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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Kirsten Powers: "It's Past Time for A 1980s Reckoning"; Pres. Trump: "It's a Very Scary Time for Young Men in America"; NY Times: Trump Used "Dubious Tax Schemes", "Outright Fraud" in 1990s. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired October 2, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight with the president of the United States telling every women and young girl in America after multiple women came forward with sexual assault claims against a powerful man that it's a very scary time in this country, a scary time, he says, for men. Speaking today about his choice for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, the president made clear again who he thinks the real victim is, not the women who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her, not the women who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her, not any woman. The real victim, it would seem to the president, is the man, and by extension, all men.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say that it's a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of. This is a very, very -- this is a very difficult time.
What's happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. It really does. You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody could accuse you of something. It doesn't necessarily have to be a woman, as everybody says. But somebody could accuse you of something, and you're automatically guilty.
But in this realm, you are truly guilty until proven innocent. That's one of the very, very bad things that's taking place right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Look, we know where the president stands on this. He often sides with the accused man, not the women who come forward to tell their stories of abuse -- Roy Moore, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and of course himself.
Now, you might argue that the president is just making a measured argument for due process, an argument against a rush to judgment for anyone accused, and that's certainly a fair argument to make, an important one.
But remember, this is the same person who bought full-page ads calling for the death penalty for five juveniles accused of attacking and raping a jogger in Central Park. They were exonerated years later after spending time in prison, most of their lives in prison. Someone else confessed. Mr. Trump still hasn't apologized for that or frankly, admitted he was wrong.
When it's him or his political allies being accused, the president's playbook is to deny and then deny, and then deny. But even knowing that, what the president is saying, it's pretty remarkable. According to the president, men, particularly young men, are actually the real victims, with fall accusations made by women lurking in every dark ally and around every corner.
Now, keeping them honest, the facts say otherwise. According to a research review by the National Sexual Violence Research Center, false allegations of sexual assaults are somewhere between 2 and 10 percent. Yes, they happen, but they're not the norm. Not to mention sexual assault is widely underreported, out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 310 are reported to the police, according to the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN.
One thing the discussion around Christine Blasey Ford's testimony has accomplished, is that it shined a painful light on why so many women often keep quiet about an assault or a harassment. One of them, CNN's Kirsten Powers told her stories today, and joins us in a moment. RAINN reports that one out of every six women is the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. The president says it's a scary time for men because of the threat of something that hardly ever happens.
So, let's just think about that for a moment. What does that say to women and girls who are threatened by something that actually does happen? Frequently.
Now, if you're wondering where the president got such a notion about young men facing the danger of false allegations by vengeful women, maybe it's from his favorite TV station. Since Brett Kavanaugh's testimony over on Fox News, Tucker Carlson has been warning of the left's war on old white men. Tolerant left goes to war with old white men. Left broadens its attack on white men.
Or maybe the president got the idea from his son, who maybe also got it from Fox News or vice versa, in kind of a feedback loop. It's by definition, difficult to tell, the starts and ends of things.
But listen to what Donny Jr. said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I got boys and I got girls. And when I see what's going on right now, it's scary for all things. I mean, I wouldn't want --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you scared most for, your sons or daughters?
TRUMP: Right now, I'd say my sons. And the other thing, for the people who are real victims of these things, when it is so obviously political in cases like this, it really diminishes the real claims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He's less concerned about the safety of his daughters than he is of his sons, that's certainly his prerogative as a parent, it's his opinion. But it doesn't align with the facts. Again, the data is one out of six women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. The minuscule chance of being falsely accused in comparison, really nothing to be scared of.
Joining me now is CNN political analyst and "USA Today" columnist, Kirsten Powers. Her column today is titled, "I was sexually assaulted and thought it was my fault. It's past time for a 1980s reckoning."
Kirsten, I mean, this piece you wrote is incredibly moving and I hope everyone out there reads it. This happened to you when you were 15 years old and you say the memory of it came flooding back last week as you listened to Professor Ford's testimony against Judge Kavanaugh.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Yes. Yes, I mean, I'm kind of actually ashamed to admit that what happened was -- I was talking to my fiancee about the allegations when the allegations first broke. And my initial reaction was, well, sounds like drunk teenage boy behavior, and before I had any details. And my fiancee was kind of taken aback, and he said, no, actually, that's not right.
And I said, well -- and then I told the story of what happened to me. And as I was telling the story, I realize that I had internalized this idea, that this is what drunk boys do. And so, therefore, you know, I had internalized the idea that because I had gotten drunk, I kind of deserved what happened to me and it was somehow my fault.
So, it was something I had never spoken about to anybody before and something that my friends don't remember at the time, because I didn't tell them. I don't remember where the house was. I don't remember whose house it was. It just -- you know, as I listened to the accusations against Dr. Ford, I just kept thinking, but this is exactly how it was for me and I know that this happened to me.
And so, that doesn't mean what she's saying is definitely true. I just think that people need to stop saying, well, if you didn't tell people at the time or you didn't report it or you can't remember the specifics of where you were, that you're lying.
COOPER: I want to read part of what you wrote. You said, I can hear the doubters, why now? Why didn't you tell anyone? Why didn't you report him? Liar.
I mean, it's like you said, you actually thought that it was your fault.
POWERS: Yes. Well, and also, the other thing -- and the other reason I wrote the piece was, I went to school in the 1980s, early -- you know, I graduated in 1986. So, it's around the same time period that we're talking about with Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. And what happened to me, which was basically, I passed out and
somebody molested me, wasn't really considered sexual assault at the time. I don't think that I would have ever given it that phrase. I know -- I wrote in the column, the same person forced one of my best friends to perform oral sex on him and again, we didn't call it sexual assault.
Sexual assault was something strangers did to you. It involved violence. You would be beat up and, you know, and bloody. It wasn't something that happened with a popular boy at school, frankly.
COOPER: You also write that you believe in redemption, but that you wouldn't want your attacker to be awarded with a Supreme Court job. You say that's the wrong message to send to teen boys and girls.
POWERS: Yes. I think this is one place where I may part ways with some people, who says, well, if a boy does this in high school, then that's who he's going to be for the rest of his life and it tells you something about his character. I actually don't believe that. I don't believe that teenagers should be tried as adults. And I think that people can change and can be redeemed. There's no question about that.
So, you know, but I think that the issues that you have to look at is, should this person be on the Supreme Court? Again, I'm not saying the that Judge Kavanaugh is definitely guilty. I'm saying, if we knew that he was, you cannot have a person on the Supreme Court, no matter how sorry he was, because, it sends a message to current teenagers that you can attack a girl, a teenage girl, and because you're young and if you go on and you're a good guy, we're not going to hold you accountable. And that's just a message we can't be sending.
COOPER: In light of everything that you went through, I'm wondering, when you hear the president say that it's a, quote, scary time for young men in America, what goes through your mind?
POWERS: It's just maddening. It's so disconnected from reality. It's disconnected listening to Tucker say those things. It's just not -- the epidemic -- there is no epidemic of white men being under attack by women. There's an epidemic of women being under attack by men, physically under attack.
And so, rather than, you know, complaining because someone might be held accountable for something that they did, you know, they're making up this story about how there's all of these false accusations when, as you pointed out, those are exceedingly rare, precisely because of what I'm talking about.
COOPER: Kirsten, if you would, just stay with us. I want to bring in former Senator Rick Santorum, also CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
You actually had some choice words for Donald Trump Jr. I think he had some choice words back for you, not the classiest response from him. What do you think of what the president said about the danger for young men? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's appalling. And
all you need to know -- look at is how are white men doing in America? As far as I can tell, they're doing fine. You know, approximately 490 of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 are men, 44 of the 45 presidents we've had are men. More than 100 of the 115 Supreme Court justices have been white men.
You know, white men do fine in the United States. And they are not sexually assaulted in anywhere near the numbers that women are sexually assaulted. And to create a narrative where white men are this embattled minority, when they are a privileged majority is just grotesque.
COOPER: Senator Santorum, are white men a privileged majority?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Look, I think Donald Trump overstated the case. But I think he does reflect that there is concern among some people that, you know, that their sons or brothers, you know, may be accused of something.
[20:10:06] And I actually see it as a very good, teachable moment. I certainly have used it for my boys. And said, you know, look, obviously, this is behavior we told you not to do, but, you know, there could be a situation where you even just put yourself in a position where you might be accused of something like this, and that's not -- you know, you don't want to do that. You want to be much more cautious.
So I don't see that as a scary moment whatsoever, I see that as an instructive moment for parents and loved ones to be able to impress upon their young men that you have a role to play, that to be -- and behave yourself sexually and not put yourself in a position where you might be accused falsely.
COOPER: The president seemed to be implying that it's a more dangerous time for young men. Donald Trump Jr. certainly said that he's more concerned about his sons. Just given the statistics, Senator, do you think that's at all accurate, or understandable?
SANTORUM: As I said before, I think he's certainly overstating the case. I mean, am I more concerned of my daughters being sexually assaulted than my sons being falsely accused of sexual assault? Of course I'm more concerned about my daughter being sexually assaulted, because that is more the norm.
It doesn't say that we should also be concerned about your sons or men putting themselves in a position where they may be accused. And again, to me, this is an opportunity for us to sort of look at sexual mores.
And here's the good news. I saw a survey recently that gen Z, which were high school students right now, are less sexually active than any generation in like three generations. So, there may be a message getting across there that this is not the way to conduct yourself, particularly when you're young.
TOOBIN: Rick is saying --
POWERS: Can I just say something, please? I wasn't sexually active when what happened to me what happened to me. And nor was my girlfriend, did she want to be sexually active when she was forced to perform oral sex on somebody. I mean, I was 15 years old. I think I had maybe kissed somebody once, you know what I mean?
I was not -- so the idea that you're putting yourself in a position where things are going to happen, I mean, these are people who are preying on women. But the other thing I wanted to say is that this idea that somehow there was an accusation against Kavanaugh and that he's now been tried and, you know, sent away, isn't accurate. That's not what's happened.
What's happened is people have taken this seriously, they've asked for an investigation. They've wanted a real investigation. They've wanted certain people who may have seen this happen, under oath, answering questions. That's a far cry from I think the way it's being described, as if it's just like, you're guilty, out, get out of here! That's not what's happened.
SANTORUM: Well, it's not what's happened, but it's certainly what the Democrats -- they've all called for him to pull back his nomination. I mean, in fact, the media has been out there campaigning, oh, you should believe her and you should get out. So, it hasn't happened, but it hasn't happened because Republicans have said no, not because Democrats have said no.
TOOBIN: But, Rick, what you just said that this is a teachable moment. And I certainly don't quarrel with that and your position on this seems quite reasonable.
It's completely different from the president of the United States. I mean, the president of the United States is taking the side of men, period, just like he takes the side of white people, period. I mean, this is, you know, a politics of cultural, you know, resentment and anger. I mean, you need only look at how he talks about, you know, the NFL football players. It's very -- it's all part of the same set of attitudes as what he talks about the victims of sexual harassment.
And to say that this is a teachable moment is fine, but it is not what's going on here. What's going on here is the president is engaging in bigotry and earlier racism. And that's what we should all talk about.
SANTORUM: Yes, I would say that you're taking his comments out of text of other things he's said in the past about Dr. Ford and others, that he's listen to testimony -- looking for the FBI. He is concerned about sexual assault.
But he's bringing up a different point. He's not bringing -- he's bringing up not an isolation. He's bringing it up in the context of other things he's said.
I agree with you that he has overstated the case. And I don't think it's a, quote, scary moment, but I don't think it's something that I can tell you, because I've talked to lots of folks, lots of moms and dads who see this as a concern for their sons. And our concerns about false accusations, again, I think it's not as serious a concern as they should be concerned about their daughters, but it's not nothing.
COOPER: But, Senator, is he the one to make that argument the given that he made false accusations against the Central Park Five, who were juveniles, you know, who spent their lives in prison and then was critical when they were, you know, reimbursed and, you know, were -- got compensation from New York City after finally being exonerated? Is he really the one to -- it doesn't seem like he's been concerned about false accusations in the past against, certainly in this case, people of color.
SANTORUM: Well, he's the president of the United States and he's commenting on a current situation.
[20:15:00] I'm fairly confident he was not thinking about that when he made those statements. And he's certainly open to criticism for that. But I don't think just because someone did something wrong in the past doesn't mean that he can't comment.
COOPER: Right, but he's never admitted he was wrong or apologized.
SANTORUM: Well, that doesn't surprise me.
COOPER: Yes, Senator Santorum, thank you for being with us. Jeff Toobin, as well.
Kirsten Powers, again, I urge everyone to read Kirsten's piece. It's extraordinarily powerful and brave.
Remember the president's claim that he started off with his father giving him, quote, a small loan of $1 million. Well, a bombshell investigation in "The New York Times" found that is far from the truth. That he actually received more than $400 million from his father's real estate empire using tax schemes, including, according to "The Times", instances of outright fraud that's $400 million in today's dollars' worth. Details next on that.
And later, new reporting that the president himself and his son, Eric, were directly involved trying to stop porn star Stormy Daniels from talking about her alleged fair with Mr. Trump. We're keeping them honest next, plus her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, joins me, coming up.
[20:20:06] COOPER: Well, you may remember from the campaign, a central part of the president's origin story that he's a self-made billionaire. That he took what he considered to be a small loan of $1 million from his father and turned it into the empire. He repeated it over and over on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of $1 million. My father gave me a very small loan in 1975.
I got a very, very small loan from my father many years ago.
I started with a $1 million loan.
I started off with a $1 million loan and I built it up to more than $10 billion in value.
I came into Manhattan and I had to pay him back and I had to pay him back with interest.
I got a small loan, started a business.
A $1 million loan, and I built I up in a relatively short period of time to more than $10 billion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the only problem, according to a massive investigation by "The New York Times", it's not even close to being true. And that's just the beginning.
Joining me now is "New York Times" reporter, Russ Buettner, who shares the byline on the report.
You've been working on this for a long time.
RUSS BUETTNER, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: A year and a half.
COOPER: A year and a half, OK.
So the president says he's a self-made billionaire, took a million dollar loan from his father, turned it into an empire. Not true?
BUETTNER: Not true. His father was paying him money from the time he was 3 years old.
COOPER: From the time he was 3?
BUETTNER: From the time he was 3. Yes, the first mechanism was his father had built some large apartment complexes and he gave the land under those apartment complexes to his children, including the president, who was then 3, and then began paying them rent on that over the course of his life. That's --
COOPER: His father was paying the kids rent for the land that he has property on?
COOPER: And he's 3 years old?
COOPER: OK. BUETTNER: And he was collecting, at that point in time, the equivalent of about a physician's salary from the time he was, you know, a toddler.
COOPER: So by the time he graduated high school or college, did he have a lot of money?
BUETTNER: He was a multi-millionaire at that time. His father found other mechanisms, including treating him like a bank and paying him interest on loans, as if he had borrowed the money from his children. He started giving him apartment complexes when he was 16 years old. And then it really escalated in the 1980s, when Donald was in his 40s.
COOPER: When he was 16 and given apartment complexes, I mean, he wasn't managing the apartment complexes on his weekends? It was just on paper, he had this --
BUETTNER: That's right. It was just shares in a corporate entity, and Fred Trump split shares between his five children at the time and then continued to do all the work, but they began collecting the profits on those buildings.
COOPER: In -- you know, the president also touts his acumen as a businessman, though he actually -- you detail how he repeatedly had to be financially bailed out by his father.
BUETTNER: Yes. His father never really made a bad deal in his entire life. Everything he designed was very low in cost. And not like really high aspirational in terms of the revenue, but enough to make a significant profit.
Whereas the president, all of his businesses were very high on the cost side, and that's what you see in the 80s, he got into a lot of trouble with his casinos and airlines and hotel in Manhattan, and as all of that started to go belly-up, really getting into trouble, his father found other sort of backdoor ways to channel tens of millions of dollars to his son.
COOPER: And you report also, and I want to make sure I get this right, that his father had set up a sophisticated system to help the family avoid paying taxes. In some cases, you write about a shell company that was created to essentially funnel money through it to avoid paying taxes?
BUETTNER: Right. That's one of our favorites, because it's pretty simple sort of brazen scheme. His father's businesses, his apartment buildings bought a tremendous amount of goods, boilers, roofs, Windex, all kinds of stuff.
And his father continued to buy those things and negotiate the prices for those. But in 1992, they set up a separate entity that had no existence other than on paper that would get the bills for those things, add on 20 percent to that, and then bill the father's businesses. And then the siblings would share that 20 percent. And over just a few years, that was adding up to millions of dollars a year in income. COOPER: So it was basically a fake business or a business just on
paper that was taxing -- adding on 20 percent to the stuff and that was just money being funneled to the kids.
BUETTNER: That's right.
COOPER: And that's a way of avoiding actually taxes on money given directly --
BUETTNER: That's exactly --
COOPER: Because there's a limit on how much you can give your child.
BUETTNER: And it was very low at the time, and gift taxes at the time were quite punishing, it was 55 percent.
COOPER: Was that legal?
BUETTNER: It -- we've talked to prosecutors who said they think it is illegal in a couple of ways. One, just avoiding -- it seems like a scheme to avoid a gift tax or an estate tax later. There was another aspect of that particular one, that caused other problems, where they were using those inflated invoices to apply for rent increases on their rent-regulated apartments. And then the rent on those apartments for low and middle-income families would be artificially increased, based on that padded --
COOPER: So low-income families were pay more rent than they had to.
[20:25:02] BUETTNER: That's right.
COOPER: The White House, they put out a statement, many decades ago, the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions, perhaps another apology from "The New York Times," like the one they had to issue like after they got the 2016 election so embarrassingly wrong is in order. Not exactly a denial here.
BUETTNER: Yes, I don't think we apologized for the election.
COOPER: Right, that was also --
BUETTNER: Right, right. No, not exactly a denial.
And some of these things were reviewed by the taxing authorities. We don't feel like they ever had the whole picture of what was happening. So I think we've pointed out cases where it looks like things were just hidden from them, and that's how it kind of slid through. In other cases, like the one we were just discussing, that was never reviewed by anyone, that we're aware of.
COOPER: Stay with us. I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin, Michael D'Antonio, and Lee-Ford Tritt, who's a University of Florida professor and a leading expert in gift and estate tax law. Thanks to all for being here.
Jeff, does this sound right to? TOOBIN: It's grotesque. I mean, it is just unbelievable. And, you
know, my hat is so -- I'm so impressed by the quality of the journalism and the care with which this is done.
But there's really a larger political message here, which is that if you get a W2, like most people, you get a salary, you have basically no chance to cheat on your taxes. I mean, they withhold a certain amount every two weeks. That's just sort of how taxes work in this country.
But if you're rich, like the Trumps, you can set up a system like this. And they detail in the most extraordinary way how this is done. And an important thing to know now is that the IRS is being cut by the Republicans over and over again, so they have no investigators or very few investigators to ferret stuff out like this.
So, it's open season for people who can hire lawyers and create scams like this. So what the Trumps have done is epidemic throughout the whole economy.
COOPER: Lee, how much of what the Trump family did was just savvy estate planning? How much of it was illegal or bordering on illegal? Lee --
LEE-FORD TRITT, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: It's tough to see what's totally illegal. Yes, it's tough to see what's totally illegal. But in this case, you know, the wealthy people in the United States, they spend a lot of time and money trying to get out of estate taxes. And a lot of this is set up by Congress, their laws, their rules, their regulations that they're following.
So, when "The New York Times" is talking about these GRATs, this grantor retained annuity trusts they set up, a lot of wealthy clients do this. But stretching these tax products so far as that some of the Trump's transactions seem to do, that's really pushing illegality, especially when it's talking about these valuations and the use of the All County building supply company.
COOPER: So, I mean, essentially, if you're making low-income people, if you're getting them to pay more in rent than legally they would have to under New York rent control or rent regulation laws, I mean, that seems certainly unethical.
TRITT: Absolutely. And think about this: that transaction, it was like a twofer. They got to increase the rent in their apartments and meanwhile, they're shifting income out of Fred Sr.'s estate over to the children without a gift or an estate tax. And the income rate was lower then. So, it was a win-win for them, but definitely unethical.
COOPER: Michael, does the portrait the president depicted -- of the president that's depicted here in "The New York Times," does it fit with what you know of him, as someone who has done a biography of him and has spent time with him?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, it fits precisely. And in addition to that, I think the portrait of Fred Trump is a close fit as well. One of the wonderful things about the work "The Times" has done is that they're describing a method that Fred Trump used in the '40s and the '50s and the '60s, he the got caught a couple of times. There's an example where "The Times" writes about the family essentially leasing boilers back to Fred Trump in order to both reap the profit from the lease, but also retain a lot of the equity in it.
And this is what Fred did when he was building apartments and got caught by the New York state assembly, renting himself equipment. In the '50s, he used trickery to raise the rents on veterans and low- income families that were moving into federally subsidized housing. And Dwight Eisenhower caught him.
What's fascinating about this is that we don't have regulation anymore. There's not really an IRS checking up on these hundreds of entities, so it's pretty easy to get away with all of this stuff.
TOOBIN: If I can add one thing. The one thing that's clear about all of this, is that this criminal statute of limitations has run on all of the behavior that's described in "The Times" story. So, it's sort of an academic dispute about whether it's criminal or not.
There is the potential for some civil remedies that might continue to be sought, if the IRS gets off its behind and does it. I would not be holding my breath to see the IRS --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: -- whether it's criminal or not. There is the potential for some civil remedies that might continue to be sought, if the IRS gets off of its behind and does it, I would not be holding my breath to see the IRS --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: When New York State is looking into this.
TOOBIN: New York State. But you know, there's all of there's always mythology about, you know, the New York State, you know, filling in for Robert Mueller if he gets fired. New York State does not have the resources like the federal government does. This is a classic job for the IRS criminal division, which is a shadow of its former self.
COOPER: Russ, you also found evidence that the President's parents avoided playing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by undervaluing properties that they then gave to their kids.
RUSS BUETTNER, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, that was in the transfer of the remaining -- the bulk of Fred Trump's empire to his children in 1995 to 1997. All of that happened secretly, was never announced. They managed to --
COOPER: Transferring it before he died.
BUETTNER: Before he passed away, yes.
COOPER: To avoid estate taxes.
BUETTNER: Right. So they did that through a trust. And they were -- managed to get a valuation of those properties knocked all the way down to $41 million using a variety of mechanisms, praise those (INAUDIBLE), somewhat suspicious and spots in other discounting methods that are tax authorities or experts told us were dubious. And in doing so, they paid almost no -- a very small amount of gift tax on that. And a few years later, those buildings that they had valued at $41 million sold for more than $700 million. So that was quite a significant savings to that.
COOPER: Wow. It's just incredible reporting you and the others did at the "New York Times".
BUETTNER: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you very much. Thank you everyone, for joining us, too.
Up next, President Trump on the campaign trail tonight in Mississippi, railing against Christine Blasey Ford, even mocking her account of what she said happened to her at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh decades ago. Details ahead.
[20:35:15] COOPER: The President is at a rally in Mississippi tonight, and the restaurant he showed earlier this week regarding -- excuse me, the restraint, I should say, not restaurant. The restraint he showed earlier this week regarding Professor Christine Blasey Ford's allegation, well that seems over with. He's repeating his claim that men are the real victims, because the so-called false accusations. You might remember, after Dr. Ford testified, the President called her very compelling and a credible witness. Said she looked like a very fine woman. Up to a point, he's been careful not to attack her. That point seems now to have come. Here's the President mocking her testimony.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I had one beer! Right? I had one beer! Well, you think it was -- no, it was one beer! Oh, good. How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know! I don't know!
What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember. And a man's life is in tatters. A man's life is shattered.
COOPER: A man's life. With me now is Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, a member of the Judiciary Committee and a Democrat.
Senator Hirono, thanks for being with us. I'm wondering --
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D) HAWAII: Sure.
COOPER: -- first of all, your reaction to the President's comments tonight?
HIRONO: We can always count on the President to go down to the lowest common denominator, mock people, call people names, attack them. This is what he does. And the thing that Dr. Ford did remember, with 100% recollection, was that it was Brett Kavanaugh who attacked her.
COOPER: I'd also like to get your reaction to what the President said earlier today that, quote, "it's a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of". Do you think it's a very scary time for young men in America, compared to young women?
HIRONO: No. Because that really flows from total mistrust of women. They must think that we all sit around making up stories about them. We have a few other things that we like to do, such as getting on with our lives and making a living and all of that. So I also know that his son said the same thing and I guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. And this from an admitted sexual predator.
So, actually, it is the women in this country, mainly, who have been the victims of these kinds of assaults from men since practically I want to save time immemorial. And for them to act like the victims is the reason that women, mainly, who have these kinds of horrible experiences do not come forward, because they are mocked, they are not believed. They are told, we don't want to hear from you. That has to stop. There are a lot of angry and determined women in this country now.
COOPER: Professor Ford's attorney sent a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray, requesting a phone call, because they say that they've received no response from anyone involved in the new FBI background investigation. Should the FBI interview Professor Ford? Should they interview Judge Kavanaugh?
HIRONO: They definitely need to interview Judge Kavanaugh, because they haven't interviewed him on these particular reports. And as for Dr. Ford, I don't know, because I'm told that sometimes they will interview the principles, principle witnesses, after they have gone through the other people that they're interviewing. But, frankly, I do not know how extensive the FBI investigation is. We would like it to be complete. I would like to know whether there are inconsistencies between how Judge Kavanaugh testified and what people who knew him in both high school and college say about his behavior while he was drinking.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, there are reports tonight that the FBI's work could be wrapped up tonight. Is that your understanding? Or even tomorrow. HIRONO: I hear those kind of rumors. And what I would be concerned about is really how complete their investigation has been. Because if it's just a peripheral or kind of a whitewash kind of an investigation, I don't know if that's going to satisfy Senators Flake or Murkowski or Susan Collins. I hope not. I hope that they expect the kind of professional, thorough job that we expect of the FBI.
COOPER: Today Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said that the findings of the report should be made public. While your Committee's Ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein said, no, they should not. Where do you fall on this? Should they be made open to the public, should it just be for -- for all senators or senators on the judiciary committee?
HIRONO: All of these allegations are public. We had a hearing. You know, my view is that we should be as transparent a possible. And the American public has a right to see as much of the evidence, et cetera and the investigation as possible. And there may be some areas where there is confidentiality requirements, but mainly, I think it's really important at this point to be as transparent as possible.
[20:40:10] COOPER: Just lastly, Senator Grassley released a statement tonight on the investigation saying in part, quote, "the FBI's business should be carried out independent of political or partisan considerations. I hope my Democratic colleagues do not attempt to interfere in that process." Are you aware of what he's specifically referring to? Any attempts from your Democratic colleagues to, in his words, interfere in the investigation?
HIRONO: For people who have been stonewalling the investigation from day one, I think it's pretty rich for them to say that we are trying to interfere with a process that we have been calling for, an investigation that we have been calling for. Would you consider it interfering that we actually want to have all of the relevant witnesses and not just four questioned?
You know, the main thing is that we want a complete, thorough, reliable investigation. I don't think that's asking too much, of all of us. And clearly, don't we all want to get to as much of the truth as possible?
COOPER: Senator Hirono, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
COOPER: The President has said he knew nothing about that $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels. Remember that? Well, there's now new reporting that he did know. And not only that, he directed his personal fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen and even one of his sons to keep her story secret, or tried to. We're keeping them honest on that, I'll talk to Ms. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti.
[20:45:07] COOPER: Another keeping them honest report now on the new revelations about that $130,000 hush money pay out to adult film star, Stormy Daniels. There's new details that contradict what the President has already said about it. A source confirms to CNN what was first reported today in the "Wall Street Journal" that the President himself and his son, Eric Trump, were directly involved in efforts to stop Daniels from telling her story about the sexual affair she said he had with Donald Trump in 2006. An affair the President has denied ever happened.
Now, sources with direct knowledge tell CNN that in February, a month before Daniels agreed to talk with me for this interview with "60 Minutes", President Trump personally directed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen, in a phone call to stop Daniels from publicly speaking out about the alleged affair with him by seeking a restraining order. The source says that President Trump directed Cohen to coordinate the effort, involving his son Eric and Jill Martin, who does work for the Trump Organization, a Trump Organization attorney to keep Daniels quiet.
Now, all of this despite months of denials of the President knowing any of this. Back in March, the Trump organization denied any role, saying its attorney, Ms. Martin, assisted in the matter in her, quote, "individual capacity". And you'll likely remember back then, Michael Cohen was also saying the Trump Organization and the President knew nothing about the money paid to Ms. Daniels. David Schwartz, who was Cohen's lawyer in another matter and a friend, spokesman at the time, had this to say back in March to my colleague, Erin Burnett.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL COHEN'S LAWYER: The President was not aware to have the agreement. At least, Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement. I can tell you that.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Not aware about the agreement. What about the money?
SCHWARTZ: He was not aware about any of it.
BURNETT: OK, OK.
SCHWARTZ: He was not aware. He wasn't told about it.
BURNETT: It makes it even harder for me to imagine that he wouldn't have told the President because I do know about Michael's role.
SCHWARTZ: Right, right. Because he's that close to him, he had great latitude to handle these matters.
Michael Cohen said from the very beginning that he did this on his own and did not tell the President. The agreement was between ECLLC and Stormy Daniels.
COOPER: So, OK, we now know that wasn't true. Soon after that, the President was asked about the allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
TRUMP: No. No. What else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: Well, you would have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my -- an attorney, and you would have to ask Michael Cohen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know, no.
COOPER: So we now know that wasn't true, either. That said its important to note -- nowhere in today's story is there any suggestion that any laws were broken, but it does paint a picture of candidate willing to do anything to bury parts of his past and also involve his son in this.
Joining me now is Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti. I mean all along, you were pointing out the inconsistencies. For instance, I mean you all along, you were pointing, you know, Michael Cohen was representing himself as a Trump Organization attorney, you talked about this attorney who was involved in the arbitration, who also was a Trump Organization attorney. They were just saying stuff that wasn't true.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: The entire time. I mean not only in the clips that you referenced, Anderson, but there's a number of clips, five, six, seven clips from your own show, multiple shows, many, many, months. They consistently came on CNN and other networks. They lied to the American people. David Schwartz did it on behalf of Michael Cohen. Sarah Sanders did it from the lectern at the White House.
Other people speaking on behalf of the President did it. They lied to the American people time and time again. The President lied on Air Force One. And they kept selling or attempting to sell this lie that Donald Trump knew nothing about the $130,000 payment and basically knew nothing about the arbitration either.
COOPER: Well, we should also point out, I mean Michael Cohen has now obviously flipped and has confessed to his crimes and said, you know, that he was directed to do this by the President.
AVENATTI: Well, exactly. And I mean the President, you know, recently took a shot at me and said that, you know, I made a number of false allegations against him. Actually every allegation that I have made against him thus far I think has proven to be true or the jury's still out. But nothing has proven to be false. But it is clear now in light of this report, the President at all times knew of the $130,000 payment, attempted to cover it up. They filed this arbitration proceeding because they knew that they were getting ready to file a lawsuit and basically make it public.
COOPER: Why would the President have brought his son, Eric Trump into this? I mean obviously, Eric Trump works with the Trump Organization, as it seems like pretty much all the Trump kids do, except for Tiffany Trump. Why bring your son into this? It just seems like a bonehead move and a kind of -- I mean for a father to bring his son into this kind of stuff.
AVENATTI: Well, I agree. I think it is a bonehead move, but I think you see that consistently with Donald Trump on many front. But what that tells me is that Donald Trump is very concerned about this and wanted to do everything he could to make sure that it was swept under the rug. Wanted to have somebody other than Michael Cohen involved in an effort to make that happen.
[20:50:02] COOPER: Also, I mean, the President has said repeatedly that, you know, that he stepped away from running his family's company if -- I mean it seems like he's still involved, his telling his son how -- what to do as a -- who's a company employee.
AVENATTI: Well, I agree with that, and here's the other aspect that has not been fully flushed out yet. And that is the flow of the money. Remember, that we still don't have the evidence of exactly how this money flowed. And I think that the report today and the involvement of Eric Trump in the Trump Organization lends credence to the fact that the $130,000 payment was reimbursed from the Trump Organization.
COOPER: We also don't know what cooperation Michael Cohen has given. I mean what specifically he has told investigators and -- I mean you're not here, you don't get information on that at all obviously.
AVENATTI: Well, my understanding is that he's fully cooperating with prosecutors with SDNY. I know he spent a considerable amount of time before the grand jury in Washington D.C. in connection with the Mueller investigation. You know, I said a long time ago that in an Achilles heel for Donald Trump was going to be trusting with Michael Cohen to be his fixer and sharing his innermost secrets for 10 or 12 years with Michael Cohen who is not going to stand up under pressure.
COOPER: And where do things stand now with any pending litigation between the President and Stormy Daniels?
AVENATTI: There's a case -- there's two cases pending in Los Angeles. One of them has stayed, the other is proceeding, and we're going to find out more here in the next 60 days.
COOPER: All right, Michael Avenatti, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
I want to check in with Chris, to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris? CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right Anderson. Many years ago at ABC News, we did a team investigation into the net worth of Donald Trump, and it was a real adventure in journalism. We couldn't get anywhere near the number he wanted us to report. And every time we said we can't report that number. We couldn't even get close, he would threaten to sue. And it was a very effective technique.
The "New York Times" today with its report has fulfilled many of the dreams that we had back then about getting access to things and getting a full picture. I have never seen anything like it.
COOPER: Yes, they worked a year and a half one of the reporters was telling me.
CUOMO: The depth, the dimension, what it says about the truth about Donald Trump is something that has to be told. It took a long time to go through it, we're breaking it down. And then we have a great guest to give us perspective on that. A pretty much everything we're talking about the news, what's going on with the FBI probe, with Kavanaugh, what's going now with Rosenstein, what's going on with Mueller, what's going on with 2020 for the Democrats. Eric Holder is here. Been trying to get him for a long time. Many say he's the Democrat's best hope in 2020. So we'll take it all on with him.
COOPER: All right, Chris. Thanks very much. That's about eight minutes from now.
More breaking news, suspicious letters sent to President Trump and the Pentagon concerned they contain a deadly toxin. The latest on the investigation in a moment.
[20:57:01] COOPER: Well, there's still more breaking news tonight, the FBI is investigating three suspicious letters, one was sent to President Trump, the two others to the Pentagon. CNN Boris Sanchez joins us with more. So what have you learned?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello there Anderson, yes it appears that all these letters were connected. According to a law enforcement source, all the envelopes are similar, and they contain a ricin like substance. Though officials are not publicly labeling it ricin pending further testing of the secret service has told CNN that the letter that was addressed to President Trump never actually even got on the White House grounds.
We understand that the two letters that were addressed to the Pentagon were sent to the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis and the chief of Naval Affairs Admiral John Richardson. One more note of the actual substance of these envelopes, a law enforcement source tell CNN that it was a crude substance based on caster beans, which is used to make ricin. Well this official says that if someone had ingested this substance, it likely would not have been fatal, though it could have made them very ill, Anderson.
COOPER: Is there any response from the White House? SANCHEZ: Well they directed all our questions to the secret service, when they were initially reached with questions about this, at least one official in the White House press shop had not been aware that one of these letters was addressed to President Trump. Of course the secret service has told us that all these letters are under quarantine, they're not part of this joint investigation. And of course we know that the President is not actually here at the White House tonight, he's taking part in a rally at Mississippi, Anderson?
COOPER: So what is the next step in the investigation?
SANCHEZ: Well, initially it is completing the testing on this substance to determine whether or not it is actually ricin, which it appears to be that. Then of course there is a process whereby the secret service and the Department of Defense, the FBI and others would try to trace these letters back, this is not the first time that we've seen this of course there were similar letters sent to President Obama. Those ended with a thorough investigation. Yet to be seen exactly how this saga ends though, Anderson.
COOPER: But just to be clear, the letter sent to the President did not enter the White House grounds, but the two letters sent to the Pentagon -- did -- you know, did they actually reach the offices of Mattis and the other intended target?
SANCHEZ: No, Anderson, there is a mail processing facility at the Pentagon, it appears when they were sent in, they were tested at that facility, and they never actually reached either Admiral Richardson nor Secretary of Defense Mattis.
COOPER: All right, Boris Sanchez, appreciate it, thanks.
A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle", it's our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. You get to pick some of the stories we cover, we started this a month or two ago. It's week nights at 6:25 eastern at facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle. Hope you tune in, the news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?
CUOMO: I never miss it. Thank you Anderson.
I'm Chris Cuomo, welcome to "Prime Time".
[20:59:59] Donald Trump has been exposed as a tax cheat and his story about how he made his fortune has been exposed as a fraud according to the "New York Times".