Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Trump Withdraws Federal Protections for Transgender Students; Tempers Flare at GOP Town Halls; Interview with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; What This Means For Local Law Enforcement; Bannon, Pence Deliver Mixed Messages To EU; The Future Of The Democratic Party; Angry Constituents Sound Off At GOP Town Halls; Trump Withdraws Federal Protections For Transgender Students. Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired February 22, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with breaking news. The Trump administration withdrawing a pledge of support that President Obama made to transgender students, withdrawing guidance that the Obama administration had sent to public schools on the use of bathrooms by transgender students.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is at the White House, joins us with the latest.

So, first of all, explain what this is and what this isn't. It's not an executive order. It's essential withdrawing guidance in a letter put out from the Obama administration.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Anderson. It essentially is just sort of directing schools across the country to rescind and take back what President Obama said last year to provide special protections for transgender students in rest rooms and other things. It's essentially is a federal government saying that it's up to individual schools, individual states to make these own protections. So, it's not an executive order at all.

This is coming out tonight from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education in a joint statement saying they basically are sending the directive back to the states to make these decisions, Anderson. But it's not without controversy, even here at the White House.

But we do have a first look at a White House statement that will be coming out shortly. It says this. It says, "As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes the policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level. The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers, and administrators." But, again, Anderson, this is a big deal. It's weighing in on social issues which we've not seen a president do a lot, and indeed, it is even controversial inside his own cabinet.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, you have some reporting on that. The Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, her involvement, how that all played out.

ZELENY: Indeed, Anderson. This is -- this is fascinating. A meeting yesterday in the Oval Office with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, they were at strong disagreements here over what they should do about rescinding this guidance, and we are told that the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who's been very controversial, was arguing strongly that protections be placed for students.

And she actually issued a statement of her own this evening separate of all of this that is offering a window into her disagreement, and part of that statement, she says, "We have a responsibility to protect every student in America." She called it a moral obligation.

We are told she's going to be meeting with some student groups tomorrow to talk about this as well, Anderson. So, this is in early and pretty rare disagreement from two cabinet secretaries, obviously both conservative. But Betsy DeVos, back in her home state of Michigan, has long and quiet history supporting gay rights and other things here. So, that's what made this decision so interesting.

And this is all coming now because there is a Supreme Court case on this that is going to be happening in the coming weeks. That's why the administration had to act today.

COOPER: So, it's important to point out that the administration is not replacing the Obama era guidance with new guidance. They're essentially just taking a hands-off position saying it's up to the states. It's up to local school boards.

ZELENY: Exactly, kind of splitting this in the middle. They certainly could have issued a new executive order or new guidance to sort of, you know, take away or reassert what the president did last year, President Obama. But they're simply taking his away.

So, it seems to me, Anderson, this is something that the administration had to make a statement on this because they are a party to that Virginia case that is going to be before the Supreme Court here.

But if the president had wanted to issue something more, a fulsome, he certainly could have here. So, they're splitting it about in the middle, but it's essential still very controversial, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, appreciate the update.

Joining us now to talk about it is Democratic strategist Paul Begala, CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos, also CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, Trump supporter and contributor to "The Hill", Kayleigh McEnany, former Congressional Black Caucus executive director Angela Rye, Republican strategist Alice Stewart, also conservative Matt Kibbe, the president of Free the People.

Gloria, let's start off with you.

It's interesting because we actually have a sound byte from Donald Trump during the campaign when he was on the "Today" show talking with Matt Lauer about the use of rest rooms by transgender people. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble. I would say that's probably the best.

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Do you have any transgender people working in your organization?

TRUMP: I don't know.

LAUER: No?

TRUMP: I really don't know. I probably do. I really don't know.

LAUER: So, if Caitlin Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?

TRUMP: That is correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's interesting to hear him on the campaign trail talking about students and kids in school.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, social issues have never been the bulwark of Donald Trump, you know?

[20:05:01] He wants to talk about other things. He is more socially liberal, I believe, than a lot of conservative Republicans, evangelicals, et cetera. But his attorney general is not.

And I think the argument between -- if it's an argument -- between Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos in the Oval must have been quite interesting because her first statement here was that the federal government has a moral obligation that no individual school district or state can advocate when it's regarding protecting children in school. And so, clearly, she was on the other side of this.

What the Obama administration did was say that Title IX says that you cannot have discrimination because of your sex, period, and they applied it to transgender bathrooms. And what this administration is saying, no, no, no, leave it up to the states -- which is a conservative point of view. I'm not sure it's Donald Trump's point of view, quite honestly, but it is his administration's right now.

COOPER: Danny, I mean, legally, it seems like they're on pretty firm ground.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They are. There are a couple of things going on. I mean, the fact that Donald Trump says in an interview that he doesn't care where a person uses the bathroom in one of his own buildings is a big difference from his administration withdrawing this "dear colleague" letter that the Obama administration submitted.

The central issue in the Supreme Court case is that letter because it was deference to that letter and the Obama administration's position that was the basis for the ruling in the lower court. So, it is more than just withdrawing a letter. It has very significant legal affects on the Supreme Court case, and it's about as was just said, whether or not Title IX extends to transgender students and whether or not that the Obama administration's letter should be given deference, if it sort of doesn't exist anymore.

COOPER: The White House, Paul, has, you know, along with this rescinding they have said that they're not tolerating bullying, they're not tolerating discrimination, that there are other avenues to protect --

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right, but they are withdrawing protection from the most vulnerable, among the most vulnerable people in the society. Human Rights Campaign, the preeminent gay rights organization, says 21 Americans transgender people were killed in 2015, the last year we have data for, in acts of violence.

These are some of the most vulnerable -- and now, we're talking about kids. That was all Americans. Some of the most vulnerable kids.

And this says something about priorities. You know, in Bill Clinton's first 100 days, we went out there and tried to integrate gays and lesbians into the military -- hugely controversial. People said you got elected for jobs. Why were you doing that?

I'm proud we did, but it did show a priority that Clinton was going to step out on those issues. We're seeing now Trump step out where we didn't think he might on these divisive social issues and I think on the right side of history. I don't think this helps him politically.

COOPER: It's interesting, Kayleigh, I mean, based on what he said on the campaign that he is doing this now.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's interesting. But I -- you know, as one of the panelists brought up, I think he can personally believe that, I personally agree with him. I do not mind in Caitlyn Jenner uses the same rest room as me.

But as a policy basis, deference to the states is a core key component of conservative ideology. And, you know, having states decide this -- Paul, I would pointed out to you that the discrimination laws that protect transgender individuals are still in place. Donald Trump wants to protect these individuals.

However, the reason conservatives -- BEGALA: They are on the books.

MCENANY: -- believe this should be left to states is because I do think there's a viable argument. Not that transgender individuals posed any harm, but this can be utilized by some men, for instance, to go into female bathrooms.

It's happened at Target, which does have the same policy in place. Voyeurism issues where cameras have been put up by men taking advantage of the policy. Not transgender individuals. Men -- straight men coming in and really, you know, being a predator against women.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Transgender also doesn't mine that someone is not straight. I just want to make this point because I think it's important. We are, of course, in Black History month. We know the hard fought battle that Americans had for civil rights, and these same civil rights were meant to extend to LGBTQ communities.

And I think regardless of whether you agree with someone using your bathroom or not, this is a major step backwards, and Donald Trump allowed this because he had a loyal right or die supporter in Jeff Sessions. And he is giving Jeff Sessions what he wants. I think I forgot about what he said on the "Today" show, and it's all about loyalty to Donald Trump. We've heard that time and time again.

COOPER: It is interesting, Alice, because -- I mean, as candidate he did constantly, or not constantly, but repeatedly bring up the LGBTQ community. That was the phrase, the kind of awkward --

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He stumbled on it, yes.

COOPER: -- he always used. I mean, T is for transgender people.

STEWART: He was certainly more -- the most liberal on the debate stage of all the candidates up there. My boss, Ted Cruz, was very vocal on this issue, specifically dealing with schools, and I think it's a much different scenario when you are talking about him allowing someone like Caitlyn Jenner to use the rest room at Trump Tower and these bathrooms in public schoolings where parents cannot be there.

[20:10:02] I think that's an important distinction.

We also have to realize Jeff Sessions in his order, he said, "This is consistent. This ruling or this memorandum that came out is consistent with Title IX." Title IX doesn't specifically reference transgender bathrooms. Sean Spicer alluded to that today in this news conference.

So, that's where we're going to have the distinction. While there are protections for sexual discrimination and education activity, it doesn't apply. Title IX --

RYE: We should expect that it should apply, and that is what -- that's what a leader does. You don't defer to states. If we would -- CEVALLOS: But that's not the law. The problem is that's not the law.

We've never had a system where you look at a law and say, hmm, I think some extra words should be in there. That's a dangerous proposition.

That's not just a textous approach. That is the law approach. And you can't -- the central issue here is whether or not the law is what the Obama administration says it is when there literally is not the word in there that we -- you may want that word to be in there, but it is not.

And the question is, if the administration no longer wants the law to mean that and withdrawing that request, then it's like a tree that never fell in the forest.

COOPER: This will clearly be decided at the Supreme Court with this --

BORGER: Virginia case, yes.

COOPER: Yes?

CEVALLOS: It will be. But there could be issues of mooted and when you talk about things being mooted, that means that if there no longer is an issue, there's nothing for the court to decide.

But we've seen with cases like abortion, they can be capable of repetition, yet evading review and they can be heard.

COOPER: All right. We've got to take a quick break. Much more to talk about.

More breaking news. Angry voters confronting GOP lawmakers at town halls across the country. We'll take you inside there and see what's going on.

Later, Steve Bannon and a kind of a mystery. Who is really speaking for the president to world leaders? Is it Steve Bannon or other top advisors? Cabinet secretaries who in some cases are sending the opposite messages?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:16] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Voters across the country bringing the town hall heat today on Republican senators and Congress members. Almost seven years ago, Democrats were on the receiving end of Tea Party anger. Now, it's the GOP's turn as one lawmaker after another comes under fire this week and as you see even tonight.

In a moment, we'll talk to one congresswoman who faced a fair amount of unhappy voters. Also, what the White House is up against and how they are explaining it for now. President Trump's claiming that it's actually professional protesters or activists doing the shouting.

But, first, quick roundup from CNN's Phil Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican lawmakers back home from Washington, facing emotion, sharp and often shouted questions on their plans to repeal and replace health care.

As well as pushback on President Trump and his immigration policy.

ZALMAY NJAZY, TOWN HALL PROTESTER: I'm a person from a Muslim country and I'm a Muslim. Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me and save me?

(APPLAUSE)

I've been road side bombed once, but I'm here. Nobody cared about me. But I was with United States Armed Forces back in Afghanistan, that I get shot. I didn't get shot because of my mom and dad.

CROWD: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: The outcry now raising questions as to whether the GOP agenda driven in part by the president or even the Republican majority could be in danger. Republicans say their hold on Congress is safe. On Twitter, President Trump dismissed confrontations as being concocted by liberal activists calling them, quote, "so-called angry crowds."

Today at the White House, his spokesman tried to stake out a middle ground.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think some people are clearly upset, but there is a bit of professional protester manufactured base in there.

MATTINGLY: The GOP says the anger at the town halls is not the same as the frustration vented against Obamacare during the early days of the Tea Party movement back in 2009.

SPICER: When you look at some of the districts and some of the things, it is -- it is not a representation of a member's district or an incident. It is a loud group, small group of people disrupting something in many cases for media attention.

MATTINGLY: Still, from reliably red districts in states to the swingiest of swing districts, the demonstrations are real and are getting attention. GOP lawmakers now grappling with the same reality faced by their Democratic counterparts just eight years ago -- whether to avoid the face-offs altogether --

(CHANTING)

MATTINGLY: Or to openly embrace the raucous opposition.

REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: I don't mind boisterous. I'm having fun. I like having debate. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Phil Mattingly joins us now.

Is the White House monitoring what's happening in these town halls?

MATTINGLY: Yes, Anderson, they're keenly aware of what's happening around the country and obviously, they dismiss it publicly. The president has done so many times. But they recognize that what's happening right now could get bigger, and that could be problematic. Not just for their agenda going forward, but for their electoral prospects in the midterms and maybe even beyond.

One of the most interesting elements of this entire process that I have learned about is Republican leaders making very clear to outside GOP groups, outside conservative groups that they need help right now and help is starting to come.

American Action Network and out outside conservative groups starting to spend $2.2 million on a television ad buy in 21 districts of Republican members that could be in danger. But I'm told that's not merely enough. They need a lot of air cover, and they need it fast, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly. Phil, thanks.

Let's go now to Republican Congressman Leonard Lance's town mall tonight in New Jersey's seventh district where crowds have been protesting outside. The main room holds 900 people. There's an overflow space as well. And even that wasn't enough. It's all been happening this evening in Branchburg, New Jersey.

Our Kyung Lah is there for us.

So, what's going on at the town hall where you are at?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's still going on right now, Anderson. It's been a very passionate if -- there's been lot of Q&A back and fort. The thing that I've heard from this room, and you can see how packed it is behind me, the congressman is still at the podium taking some questions.

What everyone has said is they want to hear his answers. All of this is full. The balcony is full. If you look outside, that area, that's people who simply could not get in beyond an overflow room where there is a live stream. There is so much interest.

[20:20:01] The congressman had to book another town hall, a second town hall for this week.

So, the questions have been about the ACA. They have been about women's health, the environment. I want you to listen to this moment. This was a passionate moment as the congressman was asked about President Trump, his ties to Russia, and whether there were grounds for impeachment.

Listen to the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I am a lawyer by training, and I certainly do not want to prejudice how I might -- how I might have to vote on any -- on any matter of that regard.

I think the responsibility in the House of Representatives to impeach or not to impeach is one of our most important responsibilities. As you know, an impeachment is the equivalent of an indictment, and the United States Senate would be the judge and jury in effect, and it would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict and remove a president or other high official from office.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Now, the congressman did say, though, it was important for the intelligence committees to do their work. That it is their job first. Crowd not so excited about that particular answer, Anderson.

We should point out that you were talking about Phil Mattingly's reporting and 2018, this is one of those districts that D.C. Democrats are looking at and hoping to flip. He won by 6 percent here.

COOPER: All right, Kyung Lah. Kyung, thanks very much.

Joining us now Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn who faced some especially vocal constituents yesterday.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Good to be with you.

COOPER: President Donald Trump tweeted -- I want to quote him directly. He said, "The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually in numerous cases planned out by liberal activists."

I'm wondering if for you, is that what you saw in your meeting yesterday? Was the anger you faced real or is the president, you know, indicating it's in numerous cases planned out by liberal activists?

BLACKBURN: Anderson, the anger indeed was real from the individuals that were in the room. What we found was so interesting. A little bit less than one-third in the room were actually very constituents of mine. We had a couple -- several that identified themselves as being from outside of the district, a couple from Nashville, one from Murfreesboro. And so, they came to that.

What with he did hear from one of the city commissioners later was that some of the residents of Fairview where I had my legislative update were not able to get into the meeting and, of course, the reservation or the seats had been taken by those that were actually from outside of my district.

And I've heard from a lot of my constituents. They were disappointed. We've told them to come on by the office and sit down with me, and we'll talk about the issues because they were disappointed they couldn't get in and participate.

This is something I do in this community ever year.

COOPER: It's --

BLACKBURN: They had look forward to it, and couldn't get in the door.

COOPER: Right.

BLACKBURN: It was full.

COOPER: I mean, it's interesting, because with regarding the president's tweet, it seems to me you can -- it can be both. I mean, you can have real anger and you can also have some planning by liberal activists. There was a "New York Times" article --

BLACKBURN: Sure.

COOPER: -- about your meeting that said the number of the people attending, and I'm quoting "The Times", "rallied by the local branch of Indivisible", which they described as a national movement started by Democratic activists --

BLACKBURN: Yes, you know --

COOPER: -- and they said they held two meetings and discussed which issues to raise. But the anger that you're seeing is real.

BLACKWLL: Well, sure. And it is a group -- I have a real good friend who lives in Davidson County, Nashville, supported President Obama twice, voted for him twice. She got an e-mail from Organizing from America, President Obama's organization, encouraging her to go to my town hall and then the link to the booklet of how to disrupt or question.

And she was just absolutely horrified. She said, "Of course, I'm not going to do this." She said, "But I just want you to be aware of it."

So, sure, we know that. We know that there is organizing going on by those that are on the left. We also know, Anderson, you know, people that like my friend, she e-mailed other friends of hers and said I think this is so inappropriate. We don't live in her district, and I don't think we should go and take away time from people that are constituents of hers.

COOPER: How will you --

BLACKBURN: But like I said, about one-third of them, less than a third, were my constituents. The others are people who came in to use that as an opportunity to question and, you know, to --

COOPER: How do you compare this to the Tea Party crowd that began in 2009?

[20:25:03] Sean Spicer said in some cases, these are professional protester manufactured base. He also said, you know, some of them are legitimate.

That's the same criticism that Democrats made against Tea Party protesters back in 2009. There was Astroturf.

BLACKBURN: Right. And I think that there are a couple of differences there that I would encourage you and your viewers to think about. The Tea Party organization is something that was very grassroots and started from the bottom up. It was people that were really bringing forward issues.

In Tennessee, it started with the state income tax issue. Most of it found it to genesis, in local issues, people showing up to help better communities fight state policies.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But isn't Obama care the focus for many of these people?

BLACKBURN: And then let me give you the counter balance to that first. So, Tea Party was from the bottom up. What you see now with this, it is being driven from the top down. You have national groups that are pulling in and trying to activate activists at the local level to go into other members and districts and attend these halls, take up those seats.

COOPER: Wait a minute. I'm not sure you could possibly --

BLACKBURN: And that's what I think it could possibly backfire on them.

COOPER: Right.

Is that really fair, though? Because, I mean, you acknowledge the anger is real. I don't think you can actually say that because there are groups -- activist groups which are encouraging people, putting out videos about how to attend meetings that it's not also bubbling up from the bottom. I mean, we saw a huge turnout at what was billed as a Women's March in Washington, as well as satellite marches in cities across the country. There's groups, affinity groups which are sort of encouraged people out of that march to go to your meetings and others.

BLACKBURN: Yes. But, Anderson, it is being driven by national organizations. So, basically, it is being driven by national organizations and then trying to direct --

COOPER: That's exactly what was said about the Tea Party by --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: And the Tea Party was from the bottom up.

COOPER: Right. That's not what Democrats are saying. BLACKBURN: It was local activists that found -- well, you know, I think that there is a different framework on what was happening then and what is happening now. And --

COOPER: OK.

BLACKBURN: Yes.

COOPER: All right. Well, Congresswoman, I appreciate your time, Marsh Blackburn.

BLACKBURN: Sure.

COOPER: I should also point out, you went ahead and you had your meeting.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely.

COOPER: There's a lot of folks deciding not to have meetings. So, kodus.

BLACKBURN: Yes, I went out. I met my protest organizer who was doing the alternative town hall. We've had a handshake and did a photo together, went out and spoke to the alternative town hall once I finished inside, thanked them for being there. Told them we need to make certain everyone's voice is heard in this, and then, you know, it was a good day.

COOPER: I appreciate your time, Congresswoman. Thank you.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely. Thank you.

COOPER: Ahead, in Mexico tonight, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are facing high tensions and a tall order to mend bridges even as President Trump's new immigration crackdown is stoking more backlash. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:32:1] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: A short time ago Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Mexico to hold meetings and security, trade, immigration and border, will be joined by Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly. Tension obviously between the U.S. and Mexico are the highest they've been in decades.

Earlier today, Mexico's foreign minister flat out said his country will not accept the Trump administration's new immigration directives. It's just the latest in a cross-border backlash. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Mexico City over the last month protesting the Trump White House policies including plans to build a wall at the border.

Mexico is threatening boycotts and Mexico's president canceled his trip to the White House last month. It's really a lot to discuss with my two guests, Paul Babeu, former sheriff of Pima County, Arizona and Mark Napier, sheriff of Pima County, Arizona. Sheriff Napier, your county covers a large threat to the Arizona- Mexico border. Much of the enforcement could fall in your department's shoulders. Do you have the budget or and the capacity to be able to take this on under the new Obama administration directives?

SHERIFF MARK NAPIER, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: No, Anderson, my county is about 9,200 square miles. We have a population of about a million people. Just providing a traditional law enforcement service to the people of Pima County is a strain in itself.

We don't have the budgetary capacity, the personnel resources or the jail space station to engage in proactive immigration enforcement.

This morning there were about 1,840 people in my jail, and we only have space for about 2 000 and then we're completely full.

So we don't have capacity in our detention facility. And I don't have a lot of spare capacity in my field operations to go out and actively engage in immigration enforcement.

COOPER: So sheriff what's the solution to that? Because when you and I spoke yesterday you said there's nothing really new here that the law is now just going to be enforced that it wasn't being enforced before.

PAUL BABEU, FORMER PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA SHERIFF: Right.

COOPER: But won't it come as significant cost to local law enforcement?

BABEU: Well, the main burden falls, and this is where the Supreme Court under the supremacy clause. This is your prime role for enforcement of the immigration laws, and now they're actually going to be enforced. So you have the border patrol agents, and then you have I.C.E. enforcement officers. And they're the ones who are charged largely who work in partnership for those local municipalities and sheriff's offices, across the country who choose to engage with the 287 G enforcement program.

However, even in Arizona where we had the widely debated Senate Bill 1070, it even said there that our requirement was simply to call I.C.E. or the border patrol and see what action that they wanted to take.

So now, the president is given very clear direction that there will be no longer any catch and release. So when they apprehend somebody, they don't just give them an NTA, a notice to appear, and then they never show up in court 30 days later that they're going to be held in custody and they're going to be returned back to their country of origin.

Second, is there going to prioritize the arrest apprehension and deportation of the criminal element. Now this incident isn't all illegals that 11 million to 14 million who are here ...

COOPER: Right. BABEU: ... It's the 1 million, 74 percent of which have felony convictions. These are the bad guys that we should all want to be apprehended and deported.

[20:35:10] COOPER: Well, Sheriff Napier, what about that? Because all the critics of what the administration is doing says that actually the, kind of the definition of criminality has now been expanded and is really now at the interpretation of the law enforcement personnel. You don't even have to be convicted of a crime even if just an accusation of a crime is enough to be deported.

NAPIER: Well, we actually very much support Pres. Trump's initiative to put more resources on the border and to finally make a good effort to secure the border.

Last week I met with Sec. Kelly, and we had a very product discussion between Sec. Kelly and the other border sheriffs realizing that a one size fits all approach this doesn't work in Arizona. My county is very different than Cochise, Yuma or Santa Cruz. So, we need to have these resources on the border.

So we absolutely welcome additional resources to help us with criminal justice problems associated with illegal immigration. We're very supportive of Pres. Trump's initiatives there. And particularly to better secure the border. So we're on board with that.

I think Sec. Kelly took a very proactive stance and listening to the border sheriffs and realizing that the real expertise on this problem lies at the ground level ...

COOPER: So is this ...

NAPIER: ... with the border sheriffs.

COOPER: So is this really a change then? I mean do you agree with Sheriff Babeu that essentially this is just enforcing laws that already in existence or do you see this as an expansion?

NAPIER: Well, we have to see, Anderson. We don't really know there's a lot of noise and discussion coming out of Washington D.C., and we don't know how that will manifest itself with the local level, with policy implementation.

Right now I don't see any change for the Pima County Sheriffs Department. We've always cooperated with our federal partners, had an excellent relationship with border patrol and I.C.E., and we really embrace that relationship. We have a great relationship with our pure border sheriffs.

So I don't see a lot changing for Pima County in this. I just see more resources being put towards the border and probably a lot more concerted effort, a lot more intelligent effort in securing the border itself.

COOPER: All right. Sheriff Babeu, I appreciate you being on again.

BABEU: Absolutely.

COOPER: Sheriff Mark Napier as well. Thank you.

Just ahead, White House Strategist Steven Bannon is one of Pres. Trump's closest advisors, you all know that. But, is he actually practicing a stealth diplomacy, sending mixed signal to the European Union. We look into that tonight.

Also, CNN hosts the debate with the eight candidates for DNC Chair. Dana Bash, Chris Cuomo are moderating and that's a preview. That starts at 10:00 p.m.

We'll have a preview after we take a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:41:31] COOPER: Tonight report a mixed messaging at the highest levels of the Trump administration. Sources are telling the CNN that a week before Vice President Pence visited Brussels to reaffirm U.S. commitment to the European Union. White House Strategist Steven Bannon was sending a much different signal to Germany's U.S. ambassador. So raising question about who in the White House is speaking for Pres. Trump. CNN Global Affair Analyst Elise Labott tonight reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIR ANALYST: In Brussels this week, Vice President Mike Pence offered these words of assurance to European allies that their ties with the U.S. were strong.

MIKE PENCE, (R), U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: It's my privilege on behalf of Pres. Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.

LABOTT: But days earlier Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon delivered a different message to Germany's ambassador to Washington.

In what diplomats describe as a combative discussion, Bannon called the E.U. a flawed institution and told the Ambassador Peter Wittig that the White House paid for its strengthening ties with individual countries, rather than dealing with the 27 nation block as a whole. The same anti-E.U. populist message he articulated as chief of the right wing website Breitbart news at this 2014 conference at the Vatican.

STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: People, particularly in certain countries, want to see sovereignty for their country, they want to see nationalism for their country. They don't believe in this kind of pan-European Union.

LABOTT: Both Wittig and the German government declined to comment citing the private nature of the talks. The White House rejected the diplomat account of the meeting calling the discussion just a quick hello. But the conversation reflected concerns across Europe about the Trump administration's policy towards the European Union. Last month the European Union president called the Trump administration a threat along side China, Russia, and radical Islam.

DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN UNION PRESIDENT: The change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation. Because the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

LABOTT: Well, the campaign trail Donald Trump supported Britain leaving the E.U. even calling himself Mr. Brexit on Twitter. Days before his inauguration he called the E.U., "Basically a vehicle for Germany." In an interview with British and German newspapers, "That's why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out," he said, "I think that's what people want. People want their own identity, so if you ask me, I believe others will leave."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: European officials were are hoping members of Pres. Trump's cabinet like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would help convince the president to cooperate with the E.U. but with right wing nationalist movements like Trump is gaining ground in upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, the mixed messages are causing widespread anxiety throughout Europe. Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

COOPER: Well, a lot to talk about. Joining me now is CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Tony Blinken, who served as Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor in the Obama White House. And back with us CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger.

Tony, I mean, how significant is it if there is a division between, you know, the president's top advisor Steve Bannon and maybe the president and his vice president and in some cases his Secretary of Defense and others?

TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Anderson, it's deeply troubling both as a matter of process and a matter of substance. The process, there clearly has been a dysfunctional National Security Council, and hopefully the new National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster will get that back in order. But what you have so far is an NSC that isn't working and parallel structures, including the strategic initiatives group that Mr. Bannon runs trying to develop policy around, behind, above the NSC without getting the input of all the other agencies including the State Department. That is not a good recipe for good sound policy.

[20:45:20] Subsequently (ph) this is very troubling because undermining the E.U. really runs counter as least (inaudible) report to 70 years of American foreign policy, and there's a very good reason the E.U. was constructed in the first place, and that was because extreme nationalism led to World War II. And the Europeans after the war wanted to insure that there would be peace, the countries would not be fighting each other. Instead, they would be cooperating, trading with each other. That led to the birth of the European Union. The direction of Mr. Bannon wants to take us is a recipe for going back to the conflicts of the 20th century, not the peace that followed.

COOPER: Gloria, it's really interesting. I mean you have the vice president of the United States talking to NATO, reassuring them, talking about the E.U., you have the Secretary of Defense telling Iraqis, you know, we're not there to take your oil. Essentially, you know, saying different things than the president of the United States is saying. It's a strange position for the vice president and even the Secretary of Defense in here.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And, you know, this wouldn't be the first time that the vice president has been in an awkward situation. We know the situation where he went out and said that Flynn did not have conversations with the Russians about lifting sanctions and it turns out that, yes he did. And so, if you are the vice president and you go and you speak to the European Union and he says, we are a 100 percent behind you, and if you are a member of the European Union you'll have to kind scratch your head and say, who is it? We are supposed to believe here and who actually speaks for the president of the United States.

And I think that is the question that is circulating among world leaders. Particularly when you have reports as Elise just did about Steve Bannon having private conversations in which he effectively disses the European Union and says, look, we want to do bilateral deals, we're not interested in the European Union, et cetera. And, you know, what do you believe?

BLINKEN: Right.

BORGER: And I think it's difficult for them.

COOPER: Right. But that is what's missing from all. This is what does Pres. Trump actually believe.

BLINKEN: Yeah, that's the question that everyone is asking. You know, the vice president, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security made good presentations when they were in Europe trying to reassure the Europeans. Except that no one could say what certainty that they were actually reflecting the president's views, and no one could say that any of these individuals, despite what they were saying, were actually in the room where it matters. And that's a real problem because it's sending mixed messages, and no one knows who to actually believe.

BORGER: And, you know, you also have a Secretary of State who seems also out of the loop to a great degree. I mean there have been reports that when the president spoke and it was Netanyahu and he said, well, he wasn't committed to a two-state solution. It depends on what you folks agree with, that that came as a surprise to everybody. And so, what do you do in that situation? It doesn't only apply to the European Union but perhaps it also applies to the Middle East, into his own Secretary of State.

COOPER: Right. I mean, you have then -- had Nikki Haley the next day, you know, clarifying the U.S. does support a two-state solution.

BORGER: Right. Right. and She's speaking for the president or -- it's just confusing. It's just confusing.

COOPER: Tony, if the Bannon world view prevails and the Trump administration favors dealing with the individual nations and views the E.U. as a flawed institution, what does that do for the balance of power in Europe, particularly given the president's statements about Russia?

BLINKEN: Well, first, the E.U has been a very good vehicle for even the smaller nations of Europe to make sure that their voice was heard, that they had input, that's important. But mostly -- most significantly, the E.U. has been what has brought Europe together and has diffused the extreme nationalism that led to conflict and led to war. So if we're part of trying to take that apart, we're playing Russia's game, which has also been trying to undermine the E.U., and we're harkening back to a time when countries were going at each not cooperating with other. That's not a place to go.

COOPER: Yeah, Tony Blinken, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

BORGER: Sure.

COOPER: Coming up, the Democratic Party searching for leadership and direction in the era of Pres. Trump. Tonight CNN hosted debate with the eight candidates for DNC chair. Where is the party actually headed, Dana Bash is moderating the debate along with Chris Cuomo. Dana joins us coming up next with a look ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:53:12] COOPER: Well, in just about an hour from now, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, you can here everything you wanted to know about the future Democratic Party but were afraid to ask. The eight candidates who are vying of the Democratic National Committee are participating the debate right here on CNN, moderate by CNN's Chris Cuomo and Dana Bash. Dana joins me now with the quick preview.

So, is this chair position so important to fill as soon as possible for Democrats?

DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Incredibly important. You see the podiums behind me, the eight candidates who are going to be here as you said, a little but more than an hour. They are really basically running for a job that is more important than it's been, Anderson, in about a decade. And the reason isn't just because the Democrats lost the White House. It isn't just because the Democrats lost control of the, it didn't get back control of the Senate, they don't have control of the House of Representatives, but it's because of the way that the Democrats have lost across the country. Governors' mansions, state legislatures. They are simply depleted.

And so, the people who want to be the DNC chair are going to make the case or why and more importantly how the Democrats are going to come back from that, how are they going to rebuild? And it really is almost rebuilding from the ground up. And there are lots of different directions they can go and these candidates are going to make their case as to which way that will be.

COOPER: And what do you expect tonight. And so, who finally makes the decision about who becomes the DNC chair? I mean, how it is voted on?

BASH: Great question. The vote is going to be on Saturday. It is the DNC membership that casts the votes. And, that is going to happen, you know, a lot of jockeying back and forth. But a lot of it is going to be what they hear on this stage tonight, and what they hear from sort of membership and their friends and the Grassroots activists back home who are watching tonight. Because, it is, as I said, it's all about kind of the chewing and following about which way the party should go, should it go in the direction of kind of the younger Grassroots activists, those who supported Bernie Sanders, for example? Or should it go in the more traditional, establishment vein that supported Hillary Clinton and, frankly, at least in recent years Barack Obama. So those are the questions that they're asking.

[20:55:27] And also, can they figure out a way to harness the very real activism that is happening. And you've been showing it all day long, the Town Halls, Democrats or activists coming out, really railing against Donald Trump. How is that going to happen? And how are they going to figure out how to take that and turn it into people going to the voting booths, not just in four years but in two years when we're talking about the mid-term elections.

COOPER: Dana, you've been fascinating. We'll be watching 10:00 Eastern time tonight. Thanks.

Be sure to stay tune, Dana and Chris moderate the Democratic leadership debate, as I said 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Just an hour ahead, in the next hour of 360, angry constituents sharing their concerns at GOP Town Halls. Some heated exchanges as well happening tonight. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Top of this hour 360. Breaking news on the long-anticipated new travel ban from the Trump White House and when it could arrive. Also the administration pulling back protections for transgender students and, well, the action revolves (ph) us around which bathroom students may use in schools, it also speaks the interpretation of a landmark piece of anti-discrimination law and Title IX and covers far more than that. CNN Sarah Murray joins us now from the White House.

So what's the latest we're hearing from the administration tonight?