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NY Times: Some on Mueller's Team See Their Findings As More Damaging for President Trump Than Barr Revealed; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) California is Interviewed About Some on Mueller's Team Believing Findings Are More Troubling for Trump Than Barr Indicated. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news. New and potentially explosive reporting on what's in Robert Mueller's report that some of his investigators believe the attorney general failed to adequately portray in his summary. It just hit the homepage of "The New York Times".

The headline reads: Some on Mueller's team see the findings as more damaging for Trump than Barr revealed.

"The Times'" Mark Mazzetti shares the byline. He joins us now.

So, Mark, these investigators in Mueller's team, what exactly is about Barr's memo they're taking issue with?

MARK MAZZETTI, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, as we say in the story this is about how the narrative is shaped in these early days after this very consequential. As we know, Barr put out this kind of bare bones letter about the summaries and what we heard is there is some frustration among members of the team that it didn't really capture the extent of the findings, that there is a lot more in there that is, you know, more damning for President Trump.

And, you know, as we know, right after that came out, there was the President Trump and his allies saying clearly this is a full exoneration, and by the time that the report comes out and maybe in the next few days, maybe people's opinions have hardened or people have moved on.

So, it's really about shaping history at this point and thus far, the attorney general and the president have had the first say.

COOPER: Do we have any idea how wide spread the sentiment is among people in from Mueller's team?

MAZZETTI: We don't really. As we say in the story there were some investigators who had this view and we're still trying to capture the extent of it, but how wide spread it is we're still trying to determine.

COOPER: The investigators, they had actually written multiple summaries of the report, is that right?

MAZZETTI: Yes. We say in the story that there were at least two summaries that were put together of this report that we've reported and others have reported is some 400 pages. Now, we don't believe that the summaries were intended by the team to go out just wholesale right away, and there may have been sensitive material and there may have been grand jury material in those summaries. But the point of making the summaries and digesting the information some believe could have led to the attorney general putting more of that material in his initial letter to give a fuller picture of the conclusions of the Mueller investigation.

COOPER: And when it comes to the attorney general, his advisors, do they have any kind of issues with the way Mueller and his team have handled this?

MAZZETTI: Yes. We write that, you know, there's some grumbling on the other side that -- on one hand, they were worried that putting more information out might be derogatory towards people who don't get indicted and the precedent here, of course, is what Comey did in the Hillary Clinton investigation.

There also seems to be some grumbling that the Mueller team didn't come to a definitive conclusion on obstruction of justice. We know that according to Barr's letter, they did not make a judgment and Barr and his deputy Rod Rosenstein stepped in and made that decision. And there seems to be some grumbling among the attorney general's team that it was sort of -- it fell on their lap and they're taking heat for that.

COOPER: Interesting.

Mark, if you would stick around, we are joined by also former Republican House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers, former Nixon White House John Dean, and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Chairman Rogers, I'm just wondering what you make of this report.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think the 400-page report is going to be the summation of Donald Trump's summer camp experience. I mean, clearly, there has been some problems and he's had people around him have some problems and I think the report is more likely to do that. But if the conclusion from the report was there was no conclusion definitively which it appears --


ROGERS: Yes, collusion. And on the obstruction of justice, they couldn't make the determination. You know, they might find all of the ancillary material that would support one way or another and that's just going to be political fodder for the next two years.

I think they need to let Barr go through his review and then press event the report and find out if it reflects what the body of the report reflects. COOPER: Dana, Barr's review, there's a number of criteria that the

Department of Justice says he will use in order to redact things. His grand jury testimony is things that current investigations, obviously classified, but then there's another criteria -- and I don't want to get the wording wrong -- but some things that may do harm to a third party or a tangential third party which seems kind of broad.

[20:05:15] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does seem broad and that third party could be easily the president of the United States depending on what the issue is. So that is -- those are some of the reasons why you have seen and heard Democrats demanding and today went so far as to not just say it, but to take action with a subpoena for this entire report.

But I also think before we, you know, kind of scream from the rooftops that wait a second, we're not seeing it all, I agree with Chairman Rogers that, you know, it is entirely possible that we could see more than the Democrats are warning that we will. So, you know, obviously, what "The New York Times" is reporting is a warning shot from people in and around the Mueller investigation, whether or not that is because these people think that or actually smell a rat, and think that what they are wanting to get through to the American people with this report won't get through, or because they are frustrated with what they saw in the Barr summary -- which I should add the Barr summary did make pretty clear that Robert Mueller has some not so nice things to say about people in and around Trump world, vis-a-vis Russia even if he didn't have anything that he could actually prosecute them on.

COOPER: John, Democrats in Congress, they're upset about getting a redacted version of the Mueller report or potentially getting a redacted version and do you see this latest news of increasing the chances of a court fight between the Democrats and the Justice Department?

JOHN NIXON, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I don't think it will give them any reason to back down, exactly the opposite. This looks like there are some real differences between what Barr has framed the report as and what might actually be in the report. We know some generalities and we don't know specifics and those specifics could indeed shape our thinking.

So, I think there's going to be a push for detail and until that's out there, there will be no satisfaction.

COOPER: Everyone, if you can say there, I just want to bring in a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Democratic Eric Swalwell from California.

Congressman Swalwell, first of all, you reaction to this reporting from "The New York Times".


This is a clarion call for us to see this report immediately. When we step back, this investigation was about a foreign adversary attacking our elections and questions whether the candidate and his administration worked with the Russians, and we can't protect against future elections if we don't know what's in the report. The Republicans should go with their gut instinct. They voted before anyone knew what the report would show, to release it fully to the public, 420-0, they joined Democrats.

And the president with all of these questions swirling around with potential leaks going around should just order the attorney general, if he believes he's 100 percent exonerated to give us 100 percent of the report.

COOPER: Do you share the concern apparently of some of these investigators that Mueller's conclusions may have been solidified even before the report comes out?

SWALWELL: No, actually I don't because the public polls that I've seen from CNN, and NBC/"Wall Street Journal" shows that the public still believes that the president worked with the Russians and has questions about it. But I am just concerned, though that the Barr letter and his actions demonstrate that he's going to continue to protect the president and it's going to insulate him from us being able to know who he drew it through the election and we may need to go through a protracted litigation process when we need this report now.

COOPER: The reality is we don't know how many on Mueller's team may actually feel this way.

SWALWELL: That's right. Again, to get rid of any doubt that may hang over this report just released the report now. That's the best we can do. We don't want to see further leaks and leaks are not good for anyone, but I think the motivation for these leaks may be a severe mischaracterization of what the Mueller team found and how Attorney General Barr has described the investigation.

COOPER: In terms of Barr reportedly limiting the details and the concerns that if they included information that made the president look bad while at the same time clearing him, they would face the same kind of criticism Comey did over the Clinton investigation, essentially putting out bad information about somebody who they're not actually indicting. Is that fair?

SWALWELL: Well, the Comey investigation did not relate to a president of the United States. Here we have the president of the United States and just because he's not been criminally charged does not mean that there's not wrongdoing or that he didn't rise to the level of conduct that we'd want from a presidential candidate or from someone who's serving in the office.

[20:10:05] I think that public interest here in protecting future elections and understanding whether anyone in this administration is compromised by the Russians is very high.

COOPER: How much time does Attorney General Barr have before subpoenas are issued from the full report and underlying evidence? Is it a matter of days? Is it a matter of weeks? SWALWELL: Well, we voted today to authorize subpoenas so they could

be coming any minute now. I can't imagine this news story slows down when those subpoenas drop. But the reason we didn't go right for subpoenas is because we believe in the rule of law, and we believe that there's an honor code in America, which is that you follow a process of traditions and customs. We ask him for it voluntarily. If they don't give it to us, then we subpoena.

But we're not going to result in the dismissal of the rule of law that the president and his team have resulted in doing, but we're not going to be patient about this, either, because too much is at stake.

COOPER: Certainly, people from the Trump administration and the Department of Justice and others will say, look, if this report is unredacted and sent to members of Congress and the underlying, you know, documents are also sent even if it's not released to the public and even if it's sent to Congress, it's going to leak out.

SWALWELL: There are ways to protect against leaks, Anderson, and there isn't that much that should be redacted. We should redact any ongoing investigations and redact any sources and methods as they relate to national security.

But any grand jury conduct that does not relate to those two, the public should see. Again, this is not an ordinary citizen. This is the president of the United States, and we should all know especially a public that paid for this investigation what the investigation produced.

COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, appreciate your time. Thanks very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

COOPER: I want to bring back the group. Mark Mazzetti, from the Washington -- from "The New York Times" is here, the Washington investigative correspondent.

Mark, just -- for those who are just joining, can you say how many or how wide spread this feeling is or was among people from the Mueller team?

MAZZETTI: In the story, we don't characterize numbers. We say that the team numbered some 19 different lawyers and 40 different FBI agents. We know it is, you know, several members of this group and we haven't characterized it further. We're actually still trying to report out exactly the extent of this frustration among the group.

COOPER: And, do you -- I mean, I don't know if you can speak to motives of -- of the people who are talking about this. Is it a warning shot? Is it, you know, just the concern about what Barr has said?

MAZZETTI: Well, we've heard this from a number of different quarters and we've heard it from -- we talked to a lot of different sources in a lot of different places to put a report together that we're pretty confident in. And so, you know, it's -- we are certain that, you know, people's motives might be different in different cases and we said they've told associates about this. So, people's motives in some cases might be one thing and others might be another and we are, you know, still trying to get to the bottom of, you know, how the rest of the team might be feeling about this.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, I mean -- do you think the notion that we're hearing from Democrats in Congress is, you know, we want basically the unredacted -- Chairman Nadler was talking about an unredacted version going to members of Congress as well as underlying documents. It's been done in the Starr report. That I say that was obviously a different situation and it wasn't a special counsel. It was an independent counsel.

That notion of giving up underlying documents and the unredacted to Congress, isn't that part of their oversight role? Because that's what they're saying, this is part of the natural oversight role.

ROGERS: I mean, A, I think there's a process. And, listen, I've been on pretty big investigations and you're talking nearly 20 lawyers and 40 FBI investigators, and that means you will get 120 different opinions on what this looked like on the way out the door. And so, you have to be careful.

Stampede justice is dangerous. It's really dangerous. That's why there is a process. As a matter of fact, Jerry Nadler supported that process 20 years ago or maybe 30 years ago now, and I would argue support the process today.

If you don't like the outcome and by the way, I think we should see as much of this report as possible, but remember upon, it was a C.I. report, a counterintelligence investigation and that means there will be a high degree of information that's sensitive that does not help America's national security to become known or public.

And I do think it's right in our American justice system to protect those third parties who may have gotten -- remember someone in the investigation could have said oh, yes, I talked to Anderson Cooper five times about this and he told me exactly what to do, right?

[20:15:01] That goes down in a 302, the FBI agent hands it in and puts it as part of the file. The investigation determines that was bunk. He never had a conversation with Anderson Cooper.

The problem is, when that information goes public, that person gets dragged to the mud and has the opportunity to get their character assassinated. That's why we have a process. Let the process take hold. Let Barr go through the review, give it to Congress and then if they're not happy, let the fights begin.

But now, they're all saying, hey, I'm going to give you a quick trial and a very fair hanging. And it's all about the fair hanging that I'm interested in.

I don't think that's good for America if you like Trump or don't like Trump. COOPER: I want to pick this up. We got to take a short break.

Also later tonight, it's an eye-opening number, whatever you might think of the president, 22 false or misleading statements per day. It's way up from earlier in his presidency according to "The Washington Post". We'll talk about what that can mean. Keeping them honest tonight.


[20:20:12] COOPER: We're talking tonight about new reporting in "The New York Times" that for the first time opens a window directly into the Mueller investigation and it documents grumbling in the Mueller team about how Attorney General Barr has summed up their work, namely, according to "The Times", the source says the findings are more troubling to the president and the attorney general indicated in his four-page summary.

Back with Mark Mazzetti from "The New York Times". Joining the group, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.

Shan, what do you make of the reporting by Mark and others in "The New York Times"?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what struck me, Anderson is the idea that -- two thing, first, it's remarkable that there's anything resembling a leak. So that really means there's something that's really troubling to the Mueller team. I mean, even though it's not coming directly from them, but to associates, that's something that's never happened during the whole two years.

Second of all, what really struck me was the fact that the team supposedly has written summaries which would have been very carefully prepared and they are concerned that those summaries weren't used, and that really troubles me, as well because if the attorney general was doing this high-level summary and he already had at his disposal summaries that were written, it seems all the more troubling that he didn't use more quotes from the report.

COOPER: Mark, is it known what part of Barr's memo, obstruction or collusion that the investigators are taking issue with?

MAZZETTI: Not specifically. I think there's actually probably some of both in that is to Shan's point about the summary, yes, I do think that, you know, there was concern that there was not more taken from those summary, but I do want to be careful to point out as we do in the story that we've not heard that there was an expectation that the summaries would kind of be put out in lieu of our letter, that it would be put out in prime time without any redactions. We don't assert that in the story.

But, certainly, possibly something more than what Barr put out and as we know, he only, I think, quoted two partial sentences from the actual report?

COOPER: Yes. Dana, you know the president's pushback. He'll say this is just Mueller's angry Democrats. How likely do you think it is that the reporting from "The Times" might complicate the release of the report or do you think it would? The release of the full report?

BASH: I don't know that it would complicate the full release of the report because yes, you're right. The president has talked about angry Democrats, but it's still rich to hear a discussion and an argument about angry Democrats, and then in the same breath talk about the fact that he was completely vindicated by those same angry Democrats. So, you know, we'll see how they play that one.

But look, the key is and even Mark has been saying, there is a lot we still don't know about what the frustrations are, where they're coming from and about what parts of the Barr -- the Barr summary that was either in the Barr summary or more importantly, as Mark was saying left out of the Barr summary, and we'll know more about the answers to that when we actually, you know, get as much of the report as we're going to get.

It is hard to imagine that the people who are not just associated with are associates of these prosecutors, but the actual prosecutors themselves are not going to make what they think and what they feel and what they learned more clear?

COOPER: John, do you think this is going to end up with Mueller being asked to testify?

DEAN: I have no doubt that at some point he will testify. Exactly when is another question. If Barr somehow seems to over-redact the report when it comes up or the whole process may come into question and I think a lot of people are curious as to why he didn't reach a decision on the obstruction.

Apparently, according to the reporting of "The Times" there was some displeasure at justice that that decision wasn't made. There's also nothing in the regs that entitled them to jump in and make it. So, I've -- I don't know how this will all get sorted out less somebody like Mr. Mueller testified.

COOPER: You say there's nothing in the regulations that allows them to make it, meaning the Mueller team to make it?

DEAN: No. The Mueller team can make it. It's the Barr people that are -- there's nothing in the regs that authorizes them to the contrary. Those regs are set up so political people are not making these kinds of decisions and it's why we have the special counsel.

[20:25:01] And given the fact he couldn't make a decision, it appears he was punting that over to Congress, not to Barr.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, is that what should have happened? That it's not Barr who should make that decision about it. It should have been punted over to Congress?

ROGERS: Well, I would -- I might disagree with the term that they punted it over to Congress. I think the special counsel made a determination based on their ability to find enough facts to reach that probable cause to take to court believe that there could be a conviction. That happens every day all across America, and sometimes they don't have enough facts to make it.

What I think we will see now and I think Mueller should get the opportunity to testify before Congress, but what we -- it would be great if we can actually have a thoughtful, substantive conversation in Congress about the details of this report. I'm not sure we're ever going to get there. Their hair is on fire and people are so irrational.

So when he does that, what we're trying -- I think what the special counsel was trying to avoid was what happened with Comey when he tried to play that game of, well, she wasn't guilty, but, boy, she did a lot of really bad things, that certainly was not helpful and really not his place. I don't think it was Mueller's place either. I think his place to say, I couldn't find collusion and I didn't have enough -- I just didn't feel material to move forward on an indictment for obstruction.

And so, that's -- you know, I think we have to back up and take a deep breath. Congress is going to get their bite of this apple. I don't think he put it there. I think he just said, here's what I found. Good luck. Have a nice day.

COOPER: I've got to get a break in. Much more when we come back.

And next, the other big breaking story. The chairman of the House, Ways and Means Committee requesting copies of President Trump's tax returns.


COOPER: More breaking news that CNN was first to report. House Democrats are opening their new front in the investigation of the president. They want his taxes, citing a little-known IRS provision, Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the House, Ways and Means Committee formally requested six years of the President's personal taxes covering 2013 to 2018. He also asked for the tax returns of eight Trump business entities.

In a statement to CNN, the chairman stressed that the committee's request was about, in his words, policy, not politics. Republicans will certainly disagree. The chairman set next Wednesday as the deadline. As for the President, he of course -- his law (ph) maintain that he'd love to release his taxes, but can't because he's under audit.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the audit is complete, I'll release my returns. I have no problem with it.

I'm releasing when we're finished with the audit.

It depends on the audit, not a big deal. By the way, just so you understand, I've released my papers, 104 pages of documents. I will release my tax returns against my lawyer's wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted.

We're under audit despite what people said and we're working that out. I'm always under audit, it seems.


COOPER: Well, that last sound bite was from late today. We should point out that the President has never produced any official evidence that he is, in fact, under audit. And in any case, being audited doesn't mean you can't answer your tax returns to anyone you wish.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez who sits on the Ways and Means Committee. Thank you so much for being with us, Congresswoman. The President saying he's not incline to shares return with your committee. How much of a say does he have in the matter?

REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: Actually, he doesn't have any say because the request was not made to the President. The request for the statute was made to the IRS commissioner and we expect the IRS commissioner to comply with the law.

The section that grants authority to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to request individual tax returns that has been made interestingly by chairmen of both parties and in every case when that has been -- that request has been made, it's been fulfilled, so there's no precedence for not providing them.

COOPER: The President's claim that he's been making for years and made against today that he's been and continues to be under audit, do you expect to be able to find of verify if that's actually true or not?

SANCHEZ: Absolutely. We are going to find out whether it's the truth or whether it's another lie that the President has been telling us. That's part of the request that Chairman Neal submitted.

COOPER: I mean, that would certainly be fascinating to find out one way or the other. But, you know, to those who might look at this and say, look, this is a politically motivated phishing expedition, it's not in fact congressional oversight, to that you say what?

SANCHEZ: Well, the President said that he would release them so I don't understand what the big deal is. I mean, he's said that on several occasions as many of the clips that you've just shown have proved. If he's got nothing to hide, release the tax returns.

I think personally the American people have a right to know whether or not he's benefiting from the very policies that he's pushing, whether or not he's cheating on his taxes, whether or not he's paying his fair share, whether he's enriching himself and violating the public trust. All of those can be determined, I think, if we can get the tax returns. COOPER: The President seems surprised today that your committee is only asking for six years of tax returns and not 10. Why are you focusing on six years?

SANCHEZ: That's a question I think that's better put to Chairman Neal. He is the one who has been methodically laying the groundwork and making sure that he made the request in the right way possible. It's, you know, better to get it done correctly than to rush and hastily make the request and perhaps at that President.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how soon? I mean, I know you've set a deadline -- the committee has set a deadline for this, but do you know what the process for this is?

SANCHEZ: Well, again, the request has gone to the IRS commissioner and in the past, every request to that has been made of the IRS commissioner subject to the statute which grants the chairman the authority to make the request has been fulfilled. So there is no precedence for denying the request of the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

COOPER: Congresswoman Sanchez, obviously we'll be following this. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, author of "The Truth about Trump," and most recently, "The Shadow President: The Truth about Mike Pence." And back with us is former Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

How significant could this be? I mean, six years of tax returns. The whole notion of an audit, we don't know if that's actually true or not. We haven't seen (INAUDIBLE) if there is an audit.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, we don't. No, and the six years is interesting because that's generally the statute of limitation for fraud committed on your taxes. So I think this is a very well-targeted request.

Now, the President faces peril in multiple areas here. He faces the prospect of being shown to not have made charitable contributions, to not be worth what he says he's worth, to not have the income he's claimed to have.

He could be found to have been involved in money laundering, say he sold a unit of a Trump property for three times its real worth. Why did he accept so much money knowing that it could possibly be money laundering from ill-gotten gains abroad?

[20:35:07] There are so many areas where he could have committed fraud. He's claimed one value for properties for tax purposes, others values for properties for the purpose of seeking loans. So, bank fraud is in some respect a much more serious crime than tax fraud. So, he's in big trouble here.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, you've been speaking with some of the President's allies. What are they telling you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, nobody I've spoken with has actually seen the President's tax returns. But just on the substance of it, what they're telling me is their suspicion is either one or both of the following.

A, if anybody does end up seeing his tax returns, it will show that he didn't pay as much as other people in his tax bracket should, but he has good accountants so that's why. Or B, he's not as rich as he says he is. So, you know, what -- to that base sort of shrug their shoulders in terms of a political ramification of that.

COOPER: John, I mean --

BASH: Certainly -- as you say, certainly what we just heard about potential bank fraud and all of that, you know, that's not something that we could know at all right now.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: But quickly in terms of the politics of this. You know, what I was looking at to ask people who really are tracking this because the President is very much in 2020 mode whether or not this is going to potentially have an impact on any swing voter if they still exist out there and the answer was to people who are candid about this in terms of the President's politics, probably not. And they're actually hoping, these are Trump allies, that Democrats are going to make the President a sympathetic person in an area that nobody would see and find any sympathy for him.

COOPER: It is. I mean, it's interesting idea, John, the idea that Dana raises that -- in this hearing from people that, you know, by launching investigation after investigation and Democrat say, "Look, this is our oversight role and we're able to do this and this is what we should be doing," that it's actually going to create -- it's going to seem like too much and it's going to create sympathy for the President in this sense.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I witness the President under this kind of scrutiny and I must tell you, Anderson, Nixon did not draw a lot of sympathy particularly when they got around to his tax return, which was requested under this statute, he voluntarily send it up to the Joint Tax Committee, which is the finance committee, the Ways and Means and Joint Tax are the statute that's involved here and Nixon said, "Go ahead and audit." And he did -- they did, and he was a half million dollars shy on paying taxes. I mean, a half million dollars was a lot more than it is today.

COOPER: Mike, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was asked last month what would happen if request like his ever came in. I just want to play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Based upon the request, we'll examine it and we will follow the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.

MNUCHIN: I would expect that we would -- I'm not aware if there's ever been a request for an elected official's tax return, but we will follow the law and we will protect the President as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.


COOPER: Should the administration comply with this request?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I think so. I'm not sure they're going have a choice. It's going to the IRS commissioner. I think that, you know, there are certain and it's really very boxed off. Very few people can actually see it. But I don't know -- I mean, to fight this one, I think they might be facing some peril. They may try to delay it.

And I agree with Dana on this that the one problem with it is they're so overboard, 80-some, you know, subpoenas, they're going after everything, now they're making a big deal with his tax returns. I think what happens is he does become a victim.

And I disagree a little bit with Mr. Dean in the sense that this is a little bit different and they're coming at him every way that they possible can. And at some point, it's overwhelming. People think, "Gee, you know, my healthcare is kind of screwed up and I hit 18 potholes on the way to work this morning. I'm not sure what they're doing back there in Washington," that plays in the President's favor.

That said, I think he should comply. He makes his -- he shoots himself on the foot on these things by just trying to drag it out. He ought to put it together, comply, keep it compartmentalized and move on.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, to the chairman's point, that's what Nancy Pelosi had kind of spoken to. I think it was the last week or two weeks ago or three weeks ago. The time is all sort of truncated now. But essentially saying, look, Democrats should not be focusing, you know, everything on these investigations and need to be talking about health care, and infrastructure, and the economy, and all of the things that did well for them in 2018.

BASH: That's exactly right, and they're trying to do that. When you look at the legislative calendar, what the House Democrats are talking about and working on, there are things like health care and other issues.

[20:40:03] The problem is the oxygen as it always has since Donald Trump has entered the political scene goes to all things Donald Trump. And the fact is she has a series of committee chairmen who are now armed with a gavel who are doing their oversight job and they have requested a lot of information, just the latest today was a biggie, which is the tax returns.


BASH: And it is just impossible to, you know, get -- to get, you know, sort of headlines for things that just aren't, frankly, as politically sexy although very important, incredibly important and a lot more important to the American people.

COOPER: You know, Michael, I mean -- again, the claim by the President of the audit which is something that's never really been proven, there is no reason why he can't -- even if being audited, that he -- I mean, I feel like we covered this (INAUDIBLE).

D'ANTONIO: Well, there has to be a reason why he didn't release them during the campaign, think about it. This is --

COOPER: Well, I mean -- but, I mean, it could be something as simple as he doesn't, you know, he's exaggerated his wealth which, again, is at this point like, OK, who really cares.

D'ANTONIO: But he's a fantasist. So these fantasies are very important to him. He holds on to them. These are elements of his identity and it was an element of his appeal. He was the great businessman who was going to go down and drain the swamp. Well, he hasn't drained the swamp and it's looked to me and it has looked to reporters for many decades as if the President is not the great businessman he's ever claimed to be.

COOPER: John, I mean, the President sure to -- probably fight this. It does seem like there's a process for this and it's from the IRS. What tools does he have at his disposal to block this? Does he have any?

DEAN: Well, he has few because the request is to IRS. And, Anderson, as the chairman mentioned, the rules of secrecy about disclosure of these returns once they go to the Ways and Means Committee are very tight. This will be -- without the taxpayers' consent, they really can't release any of that information. It's almost as tightly held as it would be at IRS.

So, I don't think the President has immediate problems with this becoming public knowledge and the Ways and Means Committee is very much of an establishmentarian committee. They play by the rules there and so I don't think it's an immediate danger for the President if he loses and it goes right up to the committee.

COOPER: Yes. Everyone, thanks very much. And to Michael D'Antonio's description of the President's approach to the truth, we'll keep him honest on that next.


COOPER: If the House Ways and Means Committee prevails, President Trump will have to turn over six years worth of tax returns. Now, as we showed you in the last segment, he's repeatedly promised to make his taxes public just as soon as what he alleges is an IRS audit is completed. He said the same today.

Now, it bears repeating, he has not produced any evidence he is actually being audited. And even if he was, it would not preclude him from putting out the returns.

[20:45:03] During the campaign into his administration, his audit claim was just one of many unfounded or factually shaking, misleading or outright false statements on his part. For those who knew him before he gone to politics, it wasn't especially surprising, as he wrote or as his ghost writer Tony Schwartz wrote for him in "The Art of the Deal," "People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion."

Which is one thing when you're, you know, pinching Gold Leaf Condos with sub-zero appliances, it's another when you're a President. Now that said, we've all kind of gotten jaded to the fact that our President, whether you like him or dislike him or even care, is a habitual liar. And in the time it took for all the lying to become almost normal something else happened. It seemed to have accelerated.

According to "The Washington Post's" fact checking team, the President of the United States made an average of 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office, which is staggering. However, in the last 200 days or so, he's been averaging 22 false or misleading statements per day. As of April 1st, it adds up according to "The Post," 9,451 false or misleading claims over 801 days. Here is a sample from just the last 24 hours.


TRUMP: So what they've done over the years is they release them into the United States and they say come back in four years for a trial and nobody comes back. I guess 1 percent, 1 percent to 2 percent on average comes back. They arrange these caravans and they don't put their best people in those caravans.

In the meantime, we're releasing you into our country. Now, only 2 percent come back for the trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Mitch McConnell ask you to delay this?

TRUMP: No, I wanted to delay it myself.

My father is German, right, was German, and born in a very wonderful place in Germany and so I have a great feeling for Germany.

The largest tax cuts in the history of our country. If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. America now has the hottest economy anywhere in the world and they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Just quickly to run down those statements in order, the no show written immigration case is certainly substantial is far from 98 percent. There's no evidence Central American governments are arranging the caravans and putting their not best people in them.

Mitch McConnell himself says he asked the President to delay work on replacement for Obamacare. The President's father was born in New York, not Germany. His father's father was from Germany. The Trump tax cuts, the large were about a third of the size of President Reagan's.

Real estate experts say windmills do decrease property values, but by nowhere near 75 percent. The economy is growing here, but it's growing far faster in other countries and there's no evidence that noise from wind turbines cause cancer, none, not even truthful hyperbole.

To be charitable to the President, some of those statements do have a small kernel of truth, like content to them, but out of that seed usually grows a big honking falsehood. Some of it is ridiculous like in a funny, shake your head type of way. Not all of it is, some of it is kind of weirder.

I mean, what does it say when you tell someone your dad was born some place other than where he was actually born? Why say that? And it's not the first time he said that it wasn't like a slip of the tongue, it's actually the third time he said that. He seems to do it when he's talking to someone from Europe or talking about European issues.

And why, if you're the President of the United States, would you tried out some fact-free assertion about windmill noise causing cancer? It's possible it's a throwback to him losing a battle in Scotland to keep windmills away from his golf course, but cancer? And don't even get us started on the whole they say or some say the excuse that he used. It's one of those tricks like get out of jail free card. When you're called out on an absorb claim, you say, well, I just said that they say.

There is another level of kind of dark or weird he went to yesterday using a lie to lay groundwork for conspiracy, his belief that any election that he or his allies happen to lose should come under suspicion for being rigged.


TRUMP: You better watch those vote tallies. You know, I keep hearing about the election and the various counting measures that they have. There were a lot of close elections that were -- they seemed to every single one of them went Democrat. If it was close, they say the Democrat, where there's something going on? You've got to -- hey, you've got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are, OK?

Look all these beautiful people, these beautiful Republican congressmen and women, but we have to be a little bit careful because I don't like the way the votes are being tallied. I don't like it and you don't like it either, you just don't want to say it because you're afraid of the press. You're afraid of the press, but we have to be careful.


COOPER: OK. So he said similar things in the run-up to the election in 2016 as well as in the wake of him suggesting with no evidence that millions of people voted illegally, that's when he was the winner. Who knows what he would say if he's not.

[20:50:08] Perspective now from two points view, joining us, former Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Mike Shields and "New York Times" op-ed columnist Charles Blow.

Mike, what is in it for the President to just lie about something like windmills causing cancer or my dad was born in Germany? I mean, I get policy issues and maybe, you know, making a mistake on something, but -- I mean the Germany thing he's repeated three times always when talking about European stuff in front of Europeans does it make any sense to you?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there's a couple of things here. On the windmill one, you know, the President sees himself as an entertainer, and I think you can have a whole conversation about is that appropriate or should the President do that? And that's a way to cover that, I think differently than how this gets covered, because now we have articles coming out about whether or not windmill turbines cause cancer and that sort of thing.

COOPER: Right. By the way, it was the sound of the windmill.

SHIELDS: The sound of it, right. But you can hear the crowd laughing. There's a lot of things that came out of the speech last night. He talked for I think 2.5 hours to a huge audience and he's entertaining them. And he's saying things off the cup that he's not thinking, "Oh, this is a policy position the White House is going to put out."

And so then the press kind of runs to cover it and doesn't cover other things and in some ways does what he wants, which is I'm going to say some outrageous things. You guys are all going to cover it and now I'm sort of in control of the narrative. And so --

COOPER: Is it weird, though -- but, is it weird, though, that he feels the need to entertain? I mean, he's the President of the United States. He is not an entertainer. Is it weird that he, I mean, that he feels the need to entertain so he, I assume, can get some, you know, laughs and love back and it makes him feel good to get that response. Isn't that sort of a weakness?

SHIELDS: No. Look, this is a President who, you know, when CNN's doing the 2010s in 30 years, the documentary, the image of that will be with him with Kim Kardashian in the Oval Office.

I mean, this is a guy who had a number one show on NBC on Sunday nights. He is an entertainer. He sees himself that way. He sees his communication style that way. So I don't just think it's just what's going on in the moment. I think he tries to tap into something an America by being an entertainer and he doesn't really care what the facts and figures are along the way. And the public is in on the joke and they know that about him. They know that that's who he is.

And so, we keep covering him to do fact check, fact check, fact check and I don't really think it has a huge impact. I think the media has to do that.

COOPER: I mean, Charles -- I mean, I agree it may not have a huge impact at all. I just think it happens to matter whether he's saying this in an entertaining manner that you can't believe -- I mean, normally you would sort of want to believe what the President says in just casual conversation like, "Oh, yes, my dad was born in Germany." You would think like, "Oh, OK, yes. OK." But, no, actually, it turns out that's not the case.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually agree with Mike on the entertainment part of it. I take it more from the supporting part more than from his part. Yes, he may think of himself as an entertainer, but never underestimate the degree to which Americans and people in general want to be entertained.

That at a certain point he becomes folk hero, and the only betrayal that a folk hero can submit is to betray the people, the folk. And he is doing the exact opposite. He just cuddles them and plays to them and reaches out to no one else, so to them he's folk hero. And I think we've seen this character before, just not as the President, right?

So I think you can look Evan Edwards (ph) probably, (INAUDIBLE) also criminal went to jail. You knew -- I was in Louisiana. You knew he wasn't telling the truth. You knew he wasn't above board. You knew he was a womanizer and people loved him.

My mother loved Evan Edwards, right, because he became folk hero and that transcends the general rules about whether or not they're always telling the truth or not or whatever. And I think you can do -- you can look at LePage in Maine, you can look at the mayor of Toronto, you can look at Marion Barry in D.C. He goes to jail, comes back, gets re-elected.

People say I like this person. They're generally oriented in the direction I like. They are fighting for me against the establishment and whatever. And that means that they don't have to play by the same rules.

I look at the people in the -- in those audiences, people who have responded to these polls and I'm thinking, in their personal lives they know exactly what the truth is and it matters a lot. They're not -- they would be upset or in trouble if they cheated on their wife or husband. They don't do it.

They go to work and they can't lie to their boss like the President lies to them. And they know the difference between right and wrong, but in their life the rules matter. But in this entertainment forum with this folk hero, they suspend that because they like him in general.

[20:55:08] COOPER: That's interesting. Mike, I mean, do you think if -- is this something that it's only -- I mean, if this was President Obama and President Obama had, you know, 9,451 false or misleading claims over 801 days, would you be making the same argument or would Republicans be making the same argument that, like, "Oh, look, this is people like him and this doesn't -- it's not really having an effect and, you know, you're missing out on other things."

SHIELDS: I think part of the effect there is that President Obama did say things that weren't true and that a lot of people who are the President's supporters, A, they think every politician says things that aren't true, so they just kind of write it off.

I mean, politicians are not the place they go to get the source of fact because they know that politicians are saying things for their agenda and bending the truth and that they all do it.

And then secondly, the hardcore Republicans don't feel like the press held Obama nearly as accountable as they should, and so they kind of -- they get into sort of their tribal sort of partisan ways of looking at that and just write it off.

COOPER: Mike Shields --

BLOW: But there's no parity between Obama and Trump on the truth. I mean, we have to just say that.

COOPER: The numbers, yes.

BLOW: I mean, just come on.

COOPER: Charles blow, thank you, Mike Shields as well.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Big night. We knew we were going to get here. The longer the Mueller report doesn't come out, the more there's going to be a crisis of confidence.

Now, you have "The New York Times" reporting that some of Mueller's team says the AG didn't appropriately characterize their findings. There is more stuff in there that's bad for the President.

Look, this is what's going to happen. There's going to be pushback. It's going to be ugly. The more that comes out, the better. So in looking at that, what do the Democrats do? They subpoena the report and now we have a member of the House, Ways and Means Committee, they're asking for the taxes, years of personal and professional taxes. Why? We have a member of the committee on. We'll talk about it.

And, I was joking about the Chinese lady going to Mar-a-Lago. I thought it was just a funny story. Now, the Intel community is like, "No, this isn't funny. This is a problem." We'll find out why from somebody who knows the job tonight.

COOPER: All right. Chris, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: President Trump is downplaying what appears to have been a security breach at Mar-a-Lago. He told reporters this evening he wasn't concerned, described it as a fluke situation.

This as a U.S. official says the FBI has entered the investigation. It's looking into whether it was an espionage effort. Authorities say woman with two Chinese passports got past an initial security check at the club. They say she have four cell phones, a thumb drive with malware on it.

Chris is going to have more on this. Let's hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?