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President Trump Pardons Conservative Pundit, May Pardon Martha Stewart and Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich; Washington Post: Prosecutors Interview Comey As They Investigate Whether His Former Deputy McCabe Should Be Charged; Samantha Bee's Vulgar Remark About Ivanka Trump Sparks Backlash; Claims Of A "Spy" Inside Trump Campaign Remain Unproven; Conspiracy Theory Fanned By Pres. Trump His Allies Debunked; Survey: Hurricane Maria Killed 4,600+ People In Puerto Rico; Trump Silent On Estimated 4,600+ Deaths In Puerto Rico. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired May 31, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Presidents are not kings, but in at least one respect, they enjoy the privilege of royalty. Under the Constitution, the president's authority to pardon people for federal offenses or grant clemency in such cases is -- depending on which legal scholar you ask -- either absolute or very nearly so.

So, today, when the president issued yet another pardon, few of any questioned his power to do it, but there are questions about his judgment and intent, especially whether he's using this and other pardons to send a message to anyone contemplating a plea deal in the Russia investigation. Hang tough, keep quiet, I'll take care of you would be the message.

Dinesh D'Souza, who he pardoned today, is a right-wing author and filmmaker who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. He's also an Obama and Clinton hater and the author of tweets like these -- a photo of President Obama reading, you can take the boy out of the ghetto.

D'Souza has also written that slavery was not a racist institution and supports President Trump's conspiracy theory about a spy in his campaign the president pardoned him today.

He also said he's thinking about commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, who among his other corrupt acts tried to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat. Additionally, the president says he's considering a pardon from Martha Stewart, convicted of lying to federal investigators.

So, in those three, you've got public corruption, campaign cash violations and lying to the feds. Now, keeping them honest, those are the same or similar charges that members of team Trump either are or could be facing. But those aren't the only through lines and interesting patterns in this part and puzzle. There's also the appearance of presidential payback. Both Blagojevich

and Stewart have ties to fired FBI Director James Comey who you might have heard the president isn't too fond of. Now, Comey was the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Stewart, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who prosecuted Blagojevich is a Comey friend and currently a member of his legal team. He also investigated the Valerie Plame leak, which led to the conviction of Scooter Libby for lying to the FBI. As you know, the president pardoned Libby last month.

So, is contemplation of a pardon for Martha Stewart a shot at Comey's legacy? Maybe, but there are other connections to contemplate as well.

Dinesh D'Souza was prosecuted by Preet Bharara, who President Trump fired and is currently working as a CNN legal analyst. He and Comey are critics of the president, so in other words, the D'Souza pardoned done to zing Bharara? Again possibly.

But there are still other connections to contemplate. And this one starts with reality and ends with show. Both the former governor and the lifestyle guru appeared on the president's former reality show "The Apprentice" which citizen Trump once plugged on her program.


MARTHA STEWART, LIFESTYLE GURU: So, Donald, has your new "Apprentice", it's going to be like --

DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY STAR: I think it's going to be great.


TRUMP: It's on Thursday night, and it's really going to be -- I think it's the best we've done thus far.


COOPER: Well, there are other points of commonality and the pardons, potential pardons and clemency. The language used to justify them each the president says was treated unfairly or harshly and unfairly, or unbelievably unfairly, which is also the kind of language he uses to describe his own treatment by the Mueller probe.

Joining us now is CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, also former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School.

So, Jeff, we'll get to the "Celebrity Apprentice" pardon edition in a moment, but first, just what do you make of the merits of the D'Souza pardon and do you see it as another potential signal to others like Michael Cohen or Paul Manafort or somebody else?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, yes, it is a signal. They're all signals to hang tough. The D'Souza pardon is particularly outrageous because, you know, this was a guilty plea. The idea that this was somehow some made-up prosecution where, you know, Barack Obama's Justice Department and Preet Bharara invented crimes for him to be prosecuted, he pleaded guilty.

So, he knew he was guilty. I mean, this was -- you know, it wasn't the most serious crime in the federal code, but it was a crime as he acknowledged, but -- you know, he's a hero to the right wing because of his unbelievably outrageous and false accusations against Democrats of all stripes. So, this was a way of ingratiating himself -- the president continuing to ingratiate himself with his base, which is his right under the Constitution.

But this has never been done before. These sort of midterm pardons of people who are outside the Justice Department pardon program, it's -- where we are -- this is another violation of the norms that other presidents have abided by. It's legal, but it's really -- it's very scary.

COOPER: Yes. Jennifer, what do you make of the timing and also kind of the Venn diagram of the players in these pardons?

JENNIFER RODGERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PUBLIC INTEGRITY AT COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL: Yes, I mean, it's pretty clear the message that the president is sending here. The whole tight -- you know, I will get you next. You know, I'm willing to pardon these kinds of offenses, I'm willing to pardon people I know and like, I don't think it's an accident that he actually knows these people and had them on his reality TV show.

So, I'm willing to pardon kind of friends and family. So, you know, I think there's no question that's going on.

[20:05:01] The question is, could it be illegal? Could it be obstruction in and of itself to kind of offer these pardons? And so, for that, I think we're looking to other evidence.

There's been reporting that John Dowd had floated the notion of a pardon with Manafort. You know, if that has happened, if there's been some back-channel like this is what these mean, then you might be talking about obstruction. But absent that, I don't think we're there yet.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Jeff, if a president pardons someone with the intent of impacting an ongoing criminal investigation, is that subject to any sort of DOJ investigation or would only be up to Congress?

TOOBIN: Well, I -- you know, I think the whole subject of Mueller and Trump is really about impeachment. It's not about prosecution. No, I don't think anyone believes that that Mueller is going to violate Department of Justice policy and indict the president.

So, the question is what does Congress think about that?

The pardons themselves I think are constitutionally protected, but the negotiations around them could well be evidence of obstruction of justice. You know, if there were any sort of quid pro quos, any sort of deals where the president says implicitly or explicitly or through intermediaries to Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn to Michael Cohen, hang in there, don't cooperate and I'll give you a pardon. That I think definitely could be seen as evidence of an impeachable offense.

COOPER: It's interesting, Jennifer, because when things of pardons, you kind of think of, you know, people who deserve pardons, worthy pardons, people who are -- you know, unjustly imprisoned or have a you know ridiculously long sentence for something based on, you know, a jury trial for a minor offense.

RODGERS: That's right I mean a pardon is supposed to write some sort of wrong. So, in the case of the boxer, Jack Johnson, you actually have a wrongful conviction that has been righted now. This is the one that President Trump has done that maybe is justifiable.

You know, these others are not. I mean, Dinesh D'Souza admitted his guilt. He admitted that he knew what he did was wrong. If he ends up pardoning Blagojevich, he's still serving a sentence. So, there you actually have a commutation that would actually have an impact, you know, it's not just an after the fact, you know, I'm getting rid of your conviction on paper.

So, you know, there are no wrongs that are being righted here with D'Souza and the same is true of Stewart and the same is true of Blagojevich. And this really does impact the people at DOJ too. I mean, when you basically undermine their work by saying all of what you did and all those resources you put in, I'm now erasing that, that really has an impact on the morale.

TOOBIN: There have been controversial pardons in the relatively recent past. I mean, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich who was a fugitive. He pardoned his brother. All of -- George Herbert Walker Bush pardoned all the Iran-Contra defendants.

But both of those pardons took place at the very end of their presidencies. There couldn't be any deal going forward. What's so unusual about these controversial pardons is the signal about what it might mean for the rest of the Trump administration, and that's something new under the sun.

COOPER: It's also interesting, Jeff, I mean, the fact that the president is floating clemency from Martha Stewart and Rob Blagojevich -- I mean, not only both formally associate with "The Apprentice", but also prosecuted by Jim Comey and one of Comey's closest former colleagues, who is now his attorney.

TOOBIN: I mean, everything is personal with this president. I mean, in -- there -- it's not about, you know, playing politics. It's about playing the angles. It's about -- you know, punishing your enemies.

You know, the Jack Johnson pardon is great. It's -- he died in 1946. The pardon that Kim Kardashian came to talk about seems like it might have merit.

But, you know, to just refer to a president people may remember, Barack Obama had a clemency program where nonviolent drug offenders could apply to have their sentences reduced, and there was a formal process in the Justice Department, and he commuted the sentences of more than a thousand people in the latter part of his presidency, because he thought that the sentences were too long. That's traditionally how pardons have worked through some sort of organized process, not through who was on "The Apprentice".

COOPER: Hey, Jeff, if you'll stay with us, Jennifer, as well, "The Washington Post" has some breaking news that were just learning about on the Russia probe and a disgraced figure in it, former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and James Comey. On the phone, we have "The Post" Matt Zapotosky.

Matt, explain what the report is.

MATT ZAPOTOSKY, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Well, tonight, we're reporting that prosecutors in D.C., federal prosecutors in D.C., have interviewed Jim Comey about Andrew McCabe.

Andrew McCabe, I'm sure everyone recalls was sort of the target of this really scathing inspector general report, alleging he lied about a media disclosure, to Comey and to other investigators. And so, we understand that prosecutors, federal prosecutors in D.C. have now interviewed Jim Comey about his exchanges with McCabe.

[20:10:03] COOPER: Do you know when the interview took place or the kind of anything more specific about it?

ZAPOTOSKY: We know it took place recently, so the referral the inspector general had made, what's called a criminal referral to the D.C. U.S. attorney's office, he had been conducting kind of an internal investigation into Andrew McCabe over these lies, came up with some findings, those were released publicly and sometime after that, maybe in the last month or two, he referred the case to the D.C. U.S. attorney's office.

The interview we understand took place recently. I don't have an exact date for you. But why I think it's significant is because it shows that the D.C. U.S. attorney's office is really taking this case seriously.

McCabe's camp had kind of intimated, hey, there's really nothing to see here. McCabe disputes the inspector general's findings. A lot of criminal referrals just sort of go away, that we don't know that charges, criminal charges are going to come against McCabe. But this is certainly an indication that it's not just going away. D.C. prosecutors are taking it very seriously.

COOPER: Has McCabe or his attorneys made any comment about this?

ZAPOTOSKY: Yes, they responded and said, look, we had confirmed the criminal referral, you know, about a month or so ago and we said then that we thought unless there was political pressure, this would just go away, and we still feel that way.

They also suggested that this news was leaking out tonight because of a report in "The New York Times" yesterday about some memos that Andrew McCabe had kept about his interactions with Rod Rosenstein. So, that was -- that was sort of their response.

COOPER: So, just overall, is it clear where the investigation of McCabe stands as a whole?

ZAPOTOSKY: It's not precisely clear. Look, what we know is that there are some very serious allegations against him and at the D.C. U.S. attorney's office didn't sort of reject those out of hand. They took this report and they're actually acting on it. You know, they called in Jim Comey for an interview about these allegations, so that show they're kind of seriously moving forward with this.

Now, whether this will actually lead to Andrew McCabe being criminally charged, it's just impossible to say right now. And I think a lot of people would say, look, what did you expect the D.C. U.S. attorney's office to do, to just take the inspector general's findings and tear them up? Of course, they were going to do some investigative work and interviewing Jim Comey as kind of a natural step. So, where it stands right now, we understand it's progressing, but hard to say sort of where it ends up.

COOPER: Matt Zapotosky, I appreciate your reporting. Thanks very much.

I want to bring back in Jeff Toobin and Jennifer Rodgers.

Jennifer, again, I mean, as Matt was saying, it is hard to figure out exactly if this is significant.

RODGERS: I think that's right. I mean, what inspectors general do is they do investigations and then they take whatever appropriate personnel action there is, or they make referrals. And that's kind of by-the-book. If there's the potential for criminal charges, then they make the referral.

So, the fact of the referral is really -- you know, not that exciting in and of itself. I do think the step to interview Comey does mean that they are taking it seriously enough that they're going to look into it and whether that's just because they want to tamp down on any suggestion that they're trying to bury this or not, you know, who knows?

So, we're just going to have to wait and see what happens with the charges. But, you know, so far, I just -- you just can't possibly tell one way or the other.

COOPER: Jeff, how do you see it?

TOOBIN: Well, I -- just to remind people who Andrew McCabe. I'm not sure everybody has their scandal scorecard in front of them. You know, he was the deputy director of the FBI who supervised the Hillary Clinton investigation and later started to supervise some of the Trump investigation.

His wife ran for the state Senate as a Democrat in Virginia and President Trump really fixated on McCabe as a villain someone who was doing the Democrats' dirty work. McCabe was an honored and respected FBI agent for many years, but he's had a tremendous fall from grace. This inspector general's report which suggested he lied really -- it puts him in great deal of trouble. Yes, it's true we don't know whether he'll be criminally charged, but

he's not only lost -- been fired and lost his pension, but this interview shows that the possibility of criminal charges is still out now.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, Jennifer Rodgers, thanks very much.

Coming up next, the president weighs in on Roseanne Barr again. What he said and what he still did not say about her racist tweet when we come back, as well as the Samantha Bee uproar.

Also ahead, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee joins us to talk about why the president's conspiracy theory about a spy in his campaign should still be looked into.


[20:18:25] COOPER: The comedian is under fire for vulgar remarks she made, we'll talk extensively about what Samantha Bee said very shortly, because everyone from the president on down is talking about it.

First, though, Roseanne Barr the sequel. The day after the president tweeted about her racist tweet, without mentioning the racism in her racist tweet, the president tweeted again on the subject. And keeping him honest, if you're waiting for him to speak out against the racism of comparing an African-American woman to an ape, you might be waiting just a bit longer.

Yesterday, remember his reaction was to ask why ABC, the network that canceled her show, wasn't apologizing to him for a variety of perceived offenses.

Today, the president tweeted Iger, referring to CEO Bob Iger, where is my call of apology. You and ABC have offended millions of people and they demand a response. How is Brian Ross doing? He tanked the market with an ABC lie, yet no apology, double standard.

Brian Ross is the ABC News correspondent responsible for an erroneous report about the president. The network offered several clarifications, suspended Ross, so the president restated his apology demand, he tweeted about what he called the corrupt media, Korea, he tweeted the words fair trade in all caps.

What he did not do was mentioned the racism at the heart of Roseanne Barr's tweet. And keeping them honest, whether it's because he doesn't feel it's necessary or appropriate or to appeal to elements of his base or for some other reason, it is part of a pattern. The president would face with a racially charged issue or situation does not initially confront the racism in it.

This is what he was faced with in Charlottesville, Virginia, one night last summer during a weekend that would end with one woman dead.


DEMONSTRATORS: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!


COOPER: These people were marching through the streets in Charlottesville, chanting, Jews will not replace us, chanting "blood and soil" and other Nazi slogans.

[20:20:03] Here was how the president saw it.


TRUMP: You also had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


COOPER: Fine people on both sides, which is a rather broad minded interpretation which is not true. That's certainly not in the video you saw, which was the demonstration from Friday night. Not according to a journalist who was there in the crowds who told us point-blank that what you saw there was exactly what it looked like, neo-Nazis, other white supremacist, marching, spewing hate.

The White House initially defended the president's remarks. But later, the president gave a more full-throated statement, saying in part, racism is evil and those who caused violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

What's interesting though was that this was not the president's first instinct, which was to avoid a full-throated condemnation of what seemed plain to see -- something similar played out of the campaign trail when candidate Trump was asked about racist remarks by David Duke, a figure citizen Trump had been commenting on and even disavowing since 1991.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just see you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know. I mean, I don't know -- did he endorse me or what's going on? Because you know I know nothing about David Duke, I know thing about white supremacists. And so, you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, that's February 28th of 2016. The next day, he claimed he disavowed David Duke in that interview, which he did not. The day after that, he explicitly disavowed what David Duke said, leaving some to praise him for getting there and others to condemn him for getting there late.

Just a short time ago, Roseanne Barr tweeted again and once again, it's inflammatory, talking to ABC executive Ben Sherwood about Valerie Jarrett, the African-American woman she compared to an ape. She tweets: He said, what were you thinking when you did this I said I thought she was white she looks like my family. He scoffed and said, what you have done is egregious and unforgivable. I begged for my crews jobs, will I ever recover from this pain, OMG.

Plenty to talk about. Joining us is Van Jones, Jason Miller and Tara Setmayer.

Van, do you see a pattern of the president not calling out racism as an initial instinct full stop?


COOPER: And why do you think that is?

JONES: You know, I don't know why, but I tell you what, I have fears. One fear I have is that there's a big part of his base that that does harbor a lot of racial resentment what African-Americans and other groups, and that they -- he's afraid that he will look weak if he caves into the politically correct demand that he say these kind of things.

And so, I think he -- my fears he's got a shtick going with a big section of his base that likes for him to not buckle under political correctness. And what that means is that he doesn't live up to his moral and political responsibilities to guide the nation past a bunch of this stuff.

And so, you say, why? I don't know why. I hope it's not because he has actual hatred of bigotry in his heart. But minimally, if he's not a racist -- he is a racial opportunist who plays with the racial anxieties of his base. And in some ways, that could almost be considered worse, but it's so cynical and so destructive.

COOPER: Jason?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, having spent hundreds of hours with the president on the campaign trail and during the transition in 2016 and the beginning of 2017, I saw someone who never made in a comment that could be in any way disparaging to another race or religion or anything of the sort. Those are definitely not the attitudes or beliefs that he has.

And I think that there's this trend going on where anytime somebody like Roseanne Barr goes and makes an absolute, idiotic, horrific racist comments, that so many in the media and on the political left immediately want to sprint and try to say -- and try to pin that on President Trump. And I think that's unfair.

I think that there is -- this is just my own thought on it. I think part of it might be the as soon as President Trump goes in -- starts making say if you speak out or have a big huge speech on the Roseanne Barr comments or something of the sort, that every single time going forward, that he's going to be expected to answer for the behaviors and actions of other people, and I think that's unfair.

Just in the same way that say today or what we've seen over the last 24 hours or so, you can't go and blame Samantha Bee's absolutely vile comments and her terrible behavior on Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, there are other leaders in the Democratic Party, but that's where I feel like so many on the political left want to go with anytime there's bad behavior, they're trying to pin it on Trump or we even saw people in the media over the last 24 hours say that this is representative of the entire Trump basically.


[20:25:06] JONES: I don't understand this nightmare scenario that you have. There's a nightmare. People say horrific things and Trump has to speak out against them Trump speaks out about everything. He speaks all the time. He tweets all the time.

The idea there would be some unstoppable burden on him to also point out that bad people saying horrific things should do it, it's your nightmare scenario -- he should speak out against these things.

COOPER: Well, Tara, I mean, one of the things -- the only reason that anybody would make a connection between President Trump and Roseanne Barr is that the president himself made that connection --


COOPER: -- weeks ago, embracing her, saying she -- you know, it's about us.


COOPER: That's really the only linkage there and the only reason really that there's an expectation that he might want to say something.

SETMAYER: Yes, and also because he seems to embrace that, you know, where the everyday guy, I represent the forgotten man, and, OK, maybe. But then when the person who, you know -- he took the time from the podium, from the bully pulpit, to talk about her ratings which, you know, I don't think that that's something the president United States should be commenting on since his time is so precious, allegedly, according to Sarah Sanders. He's got other things more important to worry about.

But yet, he finds time -- to Van's point -- to tweet and discuss all kinds of superfluous things all the time. So, it seems convenient for him now that he's silent about it, and it's because there is an issue there. And as a Republican and as a conservative, I've been over the years very reluctant to always, you know, jump on the racecar. You know, oftentimes, I think it's used to too quickly.

But in this case, there is a race problem with this president. It is undeniable at this point. People feel energized -- these people, these racists out there, these bigots -- they feel energized with him there and there's something wrong with that. We can't ignore this anymore. I'm not saying that --

MILLER: So, you're saying that President Trump is the one to blame for this recent --


SETMAYER: No, I'm not saying. People -- individuals are responsible for their own individual behavior. However, the era of Trump and Donald Trump's own comments, his own behavior, his own history, racial history, from the housing discrimination, to the Central Park Five, to the SOB NFL players, he -- that has given those people the feeling that they can be emboldened now to say and act this way.

Look at these candidates that are running as Republicans. They never would have done that under George Bush or anybody else.

MILLER: I don't think you can say it's President Trump's fault for this. I mean --

SETMAYER: You're not hearing me. I'm saying that the president's own behavior when him being unapologetic for being as bigoted as he has been in the past and continues to be has emboldened people. You can -- he is the president of the United States.

He's in the most powerful position in the world. And what he doesn't condemn when he says there's good people on both sides, it tells people it's OK to act like this.

MILLER: So, where I disagree, you look at the action --

SETMAYER: The environment.

MILLER: -- that Trump has taken on the policy items, the things that he's done out there and pushed. I mean, look at the event that Van that you did with him on sentencing reform.


MILLER: That's a week or so back, disproportionately affects minorities in America, that's something that you wouldn't have seen from many other Republicans previously.

SETMAYER: I disagree. I think you would have seen it from George W. Bush.

MILLER: That's strong leadership from President Trump on that. That was something he's done a number of these things. I think -- you look at the way that he's acting way that I think he's brought people together in events like that, I think that speaks --

COOPER: I want to hear from you, Van. We've got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this discussion.

JONES: Hey, listen, if you do 99 bad things and you do one good thing, then I'm going to give you credit for the one good thing. But that does not get you off the hook with 99 bad things, and that's not -- that doesn't make any sense.

COOPER: All right. Let's take a quick break. A lot more to discuss on this, including to Jason's point, Samantha Bee's comment about Ivanka Trump.


[20:31:31] COOPER: Well most of you know by now, the comedian Samantha Bee unleashed the vulgar attacked on President Trump's daughter, Ivanka during the broadcast of her show in TBS last night. But obviously edit out the most offensive word.


SAMANTHA BEE, COMEDIAN: Ivanka Trump who works at the White House, just to post this second most oblivious tweet we've seen this. You know, Ivanka, that's beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices you feckless (BLEEP).

He who (INAUDIBLE). But I'm testing (INAUDIBLE) and tell your father the (BLEEP) stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing and see how it goes, OK. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well this afternoon, Samantha Bee apologized, saying, "I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive in my show to describe the last night". She wrote on Twitter. "It was inappropriate and unexcusable, I cross the line and deeply regret."

TBS which like CNN is owned by Time Warner said, "Those words should not have been aired", adding, "It was our mistake too and we regret it". White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders was obviously very critical of remark saying, they were vile and vicious. Samantha Bee unlike Roseanne Barr has not had her show canceled.

Back now with the panel.

Tara, is there a double standard here?

SETMAYER: I think there's a fair case to be made. Because what Samantha Bee did was completely unacceptable. That's one of the most vile words you could possibly use. I think that was one of George Carlin's seven words, you can never say on television, right?

You just don't -- that there's just something you just don't don cable news especially about -- you know, I no fan of Ivanka Trump being in the White House, I've been very critical of her before. But that doesn't give you license to be that offensive. The fact that CBS has made the decision that they made, that's their prerogative, you know. I don't think that that they would have been as charitable to someone else that was not on the left that they like. And it gives fuel to the other side to say that, look, see, there's a double standard here, and I think over the years, you can see that, you know, Johnny Depp made pretty awful comments about assassinating Trump, and, you know, Madonna.

I mean you see these things and everybody just kind of goes on, yes that wasn't cool, and they move on. And, you know, it just -- it's another example of how the coursening of our culture. I think it's bigger, it's just another example of that. And, you know, when you can't have your kids watching cable anymore and you have to explain to them what the c-word is or what the p-word is after what Trump was caught saying on video, that speaks volumes about where we are as a culture.

And I think that conversation really needs to be had. I don't like to see the hypocrisy. If you were cheering on applauding Roseanne getting fired, but then you're dismissing Samantha Bee, you're a hypocrite?

COOPER: Van, do you see an equivalency?

JONES: Look, I think it was really inappropriate what Samantha Bee did, and I know her, I like her, I think it was really inappropriate. It also unfortunately inappropriately stepped on her point, the point that she was trying to make was immigration officials are separating babies from mothers and that's wrong, but she completely, you know, I think, you know, ruined that conversation. I like second chances for people. And so, I think she apologized, I think that's good, I like second chances.

I think with Roseanne Barr is hard, because she's had such a long patterns of doing this kind of thing. But I do think that liberal should be aware that this kind of thing adds to the disquiet among conservatives that they are -- that there is a double standard.

[20:35:02] I can make -- I can justify -- if I had to make the argument, I'd say well a white person calling a black person an ape is different than a woman calling -- I could do all that stuff, but I know in doing that, I'm also just feeding into the narrative, that will excuse anything from liberals and it come down to harder on conservatives.

And so I think that it's important that people need to be very, very consistent. This is not the kind of conversation that helps the country. It's certainly not fair to Ivanka Trump. And I hope that this doesn't happen again, if it becomes a pattern, she should go.

COOPER: Jason?

MILLER: Well, no I think Van had a lot of good points there, and I think I'm glad to hear you denounce the terrible language and terrible comments. And I don't know what's going on this week, this is like crazy week. And I think a lot of people --

SETMAYER: The full moon I think.

MILLER: Yes. And there's definitely --

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) needs to be over.

MILLER: Definitely something going on. I'm not going to get into the whole what aboutism of saying here as the punishment for Samantha Bee, and here's the punishment for Roseanne Barr getting into that. The thing that really caught my attention today, that concern with me the most, this goes both Van and Tara, what your saying about just the whole coarsening of the culture. I was really disturbed to see so many people cheering on Samantha Bee today is I did whether we look at Kathy Griffin, who was cheering her on, whether you look at Sally Field. I mean there are lot of people that were cheering on this language toward Ivanka Trump.

And look this is a wife, this is a mother, this is the President's daughter who's in the White House. That's what really concerned me today. It almost feels, especially from some of the comedians that are out there, whether it be Michelle Wolf, at the Correspondents Dinner, what we saw then from Samantha Bee, these comments are terrible and they're horrible except when it's about Trump or someone in his family or someone around him. And I think we going to get away from that, I mean this -- that type of behavior all thing shouldn't be out there anywhere.

SETMAYER: Starts in the White House.

COOPER: Let's take a break. Going to take a quick break right now. Coming up, the latest on the Trump's claims of the spy in the Trump campaign and the odd silence from House Intelligence Committee's Chair Devin Nunes.


[20:40:00] COOPER: Rudy Giuliani tells CNN's Dana Bash that fellow conservative Trey Gowdy was, "drinking the kool-aide" when he defended the FBI use of a confidential informant who investigate potential Russian influence in President Trump's presidential campaign.

The President of course and many of his defenders insist the FBI spied on the campaign. Despite the fact that exactly nothing has been proven today in support of that accusation. In fact just the opposite. Gowdy, one of the two Republican lawmakers who last week attended the first intelligence briefing about this whole thing said two night ago, the FBI acted in his words appropriately. So then there remains the question of the other lawmaker who attended the briefing with Congressman Gowdy, Devin Nunes. He more than anyone on Capitol Hill has thrown gasoline on this fire, day after day. But since Congressman Gowdy said essentially there's no there, there, Nunes has been silent.

We've inviting to come on the program but like last night, we aren't getting any answers. There are no public events on his website, our producer again called the Congressman's press person, got no response. Now producer called Mr. Nunes his California office and spoke to someone who said, they don't have access to his calendar, referred us back to his press person, the same one who didn't call us back.

Congressman Nunes did resurface on social media briefly, but said nothing about the information he'd been given access to, he appeared on social media talking about a nut. Check these out, he posted on Twitter, any guesses, hint, it's a nut. If you guess pistachio growing in San Joaquin Valley, you are correct.

In addition, Congressman Nunes to come on the program of course stands. I talked earlier about Trey Gowdy's comments and the President's claims of a spy infiltrating his campaign. Well Utah Republican Congressman Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Stewart, Congressman Trey Gowdy who's seen the documents says there's no there, there to the President's claims that the FBI was send a spy to infiltrate the campaign. He said it was a confidential informant. Folks saying Russian in times to the influence. He also says, other in Congress who've seen the documents have come to the same conclusion. Do you trust Gowdy's assessment?

REP. CHRIS STEWART, (R) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I look forward to talking to Trey, he's a good friend of mine and he's someone that I really do trust. I don't know who these other members of Congress that you mentioned who you say have come to the same conclusion, I don't know any of them that do, but this might be a time where Trey and I just are going to agree to disagree. Unless virtually everything that's been reported on this is untrue. I still have real concerns and I still think we want to pursue this and have a broader look at the documents.

COOPER: You say everything that's been reported about it, but I mean, really what the most public things or things the President had said, and he is, you know, consistently used the word spy, sometimes some of his supporter had said two spies or a spy ring.


COOPER: I mean what do you think has been reported that needs to be looked into more?

STEWART: Well, let's look at the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" reporting. And by the way, an important consideration on this, Anderson, is that we've been trying to get this information for actually months, intensely for the last few weeks. They refused to show it to those of us on the committee and more broadly to Congress and yet much of this information has been leaked. I have a real problem with that. I think that most Americans do, they're uncomfortable with that.

But look, the reporting on this isn't just that the President has used the word spy, the reporting has been that this individual had at least three contacts, he was instructed to make contact with these people, they weren't people that he knew before. That he had to initiate contact. I want to know was he wearing a wire. Will they use meetings recorded. Did he paid them anything. Did he paid their expenses. What was reported from those meetings? What do they tell them? Those are the things have been recorded and those are the things that many of us have questions about.

COOPER: If there were concerns though about interference in the election which behind Department of Justice clearly seem to have, what else should they have done other than what they did in the midst of a campaign?

STEWART: Yes. Well, I would say one thing and I think this is kind of the starting point, as if they felt like there were individuals around any government official who presented a security threat, I think they have responsibility to acknowledge and to warn that individual, if there were people who tried to make contact with me, I would hope the FBI would come to me and say, hey, let's talk about this person here, let us tell you a little bit of the concerns we have here. And unless I was the target, unless I was the person that they thought was, you know, had ill intent, I think they had a responsibility to do that and they didn't in this case.

COOPER: But certainly, Carter Page, I mean they had investigated previously, so they clearly had some concerns about Carter Page's connections to Russians in the past?

STEWART: Anderson, I have to disagree with your characterization completely on that, he had been attempted be recruited by Russian agents before and he reported that to the FBI. And in fact he worked with the FBI to collection information on these Russians and to help to prosecute them. He wasn't working with them secretly and providing them information --

COOPER: Right.

STEWART: -- exactly the opposite. He was working with the FBI to inform the FBI and this agents who was exactly the opposite what he's been accused of doing in this case.

[20:45:02] COOPER: But candidate Trump was briefed in July about Russian infiltration, so the idea that the campaign itself wasn't warned is not accurate?

STEWART: Well, it depends. And that's why the timing on it is so important. That's why we want to again, see the documents and see some background, if this individual had contact after that point, that would be one thing, if this individual had contact before that and what we believe is perhaps months before that, that would be very different and once again, this is why we want to see the underlying documents that will provide that information.

COOPER: All right, Congressman Stewart, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.

STEWART: Thank you sir. Good evening.

COOPER: Up next, after Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico in ruins, President Trump praised the federal government's response and pointed to the low death toll of just 16 people in the weeks after, that was the official death toll at the time. Well, now the official toll is 64, but a new survey by Harvard University and other suggest the real death toll is for higher about 4,600 people died during the storm and its aftermath according to the survey. So, how is it possible that authorities in Puerto Rico got the death toll so wrong? We got reaction from the governor of Puerto Rico, when we continue.


[20:50:24] COOPER: Tomorrow marks the first day of hurricane season for 2018. It's forecasted to be another menacing one. In Puerto Rico they're still reeling of course from Hurricane Maria which devastated the U.S. territory last September. Eight months later tens of thousands of residents remain in the dark. Eight months later, many homes are still left in ruins and eight months later, there's a new startling estimate death toll on the island, it release just this week. A new study done and part by Harvard University suggests roughly 4,600 people died with deaths linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Now many of those are linked to delayed medical care in the weeks and months after the storm say researcher. So just to put this number in perspective, 4,600 people, some 1,800 people were killed along the Gulf during Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9- 11 and what's so stunning about this estimate of the actual death toll in Puerto Rico is that it's more than 70 times the amount estimated by the Puerto Rican government. That's right -- right now, the official death toll in Puerto Rico is just 64 people.

Earlier tonight I spoke about this with Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico.


COOPER: Governor, this new survey suggesting some 4,600 deaths from the storm and the failure of medical treatment in the months after. That's 70 times the official estimate by your administration. How is it possible that the numbers have been so wrong?

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: Well, thank you for the opportunity to be here, Anderson. You know, ever since the storm came along and even as we were ending the year, we had established that this number was going to be much, much higher than what we had as an official tally. You know, we had a protocol that was based on data, on what we got from the registry.

But we knew that more deaths were, you know, were a by-product of the storm. And as a matter of fact we had commissioned, George Washington University to do epidemiological study, so that we can narrow down not only how many deaths, but also what we can do towards the future to prevent them.

COOPER: Right. But that study which was supposed to -- I think it hasn't even begun. It's supposedly get done some time this summer. They've had some problems with it. I mean this study is really shocking. Your government did stick with this low figure for very long time. I mean you said it was kind of widely believed it would be higher. CNN, others interviewed funeral directors and have reported just base on interviewing half the funeral directors in the country that was going to be much higher even before the survey. So, I mean why stick with those number that you know is artificially low?

ROSSELLO: No, we -- it's not sticking with the number. It was just establishing that the process that we had prior led us to that number which was what we got from the doctors, what we got from the death certificates. It was the only mechanism we had then. This study by Harvard is a welcome addition to our analysis. It is a household surveys analysis. And I think in conjunction with the analysis that has already started with George Washington University, that we'll get a better gauge, not only of the final death tally, but also how we can prepare better, how we can avoid some of the events that occurred on these massive catastrophic events. And that not only applies to Puerto Rico, but to everywhere else in the nation.

COOPER: But just seems a massive failure of the government's ability on the island to actually account for the deaths. I mean the survey was done for like $50,000. They basically had researchers from Harvard, from universities in Puerto Rico go around interview households and just ask them about who's died in their family, things like that. You say you welcome the survey. According to researchers officials from your government from Puerto Rico refused to provide them basic data. That they refused to make public basic mortality statistics. Why is that?

ROSSELLO: Well, I -- you know, I am shocked to hear that, because I signed an executive order to facilitate that information, both to the independent George Washington assessment as well as two others. What is important to note is that, you know, data and some of these death certificates and the assessment process was not the best process. So, the best data was not available. And that's actually why George Washington has taken a little bit longer time than expected. We expected to have a phase one analysis here by May 22nd. But of course, data has been hard to come by with respect to that and what we want to do is land on the most concrete, scientifically accurate numbers, so that we can assess what really happened.

[20:55:18] COOPER: So I mean, I know you expressed concern and surprise that officials didn't cooperate with the study or give basic mortality figures out. Is that something you want to look into, because that seems like it would of -- if, you know, people are of course going to hear that and if transparency is your stated goal, it just doesn't seem very transparent if officials are not giving out basic mortality statistics.

ROSSELLO: Right. Well, we need to look into if it's -- in fact that they didn't want to give it out or that the data has just been really hard to come by. It's been really chopped up data. So, I will certainly look into it. There's no doubt about it. And our goal, Anderson, again is to make sure that everybody is accounted for, that all of the families have, you know, closure within this process and that for the people of Puerto Rico which have gone through a catastrophic event unlike any other in recent modern history of the United States that we can guarantee that if we face another event like this, we will certainly be better prepared. And that we can serve as a model for other jurisdictions in the United States should another catastrophe like this ever happen.

COOPER: I know you said the data, you know, is just sort of hard to come by. But I mean the researchers are just saying categorically that officials from your government refused to provide them with data that does exist.

ROSSELLO: Well, like I said, we -- I signed an executive order where by this data is being accessible. We opened the books. I remember on February when we made the announcement of this executive order and the collaboration with George Washington that was precisely my mandate. So obviously --

COOPER: But they didn't cooperate with this study?

ROSSELLO: -- I'll look into it.

COOPER: Right. So, let me ask you --

ROSSELLO: Well, I will certainly look into it.


ROSSELLO: And if it's true, Anderson, you know, there will be hell to pay. Because I really want this to be very transparent. I want the truth to come out. That's the bottom line. And I want us to learn from this tragedy --


ROSSELLO: -- so that we can prevent in the future something like this happening. So those are my stated goals. And I will work towards making sure those happen.

COOPER: Governor, appreciate you time. Thank you.

ROSSELLO: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, up next President Trump pardons a conservative pundit, promises more clement he'll become. We'll talk about who, who can be next. And why it's all raising questions about the President's motives. Next.


[21:00:08] COOPER: Another presidential pardon and the promise of more to come, and the comment thread, the three criminals involved are celebrities that one sort or another. Two have appeared on "The Apprentice" and all three have committed the sort of crimes that members of team Trump either --