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President Trump Silent on Roseanne Barr's Racism, Instead Attacks ABC for Apologizing; NY Times: Former Acting FBI Director Feared Rosenstein Gave Trump Cover Story for Comey Firing, Wrote Memo About It. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump weighs in on Roseanne Barr's racist tweet without mentioning her racist tweet, not mentioning that she compared Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman, to an ape. Instead of addressing that, he says the network that fired her for that owes him an apology.

He tweeted, "Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like those made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?"

So that happened, and then came the White House briefing. CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now with more on how that unfolded.

So Boris, rather than take a stand on this, the President is basically saying that he never got an apology from ABC, correct?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's about it, Anderson. President Trump, as you noted, not directly addressing the content of Roseanne Barr's tweets, those vile, racist remarks that at one point she blamed on having taken Ambien. Instead, he tried to reframe the narrative and make it about himself. Some have suggested that offers kind of a look into the President's mentality. He did, obviously, use it as an opportunity to take aim at what he perceives as an enemy in the media.

Further, the way that the President has sort of crafted his response is notable because, look, this is a President that has been accused of being, you know, apologetic towards some with racist inclinations. And further, his own rhetoric at times has been less than tolerant, Anderson.

COOPER: What was the White House, through Sarah Sanders' response to all of this?

SANCHEZ: Yes, effectively, Sarah Sanders echoed the President, turning this into an argument about the way that the President is covered in the media and sort of listing some grievances that the administration has. Here's a taste of what she said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media, saying that the most horrible things about this President -- and nobody addresses it. Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the President and anyone associated with him a white supremacist; to Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the President on "The View" after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head?

This is a double standard that the President is speaking about. No one is defending her comments. They're inappropriate, but that's what the point that he was making.


SANCHEZ: Sarah Sanders, obviously, very prepared for that question, as she read out that list. So the White House is essentially trying to toe a line here, not defending Roseanne Barr, but sort of casting this as, you know, a way for the President to attack the media. Notably, Sarah Sanders went further than the President did. She did say that Roseanne Barr's comments were inappropriate, something that is lacking from the President's tweet. Anderson?

COOPER: Boris Sanchez, thanks very much. In our last hour, Roseanne Barr's ex-husband, Tom Arnold, joined us. His first television appearance talking about this. Here's just a portion of that conversation.


TOM ARNOLD, EX-HUSBAND OF ROSEANNE BARR: I was not surprised that -- what went down and that the show was canceled. I had a feeling that this was going to happen when I first heard it was coming back, that there was a reboot. And --


[21:05:00] ARNOLD: Yes, I just know -- when I heard about her politics, I knew she was a -- when I read her social media, in the very beginning, and saw how she was so into the conspiracy stuff with Donald Trump and so -- how far gone she was, and the Pizzagate and Hillary's a pedophile and Obama wasn't born here and she was, you know, a birther and how crazy that was, I just knew that this would not end well.


COOPER: I want to bring in the panel. Kirsten Powers, Paris Dennard, Paul Begala, Jason Miller, Alice Stewart, and Michael Shear.

Kirsten, I mean, were you surprised that the President did not at least say something about the racist nature of her comments or used this as an opportunity to address anything wrong? KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I wasn't surprised at all. Because I don't think he ever really takes an opportunity to condemn racism, even when his own -- when people, you know, the alt-right people were attacking a journalist, Julia Ioffe, and he was asked about it for being Jewish, and he just said, I'm -- you know, I have no message for my fans. You know, rather than saying, oh, maybe my supporters shouldn't be sending pictures of a journalist with her head photoshopped on, you know, concentration camp victims heads.

So I'm not surprised by that at all. And I'm also not surprised, frankly, that he has turned this into a grievance because that's what he does and that's what a lot of his voters like, is that to be in of the this state of perpetual grievance that they have it so hard, even though none of those things that he mentioned comes anywhere close to what Roseanne Barr did to Valerie Jarrett.

COOPER: Paris, I mean as a supporter of the President, are you disappointed that he didn't at least address her comments?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no, I don't think that the President needed to, because Roseanne, her comments as an individual on Twitter, which were horrible and racist, should not have been associated with the President because of her character on the show being a Trump supporter. If that were the case, then we should liken Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and President Obama to Harvey Weinstein, because of their association --

COOPER: But wasn't it the President who wrapped himself in Roseanne Barr?

DENNARD: Because of her show and the character on the show being a Trump supporter and how the American people responded by turning out -- I think 18 million people are watching the show.

COOPER: But he did say he called Roseanne Barr --

DENNARD: Because she's the actress. Right, she is the actress on the show who portrays somebody. But I think the President's point about -- well, to your point about the way Trump supporters and people filed these grievances, yes, the point that he made did not come close to what some other people have said that did not have the same reaction from ABC or the mainstream media or networks in response to their racist comments. You can go down the list. Joy Behar has said, Jimmy Kimmel, his black base, Joy Ann Reid --

POWERS: You can't say that Joy Behar saying something about Christians is the same as saying Valerie Jarrett is the child of an ape.

DENNARD: Well, as a Christian, I will take --

POWERS: First of all, I'm a Christian also and she apologized for it also.


POWERS: But you can't seriously say that's the same thing as saying a woman is the child of an ape?

DENNARD: Sure, then what about Joy Ann Reid and what he said about homosexuals, what about Cedric Richmond in what he said about Kellyanne Conway, essentially calling her a whore. What about Game of Thrones putting George W. Bush's head on stick, what about Joe Biden, the Former Vice President joking, saying that you can't walk into a 7- Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts without having workers having an Indian accident or President Obama having a main street African-American who's articulate, bright, clean, and nice-looking guide or Harry Reid, the senator saying, President Obama was light-skinned with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one?

POWERS: Paris, you're doing exactly what I'm talking about, it's always about the grievance of the Trump voters rather than just saying that something's wrong. It doesn't matter --

DENNARD: Were those statements wrong?

WEBSTER: Of course they were wrong! He apologized for it.

DENNARD: Was Joe Biden wrong? Was Harry Reid wrong?

POWERS: What you're doing --

DENNARD: And what was the ramification for their action?

POWERS: What are you talking about?

DENNARD: There was nothing.

POWERS: Joy Reid almost lost her job.

DENNARD: No, she has her job.

POWERS: She was dragged through the mud and she apologized.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We just had a tutorial on what about aboutism.

POWERS: Exactly.

BEGALA: And those are legitimate grievances but the --

DENNARD: And racist comments.

BEGALA: Of course.

DENNARD: Thank you.

BEGALA: Our focus today, we have only one President -- we have lots of comedians, we even have lots of senators, but then we have one President. And this was -- I thought Valerie Jarrett conducted herself with such dignity. Without striking back, she said, this is a teaching moment. Well, at these moments, we turn to our President. And in my lifetime, all of our Presidents, Republican and Democrat have risen to the occasion. When a Klansman burned a cross in a Maryland family's house, Ronald Reagan went there and had lunch with that family. He called out that racism and embodied unity. When David Duke was running, George H.W. Bush disavowed him.

DENNARD: As did President Trump.

BEGALA: Just a second --

COOPER: Well, actually, he initially pretended he didn't know who David Duke was --

BEGALA: He gave an interview with Jake Tapper that he refused to disavow --

[21:10:01] DENNARD: The facts are, President Trump disavow David Duke in 2016 --

BEGALA: You worked for President George W. Bush --


BEGALA: A wonderful job, three days after 9/11 we went to a mosque, and he called us to love and support Muslims because he said, Islam is peace. We're not at war with the Islam. That was a wonderful unifying event.

I worked for Bill Clinton, after right-wing terrorists bomb Oklahoma City, he called us to unity. President Obama did after that horrible murder at Mother Bethel Church in Charleston where people are murder during bible study?

These are the things that the modern president must do. And this was a teaching moment. And our President, instead, made it about him and his grievances. They've said -- lots of people have said horrible things about Donald Trump --

DENNARD: Including your former boss, the racist remarks that he's made and the comments that he's made.

BEGALA: See, it's all about what aboutism.


COOPER: Jason, is the president from communication -- I mean, you're a communications guy, should -- I mean, wasn't this just an opportunity for the President just to say, look, this is -- it's abhorrent, you know, there's no place for this kind of language in our country?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it always makes me feel a bit weird when we talk about an opportunity. I've heard people on TV, on networks all across the board say today, this is an opportunity. The President could have done this or the administration should have done this. I mean, this is an opportunity. These are horrific, racist remarks that have no place in our society. I think ABC probably did the right thing.

I think many on the political left and unfortunately what some in the media want the President to do is to own this type of behavior. And we saw it today with certain folks. Chris Hayes over an opposing network said these type of views represent a lot of Trump supporters. You saw Tom Arnold make comment s in the previous hour that were very similar in the same vein to the same thing that these type of comments reflect Trump supporters and probably even the President himself. I think that's terrible, that's way out of bounds. I think there was a missed opportunity here today, not just by whether it be just society as a whole, because we're obviously sprinting toward this, well, we've got to fire this person, got to fire this person.

Probably would have been more powerful if ABC went and had Roseanne out there apologizing and then doing a tour and then using her show as an opportunity to go and talk about how we need to change society.

Now we have hundreds of people fired, Roseanne is off tweeting and joining InfoWars or whatever she's doing, and has anything really changed? No.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The problem is you have the President who does take the opportunity, when "Roseanne" comes out, her show is extremely successful, it finalist give middle class Americans, blue collar workers a seat at the table on Hollywood and gives us a voice that we haven't had before, and the President takes the opportunity to call her and congratulate her and wrap his arms around her at that point. Now when she steps in it and says a horrific, racist thing, he's at arm's length and won't speak out.

Look, I support the President, I support his policies, but I don't support the horrific things he has said about many people. And if he can support her show, as Paris said, he should be able to stand back and say, I don't support these things that she's saying. And for the White House to come out and saying, we're not defending what she's saying, they should be denouncing it.


MILLER: I think that's a little bit of a false choice because let's just say hypothetically the President did come out and denounce Roseanne Barr's horrific comments. The very next words that would be coming out of many members of the media and the entire political left would be, what about this, what about that, what about what this person said and would go right down the list. And it would go right down the rabbit hole, trying to force what I said initially, is that many opponents want to force President Trump to own behavior that is not his. That's not fair.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But Jason, I think what's interesting about this, and it's the very same thing that he does all the time, is that in some ways, he ends up owning these controversies because he refuses to just sort of lance the boil quickly, right? Same thing with the comments about John McCain that one of his staffers made. Had he and his White House come out, you know, minutes after that became public and said, that was not the right thing to say. We apologize. There wouldn't have been a week of stories about it.

Likewise, with this, if the President either himself or through Sarah Sanders had said, this is -- these are awful remarks. And if each time he did that, if each time as you say one of these things came up, they quickly said, you know, we're going to make -- we're going to --

COOPER: But you think back about Charlottesville, where his initial remarks, you know, were that -- you know, talking about the neo-nazi rally on a Friday night, that there is good people you know, in that crowd I mean it's --

MILLER: Mike, where I agree with you is on the McCain comment. And I said that on the air, and I said, if they had had apologized right away, it would have been done and would have been like a 20-minute news cycle and not a four-day news cycle. The terrible comments from Roseanne Barr were not the President's, they were not from the administration. They had nothing to do with the President. That's the difference. The President shouldn't be apologizing --

SHEAR: But as Paul said, there is nothing in this society that doesn't touch the President. You know, on any topic, you can't pick anything --

COOPER: Right, George H.W. Bush was asked about Roseanne singing the national anthem and commented on Air Force One about it and said it was disgusting and terrible. That wasn't him owning it.

SHEAR: Yes, and that's part of what you get when you take the job.

COOPER: Right.

SHEAR: You take on the sort of cultural -- the cultural commander in chief --

MILLER: But, hold on, nobody was going to say, OK, George -- President Bush, it's your fault. You're the one who owns Roseanne Barr. You're the one who, you know, you're clearly in support of someone singing --

[12:15:13] POWERS: Jason, you're setting up a false choice. Nobody is saying he owns it. They're just saying that he should condemn it.

MILLER: That he should disown it.

POWERS: That would just the normal --

MILLER: Here's what you're missing. The political opponents --

POWERS: It would just be the decent thing to do.

MILLER: -- are trying to force the President to own it. That's what this --

POWERS: No, they're not. They're just asking him to be decent. And no one is really --


DENNARD: What you're doing is applying a different standard to President Trump than you would to any -- excuse me. Think about when the comedian called President Obama the n-word in his face at the correspondents' dinner.


DENNARD: Oh, yes, we don't remember that?

POWERS: No, no, I just don't know why you keep doing this what aboutism. It's just -- you keep --

DENNARD: I'm giving you examples --

POWERS: You keep claiming that this is what --

DENNARD: --of President himself something that you don't want to hear because you're doing what every Trump supporter --

COOPER: Let's get a quick break in and we'll continue to talk about this. We'll be right back with more.


COOPER: Well, we're talking about what the President should or should not have said about Roseanne Barr's racist tweet. Here's what White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said when asked about the President's tweet on it, today the one demanding an apology himself from ABC.


SANDERS: The President is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media, saying that the most horrible things about this President -- and nobody addresses it. Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the President and anyone associated with him a white supremacist; to Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the President on "The View" after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head?

This is a double standard that the President is speaking about. No one is defending her comments. They're inappropriate, but that's what the point that he was making.


COOPER: Back now with the panel.

[21:20:01] So Paul, what's wrong with pointing out -- the White House pointing out what they believe is a double standard?

BEGALA: Well, because it makes it about the President as a victim. And he has to be the healer. He -- this is the odd thing, people say it's a time of change, it's the first time since the founding generation that we've had three two-term Presidents in a row. The only thing that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have in common is that they saw divisions in America and they most deeply wanted to heal it.

And I think anybody who travels this country, we have desperate divisions. Jason just referred to it a minute ago, divisions of gender and geography and race and religion and generation and political ideology and sexual orientation. And this is the first President in my lifetime who sees those divisions and puts a wedge in them and drives them further apart, instead of every other President of every party in my lifetime has seen those divisions and said, oh, good Lord, I've got to hold this country together. He just seems unable to rise to the occasion and it's a tragedy.

STEWART: And instead of, from my view, in a communications standpoint, they probably would have been better off to leave it as Sarah did yesterday, he's busy on bigger things, he's on busy with North Korea, he is busy with bigger issues, he's not going to comment on this. And that would not have been ideal, but it's better than what they did now because they made it not about they, but about me.

And for this administration to go down that list of all these people that have tweeted horrible things about the President and demanding an apology, what about Donald Trump? Where's his apology to Heidi Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, heck his own attorney general? He said terrible things about. So it's really disingenuous, I believe, for this administration to demand apologies for horrible things said, when he he's done that and much more.

COOPER: Michael, you were making the argument before that had he just -- because Jason's point, you know, which is a valid one, is that the President's critics would not -- you know, it wouldn't be enough. It would be a chink in his armor that they would then say, well, what about this and take it further. You're saying you think this would be a way for him to kind of not own it, but basically disown it and move on from it?

SHEAR: Right. I mean, look, I don't disagree with Jason that there are political opportunists on both sides and the President certainly has his enemies and his critics who might try to make hay over no matter what he does. So in some ways, any President, any politician who is at the heart of what, as Paul says, is a divided nation, are going to get people who are going to try to take advantage. So it's true that there probably will be that. But I still got to think from putting aside the moral question of whether he should have condemned it for moral reasons, it surprises me that the political people around him aren't saying to him in these instances, in these cases, that the way to get past them -- I mean, he said it in one of his tweets, he has more important things to work on. I mean, he's got a summit he's got to deal with in however many, 10 days, or whatever.

You would think that there would be political people saying, the way to get past these things is to not to sort of needle the country and poke at the wound and try to sort of, you know, whip everybody up. But rather figure out a way to quickly say, look, it wasn't me that said this, but I condemn it, this is an awful sentiment. Now let's move on and let's talk about infrastructure.

MILLER: Where I disagree with you is I think if the President had done that or the administration had done that in a bigger way, in a way that you laid out, we would have gone into two, three, four days of a big race relations debate right now as the President's getting ready for this summit. Is that an important topic that we need to do to bring the country together at some point? Yes, absolutely. Is this a time with everything going on with China, with North Korea and the summit coming up on June 12th? I don't think the administration's ready to go into that right at the moment. But I think it was smart of them, from a purely, from a tactical side to throw the punches back and call out the inconsistencies.

COOPER: But issues of race, I mean it's not just something that should just be a one-off discussion. That's an ongoing discussion I mean that all of us should be having at all times, not just when there's some crisis. You were saying that that's not what the President is --

POWERS: Well, I mean, just everything you said would make sense for any President except President Trump. Because I don't think he wants to move past it. I think this is what his voters like, grievance. To be, we are aggrieved, look how hard we have it, the big, bad liberals are so mean to us and there's such a double standard. And so he the goes right into that, because that's exactly what they want to hear. And then we get the list of all the other things that, you know, that's so unfair. Never mind that he's the President of the United States. Why is he even care if someone apologizes for these things?

You know, and even to say like none of these people paid a price. I mean, Kathy Griffin didn't pay a price? She paid a price? You know, Joy Behar, I think -- didn't she call Mike Pence? I mean, she apologized for it. I mean, the idea that there weren't apologies is not accurate. But even if there weren't, grow up! You're the President.

MILLER: But Kristen, you just -- respectfully speaking, you just did the thing that Trump supporters go so nuts about, whereas if you talk about them as a collective block. As if they're like -- well, these are my words, not yours, but the feeling around is these are these rube, Trump supporters --

[21:25:04] POWERS: No, I didn't call them rubes.

MILLER: I know, that's why I said it was my words.

POWERS: Yes, I don't --

MILLER: But it's just feeling of, you know, here are these -- you know, they feel like we're aggrieved and we do this and like, you know, this is big monolithic --

POWERS: But I think it's true and I think there's a lot of --

COOPER: But didn't the President used those same terms when he said, this is about us -- about "Roseanne's" show, he said, it's about us. That sounds like a monolithic term.

MILLER: Well, when he's talking about -- I mean, that's very specific. You're talking about a family that's probably making, you know, $40,000 a year --

COOPER: But I mean, to the point where you shouldn't talking about Trump supporters as a monolithic block, he's talking about them as if they're a monolithic block.

POWERS: And I'm talking about his base supporters. I don't mean every person who's ever voted for Trump. But there's been plenty of polling that's been done on this on what motivated people to vote.

COOPER: Right. We've got to get a break. More breaking news on a memo from fired FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe that we do not know existed but Robert Mueller now has that could shake up the Russia investigation. We'll talk to a former judge and attorney general, next.


COOPER: Our breaking news tonight, "The New York Times" revealing details on a memo from fired FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe that's given -- it's been given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now, according to the Times, in the memo, written last spring, McCabe gives details about the firing of his predecessor, James Comey. "The Times" says that the memo describes a conversation that McCabe had with Rod Rosenstein in which the deputy attorney general said the President originally asked Rosenstein to refer to Russia in his own memo, explaining the firing of Comey. But the actual Rosenstein memo, as you might remember, cited Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation as the reason for the firing. No mention of Russia. A great deal to discuss with former Attorney General and Former Federal Judge, Michael Mukasey. Thanks so much for being with us.


[21:30:00] COOPER: First of all, on this breaking "New York Times" story. We were talking about it right before we went on air. It's unclear, really what if anything, the significance of it is.

MUKASEY: Correct. Because we don't know what -- we don't know -- we assume the President said that, we don't know what he meant.

COOPER: What context he said, talking about Russia.

MUKASEY: Exactly. And of course it wasn't mentioned.

COOPER: Right. He could have been saying to Rosenstein, you know, put in this memo that I'm personal not under investigation in the Russia --

MUKASEY: Right, which is what he had asked Comey to say and Comey refused to say it publicly, notwithstanding that it was true.

COOPER: Yes. MUKASEY: But as you say, we --

COOPER: We don't know.

MUKASEY: We don't know.

COOPER: Well, let's talk about the treatment of the attorney general. Obviously, as a former attorney general yourself --

MUKASEY: As a card-carrying member of the union of former attorneys general --

COOPER: Yes. The President's tweet today that he wish he would have picked a different attorney general. I mean, how unusual is this? And what kind of impact does it have, not only on the attorney general, but on the Justice Department?

MUKASEY: Obviously, it's not only unusual, but it's unique. Never seen anything like it. I don't think it has any impact, believe it or not --

COOPER: Really?

MUKASEY: -- on the Justice Department, because that department is humming, as far as I can tell, on just about all eight cylinders. They're bringing MS-13 cases, they're bringing immigration cases. That attorney general was being attacked on virtually a daily basis now, is actually carrying out the President's agenda.

COOPER: Well, that's what's so odd about it. I mean, of all the cabinet officials, he's probably carrying out the President's agenda more effectively, faster than anyone else.

MUKASEY: Precisely, precisely. And instead of appreciating that, the President stamps his buster browns on the sidewalk, flaps his gums, yells, and otherwise, you know, behaves in a way that's inappropriate to his age.

COOPER: But -- so you don't think it has any real impact, other than, on the attorney general himself or on the --

MUKASEY: I can't speak to the impact on the attorney general. I try to speak to him occasionally. Largely, he's doing a terrific job. Please, you know, stay strong.

COOPER: Mm-hmm.

MUKASEY: But I have had occasion to meet for business reasons with members of the Justice Department and they seem to be functioning just fine.

COOPER: Is it appropriate for the President to be belittling his attorney general publicly like this?

MUKASEY: It's not a question of being inappropriate. That's both over-inclusive and under-inclusive. It's inane. It serves no purpose whatever. It doesn't help the President. And he's essentially attacking him for something that he was obligated to do, which is recuse himself.

COOPER: And the notion that the President -- and that we recently learned that Jeff Sessions went down to Mar-a-Lago after the President, not speaking to him for several days on another issue, and basically asking him to un-recuse himself, if that's even a word?

MUKASEY: I don't know that it's a word, but if that's what happened -- what my first reaction was, it sounds like some 6-year-old kid who doesn't like his baby sister and asks his mother to un-give birth to her. You know, it's quite inane. He couldn't do it without violating an existing regulation of the department that was enforced when he applied it. It was in force when they had the conversation. And it will be enforced after Jeff Sessions leaves.

COOPER: Some people I've talked to on the program last night said, well, it was correct for the attorney general to recuse himself, but he should have told the President that he was going to recuse himself.

MUKASEY: He would have to have had the gift of prophesy in order to do that, because he would have to have been able to envision the development that investigation that didn't exist at the time that he was -- that he took his job.

COOPER: And that certainly repeatedly seems to be one of the President's gripes. I mean he had said repeatedly, had I known, you know, he should have told me. You're saying that just would not have been possible?

MUKASEY: Correct. It would not have been possible for him to have said it at the time. And had the President had the gift of prophesy, he would have picked somebody else? Fine, I'll take his word for it.

SCIUTTO: So your advice to Jeff Sessions?

MUKASEY: Stay strong, brother.

COOPER: Keep your head down, keep moving.

MUKASEY: Look, there's a brass plate that used to be on the top of British man of war, right on the top spar. It said "hold fast." That's the advice he should follow.

COOPER: Judge, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

MUKASEY: Thanks a lot.

COOPER: Great to have you.

COOPER: Back now with our panel. Also joining us is former Trump White House lawyer, James Schultz.

Michael, I mean, whatever the President did or didn't ask Rosenstein to put in the memo, just the fact that McCabe was concerned enough about it to write his own memo, does that say something to you? SHEAR: Well, I think it does. And I think part of the heart of all of these questions, whether it's questions about Sessions or whether it's questions about what Rosenstein and McCabe talked about, it all goes to the heart of intent. And it goes to the question of, was the President trying, in all of these different ways, to stop the procession of an investigation that was into him and his associates? If that's what he was trying to do, if, ultimately, at the end of the day, the motive that the President was engaging in, in telling Rosenstein, you know, that he wanted that part to be in the memo, that he wanted the part about Russia to be in the memo or when he was telling Sessions that he wanted him to un-recuse himself. If the whole point of that and this is what Mueller has to figure out, if the whole point of that was, I want this investigation into me to stop, then that goes to the intent that the special counsel is looking for.

[21:35:20] And we don't know the answer to that question yet, but that's sort of the string, the through line that goes through all of these different pieces.

COOPER: Jim, I mean how do you see this?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: That premise is somewhat flawed. Because at the time, remember, Comey had said, told the President privately that he was not under investigation, that he was not personally under investigation. The fact that the President wanted to say that is not obstruction of justice, that's a fact. And he just wanted that fact to be made public. So to say that that's obstruction of justice is just misguided.

BEGALA: It may be. It may be. But this President, I see now why he went bankrupt as a casino operator. He's the worst poker player I've ever seen. He's completely transparent about his motives. He went on national television, told Lester Holt of NBC News, I fired Comey because of this Russia thing, which he then said was a hoax.

Again and again, we do see, so far, every indicator of motive seems to be a motive to shut down the investigation of Donald Trump. We haven't seen a lot of innocent motives behind his actions yet, because god bless him, he's completely transparent about what he's doing and why.

SCHULTZ: Remember, he's not a target of an investigation. I hate to sound like a broken record on this, but he's not a target of the investigation, and he has a right to hire and fire the attorney general, and with the advice and consent of the Senate and hiring part of it. But he has the right to fire and ask for his resignation if he wants to, for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all.

BEGALA: You don't believe that? Any reason?

SCHULTZ: Well, hold on a second --

BEGALA: So any give him a million bucks and says, Mr. Comey is investigating me --

SCHULTZ: Stop it. That's not what I'm saying. BEGALA: It looks like he did it for a corrupt motive.

SCHULTZ: It doesn't look like he's doing it for a corrupt motive.

BEGALA: He said he was!

SCHULTZ: No, he said it was about Russia and the conduct of the Russia investigation. To say that he wanted to end the Russia investigation, that Jeff Sessions should have stopped it from the beginning, the President has never said that.

BEGALA: He ordered his White House counsel to fire Mr. Mueller.

SCHULTZ: We don't know that for a fact. We just know that that's been reported.

BEGALA: No, good point, there's been reporting, but wait until we see everybody under oath and we'll see --

SCHULTZ: The only person who knows all of these facts is Mueller. And --

COOPER: Kirsten, let me ask you, does this -- "The Times" is reporting tonight, does it complicate the situation for Rosenstein? I mean, for whether or not he should recuse himself?

POWERS: Yes. I mean, I think there's a lot of questions about Rosenstein, really, starting with the fact that he wrote this letter knowing, we now know for sure, knowing that it wasn't just about the Hillary Clinton, the way the Hillary Clinton case was handled. But giving Trump cover when the real reason for him doing it was because of the Russia investigation. And so I think from the beginning, it's always been a little bit questionable. You could have said that he didn't know it, right? I mean, we found this out later, even though everybody kind of did know it. But now we find out that he did know it.

SCHULTZ: Are we going to --

POWERS: And so -- let me -- can I finish talking?

COOPER: Let her finish.

POWERS: Just hold on. The other thing is you keep saying that Trump wasn't the focus of the investigation, but his campaign is the focus of the investigation. So you're acting like it's something that's totally unrelated to him. He does have an interest in stopping this investigation, right?

SCHULTZ: So let's go back to Rosenstein for a second. He's been criticized time and time again. And the panel, this panel, time and time again, has supported him. Now tonight, we're going to say, OK, he's giving the President cover?

POWERS: I've never supported him. I don't know what you're talking about. SCHULTZ: That is just ridiculous. The fact that anyone is saying that he's giving him cover. Rod Rosenstein is a pro. He's been in the Justice Department for a number of years. He's respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. Nobody looks at him as a politician --

POWERS: Wait, who supported him?

SCHULTZ: Now to say that he's giving -- let me finish. Now to say he's giving the President cover is the most absurd statement I've ever heard on this panel.

POWERS: Who on this panel ever said that Rod Rosenstein was completely above --

SCHULTZ: Let's go back --

POWERS: No, no, no, you just said --

COOPER: Let her respond. Let her respond because --

POWERS: Wait, you're making some accusations here. You've said that people on this panel have said that he is basically above reproach. Now, who said that?

SCHULTZ: Well, I didn't say people on this panel --

POWERS: You said, that's literally what you said, that people on this panel. Who did that? Who?

SCHULTZ: Time and time again, folks on this panel?


SCHULTZ: A lot of folks on this panel.

POWERS: OK, because --

SCHULTZ: Liberals and Democrats on this panel have time and time again, said, we have to keep Rosenstein, the President can't fire Rosenstein, they said that time and time and time again.

POWERS: OK, I never said that.

SCHULTZ: And you know what? To now say that he's giving the President cover is hypocritical.

POWERS: So, I think that I have always thought that it was strange that he wrote this letter when it's pretty clear, I mean --

SCHULTZ: He wrote a letter --

POWERS: Anyone with a brain knows Donald Trump did not fire James Comey because of the Hillary Clinton investigation.

SCHULTZ: He wrote a letter, making an accurate statement, in his mind, as to why Comey should have been fired. The fact that the President mentioned something about Russia in a meeting, if that happened, and we don't know that it happened, we just heard that from General Mukasey, and I agree with General Mukasey on that, the fact that he may have said that in the meeting, that doesn't --

COOPER: But was with White House telling the truth, the day that Comey was fired, when Kellyanne Conway and everyone came --

[21:40:02] SCHULTZ: Because Rosenstein wasn't --

COOPER: No, no, but when everybody in the White house --

SCHULTZ: But that's all it shows.

COOPER: When everyone in the White House the day Comey was fired came out on television and said, oh, it's because of the way he treated Hillary Clinton, was that true?

POWERS: Exactly.

SCHULTZ: That letter came from Rod Rosenstein --

COOPER: No, no, no, but the White House said that that was the reason. Was that the reason?

SCHULTZ: We don't know. There are a number of reasons. That has evolved over time. No question about it. The White House's message on this has evolved over time, no question. But what I am talking about is Rod Rosenstein, and the fact that anybody's attacking him saying that he's giving the President cover is just absurd.

COOPER: All right. We've got to take another quick break.

Next, a key Republican congressman debunks President Trump's latest conspiracy theory about a spy in his campaign, infiltrating the campaign, targeting the campaign. I'll talk about it and the effect that theory has on intelligence professionals with CIA director Michael Hayden.


COOPER: In our last hour, we laid out Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy's debunking of President Trump's conspiracy theory about a spy targeting his campaign. The congressman, you'll recall, sat in on classified briefings on the individual in question, a confidential source, who approached three members of the Trump campaign, two of whom had ties to Russias or suspected Russian intelligence assets.

Here's what Congressman Gowdy said afterwards. "I'm even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump."

More now on all of this we have CNN National Security Analyst Michael Hayden, a former CIA and NSA Director, and author of the new book, "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies."

So General Hayden, I mean this latest conspiracy theory about a spy, a spygate, a spy ring, I mean, it's basically unraveled. Devin Nunes seems to be in the witness protection program, or at least just not commenting about it. Trey Gowdy seems to have basically said that the FBI did the right thing. The fact that the President, this White House refused to admit that, does it surprise you at all? Because in today's White House briefing, Sarah Sanders says there's still cause for concern.

[21:45:19] GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN (RETIRED), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, no, it doesn't surprise me at all, Anderson. It disappoints me, but, you know, this is a long series of accusations. Recall the wiretapping of Trump Tower, the illicit unmasking of U.S. identities and --

COOPER: The secret society?

HAYDEN: The secret society, yes, you bet. The FISA abuse alleged, and now the spy within the Trump campaign. Each of those on their face, I thought, were absurd. And frankly, there was never any evidence, real evidence, offered in any of those cases. And so now we have this last case about the spy, and I was very heartened that Congressman Gowdy was so candid yesterday in his comments. But Anderson, I travel a lot through the country. I give speeches to civic groups and trade associations and so on. And there are a lot of good Americans who try to pay attention to this, who actually see these things sticking in their consciousness.

Look, they have real lives. They can't follow the play-by-play like you and I can, focused on this as part of our daily work. And these accusations by the President and his supporters in Congress have this cumulative effect of undercutting American confidence in institutions that, frankly, I think still deserve their confidence.

COOPER: So essentially you're saying that in something like this, by using the term "spy," which obviously has a much more nefarious tone to it than a confidential informant and sticks much more, the President is sewing real doubt and successfully sewing doubt not only about the Mueller investigation, but confidence in the Department of Justice or the FBI or whatever institution it may be.

HAYDEN: Yes, and there's a broader pattern here, Anderson. You and I have talked about this before, where the President -- when he faces opposition, doesn't argue the facts of the case. He tries to delegitimize the opposition, attacking their very validity to have any view on this whatsoever. That they are inherently corrupt and therefore they can be dismissed, frankly, without argument.

COOPER: And it's working.

HAYDEN: Oh, yes.

COOPER: You believe that, when you travel around, you hear people, I mean, how does that change, though? I mean if -- because it does seem like the President makes these arguments, talking about spies, and then it just sort of, you know, shows that there's no there there, and it just kind of goes away and, you know, he moves on to the next thing?

HAYDEN: Yes, what you have here is a technique that others have used in other countries. It's just rare in our own country, Anderson, whereby what the administration seems to do is to flood the American consciousness with all of these stories. So it becomes very hard for even well-meaning, informed citizens to sort it all out. And then they kind of walk themselves to the conclusion that it just can't be sorted out. No one can be trusted. And therefore, the President achieves his objective by corrupting and validating, delegitimizing these folks out here that frankly, I think, are just trying to do their job in accordance with American law.

COOPER: General Hayden, I appreciate your time. Thanks.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, more about this Spygate conspiracy theory being debunked by Trey Gowdy with our panel, ahead.


[21:50:49] COOPER: Before the break, General Michael Hayden spoke of the campaign and delegitimizing institutions and the Russian probe. New CNN polling shows that it's working just 17% of Russians approve the way that Robert Mueller is handling the investigation, which is down 12 points -- Republicans down 12 points from 29% in late March. We'll get the panel take on that. So it's been a long day.

STEWART: I'm a republican not a Russian.



COOPER: Do you believe what General Hayden is saying?

STEWART: Part of the -- I think the point is he made the point that the President views any investigation into this election as trying to delegitimize his victory. So his respond is to try and delegitimize the investigation and the law enforcement agencies. The problem is, Russia is our enemy not the FBI. And it's clear that he wants to say, oh the FBI's sent a spy to our campaign to look into what was going on, but it was clearly a confidential informant.

Trey Gowdy was right. There is -- the claims of a spy on a campaign are baseless and he's seen the facts, he's classified information. He has seen the information -- he has the clearance to get the correct information. He says the claims of a spy are baseless but the White House continues to say, well, that might be the fact but this is the way the President feels and they're going to continue to claim there is a spy even though there's no evidence to that.

DENNARD: Well, I think Anderson, when you look at it there are some key take away from what Congressman Gowdy says. Number one, he said that Russia was the target, not the campaign. I think that as Trump supporter and someone who supports this administration, that's a good thing.

And I think the other thing he said was it had nothing to do with President Trump, which is reenforcing what the President claim, that A, he wasn't the target of the investigation that he had no collusion with Russia. But I think the thing that -- when I look at this entire thing with what Trey Gowdy was saying, is that just because he's saying that this is what the FBI should do, and he doesn't want to call it a spy, let's use the phrase, confidential informant. If I was running a campaign and I knew that the FBI sent somebody to infiltrate and collect information on people in my campaign, and send it back, I still wouldn't like it.

COOPER: They're not infiltrating the campaign, as you said Trey Gowdy said the target is Russia not the President. And they're basically having to interview these people about Russia?

DENNARD: Right but there were people there --

COOPER: But the argument all along has been towards Papadopoulos and Carter Page weren't really part of the campaign that they were glorified coffee boys. And so it seems like on the one hand you're saying it's an infiltration of the campaign, it's like the heart of the campaign, and the truth it's interviews with these peripheral characters, you know?

DENNARD: Yes, but what I'm saying is I still wouldn't like it.

COOPER: All right.

DENNARD: And I think that's what the President's point is -- well, I don't know what the President's main point is. So I'm just saying, for me, I wouldn't like it if they send somebody to do that.

COOPER: But I mean, that is -- I mean, in all fairness, that's not the President's point, I mean this is a full-blown conspiracy theory by the President who's repeatedly said, they're using the term, multiple spy, spy ring, and that it's targeting the President's sent in by Barack Obama to benefit the other campaign. I mean, that's what the President of United States is been saying.

POWERS: Right. And the words infiltrate, I mean words do have a meaning, you can look them up in the dictionary and infiltrate is not having a meeting with somebody, that's not the definition of infiltration. And the President has intentionally as he does muddied the water, sewed confusion, made people wonder about what is true. This is what he does. And he does it to delegitimize institutions and hold him accountable is he told Lesley Stahl that's why he attacks the media because he doesn't want anybody to believe in media when they report something that's not true about him.

So, he is doing everything he can to make sure people never trust the FBI, right? So if they end up finding him guilty or anyone on his campaign guilty, then people will say, we don't trust them because they infiltrated his campaign, spying on them, even though that didn't happened and nobody seriously -- I mean, Trey Gowdy doesn't think it happened. Anybody knows anything about how this -- don't think it happens.

COOPER: It is interesting, Michael, because I mean, we have seen this playbook time and time again now. I mean there was the secret society thing, and for days that was the whole thing. People were concerned that there was a secret society and then it revealed actually it was just this kind of joke between these two people and then it just kind of goes away. Everybody moves on to something else. They come up with something else?

[21:55:17] SHEAR: But I think the point in your last segment about what is the impact and how does it have an affect on real people. I think if you compared this, for example to a voter referendum, right, that an issue is put on the ballot. Often times if you talk to political strategists they will say, the best way to defeat one of those referendums is to flood the voters with so much confusing and contradictory information that they sort of throw up their hands and say, well, I don't know what's going on here, I'm just going to vote no.

And I think there's a sense in which the President in his aid has sort of figured this out, right that they can raise all of these different issues, all of these different conspiracy theories, and that busy people who are going to work in church and the grocery and everything else are just going to throw up their hands and say, I can't figure this out all. And some percentage of them, all of this stuff is going to stick.

COOPER: Jim, quickly final thoughts and I got to go.

SCHULTZ: The rhetoric has been thrown back. And there are some real good. I can see a one that the President was not the target of this and not involved shape or form and the person that they were looking at was someone who was -- who Gowdy characterizes was loosely affiliated with the campaign. That's another real good nugget for this administration. They should be pivoting towards that.

COOPER: OK. Thanks everyone. We'll be right back. More ahead.


COOPER: That's it for us, thank for watching 360. Time for Don Lemon, "CNN Tonight" starts now.