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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Won't Say Whether He'll fire Mueller Or Rosenstein; Former Trump Attorney Warns Trump that Michael Cohen Could Turn On Him. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 18, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin with some breaking news tonight. New comments tonight from the president when asked if he's going to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. At a press conference at Mar-a-Lago, the president was asked whether he's concluded that it's not worth the political fallout to remove them.
Now, this is how his answer began:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion and that's been so found as you know by the House Intelligence Committee. There's no collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's how he began and went on for quite a while.
Now, keeping them honest, as long as he keeps saying that, we'll keep saying this. The Mueller investigation is not over. We don't know what it will find.
As for the House Intelligence Committee, as you know, that was a Republican-controlled committee whose investigation dissolved with the Republicans saying there was no collusion, but the Democrats saying there was more work to do, and it was chaired by Devon Nunes who was caught not telling the truth about his relationship with the White House as it related to aspects of the Russian investigation.
As for the president's response, the actual question about firing Mueller and Rosenstein, here's what he said:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they're still here. So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, it is true that Mueller and Rosenstein are still there, but that doesn't really answer whether or not he's concluded it's not worth the political fallout to fire each of them and as we know, fortunes and minds can change in a heartbeat in this White House.
Now, this is actually the second time today the president has mentioned the Russian investigation and surrounding drama. As former FBI Director James Comey continued media interviews this morning for his new book, the president was doing a little writing himself or rewriting as it were, rewriting the reason why he the president chose to put the former in former FBI director.
This morning, the president tweeted, quote: Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI director in history, was not fired because the phony Russia investigation, we're by the way there was no collusion except by the Dems.
Now, you have to admit, for one tweet, it kind of scratches a fair amount of the presidential itches. There's a nickname, there's the ever-popular all caps no collusion, and most importantly, a totally different version of events from what the president has previously said.
Keeping them honest, we know the president fired because of the Russian investigation. Now, when I said we know it, I mean, we know it as much as we can know anything the president says. In other words, we know he said it, whether it's true, that's an entirely different story. But we know he said it, he said very clearly that he fired Comey because the Russian investigation and we know he said it because there was a camera there pointing right at him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that was in May of 2017, right after he fired Comey, attributing his decision to the Russian investigation. Today, he says he didn't fire him because the Russian investigation.
If there were anyone else involved in this, some other administration official who was saying something contradictory to the president, we'd say it was a messaging problem, that you know the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. But this is just the president directly contradicting himself, it's like -- it's like the left hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing or the left hand is lying or the left hand is betting that there are enough people who only care about the latest version of whatever he's saying, truth and constant consistency be damned.
Also, it wasn't just what he said to Lester Holt a day after he fired Comey. The president also made it very clear why when he met with Russian officials in the Oval Office. According to reporting of "The New York Times", he told the Russians that he had just fired the head of the FBI who he described as crazy and a real nut job and said, quote, I face great pressure because of Russia, that's taken off.
Now, that came from a document summarizing the meeting which was read to "The New York Times" by an American official. No American reporters were allowed in that meeting, even these photos came from a Russian news agency.
So, keeping them honest, it comes down to what you believed. Do you believe what the president said on national television at the time, what he also said to the Russian officials the day after he fired Comey, or what he tweeted this morning?
On "The View" today, Comey was asked why he thinks he was fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I don't know. I took him at his word when he told that to Lester Holt and I read in the media that he also said that privately to the Russians the next day in the Oval Office. So I took him at his word, I don't -- today's tweet, which I've seen, I don't follow him on Twitter, but I've seen the tweet. Both of those things can't be true. I actually think that illustrates part of the problem that I'm trying to bring up, that it matters that the president is not committed to the truth as a central American value, but so I don't know what to make of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that brings up another possibility, the danger in taking this president at his word and the possibility that the president simply can't keep his own story straight, which is a somewhat troubling notion as those who don't remember or don't care about the truth of their own history are prone to rewrite it.
[20:05:10] Joining me now is CNN national security analyst and "New York Times" national security correspondent Matthew Rosenberg.
Matthew, as we just heard, president stared down a camera year ago explained in his own words why he fired Comey. The idea that he would just revise that reasoning now as if the rest of us don't remember it seems kind of incredible.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, there's a lot about the Trump presidency that seems incredible we're not even two years into the thing yet, and I think what we're seeing here and what we saw in that Oval Office meeting that you made reference to was this really unusual friendliness towards Russia that isn't always easy to explain, and we're still seeing it. We saw it in this refusal the kind of implement the latest round of sanctions.
And I think, you know, there's a relationship here that we don't fully understand or it isn't fully explainable and the president's never really fully explained it and Comey seems were being caught up on the wrong side of that to a degree.
COOPER: I mean, we found out it was from your reporting with others in the New York Times that the president met with Russian officials the day after you fired Comey and pretty much echoed what he had said in that interview.
ROSENBERG: I mean, he said that he told the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister that the firing Comey relieved create pressure on him, he called Comey a nutjob. I don't think the president ever imagined that these comments would get out to the wider public. There were 12 pages of typewritten notes taken by a note- taker in that room.
And there was a lot in that meeting. He also shared incredibly sensitive classified intelligence with the Russians as well. And so, you know, we're in this weird position where the president when he has time to think about what he's saying says, well, I didn't fire Comey. I -- you know, when he's premeditated about it, goes, well, he points to the Hillary investigation and other issues, but when he's in a private moment or when he lashes out, then it's -- I fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.
I didn't want it. I wanted it over and firing him kind of relieved the pressure on that. It didn't in the end because we now have Robert Mueller. But I think he thought so at the time that was going to.
COOPER: But also was so interesting about his Russia comments back then was that it contradicted, you know, the day Comey was fired. I mean, I was on the air that night and a lot of White House folks -- I interviewed Kellyanne Conway, you know, were pushed out in front of cameras in order to say that, you know, he was fired because basically the way he had treated Hillary Clinton. That was the initial narrative that they were pushing, and then the president reversed that in that interview and also with what he had said to the Russians.
And then I just interviewed a White House official -- I think it was like two nights ago who said a whole new reason which I never heard someone from the White House saying and I'm maybe I just missed it. But this White House official the other night was saying on the air that the reason Comey was fired because Comey leaked -- leaked information, which seems a whole new reason that just kind of they've suddenly popped up with.
ROSENBERG: Yes, this White House is not great at staying on message. I think what we saw that first night when Comey was fired was that they had agreed upon what the message was and that there were a number of officials, the general counsel, a lot of people that were involved in making that decision and shaping how it was going to be presented.
But as Trump is want to do, he gets out there on his own the next day and he says what's on his mind. What's on his mind was the Russia investigation.
COOPER: It's been nearly a year since the president first won a record about all this, do you ever since why he would kind of go down this road again? I mean, obviously, he wants to respond to Comey because he can't help himself I guess.
ROSENBERG: I you know I think it it's the continuing Russia investigation itself which is infuriates him. It's Comey out there talking about it and questioning his integrity, questioning his honesty. And then he looks at Jim Comey and says, I'm not going to take that, I'm going to fight back.
And, you know, Trump has built a reputation as somebody who likes to fight back, who likes to play tough. And so, when he's being called out as he sees it, he's going to respond.
COOPER: Yes. Matthew Rosenberg, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Joining me now, criminal defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, author of "Trumped Up: How Criminalization and Political Differences Endangers Democracy", and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Professor Dershowitz, I mean, the president's changing story on why he fired James Comey, saying it wasn't about Russia, which is what he said to Lester Holt that it was about just days after it actually happened. I mean, shouldn't he stick to one story?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He should stick to no stories. He shouldn't say anything about it. But it's obvious that the effort was to end the Russian investigation. I mean --
COOPER: And that's OK in your opinion?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, it's not OK. I think it's not illegal. I don't think it's a crime because the president does have the authority under a unitary executive theory to tell his attorney general, I want you to investigate this, but not that.
Thomas Jefferson said, I want you to put Aaron Burr in jail. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said I want you to put the Nazi saboteurs in the electric chair. I don't want you to investigate that.
That should change. That's not OK. But it's not illegal today under the law.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It sure is. I mean, this is a fundamental disagreement than Alan and I have that -- you know, all those examples of setting investigative priorities are certainly within the president's power, but if the president fires the FBI director to stop him from investigating the president himself.
[20:10:07] That is a corrupt motive. That is the definition of obstruction --
COOPER: So, you're saying the intent matters?
TOOBIN: The intent is the whole story.
DERSHOWITZ: That's the point. It's the whole thing. You never can have a crime with the intent is the whole thing.
You have to have an illegal act, and you can't have an illegal act when the president acts within his constitutional authority.
TOOBIN: But, Alan, you're making that up.
DERSHOWITZ: Metaphysically, you can't have an act that is both constitutionally authorized under Article 1, under Article 2, and at the same time is criminal. And you must have an actus reus. You must have an illegal act.
And it would undercut the power of the president to start questioning why he pardoned, why he fired. Once he did it, it's within his authority. You can't question him -- just like you can't question a senator for his vote on the Senate floor, and you can't question a judge for their vote in the Supreme Court.
TOOBIN: The laws are full of examples of acts that are otherwise legal --
DERSHOWITZ: Not by presidents.
TOOBIN: -- but made illegal by the intent, insider trading being a perfect example. But -- I mean, you have said this that the president, you know, has this unfettered ability to act, but what's the authority for that? I mean, this unitary theory? I mean, that's a controversial theory that not everybody agrees with.
DERSHOWITZ: Take, for example, insider training. The act is trading having information that you obtained improperly and illegally. So that's the act. But I know of no case they purposely did not impeach Clinton, they did not impeach Nixon, they did not try to impeach Bush, all of them engaged in acts -- particularly Bush with an alleged corrupt motive -- he pardons all these people, Caspar Weinberger, in order to end the investigation that was going to lead --
TOOBIN: On his last day in office.
DERSHOWITZ: No, but that was the conclusion done by the special prosecutor and nobody suggested, nobody, no historian, no lawyer, that President Bush committed a crime or an impeachable offense by engaging in a pardon to stop an investigation of himself.
COOPER: I want to move to another legal matter, which is the Michael Cohen situation that the president, Michael Cohen, and their teams are going to be able to review, it seems like some of these -- of these documents. How difficult is it going to be for the defense to prevent at least a good part of these documents from actually being used by the FBI?
TOOBIN: It's going to be impossible and it should be impossible because attorney-client privilege is a narrow privilege, and it applies only to certain communications when there is an actual attorney-client relationship, and I think the judge is setting up a sensible system where there will be a review of these documents to see whether any are covered by the attorney-client privilege, and those will be excluded and that's proper. But most of these documents will not be.
DERSHOWITZ: You'll recall that I made that suggestion on this show and, Jeffrey said it was a terrible idea.
TOOBIN: I didn't say it was a terrible. I said I thought it was unnecessary.
DERSHOWITZ: He thought it would be a waste of time and unnecessary.
TOOBIN: I still do, but it's not a bad idea.
DERSHOWITZ: Now, suddenly, it's a good idea. I think I still think it's a good idea.
DERSHOWITZ: Look, you're going to have a judge or somebody assigned by the judge to look through the papers and I hope he's right. If there's nothing that's lawyer-client privilege here, let the prosecutors see it all, let them prosecute. But if they find communications between a lawyer and a client that are legitimate, no FBI agent should get to see that and leak it.
COOPER: Professor, thank you very much.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin as well, thanks.
Well, up next, we have more breaking news. New reporting tonight that the president has been warned that Michael Cohen will turn against him if he faces criminal charges. We'll wait until you hear who warned the president this. Details on that next.
Also ahead, the president claiming in a tweet that California's governor is trying to back out of having the National Guard at the border and using the phrase crime-infested and a breeding concept in reference to immigration. I'll talk it over with Univision's anchor Jorge Ramos.
[20:17:37] COOPER: More breaking news tonight, this from "The Wall Street Journal" just came out. Reporting that one of the president's longtime legal advisers warned him just a few days ago that this lawyer -- that his lawyer Michael Cohen would flip on him if he was faced with criminal charges.
Michael Rothfeld of "The Wall Street Journal" joins us now on the phone with the breaking story.
So, Michael, first of all, can you just explain who this advisor the president is Jay Goldberg and what he's advising the president about Michael Cohen?
MICHAEL ROTHFELD, WALL STREET JOURNAL (via telephone): Sure, Anderson. Jay Goldberg is a seasoned attorney. He's been with a criminal defense lawyer and a prosecutor. He's worked with Donald Trump for many years. He started in the '90s and the 2000s, and he has -- you know, he's experienced litigator.
He told President Trump in a call Friday morning that if Michael Cohen were charged, well, he basically says -- you know, even Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, mob guys, when they're faced with prison time, they flip. And pretty much anybody that is facing that situation is going to flip. Michael Cohen is certainly not a hardened Mafioso, so if he's going to be charged, he's likely to turn on the president and told President Trump to be careful of that.
COOPER: It's so interesting. I mean, the -- what reason is Goldberg citing to back up his claim that Cohen is so untrustworthy? Because in your article, Goldberg says that Cohen is a one on a scale of one to a hundred on the trustworthy scale, and that's -- I mean, that's --
ROTHFELD: Yes, yes, I mean, obviously, he you make speculating based on his own experience and saying that, you know, Cohen is a family man. He's, you know, he's primarily been a lawyer and a businessman. He's not clearly the kind of career criminals that Jay Goldberg has witnessed in his lifetime in his professional legal career. So he's essentially saying, look, a guy like this from what I've seen is almost certainly going to flip.
COOPER: It's interesting because it sort of backs up what Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti has been saying on a lot of television programs, including this one, that, you know, Michael Cohen talks a big game. I think he said at one point, he would take a bullet for Donald Trump. He would do anything for him, but the kind of the bigger somebody talks, the harder they fall.
What was the president receptive do we know to Goldberg's advice? Did he indicate to Goldberg that he shares his concern?
ROTHFELD: Well, I mean, if President Trump said, Michael, you know, Michael's very strong and he has confidence in him.
[20:20:01] And, you know, Cohen as you said has been tweeting, I'm never going to abandon, you know, the president. But -- and we know -- well, it's been reported that he called Michael Cohen same day as he spoke to Jay Goldberg on Friday. It's not clear the timing of if he got off the phone with Goldberg and then called Cohen after that, because he did speak to Goldberg in the morning, but he did thank him, he didn't give a lot of feedback other than saying, you know, I think Michael is a strong guy.
COOPER: It would be interesting to know you know the timing if he call Cohen after talking to Goldberg. It's important to point out the Goldberg is confirming this on the record. I mean, he talked to your newspaper.
I know my colleague Gloria Borger also just talked to him and she'll join me a minute.
Is there any reason to believe that Goldberg has a pre-existing beef with Cohen that might be influenced --
ROTHFELD: No, not at all. No, I mean, he doesn't have any acrimony with him. His -- I think his motivation is to perhaps publicly warn the president. We spoke to him this morning at his apartment on the Upper East Side, and I think he probably wants to make sure that what he's saying is heard loud and clear. You know, if Michael Cohen calls you, if Michael Cohen tried to visit you, just be careful that he's not wearing a recording device. So I think that's his motivation.
Michael Rothfeld, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Fascinating reporting from you tonight.
Joining us now are CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN political director David Chalian, and CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Julie Hirschfield Davis.
Gloria. I know you called Jay Goldberg as soon as this story broke.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
COOPER: You've known him for quite a while.
COOPER: What did he tell you?
BORGER: Well, he told me -- he told me the same thing. And, you know, let me give you a little context about Jay Goldberg and Donald Trump. Jay Goldberg negotiated both of Donald Trump's divorces from Marla and from Ivana, so they go back a long way, and the president does call him from time to time.
And last Friday morning, he was sort of surprised to get this to get this phone call from the president, and he just flat-out went out of his way to say, look, I know you're close to Michael Cohen, but let me just tell you something, this guy is going to end up cooperating with the prosecutors because he said -- and I'm going to quote him here -- anybody who is facing 30 years never stands up. Without exception, a person facing a prison term cooperates.
And he also warned him that he might also wear a wire, and then he also said to the president, do not speak to the special counsel. They can jam you up even if you're telling the truth.
And so, you know, the president has, you know, a long-standing relationship with Jay Goldberg, whom I believe is in his mid 80s and when I asked him what did the president say to you, he said that he was quiet and that there really wasn't much of a response at all.
COOPER: I mean, I -- just the idea of Michael Cohen possibly wearing a wire --
BORGER: Yes. COOPER: -- when talking the president, I mean, that is stunning. He did go to have dinner, I think it was at Mar-a-Lago two weekends ago if memory serves me correctly.
COOPER: Time is sort of truncated.
But was it clear to you of Goldberg is advising the president to even remain in contact with Cohen, or is it to just be, you know, careful and watch what you say?
BORGER: I think it's -- I think, you know, if it were up to Goldberg, the president would not have any conversations with Michael Cohen. But -- and he knows -- and by the way Goldberg knows Michael Cohen a little bit and he has, you know, made the case to me that -- you know, he has nothing against Michael Cohen. But the president has always been his client. Donald Trump has always been his client.
He also recommended a lawyer that he thought perhaps should join the president's legal team. He wouldn't tell me who that was, but it's from a large firm. And I think that he -- it's interesting to me quite honestly that the president is reaching back to speak with a lawyer that he is known for decades and decades to try and feel him out on this because he has clearly has a comfort level with Jay Goldberg.
COOPER: You know, David, Michael Cohen is always positioned himself as I was saying to Michael from the "Wall Street Journal", a second ago, you know, is the most loyal of all Trump loyalists, he'd take a bullet, he'd do anything. How surprising that it -- I mean, is it to you that at least one of the president's allies is now very publicly advising him, look, you know, be wary of him because everybody -- everybody flips?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Anderson. I'm glad you just raised with Gloria that Mar-a-Lago dinner because one of the things in watching the Cohen-Trump relationship in this period of time is watching for any cracks in it. And so far, we haven't seen any cracks.
You're right, Michael Cohen's out there saying I'll jump off a building for him, Donald Trump is inviting him and embracing him and having dinner with him in public view -- obviously, that was before the raids, but nonetheless while the swirl of Stormy Daniels and all the questions were still around him. And so, you're looking to see, are there going to be any cracks?
[20:25:00] And now you have an old colleague, lawyer, confidant of Donald Trump's for decades call him up and try to chisel a crack in that relationship. And I think we just to keep watching here to see if indeed from the president side or Cohen side, we see them participate in any separation.
COOPER: Julie, I mean the idea again of Michael Cohen wearing a wire in the presence of the president, is that even possible given that the Secret Service screens people come in contact with the president?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I highly doubt it. I think -- I think the advice that this old friend of President Trump's was trying to get across is you don't know what he's going to do if he's faced with real legal jeopardy and the real threat of a prison term.
And I do think it's interesting, you know, Gloria mentioned that you know he's calling somebody who he's had a relationship with for many, many years, and who isn't currently advising him, I think this speaks to how really nervous the president is and in some ways feels that he hasn't been well-served by his team of lawyers that he had both in the White House and outside in all of these matters. He's got the Mueller investigation that he's dealing with now, the potential that this Cohen raid hasn't opened more doors of, you know, legal complications for him and he really is sort of reverting back to the team of people he's had around him for so many decades because he feels that he's not being protected and we know that this president feels like he always wants to be insulated in some ways.
The problem is there's no way to do that right now. There's so many avenues that this raid has now opened for him and he's very worried about the consequences of that.
COOPER: You know, Gloria, I mean the elephant in the room is obviously the prospect of pardons. There was that, you know, the recent Scooter Libby pardon, which could be seen as a possible signal to anyone about thinking about flipping on the president. I guess the question is whether the president willing to risk the blow back if he were departed Michael Cohen and frankly, I'm not even sure among his supporters there would be any blowback.
BORGER: You know, I asked Jay Goldberg about whether the question of pardons came up, and he sort of changed the subject, and I'm not -- I'm not sure whether there was a miscommunication or not. It seemed to me like it didn't come up in this in this particular conversation.
I think what you had was an old friend who did Trump's divorces in which, I might add, Trump did very well -- did his divorces has been in touch with him and his friends with his wife also. You know, I was told them he called the president called the wife answer, talked with the president for five minutes or so, president said, how am I doing, she said you're doing great, puts Jay on the phone. They have this conversation.
And I think to Julie's point, the president wants to hear from people he feels that they have his best interests at heart because he has known them for decades.
CHALIAN: And he thinks Michael Cohen -- sorry, Anderson, I was going to say.
CHALIAN: He thinks Michael Cohen is one of those people.
BORGER: He does.
DAVIS: That's right.
CHALIAN: That's a role that Michaels Cohen has played. And so, that's why the level of concern is so high for the president because Michael Cohen isn't just really close, Anderson, Michael Cohen in their entire relationship --
CHALIAN: -- he's in charge of the weak spots of Donald Trump, in charge of the potential pitfalls. That's what the role of the fixer has been, and so that's why the level of concern gets ratchet up so much.
BORGER: And he's so loyal. I mean, you know, there is no more loyal person to Donald Trump than Michael Cohen, and I believe the president may have said that to Jay Goldberg in one way or another. But, you know, he was generally quiet in listening to this advice. But I think it must be hard for the president to hear that to be honest.
COOPER: Julie, if Michael Cohen does flip, if that circumstances arises, I mean it wouldn't just be the president who potentially Michael Cohen has information about. I mean, Michael Cohen has been at the epicenter of an awful lot of conversations and deals and hush agreements and who knows what else and who knows what other sorts of activity that he might be able to point a finger at other people about.
DAVIS: Well, that's true and, you know, we heard a little bit about who's on his client list the other day at the hearing. But the point is that, you know, the president and his legal team and Cohen and his legal team don't know exactly what the prosecutors now have and that was part of what was behind this, this dispute in court the other day.
They really need to know what the prosecutors are working with before they know how they can respond, and I think that it sounds like from Gloria's reporting and "The Journal's" reporting that that was part of this conversation, is they're trying to devise a strategy to figure out what to do about the fact that now these investigators have this trove of documents. So, you're right, it could -- it could be much broader even than we're imagining now.
COOPER: Gloria, just finally, do we know who kept Michael Cohen out of the White House from working in the White House?
BORGER: I -- that's a really good question. I presume the president did and the president's family did. Now, I've been told by a source close to Michael Cohen that Michael didn't really want to go in the White House, that he felt he could serve the president better by remaining outside the White House.
But then I've been told by other people that of course he wanted to go serve in the White House. He's a political person. He is a Democrat by the way, but that he did want to go in.
But, you know, so you hear it sort of both ways, but I think the decision was made that it wouldn't be the best thing for the President.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. Thanks everybody, appreciated.
More breaking news from President Trump's news conference, he reiterated his claims this evening several times that no one has been tougher on Russia. We'll take a look at whether that's true, we'll talk about and hear what he's saying now about new Russian sanctions after war of words about whether there actually would be any.
COOPER: More breaking news from President Trump's news conference this evening, the President now insist the new sanctions will be slap on Russia for its support of Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, when the time is right. He also said this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. Between building up the military, between creating tremendous vast amounts of oil. We raised billions and billions of dollar extra in NATO. There has been nobody tougher than me. With the media, no matter what I did, it's never tough enough, because that's their narrative. But Russia will tell you nobody tougher than Donald Trump.
COOPER: This comes after senior administration officials told CNN that the Russia Embassy was told there will be no additional sanctions against Russia. That was after UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, said there would be an announcement and there was drama all over that.
[20:35:07] Let's get the latest now from CNN's Jim Acosta who was at today's news conference at Mar-a-Lago. So U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley saying on Sunday on television on "Face the Nation" there would be additional sanctions -- Jim Sciutto, I'm sorry. Would be --
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No worries.
COOPER: -- with additional sanctions on Russia, possibly announced on Sunday or Monday by Steve Mnuchin. The White House then basically seemed to reverse that. Do we know what really happened?
SCIUTTO: Well, well what happened in the ends was is appears the Trump administration gave a clearer signal to Russia than it did to the President's own ambassador to United Nations with this message now confirmed by the White House saying that they told them there will be no new sanctions. Now early on this weekend, the message that was coming out or rather the explanation from the White House was that Nikki Haley have gone over her skies a bit, she got ahead of the policy process in announcing the sanctions. But in fact that doesn't look to be the case. The President appears to have changed his mind. And when he change his mind on imposing those new sanctions on Russia for helping support series, chemical weapon system, remember, that's the function of these sanctions.
When he changed his mind that message was not delivered clearly at all to the UN ambassador when she went out and met very public forum in United Nations to make that pledge. It is a -- embarrassing to say the least miscommunication. But, also frankly some misleading explanations from the White House. Early on blaming Nikki Haley when in fact it was the President who changed his mind.
COOPER: Yes and of course, be fascinating to know exactly what was in the President's head and why he reverse the policy. I mean you believe this fits a pattern from President Trump with his policy on Russia.
SCIUTTO: It does, with his own administrations policy on Russia. So there presumably there was some decision making policy, making process here where they decided to draw up these sanctions and then oppose those sanctions and then allow the UN ambassador to announced those sanctions to the world. The President changing his mind and then under cutting her and that policy.
You remember that when the U.S. expelled some 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. following the poisoning of the former Russian spy in UK along with many U.S. allies expelling diplomats at the same time, we learned afterwards that the President was surprised by the number, that that number 60 was in his view too high, that he wanted to be more in line with the single digits, that the number of European countries were doing.
Again, the President disagreeing with his own administration's decision as it pertains to Russia. And that's a real problem because it appears, Anderson, this reflects a division not only within the Republican Party with the approach to Russia, but within his own administration, and those divisions breaking out in the public eye.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Sciutto. Jim, thanks very much.
Still to come, the President hit the Twitter machine this morning. One of the more controversial outputs using the words crime infested and breeding concept, with federal presidential decode a ring to California gets some clarity from Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.
[20:41:39] COOPER: President Trump is taking aim again at California for its sanctuary laws, limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. The President is also raising questions by his choice of words, in a tweet this morning. Here it is, he said, "There is a revolution going on in California. So many sanctuary areas want out of this ridiculous crime infested and breeding concept. Chair Brown is trying to back out with the National Guard at the border. The people they say they're not happy, one security and safety now."
Now many did notice, that the crime infested as well as breeding as for exactly he meant. Even his secretary of Homeland Security couldn't quite explain why he mentioned breeding went ask about it this afternoon.
Joining me for his take on this I spoke to him earlier, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.
COOPER: Jorge, the President have use the term breeding concept, in his tweet this morning. I'm wondering what you thought by it he meant by that?
JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: It's -- I mean, I give up. I really cannot interpret President Trump. But what I'm seeing every single time whenever he talks about immigrants he is equating them with criminals. He's criminalizing a whole population. I was reading other of his tweets. He was talking about the Supreme Court reaction. He was saying that this is a public safety crisis. That's also a lie. He wants to keep America safe.
Well among the border between Mexico and the United States, you have some of the safest towns in the country. So I really don't know what the President was talking about.
COOPER: And specifically, I mean the referencing to breeding, I mean, obviously there is a number of critics just thought it was, it had -- you know, seemed racist.
RAMOS: Yes, and this is not the first time in which President Trump has made racist remarks when he said that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapist, that's a racist remark, when he said that Judge Gonzalo Curiel couldn't do his job simply because of his Mexican heritage, that's a racist remark. And when he said that people from Haiti and Africa nations were from S-hole countries, that's a racist remark. So, this is just -- one more, the problem that I see Anderson is that, this is becoming normal.
And I think hate is contagious. And if the President of the United States is making racist remarks, just imagine what his reporters might be saying in social media which I read all the time. I think, we cannot normalize this behavior. And this is not normal, we are not in normal times.
COOPER: The President -- I mean has been very frustrated with the state of California, their laws that restrict local police from informing federal agents about people who are being released from prison who are undocumented. Even two California counties, Orange County and San Diego, I mean they sided with the Trump administration on this issue of helping federal authorities.
RAMOS: Yes, but I think San Diego is on the wrong side of history. Who's going to be defending immigrants? And I think the Trump administration continues to arrest people who have no criminal records. They continue to destroy thousands of families. And, you know, I just came from the border, I was visiting Brownsville in Matamoros, Mexico. And I can report to you, that there is no invasion at the border. No invasion whatsoever.
As far as I know Mexico has not been declared an enemy of the United States. And, not only that, I didn't see armies of bad hombres willing to jump the fence. So I think, what the President is doing, suing California, and what he wants to do with the National Guard sending thousands of them to the border is completely useless. It's a waste of time and money.
[20:45:10] COOPER: It was interesting to hear the President, it was -- I think more than a week ago that he used the term enemy combatants, were saying that enemy combatants where coming across the border which I think may be the first time that he's used that term. I'm not sure if that was in order to try to get the military to pay for the construction of the wall. But the idea that there were enemy combatants, al-Qaeda and the like coming across the border, that certainly is a stretch.
RAMOS: I certainly didn't see that. I have been going to the border hundreds of times Anderson and I have not seen that. 9/11, all the terrorists that came to the United States didn't come through Mexico. And again, this is just another example in which Donald Trump is trying to criminalize an immigrant population.
Clearly Donald Trump is the most anti immigrant President since the 1950s. he wants to cut legal immigration by half and he wants deport as many immigrants as he can. During the campaign, you might remember, he wanted to deport 11 million people in two years. He is completely impossible. But this is exactly the man whose president of the United States bring up.
COOPER: Can you understand though his frustration with a state that does bar local authorities from alerting immigration agents, if, you know, a dangerous criminal who is in the country illegally is being released from prison?
RAMOS: Yes, I can agree with that. And I am not defending any criminals. I think that would be ludicrous and it doesn't make absolutely any sense. But to criminalize the whole immigrant population simply because of what a few people are doing is -- I think is completely wrong. It is as if I would saying that all white men in the United States might be criminals simply because of what Stephen Paddock did in Las Vegas last year killing 58 people. It is not right and it is not appropriate.
COOPER: Jorge Ramos, thanks very much for your time.
RAMOS: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, chaos, terror and heroes. Southwest flight 1380 had all of those in a dramatic 22 minute emergency. The latest on the investigation next on 360.
[20:51:30] COOPER: OK. Fell from the sky, now according to reports, these items and others were in Burks County, Pennsylvania about 70 miles away from Philadelphia airport where the plane made that emergency landing. The safety board is asking anyone else who finds debris to contact them or the FBI.
Meanwhile, we're learning new details about the passenger row 14 who died. The Philadelphia health officials say the mom of two died of blunt impact trauma of the head, neck and torso. It's believed fragments of the engine hit her after they shatter through a window. There's also a lot of praise for the pilot who survivors said had nerves of steel during the crisis.
Polo Sandoval has more.
TAMMIE JO SHULTS, SOUTHWEST PILOT: Yes, we have part of the aircraft 52, we need to slow down a bit.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Captain Tammie Jo Shults piloting Southwest flight 1380.
SHULTS: Did you have the medical meet thrust on the runway as well? We've got injured passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Injured passengers, OK. And are you -- is your airplane physically on fire.
SHULTS: Not on fire, but part of it's missing. They said there's a hole and someone went out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry you said there was a hole and somebody went out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well the 1380 doesn't matter we'll work it out there.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): It was chaos on board but you wouldn't have known it listening to Captain Schults, experienced Navy fighter pilot among the first women to transition to tactical aircraft. Passenger saying she remained calm to the landing.
KATHY FAMAN, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: We dropped down. And then it was pretty steady. So -- and then they said we're going into Philadelphia and as smooth and then we had a very good landing. And the pilot was a veteran of the navy. She had 32 years in, a woman. And she was very good.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Shults dreamed of flying since she was a teenager. But she wasn't sure if it was possible with no professional female pilots at the time she faced an uphill battle. Telling her story in the book "Military Fly Moms", I had never touched an airplane, but I knew flying was my future. My junior year in college, I met a girl who had just received her Air Force wings. My heart jumped, Girls did fly. I set to work trying to break into the club. However the Air Force wasn't interested in talking to me. But they wanted to know if my brother wanted to fly.
She found opportunity with the Navy taking a test and filling out paperwork for officer candidate school. A year later she finally found a recruiter willing to accept her application. She set off to accomplish what she described as intense, joyful and a horrible experience. But she got through it. All of it preparing her to fly the plane on Tuesday, more damaged than even she knew. Shrapnel from the engine casing damage the aircraft, puncturing a hole in nearly sucking out passenger Jennifer Riordan.
TIM MCGINITY, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: Somebody screamed we realized what had happened, when the women went out. And so, I tried and tried, I couldn't. I just put -- and then Andrew came over. Just trying to get her back in.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Seated in row 14, the 43-year-old mother of two fatally injured. Nearby passengers tried desperately to keep her inside the aircraft.
PEGGY PHILIPS, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: They started CPR on the lady which we continued for about 20 minutes. We were still doing CPR when the plane landed. We made every effort that we could possibly make to save this woman's life.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Fellow passengers doing everything they could for the stranger who neighbors describe as full of life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a remarkable mother, remarkable wife.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Riordan's family devastated. Jennifer's vibrancy, passion and love infused her community and reached across her country. Her impact and everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured.
[20:55:07] COOPER: Polo Sandoval joins us now in Philadelphia. Where is the investigation stand?
SANDOVAL: Well, Anderson, late tonight word from the Federal Aviation Administration that the next two weeks they will be requiring that aircraft carriers begin to really start to focus or some of the carriers really start to focus on the engines of these planes. And it's the same model that was on this plane that was affected during yesterday's incident.
Of course the prevailing theory for investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board is that one of those fan blades was detached from the engine setting off this catastrophic chain of events. So, it's going to be extremely important that authorities and essence use ultrasonic equipment to look for any potential signs of any metal fatigue. Because as we heard tonight in what is expected to be the last press conference by the National Transportation Safety Board at least here, this investigation is certainly not over. But that is at least what their main focus of the investigation is tonight, Anderson.
COOPER: Polo Sandoval, thanks very much.
Up next new reporting tonight. The President has been warned that Michael Cohen will turn against him if he faces criminal charges. We'll tell you who gave the President that warning on the phone, when we continue.
[21:00:05] COOPER: Tonight news of a warning to the President from one of his long time legal advisers that his fixer could turn on him. On the table tonight will Michael Cohen flip when the President's former lawyer says it could easily happen?