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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

NYT: Sources Say Barr Prosecutor "Hunting for a Basis to Accuse" Intel Officials of Tampering With Russia Evidence; Barr: It's Time to Stop Tweeting About": Justice Department Criminal Cases; President Trump, Michael Bloomberg Trade Barbs Over Social Media; Barr: Trump Tweets "Make It Impossible For Me To Do My Job"; Barr: "I'm Not Going To Be Bullied Or Influenced By Anybody". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 13, 2020 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:15]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with what sounds like a very public declaration of independence from Attorney General William Barr, along with questions about his motivations and how much credence to give his statements, because there is new reporting casting doubt on what Mr. Barr is saying, which hit at almost the exact same time that he was actually saying it.

First, here is what the attorney general told ABC News' Pierre Thomas about being his own man and making his own calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATE: I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody, and I said at the time whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president, I'm going to do what I think is right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, he also took issue with the president tweeting about Justice Department cases, which the president continued to do again today concerning his friend and convicted felon Roger Stone. He appeared to suggest that any connection between the president's tweeting and his own decisions -- well, that would be just a coincidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: You know, the fact that the tweets are out there and correspond to things we're doing at the department sort of give grist to the mill, and that's why I think it's time to stop the tweeting about department of justice criminal cases.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: He says it makes it impossible to do his job, which of course raises the question what job and for whom? Is he really staking out his independence here or merely begging the president not to say the quiet part out loud? Or is this just a public relations attempt to appear independent after a number of actions have certainly put into question Barr's handling of the role?

We'll talk more in a bit and the veracity of his claim that he is not, as critics accuse acting as more of a personal attorney than the country's attorney general.

There is also new reporting in "The New York Times" which is raising serious questions about the work the attorney general is doing behind the scenes investigating what the president calls the Russia hoax. It is also with the U.S. intelligence community, including sending some of the president's hand-picked top officials caused Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Quoting now from the lead in "The New York Times," Trump administration officials investigating the government's response to Russia's election interference in 2016 appear to be hunting for a basis to accuse Obama era intelligence officials of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis about Moscow's covert operation, quoting to people familiar with people familiar to aspects of the inquiry, which is precisely what the president wants to hear, and has been talking, tweeting and sometimes ranting about for months, and something that, again, stands in contrast to what Attorney General Barr said just today about, quote, not being influenced by anybody, unquote.

"The Times'" Adam Goldman shares the byline on this story. He joins us now.

So, Adam, can just walk us through your point? What more have you learned about the focus of this investigation by the Department of Justice?

ADAM GOLDMAN, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Hey, thanks for having me.

Well, John Durham, the prosecutor Barr appointed to look at the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation and the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference is basically picking apart the analytical analysis that went into this assessment that said Russia interfered in the election. And it's really in many ways extraordinary.

Durham is now investigating the people who sounded the alarm about Russian interference.

COOPER: And the whole investigation, I mean, according to your reporting, it's rattled current and former intelligence officials. What is their concern? What are they assuming based on the questions that Durham and others have been asking?

GOLDMAN: You know, it seems to be that he's picking apart analytical disputes that went on, disputes between the NSA and CIA about providing information that the CIA was supposed to give the NSA about an informant who had helped the CIA figure out Putin's intentions, and a couple of other things.

You know, he's really -- we have not seen this before that a criminal prosecutor is going to pick apart an analytical assessment based on the work of three intelligence agencies, the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA.

COOPER: And one of the particular cases that you write about is that the NSA wanted more information about the source of some information the CIA had, a source who was in the Kremlin at the time. CIA, as is often the case with all intelligence agencies, was concerned about revealing the identity to the NSA or spreading the information too widely. Eventually, according to your article, they did give more information to the NSA, and in the final draft, the CIA and I think one other agency both said they had high confidence in the material, the information.

[20:05:06]

And the NSA, they had an alternative which is they had only moderate confidence.

GOLDMAN: That's right, Anderson. So the agency had -- the CIA had a well-placed agent/informant within the Kremlin, who is providing the CIA information about Putin's intentions. And so they were reluctant to provide information about that, because they were fearful that the source -- information about the source would get made public, which by the way it eventually was and had to be resettled in the United States.

But the CIA relented and gave the NSA that information. So what happened was the CIA had high confidence in their source. The FBI had high confidence in the CIA source, but the NSA, which devotes its life to signals intelligence, it wants to see or hear things, doesn't rely on human intelligence, had moderate confidence. I think the NSA would have gotten high if there had been a source who would have corroborated what the CIA source was saying.

But they didn't have that. So they stuck to this moderate -- this moderate confidence level. So Durham has been sort of examining this divide, this disconnect between the CIA, the FBI and the NSA.

COOPER: The -- Adam, if you could, just stay with us, because I also want to bring in the former director of national intelligence and also retired Air Force lieutenant general, James Clapper. He's the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from the Life in Intelligence". Director Clapper is joining us by phone.

Director Clapper, first of all, I'm wondering what your reaction to a reporting by Adam and others is tonight. Are you concerned about the apparent focus of this investigation, or does this raise questions for you?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (via telephone): Well, obviously, yes. And others notably Mark Morell, former acting director of CIA has spoken about our concerns about a prosecuting attorney critiquing the judgment of intelligence analysts after the fact using what prosecuting attorneys, the evidentiary bar they use, which is probable cause as opposed to the evidentiary bar that intelligence analysts of necessity have to use to draw conclusions.

I have to say that once the team was put together, the three agencies, NSA, CIA, and FBI, about 28 people to include a team of experts on Russia from the three agencies, plus a few people from my office, once President Obama issued his tasking on about the 5th of December and we formalized our task force, one of my concerns was that there not be barriers or obstacles between and among the analysts who were assigned to this task, because we had a very short deadline.

And I was not presented with any evidence of any problems with respect to accesses to all the various compartments that were used to draw this conclusion. I think the important thing here is rather than dwelling on how the sausage was made is consider the product. And at no time was any dissent or disagreement identified to me as we publish their assessment on the 6th of January of 2017.

Now, and I am not aware of any evidence of anyone holding back any important information, nor was there any occasion where any of the agency directors applied or directed any windage to the experts who actually wrote the intelligence community assessment.

COOPER: Has Mr. Durham or anyone on his team reached out to you or interviewed you regarding his investigation?

CLAPPER: No. I expect they will at some point, but I've not been contacted.

COOPER: Adam?

GOLDMAN: Let me weigh in here. Since General Clapper is accused to be part of the deep state conspiracy to overthrow the government and Trump, but one of the things that was echoed to me that General Clapper said which I believe is correct that the conclusions reached in this intelligence assessment about Russian interference, they weren't pushed down.

They weren't pushed down by Brennan. They weren't pushed down by Comey. They weren't pushed down by General Rogers who ran the NSA.

These conclusions were reached by the analysts at the ground level. The handful of --

COOPER: When you say pushed down, they didn't come from the top, they came from analysts?

GOLDMAN: Right, right. These were career analyst, some senior, some mid level who came to these conclusions on their own and presented them and presented them to the leaders of these particular organizations.

COOPER: Director Clapper, is that how you see it?

CLAPPER: Yes, that's absolutely true. I didn't even meet with the group of experts, the task force until after the effort was over.

[20:10:02]

After the intelligence community assessment had been published is the first time I met with them as a group. And I didn't issue any direction to them other than we need to get this done under the timeline that President Obama outlined to us. So that's absolutely true.

One other point I'd like to make is I believe the NSA characterization on one of the key judgments of moderate was actually one that was came from Admiral Roger, the director of NSA personally, rather than perhaps his analysts, which is perfectly fine. Having been through prior occasions of groupthink, it's perfectly acceptable and not unusual that you might have the differentiation and the confidence level on one key judgment.

GOLDMAN: And let me weigh in here on the analytical conclusions they reached. You know, Barr has spent a lot -- excuse me, Durham has spent a lot of time trying to understand the data sets that these agencies used to reach their conclusions, and he's asked about the analytical process.

And it's my understanding that the response he's received is, well, you can read it yourself. You can read about the analytical standards because General Clapper's office in 2015, you know, issued -- you can issue these analytical standards. There are actually guidelines that analysts have to follow to produce -- to produce something like the intelligence assessment. And by the way, these analytical guidelines you have to follow are the result of the Iraq war, the result of relying on a fraudulent informant named Curveball who drove this country to war.

So, the government realized after that we need to do a better job, and these things are written down for anybody to see. They're public.

COOPER: Adam --

CLAPPER: If I can comment -- if I can comment on that, I was the only one on the intelligence community seniors who were involved in the infamous national intelligence assessment of October 2002 dealing with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That's why I was particularly sensitive about not suppressing dissent and to ensure if there was any, that it was prominently displayed. And there wasn't any. So I was very mindful of sensitivity about sources and corroborating information because my fingerprints were on that NIE in a different intelligence capacity in 2002. And I remembered that very well.

GOLDMAN: I haven't -- let me make one point. I haven't spoken to General Clapper about this, but I've heard that independently, that people who were involved in this intelligence assessment, Curveball loomed. They were all aware of Curveball.

COOPER: General Clapper and Adam, hold tight. I also want to bring in Jeff Toobin, because I think this also calls for a lawyer of the situation, CNN chief legal analyst Jeff Toobin is here. Jeff, what do you make of this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you have to remember the context here. The president hates James -- Mr. Brennan, who was the head of the CIA. He took away his security clearance. Brennan is an analyst on MSNBC. He has been very critical of President Trump.

This Durham investigation is designed to get Brennan. They want to pin something on him. Durham, who is a U.S. attorney in Connecticut, used to have a very good reputation. But --

COOPER: He's investigated law enforcement before.

TOOBIN: Correct. But when the inspector general's report about this came out a few months ago, he, even though his investigation isn't even over, you know, mouthed the Trump line of the inspector general's report is flawed. So, you know, the Durham investigation looks at this point like a hit job designed to get someone, probably Brennan in the deep state as the president calls it, not like a good faith investigation of what went on here.

COOPER: So, Durham has worked for both -- for different administrations. He's worked under both parties investigating wrongdoing and law enforcement and elsewhere. Why would he do this?

TOOBIN: You know, the being associated with Donald Trump is the great reputation killer of our lifetime. I mean, if you look at all the people who have, you know, whether it's members of his cabinet, whether it's chiefs of staff. You know, Mr. Tillerson was a very respected head of Exxon. General Mattis, General Flynn.

COOPER: General Kelly.

TOOBIN: General Flynn, General Kelly. All of them wind up degrading themselves by their association with the president.

COOPER: And also with them being degraded by the president subsequent to degrading themselves.

Jeff, stick around.

Adam Goldman, thank you. Fascinating reporting there "The New York Times" tonight. General Clapper as well.

Coming up next, we'll how to take his claims of independence at the Justice Department.

And later, the president's attack on Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg's answer to it as well as the ability he seems to have, as some put to it, to live rent-free inside the president's head. Top Bloomberg adviser happens to have written a definitive book on citizen Trump, joins us when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So just as we're learning more about the investigation that critics say was hatched from a presidential conspiracy theory and is being conducted at the president's behest, the man in charge of it speaks out. Attorney General Barr saying the president's tweets make it impossible for him to do his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS: You have a problem with tweets?

BARR: Yes. Well, I have -- I have a problem with some of the tweets.

[20:20:00]

I'm happy to say that in fact the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: If that was supposed to be a shot across the bow of the White House, it seems to have landed with hardly a thud. A statement from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, the president wasn't bothered by the comments at all and he has the right just like any American citizen to publicly offer his opinions. President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The president has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.

Back now with Jeffrey Toobin, as well as two people experienced work in the White House, former Obama White House communication director Jen Psaki, and CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen.

Jeff, what do you think Barr -- why is Barr doing this today?

TOOBIN: Well, I think he is right that this -- it does make his job impossible if the president continues behaving the way he is going to behave. The problem is the statement from press secretary says he has the right to express his opinion like he is the host of "The Apprentice." He's not the host of "The Apprentice." He is the president of the United States and the attorney general's boss.

So if as that statement suggests he is going to continue doing this anyway, the problem has not been addressed at all, nor has the attorney general said why out of all the sentences handed down in the United States he decides to intervene on the one involving the president's friend?

COOPER: David, I mean, just from an optics stand point, do you feel Attorney General Barr felt he had to speak out now amid all the scrutiny and resignations and folks in the Justice Department trying to leave, get off the case? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He was certainly under

pressure, Anderson. Given his record, given the way he seemed to be in the tank for the president right from the beginning of his service at the Justice Department. It's hard not to be cynical tonight about what was really going on here today. It very much looks like he's come out with a statement that he can take back to the Justice Department and show them he stood up to the president or as in fact this was a setup deal, might have been a setup deal in which there was an understanding with the president, yes, you can make that case so that things go easier. But on the substance of what you do, you listen to me.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: You know, it's hard not to believe that.

COOPER: And, Jen, the White House is saying the president wasn't bothered by Barr's comments. Do you believe this was, you know, Barr gone rogue? Or it doesn't seem that way.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It sure doesn't feel that way, Anderson, and a lot of his supporters from the outside, people working on his campaign, donors have said something similar. Look, it's hard to believe I think that these prosecutors left because they were offended by one of the president's tweets. If that were the Barr, there would have been a mass exodus from government.

It's not just that Attorney General Barr disagreed on the sentencing guidelines. He also replaced the lead prosecutor with a buddy of his. So there are a lot of actions that took place that I suspect are more concerning and led more to the actions by the prosecutors than presidential tweets.

COOPER: Jeff, does -- what happens now in terms of the investigation? I mean, you have people trying to get off the case, getting off the case, in one case resigning.

TOOBIN: Well, there are a lot of U.S. attorneys out there, and they'll find someone to do the case. The question is, like, who is deciding, and is the president still dictating individual sentences?

COOPER: Barr has said that the president has never made a request to him about a criminal case. He doesn't really have to, though, if he is tweeting stuff out and making clear what he wants.

TOOBIN: Exactly.

COOPER: I mean, Barr is no fool. He got the job by submitting a -- he wasn't even soliciting. He just submitted his own ideas.

TOOBIN: Correct. And as long as the president injects himself into individual prosecutorial decisions, whether it's in a phone call or in tweets, that's a distortion of how the Justice Department has worked for decades, and we'll see if Barr is going to do anything about that.

COOPER: David, it's really interesting how time and time again we hear these arguments well, the president never said to me directly quid pro quo. The president never said directly. It doesn't work that way. It doesn't have to.

GERGEN: It doesn't have to. Winks and nods will work. Almost anything will work. Barr know what's the president wants. It's been perfectly clear from the tweets and everything else. I think we'll have to see what happens now. Does stone get a much lighter sentence? Does General Flynn possibly get probation? Does President Trump wind up pardoning both of them? And does Durham come in with a blasting statement that looks suspicious on its face about Brennan?

All those things are going on. And I have to say, I think that Barr needs to show much more than he did today if he is really going stand up against the president, I think he has to do it on substance, and I think he has to be very consistent about it. He can't just this one- off kind of statement saying to the Justice Department employees, hey, listen, I'm for you when it's not at all apparent he really is.

TOOBIN: Let me add one variable to that. Judge Army Berman Jackson is a wild card here. She doesn't answer to Donald Trump. She has life tenure. She is going to sentence Roger Stone.

She would be well within her rights to say I want to hold a hearing about what the hell happened here because this is not the normal process for how sentencing is handled within the Justice Department. And maybe she will call in political appointees and explain how and why this sentence recommendation was changed so dramatically at the last minute after the president asked for it.

COOPER: Jen, there are Republicans who said, you know, on our air and elsewhere, look, every president wants an attorney general who is on his team, and they say Eric Holder was a close confident of President Obama. Robert Kennedy was obviously -- John F. Kennedy's brother.

PSAKI: Sure. The president -- any president picks who their attorney general. They nominate them. But at the same time, there are rules in place in any White House. Whenever the attorney general was in the White House as a political appointee, as a close adviser of the president, I kind of avoided any contact. You don't know when cases are going to be decided. You don't know when information is going to come out, or how it will come out.

You know, that is what is normal. And this is crossing some lines that I think go far beyond having somebody you like as the attorney general when you're the president.

COOPER: Jen, do you think the president will actually stop tweeting about Justice Department cases?

PSAKI: It seems highly unlikely, right. I mean I don't think -- given he didn't take any offense to it, and given he doesn't seem to have any self-control with Twitter, I would bet we see some more tweets around his friends who are about to be sentenced or facing prosecution I suspect.

TOOBIN: We don't have to guess. The press secretary said he's going to continue doing it.

PSAKI: That's true. He confirmed it.

TOOBIN: It's not like there is some mystery about whether the president learned a lesson. He very explicitly according to his press secretary did not.

COOPER: David Gergen, Jen Psaki, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.

PSAKI: Thank you.

Mike Bloomberg took a dig at the president after Barr's interview was released. Here is what the Democratic presidential candidate tweeted about the attorney general saying presidential tweets make it hard for him to do his job. Quote, if it's any consolation, Trump's tweets make it impossible for him to do his job too.

Reaction next to one of Bloomberg's top advisers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:32:23]

COOPER: It's no secret that President Trump and one of his Democratic rivals, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are political foes. No secret either that the mayor has been getting under the President's skin a lot lately.

Some new evidence today, at 8:23 this morning, the President started things off by tweeting, "Mini Mike is a 5'4" mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes, please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie's people will go nuts."

Just 20 minutes later, Bloomberg posted this. "We know many of the same people in New York. Behind your back they laugh at you and call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune and squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record and the resources to defeat you. And I will."

Then Bloomberg offered this to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody said, you know, that he's taller than me, he calls me Little Mike. And the answer is, Donald, where I come from we measure your height from your neck up. I am not afraid of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is ahead of us -- is afraid of us and that's why he keeps tweeting all the time.

If he doesn't mention you, you got a big problem. But the President attacked me again this morning on Twitter. Thank you very much, Donald. He sees our poll numbers, and I think it's fair to say he is scared because he knows I have the record and the resources to defeat him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Joining us now is writer Tim O'Brien, a senior adviser to the Bloomberg presidential campaign, before that, a Trump biographer. Tim, good to have you on the program.

TIM O'BRIEN, SENIOR ADVISER, MIKE BLOOMBERG 2020: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: To me, that response by Mayor Bloomberg was very -- that tweet in particular was very interesting, because the whole -- I've been fascinated by President Trump's they are laughing at us constant refrain. He said that about Obama all the time. Oh, other countries are laughing at us. That seems to be one of his greatest fears --

O'BRIEN: Yes.

COOPER: -- which is people are laughing at me, making fun of me and that Bloomberg went right after that. It seems like he kind of knows the buttons to push with President Trump.

O'BRIEN: He knows how deeply insecure Donald Trump is. You know, Donald Trump is a classic bully. He uses Twitter to work these things out. It's almost like therapy for him. And it's a sideshow for us. I think Mike knows how Donald Trump operates, because he's watched Donald Trump operate this way in New York for years.

Mike is secure about who he is. Mike is everything Donald Trump aspires to be and isn't. And I think we've discovered that we can just bounce him around like a beach ball day to day and it keeps him distracted. We'll stay focused on the stuff voters care about, health care, education, jobs and keep Trump off balance.

[20:35:03]

COOPER: How much of the animosity do you think the President has towards him and vice versa is about policy? How much is, you know, just a dislike of each other?

O'BRIEN: I don't think Mike dislikes Trump. He knows that Trump is a con man. I just don't think he thinks about Trump that much. But I think Donald Trump is obsessed with Mike and he's obsessed with Mike because Mike stands on a stack of achievements that makes him 10 feet taller than Trump, even if Trump wants to make fun of his height.

COOPER: I mean, Mike Bloomberg does not come from, you know, a huge fortune like Donald Trump does.

O'BRIEN: No. Mike is authentically self-made. You know, Mike worked as a parking lot attendant in college to work through college. Every dollar he has made, he's earned. Donald Trump was born with a silver foot in his mouth and he's never really forgotten it. His father, Trump's father was self-made, and I think that hangs over Donald Trump's consciousness all the time.

COOPER: It's fascinating to me. I mean, you and I -- I've done interviews with you because you were sued by Trump.

O'BRIEN: Right. COOPER: You deposed Trump. I mean, you actually have seen more of Trump's financial records in everything than anybody else.

O'BRIEN: Well, and you know, the thing about Donald Trump is he is the most successful con man of the modern era. He has conveyed to voters that he is a successful businessman when he's not. He's a serial bankruptcy artist. He's conveyed the voters that I'm going to serve your interest and bring back jobs to your broken communities, and he hasn't. And Mike Bloomberg is someone who has actually done all these things for people.

COOPER: Well, it's also fascinating. I mean, the whole thing that Trump run on off, you know, hire the best people. I mean, every one of the things that he has said, it's just not true and we have seen time and time again the kind of people. I mean, Rudy Giuliani is his personal attorney. I mean, that --

O'BRIEN: I mean, he's never attracted a-list people, because Donald Trump himself is not a-list. He is not intellectually disciplined. He is not emotionally disciplined. He can't add well. He is not a reader. And he tends to attract other people who are also carnival barkers.

COOPER: So how is -- what is the lane for Mike Bloomberg? Obviously, this is a situation nobody has ever seen before, given his resources, given his, you know, late entrance into the campaign. What is the path ahead? He's going to be at the debate for the first time coming up in Vegas next week.

O'BRIEN: Well, I think path -- I mean, there's clearly a lot of voters who feel, let's see right now. I think that's why the Democratic field has been fragmented. And I think Mike is somebody who can unify most of these disparate branches of the party. He's a unifier, although we're willing to get into the trenches and bat Donald Trump around.

We respect all of the other Democratic candidates. We are not making fun of them on Twitter or anywhere else. But we do feel that Mike has the most governing experience of anybody running. He's a pragmatic progressive who has deep appeal to independents, the business community, moderates, and on and on.

COOPER: He has been, you know, the -- one of the criticisms of him is going to be on that debate stage that he's essentially bought his way into the election. He's outspending everybody. I talked to Bernie Sanders last night on the program and, you know, he said, you know, he's clearly going to be pointing out that Bloomberg not only is a billionaire but has not spent months and months in Iowa and New Hampshire and done what everybody else has done.

O'BRIEN: So, Mike has spent months and months on the campaign trail. Mike has spent decades and decades as a public servant, as a philanthropist. He's worked very hard to earn the reputation he has.

COOPER: Even before this, he's been giving huge amounts of money on gun issues in various states.

O'BRIEN: In 2018 midterm, he's one of the most generous backers of women running in that campaign who flipped formally Republican districts. You can buy exposure. You can't by an election. If you could buy exposure, Tom Steyer -- buy an election, Tom Steyer wouldn't still be at 1 percent or 2 percent.

Mike Bloomberg is second in a lot of recent polls because people know his story now. The other thing is the amount of money he is spending. We've said that if Mike is not the nominee, this machine we're building, we're in over 45 states and territories. We've got 2,100 people on the ground that will be put at the feet of the party or whoever the Democratic nominee is. But we think Mike is the best person.

COOPER: He's going to continue pouring money into this even if he is not the nominee?

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is, because he sees it as the culmination of his life's work. And you know, if you look at the numbers right now, the DNC is about $8 million, the RNC and Trump combined is about 180, and we anticipate they'll put about 900 million dark money into this campaign. Had Mike Bloomberg not gotten into this campaign, the Democrats would have been severely outrun both financially and organizationally. And he is doing what I think is a historic act to right this ship at a time when there is a five-alarm fire in the White House.

COOPER: You know, obviously coming up for the debate stage, I'm sure you are prepared for this. There's obviously a lot of criticism about his policies on stop and frisk.

O'BRIEN: Right.

COOPER: He says he inherited it. You know, but it did grow under him. And even I think 2018 he was still speaking favorably about it.

O'BRIEN: The only thing we can say about stop and frisk is that it was a mistake. Mike was wrong to embrace it, wrong to embrace it and stand by it for as long as he did. I think he owes it to communities of color for the rest of his career to prove to them that this is not who he is as a man or as a politician.

[20:40:07]

But stop and frisk also doesn't represent the totality of his time as mayor. He did a lot of substantial things to reach out and empower communities of color. He diversified the NYPD, the incarceration rate in New York dropped when he was mayor. He had a model program for outreach to young residents of color that Barack Obama modeled my brother's keeper on.

And that's why we've got current and former mayors of color, elected officials who still support this campaign. It's why Mike is still rising in the polls with black voters because they understand the totality of his career.

COOPER: A lot of people have left Biden in South Carolina and gone to Bloomberg. O'BRIEN: Indeed, indeed.

COOPER: Appreciate you being with us.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you so much, Tim O'Brien.

Just ahead, more on the cultural history of President Trump and Mike Bloomberg, how these two billionaires from New York who once were seen publicly together, golfing, ribbon cuttings, even the President's former T.V. show. That when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump had the White House in their sights, the two New Yorkers were actually quite complimentary of each other, at least publicly. Brian Todd has the story of why their falling out predates either's run for the presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, he's a lightweight.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The way they talk about each other now, you'd think they've been enemies for life.

[20:45:02]

BLOOMBERG: I am not afraid of Donald Trump.

TODD: But back in New York, back in the day, a different dynamic.

TRUMP: And I have to say, you have been a great mayor. Come here. You really have. I mean, this guy is fantastic.

TODD: That was in October 2013. Then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump lavished praise on each other after Trump helped Bloomberg convert a trash dump in The Bronx into a high-end golf course.

BLOOMBERG: But if there's anybody that has changed this city, it is Donald Trump. He really has done an amazing thing, and this is another part of it. Donald, thank you for your confidence in the city.

TODD: Analysts say that partnership actually could have been the genesis of their falling out, because in a 2016 interview with Wolf Blitzer, Trump took all the credit for the project.

TRUMP: I took it over and got it knocked up in one year and now it's a tremendous success. Michael asked me if I get involved in it.

MICHAEL KRANISH, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED": Bloomberg thought that was an exaggeration. His former aides thought that was an exaggeration, and it sort of split between them. TODD: But before then, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg appeared to get along, or at least found each other useful. Trump backed Bloomberg's effort to run for a third term as New York's mayor. They golfed together. Bloomberg appeared on Trump's NBC show, "The Apprentice", and their daughters appeared in an HBO documentary called "Born Rich." But analysts say in the real world of New York business and philanthropy --

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": In that world, it was Bloomberg who was the star and it was Trump who was the one who is always looking for acceptance and rarely getting it. During all of his life, Donald Trump has longed for the approval of the New York establishment. Mike Bloomberg was the New York establishment.

TODD: Now, the two are being compared and contrasted under a microscope. Both switched political parties repeatedly and were unexpected winners in their biggest elections. And both became billionaires, although on the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans at the end of last year, Michael Bloomberg ranked eighth with $53.4 billion while Trump ranked 275th with $3.1 billion.

KRANISH: They both named their businesses after themselves. They're both very wealthy people. But Bloomberg came from a more working class background, and Donald Trump of course inherited a lot of money from his father to run his business.

TODD: Going forward, how nasty and personal will their battle become?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think in a head to head battle, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump will be nastier than anything we've seen in politics perhaps in 100 years. These are two people who are not afraid to fight, and they're not afraid to fight in a very personal way.

TODD (on camera): Analysts say one reason Donald Trump fears Michael Bloomberg is that he realizes that Bloomberg has the resources, millions of dollars that Bloomberg can spend on ads, highly produced ads that he can use to keep attacking Trump in the most personal of ways.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just ahead, we'll return with the breaking news and talk with a lawmaker about what he'll ask Attorney General Barr when Barr testifies before Congress.

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[20:52:12]

COOPER: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: What's this, what's this, Anderson? It seems that the President got popped in the mouth three times in one day. The AG basically telling him to shut up with the tweets, the Republicans in the Senate voting in favor of eliminating his military power with Iran, and then he punched himself in the face changing his story about Rudy being sent to Ukraine by him. So we have a House manager here. We have a representative for Bloomberg here, who is Congressman Gregory Meeks. We'll take it all on with two As investigators as well.

COOPER: All right, about eight minutes from now. Chris, I look forward to that. I'll see you then.

Coming up next, Congressman Eric Swalwell on the breaking news, what he wants to know about Attorney General Barr's claim of independence from the White House.

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[20:56:31]

COOPER: Returning to the breaking news Attorney General Barr's declaration as it were of independence from outside interference. He is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee late next month. Those interview remarks we played for you earlier are bound to come up one way or another.

Joining me now, a key member of that committee, California Democratic Eric Swalwell. He's the author of the upcoming book "Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump."

So Congressman, when the attorney general says the President never has asked him to do anything regarding a specific case, do you buy that or does the President even need to call him up when he is tweeting?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): I'll just say, I don't think the President needs to. We learn from Michael Cohen that there's kind of a code that the President has where, you know, how intimate something or say, you know, it will be really nice or it's so unfair what's happening to Roger Stone. And then he's tweeting, and so Barr gets the message.

What's so frustrating here is that the President could just pardon Roger Stone, but instead, he's chosen to show all of us that he's got others who will do his hits for him. And he's injected this virus of corruption into the department (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: You think that's intentional?

SWALWELL: I think it's intentional, yes. I think he wants to show that he can actually have the DOJ do his work. Because no matter what happens, I think Stone is ultimately getting a pardon.

COOPER: Right. I mean, if he was so concerned, he could just pardon him right away.

SWALWELL: Right, right. This is more about I think showing his power.

COOPER: That's interesting. I mean, the idea that Barr is saying, you know, the President's tweets make my job impossible. It doesn't seem like -- I mean, do you believe that this is really him pushing back? Because traditionally, if that happens, you know, the President would slam him or the White House would. In this case, the White House said, oh, you know, he's free to have his own opinions.

SWALWELL: I don't buy it. And also, I mean, tell me the time where Bill Barr, you know, went to a court and said, you know what, that young black man who is being over prosecuted for having cocaine on him, just proportionately to white persons, but we're going to lower the recommendation on that. That's not happening. I mean, this is only happening for the President's friend. It's not the first time. They also have changed their recommendation for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

COOPER: There are -- for quite -- for a long time, there have been prosecutions, overly zealous prosecutions of people for all manner of very serious crimes or even -- for not serious crimes and he hasn't intervened on them.

SWALWELL: No, he hasn't. And again, it's because he's helping the President's friends. And what's most concerning is that he's not only asking -- the President is not only suggesting that a friend should have their sentence reduced. He is also, I think, showing that if you're an enemy of mine, I now have weaponized the Department of Justice and we could go after you. And then not just, you know, help our friend, but punish and maybe imprison our enemies.

COOPER: Barr is going to be appearing obviously before the Judiciary Committee, which you're on. What do you want to hear from him? I mean, do you expect much to actually come of that?

SWALWELL: Independence of prosecutors is a pillar of our democracy. And I think we want to know if that pillar still stands?

COOPER: But he's going to -- I mean, will he say it doesn't? I mean, he's going to say it does, of course.

SWALWELL: So we're launching an investigation immediately into this case and looking also at others. So you know, I think we're going to see what we can find. We're not helpless anymore. You know, we won the majority and we have subpoena power and also we have these brave prosecutors who have resigned.

And you know, if you are a prosecutor out there right now and are you fearful that the Department of Justice is being weaponized, I would hope that more people would forward that would assist us.

COOPER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

COOPER: Thanks very much.

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

CUOMO: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." END