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Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Is Interviewed About His Talk To Democratic Socialism; President Trump To ABC News: "I Think I'd Take" Information About 2020 Opponents From Foreign Powers; Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Is Interviewed About President Trump's Comments To ABC News; House Panel Votes To Hold A.G. Barr, Secretary Ross In Contempt As President Trump Asserts Executive Privilege On Census Documents; Hope Hicks To Testify Behind Closed Doors Before House Judiciary Next Wednesday; House Panel Takes Action On 9/11 Fund. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 20:00   ET


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

The president of the United States says if a foreign government came offering their election help this time around, and I'm quoting, I think I'd want to hear it, he said.

In other words, the central point of the Mueller report a foreign adversary including Russia seeking to influence American democracy, the man who took an oath to defend it says he's OK with that, and says his FBI director thinks otherwise is wrong. And Vladimir Putin's help, fine by him, apparently. He says it's done all of the time, just normal opposition research, says President Trump.

History says otherwise. It is not done all of the time or some of the time. It is not normal.

And as all of this comes at the end of the day full of other breaking news, including new reporting on the president's efforts to investigate the investigators. In addition to that tonight, Hope Hicks, a long time campaign aide, former White House communications director and one-time member of the president's inner circle has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Now, the question will be, will the White House try to stop her from talking about what she saw and heard which might have been plenty during her time in the West Wing?

So, that's just ahead. Along with my conversation with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on a very important day for his campaign.

We'll talk about all of that, but we need start with what the president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos about foreign meddling. Listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else, offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If someone called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.

But when someone comes up with oppo research and they come up with oppo research, oh, let's call the FBI. The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it.

But you go and you talk honestly to congressmen. They all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research.


COOPER: President Trump tonight claiming this is just the way it's done.

Joining us now is former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from the Life in Intelligence."

Director Clapper, is this just the way it's done?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It certainly isn't, Anderson. You know, I've run out of adjectives to react or describe a reaction to this.

Incredible, amazing, stunning and disturbing that the president would advocated use of accepting information provided by a foreign country, notably, a foreign adversary, and in doing so completely overlooking the fact that this could well be, probably would be disinformation, in other words, completely phony. And to endorse that and then in doing so endorse undercut the FBI and its director is just incredible, and I can't get over the duplicity of it.

Here is the criticism about the infamous dossier and, you know, you can't use it because it's non-valid. You can't accept it. That's -- in this case, well, you know, it's OK and we're looking into the future here, we're not talking about the past.

Josh Campbell in the previous segment made some great points about that.

COOPER: You know, I'm reminded of when candidate Trump said, you know, Russia, if you're out there, I would love to get those, you know, Hillary Clinton -- missing Hillary Clinton emails, the 30,000 e- mails, you know, if you're listening Russia.

And we know from the Mueller report, that hours later, you know, hackers, Russian hackers made attempts. It's essentially kind of echoing that again. I mean, it's basically a clarion call, saying, you know what, yes, if a country came to me again, I'd listen to it.

CLAPPER: The Russians are doing -- they're going to repeat what they did in 2016. They're going to repeat it in 2020 and now, what President Trump has done is encouraging them to do so. Again, it's just -- it's -- it's stunning.

COOPER: Yes. Again, you know, people just kind of roll their eyes at this point and it bears repeating this is not normal behavior of a president. I'm not even sure he under -- I'm not sure if he understands or doesn't care what the ramifications of this are.

But if any other president had said anything resembling this, you know, Republicans in Congress would have understandably, you know, called him a traitor.

CLAPPER: Yes, Anderson, can you imagine if Barack Obama, if he were still president somehow said something like that?

[20:05:03] The Republicans would be going nuts over this. It's, you know, it's -- hard to describe.

COOPER: The president saying that the FBI director is wrong on this. I mean, Chris Wray is the man he appointed. Again, if you're Christopher Wray, how do you react to this tonight? Because again, this goes against, he's saying don't -- he said maybe I would -- you know, I'd get the information and then maybe call the FBI.

In other parts of this interview, he talks about how he's never called the FBI for anything, maybe he's kicked people out of his office, but that he would never pick up the phone and call the FBI.

CLAPPER: I'm not surprised that he never called the FBI. That's not a startling revelation.

Yes. He just said flat out Chris Wray is wrong, and Chris Wray is not wrong. I mean, there are legal implications here and if you get information provided by a foreign nation state, particularly if it's coming from the likes of an adversary like China and Russia, you know, to me, first duty is call the FBI.

COOPER: The -- if the -- if a foreign government reached out to an American citizen and someone said they were of Chinese intelligence or a Chinese think tank and reached out to an American citizen, you know, with -- asking for documents or willing to give some documents for, you know, some sort of a contact, if that American citizen didn't contact the FBI, they could get in trouble.

CLAPPER: Well, they could. I mean, depending on the circumstance that could easily happen, yes.

COOPER: What do you think this sends? What message does this send to foreign governments, do you think, like Russia? I mean, we talked about this a little bit, but essentially you really believe this sends a message to them that go ahead, the gates are open for 2020 and I'm open for business on this.

CLAPPER: Oh, exactly. This simply encourages them to do something they're going to do anyway and, by the way, and the revelations and level of detail in the Mueller report which the Russians clearly had already gone to school on will be harder to detect what they're doing.


CLAPPER: And now they have the president essentially encouraging the Russians to continue to do what they did in 2016.

COOPER: Yes. General Clapper, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

We had a problem with the mike at the end and I apologize for that.

Joining us now is CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates; former Republican presidential candidate, U.S. senator, and current senior political commentator, Rick Santorum. With us as well, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, advisor with both Democratic and Republican presidents dating back to Nixon White House.

David, I don't even know how to pose a question about this. But were you surprised that the president would say this, given all that has happened thus far?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Shocked, but not surprised. This has become standard fare unfortunately for our president.

Listen, Anderson. What one needs to do is distinguish and Laura can elaborate on this, but Lawfare, which is an online publication that's highly respected, had an analysis of the law regarding this and it makes a distinction, if you're on a campaign and you receive information from the Russians and you have -- you're not a member of the government, it's unclear that you have an obligation.

But if you're in the government, with top security clearance and a person from a foreign government approaches you with this information like this, especially an adversarial country, you have an affirmative obligation to call the FBI. You have an affirmative obligation, and it would be breaking the law not to call them.

So, I do think -- that suggests how serious this is. Listen, I've never heard of any president before this when even talked to the Russians. I've never even heard of any staffer talking to the Russians. It was just sort of out of bounds, it's just unimaginable. I mean, the fact that we're even talking about this is sort of startling. But it is not surprising.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Santorum, you know, on the subways in New York, there are signs in New York if you see something, say something. We want citizens to call the police if they even, you know, suspect something.

What message does this send? RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, let's

be fair. The president said he would listen, but he would also send it to the FBI. He said he would do both.

The question is whether he should do both or just simply refuse to get the information? But he did say he would turn it over to the FBI.

GERGEN: He said maybe.

COOPER: And initially he did point out he's never, you know, never picked up the phone for something like that, and nobody ever would and Congress people don't do it and that Chris Wray is wrong, that you should pick up the phone.

GERGEN: Yes. Look, the president throws terms maybe, ought to, he has -- as we all do, he has filler words that we throw out there that don't mean what they say like, I think.

[20:10:06] So I took the president for his word that he would do both which I think, I don't think that's necessarily inappropriate as long as he refers it to the FBI. As far as looking at the information, maybe he should and maybe he shouldn't, but I don't think there's a crime at looking at the information as long as you refer it to the proper authorities.

COOPER: Laura, is this appropriate? If he looks at it and then decides to call the FBI?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I get that the president of the United States is going the route, listen, I haven't committed the crime, but if I had the opportunity to do so perhaps I would think about it because that's what happens in the real world is extraordinarily dangerous here.

There are laws on the books that say members of a foreign government, foreign nationals cannot interfere with the American electoral system. More than that, Anderson, they are very clear that an American citizen, including in a campaign, cannot solicit information from a foreign national or foreign government for the purpose of doing so.

So all of this comes down to the idea that, look, if you're actively trying to get information, opposition research, or however you want to coin the phrase to try to get a campaign contribution of sorts, that he would otherwise have to pay for, that violates the law. The idea here that the president is saying, well, you know what? Everyone is doing it, so I should be able to, as well, and in the real world, we would not prosecute this. We have a whole body of campaign contributors who would talk about this.

Now, I get Rick Santorum what you would talk about that the laws have not been so well-defined to what it means to be a contribution, whether it's the value. But at the bare minimum, you cannot solicit from a foreign government anything like this and in many ways this sounds just like WikiLeaks part two, solicitation of those e-mails.

COOPER: All right. SANTORUM: Laura, you're introducing a bunch of facts that George Stephanopoulos never said. George Stephanopoulos never asked if he was soliciting, he said, if someone came to you. So, the president wasn't answering questions about soliciting information. He was saying, if someone came to you and said you have some dirt and he was talking colloquially, and I think the president's words is often imprecise and not necessarily -- you know, that's why he didn't want to be interviewed with Bob Mueller because he can ramble and talk about things more loosely.

And I think he was talking more in a general, political context and we get opposition research all of the time and you get opposition research in the campaign and you don't call the FBI. I have folks who threw information at me and all of my campaigns, and no, I never call the FBI.

COOPER: Did you get it from Russia or Norway?

SANTORUM: If I knew that that information was coming from a foreign source, sure, I would call the FBI.

COOPER: But that's not what the president said.

SANTORUM: He said he would. He said he would do both.

COATES: Rick, the overall context that George Stephanopoulos is asking the question about is what Donald Trump Jr. did. Remember that phrase, if it's what you say it is I love it, and wanted more information about what was going to happen.

It is a fine line and for me as somebody who honors the executive branch of government and the president of the United States is there to enforce the law as part of his duty. The idea of skirting that fine line of, when you say, if you'd like to give it to me, it's a quick turn --


COOPER: I've got to get a break in. We're going to pick up this conversation after a short break, and we'll continue this, it's important.

Also, at this point, you'll hear for yourself the president of the United States more of what he said to George Stephanopoulos about his own hand-picked FBI director.

And, of course, Bernie Sanders, and the 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is going to be joining us in just a moment as well.


[20:16:20] TRUMP: President Trump says he thinks he'd accept help from a foreign power to get re-elected and then maybe call the FBI. If he remains meddling curious, to coin a phrase, he also in his interview with George Stephanopoulos seemed awfully FBI skeptical. Here's what he said when asked about Don Jr.'s encounter with Russians who are offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, alleging from the Russian government and the e-mail he got for floating the idea.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?

TRUMP: OK, let's put yourself in a position. You're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI?

STEPHANOPOULOS: If it's coming from Russia, you do.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what? I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life.

You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office. You do whatever --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book, he called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that's different. A stolen briefing book. This isn't a stuff -- this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI.

Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.


COOPER: Back now with Laura Coates and Rick Santorum and David Gergen.

David Gergen, it seems pretty clear in that that he's saying if he was Don Jr. or what Don Jr. did was totally appropriate not to call the FBI, even though he was approached by someone saying they were representing the Russian government.

GERGEN: I'm afraid that is what he said.

Listen, I do think Rick Santorum makes -- I agree with him on one significant point. If you're sitting in a campaign and someone who says I have dirt on your opponent, no matter who they're from, you're probably going to read it.

And as far as I know, there's no law that says you can't read it. The question becomes what you do with the information that you receive and who you receive it from, and on that I -- anybody who thought about this the first thing they would do is call a lawyer for the organization they're working for and say, what is the right thing to do with this bombshell I've just received?

You know, I went through this way back when in the Carter versus Reagan race of 1980. We got a briefing book that just appeared over the transcript that belonged to the other side and when we found out more about it we just called the FBI, and we wanted to make sure our skirts were clean and that's the best position you're in.

But I disagree strongly on the idea that he didn't mean maybe. President Trump has a long history of creating loopholes for himself. You know, he'll say something, but then he'll create a loophole that will give him a way out, and maybe he's essentially saying well, maybe I might want to keep it. After all, I got the first load of dirt against Hillary and if I sit here with it maybe they'll bring me a second load.

It becomes part of a practice, it becomes very underhanded and it's what undermines our democracy ultimately.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Senator Santorum, you know, the first response from the president is Don Jr. gets a call on this and he's going to call the FBI, I don't think so, and no congressman would do that. That's his gut reaction. It's only later on in the conversation that maybe he in his mind is saying maybe I shouldn't have said that, and that he throws in a maybe.

SANTORUM: Well, look, I mean, first up, Donald Trump Jr. didn't know for sure that that was from the Russian government.

COOPER: He thought it was.

SANTORUM: Well, he didn't know.

COOPER: OK. Well, the e-mail actually said it is from the Russian government.

SANTORUM: Yes, well, a lot of people say a lot of things and it's certainly not anybody recognizable with the Russian government and so someone says, hey -- I guess the point that I think President Trump is making is, if you get something that someone sort of alleges, you'll probably take a look at it and if it looks like this is a serious issue, which, of course, it turned out not to be, then maybe you take it to the FBI.

[20:20:00] But going to the FBI because someone and this is what I think the president was saying because something claimed something from something without having any kind of evidence to back it up, you probably don't do that right away.


COOPER: David?

GERGEN: I think -- yes, I just want to say one brief thing. It's worth remembering the context. This was a campaign that was already talking to the Russians about creating a back channel from if they get elected, a back channel from the White House directly to Moscow, to be able to go around all of the authorities and all of the intelligence agencies and the FBI and everybody else.

This is not a team that casually looked at something like this. They were very serious about trying to create a system outside of the system.

COOPER: Laura, if you're in the FBI -- go ahead, Laura.

COATES: Let me give further context here. You're essentially saying that someone comes to you and says hey, I've got this really nice Lamborghini. You know I don't own a Lamborghini, but you want to have a joyride with me and you say who among us would not get into a car that probably is stolen at that point in time?

Well, the president of the United States or somebody running for the president of the United States should not actively pursue the joyride, or should be at least astute enough to know that he's been named individual number one, I believe, in an SDNY filing about campaign finance and campaign contributions about trying --

COOPER: Obviously, she froze there.

Rick Santorum, does -- you, yourself though very clearly said if this were you, you would call the FBI.

SANTORUM: Look, if I got information that -- yeah. I think the president, if you look at the totality of what he said, I am a little uncomfortable with the fact that he seems to give the intimation that it may be OK to not call the FBI when you get information for government.

COOPER: Chris Wray is wrong when he says call the FBI.

SANTORUM: Well, I think he was saying Chris Wray was wrong with respect to his son Donald Trump Jr. I don't think he was saying collectively. That's how I read it, I could be wrong, but that's the way I read this transcript.

So, what I read is just the appearance that the president is giving that it may be OK to solicit and not solicit, but to take information and to read it is -- I just think the president maybe should walk that back a little bit and say, look, I would read it, but I would share it with the FBI is the right answer.

COOPER: Right, announcing you're ready to receive information is kind of -- it's kind of soliciting. Yes.

SANTORUM: Yes, it's not a good idea.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, always appreciate it. Laura Coates, David Gergen, as well.

Now, Bernie Sanders, he is, of course, the independent senator running for the Democratic presidential nomination as a Democratic socialist. Today, George Washington University just blocks from the White House and he made a case that all three labels draw, in fact, on a single progressive tradition, one that fits this moment in time and this particular president. Listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is my very strong belief that the United States must reject that path of hatred and divisiveness, and instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, and a path of compassion, justice and love.


And that is the path that I call Democratic socialism.


Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion.


This is the unfinished business of the Democratic Party and the vision we, together, must accomplish.


COOPER: Tonight, we'll explore the implications of that, the cost of taking up the unfinished business as well as the price to be paid for not trying.

With that, let's welcome 2016 and now 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, thank you for being with us.

I want to talk about your speech and this idea of a 21st century economic Bill of Rights which is what you were focusing on today.

Very quickly, though, just your reaction to what the president told George Stephanopoulos that he would take a look at opposition research or anything offered from a foreign government and even an adversary and then maybe call the FBI.

SANDERS: Well, Anderson, to tell you the truth, I am not exactly shocked. But I think we have a president who neither understands the Constitution of the United States or respects the Constitution, somebody that does not believe in the separation of powers and somebody who thinks he's above the law.

I mean, that is why I believe the House should begin impeachment inquiries on Trump. So, no, I'm not shocked.

COOPER: What changed your mind on beginning impeachment inquiries? Because it is -- it is something of an evolution for you.

[20:25:03] SANDERS: No, not really. I'm not here to tell you that we should impeach Trump. In fact, I don't even know that there are the votes in the House to impeach him and I doubt very much there are the votes in the Senate that could get him, you need two-thirds of the Senate, 67 votes.

But I certainly think that the American people need to understand what this president has done, his contempt for the law. And I think that is the process we undertake when we begin an impeachment inquiry.

COOPER: In the speech today, you talk about the 21st century economic Bill of Rights and you harken back to FDR, and you're kind of pitching this as a continuation of FDR's legacy and even Martin Luther King Jr.

Can you explain how this is pertinent to a vision of Democratic socialism?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Back in 1944, in a little-remembered State of the Union speech, it was the end of World War II. And Roosevelt said, look, we have a Bill of Rights in this country and we have a Constitution, I'm paraphrasing him, which says we have all kinds of great right, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and all of that is great.

But what we do not have is an economic Bill of Rights, we don't guarantee a decent standard of living to all people. That's what he said. And he died a year later and, in fact, that mantle has never been picked up.

So, what I am saying today is that are we truly free -- and this is in a sense what Roosevelt was saying -- if you're going out and you're working 70 or 80 hours a week because of the wages you're living -- you're working under are starvation wages? Are you free if you can't afford to go to the doctor in the wealthiest country in the history of the world and you get sicker or maybe you die because you can't afford health insurance? Are you free if you are a young, bright person, but you can't afford to go to college or you leave school $50,000 or $100,000 in debt? Are you free if you're sleeping out on the street tonight?

Anderson, half a million Americans including many veterans are sleeping out on the street tonight.

So what I am saying, picking up from Roosevelt, that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world now is the time to finally state that economic rights are human rights, that everybody in this country deserves a job, a decent pay, that health care is a human right, that a full education is a human right. A clean environment is a human right. Affordable housing is a human right.

Retirement security, we got millions of old people and senior citizens in this country who literally cannot afford the prescription drugs they desperately need.

COOPER: Yes, you are leaning into Democratic socialism. Obviously everyone has known you're a Democratic socialist. I mean, you are clearly trying to sort of explain what your view of what that means to, you know, an American population and many people who hear the socialism part and maybe not the Democratic part, and you know president ultimately will be yelling Venezuela to you as much as possible.

SANDERS: Yes. Well, that's exactly the point and the other point that I made today is that, in fact, people like Donald Trump are also socialists, except they are corporate socialists. They are prepared and do provide hundreds of billions of dollars every single year in subsidies, and tax breaks to large corporations and the wealthy.

Anderson, you will remember very well, the Wall Street bailout. Now, Wall Street is the epitome of unfettered capitalism. That's what they believe. Except when their greed and illegal behavior nearly destroyed the economy, they went begging to the Congress.

They were big time socialists, and they said, we need federal help, give us $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions of dollars in low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve.

You got the fossil fuel industry today which is literally destroying the planet and they get billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks.

You have Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in this country, Jeff Bezos, made $11 billion last year, that's what Amazon made in profits. They didn't pay a nickel in federal income taxes.

So, in fact, you got Donald Trump himself as part of his housing endeavors received tens and tens of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks.

So, you do have socialism in this country, except as Martin Luther King reminded us, it's socialism for the very rich, and unfettered individualism for the poor.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break, I want to continue it conversation. It's an important on, Senator Sanders, in just a moment.

Still, more ground to cover, including as we just started touching on, big money and President Trump's attack on Democrats writ large, and his take on socialism and the senator himself.

A lot more ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We're talking to Senator Bernie Sanders tonight about embracing the label with President Trump name (ph) and some Democrats treat as an epithet socialist, in this case Democratic socialist, which the senator today sought to weave into a progressive tapestry as it were tracing back to the new deal and before.

He also cited Franklin Roosevelt to open scorn for government organized money -- organized by money as FDR called it seeming to welcome as FDR did at the time the attacks on him that have already begun.

Here's President Trump at a Republican fund-raiser in Iowa last night painting Democrats as angry and extreme.


[20:35:04] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrat Party has never been angrier. They're so angry. Do you ever see a people so angry? For what? For what? These are angry people. Every day the Democrat Party is becoming more and more unhinged and more and more extreme. They're going crazy. Do you love it? I sort of love it.


COOPER: Back now with Senator Sanders. You talked today in your speech about compassion, justice and love as sort of the hallmarks of how you see leadership and your leadership. You know how the President's going to paint your talk to Democratic socialism besides, you know, Venezuela. Is -- do enough Americans know what you mean by that and what that actually looks like?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Anderson, that's why I'm on your show tonight.

COOPER: That's why I'm asking you.

SANDERS: Look, what we have to understand, for example, just for example, the United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right. In many countries in Europe, Germany, for one, you go to college and the cost of college is zero. I think in Finland they actually pay you to go to college.

In most countries around the world the level of income and wealth inequality which in the United States today is worse than in any time since the 1920s with three families owning more wealth than the bottom half of America. That level of income and wealth in quality is much less severe than it is right here in the United States.

COOPER: But as you know, the taxes in many of those countries are much higher than they are in -- the individual and personal tax are much higher than they are in the United States.

SANDERS: Yes. But I suspect that a lot of people in this country would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had health -- if they had comprehensive health care as a human right. I live 50 miles away from the Canadian border. You go to the doctor any time you want. You don't take ought your wallet.

You have heart surgery, you have a heart transplant, you come out of the hospital and it costs you nothing. Your kids in many countries around the world can go to the public colleges and universities tuition-free. Wages in many cases are higher, so there is a tradeoff.

But at the end of the day, I think, that most people will believe they're going to be better off when their kids have educational opportunities without out-of-pocket expenses, when they have healthcare as a human right, when they have affordable housing, when they have decent retirement security, think most Americans will understand that that is a good deal.

COOPER: When somebody is looking at you as a candidate, when someone is looking at Senator Elizabeth Warren as a candidate, both progressive candidates obviously. There are now several polls that are trailing Elizabeth Warren. It's kind of ridiculous to look at polls at this stage of a, you know, primary battle. But, she does not have the label Democratic socialist, you do. Is it a liability?

SANDERS: I don't think so and I'll tell you why. Look, I mean, I certainly have known Elizabeth for many, many years since she's a --

COOPER: She says she's a capitalist.

SANDERS: Yes, I know. And I know many of the other candidates who are in my view knowing them personally, well intentioned and decent people who want to do the right thing. But here is the point, Anderson, that I want to make.

One of the reasons that so many Americans are dispirited about the political process is they hear candidates come forward and say, "I want to do this and I want to do that and I want to do that," but nothing happens. And the reason for that is not that that the candidates are lying, it is -- we have to deal with the reality that we don't talk about too much.

And that is the power structure of America, the fact that the folks on Wall Street in the drug companies, in the insurance companies, in the military industrial complex, in the fossil fuel industry have so much power that no president alone, not me, not anybody else can do it alone. And that is why I talk about us, not me in our campaign, why I talk about a political revolution.

If you want to transform our energy system and you want to combat climate change, words are not good enough. We have to bring millions of people together to tell the fossil fuel industry they will not continue to destroy this planet.

You want Medicare for all? You're going to have to stand up to the insurance companies. You want to cut the cost of prescription drugs in half, which is what I think we should do, you're going to have to stand up to the incredibly wealthy and powerful pharmaceutical industry.

COOPER: And you're going to have to get it through Congress.

SANDERS: You're going to have to get it through Congress, but you're not going to get it through Congress when lobbyists and big-money interests control Congress. The only way that real change ever takes place, Anderson, now and in the past, is when millions of people stand up and are prepared to fight for that.

[20:40:06] And if anybody tells you that they're going to bring about real change in this country and they're going to sit down in Capitol Hill and they're going to negotiate this and that, they're not being quite honest because you're going to have to take on Wall Street and all of these other powerful special interests. And the only way that change happens, whether it is the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the gay movement, the labor movement, the only way it happens is when people stand up and fight back. So what this campaign is about is bringing together a mass movement of people. And I'm very proud that we have over a million volunteers already.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to return to the breaking news. Just ahead, I'll talk to a key member of the House Oversight Committee about his reaction of the President's remarks to ABC news that he thinks he'd accept foreign help in the 2020 election.


[20:45:02] COOPER: More now in the breaking news from the top of the hour, President Trump's interview with ABC News. The President saying, "I think I'd want to hear it," if a foreign government offered information on his 2020 opponents. It's pretty astonishing remark given what's taken place over the past two years.

Joining me now is Congressman Gerry Connolly, Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, which they voted to hold both Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over that contentious proposal to include a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Congressman Connolly, first of all, your reaction to what the President has now said about kind of being open for business to get what he terms opposition research even if it's from Russia or China or some foreign power?

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Well, I think the President has re-opened the whole question of collusion and the gated two years of denial of collusion. You know, he is fond of saying no collusion, no collusion, that I mention no collusion.

And today he said, "I would welcome collusion. I would gladly accept opposition research or analysis by a foreign power against one of my political opponents." That's the very definition of collusion, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. By the way, opposition research might be disinformation, might be false information damaging to -- that could be damaging to opponent. Some of your colleagues in Congress tonight are calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. Do these comments from the President -- I mean, does it warrant -- does that change your mind in any way? Does it affect it? Does it warrant it?

CONNOLLY: Well, it certainly affects it. And it pushes us further and further in that direction. We have a process that's under way. You mentioned in the intro our committee today for example voted for contempt citations against Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Attorney General, Mr. Barr, on a different issue, the citizenship question.

But across the board, I think the walls are collapsing on Mr. Trump, and I think he's helping the process, ironically, with comments like he made today. So I think there's almost an inexorable move toward impeachment. I don't think we're there yet. I think we have to let this process sort of self out. But he is certainly making it much more difficult for himself.

COOPER: And in terms of that contempt vote today, what happens now?

CONNOLLY: Well, I think we go to court. We passed yesterday on the floor a resolution that basically empowers committee chairmen like ours, Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, to go directly to court to enforce the subpoena.

So, hopefully that short circuits the process. It doesn't completely solve the problem of the time lapse in court but, again, I think it makes it more imminent and more real for those who were subpoenaed and facing this contempt citation.

COOPER: Could the Department of Justice and Democrats on your committee still work out a deal before this actually moves to a court fight? Because, you know, the House of Judiciary Committee, they were able to reach an agreement with the DOJ.

CONNOLLY: Yes, and they did in the face of the threat of a criminal contempt citation. So, yes, I think that's possible. But I have to tell you, so far the administration led by the attorney general and by Secretary Ross has basically thumbed its nose at our request that produced 17,000 documents, most of which are heavily redacted o redundant, documents we already possessed. They've been entirely unresponsive, not a single document in response to the very specific request we made with regard to the citizenship question.

COOPER: Congressman Connolly, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: All right, on a very busy Wednesday night, there are still more breaking news. What former White House aide Hope Hicks has agreed to do on Capitol Hill, next.


[20:52:52] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Hope Hicks, who emerged as one of President Trump's most trusted aides during the campaign and then, of course, later in the White House, has agreed to testify a week from today behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee.

Now, it's the first case where a member of the President's inner circle will appear as part of the committee's investigation into potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump.

Kaitlan Collins joins us now with more from the White House. It's hard to overstate how close Hope Hicks was to the President, also how much information she likely knows. The question is, what would she say or can she say and is the White House going to try to stop it.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lawmakers are going to be trying to get everything they can, at least those Democratic lawmakers, because as you noted, not only was she one of his top aides, she was also one of his closest confidants, closer than anyone else when she was here working in the west-wing.

But also, remember, she was there every step of the way during the campaign, Anderson. So as you noted, she's the first member of the President's inner circle to go before this committee. But recall, she testified before that time when she admitted that she'd told what she said were white lies on behalf of the President.

COOPER: But there's a good chance -- I mean, she might not actually answer many of the committee's questions, right?

COLLINS: Yes, there is. It remains to be seen what kind of privilege the White House is going to assert over what she's going to say. And they will have a chance to do that likely with some of her conversations of her time here in the White House.

But, of course, if it goes back to the campaign, they can't likely assert executive privilege in the way that they would here in the White House. So, that time is essentially going to be fair game for these lawmakers.

Now, of course, what is going to happen here still remains to be seen. It will be behind closed doors, but I should note we are going to get a transcript of what goes on behind those closed doors.

COOPER: And she still has a relationship with the President. I mean, they're still close, aren't they?

COLLINS: They -- it's not the same relationship based on what they had before. When she was here, the President could holler out for her from the Oval Office. The relationship has changed, we've been told by sources. So that's what makes this interesting is that, yes, she's still considered in the inner circle, but it certainly not as close as she was when she was working just feet away from the Oval Office.

COOPER: And is she working for the GOP or Trump re-election or anything?

COLLINIS: No. Right now she's not working for the campaign that we know of. She does have this new job at Fox. She's been doing public relations for them.

[20:55:06] And what we've been told by people who have remained in contact with her is that essentially when she left the White House after not only her time here coming under such scrutiny, but also that relationship with Rob Porter, the staff secretary who had to leave over those spousal abuse allegations, she really wanted to distance herself from Trump world to a degree. But, of course, you see her picture, you see her face, she's one of the most recognized people from this administration and from the President's world, so it's pretty hard to do that.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, thank you.

Up next, what lawmakers did on Capitol Hill today for sick and dying 9/11 first responders less than 24 hours after getting a scolding by Jon Stewart.


COOPER: I want to give you an update on a story we reported Tuesday. A House panel that got an earful from Jon Stewart has approved legislation to boost money for a fund that will help 9/11 first responders and survivors through the year 2090.

Stewart appeared, Tuesday, with first responders and others and publicly shamed members of Congress, some of whom were absent, for having to do this yet again.


JON STEWART, TESTIFYING FOR 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS: Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity, time. It's the one thing they're running out of.


COOPER: Well, the bill now has to pass the full House then the Senate. At a news conference yesterday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "We've always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way and I assume we will again."

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Anderson, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."