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President Trump Tweets, Not Backing Down: "If You Are Not Happy Here, You Can Leave!"; Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is Interviewed About President's Racist Attacks. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

This would ordinarily be the place to say the president of the United States doubled down or tripled down today on his remarks over the weekend, tweeting that four non-white congresswomen should go back to their home countries, never mind that three of the four are native born Americans. It would be the place to play you their reactions to discuss how many Republicans condemn or failed to condemn their remarks, follow by questions about where this all fits into the president's strategy for appealing to the base.

And yes, we will get to all of that tonight, including what all four congresswoman had to say. But what is interesting is that any or all of those items might be, there are also things we talk about so we don't have to bring up something else, namely that what drives the president to say what he says is not just about politics as some have suggested. It's not just about winning votes or winning arguments, or repeating whatever he just saw on Fox News.

It's not three dimensional chess. It's really something much simpler, so simple, and frankly so ugly, that it is tempting to just take it as a given and then move on. To file it away as merely Trump being Trump, when that is really the whole point -- Trump being Trump.

What comes out of his month is a reflection of who he is and who he's been for as long as he's been a public figure. This for example is who he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are building a wall. He's a Mexican. We are building a wall between here and Mexico.


COOPER: That was the president two years ago, saying that an American born judge, an American has dual loyalties and cannot be fair because of his Mexican heritage.

Then, House Speaker Paul Ryan called that, quote, the textbook definition of a racist comment. In other words, it pits the president might be far better than his oddly long ties and expensive and yet ill-fitting suits is demagogue. President Trump has shown yet again that he is a demagogue. In case you are not familiar with the word, I'm quoting Webster's

Dictionary. A demagogue is a leader who makes use a popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.

So, with that in mind, here is what the president tweeted yesterday: So interesting to see progressive Democratic congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world, if they even have a functioning government at all, now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest in the most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime- infested places from which they came?

Now in point of fact, the countries in quotes that Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are from, that country is the United States of America. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a naturalized American citizen. He's from Somalia and has lived here since she was a teenager.

But a demagogue doesn't care about facts. The president labels them foreigners. The fact that they're all women and women of color only adds to his eagerness to label them as something other than American.

Now, if you believe the president's own words, these four congresswomen looked like the other. Now, sometimes, that other is the terrifying other, as he described when he first launched his campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending the people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.


COOPER: So, the message there, people looking for asylum, people looking to come to this country, they're not like you or me. They're other.

He added that he also assumed there were some good people, but a focus was clearly on the threat, on the other, which the president often describes as being in our midst, or which described using words like invasion or infestation, that latter of which was often used to describe Jews in prewar Germany, that so-called enemy within hiding in plain sight.

And even at the time, the president was saying those things, it wasn't especially new, and that's because the president, you'll recall, what now seems like decades ago, the president also smeared the first African-American president as the other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I would like to have him show his birth certificate. And can I be honest with you? I hope he can, because if he can't, if he can't, and he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility, I'm not saying it happen, I'm saying it's a real possibility, much greater than I thought two or three weeks ago, then he is pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.


COOPER: I mean, in other words, it's very possible he's saying there that the 44th president of the United States is a con man, which in addition to being textbook projection for Donald Trump to be calling someone also conman, gets us to the textbook definition of racism.

And I'm quoting again from Webster's, a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Norway, after all, isn't sending as rapists according to the president, Mexico is. And Kenya, they have sent a little baby con artist, and Africans according to a former Trump senior executive, can't be trusted around money in the president's eyes.

Barbara Res who's been on this program many times telling "The Atlantic", quote, Trump talked about how we didn't want black people handling his money, he wanted the guys with yarmulkes, he was very much the kind of person who would take people of religion like Jews or a race like blacks or nationally like Italians, and described them certain qualities. Blacks were lazy, and Jews were good with money, and Italians were good with their hands, and Germans were clean.

Again, the textbook definition of racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities. And again, this belief seems to extend both forward and back throughout the president's public life. His first appearance on the national stage was when the federal government sued the Trump family company for large-scale housing discrimination against people of color. He famously doubted and still duds the innocence of the Central Park Five, all non-white, despite DNA evidence and a confession from someone else.

But in the same token, and no pun intended, he could not bring himself to single out and condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville. And on more benign matters, the president seems to attach group characteristics to individuals, such as a stereotype and mistaken one that all African Americans are from the inner city, or is laughable as it sounds, that they also all know one another.

Here he is taking a question from April Ryan who is African-American.


APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Are you included Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus?

TRUMP: Well, I would. I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?

RYAN: No, no, no. I'm just a reporter. I know some of them but I'm sure --

TRUMP: Let's go set up a meeting.


COOPER: Now, again, none of this is new, he has been saying things like this literally for decades, they define who he is, it brings to mind another page from Webster's, the one of the word bigot, the person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

So, yes, to use the Washington phrase, the president doubled down on his racist attacks on four congresswomen because in a non-Washington phase that is just who he is.


TRUMP: If you're not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave. And that's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet which I guess some people think is controversial, a lot of people love it by the way, a lot of people love it.

But if you're not happy in the U.S., if you are complaining all the time, very simply you can leave, you can leave right now. Come back if you want, don't come back, it's OK, too. But if you're not happy, you can leave.


COOPER: Joining us now is Khizr Khan, a proud American citizen who emigrated from Pakistan. He is the Gold Star of the brave fallen American soldier, Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in the Iraq war in 2004. And, of course, many will remember, Mr. Khan spoke in the 2016 Democratic National Convention against then-candidate Trump's rhetoric. Soon after, Mr. Trump not only criticized Mr. Khan but also suggested that his wife wasn't allowed to speak in the convention because of their Muslim faith.

Mr. Khan joins me tonight now from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mr. Khan, you've been obviously the target of personal attacks from this president. I wonder what your reaction to these comments from him and him essentially doubling down on them today.

KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER: Anderson, thank you.

To Donald Trump, I say, sir, have you no sense of decency, when is this going to end? This demagoguery, this racism, this provoking hate and division for political expediency purpose, Donald Trump is at it again as he was in 2016. He has nothing to offer, therefore, he is going to create division and hate for political expediency purpose. I am -- I am saddened but not surprised because as you explained his background, he is a demagogue and he will continue to use hate and division for his political expediency purpose.

COOPER: I mean, I find it even awkward to say this but just on a factual basis, this is a man without any shame, he is unable -- he does not have a health care policy. He is not able to make progress on immigration and any sort of policy that actually solves the problem long term.

[20:10:11] And so, he does these things and it is largely in times to distract.

But it's not just distracting people, it's distracting people in the worst possible bigoted, divisive way. It's distracting people by turning us all against each other and viewing each other as other.

KHAN: Well, he sits in people's homes as leader of this blessed nation, yet he has nothing to offer. He promised immigration reform, health care reform and other claims he has made. He has made no progress because of his lack of leadership, yet he continues to sow hate.

This is a page from Putin's playbook, our adversaries are very happy to see him act as a enemy of the United States, he is acting as an adversary of the United States. This is our blessed country. This is our blessed nation.

This president who has taken the oath to defend the Constitution of the United States is assaulting, is attacking honorable members of the Congress, the members of the House of Representative institution of Article 1, he is supposed to defend and protect all of us, yet he continues to defend and continues to attack and assault these honorable members of our Congress and the minorities.

COOPER: It is also, I mean, it's the most obvious bumper sticker slogan of America love it or leave it, that, you know, sort of Archie Bunker used to use, that it has almost become a joke because it is so simplified and, you know, essentially an American to say that you disagree with me, then you are un-American, you disagree with me, you should leave the country, as opposed to this is a land that welcomes debate and free expression.

KHAN: This is the proof of an authoritarian mentality, undemocratic mentality. Fortunately, America has discovered him. America has realized the mistake they made in 2016, the day will end next time, they are very much cognizant of the harm that he continues to cause to our democratic institutions, our democracy, our decency.

This blessed nation is the same nation that instituted, that started after the Second World War when the world was totally distracted, started the Marshall Plan to construct the world, that is how the world sees us, continues to see, us of hope and beacon of prosperity and this president is contrary to that, of being a beacon of hope.

He will continue, it will get worse as he realizes his failures, as the election gets near, he will continue to get worse, his hate speech, his sowing division because he has nothing else to offer to this country. But this time, the nation has fully realized that this is a fraud that was committed by Donald Trump.


KHAN: They will not fall a second time for it.

COOPER: It is just extraordinary how silent many Republicans in Congress had been, how fearful they are of him. I mean, privately, they say one thing. Publicly, they say something else.

You know, Lindsey Graham was worried he's going to get primariedm, so he has completely reversed himself based on what he previously had said publicly about this president. And, you know, Ivanka Trump who, you know, wants to move in social circles, and jerry Kushner who betrayed themselves as deep thinkers and stuff, the fact that they're all standing there silently while this man just demagogues people of color or anybody that he views is different and cause them foreigners it is just extraordinary to me.

Mr. Khan, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.

KHAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, we'll talk to one Democratic congresswoman, the co-chair of the congressional progressive caucus who's speaking against the president's tweets.

And later, a Republican who also are and the vast majority who are not speaking out.

Plus, exclusive new details on Julian Assange's bizarre life in hiding inside the London embassy, something to see as you will only see here on these monitors from the embassy itself.

[20:15:02] We'll be right back.


COOPER: The four female lawmakers that President Trump targeted in his racist twitter rant this weekend spoke out about that just a few hours ago. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, used direct and as you'll see, stark language to rebut the president's attacks that were again not only racist but falsely labeled them as non Americans.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): This is a president who has said, grab women by the pussy. This is a president who's called black athletes sons of bitches. This is a president who has called black people who come from black and brown countries, shit holes.

[20:20:00] This is a president who has equated neo-Nazis with those who protest against them in Charlottesville. This is a president who has openly violated the very value our country aspires to uphold, equality under the law, religious liberty, equal protection, and protection from persecution. And to distract from that, he is launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States of House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color.

This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms or it's happening on national TV, and now it's reached the White House garden.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I am not surprised when the president says that four sitting members of Congress should, quote, go back to their own country, when he has authorized raids without warrants on thousands of families across this country. I'm not surprised that he uses the rhetoric that he does, when he violates international human rights and takes thousands of children away from their families. I'm not surprised that he has turned our public education system under the leadership of Betsy DeVos into to a cash cow to enrich himself and his friends. I'm not surprised when he corrupts via the secretary of transportation. I'm not surprised at what he is doing.


COOPER: Well, joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Congresswoman Jayapal, thanks for being with us.

You were not targeted directly by the president, but you are naturalized citizen. You're a woman of color in Congress. You tweeted in support of your colleagues who were attacked by him. How do you -- what do you make of how this continues to unfold?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, first of all, Anderson, I think all of us are attacked in personally in some way, because he said progressive Democrat congresswomen. It was clear he was talking about those four, but I will tell you, I got calls today from friends of mine who are naturalized citizens, Americans who have been in this country for many years, who said, I don't know what to tell my children. They see the president saying terrible things about their parents, and therefore about them.

And I think the impact of his words are deeply felt across the country, and they are also felt by people who remember their own connections to their immigrant history. So, this is a racist, vile, xenophobic ploy to speak to, I think, a small part of his base.

But this has been his playbook all along -- personalize, attack, and now he's even saying if you dissent, that somehow you should go back to your country, if you criticize the country, I think dissent is patriotic, and I think I was listening to my friend Mr. Khan earlier, I mean, this is a man a naturalized citizen whose son gave his life for this country.

And Donald Trump in his tweet is undermining everything that we hold dear in our Constitution and in our founding values.

COOPER: You know, I mean, if you look at what he said, it frankly echoes what mobs of people said to Irish Catholics who came to this country, you know, at the turn of the century to people from China who helped build this country and it's railroads.

JAYAPAL: That's right.

COOPER: To the generations of people who came from ghettos and from places all over the world. You know, time after time, they were told they weren't welcome here, go back to where they came from. And, you know, I mean, in this case the four women, three of them come from the United States.

The whole thing is -- it just -- it harkens back to a dark period in Americas past.

JAYAPAL: Yes, it does, and let's be clear that we know that history very well. And I think people still remember it from their parents and the grandparents, even if it is removed.

But also this is not something that doesn't happen today. I mean, I represent the Seattle area, and I hate to tell you but I've been told to go back to my country, particularly after 9/11 when I was defending the rights of Muslim Americans and Arab Americas who are being secretly detained and deported, particularly during that time I was told all the time to go back to my country, I was -- you know, got lynching threats and racist threats.

But now, it's coming from the White House. It is coming from the person who is the president of the United States. And I think that is so deeply terrifying and horrific, and I think what you said in your opening comments about this is Trump being Trump, and, you know, he almost wants us to not pay attention to it, but, of course, we have to call this out.

[20:25:06] I will just say I talked to a couple of my Republican friends because I couldn't sleep last night just thinking about all of this, and I thought about them and I won't name them right now, but I thought about a few Republicans across the aisle who I couldn't believe hadn't spoken out.

And I went on the floor just now and I found one of them and said, why have you not spoken out? And he said to me, you know, I even looked at my kids, we saw the hot, my kids looked at me because we had just gone to the Trump Christmas party, not Christmas party, the Trump whatever 4th of July party, and they got their picture taken with him, and they were looking at me, like dad? Is this OK? And I said, are you going to speak out?

And he tells me he is going to speak out, but the fact that there has been deathly silence, now a couple of people, but even from Lindsey Graham's attempt to just brand everybody a socialist and these terrible people, without really recognizing -- yes, he called the president to a higher ground, but he didn't say this is wrong. And we are going to put a resolution on the floor for a vote tomorrow, condemning the president's racist tweets, and I certainly hope that Republicans will join us in the great tradition of Democratic and Republican presidents who know that this country would not be here but not for the work of immigrants who came from all over the world.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, if memory serves, Lindsey Graham had called the president --you know, had called Trump bigoted and xenophobic I think a long time. Now, I mean, he's certainly no profile in courage to these days on this issue.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Still to come why there are still so few Republicans who want to go on the record and criticize the president's tweets. We'll take a look at that next.


[20:30:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're talking tonight about the President's racist tweets, his defense of them and the reaction from Democrats and Republicans are like. A small but substantial number of GOP lawmakers have condemned in varying degrees what the President said. Here's a sample.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): What was said and what was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying and frankly was very wrong.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): If you're an American citizen, then the United States is your home.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): The tweets are racist and xenophobic. They're also inaccurate. It's behavior that's on becoming the President of the United States and the leader of the free world.


COOPER: Senator Lindsey Graham saying the President should aim higher but attacking the congresswomen. Steve Daines, Congressman Jim Jordan defending the President. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying, "The President is not a racist." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment.

Joining us now is former Trump campaign adviser, Steve Cortes, and Wajahat Ali, contributing op-ed writer for "The New York Times." Both, thanks for being with us.

Steve, I know you do not approve the President's tweets. You tweeted yourself about that. You called them decisive -- divisive. I wonder where the definition of the word demagogue that I read at the top of the show from Webster's dictionary, it's a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. Is Donald Trump a demagogue? I mean, isn't this exactly what he is doing here?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't believe he's a demagogue. I did not appreciate the tweet and I said so earlier this morning. I'll say so again now.

COOPER: So he's not using -- he's not using people's prejudices in order to maintain and gain power?

CORTES: No. Look, it was -- again, I'm not defending the tweet. It was illogical. You know, Americans don't go back to anywhere, they're Americans, and it was divisive, and in a time that I don't think we need division. So I would like him, quite frankly, to retract it or at least to clarify it. But let me also point this out if we're going to talk about demagoguery and divisiveness. What we have seen --

COOPER: Well, actually, we're not talking about demagoguery because you haven't acknowledged this is demagoguery. So if you acknowledge this is demagoguery, I'm happy for you to talk about demagoguery of somebody else.

CORTES: OK. Well, I'm going to tell you what I think is actual demagoguery then. OK.

COOPER: How can you say this is not demagoguery --


COOPER: How can you say that this is not playing on people's prejudices about people of color, about going back to your homeland when in fact --

CORTES: Because he didn't mention color.

COOPER: Well, he doesn't have to mention color. Oh, you're right --


COOPER: So it's just -- you're saying it's random that he picked four people of color?

CORTES: No. When you disagree with people of color --

COOPER: Steve.

CORTES: -- that doesn't mean you disagree with them because of their color. In other words --

COOPER: And you tell them to go back to where they were come from?

CORTES: -- if somebody disagrees --

COOPER: If you tell a person of color to go back to the land they came from? CORTES: And, again, I already conceded that he shouldn't -- I already conceded that that was wrong to say.

COOPER: Why was it wrong?

CORTES: And he should, in my view, retract it and clarify it --

COOPER: So why was it wrong?

CORTES: -- because they're Americans, because they're Americans.


CORTES: And that's illogical.


COOPER: So by pretending they're not Americans, what is that?

CORTES: Anderson, did I get invited on the talk or do you want to do the talking?

COOPER: Yes. But -- well, I'm trying to get you actually give a straight answer. I mean, you're saying it's the --

CORTES: OK. Well, here's my straight answer.

COOPER: OK, go ahead.

CORTES: Here's my straight answer. I did not appreciate what the President did, OK, and I'm willing to say so as a clear supporter of his. I'm trying to be very honest here and call balls and strikes.

I also want to call out the demagoguery and prejudice of the left of Democratic politicians and their media allies in their insane over reaction to this tweet. And I will give you a very -- a quote, an actual example, from my colleague who I'm on tonight, from Mr. Ali. He tweeted, "Trump is a racist. If you still support him, so are you."


CORTES: Now, that to me is absolutely prejudiced.

COOPER: OK. So you call that --

CORTES: That is bigotry. But hold on, let me explain. I mean --

COOPER: OK. So you're taking a stand to called out demagoguery and prejudice on the left. You don't see any on the right. You don't see any from the President, but you see it on the left.

CORTES: It is bigoted. No, hold on.

COOPER: Let's bring in Mr. Ali. Mr. Ali, do you -- what do you make of Steve's argument? CORTES: To call me and to call tens of millions of Trump supporters' racist, OK, to dismiss and dehumanize us and marginalize us --

COOPER: OK, we understand. I understand. We hear you.

CORTES: -- that is bigotry.

COOPER: I understand.

CORTES: That is its own bigotry.

COOPER: Right. You are calling the left demagogues and racist. You're not saying there's any Republican who is, certainly not the President. Mr. Ali, how do you respond?

CORTES: I didn't say they're racist, I said they're bigots. If it's not racist, it's bigotry.

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: President Trump is a racist. And if you don't think he's a racist, then there's no such thing as a racist. President Trump has already said he's a nationalist and I think it's pretty clear after today's tweets. And if someone say --

CORTES: He is a nationalist.

[20:35:00] COOPER: Let him go.

ALI: Listen, after many tweets, he's a white nationalist and I would say he's a demagogue. He's a person who ran on the Obama birther conspiracy theory for the 2018 midterm.

Steve, you support a man who promoted a white supremacist conspiracy theory of Jewish money funding invaders, a caravan of immigrants, rapists and criminals, and your father and my father who are immigrants of color, your father came from Colombia, my father came from Pakistan, the white nationalist based of Trump that you support allegedly would see us as invaders.

And right now he just said go back to your country to four women of color, which is factually incorrect, because three of those women were born in this country, so he's stupid. And also, Ilhan Omar is a citizen and they're all women of color.

So, if you're unwilling to acknowledge and call out racism because apparently that's Voldemort (ph), because apparently calling out racism for being racism makes you a racist in this warped new mindset of Republicans, then you are complicit in (INAUDIBLE) and endorsing that Donald Trump is a racist and bigots.

COOPER: OK. I want Steve to --


CORTES: -- against somebody because of their political belief and when you dismiss tens of millions of Trump voters and when you say that we're all racist, that we are deplorables, that we're retrogrades, what you're doing is you're dehumanizing us and you're saying that because I don't agree with your political opinion, you are no longer legitimate in our eyes. And that is bigotry.

COOPER: And Steve --

CORTES: And if you can't realize that, then you're just not open to it, then you're so prejudice by your hatred of Trump that you can't see that you are acting in an extremely prejudice manner to dismiss us as a bunch of racists. I'm out of racist, but you tweeted that I am.

ALI: So your people --

COOPER: OK. Let Steve respond.

CORTES: You tweeted that I'm racist.

COOPER: Let Steve respond. I'm sorry, let Wajahat respond.

ALI: So the people who call out racism are racist, and when Donald Trump says racist things it's our fault because we call out the racism and hate, OK, number one.

Number two, I retweeted an article written by another individual for "The Daily Beast," but I stand by what I say that if you support Donald Trump's agenda right now in 2019 after everything that he's done, you might not be a racist, Steve. Let me say this, you might not be a racist, but you are fine with endorsing and supporting a racist president.

And you have to look yourself in the mirror right now in 2019, American, ask yourself, is it worth it? Why am I supporting a racist president? What type of country am I creating?

CORTES: OK. I'm saying that that's demagoguery. And by the way, if we want to talk about real racism in this country --

ALI: That's demagoguery. All right, Steve, that's demagoguery.

CORTES: -- I'm sitting right now in Chicago.

COOPER: All right. We got to go.

CORTES: There were 41 people shot in this city this weekend in a city that is completely controlled by blue city, blue state Democrats --

ALI: Last thing. Steve, they'll never love you.


ALI: The white nationalist will never love you no matter how hard you try to be the Latin face of Trump, they will never love you.

CORTES: I am not -- no, listen, stop saying white nationalist.

ALI: They'll never love you.

COOPER: We're going to continue this discussion --

CORTES: I support American nationalism.

ALI: They'll never love you.

CORTES: And, again, this is you being bigoted. You're being bigoted toward me.


CORTES: And to talk to me in that condescending manner --

COOPER: OK, so there's no bigotry -- the only bigotry, Steve, in your opinion is on the left. It is fascinating.


COOPER: Steve Cortes, Wajahat Ali, appreciate it.

ALI: Be best, Steve. Be best.

COOPER: The important discussion will continue. Thank you.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive, documents to show just how Julian Assange orchestrated the WikiLeaks release, those explosive e-mails from the DNC and the Clinton campaign in the run-up to the 2016 election, all while he was hold up in the Ecuadorian embassy.


[20:41:52] COOPER: Well, it was the document done very well could have changed the course of American presidential history in the run-up to the 2016 election. WikiLeaks spent days upon days releasing hacked e-mails from the members of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign that contained plenty of embarrassing details and drew worldwide attention.

During that time, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was hold up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and since then has consistently denied any connection at all with Russia in the WikiLeaks disclosures.

Well, now, in an exclusive investigation, CNN has uncovered a raft of documents outlining and in pretty remarkable detail Assange's time in the embassy and how he met with hackers and Russians tied to the Kremlin. Here's Alex Marquardt with that report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Ecuador's embassy in London turned into a command post for WikiLeaks at it's (INAUDIBLE), the website's founder, Julian Assange, who was living there in political asylum.

In stunning new detail, hundreds of security reports, videos and photos obtained exclusively by CNN and verified by an Ecuadorian intelligence official described how Assange release stolen Democratic e-mails directly from the embassy and who he met with, world class hackers and Russians tied to the Kremlin.

The explosive material when lined up with the timeline in the Mueller report paints a striking picture of how Assange orchestrated the game changing document dumps from just a few rooms in the embassy.

The exclusively obtained surveillance report show that the WikiLeaks' founder, who had been given asylum in 2012, wielded enormous power in the building, rivaling even the ambassadors with whom he would regularly clash. As these exclusive security photos show, he even got physical with the embassy guards.

The documents describe how Assange demanded and got high-speed internet, phones, even a special guest list that allowed certain visitors to not show identification or be searched.

Even as it hosted him, Ecuador hired three different security companies to carry out surveillance of Assange, including Spain-based UC Global, which compiled the reports obtained by CNN.

The never before seen cash of documents says Assange installed his own recording devices and used sound machines so he couldn't be listened to, all of which may have played a role in his election interference.

Assange has denied working for the Kremlin or receiving the stolen e- mails from Russia. WikiLeaks did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is temperamentally unfit to hold an office.

MARQUARDT: It was June of 2016 Trump and Hillary Clinton were the de facto nominees. It was looking like it was going to be a bitter election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft.

MARQUARDT: That month, according to the Mueller report, WikiLeaks communicated secretly with unidentified online personas who turned out to be Russian hackers. Meanwhile, the number of visits paid to Assange at the embassy dramatically picked up.

The reports exclusively obtained by CNN show one frequent visitor was this man, Andrew Muller-Maguhn, a hacker whom the special counsel wrote "may have assisted with the transfer of the stolen documents to WikiLeaks.

[20:45:06] ANDREW MULLER-MAGUHN, HACKER: If you look at the internet from perspective of people in power --

MARQUARDT: Muller-Maguhn had appeared on Assange's short lead show on R.T., the Russian T.V. network that gets its marching orders from the Kremlin. The security log show that R.T.'s London bureau chief, Nikolay Bogachikhin, also visited that month twice and during one visit that lasted only five minutes he gave Assange a USB drive.

Bogachikhin defended his visits to Assange telling CNN, "R.T. has produced multiple programming featuring Mr. Assange. Within that process, everything that is intrinsically involved in the production of content took place."

Muller-Maguhn declined to comment to CNN, but told "The Washington Post" he never had the hacked materials before they were released. But U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded R.T. actively collaborated with WikiLeaks, playing a significant role in Russia's efforts to help Trump win, which R.T. denies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russian hackers have breached the computer network of the Democratic National Committee.

MARQUARDT: On June 14th, 2016, the Democratic National Committee announced it had been hacked and accused Russia of being responsible. Trump dismissed allegations of Russian involvement, instead suggesting the DNC hacked itself. Five days later, according to the exclusive documents, Assange got new equipment for data transmission. The embassy security attache even helped him install it.

On July 6th, WikiLeaks reached out to the Russian hackers who used the names Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, those are covers the Mueller report says for Russian military intelligence.

The Democratic national convention is approaching, WikiLeaks warned the Russians, and Clinton will solidify Bernie Sanders supporters behind her. Eight days later, the group received encrypted files, according to the Mueller report, with the name big archive.

That same day, Assange met again for more than four hours with Muller- Maguhn, one of at least a dozen times they met at the embassy before the election, according to the security reports.

On the day the Republican national convention kicks off, the security photo show a man in a mask and sunglasses arriving at the embassy. A guard left his post and collected a package. The documents suggest this was an arranged meeting.

It's unclear whether that was related to a message sent the same day, July 18th, when WikiLeaks told the Russian hackers, according to the Mueller report, that they received the files and would release them this week.

Four days later, WikiLeaks released a trove of stolen files and all hell breaks loose. More than 20,000 e-mails from the DNC showing the preference of top officials for Clinton over Bernie Sanders. When the Democratic convention opened, it was consumed by chaos.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Everybody calm down, please.

MARQUARDT: The DNC chair had to step down and Trump pounced.

TRUMP: Russia if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. MARQUARDT: As the election entered its final weeks, Russia, according to Mueller, wrote WikiLeaks offering more files. "You won't be disappointed," the hackers wrote.

After receiving several files from the Russian hackers in the immediate days prior, WikiLeaks started posting 50,000 e-mails stolen from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, revealing infighting and bickering.

JOHN PODESTA, CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If this was about transparency, they put them all out. So, they're dribbling him out.

MARQUARDT: Mueller's team suspects that transfer took place on September 19th, the same day Assange met again with hacker, Andrew Muller-Maguhn, according to the security reports. In the last month before the election, WikiLeaks released batch after batch of Podesta's e-mails.

TRUMP: This just came out. WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

MARQUARDT: Transcripts of Clinton's paid speeches to "Wall Street," staffers criticizing her terrible instincts.

TRUMP: WikiLeaks, because WikiLeaks is unbelievable.

MARQUARDT: The U.S. government decided to get involved. According to a U.S. official and documents obtained by CNN, warning Ecuador stop Assange or there will be consequences.

Just three weeks before the election, Ecuador cut Assange off. No more phones, internet or guests. Shortly after, the embassy relented on guest restrictions and at 1:00 a.m. on October 19th, the security materials obtained by CNN show two WikiLeaks staffers showed up and took away about 100 hard drives.

Security guards wanted to examine the hard drives, but they couldn't. The WikiLeaks personnel were on that specialist of people not to be searched. One of the Ecuadorian ambassadors who worked at the embassy during Assange's stay told CNN he was never pressured by his government to give Assange special treatment.

[20:50:01] But this past April, Assange's world came crashing down. The asylum, his life blood was taken away by Ecuador's new president, siting his participation in the U.S. election meddling. British police carried him out of the embassy.


MARQUARDT: And the U.S. Justice Department unsealed secret charges, but not for anything related to the election, instead it was for soliciting and publishing classified Pentagon materials in 2010. Assange maintains his innocence.

And right on cue, Russia came to Assange's defense, top officials accusing the U.S. of violating his rights saying the hand of democracy squeezes the throat of freedom. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Alex Marquardt reporting. Fascinating.

Just ahead yet, another move by the Trump administration to further limit the ability of migrants to claim asylum in the U.S.


[20:55:07] COOPER: Let's turned into quite a night for news and the healthy debate of it, and there's more where that came from, no doubt. Let's check in with Chris to see what he's going to do for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Let's get after it. We'll be in full effect tonight, Anderson. We have the acting head of CBP, important conversations to have, about the ICE raids, the philosophy about it and the new asylum rule that the administration is coming up with.

Look, the politics behind it are the same as what he said in the tweet to the lawmakers, all right? The President sees advantage in playing on fears and prejudices and that's what this policy is about as well.

COOPER: Chris, we'll be watching. That's about four minutes from now. I'll see you then.

Just ahead, the Trump administration's latest moves to drastically limit the number of migrants, that Chris was talking about, who are seeking asylum in the U.S.


COOPER: One quick item before we go tonight. It almost seems fitting, the Trump administration today moved to dramatically limit the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum enacting a new rule barring those traveling through any third country from being able to claim refuge.

Since most people fleeing in the northern triangle countries, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, come through Mexico, this effectively closes the door to all of them. Again, this is for asylum. There are some exceptions, such as for those who have been traffic, but it is still a major, major cut back, but one that is all but certain to face legal challenges ahead.

And I know Chris is going to have more on that just a few seconds, so let's go over to him. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time. Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." T