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Former Trump Aide Says He Will Defy Russia Probe Subpoena; Schiff Calls for Nunberg to Testify Before House Intel Committee; Republicans Signal House Intel Investigation Could Wrap Up Soon; Who Knew Trade Wars Aren't Easy?; The Unpredictable President; WSJ: Payment to Porn Star Flagged As "Suspicious"; Former Trump Aide On Mueller Subpoena: "Screw That". Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

There's breaking news up and down the line tonight. For the first time, an ex-Trump adviser is openly and loudly defying a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller. Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg refusing to testify before the grand jury on Friday, refusing to turn over e-mail conversations with Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, and others, even Donald J. Trump.

Robert Mueller wants it, but today talking to CNN's Gloria Borger, Nunberg told Mueller in so many words what he could do with his subpoena.


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: They wanted it by 3:00 p.m. today. They want me over -- they want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?


COOPER: That was Sam Nunberg speaking to Gloria Borger. He's been speaking here and on other networks since mid-afternoon. He said tonight on MSNBC that he had been granted immunity to testify, raising the question of why he suddenly decided to snub the grand jury instead.

And Sam Nunberg said this to the lead's Jake Tapper about the case that he thinks Robert Mueller is building. Quote: They know something on him, Nunberg said. And, Jake, I don't know what it is. Perhaps I'm wrong, but he did something.

He also said that candidate Trump might have known about the Trump Tower meeting before the fact. He also said he knows that Donald Trump would not collude with Russia. In fact, he was far from consistent on much except that he wants nothing to do with the special counsel.

And there's more. There's reaction from one of the congressional committees. We'll have that breaking news in just a moment.

But first, the breaking news from CNN's Jim Acosta with late reaction at the White House.

How is the White House reacting to this slew of interviews that Sam Nunberg has been giving today and the news that he's refusing the subpoena?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think the reactions range from baffled to blowing him off. Among the baffled, they were watching as we all were this wild spectacle that unfolded on TV this afternoon.

But then there are some inside the White House, and I talked to a senior White House official earlier this evening that -- who said basically they probably won't have much more to say about this because they just view Sam Nunberg as somebody who just doesn't have much to say from a factual standpoint. He was fired from the campaign in August of 2015, and so they doubt that he has anything in terms of an important insight into what happened with respect to the Russia investigation that might be of interest to the Mueller team.

But, I mean, Anderson, obviously this is something that is a daily headache for this White House. You saw in the briefing earlier today the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was sort of giving her usual reaction when asked about the Russia investigation. She basically said, we're cooperating with the Mueller team. They're confident because they're cooperating with the Mueller team that there's essentially nothing that the president should worry about, and she went on to say once again that there was no collusion with Russia.

COOPER: Is there -- I mean, is there any sense that the White House is worried about Sam Nunberg, that he may know -- I mean anything he may know or at least how he's reacting to all this, the fact that he's going so public?

ACOSTA: Well, I talked to a source close to the White House earlier today, somebody who had worked on the campaign who said, listen, Sam Nunberg does not know what he's talking about. He was not around when any of these questions were going on. He can talk about how he thinks something may have happened with respect to Donald Trump knowing about that meeting at Trump Tower as he indicated in one of his interviews earlier today. But he wasn't around during the campaign to have any important insights on that.

I will say, though, I did talk to somebody else who worked with the Trump campaign during the election cycle who said, listen, Sam Nunberg is close to Roger Stone. He made that clear in a number of interviews today, that he is very close with Roger Stone. He doesn't want to see anything bad happen to Roger Stone.

And as you and I both know, Anderson, what Roger Stone has been up to and what he had been up to during the campaign, his contacts potentially with WikiLeaks and so on is of interest to the Mueller investigation.

And so, Sam Nunberg may have some insights on that. That obviously is something that they would want to talk to him about. And if you just listen to what Sam Nunberg said all day long, it was odd because he would say, I don't want to talk to the Mueller team. I'm not going to comply with the subpoena. But then he gave all of these reasons as to why the Mueller investigative team would want to talk to him. 2

You know, the Mueller team thinks he's the Manchurian candidate, that he might have been doing something with the Russians during the campaign and so on. He's essentially making the argument for the Mueller team to talk to him, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.

Before we bring in our panel, I just want to play you a sampling of some of what Sam Nunberg said today. And bear in mind, as you watch, the individual who is saying all this with possible prison time awaiting him is actually an attorney.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is really surprising news here that you are not going to comply with a subpoena from the special counsel. Can you tell us why?

[20:05:01] NUNBERG: Because it was absolutely ridiculous and all of it (ph). What they requested from me, I was trying to do for the last two days. And what they requested was they wanted every communication that I had with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon, who I talk to frequently.

They asked for communication with Carter Page. Give me a break. You think I would ever talk to that moron?

BORGER: What was it about Miss Universe?

NUNBERG: I think -- I think there was nothing there. Gloria, I never spoke to the president directly about it and Mr. Trump.


NUNBERG: I was told that if you had asked him, he would lie and tell you that Putin was there, OK? Fine. I was told that that idiot, Emin, had offered to send women up to Trump's room.

But Trump didn't want it. He doesn't do that. He's too smart for that.

BORGER: You're assuming that the reason the special counsel wants you before the grand jury is to talk about Miss Universe 2013 and what occurred during that --

NUNBERG: First of all, I -- well, actually I don't know why. Whatever they want, I can tell you I'm not going in. It's ridiculous.

The idea that we were the Manchurian candidate, Gloria, we were a joke. Everybody was laughing at us. The idea that we were colluding with the Russians, give me a break.

BORGER: Is that what you think the special counsel is getting at, or it sounds to me from some of your other answers you think he's looking into the more financial side of Donald Trump's life.

NUNBERG: He may. I don't know what he's looking into.

BORGER: Well --

NUNBERG: He may. He may. And you know what? Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You're actually willing to go to jail for this? Sam?

NUNBERG: I'm not cooperating. Arrest me.

TAPPER: You're not cooperating. Arrest you?

NUNBERG: Yes. I'm not cooperating. You're more than happy -- you want to arrest me, arrest me.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about that Trump Tower meeting. What do you make of it as somebody who has worked for President Trump?

NUNBERG: You know, I defended that meeting. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. You're going to disagree with me. There's nothing wrong with --

TAPPER: I don't know what happened at that meeting. Do you think that -- Donald Trump says -- President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting. Do you think that that's true?


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Do you have immunity? Were you offered immunity by Bob Mueller's team?

NUNBERG: They say to you that you're not a subject or target. Now, when you go in there, what they say is, as long as you tell the truth, anything else you tell them, you're not going to get charged of. And I told them all the truth. I mean, that was -- and once again, they were very, very good when I went in there.

BURNETT: So everything you've told them, they said they will not charge you for?


BURNETT: OK. So, back to this point about the texts --

NUNBERG: Texts? I don't even have text anymore. I --

BURNETT: Well, they can get them from your service provider.

NUNBERG: And they're more than happy to. You know what I was thinking about today by the way? I was thinking to save time -- I've been advised against it -- maybe I'll just give them my password, my e-mail password, because what do I have to --

BURNETT: Then you're going to comply.

NUNBERG: Then I would comply, yes.

BURNETT: So now you're saying you might comply?

NUNBERG: I have no problem complying in itself. What I'm not going to do is sit, Erin, for 15 hours after I sat with them --


COOPER: I want to bring in the panel, Jeffrey Toobin, Anne Milgram, Ryan Lizza and Gloria Borger.

Jeff, I mean, there's so much to talk about on this. Just how much legal trouble is Sam Nunberg in tonight?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, can I just say one thing first, that, you know, his latest stop on his media tour was with our colleague Erin Burnett, just upstairs from where I am now, and she said she smelled alcohol on his breath. And, you know, that is something -- and he denied he'd been drinking.

But given his behavior, I think that is certainly a possibility and, you know, just I think people should keep that in mind.

The legalities here are --

COOPER: I mean, certainly he seemed -- I don't know if erratic is the right word, but I mean --

TOOBIN: Erratic sounds like the right word to me.

COOPER: Not thinking clearly necessarily.

TOOBIN: To say the least, yes. And just to answer your question about the legal situation, I mean it's really very straightforward. You know, a grand jury subpoena is not an invitation to a birthday party. It is a legally binding obligation on the part of the recipient. And unless you have some sort of privilege like you take the Fifth, you have to show up.

And the idea that he keeps saying, it's ridiculous, and Roger Stone is my mentor, those are not legal reasons to refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena.

[20:10:04] And I am sure Robert Mueller's team does not want to get into a big public spectacle fight with this guy. I'm sure they will try to say to his lawyer, please talk to him. We don't want this to turn into a circus.

But at the end of the day, he's going to have to testify. And if he doesn't testify, they're going to lock him up, and he could be in prison for 18 months, which is the length of a grand jury term if he refuses to testify.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, the interview you did with him, to you, I mean, is he a credible person? Because again, in the interview with you and his subsequent ones, he was really all over the place, changing his story, changing his pushback in real-time.

BORGER: He was. And he made certain charges about what Mueller's thinking is, which I don't think we know. I mean, he said very flat out that Mueller believes that Donald Trump is the Manchurian candidate as in bought and sold for by the Russians. He believes thereafter Roger Stone. He believes that Trump may have done something wrong with the Russians.

So, you know, we don't know from Mueller's point of view what he is after. What we do know is that he testified for 5 1/2 hours before FBI investigators, and now they are asking him for more information, and he's refusing to give it. So the question it raises with me is, has he started looking at his e-mails, and is he wondering that, you know, whether he gave different testimony before the FBI than he has in his e-mails? I mean I asked him about that.

I don't think we know -- I don't think we know the answer to that and why, you know, what really precipitated this today.


BORGER: It's odd.

COOPER: Anne, I mean, a short while ago, our CNN contributor Josh Campbell, who's formerly with the FBI, said he believes somewhere a group of U.S. marshals are figuring out where Sam Nunberg lives and are preparing a plan to arrest him. Do you believe this will be getting to that point soon?

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, we still have a lot of time before Friday when he's supposed to appear before the grand jury. And, certainly, if he does not appear, then I do believe that the marshals will go out and essentially the special counsel will go before the grand jury judge and say, look, this guy didn't show up, and we have a lawful grand jury subpoena. And the judge will order him to appear and will hold him in contempt if he refuses to appear. And that does mean -- that means he'll be held in jail.

So, you know, we still have four days left to figure out what he does, but --

COOPER: But there was a 3:00 p.m. deadline today for Nunberg to turn over documents and he didn't comply with that.

MILGRAM: That's true. So Mueller's team could go in tomorrow and ask the judge. Again, I agree that they will try to get him through that door. They will try to get the documents.

I mean, it sort of almost goes without saying, but he spent an entire day doing national media that he could have been using to essentially get all these e-mails together. So, I don't think a judge will be very sympathetic when he says it would be too difficult and he doesn't have the time.

COOPER: Ryan, I mean, the fact that Nunberg said he called his lawyer today and his lawyer didn't call him back --


COOPER: -- I don't know what that says.

LIZZA: He had that 3:00 deadline. It reminds me of a student in college hitting the deadline and then panicking and going outside and pulling the fire alarm in a sort of desperate attempt to just not have to deal with this.

COOPER: By the way, we should point out, we don't know for sure, but there was a 3:00 p.m. deadline. That is something he said but we didn't see proof of it.

LIZZA: And that's the point I was going to make, Anderson, about Sam who -- any reporter that has covered Trump world has encountered Sam Nunberg. And the reason is he likes to talk to us. He likes to talk to reporters. He talks all the time.

I would bet that he generated half a dozen stories about what Mueller is investigating after he got out of his interview with Mueller the other day. If you notice, there were a lot of stories after his interview. And often, Sam is very, very helpful to a lot of political reporters and a lot of reporters who are covering Trump. But he's not someone who you would trust without confirming, let's just say.

So, I think Robert Mueller is probably watching today and realizing what a lot of people in political journalism realize, if Sam says something, you really want to look at it and have it backed up. And naturally, he must have told him something in that interview and now he wants some documentation. He wants e-mails. He wants more evidence.

So, I would say of all the sort of eccentric characters in the Trump universe, Sam would probably be voted by the people who know him, especially in the press corps as the most likely to go on a kind of wild media tour like this. So, it doesn't -- what happened today doesn't exactly shock me. I'm sure Gloria and Jeff, if they've encountered, would agree.

COOPER: Yes. But, you know, Jeff, let me follow up on that because -- I mean, a lot of the stuff Sam Nunberg was talking about was stuff that happened well after he had left the campaign. I mean, him saying that Donald Trump, Jr., he thinks Donald Trump, that the president knew about -- or the president-elect I guess at the time knew about the -- or I guess he was a candidate then -- knew about the Donald Trump Jr. meeting in advance with the Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

[20:15:02] He has probably -- I mean, unless he talked to somebody who did have direct knowledge, he doesn't have any direct knowledge on that because he was long gone at that point.

TOOBIN: He was gone for almost a year. And, you know, but it is true that Trump world people return. You know, Corey Lewandowski was fired. He remains on good terms with the president. So, the mere fact that he was fired doesn't mean that he doesn't know anything. But certainly many of the subjects he was asked about, he was just sort of spitballing and making stuff up, and he did not have direct knowledge.


COOPER: I got to take a quick break. We're going to have more on this. More on what's turning out to be a fascinating day centering around a fairly obscure former campaign aide for Donald Trump.

And later, some breaking news from the House Intelligence Committee and its Russia investigation.

Stay tuned.


COOPER: More on our breaking news tonight. Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg all over cable television today, saying he won't comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller. And as we discussed before the break, sitting next to Erin Burnett answering a tough question about his state of mind.


BURNETT: We talked early about what people in the White House were saying about you. Talking about whether you were drinking or on drugs or whatever had happened today.

Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath.

NUNBERG: Well, I have not had a drink.

BURNETT: You haven't had a drink? So, that's not --


BURNETT: So I just -- because it is the talk out there. Again, I know it's awkward. Let me give you the question so you can categorically.

Have you had a drink today?

NUNBERG: My answer is no, I have not.

BURNETT: Anything else?



NUNBERG: No, besides my meds.


NUNBERG: Antidepressants, is that OK? (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, back now, with our panel trying to unravel a frankly confusing set of declarations by Mr. Nunberg.

Gloria, when Erin Burnett, I mean, has to lean across the desk and tell Sam Nunberg she actually smelled alcohol on his breath, even by the standards of the cable news political coverage, that is rare if not unprecedented. Again, I got to ask you, what is going on?

BORGER: Well, it's very difficult, and I think it's very sad. I mean a bunch of us at CNN had heard from people who are in Trump world after these interviews started. I heard from a couple people after I had interviewed him that, in fact, we ought to be careful, that he wasn't well and that he was fragile and that he -- you know, he is somebody who has some problems with alcohol or whatever.

And so, you know, the question is, you know, you heard him answer it there, and he denied it. And so I guess, you know, you have to move on because what he was saying was clearly not helpful to the people who are Trump partisans. And let me give you a little bit of background here. He got fired by Donald Trump, and he does not like Corey Lewandowski.

COOPER: Why was he fired?

BORGER: He was fired because I think he -- I don't know. I mean I think he spoke out of turn. He disagreed with Corey. There was a whole lot of stuff. I think Corey was sort of the person he didn't get along with in the campaign.

And I think that he was very close to Roger Stone. Both of them were kind of exiled from the campaign. And what he told me today was the special counsel believes that Roger Stone was communicating with Julian Assange on WikiLeaks.

Now, again, this is his interpretation of what Mueller is asking about, and he said, you know, Stone is my mentor. And he did not collude with Julian Assange, and I'm just not -- I'm not going to talk about that before the grand jury.

TOOBIN: Anderson?


TOOBIN: It's really important to focus a little bit on what he was asked by Mueller's office, at least generally, because a couple weeks ago Mueller indicted 13 people for sort of the social media conspiracy, you know, the use of Facebook, Instagram on behalf of Trump.

What was not included in that indictment was anything related to the theft of the e-mails -- John Podesta's e-mails, the Democratic National Committee e-mails. And there is certain reason to believe that Mueller may be building a case involving, you know, who was responsible for the theft of those e-mails. The questions that Mueller's staff wanted to ask Nunberg were about Roger Stone, who at least in part seemed to have advance knowledge that this hacking was going on.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: So it does suggest that Mueller is investigating a sort of separate conspiracy related to the hacking of the e-mails. I'm not saying Roger Stone is guilty, Roger Stone was involved. But that general area of questioning seems to be something that's on Mueller's plate right now.

COOPER: Right.

Anne, I should also point out I think one of the other reasons about Sam Nunberg being let go by the campaign was there were some controversial Facebook postings he had made.

BORGER: Oh, that's right. That's right.

LIZZA: Racist postings on Facebook that were unearthed.

BORGER: That's right. I didn't -- that's right.

COOPER: Anne, how much does Nunberg's public behavior tonight impact what the special counsel does next? I mean, do you back off, let this play out? Do you nip whatever this is in the bud? Obviously, he's like very publicly challenging the special counsel to do something.

MILGRAM: Yes, I mean, I think he is very publicly challenging the special counsel. It's also very clear that they have interviewed him. They did a lengthy interview by his account, and now, they've asked him to come to the grand jury, which means that they believe that he has both documents and oral testimony to give. So they want him in the witness box in the grand jury to ask him questions. And so, they've made that decision that he has relevant and important information for the investigation, and I think that they will follow through to get him there.

Now, if he is represented by counsel, I'm positive that the special counsel team will reach out to his lawyer and say, look, we need him to come in. Otherwise, we're going to ask that he be held in contempt. And so, they will try to do everything they can, but I don't see Mueller backing down on this.

COOPER: Right, yeah.

Thanks to everybody.

Coming up next, more breaking news on this. We'll go live to the capitol for that.


[20:28:19] COOPER: We've got two pieces of breaking news in the wake of Sam Nunberg's show of defiance in the face of a Russia grand jury subpoena. One, the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat wants him to appear before the committee. And, two, Republicans signaled the committee's investigation could wrap up soon.

Reporting on both for us tonight is CNN's Manu Raju who joins us from Capitol Hill.

So, the top Republican is signaling that the House Intelligence Committee investigation could be wrapping up. What have you learned about that?


Mike Conaway, the Republican who's running the Russia investigation, had a back and forth with me and other reporters just moments ago, saying that this investigation is closer to the end than it is the beginning, not really making any commitments to interview witnesses beyond this week when we were expecting the former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to return to the committee for a second time after he did not initially answer questions about any topics after he left the campaign in the summer of 2016.

Conaway signaling that they can write a report pretty quickly. And other Republicans on the committee are being more forceful, saying it's time for this investigation to come to an end. So, pressure, Anderson, is growing from a number of Republicans on the committee who believe that they need to wrap up this investigation. But, of course, if they do, they're going to come to diametrically opposite conclusions than Democrats, who say there's a lot more to investigate as part of this probe, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Adam Schiff is calling for Sam Nunberg to testify as well.

RAJU: Yes, that's right. What really caught Democrats' attention, including Adam Schiff, were the comments that Sam Nunberg made earlier today that then-candidate Trump may have known or did know, according to Nunberg, about the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians in June 2016, before the meeting took place. I mean as you know, Anderson, for months and months and months, the White House has insisted the president had no idea about this meeting, even Donald Trump Jr. has testified before the House Intelligence Committee and other committee saying his father did not have any knowledge about this meeting before and immediately after it took place. But (INAUDIBLE) number saying today, very clearly that he believes of it that Trump did know about this meeting. Schiff says, these are lot of questions particularly about what then candidate Trump was saying at the time, that he would give a speech to detailing the president -- Hillary Clinton's old corrupt dealings with foreign governments including Russia. And this is what Adam Schiff said just moments ago about the Nunberg's comments, Anderson.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, we'd certainly like to know the basis in which he makes that statement. There certainly were comments by the President about you're going to learn something on Monday about Hillary Clinton. We're share something you'll find very interesting. That speech that he teed up which was going to take place after the Trump Tower meeting, he never gave. Now, was that because the Trump Tower meeting didn't produce what he hoped it would produce, we don't know. But certainly Mr. Nunberg has light to shed on what the President knew, before a Trump Tower meeting, would be interested in finding out.


RAJU: Now, Mike Conaway said, did not really have nearly as much interest as Adam Schiff. Really suggested that perhaps, they don't need to go any further about that Trump Tower meetings that we know everything, we need to know about that meeting going forward. So it shows you Anderson, the two sides going opposite directions and a key point this investigation as it looks like its much wrap up pretty soon Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Manu thanks. Joining us by phone is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congresswoman Jackie Speier Democrat of California.

Congresswoman Speier, I mean is Congressman Conaway correct, when he says that the House Intelligence investigation is going to wrap up soon? I mean is it really complete?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA (via phone): It's not complete, but we've been hearing rumors since November of last year that they were going to shut down the committee work at the end of the year. So it doesn't surprise me that Mike Conaway is now saying that we're closer to the end than the beginning. But I can assure you that from the Democratic point of view, there is still another 20 or 30 individuals that we think are pertinent to this investigation that should be brought to the committee to testify.

COOPER: So, I mean, when the Republicans are talking about wrap up, what do they mean? Because, I mean has the committee covered everything they need to and is concluding or has the investigation got -- just got to a point where it can't go forward in a bipartisan way and its ending?

SPEIER (via phone): I think the latter probably more than the former. I mean when you have an institution that is no longer credible and I believe that when this committee is at such lagger heads and that you have committee staff who are leaking information and to media outlets that they support, that come as top secret and confidential from the sister investigating committee on the Senate side, when you have them making rogue trips to the UK to try and find Christopher Steele when they call up witnesses with less than 24 hours notice, I mean they are not intend on doing an investigation. And we don't have a credible effort. Your actually, you know, nailing the last nail into a coffin of this committee's ability to do it shut. Much likely is doing memos that we talk about the three weeks. I mean you had a -- a very weak one that was now offered up by the Republican that by its own admission, wasn't typically as comprehensive as it should have been and its conclusions not supportive necessarily by the information they provided and then you have the Democratic memo which was very comprehensive and 10 pages long that really put everything into context. You could see the interest in doing the job is not at the same level between the two staffs.

COOPER: Yes, that's truly doesn't go well for future investigations either. Congresswoman Speier, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SPEIER (via phone): Thank you Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, the trade war President Trump said would be easy just got harder, thanks to top Republican and Congress and that's not the only item raising question about how well or how poorly the President thought this true. Tonight, keeping them honest ahead.


[20:33:25] COOPER: Trade wars are good and easy to win President Trump tweeting early Friday morning. Today, the lawmaker, he needs to pass the steel and aluminum tariffs to fight that war, House Speaker said no, "We are extremely worried about the consequences of the trade war. You know, urging the White House to not advance with this plan."

Statement from his folks what I read. Keeping them honest, you would think if this were so easy, you'd at least have your own party leaders on board. If this were easy, conservative economists would be lining up to support it, and they're not. You made industry support, but aside from steel and aluminum makers it hasn't happen so far. The Beer Institute CEO says aluminum tariffs would cost the beverage industry $374 million and lead to thousands of layoffs. Goldman Sachs estimate the steel tariff could cost Ford and General Motors, a billion dollars a year. If a trade war were easy, there would be no threat of retaliation on American products. If it were easy, the head of European commission would not be saying this.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION (through translation): So now we will also impose import tariffs. This is basically a stupid process in fact that we have to do this. But we have to do it. We will now impose tariffs on motorcycles Harley- Davidson, on blue Jean Levis, on Bourbon. We can also do stupid. We also have to be this stupid.


COOPER: That was Friday night. By Saturday, President Trump tweeted an answer, retaliate on cars, "We will simply apply a tax on their cars which freely points the U.S. Just one problem, BMW and Mercedes they actually make and sell more than half a million vehicles in this country in red states. No import duties on them."

[20:40:05] U.S. own GM on the other hand imports about a quarter of the cars and it sells here. So GM would be hurt. If you're thinking about now that this max of a President who hasn't really thought this through very well, that's exactly how it happened. As we and others have reported, when the President launched this, he was winging it. That said the White House is not backing down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a study release today showing that this would be a type of proposals and net loss of 146,000 jobs. Has the White House studied how many jobs they lost or created because these policies?

SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Look, this is something the President is committed to doing and he feels that both our national security are vitally important in this process and we have to be able to have these industries to protect that. And so that is a big part of the goal.


SANDERS: I'm not going to say that we're not looking at every facet of this, because we certainly are, it's been a very thoughtful and long process. But that is the focus of the decision that he is making.


COOPER: Two views now from two former White House insiders CNN's "Axe Files" host David Axelrod and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

David Gergen, when the President is unpredictable and a consistent, how much more difficult does it make I mean, they already difficult process of governing?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hugely, almost impossible. Anderson, it sounds old fashion to say, but trust remains the coin of the realm in politics as in many other professions. If the leader wants to have others follow in difficult times they've got to trust him. Trust what he says that is honest, trust that what we says he believes and he's going to do the same thing tomorrow and not change his mind the next 24 hours. And trust, he will keep his promises. And Donald Trump right now, I'm afraid, I'm trying to say is right at the bottom in all of those metrics.

COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean Senator Schumer is obviously no fan of the President set back in January that negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with jell-o. I mean base on what we've seen, he doesn't seem to be wrong there.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And look, I think what happened just in this latest series of events is that he painted himself into a corner on this issue of guns saying one thing at that public session and then getting a lecture by the NRA and private. And he wanted to change the subject. And so he prematurely ran out with this trade announcement that wasn't ready at defy it all. The advice of most of his economic and national security advisers that was light on details, you had to spectacle of the Secretary of Commerce appearing on a Sunday show saying, he didn't really know what the details of this latest trade edict from the President would be about on tariffs. How is the world supposed to calibrate its decisions based on these kinds of things? So he is behaving as if he is still in the campaign. You know, the trade issue was a great for him in the campaign, probably even more than immigration in terms of arousing his base. But now he's President of the United States. There are real consequences to these statements and actions and he doesn't seem it appreciate that.

COOPER: Yes. And David Gergen, I mean Sarah Sander say when she was press about the details of what the final tariff she going to look like. I mean she can really only say that she doesn't want to get ahead of the President which seems to increasing translate, so we have no idea what he is going to do.

GERGEN: I think -- I think that's right Anderson. We've never had a president that so unpredictable. That's not to say he is not doing some things right for the country, he's not say he is, you know, he is wrong on everything, but when it comes to trying to win the trust of others, starting here at home but very importantly other nations, you have to be consistent, you have to tell the truth. And the people feel they're not. Then they -- and with the North Koreans for example, it's very subject to miscalculation. Neither side really wants to conflict, but they could easily stumble into it, because of misstatements and promises not kept. And the same thing is now happening to the President on guns and DACA and now we see on tariffs. The Republican Party is not willing to follow him where they don't want to go. And --


GERGEN: -- you know, Speaker Ryan breaking with the President, that's really was quite a stunning statement.

COOPER: Well I mean David Axelrod --

AXELROD: Anderson, let me --

COOPER: -- yes go ahead.

AXELROD: -- well let me just say the thing that's unsettling about this is as serious as a global trade war might be, we're also in this very, very frayed situation with the North Koreans and we heard last week that the president was -- or I'm sorry that Pentagon was involved in table top exercises simulating various scenarios of conflict with North Korea all of which were apparently quite catastrophic. You can't casually slide into these things. And you don't want to be misinterpreted.

[20:45:02] COOPER: It's also David Gergen, so fascinating, because it so with odds with how he portrayed himself during the campaign is always hiring the best people as, you know, knowing how to run a major organization. I mean from the get go, the way the White House was organize was unlike any other White House and every former chief of staff I talked to him, for you and I talk about this pointed out. This is not going to work. It can't work unless everybody has clear lanes of authority and influence.

GERGEN: I agree. You can't turn and run on that hoc government. And very importantly Anderson, is very difficult to attract highly talented people and I think that -- the White House has been something in a crisis because it knows a lot of people are leaving but it's hard to identify that people who are coming. And that makes the next few months particularly unpredictable for the country. Because you got an experienced people, the experience people don't want to go. They -- why get involved in this by some people, young people are betting out the administration. They know they can't get jobs if they stay too long. They'll be honored in some parts of the country, the other parts of the country, because I don't think you belong in this organization.

And that's really hard. When you get to your -- twice as many people are leaving this White House as any other White House in the time he's been in office and with more to come. And it just means that the United States government which is supposed to be the rock of Gibraltar, the country that people look to for stability and the country that people look to for protection. When people no longer think they can't trust you, they will turn elsewhere like towards the Chinese.

COOPER: David Gergen, David Axelrod, guys, thanks very much.

A lot more when we continue including the latest developments on the cash payments of porn star Stormy Daniels. A payment made by President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen. And reported by the Wall Street Journal saying, it triggered a warning about suspicious activity.


[20:51:01] COOPER: The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight that the cash payment to a porn star made by President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, triggered a report to the treasury department. $130,000 payment was made to an attorney for former actress Stephanie Clifford known by her stage name Stormy Daniels. She was owed the money the "Journal" says for signing an agreement that prevents her from discussing a reported sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006 according to the newspaper.

Now, the payment was flagged as suspicious, the "Journal" says. With me now is Norm Eisen, President Obama's former ethics czar, and Michael Rothfeld, one of the authors of the "Journal" story.

So Michael, what was it about the payment that got it flagged as suspicious?

MICHAEL ROTHFELD, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: We don't know exactly what it was that the bank saw, but typically they would report a payment to the treasury department if there's something unusual about it or it's also possible they could have done that in response to some kind of government inquiry like a subpoena.

COOPER: And, Michael, I understand based on your reporting that Michael Cohen actually missed two prior deadlines to pay Stormy Daniels. Do we know why?

ROTHFELD: Yes. What we have reported is that Michael Cohen was trying to get in touch with Mr. Trump during the last days of the campaign to talk to him before he sent the payment, could not get in touch with him, missed those deadlines, and then ultimately decided to use his own money.

COOPER: So do we know, was -- I mean because that's really interesting. Was he always planning to use his own money?

ROTHFELD: It's not clear exactly why he -- the indication is that he was not going to use his own money. We don't know for certain exactly what whether he wanted to talk to Mr. Trump about the money, whether he wanted to consult with him about the deal in general, but, you know, the indication is that he -- after he could not get in touch with Mr. Trump, he went ahead using his own funds. And we know that afterwards, he was upset that he could not get reimbursed. He had not been reimbursed, which further indicates that he was not intending to use his own funds.

COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, I mean if the President knew about the payment and if he -- well, first of all, if he just knew about the payment and if he reimbursed Cohen ultimately with his own money, is that problematic for him?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is, Anderson. There's two legal problems. Trump is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, campaign finance law, Trump can't be taking $130,000 from Michael Cohen to benefit his campaign. On the other hand, federal financial disclosure law. Trump had to disclose possibly whether he had a loan from Michael Cohen or whether he had an interest in this company that holds the Stormy Daniels deal. So what Trump is in a very uncomfortable legal position, possibly so is Cohen.

COOPER: Michael, Sarah Sanders today, when asked at the briefing if President Trump and Michael Cohen talked about this payment at any time during the campaign or after, she said, and I quote, "Not that I'm aware of, and I'd refer you to Michael on that."


COOPER: Is Cohen talking publicly about it saying about it?

ROTHFELD: No. He made a statement last month, and he didn't address whether he talked to the President about it. He simply said he hadn't been reimbursed by the Trump organization or by the Trump campaign. He didn't say whether he had been reimbursed by Trump or by anyone else. So right now it's still unclear exactly, you know, where that money ultimately came from.

COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, I mean to the two points you made before, the last one being, I guess, then if the President didn't pay for this based on what you're saying, it could still pose problems for him because it would have had to have been reported as -- can you just repeat that? Reported as a campaign contribution?

EISEN: Yes. There's two sets of laws. On the one hand, it might have been campaign contribution of $130,000 by Cohen to help the Trump campaign. On the other hand, we don't know all the facts. Perhaps it was a loan that the President has never paid. He's got to report his loans on his federal financial disclosures, Anderson, or it may be that the President owns this company, essential consulting, that holds the agreement with Stormy Daniels. He has an obligation to report that. So whether it's his federal financial disclosures or his campaign obligations, it seems that there is some serious legal questions here. We need answers to that.

COOPER: You say serious legal questions, Ambassador. I mean what are the penalties for these, if anything?

EISEN: Well, the penalties for both violating your campaign obligations and for violating your federal financial disclosures, which every President must sign and certify, if there is an intentional violation, it can range up to criminal penalties now and people have been tried for both.

COOPER: All right. Ambassador Eisen appreciate it, Michael Rothfel, appreciate your reporting, thanks very much.

Stay with us on what's turned out to be a hectic Monday. Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg says he will not comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller. A statement causing, well, a lot of downstream ripples. We'll have all of that ahead.


[21:00:10] COOPER: Well to shame hunter as Thompson isn't around to see his words come to life. When the going gets weird, he wrote, the weird turn --