Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Unclear If President Trump Will Sign Border Funds Deal Says He's Wary Of "Land Mines" In Legislation; High School Shooting Survivor Turned Into Activists, Inspired New Gun Safety Laws; Sources: Brother Of Jeff Bezos' Mistress Tipped Off National Enquirer To Affair; Judge Rules Manafort "Intentionally" Lied to the FBI, Special Counsel and Grand Jury; Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; CNN Exclusive: Barr Consulting on How to Handle Mueller Report. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired February 13, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news. A federal judge late today ruling that Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, lied to the FBI, lied to a grand jury, lied to Robert Mueller's investigators, lied intentionally on multiple occasions, lied about contact with Russians and he's supposed to be a cooperating witness.
As you might imagine, as we so often find ourselves saying, this is a big development.
And CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with the latest.
Just walk us through exactly what was and not -- what was and what was not in this ruling.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, prosecutors from the special counsel's office had initially accused Paul Manafort of lying on five different occasions, five different topics during the time that he was supposed to be cooperating. If you remember, he had pleaded guilty and he had agreed to cooperate as part of this investigation. And so, he had met with prosecutors over many, many hours of what they call proffer sessions. And during that time, he was lying according to the prosecutors.
According to the judge and her ruling today that she said that there was enough evidence to show that he lied in at least three of those occasions, one of them had to do with a payment that he that he had received to help pay for some of his legal bills and two of them had to do with Konstantin Kilimnik is the name we've heard a lot obviously over the course of this investigation, somebody who is going to figure I think very importantly in this investigation.
COOPER: There's also been a lot of reporting lately on this dinner meeting in New York with Manafort and Kilimnik. What's the significance of what may have happened at the meeting and how does it relate to this? PEREZ: Right, exactly, and this is actually one of the key lies according to prosecutors and according to the judge now. The judge says that he was lying about some of his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, and the question was why exactly? We still don't know the answer to that question. Prosecutors during a closed-door hearing said that something occurred during that meeting that that really is important goes to the heart of this investigation.
And one of those meetings was in August of 2016 at the Havana Club, a cigar bar in New York, and according to prosecutors, this is where there was an exchange of information, perhaps this is where Manafort provided this polling data, this internal Trump polling data that they say figures largely in this investigation.
Now, it's important to note that Manafort's attorneys say he didn't actually lie, that he misremembered certain facts. They also say they also hinted in the court hearing that Kilimnik is not exactly what the prosecutors are making him out to be that, you know, obviously, prosecutors say that he was essentially a spy for the Russians. Manafort's attorneys suggest that he was meeting with diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Kiev, so that perhaps he might have been a double agent.
So, again there's more information that we are yet to see perhaps on February 22nd when the two sides are going to be filing sentencing memos, Anderson. Put that on your calendar. February 22nd is going to be an important date because we're going to hear a lot more about the importance of Konstantin Kilimnik and why he is so important to this investigation.
COOPER: All right. Evan Perez, appreciate it.
Joining us now is Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's on the Judiciary Committee and co-sponsor bipartisan legislation to require Robert Mueller to provide his report in full to Congress and the public.
Senator Blumenthal, the fact that Manafort would turn around and intentionally lie to the special counsel according to this judge after he made a deal to cooperate with them. Does that make any sense to you? What does that tell you?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, what it tells me is that the lies were about connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or between Manafort and Kilimnik and the Russians, which were not involved in the initial charges. In other words, he was charged initially with money laundering, tax evasion, false statements. Now, there is apparently proof of the connections between him and Kilimnik and the so-called Ukraine peace plan, which was attractive to the Russians and possibly offered to the Trump campaign. There are other connection between the Trump campaign and Manafort and possibly Trump himself.
And the question is, why do you lie about it? Was it just that he was a congenital liar or because he was engaged in a cover-up that potentially was encouraged by others involved whether it was Roger Stone or others who are Trump associates?
COOPER: And I mean, the -- I still don't understand if there was nothing untoward about the contacts between Russia and all of these people around the president why does why are so many of them lying about their interactions with Russia? If everything's on the up-and- up, why not just tell the truth?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, that is sort of the question at the moment. And after every one of these meetings or contacts, there was deception about them.
[20:05:05] Take for example the Trump Tower meeting involving Manafort and Kushner and the others involved in the Trump campaign, Trump Jr. The meeting was then followed by a deceptive comment framed by the president himself. The Havana cigar meeting was then followed by a deceptive comment.
All of these contacts apparently are instigated misleading or untruthful comments, giving rise to the clear impression they lied because they thought maybe they were breaking the law. That's why people lie about things.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, I want to come back to you in just a little bit in their next segment because there's an important piece of business in front of your committee regarding the Mueller investigation and whether the report will see the light of day if you could just stand by for that.
I want to quickly go to our chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu, and former Trump White House lawyer Jim Schultz.
It's not a full win, Jeff, for the prosecutor's office, that the judge said that there were two points which they did not prove.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. But I mean, let's -- you know, we can talk about the political implications but I saw Paul Manafort in court the other day. This is a man who looks like he's dying. He is walking with a cane. He looks disoriented.
He has declined so precipitously in prison that when you realize he has now lost his cooperation agreement and the chance for a lower sentence, and he's facing an entirely separate prison sentence in the Virginia case, a 70-year-old man is looking like he may die in prison. And it is just a profound thing to think about --
COOPER: We're showing video but that that's probably older know.
TOOBIN: No, this is how we remember him as you know and I and -- you know, this is how he became a public figure during this investigation. He is almost unrecognizable --
COOPER: Really? From this video?
TOOBIN: Almost unrecognizable. You know, he's got gout. He's walking with a cane. Apparently, he's using a wheelchair a lot of the time.
Prison is rough for anybody and, you know, yes, he did wrong and he did wrong over and over again. But -- I mean, this man is really, really in danger of losing his life.
COOPER: Shan, I mean since the special counselor is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, what could that mean for Manafort sentencing?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: His sentencing could get worse. In particular, the question of the acceptance of responsibility now is up for grabs. Now, the judge might still give him credit for that because he still has pled guilty but that's what the concern is with the false statements which were actually done under a higher standard than the good faith standards for the plea agreement. That's where it's going to hurt him.
And it's reminder as Jeff's pointing out the way he's suffering now apparently physically it's a reminder of just how much power a cooperator gives the prosecution. They need only prove the initial breach by good faith. It's really in their sole discretion. And so, we wonder what would cause a man his age in declining health to take that kind of risk, to put himself at risk when they have so much power? Why does he have to do that? What is it he wants to hide?
And that's really the intriguing part. And the question is, is it the sanctions discussion that possibly went on? I mean, what could be worth it to him to take this kind of risk?
COOPER: Jim -- I mean, to that point, I -- it's the same question essentially I asked Senator Blumenthal. Why -- why would he lie and why would all these people lie after having these kind of meetings?
JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: In Manafort's case -- I mean, we don't know the answer to that. But in Manafort's case, it's been alleged that he had ties to Russians, that he's had worked with Russian operatives in the past and that he may have owed some of those folks money, and that he may have just been trying to save his own skin at the end of the day.
And why he'd lied, why he engaged in the conduct that they alleged he engaged in, turning over polling data, in my -- my sense is it has little do with politics and a lot to do with him saving his own skin.
TOOBIN: That's -- that is a possibility. I mean, that's -- you know, this incredibly cinematic meeting with Kilimnik in this semi seedy cigar bar which is on the top of 666 Fifth Avenue owned at the time by Jared Kushner, Rudy Giuliani is a regular there. I mean, it's like this crazy New York place. And this is the place they decide that they decide to meet.
And the question is, is Manafort meeting with Kilimnik to regenerate his own personal business in the Ukraine where he had made so much money, that's where the $15,000 ostrich jacket came from, or is he meeting with Kilimnik to try to get the Russians to help Donald Trump win the election? And that is obviously the most, you know, legally significant but it may simply be Manafort's greed.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, do you buy that that it could just be greed?
[20:10:03] BLUMENTHAL: It could be greed. It could be just the habit of self enrichment. But it could also be that, at the end of the day, Manafort wants a partner and there is obviously a reluctance to talk about it. But behind many of these lies on the part of -- whether, it's Roger Stone or others, ultimately, the motive may be to win favor with Trump as part of a cover-up and get a pardon.
Now, if you were to pick anyone to try to foist a cover-up on or lie to, the last person in the world would be Bob Mueller.
COOPER: Shan, what do you make about that? That this -- you know, the possibility of a pardon is what is in the back of Manafort's mind?
WU: I think that's always been in the back of his mind but I find what's really interesting here is the question of the special counsel's interest in these sanctions. That seems to become clearer recently and those discussions could have been about that. There's also one other point in the judge's order which is that he lied about an unnamed other Justice Department criminal investigation.
So those two things to me point in the direction that he may have been lying about something that goes to the heart of what they're looking at now, which is the discussion of sanctions, and that might be worth lying about to him. I think if he was trying to protect something, someone that's worth protecting keeping that information out and that would help him get a pardon if it's known that he was trying to protect that.
Going the pardoned route is a Hail Mary pass at any time, and particularly with this president, even though he bypasses the normal process, you just don't know what he's going to do. So that's not much of a strategy, but it's certainly something that's always been working in the background for him.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, you had other thought on that?
BLUMENTHAL: Just one last thought, Anderson, on this topic one of the lies that apparently he told to the special counsel related to in fact his giving polling data from the Trump campaign to clinic and thereby very likely to the Russian. Now, that polling data was the lifeblood of potential social media outreach and the kind of meddling that the Russians did. So, that coordination potentially is very important.
COOPER: Jim, I saw you shaking your head earlier.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that's right except for why did he do it? And I think that's what we come back to, did it have something to do with trying to help the campaign or was it that he was trying to repay a debt that he owed? And I think that's what we're all waiting to see with Mueller's report.
COOPER: Essentially giving off some polling data as a way of buying favor?
SCHULTZ: Yes, currying favor, right. And I think that's -- that's, you know, was he acting in the scope of his duties as campaign chairman or was he acting in the scope of trying to protect Paul Manafort?
TOOBIN: I mean, Jim is raising a legitimate question but think about how far this investigation has come. Here you have the campaign chairman not some flunky, we're not talking about the coffee boy, giving a -- someone who is close to Russian intelligence information that is the gold, the most expensively produced product of the Trump campaign, private polling, which they can use to as a social media and -- I mean, that is closing the circle potentially but the Trump campaign and Russian interests, which is collusion.
SCHULTZ: And let's not about polling data for a second, I mean, for those of us been involved in campaigns. Polling data gets released to reporters all the time, gets released on time.
SCHULTZ: Not right to be releasing them to the Russians, no question about that.
SCHULTZ: But let's not talk about polling data that it's something so intrinsic to a campaign, that it never makes its way into public domain. Largely, if it's good for the candidate, it makes its way into the public domain.
COOPER: All right. Jim Schultz, Shan Wu, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much more.
Breaking -- they're going to stick around. We have more breaking news ahead.
The man on track to be the next attorney general, William Barr, is already having discussions on how to handle the Mueller final report, including if and how it's released. We'll talk to Senator Blumenthal also about.
Later, the deal President Trump now faces to avoid another government shutdown versus what he could have gotten before the shutdown. Let's keep it honest.
[20:18:39]C OOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. We've got exclusive new information on William Barr, the president's picked for attorney general who's expected to be confirmed for the top job this week and start overseeing the Russia probe.
Now, we've learned that Barr is consulting with top Justice Department officials on outlines on plans on how to handle the final Mueller report, that is according to people familiar with the discussions. Now, the most pressing question bar will face is how much information should be included in a report to Congress and the public.
As we mentioned before the break, Senator Richard Blumenthal is co- sponsored legislation to ensure that the Mueller report be available to both Congress and the public.
I want to thank Senator Blumenthal for sticking with us, to discuss these new developments. So, nothing short of Barr releasing the full report to Congress and the public is acceptable to you? Is that right?
BLUMENTHAL: That is absolutely right. Nor should it be acceptable to the American people. In fact, a recent poll -- a couple polls showed that more than 80 percent of the American people think that Barr -- the Mueller report should be released in full by Barr, and in fact, 79 percent of Republicans.
So, there should be complete full disclosure, public right to know of the entire findings and evidence, not just the conclusions, but all of the evidence and findings from the Mueller report, and the American people deserve to see because they paid for it.
COOPER: But -- I mean, isn't the counter-argument that you know, if -- unless there's an indictment, usually you don't hear from authorities detailing every stone that's been overturned?
[20:20:12] It's either yes, we're -- there's going to be something charged, or no, there's not?
BLUMENTHAL: You're absolutely right.
And I was United States attorney the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut. I never did a report. I never commented in substance on people's background or character, and the only comments we made generally were in cases of criminal charges. So, the normal rule is either you indictment or you shut up.
But this is different because what we have here is a special counsel who is appointed only in the very rare and significant instances of abuse of trust, public trust and so the public really has a right to know. And we all can speculate and comment and predict, but what really counts is the findings and evidence and they bear directly on that betrayal of public trust.
There's the distinct possibility, Anderson, that there will be no indictment here because William Barr has concluded a sitting president cannot be indicted. So, if there's no indictment and no findings and evidence, what we have in effect is a cover-up, which the American people should not accept.
COOPER: The fact that Barr has not been confirmed as attorney general and is already consulting with top justice officials, is that standard operating procedure for nominee? BLUMENTHAL: Never stop -- never standard operating procedure for a nominee to talk about a pending investigation. So, I'm a bit surprised that he is talking about the outlines and plans as the CNN report suggested. There's a lot about the special counsel investigation that has been treated as special. I'm just hoping that he backs this legislation and supports the concept of full transparency.
This legislation is bipartisan and Senator Grassley and I have long been advocates of open and full transparency and disclosure and I'm hopeful that we will have the backing of more of our colleagues. Already, I think there's growing acceptance.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, again, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
COOPER: Joining me, again, CNN's chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, Shan Wu, and Jim Schultz.
I mean, Jeff, as of now, the Justice Department, what -- they're not required to show anything.
TOOBIN: There's tremendous discretion. The regulation does not give the attorney general a lot of guidance one way or another. But I think there was a point that Senator Blumenthal made that I think deserves to be emphasized. In a usual circumstance, it is put up or shut up, indict or say nothing at all.
Here, you have a situation where the president can't be indicted under Justice Department policy. So that's not a risk.
Also, you have the Watergate precedent where Leon Jaworski, who was the Watergate special prosecutor, turned over a famous bulging briefcase of evidence to Congress of relevant evidence for possible impeachment. I mean, this -- the public does have an interest here, independent of the criminal justice system. And it really is inconceivable to me that the public and certainly the Congress wouldn't be allowed to see what Mueller had spent all this time.
COOPER: Jim, should it be made public?
SCHULTZ: I think Barr in his testimony said that as much as possible, it should be made public. And certainly he made a comment about declination memos and the fact that where people aren't indicted and where there's a declination memo that that evidence doesn't make its way in the public.
COOPER: Explain a declination.
SCHULTZ: When a prosecutor declines to prosecute someone and there's an internal evidence associated with that, that evidence doesn't become public. And I think it's a little far stretch to say just because the public paid for this work, that it should be made public. Certainly, there could be other confidential and intelligence information in that report that shouldn't --
COOPER: There would be reactions.
SCHULTZ: It should be redacted.
But certainly I think Barr has his testimony lended towards transparency on this issue, no question.
COOPER: Shan, I mean, if Barr did decide to keep the report secret from not only Congress but also the public, it would certainly face legal challenges, wouldn't it?
WU: It would, and I unquestionably think he's going to seek to exercise his ability lawfully to censor that report.
I mean, we used to have all this talk about, is Mueller is going to get fired? You know, that's the actions of the schoolyard bully. Barr is far more sophisticated than that, former legal counsel at the Justice Department, former DAG, former A.G., he doesn't need to do that. He can control the message and that's what he's going to do.
He's going to protect the president that there's anything negative in there by controlling the message. And absolutely, I agree, it should be transparent. The more that's disclosed, the better.
To the senator's point of letting the American public see what he's found, letting them make their decisions, I would remind us all and thinking about this, that there's a role for Congress and there's a role for prosecutors. And he is going to focus on individual wrongdoings. He's going to follow Justice Department guidelines as much as he can.
Mueller will be loath to say anything bad about people that aren't indicated. Barr can use that as a shield to censor the report, but Congress has a different duty.
TOOBIN: But Congress -- I'm sorry, but Congress can only do its job if it has the evidence that Mueller collected. I mean, that's the thing and that's why it's so important that Congress get it.
COOPER: Well, excuse me -- a number of senators have said, well, look, if this is held back, we will subpoena Mueller.
TOOBIN: That's right, and I don't know how that would play out legally.
I think Barr has a lot of discretion here, and the courts generally defer to the attorney general when it comes to what's an investigatory matter, what's classified information, and what's grand jury material. All of that could give Barr permission to withhold a lot of this testimony. So, I think it's really going to fall a lot on him. I don't think a court is really going to order him to release stuff that he doesn't want to release. You know, he's got his own reputation to worry about. He is someone unlike Whitaker who was utterly unqualified to be attorney general, and it's just a political stooge in there. Barr is a distinguished public servant and I doubt he wants his legacy to be the guy who kept this under wraps. But we'll see. I don't know.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Toobin, Shan Wu, Jim Schultz, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, why the man who once said that deals were his art form is now scrambling to explain his latest effort, which is shaping up to be anything but a masterpiece. We're keeping them honest.
[20:30:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As of this moment, President Trump is still expected to sign a deal to prevent another government shutdown once the House and Senate turn into full-blown legislation. Now, however, White House sources tell us that there's no guarantee he will. He's not happy with it and it's not hard to see why.
The compromise contains less money for border construction than the $5.7 billion that he originally wanted and less money than he might have gotten back in December before he shutdown the government. In short, whatever you might think about the border, the wall, the fencing, the shutdown or the President himself, the fact is he seems to have failed to do the one thing that he says he does better than anyone else. He failed as a deal maker in this case.
That's not us saying it, here's what Republican Congressman Chris Stewart told CNN's Jim Sciutto today. He said, "The deal we ended up with now is worse than we had before the shutdown." Point in fact, the President's record in the private sector is littered with some ill-fated deals.
But when we asked Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio today how this latest episode compares, he said, "The President may have just found a new way to lose," which may explain why he was scrambling today to put the best possible face on it first by pointing to another bigger, better number than the one we've all been focused on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have a lot of options and a lot of things are happening, very positive things. You know, the numbers are almost $23 billion, which you don't report too often. It's about an 8 percent increase over last year. So if you look at the total funding, it's over -- it's almost up to $23 billion, it's about 8 percent higher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That 23 billion is not just for a wall, it covers all aspects of border security like personnel, technology, infrastructure, maintenance, repairs at ports of entry and, yes, barrier construction. However, as we showed you at the top of that 23 point -- 23 billion, there's just 1.375 billion in funding for barriers on the southern border covering some 55 miles of new construction, which is less than the $1.6 billion for 65 miles of fencing that the President turned down in December. It is far less, of course, than the $5.7 billion he was demanding for more than 200 miles of barrier.
The President isn't talking about that number anymore, instead, he's repeating what is become a familiar refrain from him, the claim that the wall is already going up. Though if you listen carefully, he mixes up his tenses so much, it's hard to tell exactly what he's trying to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The border area is happening. It's going to happen at a really rapid pace. We're giving out contracts right now and we're going to have a great wall. It's going to be a great, powerful wall.
The wall is very, very on its way. It's happening as we speak. We're building as we speak in the most desperately needed areas and it's a big wall, it's a strong wall. And it's a wall that people aren't going through very easy. They're going to have to be in extremely good shape to get over this one. They would be able to climb Mt. Everest a lot easier, I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, it's not happening yet. It's not being built as we speak, at least not as the President would have you believe. And it's nothing like the kind of wall that the President campaigned on or like the prototypes that were shown off a year and a half ago.
The President is said to be angry, he's said to be upset, he's complained publicly about where things have ended up. But the reality is, he could have had a better deal than this one. Whatever the lessons he preached in "The Art of the Deal," they did not work out for him this time. This may not be the legacy that he wanted, but it's hard to deny it's the legacy that he's earned in this case.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the House Budget Committee. Congressman, when the President says that he has "options" most people don't understand to get more money for the border wall, how do you interpret that? What options don't most people understand?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, it's not clear. What does seem to be the case is that this is more bluster and misdirection from the President of the United States of America because he apparently is concerned that despite his promise that we will going to get sick of the winning, all he does is lose, lose, lose no matter what.
If you take a look, Anderson, at the trajectory of this whole issue around his medieval vanity inspired border wall, first he indicated that he was going to build a wall from sea to shining sea, and Mexico was going to pay for it, they refused.
Second, over the last two years, Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and he still couldn't get anything done. In fact, he walked away from a $25 billion border wall deal in exchange for DACA.
Then, he shuts down the government for 35 days in a reckless fashion and then says uncle at the end and engages in an unconditional surrender when he could have gotten at least $1.6 billion, as you pointed out, without shutting down the government and now has gotten much less than that.
[20:35:14] COOPER: So, do you believe the President could take this deal and then declare national emergency anyway as a means of using military money for the wall?
JEFFRIES: Well, it's possible that the President will in all likelihood take this deal because he can't go down the path of recklessly shutting down the government, again, that was a disaster for him. It was a disaster for Republicans in the House and the Senate and clearly Mitch McConnell and his team over on the other side of the Capitol want no part of that any further.
Now, the President may try to declare a national emergency, but here's the thing. If it was a national emergency, why didn't he declare that to be the case on day one of his presidency going all the way back to January 20th of 2019 -- excuse me, of 2017? All we've seen is rhetoric around this situation but no real evidence that there's a national emergency in part because apprehensions are down at the border not up.
COOPER: Congressman, a lot of Republicans will say, "Look, it's -- yes, maybe it's not the greatest thing for the President tonight, it's not exactly what the President wanted, but at the same time, it's not what Nancy Pelosi." She said not $1 for the wall and here they are with a deal for $1.5 billion or so.
JEFFRIES: Well, what we've said from the very beginning is that the President would not get a dime for a medieval border wall in the midst of a reckless government shutdown while he was holding 800,000 plus federal employees and their families and the American economy hostage.
We maintained from the very beginning that when the government was reopened, we'd be more than willing to have a mature conversation about border security and do what was necessary in terms of what the evidence directed.
In that regard, we indicated that we would be willing to support some modest barriers where justified and that in fact is the case here. But this bill will be 21st century border security that will invest in the type of infrastructure that we think is necessary around the legal ports of entry.
It will invest in technology. It will provide money for humanitarian assistance to make sure that migrant families are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve in terms of food and shelter, transportation and medicine, and clothing.
COOPER: Conservative Freedom Caucus Leader Mark Meadows told reporters today that if the President accepts the bill and does nothing else that it would be "political suicide." Does the President need to do something else to save face here?
JEFFRIES: In my view, this is a victory for the American people because we have finally put to bed the notion that shutdowns are legitimate negotiating tactic when there's a dispute between two co- equal branches of government. I think what we need to do is move beyond this situation.
Hopefully the bill will get to the President's desk. He'll sign it into law by Friday and then work with us as House Democrats on our for the people agenda where we're focused on lowering health care costs, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, driving down the high cost of prescription drugs and enacting a real infrastructure plan.
That's what the President talked about in part when he came before us at the State of the Union address. Hopefully once we end this sordid episode, we can work on issues of real importance to the American people.
COOPER: All right, Congressman Jeffries, appreciate your time. Thank you.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
COOPER: Joining me now, former RNC Chief of Staff Mike Shields, CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.
Mike, is -- would it, to Mark Meadows' point, be suicide, political suicide, for the President if he didn't do something else after this deal?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know about suicide, but I do believe he will continue to do something. The word that Republicans are using is a down payment and there -- it is their policy to build -- to have stronger border security and build a barrier. They've got this money for this. There are other things that they can do to put money towards this. Then there's going to be election in 2020, it will be on the ballot and they'll come back again.
And so, I think the base is now with the President. They've seen that he's willing to go to a pretty extreme length to fight for something that they all believe in. His base is behind him and we're all now talking about his issue.
We're not talking about health care. We're not talking about student loans. We're not talking about things that Democrat -- you know, climate change, things that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress want to be talking about. We're having a national debate on border security which is where he wants it to be. COOPER: Congressman Dent, I mean, do you think the President will actually sign this bill? And then, to Mike's point, sort of use it as a jumping off point?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he will sign it but not until he complains about it first. He will complain about it. He'll whine about it. Then he'll sign it. And then I do suspect that the President will take some executive action, possibly declare an emergency, which I think would set off a bit of a political crisis. I think he's moving in that direction. He cannot move these funds around that Congress has appropriated without some kind of congressional approval from the appropriations committee.
[20:40:04] He may try, but that would really set off the crisis. So, he's going to sign it. He has no choice. It's better than a shutdown and it's better than a continuing resolution.
COOPER: So, Kirsten, I mean, if the President signs the bill, which is what CNN has been told he intends to do, does he deserve credit for compromising, because obviously Democrats have been, you know, trying to take a victory lap saying he's caved, he's caved. The other word is compromise.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes, no and I said this before that I think that, you know, originally when he had, you know, struck a deal and it was being portrayed as he had been rolled and he'd caved, it's like no, he just -- he made a deal.
And I think that he would have been -- it would have been better for him if he had taken earlier deals that were on the table, so I don't know that it was the best deal for him. But I think that, yes, he should get credit for doing I think what is the right thing, which is avoiding another government shutdown, realizing that he's not going to be able to get the funding that he wanted, and in standing up against the base to the extent that he needs to stand up to the base.
Because another thing that I have felt for a long time is that he, you know, he had caved before because he got all this backlash -- I mean, caved to his base because he got all this backlash from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I think if he had just stood his ground then, he would have been fine.
His base is very firmly behind him. And I think that he's done so many things that they can point to that they are happy about. You know, in particular probably what is really their most important issue, I think, among Republicans and not just the base is the court. So, you know, I don't think he would have been in any peril, frankly. But now he's done this and we'll see. We'll see if there is a backlash for him, you know, giving in.
COOPER: Mike, how worried do you think the President should be politically about legal challenges in court?
SHIELDS: I don't -- I mean, in terms of --
COOPER: I mean, if he declares a national emergency, tries to, you know, get funds from other sources.
SHIELDS: Yes. It appears that there are two sides to that argument, and I think they're still sorting through that and I think there are other things. Ted Cruz has a bill to use the El Chapo money to go for the wall. I think there's other bills that are going to move through that you can start putting wall funding and continue to have this fight.
I think the point is, yes, he didn't get everything he wanted. He set the terms of the debate. We're talking about border security. There's a way to win the war, maybe losing the battle. And so I've mentioned that before when I worked for Newt, the government shutdown, but Bill Clinton wound up signing a balanced budget because we won the fight of the American people. So, I think as long as it he looks like he's continuing to find ways to do this and he's not finished yet, he can keep doing that.
COOPER: Congressman, I mean, Kirsten mentioned the President's base. Do you think they'll see this as a win?
DENT: You know, I think the President really needs to lead his base. Instead of letting Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and others, you know, get them whipped up into a frenzy, the President has to declare victory and say, look, I've additional money for border security. I'm not done, down payment, pocket the gain and then come back and fight another day.
And I think his base will probably follow him more than they would those talk radio hosts that he, for some reason, the President is so gun-shy when it comes to certain, you know, shrill voices. He feels he has to pander to them. He really doesn't need to.
COOPER: It is wise, Kirsten, that the President is pointing to the larger number, the $23 billion overall and it's a rise over what was spent last year.
POWERS: Right. It can also kind of goes against the conservative talking point that the Democrats don't care about border security, right? I mean, the President is right, there actually is quite a bit of money in this for border security.
And so, you know, I think that the Democrats were interested in striking a deal where they felt that it was -- the money was going to be well spent where the problems actually are and the problems actually aren't going to be solved by a wall. I mean, that's the problem.
It's -- the problems are more at the ports of entry and so I think that that's where the money is rightly being focused and he's been given some money for not a huge big, beautiful wall, but for some fencing and I think that's reasonable.
So, whether he can say a victory -- I mean, he can go out and say whatever he wants. The fact of the matter is he had much better deals that he walked away from.
POWERS: But, you know, he can say he got victory, or I think probably more likely he's going to try to find a way to get this done. And, you know, as Charlie pointed out, in a way that might be highly problematic.
COOPER: Yes. Congressman Charlie Dent, appreciate it, Mike Shields, Kirsten Powers, thanks very much.
Up next, who leaked the details of Jeff Bezos' relationship to the "National Enquirer?" Now we know. Details coming up.
[20:48:09] COOPER: An athletic director, a football coach, geography teacher and high school students with big dreams, they're the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida one year ago tomorrow. 17 lives lost on Valentine's Day, lives taken away. 17 lives changed forever by the actions of a lone gunman. ] The deaths sparked a movement. Several students from the school have pushed for gun control that called on politicians to enact new laws, and distanced themselves from powerful lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association.
You may recall this moment from a CNN Town Hall just days after the shooting. This is Cameron Kasky, a student pressing Senator Marco Rubio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON KASKY, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS H.S. SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: So, number one, the positions I hold on these issues are the Second Amendment I've held since the day I entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official.
Number two -- no, the answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda and I do support the Second Amendment and I hope to support the right of view and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that's why I support the things that I have stood for.
KASKY: In the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?
RUBIO: I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this from getting a gun.
KASKY: No, but I'm talking NRA money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is that student, Cameron Kasky. Cameron, thank you so much for being with us. I'm wondering just what's gone through your mind, I mean, as the anniversary -- the first anniversary of what happened in Parkland approaches tomorrow.
KASKY: You know, it's been such a surreal time for us. But recently I was thinking about how people think about Parkland, and I was thinking about kind of the public image of the city.
[20:50:00] And it's really nice to know that Parkland is looked at as a city where people, even in the face of the worst possible tragedy stood up and stood for something that was larger than themselves, whether it be school, safety or gun violence prevention.
We took what could have been the worst thing in the -- what was the worst thing in world for us. And instead of hiding away, we stood up and showed that Parkland as a city and this community and these families who lost their children and siblings were stronger than anyone who could try and hurt us.
So while the shooter went into the school that day trying to ruin the world and trying to knock everybody down, everybody was really able to come together and show that we are better than that.
COOPER: I mean, obviously you've been a very strong advocate over the last year for tougher gun control legislation. On balance, do you believe progress has been made?
KASKY: Well, I mean just moments ago HRA passed, which was -- which is the bipartisan background check bill, and that's the first gun violence prevention bill that's been passed from House Judiciary in decades. And that's just one of the many steps that's been taken.
Today, Governor DeSantis announced that there would be a grand jury investigating the school board in Broward County, which I know was such a great victory for a lot of the parents because there's been so much corruption on a local level here.
So while, again, we're coming up on the one year anniversary of such a horrible horrific thing that took 17 of our best people, we're really seeing a lot of reasons to look to the future and see hope.
COOPER: You're a senior now. I'm just wondering what is it -- what's it like at the school you're on?
KASKY: Well, I know that a lot of the families of the victims -- well, despite having gone through such a horrible thing, I see these people so often and they're so grateful for all the help they get. They're so supportive.
I mean, Patrick Petty is a student at Douglas right now who lost his sister. And every time I talk to him, I say, how are you doing, like I try to check in. He just -- he talks about all the things in the world that are good. And he talks about how one day he'll be able to see his sister again.
And so many people in Douglas whether they were connected to someone who lost or whether they had just gone through such trauma, they're able to look to the future with hope and it's something that is so nice to see. So, the whole community in Parkland really has just shown so much courage. It's remarkable.
COOPER: What would you hope that tomorrow people think about or do or remember about Parkland and the 17 people who were murdered?
KASKY: You know, tomorrow I hope a lot of people take the bitterly partisan politics of this whole situation and put it aside just for a day. I understand that there's a lot that needs to be advocated for and there are still so many fights that we need to end. But tomorrow I think is about thinking about your loved ones, treating everybody with kindness and compassion and realizing that this horrible tragedy, they still happen on a daily basis.
I mean, you look around the county, you see so many people being killed and there are so many steps we need to take, but it's really important to treat the people around you with kindness and compassion.
COOPER: Cameron Kasky, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much.
KASKY: Thanks for having me again.
COOPER: All right. 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: It is amazing how those mass shootings dominate a moment and then disappear. I was wrong about Parkland. When it happened, I was like "Oh, God, another one of these tragedies and we're going to go through the cycle and all these people are going to be made promises that something will change and then it doesn't and you have to watch their heartbreak."
But, these kids were a catalyst that I didn't see coming. And we haven't followed through to understand their impact in the midterms but, you know, they went all over the country, those kid.
CUOMO: My sister, Maria, does documentaries and she's following them around. One of her documentaries is going to be about their efforts. It will be interesting to see what lasting impact there is, what this year anniversary means, really important for you to do that interview.
COOPER: It's also interesting, I mean, that, you know, that Cameron is applying to colleges now, others have gone to college, that they continue the push. I mean, they continue the work that they're doing while at the same time being kids and, you know, going to college and doing the stuff that everybody else does at that age.
CUOMO: Yes. I mean, look, an extraordinary thing to survive and leave an impression on their lives. They're trying to make something of it. That is always the best way to survive a terrible thing as you and I have both seen many times and many iterations around the world, but we'll see what it comes to. We're still nowhere on that from a cultural issue. And his advice is great, it's just not going to be taken. The idea of putting politics aside, we've yet to see that when comes to that issue.
Tomorrow, I'll be dealing with that. Tonight, we're going to take on what just came out of that judge's ruling in the Manafort case and what it means. Anderson, I'd become convinced. I don't know what the Mueller probe is going to lead to, I don't see it ending the presidency, I could be wrong. But, why did they lie if they had nothing to hide, is a question that applies in a way I have never seen before. It is the big question. We'll take it on.
COOPER: And it's not just one person lying, it's multiple lie after lie after lie. Chris, we'll see you just a few minutes, about five minutes from now.
[20:55:05] More breaking news tonight on who tipped off the "National Enquirer" about the relationship between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the woman who -- with whom he had a relationship. We have details on that head.
COOPER: There's breaking news tonight about the identity of the person who tipped off the "National Enquirer" about the relationship that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had with the Los Angeles television personality.
Two people with knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, was the person behind the leak. When contacted by CNN, Michael Sanchez declined to provide an on the record comment.
Bezos (INAUDIBLE) "The Washington Post" has launched an investigation into the leak and a blog post he suggested that either President Trump or the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had possibly played a role in the publication of the story where that "Enquirer" may back to create (ph) favor with them. Bezos did not provide evidence to support those claims.
The news continues right now. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CUOMO: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." New tonight, a judge rule that Paul Manafort lied about his leading with the Russian operative.