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President Trump Now Says He Holds Putin Responsible for Election Interference; President Trump on Possible Sit-Down with Mueller: "I've Always Wanted to Do An Interview". Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 18, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news. President Trump now saying he was very strong in his words with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, but you have to take his words for it because if it's true, it only happened when no one else was looking. It only happened behind closed doors with only a pair of interpreters in the room to allegedly witness it.

We spoke about that meeting today. He spoke than meeting today, and even though he now says he agrees that Russia interfered in the election, he still could not bring himself to say that Vladimir Putin has been lying about it and lying to him.

That and a lot more just aired in an interview the president did today with CBS News's Jeff Glor. We're going to play the most significant moments in the hour ahead, but here's just a bit of it.


JEFF GLOR, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: You say you agree with intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before. And I would say that that is true, yes.

GLOR: But you haven't condemned Putin specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?

TRUMP: Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country, just as I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. Certainly, as the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes.

GLOR: What did you say to him?

TRUMP: Very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling, we can't have any of that. Now, look, we're also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement -- you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement. Nobody heard it. What they did hear is the statement he made to Putin's very close friend, and that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play, relatively speaking, but that statement was not acceptable.

But I let him know we can't have this, we're not going to have it, and that's way it's going to be. 9

GLOR: But he denies it. So if you believe U.S. intelligence agencies, is Putin lying to you?

TRUMP: I don't want to get into whether or not he's lying. I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies, as currently constituted.


COOPER: Again, he can criticize President Obama, the past leadership, the intelligence community, the press, just about anybody else, but still cannot seem to criticize Vladimir Putin. He can speak strongly about Putin in public, but he claims he was strong with him when no one was there to see it or hear it or record it. He can't speak strongly about him in public.

To believe this tale of two Trumps, you'd also have to believe that behind closed doors the president was able to do the one thing he's never been able to do before and still can't tonight. For the last two years, he has consistently mischaracterized questions or outright rejected the intelligence community's assessment. And later, the Senate Intelligence Committee's bipartisan conclusion, that Russia meddled in the election with the goal of making him, Donald Trump, president.

So, if he actually did get tough with Putin in their private encounter, it would be at the very least out of character. And for evidence, you only need to cast your mind back 24 hours. The president doing damage control, yet also again casting doubt on Russian culpability.


TRUMP: Let me be totally clear in saying that -- and I've said this many times -- I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people also. A lot of people out there.


COOPER: Could be other people, he says, and he ad libs that. He was reading from the sheet what he was supposed to say, and then he ad libs what he really thinks. It's what he's been saying since the campaign. That's what we know he really thinks.

Yet, now, he says he told Vladimir Putin we can't have meddling. We can't have any of that.

So does the president believe there is currently any of that? Does he believe that Russia is still targeting our country with cyber attacks?

Well, he was asked by a reporter early today, and he answered no. In fact, he answered no twice, and he looked right at the reporter when he did, according to people in the room, and that answer was caught on video. As you might know, that contradicts Dan Coats, his own director of

national intelligence said two days ago and before that just last Friday.

Quoting Director Coats' statement now, the warning lights are blinking red, is how he put it regarding the Russian threat. So, unless, the Russian cyber threat in space from a few days went from red alert to nonexistent, the president doesn't seem to believe the intelligence community, his own hires who are now running it despite what he just said today.

So, of course, hours after the president said no, he didn't think Russia was still targeting us, the White House sent Sarah Sanders to the podium to tell us that what we heard was not at all what the president actually said.

They've done this time and time again, of course. Either a spokesperson, a surrogate or the president himself simply says or tries to suggest that we didn't really see or hear what you clearly saw or heard.

Keeping them honest, though, this is not case of different people having different recollections of what really happened. We know what really happened because it happened, all of it on camera.

So with that in mind, here is what the president actually said followed by the attempted gaslighting.


[20:05:01] REPORTER: Is Russia still targeting the U.S.? Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much. No.

REPORTER: No, you don't believe that to be the case?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, make your way out. Let's go. We're finished here.

REPORTER: Earlier, Cecilia asked the president, is Russia still targeting the U.S.? He said no. Is that what the president actually believes? Did he understand the question? And is his position that no, Russia is not doing anything to interfere or meddle in the 2018 election?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I had a chance to speak with the president after his comments, and the president said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections, as they have done in the past and as we have stated. REPORTER: So despite the video that shows the president looking at

Cecilia and answering no to this question about whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., and despite multiple people in the room understanding that the president was responding to that question, and despite the president having never said before no, no, no repeatedly to usher reporters out of the room, you're saying -- you're saying it's the reverse. You're saying the president --

SANDERS: This is the first thing the president said after the question was asked was thank you very much, and he said no, I'm not answering any more questions. And even further, I think even Cecilia didn't realize what the answer was because she asked for clarification and he didn't answer the follow-up.

Again --


SANDERS: Right, because she wasn't sure. I talked to the president. He wasn't answering that question. He was saying no, he's not taking questions. And I've stated what our position is.


COOPER: He didn't say no, I'm not taking questions, no comment, I'm not taking any more questions that would make sense. He just said no, thank you very much, looking at the reporter, who just asked of him a yes or no question. And he said it twice, looking at the reporter.

According to Sarah Sanders, the president was not, and I repeat not answering a shouted question. Instead, most believe he was refusing to answer any questions by randomly saying no after that reporter asked him a question. He didn't say no, no more questions. In fact, he went on after saying no the first time. Take a look again.


REPORTER: Is Russia still targeting the U.S.? Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much. No.

REPORTER: No, you don't believe that to be the case?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, make your way out. Let's go. We're finished here.


COOPER: No, no, thank you. No. What do you see?

For perspective, the reporter in question, ABC's Cecilia Vega added this, tweeting: Getting a lot of questions about my exchange with @DonaldTrump today. Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke. Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions.

He answered two of her questions. And he answered them with the word no.

CNN's Jim Acosta was also in the room on hand for the moment you just watched. He's also tracking this new comments the president just made to CBS. He joins us now.

So, Jim, was there any doubt from people in the room the president was looking at the ABC reporter and answering her question?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, do I believe the press secretary's explanation of all this? No, I don't. That would be my response to all of this. I mean, it's clear when you look at the video --

COOPER: Now when you say no, do you mean no, you don't believe her or do you mean no, I don't want to answer that question?

ACOSTA: I -- let me just put it this way. I believe the president was answering Cecilia Vega's question, Anderson. And I think it's very obvious on that tape.

And, you know, Sarah Sanders has a credibility problem when she comes into that briefing room and tries to clean things up in that fashion. Her job is not to come into the briefing room and gaslight the American people.

COOPER: Do you mean she has a credibility problem or she hasn't a credibility problem? I just want to be clear. We've had lot of problems with apostrophes in the last couple days.

ACOSTA: I would say she has a credibility problem, and I would not say that she doesn't.


ACOSTA: Anderson, that doesn't muddy the water too much, I hope.

But, Anderson, in all seriousness, the press secretary boxed the president on a very critical question. If he comes out tomorrow and says, I don't believe the Russians are targeting us in the upcoming midterm elections, he has essentially made his press secretary out to be a liar. And so, they have to be very careful with all of this now, because all of Washington, much of the world is just very disturbed by what's happened this morning.

COOPER: Well, I wouldn't not say that.

ACOSTA: Exactly.

COOPER: These new presidents that the president said on CBS tonight, you would try to get some clarification early on in the day from Sarah Sanders on what exactly was said between President Trump and Putin. What did she tell you?

ACOSTA: That's right.

Basically, Anderson, this goes back to that press conference with the Prime Minister Theresa May last Friday. I asked the president as he was leaving, will you tell Putin the stay out of U.S. elections? He across the press conference area out there at Chequers said to me, yes. I took him at his word there. He seemed to answer that question.

But that did not come up, it seems, in the press conference that we had in Helsinki with the president and Vladimir Putin. So, I asked Sarah Sanders today did the president tell Putin to stay out of U.S. elections. Here's what happened.


ACOSTA: Did the president tell Vladimir Putin at their summit in Helsinki to stay out of U.S. elections?

SANDERS: Certainly. The president, as both he and President Putin said, discussed election meddling.

[20:10:03] I think we've made very clear what our position is on that front.

ACOSTA: All right. I understand you're saying that they discussed election meddling. But did the president of the United States tell the president of Russia to stay out of U.S. elections? Did that occur?

SANDERS: The president has made clear to Vladimir Putin that he should stay out of U.S. elections.

Sorry, I'm going to keep moving. April, go ahead.

ACOSTA: Was there a recorded --

SANDERS: Sorry, Jim. I'm going to take a couple last questions.

ACOSTA: Is there a recording made of their one-on-one meeting? Does it exist?

SANDERS: I'm not aware of one.


ACOSTA: So, Anderson, she is not aware of a recording being made of that meeting, that one-on-one meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Of course, a recording would go a long way in settling this issue, because the president said, as you were saying at the top of your program, that he did tell Vladimir Putin that we're not going to have any more meddling in these elections. But, of course, that's what he said privately behind closed doors with only translators in the room.

COOPER: She also said in answer to your very direct question, which you asked twice, she said he has told Putin that. She didn't say yes, he told Putin that meaning at the Helsinki Summit. I mean --

ACOSTA: That's right. She did not say that he warned Vladimir Putin to stay out of U.S. elections, and that was something, as we saw in Helsinki, Anderson a, was all too clear. I was in the room. He had every opportunity to tell Vladimir Putin straight to his face, stay out of these elections, and he didn't do it. And to have the president two days later try to say oh, yes, now I'm being the tough guy, it just doesn't -- it just doesn't hold much water, much like that briefing we saw earlier today.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, I appreciate it. I want to return to something the president said tonight, or to be more precise, the one thing he can't say.


GLOR: Is Putin lying to you?

TRUMP: I don't want to get into whether or not he is lying. I can only say I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted.


COOPER: Joining us now, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political analyst, author and investigative reporter Carl Bernstein, and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, if he currently does have confidence in intelligence agencies as he currently constituted as he says, but he doesn't believe that Russia is attempting -- continuing to attempt to meddle, to have a cyberattack, get involved in our upcoming elections in the next presidential election, if he doesn't really believe that, then he doesn't have confidence in what the intelligence agencies and the heads of his intelligence -- of his heads of intelligence agencies are saying because they are saying this is ongoing.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And he can't say that Putin's a liar either. He wilts.

I mean, here is this strong guy, supposedly, this tough guy on Russia, supposedly, telling us how tough he's been on Russia, and he completely wilts on this. He has no outrage.

I mean, you would expect, Anderson, the president of the United States knowing and believing his intelligence agencies, never mind looking at the intelligence himself, which it seems clear he really hasn't done, but you would expect the president to be outraged and strong and stand next to Vladimir Putin and talk about this rather than saying he was powerful in denying it.

And instead what we have is a president who clearly is so afraid of either delegitimizing his own election, which is the way he sees this, or is afraid of what Vladimir Putin may have on him or afraid of Robert Mueller, I have -- I have no idea. But he is constitutionally incapable of saying that Putin is a liar, that the Russians definitively hacked the election because he has seen the intelligence, and he believes it. And it's a mystery. And we're going to have to get to the bottom of it at some point.

COOPER: Well, it's also incredible, Jeff, that this is day three since -- I mean, there was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That summit was on Monday. We've now had three days for the White House, for the president to just very clearly, you know, stand with the intelligence agencies, stand with what he claims he believes or the White House claims he believes, and every single time, he's either ad-libbing something, he is hedging it, he's flat-out saying no.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: He is giving us what he believes. I mean, you know, how obvious does it have to be? That he doesn't believe that Putin is a liar, he doesn't believe that the intelligence community is right, that the Russians alone meddled in the election.

I mean, every opportunity he has, as you point out, to say straightforwardly this was a Russian effort to help me get elected, he doesn't say it. And the only explanation for why he doesn't say it is he doesn't believe it.

COOPER: Also, I mean, frankly, we have it up there on the graphic, and we use the word "meddle" all the time, Carl. I mean, it's, you know, as many have said before, it's more than just heading. It's more than just kind of getting --


COOPER: It's an attack.

BERNSTEIN: It's warfare. It is an attack on our very system of free elections in this country.

But something very significant has happened over these three and four days, and that is that Republicans in Washington on the Hill are saying to each other, we do not trust this president. We can't trust him with the security of the United States. We do not believe him.

But the question is will they --

COOPER: Are they saying this to each other under the covers, whispering?

BERNSTEIN: They're saying to it Gloria, I believe. They're saying to it Dana. They're saying to it me.


BERNSTEIN: The question is -- well, some of them have been on the air and are saying it. And increasingly, we need to be as reporters getting them on the record and saying, well, what about this, Mr. Republican? We want to hear from you on the record. Tell us, is the president truthful? Can you entrust him with the national security of the United States? We've got a job to do now. The president has set this up for us to do

a job. If they say oh, no, we can't say anything to you reporters, we've got to keep our double-talk up as members of the Congress of the United States, but something profound has happened. It is clear to everybody but the base that this president is not capable of being truthful.

COOPER: But, Gloria, I mean, haven't Republicans been whispering about this to you and to Carl and to others?


COOPER: I mean, for a long time?


BERNSTEIN: Different now. Gloria, different now?

BORGER: Well, look, what they ought to do is get together and slap -- and slap sanctions on Russia and say, OK, we all believe this. This occurred. And no matter what the president says and no matter that he won't say Putin is a liar, we believe he is a liar and we're going to actually do something.

Yes, there are a lot of people who are afraid of Donald Trump. He's a very popular president in the Republican Party, 90 percent approval rating. So, yes, they're not profiles in courage. I get that.

TOOBIN: Profiles in courage? There is nobody.


BERNSTEIN: Profiles in craven.

BORGER: I get that. I said that.

TOOBIN: You know, we keep bringing out Jeff Flake and Bob Corker.

BORGER: Yes, yes.

TOOBIN: They're not running for reelection.


TOOBIN: Anybody who is running for reelection as a Republican is running in fear from Donald Trump.

BORGER: Well, you know, they are. But when the press secretary for the president today says that it's up to the State Department whether the former ambassador to Russia, McFaul, ought to be able to sit down with the Russians and be interrogated by them, there ought to be some outrage on Capitol Hill about this.

COOPER: Ought to, would have, could have, should have. I mean --

BORGER: I know. It's a slow process. And I don't want to be Pollyanna.

TOOBIN: Yes, it is.

BORGER: I'm not going to be Pollyanna here. But at some point, at some point the tide has to turn. Maybe not, maybe not.

COOPER: It's funny because it's so like kind of you throw up your hands. What else are you going to do?

BERNSTEIN: Let's have some faith in the American people, because the American people have been watching this now for week. And no matter how big that base, you have to believe that the absolute demonstrable lying, untruths, posturing, inability to confront a thug, a butcher, inability to do anything but massage this thug while rubbing our allies' faces in the ground, some of this is apparent to the people of the United States. I think we have to have that bit of faith.

COOPER: Let's get a quick break in. We're going to have more with this discussion.

Coming up next, if, if the president now believes his intelligence community's assessment of the Russian cyber campaign against the 2016 election, if he actually also believes it's also continuing, has he also changed his mind about the man leading the criminal investigation into it? His new thoughts on Robert Mueller. More on that interview with the president when we come back.

Also ahead, the president's take on former DNI James Clapper and Director Clapper's take on the president's remarks.


[20:21:52] COOPER: President Trump now says he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, yet he still can't say that Vladimir Putin lied about it. And as this moment from his interview with CBS News shows, the president still can't stop attacking the investigation of that attack on the country.


GLOR: I do want to ask you, sir, you said you'll sit with the special counsel before. Has anything changed in the past six months to change your mind about whether you're more or less likely to?

TRUMP: There is no collusion. I didn't deal with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia with respect to my race. I won that race rather easily, and I can tell you that I think, frankly, 2020, I think it's going to be even better than we did in '16.

GLOR: But would you say you're more likely to sit for an interview now?

TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I've always wanted to do an interview, because, look, there's been no collusion. There's been no talk of Russia. There's been no phone call. There has been nothing. And it's -- I call it a witch-hunt. That's exactly what it is. It's a vicious witch-hunt. And you know what? It's very bad for our country, very, very bad for our country.


COOPER: Back now with Jeff Toobin, Carl Bernstein and Gloria Borger.

TOOBIN: Good Lord, what a pathetic interview. I'm sorry. He didn't -- you know, I would expect that from Fox News.

But the fact that Jeff Glor sat there and let him say all that stuff without following up, without saying, you know, why didn't you raise that with Putin? I just thought that was such a missed opportunity.

BERNSTEIN: Well, there are questions about collusion that ought to be raised. And, in fact, why won't this president of the United States allow the special prosecutor, Mr. Mueller, to come forth with his report and tell us whether there has been collusion or not? We have prima facie evidence of an attempted collusion with his son in the room in Trump Tower.

BORGER: Right.

BERNSTEIN: It is unambiguous. They were open to collusion. They were inviting collusion.

So, to listen to the president of the United States say there was no collusion, there was no collusion, let's let the facts come in, Mr. President. That is what he is unwilling to do, and that is why his friends who are closest to him, why people in the White House who are very worried about this stable genius right now say he's not so stable right now because of the special prosecutor's investigation, that in fact he is unhinged about this investigation and where he fears it may be going.

COOPER: Gloria, the president saying he wants to talk to the Mueller team because there was no collusion.

BERNSTEIN: Let him talk.

COOPER: Do you buy that he wants to talk to him? He said that --

BORGER: Not anymore.

COOPER: He put the onus obviously on his lawyers who could obviously overrule -- I mean, he could overrule them if he really wanted to talk to Mueller.

BORGER: Right, first of all, his lawyers do not want him to talk to Mueller, period, end of sentence. They know that it will be foolish. They know Donald Trump.

There have been occasions over the last six months when the president has said yes, I do want -- I do want the talk to Mueller. I think there was a little change in his attitude after his former attorney Michael Cohen's home and office were raided. He was really upset about that.

And I think now what's going on, and I was just talking to someone about this yesterday, a source about this yesterday, is that they're nowhere on this.

[20:25:07] And, you know, is Mueller slow-walking this? Maybe. Are the president's lawyers slow-walking this? Maybe.

In the end, you know, I'd wager this president just is not going to be allowed to testify by his attorneys no matter what he is saying publicly.

COOPER: Well, also, I mean, Jeff, if his attorneys or anyone at the White House has been watching what's happened over the last three days in which the president has repeatedly, if you believe the White House, misspoken or not said what we know he's said or just ad-libbed stuff that contradicts what was written for him, you can understand why they don't want him speaking to Robert Mueller or speaking to any world leader in a room alone because there's no telling what he's going to actually say, because actually, there is telling what he is going to say.

He's actually going to say what is actually in his mind as opposed to what has been written down for him because he cannot not say that. He can't stop himself.

TOOBIN: That's right. I mean, you don't need a fancy law degree to know that, you know, his relationship with the truth is only occasional. The -- and, you know, when you are under oath or even just talking to an FBI agent, you can't have Sarah Sanders come back and say when he said no, he actually meant I'm not answering questions, or, you know, go through that crazy nonsense with the double negatives on wood.

I mean, you know, this is serious business when you're talking to law enforcement officials.

COOPER: Unlike when you're talking to Vladimir Putin.

TOOBIN: I know.

COOPER: That's not too serious.


TOOBIN: But at least he's not under oath with Vladimir Putin.

BERNSTEIN: Let's think about what we're talking about for a minute. We are talking about the gravest doubts of the president of the United States --

COOPER: I know.

BERNSTEIN: -- being able to be truthful about almost anything, being able to be entrusted with the secrets of this country, being able to meet as a Republican official told you last night on the air. He does not want this president in the room with any world leader one-on-one. We are in a -- stop laughing. We are in a place that is really terribly, terribly frightening.

COOPER: Yes, and -- I mean --


COOPER: Yes, I mean, Gloria, it is. It's one of those things. It almost seems normal at this point --

BERNSTEIN: We're used to it.

COOPER: -- given all we have seen and heard.

BERNSTEIN: That's right.

COOPER: And, right, to Carl's point, we're kind of used to it. But it is important to step back every now and then and just -- you know, you have a Republican congressman saying I don't think the president should meet one-on-one with a world leader alone in a room with translators, you know.

BORGER: It's, you know, look, it's upsetting, and we hear it over and over and over again, so we tend to discount these things very often because, you know, we've been living through this for quite some time. I mean, when the president just said to Jeff Glor there was no talk of Russia during the campaign, you have to say, wait a minute, wait a minute, didn't you ask Russia to release Hillary Clinton's e-mails during the Democratic convention? Didn't we watch that?

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: For ourselves.

COOPER: With Russians claiming to work for the government, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton and your campaign chairman --

BORGER: Hello.

COOPER: -- and your son-in-law, you know.

BORGER: So we see these things. We're actually watching these things, and then we watch him deny them.

COOPER: What's interesting about lies of the president is that they are -- and it's been this way since the campaign. They're predicated on him believing everybody who is listening is really dumb and that he is so smart that he, you know, he is a stable genius, he's got the best words, that he's pulling the wool over everybody's eyes, that we're just so gullible, we'll go -- he can explain anything.

TOOBIN: Well, and it's also he believes in the power of representation.

COOPER: And he is right about that.

TOOBIN: He is right about that. How many times have we all heard him say there was no collusion, there was no collusion?

COOPER: Witch-hunt.

TOOBIN: Witch-hunt, no collusion.

BERNSTEIN: He writes I call it truthful hyperbole. He writes this in his own supposed autobiography about his exaggerations.


BERNSTEIN: Exactly. You get the point you. Get the point.

BORGER: I have to say, the words "witch-hunt" now seem a little hollow after this, after this past week. You know, you can keep saying witch-hunt all you want, but you had the director of the FBI just moments ago out in Aspen say he does not believe it is a witch- hunt.

BERNSTEIN: Can I make one last point here?

COOPER: Very quickly.

BERNSTEIN: The reporting organizations need to make the Republican Party our big story now and what these Republicans are saying to each other. "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," CNN, Fox, all of us, that is the story because these Republicans are saying to each other what you are hearing tonight.

COOER: Right, but they're saying it like this, under cover.

BERNSTEIN: But we need to report on that. We need to do better reporting.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, Gloria Borger, Jeff Toobin, thank you.


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- Republicans are saying to each other what you are hearing tonight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Right, but they're saying it like this, under cover.

BERNSTEIN: But we need to report on that. We need to do better reporting.

COOPER: Right. Carl Bernstein, Gloria Borger, Jeff Toobin, thank you.

Coming up next, more from that CBS interview. We've been talking about another talk (ph) by President Trump, with the former director of National Intelligence, I'll talked with the former of director of National Intelligence, Retired Lieutenant General James Clapper when we continue. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More of our breaking news tonight in that CBS news interview President Trump lashed out at the leadership of America's intelligence agencies before he became President. As always, even though you might seem used it by now, the language is both harsh and remarkable to hear from a sitting President.


JEFF GLOR, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think any intelligence agencies, U.S. intelligence agencies are out to get you?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, certainly in the past it's been terrible. You look at Brennan, you look at Clapper, you look at Hayden, you look at Comey, you look at McCabe, you look at Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page. You look at other people in the FBI that have been fired, that are no longer there. Certainly I can't have any confidence in the past, but I can have a lot of confidence in the present and the future, because it's getting to be now where we're putting our people in. But in the past, no, I have no confidence in a guy like Brennan. I think he's total low life. I have no confidence in Clapper.

You know, Clapper wrote me a beautiful letter when I first went to office, and it was really nice. And then all of the sudden he's gone haywire because they got to him and they probably got him to say things that maybe he doesn't even mean. But no, I certainly don't have confidence in past people. You look at what's happened. Take a look at all of the shenanigans that have gone on very hard to have confidence in that group.


COOPER: Joining me by phone is former director of National Intelligence, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper.

Director Clapper, the President saying they have gotten to you since you wrote that gorgeous, beautiful letter to him. Has anyone gotten to you?

JAMES CLAPPER, FMR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, absolutely not, Anderson. I mean everything I say, and everything I said, I mean.

COOPER: The 2017 assessment that the President says he now agrees with, that was done while you and then NCI Director John Brennan were still in office. So, how can we reconcile the President attacking you, but apparently after a very long time finally, allegedly saying -- or saying he allegedly agrees with the product of the intelligence community that you, yourself oversaw?

CLAPPER: Yes, well, this is -- yes, as we've come to know the President, he is not a stalwart for a consistency or coherence. So it's very hard to explain that. [20:35:06] One point I'd like to make, Anderson, that I don't think has come up very much before, and I'm alluding now to the President's criticism of President Obama for all that he did or didn't do before he left office with respect to the Russian meddling. If it weren't for President Obama, we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set off a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today, notably, special counsel Mueller's investigation.

President Obama is responsible for that, and it was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assess in the first place. And they got the important point when it comes to critiquing President Obama.

COOPER: You know, the President says, well, now, you know, he's put his own people in charge in the intelligence community, he's confidence in the intelligence community now. But when you talk about the intelligence community, I mean yes, there are people who he has appointed at the top, but underneath them, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of employees who are career employees who have, you know, listened in on -- you know, signals intelligence and intercepts and have written analyses and who have been in the field as case officers.

It's the same intelligence community. There may be different people at the top, but the people who are at the top are still standing by the assessment that was made when it's the people he says he didn't trust.

CLAPPER: Exactly. That is a great point. Well, the strength of the U.S. intelligence community is the continuity and the professionalism of our career rank and file great men and women who do it -- do the things that you just described, and they don't change. So, yes, the top layer, there have been some changes there, a couple of key changes. Notably, CIA director, now the second one since Trump took office, and of course the director of national intelligence.

But the institution itself, there's great continuity which is an important strength for this country.

COOPER: I want to play a clip of something that FBI director Christopher Wray said in Aspen in just within the last hour. Let's play that.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: The intelligence community's assessment has not changed. My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election, and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.


COOPER: So that's just hours after the President very obviously said no twice to an ABC reporter when she asked whether he believes the Russian interference is ongoing. And Sarah Sanders walked it back. And, you know, I mean I guess -- you know, frankly what just seems to be an absurd way, saying the President was for the first time ever just saying no, no more questions when in fact he didn't say no, no more questions. He just said no and thank you very much.

I mean, to hear Chris Wray, I mean he is, you know, he's obviously an honorable person, and but he is saying what he believes, but it certainly contradict what's the President seems to believe.

CLAPPER: Well, yes. And to his credit as well as that of Dan Coats for speaking up and speaking truth to power, which by the way was the subject of the, "beautiful letter", that President Trump alluded to in his CBS interview. And it is not a witch-hunt. It is a serious, serious investigation, the catalyst for which was the intelligence community assessment that we did in the last administration.

COOPER: General Clapper, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, more from that CBS interview about what went on behind closed doors with Vladimir Putin, what the President says went on. We have no idea, of course, because there is no record. A former CIA officer brings his perspective on why it matters what was said.


[20:42:51] COOPER: More tonight from President Trump's interview with CBS News. Here he is defending both what he said at Helsinki, and once again chastising the press.


GLOR: On Saturday, you told us your doctrine is strength and achieve peace through strength.

TRUMP: Right.

GLOR: After Helsinki, Lindsey Graham said you showed weakness. He's been --

TRUMP: Well, let me just --

GLOR: -- the most serious mistake of your presidency.

TRUMP: Let me just, I totally disagree. I think I did great at the news conference. I think it was a strong news conference. You have people that said you should have gone up to him, you should have walked up and started screaming in his face. We're living in the real world, OK.

GLOR: Who gives you the best advice? When you come back and you read all these stories and you say what the fuss is all about, who do you talk to?

TRUMP: I will tell you, I don't know what the fuss is all about. I think we did extremely well, and I think the press makes up -- look, its fake news, and people understand. I think the press largely makes up a lot of the fuss about a lot of things. And I'm not talk about one of it, I'm talking about everything. It's crazy.

You do something that's positive and they try and make it as negative as possible. Not all. And I have to say this. Some of the most honorable people I know, some great people are reporters, journalists, et cetera, but the level of dishonesty in your profession is extremely high.

GLOR: But the press covered the substance and the wording of that press conference.

TRUMP: I don't care what they covered. They didn't cover my meeting. The important thing frankly was the meeting that lasted for two and a half hours or almost two and a half hours. And in that meeting we discussed many, many things that were very, very positive for both countries.


COOPER: We'd have been happy to cover it if we knew what was discussed. We would have been happy to be in the room to watch what was happening. But of course, that didn't happen or even have a read- out or even have a recording or even have other people in the room with credibility who might be able to say what happened.

With me now to discuss it is Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former -- senior CIA officer who once served in Moscow. He is now the director of Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard's Belfer Center. Thanks so much for being with us, Rolf.

The President saying, that the President isn't talking about the one on one meeting, obviously wouldn't allow us to cover it. He says that's the most important thing that the internationally broadcast press conference isn't the thing to focus on. Put aside for a second what he said at the press conference. How interested or even concerned are you about what happened in that one-on-one meeting, given what we saw publicly happen?

[20:45:15] ROLF MOWATT-LARSSEN, DIRECTOR OF THE INTELLIGENCE PROJECT, BELFER CENTER: The problem with the President holding a two-hour one- on-one meeting in which all the substance is discussed and no one is the beneficiary of that discussion is, its very difficult for any progress to actually be made in doing what the President says he wants to do, which is pursue relations across the board with the Russians.

How does the U.S. intelligence community, State Department, Defense Department, and everyone else involved, all those policy advisers, take notes from an interpreter and translate that into action and implementable programs? It's a -- it raises questions of the President's real motivations for holding the entire meeting in secret with President Putin.

COOPER: And -- I mean I think it may surprise a lot of people that there isn't some recording that the secretary of state can listen to or, you know, anybody else around the President can listen to. They have to rely on the President telling them exactly word for word what he said to Vladimir Putin and what Vladimir Putin said to him. MOWATT-LARSSEN: And it's a very questionable approach, and it's a very dubious approach in terms, again, of fulfilling whatever the two Presidents discussed. If I take this at face value, which frankly is very difficult for me at this point, I still would have to question the idea of going into a crucial meeting like that between the two Presidents that discusses the range of problems we have across the board and what limited areas of cooperation there might be, and then walking out the meeting and say it went great and we're going to pursue a lot of things and no one knows what that means.

And remember, if you look back over history, all progress made between the U.S. and Russia in our bilateral cooperation, you go back to the Reagan years and even earlier, are based on -- was based on two principles. Number one is we came at the Russians from a position of strength, not supplication. And number two is we developed very strong processes and mechanisms by which our two governments were able to negotiate for years to achieve the results we achieved in the cold war. I don't see how you can do that with the approach that the President just took in Helsinki.

COOPER: I mean, I've done, you know, two-hour plus interviews with somebody in a foreign language with simultaneous translation, and I could not give, without looking at the transcript, which is, you know, recorded and printed out, an accurate description of exactly what was said, and that's an interview. That's not something where word for word matters because the words that Vladimir Putin uses, he's obviously very well read on, you know, everything concerning Russia and what he wants.

MOWATT-LARSSEN: Well, Anderson, the other problem, as you -- I think correctly identified is that you can be certain -- I say it's with some certitude that the Russians do have that recording and are in fact translating everything that occurred in that meeting to their advantage now and whatever their -- however they're planning to use it. And it raises a question in my mind as to what the Russian motivation is. When you saw President Trump in Helsinki, it suggested to me that the Russians may have abandoned, really, all pretense of pursuing any improvement in our bilateral relations.

And maybe that's why they're trying to divide the President from our nation by essentially supporting him and increasing, if you will, his own tendency to not trust his intelligence community and his own government in dealing with President Putin.

COOPER: You actually think that -- I mean that's really an intelligence operation that -- if that's true, that they were running in this summit in Helsinki.

MOWATT-LARSSEN: I think it's a possibility. I don't it's my -- I say too will, it's a subjective --

COOPER: Right, I understand that.

MOWATT-LARSSEN: -- hunch I have. But here's the reason I'm concerned about that is after the meddling and with the degree to which the Russians clearly meddled, and to the degree to which they're still interfering and trying to destroy Democratic processes and institutions, can they really believe there is much hope of improving relations with us? I find it entirely plausible that in lieu of really trying to improve relations, the Russian agenda shifted. And the agenda now is to let the --


[20:53:50] COOPER: Tonight you heard the President concede that Russia attacked the very thing that makes this country what it is, yet he can't call the man who did it the liar for you know, well, lying about it. And earlier today the President had this to say in defense of Vladimir Putin. "Some people hate the fact i got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump derangement syndrome."

Perspective now from Tony Schwartz who notice Trump thinks. He was the ghost writer for the President's 1987 best-selling book, or his best-selling book the "Art of the Deal."

Tony, thanks again for being with us. So, I mean knowing the President as you do, and you and I have talked about it a lot, has this week surprised you so far? Have you seen the President go this far before?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO- AUTHOR, ART OF THE DEAL: It has surprised me. It didn't surprise me that he wouldn't come out of the meeting and say something critical or that he wouldn't have confronted Putin, but it surprised me that he sided with him against our own intelligence so brazenly. That's the word that really occurs to me. Because ultimately, it's -- even though he thinks it's in his interest, it is undeniably self-destructive. He doesn't care if he's destructive to others. Literally doesn't care. But in his heart of hearts, he's trying to protect himself, and he did not do that.

[20:55:07] COOPER: I want to read a quote from you in a "New Yorker" article from 2016 before Mr. Trump became President in which you say, he lies strategically, he had a complete lack of conscience about it. Since most people are constrained by the truth, you talked about Trump's indifference to it "gave him a strange advantage." I can't believe I'm saying this. Does the President view lying as one of his strengths?

SCHWARTZ: I don't think he would put it that way, and I think -- here's the thing. You have to understand that Donald Trump more so now than at any time during the presidency, but it's always been true, creates his own reality inside the bubble of his brain. And it is -- has nothing to do with what's going on in the real world. It's whatever he says it is to himself at any given time.

So no, he doesn't say lying is one of my strengths. He says quite the opposite, reality is one of my strengths and the rest is fake news. I mean he actually called -- he said that the whole coverage of this was fake news. But Fox was reporting it and Matt Drudge was reporting it just the way what he calls the mainstream media was reporting it.

So essentially what he's saying is reality as you describe it, the rest of the world, is wrong, and as I describe it's right. And by the way, how I describe it in this moment, as we've seen multiple times over the last several days, how I describe it in this moment has very little to do with how I'll describe it four hours from now.

COOPER: But also --

SCHWARTZ: And you can't bring that up.

COOPER: Important to point out it was two reporters, one from Reuters, one from the AP, just asking simple direct questions during that press conference that had the President so flummoxed and saying exactly what he thought, which was so devastating for him.

SCHWARTZ: Yes. And what's so interesting about Trump in the way he deals with the truth is that when he is in his most impulsive, reactive, angry moments that's when he tends to tell the truth. That's when he tends to actually say what he means, as he did at that news conference. When he is thinking about it, much less reading something, he is then almost always lying.

COOPER: The President also claimed in that interview with Jeff Glor on CBS Tonight that he has agreed numerous times with the intelligence community's assessment of Russia's meddling, which is not true. And he's always equivocated or given some sort of caveat just as he did when he was reading from a prepared text yesterday, he had to ad-lib, well, it could have also been other people.

SCHWARTZ: Yes. So if I pick up this bottle of water and I say to you, look, this is a bottle of ketchup, if journalists then said -- report that as Mr. Trump said that this was a bottle of ketchup and treat it as objective, we're being objective because we're reporting what he said, I believe that what reporters now need to start doing is saying in response to his outright and undeniable lies, that's not true and move on. Not debate the question of how could he see it that way or, for example, when he took back, you know, what he said at the press conference.

COOPER: Right.

SCHWARTZ: It was clearly a boldfaced lie. Why have hours and hours of discussion about it? You know what the proper response to it is? Trump lied again. Now let's move on.

COOPER: It's also interesting just how much bragging goes into the President's rhetoric. I just want to put up a tweet for a moment from earlier this month. The President said, "after having written many best-selling books and somewhat priding myself on my ability to write it should be noted that the fake news constantly likes to pore over my tweets looking for a mistake. I capitalize certain words only for emphasis, not because they should be capitalized." Is that how you remember the process of "The Art of the Deal," Donald Trump's pride in his ability to write?

SCHWARTZ: Thank you for that opportunity, Anderson. No. Donald Trump wrote not one word of "The Art of the Deal." He made a few marks on the manuscript in red, mostly taking names out that he didn't want to either criticize or he didn't want to praise that I had written, and otherwise I wrote it. Donald Trump has never written a book. Donald Trump has never written much of anything short of a letter. And he doesn't read. So the idea that he would say he's written multiple best-selling books, first of all, most of them have been abject failures.

Second of all, he hasn't written any of them. And third of all, I doubt that he's read most of them, or almost any of them. And he is not somebody who either writes or reads. So that's just craziness.

COOPER: Tony Schwartz, good to have you on again. I appreciate it.

Reminder, don't miss our new interactive daily newscast on Facebook, you can watch. It's called "The Full Circle" weeknights at 6:25 p.m. eastern time, just go to That's all one word. I'll see you there tomorrow. And again in 8:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN.

[21:00:06] The news continues, I want to have over to Chris, "CUOMO PRIMETIME", start now. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I like the black suit, white shirt and black tie --

COOPER: I know I'm copying you.

CUOMO: I may start wearing at my side I wear tonight.