Skip to main content

tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  August 9, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

8:00 pm
8:01 pm
good evening. we begin tonight by recognizing what a difficult week this has been for so many people and how tough the days ahead will be as more funerals are held in el paso and dayton, more moments for a parent or a child or a childhood friend to face the infinite sadness of feeling the word is when it comes to a loved one give way to was. my grandpa was, my child was. so many people are facing that now. so many who have lived those moments at sandy hook and parkland and orlando and pittsburgh are reliving them once again.
8:02 pm
in many respects, there's sadly nothing new here, whether it's the weapons used, the first responders, the heros, the heart ache. nothing new in call for change and the endless fruitless battle. we've never seen a president offer division instead of unity or use a visit meant to console to air grievances. and today the alleged el paso gunman made it clear admitting he was the killer and that he specifically targeted mexicans. nor have we seen, as is being reported tonight in axios, a president whose campaign official says having a president of the united states called a racist could be politically good for him. that's where we are. that's how this week is ending. it's also ending with the president making a claim that's he's made before about actions
8:03 pm
onrestrictions. >> i think we can get something done. people that are mentally ill or sick, we're don't want them having guns we'll see where the nra will be but we have to have meaningful background checks. >> we've already seen where the nra said it will be, against them. they said in a statement, the nra opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law abiding citizens. the president talked tough after the parkland shootings where connecticut senator chris murphy put the challenge to the president. >> mr. president, its going to are to be you that brngs the republicans to the table on this because right now the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks. >> i think it's time that a
8:04 pm
president stepped up. i'm talking democrat and republican presidents, they have not stepped up and they do have great power. they have great power over you people. they have less power over me. some of you people are petrified by the nra. >> he alone could take on the nra and he didn't. talk is easy. doing something that might upset the powerful nra and some of his base perhaps, that is tough. the president likes to talk about being powerful, he sure seems to shrink in size when the nra is whispering in his year. this time he's largely singing it in the key of me. >> they supported me very early and that's been a great decision they made. the nra has made a great
8:05 pm
decision in supporting me and nobody else would have won. as you know, they supported me very early, far earlier than anybody thought possible. >> so the nra loves him but this isn't about the nra, he claims. >> this isn't a question of nra, republican or democrat. i will tell you i spoke to mitch mcconnell yesterday. he said i've been waiting for your call. he's totally on board. >> keeping help honest, he's not on board. he said he'll take up the issue and only after the summer recess perhaps because that's when acre over the ki -- anger over the killings may have calmed down. the president left for vacation to the hamptons and then tole h golf club in new jersey. he couldn't stop himself with an
8:06 pm
ode to himself. >> chuck schumer in particular loves my china policy, as you probably know. i said i can't believe it, you actually like something that i'm doing. he said not like, love. >> so much love from schumer and the people at dayton and el paso to rock star kind of love according to some in the administration, respect the office, love. flush with all that love, the president went on to say he's winning and winning big with china and the nice young letter kim jong un sent him. basically getting any legislation through divided congress is hard enough. it takes persistence and focus, clear determination to keep at it. today the president couldn't make it through a sentence without verbally wandering off to flatter himself which as the week has gone is pretty march par for the course. for perspective, maggie haberman. the president is saying
8:07 pm
meaningful background checks. not sure what that means but it very reminiscent of the language he used in the wake of parkland. >> it is. at that time his aides said he was there for background checks and then the nra intervened. he got cold feet with the nra. he's been discussing it with them since saturday. to your point, we have been there before. not only have we been there before on background checks, we've been there before on legislation where the president has insisted there is an appetite for a deal on egra immigration and there isn't. so far the signs that would require that, mitch mcconnell bringing the senate back, having immediacy of action of what just happened in texas and ohio, that hasn't happened.
8:08 pm
will there still be an appetite in a few weeks? we'll see. >> you could make the argument that mitch mcconnell is just trying to slow walk this. >> mitch mcconnell and the president spoke several times this week i'm told by a couple of people and they talked on this topic. basically mcconnell's viewpoint was he's going to do what his caucus wants but the president is going to have to be the one who gets the votes. i understand he's had conversations with folks like lindsey graham and pat toomey but so far there is not a sense he's doing the kind of arm twisting that we saw on the tax bill in 2017. until we see that, i don't think this is going to happen. >> i guess i shouldn't be surprised but it's just it's normal when a powerful human being who is the president of the united states says something that you're sort of supposed to believe what they say and this it has meaning and that they might follow through. when the president, you know, mocked the other congress
8:09 pm
members for being scared of the nra and said he's not and that he'll take it on and they want to do what's right and then does nothing and then yet again now is saying it's not about the nra, i don't know why -- i mean, it like we are rationally sitting here saying, well, maybe this time will be different. we don't know. >> we don't know. here's the reason why the president has said to aides that this will be different in terms of the nra. the nra is in a substantially weakened position. it has an enormous amount of internal turmoil. the president has privately said he thinks the nra is going to go bankrupt and they're not going to able to come at him in terms of financial support. they were a huge outside funder of his election in 2017. so he thinks he's got the upper hand and he tends to look at things that way but what other advisers have said to him is that he's sort of misreading this, though i don't think they necessarily put it that way.
8:10 pm
they said the nra is going to remain pretty powerful through your election and their members, many of them are your voters. so they're still going to have a voice. the nra hasn't really come out pushing back aggressively yet. i'm told that is coming. if that comes, we'll see what the president says. >> there was reporting about a phone call from wayne lapierre from the nra. >> the president called wayne lapierre on tuesday. he said it time to get this done, there's going to be a signing in the rose garden and lapierre was pretty clear that that is not something the nra is going to support. we have no idea what the details are. there's no intelligence. the statement is not meaningful because we don't know what he's talking about. we s the president also said he had spoken with lapierre several times this week. as i understand it, they had
8:11 pm
only spoken on tuesday. there are a lot of things being said that don't check out. we'll see where we are in a few weeks. unless there is a push to build support for this by the president and maybe there will be, but unless there is, this is unlikely to move forward. >> i'm smiling because that phrase you used, that could be a chyron on most days. >> which one? >> the statement is meaningless. >> look, i think that most of the president's crises that he has dealt with in his administration in his time of president have been of his own making. this was not one. you know, i understand that pointing to the rhetoric in the manifesto that the alleged shooter in texas used that people have connected the things that the president has said. but in terms of just being at the president's own hand, this was not something he did. this is something he's had to deal with and this was over the weekend when this was all developing, 31 people dead in
8:12 pm
two different cities, this was a huge crisis and a lot of his advisers will privately admit this was a commander in chief moment that he did not need in realtime. >> in fact, to your point, he ultimately made it a fumble of his own making. i'm wondering what you're hearing about what are people in the white house actually saying about, you know, the rock star tweet and the president talking about beto o'rourke and his crowd sizes and -- >> he has -- the president, most of his aides will say the same thing they have said after every single one of these moments, it's not like we're not used to hearing the president talk about himself and his rally crowds, he does this in almost every setting he's in. it's glaring when this is supposed to be about the vick tips and the people suffering during these attacks.
8:13 pm
his aides had hoped to get him in and out with sort of minimal contact with the people he was seeing but minimal opportunities to go off script. the press was not invited in to the hospital at dayton. to be clear, press is often not brought into those kinds of settings. >> as they should not be. but there was reporting that the president was annoyed -- >> he was annoyed. he wanted them brought in. his staff had been working with the hospital and they had understandably not done that and he either didn't know that or didn't understand it or there's a gap between what he thinks the media is supposed to be doing, which is from his experience in reality television and business and real estate and what being president is and the responsibilities about that relate to and he just doesn't understand it. >> i actually was giving him credit when there weren't cameras because i thought, oh, this is actually -- this is how it should be. he should be private lily meeti with family and first
8:14 pm
responders. >> he has a thing about believing he should get positive press for things -- for moments like the april dreddress that hn monday where here denounced white supremacy -- >> and all supremacy. >> and after charlottesville when he eventually get that speech. when he doesn't get the coverage he thinks he deserves, he lashes out. this is following that cycle. the volume of it was a surprise and the degree to which he was ordering aides to push out positive images of himself and what he was doing was jarring. >> thank you. appreciate it. some of what we've been talking about the president's behavior are having effects behind the west wings. ahead, a foreign officer said he led fed up and being part of the complacent state that enables
8:15 pm
the president. coming up next, the photo out of el paso that is also stirring controversy, the president and the infant who is now an orphan. that little boy, whose name is paul, his parents were killed at the walmart. the question of whether it's an appropriate photo, the president giving a thumbs up, we'll ask the father of the wounded survivor ahead. ♪ that a speaker is just a speaker. ♪ or - that the journey can't be the destination. most people haven't driven a lincoln. discover the lincoln approach to craftsmanship at the lincoln summer invitation. right now, get 0% apr on all 2019 lincoln vehicles plus no payments for up to 90 days. only at your lincoln dealer. woman 1: i had no symptoms of hepatitis c. plus no payments for uman 1: mine... man 1: ...caused liver damage. vo: epclusa treats all main types of chronic hep c. vo: whatever your type, ask your doctor if epclusa is your kind of cure.
8:16 pm
woman 2: i had the common type. man 2: mine was rare. vo: epclusa has a 98% overall cure rate. man 3: i just found out about my hepatitis c. woman 3: i knew for years. vo: epclusa is only one pill, once a day, taken with or without food for 12 weeks. vo: before starting epclusa, your doctor will test if you have had hepatitis b, which may flare up, and could cause serious liver problems during and after treatment. vo: tell your doctor if you have had hepatitis b, other liver or kidney problems, hiv, or other medical conditions... vo: ...and all medicines you take, including herbal supplements. vo: taking amiodarone with epclusa may cause a serious slowing of your heart rate. vo: common side effects include headache and tiredness. vo: ask your doctor today, if epclusa is your kind of cure.
8:17 pm
thanks to priceline working with top airlines to turn their unsold seats into amazing deals, family reunion attendance is up. we're all related! yeah, i see it. and because priceline offers great deals by comparing thousands of prices in real time, sports fans are seeing more away games. various: yeah-h-h! is that safe? oh, y... ahh! not at all. no, ma'am. nope. and more people than ever are enjoying romantic getaways. (romantic music) that's gross priceline. every trip is a big deal. jimmy's gotten used to his whole yup, he's gone noseblind. odors. he thinks it smells fine, but his mom smells this... luckily for all your hard-to-wash fabrics...
8:18 pm
...there's febreze fabric refresher. febreze doesn't just mask, it eliminates odors you've... ...gone noseblind to. and try febreze unstopables for fabric. with up to twice the fresh scent power, you'll want to try it... ...again and again and maybe just one more time. indulge in irresistible freshness. febreze unstopables. breathe happy. at t-mobile, for $40/line for four lines, it's all included for the whole family, starting with unlimited data. use as much as you want, when you want. and if you like netflix, it's included on us.
8:19 pm
plus no surprises on your bill. taxes and fees are included. and now for a limited time, with each new line, get one of our latest smartphones included. that's right, only $40/line for four lines and smartphones are included for the whole family. as we reported, the el paso shooter has admitted that, quote, i am the shooter. that's according to his arrest affidavit released today. it reads "the defendant stated his targets were mexicans." two victims died protecting their 2-month-old son. tonight a photo of the boy has set off controversy over what is appropriate and welcomedbehavio is not. the photo shows the first lady holding the baby.
8:20 pm
president trump is smiling giving a thumbs up gesture, something he does routinely. the little boy's familiar ly wed the president and are pleased with the photo. others are not saying it shows a lack of empathy. an uncle told "the washington post" he is a trump supporter. many of the wounded survivors the two el paso hospitals said they did not want to meet the president. one is michelle grady, daughter of pastor michael grady. pastor grady, it's good to be see you again. first of all, how is michelle doing? >> michelle is doing well today. she had surgery earlier today. she came through with flying colors and so the doctor did a marvelous job with her hand and her finger, she's not going to lose her fingers so we're grateful for that. the surgery went well. she's resting now and getting ready for the next surgery down the road. >> when you and i talked earlier
8:21 pm
in the week, i think she had a tube removed, which is a painful thing and that hurts. is she able to talk more -- i don't mean necessarily about what happened but talk to you and your wife? >> yes, she's been communicating well. we've been with her all day and last evening when she returned from the surgery yesterday, once she came out of the anesthesia, she was talking and laughing and feeling much better. >> that's great. >> we're grateful for that. the doctors have done a marvelous job alleviating the pain caused by the assailant's bullet and we're praying and thanks god with the miracle. when she first came in, looked like she was going to lose that finger. now i believe she's going to have that finger and make a full recovery, anderson. thank you very much. >> your story is extraordinary. she was shot outside the walmart as the gunman walked in and she was able to call your wife on
8:22 pm
the phone, correct me if i'm wrong, or facetime but i think it was calling, and your wife got in the car, drove to the walmart got there in like six minutes and got to your daughter and then you drove there, too, you get there and ultimately there were so many people in need, you got your daughter into a cart with the help of someone else from walmart, wheeled her up to where the ambulances were and you all had to -- you had to use your preacher voice and get attention to -- i'm being polite there and get her into an ambulance. were it not for that, for the bravery of you and your wife and just the quick thinking, who knows what would have happened. >> yes. that's correct. michelle had the presence of mind after she had been shot to call her mom and to stay on the phone with her mom until my wife
8:23 pm
arrived. then my wife had called me on her way here and she was able to get a walmart employee to assist her in getting michelle on the cart and pushing her all the way down here to the standing area where the ambulances were. we're grateful for that. my wife did a marvelous job of convincing folks that it was not only necessary but necessary to get her the proper help. >> i would like to get your wife peace number because if i'm ever in trouble in any capacity, she's the person i want to call first. >> i'll make sure i get it to you. i want to ask you about your decision not to meet with the president. i'm wondering was it a decision that you and your daughter struggled over? what was your thinking on it? >> well, that was not really any struggle. when we found out the commander in chief was coming to el paso and might visit university medical center, we made the decision as a family, we asked
8:24 pm
michelle about whether she wanted to see the president and she said no. we made a decision that we did not want to see him as well because i'd already spoken out of my passion the night before. so it was a conscious decision that we would put a sign on our door "please do not disturb." i'm grateful we made that decision. i don't think it would have done any good. it would not have been healthy for michelle, therefore it's not healthy for us. i think it was a great decision to make. >> the photo that we showed earlier that's been -- people have a deferenifference of opin about it, the president and the first lady with the 2-month-old baby and the president with the thumbs up, what did you think? >> i thought about what i said a um could couple of nights ago that words matter and symbols matter. usually when you have a thumbs
8:25 pm
up, it means you're applauding or agree to something. i didn't see anything to applaud or agree. those children are orphans, lost both their parents. it shows the commander in chief is more concerned about himself than the people of this nation in ptrying to really and restor us to a place of honor and dignity and to be a blessing to that family. it turned out to be another photo-op, not about the real seriousness and the gravity of the situation. >> the president is saying he wants meaningful background checks. it's similar to what he said after parkland and, you know, then the nra seemed to have changed his mind. i'm wondering if you think there's going to be change and what your message is. you had a very strong message to the president earlier in the week. i'm wondering what your message is to him tonight in terms of what you have seen over the course of this week and how you're feeling and what you think needs to be done.
8:26 pm
>> i've again -- i speak with clarity that i believe that the president of the united states when he makes promises, i come from a faith works basemen at that time and the bible says faith without works is dead. he can speak a thing but until it manifests itself, it has no real power. the power cannot only be to legislate but to model a real genuine concern for the safety of cities and the safety of those members of the united states from a broad perspective. and so i'm not too convinced that things are going to change because we've heard rhetoric before. but again, i'm from the show me state, i'm from st. louis, missouri. i'm waiting to see more than hear this response, whether it's going to manifest any tangible change in the nation in how we deal with violence, how we deal with the weapons of mass destruction on our streets and
8:27 pm
in our communities. i'm waiting to see if it's going to be real. at this point i'm not convinced. >> pastor grady, i appreciate your time tonight. i'm really glad to hear that michelle is on the right road to recovery and my best to your family and to your wife. thank you. >> thank you, anderson. thank you very much. own little world. especially these days. (dad) i think it's here. (mom vo) especially at this age. (big sister) where are we going? (mom vo) it's a big, beautiful world out there. (little sister) woah... (big sister) wow. see that? (mom vo) sometimes you just need a little help seeing it. (avo) the three-row subaru ascent. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. get zero percent during the subaru a lot to love event.
8:28 pm
8:29 pm
and with new features and richer stories,d you're from. it can lead you on an unexpected journey... ...that brings you closer to home... it's only $59 to discover your heritage... so instead of telling stories of where you went... can tell the story of where you come from. get your dna kit (now) for just $59 at
8:30 pm
8:31 pm
in a scathing op-ed in "the washington post," a service officer explains why he's resigned in protest of president trump. he spent ten years serving in various countries for the united states. he wrote in part "i came into the government inspired by a president who convinced me there was still son truth to the
8:32 pm
gospel of american exceptionalism. i felt a duty to a society that allowed me and my siblings to thrive. over three tours, aboard, i found myself in a defensive stance, struggling to explain to foreign people the blatant contradictions at home." chuck joins me tonight for his first tv interview about his resignation. explain to me why you decided to resign. >> let me start off by saying this is absolutely a personal decision for me, it was really difficult for me. i don't mean to project my own
8:33 pm
limits on the entirety of the federal bureaucracy. there are thousands and thousands of federal employees who d nid not make the same decision i did. they are absoluely working to prevent this freight train from going off the rails so respect for them. but, this is one of the core messages of my op-ed. if you're a concerned american and you're hoping that some unelected official somewhere or a cabal, a civil servant somewhere will resist this president and fight his policies from within the government, then you will be disappointed. >> you never saw any resistance or deep state? >> i certainly saw people's personal reservations. i never saw a deep state. that's right. what i did see was people kind of really weighing this thing. if i can use an analogy, working as a diplomat overseas, foreign
8:34 pm
services officer, feels kind of like watching your home from a distance. even under the prior administration and i mentioned this in my op-ed, i absolutely could see visible cracks in the walls, maybe even the foundation of our nation or our government at least. the past three years have felt like the house is on fire. not only is it on fire but there's a man purposefully lighting for fires. so when i see -- when i talk to my colleague, it's not that they don't feel the same distress that i do, they absolutely do. it's not like they're not as concerned as i am about that house on fire. it's not that they don't have compassion for the people in that house who are being hurt, it's that they decide to keep their distance and hope that the house is still standing afterward.
8:35 pm
and for me, that is the definition of complacency. >> you in fact say there's no deep state, there is a complacent state. explain -- because look, foreign service officers are working for the american people, they're working representing america overseas. they're not representing any particular administration. there's an ambassador who is appointed, usually sometimes it's a career foreign service person, sometimes it's some donor who knows nothing but has given a lot of money, and yet plenty of people serve overseas in administrations they don't like, they don't agree with the policies but they faithfully execute the policies as is their job. >> that's absolutely true. >> is that complacency or is that service? >> so let me come back to that particular question, but what i'll say is i thought about this for a long time, at least two and a half years, if not more than that. i rationalized myself using the
8:36 pm
same words that you used, i swore an oath to the people, i don't swear an oath to a technical president or particular party. and that's true but that's really abstract. so when you read the commission of a foreign service officer of a diplomat like me, you'll see it's written there explicitly we serve during the pleasure of the president. and so what that means is the way we serve the constitution, the way we serve the american people is by working for the president that they elected. and right now that president is donald j. trump. >> so did you -- were there specific events in the united states or specific policies that you just felt you could not longer essentially be the face of in a foreign land? >> you know, there's no single kind of straw that broke the camel's back.
8:37 pm
there was a slow buildup and maybe i'll call it moral distress kind of with each successive kind of tweet or action. it started with the muslim ban, the executive order on january 2017 and then defending white nationalists after charlottesville, family separation, squalid detention centers, just yesterday federal agents kicking down doors and arresting parents on their children's first day of school. what's different about this administration for me and i only worked under two, but at least in my lifetime i've seen a number of presidents. what's different is kind of the neighborhood, unapoll j jeogeti trult. that -- cruelty. that's the first thing. the second is the sheer manager ial incompetition.
8:38 pm
in vancouver, for example, we had, you know a docket of interviews -- that was my last post, the consulate of vancouver. we had interviews scheduled from many nationalists of countries from which travel was pbanned. many of them were caught mid-morning when the news came in via warning we had no idea this was coming. we might have seen the white house statement and then the cable. i'll give you another example. this is an experience i've had personally and i'm sure many of my colleagues have had the same one. every morning we read our cable queue, cleared by the direction of political appointees. and, you know, an example a cable will contain talking points for the day let's say on trade. i am tasked with memorizing those talking points, finding
8:39 pm
meetings with senior foreign officials and delivering dutifully those talking points. it has happened to me in a meeting with a foreign official kind of mid sentence, that official that i'm talking to will pick up their cell phone and point to a tweet from the president that directly contradicts what i'm saying in person. >> so talking points that the administration, state department sends to you in the morning, sends the embassy in the morning and you go and do your duty and start having a meeting about it with a foreign official, the president tweets in the middle of that meeting coincidentally and the foreign official says you don't know what you're talking about? >> that's exactly right. it used to be any pronouncements by the president are policy. under president obama, if i saw a statement on the white house web site, i could repeat those. i didn't ask for permission. you knew that was my guidance.
8:40 pm
under this president, that is not the case. >> so when you're in a meeting like that and you're trying to maintain legitimacy, maintain that you're speaking for the state department, speaking for the united states, i have to say if i was in a meeting with somebody and that happened and i was that foreign leader, i'd be like why am i even wasting my time talking to you? >> that's exactly right. it's embarrassing. >> we have to take a quick break. we'll have more with chuck in a moment. this summer at panera,
8:41 pm
we're going all in on strawberries. at their reddest, ripest, they make everything better. like our strawberry poppyseed salad and new strawberry summer caprese salad. order online for delivery. panera. food as it should be stay on top of things.
8:42 pm
a faster laptop could help. plus, tech support to stay worry free. worry free. boom! ha.ha. boom! now save up to $200 on all lenovo products. save up to $200 at office depot officemax or let's cowboy up!
8:43 pm
exhilarating speed. woo! precision control. woo! maximum reliability. access denied. [ repeats ] access denied. if it's not xfinity xfi, it's not good enough. for wifi with super powers, get xfinity xfi. and go see, fast & furious presents, hobbs & shaw. now playing.
8:44 pm
we're back with former foreign services officer chuck park who just resigned from the state department in a very public way with criticism of what is going on with the state department and this administration. look, plenty of -- there's a long and proud tradition of democratic and republican administrations of people, foreign service officers and others, saying i can no longer stand by and do this job and i resign. it's rarer that people then write an op-ed and it's a very public resignation in the way that yours is. why did you want to write an op-ed and send a very strong message about why you were leaving? >> so i've been asked a bunch of times over the last 24 hours whether i'm calling people out.
8:45 pm
the short answer is yes. but i'm not calling out my former colleagues in the foreign service. i'm not calling out other civil servants in the federal bureaucracy. they're doing their jobs and they're working hard. i am calling out the american people. if you are concerned with what's going on at this white house, if you're disgusted, dismayed by images of again children in squalid detention centers, if you don't like your president using rhetoric that emboldens white nationalists, then it's up to you to resist. and you can resist by protesting, you can publish an op-ed, you can run for office or you can vote. and so i hope to do one or more of those things now that i'm out of government. >> you were in for ten years.
8:46 pm
you were doing, you know -- you are knew what the job was. you knew that you might be working for an administration with different politics than your own and plenty of people work for administrations with different politics but if everybody resigned every time there was a new president, there would be chaos. >> i completely agree. i'm not advocating that every president should bring in an entire new bureaucracy every time there's a transition. that would be chaos. >> and you would get people with no qualifications and no experience. >> of course. >> as much as people in this administration deride career civil servants, calling them bureaucrats, these are people who develop an expertise in what they're doing. >> absolutely. so all i can say in response to that question is i couldn't do it anymore for myself. and to me, it felt like kind of this president and working for this president was an extreme kind of frustrating, kind of
8:47 pm
outrage-inducing experience almost on a daily basis. i'm referring mostly to domestic policy than the foreign policies. >> the prison often says in the prior administration people around the world are laughing at us, no one's laughing at us now. is that your experience? because i hear in my travel overseas, i hear a lot of laughter. and it's not like laughing with us. >> it's really -- i've been in meetings where people didn't know that i was the u.s. diplomat in the room and it really interesting to hear what other nations say about us behind our backs when they think we're not listening. and it's not all positive. there is still a belief in america, so let me reaffirm that. and kind of just to circle back to kind of the core job of a foreign service officer, of a diplomat, is to represent america overseas, to explain it and to defend america.
8:48 pm
i'm not sure right now that there's a coherent america to project to the world. there is an america i believe blow in and i came home to fight for it. >> thank you very much for being here. >> thanks, anderson. >> up next, exclusive reporting that ties a controversial epa decision that ties a copper and gold mine to president trump. donald trump failed as a businessman.
8:49 pm
he borrowed billions and left a trail of bankruptcy and broken promises. he hasn't changed. i started a tiny investment business, and over 27 years, grew it successfully to 36 billion dollars. i'm tom steyer and i approve this message. i'm running for president because unlike other candidates, i can go head to head with donald trump on the economy, and expose him fo what he is: a fraud and a failure.
8:50 pm
8:51 pm
8:52 pm
for the first time president trump is now directly tied to a controversial reversal on a major u.s. environmental decision. there's new reporting tonight by drew griffin detailing a conversation regarding a decision that could up end a decade of warnings. involving alaska pristine bay. drew griffin has details. >> reporter: the meeting took
8:53 pm
place june 26th. alaska governor dunleavy met with president trump for more than a half-hour. dunleavy has been moving for approval of a massive gold and copper mine, plans for the bristol bay watershed, home to breeding grounds for salmon fisheries. and after his meeting aboard air force one, dunleavy said this about the president. >> he believes in the opportunities in alaska. >> inside epa, the very next day, june 27th. top epa officials in washington held an internal video conference with settle and told the staff the epa was removing a special protection for bristol bay and clearing the way for one of the largest open-pit mines in the world.
8:54 pm
that internal announcement was a total shock to scientists because their concerns were overruled by appointees. trump political appointees. it's regarded as one of the most important salmon fisheries. half of the worlds salmon come from here. it's been protected since 2014 when after three years of study, the obama era epa used a rare provision to veto any mining that could pose a threat. the epa scientists writing a mine would result in complete loss of fish habitat that was irreversible. >> it's mind-boggling that it's been considered at all. >> christine todd whitman is a republican and opposes the mine. and former new jersey governor. and ran the epa. she joined several others to publicly oppose the mine.
8:55 pm
>> the opposition to it up there is amazing. over 80 miles of streams, thousands of acres could be damaged from this project. >> this is the second time during the trump administration the political appointees at the epa have decided to remove special protections for bristol bay to pave the way for this huge mine. in 2017, president trump's first epa administrator scott pruitt canceled the meetings. the protections. after a private meeting. after cnn exposed the meeting. pruitt backed down and put the protections back in place. now, another private meeting, this time with the president himself has led to yet another win for the mine and removal of environmental protections for this pristine watershed. >> one of the most troubling
8:56 pm
things for the administration >> on the environmental side, this disregard of science, they're gutting science cross the agencies, cross the departments, cross the government. >> even if scientists are advising you, mr. president, this is very dangerous to the environment, to the fisheries, to the state of alaska, if the president decides that's the decision. >> that's the decision. >> reporter: and the only recourse is for environmental groups to sue. >> you'll have a host of lawsuits. i'm convinced. >> >> reporter: alaska's governor is a huge trump supporter. he's met with his several times. he sent this letter to the president asking for a long list of epa reversals including the clean water 404 veto, a direct reference to pebble mine. a member of his staff used to work on the project in public relations. and at epa headquarters, andrew wheeler, the former coal company
8:57 pm
lobbyist, has a tie to pebble mine too. he has recused himself from decision-making because his former law firm represents the mine. >> just the -- even saying a former coal company lobbyist is running it, that says a lot. we've seen so many of these decisions that put these companies ahead of the environment. is this a done deal? will this mine be built? >> it must still have its permit approved. but it is basically a done deal. the epa says those obama era protections were outdated. anderson, the government scientists we've been talking to, don't believe that for one minute. they consider this mine terribly dangerous for the bristol bay
8:58 pm
watershed. >> there's no doubt this was a decision by those trump appointees, not scientists, correct? >> yes. the general counsel for epa made this decision. at first the epa denied that this meeting the day after the governor's meeting took place even happened. not true. when we confronted the epa with our own evidence, they admitted this meeting did take place. it's in this meeting, one day after trump met with alaska's governor that those scientists were told the decision was made. as one epa official told us, we were told to get out of the way. >> they deny a meeting took place and then you show them what you have on it and then they're like, oh, yeah, that happened. >> that's right. >> drew griffin, glad you're doing this job. thank you. >> thanks. coming up, president trump takes hits from the 2020 candidates after his trip from el paso. we'll talk about that with presidential candidate julian crow. when he says he wants to do something on background checks.
8:59 pm
♪ that a speaker is just a speaker. ♪ or - that the journey can't be the destination. most people haven't driven a lincoln. discover the lincoln approach to craftsmanship at the lincoln summer invitation. right now, get 0% apr on all 2019 lincoln vehicles plus no payments for up to 90 days. only at your lincoln dealer. and my side super soft? with the sleep number 360 smart bed you can both... adjust your comfort with your sleep number setting. so, can it help us fall asleep faster? yes, by gently warming your feet. but can it help keep me asleep? absolutely, it intelligently senses your movements and automatically adjusts to keep you both effortlessly comfortable. will it help me keep up with him? yup. so, you can really promise better sleep? not promise... prove. it's your last chance to save up to $600 on select sleep number 360 smart beds. plus no interest until january 2022 on all smart beds. ends wednesday. i was on the fence about changing from a manual to an electric toothbrush.
9:00 pm
but my hygienist said going electric could lead to way cleaner teeth. she said, get the one inspired by dentists, with a round brush head. go pro with oral-b. oral-b's gentle rounded brush head removes more plaque along the gum line. for cleaner teeth and healthier gums. and unlike sonicare, oral-b is the first electric toothbrush brand accepted by the ada for its effectiveness and safety. what an amazing clean! i'll only use an oral-b! oral-b. brush like a pro.