Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Republican Controlled Senate Rebukes President Trump; Beto Joins Crowded Democratic Presidential Primary Race. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired March 14, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight keeping them honest, with a first for President Trump and a first for members of his own party in Congress, his first veto after their first time telling him no on the signature issue of his presidency.
He spelled it out in a one-word tweet late today. He'll do the actual deed tomorrow there you see the tweet, veto. He said he'll do it tomorrow, blocking legislation to overturn the national emergency he declared to get funding for his border wall, money that Congress refused to give him.
And when the Senate votes were tallied this afternoon, a dozen Republican you can see them up on your screen, had broken with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Declaring a national emergency to access different funds sets a dangerous new precedent. It opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want. Each one of us in this body has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
So, today, I will vote to support the disapproval resolution that is before us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Portman and 11 other Republicans decided to draw the line -- not enough to override a veto, it's important to point out, and not necessarily because of policy differences over the border. Rand Paul saying he opposed giving the president extra constitutional powers. For Senator Portman, as you heard, it was concern about what future presidents might do, not what this one has done. Others such as Alaska's Lisa Murkowski worried about military construction was earmarked for their state being used for construction of the wall.
All that said, the both certainly or perhaps incidentally is the biggest setback this president has been dealt by his own party. It's set limits for him, because keeping them honest, until now, he hasn't been exactly mindful about staying in particular lines in pursuit of the wall. Most Republicans until this point have not exactly been eager to call him on it. He has, in this latest instance, clashed with Congress over the sole power of the purse which the Constitution clearly states Article I, Section 9, no money shall will be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.
Now, most Republicans weren't exactly concerned than. But that's only the latest in a long series of examples of the president crossing lines without facing political consequences in a way that trades directly to tonight, whether it's basis for calling the border problem an emergency or his often repeated and pretty much ignored promises about funding for the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promise, we will build the wall. And who's going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: Who's going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: It will be a great wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
Mexico will pay for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that was the promise, of course. Then cost savings from a new as yet unimplemented North American Trade Agreement, that was going pay for it. Then he want you'd to pay for it. That didn't work and there was a shutdown to show for it.
But he tried to dodge responsibility for it, even though he is on tape promising to take the blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I'll tell you what. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country.
So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you 40. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down. And I'm going to shut it down for border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He would take the mantle. Turns out the mantle was heavy, kind of uncomfortable, and he didn't end up taking it, at least not for very long.
The shutdown certainly hurt a lot of people, some of whom we met on this program. In the middle of it all, the president promised how easily he himself could end the impasse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he ended up walking out of that meeting, although few Republicans ended up voicing concerns about the shutdown. Some even spoke out about the need for the kind of wall the public wants. The GOP-controlled Senate did not do what it did today, there was no rebuke of the president just as there was no real rebuke when he began redefining the word "emergency" to suit his needs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, what's your current thinking on a national emergency? Why didn't you announce it last night?
TRUMP: Because I think we might work a deal. And if we don't, I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want.
REPORTER: What's your threshold you might make that --
TRUMP: My threshold will be if I can't make a deal with people that are unreasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, whether or not you can make a deal doesn't cute an emergency. Then again, why quibble about what words actually mean when you can actually redefine reality itself which the president repeatedly does without much pushback from his party. He has described without evidence, the very real problem of Central American migrants coming here for asylum as an invasion, infiltrated he says by terrorists and funded he says, or suggests I should say by George Soros.
[20:05:04] He and his top officials have lied repeatedly about the policy of separating children from their parents. I mean, that's been outright lies, despite evidence to the contrary, some of it on video from some of those same officials. He has even on numerous occasions and as early as today tried to suggest pieces of his wall are already being built.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're building a lot of wall. There is a lot of wall going up. I don't know if you see it. I don't know if you want to see it. But
we're building a lot of wall, and there is a lot of contracts being let out actually over tomorrow and the next week for additional many, many miles of wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, we and others keep checking that claim. It continues to be false, although some new work is expected to get under way some time later this month in Texas. For now, it's only repair and renovation, as we have pointed out time and time again, and have others.
But the president, as you know, has been making that false claim for months, including today. Even after seemingly admitted it's false, as he did just last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And we have renovated a tremendous amount of wall, making it just as good as new. That's where a lot of the money has been spent on renovation. In fact, we're restricted to renovating, which is OK. But we're going run out of areas that we can renovate pretty soon. So -- and we need new wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So he is admitting there they've just been renovating existing wall. Now, he's gone back to saying that they've been building new wall.
This kind of serial dishonesty, on that and virtually, well, at least many other aspects of the president's signature issue hasn't generated much pushback within the president's own party. Finally, they did to a very limited extent today and we'll talk tonight about how significant that may be.
Let's start it off with Jim Acosta who is at the White House.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a one-word tweet from the president before today. Just that word "veto".
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Part of this game we've been playing here in Washington, follow the bouncing wall for President Trump. He did put out another tweet later on in the evening, Anderson, saying that he values the strong Republicans who stood with him.
You know, Anderson, despite the fact you mentioned this a few moments ago that they don't have the number of votes need to override his veto, which is expected to come as soon as tomorrow. They were doing a lot of arm twisting here at the White House, trying to rein in these wayward Republicans, and they were able to get Thom Tillis, the senator from North Carolina to do a major back flip on all of this. But, Anderson, what I thought was striking, and you touched on this,
was despite their efforts to do some arm-twisting, you had 12 Republicans, nearly all of them basically saying that what the president was trying to do was circumvent the Constitution, that he was essentially trying to violate the constitution, and that is something that a lot of Trump critics have been saying he is doing ever since he came into office.
So, I thought it was pretty striking to see the Republicans, who have been very, very loyal to this president, and they prize loyalty at the White House, challenging him on that front.
COOPER: I understand there was a last-minute trip to the White House last night. What do we know about that?
ACOSTA: That's right. Lindsey Graham came over here, a major Trump ally up on Capitol Hill, the senator from South Carolina, along with Ben Sasse and Ted Cruz. They were trying to talk the president into accepting some kind of compromise by barging in to a Trump family dinner over here at the White House. But something to address these constitutional concerns coming from some of these Republicans like Mitt Romney, who is up on Capitol Hill today saying that essentially he felt it was his duty to try to protect the Constitution.
Again, this is the kind of language we're seeing coming out of Republicans that a lot of Trump critics have been waiting for a very long time.
COOPER: And the president is expected to veto this in front of the cameras, is that right? And we know --
ACOSTA: That's right. Yes. We think that could happen. I talked to a senior administration official earlier today who said that aides behind the scenes are starting to hash out plans for the president to do this in front of the cameras as soon as tomorrow.
He wants to make this a public spectacle, vetoing this resolution. And according to this official, it would be unusual for the president not to do that. And I talked to a GOP source close to the White House who said listen, whether the wall goes up or doesn't go up, this remains a potent issue for energizing the president's base.
So, of course, he wants to veto this in front of the cameras -- again, as we said, as soon as tomorrow, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Perspective now from former Trump campaign strategist David Urban, also CNN political analyst and "USA Today" columnist, Kirsten Powers, and former Utah Republican Congresswoman Mia Love. Mia and David are CNN political commentators.
So, Mia, the president characterized this vote as not only a loyalty test but also as a vote about border security and crime. Is that what this vote was about, in your opinion? MIA LOVE (R), FORMER UTAH CONGRESSWOMAN: I can tell you, especially
for Republicans, this was about -- this wasn't about border. It was whether they had a loyalty to the Constitution of the United States and the platforms that they run on or if this is going to be about loyalty to the president.
There is an old saying in law, what was meant to be used as a shield shall not be used as a sword. And the Constitution is there to protect the American people. And what the -- what Republicans had to make a choice about was whether they were going to support and preserve the Constitution, which when you are sworn in.
[20:10:01] That's exactly what you do. You hold your hand up and swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, this was -- this was for the president probably about loyalty to him, but at that point, when you fail to actually secure the border through Congress, you cannot allow the president or consolidate too much power to the president, because you will not have a leg to stand on if another president comes in and does the exact same thing, especially when we're going to see this debate I promise you on Second Amendment rights.
COOPER: David, I mean, in your opinion, is there any other way to characterize the vote as either a projection of President Trump's, you know, signature campaign promise for Democrats or on concerns about presidential abuse of power in the Constitution?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it's a little bit of both, Anderson, right? So there are -- I think most of the votes in the Republican Party today were cast because of the continual erosion of congressional power, the abrogation of authority by a coequal branch of government. And I think that they were rightfully concerned as former Congressman Love points out that there could be a President Beto or a president somebody down the road who doesn't like the Second Amendment, who doesn't like single payer and says I want to do this.
You heard that repeatedly today in the lead up to this. So, a lot of this was a rebuke for the methodology more so than the actual underlying policy. I think the Republican Party's unified on wanting a secure border, a secure southern border and defending the rule of law. That's what this is about ultimately.
COOPER: So, David, do you see today as a loss for the president, as a blow to the president?
URBAN: Look, obviously, you know, it is a loss for the president. Right, if the president has to veto something that's done by the Congress, it's by definition a loss. I don't -- in one hand a loss, and in one hand a victory. The president preserves the fight, which as you pointed out and Jim Acosta pointed out, the president is going to sign this veto tomorrow some place in front of the cameras to remind the American people, to remind those folks who do care about this issue that he is not giving up, that he believes in the rule of law. Listen, the president is a firm believer in immigration. He just
wants legal immigration. He believes that the border needs to be repaired, there are large gaps that folks flow across. Listen, it's not the only thing that needs to be done, but a wall is part of the solution that needs to be done. And that president has every right to have that done.
COOPER: Kirsten, it's interesting, though, because the president, when he was running, did talk a lot about how much he loved the Constitution and would follow the Constitution. He focused often on the Second Amendment mostly, but he did kind of present himself as a constitutionalist. It certainly -- the Republicans who are voting against granting him this power certainly would differ certainly on this issue.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, honestly, I think that more people would have voted against him if they weren't fearful of a reelection coming up for them. And I think that that's all you can really take away from this. If you look at the people who defected, the only one that's really up for reelection is Susan Collins, and she is somebody who is notoriously independent and has been able to have this career as a Republican in Maine because of the relationship she has with the voters. And so, she is able to act a little bit more independently.
But I think what this really came down to is anybody who was afraid of the president coming after them facing reelection fell in line, even people who I think would otherwise possibly not. And you look Thom Tillis, for example, who is up for reelection, who completely reversed his position from saying in a "Washington Post" op-ed, you know, how terrible this and unconstitutional this is to now saying that he supported it because the president's going to make some changes to the National Emergencies Act, which, you know, I'm sorry, highly unlikely.
In fact, Mike Lee reached out to him, Senator Mike Lee reached out to him and tried to get him to commit to making those changes, and the president would not make those changes, and that's why Mike Lee voted against it.
I think this is mostly about people who are afraid of the president coming after them in their races.
COOPER: Mia, I think Kirsten raises a really interesting point. You know, Bob Woodward in his book said that President Trump says real power is fear.
COOPER: Do you see this as fear of, you know, the president getting angry at Republicans if they -- clearly for the president, he sees this as a loyalty test.
LOVE: I see this as if you are fearful of the president, you shouldn't be sitting as a member of Congress. You have a job, and your job is to do everything you can to be a representative of the people who have elected you there. And also, I believe as Republicans, we have to make sure that we're
holding the person accountable to the principles and the platform of the party. It's not just follow the president at all costs. It's one of the things that I think will end up hurting the Republican Party is if they do not hold the president accountable to the principles that they believe in.
Here is the thing. It doesn't matter who you are.
[20:15:02] People will let you down. Those principles do not let you down. The Constitution is there to protect people.
And I think that this was a clear mark in the sand for Republicans to say I'm on the side of the platform and the Constitution rather than being on the side of protecting and defending the president at all costs.
COOPER: But, David, I'm sure -- go ahead.
URBAN: I was going say, I might add. You ask if these folks, these members that voted against it fear the president. I think what they're realizing is they fear their constituents, right?
The president doesn't have the unilateral authority to dismiss them from their jobs, but the voters do. And I think they're listening to their constituents when they decided how they were going to vote today.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, Kirsten, you would think that the argument if Republicans voted to give the president this power, if there is a Democratic president who wants a national emergency for climate change, you know, they clearly would not want to go along with that. And yet these days, the argument that, well, you've flip-flop and it's hypocritical that you gave the Republican president this power. You're not going give a Democratic president. That doesn't seem to really matter anymore.
COOPER: Like, you know, people can flip-flop over years and no one really seems to care.
POWERS: Yes, I do think people are getting a little too used to it and maybe accepting it. So I think that the other big problem here obviously is that there is no actual national emergency, and it's sort of strange that we've gotten away from that as a conversation.
You know, that he went to El Paso to prove his point and in fact El Paso, when the wall went up, the crime went up. So, it's the actual opposite of what the president claims that he has this need to do this with this national emergency. It's the opposite of what he says exists. And in fact building the wall isn't going to address really any of the things that he's bringing up, the issues that he wants to address, that I think everyone wants to address, frankly.
I mean, people want to address drugs coming into the country. Everyone is united on that.
COOPER: Kirsten Powers, appreciate it. Mia Love, appreciate it as well.
David, if you would, stick around, because I want to talk later about something the president recently said and generating debate over whether it amounts to him trying to incite violence or suggesting violence.
Coming up next, the latest Democrat to jump into the presidential race and the only one we know so far to jump on to a bar. We'll take a closer look at who Beto O'Rourke and what it is his stances actually are. Something a lot of people, maybe they know his name but don't know what his stances are.
Plus, breaking news in one of the central figures in the university admissions case. Lori Loughlin, she is facing new consequences even before his next day in court. That's ahead tonight.
[20:21:52] COOPER: I'm just born to be in it. That's what Beto O'Rourke told "Vanity Fair" as part of his rollout for announcing his run for president. He made the announcement this morning via social media, and then proceed to campaign in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This setting right now, the very first event of our campaign for president is an example of not only the way that I wish to campaign across this country for every single American, and I could care less your party persuasion, your religion, anything other than the fact that right now, we are all Americans and we are all human beings and we do everything within our power for one another, for this great country, and for every generation that follows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: O'Rourke, as you may remember, gained nationwide attention when he ran against Texan Republican Senator Ted Cruz in last year's midterms. I mean, in the midterms, he lost the race. He said definitely he was not going to run in 2020. He is clearly doing that just right now.
There are now 13 announced candidates seeking Democratic nomination.
Joe Hagan wrote the "Vanity Fair" piece that I referenced earlier and spent months with O'Rourke in the lead-up today.
Joe Hagan joins me now. Do you think he has a real shot at the nomination?
JOE HAGAN, WRITER, VANITY FAIR: I do. I think he's got something that some of the other candidates might not have, which is a kind of built-in name recognition and a kind of star power, you know, that came from his race against Cruz. And so whether he can kind of exploit that energy and continue it and prove that there is some content that goes along with that compelling personality that he has. He's got incredible talent.
COOPER: It does seem like he -- for many people, they know the name, but it's kind of a blank slate. Maybe it's like you can project your own ideas on who he actually is. If you go to his campaign website, there is a lot of stuff for sale, I noticed, t-shirts, a tote bag. There is really not anything there on policy positions. Do his policy positions --
HAGAN: Well, I trust him on a few of them. And I would say he has opinions about things, but he doesn't -- you know, the more you press him on them, the fuzzier it gets. The question is whether he'll develop those as he goes along.
You know, climate change, obviously, he is very energized about that. He talked about this morning in Iowa. He talked about it with me as well. He's in spirit, he advocates for the New Green Deal.
But, you know, if you ask about specifics, he might say I like it. We'll see. There is some fuzziness there for sure.
The question is once he's pressed by other Democrats and he gets into the ring so to speak, he is going to be forced to pin down. And so, where he gets pinned down and what that looks like at the end of the day is kind of up in the air. It's a question.
COOPER: Right. He was able to raise so much money when he was running against Ted Cruz. It's also going to be interesting to see how he goes about raising money now, and whether there is that same kind of response. I mean, there was a lot of money from all over the country.
COOPER: And, you know, Democrats saw a chance there.
HAGAN: Yes, just today I saw moments ago that he's got a video where he is filling up his gas tank, and the amount of money he -- the amount that he is asking for, helping him get another $28 to fill up the van.
[20:25:03] So, he is using some of the kind of tactics that he used in his race. He is showing himself on video. He is doing the whole thing.
You know, my thing, I think that he has something of you talk about the products you can buy or whatever. There is a little bit of a cult of personality there. Remember, Trump had the hats. I think that he is cannily using some of the same tactics and ideas that has a similar feel to Trump, but on a completely opposite side, and he is much more sincere and kind of wholesome in some way.
COOPER: You asked anymore he is a progressive. What did he say?
HAGAN: Well, he said he doesn't like labels, which is a very Obama thing to say. He wants to rise above it.
I think that what he wants to do politically is sort of thread the needle between the Bernie Sanders grassroots and the Joe Biden centrism. And in a way, but those are the two candidates I think that are most threatened by him, because he could borrow from both of their platforms while being half their age, which is a thing.
COOPER: Joe Hagan, appreciate it. Fascinating.
Also, by the way, Joe wrote a book on Jann Wenner called "Sticky Fingers", was it last year?
COOPER: It was my favorite book of the year. It's a great, great biography. You should read it.
HAGAN: Thanks a lot.
COOPER: Anyway, great to have you.
COOPER: CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod knows a great deal about Democratic presidential primaries. He was a key political and strategic adviser to President Obama. He joins me now.
So, I wonder where you think O'Rourke fits into this race. You heard Joe talking about kind of what he's sort of trying to thread in terms of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, we should acknowledge that two years ago at this time, Beto O'Rourke was something of an unknown, even in his own state of Texas when he began running against Ted Cruz. And he proved himself to be a natural campaigner. Not only did he do well in Texas, but he created a national following for himself, and it wasn't around any particular issue, Anderson, but it was about a tone and a style of campaigning, relentlessly positive.
It was a counterpoint to the kind of acrimony and divisiveness that has become so central to our politics right now. And people really responded to that. And as a result, he raised $80 million in that campaign. He had to get 750,000 donors around the country. All of that is a very solid foundation on which to build a candidacy.
And it's not on the left to right spectrum so much as on the forces of light versus the forces of darkness spectrum. The questions are the ones that Joe raised, which is you know, when you run for president and he is starting off with a pretty high bar because expectations are very high, you have to clear those bars. And when you clear the bar, the bar gets raised.
So he can get away with the answers he's giving now, but he'll be required to do more as time goes on. And every successful candidate for president has to go through that process. He also has to scale up what has been a kind of grassroots campaign to something larger that is suitable for a national campaign. So that's a challenge he has to meet. But he enters this race I think with a great deal of promise.
COOPER: The thing -- O'Rourke is, if you look at his record, a moderate. He's also a white male.
Is that where the Democratic Party is right now? Because he also addressed that right now, because he is a white male, the people he hires he wants to represent the United States in all its diversity.
AXELROD: Listen, I think at the end of the day, people want to be inspired by their candidate. They want to be -- they want belief in their candidate. I don't think they're sitting there with a calculator per se as to where on the spectrum they fit.
Obviously, identity is meaningful, and it is -- the Democratic Party has four or five women running now, a couple African American candidates, an openly gay candidate. This is the most diverse field in history. But at the end of the day, you still need to connect with people. You need to inspire them.
And I think Donald Trump will define the race in many ways because of his style and because of his divisiveness and his acrimony. And so, in that sense, O'Rourke is well-positioned.
COOPER: One of the things that I think the president has a kind of brilliance in is identifying what he sees as a weakness and kind of labeling that person based on that perceived weakness or whatever it may be. We all know kind of the nicknames he gave Republicans and he has given Democrats.
He -- talking about O'Rourke today, he focused on Beto O'Rourke's hand movements, saying he has a lot of hand movement. I've never seen anything like it. Is he crazy or is it just the way he acts?
And then what's fascinating to me is I've never really focused on his hand movements, and then you see the video of him and you end up looking at his hand movements.
Should anyone be surprised that the president is already trying to find ways to mock him or kind of derail him?
COOPER: And by the way, the President also has some odd hand movements. So --
DAVID AXELROD, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Yes, he has some hand issues himself. I would say that it's a measure of how seriously the President and Republicans take O'Rourke that he and others weighed in as aggressively as they did today. They know that, you know, they understand what happened in Texas. You talk to Republicans down there, and they're a little wary of O'Rourke as a presidential candidate. So Republicans would love to strangle this in the crib and not allow him to become the candidate that he -- that they fear he might become. COOPER: David Axelrod, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Quick note, David's guest on this week's edition, "The Axe Files", is Former Republican Presidential Candidate, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush who knows a thing or two about getting a nickname named after him by the President, this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.
Up next, the President says his supporters, police, military and bikers could get tough on his opponents, and, quote, it would be very bad. Talk what he actually meant by that and what the kind of speech amounts to.
COOPER: New question tonight about something the President said, words with violent overtones and some believe a veiled threat of physical violence. Speaking to Breitbart News, he talked about how tough he says the political left is becoming compared to his supporters, and I'm quoting now. The President saying, "It's so terrible what's happening. You know, the left plays a tougher game. It's very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don't play it tougher."
And he continued, "OK. I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the bikers for Trump. I have the tough people but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."
[20:35:03] So now that sounds familiar, there's a good reason. Listen to what President said late last summer at a rally in Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Law enforcement, military, construction worker, bikers for Trump. How about bikers for Trump? They travel all over the country. They've got Trump all over the place, and they're great. They've been great.
But these are tough people. These are great people. But they're peaceful people. And Antifa and all, they better hope they stay that way. I hope they stay that way. I hope they stay that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the question is does he really? Is that what he is really saying? And what are his followers hearing? David Urban is back and joining us is Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart. He just wrote an op-ed for cnn.com titled, "Trump's Thuggish Threat of Violence against His Critics." So, I think I know where you stand up ago.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
COOPER: But I want to read something you wrote in your op-ed. You said, "It's hard to overestimate the damage President Trump has done to our political climate when comments like this go virtually unnoticed. We've all become numb to the lying, bullying and physical threats the President makes almost daily." You have no doubt that was some sort of a physical threat of violence.
LOCKHART: Yes. I mean, I think on one level, it's just kind of gross that the President of the United States speaks like that. But there's a much more serious part of this which is he has undermined institutions purposefully since he's taken office, even when he was running. It's why he attacks the press. It's why he even in 2016 said he wouldn't necessarily accept the result of the election. He said it again in 2018.
These are things that undermine the base. I mean, the most amazing thing about our democracy is we have peacefully transferred power every single time. And what Trump is doing is sort of in cozying up to authoritarian regimes and then saying things like this, he is indicating that, well, maybe I won't, and maybe this isn't the way it will work.
COOPER: David, I'm wondering have you seen those comments. The President saying, you know, I've got the police, I've got the military, I've got bikers, I've got construction workers.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Yes. So, you know, I wish Joe had, you know, read the entire transcript or done a little research totally (ph). Before I came on, I talked to Matt Boyle, the guy who sat down and interviewed the President, talked to him about this, and I read the whole transcript. And if you go back and look what the President is talking about, he is almost giving a hat tip to the Democratic Caucus and the Democratic House and how incredibly tough they are and how vicious they are and how disciplined they are.
He is lamenting the fact that when Republicans controlled the House, his Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, did not allow Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and others to pursue investigations that they wanted to pursue, to issue subpoenas they wanted to issue, and he is saying that look, the left is very tough. They're very vicious at this. And I wish that my speaker, I wish that Paul Ryan was that tough. And that's the context that this was taken in. That's the context this was intended in.
COOPER: Is that the content --
URBAN: No, no, listen, Anderson and Joe. But it wasn't that come 2020 I'm not going to -- I'm going to call for rallies in the streets and people to overthrow the newly elected president if there is one. That's completely out of context, and it's not fair.
COOPER: But in the prior comments, he is talking about Antifa. That has nothing to do with Congress or anything. That's --
URBAN: Sure, sure.
COOPER: -- you know, people protesting, some of them acting thuggishly. And then he's talking --
URBAN: Anderson, not some of the Antifa, all of the Antifa by definition acts thuggishly.
COOPER: So he's talking about --
URBAN: I've not seen a peaceful Antifa protest.
COOPER: He is talking about those action in the streets and he is talking about construction workers, I mean, that doesn't seem to have anything to do with Congress.
URBAN: I don't think he was saying -- I didn't hear him call for action. He said look, these are peaceful people. I hope they stay peaceful. That's what he said in that quote, the direct quote that you just --
COOPER: But saying "I hope you stay peaceful" doesn't necessarily mean I hope you stay -- I mean, why even say that? Like, what's the -- what's the concern that the police or like, you know, the construction workers.
URBAN: Or construction workers or anybody? I guess he is saying you leave a Trump rally and there are Antifa outside or counter protesters outside like there are at many Trump rallies, I hope you remain peaceful.
LOCKHART: I don't think so. I think if you look at the broadest context of what he has talked about from the very beginning when he got into the race, he has talked and tried to -- he has sought to undermine these institutions, tear down the press, tear down. Now he could very easily have said the Democrats are very disciplined and they're very tough.
URBAN: He did. He did, Joe. Read the interview.
LOCKHART: And then he did -- You know what? I did my research. I did read it. And I'm pretty good at reading. So he could have stopped right there, and what he did is he took it further. It was another of these veiled threats that if I don't get my way, things, bad things can happen.
[20:40:01] And, in fact, you know, when you're talking about political discourse, you don't often, you know, refer to the hells angels, you know, and bikers. That had meaning. Words have meaning. And I'll take it even further. Which is the rest of the world watches what happens here in the United States. And when we send a message that, you know, maybe we won't transfer power peacefully, what does that say to, you know, emerging democracies around the world?
URBAN: Joe, that is nowhere in this interview, and that's irresponsible for you to say, that even fan those flames to say that this interview somehow, somehow says the President won't do it. It's irresponsible for you to come on here and intimate that's what the President was saying. If you're responsible, shame on you. LOCKHART: Shame on the President for saying there's three million people --
URBAN: Shame on you, Joe. He didn't say that. He did not say that, Joe. And for you to intimate that falsely is not fair.
LOCKHART: OK. Listen, this is a President who said that three million people voted fraudulently in the last election. He can name --
URBAN: We're not talking about -- we're talking about this interview, Joe.
LOCKHART: And you know what? I'm talking about something broader than this interview. I'm talking about the way this President sees the office of the presidency, and he sees, and we see threats of violence. We saw it in that rally before the midterms. We see this idea that somehow if I don't win, the system is rigged. There's three million people who didn't vote.
Now David, can you tell me any of -- give me the name of one of those three million. One of those three million --
URBAN: I'm here right to talk about -- I'm here right now during this segment to talk about this interview in your article where you say that the President is threatening, did not recognize the 2020 election if it were to go different way. Where is that base? Where did you find that? Into your mind?
COOPER: Let me ask if, David, if President Obama had said, you know, I have the police, I have the military on my side, I have, you know, the --
URBAN: He has construction workers. What are they going to do, build houses?
COOPER: Well, I mean the intimation is that they're tough people. I mean, what does tough mean? I mean, tough is not --
URBAN: Look, the President likes that he has hard-working blue collar folks that support him. I think that the Democrats --
COOPER: Right. He is talking about an armed military and an armed police force. Which he has, in the past, by the way --
URBAN: Construction workers armed with paintbrushes and drywall knives?
LOCKHART: Let's look at what he --
COOPER: He's encouraged police in the past in front of police officers not to be gentle or not to be -- to basically allow, you know, not to put their hands on the head of a suspect, someone who hasn't actually been convicted of a crime when putting their, you know, head in a police cruiser.
URBAN: Fair. But I'm talking about this specific interview, Anderson.
LOCKHART: So let's talk about this interview. He intimates here that he's got the military on his side in a political battle. What does that mean? Take it to its logical extreme, which is if he doesn't get his way, if the voters aren't with him, he has the military. That has real meaning around the world. They call that a military coup, and his language matters.
And I'll tell you something else that, you know, probably the toughest opponent of my old boss President Clinton, Jesse Helms of North Carolina made a comment one night about if he comes down here to North Carolina, he is going to need a bodyguard. He knew that was wrong. It was on the front page of every paper in the country. And he got up and said it was wrong. I'll never say anything like that again. This President doesn't have any understanding of that, and these threats are real. He says these things on purpose.
URBAN: You know, Anderson --
COOPER: David, I want you to have the final thought.
URBAN: Yes, I would encourage people to find, to seek out, go read the entire interview on Breitbart. I know that's antithetical to CNN viewers, but go read the entire thing. Let you judge yourself. The facts speak for themselves. Joe may feel a certain way, but facts aren't feelings, Joe.
LOCKHART: Well, they may be facts --
URBAN: Or excuse me, the other way around. Feelings aren't facts.
LOCKHART: They're may be facts or they're may be your alternative facts. It's a very hard to know these things.
URBAN: Don't paint me with a broad brush, Joe. I'm here very narrowly talking about this one interview.
COOPER: And the quote, you know, that we're talking about the President is saying, you know, the left plays a tougher game. It's very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don't play it tougher. OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point. And then it would be very bad, very bad.
URBAN: And that read the next sentence about the Congress --
COOPER: Like with all the nonsense like with Congress, will all these investigations, that's all they want to do is, you know, they do things that are nasty, Republicans never played this.
URBAN: Yes. Paul Ryan didn't issue subpoenas that he wanted that were asked for by Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Paul Ryan. Listen, he is lamenting the fact that he didn't have a tough -- that his speaker wasn't as tough as Nancy Pelosi. That's what he's lamenting. COOPER: Well --
URBAN: And read it. You're taking it out of context.
COOPER: OK. But he also -- I just read the whole thing. So what --
URBAN: No, no, no. I mean, there's a lot more of the interview. That's one piece of it. But the part that keeps going on, it talks about how --
[20:45:00] COOPER: I don't understand the role the military plays in politics. Because it's not --
URBAN: It doesn't. It doesn't. He is saying listen, I have support amongst these folks. You're conflating two quotes in an entire story, in an hour interview.
LOCKHART: What would be -- If something is going to become bad and very bad and it involves the military, and that's exactly what he says, what precisely does he mean by that? The military is going to take up arms? What does he mean by that?
URBAN: No, Joe. I don't know.
LOCKHART: It's a simple question. What does he mean by that?
URBAN: I'm not going to ascribe -- Joe, I'm not going to ascribe that the President is talking about the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.
LOCKHART: He is talking about the military who supports him and it could get very bad. What else could he be talking about here?
URBAN: Joe, you know, I think it was, again, in the context of if pushed by, as Anderson says in the previous quote in reference to the previous quote, Antifa and others, look, I wasn't -- I can't tell exactly what's in the President's mind. I have not talked to him about it. I'm trying to explain what I think he meant after talking to the gentleman who sat down and interviewed the President and talked about the entire interview.
LOCKHART: Does the military have a role in putting down Antifa? I'm just trying to understand the context.
URBAN: The National Guard, Joe. If they're summoned by the National Guard.
LOCKHART: The National Guard should be taken out on Antifa. I think --
URBAN: No, no, listen, Joe. I'm talking about -- listen, Joe, if the governor of Oregon called out the National Guard that have a role in putting down a riot, yes, absolutely.
LOCKHART: OK. URBAN: There's a proper place. I'm saying that you're asking hypotheticals. I'm trying to respond to the nonsensical hypotheticals that you're asking.
COOPER: All right. David Urban, I appreciate it. Joe Lockhart, appreciate it as well. Thanks very much.
Coming up, breaking news involving new fallout for one of the actresses implicated in the sweeping college cheating scandal. And a quick programing note. Here's a brief look at the CNN Original Series about Former President Nixon. It's fascinating. The first episode airs this Sunday night. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't give a goddamn what the story is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard M. Nixon has lied repeatedly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No reporter from "the Washington Post" should ever be in the White House again, do you understand?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tougher it gets, the cooler I get. I have what it takes.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Impeach Nixon now! Impeach Nixon now!
RICHARD NIXON, 37TH U.S. PRESIDENT: And I want to say this to the television audience, because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is crap about Watergate.
NIXON: Let others wallow in Watergate. We're going to do our job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to kick their ass.
NIXON: Nobody is going to package me. Nobody is going to make me put on an act for television. I'm not going to engage in any gimmicks or any stunts, wear any silly hats. If people looking at me say that's a new Nixon, then all that I can say is, well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon.
[20:51:01] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight. The parent company of the Hallmark Channel today said it would no longer be working with the actress Lori Loughlin, implicated in the sweeping college cheating scandal announced the day before yesterday. Hewlett-Packard also said it would remove an ad featuring Loughlin and her daughter, who goes by the name Olivia Jade, and is something of an Instagram personality, I guess you'd say. There are new details emerging tonight surrounding Olivia Jade and her admission to the University of Southern California. Here's our Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As actress Lori Loughlin was preparing to appear in court after being named in the largest academic fraud case in history, it turns out her daughter, Olivia Jade, was cruising on a yacht. Not just any yacht, but the yacht owned by the chairman of USC's Board of Trustees. Billionaire Rick Caruso has told reporters, once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home.
LORI LOUGHLIN, ACTRESS: You know what I don't ever do? I never push my kids to -- I always say do the best you can.
KAYE (voice-over): That was Loughlin back in 2017, playing it cool as a parent, but prosecutors say she and her husband were anything but, paying as much as $500,000 in a cheating scheme to get both their daughters accepted to USC as members of the crew team, even though neither ever rowed. Hard to square those accusations with this.
LOUGHLIN: There was like, you know what? Give it your all, do the best you can.
KAYE (voice-over): Still, Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli apparently weren't taking any chances. Perhaps it had something to do with their daughter Olivia's attitude about school. In 2016 she tweeted, "College prep is the worst thing ever." In 2017, Loughlin opened up on the "Today" show before her oldest daughter left for college.
LOUGHLIN: I think I'm in complete denial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?
LOUGHLIN: I really am. Because when I think about it too much it will make me cry.
KAYE (voice-over): And this was her sounding like a typical college mom, interviewed by people on YouTube with daughter Bella.
BELLA LOUGHLIN, DAUGHTER OF LORI LOUGHLIN: I've actually finished like seven -- no, that's like 10 TV shows in the last, like, six months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't that nice? Glad we came for that education.
B. LOUGHLIN: Forget homework.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can watch TV and not do homework.
KAYE (voice-over): Another actress, "Desperate Housewives" Felicity Huffman is also charged. She is accused of paying $15,000 to get one of their daughters SAT scores boosted with help from the same fake charity.
FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS: I want to model for my daughters being a woman of agency, having a voice in the world. And, you know, that means having influence and having power. And to tell you the truth, having money.
KAYE (on camera): Her husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged, but an affidavit shows he sat in on a meeting with the head of the sham charity where the scam was apparently discussed. This was Huffman talking with Larry King back in 2016, sounding like a concerned mom.
HUFFMAN: The last time I cried, I would say two days ago. I was worried about my 16-year old. I'm sure all of you moms can --
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Something bad?
HUFFMAN: No, no, just, you know, worried about their future.
KAYE (voice-over): And in August that year, she tweeted, "What are your best hacks for the back-to-school season?" In another tweet from 2017, she writes how visiting college with her 17-year old makes her nostalgic.
Meanwhile, in January William H. Macy told "Parade" magazine about his daughter, "She's going to go to college. We're right now in the thick of college application time, which is so stressful." Any parent knows college applications can be stressful, but if these accusations are true, it is worth remembering Felicity Huffman once said she believes good behavior is rewarded.
And in a tweet just last year, Lori Loughlin wrote, "There are more important things than money, like doing the right thing. Words to live by."
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
[20:55:01] COOPER: Well, no doubt there's a lot more still to come on the story.
On the program last night, CNN'S Gloria Borger broke the news that an attorney linked to Michael Cohen had been in e-mail contact with Rudy Giuliani back in April of 2018 and said Cohen shouldn't worry too much about the future. It turns out now the Southern District of New York wants to see those e-mails. That story next.
COOPER: Tonight news from the Southern District of New York. Federal prosecutors are now requesting to see e-mails from a lawyer linked to Michael Cohen, e-mails that have raised new questions about whether a presidential pardon was ever in the mix. Our Gloria Borger reports that the attorney had been in e-mail contact with Rudy Giuliani back in April of 2018. And in that conversation the attorney was told Cohen could, quote, sleep well at night because he had, quote, friends in high places.
That attorney, Robert Costello, disputes Cohen's interpretation of the messages. But, again, prosecutors from the Southern District do want to see the exchanges. We'll keep you posted of course as we learn more.
That's it for us. The news continues though. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to Prime Time. Tonight, we're going to really get after what matters here.