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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
ABC Cancels "Roseanne" After Star's Racist Tweet; NYT: Trump Asked Sessions To Retain Control Of Russia Probe After His Recusal; "Taxi King" Gets Better Plea Deal After Raid On Trump's Lawyer. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired May 29, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
The second most watched show on primetime television, a show whose debut ratings were praised by the president of the United States, will not be seen in its regularly scheduled tonight or ever again.
Today, ABC canceled the revival of "Roseanne" after Roseanne Barr's racist and Islamophobic tweet comparing a former Obama senior adviser to an ape. Quote: Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby equals V.J. VJ is Valerie Jarrett. She's African-American.
So, you have the star of a show seen by millions every week an $18 million when it first aired, calling an African-American the offspring of an ape. She first claims she was joking, but then took down the tweet and issued an apology, also on Twitter while still calling what she wrote a joke.
I apologized to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me. My joke was in bad taste.
So, that happened today nearly years after Rosa Parks refused to move from a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, and for decades after tens of millions of Americans embraced Archie Bunker's the throwback of a bygone racist era not as a sign of things to come.
Tonight, President Trump is speaking in Nashville. We'll be watching to see if he talks about Roseanne, the cancellation of her show and the star that he embraced publicly two months ago to the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at Roseanne, I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. Look at her ratings. I got a call from Mark Burnett, he did "The Apprentice", he's a great guy. He said, Donald, I call just to say hello, and to tell you, did you see Roseanne's ratings? I said, Mark, how big were? They were unbelievable, over 18 million people, and it was about us. They haven't figured it out. The fake news hasn't quite figured it out yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It was about us, he said. So, what does Roseanne's tweet today say about us now? About where we are?
In some ways, we've never quite seen a moment like this one. ABC pulled the plug on a hugely successful show and a big moneymaker for the network. And today, every single Starbucks closed down so that employees could receive training on preventing unconscious racial bias.
When it comes to racism, unconscious or overt, it looks like the marketplace is doing one thing, even if it cost money in the short term. Yet at the very same time, something else is happening in the marketplace of ideas and politics, not only does outlandishly offensive speech and action often go unpunished, it often goes rewarded by some.
President Trump rose to political prominence after -- after all touting conspiracy theory about President Obama's place of birth, saying the first African-American president United States was not really American by birth. Roseanne Barr's racist tweet is all her own. But we will tonight take up a question: how has America changed with regard to race?
ABC's actions represent a step forward or does the fact ABC's action actually surprised so many people represent the real sign of our times?
In a moment, we'll talk with Dr. Cornel West. But first, let's talk with CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES". Also with us, CNN media analyst Bill Carter, former media writer for "The New York Times" and author of "The War for Late Night".
Brian, you've been breaking news on this all day. What's the latest?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Roseanne Barr has been working on a statement today. She may come out with a statement tonight, expressing contrition. She was not surprised by the cancellation of her show. She was given a heads up by ABC, but the producers and the writers and the cast members were shocked. In fact, the writers just going back to work today to work on season two, to start writing in season two.
We've never quite seen a network do this. Pull a show that was number one in the ratings because of behavior by a star. But it speaks out unacceptable her behavior was, how unacceptable these tweets were, and the ABC owned by Disney wants to make a statement that corporate America will fill that moral leadership vacuum that many of us feel right now.
COOPER: Bill, are you surprised at the speed with which ABC moved?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, I was surprised today, I admit. When I saw it, I was like, whoa. This is amazing.
But this is a woman who's done an awful lot of commenting that really should have pushed them, at least to be ready to do this. She has made these comments before. So if they shouldn't have been overwhelmingly surprised that she would do it again.
And I think they obviously did not want to do this. They danced around this, Brian. And when they've had this before, right, they've hesitated to take action.
STELTER: Right, right.
CARTER: And here, it was too much. It was just too much. But I don't think any of us are overwhelmingly surprised that this came out of this person this. She's been saying things like this.
COOPER: Right, in the fact, is, Brian -- I mean, ABC knew who they were hiring. I mean, her views were not been a secret. She's been very -- you know, she's been pushing conspiracy theories and other things on Twitter for a while.
STELTER: And this was a business calculation that the reward of bringing Roseanne back would be greater than the risk. Netflix and other networks, they all wanted the Roseanne revival. ABC decided to spend the money to bring it back.
[20:05:01] For a while, it looked like the reward was worth.
STELTER: Huge ratings, a lot of attention, a lot of advertiser interest. But it backfired today as advertisers wanted to look the other way, as even some cast members started saying, hey, can I get out of this show?
Now, I think the thought from ABC, whether this was the right thought or not, was that she might tone it down, that she'd be able to tone it down. Get off Twitter. Focus on the show. Give up the conspiracy theories.
But instead, she was not able to and as one Disney source said to me, this was the third or fourth flare-up.
STELTER: That's been a problem --
CARTER: We have to also point out, part of the reason people think the show was successful was because she was speaking to the Trump audience. That Trump audience has been listening to things like this for a while. And they -- she was connecting with it and she played on that.
She didn't run away from it. She said, I'm a Trump supporter. She came out and said that and it was very interesting and you emphasized it, Anderson. He said this is all about us, and it is kind of all about -- and it's all about the tone, the mood that has been set.
And there's been a lot of statements out there. The president is called, you know, the NFL players sons of bitches and he's called a representative of Congress, you know, sort of a moron and he said things that other people, other presidents would have been excoriated for, but he's not been really called on the carpet for it.
And I think she and others have said that's sort of gives us a license to say more outrageous things.
STELTER: But being a Trump supporter means you're going to call Valerie Jarrett a (INAUDIBLE)
STELTER: I don't think it does.
STELTER: I think there should be shows on television that appeal to red state America, not just blue state America. There should be shows on television featuring celebrities that support President Trump. But --
CARTER: Why not?
STELTER: -- they can't be on Twitter promoting racist, hateful conspiracy theorists.
COOPER: Bill Carter, Brian Stelter, thanks very much.
I want to go next to the often prophetic and never prosaic, Dr. Cornel West, professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and professor emeritus at Princeton University.
Dr. West, first of all, what do you make of what Roseanne Barr said and ABC's response?
CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: Well, you know, Brother Anderson, I was blessed to be at the Washington, D.C. just a few hours ago, reflecting on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., with my dear brother Robert George, connected to Baylor University and how much these days we need the spirit of Martin King, because he talked about racism, militarism. He talked about poverty, talked about materialism.
We should not be surprised. We should not get hysterical when we see anti-black racism, anti-Muslim racism, anti-Jewish racism, any form, homophobic, transphobia, patriarchy, whatever. Our challenge is how do we fortify ourselves to make those who engage in such language and action accountable, answerable, responsible and most importantly, how do we ensure that we are strong enough to help overcome the various forms of xenophobia and racism.
So, what we don't want to do is to somehow fetishize or ascribe these magical powers through these moments of vicious hatred and contempt and make it center stage. We have to continually decenter it and keep the focus on. For example, the poor people's campaign right now going on, the William Barber and their sister Thea Harris, people who are fighting, people who are trying to come to terms with what it means to overcome contempt and hatred. I think that is probably more important than anything else, because
Trump is going to be Trump. You've said before, he's gangsters, he's neo-fascist, he mobilizes the worst. He appeals to the base.
That's not new in America. He's America's cherry pie, so was Martin Luther King Jr. He's America's cherry pie too. Which part of America is going to triumph?
Right now, the King's part is very weak and feeble relative to the Trump, but we are getting stronger day by day.
COOPER: I wonder if you are hardened at all by sort of corporate America's response to this, by ABC's response to this. Obviously, their parent company Disney had a huge success with the movie "Black Panther" which brought in, you know, African-American audiences in ways that that Disney had not seen before. I mean, to you -- is it just a money decision or is something changing in corporate America?
WEST: Now, there are human beings concerned with compassion and integrity in corporate America. It's just that they don't rule things. Money rules. Profit maximizing rules and making sure once images not besmirched.
People knew who Roseanne was. Sister Roseanne has been consistent. She's a free person who speaks her mind and happens to be deeply xenophobic in a number of different ways.
So, that people are going to do what they can to make money, but when they find that the line has been crossed and their image is being besmirched, then they move in a moral way. I think that's what happened today. That's good for ABC.
And Brother Howard Schultz of who I think I've met him. He strikes me as a very decent, decent brother from Brooklyn who was done well, that he's got a real moral element in what he's doing.
[20:10:03] But, of course, he's still got to run a business. This is still the capitalist economy. You got to make money. You got to make a profit.
So, there's always going to be an ambiguity. It's always going to be a combination of trying to do well and do good, usually the doing well, the financial part rules over there doing good. But there are some moral people in corporate America. It's just that morality never is primacy when it comes to profit maximization in the capitalist economy.
COOPER: There are certainly a lot of people who will say it's unfair in any way to link President Trump to the comments made by Roseanne Barr. Do you -- do you think it's unfair? Do you think -- do you see a through-line?
WEST: Oh no, no. I heard Sister Valerie Jarrett. I think she took a high road. She was quite honorable when she talked about pushing the focus away from her selves and trying to highlight everyday people, the racism for example in the workplace, the racism in our schools, the racism in our civic institutions, the racist has been our universities and colleges and so forth and so on.
And when -- what -- the leader sets the tone and, you know, Donald Trump sets the tone. But we should not be surprised. We've got to somehow keep our focus on how do we fight with a moral and spiritual content, how do we fight in such a way that the best of who we are can be accented. He's going to do what he's going to do. What are we going to do?
Too many Americans sleepwalking, lukewarm, don't want to get involved. What is at stake is the future of this society, the future the democratic dimensions of this society. This is a crucial moment, a serious moment, a pivotal moment. But don't get full of panic and hysteria. No, not at all.
Take it from a blues people. You wake up in the morning, it's the blues. You wrestle with the blues all day, and the next morning is "good morning heartache". How do you somehow make that heartache buffer companion but never a last word, overcoming it over and over with the love, with the justice, with the courage, with the compassion and most importantly with a sense of community, cross color, cross gender, cross sexual orientation, across region.
And we should say this too I think, my dear brother, because when they talked about the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes, that vicious white supremacist characterization of my dear sister Valerie, that there's other persons who are also viewed as other.
We talk about Muslims. Where's our talk about Palestinians when 500 babies are killed and not one person in Obama or any other administration can say a word? We can't get all of a sudden hyped up about this kind of racism and not say a mumbling word about racism against our Palestinians, or similarly some Palestinians are engaged in anti-Jewish hatred. No, we've got to say, we must be consistent across the board.
That's the legacy of Martin King. That's the legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer. In the end, either we build on Martin King and Fannie Lou Hamer and rabbi Joshua Heschel or we're going under, dear brother Anderson, I'm telling. The Harvey Milks and the other, those are the ones that set the standard.
And if we don't take them seriously, then this is just going to be nothing but a kettle and a teapot. It's going to be like a teapot trembling compared to the unbelievable, amoral hurricane that's going to hit. That's what neo-fascism is. That's what Trump is most, most dangerous -- big money, big military and then xenophobia against Mexicans and gays and lesbians and so forth and so on.
COOPER: Dr. West, if you can't just stay with us. I got to take a break. I want to talk more with you.
Also, what if anything the president has to say about the tweet and the reaction, he praised Roseanne obviously for her big ratings. Will he say anything in his each tonight? You're looking at him live. We're monitoring that. Also later, breaking news in the Russia investigation. New reporting on how tightly the president was still trying to control the probe even after his attorney general recused himself.
Also, why special counsel Muller may be very interested in what the latest news is about Sessions.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: "Roseanne" is cancelled and one of the show's most prominent fans is on stage right now, two months to the day after embracing her viewers as his kind of people. The question now that Roseanne Barr has revealed by a pair of tweets to be out and out racist, Islamophobe, and anti-Semite perhaps to boot -- have the president's views changed?
Our Jim Acosta is traveling with him, joins us now from Nashville.
Has the president had anything to say tonight about the -- her comments or her show being canceled or about race frankly?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Anderson. We should point out, he does have the teleprompter is up for this speech tonight, this rally in Nashville. They sort of act like is his rally rumble strips. They don't completely keep him from going that they do sort of keep him on track.
So, we're going to be monitoring to see what he says at this rally. The White House press secretary earlier this afternoon did tell reporters that they don't have any comment on the Roseanne Barr controversy, essentially saying that they have more important things to -- the president has more important things to do like plan perhaps for this upcoming summit with North Korea.
But, Anderson, obviously, the president has been focusing on petty things over the last 24 to 48 hours as we've been seeing in his tweets. Even this morning, he accused the special counsel Robert Mueller of plotting to meddle in the upcoming midterm elections coming up this fall.
We should point out, Anderson, he is at this rally here in Nashville not because he's worried about Robert Mueller but because the jitters that exists inside the Republican Party about losing the Congress if the president has to campaign in red states like Tennessee, that means that they're worried about that inside the Republican Party.
Just a few moments ago when he came up on stage, he went after the fake -- what he calls the fake news media -- called all of us here fake news. But as we've been seeing over the last -- over the last weekend, Anderson, he's been engaging in a lot of fake news himself -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, we'll continue watch what he says.
Back now with Dr. Cornel West.
Dr. West, you know, you said something before the break that I thought it was so important, that it's easy to focus on, you know, this one -- you know, these were -- these obviously racist comments by Roseanne Barr and kind of lose sight of the day-to-day racism that so many in this country face, the day to day indignities that people face, whether it's in the corporate world or whether it's on the streets or in any walk of life.
WEST: That's right. Absolutely. I mean, the vicious forms of racism -- big white supremacy, of male supremacy, or whatever, it is anti- Jewish, anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, takes structural and institutional forms such that it delimits the life chances and the possibilities of precious human beings, whoever they are, to flourish.
[20:20:04] And we have to keep the focus as much on those realities and those who are fighting against them.
But I would also say this, that the right-wing brothers and sisters disproportionately vanilla I'm sure in Nashville who are listening to Donald Trump, that it's important to intensely criticize, to even condemn and indict but not to demonize. You see I think Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is one also of charitable Christian hatred where you hate the sin but still try to love the sinner. And by you trying to love the sinner doesn't mean you let them off the hook, they must be accountable, they must be answerable, they must be responsible, but they can change.
And all human beings do have the possibility of changing but if we get moderate Republicans, that's what I love about my dear brother Robbie George, you get moderate Republicans who step out and say, we are against forms of racism in the same way Martin Luther King is even though we're Republicans. We can disagree on a whole host of things, but when it comes to these forms of hatred and contempt, where they have to step out.
Too many Republicans right now in Congress and around the country are silent. Too many are withholding their moral tongues and thereby are culpable to reinforcing high forms of immorality. That's what we're talking about when you're talking about racism against any group, I don't care who it is.
COOPER: So, I mean, what is it that that makes you at all optimistic or gives you hope, because you and I talked in the wake of Charlottesville. You were in Charlottesville. You saw with your own eyes, you were on the on that campus on that Friday night when, you know, you had hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacist openly marching with, you know, tiki torches, chanting "Jews will not replace us, blood and soil", an old, you know, Nazi slogan.
And the president says, you know, there were some very fine people on both sides of the protests that day.
I mean, where do you see signs? What makes you optimistic?
WEST: Well, one, I've never been an optimist brother. I'm not a pessimist either. I'm a blues man. I'm a Christian. There's nothing optimistic about the cross. It is a sight of hope and hope is such a magnificent virtue when rightly understood. Misunderstood, it can leave you defenseless, in the end of -- destroy it like Thucydides says in the Melian Dialogue.
But hope in the deeper sense of Melissa king Jr. and the blues says, lo and behold, never be optimistic. That's naive. Never be pessimistic, that is paralyzing and debilitating. To be full of hope is to be in action, in movement, intellectually, spiritually, morally, politically, to be in motion, but looking at the world through moral and spiritual lens.
Martin Luther King Jr., again, so badly needed these days. So I am in no way, my brother, optimistic. I've never been an optimist, and I think that had never been a moment in human history where we had grounds for optimism as if we got enough evidence to allow us to and further things are going to get better. No.
Hope is about creating the new evidence by loving deep enough, having enough courage to try to change the world, being in the world, but not of it, and therefore not conforming to the idols but rather being anti -- nonconformist in light of a love for justice, of tenderness, of sweetness. And then you go and you can make it with a smile.
COOPER: And an action, that's where you put the focus.
WEST: Just as courageous vision, courageous action, courageous -- grand courageous touch. Action takes a number of different forms. It's not just hitting the streets and going to jail. I mean, some of us must do that, when some of us also must be willing to give our lives, you can't have a movement for justice without some people being willing to die. But not everybody and not most people.
So, action is not to be viewed in a narrow way. You can think. You can be a poet, like Kendrick Lamar. He is a artist and a poet, and that's a form of action in that way.
And so, in that way, we got to broaden it out, yourself as high quality journalist. That's the form of action. You don't need to hit the streets. You trying to be true to yourself in terms of levels of integrity as you do your job in pursuing the truth.
And recognizing that, of course, all of us are fallible and none of us have a monopoly on Truth, capital T. But they're all small truths that were willing to live and die for.
Dr. West, as always, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.
More now on why in some ways a moment like this was coming for Roseanne Barr because as a Randi Kaye reports, she has had her moments before.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Off-key and shrieking at times, Roseanne Barr was hard to listen to as she sang the national anthem back in 1990, at the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
[20:25:02] And when she was done, Barr cemented this moment in history. First, she grabbed her crotch, then she spit as if to mock baseball players.
President George Bush slammed her performance on board Air Force One.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: My reaction is it was disgraceful. That's the way I feel about it and I think a lot of San Diego fans said the same thing.
KAYE: Barr eventually apologized. She spoke about it on CNN more than two decades later.
ROSEANNE BARR, ACTRESS: The lesson here is people make mistakes and then they, you know, after they've apologized 9,000 times, they should be forgiven and it should be forgotten.
KAYE: In 2015, Barr told "The Washington Post": I started too high. I knew about six notes in that I couldn't hit the big note, so I just tried to get through it.
And the crotch grab? She told "The Post": If the song had gone better, she would have taken a longer beat between the anthem and her, quote, "tribute" to the players, but she just wanted to get out of there.
Roseanne Barr has never been a stranger to controversy. Back in 2009, Barr who was born Jewish did this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At her request, she was photographed as Hitler for a Jewish humor magazine. Apparently, she is mocking as the Holocaust.
KAYE: As part of that shoot, Barr baked what she called little Jew cookies. Barr later said she was making fun of Hitler, not his victims.
A year later in 2010, after singer Marie Osmond's son committed suicide, Barr suggested he did so because he was gay and the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints drove him to take his life. She later apologized after learning Osmond's son was not gay, but didn't back down from her views on the church.
In recent years, she's been known for her tweets promoting wild right- wing conspiracy theories. In one, she accused Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg of giving the Nazi salute.
And in another, she suggested that President Trump helped to break up a child sex trafficking ring that was run by prominent Democrats. The ring supposedly was based out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant and dubbed the pizzagate conspiracy theory. It was all made up.
Just a couple of months ago, while promoting her return to television, it was trademark Roseanne, when host Jimmy Kimmel questioned her about a tweet she allegedly posted suggesting Hillary Clinton was a murderer, this was her response.
JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT HOST: You know I'm going to find that tweet in the next 40 seconds, right?
BARR: I deleted it, so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, coming up, there's more breaking news tonight.
"The New York Times" reporting the President Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to retain control of the Russian investigation after he'd recused himself. It's the first time we're learning in this. According to "The Times" that request is now being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. Details ahead.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's more breaking news tonight. The "New York Times" is now reporting that President Trump back in March of 2017 berated attorney general Jeff Sessions and said he should reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. According to the "Times", the confrontations being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, and of course raises new question about any obstruction of justice attempts.
Joining me now by phone is "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman who contributed to the reporting. So if you can Maggie, just walk us through -- through this when and how did the President approached the attorney general to unrecuse himself essentially.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. And so almost immediately after the recusal as you recall, the President was extremely upset that it should taken place, he was caught off guard by it. It was his theory over it, as you might remember alleged the wiretap tweets that the President issued. There is a dinner at Mar-a- Lago where the President directly ask the attorney general to unrecuse in the Russia investigation.
Sessions said no, the President continued to discuss this with people, the idea that he wanted Sessions to unrecuse. He was told by some of his allies that the recusal was overly broad. And that was part of what fueled it. He was still talking about it in into the fall. And now special counsel Mueller is looking into this as part of a broader question of obstruction of justice.
COOPER: And according to "Times" report, I mean a number of the questions that the Trump team believes Mueller wants to talk about, a number of those refer to Sessions and efforts to get him to unrecuse himself.
HABERMAN: Correct, or at least efforts to talk to him about Sessions and Sessions' recusal.
HABERMAN: It's what obvious, maybe a part of that.
COOPER: And the -- is it known what -- I mean was there -- what the back and forth between the President and Sessions was like? Was it contentious discussion, because this had happened -- the President had apparently according to reporting been avoiding talking to Sessions for days, correct?
HABERMAN: Right. I mean my understanding is not that it was -- but again, I'm not certain, I don't believe that it was an overly hot sore contentious exchange. I mean -- but we're not talking about President who responds to interpersonal confrontation in most examples. But -- so we don't have enough information about that to say one way or other.
COOPER: The President hasn't really forgiven Sessions for his recusal. Has he?
HABERMAN: No. No, it actually gotten worse as I understand that. I mean he has -- he has -- that would describe them on Trump aide as the quote-unquote "original sin" by Sessions. (INAUDIBLE) to blame Sessions for it, he blames almost all of the problems that he faces, on that recusal, he blames Jeff Sessions (INAUDIBLE) on the Rod Rosenstein, he is not, then ever to Chris Wray the FBI director, the list goes on. But it all begins with that recusal, because (INAUDIBLE) he is drag in harder and seems to be trying to torment Jeff Sessions until Jeff Sessions quits. I don't think Jeff Sessions is going anyway.
COOPER: And the special counsel has pressed both current and former White House officials about the President's treatment of Sessions. Is that right?
HABERMAN: Correct. That's come up -- it does come up in several attributes.
COOPER: Rudy Giuliani weighed in on the appropriateness of this move by the President. What did he say?
HABERMAN: That I'm not sure, because I didn't have the conversation with him --
HABERMAN: -- but I think that the President believes it the questions less about the appropriateness of recusing or unrecusing. I do know that they believe that any questioning of the President that will relate to Sessions would fall under executive privilege.
[20:35:17] COOPER: All right, Maggie Haberman, from the "Times", thanks very much.
Here now to discuss is Michael Zeldin, who once worked with Robert Mueller and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.
So, Michael, did the President cross any line with this?
MICHAL ZELDIN, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's hard know. First, in support of Jeff Sessions, he did what was required of him under the regulations. There are specific regulations that require him to recuse himself from an investigation of a campaign about which he has been a senior adviser. So, really, he had no choice and, you know, if there's a blame anybody here, it's the people who advised the President in the selection of Sessions that the outset for not knowing what the regulations are regarding people who are advisors to your campaign.
So Jeff Sessions has done the right thing and the President has no jurisdiction if you will to ask Jeff Sessions to go against these regulations, that said, it may also be something that factors into Mueller's, you know, inquiry as to whether or not the President is abusing his office by insisting that Sessions do something which regulations prohibit him from doing. And we know Anderson, from the 49 questions that were, you know, distributed at some point earlier this month that many of those questions go exactly to the Sessions recusal issue and the ordering of McGahn to order Rosenstein to fire Mueller. All that stuff --
ZELDIN: -- facts -- factors into Mueller's consideration.
COOPER: Paul, Maggie wasn't sure but Giuliani told the "Times", "unrecused doesn't say bury the investigation, it says on the face of it, take responsibility and handle it correctly." Is that an argument you think would hold up?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Giuliani is trying to say that the President has the right to ask the attorney general to unrecuse itself. That is get back in bulk (ph) in the investigation. And that's not an obstruction of justice. I think what's interesting about what we're finding out tonight is that Mueller maybe investigating the possibility of the obstruction activity, beginning at a much earlier time period. Well now we're going back to March of 2017. And Trump is very concerned about the fact that Mueller is -- going well on investigations going to be started and Sessions is not in control. Our focus up until now really has been on the firing of Comey --
CALLAN: -- which comes later. So this pushes the obstruction --
COOPER: Broaden the possible.
CALLAN: Yes, it does. It's an earlier in time investigation now.
COOPER: Do you agree, Michael? I mean how much could this add to a possible obstruction of justice investigation? ZELDIN: So Paul is right, to say let's look at the timeline of things that maybe -- and I call it abuse of office more than obstruction of justice, because of the issue of whether or not the President can obstruct justice for asking people to do things that he has the constitutional right to ask them. But that's semantic.
I think, you know, you first go before Comey firing and you ask about the let the Flynn investigation go as you thought that might be the first act. But if the pressuring of Sessions to unrecuse himself in the face of regulations that require him to recuse himself is thought to be part of that abusive chain of behavior, then yes, Paul is right. You can go back in time to that potentially as your start point and you just move forward and see everything else that the President has done or is alleged to have done that implicate this. I want this investigation to end and I'm going to do anything I can to ensure that is the outcome that I achieve.
CALLAN: Can I add just one --
CALLAN: -- other thing Michael. You know, and -- you know, I'm wondering also is Sessions going to tell Trump what Mueller asked him because reports are that Mueller has had an extensive session with Attorney General Sessions. And is really interesting is Trump going to say what's he'd been asking you to prep for his own testimony. And if that happen would that be improper for Sessions to do that. You customarily, witness testimony is secret before the grand jury. But this is a prep session with Mueller and maybe Sessions will say it's not secret. I don't know how -- you know, what Michael thinks about that.
COOPER: Yes --
COOPER: -- go ahead, quickly Michael.
ZELDIN: I'll just say, I think Sessions is free to tell the President about his own testimony, but I'm sure that Mueller and his team has asked Jeff Sessions not share his testimony.
COOPER: Yes. Michael Zeldin, Paul Callan, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
More breaking news, just ahead, court document show, that a sweetheart plea deal the prosecutors made with his former business partner Michael Cohen, the guy known as the "taxi king" got a lot sweeter after Cohen's office was raided. We have details on that in a moment.
[20:43:30] COOPER: You may remember last week when the so-called "taxi king" in New York City agreed to a sweet deal to avoid jail time if he corroborated with prosecutors in their investigation with Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer to President Trump. Well, today we learned from court records that the final deal got a lot better after the raid on Michael Cohen's office. The home and hotel room.
With me now is CNN's Kara Scannell. So explain how the -- if you can have the new deal compared to the deal that the "taxi king" was originally offered.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, so essentially this new deal means no jail time at all. We look back at some court transcripts that hasn't been previously reported that showed back in March that statement was offered a deal, where he would serve between two and six years in prison and pay a million dollars. Then remember, he charge with not paying $5 million in taxis. So, that was the initial deal that was on the table, he rejected that.
COOPER: He rejected that deal.
SCANNELL: He rejected that deal. The prosecutors said we're not going to offer another. We're going to go ahead to trial, that trial was scheduled to again next month. Now, what we learned was last week that freedman struck a different deal that allowed him to avoid jail time all together, and agree to pay back the $5 million and taxis that he owes in New York.
COOPER: Now, the prosecutors though have not said that this new deal was in anyway a result of anything they discovered during the Michael Cohen array?
SCANNELL: That's right. They haven't tried any connection --
COOPER: But it certainly seems coincidental.
SCANNELL: Well, I mean right. I mean if you look at the timeline here. You know, plea deals can be sweetened because of a trial date that's coming up. But when we look at this, we see that it was in March 21st, they had the initial offer, He rejected it.
SCANNELL: And then --
COOPER: And that was -- we're putting on the screen, two to six years in prison and a million dollars fine.
[20:45:01] SCANNELL: That's right. Then April 4th, they going to court, they reject that deal. The prosecutor says, we're not going to make another offer. Five days later Michael Cohen's office is raided by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. At by -- after a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. And then we flash forward, you know, about a month and we see this other offer where Freidman pleads guilty. And as we know the "New York Times" is reported first, he's going to cooperate as part of that investigation.
COOPER: That's an awesome picture by the way of Freidman with his glasses on. Cohen -- I mean we should pointed out, Michael Cohen has not been charged with any crime at this point and we don't know what if anything, any cooperation by Freidman would actually relate to, it may not relate to anything, relating (ph) to the President if may if it has anything to do with Michael Cohen, it may related to just some kind of business deals.
SCANNELL: That's right. And I mean this -- the raid was conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. They have said that they're looking into Michael Cohen's personal financial dealings. That raid happen as the result of the search warrant with sources have told CNN relates to whether -- looking for item have to do with any payments that Cohen made which we know about the Stormy Daniels payment, as well as taxi medallion business. That's the limitation of what we know. And what we know is that Cohen has own medallions for about two decades. And one of his business partners in this was he get -- made Freidman who potentially managed the business for him.
Cohen had since got to distance himself from Freidman, he had said, he was never a partner. And Freidman through his attorney told me last month, before this deal came about that Michael Cohen is a great friend and wonderful client.
COOPER: All right, we'll see what happens. Kara Scannell, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Just ahead, Roseanne Barr's TV show canceled, after she goes on a racist Twitter rant. Details and the fallout, ahead.
[20:50:23] COOPER: We're going to turn back to our lead story about Roseanne Barr, ABC in raise, we're continuing to monitor President Trump speaking national tonight to see if he's going to mentioned it, because as we noted, he embrace Barr and her show when it first launched. He's been talked for about half an hour, he's not said anything about it yet. If you ever glance at Roseanne Barr's Twitter. You know she's no stranger to pushing conspiracy theory from this information or personal attacks. Today, she posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, former top adviser of President Obama. Barr tweeted, Muslim brotherhood and planet of the apes had a baby= VJ. VJ meaning Valerie Jarrett who was African-American.
Barr also tweeted the false claim about Chelsea Clinton the debunk conspiracy theory about George Soros and the Holocaust and now as we reported, ABC canceled her TV show and her agents drop her as a client.
Lots to talk about with the panel. Joining me is Michaela Angela Davis, Alice Stewart, Van Jones, Rich Lowry, and Brian Stelter.
Michaela, were you surprised at the speed with which ABC moved on this?
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC WRITER: Yes and no. No because there has been sustained pressure before we all heard about it. And also notably this is about Valerie Jarrett, a black woman and ABC Network has their first black woman executive, head of entertainment, Channing Dugney. So I feel like, there's been an escalation of pressure from social media, an action from networks, from sponsors. So, that she's part of a trajectory that has been happening for a while. But literally between shows, it got canceled. So I do feel like there's a bit of us that are catching our breath, but also, realizing that we have been doing this -- sort of sustained activism to social media for a while.
COOPER: It's interesting though Van, I mean ABC which is also owned by Disney, Disney said a huge success with Black Panther, I mean -- and as you said, they have a new head of ABC Entertainment.
DAVIS: Yes, entertainment.
COOPER: So, I mean there is increasing importance that Disney and ABC is placing on African-American audience.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST: That's true.
COOPER: Is this a part of that do you think?
JONES: It could be, one thing hasn't talked about enough is, who is Valerie Jarrett? You can't have a bigger contrast than the classless Roseanne Barr and the 1000% class act that is Valerie Jarrett. If Obama -- if Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were king and queen, Valerie Jarrett was the queen mother. When you worked in that White House you were more concerned about offending Valerie Jarrett than you were the chief of staff or anybody else. She held the standard.
And for her, in particular to be subjected to this sort of crap, I think it shocked a lot of people. And I think they picked her -- I think Roseanne Barr picked the wrong African-American woman to mess with. And people were unbelievably outrage today, that you -- and listen, you take those jobs in that building, in that White House, it is 24/7 pressure. She never cracked. It is the 24/7 opportunities to be rude, to be offensive, to lose your grace, to lose your place. And she never did. And then she leave, and she goes out and she does good stuff in the communities, helping causes. Why pick on her? Why pick on her.
And so part of this story has to be, its not just you have a classless moron in Roseanne Barr, which you have a class act and the entire country stood with her and that's important.
COOPER: Alice, would you expect President Trump to say anything about it tonight?
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I would hope that he would, but I don't expect him to which is really unfortunate. The problem is, you know, when your introduction talk about Roseanne Barr and the spreading of conspiracy theories, and misinformation, and racist comments. Donald Trump has done quite a bit of that himself, and that's really unfortunate. This is a truly teachable moment when someone makes such a disparaging comment about someone in the such class. This is an opportunity to really show, look political correctness. This is isn't about political correctness, this is about human decency. And you don't talk like this kind of things, you don't talk like this without being some serious consequences, and right now monitoring this speech all day long today, the President hasn't denounced this at all. It's sad that Mickey Mouse is taking more of a stand on racism than the President of the United States.
And ABC did the right thing, they have 18 million reasons, 18 million viewers of the show to stand behind her, but they took a stand, because it's rightly. And unfortunately, Roseanne Barr did a good thing in terms giving conservatives a seat at the table. The entertainment industry finally says we can entertain an idea without having accept it. But she had the opportunity to put us at the table, Hollywood didn't ignore half of the country for the first time in a long time. And unfortunately, this has done tremendous damage to them.
[20:55:04] JONES: And listen, I agree 200%, we need to have more red state heroes and (INAUDIBLE) and voices, but red state America can have a better representative than Roseanne Barr. You know, that's important.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to have more on this much more to talk about ahead with the panel. We're also keeping an eye on that rally national as you know, going to show a premier the President called Roseanne to congratulate her on a ratings, we'll see if he mentioned her tonight. More ahead.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: -- somebody steals.
COOPER: Roseanne Barr compares an African-American woman, former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape. She called it a joke, then a bad joke. She apologize to Jarrett and to the country but the damage was done. ABC canceled the show. And across the country people are certainly talking about it tonight.
Joining us again is Michaela Angela Davis, Alice Stewart, Van Jones, Rich Lowry, Brian Stelter. Also with us now "New York Times" op-ed columnist Charles Blow.
Rich, I mean is it disingenuous for the White House to say that the President is too focused elsewhere to comment on this given that, you know, he's certainly commented on a lot of things and, you know, it had gave talk in a speech about Roseanne's ratings for quite, you know, a lengthy amount of time.
RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It would have and better feel in White House kind of look around the corner a little bit, because this is not really a shocking story, it's not a knew phenomenon that she is cook with vial abuse. I mean this is readily available anyone who looked at her Twitter feed or did a Google search over the years. And this is just a weakness of the right. We disdain celebrities, but we crave our own celebrities. We disdained popular culture, but we definitely want successes in the popular culture. And the show was one of those. Now, I'm at a disadvantage, I've never seen the program. I only watch news and sports. I haven't watched a broadcast sitcom since the 1990s. But, as Van said, if you want someone who represents kind of Red America, find someone better.
COOPER: Brian, you have been reporting about this all day. I mean what's the latest that you've learned about this?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That there's a sense of pride within ABC and Disney for this decision, and how quickly it happened. And there's a question about what Roseanne might say next, you know. She was speaking about, issue a statement, a statement of contrition. One of her producers came out just a minutes ago and said I hope she seeks help implying counseling or therapy.
You know we've seen this act before with other celebrities, right were they say, they're going to try to say the right things, do the right things, seek help and mount a comeback. Is that possible in a case like this or not. I think that remains to be seen. But clearly Disney believes it's on the right side of history here, trying to say and do the right thing and do it quickly.
Remember this happened even before lunchtime on the west coast. So these executives were moving quickly to take action, but -- and so we have you talk about why she was brought back in the first place. To your point about her history on social media conspiracy theories.
[21:00:05] It reminds me an old fan Anderson, never tweet, you know, never post. People often times step in it on social media. And this one of those really, really, greatest examples.