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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House: President Trump May Revoke Security Clearances of Six Former Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officials; Federal Prosecutors Have 12 Cohen Audio Recordings; Paul Manafort Trial Delayed Until July 31; Pres. Trump Threatens Iran On Twitter In All Caps; Woman Tells Her Story About Losing Nine Relatives In Duck Boat Accident; Rep. Devin Nunes Refused to Answer CNN's Question about Recently Released FISA Documents. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired July 23, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:04] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
It's been seven days since President Trump and Vladimir Putin sat down together behind closed doors of the summit in Helsinki. Seven days and the White House still will not give a detailed account of what went on between them, what was said, what was decided.
And now, the president seems to be eagerly trying to do his best to change the subject, tweeting dire threats in all caps at Iran, trying to gas light the public yet again about the FBI surveillance warrants that four Republican nominated judges approved targeting Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, suspected of being a Russian agent. The president also launched a new attack on a newspaper he hates.
None of these, though, are new tricks of Mr. Trump's trade. But today, there was a new attempt at diversion and a new novel way of attacking his highly credentialed critics, all former officials in law enforcement, national security, or the intelligence community. Now he wants to punish them for speaking out by stripping them of their security clearances.
It began with Republican Senator Rand Paul lobbying the president to do it of John Brennan, who has become a vocal critic of the president. So, Rand Paul may have started the idea, but by the time today's White House press briefing was over, the list also included former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former CIA National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden.
Comey and McCabe no longer have clearances, but that small, important detail didn't stop the White House from attacking them.
In any case, here is what the White House said about it at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you're the person that holds the nation's deepest, most sacred secrets at your hands, and you go out and you make false accusations against the president of the United States, he thinks that is a -- something to be very concerned with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, for an administration that makes false and misleading statements about people all the time, and for a president who has been documented as uttering falsehoods at the rate of several per day, that's a little rich by itself. But, wait. She went on. There is more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The president is exploring these mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So politicizing and monetizing their public service and security clearances. Pot, meet kettle. Though it's hard to point to a specific instance in which the president has openly traded on specific intelligence that only he is privy too, he certainly has at almost every juncture possible sought to politicize the business of negligence gathering or co-opt it.
Here is his first big appearance as president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military, and probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. But I would guarantee a big portion, because we're all on the same wavelength, folks. We're all on the same wavelength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the stars on the wall you see behind him are each member of the CIA killed in service to country. Or maybe it's just a campaign backdrop. You can decide for yourselves.
That may seem normal now, but at the time, it shocked a lot of people. I mean, until then, the president had never treated career intelligence officers who are trained to stay away from partisan politics as either partisan or political. But this president has shown again and again that he does see members of the intelligence community this way, that he does consider them political operators and rivals.
By our latest count, the president has spoken in political and non- flattering terms about intelligence or members of the intelligence community at least 262 times on Twitter since launching his presidential run. And we found those only after looking for a couple of hours this afternoon.
But, again, politicizing intelligence, that's one thing. It's bad, except that it's -- when it's members of his campaign and later his administration, then it seems for the president it's OK.
For instance, here is former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn on the campaign trail. And no, no, no, nothing political here at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUDIENCE (chanting): Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY DIRECTOR: Lock her up. That's right. Yes, that's right. Lock her up!
I'm going to tell you, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Unbelievable. No doubt when he said that, some people took his words more seriously, because after all, as a former intelligence official, he must know things that they don't. No problem trading on that politically, nor apparently does the president have a problem with using the likes of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for all kinds of shenanigans to try to manipulate the Russian investigation. We'll have more on Nunes shortly as yet another claim of his collides with the facts.
[20:05:02] But right now, CNN National Security Analyst James Clapper, and given the partisan attacks on him, I just want to take a moment and walk you through his ample nonpartisan resume. He served as director of national intelligence during the Obama administration, before that, as director of Defense Intelligence Agency under first President Bush and Bill Clinton. General Clapper joined the Air Force in 1963, served two tours of combat during the Vietnam War, and was the recipient of an Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service and three Distinguished Service Medals for National Intelligence.
More recently, General Clapper is the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from the Life of Intelligence." He joins us now by phone.
So, Director Clapper, you actually learned about this I understand in real-time while you were watching the White House briefing today about them trying to take away a security clearance from you. I'm wondering what went through your mind when you heard that? And now that you've had some time to digest that, where are you at with all this?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (via telephone): Well, yes, that's how I learned about it, just like everybody else. I had no prior official notification that my clearance was under consideration for revocation. So, it was quite amazing. I didn't know what the make of it at first and was a bit speechless, to tell you the truth.
I think after having reflected on it, to me, I think this is a real abuse of the clearance system, just to use it to attack political opponents or people that have been critical of the president, and, you know, is that now going to become a criterion for obtaining a clearance anywhere in the government is a pledge of fealty or loyalty to President Trump? And, of course, it has all kinds of First Amendment implications which are deeply disturbing.
COOPER: That's the kind of concern a ripple effect something like this might actually have. That's the message it sends, that if you speak out against the president, you can have your security clearance removed, if you toe the line, if you're Devin Nunes hustling the White House in the middle of the night, then you're OK.
CLAPPER: Well, or what else might the president decide we're not entitled to. Retired pay? Medical benefits? Where does this stop, just as a way of, again, retaliating against political opponents?
And, you know, I won't go into all the ironies here, Anderson. I think you covered that pretty well in your opening.
COOPER: CNN is reporting that the president is actually pleased with how all of this is playing out. And it's a new way for him to make the deep state argument which the president believes fires up his base. It probably he thinks distracts from the deafening silence on what actually happened in that closed door meeting with Vladimir Putin seven days ago, which we still don't know about.
The irony of all of this is that the White House is accusing you of politicizing intelligence when, in fact, I mean, as we talked about, this president seems to have no problem politicizing it when it's to his ends.
CLAPPER: Well, exactly. And that's one of the many implications here that as you alluded, all kinds of ironies here. I mean, this is a classic do as I say, not as I do.
COOPER: You know, last week, after many contortions, the president finally said that Russia did meddle in the 2016 election, but then, you know, first, initially when he read the statement, he ad-libbed and it could have been other people. There were a lot of people out there. Then he did basically come out and say it.
Fast forward to yesterday. He tweeted that Russian interference, quote, is all a big hoax, which then Sarah Sanders tried to clean up today say saying, well, he is only referring to the claims of collusion. Do you buy that? I mean, he said this time and time and time again.
CLAPPER: Well, I think probably a lot of people are getting -- I am, certainly, getting a bad case of whiplash on trying to figure out the statements, the backpedalling, and then the corrections. It's very, very confusing. And the issue I guess is when it comes down to it, the president cannot accept the fact that there was Russian -- there was meddling by the Russians and that causes questions to be raised about the legitimacy of his election.
And when we first briefed him about our findings about Russian meddling in early January of 2017, that was kind of his reaction, and he hasn't changed since. So, he really has a schizophrenic reaction here. I think the other problem is, conflating the Russian meddling with collusion. And they really are two separate things.
CLAPPER: The Russian meddling is a profound threat to this country. And it is really disturbing when the commander-in-chief won't consistently recognize it.
COOPER: Yes, the idea that the White House, how much cleanup have they had to do in the last seven days, when only -- if only we knew what he had actually talked about one-on-one with Vladimir Putin, who knows how much of that would have to be cleared up or cleaned up by the White House. But we can't. There is no cleaning up because nobody knows what was talked about.
Director Clapper, thank you as always. I appreciate talking to you.
Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger joins us now, along with national security analyst Steve Hall and legal analyst Carrie Cordero.
I mean, Gloria, it -- is this a well planned out and thought out idea? I mean, obviously, two of the people at the White House said they were looking to revoke his security clearance from don't even currently have a security clearance, McCabe and Comey. But does this seem thought out to you?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. What does seem thought out lately --
COOPER: Yes, that's true.
BORGER: -- these days?
No, not at all. I mean, it seems to me that the president had a meeting with Senator Rand Paul earlier today, who suggested that, you know, he didn't like what Brennan had been saying about the president and that he ought to have his security clearance revoked.
And so, they had a conversation, and then after that, at some point, I guess the president decided that would be a really good idea and decided to add other people to a so-called public enemies list. At least Nixon's was private. This is out there, of his critics, and added this.
And then Sarah Sanders gets a question. She is completely prepared for it, by the way, with a list of people, and I think this is something the president just decided he wanted to do to stick it to them, to tell you the truth.
COOPER: Steve, the president can technically do this, I assume. But from a strategic standpoint, do you think it's a smart idea? I mean, how do you think merely putting this on the table will be received in the intelligence community?
STEVE HALL, RETIRED CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Well, Anderson, it's -- the morale in the intelligence community right now is -- there's got to be some difficult times going on because, of course, this president has been very consistent with attacking the intelligence community. I was reminded by your lead-in piece there about the president standing in front of the wall of stars at CIA headquarters. And I remember thinking how inappropriate it was that he basically made another campaign speech there.
That said, CIA and all the other intelligence community members, there is a cross section of society. He's got supporters on both sides.
But let me just say, I've met and served under all of these men that the president is now essentially disparaging, at least on the CIA side. And, you know, the integrity and the professionalism and the patriotism there is just unquestioned. We're not a political group of people. We don't -- it's just not the way it works.
I've served on a lot of developing countries, and this is the way it works there. You get a new president, you get a new prime minister, they look at the guys that they don't like politically anymore, and they pull their clearances or they pull their salaries or throw them into jail. So, this is -- this is very in my view something that's very common in developing countries, but unfortunately, the United States ought not to be doing these types of things.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Carrie, I mean, the administration is thinking of doing this because these people have politicized intelligence, which is almost laughable if it wasn't so kind of just serious and sad, I guess.
To Steve's point, this is the kind of stuff you think about happening, I don't know, under Mugabe in Zimbabwe or some part of the world where democracy is not as prized as, you know -- and dissent isn't allow and transparency isn't as prized as it is supposedly here.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, that's right, Anderson. And so, I think it's worth us taking a minute to pause on why it is that these intelligence community leaders have been speaking out, because that's really what this is. The president has identified individuals, most of those on the list who have been in some way critical of him, and the reason I think that former senior intelligence community professionals, particularly those as Steven says are not normally individuals who would speak out publicly or who would engage publicly.
The reason they've done it, which is the same way I feel as a former national security lawyer in government is because we have spent years or decades of our lives working on matters involving foreign adversaries, repressive regimes, the Taliban, terrorist organizations, Russia, North Korea, all these other countries that don't have the rights that we have and the press freedoms and are not transparent and lie to their citizens.
And so I think that that really has been a motivation for these former intelligence community leaders who normally would not be engaging publicly, I don't think, in the way that we are seeing them.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Steve, it's really important point that Carrie just made that, you know, yes, it is not normal for former heads of the CIA and other agencies in parts of the intelligence community to be forward like this.
[20:15:05] But I don't think it says anything about them or their patriotism. In fact, I think it says a lot about their genuine concern that they have. I don't think any of them like being front and center and speaking out like this.
HALL: Anderson, I can tell you for me, it's -- and certainly, I'm not former director of the CIA, but I can tell you for me, it was -- it was a hard thing to be able to have to learn to sit down in front of a television camera or speak to journalists because your entire career you're told, look, you're the silent warriors. You're on the dark side. You are not going to talk about any of your activities.
So, it is not at all a natural or easy thing to do, and you get a lot of criticism for it as well. It would be really easy for a guy like Jim Clapper, who I hold in the highest regard to basically say look, I'm going to have a nice quiet retirement after, what it is, like 60 years of service? I mean, the guy's been around forever, being a patriot.
Maybe write a book. A lot of people write a book to include past presidents, to include the current president, and just sort of relax and take it easy in retirement as opposed to opening himself up to this type of criticism and denigration. And instead he said, no, it's important that I speak out about this because I understand it, and other people who are not -- who are lay people need to understand it too.
That's certainly the way I feel about it. And I think it's the way these guys feel about it too. That's an excellent point that Carrie made. It's remarkable that all these folks are standing up, senior intelligence leaders and speaking out like this.
COOPER: Gloria, how much of this -- you know, the White House putting this out front and center is to take attention away from the stories they think are damaging them, certainly from the week they've had of -- you know, the president's saying things and them having to correct it and the whole thing with Helsinki?
BORGER: I'm sure part of it is. Look, the president is a master at changing the subject, you know, with a tweet. He did that this morning, you know, with Iran, for example. We were talking about going to war with Iran this morning. Now we're on to -- on to this.
I think for the president, this fits into his deep state narrative, that the deep state has been against him from day one, and the deep state not only being the Obama administration, but people who served before Obama, and these are people who had been outspoken against him because he takes everything personally, because they believe he is not taking the Russian spying seriously enough, and so, I think this fits into his general sort of I didn't like the Justice Department either. Now, it may be better because my people are there. I didn't like the intelligence community. Maybe now it's better because my people are there.
So, this is -- you know, this is part of his whole thing of saying it was them against us. And, of course, intelligence should never be that way.
BORGER: Intelligence operatives are not partisan.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, Steve Hall, Carrie Cordero, thank you very much.
BORGER: Coming up next, attorney Michael Avenatti and the additional tapes that he says Michael Cohen made of the president and what happened when he and Cohen met at dinner recently. Could they actually work together? I'll talk to him than.
Later, my interview with Tia Coleman, the incredible story of that sinking duck boat in Missouri. Tia lost her husband, her three children, five other families in the blink of an eye in those waves. Her strength and her faith is extraordinary, so is the outpouring of support she's been getting. You'll hear from her ahead on 360.
[20:21:56] COOPER: The federal prosecutors are saying the FBI seized a dozen audio recordings made by President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Now, a source says this includes a recording between Mr. Trump and Cohen discussing a payment made to Karen McDougal, a former "Playboy" model who said she had a month's long affair with Trump before he became president. Now, the president of course denies the affair.
A key figure in all this, of course, is attorney Michael Avenatti who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels, who also said she had an affair with Donald Trump, which he also denies. Michael Avenatti joins me now.
So, Michael, only one of these 12 tapes include a conversation between President Trump and Michael Cohen that we know about. You said yesterday that you know there are more tapes of President Trump that Michael Cohen recorded, that there are in fact multiple tapes of the president.
Are you absolutely 100 percent sure on that? How do you know that?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know which 12 tapes have now been turned over. I believe that there are recordings beyond 12, Anderson, and I know for a fact that there is more than one recording between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. As I sit here right now, I don't know which specific 12 we're talking about or the press is reporting on.
So, I can't comment as to whether within those 12, there is more than one with the president's voice on it.
COOPER: Do you know are there ones -- you said you know there are other ones with the president. It was reported there were ones of hang-ups or voicemail saying hey, call me back. Do you know that -- do you know for a fact there are actually conversation, other conversations that Michael Cohen recorded with the president?
AVENATTI: Yes, there is more than one recording of a conversation that Michael Cohen had with the president.
COOPER: And you can't say how you know that?
AVENATTI: I'm not willing, and I can't say how I know it, but it is a fact, just as I've said that there was more than one recording that was seized in connection with the raids or the execution of the search warrants, I should say.
COOPER: Do you believe there are recorded conversations between president and Michael Cohen discussing the payment made to your client Stormy Daniels? Because obviously the one statement we know about is related to Karen McDougal.
AVENATTI: That I do not know, but I do believe within the collection of recordings, and again, I don't know if it's within the 12 recordings, but I believe that there are recordings. I know there are recordings between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson relating to my client.
COOPER: MJ Lee of CNN has been reporting today that you ran into Michael Cohen at a restaurant and you pitched Cohen on working together against President Trump at that encounter. Is that in fact true?
AVENATTI: Well, part of it's true. I ran into Michael Cohen at a restaurant called Scalinatella in New York last Monday night. He and I had a very cordial, lengthy and frank discussion. We agreed to follow up with subsequent communications. I'm not going to get into the details of what we discussed, but the reporting suggesting that I pitched him on teaming up against Donald Trump is absolutely false. That's not what happened.
Subsequent to that communication, I've had multiple communications with Brent Blakely and Lanny Davis, both attorneys with Michael Cohen.
[20:25:08] At no point in time did anyone complain that my communication with Michael Cohen was improper or otherwise for the simple reason that it wasn't. It was not improper. In fact, it was a very cordial discussion and I thought it was very productive.
COOPER: Do you believe, though, that you could work with Michael Cohen? Because obviously in your representation for Stormy Daniels, you know, you've been very tough on Michael Cohen publicly. You've said that there has been an evolution of your position towards Cohen recently. Can you explain that?
AVENATTI: I don't know if we can work with Michael Cohen or not, Anderson. I guess that's the easiest way for me to say it. The only way that we're going to cooperate with Michael Cohen or have him cooperate with us is if he makes it clear that he is truly ready to do the right thing, that if he is truly ready to release the documents, release the recordings, come clean with the American people and talk what he knows about the president, what he knows about the cover-up, what he knows about the payment to my client and otherwise.
If he is not ready to do that or is unwilling to do it, we're going to continue to do what we're doing. We're going to keep him as a defendant in the cases, and we're going get to the bottom of this.
COOPER: Stormy Daniels has made an allegation that somebody threatened her years ago. She believes it was somebody from the Trump team, though there is no direct evidence at this point of who that person was or frankly no direct evidence that that occurred other than Stormy Daniels saying that it occurred.
If you were to work with Michael Cohen and there was some there there, I assume that would be something if he had any knowledge of that, that would be something you would insist he come forward about.
AVENATTI: A hundred percent. That would be a precondition to us doing anything relating to cooperating with Michael Cohen or having him cooperate with us. We would need to know exactly what happened relating to that incident in Vegas, which my client has been very clear about, unequivocal that it happened. I believe her 100 percent.
That's one example, Anderson, of a number of examples that we would need to get to the bottom of.
Another would be the payment of the $130,000, how that money flowed? Was there an agreement for reimbursement? Did he discuss with Donald Trump the campaign finance violation potential?
There is a long list of answers that we would need to get before we agreed to do anything with Michael Cohen.
COOPER: Michael Avenatti, appreciate it. Thank you.
AVENATTI: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: There has been a short delay announced in the upcoming trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chief. The judge in the case says the new date is July 31st. The trial had been scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
In addition, the judge has granted immunity to five witnesses the prosecution has called.
Evan Perez joins me now with details.
Evan, you spent the day in the courtroom. Why has the trial been delayed?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's because the prosecution only turned over about 120,000 pages of documents in the past month to the Manafort defense team. And so, the judge said that they could use an extra week in order to prepare for trial. Anderson, there is a lot of documents that had to do with laptops and phones and iPads that belong to Rick Gates, who is Paul Manafort's business partner who has now pleaded guilty in this case.
COOPER: And what about the five witnesses who have been given immunity?
PEREZ: So this is a case that focuses on bank and tax fraud charges. And so, these people worked for the bank and for this -- the bookkeeping firm that was handling Paul Manafort's business for many years. And so they're being provided limited immunity so that they can come in and testify against Paul Manafort, and also, so they don't have to plead the Fifth Amendment to protect their own legal rights, and so they can't be charged for anything they say related to this case, Anderson.
COOPER: And I understand the judge talked about jury selection today.
PEREZ: That's right. The judge made clear that he is going to steer clear of any issues related to Russian collusion, any issues related to president Trump, and he specifically said that he will not be asking the jurors who they voted for in the 2016 election.
COOPER: Interesting. Evan, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, there's an etiquette to Twitter. When you type something in all capital letters, it means you're really, really mad. Just ahead, a look at President Trump's all caps tweet on Iran, and if in fact he really, really is angry. Details ahead.
[20:32:58] COOPER: Just as he returned to the White House from a weekend at his New Jersey golf resort, President Trump unleashed an all caps tweet against Iran. To Iran, President Rouhani, the President wrote, never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout the history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious.
The President apparently was responding to earlier remarks by the Iranian president in which he said any war with Iran would be, "the mother of all wars". But also as soon as he sent out that tweet, it was pointed out that there's one world leader who is never in the line of the President's Twitter fire that of course would be Vladimir Putin, the same Putin who leads the country that American intelligence officials have in recent days ahead remains determine to attacked the coming U.S. midterm elections. There is that and the reality that one week on we still don't know the details of what happened in that two hour plus Helsinki meeting between the two men.
Today the press briefing, CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins kept pressing.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Has the President briefed his national security adviser, his secretary of state, the director of national intelligence and the defense secretary on what exactly was said between him and President Putin?
SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President has met and spoken with all of those individuals since his meeting with President Putin.
COLLINS (on-camera): But when he briefs them, is he relying solely on his own memory to tell them what happened during that two-hour meeting?
SANDERS: The President has met and consulted with all of his national security team, and we feel very confident in the process.
COLLINS (on-camera): As far as he remembered what happened --
SANDERS: Kaitlan, I'm not going to go on the specific details on how the President interacts every single time with his national security team.
COLLINS (on-camera): But this is a sit-down with the Russian President.
SANDERS: It's actually not a rarity. It's a normal practice for two world leaders to be able to have a conversation with one another.
COOPER: Actually, it is kind of a rarity to have a two hour plus meeting with Vladimir Putin without other people being in the room.
Joining me to help to deconstruct, CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot. It was interesting Max just to hear Sarah Sanders repeated answer or I should say response, because it wasn't really an answer, the question it was response. She said that the President has met with his national -- individuals of his national security team. She did not say that he had briefed any of them on what was discussed with Vladimir Putin.
[20:35:07] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's exactly right, Anderson. And I commend you for keeping your attention on this story because what you're seeing today at the White House is basically operation distraction. They're trying to take our attention away from Russia to talk about security clearances for former officials, to talk about Iran. The last thing they want to talk about is Russia, because it's so embarrassing this servile submissive performance by Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin. And we still don't know exactly what they discuss behind close doors.
In fact will probably, the U.S. government will probably never know, at least from our side because it's doubtful that Trump even remembers everything that was -- that occurred or that he would give a full and accurate readout to his own officials. In fact, probably the best way for the U.S. government to find out what happened is to intercept communications among Russian officials talking about this meeting.
COOPER: Well, I mean there would actually be a danger if the President went on the record publicly saying what was discussed and then it turned out that isn't what was discussed or it's opposite or different than what was actually discussed and it turned out the Russians have a recording, say, of actually what was discussed.
BOOT: Absolutely. I mean, you worry about the President being compromised by Russia, something that Jim Clapper and John Brennan and other intelligence official's suspect actually happened. Well, the reality is that if it's happened in the past, it's probably getting worse, and meetings like this contribute to giving Vladimir Putin the upper hand because undoubtedly he has a transcript of what transpired behind closed doors, and the U.S. government does not.
So, just as you said, Putin has the option of strategically leaking excerpts from these meetings that contradict whatever Donald Trump says. So this is why normally presidents don't put themselves in this position. They have a note taker in there a third party in the room to attest to what happened. And Trump did which itself is highly suspicious because it suggests he does not trust is own aides to sit in on his communications with Vladimir Putin.
COOPER: Right, I mean, it's so interesting, you know, what you suggest, this idea that, you know, he is tweeting suddenly tough talk, trying to be a tough guy, vis-a-vis Iran in a tweet, or, you know, talking about taking away the security clearances of former intelligence officials and national security officials and FBI officials, even though there is two FBI officials already had their -- lost their national security clearance when they left the security clearance.
BOOT: He is going to grant them a security clearance just so he can take it away again.
COOPER: But I mean, the idea that -- I mean it is a classic move by President Trump to try to distract. And we've seen this time and time again. When things aren't going well, you lob a Molotov cocktail in one corner of the room and everyone runs over there and looks at it and ignores all the stuff that's been going on that hasn't reflected well on the administration.
BOOT: Yes and sadly it works. Because, you know, we in the media, we need fresh news to chew over. And when the President says something, by definition, that is inherently newsworthy. I mean when he makes war-like threats against Iran, you have to report that.
BOOT: But at the same time you're also inadvertently furthering his agenda because that's what he wants to talk about now.
COOPER: You also look what happened last year with North Korea going to fire and fury to a summit with Kim Jong-un to, you know, that there is no more security threat from North Korea. So now things, you know, the timetable now just seems to be kind of moving, and there is no rush on denuclearization. I mean, could the President's rhetoric toward Iran be an attempt to have some sort of unlikely Kim-like summit with Rouhani, or do you think that's too much three dimensional chess and this is hey, look at the new shiny object over here?
BOOT: No, I think thing is that element of Trump trying to repeat what he sees as a North Korea triumph. Now, why he sees North Korea as a triumph, I have no idea because it's obvious the North Koreans did not make any real concession. All of the concessions were on the U.S. side. So all of us blaster and tough talk about rocket man and fire and fury, it didn't actually work.
But Trump seems to live in this alternative reality where he scored a massive triumph in Singapore and wants to repeat it elsewhere. But that's why it's actually hard to take his rhetoric against Iran seriously, and why I think there, you know, his bellicose talk is losing its effectiveness, because, you know, in the last year and a half, we have seen that he is not actually launching wars, that he does not actually follow up on his war-like threats which is probably just as well, but it also means that the Iranians don't necessarily fear that he is actually going to attack them.
BOOT: Because I think they would anticipate that, you know, based on the past, that within a year, if events hold true to form, Trump will be praising Rouhani as, you know, wonderful, smart, witty, great personality, loves his country. So, you know, he -- you know, Trump is kind of the President who keeps crying wolf.
COOPER: Right, yes. As a powerful leader perhaps. Max Boot, thanks very much.
Just ahead, plenty more to come tonight, including something we've literally never seen before. For the for the first time the public is getting to see some of the inner workings of the secret federal court the FISA court, that decides who the government may conduct electronic surveillance on. Now, as you know, the House Intelligence Committee chairman has been taking issue with some of its warrants.
Now for the first time we have documents, court documents. And you might be surprised to learn what they safe. That's coming up next.
[20:40:04] Also tonight, only she and her nephew survived the disaster that took nine family members. It's just unthinkable losing nine of your family members. Tia Coleman talks to me tonight about what she is going through and the faith that sustains her.
[20:43:14] COOPER: For a guy who claims to have had almost nothing to do with Russia when it comes to either Russia or the Trump campaign, Carter Page has certainly played at least one major role. He's been in many ways the first so-called victim in President Trump's demonology of the Russia probe. Now, in the President's view, the surveillance warrants targeting him, Carter Page, were kind of original sin, obtained said the President others under false pretenses which tainted everything else. Now that was a view trumpeted by Congressman Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and it's an easy case to make when hard facts are in short supply. He made it loudly in Fox News in partisan committee reports and public statements, echoed by the President and members of the GO. Not here, though. He won't come on the program, even though we invite him on a regular basis including tonight.
Over the weekend though we got some hard facts, the 412 pages supporting documents for warrants against Carter Page, and keeping them honest, they're not kind to Congressman Devin Nunes's claims. As to his claim that the FBI was biased in seeking to monitor Page, the documents give a very good reason.
According to the filing, the FBI had evidence showing page was quote, the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government, and four Republican appointed judges agreed. Republican-appointed judges. The documents also undermine Nunes' claims that the Steele dossier was why the government sought the warrants and the political motivations behind the dossier were concealed from the court. They show the court was informed. In short, even these highly redacted documents and they are highly redacted have enough in them to discredit much of the case that Nunes has been making. The question is what does the chairman actually have to say about it?
Since he won't join us tonight we asked CNN's Manu Raju to go to him.
So you talk to the Congressman tonight or at least you tried to. What did he say or not say?
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he didn't want to engage, Anderson. And this has really been a pattern for Devin Nunes ever since he temporarily stepped aside from running the Russia investigation last year facing a swarm of controversy.
[20:45:05] And reporters have a lot of questions for him, given the fact that his actions are highly consequential. They get the President riled up. It's an apparent effort to undermine the Russia investigation, undermine the Mueller investigation. But today when I tried to ask him specifically, do you still stand by all of the contents of your memo, and despite what was seen an underlying facts of this Carter Page FISA application, instead he attacked CNN.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA: Do you really think I'm going to talk to the leading Democratic Party propaganda?
COOPER: That was it? That's all he got?
RAJU: That's pretty much it. I mean -- and then afterwards I tried to ask him specifically, Anderson, whether or not he actually read that surveillance warrant application there. COOPER: Right. There's a lot of reports that he actually doesn't read a lot of the things, documents he has requested.
RAJU: That's right. And we reported that earlier this year too, despite his requests, he does not read those. He relies on Trey Gowdy, the Republican to read it instead. And he acknowledged not reading this same document earlier this year when he wrote his memo that was based on the underlying -- the application to surveil Carter Page. He would not answer that question today, Anderson, said that I was ignoring the criticism that he was trying to level against CNN and he walked out of the House floor, not wanting to engage any further.
COOPER: Do we know why he doesn't read and why he relies on Trey Gowdy to read?
RAJU: He's never quite answered that question either, Anderson. I've asked that directly to him. And again, instead of engaging, he just attacks --
RAJU: And relies on Gowdy instead to do that work.
COOPER: Well -- yes. Well, fascinating, Manu. I appreciate the attempt. Thank you very much.
I want to check with --
RAJU: Thanks Anderson.
COOPER: -- Chris Cuomo to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris, you read right?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: When I can. If the words aren't too big, and if they are I call you. That's how it basically works.
COOPER: You rely on Blitzer.
CUOMO: Hopefully, we have gone through this stuff, Anderson. So we're going to test what the materials that came out about the FISA application show and don't show. We're also going to get very deep into what's happening with Iran right now in the United States. We have a theory that there is a play being made by the President that isn't being seen by most to this point. And another black man has been shot dead in Florida, this time over a parking space. The law there has been changed recently to make it even easier to kill without consequence. We're taking this on with Mr. Zimmermann's defense counsel, Mark O'Mara, and we're going get to the bottom of where that law is headed. That's what we've got.
COOPER: All right, Chris, that's in about 12 minutes from now. Thanks very much.
Coming up, when the duck boat capsized during a storm in Missouri, you saw the video and it was just a horrific tragedy for the loved ones of the 17 people that didn't make it out alive. But for one woman, the loss is simply unimaginable. Nine members of her family didn't survive. Only she and her nephew survived. Her name is Tia Coleman. She's incredibly brave, I spoke with her tonight. That's next.
TIA COLEMAN, DUCK BOAT SURVIVOR: I was so disoriented, and I couldn't see anything. So I just started pushing with my hands, trying to find a way out. And I felt somebody push my leg. And I couldn't find any of my family.
[20:51:29] COOPER: So the coast guard race, the duck boat the campsized in a storm last week, to the surface of Table Rock Lake in Missouri, 17 people as you know died in the storm. The scope of the tragedy is affecting so many lives, and one person's life in a way that's really almost impossible to even comprehend. Tia Coleman is her name. Ten of her family members were on that boat taking a tour of the lake during a family vacation. Only she and her nephew made it out alive. Her husband, her three children and five other members of her family all drowned.
I spoke with Tia Coleman earlier tonight on Full Circle, our new nightly show on Facebook.
COOPER: I heard you say that, you know, your house was always full of kisses, was always full of the patter of little feet.
COLEMAN: Yes. I have a very close knit family on both sides. My in- laws and my direct family. And we always celebrated birthdays together, Christmas. I'm celebrating -- almost every holiday. And they really love to be around their family, so there was always happiness in my home, and it was something that was key to me when starting a family. I wanted to be able to have in-laws where we got along, where we all -- where it wasn't, you know, any separation. They were still my family. I wouldn't say those are my in-laws. I'd say this is my family. And I felt like I was just truly blessed to have that, to have, you know, two families. Some people don't have one, and I had two families.
COOPER: Can -- if it's not too hard, and if you don't want to, I certainly understand. Can you just kind of walk us through what happened? I mean I know the boat started to take on water. I know that they had said that there was a storm coming. They had mentioned life jackets, but they didn't tell people to put life jackets on in advance. When the water started coming in the boat, what happened?
COLEMAN: When we first got out to the water, we were so excited because it was hot. It was really hot. And we -- they told us a storm was coming. They told us to make sure we get out to the water first. And it was fine at first, and then it started getting rocky and started -- you know, but it was -- water was splashing inside the boat. But as we had been told, the boat can take on up to 18-foot waves. It was 18 to 20 feet, I believe.
And so it wasn't really scary. We were also told that there are life jackets, and they're above you, but you don't need to know where they are because you won't need to use them. So we didn't. We were told to stay seated in our seats, and we -- from what I can see, the boat -- the people on the boat did what they were supposed to do.
COOPER: Do you remember getting tossed into the water?
COLEMAN: It was two to three of us to a seat part the instructions. So I was in the very front seat, and my oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum, was very excitable. So I wanted to make sure I could keep a hold of him, you know, if he saw anything or he got splashed with water. And my baby was asleep, and my husband was holding her. And then my middle son was right next to him.
[20:55:01] So as the first big wave came in, it looked like from what I could tell, it looked like the water just came into the boat, but then it washed out the back. But when the last big wave came in, I lost -- I lost hold of my baby, and I didn't know the boat had capsized. I thought it just went under. And I jumped up and immediately started floating, and I hit my head on -- I got pretty banged up. I was so disoriented, and I couldn't see anything, so I just started pushing with my hands, trying to find a way out. And I felt somebody push -- push my leg, and I couldn't find any of my family. And I swam, and I swam, and it seemed like the more I swam, the farther in the water I got.
And it was so cold. It was so cold. And I remember to praying and saying, Lord, let me get to my babies. Let me get to my babies. And I -- I couldn't get to them. And then I just let go. I said, if I can't get to them, just let me go. Just let me go. If I can't get to my family, let me go. And I let go, and then I felt myself floating. And I felt the water warm up. So I knew I was getting closer to the surface. And then when I came to, there were people that had -- they were throwing out life vests off of a big riverboat. We were next to a big riverboat. They were throwing off life vests and people started jumping in the water.
And I just remember them dragging me out because I was trying to just stay -- I was trying to stay afloat, but the water was so heavy, and it kept pushing me back down. So, and when they got me situated, I didn't see any of my people. Then my nephew came running out.
COOPER: I heard someone ask you when you were at the hospital if you -- if you're glad that you survived, and you said you weren't sure at that time. I know -- I know you have a strong faith. How are you holding on?
COLEMAN: Well, somebody told me that when they found my husband, he had all three of my babies. So the reason I couldn't find them is because he was protecting them. So I didn't know that at first because a lot of details were kept because they didn't have all the details in yet. That right there will keep me fighting for my family forever. The memory of all of my family, not just my children and my husband, but for my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my uncle, my nephew, my sister-in-law, and my surviving nephew. I'll always fight for them. To know that they -- he did exactly what he always told me when we first met. I will always take care of you and our children. I'm sorry, Anderson.
COOPER: No, nothing to be sorry about. I wish I could -- I wish I could just hug you right now. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I know there's people all around the world who are thinking about you and praying for you and praying for your nephew.
COOPER: And I hope that gives you some strength in the difficult days and weeks and months ahead.
COLEMAN: Yes, it definitely does, and it has.
COOPER: Tia Coleman, thank you for talking to us. And, again, my thoughts and my prayers are with you and your nephew and all those who survived. Thank you so much.
COLEMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: I can't imagine how strong she is, Tia Coleman. You can donate at gofundme.com/branson-duck-boat-survivor. Again we put it there on the screen. There's dashes between branson-duck-boat- survivor. Again, I spoke with her for our interactive daily newscast on Facebook. You can watch the full interview "Full Circle" weeknights at 6:25 p.m. every night. Go to facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle.