Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Source: Kelly Said the President Was Becoming "Unhinged;" Stormy Daniels Files Defamation Suit Against President Trump; V.P. Pence's Physician Alerted White House About Ronny Jackson Last Fall; Wall of Untruth; Israel Says Iran "Lies" About Nuclear Program; President Trump: "I've Been 100 Percent Right As Israel Claims To Have Proof Of Secret Iranian Nuclear Program; "New York Times" Obtains Questions That Special Counsel Wants To Ask Trump. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 30, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news from the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly is denying a report that he used the word "idiot" to describe the president. And now, his office is pushing back on our reporting that Kelly used another unflattering word to describe his boss.
CNN Senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown joins us with details.
What are you learning, Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson a senior administration official tells my colleague Jeremy Dimon that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told senior national security officials last month that he believed the president was becoming, quote, unhinged, a sign viewed by the members of that meeting that Kelly has grown increasingly frustrated with President Trump in recent months.
Now, the official said he made the comment in a, quote, moments of frustration calling the president unhinged at a meeting with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Joseph Dunford, and senior National Security Council officials. But Kelly's comment Anderson came as the officials deliberated on the future of the U.S. effort in Syria and following Trump's off-the-cuff comments, saying that he was determined to get U.S. troops out of the country, Anderson.
COOPER: And what's John Kelly saying in response?
BROWN: Well, John Kelly released a statement earlier today in response to another story, an NBC report that he called the president an idiot in a recent meeting.
John Kelly releasing this statement saying: I spend more time the president than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total B.S. I'm committed to the president, his agenda and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes.
Also, Anderson, I spoke with John Kelly's deputy Zachary Fuentes in the White House tonight. He promptly denied that Kelly ever called the president unhinged, saying that Kelly has deep respect for the office of the presidency and for President Trump himself. Fuentes says that's not a word that Kelly would use first of all and that Kelly wouldn't tolerate that kind of criticizing of the president of the United States as someone who has served in the military as a marine.
But he did acknowledge, Anderson, that Kelly and the president do have disagreements from time to time as any chief of staff and president would. He explained oftentimes their disagreements come out of mutual respect of challenging each other's opinions, but in the end, Kelly will carry out whatever decision the president makes and he says that they should be able to have a candid conversation and be allowed to let their hair down behind closed doors, Anderson.
COOPER: I understand, the president is also tweeting his response.
BROWN: That's right no surprise here that the president took to Twitter in the wake of these reports.
And here's what the president said: The fake news is going crazy, making up false stories and using only unnamed sources who don't exist in parentheses, they are totally unhinged and the great success of this administration is making them do and say things that even they can't believe they are saying, truly bad people.
This is a consistent theme as you know Anderson with the president calling the new -- the media fake news, saying that the sources don't exist, which is simply not true. But, of course, you know, this is his chief of staff and so it's no surprise that he would want to weigh in, especially when the news broke, that NBC report broke when the president and John Kelly were in the Oval Office together and at that point John Kelly denied that he ever said anything like that about the president.
COOPER: This is just another instance though of tension between Kelly and President. What's the bigger picture here in terms of their relationship?
BROWN: Well, big picture here in talking to several White House officials, Anderson, is that there has been some deterioration of their relationship and Kelly's standing in the West Wing. It's been publicly evident at times with what Kelly has said and done. As you'll remember, his remark on Fox News that Trump's views have evolved on immigration.
You know, there was the off-the-record meetings, the fact that he was in the hot water over the porter situation and then held those off- the-record meetings with reporters, some of that actually leaked out, the elevation of Kudlow and Bolton and the fact that they had direct access to the president. And then, of course, as we reported last week, the president returning to use his personal cell phone in recent weeks as a way to potentially get around Kelly.
But I will say there are others, and I spoke to Kelly's deputy about this as well, who sort of pushed back at that notion, saying that, look, these are two men you have a great relationship. They have mutual respect for each other. Yes, they disagree, but that doesn't mean that, you know, that the president wants Kelly out or that Kelly wants to leave.
So, it sort of depends on who you talked to in terms of understanding the dynamic between the two men and Kelly's standing in the West Wing, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Pamela Brown, thanks very much. Stay with us.
COOPER: I want to bring in our Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who served with Kelly in Iraq.
Gloria, I know you've been talking to sources as well.
[20:05:01] What's the latest you're hearing?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I want to echo a little bit about what Pamela said because the sources I talked to who are friends of the president say that he's been unhappy and complaining about Kelly privately for a number of reasons. One of them was that he was unhappy when he told members of Congress that the president, you know, wasn't fully informed on this question of immigration. Also, he kind of rankled it the way that he felt that that Kelly had botched the Rob Porter security clearance issue, and that he really didn't like the way that Kelly had isolated him from his friends.
You know, he used to call his friends all the time, I'm told that now sometimes he retreats actually to the Situation Room to call his friends, so he can have some privacy even though his Pamela reports, that he did get his cellphone back but he -- you know, he had to retreat there to get some -- to get some access to the people he's used to talking to every day.
COOPER: Wait. Wait a minute. Sorry, I just want to make sure I heard you right.
COOPER: You're saying the president United States goes into the Situation Room to get away from the chief of staff and call his friends?
BORGER: Well, I am told by one friend of the president's and on more than one occasion, he has been called by the president from the Situation Room, yes.
COOPER: Wow. General Hertling, I mean, you know General Kelly. Does any of this ring true to you that he might be critical the president in private that he might be frustrated even going so far as calling the president unhinged or an idiot?
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Chief of Staff Kelly, I won't call him general because he's out of that position now, has been brought up in a military organization where demeanor and professionalism and character are all very important to leadership because it helps establish trust. But the other thing that's important here, Anderson, is that personalities matter and context is important whenever you're talking about how you deal with other people and under what situations.
When I was working with John Kelly in northern Iraq and he was in western Iraq, I always saw him to be professional, his demeanor was always calm, he was cool, collected under the stresses of combat, but I can imagine that the stressors of the White House are much greater than what any of us might have experienced in combat.
So, I'm sure there is some time for venting of anger, venting of frustrations and sometimes when people are around you maybe some of these sources that you're hearing from, when they hear that venting, they take it a lot more seriously or on the other hand, there's somebody in the White House or many people in the White House that are out to get General Kelly. I don't know.
COOPER: Pamela, I mean, the fact that president took to Twitter tonight in fairly short order to push back on these reports -- I mean, how rattled does he get by stories at the West Wing is hobbled by friction?
BROWN: He does not like it, to say the least. In fact, officials I speak with say that oftentimes, the president will be more focused on the negative publicity more than what the report is actually about. In other words he doesn't like it when there are negative story surrounding people close to him.
He views it as a distraction, taken away from him and what he is working on. And I think you can see that reflected. Not only with the president taking to Twitter to push back on this, but also and the on-the-record statement from the chief of staff himself, which is pretty unusual. That's not something that you get every day from John Kelly, despite all of the numerous stories that that, you know, are out there about John Kelly, Anderson.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean, how much has Kelly's influence waned. You know, we've heard all those stories about the president kind of feeling more, you know, capable to do stuff on his own, the whole issue with the phone.
I mean, if Kelly were to ever leave by choice or otherwise, is there any indication right now the president believes he even needs another chief of staff?
BORGER: I think -- I think the president probably believes that he can run the White House by himself the way he ran the Trump Organization. However, there's no doubt that if Kelly were to leave, he would need another chief of staff. But that person would have to understand that this is a different Donald Trump they're dealing with.
This is someone who now he's got it, he's figured out how to run the White House. He's bringing in people he wants he's comfortable with. That's why, for example, he wanted, you know, he wanted his personal doctor to go run the V.A., for example, and that he thinks he can do it alone, and he is the one -- make no mistake about it -- any new chief of staff would have to realize that he is the one who would be making all of the decisions and would be running the White House the way he wants to run the White House, with an open door policy, inviting people to come in and chat all the time.
And so, it would be a very, very different kind of chief of staff and a very different role from the one that we're used to seeing in any White House.
BROWN: And can I just jump in --
BROWN: -- very quickly, Anderson, if that's OK? Because I do think it's important, you know, to get the other -- to Kelly's side on this now that even his office is coming forward and being on the record.
They're saying, they're claiming that, look, Kelly's influence isn't waning here, that essentially when Kelly came in, people would just walk into the Oval Office willy-nilly then Kelly put an order. And now, people will still go directly to the president but then back channel to Kelly to fill him in on what's going on.
So, while it may appear that his influence is diminishing, he's on the Oval Office as much, it's more of the structure that Kelly has put into place there.
COOPER: General Hertling -- sorry, go ahead.
HERTLIN: Yes. You know, what I'd say too to add to that and Pamela brings up a very good point, we're now in post first year of Mr. Trump. We are now getting into some pretty intense situations, more so than some of the things he experienced with the domestic issues. He's now involved in foreign affairs. There are multiple issues happening all around the world that he's having influence on or attempting to have influence.
And after a year of experience, I think the president believes he can do these things. You know, Chief Kelly, Chief of Staff Kelly, spent 40 years with intergovernmental affairs, multinational affairs, knowing the inner workings of government I'm sure that he is extremely frustrated to see someone who perhaps doesn't have the experience doing some things based on gut feel that Chief Kelly knows are probably going to go south very quickly unless he intercedes in some of these things.
So, I'm sure that's contributing a lot to the frustrations as well. BORGER: You know, I think the problem generally is the unpredictability of the president. You wake up in the morning. You see what he's tweeted. It may not be the thing that you talked about the night before.
It may set the day in a totally different direction from the one you wanted or you had planned on, and the unpredictability of the president's views are also something that I think probably rankles anybody who tries to work with him on particular issues. And I'm sure Kelly is one of those people who has had that kind of a problem.
COOPER: General --
HERTLING: The chief of staff, too, I would suggest that John Kelly's main purpose in life is to control an established process and make things go smoothly. He's working for a guy where he has no control, the processes are all eschew and things never go smoothly as Gloria just said, you wake up and it's always a new set of dynamics on a daily basis. That's got to drive a chief of staff who's trying to set an agenda crazy.
General Hertling, thanks very much. Gloria Borger, Pamela Brown as well. Pamela, stay with us.
Well, actually, coming up, another lawsuit by Stormy Daniels has been filed, this one accusing the president of defamation over a tweet he posted. I'll speak with her attorney next.
Also ahead, more breaking news tonight about the allegations against Dr. Ronny Jackson who's withdrawn as the president's pick to head the V.A. What we're learning, next.
[20:16:40] COOPER: Tonight, there's a new lawsuit against the president over one of his tweets. The porn star Stormy Daniels is suing the president for defamation. This is separate from her lawsuit against the president's attorney Michael Cohen. The new lawsuit is over the sketch of a man who Daniel says threatened her years ago after talking about her alleged sexual encounter with the president.
The president tweeted, quote, a sketch years later about a non- existent man, a total con job playing the fake news media for fools, but they know it.
Joining me now is Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti, and CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan, former professor of media law at Seton Hall University.
So, Michael, explain to me how you -- how -- why filed this defamation suit and how you -- how the president defamed Stormy Daniels with that tweet.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Well, Anderson, we made it known in the day after the president sending this tweet that we were going to bring this case. We were considering whether to bring it in Los Angeles, in connection with the other lawsuit or a separate lawsuit. We decided to file it here.
You know, we believe effectively that the president called my client a liar --
COOPER: By saying it's a con job?
AVENATTI: That by saying it's a con job, and effectively accused her of committing a crime, in that it's -- she maintains that she was assaulted by the side of her car, difference between assault and battery, but she was assaulted at the side of her car, and she identified this individual by way of this sketch, which took a considerable amount of time to prepare and publish. And we want to hold the president accountable for his statement.
COOPER: Paul, I mean, reading the case file, is this a provable case of defamation? Because defamation against a public figure, it's a higher bar than it is against somebody who's not, right?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and you know, Anderson, defamation cases -- even good defamation cases are hard to win in court, and because they're of the discovery involved in proving actual damages in the case. But this case I think is going to be extraordinarily difficult.
And the defense will be that this is simply an expression of opinion by the president, which he's allowed to express and that is considered non-defamatory under defamation law. And also because Stormy Daniels has really voluntarily become a public figure herself, you now have the additional burden that Michael will have to prove that the president acted with actual malice in making the statements that he did.
And I think there's a very, very strong likelihood that this case will get tossed by a judge in early stage.
COOPER: Do you find that malice would be something hard to prove that the person that has towards Stormy Daniels?
AVENATTI: I think it probably will be hard to prove, Anderson. But two points, I mean, first of all, I've been proven hard cases my entire career and I'm confident in this one. And secondly, if the president continues to do what he's done over the last seven weeks, he's going to probably take a lot of steps to help us along the way. I mean, he's going to probably be the second best attorney for us on the case, and I'm confident that he's going to help us.
COOPER: There are those -- you know, I've heard some legal analysts say that because your actual lawsuit against Michael Cohen has -- there's a 90-day stay, that this is some sort of maneuver either to, you know, keep the case going in some way in just a different avenue in the state of New York.
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, that's completely bogus. It's baseless, Anderson, because like I said, two weeks ago when the tweet was made, I made it known publicly at that time that we were going to be bringing a lawsuit or a claim over this tweet. I announced it publicly. It widely spread and we were either going to bring that claim in Los Angeles or bring it as a separate matter in a separate venue.
[20:20:02] And that was long before the state was issued. So, this has been in the works for some time.
CALLAN: But the question is, but why here in New York? The tweet was sent from Washington, D.C. by the president. Your client lives in California. It seems to me California would have been the more appropriate venue or possibly even Washington, D.C.
However, there are an awful lot of television stations here in New York, which a lot of people say that's the reason that you've decided to come to New York with the litigation.
AVENATTI: Well, if you've been paying attention, I don't have any problem getting on TV, number one. Number one, I could be on TV anywhere in the world at any given time at this point. So I don't need to file in New York to be on TV.
CALLAN: Well, it's nice to be able to walk directly into the studio in New York.
AVENATTI: Well, but I --
CALLAN: You're sitting here next to Anderson and not coming in via satellite.
AVENATTI: But I live -- I live -- let's be clear about something. I live in L.A. and my client actually lives in Dallas. She doesn't live in Los Angeles. So --
CALLAN: Well, Dallas would have been --
AVENATTI: So before you opine on my case, you probably should do your homework. She lives in Dallas. She doesn't live in L.A. We filed here in New York because the president is a resident of the state of New York. He's a resident of Trump Tower.
He's never formally changed his residency to the White House. In fact, he doesn't spend a lot of time there. He spends a lot of time down in Florida but not at the White House.
So, look, there's no question that been --
CALLAN: He's only been back to New York once since he was elected president.
COOPER: Does though filing this separate case, this can move forward even if there's a stay in the actual lawsuit. Is that correct?
AVENATTI: Absolutely. There's -- this case has nothing to do with the case in Los Angeles.
COOPER: Even though -- I mean, they are -- I mean, they're -- I mean, aren't they connected in some way because -- I mean, this sketch would not been put out if this lawsuit hadn't been filed?
AVENATTI: Well, not as --
COOPER: Legally, they're disconnected?
AVENATTI: Not exactly, I mean that the case in Los Angeles results from the NDA and our attempts to invalidate the NDA, and the defamation associated with claims that there was no affair by Michael Cohen. That's one issue. This issue is separate apart in that it relates to the tweet that was sent about two weeks ago by the president relating to this sketch and what he claims to be the non- existent man.
And let me make this point, how does the president know that the man is non-existent? If he knew nothing about this, had no involvement with Stormy Daniels, knew nothing of the agreement, knew nothing of the alleged threat, how does he know there was no non-existent man? That makes absolutely zero sense.
COOPER: In something like a defamation case, what is the -- if there is a judgment in Stormy Daniels' favor, is that a monetary judgment? How does that work?
AVENATTI: So, it's a monetary judgment that could be collected against the individual and in this case, it would be against Mr. Trump.
COOPER: And why not include -- has Michael Cohen said anything that you think is defamation against Stormy Daniels? I mean, could you see a day where you would include Michael Cohen in something like this?
AVENATTI: Not in this particular case, because he hasn't commented on the sketch or the alleged assault.
CALLAN: You know, on that -- and that's a great issue, Anderson. I thought -- I was just curious, Michael. On the issue of damages, she -- your client has made anywhere from 200 to 500 pornographic movies from what I've read about her, including --
AVENATTI: From what you've read or what you've seen?
CALLAN: No, no, from what I've read.
CALLAN: And some of the titles are great, but I would read them, but this is the children may be watching, so we'll -- so we'll avoid that. And the question is, she's suing for the damage of being called a liar and you have to prove damage to her reputation. Do you think that you have the realistic possibility of having a juror -- jury of ordinary people say that her reputation has been damaged? AVENATTI: Well, first of all, as you know, what we've pled is, is that per se defamation under New York law, and we don't have to prove special damages in connection with that, but we'll be prepared to prove special damages in the event that we're required to do so.
CALLAN: And what was the special damages?
AVENATTI: So, I'm confident that we're going to be able to put --
CALLAN: What would they be?
AVENATTI: You got to stop interrupting me.
CALLAN: Well, I'm just curious. What would the special damages be?
AVENATTI: So, all I'm asking is that you stop interrupting me. We're going to be able to prove special damages. We're going to be able to prove per se defamation what --
CALLAN: A judge in court --
AVENATTI: But you're not a judge, you're not a judge.
CALLAN: If you're in court, a judge is going to say to you --
CALLAN: What, sir, special damages are you proving here?
AVENATTI: And you know what, when I --
CALLAN: And what is your answer be?
AVENATTI: When I have a judge asked me that question, as opposed to somebody --
AVENATTI: How do you know that? You don't know anything about the case.
COOPER: Paul, are you arguing that just because somebody is --
AVENATTI: Is an adult star.
COOPER: -- is in an adult-film, that they cannot be defamed, that they cannot have --
CALLAN: Anderson, I've tried a lot of cases through the years, all right? And as a may a matter of principle, you're probably right, somebody who's made 500 pornographic films can be defamed in theory. But you put 12 ordinary people on a jury and say to them, award her money because somebody called her a liar, I think you'd have a hard time getting a substantial damage award.
Now, maybe you'd get a symbolic award, sometimes jurors say will award a dollar in damages to send a message that we won't tolerate this sort of thing, but actual damages justifying all of the effort that's gone into this lawsuit, I don't see it -- which means the lawsuit is a publicity lawsuit and a publicity stunt.
[20:25:08] And that's really all it is.
COOPER: All right. Final thought from you, Michael, and we've got to go.
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, clearly, it's not a publicity stunt. If we didn't think we had a good found basis for the lawsuit, we wanted to found it. And if I had a dollar for every time a guy that was unprepared to talk about something actually told me it was a publicity stunt or we weren't going to prevail, I want to be sitting here right now, I'd be on my own private island, Anderson. Thank you.
COOPER: All right. Michael Avenatti, Paul Callan, thanks very much.
There is breaking news tonight from "The Washington Post". The president has delayed his promised tariffs on steel and aluminum for Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The tariffs are now delayed until June 1st, according to "The Post".
Up next, more breaking news. The new allegations against Dr. Ronny Jackson who withdrew his V.A. nominee last week.
COOPER: Another CNN exclusive now. There are new allegations tonight against Dr. Ronny Jackson who withdrew as the president's pick to lead the V.A., and who's no longer the president's physician. The new information in a moment.
But, first, President Trump is attacking the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee who revealed the claims against Jackson last week. Among the allegations against the rear admiral -- improperly dispensing medicine at the White House, crashing a government vehicle and excessive drinking on the job.
Now, the president is defending Jackson and fired off a series of tweets about the scandal this weekend.
Here's one of them: The president said, quote, Secret Service suggested for me that Senator Jon Tester statements on Admiral Jackson are not true. There were no such findings, a horrible thing that we in D.C. must live with, just like phony Russian collusion, Tester should lose race in Montana, very dishonest and sick.
Well, it was on this program last Tuesday when Senator Tester first shared one of the most serious allegations against Jackson. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: And I understand he had a nickname in the White House, some of the White House staff?
SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: And it was -- there was the "candy man" because he handed out prescription drugs like they were candy.
COOPER: The White House doctor is nicknamed among some people in the White House was the "candy man".
TESTER: That's correct. That's correct. That's what we were told.
COOPER: That's not a nickname you want in a doctor?
COOPER: Well that was last week. The controversy is not over. As I mentioned, there are new allegations tonight. Manu Raju joins us with the details. So, I understand these allegations are from this past fall. What did you learned?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're learning that these serious concerns about Ronny Jackson's conduct did stretch back into last fall when the Vice President's physician raises alarms within the White House over Jackson's behavior and conduct. Now, tend this physician wrote three detailed memos that we have obtained that highly what the physician said was quote intimidating, an aggressive behavior that made the physician feel uncomfortable because of multiple conversations they had -- confrontations that they had over a medical issue involving the second lady of the United States Karen Pence.
Now, Pence's physician were made concerns to whereas officials last September that Jackson may have violated the HIPAA law which protects patient's rights involving when discussing the medical situation involving Mrs. Pence with senior White House officials and medical providers. Now, after being brief on the matter, Mrs. Pence did express her own concerns to the physician about a potential HIPAA violation and ask that the Vice President's chief of staff Nick Ayers inform the White House chief of staff John Kelly about what happened.
Now, afterwards Anderson, Pence's physician wrote in multiple memos, and having two very uncontrollable and intimating conversation with Jackson, including one which Jackson allegedly told the physician to quote let things go over the matter to help the physician's career. Now, Anderson, I'll read one thing the physician wrote about a meeting that they had. It's a meeting that was summoned by Dr. Jackson appears to have been in retribution. For me verbalizing concerns over the protection of the SLOTUS' medical information, that's referring the second lady of United States. And his inappropriate involvement in the decision making process of her care which is consistent with behavior that I have received from him in the past.
And Anderson, this is also consistent with allegations raised by this unnamed individual who raises those concern with Senator Tester over the past couple of weeks. COOPER: Let me just make it -- let me be clear about something you said previously before reading that letter. That the Vice President's attorney is saying that Jackson told him to let this go in order to help the Vice President's attorney -- excuse me the Vice President's doctor's career?
RAJU: That's right.
COOPER: So he's essentially saying that Jackson was threatening him.
RAJU: In some way, the physician is saying that that Jackson should quote, that inefficient that Jackson had let things go in order to help your career. This is what the physician wrote in one of those memos Anderson.
COOPER: How's the vice President's office responding?
RAJU: Well, the Vice President's office confirmed that the chief of staff Nick Ayers was informed about this episode by the Vice President's physician and Mr. Ayers referred the matter according to a spokeswoman to the Vice President's office to the quote "proper channels". The same spokeswoman also said that, Mrs. Pence also have been briefed and the facts and Mrs. Pence was quote, "grateful for the care she received" by quote, "all personnel involved". They consider the matter of close. The White House also declined to comment on Jackson's behalf.
But the White House official did tell me that ears informed, Kelly and deputy of chief staff Joe Hagen about the controversy last fall. Kelly got a copy of these memos, they referred the Pence doctor to the appropriate chain of command to the military and medical offices at the White House, but some clear what happened after that.
COOPER: And the President he's obviously been attacking Senator Tester. These concerns about Dr. Jackson came from both sides of the aisle, the Veterans Affairs committee right?
RAJU: Yes, no question about it. The Republicans on the Senate of Veterans Affairs Committee, were aware of some of these who some of sources were who came forward. And several of them told me they believe those are credible voices that need to be listen to and fully investigated. And a lot of them were military personnel.
Now just today Anderson, Johnny Isakson, the Republican chairs of Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate will not join in the presence of tax on Tester. He told our colleague Ted Barrett, that every senator has a right to exercise his or her option and Isakson told me last week, he didn't even try to stop Tester. And perhaps that's in part because the veteran's group too were uneasy about Jackson's nomination.
COOPER: Right, it's fascinating. Manu, thanks very much for the reporting.
Coming up, the Vice President visits a border town in California. It says, it's the beginning f the promise to build a wall. He also weighs in on the caravan of migrants for the statement that's false. We're keeping them honest, next.
[20:37:58] COOPER: Tonight, keeping them honest at the border, the border between United States and Mexico, and a border between what the Trump administration is saying and the facts. After traveling by bus, train and on foot for almost a month, about 100 migrants from Central America have arrived at U.S.-Mexico border trying to seek asylum. The President has vowed not to let them in to the country and use the caravan to push the need for more security the border and his wall.
Today Vice President Mike Pence was in the border town of Calexico, California and then another town nearby. He gave a speech and spoke with customs and border protection employees, and said this about the migrants.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: As President Trump said on Saturday night, this situation is a direct result of our weak immigration laws and our poorest border. This caravan like those who've gone before is also rightly understood as a deliberate attempt to undermine the laws of this country and the sovereignty of the United States.
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, there is no attempt to undermine the laws of the country. These migrants are seeking asylum which allows people fleeing prosecution to live legally in a different country. Now you can disagree whether or not they should be granted that asylum, that's up to you, but there's nothing actually unlawful about asking. In fact, international law requires countries to hear their request. These migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where more than 75% of applicants from those countries were rejected between 2011-2016. Still, the law is clear they have a right to try. Pence also said this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, we are protecting the American people by securing our southern border. And we are building a wall on the southern border of the United States of America. And let me make you a promise. When it comes to the border wall, we're going to build it all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So the vice President says we are building a wall in southern border, keeping them honest, however we are not actually building a wall in the southern border. No matter how many times the President and his administrator say it, no matter how many times the President tweets it, it has not started, it's not been funded. It is not being build right now.
[20:40:07] This is a movie we've seen before. Listen to what the President said to a crowd in Ohio at the end of the March.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We started building our wall, I'm so proud of it. We started -- we started -- we have 1.6 billion. And we've already started. You saw the pictures yesterday, I said what a thing of beauty.
COOPER: So that's not accurate. That $1.6 billion that was in the spending bill the President signed. $1.6 billion for border security. Some are which can be used to bolster existing fencing not new fence, existing fence. The spending bill to the President's dismay did not include funding for his wall, which by the way he spent months claiming Mexico was going to pay for it anyway. He tweeted this around the same time. Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our southern border wall.
That tweet came with photos trying to prove his point. You see the photos there. Again, the border wall has not been started there or anywhere those pictures the President tweeted were taken in Calexico. The same Calexico, where the Vice President was today. So think of the administration might again try to misrepresent what was actually going on, we sent our Gary Tuchman to ask the Vice President some questions.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Vice President, this is a fence replacement project, there's this fence for a decades. This is nothing new. President Trump tweeted that this is the beginning of our southern border wall. You acknowledge this is not the beginning of the southern border wall that he promised the border.
PENCE: This is the beginning of the southern border wall. This was from --
PENCE: -- fiscal '17 budget. This is a replacement project, but if you will, look at the border wall, this new wall is roughly two or three times taller than the wall that was here today. It represents a kind of new border wall measures that we will be implementing.
TUCHMAN: It's not adding any feet to the wall that's already here.
PENCE: This is the beginning of keeping our promise to the American people, that we're going to build a wall.
COOPER: So the Vice President acknowledges now it's more of the beginning of an idea of keeping a promise, not the start of a wall, as the President claim. And again, it is a movie with multiple sequels. The last year, budget director Nick Mulvaney stood in the White House briefing room and showed pictures of construction at two locations to prove that President was making good on his promise to build a wall.
We sent Gary Tuchman to those locations as well. They had actually nothing to do with President Trump. It was common knowledge in the area that the wall and question dated back to the Bush administration and was just being repaired. The President and his supporters maybe eager to show that he's keeping his promise to build the wall, but so far, he is not building a new wall. No matter how many times they announce it has been began.
Gary Tuchman joins me now. So, listening to the Vice President there, I mean he did dance around a little bit. But actually they can see that this was a replacement fence, not a new border wall as the President told his 51 million Twitter followers. So he says this is taller.
TUCHMAN: Well firstly Anderson, our apologies for the desert dust storm right here. And secondly, this observation, the Vice President clearly did not want to disrespect the President. He didn't want throw him unto the bus. But yes, he did acknowledge this is a replacement project. He told me, we are going to build the wall, he did not say that this structure behind me is the beginning of that southern border wall. Unlike President Trump who issued the tweet with the pictures from this construction project.
Also I want to mention to you this security here Anderson, elaborate security when the Vice President was in this spot. This is a no-man's land on the American side. On the Mexican side, a bustling town, and the other side of the fence, you could see that's the new fence right there, the opening is large opening where there are scores of protesters chanting. Any one of them and anytime could have run from Mexico into the United States if they want to where vice President Pence was standing, but nobody did, it was quiet. The Vice President was here for about 30 minutes and then left. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks very much. We're going to hear from Jorge Ramos next hour about all of this. Coming up, as the deadline approaches for President Trump to possibly rip up the Iranian Deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says his country has proof the Iranian government is the line about its nuclear program.
[20:47:51] COOPER: A dramatic nationally televised speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his intelligence service had secured tens of thousands of documents as well as computer disk that prove Iran was in his words appraisingly lying about its nuclear weapons program, even as the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal was being negotiated. To emphasize its point, even further much of the speech was in English aimed at President Trump.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: This is a terrible deal. It should never have been concluded. And in a few days time, President Trump will decide, will make a decision on what to do with the nuclear deal. I'm sure he will do the right thing. The right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel and the right thing for the peace of the world.
COOPER: Well President Trump has until May 12 to decide whether continue waiving sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the overall nuclear bargain. And after Netanyahu speech, President Trump says he is quote, "100% right to criticize the deal". Joining me now retired General Michael Hayden former CI director and former NSA director, who's the author of brand new book, "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security and in Age of Lies"
First of all, in this deal, I mean do you think there are grounds for the President to rip up the deal as he's been threatening to do base on what Netanyahu said.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Not based on this. This is all baked in. I mean we knew the Iranians were lying about the existence of this weapons program prior to 2003.
COOPER: This isn't new information --
COOPER: -- deal --
COOPER: -- what they're doing right now?
HAYDAEN: The outline, the ark, not new. Now he's got new details appears to have been a tremendous coupe on the part of Israeli intelligence getting additional information. But it doesn't change the plot line. They had a weaponization program until 2003. They denied it, they continued to lie about it. I complained during the negotiations, that we should have made them turn their cards face up with what we called PMDs, the previous military dimensions of the program. We didn't force it and so we just let it ride, gave them a whole pass. But we knew they were lying. That was baked into the original deal.
[20:50:04] COOPER: So you're saying when it's baked into the original deal, meaning the U.S. knew they were lying and, therefore, made the deal so tough, it was -- it was based on the assumption that they're lying and this is how we verify it.
HAYDEN: It was based on the premise that they had a program. It was based on the premise that the program had made certain advances. It was based on the program -- based on the reality that they lied about the program. And, therefore, that shaped what we tried to negotiate.
COOPER: So in your opinion what Netanyahu just done doesn't change anything about the validity of the deal?
HAYDEN: No. Like I said, it was all baked in. I think we should have made them be more forthcoming but we knew they were lying at the time. COOPER: I wonder what you make of North Korea, the movement with South Korea, the meeting with Kim Jong-un? I mean it's very dramatic to see him crossing over that border.
COOPER: Do you buy what they are selling?
COOPER: The North Koreans.
HAYDEN: Not yet. This is the fourth time we've gotten to this place.
HAYDEN: We've done it with three previous administrations, and we've not had much success. So we'll see where it goes forward from here. Credit to the administration for getting here. That's really important, but we've only begun the hard work now.
COOPER: I want to ask you about your new book "The Assault on Intelligence." I mean is what Netanyahu is saying, is that an example of the assault on intelligence?
HAYDEN: Well, more -- much to the point, the White House after the Netanyahu speech issued a statement that Iran has a robust clandestine nuclear weapons program. Well that flies in the face of a national intelligence estimate that I was involved in, in 2007. And Anderson to the best of my knowledge, that remains the American estimate, is that that one chunk, no, not the centrifuges which was a separate issue, not the ICBMS, a separate issue, but actually constructing a weapon, that that had stopped in 2003 and I'm fond of saying that judgment then was based not on the absence of evidence, but on evidence absence. And I don't know of anything that's changed that, so it's going to be really interesting now what did the intel guys say about the press release that just came out of the White House?
COOPER: So, I mean, you're talking about the subtitle of the book is "American National Security in an Age of Lies."
COOPER: How does intelligence adapt to this age that we're in?
HAYDEN: It's really hard. So we've seen a pattern from the White House of saying things that intelligence just can't back up, and I'm being kind here. So you try to convince the President in closed sessions with regard to what you believe objective reality is. You know, it's not so much that you're not winning the argument in the process. It's that the decisions seem to be separated from the process.
And you saw H.R. McMaster leave the White House a couple weeks ago. I mean, H.R. spent a year trying to connect the processes of government to the decision-making of the White House, and it just doesn't seem to have worked.
COOPER: Well that -- I mean that's a frightening statement that the decision-making is just divorced from the -- from the actual intelligence.
HAYDEN: So, for example, and this may be a minor issue, but it's current that press release tonight. In my life experience would have had the White House not ever issuing that without running it by the intel guys to make sure they could live with the statement. I don't see that pattern in this administration.
COOPER: But it's interesting. I mean we're at a point now where the folks on Capitol Hill almost ignore what the President is saying. It's sort of like, oh, he's just that guy, who's, you know, mumbling that stuff. It doesn't actually necessarily mean that's what the new policy is.
HAYDEN: You know, the American presidency is a powerful office. One of its great powers is the bully pulpit.
HAYDEN: One of his great powers is what the President says. Now, you just told me that the American Congress just tunes it out. I don't know that the rest of the world does though, and that makes life hard.
COOPER: The -- you also write that the modern intelligence enterprise, which you obviously goes essential to the U.S. now seems at odds with important elements of American life.
COOPER: What do you --
HAYDEN: We have collectively. We've talked about the administration, but, you know, the President's reflecting changes in our political culture. Well the Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2016 was post-truth. Post-truth is defined as decision-making based on feeling and emotion rather than objective data, and I think we see that broadly throughout our society. I mean, you guys comment on it every night. How could people believe that? Political beliefs, political affiliations have now become articles of faith, and it's really hard to unseat a belief with facts if it wasn't based on facts to begin with.
COOPER: So what is -- I mean, how do you get back to -- I mean, look, obviously, there's been incredible intelligence failures over the years.
COOPER: So there's understanding why people be skeptical of American intelligence. Certainly what the President has said has not helped the -- you know, the confidence in American intelligence or a lot of institutions. What needs to change? [20:55:07] HAYDEN: So that's a point related to an earlier question. I mentioned in the book, you know, obviously everyone has got to follow their own conscience with regard to what does it say or don't say within or outside the administration. But more important than the individual, Anderson, is what you just suggested, preserving the institutions, and I fear what's going on now, particularly with justice and the FBI, but the intel community I think shares in this is the chiseling away at the institutions that service and on which we rely to preserve our liberty and security. That's the collateral damage to this struggle that's now going on.
COOPER: And that's not easily revealed.
HAYDEN: Once you begin chiseling away. I mean what will it take, and here's the danger I see. And so, I see folks in my tribe or in justice or FBI pushing back against what is an incredibly norm-busting administration, a norm-busting President, but in the pushing back, we have to be oh so careful that we don't bust our own norms. And so for my folks it might be in leaking. All right.
And so we see this deterioration that's coming about because the broader dynamic within society. It scares me, and that's why I wrote the book.
COOPER: The book is "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies." Very timely. Michael Hayen, thanks so much.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, breaking news. "The New York Times" is reporting Robert Mueller has at least four dozen questions he wants to ask the President about his ties to Russia and other topics. "The Times" obtained a list of the questions, the latest on that, next.