Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Keeps Up Attacks on Democratic Congresswomen; Greenland to Pres. Trump: We're Not For Sale; Hundreds Of People At Services For El Paso Victim After Widower With No Other Family Invites Anyone To Come; Stephen Colbert On Living With Grief And Loss; Woodstock At 50: A One-Hour Special, Tomorrow At 9pm. ET. Aired on 8- 9p ET
Aired August 16, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:23] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
The end of another difficult and turbulent week, we begin tonight keeping them honest with what President Trump has been doing lately to calm the waters, to heal the divisions and give people a reason to believe that things will be better if we can all just pull together. I'm kidding.
Today, one of the two congresswomen he persuaded the Israeli government to keep out of the country as part of his apparent vendetta against him turned down an offer to let her in for a visit with her grandmother who was in her 90s, and lives on the West Bank. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said no to conditions that would have barred her from airing views about boycotting Israel. She and Ilhan Omar are as you know two of the four congresswoman of color whom the president has been attacking repeatedly.
There are also whatever you may think of politics or political talents legislative back benchers, who only occupy the nation's mind space, the national mind space that they do because the president targeted them. But this is what the president wants. He wants the diverse, the diversion from the real concerns over the economy, diversion from the rash of gun violence we've seen over the past few weeks and he wants division.
He wants to cast Congresswoman Tlaib and Omar as foils and the endless drama of us against them, never mind the consequences, consequences that some experts warn, such as fracturing the bipartisan tradition of support for Israel and instead, promoting the notion that Israel should root for one side or another in the U.S. elections, consequences such as setting a president for using a foreign power albeit an ally to punish political adversaries at home, things that no president has done until now. I mean, bringing a foreign power, getting a foreign power to punish your political adversary in the United States, that's unprecedented.
All presidents until now, even the vindictive ones have managed to steer away from division towards consensus whatever possible. There are have been exceptions, Richard Nixon silent majority speech, for example. But by and large, presidents choose consensus when they can, certainly because that's where the votes are but also because that's what leaders do, what they always have tried to do.
This on the other hand is not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They said horrible things about Israel and Israelis. I think would be a terrible thing frankly for Israel to let these two people who speak so badly about Israel come in and they have become amazingly the face of the Democrats, the Democrats don't want to do anything to condemn them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, actually many Democrats have condemned their words even as they defend their right as legislators to do their jobs, and it's hard to see how acknowledging that would harm the president, except by depriving him of a chance to steer up hate. Leaders who are not trying to rule by division and manipulation are generally honest about their adversaries because in the long run it builds trust and credibility which are good things to have. Just as it's good when the economy falters, for their leaders to acknowledge the policies that they back, and neither explain why they should continue or be altered.
Leaders don't try to use the anxiety that so many people may now be feeling to bully them into submission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But you have no choice but to vote for me because your 401ks down the tubes, everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wow. That's an inspiring message, although it's really not anything new. Remember the whole only I can do it, only I can save you during the campaign?
Nor do leaders tweet, and I'm quoting now, the fake news media is doing everything I can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my reelection.
So, we're going to keep that on the screen to take it in for a moment. That's basically -- there it is back again. That's a three-for. That's got division, it's got deflection, and it's got projection all in one tweet. It's pretty remarkable.
The point is, if it fires up the base for this president or merely comforts his ego, if it divides the country or loses and votes, it's OK. Better than that, it's good and along those lines, he just returned to attacking Congresswoman Tlaib on Twitter. We're not going to read the tweet. We mentioned it to point out he's exactly proving our point.
Joining us right now is Maggie Haberman, "New York Times" White House correspondent, and CNN political analyst, who has some great reporting on how the president is handling what could be softening of the economy.
I mean, this fight he has now or issue of Israel and these congresspeople, it's kind of everything the president wants. I mean, it distracts and divides.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's -- what it is it's basically a nuance-free area where everything is an up-down referendum on him basically and he now has a partner in that in the form of Bibi Netanyahu and Israel.
[20:05:00] This is, as you said, unprecedented but you made the point that normally people go for consensus because that's where the votes are.
Donald Trump has made the decision that that's not where the votes are, it's not as if he doesn't know what he's doing. It's not as if he's not aware of what his language does. He's made the decision that doing these acts and trying to target these four congresswomen as -- and make them the face of the Democratic Party, they are not the face of the Democratic Party. And to be clear, he will have a nominee at some point who is facing off.
But in the meantime, to try to elevate them, he is decided that this is in his interest and that there is more gain than damage to him.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, last night, he was talking about, you know, there are socialist and communist. The whole communist thing is -- it's kind of amazing.
COOPER: I mean, it's a very 1950s, you know, Roy Cohn thing to say.
HABERMAN: And it's meant to -- Roy Cohn, of course, was his mentor.
COOPER: Right. Of course, yes, sure.
HABERMAN: One of the people he learned politics from.
COOPER: And helped him get into Studio 54.
HABERMAN: That's true. I forgot that important bit. Thank you.
COOPER: In the league with those folks.
HABERMAN: No, no, it's good.
Look, he has decided as I said that there is no cost. It's basically cost-free for him to do this and as we know, look, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment has been a hallmark of his campaign from 2016.
HABERMAN: He actually continued it with the travel ban. He did it less so in his rhetoric. He said to you in I think one of the most notable interviews he gave in 2016, I think Islam hates us.
HABERMAN: And that continued to be I think something where he was pretty candid about where he sees this, focusing on Congresswoman Omar and Tlaib, have a purpose in that respect. They are trying to turn this, the White House, into some kind of a binary of Israel as a wedge issue. And we really -- we have seen that before in politics but not this front in center and not done this way.
COOPER: Right. I mean, so what is interesting with the thing with Israel is that again, it is the president of the United States getting a foreign ally who, you know, a Democratic and Republican administrations have continued the policies of giving huge amounts of money to, to interfere or to help the President Trump go after political opponents in the United States.
I mean, again, it's -- I mean, you know, they are concerned about alliances with Russia or collusion with Russia, this is reaching out to a foreign power. Yes, they are our ally but it just -- for help in this.
HABERMAN: It is -- it is unprecedented and to your point about with Russia, as well. So much of what happened with that investigation as it was being looked into whether there was conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the president said all kinds of things out loud that clearly related to the investigation. And that was often what his aides would say is he's talking about it in public. There is nothing hidden.
It's the same thing here. He went and tweeted about this. We had heard he was talking about it. It's got on his radar, this trip, several weeks ago. He was talking about how they shouldn't be let in.
He told me yesterday when he was getting ready to travel to New Hampshire, when I asked him if he had spoken with Bibi Netanyahu, he didn't want to say who he spoke to but he spoke to people about it. So, at least, he's saying that he had, you know, a hand on the scale on this.
COOPER: Right. And that's what is interesting because when he answered that question to you, I didn't actually realize that was you. I heard your voice in there. The White House press secretary earlier in the day had said that all the reports about, you know, the president trying to pressure Israel to do this and there had been reports about the president's private believes had filtered up to the highest level of the government there in Israel. I mean, his own words undercut what she said and what the president had said previously.
HABERMAN: I have a hard time thinking of the White House aid who he hasn't let go out on a limb for him and then he has sawed it off later in the day. So, I think that was consistent like that and not a surprise he wanted credit for this.
Whether this is going to be effective long term I don't know. But the White House believed for quite sometime the congresswoman are problematic for the Democratic Party as a whole. We've seen Democrats struggle with how to address certain comments from some of them and this has split the Democrats, you know, they have come together much more than they had but they are trying to basically make other Democrats have to embrace them or divorce themselves from them thinking that creates problems, too.
COOPER: You were up in New Hampshire last night and wrote about how some of the president's supporters feel unease about the economy. I'm wondering what you heard and also what you hear how the president is thinking.
HABERMAN: Sure. So, my colleague Kathy Rogers is in the audience and heard from die-hard supporters what is happening with the stock market, what's happening with global slowdown is concerning them. One of them said, look, I got all my money in stocks. This is worrisome to me.
The president -- everything is all about the economy for him. Since he took office, since the stock market kept going up despite predictions it wouldn't, he has looked it as his poll. He's seen it go up when he's told it wouldn't and that is reassuring to him.
He knows I think on some cellular level that presidents tend to get reelected when economy is good and they don't when it's not. And so, he's very attuned to this. What he is not doing is seeing himself as to blame in any of it or any of the actions he has personally taken to blame. So what he's -- it's everyone else's fault including you talked about this before, you know, the media is trying to crash, these people are trying to crash the economy. That way it's also hidden hand trying to get him.
COOPER: All right. Maggie Haberman, thank you very much. Great weekend.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, we'll focus more closely on the cultural hot buttons the president has been pushing for years and the growing consequences of what he's doing there.
And later, why the president wants to buy the country even though there isn't any beach front property on it.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Before anyone tweets, I misspoke before the break. Greenland is not known for beach front property. There are, in fact, a number of beautiful beaches there. I've actually been to Greenland, although it was icy where I was.
President Trump as we mentioned has just renewed his attack in Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. He's also suggested that you'll recall she go back to where she came from which she first couldn't and now says she won't. In any event, the fact the president continues to take verbal shots at her is part and partial of his M.O., namely stirring division, Maggie Haberman said some of this may be explained by the president's personality. He does what he does because he is who he is.
And in 2016, one consequence of that was he won the election. These days, though, the consequences are already taking different forms, some of them arguably dangerous or concerning.
I want to talk with the "New York Times" contributing op-ed writer and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali, and Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, currently CNN political commentator.
Wajahat, the tactic of cultural division, the president started using it basically minutes after he came down the escalator four years ago, should anyone be surprised that he's still using it now? It certainly helped him get here.
WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Racism is the feature. It's not the bug. This is a racist president.
I mean, you have to look at the entire career for the past 40 years. What did he say when he came down the elevator? Mexicans are rapist and criminals. They don't send their best.
This is a man who promoted the Obama birther conspiracy theory, which is racist to its core, saying that President Obama, who is a black man, is a foreigner, who's an other, right?
This is a person who doubled down in the midterm elections, Anderson, in 2018. He could have run on the economy. He could have run on jobs. He decided he wanted to run on the invasion. A white supremacist conspiracy theory, by the way, that says that George Soros, a Jewish billionaire, is funding immigrants who are invaders, the Middle Easterners.
So, this is par of the course. Like you said, it's divide, distract, repeat, and let's not forget it's been a month, last month he told four congresswomen of color, including Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to go to their own country. He did not say that to Bernie Sanders who, by the way, is a Democratic socialist.
He then attacked Baltimore, right? He said it was a place where no one would want to live. He attacked Congressman Cummings. Never attacked Kentucky or the Appalachian counties which have immense crime and drugs, and he has said that black and brown people come from S- hole countries, why can't they come from Norway.
I've gone in Norway. I have Norwegian friends. I have nothing against Norway, but Norway is so white, Anderson, that my teeth became white in Norway.
This is who he is. He's a racist president and I look forward to Scott now making excuses for him. COOPER: Well, Scott, I mean, the tactics, they have certainly been
effective. Are they racist? Are they is there a cost to them if you believe they are not racist? I mean, beyond working, are they wrong?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the president tries to draw clear lines between himself and people who have been hardest him since he's become the president. I think there is no doubt that his ardent opponents in the Congress are the members of "The Squad". They want to impeach him, they want to throw him out of office, they want to see him, you know, probably jailed once he leaves office.
And so, when these people make themselves known, his political enemies, he never lets an attack go un-countered. So, I think some of these flare ups are simply have mostly to do with the president fighting back against the people who are fighting him.
I disagree with much of what fellow CNN contributor just said. I would point out, though, that this president has done some things that I think run counter to the narrative that he was selling, and I think he needs to continue to do that frankly.
The way you counter some of this narrative that he's a divisive president is to try to achieve some accomplishments that his predecessor, President Obama, couldn't do. He's got one great on criminal justice reform. The next great one get could be on gun reforms. If he stays the course on this and gets something done, that will help him counter these narratives I think that he's divisive, when he can show some accomplishments that have him bringing people together.
COOPER: Scott, there's plenty of people in Congress, though, Democrats who are opposed to the president, who the president could have chosen to go after. You were saying you think it's just that you were vocal as opposed to the coincidence they are four women of color, to them are Muslim, you don't think that has anything to do with why he is elevated them above -- I mean, they are basically freshman Congress people. They are back benchers.
JENNINGS: Do I need to go back through the list of the white males he slandered and slaughtered in the Republican primary for president back in 2016? This president has never not attacked another person who has attacked him in politics, period. White, black, male, female, congressmen, governor, senator, whoever Republican, Democrat, he takes on all comers.
Now, sometimes this language gets him in trouble and sometimes it works through his advantage, but I don't see any -- I don't see him parsing out opponents. Anyone who fights him, he fights him back. It's been that way since came down the escalator.
COOPER: Right. I mean, Wajahat, he's not telling Nancy Pelosi to go back to where she came from.
ALI: Didn't tell Bernie Sanders to go back to where he came from. Didn't say white people come from S-hole countries. Ken Cuccinelli is rewriting the poem at Statue of Liberty, right?
[20:20:02] Apparently, the Statue of Liberty is for wealthy white people, which by the way would include Irish Catholics, Italians and Eastern European Jews if they know their history because they weren't considered white.
I mean, come on, let's cut the crap. You don't even need a spine to call it racism. You need to be an ameba, right? You can just be an ameba and call out his racism, Scott. Just call him out. You know this is wrong. I'm not asking much from you.
But you've seen the attacks. We don't have to go back 30 years. Just in the past month, his attacks on Baltimore, his attacks on Elijah Cummings, his attacks on the congresswomen of color, compare and contrast it to what he does not say to any white male because he's the president, not of America but of his base and his base is increasingly white men who wear red hats.
He has to be the president on all Americans and said a lot of people in Charlottesville are very fine people. I haven't forgotten that. I keep the receipts, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. We got to leave it there. Wajahat Ali, Scott Jennings, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, Trump palace, Trump SoHo, Trump Greenland? Sources telling CNN the president has been interested in America purchasing the large, sparsely populated yet beautiful island to our way north. The question is, is he serious? Also, how much would Greenland actually cost if available?
Plus, we'll show you more my interview with Stephen Colbert, including his thoughts about the Democratic presidential candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I was going to talk about Democratic presidential candidates but after this.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: They're all great.
COLBERT: All of the Democratic candidates are fantastic. I would vote for any of them. Any of them.
COOPER: But, you know, interesting --
COLBERT: (INAUDIBLE) De Blasio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:25:29] COOPER: Two sources tell CNN President Trump has not only brought up the idea of the United States buying Greenland, the large ice covered island to our Northeast, the White House counsel's office has looked into the possibility of actually doing it. Greenland, which is nominally controlled by Denmark, says it is not for sale. This is a story first reported by the "Wall Street Journal".
While, you know, many may find it funny and have used it to take shots at the president, the purchase actually is not totally out of left field. We have already a base built, a base there built during the Cold War. President Truman allegedly tried to buy the island because it had and still does have strategic value.
So, the question is this the president's motivation or something else?
Joining me now to talk about it, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, also, CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Tim Naftali.
Dana, I'm not sure you woke up this morning thinking Greenland was going to be the topic you're talking about. But I'm wondering what you're hearing about it, what you think about it.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the first thing you think is oh, so he's going to buy it and put it -- and call it Trumpland with giant gold letters? When you think of Donald Trump and think of buying an island, you do kind of chuckle about it.
But just as you said, if you peel back the layer and get past that, the fact that it is very Trumpian and very much focused on a legacy issue, it is as you said very strategic for the military and it is already a place the U.S. has some military and sort of assets there beyond the military, and it is a place that as you said past presidents have tried to buy.
So, you know, it's probably not going to be the Louisiana Purchase or anything of the sort, but it is not as crazy if you get past the notion of President Trump wanting to buy an island as it is at first blush.
Tim, I mean, you can look at it as well as sort of, even if it's -- you know, there is maybe geopolitical or strategic or, you know, natural resources reasons, you could also look at it as a presidential legacy play. I mean, that -- you know, that he would be the president to have brought Greenland into our orbit.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Except that the Danes don't want to sell it and the Greenlanders don't want to become Americans. So, look, the two times we tried to buy Greenland, first was the 1860s trying to buy a lot of places. This is when we bought Alaska. We tried to buy Iceland.
COOPER: That worked out well.
NAFTALI: That worked out well, but the Russians wanted to sell.
NAFTALI: Wasn't true with Greenland, Iceland and we wanted to buy the -- what became the Virgin Islands, which we later got in 1917.
We tried again after World War II, but we tried again because there was a strategic reason to do it. And during World War II, we had a special relationship with Greenland because the Danish government had come under Nazi occupation there formed policy split and half of it did a deal to allow us to put our military in Greenland.
When the war ends, the new Danish government, the liberated Danish government said, you know, we don't really want your troops there anymore. The U.S. government said please, we really need it. We'll buy the island from you and the Dane said we're not selling it.
Denmark becomes part of NATO and as part of the deal with Denmark coming to NATO, they give us this big deal agreement, which is the 1951 agreement. So, we already have all the military access to Greenland we would ever want.
What is bizarre about the president's play. If he wanted to buy this, what is it he wants to get? There are 60,000 people, 88 percent of them are Inuit.
Is he telling me that -- telling us he wants a new Puerto Rico in the sense that he wants to bring people into a secondary citizenship relationship with the rest of the country? People of Puerto Rico have -- are citizens but they don't get treated. What kind of thing would he want?
The point is, he hasn't thought about it. I believe --
BASH: I was going to say that. Tim, the last couple sentences you uttered way more than he's gotten in --
COOPER: But there is a push by Russia and others, there is an under sea, you know -- I wouldn't say battle but just under sea movements going on for the seabed, you know, all of this, there is a race on for territory for assets.
NAFTALI: Yes. And there is a way to deal with this. We can compete and buy things in Greenland. They say they were open for business. We can help them build ports. The Chinese don't have to build the ports, we can build the ports.
But we already have a special military relationship with Greenland. It's not like we need something else. The only way we get Greenland now is if we occupy it, because the Greenlanders don't want us and the Danes aren't going to sell.
COOPER: Did you know all of this about Greenland before -- like you were booked for this or did you -- because you've been here studying (ph)?
COOPER: I mean, I've been to Greenland. I didn't know as much as you know. I spent like days there in an igloo.
NAFTALI: Two things about that, there are great resources online. The U.S. government, of course -- I mean, the U.S. foreign relations --
COOPER: No, but I like how you're riled up about this whole Greenland thing.
NAFTALI: Well, you know, remember, remember, remember, I spent a lot of time in Canada. I happen to know a lot about Arctic areas.
COOPER: OK. Well, that's cool. Dana, you don't seem as passionate on the subject.
BASH: Well, you know, I -- once we start talking about the diamonds and the gold and those other mineral-rich pieces of land that are underneath all that ice, maybe we would get a little more passionate.
But, you know, we're having this conversation and, again, it's a little bit tongue and cheek, but it's probably not as tongue and cheek as you would think when we first talking about it -- start talking about.
BASH: The other thing, just because we're having this conversation, why not? I mean, Greenland is, what, 80 percent ice. It's Arctic. And in all seriousness, that's going to start to melt. It already is starting to melt, and I mean, in a very dangerous way, even the United States government is saying that.
COOPER: You're worried about depreciation of the value?
BASH: I'm saying that maybe the President is thinking that there could be some beach front property there.
COOPER: All right. I'm sorry, we're done with this subject. Dana, thank you. I appreciate it for playing along, Tim Naftali, as well. We will continue to follow this. We'll bring you any updates throughout the next 30 minutes.
Up next, proof that love certainly travels. You have to see this story. One widower in El Paso, hundreds of strangers who brought their kindness to hand their love from all across the country. We'll explain, ahead.
[20:35:59] COOPER: We're looking at live pictures in El Paso, Texas. And you're looking the kindness of strangers. Tony Basco will -- is not alone. That's Tony right there hugging people he didn't know until today. He's saying goodbye right now to his wife, the love of his life, his everything.
And that our Gary Tuchman reported last night he has no other family and invited anyone to join him this weekend for his wife's funeral services. His wife, her name is Marjorie Reckard, she was one of 22 people killed in the Walmart shooting in El Paso. A funeral had to be planned. Her husband couldn't bear to do it alone.
They expect either anyone to show up, so he invited the world and the funeral home put it on their website and other people started tweeting about it and tonight, the world is answering.
Gary Tuchman is there. He joins us right now. Gary, to see these images of a man who, you know, before all this horror began, before this tragedy knew nobody other than the woman he loved and had been with and now to see him surrounded by the love of strangers who are now friends in ways is extraordinary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, if you ever started to lose your faith in humanity, this will bring it back. We are standing outside this large funeral home in El Paso. You saw the inside of this building where there are 500 people inside right now.
This is the line -- the waiting line people trying to get in. These are members of motorcycle clubs holding American flags. None of these people know Tony Basco personally. But in this line right that you're looking at, I have counted over 400 people waiting to try to get in.
They're not going to be able to get in because it is absolutely full inside and it's just amazing because this all began because Tony Basco lost, as you said, the love of his life, Margie. They've been married 22 years. She was one of the 22 people killed at the Walmart. He has no other family in the world.
He's lived a very difficult life. He was desperately sad and he said, "I just wish people would come to her funeral." There will only be a few people there when she's buried and this is the last of 22 funerals. There were tweets from members of the media, a Facebook post from the funeral home and all of a sudden, we see a total inside and outside of this church of at least 850 people.
And I just want to give you a look at this line how far it spreads. And keep in mind right now in El Paso, it is 99 degrees outside. And this is the line here. People waiting here with the fans and most of them are from the El Paso area and also nearby Mexico. But I've talked to people also from California, from Arizona, and from Utah who've driven here.
So the line continues over here, people with the fans, all knowing at this point, they've been told they're not going to be able to get in, but they don't want to leave. And then the line wraps all the way down in that direction.
We spent the day with Tony yesterday. He's such a nice man. And he told me that if so many people came, like they expected hundreds of people, which indeed is what happened, he'd be forever grateful. And I can assure you, Anderson, when he walked in to this building today, it's not officially a church, it's actually a large funeral chapel that is used by many denominations, when he walked in today and he looked at me and he said, "I can't believe there really are this many people here." He was so thrilled and honored and happy and it makes us very glad to be part of this. It really feels like this is what humanity is all about.
COOPER: Yes. It's extraordinary to see. It's just -- it's great. Gary, thank you. More of these kinds of stories we need.
We want to talk more now about love and loss from someone you might not expect. This week I sat down for more than an hour with the king of late nights, Stephen Colbert. The interview is going to re-air on CNN on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. So if you missed, I hope you get a chance because I think it's a really important -- there's a lot of really important things we talked about. I want to play some portions, most of which we didn't get to air during the actual special.
[20:40:01] We talked, of course, about communing the Trump era, but much of the interview is really about grief and it's about loss. Stephen and I both lost our dads when we were 10. Stephen's father along with two of his brothers, Peter and Paul, died in a plane crash in 1974. His mom died several years ago at the age of 92.
Stephen, through his strong faith, has spoken in the past about coming to terms with those losses and I asked him about that because I think the way he talks about it and has talked about it is extraordinary.
COOPER: You told an interviewer that you have learned to, in your words, love the thing that I most wish had not happened. You went on to say what punishments of God are not gifts. Do you really believe that?
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Yes. It's a gift to exist. It's a gift to exist. And with existence comes suffering. There's no escaping that. And I guess I'm either a Catholic or a Buddhist when I say those, because I've heard those from both traditions. But I didn't learn it that I was grateful for the thing I most wish hadn't happened, is that I realized it, is that -- and it's an oddly guilty feeling.
COOPER: It doesn't mean you are happy --
COLBERT: I don't want this to have happened. I want it to not have happened.
COLBERT: But, if you are really grateful for your life, which I think is a positive thing to do, not everybody is and I'm not always, but it's the most positive thing to do, then you have to be grateful for all of it. You can't pick and choose what you're grateful for. And then, so what do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people's loss.
COOPER: Well, that's your empathy.
COLBERT: Which allows you to connect with that other person.
COLBERT: Which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it's like to be a human being, if it's true there all human suffer. My parents' anniversary is around now. I'm not exactly sure. It's around now. 1943, I think. So, mom and dad would be 100 at this point this year or next year.
Anyway, we don't celebrate their anniversary. And I thought, why don't we celebrate their anniversary? We should celebrate their anniversary. Well for that matter, why don't we celebrate popsie and, you know, mimi's anniversary, my mom's parents? Why don't we celebrate their anniversary? Because we owe our existence to all of this people who came behind us and that anniversary was so important to those people. That was celebrated by everybody.
It seems odd that that important celebratory happy thing, then just gets lost by the next generation. We're not just talking about their history, but not necessarily celebrating their lives.
COOPER: Well, even their --
COLBERT: That's like a responsibility that we have, but you just can't do it all.
COOPER: I have to look up the date of my dad's birthday, but I can tell you his death day. And those are the days that, you know, I think about. And I think -- I feel like that's totally inverted and wrong that -- I have a friend whose better died by suicide and he was saying to me recently I had a cake for my brother's birthday and it just blew me away that he would do that. I mean, I like that idea, but it's not something -- I don't know. I'm not sure I can. I don't know.
COLBERT: I have a friend, Allison Silverman, who suggested that I light a candle on the anniversary of my mother's death every year and just think about her and I do that.
COOPER: I mean, I was going to talk about Democratic candidates, but honestly after this --
COLBERT: They're all great.
COLBERT: All of the Democratic candidates are fantastic. I would vote for any of them, any of them.
COOPER: But, you know, it's interesting when you talk --
COLBERT: Maybe not de Blasio. COOPER: When you talk-- I talked to Biden recently and I watch the interview that you do with Biden. And, again, communicating with him about loss and about grief, he is like -- you know, whatever you think of this politics, he is extraordinary in his ability and willingness to connect with you on loss, to connect with other people.
COLBERT: Cannot doubt that the guy has a good heart.
COOPER: Stephen Colbert on politics and grief. He's really an extraordinary guy and I thought it was an extraordinary conversation. I appreciate him taking the time. And we're going to show it again, "360" special hour, the Stephen Colbert Interview, Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I really encourage you to watch it on here CNN.
Still to come tonight, mud, music and given what else was going on, probably a lot of vague memories. I'm talking about Woodstock, the legendary music festivals 50th anniversary now. A look back in just a moment.
[20:48:53] COOPER: We are in the middle of the 50th anniversary celebration of Woodstock. Tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN, there's a special one-hour look at the chaos, the impact created by one of the most famous music festivals ever. Though we host this look back at the crowd, the mud, the famous acts that even if you were there, you may not have seen or maybe don't even remember. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could see it in the Oscar-winning documentary that by the time Jimi Hendrix ended Woodstock, it was Monday morning and only a few thousand dazed and dirty souls remained on what looked like a civil war battle field.
(on camera) But it was just the opposite. This was a peace field and 50 years later, it is hippy hallow ground.
(voice-over) Because right here in the middle of a cold civil war, nearly half a million people came together for three days, peace, love and music, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
It should have been a humanitarian disaster, but that weekend held enough human connection to shape generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:50:07] COOPER: And Bill Weir joins me now. That's my idea of hell, I just got to say. A field for three days with half a million people I don't know.
WEIR: No Purell.
COOPER: I mean, like Coachella seems awful to me. That -- yes, yes.
WEIR: Right, yes.
COOPER: Actually that seems better than Coachella, but --
WEIR: Yes, it does. And we have such sort of mythic reverence for it --
COOPER: Right, yes.
WEIR: -- which has evolved over the years. And I went back and tried to talk to as many people who played it and organized it, and went. And it was less about the music, it was more about this human connection piece of it.
You know, Woodstock isn't Woodstock unless the fences go down. I think it's worthless. They run out of food the second day.
COOPER: Do they -- they run out of food in the second day.
WEIR: They did, yes. So you had these guys from a commune in New Mexico, the Hog Farm, Wavy Gravy. It was like a hippie theme. They were getting trucks, donated food, cooking, handing it out. And so that is so bizarre. It is still countered to what you're used to.
COOPER: It feels like the -- yes, the forerunner of the Fyre Festival, there was actually music.
WEIR: There was actually music.
COOPER: And this was actually much better organized than the Fyre Festival.
WEIR: And I said to this generation, like you're complaining about cheese sandwiches, grandma was in the mud. What the hell happened?
But I wore my Ralph Lauren tie-dye shirt today as a symbol of, you know, some people saw this very hippie as a threat to descent society, but more capitalist saw them as a new --
COOPER: Did you tie-dyed that Ralph Lauren shirt? Is that a Ralph Lauren tie-dyed shirt?
WEIR: No. It came this way, and that's what happened, right? Live music is now a $30 billion business.
WEIR: And instead of selling or giving breakfast in bed to 400,000, they're selling it.
COOPER: I wonder if Ralph and Jerry Lauren were there, in that event.
WEIR: They might have been. They might have been.
COOPER: The -- it's amazing that so many things went right that it actually happened. I mean, everything could have gone wrong and a lot of it did go wrong.
WEIR: They had no venue 30 days before, a 150,000 ticket buyers are going to show up. And Max Yasgur's farm, famously, he was the sort of patron saint. He said, "Yes, you can have it here. I think your kids are going to be OK."
And they were jerry-rigging -- it was a whole exercise and improv (ph). They had to build a bridge from back of the stage, under the stage, and going like, "So, what should the load be? How much this Jimi Hendrix's way? How much is a groupie way?"
You know, like constructing the stage according to that, it should have gone off the rails. But two people died. It was the third largest city in New York City for a weekend. There was one overdose and one poor camper got run over by a tractor.
COOPER: Wow. Well, one of -- the co-creators, I think, the original co-creators who you spent time with, they were talking about wanting to do a new one. Is that going to happen?
WEIR: No, it's not. And we follow that because a lot of those same disasters repeated themselves 50 years later. But the times had changed, and the magic was gone. They couldn't overcome the obstacles.
They paid $32 million to Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus, and then company upfront, and in the end begged them to give some of it to charity because they just couldn't find a venue for it anymore.
COOPER: That's interesting.
WEIR: So that was part of the answer to the question. Could it happen again? Not this way.
COOPER: Bill Weir, thank you very much. I look forward to the CNN Special Report. I look forward to watching it, not (INAUDIBLE). I've been there. Woodstock at 50 airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It looks fascinating.
After the break, what did President Trump do to make up for never winning that Emmy he wanted so much? Well, he found a new award for himself. It comes with a big caveat. We'll explain on "The Ridiculist," next.
[20:56:56] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And probably when President Trump isn't heckling overweight supporters or trying to buy Greenland with a post-dated check from Deutsche Bank, he's piling up phony honors in his imaginary trophy case.
To with, last night, in New Hampshire the President claimed he was once named "Michigan Man of the Year." That's right, Michigan, the great state. I'm just up there a couple weeks ago for the debates. And according to world's most powerful former bankrupt casino magnet from Detroit to Grand Rapids, from the Upper Peninsula to Cal Mizzou (ph), the manliest man without a trade war plan is one Donald J. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In fact, five or six years before I even thought about running for whatever reason, they named me "Man of the Year" in Michigan. I said, "how come?" I didn't even understand it myself, but I was named "Man of the Year."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I know how that happened. It just happened. Funny thing is it never happened. So, not only is there zero proof that citizen Trump ever got that award, there's zero proof that award even exists. It's not a thing. Apparently he just made it up. It is the widespread voter fraud of man of the year prizes.
Finally, we have discovered all the voting fraud he's been talking about, because this thing doesn't exist. CNN reached out to the White House's part-time press office, which seems to basically be open from like noon to 4:00, three days a week, drive through only, for an explanation, big surprise. We got no response. Yes, I don't know. We're going to have to try to find old Sean Spicer.
I think he's on E.T. or is it Extra or Access? Which -- isn't he a special correspondent for one of those things? We'll look it up. I'll check Wikipedia.
As it turns out, the -- because he makes his own. As it turns out, the -- I don't know. I don't know why I'm saying that. The want to be mogul of Motown has been spinning this fool's gold story, this fool's gold record for years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In Michigan, they gave me an award six years, seven years ago. I had no idea. It was the "Man of the Year" in Michigan.
Because when I got the award, the "Man of the Year" five years ago in Michigan --
And I was "Man of the Year" in Michigan a number of years ago.
Because I was honored five years ago, "Man of the Year" in Michigan. That was a great honor for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Great honor. Well, it's just a great honor, "Man of the Year." I mean, I didn't know he'd been spinning this thing for quite some time. Again, this is the President of the United States, of all the holy grails in public life, he has the biggest one. He is drinking from that cup along with, apparently, the world's best at home meatloaf, if you believe what he told Chris Christie. You can Google it.
Yet for some reason, this President feels the need to invent bogus awards to inflate his net worth, to boast about beautiful letters from a murderous dictator, and for good measure, display sham magazine covers. Oh that's right, I'm bringing that up again, yes.
It's a phony "Time" magazine cover hang on the walls of at least five of the President's golf courses. Someone actually made that. Might have been undocumented, we don't know. Probably the President didn't make it -- what? I mean there's evidence of undocumented people worked at his resort, so it's possible.
It doesn't seem likely, though, that the President himself made that because, you know, "Time" is spelled correctly. As for the bogus "Michigan Man of the Year Award," according to a former Republican congressman, then citizen Trump gave a speech at a local county dinner back in 2013 where he most definitely was not named Michigan man of that year or any other year, but that's the best theory as to where the President first gave himself the invisible crown.
And if you're waiting for him to clear things up, good luck to you. In President Trump's world, every year is his year in Michigan, in Washington, and on "The Ridiculist."
That's it for us this Friday. The CNN Special Report, "The Age of Amazon" starts now.