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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Trump: No Longer Picking Ratcliffe for Intel Chief; GOP Rep. Hurd Leaving; Interview with Tom Steyer, Democratic Presidential Candidate; Impeachment-Focused Candidate Tom Steyer Seeks To Qualify For September Debate; Williamson Campaign Releases Statement On Mental Health; U.S. Withdraws From Nuclear Treaty With Russia; North Korea Tests Short-Range Missiles; Family Mourns Saoirse Kennedy Hill "Our Hearts Are Shattered". Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

If you feel like you've been drying to drink from a fire hose with the news lately, you're not alone.

Even professionals like "New York Times" chief White House correspondent Peter Baker are feeling it. Quoting now from his tweet this afternoon: Just a day in the Trump White House, Reagan treaty terminated, spy chief nominee pulled, North Korea given pass for illegal missile launches, rapper freed in Sweden, Trump signs deficit- raising spending bill, top state official fired and it's not even 3:00 p.m. yet.

We begin tonight keeping them honest, with one of those items, a very important job being pulled from consideration.

We begin tonight keeping them honest with one of those items and another nominee for a very important job being pulled for consideration. This time, it was Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe, nominee for director of national intelligence, and as you might expect, the act fell on Twitter which was fitting because it's also where Trump named him as his pick.

Quoting the president now: Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the lamestream media, rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explain to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people. John is therefore decided to stay in Congress where he's done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas and our country.

I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly.

So, just to be clear, the president wants you to believe that his nominee is fantastic and a perfect candidate for the job and totally qualified. It's just those awful, mean reporters who are tough on him and are going to slander and libel him. And he repeated that argument on his way to his country club in New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt that Congressman Ratcliffe was being traded very unfairly, I was reading the press, and I think I am a student of the press, and I could see that the press was on him very unfriendly, he's an outstanding man. And I asked him. I said, do you want to go through this for two or three months, or do you want me to make and do something else?

And he thought about it. I said it's going to be rough. I could see exactly where the press is going. And fake news.

He is a fine -- he's a fine man -- he is a fine man, so we had to start the process and I thought it's easier before we start. But I read things that were just unfair and it's just too good. He doesn't deserve it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He's just making it up as he goes along, and when he pauses, he's just like -- he just throws in the fake news because it takes them a second to think about what else to say. It's the oldest blame the media game. This is like the oldest, lamest game in the book.

This guy is too good any so good that he can't stand up to reporters, you know, looking into his actual background and actual claims he's made which, OK, seem to be false. By the way, CNN sources who spoken with the president say he has in recent days actually privately voiced concern about Congressman Ratcliffe confirmability.

The congressman has very limited in experience in intelligence field, that was well known. Just six months, in fact, on the House Intelligence Committee; has no experience whatsoever on any of the agencies that he would be overseeing. He did serve 14 months as a U.S. attorney back in Texas, but what may have been a bigger factor in the pullback are, as we mentioned, serious doubts surrounding claims the congressman himself has made about his own past.

He says he put terrorists in prison. A CNN search of terror-related cases showed anything that the congressman himself absolutely prosecuted. Obviously, one of them goes to his office and says, well, can you give us some examples? His office, when asked, failed to offer any examples or any evidence.

He also claimed on his congressional biography and you can see it there, that he, quote, arrested 300 illegal aliens, his words, in a single day. In fact, what he is referring to but doesn't mention -- he is referring to, is a multi state operation, not the work of some lone U.S. attorney out there in the border arresting folks, multi- state operation that resulted in just 45 undocumented workers being charged by his office. Six of whom had their cases dismiss.

Quoting now from a recent "Washington Post" investigation, quote: A spokesman in ICE's El Paso office who also participated in the operation questioned Ratcliffe's characterization of his role in the arrest.

Quoting that spokesperson from ICE: No, that doesn't sound factual. That sounds incorrect, she told "The Washington Post". In fact, she said she doesn't even remember the congressman, saying, quote, the name doesn't ring a bell.

Clearly, fine man as the president describes him or not, this was a nominee with problems for one of the most important jobs in safety and security of the country.

[20:05:07] What's more? They were all knowable problems, the kind that usually just come out during a thorough vetting that a position like this demands, you vet the candidate.

According to CNN's Jim Acosta, that is precisely what Congressman Ratcliffe did not get, a thorough vetting. A source telling him that, quote, some kind of vetting, unquote, was done when he was previously considered for attorney general but not enough.

The president was asked about betting today on the South Lawn and you've got to listen to his answer. I mean, as you listen to it, just think about the president's prior remarks about unheard fair he thinks the press is for investigating and revealing those unsettling facts about his now former nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, no, you vet for me, I like when you vet. No, no, you vet.

I think the White House has a great vetting process. You vet for me. When I give a name, I give it to the press, and you vet for me. A lot of times, you do a very great job. Not always.

I think that the White -- if you take a look at it, I mean, if you take a look at it, the vetting process for the White House is very good. But you're part of the vetting process, you know? I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And there is, there it is, folks. One minute, reporters are fake news, unfair, libelous, slandering just a darn good man, and the next, we're very good part of the White House process, in fact, saving the country money.

They don't have to do their jobs vetting, we do it. We are now through looking through a glass, ladies and gentlemen. It's amazing because without even realizing it, if the president is given a chance to speak long enough, he often let slip how he really thinks about stuff and reveals that what he has just said previously, sometimes just seconds before, it's just complete B.S.

I know it's not like many of you don't already know this, but there are just so many examples of him saying one thing over and over again that are revealed to be just wishful thinking or just made up. Remember the hold best people pledge?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are going to make America great again. We are going to use our best people.

We're going to get the best people.

We're going to deliver. We're going to get the best people in the world.

We don't want people that are B level, C level, D level. We have to get our absolute best.

We're going to use our smartest and our best. We're not using political hacks anymore.

It's a sophisticated chess match but I have the best people lined up.

You need people that are truly, truly capable. We have to get the best people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The best people, folks who don't lie about their resume and stuff like that.

Patrick Shanahan might have been the defense secretary. Two failed picks for the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, Heather Nauert, named and an unnamed for U.N. ambassador, Dr. Ronnie Jackson would be the secretary who went down in flames, labor secretary pick Andy Puzder, two would-be ICE directors, two picks for secretary of the army. The list as you see goes on and on. There are so many people who are just in acting roles because they don't actually have full-time people who have actually been confirmed.

Which is not to say that the prior administrations haven't had vetting failures, and failed nominations before, they certainly have. But not even close to this many. What has never happened before, what is new, unprecedented in the case of top national security officials, frankly, dangerous is for a president to pay so little attention to vetting his nominee at all or try to toss it all off with a flip remark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You are part of the vetting process. I gave out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, you're welcome.

More on all this now from CNN's Abby Philip who joins us from the White House.

I understand, Abby, that the president was surprised when Ratcliffe was started facing growing concerns not just from Democrats but from those within his own party. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the change for

the president was only five days in the making. But over the last several days, according to people who have spoken with him, he was surprised to find that the Republicans didn't have a lot of great things to say about Ratcliffe. He'd been assured by his allies that Ratcliffe would have support, that he would be an easy confirmation process. And that just turned out not to be very true.

In the days after he was named, many Republicans simply could only say that they didn't know anything about him. The president became a little bit concerned that this confirmation was not going to be told by his friends and allies.

COOPER: I mean, during the Mueller hearings, Ratcliffe clearly -- I mean, he didn't even ask Mueller a question. He used his five minutes to make a very impassioned -- I mean, it seemed like an impassioned resume real for the president of just defending the president. It's kind of thing the president likes and shortly after that where he was raised up to be nominated for this position.

[20:10:04] What kind of vetting, if any, do we know, did the White House do before the president's announcement?

PHILLIP: Well, that audition of sorts ingratiated himself in President Trump's eyes. But for some Democrats, it actually became evidence of how he couldn't actually do the job in an impartial way. The president was interested in Ratcliffe for a long time, considering him to be the attorney general, for example.

They apparently did not spend very much time looking at the basic information that was available on the internet. For example, on Ratcliffe's own campaign Website, a lot of his claims that were then fact-checked by media outlets on that very website are on there today. And the White House apparently didn't even look at them.

So, the vetting process here has never been particularly great, but even that basic stuff apparently wasn't taken Anderson. And president seems to be contend with relying on the media to do the job of the White House for him.

COOPER: Yes. Abby Phillip, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Joining us now, former senior FBI intelligence adviser, Phil Mudd.

Phil, I don't even know what to ask you about this because it just seems so absurd to me.

PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERINTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Neither do I. Yes.

COOPER: When you look at Ratcliffe doing that audition tape, you know, he's audition tape during the Mueller hearings, you know, I looked at it and I thought, OK, this is clearly just somebody who is sending a message to the president.

Does it surprise you that they wouldn't even, in whatever vetting they did, and I don't really think they did any, that they wouldn't have figured out that the resume online is not accurate?

MUDD: Boy, I mean, you remember Ronny Jackson, he gave the president a bill of health and they don't do a vetting process, and it turns out to be a disaster.

You know, let me be serious, I mean, you can joke about this all day, but it does, because some of the pieces are pretty basic. I went through a vetting process once at the White House and it was very difficult.

The hard part is that you have to go in with financial records. The media can't demand financial records from someone who is a nominee. You have personal conversations with the nominee about things like many taxes. You're going to order the FBI to get a records check.

That's not the media's responsibility. And furthermore, you don't want the media doing that.

There's a simpler piece of a two foot putt, and that is, you have a liaison office at the White House that deals with the Congress. All the president has to do before he says anything is asked them to go over the Congress and say, what's this guy's reputation, find somebody if we have a problem before we ever get, go down the road, it wasn't that hard. All he had to do is pick up the phone.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, that's the other thing. If -- the idea that the president was surprised to hear from people on Capitol Hill that they didn't know anything about this guy. You know, that's the kind, again, with a few phone calls before you send out a tweet nominating somebody, you'd think that somebody in the White House who can just call around to their allies on Capitol Hill.

MUDD: Sure. The president sort of suggested that they did it too late and I don't want to get to personal. But I withdrew after the White House to the head count on Capitol Hill and Capito Hill started to say, Mr. Mudd's got a problem.

The president indicated that he didn't do the vetting process because clearly what happened is people on the Hill after the process -- after the person was announced came to the president said not so much. The way this game works is the president -- any president typically doesn't tell a nominee to withdraw because it's embarrassing.

What the president said today is what every president does. Wink, wink, it's going to be really tough. If you want, I'll allow you to withdraw your nomination, which was a way of saying, get out, this is going to be ugly.

COOPER: It's also interesting, I mean, what it says about how the president sees the position of reporters or actually I guess the position of the director of national intelligence. He's not hiding to pack the fact that he wants people who are savagely devoted to him. I mean, Ratcliffe, he seems to be defending him in a way above and beyond anybody else around. Clearly, he sees that as a reason to put the guy in this incredibly important position. MUDD: The funny thing to me is the president is playing checkers and

not playing chess. He set up the next nominee. What's the first question for anybody on the committee? For whoever shows up, John Doe, Jane Doe, the president just said this in front of reporters about his belief that Director Mueller was cautioning us about Russian interference.

Do you think that Director Mueller is correct in the intelligence committee that you're supposed to lead? Or would you like to side with the president publicly? The president just gave the Democrats a gift, because they're going to force the next nominee to say, go with the intel guys you're going to lead or go with the president who doesn't agree with the intel guys.

COOPER: All right. Phil Mudd, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

MUDD: Next, the departure of one of the Republican Party's brightest young hopefuls, not to mention the only African-American in the House. We'll talk about the role the Trump fatigue played in his departure with another Republican who also chose to leave Congress.

[20:15:04] And later, in light of our conversation last night with presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, we're putting more of her past statements to the test. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: With all due respect to Peter Baker who tweeted that long list we read top the headlines from the White House just today, the Twitterverse noted that he left one out, that would be the president mocking Congressman Elijah Cummings for being the victim of a home break-in. That actually happened. Congressman Cummings represents a large chunk of Baltimore, and the president you'll recall has been tweeting about the city and disparaging and sometimes racially loaded terms, and has been attacking the congressman himself as well.

Earlier this morning after it was reported that somebody tried to break into the congressman's home last weekend, the president tweeted this, and I'm quoting: Really bad news! The Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad!

Now, absent all context, absent the other attacks in the congressman and the city he represents, that message would read much differently than it did too many today.

[20:20:07] It was seen as taunting, thuggish, a version of nice home you got there, pal, but if anything should happen to it.

And when the president was asked about it today, here's how he explained it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The tweet itself was just really a repeat of what I heard over the news. I know his house was robbed and I thought that was too bad. That was really just -- that was really not meant as a wise guy tweet. I mean, his house was robbed and it came over the news at a certain moment last night and I just --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He suggesting that there is no other way to see it than him showing compassion and sympathy for the congressman. Again, this came a week after a dozen others calling the congressman corrupt, inept, a racist and a bully. It came after a tweet saying that no human being would want to live in the part of Baltimore that he represents.

It also came after a repeated attacks on four congresswomen of color. So considering the context, do you think President Trump was really wishing that congressman well, the man he is poured hate on four days now?

Last night, the only African-American Republican in the House, Congressman Will Hurd, announced he is leaving Congress. He is considered one of the Congress's rising star, so it certainly came as a blow. He spoke about it in "The Washington Post".

And during the interview, he took issue with the president's attacks on those four congresswomen. A Republican strategist tells CNN's Jim Acosta that Hurd's departure is a huge loss. A Republican fundraiser putting it bluntly to Jim, and I'm quoting now, they are all tired of trying to defend the S-show, using a word I'm not going to use right now.

Joining us now, another former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. He is currently a political commentator and he joins us.

Congressman Dent, I mean, this can't be welcome news for Republicans, especially given that Hurd's district has been a target for Democrats.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Will Hurd -- the loss of Will Hurd is devastating to Republicans. Not only does he represent a swing or marginal district, but this seat has now gone for the Republicans. It's really a shame.

Will -- and what's even worse is that Will, of course, is the future of the Republican Party. So, in that respect, you have to multiply this thing exponentially. It's that bad.

And if Republicans have any hope at all of trying to pick up seats in the midterm, they have to hold seats like this one.

But Will Hurd is a good friend. He's clearly very frustrated and tired of having to try to explain the inexplicable or defend the indefensible. He's simply won't do it. He's the only African- American member -- Republican member of the House, and he's just had enough of it. It's clear to me.

You know, he's a bright guy. He can do other things and why deal with this for the next 15 months answering these types of crazy issues that the president raises on a daily basis.

COOPER: It's interesting because we've had Congressman Hurd on the program many times, particularly on the border. I mean, he is a very rational voice, whether one agrees with his politics or not, he's a very rational voice on border security, on border issues and certainly a more, I guess would categorize himself as a moderate wing of the Republican Party but certainly not somebody who, you know, is a flame thrower and not open to compromise and actually working across the aisle.

DENT: Well, I'll tell you what, Will Hurd was the best, most rational voice on border issues for Republicans. He understood the border issue and immigration as well as anybody. He was someone members listen to. He was an expert on intelligence matters, cyber security, artificial intelligence.

On a policy level, this is an enormous loss for the Republican Party and I'm so disappointed. In fact, Will Hurd is one of the only three House Republicans who represents a district that Hillary Clinton won in 2020. Brian Fitzpatrick and John Katko being the other two.

But this could set up for the retirements. In Texas, by the way, it's not going well for President Trump. He's significantly underperforming in the polls and there at least three other seats in that state that Republicans holds which are very vulnerable.

COOPER: You know, we mentioned this how the GOP fund-raiser put the blame squarely on President Trump, telling our Jim Acosta they're all tired of trying to defend the S-show.

As someone like yourself who did retire partly due to the president's rhetoric and the climate, can you relate to the decision he's made?

DENT: Absolutely. I mean, I felt the same way in 2018. I really didn't want to have to spend all of 2018 like I spent in 2016, just talking about President Trump and his conduct in office.

I mean, poor Will Hurd, I got to tell you, people asked me all the time, do I miss it? My answer is, you know, I don't miss the circus, but I do miss the clowns. And I will tell you, Anderson, it's -- you make a lot of really good friends, but at some point, when you're not getting anything done, the most basic task of governing become nearly impossible at times, and it is hard to focus on the policy.

And Will Hurd is a policy guy.

[20:25:01] He likes diving into the issues of cyber security and the border and the Dreamers. And he led the charge on the discharge petition too for the Dreamers and I helped him with. And he fell a little short. But you frustrate when you can't address the policy issues that you are elected to fight for as a congressman.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Dent, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Coming up, a Democrat who wasn't on the debate stage this week but is hoping to be on it the next month. My conversation with Tom Steyer, the impeachment-focused candidate, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: To get on the next Democratic debate stage in Houston in mid- September, candidates have to meet both fund-raising and polling thresholds. One of those who was not on the Detroit stage this week but certainly wants to be in California is billionaire Tom Steyer. He declared his presidential candidacy after months of television campaigning to impeach President Trump and saying initially that he wouldn't be running himself.

I spoke with Mr. Steyer just before airtime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. Steyer, you saw the Democratic debates this week, I assume. The candidates on the stage did spend a lot of time going up for each other instead of taking on President Trump. I'm wondering, does that strategy weaken the eventual nominee, and lead to President Trump winning? What did you make of it?

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Anderson, my argument all along has been that we have a broken government and that we need to return that government from the corporations who bought it to the American people.

So when I listened to those debates, what I'm listening for is somebody who will practically tell me how we're going to do that so we're going to be able to deliver all those promises that people are making about health care and Green New Deal and education. And I didn't hear that vision of how we're going to deliver for the American people in reality during those debates. I did hear a lot of criticism of each other and of President Obama.

COOPER: When you hear candidates talking about taking away private insurance from some 160 million Americans, is that something you think Democrats can win on?

STEYER: Anderson, I do believe that health care is a right for every American and that we should have a public option that is available to every American citizen. But the idea of telling 150 million Americans who get their health care through their employment that they don't have a choice but to do what the government tells them about their health and their life doesn't seem to make any sense to me. I mean, this is still a free country.

What we should do is make the public option so attractive and so relatively inexpensive that people petition their employers, that they go on the public option and get a big raise as a result of their employer no longer paying for health care.

COOPER: Are you going to be on the stage at the next debate? Are you going to be able to get there?

STEYER: Yes. Yes, I am.

COOPER: What is the status of that? Can you -- I mean, do you have a sense of how far you are from that? STEYER: Look, I'm not following it day to day but I know that there are two requirements, Anderson. One is to have four polls at a certain level. And within two weeks, we had two of those four and we'll see some more polls come out this week. But so far, my message seems to be being received better even than I had hoped.

And so, we'll just see how the polls go, but so far better than expected. And if we keep going at the level in terms of donations that we're at, then we'll make it there, as well. We have to do work. We're not going to stop working, but we're on track to make it.

COOPER: Would you -- obviously, you thought about -- I assume when you watch the debate, you imagine yourself on them and you think about, OK, well, how will I -- where, how -- what would my strategy be here? Where would you -- where do you see yourself in this field? I mean, if you believe in a spectrum of, you know, a left progressives and centrists, where do you see yourself?

STEYER: Well, Anderson, my basic thesis here is that we need to retake government for the people of the United States, return government of by and for the people. And so I see myself for what I am, which is for the last 10 years I'm the outsider who's been organizing coalitions of ordinary American citizens to take on unchecked corporate power and winning. And that's exactly how I see myself in this field.

I'm the guy whose done direct democracy for 10 years and beaten the oil companies, and the drug companies, and the tobacco companies and has done the largest youth voter mobilization, the largest grassroots organization in the United States.

COOPER: Just lastly, impeaching President Trump obviously was your signature issue. It's what brought you to a lot of people's attention to the commercials you are running. There is now a majority of Democrats in the House that favor impeachment.

Speaker Pelosi still doesn't seem to be on board saying statements -- in a statement today that, you know, putting in a statement that highlighted all the ongoing litigation against the President declaring he will be held accountable. If she isn't on board after reaching that critical benchmark, do you think she ever will be?

STEYER: I don't know. What I do know, Anderson, is this. Almost two years ago I said this is the most corrupt President in American history. We need to stand up for what's right. We need to stand up for the constitution and the rule of law and we need to protect the American people.

And I started to push on a grassroots level to get Americans to sign a petition. We have over 8 million who have to say the American people know what's right, what the difference between right and wrong. I've been saying the government is broken.

For two years as an outsider, I've been trying to organize a grassroots effort to say let's stand up for what's right in America. I'm still pushing for it. We haven't gotten it done because Washington refuses to bring the American people into this. We've televised hearings.

I asked Speaker Pelosi to cancel their 44-day vacation to get it done right now this summer real time on T.V. and I just don't think that's going to happen.

COOPER: Tom Steyer, appreciate your time. Thank you.

STEYER: Anderson, thank you for having me.

COOPER: Up next, new reaction from presidential candidate and self- help author Marianne Williamson in the wake my interview with her on the program last night.

[20:35:03] That and a deeper look into some of the other things Ms. Williamson has said about depression and medication and vaccines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's on the program last night my interview with Marianne Williamson, the Democratic presidential candidate and self-help author, became contentious, especially when it came to her views on people taking antidepressant medication. Here is some of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You said, in fact, "Feds say 1 in 10 Americans on antidepressants. Not a good sign. This is not a time in American history for any of us to be numbing our pain." If you're on an antidepressant, you're not numbing your pain, you're actually trying to feel again, no?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, some people would argue that and some people not. But the issue here for me is the difference between normal human despair. And if you are going through something like grief, for instance --

COOPER: Right, that's normal -- there's -- you write very eloquently about --

WILLIAMSON: And about that --

COOPER: -- normal universal sadness.

WILLIAMSON: When people are taking antidepressants who have had serious, serious pain and serious depression in their lives, and they are helped by them, I'm happy for them.

COOPER: OK. Yes, I agree with that.

WILLIAMSON: I am happy for them. When I meet young people, and I meet them all the time, once again, I'm the one here who has had a lot of experience with people in pain. When I meet --

[20:40:00] COOPER: But I just don't think telling people that it's going to numb them is a good idea. WILLIAMSON: Oh, well, that's your belief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, tonight, Williamson's campaign released a statement which reads in part, "Williamson is speaking as a concerned citizen and presidential candidate, she stays in her lane and does not weigh in on the diagnosis of any individual regarding their medical or health condition."

Randi Kaye has been looking at Williamson's past statements on depression and vaccines as well, statements not without controversy. Here's Randi's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAMSON: I've lived through periods of time that by any means today would be called clinical depression, but even that such a scam, all that means is somebody in a clinic said it. There is no blood test, right?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson last year suggesting clinical depression isn't a real thing. She recently told "The New York Times" she regretted saying that, suggesting her issue is not the use of antidepressants but the overprescribing of them. Last night on this program, she again tried to explain.

WILLIAMSON: We have over the last few years taken this kind of cheap yellow smiley face, put it over all of human emotion, like happy, happy, happy. We have lost our sense that there are times when sadness is part of life.

KAYE: In public posts, Williamson had suggested without evidence that antidepressants may be harmful and lead to suicide. The day designer Kate Spade took her life, Williamson blamed antidepressants for her suicide.

And after actor Robin Williams' death, Williamson posted, "The truth about antidepressants, helpful for some, harmful for others," linking to an article suggesting antidepressants played a role in the actor suicide.

COOPER: Do you know who wrote that article? That was by an organization funded by the Church of Scientology, which doesn't even believe in psychiatry, doesn't believe in any psychiatric medicine, even for very serious mental illness.

WILLIAMSON: Anderson, if somebody is helped by an antidepressant, I'm happy for them. And I have never argued that anybody who is on an antidepressant should get off an antidepressant.

COOPER: But it does worry me that you seemed to be sending a message by raising such concerns about antidepressants in such a blanket way or clinical depression. It just doesn't seem like -- you're saying you're happy for somebody if it helps them. I don't hear you saying, I encourage you, everybody, to talk with a medical provider and see if this is just a regular sadness that's understandable or --

WILLIAMSON: Well, but I -- what I would say, I'm sorry.

Someone who is a spiritual person is just as qualified an expert to talk about issues of deep sadness, even depression. It is only been in the last few years that this idea of the medicalization of depression has come up.

KAYE (on camera): Williamson is under fire for her comments about vaccines, too. At an event in New Hampshire, she called mandatory vaccinations "draconian and Orwellian." She likened it to the abortion debate saying the U.S. government doesn't tell any citizen what they have to do with their body or their child.

(voice-over) Later, she apologized telling the "L.A. Times", "I understand that many vaccines are important and save lives. I also understand some of the skepticism that abounds today about drugs which are rushed to market by big pharma." She went on to tell "The View" she does not consider herself an anti-vaxxer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support mandatory vaccinations?

WILLIAMSON: I think that we have a very -- I understand that public safety must come first. But I also understand that we must have a balance between public safety and the issues of individual freedom. I do not trust the propaganda on either side.

KAYE: In the end, Williamson didn't directly answer the question about supporting mandatory vaccinations, only saying she supported vaccinations.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You know, I gave this a lot of thought last night, Coop. And I was watching the kind of whole spectrum of reactions to your interview with her, which by the way, I just have to say, I've done a lot of those interviews.

You know, you care so much about this issue for all the right reasons and forget about our personal connections to it. You were respectful, but you can't let it go when somebody is confusing emotion and illness and let's be careful about the facts. You can't equivocate.

It is one of the biggest diagnoses in the country depression. And when you mess with people taking medication and you stigmatize it, the rate goes up, the suicide rate goes up. So, you have to take it seriously. Vaccination is an entirely different issue. It has equal importance for people, but it's different than talking about mental health. You did the right thing. It's right to do the piece.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I was sorry that she felt I was disrespectful, you know, and didn't have enough time. We went on for 14 minutes because I do think it's such an important issue and I wanted to give her time to clarify everything.

But, you know, I certainly hope to have her back and she -- you know, I also think, you know, she talks about over prescription being an issue and I totally agree with that and people, especially young people aware of possibly very dangerous deadly side effects of some medications and all that is valid. But I just didn't --

[20:45:06] CUOMO: There's no question.

COOPER: -- that the word she used could have been used (ph).

CUOMO: Yes. Look, you're 100 percent right on it and I think Marianne knows that. She's in a different position than she's familiar with where there is an accountability for what she says. People aren't as open minded of things because the social direction from our leaders matters differently than just someone who is a provocateur of thought. And with palliate of care, sure, you can talk about over prescription.

But when it comes to antidepressants, you know, if anything that drug is being under prescribed. And if you talk to experts about this, they're worried that when people push back on medications, it makes people who need help less likely to get it, increase stigma.

COOPER: Right, especially with depression, it makes you not want to reach. It makes you feel like even reaching out to a medical provider or a self-help guru or a priest, it feels overwhelming and the problem is more people not reaching out. Anyway, I got to leave it there. We're going to have a lot more with you Chris in 15 minutes of your show. We'll see you then.

Another of those headlines, Peter Baker tweeted about the White House today pulling out of a historic nuclear treaty that help signal the end of the Cold War. Fareed Zakaria joins us with the significant development of context.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:25] COOPER: President Trump has pulled the United States out of a decades old treaty on nuclear weapons with Russia, sparking fears of a new arms race. This brings an end to the historic -- the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. You see there they are signing, as they worked to end the Cold War between the two nuclear powers.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is putting the blame on the Russians tweeting, "Russia bears full responsibility." And a senior U.S. official says the Trump administration has plans to test a missile banned under the treaty in the next few weeks. Here's what President Trump said about the Russians this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They weren't living up to their commitment. And I said, if they're not going to live up to their commitment, then we have to -- we always have to be in the lead.

You know, I've redone our nuclear. We have new nuclear coming. I hate to tell that to people. I hate to say it, because it's devastating. But we've always got to be in the lead. Hopefully -- and hope to God you never have to use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, joining me for more of this, CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." So, Fareed, is the President right? I mean, he says the U.S. is pulling out of the INF because Russia was violating the agreement. Russia denies the claim. Every indication does seem to be that President Trump is he right here.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": The President is right. Russia has been violating the agreement for a long time. There have been repeated efforts to reengage with them under the last administration. I don't know that the Trump administration tried diplomacy, but it's certainly fair to say that the Russians have been violating it, why should the U.S. be bound by those limits?

But the real story, Anderson, might be that this is more about China than about Russia. China is developing the world's most sophisticated set of intermediate-range missiles. They are not covered by the treaty. They do not seem to want to be covered by a treaty.

And so part of what's going on here is the United States doesn't want to be bound by a treaty that Russia is not adhering to, that China is not party to and yet it is able to build missiles.

COOPER: So what do you make of the President's, you know, hope for a potential nuclear pact with both Russia and China?

ZAKARIA: That is the ideal situation going forward, because China is going to be building up its arsenal not just of nuclear weapons, but of missiles. Russia has a huge one. And ideally you would want some kind of treaty that locked both countries in. Ideally -- potentially other countries if they were to be covered as well, but certainly the Russians and the Chinese.

Right now the President is obsessively focused on trade, has a very hostile relationship with China so it doesn't seem likely. With Russia right now, Congress is unlikely to do much.

So, the prospects for some kind of big arms control treaty in the Trump administration may seem low, but it's important to realize, these are the weapons that can destroy all the countries we're talking about. These are the existential weapons that threaten, you know, the survival of mankind.

COOPER: A Russian politician cautioned that if the U.S. deploys short-range missiles to Eastern Europe, that the flight times of those weapons are so short that Moscow would have to adopt a doctrine of preemptive strikes which, you know, would potentially increase the risk for sparking a nuclear exchange. ZAKARIA: This takes us back to the bad old days of the Cold War. This is exactly why these weapons were so destabilizing because they had short ranges, they moved fast. There wasn't enough time to verify.

And so deterrence theory told you, you know, the logic had to be the minute you saw them launch or you detected a launch, you launched yours and that's the kind of thing that accidents are made of, that's the kind of thing miscalculations are made of.

And the problem here, of course, is that the stakes are very high because if a nuclear missile goes off whether by accident or by miscalculation, the damage is all too real.

COOPER: The other constant concern about nuclear weapons is obviously North Korea. They've tested reportedly short-range missiles again this week. President Trump tweeting and in part, "I may be wrong, but I believe that Chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true. He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump." Sort of interesting or odd.

ZAKARIA: It's very strange. I've always thought with Kim Jong-un, President Trump believes this is his path to a Nobel Peace Prize, that's why he scared the daylights out of everyone about the prospects of a world war, then swooped in to try to (INAUDIBLE), negotiate an end to that threat.

[20:55:11] The North Koreans are not accommodating. They're not complying. They're not playing to the script. They are not, you know, negotiating in earnest. They clearly do not want to give up their nuclear weapons, but Trump doesn't give up. He still -- you know, he still sends the love letters. The girl has said no three times and he's still asking.

COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, thanks very much.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

COOPER: And Fareed host an important report tonight on CNN. Don't miss the special, "State of Hate: The Explosion of White Supremacy." It's at 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

Up next, another public heartbreak for the Kennedy family. 22-year- old granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy dies after being found unresponsive at the family compound on Cape Cod. What authorities are now saying about her death in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A new tragedy for the Kennedy family. The granddaughter of late Robert F. Kennedy has died after being found unresponsive Thursday at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Saoirse Kennedy Hill was her name. She's a student at Boston College. In a family statement, her grandmother, Ethel Kennedy said, "The world is a little less beautiful today." Family also said, "Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love."

Authorities have not announced a cause of death. They're waiting for a toxicology report. But we do know that Saoirse Kennedy Hill struggled with depression. In 2016 she wrote about it very bravely in her high school newspaper.

Here's part of what she revealed saying, "My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life. Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chess."

Again, it's not clear yet what caused her death. Our condolences to the Kennedy family. Saoirse Kennedy Hill was just 22 years old.

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

[21:00:00]