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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Comey Says He Hopes Pres. Trump Won't Be "Impeached and Removed From Office"; W.H. Rejects Dem Request For Info On Trump-Putin Communications; Top Dem: Ivanka Trump Used Personal E-mail For Government Work, Jared Kushner Used WhatsApp To Contact Foreign Leaders; Representative Ro Khanna (D) California Is Interviewed About Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Using Private Accounts For Official Business; Gold Star Dad On President Trump's Attacks Against McCain; Meghan McCain: I Keep Thinking About The Khan Family Because They Had To Go Through This When Their Son Died. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired March 21, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Washington, where the wait continues and the expectations grow.
So many here, Republicans, Democrats, reporters expecting the report by Robert Mueller to be handed over any time. A key figure, former FBI Director James Comey has just weighed in on whether he thinks the president should be impeached. And everyone in every official corner of this town, but especially in the White House and the halls of Congress are bracing for impact, whatever it may be.
To give you some idea of how intense the speculation was all day here, not to mention the effort to be first when and if the news broke, a number of camera crews staked out Robert Mueller's offices so they could get pictures of him coming in for what might have been a momentous day. When word spread that Robert Mueller did not go out to lunch as he often does, reporters and producers and politicians analyze what that meant. Did it mean anything? That's how little information there is about the release of Mueller's findings, trying to interpret why someone apparently stayed in their office for lunch.
I was out of the office for lunge today in case anyone cares.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were spotted coming and going at the White House. What did that made? Calls were made, endless discussions, no answers. Eventually, it got to the point where everything started looping back on itself. Producer and reporters calling source, and the sources saying you tell me. When they actually did have information to pass on, it was possible to glean any one consistent message from it. For example, our Jim Acosta sources saying people in the president's political sources were expressing optimism about the Mueller report.
Meantime, Robert Costa over at "The Washington Post" was hearing what he described as real concern about the White House felt possible obstruction of justice findings in their reports. Different stories, perhaps some different sources, the thing is both could be right. No one truly knows what Robert Mueller's conclusions will be in his report to the attorney general and to Congress, and in this town in which information is power, that is a painful truth.
The president, though, even as he claims to now favor making it public, also continues to keep scorn on it and Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that he's conflicted, and I know that his best friend is Comey whose a bad cop, and I know that there are other things. You know better than anybody there is 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 and does a report out November where, 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. We all -- with that being said, I look forward to seeing the report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The president's thoughts on this are well-known. So are the facts that Robert Mueller and James Comey are not, as president says, they're best friends. In any case, Comey spoke out on the op-ed page of the "New York Times." He writes and I'm quoting, I have no idea whether the special counsel will conclude whether Mr. Trump knowingly conspired with the Russians in connection with the 2016 election or that he obstructed justice with the required corrupt intent, I also don't care.
He went on the say: I care only that the work be done well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values who have been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.
Additionally, he writes: I do have one hope that I should confess. I hope that Mr. Trump is not impeached and removed from office before the end of his term. He says a significant portion of the country would see that as a coup regardless of the facts.
Now, plenty to talk about tonight, whether it's the report itself, the possibility of more indictments and all the potential implications over what will certainly be a seismic event, as we said, whatever the findings turn out to be.
Let's start with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.
So, Jim, based on who you're talking to, how is the White House feeling tonight about maybe eminent, maybe not so eminent delivery of the Mueller findings?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think there is some cautious optimism. I do think there are officials who are expressing concern as you were mentioning a few moments ago. There is that reporting out there.
I have talked to a number of sources over the past few days who have said they are hopeful at this point Mueller will not find that the president has committed any crimes, and that that will be basically the headline coming out of the Mueller report. One of those sources did add the caveat that there have been times during this investigation when we didn't know what Mueller was up to and didn't know what he had, and that certainly could be the case here, and we're all going to find out together.
But, Anderson, one thing we should point out is there is one sign of optimism coming from the Trump campaign in that they just put out this fundraising e-mail in the last several minutes, fundraising off of what they call the witch hunt report. And it claims to have an attachment there, but really there is a link to go click on and donate some money to the president's campaign. So I don't get the sense over here at the White House that they're quaking in their boots, but, of course, things can change very quickly in this town.
COOPER: I -- well, I shouldn't assume they have a plan. Do they have a plan in place for how to deal with this? Whatever happens? Because it goes to Bob Barr.
COOPER: Attorney General Barr.
ACOSTA: Exactly. The expectation is the attorney general will have it. He'll review it. We could have two news cycles here. We're all awaiting in anticipation that Robert Mueller will hand in that report.
That may happen, but then we may have to wait several days for the attorney general to review the findings. That has not been really map out for the public, for the press in terms of how all this is going to go down. But the anticipation is we could all be waiting for a few days, including members of Congress to see exactly what's in this report.
I will tell you that over here at the White House, I talked to an administration official earlier today who said that they do expect to get some sort of heads up on the timing of the report, that the report has been dropped essentially, but not to the contents of the report. And according to this official, they expect over here that Robert Mueller is going to be playing things close to the vest.
But, you know, Anderson, I talked to a source close to the White House who advises the campaign earlier today who said they feel like this Mueller report is going to leer the decks for the president, that there is not going to be a finding of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the president, and that source actually went on the call Robert Mueller a, quote, boy scout.
Anderson, we've been watching this investigation unfold for the last two years. This is the first time I've really heard anybody describe Robert Mueller in that fashion. Perhaps, say, for Ty Cobb, the White House attorney who left about a year ago and has described Robert Mueller in very glowing terms. But when you hear from the president and other people inside the administration, inside the campaign, they don't describe Robert Mueller that way. So, I thought that was an interesting sign that they're starting to talk about the special counsel in that way, Anderson.
COOPER: And as we mentioned, the top Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Barr were at the White House today.
COOPER: Was it known why?
ACOSTA: We were told, Anderson, that this was not Mueller related. We do know that Rod Rosenstein has said he is going to be staying on at the Justice Department a little while longer. It was expected that he was going to be wrapping things up in terms of his job over at the Justice Department, but that he wanted to stick around and make sure that this Mueller report is turned in and that it maintains its integrity throughout this entire process.
So, it looks like Rod Rosenstein is doing that. And so, you know, I think, Anderson, over the next several days, we're going to see a lot of comings and goings over here at the White House from the Attorney General Barr and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It is going to be very interesting to watch.
And, of course, the president has been indicating in the last day or so that he wants this Mueller report released. I think if the president is making those kinds of noises, I think that is another indication coming from the president and his team that there is some guarded cautious optimism right now. With that caveat, we just don't know what bob Mueller know, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
More reporting now as well as some of the best political and legal folks we know. Legendary and investigative reporter and author Carl Bernstein joins us, Nixon White House counsel John Dean, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Any clear sense that we did last night, the week before that, or several months before that about when this report may actually be done?
Shimon, let's start with you. Any clear sense tonight than we did last night or the night before that, or the week before that, or several months before that about when this report may actually be done.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: All we know is we're certainly closer to getting this report than we were.
PROKUPECZ: Probably yesterday. COOPER: OK.
PROKUPECZ: Look --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Way to go out on a limb, Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: We really did think it was going to be today. This is the first time we've had this many cameras outside of Mueller's office, right?
I've been there. We have a team that's there every day. No one has really been going there.
Today, there was more press than there has ever been outside that office in really the last two years. So that was an indication that everyone thought that this was going to be today. There have been other signals, certainly for the last few weeks that there has been nothing going on. We haven't seen any activity at the grand jury. We haven't seen really any of the lawyers bringing in any new witnesses.
COOPER: So, for people at home, the news agencies, CNN, others actually have people watching this kind of stuff, activity of the grand jury.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, we do have. Really, more CNN than anyone else, I have to say. We have a couple of our younger producers who have been out there every single day, watching every move, everyone who comes into the office, everyone who leaves. We've been watching people coming to the courthouse. It's been very helpful for us because it's clear Mueller is not talk.
COOPER: It's the way the Roger Stone --
PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right. We were able to show up at Roger Stone's house when the raid happened.
Look, there is some guidance going around. What's very hard is to figure out what's the delay right now. We had heard weeks ago this was coming, and then we heard, OK, tomorrow. It's not until the end of the day that you start figuring out maybe this isn't happening.
[20:10:01] So we kind of, as everyone, we're on edge, waiting and nothing happens.
BORGER: Well, Mueller is a perfectionist.
PROKUPECZ: Maybe tomorrow.
But this is the way they've been operating, when you think of the Mueller team.
COOPER: But just logistically, it's not as if this is the Ken Starr report being published tomorrow and everybody is running to get it hot off the presses and reading hundreds of pages. It could just very well be the attorney general puts out a statement. BORGER: Well, so, what we're going to know is that we're going to --
they're going to tell us the report has been submitted to the attorney general. They may also tell us when the attorney general will respond to it. And what we know is, we think it's likely that what he will do is a summary.
He's not going to go up to Congress and hand it out. So, it will be a summary. And what's interesting to me is the folks at the White House, the counselors there want to be able to read this or get parts of it first so they can see whether there are any privilege issues.
And maybe Barr will do that and hand those parts over, or maybe he won't, but the problem is going to be that Congress is going to say, why are you letting the White House see any part of this before we see any part of this? This is a counterintelligence investigation, and they want to be briefed on it. And the White House wants to respond first. So, that's going to be an interesting issue for Barr to figure out.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, can the president of the United States -- once he finds out that this is -- that Barr has the report, can he just call Barr up and say all right, so what does it say?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. He's the head of the Justice Department.
COOPER: So the president, people around him, they will know as soon as Barr gets the report, they will know -- will they be able to see the full report?
TOOBIN: I mean, that will be up to Barr to a certain extent. But if the president insists on it, I don't think Barr has any reason to decline it.
This is the difference between a report by a special counsel who -- Robert Mueller who is part of the hierarchy in the Department of Justice and Kenneth Starr who was an independent counsel who reported to a set of judges completely independent from the Justice Department. I mean, this is a big difference. And this is why.
And it could be that the first thing we hear is from the White House saying the report is in. We've looked at it. It shows no collusion. It shows a complete vindication of the president. And that may be all we get.
Now, I don't think a lot of people will believe that, but I mean, that just shows you how the logistics of how this works might be politically very significant.
COOPER: Carl, what do you anticipate, just in terms of the -- obviously, we don't know what's in it. But in terms of how this will play out. I mean, Jeff, you know, the scenario he raises of the White House saying no collusion, all clear, this has been a total vindication. That could very well be it.
And then what? Obviously, the Democrats will want to try to see it. CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: It's been a huge sprawling
investigation. And Trump has been somewhat successful in saying to his true believers and to the media that the issue is, quote, collusion. And that's it. And if there is a finding of, quote, no conspiracy that he, Trump collaborated with the Russians, he is home- free. I don't think that's really the case. I think we're going to see a real report about a counterintelligence investigation, and we're going to learn as the special prosecutor was charged with determining what the Russians did and whether and with whom there were contacts and what that amounted to.
But I also think there is a very real question of whether we're going to see more indictments around the time that this report comes in, right afterwards, maybe even before. You know, that a lot of the investigation has turned as we can see from what Mueller has released in his findings before the courts has turned on the testimony of others that are cooperating with his investigation. And there is reason to believe that there is really more information there that we're going to see and the fruits of that. That's especially true in regard perhaps to learning something about the president's dealings with Paul Manafort.
COOPER: John Dean, the counterintelligence aspect of that would obviously that's classified, and I believe normally would be the head of the intelligence committees would be briefed. Is that what would happen to any counterintelligence aspect of this?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: That's correct, Anderson. If it's just the counterintelligence part, that would go to either the intelligence committees in the House and Senate, or if it's too sensitive for the full committees, it will be the big eight, the key players on all of the committees and the leadership.
[20:15:09] So the Congress would get that as a counterintelligence document. But I'm with Carl on believing there may be more indictments. I felt that all along. He has been building various cases in other indictments, conspiracy cases.
And we have witnesses like Gates who they've asked to hold off for 60 days until they complete the work with him. There are other witnesses that are out there. I just don't see a wrap on it at this time.
COOPER: So you're saying more indictments meaning that he would not actually give a report at this stage? Or would he give the report at the same time as indictments are announced?
DEAN: It could be simultaneously. If there is a rumor in town -- I don't know who is putting the rumor out. I don't have a clue.
I wondered if the White House is doing it, trying to build up all this to make it appear that the investigation is being dragged out and somehow orchestrated by the White House. That would be a smart play if that's what they're doing and nothing comes.
But I think more indictments are coming, and I think they'll be broad- based and there will be a general conspiracy indictment that will pull a lot of this together. It will be speaking indictments.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, I don't think there is going to be any more indictments in terms of the Mueller team. They're at the point where they're done with their work. It's been very clear to us that if there is going to be any other indictments, if there is going to be any other law enforcement activity, it's going to come outside of the Mueller team.
It seems to us that the mandate, what Mueller was responsible for, what Rod Rosenstein appointed him to do is complete. That's why we're waiting for this report. I don't think we would be told that a report is coming any day now if there are other indictments.
We've also been given indications specifically to that that there was no more. There weren't going to be any more indictments from the Mueller team.
BORGER: Southern District of New York, for example. What we will learn, though, is whether Mueller went up against Rod Rosenstein at any point. And if Mueller said to Rod Rosenstein, you know, I really want to interview the president, I'm going to subpoena the president, that would be included in this. It is required to be included in this.
COOPER: Whether the public ever sees that, though, again, it's up to the attorney general.
BORGER: Well, we don't know, right. Will it be in his summary?
The other question you have is whether individual 1, or Donald Trump is mentioned in this in any way, shape or form, because we know he can't be indicted. So if they decline to indict him, there is a possibility that his name or representation --
PROKUPECZ: We don't have to refer him as individual 1 --
BORGER: You would know who it was.
PROKUPECZ: They would refer by name, if they ever made public, in an indictment or something, we saw in the Southern District of New York. That's how they would do it.
But this report is probably going to contain a lot of not good information for Donald Trump, in terms of the campaign, in terms of other people. But whether or not it rises to a crime --
BORGER: And like remember, Nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator, but I don't know that they would do that with Donald Trump.
COOPER: We're going to take a break. We'll have more to talk about, pick up the conversation when we come back.
More on how Robert Mueller might bring his investigation to a close.
And later, what a House Oversight Committee says it's uncovered about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and others using private e-mail or messaging apps like WhatsApp to conduct official business. Committee member Ro Khanna joins us.
[20:22:39] COOPER: We're talking about the Mueller report, and among other things, the hopes that James Comey has it for it. He says in a "New York Times" op-ed, and I'm quoting now: I'm rooting for a demonstration to the world and maybe most of all to our president and his enablers that the United States has a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism.
Back now with our team.
Gloria, do you buy this? When Comey says even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I'm not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal.
BORGER: Not so much. Not so much. I mean, he also said look, I don't want impeachment because people would think it's a coup. And I think lots of Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi agree with him.
The question that I have is like why is he weighing in the day before or perhaps the day before this Mueller report?
PROKUPECZ: Or the day of. There was a lot of thinking. Even "The New York Times" thought this was coming today. That's the whole point of why this was published.
BORGER: Right. So the question is Comey, who has been interviewed by Mueller --
COOPER: Why do you think he is weighing in?
BORGER: I think he wants to be relevant here. And don't forget, he has never come out and said the president tried to obstruct justice in his conversations with me, but he took extensive notes and was interviewed by Mueller. So he does have a stake in this.
COOPER: He does believe the president was directing him to obstruct.
BORGER: He does. He does. But he hasn't come out and said this is obstruction.
COOPER: Carl, is it just about staying in the conversation, you know? Still got to book out there, things like that?
BERNSTEIN: I can't answer that question. But I don't think that Mr. Comey is terribly relevant in terms of what his thoughts are to what's going on at this moment. And what's going on at this moment is the question of whether Robert Mueller is going to be able to show what his investigation has uncovered. And that includes the other jurisdictions, the southern district, the eastern district, the Virginia, the other investigations by various U.S. attorneys.
This is the fruit of his approach to an investigation that might well have been shut down. And as a result, if you believe people who have some idea of what Mueller's strategies are, that he has placed the ability for a full story of what happened in the election with Trump's businesses, with every aspect of what may or may not be a conspiracy with the campaign, and especially with the Russians to come out in various venues.
[20:25:15H] is report tomorrow may be concerned only with his immediate charter. But we can have indictments in other places. We have seen how the story is being told in all of these venues, and that's why the Mueller investigation against great, great odds, given what is obviously a lot of lying by people around the president of the United States, lying by the president himself apparent obstruction of justice from some in the White House and elsewhere, and we'll see whether or not the president is named as having obstructed justice in clear terms by Mueller or not.
But we are going to have I believe a pretty good picture of what has occurred with Donald Trump and those around him, including some of his business dealings. Is that going to be enough to satisfy the Trump base? Of course not.
It's still a political process as well. But I think that we're going to learn an awful lot in the coming days.
COOPER: Well, Jeff, A, it's an open question what actually from the report anybody will actually see. But also, just politically if Mueller -- there is no conspiracy that Mueller has come forward with. There is no obstruction of justice that Mueller points to, it's obviously a huge victory for the president, for president's supporters, and it may have ripple effects on the Democrats' ability to do other investigations in Congress. There may be pressure to, you know, kind of lay off.
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, one of the reasons there is so much mystery surrounding this is that the regulation under which Mueller is appointed gives him so much discretion, this could be a five-page report. This could be a 500-page report. This could be a five-page report with 500 pages of exhibits attached. It also gives a lot of discretion to the attorney general, to William Barr in terms of how much he discloses.
So, you know, everybody's talking so confidently about what the report will show. You know, will he draw conclusions about the law and what laws were broken, or will he simply lay out a narrative of what happened and let people draw their own conclusions about the legal implications?
All of that is unknown to me. And I think it's unknown to most people who are talking about this stuff. So I just think we need to be very cautious about what's -- what the report is going to contain, because no one knows.
COOPER: Yes. John Dean, it is amazing the fact that it has remained unknown, that
certainly in Washington, where people trade in information, this is a very well-kept secret.
DEAN: This has been the tightest special counsel investigation or independent counsel investigation as well that's ever been conducted in Washington. This is a sealed black box.
But contrary to what Jeff just said, I think we do have some outlines as to what's in that report in the regulations where it says that the special counsel will report the reason he has either declined prosecution or undertaken prosecutions. And this could be just a few pages you could cover this, or as Jeff and others have alluded to, you could also expand that greatly.
It's the counterintelligence investigation which apparently has been handed off to him too that it could be vast. And this will probably be the most secretive of documents.
COOPER: Yes, I want to thank everybody.
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee claims that Jared Kushner has been using WhatsApp an encrypted messaging app for personal business. He says Ivanka Trump uses personal e-mails to conduct government business.
All that and more just ahead on this busy Thursday.
[20:32:48] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is rejecting requests from congressional Democrats to obtained documents tied to President Trump's communications with Vladimir Putin. Democrats say they are looking to whether the President or his associate tried to conceal or misrepresent the nature of those contacts.
The White House counsel says the courts have long established the presidential communications with foreign leaders are protected. This is House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings says in a letter to the White House that the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, uses the messaging service WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders.
In the same letter, Cummings also says that Ivanka Trump was continuing to receive e-mails related to White House business on her private account and didn't always forward them to her White House account, which would be a violation of Presidential Records Act. Among other things, that act says that, "Any individual creating presidential records must not use nonofficial accounts," unless messages are forwarded to an official account.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna who is a member of the House Oversight Committee. Congressman, thanks for being with us. So, Jared Kushner using WhatsApp for official business, is it actually a national security risk in your opinion? I mean, it is, as far as I understand encrypted end to end. REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: It is, Anderson. There are reports that Jared Kushner has been using this to give sensitive information to MBS in Saudi Arabia. And as you know, Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen and undertaking a lot of actions against dissidents. So there are large questions about what his relationship with MBS is and what information he's been giving the Saudi regime.
COOPER: But -- I mean, there's -- you don't have any evidence that a -- I mean, do you have any evidence that, A, those conversations have taken place and/or what the content -- context is?
KHANNA: Well, there is public reporting that he has used WhatsApp to communicate with MBS. We don't know what the contact is. We do know also based on public reporting that Tom Barrack, who is the President's chair of the inauguration committee, has used private e- mails to talk about giving nuclear reactors to the Saudis.
Here is why this matters, though. As you know, one of the largest humanitarian crises is taking place in Yemen. 14 million people may have famine. We're about to pass a war powers resolution in the House and the Senate.
[20:35:02] The question is, is the President going to sign it, or is he too beholden to the Saudis? These are deeply important questions about our national interests and yet one wonders what communication is taking place with MBS and why this isn't being disclosed under the proper laws.
COOPER: But isn't -- I mean, isn't -- aren't there often communications between people in the White House and foreign officials that are not made public? I mean, don't there have to be private communications?
COOPER: Well, sure. But, I mean, the irony of this is that the President ran his whole presidential campaign accusing Hillary Clinton of having a private server and having communications. And here you have something that's much worse.
You have communications with foreign leaders on platforms that aren't official U.S. platforms, that put sensitive information at risk. No one is saying that they have to disclose every detail of those communications, but they need to be doing it on official government servers and preserving those records so that if there is inquiry, they can comply with that. And they haven't done that.
COOPER: Right. I mean, there is an actual, you know, Presidential Records Act, and Ivanka Trump still doing White House business, or at least from -- according to Congressman Cummings, I think his information is several months old, but on a private e-mail account. There is obviously the irony of, you know, the President running on similar criticisms of obviously of Secretary Clinton.
But, so if -- would it be not a violation of the Records Act if she used private e-mail, but then forwarded those e-mails to an official account so there is a record of it? I mean, the fact that there is no record of it seems like there is two issues. There is a security concern and then the fact that there is actually no record of it.
KHANNA: I think they're both serious issues. One is why is she using a private e-mail account or why is Jared Kushner using WhatsApp, which can be intercepted from foreign intelligence and which is putting sensitive information at risk. Separate from that are the law as you pointed out requires that these information, these records be preserved.
And if she's forwarding it to her official account and preserving that, then at least she is complying with that part of the law. But there are large questions whether that's being done.
I mean, one of the things that was reported is that she hasn't been preserving those e-mails that she hasn't replied to. Well, that would be a violation of the law. And if anything, this President should have been aware of this law. I mean, he based his whole campaign on this law against Hillary Clinton.
COOPER: It's also interesting because obviously the Kushner -- Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, I mean, they still are making money from private -- you know, from private businesses. Ivanka Trump is making money from the Trump hotel. That -- is that information that also should be saved in official documentation?
KHANNA: Absolutely. Any information that affects any part of their job needs to be saved. And the reason we have this law is for transparency, Anderson, precisely for the reasons you say that. If there are potential financial conflicts of interest, and if Congress wants to conduct oversight, then there is a record that the American people can consult.
If they do it privately, and that information isn't available, then the American people won't know if there are conflicts of interest. And so that's why it's deeply problematic that they aren't preserving these records or that they're conducting this communication on private e-mail servers.
COOPER: In terms of the White House's refusal, though, to turn over documents about the President's private conversations with Vladimir Putin, obviously it is of concern that we have no idea, the American public, other officials have no idea what actually was discussed between Vladimir Putin and President Trump, even at Helsinki at this, you know, one-on-one meeting they had with interpreters, only president.
Normally there would be some sort of a readout, there would be other official there, there would be some sort of -- at least general understanding of -- I mean, specifically of issues that were discussed. But at the same time, shouldn't the President have the ability to have private conversations with Vladimir Putin or whomever without disclosing, you know, every conversation to people in Congress?
KHANNA: Sure, Anderson, there should be some private conversation. But in this case, the President didn't have any of his own officials there. He didn't even have his secretary of state. He didn't have national security officials. And even Republican colleagues of mine were offended when he said that he believed Putin more than our own intelligence officials. And that he said he believed that Putin didn't interfere with our elections, which is absurd for anyone looking at the evidence.
So, no one is saying that we need all the details of all his sensitive conversations, but we need to have an account of what was discussed and ask some basic questions. Both President Obama and President Bush in the past have complied with providing readouts and summaries of conversations with foreign leaders.
[20:40:00] If they want to claim executive privilege for certain sensitive parts, that's fair. But to say that they're not going to disclose any of the nature of those conversations, who was there, what was discussed, that's just being unreasonable.
COOPER: Congressman Ro Khanna, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
KHANNA: Thank you, Anderson, for having me.
COOPER: Joining me now is former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes and "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers.
Steve, should -- I mean, I understand the need for presidential -- I mean, about executive privilege, but also President being able to have private conversations with foreign leaders, Vladimir Putin and others. But you do see the flip side of it, which is that we have absolutely no information about what they actually discussed still. Does that concern you at all?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, look, it doesn't concern me only because the practicalities of world diplomacy really necessitated. There is no other way to do this.
For example, I know the Congress wants oversight, and this is national tension between the legislative and executive branch, but we cannot have -- you know, in World War II, we didn't have the United States Congress running the war with the British parliament. We had FDR doing it with Winston Churchill.
We can't negotiate with friends or adversaries on a legislative to legislative basis. We hired Donald Trump, essentially, our country did, to be our chief negotiator, our chief diplomat. And in that role, he is certainly entitled to a great degree of privacy and executive privilege, and any president is, by the way, not just this one.
COOPER: Right, but it is unusual. I mean, you would acknowledge not having anybody present in one-on-one discussions --
COOPER: -- at the summit, you know, even among his own cabinet or, you know, any kind of record for historical reasons. CORTES: Look, it's unusual and it's unfortunate. And the reason, though, that it was necessary, sadly, is because his phone calls with world leaders were leaked, which is not just a breach of ethics, but a breach of U.S. law, which is really treasonous activity.
And because that was happening, I think unfortunately, this President had to take the unprecedented steps of saying ,"I'm going to severely limit who has access to these conversations," and in some cases having no one except for interpreters having access.
But that is a consequence of some really reprehensible people committing acts of crime and perhaps even treason and divulging to the world private conversations between the President and other world leaders.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, John Bolton, the secretary of state, I mean, there are people who could have been in the room. You would think hopefully the President would at least trust them.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, and also, just to what Steve was saying, we're not in World War II. I mean, there is no reason that there can't be a readout from these meetings and to his own staff, at least to people that he trusts. And we see after these meetings often nobody really knows what happened because they don't get a clear readout about it.
That said, I'm not sure what difference it would make even if Congress was given a readout, because then it would just be -- it would be cherry picked, right? I mean, there's no -- they're not going tell Congress things that are going to make the President look bad or seem suspicious. So I don't think that solves the problem.
And I think that the President does have a right to have these conversations in private if he chooses to. I wish that he wouldn't. I think that there's a lot of good reasons, a lot of diplomatic reasons and there's a lot of reasons to have other people in the room to actually protect the President and to protect the country, but I think ultimately, you know, this falls within his rights.
COOPER: Right. I mean, you know, you think back, Kirsten, to when President Obama kind of whispered I think it was --
COOPER: -- you know, I can't remember if it was to Putin or to Medvedev but, you know, that was --
POWERS: Yes. Wait until after the election, yes.
COOPER: -- that was caught on a, you know, on a hot mic.
COOPER: You know, they're allowed to have communications like this without Congress or the American people knowing word for word what was said. POWERS: Yes. I mean, there's just no question about that. I do think that if Barack Obama had been doing what Donald Trump is doing, I think that Republicans would have cried foul. I think if there was --
POWER: -- you know, if he was having meetings and -- with a very curious relationship with American adversaries who he refuses to criticize, no matter how terrible they are while he can, of course, criticize, you know, literally anybody on a regular basis, whether it's John McCain or whomever he's mad at, George Conway I guess today, or yesterday. So I think that --
COOPER: I think pretty much every day.
POWERS: Yes. There are things that make it a little more, you know, concerning, I guess. But I'm sure that if it was Barack Obama that the Republicans would be crying foul.
COOPER: Yes. Steve, do you just see this is Democratic overreach? I mean, it's basically -- I mean, do you even think people in Congress believe that they would be able to get those communications? Is this more about being seen to try to get them?
CORTES: Right. And, again, look, this is a natural tension. You have congressional oversight, you have the executive branch probably stalling and I don't doubt that. I mean, what executive branch has ever leapt to comply, you know, as quickly as possible and as fully as possible with congressional document requests? None is the answer. And this one isn't either. So this is the natural back and forth.
[20:45:12] But when it comes to foreign policy, when it comes to negotiating, we do have a singular executive, and I'm not just talking about Trump now, about any president, and we hire that executive, we elect that executive exactly for this reason, because there is no other practical way to do it.
COOPER: Yes. Steve Cortes, Kirsten Powers, appreciate it. Thank you.
The McCain family has found themselves having to respond to the President of the United States as he continually and very publicly goes after the late senator. Meghan McCain spoke out today in response to the latest bizarre statement by the President about wanting a thank you for John McCain's funeral and being clearly angry that he didn't get one.
She also referred to the family of my next guest, a Gold Star family -- a Gold Star father who knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of the President's attacks, Khizr Khan, the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 joins me next.
COOPER: It has clearly been a difficult week for the family of John McCain as the President has continually attacked the late senator, and yesterday revealed he is clearly angry because he did not receive some sort of a thank you for whatever role he believes he played in the country honoring John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:50:09] COOPER: Well, today, McCain's daughter, Meghan, addressed the latest comments and mentioned another family that has been on her mind.
(BEGI VIDEO CLIP)
MEGHAN MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: I don't expect decency and compassion from the Trump family. I do want to thank the American public for all the decency and compassion that they have given us. I just keep thinking of the Khan family, Khizr Khan, because they had to go through this when their son died. Can we take this off for a moment and turn it into something positive?
My personal favorite veteran's charity is the Freedom Team with the Achilles International. It's a team for wounded veterans where they run races and I've been involved with it for years. If you want to get involve and do something good out of all of this toxicity, go check out Achilles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The Gold Star Khan family, we should mention, who is also once disparaged by the President, Khizr Khan is the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004, he joins me now.
Mr. Khan, thank you very much for being with us as always. When you hear Meghan McCain referencing your family, I'm wondering given the comments being made lately by the President, what has been going through your mind?
KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER: Well, first, I wish to pay tribute to all of our veterans and their families, men and women serving in uniform and their families, and to McCain family for their valor, for their sacrifice and, of course, Senator McCain. He was --
COOPER: You knew him?
KHAN: Of course, of course. We had known him for years. I used to, after Captain Humayun Khan passed, we decided that we would present the gift of the book that Humayun read last and that book was Senator McCain's book that I sent to him. COOPER: "Why Courage Matters."
KHAN: "Why Courage Matters."
COOPER: So you actually sent Senator McCain's book to your son?
KHAN: A month before he died. And the secondary title of that book was "A Way to a Braver Life." And I asked him the last conversation I had, I said, "I sent you Senator McCain's book, have you read it?" He said, "Yes, I have read it. It's a wonderful book. Others are reading it in my camp."
And so we decided after he passed that this would be the book that we would give it to the commissioning cadets of the U.S. Army that were joining the United States Army. And we decided that how wonderful it would be if Senator McCain would be kind enough to inscribe the book.
So I took about 20 copies, because there were 20 cadets that were swearing in, in the army. And he said, "Well, why don't you next time bring their names so I could inscribe a personal note to them?" Next year I took the list of the cadets and he sat -- I sat across the table from him, individually each and every cadet received a personal quote from him. And that went on for years.
COOPER: Yes. For years, really, that was wow. The -- I mean, I hate to even kind of have a discussion with you in which we're talking about the attacks that the President has been making on John McCain. But, obviously I'm sure he hasn't surprise you the things he said. Does it make any sense to you why he would be doing this?
KHAN: Well, some things are not teachable, empathy, feeling, the pain that the other person may be feeling, cannot be taught. Some of us unfortunately are uneducated. And I wish somebody -- I know he has lots of good people around him, too. At least somebody should pick up that book, "Why Courage Matter: A Way to a Braver Life," and in easy English read it to him, maybe he will learn.
Not only he is President, we are focusing too much on President, he is commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. Commander-in- chief is obligated to take care of his soldiers, to take care of the men and women that have served, that are serving. He ought to have some compassion. And that is what is disappointing that he has compassion.
He has good words to say about Putin, our adversary. He has good words to say about Kim Jong-un, yet he disrespects our hero, he disrespects Senator McCain and his family. What a moment of shame for us to have such a commander-in-chief.
COOPER: You know, Cindy McCain put out some -- or at least one example of a very hateful message that she had received in the wake of all of this based on the President's comments. I'm wondering what your message to the McCain family would be. I mean, you --
[20:55:00] KHAN: Well, we are not without such messages. We don't talk about them. We simply hand them over to where those need to be given that America loves you, McCain family. Your valor, your sacrifice is acknowledged. It's in the history books, place of Senator McCain is in history books. He's a hero of this nation. His valor, his sacrifice, his family's valor and sacrifice is in the history books. No one will replace, we will never forget you.
This nation never forgets those who sacrifice for this nation and we will never forget Senator McCain. There is no one equal to him, no one better to him in this nation. We honor him. We honor his family. Be strong and have faith in the goodness of this nation. I have traveled throughout this nation and I have met -- majority of this nation is decent, kind, respectful people.
COOPER: It's interesting because the President, you know, recently gave a speech in which he talked about having the armed forces on his side, the police on his side, you know, sort of hinting at -- if there was civil problems or difficulties he has those -- the army and the police on his side and yet -- and he always says how much he supports the military and yet making these kinds of comments saying that somebody is captured -- you know, he doesn't seem to have any respect for somebody who's been captured or been a POW and tortured for six years.
KHAN: He presumes that they are on his side. He forgets that they are on the side of the United States. They are on the side of this nation. They are on the side of defense of this nation.
COOPER: That's the oath they take.
KHAN: That's the oath they take. Second thing is, is he on their side? This is not first time. He attacked Captain Humayun Khan's Gold Star mother. He attacked -- she was standing silent there. She was -- she did not utter a word, but he went after her. Then my daughter, Sergeant La David's widow, he attacked her, then now Senator McCain.
Senator McCain had passed seven months ago. There is limit. There is height of this clownishness. I really don't have the words to condemn his behavior except to say that that office, that place where he sits has not changed him a bit.
He's exactly saying what he was before the election, before he became candidate, how he has lived his life and this is a moment to pause for those who support him. Nothing has changed. He only has defrauded them as a hoaxer. He showed them something that is not there. Now they have seen the true Trump who supports Putin, Kim Jong-un, but does not support the hero of this nation.
Is he on the side of our men and women, our veterans and their families or he will continue to embarrass us? And the worst is yet to come. The reason is he is panicking now and he is -- he sees that the life that he has lived prior to coming into politics is unraveling, is coming to light. And as public is seeing it, would they remain standing on his side?
COOPER: Mr. Khan, I appreciate you being here. Thank you very much.
KHAN: Thank you.
COOPER: My best to your family.
Nearly 200 criminal counts, dozens of people and entities charged. The most important moment in the Mueller probe may be imminent. Up next, the road map that the special counsel has drawn as Washington and the world get ready tonight.