facts, make criminal referrals. So, you know, it's not good news for Comey in that sense if it leads to anything.

On the other hand the key issue here to the extent that you're thinking ahead to a possible obstruction case is, is Comey credible? Is what he said in testimony and what he says in the memos, is that the true version? And you know, whether there was classified information and classified after the fact in these memos or not doesn't get to that key issues. So on the one hand yes a potential problem for Comey but on the other hand not really to the heart of it.

JENNINGS: I think Comey's credibility has suffered mightily this week. I don't think his interviews have gone well. I mean I think we had a guy who was sort of known as just the facts man go to a guy who is now just a hack man. I mean, he has been petty, he has been small. I think a lot of people in the FBI don't like it that he has put that organization in the position by releasing a book during the middle of an investigation. And now you throw the memo issue being investigated on top of it, I've been in the P.R. business for a few years. This is not going right.

COOPER: Any time you have to say you regret putting something in the book which you just wrote that's not a good thing. I mean he said regretted sort of some of the personal comments about the President.

CARDONA: Except for Comey right now has more credibility than Donald Trump.

JENNINGS: Does he?

CARDONA: Yes he does.

JENNINGS: I don't know if that's true.

CARDONA: But here is the point. I had to chuckle when I heard about the inspector general, because this is exactly what he did to Hillary. So maybe, Anderson, he will deemed as having been extremely careless in his handling of classified information.

COOPER: Rich, do you think the memos, that have came out that -- you know, just came on yesterday and of course were instantly leaked to have hurt the President at all?

LOWRY: No I don't think so. I think -- it depends on where you sit on this and how you squint on look at them. But -- and he actually wanted to be investigated. He says look there is a salacious story about me in Russia. Can you investigate it? Because it's not true. And then he actually tells Comey if there are satellites around me who did something wrong with regard to Russia I want to know. And I think -- my read of this memo is what really irritated him was that Comey was repeatedly saying you, sir aren't under investigation. And the President, can you get that out because there is enormous cloud on me can you please tell someone that that's the case. And I think that Comey didn't do that ultimately was the reason that Trump fired him rather than trying to shut down the investigation.

COOPER: We got to get a quick break in. More on Michael Cohen when we come back, including what he reportedly tried to tell Melania Trump at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year about Stormy Daniels.

Also breaking news tonight about Stormy Daniels former attorney and whether he is cooperating with prosecutors in the criminal investigation of Michael Cohen.


[21:28:26] COOPER: Well, nearly two weeks after federal agents raided Michael Cohen's office and hotel room for documents related to the President. The conversation has now shifted to whether or not Cohen would flip on him to avoid potential jail time here is what Maggie Haberman have to say in the last hour.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Michael Cohen has already done all kinds of things at the President's urging because the President wanted him to because he came to sort of intuit what he thought the President would want. It didn't know it was work out sometimes those things were handled in a way that was other ham fisted or that came back to bite the President later. The Stormy Daniels case would be one of them.

But Cohen was basically trying to do right by his boss and was seeking his boss's approval. And Trump time after time Trump treated him -- you know, Trump is very fan of using the phase like a dog. He treated Cohen quite poorly over a period of time.


COOPER: It's a fascinating article. I should also say, I think I misspoke they were looking for documents related to the President. We don't know exactly what they were looking for in the documents that they seized.

There is more breaking news tonight first broken by the Washington Posts and now confirmed by CNN, is about the former lawyer for both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. His name is Keith Davidson. Tonight we learned he is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the Michael Cohen investigation.

Back with the panel.

Just from a legal standpoint, Jennifer, how problematic is that for Michael Cohen that now you have another lawyer it seems like Stormy Daniels attorney is cooperating with the authorities here and now Keith Davidson who seemed to have a number of contacts basically on the Karen McDougal case as well as the Stormy Daniels case with Michael Cohen and possibly others?

[21:30:01] RODGERS: Well, that's very interesting because it is strange that the same lawyer would have happened to represented those two people.

COOPER: It's sort of his specialty from what understand?

RODGERS: Well, if Karen McDougal's allegations are correct though he was complicit with Michael Cohen in putting all of this together. And was not working in hurt --

COOPER: But he denies that he was complicit. He said he gave Cohen just a courtesy call but --

RODGERS: Right, understood but still again, it's a weird coincide that he ended up with both of them. And if he is cooperating and admitting to some sort of conspiracy between him and Michael Cohen about hushing all of this up on terms favorable to Cohen and therefore Trump then it could be real trouble for them.

COOPER: It's also not clear as I said what the authorities have on Michael Cohen. I mean, we have really no idea there is things that are leaked out that was in the search warrant, about taxi medallions and we don't know how much of this is about Stormy Daniels stuff, how much is about prior stuff?

BORGER: Right. Well, the search warrant was a lot about the Stormy Daniels stuff. The search warrant did mention the President. And I think one of the reasons Davidson is so furious is the story that we did which was that Michael Cohen had actually taped his conversations with Davidson, which pleased him not too much. So Davidson is furious. He is cooperating. We don't know what's on those conversations. And these two lawyers worked together a couple of times that we know of and maybe more. You know, we don't know. COOPER: The other thing is not only do we not know what Michael Cohen has -- I mean if I'm the President of the United States I'm not really sure -- I assume he is not sure what Michael Cohen has nor would the President's attorneys be sure what Michael Cohen has on their client. If anything.

JONES: Here is the big take away. If you have sleazy lawyers around you doing sleazy things, you might not want to run for President, because at some point it may turn out though sleazy lawyers doing sleazy things get caught up in sleazy controversies and get sleaze on you.

So the best you can say about the situation is that -- you know, Donald Trump has horrible judgment in who he hangs around. And -- I'll say, just one more thing. I don't think it's unreasonable that Donald Trump is upset about all of this. I mean just as a practical matter, if your lawyer, you know, turned out had his office raided you wouldn't like that. That's fine. But the problem that you have though is that this is a lawyer who at least according to Donald Trump goes and freelances, throwing money at porn stars and does weird stuff in your name. And you know, that's where the peril comes from. Donald Trump has sent him on terrible missions. But he has also apparently thought up his own terrible missions. And so that's why he is in trouble.

COOPER: Well, also, Rich, what's fascinating about Maggie Haberman's article in the "Times" today is that Donald Trump has treated Michael Cohen terribly over the years. And now the tables are sort of turned. And you know Michael Cohen has publicly said I'd always take a bullet for the President. But at a certain point are you really going to take a bullet for somebody who has treating you like this? I mean, I had no idea the extent to which he has been belittled this person, mocked him publicly, privately it's stunning.

LOWRY: It's hard to know though where Michael Cohen's head is really at. It just may be that his identity is so caught up in Donald Trump that he is not going to turning even though --

COOPER: Because reading the article I kept saying to myself why is he --

LOWRY: You would turn, right?

COOPER: Well, no, but why has he stuck it out with Mr. Trump for so long?

LOWRY: He has been around rich and famous people and the center of power in a way he never would have been.

COOPER: That's not that interesting. I've been pretty -- over the years I've met a lot of rich and famous they're not particularly interesting.

LOWRY: If you're around them all the time that might be your field but if you weren't around them at all and being an --

COOPER: He is not making that much money if he took a home equity loan out for $130 to pay off Stormy Daniels?

BORGER: Well, and the other thing is he has a family. And he is going to be staring down the barrel of possible indictment, you know, life -- or a lot of time in prison. So he might take a bullet for him. But if he is staring down that barrel there is going to be some incentive for him to flip. And to continue your analogy if you are having sleazy lawyers doing sleazy things presumably on your behalf maybe you don't want to throw them under the bus and treat them like dogs.

COOPER: Scott.

JENNINGS: I was sad about the story. I mean this is a groan, you know what, man running up to another man and having the papers knocked out of his hands.

COOPER: I did. I felt that. I totally agree.

JENNINGS: I was sad. I've also been thinking about this story before this article came out. I've been thinking this man is a candidate for Presidential pardon if ever was one. But then I see the way Trump treats Cohen in the way he views him and I'm like, is he? I don't know and I -- if I were Cohen and seeing that this relationship damage is splashed out there and I'm thinking maybe I'll get a pardon out of all this I don't know, Gloria. I mean --

BORGER: Well, except -- I don't know. I think the family treats him the same way honestly. I think that his original relationship was with Don Jr. I don't know where that relationship is now. But Jared and Ivanka are not close to him. He wasn't brought into the White House.

[21:35:03] RODGERS: Right.

BORGER: He wanted to go into this White House. And he was left behind.

COOPER: Jennifer.

RODGERS: I mean, whether he likes him or not or how close they are or not, the combination of four days after the raid, the pardon of Scooter Libby with the call from Trump to Cohen tells me that's a signal to Cohen. Even if you're out of my order, I don't like you anymore, stay put, stay strong, the pardon will come.

COOPER: Everybody, thank you for the panel. One quick note Van Jones is back tomorrow night with Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards. You can see them on the Van Jones Show tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next on this program fired FBI Director James Comey doesn't hold back and talks about what he sees as emptiness in the President unlike any other adult. He said it to David Remnick, the editor at the New Yorker, I'll speak with David next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: More now on James Comey. Last night the fired FBI director continued his book tour with a public event here in New York City. Comey answered questions from David Remnick, who of course is the editor for the New Yorker magazine. The interview is going to be featured on this weekend's New Yorker radio hour podcast and on public radio stations around the country. Here a key moment from the interview.


DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, "THE NEW YORKER": He said earlier today in an interview that you don't hate the President. You don't even dislike him. I'll let that pitch go by.

[21:40:00] JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: That was funny. My wife asked me the same question after she saw the interview. And the answer is I dislike many of the things he does. Him as a person I actually -- it's was going to sound odd. I actually kind of feel sorry for.

REMNICK: How so?

COMEY: I think -- I've said this before it's a hard thing to say. But I think he has an emptiness inside of him and a hunger for affirmation I've never seen in an adult. And I'm in the saying that to be funny. I think that he lacks external reference points. And instead of calling -- making hard decisions by calling upon a religious tradition or logic or tradition or history. It's all what will fill this hole.


COOPER: Well, David Remnick joins me tonight with more on the interview.

I thought it was interesting one of the things James Comey said to you is that the President is partly driven by what he described as a hunger for affirmation.

REMNICK: It's kind of amazing that at once he has a hunger for affirmation and at the same time he is trying to put the arms on him in a which that Comey describes as mafia-like.

COOPER: Um-hum.

REMNICK: But this is consistent with other people's reaction to Trump's personalities. After all I believe it was you who in a Presidential debate said, you know, you're answering this question like a 5-year-old.


REMNICK: It's not uncommon reaction. But to have -- how bizarre is this? The former head of the FBI is psychoanalyzing the President of the United States as a child.

COOPER: And saying he was like a mafia boss. I mean --

REMNICK: That too.

COOPER: The former -- I mean --

REMNICK: And this is a guy is very experienced with the mafia.

COOPER: But things are so -- you know, things become so unusual at a certain point that it starts to seems normal. OK, yes, now he is saying that the President is like a mafia boss. And then you step and you're like, this is the former head of the FBI.

REMNICK: And this is our daily lives.

COOPER: I know.

REMNICK: How unusual this is

COOPER: I know.

REMNICK: Every day is something that in another presidency is unimaginable. Unimaginable. If you filled in Obama for Trump for half of the things that we hear about you would -- it's unthinkable. Unthinkable.

COOPER: In one of the memos Comey wrote that the President told him that the hooker's thing isn't true. But also that Putin had told him Russia is, "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world." I mean --

REMNICK: Yes, but I think it's possible -- I don't want to necessarily say it's true -- that Trump -- I believe Putin. Excuse me. I believe Comey that Trump said that.

COOPER: Trump said that.

REMNICK: Trump said that. But I believe Trump once said this in a television interview in Russia, on Russian television. And it's not entirely impossible that Trump in his mind -- because his mind works in peculiar ways thought that he said it to him on the telephone.

COOPER: It's something I could variously see the President just making up. I mean, he made up that -- Prior that he used to have a relationship with Putin.

REMNICK: Remember Putin on television in an interview did say we have the most beautiful hookers in the world. That's a typical Putin half a dirty joke kind of remark.

COOPER: Comey wrote that the President insisted to him that he did not spend the night in Moscow during his trip in 2013 in Russia --

REMNICK: He did spend the night.

COOPER: He did. Yes. REMNICK: Yes. During the Miss Universe Contest as your colleague and mine Jeff Toobin reported in "The New Yorker" and other reporters have recounted in their meticulous reporting on his short trip to Moscow that he did spend the night.

COOPER: The problem with discrepancies in what the President says is that one doesn't know if there is meaning behind it or if it's just stuff that the President makes up.

REMNICK: Well, the greater meaning -- the greater meaning is that he lies. He lies just for the hell of it sometimes. He lies sometimes because he doesn't remember it and he just says stuff. He lies sometimes because he has to get out of a jam. He lies copiously and all the time. I mean this is not some ideological statement I'm making.

COOPER: Do you think that anything Comey has said either in the book or in those memos or in an interviews has shed light on the President's approach to Vladimir Putin and the lack of criticism that the President has made directly about Vladimir Putin?

REMNICK: No, I don't think in that area there was anything of tremendous importance. I think there was -- what was important vis-a- vis -- not important vis-a-vis Putin himself, what's important is the decision making process that Comey is making. I found it very curious and really -- I'm confounded by the idea that Comey failed to and refused to join in the intelligence statement about Russian meddling in the election, even though he agreed with it. But by having the FBI stay out of it and leaving it to the DNI, CIA, he aroused conspiracy theories that somehow the FBI didn't agree with it. I found that decision very confounding both in the book and in our interview.

COOPER: David thanks very much.

REMNICK: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Just a quick programming note next Wednesday I'm going to sit down with James Comey for a live Town Hall interview, that's 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

[21:45:03] Coming up tonight a necessary delay in the Stormy Daniels case. Michael Cohen's lawyers asking for one. The latest from court and reaction from Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti next.


COOPER: New courtroom drama in the legal fight involving Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels. Cohen's attorney is asking the judge to put the adult film star's lawsuit on hold after the FBI raided his client's office, home, and hotel room. The judge is refusing to make a ruling until he hears directly from Mr. Cohen.

In a moment, I'll speak with Stormy Daniels' attorney. But first, I want to get more insight on how this all played out today. Our National Correspondent Miguel Marquez joins us from the Los Angeles courtroom house with details. So Miguel explains what happened in court today?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, big picture was the judge and the lawyers, but in particular the judge was really trying to understand how the criminal case in New York and the civil case here in California, where they overlap, how much they overlap, and if they do overlap, can both situations move forward at the same time or does there have to be a stay here for 30, 60, or 90 days as Michael Cohen's attorneys are asking, so that they can sort out the issues in New York before moving forward here in California with the civil case, Anderson.

[21:50:26] COOPER: Miguel Marquez. Miguel, thanks.

There's something else that played out in court today. Michael Cohen's attorney mentioned something that Stormy Daniels' attorney has said, claiming that Cohen could be indicted in the next 90 days.

Joining me now is Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti.

Michael, what do you make of Michael Cohen's legal team using in court today your own timetable for what you say could be a potential criminal indictment against him in New York, basically trying to use that against you to try to slow down your civil lawsuit.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, I thought, Anderson, it was cute. But beyond that, it wasn't very effective. I mean, the judge isn't going to make a decision based on the timetable that I've provide publicly. He's going to make a decision based on competent, admissible evidence, and he found, to quote him, that their motion, their attempt had gaping holes, closed quote, in connection with it.

So, you know, I think they're in a bad place as relates to this motion. And I think the judge sees through it. I don't know what he's going to ultimately rule, but we were very, very pleased with how the hearing went today.

And, you know, this is really a continuation, Anderson, of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen, trying to be cute in their approach to things. It's no different than Donald Trump not signing the NDA. I mean, now we have Michael Cohen not wanting to go on record and submit a document that states unequivocally that it's his intention to plead the Fifth Amendment. The reason why he doesn't want to do that is, they don't want to face scrutiny from you and others in the media as to the seriousness of that. I mean, we're talking about the personal attorney to the President of the United States that's going to plead the fifth as it relates to issues directly at the feet of the President.

COOPER: You have no doubt that he would plead the fifth if you were able to depose him?

AVENATTI: I have little doubt, especially after today's hearing, and listening to what his counsel had to say. I mean, I think in the event that we get a deposition, I think we are, he's going to take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, and that's a rather shocking development.

COOPER: What's interesting about that, though, in mean in a criminal case, that is not supposed to impact how a jury or how a judge views the defendant or views that, as somebody pleading the fifth. In a civil case, as I understand that, the judge or the jury is allowed to actually infer that if Michael Cohen is pleading the fifth, that if he actually had to answer the question, it would not reflect well on him.

AVENATTI: You're absolutely right. In a federal civil matter, the jury or the judge, whoever the fact finder is in the particular case can draw what's called a negative inference, and can do just what you've described. That's not true in a criminal matter.

COOPER: President Trump's divorce attorney from many years ago told our Gloria Borger this week that he warned the President recently that Cohen would likely flip and cooperate with criminal federal investigators. I know that's something, obviously, you have been saying for quite some time. It was interesting to hear this guy who was an old friend of the President's, who's represented him in a number of divorce cases, essentially say on a scale of one to 100, Michael Cohen isn't even a one in terms of being reliable and not flipping?

AVENATTI: Yes, I saw that as well. I found it rather shocking. I mean, I've been saying that he's not even a one as it relates to legal competence, but I was a little surprised to hear that relating to the one to 100 on a loyalty scale.

But it's fairly obvious, Anderson, at this point, that Michael Cohen and you're right, I've been saying this for weeks, Michael Cohen is not going to subject himself to 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 years in a federal prison for Donald Trump, who has never shown him or at least not recently has shown him no loyalty, kicked him to the curb, blew him off when he went to Washington. I mean, why would Michael Cohen take that large a round, that large a bullet for Mr. Trump? It would make no sense and it would be a stupid decision on Michael Cohen's part.

COOPER: Earlier in the week, you released a sketch. It's the sketch that Stormy Daniels had given to a sketch artist. And I know you put out a Web site. Have you gotten a lot of responses for it? Can you say anything about it?

AVENATTI: We've gotten over 2,000 leads. I would describe probably about 400 of those as being credible. We're spending an enormous amount of time and energy running those to ground. You know, I think a number of them have or show promise. We're going to be very, very careful, though, Anderson, as you might imagine, as it relates to identifying that individual and certainly, before we announce anything, because the consequences can be so high.

COOPER: Michael Avenatti, Michael, thanks.

AVENATTI: Thank you.

[21:54:52] COOPER: Up next, George H.W. Bush greets mourners in Houston as they pay their respects to his wife of 73 years, former first lady, Barbara Bush.


COOPER: Hundreds of people lined up early this morning to pay their respects to the late former first lady, Barbara Bush. Her husband, former President George H.W. Bush greeted mourners as they walked past her casket in a church in Houston where they worshipped. Barbara Bush died Tuesday at the age of 92. The funeral is tomorrow. A life well lived. An extraordinary lady

Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.