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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump: Kelly Offended Rep. Wilson Listened To Condolence Call; WH: "Impugning" Kelly's Credibility On How To Best Honor Fallen Heroes Is Not Appropriate; Officials: Sgt. Johnson's Body Found Nearly A Mile From Ambush; Senate Panel Spoke To Russia Who Attended Trump Tower Meeting; Trump's Trouble With The Truth; Melania Trump Donates Her Inaugural Ball Gown To The Smithsonian; Never-Before-Seen Photos Of First Lady Michelle Obama. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 20, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:35] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: John Berman here in for Anderson. While the White House says yesterday's statement from Chief of Staff John Kelly should have been the end of the controversy over the president's call to a grieving widow. The president just keeps talking about it and he is continuing the administrations feud with Representative Frederica Wilson who was there for the call. This is what the president said tonight in an interview with Fox News regarding General Kelly's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was so offended because he was in the room when I made the call and -- so with other people. And the call was a very nice call. He was so offended that a woman would be -- that somebody would be listening to that call. He was -- he actually couldn't believe it.
Actually, he said to me, sir, this is not acceptable. This is really not. I was so nice, I was -- look, I've called many people. And I would think that every one of them appreciated it. I was very surprised to see this to be honest with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Meantime, the White House is standing by a false claim that General Kelly made about the congresswoman despite video coming out that 100 percent disproves it. General Kelly one of the attack with a false claim that two years ago Congresswoman Wilson took credit for getting funding for an FBI building. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. Now, she took care of her constituents because she got the money and she just called up Obama. And on that phone call he gave the money, the $20 million to build a building, and she sat down and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The video of the congresswoman's speech came out today and it is really almost completely the opposite in fact and in spirit of what General Kelly described. Jeff Zeleny joins us now with that. Jeff, first of all, Congresswoman Wilson, what did she say two years ago?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you heard those deeply personal comments there from the chief of staff in the White House. But we have a copy of that speech from 2015 from the South Florida "Sun-Sentinel". It's clear he misrepresented her remarks. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: Everyone said that's impossible. It takes at least eight months to a year to complete the process to the House, the Senate, and to the president's office. I said, I'm a school principal, and I said, excuse my friend, oh, hell no. We're going to get this done.
Immediately, I went into attack mode. I went to the speaker, Speaker Boehner, and I said Mr. Speaker, I need your help. The FBI needs your help. And your country needs your help. And we have no time to waste. He went into attack mode, and in two days pulled it out of committee. Brought it to the floor for a vote. Rep. Curbelo and I presented it. We all voted. And I dashed it over to the Senate. And put our senators on notice. Put it on your radar. Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio, who I believe have representatives here today, they hotlined it to the Senate floor in just two days. And guess what? The president signed the bill into law this past Tuesday, April 7, 2015. With a bang, bang, bang!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So right there, John, we heard the congresswoman recounting how she worked with Republicans. John Boehner, speaker of the House at that time worked with other Republicans as well. She praised the FBI officers. And this is about the naming of the building. She was actually not in Congress at the time the building was funded. So the chief of staff was wrong about that.
But John, this sounds to me like most other speeches we hear, a touch of self-congratulation, of course. She was hardly -- the only politician not to do that. But it was not about the funding of the building, just simply calling up and bragging about that.
[21:05:03] BERMAN: No, in fact, there were more minutes spent about the fallen FBI agent than anything else. She asked first responders to stand up, give them applause and she talked about the themes of bravery infidelity (ph) within the FBI itself.
And Jeff, when Sarah Sanders was asked about General Kelly's comments today about the congresswoman, about these comments being inaccurate, what did she say?
ZELENY: Well, she was very defensive about this. And she said they stand by the comments that John Kelly, General Kelly stands by these comments.
Now, look, we do not know if he misremembers this, you know, -- I heard a lot of speeches, of course, but such a personal attack. It was so unusual. But when she was asked again and again about this she was very defensive and said that you should not question a general. She said it was deeply inappropriate to question a four-star general.
Well after this played out for a few hours we actually heard from Sarah Sanders this evening who walked that back somewhat, John. This is what she's telling us tonight in a statement to CNN. She said, "Of course, everyone can be questioned but after witnessing General Kelly's heartfelt and somber account we should all be able to agree that impugning his credibility on how best to honor fallen heroes is not appropriate."
So that, of course, is a response to her saying that reports shouldn't question the general. That created a new fire storm in all of this because generals, of course, are questioned all the time. But he, of course, now is White House chief of staff. That's a political job, John.
BERMAN: Right , and he was being questioned on the facts of what he said about Congresswoman Wilson.
BERMAN: Not about how he believes fallen soldiers should be honored. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.
Lots to talk about now with the panel. Joining me tonight, Bakari Sellers, Michael Shear, Ed Martin, and Bianna Golodryga.
Michael, let me start with you here. As we just heard from Jeff Zeleny, General Kelly, absolutely, a retired marine four-star general, he is also a White House chief of staff, which is a political position. And in either position, even as a general, questions are fair game, correct?
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, look, there's a great tradition of questioning military officials, but you don't even have to go there because when you become -- when you take a position like White House chief of staff, that's a very highly political position. It's a charged position. You're representing yourself as a kind of spokesman for the president of the United States and especially coming out as he did behind the White House podium.
You know, you put yourself out there and you expect questions. And so that whole controversy, many controversy today about whether or not he shouldn't be questioned seems so silly and petty given everything else that's going on this week.
BERMAN: And, Martin, I want to bring you in here, because I just want to get --
ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BERMAN: -- perspective from a supporter of Donald Trump.
BERMAN: General Kelly said some deeply meaningful words about honoring the service of fallen soldiers and Gold Star families here, but he made stuff up about the member of Congress there, correct?
MARTIN: Well, listen, I agree with the previous commentator when he said it seem -- all seems petty and all -- I think, look this congresswoman has shown herself to be exactly why the United States voters are -- any chance they get they are rejecting the politics of the swamp and people. I mean, she took a sacred moment. And she already said, she called herself a rock star. She was happy to say I'm a rock star now. She looked for a way to politicize the death.
BERMAN: So Ed --
MARTIN: It is explicable behavior and all the rest of this --
MARTIN: -- is errors, errors. Errors, errors, and errors. But honestly you're chasing a story when at the center of this is something very sacred.
BERMAN: We'll talk --
BERMAN: We'll talk about whether or not it was appropriate to listen to the phone call or not.
BERMAN: We'll talk about comments that she made or not right now.
MARTIN: OK, good, all right.
BERMAN: But General Kelly said something that was not true about here. Why was that necessary?
MARTIN: Well, look, John, you're -- I mean, if what you want to talk about is how he spoke about her being an empty barrel, I think he was addressing the fact that she politicized it. But if you want to say, let's concede that what he said about her speech was wrong, but then let's go back to saying, why do we have to have this congresswoman politicize a sacred moment? Let's go back to the heart of the matter instead of the extraneous stuff. I just think, yes, OK, look, he might have misspoke about that speech. But now let's get back to why is this congresswoman not called by everyone, despicable? She's not an empty barrel. She's politicizing hateful, demagogue of the worst kind, that's what she is.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I'm not going to even respond to Ed. What I will say, though, is that the heart of the matter is not Frederica Wilson, Representative of the Congress Frederica Wilson. The heart of the moment is the fact that four soldiers in Niger have been murdered. And we need to get to the reason why that was the case. They were ambushed. They were killed. We need to get to the reason why.
But while he's calling her a demagogue and while people on the right are lambasting her character, the fact is that Donald Trump, the president of the United States, has lied about her.
[21:10:01] SELLERS: John Kelly, the chief of staff to the president of the United States, has lied about her. The only person who has actually said the truth about this conversation has been Frederica Wilson. And if we want to have a conversation about why she was listening in, I mean, Ed, what we're going to do is we're going to have respect for each other and I'm going to finish this comment.
MARTIN: I have not interrupted you.
SELLERS: If we want to have a conversation about why she was listening in, then we need to talk about her identity. Her identity is not that of a Democratic congresswoman. Her identity is that of a family friend. She actually knew this sergeant. She was his mentor. She actually sponsored programs that he was a part of. And if you've ever been a part of these conversations, like Representative Wilson has been, she was actually on the phone with his commanding officer who let her listen in. So this was not something in which she demagogue. She actually was a part of this young man's life. And If you want to bastardize her --
MARTIN: I know.
SELLERS: If you want to call -- I'm not done with my thought. If you want to bastardize her, if you want to call her a demagogue, then what we need to do is realize that the only person who was telling the truth in this entire scenario was Representative Frederica Wilson, and you need to call her as such.
BERMAN: Hang on one second, guys. And I want Bianna way on this, because -- Bianna, first of all, I'd like to see you my old friend. Isn't it completely possible that President Trump called this widow with the best of intentions, tried to say something soothing and reassuring but that this woman took it to be offensive? He can be trying to be nice and she could be offended. Both things can happen at the same time, correct?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. And General Kelly said that President Trump said, you know, he signed up for this or he knew what he was getting into. So I don't know why the president denied saying that.
And as soon as I heard those comments, I gave the president the benefit of the doubt. I thought that he made that call with the best of intentions. Saying something along the lines of, you know, your husband knowing how dangerous this would be, did it for love of country. That was my takeaway.
The issue is the only people that matter are the families of those who lost their lives and if for whatever reason they did not walk away from that conversation feeling better, feeling that the president cares about them and their loved one, then that's all that matters.
And the president could have fixed all of this by either picking up the phone and calling her and explaining and apologizing or saying nothing. And instead we see once again it's the reaction that gets us in a tough position whereas we would have not been talking about this right now, we would have been talking about those four brave men who lost their lives and talk about why that happened instead of blaming each other and bringing politics back into the fray.
You know, we spend so much time talking about Russia promulgating fake news and propaganda and I'm sitting here watching this. We're not the only ones talking about this right now. The entire world is watching us, make political gain from either the right or left over those who serve our country, the top 1 percent as General Kelly said. They don't need to make up fake news about what we do. They can go back to their own people and say this is the land of free, the home of the brave, this is how they treat their soldier. This is how they treat those that are willing to sacrifice their lives. It's really upsetting.
BERMAN: In a boring conversation. We're going to continue it right after a quick break.
Also ahead, breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation related to the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had and also the latest from Capitol Hill coming up.
[21:17:13] BERMAN: More on White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defending Chief of Staff John Kelly as false claims about a congresswoman. At the White House today, Sanders basically said Kelly should be off limits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you, but I think that that's -- if you want to get into a debate against a four-star marine general, I think that's something highly inappropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Speaking of generals supposed to being off limits, President Trump has criticized generals repeatedly on Twitter in the past including Martin Dempsey, John Allen and Colin Powell, to name a few.
Back now with the panel. Bianna, I want to start with you this time. Reminder, of course, you were born Russia, a place where questioning authority could get you in serious trouble. Now the suggestion that it shouldn't be done here in the United States. Of course, questioning generals, questioning anybody is what American society is all about.
GOLODRYGA: That's absolutely right. And, look, it was an unfortunate thing for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to say, but having said that, it didn't come across as a talking point. A lot of times she goes up to the podium and reads from something that's clearly scripted and discussed prior to coming out. And looked like that was sort of stream of consciousness. It just came out of her mouth. And you see that she's already responded and walked it back.
So, while it was highly inappropriate and clearly that's not what this country is about, I wouldn't read too much into it because in the past, as you know, this administration typically doubles down on statements that they make and we're seeing sort of the opposite here.
BERMAN: It's a fair point. They don't walk a lot back. The fact they walked this back tells you something.
All right, Michael Shear, on the subject of saying things that were unnecessary, perhaps, today you and a byline on an article when you guys interviewed Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, and she says, "The White House itself is full of white supremacists." This after she suggested that the phrase "empty barrel" was somehow racist. Now we called her off to see if she stood by this comment about the White House being full of white supremacists here, they didn't get back to us yet. So she is suggesting that race is a factor in this dispute?
SHEAR: She is, as our several other folks that we talked to for that story. Look, I think one of the things that is sort of so sad about this tale is that it's a story that has just sort of compounded itself from the beginning over and over again. And there were moments that everybody could have stopped this, right? There was -- After the president was assailed for his initial comments in the call, he went to the cabinet room, he made some comments where he attacked and denied that he had said it. And at that moment had he decided to say, look, you know, let's put this aside, what's really important here is the family that's grieving and all of America grieves with this family. That might have been the end of it.
[21:19:57] Then Congresswoman Wilson, you know, later could have said, you know what, I'm not going to go on television and keep pushing this, but she chose to and Kelly came out and he could have chosen to be not as angry in attack mode as he was. And each time there was a kind of opportunity for this to end, and I think what you see tonight with some of these comments about this being a race issue, I mean, it's just -- you know, it seems like it's determined to keep all of this going. And I talked to somebody at the White House just before coming on tonight who said, look, I'm just sort of speechless to understand how this all got to this point from a moment when a family was really grieving over the loss of a loved one.
BERMAN: That's a fair question. You know, Bakari, could the congresswoman take this as an opportunity maybe deescalate?
SELLERS: Well, I think that all of us need to take this as a moment to deescalate to be completely honest with you. I think that the focus needs to be on these four families. But I don't think we can't forget how we got here. I think that the president of the United States for 12 days did not call these families. He was asked about it. And the first person he dragged into this discussion was that of -- the name of Barack Obama.
Frederica Wilson heard a, congresswoman, heard a conversation and relayed the exact fact of that conversation, the president of the United States and chief of staff lied about it.
But to this conversation about race, that is conversation which most of the panelists on this are going to have some (INAUDIBLE) because it's a fact that our country has yet to deal with. She's actually correct.
The fact of the matter is, the president of the United States finds these individuals which are for him low anti barrels, which are for him low hanging fruit and he attacks them, Jemele hill, for example, Congresswoman Wilson, for example.
What you don't see is, the president of the United States attacking at the forefront, Colin Kaepernick and someone else. You don't see the president of the United States attacking figures who look like him with the same voracity.
The fact of the matter is, the president of the United States has attacked this congresswoman, Jemele Hill and Colin Kaepernick with more voracity and more vigor than he's attacked white supremacists.
BERMAN: Let me get. That --
MARTIN: I mean, this is -- this is, I'm having a hard time handling this conversation guys. I mean, this congresswoman jump the shark.
SELLERS: I'm not surprised.
MARTIN: I mean, she went way past what -- you know, Donald Trump has taken on people that look just like him. Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, 16 guys in a Republican primary. This is -- to make this a racial issue, look, the whole country is looking up and they're saying what is happening that people like us on this panel are talking about this. Because here's the thing, the president tried to say something from his heart inartfully. It must be impossible to do. And then, Kelly, who lost a son said, guys, this is what we're trying to do. And we have a woman, congresswoman running around with a hat on calling herself a rock star saying it's white supremacy. Guys, it's completely out of hand. Could it have been done better? Sure. But at this point, let's put it all aside.
Every time you say, let's focus on the four guys that died, then you go on to attack everyone as racist and wrong. It's just -- look, it could have been done better, it wasn't, then let's move on. And cut it out with Frederica Wilson. I mean, she's just not relative to this moment. She should be pushed aside and --
SELLERS: The fact that you can formulate your mouth to have such disdain for someone who is an elected official in this country who happens to be an African-American woman --
MARTIN: That's America. That's America. That's America.
SELLERS: It underscores the premise of what I'm talking about. The fact that you have no respect for this woman --
MARTIN: The president was elected and you don't respect him. So what? I mean, we're supposed to question people in --
SELLERS: Oh, I haven't -- no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, I have -- no, no, listen. The fact of the matter is, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, no, he has a lot to earn from many of us who don't look like him. But I do respect the office and I will always uplift the office of the president of the United States, never forget that.
MARTIN: OK, I uplift the office of a congresswoman but when she acts like someone who is not respectful, I call her on it. And she doesn't look like me. So I don't understand how she can act so disrespectful to people who are trying to be respectful for the dead. So you're right. We've --
SELLERS: When did she lie? Tell me her lie. Tell me her lie, Ed.
MARTIN: It's much worse than lying. Can I finish? It's much worse than lying. It's taking a part of the speech, and part of a conversation and going out in public and demagoguing it. It's much worse than lying it's called exploiting a family that is suffering.
SELLERS: Please tell me -- please tell me why the president of the United States can lie and why the chief of staff --
MARTIN: He didn't lie.
SELLERS: -- of the United States of America can lie? He did lie, Ed. What are we talking about?
MARTIN: You're talking about --
SELLERS: He said that he did not -- the president of the United States said simply, the fact is he said he did not say that that young man know what he was getting into. He said that.
SELLERS: That's what he said.
MARTIN: No, no, no, no, no, --
SELLERS: That is a lie.
MARTIN: What he said --
SELLERS: The chief of staff of the United States of America came out and said, simply that this woman went down and took credit for $20 million --
[21:25:06] MARTIN: Right.
SELLERS: -- and was lambasted. He was talking about herself. That is not the case.
MARTIN: You can hang your hat on things like that and pretend that's what the truth is. The truth is the president tried to do something nice and it was misconstrued and Kelly tried to clarify it and it was misconstrued. And now you call it racist. You call it offensive and you're dividing America instead of bringing us together. You're the problem and Frederica Wilson.
So what's going on?
SELLERS: With all due respect, I will go to my death being the problem of this country if I continue to speak the truth. You can say that I'm the problem and I'm dividing this country, but I will continue to speak the truth.
SELLERS: You know who else spoke the truth? Frederica Wilson.
MARTIN: I did. So did I.
SELLERS: Do you know who else spoke the truth? These four individuals who died and gave their lives so we have the freedom --
MARTIN: You go back to them and then segue to attacking people.
SELLERS: And no, because, you know what's crazy about this, I'm not attacking you, Ed, but I'm calling you out for what you are, which is an artist who does not tell the truth. And what we have our four people who died and we need to know why they died. MARTIN: I agree. I agree.
SELLERS: Six months ago you were out here wearing Benghazi t-shirt.
MARTIN: How is Frederica Wilson grandstanding furthering that? How does it helping that? How does this helping that?
SELLERS: How is she grandstanding by telling the truth, Ed.
MARTIN: How is this helping us make progress? How is it making progress --
SELLERS: By telling the truth.
MARTIN: The four, --
MARTIN: -- related to what you think about somebody being racist.
BERMAN: All right, guys.
MARTIN: I mean, --
BERMAN: We will continue --
SELLERS: You know what's the most amazing thing about this Ed? Ed, I love you with all my heart and I will continue to tell the truth.
BERMAN: We'll leave with the love. We'll love with the love. And with also the promise --
MARTIN: Thank you.
BERMAN: -- that we will continue to speak answers on what did happen to these four soldiers who died in Niger. Thank you so much everyone. I do appreciate it.
And we do have breaking news on the ambush that is -- at the center of this controversy. If you recall, four U.S. soldiers were killed in attack in Niger including Sergeant La David Johnson.
Tonight, four administration officials familiar with the investigation tell CNN that Johnson's remains were found a mile from the central location of the ambush. The Pentagon is looking at how and when Johnson got separated from the 12-member team. His body was found nearly 48 hours after they discovered he was missing, after the attack.
Up next, breaking news on the Russia investigation involves that meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with Russian at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign, the details in just a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:30:55] BERMAN: A busy Friday night. Let's go now to the latest in the Russia investigation. New reporting related to the Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with Russians. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with the very latest. Manu, this Trump Tower meeting, what have you learned?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. The Senate Intelligence Committee has in fact, interviewed several of the Russians who attended the June 26th meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. And, of course, that meeting has come under enormous focus here in Washington. Largely, because of what we now know about that meeting that -- ahead that time Donald Trump Jr. was promised dirt on the Clinton campaign from the Russians and he was told that the Russian government, in fact, wanted his father to win the presidency.
Now, we have now learned for the first time that several of the Russians at that meeting actually spoken to some investigators on Capitol Hill. The chairman of the committee, Richard Burr has confirmed, in fact, that they've spoken to several of them.
Now he would not disclose to us who these people that he met with, but we do know that there were four Russians at this meeting, including a Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, a Russian-American lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, as well as a Russian translator, as well as a Russian who was tied to an oligarch in that country.
Now, John, that is key area of focus for this investigation because they're trying to figure out whether or not there's any improper coordination, improper context, collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign world as well as the Russians. That's something they do not have an agreement on just quite yet, but a sign that they're moving closer to getting the information they want for having these key interviews. John.
BERMAN: And Manu, from what you are saying, Donald Trump Jr. jas yet to be interviewed by this committee, correct?
RAJU: Yes, that is correct, and the question is when. And Burr made a very clear that he does want to speak to everybody who was in that room first before bringing in Donald Trump Jr. So it's a sign they're done and moving closer to bringing Trump Jr. in.
But the younger Trump has in fact met with the Senate Judiciary Committee, a separate committee, behind close doors. A staff interviewed last month. But that same committee there's an effort to try to bring him in publicly. I am told that could happen as soon as this month, even though that is not yet been settled yet the chairman, the Republican chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley told them bring in Donald Trump Jr. publicly maybe unavoidable at this point. So John, Donald Trump Jr.'s time under the spotlight on Capital Hill far from over.
BERMAN: I'll be fascinating if it happens. Manu Raju, thanks so much. Join me now, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman thanks so much for being with us.
This news that Manu is reporting that the Senate Intel Committee has spoken to several Russians who were in that meeting with Donald Trump Jr., how significant is it? And how's your committee been in touch with any of these folks?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, John. It's highly significant to the question of whether any U.S. persons worked with the Russians. It's not disputed. There's been no evidence to counter the proposition that Russia attacked our democracy. That's settled. The key question now is -- who on the Trump campaign, if anyone, worked with the Russians?
Now, this meeting as you know, John, shows an eagerness and willingness to work with Russians. After all title (ph) -- the he e- mail chain with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort was Clinton-Russia private confidential.
We are seeking to interview every person who was in that meeting. We have not been able to with the exception of Jared Kushner just yet.
BERMAN: So if you did have a chance to ask these Russians any questions, what would those questions be?
SWALWELL: Sure. So, you know, I would want to know, you know, what their relationship was to Vladimir Putin, what their relationship was or continued to be with the FSB and the SVR and the GRU, the Russian Intelligence Services.
Also, John, if you take a step back and think about the context of this meeting, it's during June of a presidential election. How did they secure a meeting with a presidential campaign? What they said it was about Russian adoptions. It's just -- no one buys that the meeting was about Russia adoptions or that a presidential campaign would be willing to work with them. So you're going to be comparing stories to look for inconsistencies.
[21:35:05] And also, I think you want to find out what was the, you know, the prologue before this meeting, what was the epilogue after? You know. What set up the meeting and what was the follow-up, because it's hard to also imagine that this was just a one off.
BERMAN: So Chairman Richard Burr says they're sequencing the timing of the interviews with everyone else before they get to Donald Trump Jr. Help us understand what that means.
SWALWELL: That's a classic bottom-up investigation. I wish we were doing that in the House investigation. You want to, you know, start with the outside, you know, they call them satellite witnesses, and then get closer and closer to the center, so that way when you confront the individual in the center of the investigation, you have the facts from everyone on the outside. So you're looking for inconsistencies, you're looking to see if the stories match up. So you don't want to go early at a witness without all the document production. We did that with Jared Kushner. We brought him in early. He didn't turn over almost any documents to us, and he decided on his own that he wanted to end the interview about two and half hours into it. And so that is not how you would conduct an investigation. What the Senate is doing is encouraging, because we do need a serious of investigation into this.
BERMAN: And how important is President Trump's involvement? We're talking about this meeting in June of 2016. You know, he allegedly didn't know about the meeting beforehand, but now there are questions about did he help craft the statement after the Donald Trump Jr. made with "The New York Times" reporting about it.
SWALWELL: The key is understanding then candidate Trump's knowledge. And John, you know, any father-son relationship are always complicated. But if you believe that Donald Trump dictated to Don Jr., what his statement would be after the meeting. There's ample evidence that that occurred. It's hard to believe that he didn't know about the meeting just a few floors below that occurred at the time.
And so, you know, that is something that we want to seek to understand because, again, it shows and puts it in context, this is also the same year that Donald Trump is seeking to do business in Russia where Felix Sater and Michael Cohen and Donald Trump's lawyer are saying, we can engineer this to elect our boy, Donald Trump. So understanding his knowledge and their intent is essential.
BERMAN: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, thanks so much for being with us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure, John. Thanks a lot.
BERMAN: All right, up next, it's been a week full of half truths from the White House, but questions about the president's relationship with facts stretch back long before he moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
[21:41:04] BERMAN: It has been a truth challenged 10 days for the White House. Just a few examples of the mistruths coming from those walls, the president incorrectly said once again that the United States is the highest taxed nation in the world. It is not. In a tweet this morning he incorrectly suggested a link between what he called Radical Islamic terror and rising crime in United Kingdom, and he incorrectly said a former FEMA director gave him an "A plus" for all his recent hurricane relief efforts while in reality the former director made those comments before Maria even struck Puerto Rico. The president's loose relationship with the facts started well before, though, he moved into the White House. Here's CNN's Gloria Borger.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): From crowd sizes on day one.
TRUMP: We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed. It went all the way back to the Washington monument.
BORGER: To his party just this week.
TRUMP: The Republican Party is very, very unified.
BORGER: But Trump's problems with accuracy go back decades to the building and selling of Trump Tower where Barbara Res managed the construction.
BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION VICE PRESIDENT: He planted that since the (INAUDIBLE) was looking for an apartment on Trump Tower.
BORGER (on camera): And that didn't happen?
RES: No. But he made the papers.
BORGER: Sure. So veracity wasn't a part of it. It was just getting the buzz out there --
RES: Yes. Yes.
BORGER: -- about Trump? Did you guys laugh at it or?
RES: Yes, because there nothing so terrible about it. I mean, you know, it was kind of like puffing, you know, it's like exaggerating.
BORGER (voice-over): Tony Schwartz, co-author of Trump's "Art of The Deal" has a name of this.
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL: I came up with this truthful hyperbole which is, you know, I called it an innocent form of exaggeration. Now I can call something that I actually sold for $2 million, I can say $10 million, and that becomes truthful hyperbole. The problem is that there is no such thing as truthful hyperbole. The truth is the truth. Hyperbole is a lie. They don't go together.
BORGER: And they didn't go together during the troubled opening of Trump's Atlantic City Taj Mahal casino in 1990 when some of the slots didn't work.
ALAN LAPIDUS, ARCHITECT FOR DONALD TRUMP: When the casino control commission went down there on opening day to check out that all the things had been done, many things haven't been done. They shut down a third of the slots.
BORGER: Slots that were critical to the casino's success.
LAPIDUS: The slots are the prime revenue producer of the casino. To shut down the third on opening day was both humiliating and financially disastrous and it was only done because he doesn't have, you know, an organization in-depth.
BORGER: But that wasn't the story Trump told. JACK O'DONNELL, MANAGER, TRUMP PLAZA CASINO: Something could go bad like the opening of the Taj, and he would say it's because we had so much business here that this happened, not that the systems broke down, not that we didn't know what we were doing. We had so much business it broke down. Truly he just would lie about everything.
BORGER: And he did.
LARRY KING, HOST, CNN "LARRY KING LIVE": What about the slot machine thing where they were down for a while?
TRUMP: The slots were so hot nobody's -- again, nobody's seen people play that hard and that fast.
KING: So it blew out the slots literally?
TRUMP: They blew apart. We had machines that were --
KING: Was it like too much -- like a fuse?
TRUMP: They were virtually on fire.
O'DONNELL: Donald is so wrapped up in hyperbole that it's almost constant lies, you know, whether it's the littlest things where, you know, if he had -- if he had 2,000 people at an event, you know, he would say there were 5,000 people at an event.
BORGER: And he got away with it.
SCHWARTZ: There's no belief system. If it will work, I will say it. If it stops working, I'll say its opposite and I will not feel any (INAUDIBLE) about saying it's opposite, because I don't believe anything in the first place. Seeing it from his perspective, it doesn't make a distinction between what's true and what's false. His only distinction is what will work and what will not work.
BORGER (on-camera): And what happens when he's challenged with facts? What does he do?
[21:45:03] SCHWARTZ: He has a genius, you know, perverse genius for turning any situation into something that is evidence of his brilliance, even if it's not true.
BERMAN: Right, Gloria Borger joins me now along with Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth", ironically, "About Trump".
Gloria, let me start with you here. Look, it is one thing to use hyperbole or lie when you're promoting a business or a casino. It's another thing to do it when you're president of the United States. And yet, it seems that people around the president and a lot of the president's supporters are willing to accept it. The question is, why?
BORGER: Well, we've been trying to find the answer to that for a long time. I think we learned during the campaign the kind of catch phrase became, "don't take him literally," that his supporters did not take him literally, but they took him seriously.
So they were willing to overlook a lot of the untruths, a lot of the exaggerations because they thought it was in service of a greater goal which was to get Donald Trump elected or to get his agenda through as is the case now during the presidency. And they believe that it's part of his showmanship which will serve a greater purpose.
BERMAN: You know, Michael, you know, you know him as well as any biographer. Does the president think he's lying when he does this?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": I don't think he believes he is lying. I think he believes that he's making his best case. And he'll draw from something that is halfway true, something that's completely true, and then something that's a lie, and it all gets kind of mixed up.
The problem here, as everyone is pointing out, is that he's now president of the United States. He's held accountable in other ways, ways other than he's accustomed and he's also dragging people into this fabrications and distortions. He's very seductive. You know what, Gloria, I think, was getting at is this president will pull people in, and then all of a sudden they are part of something they didn't quite understand and way out on a limb where somebody might saw it off.
BERMAN: Yes. It's a great question, Gloria. I mean, is this contagious? Is his attitude towards the truth contagious? You see General Kelly just over the last few days saying things that turned out not to be about Representative Wilson.
BORGER: You know, I don't that think it's contagious so much as that people find themselves twisted into knots trying to explain him and rationalize him and making what is untrue seem true. And I think they do that when the president tweets every day or when he comes out and says something that they then have to kind of figure out a way to make it work. And so it strains credulity and it hurts their own credibility while they're doing it. But they are serving the president and I think that's one way they can do it. And I think it's difficult.
BERMAN: One of the things, the skills, Michael, and I do think it's a skill in some ways that the president had as businessman is taking the credit for success but not taking the blame for failure. We've seen politicians, Michael, tried to do this with variously levels of success before. Is this something do you think that President Trump is particularly adept with?
D'ANTONIO: I think he's very adept at it. And he's actually often pointed at politicians and called them liars and the worst people on earth. He was doing this before the press became the worst people on earth. He's great at it because he knows how to reinterpret something, --
BORGER: Right. D'ANTONIO: -- a defeat as a victory, or reinterpret a distortion as something accurate. And he's actually succeeded at various times by saying something that ultimately at some point turns out to be true. So I think people around him think, well, maybe this is a game we can win, but I think he's probably more gifted at it than anybody on earth.
BORGER: You know, look what he did with the slot machines in Atlantic City, which was a big failure a disaster, a financial failure. And he goes on Larry King and says no, no, no, it's because we were such a success that those machines blew up. So he takes something that's a loss and figures out a way to turn it into a win for him.
BERMAN: At a certain point, the facts are facts.
BORGER: I agree.
BERMAN: Michael D'Antonio, Gloria Borger, great to have you with us. Thanks so much for your time.
D'ANTONIO: Thank you.
BERMAN: Up next, a rare look behind the scenes of the White House, intimate, unplanned moments with Former First Lady Michelle Obama from the lens of a former White House photographer. Anderson speaks to that photographer next.
[21:53:38] BERMAN: Today marks exactly nine months of the Trump administration and nine months to the day since First Lady Melania Trump wore this dress to her husband's inauguration.
This morning she donated at historical artifact to Smithsonian. The donation fulfills a 100 plus year tradition for first ladies. Melanie told the audience the dress marks one of the many new beginnings for her family's history in Washington.
Michelle Obama is also in the news this week. Her White House photographer is releasing a book of rare photos of the former first lady. It's called "Chasing light". Anderson sat down with the photographer, Amanda Lucidon. Here's that conversation.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: First of all, can you just describe what a day in the life of a White House photographer is like.
AMANDA LUCIDON, AUTHOR, "CHASING LIGHT": Well, there's no really -- no real typical day. You know, there can be slow days and days that you think are going to be slow but you should always be ready to, you know, that things change quickly.
COOPER: I imagine it's very just kind of on the fly. You have to figure out the best angles to get and where to be and where to stand and security implications, obviously for everything.
COOPER: There's got to be kind of a dynamic environment.
LUCISON: Yes. I mean, I learned a lot. It's a pretty steep learning curve, and I think my time as a photo journalist for a newspaper really prepared me for, you know, polishing my skill set.
COOPER: There are so many intimate moments that you capture and that are in the book. The back of the book there's a photograph that I understand you actually didn't love. I mean, it's a really cool --
COOPER: -- very intimate photo of the president and the first lady.
[21:55:06] LUCISON: Yes. Well, I'm such a perfectionist, you know, I like a, you know, very thoughtful and composed image, and sometimes I find a scene and just wait for something to happen in it and sometimes I wait for something that's a really emotional shot. And this was an image where we were setting up for a taping an outside company was taping a segment and I was just -- they were resetting their cameras so I was there just to document that this filming was happening and I just looked at my camera. I had enough to get two frames and then the moment was over.
COOPER: Were there ever any moments you didn't take pictures because you felt it wasn't -- I mean, it was too private.
LUCISON: There are times when you know that you're in a really special moment and that that's when you need to be especially decisive and so you just sort of take a breath and, you know, if you're documenting history, so it's important that you have the courage to take those pictures too.
COOPER: Are there particular photographs that are your favorite?
LUCISON: Yes. I love a picture of she surprising a bunch of students in a map room and so there are a bunch of turn around art students and they had just performed for her. They did a poem and a dance, and they were waiting in the map room. They thought they were going to be taken out of the White House and she was like, I want to go see them. So I slipped into the room before her because I obviously wanted to get the reaction, and then I walked in and she just said something like, hey, what are you guys doing in here and everybody just erupted with joy. Just like seeing -- it's just the back of her head, but I like seeing all the different emotions of everyone's faces just so raw.
COOPER: Do you see yourself in the pictures?
LUCISON: I mean, I personally am drawn to the pictures that really make you feel something and whether that's joy or laughter or love, you know, those are the images that speak to me. So I guess I see myself in the edit, right, because that's also an important part of the work too, so --
LUCISON: But those are the images that I like to make. I like to see peoples' reactions. I like to look at the edges of the frame. I like to be able to show people something they haven't seen before. And, you know, so sometimes that's a step behind like there's a picture of Mrs. Obama waving to the audience at the Kennedy Center but I shot it from the presidential box and I had just about enough time to get two frames before the secret service agent closed the door.
So like I said, all of my photo journalism training helped to prepare me to be ready for those things and --
COOPER: Capture the moment.
LUCISON: -- capture the moment.
COOPER: Thank you so much.
LUCISON: Thank you. Appreciate your time.
BERMAN: All right. Again, the book is called " Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer". It is available now. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: Thanks so much for watching 360. I'm John Berman. Time now to hand it over to Don Lemon, "CNN Tonight" starts right now.