Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Virginia Governor Apologizes for Racist Photo on 1984 Medical School Yearbook Page; Interview with Congressman Michael Waltz of Florida; President Trump Hints At Border Wall Action Around State Of The Union; Washington Post: McConnell Privately Caution Trump About Emergency Declaration On Border Wall; Booker Joins Crowded Diverse Democratic Contest For W.H.; Sherrod Brown: Howard Schultz Is An "Idiot"; Judge Bars Roger Stone From Contacting Potential Witnesses As She Weighs Gag Order. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 1, 2019 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with breaking news. The governor of the commonwealth of Virginia confirming tonight that he is in a photograph that by his own admission -- and we should warn you -- by any stretch of the imagination, is deeply offensive.

[20:00:09] Here it is. A Klansman and man in black face. Democrat Ralph Northam says he is one of them. He didn't say which one.

Either way, it's not good. It's a yearbook photo, not of high school, not of college. It's a medical school yearbook photo. So, Governor Northam is not exactly a kid when he posed for it.

There's a lot to talk about tonight, starting with the facts as we know them, and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

So, let's talk about this picture and what is the governor now admitting about it?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's extraordinary development. You have the governor here four hours after these racist photos emerging faced with this ugly reality of what he did for all the public to see. Tonight, he's confirming and trying to explain and apologize. I want to issue -- this was a statement just part of it that he issued.

A website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. I recognize it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I'm ready to do that important work.

COOPER: So, who else I mean is speaking out on this?

MALVEAUX: We have gotten reaction from many different corners here. I mean, it's been fast and furious all night, especially this last hour. This photo was first reported by Big League Politics. It's a conservative news outlet, earlier this afternoon. It was followed up by the Virginia GOP Caucus the calling for his resignation.

Over the last hour, we have heard from powerful allies of Northam calling for his resignation. So, you've got the NAACP. They are tweeting: Black face in any manner is always racist. Never OK no matter the party affiliation. We cannot stand for this behavior.

The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America who have been vocal in their support of the Virginia Democrats earlier this week during the abortion controversy, now calling on the Virginia governor to step down. You have several Democratic primary can understands.

This from Senator Kamala Harris saying: Leaders are called to a higher standards and the stain of racism should have no place in government. She's also urging him to step aside so the public can heal and mover forward.

The big question, of course, Anderson, is whether or not he is going to heed these calls as the chorus grows louder over the next 24 hours. There's a group of Virginia black legislatures that are calling it disgusting but not yet calling for his resignation. They say they are still processing this. They just released a statement.

And so, we'll see if he survives and whether or not he actually decides he's going to stay and try to make amends.

COOPER: I mean, it just bears repeating. This is not a high school yearbook from 1965 or 1971. This is a medical school yearbook from, what, 1984. I mean --

MALVEAUX: 1984 and he was also 25 years old. So, he was clearly an adult, fully forming his opinions. He was a serious student. To see something like this is extraordinary. You do see the caption underneath there as well talking about beer and drinking and drunk doctors and all that kind of thing.

But I think a lot of people stun that this is a part of his portfolio. They don't know what to make how much this is part of him as a person. But people want explanation. And many people at this point calling for his resignation.

COOPER: It's also interesting in his public statement and his apology, he didn't specify whether he's the person dressed up as a Klansman or whether he's the person in black face.

MALVEAUX: And a lot of people are asking why. They are both horrible. Both of them are just horrible and why he wouldn't full take responsibility for whatever he decided he was going to do, if he was the Klansman or the guy in the black face. But certainly, the kinds of statements, the kinds of reaction that we're getting this evening is that neither one of them is acceptable behavior for someone in this kind of position to keep their position in office tonight.

COOPER: Yes, I just thought it was interesting. If you're going to make a public apology, you sort of want to get it all out there. He sort of left it open. And again, that sort of continues and perpetuates the questions about it. It just leaves more questions and answers. That's never a good sign.

Suzanne Malveaux, we'll continue to follow this. Thank you.

We just got another reaction from a commonwealth Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw. And I'm quoting: His whole life, he tells "The Washington Post" has been about exactly the opposite. That's what you need to examine. Not something that occurred 30 years ago.

He went to say: While it's in very poor taste, I would think no one in the general assembly who would like their college conduct examined.

[20:05:04] I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the army. Trust me, I was 18 years old and I was a handful, OK? His life since then has been anything but. It's been life of helping people and many times for free.

Joining us now with another view is Virginia State Republican Party Chairman Jack Wilson.

It's interesting, Mr. Wilson, that statement from another Democrat in the state is talking about his own behavior in the army when he was 18 years old. The governor here was in 25 years old and was in medical school.

JACK WILSON, VIRGINIA GOP CHAIRMAN: I think what you see is the hypocrisy. If you harken back to Judge Kavanaugh and now Justice Kavanaugh, they were going back to his high school yearbook and condemning things that he even denied in his yearbook.

So, for the Democrats to suggest a 25-year-old medical student can dress in black face or KKK garb and get away with that is just unacceptable in Virginia these days.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's odd that the man who made the statement said it's in poor taste. It's beyond poor taste.

Now that the governor has admitted to at least be one of the people in the photo, do you think he has any choice but to resign?

WILSON: No, again, when the first -- photos first came out, issued statement that said if he's in the statement or in the photograph, either in black face or KKK garb, he needs to resign. He's now admitted that he's one of the two. And agree, it doesn't matter which one he is. Both are in absolutely disgraceful and he needs to resign immediately.

COOPER: The governor is saying he's ready to put many the effort of doing the important work of healing the damage that he's caused. You don't believe he should be given that chance. Because some of his supporters will say his record as a politician speaks well for him on racial issues but, again, many are saying that's just not enough.

WILSON: Well, it's not enough. It's not acceptable. And, clearly, we cannot establish a double standard. If this were a Republican governor, the calls for his resignation would be fast and furious. It's acceptable for any elected official in Virginia to have this type of history and especially in a medical school yearbook.

There is no -- given the -- especially given the statements that he made earlier this week regarding third trimester abortions and that whole issue. He's just lost the moral ability to lead the commonwealth. So, he should resign for the good of commonwealth.

COOPER: Are you surprised this has nod come out sooner? I mean, he's been through tough campaigns. This is a medical yearbook that the entire medical class and others and their descendents had an opportunity to look at over the last -- you know, since 1985.

WILSON: I was. When this first came out I wondered why this had not been surfaced earlier. Perhaps again it's after the Judge Kavanaugh, Justice Kavanaugh hearings that people are starting to look at yearbooks. Whether it should have come out before, again, it's sort of interesting. When Governor Northam was running, he tried to paint his opponent in racist terms stemming from the events that occurred in Charlottesville. Now, it looks like it's very hypocritical of the governor.

So, for him to run a race bait campaign against his opponent and his these pictures surface, he's lost any moral ground and needs to go.

COOPER: To the extent that you can get in to the heads of Virginia's, you know, Democrats, you'd imagine in the shoe was on the other foot that if this was a Republican who appeared in a photo like this, a supporter of the presidents, I mean, Democrats would be outraged to say the least and Democrats in Congress would be sending tweets immediately.

WILSON: Sure. I think we had a Republican secretary of state in Florida within the last two weeks resign over something similar. So, there clearly can't be a double standard.

Racism, especially in Virginia, with our past and history is unacceptable. And, again, we're not going gook a high school yearbook. This is a medical school yearbook. This was a man who was 25 years old. Not some 17-year-old in a high school yearbook.

So, clearly in the environment in the mid-'80s, doing that was unacceptable.

COOPER: Yes.

WILSON: So, the fact it surfaced for now is unfortunate for the governor. Perhaps he shouldn't have been elected governor because of this.

COOPER: Jack Wilson, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

WILSON: Sure.

COOPER; Joining us now is former Democratic South Carolina state legislator, Bakari Sellers, former Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, also Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist and CNN political analyst. Bakari, what do you make of the Democratic leader and the state senate

essentially defending the governor.

[20:10:02] Do you think the governor should resign?

BAKARI SELLERS (D), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE MEMBER: No question. I mean, I think unequivocally, Democrats have to stand up and call for his resignation. I mean, damn, Anderson, it's exasperating. It's exhausting.

Can people just simply not be racist? I mean, he's a 25-year-old man in black face or in a KKK outfit. I mean, neither one of those are acceptable. You know, the KKK, all they did was terrorize, lynch, brutalize many African-Americans throughout the South. You don't get a pass for that.

And just a few months ago, I was sitting on probably with Ken Cuccinelli talking about Kavanaugh and his yearbooks and the things that he did then that were unacceptable. We were talking about the Covington Catholic kids and their behavior being appalling and unacceptable and the way they interacted with the Native American at the Lincoln Memorial.

And so, for Democrats, for any Democrat who is saying out of one side of their mouth he was a child, I mean, I am tired of that. You know, it's tough because simply -- I mean, we have no place in this country for racism and bigotry and xenophobia and all those things that it represents. And, you know, for someone who is a grown man to display that, I mean, yes, you can be sorry, you can apologize, you can live your life and make sure that people understand your point of view from henceforth forward.

However, you cannot be the leader of a state like Virginia with its past history with those issues in your past. I mean, we can make light of the fact that the oppo research people from the Gillespie campaign and the Perriello campaign need to never have a job again, but the fact this lapse in judgment is exhausting. I mean, we have racial issues. I can't criticize the president of the United States for being a racist if I can't criticize Governor Northam for dressing up in KKK garb when he was 25 years old.

COOPER: Ken, I mean, do you think the governor's resignation is inevitable? And you would know better than anyone, if he refuses to resign, how easily could he be removed from office?

KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's not easy to remove someone from office anymore at the state level than at the federal. You'd have to have the speaker and the president pro temp and the Senate both express his inability to perform his job. I don't think he's at that point.

The real question is, can he do anything in the role of governor any longer? I mean, this is extraordinary. Mind you, this comes during the same week in which he went on Washington radio and more or less said that he was OK with letting a child born alive die on the table. Mind you this is a pediatrician. Governor Northam has treated children as a doctor.

And he was defending a bill that most Americans would find extreme that would allow abortion up to the moment of birth when he made those remarks. That has been explosive in Virginia this week. And then this happened, right on top of it.

And for those of you outside of Virginia, the next four days are the most intense four days in the entire calendar year for the general assembly and the governor. They are approaching crossover on Tuesday when all the bills have to be out of House or Senate. Virginia has the shortest session in the country and it's over later this month.

The governor is normally deeply enmeshed in that as well as the budget over the next four days. And now, he is contending with this and through only his own fault, I would also note for your listeners, the lieutenant governor is also a Democrat. He happens to be African- American, Justin Fairfax. S, if the governor does resign, there is no lost to the Democrats of the position.

And, in fact, because Virginia is the only state where a governor cannot run for re-election, Ralph Northam will never have to stand for election again, and Justin Fairfax actually could run in 2021 for governor having not been previously elected as governor, which would amount to re-electing him. So, there are --

COOPER: That's interesting.

CUCCINELLI: There's serious political questions for the Democrats here.

COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, if Justice Kavanaugh yearbook was fair game for Democrats, how can they defend Northam?

KRISTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, I would like to clarify that. The problem with Justice Kavanaugh wasn't his yearbook. The problem was that he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

The yearbook came into play when he started presenting himself as somebody who was sort of this choir boy and people started looking at the yearbook and saying, like, is that really true. I don't see that in your yearbook. I just want to clarify that we're having major revisionist history on part of the Republicans.

So, I think that this issue is about something that's incredibly abhorrent. I mean, looking at that picture, there's really this time frame where that was ever OK.

[20:15:03] And it obviously wasn't OK in the 1980s.

For me, I think, you want people to change. The whole point of us having these conversations of raising consciousness about race is that you want people to change. And if he legitimately changed, if he legitimately had some conversion point after this and he could point to that and say I'm so ashamed and I could not believe I did this and this was a long time ago and that's better than being 18 but it's still relatively young. And I met this person and I learned and I have gone out of my way to repent for this and to become a different person, I would be interested in that story.

I did not hear that from him. The way that he has responded does seem like that. And so, unless he can show that and show the receipts for what he did to change, then, yes, he needs to step down.

COOPER: It's also interesting, Bakari, because he obviously knew this was out there. He's aware of what he'd one. He knew plenty of people had this yearbook. This must be something that's entered his mind from time to time.

You would think he would have thought through how to either bring this up himself and thrown himself on the mercy of voters or have a better or some sort of explanation, to Kirsten's point, when this did emerge.

SELLERS: I wholeheartedly agree with Kirsten. But let's think about this. This was 1984, if I'm not mistaken, he was 25 years old. And, you know, you're talking about the height of when Jesse Jackson is running for the president of the United States. I'm not understanding how this is acceptable to anyone or any person with good common sense.

You have a 25-year-old man who made this decision. And that is not one that we can stand by especially as governor. Yes, I will echo the same thing that the NAACP said earlier that he has to resign. So, yes, Justin Fairfax can be governor. We can continue this process of healing. And one of the things that Governor Northam can do is be a part of the discussions we try to have on a regular basis, healthy discussions about race in this country.

And, you know, his response is I'm just going to issue this response. Give a speech on race. Probably trot out my black pastor and after all of that goes through, then I'll be able to continue to lead this commonwealth of Virginia.

That's just not the case anymore. People are exhausted and people are tired of this. I think Democrats have to say if we're going to hold Republicans accountable for the cancer in their party, the Steve Kings that are in the party, the Donald Trumps in their party, then this is not acceptable either.

COOPER: I mean, Ken, Northam Ed Gillespie, the former RNC chairman, how could Gillespie's campaign not have found this?

CUCCINELLI: Well, I think it may be that people don't think of yearbooks as fair game, although I don't think many political consultants who think in terms of fair game. So, I'm not quite sure on that one.

COOPER: I didn't know medical schools had yearbooks.

BAKARI: Can I comment real quick, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, sure.

BAKARI: One of the things that sticks out is you have someone in the mid-1980s who took a picture in a KKK garb in the medical school --

CUCCINELLI: While Doug Wilder was running for lieutenant governor. While Doug Wilder was running for lieutenant governor.

BAKARI: The medical school thought it wise to still publish that. I don't understand how people look at this and say, oh, my god. When people -- if you take a step back and people talk about systemic racism, I don't want to going in the weeds and everything else, when you have a medical school that allows a picture like this to be published in their yearbook and no one sees anything wrong with that in the '80s, when I say we're not that far removed from our past which is strangling us and troublesome, which is called racism, then you cannot disagree with that point.

COOPER: Bakari Sellers, Ken Cuccinelli, Kirsten Powers, appreciate it. Thank you.

We're going to have more on this throughout the next two hours.

Coming up next, the emergency that President Trump is threatening to prepare if he doesn't get money to build his wall, and his claim that the wall is already being built. We're keeping him honest on that.

Later, another big name enters the 2020 presidential race. We'll look at and see how Senator Cory Booker intends to distinguish himself from a field of Democrats that seems to be growing by the day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:23:44] COOPER: President Trump hinted he could declare a state of emergency at Tuesday's State of the Union Address, which wouldn't be an emergency to build a wall which might not be a wall which he now says is already being built.

Does that make sense? That's right. You heard right. After two years in office and a 35-day government shutdown, the president said he might declare an emergency to make something happen that he says is already happening.

The president today said that construction on the wall with barrier, fence, whatever you want to call it, but he's now back to calling it a wall, he says it's already under way. It's already going up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're building the wall now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're building wall now.

Now, as you might imagine, his claim took people in the room by surprise. So, he elaborated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're building the wall. People don't understand that. They're starting to learn. We're spending a lot of money that we have on hand, like in a business. When we have money on hand and we're building, I would say we'll have 115 miles of wall, maybe a little bit more than that, very shortly. It's being built. Some of it's already been completed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Not only completed he says, but prettier too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We've designed a much better looking wall that is actually a better wall which is an interesting combination. It's far more beautiful and it's better.

[20:25:02] It's much more protective. It looks better. The walls they used to build were not very attractive. I actually think that's possibly part of the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, I mean, just keeping him honest, none of that is true. That whole thing he just said. Last year in March, Congress appropriated $1.6 billion for border security which has been used so far to rebuild existing barrier fencing which as you know the president once had nothing but scorn for.

I'm quoting now from a campaign tweet. Jeb Bush talked about my border proposal to build a fence. It's not a fence, Jeb. It's a wall and there's a big difference.

More recently, though, he changed his mind saying you can call the wall anything you want, even peaches, he said. But then more recently still, just yesterday, he changed his mind yet again, tweeting, let's call them walls and not staying political games. A wall's a wall.

OK. Walls. Last year in San Diego, the president did look at these prototypes for different kinds of walls. Now, keeping them honest, nothing that looks anything like this is under construction, let alone finished. No new miles of walls, period.

Only bollard fencing and none is better or prettier in any way or different as the president suggests from what came before because the bill that he signed last year specifically says it can't be. I'm quoting now. There's the legislation.

Quote: The amount designated in subsection A2 through A4 shall only be available as the date of the consolidated Appropriations Act 2017 Public Law 115-31, such as currently deployed steel bollard designs.

In other words, not new and not better looking, whatever that means. What's more, the false claims he made today, they aren't even new. He's been making them at rallies as well as official appearances now for nearly a year. Two months ago, he said he just awarded a contract for 115 miles of wall. He hadn't.

Today, he said he was using cash on hand to fund the wall. Broadly speaking, only Congress can appropriate money and authorize spending. What the president seems to be doing now is re-imagining stuff that isn't really what he wanted as something that he's actually wanted all along -- which is fine if you say you wanted a pony for Christmas but you got a hobby horse instead. Make believe is fine in you're a kid or a real estate developer in New York with no shame. But it's different or at least it should be when you're a president, when you're threatening to take emergency measures to get what you want and when you're twisting the facts to make that case.

More now on the whole range of issues surrounding the border and the showdown over it. I spoke earlier this evening with Congressman Michael Waltz, a Republican of Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Congressman Waltz, President Trump is saying he should change the chant from build the wall to finish wall. He -- how can you finish wall that hasn't been started yet?

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R), FLORIDA: Yes, look, at the same time he's also said a lot, including a speech from the White House last week about wall barriers, steel slats, fence, call it what you want it but we need to secure the border and a physical barrier is part of that. That has been started.

Members on both sides of the aisle have voted, including the Secure Fences Act in 2006, for barrier as part of overall border security for years. So, finish it, complete it. My position is, let's let the current committee that is negotiating that finish its work, come to a compromise, keep the government open and let's move onto a lot of other business that the country needs.

COOPER: But I mean, the president portraying it as finishing it, I mean, basically he's trying to pretend that his wall, the wall that he campaigned on, the one he said Mexico would pay for has already started to be built when it's just updating the fencing that as you said has existed, has been voted on in the past. There is no new wall of the president's that's begun.

WALTZ: Well, but I think he's also making the point that barriers that secure our borders are also not immoral. And so, when Speaker Pelosi says that I'm not going to give you a dollar now and I'm not going to give you a dollar ever, particularly when she has said I'm not going to negotiate until the government's open, now the president has re-opened the government and saying we're still not going to negotiate, I think he's making that point as well.

COOPER: But you acknowledge when the president says, finish the wall, he has not started no Trump wall has begun? There's only been updates, regular updates --

WALTZ: I think what I'm trying to say, we can spend the rest of the hour going around and around about the definition of wall. I think this has been kind of frankly a silly rhetorical exercise. You know, fence, slats, barriers, whatever, you know, we have started it.

[20:30:04]

We've voted for it repeatedly in the past. And now, let's finish it and complete it, secure the border and move on to important reforms.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think the President should declare a national emergency, because clearly that seems to be what the President is hinting that he might declare one.

WALTZ: Yes.

COOPER: And if it is a national emergency, why wait to declare one? Why not do it now?

WALTZ: Well, I think that we need to let these negotiations continue and I hope we do. Like I said, compromise can't be a dirty word. We have both sides sitting down to work this out and that's what I hope continues. That's what I want to see continue and what I want to see -- I want to see them come to an agreement before February 15th.

COOPER: So just for a compromise, in terms of compromise you would support. If Democrats said, "OK, look, there will be more bollard fencing, there'll be another 10 miles in this area because it's a strategic area, we think this will help. There'll be some steel slats over here, but we're not going call it a wall." Is that, to you, is that fine as long as there's other things as well for border security, manpower, you know --

WALTZ: Yes. I think that's completely reasonable. That's in line with what we've done in the past.

COOPER: Congressman Waltz, appreciate your time. Thank you.

WALTZ: All right, thanks Anderson.

COOPER: All right, so there's new reporting tonight at "The Washington Post." Two Republicans telling the paper that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the President this week not to declare an emergency.

Leader McConnell telling the President that if he did, Congress might end up passing a resolution disapproving it which is forcing the President to contemplate for the first time vetoing legislation in the face of opposition from his own party.

More now on where this leaves the President and the country. Joining us is "Axe Files" host and former Senior Obama Adviser David Axelrod, also CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, who is, of course, been in the west-wing trenches for Democratic and Republican presidents going all the way back to Richard Nixon.

So, David Gergen, do you have any faith that the President will actually listen to Mitch McConnell on this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Not much. And I don't think Mitch McConnell has much faith either but he's trying to do the best he can to prevent another disaster, political disaster for the President and for the Republican Party. It's a party that's increasingly in danger here, you know.

And back in September, Gallup had a favorability of Republican Party at 45 percent, Democrats 45 percent. Now, Democrats are still at 45 but the Republicans are down to 38, 37, you know. So it's a -- they are feeling the heat in Mitch McConnell's party.

I think the President is simply confusing the issue and he's painting himself surprisingly. He just painted himself into a corner with Nancy Pelosi, you know, a few weeks ago and now he's painting himself into a new corner.

You know, he's either going to -- he's going to do this national emergency or he's going to get a wall. And he's not going to get -- I don't think either one is palatable to his fellow Republicans.

COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean, could it be a turning point in terms of Republican support for the wall if the President does declare national emergency to build the wall.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK. The President is in jam and the Republicans are in a jam. You know, just off of what David said, I don't know that the President is really much worried about the status of the Republican Party.

The President is worried about his own re-election and he's being told by his allies on the right that if he doesn't do something dramatic to promote the wall that he will face a rebellion within his own party. And that's what he's worried about.

And so I think that the declaration of a national emergency, he knows. I'm sure he's been told this will immediately go to the courts. It will be held up in the courts and very likely thrown out by the courts as unconstitutional. But at least he'll have look like he was defiant in defense of the wall. And I think that's what he's been told.

There are a lot of Republicans who think that this would be an abuse of executive authority and are very much opposed to it. But I think he's looking for way out of this that doesn't make him look weak.

COOPER: Well, David Gergen, I mean it seems like one avenue that he is pursuing as a way out of this doesn't make him look weak. It's just to pretend that there is a wall that is now being built and that 115 miles of it are planned and that they're using money that they have and that this is well under way and now it's just got to be finished.

GERGEN: Yes, I think David Axelrod is right that he doesn't want to look weak but instead he's looking ridiculous, you know, and that's what is bothering so many Americans about what kind of -- you know, the thought process is so confusing. The line of argument is so confusing. Nobody can make head or tail of what he really wants and that's really deeply distressing for Republicans.

I must say, Anderson, one more thing and David might comment on this. This is where the failure to have a strong, credible press secretary and be surrounded by a couple people who can go on air and straighten these things out becomes a real weakness for him.

You know, the normal White House would have at least one person who can go in front of a microphone and walk the press through this, walk the country, and the President doesn't have to get himself involved in every little detail.

[20:35:08] COOPER: Well, David Axelrod to that point, I mean, I remember Mulvaney, before he was the acting chief of staff, he went out and showed pictures of what he said were, you know, new wall being built. You know, when we sent our Gary Tuchman over there and that was just, you know, rehabbing existing fencing. So, and he did have somebody go out, but the person he sent out wasn't telling the truth either.

AXELROD: Yes. No, I think that's the problem and it's a problem David with your suggestion. I think what -- in the White Houses that you and I have worked in, that is exactly what would happen and it's the right thing to happen. But everybody who speaks --

COOPER: I think we had a problem with David Axelrod's mike. David Gergen, I mean, if the President does declare national emergency during the State of the Union, it would certainly be a departure from the normal kind of pretty standard for dull State of the Unions we're used to, I guess.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. But what he's clearly trying to do now is to tease us and build an audience for what could otherwise be a speech that he had, you know, because he hasn't been very successful at primetime speeches. The last one he gave at the Oval Office about the wall was a dud.

And so I think this is important speech for him and -- but I do think if he goes with a national emergency while this -- while his people who are bipartisan group is still trying to figure out if there's a way out and if he just over rides them and says, "We're do this national emergency," I think it's going to cause real problem for him with his own party.

What McConnell is telling him is it's not just that you'll get a resolution out of Senate that disapproves this, but you're going to have a lot of Republican who are going to vote for that disapproval and it really split your party.

COOPER: Yes. David Gergen, thanks so much, David Axelrod, as well. Apologize for the (INAUDIBLE) problem with David Axelrod.

Coming up, the President Trump's -- the competition for 2020 just grew by one. The long list of Democrats battling for the White House is already making history. Will voters like any of their messages? We'll look at that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:38] COOPER: When Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for President in 2016, he beat out 16 challengers. That's one of the few ways in which the Democratic field for 2020 is suddenly looking similar.

Tonight, seven people are now officially seeking the Democratic nomination. Three more have launched exploratory committees and about 14 others are still thinking about it.

Our Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny tonight joins me with the newest face in the campaign trail, Senator Cory Booker.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Together, America, we will rise.

I'm Cory Booker and I'm running for President of the United States.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With those words, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker making his presidential ambitions official as the field of Democratic contenders just keeps going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is raining candidates here on the view.

ZELENY: On the first day of black history month, Booker joining an already crowded primary, making clear his biography will be at the forefront of his campaign.

BOOKER: It's really what my mom challenged me to do as a kid. She just said, "Look, you have a debt to pay back and you can't really pay it back, you got to pay it forward."

ZELENY: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also running, welcomed Booker to the race saying, "I'll be cheering you on just, you know, not too hard." It's shaping up to be the most diverse and among the largest selected (ph) candidates in Democratic Party history. Booker becomes the fourth senator in the race and the second black candidate. Five women could be on the ballot and at least a dozen more are eyeing a run.

For the last two years, they've been unified in their opposition to President Trump. But the divisions among Democrats over policy and personality are bubbling just below the surface. The President also making clear that he's carefully following the opposition telling "The New York Times" he believes Senator Kamala Harris has had the best start with a better crowd and better enthusiasm.

The Democratic field also has ideological diversity with candidates already taking sides on defining issues like Medicare for all, immigration, and trade. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on a three-day visit to Iowa also exploring a presidential bid. He is urging Democrats to consider geographic diversity.

(on camera) Do you think your party needs a candidate from the middle of the country to defeat Donald Trump?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I think that our party needs to nominate somebody that can win the industrial Midwest, the heart land, the Great Lake states, the plains states from Pennsylvania to Iowa. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Jeff joins me now. Brown was asked about another 2020 hopeful. He didn't have the kindest of words. What happened?

ZELENY: Anderson, he didn't have. Of course, one person who's been sort of weighing heavy over all of this race is Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks. And he, of course, has been getting a lot of attention but in Perry, Iowa earlier today, a small town about an hour or so from here, a voter was talking about Howard Schultz. Listen to how Senator Brown answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so worried about PAC money, dark money --

BROWN: You got this idiot Schultz running, maybe. He's an idiot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So an idiot or not, I don't know if you could hear that there, Anderson, he was calling him an idiot, clearly is a sense of frustration among Democrats that they believe that Mr. Schultz could sort of be a spoiler here.

But the reality is Sherrod Brown is, you know, considering this race, not fully in yet. What's so interesting here as Cory Booker was jumping in earlier today, there is a sense on the ground that should there be candidate from the middle of the country, Sherrod Brown certainly making the case for that here today, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much. David Axelrod is back with us as well as Bakari Sellers.

David, you see Senator Booker trying to stake out kind of the high road, a lofty tone right out of the gate, not unlike, I guess, then Senator Obama did more that a decade ago. The climate obviously is different now. Does it require a different type of approach by a candidate?

AXELROD: You know, it's a very good question. The question is do people want a more confrontational figure or do they want someone who can knit the country back together? And there's a pretty good argument that in the face of the kind of acrimony and negativity that we've seen from the President that people will be hungry for that and that is what Booker is betting on.

COOPER: Bakari, I mean, what do you make of the fact that both Senator Booker and also Senator Harris are already talking about race, addressing the topic very directly in way that candidate Obama did not?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the times have changed. And one of the things and one of the, I guess, upsides to a Donald Trump presidency is that we're having these discussions about race up front, out front, daily because it's at the forefront of all of our conversations.

[20:45:11] And so when you have candidates -- I mean, at the beginning of this process we had four individuals, African-American candidate, who were thinking about running for President of the United States. You have Governor Deval Patrick, General Eric Holder, and you had both Senators Booker and Harris.

And so we have a bevy or wolf (ph) of riches to say the least and you have a vast fill. You have five, one of them running for office, you have people from all parts of country. And all of these candidates are going to have to deal with those issues of race, not just the black candidates.

Criminal justice reform, for example, economic inequality, those aren't black issues. Those are issues that are American issues and all the candidates running for office are going to have to address those.

COOPER: David, though, is it clear to you that any of these candidates at this stage know how to beat Donald Trump or know how to really run against Donald Trump? Because obviously there were, you know, more than a dozen, you know, talented Republicans last time around who thought they knew how to run against him and all of them were crushed.

AXELROD: Yes. You know, well, first of all, let me just say parenthetically before I answer the question. What we've seen in the last few days is what people are going to -- this is going to be a very unusual race because you're going to have a President of the United States who's going to give running commentary on the Democratic campaign and inject himself into the Democratic campaign. So that's an element that people are going to have to deal with.

But, look, I think that the country itself has experienced Donald Trump. His numbers aren't very good. And I think Democrats are wise at this point to define their own messages and define their vision for the country and talk about what the country after Donald Trump should look like and how they're going to tackle those problems that are impacting people's lives.

So, you know, I don't know that I'd worry too much about it. The Howard Schultz issue is another issue and that could lower the thresholds and make Trump competitive. But I will say this about what Senator Brown said, Howard Schultz got people to buy a cup of coffee for $5, so who is the idiot really, you know.

COOPER: David -- I mean, Bakari, do you think that Howard Schultz, if he ran would threaten Democrats essentially?

SELLERS: Yes. I mean, I don't understand this Schultz mania. I don't understand why he thinks he could be President of the United States. I don't think -- I don't understand why he is running as a independent. I guess everybody thinks he could be President of the United States with Donald Trump winning. I'm not sure why he thinks he can do that as an independent. And I think that as he's going through this process and the scrutiny that he's receiving, I don't see him actually following through with that. But I will say that the unique part about this, and David may agree with me on this, is Democrats are somewhat fickle and funny. Just in 2016 we were concerned about a coronation of Hillary Clinton and now you hear some concerns about too many candidates running for office.

And so, we have to find some middle ground. And like the test for Democratic is all of these individuals running for office were then going to have to kind of repair, rebuild, come together to beat maybe Howard Schultz and Donald Trump. Hopefully it's just Donald Trump and not both.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Bakari Sellers, thanks a lot.

Roger Stone back in court again today. This time appearing before the judge who's going to oversee his case. And I got to tell you, she gave him an earful about his week long media blitz and a big warning. We'll talk about that and show you ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:52:02] COOPER: A week ago today, Roger Stone was awoken by the FBI to some very bad news. He'd been indicted by Robert Mueller. Now, the President's long-time adviser has been reveling in the limelight ever since lashing Nixon victory signs going out a media blitz like he didn't have a care in the world.

Today, a judge warned him he may want to stop talking and if he doesn't, she might make him. At hearing in the Washington today, the judge cautioned Stone against treating the build up to the trial, "like a book tour" and reminded him he shouldn't argue his case on the talk show circuit.

She said this is a criminal proceeding and not a PR campaign and threatened to impose a gag order. Will Stone hear the warnings? Apparently not yet, he just appeared on another cable news show moments ago. And CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me tonight.

Are there any two words in the English language that Roger Stone fears more than gag order?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Maybe total obscurity. But -- no, I mean --

COOPER: But maybe gag order at least.

TOOBIN: Well, that's what he would be worried about. But this is a serious thing, because Judge Jackson is the same judge who revoked Paul Manafort's bail and locked him up because he contacted witnesses.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: This is the thing he told him -- she told him not to do so his lawyers really have to read him the Riot Act.

COOPER: I mean, but Stone -- I mean, is Stone savvy enough to not do what Manafort did?

TOOBIN: I think he probably is. You know, Roger Stone is many things. He's not dumb. And he knows that this is the rule. Now, she is considering a total gag order which would not allow him to do his show on info wars, not allowed him to do interviews with people like me and like you, that would be really difficult for him. But she's obviously on the fence about that.

And, you know, she made the point, which I think is a legitimate one is that he has the right to defend himself in the court of public opinion. So a gag order on him would be a real hardship, but to contact the witnesses business, he really has to abide.

COOPER: I want to ask you about something that the President told "The New York Times" in an interview. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Has Rod Rosenstein given you any sense over the course of the last year about whether you have any exposure, either in -- or there's any concerns, or whether you're a target of the Mueller report?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he told -- he told the attorneys that I'm not a subject, I'm not target.

HABERMAN: He told your attorney?

TRUMP: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

HABERMAN: Did he say anything about the SDNY investigation, too?

TRUMP: About which?

HABERMAN: The SDNY investigation, because there's two. There's Mueller, and then there's the Cohen investigation.

TRUMP: I don't know -- I don't know about that. That I don't know about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So he was very definitive about the Muller probe, not so much about the SDNY probe.

TOOBIN: Well, what makes it peculiar is that, you know, the Justice Department policy is that he can't be indicted at all.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: So target, subject, witness, those categories don't really mean anything for him since he can't be indicted. He's obviously a subject in any realistic sense of the term there. But since he's not going to be indicted, those categories I think have less significance than they would, otherwise.

COOPER: And so it doesn't mean, though, he couldn't be referred to the House for impeachment.

[20:55:02] TOOBIN: Well, absolutely. I mean, that is a completely separate category, completely a political process which is not up to the Justice Department at all, it's up to the House of Representatives.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thanks.

TOOBIN: OK.

COOPER: Well, in the next hour of "360," Virginia's governor apologizes for a horribly racist photo of him in his medical school yearbook. Now, they calls for him to resign. The latest on the scandal surrounding Governor Ralph Northam is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Chris is Cuomo is off tonight. Welcome to special edition of "360". We'd begin the hour with the yearbook photo, an offensive racist yearbook photo. And new word just moments ago from the politician who's in it and we should say this is not a photo from the priest of a right south, and not from high school either, it's a medical school yearbook photo from 1984 and one of the man in it, either the clans men or the guy in black face is right now the Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam.

He admits he is one of the two. He oddly did not say which one he is in the wave of condemnation he's been building by the hour. A few minutes ago, Governor Northam posted this video of Twitter.