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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Gloria Vanderbilt Dead at 95; U.S. Sending 1,000 Additional Troops to Middle East; Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is Interviewed about Troops Deployment in the Middle East; NYT Times: Intel Officials Hesitant to Fully Brief President Trump on Escalating U.S. Cyberattacks on Russia; U.S. Sending 1,000 Additional Troops To Middle East Amid Escalating Tensions With Iran After Tanker Attack; NY Times: Intel Officials Hesitant To Fully Brief President Trump On Escalating U.S. Cyberattacks On Russia; Trump Pollsters Fired After Leaks Show Biden Ahead; Sources: Biden Campaign Keeping Close Eye On Elizabeth Warren, Believe She's Cutting Into Left Wing Support For Bernie Sanders; Remembering Gloria Vanderbilt. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 17, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:14] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson, and here for a reason.
Anderson lost his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, this morning. So, we begin tonight but honoring her with a beautiful story so tenderly told by Anderson about a remarkable woman.
We feel his loss deeply here but anyone that had the chance to see them together knows how lucky he is to have the memories he has and to be the best part of the story he was kind enough to leave us tonight.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360" (voice-over): Gloria Vanderbilt, my mom, lived her entire life in the public eye. Born in 1924, her father, Reginald Vanderbilt, was heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune but gambled away most of his inheritance and died when my mom was just a baby.
Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, her mother, wasn't ready to be a mom or a widow.
My mom grew up in France, not knowing anything about the Vanderbilt family or the money that she would inherit when she turned 21. She had no idea the trouble that money would create.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here is the first movie of little Gloria herself. Frightened by the curious crowd, she flees into her aunt's car. Money isn't everything.
COOPER: When she was 10, her father's sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sued to have my mom taken away from her own mother. It was a custody battle the likes of which the world had never seen. It was called the trial of the century, and it took place during the height of the depression, making headlines every day for months. The court awarded custody of my mom to her Aunt Gertrude, whom she
barely knew. The judge also fired the one person my mom truly loved and needed, her nanny, whom she called dodo.
GLORIA VANDERBILT, MOTHER OF ANDERSON COOPER: She was my mother, my father. She was everything. She was my lifeline. She was all I had.
COOPER: As a teenager, she tried to avoid the spotlight, but reporters and cameramen would follow her everywhere. She was determined to make something of her life, determined to make a name for herself, and find the love and family that she so desperately craved.
At 17, against her aunt's wishes, she got married. She knew it was a mistake from the get-go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wedding bells at Santa Barbara's ancient mission. He is Pasquale DiCicco, Hollywood actors' agent, and he's 32.
COOPER (on camera): He was described as a Hollywood agent. Was he an agent?
VANDERBILT: Well, maybe at one point he was. He had been married to Thelma Todd, who was quite a well-known actress, and she was -- died under mysterious circumstances. And there were sort of rumors around that maybe he had killed her, you know.
COOPER: Wait a minute.
COOPER: Wait a minute. So you got married to a guy who there were rumors that he had killed his former wife?
VANDERBILT: Yes, yes.
COOPER: Did that not seem to give you pause?
VANDERBILT: Well, I thought all he needs is me, you know, to --
COOPER: Oh, god.
VANDERBILT: Sweetheart, I was only 17.
COOPER (on camera): OK. I know.
VANDERBILT: You know.
COOPER (voice-over): At 21, she married again and had two sons with the legendary conductor, Leopold Stokowski.
COOPER: This is what he looked like when you first met him? VANDERBILT: Well, it's a terrible photograph of him, but he was 63
when I first met him and married him.
COOPER: And was this something like as soon as you saw him, you thought --
VANDERBILT: I knew him for a week and married three weeks later.
COOPER: I didn't know that.
COOPER: And he was 63?
COOPER: Wow. Did any of your friends think it was weird?
VANDERBILT: I don't know. I mean --
COOPER: They didn't say anything to you?
VANDERBILT: It didn't matter to me.
COOPER (voice-over): The marriage lasted more than a decade. Then she met and married director Sidney Lumet and then my father writer, Wyatt Cooper.
Over the course of her life, my mom was photographed by all the great photographers, and she worked as a painter, a writer, an actress, and designer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gloria, you're terrific.
COOPER: If you were around in the early 1980s, it was pretty hard to miss the jeans she helped create. But that was the public face, the one she learned to hide behind as a child.
Her private self, her real self, that was more fascinating and more lovely than anything she showed the public. I always thought of her as a visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who'd come from a distant star that burned out long ago. I always felt it was my job to try to protect her.
She was the strongest person I've ever met, but she wasn't tough. She never developed a thick skin to protect herself from hurt. She wanted to feel it all. She wanted to feel life's pleasures; its pains as well.
She trusted too freely, too completely, and suffered tremendous losses. But she always pressed on, always worked hard, always believed the best was yet to come.
COOPER (on camera): You think the next great love is right around the corner?
VANDERBILT: Absolutely. Absolutely.
COOPER: Is there anyone I should know about right now?
COOPER: I think Ben Brantley said he's never met somebody over the age of 16 who loves being in love as much as you.
VANDERBILT: That's true. I think we should always be in love.
COOPER (voice-over): And she was always in love. In love with men, or with friends, or books and art. In love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great-grandchildren. Love is what she believed in more than anything.
Earlier this month, we had to take her to the hospital. And that's where she learned she had very advanced cancer in her stomach and that it had spread. When the doctor told her she had cancer, she was silent for a while. And then she said, well, it's like that old song, show me the way to get out of this world because that's where everything is.
Later, she made a joke and we started giggling. I never knew that we had the exact same giggle. I recorded it and it makes me giggle every time I watch it.
COOPER: Joseph Conrad wrote that we live as we die, alone. He was wrong in my mom's case. Gloria Vanderbilt died as she lived, on her own terms.
I know she hoped for a little more time, a few days or weeks at least. There were paintings she wanted to make, more books she wanted to read, more dreams to dream. But she was ready. She was ready to go.
VANDERBILT: Once upon a time --
COOPER: She spent time a lot of time alone in her head during her life. But when the end came, she was not alone. She was surrounded by beauty and by family and by friends.
The last few weeks, every time I kissed her goodbye, I'd say, I love you, mom. She would look at me and say, I love you, too. You know that. And she was right. I did know that. I knew it from the moment I was
born, and I'll know it for the rest of my life. And in the end, what greater gift can a mother give to her son?
Gloria Vanderbilt was 95 years old when she died. What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom and what an incredible woman.
BERMAN: What a life. I had the chance to see them together a couple of times and the joy they took in each other was overwhelming and inspiring. We are thinking of Anderson and his family tonight. We'll be right back.
[20:12:08] BERMAN: We do have breaking news.
Tensions with Iran growing as more U.S. troops are headed to the Middle East and the administration tries to bolster its case that Iran is behind the attack on two tankers. Just a short time ago, the Pentagon announced it's sending an additional 1,000 new troops for defensive purposes. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan cites the recent Iranian attacks as justification.
Earlier today, the Pentagon released 11 newly declassified images it says were taken following the attack last week. The photos include one overhead photo, you can see it here, taken from a U.S. helicopter of what the U.S. says is an Iranian boat after the removal of an unexploded mine from one of the tankers.
The Navy also released this photo which shows the damage to one of the tankers from a mine that did explode. And there is this one, as well, Navy says this aluminum and green material is what remained after the removal of an unexploded mine.
Joining me now by phone is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Congressman Kinzinger serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
Congressman, thank you for being with us.
The U.S. sending these additional troops to the region. Have you been briefed on this at all? And is this in your mind strategically and militarily the right move right now?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL) (via telephone): I think and thanks for having me, John. I think anytime that there's any kind of threat to military personnel, you have to put the right force in place. One thousand troops is not an offensive posture. There's no expectation to have them go offensive, but to have those securing bases and securing personnel is extremely important. So I do think it's the right move. I have not been briefed on any
move changes. We're out of session now. We go back tomorrow and I'm sure we'll see more at that point.
COOPER: So, the Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said today as an announcement that the U.S., quote, does not seek conflict with Iran but with these additional troops being deployed, are you concerned? And this is one of the things we hear from around the world, concerned about a possible miscalculation by either side?
KINZINGER: Oh, sure. There's always a concern. And, you know, you always run into proportional responses by both sides. But the other side may not know. Look, proportional is to any action by the other side. So, this is always a dangerous situation, but in terms of protecting our allies, protecting our troops in the region, we have to put a size that's proper to defend that.
And I think be very clear, that we will not allow the Straits of Hormuz to be shut down. That we do have the capability to prevent that. We hope it doesn't go there. But that's really Iran's decision at this point.
BERMAN: So, the Pentagon released these new photos. I don't know if you've had a chance to take a look at them, as more proof that Iran was behind the tanker attacks.
Do you personally have any doubt that Iran did this?
KINZINGER: No, I don't have any doubt at all. I mean, first off, this is good information. You know, the only people you see that are throwing out things like false flag is Vladimir Putin and the Russians, and frankly, anything they say usually the opposite is true and some of the trolls on Twitter.
[20:15:08] And plus, there's a 40-year history of Iran doing stuff like this. I don't think they are trying to provoke a response by the U.S., but I think they're trying to go right up to the point so they can look as tough as they can without, frankly, inviting any military action. We don't seek conflict but I think Iran needs to be very much understanding that if there is a conflict, it will be one-sided and we'll win even though we don't want that.
BERMAN: So, the U.S. has had some international support here, the Trump administration, but it's hardly full-throated, and there do seem to be some suspicions about credibility.
Do you think that is a result over the issues with honesty, the president had domestically and the failure to build up some of these relationships overseas?
KINZINGER: It could be. It could be. Look, one of my criticisms of the president and I think he's doing a good job in a lot of areas, but it's his tone, how you talk to allies, how you reach out and build alliances. Allies are extremely important to us. It's not a one- sided relationship. But I also think, look, people are little skittish from the aftermath
of the Iraq war and things like that. That's understandable. But at the end of the day, we cannot, we must not sell out our national defense and foreign policy to any kind of mistrust like that.
And I think it's pretty obvious it's Iran. And I think most people, you know, that frankly can look at this stuff and understand it know that, as well.
BERMAN: I know you've been very critical of the Iran nuclear deal that was sign signed under President Obama in the past, but as you sit here today and we get the news that Iran is enriching uranium, do you believe that Iran is closer to having the capability to build a nuclear weapon today than it was six months ago?
KINZINGER: I don't know about today. I think they will be closer soon, but I think the thing to keep in mind is a couple points. First off, we're about halfway through the Iran nuclear deal before that starts to expire anyway. So, that's in the near future.
Secondarily, one of the big things the Obama administration omitted was the development of ballistic missiles as well as Iran's behavior in the region. What we've seen in the last few years in Syria, in Yemen, in Lebanon, is Iran expanding that. So, I think pulling out the sanctions has actually reined in Iran's behavior. So, I think that's a right to do.
BERMAN: Well, the fact is they have a bigger low grade stockpile tonight than they did six months ago.
KINZINGER: Yes, and I think they're doing that because they're trying to pressure Europe and us, frankly, to go back to the deal. This is a weak nation that is lashing out.
Look, strong, powerful, confident nations don't put bombs on innocent tankers. And so, it's obviously they're struggling right now.
BERMAN: So, Congressman, just one last question. A senior Iranian official warned the U.S. that -- warned the world that the U.S. and Iran are moving closer toward confrontation. Do you think that's what is happening here?
KINZINGER: Well, you know, any time anything like this happens, certainly going closer to confrontation. I don't think we're on the verge of confrontation, but I do believe that's Iran's decision. No matter what the conspiracy theorist say, we don't look for a war with Iran, but I think nobody should doubt that we would win if something like that was brought to our doorstep.
BERMAN: All right. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you for joining us by phone tonight. When you get back to Washington and you get briefed, call us back and let us know what you heard.
KINZINGER: You bet and my thoughts with Anderson's family, too.
BERMAN: We really appreciate it and I know Anderson does, as well. Iran is also raising the stakes today, as we just said. An official
in Tehran said they will soon step up enrichment of low grade uranium. Also, the Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom told CNN's Christiane Amanpour today that the United States and Iran are headed toward a confrontation, which is very serious for everybody in the region.
Here with me now, retired admiral, a former spokesperson to both the Pentagon and State Department, John Kirby, and also, former FBI senior intelligence adviser and CIA counterterrorism official, Philip Mudd. Both are CNN analysts.
And, Phil, I just want to start with you. As we just heard, the U.S. says they're sending 1,000 more troops in response to what is being called, quote, reliable and credible evidence that Iran is behind the tanker attacks. But from your standpoint, from the intelligence standpoint, do you still have more questions?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM: I have more questions. I suspect Iran did this. I think the evidence is there.
But if you want to go from I'm 98 percent certain to 100 percent certain, I want to see stuff like the communications. I want to see if there's residue on those ships outside the blast marks and whether that residue can be linked to an Iranian weapon.
I want to see more about the interpretation of the photographs was on those boats. Look, I got burned by the Iraq scenario. I want to get from almost certain to certain. But if you want my have a beer opinion, the Iranians did this and the information is pretty good about this.
BERMAN: So, Admiral Kirby, you've got a ton of experience in this specific area. You were actually on tanker escort duty in the 1980s in and out of the gulf in response to some Iranian mines.
Any doubt in your mind as to who is behind these attacks?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: Nope. Not at all. And I've talked to Navy officials and Pentagon officials in the last few days, John, and even though they can't share with me every scrap of the intel, they are certain about it and I'm certain about it.
[20:20:06] I mean, that is an IRGC speedboat we're looking at in that photograph. This is what they do. This is their main maritime as set, because they don't have big ships, and this is the kind of thing that they're only capable of doing, but more capable now than when they were when I was in the gulf and it certainly fits their modus operandi.
So, no, I have no doubt at all.
BERMAN: But to Phil's point about being burned by the Iraq war, and we're hearing that from a lot of officials and people around the world today, and to the point that Adam Kinzinger, congressman, Republican congressman from Illinois, just made, maybe there are some credibility issues because of the fact that this administration hasn't worked on its alliances now.
Do you see why there are questions for the Trump administration?
KIRBY: Absolutely. Totally agree with Phil and the congressman's points there. They do have credibility issues. Not just because the president doesn't tell the truth a lot. But because there doesn't seem to be any cohesive foreign policy goal here, no end state in sight with respect to Iran.
I mean, the president talks about just getting a deal and getting them back to the table. Pompeo and Bolton, they talk as if they just want regime change. So, there doesn't seem to be a strategy here and I can understand why our allies and our friends would be very careful before moving forward or committing to anything until they know what the Trump administration is all about.
But in terms of my certainty and my comfort level that Iran is behind this, I'm 100 percent sure of it. I'll say one more thing, John. It's important for us to remember that we wouldn't be here having this discussion tonight if it wasn't for some of the foolish policy decisions that this administration has made.
Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, increasing the sanctions, pulling out of the Iran deal. I mean, there is a direct line you can draw between these decisions recently and activities they are having to respond to and forces that they're not you have to flow into the region.
BERMAN: So, Phil, all of this is only escalating tensions in the gulf. If you're a U.S. ally, what are you thinking tonight as you're trying to make heads or tails of this?
MUDD: Boy, I'm pretty nervous here. I don't think this is an intelligence issue. I don't think the allies are skeptical about the intelligence.
They're going to say that publicly because as soon as they say we're certain the Iranians are responsible, they're sitting down with the United States saying, what do we do? And the allies are sitting there and they're saying, we can talk to you, Mr. Secretary of State, but if the president decides to do something weird, we're on the hook with you.
I think the next step has to be steps, for example, do you want to have more security for oil going through the gulf that includes ships that don't have a U.S. flag working in concert with the U.S. Navy? We've done that before in the gulf.
The message to the Iranians has to be, this is not you versus us with the Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese in the middle. This is the world saying, you can't do this. You can't do that alone.
BERMAN: Phil Mudd, Admiral Kirby, really appreciate you being with us tonight. KIRBY: Thank you.
BERMAN: Still more to come on our breaking news. Two former senior presidential advisers weigh in.
Also, a new report that the intelligence community doesn't trust the president when it comes to Russia.
[20:26:53] BERMAN: Two big international stories we're following tonight.
The first, our breaking news this evening. President Trump is sending 1,000 troops to the Middle East, as his administration offers new evidence to bolster the case against Iran after last week's attack on two oil tankers. CNN's Barbara Starr just reported that one U.S. official says the deployment will include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and missile defense for force protection.
The other story, the new one on the president's strained relationship with the intelligence community regarding Russia. Buried in a remarkable "New York Times" story about U.S. military placing crippling malware, that's commuter software into Russia's power grid was this detail -- military and intelligence officials say they don't want to tell the president about it. They described what the report describes as broad hesitation, because they are concerned President Trump might countermand or discuss it with foreign officials -- much like he did at the White House in 2017 when he mentioned a clandestine operation in Syria with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister.
President Trump dismissed the entire story on Twitter, calling it both a virtual act of treason and not true.
Perspective on all of this from two Davids. Former senior adviser in the Obama administration and CNN political commentator David Axelrod. Also, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, a veteran of four administrations dating back to President Nixon.
So, David Gergen, what is your reaction to this news that the U.S. is sending additional troops to the Middle East for, quote, defensive purposes, to address air, naval and ground-based threats?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Whenever American presidents send troop to the Middle East, the first thing you want to do is take a deep breath, everybody stand back and see if we can resolve this peacefully. We don't want to get into a war with Iran. It would have all sorts of terrible repercussions, not only destabilizing the Middle East, but our economy here at home. There are a lot of other consequences.
So, right now, I do think it's important that the United States share the evidence it has on what it claims to be the Iranians hitting those tankers. And share that with our allies, share it with Japan, and get their consent, and when they go to Japan, for the big G20 meeting this next week, see if they can get a united front coming out of there so the United States is backed up and Iran knows we have a lot of friends.
BERMAN: David Axelrod, your reaction?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I agree with David and one of the problems here is that we have not treated our alliances very carefully over the last couple of years. There is some doubt being expressed by some of our allies about the quality of the intelligence that's been offered. We've also had a president who cast doubt on intelligence over then, when you want to cite it, it creates a dissonance.
But it's vitally important that the world respond to this threat and not just the United States and that we don't miscalculate. The real danger here is as things escalate, there'll be a miscalculation on one side or the other and things get away from us and as David said, the volatility of this region gives everyone pause whenever an announcement like this is made.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, David Gergen, turning back to this "New York Times" reporting, this is the commander in chief, Donald Trump, being kept in the dark because of the possibility that he might reverse the operation, and I'm talking about now the cyber warfare against Russians. He might reverse it or discuss it with foreign officials. Have you ever seen anything like this where the intelligence community and defense community is keeping things from the President?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not -- well, actually, not since Nixon and I forget, in the closing days of the Nixon administration when he was drinking too much and people were really worried that he would make a bone headed decision.
But since that time, every decision about sending troops or making major advances and aggressive action like this on cyber, it may well be justified and it's important to remember that the Congress and the White House both delegated to the cyber command that the defense department that it did not have to brief the President. It didn't need authorization to the President to act in this way.
Even so, you know, good governance would require the President to be brought to the President and to have the intelligence community and defense community both saying we didn't brief him in detail because he might have changed course on us or he might have leaked this is to say that they're still worried that he has some kind of under misunderstood or secret deal with the Russians that he will act in their favor as often as he can. That is very, very disheartening.
BERMAN: Well, the secret deal would be the extreme end, David Axelrod. But even if they just don't trust the President to keep secrets because there is a history here where the President told the Russians about a Syrian operation and the intelligence community didn't want that, what does that tell you, David Axelrod?
AXELROD: Well, it's obviously a big problem. The fact that the national security apparatus of the country believes that he might pull back in a response that he might leak this information is very, very chilling. And as David says, this cloud still hangs over this White House.
BERMAN: So, David Gergen, CNN's reporting is that it's like pulling teeth, that's a quote. It's like pulling teeth trying to get the President to focus on future election hacking attempts. So, what does it say to you that his team is tiptoeing around him when it comes to protection the U.S. from future attacks from a foreign adversary? You could look at this both ways. I supposed you would say its good news that there are people who are taking action.
GERGEN: Look, I think the country is totally unprepared for the 2020 election from everything we know whether it's the national level, the state level in terms of protecting ourselves from disinformation and from hacking and these other things. We simply -- this Trump administration simply hasn't taken it seriously.
We haven't been mobilized. We haven't had sort of sense of emergency about this. I would say that the cyber story brings out the fact that on the cyber -- the cyber command has actually been working to try to contain the Russian disinformation and that to me was encouraging.
BERMAN: David Gergen, David Axelrod, thank you for being with us tonight.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, the polling numbers that upset the President so much he denied their existence. Just one horror movie catch here, the polls were coming from inside the House. And we're "Keeping them Honest" on this.
[20:37:07] BERMAN: Earlier tonight, we talked about what happens when a President, the commander in chief, is not trusted to handle the facts that his job and the constitution demand. Right now a variation, a President who seemingly cannot face the facts in front of him then denies the facts are the facts even while taking action that would tend to confirm that they certainly are the facts. And if by now you've got that queasy down the rabbit hole feeling coming on, just remember, you've been warned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The President last summer. This morning he wrote, "Only fake polls show us behind the motley crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focus on that." He's arguably right about the last part, it is early. As for the rest, he seems to be saying that any polling with him trailing the Democratic pact is fake.
"Keeping them Honest," though, that precisely what a number of recent poll show, most notably his own. Internal polling, which CNN was the first to report, suggesting he would lose to a number of Democratic hopefuls in several key states and lose to Joe Biden by a lot. He was asked about it Friday on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, they say like Ronald Reagan to this point, like Bush 43 at this point, you're trailing a lot of these battle ground states as you gear up for reelection.
TRUMP: It's incorrect polling.
KILMEADE: So what --
TRUMP: Yes, it's incorrect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Again, it's his own and it tracks with public polling as well. And if you still need evidence that, yes, they do exist and, yes, they're not especially flattering, consider this. Over the weekend the campaign fired some of the pollsters responsible for them. They shot some of the Messengers.
One source telling us it was done to placate the President. Another saying it was because they leaked. Either way, no one is saying the pollsters got axed because the numbers were, as the President says, incorrect or as he suggested in his tweet this morning, that they do not exist.
More now from CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House tonight. Abby, despite what the President said publicly about this polling being fake, your sources tell a different story.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. They do in fact exist, which is the source of President Trump's anger over the last several days. He has been very much fixated on this issue. Fixated are the reporting about this polling because it seems to show that he would struggle if the election were held today. And he would struggle in particular against Joe Biden.
The President wants the world to believe that he is the strongest position today as he has ever been, but the numbers just simply don't bare that out and the President's campaign isn't even bothering really to deny that those poll numbers exist. They're just trying to down play them, trying to say that the numbers are old, trying to say that they've done new polling, that's not even comparable to the original reporting.
[20:40:02] They're talking about issue area polling. They're saying they polled certain issues and that the President's version of those issues polled better than the Democrats version, but that's very different from a head-to-head poll and I think that's why you've seen the President really lash out here, really pushing his campaign to deal with the issue of the leak more so than the underlying problem, which is what's going on with President Trump and these battle ground states and why is it that at this stage in this presidency with the economy going so well he seems to be having such a hard time.
BERMAN: And to that last point, there's reporting that these internal poll numbers were leaked to get the attention of the President, that there is some kind of a problem here.
PHILLIP: That's right. I mean, I think this is one of those ways that sometimes the President's staff tries to talk to him through the media, through the medium that he is most likely to listen to when the presidencies reporting about these poll numbers on television, it's really going to penetrate and it in fact did.
You know, our sources tell us that this is a sign from the campaign the very fact that these poll numbers were released so that the campaign wasn't even bothering to deny them. It's a sign that they were concerned about the numbers, that they believed they had a lot of work to do in order to get the President where he needs to be.
And in fact, they'd started to look to expand the map looking at unconventional places like Oregon and New Mexico that they might be able to flip so that the President can compensate for his weakness in other areas. But clearly, it has gotten the President's attention, I think particularly the part about him losing to Joe Biden potentially has gotten his attention.
And on that point, the campaign has also been trying to get the President to stop talking about Joe Biden directly to direct his attention more generally to the Democratic field. And I think there's a sense here that if they can convince him that there's a reason for them to get him off Joe Biden and start -- stop elevating Joe Biden that they can really get that message to penetrate to him in enough time for him to really turn this whole thing around.
BERMAN: Abby Phillip for us at the White House tonight. Abby, thank you very much.
Joining us now, two seasoned campaigners and CNN Contributors, 2016 Trump adviser, Steve Cortes, and former South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers. Steve, there are a million ways to answer questions about polls. I can think of three, right now.
Number one, we don't talk about internal polls. Number two, the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. Number three, for Donald Trump, the polls were wrong about me four years ago or two years ago, why do I care about this now? But why lie? Why deny the existence of something when your own campaign isn't denying it anymore?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, look, first of all, for you to use a charged word like lie, the President didn't lie. He's saying that there are polls that are very positive for the campaign, there are polls that are worrying for the campaign and that's very true. And that is not a lie to point that out.
Look, I think also it's healthy for the campaign to be worried. If you're not worried, you're probably not working as hard as you should be. So I don't think anyone involved, whether it's the President or people like me attached to the campaign believe this is going to be a cake walk. We've got hard work to do ahead.
But there are also really, really promising signs and one of them for instance, if we want to -- here's the thing with polls is we can always sort of tit for tat. Yes, I agree it's worrisome. I'd rather the President be ahead in every battle ground state. It's worrisome to be behind in some of them.
BERMAN: You just gave --
CORTES: At the same time, we have CNN polling that shows that 54 percent of Americans believe, and this was just a couple weeks ago, believe that the President will win reelection. That number is higher compares to what Obama had --
BERMAN: Yes. So, Steve --
CORTES: -- in a couple of time before his reelection.
BERMAN: Absolutely. And you just gave one of the answers you can give on polling, which is different than denying the existence of polls. And when he called it fake news, when "The New York Times" first reported these polls, that is what I'm calling was a lie because frankly it was, because the campaign has confirmed the existence of these polls and clearly the President now knows about it.
Bakari, they seem to be getting under his skin, right? I mean, this is a President when he ran, you know, three years ago, he loved the polls. He would show reporters the polls constantly. So, this seems to bother him this time.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he would show the polls that had him ahead or doing well constantly. I think that there's two things. One, the President just has a fundamental allergy to the truth. He's had that his entire life, he's had that throughout the campaign, and he's had that as President of the United States. We should not expect anything different right now.
But, two, I think that there's a big issue and it's been going on since Steve Bannon was in the White House about leaking. And I think that one of the problems that the President had was that individuals found out about these internal polls.
These polls are deemed to be internal because they're not supposed to be talked about on CNN with me, you and Steve with all due respect. And so the fact that we are having a discussion about how poorly he's doing across the country is a fundamental problem that this White House has had since inauguration day.
I don't expect the President to tell the truth about pretty much anything. But in terms of polling, if he fired individuals because they were leaking, that's OK. But if he fired them because of the bad poll numbers, then he probably needs to fire some of the other people working on the campaign, not the pollsters.
BERMAN: So, Bakari, what does it say to you, though, that someone felt the need to leak those?
[20:45:00] SELLERS: Well, I mean, leakers have a lot of different motivation. Some can be as positive as wanting to get the President's attention and wanting him to focus on how to win this reelection and telling them how bad or how poorly he's doing. Some could just be trying to embarrass the President.
I think that a lot of times you have people in this White House who were there to serve their purpose, but they see how this President behaves and acts. And this is a salvo of embarrassment. So I think that he has to figure out what that is. I have no idea. But at the end of the day, the President has work to do.
Let me say this, though, to be completely honest with you and Steve and everyone. I'm the same person who thought Hillary Clinton was going to be President of the United States. And so with these polls and everything else, I take that for a grain of salt.
SELLERS: I hope that Democratic candidates are saying that, look, we still have to run hard.
BERMAN: Again --
CORTES: That was my point, too.
BERMAN: Yes, that was to me. But that right there is a perfectly legitimate answer when you (INAUDIBLE) a polling is bad. And, Steve, you can say what you want here but I'm going to misquote Paul Begala, but he said there's two ways to run. You can either run scared or run stupid. I mean, the running scared is the really the only smart way to run a campaign.
CORTES: Right. No, and that's why I said earlier, if we're not worried, we're not working, right?
CORTES: So that's very important for this campaign. You know, Ronald Reagan was down 10 points to Mondale at roughly this point before the 1984 election when he had an absolutely historic route. So things can change very quickly in the world of politics. We need to work very hard. Thankfully, we have an economy that is a micro tail wind, which is going to allow us to turn a lot of these polls around in a major way and I believe we will.
And I would caution, you know, to Bakari's point that critics of the President, the Democratic and winning allies in the media who are already celebrating, we haven't even had the kick off yet and they're already dancing in the end zone and they're already planning a champagne celebration in the locker room afterward.
CORTES: I see a lot of 2016 in that and as a Trump partisan, I welcome that complacency because it will be one of the reasons that we will out work and out hustle and out sell on the record that we have, which is the economy.
BERMAN: I will only note that Bakari literally just did the opposite of what you suggested. I think Bakari was saying that Democrats need to be very scared and not count on that poll --
CORTES: Right, I'm saying he made that point but --
BERMAN: -- and not celebrate it all.
CORTES: He made that point, but there is tremendous celebration going on right now in Trump skeptic circles and media and politics and I'm saying that their complacency or their early celebration to me is actually a positive sign for us.
BERMAN: I think people are just watching and reporting. Steve Cortes, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much for being with us.
CORTES: Thank you.
BERMAN: So speaking of the 2020 election, which Democratic opponent is former vice president keeping his focus on these days? It might not be who you think. That's next.
[20:51:42] BERMAN: All right. CNN's Jeff Zeleny tonight reports that the Joe Biden campaign is now keeping a close eye on the rise of Elizabeth Warren. That's because his advisers say the campaign believes she is eating into Bernie Sanders' support for the party's left wing.
In addition, Zeleny reports they are concerned with Warren's increasing popularity. Team Biden is also watching the rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his increasing poll numbers.
We are joined now by Chris Cuomo in advance of "Cuomo Prime Time." And, Chris, look, a multi-candidate field. We like to say politics is three-dimensional chess. It's more like three-dimensional whack amole.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I was going to say, who says its chess? But, you know, these days it's more like a bean bag toss. But, look, you've got a need-want analysis going on with the Democrats. What do they want? What is enticing? Elizabeth Warren moving with the progressive agenda. They plan for everything.
Is that part of Bernie's part? Yes, it is. Putatively it is. But the larger proposition that the Biden folks have to keep their eye on is this need-want. He is the need, OK? He's not going to be the want. He's not a shiny new thing. There's nothing shiny or new about him. But do they want to win? Is he their best chance?
Do I think Warren is only taking from Bernie? No. It's something for him to worry about. Buttigieg is something for him to worry about from a generational perspective as well. And him selling what matters to him is a problem for them right now.
Also, J.B., him saying I can win, I can shame the Republicans into doing deals, they don't want to hear that on the left right now. They don't want to do deals with the right. They want to fight. So, need versus want.
BERMAN: Chris Cuomo, thank you very much. We'll see you in just a few minutes. We both need and want to watch.
All right, coming up, more on the remarkable life of Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson's mother who died today at 95.
[20:57:13] BERMAN: We want to end tonight's program the way we started, by honoring the life of Anderson's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who passed away this morning. A lot has already been said and written about her today and more will be tomorrow and in the days to come. But we think the best story, the best recounting of her life comes directly from her and her son. And the HBO documentary called "Nothing Left Unsaid" did exactly that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, mom. Hey, mom.
GLORIA VANDERBILT, MOTHER OF ANDERSON COOPER: Hi sweetheart.
COOPER: How are you? How are you?
VANDERBILT: Are you exhausted?
COOPER: Little tired. Yes, I'm all right.
VANDERBILT: And how you doing?
COOPER: Why did you want to -- why did you agree to do this?
VANDERBILT: Just because I'm a ham.
COOPER: You have -- I saw you have some notes or something. What are those?
VANDERBILT: See if you can guess.
COOPER: TPIO, INEP, they're -- what does it mean?
VANDERBILT: I didn't want to misquote Faulkner. So, the past isn't over. It's not even past. And I absolutely think it's true.
COOPER: So you feel the past is very much alive in your -- VANDERBILT: Absolutely.
COOPER: -- in your present now?
VANDERBILT: I think it is in all of us, whether we know it or not. I replay scenes.
COOPER: Scenes of your life.
VANDERBILT: Yes, as if it's happening. And visually I picture it. And it also influences my painting a great deal. And I've reorganized it, so to speak.
COOPER: I think one of the amazing things about her, she's been in the public eye at this point longer than pretty much anyone else I can think of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here's the first movie of little Gloria herself. Frightened by the curious crowd, she flees into her car. Money isn't everything.
COOPER: And I think the public perception of her to the extent that people have some sort of perception of her is very limited.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever else she may have done in life, Gloria Vanderbilt is best known as the poor little rich girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The delightful Gloria Vanderbilt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gloria Vanderbilt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gloria Vanderbilt is here tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome aboard, Ms. Vanderbilt. You look absolutely beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gloria Vanderbilt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In short, one of the most successful women in America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Model, actress, and now fabric designer.
VANDERBILT: Hello, I'm Gloria Vanderbilt, introducing my new collection of status jeans.
COOPER: I think my mom is a lot more interesting than the person people think she is. You know, she's got this public face. But the reality of her life is so different than what the public face is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: A remarkable life. The news continues, so I'll hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris.