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CNN Exclusive Interview With Former VP Joe Biden; WH Chief Of Staff: Democrats' Memo Lengthier Than GOP Version; Pres. Trump Tells Pentagon To Plan A Military Parade; Biden On Whether He'll Run In 2020. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 6, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In our second hour tonight, a CNN exclusive interview with former vice president and potential 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. He takes on president Trump directly tonight, and where he believes the president's taking the country. That of course is ahead.

We begin, though, with the breaking news at the White House -- two breaking stories and CNN's Pamela Brown covering both. Pamela, I understand the Chief of Staff John Kelly weighed in on the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes Russia memo a little earlier. I'm wondering what he said.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He really left it open-ended today, talking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Anderson. He wouldn't say one way or the other whether the White House would support releasing the Democrats' memo, saying it would need to go through the process first.

But as you'll recall, last week the White House said transparency was the justification for releasing the Nunes memo, and the president said before he had even read it that he was 100 percent on board with releasing it. But Chief of Staff John Kelly saying today on Capitol Hill that he doesn't know what's going to happen. It will need to go through the process, and he also wouldn't say whether there would be any redactions. Here's what he told reporters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you leaning towards releasing it, at least a little?

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, I would say -- I mean this is a different memo than the first one. It's lengthier, it's -- well, it's different. And so not leaning towards it. It will be done in a responsible way. But, again, is -- where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods. My initial cut is this one is a lot less clean. But at the end of it all, it will be guys like Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray from FBI, certainly the national security attorneys at the White House giving the president a recommendation on it.


BROWN: For context, the Democrats' memo is 10 pages. It's supposed to be a counterargument to the Republicans' memo which came out last Friday which was 3 1/2 pages. Chief of Staff Kelly also said that he had a, "great conversation with Rod Rosenstein," the deputy attorney general, who was here today at the White House meeting with the president to discuss the Democrats' memo.

You'll recall, Anderson, just last Friday the president was asked if he had confidence in Rod Rosenstein. He was mentioned in the Nunes memo as signing off on a FISA warrant for Carter Page, and the president said, you tell me. But the two men met here today at the White House, and from here, Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI, and others will weigh in and make recommendations by Thursday on what should happen with the Democrats' memo, and then the president will be briefed on that and is expected to make a decision shortly thereafter, Anderson.

COOPER: There was some other news from the White House today about a possible military parade that the president wants.

BROWN: That's right. In fact, the White House confirmed on the record that this is something that the president has requested. It's been on his mind since last year, since he visited France and saw a parade in France when he was visiting President Macron on Bastille Day. And ever since then apparently he's wanted to have something very similar in the United States with a military parade to show off the military might here. But this is something that could cost millions of dollars, Anderson. But the Pentagon has said that the president's request has been made to them, to the top brass at the Pentagon. They haven't figured out a date yet, but it's something they're working on. We're told that it's still in its infancy in terms of planning.

But Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, released a statement today about this, saying that "President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation." Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pam Brown, thanks very much.

More now on the memo, no parade for CNN's Manu Raju who joins us now with new reporting from the Capitol. So, over the weekend, the president tweeted he was totally vindicated with the release of the Nunes memo. How did lawmakers react to that today?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't see it the same way as the president does. Even Republicans have said that, look, this Nunes memo targets one specific aspect here, is how the surveillance warrant was obtained to monitor Carter Page, who was of course then the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser and those allegations the Republicans are making that was done in an improper manner. This does not deal with what the president said he was vindicated from was the larger Russia investigation, obstruction of justice. That is not part of what this Nunes memo was about according to the members themselves.

Now, one member it was Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, he said last week that the memo should be completely separate from the Mueller investigation. So I asked him about that and the president's comments that he was vindicated from the Nunes memo.


RAJU: Last week you made the case that the memo -- the Nunes memo was separate from the Mueller investigation.

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I continue to say that.

RAJU: Yet over the weekend, the president claimed total vindication from the Nunes memo. Was he vindicated in any way?

RYAN: Let me go back to what I just said. This is about FISA abuse, and this is about holding our government accountable, and this is about Congress doing its job in conducting oversight over the executive branch, which in this particular case has been given great power over us as citizens. We need to make sure that power is used correctly.

[21:05:13] RAJU: Was the president vindicated?

RYAN: Thank you.


RAJU: So not saying whether the president was vindicated but defending the memo. But Anderson, one Republican who is not defending the memo, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Chairman, Richard Burr who was asked by us earlier on Monday about the Nunes memo, and he said this. I don't think there was any need for a memo to be released. So a sign of the divisions between the Senate Republicans and the House Republicans about the Nunes memo.

COOPER: It's always interesting to watch folks not answer questions. You caught up with Congressman Nunes on the Hill today. How did that go?

RAJU: Speaking of not answering questions, Devin Nunes would not answer our questions both yesterday and today about the memo, about a number of questions, about whether or not the White House was involved in any way with the drafting of the memo as some Democrats suspect.

Now, Nunes, when I asked him directly that question, whether or not the White House had any role, this is what he said.


RAJU: Did the White House have any role in the memo?

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Democracy dies in darkness, my friend.


RAJU: And he wouldn't answer further questions from other reporters as well.

Yesterday when I asked him about the Democratic memo, he said that we don't talk about committee business. You know the rules. But moments after that, he talked to one of his favorite media outlets afterwards. Nunes clearly trying to talk to his allies here, not talk to reporters on Capitol Hill who have been covering him still even as he's doing his own investigations into the State Department and the like. We don't have a lot of answers about exactly what he's exploring because he's not answering questions from reporters, and he's also not filling in a lot of the members of his committee who are not clear about the next steps that he wants to take this investigation going forward, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, not answering questions from reporters just go in Fox. Manu Raju, thanks very much. Thanks for running all over the Hill for us today as always.

Now a CNN exclusive interview, Joe Biden talked to "New Day's" Chris Cuomo. It was wide ranging, emotional, surprising conversation. We want to bring you all of it over this hour. Joe Biden has seen a lot in his life both in and out of politics. He's lost loved ones, most recently his son Beau. He's written about that and more. Here's part one of the interview.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Mr. Vice president, thank you very much for taking the opportunity.


CUOMO: The book, "Joe Biden, Promise Me, Dad". There's a lot in here. I want to talk about how it applies to what we're seeing today and the messages that people will take away. The first is the obvious, Mr. Vice president. What do you make of the state of political play between left and right with this Nunes memo and now the Democrat counter memo, the attacks on the Department of Justice? What do you make of it?

BIDEN: Well, look, it seems to me that i've been around for a long time. I got here during Nixon's impeachment, and it was Republicans who stood up and insisted that the constitution be honored and insisted that the president behave consistent with the law. And it seems now that it's all about -- everything with Trump is about him, and everything about him is what the Republican Party seems to be focused on trying to protect. And so much is not happening.

Look, we are so incredibly well positioned to own the 21st century, and we're engaged in this race to the bottom in terms of how we treat one another, how we talk about one another, how, you know, I guy I have great respect for is one of the leading conservative columnists, David Brooks. And he talks about this invisible moral fabric. And it's being ripped apart. And it has real consequences for us. And so --

CUOMO: They say you're right. Trump and the Republicans, the Nunes cabal, however you want to define them, they say you're right. But what's tearing us apart is the Russia investigation, and they needed to do this to expose how wrong the Russia probe is. Now, I don't know that they achieved it. That's for you to judge. But they say that's the problem. Do you agree?

BIDEN: No, I don't agree at all. Look, one of the things that -- I've been around so long. I helped write the act that everybody talks about. No one know what FISA means. It just means the ability to go into a court, tell a judge about something that is highly classified knowing it doesn't have to come out in court, and let him make a judgment in camera with just the parties to decide whether or not that information could or couldn't be used, a wiretap could be had or not had, et cetera. And to turn this into somehow the ability to run the risk of disclosing sources and methods, run the risk of disclosing what has been held so tightly -- and, look, the reason for this -- excuse me for going on, but the reason why this notion of FISA came along was the Church Committee investigating the excesses of the Intelligence Community. We said, we have to have some oversight in the Intelligence Community.

[21:10:10] I remember going to a guy named McClellan in Arkansas who was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. I said do you know what the CIA is doing, Mr. Chairman, I was a 30-year old kid. He said, yes. And I said, well, can you tell me what -- he said, I can't. He said, I'm afraid. I'm so afraid I may talk in my sleep. I can't tell anybody.

Well, this whole thing was about getting the Intelligence Community to be held accountable and have the confidence to be able to tell a very select group of women and men in the House and the Senate all that was going on. And they in turn could use that information if they needed to in a court of law. And that's all in jeopardy now.

CUOMO: Well, they say the Democrats jeopardized it. It may not, you know, just devil's advocate. But they say they needed to do this. Have you seen anything that gives you a reasonable concern that the FISA process was abused for political purposes?

BIDEN: No, I haven't. I haven't seen anything that would suggest that. The whole idea about this Steele dossier, whether or not it was identified as the Steele identified -- I'm told it was identified as partisan, number one. And, number two, even if that -- there had to be more that was offered because, look, every 90 days you got to go into court and renew this. In order to renew the ability to continue to wiretap this individual, you have to have evidence to show that the initial request is bearing some fruit.

It got renewed three times by four different people in the FBI and the Justice Department and the Republicans as well. So I mean it just seems to be such a -- it seems irresponsible.

CUOMO: Are you worried about damage to the administration of justice?

BIDEN: I do worry about damage. I worry about the full-throated attack -- this is the first president -- I've been here for eight presidents. This is the first president to make a full-throated, unvarnished attack on the entirety of the FBI, not going after J. Edgar Hoover, who was one person in the FBI. This is to discredit the FBI and discredit his own Justice Department.

You know, look, I spent a lot of time traveling around the world. What do you think they're thinking in Moscow? This is doing everything that Putin ever wanted, sowing doubt about whether or not our justice system is fair, sowing doubt about whether or not there is anything that's remotely consistent with our constitution. It's just -- it's a disaster.


COOPER: So given what you just heard, you might be surprised by what Vice President Biden said moments later about whether President Trump should speak with Special Counsel Mueller. That's next, and so are his thoughts on whether or not he plans on running in 2020.


[21:16:33] COOPER: Before the break, you heard former Vice President Joe Biden express his concerns about President Trump's attacks on the FBI and efforts he says to discredit the Justice Department.

Now, given that, you might be surprised by what he said next to Chris Cuomo about the president and the man investigating him.


CUOMO: Do you think he should sit down with the special counsel?

BIDEN: If I were the president's lawyer, I would probably tell him not to sit down with the special counsel.


BIDEN: Because --

CUOMO: Then they subpoena you, and you wind up in front of a Grand jury without a lawyer.

BIDEN: Yes, and if you -- you're in a situation where the president has some difficulty with precision.

CUOMO: That's one of the most subtle things I've ever heard you say, Joe Biden.

BIDEN: And one of the things that I would worry about if I were his lawyer was him saying something that was simply not true without him even planning to be disingenuous.

CUOMO: You think he has that little control over whether he tells the truth or not?

BIDEN: I just -- I just marvel at some of the things he says and does, like, what, two days ago? Anybody who didn't stand up and clap for him was un-American and maybe even treasonous.

CUOMO: They say it was tongue in cheek. Democrats can't take a joke.

BIDEN: Well, let me tell you, he's a joke.

CUOMO: You're saying the president is the joke?

BIDEN: Yes. I mean in this kind of stuff. Look, you know, I think he understands. I think the people around him understand. What presidents say matter. Our children are listening. The world is listening. It matters what they say. And it's just amazing the outrageously inaccurate things the president says.

CUOMO: When it comes to this probe, do you regret that your administration with President Obama, of course, didn't blow the whistle on these Russian efforts during the election? I get the calculation. But the idea that Senator McConnell wouldn't come out and make it -- who cares what he wanted at the time. Do you regret not saying more about this?

BIDEN: Well, I don't think -- I think if we had said more about it, we would have further undermined the legitimacy of the process. We didn't have the information we had 15, 20 days after the election was all over. We didn't have hard data on -- we knew that what was happening in terms of intercepting e-mails and the like, but we didn't have the whole picture. And we knew that -- we believed that one of the purposes of what Russia was doing was to discredit the process, the whole process.

And so if we came out and looked like we were bigfooting the election a couple weeks before the election, implying that this is all about the Russians trying to help defeat Hillary Clinton, then it would have just thrown it into chaos. And -- but if we knew what we knew in January, it would have been a different story.

CUOMO: You would have done it differently if you'd known more?

BIDEN: Well, I think we would have because there would have been much harder data, and I think it would have been impossible -- and I'm a friend of Mitch McConnell's. It wouldn't have been impossible for Mitch not to -- in a bipartisan way not to join us and exposing what's happening.

CUOMO: Are we heading down a bad road, or do you think this all ends well?

BIDEN: Look, when the president first got elected, I got heavily criticized for saying I hope he succeeds because America succeeds in the president succeeds. And I found myself at first bemused thinking that maybe these were just over the top gaffes that were going on. But now I've gone from that to I'm genuinely concerned. There's two things that have popped up. One is that this naked nationalism, that it's now us against them. As Richard Hough says there's three ways countries lose their ability to influence the world and lose their power, and one is abdicating that power. We're abdicating our responsibility around the world and putting everything in terms of us versus them.

[21:20:40] The second thing that combines that is this phony populism. This notion that the way in which -- the only reason you have a problem is because of the other. It's because of that immigrant or that minority or because of someone else doing something to you. And so this president has spent his entire time since he's gotten in office trying to divide the country instead of unite the country.

And as I said, I am more optimistic about the chances for America in the 21st century than I have been in my whole career. We have the most advanced universities in the world where all the research comes out of. We have the most productive people in the world. We have the most agile venture capitalist. We're in a situation where we're energy independent in North America. I mean what are we doing? We're not talking about any of the things that really matter. And all he seems to be trying to do is undo everything President Obama has done. But he's not able to do that by the way?

CUOMO: Why not?

BIDEN: Well, because if you see what happens, he's damaged health care, but it's not gone. He has gone after the Paris Accord, but you see mayors and governors and local leaders getting together and making sure it doesn't have the effect that he intended it to be. You find this in a situation where, you know, there are millions of people still have, as I said, health care and preventive care. You find our self (INAUDIBLE) the education system is actually getting better and better even though now there's a full-blown attack by the secretary of education on the things we put in place. He can't undo it all. He's hurting it. He's slowing the process. But most of all we're missing an enormous opportunity, an enormous opportunity to change the life for middle class people.


COOPER: In a moment, we're going to have more from Chris' conversation with former Vice President Joe Biden, their discussion on immigration, so called Dreamers, and the border wall.


[21:26:24] COOPER: Picking up our Chris Cuomo's conversation with former Vice President Joe Biden, what to do with the hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers who came here as children accompanying their parents and now face possible deportation.


CUOMO: DACA obviously matters, the executive order that came through under your administration with President Obama. Do you think the Democrats should do a deal, save the Dreamers, give them the pathway that the president offered, we'll give you the wall? Would you do that deal?

BIDEN: It depends on what they meant by the wall, but one of the things --

CUOMO: He's going to want to say wall at the end of it.

BIDEN: I don't care what the hell he says. That would be fine by me. But here's the point. The idea we're using almost 2 million young lives -- these kids are Americans. Can you imagine 2 years old, mom, don't take me across the Rio Grande. I don't to go. It's illegal. Leave me here.

CUOMO: Rule of law, vice president. That's what they say.

BIDEN: Rule of law is a rule of equity, and there's such thing as equity. And there's no equity in sending 2 million kids who have been here, 1.9 million, for the bulk of their life, who didn't come voluntarily and have abided by the law and the rules and are making great contributions to America --

CUOMO: They can stay but not their parents and they can only be guest workers, they'll never be like you and me.

BIDEN: That's a gigantic mistake. We're the only industrial country in the world of industrial world that is able to have replacement workers, able to continue -- the rest of the world. I mean we are so incredibly short sighted, but here's the point. The American people have a heart. The American people overwhelmingly think the lives of these kids shouldn't be bargained for anything. Just do it. Either do it or don't do it, but don't bargain their lives for a wall or for funding for a program. That is not the American way.

CUOMO: So then do the Democrats stand strong on that kind of principle and not do this deal and then you have to see whether the president is willing to pull the trigger on his own self-imposed deadline? Should the Democrats play it that way the way you're saying it?

BIDEN: I think the Democrats have to continue to make clear this should not be a bargaining chip. This is inappropriate to use these kids' lives as a way to get more money for A, B, C, or D, or any particular thing.

CUOMO: But if they sign on to the deal, vice president --

BIDEN: No, no, no. I know. It's always -- having served there for 36 years, I'm always reluctant to go inside a negotiation. As you know, every time we had trouble when up in the Congress, I was the guy that got send up to do --

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking you.

BIDEN: Well, I know the way I would have tried to negotiate it, but I'm not there. I'm outside. I'm not inside. I don't know where the elasticity is to make this. On the basic proposition that if you had a wall that provided security that wasn't an absolute waste of money, meaning national technical means to protect it and all these kids had a path to citizenship, I'd be inclined to do that.

CUOMO: You'd give Trump the political victory in order to get the deal done?

BIDEN: I don't care about his political victory. That's not how I view politics, whether or not it's a personal victory or not.

CUOMO: When you go to speak to the Democrats now, this is going to be a big deal. They have to figure out some very fundamental things. Being anti-Trump probably won't be enough. What is the challenge for your party?

BIDEN: The challenge is for us to step up and offer concrete answers, which we're doing. For example, when we talk about, you know, the plight of the working class, well, you know, one of the plights is the cost of education, the cost of daycare, the cost of being able to care for your kid. And there's no reason in the world why we can't step up and have continuing education that's free, that we can't be in a situation where -- look, today, one of the reasons why we ended up the most powerful nation in the world because of our education system, at the turn of the 20th century. In New York and other places, they said there's going to be 12 years of (INAUDIBLE) tested free education. If we were doing that today, Chris, do you think we'd do it for 12 years?

[21:30:26] CUOMO: No.

BIDEN: Twelve years is not enough. Not even close. Everybody knows it. What the hell are we doing?

CUOMO: People don't like to spend money on other people's kids.

BIDEN: No, no. But I see -- I don't think that -- I think they think we don't have the money to spend. If you eliminated one single loophole call stepped up basis, there's a trillion and $340 billion of loopholes out there for the wealthy and for others. If you just eliminated one that cost $17 billion, I could put every single qualified kid in America who qualifies into community college for free, for free. Cutting the cost of four-year college in half, it would cost $6 billion a year and I can reduce the deficit by $11 billion because we're giving away $17 billion a year in --

CUOMO: So an idea like that is a centrist idea. You said before the Democrats have to think about how to get to the center and speak to the people that voted for president Trump. Your party is not moving to the center, Mr. Vice president. It's moving to the left.

BIDEN: Well, Chris, you know me well, and I don't want to correct you. My point is I don't think you have to choose between your heart and your soul. If you go back and look at my record of 36 years in the Senate, I was rated one of the most liberal senators in the United States Senate during that 36-year period. I'm the guy that spoke out on same-sex marriage and a whole range of other things. I take a back seat to no one on being progressive. I found no distinction between being able to be progressive and worrying about working-class people, middle-class people. They are not inconsistent. And to make the point, in the last campaign, I went to a factory up in Ohio, a Ford factory, and I started off and said, let me tell you something. We have to elect -- and I went on and said here's the deal. Every woman's entitled to make the same pay a man makes for the same job. All these blue collar guys went nuts. You know why? If their wife got paid the same for selling shoes the man sells shoes in the same place, they get to put four new tires on their car. They get to get a new faucet. They get to make sure they're able to pay their insurance. I said, look, it doesn't matter. It's none of your business who somebody marries. None of your business. They cheered. 3,000 guys cheered. Just don't tell them they have to live that lifestyle. It's anybody's -- and any man that raises his hand to a woman is a coward. They went nuts because they got daughters and wives. We forget that these are the people I came from, not just me, almost everybody. I mean middle class folks were decent, honorable, and the thing that we have to do is we have to start looking at them and acknowledging and treating them with dignity. It's the job they do that we have to begin to honor. Anyway, it just drives me nuts.


COOPER: We're going to have more with Vice President Biden ahead. Will he run in 20? Also his cherish the memories of his late son Beau, more ahead.


[21:36:52] COOPER: More now on Chris Cuomo's interview with former Vice President Joe Biden who wrote a memoir about his late son Beau who died of brain cancer. The book is called "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose". Take a look as the conversation turns to the book, to Beau, and whether Joe Biden will run in 2020.


CUOMO: This book has a very simple message when it comes to politics. It says, Joe Biden needs to run for president.

BIDEN: Oh, no.

CUOMO: That's what this book says, everything in here about relevance, what Beau called duty, what your sense of significance, whether you're quoting a philosopher or not, that was about fulfilling your responsibility writ large. I'm not saying you'd win. I'm not saying I wouldn't hammer you on a daily basis if you ran. But in this book, how hard for you is it to reconcile yourself with that sense of duty that he brought to your life and that you brought to his?

BIDEN: Well, look, everything with Beau was about duty, and everything about Beau was about the lesson he learned from my father. Everyone's entitled to be treated with dignity. I mean everybody, for God's sake, everybody. And that's what Beau did. And what I tried to point out here is you can have severe loss, but if you hang on to purpose. And so I'm trying like hell to do everything I think -- it sounds corny, but that Beau would want me to do. I mean when his mother and his sister were killed, and he Hunter were the -- I looked up to them rather than them look up to me.

And the point in here is there is a -- the American people are better than their leadership is now across the board. And we just have to give them a chance. You give them a chance. They've never let the country down. And so, from my perspective, I spend all my time -- and I give you my word. I spend all my time sighing that we elect a Democratic House and have chance to elect in the Senate to stop this insanity and begin to right this ship again. And that's what I'm focused on, and I really mean that. And we've got a lot of talented people in the Democratic Party, and I'm looking for some of these guys to come along.

CUOMO: Who's better than you?

BIDEN: Your father is better than me.

CUOMO: Listen, don't make me get upset. You know how pop felt about you. You know you guys represent the same things. Again, I'm not saying that the country would embrace it. I'm not saying you'd win. But it just seems like I don't know how when I read this book -- and this was not easy for me, and it won't be easy for a lot of people and for the right reasons. And I hope they read it. It's been out. It has been read, but people should refocus on it. How do you not run for president? How do you not when it is in your heart. It's in your head. You don't think anybody out there is better than you, and you've never had a moment in history that called for leadership more. How do you not run?

BIDEN: Barack, the president, asked me all during the end of the last administration, you know, how do you make the judgment? If I can look in the mirror and 2 1/2, two years, and walk away knowing I'm not walking away because I'm afraid or I don't have the nerve to try to do the job or I don't want to make the effort, then I'll happily walk away for real. And there's a lot of new folks potentially coming up here.

[21:40:20] You know, we didn't know who Bill Clinton was three years out. We didn't know who Barack Obama was other than that tremendous speech he made. And they stepped up. They stepped up. And so, -- but I know one thing. We have to reclaim the essence of who we are as a country. We have to just get rid of this dangerous and, in terms of our security, dangerous notion of nationalism, and we've got to get rid of this phony populism that just is creating space for people to grab power.

CUOMO: It's not easy to do. One of the things you'll point out for people in this book is you captured a phrase that I heard your son say many times, but it didn't just capture how he was. You captured who he was. All good. I must have heard him say that a hundred times. And whether it was dealing with the depths of his fight against cancer or how he felt about anybody asking him about anything. All good. You make a point to put it in --

BIDEN: My dad had an expression from the time I was a kid, and Beau lived it. He'd say, Joey, never complain and never explain. I can honestly say without fear of contradiction I've never met a single person in my life whoever heard Beau Biden complain about a single thing because it was just -- my dad's other expression was get up. Just get up. I told you, I got a cartoon that sits on my desk that was bought at a Hallmark card store. It's Hagar the horrible, his ship is up and it's one of these glass things with two frames in it. And Hagar is the Viking, and his ship is wrecked and he's on the rocks and he's looking up at heaven going, why me, God? And the next frame, a voice from heaven comes down, why not?

My dad, when I was feeling down about myself 28 years ago, brought it over. I've never taken it off my desk. That was Beau. You just got to keep fighting. You got to keep fighting and believing.


COOPER: Up next, the former vice president talks about how he is living those words. Keep fighting. Keep believing. He talks about what keeps him going and how his son Beau remains a guiding factor in his life today.


[21:46:37] COOPER: We continue now with Chris Cuomo's interview with former Vice President Joe Biden. In the last segment, Biden was talking about how he learned the same lesson from his father and his son, Beau. Keep fighting. Keep believing. Don't complain. Don't explain. That's where we pick up the conversation.


CUOMO: Let me ask you something else. Again, I'm not objective on this stuff when your son's life comes into play. And I'm not objective about you when it comes to how you treat people who are in grief. You mention my brother in this book. We were blown away by how you looked to our family when pop was coming near the end and when he was gone. And when I read this book, it reminded me of something. The message that you give that is of so much consolation to people about what you need to do to deal with the grief and what you need to remind yourself of and what you need to look forward to someday when the passing of that person's memory brings a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. I wonder, though, the life you've led and all the consolation you can give to others in those times, does it work for you? Is it easier to give the advice than it is to take it?

BIDEN: They're one and the same. In other words, I'm not able to give advice that I don't believe actually makes a difference. It made a difference in my life. And, you know, when you are the recipient of so much empathy, so much support over the years, it's easy and you know what it means to give that kind of empathy and support. You know that a simple word to someone in real trouble and a significant loss can make a difference not in just a day, but can make a difference in the life. And, you know, it's all about finding purpose. You know, it's about -- you know, I'm a big collector of quotes that have always meant something to me. Emanuel Khan talks about three parts of happiness, something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. And what I learned out of my two experiences or three experiences is that if you have something to look forward to, you have a reason, a purpose, you have a reason to get up in the morning. And that's the way to keep the person and the persons you lost part of you, inside you. It sounds corny, but I really hope.

When, Beau said, promise me dad. It wasn't off of Maureen Dowd's column. She's a great reporter where she talked -- and knew that he wanted me to run for president. That's not what he meant. We were sitting at a dinning room table a couple months before he died. And he said, dad, can you stick around? I said, yes. He looked at me and said, dad, I know no one in the whole world loves me more than you do. But he said, dad, I'm going to be OK no matter what happens. Promise me, dad. Promise me, dad, you're going to be OK. And what he meant was that I wouldn't walk away from my obligations. I wouldn't walk away -- he knew I would always take care of the family and they would always take care of me. But he wanted to make sure I stayed in the public arena. That's all I've done my whole life. That's all he's did and Hunter's does, my daughter, my wife. And it's that purpose, and I find myself doing what you probably do as a son, I do with my father, what my dad think. I go around thinking, what would Beau think? I swear to God. What would Beau think?

[21:50:09] Beau was, he was an incredible decent, honorable man. And it was always about somebody else. Unless you figure out something that's more important to you than yourself, I think it's hard to be really happy.


COOPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden talking to Chris Cuomo. Joining me now is Dana Bash and David Axelrod.

David, you know, I mean it's rare to hear people talk about grief in society openly like that, but also to hear it from somebody as well known and in the political sphere, to talk about loss and grief, sort of so openly and honestly is, I don't know, it's sort of an extraordinary thing to hear.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, first of all, there are few people in the public sphere who have suffered so publicly and whose personal tragedies have been played out in public, you know, he lost his wife and child as a senator-elect and there was some question as to whether he would even go to the Senate after that. But, look, one of the great strengths of Joe Biden is that he is all raw nerve endings. He lets it hang out there. And you can see his emotions. And you can see his passion. And people identify with that. And he speaks in idiom that people understand. And you could see all of that in that interview.

COOPER: Dana, I mean there was a lot of talk that one of the reasons he didn't run, obviously, was because of the loss of his son, Beau, the last time. And also, obviously, the Democratic Party had already lined up at that point behind Hillary Clinton. Do you think he'll run in 2020?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is certainly leaving every door that he has any contact with open. Wide open. I thought, one of the interest things that he said, one of the many interesting things that he said to Chris Cuomo on that note, that struck me was, defending his rabid liberalism. And talking about the fact that he was the first one, he was the one who pushed inside the Obama administration --

COOPER: Described himself as a progressive.

BASH: Exactly. However, he also said, that doesn't mean I can't talk to working class voters. And that is part of his appeal. And he understands that. He knows that. And he fundamentally believes and he is not alone that the Democratic Party lost a huge chunk of what had been their traditional old school base to Donald Trump, because they lost the ability to talk to them and to reach out to them, like Joe Biden can. You know, there are so many other factors here, like his age, like the fact that there are, you know, 25 other people who also are vying for it. So, you know, we'll see. But there's no question he is very much interested.

COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean what do you think the calculus is -- I mean, Dana mentioned some of the things, the calculus for him in trying to decide?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, I think that in his head, he's running. I listen to him in that interview and I see a guy who's thinking, he's going to be running for president of the United States in 2020. And if you took a poll right now, he would be sitting right on top. He's a very popular figure within the Democratic Party. He polled well countrywide in the "Wall Street Journal" poll that was just published.

But, you know, it's interesting, he kept referring to the eight presidents he's served under, and I was in the Senate for 36 years and so on. So one of his assets is almost a half a century of experience and one of his liabilities is half a century of experience. He would be 82 years old at the end of his term if he ran for president. And it just may be that there's an impulse in the Democratic Party for generational change. And that one of these candidates who nobody is talking about now will emerge. And the other thing is, he's going to have to make a decision.

You talk about calculations, he knows this process. Does he really at the end of the day want to put himself and his family through it? Because it's not just sitting with Chris Cuomo for 45 minutes, it's putting up with the daily aggravations, attacks, assaults. It's a slog. And you really need to think about whether you want to put yourself through that. And nobody knows the process better than Joe Biden.

BASH: David's talking about generational change and somebody coming out of nowhere, like he knows what he's talking about. It's so weird.

COOPER: But I mean, but Joe Biden also knows what it is like. I mean, he's done it before. And it's one --

BASH: A couple of times.

COOPER: -- thing to be, you know, people talking about you running and everyone saying nice things about you. Once you actually start in that arena, you know, the interview turns more aggressive and things from the past come out, mistakes you've made, things you've said.

BASH: Absolutely. And, you know, so far, there is one candidate, now president, who has been kind of had a teflon coating over him with regard to those things. You know, Joe Biden, at least, from what we've seen, is a more realistic, traditional politician who might not have that.

[21:55:15] COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash, David Axelrod, thanks.

Up next, something that made just about everyone simply stop and watch. A look at today one of the world's most powerful rockets. One of the results in which the David Bowie music is now being endlessly blasted in space which is, of course, pretty cool, details on this ahead.


COOPER: A picture-perfect launch today for the world's most powerful rocket, Spacex launched its falcon heavy this afternoon at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was a smooth liftoff. A few minutes later, another first, two of the rocket's boosters actually landed upright back on earth. How cool is that? Onboard the rocket, Elon Musk's personal tesla, a dummy is at the wheel, and the car is blasting David Bowie on an endless loop with a plan for it to orbit around the sun. Musk says he loves the thought of a car drifting endlessly through space, maybe being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future. Pretty wild.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight".