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Anderson Cooper Interview with Donald Trump; Controversy Over Trump/Priebus Phone Call; Is GOP Trying to Destroy, Silence Trump; Trump Unafraid to Speak of Himself. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 9, 2015 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP GROUP: But we have done that to the absolute letter of the law. We're very, very careful.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, A.C. 360: "The Washington Post" can go there and talk to 15 people and find some illegal immigrants --
TRUMP: They haven't shown us anything. I wish they would give us names. We would get them out immediately.
COOPER: You must have a guy on the job site --
TRUMP: We have more than one. And we checked it probably, more carefully than any job ever built. Anderson, you have either 11 -- anywhere from 11 million to 34 million illegal immigrants in this country. They're all over the place. Nobody knows even where they come from. They probably come some from the Middle East. You don't know where they're coming from. We check on that building probably more carefully than anybody that's ever built a building before. And I think, from what I heard -- and I just checked it this morning because I asked a question because I read the article, also -- we are absolutely in beautiful, perfect shape.
Now I wish they'd give us the names. We would get rid of them immediately.
COOPER: This isn't the first time this has been an issue. "Daily Beast," today there's an article. I don't know if you've seen it. The headline says -- they're talking about the building we're sitting in right now. They're saying, "Trump Tower was built on undocumented immigrants' backs."
TRUMP: How many years ago was that?
COOPER: This was, what, 35 years ago.
TRUMP: They said 35 year ago.
COOPER: This was a court case, 200 illegal immigrants, polish workers, guys working for $5 --
TRUMP: I hire a contractor. The contractor then hires a subcontractor. They have people. I don't know -- I don't remember, that was so many years ago. 35 years ago, they said --
COOPER: This was a court case settled in 1999. You settled with them.
TRUMP: It's all right. It's fine. I remember the case. Frankly, I remember it very well. We hire contractors. The contractor, highly prestigious, they go out, hire subcontractors. Sometimes the subcontractors will have people working but, you know, it's pretty far down the line.
COOPER: This was 200 polish workers working without hard hats, pretty noticeable, on a union job.
TRUMP: When you have to go back 35 years to tell me about something, that's pathetic, to be honest with you.
COOPER: Do you think -- can you guarantee you don't have illegal or undocumented workers working for you in hotel or various projects?
TRUMP: I can't guarantee it. How can anyone? We have 34 million in the country. I used to hear 11 million. Now 34 million. I can't guarantee anything. But I can say this, we work very hard to make sure that everybody is legal as opposed to illegal.
COOPER: There's, as you said, 11 million -- who knows how many million. 11 million --
TRUMP: Nobody knows.
TRUMP: The most scary of all, our government doesn't know. They don't have any idea. They don't have a clue.
COOPER: What would you do with the ones already here? You talk about building a great wall on the border or parts of the border, about being tough. What would you do with the ones already here?
TRUMP: I would do something very, very strong. Number one, I wouldn't even think about anything until I built a wall, impenetrable. There will be nobody coming into this country illegally. That's number one. Number two, I would get the ones that are criminals, drug dealers, and the people that are forced in by Mexico -- and you know exactly what I'm talking about because Mexico is smarter and sharper and more cunning and, frankly, have much better negotiators than we have. And I would get the ones that are forced in by the country of Mexico into our country, forced in, those people would get out and they'd get out fast. The rest I'd be looking at very seriously.
COOPER: Seriously, would there be a pathway to citizenship for -- you're talking 11 million at the very least.
TRUMP: Too early for me to say. And when you say citizenship, the most we'd be talking about was legal. Let me just tell you, before I even think about that, we have to build -- we have to build a wall, a real wall, not a wall that people walk through.
KEILAR: Still ahead, fact checking Donald Trump. We'll talk to Anderson Cooper live about his sit-down interview.
Plus, we just got off the phone with Trump. Up next, what he had to say about that phone call with the head of the Republican National Committee.
Stay with us.
[13:32:59] KEILAR: Now as you heard in Anderson Cooper's interview with Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, can get pretty fired up. And it's a tone that may be causing concern within the Republican Party. Trump actually spoke to the head of the RNC, Reince Priebus, on the phone yesterday, and since then, there's been a controversy over what was actually discussed.
Here to help us out, we have Joe Johns.
Take us through the back story on this and what you've learned here.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, a bunch of mixed messages coming out of this right now. Probably the best way to start is with Donald Trump's tweet after having the conversation with Reince Priebus. He essentially said it was a congratulatory conversation more than anything else. Now the RNC is calling this a respectful conversation. They have to walk a line because the Republican Party, especially since the presidential cycle of 2012 has been trying to make inroads to Latino voters. The overarching concern is Trump's comments are hurting as opposed to helping. Trump is saying chairman Priebus did not chastise him, per se, but Trump is admitting the subject of his comments on immigration did come up during that brief conversation. So different characterizations about the same thing. The RNC trying to walk a line on this and Trump saying it was more or less congratulatory -- Brianna?
KEILAR: And our own Jeremy Diamond, political reporter, here with me now.
You just got off the phone with Donald Trump, right? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah.
DIAMOND: It was an interesting conversation. We had all of this reporting saying that Donald Trump had told by the RNC chief to tone it down. I get on the phone with Trump, he says it's a congratulatory call. Let's be real. He was congratulating me. He said Priebus has never seen anything like it. He was talking about his surge in the polls to number two, right behind Jeb Bush.
KEILAR: Let's listen to part of the call. Here we are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:40:02] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP GROUP (voice-over): It was a very nice call and it was really more of a congratulatory call. He said how well we're doing and he saw we went to number one in various polls. He talk about how well we're doing and how he's literally not seen anything like this. It was a nice call that lasted probably ten minutes, maybe a couple minutes more than that. That was the end of the call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: OK. Now the RNC not officially commenting on this, right, Jeremy?
DIAMOND: Yeah, I called up Shawn Spicer.
KEILAR: The spokesman. OK, so they're not commenting but isn't it possible that -- but we're sort of hearing their side of things. This was us, telling him to tone it down. Can't they both kind of be right here? Hey, congratulations, by the way, tone it down. And it's just about what one really called about and what one is sort of hearing in the conversation?
DIAMOND: Yeah. It's about how much of the conversation, I guess, centered around there, is what they're differing on. Trump wasn't so clear the comments, the suggestion, as he called it, of toning it down was specifically about his immigration comments. He said Priebus was suggesting he should tone it down generally but, at the same time, saying Priebus understands that's Trump's brand. So they've got a lot of different people to try to make happy here, and they're walking a fine line.
KEILAR: They sure are.
Anderson Cooper, who had the interview with Donald Trump, joining us now.
Anderson, you're hearing this discussion that happened. You interviewed Donald Trump. Do you get a sense that he might tone it down? COOPER: I don't see him toning it down. I mean, certainly he seems
to be doubling down, if anything, you know, he is unapologetic about really everything he has said, even a tweet that was re-tweeted by Trump or by somebody in his campaign, but on his Twitter page and then deleted by Trump because it was viewed as offensive to Jeb Bush and his wife. Though it wasn't something Trump said. It was something he re-tweeted. Trump said he didn't authorize the tweet to go out but doesn't regret it. He doesn't apologize for it, even though the tweet itself was deleted. It's rare that you will hear Donald Trump saying something negative. As you hear in that interview, most things with Trump are superlative. It's a great conversation. It's the best hotel. It's the best subcontractor to hire. That's who Donald Trump is. That's his style.
KEILAR: What did he say to one suggestion about the 35 years ago undocumented immigrants were used working on his hotel, he said that's pathetic. That's how he ended that.
COOPER: He was saying it's pathetic if you have to go back 35 years to bring up something, and this was all based on a "Daily Beast" article. The thing is, will his opponents in the GOP, when he's on the debate stage, will they be the ones bringing this up? We remember it in the debate cycle, Mitt Romney was attacked for allegedly having illegal immigrants working on his yard at his house in Massachusetts, hired by whoever he had hired, the company to do his yard. So it's very possible that some of these other challengers, if things get contentious in these debates, will start to bring this up. And, as you said, there will be a demonstration, I guess, at this Washington hotel. Though as Trump says, you know, if they knew the names of the people, they would fire them. Though they -- somehow "The Washington Post" was able to find these people. The person from the Trump organization hasn't been able to find these people, apparently. So we'll see if anything more develops on that.
KEILAR: That just goes to the point, right, that you don't have to go back 35 years to perhaps find some evidence, that "The Washington Post" was able to find some evidence here. The press is spending a lot of time covering, analyzing Trump's comment. We have the first debate only a month from now. What do you think? Does he have the potential to really hijack the debate?
COOPER: Well, I don't know about hijack. He has the potential to dominate. He has dominated the conversation, you know. I mean, he's the first one to claim credit for bringing illegal immigration front and center into this campaign and, you know, based on his comments, he has forced all the other GOP challengers to really address his remarks, to kind of take things based on what he is saying and pivot off them, but he is really dominating the conversation and so I think that's the concern certainly for a lot of people in the GOP that at these debates how did their candidates that they support look standing next to Donald Trump and reacting to Donald Trump. Do they take him on? Do they ignore him? I think that's got to be a debate that's being had among all these candidates.
[13:44:53] KEILAR: It's such a conundrum. And I want to talk more with you about it, Anderson. If you can stick around, if you don't mind, we'll chat more after a quick break.
Because not everyone in the Republican Party even wants Donald Trump to back down. Just ahead, we'll talk with a Trump supporter who says the party is trying to destroy Trump in order to silence him.
[11:49:20]KEILAR: Not everyone in the Republican Party is calling for Donald Trump to tone it down. Some are applauding him for focusing on it.
Joining me, Jeffrey Lord, a former political director in the Reagan White House. He's a contributing editor for "American Spectator.
Jeffrey, what do you say to Trump's critics in the Republican Party?
JEFFREY LORD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, AMERICAN SPECTATOR (voice-over): Well, I think they're making a huge mistake here. Donald Trump, first of all, is Donald Trump. He's going to speak his mind regardless. And one of the things that I would think that they should have learned by now is the more they attack him, the more sympathy comes his way and the more it helps him politically. I see that just yesterday he surged to number one in a poll in North Carolina. I was I was doing a radio interview in Alabama this morning and I was told by the host that everybody down there is talking about Donald Trump, and favorably so. So I think that there's a mistake here, a problem for the Republican establishment, if you will, to go after him. Perhaps they should pay more attention to what he's saying and try and talk about the issues instead of him.
KEILAR: You wrote in "American Spectator" that, "Republicans in the ruling class are trying to shut down the base of the party over immigration." Tell us more about that.
LORD: Well, there's a feeling -- I think this began to manifest itself when Senator Cruz tried to defund Obamacare back in 2013. And since that time, there's been a feeling of a disconnect between the base of the party and the folks in Washington and the lobbyist complex, et cetera. And the illegal immigration issue has just not been on the radar at all, and yet people are clearly, you know, aware of the stories in their own area. And I think that when we had this terribly tragic situation in San Francisco, this suddenly put a name and face and a national focus on this. And this is something that Donald Trump has been talking about for a long time. And now because of the confluence of circumstances, they are forced to talk about it. And everybody else from Jeb Bush has got to get into the issue, which I think is a good thing, but there certainly is a feeling -- I would almost call it hostility towards the Republican base, the Republican establishment in Washington from people outside the Beltway here who feel that they are not being listened to on anything and that Donald Trump is picking up on that.
KEILAR: Jeffrey Lord, great insight. Thank you for your analysis there.
Donald Trump is a self-promoter. The businessman-turned presidential candidate, really known for his swagger, and certainly never seems afraid to speak about himself, as we saw last night on "A.C. 360."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Here's the good news. I'm very rich. I built an unbelievable company. The money you're talking about is a lot but it's peanuts for me but it's still a lot. More expensive than a campaign would cost. I'm very good at contracts. I do that very well, unlike our country, I do contracts very well or I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you right now. I've given millions to everybody.
COOPER: So do you give, though, based on principles, or do you give based on who is going to do things for you politically?
TRUMP: They all love me. Let's put it that way.
COOPER: Do you know when you get on a stage during those debates and your Republican challengers are going to say, look, you're all over the place politically. You say you're a conservative Republican. You're giving money to Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi.
TRUMP: I get along with everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Anderson Cooper is joining us back now on the heels of the interview that he did with Donald Trump.
Anderson, did you get the impression that Donald Trump is in a presidential race to win it, or did it strike you more that this is a publicity stunt or maybe a combination of both?
COOPER: Well, I don't -- look, I don't know what is going on in his head. I can tell you, you know, he's doing well in the polls and certainly says he's in it to win it. You know, whether or not he actually believes that he can take the White House, I don't know. There's no way to really tell that. I just don't think it's some sort of publicity stunt. He has people on the ground and he's doing very well in the polls and devoting a lot of time to this and I think he's really serious about it and certainly serious about getting his opinions, getting himself in front of cameras and his ideas across. As you well know, you did the interview with Hillary Clinton, she's barely talked to the national media. Donald Trump has done a number of interviews. He put in a call again -- he took a call again from CNN to talk about what the RNC call was. So he's very comfortable in front of the cameras. He likes the attention, no doubt about it. I think he's enjoying the process even though it's costing him some money with some deals and I think he's certainly in it, you know, for the early part of the primary season and I think he'll wait and see how he does. I think it all depends on how far he can really go and be successful.
KEILAR: When you talked to him off camera, compared to on camera, is it what you see is what you get with him?
COOPER: It is. Look, he can be a very charming guy and he's -- you know, there's a lot of politicians who one talks to is not very pleasant to talk to them. They don't really answer questions, they don't really engage. Donald Trump is very engaging. He's very polished. He's very comfortable in front of the camera, he's very comfortable with people, seems to enjoy talking to people, he's used to the attention. He doesn't arrive with a huge entourage. He doesn't have a lot of people whispering in his ear telling him to wrap up the interview. This went on for some 45 minutes or so and nobody ever said wrap it. I just said, OK, I think we've ended the conversation. So he's a candidate unlike a lot of other candidates out there, and I think that's clearly part of the appeal. That's clearly -- you know, you look at the people who are doing very well in the polls and Jeb Bush has high name recognition, you have Trump, Ben Carson after Trump in New Hampshire and elsewhere. It's people who are not well -- politician who are out of the mainstream not viewed as politicians. And I think it makes it difficult for someone like Chris Christie who is selling himself as a straight talker, somebody who tells it like it. Donald Trump has really stolen that mantel, has really grabbed that mantel and is running with it.
[11:56:06] KEILAR: That's a reporter's dream, when you get to say when the interview is over, not the person that you're interviewing. That's amazing.
COOPER: Yeah. It's kind of refreshing, I've got to say. And he is oddly accessible in this way. For a guy as rich, as he is, as powerful as he is, he is kind of accessible. And I think people like that.
Anderson Cooper, thank you so much.
You can catch more of Anderson's extended interview with Trump right here on CNN, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "A.C. 360."
That's it for me. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern on "The Situation Room."
The news continues right after a quick break.