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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Distances Himself from Cohen As Probe Consumes Him; Jackson Withdraws As V.A.; Bill Cosby Guilty of Three Counts of Aggravated Indecent Assault. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 26, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:36] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's complicated. On the one hand, Michael Cohen is well-known as the President's long-time attorney, fixer, self styled Ray Donovan latter day Roy Cohn, someone trusted enough to issue threats on the President's behalf. Cut deals or even pay hash money without even the President's knowledge, according to Cohen.
On the other hand these days, now that Cohen is under federal criminal investigation and being raided by the FBI, the President appears to be easing or even shoving his consigliere under public transit. Listen to what he said this morning on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just tell you that Michael is in business. He's really a businessman, a fairly big business, as I understand it. I don't know his business. But this doesn't have to do with me. Michael is a businessman. He's got a business. He also practices law. I would say probably the big thing is his business. And they're looking into something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business. I can tell you he's a good guy.
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But isn't your business -- isn't his business your attorney, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I have many, many -- just so you understand, I have many attorneys. I have attorneys -- sadly, I have so many attorneys you wouldn't even believe it.
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: How many -- how much of your -- Mr. President, how much of your legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?
TRUMP: Well, he has a percentage of my overall legal work -- a tiny, tiny little fraction. But, Michael would represent me and represent me on some things. He represents me -- like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal he represented me. And, you know, from what I see he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going into this --
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Then why is he pleading the Fifth? TRUMP: -- which would have been a problem -- because he's got other things. He's got businesses, and from what I understand they're looking at his businesses, and I hope he's in great shape.
TRUMP: But he's got businesses, and his lawyers probably told him to do that. But I'm not involved, and I'm not involved -- and I've been told I'm not involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Imagine that conversation was with Robert Mueller. So, on the table tonight what the President said in a wide-ranging, free form often angry phone call.
Also another blow to candidate President Trump's promise to bring only the best into his administration, his pick to run the V.A. steps aside, his EPA Administrator grilled over ethics.
Also, tonight the man formerly known as America's Dad, Bill Cosby's new title, convicted sex offender.
We begin with Michael Cohen and the new reporting on his shifting relationship with Donald Trump which has actually been somewhat complicated for quite some time. "The Wall Street Journal's" Michael Rothfeld has just written about it. The headline, "Boss, I Miss You So Much: The Awkward Exile of Michael Cohen."
Michael Rothfeld, we spoke earlier tonight.
COOPER: This piece is fascinating. I mean, the relationship between Donald Trump as President and Donald Trump as a citizen and Michael Cohen, I mean, it's certainly I guess complicated would be the easiest way to explain it. The President seems to have insulted Michael Cohen for years, publicly and privately.
MICHAEL ROTHFELD, REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right. We reported that back in 2012 when Michael Cohen's son was having his bar mitzvah, Trump said he was going to come and didn't show up. And everyone was waiting for him, they even delayed the blessings. And Cohen was calling him and asking him to come and finally Trump shows up and gives this kind of somewhat insulting speech where he said, yes, yes, Michael was begging me to come here, I wasn't going to come but, you know, he just -- you know him, he just never lets up.
COOPER: And what -- I mean it does seem to -- the relationship basically seems very one-sided. I mean I don't quite understand Michael Cohen's motivation for -- I mean what does he need from Donald Trump? I don't know -- one can't get in somebody else's head. But I mean it seems like with Donald Trump, it's all a one-way street.
ROTHFELD: That's like many relationships that the President has had with different people in his life over the years, from the time he was in business even through the presidency when he's had a lot of aides that have kind of, you know, done their part and then he lets them walk away.
With Cohen, he was a guy who throughout his life wanted status. He ran for office on his own. When he started to get affiliated with Trump, he just really wanted to be by Trump's side. It kind of made him an important guy and he really valued that. But Donald Trump wanted someone in Michael Cohen who was going to do the things that he needed done and -- but not necessarily, you know, the loyalty isn't necessarily two ways.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, there's this belief that he and Cohen are super close, but you write that since the President took office, Cohen has struggled to get his attention.
ROTHFELD: That's right. Cohen, we understand, wanted to go to the White House, had told people that he might be chief of staff, but in fact Trump never really considered giving him a job in the White House. He thought Cohen would be a liability, he would be uncontrollable because of things like the Stormy Daniels deal and other things like that that could be damaging in the White House.
[21:05:15] COOPER: In order to get the President's attention, I understand Michael Cohen decided to be seen with Mark Cuban.
ROTHFELD: Right. He twice had meals with Mark Cuban out in public, and the media was alerted. One time in April of 2017 they had lunch. And another time in November they had breakfast. TMZ cameras showed up and afterwards we reported that the President called Michael Cohen and was like why are you having a meal with this guy who's criticizing me? And Cohen said, hey, boss, you know, I was just -- I only did it to set him straight, but Mark Cuban told us that he understood that Cohen was feeling neglected by Trump and he purposely had this meal with him to get the President's attention.
COOPER: It's a fascinating article. Michael, thanks for being with us.
ROTHFELD: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Digging deep now into all the tangled up threads, the Cohen- Daniels-Trump's story, more of my conversation with two distinguished attorneys, Harvard Law School, Alan Dershowitz, Author of "Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy," and Norm Eisen, former Obama White House Ethics Czar and former Ambassador to the Czech Republic.
I want to talk to the Michael Cohen's situation. Ambassador Eisen, I mean the President did not do his former attorney or current attorney unclear, which possible friend or frenemy any favors. He at one point -- I mean, he backed away from Cohen saying, well, most of what he does is business. I don't know anything about his business. Michael Cohen has made the argument that a lot of this stuff that was taken from his office is because of attorney/client privilege. The President is saying he did very, very little legal work.
And yet at the same time he also went against everything that Michael Cohen's representatives have been saying for weeks now, which is that the President knew nothing about what Michael Cohen was doing with Stormy Daniels, wasn't party to the agreement, didn't know about it, Michael Cohen paid with his own money. The President said that Michael Cohen did represent him during the Stormy Daniels thing.
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, it was an extraordinary performance. Michael Cohen -- as much as all of us were compelled by listening to the President's furious rantings so early in the morning, I didn't need my coffee after I watched "Fox & Friends."
Michael Cohen must have had a chill go down his spine when the President dismissed most of the substance of this investigation.
Remember, Cohen is relying on the attorney/client privilege with the President to protect this information. And then the President wrongly said that when it comes to the -- he minimized the crime, potential crime on the campaign finance. That's a very serious matter. That is not a poo-poo. He says, well, there was no campaign money. That's the whole point of it, Anderson, we're trying to determine if this $130,000 in hush money that was paid to Stormy was an in-kind contribution to the campaign or not.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, I mean if you were Michael Cohen's attorney, I cannot imagine you would be pleased with what the President said this morning?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Absolutely not, and I don't know why he is making life more difficult for Cohen.
Look, in real law practices, business and law get merged together. Many of the great law firms in this country do mergers and acquisitions and business deals. And separating out the legal from the business is often very complex. I taught legal ethics for years and that was one of the hardest issues to disentangle.
The President, frankly, doesn't have the knowledge or background to know which aspect of Cohen's practice are covered by the privilege and which are not covered by the privilege but he wants to opine about everything, legal, ethical, political and every other way and he doesn't help himself by doing it.
COOPER: Well, also for Michael Cohen's representatives to have been out on television for weeks saying Michael Cohen did this on his own accord, he's so loyal, he did paid it with his own money, the President didn't know, that's why the President didn't sign, he wasn't part of the agreement, he didn't need to sign, Michael Cohen didn't need to inform him about it. I mean, Professor Dershowitz, didn't the President basically kind of wipe all of that away, all of their efforts on Michael Cohen's behalf by saying, oh, he was representing me in this deal, no campaign money was used?
DERSHOWITZ: It was very ambiguous. He, you know, certainly you can interpret that as saying, I authorized him to do it if he was acting on my behalf, but he may have been saying, look, I didn't know about this particular deal, he was my lawyer for these purposes and I gave him a general authorization to make deals on my behalf but I didn't know about this particular one.
But again, why say it? Why create all this opportunity for cross examination if it ever comes to that or for putting it in a report to Congress which certainly will not help the President and it certainly makes it easier to flip Michael Cohen and to put pressure on Michael Cohen, if Michael Cohen has anything on the President, which there's no evidence he does.
[21:10:11] COOPER: Well, also --
DERSHOWITZ: But there's always that risk.
COOPER: Your description of the possible rationale of the President saying Michael Cohen had authority to represent me in all these matters, meaning like all the hush agreements that we paid, all the porn stars who made these allegations. I mean, it seems like an odd category for Michael Cohen to have any predetermined free hand to operate in. If that was his meaning, again, I don't think the President did himself any favors. Professor Dershowitz, thank you. Ambassador Eisen as well, thanks.
COOPER: Well, just ahead we'll get the panel's take on this and more on this morning's remarks, presidential phoner.
Later Dr. Jackson pulls the flag on his bid to run the V.A. What it says about the notion that President only chooses the best to be in his administration.
COOPER: Well, the day ends with North and South Korea's leaders holding hands. It began with the President throwing hay makers at the Justice Department and leveling veiled threats. Here's more of the phone call to "Fox & Friends."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn't be there -- they have a witch hunt against the President of the United States going on -- I've taken the position -- and I don't have to take this position, and maybe I'll change -- that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over.
So I'm very disappointed in my Justice Department, but because of the fact that it's going under, and I think you'll understand this, I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point, because what's going on is a disgrace.
[21:15:08] And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won't.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: He also railed against CNN. Said some nice things about last night's CNN Town Hall, said he did stay the night in Moscow, which James Comey says he denied, two times and also talked about his election victory and Kanye West.
Joining us is Michael D'Antonio, Alice Stewart, Bakari Sellers, Karine Jean-Pierre, Scott Jennings and back with us, Ambassador Norm Eisen.
Scott, just -- I mean, is there any realm politically or legally that it makes sense for the President to have done this interview?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, politically I actually think it makes a lot of sense for the President to talk to media outlets. I know, he usually talks to Fox but I think in many cases the President is his own best spokesperson.
I do worry about the legal implications of some of the things that he had to say today. I'm not a lawyer, I know we have lawyers here and they can opine on this but I don't want this to go badly for the President even though I want the President to get out there and continue to sell his administration's message. So it's a two-edged sword. And I think the President has always believed that he's working best when he's talking directly to the American people. It's just in this case, there are legal implications it could have serious negative ramifications for his future.
COOPER: There's talking with the press and then there's yelling into a telephone and having the Fox anchors look visibly uncomfortable and sort of try to interrupt and guide him.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Politically speaking, yes, as Scott said, it's a phenomenal idea for the President or any elected official to talk to the people directly through media but not for half an hour and not on such a wide-ranging area of topics and certainly not after you've had like 12 diet cokes for breakfast because it tends -- he was all over the place. There was no specific message. And I think wading into the Mueller investigation, calling it a witch hunt again, I think that puts him in some trouble and the comments he made about Michael Cohen and how tiny or large or small his legal representation is, that could be troubling. That's something that Mueller could use.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Michael, Michael Cohen has been involved with Mr. Trump for a very long period of time.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ten or 12 years, right.
COOPER: And, you know, he's facing obviously this enormous criminal investigation right now, Michael Cohen is. For the President to basically say Michael Cohen is more of a businessman than a lawyer, it undercuts what Michael Cohen's own lawyers and the President's own lawyers are arguing about attorney/client privilege between Michael Cohen, the President and documents that have taken from his office, home and hotel.
D'ANTONIO: Well, this might shock you, but I think the President is a bit of a narcissist. This relationship with Cohen goes in one direction. Whatever suits the President is what he's going to say. And Michael Cohen can say, well, he's my friend, I served him loyally all these years. I'll do anything to protect both the President and anyone in his family. And what the President does is betray him at every opportunity. So it's almost as if he's giving him an invitation to ultimately then turn the tables and do whatever he needs to do to save his own hide.
COOPER: I mean, also Bakari, just the idea that the President said he mostly does business, I don't know anything about his business. The idea that Mr. Trump would not know about Michael Cohen's businesses seems ludicrous, given his role in the Trump organization and their closeness over the years.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think one of the things we learned today is something that we already knew, reaffirmation. And so if you are the lawyer for Donald Trump, you saw this morning that your client is undisciplined, which you already knew, you also know that he cannot tell the truth, even with softball questions from friendly anchors.
And so, therefore, you know that he does not need to sit down with federal investigators. So I think that this was a good dry run for his lawyers to say, look, you misspoke too many times. And we'll call it misspeaking because I represent you. I will not call it a lie because you're paying my bills. But you have this allergy to the truth. And Donald Trump this morning, for example, the simple fact that he said that he actually stayed in Moscow.
We all understood from what Comey said, from what the contemporaneous memo said, from everything, that he never did. Donald Trump has an allergy to the truth. When you're under federal investigation, this is the Martha Stewart rule. I remind people all the time, Martha Stewart didn't go to jail for insider trading. Martha Stewart went to jail for 101 violations, which means she lied to federal investigators. Donald Trump is his own worst enemy and he is the worst client that any lawyer could possibly ever have.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Yes. I was going to just add to that, look, Donald Trump treats people around him like trash. And this is speaking to the Cohen part of this. And just like Michael was saying, it's really one way. He puts a premium on loyalty, but he doesn't know how to give loyalty back. And on this morning watching "Fox & Friends," he didn't come on as the President. He came on as like a segment producer and it looked like a hostage video.
[21:20:03] It was really scary and awful. And it just -- it kind of went back to the 2016 days where he would just come on and say craziness. And the only people who were excited about watching that had to be the prosecutors of the southern district of New York and Robert Mueller, because every time Donald Trump opens his mouth not only does he put his foot in it, but he makes their job so much easier. SELLERS: Can I tell a real quick?
SELLERS: Because this is going to sound weird, but one of the things that Donald Trump did extremely well, and I've spoken to anchors at CNN and producers at CNN, but in 2016 they were reaching out to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the only person who would call in --
COOPER: Oh, without a doubt.
SELLERS: It was Donald Trump.
COOPER: Not only call in, the only person who would sit down for interviews.
SELLERS: My only point is that like there's one thing to be under federal investigation and do this. There's another thing to be a candidate and another thing to be the President of the United States.
SELLERS: Right. And so for those people who are watching the Kamala Harrises, who are living in the bubble, you know, the Cory Bookers, who want to live in a bible, you know, all of these individuals who want to run for President of the United States.
COOPER: Jeb bush, Ted Cruz, I mean, all those people would not sit down.
SELLERS: You need to take this lesson from Donald Trump, that apparently today in today's America you have to be willing to open yourself up.
STEWART: I can say this with knowledge. During the primary, we were not allowed to call into Fox News. I begged and begged and begged.
SELLERS: You weren't the front-runner either.
STEWART: For a long time we were ahead of him. We certainly were. And I would beg to have Ted Cruz call into Fox News and they said no. Donald Trump would be able to do it. So he's always had the opportunity to do this.
COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, though, I mean this does -- I keep thinking about hearing Richard Nixon on those tapes, which is decades later. This is like a realtime President. It's just so rare, we all start to think this is normal, but it is so rare to hear a President yelling into a telephone.
EISEN: Anderson, it's a rule number one in the criminal defense playbook, when your client is under investigation, shut up. Do not talk about the investigation. That is the difference from the campaign to today. He has Robert Mueller has named him a subject in a criminal investigation. His lawyers' files have been seized in New York, they're being reviewed by a special master in the southern district of New York, and you hear it, he's not the relaxed, calm Donald Trump, funny, joking that he was in the campaign. He's nervous. And he has a tell when he lies. And I will say he lies. I think the statute 1001 was named after the number of lies that Donald Trump tells in an average day. He has a tell. He says the same thing over and over again.
I don't know -- listen to the clip that you played leading in. I don't know anything about the business. I don't know about the business. He's like a monomaniac repeating that mantra. I think that's a tell when he's not telling the truth. And they had to cut him off. His most favorable show, the anchors had to cut him off. It's like when I'm trying to get away from the crazy guy at the subway, say I have to go now. That's what they said to the President of the United States.
STEWART: I can't give you any money, I've got to go.
COOPER: We're going to continue the conversation. Next we'll also going to hear what the President had to say about whether he ever watches CNN. Spoiler alert, he says he doesn't, and spoiler alert, he says he does and round and round it went. What it means, if anything at all, next.
[21:26:42] COOPER: The President's phone call with his friends at "Fox & Friends" this morning was many things. You can choose your own adjectives. But it certainly was a study in contradictions. There were times when the President directly contradicted himself, including about whether or not he even watches this network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't watch them at all.
DOOCY: Well, that makes it easy.
TRUMP: I'll tell you what. I watched leaking, lying Comey last night and I did -- I did -- I hated to do it. I don't watch NBC anymore.
Liked I watched sleepy eyes Chuck Todd the other day saying why is the President giving up so much and North Korea's giving up nothing? This was at the beginning of "Meet the Press."
I've taken the position -- and I don't have to take this position, and maybe I'll change -- that I will not be involved with the Justice Department.
TRUMP: Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel.
I mean I assume to the point you made earlier, this conversation is what makes the President's supporters concerned about him speaking to Robert Mueller in any setting.
SELLERS: Not only that, but immediately following this interview this morning, the southern district of New York.
SELLERS: Actually filed documents showing that we need to expedite the perusal of the information taken from Michael Cohen's apartment, condo, hotel room, wherever he was, because of the simple fact that Donald Trump went on air and said that our relationship is tiny, it's small.
And so when you have someone who's a loose cannon, when you have a client who cannot simply shut up when you tell him to, he puts himself in bad situations. You know, I oftentimes get on air and talk about my colleagues putting themselves in pretzels defending Donald Trump, but it gets that much more difficult when your client, when the person that you're supposed to represent, is out just looking for charges.
COOPER: But I'm -- yes, I mean, I always try to look at this from another standpoint. And -- I mean, Scott, if you're a supporter of the President and you believe that this is a witch hunt, you believe, then maybe this phone call isn't that bad. I mean it shows he's got energy, he's certainly present.
JENNINGS: Yes. If you are a supporter of the President and you're watching this show and hear him call in and vigorously defend himself, you're pumping your fist at the TV and saying, finally, somebody is standing up to this avalanche of attacks on the President.
Now, whether that puts him in legal jeopardy, his supporters are not thinking through that necessarily. But they certainly want to see a vigorous defense of what they see is an extremely unfair avalanche of allegations.
Look, the legal process is going to play itself out. He may or may not be helping himself in that process. But I just don't think it's in Donald Trump's nature, nor is it in the nature of his supporters, to just sit back and take it. He didn't take it during the campaign.
One of the things about his campaign as we were discussing, he made himself available to do these calls and interviews, but it wasn't the normal canned sitting there, canned answers. This guy is spontaneous and he's authentic and he's all over the place and his supporters love it. That's what you got out of that phone call. So legal issues aside, I actually think these kind of interactions work for him.
COOPER: I mean, one of the things about interviewing him, you can pretty much ask him anything and he will respond to it. He may not answer the actual question, but I remember during the campaign I think somebody -- there was like -- didn't a gorilla get loose at a zoo and somebody asked him about it? And he -- oh, no, a gorilla shot and he was asked about it and he answered it. I mean it was the kind of thing that most candidates would be, why are you asking me this? I'm running for President, the most important office in the land.
[21:30:09] D'ANTONIO: Well, as we saw this morning, he didn't really need any questions. The hosts barely got a word in edgewise with the President because he was prepared to just disgorge all of this material on air.
And I'll say one thing that I think people may not be aware of. This is going to continue and it's going to get worse. The President has always defined himself by the crisis that he's in. And if he's not in a crisis that's acute enough to stimulate himself, he will go further and make an even bigger crisis. He now sees --
COOPER: Because he's comfortable in crisis?
D'ANTONIO: He loves it. And this is him against the world. The bigger the battle, the more important he is. He defines himself by the size of this battle.
COOPER: There's an old Dorothy Parker, "Those born to the storm find the calm very boring."
D'ANTONIO: He does find that boring.
STEWART: From his standpoint, this was his opportunity as you were talking with Scott, he's talking directly to his base. They listen to that 30 minutes of that interview, they're taking away from that, oh, god, the Mueller investigation, as we've always thought. It is a witch hunt. They're looking at, oh, gosh, Michael Cohen is in trouble and it's of his own doing. And they look at -- look, the President is on fire and he's doing great. He's energetic, he's exactly the person that we voted for and we elected.
The problem is, some of the things he said, as you say, contradicting himself and saying both sides of many of these topics and getting himself into legal jeopardy with regard to the Cohen investigation. And this is all the more reason why Rudy Giuliani needs to say this is why you don't need to be talking to Robert Mueller.
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, he's a reality TV President. He was a reality TV candidate and now he's a reality TV President. And that's what he thrives in. He thrives in chaos, he loves chaos. The problem is you can't run the country that way. You can't be President that way.
And so just to your point, Alice, it's Fox. We have to remember this is Fox News. This is his base. The people who are watching love Donald Trump. Fox News is Trump TV. So he knows exactly what he's talking to. He knows they're going to be cheering him on and that's what we saw this morning.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Coming up, the President has repeatedly said he only hires the best people. Today, another one of his people was brought down like controversy. We'll talk about that, next.
[21:36:03] COOPER: Dr. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn his name to be the head of the V.A. after allegations ranging from drinking on the job to being abusive to colleagues. During the President's call to "Fox & Friends" this morning, he stood by his man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He would've done a great job --
DOOCY: Did --
TRUMP: He's got a tremendous heart.
DOOCY: Any idea who you might --
TRUMP: You know, these are all false accusations that were made. These are false, and they're trying to destroy a man. By the way, I did say welcome to Washington. Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics.
TRUMP: But for Jon Tester to start bringing up stuff like "Candy Man" and the kind of things he was saying, and then say well, you know, these are just statements that are made.
TRUMP: There's no proof of this. And he has a perfect record. He's got this beautiful record unblemished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We should point out the doctor denies all the allegations against him. As you know, the President defaults to defending powerful men accused of bad things, whether that's himself or one of the people he hires, only the best people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to make America great again. We're going to use our best people.
I'm going to get the best people.
We're going to deliver. We're going to get the best people in the world.
We don't want people that are B level, C level, D level. We have toto get our absolute best.
We're going to use our smartest and our best. We're not using political hacks anymore. It's a sophisticated chess match, but I have the best people lined up. You need people that are truly, truly capable. We have to get the best people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. Joining the conversation is Philip Bump. I mean it was a very strong argument that he made during the campaign and seemed like the person who could deliver on it given his business background. As one learns more about Michael Cohen and some of the things he was involved with legally, maybe that's evidence that he didn't have a track record of hiring the best people.
How much of this is a management problem by the President of hiring, how much is some of the best people may not have been available because they were never Trumpers or said negative things about the candidate?
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think that's exactly right. I think that there is a split there. There's a large group of people who have been ruled persona non grata by the Trump administration because they spoke out on the campaign trail against Trump or backed one of his opponents.
And then of course, Donald Trump tends to sort of rush into picking people for this positions as well without going through the normal investigate process.
And I think it's important for people to remember that even had Jackson survived these allegations which were raised by Senator Tester from Montana, there still was the fact that he had never done anything remotely like managing something at the scale of Veterans Affairs.
COOPER: Right, 300,000 employees.
BUMP: Exactly. And so it's not clear that even had he had had unblemished record that Donald Trump presented that he would have gotten confirmation by the Senate simply because it is so far out of the scope of anything he'd done before.
COOPER: It is strange that many of these allegations go back to the Obama administration, and President Obama gave him glowing marks?
JENNINGS: This guy served 12 years, over 12 years, three Presidents. Most of it was in the Obama administration. And you're telling me that after this long career of service, most of it to Barack Obama, that you guys, Norm, were letting a drunken, pill pushing, lying quack of a doctor service the President of the United States? I don't buy it. Where were these allegations during the Obama administration?
Look, I'm not sitting here telling you Ronny Jackson was the best man for this job and he absolutely should have been vetted, but the character assassination that has gone on for this naval admiral, doctor who has served his country, is outrageous. Jon Tester goes on television and makes these allegations anonymous. The Reporter who broke the story Jonathan Swan of Axios did an interview today and said I won't print the allegations because I can't prove they're true and he said neither can Jon Tester. It is outrageous.
EISEN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Scott, we both know Admiral Jackson.
EISEN: And the -- he worked in both administrations. Trump never -- and you and I have had this conversation with Anderson. Trump never should have improvised. That's what's causing the chaos in this administration and the chaos for the country. He never should have improvised this nomination. You do a vet and you know this full well.
[21:40:08] JENNINGS: I just said that.
EISEN: Well, let me finish the other part of what I'm going to say. You do a vet to prevent these allegations from being aired for the first time in public so you can make an informed judgment. And it was not just Senator Tester. The chair, the Republican chair and the ranking both went to the White House and said, hey, some bad stuff is going to come out.
And let me tell you something, you're wasting your sympathy on Admiral Jackson. You know who I feel sorry for? I feel sorry for the millions of veterans who have had a head of the V.A. wiped out bought Trump ethical morass and swamp. For Shulkin How going out because of ethics issues and now these issues with Admiral Jackson, how about those veterans? Let's worry about their care.
JENNINGS: This V.A. was ruined in the Obama administration.
SELLERS: That's a crock.
JENNINGS: It was mired in scandal.
SELLERS: No, that's --
JEAN-PIERRE: I think we should stick to the topic.
SELLERS: First of all, I was pulling for Admiral Jackson. I am pulling for Admiral Jackson. I think that he deserved a chance because the reason being --
SELLERS: -- because our veterans deserve to have some stability at the top, right? And so I don't know if these allegations are true or not. I don't know if he was candy man or drinking on the job or any of those things. But what I was pulling for was someone who had some know-how to have stability at the top, right?
And so I was willing to give him a chance. And I think that most Democrats and Republicans alike were willing to give him a chance. The failure in this is not Barack Obama, as many Republicans like to pivot and say. The failure is not Jon Tester. The failure is that the President of the United States and his staff are lazy.
You vet this man before he gets to this point so we can flesh this out and have these discussions before the first time it's known in public. I truly wanted him to be nominated, get through committee and be able to serve. And the reason being is because our veterans deserve someone with some stability to lead this administration through nonpartisan times, and I was hoping that he served not just Donald Trump, but the next democratic President in 2020.
COOPER: I mean, Senator Tester did say that most of the people he was talking to were veterans themselves who had formerly worked with Dr. Jackson. And it is one thing to be head of the medical unit in the White House and another to be head of the V.A. I assume some of those people came forward because of that, but again we don't know because we don't know who they are.
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, Anderson, I have a great doctor. She's amazing, I love her. But I would never make her the head of my agency, right, or an agency. She's just not qualified. And I think that's the problem here. The allegations are awful. Putting the allegations aside for a second, he was just not qualified. The administration did not do the due process and they failed Jackson and the veterans.
COOPER: We've got to take a break. Thanks to everybody.
Up next, Bill Cosby is now convicted sex offender, his profane outburst at the prosecutor today, and reaction from one of his many accusers, plus our legal panel, ahead.
[21:47:17] COOPER: Bill Cosby, once known as America's Dad, is now a convicted felon. A Pennsylvania jury found the TV star committed guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The case centered on around the testimony of Andrea Constand who said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in 2004.
At least two of his accusers were seen crying outside the courtroom after the verdict was read this afternoon. One of them was Victoria Valentino who spoke to reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA VALENTINO, COSBY ACCUSER: I just want to thank D.A. Steele and his amazing team and all of the people who believed in us every step of the way. We are so grateful to all of you and thank you, thank you, thank you. We are vindicated, we are validated and we are now part of the tsunami of women's power and justice. We are not shutting up and we're not going away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Miss Valentino raised the prosecutor. Cosby yelled with him with profanity after the verdict when she suggested bail should be provoked of a concern Cosby could be a flight risk. The 80 year old stood and scream, "He doesn't have a private jet, you a- hole."
Cosby is under house arrest as he waits to be sentence. He could face 30 years in prison.
Joining me now, CNN Legal Analyst, Mark Geragos and Constitutional Law Professor Gloria Browne-Marshall.
Gloria, I'm wondering what you made of the verdict today?
GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, this issue of consent is a very important one and it is one that is part not just of rape itself but of assault. Is this woman capable of giving consent if she's been drugged? Is she capable of saying yes to sexual relations? Is that relationship consensual, and I think that's the core of the case, the core of the charges and the jury found, no, she did not give consent because she had been drugs and it was not consensual sex or consensual relations.
COOPER: Mark, were you surprised that Cosby was not remand into custody today that he was allowed to walk out of court?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. In state court when you get convicted of a serious felony, 999 times out of 1,000 the judge is going to remand you. So, yes, I was surprised. I think that gives him some glimmer of hope in terms of the sentencing.
But at the same time I don't think that this was unexpected. Usually the common wisdom is that on a second trial, the advantage is to the prosecution. And in this case, I think that they made a fatal mistake, the defense did, by not keeping Brian, who was the lawyer on the first trial. He knows that jurisdiction, he knows that jury pool, he knows that -- he practices there all the time --
[21:50:02] COOPER: And that makes a big difference?
GERAGOS: It makes a huge different, I think. It's one of the reasons I've always shied away from doing state court trials in any other jurisdiction with California. I mean, I'll go anywhere for federal court. But for state court, I really think that knowing where the bodies are buried so to speak really makes a huge difference in terms of your trial strategy and everything else.
You know, there's a huge deference between the first trial and the second trial in terms of having a number of witnesses this time doing what's called similar acts-style evidence. That's a very tough mountain to climb. And unfortunately for him he died on.
COOPER: Gloria, what kind of sentence do you expect Cosby might get? I mean, will his age of 80 factors into it?
BROWNE-MARSHALL: Well, I do believe his age is going to factor into it. But I also think with the #MeToo movement, with the fact that the prosecutor has all discretion in the world to ask for the maximum, you know and thinking that he's not going to get the maximum but it would be symbolic for him to do so. And, you know, I'm looking at about 10 years that I'm estimating.
COOPER: Gloria, the outburst by Cosby in court calling one of the prosecutors an a-hole, when the client might be flight risk, could that possibly influence his sentencing in any way?
BROWNE-MARSHALL: I mean, it sends a message to the judge that he's not going to showing contrition and that he's not going to accept the fact that he is guilty of these charges.
I think it also means that for the women -- and for other people it's sending a message. And the judge has the power to send a message to other people who have committed similar acts, to say, you know, we're going to use this case to tell you what's going to happen if you choose assault women.
COOPER: Mark, you talk a little bit about why a second trial often goes for the prosecution. Just -- can you just explain that? I mean, why would it be so different?
GERAGOS: Generally the prosecution has got -- the old joke is they've got an unlimited bank account and they usually exceed it. I mean, there's no real budget for the prosecution. They know where their mistakes are, they can spend god knows how much money.
And I know everybody thinks Bill Cosby is so wealthy. But you don't understand unless you go up regularly against prosecutors just the kind of stones that they can overturn and come up with. So they know what happened last time. They talked to the jurors. They interview people. They do mock juries and things of that nature and they know what they have to do this time around.
Plus, I think and I'm always loath to second guess lawyering but I was taken aback by the kind of tone deaf cross-examination that was done in this case, at least as it was reported. That's kind of an antiquated approach in these cases in this day and age. It's just not something that plays well with juries.
COOPER: Yes, Mark Geragos, Gloria Browne-Marshall always good to have you on. Thank you. This is obviously a spectacular downfall for the comedian TV icon who broke down racial barriers in Hollywood and inspired so many comedian and others over the years.
Joining me for more on that is Comedian W. Kamau Bell, host of "United Shades of America" here on CNN.
I'm wondering what you thought about the verdict today. I mean, obviously he is somebody -- I've heard you grow up admiring?
W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: Yes. I mean, he's one of the comedians that is influential on making me wanting to do comedy but that is separate from the acts he was doing behind closed doors that are horrifying. And so I certainly stand with the women, who are accusing him.
I think there was always more than enough evidence to sort of say that they were telling the truth. And so, you know, he's not somebody that I talk about easily when I talk about my comedy influences anymore because I think it disrespectful to those women.
COOPER: How much do you think the #MeToo movement did perhaps affect the outcome of this today?
BELL: I think things are moving very quickly now. So I do think that -- I remember when the Cosby things first came up, there was a lot of talk of like he didn't do it, these were more lying. This stuff started before the #MeToo movement as we know it currently, then the #MeToo movement happened, I feel like the dominos of all falling of that from the society is more sympathetic to these women now.
COOPER: I want to change topic because your show is premiering this Sunday.
COOPER: -- on Sunday on CNN obviously. The first episode you go to the U.S.-Mexico border?
BELL: Yes, we go to the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, Nogales near (ph) Mexico and talk to people on both sides of the border.
BELL: To find out what is like government and also to take sort of an informal poll of what people think about the idea of a wall, the Trump wall.
COOPER: When you do something like this, I mean do you have in your mind an idea of what you're going to find? Or do you -- I mean, I think it seems like so much of your comedy is -- I mean, is obviously very thoughtful but it's just in the moment. Things happen that you can never predict.
BELL: It's much better if I go down there with plan and abandon it immediately, these things happened.
COOPER: Right, with reporting?
BELL. Yes. I mean, you know, a lot of this is -- where I'm doing is, this is my version of being a reporter. I still -- my tax forms still say comedian but for me it's like the thing I get to be as a comedian is I get to let people know what I think. So I do go, this is what I think, this is what you think, this is what you think let's get up and mix it together.
[21:55:04] COOPER: I do think nothing you can imagine in advance is never as interesting as what you actually see when you're there? The things people say you can never predict?
BELL: It's true. I mean, when we were down there, we would just looking around for things to talk about and we ended up finding a woman who lived in the El Chapo tunnel house. Like, one of the famous house, and then El Chapo use to get across the border. And we were like whatever we were going to do today, we're going to talk to this lady.
BELL: So yes. So this best element of the show and the things that happens spontaneously.
COOPER: What other topic can you say what the other topics are? BELL: Yes. The second week we're doing an episode about the Sikh religion, which is in Yuba City, California, the highest percent of Sikhs in the country. We have an episode about the culture of South Carolina. We have one about living with physical disabilities. So we're really trying to push what we do into a new place.
COOPER: I can't wait to watch it next Sunday. Thanks so much.
BELL: Thank you. Thank you.
COOPER: Again, tune in for "United Shades of America" Sunday night, right after Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown right here.
You guys should do like a combo.
BELL: We did.
COOPER: Oh, you did?
BELL: Next season.
COOPER: All right. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. Thanks for watching "360." Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.