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Trump Contradicts National Security Adviser on North Korea Missile Tests; Biden Had Only 11 Public Campaign Events in First Month of Candidacy. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:20] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

A lot happening tonight. Jim Comey is speaking out, accusing President Trump of lying about the Russia investigation, and the professionals who ran it.

Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail. We look at why he seems to be more wholesale fund-raising than retail politicking.

We begin tonight keeping them honest. President Trump back tonight from his state visit to Japan. Whether it was the president's cup trophy created just for him to present in a sumo match, the rounds of golf, or the audience with Japan's new emperor, the trip was designed to flatter him and showcase U.S./Japanese unity.

Instead, it seems to have showcased divisions inside the West Wing over what the country's foreign policy actually is. There's no academic question considering that the divide appears to be over at least two global hot spots, Iran and North Korea, and it's especially significant in that it is the president and John Bolton, his national security adviser -- his third national security adviser so far, who seems increasingly at odds with each other.

Now, you'll recall, he was passed over for the job once before in part, reportedly, because of his mustache. The president has been widely reported to not believe Bolton looked the part. So he picked someone who would end up being a felon, Michael Flynn, and replaced him with three-star general, H.R. McMaster, who has a storied military career, but the president once said he looked like a beer salesman, and when he left, Bolton got the nod.

Tonight, after the president's performance in Japan, he's looking increasingly distant from the boss. Take a look. Here's Bolton in Tokyo watching as the president undercuts him on North Korean missile testing, which Bolton says violates a U.N. Security Council resolution.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people think it could have been a violation, as you know. I view it differently. I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention.


COOPER: The president went on to rhapsodized about all the great beachfront property in North Korea, and spoke with Kim Jong-un as if he were a fellow real estate tycoon, not a blood thirty dictator, a view Bolton clearly does not share. Never has, and the two differ on Iran, as well, with the president talking tough in public, but counseling restraint behind closed doors, which should be mentioned, is certainly his prerogative as chief executive.

It should also be said that presidents often see things differently from their national security advisers, sometimes even hiring them to play devil's advocate. That said, the president has now hired them. He's seen secretaries of state, defense, and U.N. ambassadors come and go.

He's changed course so many times on so many issues, whether it's North Korea, Iran pulling out of Syria, threatening to leave NATO, that perhaps it's not really possible to say that he and Ambassador Bolton are truly at odds on foreign policy, because he so far has no real consistent foreign policy to be at odds with, rather than a preference for appeasing dictators.

That's a question, at least, the other, of course, is what exactly did the president think he was getting in John Bolton, who's been nothing, if not consistent, and consistently hawkish over the years.

Perspective now from Dexter Filkins, who's written about it from "The New Yorker" magazine, and a fascinating piece entitled "John Bolton on the Warpath: Can Trump's national security adviser sell the isolationist president on military force?"

Dexter, thanks for being here.

John Bolton has always been John Bolton. I mean, he's always said that North Korea cannot be appeased, that they're not going to give up nuclear weapons. And yet, there he is working for a president who clearly is trying to make a deal.

DEXTER FILKINS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: I think it's a fundamental divide in the White House. You have -- Bolton has publicly advocated attacking North Korea and Iran before he was national security adviser. He's called for regime change in Venezuela.

It's not clear that Trump really buys into any of that. I mean, you know, Trump --

COOPER: Did he know that, do you think?

FILKINS: I think so.

COOPER: Somebody must have said to him. I mean, he saw him on Fox.

FILKINS: He saw him on Fox, and I think, my impression was what the president liked about him was how blunt he was. Very, very blunt and plainspoken. But when you look at their two world views, they don't connect.

COOPER: You -- for your "New Yorker" piece, you spoken to a Western diplomat who knows Bolton, and he told you, the trouble more Bolton is Trump does not want war, he does not want to launch military operations. To get the job, Bolton had to cut his balls off and put them on Trump's desk, which is quite a visual which I don't even need to address.

But Bolton knew what he was getting himself into.

FILKINS: I think so. I think so. I asked him about that. Not that particular quote.

But -- and he said, look, wherever you decide to get into government, you have to kind of decide you're not going to get everything you want. And so, I'm not going to get everything I want. But I think in this case, it really is like a fundamental difference of --

COOPER: Right, President Trump, you know, has been very clear on his criticisms, I mean, during the campaign, at least, of the Iraq war. You know, previous to that, he was all over the place on it in public statements as a civilian.

[20:05:00] Bolton has been clear as a bell from the beginning. It's, do you buy the argument some in the administration might make that the president wants to surround himself with lots of different viewpoints? Because it doesn't seem like that.

FILKINS: I -- my sense is that there's a certain tension between the two. I mean, consider, for instance, when Bolton said the North Koreans are in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, Bolton was correct. His analysis was correct. The president was just wrong.

So, yes, they're -- I think it's not ideal.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, it's one thing to have that discussion behind the scenes, it's another thing for a president on a foreign trip in front of John Bolton and everybody else to say, you know, some of my folks believe this, but I don't -- it's not the first thing he said that kind of thing. He said that to Vladimir Putin about DNI Coats.

You also write about the chaos behind the scenes under Bolton, that he's sort of -- you know, he's moving to try to keep his influence and spread his influence.

How does that work?

FILKINS: Well, I think what's interesting now in the administration is you just -- off big vacuum, basically. So there isn't a permanent secretary of defense. There's no U.N. ambassador. There's no secretary for homeland security.

So the whole sort of field --

COOPER: When you say it like that, it doesn't sound good.

FILKINS: So the whole field of national security is, it's false to him. And I think all of foreign policy is essentially either him or Pompeo, the secretary of state. And so, he's got a lot of room to run. And there's a lot of -- so there just isn't -- there aren't a lot of people there who are kind of manning their posts.

COOPER: And also, even just in -- those are top positions you talked about. Sort of in the State Department, a lot of the -- you know, the positions moving downward, it's empty in many places. Embassies overseas.

FILKINS: Yes, there's so many vacancies in those jobs, both if the embassies overseas and in the State Departments themselves. That's because just really when the president took over, and then starting with Rex Tillerson and the secretary of state, there just was a kind of demoralization inside the diplomatic core.

COOPER: Do you think he'll last? There's no way to know, but?

FILKINS: You know, it's hard to say. But then you have to wonder if you're the president, who do you pick to replace him? You know, he's running out of -- he's running out of prominent people who will either work for him or who he's going to want.

COOPER: Yes, Dexter Filkins, it's a fascinating piece in "The New Yorker," thank you so much.

FILKINS: Thank you.

COOPE: Having joined criticism for using a brutal dictator to attack a domestic political rival, Vice President Biden, the president is at it again, this time either apologizing or gaslighting, you decide, quoting now from his tweet late today: I was actually sticking up for sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong-un called him a low IQ idiot, and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Mr. Kim as a much softer low IQ individual. Who could possibly be upset with that?

I don't know what that means.

Joining me now is chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and with me here as well is CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, do you --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know what it means either.

COOPER: Am I an idiot? I do not understand --

BORGER: I don't know what it means. I think it was Trump's attempt at sarcasm. It didn't go over so well.

COOPER: Always goes well on Twitter. And it obviously didn't succeed and it wasn't funny. And, of course, he can never admit he did something that was wrong or inappropriate or dumb, so what he has to do is double back and say, well, of course, I'm going to make a joke out of it now, because that was a joke then, when it really wasn't, when he did this on foreign soil and praised a dictator and criticized a former vice president of the United States.

COOPER: Dana, it is quite the contrast to how the Biden camp handled this, which was to wait until the president was back on U.S. soil to offer an official response to the president's comments. Which some would look at as old-fashioned, respectful, you know -- yes, respectful.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it is intentionally to show a contrast. I mean, it doesn't take political analyst or somebody who has covered or worked in politics a while. It's just common sense that Joe Biden, his whole campaign is to return America to a sense of what he calls morality, doing things the right way, treating people appropriately, not to mention a big difference on policy.

But just on the first, yes, it has been traditional for politicians to not criticize one another while on foreign soil. That has gone out the window on both sides of the aisle recently. But when you're running to get the nomination to run against Donald Trump, you want to use every tool you can to show and provide the contrast and show that you are a grown-up who understands the way things are supposed to be.

So, of course he's going to wait. Not just for him to get back, but also for Memorial Day to be over, because that was another point of Joe Biden's criticism, not that he did it on foreign soil, but he did it on a day where thousands of people died in the war on the Korean peninsula.

COOPER: Right. Yes, I believe 33,000, if my numbers are correct.

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: The -- it's an interesting response, though. It's also an interesting way of handling an attack from the president to essentially just like leave him hanging out there to not respond, which then, it becomes a back-and-forth and he's overseas and then the White House says, well, look, he's engaged in this, as well, to just allow his comment to just sit there smelling.

BASH: Yes. Smelling. Absolutely. And it did.

And also, not to have the response come from Joe Biden. It came, not from the campaign manager, but from the deputy campaign manager, as if they were like, this isn't even worthy of a response from the top person running the campaign, but the second-to-top person, which is not Joe Biden. And they're demoting it, and saying, you know, we're tired of this, we're not going to pay that much attention to it, but privately, of course, they're all thrilled. Because every time Biden takes on Trump, he makes -- I mean, every time Trump takes on Biden, he makes it a two-person race, which is exactly what Biden wants.

COOPER: Dana, President Trump has gone through, as we were talking with Dexter, three national security advisers. Should we have any expectation that John Bolton is going to be his last? I mean, Dexter raised the point that, you know, who else is there in terms of somebody who is prominent, who has a name -- in the president's parlance -- looks the part and has credibility?

BASH: No. I mean, we should have no examinations either way. We've learned that just not only on the national security adviser role, but several other, many other roles in the administration.

But Dexter is exactly right in his piece. I agree with you, was right on about the fact that Bolton has always been a true believer. There is no gray. It is black and it is white, especially on the issues of Iran, but also North Korea.

And the fact that he agreed to go into the administration and was eager into the administration by all accounts, is just a different approach from what others who are saying, you know, I don't agree with this guy, I'm not going to get involved. He believes so much, John Bolton, in himself, that he believes he can even try to change and successfully at least tweak the way that the president approaches these things.

But I can tell you that I have spoken to a source who has spoken to the president in recent weeks and the president is actively badmouthing John Bolton. This is even before the North Korea thing. This is about specifically about Iran, saying that he's worried that he just wants to start a war. This is something -- this is not exactly a difference of world view that should surprise anybody.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: But here's a question. Did the president Google John Bolton before he hired him? Didn't he know that he was this hardliner, that he's an interventionist, the president, you could call, an isolationist. Didn't somebody say to him, you know, this might not work out really well for you?

COOPER: But, you can make the argument that the president is his own national security adviser, his own communications adviser, I mean, that he feels that he's got this.

BORGER: And was his own secretary of state, one would argue, when Tillerson was there. And told him, don't waste your time on North Korea, and then, of course, he ends up summoning twice. And then Tillerson is gone. He likes Pompeo now.

But I think that the president wants to be his own chief of staff, he wants to be his own national security adviser, he wants to be his own secretary of state. And there's a sense, kind of, I got this, because there's nobody around him to say, stop, there are no guardrails anymore.

COOPER: Gloria Borger, thank you. Dana Bash, as well.

Coming up next, we'll dig deeper into Joe Biden's tragedy, heavy on fund-raisers, so far, comparatively light on public appearances. Now that he's back on the trail, we'll look at how it's been working for him so far and what the pitfalls ahead could be.

And later, a family divided by the president's immigration policies and the 6-year-old child caught in the middle. His mom on the other side of the Mexican border.


[20:18:24] COOPER: Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail and we're talking tonight about his choice of a schedule that one Democratic strategist describes as see him less and remember him more -- few public appearances than his competitors, but plenty of fund-raising.

Today, though, he was out on the stump in Houston.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is there for us now.

So do we know why Biden has chosen to only have 11 public events since launching his campaign?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, Biden and his campaign have been very deliberate in how these events have all been planned out. You saw him do that early swing through early nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, and also, those few stops that he's done in Pennsylvania.

But they've been structuring his campaign to give him time not just to connect with voters, but also to head out and raise that money. There's a lot of focus that's being paid to how much Biden is going to be able to raise in that -- in his first quarter as a candidate.

But Biden really, his campaign doesn't think that he necessarily needs to be out seven days a week, partly because he's a known commodity. The American people know who Joe Biden is and he doesn't necessarily need to introduce himself the way that other Democratic candidates do. But going forward, Biden over the next month is expected to map out some policy ideas, being off the time gives him a little bit of time to structure all of that together.

Today here in Houston, he outlined his plan when it comes to education and he's also going to be spending some time going forward preparing for that first debate which is less than a month away.

[20:20:00] COOPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Perspective now from the two Davids. Former senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, who's close to the vice president, and CNN senior political adviser David Gergen, an adviser to presidents in both parties, going back to Richard Nixon.

David Axelrod, I mean, 11 public events since launching the campaign a month ago, is that a winning strategy? Elizabeth Warren has had four public events on Sunday alone.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a winning strategy for now. I mean, I have to say Joe Biden has gotten out of the blocks very, very fast. And part of it is that people see him as a guy who can beat Donald Trump. He's a comfortable figure and the Democratic electorate is very focused on beating Donald Trump.

So that has benefited him, but he cannot continue to run what amounts to a Rose Garden strategy. You've got too many competitors out there. And I think with Biden -- the real question is, he would be eight years older than any president who's ever taken office if he gets elected. And there are real questions about that.

And if you keep him in a candidate protection program this way, it just is going to exacerbate those questions. Plus, voters in these early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, they want to see you ask for their vote. They want to have that interaction with you.

The other candidates are going at it full measure. And if he doesn't, he runs the great risk of losing the support he has.

COOPER: David Gergen, in "The New York Times," they point out that the seven words that are becoming very familiar from the Biden team are, quote, Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.

I think David Axelrod makes great points. This -- the kind of -- the lack of Joe Biden on the trail, it also kind of avoids the issue of him making my gaffes and allows him to sort of, at this stage, maintain his name recommendation, his lead.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Look, I think that he did have some early stumbles coming out of the gate, especially with regard to Anita Hill and with regard to his relationship with women in general. But since then, he's run a very smooth campaign.

And I actually think it's been a smart move, not to have him racing around the country. We have 525 days before the election. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

COOPER: David Axelrod, does this help Biden kind of stay above the fray of all the other Democratic candidates and the potential kind of sniping at each other?

AXELROD: Well, without question. That's his strategy, and without them sniping at him.

You know, his strategy has been to really jump over the primary process and preview the race with Trump, as if to suggest it's going to be me and Trump and let's get to the main event. And that's been a pretty effective strategy so far.

COOPER: David Gergen, James Carville was quoted in "Politico", taking issues with these criticisms saying, I'm quoting, the Biden's never been a candidate who's run on excitement, he's run on, you can trust me, I'm a good guy, my heart is in a right place, I'm human, you know me, I'm well-liked.

Does he have a point?

GERGEN: Yes, he has part of a point, but Joe Biden has never won with that kind of campaign, you know, that kind of campaigning.


COOPER: He's never gotten out of the primaries.

GERGEN: Right. He's never gotten out of the primaries. So I do think the time is going to come when he has to connect with the young people more, he has to connect with women more, and I think he has to connect with people of color more. And I think part of that is going to be moving from an aggressive campaign against Trump to what is Joe Biden for?

AXELROD: Anderson, let me just say on that point -- I think when he gets to that point, these speeches and these positions need to speak to the future. I think the greatest challenge for him is to become a candidate who's plausibly of the future. Right now, when you hear the limited number of speeches that he makes, you hear a lot of lines that you've heard for a long time. It's like -- it's kind of like a Billy Joel concert, you know, the best of the '70s, '80s, '90s, 2000s.

He's going to have to project something that suggests he's a leader for the future, if he's going to get, particularly these younger voters to become excited about his candidacy.

COOPER: By the way, Billy Joel has been selling out Madison Square Garden for now, like, I don't know, two years or so. But I totally see your point. I totally see your point.

The last Democratic candidate who tried to sort of play it safe, tried to ensure, he shouldn't make any unnecessary gaffes was the candidate who lost to President Trump. Does -- David Gergen, do you think Joe Biden really knows how to run a campaign of the future? And how to run in this present?

I mean, you know, running now is different than running four years ago and running four years ago was certainly, you know, or two years ago was a heck of a lot different than any other campaign.

GERGEN: I totally agree. I think that is a big, big question, Anderson. Does he -- can he connect? Can he be a man of the future?

I think he can be the man who shapes the Democratic future. There are a lot of these other candidates running against him right now who hope to beat him.

[20:25:03] But they also want to stay on his good side, because one of them might be his vice presidential nominee. And, by the way, they're all looking and saying, well, maybe in four years, if he is president, he'll be a one term, maybe, and I want to be out there and be in good graces with Joe Biden in 2024 when a big showdown might occur in the Democratic Party.

COOPER: David Gergen and David Axelrod, thank you. Good discussion. Appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you. COOPER: Just ahead, a fiery new op-ed from former FBI Director James Comey. He doesn't just call president Trump a liar, he backs up the charges from his opinion, as well. We'll be right back.


COOPER: President Trump has repeatedly called the Russia investigation treason and a coup. Tonight, one of the men he blames for the alleged treason has had enough. Former FBI Director James Comey has fired back by a point-by point denunciation just published in "The Washington Post."

He says that the president is a liar and he jokes that keeping the investigation hidden during the campaign makes it the worst deep-state conspiracy ever.

However, he ends the column this way: But go ahead, investigate the investigators if you must. When those investigations are over, they will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption, there was no treason, there was no attempted coup. Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.

Joining me now is Josh Campbell, a former special assistant to Comey and a former FBI supervisory special agent. Also, James Schultz, a former White House lawyer for President Trump and a CNN Legal Commentator.

Jim, do you believe that this was a coup attempt against the President?

JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think as American citizens, we all hope there was no coup attempt against the President, that there was no spying that was going on in the campaign, that there was -- that the FBI was acting appropriately. And I believe officials are looking at that now and are going to come to their own determinations. It gets a little tiresome with the self-adulation and Comey trying to portray himself as the paragon of ethics in this country.

And if he really wants to talk about efficiency, I mean, Michael Horowitz, the person who's been the longtime inspector general at the Department of Justice was very critical of how he handled things during the Clinton investigation, calling him things like insubordinate and serious errors in judgment were made. So, for him to be on his high horse on this -- if I were advising Jim Comey, I'd tell him not to do it.

COOPER: Josh, I mean, Jim makes the accurate point that the inspector general was critical of Comey in the way he handled the press conference and as in the Clinton stuff. Would it be logistically possible, given how large the bureaucracy the FBI is, to get that many agents who, you know, have taken an oath to defend the constitution, to conspire to carry out an attempted coup as the President is alleging? JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you hit on it. And as James Comey has said, as I've said, as other people have said, anyone with a brain can understand is that this notion that there was this deep state cabal that was out to get the president, the president-elect of the time, doesn't survive the first contact with logic. All it takes is one iota of critical thinking to understand just how ridiculous this is. It's like a breeze on a house of cards. It comes crashing to the ground.

As Comey mentioned in his op-ed, if you were to believe that there was a cabal out to get him, why didn't they leak that his campaign was under investigation for alleged ties so it has a foreign intelligence service? They didn't do that. They conducted their investigation in secret, which is how counterintelligence investigations work.

One other point he makes, he makes many of them. But one thing he talks about, which I think a lot of people accept now is that if you go back and look at the FBI's actions in 2016, they were almost universally detrimental to Hillary Clinton.

So, these were the same people working the investigation. If their goal was to get Donald Trump, why did they take actions that then cost Hillary Clinton the election? The whole thing is a house of cards. The worst part about it is that this campaign of attack is meant to manipulate the public, nothing more. It's shameful.

COOPER: Jim, I mean, what about that argument, that if they were out to get the President, that they -- that somebody could have leaked that he was under investigation?

SCHULTZ: Look, I'm not an FBI investigator. I don't know what the FBI knows and doesn't know. And quite frankly, none of us do at this point in time, as to what was going on. And I'm not sitting here --


COOPER: But we actually do. We have the Mueller report, so we actually do know.

SCHULTZ: -- any theory as we sit here today. No, we do have the Mueller report, which found that there was no collusion and there was nothing with the -- no Russian interference that was conspired -- that was -- and a conspiracy with the Trump campaign. Although we do know, and that the Russians did interfere with the election, did attempt to interfere with the election, and will likely try to interfere with the next election.

And it's a good thing that that has been uncovered. I think we can all be happy that there was no conspiracy with the campaign. Similarly, we'd also like to be happy that -- and pleased that there's no effort undertaken to subvert the President's campaign. And that's something, obviously, that's being looked at by Horowitz and I think we're expecting a report and I just don't understand.

COOPER: But if the inspector --

SCHULTZ: Why now does Comey come out right now? What's he's going to do?

COOPER: Well, he's got a paper back book out.

SCHULTZ: Why does Comey come out right now?


COOPER: Well, no, look, I'm just being honest. He clearly has a book. He wants to be part of the conversation, probably for a whole number of reasons. But, Jim, you pointed to the inspector general report about Comey, accurately, which shows -- I could think that you have a sense that the inspector general is reputable. There is an inspector general investigation already going on. Why does there need to be this other one with the attorney general whose record on what he chooses to tell publicly and what he doesn't is certainly, at least, under question?

SCHULTZ: It's under question by Congress, because he didn't release 6e information to the --

COOPER: OK. So why does there need to be another report?

SCHULTZ: -- that they wanted. And let's get straight there, there's not a lawyer in their right mind who thinks it's a good idea to release 6e information publicly.

COOPER: So why does there need to be a second investigation? Even after the Mueller investigation, we have the inspector general investigation, and now this.

SCHULTZ: Let's remember, it's the person that -- remember how we talked about usurping power and the FBI director? Usurping the power of the attorney general, that was also in Horowitz's report. It's the attorney general's job to investigate crimes in this country, investigate what goes on in this country as it realities to surveillance and other things. It's not necessarily the sole job of Michael Horowitz --

CAMPBELL: OK, I'm going to jump in here.


SCHULTZ: And let's go back --

CAMPBELL: It's important to note here --

[20:35:02] COOPER: Josh, I want your response and then we got to go.

CAMPBELL: Yes. It's important to note here that the reason why we keep talking about spying and this nonsense is because the President and his allies keep bringing it up. There was no evidence out there that the FBI acted illegally. And I'll tell you as someone who's now in journalism, you're not going to find me saying we need to trust law enforcement turn.

I've been long on the record saying, we need to investigate what the FBI did in a democracy. You can't have a law enforcement agency with these kinds of powers without having someone looking over their shoulder. The problem is this that the President and his allies are muddying the water now before this independent inspector general has even completed his work, which is a pattern. We saw it with Mueller. We're seeing it now. It's shameful.


COOPER: OK, I'm out of time. But Josh --

SCHULTZ: Let me close with --

COOPER: Very quickly, Jim.

SCHULTZ: OK. Strzok was the one that wrote those e-mails. The Page/Strzok messages came from Strzok. They weren't written by a Republican operative. They weren't written by a Democratic operative. They were written --


CAMPBELL: What does that have to do with anything? You mentioned the name of these boogiemen, Strzok and Page. I'll tell you what, let's come to an agreement. Let's let the inspector general do its work and then we'll have the discussion about that.

COOER: Josh Campbell, James Schultz, thank you. Appreciate it.

SCHULTZ: There's nothing wrong with the inspector general doing his work.

COOPER: A lot more ahead, including the story of a family divided after the Trump administration's immigration policy. I'll explain why a mom living in Mexico, the father and a seriously ill child here in the United States.


COOPER: President Trump talks about an immigration crisis in the United States. And for many on the southern border, it is. But for others, just not in the way the administration characterizes it.

[20:40:02] Our Randi Kaye tonight with the story of a separated family. They are not migrants, but for now, they are a house divided.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments like these for 6- year-old Ashton Rochester and his parents are precious. But this togetherness in Merida, Mexico won't last long.

CECILIA GONZALEZ, LIVING IN MEXICO AWAY FROM HER FAMILY: I miss my family and it's very hard to me to stay here without them and I know they need me, so it's hard. KAYE: Ashton's mom, Cecilia Gonzalez, lives in Mexico. But her husband, Jason Rochester and their son live more than 2,000 miles away in Roswell, Georgia. When they got married 12 years ago, Jason knew Cecilia was undocumented, having entered the country illegally back in 2000 but wasn't worried. Then came campaign 2016 and Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But we have some bad hombres here and we're going to get them out.

KAYE (on camera): In the United States, were you afraid you were going to be arrested?

GONZALEZ: Yes, yes.

ROCHESTER: She was terrified of being profiled.

KAYE (voice-over): Terrified of being arrested in front of her son, Cecilia tried to make things right and got a work permit in 2015, effectively putting her on ICE's radar. So she self-deported nearly a year and a half ago, hoping to start the process of becoming a legal citizen.

Trouble is, she says her lawyer didn't explain that she couldn't return to the U.S. for at least 10 years, maybe even forever. That's despite being married to an American citizen with a son who is also a U.S. citizen.

ROCHESTER: We told him that mommy would be home soon, but we lied. We hoped that she would. But, it wasn't something that we could control.

KAYE (on camera): Did he -- did you explain to him why she had to leave the country?

GONZALEZ: We told him, mommy made a mistake.

ROCHESTER: Mommy made a mistake.

KAYE: Mommy made a mistake.

(voice-over) Cecilia felt she had to leave, fearing the policies of a President her own husband helped put in office.

(on camera) You supported Donald Trump in 2016. Why did you support him?

ROCHESTER: I made the decision to vote for him for my moral values.

KAYE (voice-over): Jason was on board with the President deporting hard criminals, but says he never imagined Trump would target immigrants like his wife, Cecilia.

GONZALEZ: I don't even have a ticket, a traffic ticket, nothing.

ROCHESTER: And we didn't consider her to be a bad hombre. KAYE: Complicating matters, last year at just 5 years old, Ashton got kidney cancer. He needed surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation. He had to do it all without his mom at his side. She was refused entry to the U.S., even to be with her son during treatment.

GONZALEZ: It was terrible, terrible to don't be with them in these hard moments.

ROCHESTER: He used to breakdown and cry. He was like -- he'd say, I don't think mommy's coming home. And I couldn't tell him any different.

KAYE: Meanwhile, except for a few visits a year to Mexico, Ashton only sees his mom on FaceTime, in the morning and at night.

GONZALEZ: My dream was him to school and I'm not able to do that and that really breaks my heart.

KAYE (on camera): You can't make him breakfast or take him to school.

GONZALEZ: No, no. I can't dress him. I can't -- I mean, it's very hard to me.

KAYE (voice-over): Now back at work in Georgia, Jason is desperately trying to find a way to bring his family back together.

GONZALEZ: I miss you a lot.

ROCHESTER: I miss you too, baby. Hopefully we can make it work, allowed to get you home soon.

KAYE: And Ashton is working on it too. He and his kindergarten class sent this book of letters to the White House, lobbying Donald Trump.

(on camera): This is what your classmate?


KAYE (voice-over): Ashton hopes the President reads his letter and that the White House answers his prayers.

(on camera) First, tell me what the picture shows.

A. ROCHESTER: It's me crying.

KAYE: There's the tears.

A. ROCHESTER: And I'm standing up, and there's tears with puddles. I want mom --

KAYE: To --

A. ROCHESTER: -- mommy to come home. I miss my mommy.


COOPER: So, Randi, has the family heard anything back from the White House or anyone else?

KAYE: Nothing at all, Anderson, from the White House or the President.

[20:45:00] In fact, when Ashton was sick and hospitalized, his father actually tweeted the photo of him and tagged President Trump pleading with him to let his mom come and be at his bed side, at least, no response and on response since that book of letters from Ashton and his kindergarten classmates was sent to the White House.

And also, Anderson, I just I want to be really clear. Cecelia knows that she made a mistake. She said if she had a chance -- she actually apologized to the President, but she said that her son needs her and this is actually hurting him the most.

Jason, the father says that he doesn't want special treatment. That's not what he's looking for, but he does think that there should be some a better policy. He thinks people like his wife who are married to a U.S. citizen, have a U.S. citizen child, they have a job, they don't collect welfare, they've never committed a crime should be given a priority and be allowed to figure out some sort of path to citizenship. He says this is destroying his family, given that Cecelia may never actually be allowed to enter the country legally ever again, Anderson.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thank you. A family divided.

Coming up next, an update on dangerous weather, tornado warnings in Kansas and New Jersey.


[20:50:12] COOPER: We got some breaking news right now to tell you about. A tornado described by the local news chopper pilot who saw it as a mile wide hitting East Central Kansas and tornado warnings up there and in Northern New Jersey as well. Let's check in with the latest to Ivan Cabrera in the CNN Weather Center. Ivan, what's going on?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Anderson. We've been tracking this tornado a mile wide as you said. But it looks like minutes before this thing was about to hit Kansas City it lifted off the ground, thankfully. But it looks like some towns just to the south and west of Kansas City did not fair all that well and some reporters are describing it some towns have completely leveled here.

So, this is the storm. And just last a few minutes the tornado warning has been lifted for Kansas City. So we're doing much better shape across the metro here as this continues to head on to the north and east.

However, the threat for tonight is not over because we still have this tornado watch which means conditions are favorable for additional tornadoes to form, right, heading into the next several hours.

I do want to take you into the northeast because the threat is not just today across the central U.S. Take a look at this. We actually had tornado warnings about 10, 15 miles to the northwest of Newark, if you can believe that. This likely will weaken over the next several hours before it hits New York City, but it looks like 60-70 mile hour winds can't be ruled out as all of this continues to track to the southeast and it's doing so rapidly. This storm has had the history of producing damage as well.

By the way, in the last 30 days, over 500 tornadoes in the U.S. We had not done that except for four years since 1950. So this is quite something and tomorrow we're going to add to that tally because we had more severe storms on the way for tomorrow and more tornado threats.

By the way, this is the track for the storm. I want to go local weather man on you here. So about 9:28, that is when the storm is going to arrive in New York City likely with some damaging winds, so watch out for that. And then tomorrow, more severe weather on the way, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ivan Cabrera, appreciate it. We're going to continue to keep an eye on the storms obviously throughout the evening. Let's check in with Chris and see what's coming up on "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Could you do what Amanda Eller did? Would you do it?

COOPER: I don't think so. 17 days, eating bugs and -- no, probably not.

CUOMO: I don't think I have it. No. I think that -- I'd like to say I could, but I don't think -- you know, you and I met have met so many of those people and they always have the simple answers of, you know, like Amanda says, I chose to live, you know, or I had to keep -- the people who like tread water for 24, 30 hours --


CUOMO: -- after they fall off a cruise ship, her story is amazing. We're going to look at that. But what we're really going to get into tonight is we're going to look at one of the congressman that's holding up this relief bill. Why? Republican, Democrat, why he says that Democrats running for president need to do some homework before they talk about the '94 crime bill. He was there then and he talks about its now significance now.

COOPER: Interesting. All right, Chris, I'll see just in about seven minutes from now.

Coming up, what are the nine scariest words the President's re- election campaign could be faced with? Rudy Giuliani is here and he wants to help. What's the unpredictable former mayor up to now on "The Ridiculist?" Find out.


[20:56:49] COOPER: In tonight's edition comes pro bono from Rudolph Giuliani esquire. The President's long time friend and legal whoopee cushion who lately may or may not be found playing Sherlock Holmes in Ukraine or retweeting fake videos and conspiracy theories now tells "Politico" that he's eager for a role in President Trump's re-election campaign.

He said the former New York mayor, and I quote, "We'll see where they have holes and where they need help. I'm available to do a lot of it." First off, I don't doubt that Mr. Giuliani is available. The market for his service is screaming and saying stuff that isn't true, it's kind of limited and frankly the President has most of that stuff covered anyway.

But that's not to say that Giuliani couldn't once again be an in demand surrogate doing phone interviews from inside the cigar humidor or making dubious claims at high profile events. Like for example, that then citizen Trump had a long history of not only making charitable donations, which we now know it self-strings credulity, but doing so anonymously.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, I am going to break my promise to him. I am going to mention it. This is a man with a big heart who loves people, all people, from the top to the bottom, from the middle to the side.


COOPER: All people from Mar-a-Lago to Trump Tower, from Vladimir Putin to Kim Jong-un. I mean, who wouldn't believe Donald Trump made anonymous charitable donations. It's not like he bought a 6 foot tall portrait of himself with money from his own so-called charitable foundation, a foundation that are since close down amid a New York State investigation.

But you know what, why dwell on the negative? Accusing it by the way of a shocking pattern of legality, that's what they said about the foundation. That actually happened. Speaking of money, another thing that Mr. Giuliani brings to the table is blurting out crimes. Yes, it's a Giuliani classic. It goes way back.

Remember when all of the President's allies were denying he had anything to do with the illegal hush money payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal? Not Rudy, no, no, no, no. He showed up on Hannity, think maybe after a long meal or dinner and tossed that grenade right into the wind.


GIULIANI: They funneled through a law firm and the President repaid it.

SEAN HANNITY, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW" HOST: Oh, I didn't know that. He did.

GIULIANI: Yes. HANNITY: There's no campaign finance law?



COOPER: I think he has some chicken stoke coming to his tooth. Zero, I love how he just opens it up like it's a scoop, zero. It's like, oh, yes, I like that one. Here's another one. Here's another one. The moon, it's made out of cheese. I'm talking 40 percent Romano, 60 percent cheddar and the Clintons have been covering it up since '87. Google it.

I also -- I don't know what's that. It doesn't sound like him. I don't know what that was. I also love how Hannity was just trying to clean it up from real time, like he was five seconds from doing all Nancy Grace move. Cut his mike. Just cut his mike. Nancy, I miss you.

Anyway, perhaps Giuliani's most valuable quality, at least as far as the President is concern, is to just go back on television and claim he didn't say anything. And it's not like limited to hush money. That's right, Rudy's got range.


GIULIANI: I never said there was any collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

CUOMO: Yes you have.

GIULIANI: I have no --


COOPER: Yes. I've seen that expression on Chris Cuomo's face before. It's the expression you get when you, A, lie to his face or when you drink all of his protein shakes. Not that I've ever done that, it's all blitzer in his quest to bench press a Buick (ph). Anyway, I replace them.

Anyhow, no surprise Rudy Giuliani didn't get that platter of bologna past Chris and it remains to be seeing what if any meat he'll be slinging on behalf of President Trump's 2020 presidential campaign, but he will surely now and ever more remain high atop the menu on "The Ridiculist."

And the news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time. Chris?