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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: Trump Legal Team Felt Blindsided By Giuliani; Comey Blasts Giuliani for Comparing NY FBI Agents to Nazi "Stormtroopers;" NY Times: Some Conservative Lawmakers Suspected of Sharing Secret Mueller Investigation Files with White House; CNN Discovers The Truth About Your Electric Car and Child Labor. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 3, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with what Giuliani said and what the rest of the White House and the President's legal team knew about it. CNN's Pamela Brown joins us with the latest.
So it's safe to say is the word blindsided a correct word to apply here for how the rest of the legal team is viewing this in the White House?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Blindsided surprised, caught flat footed. I mean that is how they felt, members of the President's legal team, not only White House officials, that's how they felt as they watched Rudy Giuliani make those comments on Fox News last night, Anderson. This is according to multiple sources, speaking to our team.
And really, you know, I think members of the legal team in talking to sources who are close to them, they were really taken aback, because they had no idea as they watched Giuliani, they feared that he was winging it, that he wasn't fully prepared when he appeared on Fox News.
And if he had devised a plan with the President, he had not consulted with other members of the legal team. And they believe that it only made matters worse for the President, because as you know, he veered off course from the President's previous comments involving the Stormy Daniels payment by Michael Cohen.
Now sources close the legal team said, it's as if the players are executing the plays on their own, referring to Trump and Giuliani. Another source I spoke with today, Anderson, called it a side show. And the concern here with the legal team is that, this could be the new normal as Rudy Giuliani continues to talk to the media and do these types of interviews.
COOPER: Has Giuliani said anything else since last night on that front?
BROWN: He has. He told CNN today that he had spoken with the President both before and after his appearance with Hannity. He said it was coordinated carefully. He said, you won't see daylight between me and the President. Pointing to Trump's tweets in support of what he had said. Giuliani as you know, Anderson, was brought on board to the legal team to publicize Trump's message that he had not been treated fairly, that Hillary Clinton had received better treatment from investigators. And that former FBI Director James Comey should not be believed.
He was also tasked with negotiating with the special council's Robert Mueller's team over a possible interview with the President. But Giuliani sort of up ended the strategy last night according to sources. His comments poured fuel on the Stormy Daniels case, which is a focus in the New York based investigation of Cohen, not a case Giuliani is a part of, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
COOPER: I want to bring in the panel, Shelby Holliday, Jeffrey Toobin, James Schultz, Van Jones, Maria Cardona, and Scott Jennings.
Jeff, just from a legal standpoint, you think the most significant thing that Giuliani said is about the importance of the timing of Michael Cohen making this deal. He said it this morning, I believe it was on Fox & Friends.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
COOPER: -- essentially saying that this did have a lot to do with the election which is something Michael Cohen and his supporters all along have said it had nothing to do with the election.
TOOBIN: Right. And if you paid money to help Donald Trump get elected President, or if you reimburse someone who paid money to get Donald Trump elected president, those are campaign expenditures, and there are requirements for how much you can spend if you're an outsider or if you're the candidate yourself, how and whether you report it. And if he did -- and if the President didn't report it and it was a campaign expenditure that's a violation of the law. Now, I don't know if it's criminal or civil. Most SEC laws are handled civilly. But, you know, it matter whether the President follows the law.
COOPER: Jim, do you see it the same way? That Giuliani was essentially saying this does have something to do with the election?
JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: No, I think what Giuliani was saying is that it had the impact that it may have had some impact on the election. I still believe that there's not an SEC violation here. And just because someone does something and it has an impact on the campaign if that's not a coordinated effort, that's not a campaign activity. So it's just not as easy as you say, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Nothing is easy about this whole situation. But is it a violation? Yes.
COOPER: But -- I mean, wouldn't this be a regardless a coordinated effort? I mean, there was coordination in getting the payments made, there was coordination of, you know, sending things to the Trump organization for Michael Cohen.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS & BUSINESS REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. Well, that's an important question, and one of the things that we didn't get from this 24 hour news cycle was, we still don't have clarity on what the President knew and when the President knew it, which is a very important piece of this puzzle.
My colleagues at the journal have reported that Michael Cohen missed two deadlines to pay Stormy Daniels because he couldn't get a hold of Trump in that home stretch of that campaign. So the fact that the payment was ultimately made raises questions of whether or not he got a hold of Trump, had permission, Trump was on it.
COOPER: And I think what the journal has also reported that Michael Cohen had complained that President Trump hadn't paid him back yet.
HOLLIDAY: Yes. That too and I believe that was after the election but regardless, you're still supposed to file a campaign finance disclosure if you make a donation to your own campaign after the election.
So today Sarah Huckabee Sanders was put in an odd spot because she was asked if President Trump basically filed a fraudulent filing, and she said, I don't know. She had no answer for it.
[21:05:00] COOPER: I mean, just -- you know, on the smell test, the idea that Michael Cohen has this portfolio of this kind of situation that he has free reign to deal with, and access to I guess in this case, he did have access to cash. But a retainer from the President, in order to just deal with the stuff, and he doesn't even have to tell his client what he's dealing with or if it's been resolved?
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: I mean, think of -- if that's true, think about how terrible it is. I am such a bad person that I just have a big bucket of cash and somebody to go hand it out to get me out of trouble. And that's -- I think that's normal.
Now, before -- I mean, it's probably illegal. But if it's not, it's still terrible. Also, I remember when Rudy Giuliani was a force to be reckoned with, I mean, this guy was bad. I mean, he was the prosecutor, he put the mob away. He took on, you know, New York turn it around. He's wandering all over the stage stepping on rakes and doesn't even know it. And so if this is the guy that's going to save Donald Trump, I think Donald Trump is in trouble.
COOPER: Scott, has he been doing harm for his client?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I am not a lawyer so I think we're going to have a lawyer's debate what the legal implications of this. So the PR strategy, I think is questionable. I'm not sure I would send him out there like this, particularly before the best lawyer actually starts working. And that's Emmet Flood. They've hired Emmet Flood this week, who is a real pro when it comes to investigations and dealing with the White House is under investigation. So my advice would be, let Emmet get to the office, and let him take over. And let him start to dictate the strategy. This is the guy that ought to be calling the shots. And, you know, some of this is not legal. Some of this is geared toward the future because whether the President ever gets indicted I think is actually really questionable. But if the Democrats take the House, he's probably going to face impeachment. So there's a public opinion component, and that's I think what they're trying to manage.
COOPER: Maria, as a Democrat I'm guessing your advice would be keep sending Rudy Giuliani out as often as possible?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's put on the news 24/7 because I agree with Van. He seems to bring back the stories when she was on the campaign trail, people started wondering whether he was OK, because he was so unhinged and because he was being so erratic and saying things that were so bizarre.
Last night was that Rudy Giuliani as opposed to the Rudy Giuliani who was the subject of the book, emperor in the city. And who really commanded a lot of respect. I think he has lost a lot of that. But to the point about whether he is going to follow legal strategy, he seems to be the Trump of the legal team which is very dangerous for the legal team. And so who knows how Emmet is going to handle this. And whether he is (inaudible) given what just happened in the last 24 hours.
But do I want to make a comment about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as somebody who has been a press secretary for three cabinet secretaries in the Clinton administration, I almost feel her pain. Even though she knew she was getting into when she took this job. But I will say that if I were her I would quit.
CARDONA: Because what Trump did last night. Let's put aside his disdain for the American people every time he lies to them, which is almost every single if not more. The disdain and the disrespect that he showed not just his legal team, but his communications' team, the person that goes out every day to represent him, to represent the American people and the government of the United States of the United States at that podium and then put her in a situation where she had to say, after she has already been seen as someone who lies to the press, now she's seen as someone who's completely out of the loop. Her credibility has been irrevocably ruined, I believe.
SCHULTZ: I think there needed to be from the beginning and outside legal spokesman to handle these issues. They shouldn't have been handled from the podium to begin with in the White House press room.
COOPER: I feel like early on they said, we're going to refer all legal stuff to this outside. And that's just never happened?
SCHULTZ: Yes, I think would have been a big help. And I think that's part of the strategy with Rudy Giuliani. I'm not sure it's happening as effectively as they wanted it to. CARDONA: All right.
SCHULTZ: But in part of that is getting Emmet Flood in there. I mean, he is a real lawyer with real credentials worked in the Bush administration, handles impeachment proceedings. He knows what he's doing. And he's going to be able to coordinate this effort in a systematic and methodical way to get it to a conclusion.
COOPER: I just want to point out that two months ago, I think it was March 10th, when Maggie Haberman reported that the President was talking to Emmet Flood about hiring him for the legal team. The President went after Maggie Haberman saying not only disparaging her in general, saying that this is absolutely fake news, this is not true, I'm satisfied with John Dowd and Jay Sekulow --
TOOBIN: And Ty Cobb.
COOPER: And Ty Cobb.
TOOBIN: Two of them are gone.
HOLLIDAY: That's definitely a problem for this White House. Because I think the more Trump says fake news, the more he says, there was no Stormy affair, the more he says, there was no collusion, and the more that you get -- the more that he's proven wrong, his words have caught up with him, a lot of legal experts say, there are parallels here to the Russian investigation.
COOPER: I want to play what he said on Hannity last night sort of a critical thing. This was on Hannity last night. And there was this morning that he talked to a timing of this. But let's watch from this event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:10:10] RUDY GIULIANI, LEGAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: So they funneled it through the law firm?
GIULIANI: They funneled it through the law firm, and the President repaid it.
HANNITY: Oh, I didn't know -- he did?
HANNITY: There's no campaign finance law?
HANNITY: So the President --
GIULIANI: Just like every -- Sean, Sean --
HANNITY: So this decision was made by --
GIULIANI: Everybody was nervous about this from the very beginning. I wasn't. I knew how much money Donald Trump put into that campaign, and I said, "$130,000? He could do a couple of checks for $130,000."
When I heard of Cohen's retainer for $130,000, he was doing no work for the President. I said, "Well, that's how he's repaying it, with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.
HANNITY: But you know the President didn't know about this?
GIULIANI: Ah, he didn't know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: Who are these people?
TOOBIN: I mean, he is saying, well, you see, he wasn't doing any work, but he's giving him $35,000 a month? I mean, what -- who does that? I mean, I'm not in private practice, but I know something about lawyers, that's not what people do?
COOPER: But isn't that a sly way of reimbursing somebody for a payoff without actually --
TOOBIN: Yes, if you're in the Mafia.
SCHULTZ: He was doing a lot more than just paying off folks as it relates t to these issues. He must have --
COOPER: The President said he only knew a tiny amount of legal work plan.
SCHULTZ: In addition to that. I wouldn't sing Sarah's demise all that soon. She had, you know, and I wouldn't. And the reason for that is, we don't know what the President knew, when the President knew it, as it related to the payments and when the payments were made. We don't know any of those facts.
COOPER: But Giuliani said he only knew about it 10 days ago.
COOPER: Which I mean --
CARDONA: We know he watches television -- COOPER: So you're telling me that when this whole story broke, when
Stormy Daniels did this interview within 60 minutes and the President watched it, that he never picked up the phone when this lawsuit was filed against him, that he never pick the phone to at least say, hey, what are we doing?
COOPER: He waited until 10 days ago? I mean, does that -- does anyone believe that?
SCHULTZ: We still haven't heard from the White House or the President on that yet and I think we to --
TOOBIN: Yes, we have. He lied. He said on Air Force One, I don't know anything about it. That's a lie.
CARDONA: The way that Rudy Giuliani just laid this out, looks to me as if they went back and said, OK, what story can we make up with the facts that are here, the facts that we're paying Cohen $35,000 a month for a retainer, he's not doing much, let's figure out -- what we can say to fit this square peg into this round hole.
TOOBIN: The key event I think was the search of Michael Cohen's office, because that was the signal that the FBI was going to find out how the money moved around. Because he undoubtedly has -- I don't know if it was electronic or checks, and so that's what prompted them to come up with this explanation of how the money changed hands.
COOPER: We're going to have more on that search after a quick break. Including what Rudy Giuliani said comparing federal agents too and there's gentle way to put this, nazi troops.
Later, Rudy Giuliani's new explanation of why James Comey was fired and the new White House line, namely, the president doesn't need one.
[21:17:20] COOPER: Other many things that Rudy Giuliani has said in the last 24 hours or so, something calls heart burns for his legal questions which we've been discussing. One item about this search is Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel room have raise eyebrows, search as we should mentioned with warrant which a judge signed of on, in which Cohen himself call, "professional, courteous and respectful. That is not how Mayor Giuliani described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: The only possible violation there would be, was it a campaign finance violation? Which usually results in a fine, by the way, not this big storm troopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean when did Republicans start to call American law enforcement storm troopers. I mean, had this been said by a Democrat in the Obama administration, understandably, people would have been offended.
JONES: This actually does point to a deeper set of problems, which is systematically you're having a huge section of the American people cleaved off and we don't talk about America's government any more, which we're all supposed to respect. We talk about the deep state. It's the same thing, it's a public servant's, civil servants, elected official, trying to make America work. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad, they're human, but the idea that you now have tens of millions of people who are buying into this rhetoric. This rhetoric did not raise eyebrows on the station it was aired on, because it's a constant refrain that America's government is now somehow the enemy of the American people. And that kind of treasonous language being normalized is as dangerous as anything we're seeing.
JENNINGS: I think there are handful people in the FBI who have done things that they shouldn't have done. McCabe, is probably example, one A, but it is not -- it is not -- Well, I mean Comey has had a rough ride the last couple weeks, in my opinion, in terms of his own image. And now he's handled numerous things. But to call all the agents storm troopers is out of bounds.
Republicans respect law enforcement, we respect local law enforcement state troopers, FBI, I mean, that's the party I've been a part of for a long time, and I don't like that kind of language, frankly, and I wish they wouldn't use it, I think it's perfectly appropriate to point out when FBI people or any other government people have done wrong thing, have done bad things, no one's above a criticism or the law, to hear that language, I don't -- it's not right.
JONES: Can I just say something now, I agree with you 100 percent, and yet when African-Americans raise the point about law enforcement, law enforcement family, so I think I'm not going to say this, you know, you got good ones and you got bad ones. If you say as an African-American I got a problem with how law enforcement is -- that you hate America, what's wrong with you, you got -- you know, Donald Trump will come after you with, you know, calling cop, you can't get a job right now. And yet the same people who will go after African- Americans, who are burying children, will then turn around and say FBI agents executing a lawful warrant are Nazis. That does not make a lot of sense to ordinary people.
[21:20:15] CARDONA: And in addition to that -- I'm glad you're saying, Scott, that you don't agree with that, where are the other Republicans? Where is the Republican leadership that is coming out to say that is not appropriate? Where is Mitch McConnell, where is Paul Ryan saying, this is dangerous to our democracy, because in order for this country to continue to be a successful American experiment, we need to have a democracy that works. We need to have law enforcement and Democratic institutions that people actually have faith in, and what the President of the United States is doing is trying to denigrate and peel off to your point, peel off faith in those institutions because he believes those institutions are going after him.
HOLLIDAY: I would add that what he said was just wrong. Michael Cohen himself said the raid was fine. Everyone was respectful.
HOLLIDAY: Then I also thought this actually shows how Rudy Giuliani's role is more on the PR side as we have talked about, rather than the legal side. He said last night, same thing about Paul Manafort. They broke down his doors. He said, they went in to Paul Manafort's place like I used to deal with the Mafia, I don't know if he's been reading court filings of his client's own case, but Paul Manafort's raid was not a predawn no knock warrant. The special council has made that very clear in the last few weeks.
So it seems like he's not even familiar with his own clients case, and he also made this statement that the President can't be subpoenaed because the President can't be distracted.
COOPER: I mean, do you think Rudy Giuliani actually --
HOLLIDAY: I thought that was a very interesting political argument.
COOPER: -- believes this or is just, you know, he's being paid to --
COOPER: -- to gin things up?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I think he believes every word. I think Giuliani has -- I mean, did you --
COOPER: He used to be the law and order guy?
TOOBIN: He used to be the law and order guy, he used to be a moderate Republican. I mean, he's changed completely. I mean, you know, he -- when he was mayor of New York City -- I mean, this is a divers diverse, pretty liberal city. And he won two terms, it was two or three? I mean, this two terms, I think. He lost his first race and then won two terms. He's a very successful mayor, but ever since 9/11, he's turned into a super authoritarian. I mean his speeches during the campaign, he was incredibly irresponsible talking about Hillary Clinton, and this is who he is.
COOPER: Even for an authoritarian, I mean odd that he's calling the arms of the state, the storm troopers.
TOOBIN: It's part of our tribal politics now, it that, you know, if you're Republican now and respectfully, there is a package of views that includes disrespect for the FBI, or at least the part of the FBI that's investigating Donald Trump.
SCHULTZ: No, that's not true. I don't think what Scott said is absolutely right. There are bad apples in law enforcement at all levels of law enforcement.
TOOBIN: And --
SCHULTZ: And in this case, there's no way you should be characterizing FBI agents that go in there and do a job every day like that.
TOOBIN: And how many elected Republicans?
SCHULTZ: You have two Republicans sitting on this panel.
TOOBIN: No, no elected Republicans who have to run, denounce Giuliani for calling the FBI storm troopers?
TOOBIN: How many?
SCHULTZ: Zero. None today, right.
COOPER: Let's take a break. Coming up, our some lawmakers trying to gain intelligence about the special counsel investigation so they can share with the White House, there's a new report about that. I'll speak with the intelligence committee member Jim Himes, a Democrat, next.
[21:26:30] COOPER: As we've been reporting the President has been complaining on Twitter about a rig e rigged legal system in his own justice department supposedly not wanting to turnover documents to Congress related to the special counsel investigation.
A new reporting the New York Times suggests that Conservative House Republicans may have an ulterior motive for getting the documents, namely so they can hand them over to the White House.
Joining me now is Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the intelligence committee, Democrats.
So Congressman I'm just going to quote this reporting from the Times that their sources say Rosenstein and top FBI officials have come to suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence about that investigation so it could be shared with the White House. That's a pretty exclusive charge, do you believe it?
JIM HIMES (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, it sort of depends on what we're talking about, Anderson. You know, there is no doubt that a number of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been devoting themselves to the defense of the President. We've seen that, you know, in any number of instances. And of course, you know, they've been making what I would characterize as inappropriate asks of the Justice Department to which for better or for worse, the Justice Department has said yes. They demanded and I had an opportunity to review what is known as an E.C., which was how the original investigation was established and they demanded to see the FISA, the full FISA applications for the wiretaps that of course became so controversial.
Ordinarily the Department of Justice would say, no, we're not going to show that to you. It's part of an ongoing investigation. But, you know, and I can't get inside the deputy attorney general's head, but in this case, the deputy attorney general said fine, come take a look, I'm not sure that's a good precedent for the Justice Department, but that's what happened.
So look, these guys have gotten access to a remarkable amount of information about an ongoing investigation, and they're asking for more and more and more and more so they can do what they've been doing for a year now, which is trying to cast dispersion on this investigation.
COOPER: But you don't know of any specific incidence of them sharing it with the White House?
HIMES: Well, remember -- so the quick answer to your question is no. But remember how this craziness all started over a year ago, when Devin Nunes announced that he had evidence and he was going to brief the President on the evidence that the President had been wiretapped by Barack Obama. You remember that over a year ago. And it turned out that he got that information from the White House. So again, this is sort of reminiscent of how this whole thing got kicked off.
COOPER: The President yesterday tweeted, saying, a rigged system, they don't want to turn over documents to Congress, what are they afraid of, why so much redacting. Why so much equal justice, at some point, I will have no choice but to use the power of granting presidency and get involved. I'm wondering what kind of a warning do you think that is because Rosenstein is obviously under increasing pressure to hand over documents to allies of the President?
HIMES: Well, it's not just to Rosenstein, right? It's to your rank and file member of the Department of Justice, and to the FBI, who looked like the rest of us are conscious of their careers, and are conscious of the fact that their bosses' boss has a sort of dark interest in the outcome of the work that they are doing. So the pressure being placed on the Department of Justice now is outrageous.
And look, I'm a member of Congress. I understand the importance of oversight. I understand the importance -- and let me hark back to something else, Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks and Cory Lewandowski coming before my committee to tell their stories, which by the way they are fuse to do, with sort of ridiculous claims of executive privilege.
But remember we are talking about an ongoing investigation here, and they're demanding information about an ongoing investigation, harking back of course, Anderson, to you know, what many consider Jim Comey's mistake, that is disgusting prior to the election, the investigation of Hillary Clinton. [21:30:07] COOPER: You know, on the Stormy Daniels issue, all along, Michael Cohen and his supporters have said that there was nothing political about a payment to her. According to Rudy Giuliani's comments to Fox News, that may not be the case. I'm wondering, do you have any doubt that this was linked to the election, that -- because the nondisclosure agreement was signed 11 days before the election?
HIMES: Well, you know, I think it certainly looks that way, and I'm sort of very intrigued for two reasons about Rudy Giuliani. The first reason is, for a law and order Republican to be calling the FBI storm troopers, to be joining this effort to throw mud on this storied institution that we really need confidence in, really breaks my heart.
But look, here's I think what Rudy Giuliani was doing, if a third party did something and spent money to assist the Trump campaign, and that wasn't reported, that would be a crime. If the candidate himself -- if I for example were -- you know, I can make -- I'm the only person who can make unlimited contributions to my own campaign. If the candidate himself is doing it, it's a slightly different legal situation, than if somebody who is subject to limits is doing it.
So I think this was a move -- I don't know how it's playing in the White House. But this was a move I think to reduce the legal jeopardy that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump are in.
COOPER: Yes. Congressman Himes, I appreciate your time.
Coming up, something the Congressman brought up, James Comey's firing, the giant wheel of changing explanations for why the President cut him loose, this one again, landed on another one from the White House, the newest explanation plus a look back at some of the other ones as well, next.
[21:35:06] COOPER: Today's White House briefing was another step in the ever changing ladder of explanations for why President fired James Comey. Basically, at this point is more often too because he could. Let's just take a quick look at some of the changing explanations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why did you fire Director Comey?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he wasn't doing a good job.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President over the last several months lost confidence in Director Comey.
TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. 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.
GIULIANI: He fired Comey because Comey would not among other things say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comey fired because he wouldn't tell others that the President was not a target of the Russia investigation.
SANDERS: Again -- once again, I am not going to comment on ongoing litigation. Certainly James Comey was fired for lying, leaking and politicize the FBI. There are a number of reasons that James Comey was fired. The President named several of them but the bottom line is, he doesn't have to justify his decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. Scott, you're saying that he doesn't have to justify?
JENNINGS: He does not. The best answer to this question has always been a three-word answer, because I can. It's been the law in this country since 1968 that the President can hire and fire the FBI director, just the way he can most other executive branch employees. But when you go and try to say, well, did it for this reason and that reason then you take away the best answer, which is because I can. And Sarah had it right, and I think that's where we need to stay.
TOOBIN: So you think he can fire him if someone gives him a suitcase full of cash to fire him. That would be OK?
JENNINGS: Of course not and it's a ridiculous assertion.
JENNINGS: But the President of the United States can fire the FBI director or any other executive branch employee. What my point is, when you try to start adding layers of reasoning behind it, you muddle the clear legal issue, which is the President has the authority to do this.
TOOBIN: No, you don't. No, you don't because the President is not allowed to act out of a corrupt motive, in firing someone who is investigating him. I mean, this is the key issue here, and that's why what Giuliani said yesterday was not an explanation, it was a confession. Because it was Giuliani saying, the reason he fired him is that he wouldn't exculpate the man who fired him.
JENNINGS: So you're saying that you believe that the 1968 law about hiring and firing the FBI director can be interrupted by certain issues? I mean, to me --
HOLLIDAY: Corruption? Yes.
JENNINGS: Do you know for a fact that there was corruption happening here?
TOOBIN: That's what this investigation is about?
JONES: You know, it's interesting, because I have done employment law. And bosses can fire people. Often -- and that employee, a boss can fire someone for any reason or no reason at all but not an illegal reason. So you can't fire someone just because they're a woman, you can't fire someone -- because there are limits even on that, literally, any boss can fire anybody for any reason. But not an illegal reason and I think that's what we're dealing with here is if you have a corrupt motive, if you're firing someone to conceal a crime that you can still get in trouble.
CARDONA: And Anderson, when you can do a retrospective, which is what you just did on all of the various reasons as to why this President and this administration have given in terms of why they fired Comey, there is clearly not an innocent reason why he did that. Because you wouldn't have to be making up different reasons as to why you did something if you did it on the up and up.
And so let's remember that the reason why he fired him and he went on NBC and said, I fired him because of the Russia investigation. And that's what prompted the Mueller investigation.
COOPER: So I mean, I understand Scott's point, Jim. Why does the reasoning keep changing, though? I mean, if they've gone down the road and given reasons. Why do you think it keeps shifting?
SCHULTZ: It sounds like there's panoply of reasons why Comey is no longer the FBI director. And it sounds like --
COOPER: It seems that right now, it didn't sound the way at the beginning because in the beginning, it was just that he treated Hillary Clinton badly, and the next day was Russia. And then leaking is one that's come up of late?
SCHULTZ: OK. And all of those things are reasons to relieve the FBI director of his duties.
CARDONA: Because he's investigating you, is that a reason?
SCHULTZ: No. That's not it. And --
CARDONA: He said that was the reason.
SCHULTZ: No. He said I was going to fire him anyway. That's what he said. He didn't say that's the reason I fired him, I was going to fire him anyway. He was given a reason by Rod Rosenstein -- given a reason by Rod Rosenstein and acted on that reason. He could say I was going to fire him anyway, all he wants but he was given a reason, and it was justifiable.
CARDONA: That's what he said.
HOLLIDAY: One of the reasons that wasn't played on that particular clip but that's very interesting is the treatment of Hillary Clinton. And one of those things that President Trump's campaign continues to talk about his inner circle and even Giuliani brought it up last night is that Hillary Clinton's investigation ended before she was interviewed. [21:40:05] This is the same argument in the reverse that they're trying to make with the President now that he shouldn't be interviewed. That you should conclude an investigation before the President -- the person involved is interviewed. And so I don't know if that will come back to bite them politically, but legally it could.
SCHULTZ: Who's making the argument he shouldn't be interviewed?
JONES: All of them?
CARDONA: All of them.
HOLLIDAY: Last night, Rudy Giuliani she said, over and over the President has to focus on North Korea --
SCHULTZ: But he's also been talking about scope and talking timing and a number of different things as it relates to a negotiation.
JONES: Those things are fine but you may have missed it, he said something that I thought was quite remarkable. You raised it earlier. He said that the President can't be subpoenaed because it can't bed distraction.
JONES: Well, the three important never said that but I'll tell you what, you got a president of the United States that is distracted by everything. He is distracted by Fox News, his golfing.
JONES: That he's a least best President too try to put before the Supreme Court and say, this guy can't be distracted. He can't be not distracted.
SCHULTZ: There's an open question as to whether a grand jury subpoena can be served on the President. That's an open legal question. That is open legal question.
TOOBIN: I think it's pretty close to a closed issue. I think.
SCHULTZ: Not in the materials.
TOOBIN: In 1997, the Supreme Court said in the Paula Jones case, Bill Clinton made all these same arguments, I'm too busy, I have national security concerns, and the Supreme Court said, in a civil case, too bad, you have to give a deposition.
Now, the courts always say the grand jury investigations are more important than civil cases, so the idea that they would say oh, you don't have to submit to a grand jury subpoena seems extremely unlikely. COOPER: We have to take a break there, thanks, everybody. To be sure, join Van for the Van Jones Show, at a special day and time tomorrow night. Van explores all sides of the race in American from the political controversies to (INAUDIBLE) problems plus he'll talk the actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross, that's tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.
Up next from 360, a story we really want you to see, a child slapped on camera as officials attempt to hide child workers from CNN cameras. We'll tell you where this happened and how it's connected to some batteries for electric vehicles and the car you maybe driving, when we continue.
[21:46:26] COOPER: Tonight a CNN investigation has uncovered a dirty secret. At the heart of the electric vehicles that many people like to drive, which you likely don't realize is that children are working where cobalt is mind in many place and is then later used as a key component for the vehicles' batteries. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the main exporter of cobalt globally and most is mine industrially but over a quarter of the mineral is mined artisanally by hand.
CNN Nima Elbagir, Dominique van Heerden and Alex Platt traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to the epicenter of modern day cobalt gold rust. What they found was disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christian and his friends are digging 20 meters down, taking turns at 24-hour shifts. There's no light and little oxygen, but what they bring up is precious.
This is the start of the supply chain leading all the way from this makeshift mine to your luxury battery powered car.
The sacks are full of cobalt ore, a crucial component in lithium ion batteries set to power the coming green energy revolution, but at what cost?
There is growing evidence that cobalt supply chain uses child labor.
Companies say they are working hard to verify the source of all their hand-mined artisanal cobalt but that it's a difficult task.
We're here to follow the supply chain and see if we can do it for them. We arrive at the Musonoi river mine where the cobalt ore is washed to grind it down. Although we've been given permission to film here, as soon as they see us, officials begin to scare the children away.
Not all of them though are fast enough. Some work on.
One young boy staggers under his load. His friend sees the camera and he drops his sack. They've clearly been warned.
A mining ministry official spots this boy carrying cobalt has been captured by our cameras. His response is brutal. Later we ask him why he struck the child. He refused to answer.
ELBAGIR (on camera): We've now witnessed for ourselves that children are working here, that they are involved with the production of cobalt and we've seen the products of that child labor loaded on to a variety of different vehicles. I'm going to jump into this car that's headed to one of the main public selling cobalt selling depots.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): I'm told we're going to Kaparta (ph) market. This is where the cobalt is bought by brokers. It's where it first enters the supply chain.
The car company Tesla for one says its cobalt sources are audited and issued with certificates of origin. They wouldn't say from where or how but there is no sign of certification here.
We watched the brokers set the price and none of them ask where the cobalt is from or how it was mined. A Tesla mining output tripled last year and the fear is even more children are being pressed into labor. Why? Because cobalt is skyrocketing in price, supplying your green electric car comes at a cost.
We have permission to film here but local mining officials once more try to stop us. Our producer captures the scene on a hidden camera.
[21:50:06] The government says it's working to combat child labor but the same mining ministry officials tasked with enforcing an ethical supply chain have been the ones attempting to block our investigation.
A police officer arrived and we're told we need to leave for our own safety. We do -- but not before we spot a red truck loaded up and leaving the very same market. It matches the distinctive red of the truck used by one of the main international cobalt supply firms, China's Congo Dongfang Mining, CDM. We decide to follow it.
ELBAGIR (on camera): We can't afford to lose him because where he delivers that cobalt load that is the link between the children that you saw down there on the river front and the global markets.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): As the truck pulls into its final destination guards rush out to block our cameras. We later received a warning phone call. This facility is under the protection of the presidential guard. We're told to stay away.
What's going on? That appeared to be a CDM truck but this isn't a CDM facility. Tax records show it was declared non-operational three years ago. Rising smoke and export records show cobalt is still produced here.
CDM's parent company Huayou tells CNN they did have a relationship with the facility which ended only last year. They're disturbed enough to launch an investigation into our findings although they state, other companies also use red trucks. CNN visited three sites to show how widespread the use of child labor is. At this mine, in spite of our permission, we eventually had to resort to filming undercover to capture the children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (foreign language): How old is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine years old.
ELBAGIR: We couldn't prove where exactly the dirty cobalt enters the international supply chain but we witnessed that it does.
Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler among others say they have a zero tolerance policy for the use of child labor but they acknowledge they are unable to fully map their supply chain due to its complex nature. Car makers simply cannot promise consumers their products are 100 percent child-labor free.
This is the artisanal mining cooperative called Kasulo. It's run by the main international supplier CDM. Rows and rows of red trucks like the one we followed await pickup here. Access and entry are controlled to block the presence of children and certificates of origin CDM say are dispensed in controlled circumstances.
This is what the big brand names who source their cobalt from Congo believe govern their supply. But this is the exception, not the norm. The cobalt from Kasulo accounts for less than a quarter of the country's artisanal cobalt exports.
Here, the ministry of mining has to countersign the certificate of origin to be considered valid. So the very same entity whose officials CNN found complicit in hiding the presence of child labor at the artisanal mines we visited is responsible for certifying the cobalt here is child-labor free.
After 10 days in Congo, our contact advised us to leave for our own safety. But from what we've witnessed it's clear, no manufacturer can fully assure you that your electric car is truly ethical. And as demand for essential cobalt soars, it's children like this little boy who are paying the real price.
COOPER: So Nima the local governor you spoke to warn you to expect to see kids at work. What did you say after you told them what you were able to film?
ELBAGIR: Well, he told us that we should expect that local people would be upset by what they saw as foreign interference, at what they saw as a foreign attempt to bring down the government of Joseph Kabila, the President.
He also said that they knew they had a problem that they were working on the problem, but we had to take into account the poverty levels. And that they had actually, in fact as far we saw had been more children, if you can believe that, working in the mines.
COOPER: So Tesla says that its cobalt sources are audited, issued with certificates of origin but would they say from where or how?
ELBAGIR: This was the really disappointing one given that when you go out and buy a Tesla, this is very much a kind of a value-laden purchase, right? You're buying a Tesla because you believe it reflects your values. To then have this back and forth with them and only going through actually some of their financial filings, their SEC filings did we find that they themselves had legally and publicly acknowledged that they couldn't trace their supply chain and that, in fact, while they were telling us that they believe they could and that they could categorically tell consumers that their product doesn't contain the product of child labor, that they were separately telling the federal government something else.
[21:55:30] It's a tough one, because, of course, it's very difficult to go through a supply chain. But as you saw in the piece, we tried it, we failed and we don't have the resources of a Tesla or a Microsoft or a Renault or a BMW.
COOPER: Yes. It's a fascinating story. Nima Elbagir, thanks so much.
ELBAGIR: Thank you.
COOPER: There's one more development to share with you tonight. After Nima's report aired on CNN international, Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz announced a new effort. It's now pledging to investigate its cobalt supply chain all the way to the mines to ensure the child labor is not being used to power its electric vehicles. Daimler says it will work with 100 suppliers worldwide and will be on- site audit. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon CNN Tonight starts now. See you tomorrow.