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President Trump Gets Another Supreme Court Pick as Justice Kennedy Retires; Interview with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

It's an important day for the future of the Supreme Court and for the United States of America, an announcement that will have a profound effect on both for decades to come. Today, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement which means President Trump will be able to name a second justice to the highest court in the land.

Justice Kennedy, of course, was a Republican appointment named to the court by Ronald Reagan. Over the years, he sometimes sided with conservatives, other times with liberals. He wrote the ruling that legalized marriage for same-sex couples. He upheld Roe v. Wade in 1992.

Now with his retirement, the makeup of the court will be changing at a time when there are crucial issues that will be decided, among them, not just abortion rights but affirmative action, the death penalty, the presidential subpoena, religious freedom and civil rights protections for gay and lesbian citizens.

The political battle has already begun with some Democratic lawmakers saying there shouldn't be a vote until after the midterms, what some are calling the Mitch McConnell rule since the Senate majority leader refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama's pick Merrick Garland.

We're going to have more on the reaction from Congress in a moment. Senator Bernie Sanders joins us as well.

We'll get into a lot of the important detail also about Justice Kennedy's impact on the court and what the future may hold. But first, I want to get the president's reaction. He's speaking at a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, tonight.

Our senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is there and joins us now.

Was the president aware that this was going to happen today or did it come as a surprise as it did to many people?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it was a complete surprise to President Trump. He will be arriving here in North Dakota shortly.

But I am told by his advisers he had no idea this was happening and, in fact, Justice Kennedy was inside the White House on hold before President Trump knew that he indeed had a meeting with the retiring justice. The justice has been on the bench, 33 years on the Supreme Court and he brought over his retirement letter directly to the president, to have that one-on-one conversation.

And, Anderson, President Trump thanked him for his service, but he also asked him for, you know, some suggestions for who should fill his seat. That was certainly an interesting conversation.

COOPER: Do we know -- will the president's pick to replace Kennedy come from the previously released list of 25 candidates that he released during the campaign?

ZELENY: Indeed he did. President Trump said, look, he is going to pick from one of the 25 members, people on that list. And the list came about in an interesting way. When the president was running for office, he put out a list of 20 potential Supreme Court justices. He was trying to sort of ease conservatives, sort of who had some questions about if he should, and was deeply conservative enough. But the president also added five more names to that list just last November, and then released that list of 25 names.

They're a variety of judges, mainly appellate court judges, federal judges, kind of a tried and true conservative you would expect. But it is going to be one person from that list, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Jeff, I mean, it's certainly another campaign promise fulfilled by the president. He would certainly understandably want to take a victory lap on that, even tonight.

ZELENY: Anderson, I do expect the president to take a victory lap. He's just landed here in Fargo. He is campaigning in one of the key competitive Senate races. This is, of course, a deep red state. He won by 36 percentage points in 2016. It's also represented by a Democrat in the Senate, Heidi Heitkamp. She, of course, is breaking ranks with other Democrats, saying that there should be a vote sooner rather than later.

Anderson, one thing is clear, the surefire way to fire up conservatives, a surefire way to get skeptical Republicans on President Trump's side is by appointing conservative jurists to the bench, and there's no question this is a momentous decision he's about to make and it's no question he has reshaped the federal judiciary. So, this is music to this team's ears particularly in the midterm elections. This will fire up conservatives, Anderson, unlike anything else has.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, Jeff, thanks very much.

Our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now from Capitol Hill.

So, the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today that there will be a confirmation vote this fall. How's that playing out on the Hill tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, bare-knuckle brawl, Anderson. That's how one Democratic senator described what you can expect to transpire over the coming weeks, one driven by sharp bitterness, political bitterness over what happened in 2016, a Democratic Supreme Court nominee not even getting a hearing, let alone a vote. And also, a clear recognition of the potential seismic shift that could occur on the court.

Now, you mentioned some Democrats, including almost all of the leaders, saying that there should be no vote at all, citing 2016. This is what Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer had to say.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016, not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year.

[20:05:10] Senator McConnell would tell anyone who listened that the Senate had the right to advise and consent, and that was every bit as important as the president's right to nominate. Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president's nominee and their voices deserve to be heard now as Leader McConnell thought they should deserve to be heard then. Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy.


MATTINGLY: And, Anderson, Republicans have countered that 2016 was a presidential year. This is a midterm year. President Obama got a Supreme Court nominee confirmed in 2010, Elena Kagan, and that is the apples to apples comparison. Regardless of the rules or the precedents, the chamber will consider and will vote on somebody as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said by this fall.

It's worth noting from McConnell, this in just the judiciary in general but especially the Supreme Court the most important issue for him personally, one that he talks about constantly. Worth also noting, the Republican machinery here millions of dollars from outside groups grassroots activists urging senators to support this nomination is soon to be kicked into gear despite what Democrats want Republicans are very clearly moving forward on this, Anderson.

COOPER: So, I mean, is there anything Democrats might do to delay or block the confirmation process until after the midterm elections?

MATTINGLY: Yes, this is an important bottom line. If every single Republican votes for whoever President Trump nominates, that individual will be confirmed. There is no longer a 60-vote threshold on a Supreme Court nominee. It will only take 51 and Republicans have the number of senators to move that or on their own.

That's why you're hearing a couple things for Democrats, Anderson, one is they want their own grassroots push. I've heard they're going to push millions of dollars trying to put pressure on senators to get them to flip. They're also keenly aware that they have a lot of red state senators who are up for re-election in 2018 that they need to mind as well, three of whom voted for Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's 2017 Supreme Court pick.

I would point to two senators on the Republican side you need to keep a very close eye on -- Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. There's going to be and has been a lot of talk about what this will mean for Roe versus Wade. Those are two pro-choice Republican senators who have made very clear that the precedent on Roe versus Wade is one that they want to stand.

Whoever President Trump picks and how that individual answers questions related to Roe versus Wade could go a long way to determining not whether Democrats will support them, but whether all Republicans will end up supporting that nomination and get it to the finish line, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it's going to be quite a battle. Phil Mattingly, thanks.

Just before air, I spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders.


COOPER: Senator Sanders, Senator Blumenthal calls Kennedy's announcement earth-shaking, gut wrenching. Our Jeff Toobin says, in 18 months, abortion will be illegal in some 20 states. Is this potentially the end of Roe v. Wade?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, you know, it's ironic. The polling is very clear that the overwhelming majority of the American people support Roe versus Wade. We have differences of opinion on abortion, but the idea of overturning Roe versus Wade would be a decision that reflects only a small minority of the American people.

So, I hope very much that the next nominee to the Supreme Court does not hold that position. But the bottom line is this is obviously an enormously, enormously important issue, everything to do with women's rights, having to do with gay rights, having to do with solidifying the pro-corporate, anti-worker wing of the Supreme Court.

COOPER: Do you have any confidence that the President Trump would appoint somebody to your liking? I mean, it certainly seems that, you know, he did publish a list during the campaign of potential nominees. Gorsuch was on that list and he's indicated this next one will come from that list as well.

SANDERS: No, I have no hope that he will appoint anything resembling a moderate or a justice who will take both sides and to consider it -- the consideration. I think what we're looking for is the nomination of a right-wing extremist.

I would say this, Anderson -- you may recall that when Merrick Garland's nomination was brought forth by President Obama, Mitch McConnell said, let the American people decide, you shouldn't be considering this important nomination just before an election and he obstructed it and refused to allow a vote to take place.

I would say to Mitch McConnell -- remember what you said when Obama was president. Let the American people have a vote in November as to whether or not they want to overturn Roe versus Wade, whether they want to allow discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, whether or not they want votes to make life harder for the working people of this country.

[20:10:03] Remember what you said when Obama was president.

And the second point that I would make, Anderson, is that we have some, few, very few, but we have some Republicans here in the Senate who believe that it should be a woman who controls her own body and not the state or federal government, and I hope that they will work with those of us who hold that position in opposition to any nominee who wants to take away that basic right that women should have.

COOPER: On what you said about Mitch McConnell, your Democratic Senate colleagues have been accusing McConnell hypocrisy. If the shoe though was on the other foot and Justice Kennedy retired under a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress just before midterms, wouldn't Democrats also push to get a new nominee through?

SANDERS: Well, I think you need some consistency here. I mean, we have the most recent example and that is President Obama nominated an individual to the Supreme Court, by the way a pretty moderate guy. And the Republican leadership said, no, we're not going to let you vote on him. We should have an election first.

So, all I would say here is that I would hope that Mitch McConnell remembers what he said when Obama was president.

COOPER: If it does not go the way you would like it to go and Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, and it is made illegal in as many as states as Jeff Toobin mentioned. How big a drive do you think that will be for the left, for all people who are supportive of the right -- to the right to have an abortion?

SANDERS: I think it would be a very important factor in bringing people out to the polls. You know, we -- there are differences of opinion in this country about abortion, when abortion should be legal or not. I'm very strongly pro-choice.

But as I said earlier, the vast majority of the people believe that Roe versus Wade is the law of the land and should remain the law of the land, and I think that if Trump nominates somebody who wants to undo that constitutional right that women now have, you're going to see a massive uprising on the part of people all over this country, not just women but men who think that that decision should be left to women and not to the government.

COOPER: And just finally, I want to ask you about Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. He's a primary win in New York last night. She's a Democratic socialist aligned with you on many issues. Minority Leader Pelosi says this is just one choice in one district. People shouldn't get carried away. Is this just one choice in one district? Is it a larger than that? How do you see it?

SANDERS: I think it is larger than that. I think if you look at what happened in Maryland last night, Ben Jealous want a very strong victory by taking on much of the Democratic establishment in Maryland, campaigning on Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to bucks an hour, legalizing marijuana making public colleges and universities tuition-free demand leave the wealthy stop paying more in taxes.

So, I think what you are seeing both in New York City with Alexandria, in Maryland with Ben, are strong candidates running grassroots campaigns on a progressive agenda, and I think when you have that combination, you're going to see more and more victories all across this country.

COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, appreciate your time. Thanks.

SANDERS: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, coming up in the hour ahead, a look at the legacy of Justice Anthony Kennedy. He's leaving behind as he retires. The key cases he has been the deciding vote for, that's why this is so important. And more about what happens next, including more than in that potential battle over Roe v. Wade.

Also ahead, it looks like President Trump will indeed soon meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What the White House said today about when it's going to take place, and a guest who has some serious warnings about it, ahead.


[20:17:23] COOPER: With the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, the Supreme Court is losing a crucial swing vote, someone who's sided with conservatives on issues like gun control but with liberals on abortion rights and the right of same-sex couples to marry. We'll be talking a lot about how the makeup of the court is going to change and how rulings like Roe v. Wade could very well be impacted.

But first, a quick look at Justice Kennedy's legacy. Our Jessica Schneider has more.


ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The whole object of the judiciary is to ensure stability, continuity and so, we pride ourselves on the fact that this little change.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Justice Anthony Kennedy's time for change has come.

KENNEDY: We as a people are bound together. SCHNEIDER: Kennedy, now 81 years old, sworn the newest justice to join the court last year -- his former clerk Neil Gorsuch.

NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I, Neil Gorsuch, do solemnly swear --

SCHNEIDER: While President Trump replaced one conservative with another when he chose Gorsuch to take Justice Antonin Scalia's seat, he now has the opportunity to move the court significantly to the right when he replaces Kennedy, a centrist and the court's so-called swing vote.

KENNEDY: The cases swing, I don't.

SCHNEIDER: Kennedy has never liked that swing vote label. But for years, it has been his vote that has often decided the outcome of cases in a closely divided court.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thank you for coming to witness this historic occasion.

SCHNEIDER: Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee --

KENNEDY: I, Anthony Kennedy, do solemnly swear --

SCHNEIDER: Was sworn in in 1988.

KENNEDY: I shall honor the Constitution.

SCHNEIDER: He sided with his conservative colleagues on issues such as gun control and voting rights. He authored the majority opinion in Citizens United, striking down election spending limits for corporations.


SCHNEIDER: And in Bush v. Gore, he helped clear the way for George W. Bush's presidency.

But to the dismay of those on the right, Kennedy, joined the liberals on the court, on abortion affirmative action and the death penalty.

His most lasting legacy will likely be in the area of gay rights. In 2015, Kennedy penned a landmark opinion, clearing the way for same-sex marriage nationwide.

KENNEDY: They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law, and the Constitution grants them that right.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Anthony Kennedy grew up in a conservative Catholic family in Sacramento, California. But there was something that offended him from the very beginning about discrimination against gay people and his principal legacy on the court will be as the father of constitutional protections for gay rights and for marriage equality in the United States. SCHNEIDER: But Kennedy this term tried to strike a balance between gay rights and religious freedom, when he wrote the majority opinion siding with a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for two gay men. In his opinion, Kennedy acknowledged the baker's sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection, but warned against the broad use of religion to justify denying same-sex couples goods and services, writing: any decision in favor of the baker would have to be sufficiently constrained.

In 2009, Kennedy offered a rare glimpse of what it's like to be behind the scenes on closely divided cases.

KENNEDY: They're not a lot of high-fives and back slaps and there's a moment of quiet, a moment of respect maybe even sometimes or the process we realize that one of us is going to have to write out a decision which teaches and gives reasons for what we do. As time proved him to be one of the most unpredictable justices, personal dignity and liberty were always themes, and Anthony Kennedy's jurisprudence.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, joining me now, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who knows a lot about the court is the author of two bestsellers on it, constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Jeff, I heard you say earlier that within 18 months, that abortion could be illegal in as many as 20 states.

TOOBIN: No, I said abortion will be illegal in as many as 20 states because Roe v. Wade is dead today. I mean, this has been a conservative project since Roe was passed in -- was came out in 1973. If you look at who was behind the judicial selection process in the Trump administration, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, they have been moving towards this moment for all this time.

If you look at the 25 candidates, every single one of them is well to the right of Anthony Kennedy. States read the newspaper. States follow the news. They know in Texas, in Mississippi, in South Dakota, that the Supreme Court has changed so they are going to pass laws prohibiting abortion and dare the Supreme Court to strike them down and it's not going to happen and we are going to be a different country sooner rather than later.

COOPER: Professor Turley, do you share Jeff's vision on that, and particularly on Roe v. Wade? And also what other major issues potentially coming before the court could be altered?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I've never encountered Jeff's inner eye that he is able to see such things, but that's particularly apocalyptic. I -- that could come about and it just might not. You know, you do have institutionalists on the court like John Roberts who may get a bit of sticker shock in overturning the decisions of this kind.

Where I do think Jeff is right is that in the very least, we're going to see chipping away at doctrines like Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade can essentially be undone with a thousand paper cuts, that could be done on the edges through restrictions. That's probably more likely, but it's very hard to tell.

I think that what you have to be most concerned about for libertarians and civil libertarians is that much of Kennedy's legacy is a 5-4 beat. You know, it is -- it holds by a single vote, his own, that makes his legacy perhaps the most vulnerable on the Supreme Court. It's immense but it's also quite fragile.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, there's some Democratic senators saying any nomination shouldn't be voted on until at least next January after the midterms, based on what Mitch McConnell had head down refusing the vote on President Obama's selection until after new president was sworn in.

Do you actually see that -- I mean, it's hard to see a scenario where that plays out in the Democrats favor.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Look, the Democrats are going to wage a fight and they're going to fight really hard because this is very important to them, and it's important to their base. But they know that they don't have any leverage here. They've lost the filibuster, as Phil Mattingly was pointing out earlier. So this can be passed with 51 votes.

So, what they're left trying to do and they will talk a lot about Roe versus Wade because this is important to them it's important to women who are the backbone now of the Democratic Party, and what they're going to try and do is corral all their Democrats and see if they can get them to stick together.

And that's going to be tough because they're a bunch of red state Democrats who might just vote for a Republican nominee. Three Democrats voted for Gorsuch last time and then they have to hope that the nominee is so objectionable that somebody like Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski who are moderates and who are pro-choice would actually oppose a nominee their own party.

So, they have a very, very uphill battle here, but that doesn't mean they're not going to really fight.


Everyone, stay with this. I want to -- I got to get a quick break in, but I want to get everybody's take on something else.

[20:25:01] The vice president is speaking out, sharing who he thinks will replace Justice Kennedy. Details and your reaction in a minute.


COOPER: More now in our breaking news. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, as you know, at the end of July, giving President Trump another chance to reshape the highest court in the land.

Now, as we mentioned, Kennedy's voting record was moderately conservative. He was known for being a swing vote, the defender of equal rights for gay and lesbians, Roe v. Wade.

But his replacement according to Vice President Mike Pence will be more to the right. The vice president riding on Twitter this afternoon, and I quote: Thank you to Justice Anthony Kennedy for your long career of service on the SCOTUS. POTUS Trump will nominate a strong conservative in the vision of the late Justice Scalia who will uphold all the God-given liberties enshrined at the Constitution of the United States.

Back now with the panel.

And, Gloria, with the tweet from the vice-president, I mean, it seems to eliminate any prospect for president nominating a moderate conservative like a Justice Kennedy or, you know, invoking Scalia instead.

BORGER: Absolutely. It was sort of like thanks, Kennedy, but we really like Scalia better, and what we're going to do now is nominate somebody who wouldn't have given approved gay marriage or access to abortion or affirmative action.

And he made it very clear that the president is going to nominate someone to the right and I think anybody who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. Everybody on that list is a conservative. The president intends to do it. This is important to his base, particularly evangelicals.


BORGER: And it's going to be a large part of his legacy.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, the president says he has a list of names. Who do you think is the frontrunners are right now?

TOOBIN: Well, some of them are Brett Kavanaugh who is a judge on the D.C. circuit, the second most important judge court in the country. He also wrote the dirty parts of the Starr report when he worked for Kenneth Starr in the special counsel's investigation.

Amy Barrett, a former professor at Notre Dame Law School, who was just confirmed to the Seventh Circuit.

Raymond Kethledge, another Court of Appeal's judge who was a clerk to Anthony Kennedy.

And Amul -- this is a name I'm going to have to learn how to pronounce better, Thapar who was a protege of Mitch McConnell from Kentucky who was just confirmed to the Sixth Circuit. And he would be the first South Asian on the court.

But what they all have in common is that, there is not a shred, there is not a hint of moderation in any of their records. They are stone- cold conservatives, which is totally -- I mean, it's not -- which is a grand tradition in American law. But it is definitely not Anthony Kennedy's tradition. And it is a tradition that will allow for, you know, an expansion of Second Amendment rights so that you can have a bazooka, perhaps, as well as a hand gun that you can end affirmative action for African-American students.

If you are a religious person, you can band gay people from your store, from your hotel, from your restaurants. I mean, these are the issues that are going to come up. And this is why these people, as Mike Pence quite honestly pointed out, that's what they want on the court.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Professor Turley, another name being floated is conservative Republican, Sir Mike Lee of Utah. And he actually said today, he wouldn't say no to being considered. Would that be a strategic way to tamper efforts by some senators to block a vote if the nominee was one of their own?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I don't think it would really succeed in that at all. I think the politics here are already baked in on both sides.

You know, I was a great fan of Justice Kennedy and will continue to be so. He has a strong libertarian aspect that I enjoyed. But, the fact is, that the one thing you can't say about President Trump is that he failed to deliver on his promises more than any president in my lifetime, he has made good on those promises. You might not have liked him, but he has made good on them.

And the biggest promise he made over and over again like a mantra was that he was going to move this court to the right. And everyone understood he was talking about Kennedy's seat. And I have no doubt that he will deliver on that. And I agree with Jeff, that everyone on this list is definitely to the right of him.

You can only move even slightly to the right with Kennedy and produce cascading effects. So, even the slightly more conservative nominee could produce sweeping changes across half a dozen areas of law.

COOPER: It's fascinating. Professor Turley, thank you. Jeff Toobin as well.

TOOBIN: Thank you.

COOPER: Gloria Borger.

Coming up, official say that President Trump will soon sit-down with the Russia's President, Vladimir Putin. We'll going to have the latest details on when and where that might -- that meeting might take place and what maybe on the agenda.


[20:36:49] COOPER: Administration officials are laying the groundwork for a meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, perhaps, either in Helsinki or in Vienna. You know, some of the details were finalized there in Moscow where National Security Advisor, John Bolton, met with Putin. The final announcement is scheduled for tomorrow.

Bolton says a face to face meeting, would as he put it, "benefit the world."

They're skeptics. However among them Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters who's made no secret of his opinion that Putin may have some sort of a grip on President Trump. Colonel Peters joins me tonight.

And Colonel Peters, as someone who's been critical of President Trump's praised of Vladimir Putin and has various question about whether the Russian President has something on the President, I'm wondering what your reaction is to the idea of this up coming summit.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL RALPH PETERS, (RETIRED) U.S. ARMY: Well, summits may be normal in general, but with a specific characters of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump is cause for alarm. Because as we know before Trump talked off with just a Russian translator and Putin and if John Bolton can do one service for his country during this upcoming summit, he will be to do all he can to prevent a one-on-one Putin-Trump meeting behind closed doors with just a Russian translator present because Putin is a brilliant case officer, he knows how to work Trump, he studies him. And our President is impulsive and undisciplined and we don't know what he might blurt out which -- the secrets he might blurt out. We don't know what he might agree to behind closed doors.

We are unfortunately, Anderson, we have a President we cannot trust

COOPER: It's interesting because, you know, past Presidents have said, you know, I think it was George W. Bush, who said, you know, he looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and reflected on what he felt he saw. It is very easy to project something on to another -- on to another person. As you said, Vladimir Putin is a, you know, is an intelligence operative who studies President Trump closely.

PETERS: Yes indeed. And also, of course, Barack Oboma was caught on a hot mic telling Medvedev.

COOPER: Right.

PETERS: But after the election he could do more for Vladimir.

And three presidents on a row now have imagined that they could deal with Vladimir Putin, that they could somehow work to our benefit, and the world's benefit. And Putin has devoured each one of them. And he's devouring Trump. Whether or not he does have something on Trump or not, Anderson, there are four lines from a houseman that can express the Trump-Putin relationship better than I could myself. And that's, the Russian bear is huge and wild. It has devoured the infant child. The infant child is not aware it has been eaten by the bear.

COOPER: Right.

PETERS: And President Trump is that infant child. COOPER: You know, earlier today President Trump said, quote, it's good for the world, it's good for us. I'm wondering what message it send to allies, to Germany, to France, to Canada, the idea of this meeting, whatever may come out of it given Russia's stance in Crimea and elsewhere?

PETERS: Well, they're terrified. And they rightfully should be terrified because our President is so unpredictable. He doesn't do his homework. He doesn't seem to understand the context of why those sanctions are in place.

[20:40:04] Vladimir Putin invaded a neighboring country twice. He assassinates decadents, he assassinates journalist. He's force is a committed untold atrocities in Syria. He's work to undermine our election, to undermine European elections with quite a bit of success. But we need people to ride hurt on this President and it's a very, very tough job.

This is going to be a test for John Bolton as to his integrity and ethics. And he is -- for as long as I've known him that's a while, he has been tough on Russia --


PETERS: -- tough on Putin. He's recognized the danger.

COOPER: Yes. He said publicly --

PETERS: Now, will he be seduced by power?

COOPER: He said -- publicly he said negotiate -- I want to make sure I get it right. Negotiate with Russia at your peril in the past. I mean you've known as you said, you've known him professionally his involvement of all this is interesting because when -- he's been a hard line on Russia including about the election interference which she called a true active war.

PETERS: Yes. It's astonishing how quickly people in Washington changed their tune. And that they sell out for trinkets. Well, we'll see if what Trump-Bolton does. We'll see if he puts patriotism above power.

COOPER: Right.

PETERS: It's an open question, Moscow will tell us a great deal about it.

COOPER: A lot to watch for Colonel Peters it's good to talk to you again. Thank you.

PETERS: Thank you.

COOPER: Let's quickly check in with Chris. See what he's working on for Cuomo Prime Time starting at the top of the hour. Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "COUMO PRIME TIME: Well, big story, Anderson, is what we just heard from Justice Anthony Kennedy. What does it mean? We're going to go through a fact analysis of exactly what will happen.

Where are the votes? What are the options for Democrats? And then we will get into the big debate of what this might mean for the country.

We'll also have the head of the chair of the DNC on here to talk about the way forward for Democrats. They just got dealt a big situation. People are saying a blow, but I don't know. I don't know what it means for the party. I want to see what Tom Perez says the way forward is for Democrats. So we're taking those on tonight.

COOPER: All right, about 18 minutes from now. Chris thanks very much.

Coming up, more breaking news, the sources -- the former co-president of Fox News Bill Shine who resigned from the network in the aftermath with the Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal amid questions about how he himself handles harassment claims, has now accepted a senior position in the Trump administration, more on that ahead.


[20:46:26] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight, the President hired another former employee of Fox News to work in the White House. A source tells CNN Bill Shine has accepted a senior position in the administration and will likely be named Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of communications.

Shine was the co-president of Fox News who was forced out last year, resigned in the aftermath of the Roger Ailes sexual harassment's scandal after being criticized the way that he himself handles sexual harassment allegations in the network, who himself was never accused of harassment we should point out and denied mishandling any of the allegations that made against Ailes.

As you know, the President himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Has a history of defending other men who have been similarly accused from Fox CEO Roger Ailes to Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore, Rob Porter, the President has had kind words for them all.

Shine is also not the first TV person the President has hired. State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert is the former Fox News anchor, Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow who is a CNBC Contributor, national Security Adviser John Bolton, as a former U.N. Ambassador, also a Fox News alumni, as well as the Communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp, and the Treasury Official Tony Sayegh.

So CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers used to work at Fox News joins me now.

Kirsten, I'm wondering what you think of the hiring of Bill Shine, what kind of a message do you think it sense?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, if you are going to talk about fact that there are allegations -- there were different people in different lawsuits who said that Bill Shine knew about what was going on with Roger Ailes, the President doesn't care about that. He's shown us time and time again that he doesn't believe the women. He doesn't think they are telling the truth, and so that is a nonissue for him. And I wouldn't expect any thing different.

In terms of what this hire means, I think it just means you basically have Fox News running out of the White House. Because Bill Shine was forced out in the midst of what was happening in terms of accusations of women. But separate from that, he's absolutely beloved at Fox News. He's been there since the very beginning. Suzanne Scott, who is now the head of Fox News was his number two person for probably a decade or so. They were touch at the hips so they're very close.

Two-thirds of the people that work there now including talent -- you know, senior executives, senior producers, EPs, all worked for Bill Shine.

COOPER: And what was his focus there?

POWERS: He was in charge of the entertainment division and then there was another person who was a senior vice President who runs the news division. And so he runs Fox & Friends, O'Reilly, Sean Hannity -- Sean Hannity is his best friend in the world. So he was responsible for "The Five," all of the shows that were under sort of the entertainment division, the opinion, right, versus the news division, so special report wouldn't have been underneath them.

That said, he was Roger's number two and so he effectively was everybody's boss. And so he -- Fox News is already very much in step with the White House, but now you have somebody who helped build Fox News who knows how it is done. Who is going to know how to craft stories, who is now for the base, for the people who voted for Donald Trump and most of the people at Fox News adore him and it will -- you know, it will just be a perfect pipeline going back and forth basically.

COOPER: It's interesting though, he is -- you know, it's been said that the President believes he is his own communication's director. Obviously the President has a lot of experience with that, with communicating his own message. I mean, Shine is not expected to be hired not as a communication's director, which we've seen time ago but as deputy chief of staff in charge of communications.

POWERS: Right.

COOPER: I mean, it's -- it may seem like a -- you know, just a rhetorical difference but there is a real difference with that?

POWERS: Well, there is a difference because the communications director would be more focus on communicating directly with, you know, crafting messages for the media and the event typically talks to the media versus what he -- it seems he would be doing, which would be a better fit. It's helping craft like a broader message and packaging and putting things -- helping the President understand -- not that he honestly needs that much help. He's really in a mind meld with the Fox News viewers, but to the extent he could say this is what really resonates with the Fox audience. Bill knows that.

[20:50:27] The other thing that I think will help him there is he knows how to be the sort of number two guy. He was somebody who was a company man. He did the work. He was well liked. And he's not somebody who will ever -- he will never do something what Anthony Scaramucci did. You will never see Bill Shine to out and start mounting off, or even trying to get press for himself. That just would never happen.

COOPER: He is not somebody she is going to try to grab a headline for himself?

POWERS: Absolutely not. No. I mean, it's just -- it's not who he is -- it's never who he was at Fox and also he is very good at dealing with huge personalities. Roger Ailes obviously was a big personality. And Bill O'Reilly.


POWERS: And so he's used to that. And so I think actually this is a hire that makes a lot of sense for them.

COOPER: Yes, Kirsten Powers, I appreciate it. Thanks for your perspective.

Just had a late night order by a federal judge threatens to distract and already confusing reunification process for undocumented immigrant families and their children at southern border, details ahead.


[20:55:10] COOPER: The Department of Defense, a minutes ago announced it's received a request from Department of Homeland Security to "house and care for an alien family population of up to 12,000 people." There is no word of a specific timeline only that one will be "developed." That follows a federal judge late last night throwing a big wrench into the child and family reunification process has already been marked by confusion.

The judge ordered the government to reunify parents with children under five within two weeks and over five years old within 30 days. And as we reported last night, there's still more than 2000 kids separated from family members. It's not even clear if more kids are entering the system each day, it's not clear because the HHS which is responsible for the kids hasn't given clear answers. Listen to some of the conference call that Health & Human Services had with the reporters yesterday. And spoiler alert, it didn't go well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering first, are you still receiving children whoa re coming into your care because of parental detention? We know that there is an implementation phase on the executive order.

JUDY STECKER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: As mentioned earlier, we won't be -- we can get you that information as soon as possible, and we appreciate your patience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, wait -- actually it's really important. Are you guys still -- excuse me, are you still receiving children who are there because of the parental separation policy?

STECKER: I believe we've answered your -- you had -- you gave us three questions we responded to your question and I'd ask that you send that to

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry I didn't hear an answer to --

STECKER: Final question?


COOPER: Yeah. Not really an answer.

Joining me is Sunlen Surfaty, who really covered a lot of this yesterday and stayed on it today.

So I understand the HHS inspector general has initiated a review of the condition of the facilities. What more do we know?

SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is a move that comes as this agency is certainly under the microscope now. A lot of scrutiny in how they are handling these separations, how the children are being treated and how the families will possibly will be reunified.

So today this is essentially big news from the watchdog of the HHS, the inspector general is saying they are launching a nationwide review of the facilities that house these children. They say they're going to be looking at things like the employee background screenings, employee skills and the training and response to incidents of harm and the security at these facilities.

And I found this part, Anderson, particularly interesting. The watchdog says that they will be looking at the safety and health of the kids placed in the facilities and this is a quote, especially when the program experiences a sudden increase in the number of children. And we know based on the numbers from HHS yesterday that they are currently on the whole about 11,800 children, 80 percent of those though they are the kids who arrived at the border unaccompanied. And as we were talking about last night 2,047 of those are children who were separated from parents.

COOPER: And we heard from that call yesterday -- I mean, have you gotten any answers at all about the questions from HHS about are they getting in new kids now that are being separated still?

SURFATY: No. And we have not. CNN had very specific questions for HHS after that call that went unanswered. And today, they still do remain unanswered. We have asked them very pointed questions. Questions like, are you still receiving children who are being separated from their parents? What is the full accounting for the number of children who have been separated and reunified with either a parent or a guardian? We know that there have been at least six children reunified with a guardian over the last six days, but are there more? And something that's as simple as what are the ages of these children being held?

No response today. And HHS official did acknowledged our team's question but all we got back so far was frankly a very generic statement saying that reunification is the ultimate goal and that they are working towards that for these children.

But again, no answer to our questions which are, of course, essential and an important metric for understanding the full scope of what's going on now.


SURFATY: And we will of course continue to press them on this. As we said at the top though some new information tonight did just come in. The Department of Defense saying that they had received a request from the DHS, Department of Homeland Security, to house and care for, in their words, alien family population up to 12,000 people.

COOPER: I mean, you know, I guess it's good that they acknowledged our question. But the fact they didn't actually answer the questions is pretty sign that, to not even say how old the range of kids is, what the youngest child is, what the oldest child, I mean, that's -- it's just incredible.

Sunlen, I appreciate it. I know you'll stay on it. Incidentally, an official says there is no update on whether the 6-year-old girl whose voice was heard on the audio recording crying because she's been separated from her mother will be reunited. Her name Alison Jimenez (ph) and now he is in Arizona, her mom sending (inaudible) in Texas. She's one of the thousands of families uncertain about their future tonight and the status of their loved ones.

[21:00:03] That's it for us. Thanks for watching, time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo. Cuomo Prime Time starts now. Chris.