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New York Opens Investigation into President Trump; Actresses, Wealthy Parents and College Coaches Among Those Arrested in Nationwide College Admission Scam. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We have a big night of breaking news, whether it's famous actors in court accused of helping cheat their kids' way into elite colleges, or the federal government refusing to ground the world's best-selling airliner, even though the rest of the world now is. We'll have that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin, though, keeping them honest with President Trump. He intended to lead the story by saying that he'd gone the entire day without tweeting once about the Russia investigation or any other of more than half dozen inquiries now under way into virtually everything he's touched. That's what we were going to do.

And then he tweeted just after 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Quoting the president: New York state and its governor, Andrew Cuomo, are now proud members of the group of presidential harassers. No wonder people are fleeing the state in record numbers. The witch hunt continues.

He's talking about New York's attorney general doing what the president had once said would be a no-no, at least if Robert Mueller did it.


MICHAEL SCHMIDT, NYT: If Mueller was looking at your finances or your family's finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, NYT: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. I would say yes.


COOPER: Now, we don't fully know how far Mr. Mueller has gone in his pursuit of Russia evidence or whether he's crossed that particular line. However, New York state just did. The attorney general's office issuing subpoenas according to a sourse familiar with the matter for Deutsche Bank, seeking records relating to the Trump Organization and a number of high dollar loans and lines of credit. The attorney general also wants to see documents relating to a failed bid to buy the NHL's Buffalo Bills.

And if that sounds familiar to you, there's a good reason why.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I'm giving to the committee today three years of Mr. Trump's personal financial statements from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are exhibits 1A, 1B, and 1C to my testimony.


COOPER: That obviously is Michael Cohen's opening statement to the House Oversight Committee just last month. He was talking about what he said was the president's habit of inflating or shrinking the declared values of assets depending on whether he was seeking loans, buying insurance for his properties or paying taxes on them. In short, if proven, it could amount to a whole lot of several types of fraud.

During his questioning, several lawmakers asked him to elaborate.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?

COHEN: Yes, and you'd find it at the Trump Org.


COOPER: Or Deutsche Bank perhaps. The New York inquiry is a civil matter, it's not a criminal one it's important to point out, and it joins a long list of other investigations surrounding the president of the campaign, transition, inauguration, administration, as well as his now defunct so-called charity which the state of New York ordered dissolved.

Like we said, he almost made it through a full day without tweeting about any of it, but he didn't.

More now on this latest shoe to drop, as well as the widely attempted Mueller report, joining us is CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. He's also the author of a book that's just coming out this week entitled "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment and the Rule of Law."

So, Preet, what does this mean? I mean, how concerned should the president be about an investigation in which Deutsche Bank records are subpoenaed?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, if you add it on top of all the other investigations, you put out a nice graphic, that basically, you know, every aspect of his business and foundation, life is being put under the microscope either by SDNY or the special counsel's office or other U.S. attorney's offices. And now, the New York attorney general's office.

What's interesting to me is the degree to which there might be coordination between my old office, the SDNY, with respect to Michael Cohen, sharing him as someone who's provided information to SDNY and the special counsel's office and how much of that is being done with the state A.G.'s office.

You know, obviously, Michael Cohen made his statements that look like they prompted these subpoenas that were issued yesterday in an open forum, out in the open before Congress. You would have expected there to be some behind-the-scenes proffering, interviewing, debriefing of Michael Cohen that would lead the New York A.G. to issue subpoenas and perhaps do other investigative work we still don't know about because it's being done behind the scenes.

COOPER: So you're saying that kind of interview would have happened before -- would have happened after his testimony?

BHARARA: Yes, it could have happened before or after. I mean, ordinarily, and these are not ordinary circumstances and Michael Cohen is not in an ordinary circumstance because he's already pled guilty to two sets of crimes and has been sentenced already.

[20:05:11] But ordinarily, you have different units of prosecution. You have SDNY, the special counsel, you have the New York attorney general's office and they're all looking for evidence of crimes or civil violations in this case with respect to somebody, in this case the president and his organization and his foundation. And usually, you figure out a way to coordinate.

If you have a witness that has overlapping information that could be useful to multiple jurisdictions, usually there's a lead office. I would imagine in this case it's the SDNY because they took the principal guilty plea from Michael Cohen. And they make that person available to other offices.

And to the extent that some other jurisdiction has a different way of looking at the facts and has some other possibility of bringing a civil or a criminal case, then they get baby-sat by the feds and information comes out and they take note of it and they can take whatever action they can take but usually it's done in some kind of coordinated way. So I would expect that has happened but I can't be sure.

COOPER: But Michael Cohen never did a full cooperation agreement with the SDNY if I'm correct. So, would he be willing to cooperate on anything with any entity?

BHARARA: Well, it looks like what Michael Cohen did is not fully cooperate, as you said, did not enter into a cooperation agreement. Michael Cohen's folks say that because he didn't want to do that at the time because he didn't want to delay I guess the moment of his redemption and paying his debt to society and getting on with his life. It may be that the Southern District folks didn't think that he would be a viable witness and he wasn't able to provide either substantial assistance, or he was violating the principle that the SDNY has gone by, which is you have to tell everything you know about everyone and everything you've done, you can't be selective in what you've put forward.

Michael Cohen has also said in his testimony that notwithstanding the lack of a formal cooperation agreement, he's really excited about the prospect of what's called the Rule 35, which is essentially a cooperation agreement but done after the fact, after you pled guilty, after you've been sentenced in an extraordinary way. That's very uncommon but he's probably looking for some benefit in a Rule 35 by cooperating both with SDNY, special counsel's office and also potentially the state A.G.

COOPER: There are potentially severe penalties that could be imposed, even possibly dissolving the businesses that the president has, correct?

BHARARA: Yes. I don't know all the different remedies that the state A.G. if they find certain civil violations could seek but they could be very serious. We've already seen with respect to the New York A.G.'s office and Trump organization, a very powerful petition that was filed some time ago to which the Trump foundation doesn't have much of a defense and has agreed to pay a lot of money.

So, we should be clear, even if the penalties are severe in a financial way, it's not a criminal case according to reports. In a criminal case, it's a much bigger deal for a lot of reasons. In particular here, a criminal case is one in which you can't pardon people if you're president of the United States because it's a state crime.

And there are other reasons to believe, and I don't want to get way, way ahead of ourselves, but if you had a state prosecutor who felt he or she had proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime by the president, I'm not saying this would happen. But if you did have it hypothetically, that person would not be subject to the guideline that's been subject to a lot of conversation that opinion in the office of legal counsel at the Department of Justice says a sitting president can't be prosecuted.

So, there's a degree of peril because it's some entity outside of the Justice Department, outside of the federal system. But I think it's too early to see how serious a matter it is.

COOPER: All right. Preet Bharara, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Congressman Adam Schiff who chairs the House Intelligence Committee weighed in today on the Mueller report. He said he was concerned about the signals from the Justice Department suggesting they won't give Congress or the public full accounting of the findings, a thin report he said. It would cramp legislative efforts to find out what happened.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Congress' interest and the public's interest and an expeditious investigation by the Congress will be severely inhibited if we have to retrace all the steps that the Mueller team took with far greater resources.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper on this.

Joining us is investigative reporter and author Carl Bernstein. He's a CNN political analyst.

Also with us, senior political analyst and frequent senior White House advisor David Gergen.

David, if the Department of Justice does not provide Congress with the entire Mueller report, should they retrace Mueller's steps here just for transparency's sake if nothing else? At least call him to testify?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Well, I think they will call him to testify if they can't get the report itself. And if the report itself is not issued publicly, then I think they have every reason to try to construct a narrative coming out of the Congress. After all, that's what the public has been waiting for for two years, for this investigation. I don't think the public is going to be very happy if what we have is basically a very short redacted piece of paper that tells us virtually nothing about what they really found.

[20:10:02] And so, I think Adam Schiff is on -- I think he will have a lot of strong public support if he gets to the point where he feels he has to subpoena or write up a narrative.

COOPER: Carl, where's the line, though? If the Department of Justice provides Congress with a summary but withholds the full report, is that reason enough for Chairman Schiff to reinvestigate the whole thing?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I think it would depend upon the specifics of what was turned over. I think there is a general principle here that must obtain, and that is the American people be fully informed about the most important aspects of this investigation by the special prosecutor and what he has found.

There is an ample precedent that Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor, turned over to the House of Representatives actually a so-called road map of everything he found, stacked -- finding upon finding upon finding stacked up on top of each other. Not pejorative in the least, not accusatory, just factual. And I think that's what the American people deserve to see.

There's no other way to judge the president of the United States short of an impeachment proceeding, and you can't have an impeachment proceeding without or even way of judging what the president may or may not have done without those relevant facts. I can't imagine that the new attorney general of the United States, Mr. Barr, wants to end his public career by suppressing what the American people need to know.

I think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let's see what happens. We keep saying we expect the report two weeks ago. We don't have it yet. Let's see what happens.

COOPER: Yes. David, to Carl's point, for all the speculation, the reporting, you know, it seems endless that Mueller is on the brink of delivering his report. The probe has reportedly been funded all the way through September. So, it's feasible, I mean, it's possible we won't know anything for several months more.

GERGEN: Absolutely. And I think when it got extended to September, that sent a signal that this could go on a long time. So, I think Carl's counsel of patience is exactly on point.

COOPER: Carl, there are a lot of people out there expecting some kind of comprehensive 9/11 commission-style report. That's not what Mueller is required to produce for Congress or the public, right?

BERNSTEIN: No. But he is expected, I think reasonably, to produce an account of what happened in regard to what the Russians did in terms of undermining our election in this country and what Americans did to help it, whether unwittingly, wittingly, half-wittingly, especially in the case of the president of the United States and whether or not he engaged in such conduct. We also have the question of the president's business interests and how they fit together with perhaps him furthering those business aims and in exchange whether wittingly, half-wittingly, unwittingly, purposely or not, providing information to the Kremlin in terms of the sanctions.

We keep coming back to the question of why did Donald Trump go so hard to remove the sanctions on Russians? And we don't have a satisfactory answer to that yet. We also don't know what Mr. Manafort and Mr. Trump said to each other, which is of key importance here.

Of course, Manafort is not talking. There may be a reason for that. And that might figure in some of what the special prosecutor lays out in terms of the facts. We need to see it all.

COOPER: David, you know, the president obviously is continually calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. He's calling what the attorney general is doing today part of the witch hunt as well.

Is there -- should Democrats have a concern that all these congressional probes that are being launched right now, and you looked at the graphic we put up earlier of all the different aspects of Trump world that are being investigated, you know, somebody could look at that and say, well, you know, maybe it does -- maybe they are -- maybe that is a witch hunt. They're investigating everything. Is that really fair?

BERNSTEIN: If the Mueller report basically does not address what the president has done or gives him some sort of clean bill of health, then after all of this time and this thorough investigation, I think a lot of people in the public and not just in Trump's base are going to ask the question why are you going to keep jumping on this guy? Why don't you get off his back and let's move on?

You know, this was the heart of the collusion and the Russians was the heart of these investigations. Now, you've proliferated all these investigations. Is that really fair? Is that what we want?

I do think there's a danger of the Democrats overplaying their hand. I do think they would be much better off with a small number of committees collapsing this half dozen committees into one or two that would investigate this in some fashion.

[20:15:03] But I do think, Anderson, in addition to that, the fact that the New York attorney general today issued these subpoenas with regard to Deutsche Bank underscores that even if the Congress holds back, there are going to be other bodies, such as the New York A.G.'s office and the southern district, the federal office in New York that are going to continue investigations. And it's especially important that the new A.G. investigation centers on the Deutsche Bank.

You know, for a long time in circles around Washington, the Deutsche Bank has been at the heart of the conversations. Was there money laundering? We didn't think there were inflated assets, but many people in the financial community believe strongly that there's money laundering of some sort that went on here and the New York A.G. may find that.

This woman, Letitia James, the New York attorney general, is quite something. She's a tough cookie. She said what Donald Trump has to worry about is Mueller, Cohen and Tish James.

COOPER: Carl, I'm wondering what you make of that risk for Democrats in appearing to or actually going too far and starting to look like they're just -- that there wasn't any there, there in collusion and now they're just going after whatever they can.

BERNSTEIN: Two things. Yes, there's a risk. But the greatest risk of all is that the American people not find out what the answers are to the questions they need to know about the president of the United States and about the Russians and what they did in our elections. It is hugely important that we find that out.

If it takes committees of Congress to do it, that is the job of the Congress of the United States as we learned in Watergate when we had one of the great investigations, a bipartisan investigation. And yes, as David suggests, let the Democrats be a little more clever about how they run their investigations and scale it down and make it more streamlined, but let's get the information.

But one of the things Trump has been so successful in doing is to set down this marker of, quote, collusion, which is not a legal term to begin with. There are much larger questions about his conduct in dealing with the Russians than just, quote, collusions. Did he indeed make it possible for the Russians to further their goals by taking on positions and conduct that enabled the Russians to get their way on foreign policy matters and influence his presidency? That is relevant. And there are ways to get at it and that's what we need to find out whether it happened and how.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, thanks very much. A quick note on something I said a moment ago, the Buffalo Bills are in the NFL, not the NHL. One of our writers is a Steelers fan which might explain the typo and the fact I know nothing about sports.

Coming up next, breaking news on Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin, and everyone else swept up in what the federal government calls the largest college admissions cheating scam ever prosecuted. It is bizarre. We'll have the details on that.

And later, new and even more inflammatory audio surfaces from Tucker Carlson's past. The question now, what will Fox News do, if anything, about it?


[20:22:30] COOPER: Well, all eyes are on tonight on a federal courthouse in Los Angeles, all eyes at least for millions of parents who did not use underhanded or illegal tactics to get their kids into college, whose dozens of people allegedly have. Some of whom are appearing in court tonight.

Those charged include wealthy parents, some of them Hollywood celebrities, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. They were swept up in connection with what's being called the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.

Now, we're going to have a live report from Los Angeles momentarily. But, first, our Randi Kaye explains what this massive federal case is all about.


ANDREW LELLING, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS: We're here today to announce charges in the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A jaw-dropping scam, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, involving at least 50 people, accusing wealthy parents are allegedly cheating so their children would be admitted into prestigious schools. One of the schemes involved parents allegedly paying millions for fake athletic credentials, just so their children could gain entry to college by being accepted to the school's athletic team.

To be clear, these were not really student athletes.

LELLING: Singer helped parents take staged photographs of their children engaged in particular sports. In one example, the head women's soccer coach at Yale in exchange for $400,000 accepted an applicant as a recruit for the Yale women's team, despite knowing that the applicant did not even play competitive soccer. The student was in fact admitted and afterward, the student's family paid Singer $1.2 million.

KAYE: Singer, the man he mentions, is William "Rick" Singer. Not only did he allegedly stage those photos, but he also is accused of arranging for others to take online high school classes in place of the real students so those higher grades could be submitted instead.

The money paid by wealthy parents was listed as contributions to his sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation.

LELLING: Singer's clients paid him anywhere between $100,000 and $6.5 million.

KAYE: One of the 33 parents named in the indictment, actress Felicity Huffman, best known for her role on "Desperate Housewives."

FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS: I forgot the keys to Mr. Tom's castle. Could you let me in, por favor?

KAYE: According to the criminal complaint, Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, are accused of making a charitable contribution of $15,000 to the fake charity. Huffman is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud after allegedly paying Singer's organization.

In a recorded phone call, evidence in the investigation, she's heard saying: We're going to do like we did with my older daughter. Singer responds, OK. So, we'll take it with her and for her at Igor's place at the West Hollywood Test Center. Along with Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin who played Aunt Becky on "Full House" is also charged.

LORI LOUGHLIN, ACTRESS: I have a confession.

KAYE (on camera): Court documents say Loughlin and her husband Massimo Giannulli allegedly agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, despite the fact that neither daughter ever participated in the sport of rowing.

(voice-over): And according to one of the daughter's own YouTube posts, she didn't care much for school either.

OLIVIA JADE, LORI LOUGHLIN'S DAUGHTER: But I do want the experience of like game days and partying. I don't really care about school, as you guys all know.

KAYE: Their parents have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Worth noting, this was Loughlin on the "Today" show back in 2017, playing proud mom as he talked about sending her daughter off to college.

LOUGHLIN: I think I'm in complete denial, I really am, because when I think about it too much, it will make me cry. KAYE: Authorities seized the fake charity account. Court documents

show it had more than $5 million in it. Schools named in the complaint include USC, UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown, University of Texas at Austin, Yale University and others in Boston.

Late today, the man behind the college scheme admitting in court I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: So that's the backdrop because it's a confusing case. We want to go center stage and the actors on it. Literally for that, let's go to CNN's Nick Watt outside the federal courthouse in Los Angeles.

So, explain what's happening in court right now.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, 13 of the people caught up in this case are going to appear or have appeared already here in this courthouse in Los Angeles. They are parents, they are one administrator we believe, a few coaches, one exam proctor.

Now, Felicity Huffman was the top name on that list. She appeared here. She was wearing glasses, a ponytail, a dark sweater. She looked somber. She spoke only to confirm her name and confirm that she understands the charges against her.

Now, the state, the government was asking for a high bond. They said the reason for that was like, look, we have got transcripts of phone calls on which she is talking about, in their words, bribery and she is being dishonest, so they asked for a high bond. In the end the bond was set at $250,000. The court said that she has $20 million in property assets plus another $4 million so she can afford it.

Her husband, William H. Macy was also in the courtroom. Now, he is not specifically named in the charges against his wife. But in those charges it does say that this cooperating witness met with Felicity Huffman and her spouse at their Los Angeles home to talk about this deal.

Now, as you just heard in Randi's package there, they allegedly paid $15,000 to get a fake test for their first daughter and then they were involved in negotiations as well about their second daughter, but ultimately decided against it. According to the court papers, Felicity Huffman was a little bit worried that her daughter's tutor might see that her daughter had improved massively and might get suspicious, so apparently that was perhaps a contributing factor in them not doing this for their second daughter -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, you were saying that they allegedly paying $15,000. Lori Loughlin and her husband allegedly paid a lot more. She's not appeared yet, is that right?

WATT: Yes. No. So she, we believe, was in Vancouver shooting when there was a knock on her door here in Los Angeles this morning. Her husband was arrested this morning. She got on a plane, flew back to Los Angeles and is going to turn herself in. It's unclear when she will actually appear in court.

But you're right. Listen, they allegedly paid half a million dollars in bribes through this guy Singer. Some of that money went to an athletic director at USC.

A couple of little interesting tidbits on that. Her husband apparently sent in photos of his daughters on rowing machines to try and bolster the case that they were rowers. They were admitted to USC, the idea was they would be admitted as coxswains in the crew program although they had never been involved in any crew endeavors prior to that.


So, he appeared in court and he was released on a million dollar secure bond, so that means that they put up a property for that bond. He's also surrendered his passport as Felicity Huffman. He's not allowed to leave the country.

Now, it appears that Loughlin, she might be allowed to continue traveling up to Canada for filming, but Mossimo Giannulli, Loughlin's husband, and Felicity Huffman now due back in court in Boston on March the 29th. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I know at least in one case the -- this young man, the son of one of one these couples, allegedly did not know what his parents were up to. They claimed that they got that photograph of a pole vault and when he actually -- claiming that he was a varsity track star.

When he actually got to college and some advisor asked him about that, they said, "Oh, you're, you know, you're on track." The guy said, "No, I don't." So it seems like at least that child did not know what his parents were doing. Is it clear with most of the kids, did some of them know? Did some of them not know?

WATT: Well, no kids have been charged so far. One kid at least we know definitely did know because we were told by the U.S. attorney today that that girl was actually on a conference call with her parent and these alleged scam artists figuring out how they were going to do it.

Now, there was one other case that was heard here today which speaks to this point. A woman by the name of Elizabeth Buckingham, who is a CEO of a boutique marketing company here in Los Angeles, she arranged for somebody else to take an ACT test for her son. That person took the test, allegedly in a Houston hotel room and absolutely aced it, but she didn't want her son to know that this was a scam.

So, she asked the scammers to also e-mail her a dummy fake ACT test so that her son could take that test at home and he would be none the wiser. He would think that the great score was his. But, Anderson, listen, the other thing that authorities are keen to point out here is they say this is an ongoing investigation and there will likely be more arrests.

Now, Singer, the guy who allegedly mastermind this whole thing in court -- in a transcripts of phone calls he made to parents, he was boasting of getting over 700 kids into elite colleges by these means. Anderson?

COOPER: Wow. It went on for a long time, for years. Nick Watt, appreciate it.

Joining us now is CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Anne Milgram. Anne, I'm wondering what you make of this scam. I mean, I've never heard anything like it before, but I think you have experience with something like this.

ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I've done a lot of political corruption and other types of corruption cases and I've done investigations and prosecutions into universities accused of wrongdoing, one in New Jersey in particular. But what is stunning about this, Anderson, is the scope and scale of this. This is a massive investigation and prosecution. 50 people, all different schemes.

I mean, we just heard some of them detailed, but it wasn't a one size fits all scheme where, you know, certain number of people went through. They had different ways that they operated and engaged in fraud and deceit in order to do this for different kids. And it's really -- to me it's extraordinary in how massive it is and how many pieces it really touched upon.

COOPER: And also just how -- I mean, I think it started, I think, in 2011. The fact that -- I mean, any conspiracy or fraud that involves, you know, 50 people, you know, allegedly committing crimes in this but, you know, how did this guy, Singer, know what coach to approach and that that coach would not immediately say, "What are you talking about? You're trying to bribe me. I'm going to go to the authorities." Clearly, you know, it was able to go on for years without anybody going to the authorities.

MILGRAM: Yes. I mean to your point, its multiple schools over a long period of time. And you're right, I mean, how did they find these ins with the sailing coach, with the crew coaches, with the people who are in charge of soccer, I mean, it is vast.

And so, you have to ask whether -- you know, whether there was a network of people who were referring one another or whether it's the kind of situation where Singer was just going and trying different people and saying, "Hey, would you consider like -- would you consider helping this out? I would be willing to make a contribution." Not immediately saying on his face, "I'm going to give you a bribe."

But, you know, in criminal cases you often see that people sort of test the waters. But you're right, the scope of this and the number of people who were actually involved in committing this type of fraud, it really is, I think in my experience unprecedented.

COOPER: Anne Milgram, appreciate it. Thank you very much. MILGRAM: Thank you.

COOPER: We'll obviously continue to cover that because it seems like there's going to be a lot more shoes to drop in that.

A lot more to talk about tonight, Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson is portraying himself as a victim after more audio tapes surface of remarks he made on a radio show not just once, but many times about starting some 10 years ago. We have details on that just ahead.


[20:37:36] COOPER: Well, Fox News is under fire tonight over new audio released of one of their anchors, Tucker Carlson, making antigay, misogynistic, racist, and sexist remarks. The audios from radio interviews during a six-year period beginning back in 2006 with a shock jock who calls himself Bubba the Love Sponge. Here's one release last night where Carlson is talking about Iraq back in 2008.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semi-literate monkeys.

BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE: Yes. Keep bearing (ph).

How could you salvage Iraq at this point?

CARLSON: I don't -- you know, it's beyond our control. I mean, if somehow the Iraqis decided to behave like being human beings or something.


COOPER: Here's Carlson and the host using antigay slurs in 2006.


BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE: MSNBC's very own Tucker Carlson. Tuck, do you like coming on with us? Because I like you. I mean, I'm not trying to (INAUDIBLE) out on you or nothing, but I like you.

CARLSON: Well, I like you too. And I mean that. You always say, "I mean that in a non-(INAUDIBLE) way," but I actually mean it in a completely (INAUDIBLE) way.


COOPER: And there was this conversation about Martha Stewart's daughter, also in 2006. We blanked out the vilest words.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexis Stewart, we run into her all the time.

CARLSON: She seems like a -- she seems awful. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she is awful.


CARLSON: She seems extremely (INAUDIBLE)


COOPER: Today, Carlson hasn't apologized, neither has Fox. CNN's Brian Stelter says last night's program carried fewer ads than usual and he says big advertisers seem to be avoiding the show.

Carlson says the liberal organization media matters, which released the audio tapes has been working hard to kill, in his word, his show since it launched in 2016. With all of that, I want to bring in legendary ABC News Correspondent Sam Donaldson.

Sam, I'm wondering what you make of this. You know, when I first heard about it, I thought, wait, are these comments he made when he was, you know, a kid, when he was in high school, a teenager, in college, on some stupid radio show? You know, this was starting in 2006, I guess over a 10-year period on a shock jock show.

Should the fact that he was talking to, you know, Bubba the Love Sponge on a shock radio show, should that be taken into account when thinking about the remarks he made?

SAM DONALDSON, FORMER ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: No, why? Because it was a radio show or it was several years ago? How many guys now are taking the fall and properly so for having put their arms on the women several years ago. No one is saying, "Oh, that was in the past." This is in the past only to the extent that the guys that probably take the fall did it.

[20:40:03] But Tucker Carlson is going to go on for two reasons. I think he appeals to the Fox audience. He's coming on strong. The king of cable, 3.3 million people a night is Sean Hannity, right behind him comes Tucker Carlson with about 2.9 million.

Do you think Fox is going to say, "Well, you've been a bad boy, we're going to have to let you go or we're going to have to reprimand you." I think his audience is there and they want the audience.

And if the advertisers do stick with him, well, of course if they leave him, then he's toast. Fox will suddenly discover that what he did was beyond the pale and let him go, but not now.

COOPER: It's interesting, I guess, he was on MSNBC when he started appearing on this radio show. So it's interesting that they, you know, seemed to be fine with it at the time. I want to play some of what Tucker Carlson had to say about this last night.


CARLSON: The great American outrage machine is a remarkable thing. One day you're having dinner with your family imagining everything is fine. The next, your phone is exploding with calls from reporters. It's a bewildering moment, especially when the quotes in question are more than a decade old. There's really not that much you can do to respond. It's pointless to try to explain how the words were spoken in jest or taken out of context or in any case bear no resemblance to what you actually think.


COOPER: So, I mean, he's not backing down or apologizing and he says, "Look, again, this was on a shock jock radio show, they were spoken in jest or taken out of context."

DONALDSON: Well, I hate to repeat myself, but can you think of Matt Lauer or any of the other people, Charlie Rose saying, "Well, wait a moment, it was just in jest. It was in fun. I mean, this was something that wasn't that important, was it?" Yes, it was important. It happened long ago but, yes, it's still important. Your character is important.

And that's what's happening today is a revolution when it comes to the way men treat women. Well, you say but this is not that. No, this is vulgarity. This is hate speech. This is homophobic speech. This is the kind of speech that if left unchecked, it will change this country forever. It's just as bad and it should be punished in the way that the men were punished for what they did. But as I say, I don't foresee it happening.

COOPER: It is interesting that we're in a time where it seem -- where at least among some people the idea of just -- of, you know, actually a heartfelt apology saying obviously those words don't represent the way I feel or whatever and saying, you know, I'm sorry, that's something that in some quarters is just not -- I guess not considered because it's a sign -- it's viewed as a sign of weakness by some. And I guess there are audiences which back that up.

DONALDSON: Well, Tucker says, as you just played, he says that he's the victim. I'm the victim, the great outrage machine. Tell it to the women. I'm the victim. They're coming at me. Yes, they are. Some people are at least because this is unacceptable.

Now, these people we're talking about are not news people. They don't pretend to be. They are opinion makers and they pretend nothing about I know how to do a story straight, I know how to do a story without twisting it because that's their business.

I mean, if in Fox & Friends talks to the President every morning, and we know from some good reporting that occasionally he listens to what they say, well, that's a good idea, just make it official policy. Great

Sean Hannity has said they talk to the President perhaps almost daily and the two of them cook over how do we do this? Then Sean Hannity, of course, and Tucker Carlson in their view, President Trump never does anything wrong, never makes a mistake, it's always right. His critics are always mean and maybe even un-American. And the Fox audience loves it. But I think there's good news. I say 3.3 million, 2.9 million, the ABC Evening News has 8 million people a night. Now, it's not opinion, I understand, it's straight news. But there are people who listen and want the facts rather than just want to be reinforced in, forgive me, their ignorance.

COOPER: Sam Donaldson, it's great to have you on the program as always. Thank you, Sam. And by the way, happy birthday, which I know was yesterday.

DONALDSON: Listen, 85 and I'm still alive. There's nothing more to say.

COOPER: You look great. Sam, thank you so much, always a pleasure. Thank you.

Coming up, a new book details life inside the White House for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. It's not flattering to say the least how the two developed a taste for flying on Air Force planes whenever they could according to this reporter and why President Trump wanted to send them back to New York. Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times" has read the book, she joins us next.


[20:48:25] COOPER: It's no secret someone can be on the President's good side one day in his -- on his political hit list the next and that according to a new book includes his daughter and son-in-law. The book is called "Kushner, Inc." and it comes out next week.

"The New York Times" reports the book says the President wanted Jared and Ivanka Trump out -- or Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump out and has blamed them for some of the news covers that he gets.

"New York Times" White House Correspondent Maggie -- and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman shares the byline on the story. She's read the book. She joins us on the phone.

Maggie, many of the details in this book certainly seem to be in line with what you've reported before in terms of the President's mixed feelings about his daughter and son-in-law work in the White House.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on the phone): Anderson, that's right. You know, we reported many, many months ago that John Kelly, who was then the chief of staff, was asked by the President to try to somehow expedite the move of his adult children, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, back to New York City where they were from.

The President denied this to both of them, according to our reporting after we reported it, and people close to them told us that, no, that could not be true, what we were reporting was wrong. It wasn't wrong then. It's clearly just based on the reporting of Vicky Ward book, not wrong.

Now, in hindsight, it highlights again the complication I think for the President of having family members serving in official positions there.

COOPER: And what is it that he -- why did he want them back in New York? Was it to protect them? Was it just he didn't like having them there? Do we know?

HABERMAN: I think it was some combinations therein and possibly some factors that we're not aware of. But certainly I think that he considered it to be, you know, complicating for him.

[20:50:09] They wanted priorities that were not necessarily shared by him. There were issues around Jared Kushner's (INAUDIBLE). He was the focus of negative news stories and the President never licensing (ph) other people accrue negative news coverage that splashes on him and I think it was just all of the above.

COOPER: The book also alleges that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have tried to skirt protocol and bend the rules using government resources to their advantage. How -- in what way does, according to this book, did that happen?

HABERMAN: So the book describes, in particular, trying to get themselves on certain government planes. We talked about that in the story. To be clear, that is a piece that we do not have our own reporting on and the people within the White House have insisted is not true, that it does not fit with anything that actually takes place in terms of protocol. You know, it's hard to assess whether that's real or not, but certainly other pieces of the book comport with our own reporting.

COOPER: I mean, you would think that people would be thankful to have jobs in the White House, especially given a lack of experience for those jobs.

HABERMAN: I mean, look, I think that it has clearly been an adjustment and a struggle in a lot of ways for both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump as they have tried to understand both White House and government service, but I think that, you know, even if you put this, the planes and whether that's true and that question aside, we have seen several instances where the fact what the government service is about, public service, that has not always seemed to resonate with how they have handled the roles.

And when you are in public service, you are under scrutiny and you are going to get questions and you're going to get asked to justify expenses, and you're going to get asked to explain, you know, how you do certain things and I think that that is something that they have really struggled with.

COOPER: There are also details, I understand, about a conversation between Ivanka Trump and the White House -- top White House economic adviser at the time, Gary Cohn, in the wake of the Charlottesville attacks. Can you just tell us what the book is saying?

HABERMAN: Sure. I mean, that was actually -- I saw a bit of reporting in the book that was pretty revealing, which was basically -- and it was a piece that we had not heard before, which was how Ivanka Trump handled the aftermath of her father's comments at that press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower right after the Charlottesville protests, where he described very fine people on both sides of what was a racial protest.

She defended her father to Gary Cohn, which I think people understand she's somebody defending her father, but she said essentially that, you know, he didn't say what people said that he had said. And I thought that that was significant to note.

COOPER: Maggie Haberman, thank you as always. Appreciate it.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: The book, again, is called "Kushner, Inc." and it's by Investigative Reporter Vicky Ward.

I want to check in with Chris, see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You must know Vicky?

COOPER: I don't think I do.

CUOMO: From work you must have. When you see her and hear her, you're going to be like, "Oh, yes, I met her." I mean, she's --

COOPER: She's at "Vanity Fair" I know.

CUOMO: Yes. She's been a fixture in New York for a long time. I've known her very long time. This book is going to be waves of coverage. It is going to be something that the media will fixate on initially. The President is going to have very limited appetite for it, not because it's unsubstantiated, but because it is substantiated.

Then you're going to have second and third-wave interest because of the depth of the analysis of how intensely personal it's going to be. So you are right to seize upon it. I think that this is going to be a chapter, not that it means anything existential. But once again, this is going to be a character portrait that I think many people have not been aware of.

So, tonight, we're taking a look at where we're headed with Mueller. Everybody is arming themselves. We see a political fight on the horizon. One of the President's main warriors is congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz.

Now, he got sideways in terms of fighting fair with Michael Cohen with that tweet that he put out. He is back here tonight. I haven't spoken to him since that happened. What he sees coming and what he thinks it's going to mean politically, ultimately, we're going to talk about that.

And then I'm diving deep into this school thing. We both went to Yale. We know that money can matter when it comes to getting into elite institutions. I've never seen anything like this. And my biggest concern, though -- COOPER: It's incredible.

CUOMO: -- is I can't believe this guy is the only one. This guy came from like managing call centers and marketing before he found his way into this business. It wasn't that sophisticated a plot. How many others are there like it? We don't police this stuff and we have to.

COOPER: Yes. Well, it's a bizarre story, I'm glad you're covering it. Chris, I'll see you in about six minutes from now.

Next, breaking news in the Boeing airliner that much of the rest of the world is grounding after two deadly crashes, U.S. authorities right now, federal authorities are not. We'll have details on that.


[20:58:10] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. The FAA says there are no, "systemic performance issues" with Boeing 738 Max 8 planes so there's no basis for grounding them in the United States. Now, that is in contrast to what authorities across much of the world have to say.

Tom Foreman tonight joins us with more. So, Tom, is the U.S. alone in defending this plane right now? If so -- I mean, if so many countries think it's unsafe, what are federal officials, why do they disagree here in the U.S.?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's getting to be that way, Anderson. We had sort of a land rush today. The U.K, the European Union, Australia, a whole bunch of places all said they won't fly this plane. U.S. and Canada, the only countries left that have significant numbers who are still flying them.

Their defense of this is to simply say, "Look, the FAA, Boeing and this airline say we don't have the proof yet." Yes, there was a wreck in one o the planes last fall, this wreck kind of looks like it. Maybe it's the same issue, but they don't have any proof. They believe in the airplane and they say they're going to keep flying it in the meantime, Anderson.

COOPER: I guess that, you know, the bottom line is that people want to know, you know, should they fly this plane, are passengers being put at risk?

FOREMAN: Statistically, you're not so much being put at risk because there are only a few dozen of these planes compared to tens of thousands of flights every day. You'd have trouble finding out. Yes, somebody's flying on them but not that many people. You're not going to stumble into it.

The bottom line, though, is some members of Congress think why take even that risk, why not do something about it? And as you know, all this worldwide pressure, Anderson, in aviation and in politics, you look which way the wind blows. And right now it's blowing toward something being done here.

COOPER: And each of these airlines who fly in the United States could make the decision on their own to not fly.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. This is not just up to the FAA, they could order it. But either one of these airlines, major ones out here could just say, "We're just not going to do this anymore. We don't think it's safe." And, again, there are so few of these planes. Comparatively, it would not have a gigantic impact on the ability to move passengers around.

Again, we have tens of thousands of flights. There are only a few dozen of these planes that's why proponents are saying, "Quick fighting for these things.

[21:00:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just go ahead and park them until we know something else.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: All right, interesting. Tom Foreman, appreciate it. Thanks.

News continues. Want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?