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President Trump at Rally Tonight Again Calls Russia Probe a Hoax; Prosecutors Highlight Paul Manafort's Lavish Spending, Bookkeeper Testifies He Was Broke By 2016; Sources: Alleged Russian Spy Bragged About Her Ties to Russian Intelligence When Drunk. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired August 5, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight "keeping them honest" with a tale of two White Houses, one where the threat Russia poses for American elections is real and one where the opposite is true. The question is, and given all we've seen and heard over the last year and a half, it's a valid one to ask, which White House does President Trump inhabit?
Today's press briefing was a show of force from the president's own counterintelligence and national security team and they did not mince words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming U.S. elections, both the mid-terms and presidential elections of 2020. In regards to the Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.
The Director of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was equally blunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear that they are the target of our adversaries, who seek, as the DNI just said, to sow discord and undermine our way of life. I fully share the intelligence community and the ODNI's assessments, pass efforts -- and past efforts and those today to interfere with our election and of the current threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Democracy in the crosshairs, Secretary Nielsen said.
Here's the FBI director, Chris Wray, the one President Trump himself appointed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: This is a threat we need to take extremely seriously and tackle and respond to with fierce determination and focus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that sounds very clear, more than clear, Trump appointees in the briefing room of the White House, with the president's blessing, speaking out in no uncertain terms about the ongoing threat from Russia to American democracy. And there is absolutely nothing they said today that diverges much from the consensus view of experts in and out of government that Russia remains a threat.
What makes it so interesting however is the gulf between what these top advisors and government members are willing to say and what their boss has been willing to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?
REPORTER: Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. No.
REPORTER: No, you don't believe that to be the case?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's the president shortly after the Helsinki summit. The White House later claimed the president didn't mean, no, they aren't targeting the U.S., he meant no as in no, I don't want to take anymore questions. The reporter who asked the questions said the president was looking right at her, answering no twice to her questions.
The cleanup was also required after the Helsinki summit press conference. The president later claiming he meant to say wouldn't instead of would, though even in that cleanup effort, the president said it could also be others besides Russia meddling, and since then, the president has gone back to calling the Russia story a hoax and Russia investigation rigged.
Today, the distance between the president's reluctance to call out Russia and his national security team's willingness to was noticeable. It was striking enough to pump out this question and really fascinating answer I want you to hear from DNI Coats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: In the run-up to the Helsinki summit, U.S. officials, ambassadors, NATO ambassadors to Russia said the president would raise the issue of maligned activity with the President Putin. He didn't discuss that at least at the press conference.
You're saying today that the president has directed you to make the issue of election meddling a priority. How do you explain the disconnect between what you are saying, his advisors, and what the president has said about this issue?
COATS: I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki. I'll turn it over to the national security director here to address that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I just want to emphasize what you just heard. The director of national intelligence when asked about the president's behavior in Helsinki said, quote, I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki.
It's a pretty stunning statement, either Dan Coats cannot talk about what he knows or he truly does not have the picture of what was discussed behind closed doors which echoes something that he said publicly days ago. After he made that statement, Mr. Coats turned things over to John Bolton who repeated what Vladimir Putin said at Helsinki press conference that election meddling was the first issue President Trump raised with him.
Keeping them honest, though, we only have Vladimir Putin's word for that. John Bolton didn't say everything the president said behind closed doors. He's just saying what Vladimir Putin said publicly.
So, it's not even clear if John Bolton knows everything that was discussed by the president and Vladimir Putin. It's not clear anyone does, except perhaps Vladimir Putin.
As for the president, he spoke out at a rally again tonight again talking bout how tough he's been on Russia but also again saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax. I'll tell you what, Russia is very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's not what Vladimir Putin said at the press conference that he wanted Mr. Trump to win.
More now on all this from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.
Jim, do you have any understanding why the press briefing on this topic happened now? JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we
were told earlier in the day that the president directed those officials to come out in the briefing room and say all those things, how they're on the case when it comes to Russia meddling and interference in U.S. elections.
But, Anderson, as you noted there a few moments ago, the president had a golden opportunity to drive that point home at this rally in Pennsylvania earlier this evening and he just didn't do it. As you said, he defended his summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and said that Vladimir Putin and the Russians are unhappy that he's the president of the United States when Vladimir Putin admitted at the summit that he wanted Donald Trump to win.
And so, there's this huge disconnect. We could all feel it in the briefing room earlier today and that is why you saw so many reporters asking that question. Yes, it was -- I'm sure it was very assuring to a lot of Americans out there to hear the director of national intelligence, the FBI director, the homeland security secretary to say they're on the case.
But looming over everything in the room, Anderson, is the fact the president has said all sorts of things to diminish the Russian threat in the past. Remember, it was just last month when he said it could be other countries, not just Russia. That is just so opposite what we heard from his top officials at that briefing today.
COOPER: And it was just yesterday from the same podium that Sarah Sanders called the Mueller investigation into Russia meddling a hoax, wasn't it?
ACOSTA: That's right. And as a matter of fact, she echoed what the president was saying. The president tweeted this attack at the FBI, went after former officials of the FBI, including Jim Comey sort of once again going after the institution of the FBI, Sarah Sanders repeated that during the briefing yesterday.
And it was interesting to note one of the reporters in the briefing today pressed the FBI director for an answer to all of that. In the presence of Sarah Sanders in the room with him at the same time, Chris Wray said that his agents from the top on down are determined to do their jobs and carry out their duties. I thought it was a very interesting moment because it was somebody in the administration essentially saying, no, Mr. President, no, Sarah Sanders, what you're saying is not true.
COOPER: Is there any indication the president is ready to embrace the findings of the intelligence chiefs who, you know, he's now appointed who say that Russia is a very real threat heading into the elections this fall?
ACOSTA: There's no evidence of that, Anderson, and that was what was -- I mean, it was -- I think it was awfully good that you saw a lot of these officials come into the room yesterday -0- or excuse me, earlier today and say all of these things about how they're going to try to stop Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms. You know, you heard the FBI director, you heard the homeland security
secretary all saying that there are these new initiatives and task forces aimed at stopping cyber attacks on our democracy. But what was missing in all of this was to have the president of the United States, to have an anonymous official, as we heard earlier say, well, the president sent those officials out there. I don't think that that's going to be good enough for a lot of Americans out there, Anderson.
And then when the president had this opportunity this evening to say, you know, listen, I did this, I sent these officials out there, we're going to stop this. He just didn't do it. It was another opportunity missed -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks very much, Jim.
Joining us now, CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot, also CNN legal and national security analyst and former FBI special agent, Asha Rangappa, and Phil Mudd, a former senior official at the FBI and CIA.
It is interesting that just this disconnect that seems to take place, and that the president kind of reiterated tonight in this speech after his -- you know, his national security team came forward and were so clear about Russia's involvement.
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think the fact that the president continues to refuse to acknowledge this is exactly why the intel chiefs had to do this. When you have a threat from a foreign adversary, an attack, you need the United States to speak with one voice, and that voice usually comes from the president of the United States, to say, this is who we are, this is what our values are.
And this is especially important when there is misinformation, when the part of the attack is a misinformation campaign. The president, consciously or not, is actually doing Putin's work for him. He is echoing and amplifying divisive messages that Putin is hoping to sow and delegitimizing rhetoric. So, I think that part of fighting back is for these intel chiefs is to make this public statement.
COOPER: Phil, I mean, you worked for the CIA and FBI in your long career. Does it really matter whether or not the president is echoing what the national security apparatus is saying as long as you have, you know, you have Chris Wray, you have DNI Coats, you have Secretary Nielsen, you have John Bolton all saying, you know, pointing at Russia and saying, we're aware of this, we're working on this, we're doing everything we can to make sure, you know, the sanctity of the voting process remains?
[20:10:11] PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, time-out, Anderson. Ninety-five percent of Americans, I'm going to bet, couldn't name one of the people who spoke today. They can't name the national security advisor and they can't name cabinet members.
They can name the president of the United States and he has at least two major responsibilities here well beyond the intel that people like me who used to be on the inside would ask him to do. Number one, what is the message to Vladimir Putin when we see this happening, but only a week or two ago after Helsinki, the president told Vladimir Putin, why don't you come and visit the White House? I can tell you the consequences on Vladimir Putin are nothing.
If the Russians continue to this, the answer to Trump is, sure, I'll go visit the White House and we don't have to talk about it.
One final point and more significant thing, the domestic thing the president has to send. In New York, you live in New York, Anderson. After 9/11, the governor and the mayor time and time again said the FBI, the New York Police Department have some secret work to do, but if you see something say something. The governor and mayor had a message to the American people.
Regarding Facebook and Twitter and Russian intervention and what Facebook has talked about this week, what has the president said to the American people and who is the messenger to the American people. I don't see one, Anderson.
COOPER: Max, I mean, if this were so important, should the president have been there or echoed this at least tonight saying, I totally agree with what my intelligence chief said as opposed to saying, talking about a hoax?
MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, of course, Anderson, but it's clear that the president does not agree with what his intelligence chiefs are saying because you just played the clip. Just a few moments ago, he continues to call this a hoax, whereas his intelligence chiefs are saying, no, this is a major danger to the United States.
I thought one of the most inadvertently revealing lines from the press conference today was when John Bolton said, the president has made very clear what his priorities are. Now, by that, I think Bolton meant he has a priority focusing on Russia. But, in fact, the president has made very clear his priority is not to focus on the Russian threat, he only views this through the prism of his own political self-interest.
He doesn't care about getting to the root of the Russian interference in the 2016 election or preventing Russian interference in the future. All he cares about is saving his own political skin, which is why he and other senior officials have now taken to referring to the Mueller probe as a rigged witch hunt, which is delegitimizing the investigation and essentially doing Vladimir Putin's work for him.
COOPER: You know, Asha, we talked to General Michael Hayden, we talked to Director Clapper, all say that having the president be the one, you know, on top of all his national security apparatus directing all of their efforts, because we've heard from each of these people individually. Chris Wray has testified in front of Congress about what the FBI is doing to try to counter-Russia in the upcoming election.
We've heard recently DNI Coats and others express concerns. But people who worked in intelligence agencies and the FBI all say that it is critical for the president to be the one kind of setting the agenda and giving it all a sense of urgency and coordination.
Do you agree with that?
RANGAPPA: Absolutely. So, one of the things after 9/11, in light of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations was to break down barriers in terms of sharing intelligence, create the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in order to bring all these different perspectives these agencies have so that good policy can be made. And that policy is made at the top by the president of the United States. Many things, like covert actions abroad, for example, have to be authorized by him in writing with a finding that it's important to national security.
So, in many ways, these agencies cannot act effectively without him getting on board, without him creating a coordinated strategy and tell them exactly what he wants them to do.
COOPER: Phil, did it jump out to you what DNI Coats said that he doesn't understand fully what happened, he's not in a position to understand fully what happened at this summit or to talk about it? I mean, not to be able to talk about it I guess, but not understanding or having been briefed, or reliably been briefed by the president exactly what he said to Vladimir Putin, I just find that surprising.
MUDD: It is. And let me make this real to you for a moment, Anderson. If, for example, there is a conversation in Helsinki between the president and Putin about election interference and Putin makes some specific representations about what he will or will not do. Let's take it further. Let's say there's a conversation about Syria and Russian engagement in Syria and Putin makes representations to the president.
Who will verify what Putin says for the president? That's the director of the national intelligence. For example, the DNI coming out of Helsinki ought to be saying, well, Putin said this, Mr. President, this is what we're seeing in the intelligence on Syria about what Russia is doing in Syria, this is what we're seeing after Putin spoke with you about Russian interference.
[20:15:01] He should be validating that as the director of national intelligence what Putin said. But instead, what he told us, as you just reported, he doesn't even know what happened.
COOPER: Max, you and I have spoken quite a bit about what happened in Helsinki. I'm wondering what you make of what DNI Coats said?
BOOT: I think it's deeply disturbing, Anderson, because, you know, this is a president who is accused very credibly of colluding with Russia during the 2016 campaign, and evidence of that is piling up, for example, the recent CNN report that Michael Cohen is prepared to testify that Donald Trump knew in advance about the June 9, 2016 meeting between the Russian emissaries and the Trump campaign. So, this is a very unusual situation where you have a president who is suspected of working with Russia to affect American democracy.
And the same president is in an off the record meeting for two hours with the Russian president where nobody including the director of national intelligence knows what happened. This is not diplomacy as usual. This is very, very unusual and very disturbing and worrisome given the unique vulnerability of Donald Trump to Russian pressure.
COOPER: Max Boot, Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, thanks very much.
Coming up next, perhaps the more surprising, revelation yet from Manafort's trial, not how much money he made from Ukraine but how little money he had when he worked -- went to work for Donald Trump. It's a riches to rags tale and you'll hear it when we come back.
There's also breaking news on alleged spy Maria Butina. New details about her less than subtle trade craft and what it might say about how Russian intelligence actually operates in the U.S.
[20:20:42] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight, day three of the Paul Manafort trial now over. It's dominated by a prosecution witness who told the jury that Manafort was in serious financial trouble in 2016 after his lobbying business dried up. That witness was Manafort's long-time bookkeeper who was full of details, so as our Jessica Schneider who joins me now.
So, Manafort -- he was basically broke when he took the job on the Trump campaign. That's interesting.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He was. He was in serious financial trouble. That was according to the testimony of his bookkeeper. She was on the stand for several hours. And she talked about how strapped for cash he was after his lobbying business in Ukraine dried up.
It was so bad that he was in danger of losing his health insurance. And in one e-mail, the booker said that she needed $120,000 urgently to pay some of his personal bills.
And, you know, Anderson, we've been talking about this. It was really a stunning change of fortune for the man buying $15,000 ostrich coats now scrambling for money in 2016.
This, of course, was also right at the time he joined the Trump campaign to work for free and it was also at a time where he helped a bank executive at a bank who gave him a loan to get a job with the Trump campaign, too. So, these are the details prosecutors are putting out for the jury.
COOPER: So, as much as of his defense plans to paint Rick Gates, his number two guy as the bad guy, I understand the bookkeeper testified Manafort approved every expenditures. Is that right?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, her exact quote was: he approved every penny of everything we paid. And not only that, but the bookkeeper describes some details about how Manafort lied to the banks. So, prosecutors, they showed a side by side of documents. There was one where the bookkeeper told one bank that Manafort's company lost more than $1 million in 2016. But Manafort, he sent the same person at that same bank a different financial statement, saying that his company actually made $3 million by around the same time period.
So, prosecutors -- they are priming this jury with a lot of evidence to prove their charges that Manafort committed tax fraud and bank fraud, too.
COOPER: And now, the prosecution is saying Rick Gates will testify.
SCHNEIDER: Right. So, a lot of questions yesterday. Will he or won't he, after prosecutors sort of floated they weren't sure. But they finally said that they will call Rick Gates. It could be as early as tomorrow or Monday.
So, that leaves the question, will Paul Manafort testify? And that's something the judge brought up, saying Manafort, of course, won't be penalized for the right to remain silent. But since his defense team, they want to bring in evidence that Manafort was ever audited by the IRS. And the judge said, hey, look, if you want that testimony, that evidence to come in, it would be much better if Paul Manafort testifies.
So, we'll see. That's the next big question, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, appreciate it.
Still more breaking news, there's new information tonight what that Russian woman arrested and charged with conspiracy and acting as a Russian agent, if, in fact, Maria Butina acted as charged.
CNN's Sara Murray has some fascinating details about her skill set while associating with Republican politicians. A hint: she wasn't exactly subtle.
Sara, what are you learning?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, she wasn't exactly subtle, Anderson. Look, she is innocent until proven guilty but she is an alleged Russian spy.
She didn't really use the kind of kind of spy technology we might expect. She was communicating on Twitter. She was communicating on WhatsApp in a number of instance, both people her own age and also older men. She was so overt and so flirtatious that men walked away wondering what her ulterior motive was, what she wanted from them.
And this gives you an indication of all the various ways that Moscow sort of runs its influence operation, at least that's what experts told me when I was asking them about her spy tactics. They said, look, Vladimir Putin has a number of seasoned operatives he can plant in the U.S. to run operations for him. But he also will tap people like Maria Butina through other people he knows to sort of help gain information, gain access in the U.S. That's what prosecutors say is going on in this case, Anderson.
COOPER: So, did she talk about ties to Russian intelligence at any point?
MURRAY: She did. And this is one of the allegations that has come out against her from some of her classmates who wish to remain anonymous, that there were a couple instances where she actually was intoxicated, according to sources who were familiar with this, and she talked about her ties to the Russian government.
[20:25:02] She talked about her ties to Russian intelligence. She talked about how she ran this gun rights group in Moscow and that it's sort of had the buy-in from Russian intelligence.
And this was so alarming to some of the people she said it in front of, that on two separate instances, her classmates reported her to law enforcement.
COOPER: What's her lawyer saying about the allegations?
MURRAY: Well, her lawyer still insists that she is completely innocent. He says that she was just an American university student, that she was not a spy. She's pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy as well as acting as a foreign agent in the U.S.
But he's also said in other interviews that he believes that sexism and this anti-Russia sentiment given the political climate now are sort of tainting the case against her. He hasn't fully made these arguments in court but she's due back in September. So, we'll see if we hear more of this from him in the courtroom, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks very much.
More breaking news next in who Robert Mueller wants to talk to now in his investigation. It's a name that goes back to the Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the campaign and you might be surprised by it.
Also, there's new insight into whether the president really wants to sit down with special counsel or not. Could there be a method behind the choice talking to Mueller that some legal experts call not a great idea. Our legal team weighs in when 360 continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Russia special counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to the Russian oligarch and singer/son who pushed the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Remember Aras, Emin Agalarov today, the father's attorney revealed that negotiations have been going on for nearly a year. So far, there's no agreement. Also tonight, there's breaking news from the President's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani once again saying that team Trump is close to deciding whether the President will agree to do an interview. Giuliani telling Politico, "I think our decisions will get made in the next week to 10 days." As you know the "New York Times" is reporting the President is actually eager to talk. Two views now on why that may be and how it might play out from CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio.
Jeff, do you think the President actually does want to sit down or is this -- could this be part of a strategy?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean it's probably both. I mean, Donald Trump is nothing if not self-confident. He's also someone who's testified a lot.
TOOBIN: I mean he's given a lot of depositions in civil cases. And, you know, he's mostly done better than badly in those cases.
COOPER: Right, everybody focuses on the Tim O'Brien case in the "New York Times" but he's actually done well in deficit.
TOOBIN: Actually, and he's never been charged with perjury for anything he said in those depositions. So he has done well. I mean most of to these cases wind -- have wind upsetting rather than going to a resolution. So I do think he's so confident about his ability to handle a deposition. But, also I think its part of his brand not to be afraid of anything. And I think he wants to be perceived as someone who has nothing to hide, someone who will testify.
So, I think there is really, at least a measure of candor in what he's saying and that he does want to testify.
COOPER: Michael, I mean this seems to be how Donald Trump has approached a lot of situations in his life believing that he can -- you know, if he talks to somebody he can convince them. I mean there is -- you know, he can be very charming when he wants to be. Is that something he's had all his life?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It absolutely is a quality that he's exhibited all of his life. I only found really one example of an interview where he just couldn't bring anybody around, and it was one of the early ones he did with "Time" magazine. And he bumped into a reporter who actually reminded me temperamentally what people say about Robert Mueller. He was a pretty upstanding straight ahead guy and Trump just couldn't win him over. But for the most part, he is able to win people over. He gets them relaxed, he charms them. I think he even surprises them when he's not super aggressive. So he could attempt that.
And as Jeffrey noted, that he's got experience in testifying in doing depositions. He even I think imagines himself a bit of a lawyer himself. He has spent so much time with attorneys he feels expert.
TOOBIN: And remember, if there is an interview with Mueller, there's not going to be a judge there. So he can filibuster. And -- I mean you've interviewed the --
TOOBIN: -- then candidate Trump. I mean he just talks --
TOOBIN: -- and he talk and he talks and he talk. And that could eat up practically the whole interview. And I think he knows that. And there's -- not -- you know, just a prosecutor sitting there is not going to be able to say to him, stop talking. So, you know, he is in many respects going to be able to control what happens if there is an interview. Again, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea for him. But, you know, he has a lot of tools at his disposal.
COOPER: I spoke to Alan Dershowitz last night, who had said, you know, he always tries to get clients not to do an interview like this in this kind of situation, he talks about a perjury trap that it's a perjury trap waiting to happen for the President. Does that bring (INAUDIBLE), because if you're not lying, how is it a perjury trap?
TOOBIN: A perjury trap has always been a meaningless expression to me. Because, if you tell the truth, then you're not going to be in perjured.
COOPER: Well, Dershowitz is saying as well, look, if there's somebody else another witness who believes they're telling the truth too, and it's a different version of the truth or say a different version events than what the President is saying, then the prosecutors could go with that person's version (INAUDIBLE)
TOOBIN: But, you know, I have too much respect for Mueller and -- that they would simply bring a -- you know, some sort of action. And remember, there's not going to be a criminal prosecution out of here. All that's going to come out of this is some sort of report.
You know, the mere fact that two people have different recollections of an event does not create a perjury trap, that happens all the time. So the idea that he's -- that there is some, you know, legal trap being said, I think that's a bogus argument.
COOPER: Michael, according to "Times", the President feels that if he sits down with Mueller's team, he can convince them that their own inquiry is a witch hunt and obviously shows seems very confidence in his own ability to sway people.
[20:35:03] D'ANTONIO: Of course, he's ever confident. I think in this case the stakes are much higher than the stakes he's faced in any litigation prior. So there is that factor to consider. And believe it or not he does imagine himself to be the actual president of the United States. He doesn't act like it a lot. But he does, I think, have in mind his legacy. And so that could move him to resist ultimately cooperating as much as Robert Mueller would have him cooperate. He's going to be more careful than usual, uncharacteristically careful, I think.
TOOBIN: But remember, too, what I think he's really trying to convince is the public, not so much the Mueller people. And he's been pretty effective. I mean look at how Republicans have shifted over the course of the Mueller investigation. You know, his people have come around on Mueller to feeling it's a witch hunt. So, I don't think he really believes that he's going to convince Mueller that he's engaged in a witch hunt, but I do think he believes that at least his supporters will feel that way if they don't already.
COOPER: The -- just lastly, I want to ask you about the reporting that the Mueller team is seeking to interview this Russian pop star who was behind the kind of the introductions and setting up the Trump Tower meeting. How likely is that it that would actually happen? I mean why would some Russian citizen do that?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, Emin Agalarov who is pop star, who was the person who engineered the infamous Trump Tower meeting. He spends a lot of time in the United States, grew up really in New Jersey. He's fluent in English. But he is not going to get within a million miles of this. And his father, Aras Agalarov who's really the money, who financed the Miss Universe in Moscow in 2013, he's going to stay even farther away. So, you know, I don't -- sure -- I'm not surprised that the Mueller team is trying to get to them but I wouldn't hold their breath.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Toobin, Michael D'Antonio, thanks so much.
As we mentioned, President Trump is on the campaign trail again tonight he's in a rally in Pennsylvania where among the crowd where more of those people who believe in conspiracy theories, they call themselves QAnon. Just ahead, we'll hear what they have to say.
[20:41:10] COOPER: At President Trump's rally tonight in Pennsylvania, scattered among the crowd are people who believe in conspiracy theories that are so broad and bizarre, its difficult to believe to put it mildly. It's no longer an isolated thing. Take a look, the sign with the Q on it stands for QAanon. This video is from a presidential rally in Tampa two nights ago. Last night on the broadcast, we focus more closely on what views they believe in and their views from the fringes of American political thought. Tonight, we wanted to give them a chance to have their say but because so much has been written about their reductants to talk, we weren't sure what we would get when we sent Gary Tuchman to tonight's Trump rally. Gary joins us now.
So what happened?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the rally just ended a short time ago, people are now streaming out. Many of this people arriving early this morning waiting in line. We like to say yes, we wanted to see if the people who followed this movement wanted to talk to us. And we found they did want to talk to us. And what they told us was quite interesting.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Waiting in line in a driving rain, very motivated Trump supporters, wanting to see the President in person in Wilkes Barry, Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Q.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Some of those people wearing and holding the 17th letter of the alphabet.
(on-camera): You're holding a red, white and blue Q. Why do you have it?
TIMOTHY RASMUSSEN, TRUMP SUPPORTR: It's a movement men, it's the shift that I can feel like coming. Some call it the great awakening.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): You are wearing a shirt that says Q-W-W-G-1-W-G- A. What does that mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means where we go one we go all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: QAnon is the people that believe in what Trump's trying to do to change our country.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): That is a generalization. More specifically what QAnon is, is a fringe movement in which many baseless conspiracy theories are discussed on the internet, organized on the idea of an anonymous but well-connected persons nicknamed Q.
(on-camera): Your shirt says the storm is here QAnon. What does that mean to you?
JOSEPHINE DETAR, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I've been following all the posts since October 28th.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): On the internet, from QAnon.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): The person other persons who say they're Q.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): What do you think Q is by the way?
DETAR: It's an entity of 10 or less people that have --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): A problem with the government?
DETAR: Have high security clearance.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And how do you know that?
DETAR: Well, I'm just telling, you know, this is what it appears to be.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): But appears to be. So you don't have any proof about, that's you're guessing is.
DETAR: And you don't have proof there isn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've all been gathering online talking together as Americans and uniting and --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you think it makes you comfortable talking with other frustrated people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): But maybe it's not true, because there's no evidence of it. It's a stuff talked about it on the internet, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There hasn't been non-evidence yet?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): A major mantra among QAnon followers? The is press is the enemy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you don't believe in the First Amendment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh I totally believe in the First Amendment.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): But you don't you just (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. Well you guys are weaponized. You guys are totally weaponized by the --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): What is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are weaponized.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): About the CIA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the CIA.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): I don't know anybody in the CIA except a couple people I've interviewed over the years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): What does it even mean? Like you stuff, it doesn't mean anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conspiracy theorists.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you think I'm weaponized by the CIA?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe not to your knowledge. That's unfortunate.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): You believe there is a deep state?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And what do you think that deep state is doing? You think they're running this country?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they were and they're petrified now because they're losing their control.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): But Donald Trump is the President. He's running the country, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but he's having to fight against them.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): I mean he said he could do it all himself. Everything would be so easy, but he came in office, and he -- do you think he's fighting with the deep state a year and a half into his term?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's been fighting since before he was elected.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And who is in the deep state? Who are the people in it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh I definitely believe that the Clinton and Bushes and Obamas.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you think the Clintons and Bushes and Obamas are running this country as we standing in the rain?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. They're trying.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The anonymous Q is a hero to many here, one man actually hoping to believe to communicate with Q are looking straight into our camera.
(on-camera): Is it possible you're believing in bogus information? Yes or no?
[20:45:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a possibility that I believe on bogus information, I mean let's see, let's see Q. Let's see.
COOPER: Gary, did you get that large numbers of people ling up at the rally support the QAnon movement? Because obviously, you know, if there are thousands of people at a rally, what sort of numbers do you see?
TUCHMAN: Yes, I don't think there were large numbers, Anderson. A lot of people we talked to had no idea what it was. And other people just wanted to see Donald Trump and some people just wanted to see the President of the United States with their children. So it seems like a relatively small number. What I will tell you that it's catching on and I would anticipate at future rallies we'll see more people holding big Qs and wearing clothes with Qs on them.
COOPER: Do the people you talk to believe that President Trump supports QAnon?
TUCHMAN: Well President Trump has never said anything about this organization. Also if he can call an organization is internet (INAUDIBLE). Sarah Sanders the press secretary asked about it yesterday and she did not give the any indication at all that President Trump supports it the contrary. However, each and every person I talked to who follows this does believe -- fervently believed that Donald Trump is a supporter even though he hasn't said so.
COOPER: Right. Gary, appreciate you being there. Thank you.
Joining me now is Will Sommer, reporter for "The Daily Beast" who's been writing for QAnon pretty much since its inception. Appreciate you being with us.
Do you have any idea how many followers QAnon actually has? How many people believe in these conspiracy theories? Because it certainly don't want to paint, you know, people -- everybody who's at this rally was such a broad brush as Gary were saying, it seems like it's a relative small number of people who went to this rally.
WILLIAM SOMMER, REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Certainly not. You know, it is hard to tell how many people believe it, it certainly you would want to say, everyone at the rally, everyone who's die heart Trump supporter.
But at the same time, the numbers -- I mean, you know, at these rallies we're seeing maybe a couple dozen QAnon believers, that's pretty bizarre what given what QAnon people believe. In April there was a QAnon rally in D.C. I went to that couple hundred people showed up, they were chanting the QAnon slogans. So, you know, that was before they step really hit the mainstream over the summer and only in one city.
So, you know, whatever it is, it is remarkable that so many people have a -- become convince to this.
COOPER: And from I understand they have -- people believe in QAnon thing, have a different belief of what he Robert Mueller investigation actually is? Is that right?
SOMMER: Yes, that's right. So, you know, they interpret this clues that are posted online. And so they've come to believe that Robert Mueller is actually elite in Trump and a sort of ally of his and the idea that Mueller is investigating the Trump campaign is all sort of a ruse (ph) to cover that Mueller is really investigating the likes of Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama.
COOPER: So why would Donald Trump be attacking the Mueller investigation?
SOMMER: That's all part of a -- you know, that's all part of the rude.
COOPER: I see. So, it -- I mean, I understand arrival to Q has now emerge. Somehow who goes by the letter -- or multiple people go by the letter R, is that right?
SOMMER: That's right. So, Q kind of disappeared in July and so his followers as you can see are very devoted. And they were less sort of breath. And then someone named R showed up and start to start giving clues. And they said, oh well maybe, you know, this is the new guy to follow. And a positive that -- positive that R was JFK, John F. Kennedy Jr. of course died nearly two decades ago. And the Q came back and said, don't trust that guy, you know, like within any conspiracy theory, you know, you end up with a lot of factions.
COOPER: So this is -- I mean. Do with the pizza gate folks that people believe, you know, there are people, Democrats, or Hillary Clinton or others running a pedophile ring and a pizza parlor basement?
SOMMER: Absolutely. QAnon is in a way sort of like a more respectable mega pizza gate. You know, a key party QAnon, that this idea that Trump is you know, he's not just fighting as the deep states in the sense of like the intelligence agencies or the Clintons, he's fighting against as -- what they believe to be global pedophile networks of the -- amongst the elite's all over the world.
So again its -- they don't have evidence for this, it's really crazy stuff. But they kind of folded pizza gate in a lot of other conspiracies into this sort of giant conspiracy theory.
COOPER: And I understand that some people believe that the President has given them secret signs like that -- the way he holds his hand or puts some fingers together, he's forming the letter "Q" during speeches. Is that right?
SOMMER: Yes. So they're -- they're like obsessed with, as we saw in the video, getting some sort of validation from Trump that Q is real. And so like -- they'll look at videos and say maybe he's moving his hand in a way that's like a Q, or if he mentions the number 17, which of course Q is the 17th letter in the alphabet, they see that as a sign. They've been asking a lot of White House reporters to ask Trump about Q. It doesn't seem like anyone has taken them up on their offers, but they seem to feel that this, you know, if Trump was asked about it, they're convinced he would say, oh, yeah, it's all real.
COOPER: Does anyone seem to know who the person Q actually is or if it is one person or if it's groups of people?
SOMMER: Q's identity right now is very mysterious. You know, whether it's one person, a group of people, you know, maybe a foreign operative. You know, there's a lot of theories going around but really nothing that I think is worth considering. You know, i think perhaps it's maybe just a troll or a couple trolls in a basement somewhere and this whole thing has gotten out of hand.
COOPER: So the core just -- can you just explain again the core belief -- because the whole international pedophile ring linked with the deep state and Robert Mueller is actually working with President Trump. I mean it's all, you know, outlandish.
[20:50:14] SOMMER: Yes, it's very confusing. I mean sort of the -- and it's constantly growing. Like sort with the -- with this something will happen in the news and they'll claim, oh, the deep state tried to shoot down Air Force One. Sort of the gist of it is that Trump has teamed up with the military and sort of various virtuous world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un to take on this global cabal of Democrats and Hollywood elite's and bankers and all this kind of stuff, who they claim are essentially responsible for all the evil in the world and soon Trump will have all these people arrested.
COOPER: William Sommer, I appreciate your reporting, it's fascinating stuff. Appreciate it.
I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey look, like every other fringe group, they can believe whatever they want. It's what they do in the name of those beliefs that raises concern just like fringe groups on the left and others on the right. That's why we're keeping an eye on it. That was a good interview to have Anderson. We're going to be taking on the news tonight from a legal and a political perspective. We've got Governor Kasich on the show. We've got former A.G. Mukasey on the show. So we're going to be testing out a lot of different theories of what's going on with the Russia probe and what needs to happen in the next set of elections.
And then we're going to take a look at what the Pope said about the death penalty and what it means to be pro-life and how a lot of people who may think they're pro-life may not meet the standard according to the Pope.
COOPER: Interesting. About 8.5 minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much.
Up next, the search is on for this man who police say shot and killed a famed cardiologist according to investigators, he held a grudge against the doctor, carried out a brazen execution on a bicycle in broad daylight. The police are looking for information about this person. More details ahead in a moment.
[20:56:02] COOPER: There's a manhunt in Houston, Texas, tonight. Police are looking for a man accused of killing a renowned cardiologist who once performed surgery on George H.W. Bush. The doctor was gunned down on his way to work at a hospital. He and the gunman were both riding bicycles. When their paths crossed, the gunman opened fire. This is the suspect caught in surveillance video just before the deadly attack.
With more on the manhunt and the crime, here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Houston investigators say as soon as Joseph Pappas suspected that investigators were closing in on him, he jumped on his ten-speed Schwinn bicycle, peddled away from his neighborhood, and disappeared. Police chief Art Acevedo says there's a sense of urgency to capture the 62-year-old murder suspect.
ART ACEVEDO, CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE: He's in great shape. He's a great marksman, and he's a great danger. So let's hope that somebody knows where he's at and calls us. LAVANDERA (voice-over): Investigators believe Pappas' motive for killing Dr. Mark Hausknecht was a grudge he's held for more than 20 years. That's when the suspect's mother died during surgery while being operated on by Hausknecht.
(on-camera): On the morning of July 20th, Dr. Hausknecht was riding his bicycle down this sidewalk. His wife said investigators told her that the gunman emerged from this scaffolding head-on and fired at him three times. It was a brazen attack. It occurred at the height of morning rush hour on this busy street.
Perhaps the gunfire was muzzled by the sounds coming from this construction site. But police say it was a well thought out and planned attack. So much so that it allowed the gunman to ride away on his own bicycle this way as if nothing had happened.
(voice-over): Chief Acevedo tells CNN evidence found inside Pappas' home shows the murder was painstakingly planned.
ACEVEDO: This man was actually studying this doctor, studying what he was doing for a while, and it took great planning and ultimately great skill to do what he did. And I'm just thankful that we now know who he is and now with the help of the public and our great investigators, we'll find him. One way or the other, we're going to find him.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Joseph Pappas spent 30 years working in law enforcement as a constable in Houston. He started a real estate business several years ago.
JOE DONALDSON: That's where he paid our bill.
LAVANDERA, COURIER (voice-over): Joe Donaldson owns a legal courier business and he says he spoke to Joseph Pappas just before the murder. Pappas hired Donaldson to file legal documents in a Houston courthouse. The documents transferred the deed for his Houston home to a woman in Ohio. Donaldson says after leaving, Pappas called him multiple times that morning to make sure the documents were filed.
DONALDSON: He was very nervous. He opened the door to a crack looking out. Then he opened it a little more. Then he opened it fully and was looking up and down the street, seeing if anyone else was there.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): For days Joseph Pappas stayed around his Houston home. One neighborhood even says he was seen mowing his lawn this past Sunday morning before disappearing when police first checked on his home on Tuesday night.
COOPER: Ed joins us now from Houston. So what are investigators worried about given his law enforcement background?
LAVANDERA: You know, multiple things. And he might try to, you know, carry out a similar attack or want to -- you know, he's very skilled at being able to handle the firearm, that sort of thing. But one of the other concerns is he might somehow still have access to police radio scanners and be able to monitor the manhunt for him. The police chief here in Houston tells me that that is one thing they are concerned about and that they're looking into it and how they handle the search for him.
COOPER: And they're assuming he's still armed and dangerous?
LAVANDERA: Yes. Absolutely. You know, the police chief says that, you know, no reason to believe he isn't armed and dangerous at this point given what he's already done. The other thing is that they have talked to somebody close to Pappas, who told police that he received a text from Pappas several days ago that he might want to commit suicide. So police either believe he's suicidal or dangerous. So police don't know exactly what they're dealing with, and that's what makes them concerned. Anderson.
[21:00:06] COOPER: Ed. Ed Lavandera, I appreciate the update. Thank you.
Quick reminder, don't miss our daily interactive newscast on Facebook all "Full Circle" You can see weeknight 6:25 p.m. eastern at facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle.
News continues, I want to hand over to Chris. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts right now.
CUOMO: All right, thank you my friend.