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Trump Administration Reverses Course On Census Citizenship Question; President Trump Congratulates Navy SEAL After Not Guilty Verdict; Friend Of E. Jean Carroll On Aftermath Of Alleged Donald Trump Assault. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Chris Cuomo is off tonight. Welcome to special hour of 360. We begin with breaking news on the citizenship question the President appears determined to try to keep on the 2020 census.

No fewer than 24 hours after his own Department of Commerce backed off its push to include it on the 2020 census, the President did a 180 on Twitter, which is the opposite of what Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said yesterday.

So tonight, as you might imagine, there is confusion inside the government and in the courts.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House, joins us now with late details.

So, what is going on here because it was pretty clear from the government yesterday they weren't going to push - they couldn't push anymore to get this question on the census, and now, the President tweets otherwise.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's basically a complete confusion, Anderson, because yesterday, what we heard was something that even surprised the court.

It's - the Administration said we're going to drop our effort to add this question to the census, just no more, we're going to print the census without that question. That was surprising to them.

And now, today, it's a total 180 when they're saying actually we're going to move forward with this effort to try to include this question on the census, which is raising questions for the Federal Judge involved in that case, and even people inside the White House.

The difference here is the President's tweet from this morning where he said it was fake, these reports that they were going to drop their effort to add that question, even though we have the Commerce Secretary, Anderson, on the record saying, "We're not going to move forward with this. We disagree with the Supreme Court. But here we are. We've told the Census Bureau to go ahead, print this question, or print this questionnaire without that question."

COOPER: Right. I mean, yet again, it is another example, the President calling a news story fake that is not in fact - that is completely true.

I mean the Commerce Secretary, you know, the whole government was behind this. They gave up. The lawyer for the Department of Justice, they didn't even seem to have any idea what was going on in a conversation with the Judge.

COLLINS: No, they didn't. And that's what's most stunning when you read this transcript of what went on in this hearing today, this hearing that wasn't supposed to happen, but was called because the Judge saw the President's tweet, she said, and was confused about it.

And you could even hear the confusion in the transcript if you read what the attorney for the Justice Department said. This is someone who has worked through multiple administrations, 16 years they said.

And I'll just kind of sum up, but he said, "This tweet was the - this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue - this issue just like when you did." And they said, quote, "I do not have a deeper understanding of what this means at this juncture other than what the President tweeted."

COOPER: The - the reality is the Census Bureau, I mean they haven't stopped printing the - the questionnaire, and that question is not in the census as it is being printed now.

COLLINS: Yes. And that's really what amounts to all the confusion here. What is this census going to look like?

Because today, another Justice Department attorney told the Judge, "We're actually still moving forward. We've checked with the Census Bureau. They are still printing this questionnaire as we speak."

So, the question is, is that going to go out or are they going to try to delay it, as we clearly have seen the President say he would like? But seriously, it is just a lot of confusion here, Anderson.

It's kind of hard to understate what is going on here because you'll remember when the Supreme Court froze this, they said it wasn't because they were going to completely rule it out, but they wanted the administration to just simply make a better argument.

And now, they said they weren't going to do it, and now they're trying to say they are.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

Let's get perspective now from CNN Political Analyst and USA Today Columnist Kirsten Powers, also CNN Legal Commentator and former Trump White House Lawyer, Jim Schultz.

Jim, I mean this is clearly not what a well-functioning government looks like. But - but it - does it make any sense to you that the President would say this is fake, this - this story, when in fact it was all confirmed by the Commerce Department, by Wilbur Ross, by attorneys, for the government yesterday?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Looks like the Head of the Executive Branch changed his mind, Anderson. And - and that's well within his province to do so.

The timing is going to present some serious challenges in order to effectuate this change. And I'm sure that's something that they're scrambling to deal with tonight, in addition to the legal issues that the Justice Department has to deal with.

COOPER: Changed his mind or, Kirsten, or didn't understand what was actually happening, which he must have been told about?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean it's hard to know exactly what happened here. I do have to say that it is surprising to me that this wasn't predicted by Wilbur Ross and anybody else involved in this, because this is kind of the President's MO, is to blow things up at the last minute.

And I think because the Supreme Court did make it clear that you could come back with a rationale, perhaps, you know, that there was a possibility that it's not surprising to me that actually this is what Donald Trump would want to do, that he wouldn't just lay down arms, and say, "You know, let's just forget it," if - if - if he was convinced that there was a way to move forward, which is obviously, I think what happened.

COOPER: Jim, some have suggested to - to Maggie Haberman--


[21:05:00] COOPER: --that some supporters of the President that this, even if it doesn't end up on the census, this question of "Are you a citizen or - or not," that it serves the President's purpose to throw a wrench into it right now, because it raises doubts in the minds of people who will be taking the census about what actually the government is looking for.

It might put fear into, you know, some people in the Latino community, some people who are - maybe undocumented about whether or not they should partake in the census, and therefore serves the purpose of what the administration wants to do.

SCHULTZ: Well I think you have to look no further than the Alito dissenting opinion in it to look at the rationale that maybe the White House is following at this point.

In the Alito dissenting opinion, Justice Alito said that - that in - in this matter that the - that the - that the courts really had no basis to stick their nose in this issue, in policy determinations that were made by the Commerce Secretary, as it related to what questions are going to be included in the census.

And they - he didn't believe it was the court's place to be involved in that issue. And Roberts left the door open for - for there to be a change of course here, or to supplement the - the rationale behind, including that question in the census.

So, they're well within their legal authority to do so. So, I - this whole idea that they're trying to scare people off, I think, is a - is a wrong one here because the court clearly left open the ability for the administration to put forth its argument.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Kirsten, the court also basically said that the argument the administration put forward was a phony argument that - that emails between, you know, DOJ and - and - and Wilbur Ross put, you know, put that argument basically--

SCHULTZ: Yes. But only--

COOPER: --proved it - proved it wrong. Kirsten, I mean do you think this is about, you know, under-representing communities of color--


COOPER: --and - and - and that's what is at the core of this because that's what--

POWERS: Well it's a--

COOPER: --that's what it - you know.

POWERS: --it's about - it's about under-representing communities of color. In large part, it's - it's a power grab. I mean it's an attempt to make sure that population numbers are lower, so that there are fewer - fewer people who are represented.

In this case, there are people of color, and there are people of color who are, you know, may be represented by - by Democrats. And so, I think the point of it is, is to intimidate them out of participating in this in one way or the other--


POWERS: --whether it's the President doing what he's doing now or whether it's adding this question, so that they can drive down the numbers. This isn't even a secret.

This is something that the Republicans, you know, have been - have been fairly open about wanting to do. So, I don't know why you're - you're acting so shocked by this.

SCHULTZ: You know, no, I think - I think there's a fine point to be put on here.

Again, going back to the Alito dissent that it's - it's perfectly - that he said it was perfectly reasonable for a question for - for the government to understand how many folks in this country are actually citizens, and that's a valid question--

POWERS: And John Roberts said the opposite. SCHULTZ: --to ask, and a number of the justices agreed with that.

POWERS: But John Roberts said the opposite. John Roberts said he thinks that there's a cause for concern here, regarding the rationale. So--

SCHULTZ: No. He didn't - he didn't say there's a cause for concern.

POWERS: --it's - it's--

SCHULTZ: As a matter of fact, he found that he - he found that there - that - that it didn't violate the enumeration clause, that it didn't violate the Administrative Procedures Act.

POWERS: No. He said that there was a rationale--

SCHULTZ: And the only issue that really came--

POWERS: --to be - to be - there was - there was a reason to - it was reasonable to be concerned about the rationale, and that they needed to come back, and - and come up with a better rationale. So, I - I--


POWERS: --think that, you know, you're - you're - you're picking--

SCHULTZ: Well a - a different rationale, one that--

POWERS: --Alito but there's--

SCHULTZ: --one that is the actual basis--

POWERS: Yes. But--

SCHULTZ: --of printing that.

POWERS: --are you seriously sitting here--

SCHULTZ: But - but Roberts by and large--

POWERS: --claiming that it is not the rationale of the Republican right--

SCHULTZ: --was - was in lockstep with the other justices--

POWERS: No, no, no, no, stop--

COOPER: Wait, wait, wait.

POWERS: --just stop.

SCHULTZ: --except for that fine point.

POWERS: Stop. Just answer this question. Are you saying that it is not part of - it is not being driven by the desire to drive down population numbers? Is that actually your position? SCHULTZ: No. I - I - I think the position here is the one that the court succinctly stated--

POWERS: Court--

SCHULTZ: --was that the purpose of this is to determine what - the citizens in this country, how many of them are actually - that the people in this country, how many of them are--

POWERS: So, you're saying that it's not--

SCHULTZ: --actually citizens.

POWERS: --being done to drive down--

SCHULTZ: And - and that--

POWERS: --population numbers. You're - you're - you're saying that like that that's what you believe.

SCHULTZ: I'm stating what the court said, Kirsten.

POWERS: But I'm not asking what the court said. I'm asking--

SCHULTZ: I'm stating what the court said.

POWERS: --what you think.

SCHULTZ: And what the justices of the court said.

Well, Kirsten, I think in this matter, if we're looking at this, the - the - the - the Commerce Secretary set forth a rationale. The - Roberts didn't buy it. They asked him to come back, and - and give a rationale that was--

COOPER: She's asking what you think.

POWERS: That's not what you're - I'm asking.

SCHULTZ: --the original rationale--

COOPER: She's asking you, what you think.

SCHULTZ: --underlying rationale.

COOPER: Do you--


COOPER: Do you want to say what you think? I mean, do you think this is about driving down representation, particularly in communities of color?

SCHULTZ: I'm not in the rooms. I mean what - I'm not sitting here. I'm a lawyer. I deal with facts and law. And, in this case, I'm not going to speculate what they're thinking,

and what their intentions are. I can tell you what they said in the briefs. And the - and they made strong arguments in the briefs, and won on most of the issues.

So, what I think and what I think - what I think is it relates - this really doesn't matter. It's what's in those briefs, and it's the arguments that lawyers make.

POWERS: I think it's telling that you won't really--

COOPER: All right.

SCHULTZ: Because I'm not in the room when those decisions are being made.

POWERS: --answer the question.

SCHULTZ: And, quite frankly--


SCHULTZ: --neither are you.

COOPER: Kirsten, I'm sorry, what did you say?

POWERS: I said I just think it's telling me you will not answer the question directly, yes.

COOPER: We'll let voters--


COOPER: --we'll let the - the viewers decide. Kirsten Powers, thank you.


[21:10:00] COOPER: Jim Schultz, as well.


COOPER: Coming up next, a former Democratic administration Defense Secretary and Republican Senator weighs in on tomorrow's President Fourth of July event, tanks, warplanes, and all.

And later, the first of two women E. Jean Carroll told at the time about her alleged sexual assault by Donald Trump, my conversation with the Author, Lisa Birnbach, who was the first woman E. Jean Carroll called, and she talks about what that conversation was like, when we continue.


COOPER: We are now just hours away from Independence Day celebrations, including the President's special event, complete with armored vehicles, military aircraft overhead, and possibly, although we're not yet sure, military commanders by his side.

It has, as you know, generated plenty of questions about the role of the military, and whether this is what the Fourth of July is all about. In any event, it is certainly happening. The President is tweeting about it, so there's that.

But also, as you heard, CNN's Maggie Haberman reporting in the last hour, current and retired Military personnel are - are expressing some concerns.

Joining us now is from Washington, former Defense Secretary, and before that, Republican Senator, William Cohen.

Secretary Cohen, thanks for being with us. If you were the current Secretary of Defense, is this something you would have tried to convince the President was a bad idea or gone along with it as being a good idea?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I would have argued it's a bad idea. First, I have very mixed emotions about this.

On the one hand, of - having served at the Pentagon for those four years, I was always inspired by being around our young men and women who are in the military, and their families, and what they sacrifice, and their dedication, and patriotism, and - and can-do-ism.

[21:15:00] And so, I'd like to see anytime that's appropriate to take advantage of promoting just how much sacrifice they - they give to us and do for us, and for our country.

But I also am a traditionalist. And the tradition in this country is for the Fourth of July to be Independence Day. And I think what the President has done, in trying to promote this as a spectacular event, he's sort of the ringmaster of the greatest show on earth.

And I think it comes at a time when he's attempting to politicize the institutions in this country, which we like to think are being completely independent.

He has referred to the military and to his Generals as "My Generals." He has referred to the judiciary as "My Court." He has referred to the Federal Reserve as "My Federal Reserve." He has referred to the - the Congress in a negative way, certainly in terms of power. So, to me, the most troubling, and - and to my - "My Attorney General," by the way.

But, to me, the most troubling is the politicization, the potential politicization of the military. It is one of the last institution - institutions in this country, in which the American people see as being non-political.

And when the President goes and makes speeches as he did in Korea, to say that the Democrats wouldn't do this for you, only I can do this for you, he is driving a wedge in this country, which I think will undermine our security, if he continues to do that. It is not his military. These are not his generals. Yes - this is not his court. Chief Justice Roberts said "We're not your court members. We are the American people's court."

And so, I think the notion that he's appropriating this day and this event to say it's about him, and he's been successful. He's been successful in now directing attention to him, which it's all about. How many people will show up?

COOPER: Right.

COHEN: Will he stay on script? How many people are expressing opposition to him?

It's all going to be about him, and the - the fallout from what he's done. So, I don't think it's a great idea. And I think the military, if they were put, you know, under oath, it would say it's a terrible idea for us.

COOPER: You know, I mean what is extraordinary when you - when you think back on - on him, as you just said, in South Korea, talking to U.S. Forces on the front lines there, in - you know, in a forward position, and - and in a what was supposed to be a non-partisan speech, saying, you know, the Democrats don't care about the military, and want open borders.

And, you know, the military represents the United States. There are Democrats in the military and, you know, libertarians in the military, and Conservatives in the military, and Republicans. It represents everybody.

For him to kind of assume that everybody in the military is behind him, and he has said himself, he has the military behind him, he has the police, he has construction workers, and bikers. It's just kind of a, you know, it's - you can look at it and - and it can seem ominous.

COHEN: It's a very divisive technique that he is using. He is not presiding as President of the United States of all of us. He continues to play to a hardcore base. He continues to drive wedges.

He continues to demean those of color, the immigrants trying to come in, Black people, in general. And I won't even get into the Harriet Tubman issue, in which he has postponed any consideration of Harriet - Harriet Tubman being on the $20 bill.

So, he's dividing it into White and Black or colored. And I think that is a very, very dangerous thing for our country. In the moment the American people become convinced that if you're a Republican, you support the military, but if you're a Democrat, you don't, it's going to divide this country, and make us less secure in the future.

So, I - I - I - I support having planes fly overhead. There's nothing more inspirational, say the Blue Angels. But we can do that on Armed Forces Day, on Veterans Day, on Memorial Day. We can do the - those events to celebrate the sacrifice of our military. But if you take a day like Independence Day where people gather on the

Mall, they bring their families from all over, and now to have to choose, are you going to sit down there where the President has VIP seating, or you're going to go down, listen to the rock bands, and the other country bands, and the performers down at the other end, I don't want to see this happen.

I think it's now going to become a tradition, as far as President Trump is concerned. This is a warm-up act. It may not come off perfectly tomorrow. But it'll be there next year and the year after--


COHEN: --if he should be elected, and I just don't think it's a great idea.

COOPER: Yes. Former Defense Secretary and Senator William Cohen, always appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

COHEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, why President Trump got involved in a military trial, involving a decorated Navy SEAL, charged and ultimately acquitted of murder.


COOPER: President Trump today congratulated a Navy SEAL found not guilty of the murder of a captive ISIS fighter, a potential war crime, after the SEAL, Eddie Gallagher had this to say about the President on Fox News this morning.


EDDIE GALLAGHER, U.S. NAVY SEAL: I want - especially want to say thank you to Congressman Duncan Hunter and Congressman Ralph Norman, and also to President Trump, for intervening when he did.


COOPER: In response, President Trump wrote "Congratulations to Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together. Glad I could help!"

Trump tweeted in March that Gallagher should be moved to "Less restrictive confinement," during the trial, which he was. President Trump was also reportedly considering a pardon for Gallagher before yesterday's verdict.

Military jury reduced Gallagher's pay and rank for the one charge he was convicted of, posing for a photo with the dead ISIS prisoner. He's expected to serve no time in custody, due to the time he's already served. His attorney said today that Gallagher will retire.

I want to discuss this now with Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Chief Legal Analyst and a former federal prosecutor, and Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN Military Analyst, and former Army Commanding General for Europe and the Seventh Army.

Jeff, I mean, is there any situation in which the President does not feel a need to insert himself? It doesn't seem like it.

[21:25:00] JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well it's hard to imagine a more inappropriate place for her - for him to insert himself, because Presidents in general have stayed away from pending criminal cases. I mean that - that's sort of a norm that Presidents have observed.

But remember, this is a military court-martial, meaning that the jurors and the prosecutors and the judge are all military officers, so they are in the chain of command.

He's the Commander-in-Chief, all the more reason why he should have stayed out of this controversy, all - altogether, and why it's so inappropriate that he got involved in this one, even more than a civilian criminal trial.

COOPER: And - and got involved not just once it was done with the tweet, but also even while it was going on with - with the float - the idea of perhaps a pardon.

TOOBIN: A - a pardon and just obvious sympathy for him, which was reinforced by Fox News, which, you know, that's not the President - I mean the President is not in direct control of Fox News.

But, you know, there - the - the idea that the President would weigh in on a pending criminal case in the military is beyond inappropriate.

COOPER: General Hertling, I mean, do - do you think it's inappropriate for him to have weighed in while the trial was still going on? Does it send a message to the military?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Before, during, and after, Anderson.

What I'll say is, as a General Officer when you're in command of an organization, they sometimes grant you the authority to be a Court- Martial Convening Authority.

That means you are the one that actually pass - passes the - the offense to the justice system, to the Uniform Code of - through the Uniform Code of Military Justice to the Military Justice.

Once they get that, the Commander no matter how he or she feels about it, steps away, because they want to let the justice system work.

Well the Commander, in this case, who passed this case forward to the judge, exited the situation, and let the military justice system take place. Now, the Commander-in-Chief, President Trump is his Commander or her Commander.

So, having him be involved or having anybody at a - a cable network saying what should happen in a trial while that's ongoing, even when you're just suggesting that maybe they should be placed in different quarters, is wrong. To say something afterwards is doubly wrong.

TOOBIN: I - I just quarrel with one thing. I - I don't have a problem with Fox News, you know, saying what they say. They're a - you know, they're using the First Amendment, and they were sympathetic to this defendant - this defendant. And, you know, that - that - that's their right.

The - the problem here is the President getting involved because, as you point out, he is the - at the top of the chain of command, which everyone involved in this case, the judge, the jurors, and everyone else was in.

COOPER: General Hertling, the other thing that's interesting about this case is I mean I understand from a political standpoint why the President might weigh - want to weigh in on it, and why he might want to show support for a decorated Navy SEAL.

The interesting thing about this case is allegations were being made by other Navy SEALs. So, it - it - it wasn't as if it was, you know, political correctness, you know, something that the President might define as political correctness run amuck. It was something that was between Navy SEALs.

HERTLING: Yes. Well there was a lot of unusual things in this case, Anderson.

I followed this very closely, knowing, you know, the results of how it is going to be portrayed to the rest of the command, to the rest of the military forces. And, by the way, that's another factor that you have to consider when you're talking about the military justice system.

So, yes, you're absolutely right that there was allegations by multiple members of Mr. Gallagher's platoon, other SEALs that said he violated the law of land warfare.

The other situation that - that really caused some confusion in this whole thing was the forensic evidence is not available because it occurred - all of this occurred in a combat zone, and you can't just go back, and dust for fingerprints, or interview witnesses, or find out who died.

So that puts a whole different spin on the - this - the entire situation as well as the one witness who was given immunity, and then testified that he was the one that actually killed the individual that Mr. Gallagher was charged with murdering.

TOOBIN: If I can just emphasize the point the General just made, the key moment in this trial, as I understand it, was this other witness, another member of the military, who not only changed his story, but said, "I'm the one who did it."

Now, how the prosecutors, you know, could handle that, is - it's very difficult for - for prosecutors to handle that, needless to say, and it - it seems to have led to the acquittal.

But again, that witness who changed the story is a military person, and that person is under the chain of command.

So, the idea that, you know, you had this last minute switch, we don't know why or how or what the circumstances were of the change of mind, you know, renders the President's involvement even more inappropriate.

COOPER: Interesting. Jeff Toobin, General Mark Hertling, thanks very much. Happy Fourth of July.

HERTLING: Same to you, Anderson.

[21:30:00] COOPER: Well coming up ahead, she was the first person E. Jean Carroll called after an alleged sexual assault by Donald Trump. The Writer, Lisa Birnbach joins me, tells me what her friend E. Jean had to say all those years ago, and why they never came forward until now.


COOPER: The allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump by Writer E. Jean Carroll are still echoing around the country and the world.

When I spoke with Carroll last week, her memory of what took place was sharp, even though she said it happened in the mid-1990s in New York City in a department store.


E. JEAN CARROLL, TRUMP ACCUSER, JOURNALIST & ADVICE COLUMNIST: And the minute I was in there, he shut the door and pushed me up against the wall, and bang - banged my head on the wall, and kissed me. I just - it was so shocking. I couldn't - of course, I started laughing again. Because--

COOPER: You started laughing?

CARROLL: Of course.

COOPER: Why? Why of course?

CARROLL: Because it was a way of - if it - it was at all erotic in his - it would - if a man is laughed at, it usually will make him - and he put his shoulder against me to hold me against the wall. And at that point, I realized that I was in a very difficult situation.


COOPER: Ms. Carroll said she immediately told two close friends about the incident. Both of those friends have talked on the record corroborating the conversations they had. But they talked off camera to The New York Times.

[21:35:00] Now, one of those friends, Lisa Birnbach has decided to talk with me about what happened in her first television interview. I spoke with her earlier.


COOPER: First of all, how did you - how do you know E. Jean Carroll?

LISA BIRNBACH, FRIEND OF E. JEAN CARROLL, AUTHOR: E. Jean was the best friend of the girlfriend of my former husband's former partner.

COOPER: It - it rolls off the tongue.

BIRNBACH: Exactly, exactly. So we met at some social gathering at this guy's apartment.

COOPER: So, you've - you've known E. Jean Carroll for how long?

BIRNBACH: I would say about 29 years.


BIRNBACH: And I - I'm basing that on when I was pregnant.

COOPER: Right.

BIRNBACH: I think I was pregnant with my son when I met her, so.

COOPER: And - and you would actually - you actually had known Donald Trump back in those days.

BIRNBACH: I wouldn't say that I knew him. I would say that I interviewed him in either December of 1995 or January of - of 1996, because he allowed me to be the first journalist to see Mar-a-Lago, as it was making its debut as a club, instead of just his - his summer or winter house.

COOPER: So, do you remember the day E. Jean called you?

BIRNBACH: I remember that it was dinnertime. I've lived on 93rd Street then. I had - based on when it must have been in 1996, I had a 6-year old, and a 2.5-year old. And like many phone calls at dinnertime, there must have been a lot of "Wait, hold on. Put that down. OK, what were you saying?"

You know, I mean I was a distracted mom of two little kids, and had other stuff going on as well. So, I remember her talking to me very fast, very breathlessly, laughing too, and telling me the story of meeting Donald Trump outside or right inside Bergdorf's.

COOPER: Was she calling you from the street because she said that when she left Bergdorf Goodman, she went to her bag, picked up a phone and--

BIRNBACH: I think she was, yes.

COOPER: --calling.

BIRNBACH: Yes. And why me? Why did she call me?

I think because - either because I had just written this story, and she knew I'd just spent time with him, or because I had a very easy phone number, and she said she remembered my number. In fact, she still remembers it, so, that might have been it, I mean.

COOPER: Do you remember what she said?

BIRNBACH: She - yes, some of it. She said, "Lisa, you won't believe what happened."

And she said, "I was walking through the door at Bergdorf's, and you won't believe who said hello to me. It was Donald Trump. And he said are you the - hi, advise lady, and I said, hi, real estate guy. And he said you're so smart. Why don't you give me advice on a present?"

And then she told me how she tried to interest him in stuff on the first floor, which made sense, you know, it was kind of a - a cute - meet-cute and a interesting thing to do with someone who is kind of a New York character, and - and then how they got upstairs on the escalator, I think he likes escalators, and then how they got into the lingerie department.

At this point, I thought she - my memory is - is a little blurry on the fact that I thought she was in the dressing room by herself, and he broke down the door, pushed the door in.

But apparently, as she told you, he followed her in, and she thought she was having, you know, kind of a play date with him. It seems like she was still laughing, and not scared.

And what I do remember E. Jean repeating many times was "He pulled down my tights," as if that were the worst of all of it.

COOPER: She repeated that several times?

BIRNBACH: Several times.

COOPER: Was she - was she laughing in the phone call to you?

BIRNBACH: A little.

COOPER: Because she said she had been laughing initially in the phone call.

BIRNBACH: She was, a little. Again, the laughter, nervous or adrenaline or whatever it was, plus "He pulled down my tights" made it seem like it - it was awkward and bad, but maybe not as bad, as it turned out to be.

And then, she told me how he pushed her against the wall, and pinned her, I guess with his--

COOPER: With - with his shoulder.

[21:40:00] BIRNBACH: --and it hurt. And also, she had just had maybe head trauma, I mean, I'm not a doctor, but maybe that's--

COOPER: She - she said, when he pushed her, she bumped her head against the wall.

BIRNBACH: Yes. And it hurt. And then, he, with his free hands, managed to penetrate her in some form. So, she said that. And I think at this point--

COOPER: She said he had penetrated her--


COOPER: --with his penis.

BIRNBACH: Yes. And at that point, she - she said she wasn't sure how far, you know, that maybe it was, I mean I can't believe we're having this conversation, but maybe it was some, maybe it was all. And then she managed to knee him, I think, and leave.

Now, at that point, I've definitely left the dinner table because I didn't want to say what I was about to say to her, "Stop it. Put that down. E. Jean, that's rape. He raped you." "No, no, no, it was just - it was five minutes of my life."

COOPER: You did use - you used that word to her that this is rape.

BIRNBACH: Oh, yes, that's the word that came to mind. That's the concept that I, you know, it seemed like it was rape.

COOPER: When you said to her that that's rape--


COOPER: --she - because she still doesn't use that word.

BIRNBACH: She hates that word. She - I didn't even understand that until now. But - but she didn't say - she - she demurred, and she said, "No, we were fighting. It - forget it. Don't tell anyone. We'll not speak of this again."

I said, "You should go to the police. Let's go to the police. I will take you to the police." And she said, "No, no, no, no, no. I just want to go home, and take a shower, and go to bed."

And even though I'm a bit younger than E. Jean, I - I sometimes feel like the mom in our relationship. And I said, "Well come to my house, and I'll feed you and, you know, we'll take care of you."

"No, no, no, I just want to go home."

But she asked me to keep this a secret. And I kept it a secret.

COOPER: You never spoke - did you ever speak to her about it again?


COOPER: Really?

BIRNBACH: Never. Never. COOPER: There was never a follow-up phone call saying, "Look, you

really should go to the - the - the police."

BIRNBACH: No. No. I never called her again about it. I went back to chicken nuggets. And you know--

COOPER: Did you know that she had called her other friend?

BIRNBACH: She - no. And nor did I know. No, no, it wasn't my story. It was her story. Apparently, she told Carol Martin the next day.

COOPER: Who used to be a - a local Anchor in New York.

BIRNBACH: Correct. A lovely local Anchor--


BIRNBACH: --with whom she - a colleague of E. Jean's on America's Talking cable network. And she told her in person maybe the next day, or the day after, also swore her to secrecy.

Now, Carroll had a whole different attitude towards the episode. And she told her so, "Don't tell anybody. This guy has lawyers up the gazoo, and he'll sue you, and he'll deny it, and he'll make it uncomfortable for you."

So between my - my well-meaning advice and Carol's well-meaning advice, E. Jean took really Carol's advice, and kept quiet about it, and I was startled that she told the story.


COOPER: I'll be right back with more of my interview with Lisa Birnbach. We discussed why E. Jean Carroll didn't come forward with her claims in 2016, when then-Candidate Trump was running for President.


COOPER: More now on my interview with Lisa Birnbach, one of the two friends, the Writer E. Jean Carroll spoke to in the immediate aftermath of what Carroll says was a sexual assault by Donald Trump in the mid-1990s.


COOPER: Did you ever think during the campaign that she might come forward, especially when other women began to tell stories that they say happened.

BIRNBACH: I didn't think she would. She's a very - she's a very self- contained person. She's - she's - she's an advice-giver. She's not really - she's not like a lot of people. She's - she moves to her own drummer. And I - I did not think she would.

COOPER: I talked to a woman, Jessica Leeds, who alleges that Mr. Trump assaulted her on a - a plane, and which he, of course, denies. And she said that she in - in hindsight wishes that E. Jean had come for - forward because there is strength in numbers. But--

BIRNBACH: E. Jean sort of thinks that these allegations are - are falling on deaf ears in this country, and I sort of wonder if that's true. I mean so many people ho-hum - have a ho-hum reaction to her story.


BIRNBACH: Even though hers is the most dramatic of all the accusations and allegations.

COOPER: Because she is alleging - I mean rape, whether she defines it as rape or not, I mean that's what it is. Well that's what an allegation is.

BIRNBACH: She - I - I think part of her not calling it rape is a generational thing.

I think E. Jean Carroll is not a victim, does not want to be seen as a victim, does not want to be pitied, does not want us to feel sorry for her, and doesn't want to prolong the conflict, the personal conflict with Donald Trump.

You know what? Donald Trump may not remember this episode because this may have been one of many episodes.

COOPER: Did you worry about coming forward?

BIRNBACH: I totally did not want to do this. Not with--


BIRNBACH: --you, in particular. No, I didn't want to because - because mean and devastating things are posted by people, who feel like this is a politically-motivated attack. No one's attacking here, you know. I'm just backing up what I heard on the phone.

[21:50:00] COOPER: And to those who - I mean the President said, you know, she is--

BIRNBACH: Not my type.

COOPER: Yes, "Not my type." And - and possibly--

BIRNBACH: She was his type then though. She was. I mean she's still a very stunning woman. But she was - she had long blonde hair. I think that's enough of his type. I mean she was glamorous, really glamorous.

COOPER: The - he's also suggested, you know, this is something the Democrats are putting out that she's a--

BIRNBACH: Oh, yes?

COOPER: --an operative or-- BIRNBACH: Oh?

COOPER: Do you see her as a big politico?

BIRNBACH: And not at all. I'm wondering if she even votes. I mean I - I know she cares about politics. But I - no, she's not.


BIRNBACH: No. I mean her thing is relationships. She's a relationship adviser. And I think she feels protective of her readers because they have followed her advice. And she didn't really follow her own advice.

I think she realized during the #MeToo reporting that if she were being a 100 percent honest, she should really tell the story of what happened to her, because she does counsel her readers to report, and to follow-up, and to protect themselves.

And so, that's why she did it, not a political motivation, in my opinion, or in mine.

COOPER: Well, Lisa, thank you very much.

BIRNBACH: Thank you, Anderson. Nice to meet you.


COOPER: Before we go, we want to tell you about a special new series ahead. Movie fans are not going to want to miss, what's coming soon only on CNN. A very special guest is here to help us preview it, next.


COOPER: This Sunday, the all-new CNN Original Series, The Movies premieres, exploring American cinema through the decades showcasing some of the biggest Hollywood stars, and most memorable moments, and films like this.





MORITA: Look eye. Always look eye.


COOPER: Who could forget Mr. Miyagi and, of course, Danielson. I got a chance to speak with the original Karate Kid earlier, Ralph Macchio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Looking back now at The Karate Kid, how do you - how do you see it? I mean that was you - you'd been in The Outsiders before then. You're already well-known. But that certainly changed the course of your career.

RALPH MACCHIO, ACTOR: You know, that - that film has, from the get-go, even though it was kind of a sleeper build success, I think it was Ghostbusters that came out that same summer, and maybe Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And - and - and The Karate Kid was one of those talked about building, building its audience, people returning, going back to see it, and people, you know, doing the crane kick on this - in the street. And that's when you sort of kind of knew where you might be making another one of these.

COOPER: Uh-huh.

MACCHIO: It was--

COOPER: Did you know? I mean, you know, nobody sets out to make a - bad movies. But did you know when you were making it that it would have that kind of appeal?

MACCHIO: We knew that Pat Morita and I had something special. And that came - it was evident for me by how easy it was to work with him, that sort of give-and-take that we had.

COOPER: How often do people still, you know, pass you on the street, and say, "Wax on. Wax off."


COOPER: I mean is this the--

MACCHIO: Well, listen, we have this show--

COOPER: --beginning (ph) of your existence?

MACCHIO: --this Cobra Kai series right now--

COOPER: Right.

MACCHIO: --on YouTube Premium that is blow - has blown up.

COOPER: Right.

MACCHIO: We've had two seasons. We start our third season--

COOPER: You also do a thing, I think, on com - Funny Or Die.

MACCHIO: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: I mean it's--

MACCHIO: Wax on. Bleep off. That was - that was my little baby on my terms.

COOPER: I saw that.

MACCHIO: Thank you. I - it's - it's my best four minutes of the day. I really enjoyed that. It was well done. And - but - but yes, that, you know, sweep the leg, get him in a body - get him a body bag," I mean that stuff has become--

COOPER: I knew it all (ph).

MACCHIO: --part of the American lexicon. It's become this - this pop culture. The theories was - was the kick illegal, you know. Should - no one was not cheering for Daniel LaRusso in 1984. But it's kind of fun to say, you know what, he was a little bit of a, you know--

COOPER: Right.

MACCHIO: --he pushed it a little bit, and--

COOPER: I actually did kind of like the bigger blonde guy.

MACCHIO: Well, listen, I could get that.

COOPER: You know, it was--

MACCHIO: I know. And he was in--

COOPER: --it was based on other things.

MACCHIO: --way better shape than me.

COOPER: He seemed like a jerk but--

MACCHIO: He seemed - yes, right, it's OK.

COOPER: --he had a certain appeal to me as he--

MACCHIO: Well it's - everyone likes the bad boy or the, you know, OK.

COOPER: I also had an odd thing about Elisabeth Shue.

MACCHIO: An odd thing?

COOPER: Look - well I mean as a gay guy, I - for I kind of had a crush on her.


COOPER: And I actually know a lot of other gay guys who also had crushes on her.


COOPER: Who - who were you friendliest with on the set? Please tell me Elisabeth Shue. I'm kidding. It doesn't matter.

MACCHIO: That is cool. Well, listen, how do I - how do I respond to that? Yes. It was Elisabeth, yes.

COOPER: I really got you here to talk about Elisabeth Shue.

MACCHIO: I know. I see. I see. I see that on the warm-up act. You know, I was close with obviously, Pat Morita. Randee Heller played my mom. I think that dynamic, this single mom raising the son, raising, you know, single parent in another - in another town--


MACCHIO: --that fish out of water element, those - all those human levels, which is why I think the film works, and resonates, and always has worked.

COOPER: Well I appreciate you coming and talking. I know everybody's rooting for you always, so it's great to actually meet you.

MACCHIO: Great. Great to be here.

COOPER: Thanks.

MACCHIO: Thank you, Man.

COOPER: Appreciate it.


COOPER: Set your DVRs now for the all-new CNN Original Series The Movies. It premieres Sunday 9:00 P.M., only on CNN.

News continues. Let's turn things over now to Laura Coates, sitting in for Don Lemon and CNN TONIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Laura Coates sitting in for Don Lemon. And on this Fourth of July eve, as we all.