Return to Transcripts main page


Exclusive: Kim Kardashian West Talks to CNN About the Commuted Sentence for Alice Marie Johnson; First Lady Melania Trump's Office Fires Back at Rudy Giuliani Over His Remarks About Stormy Daniels; President Trump Escalates War of Words with Allies. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired June 7, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, President Trump and the president of France are right now exchanging verbal blows the night before they're supposed to be talking about what unites them.

Also, the first lady hits back at her husband's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, over his remarks about Stormy Daniels. Our Dana Bash has just spoken with Mayor Giuliani, and you'll not want to miss what he has to say to her.

First, something you'll only see here. Kim Kardashian West breaking her silence, speaking out for the first time about her effort to secure the freedom of this woman caught in what was obviously one of the great joyful moments of her life. Alice Marie Johnson rushing into the arms of loved ones, freed yesterday after 21 years in federal prison, sentenced to life on drug charges.

Kardashian West lobbied the president on Ms. Johnson's behalf and yesterday he the commuted her sentence, citing her good behavior and rehabilitation. None of which would be especially controversial, except it's part of a series of pardons and proposed pardons by the president that is raising questions on a number of fronts, including just exactly how is the president using one of the absolutely powers that the president shares with kings.

The current "TIME" magazine cover story raising the specter of an imperial presidency, something we'll touch on later.

First, though, the case of Alice Marie Johnson and Kim Kardashian West who spoke earlier today with CNN's Van Jones.

Van, you just finished an interview with Kim Kardashian West, what did she have to say?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: Hey, listen, it was phenomenal interview. She was super emotional about this victory. She got this woman her freedom and she was passionate about the cause.

She made a little bit of news. She said Donald Trump called her directly, personally, on her cell phone. And then she then got a chance to call Alice Johnson in prison and let her know that she was going to be coming home. And she also responded to a lot of the criticisms and skepticism, no

good deed goes unpunished, but she had some good stuff to say for herself.


JONES: The meeting with President Trump, now, that's a whole other level.


JONES: How did that happen?

KARDASHIAN WEST: Well, when I initially called Ivanka, I said, I would love a meeting with your dad. I said that from the start. And then that took about six or seven months to get. And so, once we got our -- you know, the file really strong, we were able to plan a meeting.

And there was the prison reform summit that I know you were at. So, I was going to go to that, and my meeting was scheduled the day before that. And then things were changing, schedules were changing, and so they had rescheduled the meeting and it happened to be on Alice's birthday, and that was the date they picked. And so, I was like, OK, this is just all aligned, this is -- the stars are all in our favor today. I just feel that this is the right day to do it. And --

JONES: So you go in?


JONES: That's crazy. You got to know, for normal people, Kim Kardashian going into the Trump White House --

KARDASHIAN WEST: Into the West Wing.

JONES: The Oval Office.

KARDASHIAN WEST: Yes, I have to say, I never get star struck. I was star struck over the Oval Office.

JONES: Yes, President Trump actually called you.


JONES: So, you're sitting there, the phone rings, he said, this is Donald Trump or what happens?

KARDASHIAN WEST: No, it says unknown.

And so I remember, I was on the phone with my husband, and I said, wait, babe, I got to call you back. And it was secretary on the line that said she had the president on the phone and I knew it had to be some -- some news.

Hopefully, you know, I was always really hopeful. And I had been in communication with Jared, so I was feeling things were looking really positive.

But that week, after meeting, you're just literally on pins and needles waiting to hear what's going on. So, yes, he called my cell phone.

WEST: And what did he say?

KARDASHIAN WEST: He said that he's really investigated this case and spoke to her warden, spoke to just everyone and everyone had a unanimous -- from the people that he reached out to, unanimous feeling of Alice, that she will live a great life. And she will -- that she has done her time, has been such a model person in prison, she's never had any, like, infractions on, you know, behavior or any -- anything --

JONES: Which is almost impossible in prison, by the way.

KARDASHIAN WEST: Yes, so she -- yes. And she -- she became an ordained minister, she got so many degrees. She just -- knowing that she's never going to get out, but she is still so amazing and is working on herself the whole time she's there, I think just -- he felt her heart. And he explained that to me.

[20:05:02] And I was just -- I mean, when he said he has the papers in front of him and he's signing it, I just like, my heart was so full.

JONES: I'm just going to throw it, you tell me who's right and who's wrong? Trump is using you as a political pawn, so now you're sort of -- you've endorsed him, in any way. You've kind of given him legitimacy. You might be in a campaign video. He used you.

KARDASHIAN WEST: I think -- I think Kanye's already given him legitimacy, so, I don't -- you know -- in that way. So, I -- I was working on this before, so -- I don't -- like, for being -- I don't think I would be used, you know?

And at the end of the day, he heard me out. We got the job done. So -- I don't think, like, what could he really use me for?


COOPER: I wonder, what does this say to you about how the president is making decisions, about whom he pardons, who he doesn't?

JONES: Well, you know, I think that he has taken a very unusual approach to pardons. You know, President Obama pardoned more than a thousand people in similar situations, but he had a big process for it. Donald Trump seems to be going a little bit more sporadically, in some ways.

However, if you listen to what Kim Kardashian West said, being able to make the case that this person had changed their lives, that they had served a lot of time and they could go home and be a good, productive member of society seemed to land strongly with President Trump. And so, I think it's a different way of doing business.

But if you are a family member of Ms. Alice, you're pretty happy with his decision making this week.

COOPER: I'm going to be speaking with Raymond Santana, obviously, a member of the Central Park Five coming up next. How do you make sense of someone who can show mercy to someone like Alice Marie Johnson, but still yet to this day has yet to apologize or admit he was wrong about, you know, the horrible things he said about the Central Park Five?

JONES: You know, it's one of the most baffling things. And I think people are trying to figure out how to square the circle, how to make sense of stuff. It's very, very tough.

What I would says is this, I am glad President Trump did this. I hope he does more things like this. I hope he becomes more systemic in doing it.

At the same time, it doesn't take away from some of the other bad stuff. If you've got a kid and they get nine questions wrong and they get one question right, you're glad they got the question right, but they still don't get an "A." Donald Trump has a long way to go to get to "A" when it comes to these issues around justice.

COOPER: Van Jones, thanks so much.

Raymond Santana in his case, he gave Kim Kardashian West a shout-out today. Just to remind you, in 1990, Santana and four others were convicted in the beating and rape of a jogger in New York Central Park. After years in prison, he and the rest of what became known as the Central Park Five were finally exonerated. Someone else committed the crime, DNA evidence confirmed it.

Today, Raymond Santana tweeted, I gave Kim Kardashian a lot of flak about speaking on prison reform, but when I found out she went to champion on Alice Johnson's behalf, I had to eat my words. Apologies to Kim Kardashian West, recognize your work. Salute.

And in that one tweet, Raymond Santana was more generous to Kim Kardashian West than the president ever was to him or the other members of the Central Park Five.

In the weeks after the attacks, citizen Trump bought these full page newspaper ads calling for a return on the death penalty. When the five were exonerated, he refused to accept it. And when the city agreed to a $41 million settlement with them, he wrote an opinion piece calling it a disgrace. He has to this day never apologized to Raymond Santana, who joins us, or any member of the Central Park Five.

Raymond, I want to ask you the same question that I just asked Van Jones. How do you make sense of the president who can show mercy to someone like Alice Marie Johnson, but still to this day hasn't apologized to you or the other four of the Central Park Five?

RAYMOND SANTANA, EXONERATED MEMBER OF CENTRAL PARK FIVE: You know, Anderson, it's -- when I first heard about it, you know, I really thought that it was a good thing. I thought it was a great thing, that somebody was finally pardoned, that he had taken a step to do something, you now, for Alice Johnson. But, there's a part of me that, because of this man's track record, because we know that he's deceitful, he has lied several times, he has fabricated things, it's very hard to believe that it comes from a genuine place, you know?

And then we find out that Kim Kardashian, you know, went and spoke to him and consulted with him, and she swayed him to do this. So, it just proves that, at the end of the day, like he's still full of lies and still full of trickery, and that it hurts, because here we are, right? In the pardon of Scooter Libby, right? You know, and I quote, Donald said that, you know, he didn't know the man personally, but he spoke to several people.

[20:10:02] And several people said that this guy was done unjustly. And that's what he went by.

And in our case, you know, we had DNA evidence. We had the prosecutor, right? We had several people who championed for us. And none of that mattered to him and he didn't care. We were still guilty in his eyes.

So, at the end of the day, you know, this move doesn't look like it comes from a good place. We can't trust him. You know, you can't just dangle Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in our face and say, look, I have a heart, and I deserve a pass.

COOPER: We heard from Kim Kardashian a bit ago. The fact that there's been a celebrity component to some of these pardons, whether it's with her or Sylvester Stallone and Jack Johnson, does that matter in your mind? Or at the end of the day, if a commutation or pardon happens, that's what matters most?

SANTANA: I think that -- I think that, you know, it does matter. In our case, you know, you had Ken Burns who did his research and seek the truth and seek justice, and he knew that we were innocent, so he stepped up and decided to do something for it, you know? And I think that that weighs a lot, because our celebrities, this is what they're supposed to do. They have this major influence. They have a duty to the public, those people who support them. They're supposed to champion for a cause like this.

COOPER: I just want to read a portion of the full-page ad that then Donald Trump took out in the "Daily News," this was back in 1989, about you and your co-defendants. He wrote, quote, criminals must be told that their civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins.

Does that at all sound like the same man who's pardoning people who have a criminal record now?

SANTANA: Well, I mean, it might look like there's a change, but I don't want to give him that pass just yet. He needs to do more for our community. We have a lot of issues.

If you want to pardon people, speak to the Innocence Project in New York City. I'm sure they have a whole list of people that deserve pardons. You know, I mean, there's other issues that we have to deal with before we can trust Donald Trump.

I mean, there's police brutality, mass incarceration, you know, job unemployment, education, funding for programs that he has cut in the past, like, he has to do all of these things and make it right before we can finally trust this man.

COOPER: The president has shown compassion by pardoning someone like Alice Marie Johnson or commuting a sentence. Do you have any kind of expectation that he may also show compassion and admit he was wrong and apologize to you and the other four, or at least admit he was wrong?

SANTANA: I mean, if he does, it's a first step in the right direction. But before I believe him, he has to do a whole lot more for our community.

COOPER: Raymond Santana, it's always good to talk to you. Thank you, Raymond.

SANTANA: Thank you so much, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, coming up, more breaking news. A fascinating story. First Lady Melania Trump firing back at her husband's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, saying, you don't speak for me about Stormy Daniels.

So what does Giuliani say to that? Dana Bash has just talked to him. Stay tuned. You want to hear.

Later, the president's feud with France and now Canada the night before the G7 summit. Have they forgotten the parade already? And what does it say about the president who's chosen to take on some of this country's oldest allies?


[20:16:48] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight. Some stunning pushback from the Office of the First Lady Melania Trump directed at her husband's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. As you know, Giuliani was brought onboard just last month to be aggressive, a flame thrower, to defend the president against his legal troubles. He's certainly living up to that and right now under fire tonight from the first lady's team.

This all started earlier today at a conference in Tel Aviv where Giuliani was asked how Mrs. Trump feels about allegations from Stormy Daniels that she had an affair with the president back in 2006.

Here's how Giuliani responded.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: She believes in her husband. She knows it's not true. I don't even think there's a slight suspicion that it's true, when you're -- excuse me, when you look at Stormy Daniels. I know Donald Trump and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's respect her.

GIULIANI: Look at his three wives, right? Beautiful women, classy women. Women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?


COOPER: Now, the first lady might have remained quiet about Mr. Giuliani saying she believes in her husband and knows it's not true, but instead, this afternoon, her communications director came out with a statement. Quote, I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani.

CNN's Dana Bash has just talked with Rudy Giuliani to get his reaction to all of this. She joins me now, along with CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Dana, I find this story fascinating. First of all, how unusual is it -- before we get to what Giuliani has told you, how unusual is it that the first lady's office put out a statement, basically slapping him down?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESONDENT: So unusual. I mean, Anderson, it's unusual for the first lady's office in any White House to put out a statement on anything of this nature, even if they were talking about a political foe.

This is far from that. I mean, this is the first lady's office, as you said, slapping down the president -- her husband's attorney, for something that he said in a public forum on a global stage about her sort of saying what she -- what he thinks that she feels, or what she believes. And, you know, so, she's basically saying to him, cut it out.

But she's also sending a signal, in a very carefully worded statement, that maybe she doesn't believe her husband. And there's no question that she left it open to interpretation, as she does in so many different venues and so many different ways.

COOPER: Right, you could read the statement in multiple ways, but certainly a slapdown of Giuliani, essentially we essentially, don't put words in my mouth. Don't say what I'm thinking.

BASH: Yes, no question. And you mentioned that I talked to him, Anderson. I did, and I said, how did you take it?

And what he said is the following. He said, I took it, meaning Melania Trump's statement, as she didn't want to get involved and get called as a witness or anything like that.

Then he went on to say, I think she is saying, please don't say that. I said anything, because I didn't. That's the freedom of being a lawyer, that's my interpretation.

Now, he also said to me that he had never interviewed -- that's the word he used -- interviewed Melania Trump about this, meaning he never talked to her about it. [20:20:02] That he was sort of just saying what he thinks that she

believes. He also said that, as of -- this is, by the way, he's still in Israel. So we spoke basically in the middle of the night, his time, earlier this evening. He said that he has not heard from the president, nor anyone in the White House, including Melania Trump, with an angry call or any call at all about his statements.

COOPER: Does -- Jeff, does -- what is going on with Rudy Giuliani?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is really a question for a psychiatrist more than a legal analyst. I mean, he's just sort of riffing out there.

COOPER: Because, I mean, from a legal standpoint, a wife isn't going to be called in to testify against her husband.

TOOBIN: Right. She is -- she has privilege with anything that he might have said to her and her opinion about whether this affair took place would certainly not be legally relevant, other than any communications she would have had. So, I mean, that's just, you know, an argument of no substance.

But, I mean, this is a pattern with Giuliani. I mean, he keeps making things up and representing subjects that he has no knowledge of. I mean, the same day, Secretary of State Pompeo slapped Giuliani down, because Giuliani said, you know, Kim Jong-un came begging and crawling back to the summit. And Pompeo said, well, he doesn't speak for us in foreign policy.

So, he's just out there riffing on television. And I don't think anyone is, at this point, paying a lot of attention.

COOPER: And, Dana, didn't Giuliani also say something about that Stormy Daniels doesn't have any credibility, but there may be others out there who do?

BASH: Listen, he has been very clear in saying that she doesn't have any credibility. I mean, that was really the initial big headline from this event that he did in Israel. And one of the things that he said, Anderson, and he's made that clear a number of times, is the reason he doesn't believe that Stormy Daniels is telling the truth is basically because she's not his kind of woman.

He said that publicly and he also said to me that he believes that she, meaning Melania Trump, knows him well enough to know on this one, what's the word, fakakta. That's a Yiddish word. She's in Israel, so he may be having a "when in Rome" moment.

But he's basically say, even Melania Trump says, with this allegation from someone like Stormy Daniels, who he's described in very negative terms, she just doesn't believe it. Again, this flies in the face of what Melania Trump through her spokesperson said today, in very abrupt terms and blunt terms, that he doesn't speak for her.

COOPER: Jeff, is Giuliani having the kind of week that would help with his credibility in terms of Robert Mueller? That was supposedly the reason he was brought on.

TOOBIN: I don't think Robert Mueller's office cares a whit about this stuff he says on television. I -- this is just theater. I think some of what Giuliani says, the theatrical aspects of it, probably appeal to his client, Donald Trump.

I mean, I think --

BASH: It does.

TOOBIN: -- I think Giuliani is out there, being outrageous and being definitive and saying that the Mueller people are trying to frame Donald Trump. I bet the president loves that. So I don't think Giuliani is in trouble, with his client, just in terms of the rest of us, listening to what he says.

You know, I think we've learned to take it with a grain of salt and then some.

COOPER: Dana Bash, Jeff Toobin, thank you very much.

We have more breaking news connected to Stormy Daniels. Her former attorney, Keith Davidson, is filing a defamation claim now against her and her current attorney, Michael Avenatti. Davidson is also throwing in a separate claim against president Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for allegedly recording phone calls with Davidson. Now, you'll recall, it was only yesterday that Avenatti filed a lawsuit against Davidson claiming that he and Cohen joined forces to protect the president against accusations of an affair by Ms. Daniels.

Much more ahead tonight, the president's latest attacks on his allies, the night before he travels to meet the same allies that he's attacking. We'll talk about what increasingly looks like a president spoiling for a fight with friends, when we continue.


[20:27:27] COOPER: President Trump leaves tomorrow for a summit in Quebec. He reportedly does not want to attend, with allies he apparently doesn't want to see, and certainly does not mind antagonizing, including our oldest ally, France, whose president today hit back hard. We'll tell you about that in a minute.

As for the summit he is apparently eager for, the one next week in Singapore with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, he's not exactly cramming for that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I'm very well- prepared. I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done.


COOPER: Now, whatever you think of that approach, it's not exactly the norm, especially not with a dangerous and unpredictable nuclear- armed adversary, nor is it the norm to be openly pushing allies around, sometimes even literally.

Remember, the president made his international debut, pushing asides Montenegro's prime minister out of the way during a photo op at last year's NATO conference. He came into office having campaigned criticizing NATO heavily.


TRUMP: Number one, NATO is obsolete.

And number two, the people aren't paying their way.

It's obsolete and we pay too much money.

NATO, we're going to have the people that aren't paying, they're going to start paying.

It's obsolete.

We were getting ripped in NATO.

They don't pay their bills.

They are delinquent.


COOPER: Well, for the record, there's nothing to be delinquent on. NATO sets defense spending targets for countries to follow. It's simply guideline. Nobody pays dues.

Yet, even today, the president seems not to follow that distinction.


TRUMP: NATO has been working very closely with the United States. Our relationship is very good. Together, we've increased and really raised a lot of money from countries that weren't paying or weren't paying a fair share. We have a little ways to go, but many billions of dollars of additional money has been raised.


COOPER: Well, it's not the only point of contention with our NATO allies, six of which will be at tomorrow's G7 economic summit. On the economic front, President Trump has scrapped trade agreements, slapped tariffs on France, Germany, even Canada. He equates trade deficits with corporate red ink, which is factually incorrect, and says that trade wars are easy to win.

You know, again, we should underscore, this is what he campaigned on certainly, and what he made a winning issue, Trump versus the world. Some, including France's finance minister, have been calling tomorrow's G7 Summit the G-6 plus one. And late today, President Macron of France tweeted, the American

president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be, because these six countries represent values. They represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it, and which is now a true international force. That is America's oldest ally speaking.

Here is President Trump's reply. Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and creating non-monetary barriers. The E.U. trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 billion dollars and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

Just moments ago, there was another tweet. "Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over many years and all sorts of other things, but he doesn't bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy, hurting our farmers, killing our agriculture."

The latest tweet tonight attacking his host tomorrow. Certainly a lot to talk about. Joining us right now, CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot, and former "Time" Magazine International Editor, Bobby Ghosh.

Bobby, I mean it's -- you have the President calling the Prime Minister of Canada indignant on the eve of the summit meeting tomorrow. It's certainly going to make what was already a tense meeting even more tense?

BOBBY GHOSH, FORMER INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes, he doesn't seem to find. It's clear that he has his eyes on the summit beyond tomorrow.

COOPER: That's the one he wants -- the North Korean one is the one he wants today?

GHOSH: That's the one he wants, that's the one that he thinks is going to have a big impact on his legacy. The thing that he -- there's been plenty of reporting that he think he didn't even want to go to Canada. He didn't want to do the stopover. There was some talk of sending Pence at one point. He's decided he wants to go, but he's thumbing his nose as everybody else who's going on there and he hasn't even arrived yet.

The economic arguments he's making make no sense. I mean, the President has demonstrated over and over again that when it comes to economics, he is illiterate. He's economically illiterate. He doesn't understand how economics works, which is surprising considering that he's a businessman. There are plenty of American farmers who say that these tariffs are going to hurt them. But that's the store he's set for himself and he's being consistent that he -- as you pointed out, it was a successful election issue, and an election coming up later this year.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Max, some of the reporting of your colleagues at "The Washington Post," I mean, the President is not looking forward to this summit. It probably, you know, had he chose to antagonize them, it might be less unpleasant.

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, that's right. I mean, this is a bizarre situation, where it's quite likely that the President of the United States is going to have a more cordial meeting with a vicious dictator of North Korea than he is with our democratic allies. I mean, my reaction to all of this, Anderson, is frankly, Vladimir Putin's investment has paid off, because Vladimir Putin helped to get Donald Trump elected President. And obviously, Trump has not delivered the kind of pro-Russia policy that Putin might have wanted, I think in large part, because of the scandal over Russian involvement in the campaign.

But he is now delivering exactly what Putin wants, which is this major transatlantic rift. We are dividing from our allies, more so than at any point in my lifetime. And that only helps Russia, that only helps China, that helps our enemies and our competitors. Donald Trump is doing serious damage to America's alliances. It may not be possible to repair that damage. Because who among our allies is ever going to trust America again after the United States has declared that our allies are national security threats and that we need to put tariffs on them?

COOPER: It is incredible, Bobby, to have the President of France saying, look, six countries can sign an agreement. We don't really need the U.S. They're not -- you know?

GHOSH: Collectively, the six countries, the size of their GDP is about, slightly smaller than the American GDP, but here's the interesting thing. Macron is now speaking to Trump in the language that Trump recognizes and in the medium that Trump recognizes. He's directing the conversation with Trump via Twitter. So Trump has dragged Macron off the diplomatic conversation and into the sand pit of social media, where Trump really knows how to play. And that's, you know, he's dragged Macron down to his level.

This is a conversation that ought to -- if it ought to happen at all, it should be happening behind closed doors. It should be happening with all kinds of diplomatic protocols. There are reasons for those protocols. The fact that the President of France, the President of the United States, are feuding over Twitter, just shows you how far down the Trump administration has dragged a global conversation.

COOPER: Max, what do you make of the President saying that for summit with this North Korea, that know he feels he's prepared, but that is not really about research, it's really about attitude?

BOOT: Well, I think it is about the attitude in Donald Trump's case. It's this boundless self-confidence verging on arrogance. I mean, he is full of pride. And let's remember, pride proceeds what? I mean, he -- it's a complete mystery to me why he has so much confidence in his own abilities. I mean, leave aside his corporate record, which was highly checkered. I mean, remember, six corporate bankruptcies. He is not the master businessman that he makes himself out to be.

But even if you just look at the realm of nuclear diplomacy, he has no background whatsoever in international relations, he's been President for 500 days.

[20:35:04] You know, any president, anyone who's been incredibly steeped in diplomatic minutia would be studying very, very hard for such a high-stakes summit with so much on the line. And Donald Trump thinks he can just blow it off, like he doesn't have to study for the test, he'll just come in and ace it without having done his homework. There is nothing in his record that gives any confidence that this gamble will pay off. And this is, in fact, very, very dangerous, raising the risk of either major American concessions that are unwarranted or a blow-up at the summit. Either way, this is a very volatile and risky situation.

COOPER: Max Boot, Bobby Ghosh, thanks very much.

A quick programming note, you saw a portion of Van Jones' exclusive conversation with Kim Kardashian West at the top of the broadcast. You can see much more later tonight on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon, that's 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here.

Up next on "360," another Republican is debunking the conspiracy theory spread by the President and his allies, the Spygate theory. We'll tell you who that is and who's talking. And we'll also talk to the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, when we continue.


COOPER: South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is joining the ranks of some fellow Republicans who are saying there's no there there when it comes to the President's accusations of FBI spies inside the Trump campaign. Graham tells CNN's Manu Raju that he has seen, "no indication," that a confidential source placed in the campaign by the FBI was a so-called spy.

Joining me now to discuss this and other issues linked to the Russia investigation, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.

Congressman Schiff, so Chairman Nunes was obviously a driving force behind this conspiracy theory. The FBI was spying and infiltrating the Trump campaign. Now that you have several prominent Republicans, along with many Democrats coming out saying it was all made up, does Nunes need to correct the record?

ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, of course, he should, but that's not the purpose behind all of this for the chairman. The purpose is to do everything possible to support the President's legal defense team. Giuliani has acknowledged as much. Their expectation is whatever is turned over to the Republicans on our committee or judiciary will be provided to the defense team.

Now, that's completely improper and inappropriate. It would explain, though, why Emmett Flood, one of the President's other lawyers was at the last justice department and Congress congressional meeting.

[20:40:00] But these are materials that ordinarily wouldn't be provided to Congress. They involve a pending investigation. They involve potential risk to sources and methods. The only reason this is being done is that the Congress is battering the Justice Department and normally, when you could expect the administration, the President to back up the department, they're undercutting and undermining the department, but you would think with all of these Republicans now saying this is bogus, even the one that brought us the endless Benghazi conspiracies is saying this is a conspiracy too far for him, that we could call an end to this abuse of the congressional "oversight process."

COOPER: But it seems like, you know, we've heard this record before. I mean, something -- the President raises a conspiracy theory, some outlandish idea that there's no evidence of, his backers in Congress Trumpet it on Fox and elsewhere. And then, it just kind of, you know, when the evidence is revealed, that actually there wasn't anything, there was like the whole idea of a secret society, nobody really ever seems to, you know, claim -- you know, admit responsibility for it, apologize, or say they were wrong. And then just kind of wait a week or so and some new outrage is mentioned.

SCHIFF: Well, that's absolutely right. And I mean, let's look back historically. First, the President was saying that he was spied on at Trump Tower, which was nonsense. And the heads of our own intelligence agencies had to say publicly what the President is saying is nonsense. And then you had the whole claim of an unmasking and a conspiracy and then you had the claims of FISA abuse. None of that has born out. But of course, the President and his allies have never said, up until now, that these claims were bogus.

The only change now is that there are a few Republicans speaking out. And I can only surmise that what they're seeing is what we are seeing also. And that is, when you ask voters now, do you want someone who is simply going to be a rubber stamp for the President or do you want an effective Congress that's a system of checks and balances, people are increasingly saying, we need checks and balances. This President is acting like he wants to be a king.

COOPER: Today, Paul Ryan publicly said, "There's no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia." Obviously, no one knows the answer to that question yet, until Special Counsel Mueller releases his report. No one can credibly claim there was or there wasn't collusion. What do you think Speaker Ryan is doing here?

SCHIFF: Well, Speaker Ryan, ever since he said, you know, the obvious a couple of days ago, that he also had seen November evidence of embedded political spies, has been taking a hard set of attacks from the right-wing blogasphere. And I think he is responding to that by trying to paddle on the other side of the canoe and saying, OK, I said there's no spies, but I'm also going to throw the President a bone and say there's no collusion.

The reality is, there's plenty of evidence of collusion in plain sight. And if you ask Speaker Ryan what he would think if you told him that there was a secret meeting at the Clinton headquarters where a Russian delegation promised dirt on Donald Trump as part of a Russian government effort to help Hillary Clinton and the Clintons lied about this meeting with Chelsea Clinton and the campaign manager Robby Mook for the Clinton campaign, if you basically present this in mirror image, they would, of course, belief that was collusion. And they would be right.

Now, whether it's actionable, whether assist criminal conspiracy, Bob Mueller will have to decide. But there's plenty of evidence. So for the speaker to say that, I think you really have to ignore what's right in front of us.

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

SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: President Trump took to Twitter this morning to applaud Professor Alan Dershowitz for saying the upcoming inspector general's reporting to possible missteps in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation proves a special counsel for the Russia investigation was never needed in the first place. Just ahead, I'll talk with both the professor and his former student, CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.


[20:48:02] COOPER: It seems President Trump watched a certain law professor saying the upcoming inspector general's report on possible FBI mistakes in the Clinton e-mail investigation proved there was no need for Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

The President tweeted, "Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor, it all proves we never needed a special counsel. All of this could have been done by the Justice Department. Don't need a multi-million dollar group of people with a target on someone's back. Not the way justice should operate. So true!"

With us to discuss it is Professor Dershowitz, the author of the upcoming book, "The Case Against Impeaching Trump," and also once again CNN's Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Professor Dershowitz, the fact that the inspector general report is expected to fault Comey and lynch McCabe, how does that prove that a Special Counsel isn't necessary?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think the Justice Department is fully capable of doing investigations. The I.G. can do some of them. The southern district can do some. The District of Columbia can do some. You really should have to show an extraordinary need to go outside the usual channels of the Justice Department to justify bringing somebody in and giving that person a special task.

COOPER: Even if it's a case as allegedly complex as the potential for collusion or coordination between a campaign and a foreign entity?

DERSHOWITZ: I can tell you, the southern district has handled many, many more complex cases than that. I mean, there are so many complex cases. International cases, you know, it really is an insult to the existing civil servants in the Justice Department to suggest that they can't do the job well, especially when you have an I.G. looking over them. The President couldn't complain. He would, to be sure, he complained about anything. But you have less of a basis for complaining if it was a routine investigation, done by the southern district and other districts.

COOPER: Jeff, what about that? Why --

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's, frankly, an absurd suggestion. It's not about complexity, it's about conflict of interest. This is an investigation of the President of the United States. To have that investigation run by a direct subordinate of the President of the United States is self evidently a bad idea.

[20:50:08] We have had independent counsels, special counsels, special prosecutors, whatever you want to call them, frequently since at least the 1970s. And by and large the system has worked well. You know? President Trump doesn't like it. Too bad. He doesn't get to pick who investigates him. That's the whole point of having a special counsel.

DERSHOWITZ: But the subordinate are there anyway. This is under the direction of the deputy attorney general of the United States, and would have been under the direction of the attorney general of the United States. Sure, there's one layer removed and a little bit more independence. But the southern district of New York is independent of the President. The career people, my former student, your former friends and colleagues, they can do that job.

COOPER: You tweeted back the President today saying that if he does play the special counsel that he should withdraw his request for special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. He hasn't tweeted back. Do you think he will?

DERSHOWITZ: No. He tweets about the --

COOPER: Double standard of his?

DERSHOWITZ: I think. He tweets about me from time to time. And today he'd tweeted saying, see, Dershowitz is right, special counsel wasn't needed. Well, so I said be consistent. Apply a neutral standard. Stop demanding special counsel for Hillary Clinton.

You also said it's unconstitutional. By the way, that's an area where Jeffrey and I agree. It is not unconstitutional. It is not absurd to agree. It is just -- it's not a good argument. In the end, it's not a compelling argument. But if it's unconstitutional as to him, how isn't constitutional as to her?

COOPER: Jeff, I want to ask you about another tweet the President said. He said, "Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a 'plea deal' to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!"

The President's basically calling for political investigation of adversaries or prosecution --

TOOBIN: We have seen so many tweets and so many outrageous things the President have said that I think we sometimes become inure to just how awful some of the things he said was. Here you have relatively obscure people, Debbie Wasserman Schultz' assistant he -- the President of the United States is calling for him to be investigated. Presidents and leaders call for investigations and investigate their political enemies in authoritarian countries. Not the United States.

DERSHOWITZ: And also in the Kennedy administration. You know, we're honoring a great memory of Robert Kennedy now. He was a friend of mine, I worked in his campaign. But when he became attorney general, the President and he got together and said, we have to prosecute Roy Cohen. They targeted a number of people who are political enemies of the Kennedy.

COOPER: So it that appropriate?

TOOBIN: Does that make it right?

DERSHOWITZ: No, no. I'm just saying constitutionally when Jefferson went after Aaron Burr and called people into his office and said I will give you a pardon, if you tell me now what you're going to say against the SOB. Aaron Burr, I'm saying historically constitutionally it's been permissible. It's wrong. It should end.

TOOBIN: It's wonderful to go back to the room where it happened but you know this is today and we have standards that are in place today.

DERSHOWITZ: Not criminal standards.

TOOBIN: I didn't say it was a crime.


TOOBIN: I just said it was outrageous that the President of the United States is calling for the investigation of some nobody.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with you.

TOOBIN: I mean, that is just outrageous and the fact that what Thomas Jefferson did to Aaron Burr I don't think is terribly relevant.

DERSHOWITZ: That's important to make as we shouldn't conflate outrageous with criminal or impeachable. And you can say it's outrageous. When you say that, you tend to get me on your side. I don't like the President going after his political enemies. But it easily slides into criminalization of political differences and that's where I draw the line.

COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, Jeff Toobin, thank you.

In the room where it happened, Hamilton reference. I'll check in with Chris Cuomo to find out what he is going to be working on tonight on "Cuomo Prime Time" starting with few minutes. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "COUMO PRIME TIME: Now it's in my head, Anderson. Room where it happened, room where it happened.

All right, this is what we are doing tonight, OK. Once again showing why I never graduated to a pen in grammar school always the pencil. We're going to break out the white board. We got Bernie Sanders here tonight, all right. And we're going to take a deep dive and it's something I don't think anybody's discussed this. Let alone try to simplify. Single payer health care. Why would I do something like that? Because it seems to be a big ticket item for Democrats, Anderson. And if this is going to be something they want to sell, then Bernie Sanders, a one of their big shot, better be able to do it for our audience tonight.

COOPER: Look forward to that, Chris. That's about six minutes from now. Again "Cuomo Prime Time" starts at 9:00. Don't want to miss it.

When we come back, is a weekend host on Fox headed for the Trump administration? Politico is reporting that Jeanine Pirro wants an extremely high profile job. We'll tell you what job it is next.


[20:58:38] COOPER: Last night on the broadcast, former Fox News Military Analyst Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters told me how deeply he felt Fox News had become embedded and deeply intertwined with the Trump administration. Here's some of what he said.


RALPH PETERS, FORMER FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST RETIRED LIEUTENANT COLONEL: With the rise of Donald Trump, FOX did become a destructive propaganda machine and I don't do propaganda for anyone. And frankly, you know, as a former military officer, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I saw in my view, FOX, particularly the prime time hosts, attacking our constitutional order, the rule of law, the Justice Department, the FBI, Robert Mueller, and oh by the way, the intelligence agencies.

And they are doing it for ratings and profit. And they're doing it knowingly, in my view, doing a great grave disservice to our country.


COOPER: Well, I don't suppose the obvious needs more elaboration but two find a point on things, POLITICO is now reporting tonight that a high profile Fox News host wants to be President Trump's attorney general. POLITICO says that former prosecutor and judge, Jeanine Pirro has "repeatedly" told the President's aides that she wants to take over the job and the report continues that President Trump has dangled the possibility of a top appointment. Not sure which one.

POLITICO says it got no comment from either the White House or Jeanine Pirro.

That's it for us. Thanks very much for watching. Time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo. "Cuomo Prime Time" starts now. Chris?