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Judge Orders Roger Stone Cannot Speak Publicly About Case; Jussie Smollett Arrested, Makes Court Appearance After Being Charged with Felony for Allegedly Staging Racist Attack. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired February 21, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's all fun and games until someone threatens a federal judge and almost gets sent to jail for it.

Good evening.

That is precisely where Roger Stone, the president's oldest political adviser, finds himself tonight. Precisely what he brought on himself, and he's not the only member of the president's circle whose learning right now that playtime is over and things are getting real.

Stone is by his own account a dirty trickster. He traffics he once said in the political dark arts. And despite some truly and ugly offensive things he's said and done over the years, Stone has always tried to make it seem if not good clean fun, at least good dirty fun.

Well, today, a judge signaled as clearly as she could without actually imprisoning him that, yes, playtime is over. No more Nixonian gestures on the courthouse steps the way it was at his first court appearance. Look at the contrast between then and now. No more talking about being the victim of a deep state conspiracy, as he has been doing lately and which the judge took exception to.

No more statements like this.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP ASSOCIATE: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. I am falsely accused of making false statements during my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. That is incorrect.

At the crack of dawn, 29 FBI agents arrived at my home with 17 vehicles with their lights flashing, when they simply could have contacted my attorneys and I would have been more than willing to surrender voluntarily. They terrorized my wife, my dogs.

I will plead not guilty to these charges.


COOPER: Well, for the record, that is seven criminal charges of obstruction, lying, and witness tampering in connection with the 2016 campaign.

So, in point of fact, playtime was already over for Roger Stone before Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed a total gag order on him. Now, presumably he totally believes it.

Just as playtime is over for the president's one time campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Today, we learned he'll be sentenced next month in two cases. He is already in jail in declining health, could end up serving more than 25 years in prison. Playtime is over for him.

No fun and games either for Michael Cohen. He'll be going before three committees next week with some of his testimony on camera.

And on top of all of that, Robert Mueller's report may land literally at any minute. And whatever you think of all of this, things are getting very serious, very quickly. As we said, playtime is over.

I want to start with Roger Stone's day in court, why he was there, how he tried to explain himself, and what the judge made of it. CNN's Sara Murray was at the courthouse today. She joins us now.

So, it did seem like Stone -- or did it seem like he had any reasonable explanation for his Instagram post in which there was a crosshair on the judge?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it wasn't exactly an explanation. On the one hand, he apologized. He admitted it was a screw-up. He said it was a lapse in judgment due to the emotional stress of this whole ordeal.

On the other hand, he didn't have a clear explanation of how it came to be in the first place. He said he has these volunteers who help him find these photos, and that someone supplied it to him, but he didn't know which volunteer it was, and he didn't know how he got the photo in the first place, and he wasn't able to explain exactly how he selected that one out of all the options given to him. So, it certainly wasn't a satisfactory explanation to the judge.

COOPER: And it didn't seem like the judge was buying what Stone was selling there.

MURRAY: No, she really wasn't. I mean, she was almost incredulous, actually. She said you had multiple options for photos you could have chosen and this was the one you chose?

You know, she actually took a little while to deliberate over what she had heard, and she came back, and she was incensed that stone had chosen a photo that could incite others. She said that it was deliberate, that it sent a sinister message, and she was worried about the signal that that might send.

And as you pointed out, Anderson, she warned Roger Stone that if he did not abide by this latest gag order, she was willing to throw him in jail.

COOPER: What are the specific terms of the gag order? I mean, what can, what can't Stone talk about?

MURRAY: So, remember, the first gag order was pretty lenient. It said Roger Stone can't talk about this case around the courthouse. Now, she said, you know, clearly, you had problems abiding by the sort of spirit of this gag order, so now he is not allowed to talk about his case at all in any venue, no interviews, no social media posts, nothing like that.

He is allowed to say he is innocent. He is allowed to ask people to donate to his legal defense fund, and the judge pointed out again he is allowed to go out there and talk about anything else in the news, just not this case. She also took it a step further and said you can't send any messages through intermediaries. You can't have spokespeople going out there and defending you, talking about this case on your behalf.

So that's certainly a blow to someone like Roger Stone, who as we know loves to be in front of a camera.

[20:05:00] COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Nancy Gertner is a former federal judge. She joins us now. So is former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin, our chief legal analyst.

Jeff, you were also inside the courtroom today. What was your take on what happened? What was it like?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It was wild, Anderson. No one even knew that he was going to testify. So, he goes up on the witness stand, and it begins innocently enough, he says I'm so sorry. This was a mistake. You know, it will never happen again.

Then he is asked a very simple question. Well, what happened? How did this Instagram post take place?

And he couldn't explain it. Well, there were these people who had his phone, and someone put a photograph in there, and I don't know where the crosshairs came from, but maybe they're not really crosshairs, that they're a Celtic image from ancient history.

I mean, the whole thing made very little sense. The judge, who initially didn't seem all that irritated, kept getting angrier and angrier as Stone kept testifying. And finally, she was so frustrated, she said I'm taking 15 minutes. I'm going try to figure out what to do here.

And then she came back and just excoriated Stone for giving what she said was a false and misleading explanation of what happened. And then, you know, imposed this total gag order for about talking about the case. But, you know, he went from a reasonably OK position to about this close from being locked up.

She said to him at the end, you know, this isn't baseball. You don't get three strikes. Next time you violate one of my orders, you're going with Paul Manafort in prison.

So, it was a wild interesting day.

COOPER: Do you think he'll be able to abide by the ruling, Jeff?

TOOBIN: You know, certainly his lawyers are going to be hitting him with rubber hoses saying stop doing this stupid stuff, but, you know, Roger is a free spirit, and he loves attention. He is allowed.

He said, look, I make my living as a public spokesman, giving speeches. Don't take that away from me, because my consulting business has fallen apart. This is my only source of income. And the judge was sympathetic to that.

So, he is allowed to talk about politics. He is allowed to talk about Trump. He is just not allowed to talk about his case. I think he'll abide by it, but we'll see.

COOPER: Right. Judge Gertner, you heard Jeff's account of what happened today in court. I'm wondering what you make of what Stone told the judge, and do you agree with her ruling? She could have gone further, revoked Stone's bail or order him jailed.

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: The only reason she didn't revoke his bail or go further was because of the ambiguity of the initial gag order. The initial gag order told his lawyers that they couldn't say anything that would materially prejudice the proceedings and directed to Roger that he couldn't speak around the courthouse. So she had to clarify it initially, arguably.

On the other hand, I don't understand why he took the stand. Because now he is -- the judge has good reason when the case is over to say that he lied on the stand. And his testimony sounded incoherent. I was getting angry listening to Jeff's account at it.

So, I take that she is remarkably restrained in this situation. There's no reason to do what he did. This isn't a commentary on his innocence. This was an attack on the judge and a dangerous attack on the judge. There really is no justification for it.

COOPER: Threatening a federal judge is a crime.

GERTNER: Right. Right. That's right. That's right. But as I said, it's not like he is speaking -- what he is doing is an ad hominem attack, taking her picture and posting it. This is way beyond I just accidentally stepped over the line talking about my defense. This is an attack.

COOPER: And it was -- she had no time for the explanation that this symbol was like Celtic imagery.

GERTNER: Right, right.

COOPER: A cult. And she said in her opinion, everybody knows what crosshairs are. And he never really acknowledged that he knew he was putting crosshairs in. The crosshairs somehow got in through some mysterious force. You know, I do think that he got away pretty easy when you consider

what crosshairs means to every normal thinking person. That's some scary business.

GERTNER: And the picture is so scary. Posting her picture is enough.


Jeff, do you expect prosecutors would try to charge Stone with threatening a judge, a federal judge?

TOOBIN: I don't think so. I think the case is -- the case is what the case is. But his bail currently is hanging by a thread.

And this is going to be a long time until the trial there are millions of documents. The judge was talking about a trial in the fall.

[20:10:03] So if he gets locked up, that means months in prison even before his trial. So bail is an extremely important issue here, and you know, we'll see if he can abide by it.

COOPER: And so, Jeff, if Mueller gives in his report, who -- I mean Mueller is not involved then in finishing off his trial if it's in the fall.

TOOBIN: Oh, I think they will be. I don't think the report means the doors are closed to Mueller's office. I mean, there were two prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, and two prosecutors from Mueller's office in the courtroom today. I would be surprised if they somehow disappear from the case.


TOOBIN: Remember, the -- Mueller is part of the department of justice. So any lawyers who work for him could easily shift over and remain on the team trying the case.

GERTNER: Right. And there is ever reason to believe that they would. Even if the special counsel's investigation was over, the very experienced prosecutors are on the case would continue with it. There is no reason to suspect otherwise.

In other words, he deployed people from within the department to be special counsel. Now they can go back to DOJ positions and continue.

COOPER: Judge Gertner, a threat to a federal judge, that would typically be something that a president would condemn. Do you have any reason to expect President Trump will actually do so in this case, given his past history?

GERTNER: Sigh. I have no idea. One would expect that he would say there is a line that has been crossed today, and that no one should cross that line. Frankly, he's come close to that line before, so I'm not holding my breath.

TOOBIN: I have an idea. Absolutely not. He will never say a bad word about Roger Stone, as long as stone is fighting these charges.

You know, he has no respect for the federal judiciary. Remember, this is the guy who said that a Mexican-American judge couldn't try his case. And he's always talking about Obama judges and, you know, who can't be trusted. So, the odds of him saying a word in defense of the federal judiciary or Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who seems to be doing an excellent job, are remote, to say the least.

GERTNER: But you to realize, we keep on wanting to say this is so not normal. You know, a person could sort of step over the line by accident talking about the evidence in the case, or talking about their defenses when, you know, you're going to have a jury trial pretty soon. This is not even close to the line.

COOPER: Yes. Judge Gertner, appreciate it. Great to have you on. Thank you. Jeff Toobin as well.

More now on this notion that playtime is over and the so-called players are acting as if they know it. CNN political commentators Bakari Sellers and David Urban join us now. Bakari is a former Democratic South Carolina state house member. David is a former Trump campaign strategist.

So, David, Roger Stone is under a full gag order. Michael Cohen about to testify against the president in front of Congress. Manafort from a health standpoint is not doing well. He is going to be facing sentencing on multiple felonies.

Does it feel to you like for them it should be feeling less and less abstract? Do you think the president is viewing it that way?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think Roger Stone when he left that courtroom today, you showed that tape there, Anderson, where he left almost in jubilant on the first time when was taken into custody and he flashed the Nixon victory symbol. He was pretty excited. There is the tape.

And then today leaving, looks like quite a different guy. It's -- the fact of being incarcerated is very sobering. And I think that Roger understood that today.

COOPER: Bakari, you're an attorney. Michael Cohen certainly has lied many times in the past. The Justice Department wouldn't just take his word in exchange for the plea deal that he got. I assume they would have corroborated information.

What motive would Cohen have for lying to Congress again? Because that's why he's going to prison.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He doesn't have any motive, and I think that's why he is a good witness in front of the United States Congress, and I also think as a part of his cooperation deal, even if they have to bring him out in an orange jumpsuit, or whatever color it may be, that he is willing to testify against others in his orbit, whomever that is, whether it's individual 1 or someone else in any type of proceeding. And I think he would do that truthfully, because as David said, it's very sobering the realization that you're going hear those doors slam behind you in prison that you're going to have to sleep on those hard floors, that you're not going to be free to leave when you so choose.

And so I think that Michael Cohen is going to be an amazing witness in front of the United States congress, and I think he is going to tell the truth. But I will say this, that the United States Congress, because of Michael Cohen's history, and this is going to be kind of interesting to quote, should go in with trust but verify. And I think the FBI had a ton of resources at their disposal, including the raid where they were able to get some information from his phones, et cetera. And I hope the United States Congress has that as well, because I'm not necessarily certain I would trust Michael Cohen sitting in front.

URBAN: Yes. And, Anderson and Bakari, you know that's the theme of questioning you'll probably hear from the Republican side I would suppose is going to go along something like well, you lied the last time you're here. Why should we believe you this time? That's what you're going to hear repeatedly. That will be what Republicans try to establish. And look, it's a fair question, right?

COOPER: Yes, it is.

URBAN: Why should we believe you now?

COOPER: Well, it's also fair because it wasn't just lying in front of Congress. I mean, Michael Cohen as representative of then citizen Donald Trump lied on television, lied repeatedly, both stated, you know --

URBAN: Right.

COOPER: Said things that were not -- he was sort of a fabulist.


URBAN: You can run the tape, Anderson, where he is effusively praising the president as the greatest guy in the world, and now he's on TV saying --

COOPER: Right. He's never made a mistake. So, the idea that everybody can point to times when they've said oh, yes, I've heard Michael Cohen lie, it's pretty easy.

David, what do you think it says, though, about the president that more than just a few people he has chosen to surround himself with are known liars and felons? I mean, you know?

URBAN: So, look, it's obviously not a great situation by any stretch of the imagination. But if you look, if you take these all individually, right, so in Manafort, what Paul Manafort did is petty criminal, you know, wire fraud, bank fraud. It's things that don't relate to the campaign at all. What Stone did is lying to Congress.

I can't speak to the Michael Cohen issue. I think the Michael Cohen and SDNY's looking at is much more problematic for the president than anything having to do with the campaign. That's my own personal opinion. And, you know, we'll see as it plays out here as the Mueller report gets concluded and transmitted to the Department of Justice, this will all play out. We'll see.

COOPER: Bakari, is that how you see Manafort, that his wrongs were kind of, you know, procedural, minor, petty?

URBAN: I'm not saying they're minor. They just predated the campaign.

COOPER: Nothing to do with the campaign.

SELLERS: But they don't predate the campaign. In fact, many of his crimes actually, the time frame when you look at the indictments, they go through his time as campaign chief. But we're not talking about some low-level employee. You know, there are a few individuals, like the lawyer, I don't want the maul his name on national TV who was already sentenced and served his prison time. You have Rick Gates, who's deputy campaign manager. You have Paul Manafort who was the campaign manager.

And I think to my Republican friends, like David and many others, the only thing I can ask you is what happens if this was a President Obama or a President Clinton? I mean, you would be literally pulling your hair out on TV, calling them anything but a child of god to have all of these individuals around him which are felons.

URBAN: I didn't do it during the Clinton impeachment.

SELLERS: But we're talking about two vastly different things here. And you were actually dealing with President Clinton at the time who was a singular individual. Right now, we have a litany of people around the president of the United States.

And what we're starting to see is that the presidential campaign was nothing less than a cancer. And it seems as if we're kind of getting to the bottom and cutting out some of that cancer as you go. I mean, Roger Stone today, the fact that Roger Stone walked out of that courtroom, I've had people in federal court who have had dirty urine tests who do not get a chance, for smoking marijuana who get their bond violated.

For the actions he took today to walk out of court is beyond me. But that goes even further. You have Roger Stone who is a criminal. You have Paul Manafort who is a criminal. Rick Gates who is criminal. The list goes on and on and on.

URBAN: Bakari, Bakari, hold only for a second, Bakari.


URBAN: They have been indicted, right? Some have been -- Paul Manafort, right, but Rick Gates hasn't gone to trial. They plead. Roger Stone hasn't had a trial.

SELLERS: That means you're a felon. No, no, Rick Gates --

URBAN: No, they plead. I understand.


SELLERS: Michael Cohen is a felon. Rick Gates is a felon.

URBAN: Absolutely.

SELLERS: George Papadopoulos is a felon.

URBAN: Absolutely.

SELLERS: How many felons do you want around him? Six or seven? What's enough?

URBAN: Bakari, until let's just go put a pin in it I and wind way back. When you look at this, and this is what you hear from the Republican side and the White House, to understand this, none of this has to do with Russian collusion. This has to do with -- and it's not correct. You shouldn't do this, obviously, but you can't lie to the FBI. You can't lie to Congress.

But none of it goes back to the president, and none of it goes back to Russian collusion.

COOPER: Right. We'll leave it there. David Urban, Bakari Sellers, great conversation. Thank you.

Just ahead, with the Mueller report due out in perhaps a matter of days, we'll look at perhaps what we can expect.

[20:20:02] Also, the big question, of course, at the time like, what must it be like to be inside the president's head. We'll speak with one person who is about as qualified as anyone on the subject, "New York Times'" Maggie Haberman.

And coming up next, we also have a breaking news in the Jussie Smollett saga, after a day that saw him arrested, charged with a felony. That's him leaving -- leaving the jail after being arrested and processed. Story has taken another turn. We'll tell you what that is, ahead.


COOPER: Well, in just a few weeks, after Jussie Smollett has gone from a presumed victim of a hate crime to perpetrator of a hoax. Along the way, his story has pushed so many hot buttons and poked at so many raw nerves.

It only got worse when he was arrested in Chicago this morning and made bail later today. He is charged with a felony, disorderly conduct for making a false statement to police.

His defenders have just put out a response. We'll bring that to you shortly. [20:25:01] But first, how the "Empire" actor's story of how a racist

and anti-gay attack has totally collapsed.

Our Randi Kaye tonight has that.


JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: Who the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) would make something like this up or add something to it or whatever it may be?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bizarre statement of denial from the actor who police say was the mastermind behind his own attack. Investigators say Jussie Smollett arranged the whole thing, even rehearsed with the two men he hired to assault him. Those men, brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo confessed to police after 47 hours of questioning in custody and were released without being charged.

RISA LANIER, COOK COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Defendant Smollett further detailed that he wanted Abel to attack him but not hurt him too badly and to give him a chance to appear to fight back. Defendant Smollett also included that he wanted Ola to place a rope around his neck and pour gasoline on him and yell, "This is MAGA country".

KAYE: That rope, Smollett gave it to police as evidence.

SUPT. EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE: I'm left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African-American man use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?

KAYE: Police say they have evidence the actor paid the men $3,500 to stage the attack, and gave them $100 cash to buy supplies. This video shows them buying what police say Smollett directed them to purchase. Prosecutors say Smollett also wanted to be sure there was video evidence of the attack.

LANIER: Smollett directed the brothers' attention towards a surveillance camera on the corner, which he believed would capture the incident.

KAYE (on camera): In fact, Smollett told investigators it's likely the incident was caught on camera. It turns out the 45-second attack was just out of view.

(voice-over): Officials also say the actor knew the two men he paid in the attack. Both did some work on the show "Empire," and one provided him with illegal drugs.

LANIER: Defendant Smollett requested Abel to provide him with "Molly" which is street name for that narcotic Ecstasy.

KAYE: So if the actor did really stage this, the question is why.

JOHNSON: He was dissatisfied with his salary. So he concocted a story about being attacked.

KAYE: Same reason why police now believe the actor sent himself this threatening letter on the set of "Empire" just days before the alleged attack. The letter contained a white substance later determined to be aspirin. The envelope includes the word "MAGA," a reference to President Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again".

JOHNSON: First, Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language. When that didn't work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process.

KAYE: Not to mention the wasted resources. More than one thousand police man hours went into this. More than 100 people were interviewed, and 55 video cameras checked. All for a hate crime that now appears to have been nothing more than a stunt.

JOHNSON: When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off, you know, because we have to invest valuable resources.


COOPER: And Randi Kaye joins us now.

I mean, there is so much coming out about text messages and phone calls and checks being written. Do police have all of this evidence?

KAYE: Apparently, they have a lot of evidence, Anderson. Police say they have the personal check that the actor wrote to the brothers for that $3,500. It's hard to believe he didn't pay them in cash, so he didn't leave a trail. But they do have the check as evidence, they say.

They also have phone records they say that show Smollett called one of the brothers just hours after the staged attack. That call was just five seconds, but the brother then called him back, and they also have records showing that the actor called one of the brothers again the next day after the brothers had already left the country. They had flown away to Nigeria.

That call lasted nearly nine minutes, and police also apparently have records of Uber rides the men took to the area where the attack took place. They have video from inside a taxi that these guys took as well.

The bottom line these two guys laid it all out for police, Anderson. They painted the actor as the driver of this whole scam and provided police with all they need to arrest and charge him with a felony.

Smollett, by the way, was in court today, as you see there. He was pretty stone-faced inside the courtroom, didn't say much and was released on $100,000 bond, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, you see him being mobbed by reporters as he left.

Randi, thanks.

CNN has just received this statement on Smollett's behalf. It reads, and I'm quoting: Today, we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice was trampled on at the expense of Mr. Smollett, and notably on the eve of a mayoral election.

The statement continues: Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing. Here to sort through that and the rest of all of this, "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow along with CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan who is a former New York City homicide prosecutor. And as a criminal defense attorney, he has prosecuted and defended cases involving the charge of filing a false report.

Charles, the last time we talked, you brought up the questions that we didn't have answers to. It seems like from the police we have more answers. I'm not sure it makes any more sense than it did before, but does it to you?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's still a baffling case, but they did at least start to present the evidence that they said that they have. It's still kind of tricky to figure out how he would think being, you know, having a confrontation, a fight on the street with people who were homophobic and racist would increase his salary, for instance. I don't know exactly how those two dots connect.

So Jussie obviously has something he wants to say. That statement alone signals that they are going to put in some sort of vigorous defense of him and a full disclosure. You know, a mutual friend contacted me Tuesday night saying he wanted to talk, but he wanted to do on background and I say I don't do that, right?

So he clearly wants to say something but just on the record there's not. Eventually he will say something. If he wants to say it to me, he can say it to me. If he wants to say it to somebody else, he can say it to somebody else.

But, we need to understand if there is any defense, which is hard to see how it comes together based on what the police presented today, but if there is any defense that makes any sense, he has to say something about that because at this point it does not look good for him at all.

COOPER: Yes. Paul, I mean, as someone who has both prosecuted and defended the charge of filing a false police report, I'm wondering what you make of this. I mean, it's -- have you ever seen anything quite as elaborate as what's alleged here?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I haven't. And I haven't especially seen attorneys come out that aggressively defending him in view of what evidence has already been released. Of course, he remains presumed innocent by the system. But obviously, there's a pile of evidence here that they have to explain away and usually you'll see defense attorneys being a little more conservative saying he has the right to be presumed innocent and have a fair trial. But this is an attack on the system in saying that his prosecution is related to the mayoral election. This is -- these are crazy contentions to make in the face of what appears to be a very, very strong case.

COOPER: The -- Paul, just in terms of how these cases usually go, I mean, what is the penalty for something like this usually?

CALLAN: Well, in Chicago, the penalty is up to three years in prison and up to a $13,000 fine. Now, he's also accused of having sent a letter through the mail, a threatening letter which contains homophobic threats and other threats, that could be a federal crime, that could be federal mail fraud which could subject him to five years in prison and yet another fine.

I can tell you from personal experience, Anderson, that a lot of these cases are false reports, they're just pranks. You know, college students playing a prank on somebody or somebody sending the cops to somebody's house just to make them angry. A case like this, though, is very different.

In a city that has an average of 600 to 700 homicides a year, this was an enormous diversion of police resources, really, to a nonsensical claim of a crime. And I think the second thing that's really problematic about this kind of case is that people who really suffer from hate crimes are less likely to be believed when you see people come forward and make patently false claims and the police having to devote time to investigating those.

So I think there are a lot of questions that have to be answered here. And I would agree with Charles, he's got a lot of explaining to do if he wants to get out of this.

COOPER: Charles, it was interesting, I mean, to hear the police superintendent's statement today. I mean, it's rare that you hear sort of a police officer speaking sort of personally in that way and expressing like personal disappointment or hurt, talking about how the city of Chicago, you know, had taken him in, you know, bringing up the use of a noose as particularly something, you know, with a horrific history with African-Americans in the United States.

BLOW: Well, I mean -- but I think that's what diversity looks like on the job, right? When people have particular sensibilities, they bring that to the job. And I think that that's actually a positive sign.

But one other thing I think that the police department and the commissioner should -- who I think was right in the way he reacted to this, but you have to keep that same energy, right, with the rest of the crimes that are happening in Chicago. I thought it was little strange for him to go out of his way to say, you know, you guys are putting so much emphasis on this particular case.

[20:35:01] But just by their own accounting, the number of man-hours they put into this case is also extraordinary, understanding that there are people being killed pretty much every day in Chicago, and there are families out there who still don't have those cases solved, and you're able to solve this in 10 days.

So I'm just saying you had to have a moderate a little bit of that language to say, "That's right, you're right on this case, but please be equally applicable in your casting of blame and doubt on to everyone."

For instance, the commissioner says in his statement, you know, was blaming people for jumping on the bandwagon early. I think that's a smart observation, but he says including two presidential candidates. But he left out the fact that the President himself jumped on when asked a question about this and said it is the worst thing. It's horrible. It's the worst, you know, I've seen. It's the worst I've seen. So the President was involved in it too.

I'm just saying, you know, we have to keep the same energy all the time so that people in the public look at this and say, "Listen, the Chicago Police Department is aboveboard and they're going to treat everybody the same way all the time."

COOPER: Yes. Charles Blow, Paul Callan, appreciate both of you being with us. Thank you very much.

It's been nearly two years since, excuse me, since Robert Mueller was named special counsel to look into any links of coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. His findings could be delivered in literally any moment now.

Coming up, what can we expect once that report is actually delivered? What is the timeline, the protocol of who sees it and when and whether you're going get in -- we're going to get to see it. We'll talk to the person who actually wrote the regulations, ahead.


[20:40:05] COOPER: Well, if in fact the long-awaited Mueller report is delivered as early as next week, or for that matter the week after that, or by the ides of March, there is, of course, no way of actually knowing what it will contain.

This headline in an opinion column in "The New York Times," however, does give you an informed road map. And I'm quoting, "The Mueller report is coming. Here's what to expect." It's an important takeaway note, "The report is unlikely to be a dictionary thick tome which will disappoint some observers."

Its author, of course, is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, the man who drafted the special counsel regulations who joins me tonight.

Neal, I just want to ask, when Attorney General Barr gets word that Mueller's finished, what is the timeline from there? I mean, when does Barr actually get the information from Mueller? When does Barr have to provide a summary to Congress? How does it kind of play out?

NEAL KATYAL, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's all, Anderson, speculation at this point. So, we don't actually know that Mueller has turned -- is going to turn in the final report. We don't know when that is. We do know the special counsel regulations required at some point. And, yes, there are all sorts of stories including first reported by your network that says that the report is coming maybe as early as next week.

But this is all still at the level of it could change at any moments. The regulations and the law don't require the report at any time. But let's say that Mueller turns the report over to Barr next week. Barr is then going to conduct a review of that report, and I think there's nothing nefarious about an attorney general review of the report that could be classified sources and methods in there.

There could be, you know, 6(e) grand jury information in there, other things that they're going to want to be very sensitive about just releasing to Congress and ultimately the American public.

So they'll have that review, and then I think the regulations anticipate that Barr should turn over a report that conclude -- that summarizes the conclusions of the investigation by Mueller and one most importantly, any time that the attorney general, either Barr or Whitaker or Session -- or Rosenstein as the acting attorney general overruled Mueller on any of this requests, that has to be detailed in that report to Congress.

COOPER: But your -- it sounds like you're saying Barr would give the entire report that he got from Mueller to Congress, but that's not the case. We don't -- I mean, it could not -- it might not be the case.

KATYAL: No, I don't think -- I mean, I certainly think that Barr has the -- exactly. Barr has the discretion to do that, I think, if he thought it was necessary, and the regulations touched down as public confidence in the administration of justice. That's the kind of overriding goal of the special counsel regulations.

And so I do think when you're talking about wrongdoing by the President, potential wrongdoing, more is better than less. But it doesn't necessarily mean that every detail should be turned over to Congress. And certainly every detail doesn't need to be provided to the American public and just the kind of unredacted, you know, tome of information.

COOPER: But, I mean, there are probably a lot of people out there expecting Mueller to file kind of a 9/11 commission style report laying out everything he knows in exhaustive detail. He may not do that.

KATYAL: That's correct. I mean, he certainly could. He has the power to do that under the regulations, but he's not required to. And I think most importantly when we were drafting these regulations, we were drafting them at the very same time as the Starr report had just been dropped on the American public, which was a pretty salacious, you know, dictionary way of tome of information.

And I think at least when it comes to the public report, I think the special counsel regulations envision something shorter than that. Now, you do have the complicating fact here that the person we're talking about, one of the subjects of this whole investigation is the President and he has said, or his lawyers have said that he is a sitting president, can't be indicted.

And every person, every scholar who has taken that view, every jurist that's taken that view, couples that with the view that Congress then must investigate any allegations of high level wrongdoing. So, I don't think the President can mix and match apples and oranges.

So if he believes that he can't be indicted, then that information all really does have to be turned over to Congress. Not just Mueller's conclusions, but the underlying investigative threads and the like so that Congress can perform its duty as a coequal branch.

COOPER: What about the possibility that Mueller could end up revealing sealed indictments or could file a new round of indictments as part of the investigation's conclusion? Do you think that's a likely scenario?

KATYAL: I certainly think it's possible. Again, either Mueller has operated with the tightest lips in Washington, D.C. we haven't found out really anything about this. It's certainly possible to set for Mueller to say, "Look, I think there is some pretty serious wrongdoing here. I'm going to launch some indictments, but I'm going to leave to it the career prosecutors at the United States attorneys offices to investigate and ultimately to prosecute and bring to trial."

[20:45:13] COOPER: Neal Katyal, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

KATYAL: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, it's not just the special counsel's conclusions that are visible on the horizon. The President is facing a trio of troubles right now, the said to be imminent Mueller report, the President's long-time ally Roger Stone's gag order ahead of his trial and, of course, Michael Cohen's public testimony just days from now, all of which will give the president plenty to think about on his upcoming flight to Vietnam.

We'll take up a conversation with one person who knows President Trump's mind-set better than just about anybody. Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times" is next.


COOPER: We've seen major developments come during this administration with unprecedented speed, only to fade just as quickly into the background. So, thought it worth taking a moment to see how the paths are converging in a pretty extraordinary way right now.

The President's long-time ally Roger Stone has been hit with a full gag order after posting a picture online threatening a judge. Robert Mueller's report is expected to be delivered as early as next week, and the President's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a congressional committee next week as well.

Now, if you've been watching all of this with some level of interest, just imagine where the President's head is right now as he prepares to head overseas for another summit with North Korea's dictator.

[20:50:03] Here to help us imagine is "New York Times" White House Correspondent and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman.

So, Maggie, the fact that Michael Cohen will be testifying before Congress while President Trump is half way around the world at his summit with Kim Jong-un, where does stealing to spotlight rank among since in the eyes of the President, because certainly there's going to be a lot of focus on Michael Cohen.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's consistently been frustration among the President's team that major news related either to the Mueller probe or to aspects of the Mueller probe has tended to drop when he is on a foreign trip. This was clearly predictable that he was going to be away.

I'm not sure as to why this date was chosen, but I think that it's frustrating certainly to people around the President. There is an aspect of it that makes him happy, which is that he's not going to be sitting in front of the television watching this testimony in real time, he will obviously catch up to it at some point.

But, look, this is not a day, this hearing, that some folks around the President are looking forward to. Some of his supporters are eager to see it take place among the Republicans. They are planning on really aggressively questioning Michael Cohen's credibility and you saw Jim Jordan make that very clear in a letter today and he is a huge supporter of the President.

But the President is very much somebody, as you know, who likes to have in mind trying to get the next win and that is what he is looking toward this summit for.

COOPER: It also -- I mean, Michael Cohen has the potential to focus people on aspects of the President's past that he obviously doesn't want people to focus on, you know, that haven't been necessarily in the forefront.

I mean, he was sort of the room even though you detailed in really fascinating way (INAUDIBLE) of the times that the sort of tortured odd relationship between these two. But he was certainly in the room for an off a lot of discussions.

HABERMAN: There's no question that he was in the room for a lot of discussions both during the 2011 period when President Trump was considering running for 2012 campaign and then in 2015 and 2016, you know, the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, likes to talk about how Michael Cohen wasn't part of the campaign.

The campaign and the business were sort of conflated certainly in terms of physical space and President Trump was working in his office a lot of that time. Michael Cohen's office was just down the hall.

He is going to be able to offer all kinds of details about President Trump that I think are intimate in nature just in terms of him personally that almost no one else would be able to do or very few other will be able to do, that's obviously going to upset the President. And, again, it's part of why some people around in his circle are happy that he will not be in town for it.

Remember, there's going to be a limit to what Michael Cohen can talk about and that's been determined by the special counsel. There are aspects of the investigation that they don't want and the Justice Department doesn't want Michael Cohen talking about. He has been cooperating with Robert Mueller's office. So I don't know exactly where this is going to go, but there's no question this is not a day the President is looking forward to.

COOPER: What also I'm not clear about, and maybe you know, is whether or not Michael Cohen is going to go over his testimony in advance with staffers, congressional staffers because, you know, these kind of hearings are often most effective when there's been pre-meetings to kind of figure out exactly where the questioners, you know, will score direct hits, will be able to kind of get what they're trying to get to rather than just having this open ended thing that they're asking the questions for the first time.

HABERMAN: It's a great question and I don't know the answer, but certainly there are a lot of aspects of Michael Cohen story that are familiar to members of this committee. So I don't think that they're going to be going into this completely cold. I think they have a pretty good idea of where they want to go.

COOPER: The fact that Roger Stone is now under full gag order, does it -- I mean, obviously the President has not -- has been, you know, kind of telegraphing nice things toward Roger Stone. Do you know -- are they still in communication? Had they been in communication for any amount of time while he's been in office?

HABERMAN: I believe that there may have been some communications, either directly or indirectly at various points earlier on in the term. Certainly I think not in recent months has there been anything.

You know, look, we know that the President has a lot of people on his roster of late night phone calls, but I think that he is aware that having interactions could be viewed problematically and he's done a lot of public signaling, frankly, as you said. He's been publicly praising Stone for staying strong where as he criticized Cohen as weak because Cohen is cooperating --


HABERMAN: -- and Stone has made a big display of saying publicly that he would never turn on the President. That's going to be outside of Roger Stone's control right now because he's under gag. So, I think them speaking doesn't have much to do with anything right now.

COOPER: Maggie Haberman, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Gun and drug charges have been brought against a coast guard officer who had this huge cache of guns and ammunition in his Maryland apartment. He's an alleged white supremacist accused of planning a mass killing and targeting Democrats as well as journalists. [20:55:05] Coming up, we have some new details on how and when the coast guard first began investigating this man, Lieutenant Christopher Hasson.


COOPER: The coast guard says they began investigating a long serving lieutenant last year after it says the Coast Guard Insider Threat Program first identified concerns about him. The program identifies a response to suspicious activity to try to prevent threats.

A federal judge today ordered him held pending a trial on drug and gun charges. Authorities arrested him last week in his Maryland apartment and found a cache of weapons as well as ammunition.

They alleged that he's a white supremacist who wanted to kill prominent Democratic lawmakers as well as journalists from both CNN and MSNBC. A coast guard spokesman says the arrest was made once the FBI and the coast guard were "confident" in the strength of the evidence against him.

All right, that's it for us. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson.