Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Meets With Top Justice, FBI And Intel Officials After He "Hereby" Demands Probe Of Campaign "Spy" Claim. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 21, 2018 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We look at all the angles starting with CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House. Jeff, what are you learning today about the meeting that took place that the President had with FBI director Chris Wray, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was the regular rescheduled meeting. It was on the agenda before the President's weekend storm online on Twitter, but it was nothing regular about this meeting.

The fact is, the President wasn't asking the justice department to essentially investigate the investigators, as you were saying. This is something that Presidents don't formally do. The Justice Department it you think of it should be an island, an oasis if you will. Well, they were all sitting in a meeting together.

I'm told for less than an hour or so. We haven't gotten much of a readout in terms of the mood or temperament. We saw them walk out. And they were smiling, they had smiles on their face.

All we know, Anderson is this, we know the President has essentially been successful, at least in the short-term of having the inspector general at the Department of Justice look into this, look to see if there wasn't fact a confidential source inside his campaign who was giving the FBI information.

They want to look into this to see if it's going to happen. But there are some conservatives though who believe that Rod Rosenstein is not going far enough. They believe that he -- you know, he obviously they would like him to step aside, but they think the I.G. is just essentially putting on a shelf. But not necessarily the inspector general can be very serious here.

So at least in the short term, they are investigating this and probably more interestingly White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is apparently going to be sitting down with congressional leaders later this week to look over some of this highly sensitive information. That could be very important here.

Remember, he is the one who was urging the Justice Department not to give in to Congress' demands on this here. And now we're hearing the Democrats tonight who don't believe the White House Chief of Staff should be involved in this at all. So Anderson, this did not clear anything up today probably just deepen it.

COOPER: And Jeff, the White House did not have a briefing again today, have they given any indication why?

ZELENY: There was not press briefing here. One answer I heard earlier today was the President was out a couple different times speaking so they were not going give a briefing.

Anderson, that's not normally how it works. So there's not a press briefing every day necessarily but usually there has been. The reality here I believe just talking to a variety of people, the tweets over the weekend were so explosive in some respects, the President talking about this investigation. The White House staffer from the podium, the press secretary and others do not want to be answering questions about this. So that's why I believe there was no press briefing. We'll see if there's one tomorrow and the days to come here. But today it was actually sort of quiet here after a weekend tweet storm, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

With me here now, Congressman Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah and a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you for being with us. Are you satisfied with what came out of this meeting today with the Department of Justice, with the inspector general agreeing to look into this?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (D), UTAH: Well, I think step forward, I think it's important to step forward and I think the reason is, is the Department of Justice, nor the FBI is above accountability. We don't tell our law enforcement officials you have untethered power. Go and do what you want and we don't care. We are not going ask you about it. We're not going to ask you to account to the American people. So I think it's a step forward in that as your reporter said, I'm a little bit concerned. We have the Department of the Justice inspecting the Department of Justice, but I.G. Horowitz has done a good job so far. I mean, I think he has revealed some important information and we look forward to hearing his support.

COOPER: I want to read you a tweet from Freedom Caucus Congressman Mark Meadows. He said Rod Rosenstein, it was exactly what happen and what is in the document requested by Congress either the matter warranted investigation long ago and he did nothing or he has seen the facts and believes nothing is wrong. His belated referral to the I.G. is not news, it's a ruse."


COOPER: Do you think it's possibly ruse?

STEWART: Yes. Well, I don't think it's a ruse. But I think it's a step forward although, we'll see how important step forward it is. But you asked if I'm satisfied, there's this important element staff and that is this, there's been this narrative that we've been wanting to know the individual or the source. We care not at all about who the individual is. We have never asked for information regarding him as all.

We want the underlying information, that's the thing that's important to us. And we haven't been able to see that yet. The Department of Justice has denied that to us still. And I don't know how anyone can say that's a good idea. Let's go ahead and let the Department of Justice hold this close. Let them leak it to New York Times and Wall Street or the Washington Post but not show it to Congress because that's essentially what's happened over last three or four days.

COOPER: Do have been -- I mean, does it concern you that the President is basically going against the president for -- I mean, it's been a long time since we have seen anything really like this, the President of the United States pushing this on the Department of Justice.

STEWART: Well, we have never had the Department of Justice who was so arrogantly bureaucratically pushing back and saying we're not going answer your questions.

Look, I represent the people, I represent you and if the Department of Justice is not willing to respond to Congress then we're in the world that leaf us as a country.

[21:05:06] Now, I understand they want to protect the sources, so do we. I understand they want to protect the integrity of the investigation, so do we. That's why the intelligence committee is a select committee. It's a very small committee with very special responsibilities and we have to access some of the most classified information the Department of Justice or the FBI or CIA, any one of them have. We don't leak that. And it's just simply -- it's insincere I believe to say, well, we can't share that when I think the primary reason is because it embarrasses them, not because they're trying to protect national security.

COOPER: This meeting now that Chief of Staff Kelly is going to have with congressional leaders, with the head of FBI, with the DNI, with Rosenstein going over the highly classified information, do you worry about leaks coming out of that? And should Democrats and Republicans be involved in that?

STEWART: Well, look, we have been worried about leaks for a long, long time, right. And I've spoken about it many times as have many others. But once again, this is the executive meeting with the DOJ, which is the executive and in giving them instructions. So I think that's appreciate thing for them to do.

COOPER: I want to bring in the rest of our panel. Gloria Borger is here, Kirsten Powers, Ryan Lizza, Matthew Rosenberg. I know some of our panels have questions. Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Congressman, are you willing to sort of believe the possibility at all that this informant might actually have been working to protect the Trump campaign from any kind of infiltration? That that informant might actually -- have been working on behalf of an intelligence community to find out what was going on so that in the end they could alert people in the campaign? Isn't that a possibility?

STEWART: Yes. I've heard people propose that.


STEWART: I suppose it's a possibility.


STEWART: I can tell you their actions both during the time and after and since, including up until this very time certainly doesn't indicate that was their motive.

BORGER: So you think it was a trap?

STEWART: I don't think it was a trap. I just think it was -- we don't know what it was frankly, which is why we are asking the questions. Give us some information and let us make some evaluation on --

COOPER: What about their actions seemed appropriate to you? Meeting with Carter Page? According to reporting, you know, with George Papadopoulos?

STEWART: Well, I mean a couple things. Number is -- I'm not confirming because I can't confirm whether any of these reports are true because once again, we haven't shown the information. People ask me, can you confirm the identity of the source? I don't know because once again, we haven't shown the information. So I can respond to press reports and I don't know if they're accurate or not, only the Department of Justice knows that.

But look, if you have a political campaign -- this is the President of the United States. And if you are inserting someone from the Department of Justice into that campaign, you better have a good explanation for that. You better have evidence that would back up the decision and that's what we are asking for here. Give us the evidence that would support that decision.

COOPER: But was someone actually inserted into the campaign? Because it doesn't seem like, this person -- it makes it sounds if the person had an office in Trump Tower in the midst of the rough and tumble of the campaign. It seems like this was somebody meeting with Papadopoulos and Carter Page --

STEWART: Well, as I understand it, he didn't know Papadopoulos, he reached out to them, proactively reached to them. He didn't know Carter Page. He apparently proactively reached out --

COOPER: But that doesn't mean he wasn't part in the campaign itself?

STEWART: Well, he was reaching out to officials in the campaign.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He was having meetings with the campaign, which doesn't the same thing as infiltrating. And the President has said also in one of his tweets that, you know, if the DOJ is basically -- he said if the DOJ infiltrated a campaign for the benefit of another campaign -- that is really big deal, that's a pretty big accusation. Do you think that's what the FBI or DOJ was doing? They were trying to help Hillary Clinton's campaign?

STEWART: I don't know. Let's find out. Let's get the information --

COOPER: Do you think that's a possibility?

POWERS: -- find out but I mean what -- I guess the question is, what would you like the FBI to have done if they had concerns that the Trump campaign might have been infiltrated? What should they have done? Should they not have meet with anybody?

STEWART: Well, I don't know. And once again, I wouldn't say that they shouldn't continue with that investigation. And my concern is not what they should have done if they had that evidence. My concern is to date, we have no evidence that that's true. And I challenge anyone to give me evidence of collusion.

And if that's the case, then how do you justify some of the activities of the senior people within the Department of Justice and with the FBI?

And by the way, if I can make this point as well, how many times have we told -- the Republican memo is a good example. They said, national security, are going to endanger lives. They're going to endanger national security. They had not even seen it. And all of you read it. And I challenge any of you to say anything on there that was endangering national security. They're saying the same thing here. They said, you're going to endanger people's lives. You're going to endanger national security. We didn't leak the identity of this, assuming that this was the individual. They did.


STEWART: When I say we, I mean the intelligence community.

ROSENBERG: You keep saying, we don't have it but chairman does, Chairman Nunes does have the name. That's how this it became an issue?

[21:10:01] STEWART: No, he does not.

ROSENBERG: And he was in subpoena.

STEWART: He does not have that name.

ROSENBERG: We have a source. We don't know the name. That's important to note. And that's look we're not speculation on that, I've seen this --


ROSENBERG: It says in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post," anyone -- we didn't. We were the last people to print it, actually. This appeared in varius right-wing kind of publications far before became an issue elsewhere. And this is an issue pushed by Republicans on the Hill, out to journalists, speaking to them off the record. I know this. I was part of this reporting. And so, you know, it seems a little disingenuous to kind of feel like, we just want to know the name of this. We've got to do is -- it must be the Department of Justice leaking.

STEWART: I don't want to know the name.

ROSENBERG: I had no evidence to Justice Department leaking name, do they know?

STEWART: Well, I'm assuming they do because they call him a source.

ROSENBERG: Why are you certain they leaked him?

STEWART: Well, because it's in their own documents. They say source, et cetera. So of course they know who it is. And I don't know if they leaked it to the right-wing or to "Washington Post." All I know was leaked. And I know that the Washington Post --

COOPER: But you don't know that the Department of Justice leaked anything?

STEWART: No. All I know is, we didn't because we don't have the information.

ROSENBERG: I mean there's a lot of people talking about it.


ROSENBERG: But it wasn't DOJ.

STEWART: But, I got to you to challenge you on this one thing. I don't know how sincere it is to say, here's a very a did tailed description of this person. But then to protect the integrity of this individual we're not going tell you his name. But many, many people connected those dots and figured out who it was. OK, so technically they didn't reveal the source --

ROSENBERG: Days before they did that, the name was in Breitbart, it was in the Daily Caller, it was in number of places.

STEWART: Yes, I think --

ROSENBERG: But you're choosing popular kind of the media, the President likes to beat up on in this. And really there is something a little bit disingenuous about that sir.

STEWART: Well, once again, I don't know who it was leaked to. All I know was it was --

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": Congressman, can I just quickly ask you?

STEWART: Yes. LIZZA: It seems like there's a larger issue here about the President and what he can and can't do with respect to directing the Justice Department to investigate and not to investigate.


LIZZA: And it seems like today we have crossed the line that in the modern presidency had not been crossed. Would you been OK if Barack Obama had instructed Loretta Lynch to investigate a discreet part of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation? Would you have been OK with that?

STEWART: I think anytime we have an investigation transparency, that's better --

LIZZA: But would you have been OK with Barack Obama directing Loretta Lynch and how she handled the Clinton e-mail investigation?

STEWART: Of course. She works for him.

LIZZA: Because I watched her hearing on the Hill and the Senate and almost every question from a Republican senator, I don't if it wasn't you but every question was, Loretta Lynch, will you stand up to the President if he tells you how to directs an investigation. And she promise again and again, yes, I will stand up. I won't let the president direct the investigation. Similarly, justice department officials who have gone up in the Hill have made the same promise, so it seem like this norm has been iron clad until today. What happens?

STEWART: There's an important difference though. There's an important difference. There's a difference between saying how you will investigate, which is what you just positive at the Senate and will you investigate. And my answer to your question was, will he investigate. And once again, I think any time there's a necessity, there is unanswered questions the answer should always be of course, I would support President saying, will you investigation this.

Now what I wouldn't support --

BORGER: He didn't ask, he demanded.

STEWART: Well, OK, that's fine but either way. But the second part of your question was, it's different to say, this is how you will investigate. Or I'm telling you how to investigate and that's a very different question, of course which I would support.

I need someone over here on my side.

LIZZA: You're doing a good job.

COOPER: One more question and then we got to go.

ROSENBERG: -- about why there are need to be investigation. Today I've seen no evidence of wrong doing on the part of the FBI here. They used an informant to go out and question two people who the campaign is described as one was a coffee boy and the other one was barely associated with us and the guy turned up very little information what we can tell. And that was that. And I'm not quite sure why there are need to be --

STEWART: That's such a great point. And I'm glad you brought that up to make this point. If what we know is true, they started this investigation on pure hearsay. And let me ask you, would you be comfortable if the next democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders based on hearsay because I promise you we can generate hearsay, who say, OK then let's go investigate that campaign the same way because most Americans would say, no, I don't think that's right. I'm not comfortable.

BORGER: Can you all of Carter Page's contacts with the Russians --

COOPER: Are you saying the hearsay is from Australia?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

BORGER: Is it from the Australian diplomat who talked to George Papadopoulos or all of Carter Page's communications with Moscow -- trips to Moscow. Is that hearsay?

STEWART: No, that's not hearsay. Do you know how many thousands of Americans went to Moscow during that time?

BORGER: Well, no.

STEWART: Remember it was the Russia. They were encouraging business people to go to Moscow.

[21:15:01] He was a businessman. He did what many of them did. Is that evidence and believe me, I can find someone associated with democratic campaigns who have been in Moscow. If that's the only evidence we need then everyone is going --

ROSENBERG: He had contact with the Russian spy.

STEWART: He tried to be recruited and he reported that to the FBI.

ROSENBERG: And then continuing --

STEWART: He reported it, yes.

COOPER: We got to -- I appreciate --

STEWART: Anyway, good to be with you.

COOPER: Thank you very much, my pleasure.

Much more ahead tonight, we'll talk about the legal and national security implications of what the President demanded and what Rod Rosenstein agreed to.

Late an update on this big eruption on Hawaii's Big Island, that's ahead on 360.


COOPER: You can say a lot of things about today's meeting in the White House and the presidential demands that preceded it. You can accuse Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of caving, some have or say that he basically shined the President on as Congressman Mark Meadows did or called the President's actions inappropriate. What you cannot say is that -- this is in any way shape or form normal, except perhaps for this administration.

With us now, our legal and national security panel, Carrie Cordero, Kenneth Cuccinelli, Philip Mudd, and Susan Hennessey.

Phil, just from a law enforcement standpoint, how unusual is this?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: You know, we were talking in the green room trying to find a scenario where this happened before. And I can't remember what that said before you judge Rosenstein too harshly, let's play out a scenario. If you're in the law enforcement business, you want the investigation whether it's a criminal investigation or civil investigation to continue. That's the law enforcement process.

If the Department of Justice and Rosenstein said, sorry, Mr. President, we are not going do what you ask. What's the likelihood the President would have thrown a grenade in this process and said, OK, you're out. Despite the fact that this is unusual, Anderson I'm in the sure that Rosenstein made the wrong decision. I think I would have done the same thing he did. I think he bought time.

[21:20:07] COOPER: Ken, do you think Rod Rosenstein was basically buying time?

KENNETH CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think he was -- it's sort of a split the baby decision. But I come from a civil libertarian perspective even though I was an attorney general and you know, the President for this with the FBI having an informant in the movement to protect it, just what they said about civil rights movements and everything else, if you looked at that side, you know I think people would have a very different perspective. I think this is well worth the investigation and I think of all the options the inspector general is the best alternative available.

COOPER: Carrie.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that, you know, looking at the President's intent in trying to gather information about this investigation, what really matters is what his purpose is in trying to learn that information.

COOPER: What do you think the purpose is?

CORDERO: So if his purpose is to learn about the investigation from the perspective of wanting to do something about Russian interference in the future, wanting to protect the national security, then that's a legitimate exercise of his authority. But what if he's trying to do is learn information about the investigation because he and his inner circle have legal exposure as a result of that investigation, then I think that's potentially an abuse of his authority, because he would be trying to get information about the investigation to protect his own personal interests.

COOPER: Susan, I mean, on the face of it, there's nothing legal about this, unless -- I mean, Carrie saying, depending what his intent is.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean look, this is plainly within President Trump's sort of constitutional authority. I think what we are seeing is, you know, Rosenstein and Director Wray, are trying to protect the President from his own worst impulses. He issues this vague tweet. It could have been right to say that he was directing DOJ or the FBI to proceed with the criminal investigation without a proper predicate. That would be very, very serious, very, very consequential, what we see coming out of this meeting is them sort of diverting his impulses and saying, no, you know, don't order this investigation, we'll handle this through sort of the normal I.G. process so we've seen that happen before and I think that's what they're doing here.

CUCCINELLI: I think we are ignoring the context. I mean, at the same time this investigation was going on, you've also got Susan Rice unmasking Trump campaign members using her authority in the Obama administration. You have Comey than as FBI director essentially pre- clearing Hillary Clinton before they interview her. You know, there are a lot of other things that don't look right in this time period on the law enforcement side.

And look I'm as pro-law enforcement as anybody, but they sacrificed a bit of their about objectivity in this whole process.

COOPER: Would it have been better if having had this report about George Papadopoulos conversation with the Australians to have FBI agents interviewing George Papadopoulos because there are those who say, well, look that would have looked worse for the campaign if all of a sudden you have FBI agents interviewing people from the Trump campaign?

CUCCINELLI: Well, if the actual intent was to protect the campaign -- look, I worked on a competitive Republican campaign. They did not operate like people who had run campaigns before. That would at least flag for them, some of the things that people have work in other campaigns might have been looking for that they were not. They should have direct. They should have taken that route. I don't think you would have seen all of the problems for the FBI that have developed out of this circumstance if they had taken that route.

MUDD: Time out here. If you're investigating a city council for corruption and you're trying to determine for example in Podunk, Indiana whether there's corruption on the city council, do you go in and say, we would like to talk to you about what's going on because we don't really know, but we would like to warn you that we're up to something here, or would you say, we have something who is walked in and said there's something inappropriate going on the city counsel and we think to protect the civil good, we'll determine what's going on by either a wiretap or informant. The only difference here for what the FBI has done for decades is that the President has a Twitter account.

CORDERO: Here's my concern about the President demanding or in some ways the Justice Department starting to do an investigation if he's making these kinds of demands, is that the Justice Department is bigger and the justice system is bigger than this one particular investigation. And what's important for people to know is the justice system works free from political influence.

And so what I'm concerned is that these are contrived scandals. You mentioned the unmasking scandal. I think that's contrived scandal. I think that these allegations that there was anything wrong going on with this informant that was being use in a counter intelligence investigation according to an investigation that was conducted under attorney general guidelines, I think that was a contrived scandal. And what we have to be concern about is whether or not additional investigative techniques are being directed to go after a contrived scandal that isn't based on any actual credible allegations.

[21:25:14] COOPER: To those though who say that having the inspector general look into this and sort of punting it down the road, Phil, I mean, you say the inspector general is serious. And it's not pleasant to be investigated by the inspector general if you're inside the FBI?

MUDD: That's true. But -- I mean, when I witnessed inspector general investigations at the FBI. Anybody who thinks that that's a soft touch, that the inspector general is going to say, you get a pass, the inspector general will put a microscope on things. They will find something wrong. I think the interesting aspect here is timing. So I'm going anticipate this is just a gas that Mueller, the special counsel was going come up with conclusions in 30, 60, 90 days. I don't think the inspector general on this investigation about the information will be done by that.


MUDD: My point is, if Mueller comes out and says, in July and says, here's indictments or no indictments this investigation becomes irrelevant. I think that's why this might be a punt.

COOPER: Susan, do you see this possibly as a punt, as basically something that won't go anywhere because there may be results for Mueller?

HENNESSEY: Yes, about the language is so vague and broad. And we notice that we actually didn't see a statement out of Rosenstein or Wray today, so the FBI and DOJ are not sort of giving their take on this. You know, I don't think it's a punt in the sense but, you know, an I.G. investigation isn't a real investigation, I think it's a punt in the sense that there is already an ongoing I.G. investigation. And so this really is maybe about expanding at the margins. You know but the substantive difference from where we were this morning really is just a question of timing and redirecting the President.

COOPER: All right, I want to think everybody in the legal. There's a great deal to deconstruct from today's news, from the White House, not the least of which is the political a requisition at the center depending new justice department investigation. That's coming up. I'll talk to your panel to take a deeper look on that.


[21:30:08] COOPER: Our breaking news, the justice department is broadening its internal investigation into the FBI's Russia inquiry after a top level meeting at the White House this afternoon with President Trump. The inspector general will investigate the president's claim that his campaign may have been infiltrated by a confidential FBI source for political purpose.

Here's -- here with me to discuss the pure politics of it all, Symone Sanders, Paul Begala, Rick Santorum, Amanda Carpenter and Jason Miller.

Senator Santorum, what do you make of what happened today because there's a lot of conservative Republicans who were saying this is basically your ruse. That this is sort of the president got the wool pulled over his eyes.

RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Look, I mean I think I the president is doing what the president always does, which is, you know, go on the offensive to further cloud the situation. I think he's done that pretty successfully in making the case that this is an, you know, improper investigation and that people haven't done right. And he continues to put out information to make that point.

And so from the politics of it, what the president is doing, in my opinion, has worked actually very well.

COOPER: It is appropriate? Because I mean you're talking about him clouding the investigation. That doesn't sound like a positive.

SANTORUM: Well, but I think there's a legitimate concern here about what the prior administration did with respect to the politic of this. Whether this particular thing rises to that level, it is consonant with other things the administration did that raise real serious questions about this investigation and about what was going on during the campaign, not the investigation going on during the campaign. This is another such story. And I think he's just adding weight to the overall argument that, you know, the real corruption was during the Obama administration, not what he was doing.

COOPER: Paul, I mean during the Clinton administration, which you worked for, did the Chief of Staff ever have access to information from the Department of Justice and like --

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, certainly not. This is unprecedented in the modern era. You have to go back to Hoover and Nixon I think to see that. I think this is exactly from the Trump political play book. OK. You begin with projection, right?

I'm not a puppet. You're a puppet. Remember, he even said Ben Carson wasn't a good Christian? He projects onto his -- that's how he attacks, his projection person and deflection. Here's something else to think about, turns out that the FBI was sending spies and this is exactly what Amanda Carpenter wrote that book. This is gas sliding. This is exactly what he's doing, trying to divert, to distract, to project anything other than just answer the simple questions about what you did and why.

COOPER: Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: And let me explain to you why it's working. Donald Trump is winning this argument because everyone is sucked into the debate of whether there was a spy embedded into the campaign. We are not talking about the why. Why did the FBI feel the need to have an informant approach George Papadopoulos? Well, they got a tip, the Australians said he was bragged in a bar that had prior knowledge of the e-mail hacking.

We almost need to do a three-hour special on the month of June, July and August from the Trump Tower meeting to the DNC hacking, to Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down as chairwoman of the DNC wrecking their convention. Donald Trump standing up on July 27th calling on the Russians to produce the e-mails because the press would reward them. That was July 27th.

The FBI investigation was open July 31st. Then next month, just weeks later, Paul Manafort resigned in shame. That is an incredible series of events that we're not talking about. We're not talking about the timeline. We're sucked into this fake debate about spies.

COOPER: Jason?

JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I see it much differently. I mean let's not gloss over this. I mean the fact of the matter is it looks like either the FBI or the DOJ were running an outright entrapment effort --

CARPENTER: Based on what?

MILLER: -- on three -- well, exactly. On three fringe players --


COOPER: Let him finish.

MILLER: You have three fringe players and you have this helper guy, they call him the wall risk. First of all, I want to know who's paying this guy, I want to know how much he got paid, I want to know who directed him to go and do this.


MILLER: He's running an outright entrapment effort --

CARPENTER: OK, but are you willing to acknowledge the lying circumstances that may have led the FBI to approach him to start an investigation?

MILLER: -- spying on a U.S. campaign?

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: But, Jason -- OK, hold on. Hold on, hold on. One at a time.


COOPER: But, Jason, on the one hand, you're arguing that the Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were fringe players on the campaign.

[21:35:01] On the other hand, you're saying that this was an investigation, confidential informants spying on the campaign, the heart of the campaign. You can't have it both ways.

MILLER: But no, so why is the FBI, DOJ, again, setting --

COOPER: Because George Papadopoulos has talked to Australians saying that there are these e-mails. Don't they have to investigate?

MILLER: So this one kid, this 28, 29-year-old kid, some drunk --



MILLER: -- trying to entrap these guys --

COOPER: OK. So I understand that point. Amanda, you respond and then we'll get --

CARPENTER: You brought up the tarmac meeting that Bill Clinton had with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch while the FBI's investigation of the Hillary's e-mails was going on. We all agree that was bad. Bill Clinton should not have met on the tarmac with Loretta Lynch while that investigation was happening. So tell me why Donald Trump can summon everyone that's active in this investigation to the White House and demand documents. I don't see any difference there other than that fact that Donald Trump is the president --


MILLER: Because we deserve to know who's investigating all the Trump people the Trump campaign.

CARPENTER: The investigation is underway.

MILLER: Absolutely.

CARPENTER: Do you think the witnesses should have access to the information that they may be taking to court? That's witness tampering.

MILLER: I think from everything that we saw in 2016 -- for everything we saw in 2016, absolutely, that's need to happen.

COOPER: Symone, is this Department of Justice basically folding to the president's pressure? SYMONE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I think what -- so I think what the deputy attorney general did yesterday -- I forget when the meeting happened, so much has happened since this first came out. He tried to buy himself some time and I think he didn't want to be on the receiving end of Donald Trump's Twitter account.

I think he did fold to the president a little bit. And I also think this is such a dangerous president. This time, you do what he says. You start the investigation, you kick it to the inspector general. What's to top the president from asking more than next time and the next time? So where does it end? Where do you draw the line?

I think what's so interesting here for my Republican friends, some of them, in defending what the president is doing here is that they're twisting themselves up. I don't think anyone that can sit on this stage -- sit on this panel here and say that James Comey seemed to be in the pocket of Hilary Clinton during the campaign. I just don't think that's true.

I think that there was -- we knew about the Hillary Clinton investigation to her e-mails and to her server, but we knew nothing about the Russians investigating Donald Trump. And so to a certain, somehow there's this big deep state cover-up going on, I just don't think it's --

COOPER: Senator Santorum, what should the FBI have done if they had this information that George Papadopoulos had said this to the Australians?

SANTORUM: Well, to me, if that's it, to actually put -- because you have a junior member, a young guy sort of --

COOPER: And also Carter Page going to meeting with --

SANTORUM: But most of it was because of, you know, the dossier and other stuff that was floated out there. I mean --

SANDERS: They said it's not the dossier. They -- it is not the dossier. Republicans said that. It has been reported and also the officials have noted, it was not the dossier that started this investigation. And I'm just wondering. Are you all asserting that -- are you asserting that a person from the campaign bragging about the information to the Australians is something that we should --

SANTORUM: We've launched an FBI investigation based on some guy at a bar speaking up, I don't --


SANTORUM: I think we're in big trouble if that's the state.


SANDERS: -- presidential campaign, would you feel -- would it be appropriate for a foreign entity in your presidential --

SANTORUM: Of course not.

SANDERS: OK. So why are we --


COOPER: All right. We got to go. Thanks, everybody.

Fascinating look at Maggie Haberman and her colleagues in "The New York Times," how they covered the presidency in a new documentary, extraordinary access newsroom. I'll speak to the director ahead. And the latest from Hawaii and the latest on the lava when we come back.


[21:41:26] COOPER: Well, no surprise the president is lashing out at the press again just yesterday tweeting this, "Things are really getting ridiculous. The failing and crooked, but not as crooked as Hillary Clinton. The 'New York Times' has done a long and boring story indicating that the world's most expensive witch-hunt has found nothing on Russia and me. So they are looking at the rest of the world."

Well, "The New York Times" is one of his favorite targets. This Sunday night, a documentary series called "The Fourth Estate" debuts on show time take you inside "The New York Times" newsroom as they cover this presidency. Here's a clip where the president calls reporter Maggie Haberman.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how are you? Good, thanks for making time. I appreciate it. I'm just wondering how you see this today. Do you -- what did you say to Ryan about this today? You don't? OK. Is there anything your team could have done differently or anybody could have done differently? So you'll tell them we tried -- you're going to tell your voters we tried and they wouldn't let us fix it, basically. Yes, yes, yes, yes.


COOPER: Well, I spoke about "The Fourth Estate" with Director Liz Garbus.


COOPER: It's incredible that scene with Maggie Haberman. First of all, now that the president has come out saying, you know, attacking Maggie Haberman saying she has no access to him.


COOPER: She talked to him on the phone.

GARBUS: She talked to him on the phone. And it didn't seem at that moment like it was, you know, the first time he had called her. He had her number.

COOPER: When did you decide to do this film? Because it's starts on Inauguration Day, you folks at the time watching the inauguration.

GARBUS: Trump after he was elected was going around to the major newspapers and news organizations and he had a meeting with "The New York Times" which he decided to cancel sort of abruptly via Twitter. And they -- started on this Twitter back and forth. And on that day, which was I think November 22nd, I thought these papers obviously has a huge amount of meaning for him. He's from Queens. It's his hometown paper. And this is going to be a dynamic that's going to play to that.

Of course, CNN has been in the -- you know, one of his favorite punching bags as well. But at that moment, it felt like this dynamic was really right and would be a great way to explore, frustrate him during this presidency.

COOPER: You also just get a sense -- I mean which we experience here as well. You know, people used to talk about a 24-hour news cycles and newspapers, you know, it was all about getting out the evening edition or, you know, the morning edition. That's all gone in the wind now. I mean it's digital, it's getting stuff out as quickly as possible.

GARBUS: Yes. There's an hourly news cycle, I mean, having to lurks up for us. One of the most shocking things just being in the newsroom was that, you know, how credibly intense the competition is against CNN, against "The Washington Post" just for scoops, right? And that's driving everyone and, you know, getting to load up first, even if it's a couple of minutes first is important for their readers. And "The Times" feels like it's their responsibility to inform their readers as soon as something happens, that's not the case 10 years ago.

COOPER: It's also -- I just think it's so important in this age where legitimate news organizations are being, you know, called by the president of the United States, the enemy of the people, attacked as being fake, just to see how information is gathered, to see how it's vetted, to see how it's gone over and to see how it ends up in a newspaper or online or on digital platform.

[21:45:00] GARBUS: Yes. I think when you watch "The Fourth Estate", you'll see the seriousness and carefulness. I mean they -- you know, reporters miss scoops because they want yet another verification. I mean you can really see the seriousness and the commitment of these journalists to getting it right. I think, hopefully, it's a bit of an antidote to that kind of characterization of the news.

COOPER: What do you hope people get out of the film?

GARBUS: Thinking is the seriousness of these people are not what their worst pictures that they're painted of them by -- you know, in those fake news attacks, the seriousness of it. That their kind of like their ideology is the truth and that's what they're after. It's not the resistance over there. You don't feel the partnership. You feel their desire for scoops and truth. COOPER: And getting it right.

GARBUS: And getting it right, yes. And getting it right. And that's what you feel. You know, mistakes right now are too big to have, right? I mean the environment is too heated for mistakes to happen, and you feel that.

COOPER: Fascinating. Liz Garbus, thanks so much.

GARBUS: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, coming up, we remember Kimberly Vaughan, one of the 10 people whose life was cut short in Friday's school shooting. I'll speak with her mom.


COOPER: Tonight, we're learning new details about the 10 lives that were lost Friday in that shooting in Santa Fe High School in Texas and the about the actions that may have saved more lives.

Retired Houston Police Officer John Barnes is in intensive care on the hospital who is a resource officer at the school, confronted the gunman.

[21:50:05] Tonight, the Galveston County sheriff said that Officer Barnes and others were able to engage the gunman quickly.


SHERIFF HENRY TROCHESSET, GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS: Officer Barnes is a hero. The two officers that engaged that individual in four minutes or approximately four minutes, they're heroes. They contained him in that one area, isolated to them, engaging with him so he did no more damage to other classes.


COOPER: Teachers will return to school this Wednesday, students will return a week from tomorrow. Some of course will never return, among them, Kimberly Vaughan, who was killed in her first period art class on Friday. I spoke with her mother Rhonda Hart just before the beginning of tonight's broadcast.


COOPER: Rhonda, I can't imagine what the last several days have been like for you. What do you want people to know about Kim?

RHONDA HART, MOTHER OF SANTA FE SHOOTING VICTIM KIMBERLY VAUGHAN: She was a force to be reckoned with. She loved everybody. She never knew a stranger because she would talk to anybody. You know, we would be in the grocery store and she would just be talking, you know, everybody's ear off. She was a great comedian. She was never without her little corny, funny jokes. She was known for it. She would sent me text messages, little goofy things all the time. She's just -- I've said it a bunch of time, she was just too awesome for all of us down here. She had to go upstairs and be awesome up there.

COOPER: She was a lifelong girl scout I understand. That was very important to her.

HART: Oh yes. She joined girl scouts when she was in kindergarten. And I was her troop leader for years and I led with a friend of mine. And she was actually about to start her Gold Award, which is the highest honor that a girl scout can earn. Anyone whose familiar with boys scout it's like our Eagle Scout.

COOPER: Right.

HART: And she was going to work on creating a program with ASL. She was going to create a program for young children and families to communicate better using ASL. She was delayed in speech as a preschooler and toddler and so we used a lot of ASL to communicate. And then she started taking that class at the high school and she loved it and that's what she was going to do.

COOPER: I understand she was a big reader too, a big fan of Harry Potter.

HART: Oh, huge Harry Potter fan. We actually just came back from a week long trip. We went to Orlando as a family. And that was such an amazing trip. We went to Disney and we went to Universal Studios and we got once and she was so excited because she got to eat Butterbeer ice cream. And -- I mean she was so awesome.

COOPER: How is your son, her brother doing?

HART: He's doing all right considering, you know, it comes in waves. Sometimes he's really OK and then other times he's not. He just wants to, you know, he just needs extra cuddles. And what are you going to do, you just have to comfort him.

COOPER: And Friday, I mean, it was just started out as a typical day for you and Kim.

HART: Yes. Well so, I'm a school bus driver for the district, I've been driving for about five years now. And, on that day, a bus was off schedule and we had -- I had waited specifically, I'd waited over to the side in my own vehicle for her bus to come up and her bus driver to come and assist me with shuttling some students to the next campus. And, I was standing up out of my seat and I always say good bye. I say hello and good-bye to my students every day.

And I was standing there saying good bye to everybody that were my passengers. And I looked over my shoulder and she walked by because her bus was behind mine. And I looked over and I said bye, Kim, and I went I love you. And this was our thing. I love you in ASL.

COOPER: Those were the last words you said to her, I love you?

HART: Yes. And we did our thing right there.

COOPER: I was talking to you before we went on air and one of the things you said is they messed with the wrong mom.

HART: Oh, they did. They did. One of my phrases is, don't poke the bear. Well, they poked this mama bear and I have been talking to some of my representatives in the area. I've reached out to Tammy Duckworth from Illinois as a new mom and a veteran. I'm waiting to hear back from her. But I really would like to see some positive changes happening for my daughter, I really would.

[21:55:11] COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know about your daughter?

HART: Oh, there is. Actually, she -- when she started the high school last fall in August, she was allowed to dye her hair, because they had a looser code about that. And she was known for her red streaks that I did at home. And, so I encourage everybody if you're thinking about going to the salon and you want to have some fun, put some red in your hair for my daughter, OK. And also, families, you know, do this, spread this around, OK, make this a thing.

COOPER: I love you, that's the sign.

HART: Yes. I love you.

COOPER: Rhonda, you sound so hallow to say but I really am just so sorry for your loss. And I appreciate the strength it takes to come on and talk about your daughter. And I just wish you continued strength in the days and years ahead.

HART: Thank you so much. It's not -- I've had conversations with folks that I never thought that I would have and my world is just upside down. But, you know, I was sitting there and I thought, I can cry about it or I can just get up and do something and just charge forward and channel that. So I mean, that's what you have to do. You don't have a choice.

COOPER: Rhonda, thank you.

HART: Thank you very much.


COOPER: We remember Kimberly Vaughn. We'll be right back.


COOPER: That volcano corruption on the big island of Hawaii is getting worse. At least 40 structures have already been destroyed and authorities tonight are warning more residents close to Kilauea to be ready to move, "At any time."

Officials tonight are saying more eruptions are possible and lava from two different flows are now seeping into the ocean that's creating a new danger. When lave hits sea water, sign to say, it sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. The chair of the Geology and Geophysics Department at the University of Hawaii tells CNN, "It's very dynamic and dangerous."

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.