tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 11, 2019 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
some reason that we visited them. >> what a privilege and what an exciting thing to see it. i know you talked about this ages ago, and have i been so excited. >> you were very supportive. i appreciate that. >> i'll be a big viewer. thank you, sanjay. and "chasing life with dr. sanjay gupta" premieres saturday at 9:00 on cnn. and anderson starts now. good evening. a very busy hour ahead, whether it's the arrest of wikileaks's julian assange or the story we begin with tonight, the attorney general of the united states and exactly who he is and is not working for. is he an impartial lawman or trying to curry favor with president trump? the question is being asked tonight because of barr's most recent senate testimony and the way he characterized aspects of the fbi's russia counterintelligence investigation, specifically this. >> we want to make sure that during -- i think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. it's a big deal. >> so you're not -- you're not
suggesting, though, that spying occurred? >> i don't -- well, i guess you could -- i think there is a spying did occur. yes, i think spying did occur. >> well, let me -- >> but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. and i'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated, but i need to explore that. >> needs to explore that. a source familiar with the attorney general's thinking later told us he did not mean to use spying in the pejorative sense nor see it as red meat for anyone. still, as cnn's chris cillizza point out, he could have just as easily said surveillance approved by a fisa court instead of spying, because that's what it was. surveillance approved by a fisa court. remember, it was approved by several judges and notified about it in may of 2017, top lawmaker on both sides of the
aisle, the so-called gang of eight, they didn't raise objections. that's according to assistant fbi director andrew mccabe, who we should mention president trump fired and has verbally attacked on many occasions. yet quoting mccabe on the gang of eight, no one objected, not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds nor based on the facts. nor have we seen any other evidence it was carried out in anything but a normal fashion. does he know something we or the gang of eight don't know about the origins of the investigation? it's unclear. was it to give the president cover, give him something else to point to when the redacted version of the mueller report is released? again, unclear. was it just a misstatement? did he say the word "spy" when he really meant "surveillance"? we don't know. keeping him honest, whatever his intent, mr. barr relit the fuse of conspiracy for the president and his supporters. rush limbaugh ran with it. so did fox news and any number of conspiracy theorists on the right. as for the investigation's critic in chief, he was happy to pick wrap-up the attorney
general left off. >> i think what he said was absolutely true. there was absolutely spying into my campaign. i'll go a step further. in my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying, and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again. and i think his answer was actually a very accurate one and a lot of people saw that -- a lot of people understand many, many people understand the situation and want to be open to that situation. hard to believe it could have happened, but it did. there was spying in my campaign, and his answer was a very accurate one. >> well, again, defenders of the president echoed that line today. but the president went a step or two beyond. >> it's a disgrace what happened. again, it should never happen to a president again. you're just lucky i happen to be the president, because a lot of other president would have reacted much differently than i reacted. you're very lucky i was the president during this scam. during the russian hoax, as i call it.
>> we're lucky, he says. it's unclear why he says that. does he mean we're lucky because another president might publicly trash the fbi and the jesus christ every chance he gets or fired the fbi director or publicly appear to intimidate witnesses at times on live television or openly praise former associates, including convicted felons for not being rats or characterize a lawful investigation as a coup attempt, or somebody ominously remind a rally of supporters that he has the armed forces and the police on his side as well as construction workers and bikers? are we lucky because any other president might actually do things like that or use his position as president to lobby to have people he sees as enemies prosecuted? i mean, who would do a thing like that? >> it's a very bad thing that people have done, and i just hope that law enforcement takes it up, because if they don't take it up, they're doing a great disservice to our country. >> well, keeping him honest, whether he intended to or not,
attorney general barr's choice of the word spying as validated all of that. neither the president or the attorney general offered any evidence. attorney general barr, on the other hand, having gotten the word spying out there proceeded to use his considerable verbal skills to avoid saying anything more. >> it was an investigation by director mueller into the 2016 campaign and other issues. have you any evidence that there was anything improper in those investigations? >> i have no specific evidence that i would cite right now. i do have questions about it. >> so this panel you're putting together -- >> i'm not putting together a panel. >> so you just have some interest in this. you don't have any evidence? >> have i concerns about various aspects of it. >> that was rhode island democratic senator jack reed from yesterday's hearing. we spoke about the fallout earlier today. >> senator reed, you heard president trump say today that he agrees with attorney general barr's claim that there was spiking the 2016 campaign.
the president saying it was, quote, illegal spying and unprecedented spying. i'm wondering what your reaction is to that. >> well, i think the attorney general was completely off base in characterizing an fbi counterintelligence investigation as spying. he knows enough not to use those kind of high voltage terminology. in fact, when i pressed him and asked for does he have any evidence to support this suggestion, he said no, i don't. so, again, this seems to be either coincidentally or deliberately synchronized with the president's descriptions going way back to witch hunt now to spying. and i don't think the attorney general did himself or the office of attorney general any service. >> i mean, attorney general barr is no novice to giving testimony. he's been the attorney general before. i mean, he is a well thought of attorney. so he certainly knows how to pick what words he wants to use.
he uses in president trump's vernacular, the best words. it's not an accident it seems that he used that word. >> oh, it's not an accident. it's a very highly charged word, spying. it has a negative connotation. and if you have any evidence of that, which he said he has none, well, then you might think about using it. but when you're talking about an investigation into the operations of the federal agency, that's too highly charged a word. and it didn't appear to be accidental. he's too -- again, too well educated and too well informed to be using it casually. >> i talked to david gergen and carl bernstein last night, bot of whom said they have talked publicly about kind of giving him the benefit of the doubt through his confirmation process, and once he became attorney general about how he was going to fill out the responsibilities and the duties of attorney general. i know you voted against barr's
confirmation. i'm wondering, do you see a shift even from what he said during his hearing back then to how he is handling the mueller report now? >> no, i think he has been fairly consistent. he's signaled many months ago with his unsolicited memorandum to the president about how charges against him could not be substantiated as someone who would be i think not only cooperative with the president as a cabinet member, but protective. and the attorney general has a very virtually unique role. they are not only the president's attorney, they're the people's attorney. they're the ones who are charged with, you know, protecting the constitution and the institutions created by the constitution. and so i was not surprised. i was a bit disappointed, because, again, i would hoped he would have rose to the task and been much more faithful to his
duties rather than appear to be coordinating with either implicitly or explicitly with the president. >> the president also said today of the mueller investigation, he said "you're just lucky i happen to be the president because a lot of other presidents would have reacted very differently than i've reacted." do you have any idea what he actually means by that? obviously his reaction has already shattered countless norms. >> i have no idea. director mueller conducted one of the most professional investigations that i think i've ever seen. there was no comments by director mueller there was no leaking of material. and then finally, he concluded, at least so far that we can understand from attorney general barr's letter, that there was no charge of conspiracy between the campaign and others, although it
was interesting in the barr letter, said mueller could not exonerate the president from obstruction of justice charge, he also could not establish a crime. i think the mueller investigation report to date has been a model of what you expect from a dedicated public servant like bob mueller. and by the way, a decorated war hero to boot. >> senator reed, i appreciate your time. >> thank you, anderson. >> well, we've been talking to someone who came to the job, unlike many, with a long pedigree at the justice department, including as attorney general once before, he was. so to some it was reason to give him the benefit of the doubt, as i said. others, though, saw in that same record reason for concern about his willing to put serving his boss ahead of perhaps serving the country. randi kaye tonight takes a closer look at barr then and now. >> reporter: attorney general william barr's performance this week isn't the first time he's alined himself with the president he is serving. >> thank you, mr. president. >> reporter: go back nearly 30 years to barr's first stint as
attorney general under president george h.w. bush. "new york times" columnist william safire, a conservative republican, often referred to barr then not as attorney general, but as the cover-up general, suggesting he covered up bush's role in iraq, how the bush administration allegedly helped finance saddam's weapons. barr also played a role in the iran/contra affair, convincing president bush just before christmas in 1992 to pardon six former members of the reagan administration, including former defense secretary caspar weinberger, who was set to go to trial for allegedly lying to congress. the pardons at barr's urging essentially shut down the independent counsel's investigation, leading some to call it a miscarriage of justice. in 2001, barr was asked about the pardons. his response? the iran/contra ones i certainly did not oppose any of them.
also telling in barr's history is this 19-page unsolicited memo barr wrote to the justice department in june last year before trump nominated him. in it, barr criticizes the mueller investigation, calling mueller's obstruction of justice theory fatally misconceived. >> this is what he was hired to do, which was to protect the president. but it is deeply concerning. >> reporter: back in 2017, barr also raised eyebrows, telling the "new york times" there is more basis for investigating the sale of uranium between the u.s. and russia while hillary clinton was secretary of state than the trump campaign's alleged collusion with russia. but when barr said it, the fbi had already investigated the uranium one deal and no evidence has ever been made public showing proof of a bribery scheme or wrongdoing. barr later walked back his claims. >> i have no knowledge of the uranium 1. i didn't particularly think that
was necessarily something that should be pursued aggressively. >> reporter: meanwhile, if you think william barr may be too close to the president, consider this. his son-in-law works in the white house counsel's office. the son-in-law's role is troubling, says the former director of the office of government ethics because, quote, it raises further questions about barr's independence. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> well, let's get more perspective now. joining us is investigative reporter, author and cnn political analyst carl bernstein. also with us cnn chief political analyst gloria borger and political analyst jeffrey toobin. looking at attorney general barr's past, what do you think you can tell about what happens now? >> i think we just have to look at it as perhaps being instructive. i brought it up last night, as you know, in bill safire's characterization of mr. barr as the cover-up general. at the same time, we need to see this report. and what we're witnessing now is
a kind of provocative conduct, words, behavior almost inexplicable by the attorney general of the united states. instead of waiting to show us this report and what's in it, he is feeding the president's rhetoric. he is -- we heard the president today refer to treason, that this investigation shows that that there has been treason. and those words were enabled by mr. barr's provocative comments, whether intentional or not. it's very hard to believe that somebody who has been around the track as many times as mr. barr has in the capitol of the united states doesn't recognize the provocative nature of what he has been saying and doing in the last two weeks. >> gloria, again, the use of the word "spying" i know a source familiar with barr's thinking told cnn he wasn't referring to spying in the classic sense, not as a pejorative. barr is a smart man. >> right.
>> who use his words very carefully and lawyerly. he knows exactly what that term connotes. >> sure. the term has really dark overtones. we're not talking about foreign espionage here. we're talking about the fbi trying to do a counterintelligence operation, and sometimes they have to use electronic surveillance. and, anderson, i want to point out something to you. that trey gowdy, who has now left the congress, but he is a conservative house republican, he got a briefing in may of 2018 about what the fbi was up to, and he came out of the briefing and said this, "i am even more convinced that the fbi did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and it has nothing to do with donald trump." so this is a conservative republican after he was briefed. we also know the inspector general is doing a report on this. so how about waiting for that to
come forth rather than talking about spying at this public hearing. >> jeff, the president is now saying illegal spying. if all of this, again, is in reference to the fisa warrants on carter page, the warrants were renewed three times and done so by republican-appointed judges, and congress members, the gang of eight was briefed. >> we're focussing a lot, appropriately, on his repeated use of the term "spying." but to me what was even more disturbing about his testimony yesterday was his promise to do his own investigation of the mueller investigation. you know, which is not something that attorneys general generally do. there is an inspector general whose supposed to do investigations, although there is no evidence of any sort of impropriety when it comes to mueller. and i think he is a case study in the evolution of the republican party, which in the '80s and '90s certainly believed in a strong presidency, and
that's what led to the pardons. but now, you know, we're into the fox news, rush limbaugh, breitbart conspiracy theorists, uranium 1 which he was talking about, that we backed away from that. now he is talking about spying. he is a good example of how the republican party has moved dramatically and in some cases irrationally to the right. >> again, the idea that barr is going to investigate the origins of the russia investigation, as jeff said, there is an inspector general already looking into some of that. >> not only, that it's not the time for it. this is the time for the american people and the congress of the united states to receive mr. mueller's report and to learn everything that mr. mueller found out. it might be able to exonerate the president. so be it. we need to know what's in there, not anything from the attorney general of the united states
that gratuitously feeds the deep state conspiratorial notions of a president of the united states whose running around calling his enemies treasonous. this is unprecedented, actually. we have not seen this kind of conduct, again, whether intentional or not. the affect of it is to enable the president to continue to invoke these terrible conspiracies that there is no evidence that they exist, and yet they have become a major factor in our politics, and we are now in a cold civil war in this country. it doesn't begin with trump, but he's brought it to the point of ignition. and one of the ways he's brought this cold civil war to the point of ignition is through this kind of rhetoric that is not backed up by fact and which the attorney general himself is now enabling. >> gloria, the attorney general -- i should say the
deputy attorney general rod rosenstein spoke to "the wall street journal" today. he defended barr and said look, he is being as forthcoming as he can. so this notion that he is trying to mislead people i think is completely bizarre. does rosenstein have any motivation at this late point in his tenure to be anything but honest or forthright? >> well, you know, barr is his boss, and he was talking about the way barr has gone about releasing the letter, which by the way he did with rod rosenstein at his side, and, you know, the way he is handling the whole release of the mueller report. what rosenstein did not comment on was the spying comment. >> that's right. >> and don't forget that rosenstein was the person who approved the fisa application to spy, spy if you want to use that word, to surveil carter page that went to the fisa court. so i'm wondering if rosenstein himself feels a little miffed by
this kind of characterization and certainly by the president, which implies that something illegal might have been happening here and whether he's happy or not happy, that barr played into that whole scenario. >> jeff, i mean, if he is miffed, it's odd that he gives an interview, it's the first interview rosenstein has given since one day after the spying comment. >> i can't speak to what his motivation was for giving the interview, but he has been a company guy for these two-plus years. he did have the courage to appoint robert mueller, and i think that is something history will look very kindly on him for, but except for that, he defended jeff sessions, his former boss. he is defending barr now. and, you know, he is on the team. and the interview today was consistent with that. >> jeff toobin, carl bernstein, gloria borger, thank you. coming up next, the question
to carl's question a moment ago and presidential rhetoric, what happens when the president accuses a political opposition not of obstruction but treason? we're exactly to find out because that's exactly what the president has done. two views on how serious to take it when we come back. later, jeff toobin returns to talk about the charges against julian assange, the ones he now faces, the penalties it carries and why the ecuadoran embassy in london has decided to evict. that and more when we return. e strange creatures. other species avoid pain and struggle. we actually... seek it out. other species do difficult things because they have to. we do difficult things. because we like to. we think it's... fun. introducing the all-new 2019 ford ranger
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attempted coup against him. that's not normal language for a leader to use. last night he called them traitors, and i'm quoting now from his tweet, i think what the democrats are doing with the border is treasonous. their open border mind-set is putting our country at risk. will not let this happen. now before we go any further, we should just pause to once again say this is not normal. normal is referring to members of the opposition party, no matter how much they like them or hate them. he is my good friend across the aisle or at worst the obstructionist democrats or republicans as the case may be. it's not normal for any president of any party at any time to accuse the members of the opposition party of treason. three crimes are mentioned in the constitution, counterfeiting, piracy and treason. treason is the only one explicitly defined because of how serious it. it says treason against the united states shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving them eighth aid and
comfort. no person will be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses or confession in open court. it's not a term to be thrown around lightly or even in anger, especially when the accuser happens to hold the highest office in the land. i want to talk about it now with steve cortes and max boot, author of "the corrosion of conservatism: why i left the right." steve, if president obama had called republicans treasonous, wouldn't people -- wouldn't republicans understandably be very upset? >> yes. and listen, anderson, i totally agree. you know how much i strenuously support the agenda of this president, but i'm no sycophant, and i don't like this rhetoric at all. it's over the top and uncalled for. he shouldn't be using a word like treasonous. i would remind the president that for the last two years he and supporters like me, we have all been aghast that the left continually accused him of treason, of being an agent that was beholden to a foreign power. that was a loudicrous and unfai
smear. let's not mirror the tactics. let's not use the same kind of hyperbole in attacking the left. i totally conquer with the president on his policies on the border and totally conquer that the democrats do favor open borders, but let's leave treason as a term out of it. we don't need to reach always for the most extreme language possible to describe our political opponents. >> max, there is not a lot of democrats i've heard saying i want an open border and people streaming across. >> they don't say that, anderson. that's not fair because they know how unpopular it is. but that doesn't mean they don't want open borders. beto o'rourke wants to tear down san francisco existing border walls. >> come on. >> in your city and state in new york, the mayor of new york wants to eliminate i.c.e. the governor of new york called i.c.e. -- >> steve. >> come on. >> they just don't want to use the term. >> let's be honest here. nobody in the united states is in favor of open borders. what democrats are opposed to -- >> i disagree. >> oh, okay, come on. democrats are opposed to
separating families, locking kids in cages. nobody is saying remove the border patrol and that anybody who wants to come to the united states, come. >> in really? i just named three democratic politicians who are in favor of that. i just named three. >> has any of them called for the elimination of the border? >> no. nobody is calling for the elimination of the border. we're focusing immediately on where we disagree. let me focus on where we agree. i'm very, very happy to hear you say what you just said, that there is no room in the national debate for accusing your opponents of treason. i think that is especially cross sie ive when it's coming from the president of the united states who needs to see his job as uniting us rather than dividing us. >> agreed. >> it's very important what you just said. we can disagree about president trump's policies, and i suspect we disagree about a whole lot of his policies, including hi border policies, but thing is really incumbent upon us living in a liberal democracy to assume that our opponents are making arguments of good faith and they are just as motived by the welfare of the country as we are. so i'm very happy we can agree
on that. >> right. >> you know, does not just tow the party line all the time. sorry i interrupted you. go ahead, steve. >> i would ask you then, max, i hope you would join me in saying that for example the left often accuses people who are in favor of strong border policies or in favor of perhaps less legal immigration, automatically accuses them of racism. i think that is equally wrong, for the left to reach immediately for that kind of extreme language. i don't like the president saying treason, and i don't like the left saying that if you don't like immigration as is, you're racist. >> i think the reality is, steve, that the president does appeal to racism, that his language is over the top. >> no. >> it does appeal to xenophobia and nativism. i think there is no question that he does that. >> oh, stop. >> i think you're correct that it's going over the line to say that somebody is actually guilty of treason. a few people have said that trump is guilty of treason. i think that's going over the line. >> unfortunately, max, you're joining the left in their smear.
>> i'm not joining the left. i'm just calling it as i see it. i'm just calling it as i see it. >> no. >> because the president stigmatizes immigrants with all his focus on immigration crime, even though we know the crime rate for immigrants is actually lower. he calls them animals, steve. come on. he calls them animals. >> no. listen, that's fake news. he calls ms-13 monsters, animals. and the only problem he should not be calling them animals, it's unfair to an mams to call ms-13 people. >> steve, just in general -- >> it is dehumanizing because their behavior is dehumanizing. what they do primarily to hispanic americans in this country? if you look at the victims of ms-13, they're overwhelmingly hispanic-american citizens. >> the crime rate among immigrants is lower than the native born, steve. come on. the crime rate among immigrants is lower than the native born. >> the crime rate among illegal aliens should be 0.0 because
they shouldn't be here in the first place. that's apples and oranges. >> trump could not run his resorts, steve, without undocumented immigrants. he's relied on them for years. >>that is true, isn't it, steve? trump tower was built with polish workers who weren't wearing hard hats, and they were, you know, known to be not here legally. he has lots of people working in his resorts who according to "the new york times" and other investigations have been revealed and now they're quietly being fired. that's a little hypocritical, isn't it? >> i don't know the details on what you talked about with polish laborers. i don't know about that. i do know about "the new york times" report, and listen, that was an absolute problem for the trump administration. clearly, yes, i agree. and the trump organization has to be cleaner than clean when it comes to employing americans and america first. and i will say that our country in general, big business in general has absolutely benefitted tremendously.
>> but the guy who knows everything that is going on in his company allegedly, because we've heard that time and time again, is employing people who are undocumented and it's a systematic thing that's been going on for years and years and years, and yet is arguing america first and arguing -- that's just hypocrisy. >> look, the trump organization, again, yes, has to be cleaner than clean. >> the trump organization is donald trump. and his kids. that said. not a lot of people. >> he has run a much bigger organization which is the united states government. also too, i do object to the term undocumented. it makes it sound as though paperwork is not in order. that's not the case. if you break and enter into this country. >> i object to the term illegal aliens, because a lot of the people we're talking about are refugees who are seeking legal asylum in the united states that is actually the surge on our southern border is not people who are sneaking across. it's people who are presenting themselves at ports of entry and
asking for asylum. >> or undocumented workers. you could just call them trump employees. steve cortes, max boot as well. we've got to go. still ahead, wikileaks founder julian assange dragged out of the embassy where he has been hiding out for seven years after the arrest president trump claims he knows nothing about the wikileaks which is odd, because remember during the campaign, him saying how much he loved wikileaks? it turns out according to politico, he mentioned wikileaks more than 100 times during the 2016 campaign. we're keeping him honest, next. biopharmaceutical researchers.
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heard about before. the washington has it. it's just been posted. quoting from the lead, white house officials have tried to pressure u.s. immigration authorities to release detainees on to the streets of sanctuary cities to retaliate against president trump's political adversaries, according to department of homeland security officials in email messages reviewed by "the washington post," end quote. rachel bade shares the biliy-li on this. i haven't had time to read the quote. can you walk us through your reporting from the white house to homeland security? >> happy to do it, anderson. it's a crazy story. basically, we found out that stephen miller, who is one of the top white house hard-liners on the immigration, very close to the president, they leaned on i.c.e. to consider this proposal where they would be moving undocumented immigrants they had captured at the border to sanctuary cities or the districts of adversaries like
democrats. and the one that was mentioned in particular was nancy pelosi, who is the speaker of the house. this came twice. it came right after the election at a time when the caravan, remember the caravan that the president always talked about before the 2018 election, they had just reached the border. so the talk started percolating around that time. and, you know, i.c.e. was really alarmed by this. they seemed to ignore it at first. and then sort of put it on the back burner. but it came up again right after the president decided to reopen the government following the 35-day shutdown in january. the president basically gave lawmakers three weeks to come up with this deal to fund the border. and one of the key issues they were debating was detention beds. democrats wanted fewer detention beds for i.c.e. this was pushed again on i.c.e. in february right in the midst of the talks where the democrats
were saying they didn't want to give the detention beds numbers to the republicans and the trump administration. so ultimately, according to our reporting and the folks we spoke with, including two whistle-blowers who actually came to congress with their concerns, this never went anywhere because ultimately democrats relented on the detention bed issue. obviously, they cdidn't give th president the wall funding he wanted, but on detention beds they relented. and also several legal advisers in i.c.e. found there was no legal justification for doing this. so they ultimately pushed back on the white house and said no. >> so i just want to back up on something you said. they mentioned in particular nancy pelosi. so they were actually suggesting putting people who had just been arrested from the southern border and driving them to san francisco or to nancy pelosi's district to drop them off? >> that's exactly right, bussing
them. there were a few sort of ideas that we heard from folks familiar with these plans. one of them was to take people right from the border who were trying to cross and move them to sanctuary cities, including san francisco where pelosi obviously serves the district as speaker. the other idea was to move people already in detention in i.c.e. to these districts. so there are two different plans considered. both of them shot down. i.c.e. officials not only had legal concerns with this, but i.c.e. from a policy standpoint, they have always argued that we can't move migrants from one area to another because we're not appropriated to do that. we don't have the money to do that. congress never gave us the authority. we can only take people out of the country. and so oftentimes they use that excuse when it came to trying to move immigrants from one shelter to another, but this went in direct contradiction to that, and as a policy. so both legally and from a
policy standpoint, they said this doesn't make any sense. obviously they were very concerned about the optics of this too. in fact, one dhs official said this would be pr catastrophe to look like you were going after your political foes, releasing undocumented immigrants to try to punish people. and remember, the president has harped on sanctuary cities before. he said that they -- they're dangerous areas, and, you know, like a wild west. well, it looks like they were trying to perpetuate that by releasing people that in their mind thought would create some sort of havoc on their democratic opponents. >> it's almost as if you're not actually thinking about these are actually human beings you are actually moving and then i guess dumping some place far away after a very long bus trip. just to be clear, your reporting is this was seen as retaliation, that this essentially to cause
problems for the president's political enemies? >> that's exactly right, 100%. you know, one person who i spoke with in dhs said that this would be sort of like teaching democrats a lesson, teaching people who, you know, oversee sanctuary cities or democrats who wanted to curb funding for law enforcement at the border or that this would basically be them saying this is what it's like to not have enforcement and to have all this stuff happening on your streets. >> and have you actually seen emails to this effect? or is this -- >> we have. >> you have? you've actually seen the emails? >> we have. we've seen emails from the white house to i.c.e. officials asking them about this and what their options could be. and, you know, the first one we saw was from november. like i said, right after the election, leading up to the election the president talked a lot about the caravan and a lot of republicans were concerned about his rhetoric on this, thinking that they would lose
their majority because he went too far on taking this horrifying immigration policy. well, it seems like that lesson never sank in, because this was considered right around that time, right around the time that the migrants were the caravan, as he calls them, were getting to the border. so, yeah, it's considered. >> can you say -- have you published those emails? or if not can you say who they were from in the white house and who they were sent to? >> yeah. we are sort of reporting this out. as soon as i have more information, he will definitely put that out there. but to be clear, we did have people point fingers at stephen miller, who i do know is one of the most hardline immigration policy folks in the white house, very close with the president. the president has basically said he wants stephen military be in charge of immigration right now, and especially right now at a time when we're seeing a lot of these top officials in homeland security department being ousted, or pushed out because
the president doesn't think they take a hard enough line. we have heard from whistle-blowers and people inside dhs that he was a big driver of this. now he's not on one of the initial emails that we first received from november. however, from the folks we had talked to, it was very clear where this policy was coming. from. >> if you just think about this for a moment, the idea that they would take people from the border, which is one of the options, put them on a bus, i don't know how long the drive would be from the border to nancy pelosi's district in san francisco, but i mean, if somebody died along the way, in one of those buses or got sick and then died, the administration would be responsible for that, all for a political purpose. just the actual logistics of it
could lead to many kinds of unintended consequences. >> and that was actually something that one of the i.c.e. officials brought back when they wrote back, and that was a concern about what happens in an emergency situation like this. you know, we're seeing right now congress has a lot of questions about what happened to those children that died in custody. and of course if something were to happen to these migrants as they're moving from place to place, congress would be all over that. of course congress is going to be all over this regardless. even though it didn't happen. i reached out to pelosi's office to get a statement on this, and her spokesperson said this was another example of sort of hardline policies that democrats have long found disgusting and, you know, i think democrats are going to be investigating this. i wouldn't be surprised if we see a bunch of them weigh in over the next 24 hours, but this notion of using migrants and trying to release them to create chaos on a political adversary,
it's just -- it's absolutely wild, unlike anything i've seen before. >> rachael bade, extraordinary reporting. it's on "the washington post" sight right now. you're also a cnn political analyst we should point out. steve cortes is back with us, along with max boot and jeff toobin. jeff toobin, what do you make of this idea? >> well, my first reaction was huh? i mean really? the idea of using these human beings as a kind of pestilence to spread around the country? it is so grotesque. you took the words right out of my mouth when you said these are human beings. and to treat them like a form of plague that you want to impose on your enemies is really grotesque. now i guess the good news we can say is that it hasn't happened, or at least it hasn't happened yet. but i think it's indicative of
the attitude towards illegal immigrants or undocumented -- undocumented people, whatever term you want to use as something less than human. and all i can say is i'm glad it didn't come to fruition. >> steve cortes? i know this is the first you're hearing of it as well. >> right. look, i think you can probably understand that i'm obviously not going accept "the washington post's" word for it. i want to see these emails. i want to see evidence of the story they're talking about. i don't want to speculate. >> assuming the whistle-blowers are telling the truth, you don't want to assume anything? >> i don't go down that road. right. i would say this too by the way. i don't believe we should be releasing anyone who crosses the border illegally, much less targeting where they're released. if you cross the border illegally you should be detained in the first place. >> but targeting specific districts for political enemies. >> right. >> with illegal immigrants or undocumented worker, that is not something you would support? >> of course not. >> right. >> of course not. >> max boot?
you and i, when i first mentioned this to you while we were in a break, you said you thought this sounded almost like an article from the onion. >> right. >> so absurd that it couldn't be real. >> no, exactly. it's hard to believe that somebody would take this as a serious proposal. a lot of stuff that happens in the trump administration, you don't know whether to laugh or the cry. it is so ridiculous. and i think it indicates basically two things, anderson. one is, a, the crazy level of partisanship in this white house and the fact that the president is calling his enemies treasonous is an indication of the same thing, that they will stop at nothing to hurt their political enemies. but two, i think what it also indicates, anderson, is their intellectual bankruptcy on the issue of immigration and how frantic and panicked they are because there is a record number of undocumented arrivals in march, 92,000, the highest level in 12 years. they're freaking out in the white house. they don't know what to do about it. this is why trump is lashing out. he is purging the department of
homeland security. but they don't actually have a workable policy solution, and that's why they're talking, again, about reviving this horrible idea of separating children, or this crazy idea. >> we've got to get a break in. max boot, thank you. jeff toobin, steve cortes as well. more on this with dana bash on the border with pence. what he has to say about applying the label of treasonous to democrats who oppose him on immigration policy. introducing miracle-gro's next big thing: performance organics. this new organic collection of soil and plant food is what you've always wanted. no compromise. twice the results. guaranteed. miracle-gro performance organics. each day justin at work... walk. and after work. he does it all with dr. scholl's. only dr. scholl's has massaging gel insoles that provide all-day comfort. to keep him feeling more energized. dr. scholl's. born to move.
the washington post reporting on a plan the white house was considering. a payback plan to transport undocumented immigrants picked up on the border to sanctuary cities and dump them there. house speaker nancy pelosi's district was among those they were thinking about targeting. the white house told i.c.e. the plan was to alleviate a shortage
of jail space but to send a message to democrats. dana bash went with vice president pence as he toured the border. she asked him about president trump's use of the word treasonous when it comes to his political opponent. did he agree with that? >> he side stepped that but i have to tell you, just like you see so many times when you go around the world getting a firsthand look at things, this is a classic example of what we were hearing from washington, bizarre ideas how to fix problems and here in arizona at the border where i was with the white house, we saw how real the spike is, people coming across the border, undocumented families like they haven't seen in over ten years.
to get something done the question is how do they tone down the rhetoric? and i started by asking the vice president that question. >> the president tweeted last night the following, i think what the democrats are doing with the border is treasonous, all caps. their open border mind set is putting our country at risk. you say the president has his own style of talking but to use the word treason which is supposed to be punished by death, how do you get from that rhetoric to the kind of working across the aisle that you're talking about that's needed to fix things here? >> what you hear the president expressing is the frustration of the american people. that last month alone more than 100,000 people came across our southern border. we have to end catch and release and reform our system. congress needs to sit down, democrats and congress need to sit down and take a break from everything else they're focused
on and deal with what the american people want them to deal with which is securing our border and protecting our country. >> anderson, the question is can congress do this narrow thing. we have seen the inability to get anything done because it's such a white hot partisan issue, this notion of immigration. obviously the president as i mentioned is a big contributor to that. this is a question that they're going to go back to washington. he's going to talk to members of congress about it on both sides of the aisle and see whether or not obviously the big comprehensive deal is pretty far out and at least if they can alleviate the problems they have with these families. one other thing i'll tell you, he promised just as the president illuded to this week that there will not be a return to the zero tolerance policy. families will not be separated which is why they have to come up with the legislative fix.
>> we'll see what happens. thank you very much. cnn just confirmed that report in the washington post. let's check in with chris to see what he's working on at the top of the hour. bizarre, chris. >> that is bizarre, until i think about it for a second and then it kind of makes sense. the only weird part is that they're releasing them at all. it's supposed to be zero tolerance. he's supposed to take people that broke the law and he can't fix the system, so then you get this. and the more you think about it it's pretty much in keeping with what we're seeing. look at the ag. we're going to take on what he's doing tonight, doing the president's bidding and how he is doing it. we have senator bloomumenthal h. how they can oppose what mr. no holds bar seems to be very clearly desiring to do. >> a lot going on. see you in about three minutes from now. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ i can do more to lower my a1c.
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thank you, anderson. i am chris cuomo and welcome to primetime. how will democrats oppose the attorney general now that he's made it clear he will be no holds bar when it comes to protecting this president? what is the plan to get the report? the taxes, can they check the ag's efforts to go after spying, one of the top blood hounds is here. and during the election, this president was praising wikileaks. we all know it. well now julian assange is indicted and the president has amnesia. if assange can be extradited we'll have heavy allegations that matter to the freedom of the press