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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Demands $8.6 Billion For Border Wall In 2020 Budget; Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) California Is Interviewed About President Trump; Gov. Newsom: Trump Admin. "Making Things Worse Not Better"; Attorney: Jussie Smollett Took Advantage Of Brothers; FAA Declines Ground Boeing 737 Max 8, Says Unknown If Two Crashes Linked. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 11, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:22] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
There's breaking news tonight on the question of impeaching President Trump. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, says she is opposed to it, because, in her words, the president just isn't worth it. We'll have that story coming up.
First, something the president said that he isn't sticking to, a blanket statement and an inflammatory one, as well. The Democratic Party, the president says, is anti-Jewish. Not that some of its policies are, or that a percentage of his members are, even that certain individuals within the party have anti-Semitic views, or trade and anti-Jewish statement, and as you know, some in the party have been accused of precisely that.
No, today, the White House at the first press conference in a month and a half, we should point out, defended the line the president took on Friday after a House vote condemning many forms of bigotry.
Here's what the president said on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democrats have become an anti-Israel party, they've become an anti-Jewish party, and I thought that vote was a disgrace, and so does everybody else, if you get an honest answer. If you get an honest answer from politicians, they thought it was a disgrace. The Democrats have become an anti- Israel party, they've become an anti-Jewish party and that's too bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, this, of course, began with remarks from a Muslim- American congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, that were widely viewed to be trafficking anti-Semitic tropes. She criticized the influence of a pro-Israel lobby, suggesting that Jewish Americans have dual loyalties. She also responded to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald about defending Israel, he says at the cost of free speech in this country, Omar replying with a tweet of her own, quote, it's all about the Benjamins, baby, invoking bigoted tropes about Jews and money. The House with all the Democrats and most Republicans passed the
resolution condemning anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim bigotry, which came under fire for being so broadly drawn that it amounted to no condemnation as all, critics said. The president then reacted, as you heard him in that last clip, and reportedly restated the accusation at a Republican fund-raiser Friday night, which, as you might imagine, became a major topic when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders went before the cameras today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Does the president really believe Democrats hate Jews?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president's been an unwavering and committed ally to Israel and the Jewish people and frankly, the remarks that have been made by a number of Democrats and failed to be called out by Democratic leadership is frankly abhorrent and it's sad and it's something that should be called by name. It shouldn't be put in a watered down resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, neither Sarah Sanders nor the president are alone in criticizing the House resolution. Nor have some of the statements from Democrats, including on this program, been the full throated condemnation of Congresswoman Omar's remarks that some in both parties would prefer.
However, listen to the very next thing we heard in today's press conference, because it's here that the president's spokesperson leaves the world of the factual or even, to be generous, the arguable, behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: It should be done the way the Republicans did it when Steve king made terrible comments. We called it out by name, we stripped him of his committee memberships and we'd like to see Democrats follow suit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Steve King, the Republican congressman from Iowa, is the defender of white nationalism. And when Sarah Sanders uses the pronoun we, in conjunction with condemning the congressman, she is, quite simply, not telling the truth, as was pointed out to her today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You mentioned Steve King, the president, correct me if I'm wrong, has not condemned Steve King.
SANDERS: I --
REPORTER: He was praising white supremacy. Has the president publicly come out and said anything to criticize -- SANDERS: I speak on behalf of the president on a number of topics and
I've talked about that a number of times and I'd refer you back to those comments where I used words like abhorrent and unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, to be fair, on the 16th of January, she, herself, did indeed say, quote, Steve King's comments were abhorrent, and the Republican leadership, unlike Democrats, have actually taken action when their members have said outrageous and inappropriate things.
However, the president himself has never said a word on that. And though it is certainly true the president's press secretary is supposed to speak for the president, it is amazing how often she says she actually doesn't speak for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: On the last one, I would refer you to the president's outside counsel about any concerns.
That's a question you'd have to ask the Trump Organization. The president isn't involved.
Again, I'm not aware of the back and forth and I would refer you to the president's outside counsel.
I would refer you to Michael Cohen's personal attorney.
This is something I would refer you to the Trump Organization.
I'd refer you back to the Trump inaugural committee.
Refer you to U.S. Secret Service.
I would refer you to Rudy Giuliani.
[20:05:03] I would refer you to the FBI for any specifics.
For any specifics, I would refer you to the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, again, if the president really truly wanted to weigh in on Steve King, he could have. After all, he even found time to weigh in on these guys.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
COOPER: He certainly weighed on this display of anti-Semitism that terrible weekend in Charlottesville. Of course, if he intended to make it a full-throated condemnation, it didn't really come out that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me. Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said you had some very bad people there, but you also had some fine people on both sides.
As you see, the president can be remarkably selective in his criticism. Seeing good people even when there are none, in a tiki torch march, where people are chanting Jews will not replace us, with anti-Semites and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.
However, he paints with a far broader brush when it comes to the Democrats. Is this because he sees an opening in trying to persuade Jewish-American voters to switch parties? After all, in the 2018 midterms, according to CNN's exit poll, Jewish-Americans made about 2 percent of the electorate but gave 79 percent of their votes to the Democrats. So, at least a few months ago, the party was anti-Semitic Jewish voters, we're not seeing it.
But the president clearly sees this as an opportunity. And his spokesperson is clearly having a hard time explaining why this exchange, as CNN's Jim Acosta shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Just to get back to John and Hallie's comments about the president's comments about Democrats and Jewish people, isn't that kind of rhetoric just sort of beneath everybody? Do you think that the president has thought at all going into this 2020 campaign that the rhetoric just needs to be lowered, whether it's talking about Democrats, the media, immigrants, or should we just plan on hearing the president use the same kind of language in 2016 and all through the first couple of years in this administration?
SANDERS: Look, I think that the real shame in all of this is that Democrats are perfectly capable of coming together and agreeing on the fact that they're comfortable ripping baby's straight from a mother's womb or killing a baby after birth, but they have a hard time condemning the type of comments from Congresswoman Omar. I think that is a great shame. The president has been clear on what his position is. Certainly, what his support is for the people in the community of Israel and beyond that I don't have anything further for you.
ACOSTA: You're saying something that is just patently untrue. I mean --
SANDERS: Stating their policy positions is not patently untrue.
ACOSTA: Democrats don't hate Jewish people. That's silly. That's not true.
SANDERS: I think they should call out their members by name. We've made that clear. I don't have anything further.
ACOSTA: But the president --
SANDERS: Sorry, Jim.
ACOSTA: After Charlottesville they were saying there were very fine people on both sides, essentially suggesting there are very fine people in the Nazis.
SANDERS: That's not at all what the president was stating. Not then, not at any point. The president has been incredibly clear and consistently and repeatedly condemned hatred, bigotry, racism in all of its forms whether it's in America or anywhere else and to say otherwise is simply untrue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House.
Jim, the White House certainly is not backing down from the statements by the president even though Sarah Sanders wouldn't kind of go there.
ACOSTA: Yes, she wouldn't confirm it and she wouldn't share the president's sentiments, I suppose, word for word. But, listen, they view these anti-Semitic comments from Ilhan Omar as a gift and a gift that keeps on giving, whether or not it's justified to keep running with it, they're going to keep running with it and they're going to run with it as long as they can.
Obviously, what you saw during the briefing today was a tacit sort of, you know, offer of support for what the president was saying. I mean, there were three of us who tried to challenge Sarah Sanders on this issue and she wasn't really backing down. As I tried to point out to her, obviously Democrats don't hate Jewish people, that's simply untrue. She wouldn't concede the point.
And so, we've been through this exercise so many times before, her response wasn't really surprising. So, I did check in with a Trump adviser and asked, you know, why is this coming from? This just sounds silly and untrue.
And this adviser said, no, we believe that the Democrats do hate Jewish people and that, you know, listen, the president is allowed to attack them just in the same way that we're attacked. And so, I think it just really sends a very disturbing message as to where we're heading with this campaign heating up, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, this kind of -- your question was about is there going to be any change in the rhetoric or level of rhetoric, you know, heading towards 2020.
[20:10:05] If anything, it's going to ramp up.
ACOSTA: That's right. And the way that they're going after Ilhan Omar on anti-Semitism is sort of a way to inoculate themselves on the issue of Charlottesville, which is going to be a lasting stain on the president's, I think, legacy. He'll have to defend that during the campaign.
You know, he has ways of hiding from us over here at the White House. They like to say he's very accessible and is open to, you know, taking questions all the time. We rarely have those news conferences where we get to stand up and ask him a question. We're typically in oval office sprays and departures and things like that, where you don't have the opportunity to pin him down on this.
But that's going to come back to haunt him during the campaign. Just the same way that they're running with this Ilhan Omar controversy, they're going to try to go after Democrats as socialists because of the Green New Deal and ideas put forward by people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
And so, yes, it is heating up, but to hear the president of the United States refer to the Democratic Party as anti-Jewish and have a report over the weekend saying that he actually said Democrats hate Jews, I think it just sums up, Anderson, what we're facing in the upcoming 2020 election, and that is probably the ugliest campaign of our lifetime -- Anderson.
ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Joining us now is Congressman Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida. For the record, Congressman Deutch is Jewish.
Congressman Deutch, you've spoken out against both President Trump and Congresswoman Omar's comments and condemned anti-Semitism from anyone, saying this isn't political, it's life and death. That's how serious this is in your opinion?
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Sure, Anderson. This is -- this isn't just politics, although sadly, this is just another attempt of the president to divide. This is what he does. It's the most divisive administration that anyone can remember.
And I would just ask, who's he talking about when he makes that comment? Is he talking about the three dozen members -- Jewish members of Congress, all but two of whom are Democrats? We work every day to fight anti-Semitism and support the relationship.
But you know what really gets him, Anderson? It's the fact that it's the Jewish community that has formed alliances that has been out in front every time the president tries to tear us apart. On the Muslim ban, it was the Jewish community and the Muslim community working together to protest that terrible policy.
When the president decided to tear kids away from their mothers, it was the Jewish community and the Hispanic community and right-minded people who stood up and said, you can't do this. And finally, you've been talking a lot about Charlottesville. Well, when neo-Nazis are marching in the streets carrying tiki torches, it's the Jewish community and the African-American community who know what's at stake.
And for the president to say he sees very fine people on both sides, he ought to cut this out. It is not political. He's wrong. It's outrageous and it needs to stop.
COOPER: One of the issues that makes this so difficult is, it is an outrageous statement, this blanket statement, saying, you know, Democrats hate Jews, it's so outrageous that one has to address it, but by addressing it, as we are tonight, and have on Friday, by addressing it, one is playing into exactly the president's hands in terms of saying something so incendiary that it has to be challenged on a factual basis, at the very least, if not a moral one, and yet, in challenging it and discussing it, you do give -- one gives it life in a way that allows it to kind of stick in people's minds.
The problem is the president -- you're dealing with somebody who has absolutely no shame and is willing to say anything, and that's a real problem for Democrats and for anybody.
DEUTCH: Well, it's a problem -- it's not a problem for Democrats, it's a problem for our nation, Anderson. When we continue to focus on the president's efforts to tear us apart from one another, we're actually emboldening him.
And you're right about what he does. I saw that press conference today. The fact that Sarah Sanders couldn't bring herself to say no, the president does not believe that Democrats hate Jews is outrageous, but that's what he does.
Remember, this is the same person whose campaign featured a commercial talking about globalist threats that featured three prominent Jews. It's the same president whose campaign tweeted pictures of Hillary Clinton with Jewish stars and piles of money. What he says and what he does aren't always the same thing, and he needs to be held accountable.
Anderson, I would just make a plea to my Republican colleagues. I went down to the House floor and I criticized anyone who uses anti anti-Semitic language, whether they're Democrats or Republicans. I only hope that there is one Republican serving in the United States Congress who's willing to stand up and tell the president to knock it off.
It's beneath him, it's beneath the office of the presidency, and it is damaging to our country and puts people at risk.
[20:15:08] COOPER: Have Democrats, though, played a role in kind of handing this issue to the president? I mean, your fellow Democrats in the House won't officially condemn Congresswoman Omar's comments. I talked to Max Boot last Friday, he says Democrats are blowing their chance to seize the moral high ground here.
DEUTCH: Well, no, I don't think there's -- this isn't a battle -- this isn't a battle for the moral high ground. The president has decided to get down in the gutter again. That's what's happening here.
I was clear last week about how I feel. Other people spoke up. Ultimately, we passed a resolution that strongly condemned anti- Semitism and I was clear about how I felt about that. But no, it doesn't play into the president's hand.
To the contrary, the president looks at this situation and says, how do you use this to further divide people? How do I use this to make more people hate other people? That's what the president is doing here.
There's -- there's no claim -- this administration, this president has no claim at any point to the moral high ground. He's only too happy to get down in the gutter and to do things and to say things that put people at risk. Words, as I said last week, Anderson, words matter.
There are real consequences when people talk like this. And the president needs to be held accountable and the Republicans need to tell him to knock it off and to be accountable for his language.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, look, you know, it's the same sort of theme as the, you know, press is the enemy of the people. I mean, he makes these kind of statements and it becomes almost normalized and yet it should not be normalized.
DEUTCH: It can't be.
COOPER: This is not normal language for the president of the United States.
DEUTCH: It really can't be. Sure.
COOPER: Yes. I just want to quickly switch topics and ask you about what Speaker Pelosi said today, that she's not in favor of impeaching President Trump, arguing that it will divide the country, saying, quote, he's not worth it.
Do you agree with her?
DEUTCH: Well, we're just going to keep doing our job, Anderson. I think everyone is going to continue that.
At this point, after two years of the Republican failure to conduct any oversight to hold this administration accountable, the Judiciary Committee that I serve on takes the job seriously. That's why we sent out document requests to over 80 individuals and entities. We want to get to the truth. We want everyone to understand that as we do this oversight, we have to uphold the rule of law and that no one is above the law.
So, I -- I've been saying throughout, it's premature to have any conversations about that. We have a job to do, and we're going to continue to do that job on behalf of the American people.
COOPER: Congressman Deutch, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
DEUTCH: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead, we have more on the house speaker's bomb shell announcement on impeachment. I'll talk exclusively with Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, who President Trump went after this weekend, calling him the grandstanding governor of California. The governor's direct response, coming up.
[20:20:45] COOPER: More now on our breaking news. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she does not think impeachment proceedings against President Trump are worth it, in an interview with "The Washington Post" magazine. She says the impeachment process is so divisive, that absent anything compelling, overwhelming and bipartisan, that's her words, she doesn't think the House should go down that path.
Now, that of course, flies in the face of the views of at least some Democratic members of the House who think the exact opposite.
Joining me today, "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers and Democratic strategist Angela Rye.
Kirsten, for months it seems like we've been hearing from Republicans that the Democrats are going to impeach President Trump.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Right.
COOPER: Every show that I have been on, that you have been on that that has been said, you have always responded by saying, you're just saying that. That's a talking point. Democrats are not saying that. Speaker Pelosi seems to be confirming that.
COOPER: Certainly in a more definitive way than maybe anything we've heard certainly from her.
POWERS: Yes. And she really seemed to go out of her way to make this very clear. It was interest, she said, I'm going to make some news and say this, but really, this has been the position of the Democratic leadership, which is, they saw what happened when the Republicans went after Bill Clinton and they were able to impeach him in the House but not convict him in the Senate, because it was, you know, basically, not a bipartisan effort. And they're not interested in going down that road.
And so, you know, they're not stupid. I mean, that's really what it comes down to. I think that they're doing these investigations because this is the job of the Congress to do oversight on the president and it hasn't been done to date when the Republicans were in control and the information that they gather I think will be information that will be useful to voters. I think Republicans keep saying oh, this is just to impeach the president, but unless they could get some sort of bipartisan support, and particularly in the Senate, then I think that's not what this is really about.
COOPER: Angela, I wonder what you make of the statement, and also, especially the timing of this. Why she would make these statements, do you think it was wise?
ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, no, I don't think it's wise for several reasons. One, the Democrats are just into their first quarter of really taking over the House. They're just now exercising their leadership. There are committee chairs that are expending a number of staff and financial resources on investigating Donald Trump, not to mention the fact that the Mueller investigation is report is nowhere near done. Maybe they say it's near done, but they've been saying that for several months.
I think it's unfortunate that in the middle of all of the fact finding that's going on, right in the middle of Republicans saying it's a witch hunt, why would you confirm any of that by saying it's not worth it to impeach him? It would be too divisive.
If this president, if this commander-in-chief isn't divisive enough and that alone warrants his particular -- or his potential impeachment or at least his resignation, I don't know what is. I don't think that it further divides the country by any stretch to expect that someone who has broken the law at every turn and has lied about it and has guilty, guilty, guilty all around him, just the people around him, I don't know what warrants impeachment. I guess I just don't understand.
POWERS: Well, you know, I don't -- I don't think -- look, I guess in the way I heard her talking, I don't think she was ruling out impeachment ever happening. I think she was sort of saying based on what we have in front of us right now obviously there's not enough information to do that and there's not enough possibility of getting some sort of bipartisan consensus.
I do think one of the problems with bipartisan consensus is it's hard to imagine really anything that Republicans would ever impeach Donald Trump over. So I think -- but I do think it's important for Democrats to be aware of this sort of broader, you know, political situation, which is that you don't want to hand Donald Trump something that he's going to be able to portray himself as this unfair victim. I think it's better to go along with the process. And look, if it gets to the point where they have that kind of information, cross that bridge when you get to it.
COOPER: So, Angela, do you think this takes away some enthusiasm potentially from Democrats about what may go on or supporting, you know, the process?
[20:25:12] RYE: Well, I think -- I think there are a number of things. One is, I think the real challenge we have is you've basically said, you know, and Kirsten, you just acknowledged, it's hard to get anything done in a bipartisan fashion by the mere -- just by the fact of gerrymandering alone. It's very, very hard, especially in the House, the Senate maybe not so much.
But our reality is if you foreclose on a process before it's even done, that's the real problem. I think she's really undermined a number of committee chairs, right? When you think about Congressman Cummings, Michael Cohen testimony was not that -- it wasn't be that long ago. So, I'm just saying, what is the purpose of all of that, if it's not to determine if there was any real breaking of the law? And if there was breaking of the law, the only way to punish the
president is to impeach him. He's not going to be indicted. So, I don't understand why she would foreclose on that. I think the other challenge I have, Anderson, frankly, is to me it seems like an effort to go after blue collar white workers who she thinks is coming back to the tent that's now being called socialism. They're not coming back, Nancy. They're not coming back.
COOPER: Angela Rye, Kirsten Powers, thank you very much.
Coming up next, the governor who says he's -- well, trying to -- well, he's facing up to the Trump administration. The president's counterattack on him, and what it all says about the state of play between these two powerful political forces. My conversation with California Governor Gavin Newsom is next.
[20:30:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump delivered a budget to the Democratic controlled House today. Not surprisingly Democrats declared it dead on arrival in part because it calls for $8.6 billion for the wall, the one that Mexico was going to pay for and one of the point, the one that the President declared an emergency to finance right now.
He did that over the objection of many people in both parties and he is expected to lose a Senate vote on it in the next few days. One of his biggest critics is California Governor Gavin Newsom. He spoke with our Gary Tuchman just the other day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think he's xenophobic?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: I think a lot of the actions that we've seen over the last few years, by definition are textbook, nativist textbook xenophobic, textbook racists in many respects and --
TUCHMAN: Are you at war with the Trump administration?
NEWSOM: It's not just the Trump administration, broadly Trumpism. I think more broadly a lot of the rhetoric we're hearing just on the streets and sidewalks, you know, that there's something going on. We -- there's a lot of toxicity in our body politic right now and it's inflame for purely partisan political purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that report first aired on the program Friday night. It aired again on Saturday and the President must have seen that airing because moments later he tweeted, "I hope the grandstanding Governor of California is able to spend his highly -- very highly taxed citizens money on asylum holds more efficiently than money has been spent on the so-called Fast Train, which is billions over budget and in total disarray. Time to reduce taxes in California." So that was Saturday. Earlier today, we spoke again with Governor Newsom.
COOPER: Governor Newsom, I want to start by reading something back that you said to our Gary Tuchman just last week about President Trump and his actions. You said, "I think a lot of the actions over the last few years are by definition or textbook, nativist textbook xenophobic, textbook racists in many respects." Do you then think the President is a racist and a xenophobe?
NEWSOM: Well, he's certainly acting like it. He's certainly advancing policies that are intended to divide, policies that are very familiar to Californians. These are the same policies that are being advanced by not a president at the time in the '80s and '90s. But substantively in a contemporary sense, 1994 when Pete Wilson was governor of California running for re-election and he advanced initiative prop 187. We had three strikes reform on the ballot, fear the other, politics of fear and anger. It was on the ballot and it won. It was situational, but long-term it was devastating to the Republican Party. The Republican banned in California and I think the same will happen across the nation.
COOPER: You think that's what is at the core of President Trump's kind of strategy, hitting people against each other?
NEWSOM: Of course. I mean, it's textbook. None of this is novel. None of this is new. It's very familiar, not just to people in California, all across the country. Politics, again, of fear and anger, and it works situationally. It doesn't work long-term, but it works short-term. It's all about the base. It's all about the base. You hear that over and over publicly, privately. And it's sad and tragic.
And it's incumbent upon people like myself that feel that we can elevate ourselves and we can rise above that to stand up and stand tall and have the backs of our diverse populations, particularly in a state like California that practices pluralism, a word you never heard uttered from the White House.
We are a universal state. We're the most diverse state and the world's most diverse democracy and we want to celebrate our differences, but we also believe in uniting around the things that bind us together and our common humanity is at stake when you have politics and politicians who want to divide us. And I'm just not going to stand for that.
COOPER: In the interview with Gary, you also talked about the services California is now providing for asylum seekers, services which you say should be the federal government's responsibility. You actually open up a center for asylum seekers.
The President responded to you over the weekend tweeting, "I hope the grandstanding Governor of California is able to spend his very highly taxed citizens money on asylum holds more efficiently than money has been spent on the so-called Fast Train, which is billions over budget and in total disarray. Time to reduce taxes in California." To that you say what?
NEWSOM: Well, we're going to need two segments to unpack all of that and the conflation of issues. But the bottom line is, it is the federal government's responsibility. It is the federal government's role.
Look, these are human beings, these are parents, these are children that forgive the vernacular or otherwise dumped and not -- you know, I'm being a little pejorative, I'm being a little, you know, little obtuse in my language, but otherwise, they're thrown in bus stops to fend for themselves that came through here legally, legal asylum seekers. Not here illegally, legally.
And they have ankle bracelets on their legs. They have children in their arms and they're out in 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning at a Greyhound Bus Station. And the federal government turns its back to them, turns a blind eye to them, California will not.
[20:35:07] And if they won't do their job, we'll do their job. And to the extent the taxpayers of California, 40 million strong, one of the strongest economies in the world embrace that, I enthusiastically will advance that. And $25 million seems a small price to make sure that those children are fed and to make sure that those folks have a safe journey to whatever destination legally they are going towards.
COOPER: It certainly seems a part of the President's strategy and the administration strategy is to make legal asylum seeking as difficult as possible. I mean, it seems like it has slowed. They've, you know, slow it down to a trickle so it's only a few people a day. So you have thousands of people waiting on the other side of the border for a process, which is a legal process.
NEWSOM: Yes, it's a legal process. They try to make it difficult as possible. Look at their results with all -- forgive me, Anderson, I get a little intense about this. I've got four young kids. My youngest just turned 3, my oldest is 9. We find out again today that thousands, potentially, of children were separated than the administration has publicly at least, well, acknowledged.
And yet all of these efforts by the administration are a complete failure. Everything they've tried to do from zero tolerance, everything, is making things worse, not better. There's no accountability for just simple governance in humanity and decency.
And I think its incumbent upon all of us, not just Democrats in California, Republicans, human beings that care about the human condition to demand and expect more and stop the politics and the tweets and let's come to some conclusion of the consequences of our failure in this country to advance comprehensive immigration reform and then deal with the root causes, the root causes particularly as it relates to asylum seekers.
And that is what's happening in Guatemala, what's happening in El Salvador, and what's happening in Nicaragua and get to the core of this in terms of truly trying to solve this issue. COOPER: The President sent his budget proposal, as you know, to Congress today. He's now asking for $8.6 billion for the border wall, which is almost 3 billion more than what the government was shutdown over. I'm wondering what that says to you. I mean, maybe it's just an opening gambit, but in a further negotiation. But that he's now asking the American taxpayers for substantially more money for his wall and that any notion certainly Mexico paying for it has completely disappeared.
NEWSOM: Yes, thank you for reminding the (INAUDIBLE) Mexico will pay for the wall. Look, this is nothing more than what it obviously is. It's pure political theater. It's a perpetuation of a conversation like you and I are having that we're going to have every single day. It's exactly what the President wants.
He wants this conversation, because he can't have the real conversation about solving some of the deep and structural challenges in this country because he's not interested enough in creating political conditions where he can engage the other party and actually produce real results.
So he creates these side shows, this political theater, this political grandstanding. Of course it's absurd. $5.7 billion led to a shutdown and now he asked for $8.6, doubling down on it. He knows exactly what he's doing and he knows how we're going to react. He knows how folks like I will react, like you and others and how we'll consume the nightly news.
And meanwhile, he will be less impacted by the consequences of his complete failure to address all of these other issues because we are here exactly where he knew he would send us down the vortex of this political theater on something he knows he can't deliver but will continue to perpetuate as a theme to satiate his base.
COOPER: You know, I mean, just past month, though, there were 76,000 unauthorized border crossings at the southern border. It's an 11-year high. Customs and Border Protection, they have said the system is well beyond capacity and remains at the breaking point and whatever one labels at a crisis or an emergency. Do you acknowledge there is a problem at the border? And if so, what is the solution to that problem?
NEWSOM: You know, problem of our own making. The complete incapacity for Democrats and Republicans to come together on comprehensive immigration reform to deal with this not situationally but sustainably, to deal with this fundamentally, to deal with this at its root cause.
It's no longer Mexicans jumping over the border, in fact, in California where they're 10-year low in a number of undocumented residents in the state. I'll repeat that, a decade low in a number of undocumented residents in the state. The challenge has changed and now it's about Central America.
And if you're going to get serious about it, let's get serious about investment and economic development and opportunities in Central America. Let's secure our border. Let's also secure our consequence of our zero tolerance policies and let's make sure we have more judges and we make sure we have more staffing to address legal asylum seekers. Let's make sure we're communicating more effectively to our neighbors to the south.
[20:40:02] Let's make sure we're maintaining a sense of decency, and honor, and humility, and humanity when people cross into our country, because when they're in our country, they're in our state and our values are at stake if we deny them and look past them, talk down to them, or dumped them on the streets and sidewalks. That's how you begin to substantively address this issue.
Creating the conditions and having the decency to move past the politics and the situational politics that is being advanced here in a more sustainable way and forgive me, Anderson, for belaboring this, just start being human beings again, decent, honorable human beings and not politicians and put down the swords and all of this, you know, this anger and divisiveness.
COOPER: You were down to San Ysidro border crossing last week saying that there is no crisis, no national emergency. You got criticized because at that crossing there is a wall. Do walls work?
NEWSOM: You know, I think they do work in urban settings. I think they do work on the southern border here in California, particularly between Tijuana and San Diego. But here's one of the reasons they work, it's a cross border engagement, 100,000 people going back and forth legally every single day.
People that live in San Diego and work in Tijuana, people that work in Tijuana and then come into San Diego for exchange, for not just cultural exchange. but economic exchange for jobs and opportunity. It's one region. You talk to folks down there, they talk about it in a regional construct.
We had a century program that fast tracks people to move across the border. It's a completely different narrative than the one that's dominated in the national news. And it's a narrative that people have live with for decades. There's a vibrancy that's part of that narrative. Not just security issue that's part of that narrative, but in terms of security, absolutely.
We believe in appropriate security measures, but 2,000 mile wall is a monument to stupidity, not just vanity, stupidity. It doesn't solve the problem. There's ways of isolating structures. There's ways of providing barriers and security that can solve the problem. But this president is not creating the conditions where we can have that thoughtful debate. Instead, he's advancing purely a political one.
COOPER: Well, speaking of not a thoughtful debate, my last question, you told us last week that you don't want to spar with the President, that you want to work with him. I just want to play something he said last week about a phone call allegedly with you. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But he called me up the other day, recently, let's say four weeks ago or so, because I just want to tell you, you're a great president and you're one of the smartest people I've ever met. That's what he said. Now, that's what he said. Will he admit it? No, I doubt it, but that's what he said. And you're doing a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is that your recollection?
NEWSOM: You can't make this up, Anderson. Look, I called the President because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation. And I said this publicly, not just privately of his visit out here in Butte County. We've had these historic wildfires out here primarily because of climate change and I want to express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him. I was grateful to him.
The people in those communities appreciated not only his time and attention, but appreciated his commitments that he made, somehow that got conflated. I think we hear what we want to hear. So, no, I can't admit "what I said" to the President privately because that's not what I said.
That said, I do want to work with him on emergency preparedness, emergency planning. I do want to rise above this politics and I think that's important. I think people expect that and to the extent we can continue to have an open hand, not a clenched fist, I'm all for it.
But if you're going to attack the people in the state, you're going to attack our values, you're going to attack our diversity, I'm going to have the back of those folks and I'll stand up tall against anyone that tries to advance a contrary narrative.
COOPER: Governor Newsom, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
NEWSOM: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Well, in other news, the lawyer for "Empire" star Jussie Smollett says police have what he calls a great case against the two brothers involved as Smollett faces 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct regarding the alleged hoax attack. I'll talk with the lawyer for the two brothers to see what she has to say, next.
[20:48:06] COOPER: The attorney for "Empire" star Jussie Smollett says his client is innocent. Mark Geragos went even further on "360" this past Friday casting suspicion on his supposed attackers, brothers who prosecutors say received $3,500 to help stage the whole thing. Here's what Geragos told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Isn't it just weird that you get attacked, allegedly attacked by two people you actually know, who have actually been on "Empire," who you've actually worked out with and you don't recognize them?
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT: Yes. Yes. And that's -- guess what, I don't know whether he made that statement or -- but what I do know is that when he was told that they had evidence against these two, he refused to sign the complaint because he could not believe it. If he thought they were in on it, would he have signed the complaint? Wouldn't he have signed the complaint? He didn't believe it.
Now, if you're asking me what their motivation is, I suppose I could speculate, but motivation of Jussie is not an element of the crime. Their motivation, I've got my theories on it, but I haven't seen one piece of evidence and they don't have one piece of evidence that they've turned over that links Jussie to this. What they do have is a whale of a case as -- if you believe what the police chief is saying, they've got a great case against the two brothers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, as you might expect, the lawyer for the brothers has quite a different take. Her name is Gloria Schmidt. We spoke earlier today.
COOPER: Gloria, can you just explain exactly what your clients are acknowledging they did and didn't do in connection with the attack?
GLORIA SCHMIDT ATTORNEY FOR BROTHERS IN SMOLLETT CASE: Sure, Anderson. You know, their biggest point right now is the tremendous regret that they feel over their involvement, and I know everyone wants to know, well, what is the exact detail? Where are the borders of their involvement? And at this point I'm not at liberty to say that, but what I can tell you is that their participation has been a complete learning experience for them and they've really had a realization through all of this.
[20:50:11] COOPER: How did you come to believe your client's story?
SCHMIDT: Number one, I wanted to just put it out there that they fully cooperated with the police. Obviously that starts with cooperating with your attorney and myself, my co-counsel who are here, Rodriguez, we walked through the actual timeline. We pieced everything together. This took us a lot of time ourselves.
So, my own law firm doing our own private investigation, we were able to fish it out, if you will, and tell the commander, there's something that doesn't match with the narrative that had been put out by Mr. Smollett.
COOPER: Do you believe your clients were betrayed by Jussie Smollett?
SCHMIDT: I believe my clients were betrayed. You have to look at what kind of relationship they had with Mr. Smollett. He's a celebrity. This is somebody who is in a position of power over my clients. And we've seen a lot of stories in the news where celebrities think they might be above the law. It's just not the case.
COOPER: Do you know how your clients met Jussie Smollett and how long they've known him for?
SCHMIDT: I do. The older brother had known Mr. Smollett longer than -- oh, I'm sorry, the younger brother had known Mr. Smollett longer than the older brother. They met through working -- a working relationship. And they were trainers. They were training him.
COOPER: So was the younger brother the trainer of Jussie Smollett or were they both training him?
SCHMIDT: They were both training him.
COOPER: And I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said. How did the younger brother initially meet Smollett?
SCHMIDT: So, those details I think will be better said from able, but I do know that they met a couple years, at least a couple years prior to this incident.
COOPER: So -- oh, so they've known each other for a couple of years.
COOPER: Do you know if they -- can you say if they met in Chicago or elsewhere?
SCHMIDT: I'm not able to answer that at this time.
COOPER: OK. There is this check for $3,500 that was written by Smollett to one of your clients. Was it to the younger brother, do you know?
SCHMIDT: So the training actually, you know, that was something that was pre-discussed prior to January 29th. It was cashed. It was deposited. And as I said, these are all details that came out with my clients fully cooperating with the police.
COOPER: Since the check was for training, did the check have anything to do with the -- agreeing to take part in this attack or what they say is a hoax?
SCHMIDT: You know, the check is -- it's not such a clear cut answer because you have to look at they were friends and the money did include services for training. but you have to look at it within the context of, "I'm the star and you're someone who I can help and I would like to pay you for something and, oh, can you do me this favor?" So, was it for training, was it not for training, I think it's a little bit of both.
COOPER: Can you say just full stop that this was a hoax perpetrated by Jussie Smollett?
SCHMIDT: What I can say is that my clients are extremely, extremely, tremendously remorseful for their role in this. They hope that, you know, this opens the dialogue to people that are being affected, that people who are in minority populations, people that have suffered the hate crimes and they really hope that people learn from this. Don't get taken advantage of by a celebrity or somebody who has a stronger relationship than you.
COOPER: And they feel they were taken advantage of by Jussie Smollett?
SCHMIDT: They feel regretful that they put their trust in the wrong person, yes.
COOPER: Gloria Schmidt, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
SCHMIDT: Thank you for having me, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, let's check in with Chris to see what he is working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. That's why people have a problem with lawyers. Just say it's a hoax then. Everything you just said equates with it being a hoax, but you always ask the right questions. That's the best that we can do, you know. And sometimes the lawyer just matters. You know, in that situation, the lawyer knows what her clients are really about, what they're afraid of now.
So tonight, I've been chasing an interview with Keith Davidson for a long time. He was Stormy Daniels, he was Karen McDougal and others lawyers in these hush money payments. Because we keep asking ourselves, well, what did the President know or not know? How involved was he? Is Cohen telling the truth or not?
[20:55:01] This is the guy on the other side of the transactions and he is finally willing to speak. We're giving him a big bunch of time to test what he says happened, what he thinks was known and not known, the timeline, the lawyer knows the answers.
COOPER: Yes. That's going to be fascinating. Five minutes from now. I'm definitely going to tune in. Chris, thank you very much. Appreciate it. We'll see you at the top of the hour.
Up next, growing questions in the wake of the second deadly crash, the world's best selling airliner in just months. What the federal authorities are saying about the 737 Max when we continue.
COOPER: The Federal Aviation Administration is not grounding Boeing 737 Max jets after two recent fatal crashes. Instead, the agency says it will order Boeing to make "design changes" to the jets, but only due to the line air crash last October when 189 people died. Now, this announcement comes just a day after another 737 Max 8 jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed killing all 157 people on board, including 8 Americans. That's two deadly crashes involving the 738 MAX in just five months. Today, several airlines around the world grounded the plane. Here in the U.S., Southwest, United, and American are still flying that aircraft.
That does it for us. Time to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?