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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Refuses to Turn Over Trump's Tax Returns to House Democrats; Source: President Trump Was Expressing His Opinion Abut Mueller Testifying, Not Saying He Could Stand in the Way; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in Interviewed About Mueller Testifying Before Congress. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired May 6, 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, "AC360": Good evening.
There are looming questions tonight on whether Robert Mueller will testify to Congress and the American people about his findings in the Russia probe with conflicting messages from the president.
Plus, the attorney general has missed a deadline made by Democrats to turnover the full, unredacted Mueller report.
We're going to get to all of that but, first, we have breaking news on another defiant move, that's becoming a pattern.
[20:00:01] The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is refusing to give six years of the president's tax returns to House Democrats.
Let go to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.
So, what is the reasoning that Mnuchin is giving for denying the request for the president's tax returns?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, as you said, he fired off a letter off to Capitol Hill, up to the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Richard Neal, saying essentially that this is an unprecedented request and that raise a serious constitutional questions. And those ground, the treasury secretary is saying you're not getting the president's tax returns.
This is probably one of the least surprising stories of this year, Anderson. The White House, the president's private legal team have made it very clear they are not going to willingly turnover the president's tax returns. And, in fact, I talked to an administration official just a short ago, earlier this evening, who said at this point it appears the Justice Department, quote, is prepared to litigate on this matter if the chairman takes it to the courts, which is the expected next move, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. As you said, it's certainly not surprising. The president has been trying to keep his tax returns out of the public's eye for the last three decades.
ACOSTA: That's right. He has. And the president's legal team, they've gone as far to try to block major banks like Deutsche Bank out of New York from cooperating with any kind of congressional investigation that would involve turning over those tax returns. And so, you know, they have drawn a line in the sand over this, Anderson, they are not just going to do it.
The question is just how far House Democrats are going to go and, of course, they are making the case that this is one of the building blocks in their case, this administration on a variety of fronts whether it be the less redacted or fully unredacted Mueller report, Robert Mueller testifying and so on. They see this White House as stone walling this administration as stone walling at every turn, Anderson.
COOPER: There was certainly a lot of back and forth in the past few days about if Mueller will testify or not. I understand you're getting some new reporting on that.
ACOSTA: That's right. I just talked to a source familiar with this matter, with these discussions going on inside the White House, inside the administration, and, Anderson, we saw over the weekend where the president tweeted that Robert Mueller should not testify. This was a departure from what the president was saying last Friday when he was saying up to the Attorney General William Barr on all of this. And, of course, William Barr when he testified said this would be fine with him.
Now, according to the source familiar with all this who I spoke with a short while ago, the view inside the White House is that the president was just expressing his opinion when he made that statement and that tweet over the weekend that he's not necessarily issuing a directive or order to his administration to block Robert Mueller from testifying. Essentially with the president saying he views this investigation is over and that it's time to move on.
But, Anderson, interesting there are sources inside administration familiar with this matter essentially saying the president was letting off steam there, not necessarily signaling at this point that he's going to block the special counsel from testifying -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks.
You now, the president not standing in the way as Jim said as consistent with what Attorney General Barr has been saying about Mueller testifying. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Robert Mueller remains a Justice Department employee as of this moment. Will you permit him to testify publicly to Congress?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have no objection to Bob Mueller personally testifying.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): What about Bob Mueller? Should he be allowed to testify before the Senate?
BARR: I've already said publicly, I have no objection to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No objection from Attorney General Barr both times.
Now, earlier, I spoke about all this with Congressman David Cicilline.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, what's the current status of Mueller appearing in front of your committee?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Discussions are underway. There has been no agreement reached or commitment made but the committee hopes the special counsel will appear on the 15th of May. The American people have a right to hear from him as does the committee.
COOPER: You said discussions are underway, is that between the committee and the Department of Justice or with Robert Mueller? Do you expect the White House will try to stop him from testifying because as of right now, he's still an employee of the DOJ?
CICILLINE: Well, you remember the president initially said when asked that question whether he would stop Mr. Mueller from testifying, he said that's up to the attorney general and the attorney general testified publicly he had no objection to Mr. Mueller coming before the committee and the president immediately changed his mind and said Mr. Mueller should not testify.
So, it's unclear whether the president will attempt to but I think it's very important that Mr. Mueller come before the Judiciary Committee to walk the committee and American people through the report, to his findings, to explain the context of the decisions and judgments he's made.
COOPER: So, the president's assertion Mueller testified would be in his words a redo for the Democrats -- I mean, is that what this is about?
CICILLINE: Not at all. Look, this is an investigation which resulted in a 400-and-some-odd page report presented to our committee that first of all establishes a sweeping and systematic attack on our democracy by a foreign adversary, the Russian government, and then ten specific instances of obstruction of justice by the president of the United States who's tried to impede, interfere, or stop this investigation.
Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, lays out this evidence and really calls upon Congress in the final part of the report as the only place that has the responsibility to conduct oversight and to hold the president accountable and to ensure that no one is above the law.
[20:05:10] So, it's our responsibility. This is not a redo. This is the beginning of our work and our responsibilities to conduct congressional oversight. COOPER: In terms of the Judiciary Committee voting Wednesday to hold
Attorney General Barr in contempt for missing today's deadline to provide the complete Mueller report, the DOJ says it's willing to keep negotiating with the committee in what they say is good faith.
Are you willing to do that? Is the committee willing to do that? Is that offer enough to hold off a contempt vote?
CICILLINE: Chairman Nadler has been very accommodating. He's tried in every way to accommodate the attorney general, to invite him to provide the report, to try to accommodate his concerns and he did not appear or did not present the full report as the subpoena required and the chairman of the committee noticed a contempt report for this Wednesday in response to that notice. Mr. Barr has written to the chair of the committee requesting a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss some kind of accommodation. The chairman will have to consider that request and decide whether or not it's a good faith effort to actually provide the report and the supporting materials or an effort to delay the inevitable.
But the chairman is committed to ensuring that we get the materials we need to do our work. That means the full report and all the supporting materials and the committee chair has been incredibly accommodating and patient in trying to ensure that we get what we need to do our job.
COOPER: What is -- what is getting the full, unredacted report and supporting documents, what would you hope to glean from that that you can't learn from the report as it is?
CICILLINE: Well, the report as it is damming and very concerning and presents evidence of very serious misconduct, obviously. But we also need to see the other materials, the supporting documents, of what has been covered up, other investigations referenced, the grand jury proceedings that required us to go to court, hopefully, with the attorney general, to get those materials.
We need to collect this evidence and the committee has a responsibility to see it and to study it and to make informed judgments, and the attorney general ought to be willing to help us in that process and not be impeding our ability to collect evidence.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, appreciate your time. Thank you.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
COOPER: All right. Let's get more voices and more perspective. Joining me is former federal prosecutor and former Whitewater independent counsel, Robert Ray, also CNN legal analysts Carrie Cordero and Laura Coates.
Robert, do you expect the president will allow Mueller to testify without a fight? Should he? ROBERT RAY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think on Mueller's team, maybe the best place to lead this is why don't we let Robert Mueller decide? I mean, short of subpoena, he could take one of two positions and both are potentially reasonable. One is, I said all I intend to say and it's in the report. Alternatively, that there is more that the American people should have.
I tend to kind of agree with Senator Sue Collins, who I have a lot of respect for when she says the American people well may need context here and they should hear from the special counsel, something that the attorney general has made clear that he is not opposed to --
RAY: -- and the White House seems to be sending the signal that it up to the attorney general.
And I guess my view of this is if Bob Mueller wants to appear before the American people and in Congress, he would be afford that opportunity to do so.
RAY: And if he doesn't and he wants to step aside and say, hey, listen, I've said all I intend to say, I said it in the report, you know, it was passed onto the attorney general and it's within the attorney general's prerogative and he made the call, we'll leave it at that. I think that's where I come out.
COOPER: Carrie, I mean, we live in the crazy time where the president can tweet something one day and the next day have it reported that he was expressing his opinion and didn't mean what he was actually going to do anything about it.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so the difficulty with that is that we don't know whether the president's words and statements are actually actionable, and it's relevant in this context because then we don't know if he's actually giving an order about whether or not he's going to assert some sort of legal privilege over the special counsel's testimony. It doesn't seem like it. It seems like they are trying to walk it back and, of course, the attorney general said he has no objection.
So that seems to be what the legal position, the legal advice that's been given to the president. But it's a bigger problem for his presidency in particular the commander in chief role that we actually don't know and other officials in government don't know if the president's words have meaning. If when he says something or when he writes something or when he tweets something, if it actually is actionable.
And that's actually a real national security problem and it's bad for his presidency.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, the last person who words you want to have -- the first person whose words you want to have meaning is obviously would be the president of the United States, Laura. I mean, if the attorney general were to decide he didn't want to allow Mueller to testify, even if, to Robert's point, Mueller wanted to, the special counsel's boss, I mean, he is the special counsel's boss in the Justice Department, he could stop him from doing it, couldn't he?
[20:10:06] LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He could. And, of course, remember, he has been on a power trip of sorts as we've seen through his testimony, making every one clearly aware that he is the actual employer of sorts and the boss of the special counsel Robert Mueller, and that he is the final word because the confidential report once it was handed over to Bill Barr was actually his baby now. He could say listen, you've done all you're supposed to do here and you essentially did not come to the one determination you were supposed to on one area of obstruction, therefore, let the report speak for itself.
My concern is not whether or not he actually will appear to testify. It's likely that he will. It seems very clear from one of his letters to Bill Barr he does not like anyone else to be his mouthpiece if he feels he's being misconstrued. The issue for me is whether will it be meaningful, to the extent that Bill Barr as attorney general has concerns about the full report going out or aspects of it ready to grand jury material in the like. If those four categories are not going to be discussed or the process decided to take over the obstruction part of it, then it may not be as meaningful and productive as even Congress would like.
COOPER: Robert, the president quoted in a tweet over the weekend. I just want to read it. He said, quote: The report sounded an awful lot as being Comey-esque. In other words, I'm not going to charge this person. It wasn't even close to being crime, but I'm going to criticize him on the way out the door. That's unfortunate because it's stepping outside of the role.
Is this one of the reasons why Mueller perhaps should testify to give his direct opinion on why he didn't offer a prosecutorial judgment?
RAY: Well, I was speaking in the context that the president references about one sentence in the report which was the -- you know, this is not an exoneration sentence.
RAY: And trying to make the point that's not what prosecutors do. They don't pass out exoneration cards at the end of a criminal investigation. They have a binary choice about whether or not they believe charges are appropriate. Either, yes, they are, in which case you proceed to indictment before a grand jury, or no, you don't, in which case there is a declination.
So, you know, leaving exoneration aside, I have no problem with the release of the redacted Mueller report, and the only remaining issue appears to be this question, which is a complicated one about the potential release of grand jury material, which is the only remaining portion that Congress doesn't otherwise have access to.
COOPER: Carrie, I mean, is Congress --
COOPER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
COATES: I was going to say, Anderson, one of the things I keep hearing about is binary decision and that is absolutely true that most prosecutors have the binary choice to prosecute or decline to prosecute and do not actually provide information. What prosecutors do not have against them is an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that says there is a policy that may actually preclude you from reaching either of those binary choices, but feel free to have an investigation nonetheless, a grand jury with subpoena power nonetheless and then actually not reach conclusions.
I think in many ways, as Bill Barr mentioned at his testimony last week, that it was a prudential matter for Robert Mueller, the issue of that OLC opinion that he may be precluded from actually fully investigating and also that kind of Comey effect of presenting prejudice or pejorative material, they also could not answer to, defend against or go forward.
I want to make sure it was very clear about that binary choice perhaps being excluded from Robert Mueller which is a reason he should be able to testify.
COOPER: You got to take a quick break. We'll have more. I want to get everybody's reaction to the open letter signed by hundreds of former prosecutors who worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations. They say the president would be facing multiple felony charges stemming from the Russia investigation if he were not president.
Also tonight, the top concerns for Democrats, President Trump loses the 2020 race by a slim margin, will the contest -- will he contest the results and refuse to leave the White House? We'll talk about that, ahead.
[20:17:52] COOPER: A sharp and growing rebuke for President Trump tonight. It's coming from more than 500 federal prosecutors who served in Democratic and Republican administrations. They signed an open letter saying the president would have been charged with obstruction of justice had he not been president.
Back now with our panel.
Carrie, do you believe this? I mean, these federal prosecutors, A, is it appropriate for them to do this and do you agree with them that the president would have been charged had he not been a sitting president?
CORDERO: So I do worry a little bit it will be perceived as prosecutors engaged in political activity so I think there say risk there. But I think the letter -- first of all, I agree with the findings of fact if one looked at the facts as laid out in the report, that it would constitute a case of obstruction.
But I think the report -- the letter serves two important purposes. One, it contradicts the attorney general's finding which he found after the special counsel didn't make a finding. It contradicts the attorney general's finding that there was no evidence of obstruction as the facts were laid out in the report and, second, it contradicts this really corrosive argument that the administration and some surrogates of the president are making which is that all of the conduct described in the report is really just part of his core executive functions, and that's a really dangerous argument. And so, I think that the perhaps what was motivating these prosecutors who normally, former prosecutors who normally would not engage in this type of public activity.
COOPER: Robert, part of this letter says, I'm quoting, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction from obstruction of justice, the standard set out in the principles of federal prosecution runs counter to logic and our experience. What do you say to that?
RAY: I don't agree with them that it is completely clear that this is so, first. Second, I don't know anybody on the list whoever had the responsibility of making decisions both to investigate and the decision about whether to prosecute a president that includes -- I'm not on that list, Ken Starr is not on that list, Bob Fisk is not on that list, and anybody else I can think of that had that responsibility, which ultimately concerns, you know, not the least of which the best interest of the United States are involved.
And third, you know, I think it's also completely beside the point. I don't know how you separate this investigation from the fact that it does involve the president of the United States. No other person in our system has the ability to hire and fire an FBI director, to choose his prosecutor whether special counsel or otherwise, or to insist that he have an attorney general who has not been recused.
All of those facts have to be evaluated in context when you're considering application of obstruction of justice statutes to presidential conduct.
CORDERO: Just a point of clarification, there's a member who is on Ken Starr's team who is on the letter.
RAY: Yes, he worked for me.
COOPER: Laura, just in terms of back and forth between Attorney General Barr and the Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee, will Democrats really achieve anything? I mean, at least in the short term by holding him in contempt or is it more of a symbolic move?
COATES: Well, unfortunately, the ideas of contempt can seem symbolic to people if you have these courses of action. They can pursue the criminal attempt which, of course, would require one of the 90-plus U.S. attorneys whose boss is, in fact, Bill Barr, whose boss is ultimately the president of the United States to actually bring these criminal charges against that person.
The other idea is going through the civil courts to do so, in the federal district court. Now, we have seen that happen in the Obama administration when it came to Attorney General Eric Holder. We saw it in the Bush administration with Harriet Miers. And we've seen the subsequent president have to actually take hold of the matter and resolve it. Obama and, of course, Trump resolved both matters.
So, in many respect, it seems the length of time and the protracted litigation of things, but normally, people are frustrated about that aspect of it.
I will say on one aspect of the letter if I may, Anderson, and that is the idea again that to go back to that four-page summary letter that Bill Barr wrote, in it he actually stated along with Rod Rosenstein they did not contemplate that OLC opinion not to actually prosecute a president. So, the contextual reasons why I think Ray was talking about those issues about how it would be a matter to actually consider, that's the idea of why it's so surprising it was not taken into account in the four-page letter and also not talked about later on.
So, I think part of that letter was to resolve that discrepancy that made your eyebrows raised to say, it actually was an important aspect of it, and no one had this experience except for a select hand full of people, then why did Rosenstein and Barr not contemplate it initially?
COOPER: Robert, I spoke to Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat last week. He sits on the Judiciary Committee. He told me that they could go as far as having the sergeant at arms apprehend Barr and possibly jail him. It seems ludicrous --
RAY: Well, that's political pyrotechnics, Anderson. And, you know, can we please worry about more important things like maybe national security and the fact we have three carrier groups in the Persian Gulf and a revolution in Venezuela and now, we're going to have somebody in Congress talk about what the theoric, you know, powers of Congress are to hold somebody in contempt. And apparently, it doesn't end there.
You know, what I see this is sort of last gasp towards impeachment which is gong to fizzle out fairly quickly once, you know, the politics of this become evident and that is what I'm concerned about. I think, you know, it something to be concerned about when you start to have former federal prosecutors weigh in on something where it obvious what is going on here is a last ditch effort to try to bolster the impeachment argument. So, that's where we are.
COOPER: Robert Ray, appreciate it. Carrie Cordero, Laura Coates, as well.
Up next, more on the breaking news from the top of the program, the treasury secretary saying he will not provide Congress with President Trump's tax returns. We'll look what could be the next step in the standoff.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:27:41] COOPER: More breaking news on President Trump's taxes. As you heard earlier, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin will not turnover six years of the president's personal tax returns. Mnuchin was asked about it last month and here is what he said then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: As I've previously said, I want to acknowledge we have received the request as I said before, we will follow the law, we are reviewing it with our internal legal department, and I would leave it at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You might call that a non-answer answer.
Some perspective from now David Gergen, who served four presidents, and Democratic Congressman Jim Himes, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Himes, does this request for the president's tax returns lack legitimate legislative purpose as Mnuchin now claims?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Nothing could be further from the truth and I mean, it really an interesting case because as you know, Anderson, there is always a dance under every president over how fast you produce documents over some investigation Congress is doing or whether you send somebody in this case, you know, in this president's case the attorney general. In this case, this is zero ambiguity. The law, and you can look at it, the law says that the IRS shall, with no conditions, no nothing, shall turnover whatever returns are requested by three people and in this case, of course, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
And, by the way, there is precedent for this. In the last presidency, that same law was invoked. So, I mean, it's fascinating to me that Mnuchin is saying he can't lawfully do it because the truth is you don't need to be a lawyer to do this. You can't lawfully not do it.
COOPER: David, clearly, even if the congressman is correct and the law is on the side of those who want the tax returns, Steve Mnuchin knows how the president feels about this and is clearly, you know, legality aside, doing what the president wants to do.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYSTA: Absolutely. The president doesn't have to say a word to him. Mnuchin knows what's expected. First of all, I so much agree with Congressman Himes. The law is plain on its face. It's a law that goes all the way back to the 1920s after the Teapot Dome scandal in the Harding administration, one infamous scandals in the American history, and the Congress said, from now on, the IRS shall provide tax returns upon written request of the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
So, what we don't know and is whether in fact the -- I assume what the Trump administration is going to say is that that law is unconstitutional, they'll fight it in the court and they'll also drag this out.
Clearly, the stonewalling is all about trying to take as much as possible and put it all the investigations last way past the next election, 2020, November 2020, and let them be resolved then. That's what the White House is trying to do.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, Congressman, it's a long court battle which is obviously where this seems to be headed. Is it a win for the administration? I mean, isn't it all to a certain degree about them being able to implicate down the road?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, that's obviously their strategy here and so that raises a couple of questions. I mean, to all of us, and I include my Republican colleagues in there -- in this, they need to decide whether they will support this strategy because it wasn't that long ago, in fact it was two or three years ago that they were investigating President Obama and, of course, the usual dance obtained.
In some cases, the Obama administration didn't produce stuff as fast as the Republican Congress want have, but eventually they did. So now the Republicans need to decide, are they going to validate this strategy, which makes in effective congressional oversight? They will once again at some point in the future want to conduct oversight over a Democratic president.
Now, I don't hold a lot of hope out for that but that's where you open the door to things that you were discussing earlier. You know, Congress has its own authority through processes like inherent contempt, like its control o the purse strings.
There are other tools that Congress can use to try to motivate the executive to do what every other President has done in 240 years, which is submit to the oversight of the coequal branch of government known as the Congress.
COOPER: The thing is, David, I mean, even if Congress doesn't get the tax returns, it's not going away. I mean, whoever ends up being the Democratic nominee is sure to use this against the President throughout the campaign, no?
GERGEN: Yes. And by the way, the Democratic candidates, the top half dozen have provided their tax information. Only Joe Biden hasn't, but is expected too soon. But there are a couple of other things the Democrats could do to fight this off.
One is, and it's already underway in the state of New York, is to have the State of New York officially adopt a law that his state tax returns have to be furnished and that's -- that process is moving along.
The other thing, Anderson, is that some states are thinking off and I think some are going to act on the idea of having a law before the 2020 elections which says that in order to be on the ballot in the state, you have to release your tax returns. That could also force the President saying perhaps to release two returns before the 2020 elections.
COOPER: Congressman Himes, I mean, do you think this looks good for Democrats or does it run the risk of looking like, you know, their priorities are out of whack and they're essentially going after the President for the point of going after the president.
HIMES: Well, I guess I think a couple things. Number one, the President didn't produce his tax returns in 2016, that didn't keep him from being elected. I don't think this is likely to be a winning political issue in 2020.
Number two, I have severe doubts about whether states should be allowed to layer on qualifications for the President of the United States. I mean, if we open that door, God only knows what states will decide they want to do in order to put somebody on the ballot.
But look, Anderson, we're forgetting something here, which this is much bigger than what we're talking about here, which is this is a huge question for everybody in this country, which is are we going to be a nation of laws?
And you can believe that the President shouldn't have to produce his tax returns voluntarily, you can believe that the Congress is harassing the President of the United States. But the law, it could not be more clear here. And so this is really the fundamental issue is, are we going to allow the President to blatantly ignore the law?
COOPER: David Gergen, Congressman Himes, appreciate it. Thank you.
Would President Trump go quietly after the 2020 election if he lost? What would happen? Would he contest the results in that scenario? Coming up, some possible hints about a strategy. And big day for Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, they had a boy. What's his name? Are there pictures? That is coming up.
[20:37:59] COOPER: There are pair remarks over the weekend that some saw has warning signs that President Trump if he were to lose the election would not be inclined to accept the result.
It started with a tweet by Evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. that he now supports what he calls reparations two additional years added to President Trump's first term because of what Falwell called a "time stolen by this corrupt failed coup."
The President echoed that sentiment on Twitter about an hour later, "Despite the tremendous success that I've had as President, including perhaps the greatest economy and most successful two years of any president in history, they have stolen two years of my, our presidency, collusion delusion, that we will never be able to get back."
The word stolen certainly raised some eyebrows this after House Speaker Pelosi told "The New York Times" on Saturday that she was deeply concern the President might try to delegitimize the 2020 results should he narrowly lose based on what happened in last year's midterms.
If there have been close contest last year, Pelosi told "The Times," "He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races, he would say you can't seat these people. We had to win. Imagine if we hadn't won, oh, don't even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach."
With me now is CNN Political Commentator Steve Cortes, 2016 Trump campaign adviser, and also CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist.
So, Kirsten, I mean do you think there's any valid concern from Speaker Pelosi that the President might try to challenge the election results?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a reasonable thing to be worried about. I mean, he's obviously somebody who sees Democratic voter fraud around every Bush. I mean, he's, you know, has all sorts of imaginations about what hasn't happened -- has and hasn't happened in elections, you know, when it comes to crowd size and other things like that.
And so I think that he looks for these areas that, you know, maybe -- say like she said like might be close and could try to really stoke the idea that something unfair had happened that there had been some sort of fraud, some sort of voter fraud that hardly ever happens but that he is -- he and Republicans love to fan the flames to make everybody think that this is basically happening everywhere.
[20:40:10] COOPER: Steve, I mean the President already claims that, you know, millions of -- there are millions of illegal votes cast by illegal immigrants of California and that's why Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in California. Is it farfetched? Do you think the President might challenge 2020 results if in fact he lost?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's incredibly farfetched. I almost honestly, Anderson, can't believe that we're talking about this quite frankly. I saw this a lot on MSNBC over the weekend. People like Donny Deutsch who claims that every single Trump voter is a Nazi, something he said about 63 million Americans. He is pushing this conspiracy already out there. To me, it's absurd. We're talking about he would, he might, he shall. I mean, it's all supposition. I supposed that it's possible that the President will do this.
CORTES: But what's really going on? This is about character assassination. It's about trying to smear him. It's just the same as calling him a racist. Let's say he's an authoritarian. Rather than talking about his actual record --
COOPER: But he's talking about --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: I mean, you have Jerry Falwell Jr. who, you know, runs a university is talking about the President should get two more years because of an attempted coup. The President has said there was an attempted coup against him. So if he believes there was an attempt --
CORTES: Well, there was.
POWERS: Oh my, God.
CORTES: There absolutely was an attempted coup against him. No. And by the way, here's the --
CORTES: This is part of the paradox, is that, you know, you and many on the left are accusing the President of having these authoritarian --
COOPER: Hey, I'm not on the left. But, go ahead.
CORTES: OK. Well, of having authoritarian tendencies when in fact if there are actually state -- well, the supposition of the question is that he has authoritarian tendencies, that he's been willing to --
COOPER: No, I'm just wondering if --
CORSTER: -- somehow resist.
COOPER: He says that millions of illegal votes were cast in California and there's no evidence of that. He formed a commission about it that had to disband because they couldn't find anything. So it's not like made out of whole cloth, he's talking about a coup and I'm surprised you're talking about a coup, as well.
CORTES: OK. OK. Look, when our national security -- when the national security apparatuses of the United States are weaponized for political purposes, I define that as a coup. And when you have the absolute top echelon of the Obama, DOJ and FBI using national security as a pretense to spy on an opposition campaign and then at our incoming president and to try to delegitimize him, that are my definition.
COOPER: So, there was no national --
CORTES: It's absolutely a coup.
COOPER: OK, Kirsten?
POWERS: I just -- first of all, Webster's dictionary would disagree with you. OK. Nothing that has occurred comes anywhere near being a coup. Let's talk about the fact that the President thinks that he's been robbed of two years. Bill Clinton was under investigation for what started as Whitewater and ended up, you know, into this crazy, you know, situation going through his sex life was for five years, OK? So please spare us this idea that somehow he's been robbed of something. Bill Clinton managed to work with Congress, you know, passed legislation, be a president during all of that and didn't act like anybody was owed something.
The second problem is invoking reparations. Reparation is to repay black people who were kidnapped and enslaved, brought to the shores and built literally our entire economy and our entire country. So to invoke reparations over something like that is literally, that's the biggest outrage of what has happened today and I don't know how you could have done that.
CORTES: OK. So what you're doing there -- Kirsten, what you're doing there is you're actually combining the two smears. So not only is the President a racist, he's also authoritarian. Look, obviously --
POWERS: You're the on person who's mentioned authoritarianism. I'm talking about the fact that he says -- that he retweeted something --
CORTES: Refusing to leave office --
POWERS: -- saying that he should get an extra two years as reparations. Reparations is used to --
CORTES: OK, and it's a joke.
POWERS: Oh, so slavery is funny? Slavery is funny? That is what you're saying?
CORTES: Now, who mentioned slavery? Slavery is not part --
POWERS: What do you think reparations are for?
CORTES: You're injecting slavery into it.
POWERS: What do you reparations are for?
CORTES: The word reparation has meaning outside of only slavery.
CORTES: There could be reparations for all kinds --
COOPER: But you just said it was a joke, which means -- you're saying it was a joke, which means it's actually referring to --
CORTES: It's an exaggeration to make a point.
COOPER: -- slavery reparations and that's what the joke of -- I guess is.
CORTES: No, not remotely. No, no, no, don't. Don't put words in my mouth, Anderson.
COOPER: I'm not.
CORTES: I'm saying that at all.
COOPER: I don't understand how is it a joke then?
CORTES: I'm saying it's a joke that he deserves those years back. It's clearly an exaggeration that he deserves those years back as reparation for having those -- for having to deal with the Mueller probe. It has nothing to do with slavery. It has nothing to do with race.
POWERS: But, Steve, he -- it actually has everything to do with it.
CORTES: This isn't -- what you all are doing right now --
POWERS: Steve, Steve, hold on.
CORTES: -- is exactly what I'm talking about.
POWERS: No, Steve, Steve, he says in the tweet now I support reparations. He is clearly referring to the conversation that's going on in this country right now about whether or not there should be reparations.
[20:45:05] And the conversation that's happening right now is about slavery, OK? So, don't try to act like that's not what it was in reference to.
COOPER: All right, let's leave it there. Kirsten Powers, Steve Cortes --
CORTES: I have no idea what -- that that was remotely what it was in reference to. What I am saying, which I think is important for this country, is that we cannot -- if you want to take on the President and beat him in 2020, take him on, on his record and his policies, not on smears and supposition such that he will not leave office if he loses.
POWER: We don't work for the DNC. I don't know what you're talking about. It's not -- that's not what we're talking about here. Were not talking about how to beat Donald Trump, we're talking about what happened today.
COOPER: Yes. All right, well, let's leave it there. Kirsten, thank you. Steve, thank you.
Still ahead, the baby announcement heard around the world, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the proud parents of a baby boy. That's about all they told us. Why all the secrecy? Details in that in a moment.
COOPER: Well, it's a boy. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ended months of speculation this morning when they announced the birth of the latest heir to the British throne. The big news was delivered less than an hour after Buckingham Palace announced that the Duchess of Sussex have gone into labor.
[20:50:05] Now in a break from tradition, the royal couple posted about the birth on their Instagram page and revealed a few details, including the baby's weight, a healthy 7 pounds 3 ounces. We still don't know the baby's name, but one thing we do know is that the new dad is incredibly happy and over the moon. He could not stop smiling as he spoke to reporters outside of Windsor Castle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Meghan and myself had a baby boy early this morning, a very healthy boy. Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It's been the most amazing experience I could ever possibly imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the prince also hinted we may get to see the baby on Wednesday. A lot to talk about with CNN Royal Commentator Victoria Arbiter. So, the naming -- first of all, is it true that this baby will have dual citizenship or is open to have dual citizenship?
VICTORIA ARBITER, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's automatic. And actually at the moment, Meghan still hasn't gotten her British citizenship. She has to follow all the regular rules and protocols that anyone else applying, so it could be another five years or so before Meghan is officially British. So, yes, this baby will have dual.
COOPER: And names, when does that happen?
ARBITER: Well, it can be anything from a couple of days to three weeks. It's been as long as that. But I think --
COOPER: Have they already named the baby and we just don't know about it or we don't know?
ARBITER: They've probably named it or they've come up with a couple of close contenders, but I think Harry and Meghan, they're going to be keen for this media circus to die down as quickly as possible for them to have their privacy. So, we're expecting the photographs of the family altogether on Wednesday. I think it likely will get a name then.
COOPER: They also are really trying to kind of extend the boundaries of what is off limits to reporters. I mean, they haven't already done a lot of traditional things that others would.
ARBITER: They really are establishing their need for privacy. I mean, everything around this, even the birth announcement that was pretty in the (INAUDIBLE) at Buckingham Palace, that's a very traditional maneuver, but normally it's signed by team, the medical team that assisted. This one wasn't. There's a newspaper report out really late tonight in the U.K. suggesting that the baby actually was born in hospital. Buckingham Palace is refusing to comment.
COOPER: So they haven't even said where the baby was born?
ARBITER: No. Now, those details will come out on the birth certificate, which could be anything from a couple of days, perhaps two days from now, so eventually we'll know. But I think this is Harry and Meghan saying, look, this is private personal information and we'll share what we want to share.
COOPER: It's also just so -- I mean, to see him so happy and, you know, I mean, I don't know the guy but, you know, you can't help but feel the joy that he is feeling.
ARBITER: It was infectious, wasn't it? I mean, saying that announcement, he even thank the hosts' at the end of the interview. I mean, this is a man that just, yes, he's sleep deprived. He's been up all night already, but just the sheer joy you can feel it.
COOPER: I don't think he should be complaining with, you know, at least not to Meghan.
ARBITER: Well, no, no, no. She's the one who pushed out a 7 pound 3 ounce baby. But I think you could just feel the euphoria coming through.
COOPER: Yes. I will say I feel very tight, you know, to Prince Harry because he waved at me during -- when you and I were covering --
ARBITER: He did. He looked right up at you.
COOPER: You saw it. You saw it, did you?
ARBITER: I did. I witnessed it.
COOPER: Oh, good.
ARBITER: I did.
COOPER: You have to sign an affidavit because nobody in my life believes that this happened.
ARBITER: I think I got a picture of it.
COOPER: The picture I have is very grainy, you can't see. Well, let's see. Wait, someone -- I'm told that we have it. Do we have it? No? Oh.
ARBITER: Oh, here he comes.
COOPER: Wait, that was the aftermath.
ARBITER: Yes. No, I've got it. He looked right at you. He waved. He waved.
COOPER: Yes, he waved right after me. Yes, he did. Good, there was moment. We totally shared a moment. ARBITER: Yes, he did. He did.
COOPER: Victoria Arbiter, thanks very much.
ARBITER: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it. Oh, yes, maybe that was it.
All right, let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the hour. Hey, Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Cool. You really get deep into the feels about the new baby.
COOPER: I'm excited about him.
CUOMO: You do.
CUOMO: You really, you know, you really feel like, you know, there's a real connection there. You're really into that. What do they called it in the baby game? I think they call it Neyatni (ph) when you start like really just vibing on people having baby.
COOPER: Really, Neyatni, I've never heard that.
CUOMO: Yes, no, I think so. I think I read it somewhere when I was trying to learn how to be a parent. They don't really give you a good book, so you just got to stumble around and then have experience crush, you know, like a bug. I love it. I love what it means as a first and I love that it's just good news. I hope they get to insulate themselves a little bit.
CUOMO: Obviously they're in a bubble, but it's beautiful. Back here on earth, however, what we're dealing with is how far this President can pervert the law for his own political interests. He's now using the Treasury Secretary and the A.G. What will Congress do? Steve Cohen is here, the chicken chopper (ph), and we'll see what he wants to do about it with that Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
COOPER: He was talking about like sending the sergeant of arms to lock him up.
CUOMO: He was.
COOPER: Let's see if he's still (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: In between bites he was.
COOPER: All right. All right, we'll chat down on that later. Chris, thanks very much. That's five minutes from now. We'll see you then.
Up next, President Trump rounding the corner picking up to speak, crying foul over the Kentucky Derby of all things in the most Trumpian ways and headed for the finish line on tonight's "Ridiculist."
[20:57:13] COOPER: Time for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, a horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless of course that horse, of course, has sent the President of the United States into a feet of range then it's a whole freaking thing.
As you probably heard, there was a little bit of controversy at the Kentucky Derby this weekend. The first horse to cross the finish line, Maximum Security, which was definitely not named after the prison, Michael Cohen checked into today, was disqualified on a technicality and a horse named Country House which probably was named after Michael Cohen's prison was named the winner.
And in keeping with this practice of having nothing better to do out came a tweet from President sea biscuit, "The Kentucky Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did not win the Kentucky Derby, not even close."
All right, so as usual, I don't really know where to start. Now, remember when they used to give Mr. Ed peanut butter so it would look like he was talking on T.V.? This is sort of like if Mr. Ed had a Twitter page and inhaled a jar of Skippy. And before we even get to the political correctness part, which I already prepared for by chugging freeman (ph) tulips, let me get this obvious point out of the way.
The President of the United States seems to have a lot of time on his hands and he can't even stand some horses getting uninterrupted air time. He's got to be apart of every freaking news cycle. He can't help himself.
Look, I know we know this already, but let me get something straight, President Trump is upset because the more popular candidate or horse, the one everyone expected to win didn't win because of an old tiny rule? Is it just me or does this all sound vaguely familiar and like something the President actually supports in other non-equine situations?
Anyway, let's just stipulate that when it comes to Twitter, especially on weekends or, you know, Monday through Friday, the President's saddle is a little loose, if you know what I mean. But still, this part about political correctness baffles even the savviest of Trump whispers.
I mean, sure, he probably thinks secretary with some U.N. hack and that national velvet is a gorgeous classy American made fabric is getting screwed by tariffs, but it's tough to see why this particular go to grievance was on his mind unless just before the derby he learned that black beauty was not only black but also Arabian.
To be fair, it's not as if the President is unfamiliar with horses or at least where they hangout and the bonds they form. He's been there, in the muck and the straw, just him and his pal, Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stable mates and we did very well that night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There are no stables at 60 Minutes. I actually worked there. There's no foreign hands. There's no piles of hay. There no even a green room, more that President Trump and Putin what a muzzled means and munch on carrots. The question now is does President Trump have any support for his claim?
And I'm going to out of the limb and say that Vice President Pence is going to take a hard pass on anything involving a bunch of limber jockeys and tight pants and boots carrying riding crops, talking in words like stud. So, as ever only President Trump can explain what following rules has to do with political correctness. Remember, rules are for losers, so if the horse shoe fits, wear it on "The Ridiculist."
That's it for us. The news continues. Chris Cuomo with "Prime Time" starts right now. Chris?
CUOMO: Black beauty is not only black, she's also Arabian. Well done AC, very well. Well done. Thank you, sir. All right, all right. Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time."