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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
DOJ Watchdog: Comey Violated FBI Norms on Clinton Probe, But Not Politically Motivated; DOJ Report Reveals More Texts From FBI Officials Blasting Trump; By Choice, Not By Accident; Inside A Border Shelter Housing Immigrant Children; Trump Foundation Sued; NY AG: Pres. Trump Used Charity Funds For Campaign Business Interests; Charity On Lawsuit: This Is "Political At Its Very Worst"; WH: "Common Courtesy" For Pres. Trump To Return Salute; Pres. Trump Return Salute Of North Korea General At Summit; Expert Slam Pres. Trump For Saying N Korea Not A Nuclear Threat. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired June 14, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news about the long awaited inspector general's report into the conduct to then FBI Director James Comey, among others, during the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
Now, we're going to spend a good amount of time on it tonight and as you might imagine, it's already being seen through different partisan lenses Hillary Clinton supporters say that James Comey's decisions cost her the White House. President Trump and his supporters say Director Comey was running an FBI that was biased against him.
So, before we get to any of that, we wanted to try and clear away the smoke and just focus on the key takeaways from the page report. Now, the first, the inspector general found that Director Comey deviated from bureau norms in his July 2016 press conference about the case and in his letter to Congress, reopening the case just days before the election.
Investigators uncovered another text exchange between the FBI's Lisa Page and Peter Strzok who was fired last year from Robert Mueller's team. In it, Page asked Strzok whether Donald Trump would become president, and Strzok replies, quote, no, no, he's not. We'll stop it.
The inspector general also writes that he did not have confidence that Strzok was free from bias when he prioritized the Russia investigation over the Anthony Weiner emails, which as, you know, Director Comey revealed in the closing days of the campaign. Overall though, the inspector general report found there was no conspiracy against President Trump in the campaign or in the Clinton -- excuse me -- in the 2016 Clinton investigation, but it detailed a sequence of events that created the ingredients for conspiracy or the appearance of impropriety, including those biased text messages. And as to James Comey, the report concludes that even though he was facing difficult decisions in the middle of a presidential election, he made the wrong choices, not because he was biased or crooked the I.G. says, he just got it wrong.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now.
Explain what White House reaction so far has been to the report.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we heard from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders earlier today, she said that this report essentially confirms the president's belief that there were biases inside the investigation. Of course, we've been reporting and the IG report says there was no political bias in the investigation, although it did say obviously, what you were just referring to there, a few moments ago that these FBI agents were exchanging these anti-Trump texts, probably crossed line or will probably be disciplined, although that one FBI lawyer we should point out, Lisa Page, has already left the bureau.
COOPER: You mentioned Sarah Sanders encouraging people to tune in to FBI Director Christopher Wray's press conference, which happened late today. Just talk a little bit about what Ray said because he was very -- I mean, he was, you know, kind of was a full-throated defense of the FBI but also saying they accepted the IG report.
ACOSTA: Yes, it was interesting, Anderson. He was asked at one point if he could give a one-word reaction to the report, what would it be, and he said disappointed. And so, obviously, the FBI director who was picked by President Trump is disappointed in the outcome of this investigation and what the investigation found.
But it was interesting, Anderson, towards the end of this press conference with the FBI director, we don't see in front of the cameras very often, he was asked to comment on the president's tweets and his opinions on this investigation, and Christopher Wray said, well, I only want to comment on opinions that I care about, it sounded like a dig somewhat at the president though, it may have just been the FBI director's attempts to really sidestep the issue, tiptoe around the issue. He obviously did not want to talk about the president's opinion on all of this and, of course, we're waiting for the president to weigh in on all of this.
He has not tweeted on this yet. It is his birthday, so perhaps he's waiting until the day after his birthday to weigh in -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, appreciate it. As a reminder, it was only days before the 2016 presidential election that then-FBI Director Comey disclosed the agency was reopening an investigation to Hillary Clinton's private email server. Now, many Democrats see Comey's actions as fatally damaging to the Clinton campaign where Robbie Mook was the campaign manager. He joins us now.
So, Robby, first of all, let's dispense with this right away, the I.G. report says that at times Comey himself used his personal email for government business, a Gmail account. Comey said there was nothing classified. I know Clinton supporters point to this as hypocrisy.
But just because Comey used a personal email, does that make it right? ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and Hillary said on the campaign trail, it was a mistake to have the personal email server I think what's just in in retrospect incredibly ironic and deeply frustrating to a lot of us is that Director Comey felt entitled to go in front of the country unauthorized and lecture Secretary Clinton about her use when it turns out he was doing the same thing.
But, you know, at this point I don't think it's something we should spend a lot of time dwelling on. I just think it speaks to the larger issue here about Comey's judgment that he never should have done this in the first place.
COOPER: Well, let's talk about the larger issue. I mean, the inspector general blasted Comey's handling of the case. He said that they found, quote, no evidence that Comey's July statement tearing into Clinton's email habits as extremely careless was the result of bias or an effort to influence the election.
[20:05:08] Do you accept that, that Comey wasn't biased or trying to tip the scales?
MOOK: I do. I think Comey is a patriotic person. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he was doing what at the time he thought was right. But it was a mistake and I think his belief that there was an exception to the rule really proved the rule.
These protocols are in place to prevent the FBI from inadvertently or advertently influencing an election and I think this is a case where he did influence the election and, frankly, I wish he would be more candid.
I think -- I think he believes it was a mistake, too. I really do, and this report is helpful in that, you know, the information is out there and I hope that it gives the professional men and women at the FBI a chance to reflect on why this really should never happen again.
COOPER: What do you make of, you know, the new text messages that that were revealed? I mean, the IG investigation is looking at Peter Strzok's emails obviously -- excuse me, text messages with Lisa Page and also three other FBI employees that according to the inspector general included statements of hostility toward then-candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton.
Don't President Trump supporters have a reason to be suspicious and angry certainly about that particular text exchange?
MOOK: Well, they were certainly inappropriate statements, and I think that this report is an important moment for the FBI. It's probably a good gut check for all of them that the things they say matter, the correspondence they have matters. Their institution is incredibly powerful, but that also means that they're held to an incredibly high standard.
And the other thing that was in that report is how much people were leaking constantly about the investigation into Secretary Clinton and you even see in the messages there an acknowledgement by the staff that the leaks that they are putting out, the information that they're shuffling around could have a real impact on the election. And so, I think this is a really important area -- important cautionary story to everybody working at the FBI. They just have to -- they have to follow the line and their examples here up and down the chain where that just didn't happen.
COOPER: Robby, just stand by. I'm going to talk a little bit to Republican Congressman Chris Stewart and then I'll bring you back in. We'll all discuss this.
Congressman Stewart is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for being with us.
So, the IG's report said that they -- they, quote, found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations. For you, does this report put to bed any belief or concerns that there may have been about the FBI's investigation to Hillary Clinton.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, some of it I guess, but it's hard to read some of -- as you were just indicating, Anderson, it's hard to read some of the texts that are exchanged be some between some of these FBI officials and not realize there's enormous political animus taking place there. And whether it affected their judgment, whether it affected the actual outcome of their investigation, that the IG said that it didn't still makes many of us uncomfortable.
I do want to say, first, thanks to the I.G. for what is it seems to be a very thorough work. I think the FBI director Mr. Wray said it right, it leaves many of us disappointed. Loretta Lynch was faulted for her leadership and Director Comey as you were just discussing, playing out -- he's using a personal email while criticizing investigating Hillary Clinton for doing the same, and the leaks, and -- I mean, no one in this turns out looking very good at the end of the day.
COOPER: It wasn't being -- I mean though they said no bias was found, that in the one case with that Peter Strzok text, or excuse me, in the one case in Peter Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over looking more into Anthony Weiner's emails until later, that they could not determine whether or not there was bias in that decision.
STEWART: Yes, I think it's really important to note that there's clearly bias in their political views. I mean, there's just no question about that and very emotional bias, but the inspector general said that that was reflected in the outcome of the investigation or in their -- in their conclusions. Once again, I don't dispute that, but it does make -- I think most Americans uncomfortable to look at senior FBI officials who have such strong emotional political views against one candidate, knowing that they are investigating at the time although for different reasons both of these candidates.
It -- again, it doesn't make the FBI senior leadership that does not cast them in a very positive light.
COOPER: The inspector general does say that the rationale that Director Comey used not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, that her handling of classified information wasn't so gross as to almost suggest deliberate intention, which was the standard was the same rationale that the FBI used in 2008 when they decided not to charge former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with mishandling classified documents.
[20:10:04] STEWART: Yes.
COOPER: So if that was an okay standard in do you believe it was OK that used that standard vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton?
STEWART: Yes, you know, I've never disputed the conclusion that the director came to. I think most of us dispute and have trouble with how he publicly presented it. And the inspector general did as well. He called him actually insubordinate for that, because he did it so that he wouldn't convey this -- that decision on to his boss, the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who may have had input and may have had a different opinion on that. And, by the way, it was ultimately her decision whether to prosecute or not, not the FBI's.
So, I don't necessarily disagree with his conclusion, whether it was prosecutable or not. It was the very public way that he presented that decision that many people have a real problem with.
COOPER: I want to bring Robby Mook back into the discussion.
It is interesting, Robby. Today, we've heard from, you know, Democrats and Republicans that that you know both sides sort of see different things in this or there's enough in this report that both sides, you know, have valid points and raise valid arguments.
MOOK: Yes. I appreciate that. But let's be clear about something -- I did not hear a single Republican speaking out against Director Comey until the president chose to fire him, and I want to be very clear from my standpoint, the finding in this report was absolutely -- should not be something the President Trump tries to hide behind as an excuse for why he fired Director Comey.
He fired Director Comey because he wanted to stop the Russia investigation not because he felt sympathy for Hillary Clinton. This is the same campaign that was leading chants of lock her up during the campaign.
So, I just -- I worry there's a false equivalency developing where an opinion that I and other people who were working with Secretary Clinton have held consistently and the president who suddenly decided he didn't like Director Comey when he was the one facing heat for the potential relationship his campaign had with Russia.
COOPER: Congressman --
STEWART: I have to -- I have to counter that just very quickly and that is there were some Republicans who were critical of Director Comey before he was fired and frankly I was one of them. Beginning in the fall of the election, I was fairly public, although gentle if you will, in my criticism of some of the things that we were seeing from the director in the Intelligence Committee and some of this testimony before the committee.
And it wasn't -- given it wasn't directly related to Secretary Clinton and the email investigation, but there were other things that we were becoming very uncomfortable with and we were fairly open about that.
COOPER: Congressman, do you -- do you agree at all with Robby's argument that James Comey did far more damage to Hillary Clinton, costing her the election than it ever did to President Trump?
STEWART: I can understand why he would believe that. I think it's impossible to know. I mean, it truly is actually impossible to know.
COOPER: Is there tangible damage to President Trump that Comey's investigations to Hillary Clinton did?
STEWART: No, no, look, again, I understand why he would say that. But whether you could conclude that that's why she lost the election and it's -- and it's fair by the way to point out that, at the end of the day, she is responsible for that. She is the one who decided to use this email service.
She's one who hid it. She's the one who destroyed 30,000 of her emails that should have been -- that should have been saved and protected. I mean, there's a number of things that she did that led us to this point.
Now, once again I know that there's criticism the way that the FBI director handled that there's no question it some impact on the election. But I don't think anyone conclude that Donald Trump is a president because of that. I think there's many, many more explanations and reasons for that.
COOPER: Robby, I want to be able respond to that.
MOOK: Yes, look, I've been pretty clear in the past, I don't think it is possible to scientifically quantify the impact. And from my standpoint, I don't think that's a productive discussion. I think the fact of the matter here is that the director of the FBI made a very bad judgment, I wish he would own up to that so that is -- so that future directors can learn this lesson. I think this report has a lot for everybody at the FBI to think about.
But what I don't want to come out of this is that this somehow becomes a shield for President Trump to obstruct an investigation that by the way the FBI was doing at the same time we never heard leaks about it. We did hear a lot of leaks about Hillary Clinton.
And so, I just -- I don't want there's this false narrative that Democrats say one thing, Republicans say another.
We've been saying for months and years even that the FBI was mishandling this, but that is no excuse for Donald Trump to turn around today and say that the people have no right to get to the bottom of what his campaign may or may not have done with Russia.
COOPER: Just finally, Congressman Stewart, do you have confidence in Director Wray that he's going to right the wrongs --
[20:15:03] STEWART: Well, I do and unlike Director Comey, he seems to be much less interested in his public perception than he is in actually managing and leading the FBI. As you said earlier, we don't see him much before the cameras. He seems to be someone who wants to work behind the scenes and I believe that he's sincere in his comments today.
We can do better than this. We're going to do better. I think the American people should take some relief in that.
And by the way, the good news is, is he's united Republicans and Democrats. We both were frustrated with some of the decisions that he's made.
COOPER: Yes, Congressman Stewart, Robby Mook, I appreciate both your times. Thanks so much.
STEWART: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead, James Comey has already responded to the inspector general's report. We'll tell you what he has to say for himself.
And later, contentious back-and-forth in the White House briefing room today over the Trump administration's separation of children from their parents who crossed the U.S. -Mexico border illegally.
COOPER: Returning to our breaking news, the Justice Department's inspector general saying that former FBI Director James Comey did not follow department procedures when he announced that reopening of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.
Now, that report also says there was no political bias in Comey's actions. Not surprisingly, James Comey tonight is disagreeing with some of the conclusions that were reached. In an op-ed posted by "The New York Times", the former FBI director says and I quote: Nothing in the inspector general's report makes me think we did the wrong thing, unquote.
He continued: My team believed the damage of concealing the reopening of our investigation would have been catastrophic to the institution. The inspector general weighs it differently and that's OK, even though I respectfully disagree.
Joining me now is Jeffrey Toobin, Gloria Borger, and Phil Mudd.
I mean, Gloria, this administration initially said that Comey was fired over the handling of the Clinton email investigation. Giuliani, the president's personal attorney repeated that recently but the president obviously said he fired Comey for, quote, the Russia thing to Lester Holt.
How does this play into the overall Russian investigation?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think that Lester Holt interview was going to become more and more important in this investigation. But the president's attorneys were meeting in Washington today, and I'm told that this subject came up.
[20:20:07] And I think what Robby Mook was talking about and said he feared is going to be one of their arguments against a special counsel which is, look at what the inspector general said, we were right to fire James Comey, you can't say it's because of obstruction.
And also, there's something else they're likely to use in the -- in the report today, which is that there was a visceral bias at the outset of the Russia investigation from people like Peter struck who was in the early stages of the Russia investigation, and they will therefore claim that it's completely tainted from the outset.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, you know, the IG report did say that they couldn't determine whether bias played a role in Peter Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russian investigation over the investigations to Anthony Weiner's emails.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Peter Strzok's emails are really bad. They are really bad for the FBI. You know, I am familiar with how FBI investigations work. Even though he was a high-ranking FBI official, he had no authority over this case, he didn't decide whether this case went forward or not.
But I can't blame the Trump people for being upset about that. I mean, they are very upsetting emails.
I think in the broader context, they are probably not influential in how this whole story unfolded. There are lots of layers involved here, but -- and certainly compared to Comey's decision to reopen the investigation on the eve of the election, I think that the -- is far more important, but it was a bad set of emails. It's a bad sentiment for any investigator to express or feel, and I don't blame the Trump people for calling a lot of attention to it.
COOPER: Phil, I mean as someone who, you know, used to work at the FBI, knows the institution well. I'm wondering what you took away from this report?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: Boy, dodge bullet. I looked at this in the previous year of conversations we've had about the text and we knew a lot about the text messages between Strzok and his lover. We knew about the other elements that were in this investigation, questions about the appropriateness of James Comey's activities.
I looked at this and said, today, the other shoe is going to fall. The inspector general who was viewed when I was at the FBI is a sledge hammer, the inspectors general never hold back, is going to come back and say, we saw all this bias among individuals like Peter Strzok and we saw that reflected in the investigation.
The inspector general came back I kept looking for it in the summer today and said actually, we didn't see this reflecting the investigation. I think they dodged a bullet today. It could have been much, much worse.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, Chris Wray, the FBI director said that he cares about the opinions of, quote, the people who actually really know us and know us through our work. He named juries, judges, victims, law enforcement personnel, absent there was the president who was obviously attacked the FBI. I don't know if one can read too much into that or do you think that was intentional? Was it a dig against the president?
TOOBIN: I think it was a very mild dig. I mean, you know, Chris Wray doesn't want to wind up like James Comey. He doesn't want to get fired as well. But -- and, you know, there -- I mean, I know FBI agents. I've worked with FBI agents.
There is a considerable amount of resentment against the president for dismissing the whole bureau because he doesn't like the Russia investigation, and Wray has to walk that line, defend the bureau, and, you know, protect himself with his boss. And I think that line was an extremely gentle way of differentiating himself from the president.
But it was hardly an attack on Donald Trump.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean, you know, the report obviously as we talked about fan the Comey was using or did use his personal email, a Gmail account --
COOPER: -- for official business, all while he's investigating Hillary Clinton and criticizing her for also doing that. You know, obviously, irony for Democrats here is pretty rich.
TOOBIN: Yes, irony is not dead and, you know, when we all read that line, the report today, we went uh-huh, really? I obviously -- you could say and Comey would say, I wasn't -- I wasn't using my Gmail account for classified information, so maybe that's the difference.
But I think if you're a former Hillary Clinton adviser, you'd be saying, wait a minute, wait a minute, he went out there and said that Hillary Clinton was extremely careless about her personal email account being used for State Department business and here, he was doing the same thing? I mean, that's pretty rich.
COOPER: Phil, I mean even though the report as we talked I found the political bias didn't affect the outcome of the investigation it did find evidence of political bias amongst FBI agents, which certainly does feed into people's, you know, skepticism and certainly supporters of the president, the president skepticism of the FBI as a whole.
[20:25:08] Chris Wray pointed out, you know, there's tens of thousands of FBI employees. Do you think Wray is taking this seriously enough in terms of the changes he says, you know, that he accepts that were recommended in this report?
MUDD: Oh, heck yes. How many -- I mean, I had an FBI-issued BlackBerry back when we had BlackBerrys. Can you imagine how many people with a BlackBerry or smartphone at the FBI today are exchanging messages of a personal nature on the FBI? He doesn't even have to do training. Nobody's going to do that.
But let's be clear for a moment here, Anderson, about what's going on. This is not about inappropriate text messages. A hundred and fifty or two hundred million Americans either hated Hillary Clinton or hated Donald Trump and they talked about it over Thanksgiving dinner, over text messages, at sporting events, and while they're fishing for bass.
The mistake here was that two individuals used a government-provided phone to communicate this way. You think 35,000 FBI people don't have views on Trump or Clinton? I was there. We had views on that, you just wouldn't talk about it at work.
So, let's be clear -- you cannot anticipate that people involved in an investigation don't have a view. They need to separate it from work and they can never use a work computer or cell phone to talk about it. That's the problem here.
COOPER: All right. Jeff, Gloria, Phil, thanks.
Coming up next, the heartache of families being separated at the border. The administration says it is only following a law and there's a reason for it. The question is, what do the facts and the history say? Keeping them honest, ahead.
[20:30:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump administration today fired back at critics of its immigration policy, which is, you know, has separated hundreds of children from their parents. According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, there's no choice in the matter, only the letter of the law.
SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Because it's the law. And that's what the law states. It's a policy to follow and enforce the law. These laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade, and the President is simply enforcing them.
Again, the laws are the ones that have been on the books for over a decade, and the President is enforcing them.
It's not the policy change to enforce the law. Our administration has had the same position since we started on day one that we were going to enforce the law. We're a country of law and order and we're enforcing the law and protecting our borders.
COOPER: Well also today, a responding to a criticism from U.S. Catholic bishop,s Attorney General Sessions invoked the bible in his defense.
JEFFREY SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government, because God has ordained the government for his purposes.
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, though, however you interpret a scripture, there's nothing on the federal books requiring family separation. There is however a law making illegal border crossing a misdemeanor which this administration is choosing to enforce with no exceptions. They're no charging those who cross illegally and federal criminal court instead of processing them administratively in immigration court that had been done in the past. It's a key difference, because it means the parents are now placed in jail, their kids are taken away from them and place in federal shelters. Now prior to this, during the Bush and Obama administrations, adults with children were generally released from custody pending this position of their cases. That change last month and if you're thinking separating families was somehow unexpected fallout, you'd be mistaken.
Listen to the attorney general announcing the new policy last month.
SESSION: If you cross the border. Unlawfully, even a first offense, then we're going to prosecute you. Now, if you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we'll prosecute you for smuggling. If you smuggling a child and we'll going to prosecute you. And that child will be separated from you probably as a required by law. If you don't want your child separated, then don't bring him across the border illegally.
COOPER: So, the administration saw this coming. But are now blaming on a law that they and they alone chose to enforce in a new way with zero tolerance. Now, you can agree or disagree with the policy, that's a policy matter. But you can't simply blame it on preexisting law. Now supporters the policy, say long term, it's going to deter parents from endangering their kids by coming to the U.S. illegally and some top officials as far back as March, were telling CNN, that separating kids from adults was a feature of the administrations policy, not just an accidental result.
"We're trying to find ways to deter the use of children in illegal immigration." A senior Homeland Security official told us back then, this official framed it as a way of deterring child smuggling by non- parents. But he was unable to say how border agents could determine family relationships.
Our, Ed Lavandera has been reporting the story of from the border. He joins us tonight from McAllen, Texas. So part of your team was able to get inside one of this detention centers housing separated kids, what did they find?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it was kind of a strange surreal experience to be honest, you know, just overall, this is one of the hundred facilities across 17 states that is housing thousands of undocumented immigrant children. Many of them who have been separated from their families here over the course of the last month. Look, from what we saw and our colleagues saw inside that. It was a clean place. Very, you know, sterile. But there was a strangeness to is, this particular unit was a 250,000 square foot old Walmart that had been converted essentially into this detention center. The children have rooms where the five kids sleep. And sleep to a room. They have recreation abilities, there's recreational fields, pool tables and that sort of thing. But, you know, when you kind of take all that into account Anderson, it is still a strange feeling when you're walking around there.
COOPER: How consistent is the zero tolerance policy being applied to people crossing over? Ed, how consistent is the policy -- the zero tolerance policy being applied to people crossing over?
LAVANDERA: Well, this is the interesting thing, Anderson, is that all of this is -- seems to be applied very arbitrarily that, you know, as the administration talks about this zero tolerance policy and everyone is going to be prosecuted for this illegal entry, what we have found in a number of places here along the borders, is that it's much more happen hazard.
[20:35:03] Literally across the street from the federal courthouse here in McAllen, where hundreds of undocumented immigrants have been brought into a courtroom here over the last month or so, there is a shelter that caters to immigrants who have been released. It's a place for them to grab some food, take a shower, clean up and wait for their bus ticket out of town. And in there we talked to people who say they haven't been arrested, they haven't taken to federal court and they haven't been separated from their children.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate in McAllen tonight, thanks very much.
Up next, President Trump and his three oldest children are sued by the New York Attorney General, who's accused them of using the Trump Foundation to benefit his run for office and even set a legal claims against businesses owned by the President.
COOPER: President Trump is facing a new lawsuit tonight. And this one involves his family. New York's attorney general is suing the President and his three oldest children Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric, alleging that they repeatedly and illegally used the Trump Foundation Charity to benefit personal and business interests, including the 2016 presidential campaign. The attorney general accuses them of using foundation money in several transactions, among them, $100,000 to settle legal claims against Mar-a-Lago. $158,000 to settle legal claims against Trump National Golf Club, and $10,000 from the foundation to purchase this painting of Donald Trump which was displayed at Trump National Doral Golf Course.
[20:40:01] The nearly 2-year investigation was started under the previous attorney general and the President went after him today on Twitter. "The sleazily New York Democrats and they're now disgrace and run out of town AG Eric Schneiderman are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took an $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in $19,200,000. I won't settle this case."
Mr. Schneiderman resigned last month after the "New Yorker" reported allegations of physical assault by multiple women, he's denied those allegations. The new attorney general said today, there is nothing sleazy or political about the lawsuit.
Joining me tonight for his take and all this Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York and our CNN senior legal analyst.
Just in terms of the law, what could this mean for President Trump? This investigation of the foundation?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, like it's another legal headache on top of a whole bunch of other legal headaches, directed at some of his associates including Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort and others. The thing that struck me in reading the verified petition is that repeatedly in the petition, the New York AGs office makes the point of saying that Donald Trump himself is not delegated to some else but himself, signed documents under penalty of perjury. You know made representations about the way that the foundation was run.
COOPER: Right, said that it wasn't involved in politics?
BHARARA: Correct, and then it looks like it was, you know, with very specific concrete allegations. And so, you know, at this point, you know, people need to remember this is not a criminal case that's been brought. It's a civil case. When you bring civil case, it sort at the beginning. They've done some investigation obviously, because they have a lot of information and details in the lawsuit document. But they get discovery over time unless it gets dismissed. And when you get more evidence, sometimes it's actually with a civil suit, depending on what the evidence tells you, there's a possibility that I'm going to get ahead of the game. There's a possibility of a criminal charge, perjury is not an unserious thing.
COOPER: So, the -- if there was to be a criminal charge it would be a perjury charge?
BHARARA: I'm saying, that's one example that something that leapt out at me. You know, to prove something like that, you have to show it was in the persons mind. COOPER: Right.
BHARARA: There was not a mistake, it was not negligence, it was not something else, but it is significant that unlike so many other things we've been reading about with respect to the President's legal troubles, that were done at the behest of the President. And so we don't know what's in the President's mind. This sort of notifications were made personally by the President, and that is made -- that point is made repeatedly in the documents.
COOPER: But if remain just a civil matter it's be essentially a potential fine.
BHARARA: Yes, I mean they're seeking I think $2.8 million.
BHARARA: So right now, it's a legal headache that's going to expose a lot things, it causing people like you and others in the press to focus on the way that the foundation was run. Trust this somehow is to way -- to the way the foundation was run, to have you run as apartment process and many other things. You know, there are no employees, there are no standards, there was no board of directors that had met in 19 years. But the allegation was specifically that the President who was the head of the board of directors ran the foundation on whim as opposed to on the basis of law.
COOPER: His kids were on the board --
COOPER: -- for a time. He was sort of making that a selling point about the foundation, saying there was no overhead. Which, you know, some foundations do have a lot of overhead. The flip side of that is, the reason you have a board and the reason you hire attorneys.
BHARARA: So you don't break the law.
BHARARA: You know, people like to malign lawyers, but they do help you stay on the straight and narrow. But importantly than that, it looked like the President was using the foundation as alleged in the document to pay off other legal debts by funneling money to other charities, as, you know, it looks like it's coming within the rubric of the law, but it looks like it's a sham.
COOPER: It also looked like he was donating all this money when sometimes the money was coming from other people directly to the foundation.
BHARARA: It was a show of charity, mass by a foundation that wasn't living up to what the law required the foundation to help you, if you believed the allegations in the point (ph). And more seriously as everyone know, foundation like the ones -- like the Trump Foundation that are constituted under particular laws under the tax laws and local state laws, are not supposed to engage in politics. And, you know, in allegation after allegation after allegation, the point is made that it was basically run by -- during this 2016 campaign, by the people in Donald Trump's campaign. They were directing where events would take place, they were directing how the events would take place.
COOPER: Corey Lewandowski is saying, you know, could you basically donate some money and --
BHARARA: And Hope Hicks. And you're supposed to keep those things separate. And here clearly, I don't see how you defend against at least that allegation. Clearly they were not kept separate.
COOPER: The Trump Organization has said that basically politics are involved in this, its politics at its very worst from the attorney generals office. Do you see politics involved in this? Because obviously the President have been very critical, the former attorney general --
COOPER: -- this is now his replacement.
BHARARA: Yes, I mean I make about that is Barbara Underwood is a career lawyer, former solicitor general for the state of New York, I even don't know what her politics are, she's not running for the office in the fall. She's well respected by all sides and, you know, she took over the investigation of the case. And I believe her and credit what she says when she says she brought it, because it's in the interest of justice to do so.
[20:45:02] The problem is, when someone is in political office, if you can always use the argument that because I'm in a political office, and someone else is bringing a case against us and it's political, you don't get a get out of jail free card because of that. That doesn't, you know, consign an immunity upon you.
COOPER: I got to ask you, the "New York Times" said that you recently registered as a Democrat for the first time in quite a while. Its obviously you continue to raise speculate that you may run for the office of attorney general. Have you made a decision?
BHARARA: I have not.
COOPER: Anything else you want to say about that?
BHARARA: I do not.
COOPER: That's what I figured. Preet Bharara, thanks very much.
BHARARA: Thank you.
COOPER: All right, time now to check in with our Chris Cuomo to see what his team is working on for their program starting just a few minutes. Chris? CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, first we're going to tackle the heart, and then we're going to tackle the head. Does God really want the law to be enforced the way it's being done by the government on the border right now. Family separated, children sometimes taken from mothers, kept the conditions that certainly suggest we can do better. We're going to look at that, and then we're going to look at the good and the bad facts in the IG report.
Now, we both know Anderson, facts aren't good or bad, but they are when you apply them to politics. And partisans are seeing what they want to in this IG report. So, we'll show with the facts and conclusions suggest.
COOPER: All right, I'll be watching Chris. Thanks very much.
A lot more ahead tonight. Including more on the salute that President Trump gave to the North Korean general, while at the Singapore Summit. Details ahead.
[20:50:03] COOPER: North Korean state television today broadcast some images of the Singapore Summit that we hadn't seen before. President Trump is seen returning a salute from a North Korean general, the smiling Kim Jong-un in the background. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today called it a common courtesy whoever U.S. official told CNN that the President was briefed on the protocol which is to not salute military officers from other countries, particularly a country like North Korea. Meantime, reaction to what actually was agreed upon at the summit continues to come in.
We're joined by Ambassador Richard Haass, author of the book "A World In Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order".
Ambassador, as you know the President tweeted, "Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There's no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Can the President actually say there's no longer a threat from North Korea, the nuclear threat?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, he can say it and he did. It has the problem that it's not accurate. That's a goal, but in no way it's reality and what happened or didn't happen in Singapore did nothing to eliminate the nuclear or missile threat coming from North Korea.
COOPER: When you say did nothing, I mean is that fair? Because, I mean the President and his supporters obviously say well look, at least, you know, the two sides are talking and talking is better than the alternative.
HAASS: Well, I don't argue that, but again, all talking is and all the agreement was, was aspirational. The real question is now, what if anything happens? Look, Anderson, I'd love nothing more than to come on your show in six months or a year or two years and say that Singapore was the first step of what turned out to be a diplomatic success. And we can point to a North Korea that's dramatically reduced or eliminated its nuclear capabilities, its missile capabilities, we've had the access we need to verify that they've done all that. That would be fantastic. All I'm saying is, all of that remains to be done.
COOPER: I mean the language in the joint statement was that North Korea, "commits" to work toward complete denuclearization to the Korean peninsula and that Kim Jong-un "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula". They are working towards something is very different than actually pledging complete verifiable or reversible denuclearization.
HAASS: Absolutely. And there's nothing in the agreement that defines the denuclearization how extensive is meant by that, it doesn't mention the missiles. You can't verify anything unless you first have all the details of what it is you have. People need to understand that verification doesn't mean you go searching around the country with a flashlight and a magnifying glass looking for things. It means you have a comprehensive, accurate inventory of everything that's relevant and you go into basically corroborate it.
COOPER: There's the argument that, you know, look, it hasn't worked in the past all the things that U.S. and various administrations, Republican and Democrat have tried haven't worked. Perhaps this kind of top down approach where rather than having, you know, bilateral meetings or multi-country meetings initially, having the two leaders meet off the get go that might actually going to break the laws in?
HAASS: From your mouth to God's ear. And I would love that to be so. I think everyone ought to hope that this happens. But to simply base it all on trust and on a personal relationship seems to me extraordinarily optimistic to say the least. To commit to working toward something without a time line and without a definition doesn't seem to me to accomplish a whole lot. Mike Pompeo essentially has all the work cut out for him.
COOPER: Yes, a lot of work. Certainly, I want to ask you about President Trump's salute to the North Korean general. Sarah Sanders was asked about it today, it called it a common courtesy. Do you see a problem with it? I mean President Obama was criticized for, you know, sort of bowing to in Saudi Arabia, also to the emperor of Japan.
HAASS: Yes, it's not something I would have recommended, had I been staffing the President of the United States, not something I would personally do, given everything from his position to the nature of the North Korean military. But given what we've just been talking about, I would say that's symbolic choice he made, which, again, I think is probably not ideal, that pales in comparison to the significance of the issues, you and I just been talking about.
COOPER: I want to ask about the President's comments on Kim Jong-un and human rights abuses. I mean he did say that Kim has done some terrible things. He also said in he's, quote, you know, a tough guy. He praised him for saying, you know, very few people could have done what he did in terms of coming into power at age 26 and ruling things toughly in the way that he did. And that, you know, a lot of other people have done really bad things. Is that an argument of moral equivalence which is again what President Obama used to be criticized for?
HAASS: Pretty much. It seems to me almost slightly admiring of what Kim Jong-un has done over the years. So, I can understand why say human rights, we're not part of the agreement. Agreements don't have to cover everything under the sun or it would be more than enough shall we say to succeed in dealing with the nuclear missile challenge, but I didn't understand this -- those words.
[20:55:05] Clearly the President though is making an investment in Kim Jong-un. Clearly he believes, Anderson, that flattery and personal relationships and chemistry somehow hold the key to what's going to happen here. I for one, am dubious of that to say at least, I believe leaders reflect their national interests, are constrained by their own politics. So, I don't believe charm, flattery and the like is going to work here. But the President has his way of doing business. I hope he's right, but I'm profoundly skeptical.
COOPER: Yes, Ambassador Haass, appreciate your time. Thank you.
HAASS: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, when we continue, the annual congressional baseball game is underway in Washington tonight, especially point in, because it comes on the one-year anniversary of the shooting during the Republican practice for the game.
COOPER: the annual congressional game is being played tonight in Washington, it's a tradition between Republicans and Democrats and for one night anyway, parties and differences are supposed to vanish. This year's game of course has special point and see, it being played on the first anniversary of the shooting a year ago in suburban Virginia where Republican members of the team were practicing. Of course Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise was seriously wounded, he was among four people who were shot when a man opened fire during the practice.
Tonight just before, Scalise tweeted a picture of himself in uniform. There's the picture. His Twitter message read. I'm back in the game. Once the game started, a special moment Scalise recorded the first out and there were hugs all around.
[21:00:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire infield, the entire field goes over to congratulate him and give him a big hug. How about that for the very first --
COOPER: It's really a great moment for the Congressman and everyone there, we're glad he's back.
Thanks for watching 360. Time now to hand it over to Chris Cuomo, with "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris?