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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Caves on Wall, Agrees to Reopen Government; Mueller Indicts Trump Ally Roger Stone, Says He Coordinated with Trump Campaign Officials About WikiLeaks' Stolen Emails; Mueller Was Concerned Stone Would Flee Or Destroy Evidence; Stone Calls Investigation Politically Motivated, Insists He Will Not Testify Against The President. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 25, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:27] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
For the first time in more than a month, the first time in two pay periods, 800,000 men and women who serve this country every day will be able to go to bed knowing they will soon have money coming in again.
So, for all you will be hearing tonight about how bruising a day this was politically for President Trump, it's at least a better day now for people like TSA officer Ollie Morganfield (ph) was working without pay and was worrying he might soon face eviction. It's a better day for Malory Lorge (ph) who works at the Fish and Wildlife Services and for times rationing her insulin.
It's a better day for air traffic controllers and Coast Guard officers and everyone else we have had the privilege of getting to know during the longest government shutdown today. Their lives got better today when the man behind that shutdown who said without evidence again and again that the people he was hurting supported him, finally did right by those people.
Today, he backed down and in hindsight, maybe we should have seen it coming all along, because throughout the past few weeks, the president's language about the wall to put it nicely evolved. From wall to whatever you want to call it, from concrete to something else. To Mexico is going to pay to I need you the American taxpayers to pick up the check.
Listen to how he described the wall today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never did. We never proposed that. We never wanted that, because we have barriers at the border where natural structures are as good as anything that we can build. Our proposed structures will be in predetermined, high- risk locations that have been specifically identified by the border patrol to stop illicit flows of people and drugs.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I can almost hear it now. Who will pay for those proposed structure structures? Mexico is.
All right. I get it. The president doesn't like losing. He is trying to redefine victory. It doesn't sound like what he has been pitching for years now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to build a great border wall.
We will build a great, great wall.
We're going to build a wall. Don't worry about it. Oh, we will build a wall.
I promise, we will build the wall.
It's not going to be a little wall. It's going to be a big, beautiful wall.
It's going to be a very tall wall. Very strong wall. Very powerful wall.
It's going to be such a beautiful wall. It's going to be so big. It's going to be so powerful. It's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be. I've got to make it beautiful because maybe someday they will name the wall the Trump wall. Who the hell knows?
And who is going to pay for the wall?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: On that last part, the spin from the White House is that Mexico will pay for it indirectly through increased revenue which importers, not Mexico, will pay from a still un-ratified trade deal. All right.
Anyway, what about the concrete part? Who would say they wanted to make a wall out of that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A wall. I build buildings that are 94 stories tall. And that's tough stuff. This is so easy. I mean, think of it.
Some of you are in the construction business. Think of garages. The concrete plank that goes 60, 70, 80, 90 feet, right, concrete plank for garage floors. It's precast. You put a foundation. You put it up. You make it beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sounds like a plan. Except, it turned out it wasn't. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's going to be made of hardened concrete. It's going to be made out of rebar and steel.
No offense, it's a wall. You could call it a steel fence, this wall or fence or anything the Democrats need to call it.
A wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. I will call it whatever they want. It's all the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, let's call it a mishegoss. A wall, a fence, steel, concrete, Mexico will pay. As the shutdown dragged on, the questions grew about whether any of this mattered to the president beyond just prevailing, which would have been nice to know for the public who have been going without vital government services and for people facing hardship and bankruptcy and eviction and worse.
The president just weighed in tonight on what he did, what he did today and where this could go from here.
Jim Acosta is at the White House. He joins us now with that and more.
So, I understand the president tweeted out a new statement. What is he saying now?
[20:05:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. His supporters, they got a cave on a wall, but the president is trying to twist it around, and present it to the public as not a concession.
And as a matter of fact, he did just put that sentiment in a tweet a short while ago. It says, in this tweet in the last half hour, I wish people would read or listen to my words on the border wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who are getting badly hurt by the shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it's off to the races.
That last part about being off to the races, that's essentially restating what he said earlier today is that we could be right back where we were the last 35 days with yet another government shutdown or as the president was saying earlier today, that he might declare a national emergency to go ahead and get the process started unilaterally. But no matter how you slice it, Anderson, this is obviously a concession, a retreat, a surrender and a cave for this president.
And I -- don't take it from me, talk to a Trump adviser that I talked to earlier this evening who said that this was a, quote, humiliating loss for somebody who rarely loses. And this adviser punctuated that remark by saying, I miss winning -- Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, how exactly did we get here? Because just a few days ago, the president was still demanding $5.7 billion for the wall before reopening the government.
ACOSTA: I think what happened here, Anderson, and you were seeing this in the last few days, is you had Republican senators, Republicans over in the House starting to peel away from the president. You were seeing calls coming in from Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, like Mitch McConnell telling the president, listen, this is not going in your direction.
But, Anderson, I believe the video that we saw this morning, those images coming out of LaGuardia, the Northeast corridor where air traffic control was really just starting to come to a halt. You were starting to see some of the sick outs, these folks not coming to work, to work in the air traffic control towers, and the delays that were the result of that. And that was starting to put pressure on this White House, we understand, from talking to officials and sources. That really put pressure on the president to go ahead and end all of this.
COOPER: So, clearly, the president is trying to cast this as a victory on his part. Do we know how his advisers, what people in the White House, how they are viewing it tonight? What the mood is there?
ACOSTA: Anderson, it was strange. I was in the Rose Garden with the president when he made the statement earlier today. And it was just bizarre, surreal to see top White House officials from the vice- president on down applauding the president as he was making the statement today as if he had won something.
Anderson, this was as far from winning as you could possibly get. This was losing. And yet, the president was getting support from his own team. I suppose that is a sign of loyalty from your staffers.
There was a conference call in the evening between top White House officials here and surrogates for the White House. They were trying to present this as not a cave.
But, Anderson, I talked -- this adviser I talked to earlier this evening who advises the president said this was a humiliating loss to the president and questioned whether or not the president would -- whether it's a good idea for him to continue to pursue policies advocated like some top White House officials have been advocating, like Stephen Miller, this adviser said that perhaps today was not a cave but a grave for Stephen Miller's hard line immigration policies.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
I want to dig deeper now with CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, what's your sense of what went on here? I mean, the president got the same amount of funding he could have gotten a month ago which is zero. Why did he make this move?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There were a bunch of issues going on. The broad one is that the president made a statement several weeks ago that he would own a shutdown. Democrats took him up on that and went with it, and saw no reason to make a concession on something that their base and the Democratic House caucus members don't want to give in to, which is this border wall the president talked about for so long, and at that amount of money. He made a tactical mistake. He had to own it.
Shutdowns are not good for anyone. The Democrats are certainly feeling pain. Nancy Pelosi was getting some blame, it seems, in polls too, but the president was getting more. And when you look at what was happening, his poll numbers were going down. Remember what close attention he pays to polls.
You had that warning from the FAA about airlines and airport security and planes being able to take off and fly. This morning, finally, you had a ground stop at LaGuardia, which is the airport in the president's hometown. All of this caught his eye, as did pressure from Republicans who were starting to break. While the Republican coalition was showing some cracks, Democrats were actually holding pretty strong, which surprised among other people Democrats who often fight among each other.
But they were able to stand together and not give and inch. And ultimately, the president who likes to test limits had to give in to where reality was. The shutdown was not going to help him going forward. It was becoming worse and worse for actual voters, actual people as you said at the top.
And so, he is now kicking the can down another couple weeks. I think we will try to work on some other proposals up until then. He has left open the possibility of the national emergency declaration.
[20:10:02] And we'll see.
COOPER: I mean, he gave that long speech in the Rose Garden which was kind of positioned as a victory lap, describing everything he didn't get as though he had gotten it.
HABERMAN: Well, that's classic Donald Trump, right? I mean, we have seen him over and over in the course of the last now, four years, as a politician and certainly he did before that as a businessman and entertainment figure. He will point to a loss and say, no, actually, I won and you lost, and you are just not understanding this.
He repeatedly diverged from the teleprompter at that Rose Garden speech today. He added all kinds of things into it that comported with this vision and this view of the border crisis that he has been painting for many weeks now. He did not look comfortable. This did not look like a speech he wanted to take. It was sort of taking medicine and moving on.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie, stay with us, because I also want to bring in "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers, also former Republican presidential candidate and senator, Rick Santorum.
Kirsten, I mean, whether you think the president made the right call here or not, the fact is 800,000 workers will soon be getting paychecks again. KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Right. I do think he made the
right call. The one thing that worries me is the coverage he is getting, the -- you know, he rolled over, he got rolled, he got played, all this stuff, is going to only aggravate him and make him more likely to not want to make another deal.
And, look, he had to defy his base in this. This is what he actually originally tried to do, if you remember.
POWERS: He had decided that he was going to forgo getting the money for the wall. And then Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh freaked out on him and he caved. And ultimately, I think everything, Maggie said, of course, is dead on.
He saw the polls. He saw he wasn't winning this. He saw the Democrats were unified, that they weren't going to give in. And he didn't really have a choice.
But in the end, I think it was the right thing to do. I don't think he should be shamed for doing it. I don't think there's shame in making a deal.
COOPER: Senator Santorum, was it the right thing to do? Politically, was it a mistake?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Kicking the can down the road is a reasonable course. It showed the president was willing to compromise. He is willing to concede to the other team's wishes in order to try to get a deal.
But to pick up on Kirsten's point, I think it's really important -- I mean, I have been watching the news all week -- I mean, all day long. They have been beating up -- oh, he caved. This is from a media who says that the president is just recalcitrant, he won't compromise, he won't -- when he does, you beat him up for caving.
This is -- it's just -- you can't -- you can't have it both ways. You can't beat the guy up when he says, OK, I will have it your way, Nancy, we'll do exactly what you want, we'll sit down with you, we'll negotiate.
He caved. He craved (ph). He cratered. He is a wimp.
Then say on the other hand, the president doesn't compromise. You can't have it both ways.
COOPER: Maggie, I wonder, do you think the media is attacking him unfairly? Is this a cave? Is it a compromise?
HABERMAN: I don't think that it's -- I don't think it's a compromise. I think it's a delaying a possible deal and trying to work toward a possible compromise. I don't think this is a compromise. I think this is just getting the government back open. But I do think the senator has a point. I think that Kirsten has point that this -- this is something I hear from the White House a lot, is they feel like they can't -- they feel like they can't win. They feel like he stands his ground and he gets attacked. If he goes ahead and reopened the government, he gets attacked for that.
And I think that he complicates his position when he gives a speech explaining the reasons why to your point he really won and this was a victory and he turned it into something moving away from the workers and all about his campaign promises. But I do think that there is at its core a fair point that they are sort of damned if they do and damned if they don't. They do get themselves into this. But the president got himself into this with what he said.
But it is true that the government is reopened. That was the goal a lot of people had been working toward. That has now happened.
SANTORUM: I would --
COOPER: It's not just the left, though. I mean, I think you have --
SANTORUM: I agree. I agree. He is getting it from both sides.
From my mind, what the president has done is given an opportunity for the old-fashion politics to work, which is to sit down and make a deal. That's what the Democrats said they would do. I would make the argument that now the ball is in Nancy Pelosi's court.
She said she would make a deal. If the government were open. We would take care of these people suffering under the shutdown. Now she has the opportunity -- she can make a deal. She can come together, she can buck her base and actually find a compromise.
I think it's pretty clear Donald Trump is willing to do that. The question is whether Nancy Pelosi can.
COOPER: Kirsten? Yes, go ahead.
POWERS: I was going to say, also, it's not that unusual for politicians to say they are winning when they're not winning.
[20:15:01] It's not that unusual for people not to get everything that they want and then to go out and try to spin it in the best light as possible. So, I don't even really fault him for that. I think that really if the Democrats want to negotiate now moving forward -- look, I think the wall is off the table and he's going to have to deal with that. But they should -- you know, when you're negotiating, you should try to find a way to help the other person save face.
Even if you don't like him, if you want to have a deal, the goal is not to humiliate Donald Trump because Donald Trump -- or anybody, frankly, is not going to react well to that, nor is their base going to react well to it. So, I think that hopefully in getting a deal, they can find a way to get to yes in a way that makes both parties look good.
COOPER: Senator Santorum, do you think the wall is off the table?
SANTORUM: I'm not sure it's off the table. There may be elements of a wall or barrier, a physical barrier.
To Kirsten's point, this is really important. You know, back in ancient times when I was in Congress, we actually -- when you sat down, you actually listened to what the other side had to say. You are right, you tried to give them -- at least if you were going to strike a deal -- something they could look at their people and say, hey, we got something.
If the idea from Nancy Pelosi and her side is, we're not going to give him anything that gives him any quarter, then we're going to be back shut down or we're going to have an emergency declaration. Neither is a good thing.
COOPER: Well, Kirsten, I don't understand how the Democrats could say, there's not going to be any kind of new barriers. In the past, they have agreed -- there's also fencing. So, if you accept the notion that some fencing is okay in some key areas, I would assume they would have to be open to some sort of fencing somewhere, even if just a little bit.
POWERS: Yes. Well, the thing to remember, the Democratic Party has shifted a lot. I think it's a good thing. I think that they didn't used to be very good on immigration issues. They have listened to the base more and listened to Latino groups more.
So, I think that their positions are different. I mean, people are changing and people are seeing things differently. So, even if they did it in the past, I'm not sure it matters.
But if you are going to negotiate, I think -- I do think the wall is a non-starter. I think it should be a non-starter. Even though I think this -- that this crisis is a ginned up crisis, if the compromise to get DACA, for example, something that's very important, is to give them some fencing or something along the border, then, yes, those are the deals I think that the Democrats should be considering.
You just -- you can't get everything that you want. I think the wall is just -- it's a bridge too far. It's something that he also said Mexico was going to pay for. So, why is he asking Congress to pay for it?
COOPER: Kirsten Powers, Rick Santorum, Maggie Haberman, thank you very much.
Up next, the arrest of long time Trump associate Roger Stone. What Robert Mueller has him on him. The mysterious passages in the indictment and what it could suggest about the president's legal exposure if any.
Later, perspective from two men who crossed paths with Roger Stone. The last major scandal they all played a part in, Watergate. Carl Bernstein and John Dean join us, ahead.
COOPER: So, how many times have we said this? On any other day, this would be the lead in the broadcast. And yes, on any other day, this would.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI. Open the door. FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That from a CNN crew staking out Roger Stone's house. FBI agents at the home of Roger Stone, longtime Trump associate. He was arrested today on a variety of charges, including witness tampering, obstruction of an official proceeding, and make false statements.
Now, the charges tie him to his role in the 2016 campaign, WikiLeaks and hacked e-mails damaging to Democrats. The indictment speaks to all of it. It suggests someone at the highest levels, perhaps the candidate himself, were involved, or more than on person.
However, it does so without naming names. Mr. Stone denies all the charges against him, it's important to point out.
I want to walk through it now and perhaps decode the mystery with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. So, explain what exactly Roger Stone is charged with.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So, Anderson, simply put, he is charged with lying, trying to cover up his dealings with WikiLeaks when he was asked by congressional investigators about whether -- what role he had, what role members of the campaign may have had, was he communicating with anyone in the campaign about whether or not he had knowledge of what WikiLeaks had, any knowledge that they were going to be releasing any e-mails.
But it's what's in this indictment that's more important and certainly more startling is that they are accusing him of being the link -- the government, you had the Mueller team accusing Roger Stone of being the link between the campaign and Julian Assange and how he was the go around guy. He was talking to intermediaries who are giving him information about what Julian Assange had, and then that he was communicating with senior campaign officials about that information, Anderson.
COOPER: Was the president mentioned anywhere in this indictment?
PROKUPECZ: Now, he is not mentioned. But like you said, there is one line that is particularly interesting, that makes -- has been making a lot of us wonder whether or not it refers to the president in the way it's worded, this line.
And let me go ahead and read that to you. What they say here, the government, is that a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional WikiLeaks releases and what other damaging information WikiLeaks had regarding the Clinton campaign. Now, what's interesting there is how they say the senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone. So, the question is, who perhaps could be more senior in a campaign than Donald Trump at the time?
It does not say anything else about the president here. But, certainly, that line has many of us wondering whether or not they are referring to the president here.
COOPER: There's two other questions. One, when did Roger Stone decide to do the Richard Nixon double fisted victory sign?
I have a feeling it was a while ago. I would love to know his thought process on that.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
COOPER: And, Shimon, what are we learning -- I mean, Roger Stone and his attorney, they have been critical of how the FBI raided him, essentially saying, look, there was no point in doing that. You didn't need a SWAT team, you didn't need people knocking on the door at 6:00 a.m. in the morning.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
COOPER: You could have called his attorney. Why did they do that?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. Look, I think Roger Stone, from everything we know in the conversations our reporters have had with him, he was hoping the FBI would call him and tell him to surrender. It could be because that's what he wanted to do, kind of put on a show with his surrender, give reporters a heads up and he was going to show up and put on a show as he did today outside of court.
But the FBI had other plans here. They say in court documents that they were worried he was going to flee, he was going -- had they given him a heads up he was going to take off.
The other big concern they say was that if they had given him a heads up they were going to arrest him and they wanted him to surrender, that he was going to destroy evidence. Look, I think when you look at the video, the way in which the FBI proceeded, it's almost like they were going in to arrest a violent gang member of some kind.
You don't normally see these kinds of apprehensions in these kinds of cases. But I think also the FBI wanted to send him a message. I think he has been harsh on the FBI here, on the Mueller team for obvious reasons. I think they did not want to give him a heads up. And they went ahead and did what they did this morning at 6:00 a.m.
COOPER: All right. Sam -- Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.
With me now, Sam Nunberg. He's both a former Trump campaign aide and a one time protege of Roger Stone. Also, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin who wrote that great Stone profile in "The New Yorker" some years back. You should look it up.
So, Sam, does the indictment comport with what you know Roger Stone to have done?
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Well, it does in terms of the fact that -- the indictment does not say that Roger directly had contact with Russians, which is what Roger has said. But it also says to me between the lines, being there obviously, I'm fired on a Sunday, roger quits that Friday. I look at this as tragic for my part because I feel as if he wanted to ingratiate himself and stay relevant within that type of campaign, and that he was doing things that were not in his best interest. And they weren't because they made him a target.
COOPER: This line that Shimon pointed out, from the indictment. A senior campaign official was directed to contact stone about future WikiLeaks postings. Given you worked in the campaign, who would be in a position to direct a senior Trump campaign official to talk to Stone?
NUNBERG: Look, it's very -- I read all these indictments. I have been through hours of voluntary. I've been through six hours of the grand jury, and I follow this and I started following this. Mueller is very particular.
It could be, for all we know, the president. I don't -- short answer, I don't know. But there's a point that they made that is clear not to say it was a senior Trump campaign official.
COOPER: Right, it's intentional. It's not an accident they used that word.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely not. The use of the passive voice there is so relevant. I don't -- I don't know who else it could be. And isn't that -- you have been around Donald Trump a lot. Isn't that the kind of thing he would say? Is like, go to ask Roger what's going on.
NUNBERG: Look, I have no knowledge of Donald Trump asking Roger. I can't --
TOOBIN: No, no, I understand that.
NUNBERG: I don't want to accuse the president of --
COOPER: But you can --
NUNBERG: What I'm saying is, is that if you gave me multiple choice, he would be one of the people I think that could be there. But, Jeffrey, I don't know.
COOPER: It's a small campaign. There weren't a huge number of senior campaign officials. Then to have somebody -- what other --
NUNBERG: Also, the dynamics of the campaign, too, were such that at that point, even in July, well, maybe so, Trump didn't necessarily want Corey Lewandowski or Hope Hicks knowing he was talking to Roger or he was -- so, look, I don't know. I don't know who it is.
COOPER: Do you know -- who else -- who were the senior campaign officials?
NUNBERG: The senior campaign officials, I would assume, are Manafort or Gates at that time. They are there. If you go down, Maggie Haberman reported, you have -- it's Steve Bannon.
NUNBERG: Steve will say that this was something I did because Roger had asked me to contact him. I think that's the argument.
With that said, what I think -- you can talk better to this than me is the narrative building out here. The narrative. Now we have close to the campaign -- we haven't got to the transition. There are questions about that.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, how big a deal is this? Sarah Sanders is saying it has nothing to do with the president.
TOOBIN: I mean, this is an enormous deal. This is someone who is an indispensable figure in Donald Trump's political career going back to the '80s was trying to get him to run for president, someone who he has had a very hot and cold relationship with. Sometimes they have been angry at each other. Sometimes they have been very close.
[20:30:00] But they've been in contact over the years. And also, it's important to establish that there was a relationship between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.
Now, it is important to point out, as Sam said, there is no even suggested proof in the campaign that the Russians were in touch with Roger or even that WikiLeaks was in touch with Roger, although, Roger boasts about that. Most of what the indictment concerns is Roger going to intermediaries.
Randy Credico, a radio talk show host here, Jerome Corsi, who is a conservative writer, these are the people he was in touch with who he thought was in touch with WikiLeaks. And that's what he lies about allegedly in the indictment.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And do you think Roger Stone would flip on the President or on her senior campaign officials?
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I don't -- at this point, I don't.
COOPER: Because he says he would never do.
NUNBERG: I don't. But I do think, though, is it depends how he is treated in the public sphere by Rudy, by Jay, by the White House. I think that if they want to throw him, if they want to treat him the way they treated Michael --
COOPER: Right. NUNBERG: -- then maybe enough is enough. I don't think that he -- I think he has a very strong affinity and respect for Donald Trump and a loyalty to him, but people can only take so much, especially after this.
COOPER: That will be interesting. You know, one thing to watch -- for us all to watch is how the White House and everybody deals with him at this point with Giuliani. Sam, great to have you. Thank you.
NUNBERG: Thank you.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, as well, appreciate it.
Up next, more on Roger Stone's indictment. We'll dig deeper into the mystery surrounding the indictment, his claim that he'll never testify against the President. We'll also hear what he has to say about today's FBI raid.
[20:35:04] COOPER: Well, Roger Stone professed his loyalty to President Trump. Leaving at Florida courthouse today, he said he will never testify against the President. Here's what he told CNN's Nick Valencia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was it like when the FBI showed up?
ROGER STONE, POLITICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not surprising.
VALENCIA: You weren't surprised at all?
VALENCIA: The indictment says that you were coordinating with senior Trump officials, campaign officials. Who were the officials?
STONE: False, false.
VALENCIA: No indication who those officials were, Mr. Stone?
STONE: They don't exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Roger Stone sticking with one of his rules, admit nothing, deny everything once counterattack. Joining me now is CNN's Senior Legal Analyst and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. And back with us, Maggie Haberman and Jeffrey Toobin.
Preet, how solid do you think the government's case is against Roger Stone?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANAYST: Well, in some respect it's incredibly solid. I would say it's a slam dunk, which is something that prosecutors don't like to day. But with respect to the five counts that relate to false statements, lying to Congress, they're incredibly strong.
My favorite, if I could use that phrase, not to make light of it, is the allegation where the Special Counsel claims that Roger Stone on one day claimed that he never texted the intermediary, Roger -- Randy Credico, who is person two in the indictment on the same day that he actually texted 30 times.
So, you have the statement. It's clear. It's not ambiguous. And then you have -- presumably they have the actual texts. That's a lie that's readily provable.
COOPER: What you're hearing, though, from a lot of the President's supporters is that these are procedural crimes, that these are just procedural crimes.
BHARARA: They're serious crimes that go to the heart of what the justice system is about. From time to time, people come before a grand jury, or they come before a special counsel, or they come before Congress. And as Jeff knows, as anybody is ever prosecuted cases knows the only way you can get at the truth ultimately is if people are held responsible if they lie in the course of an investigation.
And the lies here went directly to the issue that the Special Counsel was investigating. To what extent was there some kind of coordination with or collusion that people like to use, conspiracy with, you know, by and between people in the Trump campaign and folks who were either, you know, with the Russian government or getting information from the Russian government like it looks like WikiLeaks was.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, you spend time with Roger Stone with a great New York (INAUDIBLE) about him. Do you believe when he says he's not going to flip on the President, do you believe that?
TOOBIN: I do, because I don't think he is a good witness for the prosecution. I mean, he has lied so much during his life. I mean, he sort of relishes being a BS artist and someone who tells people, you know, what he wants to tell them. So I don't think he would be a great witness for the prosecution.
And I think he is going to go to trial and he has a better shot of getting a pardon than he does of, you know, flipping and becoming a good government witness who doesn't get a long sentence.
COOPER: You think that's what he is banking on getting apart?
TOOBIN: He didn't tell me that. I mean, I just saw him very recently but he did not -- he didn't say that. I mean, he really thought he wasn't going to get indicted at that point. They thought the storm had passed. I was with him and his lawyers in Florida two weeks ago and they were -- they thought this thing was pretty much over. So, they were wrong and now we'll see.
COOPER: Maggie, I mean, what's your sense of where the President is in all this in terms of, you know, is he rattled? I mean, it wasn't a huge surprise, I guess, that Stone has been indicted.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you remember there was a tweet from the President a couple of weeks or months ago or frankly decades ago, because these weeks are also long, where he had tweeted negatively about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen was weak because he had flipped, where is Roger Stone is strong and he's not doing that. I think that is where his head is.
I think that he is looking at it as, you know, this is a problem. I don't think he wants to deal with it. My understanding is he talks much more about Michael Cohen privately than he talks about Roger Stone. But let's not pretend the President is not disturbed by this on some level.
This is a person, Roger Stone, who has been the President's closest political adviser on and off. And, yes, as Jeffrey said, they have been friends and foes at various points. They've had a very, very fraught but durable relationship over a very long period of time and Roger knows a lot about Donald Trump. So, that will always make the President feel anxious.
But I do think that the President feels pretty confident that Stone is not going to turn on him, that he is not going to cooperate with prosecutors. Stone has also never said to me that he anticipates a pardon, but certainly people around the President believe that Roger may think that. And people around Roger think that Roger may think that.
TOOBIN: There's another factor at play here, which is that Paul Manafort is looking at 10 years in prison. I mean, his financial crimes, given the way the federal sentencing works, he is looking at a very long time in prison.
[20:40:07] This is a very different case. There's no money involved in this case, so even if Stone is convicted, I think he is looking at two or three year, which she figures he can do if he has to. And it's just -- it's less of a life or death matter than it was for Manafort.
COOPER: Preet, do you agree that the big question now is who the person was who, according to the indictment, directed a senior campaign official to reach out to Stone?
BHARARA: Yes, I think it's an important question. What I've been struggling with is trying to understand why that's in the indictment. It wasn't necessary in the indictment. It just could have said that a senior campaign official spoke to Roger Stone to -- directed someone to speak to -- I'm sorry, that a senior campaign official spoke to Roger Stone to ask questions about what WikiLeaks had.
COOPER: The fact that it's -- that Mueller put in that he was -- that he or she was directed to speak to Stone.
BHARARA: Yes. The passive voice when nothing else in the indictment is passive voice, so it wasn't necessary. It's an odd word choice and they don't say who it is. I'm not sure why it's in there, because nothing that Mueller does is unintentional and they're very careful. COOPER: Is that directing the President? Is that supposed to raise questions about the President? I mean it certainly --
BHARARA: Frankly, I actually don't know. It's odd that it's in there because they must have expected it was going to cause speculation. And speculation is something that I think, you know, we've been worried about the last couple of weeks when the BuzzFeed article would, you know, guess (ph) in one memo that is very clear in the circumstance when you say that the President directed something.
You recall, and viewers will recall that there was a sentencing memorandum submitted by the Southern District of New York with respect to Michael Cohen on the question of whether the President directed him to make certain payoffs. That was there in black and white. It wasn't in passive voice. It was the President directed him so we had to believe it was true.
I believe also it must be the case that the Mueller team has it solidly that someone was directed and they probably know who that -- I'm sure they know who that person is. So the fact that they made it -- they put it in there, it wasn't necessary, but they don't name the person is odd to me.
COOPER: So you -- so the senior campaign official who according to this indictment was directed, do you think that person is cooperating? We don't know.
BHARARA: It would be my guess that that's how they know that that person was directed. It also stands to reason that the person who is doing the directing was the President, although I don't know if that's true. Again, we're just speculating. We should be very careful about that, because it would be natural for the President upon hearing that Roger Stone has information to say, find out what he has.
And I know what Jeff is going to say because I've heard him say it before and he's absolutely right. What I said just now maybe sounds, you know, very sensational, but it is not a crime, right? It is not a crime in the circumstances that we understand to be true at the moment for the President to say to someone, "Hey, find out what Roger Stone knows."
TOOBIN: Right. I mean, that is an important point, is that even though it is -- it would be embarrassing, it would be, I think, inappropriate, but to say as someone might, you know, go ask Roger what the heck is going on with WikiLeaks, get that information.
COOPER: That's not illegal?
TOOBIN: That is not illegal.
BHARARA: On its own, on its own.
TOOBIN: On its own, yes. But it is part -- and why it sounds like it could be the President if this is the same person who was saying I love WikiLeaks. So, I mean, his -- he never recognized that -- or never acknowledged that WikiLeaks was involved in a criminal enterprise, but he -- they were doing his business.
COOPER: Preet Bharara, Maggie Haberman, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.
With Roger Stone, it's not only shades of Nixon, but the entire color pallet. Up next, we'll hear from two major Watergate figures, John Dean and Carl Bernstein, for their perspective on this major day, next.
[20:47:19] COOPER: Roger Stone's political career dates back to Richard Nixon as evidenced by the tattoo on his back. I think we have a photo. Yes, that is real. Stone's affinity for the disgrace former President was on display after he appeared in a federal court today following his arrest in obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering. There, of course, echoing Nixon's double fisted victory sign.
Well, see what becomes of Roger Stone, but we all know how history remembers Nixon and nobody knows it better than former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean and legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein.
Carl, I mean, it was kind of incredible to see Roger Stone giving, you know, the signature Nixon victory sign today. No coincidence. He obviously know that would be, you know, a photo that everybody, you know, used in reference.
This is a man who has a bong shaped like Richard Nixon's head in his house as far as I understand. I'm wondering what today surprised you or made you think about.
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: What I think about today is how important it is that we get a real report from Mr. Mueller that tells us every aspect of his investigation, particularly surrounding the President of the United States and how crucial it is that the American people hear from Mueller everything that he knows about Trump.
Stone is a bit player in the sense that he is a self-aggrandizer. But he is a not a bit player, he is a huge player because of his proximity and relationship to the President of the United States as that one part of the indictment makes clear if indeed it is the President, as Preet Bharara was speculating, who was being referred to there.
What we need to keep our eye on here, though, is the difference in Watergate and what we're witnessing now is that we had hearings at which the American people learned about what happened in the Nixon White House. And we've had no such public hearings leaving us with nothing but Mueller to put all this together for us.
And so today -- look, first of all, Roger Stone was not a major player in the Nixon presidency. He was 19 years old and 20 years old at the time of Watergate. He was a junior scheduler in the Nixon campaign, he like you to think otherwise. He is a consummate BS artist. And at the same time, he is up to his neck, obviously, in the WikiLeaks business and with the President of the United States.
COOPER: John, you know, in a book Roger Stone wrote about Watergate, he had some choice words for you in it, obviously, given that I wonder what went through your mind when you saw him today.
[20:50:04] JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: He's never been one of my favorite people. He has tried to disrupt a couple book festivals when I was there, not successfully. But he is a -- he's a dirty trickster. He seemed to take the worst lessons from Watergate and think they are the real lessons that one should employ. And now he finished it out by getting a charge of lying, obstruction of justice, witness tampering.
Anyway, I noticed with the great interest today that the Nixon Foundation disowned him and put out a tweet just to -- and to make the point that Carl had that -- how young he was and he was the junior scheduler and while he portrays himself to something of Nixon aide.
It was really after Nixon left office that Roger worked with him and for him up in New Jersey during his post presidential period. I, you know, I'm not surprised. I think he's a consummate liar. He would be a terrible government witness. His only hope is a pardon and if he has some information that could hurt Trump, Trump might do that, if he sits on it and goes to jail with it.
COOPER: Carl, I mean it's interesting that, you know, these three men, Nixon, Stone and Trump all seem or seemed to live -- or this sort of publicly get lived by the same code of admitting nothing kind of denying everything, counter attacking whenever possible. You can argue Nixon did it behind the scenes where's certainly, you know, Donald Trump has done it very publicly.
BERNSTEIN: Well, there's been a vast cover up both by Richard Nixon and by Donald Trump. Everything Russian is being covered up and lied about by the President of the United States and those who served with him who have gone down this road and who we now see are under indictment, they'd lied.
Why? Why does everybody keep lying about the Russia the same way that witnesses in Watergate kept lying about what happened in the Watergate break and then what happened in the vast campaign of political espionage and sabotage run by those closes to the President of the United States to undermine the Democrats campaign for President of the United States? We have real similarities there. But we also have this situation --
BERNSTEIN: -- in which the difference between Watergate and what we see now is the system was allowed to work in Watergate and Republicans helped to make it work and we're not seeing that happen now.
COOPER: John, I mean, in the indictment today there's a text message in which Stone told witness Randy Credico, "Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan, Richard Nixon." That's actually a direct quote from Nixon in the midst of the Watergate investigation, right?
DEAN: It is from one of the Nixon tapes on the afternoon of March 22nd. I had just left the meeting the day before I'd warned Nixon there was a cancer on his presidency. He is meeting and huddling with Mitchell. And just telling Mitchell the way it is, "Plead the fifth. Do anything you have to do to save the plan," that was really a rather brutal conversation used very effectively against Mitchell at the criminal trial against him on obstruction of justice.
COOPER: Incredible. John Dean, Carl Bernstein, thank you very much.
I want to check in with Chris to see what he is working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The breath of the coverage that you've given us tonight so far is very impressive, so we'll try to add on to it with some depth and bringing in some of the people who matter here. We have Roger Stone tonight. We're going to talking this. It's amazing to me that council was letting him speak after being indicted.
COOPER: Yes, that's for sure.
CUOMO: I'm sure that he's been warned to stay away from the merits of the case, but there's plenty to discuss as your show has made very clear.
We also have Kristin Davis on the show, remember her?
CUOMO: She has known Roger Stone for a very long time.
COOPER: She worked for him.
CUOMO: She did. She also spoke to the Mueller investigators. Remember, Stone has not. So, what does she think of this? What are her concerns for Roger going forward, because he really is showing a lot of confidence given what is in this indictment?
COOPER: Yes. Chris, we look forward to that, Roger Stone, Kristin Davis. Thanks very much. Six minutes from now.
Up next, an update on the family we told you about last night, a couple concerned that because of the shutdown their electricity would be turned off, electricity their daughter, Harper, needs to stay alive.
[20:58:05] COOPER: The end of the shutdown are getting paid at least for the next three weeks is great news for many families who were struggling, among them, a couple in Kentucky who Randi Kaye introduced as to last night. Chris Rachford works as a data processing assistant for the IRS, Allie McKinney quit her job as a social worker to care for their 15-month-old Harper who was born prematurely. Harper needs a breathing tube to live and her parents were worried as they run out of money during the shutdown that their electricity would be turned off. Well since we hear Randi story last night, there's been an outpouring of love and support for the family. They have a GoFundMe page and they were really floored, they say, by the donations that came in, including a thousand dollars from somebody who is a total stranger.
The couple tells us they were very touched by the comments that they got from people who donated, including this one, and I'm quoting. "Hello. Saw your story at CNN. I, being a father of a preemie baby who didn't make it, when I saw your child it reminded me of my child. I can understand the fears as a parent and love you have for your child. God bless you and your family. Don't lose faith in this difficult time. Hopefully, this amount helps."
We send our thoughts to Harper and her parents tonight and to all of the families who have been so affected by this shutdown. And we hope that there are better days ahead.
A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle." It's our daily interaction newscast on Facebook. You get to vote on some of the stories that we cover. It's on every night at 6:25 p.m. Eastern every weekday night at facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle.
That's it for us. I hope you have a great weekend. The news continues, though. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time". The central crime that launched the Russia investigation is now being directly linked to the Trump campaign. That link is Roger Stone, a man Trump has known longer and better than anyone involved in his campaign.
Robert Mueller believes he has tied him to those DNC e-mails stolen by the Russians and dumped by WikiLeaks. And they do seem in this indictment they have a ton of evidence that there may have been materialized told to Congress by Stone. Stone says they've got nothing and he is here to tell you that directly.