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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House Won't Explain Contradictory Comments About President Trump's Role in Dictating Trump Tower Meeting; Interview with Dinesh D'Souza. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired June 4, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
President Trump made claims today that critics say amount to putting himself above the law. They capped several days of combative tweets and some especially sweeping legal claims about the Russia probe. One of them contained in a newly published letter from two of his lawyers to the Russia special counsel.
And the reason this isn't just another in a series of twists and turns and a complicated and often convoluted story is as stark and simple as it gets, putting it all together paints a picture of a president perhaps getting ready to test the limits of his power in the law. And this morning, in a pair of tweets, the president called the Russian special counsel totally unconstitutional and declared he has the absolute right to pardon himself despite he says having done nothing wrong.
No one knows why he chose to tweet today, but the spark might have come over the weekend with "The New York Times" publishing that January letter to Robert Mueller from attorneys Jay Sekulow and John Dowd who since left the president's legal team. In it, they claimed the president cannot ever obstruct justice because, quote, that would amount to him obstructing himself. They also made a stunning admission that their client himself concocted the misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting back in June of 2016. Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Chairman Paul Manafort talking to Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The key passage reads, quote, you have received all the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the president dictated a short but accurate response to "The New York Times" article on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr.
Now, keeping them honest, that response which went out in July of last year was anything but accurate, and that it obfuscated the true intent of the meeting which was to gather damaging information on Hillary Clinton. It was misleading, as was the story about the story namely, and the President Trump had nothing to do with the statement. It's a line that Jay Sekulow repeatedly put out there.
But before you watch this, remember what the statement to "The Times" said we mentioned a second ago, quote: The president dictated a short but accurate response. Now, watch what they said back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: That was written -- no, that was written by Donald Trump Jr. And I'm sure with consultation with his lawyer. So, that wasn't written by the president.
The president didn't sign off on on anything. He was coming back from the G20. The statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. And I'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that.
The president was not -- did not draft the response. The response was -- came from Donald Trump Jr. I'm sure in consultation with his lawyer.
Let me say this -- the president, I do want to be clear. The president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: So, a couple weeks later, Sarah Sanders obscured the president's role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He certainly didn't dictate, but, you know, he like I said -- she weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, just to reiterate now we know otherwise or we do -- we think we know because Jay Sekulow, who you saw on TV there, sent to Robert Mueller's team what would presumably be the real version of events.
Quote, the president dictated, unquote, the misleading statement, period. Which, of course, goes straight to the question Robert Mueller is seeking to answer. Did the president by dictating what would have amounted had it held to a cover story obstruct justice?
Mr. Miller certainly not talking about it or anything else. And keeping them honest, neither was Sarah Sanders today saying much about her own role in misleading the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You're saying though one thing from the podium, that it wasn't dictated by the president. His lawyers are saying something entirely different, contradicting you. How are we supposed to know what to believe? How can we believe what you're saying from the podium if his lawyers are saying it's entirely inaccurate?
SANDERS: Once again, I can't comment on a letter from the president's outside counsel and I'd direct you to them to answer it. John?
REPORTER: Sarah, the words are you literally, you said he did not dictate. The lawyers said he did. What is it?
SANDERS: I'm not going to respond to a letter from the president's outside counsel. We purposely walled off and I would refer you to them for comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Sarah Sanders was busy today because she also had to answer or try to for two other related tweets by her boss. And keeping them honest, as we've noted before, remember, just because you tweet it doesn't make it so.
Here's the first tweet: As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to pardon myself but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never-ending witch-hunt led by 13 very angry and conflicted Democrats and others continues into the midterms.
Then, about an hour later, he tweeted, quote: The appointment of the special counsel is totally unconstitutional. Despite that, we played the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong.
Quite a claims to make, but this was also Sarah Sanders here talking about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Once again, the president's made his views on this point clear. I don't have anything else to add.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Her answer, by the way, was in response to a question about hypocrisy, given the candidate Trump once had a very different view of special counsel, such as during the second presidential debate about a year and a half ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.
[20:05:02] There has never been anything like it and we're going to have a special prosecutor.
So, we're going to get a special prosecutor and we're going to look into it because you know what, people have been -- their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you've done, and it's a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, beyond the contradiction, there's the constitutional claim itself. It seems to have come from a piece in the "Wall Street Journal" by Northwestern University's Stephen Calabresi who argues that Mr. Mueller could not conduct such a broad investigation because he was never confirmed by the Senate. Then, Sean Hannity did a segment on it. Others picked it up.
And this morning, the president tweeted about it, though, he did not cite sources. We'll take it up with Jeff Toobin and Alan Dershowitz shortly.
As to the president's other claim that numerous legal scholars says he got the absolute right to pardon himself, that's a stretch. A Watergate era memo from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel says, no, president can't do that because, quote, no one may be a judge in his own case.
Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers said yes.
Richard Nixon who resigned over his role in Watergate went beyond the president's claim and his view, no pardon is necessary because a president cannot break the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the president in his tweet did not cite Nixon or Hamilton or the DOJ, nor did the White House answer our direct questions to the press office just who are these legal scholars the president is relying on to back up his claim.
Sarah Sanders meantime had a lot to say about the president pardoning himself for doing nothing wrong, nothing whatsoever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Thankfully, the president hasn't done anything wrong and wouldn't have any need for a pardon.
REPORTER: But does he absolutely rule out doing that? I mean, does he rule out ever issuing a pardon for himself?
SANDERS: Once again, thankfully, the president hasn't done anything wrong and therefore wouldn't need one. And once again, the president hasn't done anything wrong and we feel very comfortable in that front.
REPORTER: It's not -- it's not that clear. So I guess simply put: does the president believe he is above the law?
SANDERS: Certainly, no one is above the law. REPORTER: In his tweet, he says he has the absolute right to pardon himself. Does he assume that special counsel will find him guilty of something?
SANDERS: No, because he hasn't done anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, she said it again and again. What she did not do was rule out the president pardoning himself. Some Republican lawmakers who ever seem less than impressed by that idea and some Democrats think even worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that told me I could pardon myself, I think I'd hire a new lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The framers of the Constitution did not want a king.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, this is one of those moments that calls for some legal counsel. Joining us, two of best: CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and professor Alan Dershowitz, who's got a new book coming out shortly, "The Case Against Impeaching Trump".
So, Jeff, in terms of the -- you know, from a legal standpoint, is it problematic that the president, according to his counsel now, did in fact dictate that letter about the Trump Tower meaning?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's enormously significant for two reasons. First of all, it is, by putting out a false statement, it is more evidence of his intent to obstruct justice, to interfere with the investigation by putting out false information. But perhaps even more significant is that it relates to the collusion investigation.
You know, Alan and others have spent a long time saying there's nothing illegal about collusion, any sort of relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia was perfectly appropriate. But if that's the case, why did the president feel obligated to lie about his campaign's relationship with Russia?
If he thought it was all appropriate, he should have just told the truth. But because he knew it was wrong, he showed consciousness of guilt by lying about what went on.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I've always said that it would be utterly inappropriate for a president to collude with any foreign power, especially an enemy foreign power, absolutely inappropriate. But there's a difference between inappropriate and criminal. For something to be criminal, it has to be in the criminal statute.
Look, look, I disagree with a great deal of what has gone on today from the White House. I don't think that a president necessarily has the power to pardon himself. I wrote a column today in "The Hill". I wrote one a year ago in which I said, nobody knows the answer to that question. It's clearly on a blank slate. Nobody should be saying either that a president clearly has the power to pardon himself or a president doesn't have the power. We just don't know the answer to that question. We will probably never find it out.
COOPER: What about the writing of the letter basically with the -- not true or not completely, you know, certainly misleading explanation of what that Trump Tower Jr. meeting was about and had the president's own attorneys go out repeatedly and talked about on TV falsely?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, you know, I really do think that the president has to get his narrative straight and has to have his lawyers tell a consistent and truthful story. I think lying is evidence of a crime I agree with Jeffrey that lying can be evidence of feelings of guilt. But lying itself is not a crime unless it's done to a law enforcement official.
[20:10:02] Look, it's dangerous enough that we have a statute on the books which I have thoroughly disapproved of over the years, making it a crime to lie not under oath to a law enforcement official, even to just deny that you committed a crime.
Civil libertarians have long been opposed to 1001. But to extend that now say lying to the media or lying to "The New York Times" becomes a crime, that would be a bridge too far. But it is evidence of consciousness from guilt.
And if there were a crime and I don't believe that the president can be charged for exercising his constitutional authority -- of course, the president can obstruct justice if he tells underlings to lie to the FBI, if he destroys evidence, if he pays hush money the way Nixon did.
So nobody says the president can't be charged with obstruction of justice -- at least nobody I know. But the difference is, can he be charged for simply firing or pardoning people, which he has the power to do? I think the answer to that is no.
COOPER: I don't get, Jeff, why the president would have or why the president's attorneys and why Sarah Sanders would come out and say something, which is just not true? Either they didn't know it wasn't true, which means their client and the president is lying is not telling the truth to his own people, or they knew and they lied.
TOOBIN: No, I think the former is much more likely than the latter.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree.
TOOBIN: I don't believe that Jay Sekulow just lied repeatedly on television because he felt like it. I think -- and Alan knows this as a defense attorney -- clients lie to their lawyers all the time. I mean --
DERSHOWITZ: All the time.
TOOBIN: And that seems to be what happened here. I mean, I -- in a way, I -- you know, it's embarrassing for Jay Sekulow to have all those quotes out there. But, I mean, it's garbage in, garbage out. He was told lies. He repeated them and now, because other witnesses have been investigated about -- have been interviewed about, you know, what went on on Air Force One and the preparation of that of that statement -- notably, Hope Hicks who was intimately involved, they realized that their client has lied and they have to get their story out. So --
DERSHOWITZ: And it's more than embarrassing to the president's lawyers. Look, if a president's lawyer lies to the FBI in a letter and does that knowingly and intentionally, that can be a crime in and of itself.
So, I'm convinced that Jeffrey Toobin is right that the president's lawyers did not know that the president dictated the statement, if he dictated the statement. Look, none of us knows today what the reality is. We have conflicting stories.
And, boy, if I were a lawyer for a client, I just would not tolerate conflicting stories being out there in this way. It just makes both the legal team and the client look terrible.
COOPER: But that's the -- I mean, it's the same thing coming from -- with this president, which is people in the White House who are defending what the president is doing, they don't know the full story either. I mean, Sarah Sanders, you know, either she lied or she wasn't informed just like, you know, the night Comey was fired. They all came out and said, oh no, you know, what he did to Hillary Clinton.
TOOBIN: And it all it all comes from the client. It all comes from the president. I mean, poor Sarah Sanders. She used the word dictate, the exact word, except she denied that it took place and now, the lawyer said, well, that's what the president did.
I don't think Sarah Sanders went out there so that she would be embarrassed months later. I think she was lied to and she's now stuck in a very embarrassing position.
DERSHOWITZ: I also think that the president overstated it today when he said that the appointment of special counsel is clearly unconstitutional I don't see any basis in the Constitution for concluding that the appointment of a special counsel is unconstitutional. It may be constitutionally permissible for the president to fire somebody, but I think he overstates it when he says that the appointment itself of the special counsel is unconstitutional.
I think he was right the first time when he, during the debate, said that he would appoint a special counsel. I don't approve of special counsel, except in extraordinary circumstances, but unconstitutional again is a little bit stretched.
TOOBIN: That's pretty gentle, gentle, Alan. It's absurd to suggest that Mueller's appointment was unconstitutional. No one thinks that.
I mean --
DERSHOWITZ: Steven Calabresi thinks that.
TOOBIN: Well, good for Steven Calabresi.
DERSHOWITZ: Look, he's written an article about it and he's a serious guy. I don't think in the end I agree with him, but I think it's not right to say that there's no credible argument in that direction.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, appreciate it. Jeffrey Toobin as well.
Both staying on the subject of pardons, Dinesh D'Souza last week in a controversial move was pardoned by President Trump. His first CNN interview is next.
Also later, there's breaking news on the one honor the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will not be receiving. They were invited to visit the White House tomorrow. We'll tell you why the president changed his mind.
[20:18:33] COOPER: President Trump made news this morning with the claim that he could pardon himself. He made news several days ago when he pardoned our next guest, conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who tweeted recently about it, writing, quote: Obama and his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream, destroy my faith in America. Thank you @RealDonaldTrump for fully restoring both.
D'Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance fraud in connection with an illegal contribution to the 2012 Senate campaign of a person named Wendy Long. He was found to be using straw donors to circumvent campaign finance laws.
He was sentenced to five years probation, which included the first eight months of that provision in a community confinement center. He had to submit to drug testing, community service. He's also required to participate in weekly therapeutic counseling by a license therapist. D'Souza was also fined $30,000.
Dinesh joins us now.
Thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
I want to you ask about the tweet that you wrote. I'm just wondering what proof do you have that the Obama administration, tried to, in your words, extinguish your American dream? Because, to be clear, you did plead guilty. You said that you knew what you were doing was against the law, correct?
DINESH D'SOUZA, PARDONED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you have to look at the context of this, Anderson, because let's remember that just weeks before all this went down, I released a movie in the theater, 2,000 theaters, about Obama. And in this movie, it wasn't just a critique of his polices. I was in Kenya, at his family homestead. I interviewed his brother in a slum in Nairobi.
[20:20:01] It was a very emotionally damaging movie to Obama. And the president was very upset by it. And I'm not just speculating, I know this because he was regularly denouncing me on his own Website BarackObama.com.
So, when that happens, and then a few weeks later, the FBI comes banging on your door. Now, look, I admit that I broke the law, and I admit and I -- in fact, I demand that I receive the same penalty as everyone else who does what I did.
But the key point here is that no American in this country's history has been prosecuted, let alone locked up, for doing what I did. Typically, these cases are prosecuted when there's corruption involved, some sort of quid pro quo, or somebody commits a repeat offense. They do it all the time.
So, for these reasons, I became suspicious that part of the reason I was being started was because I did something very upsetting to a very narcissistic president.
COOPER: Right. I mean, you've said that this was -- in other interviews, you've said that this was selective prosecution. In court, you never actually argued that. In fact, your attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case but not arguing selective prosecution. They were arguing complex legal technicalities.
You offered no evidence in a discovery motion of selective prosecution. In fact, at your own sentencing hearing I read, you said: I have never even said I'm being selectively prosecuted. I feared I was. So -- I feared I was being.
So isn't it a little cute to argue selective prosecution on TV but in court when you actually had the opportunity to not actually make that argument?
D'SOUZA: Well, it would be if that was actually the full story. But the full story is actually this: my lawyer Ben Brafman went to the judge and asked him if we could have the FBI file that had been compiled on me, as well as the government's file, because obviously, if there had been collusion, let's say between Eric Holder and my prosecutor Preet Bharara, it would be in that file.
Now, the judge who's a Clinton appointee judge said absolutely not. I'm not turning over that file. So how is one going to find selective prosecution of the very documents containing the evidence that there is evidence --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: The judge said the onus -- the judge said the onus -- I mean, I read the transcript the judge said the onus was on you to actually show any evidence at all of any kind of selective prosecution and you did not do that.
D'SOUZA: Well, let me offer some evidence now because actually we have information now --
COOPER: But before it's when it mattered. I mean, why -- on TV is one thing to do it --
D'SOUZA: But my point, Anderson, how would I show evidence of selective prosecution when the evidence is contained in documents that are in the possession of the FBI, but I have no access --
COOPER: That didn't stop you from going on TV and talking about it at the time, because even during that at the time, you were criticized by the judge for doing TV interviews before your sentencing hearing in which you were talking about selective prosecution.
D'SOUZA: Right, at that time, I said I suspected it and now I actually know it because, see, a congressional oversight committee now has my file and they've looked inside it and some of it is redacted. But right in there, for example, it says -- it highlighted, red flags me as a conservative and a prominent critic of the Obama administration.
Now, Anderson if this was a routine case, Preet Bharara was on CNN, my prosecutor, saying recently, oh, this was a garden-variety case, handled just like any other case. But why are my politics highlighted in my FBI file?
COOPER: But wait?
D'SOUZA: The reason I suspect --
COOPER: That's your evidence?
D'SOUZA: I say -- no, my evidence is that the FBI is signaling to the Justice Department, look, we got one for you. Here's a prominent critic of Obama, you need to know that this is your political enemy, you may want to go after this guy.
COOPER: But wait, wouldn't any complete FBI file -- I mean, you are a prominent conservative, wouldn't any complete FBI file describe who you are as being, you know, a conservative or a critic of the Obama administration or whatever?
D'SOUZA: Anderson, if somebody is compiling a file on somebody and particularly a file of political sensitivity, and you want to be careful not to target people politically, why put this kind of information --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: So, that's the only evidence you have of selective prosecution? That you were mentioned as a critic of the Obama administration?
D'SOUZA: There's actually more. The -- well, there's actually more.
The FBI decides early on at the very beginning to allocate $100,000, to investigate my $20,000 case.
Now, Anderson, look recently as you know in the news, Rosie O'Donnell has been in the public and is in fact admitted to five times exceeding the campaign finance laws. But no hint of a prosecution, no discussion of it. In fact, Rosie said if I gave too much, just give me the money back.
COOPER: Right, but look --
D'SOUZA: And in fact, that's how these cases have typically been treated.
COOPER: But you're incredibly smart guy, you know what Rosie O'Donnell did, she did not set up straw man to funnel money through to a candidate. She gave, you said five times. I think it was a total of like a thousand dollars here or there over the limit, absolutely a violation.
But far different than -- I mean, what you did is you consciously -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- you consciously and intentionally, you went to some friends of yours, got them to donate ten thousand dollars each to this candidate and then you immediately paid them back.
[20:25:09] And when they raised questions about it, you were like oh don't worry about it. So, I mean that seems a lot of more -- setting up a straw man is a lot more than what Rosie O'Donnell like over paying, no?
D'SOUZA: Well, but I think what you're not saying Anderson is that Rosie O'Donnell used four different spellings of her name and five different addresses. Now, why would she do that if she didn't want computers to be unable to collate these names and see that the same person made all those contributions?
COOPER: I don't know. That I'm unaware of, but it seems like if she's this criminal mastermind, she would have like -- I think in one of the cases, you know, the limit is, what, $2,700 and she gave $3,700 or something. It doesn't seem like she's not setting up --
D'SOUZA: Anderson, let's be fair -- these cases, Anderson, in fairness, both these cases are similar. To be in a better America, in the past, neither Rosie nor I would be prosecuted. I'm not -- I'm not saying that by itself Rosie should be prosecuted, she obviously had no corrupt intent and neither did I.
Look, I didn't even tell the candidate Wendy Long that I did this. So, clearly, I was not expecting any kind of a quid pro quo. I think in an earlier America, a Jimmy Carter would not have gone after me for this and George H.W. bush would never go after Michael Moore and try to lock them up.
What I'm suggesting is that under Hillary and under Obama, we have basically seen this sort of -- a new phenomenon, the use of the weapons of the state against political adversaries. So, my case is not unique.
COOPER: So, you don't -- you haven't really offered -- I'm not saying that that's not possible. I'm just saying you haven't offered any evidence other than in your FBI file, you were mentioned as a critic of the Obama administration.
You've said this crime that that you were convinced it is never prosecuted in the court case, there were like 20 examples used of election violations that were mentioned in court. In fact, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted a guy named Jeffrey Thompson who was a Democrat donor connected to Hillary Clinton and there was a headline on GOP.com at the height of the campaign in August 2016 that said Clinton's illegal straw donor gets sentenced, Thompson got three months in prison for his crimes.
You actually -- you were -- you could have gotten to 10 to 16 months in prison, you got no prison time at all. So, if this was some sort of conspiracy against you by the Obama administration and by a judge who was appointed by Clinton, although I think she was the judge was also confirmed by Republicans, why didn't you get any jail time? Because it seems if this was because they were really an enemy of the state, they would have really gone after you. They gave you a plea deal.
D'SOUZA: Well, they did the government did want me to go to prison and the judge said no and gave me a different sentence instead. Look, the case --
COOPER: Right, but you said the judge was part of this nefarious plot.
D'SOUZA: He was not quite a nefarious plot but he was on the same ideological camp as the plotters. In other words, there's no denying that I'm in Democratic New York. This is a left-wing state and it's a left-wing environment.
So, here I am as a conservative, so one would think extra precautions should be taken to make sure that no kind of political hit is going on.
COOPER: Right, but isn't you getting a plea deal where you just got probation and you had -- I think you have to do one day of community service each week educating the less fortunate? I mean, isn't that a sign --
D'SOUZA: Anderson, first of all, I am -- I was ordered to court- ordered mandatory psychiatric treatment. Now think about this, am I Jeffrey Dahmer? Did I put bodies in the refrigerator? I was helping a longtime college friend and yet the judge was -- judge
was acting as if I needed some sort of re-education. I'm sure if I started worshipping Obama and repenting of my crimes and appearing regularly on MSNBC, maybe I would have been pronounced cured.
COOPER: But on that argument, the idea that that you were being sentenced to, you know, therapy for re-education, if they thought your ideas were so dangerous, why would they have you doing community service of actually educating a classroom full of people? Isn't that what you were doing for your community service? They were putting you in front of people actually well because of how intelligent you are?
D'SOUZA: Well, the judge was afraid that if I spoke to immigrants about America and about issues, I would actually have a positive effect on them and might even convert them to my way of thinking. So, he basically said I will not approve any community service program where you can share your ideas. I merely want you to be teaching the English language.
And so, my sentence was contrived in a way to prevent me from having that kind of influence.
COOPER: All right. Dinesh D'Souza, I appreciate you being on. Thank you very much.
We have big breaking news ahead in the Russia probe, about what one of the key defendants could allegedly be up to.
Also breaking news in the White House, the appearance by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles is now off. There's a battle brewing over the reasons why, and one Eagle just weighed in with quite an accusation, all next.
[20:33:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's breaking news tonight from the White House, President Trump abruptly cancelling tomorrow scheduled visit by the NFL Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The reason, Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House with details.
So what are the President say about the cancelling?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he said essentially is that the Philadelphia Eagles who were supposed to come up here tomorrow for their White House super bowl win celebration have essentially been disinvited, Anderson.
We talk to a White House official in the last several minutes, who confirms that the statement that the White House put out this evening essentially disinvites the super bowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles from the White House, from a celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, with the President because of this ongoing issue about standing up for the national anthem before football games. We can put this statement up on screen and show you a little bit of what the White House is saying. And here it is, it says, the Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem hand on heart, in honor the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. So Anderson, it sounds like that White House, the President they both have a patriotism test for national championships sport team to come to the White House and in the view of the President, the view of this White House Philadelphia Eagles, they won the super bowl but they filled to the President's patriotism test and so they're not coming. Instead the White House says, it's planning to have some kind of celebration on the South Lawn with the Eagles fan. It's not exactly clear how many of them will show up, given the fact that their favorite team is not going to be here.
COOPER: It's interesting because I mean in the past athletes have decided not to go to the White House and meet the President for various reasons but those events have ever actually been canceled, right?
[20:35:02] ACOSTA: That's right. We saw this does up with the Golden State Warriors. They were supposed to come here to the White House, but essentially in solidarity with other co-football players, who by the way, we should recall this, the President referred to football players who kneeled during the national anthems as sons of bitches. At one point, he said, we need to get those sons of bitches off the football field. But the Golden State Warriors instead of coming to the White House in solidarity with a lot of those football players, they decided to go to the national museum of African American history and culture here in Washington, that was a dis -- obviously aim at the President and so it appears at this point this is not being sorted out. But, Anderson, as you just said, there is a long standing tradition of these sports teams coming to the White House and the President appears to be abruptly cutting that off and saying if sports teams don't pass this patriotism test, they are not coming to the White House to celebrate, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thanks very much. There's some breaking news on top of Jim's reporting, Eagles' wide receiver Torrey Smith just tweeted calling Sarah Sanders a liar, "so many lies SMH," which means Shaking My Head. "Not many people were going to go. No one refused to go simply because Trump insists folks stand for the anthem."
He concluded with this, "The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military."
Joining us now is David Gergen and Marc Lamont Hill.
David, have you heard, I mean, have you -- is there any case like this that you know?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We've been -- this is again, unprecedented. And I think it's sad for the country, because these ceremonies have often had athlete who didn't come last year, as I recall when the patriots came for their -- after winning the football championship. There are like seven players who didn't show up. The President wants to have the event and it was good, everybody, the people came and celebrated and we went on about our business. This suggests, Anderson, I must say, it has a whiff of a lot more about politics and trying to once again divert us from more serious matters especially regarding to Mueller and all the controversies last minute and he has known for days a bunch more kind of come. Last minute, the night before?
COOPER: Mark, it does seem like this -- a field question is a convenient way for the President kind of when thing gets slow or he needs a boost or he needs to deflect attention be kind of goes to this well?
MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST, BET NEWS: That's exactly right. I mean, there were no surprises here and the Eagles made it very clear and some people work going -- the Golden State Warriors made a similar decision last year, that was very clear.
There was no breaking news on the Eagles side of thing. They decided, the White House decided to make a different decision right now because it allows us to take our attention away from Mueller, to take our attention away from Russia, to take our attention away from all the other things that we could be talking about. It's strategic but also, Anderson, it's really disappointing given the NFL's policy change last week. This shows that when you cave to bullies, it doesn't change anything. They continue to bully. They were much of the policy change was to appease people like Donald Trump and it doesn't stop this training from rolling.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it does -- David, I mean to Marc's point it comes on the heels of the NFL basically appeasing the President by rolling that the teams have to stand or player rest to stay in the locker room?
GERGEN: Absolutely. And so much of this, you know, there are a lot of conservatives, especially on the libertarian side, who objected this. They think it's like your amendment rights to be, you know, protesting has been part of the American fabric since the open days of the Republican. Now, suddenly we start making these kinds of divisions and it has this racial tone to it which I think is very unfortunate.
I mean, the people who are protesting are essentially African Americans, over African American criminal justice towards African Americans and they are taking a knee and they have taken something which is not a big a deal and blown it up and I just -- you just have to believe it is for political purposes for his own good.
COOPER: Yes, Mark, I mean, it is very difficult to gloss over any kind of racial undertones to this?
HILL: Absolutely. It is also interesting that when the patriots, which are kind of read in the public imagination as a white Latin to bill a check to the owner and also through Tom Brady, when some of them don't want to participate in the White House festivities they still have it. When you have the eagles do it, it's a very different conversation. And also, this is a way of putting black players in their place. If you are going to stand where I tell you to, that you're not allowed in my White House, not the people's White House but my White House, it's very, very, disturbing. But it also reinforces this idea somehow that he can be the arbiter of who is a patriot and who is not. He can be the decider of what counts as legitimate protest and what isn't because right now, he is protesting and saying, you know, your first amendment rights aren't as important as what I value in terms of paying tribute to the military, soldiers, et cetera. So he is prioritizing his values of a player, that itself is imposition.
COOPER: Yes. Marc Lamont Hill, I appreciate you being here. David Gergen stick around for a second. I want to get David's take on the breaking news on Paul Manafort, why the Russia special counsel wants Paul Manafort in jail as soon as possible. New information ahead.
[20:43:25] COOPER: This just breaking, it could be very big indeed, new word coming into Russia investigation, a motion filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning Paul Manafort, former Trump Campaign Chairman already charge with a long list of allege crimes. Mueller's office is accusing Manafort of attempting to tamper with witnesses and they're asking the court to revoke his bound as well as his house arrest. CNN's Sara Murray just got hold of the actual pilling. She is going through it now. And Sara what is the headline here?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. The headline is base on what you're pointed out, the special counsel's office certainly not very happy with Paul Manafort. A special counsel prosecutor alleged that Manafort was attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on free trial release and accordingly has violated the conditions of his release.
Now remember Paul Manafort has been on house arrest as part of this, the special counsel's office is basically seeking to pull back on his house arrest and possibly send him to jail. In this filing they are calling for the court to have a hearing on this issue as soon as possible. Like I said, Anderson, we are looking through this failing to glean any details about exactly what the special counsel's office alleges that Paul Manafort did. The witnesses in question are not named in this filling. So we are going to dig through this a little bit more and bring as much news to you as we possibly can but obviously this is a huge allegation from the special counsel's office when it comes to Paul Manafort case. He has insisted over and over again that he is not guilty, so far, he has resisted any kind of effort to strike a plea deal like his partner Rick Gates did.
COOPER: Yes, we should point out, we have the filing here and I think it is 90 pages. So I know you have a lot to go through. There's still a details to learn. So we'll continue to check in with you throughout the night, and let you get back to reading the documents and your team.
[20:45:04] Also, David Gergen is here with us. Also in the phone is CNN's Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero.
David Gergen, I mean, this is pretty significant, again, we don't know a lot of the details here. This is just breaking, we just got this filing, but if Mueller is asking for Manafort to revoke his bail, that's significant.
GERGEN: It is not only about him revoking his bail, the allegations and we have only had a chance to scan some pages of this 90 page report briefing is basically after being charged with several crimes, federal crimes he has committed new crimes that is the allegation with witness tampering, and that is a very serious charge. You go to jail for a long time.
It also suggests if it is witness tampering there is a huge cover up underway about Manafort at least. We don't know if this touches upon the President or anything like that, it's way too early to tell but this briefing suggests a relief through for people involved and the witness tampering efforts.
COOPER: And Carrie Cordero, we supposed to point out, I mean, Gates, who is Manafort's sort of right-hand person has already made a deal. I believe his former son-in-law has also made a deal. So this -- there's certainly a lot of folks lined up against Manafort who are cooperating with Mueller?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): There are. And certainly he has been under pressure to cooperate as well. I think we have to look at this, you know, and I haven't had a chance to look all through this document yet as well, but I think we have to look at this in the context of everything else that we are seeing play out in the public domain.
In other words, if behind the scenes, the special counsel's office has been learning that Manafort has been trying to pressure or interfere with the investigation, further obstruct, tamper with witnesses, there is a significant possibility and again, I am extrapolating from what we are hearing so far, but there is significant possibility that the President's legal team has gotten wind of some of this as well and some of the activity that we have been hearing about pardons, about just sort of the general, the statements that are coming out of the President, his Twitter feed, I think we have to take it all in context together that there is a lot going on behind the scenes that insiders know about that are feeding into some of the public activity that we have been seeing.
COOPER: So wait, Carrie, you're saying it is possible that the President's legal team was aware in advance of these allegations by Mueller?
CORDERO: I am just saying, I don't know what they would have known in advance.
CORDERO: But what I am trying to say is that it is possible if this ongoing investigation was going on, that they could get wind of different activities that are going on. For example, if Manafort is reaching out to different people in the Trump campaign orbit, we don't know who, you know, I haven't read the document yet, so I don't know who he is alleged to have been tampering with, but it's just possible that different pieces of the investigation can crush on other parts and that some of this may end up on being connected?
COOPER: Right. Also Jeff Toobin is joining us on the phone.
We should also point out, Jeff, to Carrie's point, we don't know who he may have been tampering -- trying to tamper with according to the government may have not been anybody in the administration, might have been people in his business past. You know, it's hard to imagine that he would have much access to anybody now in the administration or formally in the campaign, Jeff?
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): That's right. And remember that the charges against Manafort do not relate to his involvement in the 2016 campaign. He is charged in relation to his lobbying effort that is -- on behalf of Ukrainian interest who are aligned with Russia but they are not directly related to the campaign.
COOPER: Yes. And Jeff, I am just getting word that Sara Murray also just gotten some more information out of this. So I just want to quickly go back to her.
Sara, what have you learned?
MURRAY: We are looking through these filings and it basically said that Manafort had repeatedly contacted two people who worked in previously assisted in lobbying MPR efforts when it came to his work for Ukrainian politicians as Jeffrey Toobin was just lying out. And according to the filing, Manafort sought to secure materially false testimony concerning the activity of -- this is influential group of European leaders, it's called the Hapsburg Group that had to do with Ukraine lobbying.
So this seems to be sort of what these prosecutors are alleging, some of these witnesses that he tried to continue contacting and said he was continually in contact with these folks, even as the two preceding indictments coming out.
Again, this seems to have to do with his work with Ukrainian lobbying, more so than anything directly to do with the campaign but we're still digging into this. We will bring you any new details as we get them.
COOPER: All right, David Gergen, Carrie Cordero, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much. A lot more news to get tonight, first, the top of the house is the premiere of Chris Cuomo, Prime Time.
Chris, we welcome officially at Prime Time, what do you have coming up tonight?
[20:50:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "COUMO PRIME TIME: Thank you very much, I'm getting my pocket square ready. Well, look, we'll going to take a part this breaking news that Sara Murray is bringing you. We're getting lucky tonight Anderson, we have Adam Schiff here, of course the Democrat from California, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee has been so intimately involved in the Russia probe. What does this mean about Manafort? What are the tentacles, what are the potentials for exposure and of course, we've got the headliner tonight, Rudy Giuliani is here. He has a lot to answer for. So we'll going to put him to the test on the big headlines.
COOPER: No doubt about that. Chris, thanks very much. I appreciate it. We'll look at you, again "Cuomo Prime Time" premiers in just a few minutes at the top of the hour, 9:00 p.m. eastern.
Up next on 360, an exclusive interview with Apple's CEO, Tim Cook. He shares new features for the iPhones and other devices, plus, how Apple is trying to stop phone addiction.
COOPER: Apple is close to becoming the first company worth $1 trillion, some valued at $948 billion. And with that valuation, the company says, comes responsibilities, privacy responsibilities, social responsibilities. And, they say, people aren't spending too much time on their products. CNNMoney Laurie Segall just finished an exclusive interview with Apple's CEO Tim Cook. He talked about all of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Normally at this Developers Conference, you are trying to get people to pick their phone more and more, you guys announced a tech addiction tool that will almost help us limit our screen time.
[20:55:00] TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: You know, we've never been focused on usage as a key parameter. And we're rolling out great tools to both make people aware of how much time they're spending and the apps they're spending them in, but also how many times they pick up their phone, how many notifications they get. You know, empowering people with the facts will allow them to decide themselves how they want to come back.
SEGALL: Tell me about your own tech habit, what did you learned?
COOK: Yes, I've been using it. And I have to tell you, I thought I was fairly disciplined about this, and I was wrong. When I began to get the data, I found I was spending a lot more time than I should.
SEGALL: Like where?
COOK: Well, I don't want to give you all the apps, but just too much. And ask themselves if they're picking up their phone 10 times an hour or 20 times an hour, maybe they could do it less.
SEGALL: Still interesting because there's this idea, who is in control, man or machine? You believe that we as human beings we can control?
COOK: I absolutely do. I don't subscribe to the machines taking over the world. And I don't worry about that. I worry much more about people thinking like machines.
SEGALL: Do you think that tech companies are in a position right now where they can self-regulate some of these more sticky issues?
COOK: Well, that's a big topic. Generally for me, I'm not a big fan of regulation. I think self-regulation is the best. But when it's not working, and in some cases it's not working, you have to ask yourself, so what form of regulation might be good. And I think it's a fair question that many people are asking at this point.
SEGALL: What kind do you think isn't working?
COOK: Well, I think the privacy thing has gotten totally out of control. And I think most people are not aware of who is tracking them, how much they're being tracked, and sort of the large amounts of detailed data that are out there about them.
SEGALL: Do we, as users just have to reenvision the idea of privacy?
COOK: No. To me -- and we feel this very deeply. We think privacy is a fundamental human right. So that is the angle that we look at it. Privacy from an American point of view is one of these key civil liberties that define what it is to be American.
SEGALL: It's a fundamental human right. Do you think the last year has shown that fundamental human right could be under attack?
COOK: I think it has been under attack, and we've been saying that quite some time.
SEGALL: Just this morning the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake in celebration of a same sex couple. As a leader in the community, are Apple has, you know, continuously stood in front of LGBTQ rights. What's your reaction?
COOK: Well, I haven't read the opinion and so I reserve the right to read that and deeply understand before I comment on it. But in terms of the general topic, we believe that everybody should treat everybody else with dignity and respect. And that's how we run our company. That's what we expect of each other. And that pertains to all communities including the LGBTQ community.
SEGALL: You said today that there are people from over 70 different countries here.
SEGALL: Are you concerned at all with a lot of the stricter immigration policies?
COOK: Yes, I think my view on DACA is the Congress needs to fix DACA. And fix DACA to me means allow everyone to stay in the country and stop this ridiculous discussion that people brought here as kids shouldn't be allowed to stay here.
SEGALL: I know there is this fear of the impact on consumers and will iPhone prices go up if there is an escalated trade war, victorious (ph). I know you said you were optimistic before. Are you still optimistic?
COOK: I am. I am very optimistic, because no one will win from that. It will be a lose/lose. And I think that when the facts are so clear like that, I think that both parties will see that and be able to work things out.
SEGALL: Do you think that if that were to occur, that iPhone prices could go up?
COOK: I don't think that iPhone will get a tariff on it, is my belief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Laurie, Apple announced today, the ability for users to limit apps and social media tracking. How is that going to work?
SEGALL: A bit of a swipe at Facebook. You know, they're making it harder for companies like Facebook to track users on the new iOS and Mac. You'll see actually a pop up that allow -- that will ask for permission. So you know, it's a very interesting moment now for technology and humanity. This is something Tim Cook has spoken quite a bit about. And you see it front row and center here at the Developers Conference. You have 5,000 developers from all around the world, over 70 different countries. So a lot of very serious questions but also a lot of interesting features we'll see roll out over the next couple of months.
COOPER: Great. Laurie, thanks very much, I appreciate it.
Thanks for watching 360. New show, we're very excited about, time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for the Premier of "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?