tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 5, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
will he be fired or promoted or something else? that's the question about scott pruitt. he's surrounded by ethical concerns and appear to be growing. today we learned he demanded vip treatment to cut through washington traffic and according to three knowledgeable sources a member of his security team was demoted after refusing to do that. that's on top of the expensive travel, the $50 a night room. the bottom line is he's got issues. the president has been weighing a promotion for him and firing the attorney general he seems the love to hate on. late today aboard air force one the president weighed in. what have you learned about president considering replacing sessions with pruitt?
>> it's been a discussion here at the white house. the president has been eyeing the attorney general. no one has been upset with a longer period of time than jeff sessions. scott pruitt would have been an answer to that. he could have been an basicing attorney general. i'm told in the last day or so the president still discussing it but not as much. the reality is he did not think he did well on that fox news interview yesterday. he called it interesting when asked about it on air force one today. the president said directly, no scott is doing a fine job. he'll stay where he is. we've heard that so many times before. the president giving cabinet secretary a thumbs up only to find out later in the week he's fired. we do not know what the status of him is in. the difference here is this. it's a key one. conservatives think scott is doing a good job at the epa.
rolling back obama era regulations. that's the difference than the veterans affairs department for example. to have him stay on doing what he's doing. rolling back the administration regulations. at this point don't look for a change yet. again, that could always change at the whim of the president. >> do you know anything about how chiefs of staff john kelly or others in the white house feel about it? >> we do know that john kelly has not been enamored with him because of these headlines. it's something he's been trying to get his arms around. his cabinet secretary for spending extra money and buying extra things. driving around with lights. john kelly doesn't like this. he's been not pleased by this. he is where it must stop. it's the president's decision here. he's hearing a lot from outside
advisors who think that scott pruitt is doing a good job. very difficult to confirm a new epa administrator. yes, the swamp is not being drained but the policies being enacted is what the trump supporters want. that's what the president must decide and must way. anderson. >> thanks very much. daid david gerg they join us both now. does it make sense given all the attention pruitt is under for ethics concerns. >> i think jeff is absolutely right. we all know that he's been frustrated with sessions for a very long time. i think one of his frustrations is he keeps being told he can't remove him.
one of the appeals may have been until the last few days that pruitt has a constituency in the senate. one of the worries is he has a constituency where he served so long. they like scott pruitt in the senate. maybe the president thinks he's someone that can get confirmed. i'm sure what mitch mcconnell is thinking. not only does he not want to get rid of sessions or move pruitt, he doesn't want anymore nominating fights. i think the president is acting out here because he's mad at sessions. i never want to bet against him doing something because every time you say he wouldn't do that, he do that. it's odd to replace someone as attorney general who all of a sudden scandal plagued in the way he's handled his office. that i don't think would discourage trump.
>> david, pretty remarkable that pruitt is in this place he could be fired or promoted in the same week. >> it's on a extraordinary story. i think that president trump likes scott pruitt because he thinks he's a tough guy. he will do the really hard things. a republican president created the environmental protection agency and now under trump pruitt is the turning it into the environmental destruction agency. the president likes that. he likes to have pruitt in the bull pen. and sessions is on the mound. go to david's point. there are people around the president telling him not to fire sessions. have a hard time trying to get anybody confirmed starting with pruitt. he will make eventually.
in the meantime, we've got these scandals growing or coming out of the political liability as well. >> one of the ironies is that in under normal set of circumstances when you have a epa director who is getting essentially rent free space from a lobbyist who is dealing with his agency or the wife of a lobbyist dealing with the agency that's the kind of thing that gets referred to criminal just agency for review. at the same time this story arises he's being talked about for attorney general. it is extraordinary. >> the definition of the swamp, david, if the president did replace sessions with pruitt, what kind of domino effect would it have on the special counsel investigation?
>> i don't know. i think it will be a fight and will go on for a long time. republicans are concerned it's going to bring out if you look at the various polls there's a lot of support for doing things about climate change. you walk away from and it's been lost a lot on the environmental side. we have been engulfed in the mueller and everything else. there's so many things going on. historians may recall or say that's the single most important issue. that americans are dealing with. with pruitt, there's a growing sense in the public once they understand what he's up to and as well as the rental and the numbers are just extraordinary. the way his abuse, his power and sort of a semitrumpian way.
it must build his respect for him. i think the public will be upset about it. >> i don't think he can confirm anybody to replace sessions if he fires him. least of all pruitt. you know how divided the senate is. there will be a few republicans wo will take a walk on a replacement. it will be such an effort to undermine the mueller investigation. i think he's stuck, which is something he doesn't like. >> would mueller look at it as an effort to undermine his investigation. >> he would if the first person fires mueller. that would be saying. in and of itself. it wouldn't be have much impact.
if the intention is to get a replacement for sessions and fire mueller. he's in down another storm. that will be much bigger. >> david, what kind of a message do you think it sends to other white house officials that you can be facing all these ethics concerns but get a promotion. >> i think the whole thing is bizarre. i don't think ethics meant much in this administration starting with the president himself. people are still allowed to have business enterprises while serving in the white house. i think the message is on ethics have been very, very poor. i think the bigger thing for people working in the white house is what is going on here. is there anybody but the president making decisions here. is there a system. kelly seemed to have control for the while. now the president has gone off on his own and talking to his
outside advisors and making these decisions on the fly and that's dangerous circumstance. >> david, stick around. go ahead. >> i want to make a point. people take their cues from the president. scott pruitt would not be pushing the boundaries on ethics unless the president was doing the same thing as david axelrod has been arguing. >> i want to talk next about the president tossing out his prepared remarks using his greatest hits from the campaign. it was short on facts. we're keeping him honest. later, the president break ing his silence on stormy daniels. why the attorney calls it christmas and hanukkah wrapped into one. you know what they say about the early bird...
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i'm reading off the first paragraph. i said this is boring. >> that kind of summed up the moment. returning to the rhetorical red meat. fact free red meat. evening reaching back to the remarks that stirred a lot of controversy. ology on day one of the campaign. >> >> remember my opening remarks. everybody said he was so tough. i used the word rape. yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. they don't want to mention that. we have to change our laws. >> whatever the president is saying by conflating rape victims today and back then is unclear. this claim his wall is already being built and the military is taking construction.
>> we have to have strong borders. we have to have a wall. >> we already started building it. fixing miles and miles of wall that's already up and fence. we're going to have our wall and get it very strongly. the military will be building some of it. we have to change our laws and working on doing it. >> keeping his honest, we sent gary tuckman to the border last week. he saw the new construction the president has been referring to is nothing new to the repairs and construction of the existing walls. the president is using that and referring to walls which he hadn't been previously. there's nothing in the defense budget about wall building itself on the border. the president returned to another theme that the voting was rigged. >> many places like california, the same person votes many times. you probably heard about that. they like to say that's a conspiracy theory. it's not a conspiracy theory. millions and millions of people.
it's very hard because the state guards their records. >> millions and millions of people. not only have experts debunked this, the president's panel of experts have. his own voter fraud commission was shut down without finding evidence. he says because they wouldn't give him information. the fact the president is still peddling this lie that millions of people voted illegally in the election is pretty incredible after shutting down his own commission on this, and he won the election. >> he's dismissive of truth as he is ethics. we could go on and on with this. one thing was striking this week was a story in yesterday's front page this the new york times about the leader of turkey who is giving speeches like this every day. two or three on national television.
he pays no attention to facts. he tells total number of lies. he maintains about 40% approval rating. guess who else has about 40%. donald trump. it's a device that works up to a point. i'm sad to say it can lead to the diminishment of democracy if not its death. >> the president bringing up the first comments he made when he announced his candidacy. it makes sense feeling he's like his own best add visor and will do things his way. the campaign he did things his way. >> i think that's what's going on. he spent a year being bridled by people who told him what he can't do. his basic view is i'm here because i followed my own instingtss and i'm going to do whatever i want to do. i'm not going to be told what i can't do. he's going to the things he thinks help get him here.
including this despicable issue where you're tarring an entire people on this rape issue and the voting issue which is absurd. he's created this alternative universe. he's looking to the fall election. he's been told. there was another election in wisconsin this week for the state supreme court that went badly for the republicans. there are all kinds of signs that there isn't a lot of republican enthusiasm out there and now he's trying to pump up the balloon with this gas that he peddled in the past. he's hoping that will do the trick. i think he's persuaded. i speak to people who talk to him and say he's having the time of his life. he's really happy right now because he's doing what he wants to do and what he think s the smart thing to do and he has great faith in his own instincts. we'll see how that works out in november.
>> david, you said this can lead to the death of democracy. do you really believe that? >> yes, i do. i do. this book that's out now called how democracies die is very worth reading. it's short and makes compelling points about how many countries have democracies have become authoritarian countries and it's happened again and again. in the last 20 years or so it's happened again and again when extremists come to office and carry their countries in that direction. when you don't have the kind of restraint that a democracy need you can erode it badly. i think it's becoming a threat. we're not there by any means but it is a threat. if we had this president and a couple more like him, i think we would be very close. >> david, do you believe that? >> i'm deeply concerned about democracy.
not just here but in europe. we see these authoritarian regimes growing up. we see democratic institutions being degraded and we see this assault on truth. the free press, the truth, facts. those things are central to a functioning democracy. i have faith ultimately in our institutions of democracy and in the american people who ultimately have the authority with their vote. it is -- i've said this to you many times. my concern about donald trump is less his policy, even though i disagree with my of his policies. it's his utter disregard for democratic institutions. he's the president of the united states. he's the trustee of those institutions and he takes a hammer blow to them every single day and that is concerning. >> david, just lastly today the president said he might hit china with an additional $100
billion in tariffs which would be on top the 50 billion has already authorized. about that just a bit ago republican senator ben sass released statement that said hopefully the president is just blowing off steam again but if he's half serious, this is nuts. do you agree? is it nuts? >> i do. the reason is for me from his own point of view is that if he pursues this, we will be in a trade war. we went from him proposing tariffs on $50 billion in chinese imports and the chinese in the last 48 hours match that and they're going to put on tariffs. then the white house rushed people out to say we're not going to have a trade war. we're going into negotiations. everybody calm down. then our president throws a hand grenade back into the midst of this and said i want to go to
100 billion more of chinese imports being subject of tariffs. the chinese will raise it. there's going to be -- wait and see how much the markets are rattled in the next 24 hours by what the president just did. i think it's concerning from his political point of view, it's nuts as a trade war would the very economic recovery that he has legitimacy in claiming i did to help bump up this recovery. that's going to be the strongest point the republicans can take into the midterm elections. if he throws it away through a trade war, there's a lot more republicans that will say that's nut. >> in some of the various states he won with. >> thank you very much. when we continue a lot more tonight. perhaps the most unexpected breaking news tonight. president trump talks about the cash payment to adult film star stormy daniels. finally breaking his silence. on the issue.
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the president was asked by a reporter and for the first time he answered. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. michael is my attorney. you'll have to ask michael cohen. >> do you know where he got the money to make that payment? >> no. i don't know. >> both daniels and former playboy model have alleged affairs with citizen donald trump. today the president has refused to answer questions about either woman. as for michael cohen here is what attorney david schwartz. had to say about the president's remarks. he said this an accurate assessment of the facts. it's what i've been saying all along. michael cohen made the payment. it had nothing to do with the election. this did occur 11 days before the election.
i spoke with mike avenatti. >> it's like christmas and hanukkah rolled into one. you can't have an agreement if one party claims they knew nothing about the principle terms. the president has shot himself in the foot and thrown his attorney under the bus in the process. put him in dire straits with the state bar of new york. according to the president mr. cohen was negotiating this agreement and doing this all on his own without consultation with the president. we don't necessarily believe that. we're going to test the truthfulness of the statement. you know, anderson, we knew sooner or later he was going to crack. this is a man that is not disciplined. he's not a disciplined client. we knew sooner or later it was going to happen. we were patient and lo and behold the gift came from the
heaven this afternoon when he responded to the question on air force one which he never should have responded to. he should have left it alone. he has put himself and mr. cohen in a world of hurt. >> joining us now is former trump campaign aide. the president is known for saying things that for speaking off the cuff about a lot of things. he has remained silent until now. do you think it was wise? >> i'm not an attorney so i can't tell you if it's wise or not. i think he made his point clear. my real concern is the following. it's not stormy daniels. it's director mueller. if ken star can get from white water to questions about personal intimacy to wrap up bill clinton, this is a peril for the president as well.
if director mueller feels like he needs to go there, attorneys can connect the dots to make it relevant. this is a perilous situation. >> miking raises an interesting point. if michael cohen has violated campaign finance law, that does give -- opens a door for robert mueller to actually have something on michael cohen if he wants to try to get at michael cohen and get him to flip if there's anything for him to flip about. >> i think that's right. michael cohen was already at the epicenter of the mueller investigation already. now you have this potential hush money, this payment that was made to stormy daniels 11 days before a presidential election and the lies and the cover up. it's not about the affair and the cover up that we continue to see and the lies from donald trump and others around this
that made this very troublesome. yes, this $130,000 would be considered a contribution if donald trump is now saying he didn't know about this money which, guess what, is about $126,500 more than michael cohen is allowed to give. this is problematic especially if you look at the timing. the timing is the issue. >> it's also interesting because daniels attorney is re-filing his motion to depose michael cohen and to depose president trump. the president and michael cohen have been wanting to get this into arbitration. is not valid because the president didn't sign it. it calls for arbitration but under the rules in california the federal district where this now is there's actually -- they can take depositions even to determine the arbitration.
he feels like he's in a good position to be able to depose the president of the united states. does that worry you to have the president under oath speaking to an attorney on these issues. >> the president has been deposed many, many times before. i don't like the idea of them being a i believe to depose a president. i'm hoping their 15 minutes of fame is up soon. i'm much more concerned about director mueller. i think we can learn a lot from ken star and bill clinton in this. i think the president's lawyers need to be on alert. whether this is something that actually happened between the president and stormy daniels or not. >> do you think it was wise for the president to publicly weigh in on this. it would be difficult for him not to given he's on an aircraft. it's not like he's walking to a helicopter. he came back to the press because there were things he wanted to talk to the press about. maybe he didn't expect this question to be one of them. >> he should have expected it. i don't understand why he would not have.
it's a story that's opinion play -- been playing on and on for several weeks. that's confusing why donald trump wouldn't know. donald trump is and i've said this before, he can't put a sentence together without lying. washington post put out a story not too long ago where they said the first 400 day, he lied, mid led about 2,500 times. this is just the president we have. what we're seeing is a porn star has more credibility than the president of the united states. that's a very sad place to be. >> michael, do you want to respond to that? >> i believe it's difficult to sit on cnn over and over again and talk about a woman who gets paid for sex. i find it distasteful. as we talked about before when we first met the president in 1988, he was playboy and cultivating that image. the fact he was a playboy
earlier in his life is baked into his presidency and candidacy. i don't think it hurts him. i want to be sure the legal perils are paid attention to. just ahead, we'll return to the texas border with mexico. see how one local sheriff is reacting to president trump's plan to have national guard troops help with border security. ♪ i thought i was managing my moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. but i realized something was missing... me. the thought of my symptoms returning was keeping me from being there for the people and things i love most. so, i talked to my doctor and learned humira can help get, and keep,uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts so you could experience few or no symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems,
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brief chat with reporters aboard air force one, president trump says he thinks between 2 and 4,000 troops will be sent to the u.s.-mexico border. zero details about when and where. gary tuckman is along the boarder this texas. he spent the day with a sheriff who is not happy with the plan to send national guard troops there. why the unease with this sheriff. >> reporter: this is eagle pass, texas. behind the rio grand, the nation of mexico opinion there's many people unhappy including the sheriff. he doesn't think it's necessary to have national guards men here. he's concerned it could be harmful. president trump says he wants between 2,000 and 4,000 national guard troops deployed. it's not clear where they will deploy.
and when it will happen. there's history for this in 2006. in 2010, barack obama 1200 national guard troops. it has happened before. here is what people we talked to in this county said today. many of the residents, ranchers, sheriff acknowledge the problem is bad. there are people coming across the river. and drugs. it's nothing like it was ten years ago when president bush sent out the 2,000 troops. you would see 100 people at a time coming across the river. law enforcement said it's rare today that they see this. in 1997 when troops were put along the border, an 18-year-old texas high schooler was shot and killed by a u.s. marine who mistook him for an armed illegal immigrant. the sheriff is worried about that possibility if troops come back again. >> i'm afraid of that happening here. some soldier getting nervous with a weapon and seeing somebody, one of my constituents
walking close to the border and thinking he's going to be danger to a soldier and might just fire and shoot him. >> reporter: we asked the sheriff, you're the top law enforce lt official in the county, have you heard from the white house, the governor's office in austin? anything at all about this plan? the sheriff said i heard zip. i asked do you anticipate hearing anything because you would assume they would want to coordinate with you. he goes no. if they asked me what i thought i would tell them it's waste of money. give us the money to hire more people. give the border patrol so they can hire more money. give us both money to have more technology and equipment. he doesn't think they need troops here in this county. anderson. >> just to be fair, he is a democratic sheriff in largely democratic area, correct? >> reporter: that's a very important point.
here in the state of texas most of the border counties are heavily democratic. there's a lot of bugs here. trump only got 20% of the vote here in texas. this is a very read state. he does believe, that's one of the reasons he's not hearing anything at this point. >> we talked to a former sheriff from arizona in our last hour who had a different point of view. we like to get all different sides. thanks very much. the caravan heading towards the u.s. border have reached the city of pueblo, mexico. the group is scheduled to stay there for several days before heading to mexico city. we have a look at the journey so far. >> reporter: they are women, children, men, families. this is the caravan president trump calls dangerous. they're not armed. they only have the very basics.
>> reporter: karen joined the group in southern mexico. >> they left honduras 20 days ago. the entire family is traveling together. this is mom, dad, one of the kids and another kid that's made the journey as well. >> reporter: they never expected to catch the attention of president trump but that's exactly what the group did when about 1200 gathered in southern mexico nearly two weeks ago for an annual pilgrimage that's been organized for more than five years. she's a mom. she left two children there. >> she says there's no work in elsalvador and a lot of gang violence. >> reporter: only shoes and clothes as she heads to the united states hoping to find a job to send back to her children to help them escape poverty and violence. they have murder rates among the highest in the world.
>> she has this piece of paper that says if she can be here for 30 days. she doesn't know if 30 days is enough to get to the u.s. she's like we will fight to get there. >> reporter: the mexican government has been in touch with the caravan. even giving some that 30-day permission to stay many the country without having to worry about deportation. president trump insists the caravan is breaking up. >> you can see this is a bit of a smaller group that's just arrived here. not a thousands as originally headed from mexico. this is what happens every year during this annual pilgrimage. that's not to trump effect. that's always diminish in numbers. what has changed. a new plan to put the national guard on the u.s.-mexico border. president trump says this is a dangerous caravan.
this gentleman is saying they are not dangerous. are not thieves. they don't kill people. they are families and workers. >> before they arrive much of the day was spent preparing for them. the community bought food, water and books. this is temporary. after a few days here they head to mexico city where organizers say 200 will continue onto the u.s.-mexico border. she says she doesn't know what will happen but if she finds herself with the national guard, she may have to wait but with god's help she'll get there okay. >> reporter: they'll make it to the u.s., they say, not to endanger anyone, rather in search for a better life.
>> you're getting mixed messages from the organization. what are you seeing right now? >> reporter: organizers are admitting they are overwhelmed. some are saying they are putting things on hold. kind of delaying things little bit until they figure out what to do next and others say game on. they are going to continue north and this caravan continues. i will tell you here there's still very much a community. a community really on wheels. take a look behind me. this is the shelter where they are. they have a mobile unit from the health department. they have immigration officials that are here to answer questions and help people. inside this shelter it's also kind of like another village. there's someone who is cooking. there's someone cleaning who is moving things around. really what i'm seeing is that whether or not organizers are on the same page, the people of
central america that started with this caravan that are making a statement that say they will head north are still under the same impression. >> all right. appreciate it. thanks. coming up, new details about who you the white house intelligence committee, russia investigation went off the rails including a big f bomb during testimony.
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the house intelligence committee's russia investigation went on for a year and yielded plenty of drama. tonight we have new information about how the investigation went off the rails including an incident curing corey lewandowski's testimony. he was the final witness in the investigation. he didn't leave any doubt he was
frustrated with the questions he was being asked. our senior correspondent joins me. what did lewandowski say to the committee? >> the first time he came, he wouldn't answer questions about topics that occurred after he left the trump campaign in june 2016. he said i'm not prepared to answer those questions. so the democrats insisted on him coming back. the second time he came back was in march. last month and he was asked a range of questions that he refused to answer. it got rather heated. we're told by four sources with direct knowledge of exactly what happened that lewandowski swore the democratic members of the committee repeatedly saying i'm not going to answer your f'ing question but he actually used the swear word, catching members by surprise. and there was sharp push back by democratic members on the committee. now republicans came out of that
hearing defending lewandowski, not pushing back at him at all saying he had done all that he needed to do to answer the democratic questions and he gave us a statement initially saying that didn't have to dispute any of the foul language and saying the democrats just did not understand his plain english way of speaking. but after our story came out earlier to night, lewandowski gave me a call and he said there was the democrats that first used foul language and he felt the need to respond in kind. he called their language appalling and he said he had never heard of such language being used before. i asked what language and he wouldn't say. he didn't say which democratic members allegedly made the remarks, anderson. >> do we know what exactly lewandowski would not discuss with the committee? >> afterwards adam shift said there were a range of topics that lewandowski could shed light on but refused to do so including the firing of fbi director james comey, what he
knew about that. his conversation with trump after he became president and also that misleading response at the that the white house pushed after revealed that donald trump jr. met with the russians in trump tower during the campaign season. they would not discuss those topics among others. that's what prompted the frustration from democrats on the committee. >> where does this committee's investigation stand at this point? a report still hasn't come out. >> yeah. that's right. the republicans have drafted a report but it has not been released publicly. we have top lines of that. they concluded that the republicans did that there was no evidence to support the notion that there was collusion between the trump campaign and russia. the democrats say that this is not -- does not match up with the evidence that they're seeing and they also said the republicans did not actually investigate a number of areas that could shed more light on this area and this matter saying they actually stifled the investigation. the intelligence community is
determining what to declassify of the republican report. in the meantime, anderson, democrats are putting together their own report and it really shows the american public at the moment really nowhere closer to knowing exactly what happened in the 2016 elections. >> thanks. appreciate it. >> thanks, anderson. more news ahead. we'll be right back. do ndo not misjudgenity quiet tranquility. with the power of 335 turbo-charged horses lincoln mkx, more horsepower than the lexus rx350 and a quiet interior from which to admire them. the lincoln spring sales event is here. for a limited time get zero percent apr on the lincoln mkx.
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we'll be right back. that's all the time we have. thanks so much for watching. time to hand it over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" starts now. see you tomorrow. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. this tells you everything you need to know about how this white house operates. sources telling cnn president trump seriously considered replacing attorney general jeff sessions with scott pruitt. yes, the same scott pruitt, that one, the head of environmental protection agency, who's under fire for renting a cut-rate condo from a pair of energy lobbyists who has been under the microscope for pricey plane tickets at taxpayers' expense and whose sources tell cnn wanted to drive through the streets of washington, d.c. with, lights and sirens blaring. a special agen