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President Trump, Biden Ramp Up Attacks Against One Another As They Hold Dueling Events in Iowa; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed About Trump and Biden Trading Jabs as Both Visit Iowa. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired June 11, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news and perhaps a preview of things yet to come. After trading verbal jabs all day, President Trump and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden are at dueling live campaign events in Iowa.

The president is in West Des Moines, at a GOP fundraising dinner. He's just getting started, thanking his host, talking about a 2016 primary victory.

Vice President Biden just about 160 miles down Interstate 80, in Davenport, again, this after each man slamming each other, neither waiting to get to Iowa.

Biden, early this morning, releasing an advanced copy of his Davenport remarks, describing the president as an existential threat to democracy. The president weighing in a short time later on the South Lawn.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I heard Biden, who is a loser. I mean, look, Joe never got more than 1 percent except Obama took him off the trash heap. Now it looks like he's failing.

Now I have to tell you, he's a different guy. He looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He's even slower than he used to be.

So I don't know. I think he's the weakest mentally. I like running are against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here.


COOPER: That was the president this afternoon followed by Mr. Biden by now wheels down in Iowa.


BIDEN: The idea that I believe and I didn't believe if you asked me this five years ago, I would have told you, you're crazy. I think there is a genuine threat to American democracy.

You know, think about this. No president of the United States has ever, ever, since the end of World War II, we built that Atlantic alliance in NATO, ever threatened to leave NATO. Never gone after our allies, embracing dictators and thugs from Putin to Kim Jong-un, calling them my friends, sending love while he's sticking, poking his finger in the eye of our allies.

What's going on here? This is really dangerous stuff. He's a threat in my view, a threat to our core values. And, folks, the fact of the matter is that four years of Trump will be viewed as an aberration in American history. Eight years, eight years will fundamentally change who we are as a nation and how we are viewed around the world.


COOPER: Again, we are monitoring both live events. And as a backdrop to this all, a new nationwide polling from Quinnipiac University showing a 13-point Biden lead over the president with Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, also ahead by nine, eight, and seven points respectively.

Joining us two veterans of campaigning in Iowa and nationwide, 2004 presidential candidate, former Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean. Also, a six-term governor of Vermont.

And David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama and currently host of the "AXE FILES" here on CNN.

So, David, this virtual head-to-head battle in Iowa, what do you make of it? Because it's certainly the first time these two men are campaigning at the same place at the same time, and taking each other on in such a direct way.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think for Joe Biden, this is an ideal situation. He should send the president a gift for this because the whole thesis of his campaign is that he's the old warrior coming back to rid the country of the scourge that he is -- that this is all about him and Trump. Trump is affirming that with everything that he does by going after him in such a personal way in his tweets, in his comments.

This is Biden's strategy for getting nominated. The Democratic Party, most Democrats are desperate to get rid of Donald Trump. By a 2-1 margin, they say that is more important than ideological kinship, and the theory of the Biden campaign is to run against Trump from the beginning. That's what he's done from his announcement forward. For the president, I think he is looking at these polls like the one you just showed, and he is concerned. And he should be concerned, that he was trailing not just Biden but several other Democrats but he sees Biden as the front runner right now. And he is not waiting to cut him down to size.

COOPER: Governor Dean, I mean, can you imagine President Bush ever taking on the front runners so directly in the run-up to the primaries in 2003, I mean, at the stage we're at in this race?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: No, but Trump you know does things his own way. You know, Trump is an unattractive person. I read the whole speech that Joe gave. I thought it was very good, but that speech is not going to get us to the victory line. He has to say what he is going to do, not just Trump is an idiot.

Everybody who hears Donald Trump, and Donald Trump likes to talk about himself, is reminded why they don't like Donald Trump. Joe doesn't have to do that. He is going to say what he is going to do. What are we going to do about healthcare? What are we going to do about the economy for all those people who Trump didn't give a tax cut to, which was the vast majority of the American people?

So, you know, this is sort of phase one.

[20:05:01] Trump is not going to rise above this because he can't rise above anything. Joe Biden was the vice president of the United States, he can. When we get into this, IF he turns out to be the nominee, we want to see him acting presidential, as he is capable of doing, and Trump is not.

COOPER: David, a reporter from "The Washington Post" pointed out in Twitter today that both President Trump and Vice President, they seemed to be obsessed with how much the other is obsessed with them. Might be obsessed with voter's needs, I mean, to the governor's point, talking about what are you for, what your policies are and doing it in a way, frankly -- I mean, you juxtaposed the way President Trump speaks, the way Vice President Biden speaks, it seems to be whether it's a different energy level, obviously, the content is different, the approach is different, but it is a very stark juxtaposition.

AXELROD: Yes. Well, you know, I just want to echo what Howard said. I don't think that this is going to be adequate for Biden. The fact is he had a bad week last week. He mishandled this question of the Hyde Amendment and did kind of a flip-flop-flip.

And the Iowa poll came out, Howard is familiar with the Iowa poll. What it showed was that Biden had lost a third of his support since December, still the front runner eight points ahead of Bernie Sanders, but right behind Sanders was Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg.

And Biden -- the enthusiasm level of Biden supporters was not as high as that of the others. So, he's got his work cut out for him. I quite agree with Howard, I don't think it's nearly enough to say that he wants to defeat Donald Trump. I'm not even sure it's enough that polls show right now he may have the best chance to do it. He's going to have to show more. This was only his second visit to

Iowa since May. And, you know, the process -- this is a process. It's not a national primary. It begins in Iowa.

And Joe Biden as the front runner is obligated to win that primary. If he comes in second or third --

DEAN: Right.

AXELROD: -- the whole thing could unravel. So he's got a lot of work to do.

COOPER: Well, and, Governor Dean, to be honest, you know, as he has run before, he has never done well in presidential races. So, I mean, a lot of people, a lot of Democrats are sort of looking at him because his name recognition is high. His poll numbers show him to be in the lead. But the history of him running is not a good one.

DEAN: Well, you're going to hear me say this many times as we now and in November of 2020. The poll number s numbers that you showed are really not helpful because my guess is international poll numbers, this is 50 separate races, starting with four races, which are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Those are the poll numbers we have to have. It doesn't do any good to show Biden's 13 points ahead. That could be all California and New York. That doesn't do us any good. We're going to win those states no matter what.

So, there is a lot more information we need to know before we could start making judgments and I think also I think one of the candidates that nobody has ever heard of is going to catch fire. I don't know who it's going to be. But I think they will.

COOPER: For a moment, I thought you're going to say who that was. But, like everybody else, you don't know who that is.

DEAN: Yes.

COOPER: Governor, I want to play something of what the president said about Biden today on the White House lawn.


TRUMP: He's a different guy. He looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He's even slower than he used to be. So I don't know.

But when he mentions my name that many times I guess I should be complimented. I love running against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The others have much more energy. But, look, but I don't bring them up.


COOPER: It's so interesting, Governor, I also want to talk to David about this. The way the president, you know, identifies what he perceives to be weaknesses in his opponents and then sort of throws it out time after time after time and is already kind of laying the ground work for, you know, sleepy Joe Biden, low energy, you know, with hints of age, does that -- I mean, it's clearly a strategy the president has employed for all his Republican challengers two years ago.

DEAN: Well, yes, we had deployed that before. The problem is people know Donald Trump right now and the country is unbelievably polarized. So, Trump is annoying when he talks like that, but I don't doubt that he moves much votes, much in the way of votes. He's got a hard core minority, about 31 percent. As he once famously said, I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and they may still be with me. That may be true.

But, you know, Trump is not presidential, and people actually do care about that. One of the great points I thought that Biden made in his speech was, do you want your children to look up as president that behaves like Donald Trump? And I think most Americans would say absolutely not.

[20:10:01] COOPER: Dave -- I'm sorry, David, do you I mean, do you think what the president is doing, does that work? I mean, planting the idea of Joe Biden's low energy?

AXELROD: Well, it is a familiar tactic he has. And I've said it before, kind of a feral genius for painting his opponents in a caricature. But the thing that I think is important for Biden is to run an energetic campaign that dispels any of these caricatures.

He hasn't had a very heavy schedule. He sort of played into the caricature. And I think he's going to have to come forward, as Howard said, with ideas and he's going to have to campaign energetically.

One of the things about the Iowa caucuses, and Howard knows this as well as anyone, is people expect to see you, they want to interact with you. You have to be there and you can't do drop buys and use them as a backdrop to attack the president.


AXELROD: You've got to do much more than that. So, I think that's very important.

COOPER: Yes, it's fascinating. Howard Dean, thank you.

David Axelrod, as well.

Coming up next, we continue to monitor the two live events, the man who now holds Joe Biden's old Senate seat, Senator Chris Coons, is going to join us.

And later, hard to justice to the power of Jon Stewart's congressional testimony today on behalf of 9/11 first responders. We'll play a bunch of it for you at length and talk as well with one lawmaker who was actually there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:34] COOPER: We're talking tonight about the primary campaign in Iowa. President Trump and former Vice President Biden already appeared to be treating in general election terms. Both campaigning tonight in Iowa. The president in West Des Moines, Vice President Biden speaking in Davenport, largely campaigning past his primary opponents, attacking the president instead.

Here's what he just said.


BIDEN: You know, Donald Trump and I are both in town today, or at least in, in the state today. It wasn't planned that way, but I hope Trump's presence here is maybe a clarifying moment for us all.


BIDEN: American farmers have been -- American farmers have been crush by his tariff war with China. And no one knows that better than the folks of Iowa. You know, he thinks that being tough, he's being tough. Well, it's easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain and taking a hit.


COOPER: That's Joe Biden just a few moments ago.

Senator Coons is a Democrat of Delaware joins us now.

Senator Coons, what about that? Is Vice President Biden making a mistake by focusing so much on the president? David Axelrod was making the point, Howard Dean as well, about, you know, needing to be for something and talking about what you actually want to do. He certainly did talk a lot about the president today.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Anderson, Joe Biden has laid out already some strong and concrete and positive policy plans for how he would tackle climate change, how he would address education. Today in Davenport, tonight in Davenport, what he is doing is drawing a strong contrast how he will lead as president and how Donald Trump has been misleading our country on his tariff taxes, on his attacks on health care, on his failure to lead on climate.

So I do think it's important for former Vice President Biden to draw a strong contrast with Donald Trump, because that's what most Democratic voters say they want, is to understand clearly what Joe Biden would be for, which he has been laying out in detail the last two weeks, and how he would beat Donald Trump in the general election campaign, which is exactly what he is speaking to tonight.

COOPER: You know, one thing David Axelrod also said was that, you know, Vice President Biden has run so far, you know, he hasn't been out on the campaign as aggressively as no doubt he probably will be. Does that play into what President Trump is doing is road test

nicknames or attacks that might work on Biden? He seems to be focusing on the idea that he's not -- you know, that he's not as fast as he once was, that he slowed down, that he's low energy, which, of course, is what he said about Jeb Bush.

COONS: Well, you know, look, I think it's ridiculous if we play into Donald Trump's hands by repeating the 8th grade bully nicknames he wants to throw around against his most feared opponents. The reason Joe Biden wasn't in Iowa at the state party function on Friday, it was his daughter's birthday and his granddaughter's high school graduation.

And I think the American people know Joe Biden. They know his heart and his values. And they respect the fact that rather than being at an important campaign event in Iowa, he was at an even more important family event at home in Delaware. I would frankly expect the average voter to question Joe's priorities if he had missed his granddaughter's high school graduation in order to be at an event where he was going to speak for just five minutes.

I think it's important that he has been campaigning vigorously. He has been to each of the critical early primary states already. He has been doing events all over the country. His campaign launched in Philadelphia, I thought, laid out a positive, optimistic and clear path forward for his candidacy.

I couldn't disagree more with both the substance and the strategy of Donald Trump of rolling out all these middle school nicknames against his most feared opponent Joe Biden.

COOPER: I just want to -- just finally, I just want to play something that the vice president said today in Iowa to a crowd. Let's listen.


BIDEN: I promise you, if I'm elected president, you're going to see the single most important thing that changes in America, is we're going to cure cancer.


[20:20:01] COOPER: Obviously, cancer is very personal for the vice president. His son Beau died in 2015. The vice president spearheaded the cancer -- so-called cancer moonshot program for the Obama administration.

Promising to cure cancer, though, I mean, that's -- it's something that if President Trump said that, I think a lot of people, a lot of Democrats would, you know, maybe go after him for? Is it appropriate for Vice President Biden to make that promise?

COONS: Look, one of the things presidents have done throughout our history is to set ambitious and optimistic goals for the American people. Jack Kennedy said, we will go to the moon, and not because it's easy, but because it's hard. And by lifting our sights to the ambitious goal of landing on the moon and mobilizing our nation in that direction, I think he played a central role in getting it a accomplished -- not while President Kennedy was alive but within just five years.

So I think, you know, it's important to remember that President Obama entrusted his vice president, Joe Biden, with the so-called cancer moonshot. And I can think of no more ambitious and uplifting goal for him to layout for us than to make a real dent in this tragic disease that has taken so many loved ones from so many American families, including Joe's own beloved son Beau.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Coons, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

COONS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: As we both -- as we watch both events, it's worth noting the president has been 20 minutes into his speech. So far, he hasn't mentioned Joe Biden once, although as we said, talked about him earlier today at the White House.

Perspective now on all it from three top campaign watchers: CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, advisers to Republican and Democratic presidents alike over the years; also former Obama White House communications director, Jen Psaki, and Mike Shields, former Republican National Committee chief of staff.

David, I mean, on the cancer -- you know, again, if President Trump said his admin -- he promised if you elect him next term, his administration is going to cure cancer, he would get attacked. Was it, you know, I mean, nobody can promise that.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, well, I agree with that, and I think going to the moon is quite different tan trying to cure cancer. You know, we have been working for a years and decades and finding a cure for cancer, we made a lot of progress. But the final answer is really elusive. And it's hard to believe we're going to do it in four years.

He's entitled to say that. I don't think that's his problem, though, Anderson. The Biden people must be encouraged about the Quinnipiac poll in the sense that he's got this 13-point lead currently over Donald Trump.

But there is rising concern in the Democratic circles about his candidacy, about -- as David Axelrod said, you know, he had a bad week last week. And he came out to give this major address today. It is a very, very long address. I think Senator Coons, who is a good surrogate would admit that.

But what was lacking was something fresh. It's hard to tell what the lead was coming out of a long speech like that. When that's the case, you know, what you say to people, the rhetoric sort of becomes mushy. And he needs to be clear-cut and to have a sense of freshness, not have a sense of still thinking in terms of the 1990s. COOPER: I mean, Jen, you can -- you know, you can knock the president

for you know the insults, 8th grade insults and coming up with nicknames stuff. It's certainly, rightly and wrongly, it sticks in people's minds. And, you know, to David's point, what Joe Biden said today, if you read it, it's one thing, but it was, it was very long and hard to sort of you know take some things away.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's right. Anderson, I agree. You know, I think in some ways it was set up in a way that Joe Biden couldn't align head-to-head with President Trump. That's a part of his message that he's inevitable.

That has never really worked for Democrats in the past, and we have a long way to go. His speech had some good moments. I thought the climate change and prepared remarks was good. He talked about it in an accessible way about farmers and droughts.

But there were a lot of missed opportunity there. I mean, if you look at the recent CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll, issues like abortion rights, issues like guns, those are issues Democratic voters in Iowa really care about. He has story to tell there, but he can always be forward looking. And there are events that have happened he could have touched on. I mean, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, sex education by the legislature.

So, he needs to do a little more that's forward looking. And I agree, there needs to be a central theme that people can kind of, you know, grasp into.

COOPER: Yes, Mike, watching the split screen, seeing both men speak today. Are you pleased with the juxtaposition?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think Joe Biden is sort of losing the rational for his candidacy. When he gets sucked into a fight with President Trump, he thinks that's a smart thing to do to prove he can go fight him, but really all he's doing is talking about President Trump.

[20:25:00] And I think what's been proven with Joe Biden through his three failed presidential campaigns and the horrible week last week, is when you put pressure on him, he makes mistakes. And so, I think the president is going to keep messing with him and keep trying to suck him into this. And in the meantime, there's an entire Democratic primary electorate that want to hear about issues that the other candidates are talking about.

And so, Joe Biden is sort of running this, I'm the front runner, just sort of nominee me because, and I just don't think he's good enough to pull that off. I think he makes a lot of mistakes. He said Vice President Pence was a decent man. He got criticized for that. He immediately said, no, that's not what I mean to say.

He was on the wrong side on an issue like abortion. You put pressure on him, he immediately changes his position.

So, I think we are seeing the role holes into his campaign and he's getting sucked into a fight with a president, and that's the president wants to do.

COOPER: And --

SHIELDS: And once he is done with Biden, he'll pick the next guy and do the same with them.

COOPER: Yes, David, I think Mike makes a great point that, you know, we have all seen the danger of somebody being, you know, allegedly a front runner because they have name recognition early on and there is sort of inevitability that people kind of resent, and nobody can really live up to that.

GERGEN: Yes, that's right. It's one of the reasons to keep an eye on these polls. Ordinarily at this stage, you'd say, well, there are so many months out. They're useless.

But if you see a changing dynamic, and there are signs, when Biden announced, after his announcement, nationwide, Quinnipiac, he had 38 percent. That 38 percent of Democrats said I'm for Biden. That number nationwide is down to 30. And the other candidates are moving up each one is moving up two, three, four points. That makes it -- look, Iowa could become a very competitive state.


GERGEN: We don't know -- I think what can be working for him, Anderson, the long run, is if he can maintain 30, if he can maintain 32, with four or five people running against him and getting 8 percent, 6 percent, you know, he'll emerge as a winner just because nobody else can put it together.

COOPER: Although, Jen, you know, Governor Dean in the last segment pointed out that, you know, that's Quinnipiac, it's a national poll. Those numbers can be California and New York, what matters is Iowa, what matters is New Hampshire, you know, the early states.

PSAKI: That's exactly right. And I spent a lot of time in Iowa over my career. And people expect, and I know that other guests have brought this up already, that you are going to spend time with them in this state. They want to meet candidates not just once, twice, but five times, they may want you to sit on their couch.


PSAKI: So I expect from Biden, if he goes and spends more time there, the relatability of Biden, the decency of Biden, that's something that comes across for anybody who spends with him, but he really needs to go spend days and days in the state, really, you know, work for every vote as he said he would. I expect he will. But he needs to do that soon.

COOPER: Yes. David Gergen, Jen Psaki, Mike Shields, thank you. Appreciate it.

Still to come, President Trump has proof of a secret immigration deal with Mexico. It's not that simple, however. More ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:48] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has sworn since Sunday that he has a secret immigration deal with Mexico. And today, despite Mexico saying there's no such deal, the President offered what he called proof of folded letter when he repeatedly waved at reported.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's the agreement that everybody says they don't have. Proof, but here's the agreement. It's a very simple agreement. So here's your thing, you know, they all say, oh, he doesn't -- I just give you my word. Inside here, and I would love to do it, but you will freeze action it, you will you stop it. So right here is the agreement. It's very simple. It's right here. Ad in here is everything you want to talk about. Done. It's done. It's done. It's all done.


COOPER: It's like the Wonka Golden Ticket. There is actually writing on the letter, according to multiple reports. There is nothing that would constitute proof of a secret deal.

CNN Global Affairs Analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Max Boot joins us now. I mean, whatever was or wasn't on the paper, it's certainly so classic President Trump to like drum up a dramatic reveal.


COOPER: Whether or not the reveal ever takes place.

BOOT: Well, here's the rule of thumb (ph), Anderson. If you actually have a secret deal, don't take it out and wave it on international television. That's not what you do with secret deals.

But as you say, the writing was actually legible when he held it up and "The Washington Post" photographer took a picture of it which was then enlarge and basically what it suggests is that, no, there is no secret deal.

It was a non-agreement where the Mexican government basically said if there is not a reduction in 45 days we will agree to look at other steps to reduce immigration. So it's basically an agreement to talk some more in 45 days.

COOPER: Which is essentially this kind of -- it fits into how this whole thing has played out. I mean, all the things that the President said resulted because of his threat. A lot of it was worked out long ago.

BOOT: Yes. That was part of a pattern with Trump where he is both arsonist and fire fighter. He creates crisis and he claims credit for resolving them even though he hasn't actually resolved them. I mean, for example, he claimed to have a averted war with North Korea and there wasn't going to be war with North Korea, but the odds of one had actually increased because it was fiery rhetoric.

And now, of course, he claims that there is going to be all these tariffs, which should have been an economic crisis with the Mexico, and lo and behold, 72 hours beforehand, there's this great deal that he's negotiated that will end illegal immigration, except it won't actually end illegal immigration and most of it was already negotiated months before. So it's a complete non-deal.

COOPER: Also, one would sort of, you know, foreign governments think of this. I mean, the President literally showed his hand today. I mean, if you are making a deal, it just seems an odd way to go about diplomacy.

BOOT: Well, the whole thing is -- just shows why, you know, no foreign government can take Donald Trump seriously even though sometimes they have to deal with him because he can do actual bad things to them.

They can't them him seriously as a negotiating partner because, remember, there was actually an agreement that he (INAUDIBLE) at the USMCA to replace NAFTA, which was supposed to be a much better free trade agreement with the Mexico and Canada. And then he ignored the terms of that agreement by threatening these massive tariffs with Mexico.

The Mexicans negotiated with him and, of course, they didn't make any real concessions. He claims that they did but, you know, this was kind of a pattern with him where he will create these crisis and then pretend to resolve them even though he hasn't really resolve them.

[20:35:09] And I think what foreign governments are saying is this guy is a bluffer. He is a very bad poker player. He is so eager for a victory tweet that he will issue a victory tweet even though there's no actually victory there.

COOPER: Well, he also talked about Kim Jong-un today. Again, his appreciation for a murderous dictator is extraordinary. I mean, again, he talks about a beautiful letter, not letting the CIA, you know, not have anybody spy on him. It's kind of remarkable.

BOOT: Yes. I mean, this is -- you know, Trump lives in this bizarre world where he treats our friends as if they are enemies and treats our enemies as if they were friends. And, you know, he is blustering against Mexico, which is one of our closest allies and trade partners. And he's saying that he has a beautiful relationship with Kim Jong-un.

And, you know, he doesn't have anything bad to say about the fact that his buddy in Pyongyang, which whom he is supposedly in love, assassinated his brother using weapons of mass destruction at an international airport. He has not one negative thing to say about that.

COOPER: Right, two women putting chemical weapons in the guy's face. BOOT: Right. Instead, he is promising Kim Jong-un that he is not going to authorize essentially the CIA to recruit assets who could spy on the leader of North Korea, which is as crazy as you can imagine, because if they had recruited his brother, that would have been a huge victory for the United States.

COOPER: Yes. Max Boot, appreciate it. Thank you as always.

BOOT: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, Jon Stewart ripping lawmakers over benefits from 9/11 first responders. Take a look.


JON STEWART, TESTIFYING FOR 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS: Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity, time.



[20:40:39] COOPER: Earlier today, comedian Jon Stewart appeared before Congress with 9/11 first responders and members of Congress to argue for something that should get more attention in this country, the fund that provide support for the families of those who gave their lives and those who are still giving their lives where their health is running out of money and must be reauthorized. In his testimony, Stewart pleaded for Congress to make this a top priority.


STEWART: Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one, shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed for yourselves for those that aren't here, but you won't be because accountability doesn't appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.

The official FDNY response time to 9/11 was five seconds. Five seconds, that's how long it took for FDNY, for NYPD, for port authority, for EMS to respond to an urgent need from the public, five seconds.

Hundreds died in an instant. Thousands more poured in to continue to fight for their brothers and sisters. The breathing problems started almost immediately and they were told they weren't sick, they were crazy.

And then as the illnesses got worse and things became more apparent, well, OK, you're sick, but it's not from the pile. And then when the science became irrefutable, OK, it's the pile. But this is a New York issue. I don't know if we have the money and I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I'm angry and you should be too and they're all angry as well. Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity, time. Its one thing they're running out of. And the idea that you can only give them five more years in the CVF because you're not quite sure what's going to happen five years from now, well, I can tell you, I'm pretty sure what's going to happen five years from now. More of these men and women are going to get sick and they are going to die.


COOPER: Congresswoman Carol Maloney of New York represents part of Manhattan, was at the witness table today with Stewart and several 9/11 first responders. Representative Maloney, you're clearly a supporter of this bill. You're wearing a fireman's jacket right there. Can you just explain why this funding is even an issue? I mean, shouldn't funding for the healthcare of first responders be a non-issue?

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): It should be a non-issue. And Jon Stewart has every right to be angry, so am I, but I'm hopeful we will be reporting the bill out of the committee tomorrow. We have over 311 co-sponsors for the bill, which is a large, large number for the House and over 81 Republicans, so it's strongly bipartisan.

I hope that we will pass it on the floor of Congress before the 4th of July when we celebrate the principles of this country and values of this country, which the first responders are an example, so I'm hopeful.

COOPER: So, I mean, do you hear that argument that this is a New York problem? Why are we focusing on this? I mean, part of the conversation font, part of why it's running out of money is because medical claims from first responders are on the rise, more people are needing treatment. I mean, this is our long-term medical needs that are going to go on.

[20:45:06] MALONEY: Yes, particularly cancers. Cancers have grown substantially. A third of the claims now are cancer and it's a very, very serious problem. It's difficult to pass anything in the House of Representatives, but it also is hard to understand when we can give trillions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies for our cops and other things, which are -- all of which is important.

But we should be -- we should have the money for our first responders. They were there for us. We need to be there for them and we have a moral responsibility. Not only did they show up and be part of one of the greatest rescue efforts in history, but they were lied to about the health conditions at 9/11. They were told to go back to work, that it was safe to work there when it wasn't. So we have a double moral responsibility to them.

COOPER: Are claimants' payments already been cut because of the short fall in funds or is that just a concern down the road?

MALONEY: The payments are being cut now. We made the healthcare program permanent back in 2015, but we extended the victim's compensation fund for five years. That was the best we could do. We are now coming back to reauthorize it. The fund is running out of money. So the special master had to cut allocations by 50 percent to 70 percent, depending on when you when into the program.

Our bill would restore and make each family whole and provide funding for the families who desperately need it, who have lost their fathers, who have been sick. I cannot work. Many of them are dying. Many of them are close friends of Jon Stewart's. He's been working on this for many years. And for him to see them declining is extremely upsetting to him and many others. They should have their compensation and we will never give up until they have it.

COOPER: Congresswoman Maloney, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

MALONEY: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, new legal pressure by the House on the White House.


[20:51:27] COOPER: This afternoon, the House voted along party lines to approve a resolution paving the way for the judiciary committee to go to court to enforce a key action, namely the subpoena for demanding former White House Counsel Don McGahn's testimony.

Now, the resolution also authorized the committee to take its subpoena for Attorney General Barr to court, but they won't do that for now after an agreement was reached with the Justice Department on Monday.

Chris Cuomo joins me now with more on this and what he is going to be covering at the top of the hour. Hey, Chris. How you doing?

CHRIS COUMO, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing, Coop? Drip, drip, drip. You know, look, this is the question for the Democrats. What is your duty and how do you do it in the most expeditious and efficacious way?

I'm not saying that that's impeachment, but they have to make a decision, because you're seeing that the upside to and the inquiries that they're at their maximum powers, they'll get things through the court arguably faster, because that's the tactic being used upon them. This is going to take a very long time. Are they OK with that? They need to decide, tell their constituents and move forward.

Tonight, we have Bill Maher on. We have more from our interview last night. It made a lot of buzz. There was a lot left on the table where he goes into his specialty these days of political prognostication, what he thinks is going to happen, what he's afraid is going to happen, so we have that.

And then we have Katie Porter on, you know, one of these, you know, charging young lions within the Democratic Party, the congressman from California, Katie Porter obviously. What she thinks they should do going forward? So Katie Porter is going to be on to answer for the new left, Bill Maher is here for the concerns for the old guard. COOPER: All right. That's about seven minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much. Of course, are you the old guard or are you new guard?

CUOMO: I am definitely old guard. I am the oldest person on my show.

COOPER: I know it's depressing when you're no longer the young person in the room. You're not used to be the young people at ABC.

CUOMO: Yes, but you have looked like this since I met you.

COOPER: I looked ancient, yes, since -- even when I was young. But nobody says to me, oh, you were prematurely gray. Now, they're just like, yes, you're gray, you're old.

CUOMO: I was looking at video of both of us during 9/11 doing the coverage. And your coverage then was brilliant, the stories that you brought at that time. I look like my son. I look nothing like I look today. It's totally changed. You look the same, except for the glasses, which we all know you don't need.

COOPER: I wish. If only. If only I could figure out how to put contact lenses in my eyes, which I can't, though I've had many lessons. All right, Chris, I'll see you soon.

Just ahead, a story that just blew me away. So many kids in need in this country, kids who are homeless, in foster care, kids struggling with life threatening illnesses, you're going to meet a Colorado teacher who had one student, a 13-year-old boy, dealing with all of those things. And we'll tell you what he did for this little boy.


[20:57:40] COOPER: There's obvious a lot of division polarization in the world today. But from Colorado tonight, I want you to know about this story. A math teacher named Finn Lanning has agreed to care for and pay for the upkeep of one of his seriously ill students.

Now, the student is 13 years old. His name is Damien. His kidney's failed when he was 8. He's been in dialysis ever since 12 hours a day. And on top of that, he'd been in foster care, but it was too much for many foster families to deal with so he's going to have to live in a hospital so he can actually get dialysis. But because he was considered homeless, he was initially taken off of the kidney transplant list.

Well, thanks to Finn, Damien now has a home. He is back on the list for a kidney transplant. I spoke with both of them earlier and I asked Damien, who says he wants to be a chef when he grows up, what he wants to eat once he can get off the transplant diet and what he wants to eat when he receives a transplant.


COOPER: I understand that once you get the transplant that you can actually eat a bigger variety of food, because you've been on kind of a restricted diet. What are you looking forward to eating?

DAMIEN, WAITING FOR KIDNEY DONATION: I'm a big fan of like fast food. So like, I like 7/11 nachos because they're like super greasy, that fake plasticky cheese that you can get at anywhere else.

COOPER: Wait a minute, I love that you're describing plasticky cheese as a good thing.

DAMIEN: It's amazing, as long as it tastes good.

COOPER: Listen, I'm actually McDonald's person. I like the McDonald's number one meal, the big mac, the fries, the coke.


COOPER: I have not tried the cheesy -- the plasticky cheese, though, at 7/11. I've got to check that out. Finn, are you a big fan of plasticky cheese at 7/11?

FINN LANNING, FOSTERING HIS STUDENT: Not so much. I'll give him mine after transplant. He can have all of my plastic cheese.

COOPER: Finn, I mean, did you know you were ready? I mean, obviously you're a teacher. You've worked with middle school kids. So, you know, you have a love of kids and you deal with kids. But, I mean, this is incredible commitment. I'm totally boring Damien, I feel bad.

DAMIEN: Oh, no, I just didn't sleep that well last night.

COOPER: It's OK. I'm not offended. Don't worry about it. But, yes, I mean, did you -- Finn, did you know you were ready for this challenge?

LANNING: You know, that's a good question. I spent a long time really thinking about that because, you know, I was compelled immediately to do whatever I could for this kid, but I was also really concerned about making sure that I could follow through with that commitment.

There's been a number of people in Damien's life that have, you know, with all the best intentions attempted to give him some help and weren't able to follow through on that. And I didn't want to be another person that let him down.


COOPER: All right, contribute to Go Fund Me page both -- to help both Finn and Damien. You can do so at the address on your screen.

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