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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Intel Committee Agrees on Parameters of Russia Probe; Trump Speech to Congress Drawing Praise, Skepticism; Interview with Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Widow Of Fallen Seal Steps Into Spotlight; Van Jones: Trump "Became President In that Moment"; Soon: Town Hall With Sens. McCain & Graham; Pres. Trump On Anti- Semitic Violence; How The Speech Played In Iowa. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 1, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks very much for joining you.
A big night ahead. You see it there, I want to show it to you. Final preparations under way at George Washington University for a CNN town hall featuring Senate Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain. It gets under way a little less than an hour from now. We'll have an update on that coming up.
But we begin tonight with breaking news. Bipartisan agreement on one thing Donald Trump did not mention last night in his big speech to Congress, the question of Russia and specifically the extent of contact between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Just moments ago, we learned that the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee have agreed on the parameters of their investigation.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now from the White House with the breaking news.
So, the House Intelligence Committee just announced details regarding the investigation into any potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. What exactly are they going to do at this, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They did, Anderson. And they are basically agreeing on the fact that there will be an investigation. This is significant for this reason. You know, for so many weeks now, they've been talking about, was there anything that was nefarious here? We don't know the answer to that question.
But tonight, the committee is saying that they will look into several questions and we're just getting this from the committee tonight. But a couple questions I want to talk about is what's Russia's cyber activity was actually involved in this, what active measures were used against the U.S.
So, this is a bipartisan investigation into this that, you know, really any conversation here at the White House, they're always accusing Democrats of pushing this. But tonight, we're hearing for the first time that Republicans as well want to look into this.
So, these parameters, which are pretty vague, really, just looking into the confines of this, are, you know, signaling that they are going to investigate what could be an issue with Russia here. So, the beginnings of an investigation, but the problem here is for the Trump administration, this could last for a long time.
ZELENY (voice-over): As President Trump basked in the glow of his big speech do Congress --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
ZELENY: -- the hard work of turning those promises into reality was the first order of business today at the White House, with the president sitting down for lunch with Republican congressional leaders.
TRUMP: We're just here to start the process. It begins as of now and we think we're going to have tremendous success.
ZELENY: Yet tremendous success depends not only on Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, but on persuading the party's rank and file to pay for his agenda. The president delayed again today the signing of a travel ban to replace the one blocked in the courts.
CNN has learned the secretary of state, defense secretary, and national security adviser are all pushing for Iraq to be removed from the list of majority Muslim countries included in the ban. But in most of his primetime address, the president struck a more optimistic note.
TRUMP: A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. S
ZELENY: But it remains an open question whether it was a lasting pivot or a one-90 night performance after a rough start to his presidency.
In either case, his wish list is an expensive and complicated one, even among Republicans, not to mention Democrats who are largely resisting the Trump agenda. From healthcare --
TRUMP: We should ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to coverage and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.
ZELENY: To tax reform.
TRUMP: It will be a big, big cut. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.
ZELENY: To infrastructure.
TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States.
ZELENY: After the speech, Speaker Ryan offered praise but walked away when asked about the price tag.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I thought he did a great job.
ZELENY (on camera): Did he answer questions of how he would pay for things tonight?
ZELENY: So, Speaker Ryan obviously did not answer than question. But, Anderson, other fiscal conservatives we talked to said the president simply left out how he would pay for all this.
Now, the question is, can the president bring his supporters along in all these districts to bring their members of Congress along?
The answer to that probably is yes, but for now, so much skepticism about how much all of this will cost.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, clearly, you know, as been talked about, the president striking a different tone in last night's speech. Do we know how big a role he actually played, if any, in writing it?
ZELENY: Well, sure. He played a bill role in writing this.
But, Anderson, I am told also that Ivanka Trump, his daughter, of course, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, played a key role in writing this as well. They viewed that this was a reset opportunity, a moment to sort of change the conversation. So, this was all part of, you know, what he was intending to do here.
[20:05:02] And they viewed this as a major success.
Now, but it's important, I think, to take a bigger view of all of this. He didn't change policies all that much. If you look at the speech, if you listen to the speech, basically the same Donald Trump. The volume perhaps not as high here, so the Steven Bannons, the Steven Millers of the world who are pushing the president toward maybe a different world view still got their points in.
But think that the other side of the White House here -- Ivanka Trump, of course, was key to her father's legacy -- made this a bit softer, which is one of the reasons I think he got such high marks last night -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much.
Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, it's safe to say, not a fan of the speech last night. He's a retired marine. He spent four tours of duty in Iraq, has taken strong exception to the president's remarks about not winning wars anymore.
Congressman Moulton joins us now. I want to get your reaction to, first of all, to this news to the House Intelligence Committee that just broke that they agreed on the scope for their investigation to Russian involvement in last year's election. How confident are you in this investigation? I mean, the parameters have now been jointly agreed upon by the chairman who's a Republican and the ranking member as a Democrat.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, that's right, Anderson. It is very significant that the Republicans are finally coming along and recognizing the threat that this poses to our democracy and to our national security to have Russia meddling in our elections.
But it's important to understand that these parameters refer to a classified document that the American public won't see for another 50 or 75 years. This entire investigation that takes place on the intelligence committee will be classified. So this is an important step in the right direction, but it doesn't solve the problem. We all deserve answers, the American public deserves answers, and that's only going to come from a bipartisan, independent commission like we had after 9/11.
COOPER: In terms of the press's speech last night, I know you took a lot of issue on policy positions that he outlined not saying how it's going to be paid for. The fact that the criticism has been about his messaging, how it's uneven, at times controversial, do you give him any credit for a measured approach last night or for not veering off script?
MOULTON: I mean, look, the bar is so very low, Anderson. He got up there, he was able to string several complete sentences together from teleprompter and not offend half the world, and so, we're excited and people think it was a great speech.
But it was a hallow speech. He doesn't have any plan to pay for the things that he's proposing. It was a speech to a House of Representatives I never seen more divided. I mean, just literally physically sitting there, the Republicans were all on one side, and the Democrats were all on the other. That was never the case when President Obama delivered his State of the Union Addresses, even just recently when the Congress has been so divided. Democrats and Republicans, we always sat together.
So, this is a very different situation than what people are making it out to be in the news today. It's a very divided Congress because of a very divisive president, and just because had he some nice rhetoric last night, doesn't mean that anything's going to change.
COOPER: When he said the time for trivial fights is behind us, do you think the president has any idea that he himself as president has engaged in trivial fights?
MOULTON: He's done it from the start of his campaign. And the fact that he says something last night that sounded good doesn't really mean much because we know that the president say serial liar. And the problem is we just don't even know when the president is telling the truth or when he's saying something that he actually believes. So, he has to follow this up with action. If he wants to have an
infrastructure plan that's supported by Democrats and Republicans, he has to have a plan to pay for it. If he wants to reform healthcare, then he has to have a plan to replace Obamacare. The only point that he made last night that really resonated with people was the idea that his new plan would take care of preexisting conditions. Well, that's the hallmark of Obamacare itself.
So, there was a lot of nice rhetoric but I have to see the plan before we can see if Democrats and Republicans will be able to come together and work with one of the most -- look, absolutely the most divisive president in modern history.
COOPER: You gave a response last night in YouTube, and in it, you said that it's true we face real problems in America today but that doesn't mean America should shrink from its role as a global leader. I mean, much of what the president said on the campaign trail, talked about NATO, taking Iraq's oil, his cabinet secretaries are saying very contradictory things, the opposite essentially. We're not going to take the oil. We embrace NATO.
Do you think anyone really knows what the president's foreign policy is going to look like at this stage?
MOULTON: No. And I was talking with NATO leaders over at the Munich security conference with Senator McCain a couple of weekends ago, and, you know, the vice president came and said things that completely contradicted what the president was saying that very week. Secretary of Defense Mattis the same thing.
So, no one knows who to believe. So, it's all well and good that people like Secretary Mattis whom I deeply respect and trust go over and say the right things. But if his boss continues to say the wrong things and clearly doesn't listen to the secretary of defense when it matters like in putting out this travel ban, then who are we to believe?
[20:10:05] That doesn't give anybody confidence, that doesn't give me confidence as a member of Congress and, by the way, a member of Congress who's made a real point of working across the aisle. I was named the vice chair of the bipartisan working group here in the House.
So, it doesn't give me confidence and it doesn't give confidence to our world leaders, you know?
And the other thing, Anderson, is that there are a lot of problems that we have to address as a country. The economic recovery under President Obama was absolutely remarkable, but there were parts of the country even in my own district that were left out. So, we should be talking about how we involve everybody in America in the future of work, in the new economy. We didn't hear anything about that from President Trump last night.
COOPER: Congressman Moulton, I appreciate your time. Thank you. I want to quickly return to the breaking news. Democratic strategist
Paul Begala joins us, so does New York 1 political anchor Errol Louis, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord is here, senior contributor to the "American Spectator", perhaps you haven't heard he's also veteran to the Reagan White House. Margaret Hoover is a Republican consultant, and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany is a contributor to "The Hill".
Kirsten, how significant is it that the House Intelligence Committee has put out these parameters? Because they're pretty vague, they are pretty broad and they include the idea of investigating leaks. This is what the White House --
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's one of the most significant aspects of it is, I think, you know, they're going to look at what cyber activity was directed at the USA, what were the connections between any political campaigns in the U.S. and Russia and what the U.S. government's response to it. But the last one is what possible leaks of classified information took place in relation to the intelligence committee assessment.
And the chairman, Chairman Nunes, the Republican chair of the committee, House Intelligence Committee, has made very clear that that's his number one priority. He considers those major crimes and has said pretty much he's seen no evidence of any connections made between the Trump political people and Russia. And so, but like we just heard, this isn't going to be a public --
POWERS: -- a public process anyway. So, I think that it will probably behoove all of us to, you know, to have a more public process so that people could feel that these questions were answered satisfactorily. It doesn't give me a lot of comfort to know that it will just be done in the sort of political process.
COOPER: It will be interesting to see, Errol, if the president can resist commenting on this, whether he decides to comment on it or not. You know, obviously, today, they're sort of trying to bask in the glow of last night's speech.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. If they can stay focused and stay away the temptation to comment on this, they may be able to let the process proceed without sort of riling things up.
COOPER: You're using the royal "they", you mean the president? If he can resist commenting --
LOUIS: When I say they, I don't mean just him because it's not just the president and his Twitter account. I mean, I think he's got advisors who are sort of nudging him to sort of say different things, we know that. There were other staff members who tried to sort of nudge the FBI and push them out there and have them trying to spin the story a little bit. That's going to backfire because you've got a competition going on.
You've got a Senate Intelligence Committee. You've got the media who are looking at this. You've got people who appear ready to leak and talk to the media.
So, there's going to be a lot of different eyes on this topic. They're all going to be trying to keep each other honest and the president can only harm himself I think by leaping into the middle of that.
COOPER: We're going to bring the full panel in right after the break. A closer look at everything he left out of his speech also ahead.
And later, what Van Jones saw last night, what he said last night, why he now says and these are his words tonight, the Trump, quote, "virus has mutated" into something he means far more dangerous for Democrats. He'll explain that ahead.
And also the top of the hour, you see the preparations there. CNN town hall with two Republican skeptics of the president, I think it's fair to say, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
[20:17:18] COOPER: We've been talking tonight about President Trump's speech to Congress. The president in the words of one "New York Times" reporter seemed to accept the fetters of formality of the office, and somewhat less fettered language, it means he adopted a far different tone than we've seen before. That much stood out.
So, do things that were not there, namely a whole collection of favorite topics and familiar mannerisms that we've come to associate with the president and before that, with the Donald Trump the candidate. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are, they are the enemy of the people.
I made a speech, I looked out, the field was -- it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.
Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years.
North Korea is a big, big problem and we will deal with that very strongly. It would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that.
I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: And back with the panel.
Paul Begala, it's so interesting, you know, today, they were supposed to release the new executive order on, you know, what states they were going to ban immigrants from temporarily. And I guess they delayed that because they wanted to kind of bask in the glow of last night's speech. What's so weird to me about that, though, I mean, I get it from a political standpoint but the whole original executive order was sold on that it had to be done then and there because this was a national security priority because so many bad terrorists were coming in, were sneaking in with these people that have visas and now they're like oh we can hold it for a couple days.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, we're getting good press.
I suspect that the courts will note that as well, because they want -- the courts should give the president deference on national security measures. They really should. But here, now, they've injected politics into it. They said the timing is being manipulated for political gain.
I was struck by that piece of how we have defined the presidency downward. You know, my old mentor, former client Zell Miller, was governor of Georgia and senator, he used to say, "A single rose does not a summer make." So, a single good speech does not a presidency make.
And yes, he went an entire hour they tell me without saying anything racist. He didn't insult anybody's sensibility, didn't mock a POW, he didn't even grab any of the congresswomen by their privates.
So, quick, let's reelect him. So (INAUDIBLE) to be skeptical.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hyperbole. That's like as much hyperbole from Paul Begala as we get from Donald Trump.
COOPER: But, Jeffrey, on the executive order, why now is it okay to delay it because of last night's speech when before, it had to be rushed. And, not only that, once they've actually now had some, you know, the secretary of state and the national security adviser and secretary of defense weigh in on it, lo and behold, they're not going ban people from Iraq after all.
[20:20:10] JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's the answer to your first question. I think there was back and forth internally within the administration.
COOPER: You don't think it was delayed as we were talking last night because --
LORD: Sure. I mean, this is Washington, D.C. and horrors, there's politics in Washington. But I do think that there's something going on here -- COOPER: Doesn't it put the lie to the negotiation that this was such
a priority --
LORD: Not if you're dealing with cabinet members, serious cabinet members who are saying we need to change the policy.
COOPER: There are serious terrorists coming in with current visa holders.
HOOVER: They haven't been making that point consistently anyway because the whole thing is on ice because of the courts and all this time, it's on the courts. I mean, Donald Trump has made one or two statements accusing the -- that independent branch of government of maybe putting the United States security at risk. But largely, that's not part of their messaging anymore.
And so, see, it strikes me more as a decision made because the administration wasn't ready, it sounds like there's enough internal dissent that it made sense to kick the can down the road until everybody is on the same page. They do have a national security adviser.
HOOVER: I mean, he has too weigh in, his opinion matters. And, by the way, he's a guy with a strong opinion.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And speaking to the urgency of this -- I mean, I think that logic still makes sense because say they put this out today before they excluded Iraq from the list of countries if they didn't make it perfect this time and it got struck down by a court yet again, then we would be look at a third executive order. That would take another month to do. So, I think this entirely fits the urgency narrative of we have to get this right and if Iraq needs to be excluded, they need to be excluded.
COOPER: But why not show the executive order the first time to the secretary of state?
COOPER: Or to the, you know, Department of Defense?
MCENANY: It should have been done that way. It absolutely should have been done that way, and I think this time, they have to be perfect, they have to get it exactly right because they can't have a second executive order struck down.
LORD: And it would have helped to have Jeff Sessions in place, which he was not at that moment, I don't believe.
COOPER: How much of a honeymoon does a -- or do you want to talk about that? Or how much of or the speech, what are you -- POWERS: I just think that because of the way that they've handled it
and because of also all of the things that Donald Trump has already said, they're already in the public record about Muslims, it doesn't matter how many times they rewrite it. I don't know how a court is going to ignore the intent coming from the words about the Muslim ban.
So, you know, it's good that they're taking time to try to get it right, but I think his rhetoric has caught up with him and it's going to be hard to overcome that because the intent was already sort of put out there that this was to keep Muslims out of the United States.
LORD: Except 90 percent of the Muslim world is not included in there.
POWERS: Well, you can make the argument, certainly, that that's the effect, and that's the problem -- that argument was actually made the last time around, but the point is they look at the intent. If you're talking about what the Establishment Clause and Due Process Clause, and they will look at the intent and his intent was very clear --
MCENANY: But the Ninth Circuit didn't rule on intent. And if you go back to the decision, they say we're not going to rule on intent today. We'll leave that aside and there's an argument to be made his intent was to do just as Obama did, target the same seven countries Obama's Department of Homeland Security targeted.
COOPER: Regarding the speech last night, do you think President Trump takes -- you know, sees the nice reviews he got, reads, you know, whatever he reads, a positive praise on it and takes that as a reason to be kind of move forward with kind of that version of President Trump last night or not? I mean, do you think this actually last? Do you think we'll see this president again?
LORD: I think there's a mistake being made here in assuming that president of the United States is not that personality of a president. I mean, there's no way in the world, looking at my friend Paul Begala, that Bill Clinton was not going to be Bill Clinton in the White House or Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama.
Donald Trump is going to be Donald Trump. And in these clips that we've seen and this campaign you've seen, the whole totality of it. Some people like some of it, some people hate some of it, others love it.
The point is, he's Donald Trump, and you're going to see this in and out throughout his entire term. He's not going to change being Donald Trump, nor, would I say, should he.
BEGALA: I think that's right. The presidency doesn't usually change the occupant but it magnifies.
BEGALA: Both for good and for real. And so, I think last night, he did a very good job. I don't think that's what you're going to see for the next 1,420 days. MCENANY: But to Anderson's point, the poll numbers will affect him.
The CNN viewership which said, you know, 78 percent viewed it as positive, I think that gets through to President Trump. Wow, I have 80 percent --
COOPER: I've got to point out the irony of them embracing CNN poll numbers. Sean Spicer tweeted out, I think, CNN poll numbers. I mean -- what a difference.
COOPER: But, I mean, still, for, you know -- you know.
HOOVER: For fake news.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, all of a sudden, when the polls are good, they love that poll.
HOOVER: Look, he did so much to shore up. I mean, the major victory here I think was shore up his right flank. You're going to see Lindsey Graham and tonight and John McCain tonight and what are they going to do? They're going to be a lot more tempered than they would have been had he not had --
COOPER: That will be one thing to watch for tonight.
[20:25:02] That starts in just 35 minutes.
A lot more to talk about. A grieving widow brought to tears by President Trump's tribute to her husband, Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. New details about how she ended up in the spotlight last night.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: One of the most memorable moments of President Trump's speech to Congress came near the end when he addressed Carryn Owens, the widow of Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL who was killed in a raid that Mr. Trump authorized six days into his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That standing ovation lasted for two minutes, the longest applause in the evening. Until that moment, Carryn Owens had mostly stayed out of the spotlight, unlike her father-in-law who had publicly said he refused to meet with President Trump and wants an investigation of the operation in which his son was killed.
Suzanne Malveaux tonight has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens and fiancee Carryn Wygen (ph), married in 2004 near her hometown of Fairfax, Virginia, she was doing intelligence work for the government and he was serving as a Navy S.E.A.L. Both based in San Diego according to her alma mater the University of Virginia.
[20:30:18] Four years prior Carryn was captain of the soccer teem as UVA where she earned a degree in education. The couple would go on to have three children and eventually move to Peoria, Illinois near where Ryan Owens grew up and graduated high school.
Owens had wanted to become a Navy S.E.A.L. since his freshman year in high school according to the Chicago Tribune. In 2003, he got his wish.
But on January 29th, 14 years later, he would go on his last mission. Deployed to Yemen in the first military operation under Pres. Donald Trump, he was killed in a mission targeting an Al-Qaeda compound. The next day Trump called his widow.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president also had a very somber and lengthy conversation with the family of Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens. The president offered his sincerest condolences to offer Owens wife, his father, and their three children.
MALVEAUX: We know now that on that same call Pres. Trump invited Carryn to be his guest at last night's speech, according to the White House.
Two days after the call Pres. Trump and his daughter Ivanka met Carryn for the first time when her husband's body was flown to Dover Air Force base. But Carryn's father-in-law refused to meet the president that day questioning the decision to launched the controversial raid that killed his son telling the Miami Herald, "I told them I didn't want to make a scene about it but my conscience wouldn't let me talk to him."
President Trump responded to his absence this way.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), U.S. PRESIDENT: And I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in and it was very sad with the family and it's a great family, incredible wife and children. I met most of the family. And I can understand people saying that I'd feel, you know, I'd feel what's worse? There's nothing worse.
MALVEAUX: With clear differences in the Owens' family and the details emerging of how a young widow came into the spotlight only heightening the drama of this fitting trip tribute to an American hero. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: As we said at the moment Pres. Trump paid tribute to Navy S.E.A.L. Ryan Owens and perhaps just an importantly (inaudible) and emotional response was extraordinary from last night's speech, probably the most extraordinary moment. Here's what CNN political commentator a Democrat we should point out, Van Jones, said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He became president of the United States in that moment, period. There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful with him, to be mad at him, but that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I wanted to talk more with Van Jones about what he said last night and what he thinks tonight. He joins us now.
So, obviously that was a very strong statement you made last night. You had you some time to think about it. Do you still believe what you said?
JONES: Yeah, absolutely. Listen, you have -- before you had two different Trumps. Had you Twitter Trump who was terrible, and then you had teleprompter Trump which was kind of embarrassingly bad but not always terrible. You now have a third Trump in performance and that was an actual, passable Presidential Trump. The speech was not the carnage and whatever, it was uplifting. He did it well. He did things you haven't seen him do, things that presidents do, like using American stories to advance a narrative.
COOPER: I mean, obviously his referencing Carryn Owens and the sacrifice of her husband, I mean, that's something many presidents ...
COOPER: ... have done before.
JONES: Like for instance having more than one emotion, like, you know, raw terror and anger being your only emotion and suddenly he had a different emotional repertoire (ph).
So here's the thing. As a Democrat, when you see a sudden improvement, you have to take that seriously. I think Dem -- I think the virus has mutated. I think that he ...
COOPER: The virus being the president.
JONES: The Trump virus.
JONES: Yes. What I would call the Trump virus has mutated and I think that liberals have been counting on him to every time he presents himself to be some version of a clown or a cartoon villain and suddenly last night he didn't do it and he looked like a president.
Now, that's a low bar, we've had 40 plus presidents some of them were terrible, but he suddenly looked like a president. He knows how do something he did not know how to do before and the liberals have to take that very, very seriously and they don't want to.
COOPER: It's interesting, you know, Steve Bannon made a lot of news when he said in some interviewer that, you know, the media should shut up or close their mouths or whatever it was, stop talking, that got a lot of attention. The other part of thing he said which didn't get a lot of attention was that, so many people got it wrong during the election that people in the media need to listen more.
[20:35:17] JONES: Yes.
COOPER: I actually think that's very true. I think it's something you've been doing a lot, going out on the road, listening to people with your towns hall, and that's the truth. Is that something -- I mean that seems like an echo of that message to liberals you're saying they need to listen more to what's actually going on out there.
JONES: Listen, because of the messy truth I've been able to go out there, I've been in all the swing states, I was just down in Arizona and I'm starting to hear a little bit more of what the people who like Trump get. I think the liberals are doing this thing of saying, we are going to put him on trial about protocol and politeness. There's a protocol for talking to journalists and he's not doing it, for judges and for spies and for the -- and we're going to put him on trial about protocol and politeness.
He is running a movement based on pride and prosperity. It's a completely different appeal. And so, that I think creates this -- you know, this mess where the liberals are out there protesting and the independents are moving his way. And then guess what? It's even worse than that. He may take the protocol card away. He may actually start following the protocol. So then the liberals are going to get beaten not just because we can't compete with him on pride and prosperity, but we can't just demonize him on protocol. And I'm -- listen, I've been screaming about Trump for two years.
I don't think the liberals understand him and once again I think liberals are in grave danger of missing the whole plot until it's too late.
COOPER: Van Jones, thanks very much.
We're just minutes away at the top of the hour. CNN is hosting a town hall with Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, five weeks into the Trump presidency.
They continue to be a time (inaudible) in Pres. Trump side, breaking with the White House on a range of issues. Dana Bash is monitoring the town hall. She joins me now.
Dana, I mean, neither of these senators is afraid to say what they think certainly even if it angers ... DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.
COOPER: ... members of their own party. What do you expect to hear tonight?
BASH: You're exactly right. You know, he was according to John McCain and the people around him he was kind of the original maverick back in the day and that is certainly still the case. Even in -- I would say especially with Donald Trump in the White House.
The fact of the matter is as you've been talking about all night, the president laid out a very specific agenda last night but one that really does diverge from the conservative ideals that we've heard for so, so many years particularly as it relates to what John McCain and Lindsey Graham see.
When you're talking about the world and the global perspective and policies, I mean they could not be more different. So when Pres. Trump talks about nationalism, talks about turning inward, not spending so much time, money, and American blood overseas, that is not something necessarily that Republicans like Lindsey Graham and John McCain and frankly led by John McCain and Lindsey Graham agree with.
So we're going to be talking a lot about America's place in the world, on the world stage and many other topics to discuss at this town hall tonight.
COOPER: All right, I look forward to it. Dana, thanks very much. That's starting in about 22 minutes from now. After desecration a Jewish cemeteries any rush (ph) of treats against Jewish schools and community centers, a close look at the messages from coming from the president and those who know.
COOPER: Over the past several weeks there have been at least a hundred bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and schools in 33 states. Tonight we're looking to response from the president and some of his supporters. One of the president's advisers, Anthony Scaramucci tweeted this yesterday, "It's not yet clear who the JCC offenders are. Don't forget the Democrat's efforts to incite violence at Trump rallies." On new day today, Scaramucci said this about that tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP ADVISER: I'm not suggesting that Democrats were behind it, what I was suggesting in that tweet is that we actually don't know who's behind it and so what you're finding there's a lot of allegations being made and I think people are suggesting potentially that it can be Trump supporters behind it or people that are affiliated with the president or his administration. I think that's categorically very unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We invited Mr. Scaramucci to be on the program tonight, he accepted, and then he cancelled. As for the message coming from the president himself, Mr. Trump met yesterday with State Attorney's General, one of them Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro asked about bomb threats against Jewish schools and desecration of a Jewish cemetery in his home state.
Shapiro says the president told him that you have to be careful because the reverse can be true which Shapiro took as the president suggesting the treats and vandalism could be done to make others look bad. Later that night, though, the president said this in his speech to Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forums.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, back with the panel and joining the conversation is Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and National Director of the Anti- Defamation League.
Jonathan, let me start with you. I mean, there's two things I really want to ask you about. President's very clear statement last night in his speech and then the comments he apparently made to attorneys generals from various states earlier in the day in which he talked about the reverse possibly being true. How do you reconcile the two? What you make of them?
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR: Look, the comments were alleged. It's not clear exactly what he said. It's completely unclear what he meant, but I think we should focus on how he opened his speech last night to the first Joint session of Congress. He could have sent signals about many things but he chose to focus on fighting Anti-Semitism and hate. We really welcome that. That was a notable change from what we've seen. It was incredibly meaningful.
Now the question is, Anderson, how he will pivot from words to action?
COOPER: You know, during the press conference I can't remember if it was last week or two weeks ago, a reporter from a Jewish publication asked the president about Anti-Semitism and the president clearly took it as some sort of personal slight or suggestion that he was somehow not doing enough and said, you know, he's -- the least Anti-Semitic person, you know, you've ever met.
[29:45:14] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
COOPER: It is odd how personally he seems to view these questions, even, as an assault on himself. KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I guess you can understand it. Anybody would not want to be accused of being Anti- Semitic and he certainly has been accused of at least having, you know, supporters who are Anti-Semitic having retweeted a white supremacist so -- the promises and so on. So he has been associated with Anti-Semitism. I'd be defensive if someone accused me of that. That personal wasn't accusing him of that. So that's what's strange, but it shows it's gotten to him and it really bothers him.
And I would be interested to know what kind of conversation he had after, perhaps with Ivanka about how he treated that reporter because it was really pretty shameful the way he treated him, considering that also was asking intentionally asking him pretty a nice question.
So, but, look, even what, you know, Anthony Scaramucci was saying even he sort of clean up, still is like, the idea that, you know, he just said it because people are making accusations so then he just made some false accusation against Democrats. I mean he actually was suggesting ...
COOPER: Right, you don't need to ...
COOPER: I mean, Errol, you don't need two separate ideas unless you are actually making comparison between those ideas.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. And we should, you know, note for the record that it was a reference to sort of a nonexistent conspiracy of Democrats to form violence at rallies earlier in the campaign season.
So, you know, this is the kind of messaging that if they want the glow from last night to really last they're going to have to get a hold of, they're going to have to sort of rein people when stop with the Twitter and back and forth and have conspiracy theories and try to sort to have a consistent message. I mean, it was wonderful that they led this speech off with this call that everybody have said the president was overdue to make. It felt a little bit like it was pasted on at the last minute, but that's fine. It was the right thing to say. He said it early on, it sent a clear message. If they want that to sort of be the final message they're going to have to quiet everybody else down.
COOPER: Jeff, and why not have had that message earlier and repeatedly because clearly I mean, I think it's -- I think what the president said last night is a reflection of how he actually ...
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it goes to what Kirsten is saying. I really do think he is offended at the notion that people would consider him to be Anti-Semitic.
No I think he's really offended by it. And so when that reporter stood up and asked what was from his point of view an innocent question I think the president jumped to the conclusion that's where he was going and he wasn't going to having any of that. And so, therefore, I think you saw this in the beginning of that speech in the state of the union because (inaudible) and his mind he wanted to put this to rest once and for all and do something about it.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And his response to that reporter, by the way, bears mentioning came 24 hours after another reporter in a separate incident, separate question basically said, you know, there are people in Israel who view you as racist and xenophobic, and then you had the Prime Minister Netanyahu who stand beside him and said known Pres. Trump my whole life. This man is none of those things.
So it came 24 hours after that really defensive question was asked, into Jeff's point I think his head immediately went to this is similar question that I was asked yesterday.
GREENBLATT: Can I just say like I appreciate again when he said last night, but the people who should be defensive here is not the president. There have been over 100 bomb threats to Jewish institutions in the past two months. We're talking about preschool age children being pulled out of communities.
LORD: One in my hometown over the weekend.
GREENBLATT: My office got a bomb threat last week. In my office in San Francisco I got a bomb treat on Monday night. So the real issue here is how does the president pivot from words to actions?
COOPER: What do you want to see him doing?
GREENBLATT: We'd like to see number one, the Department of Justice launch a fully resourced civil rights investigation so the culprits are brought to justice. Number two, we want to see the president convene a interagency task force maybe the AG could (inaudible) it. But I think there's a need to get all the federal agencies folks on how you fight hate. Number three, Homeland Security should clarify that their program in countering violent extremism it's not going to be reduced to just radical Islam.
COOPER: Which is what the current idea.
GREENBLATT: It's a problem but let me be clear. Neo-Nazi's and white supremacists the Alt-Right, that is a big problem as well. Number four, it's crucial that the FBI get state and local law enforcement trained up on how to deal with hate crimes. And then finally, I think education is the best preventative medicine. So Betsy DeVos, Department of Education should emphasize the value of anti bias, anti hate education. They have perfect name (ph) for the budget.
COOPER: You know, Paul, since Jonathan brings up the idea of not just focusing on, you know, radical Islam and the threat, terror threat to the U.S., and very real treats from white supremacists which we have seen time and time again over the decades, that is something that this White House is planning to do, to kind of refocus the office which traditionally has dealt with all extremism just on radical ...
PAUL BEGAL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I do think that we do need to be clear about words. Words have meaning. Terrorism has a definition and it is not attacks by Muslims against non-Muslims. The definition of terrorism is the use of violence or treats against civilians to pursue a political lane. Those three things happened at everyone of the 100 treats against JC Centers, Jewish Community Centers, they should be called acts of terrorism because they are. And our president who spoke wonderfully about it last night should do everything Jonathan just suggested and act on this.
[20:50:24] He's setting up a new office in the Justice Department to focus on victims of crime committed by undocumented immigrants, even though immigrants have a lower crime rate than the native born population. Why not expand that focus to this incredible sad new epidemic?
COOPER: And we've seen this, I mean, under the Obama administration as well. We've seen rise in the source (ph) of hate crimes.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, and what we know is when the president of the United States comes out and speaks strongly about something, it helps change the tone, right? So that's why it was so important that he started this speech last night. That's why we'd hope (ph) as he continues to -- I mean, look, to say actions also matter when he does and pursue, but -- if he continues to toe this line, to speak strongly against -- not only, you know, terrible things said against the Jewish community but also about the Muslim community. There have been four attacks on mosques in the last two weeks as well. I mean, a president and a leader needs to speak strongly about securing the safety of all Americans, including Muslim Americans.
POWERS: Yeah, and there were Indians.
HOOVER: Indian American ...
COOPER: ... mentioned last night.
POWERS: Yeah, you know, killed because one of them was killed, one of them was injured because somebody thought that they were Muslims, you know. I mean, these are really serious, scary crimes that need to be addressed.
MCENANY: I agree about the importance of speaking out against all violence 100 percent. There's no place in society for it. But, you know, a lot of the Democratic arguments being made now about speaking out about certain (inaudible) the violence, Republicans were making just a year ago, two years ago when they said, you know, Pres. Obama, please speak out about the number of police officers killed in the line of duty, how that number is going up continually. So the same sort of logic was used by Republican commentators four years ago, one year ago.
BEGALA: But that's not political violence. That is horrible. We should speak out against. But that's crime. Unless there's a group, and there might be, purposefully targeting cops, and that is terrorism. But I do, that's why I think we should be precise about our language. Dylann Roof is a terrorist. He attacked people for political end. And we should call him a terroris. And we tend to not use that word against people who are not Muslims.
COOPER: I want to thank everybody in the panel.
Coming up, America uncovered. After campaigning heavily in Iowa and winning the state by nine points, more people in Iowa now disapprove than approve of the job the president is doing. The recent polling, this polling down before last night's speech, we should point out.
We'll hear what voters in Iowa thought of the president's speech.
And stay tuned at the top of the hour for the CNN Town Hall, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. We'll be right back.
[20:56:21] COOPER: In tonight's America uncovered, we're going to hear from voters in Iowa, a state where Pres. Trump won by nine percentage points, but the state where he's underwater in job approval. In a February poll by the Des Moines Register, 49 percent of Iowans disapprove the job the president is doing, 42 percent approve. Gary Tuchman spoke with voters in Iowa to find out what they though about his speech last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Conway, Iowa, opinions about Pres. Donald Trump's performance last night are piling up like these mountains of corncobs. The safety director of the Green Products Company voted for Donald Trump. And Jeff Martin who also happens to be Mayor of Conway was keenly interested in the president's speech last night.
JEFF MARTIN, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I feel like he was presidential. I feel like, you know, obviously, he did read from the teleprompter and used notes, which I think is fine. Presidents do that when they do speeches, and I think sticking to that is a good thing.
TUCHMAN: Do you think he's capable of continuing to stick to it?
MARTIN: I think he is.
TUCHMAN: We watched the speech last night in nearby Marshalltown. While Trump voters in the Calvin Rockett bar were mostly optimistic about the Trump presidency.
DEREK SHIELDS, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think he's tried to do what he said he was going to do, and I approve of that.
TUCHMAN: There were also concerns about how his term has started.
ZACH PAPPAS, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: Some of his decisions, I guess, have been a little shaky, I would say.
TUCHMAN: Does that trouble you? PAPPAS: Slightly, yes.
TUCHMAN: What do you think of the job Donald Trump has done in his first month?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's struggling.
TUCHMAN: Has anything in the early part of his presidency concerned you about his behavior, the way he's dealt with certain issues?
MARTIN: Well, a little bit of, you know, some of his communication with the Twitter and I think that he needs to develop some kind of relationship with the media, so it's not such a difficult thing between the two.
TUCHMAN: At the Central Iowa farm store in Marshalltown, all the employees we talked to who said they voted for Pres. Trump. One of them is co-owner, Cherie Casady.
Has there been any point since he's been president where you said to yourself, I'm a little concerned with all the controversy, with all the arguing?
CHERIE CASADY, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: Just about every time he gets on Twitter. I just really wish as president of the United States that he wasn't on Twitter. But that would be about my only concern. I feel like his communication should not be managed through social media.
TUCHMAN: Looking over the new corn planter is her husband Tom the owner of the business who agrees with his wife but wanted to emphasize this.
TODD CASADY, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think Donald Trump has done a tremendous job. He's had a lot of promises through his campaign that he's holding up, and he's getting the job done.
TUCHMAN: Most of the Trump voters we've talked to in this part of Iowa say the president has made mistakes but believe the criticism has been overblown, that people are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Are you disappointed with him at all as president?
MARTIN: Not yet. Not yet.
TUCHMAN: I mean, do you think you could be? Is that why you say not yet?
MARTIN: Well, you know, I think it remains to be seen. Like I said, I think that we need to give him some time and, you know, see where it goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: We talked to quite a few Iowans who voted for Hillary Clinton, Anderson. And many of them said Donald Trump did make a good speech. But precisely none of them said that was extremely significant. One woman telling us that Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, before him all gave lots of great speeches and that's what you would expect from a president, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Gary, thanks very much.
Time now to hand it over to Dana bash. Tonight we have a CNN Town Hall, Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham stats now. Enjoy.