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Israel Bans Representatives Omar and Tlaib After President Trump's Push; Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is Interviewed About Israel Banning Representatives Omar and Tlaib After President Trump's Push; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is Interviewed About Israel Banning Representatives Omar and Tlaib, About Trump Linking Guns and Mental Illness, and About His Allegations Against Amazon; After Philadelphia Shooting, City's Mayor Calls For Gun Control: "We Have To Do Something"; Rep. Steve King Demands "Full Public Apology" From Top Republican Despite Remark On Rape And Incest; Hundreds Of People Expected At Funeral For El Paso Victim After Widower With No Family Invites Public To Attend. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Today, we learned the president of the United States urged the head of a foreign power to take action against two Democratic congresswomen, American congresswomen who are critics of his and the head of that foreign power did just that.

And in a truly Trumpian twist, late today, the president denied having pushed the foreign power, while also seeming to admit that he had. It bears repeating this is certainly not normal, except abnormal is kind of now normal.

It's also a classic Trump distraction play, a way to turn the media and the public's attention away from yesterday's disastrous stock drop and fears of a recession. So, keep that in mind. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at what the president just did here because, as we said, it's unprecedented.

So, this concerns two congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who planned to visit Israel. They are, as you know, openly critical of Israeli policy, both supported boycott of Israel, and Congresswoman Omar has been criticized, including by her colleagues, and has since apologized, for using anti-Semitic tropes on a number of occasions.

And as you may also know, they are two of the four non-white female lawmakers whom the president has been attacking repeatedly.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you see the four congresswomen, oh, isn't that lovely?


TRUMP: Representative Ilhan Omar --


CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!


COOPER: Send her back, which is a racist nativist chant that's been used at one time or another in America against about every minority group in America. A chant the president there encouraged and soaked in for 13 seconds.

But as bad as what that was, what the president did today was simply something presidents don't do, using a foreign government to punish members of a co-equal branch of government. I mean, another way to look at it, which is equally disturbing, is that the president got a foreign country, a close ally of America's, to help him hurt some of his American political opponents, elected members of Congress.

That's something that the presidents take an oath not to do. They swear to uphold the Constitution obviously, including the speech or debate clause from Article 1 which reads, in part, for any speech or debate in either House, they -- meaning members of Congress -- shall not be questioned in any other place.

The clause, and I'm quoting now from the legal analysis done by the Congressional Research Service, serves, quote, principally to protect the independence and integrity of the legislative branch by protecting against executive or judicial intrusions into the protective legislative sphere, but also to bar judicial or executive processes that may constitute a distraction or disruption to a member's representative or legislative role.

In other words, the president and the courts have a sworn duty to not interfere with duly elected lawmakers going about their jobs, which today it seems the president did, with the foreign government's help, nonetheless.

This morning, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called reports that the president had been pushing Netanyahu to bar the two's visit inaccurate, she said.

And shortly after the president tweeted this. Quote: It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Representative Omar and Representative Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that could be done -- that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They're a disgrace.

Which is a very public pushing of Netanyahu to bar the two's visit. It's not even secret pushing.

And a short time later, the Israeli government which had apparently leading against barring the congresswomen reversed course and did what the president all but taunted Prime Minister Netanyahu to do, which, you can argue, is action Netanyahu was justified in taking because both congresswomen do support a boycott against Israel and Israel does have an anti-boycott law. That's what they cited in their decision.

But keeping them honest, it's hard to see that as anything more than a fig leaf when the action comes immediately after the president goes online, pushing such action. According to reporting from "Axios" and "The New York Times," he's been at it for sometime, since at least last week. Again, the president's press secretary called those reports inaccurate as her words fake news.

The president has not said he spoke directly to Netanyahu and late today the president also denied leaning on Israel, but then moments later he seemed to admit he had. So, here are the two statements the president said at the same impromptu press conference as he left for his country club for -- or as he left his country club to go to New Hampshire for a rally.


REPORTER: In your conversations with people connected to Israel, did you encourage them to reject the congresswomen?

TRUMP: No, I don't encourage or discourage. I think that if Israel allowed them to come in for the normal reasons other than those reasons, I really believe that it would be a terrible thing for Israel.

[20:05:08] I think it would show a terrible sign --

REPORTER: Did you speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the congresswomen coming?

TRUMP: I don't want to comment on who I spoke to, but I think my social media statement pretty well speaks for itself. I feel that they are so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish. Again, if other people made that statement there would have been hell to pay. So -- but I did speak to people.


COOPER: I don't want to say who I spoke to, but I did -- I spoke to people.

So, in the space of just a few hours, the president of the United States made potentially unconstitutional demands on the head of a foreign government to do something his press secretary denied he was pushing for, and then denied it -- he denied it, too, while also possibly or seemingly admitting it, which is kind of an achievement without even going into the bipartisan political pushback, the geopolitical complications, or the unprecedented historical nature of all of this. And, yeah, it's not even Friday.

First, Manchester, New Hampshire, where the president has been speaking. Jim Acosta is there for us right now.

Jim, obviously, the president thinks this is a winning battle for him, keeping the focus on these four congresswomen. Otherwise, he wouldn't be bringing them back up.


And we should point out, he hasn't brought up the lawmakers who makeup that group known as "The Squad" just yet, but the night is young. He's just gotten started in the last 20 minutes or so.

But he has had some choice words, some tough language for Democrats at one point, referring to Democrats as both socialists and communists and then saying he would be hit by what he called the fake news media for making that sort of remark. So, he is throwing out the red meat to this crowd at Manchester, New Hampshire.

But no question about it, Anderson, this is a tactical move by the president. I talked to a source close to the White House earlier today who said every time Democrats try to link people like Congressmen Steve King, they're going to try to link it to "The Squad". And so, Anderson, this does seem very much a tactical move by the president and his team.

But Democrats have started to call him out, presidential candidate Tim Ryan said this is probably a distraction from the wobbly week we've seen on Wall Street. And at the beginning of this rally, it was interesting to note, Anderson, the president was defending his actions when it comes to China and making the case, once again, falsely that Americans aren't paying the cost of these tariffs on Chinese products, something we've said over and over again is a false statement from the president.

COOPER: So, Jim, "The New York Times" said that the president was reaching out to people to get his opinion known in Israel as early as last week. "Axios" said that his private opinions had reached the top levels of the Israeli government about what should be done. Is it known what kind of contact the president has had with top leaders in Israel and/or Netanyahu? Because I mean, he certainly -- he wouldn't comment on it earlier although he went on and said he did talk to people.

ACOSTA: That's right, and I think you set that up perfectly a few moments ago. The president essentially acknowledging to reporters earlier this afternoon that he did talk to people in Israel about this. The reason why the president is hedging I think a little bit and dodging is that question is because obviously, he doesn't want to take the responsibility for having pushed the Israel government -- Israeli government in this direction when it appears that is the case.

Earlier today as you noted, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, was describing reports as inaccurate that the president was pushing the Israelis to do this, and then the president cut the legs out from under his own press secretary by tweeting out that the Israeli government should do exactly what it decided to do earlier today. So, we're not getting a straight answer from the White House, not getting a straight answer from the president and when the president was asked about this earlier this afternoon, you saw him dodging the question over and over again. He just doesn't want to answer that question. But my sense is he'll have to at some point.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

In addition to pro-Israel lobbies like AIPAC opposing Israel's action on this, lawmakers have also been weighing in. Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, quote: I disagree 100 percent with Representatives Tlaib and Omar on Israel and am the author of the anti-BDS bill, which is the boycott bill, we passed in the Senate, but denying them entry into Israel is a mistake. BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

House Speaker Pelosi called the decision a sign of weakness, called the president's statements about the congresswomen, quote, a sign of ignorance and disrespect.

Joining us now is New Jersey Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer who has been directly involved in this.

Congressman, thanks very much for being with us.

You've been critical of Representative Omar and Tlaib.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Do you believe they should have been allowed into Israel?

GOTTHEIMER: Yes, and I think unequivocally. They are members of Congress. I think they would have benefited a lot from having that visit and seeing the historic relationship, the importance of our economic relationship, our national security relationship. I agree with Marco Rubio there and Kevin McCarthy and others who said this was a mistake.

[20:10:05] And I really think they should reverse course here.

COOPER: I understand that you and at least two other members of Congress lobbied the Israeli ambassador not to do this and allow the congresswomen to visit. Can you say what he told you? Or what your argument was?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, as you point out, made the strong case the ambassador -- I spoke to him again today and reinforced that statement, which was this is not helpful to the relationship between the United States and Israel.

Obviously, what you want to do is not -- build bridges, not put up walls. You want to make sure that everybody, especially members of Congress, can spend time in Israel and see what many of us who have spent time there have seen, meet with generals, obviously meet with members of the Knesset, with people who agree and disagree, and you want to get a full picture. That's critical to our relationship, and this is a key ally for us not just in the fight against terror, but as democracy -- the key to democracy in the region.

So, blocking members of Congress does nothing. It's a strategic mistake. It does nothing but actually set back the relationship, not move it forward.

COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of the whole idea of president Trump pressuring essentially the Israeli government. Now,the White House says he didn't do that, then moments -- short time later he sent out a tweet saying that Israel would be weak if they didn't do this. And there's also been reporting by "Axios" and "The Times" that this has been going on now for several days into last week, and that the president's private opinions were made known to the highest levels in the Israeli government.

Is that appropriate?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, as you pointed out, it's hard to actually know what happened. I asked the ambassador about this this afternoon, he denied that the president was involved and that was the reason behind the decision. I hope that's not what happened here.

I think either way, what's behind it was the decision that was made to me that was really the mistake here and really not helpful to the relationship. And that to me is the bigger issue. You know, you really -- to me, the key here is to actually open up and welcome all members of Congress and get different perspectives.

And you want members of Congress to come and see as I pointed out before, meeting with members of the Knesset, seeing -- going to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, seeing Golan heights, understanding the perilous situation Israel sits in in a hotbed region against Hezbollah and Hamas. To me, that's actually much more beneficial than blocking people from coming in and I think it was just a big mistake.

COOPER: Yes, I understand that perspective. I guess my question, though, is if the president of the United States is pressuring one way or another -- he's obviously pressuring with that tweet, but making his opinion known so that the leaders of another country know that he wants them to bar two American Congress people. I mean, you can look at it. Would it be appropriate for a president to enlist the help of a --


COOPER: -- foreign ally to go after his political opponents? Or to harm his political opponents?

GOTTHEIMER: No, of course not. No, of course, not. You should never politicize it. That is not what the president should be doing, and interfering in that way.

And the whole point is not to politicize U.S./Israel relationship and to use tools against -- and to use and push other governments to act against political opponents. Of course, not. And I'm hopeful that that's not what happened.

What we need to have is a -- make sure the U.S./Israel relationship remains bipartisan. That's why I thought it was a good step you had Republicans and Democrats speaking out against the decision today as I did. And to me, that's what I'm hoping you'll continue to hear in the days ahead. I'm hoping that the president didn't interfere this way.

COOPER: Clearly, the president wants to continue to try to make these four congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party, you know, and that's one of the things he has been doing since bringing -- the reason, really, for bringing these four up as much as he has.

How does -- does that concern you? Do you think that is a successful campaign tactic for 2020? How do you counteract that without playing into the president's hands?

GOTTHEIMER: No, I don't think it's successful. I think it's not -- what's great about the Democratic Party is we're a big tent party with lots of different perspectives. I disagree with some of my colleagues on some of the comments they've said, and I think having disagreements is fine and healthy, but the idea is to have a broad perspective in the Democratic Party.

And I think whether he's trying to, you know, go after certain people, A, it's wrong. But B, I think what people understand and they're not going to fall for is we have lots of different perspectives in the party. And doing what he's doing, which is going after individual members, I think people see right through that. I think it's despicable and I don't think it's helpful.

[20:15:00] COOPER: Congressman Gottheimer, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

GOTTHEIMER: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Just ahead tonight, another shooting in Philadelphia. We covered it extensively last night as it was happening. Today, one night after six police officers were shot, the city's mayor, Jim Kenney, joins me to talk about what he wants to see done to stem the violence.

I'll also speak to senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, about gun control, the president's attacks on the two Democratic congresswomen and his attacks on the "Washington Post."

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Returning now to President Trump who has been speaking tonight in Manchester, New Hampshire. So far, he's not mentioned the two congresswomen he pushed Israel today to bar from visiting. We brought you sometime congressional reaction already.

Joining us is Vermont independent senator, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

How -- how much of this is just a distraction of the president to turn attention away from, you know, yesterday's disastrous stock market fall and fears about a recession?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it may be some of that. That's what the president does. But, on the other hand, what is taking place is totally outrageous.

You have two members of the United States Congress who are denied access to a country, Israel, which we spend many billions of dollars a year supporting. And if Mr. Netanyahu and other members in Israel don't want members of U.S. Congress to visit them, maybe they don't want American money as well. And I regard Trump's action in this whole regard as part of his racism, his Islamophobia, and it is a clearly an absolute outrage.

COOPER: I mean, one way to look at this as I mentioned earlier, essentially, he is enlisting the aid or pushing for the aid of a foreign government to help him harm his perceived political opponents.

SANDERS: Political opponents, right, right.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's asking for foreign help, not in an election this time, but just in -- just, you know, a political fight.

SANDERS: I mean, that's an important part of it. But the other part of it is, you know, I'm a member of Congress. I've traveled all over the world. And when you're a member of Congress, you expect to be welcomed into other countries to try to do your best in understanding what's going on there so you can tell your constituents that come up with good policy.

[20:20:02] The idea that two members of the Congress who have been critical of Israel are not allowed to go into that country to, firsthand, see what's going on, take a look at what's going on with the Palestinians and Gaza or the West Bank. I mean, that is just incomprehensible, and we cannot simply allow that to continue.

COOPER: This obviously is not the first time the president's focused attacks on these two congresswomen, labeled them, you know, the face of the Democratic Party. That's a tactic.

Would it be a problem if they were the face of the Democratic Party?

SANDERS: Well, I think when you -- I mean, he says that because that has to do with Islamophobia. And what Trump is trying to do obviously is to divide the American people up based on where we come from or our religion or the color of our skin or our sexual orientation. I mean, that's what his political strategy is.

But I think if you look at what these members of Congress are talking about, they support Medicare for All. They believe that everybody in this country is entitled to health care as a human right. They believe that we should cancel student debt in this country because you got 45 million people who are really getting crushed, many of them getting crushed by this oppressive debt. They believe colleges and universities should be tuition free, we should raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. So, if your point is in attacking them, what he is really attacking is

a progressive agenda that works for working people, I do believe that that's part of it.

COOPER: How much responsibility -- President Trump has made a lot of or put a lot of emphasis on the rise of the stock market over, you know, the last two years and there have been great returns for those who have money in the stock market. How much responsibility, then, does he have to take when it goes down? Or if it goes down more?

SANDERS: Well, that's a -- that's a very good question, and we'll see how he responds to that. I expect for him it's a one-way trip.

But, look, when you talk about the economy, the truth is that the stock market absolutely has, until recently, been going up. Unemployment is relatively low.

But, you know what, we sometimes forget, Anderson. We forget about it in Congress and we forget about it in the media. And that is half of the people in our country are living paycheck to paycheck. That's not a strong economy.

Tonight, 500,000 people sleeping out on the street, 87 million people are either uninsured or underinsured in the midst of massive income and wealth inequality. So, the truth is, today, this is not a good economy for working people. It is an incredibly good economy for the wealthy and the powerful.

COOPER: I want to ask you also about the probability of Congress actually taking legislative action on guns when it comes back from recess. I mean, I feel like we've talked about this issue, you know, a lot and nothing has been done obviously. The president spoke about it today.

I want to play a little of just what he said.


TRMP: These people are mentally ill, and nobody talks about that. But these are mentally ill people, and people have to start thinking about it. I think we have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the '60s and '70s, so many of these institutions were closed.

And I can tell you in New York, they closed a lot of them. And the people went out, they went out onto the streets and it's a terrible thing. But a lot of our conversation has to do with the fact that we have to open up institutions.


COOPER: I'm not even sure where to begin because there's a lot to unpack there. I mean, the idea that, A, nobody one wants to talk about mental illness, I don't know that's true. The idea this is about mental illness is an arguable point. The idea that you're characterizing mentally ill people as violent,

that's obviously something that's just factually incorrect. And a lot of these institutions were closed down because there were terrible abuses that were taking place for generations.

So, with that, do you -- what do you make of what he is saying here? And do you believe at all --

SANDERS: Anderson, you are asking me -- you're asking me what I make of what the president of the United States says. Is that what you're asking me?

COOPER: Sort of, yes.

SANDERS: I don't know. Who knows?


SANDERS: But let me just say this. You know, let me just say this. What the president conveniently forgot are a couple of important points, and that is there are between 300 million to 400 million guns out on the streets of America today. There are, we think, over 10 million assault weapons out on the streets today.

And the reason -- you ask why nothing happens in Congress, and I will give you the reason. Not complicated. I think everybody knows it. It's the power of the NRA over Trump, over Mitch McConnell, and the Republican leadership.

Poll after poll after poll shows that the American people want to move forward as strongly as we can with gun safety legislation.

[20:25:06] And you know what the provisions are, expanding background checks, doing away with the gun show loophole, doing away with the so- called straw man provision. And, by the way, more and more people now, I believe a majority of the American people, want to do what I've been calling for for 30 years, and that is to ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.

That's what the American people want. That is not what the NRA wants. And Trump and Mitch McConnell unfortunately are listening to the NRA.

But I think if the American people stand up and demand change on this issue, I think we can finally do something and we have to do it, all of us are sick to our stomachs about the horrors that we have seen in the last weeks and over the last years.

COOPER: Just lastly, I want to ask you about your recent criticism of the "Washington Post," implying that your criticism of Amazon has driven "The Post" to cover you unfairly. Today, your campaign newsletter said: Reporters don't have to receive a call from Jeff Bezos to know that their paychecks are signed by a billionaire with a well-known personal and corporate agenda and knowing that agenda exists can shape overall frameworks and angles of coverage.

You are, then, alleging in some shape or form, it sounds like from that, that you are being punished by "The Post" for your position on Amazon. Is that --

SANDERS: Look, I don't -- Anderson, no. I don't take it personally. I don't think people stay up nights at "The Post" or "The New York Times" or whatever to say, how do we get Bernie Sanders?

This is what I do worry about. There are six major media conglomerates, including Time Warner which owns CNN, which control about 90 percent of the media in this country in terms of what we see, hear and read. Between you and me, that is a very dangerous situation.

If we want to have diversity of opinion -- I'm not here to suggest -- Trump calls the media an enemy of the people, fake news, that's disgusting. That undermines democracy.

But I do worry when you have a handful of large corporations, to a large degree controlling what we see, hear and read. The CEOs make tens of millions of dollars a year in compensation. They have an agenda, and I worry about that, as I do worry about concentration of ownership in agribusiness, in Wall Streets and in many other areas.

COOPER: Do you believe --

SANDERS: And by the way --


SANDERS: You know, and those folks, you know, frankly, when I say the wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes, they're not necessarily sympathetic to that. When I say we have to make it easier for workers to join unions and raise that minimum wage to a living wage, they're not necessarily sympathetic to that.

You know, I work with the workers at Amazon to raise that minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. Work with the workers at Disneyland. Disneyland to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Disney is the owner of ABC.

So, you know, I think it's probably fair to say that my agenda is not the agenda of the people who own much of the media in America.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, it's a longer discussion and I look forward to having it. But as always, thank you. Conversation (INAUDIBLE)


COOPER: Appreciate it.

Coming up next, more on the gun issue in light of the shooting in Philadelphia. Hear what the city's mayor believes is vital to stopping the violence.

Also ahead, my hour-long special conversation with Stephen Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: The odd thing about the president is that we know nothing about him. We don't know his -- we know stupid things, we don't know school grades, we don't know his actual skin color. We don't know what his actual hair is like. We don't know what he's worth. We don't know anything about his conversations with other world leaders.



[20:32:32] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Another mass shooting occurred in North Philadelphia just this afternoon. Our affiliate reports five people were shot by multiple shooters. One victim is in critical condition. The scene just a short drive from last night's 7.5 hour standoff between a gunman and police officers, six of whom were shot.

Suspect in last night's shooting has a lengthy criminal history, including a felony conviction and a guilty plea in federal court for illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police recovered two weapons, a handgun and an AR-15, which authorities say was the gun that fired most of the shots last night.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has turned last night's standoff into a call to do something about guns and gun violence. He made the point last night while the situation was still unfolding and talked about it again today.


MAYOR JIM KENNEY, (D) PHILADELPHIA: The fact that our officers found themselves under such an attack while trying to carry out a basic function of their job is reprehensible. Seeing an entire neighborhood put in harms way was nothing short of devastating. We can and must do more to protect our officers and all of our citizens. Of course, this incident is a reminder, a harsh reminder of the devastating reality Americans face every day.

Whether it's a mass shootings like we saw last week at El Paso and Dayton, guns have flood American cities leading to senseless and preventable violence. In fact, these dozens of officers were responding to the North Philadelphia incident last night, others in south Philadelphia were responding to another shooting, a young man shot in the head and later pronounced dead.

That incident didn't draw national attention. It happens daily in this city and many others across the nation. But a life was lost last night to gun violence. Here in Philadelphia and like so many other shootings, it goes unnoticed.

No one should have access to the kind of weaponry and fire power that we saw in North Philadelphia last -- yesterday.


COOPER: I spoke more with Mayor Kenney this evening. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mayor Kenney, most of the police officers who were hurt, they are home now, is that correct?

KENNEY: Yes. It was a miracle. God was on our side yesterday because they're all home now with various wounds and injuries, but none of them life-threatening.

COOPER: What do you know about the gunman and the weapon he used?

KENNEY: Well, we haven't been able to access the crime scene fully because there was tear gas used last night to extricate him. But -- it's hard to get into the scene so we don't know the exact -- the extent of the weaponry and arsenal that he had. But it was -- we believe it was an AR-15 with multiple clips.

[20:35:06] COOPER: President Trump, as you know, has weighed in on this today a number of times. Just -- he said on camera basically this guy should have never been on the streets. He tweeted saying, "The Philadelphia shooter should never have been allowed to be on the streets. He had a long and very dangerous criminal record. Looked like he was having a good time after his capture, and after wounding so many police. Long sentence, must get much tougher on street crime." I'm wondering what you make of his comments?

KENNEY: Well, I don't disagree with the fact that the guy should have been in jail, but I do -- he does just ignore the fact that the guy was able to get a semiautomatic military-style weapon, which I believe should be banned. I don't believe anyone should have access -- civilian access to a military-style assault weapons other than law enforcement and the military.

I'm not saying we should take people's handguns away or take their shooting -- their rifles, their hunting rifles away. But there's no reason in god's earth for anyone to have an AR-15 or an AK-47. It's simply use to kill people and that's what this guy tried to do with it yesterday.

And the fact that he has a long lengthy criminal record and was able to obtain one is proof positive that these things should be banned and taken off at the market and not manufactured anymore.

COOPER: If there is a new assault weapons ban and if it's like the last one, the last one did not -- according to the final report, it wasn't effective necessarily because of the large number of those weapons which are already in people's hands. So, even if there is an assault weapons ban, are you -- would you like to see these kinds of weapons actually taken from people or bought back from people?

KENNEY: I don't -- I think we could probably buy them back, which is unlikely, but I don't advocate taking them from people. But I advocate not being able to go to a gun show without a background check with a criminal record or mental health issue and being able to buy a semiautomatic military assault rifle and large ammunition clips and be able to take, you know, to take off on Philadelphia police or on citizens.

You know, one of the things that always fascinates me is that people who claim that they are pro-police and pro-law enforcement, which is -- it's difficult to be in favor of allowing people to have any kind of gun they want at any time and anyway and still claim that you're pro police.

I mean, our police officers and our FOP yesterday were very clear that they want these weapons off the street. Their officers were pinned down for seven hours. Our officers were pinned down for seven hours crouching behind cars. And this guy was shooting wantonly out the window.

So I think that these guns should not be manufactured, they should not be available for sale in the United States. We have enough guns as it is. And if we -- if gun -- the number of guns is any indication of the safety of a country or a city or state, we would be the safest country in the world because we have more guns than any country in the world.

COOPER: There is the argument, as you well know, that criminals like that gunman last night would be able to get their hands on weapons illegally no matter how strong any gun laws are or background checks are. To that you say what?

KENNEY: Well, that's the NRA stance. I disagree with it. I think now is the time -- and, again, I hope that we're not just doing this in vain because after Sandy Hook, I thought there would be substantive changes in our laws and in our attitudes and that didn't work.

And these -- the incidents in Dayton and El Paso, you know, are other indications that we have too much weaponry and too much access to it and people who are either criminals or deranged have the ability to get them and it's horrible.

I mean, our officers -- two of our officers were trapped on the second floor of this house while the gunman was shooting up through the floorboards trying to hit them. And, you know, it's just -- it was a terrible day, but it turned out to be a miraculous days because we didn't lose any one. We didn't lose any civilians.

We had to evacuate day cares. We had a library of people shelter in place. We had, you know, all kinds of businesses were shutdown with people locked inside them for five, six, seven hours. And we went through this and it was very much almost a terrible tragedy in our city.

One guy was grazed in the head and just a few, you know, millimeter or so to the other side and he is no longer with us and it's really heartbreaking.

COOPER: Yes. Mayor Kenney, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

KENNEY: Thanks, Anderson. Take care.


COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, Congressman Steve King demands an apology from a top Republican over her reaction to comments he made yesterday, just not for the comments he made about rape and incest benefiting the population.


[20:43:08] COOPER: Republican Congressman Steve King is asking for "full public apology" from the number three ranking Republican in the House. He said it has nothing to do with his comment he made yesterday to a group of conservatives in Iowa about the benefit he believes to the population of rape and incest.


REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that's taken place? And whatever happened to culture after society, I know I can't certify that, that I'm not a part of a product of that.


COOPER: Now, King says two media outlets misquoted him, although his claim has nothing do with what you heard there. His claim refers to an A.P. correction on something else he said at the same event. But that was enough for King to claim vindication and demand that Congresswoman Liz Cheney apologize for calling his comments appalling and bizarre and for demanding his ouster.

Congressman King has previously skated by after saying awful, sometimes racist and misogynistic things but he's up for reelection so we sent "360's" Randi Kaye to Iowa to find -- to hear what his constituents think about his latest remarks.


TRACY CLINTON, IOWA VOTER: I don't know who is voting for him. Literally everyone I know just rolls their eyes and can't believe the things that come out of his mouth.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Ames, Iowa, part of Congressman Steve King's fourth congressional district, we heard that a lot, especially in light of his most recent comments suggesting humanity may not exist if it weren't for rape or incest.

BLAKE DELANEY, IOWA VOTER: It seems over the top crazy. It doesn't seem like in this day and age we could have people speaking like that.

KAYE (on camera): What do you make of Steve King's latest comments?

JENNIE GREIMANN, IOWA VOTER: Well, I'm shocked, but not surprised. He's an embarrassment to this community, to Iowa, to the Congress, and he needs to be gone. [20:45:07] KATY MOORMAN, IOWA VOTER: It's hard to wrap your head around. That's definitely a different take on things.

KAYE (voice-over): This Republican voter says enough is enough.

CURTIS COPLEY, IOWA VOTER: I really do think it's almost a little crazy. You know, I can't believe that anyone would consider that as a real thought these days. So it just doesn't make any sense at all.

KAYE (on camera): Do you think it's time for him to resign?

COPLEY: I really do. And I don't -- and I think that if he doesn't resign, he should be removed.

KAYE (voice-over): This voter told us King's comments were disrespectful to women.

ELIZABETH STEGEMOLLER, IOWA VOTER: We keep trying to work for women's rights, you know, equal pay, all that kind of stuff, raising children and working, all of that's hard. And then when you get comments like that on top of it, it's just very degrading and kind of sets women back.

KAYE (on camera): What makes you think twice about voting for him?

KRYSTAL MARTIN, IOWA VOTER: Statements such as that seem a little extreme. So, I think he isn't thinking before he's speaking in a lot of situations and doesn't really seem to care who he might offend.

KAYE (voice-over): Still, King does have support here. Republican Ron Bartlett, a barber in town, plans to vote for King again, though his own comments left us scratching our heads.

RON BARTLETT, IOWA VOTER: Obviously there's been incest everywhere. In every family, somebody has somebody that they wish they hadn't been around.

KAYE (on camera): Every family?

BARTLETT: Many families. I hope my family doesn't, but --

DELANEY: He's made the state of Iowa almost at times a laughing stock state because we have put this man in office over and over and over.

KAYE (voice-over): A laughing stock because King has over the years defended white supremacy, embraced nativism, even pushed the great replacement conspiracy theory, suggesting some shadowy group is working behind the scenes to reduce the white population.

Back at the barber shop, Ron Bartlett tells us he can let all of that go.

BARLETT: I'm not saying he isn't racist. I think everybody has that much racist in them.

KAYE (on camera): Why is it OK with you that somebody who you think is even that much of a racist is in Congress?

BARTLETT: You ought to be able to do some things without having everybody just clamp down your throat, I think.

KAYE: So it's OK for you to have him in Congress?

BARTLETT: I think it's OK for me.

KAYE (voice-over): It's not OK with this Republican voter who voted for King before, but won't again, base on his recent comments.

BRAD KALTENHEUSER, IOWA VOTER: It's just way over the top.

KAYE (on camera): So this time around he will not have your vote?

KALTENHEUSER: No, no, not this time. I want any other Republican or any other Democrat to run. And I'll vote for anybody else but Steve King.


KAYE: And today, Anderson, King responded to Congresswoman Liz Cheney on Twitter, as you know. She called his comments appalling and bizarre. She said it was time for him to go. She said that the people in his district here in Iowa deserve better.

So his response on Twitter to her today was this. "I believe all life is sacred regardless of the circumstances of conception. Liz Cheney finds that appalling and bizarre. My position was endorsed by a bipartisan 174 members. Liz, you helped kill the heartbeat bill when we had the votes to pass it."

So, Anderson, he certainly seems to be shifting the blame here, and certainly not backing down from those comments he made yesterday.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Up next, a story of love, loss and hope. His wife died in the El Paso shooting and now strangers are answering his call for help.


[20:52:49] COOPER: A 61-year-old El Paso man will bury his wife this weekend, two weeks after she and 21 others were murdered in that city. Theirs was in every way a remarkable love story.

Married for a little more than two decades, they traveled the country together until deciding to settle in El Paso. They had no one -- he had no one but her. No living relatives. She says she was his last close connection in this world, literally his one and only. The idea of burying her alone might have been too much for him.

Luckily, blessedly, it will be the one burden he will not have to bear because as our Gary Tuchman discovered, he has friends. Many friends that he never even knew he had.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tony Basco loved only one person in the world and now she's gone.

(on camera) And she hugged you a lot.

TONY BASCO, WIFE KILLED IN WALMART SHOOTING: I don't know what she saw in me sometimes. We had wonderful years. The best years in my whole life.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tony has no other family. His wife, Margie Reckard, had just a few family members, but none in the El Paso area. Attendance at her funeral was expected to be minimal, until the internet took over.

Tweets from journalists and media outlets sent out messages of support for Tony. Then there was this Facebook post from the funeral home reading, "Mr. Antonio Basco was married 22 years to his wife, Margie Reckard. He had no other family. He welcomes anyone to attend his wife's services."

People from all over the United States have contacted the funeral home as well as Tony to say they planned to attend Margie's funeral.

(on camera) There are going to be hundreds of people here probably from all around the country. How does that make you feel?

BASCO: I mean it's nice to see people really caring about people. There's going to be a lot of people. I told you, you were important.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): They had been married for 22 years. Tony says his life had been very difficult prior to meeting her.

(on camera) What would you like people to know about Margie?

BASCO: She was a caring, loving, the most beautiful person.

[20:55:06] TUCHMAN (voice-over): Every day now, he goes to the memorial site next to the Walmart taking exquisite care of Margie's memorial, making sure the flowers and the wind chimes, which she always loved so much look the best they can.

(on camera) Where did you meet her?

BASCO: Omaha, Nebraska, in a bar.

TUCHMAN: And you were single, she was single?

BASCO: Yes. We have been --

TUCHMAN: It was a love at first sight?

BASCO: Oh, man, are you kidding with that?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tony is still waking up each morning in disbelief that she is gone. BASCO: I will see her on the table, looking at the front door, keep waiting for her to walk in. I've even try calling on her phone.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You have?

BASCO: I've tried to.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): At the memorial site, Tony tells Margie that someday he will meet her in heaven.

BASCO: So what you've been up to? What are you going to do up there? I wish you could tell me sometime.

TUCHMAN: Tony is now beginning a new life alone, but for at least one day at Margie's funeral, he won't be.

BASCO: She made me the happiest man in the world and the luckiest. Nobody is even luckier than me in this whole world.


TUCHMAN: Anderson, Tony spends a lot of time right here, hours a day, visiting Margie. He wants to be as close as he can even though she's not alive anymore. And it's important to point out that when he's here, people now know him. They come up to him. They hug him. They shake his hand. They talk to him and he takes very great comfort with that. Anderson?

COOPER: All right. It was so moving. It's so great that so many people are going to show up and honor her life. Gary, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Great story.

Up next, a "360" special, my hour-long conversation with Stephen Colbert.