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Special Counsel: Russians Altering Evidence in Mueller Probe to Discredit Investigation; Interview with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware; Sources: President Trump Singled Out DNI Dan Coats in Morning Rant About Intelligence Team; Interview with Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired January 30, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, now says Russians are now meddling with his investigation. That's the bottom line in yet another court filing that's just as striking and what it implies is what it alleges. Secret material allegedly altered, then made public to discredit the special counsel's work. There's no shortage of twists and turns and wheels within wheels to the story.

It is also as simple as this -- people being investigated apparently trying to derail the investigation.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins me now with more.

So, what are the details of this new Mueller filing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, so, exactly what you pointed out there, Anderson, is that essentially, the Russians were able to obtain documents from the Mueller team, these were documents that were given to defense attorneys representing a Russian company that has been charged by the Mueller team for the troll farm, disinformation campaign, and those documents, important to point out, some of them non-sensitive documents, were then put out over the Internet and shared.

And what's key here also is that not only did they use some of the real documents that the Russians here had their hands on, they also then altered some of these documents, in essence, trying to discredit the Mueller team. And obviously, a lot of concern from the Mueller team, from the FBI, which says they have linked this activity to the Russians, they say that the website that put this information out came from Russia.

And so, obviously, the concern now is, for investigators to be careful, and not give anymore documents to the Russians.

COOPER: So, I mean, I -- this is something the Mueller team has been concerned about for awhile now, right?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, they have. And they've been fighting this in court. Every time the defense attorneys, it's for the specific company Concord Management, have come to court, they are fighting the charges, and every time they've come to the court, they've been asking for more documents. They've been asking that their clients have access to these documents.

Specifically one of the main people they're asking to have access to these documents is this man known as Putin's chef. Very close to Putin. Obviously a lot of concern that by giving some of these documents, it would release potentially very sensitive information.

And here's what they write, the Mueller team writes, that the sensitive discovery identifies uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in operations and interfere with lawful U.S. government functions like those activities charged in the indictment.

So, in essence, what the Mueller team is saying, they do not want the Russians to have access to any of this information, if they do, they will know about other people that are engaging, still continuing to try to interfere in the U.S. election, still trying to interfere in the U.S. government.

COOPER: So, just finally, I understand CNN was actually offered these documents last fall?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, we were. So, one of our reporters, they reached out to her via Twitter. It was a direct message, and they essentially said, we have these documents. We want to give them to you. We accessed them through a database, they say, that basically was from a Russian lawyer's company and they had permission to get access to it and they were willing to share these documents.

Our reporter reached out to the special counsel's office and also the defense attorneys and obviously we were suspect. We couldn't understand how they were able to get ahold of this information. And then today, we learned that it was the Russians, and they were trying to use it to essentially hurt the Russia investigation.

COOPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.

To get a better sense of the significance of this, I spoke earlier with Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


COOPER: Senator, the fact that Russians are waging a disinformation campaign against the Mueller investigation with documents directly from Mueller's team, how much does that concern you?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Anderson, this is just another very disconcerting way in which President Trump's interests seem to be aligned with Russia's. That there is news today that a Russian entity is using information from the defense team on the opposite side of Robert Mueller's investigation to try and discredit that very investigation, and that lines up in which the ways in which President Trump has been attacking and criticizing the Mueller investigation. It's deeply troubling.

COOPER: I mean, according to our reporting, it's been a concern to Mueller's team all along, that if they shared documents with Russian defense attorneys, those documents could end up in the wrong hands, and it seems like that's exactly what happened.

COONS: That's right. That is what happened. Anderson, that's why it's more important than ever that we have voices here in the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, speaking up in defense of Robert Mueller's investigation, and giving him the room, the resource us, the ability to make independent decisions that he needs to reach a conclusion to this investigation.

I am grateful that Senators Graham and Tillis have joined Senators Booker and me in reintroducing our bipartisan bill to protect the Mueller investigation to ensure that a report is given to Congress at the end, and to make sure that Robert Mueller isn't interfered with, as he tries to conclude the most important steps of his investigation.

COOPER: Your colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, he is now calling for the FBI to brief the committee on the tactics used to the arrest of Roger Stone, saying that the arrest, it appears to have only added to the spectacle surrounding the Mueller investigation, the way he was arrested. Do you agree with Senator Graham?

COONS: Well, look, it is Chairman Graham's prerogative to question the tactics. What I saw in the press was that they used a lot of agents for a predawn raid and there's an argument he could have simply surrendered during daylight hours through his attorney's offices. But, you know, the larger point here is that roger stone, his arrest included raids on offices not in Florida, where he was, but in New York, to try and get access to some of his electronic devices.

I'll remind you that executing a warrant like that meant that a federal judge signed off on the idea that there was a high probability that something would be recovered in that raid that would lead to evidence of a crime. So, to me, the Roger Stone arrest and the items likely seized in subsequent searches lends even more credibility to the idea the Mueller investigation has not yet concluded.

COOPER: I want to ask you about this new reporting that at the G20 in Buenos Aires, President Trump sat down with Putin for several minutes with no translator, and no taker from the U.S. side. I mean, yet again, is there any reasonable explanation, in your opinion, why this seems to happen over and over again whenever these two leaders come together?

COONS: No, there isn't, particularly given the timing there, Anderson. The G20 was not long after a very aggressive action by Russian naval forces against Ukrainian forces just off the black sea. I mean, I'll remind you, relations between the United States and Russia soured significantly after they took aggressive action to annex Crimea, to send forces into eastern Ukraine, and that president Trump chose to sit down in person for what was reportedly 10 or 15 minutes with no translator, with no aide, and then with no readout to senior levels of the American government.

It would be deeply concerning and in some ways, unprecedented. This would not be the first time President Trump would have taken the opportunity at an international meeting to have a side-by-side conversation with Vladimir Putin. Why he feels compelled to keep doing this, why he keeps doing this, I think just adds more concern to the nature of the relationship between the Trump administration and Vladimir Putin, and personally, between our president and the president of the Russian federation.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, we still really have no idea what they discussed in Helsinki behind closed doors. It's unprecedented in presidential history but not in the history of this president, it seems.

Senator Coons, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, President Trump has just spoken out on some of special counsel Mueller's recent work. He talked to "The Daily Caller's" Saagar Enjeti. He joins us now by phone.

Saagar, thanks for being with us.

If you could, just walk me through what the president told you this evening, I understand he took issue with the arrest of Roger Stone.

SAAGAR ENJETI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE DAILY CALLER (via telephone): Yes, that's right, Anderson, and thanks for having me. He talked about how he was troubled with the way that the Roger Stone raid had been handled. He didn't understand why so much force had been used in the raid. We asked him whether he was asked to review FBI policy on raids concerning white collar crime, he said that that's something he would be taking a look at.

One of the things that he, you know, particularly concerned with, if you know Roger, if you look at roger, he's not somebody where it would seem the amount of force would be used. So, he clearly was troubled by what he saw.

COOPER: And, Saagar, did he have anything to say about the Mueller probe itself?

ENJETI: Yes, we talked a little bit about the Mueller probe. I asked him whether he had gotten a heads-up from the Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker about whether the Mueller probe would be wrapping up. He told us he had not spoken with Matthew Whitaker about that, about those comments, that he learned about them just like everybody else, and that -- broadly, I asked him about the Mueller report, whether it was something he would be signing off on as commander in chief, and he actually said he would be leaving that matter up to the Justice Department. So, that was very significant.

COOPER: And I understand he spoke about the 2020 field, as well. ENJETI: Yes, he did speak a little bit about the 2020 field. He

didn't name check any candidates in particular. We asked him who was his dream was to run against in 2020, he said he wasn't impressed by much of the field that currently exists, and so, he saw that and said currently all of them don't seem to be standing much of a chance against him.

[20:10:03] COOPER: He also, I understand, took a swipe at Howard Schultz who has not officially announced but is exploring it.

ENJETI: Yes, he said that he didn't have the it-factor, and he seemed quite boring in much of his media interviews. So, he, you know, he was his classic self in the interview when we were talking about this.

COOPER: It sounds like he's already trying to come up with a nickname.

Saagar, I appreciate. Saagar Enjeti from "The Daily Caller", thanks very much.

ENJETI: Thanks for having me, Anderson.

COOPER: More perspective now from our intelligence and legal team, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, retired CIA chief for Russia operations, Steve Hall, and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa joins us.

I mean, first of all, do you see any reason why the FBI should review its policies on the Roger Stone raid?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. I mean, this is -- it wasn't just about arresting Roger Stone, who I agree was not a likely threat to anyone. But it's about immobilizing a situation so he can't destroy documents or computer records. I mean, that's why all that force was used.

COOPER: Somebody who has been sort of talking about being arrested for quite some time, if they were going to destroy documents, wouldn't somebody already have destroyed documents?

TOOBIN: Well, it wasn't clear that Roger Stone was going to be arrested. And, you know, being arrested is very different, being told that you have to be, you know, you are going to be arrested, is different from being under investigation. I mean, I don't know the precise reasons that they went to those lengths, but you know, the FBI does this all the time, and that the idea that the only reason the president is interested in it is on the one occasion his friend of 30 years gets arrested -- I mean, that's not generally how law enforcement is supposed to be reviewed.

COOPER: Asha, as a former FBI agent yourself, do you see anything wrong with how the FBI handled the Stone raid?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. As far as I could tell, this was standard. As Jeffrey mentioned, there was a search warrant involved. You have many agents who are assigned to do different duties during a search. Some are there to secure certain areas that need to be searched. Some are there to -- if there are more people in the house, for example.

So, this, to me, seemed pretty standard, and I think it's really interesting that the president wants to look into this, given that, you know, just a year and a half ago, he gave a speech to law enforcement officials, telling them not to be too nice when they arrest people which, you know, at the time, was very troubling.

COOPER: Right, he was telling people -- police not to put their hands on the heads of suspects, not even people who had been convicted of anything, when they put them in a police car, in the back of a police car.

RANGAPPA: Exactly. And even from Roger Stone's account, the FBI was professional and respectful, as I would expect them to be when they did their job in this situation.

COOPER: Steve, just in terms of Russians trying to spread disinformation to discredit the Mueller investigation using information that they got from their attorneys from the Mueller investigation, is that straight out of the Russian playbook?

STEVE HALL, RETIRED CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Oh, yes, absolutely. It's definitely -- and we know from yesterday's testimony, from the intelligence community chiefs, we know the intelligence community assessment is the Russians are going to continue these type of information operations against the United States. They did it in 2016. They did it a little bit less or maybe less detectibly in 2018. I think it's coming in 2020.

We also know that the intelligence community has assessed that they're getting better at it, that they're learning as they go, which is to be expected. So, yes, the particularly interesting thing for me that I smiled at, this is such typical Russian modus operandi is, inserting false information and changing things around. People oftentimes ask, for example, about WikiLeaks.

Like, wow, what exactly did -- it doesn't matter. As long -- as soon as the Russians get access to something like WikiLeaks or get into the stream of information, they'll create whatever documents and whatever e-mails they want, they'll adjust however they want to. It's very interesting they targeted the Mueller investigation.

You got to ask yourself, why are they concerned about the Mueller investigation? Perhaps for the same reason that the president of the United States is.

COOPER: I mean, Jeff, it's not just that they're trying to discredit the Mueller investigation, it's that the documents came from the Mueller investigation. I mean, is illegal for their attorneys to give it to the Russians who then go publish it?

TOOBIN: Well, it depends if there was a protective order, or whether there was a specific order that they not share the documents. But this is actually a very hard problem. It comes up in sophisticated criminal prosecutions a lot, is that, you know, prosecutors say, the defendants are bad guys. But under the law, they are required to turn over evidence to them

under the discovery rules. And sometimes there are issues like, you know, the names of informants, stuff that is potentially life and death. So, judges and prosecutors and even defense attorneys have to navigate this problem of disclosing information, but not seeing it put to bad use. Here, apparently, it was put to inappropriate use. But the idea that you simply couldn't give these people information, that's just inconsistent with our laws, too. So, it's just a hard problem.

COOPER: Asha, I wonder, if things like this part of why counterintelligence investigations rarely result in criminal charges?

RANGAPPA: Exactly. This is like a textbook case. People always ask, why aren't there more charges being brought? And this is the reason why.

Counterintelligence cases use certain methods, sources that are typically highly classified. And you don't want your adversary to know what you know. The game is spy versus spy. That's how you have your advantage.

And as Jeffrey just mentioned, that's not how our criminal justice system works. You lay all your cards out on the table, and that is an opportunity, in this case, for Russia to find out exactly how our intelligence service, the FBI, is finding out what they're doing. And so, this is the tension being played out in court. And basically, Mueller is saying, we don't want this to be shared in an expansive fashion, because it could go back to Russia, and, by the way, now our fears have been realized, because this non-sensitive information has now shown up in this Twitter account that claims to have hacked our database or whatever.

So it is attention, and I think that it means that it is even more important that Mueller's report goes to congress, because many of these kinds of findings won't make their way into a criminal indictment.

COOPER: Yes. Asha Rangappa, I appreciate it. Steve Hall and Jeff Toobin as well. Thank you very much.

A lot going on tonight. There's breaking news related to the intelligence community's assessment. We've been talking about it. We have late word on the extent of the president's anger at one of his top intelligence officials.

And later, my conversation with Howard Schultz, who might run for president, and has been making some Democrats unhappy with the idea of an independent run. How does he reconcile his opposition to President Trump with the argument a third-party challenge might ensure Mr. Trump's re-election. I'll ask him.


[20:21:01] COOPER: There's breaking news that sheds some new light on President Trump's latest attack on the intelligence community, his intelligence community, our intelligence community. The day after top intelligence officials said the facts they see on Iran, North Korea, ISIS and Russia contradict what President Trump says, the president attacked.

Quote: The intelligence people, he tweeted, seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong. He concludes, perhaps intelligence should go back to school.

Now the tweets, of course, are the latest public eruption of a long- standing antipathy. Tonight, though, we have also learned how that antagonism played out in private.

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us now with breaking news.

What have you learned, Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know the president was angry, you can tell by the tweets he sent around 6:00 a.m. as he watched the highlights of those intelligence chief testifying on Capitol Hill. But what's new tonight we're learning the president singled out the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats specifically during his morning rant about that coverage of what had transpired yesterday.

Now, he didn't name Dan Coats in those tweets this morning, but according to two people familiar with what the president said today, he was going after Dan Coats specifically, and was very angry about the snippet of the interview that aired where Dan Coats was saying that it's unlikely North Korea would ever give up its nuclear weapons.

Now, that goes against what the president has said. He knows what Dan Coats' feelings on that are, because Dan Coats is part of that intelligence briefing that the president gets regularly. But what we're told is the president was more frustrated by the coverage here. Those TV chyrons, those newspaper headlines that said the intelligence chiefs contradicted him on this.

COOPER: So, I mean, it's not the first time the president has been unhappy with Coats, but is he in danger of being fired, do we know?

COLLINS: An official said that, no, his job is safe for now. They do not think Dan Coats is at risk of being fired but really their relationship had just started to recover from the wobbly position it had been in. You'll remember, last summer, when Dan Coats was on stage when he was informed about reporting that the White House was considering inviting the Russian president here to Washington.

And the president was angry at him then, they say that that subsided, but it's unclear what this will do for their relationship going forward.

Now, the president did only have one thing on his schedule today, an intelligence briefing. It's unclear if Dan Coats was there or he sent his deputy. But I should note that our Hill colleagues are getting some reports that the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has sent a letter to Dan Coats, saying that he is very concerned about the criticism that was shown in the president's tweets this morning, at the intelligence chiefs, and he says -- he calls on them to hold a meeting with the president, where he says, and I'm quoting Chuck Schumer now, he is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interests in the process. He says, you must find a way to make that clear to him.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger sits on the House Foreign Committee. We spoke about the president's behavior earlier tonight.


COOPER: Congressman, does it make any sense to you why this president continually refuses to believe what his intelligence chiefs are telling him?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Yes, I wish he wouldn't do that. You know, look, it's one thing. I think some of his points about Iran, you know, and getting out of the nuclear deal and the pushback has been accurate. There is a lot of internal strife in Iran like there's been for quite awhile. It seems to be growing.

But I don't see the reason to get -- enter a public spat with your intelligence agencies. These are a lot of your assessments when you decide what to do in Syria, for instance, or what do to in Iran or anywhere else. You have to rely on intelligence assessments when they come to you with whatever they're saying.

And they may disagree with your point, you're the president, you have a right to do whatever decision you want, for instance, in Syria, but to publicly disagree and try to shame, I don't understand that. I don't know what the president gets out of it. And I certainly know that it's damaging, I think, to our national security and what it looks like around the world.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's one thing to disagree with an analysis that you're given, but he's now publicly demeaning them and undercutting them publicly. I mean, between Director Coats, Director Haspel, Director Wray -- I mean, these are people between them who have more than 70 years of service to the country.

[20:25:06] KINZINGER: Yes, and the other concerning part about it, Anderson, is let's say we have a national security crisis again, which is not too far out of the possibilities, and then the president is going to need to come to the American people, he's going to need to explain a threat that exists and he's ultimately going to be relying on his intelligence community to give him that threat. And again, it's one thing to disagree. It's another thing to even take issue, because a lot of intelligence assessments are more as much opinions and theories based on information they have.

But to publicly disagree and then ultimately some day have to use that probably as an impetus for action, I think, can be damaging in the future. So, I wish he wouldn't do it. COOPER: Yes, I'm wondering, is it dangerous that, you know, that the

commander in chief doesn't accept what the most pressing national security threats actually are? It seems like something that enemies of the U.S. would be happy to exploit.

KINZINGER: Yes, I think if that's the case -- I'm not convinced the president isn't accepting the greatest threats are. I just think there's some aspect of, I don't know whether he's trying to protect his image in public or whatever. I've met with the president on things like Syria and I can tell you, he's very introspective about it, and he certainly does want to make sure ISIS is defeated and he does worry about another terrorist attack here.

I think he's getting not great information from people like Senator Rand Paul. But that's, again, that's his right as president. But to come out, I think, and publicly say I disagree with, frankly, this massive infrastructure of intelligence gathering we have, I don't see a benefit to that. Ultimately, I don't think it's doing anything to make him look better.

COOPER: Republican Senator John Thune when asked about the president's tweet today said he would prefer the president to stay off Twitter in regard to important national security issues. I assume you would probably second the motion.

KINZINGER: Yes. And, you know, national security to me, I serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and maybe despite my age, I'm old school out here. I still think when it comes to issues outside of the shores of America, we have to show a united front. Now, that means you can still disagree, of course, and there those disagreements, because things like CNN are worldwide platforms and people will see them, but to disagree within your national security establishment, I think that's something that needs to stay off Twitter.

It's one thing if he wants to tweet that we're making progress with Kim Jong-un, for instance, but it's another thing to say, you know, I have a problem with my intelligence folks are giving me and they don't know, I know.

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

KINZINGER: Yes, you bet. Take care.


COOPER: Well, up next, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is getting a lot of push-back after saying he's seriously considering a 2020 independent run for the White House. I'll talk to him about it, next.


[20:31:20] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You heard at the top of the program that President Trump has already taken a shot at billionaire Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, weighing a third-party run for the White House. The President saying he doesn't have the, "It Factor." Mr. Schultz

announced over the weekend that he is seriously considering a bid for the White House. Some Democrats fear he may help President Trump get re-elected by splitting an anti-Trump vote.

Right now he's traveling around the country talking about his potential run in his new book it's called "From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America." I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: Mr. Schultz, first of all, do you have a timeline of when you will decide whether or not to officially announce?

HOWARD SCHULTZ, CONSIDERING INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL BID: What I've said publicly since last Sunday is that I want to spend the next few months traveling the country listening and learning from the American people. And by spring or summer, I'll make a decision.

But what I'm really trying to do more than anything else is really ask a very simple question, what kind of country do we want to live in? And I think we can do better than this. And I think the extremes of both parties are not representative of the American people. And the American people are much better than this political class.

COOPER: If you want President Trump out of office so badly as you have said you do, why not just run in the Democratic Party especially given that you are a lifelong Democrat?

SCHULTZ: What I've said is nobody wants to see President Trump fired and out of office more than me. I think a false narrative has been created in the last 48 hours that if, in fact, I ran for President as a centrist independent there has been a rush to judgment that perhaps I would take votes away from Democratic Party. What I believe is that there are millions of lifelong Republicans who are not interested in re-electing Donald Trump but are not going to vote for left leaning progressive Democratic nominee. So given the choice Donald Trump will probably be re-elected. And what I really want to do is provide a better choice.

COOPER: To that point, I mean, as you know, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he's crunched the numbers on an independent run and said, "The data was very clear and very consistent given the strong pull of partisanship and realities of the electoral college system, there's no way an independent can win. That's a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can't afford to run it now." Do you have your own electoral data to rebut Bloomberg?

SCHULTZ: I do. And, Anderson, let me say this. I have great respect for Mayor Bloomberg. But he's not a proxy for 2020, and I would suggest that if Mayor Bloomberg did run for president in 2016, there might have been a much different outcome. What I see is this. 42% of the electorate affiliate themselves currently as an independent. The problem is they have never had a legitimate choice. So what if they had a legitimate choice? Just think about what could happen. COOPER: Are you that different in terms of your policies and your

politics than Michael Bloomberg? And wouldn't he also be appealing to a lot of those Republicans who are dissatisfied with Donald Trump? And even though you make the argument Joe Biden as well is probably more centrist.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Anderson, this is not about Michael Bloomberg or Vice President Biden. This is about the American people. And what I'm saying is, and the American people agree with me is that our politics and our government is broken.

COOPER: I mean, your argument for your independent run is kind of predicated on the notion that you're the only one kind of making the argument that you're making and in between Donald Trump and a left- leaning Democrat if there's Michael Bloomberg or Joe Biden. Doesn't that weaken your argument?

[20:35:14] SCHULTZ: Well, no. I think this is about what the American people believe and what the American people are going to decide. Your first question is that you asked me is, how am I going to make this decision? The American people are going to make this decision. And I have come to the conclusion that the American people are disgusted and exhausted with the partisanship and the politics that exist every single day that doesn't produce any kind of solution.

COOPER: Do you see anything that President Trump has done that you support?

SCHULTZ: No, I don't think there's anything that President Trump has done or support. I think the only thing he has said over the last couple years that I agree with is when he said that he was personally responsible for the shutdown.

COOPER: On Monday President Trump went after you on Twitter saying, "You don't have the guts to run," and "that you're not the smartest person." Then he reportedly told supporters that the reason he took shots at you is to draw you into the race. Are the President's taunts any more or less likely to make you run? I mean, does it concern you that he's claiming he wants to you run? Do you believe what he's saying?

SCHULTZ: I'm paying very little attention to President Trump's tweets. I'm exhausted by it. I'm bored by it. And I'm not trying to win the Twitter primary.

COOPER: I want to ask you about Senator Kamala Harris. You've criticized some of her more progressive proposals like Medicare for all. She was also a tough on crime prosecutor. Can she be lumped in with candidates that you think are too far to the left?

SCHULTZ: Well, I don't know Senator Harris. I respect her from afar. I don't know her. What I said publicly yesterday was just responding to the fact that she came out publicly and said with regard to government paid free health care for all that she would wipe out the entire insurance business. The entire industry, I mean, that is not a sensible approach just trying to solve this program and I think it demonstrates what's wrong with our politics.

COOPER: What do you say to those who would argue that President Trump proves that the president shouldn't be an entry level job in government and also do you feel like you know how to run against President Trump? I know you said, you're not engaged in this Twitter war, you're not paying attention to that. But I mean, there are a lot of very qualified Republicans who are running against him and he beat them all. Do you know how to beat him?

SCHULTZ: Well, I've spent the last almost 40 years billing the kind of company in which we serve people. 100 million customers a week, we employ almost 400,000 people. I spent my entire career building consensus, creating imagination and innovation and working well with people on both sides of the aisle. President Trump to me is not the litmus test for the presidency and not the litmus test for what I'm going to try and do. What I will say is, I'm going to do everything I can to remove President Trump from office.

COOPER: And you think you have a strategy -- you know how to do that? I mean, that you've gone against people like him before?

SCHULTZ: Well, again, President Trump is a person that fights with hate and a lot of vitriol. I view that as insecurity and weakness. What I'm going to do is I'm going to speak directly to the hearts and minds of the American people. And let them decide the future of the country with regard to who the next president is going to be.

COOPER: Just lastly I want to ask you about something that you tweeted today. You tweeted thinking a writer named, Roger Simon, who writes for a psychomedia for a "thoughtful analysis of what's possible." He was saying that it's possible you could win the presidency, your tweet has been deleted. And I'm wondering, the analysis you were referring to was that an article written by Simon two days ago titled, Howard Schultz Could Actually Win The Presidency? Because in that he called Kamala Harris shrill. I think he referred to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas. Is that why you deleted the tweet?

SCHULTZ: Yes, because I don't want to get into the mud with anybody. I don't want to get into revenge politics which is obviously been the problem that I'm identifying. I don't want to part of mudslinging, I want to speak inspirationally and positively and do everything I can to elevate the national conversation. That is what's necessary.

COOPER: So do you not realize he made those comments?

SCHULTZ: No, I did not.

COOPER: All right, Howard Schultz, it's good to talk to you. Thank you for your time.

SCHULTZ: Thank you very much.


[20:39:59] COOPER: Up next, more perspective on our breaking news and the President's anger at DNI Dan Coats and the Intelligence Community. Joining us one time high-ranking member of the community former CIA Chief Leon Panetta will talk about that and the new reporting, the Russians have been meddling in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.


COOPER: I just want to return to our breaking news from Kaitlan Collins sources saying that President Trump was seething this morning and went on a rant while watching highlights from the Intelligence Chief's testimony at Capitol Hill yesterday. Also that he singled out Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Joining me is former CIA Director Leon Panetta. Secretary Panetta. Thanks for being with us. This certainly isn't the first time the President has singled Coats out. I remember he also did it in Helsinki during his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin. I just want to play that for our viewers.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


COOPER: I mean, so he doubted Coats then. He doubts him now, very publicly and publicly kind of demeaning him. When Coats actually speaks the truth, the President apparently goes on rants about it or rants about him in the morning. Does that make any sense to you?

[20:45:10] LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR & DEFENSE SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, this President, although he appointed Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence, is somebody who if he doesn't hear what he wants to hear from somebody is going to get very angry at them.

The responsibility of Dan Coats and, for that matter, the intelligence community, is to speak truth to power. That's why they're there. They've got to be objective. They've got to be nonpartisan. They have to basically tell it as it is whether that person likes to hear it or not. And obviously, when they speak the truth as they did yesterday, the President did not want to hear it and as a result got angry. But the reality is if you're President of the United States, it's much better if you appreciate the facts as they're presented rather than trying to create your own view of what the world should be.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, this is kind of an interesting -- I don't know if interesting is the right word or strategy, you know, strategy is the right word but behavior by the President that it's one thing to disagree with an intelligence assessment, it's one thing to push back on it to say, you don't believe the intelligence. It's another thing to publicly demean the person and the persons who are working in the intelligence community. I'm not sure long term what that's about or if there is a strategy there. It's just, you know, a personal reaction. He gets angry and he tweets about it.

PANETTA: Well, you know, it really is not only unprecedented. I think it's dangerous.

COOPER: How so?

PANETTA: Because this -- the president of the United States has to protect our national security. In order to do that he's got to know what our adversaries are up to. He's got to know what they're dealing with. And who provides that information, it's the intelligence community. Why? Because they have sources of information that provide credible intelligence to the President of the United States.

Now, look, Presidents don't always agree with those assessments. That's been true in the past. But if they disagree they usually sit down with their officials and ask them to go back and check their sources and, again, check their credibility. Rather than, as this president does which is to get out there and tweet his objections. That undermines the credibility of our intelligence officials and it sends exactly the wrong message to our enemies who now believe that this President operates basically on his own gut sense rather than on the truth. I think that's a message of weakness and it creates, in my view, a dangerous situation in terms of how this President relates to the rest of the world.

COOPER: We also just recently learn about this letter from Chuck Schumer to Dan Coats telling him that the President is putting Coats and his colleagues in an untenable position that's hurting the national interest and the process as they're saying and that they have to find a way to make that clear to the President. Is that something that can be made clear to the President by the very people who he's targeting?

PANETTA: This President obviously doesn't have a great deal of experience in government accepting the intelligence that's presented to him. He's been resisting this from the very beginning. Not only on Russia but he has questioned intelligence assessments on everything from Syria to Khashoggi. And therefore, it's really hard to see how this President is going to accept intelligence in a responsible way.

Now, he does modify some of his positions based on the intelligence. I mean, he tweeted to get our troops out of Syria. He said ISIS had been defeated. He's beginning to back a little bit away from that position. He's done other things with regards to intelligence assessments that have been provided for example, on North Korea. He knows he has a problem with the whole issue of denuclearization when it comes to dealing with North Korea.

So I think the best way that you have to deal with this President is for him to bear the consequences of his rejection of their information. And the way he bears the consequences is that those matters then turn sour on him because he's failing to lead this country with regards to national security issues.

[20:50:15] COOPER: Secretary Panetta, always appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much. I want to check in with Chris. See what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Coop. You know, there's always a premium in talking to someone in the news instead of talking about them. You had Schultz on, perfect. He's the man of the moment in terms of what's he going to do with the party and in terms of running. Great to hear from him directly. We're going to do the same thing tonight on these kind of puzzling questions about why the President keeps disrespecting his own hand-picked intel chiefs.


CUOMO: Chris Christie is with us here tonight. He's got a new book out. It provides really interesting insight into the White House, but also, he was there for much of what was said and done. I'm not blaming him, but he will know the mindset of the President and the men and women around him that led us to this fuzzy place. So we're going to talk to someone who has the answers we need.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, he gives such a fascinating look at the whole transition process that the -- going from the campaign to the presidency to the White House.

CUOMO: Right. And, you know, by his reckoning, and I have to tell you fairly enough from sources I had during that period, the only process was Christie. You know, once Christie wasn't there anymore, we see the results.


CUOMO: Only the best led us to certainly the worst. They still don't have a ton of positions need filled that they that do have to fill. So the results speak for themselves. But the insight we get from Christie very valuable, doing two blocks with him tonight.

COOPER: He also has a lot to say, obviously, about Jared Kushner, which is fascinating.

CUOMO: Well, look, I mean the history there, you got to separate Kushner from his father, obviously, Kushner couldn't do that. That's somewhat understandable until you look at the facts, but, yes, he understands what Kushner's role is, what that meant vis-a-vis him and others and I just think it's a singular perspective.


CUOMO: Happy to have it.

COOPER: Look forward to it. Chris, thanks very much. We'll see you coming up about eight minutes from now.

Coming up, the cold, the ridiculous, ridiculous cold on "The Ridiculist."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:56:18] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." You know, the snow squalls, windchills, and the negative 60s, no mail delivery in 10 states, flights cancels, schools closed. It is cold outside. Here in Chicago where CNN's Ryan Young showed what happens when you throw hot water into the air. It's always amazing to see that.

Right now, it is colder in Chicago than in Antarctica. I always stumble on that word. So cold that officials are setting railroad tracks on fire to protect the rails. Tomorrow morning could see a record low of 27 below zero in the windy city, but we're not talking just about the Midwest. Nearly 70% of the continental United States, more than 200 million people, will have temperatures at or below freezing over the next few days.

In Louisville, Kentucky, right now, windchill is about negative 6, that's cold enough to close the schools and the governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, had these words of guidance during a radio interview.


MATT BEVIN, KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: Now we cancel school for cold. I mean --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's deep freeze. This is serious business.

BEVIN: It is, come on now. I mean, there's no ice going with it or any snow. I mean, what happens to America? We're getting soft, Terry. We're getting soft.


COOPER: These kids today. They're not willing to stand outside and wait for the school bus like we used to in sub-zero temperatures and freeze right there at their desks. They're soft. Was the Governor kidding? We're talking about kids' safety here.


BEVIN: I do appreciate, it's better to err on the side of being safe and I'm being only slightly facetious, but --


BEVIN: -- it does concern me a little bit that in America, on this and any number of other fronts, we're sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard.


COOPER: That actually sounds kind of awesome. Throughout the country, principals and superintendents went in another direction in announcing their school closings.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: It's a snow day, a winter cold day. Stay home and just play. It's a great family day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't take no chances. Safety first that's what our stance is. We haven't had school for the longest time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't come tomorrow we're closed. Value your things and nose. Stay home and drink some coco. School's closed tomorrow.


COOPER: See, in my days, school officials didn't sing. We're getting soft. As the bitter cold grips the country, as always, the nation turns its eyes to its leader for guidance. "In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degree," the President tweeted, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expect it to get even colder. People can't last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with global waming?"

Now I got say on this one, I stand with the President. What the hell is going on with this so-called global waming? Global waming doesn't exist. There's no such thing. It's a hoax. Oh. I'm being told he meant global warming. Apparently got so excited on the Twitter machine with those little keys. He left out the "r." Global warming is of course based in science, not even rocket science. Although NASA does have a great explanation of this which we'll, again, point the President to on its website for children.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look out the window, you're seeing what the weather is like today. Weather is only temporary. Climate describes the typical weather conditions in an entire region for a very long time.


COOPER: What about waming? He'll get it eventually. And that would be a heartwaming day in this country. Until then, if you need me, I'll be curled up with a hot cup of covfefe waming myself next to a fire on "The Ridiculist." It is cold.

The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you very much. Anderson, I appreciate it.

I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.