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California Synagogue Reels After Deadly Mass Shooting; Army Veteran Charged with Plotting Attack Near L.A.; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is Interviewed About the Ongoing Presidential Election, and His Calls on Candidates to Sign Trade Pledge; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Barr's Upcoming Testimony. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's hard to say good evening when the passage of days is marked by one mass killing after the next. However, the man you will hear from tonight in just a moment makes it easier, which is remarkable. Even more so is the fact he can speak and inspire, tonight, of all nights, after what he has seen, after what he has lived there and survived and after what was done to the congregation he loves.

His name is Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. On Saturday, his congregation just outside San Diego became the site of the country's second mass shooting at a synagogue in the last six months. The Rabbi Goldstein was wounded as were two congregants. Another, Lori Gilbert Kaye, put herself between him and the gunman and was fatally wounded. The rabbi called her angelic as you will hear him say in a moment.

Even as she probably saved his life and even as an army veteran named Oscar Stewart ran towards the gunfire to help federal authorities in Los Angeles, federal authorities in Los Angeles had another former soldier in custody who authorities say was planning what might have been the next mass casualty attack on a place of worship. He was, they say, and these are their words, consumed with hate and bent on mass murder.

And today, they went public with new details.

Our Jessica Schneider joins us now with breaking news on that new terror plot -- Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is a 26- year-old former army soldier who thoughts say had the desire to attack any number of people. He considered targeting Jews, churches, and police officers, but it was just days ago that he settled on plotting against a rally that was being organized by a white nationalist group in Long Beach, California.

So authorities say this suspect took all of the steps to execute his attack. He worked with an FBI informant to gather all of the materials for a homemade bomb and he even purchased three-inch nails to be used as shrapnel. Now, this complaint details very specifically how this suspect wanted that nail size in particular because he believed that they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs. But really the joint terrorism task force is to thank here. They

stepped in to thwart this attack on Friday night, right after the suspect staked out that Long Beach rally site and even received some of these bombing materials from the FBI informant who was working on this case for weeks.

But, Anderson, there was a lot concerning about this case to federal authorities, even though they caught him on Friday. This was someone who seemed to be radicalized very quickly online, saying he would pledge allegiance to ISIS and he wanted revenge for those mosque attacks in New Zealand last month.

Also concerning is the fact that he had weapons registered to him. He talked repeatedly about using his AK-47 style rifle to drive around and shoot up cop cars and businesses in L.A. and, of course, Anderson, also that military background as well. He served for several years in the U.S. Army.

COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, appreciate that update.

Again, even as that suspect was being taken into custody, a killer was preparing to attack the Chabad synagogue in the San Diego suburb of Poway, California. There was breaking news on that as well. It turns out the FBI was given word of a threatening anti-Semitic post by someone using the accused killer's name on the message board 8chan. Sadly, the tip came five minutes before the shooting Saturday during Chabad service.

Rabbi Goldstein had just finished comforting Lori Kaye who was there mourning the death of her own mother. That's when the suspected gunman, apparently a white supremacist, opened fire. We're not saying his name obviously because it serves no purpose to give him the kind of recognition that he may have been seeking because it means spending less time learning about the woman whose life he took or the rabbi she died protecting.

I spoke with Rabbi Goldstein earlier this evening.


COOPER: Rabbi Goldstein, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us tonight. How are you doing physically, emotionally? How are you moving forward?

RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, WOUNDED IN SYNAGOGUE ATTACK: I'm not sure myself. It is -- I'm just in a state of numbness. Losing a limb, losing a finger, I'm not sure if this finger is going to survive, is the least of my issues.

I am dealing with a lot greater issues. I'm dealing with what happened on Saturday morning at my house of worship. I'm dealing with what -- witnessing a long family friend, pioneering member, Lori Kaye, being gunned down in our home of worship.

[20:0:02] She came there to pray. She came there to memorialize her mother who recently passed away, and she lost her life due to the act of a terrorist, of pure evil, pure hate that has no place in America. This must stop.

COOPER: Tell me a little bit about Lori Kaye, if you will. I understand she was really a founding member of your congregation.

GOLDSTEIN: Lori Kaye, if I could personify her in one word, she was an angelic woman, a woman who acted like an angel -- kind, giving, vivacious, always there by everyone's life cycle event. A contributing member of society to an extent.

She used to work for Wells Fargo and we needed a construction loan. This was back in 1995, to begin building our campus. And we couldn't secure the loan, but she made it her business to climb up the ladder at Wells Fargo and to secure us a loan so we could begin building our building. It was that same building that she's instrumental in getting us built that she was killed in.

COOPER: And I understand she was at your daughter's wedding just two weeks ago in Brooklyn.

GOLDSTEIN: She and her husband came to be at their wedding. She was so excited to be there, and she was dancing so joyfully with our daughter that our daughter just -- the bride just showed me that picture yesterday, and we are both looking at it in tears, seeing one moment such joy and the next moment she is gone.

COOPER: Can you -- I don't want to ask you to relive what happened, but I think it is important for people to know what had happened to -- to you, to your congregation, to us all as you told me before in the break. What do you remember about what went on?

GOLDSTEIN: Sadly, it is a memory that I will never forget for as long as I live. Losing the finger is a scar. The finger is never going to grow back, but I'm going to grow stronger from it.

Saturday morning we'd come to services. It is the last day of Passover. We just had seven days of celebrating our Jewish freedom and independence. At 11:00, I'm getting ready to prepare for my sermon and to read from the prophets.

I go to my office to freshen up. I come back out. I see Lori. She asks me what time is the memorial service, letting me know that her daughter, her only daughter, Hannah, the only child, is coming from L.A. to sit with her for the special occasion.

I come out of my office. I see her once again, which would be the last time I see her, and we smile at each other, nodding at each other. And I'm walking towards the ballroom where the washing sink is.

As soon as I turn my back, within seconds I hear the blasts of these four loud blast noises. I don't know what it is. I think it is a table turned over. I turn around and I see this gunman, this young teenager, standing eye-to-eye with me, his gun -- his rifle facing right at me. I know that in the ball room behind me are the children playing, my two grandchildren were there. My grandson was sleeping in the stroller. I turned around to save them and the gunfire erupts again right at me.

My hand in reflex flies up and my fingers get shot out. I run and I grab the children and I shout at the top of my voice everyone should evacuate.

I bring the children to safety. I come back and there's utter silence and I'm fearing the worst. I'm fearing that every member of my family congregation were just murdered, but I come back to discover that the gunman, the shooter, the murderer, the terrorist has fled the scene, and that most of my congregation was alive with the exception of Lori Kaye, is laying there on the floor.

Her husband, Dr. Howard, is trying to resuscitate her. He passes out and faints.

[20:10:00] Their daughter, Hannah, comes out, leaning over her parents on the floor, a sight out of the pogrom base, a sight out of the Holocaust Kristallnacht base. This does not belong in Poway, California. This does not belong in the United States of America.

We have the constitutional rights to be free people, to practice religion in freedom. We came here running from the darkness of the Holocaust to a safe haven, to be free people, and now, we're being gunned down in our house of worship. This is wrong.

I go and I assess the situation and I see how distraught my congregants are. I see where they're all huddled in shelter. I get up on a chair and I scream out loud with my finger dangling and bleeding and I say the most powerful words, Am Israel Chai -- the nation of Israel is alive!

And do not fear and do not falter because God is protecting us and we will survive and we will grow and we will get stronger and stronger. No terrorist will take us down! No darkness and evil in the world will take us down.

For thousands of years, there's been Holocaust, genocides, pogroms. Anti-Semitism has risen again in America.

This man wrote the manifesto, two months he was planning this massacre. He had hate and evil in him. This must stop, and I'm hoping that the tragedy that happened at our congregation would be the impetus to rethink what is the problem, why have we gone wrong.

America was built on religious values. In God we trust. Our Founding Fathers of America wanted our children to grow up with God in their lives, with a spiritual life to them. Why did they take prayer out of the public schools?

When Ronald Reagan was shot, my rabbi (INAUDIBLE) launched a campaign that THE public schools should introduce a moment of silence. I'm hoping to get legislation to reintroduce that, that children when they start their day should take a moment of silence to think about themselves and to realize that they are children of God, that they have a soul, that they are created in the image of God, to value life, and to value more of life than just the materialism, that there's a spiritual dimension to life.

I want to conclude that people should realize and recognize that God has given us a blessed country, United States of America. Amazing values which we are so grateful for.

Let's go back to the basics. Let's bring back the religious freedoms that we have. Let's give our children opportunity to have a moment of silence. Let's embrace each other.

I have to tell you, the love that I have had from all religions has been incredible. The togetherness, the unity all across the board that came to us in Poway is the American spirit.

I had a phone call yesterday from our president, Mr. Donald Trump, who spent 15 minutes with me, comforting me, consoling me. He shared my pain.

And for me, that was such a blessing. It really brought comfort to us, that the United States of America would take 15 minutes of his day to review what happened and to bring comfort and consolation to us. We are very blessed and thankful for that.

COOPER: What do you do to stand up to hate? What can we do to stand up to hate? We've seen it in Charlottesville two years ago, people marching through the streets with torches, chanting Jews will not replace us and blood and soil. We have seen it at the tree of life synagogue months ago, and now we're seeing it here.

How does one stand up to the hatred, to the hateful ideas that are percolating?

GOLDSTEIN: To me, it is all about actions, not speech. Positive actions create light. Random acts of kindness and goodness, love, care creates light and pushes away darkness.

It's a war. It is a war out there. It is a war of darkness and a war of light. Our job is -- my job is to go out there and do random acts of kindness. Just create positivity in the world. That's the only way we're going to win this war.

COOPER: And how do you move forward in your faith with your congregation after something like this has happened? I mean, it is unthinkable, somebody coming in to a house of worship.

[20:15:01] And, unfortunately, we have seen it time and time again, but how do you continue to move forward and believe that there is meaning or there is -- that any of this makes some sort of sense?

GOLDSTEIN: My very first response was I sent out a request to all of my Jewish brothers and sisters, this coming weekend let's fill up our buildings. What this murderer tried to do is to frighten us to come to our house of worship.

How do we counter that? Let's march into synagogue. Let's fill up the synagogue as if it is Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let's fill up our buildings this week. Shout out loud, (INAUDIBLE). Let's shout out, let's sing. That's how we conquer, with strength, with power, with courage.

We learn what happens in Israel when there are terrorist attacks there. The next morning, we're back in business. We don't let them deter us for one second because terrorism will not win, but we will win. Goodness and kindness will win.

We have a Torah, we have a God, we have morals and ethics that we teach, that we follow. Random acts of kindness. Be positive. Be optimistic.

Yesterday is all history. Tomorrow is yet a mystery. Today is a gift from God. That's why it is call a present.

Live in the present and look forward to greater and better times, and we could all do it together. We are all in this together.

This was our tragedy. This is not my tragedy, my congregation. This is an American tragedy, and we're going to rebuild from this tragedy and get stronger and better for it.

COOPER: Rabbi Goldstein, I appreciate your time and I wish you and your congregation peace and strength in the days ahead.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate it.


COOPER: An American tragedy, as he said. A lot more ahead tonight, starting next with Senator Bernie Sanders, his thoughts on the tragedy, and I will ask him about a new trade pledge he is asking the president and his fellow candidates to make.

Later, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee on his panel showdown with Attorney General Barr over testimony this week. Two questions, will Barr show up and what will Democratic lawmakers who control the committee do if the nation's top law enforcement official defies them?


[20:21:41] COOPER: Before the break you heard from the rabbi who now has the sad duty of burying a member of his congregation and the challenge of helping heal his community and our community.

As you heard him say, he took comfort from President Trump who spoke with him after the tragedy. Former Vice President Biden campaigning in Pittsburgh today condemned the attack, telling the crowd they are part of a battle for the country's soul.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is also weighing in. I spoke to him shortly before air time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Senator, I want to get to your new trade pledge in a moment, but first I know you tweeted about the California synagogue shooting over the weekend. I just spoke to Rabbi Goldstein, head of the congregation. He was adamant it should be a turning point, that America has to have some sort of a reckoning over violence and hate speech.

Do you see that happening?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is what must happen, you know. I was at the synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people were killed. We're seeing a nation today, Anderson, where the number of hate crimes are going up, hatred against Muslims, against Jews, against African-Americans, against gay people and that has to come together.

We need a president -- you know, one of the reasons I'm running for president is we need a president who brings people together as Americans, not tries to divide them up. So obviously we need a turning point. We need to reach out to our brothers and our sisters and to the minority communities in this country and just try to tamp down that horrible hatred which is growing every single day.

COOPER: I want to talk about your new trade pledge. You're asking President Trump and all of the Democratic primary candidates to sign on to it. Just explain what it is. And, obviously beyond the substance, which is reducing the trade deficit and scaling back job outsourcing, do you think it is actually realistic your chief rivals, whether it's Warren or Biden, would sign on to something of yours or put out their own plan?

SANDERS: Well, look, mostly this is directed to president Trump. What we have seen over the last many years is one disastrous trade policy after another, and that is NAFTA which I helped lead the effort against, cost us about a million jobs. It is PNTR with China, cost us approximately 4 million jobs.

It has led to a race to the bottom, Anderson, where companies now understanding that they can go abroad and hire people for a buck an hour are cutting back on wages that American workers receive. So what I am saying to Trump and everybody else is, look, we need new trade policies which protect the interests of American workers and not just the CEOs of large corporations.

I will give you the thrust and the heart and soul of what we are talking about, is that we have profitable corporation after profitable corporation shutting down in America, throwing American workers out on the street, going abroad, and then they line up at the federal trough for contracts.

And what I am saying is if you want a contract and you are a major corporation, you know what? Don't think you're going to get a contract if you layoff, shut down plant and layoff American workers. Don't think you're going to get a contract if you don't allow workers to organize into a union, if that's what they want to do. If you are cutting back on their health care, you have to be corporate citizens, good corporate citizens.

I think one of the ugly things we're seeing in America today is while the rich get much richer, while corporate profits are soaring, you are seeing tens of millions of workers struggling to make ends meet, people working two or three jobs, and corporate America now has got to understand that they've got to pay attention to their workers, not just to their stockholders.

COOPER: You talk about unions. Former Vice President Biden was in front of firefighters union, obviously organized labor is a critical support in a Democratic primary.

Are you concerned that Biden can make inroads there, that Biden has a leg up there?

SANDERS: Well, look, I'm running against, I think, 19 other people. So I'm concerned about everybody.

But I think when people take a look at my record versus Vice President Biden's record, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA. He voted for NAFTA. I helped lead the fight against PNTR with China. He voted for it.

I strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He supported it. I voted against the war in Iraq. He voted for it.

So I think what I hope, Anderson, what this campaign is about -- and I have to tell you, I like Joe Biden. Joe is a friend of mine. But I think what we need to do with all of the candidates, have an issue- oriented campaign, not personal attacks, but talk about what we have done in our political lives, what we want to do as president, and how we're going to transform our economy so that it works for all of us and not just the 1 percent.

COOPER: And just finally, I want to get your reaction to something the president tweeted over the weekend. He said, quote, the Democratic National Committee, sometimes referred to as the DNC, is again working its magic in its quest to destroy crazy Bernie Sanders for the more traditional, but not very bright, sleepy Joe Biden. Here we go again, Bernie, but this time please show a little more anger and indignation when you get screwed, end quote.

Insults aside, do you know what the president is talking?

SANDERS: Not usually. I think most of us don't know what the president is usually talking about, but our response to that, Anderson was, yes, I do feel indignation and anger against a president who told the American people -- you remember this -- he would provide health care to everybody and yet he worked overtime to try to throw 32 million Americans off of the health care that they have. He was a president, a candidate who said he would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, then he brings forth a budget with massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and cuts to Social Security as well.

So our indignation is at a president who lied to the working families of this country when he said he would stand up for them. COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, stay with us. There's a lot more ahead tonight, including breaking news. The resignation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversaw, of course, the Mueller probe on Russian interference in the 2016 election.


[20:31:41] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have more breaking news tonight. Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed Robert Mueller to investigate -- who appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and then oversaw the nearly two-year-long probe, is resigning effective in a couple of weeks.

Our Justice Correspondent Laura Jarrett joins us now with more. Laura, I mean this has been expected for a long time. Explain what's going on.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's been something of a months-long goodbye for Rosenstein over at the Justice Department. Of course, he has become a household name even though the deputy attorney general is usually pretty obscure because, as you said, he appointed the Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the Russia investigation.

But his tenure as the number two at DOJ and his relationship with the President has really proven to be one of the more interesting complicated parts of this whole ordeal. His critics will always point to his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and suggest he's perhaps been a little too solicitous of a president who refuses to honor any of the traditional norms between the Justice Department and the White House.

But his defenders say what's most important is that he always made sure that Mueller was protected over the course of this two-year investigation and he withstood attacks from Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill all to make sure that the special counsel could cross the finish line, Anderson.

COOPER: What message was Rosenstein trying to get across in his resignation letter?

JARRETT: Well, the letter is curious but really true to form. He is trying to emphasize the rule of law. Most important, he uses that term all the time. And while never mentioning the Mueller investigation directly, he says this, "We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan, and truth is not determined by opinion polls. We ignore fleeting distractions and focus our attention on the things that matter because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle." At the same time, he's some glowing words about the President and their personal conversations, depicting a chummy relationship with a man who's previously dismissed him as just the deputy and a Democrat from Baltimore when in reality he is a Republican from Philadelphia, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. He also is talking about the man who according to the Mueller report tried to get him to hold a news conference and lie to say that he was the one who wanted Comey fired and the press office did the same thing, so.

JARRETT: Something he refused to do.

COOPER: He refused to do it, that's right. Laura Jarrett, thanks very much. Appreciate it

JARRETT: Thanks.

COOPER: The Mueller report, of course, will be front and center later this week as Attorney General Barr is set to testify about it before both the -- the Senate and the House Judiciary Committees.

Now, Barr is supposed to appear this Wednesday before the Republican- dominated Senate Judiciary Committee, then the next day the Democratic chairman of the House Committee, Jerry Nadler, is seeking to allow committee staffers, attorneys to question Barr in addition to anything the actual members of Congress might want to ask.

Now, a spokeswoman for Barr says that he objects to that format and will only agree to be questioned by members themselves. If Barr doesn't show up, Nadler says he will hold a hearing anyway with possibly an empty chair standing in for Barr.

Just before the program, I spoke with California Democrat Eric Swalwell who's on the House Judiciary Committee about what's next. Swalwell, we should note, is also running for his party's presidential nomination.


COOPER: Congressman, the standoff between congressional Democrats, the attorney general, what is your sense where it stands now? And -- I mean, who is going to blink first?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to hear from the attorney general, Anderson. I don't understand why there's a standoff. America was attacked in the 2016 election by the Russians, we are undergoing informational warfare.

[20:35:07] All we're asking is that he comes in, tells us what the Russians did, who in America they worked with. Bob Mueller laid out 200 pages of links between the Trump campaign and the Russians. And then what should we do to make sure that this doesn't happen again, and he's standing on process objections. We want to defend our democracy. COOPER: The process objections, he says, I guess that he does not want an extra hour for staff attorneys on both sides, Democrat and Republican, to be able to ask questions as well. Is -- why would that be and why do you feel it's necessary to have staff attorneys?

SWALWELL: Yes. I guess as he telling us, he is less capable than Dr. Ford was to weather staff attorneys on the Republican side during the Kavanaugh confirmation asked her questions.

I mean, Anderson, this happened during the Watergate investigation. It was common practice. The members will ask questions and then just to kind of bring it all home, to clean up anything left outstanding the staff would ask questions, so that's commonplace.

Again, the American people will know either he showed up and talked about defending America against Russian interference or he didn't. I think he should show up.

COOPER: The -- I mean the Justice Department could very well just say, well, look, the attorney general is willing to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He is cooperating with demand of the legislative branch, not completely with demand of your committee, and that's all there is to it.


COOPER: How do you respond? How would you respond to that argument? Do you go ahead?

SWALWELL: It doesn't work that way and we will go ahead to get his testimony. We'll subpoena him if we have to, and if he doesn't come, he can hold him in contempt of Congress. It shouldn't even have to come to that.

Again, we're all on the same team. Like the jersey we should all be wearing is a jersey of team USA that doesn't want Russia to do this again. And so if the attorney general shares that belief, he should come and tell us what they did.

Again, if the President is 100 percent clear, he should also tell his own attorney general, "Go down to Congress and tell them I'm 100 percent clear so they can understand what the Russians did."

COOPER: It certainly seems, though, that -- I mean, I would assume some of your focus isn't just going to be on what the Russians did, it will be on what did Barr do in terms of how he wrote a summary and how he presented the Mueller report.

SWALWELL: There are real questions about whether Attorney General Barr is acting as the president's lawyer because of his prior views of the Mueller investigation, the way he applied for the job, the way that he accused our intelligence community of spying on the Trump administration and the way he characterized the report. So, yes, this is a democracy.

He's going to have to answer questions about whether he is on the President's team or whether he is America's attorney general. But not coming to Congress is a consciousness of guilt that would show that you are not up for doing that and that would only lead us to assume that you are seeking to protect the President.

COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, appreciate your time. Thank you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, a lot ahead tonight. What one of President Trump's biggest allies said about impeachment that is now coming back to haunt him. We're "Keeping them Honest," next.


[20:41:44] COOPER: As talk of impeachment continues on Capitol Hill, one of the President's biggest allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, is under fire for what he said about impeaching other presidents. Here is what he said when he served in the House back in 1999 about President Clinton. As you listen, just think about what we learned from the Mueller report.


REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He encouraged people to lie for him. He lied. I think he obstructed justice. I think there's a compelling case that he has, in fact, engaged in conduct that would be better for him to leave office than to stay in office.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping them Honest," according to the Mueller report, President Trump instructed White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie for him. And according to the Mueller report, President Trump may have obstructed justice multiple times.

Now, the report didn't reach a conclusion on that. When asked about his past statements on "Face the Nation" yesterday, Senator Graham said, shocker, he believes this President did "nothing wrong." And last week, you might remember, President Trump told reporters he is fighting all subpoenas.

Now, Democrats fumed, Republicans were pretty silent. But wouldn't you know that in 1998 Graham had a lot to say about president's ignoring subpoenas. He was talking about President Clinton and using Nixon as an example.


GRAHAM: The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress and became the judge and jury.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So, we invited Senator Graham on the program to address the obvious contradiction of his past statements against the present day. We never received a reply. We also sent a reporter outside the CBS studio yesterday where the senator was doing an interview. He managed to avoid our cameras.

We stayed at it and asked our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju to see if he could find the senator today and he did and Manu joins us now. So, what did Senator Graham have to say when you caught up with him?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's defending Donald Trump's behavior as documented in the Mueller report and he suggests that he actually has been consistent because he points to the fact that he voted against one of the Clinton articles of impeachment although he did support the other.

He said repeatedly that Donald Trump did not ultimately interfere with the Mueller probe, which is why he did not obstruct justice, even though the Mueller report shows instances where the President repeatedly tried to enter -- tried to undercut the investigation.

And when I asked him about that past comment that you just played, Anderson, about Nixon defying those subpoenas, he said this.


GRAHAM: Did I say that?

RAJU: You did say that. I have a quote from you here.


RAJU: So, now the President says he's going to fight all subpoenas.

GRAHAM: Well, I would if I were him. He cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller. And I guess Nixon must not have cooperated with the special counsel. I consider what the House is doing a political exercise and they won't let it go. And if they think he should be impeached, the House can impeach him.

RAJU: I mean, are you OK then with the Democratic president ignoring your subpoenas when you --

GRAHAM: I'm OK with a politician fighting another politician and that's what this is. Obstruction of justice in this case to me is absurd because the President cooperated fully. So if the House wants to keep doing this, if I were the president I'd fight like hell.

RAJU: Do you think that's a constitutional crisis?


RAJU: He's ignoring an equal co-equal branch of government?

GRAHAM: No, these guys are political hacks right now. Mueller is the last word for me.


[20:45:04] RAJU: And I asked him, why don't you hear from Bob Mueller in your testimony, bring him before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said, quote, Anderson, "I don't care to hear from Bob Mueller." He said, "I heard from him through the report. It's over for me."

COOPER: So, he's calling other politicians political hacks?

RAJU: Indeed, he is. He went after Democrats pretty clearly here and said that they are clearly out to get the President. He said that their policy -- he doesn't have any problems with politicians fighting other politician saying the President should fight subpoenas like hell, which is much different than what he said about Nixon on the House floor just nearly more than 20 years ago.

And, Anderson, I tried to pin him down about the instances of obstruction. There were 10 that Bob Mueller painted throughout the report and when I tried to get him to answer about that, whether he was alarmed in any way by Trump's behavior, he side stepped the question.


RAJU: One of the things that he noted in his report, there were at least 10 instances of the President trying to undermine the investigation. Why is that acceptable behavior to you?

GRAHAM: Well, if you think his impeachable behavior, impeach him. He didn't do anything to obstruct justice, Clinton did. He lost his law license for five years.

RAJU: Would a Democratic president really get this leeway from Republican Lindsey Graham?

GRAHAM: My record is pretty clear. I voted against an article of impeachment where Clinton clearly lied, but it was about a personal matter. I thought it would be good for the office. I don't think it would be good for the office of the presidency to impeach President Trump when he fully cooperated with the special counsel.

RAJU: Special counsel said it was inadequate, his responses to the --

GRAHAM: No, he didn't.

RAJU: He said the written answers were inadequate.

GRAHAM: Well, the President didn't have to talk to him. They chose to. And if he wanted more, he could have gone to court. He chose not to. It's over.


RAJU: Now, Anderson, Lindsey Graham does plan to use his committee to investigate the start of the Russia investigation, which he believes was nefarious in the way the FBI act. And of course, the President himself has made the same concerns and yesterday Lindsey Graham played golf with the President. I asked him, did the Mueller investigation come up? And he said, "He feels OK that it's over." Anderson.

COOPER: It's so interesting how people avoid -- or sort of immediately pivot when you have a response to what they have said, which is not true. When he says, you know, the President fully cooperated, you say his answers were inadequate according to Mueller, Lindsey Graham says no, they weren't. And you said, yes, you know, the written answers were inadequate. Then he pivots to, well, he didn't have to even talk to Mueller, he didn't even have to send those in.

RAJU: Yes, because he is trying to make the case that the President fully cooperated in his view, which is not obstruction of justice, which is one reason why they're justifying not looking into this any further, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. And of course, he didn't even ask -- answer any questions, written questions, meaning his lawyers didn't answer any written questions. They weren't willing to on the question of obstruction of justice, so that wasn't even addressed in his supposed transparent answers. Manu Raju, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Next, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, now that he has been eclipsed for the moment by other candidates, what he unveiled today when we continue.


[20:51:36] COOPER: The 2020 Democratic presidential race went in to decidedly higher gear today. As we reported at the top of the program, former Vice President Biden made his inaugural speech before an enthusiastic crowd in Pittsburgh, said he has sides clearly on Pennsylvania, state the experts say that Democrats have to win.

As for one of Biden's better known opponents, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, he's been keeping a more low -- more less low profile so far, not doing many interviews, trying to chart his own course with campaign events on the road and today unveiling a new policy initiative. CNN's Leyla Santiago has more.


BETO O'ROURKE, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's ever been a greater moment.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't so long ago, Beto O'Rourke was the candidate of the moment, jumping into the 2020 race with a splash, a Vanity Fair cover, on the heels of a sit down with Oprah and a dueling rally challenging President Trump's visit to the border in El Paso, O'Rourke's hometown. But as the field of 2020 Democratic candidate grew, attention for O'Rourke waned, his poll numbers stagnating.

(on camera) Do you worry that you might be losing what your own supporters call the Beto buzz? Have you missed your moment?

O'ROURKE: Oh, no. I think that we're exactly where we want to be. We've held now more than 110 town hall meetings across more than 12 states, more than any other candidate has done. So with almost 10 months to go before the first caucuses and the first votes are casts, we have a lot of people to listen to and to see, a lot to share with the American people.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): O'Rourke insist he's focused on getting more miles on the road and face time with voters over T.V. time speaking to a packed house in San Francisco just this weekend.

O'ROURKE: Thank you for asking the question.

SANTIAGO: As the former Texas congressman looks to regain his momentum, he is leaning more into policy. Visiting Yosemite National Park today for the first time, O'Rourke unveiled his first major campaign proposal aimed at tackling climate change.

O'ROURKE: You're very (INAUDIBLE) and obviously there's still time.

SANTIAGO: O'Rourke wants to invest $5 trillion over a 10-year span and he's calling for net zero emissions by 2050, a goal in line with the Green New Deal which is backed by many of the Democratic candidates.

DAVID ANCKER, BETHLEHEM, PA PRESIDENT: Climate change is a terrible problem. I think it's very important that we address it.

SANTIAGO (on camera): Do you feel like you needed that hoops (ph) of a big roll out policy today?

O'ROURKE: This country needs direction when it comes to meeting the single greatest threat that we've ever faced, so we all need this. And I'm just grateful to be apart of it.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Beyond climate change, O'Rourke is focused heavily on criminal justice reform, health care and immigration. In the days after announcing his presidential bid, some voters worried he lack specifics.

RYAN TURNER, IOWA VOTER: You're asking to be the leader of the free world, and so I think you should be -- on either side, you should be, you know, caught to the carpet and be able to back up what you say.

SANTIAGO: But O'Rourke says he's only scratched the surface when it comes to policy.

(on camera) Will we see more policies with as much detail coming soon where you've got climate change and immigration is big for you?

O'ROURKE: Yes, absolutely. Yes, yes.

SANTIAGO: When will we see more?

O'ROURKE: Yes. SANTIAGO: Or is there a plan for more specific policies?

O'ROURKE: Yes, absolutely. And you've seen, I hope, what I have published and what I've said on immigration specifically.

[20:55:03] So, all of this is connected and, yes, you'll continue to hear me share my vision for this country.


SANTIAGO: And, you know, we've heard a lot of the Democratic candidates talk about the Green New Deal. They're quick to back it, but what sets this one apart, what makes him unique when it comes to the issue of climate change and policy is the level of detail and investment.

You heard me asked him when he expects to have another policy. He didn't really give me a timeline there, but he mentioned immigration and that's something that tomorrow we may hear a little bit more as he heads to San Diego, that's right there on the border.


SANTIAGO: So it wouldn't surprise me if we hear him talk about visa caps, refugees, asylum seekers and his stance on immigration after spending today talking about climate change, Anderson.

COOPER: Leyla Santiago, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we're going to take a look at how Joe Biden did tonight in terms of his positioning and that posture. He made it pretty clear, "I'm here to take out this President. I'm the guy to do it." And how will that play with the other Democrats?

We're going to have Ana Navarro and Paul Begala, because Paul Begala is who Joe Biden must have. Ana Navarro is who he wants to peel off from traditional GOP. We know how Anna feels about this President, but she represents a group that he would want to get.

And, we have on two of the President's defenders to make the case that we got it wrong about the President's feelings about right-wing extremism at Charlottesville and beyond. Can they do it? We'll see.

COOPER: All right. Chris, we'll watch that. That's about four minutes from now. See you then. Morning Hollywood director, John Singleton, next.


COOPER: The trailblazing filmmaker John Singleton has died. He'd been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke less than two weeks ago. His family says the remarkable talent was surrounded by friends and loved ones when he was taken off life support at a Los Angeles hospital. In 1992, at the age of just 24, Singleton became the youngest person and first African-American ever nominated for an Academy Award for best director. That was "Boyz n the Hood." He went on to direct Poetic Justice," "2 Fast, 2 Furious" and a reboot of "Shaft." John Singleton was just 51 years old.

I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CUOMO: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."