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House Judiciary Expects Former Trump Confidant Hope Hicks to Cooperate and Provide Documents; Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) New York is Interviewed About House Judiciary Investigations; Trump Still Attacking McCain. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 20, 2019 - 20:00   ET


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

Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest confidants before the campaign, during it, and in the White House, now says she will cooperate with House Democrats investigating him. We'll have the latest on that.

We're also joined tonight by Congressman Jerry Nadler who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

There's also breaking news on yet another investigation, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan now at the center of a new Pentagon ethics probe.

Additionally, the president escalated his attacks today on the late Senator John McCain and took them in a direction no one saw coming and, frankly, a direction that's pretty pathetic.

We begin, though, keeping them honest, with his new attacks on the special counsel, Robert Mueller, whose report is expected shortly. And whatever you think of the work of the special counsel, the president's remarks today invite people to see it in a way that doesn't square with the facts, as we know them and as we've all seen them reported. In a word, gaslighting.

The president spoke as he left for a trip to Ohio and he began by saying he's okay with making the Mueller report public.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't mind. I mean, frankly, if you told the House, if you want, let them see it.


COOPER: Polling suggests a vast majority of Democrats and Republicans agree with him on that. But take the comment that he's making and making it public with a grain of salt. The president also in the past repeatedly said how much he wanted to sit down and answer questions from Mueller. That, obviously, didn't happen.

The president continued talking about Mueller, offering up a revisionist and somewhat rambling history of how the probe got started, in his opinion. We're showing you extended portions of his remarks, so you can get a better sense of exactly what he said and if detours that he also went about, as well as the context.

Here he is, referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


TRUMP: Again, I say, a deputy, because of the fact that the attorney general didn't have the courage to do it himself. A deputy that's appointed appoints another man to write a report. I just won an election with 63 million votes or so, 63 million. I had 206 to 223 in the Electoral College, 306 to 223.

And I'm saying to myself, wait a minute, I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country and even you will admit that, and now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote? It's called the Mueller report. So explain that, because my voters don't get it. And I don't get it.


COOPER: So, to recap, some guy talks to some other guy and pretty soon you've got a bunch of guys writing a report, never mind that I was elected president and all.

Now, keeping 'em honest, this wasn't cooked over cannolis at the Ravenite social club -- you can Google that -- and the president's victory, which was absolutely a remarkable achievement, no doubt of about it, it was not of historic proportions, compared to Ronald Reagan and Nixon in '72, Johnson, '64, Eisenhower, Roosevelt and others.

Now, that said, in reminding us, he most certainly was elected to the office, the president calls attention to who's responsible for all of these guys being around. The president appointed Jeff Sessions. The president appointed Rod Rosenstein who in turn named Robert Mueller as special counsel.

These aren't random individuals. As for Mueller, a lifelong Republican, the president said this.


TRUMP: I know that he's conflicted and I know that his best friend is Comey, who's a bad cop. And I know that there are other things, obviously, you know, I had a business transaction with him that I've reported many times, that you people don't talk about. But I had a nasty business transaction with him and other things.

I know that he put 13 highly conflicted and, you know, very angry -- I call them angry Democrats in. So, you know, so what it -- let's see whether or not it's legit. You know better than anybody, there's no collusion.

There was no collusion, there was no obstruction. There was no nothing. But it's sort of an amazing thing that when you have a great victory.

Somebody comes in, does a report out of nowhere, tell me how that makes sense? Who never got a vote, who the day before he was retained to become special counsel, I told him he wouldn't be working at the FBI.

And then the following day, they get him for this. I don't think so. I don't think people get it. With all of that being said, I look forward to seeing the report.


COOPER: Well, as we know, there's a reporting, Robert Mueller and James Comey are friendly, not best friends, as the president suggests, while members of Mueller's team have indeed donated to Democratic candidates, some have also given to Republicans. Some are registered Democrat, some are not, some we don't know.

As for the claim that the report and by extension, the Mueller investigation comes out of nowhere, in fact, it has a very clear beginning.

[20:05:03] The president fired James Comey and then boasted about it to Russians and Rod Rosenstein's, the president's appointee, named a special counsel.

You can agree with how the investigation is proceeding, but it's pretty clear how the special counsel's work actually began.

Meantime, there is news involving one of the president's top aides at the White House, and before he got there, Hope Hicks. We have learned she plans to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation of possible obstruction of justice by the president and others.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler chairs the committee and he joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

First of all, a lot to talk about. These comments from the president saying that Mueller shouldn't be able to write a report because he's never got votes. Does this --

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That makes no sense at all. Mueller is a special counsel, appointed under regulations of the Department of Justice, to investigate certain matters, which it was decided were a conflict for the department to investigate, because the president, who appoints the highest officers of the Department of Justice, is himself a subject or a target of the investigation, which was focused on suspicions or allegations that the Russians, while we know the Russians interfered in the 2016 election, with the intention of helping Trump win. And the questions are whether Trump or people around Trump conspired with the Russians to do that, and did they violate the law in so doing?

That was the main reason for the appointment of Mueller. And that's a standard operating procedure, to appoint the special counsel in those kinds of circumstances.

COOPER: The president is saying that he told Congress that, you know, make it public, if they want, the report. I assume you would like to hold him to that?

NADLER: We certainly would. We want the report, which Mueller has to give to the attorney general and the attorney general can edit it before it goes to the chairman of the House and Senate judiciary committees and to the public, we want the report to be entirely public. We want the underlying evidence to be public, because it's very important that people have confidence either in the president or in the -- certainly in the investigation, so that they see the evidence and they -- and they see what's really going on.

Our job as the Judiciary Committee chairman -- the Judiciary Committee, is to uphold the rule of law and to investigate possible obstruction of justice, abuses of power, and corruption. And the report goes directly to that, which is why we have to see it and the public should see it.

COOPER: Based on our reporting and legally, the president and the White House -- White House attorneys, they can look at the document for executive privilege, no?

NADLER: No, I don't think they can, and they certainly shouldn't be able to. The report is -- the president is a subject or a -- possibly even a target of the report. It's his conduct and the conduct of people around him that's at issue in much of the investigation. And that should be public.

And it's fundamental law that executive privilege cannot hide misconduct. You cannot use the executive privilege to hide misconduct by the president or by anybody around him. In the Nixon case, which was decided 9-0 by the Supreme Court was very dispositive on that point. In addition to which --

COOPER: That was a case about whether or not to release the tapes.

NADLER: To release the tapes, for which the president claimed executive privilege. And the court said "no", because you cannot use executive privilege to hide misconduct of any sort.

Second of all, when that evidence, whatever evidence was given to the special prosecutor, was given to him, any claim of executive privilege was waived by the act of giving it to an investigator.

COOPER: How extensive do you actually expect the Mueller report to be? Because it's not really written down in his mission statement of exactly what sort of report -- I mean --

NADLER: I don't know. I hope it is extensive. I hope it examines all the questions and gives the public answers we can rely on and gives the Congress answers we can rely on.

But we can't depend on that, which is why -- which is one of the reasons why our committee has to do the job that we're doing of investigating, because we cannot -- we don't know that the Mueller report -- and the Mueller report, first of all, is looking only at allegations of crimes. Our job is to look -- is to protect the rule of law and look much broader than just crimes.

Second of all, we don't know how broad the Mueller report is going to be, we don't know how public it's going to be. And therefore, we have to do our own job.

Certainly, seeing the Mueller report and the evidence underlying it will make it much easier to do our job.

COOPER: If the White House did seek to substitute executive privilege, it would only -- things that can only -- only things that happened in the White House, after the president actually became the president, not during the campaign.

NADLER: That's right.

COOPER: Not during the transition.

NADLER: That's right.

COOPER: Nothing is covered by executive privilege?

NADLER: No. Executive privilege is a doctrine to protect the right of the president to get personal advice so he can make his judgments. If he's not president, that doesn't apply.

And in any event, as I said, executive privilege cannot be used to hide wrongdoing or misconduct.

COOPER: Your committee has sent out 81 requests to individuals and entities as part of the investigation into the president and the inner circle. Can you say how many of those 81 have actually submitted documents?

NADLER: We have been contacted --

COOPER: I think the deadline was two days ago.

NADLER: The deadline was yesterday -- Monday. Yes, two days.

COOPER: I know, the days do all blend together these days.

NADLER: Yes. I can't give you an exact number. We have gotten substantial response from very large number of people. We've gotten -- who have told us either, here are the documents or we're preparing the documents, you'll have them shortly.

COOPER: Would you say the majority of people have responded?

NADLER: I don't know it's the majority, but it's -- I don't know. It's a large number. And we've also gotten from a fair number of people saying we would be happy to provide you documents if you give us a subpoena first, which we will do.

COOPER: We reported last night that Rod Rosenstein -- and Hope Hicks is turning over documents, is that correct?

NADLER: Hope Hicks has, yes. Among others.

COOPER: Rod Rosenstein, we reported last night, now apparently intends to stay at the department of justice until the report is released. Is that something you support? Or does that not have any influence?

NADLER: Well, I have no influence over that question.

COOPER: Do you care whether he's --

NADLER: Yes, I'm glad to see that he's staying. From all accounts and from everything I can judge, he's a man of integrity and has done what he can to see that the special counsel can do his work unimpeded, and I'm glad to see that he will stay there as long as he does.

COOPER: Does that tell you anything about the -- how long this may still -- I mean, I'm sure you're asked this question --

NADLER: No, no, no. It's all a question of tea leaves. And I said on TV a few weeks ago that I watch CNN and MSNBC every night to figure out when they're going to release the report.

COOPER: Well, yes. Well, we're getting, you know, conflicting information.

I also want to bring in Robert Ray, who is the former Whitewater independent counsel, and Neal Katyal who drafted the special counsel regulations.

Mr. Ray, I mean, you hear the president saying he's fine with everyone seeing the report. Obviously, he's not happy with the investigation. He has his own history of it.

Do you actually believe he -- people will see this report? The full report?

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I think the news out of that, at least for me today, was that the president has provided cover for the attorney general to go ahead and do, consistent with his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the confirmation hearings to release as much of it as he can consistent with the regulations.

And again, we'd talked about what the possible exceptions would be. The chairman has mentioned the issue of executive privilege. There's potentially information that might be in the report that would be grand jury material that would have to get a court order in order to release.

There's potentially also national security information that might be in there, if Bob Mueller chose to put it in the report. I think there are ways to avoid that. But if -- to the extent that it was in there, everybody would concede the appropriateness of limited redactions. COOPER: Do you believe that, you know, besides national security

information, that executive privilege does not cover anything relating --

RAY: Look, I mean, the chairman's right as a general concept, executive privilege is not a shield to, you know, to cabin misconduct. But, you know, there are instances where there might well be a legitimate exercise of executive privilege.

I don't know. I haven't seen the report. I don't know what's in the report. I don't know whether the report even arguably would have any potentially privileged material.

And also, I mean, you know, Bob Mueller's a smart guy. I would imagine that the effort would be in drafting the report to avoid that.

But, you know, we talked about this last night. The question about whether the White House should gain access. I don't agree with the congressman that it would be inappropriate for the White House to have at least an opportunity to review it for privileged material. And I also think consistent with what I now understand, what we all understand is a defunct independent counsel statute, it remains the case notwithstanding the fact that we moved past the independent counsel statute, that fairness dictates that, you know, someone who is the subject of an investigation, if you're going to go out there and not charge them and have things to say about them in a report --

COOPER: That they get to respond.

RAY: The president gets an opportunity to respond. Now, you know, I understand why Democrats in Congress have a problem with that. And it wouldn't be a long period of time to get advanced access to it. And it would have to be on the condition that they don't jump the gun with regard to releasing findings that are contained in the report.

But I wouldn't have a problem with that, if that happened.

NADLER: I would have a problem. I think that, first of all, if there was any privileged information in the report, it's because that information was given to the special counsel. And the privilege is waived when it was given. It should have been --

RAY: I'm not so sure about that.

[20:15:01] NADLER: I think the law is pretty clear on that. Executive privilege must be asserted by the president. And if you give it to someone else, it's -- except on the very narrow circumstances of anyone, it's waived. Number one.

Number two, as a general rule, what Barr said, Attorney General Barr said in his confirmation testimony that you don't want to comment negatively about someone who's not indicted, because you don't want to smear them, is correct and salutary policy.

But that is on the assumption that the reason you're not indicting someone is because you don't have evidence sufficient to charge them with a crime to indict them. If the reason you're not indicting someone because you believe the law says that the sitting president may not be indicted no matter what the evidence, if you then take the position, that we're not indicting the president because we can't as a matter of law, we're not going no comment on the evidence against him, we're not going to list it, then you're converting that into a cover- up.

And you're saying that the Department of Justice cannot hold the president -- any president accountable, because you can't indict him. And the department will then withheld from Congress and the public, the information for Congress to hold the president accountable. And that yields a result in which the president is above the law. And that's inadmissible in this country.

COOPER: Neal, I mean, you drafted the special -- the regulations. Where are you in this, in terms of executive privilege?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER U.S. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: So, the first thing to say is, I agree with Robert Ray. And this is rare for me to say, I'm not someone who normally praises Trump, but I think Trump does deserve credit today for saying that he thinks the report should be made public.

COOPER: Do you believe him? Because he also said that he would -- he wanted to testify against Mueller.

KATYAL: Well, you know, he said it. And I think as Robert Ray just said, has told the attorney general what he wants to happen. Now, he said a bunch of other ludicrous things like, nobody voted for Mueller so he can't be investigating him, which is just kind of poppycock. I mean, that would mean that a president would be totally above the law. I agree with Congressman Nadler there.

I think the executive privilege stuff is one he really shouldn't assert. If he tries to assert it, he's going to lose for exactly the reason the congressmen said, which is the Nixon tapes case. So, you know, it would be one thing if it's over a particular source or method or something like that, but, you know, this president has a history of using these kinds of defenses in a kind of tendentious way.

So, I think it's a very tough road for him to follow if he tries to asset executive privilege.

COOPER: Mr. Ray, you said something interesting about someone who was on Chris Cuomo's show, which I walk every night. You said, people will be poorly disappointed to think that this report is going to be a long exposition about all the things uncovered in the course of the investigation. Do you think that's still the case?

RAY: I think that's right. I have no way of knowing. You know, I don't --

COOPER: But it's not the Starr report.

RAY: I think, remember, also, experience is some guide here. People do learn the lessons of history and I think it has generally been seen as the fact that there was too much detail in connection with some reports. I think, also, the independent counsel statute seemed to prove the point that, frankly, that statute seemed to be an encouragement to have, you know, much to say.

My own view is that it's an appropriate job for a prosecutor and the president does have a point about this. A prosecutor isn't elected to anything. And it's a -- it's important for a prosecutor to remember that basic fact. That's sort of my takeaway point from what the president said here.

So, you know, you can dismiss it as poppycock all you want. But there's a point there that the president has that's well worth noting. And for that reason --

KATYAL: There's no point there. What's the point?

COOPER: Let him finish --


RAY: My view about a report is that a prosecutor's job is to provide sufficient information and context, facts, to explain why charges were either brought or not brought, period.

COOPER: Neal --

RAY: And it's not a roving mandate to be a fact gatherer for the benefit of anybody, including Congress.

COOPER: Neal, I want you to respond.

KATYAL: I mean, the ridiculousness of this, someone like Robert Mueller needs to be reminded that nobody voted for him. I mean, that's inane. Obviously, he knows that. This is one of our most distinguished public servants around.

And, by the way, it wasn't just Mueller showing up one day and saying, hey, I would like to investigate the president. The president's own guy, Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed by Donald Trump, named Mueller to that position. So, the idea that this is like some sort of creation out of thin air, I think, is ridiculous.

And that proof is in the pudding. You've had now 37 different indictments, including the president's national security adviser going to jail and other people like that. So this is like -- this is a very serious thing. This is not Mueller just going off on his own.

NADLER: I think I would add one other thing. The special counsel here acts pursuant to the regulations, more -- I mean, more than just the normal way of a run-of-the-mill prosecutor.

[20:20:02] Because he was appointed to look into very serious allegations that the Russians interfered in our elections and that Americans perhaps including the president, certainly including people in the campaign, worked with them, the normal way of a run-of-the-mill prosecutor. Because he was appointed to look into very serious allegations that the Russians interfered in our elections and that Americans perhaps including the president, certainly including people in the campaign, worked with them.

And people have a right to expect, to the extent possible, the answer to the question, is that true? And who colluded with the Russians, if anybody? And what went on there. Not simply a question of who's being indicted.

COOPER: Do you --

RAY: Generally speaking, I agree with that. And I think that's going to come out inevitably, one way or another. So, you know, absent context, it's a little hard to comment about.

Your question to me was, do I expect a 500-page report or more? Do I expect a five-page report, I don't know. But I don't think -- if I know Bob Mueller the way I think I know him, I don't think you're going to see, you know, an exhaustive examination of facts that goes on forever.

I think it's going to be direct and to the point. That's what I expect to see. And I think there'll be --

KATYAL: What Congressman Nadler --

RAY: -- details in that, but I don't expect that you're going to have -- you know, people are apparently already selling rights now to the report in a book-length form. I don't think you -- if you're expecting that, I think you're going to be disappointed.

COOPER: Neal? Sorry, go ahead.

KATYAL: What Congressman Nadler said is so important, which is Mueller's mandate is criminal. It's not just a matter of, you know, the judgment and so on. So for example, Trump we now know lied to the American people when he said in 2016, before the election, that he has no business dealings in Russia.

The Mueller investigation has proved that not to be the case. That's not a criminal case. That's not an indictment.

It's absolutely something Congress has to investigate, but wherever that Mueller report comes out, I think everyone needs to remember the limited confines. He's looking at crimes. He's not looking at other things, which are more responsible -- the responsibilities of Congress.

COOPER: Yes, we're going to have to leave it there. Appreciate Congressman Nadler, always.

RAY: Thanks very much.

NADLER: Thank you.

COOPER: Robert Ray, as well. Neal Katyal, thanks. Coming up next, what the president said about John McCain, his

funeral, and why the president deserves gratitude from the late senator's family after years of attacks.

Later, the president's attack on a rival who happens to be married to one of his top advisers. This is probably one of the most bizarre ongoing feuds in Washington. Details on that, ahead.


[20:26:39] COOPER: President Trump holds the single most powerful office on earth. He commands the strongest armed forces the world has ever seen. He can, with one single and stoppable order, start a nuclear war that could end all human life for all time. His responsibilities are awesome, as is the majesty of his office.

Yet with all of that, the president of the United States, one of just 45 presidents ever, cannot let go of the slightest grievance. Not even when it's with somebody who is dead. Mr. Trump likes to say he's a counterpuncher. That is an arguable point. But if he is, he's now punching a dead man repeatedly and his family.

Keeping 'em honest, it's the kind of story you just wish would go away, because, frankly, it's sickening. But it hasn't gone away and there's one reason why, the president keeps returning to it. He says it's because reporters keep asking him about it.

This president has no trouble ignoring questions he doesn't want to answer. Trashing John McCain is clearly something he wants to keep doing. He did it again today in front of an audience, not prompted by anything other than his own mind.

A president who avoided military service, but likes military parades, lashing out at someone who endured nearly six years of captivity and torture in North Vietnam. Not six months or six days, but six years.

During the campaign, candidate Trump said Mr. -- Senator McCain wasn't a hero because he was captured. That was actually his first punch. It didn't seem to be a counterpunch. It was just a punch at a former POW.

None of it, though, quite matches what he said today at a tank plant in Ohio. I want to play you extended portions of his remarks so you can just get a better sense of it all. The president, again, unprompted, first explained his antipathy toward the late senator.


TRUMP: So I have to be honest, I've never liked him much. Hasn't been for me. I've really probably never will.

But there are certain reasons for it, and I'll tell you, and I do this to save a little time with the press later on. John McCain received a fake and phony dossier. Did you hear about the dossier? It was paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton, right?


And John McCain got it. He got it. And what did he do? Didn't call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy.

And that's not the nicest thing to do. You know when those people say -- because I'm a very loyal person.

John McCain campaigned for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, for years in Arizona, great state. I love the people of Arizona. But he campaigned for years for repeal and replace. So did Rob, so did a lot of senators.

When he finally had the chance to do it, he voted against repeal and replace. He voted against it, at 2:00 in the morning. Remember, thumbs down. We said, what the hell happened.


COOPER: Now, we know the president starting a sentence by saying "I have to be honest" seems ironic, but ignoring that and his statement about what a loyal person he is, let's just focus on some facts. The dossier did not trigger the Russia probe no matter who John McCain gave it to. And by the time he got it in late 2016, the FBI's Russia investigation was already well underway.

Now, in addition to being confused, apparently, about the chronology, the president seems to be suggesting that giving possibly important evidence or any evidence to the FBI was the act of a rat and disloyal.

[20:30:00] In any case, those last remarks are largely in line with his other recent remarks. These next ones, however, are truly something else.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I endorsed him at his request and I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as President I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get thank you, that's OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain. So now what we could say is, now we're all set. I don't think I have to answer that question, but the press keeps, "What do you think of McCain? What do you think?" Not my kind of guy. But some people like him, and I think that's great.


COOPER: No one thanked him for giving John McCain the kind of funeral that John McCain wanted. Now, "Keeping them Honest," the President neglects to mention that at the time he had to be pressured into flying White House flags at half-staff, even as the rest of official Washington did, because, well, that's what you do.

No one thanked him, though, just as no one thanked him or the White House for offering an official statement when the senator died. And no one said thanks when he tweeted his condolences to the family, but failed to praise or even mention John McCain's service to the country. But no one thanked the President, not that he cares, because he doesn't, even though he just brought that up in a very telling way out of thin air months after the funeral. I mean, it almost makes you think he's been stewing about that all this time, and that probably says a lot about the President.

Now, as you contemplate how, frankly, just sad all of this is and kind of disgusting, consider what President Trump has said about being presidential.


TRUMP: Sometimes they say, "He doesn't act presidential." And I say, "Hey, look, great schools, smart guy, it's so easy to act presidential." With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office, that I can tell you. It's real easy.


COOPER: Now, "Keeping them Honest," he's right, acting presidential is real easy. But Donald Trump is making it look like the hardest thing in the world, that I can tell you. A lot to discuss with political consultant and writer Stuart Stevens, and former RNC Chief of Staff Mike Shields.

Stuart, I know you say that the Republican Party has to ask itself, do you want to be the party that honors John McCain as a role model or Donald Trump? It's a stark choice. Both can't be true. I'm quoting you. Where do you see the party standing tonight?

STUART STEVENS, POLITICAL CONSULTANT AND WRITER: Well, I think it's very sad that so few Republicans have spoken out. Senator Isakson was tremendous on the floor of the Senate. Senator Romney has spoken out. But it's -- this is really not an attack on John McCain, it's an attack on America.

When you're the President of the United States who attacks a dead war hero who represents the best of America, it really hurts the American soul. It drags us all down. And I don't understand what -- where the line is if Republicans don't stand up and say, enough, do not do this. I mean, we're constantly every day in the Joe McCarthy moment. Have you no decency, sir? And the answer continues to be, no.

COOPER: Mike, I mean, do you believe Senator McCain's family owes President Trump a thank you for the funeral?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. And look, I'm going to be really clear. When president -- I don't agree with the President criticizing John McCain's military record. I mean, as a military brat myself, he is a war hero and that's out of bound and the RNC, the first time he did that put out a statement from the party saying that they disagreed. When I worked -- I used to work for Reince Priebus, he put that statement out.

COOPER: But that was before Donald Trump was powerful. SHIELDS: Well, and just this week, Kevin McCarthy said he doesn't think the President should keep talking about this. And (INAUDIBLE) doesn't agree with disparaging John McCain's war record and he is the leader of House Republicans.

So there are Republicans that will say they don't agree with that, however, you know, we talked about this the other night. I tried to explain that President Trump -- look, I think he should be move on. I don't think he should keep talking about this. I don't think -- I don't know what he gets out of it, but he certainly is the sort of the anti-politician.

That's the image that he has created for himself and you saw it in that speech there where he's saying, "Look, I disagree with the guy. I'm not going to be disingenuous and start saying I love someone now that they're gone." And my guess is, John McCain would do the exact same thing and be called a straight talker for saying, "Look, you know, Donald Trump is a jerk."

And so this is the way that these guys played the game with each other and Donald Trump is who he is. And there are voters in the country that appreciate that he's authentic in that way.

COOPER: But authentic -- I have no doubt that he's authentic in terms of he's saying what he actually believes.

[20:35:00] The fact that he believes he should -- and it seems to be upset months later that he didn't get an apology -- a thank you that he feels he was owed for John McCain's funeral. I mean, just -- what does that say about how -- about the President? I mean, does that come up well?

SHIELDS: I think it says that he really doesn't like John McCain. I mean, he -- and he doesn't change his stripes and that's who he is. And there are certain -- there are lot of voters --

COOPER: It doesn't just seem, though, that he's petty, that he's, you know -- I mean, is this presidential? Is this what presidential is now?

SHIELDS: Well, not -- so, look, the question of what's presidential I think is actually more of what I'm kind of getting at here. Because the image that many of us may have of what presidential is, he ran against, his supporters don't like that. Being presidential and being, you know, as sort of a hope and change type of pc president had us the slowest recovery in modern history.

They don't want a politician who's pc. They want someone who kind of tells it like it is and offends people that his supporters like it that we're going to come on here and be offended. We're the people that they want to see offended. That's the whole purpose, to offend us.

COOPER: Stuart?

SHIELDS: And so, I think that's his purpose. COOPER: Stuart, I mean, is it just antiquated notion of what presidential is supposed to be? I mean, it's a little like saying, well, you know, that whole idea of what a human, you know, acting like a decent human being, that's, you know, the way it used to be, but that's not what a lot of people want -- how to act now.

STEVENS: Yes. I mean, Donald Trump is a different kind of politician in the same way Bernie Madoff was a different kind of businessman. It's not a positive. This isn't about acting presidential, it's about being a decent human being, like you say. And there is -- a lot of what the President does is just talk.

They don't introduce bills. They don't vote very often. He gets to veto something. But it's really the role of the President to set an example for the rest of the country. And Donald Trump, instead of lifting us up, which really is the greatest purpose a president can serve, to make us feel better about ourselves, to make us feel better about being Americans, he keeps dragging us down into the sewer.

I mean, it's just constant, attacking a dead war hero, paying off porn stars, this constant just litany of untruths and flat-out lies, it's just not what a president or any leader should be. You wouldn't want a teacher to act like this. You wouldn't want a football coach to act like this. You wouldn't want a Boy Scout leader or Girl Scout leader to act like this. It's just not what it is --

SHIELDS: Look, I think -- I am not -- as I said, I don't condone him attacking John McCain in this way, and especially on his war record. But to say that he's not lifting people up, there just -- there are Americans who don't have the same economic fortunes that you and I have who are just looking for a job.

And they think, you know what, we had a president that was super nice and I didn't have a job and my life was terrible. We have a president who says some things that offends a lot of T.V. reporters, but you know what, now I have a job, wages are up, you know, manufacturing sector jobs are up. They think their lives are being lifted up.

And so that's what -- and then they come to his defense when they seem him being attacked like this, which is why he does it. And so, I think it's --


COOPER: I think it also offends the family of a dead war hero, I mean -- and a grieving widow and a daughter --

SHIELDS: Right. And -- but Anderson, here's the other --

COOPER: -- who the President has no problem re-tweeting some random strangers, you know, vile tweet at the daughter of --

SHIELDS: No. And, look, I'm -- and I'm saying it again for the third time.

COOPER: That's the President tweeting the daughter of John McCain some random person's, you know, tweet. I suppose a tweet that he's too scared to send himself, but clearly reflect what he thinks, so he re-tweets it and in an interview he said, "Well, it's a re-tweet." That's what he used to say in the campaign, "That's not what I said, it's a re-tweet." As if it magically entered his Twitter machine and magically got sent to Meghan McCain.

SHIELDS: Now, look -- and, again, the third time, I'm not condoning that.

COOPER: Right. But it's not just a bunch of T.V. reporters, it's the family. I mean, there are many people --

SHIELDS: No, but here's my point on that.

COOPER: -- who are decent --

SHIELDS: I get that.

COOPER: -- people and it's not about politics. It's just about like basic human decency.

SHIELDS: What I'm trying to say is that there are a group of Americans that were so upset with the establishment and the elites and the --

COOPER: I understand.

SHIELDS: -- people they see as in control and they wanted a candidate that would make them angry and offend them, because that makes them feel better that someone's actually listening to them.

And so think about this, when John McCain ran for president, people like me wanted him to run on his war hero record and we defended him. And there were people in the media that said, you know what, he's a little unhinged. I don't know that he -- because he was running against Barack Obama. Now reporters are coming to his side and saying he's the greatest war hero ever.

And so a lot of conservatives watch that and go, what a load of bunk. This is just because he's attacking President Trump. And so Trump does this, and he brings those conservatives over to his side in a fight with the media. That's my point.

COOPER: Mike, I appreciate you being on, and you are a very decent person and I always appreciate you being here.

SHIELDS: Thank you.

COOPER: And as are you, Stuart Stevens, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

It's been quite a day for the President. No one's off-limits the teams these days, not even the spouse, as I said, of -- well, actually in this case, the spouse of the aide who helped him win his election and who defends him incredibly diligently almost daily.

[20:40:07] Now he's unleashing his anger on Kellyanne Conway's husband. That story, next.


COOPER: Well, in an administration marked by chaos and the breaking of norms, sometimes it's worth taking a step back and just kind of taking stock of just how weird things are sometimes these days.

With that, just contemplate this next sentence and consider how weird it is. The President of the United States is taking time out of his incredibly important day to weigh in, multiple times, on a spousal spat between the husband who constantly attacks the President and the wife who is a counselor to the President.

This is not normal. We're talking, of course, about George and Kellyanne Conway and today's escalation of the feud that Mr. Conway has with the President, a Twitter feud. Here's President Trump's latest comments about George Conway, who's been very obviously publicly questioning Mr. Trump's mental health as of late.

He tweeted that Conway is "very jealous of his wife's success" and is "stone cold loser and husband from hell." He then attack (ph) on a few more insults after that morning missile.


TRUMP: Yes, I don't know him. He's a whack job, there's no question about it. But I really don't know him. He -- I think he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne. The fact is that he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family. She's a wonderful woman.


COOPER: So, a husband from hell, is what the President called him, and just let that sink in, Donald Trump calling someone else a husband from hell. As I said, this is not normal.

I want to bring in someone who once worked in the White House just to get a reaction to what's going on. Jen Psaki was a communications director in the Obama White House. Also with us is Republican Strategist Adolfo Franco.

Adolfo, I mean, does this make sense? I mean, look, obviously George Conway does not like the President. I get that. Kellyanne Conway does a very great job, you know, defending the President publicly. I'm just -- even up for like an H.R. issue, the President commenting about Kellyanne Conway's husband, it just seems weird, doesn't it? I mean, is this really something the President should be involved with?

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think what's weird is how Mr. Conway has been elevated by the press.

[20:45:04] You had to remember where this started. This didn't start with the President. This started with -- yes, he is the wife of the counselor -- the husband of the -- or the wife of the counselor to the President. So I think the fact that he's gotten so much media attention questioning the President's mental stability and that's gotten a lot of press and any public comment he's made, I think it's logical for the President to respond.

I think it's absolutely appropriate for him to say that this is a person that I would think would want his wife to succeed. We've had these couples in the past, Anderson, you know, Mary Matalin and Jim Carville and so forth in the past, but they've never done what Mr. Conway has done. So I think --

COOPER: No, I'm not saying that's not -- I agree -- listen, I think it's weird that he's doing that. I mean, look, I don't -- I have no idea -- you know, I don't want to know anything about their relationship. It's none of my business. I think it's weird what he's doing, but I also -- but isn't the president elevating it more now?

FRANCO: Well, he's -- but it's -- I don't think it's the suggestion about interfering in their marriage. The President is really, I think, responding as he comes out swinging when someone unfairly does what Mr. Conway has done calling -- you know, I guess he's now not only a lawyer, but a doctor, calling into question the President's mental health, with absolutely no basis what to do so. And he's now a figure just because of being the husband of Kellyanne Conway. Absolutely the President has to respond.


FRANCO: And I think he's done so appropriately.

COOPER: Jen, I mean, does the President need to respond to this? I mean, does this make any sense to you?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we don't say enough. He's the President of the United States. This is not normal. And this is not a barroom brawl between two guys fighting over a woman, and that's what it feels like a little bit here. I think there's no question George Conway's tweets are weird. The President of the United States tweeting back is even stranger.

Now, it is possible too, though, that we're not giving Donald Trump enough marketing credit here, because he's taking away a sliver of the public focus that would otherwise be on Deutsche Bank and his fraught relationship or the fact that he hasn't brought back auto jobs, even though he promised to, or the pending release of the Mueller report, to talk about Conway versus Conway. And that's probably to his advantage right now.

FRANCO: But, Anderson, I don't think -- Jen, I totally respect you. I don't think that's really fair. Had the press not elevated the comments that Mr. Conway made, had the press not made it and it certainly before the President ever tweeted, that was carried prominently by all the cable channels, you wouldn't have had the President involved in whatever marital problems they may or may not have.

So, I think that the genesis is not Donald Trump trying to deviate media attention, it's the media creating a story or trying to create a story to question the President's competency.

COOPER: Jen, I mean, just in any universe when you have a top White House aide, who is a very famous public figure, who's then husband, who is also well known in conservative circles, aggressively tweeting about the man his wife is working for and the most powerful person on the planet. I don't know how reporters can ignore that.

It would seem to be sort of willful on their part, and I'm not sure anyone wants, frankly, sort of reporters deciding, well, this is -- this is not something that we're going to discuss, or not something we're going to focus on, even though this guy is out here yelling on the Twitter machine at the top of his lungs about the -- his wife, the top counselor to the President.

PSAKI: That's exactly right, Anderson. I mean, Kellyanne is a public figure and her husband is, as well. He's a prominent lawyer in Washington. He's not an unknown entity. And I think she fully knows and he fully knows that his Twitter account would be covered because of who she is and who he is.

So, I don't think we need to pretend like they -- like he is naive about this or that she is either. I think that one bipartisan thing we can all agree on is that people would love to stop talking about the Conway versus Conway Twitter feuds.

However, by accusing the President of the United States of being mentally unstable, by the President responding, of course the media has to cover it and pay attention to it. But Donald Trump also knows that.

COOPER: Right, of course.

PSAKI: And I think that's important to remember, as well.

COOPER: Yes. It's -- yes. Jen Psaki, Adolfo Franco, thank you. Appreciate it.

PSAKI: Thank you.

FRANCO: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Sources briefed on the matter say the Justice Department has issued several subpoenas as part of a criminal investigation to Boeing 737 Max airliners. It's a very big deal. We have details ahead.


[20:53:21] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight on the FAA certification of those troubled Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners. Justice Department prosecutors have issued several subpoenas as part of a criminal investigation, according to sources briefed on the matter. Our Shimon Prokupecz joins us with details. So, Shimon, what are your sources telling you exactly what the investigators are looking for?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, Anderson. So the investigation is being headed out of the Department of Justice here in Washington, D.C., out of the criminal division. And subpoenas, as you said, have been issued. They're looking for information on the certification process for these planes.

They're looking at for training manuals, safety manuals, anything they can learn about really what's the company, what Boeing was doing in terms of their thinking about this plane, what did they know about this plane, were there any concerns raised about this plane.

We're told the safety manuals and training manuals have all been subpoenaed as well as people who may have been involved in some of this and putting some of this together. FBI agents in Seattle where Boeing is headquartered out there serving subpoenas, but you know, keep in mind, we're told that this is all very preliminary. This investigation is in its early stages, Anderson.

COOPER: And is it clear what, if any, laws may have been broken?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's what's interesting. We don't know. What we are told is that the investigation started after the Lion Air crashed in Indonesia where 189 people died. The Department of Justice almost immediately launched an investigation, started looking into the Boeing and the manufacturing of this plane, so clearly there has been some concern.

[20:55:00] They have not told us, our sources, what exactly the Department of Justice is looking for, but this is very early and they have issued these subpoenas. And so once they start going through a lot of this information, hopefully they can learn more.

COOPER: And this isn't the only investigation involving Boeing tonight. I understand the Department of Defense, Inspector General's Office, has launched one looking into acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's ties with the company.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's right. And this has to do with potential ethics violations. Complaints have been made against Shanahan saying that, you know, he was a longtime employee of Boeing and obviously the Pentagon buys products from Boeing.

And the complaints that have been made to the inspector general say that Shanahan had been disparaging competitors of Boeing. And so it's raised some ethical issues whether or not Shanahan somehow was pushing the Pentagon to purchase Boeing products. And now the inspector general feels there's enough information here, they've received enough complaints where they have decided they're going to launch an investigation.

Shanahan has said that he's cooperating and he welcomes the investigation. There are certain measures in place at the Pentagon to make sure there is no conflict. But nonetheless, the inspector general says there's enough here and so we're going to investigate now.

COOPER: All right. Shimon, thanks very much, a lot to look for. Still also a great deal to get to tonight, President Trump weighing in again on the Mueller investigation, plus going after his way to go after John McCain with a truly surprising way today. Talking about his funeral and why the President should be thanked for it. We'll be right back.