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White House Ends Practice of Summarizing Calls with Foreign Leaders; Interview with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 24, 2018 - 20:00   ET


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

Today on Russia, it was a whole new President Trump. He called out the Kremlin for election interference. He said it plainly, without any hedging at all, except his version of Russian interference doesn't exactly square with reality.

I'm very concerned, he tweeted, that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming election. So if he left his tweet right there, you might think well finally, finally, he is actually expressing concern about Russia attacking our democracy again. If you left it right there, you might think the president is finally unambiguously saying what multiple intelligence agencies have been saying, that Russia remains interested in attacking the upcoming U.S. elections.

But he didn't end it there. He then added this. Based on the fact that no president has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don't want Trump. They didn't don't want Trump, he said.

Even though last week, Russia's president admitted he did favor Mr. Trump, at least in the last election, which is what intelligence agencies had been saying for a long time, but Putin finally admitted it.


REPORTER: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.


COOPER: OK. So, now, suddenly, President Trump says the Russians actually don't like him, despite what President Putin just said. Which is weird because not only did Putin say he liked Trump in the last election, President Trump in that same press conference in Helsinki said that because of that Helsinki summit, relations with Russia had suddenly changed in matter of hours. He said that. It was recorded. Everyone heard that. Let's play it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed, as of about four hours ago.


COOPER: OK. So was that true? The truth is we have no idea because we still have no solid word on what the two presidents actually talked about behind closed doors. But if it was true then, how come it's no longer true now and they suddenly want the Democrats? What changed since Helsinki, if anything?

And when it comes to Russian interference for President Trump, what changed from all the times he's undercut the idea that Russia interfered in the election at all?


TRUMP: I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

Maybe there is no hack, but they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia, because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia.

They have no idea if it's Russia or China, or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.

As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.

Knowing something about hacking, if you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hashed to say who did the hack.

Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.

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: So, as recently as a week ago, the president could not simply acknowledge what happened the last time around, according to intelligence agencies. When it comes to next election, though, suddenly, he is all in. All in that for some reason the Russians now want the Democrats to win.

So, did the president somehow develop new faith in the intelligence since speaking to Vladimir Putin? It doesn't seem like it, because the president is still attacking the intelligence community. Just yesterday, he launched plans to yank the security clearances of former top intelligence officials, some of whom were the very people who warned him about Russian interference during the 2016 campaign.

He continues to attack the Russia probe, calls the Russia story a hoax, but now he is also warning about the Russian threat, except with this Democratic twist. So what changed?

Well, today, Secretary of State Pompeo was asked what happened behind closed doors between the two presidents.


REPORTER: What is your understanding of the agreements that were made between President Trump and President Putin there?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president has been clear about some of the things that were agreed to. We're going to put together a business council. We'll start processes. There were many things that came from what I view as an incredibly important meeting between President Trump and President Putin, one that I'm -- I think the world will have benefitted from when history is written.


COOPER: Not easy to write history, though, when there is no one actually taking notes. In any case, it's hard to glean much from that. In fact, Pompeo doesn't say he knows all of what was discussed. He said the president has been clear about some of the things that were agreed, which means also he hasn't been clear about all the things that were agreed to. He said that many things came from this important meeting, but really offers zero specifics on what they might be.

Maybe you're thinking too much into what Pompeo just said and didn't say. But yesterday, the White House wouldn't talk about the secretary of state or the Secretary of Defense Mattis had been told about the meeting that neither one of them attended.


[20:05:10] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has met and spoken with all of those individuals since his meeting with President Putin.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Are you relying solely on his own memory to tell what happened during that two-hour meeting?

SANDERS: The president has met and consulted with all of his national security team, and we feel very confident in the process.

COLLINS: It's on what he remembers happened.

SANDERS: Kaitlan, I'm not going to go into the specific details on how the president interacts every single time with his national security team.


COOPER: Well, notice she said the president has met and spoken with his national security team, but were they actually fully briefed by the president on exactly what was said or agreed to between him and Putin? We have no idea. And the White House isn't even claiming he fully briefed them. They just said he met and spoke with them.

Not surprisingly, the Russians have been eager to fill this information vacuum. Russia's ambassador saying Presidents Trump and Putin reached key unwritten deals during their talk which focused he says on Syria and Ukraine. So, that's where we're at tonight, Russia's leader suddenly seeming more transparent than America's. And if that does not make you concerned, I'm not sure what will.

Late today, the White House took a big step toward reducing their already limited transparency even further.

Jeff Zeleny joins us now with more on that.

So, what have you learned, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're learning tonight that the White House is going to change its policy toward reading out these phone calls and these meetings that the president makes with foreign leaders. Our Kaitlan Collins is reporting tonight that the White House is either temporarily or permanently changing its practice of sending out those read-outs of meeting.

Now, this is separate from the Helsinki summit, but this is also very interesting and very important for this reason -- the president, of course, talks to many world leaders, but they've not always been as good as previous presidents in terms of reading out and explaining the fact that the phone call happened for one, and two, what happened on the call. But we're told now tonight the White House is changing its policy and will not be automatically releasing those calls.

And it's really causing alarm from people from Republican and Democratic administrations. And this is why. If the U.S. is not releasing a read-out of that phone call, it allows the other foreign government to essentially explain the call on their own terms and set their own explanation of this. So, it, of course, is sort of begs the question of why this administration would like to do this.

We know the president likes to have these phone calls in executive time, it's called. It's his morning time he spends in his residence, talking to some foreign leaders. But now, if this policy holds, we will not know who he is talking to until we hear from the other side. But, Anderson, every government in this world, of course, some strong men and others, will not release that.

So this is an extraordinary step, never done before, at least in recent years by a U.S. president.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, again, it's a chipping away at any transparency.


COOPER: There was no readout obviously after the Putin meeting. Do we get the White House to release any more information about what actually went on inside that room?

ZELENY: We don't. And the story, frankly, has become the fact that we do not know what else was discussed. You heard the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, talking there earlier today. He called it an incredibly important meeting.

That's about the extent of the readout that we have gotten from the meeting. We have gotten for from the Russian side in terms of what they talked about generally. But, Anderson, this could change tomorrow. The secretary of state is going to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is going to be grilled tomorrow on exactly what happened in the meeting.

So, he'll have to have some type of answer. You know, this is going to be in a public forum here. But as of now, the White House has given very scant information about what has happened privately. Of course, everything publicly has changed several times. So who knows what happened privately.

COOPER: And as far as the next meeting between President Trump and Putin, has anything been agreed upon?

ZELENY: It has not. The Kremlin today acknowledged that they had been invited. But that was one, you know, incredible step short of accepting the invitation. And this could be something of an embarrassment for the White House if the Kremlin does not accept it.

This was, you know, extended. The invitation was extended very hastily last week on Twitter. John Bolton, the national security adviser, was instructed by the president to invite Putin here to Washington. That was not received that well by Republicans, certainly on Capitol Hill. Speaker Paul Ryan said today Vladimir Putin is not welcome on Capitol Hill. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, said this meeting should not happen. It should be placed on the back burner.

So, we do not know if the meet will happen, when it will happen. But if the Kremlin does not accept the president's invitation, Anderson, that will certainly make the White House look sort of foolish. Usually, all of these things are agreed upon privately before they're announced publicly -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

Reaction now to the latest move by the White House, as well as the president's claim that Russia is now targeting Democrats -- working for Democrats. Joining us is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

So, Congressman Schiff, I'm wondering what your reaction to this move by the White House to stop announcing calls with foreign leaders. To some people, it may not sound like a big deal. It certainly sounds like chipping away at transparency.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It certainly is chipping away at transparency and I think it's the cumulative impact of some of his conversations -- leaking in the past, leaking do not congratulate Putin, and then of course he goes and congratulates him.

[20:10:09] This is a president who doesn't trust his own staff, doesn't trust really anybody around him. This is why I think he wanted to go into that meeting with Putin without any witnesses.

And, you know, watching Mike Pompeo and Sarah Huckabee Sanders try to answer the question, what did the president commit to, or what did they even discuss, you know, it's not difficult to read between the lines, both of them saying basically we have no idea. We really have no idea what they talked about, except in the most general terms.

Well, I guarantee you the Russians have a very specific idea of what the president had to say. And they are framing that discussion now in the absence of any commentary by the United States. And this is the other problem, that is if they cease to do any readouts of phone conversations, we may not know they take place at all. And if they do take place and a foreign government decides to set the agenda of what was discussed, we won't have necessarily any push-back from the United States.

COOPER: It's -- I mean, it's also amazing that -- I mean, in any other time, you know, a one-on-one meeting with a foreign leader might not seem like such a dangerous thing for a president of the United States to do, but the idea that it's President Trump is the one who would be briefing the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, anybody at the White House about what was actually discussed when we know the president has in the past said things to Sarah Sanders or others that turned out not to be the case or he reversed it later after they went out publicly and said, well, this is what happened, and then the president undercuts them the very next day.

So, if he's the only narrator of events to the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, he's not necessarily the most reliable of narrators.

SCHIFF: Well, that's certainly the case, even when he says things publicly, he tries to reinvent them afterwards. Even when he said would, he now he she's meant wouldn't. Of course, there is nobody to correct the record on anything that was said privately with Vladimir Putin.

But this is -- this is just it. The president really doesn't want a witness. He's not willing to stand behind publicly what he is saying privately, and that ought to concern all of us, because we've already seen the damage that he did publicly.

But it's extraordinary. You know, even as a member of Congress, I know this is true for my colleagues, when we have important meetings, we want someone else there, in large part because if there is follow- up to be done, we don't want to rely solely on our own recollection. We also don't want to rely solely on our impression of what the other party said.

So, I always want staff present and to be able to say, OK, how do we operationalize this and what than, and what did you think of this comment? We're getting none of the benefit of that. The president is getting none of the benefit of that. And I think that is obviously to the detriment of our country.

COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of the president's invitation to Putin to come to the White House this fall.

Ambassador Nikki Haley very clearly today said that the U.S. doesn't trust Putin or Russia. I'm not sure she is speaking for the president there. She also said you can't get to the end of the other side if you don't have those conversations, meaning those kind of conversations with Russia's leader.

Is there a chance another meeting could be a good thing?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, if the Russians are hesitant at all a, it's because the Helsinki summit could not have gone better for them, and they may view this as an effort by the president to somehow redeem himself.

But in terms of Ambassador Nikki Haley's comments, she often strikes me as the ambassador to the United Nations from a country of her imagination, representing a president of her imagination who bears no resemblance to this president, because plainly, what she's articulating is not the view of this president. This president thinks Putin is a chum and admires his strength and talks about the strengths of his denials.

In the Trump world, if you deny something, it didn't happen. That's all that matters. People admit anything are just losers. But, of course, that's not how the real world works.

COOPER: And last, I just want to ask about the president's tweet today that Russia will be pushing, in his words, very hard for Democrats in the midterms because nobody has been tougher on Russia than President Trump.

Does that -- I mean, I don't know where that's coming from. It just seems in stark contrast to what Putin said last week and what Mr. Trump himself said last week, which is, you know, in the four hours since the summit began, you know, there's been essentially a reset on relations.

SCHIFF: Well, honestly, Anderson, where it comes from is the fifth grade. It's a version of I know you are but what am I.

For this president to claim nobody is tougher on Russia, this president who has denigrated NATO and sought to weaken Europe and who has praised Putin who has talked about inviting Russia back into the G8, who has basically diminished their invasion of their neighbor, he has a dream come true for the Russians.

[20:15:03] And the idea that oh, the Russians definitely don't want Mr. Difficult, Tough Trump is a complete fiction. And it would be laughable if it was coming from somebody other than the president of the United States.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Philip Bump from "The Washington Post" made the point today that this week could be kind of laying the groundwork for the president to blame Russia if the Democrats take the House or the Senate in November.

SCHIFF: Well, you know, that's always a possibility, that he is laying the mattress to blame the Russians for a loss in the midterms. But honestly, I think that may give him more credit than is due. I think this is just what the president does, which is whatever you level against me, I level back at you, but I do it doubly hard. That seems to be what's going on here.

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

SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Joining us now, CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer. Also, CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers, former House Intelligence Committee chairman.

Chairman Rogers, I'm wondering what you make of this move by the White House to end the practice of publicly disclosing calls with foreign leaders.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: You know, listen, I think it's very, very worse for a couple of reasons. So, if, in fact, that there were concessions -- remember, Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia said there were important concession made by the president of the United States or the United States, and then this week we found out through a third party that the president had called Turkey, he had called Israel, which tells me, hmm, something is cooking on Syria, I just think finding out from foreign partners is always a bad idea. It advantages their narrative.

And with Vladimir Putin, we have to understand something. This guy is a master at information warfare. And so, any advantage he has in that, and that's not targeting the United States necessarily, foreign intelligence service, people who are cooperating with the CIA around the world, they're going to get messages that are very, very different than they might hear today. That's what concerns me about really shutting down the ability for the United States to put its spin on these phone calls so that you don't get this problem where somebody walks out and said oh, the United States made serious concessions here.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Bob, it does seem like the White House and the president just don't place, A, all that much importance on transparency, and don't necessarily trust the people around them.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, exactly, Anderson. He looks at the federal bureaucracy as the deep state. He truly believes that.

He doesn't trust the National Security Council. He doesn't trust rank and file State Department. He didn't want a transcript from Helsinki because he was convinced it would leak out.

He's doing foreign policy himself, and relying on his memory, of course, is not going to work. And you have Vladimir Putin, who I have no doubt made a transcript of that meeting and is going around the Kremlin now and say look what I won. He has gone out to the oligarchs and said, look, this is a great breakthrough. Sanctions are going to come off. Who knows what he is saying?

But one-sided like this, we just don't know what the president agreed to, and the Russians are out. You can trust it in the Ukraine and Syria saying, I got everything I want. You guys give up now. The Americans are on our side.

It's undermining our foreign policy.

COOPER: You know, Chairman Rogers, it's an interesting idea and other former intelligence people have also suggested the idea that the Russians may have a recording from inside that meeting. What's significant about that, not only to Bob Baer's point, but also if, in fact, the president then came out, or the White House came out and said, well, this is what happened in that meeting, here are the things that were discussed, and then it turns out that's at odds with, you know, a transcript that comes out of Russia or a recording that comes out of Russia. That would be damaging for the president and for the credibility of the presidency.

ROGERS: It would. But I don't think how this is going to play out. I think Putin had this thing scripted pretty well.

He gets to come out and say anything he wants that happened in that meeting. He gets to talk about the fact, again, when Lavrov came out and said really big concessions were made by the United States. He didn't say what they were. So now they get toto over the next few days, few weeks, they get to dribble out what they want as far as concession and say, well, really, that's what happened in this meeting.

I'm guessing that if there was a recording, it probably went in the bottom of the drawer, because remember, let's say that Putin comes in and says, you know that referendum in Ukraine, we caught to talk about that. And Trump, remember, this is the guy who walked out of this meeting and thought it was great idea to turn over U.S. citizens to the Russians for interrogation, including a former ambassador.

So, if in that meeting, you can only imagine he is not prepared for the meeting. He said that. He probably doesn't have a great grasp because he wasn't getting briefed by his entire of his National Security Council and national security team.

So, Putin says how about that referendum in Ukraine. He says yes, that's something we should talk about. Bam, he comes out and Putin gets to define that. He gets to say guess what? He agreed to some referendum in Ukraine

about should Russia be there or not. I guarantee you that was on Russian terms, not U.S. terms.

[20:20:02] That's why this kind of an action to me is really soft mark. It's boneheaded. You have great people around you. The president needs to listen to them. And this needs to be a policy.

And I think Bob was right when he said he's kind of going at it alone.


ROGERS: He really wants to go at it alone in Turkey. He wants to go at it alone in Israel, because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else in the room.

You know, my mother always said when you're the smartest guy in the room or you think you are, time to find a new room. I just think the president needs to slow down and think about the consequences of what he's doing.

COOPER: I mean, just listening to you talk, I got to say, it's nuts that this is real, that this is actually -- I mean, this is what we're discussing, you know, we're not talking about some college student. This is the president of the United States, the most important decisions facing the country. It's kind of stunning.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going have more with Bob Baer and Mike Rogers.

Also the latest on singer Demi Lovato, who was rushed to the hospital today after apparently overdosing on drugs.

We'll be right back.


[20:25:05] COOPER: Talking tonight about transparency of the White House, or these days the shortage or lack thereof. And tonight, it looks to be shrinking further.

As we've been reporting, the White House has stopped publishing public summaries or readouts of the president's phone calls with world leaders. That's on top of really the little we know about the summit in Helsinki, what actually came out of that the private meeting, no joint communique, no readout of what happened from the White House, no clarification, how much even the president's top cabinet secretaries might know what was said eight days ago.

That's not to say that Presidents Trump and Putin are the only ones that knew what happened. According to a new reporting in "Politico", there's a little known top secret U.S. collection service that specializes in tapping adversaries' communications on the fly. It's called the Special Collection Service.

Back to talk about it to the extent they can, if at all, Bob Baer and Mike Rogers.

So, Bob, gathering this intelligence, I don't know, is there anything you can say about how that would work? And, I mean, I assume the U.S. in the past has intercepted Russian communications, and that's one way for them to hear what happened in this meeting between the presidents.

BAER: Well, Anderson, if there was a transcript, it would have been sent back to Moscow in diplomatic communications. It would be highly encrypted. We're not going to ever see that. I would -- that would surprise me.

But on the other hand, what we do know about the Russians, people in the inner circle of Putin do get on the telephone and talk, whether they think it's encrypted or not. We can pick this up, and we can pick up bits and pieces of it, at least Putin's version of the meeting. And so, the intelligence community, the best read they're going to get at the National Security Agency is from these intercepted phone calls. And that's not a great secret, by the way.

COOPER: Right. I should point out --

BAER: The Russians are very --

COOPER: I should point out what you're saying is well-known to the Russians. It's obviously in the past, there has been lots of reporting about intercepts even in the --

BAER: Yes.

COOPER: -- the indictments against the Russians talk about overhearing phone conversations.

BAER: Exactly, Anderson. There -- you know, the Russians are sloppy. What can I say? It's not the old KGB. They talk on the phone. They gossip, the oligarchs in the Kremlin talk about it.

Just like the Steele report, the first dossier on Trump was picked up thanks to these -- a lot of intercepts and gossiping.

So, we're going to hear some version of that meeting, and the National Security Agency is the place to pick up those transcripts.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, Sarah Huckabee Sanders did say yesterday the president has met and spoken with his national security adviser, the secretary of state, the director of national intelligence, the defense secretary since his meeting with Putin. We don't know what he told them. She didn't say yes, he briefed them, he gave them a complete rundown, he told them word for word what was set, just that they met and spoke.

If any of this conversation with Putin, we just don't know if it was disclosed.

ROGERS: I hate to say it, but it was hard to watch the secretary of state try to walk through that minefield today, and it was very clear that he still doesn't have a good appreciation of what happened in that meeting -- to me, at least, from watching his comments.

And this is why this is a problem, again. If you recall when the president came back from North Korea said, hey, denuclearization, it's all done, you know, here we go. I don't know what the big deal was. We got this done.

And about 30 seconds later, the North Koreans were saying oh, no, no, we never agreed to that. We never agreed to that.

And so, you're going to get the same thing. So if the president comes out and says, hey, I got an agreement from Putin to do -- to completely pull out of Syria and give us -- take Assad with them, guarantee you that the Russians are going to say, no, I would never agree to that, even if that was the discussion. We don't know.

That's why these meetings are so dangerous when you just kind of wing it and go on your own. That's why you need the complete national security infrastructure around you to have these discussions, so that you don't walk yourself into this problem.


ROGERS: And that is another. This is why I think the president did away with the announcing at least the kind of -- and by the way, these reports from these foreign leader phone calls pretty boring stuff. But what it does, it just -- it puts everybody on the same -- the same page. That's really important as you're trying to move forward in these really delicate negotiations.

COOPER: Mike Rogers, Bob Baer, thank you. Good discussion.

Coming up next, why the president's speech to veterans today made one former White House insider think of authoritarian regimes instead of American presidents. David Gergen talks about that.

And the president's call to disregard what you see on the news or what you hear.


[20:33:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We certainly spend a lot of time here just trying to keep up with the flood of news, which is hard enough when elected officials limit our view with the facts or try to distort it. It's harder still when public officials routinely engage in gas lighting, which you know is the act of trying to convince people that what they see happening is not actually happening. And as you can see in the banner below me we actually have a little thing going on in this program, were we trying keep count of the gas lighting which rare though is when those same public officials, in this case, the President, are as explicit about it as the President was today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And just remember what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.


COOPER: I just want to take a moment here that was the President of the United States. The President of the United States, talking to men and women who fought for this country, telling them not to trust what they see and hear. Just listen to it again.


TRUMP: And just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.


COOPER: Joining me for their take on all, this CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

David, for the President of the United States to tell people to stop believing what they see or what they read, it's what dictators, it's what authoritarian rulers say. I mean it's kind of unbelievable in the truest sense of the word. It reminds me of, you know, there was a quote from Orwell in 1984. He said the party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears, it was their final most essential command. So, it really sounds a lot like what the President is saying.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm afraid you're right, Anderson. The -- as healthy democracy depends heavily upon a robust debate with different points of view being freely expressed. That's the whole essence of the first amendment. And the President for a while now, but more relentlessly and coyly is trying to suppress the voices of democracy, suppress the voices of the press, You know, denigrate the press. You can't believe what you hear or see, only believe me. Listen to us, stick with us.

[20:35:08] This comes on -- this from a President who routinely lies, you know, five, six, seven times a day according to various studies by the "Washington Post" and others. He issues mostly, you know, are untruthful statements. So it's sort of the height of hypocrisy in some ways too, but it also comes, Anderson, I'll be brief, it comes on the heels of just saying yesterday that the White House wants to strip national security officials of the past from any access to confidential information if they are critical of him. That's the standard. We've never done that before. We only strip people of their security clearances when they violate national security. That's not what we have here. And today this attorney general, of all people, in front of a group of high school students joining him in a chant, "lock her up."


GERGEN: You put all that together, and historians and people who study democracy will say, this is the road to authoritarianism. We can't go too far down this road. It's very dangerous. COOPER: Gloria, I mean as, you know, as ridiculous as what the President said sounds to many people, he says these things because they actually work. I mean at least some of his supporters actually will believe him over what they is see or what they read or what institutions say or what the FBI says or whatever.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, in covering Donald Trump for as long as we have, I think one thing has become clear. It's not about whether something is true or false, Anderson, it's about whether he thinks it works for him. And that is what he believes. He believes that this works for him. So he can stand before the veterans of foreign wars and talk about the media and say don't believe that crap, which is the word that he used, because he knows that his base believes him more than the so-called mainstream media. And he is going to keep doing it until it doesn't work for him anymore, and then he'll do something else.

And he does this very frequently when his back is up against the wall, it gets worse and worse. And so, look, he's taken some criticism over his performance at the Helsinki summit. Republicans are mad at him over trade tariffs, and so he's feeling a little bit of the heat here, and so why not blame it on the media, because it's the easiest thing for him to do, and it works.

COOPER: And David, I mean obviously, look, President Trump won't be President forever. He'll be one-term or two-term President. But these kind of things, these kind of ideas that you can't and shouldn't trust institutions or the press, I mean they can do damage that lasts for years beyond a Trump presidency.

GERGEN: Absolutely. And when you actually then control the courts too in terms of the judges, and you appoint judges on a partisan basis, you're going build into the system a series of practices and traditions that are so antithetical to the American experience. And, again, could really seriously undermine our democracy. The health of a democracy depends upon citizens that actively engaged in trying to protect the best of it. And here we've got a President who is ripping it up. He's not -- it's not the things he is doing in this area are so illegal, it is that they erode the kind of standards and beliefs and values we have as a people and drive us more and more into a polarized, cynical society.

COOPER: It's also, Gloria, I mean as you said it's -- none of it is something which doesn't serve his interests but instead serves the interest of the United States of America. It's all stuff that just serves his interests.

BORGER: Absolutely. And, look, Donald Trump ran for President running against institutions, and he -- he campaigned against every institution we know. And as President, he has governed against every institution we know. He criticized his own government, his own Justice Department because it doesn't serve him. He criticizes Congress because very often it doesn't serve him. He criticizes the fourth estate, the media because very often it doesn't serve him. It is all about what serves him. I mean, he is not somebody who will go out there and do something because it will serve the greater interest of the American people, although he will say that.

COOPER: Gloria Borger, David Gergen, thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.


COOPER: One other quick note about another break between the Republican Senate Intelligence Committee and the Republican House counterpart. Senate Committee chairman Richard Burr telling CNN today he believes there were, quote, "sound reasons" for judges to approve the foreign intelligence surveillance act, the FISA warrant on former Trump campaign, foreign policy advisory Carter Page.

His comments once again puts him at odds with House chairman Devin Nunes who using obscure committee rule to trigger the chain of events that prompted Saturday's release of the redacted FISA application.

Tonight new reporting that shows officials have Department of Interior tried to undermine data that showed some environmental protections at two national monuments were actually working. CNN's investigation on that is straight ahead.


[20:43:41] COOPER: Tonight, newly released e-mails reveal that Trump administration officials had the Department of Interior either hid or ignored data showing some environmental protections were actually working at two national monuments. The monuments are in Utah, and last year President Trump erased some environmental protections in both, easing the way for the federal lands to be opened up for business, mining and logging. With the details, CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shortly after President Obama established Bears Ears National Monument and expanded the Grand Staircases-Escalante National Monument, the government noted positive change on the protective federal lands. Tourism was up. Vandalism in the protected areas was down, and paleontologists, amateur and professional were making incredible finds. The Department of Interior memo outlined it all in may of 2017, showing just how well the protections were working. It is reasonable to conclude that visitation would be less if the lands had not been designated as a monument, the memo read. More vandalism would have likely occurred, and one region of Grand Escalante contains a plethora of pail logical specimen. 12 new dinosaur species have been discovered since designation.

There was one big problem. All of that good news did not fit in with President Trump's decision to strip away protections and open up those protected lands to business.

[20:45:07] So what did Interior Department do with all that information? Well, they buried it, and it was hidden until now. By accident, all of this was recently revealed, including the proposed redactions in an errant document dumped to a freedom of information act request by the center for western priorities.

AARON WEISS, CENTER FOR WESTERN PRIORITIES: Oh, it's obvious when you look at the documents there are big, red outlines, big boxes around what they tried to redact. It was clearly just an error on the production end where they failed to actually hit the final redact button in Adobe Acrobat.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Department of Interior tried to recall the documents, but it was too late. Allowing Aaron Weiss and other environmental watchdogs to see exactly how Trump's politically appointed Interior Department staff was working.

WEISS: It shows that all of their claims around the national monuments review were false. Secretary Zinke said there was no outcome that was preordained. These documents proved definitively that the outcome was preordained and that Secretary Zinke's political appointees were going out of their way to hide information that didn't make their case. This really is incredibly embarrassing for the Interior Department.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In another example, this one involving offshore protections, Interior didn't want the public to see this document about a protected area off the coast of New England that says these areas support fisheries for a variety of species of fish and shellfish, providing income and employment throughout the northeastern United States. A newly released e-mail says this section, while accurate, seems to me to undercut the case for the commercial fishing closure being harmful. I suggest in the attached deleting most of it for that reason are.

WEISS: You shouldn't be able to redact basic facts just because you don't like those basic facts.


COOPER: Drew, has the Department of Interior explained why they were trying to hide this information? Is there some legitimate purpose?

GRIFFIN: Anderson, there are rules that allow some redaction's to take place, but we have no idea why the Department of Interior would delete things like tourism is up or dinosaur bones were found. The Interior Department so far hasn't responded to any of this.

COOPER: And it's not the first time that Ryan Zinke and his staff have failed to disclose or to hide information from the public.

GRIFFIN: Yes. This comes actually on the heels of another CNN report which found Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not fully disclosing meetings on his calendar. And we also revealed in a CNN investigation how the now fired EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also deliberately altered his public calendar to hide meetings and events from the public. It's a troubling pattern that one government ethicist told me today that looks like these Trump appointees are trying to create their own version of reality. Anderson? COOPER: Yes, so much for transparency. Drew, thanks very much.

Well, there is new polling from voters on a meeting eight days ago between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It comes from Quinnipiac University, 52% said the meeting was a failure for the U.S., 27% said it was a success. Big majority believes the meeting was a big success for Russia, 73%, just 8% said it was failure for Russia. Pretty astonishing, 73% saying it was a success for Russia.

So that's what the majority of voters think. What about veterans, including some who served when the Soviet Union was enemy number one? Gary Tuchman got a chance to find out firsthand. He spoke with veterans who were at the VFW event in Missouri where the President spoke today. Take a look.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of American heroes.

(on-camera): Where did you serve and when?

JOHN HOFFMAN, U.S. MARINE VETERAN: I served in Vietnam, '68-'69 era.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Vietnam War era.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vietnam and two tours in Korea.

BURT MADISON, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: World War II as a veteran. Engineering gunner on a b-24 bomber.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): All these heroes in one place at the VFW Convention in Kansas City where their commander in chief was speaking, a commander in chief who inspires vastly different opinions here about what he did and what he said while standing next to Vladimir Putin in Finland. Iraq and Bosnia army veteran Michael Griffin, the state commander of the Arkansas VFW, voted for Donald Trump.

(on-camera): When you heard President Trump cast blame on the United States standing next to Putin, how did it make you feel?

GRIFFIN: Saddened. We've given a lot for this country, and I do not think that our leaders should -- should put those words out.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Were you surprised?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Had you ever had a superior when you served in Iraq or Bosnia cast blame on the United States for anything?

GRIFFIN: Never. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Maria Va'a Igafo, is the first female VFW state commander in Hawaii. She won't say who she voted for in 2016, but shares that observation.

(on-camera): have you ever had a superior put blame on the United States --


[20:49:58] TUCHMAN (voice-over): Navy veteran David Hobdy, who served in the straits of Hormuz did not vote for President Trump and also was not pleased with Mr. Trump's performance in Finland.

DAVID HOBDY, U.S. NAVY VETERAN: I felt a little embarrassed. I really did. My presidents before would never have said that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Purple Heart recipient John Hoffman who voted for Donald Trump has a very different feeling.

HOFFMAN: He said, quote, I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. I think we're all to blame.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): When you heard him put blame on the United States as a veteran, as a Purple Heart recipient in Vietnam, did that trouble you in any way, shape or form.

HOFFMAN: No, sir, it doesn't.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): And tell me why?

HOFFMAN: I don't think that we are perfect. I think we've made some mistakes. I think part of Vietnam was a mistake.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): World War II army veteran Burt Madison is 95 years old and quite modest.

MADISON: I'm no hero. I'm a survivor. I lost 150 guys on one mission. I'm just lucky to be still around talking about it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And when he talks about the job the President did in Finland, he sticks by him.

MADISON: I did a silent prayer. I said I hope this comes into a friendship with Russia because between them and China, they're our best hope for survival in this world.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): They have different opinions about the President, but they have all served their country valiantly. And like this Trump voter, want the best for their nation.

RALP BASSETTI, U.S. ARMY AND AIR FORCE VETERAN: I'm just upset that there's fighting between the Republicans and Democrats instead of talking with each other civilly.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TUCHMAN: People who go to a VFW Convention are generally, Anderson, very patriotic. And that's why there was a lot of excitement as people came to this VFW Convention here in Kansas City to see the commander-in-chief in person, and indeed many parts of his speech today were well received by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, when he spoke time mindedly, patriotically about veterans, about the future of this country.

However when he turned to the political rally aspect of it, a lot of it was political rally when he criticized and when he slammed and when he ridiculed, it made many people uncomfortable. There were people laughing with the President, but many others, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents say they wish that the diatribes were left for another day. Anderson?

COOPER: That's good hearing about the service of so many of those men and women. Gary, thanks very much for being there.

I want to check in with Chris Cuomo to see what he's working for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Anderson, we got some big news tonight. We're going to be talking about what the President says but in a very different context. We have one of the secret tapes that was made by Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and it is the one that is the subject of so much controversy. What did the President know about the payment to the former playmate that you interviewed, Karen McDougal? When did he know it? What did he know about the arrangements that his lawyer was making perhaps to buy back some potentially damaging information from the "National Enquirer"? This is the tape they've been talking about. We're going to let people hear it for themselves and come to their own decisions.

COOPER: Wow. Definitely want to tune in for that. Chris, thanks very much. That's in just about seven minutes from now.

In other news, singer Demi Lovato hospitalized after an apparent drug overdose. She's been open about her battles with substance abuse. Revealing weeks ago that she relapse after years of sobriety. The latest on what we know tonight, next.


[20:57:27] COOPER: Some encouraging news tonight about singer Demi Lovato who is hospitalized in Los Angeles after an apparent drug overdose. According to a source close to her family, at just 25 years old, Lovato has been through a lot. She's been candid about her struggles with mental health and eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse. Just a few weeks ago, she said she recently had a relapse after six years of sobriety.

Miguel Marquez joins us from Los Angeles with the latest, which seems to be good. What have you learned, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does. In just the last couple of minutes we've learned from a senior law enforcement official telling CNN that she is in stable condition here at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, that she is breathing and conscious. So all very, very encouraging information. It was about noon when police and fire from Los Angeles rushed to her Hollywood Hills home. A source close to the family saying it was an apparent overdose. We don't know exactly what the drug is, but certainly people will be breathing a little easier knowing that she is in stable condition, breathing and conscious at this hour.

COOPER: And as we mentioned, she struggled with addiction. She's been public about that struggle, right?

MARQUEZ: Yeah. I mean, look, from everything and she's used this as part of her career. So everything from drug addiction to alcohol to eating disorders and mental health, she's had quite a few demons to wrestle with in the past. Six months ago about in March, she said she had been sober for six years. A few weeks ago she revealed that she was -- she had relapsed, and she released that single Sober. One of the lines from that, I want to read that to you. I'm sorry that I'm here again. I promise that I'll get help. It certainly many of her fans hoping tonight that she will do exactly that. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, certainly wish her the best. Miguel Marquez, Miguel thanks very much.

Before we go, a quick reminder. Don't miss our new interactive daily newscast on Facebook. You get to pick the stories that we cover. You can watch "Full Circle" week nights at 6:25 p.m. eastern time at I'll see you there tomorrow. And again, of course, at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN for another edition of "360."

I hope you join us for that. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo who's got a big exclusive tonight. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts right now. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Anderson, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

It is a big night here. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time."

We have one of the Michael Cohen tapes. The secret recording of President Trump back in 2016 made by Cohen in which he and then- candidate Trump discuss arrangements surrounding a payment to former playboy playmate Karen McDougal that was made by a third party, David Pecker, as head of the "National Enquirer."

[21:00:06] This all happened in the months before the election. Now, this is not a great quality recording and that will be relevant to its analysis.