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NY Times: Business Partner of Trump's Lawyer Reaches Plea Deal Agrees to Cooperate with Investigators. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We have two big breaking stories tonight. One on narrowing the questions that Robert Mueller can ask the president, and the other deepening legal quick sand for the president's attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. "The New York Times" broke the story.

One of Cohen's business partners, a man known as the taxi king, copping a plea in a state tax evasion case, agreeing to help and federal prosecutors, which means potentially talking to team Mueller.

Evgeny Freidman is Michael Cohen's long time partner in the taxi business. He was accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny.

"The Times" citing a person briefed on the matter reports that his cooperation will keep him out of prison. This, of course, follows another recent plea deal made with Paul Manafort's former son-in-law, which could turn up the heat on Manafort.

More reporting now on this from CNN's Kara Scannell, who joins us from Washington.

So, what do we know about this deal that the Michael Cohen's taxi business partner made?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that Gene Freidman, who's known as New York's taxi king, pleaded guilty today to one count of state tax fraud charges. He was facing multiple charges for evading $5 million in taxes in New York state. So, today, his plea deal is that he's going to plead guilty to this one count for just $50,000 in taxes. So, that's a significant reduction in what he could potentially be facing. Also as part of this plea agreement, he's not going to face jail time.

Now, "The New York Times" is reporting that this is a cooperation agreement, which means he will be -- he's agreeing to cooperate with New York state and federal authorities about any investigations that they have ongoing. And Freidman, as you said, was a long-time business partner of Michael Cohen. He managed for him many medallions to run this New York taxicabs and in Chicago.

So, he will know some of Michael Cohen's business operations and dealings. That is going to be the question of what is going to be of most interest as part of this cooperation agreement.

COOPER: Is this part of a bigger strategy to get Michael Cohen to work with the special counsel, by having this guy flip on Michael Cohen?

SCANNELL: Well, we know that the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan which is investigating Michael Cohen started their investigation in part as a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller's team. Now, the U.S. attorney's office said they're looking into Michael Cohen's personal financial dealings, and as part of that search warrant that was executed by the FBI last month, they were looking specifically at information relating to Cohen's taxi medallion business and some of his business partners.

Now, this is potentially a steppingstone to Mueller's case. But it remains to be seen. You know, the U.S. attorney's office has not charged Michael Cohen with any crime. They're investigating him.

And Freidman has knowledge of some of Cohen's taxi medallion business. There's no suggest that Donald Trump was involved in any taxi medallion. So, I think it will have -- we'll have to see what Freidman knows about Cohen beyond the medallion business, and if there's anything at all. But it will put pressure on Michael Cohen as he's facing this investigation.

And if Freidman does know something about him, that will put pressure on him and inform the U.S. attorney's office, which is investigating him and ultimately he leads to potentially they think there is a case and they bring charges against him or if they don't, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Kara Scannell, appreciate it.

Now, more breaking news. New CNN reporting about efforts to sharply limit the scope of questioning, when and if President Trump sits down with Robert Mueller.

CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger shares a byline on this story. She joins us now.

So, what did you learn, Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, my colleagues, Evan Perez, Dana Bash and I have learned that the president's legal team is trying to narrow the scope of any potential interview with the special counsel to Russia related matters that occurred before Trump's selection. Now, our sources are telling us that in trying to avoid a standoff, one possibility they're thinking about is this limited Trump interview, plus, they're offering written answers to questions regarding the issue of obstruction, which we all know is an issue that the special counsel is clearly very interested in.

And they're also insisting that if there is an interview, they want an audio recording with the president, so there's absolutely no question about what was said.

COOPER: Is there any indication that Mueller would actually agree to these terms?

BORGER: No, there isn't. There isn't. We've been cautioned by a couple of sources that particularly regarding written answers to questions about obstruction, Mueller has suggested that this is not something that he could live with.

And so, we don't know, Anderson, whether if they can't reach any agreement, and one source said to me, we're inching towards something hopefully, but if they are not, this could wind up in the Supreme Court. And these kinds of proposals gives, you know, the Trump attorney's cover to say, look, we tried and we tried and we tried, but we couldn't reach any conclusion here.

[20:05:03] COOPER: It does seem like we've heard a lot more about these interview negotiations since Rudy Giuliani joined the president's legal team. I mean, you know, obviously, you're not going to talk about who your sources are.


COOPER: But it certainly seems like -- I mean, is Giuliani the one driving all of these stories? Or at least in, you know, in recent weeks, it certainly seems like it.

BORGER: Well, you know, Rudy Giuliani first of all, has only met with the special counsel once. And I think his prime purpose right now is to kind of speak to one person, and that's the president of the United States, who has been very happy when Giuliani punches back for him. You know, this legal team hasn't had a real spokesman out there.

But in terms of doing sort of real negotiating at this point, I think that's up to a lot of the other lawyers involved, and Giuliani seems to me to be functioning as a spokesman and kind of weighing in once in a while, and presenting the president's point of view to the American public, which they really haven't had in the past.

COOPER: Yes, Gloria, thank you very much.

Speaking of Rudy Giuliani, joining us now with her new reporting is Maggie Haberman, also Paul Callan, Michael Zeldin and Carrie Cordero.

So, Maggie, I understand you talked to Giuliani today. What did he tell you about this timeline?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, he called me because Mike Schmidt and I and our colleague had reported on Sunday that he had said that the special counsel had told the legal team they hoped to have this wrapped by September 1st, but they made clear it was contingent on an interview with the president that's all that this negotiation is about, and that these meetings have been about.

He called because he -- there had been reports that he might have made that up. I think there's a lot of suggestion after that after a "Reuters" report. And he said everybody in the room on their legal team, you know, who came in with them heard it the same way, except for Jay Sekulow, who was one of the president's other lawyers, who heard of this end of summer, which technically end of summer is September 22nd this year.

But regardless, it was roughly the same time frame. His point was they have heard from Mueller's office in the past when Mueller's folks have been unhappy with something that Trump's team had done. They did not say anything this time, and he just wanted to articulate that.

COOPER: Carrie Cordero, I mean, is there any planet on which Robert Mueller would agree to not ask the president about possible obstruction of justice, about things that happened after he took office?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, listening to the reporting just now, I think there's a possibility that what they are trying to float publicly is actually what the president is willing to be interviewed on. So, not so much what the special counsel would limit the questions, but maybe this is what -- and I'm sort of extrapolating here, maybe this is what the Trump team is willing to be interviewed on, and what they're suggesting is that anything beyond these particular topics, they would say the president is not going to answer that question -- those questions. And so, then when what they're doing is they would be forcing the special counsel's hand to issue a subpoena.

COOPER: Paul Callan, I mean, it is no coincidence that all these, you know, leaks or even public statements from Rudy Giuliani, I mean, it's all coming -- it seems like it's coming from the president's legal team and it seems like they're trying to play this out in the court of public opinion.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, they are. And, of course, Giuliani having been a politician and a U.S. attorney is kind of adept at using the criminal justice system and politics together in a way maybe that other lawyers don't.

And I think Giuliani understands that a president would be expected to give testimony. The American public would certainly expect it. They wouldn't expect him to take the Fifth Amendment. So, he's trying to present the case that the president wants to talk and wants to answer reasonable questions and it's unreasonable for Mueller to not accept these terms.

COOPER: Michael Zeldin, I mean, you work for Robert Mueller. Do you think he appreciates Rudy Giuliani and I guess others in the president's order, if that's who is floating these timeline stories in the press, I mean, is he the kind of investigator that's susceptible to pressure like that?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think he's susceptible to pressure. I don't think he appreciates these disclosures. I think what is going on is that the real lawyers who are representing the president are negotiating with Mueller's team about the terms of an interview. I think those are very complicated and sensitive negotiations. I think that both sides want it to remain that way. But then you have, you know, the likes of Giuliani, sort of blabbing,

I don't know how else to describe it, Anderson, to the press about, you know, his ruminations. And I don't think it furthers the interests of his client, and I don't think he's really attune to what's going on in the nitty-gritty of the conversations between the real lawyers and Mueller's representatives.

COOPER: Carrie, I mean, Giuliani has argued that the president can't be subpoenaed, because Mueller, again, according to Giuliani, has agreed to abide by past DOJ precedent, which is that a sitting president can't be indicted.

[20:10:04] Can the president simply be subpoenaed as a witness?

CORDERO: So, he could be subpoenaed, and I think the legal team has made pretty clear at this point, Rudy Giuliani, that if he is subpoenaed, that they will challenge it. And so, they would have the opportunity to do that. It could all the way through the courts and it could really drag things on.

So, I do think that that is part of their strategy. There are arguments for -- that I think the special counsel has. For example, one argument that has traditionally been levied against the president being able to participate in criminal proceedings is it takes away from presidential duties.

I would think that a new legal analysis would need to be conducted as it pertains to this specific president, because he occupies the presidency and executes his daily schedule in a very different way than we've seen prior presidents, with his executive time, a lot of time on the golf course. So, the argument that prior administrations have made that the president can't devote any time, and it would take away from his exercise of his duties, I think that's one fact that they would have to overcome.

ZELDIN: May I add one thing to that, Anderson? Which is I think that there is a clear distinction between indictment, trial, and incarceration on one hand, which is what I think the OLC opinion addresses, and then the judicial process to obtain evidence, a grand jury subpoena or otherwise.

I don't think the OLC opinion is as clear on that front end about can the president resist giving testimony as it is clear on the indictment, trial, and incarceration period. So the real lawyers representing the president and Mueller's team are discussing what does the term "criminal process" mean in those OLC opinions. Does it encompass testimony or just the indictment trial and incarceration?

CALLAN: You know, Michael --


CALLAN: I just wanted to add, I wouldn't rule out in the end Mueller cutting a deal with the president to get some kind of statement, written or audio, from the president. And I say that because, ultimately, Trump has nothing but contempt for the judiciary and for the judicial system and the criminal justice system. I can see him taking the Fifth Amendment ultimately if a subpoena is served, which means in the end, Mueller gets no information.

And my experience as a prosecutor has been prosecutors would rather take some information from a potential defendant in a case than get nothing at all. So, we'll have to see how this wraps up.

COOPER: It's interesting, Maggie, because I mean, Michael Zeldin is referring to, you know, the other lawyers on the president's team as the real lawyers, Rudy Giuliani more as the public face of the team.

HABERMAN: It's both true and not true. I mean, it is true that there are other lawyers, particularly the Raskins who were hired along with Rudy Giuliani. The president wanted Rudy Giuliani out there because nobody knows who the Raskins are, and I want somebody with a big name. So he has Giuliani out there to make a splash.

But he does have Rudy Giuliani out this to be pushing their case. I mean, Carrie is absolutely right. What he is doing is he's out there pushing a position, and that position is largely setting up an argument by which if they force Mueller to subpoena the president, that is going to be the route that they take. And I think that they are taking a gamble that even that might not happen.

I don't think that -- anybody I talk to, and I said this before, anybody I talk to around the president says nobody except occasionally the president wants the president to do this interview. They are basically running out the clock as much as possible.

COOPER: Gloria, I know you wanted to add something.

BORGER: Look, I think this is kind of a legal game of chicken in a way, because I think the Trump team is gambling that Mueller perhaps wants to avert this fight, this extended fight that would take this case to the Supreme Court.

And, you know, there are some on that team I talked to who say, look, we just don't think he wants to do it. If he does want to do it, we are -- you know, we are happy to go there and we will. But they're trying to put as much on the table to show that they're negotiating in good faith, in case it does end up in the courts, and they can say look, you know, we tried. We failed, but we tried.


I've got to take a quick break. We're going to pick up the conversation next.

And later, keeping them honest about all the talk of spies and infiltration coming out of Washington, including from the president himself.


[20:17:39] COOPER: If President Trump's attorneys have their way, any upcoming session with special counsel Mueller will not be titled ask me anything, that's just one of two breaking stories we're covering tonight. The other could turn up the pressure on Michael Cohen drastically, according to "The New York Times." His partner in the taxi business pleading guilty to tax charges, agreeing to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors.

Back now with the panel.

Maggie, is it clear -- I mean, the implications of this or how big a development this is regarding Michael Cohen?

HABERMAN: It's not clear. I mean, look, obviously, anybody who's got some kind of business entanglement with Michael Cohen is going to become of interest. I'm assuming that we and others are hearing that there is some implication that would ever deal with, that's what it is. I got a statement, unsolicited from Evgeny, saying this, saying --

COOPER: This is the guy who is --

HABERMAN: Who pleaded guilty. He said, I pled guilty to a felony. I'm humbled and shame. This is me taking responsibility for my actions. Michael is a dear, dear personal friend and passive client, that's it. This is a very difficult day for myself and my family.

Look, I don't know that he would know everything about Michael Cohen's businesses. It sounds like he managed some of Michael Cohen's medallions where he was a management company. But I do think that it is very likely prosecutors are using him to try to add pressure to Michael Cohen, to make some move of his own in terms of talking about Donald Trump.

COOPER: Paul, just given what you know about the legal system here in New York. I mean, he was accused of failure to pay more than $5 million in taxes, to face four counts of criminal tax fraud, one grand larceny, each had a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. I assume if he gets this deal, he gets a deal where he's not going to be facing prison time and I think was only like a $50,000 fine or pleading guilty to $50,000.

What kind of a deal would he have to -- what kind of information would he have to have in order to get that deal? Is that an unusual deal?

CALLAN: Yes, that is an unusual deal, facing that much jail time and that much of a fine. So I would say he's trading something substantial, but is it something substantial about Cohen that would lead back to the president? Or it could also -- you know, there have been ongoing investigations of the taxi industry, the medallion industry in New York. It's always under investigation. It could be a lot of information about that.

And I think the other thing you have to consider also is that Mueller was very careful about passing off the Cohen case to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, because it at least appeared to be unrelated to the Russia investigations.

[20:20:13] Now, this is something that spins off of the Cohen investigation, so this could turn out to be a New York thing primarily, rather than the path back to the Trump administration.

COOPER: Carrie, this is a state plea deal for Freidman, the taxi king, as "The Times" is reporting. But he could -- to Paul's point, he could assist federal prosecutors, as well.

CORDERO: He could, although I have to agree that I am tending to be a little bit cautious based on what we know so far before drawing too straight of a line between this plea agreement and potential implications for the president and the overall Russia investigation. So I think --

COOPER: Do you think it has potential implications for Michael Cohen? I mean, are you --

CORDERO: I certainly it has implications for Michael Cohen as a business deal. I think it's important that we recognize that there is a piece of the investigation concerning Michael Cohen that really is only about his business dealings and this taxi or whatever other financial stuff he was into in New York. And there is some piece of this investigation that is only about that.

Now, does Michael Cohen know other things about the Trump Organization, financial dealings or his other interactions with the president and his campaign team over the course of the campaign? Sure. So, could -- I'm not saying that there couldn't eventually be leverage that is placed on Michael Cohen that would affect those larger investigations. But I just do think it's important to point out that there's a piece that only pertains to Michael Cohen's business dealings.

COOPER: Michael, do you agree with that? I mean, there's also -- you know, to those of the president's allies who said the southern of New York investigation into Cohen is a convenient way to investigate things beyond Mueller's mandate that may somehow implicate the president.

ZELDIN: Well, I think there's no factual predicate for that. I agree with Carrie and Paul on both that this plea agreement is a plea agreement that's directed at Michael Cohen and his businesses, particularly perhaps his targeted medallion taxi business. Beyond that is really too speculative to know whether or not he reaches the president or anything else.

But we do know that the cooperation agreement is for him to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors. And so, clearly, the southern district wants cooperation with respect to their inquiry, which is Cohen specific. And we'll have to see, Anderson, as time progresses whether Cohen cooperates, and if he does cooperate, what does he have, if anything, to cooperate with respect to? We just don't know that and we have to be very careful not to go down that path.

COOPER: Yes, thanks, everybody.

Coming up next, one of three people approached by the confidential FBI source that the president is suggesting or flat out saying may have been a spy in the campaign. Carter Page joins us. And the latest on the extraordinary images and real danger from lava

bombs in Hawaii, coming up tonight.


COOPER: Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page joins us in a few moments.

By the time a confidential FBI source contacted him in July of 2016, presumably to assess his ties if any to Russian intelligence, he had been on the FBI's radar for quite some time. As you know, in 2013, audio surveillance picked up suspected Russian spies discussing attempts to recruit someone identified in the court filing only as male number one.

Mr. Page subsequently confirmed to "BuzzFeed News" that he was male number one, but said his contacts with the Russians in question did not include any sensitive matters and having no idea that they may have worked in intelligence services. A short time after this, FBI sources got in touch with him in 2016. The Justice Department persuaded a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance or FISA court that there was probable cause to think he was acting as an agent to Russia.

Mr. Page, we should say, has yet to be charged with any crime, and he absolutely, categorically denies any wrongdoing. Those are the facts that we know. Now, it's important to state the facts up front, because they seem to be islands these days in a sea of non-facts or alternative facts or unfounded claims and red herrings where the Russia investigation is concerned.

These days, lifelong law enforcement and counterintelligence professionals are painted as agents of a dark conspiracy or deep state agents, or the political opposition are all those things rolled into one.

Today, sitting next to the president and one of the world's younger democracies, South Korea, the president, the world's oldest democracy, did just that, once again raising the specter of spies in his campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country. That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen. It would be very illegal, aside from everything else. It would make probably every political event ever look like small potatoes.


COOPER: Well, you may not have noticed it, but the president used a small fig leaf in that first sentence, the word "if" to cover a very loaded word, spies. In his view, the reported approaches to Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and campaign official Sam Clovis were not acts of counterespionage against the Russians. They were acts of espionage by the government spying on his campaign. Now, the president refused to answer a later question today about the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia probe.


REPORTER: Do you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein?

TRUMP: What is your next question?

Excuse me, the president of South Korea, he doesn't want to hear these questions, if you don't mind.


COOPER: So, the president simply not want to offend his guest or was he done talking about Russia because he'd already made his point? He'd already said the word spies.

In just the last week or so, he's tweeted if the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal. He quoted Fox News, saying apparently, the DOJ put a spy in the Trump campaign.

He tweeted the headline: wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI spied on the Trump campaign with an embedded informant. And, of course, on Sunday, he tweeted: I hereby demand and will do so officially tomorrow that the Department of Justice look into whether the FBI, DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes.

Infiltration, spy, spies, spying. And if you think for a minute that the choice of words is accidental or incidental, listen to how many words have been using the same talking points.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major developments again tonight on the deep state, spying on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possibly paid informants to spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may indicate that the Obama administration did, in fact, spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spying they did on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or maybe two spies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spy revelations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To spy on the Republican candidate for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a spy, they got nothing from it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they ran a spy ring, that is an absolute red line.


COOPER: Now, from one spy to two spies to a spy ring, that's Devin Nunes, of course, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who should be familiar with real spy rings, as well as how real counterintelligence investigations work.

And just to refresh everyone's memory, the way they work is how they play out with Mr. Page, George Papadopoulos, Sam Clovis, and perhaps others. According to our own reporting and others, his confidential source was not someone embedded into the campaign to spy in, it he was asked to glean information from several purposes, one of whom George Papadopoulos had already reportedly boasted about being offered Russian access to Hillary Clinton's emails.

Now, this was happening shortly after Donald Trump Jr. and other top members of the Trump campaign met Russians at Trump in hopes of getting their help in betting Hillary Clinton.. This was happening in the middle of an operation the U.S. Intelligence community would warn the Trump campaign about in the summer of 2016, according to NBC News, and later conclude reading from their report, "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. Presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. Democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments."

One of the people who met with this FBI confidential source was Carter Page. And I'm please that he joins me now. Thank you so much for being back with us. I appreciate it.


COOPER: Obviously there's a light you probably can't see, do you remember when you first came into contact with this confidential informant?

PAGE: Yes, I was attending an academic conference at Cambridge University. Madeiline Albright was there and a lot of other senior people from the Clinton campaign.

COOPER: This was in the summer of --

PAGE: July of 2016.


PAGE: Yes.

COOPER: So was that after you had been to Russia or before?

PAGE: Yes, after.

COOPER: -- to make a speech at a university there. So it was the week after you leave Russia?

PAGE: Yes.

COOPER: OK. How did -- I mean, was there anything unusual about your conversations with this guy?

PAGE: I never found anything unusual whatsoever. You know, and there's a lot of allegations out there right now.

COOPER: Was that the first time you had met him, as far as you remember?

PAGE: Yes, absolutely. Yes.

COOPER: And so we're not saying his name, we're not reporting his name but it's been -- he's an academic. Did -- I mean, did he -- was he direct with you? I mean, did he try to befriend you? Take you out to lunch or dinner and then chat you up starting trying to talk about Russia?

PAGE: Well, I mean it was a long 2 1/2 day conference. And so basically from morning till late at night, we were at various debates, conversations about foreign policy and politics.

COOPER: And then how much did you stay in contact with him after that?

PAGE: We ended up staying in contact for over a year. So but it's someone you typically meet people and --

COOPER: And the contact over the year, was it just by e-mail, was it -- did you see him again?

PAGE: We met up several times, yes.

COOPER: Did he ask you to come back to England to meet up?

PAGE: No, no, I never -- that was the only time I ever met him in England. So it was always in --

COOPER: In United States?

PAGE: -- sort of the beltway, inside the beltway.

COOPER: And did he ever ask you for documents about the campaign or anything like that?

PAGE: We always, you know, we would talk about various things that are happening. And you know, he's someone who is, you know, long-term -- someone who had been part of the establishment in Republican politics.

COOPER: Right.

PAGE: So typically, you know, around the convention time and the halfway through a Presidential year, there's -- you keep bringing on more people in terms of potential supporters from the party, et cetera. It just seemed like something like that, so.

COOPER: Did he ever -- the implication that he's a spy, spying in that campaign, if someone was a spy spying on that campaign, I would think they would want internal campaign documents that you might pass along or, you know, memos or anything that would give them a view into the campaign itself. Did he ever ask you for anything like that?

PAGE: We had open conversations, so it's difficult for me to sort of ascertain much --

COOPER: But you never gave him any documents from the campaign?

PAGE: I -- you know, not that I can recall. Really, there weren't too many documents. Again, we were part of an informal campaign volunteer committee, so it's pretty --

COOPER: All right, you tweeted about this guy. You said, he never seemed suspicious, just a few scholars changing ideas. He had interest in policy and politics. I mean the President has repeatedly seemed to indicate he's a spy infiltrating the campaign. That doesn't sound like a spy infiltrating the campaign from your description there, is that fair to say?

PAGE: Well, I having been through what I've been through in terms of the defamation by major media outlets in September --

COOPER: Yes, you have sued against --

PAGE: Against -- yes, both the U.S. government -- I mean, I have two co-defendants, one is the U.S. government or the broadcasting board of governors, which under oath this --

COOPER: You've also accused the Clinton campaign of human rights abuses, going after you because you're a man and because you're a Christian or catholic, I believe or something like that?

PAGE: Well, look, I mean what is well founded, and again, it's their lawyers from Perkins School (ph) that have admitted to this. They were paying for this dodgy dossier. That came out finally last October. So a lot of the allegations, things we were talking about last March when we were having our conversation, a lot keeps being proven true and only gets worst --

COOPER: -- hired by Republicans but you're right and it was Democrats. I'm wondering, you know, you -- do you believe that the President is using this basically to try to weaken the Mueller investigation?

[20:35:03] PAGE: I see no connection with it. You know, he always said, we're looking out for the forgotten man. And you know, I was -- I've always been looking to just kind of get justice in terms of what's been going on. And to the extent that we kind of get some real information out there, as to some of the abuses, and increasingly, there's been a lot of evidence that's come out, particularly in early February when the House intelligence -- both the Democrats and the Republicans, their memos continue to show that there was a lot of wrongdoing related to this.

COOPER: What are you saying is wrongdoing here though?

PAGE: Well, look abuse of process, in terms of the FISA court. And it's interesting, because in this lawsuit, the Department of Justice, if you're suing the U.S. government, represents the federal agency. And they pleaded that, you know, there was no -- part of the sovereign immunity that there's a caveat that you can then hold them accountable.

COOPER: It's not just an individual who like -- I mean, a judge did sign off on a search warrant and the bar is high for a FISA warrant.

PAGE: Well, this is the challenge I'm having, because Department of Justice gives this false information related to, you know, there's no abuse of process. And that's exactly what they were pleading if my case, and then two days later, this is a pleading in late January, two days later on February 2nd, a lot of evidence comes out showing that's exactly what happened.

COOPER: But finally, just on this confidential informant, do you believe he was a spy infiltrating the Trump campaign or based on your interactions, were most of your discussions about Russia?

PAGE: No, no. We were talking about all sorts of foreign policy. Yes, we're two scholars --

COOPER: So you saw him -- do you believe he's a spy who is trying to infiltrate the campaign?

PAGE: We'll see. I mean there's increasingly -- you know, this is drip, drip, drip, where there's a lot of information that keeps coming out.

COOPER: There's a lot of allegations, but you're one of the few people who's actually, you know, met this guy, talked to this guy. So I'm wondering as you see it now, maybe more information will come out, but as you see it now, did you get a sense as you look back this is a guy who is trying to weasel into the Trump campaign to get documents and stuff, or -- I mean if you remember any of your conversations, was it focused more on Russia and any interactions you may have had?

PAGE: I've been shocked with some of the abuses that have happened, which I have learned about ex post facto particularly in the FISA warrant.

COOPER: So you won't give your opinion one way or the other?

PAGE: I don't like to make accusations without hard facts and -- COOPER: But based on your personal experience, do you have a feeling?

PAGE: You know, I don't like jumping to conclusions.

COOPER: OK, fair enough. Carter Page, I appreciate you're joining us.

PAGE: Thank you, Anderson, good to see you.

COOPER: The incoming president of the NRA says a culture of violence is partly to blame for school shootings in the United States. Oliver North left out one thing in his critique of that culture of violence. He left out his own involvement in making money of that violent culture. We're keeping them honest, next.


[20:41:39] COOPER: Oliver North, the incoming president of the NRA, is offering several theories about what's behind the epidemic of school shootings in the United States. Not surprisingly, he doesn't mention access to guns as one of those theories but tonight, we're keeping them honest on where he is trying to shift the focus. And what he says the problem is that we're trying to treat the symptom without treating the disease.


OLIVER NORTH, INCOMING NRA PRESIDENT: And the disease in this case isn't the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence. They've been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male. And they're young teenagers in most cases. And they've come through a culture where violence is commonplace. All we need to do is turn on a TV, go to a movie.


COOPER: Male teenagers steeped in a culture of violence. He mentioned TV and movies but you may have notice that he didn't mention the usual suspect when this argument comes up, which is video games. Both Republicans and Democrats have at times wondered if all the violent video games are having some effect on young minds.

President Trump brought it up after the Parkland shooting, so why do you think that Oliver North made no mention of violent video games? Well, keeping them honest, perhaps this video from 2012 can provide an answer.


NORTH: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, great opportunity for me to be a consultant on a script, as it were, the story plot, worked with some remarkable young developers of this story, and obviously one of the greatest entertainment media in the world. I mean, it's -- there are more people playing those things at any one time than all of the other entertainment media you would ever want to see around the world.


COOPER: So Oliver North was a consultant on what's considered one of the most violent and popular games out there, Call of Duty. Not only was he a consultant, he appeared in a video hyping the version of the game on which he consulted.


NORTH: I don't think the average American grasps how violent war is about to become. There is no longer a defined battle space. The enemy would be anywhere, and it could be anyone.


COOPER: Well, not only did Oliver North appear in that video, he actually shows up in the game itself. A younger fictionalized animated version of himself, but there is he, Oliver North in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Now, you can debate what effect, if anybody video games have on kids. Maybe you believe video games are part of the problem or just harmless fun. We aren't taking a position on either of those options but we think it's entirely fair to point out the glaring hypocrisy of Mr. North, a paid consultant, pitchman in character in a violent video game, probably doesn't have that much authority to be lament the culture of violence that boys are exposed to, or the very least if he is so concerned about violence on TV and in movies, he might want to admit he profited from that violence.

We invited Oliver North to be on the program, he declined.

Just before air, I spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders.


COOPER: Senator Sanders, these comments from Oliver North about the culture of violence, it's pretty hypocritical, given that he was -- he did a lot of work for one of the most violent video games out there?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Yes, it is. It is a little absurd. I mean, the truth is, I've got to tell you, I'm not a great fan of these very violent video games. I don't think it's a good idea to have small kids, young children be shooting down people in video games. But yes, there is an element, there's strong hypocrisy if Mr. North was involved in video games and is now condemning them.

[20:45:04] COOPER: You also look at the other things that Oliver North listed, he has talked about, you know, teenagers are doped up on Ritalin that they are overprescribed Ritalin he blames televisions, he is blaming movies, the one thing -- all of which, you know, there may be some validity in each individual things he says but, the one thing he's not pointing the finger at all is access to guns?

SANDERS: Right. And let us be clear. Right now in this country, we have 300 million guns floating around, including an estimated 5 million semiautomatic weapons. And let's also be clear that very sadly we have a lot of people who are dealing with mental crises today. Last year, we lost over 40,000 people to suicides. And people are in many cases in desperate shape.

What we need to do, and this is where, Anderson, the good news is, the American people, gun owners, non-gun owners, are united in saying we need common sense gun safety legislation. And that means expanding background checks to make sure that people who should not own guns, people who are criminals, people who have a series, a history of domestic violence, people who should not own guns should not be able to get guns. Almost everybody in America agrees with that. People agree that we should eliminate the gun show loophole, where people are able to avoid background checks.

People agree we should avoid and we should end the straw man provision that allows people to buy guns legally and then sell them illegally. There are a lot of things that have overwhelming support among the American people to go forward with keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The obstacle there is, in fact, the organization that Mr. North represents, the NRA.

And I would hope very much that the Congress finally has the guts to do what the American people want, and does not continue to be intimidated by the NRA.

COOPER: It's so interesting, though, I mean, you did have President Trump in the wake of the Parkland shooting, sort of taunting Republicans saying, oh you're scared of the NRA, doing it to their faces, and even after -- last Friday after the shooting in Santa Fe, said that his administration is determined to do everything and his power to protect students and secure schools. You know, he spoke one thing after Parkland and then met privately with the NRA and then he spoke publicly to an NRA convention. Do you take the President at his word at all that he is?

SANDERS: No, I don't. Look, I don't mean to be hyper political here, but one of the tragedies of the Trump administration is that fewer and fewer people believe anything that he says. You're right. After the Parkland crisis, he brought members of Congress together. What are we going to do? And I will support this. You bring me the legislation, I'll sign it. Then the NRA comes in and his views completely change.

So the truth is, and I say this with no joy in my heart, whatever he says on Monday doesn't necessarily mean anything on Tuesday. There is no evidence to believe he will stand up to the NRA, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans, gun owners, non-gun owners, want to see real action.

COOPER: And I also want to ask you about what's going on with this confidential source. The I.G. investigation, do you believe this is this anything other than a diversionary tactic by the president and his allies and a tactic to basically weaken the investigation?

SANDERS: No, that's what I believe it is. You know, the American people believe, whether you're Republicans, Democrats, Independent, that it should be our voters, the people of this country who determine the outcome of elections, not Russians, not people from any other country.

And what Mueller is trying to do is run. And this is a guy let's not forget, this is guy who was widely supported by Democrats and Republicans when he was FBI director, a man wildly respected. So instead of cooperating with this investigation to allow it to run its cost, what Trump is trying to do is deflect attention from the investigation and go after those people who are trying to secure the truth. Let this investigation play out. I've been asked a million times, do I think Trump should be impeached blah, blah, blah? I don't right now. Let the investigation play out. Let the truth come out and leave Mueller and his team alone so they can pursue this investigation.

COOPER: Let me ask you, though, if the tables were turned and you found out that a person who was on the periphery of your campaign for President had said something and that has gotten the attention, the FBI and they sent a confidential source to interview that person, would you have a problem with that?

SANDERS: Well, I think what is interesting about this, you know, Trump is trying to make this into a political job to the best my knowledge, the FBI did its best to keep their investigation quite during the election. So there was a political ethic to undermine any candidate, me, Trump, anybody else. They would have said they would have leaked something. That is not what happened. They believed, as I understand it, that there was reason to investigate the possibility of collusion. That's what they were doing.

[20:50:26] COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.


COOPER: 17 months into the Trump administration, there is certainly one constant, which is Twitter. No question the President has posted thousand of tweets. The question is, were they all written by him or by staffers? Coming up, Randi Kaye with what may be some of the answers.

Also, all that lava, there's a live picture there right now threatening a power plant in Hawaii. We'll take you to the Big Island, coming up.


COOPER: President Trump has posted thousands of tweets since his inauguration and the White House considers them official statements. But the Boston Globe reports that some of those tweets even the ones with misspelling for unusual use of capital letters or sentence fragment may, in fact, be the work of White House staffers. Randi Kaye tonight has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On March 21st, President Donald Trump tweeted, "Special Council is told to find crimes, wether crimes exist or not." Notice the spelling mistakes, both and counsel and whether are misspelled.

One of many tweets from this President read over errors, but it might not be from the President at all. His staff is now in on the act, sending tweets under his name.

ANNIE LINSKEY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BOSTON GLOBE: The staff intends to use programmer and intends to just use sentence fragments and will capitalize random nouns. It's sort of like Ben Franklin style of writing.

KAYE: You heard that, right? Annie Linskey is Chief National Correspondent for the Boston Globe. She's spoken with sources who tell her oftentimes it is White House staff tapping out the President's thoughts and the President himself is signing off on their mistakes.

[20:55:09] LINSKEY: The staff is just getting better at mimicking the style. It's becoming a little bit less clear who is who. I was talking to one person and he said you couldn't necessarily tell if a tweet was written by the President or by a staff member in his style.


KAYE: If there is one giveaway the tweet is actually from the President himself, it's spelling, or more specifically, misspelling. Like spelling his wife name Melanie instead of Melania, or the so mysterious covfefe. Those apparently are all likely President Trump.

LINSKEY: The capitalization and the use of fragments and the really unusual punctuation where a clear question will end with a period or an exclamation point instead of a question mark, that is -- those are elements of the staff who mimic, so those are not clear tells. The spelling is the clearest tell.

KAYE: David Robinson is a data scientist and a reporter with the Atlantic Magazine. He's developed a Twitterbot called Trump or not that somehow estimate the likelihood of whether or now Trump wrote a tweet himself.

DAVID ROBINSON, DATA SCIENTIST: His language is much angrier. He is likely to use language like crazy, badly, loser. His crier early morning tweets storm, his angry tweets those show the real signatures of being from Trump.

KAYE: This somewhat bland tweet from Trump's Twitter account congratulating his new CIA director was found by the tweetbot to have just a 15% chance of being written by the President himself. But this tweet from last month using words like "witch hunt" and "fake news," along with two exclamation points has an 87% chance of having been written directly by the President. So next time you think Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office typing out a tweet to you, think again. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: We have got a lot more ahead on this busy Tuesday night, including the breaking news that attorneys for President Trump are trying to narrow the scope of the scope of any presidential interview by Special Counsel Mueller to actions before he was elected. In other words, no face to face questions relating to possible obstruction of justice. More ahead.