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W.H.: Senate On Track To Introduce Pres. Trump's Shutdown Proposal Tomorrow, Democrats Say It's A Non-Starter; Pres. Trump Marks MLK Day With Visit To Memorial; Rep. Jeffries Refers To Pres. Trump As A "Grand Wizard"; Sen. Sanders: We Have A President Who Is A "Racist"; Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris Announces Presidential Campaign; Cleanup on Aisles Rudy, Part 2; Interview with Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut; White House: Senate on Track to Introduce President Trump's Shutdown Proposal Tomorrow. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired January 21, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with a question. Is President Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani really bad at his job or is he very, very good at muddying the waters?

Keeping them honest, whichever it is, he was at it again today and over the weekend. But, first, quickly, some background, not withstanding the water muddying and smoke blowing the central facts were pretty clear. When we left you Friday night, Robert Mueller's office had taken a rare step of disputing some aspects of reporting "BuzzFeed" that President Trump instructed his former corporate attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the real estate deal the Trump Organization was pursuing in Moscow.

Now, remember, Cohen falsely told lawmakers contact with Russian nationals on the project had ended before the February 2016 Iowa caucuses. He said, quote: I made these misstatements, he told the judge, to be consistent with individual one's political messaging and out of loyalty to individual one. He lied he says, his lying benefited the boss's campaign.

The only question, did his boss, Donald Trump, tell him to do it? "BuzzFeed" was and still is reporting that Robert Mueller has evidence he did. Mueller's office is saying this, quote, "BuzzFeed's" description of statements to special counsel's office and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate.

That was where things stood going into the weekend. Then, Rudy Giuliani took to the air waves and spoke to the "New York Times" and the waters got muddy. We will bring that you in a moment, after a short swim in the crystal clear waters of what candidate and President-elect Trump actually said about whether or not he ever had any dealings in Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do in Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world. We're not involved if Russia.

I know nothing about the inner workings in Russia. I don't deal there. I have no businesses. I have no loans from Russia.

I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we've stayed away.


COOPER: Remember that. Jake Tapper, especially in light of what Giuliani has told the "New York Times" leaving the newspaper with the headline the Trump Tower Moscow discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won. Mr. Giuliani quoted Donald Trump as saying, during an interview with the "New York Times."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": He said he had no dealings with Russia and as by your own admission, he was talking with people in Moscow about Trump Moscow project through November, 2016.

GIULIANI: He wasn't talking to people in Russia about anything. He didn't talk to people in Russia at all. There is not a single stitch of evidence. It was an early stage proposal that never got beyond a non-binding letter of intent that was being run by Michael Cohen. It was his project. And it was being done while Donald Trump was running for president of the United States and wasn't focused on that at all.


COOPER: Got that. At the same exact time that candidate Trump was suggesting he had no business dealings in Russia whatsoever, his fixer and attorney Michael Cohen was pursuing a deal with Moscow worth according to court filings, hundreds of millions of dollars that his boss knew nothing about. Really? This is the same Donald Trump who cashed a check for 13 cents. You can Google it.

It's also the same Donald Trump who told reporters back in November, quote: There is a good chance I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business, why would I lose lots of opportunities? Does this sound like a guy who is unaware of a time of deal with several million bucks in a place he had been obsessed with for a long time, and at the same time he supposedly knew nothing about the massive pay day that Vladimir Putin was dangling out there. He was saying things like this.


TRUMP: I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.

Putin did call me a genius and he said time I'm the future of the Republican parties. He's off to a good start. He is very much of a leader. Anytime anything wrong happens, they

like to say the Russians, they don't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.

Number one, NATO is obsolete. Number two the people aren't paying their way. He said nice things about me. I like him because he called me genius.


COOPER: So as the Trump Organization was pursuing what could have been the president's biggest single payday in decades, the president was lying about pursuing any deals having any busy ties with Russia. That and saying nice things about the man who could make or break the deal at the expense of our NATO allies and the U.S. intelligence community.

Now, again, Rudy Giuliani says this deal wasn't really a deal. It was a kind of a sort of hypothetical thing that the president had no clue about and wouldn't be wrong in any event. But most importantly, the president knew nothing about it, which is odd according to what he said to "The New York Times'" Maggie Haberman also over the weekend.

Here it is again just in case you forgot. The Trump Tower Moscow negotiations were going on from the day I announced to the day I won, Mr. Giuliani quoted Mr. Trump as saying during the interview with "The New York Times". Now, you might think that this sound just like the president's TV lawyer is admitting that the entire time the candidate Trump was denying any business contacts with Russians, the same period his fixer lied to Congress about the same time frame Donald Trump was running for president and right up to the moment, quote, to the day I won, during that same time frame, talks were under way with Russians, about a massive real estate deal in Moscow.

You might think that, because, well, that's what he said. But TV lawyers always have a trick or two up their sleeve. Today's trick, Rudy Giuliani said it was all hypothetical. Here's what he shared on social media. My recent statements about the discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then candidate Donald Trump were hypothetical and not based on conversation I had with the president.

So, OK, keeping them honest, I thought that when you directly quote somebody, it means that somebody actually said it. Rudy Giuliani directly quoted the president. There is no such thing as a hypothetical attributed direct quote. It's not the way the English language works.

And as a TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, he gets plenty of opportunity to practice using said English language. Yet time and again, he ends up backtracking after revealing later what turned out to be inconvenient truths about his clients, truth like, well, yes, the president did pay for Stormy Daniels silence.


GIULIANI: It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: So they funneled it through a law firm.

GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.

HANNITY: Oh, I didn't know it. He did in.



COOPER: I like how he has a piece of chicken in his mouth.

Hannity didn't see one that coming. And Chris Cuomo never expected this one just last week.


GIULIANI: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, you have.

GIULIANI: I have not. I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.


COOPER: There's a lot going on there.

Oh, wait, you mean right there might have been collusion. Just not the president, only the rest of the campaign.

Now, along with Chris, and Sean Hannity and Maggie Haberman, you can add Jake Tapper to the, wait, what did Rudy just say club?


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But you just acknowledged that it's possible that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony --

GIULIANI: Which would be perfectly normal. Which the president believed was true.


COOPER: Keep it running.

There is nothing perfectly normal about the subject of an investigation discussing the testimony with a witness. There is nothing perfectly normal about a candidate's company with or without his knowledge chasing a lucrative business deal during an election with the country that's interfering in that election. There is nothing normal about just about everything Rudy Giuliani has said over the past months and years about his client's behavior. And while we still don't know what it adds up to, none of it adds up to normal.

More now from a lawmaker who's been watching the story unfold is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Jim Himes of Connecticut. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: Congressman, do you have any understanding of what Rudy Giuliani is doing here? Is it possible there's actually some kind of strategy behind all this?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Anderson, I think there is. Take a step back from the sort of latest crazy that you get from Giuliani and this is, of course, into the new thing. What's happening here is if you think about it, Giuliani is not actually the president's lawyer. Giuliani is a trusted mouthpiece to speak to the right wing, to speak to the president's base.

And when Giuliani does what he does almost every week, which is put out contradictory, odd, strange statements, what it does is it muddies the water. At the end of the day, that is the objective here. I think that's the sort of main point of Rudy Giuliani. He, as he says one thing and then walks it back, he raises questions in people's minds who are inclined to be sympathetic to the president as to whether there is any noticeable truth .

And if there is no noticeable truth and if one person says one thing and one network says another and another network says something different, when Bob Mueller comes out with his report, there is a big chunk of the American population that doesn't believe there is such a thing as objective truth and Rudy Giuliani's regular performances are designed to sort of promote that notion.

COOPER: I mean, the only alternative theory is that he's losing it. If that was the case, I don't think, you know, somebody in the president's orbit would decide not to put him out there constantly.

[20:10:05] So, I mean, I think to your point, there has to be that strategy behind it, because the alternative is they're continuing to allow this think, you know, somebody in the president's orbit would decide not to put him out there constantly.

So I think to your point, there has to be that strategy behind it. Because the alternative is they're continuing to allow this person to just say stuff, not based on any, you know that we know of information or later claims that wasn't based on any information.

HIMES: Yes. I think that's right. Look, nobody would hire Rudy Giuliani to be their defense attorney in the classic sense of the word if they were being charged with a crime. It's probably been decades since Rudy Giuliani argued in court.

He is here because he goes on TV, which, of course, not a typical thing for a defense attorney. Anybody that's watched somebody charged or go to trial, the attorney says we will be proven right in court and makes no other comments to the press. Rudy Giuliani is on TV pretty much every week for the express purpose of speaking to the president's base -- by the way, many of whose members are in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, just to muddy the waters to deny, to obfuscate, to just throw sand in the gears.

COOPER: Right. Back in November about this deal in Russia, the president said there was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case, I would have gotten back into the business and why should I lose lots of opportunities? Does that make sense to you?

I mean, it sort of shows where his priorities were, even though he was running for president, there were still business was still foremost in his mind.

HIMES: Yes. Well, that statement says couple this I think so to me. First of all, obviously, it's a complete repudiation of the president's previous position which is he had nothing going on in Russia. Absolutely nothing, nada.

That turns out to be true, so now the president has a reason for why he had ongoing discussions with Russia. And, look, you know, at some level, programs it makes sense, I might lose the election, in which case I don't want to have badly damaged my business. But at any level of decency, right or wrong, when are you president, when there is some chance you might be the leader of the free world, it is at that point, of course, that you stop doing anything that could give somebody leverage over you, that might create a sense of a conflict of interest.

The president, of course, doesn't understand the notion of a conflict of interest or of somebody having lever annual on him. So, it's not surprising he came out the way he did on that statement.

COOPER: In sort of what Giuliani is saying about the president talking to Cohen before he testified in front of Congress, Giuliani says it would be, quote, perfectly normal to have such a conversation.

I mean, it may not be illegal, depending on what was or wasn't said, it's not perfectly normal, is it?

HIMES: No, it's not normal. There is nothing normal about this.

And you're exactly right. It would probably be improper at any time for somebody who is being investigated to talk to a witness in that investigation. But where it could become seriously problematic and illegal, of course, is whether the president suggested, asked, demanded that Michael Cohen say any particular thing, certainly if that particular thing was not true.

And, of course, we know that Michael Cohen is not particularly faithful to the truth. The president is not particularly faithful to the truth so if there was a meeting and the president was encouraging Michael Cohen to lie to the special counsel, this, of course, takes us back to the still controversial "BuzzFeed" article. That is a very serious problem.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Himes, appreciate your time. Thank you. HIMES: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Let's get more perspective now. Joining us is Neal Katyal who served as solicitor general of the Obama administration, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

So, Jeff, I mean, are these shifting narratives from Giuliani and kind of putting out a statement to explain what his prior statement meant, is that a problem for him? Or is that just a part of his strategy?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's probably a mix of things. But I think there is one overriding goal at the moment in the Trump defense camp, which is that he has now submitted answers to the Mueller investigation under oath, signed, the take home exam.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: We haven't seen it, the results, but we know he's done it. Giuliani has to tailor all his comments to what Trump said in those answers. Undoubtedly, some of those Trump answers are different from the things he said all along, especially about when these negotiations were going on.

I mean, as you heard from -- in all those things, where he said there was nothing going on. Obviously, something was going on. So, Giuliani has to sort of move Trump's answer in line with what Trump said in the questionnaire without seeming to. And it's impossible. So he sounds ridiculous.

COOPER: Gloria, what are your sources telling you the strategy is behind what he's doing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I mean, you have to assume, to Jeff's point, that the real Trump lawyers, not the TV lawyer, but the real Trump lawyers, are pulling their hair out over this. Because they have answered questions in writing and this could, if there are -- if there is a difference between what Rudy Giuliani is saying in his many television appearances and what they've written to Mueller, this gives Mueller the opportunity to say, wait a minute, I need to talk to the president about what he actually said because his TV lawyer is telling me something very different from what is in the written answers.

And I think that could be a real problem for them. I mean, the congressman suggested there might be a strategy that he's crazy like a fox and he's throwing up everything against the wall so he can deflect and confuse people and there may be something to that. But I think it really is more likely that Giuliani may be talking to the president a number of times and maybe getting different stories each time he talks to the president. And then the other lawyers are kind of going nuts over this.

COOPER: Neal, I mean, if Giuliani is now saying things that conflict with the president's written answers to Mueller, how much weight would that carry in terms of Mueller's efforts to get some sort of follow-up interview with the president?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER U.S. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: I think it can carry a lot. I think putting it mildly, Rudy Giuliani is not behaving like most lawyers, whether on TV lawyers or any other kind, certainly not a presidential lawyer. I mean, really it's like every Sunday is now open mic night with Rudy and it's like, you know, what's he going to test out this time in terms of material? It will bomb and the next day, he's got to walk it back. We've seen it now time and time again.

But you know, one pattern that has emerged is, that first time he says something, those turn out to be true. So, like a year-and-a-half ago, he said it was a Muslim ban. It turned out it was a Muslim ban. Then he said the president knew about the $130,000 payments to Stormy. It turned out that that was also true.

And now, last week, you know, with Chris Cuomo, he said, he essentially admitted there was some collusion, it wasn't with the president. He tried to walk that back, it does seem all of that is true as well. So, I think one of the things going on here, and I think Jeff pointed it out, is that you've got this Mueller -- these answers to Mueller, but you got a guy who is serially incapable of telling the truth. And he hires people around him incapable of telling the truth.

And so, any lawyer on TV is faced with this difficult thing that Giuliani faces.

TOOBIN: But I do think his lawyers have beaten him up enough so that the answers to questions under oath are either sufficiently vague or sufficiently true that they will not be actually perjurious. But those true answers have to be different from what he said all through the campaign. I mean, it's just obvious --

KATYAL: I agree with you --

TOOBIN: It's just obvious that his story has changed and you can see Giuliani is sort of moving the story in his ham-handed way towards the way it's been.

BORGER: Well, Rudy Giuliani is telling every story. He's not, you know, he's not advancing the story. What he's doing is he's telling different versions of the same story. And that could be because that's what his client is doing.


KATYAL: Oh, I think one thing that's going on here is that there's -- we're talking about the crime. That's what Jeff is talking about, that careful lawyering in answers to Mueller. There is something really significant here. Forget if a crime was committed with Russia. Trump lied to the American people over and over again before the 2016 election, saying no business dealings with Russia and all this stuff Anderson that you played in your video. Forget about if it's a crime or not, that is something of momentous

importance. And I think this is why Giuliani is trying to walk these two roles, lawyer and public relations consultant.

COOPER: Right. I mean, the sheer totality of lies that have been told, I'm not -- I'm not sure it registers with, you know, the hard core believers.

BORGER: It may not. Look. I don't think --


COOPER: I mean, in normal times, I think, Neal, what you are saying is, yes, it turns out he was lying. He was lying the whole time. That would be a big deal. At this point, it seems sort of normal or baked in.

KATYAL: But this is a different kind of lying. It's not lying about some personal affair or something like that. This is lying about money, and hundreds of millions of money he stood to gain, a $50 million payoff they were going to give to Putin. It was on the eve of the election.

And, you know, after repeated times of denying it, I think there is a reason why there is so much lying to this day, which is they don't want the American public to find out what happened.

TOOBIN: And it's even more than that. I think it's not lying about money, about sort of financial transactions. It's about where was Donald Trump's loyalty actually going? Was his loyalty to the American?

[20:20:02] Or was it to the Russian government that was in a position to make him hundreds of millions of dollars? That's what makes this so profound.


BORGER: And that's what had everybody scratching their heads throughout, you know, the election, which is why he is being so nice to Putin?


BORGER: And why is he saying the things he's saying about Putin? Well, this may explain it.

COOPER: Gloria, thank you. Jeff Toobin, Neal Katyal, as well, always.

Coming up next, the shutdown, a new move from Senate Republicans and more questions about just what kind of deal maker the president actually is. Is he actually a dealmaker? We'll talk about it with two people who have seen him operate up close.

And later, lawmakers go there, openly calling the president a racist. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:01] COOPER: Day 31 of the government shutdown. The pain, of course, is spreading, 800,000 men and women not getting paid. Food stamps may end shortly. The FBI is setting up food banks for employees.

Tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may introduce some legislation to end the shutdown. Tomorrow, whether Senate Democrats will get on board, that remains to be seen.

And late today, here's what the president tweeted about the speaker of the House and the wall at the center of the standoff. If Nancy Pelosi thinks that walls are immoral, why isn't she requesting that we take down all the existing walls between the U.S. and Mexico, even the new ones just built in San Diego at their very strong urging? Let millions of unchecked strangers flow into the U.S.?

In a moment, we'll dig deeper into the president's negotiating strategy and his skills, which he points to frequently as a dealmaker.

But, first, our Kaitlan Collins at the White House with the very latest.

So, 31 days, Kaitlan, into this, still no deal. What are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're essentially where we were when we started this 31 days ago. As you noted, Mitch McConnell is expected to introduce the president's proposal tomorrow that could then set us up for potentially a Thursday vote. But not one Democrat has voiced support for the president's proposal since he laid it out on Saturday. And a senior Democratic aide tells our Hill team that essentially this is a non-starter, and they do not think it's going to get 60 votes to pass, even if that's what the White House is hoping that they can convince some Democrats to come over to their side.

Now, the White House knows there's very much a possibility that won't go anywhere. But then at least they feel that the optics on their side, that they had made it look like they're at least trying to move these negotiations forward. And it's the Democrats who are refusing to come on board.

COOPER: And the Senate Republicans put forth a show of support, what are we seeing from Democrats?

COLLINS: Well, Democrats are expected to layout some bills this week, too, that include up to a billion dollars for border security funding. But no money for the president's border wall. Of course, that would mean that that bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, especially according to Republicans there, who said that they won't do that if it's not the money the president wants as a part of that.

So, as you can see from what those two plans are from Republicans and Democrats, neither of them seem like they have a future, that they're going to go anywhere. And essentially, that brings us back where we started. White House aides are getting desperate, hoping to find some kind of exit strategy here. That's why they laid out the president's proposal on a Saturday afternoon, because they are aware of these polls holding most Americans are holding the president responsible, not Democrats.

And, Anderson, if they can't find a way out in the next few days, they want to be able to change the optics.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.

The shutdown calls into question what President Trump's long considered his forte, or a book title, "The Art of the Deal." In recent "New York Times" story, Russ Buettner and Maggie Haberman write: As he did during decades of business, Mr. Trump has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator, and induced chaos.

Joining us now, two people who have seen Donald Trump's deal making up close, former Trump executive Barbara Res, author of "All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction". Also, Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, also co-author of "The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence".

Barbara, I mean, is Donald Trump a master deal negotiator?

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You know, I have been thinking about this a lot, because people have been asking me this and also, because, you know, it's in the news. He did have certain things that he could do well and he did do them better when he started out than as time went on. He got more used to getting his way and more demanding.

But he's never been any kind of a collaborator. He's never worked with other people. As a matter of fact, even when he had partners, it killed him to make money for other people. He always bought his partners out.

COOPER: Is that right?

RES: Yes, he was a one-man show. Even employees, he'd make a deal to give them a piece of something, and then when it became valuable, he'd get very angry at them.

COOPER: Really?

RES: Donald wanted his hard work to inure to his benefit and his only.

You know, this is about the country. It's not about him. I think that there is a little bit of questioning where that line is and what he's acting now. He's letting his ego get completely in the way of the negotiation, which he didn't. He didn't always.

COOPER: Early on, he didn't do that? RES: No, no, first of all, he worked with people much more closely

and trusted people, politicians mostly, people that he owned. And lawyers that were really, really connected and had done this a million times and he let them take the ball and listened to them a lot. As time went over, he thought the ideas were his. He thought his ideas were better. That's when I saw some of the changes in him.

COOPER: Michael, was President Trump actually a great deal maker when he was a businessman or was that more public relations than reality thing?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what Barbara said about the president doing well at the beginning with negotiations, especially working with others, especially when his father was his primary partner and people forget that in the beginning with Trump Tower, which Barbara worked on and also with the Commodore Hotel, which was his first really big project, his father was really the power behind the power.


And Donald was very good at working with his dad and working with their relations that his dad had built up over the years. But later, you look at things like -- when he bought a part of Eastern Air Lines and rebranded it as the Trump Shuttle or the Plaza Hotel, he was terrible at making those deals and even worse at executing them.

So overtime, I think he came to regard his own abilities as maybe something like what people read in "The Art of the Deal." Now, most of what's in "The Art of the Deal" was not from the President, it was from Tony Schwartz.


D'ANTONIO: Even the title came from Tony. So, we have to wonder at every step of the way what is Donald Trump really responsible for and how much is just this hype that's the development of his reputation.

COOPER: And none of which would really matter if he wasn't the President of the United States and meeting one-on-one with Vladimir Putin multiple times, meeting one-on-one with Kim Jong-un with no one else present in the room, which is highly unusual. I mean, he -- for whatever reason, he insists on meeting with these people alone. I mean, the polite explanation is that he feels so confident in his deal making that by force of personality he can somehow make something happen.

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Yes, but that wouldn't explain the fact that he doesn't want anybody to know what was said. I'm very worried about that, to be honest.

COOPER: Are you?

RES: Yes. But going back to what Michael said, he did have a lot of skills in the beginning. And one of the things that he doesn't boast about, what we talked like his greatest skill is his salesmanship. He could sell ice in the winter to Eskimos. I mean -- and he built his reputation on him selling himself and this deal making thing is a part of that and he has sold himself to people.

In looking back at it, they say, "Well, some deals were good." But by launch, most of them were not so good, especially the later ones that Michael mentioned, like the Plaza and the Shuttle.

COOPER: Right.

RES: I mean, he just paid the asking and he did --

COOPER: Also the casino stuff, that didn't end well, right?

RES: No, no it didn't, especially the Taj Mahal, which was, you know, probably his downfall. He had to have it. It was the biggest casino in Atlantic City. That's when I say his ego took over.

COOPER: Is that a part -- Michael, the part of the problem, you think, his ego?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, it's definitely is. I remember when I discussed with then businessman Trump this idea of negotiating so that everyone wins. And, you know, experts on negotiation will say that the key to it is having empathy for the other party to understand where their win is located and then get to a place where everybody wins.

And so I said to him, "What do you think of this concept of win-win?" And he said, "I prefer the concept of I win." So that's really where he's at when it comes to negotiation. And it's I think why he has so much trouble on the world stage. There are so many moving parts, so many bilateral relationships that he can't keep track of them.

COOPER: Yes. Michael D'Antonio, Barbara Res, great to have you. Thank you.

RES: My pleasure.

COOPER: It's always a pleasure.

On this Martin Luther King Day, some lawmakers are letting loose on President Trump during sharp contrast between the President and the late civil rights icon. There was no holding back. Was it fair? You'll hear it next.


[20:37:07] COOPER: Each Martin Luther King Day, U.S. presidents typically observed the holiday with service projects or by delivering remarks at the ceremony. Today, President Trump did neither. He did visit the late civil rights icon's memorial in Washington. This President has faced an onslaught of criticism from the left for setting back race relations in America during his time in office. And some lawmakers took it further today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: We have a hater in the White House, the birther in chief, the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


COOPER: That was Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. This is Senator Bernie Sanders.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Today we talk about justice and today we talk about racism. And I must tell you, it gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a President of the United States who is a racist.


COOPER: Well, they certainly went there. Joining me now is Charles Blow, an opinion columnist for "The New York Times," and a former Trump campaign adviser, Steve Cortes.

So, Charles, is it appropriate for a sitting member of Congress to refer to the President as the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't object to that because I've referred to him as the grand wizard of birtherism, myself. I'm vexed by the whole idea that we keep coming back to this question about whether or not the man is a racist when it is clear that his pattern of behavior over his entire life suggests that he is. And the fact that we keep discussing this as if it is an arguable point does damage to the truth.

I mean, my definition of this is a combination of your words and deeds and your responses to other people being aggrieved by your words and your deeds, right? Do you say things that are racially insensitive or racist? Do you do things that are racism and racist? When people call you on it, do you apologize for it? Do you try to make clarify? Do you back off of it anyway? He's not done any of that.

He has done all of it to the former two to qualify him as a racist. The fact that we keep coming back to this, I remember, I've been in news for 24 years. I remember a time when we did not call people a liar because we were saying, "Well, we don't know what their intention was." We said intent was the definition of lying. What's in their heart? People keep -- and now we used to say lie all the time because, in fact, it is not about what's in your heart. It's about what is true and what is not. It is about the result of it.

This is the same thing that we're now facing with this issue of race and racism. We keep saying, "Well, we don't know. I can't say. I don't know what's in his heart." It's not about his heart. It's not about his heart at all. And the fact to be keep posing this question as if it is a question does damage to the truth. COOPER: Steve, what about that? I mean, I clearly -- I assume you do not believe the President is racist? He certainly said racist things, yes?

[20:40:05] STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I won't certainly see that. What has he said that's racist, Anderson?

COOPER: Well, calling African countries, you know, asshole countries. The people there have AIDS in Haiti. The people in Nigeria live in huts.


COOPER: That he'd rather have--

CORTES: OK, is any of that substantiated on the record?


COOPER: That there's good people on both sides at a Neo-Nazi rally? I mean--

CORTES: OK, let's take those one at a time. The things you said about --


COOPER: Well, let's take the Neo-Nazi rally. Friday night, tiki torch march hundreds of white supremacists.

CORTES: OK, let's -- please.

COOPER: He's saying there's good people on both sides. A good -- they're --

CORTES: Let's talk about that.


CORSTER: That's not at all what he said. It was very, very clear in the context that he was saying there are good people on both sides of the Confederate monument debate and that is very true. There are people who believe it's important to preserve that heritage who are not racist.

COOPER: Right.

CORTES: He was not saying there were people--

COOPER: You were talking about the Friday night --


COOPER: Well, yes, he was talking about the Friday night tiki torch march where people are chanting -- CORTES: That's just not accurate. It was very clear in context that he was talking about the debate. But, look, I think on a bigger point, here's the issue. When people like Charles Blow and when people like Congressman Jeffries slander the President and continue to call him racist, here's what they're trying to do. They're trying to marginalize him and our entire movement.

They're trying to say you have no standing in polite society. Why? Because you're disrupting the system that we have built, which is built on identity politics which serves the interests, yes, of a lot of politicians who happen to be of color but not communities of color.

And I will tell you regarding the President's heart, Charles, that when I met him for the first time as president, the first time I talked to him in the Oval Office, the very first thing he said to me, no cameras anywhere, was what can I do to empower the Hispanic community? And we had substantive conversations, and by the way, not just conversations but results because my answer to him was small business.

The best way to have black and brown people in this country is to revitalize entrepreneurship, that has happened in so many ways. It's really amazing over the last few years. And I believe it's one of the reasons why Hispanic support for him according to PBS has risen all the way to 50 percent approval. If he's a racist, he's the worst racist in history.

COOPER: Charles?

BLOW: No, he's not the worst. And let me tell you this, let me say this as well. First of all, never say I told you about how to slandering anybody, I'm telling the truth and you're lying as you normally do, right?

CORTES: Calling him racist is a slander.


BLOW: I didn't interrupt you. I didn't interrupt you and you're not going to interrupt me. When you were telling the world that I was slandering somebody, I made to a few (ph), you were telling that lie, but you're not going to interrupt me.

And secondly, I believe that people who pretend not to see racism or defend racism, as Steve just did, are a part of that racism, which I believe Steve is a part of that racism.

CORTES: OK. So, I can't call you a slanderer for calling the President a racist but then you can ultimately call me a racist without any evidence, without any justification. This is exactly the --


BLOW: I just told you the parameters. The parameter that people who pretend not to see it and people who defend it are a part of it. CORTES: How do you -- how could you --

BLOW: You're just pretending not to see it.


BLOW: You're just pretending not see it and knowingly defended it, that means that you are part of it.

CORTES: How could you possibly know that I'm pretending? Tell me that.

COOPER: Steve, does the fact that the President didn't --

BLOW: In your case, you're not blind, because you're on television all the time, because they play the clips right in front of you like they play them in front of me, because you watch it on television. And then the fact that you come on and ask Anderson to enumerate the ways in which the President were racist, things that he has said they were racist, and pretended you didn't know them already was already false.

CORTES: No, because I disagree with you.


BLOW: And you knew it's false but you wanted to put Anderson on his or back in his heels to make him take up the time in trying to enumerate these things that you already knew.


BLOW: And then when I started enumerated those things, you started to try to defend them as not being what everybody in America knows that they are. That's fine, Steve. You can be a part of it.

CORTES: I disagree.

BLOW: I'm not knocking you for supporting his racism.


BLOW: I'm not -- I'm just saying that that's what you do.

CORTES: I'm not supporting, no.

BLOW: I have eyes and I have ears and I can see you doing it and you can see yourself doing it and you just need to own it.

CORTES: No. And as a matter of fact, you know what's truly racist is to say that we're going to consign an entire American communities to low expectations and quite frankly to low output when it comes to education, when it comes to the economy. What this President has done, he says, "No, we're going to have the highest expectation for all Americans of all colors. And our policies are going to pursue prosperity and security for black and brown people." First of all, last year was the first year in America in over a decade that Hispanic incomes outpaced white incomes. That's no accident. That's the result of policy. The reason for example that the President is so insists on a legal immigration, he knows that the principles, people, communities hurt by illegal immigration are black and Hispanic Americans.

COOPER: Steve --

CORTES: He wants to protect them and promote their interest.

BLOW: That's called a deflection. That is a classic deflection.

[20:45:02] CORTES: No.

COOPER: Does it concern you Steve --


CORTES: It's called you opposite of racism.

COOPER: Right.

BLOW: -- he switches it over. He takes -- he switches it over to talk about the economy. That's fine.


CORTES: No, I already talk about (INAUDIBLE). He was talking about the monument.

BLOW: -- but that is a classic example.

COOPER: Steve, does it--

BLOW: You're good at this, Steve. I applaud you. I applaud what you do. You're really good at this thing about you take an issue, you won't answer the question. If you do answer the question, you either lie or deflect and then you go to something else. That's interesting.

CORTES: What lie have I told?

BLOW: And it probably makes good television, but you are -- but it is a problem, what you're doing, because it is the damage to the truth.

COOPER: Steve, does it bother you that somebody like David Duke is such a supporter of the President and always, you know, giving him plaudits for the things he said? The fact that the things the President says register on the radar so strongly of white supremacists and racists --

CORTES: Right.

COOPER: -- does that not raise any concern to you?

CORTES: It's a fair question. Of course, it does. It bothers me when crazy support any legitimate political movement. So it bothers me that David Duke endorses the President. The President does not endorse him. It also bothers me that the shooter of Steve Scalise endorse --


COOPER: The President pretended he didn't know who David Duke was, but --

CORTES: -- Senator Sanders, it doesn't mean that Senator Sanders endorses that reprehensible attempted murderer. So, if we want to start affixing crazies to political movements, I think that's an unfair way to proceed and we can do it with both side. But, you know, would it bother me? Of course.


CORTES: It would bother me tremendously more if the President were doing anything in policy terms, if he would do anything that David Duke would actually like. In fact, he's doing the opposite. He's empowering blacks and white Americans.

BLOW: But that is precisely what he's doing. So I lived through David Duke writing for office in Louisiana. I was a college student there and watched it in real time. And also, this past election cycle, I tried a course that, you know, there are some amazing books written about David Duke's political life, not him as the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but his political life.

And the parallels both in terms of policy, in terms of the way he treats the media, in terms of the way he articulates his campaign and his appeal to white voters is exactly the same as Donald Trump.

And in fact, "The New York Times" wrote a story a couple years ago about how if you strip away all of the white supremacy stuff from David Duke it was basically a blue print for how the present GOP is running on a policy level, not about like I'm the ex-grand wizard of Ku Klux Klan on a positive level. He basically was the blue print. So what is that? So this idea of like, "Oh, I would be upset if it was a policy issue." You should be upset because it's exactly the policy.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Charles Blow, Steve Cortes, I appreciate it. Thank you.

The Democratic field for the 2020 presidential election is getting more crowded. Seemingly by the day, California Senator Kamala Harris is the latest to announce. We'll have more on that, next.


[20:51:30] COOPER: It is just about a year until the first major battleground test for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa, in New Hampshire, California's junior senator, Kamala Harris, made her entry official today, joining a quickly growing field. Here's what she said today at Washington's Howard University. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We are a diverse country, yes. And some people would suggest that in diversity when there is a diverse population one cannot achieve unity. I reject that notion because this is my belief. Yes, we are diverse and we have so much more in common than what separates us. And when we emphasize that commonality, when we recognize that commonality, we will achieve greater unity.


COOPER: The Democratic field is bound to get bigger. Big question, of course, is who will have the staying power and appeal to the broadest Democratic base. Joining me now is CNN Political Commentator Van Jones and a former Special Assistant to President Obama, and Kirsten Powers, columnist for "USA Today".

Van, first of all, your reaction to Kamala Harris entering the race.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm happy. I mean, I've known her for 20 years. You know, I'm raising my family in California, she's extraordinary. She's one of those. She's a special kind of a person. She's a special kind of a leader. You -- people forget -- you know, people who talk about California, California is mostly Alabama (ph), okay? You got a blue bay area and a blue L.A. The rest of that state is bright red and she's able to compete in both places. And so, I think she's going to do very, very well with this Democratic Party.

COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, do you see -- do you think anybody knows how to run against President Trump at this point?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. You know, I think this is uncharted territory, you know, for most politicians because they haven't had to run against somebody like Donald Trump and we saw what he did in the Republican primary where he just threw everybody off base so much.

Now, we've had a little more experience with him, I think, so it was sort of a shock to the system. But, you know, I still haven't seen anybody other than Nancy Pelosi really who seems to know how to interact with him and stand up with him and come out on top.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, Van?

JONES: Yes. Listen, I remember when he came down the escalator and we were all kind of joking about him and it kind of appalled by him and there was this kind of running jokes about, you know, how many more weeks before Trump, you know, blows himself up and we're still having that conversation, you know, three years later.

I think that the Democratic field that there's going to be two things happening with this field. Who is going to be the best champion to sort of go up against Trump and Trump is and people going to, you know, back of their mind, "How can this person stack up against Trump?"

I think the other one is who can pull this party together because, you know, our party really is a big tent and there are different views about should we just go all out progressive, all out diverse, or should we tack more towards the center. And that's going to get sorted out.

COOPER: Do you have -- where do you stand on that?

JONES: Look, it really comes down to the candidate. If you have a world class candidate, you can do either of those. If you've got people, somebody who looks good but they just can't pull it off, then either strategy will fail.

So, I'm actually excited because we're going to have, -- we were laughing at the Republicans for having what they have 12 or something last time, we're going to have like 22. We're going to have like risers of the debate until have like -- when we got like the choirs stands at the debate.

So, it's going to be -- people are going to be tested. Whoever our nominee is, it's going to have overcome everybody in this party and they're going to be very strong.

[20:55:01] COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, is there a weakness in having so many candidates? I mean, obviously Democrats are counting in as a great strength to have 20 people running. Is that -- does the best rise to the top?

POWERS: Well, I think they're going to have to. Of course it would be more ideal if there was somebody else who was the perfect candidate, who would make everybody happy but that person doesn't exist.

And I think that there's a lot of tension in the Democratic Party about what people want in their candidate and I think that there's going to be a lot of pressure, obviously, from the progressives who have gotten much more influential in the Democratic Party.

And so, I think that it's probably because nobody has emerged as really the one, there is no Barack Obama type person who has emerged, necessarily. Some people thought it was Beto O'Rourke but I'm not sure about that.

And so I think it actually is good, because I think you do want to have as many people as possible so that you can start to figure out, you know, who might be that person and see how they perform on the national stage to make a judgment about what they would be like against Donald Trump.

COOPER: Then, if Joe Biden gets in the race, can you -- would President Obama endorse him?

JONES: You know, that's a very good question and I don't have a good answer, except to say that even when Hillary Clinton ran, he didn't endorse until what, early June. So he stayed out but it was really just Hillary and Bernie.

COOPER: Right.

JONES: Nobody had any doubt about who Obama wanted at that contest and he stayed out until, I think it was like June 6th.

COOPER: Right.

JONES: So, I don't think Obama is going to come in and clear this field. Also, a lot of these are Obama babies. I mean, you know, Beto is somebody who looks up to Obama, who is really I think model himself after Obama. Kamala Harris and Obama are peers and friends. Certainly, you know, Biden is somebody who goes down in history with Obama. So I -- if Obama didn't clear this field of Bernie for Hillary, I don't see how he waits until 19 people sit down.

COOPER: All right. Van, thank you very much. Kirsten Powers, as well, appreciate it.

Stay with us, a lot more ahead. Our very latest on the breaking news on the government shutdown, possible action in the Senate tomorrow and the new move by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and one of the latest in the Russian investigation and Rudy Giuliani's latest walk back.