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Did Too Little Loyalty to President Doom GOP Lawmaker?; Interview with Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina; President Trump: North Korea "No Longer a Nuclear Threat"; Trump's Legal Team Plots Next Move; Source: Cohen Would Not Be Shocked If He's Indicted. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired June 13, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with new evidence that the Republican Party is now the party of Donald Trump. In a moment, we'll speak to Republican South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford who lost his primary battle last night after President Trump encouraged voters to go to the polls for his Republican opponent. Until last night GOP primary, Congressman Sanford had never lost an election and as a rule, incumbents usually do not lose primaries. But last night, Mark Sanford did.

As a rule sitting presidents, do not endorse the primary opponent of an incumbent even when that incumbent has disagreed with him on statements. Yesterday afternoon, this president did just that on Twitter, of course, saying: Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to make America great again. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He's better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in South Carolina, a state I love. She's tough on crime and will continue her fight to lower taxes. Vote Katie.

And people did in South Carolina, enough to give her the nomination and Congressman Sanford has no apologies.


REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It may have cost me an election in this case, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president.


COOPER: Well, Congressman Sanford is not alone and criticizing the president and paying a price for it, nor is he the only incumbent. He's not even the only incumbent this month.

Last week, Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby was forced into a runoff. She too has spoken out against the president, most notably after the "Access Hollywood" tape was released. Other Republicans have chosen to leave Congress rather than face tough primaries and it's hard to overstate this, incumbent, well-known, frequently influential house members and senators almost never just bow out like this, especially when their own party is in power. These days however, they do.

Congressman Charlie Dent did. He also joins us shortly.

Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are leaving. Senator Corker chairs the exceedingly powerful Foreign Relations Committee, yet he is giving it up but not without a parting shot.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We're in a strange place. I mean, it's almost, you know, been -- it's becoming a cultish thing, isn't it? It's not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of -- purportedly of the of the same party.


O'DONNELL: A cult-like situation, he calls it, purportedly of the same party, he said.

Senator Flake was even blunter. Quote: If you want to win a Republican primary, he said, you can't deviate much from the script. It's the president's script. So, if that script leaves no room for long time staunch conservatives like Jeff Flake, question is, who does it favor?

Well, for one, candidates like the Republican primary winner last night in Virginia, Corey Stewart, whose victory was praised by the president. The president tweeted out: Congratulations to Corey Stewart, he said, for his great victory for senator from Virginia. Now, he runs against a total stiff Tim Kaine, who was weak on crime and borders and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don't underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning.

Win or lose, Corey Stewart is not a Corker or a Flake Republicans certainly, not by a long shot. On the neo-Nazi white supremacist protests in Charlottesville that left a woman dead, Stewart told a Washington radio station, quote, people condemned all those far-right agitators, but no one seem to condemn the left-wing. Clearly, half of that violence was committed by left wingers.

The head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee was cool when asked about endorsing Corey Stewart, saying his focus is on other states. But given the president's support, you have to wonder if that may change. It is certainly being viewed as a sign of the times by some Republicans. Virginia's former lieutenant governor for one, Bill Bolling, a Republican who says: This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served.

Joining us now is South Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Sanford.

Congressman, thanks very much for being with us.

Do you think that President Trump weighing in as he did cost you your seat in Congress? SANFORD: Well, I think not necessarily the tweet at the end, but the larger playing field, if you will, that the race devolved down to. And that was, are you for Trump or you against Trump?

And my message was a message of much more gray, which is to say, I support Trump on many ideas that are consistent with the conservative ideals that have held for a long time or the views of the folks that I represent, and I oppose on the ones that I don't. I think that that kind of approach, that nuanced approach, if you will, there was an awfully difficult message it approved last night to convey and in this particular primary.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, your opponent certainly ran with a full-throated support for the president.

I just want to play for our viewers an ad that Katie Arrington ran during the campaign and then talk about it. We'll go back right. Let's just listen.


KATIE ARRINGTON (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm a conservative businesswoman and I'm running for Congress to get things done, not to go on CNN to bash President Trump, cut spending, strengthen our military and get rid of the career politicians.

[20:05:07] Bless his heart, but it's time for Mark Sanford to take a hike, for real this time.


COOPER: I mean, your voting record actually was overwhelming in support of the president's agenda. But what the president seems to have been annoyed by is that you dared criticize him publicly in some of the things he said and did. Do you think any Republican today can remain in office if they speak up in the way that you did that it's critical the president from time to time?

SANFORD: I think it's important we do so. I mean, the Founding Fathers were so in that's creating three branches of government -- executive, judicial, legislative branch, each of which were to be a check upon the other. They didn't want to have a king.

And so, I think it's important that we have vigorous dissent. I went to business school and would throw an idea out in the middle of the table, would debate it back and forth and hopefully the truth fell out at the bottom. You know, it is OK to disagree. I love my brothers and sister it doesn't mean I agree with them all the time.

And what's interesting is, my voting record has been 89 percent with the president, and therefore to send a tweet saying not supportive, A, not true, but, B, goes to this larger tester of do we want to have a litmus test or do we want to have folks that agree with us 80, 90 percent of time and say you're on the team? That's a distinction I've never seen before within the Republican Party of which I'm a part. COOPER: So, when you -- I mean you clearly, you know, when you were out on the campaign trail and you would try to get that message across to voters in South Carolina, I'm assuming they just -- not enough of them really saw the difference or wanted to hear the difference?

SANFORD: Yes. I mean, again, it was a tight win/loss, of about 3,000-vote margin. But the bigger point is, in the case of my opponent, did raise taxes very substantially and yet that didn't matter, and I have, as you well know, a very conservative voting record, some would like it, some wouldn't, but conservatives in the Republican primary generally would, and that didn't matter.


SANFORD: What mattered was, are you for or against the president? And again, when you'd attempt this answer of, well, I'm neither for him nor against him, and for him in the instances where he's consistent with conservative ideology and the promises I made when I ran for office and the vote use of my voters, and then I'll be occasionally against him when he's not. That was a message that didn't sell in a Republican primary and that's the bigger thing that I think we've all got a question whether in a Republican or Democratic primary based on the institutions of the American system.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, former Speaker John Boehner recently said there's no Republican Party, there's a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere, that's according to Boehner.

I mean, you were governor South Carolina. As you said, you've got in a very conservative record. At one point, you're a presidential hopeful for the Republican Party. Is Boehner right or -- I mean, has the Republican Party left you and others behind for President Trump? What is -- where is the Republican Party?

SANFORD: Time will tell. I mean, that was the statement of my opponent last night. This is the party of Donald J. Trump and I could not more vigorously disagree.

It's the party of the people who've worked to bring it about over years. They're a lot of working folks in every state in this country that have put up yard signs and they've licked envelopes and done all the things that you do in the world of politics to advance the ideas that you believe in. And that's who the party belongs to.

And this notion of it belonging to anybody at the top is an inverted pyramid based on, again, the design of the Founding Fathers where in a few powers were to be reserved at the top, but everything else at the state and local level, and again particularly the Republicans who have espoused that notion of federalism for a long time. So, we're just in a very weird place that I've never seen before and in the case of last night, it cost me elections.

COOPER: So, is the Republican Party now the party of Trump?

SANDERS: Again, that's what many are saying. That's what my opponent was saying last night. It will be -- COOPER: But you don't buy that?

SANDERS: It's not something I buy into and it's not something many of the people that vote, again, roughly a 50/50 vote last night. Many of the people in the first district of South Carolina disagree with.

Again, they can agree with the frustration with Washington that led to the Trump phenomenon, but the idea of simply taking a sort of a hostile takeover the party and saying it's my party now is it odds with many of the core beliefs of some of the people who've worked hardest to build it over the years, whether in the coast of South Carolina or elsewhere in this country.

COOPER: Do you worry -- I mean, obviously the president's very popular among Republicans. Do you worry though about this becoming -- the Republican Party becoming the party of Donald Trump in many Republicans estimation? Do you worry about where that leaves the Republican Party down the road?

SANFORD: Yes, I do, because not only do we have questions of the institution that our Founding Fathers left with us, designed to foster vigorous debate amongst the inner party rivals of legislative and executive or judicial branches, but there's also a big question to your point of party, which is, are we the party of less spending?

[20:10:04] You know, not just lower taxes but less spending? You know, are we the party of engagement with the rest of the world? Are we the party of open trade? Are we going to pull away?

You mentioned this last night, not pulling away is particularly important given the fact that we're about 5 percent of the world, 95 percent of what happens happens elsewhere in the world and to pull away -- I mean, so there's just some big litmus test out there that we seem to be failing as a party and I think we're going to have a real debate on what we're indeed about.

Are we the party of Donald J. Trump or are we the party of the ideals of conservative philosophy, market principle, limited government that we've always been about for a long time?

COOPER: You use the term "hostile takeover". Do you see this as a hostile takeover?

SANFORD: I wouldn't say it's hostile. It's -- again, all's fair in love and war, I guess, in politics, too. So, it is what it is. It's certainly as with any presidency, the president is the titular head of the party. What I would say though is it is never in my lifetime been so tied to an individual personality and a litmus test of, are you completely compliant and are -- you know, are you on board with me as a person as opposed to are you on board with the ideals that this party is based on?

I've never seen that particular wrinkle as I'm seeing it now.

COOPER: Congressman Sanford, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. SANFORD: My pleasure.

COOPER: Joining us now, former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. He left in May.

Also with us, CNN political director David Chalian, to help talk about why President Trump wheels the clout he does especially during primary season.

Congressman Dent, you said earlier today, you do not think it's a culture thing which is what a Bob Corker had kind of referenced with this president or the Republican Party. Can you just explain why you disagree, I guess with Corker on that, you don't think it rises to that level or if you -- do you think is headed in that direction?

CHARLIE DENT, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: Well, I didn't like the hyperbolic nature of that statement, but I do agree with the general notion that there is a litmus test in the Republican Party now and it is loyalty to the man, loyalty to the president.

I've been saying this for months -- prior to Donald Trump, Anderson, we should remember that we often have these purity tests within the Republican Party and we had these self-designated chiefs to the purity police who would judge you. And if you weren't sufficiently pure, they would call you a RINO or a squish. People like me were often called that because we weren't sufficiently doctrinaire.

Well, here comes Donald Trump who's largely transactional, who's nothing -- pretty non-ideological and now, these are these people are flummoxed, these purity police, these purity cops.

But the issue right now is its loyalty to the president. So, if you disagree with him or if you criticize him, you're seen as somewhat of a traitor or treasonous. By the same token on the left, now I see Democrats complain too. I mean, they have -- they have to be total resistance or they're not sufficiently pure.

So, there's a political realignment occurring in this country in my estimation. I believe the political center feels deeply underrepresented. You know, the bases are well-represented in Congress, but the center is not, and there are a lot of people who are very concerned about where this is all going. And, you know, we'll see.

These strategies too by the way, I got to tell, you know, running you know as close as you can to President Trump in a primary may be successful in a deep breath district in South Carolina or Alabama, but good luck with that message in a general election in eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey, where the House Majority is resting.

Come November, you know, we might be having a very different conversation if the House flips to the Democrats.

COOPER: David, the Republican Party was obviously initially hesitant to embrace then candidate Trump because all the controversy he brings and also a lot of his positions, there's always been the question of whether he could ever go too far and they abandon him. Does that line still exist or is this now firmly the party of Trump in your opinion?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He's the party of Trump there's no doubt and you're right, the establishment of the Republican Party, members of Congress, we're reluctant at the outset to get on board. But voters pretty quickly, Republican primary voters, got on board with Donald Trump shortly after he got into the presidential race, Anderson.

And your point about sort of the line -- I mean, I've been on the show with you and we have talked about sort of, is this latest tweet from the president or this latest action going to be the thing that breaks the dam of the Republican support on Capitol Hill? And I think Mark Sanford's lost last night is all the evidence we need to answer that question, which is, no, there's nothing that's going to break that damn. He is immensely popular with the Republican Party. There's no doubt about that.

And the reason why Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would rather take their grievances whichever they may have and work behind the scenes with the White House on that to try to bring the president back on course is because their own members don't want to take on the president directly because their jobs are at stake over that. That presents to them a real imminent political danger and Mark Sanford felt that last night.

COOPER: Congressman, what do you say to Republican voters who out there who are listening this and say, well, look why shouldn't Republicans support the president?

[20:15:03] I mean, why shouldn't they be -- you know, backing the president in full force, he's got an agenda which is certainly more in line with Republican beliefs than any Democrat who's going to come along, and wouldn't do Democrats want Democrats to support the Democratic president if there was a Democrat in office?

DENT: Well, what I would say to them is, sure, we should support the Republican -- we should support the president when we agree with him. But when we disagree with him, it's OK to check him from time to time, and if he goes off the rails. It's all right to call him out.

You know, what just happened at the G-7 and, you know, these attacks on the Canadian prime minister -- I mean, for many of us as Republicans, you know, we believe strongly in the Western alliance. We support our brothers and sisters our family members in Canada.

I mean, we just think this is -- this is just out of line. How can we speak this way as a Republican? We criticized Barack Obama for placating our enemies too often while dissing our friends say in the Czech Republic or Poland over missile defense, people forget that.

And now, President Trump is fighting with the Canadians, you know, the Germans, you know, he's fighting with a lot of our friends and it's just and, you know, of course being conciliatory towards Putin and other autocrats throughout the world. So, the bottom line is, you should think about one other thing too. We're all talking about the Stanford race last night, but what happened in Wisconsin, a special election for the state Senate and the Republican lost that seat that President Trump carried I think by over 20 points.

I mean, that's what I'm looking at. I'm looking at the fall. I mean, these fights in deep red districts, these are really -- that's a luxury for a lot of folks. But if you want to keep the majority, you've got to be able to fight in districts like the one I represented and many others what I would call across the Big 10 conference, that's where this majority is going to be won or lost, and you just simply can't run by putting the bear hug on the president.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Dent, appreciate your time. Thanks. David Chalian as well.

Up next tonight, breaking news. President Trump agreeing that Kim Jong-un has done some bad things, but adds, quote, a lot of other people have done some really bad things as well, talking about human rights.

Also tonight, Michael Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, split with his own legal. We'll take a look at what that may mean in terms of weather or not he's going to cooperate with prosecutors.


[20:20:44] COOPER: Breaking news, President Trump talking about his meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Here's what he told Fox News tonight when the dictator's track record on human rights abuses came up.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: But he's still done some really bad things.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.


COOPER: Well, some have said that that echoes his post- Charlottesville comments when he said that there were good people on both sides. That interview took place on Air Force One after the president left the Singapore summit. No question, a historic meeting, the first face-to-face session between a sitting president and the leader of North Korea. But as we noted last night, the real work begins now.

And today, we got a sense of how sticky some of this might be. First off, the joint statement issued by both sides contain no specifics about nuclear inspections, did contain an old refrain from the North Koreans that Kim Jong-un has a firm commitment to quote complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and some slightly different language the statement also says North Korea commits to, quote, work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

That and the overall lack of detail left Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with some explaining to do when he landed in South Korea, namely, how is the world but a know or verify Kim Jong-un is keeping his word to denuclearize.

In an off-camera exchange with reporters, Pompeo said and I quote, a lot has been made over the fact that the word "verifiable" didn't appear in the agreement. He said though, it was in the, quote, minds of everyone concerned.

That led to this testy exchange with reporter about precise language and I just want to go through a chunk of it line by line because it's pretty remarkable.

The reporter begins by asking, quote: I wanted to ask you about verifiable and irreversible. You said the day before, you said it's our only objective. It's clear. We want that. It's not in the statement. Why it's not in the statement? And the president said it will --

Pompeo replies, hmm, it's in the statement, it's in the statement. You're just wrong about that.

The reporter said: how is it in the statement? And I am also --

Pompeo: You're just -- complete encompasses verifiable and irreversible. It just -- I suppose -- you could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it's in the document.

The reporter then says: And the president says it will be verified.

And then talk over each other with Pompeo then saying and I quote: just so you know, you could ask me this. I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly insulting. I just have to be honest with you. It's a game and one ought not to play games with serious matters like this.

I think it's fair to say no one doubts these are serious matters, but to be clear, the words verifiable and irreversible are not in the joint statement. They just aren't.

Asked about that at the Fox News interview, the president said he's, quote, totally confident the United States will obtain that and if not, again quoting, we can't have a deal.

All this is important because it's illustrative of the fine point that's going to have to be hammered out for both sides to get what they want. It's the hard work that's going to take a while and then possibly the understatement of the evening, you wouldn't know that by reading the president on Twitter.

Quote: Just landed a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office, the president tweeted. There is no longer nuclear threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong-un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future.

And moments later said: Before taking office, people were assuming we were going to war with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem, no longer. Sleep well tonight.

So, in two tweets, it's basically the work is done. You're welcome.

I'm joined now by Max Boot and Sue Mi Terry, with a lot to unpack.

Max, what's your reaction to, first of all, the president's comments on Kim Jong-un on human rights abuses, essentially saying, look, there's a lot of other bad places? He later went on to say, you know, yes, certainly, but he's really focused now on, you know, now and moving forward?

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it reminded me, Anderson, of the comments he has made repeatedly about Russia. When he's been asked about human rights violations by Vladimir Putin, he said, well, you know, we kill a lot of people too.

I mean, this is the kind of moral relativism that Republicans and conservatives once criticized when they when they in the days of the Cold War, when liberals were not tough enough on the Soviet Union, their human rights abuses, Republicans are very critical of that.

But Donald Trump is the ultimate moral relativist. He really does not care about the misbehavior of other countries. He's happy to give them a pass and, in fact, by every indication, he gets along better with dictators than he does with the leaders of our democratic allies.

[20:25:07] COOPER: We got to take a quick break. I'm going to come back. We're going to have more with Max and Dr. Terry also. I got to take a quick break.

Coming up, more on North Korea, verification and obviously the devil being at all in the details, ahead.


COOPER: We're talking about the president's latest remarks on North Korea and human rights, along with everything else surrounding his meeting with Kim Jong-un. He's been taking a victory lap today, saying there's no longer a nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

Back with Max Boot and Sue Mi Terry.

Dr. Terry, the president did say that Kim Jong-un has done some terrible things when asked about this by Bret Baier, but he also said that Kim's a tough guy and a lot of other people have done really bad things.

Do you see this as you know as Max was referencing, a moral equivalence, which used to be, you know, very criticized by Republicans?

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL FOR PRESIDENT G.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely. I mean, North Korea is the greatest human rights violator on the planet. United Nations Commission of Inquiry came out with a 400-page report talking about how there's no parallel in contemporary history in terms of human rights violations. This is a country that keeps gulags with 200,000 people in them.

This is -- it's the fact that President Trump did not even bring up, there's no evidence that he even brought up human rights issues during his conversation with Kim Jong-un, I think it's a travesty.

COOPER: Max, for the president to say that there's no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea after just getting back from the summit, I mean, he didn't say that in the Bret Baier interview, but he did then, which was done on Wednesday, early on when he left Singapore -- I'm sorry, I guess on Tuesday, I mean, it's a little early to be declaring that, isn't it?

BOOT: It's crazy, Anderson. I mean, the nuclear threat from North Korea is completely unchanged from the day before the summit. North Korea has not given up a single warhead, they have not given up a single missile. But Trump -- this is kind of part of Trump's MO. He's figured out, he doesn't actually have to achieve policy victories, he can just claim credit for policy victories, and a lot of his followers will believe him. I mean, not -- you mean, he's been claiming that he's already building the wall, border wall of Mexico which is not true. Just last week he was claiming that Iran had already radically changed its behavior, after he pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Accord, that's not true.

And now he's claiming that he is already ended the North Korea nuclear threat which is also not true. But if you turn to the other network to Fox News, you know, kind of the state propaganda's like, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, they are echoing what Trump were saying word for word. Now, I bet by next week, Republican voters will believe that the North Korea nuclear threat is over.

COOPER: Dr. Terry, obviously look, things haven't worked in the past where the President tried, you know, it has, it certainly never been done before may end up having results. But in terms of the joint statements that was put out by both leaders, you were certainly underwhelmed by what was actually in that joint statement compared to even past agreements that has ended up being broken by North Korea.

TERRY: Anderson, I have very low expectations to be honest with you, but I was really floored by the statement when I actually read it. I was in (INAUDIBLE) and the one sentence point number three where North Korea commits to working towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I mean this is all familiar language, going back to 1992 joint North Korea, South Korea statement. And we honestly got more out of North Korea in the past, in the 2005, '06 party joint statement. North Korea committed to abandoning all of their nuclear weapon program. So, defected President Jong (ph) even couldn't get -- even that language, out of North Korea this time around. I think this was -- you know, for the greatest negotiator on the planet, this was really, I was very underwhelmed. I think that's an under statement to say as well.

COOPER: Max, I mean that language working towards denuclearization, I'm not sure what that actually means.

BOOT: It doesn't mean anything, Anderson, I mean as I've said before, I mean I'm working towards beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon, that doesn't mean I'm going to achieve it. It's a meaningless goal. And let's keep in mind, that in return for basically getting nothing from North Korea, President Trump made significant concessions including stopping the U.S./South Korea military exercises, which he refer to as provocative war games, echoing the propaganda language of Pongyang.

I mean this is going to under mine the U.S./South Korea alliance. Especially, because he didn't bother to tell the South Koreans before he did this. And by the way, his tweet today in which he is saying that the North Korea nuclear threat no longer exists that's going to undermine sanctions, because why would countries want to stop doing business with North Korea, if North Korea no longer poses a threat. And that's what the President of the United States are saying. So, you know, this is a hugely one-sided outcome in which North Korea is getting everything it wanted and the United States is getting pretty much nothing.

COOPER: Dr. Terry, do you think this has legitimized the North Korean regime in the way, you know, Kim Jong-un's father and grandfather never were -- never was -- you know, able to achieve?

TERRY: Absolutely. I mean Kim Jong-un was able to achieve something that his father and grandfather had sought. But they couldn't achieve. He got to sit down with the most powerful man in the world where we see U.S. President, gave him prestige, gave him international standing, gave him legitimacy, and in return what do we get, we got North Korea working towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And Max just pointed out, and in return it's not agreement (ph) give anything.

You know, he shouldn't have given legitimacy. We've been talked about stopping exercises. And again as Max said, and using North Korea's own rhetoric, calling it provocative, calling it war games instead of saying these are defensive in nature and these are training that we're doing because of the North Korea threat. So here North Korea got everything, I think and we didn't get anything in return.

COOPER: Dr. Terry, I appreciate your time. Max Boot as well.

Coming up, the latest on President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen in the news that he is dumping his current legal team. We hear a lot of questions of course, whether that means he may start cooperating with prosecutors, that and the breaking news on the President standoff with Robert Mueller in a moment.


[20:37:18] COOPER: There is breaking news tonight on President Trump legal sparring with Robert Mueller. And news on Michael Cohen as well. According to a source familiar with his thinking, Michael Cohen preparing to be indicted. He's ditching his legal team and spend the day meeting with possible replacements. The question being, is it with an eye toward flipping. These are not the lawyers in question by the way, just some -- some friends of his who he was smoking cigars with while his lawyers were in court. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger joins us now with the breaking news and latest as well on Michael Cohen. So first of all Gloria, the President's mindset seems to have already shifted back toward the Mueller investigation. What do you learn?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my colleague Dana Bash and I are reporting that as the President was winding his way back from Singapore, he made calls to his attorneys to find out what was going on in terms of the negotiations with Bob Mueller. We've learned that his attorneys are here in Washington right now, they intent to meet with the President at some point this week. And they expect to meet with the special counsel's team shortly after that. And the big question on the table, Anderson, of course, is will the President be subpoenaed or will the legal team and Mueller's team be able to find a way to hone the questions down for the President so they can cut some kind of a deal about the President being interviewed.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani is obviously been the most probably --

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: -- visible member of the President's legal team. Is it clear what he is advising at this point in terms of seating down with Mueller?

BORGER: You know, it really isn't, because he's kind of gone back and forth. I mean we've heard Giuliani in the past say that the President is being framed and that he might not advise him to testify because as he put it, recollections keep changing. But he spoke with Dana Bash and he said to her that our job is to figure out a way that he can testify. I mean don't forget, most of the lawyers on the President side believes that or very skeptical about him testifying. They believe it wouldn't be a great idea. But they do have a client who has expressed interest in testifying.

So they're trying to figure out how to get around that or how to come up with some kind of a negotiated deal.

COOPER: Also the news today on the Michael Cohen front is pretty stunning that he is changing his own legal team. Do we know --

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: -- exactly why and what it may mean?

BORGER: Well, he's changing his legal team for a couple of reasons. One, is we're told that he wants to switch to an attorney or maybe more than one attorney who is familiar with the southern district of New York where he potentially faces criminal indictment. Money is also an issue. He's had a large team of lawyers from an expensive law firm dealing with, you know, this document production. And that's costs him a lot of money.

[20:40:07] So, he may want to pair that down. I mean I think the question that's out there and that we don't know the answer to Anderson, is whether this means that there is also going to be a shift in strategy. We don't know that if Michael Cohen is preparing to flip or to cooperate with prosecutors. But you have to think that that is, you know, something that could potentially happen, given the fact that he facing potential indictment. And that, you know, he's got to be thinking about that. But at this point, we are told that he has not met with prosecutors and the prosecutors have not indicated an interest in having him flip.

So, we have to wait and see how this plays out once he gets his new lawyer or lawyers in place.

COOPER: All right, Gloria, appreciate it. Thanks.


COOPER: Coming up next, we're going to speak our own counsel, Alan Dershowitz and Jeff Toobin, joining us to talk about the latest with Michael Cohen. We'll be right back.


[20:45:11] COOPER: Our Gloria Borger delivered the breaking news in our last segment, on Michael Cohen search for new attorneys and the President getting back to dealing with the Russia probe as well as Robert Mueller. I'm here to talk about it is Harvard Law School's Alan Dershowitz, he is author of "The Case Against Impeaching Trump", also his pupil, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us well.

Professor Dershowitz, I wonder what do you make of Michael Cohen looking for a new legal team. You know, there's various reports it could be about money, about wanting lawyers who more familiar with the southern district, or some sort of changing strategy.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I see them all working together. If you are worried about paying too much in legal fees, it's much cheaper to cooperate than to litigate. If you want a lawyer who is closer and more familiar with the southern district, that's also a likelihood that you want somebody who is admired and respected in the southern district who can make a deal with you, otherwise you just -- if your going to litigate in the southern district, you just add a lawyer to the team.

I think the real problem is that he can't cooperate as much as he'd like to because he can't disclose anything that's lawyer/client privilege. He can disclose things that are outside of lawyer/client privilege. But maybe within the fraud exceptions or the lawyer/client privilege. But he can't just walk in and say let me tell you everything I know about my former client Donald Trump. The U.S. attorney's office would not ethically be able to accept that kind of information. But I think this looks to me like its moving into direction of cooperation going to flip flops.

COOPER: I mean Jeff, do you agree with that? I mean is it a sign of cooperation perhaps?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think its worth remembering in the big picture here that 90% roughly of the people who are indicted in federal court wind up pleading guilty. And so if he is indicted, chances are he'll plead guilty and then he'll cooperate. I tend to think the risk of attorney/client privilege in his cooperation is much less. In the documents that have been turned over the -- not just documents, but e-mails, and phone messages, apparently they're very few privileged communications. The President himself has said that Cohen represented him very little.

For the most part he was doing business deals for Trump which were not lawyer/client in the nature of the relationship. So if he wants to cooperate, he can cooperate. I'm sure, yes, there will be some issues around the margins, but, you know, if he wants to make a deal and get himself out of the serious prison sentence, that option I suspect will be available to him.

COOPER: If Professor Dershowitz, isn't it hard for Michael Cohen to argue executive privilege when a as Jeffrey said, I mean the President serve undercut that argument and also -- and Jeffrey pointed out, I think it was about 160 or so roughly of the documents of all of the documents that were taken so far, have been viewed as privileged.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, what we're talking about is largely oral communication. And when you are making deals for the President, there are legal aspects to the deals and non legal aspects. Many law firms do mergers and acquisitions and deals. I'm not suggesting that there can't be potential of cooperation. I think there could be, all I am suggesting is it, it can't be as full some as it often is when they flip a co-conspirator or somebody used committed a crime together with the person whose flipping.

So I think yes, they can get useful information, but we don't know whether he is flipping or not. I suspect that he is sending messages to both sides. That he is sending a message to the prosecutors that I'm available to flip. And sending a message to the President, that I'm available to be pardoned. And there's now a struggle for the heart, soul and testimony of Michael Cohen that will be ongoing. We may learn soon depending on which lawyer he hires, because there are lawyers that practice in New York that I have called prosecutors and defense attorney clothing. They really work for the prosecutor. They only do flip witnesses. They're often recommended by prosecutors. And it's the kind of lawyer you go to when you want to send a signal that your ready to cooperate. If he hires one of those lawyers will be able to decode that message early fairly but we -- on the other hand if he hires a real tiger litigator, we may be able to decipher a slightly different message.

TOOBIN: I also think we maybe jumping the gun a little bit, I mean we're talking about, you know, will he cooperate, will he plead -- he hasn't been charged with anything yet. I mean -- and we don't know what crime he's being investigated -- you know, he's being investigated for.

Now we do know that the southern district got a search warrant. And you don't get a search warrant for a lawyer's office especially the President's lawyer's office, unless you have pretty good evidence, but I couldn't sit here and tell you today what crime he's going to be charged with and I think that is obviously a very important part of the question of whether he's -- whether he cooperates.

[20:50:10] DERSHOWITZ: I don't agree. I think every prudent lawyer facing what Cohen is facing would have to operate under the assumption that he will be indicted for a serious crime that carries a long prison term. The nature of the crime doesn't matter as much as the fact that he will be indicted. So, I think any lawyer has to assume an indictment based on what Jeffrey has said. You don't search lawyers offices unless you're ready to indict. Now, what he gets indicted for, you know, taxi medallions, who knows. The most interesting thing as if he were indicted for something that related directly to President Trump. But there's no indication that's in the offing, but I do think that any lawyer should assume who takes the case that he's representing a client who will either be indicted or will cooperate.

COOPER: And Jeff, just in terms of the idea of sending a message to the President, kind of hoping for some sort of a pardon, again, we don't know if he's going to be charged or what he would be charged with, but you've been very kind of negative on the notion, you know, some people kind of pointed to, well, the state's attorney could bring charges against Michael Cohen even if Michael Cohen is pardoned. You think that's unlikely.

TOOBIN: I think it's very unlikely. You know, the attorney general of New York is not set up as a criminal prosecutor's office. They don't have the resources. They don't have the laws. They don't have the experience to bring cases like that. But I think it's also worth pausing to think how grotesque an idea it is that the President might pardon Michael Cohen. I mean, what is the public interest in pardoning Michael Cohen? Is he some victim of -- is he a deserving person? Pardoning Michael Cohen would be solely an act of self- preservation on the part of the President. And the very idea that we're even thinking about that is really shocking to me. And it's an example of how much our sort of discourse is degraded that that's even a possibility.

DERSHOWITZ: I disagree with that, but it would not be a crime for him to pardon. He can pardon any person for any reason, without regard to the motive. But I think he would pay a very heavy and should pay a very heavy political price if he does do that because I agree with Jeffrey. It would be entirely self-serving.

COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.

Up next in a world where diplomacy comes with a promotional video, the world can't help but react. The Ridiculist is next.

Also, programming note, tune in next week for "Champions for Change" when CNN anchors bring you profiles of individuals and organizations for making extraordinary difference in people's lives. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All next week, a Special CNN series. Our anchors profile Champions for Change.

COOPER: We travel the globe telling the story of change makers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This time, we're joining their mission to make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving time to the causes that are dear to our hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And sharing stories of the champions leading the charge.

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SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Join the journalist of CNN. As we work along side, Champion for Change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All next week. Presented by Charles Schwab.



[20:57:03] COOPER: Time now for the Ridiculist. And tonight, there's plenty of reaction to the movie traileresque video that the President showed Kim Jong-un on an iPad during their meeting in Singapore. The video also was also projected on a big screen for reporters. Some have wondered if it was actually North Korean propaganda. It wasn't. It was actually real. In case you haven't watch it yet, here are a few of the highlights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity. A story on a special moment in time. When a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. A new world can begin today. When a friendship, respect, and goodwill. Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un.


COOPER: Now, let me just preface this by saying maybe this will work. I mean frankly, nothing else has for decades. Maybe this will. Maybe a fake movie trailer is just the kind of thing that will speak to North Korea's dictator and achieve peace in the region. Anything is possible, right? It has made some people wonder what kind of video Kim Jong-un might have shown the President if he was so inclined. One of those people, Conan O'Brien.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A world where Donald Trump is immortalized in North Korea and Kim Jong-un is embraced as America's greatest son. And now, we are very pleased and honored to present to the United States of America montage of fireworks and cheeseburgers. Fireworks and cheeseburgers.


COOPER: Meanwhile, the "New York Times" opinion video team did a little makeover on the original trailer, adding some commentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if we've been over thinking foreign policy all along? And what the world really needed was a movie trailer? No, really, this actually happened. From the administration who tanked the Iran Nuclear Deal, which eliminated 98% of Iran's enriched uranium comes an epic mash up of stock footage like these horses running through water, this guy dunking and this girl in a field.


COOPER: Of course Stephen Colbert really got down to the heart of the matter, the essence of the trailer, if you will.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you shake the hand of peace? Will you massage the ankles of history? Will you slam dunk the ball of destiny? And how many sunrises will it take?

Starring Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. With a special appearance by Dolph Lundgren. In the summit of all fears, mission Kimpossible 2, Singapore drift.


COOPER: Again, these are interesting times we live in. These kinds of videos have worked for Hollywood. They work for commercials and corporate training. Maybe it will work. But for all his railing against so-called fake news, clearly the President has no such distaste for fake movie trailers on the Ridiculist.

[21:00:06] That's it for us. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to our Chris Cuomo. "Cuomo Primetime" starts now. Chris.