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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

"The Atlantic": President Trump Told NRA Leader Universal Background Checks Are "Off the Table"; President Trump Downplays Recession Signs, Contradicts Aides By Admitting He's Weighing Payroll Tax Cut to Boost Economy. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


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

We begin as we often do these days with presidential double talk. In fact, today, we got two perfect examples of double-double talk. The first occurred when the president today confirmed that yes, in fact, he and the White House are considering a payroll tax cut.

Just yesterday when "Washington Post" reported the White House was considering a payroll tax cut, the White House denied it. They denied it to us, and to "The Wall Street Journal". So, yet again, the president has confirmed what they have been busy denying.

Now, at this point, it's not clear if we should really ever believe anything a White House spokesperson says or what the president says for that matter because they just contradict each other constantly and themselves.

We're going to have more on the payroll tax double talk in just a second because a lot of it is on camera and you have to see it to believe it. In fact, one spokesperson even denied it and confirmed it in the same interview, which is -- I mean, that takes skill. The best people.

I want to begin by discussing, though, and focusing on the other presidential double talk we saw today and it's about background checks for gun buyers. Remember, after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the president was talking about meaningful background checks. Well, today, a confirmation that he no longer is looking at background checks. That was also just double talk.

We'll be joined shortly by a reporter for "The Atlantic" with details the president may have fully caved a phone conversation with the head of the NRA.

It's not the first time he's done this. He did this after Parkland, after shootings in Parkland, exactly the same thing, saying he'd stand up to the NRA and quickly shrinking down.

It was just nine days ago after the latest shootings he said he favored, quote, intelligent background checks. He said, quote, this isn't a question of NRA Republican or Democrat. He told reporters he did not buy the National Rifle Association's main argument against new legislation it was a slippery slope. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, it's a slippery slope. They think you'll prove one thing and that leads to a lot of bad things. I don't agree with it. I think -- I think we can do meaningful, very meaningful background checks. I want to see it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: OK. He's a man of action. He doesn't buy the NRA slippery slope argument, no way. He wants -- he wants something done. We can do meaningful -- very meaningful background checks, he said. I want to see it happen.

He won the news cycle, August 9th. The president was engaged, he was going to do something, meaningful on background checks. That's what the chyron said.

Now that 11 days have passed, he's heard from the NRA and people aren't maybe as riled up about El Paso and Dayton. The president is singing a very different tune.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The president that a lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment and I am, also. And we have to be very careful about that. You know, they call it the slippery slope and, all of a sudden, everything gets taken away. We're not going to let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, in the space of a week and a half, all of a sudden, he is very concerned about the slippery slope where something gets taken away, although I think what he's really referring what might be taken away is what he talked about at the beginning of the sentence, the people who got him where he is. That's what this is about for him.

The House and the Senate are on vacation, but the NRA, they are clearly on the job. Remember when the president made fun of congressional leaders to their face saying they were afraid of the NRA by the president was and he would take the heat after Parkland, that's what he said. Just like he said he would take the heat after the shutdown. He would own it.

It's all just double talk. It's hard to say this, but the words spoken by the president of the United States, I mean, do they have any meaning? It doesn't seem like they do.

We'll have more on how the president went from mouthing off about standing up to the NRA to mouthing a talking point, joining us now Elaina, Plott, staff writer for "The Atlantic," who's got new reporting on key moment perhaps the pivotal moment in this latest chapter. So, or this latest surrender, I should say, Elaina. According to your reporting, President Trump and Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, talked on the phone today. What have you learned about that conversation?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, Anderson. They spoke on the phone earlier today and the first point I would make is that Trump actually made this call himself. This was not Wayne LaPierre trying to schedule time with the leader of the free world. This was Trump himself wanting to reach out to the head of the NRA.

So, once they were connected, I am told by somebody briefed on the call who actually heard the tail end of it that Trump was pretty unequivocal that he's not interested in pursuing expanded background checks and that instead he wanted to focus all of his energies now on focusing on funding for mental health reform, and prosecuting gun crimes across the country at the federal level.

So, as those clips you showed just, you know, revealed to your viewers, we've gone from parroting the idea the slippery slope argument is bad one, and very meaningful back ground checks are on the horizon, to Trump personally assuring Wayne LaPierre today that this is not something the group needs to worry about.

[20:05:12] COOPER: Because, I mean, he basically was telegraphing this I think yesterday on the tarmac where he was talking suddenly about, you know, there is a very strong background checks already and now, clearly, then fascinating that he's the one to reach out to Wayne LaPierre today.

The White House is telling CNN that the background checks aren't off the table, which I mean, again, this is the same White House that said they weren't looking into cutting payroll taxes last night and, of course, the president said, of course, yes, we are. So, again, I actually -- I mean, it really is getting to the point I feel like you just have to put everything they say in a box and just let it stew there for a little while and then wait to see who contradicts it the next day.

This wasn't the first conversation they had had over the course of the last few weeks, right?

PLOTT: Right. Both Wayne LaPierre and his top lieutenants have been in contact with either the president or his aides almost daily over the last two weeks. So, this has been a pretty concerted effort on their part.

It's interesting even in spite of all of the internal strife taking place within the organization right now, you know, you have board members resign, leadership shakeups, they are still very much, you know, on the front lines when it comes to this and having the president's ear. In fact, I'm told that Wayne LaPierre even considered going up to Bedminster where the president was on vacation the last ten days, but the scheduling didn't work out. I mean, that really, Anderson is emblematic of how close these two are.

COOPER: And, again, it's so contradictory to what the president himself said to Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress, when he was mocking them for being afraid of the NRA.

PLOTT: Right.

COOPER: You're also reporting, though, what the president seemed to have been most interested in about all this, which was a televised ceremony in the Rose Garden?

PLOTT: Correct. I'm told that Ivanka Trump, right in the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, decided that perhaps the way to get her father to be on board for expanded background checks was to say, you know, if you support this, then we get a bill signed, we could have a really lavish Rose Garden ceremony for it.

COOPER: Wow.

PLOTT: These are the kinds of strategies you have to float to this president to pique his interest and he was, in fact, quite interested. But then he got on the phone with Wayne LaPierre, the first of many calls that would come over the next two weeks, and Wayne LaPierre, I'm told, put the president on mute and looked at the person next to him and said, is he serious? And took the president off mute and then said, you know, I'm sorry Mr. President but that's not going to work and Trump said, I'll over you cover, can you give it all on background checks.

So, again, putting in very plain language, this is the president of the United States asking the leader of the gun lobby what they would be willing to give on background checks and not the other way around.

COOPER: I mean, I just -- if I can, I want to -- whatever you -- I'm not sure what you can say but I want to ask about your sourcing. Your source said they heard the conversation between the president and LaPierre?

PLOTT: Correct.

COOPER: And that your source was directly briefed?

PLOTT: Correct.

COOPER: Wow, I mean, that's fascinating.

Elaina Plott, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PLOTT: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Joining us is somebody that confronted president Trump and had ever reason to. She is Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio, and whom as you'll remember, the president publicly attacked after visiting her wounded city.

Mayor Whaley, thanks for being with us.

The last time you were on the program, you accused the president of being a coward. Are you any less convince of that tonight, especially in the light of reporting we just heard? MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: Not really, Anderson. I can't say

I'm very much surprised. I mean, I was hoping that the president was a man of action instead of a man of talk and, you know, the people of Dayton when this happened on Sunday night, you know, shouted to the governor who is a Republican to do something, not say something.

The governor is responding. Our congressman is responding with an assault -- supporting an assault weapon ban. But unfortunately, we're not seeing that action out of the leader in Washington.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you spoke last time you were on the program about, you know, about action -- wanting action, the people of Dayton wanting action from Washington. It does -- I mean, I assume it seems to you that the president is more concerned about the NRA wants than what the residents of Dayton wants because it just feels so -- it's kind of -- it's not unbelievable to me, it's all too believable.

WHALEY: Right.

COOPER: But this would be the exact same play he did after Parkland, you know, talking about back ground checks when people are upset and furious and mourning and then when he thinks attention is sort of faded and, you know, more people are whispering in his ear, he just does a back flip on it.

WHALEY: Right. I mean, I think that's the reason why Dayton was the 250th site for a shooting, mass shooting this year.

[20:10:01] He's counting on the people that happened in cities across the country that they're going to forget, and that he can just talk away instead of seeing action. I think the difference is we're starting to see support from Republicans like Governor DeWine around these meaningful efforts in states.

But not surprisingly, unfortunately, we just don't see that in Washington and it's disappointing. I think, you know, I'm not super surprised because this is what he does whenever a shooting happens. You always hope as a mayor that you're the city that will break free for meaningful common sense gun legislation.

But I can't say I'm surprised he would act any different today than he does any other city, and that's what's really disappointing.

COOPER: Yes, I think one wants the president of the United States' words to mean something. If anybody's words should mean something, it should be the president of the United States. I mean, it is at the point now where we've had enough time to assess and see that the words he speaks don't really have much meaning, you know, you have to kind of track it over time and see where truth really ends up.

The fact that he seems more focused on a Rose Garden ceremony and that that was something that Ivanka Trump is using as a hook to kind of get him only board, I mean, that's stunning.

WHALEY: It's just sad frankly, Anderson. I mean, 90 percent of Americans want background checks. The majority

of his party want background checks. The majority of the Americans want something on assault weapons, and certainly, every city, every community that's gone through what my community has gone through wants action.

And this president is one that just likes to talk and, you know, make sure that the people that have outsized power in Washington get the voice instead of the voice of the people, and that's what's really sad about this.

COOPER: Mayor Whaley, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

WHALEY: Uh-huh. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, more presidential words that really don't mean much on the state of the economy and what the president is saying he's doing about it. We're keeping them honest.

Later, Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro joins us in the wake of new polling on who voters think would do best against President Trump and some telling words from Jill Biden. We'll talk electability and more ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:16:29] COOPER: There is no issue more central in more lives than the state of the economy, and no question, more important during election season and how the president is handling it. So, for days now, concern is centered on what many economists see as warning signs that a slowdown, a recession could be coming.

The president and the White House have been pooh-poohing those fears publicly, blaming the chairman of the Fed for not helping and the media for they say intentionally trying to create a recession or hasten one. Yesterday, when "The Washington Post" reported that three sources confirmed the White House it held early discussions about a possible payroll tax cut, which would indicate they are concerned about the economy, the White House denied it publicly. They denied it to us and to "The Wall Street Journal".

But today, the president was asked directly if he and advisors were talking about cutting payroll taxes, and here is how he answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So, we're talking about indexing and we're always looking at the capital gain stacks, payroll tax. We're looking at -- I would love to do something on capital gains, we're talking about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So there is confirming what his administration, at least some members of the White House were denying to us last night. In addition to that, he also called on the Fed to significantly cut interest rates. In other words, between that and the tax cuts, the president called for just the kind of measures would one take the economy is slowing down, something top advisors have been going on the TV and denying for days.

In fact, just this morning, one of the president's spokespeople, Hogan Gidley, was denying payroll taxes were being discussed but then actually admitted it seconds later in the very same interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's not being considered at this time, but he's looking at options out there to try and give back so much of the hard-earned money they made.

HOST: Yes, if there were to be a temporary payroll tax to be considered, what might draw the conclusion there is a need to stimulate the economy, an economy that obviously the White House and president tout is still on very strong ground?

GIDLEY: Well, first of all, there is a payroll tax cut, not a payroll tax, because we're looking to give people back hard-earned money and that's what the conversation was about. I was in the meeting yesterday. We talked about all types of options.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's what the conversation was about, he said. The conversation he said had taken place about concerns the White House denies having about an economy the president today called, quote, incredible. And that is incredible.

More now on this with former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, currently CNN senior political commentator, also CNN political analyst and "USA Today", Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, I mean, I guess, for me, the question is, should at this point anyone believe outright anything that comes out of the White House because it just seems like every day, there is an example of they say something, they deny something and the president cuts them off of the needs?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, well, I think -- the short answer is no. I don't think you can believe it and I think that the president was given way too much credit for a booming economy. That's always been my opinion because the economy has not actually been as booming or stable as the White House has led people to believe and there is a lot of concern among economists that we may be heading for a recession.

Recently, there was a survey three out of four of the nation's top economists said they are fearful that we're headed for a recession and the thing they named as being the biggest problem is the president's trade war. So it is the president as behavior that has helped hasten a recession many were worried about.

[20:20:01] And I think that clearly they are concerned about it or they wouldn't be talking about a payroll tax cut. COOPER: Yes, David, I also just want to play something that the

president said today, which frankly, you know, has also made headlines about Jewish voters, Americans --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLTIICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

COOPER: -- saying that after he said that Congresswoman Talib and Omar, quote, hate Israel and hate Jewish people, I just want to play what he said then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, this is the president of the United States essentially saying either you support me or you are, you know, ignore rant or uninformed or disloyal, I'm not sure to whom? To your faith, to America, which brings up all sorts of anti-Semitic tropes which have always been used.

AXELROD: Absolutely. Look, I'm the son of a Jewish immigrant who fled tropes like that when he came, he and his family came to America and has terrible meaning to many, many Jewish-Americans and, you know, the president may think that he can bully Jewish voters into his corner by creating, you know, these kinds of going after the two congresswomen and so on.

But I think what he's actually saying is hardening his opposition. He's making a terrible mistake. And, by the way, I don't know how much credibility he has with Jewish American voters, having not really stood up after Charlottesville when neo-Nazis marched through the streets saying "Jews will not replace us". So, he's off on a very thin branch here.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Kirsten, clearly he's trying -- he thinks he's sort of appealing to Jewish voters, but I don't know that he knows what he just said.

POWERS: Well, I'm going to offer an alternative theory. I actually don't think he's talking to Jewish voters. I think he's talking to evangelical voters. The voters that are the most obsessed with Israel are the evangelical voters and they're the voters that he cares about, those are the only people that he talks to.

I don't think he that is going to try to win over Jewish voters by calling them stupid for not voting for -- you know, I guess voting for him and be loyal to him because ultimately that's what he's talking about. Loyalty to him -- loyalty always means loyalty to him. It doesn't mean loyalty to the United States.

But it's dangerous rhetoric, and I think that that's the most important thing that it really is, you know, it's part and parcel of the way he so often speaks, which is to really engage in very divisive, in this case, it's anti-Semitic. It's often, you know, racist against brown and black people. But it's extremely dangerous rhetoric.

COIOIPER: David, it's not a coincidence that he is focusing on two Muslim, you know, junior members of Congress.

AXELROD: Oh, no. Look, I mean, I think he's made clear what his intention is. He wants to elevate these members, make them the face of the Democratic Party, suggest that the Democratic Party is, you know, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic. He's ascribed more to them than he should fairly ascribe.

And, you know, this is Trump politics. He thinks it's addition by division, and it doesn't add up. I think he's going -- what he's going to do is create an environment in which people are going to say we can't do this every single day. We can't be exhausted by these kinds of maneuvers, these tweets and tantrums, all calculated for his own political profit. I think that he is going to run the string out on this.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Kirsten Powers, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, Julian Castro will talk electability and why a lot of Democrats have an edge over President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:27:53] COOPER: Joe Biden's lead in the polls is commanding once again. CNN's new poll has him at 29 percent, that's the seven-point increase over June. Biden's chief weapon it appears is electability. It's one of the themes of his first TV ad in Iowa that went up today.

The ad cites polls calling him the strongest Democrat to take on President Trump.

Monday night, his wife Jill Biden was in New Hampshire and had a message for Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, health care than Joe is. But you've got to look at who is going to win this election and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, OK, I could personally like so-and-so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the CNN poll represents a milestone for Julian Castro. It's a fourth poll in the road that puts him over 2 percent. That, along with his fundraising totals, make him the tenth Democrat to qualify for next month's third debate.

I spoke to Secretary Castro earlier about the raise and some of what the president said today. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Secretary Castro, Jill Biden's argument for her husband that even if another candidate might be in her words better on a particular issue, the Democratic voter should vote for the former vice president because he can actually beat Trump.

What do you make of that argument?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I have a lot of respect for Dr. Jill Biden. At the same time, it's true that there are many candidates in this race who are polling and are competitive against Donald Trump and able to beat Donald Trump.

I believe that I'm actually the party's best chance for instance to go and get the 11 electoral votes of Arizona, the 29 electoral votes of Florida and even the 38 electoral votes of my home state of Texas, in addition to going back and getting Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania that we barely lost last time.

So, there are a lot of candidates that could beat Donald Trump in this race.

COOPER: I'm sure you're aware if you haven't heard President Trump's comments he made today when he was asked about Congresswoman Tlaib's call to reduce aid to Israel. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yesterday I noticed for the first time Tlaib with the tears. All of a sudden, she starts with tears, tears.

[20:30:00] I don't buy it for a second, because I have seen her at a very vicious mood at campaign rallies, my campaign rallies, before she was a congresswoman. I said, who is that? And I saw a woman that was violent and vicious and out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I mean, I'm not sure I've ever heard a President call another sitting -- you know, a sitting member of Congress violent and vicious. You know, he also said that Jewish people that vote for a Democrat shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty. Can you imagine if President Obama, your former boss, had ever said anything like that?

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HUD: You and I both know, and so do your viewers, that President Obama has way too much class to have ever done anything like that and that's what this President lacks. He lacks class. He lacks honesty.

I mean, what he just said there today was just a bunch of lies. And he uses this all the time as a device saying that people are crying crocodile tears. You may remember he said this about Chuck Schumer. He didn't believe that his tears were real. This President isn't interested in anything, including Israel or the Jewish community. All he's interested in is Donald Trump and how he can hold on to his power.

COOPER: It's amazing to me how every single day we get an example of, you know, the White House denying a story and then the President hours later or the next day confirming that in fact, oh, yes, the reporting was correct. The latest is this, you know, White House considering a payroll tax cut. They denied it yesterday.

Folks on the air -- on, you know, from White House denied it early this morning. And the President, of course, now has just said, yes, that's under consideration, of course. That's one of the things they are looking at.

And now on background checks after Parkland he said, you know, wanted strong background checks. Talked about, you know, standing up to the NRA, then backtracked. And now it seems he's backtracking yet again from, you know, wanting a meaningful background checks as he said after El Paso and Dayton.

There are reporting now about a call with Wayne LaPierre and the President told him that universal background checks are off the table. I mean, it shouldn't surprise anybody, but it is just a constant doubletalk. I mean, he even used the slippery slope argument about background checks even though previously he had said he didn't believe the slippery slope argument.

CASTRO: Anderson, I mean, you know, we've had two and a half years of this. If you include his campaign, about four years of this. And, you know, this President is somebody that does not have integrity. He's not honest. Even -- there are some people that support him when you poll them that acknowledge that he's dishonest.

And he does this as a strategy with guns for instance, now twice after mass shootings he has said, "We're going to do something on universal background checks and, you know, starts to call on people in Congress to take up legislation."

And then when the fury dies down about it, when we get to a little bit calmer, when the attention goes somewhere else, then all of a sudden there is nothing on universal background checks. It's a strategy, it's a game that this President plays and you know what it shows above everything else is how low of an opinion he has of the American people.

COOPER: Secretary Castro, appreciate your time. Thank you.

CASTRO: Good to be with you.

COOPER: All right, more to come tonight. Filmmaker Spike Lee joins me to talk about a solemn anniversary 400 years ago today. Many historians believe the slave trade from Africa landed on these shores. It began how far we've come and how far we have to go. I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:37:45] COOPER: There is an extraordinary anniversary that we recognized today. Many historians believe that it is today, 400 years ago that enslaved people were first brought to these shores.

The ship landed at Point Comfort in what is now Hampton, Virginia. We are now 400 years from that date. Joining me now to discuss all of this is filmmaker Spike Lee. Thanks so much for being with us.

SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: Thanks for having me again.

COOPER: You wanted to -- this is important to you.

LEE: It's very important to me, because so much -- we're not taught this in school.

COOPER: Right.

LEE: You know, we're still dealing with Christopher Columbus and all that other stuff. But 400 years ago today, 1619, August 20th, the first 20 slaves stolen from Northern Africa were brought here and here we are 400 years later.

COOPER: It's interesting you see -- you know, it's not taught. It's also not, I think, fully understood as how crucial it was to the history of America.

LEE: Yes.

COOPER: That this was not sort of just something on the side. This was one of the things that enabled, you know, the colonies and the --

LEE: Well, I think that most woke historians would say that this country, the United States of America, was built upon the genocide of Native people and slavery. I mean, that's a fact.

And I think that if we Americans came to study how this country started, we wouldn't be talking about kick -- immigrants out, you know, because if it wasn't -- I mean, Native Americans, people brought here as slaves, I mean, everybody else is immigrants.

So, I just -- I woke up this morning and went on Instagram. I just felt that my ancestors, you know, we -- not all of them always saying this, but I think it's a very important date today in American history.

COOPER: The other -- I mean, one of the -- there are so many haunting horrible things about this, but one of them is, you know, history does not record the names of these human beings who were brought here. I mean, there is --

LEE: But here is the thing now, not to cut you off --

COOPER: Yes.

LEE: -- is that not everybody who made during the middle passage died in holes of ships or just jumped overboard, so.

[20:40:04] COOPER: Yes. It is -- I mean, it is generations, though, of people who have essentially been -- whose stories have been wiped out. I mean, they're not in history books. And their names -- if you look at purchased documents of different people --

LEE: This names, language, religion, a whole -- I mean, just --

COOPER: Yes.

LEE: -- wiped out.

COOPER: I've looked at purchased documents for enslaved people and there is no names. It's just like a nickname. That nickname that somebody gave to these people and all that's registered really is like height, sex and age. It's haunting when you see that. How do you think -- obviously reparations is something which has been talked about a lot among Democrats.

LEE: Yes. I mean, I'm for -- how -- what that's going to be? I don't know. Like I'm for, for college athletes that's being paid too, but I don't know how --

COOPER: How it's going to happen.

LEE: -- how it's going to happen. But I just think that, again, thank you for having me on the show. I just -- you know, I don't want to take up your time but -- I thought -- I call people of --

COOPER: We set time aside for you.

LEE: I wanted to talk about that and then where we are today. I mean, you got to do it every night, every night. And then another thing I'd like to say, respectfully, why are we still asking is this guy a white supremacist? I mean, like --

COOPER: To you that is a --

LEE: It's not even the question anymore. I mean, the Muslim ban, all Mexicans are rapists, murderers and drug dealers. I mean, it is to what --

COOPER: Do you think he's going to get reelected?

LEE: Can I get on my knees now and pray? And then Charlottesville, we have marching. The KKK, the alt right, neo-Nazis, and he can't make a decision between what's right and wrong? What's love and hate? There's both people -- I mean, that's going to be on his -- I mean, that quote, that's going to be attached to him. He's going to be on the wrong side of history and that's the first thing they're going to say, that quote.

COOPER: It's interesting because there is a lot -- there's now a movement among some Republicans to kind of rewrite the history of what the President said about this very fine people.

LEE: You know what they need to do? They need to watch BlacKkKlansman again, because in the movie --

COOPER: It's there.

LEE: -- he meant David Duke.

COOPER: Right. Because the President when he said very fine people on both sides, he was specifically referencing Friday night in Charlottesville, which is the night of this tiki torch.

LEE: Not buying it.

COOPER: Did it --

LEE: Whoa, whoa, you know what that is?

COOPER: What?

LEE: Subterfuge.

COOPER: But you know what, it's -- I mean, maybe I'm just --

LEE: Shenanigans.

COOPER: -- stupid and naive, but I was shocked to see all these, you know, whatever age they were, people totally fine with showing their faces, chanting Jews will not replace us.

LEE: Blood and soil.

COOPER: Blood and soil. Carrying -- you know, I mean, tiki torches. I wish --

LEE: As David Chappelle would say, M-F-ing tiki torches.

COOPER: I mean, that they're not even hiding is, you know, at least do with the KKK people, too cowards to actually show their face.

LEE: But you know why, because the guy in the White House gave the dog whistles like come on out. So, our guys in the White House say, we're good.

COOPER: Do you feel a difference in the -- in America. Do you feel a difference in people's willingness to give voice to things they didn't give a willingness -- they didn't voice before?

LEE: Before, they just didn't do that, but now they got the green light. So it was like, we're good.

COOPER: Yes. What do -- what should -- I mean, you know, as people are watching this tonight, it's 400 years, what should people remember or think about? What do you hope people are kind of reflecting on in terms of the impact of, you know, enslaved people generations of them who were here whose names we'll never know?

LEE: Again, another great question. I think the people have to really look in their heart and I truly believe people know what's right and what's wrong. You know that. And a lot of these people getting behind this guy, they're going to be on the wrong side of history with him. I mean, I don't know how -- for money? What are you doing it for? I mean, you kneel down before to the all mighty dollar, then I guess everything -- all bits are off.

COOPER: Spike Lee, it's always good to have you on.

[20:45:01] LEE: My condolences, too.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you. Yes, we'll have more. Coming up next, we have breaking news on new moves by the Trump administration on immigration. We'll tell you about that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's new breaking news out of the White House tonight about migrant families, namely about detaining them longer. CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now with details. Jim, what's going on?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, we've been talking to a couple of administration officials who confirmed that the White house is expected to roll out as soon as tomorrow. But within the coming days, a new regulation that would extend or seek to extend the length of time that they can hold migrant families.

One of the big impediments to the administration's goals down on the border is something called the Flores Settlement Agreement. I won't go into all the technical details on that, but that legal settlement essentially prohibits any administration from holding migrant children longer than 20 days.

[20:50:07] The Trump White House certainly wants to get rid of that so they can hold these migrant families longer. Republicans have complained that that Flores Settlement allows migrant families coming across the boarder to exploit the system. But, Anderson, make no mistake, just as soon as the administration announces this, you're going to see other announcements that this is probably heading to court.

COOPER: Yes, that's very, very likely. The President also tweeting tonight, I understand, that he's postponing his trip to Denmark which was scheduled next week.

ACOSTA: Yes.

COOPER: Can you explain the reason he gave for this, because you would -- I -- you would think it's made up?

ACOSTA: I think you know why. Yes.

COOPER: Yes. You would think this whole thing is -- you would think this is something on Colbert, but it's real.

ACOSTA: It is going to be summed up in one word.

COOPER: Although -- you know what, (INAUDIBLE) Stephen Colbert is real. Anyways, it will be Colbert.

ACOSTA: That's right. That's true.

COOPER: Go ahead.

ACOSTA: This can be summed up, Anderson, in one word, in one very large place and that is Greenland that we know that the President has had his eyes on recently. As you know, the President has talked about the United States purchasing Greenland and then Denmark which has control over Greenland. Greenland is a semiautonomous part of Denmark.

Denmark has said, no, Greenland is not for sale. And just recently, the Danish prime minister has said that that was an absurd prospect, that somehow Denmark would sell Greenland to the United States.

We should point out the President has tweeted about this just in the last several minutes saying that because of the Danish prime minister's comments he is going to be canceling his trip to Copenhagen that was scheduled to happen in early September.

And so just because of this one issue of Greenland, the President is calling off a trip to a foreign country to meet with the Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to talk about, I suppose, other issues. But now that Greenland is off the table.

The President is saying that he appreciates her for saying that and he looks forward to rescheduling sometime in the future. A White House official said that visit to the entire country of Denmark for the President is off, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, that makes sense, of course.

ACOSTA: I had talked to another source close -- yes, exactly. And I did talk to a source close to the White House earlier this evening on a series now, Anderson, who suggested that this is one of the President's bright shiny objects, that he threw this out there this evening after a very tough news day, after some of his comments earlier today about Jewish people showing their disloyalty if they vote for Democrats and so on. And so, that's the suspicion at least among some people in Trump world tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. You know what, if he can't be tough with the NRA, go after the Danish prime minister. There you go.

ACOSTA: It's all Greenland to me, you bet.

COOPER: Jim, thanks very much. Greenland, by the way, was never on the table. Anyway, Jim, thank you. Chris Cuomo is going to be covering all of that and more at the top of the hour, no doubt. Next on "360," President Trump naming himself "Michigan Man of the Year" apparently was not enough for President Trump. He is now apparently got a new award, but he never actually got, but he talks about it. "The Ridiculist" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:56:28] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, President Trump is basking in the glow of yet another award that he's given himself. Now to be fair, it's been five whole days since the President bragged about a bogus accolade. So it was been kind of joins (ph) in for something shiny metal statue, anything, preferably gold.

Just in time today, we learned about a whole new award that he got. And asked today by a reporter whether he's OK with steps that his administration has taken to make it easier to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workforce, the President said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, you know, I just got an award and an endorsement yesterday from a -- the exact group and a group -- they gave -- you saw that they gave me the endorsement yesterday and I was very honored to -- is it Log Cabin, the Log Cabin Group, and I was very honored to receive it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, not the name of the group, but very honored. It was a huge award, all the gays voted, lesbians too. They had a meeting couple days ago, unanimous consent. I was there. It's fascinating.

Trump was also stonewalled, did you know that? Oh, yes, he'd had enough that night. You know what I mean? He just had enough. He also sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" at Judy Garland's funeral. You knew that, right?

You know, "The Times" called it haunting full of expletives. There were chills in the crowd. People were crying. Judy and he were great friends, not his type, of course. I mean, she tried, they all do. But, you know, not his first choice, I can tell you that.

Anyway, back to the award he says he got from the Log Cabin Group. The question -- sorry, it's actually the Log Cabin Republicans. The question you may remember, he was specifically asked, it was about workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

So even if the President had gotten an award from the Log Cabin Republicans, or as he calls it, the Log Cabin Group, which may or may not also be the name of a doomsday prepper hedge fund, it wouldn't earn him a past on accountability.

He might have to explain, for example, why his administration just last week moved to give a tassel green light to government contractors who may want to fire workers because they're gay. By the way, the President did receive the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans though, again, not an award, the group confirm that to CNN. But the endorsement was actually last week, not yesterday as the President said.

Though, look, it's easy to lose track of time when you're explaining the lyrics of "Born This Way" to Vice President Pence. It takes a long time to explain that. I don't know. It's a Lady Gaga song, vice president.

If all of this talk of phony awards is starting to sound familiar, it's because it was just last week that the would be grand marshal at the Mar-a-Lago Pride Parade repeated his long debunk claim that he was once named "Michigan Man of the Year."

(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 the Michigan. That was a great honor for me.

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 don't even understand it myself, but I was named "Man of the Year."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I didn't get it. I mean, they just gave it to me, like fell in my lap. Great honor. It's always a great honor. Even the fictitious honors, they are the great honors, especially, especially really the fictitious ones.

So, yes, just -- Michigan never named the President "Man of the Year." There's no such award. He did speak at a dinner in Michigan. The Log Cabin Republicans never gave him an award. And "The Apprentice" never won an Emmy. He's never got over that. It's the Bob Mueller of award shows.

Going forward, who knows, maybe someday, somewhere over the rainbow President Trump will be given a real prize and won't have to make them up. I mean, he's the President of the United States, most people would consider that pretty cool. Maybe not as cool as all the colors of the rainbow and his new Log Cabin award on "The Ridiculist." And congratulations.

The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time. Chris?