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North Korea Threatens to Pull Out Of U.S. Summit; White House Aide's Comment Didn't Come Up In Meeting Between President And Republican Senators; Federal Judge: Manafort Trail Can Proceed; Different Judge Earlier Assailed Mueller Probe; TMZ: Meghan Markle's Father Now Says He Can't Attend Royal Wedding Due To Heart Surgery; Trump Administration; Hamas is Responsible For Suffering in Gaza. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 15, 2018 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:21] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of breaking news to get to tonight, starting with news, it's called the White House off guard according to age, North Korea suspended talks with South Korea and now the meeting with the President could be in jeopardy as well.

Some standoff just five days after the President announces the date and location of the summit with Kim Jong-un, North Korea threatens to cancel it. We'll have the latest from the White House and from Seoul.

Who is sorry now? Still not the White House as Republican senators call for an apology for a White House aide's insensitive comments about senator John McCain. Silence from the President, the White House and the aide.

Mueller, Manafort ruling, this week marks one year since Robert was appointed special counsel in the Russia investigation and a judge had just ruled about whether he oversteps his authority in the Paul Manafort case.

We begin at the White House tonight with the news of North Korea, threatening to cancel the summit with President Trump. Our Jeff Zeleny joins us now.

So the White House, did they have any heads up about this announcement today?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there was no heads up here at the White House, at the state department, and really all across Washington, the Pentagon as well. It was a surprise to essentially everyone that North Korea had suddenly having second thoughts about these military exercises but also the threatening words about the possibility of intervening with that summit which is really only a month or so away in Singapore.

So certainly people here at the White House were surprised by that. The President learned of it from news reports. Aides were scrambling to figure out exactly what was going on. And it certainly raises a point here that this meeting was always going to be a difficult one. Since the President was standing here in the White House briefing room really just a couple months ago saying he wants to have this meeting. It seemed like it was, you know, sort of going along at a pretty good pace, but the expectations certainly have crescendoed since then.

So probably a sign that this is going to be a challenging meeting, but it was a surprise here today and Anderson the reality is, tonight they don't know what it means for that overall summit.

COOPER: What was the -- I know the White House later released a statement. What did they say?

ZELENY: They did. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has released a statement. A really short statement but interesting words in that, let's take a look. It said, "We are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently and continue to coordinate closely with our allies." Of course, allies being South Korea and others. But important to point out, the news report came from a government news agency in Pyongyang. So this is a North Korea news report cancelling those military exercises.

What Kim Jong-un had always said that he would support. So Anderson, the next several weeks are critical for this time. South Korea President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to be here, next week, week from today for a meeting with the President. So that's certainly will be a one step in this. But at this point the summit is still on. The White House is making plans for it to be on but they don't have the only say in the matter, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny. I appreciate it.

I want to go to Paula Hancocks who is in Seoul South Korea for us. So these drills between the U.S. and South Korea, I mean they happened annually, the North Koreas certainly know that they reacted -- I think they fired missiles the last time, this happened last year. Do we know exactly what their issue is this time?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't, Anderson. There's a number of different reasons they could be doing this. Potentially it could be some kind of negotiation ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit. You can see in part of this KCNA article, they are saying let this be noticed by the U.S. and

South Korea, we will be watching your future attitude.

So it's almost a warning that if these military drills continue, then there could be problems. It's no secret that North Korea does not like these military drills. It happened last year. As you say, they were missile launches afterwards, and that's clearly it's a very different situation. But we're being told by the U.S. air force that it effectively is the same scale and scope.

We know there are F-16 fighter jets involved. We know there are these F-22 stealth jets involved as well which North Korea would not want to have flying over the Korean Peninsula.

But as you say, they knew that this was going to happen. This is annual. The U.S. says it's defensive. So clearly there is something more here besides North Korea saying that they're trying to figure out exactly what the North Korea intention is before they come out with their official response. Anderson?

COOPER: You know, it is interesting as one of our guest in the last hour pointed out, I mean, the North Korea statement was aimed more directly at South Korea really than it was the United States, and perhaps there is a meaning of that?

HANCOCKS: Yes, the way North Korea sees this, according to this KCNA article, is that this was against the June declaration. This was an agreement signed between the leaders of North and South Korea. Where they agreed to cease all hostilities, there would be no hostilities between the two sides.

[21:05:02] Now, clearly the South Korea does not see this as hostile, this is part of two militaries here in the peninsula training together but North Korea has consistently define these drills very threatening and they've been constantly reacted to them.

So, of course, the question is why have they decided to mention this now? They're not saying that they are cancelling the summit with the U.S. President Donald Trump, they are saying that the U.S. should be aware of this summit in the context of what is happening right now.

So it is a fairly thinly veiled threat to the United States and also to South Korea that this sort of behavior, as far as North Korea is concerned, will not be tolerated. It said there is a limit to goodwill, there is a limit to giving an opportunity. One word of caution, though, we have seen this kind of behavior from North Korea before. We have seen this kind of articles from KCNA slamming the U.S. and South Korea at the same time as tensions have been decreasing. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thanks.

Joining me is our panel, A.B. Stoddard, Steve Cortes, Paul Begala, Rich Lowry, Karine Jean-Pierre, and Bobby Ghosh.

Bobby, what do you make of this? I mean, is this kind of sabre rattling, is this brinkmanship of negotiation tactic?

BOBBY GHOSH, FORMER INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, it's unlikely that at this late stage Kim has completely changed his mind about the meeting with Trump. The assumption has to be one of two things. Either this is a signal of domestic audiences, it has to do with domestic politics, reassuring people around him that I'm still a tough guy. I'm not going to soft in the United States and South Korea or this is. Or this is him reacting to pressure that's been put on him by the United States.

So far the U.S. has been putting pressure saying, it's complete denuclearization, Trump is going to go for the full deal, and this is him saying, you know what? I've still got skin in this game. I'm still a player here. Trump has threatened that he will walk away from a deal if he's not happy. This is Kim saying, I can do that, too. So one of those two things seem most likely. Now, from the North Korean point of view, this is not an unrealistic expectation that the South would at least tone down these exercises. Yes, they happen every year. Yes, they're supposed to be defensive. But you're calling an exercise max thunder and you're doing it right on North Korea's border just when relationships between the two countries are going through a period of thaw. It's not unreasonable for them to expect scaling down or postponement or reduction and hostilities.

COOPER: I've seen gain by activation next year.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's actually my adult film name, so I'm really embarrassed. Sorry, Avenatti is my lawyer.

COOPER: What do you guys make of this?

BEGALA: First, I think Bobby is right, I think this is probably more talking to the regime, but I think we should listen, too, which is he did changed -- this is Kim did not change his stripes. I feel like the President is like a teenager learning to drive. It's flooring the gas and then slamming the brake. And we went from fire and fury to open and honorable. And I don't think either was actually quite right. You know, he's not open and honorable. He's a man that just murdered Otto Warmbier, a perfectly innocent American college kid. I'm glad he freed these hostages but he shouldn't have taken them in the first place.

I just think a more nuance, calmer approach --


COOPER: Shouldn't the President get some credit for --

BEGALA: Yes, right.

COOPER: I mean, you know, the rhetoric which all the experts were saying, look, this is terrible and not a good idea, but you can make an argument we are now seeing some movement which we haven't seen before?

BEGALA: Yes, I think he should get credit tonight for not tweeting or commenting at all. Seriously, that's wisdom. That's great. I hope he continues once he watches "Fox & Friends" in the morning. I still hope he can do shut up. But yes, he does deserve some credit, but I think it's way too early.

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But hold on, the United States has taken a nuanced approach for six decades as the Korean War has not ended. It is now, listen, there are knowns and unknowns in this equation. What is known is the Korean War is ending. And it's because of President Trump, and that's not my opinion, that's the opinion of South Korea and President Moon and the South Korean leadership. The Korean War is ending.

What is also known is Kim Jong-un is no longer, for now, lobbing missiles into the pacific, because he either fears or respects Donald Trump or some mixture of the two. What is also known is he's at least willing to meet. What is unknown is what will come out of this. We don't know. And Donald Trump will clearly not sell the farm.

COOPER: I mean, Brian, the North Koreans have been wanting to meet for -- I mean, every regime.


GHOSH: And they've already said that Trump is getting too much credit for this. Remember from a couple of weeks ago, there was a statement that pushing back on the idea that Trump is responsible for the thawing. Believe it or not, that's what North Korea wants us to believe. And I think this is part of that narrative that this is not all -- Trump is not calling all the shots here. We're still the active player.

JEAN-PIERRE: I just want to say, look, we've clearly we could all agree we want peace, we don't want war. I think what this shows is how ill-prepared the United States is.

[21:10:06] Let's not forget we still don't have a U.S. Ambassador in South Korea. So we were caught off guard and we could have -- if we had diplomacy there, we would have known a little bit more of what was going on --

COOPER: Is that really -- Rich, do you -- because I mean, we've had ambassadors there and we haven't known what's going on.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, but I think --

RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is classic North Korean tactic, though. Their negotiations are based on unpredictability. And it's hard to say what exactly this means, but it may be saying, actually, we're going to set the tempo. It may be a sign they want to get into the negotiation over the negotiation, and maybe a sign, hey we have more leverage because actually you want this more than we do.


LOWRY: So I would still expect there to be a summit. I would still expect it at least to be superficially successful, because if Kim is insincere, which I assume, his goal should be to have a good meeting, try to string us along and try to get concessions before he's done anything consistent the way the regime has for 30 or 40 years.

COOPER: A.B. one of the things -- I mean, having a meeting between two leaders is one thing, but in a summit, there is a lot of legwork that goes on usually before or after between other people lower level in the government. I mean there is a lot of work to be done beyond just whatever happens at that one meeting.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. And look, I agree with Rich that I don't think this is going to be derailed, and I think it's going to happen. And I think this was sort of gesture politics. It was just a way of saying, you're not in control. The United States President and the South Korean President are not in the driver seat. I'm going to be unpredictable. And respects in certain tension, he is been so acquiescent, it appears.

And so it's important also to remember what Karine points out is that, he does have decades of people who have been working on this with his father and grandfather and the Trump administration is using some experts but the team has been -- there have been some openings, some vacancies. And this is also a quick pace in terms of the calendar.

I think it's going to happen, but it's also important and they go into this mindfully knowing and the President says, I'll walk away with it. Just the summit itself can be an end game for Kim Jong-un. I mean, just to be on stage.

COOPER: Right.

STODDARD: -- with the U.S. President and a goal for decade.

COOPER: I mean, Bob that is what multiple regime leaders in North Korea have wanted, to be on an equal footing, to have that one-on-one meeting.

GHOSH: Yes, they want that legitimacy. If fact Kim has already, you know, if we step back a little bit, he is already one some of these things. A serving CIA director has never been there. A serving secretary of state has never gone and shaken hands with his father or grandfather. Those are quite significant. It is only the prospect of a Trump summit that we're thinking that's a big surprise, but he's already won silver and bronze. So he is looking pretty --

CORTES: Hold on, you all are so unwilling to give the President any victory on anything that I think you're suspecting --

GHOSH: I don't think --

COOPER: I said give him credit for --

STODDARD: No, it's not.

CORTES: This is not just -- this is not just out there. The Korean War is ending. That is momentous. I mean, historic. He has stopped sending -- I'm not just talking about optics. He has stopped sending missiles --

COOPER: The rhetoric of it. You can't say the Korean War has ended, I mean, nothing

CORTES: Well, they're negotiating and he has stopped lobbying missiles, OK, more importantly, right. There are no missiles for now going into the pacific. Why? Because President Trump applies maximum, economic pressure, maximum diplomatic pressure, mainly via China, and quite honestly harsh rhetoric as much people mocked him for rocket man, guess what --


CORTES: He has been forced into a corner. And the idea that he's dictating terms is absurd. COOPER: OK, Rich.

CORTES: We have him in the corner and we can decide to let him out of that corner, but it's for us to decide.

LOWRY: It's certainly true that Trump usefully intimidated --

COOPER: One at a time. Rich.

LOWRY: Trump usually intimidated him and there was significant slack in the sanction's regime, which we tightened up, which was very good, but nothing that's happened so far has happened before. This sort of North Korea, South Korea summit that are going to talk about ending the war, we've seen it before. We've seen the North Koreans blow up, testing this before --

CORTES: No, we have not seen they met the DMC. That's not true. We have not. That's historic --


GHOSH: The South Korean President has gone to Pyongyang and shaken hands. I was based in Hong Kong for Time Magazine in 2007, the first time that happened. The South Korean President won a Nobel Prize because of that. What came of it? Nothing. Nothing at all 2010 --

CORTES: The cessation of missile.


COOPER: All right, let's take a break. When we come back, still no apology from the White House after an aide cruel joke against Senator McCain, some Republican Senator have said there should be an apology. Did they bring it up when they met with the President today, we'll have the answer on that, next.

[21:14:44] Also, later tonight's breaking news, in the Mueller investigation, a ruling from a judge about whether he overstepped his legal authority in the Paul Manafort case and whether that case is going to continue.


COOPER: The President met with Republican senators today in Capitol Hill for a lunch meeting. The President spoke for about 45 minutes according to Senator Kennedy about a variety of topics. One thing that did not come up was their colleague Senator John McCain and a White House aide's comment that, "He's dying, anyway." Either President or the White House nor the aide, have publicly apologize to the senator and his family. Some Republican lawmakers are calling for those apologies, but it did not come up apparently in the meeting today.


REPORTER: Did the issue of Senator McCain come up at the all during the lunch?


REPORTER: And how did you encourage the White House to have that staffer issue an apology?

MCCONNELL: No, it did not come up.


COOPER: Didn't come up. Several lawmakers in the room have said that Senator McCain deserves a public apology from the White House or the aide.

Back now with the panel, also joining the conservation is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

I mean, should anybody be surprised that there's not an apology? I mean, one thing we know about President Trump is he doesn't apologize except for the "Access Hollywood" tape and that certainly seems to filter down?

STODDARD: He does not permit apologize, and the staff knows that. And they are not allowed to make apologies about any mistakes that happened at the White House or anything like this is disparaging comments about McCain. What's interesting about today is that my calendar, at least I think at least 10 Republican senators have been on the record saying this must happen. And then when faced with him behind closed doors, they don't bring it up.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Or what? What are the Republican senators going to do? As usual, nothing. So I meant the idea that, you know, they say Trump should do X, and then he doesn't do it, and then they vote for everything he's for, anyway. So this idea that there is any rebellion against Trump for this or anything else is completely --

[21:20:04] STODDARD: I didn't say there was. I'm surprised they would come out and demand this on camera and then in privacy at a luncheon not say what Lindsey Graham said, which was, it would be great in your administration if someone could made a statement that said that this was unfortunate and --

TOOBIN: And then, they meekly go back into --

CORTES: Hold on, because the idea that Republicans do his vetting I think it's absurd and the evidence argues exactly the opposite. The wall would be built completely if the Republicans were Trump's minions on Capitol Hill. In fact, hill Republicans have been very obstructionist to him particularly in the Senate.

STODDARD: On what?

CORTES: On health care, on the wall. How about foundation --

TOOBIN: And health care. CORTES: That's enough, my point is you're promoting -- this is fake news. If you say that Senate Republicans do whatever Trump wants, the opposite is true.

TOOBIN: How many of his judges have failed to get confirmed?

CORTES: How about the wall, how about health care?

TOOBIN: I believe the number you're looking for is zero.

CORTES: OK, how about the wall? How about it?

TOOBIN: The wall is not yet decided.

STODDARD: The wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for?

BEGALA: Can we get back on the topic? The President of the United States has a staff member who mocked and disparaged a war hero who is facing cancer. That's appalling. Many of his colleagues -- he's beloved, he served 30 years in the Senate. Many of his colleagues said, gee, that's really uncool. But when faced with the President, they folded like a cheap suit. That's not any longer Donald Trump's fault, that's the Republican Party's fault. They're so cowed by this man, they can barely move. They are completely, given over their souls, their spines --


COOPER: Steve, actually according to the President, the wall is being built.

STODDARD: Yes, that it.

CORTES: But nothing like the President wants. He wanted 20 billion and he got 3 --

COOPER: But that's not even true, the proportion is being built, it's just being -- the existing wall is being rehabbed. I mean, it's --

CORTES: Regarding this issue, and as I mentioned last night, look, I believe an apology --

COOPER: You think he should apologize?

CORTES: I apologize to my wife about four times a day all right because I have too, because it's the right thing to do. I think that the White -- someone at the White House should apologize. I do believe that, I know Kelly Sadler. I like her. I don't believe she said this with real animus. I think if we heard the context it would sound nearly --


STODDARD: The context? What would the context be?

CORTES: For example, the context could be, let us not respond because he's on his deathbed. That would be a much more reasonable --

JEAN-PIERRE: But she didn't even say he's on his deathbed. That's not what was reported was said.

CORTES: Donald Trump you say he never apologize, that's not true, he does and he did for the "Access Hollywood" tape.


CORTES: Hold on --

BEGALA: But he denounced it and said it wasn't even his voice. The only apology we have, he renounce --

CORTES: He is reticence to apologize is because here we are now, Kelly Sadler, as much I happened to like her, 99% of America has no idea who she is. Mainstream media has been fixated on this story for now I think day 6. Wow, the economy is exploding while peace is perhaps a real reality in the Korean peninsula. Real things are going on in the world, he keeps one campaign promise after another. What are we talking about? A mid-level staffer who said something crass, I think that's why he has such revolution for the media understandably so because they want a major and the minors pick on whatever they can pick on.

STODDARD: Her colleagues have had revolution for a comment that they left of the meeting, multiple colleagues and after that, because the White House refused to calm this story down and drags it into day 6, it is actually -- as a result, it is not the media, as a result of, the White House statements from the podium combined with Republican senator saying it must be apologized for, it is a six day story.

COOPER: I mean, you know better than anyone, Steve, that this White House drags out things and makes it more of a story more than they would otherwise be. I mean, this would be -- we would not be discussing this.

CORTES: I think this is an unforced error. I think that we should have been done with this story. But I'm also explaining, as someone who knows the President and who understands him and by the way, not just him, but the 2016 movement. The media is so antagonistic and so ready to harp on a minor issue that that, I think, explains his reticence to apologize.

COOPER: But this comes long before -- I mean, during the campaign I asked him multiple times. He has never -- he doesn't ask for forgiveness of god which he has talked about multiple times even though he's been embraced by the evangelical community. I've asked him when was the last time he apologized during the campaign? He couldn't remember. There was the "Access Hollywood" thing but to say that this is a reaction to something he discovered in the White House, I mean, this is a lifelong thing.

LOWRY: But the thing is, Anderson, there are about three dozen times most of us would have thought during the campaign it would have served his interest to apologize. COOPER: I agree.

LOWRY: There are about three dozens times people in suits who done this for a living to the extent there were any in the campaign ran in and said, Mr. Trump, you need to apologize for this, and he didn't. And it worked for him.

[21:25:00] TOOBIN: This is about efficacy not ethics, right. He's unconcerned with what the right thing is. He just apparently it works for him to never apologize after attacking a war hero.

JEAN-PIERRE: His weakness, he looks --

LOWRY: Well, we should say in fairness to Kelly Sadler, she did apologize to Meghan McCain. I think it's because of White House, what's coming from the top, they can't apologize publicly.

COOPER: But apparently she did say --

STODDARD: She would do it publicly.

COOPER: -- I mean, according to reporting that she would do it publicly.

LOWRY: Well, then I think there's probably some effort to say no, you can't apologize publicly.

STODDARD: And that's not the media that's really -- again, I think the White House drags out the story. Meghan McCain was told she would get a public apology and she didn't. She announced that publicly. And said, Republican senators, almost a dozen or 10 of them has said, this must happen. That's not the media focusing on John McCain's family's hurt feelings. That's actually people calling for an apology that are --

COOPER: Because in fairness --

CORTES: But the media is fixated on a story that no one in America cares about.

COOPER: Then they can turn the channel.

STODDARD: Cares about John McCain's family?

CORTES: About a mid-level staffer saying something crass in a private meeting in the White House.

TOOBIN: I don't have an aversion to anyone here saying what America thinks. We're sitting here on West 58th Street. What the hell do we know about what America thinks? How do you know America thinks?

CORTES: You know why? Because I lived in the Midwest and I worked for the Trump campaign, Jeffrey Toobin, and I knew he was going to win when everyone at this table and everyone and every newsroom in New York and Washington, D.C. said he had no chance. I knew it because I saw the pain and the anxiety that was out there in America, and I saw the way Donald Trump spoke to them. So I know very well, actually. I might be the best person to ask other than the President himself.

BEGALA: So mocking a dying a man alleviates the pain?

CORTES: No, no.

BEGALA: Insulting a man who is fighting for his life, that somehow ameliorates the pain?

CORTES: No, but my is a mid level staffer saying something crass in the White House is not relevant to the like of a middle class voter, who elected Donald Trump. What is relevant to them, raising wages and improve in the economy, more security --

COOPER: What about just like simply fringing human decency and being a decent person? Like you said, you should apologize, why can't we have people who just are decent human beings who would say, you know what, yes, many mistake. I apologize all the time for staff, you know, to friends and family, just like you said. I mean, it's there is just a thing to be said for human decency and maybe it's not popular and maybe it's not what his base wants to hear, but they're very decent people, too, and I bet they apologize in their own minds as well.

CORTES: I wish they had. But my point also is at the same time it's unbelievable almost to me that here we are on prime time in CNN with all that's going on in the world, in Israel, in Korea, with the job market, and we're talking about --

COOPER: We're actually talking about many things, we've actually talk about North Korea. We're actually talking about Gaza. I interviewed Tom Friedman later on in the program. So we're spending plenty of time on it. It just seems again, it's emblematic of a larger issue in this White House. It goes beyond, what you say is a mid-level staffer. And I think that's interesting.

JEAN-PIERRE: Can I just say that -- look, we're talking about the White House here, which is the highest office in the land. Our children are watching, right? This is the President of the United States. He is supposed to set a tone. Young kids should be looking up to him, and what we're seeing is he's created this incredibly toxic environment in the White House where, A, people, staffers, are saying whatever crude, awful things that they feel like they can say because the President says it, and also they're fighting each other, they're leaking on each other. This is not what we're supposed to be seeing from the White House. And I think that is the problem. It's the behavior. It's what's coming out of the White House that's the problem.

COOPER: If you refuse to apologize about this and you lie about little things, you know, what about the bigger things?

CORTES: Come one, you can't just throw the lie in there.

COOPER: OK, millions of illegal immigrants voted in California and that's why Hillary Clinton won the popular vote?

CORTES: If you want to dig into that, there is evidence of widespread voter fraud. There is.

COOPER: Wait a minute.

JEAN-PIERRE: There is no evidence.

COOPER: You should be on that commission that no longer exists, because they couldn't find any.

JEAN-PIERRE: And the commission because they couldn't find any proof.

COOPER: What about, so you believe millions of illegal immigrants voted not for Hillary Clinton?

CORTES: I have no idea how many did but I do know this, illegals do vote clearly --

COOPER: Well, the President has said repeatedly, millions voted. And that's why Hillary Clinton, I mean, the stupid crowd size at the inaugural which nobody would be focusing on and reporting about had it not been issue number one for this White House, and, you know, Sean Spicer being pushed out there on a pretend death march to yell and scream and destroy his credibility so he's now, you know, opening up exhibits at Madame Tussauds wax museum and by the way, I have a wax museum, so I'm not cutting down Madame Tussauds, you know.


COOPER: Anyway, thanks very much. I appreciate everyone's perspective.

[21:30:07] Much more to get to tonight, we also have breaking news tied to the Mueller investigation, a federal judge today ruling the bank fraud case against Paul Manafort. President Trump's former campaign manager can perceive, we'll talk about that with the author of the new profile, Mr. Mueller that has his roots -- it's all about his background in the Marine Corps. We'll be right back.


COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight, a district of Columbia Federal Judge ruling that the bank fraud charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort can proceed. The trial scheduled for September. This Thursday will mark a year since Mueller's appointment became official.

Joining me for insight on Mueller himself is Garrett Graff. He's contributing editor for WIRED Magazine, who dealt with new profile with Special Counsel, which is on newsstands May 22nd.

So Garrett, I mean, it's a really fascinating look at Robert Mueller that you have in WIRED, you write that in order to understand who he is, and really what defines him, you have got to go all the way back to his time serving as a marine in the Vietnam war. Can you just explain how so?

GARRETT GRAFF, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, WIRED MAGAZINE: Yes. So the profile focuses on the year that he spent in Vietnam six month of that in combat right along the DMZ 1968, 1969, which was really sort of the formative experience for Bob Mueller. You can see a lot of the traits that he has as FBI director, as special counsel sort of coming out of his marine training, the extreme discipline, the extreme focus on the mission. He went through very extensive training through the marines, with officer candidate school, army ranger school, airborne and jump school actually and then spent six months of intense combat during in Vietnam some of the worst fighting that the U.S. Force has faced in the entire Vietnam War.

[21:35:16] COOPER: Yes, I mean '68 and '69, critical years. What were you able to find out just how consistent his leadership stype has been, whether it's in the military or the FBI now, special counsel?

GRAFF: Well, it was really funny. I've interviewed a lot of his staff in the FBI, a lot of the prosecutors he's worked with over the years. And I went back and was interviewing ultimately eight marines that I found who served with him in the hotel company of the second battalion fourth marine regiment in Vietnam, and they all said almost exactly the same thing that anyone else has said about Bob Mueller ever since, that he's incredibly focused, he was incredibly driven, that he was up every night checking the patrols, checking the observation post, sort of making sure that he knew where everyone was and that he was, in fact, sort of in many ways working harder than almost any of the marines under him.

And I dove deep into the battle of Mudder's Ridge December 11 1968 where Bob Mueller receives the bronze star with valor for helping to rescue a mortally wounded marine and I actually found the other marine in Texas that he helped to rescue that day in battle.

COOPER: They also talk him under pressure. What he is like?

GRAFF: Yes. And this is sort of one of the things that really -- you see how important Vietnam was to the Bob Mueller that we know today, which is Mueller considers himself incredibly lucky to have survived Vietnam. Many others didn't that he served with. The marines who actually inspired him to join, his Princeton classmate David Hackett was killed in Vietnam just as Bob Mueller was beginning officer candidate school.

And that this was a time where Mueller sort of feels incredibly grateful for having survived and he also feels that sort of no pressure that he has ever faced since being a marine in combat in Vietnam compares to the stress of leading men in combat. And sort of one of his sort of dark jokes, lines after 9/11 when he was leading the FBI was even under all of that stress, he would say I'm still getting more sleep than I ever did in Vietnam.

COOPER: You also point out in your interview just how different the paths are that Mueller and President Trump have taken throughout their lives, which is quite obvious?

GRAFF: Yes, and this is sort of one of the almost experimental aspects of this tale. As you mentioned, you know, Thursday the one- year anniversary of Mueller's appointment as special counsel, you know, these are two men, started lives in very similar ways in their paths diverged dramatically at Vietnam. Mueller going off to serve Donald Trump taking five deferments.

COOPER: Yes, Garrett Graff, it's a fascinating peace, I look forward to a more people reading in WIRED, thanks very much.

Up next, more in my conversation with New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman, about what Nikki Haley said today, about the violence in the Middle East and the overall Trump foreign policy.

There's also breaking news linked to the royal wedding. The new reason why Meghan Markle's father won't take part at least now in the special day, this Saturday, it has nothing to do with some paparazzi photos, it's far more serious. We'll take to Mexico when Mr. Markle leaves, for the latest.


[21:42:19] COOPER: More breaking news and this is tied to the royal wedding just days away. It turns out there is a new reason why Meghan Markle's father apparently won't walk her down the aisle on Saturday. It has nothing to do with photos staged with paparazzi. Instead TMZ said it talked again with Thomas Markle and he has now saying that he has to undergo heart surgery tomorrow morning. According to TMZ doctors will clear blockage, repair damage and put in a stent.

Leyla Santiago is n the Mexican, where Mr. Markle lives joins us now.

So I understand you went to the hospital to find Markle. What did you find out? What can you tell us?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we actually talked to the assistant director of the hospital. She confirmed that he is no longer there. And so we kind of going off of these reports of what he was quoted as saying, that this is no longer a back and forth between both families, that this is now a health issue.

You know, as we were at the hospital, we talked to actually several doctors, and they are saying that this is now medical. Of course, there has been that back and forth and he's been quoted as saying he wants to now walk his daughter down the aisle. It's certainly a historic moment for the world and also for this father. But what we know is what's been reported by TMZ, that there is a possible surgery tomorrow morning that was not confirmed by the hospital. They are citing privacy reasons right now, but this has been something that's been in the news and now it's certainly taking a turn just days before the royal wedding.

COOPER: So I assume -- I mean, I guess if it's like stent surgery, maybe he could go to the hospital tomorrow. You're in the neighborhood he lives in now. Are people talking about him at all?

SANTIAGO: Well, what's been somewhat surprising is that for this to be such a small area. Not a lot of people seem to know who he is. It's a gated community, it's a beach front property, there are cobblestone streets. And when we talk to neighborhood, many from the x-pac community, a lot of Americans that are here, many people seem to know about him, but I haven't found anyone who has actually talked to him. So it seems he sort of keeps to himself. He's not answering the door right now, but what people are aware of is that he's here. So much so that there are actually paparazzi camped outside his door. And when we talked to some of them, they actually told us they've been here for weeks, but no sign of him as of today. And, of course, that's understandable given what could be some very serious medical conditions.

COOPER: Or any of the x pac you're talking to, I mean, is there interest in the royal wedding there?

[21:45:00] SANTIAGO: Yes, I actually asked a few people, I said, are you going to be watching this? And they said no. So I spoke to one neighbor who she was a self-proclaimed in the no in this community, and she says everybody seems to know there is this buzz about royalty, but there wasn't much interest in terms of watching the wedding or getting to know him or looking for him.

One person said that she had heard he was in a store nearby earlier this week. He was described as being very friendly. But, you know, it seems to be more media, more photographers, people who are just trying to see what the next move is for Mr. Markle in this area of Mexico as his daughter is very far away making wedding plans.

COOPER: Leyla, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

A reminder I'll be traveling to England for CNN Special Coverage of the royal wedding. You can join me live Friday night on "360" from there. Also be live from Windsor for their special day, starting at 4:00 a.m. on West Coast on Saturday morning. So I hope you join us for that.

Just ahead more, my conversation with New York Times correspondent, Thomas Friedman.


[21:50:13] COOPER: Funeral were held today throughout Gaza for those killed in yesterday's violence where Palestinian officials say at least 60 people were killed.

Today, Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. repeated the Trump administration belief that only Hamas is responsible for the violence. Bloodshed came as a ceremony was held to formalize the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

I spoke about it all earlier with "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman.


COOPER: Tom, it was striking yesterday to watch member of the Trump administration, you know, celebrating the unveiling of the new embassy, at the same time Palestinians were being killed on the Israeli/Gaza border? THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, you know, the whole thing, Anderson, is like diplomatic pornography from beginning to end. Let's start with Hamas and Gaza. I mean it was an act of human sacrifice. I'm sorry. When you throw thousands of your youth, the flower of your youth against an Israeli fence supposedly to get into Israel, some of them surrounded by armed Hamas fighters it was inevitable that a lot were going to get killed. The Israel was not going to open the border to them and Hamas knew that, and it was entirely designed by Hamas to distract the attention of the world not to mention the Middle East.

COOPER: And Hamas controls what happens in Gaza? I mean, there's --

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. They're totally in control. And this is their answer to failed leadership, to turn Gaza into some kind of decent, flourishing state which they could have done. They had a choice to do that before all of this blockage began and they chose not to. And they have a lot to answer for.

On the other side, you know, I don't begrudge Israelis defending themselves against people charging their border, not carrying exactly a peace map either but at the same time, if you have to ask Israelis, Hamas is the bad Palestinian leadership, what have you been doing with the good Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas. Where is the Israeli peace initiative there, where is the Israeli imaginative, creative solution, what is Bibi peace plan? Neither Hamas nor Bibi have any peace plan on the table right now. And -- so the whole things is just the tragedy, it's two bald men fighting over a comb.

COOPER: So when -- two bald men fighting over a comb, is that what you said?


COOPER: I never heard that analogy. When you hear Jared Kushner basically saying that, you know, peace is possible, peace is can be at hand, does that ring true to you at all?

FRIEDMAN: Not in the least. You know, one of the most stupid statements that was said yesterday at that embassy event, which was really just a Republican mid-term pep rally, disguised as a diplomatic event, let's be clear, with their evangelical preachers, right wing Jewish funders, far right Jewish rabbis there, this was meant basically to fire up the far right religious base of the Republican Party.

This had nothing to do with diplomacy. But to say us moving the embassy to Jerusalem is the first step toward peace is such stuff and nonsense, Anderson.

What would a real American President have done if he wanted to actually use the embassy move as a step toward peace? Here is what he would have done. He would have come to Bibi Netanyahu and said, Bibi, the Prime Minister of Israel, here is what I am ready to do. You have coveted the U.S. embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as your capital. We are ready to do that on one condition, Bibi. You will freeze all Israeli settlements in densely- populated areas of the West Bank, to preserve that zone there beyond the Israelis settlement blocks for the two-state solution. That's what he would have said. I would trade you this embassy move that you caveat, for that step which will advice the peace.

COOPER: That would have been the art of the deal.

FRIEDMAN: That would have been the art of the deal. Trump did the art of the giveaway because if Trump had done that he could have then come to Mahmoud Abbas, and say, the Palestinian leader look, I know you don't like this embassy move but look what I got you, I got you something Obama never got you, I got a freeze on Israeli settlements, OK. Then he could have gone to the Arab world and said, look what I have done, I've advanced the process. I have done something hard and I want you guys to do something hard, I want you to accept some Israeli tourists, I want you to give some interviews with the Israeli journalists.

He could have had real leverage. Instead Trump gave away the most valuable diplomatic real estate in the Middle East treasure box of the United States and he gave it away for free. Believe me, in Jerusalem they are laughing at him. In the Arab world they're laughing at him. They can't believe what a sucker he was to take that bait and give this away for free when he could use it, he could have used it for leverage to truly advance the peace process.

COOPER: Just lastly, I want to ask you about continued refuse from the White House to apologize publicly for Kelly Sadler's remarks about Senator McCain. Vice President Biden said last week with those comments, that decency has hit rock bottom with this administration. Do you agree with that? I mean, is this rock bottom?

[21:55:12] FRIEDMAN: Yes, it is sort of just the most basic thing that no one should ever have to tell you or ask you. I would think this woman herself would have said, you know, boy, looking at that tweet as often people do when they make a statement or a tweet -- I'm sorry, hers was a statement, not a tweet -- in the cold light of day, you know what, I really feel bad about that. The fact she couldn't say that, that she wasn't allowed to apologize, that the White House kept explaining why she didn't have to apologize, this isn't politics. This is basic human decency about a man who truly is an American hero, and it is just people who have lost their way.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, appreciate your time. Thank you, Tom.



COOPER: Up next, we remember Tom Wolfe, one of the great American writers of the 20th century.


COOPER: Tonight we remember best selling author and journalist, Tom Wolfe, who was a vanguard of the so-called new journalism in the 1970s, using a narrative stype of nonfiction to brought readers into actual event with language that was so vivid and brilliant that he became known as one of the best if not the best writers of his generation. His wonderful book about the mercury astronauts "The Right Stuff," became part of the national conversation and also became part of the language.

The novel about the high flyers of New York finances, "The Bonfire of the Vanities" became classic. Tom Wolfe has died at the age of 88.

Thanks very much for watching 360, time to hand it over to Don Lemon, CNN Tonight starts now.