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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Campaign Aides: Biden Plans to Take on Warren at Debate Tonight, Axelrod's Message to Dems: "Let Trump Destroy Trump";145 Business Leaders Call On Senate To Pass "Common-Sense, Bipartisan" Gun Laws; House Judiciary Approves Inquiry Parameters As Democrats Try To Clarify Their Strategy; Tropical Storm Warning In Effect For Parts Of Bahamas; 1,3000 People Now Listed As Missing On Islands After Dorian; Rand Paul, Liz Cheney Exchange Insults In Twitter Feud. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:26]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Just moments before the third Democratic debate begins tonight, we're learning the strategies for some of the ten candidates sharing the stage. This third debate actually a first in a number of ways. It's the first time all the qualifying candidates will be on one stage. It's the first time all three front-runners will be on the debate stage, and the first time the leader, Joe Biden, will face the surging second place candidate, Elizabeth Warren.

Attacks are expected, but from whom and against whom? And will they have a lasting or just fleeting effect?

Now in the last few hours, sources from inside a number of the campaigns have begun to talk about what we can expect tonight. So before we get to our political team for analysis, I want to check in with our chief political correspondent Dana Bash who is in Houston at the third debate.

So, Dana, let's talk strategy. What's the vice president thinking going into this, or his team?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I spoke to a senior Biden adviser who's involved in debate prep before coming on with you tonight. He said a couple of things.

First, what we've been hearing from the Biden camp today is the notion he is going to push there is a difference between plans and getting things done. You can't have change if you can't actually implement.

When you think plan, you think Elizabeth Warren. So when we've been hearing that, we've been thinking a-ha, this is going to be the way he is going to differentiate himself from Elizabeth Warren, the very first time they're on the stage together. This adviser insisted it's not just Elizabeth Warren. There are plenty of people on that stage who have plans that he considers pie-in-the-sky and not really realistic. Having said that, there was another interesting thing this adviser

said to me. And that is about health care, noting that for all the plans that Elizabeth Warren has, she doesn't have a specific one on health care. She signed on the Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All. She says I'm with Bernie, but not much more.

And one last thing I will tell you is that Biden is planning if attacked on being too incremental to talk about the fact that he has plans, that from his perspective are big and bold -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, the Biden campaign, they tweeted out a video today, the vice president talking about President Obama. What was the thinking about that?

BASH: Well, every chance Joe Biden gets he talks about President Obama, because he understands how popular the former president is still in the Democratic Party, and it was certainly noteworthy given the last debate that CNN did, that we did, how many people on the stage with Joe Biden kind of went after President Obama and his record, and the fact that they abandoned that pretty soon afterwards, because that was kind of a dead-end politically and strategically since again, President Obama is so popular.

It seemed as though that was a bit of a reminder of what happened in the last debate to the people who tried to talk about Obama's record and tried to hit Biden by doing that.

COOPER: I wonder, what are you hearing about Senator Warren and the other candidates' strategies?

BASH: You know, Warren is such a different kind of candidate. You do hear from most of these campaigns talking about what their candidate intends to do, how they intend to separate themselves. Not Warren.

I talked to several of her aides, particularly tonight, and they just say that Elizabeth Warren is Elizabeth Warren. She talks about her plans. She talks about the fact that you can't be, you know -- you have to be courageous. You have to be big and bold. What's the point of doing this, as she said in our debate last month, if you're not going to try to kind of hit it out of the park on all these ideas.

That is the same kind of thing we're hearing now. But it will be interesting to see and hear if Joe Biden does go forward on the things that we're hearing, particularly on health care, how she is going to react, if she is still going to kind of ignore the people around her and just talk about what she's for or she's going take the bait.

She certainly has been debating most of her life, since she was a teenager. So she is used to this.

COOPER: All right. Dana, we'll check in with you a little later on.

I want to check in with our CNN political director David Chalian, he joins us; CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson as well, "USA Today" columnist and CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, also CNN political commentator and former mayor of one of the greatest cities in the world, New Orleans --

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: OK, I had to say. I'm a New Yorker, but I do love New Orleans.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. CNN senior political commentator, former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the greatest states in the world.

COOPER: I didn't write it. I knew you would say it. She actually helped prep Joe Biden for this debate.

And former special adviser to President Obama, CNN political commentator Van Jones.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The greatest president.

(LAUGHTER)

[20:05:03]

COOPER: How much -- David Chalian, let's start with you. How much of the folks tonight do you expect to be on Joe Biden?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, this is -- when you're the front-runner, you've got the target on your back. That's just a reality in politics. And he has felt that the last couple of debates. And that time he'll get to feel it with all of the top tier folks on stage with him.

How he handles it informs us about the state of his mind and how he turns some of that energy coming his way and pushes it back out, as you were hearing, if indeed Joe Biden delivers on what his campaign has sort of been foreshadowing, this really drawing a contrast with Warren in some way. That's a different thing than we've seen in the past.

But I will just note he is not the only one. Because Warren is ascendant, Anderson, this is going to be a new moment for her. How does she take the incoming that's going to be coming? We haven't seen her tested in that way yet.

COOPER: I mean, the -- every time I feel like we've had one of these nights, and we've had someone on from the Biden campaign, I think we had one with the last time, they had sort of laid out this whole strategy what they were going to be talking about. None of that actually came up.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Exactly. We'll see. Even the first debate, it seemed he was prepped a little bit too much and kind of came across on stage. In the second debate, you're right. He went in, I think the whole quote was I think I'm not going to be so polite this time. And he was in some ways polite and kind of gave up some of his time when he was answering questions.

But the Warren piece of it, you know, Dana basically saying Warren is going to be Warren.

To my eye, Warren is probably the best debater in this field. She's got a game plan going in, always. She sticks to her plans. She's quick on her feet. She has snappy one-liners.

So, listen, Biden, if you want it with Warren you better be able to bring it. You better be able to be as quick on your feet in a snappy and as knowledgeable about your plans and her plans and be able to articulate them in a synced way.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, 10 people in the stage, it's a mishegoss. I mean, no matter what. There is not a lot of time, and there is a bunch of folks on that stage who this may be the last time they're on that stage, and they want to stay.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, definitely, if you're one of the people who aren't in the top tier, you're going to want to go after somebody in the top tier to try to get into some sort of viral moment with them. But I do think what you just brought up is what I'm thinking about is this idea of Biden going after Warren and Jeff Zeleny reported earlier that he has been studying her plans.

And I was thinking, I don't know if that's a good idea to go after Elizabeth Warren on her plans. So, it will be interesting to see especially because he does have kind of a history of messing up when it comes to facts. If he comes after her on a plan, misstates it, misrepresents it or does something like that, I think he could be putting himself in a kind of perilous position.

COOPER: Mayor Landrieu, are you expecting?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think David made a very good point. I think at this point, Biden has been a frontrunner and Elizabeth has been surge. All these other candidates are not just going to eat off of Biden's plate. They have to talk about Elizabeth Warren too, and she is going to catch some incoming.

It's going to be very interesting to see how they go back and forth with each other and how the other folks need some rise today. If Biden stays steady and strong and Elizabeth as good as you said, they both will have a good night.

COOPER: Well, also, does Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, do they sort of draft off of each other on this point?

LANDRIEU: Here's a good point, at some point in time, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth, who are fighting for the same voters have got to engage to start distinguishing themselves from each other. And you may see some of that tonight.

GRANHOLM: Right.

COOPER: What do you make of this? You were involved in debate prep. GRANHOLM: I know. And --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: She actually has facts.

GRANHOLM: Well, let me just say, you know, I can't technically endorse Joe Biden, but I do have a soft spot, and I was in the debate prep. And --

COOPER: By the way, if you're not endorsing him and you're in the debate prep, he's in a lot of trouble.

CHALIAN: Super awkward.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: -- a position that doesn't favor any Democrat. But I do, I mean, I would be silly to say that I don't have -- that I'm not influenced by, that and I have a long relationship with him from being governor.

But I will say that I think people are making a little too much about him going after Elizabeth Warren. I mean, if you're in the front spot, you know, you're not going to punching people, unless maybe you're punched. Then you want to punch back.

But I'm super interested to see given what we have learned after these first two debates whether people are going to forming a circular firing squad and shooting at Democrats. The Democrats out there voters hate it.

COOPER: Yes.

GRANHOLM: They hate it. I know it's good TV potentially, but they hate it. And the people who have done it have not been rewarded by it. So --

COOPER: Let me ask, and I know you can't say what you did during the debate.

GRANHOLM: I appreciate you saying that, thank you.

COOPER: But Vice President Biden does something I haven't seen another candidate do in a debate, which is he stops himself as soon as moderator says time or he sees the clock to go OK, that's it. And he sort of ends it. And it's very polite, but it's --

GRANHOLM: I think it has something to do with the fact that all of his life people have told him, all right, you're too long-winded. You know, he's got that --

[20:10:00]

JONES: Overcompensate.

GRANHOLM: He has done that. So, I mean, he knows that that's not a good strategy, and hopefully that doesn't happen tonight.

But I do think that because he is, you know, he's a guy who abides by the rules that he doesn't want to be seen as overwhelming. And I think that's probably some.

JONES: I want to talk about some of the other people.

GRANHOLM: Yang, Yang, Yang!

JONES: Of course, Andrew Yang is a phenomenon, and he says he is going to do something tonight that no one has ever done in the history.

GRANHOLM: What do you think it is?

JONES: I have no idea. It may involve barnyard animals. I don't know what he is going to do, but he said he is going to do something.

Listen --

CHALIAN: I think he said he is now going to give his freedom dividend to ten families this year across the country.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Whatever it is, this guy was below asterisk, and he is coming on. But I think Kamala Harris has the most to gain and the most to lose. In the fist debate, she was strong, some people thought too strong, she's also warm. She said this little girl was me. And when you have strength and warm, that's a very strong combination.

The second debate, she tried to be strong, but Biden punched her and Tulsi Gabbard beat her up, and she didn't respond really well. So she looked weaker, and she never humanized. So, she looked colder.

She goes from strong and warm to colder and weaker. Which one shows up tonight is going to determine whether or not she's got a future even as a VP pick. I am very curious what Kamala Harris does tonight.

GRANHOLM: I think this is a really important point about who is going to bring the warmth. Because everybody's got plans, right? But who's going to make a moment, connecting in some way with another person on the stage or with people out there.

LANDRIEU: And at the end of the day, we have to remember our mission is to beat Trump. It's really simple, not to beat each other.

COOPER: And that's what -- that's the number one thing that people are looking for. That's what all these candidates know in their heart.

LANDRIEU: I think most of the voters out there who don't like president Trump are looking for person who can beat Trump.

GRANHOLM: Right.

LANDRIEU: I think they stay focused, we'll see it.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: No, go.

GRANHOLM: After you.

Let me just say quickly, David Axelrod had a really interesting column today where he talked about exurban and rural women getting exhausted with Donald Trump, right, and feeling like there is so much divisiveness, so much bitterness. I'm kind of curious tonight to see whether somebody -- I mean, I think Joe Biden will have a bit of this, but whether somebody says, OK, the contrast we should bring, we want to put forward a candidate who will allow people to sleep at night. Maybe it's not the most exciting. Maybe it's not the most pugilistic, but somebody who will bring us some normalcy.

JONES: The one person who I think has still underperformed but could pull that off still is Cory Booker. I still think he's got room to grow. I had him on my show over the weekend. He showed a lighter side of himself. He is kind of finding his rhythm.

If Biden does wane or fade, I think a Cory Booker could get some real space. We'll see tonight.

COOPER: How important is it for -- you know, you talk about Joe Biden, he is going to be going after plans for Elizabeth Warren and gets some figures wrong -- those are the kind of things, once it starts and that people start to point it out, then it becomes something that people start watching.

CHALIAN: It's something we talked about, but it's not something that the voters have indicated that they find super important. We just -- we haven't seen that yet. There has been this disconnect of like if he has a moment like that, we in the press will obsess about it. It will play over. It will be a thing.

But in the polling and in talking to voters even out there on the trail, it's not something they're grabbing on to just yet as very important.

HENDERSON: The thing I think people like about Biden is his decency and his ability to connect. His story was tragic in some ways, losing family members. We'll see if that comes out tonight.

But, yes, when you talk about Biden kind of being a weak front-runner there, but is this kind of rock solid emotional attachment that a lot of Democratic voters have for him.

COOPER: Yes.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to see everybody after the debate. I'm very excited that the mayor of the greatest city in America --

(LAUGHTER) COOPER: What can I say?

GRANHOLM: The rest of us --

COOPER: I'm happy you're all here. First time we've got Mitch here.

Who's the candidate most capable of taking on President Trump? To the mayor's point, Governor Granholm just mentioned David Axelrod's new column. I'll talk to President Obama's chief strategist for both his campaigns, David Axelrod, who says that person isn't even on the debate stage tonight. It's kind of a tease. We'll explain why.

Also, impeachment hearings. The House Judiciary Committee took a big step today in its investigation of the president. I'll talk with the vice chair on the committee about what comes next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:49]

COOPER: The candidates vying for the Democratic nomination tonight are all trying to prove that they are the one who can best take on President Trump. But how to do that? That's the question that's tripped up many candidates ever since private citizen Donald Trump entered the race.

The man who is the chief strategist for both of President Obama's winning election bids has an answer, David Axelrod, who is also CNN senior political commentator writes this in "The New York Times," quote, the person most capable of defeating Donald Trump is Donald Trump. If Democrats are smart, they'll let him do the job.

David Axelrod joins us now.

It's so interesting, because so many Trump supporters early on, Corey Lewandowski famously wrote on the board, you know, let Trump be Trump.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, let Trump be Trump.

COOPER: You say that is actually --

AXELROD: If you're a Democrat, you want that, because now I think what you see in the country is a real sense of exhaustion. I think this -- the constant anxiety of waking up to a president's tweets and tantrums and often gratuitous battles and the chaos around him is just exhausting.

And that's not just for people who oppose the president, but, you know, I've seen polling. I've seen some focus groups of Trump voters who -- particularly women who are now saying, you know, I like what he does, but I can't stand the way he does it.

[20:20:06]

And I don't know if we can take this. And I really think that the operative question that Americans need to

be has the broadest reach is, can we do this for another four years?

COOPER: The -- you -- I have heard you say that the group -- if you were in the Trump train, if you were in the Trump war room, the group you would be looking at and most concerned about is white non-college educated women.

AXELROD: Non-college educated women, yes.

COOPER: Why that group?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, he does have a problem in the suburbs. We saw it again in North Carolina. And that is problem number one. He carried the suburbs by four points.

But he carried white non-college educated women by 27 points in 2016. In recent Fox News poll, he was leading Joe Biden by four points among these women. And I think it has a lot to do with this exhaustion factor, just the constant grinding of this president and the way he does his business and the chaos that ensues is really disturbing to these voters.

And it's not going to change, Anderson. That's the thing. What we've seen is as he feels pressed, he becomes more frenetic.

And his theory of politics is that there are no undecided voters, that it's all about mobilization. If you just turn things up to the maximum into the red and excite your base, then you can win. And I think as he turns the dial into the red, he is going to -- he is going to lose a small but decisive group of voters.

COOPER: You know, Rick Wilson has this book.

AXELROD: Yes.

COOPER: He is a Republican strategist. He is against Trump. He has a book "Everything Trump Touches Dies." It does seem like that -- you know, should the strategy for Democrats be to go toe to toe with that or to ignore then all the things that you're saying long-term is turning people off?

AXELROD: Well, look, I said in this piece that the key to beating Trump is not wrestling, but jujitsu. Jujitsu is the art of using the force of your opponent against them, rather than matching it with your own force.

And I think that the more friend frenetic and more outrageous he becomes, and he does that on a consistent basis, the more he is building evidence for this case that it is just too tumultuous, too chaotic for this country to do another four years of it. And I think, you know, that's not to say there aren't moral policy grounds to -- competence grounds on which to attack him, but I think of the less personal, less chasing the rabbit down the hole each time he tweets, each time he does something outrageous. COOPER: Is though -- you know, that sense of exhaustion, I certainly

understand, and look, we all work in this where we're focused on this 24 hours a day. Most people, though, aren't focused on this. Certainly even at this stage of the race, even to the point of, you know, a lot of them don't know who these Democratic candidates are at this stage.

AXELROD: This is true in terms of the Democratic primary. But, look, Trump at his own insistence is a pervasive presence in our lives. Every president is. But he is so dominant that people are aware of how he functions and all of the little twists and turns.

I think that he is his own worst enemy in the end of the day.

COOPER: Fascinating. David Axelrod, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

For more, I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst and "Washington Post" columnist, Max Boot, author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right", and former RNC chief of staff and CNN political commentator, Mike Shields.

Max, as some who is not a big fan of the president, do you think this strategy could work? Do you think the president is his own worst enemy?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. I agree with that. And in general, I would not dispute David Axelrod's political judgments. He knows a thing or two about politics.

In this case, I think he is dead right. Just look at the big picture here, which is that the economy is going gangbuster, and yet, Donald Trump is the first president who never cracks 50 percent approval. I mean, that is an astonishing statistic. He has never gotten over 50 percent, even though the economy is in great shape.

And why is that? It's because everything that he says or does repulses a significant portion of the electorate. I mean, he's got about 40 percent of the base is behind him, but the other 60 percent of the country basically is turned off by what he is saying.

There is actually a fascinating Pew survey in April and May which asked people how they reacted to what Donald Trump says. And, you know, if you look at the numbers, 76 percent are concerned, 70 confused, 69 percent embarrassed, 67 percent exhausted, 65 percent angry.

That's how normal people react to a president who talks in ways that are just frankly alarming and crazy.

COOPER: Yes.

BOOT: And so, there is no question to my mind that no Democratic candidate should try to go toe to toe with Donald Trump and sling insults.

COOPER: OK.

BOOT: And act in the way that he acts. Let him destroy himself with the way he talks.

COOPER: Mike, is this kind of music to your ears?

[20:25:00]

You can make the counterargument which is letting Trump be Trump is what allowed him to win. I mean, he's unlike any other candidate and does stuff that no one else does and people responded.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I understand what David Axelrod is saying. He is sort of acknowledging that the Democrats have become obsessed with attacking President Trump.

And I think in large part because they don't just disagree with him, they hate him. They hate who he is. They hate him as a person. It's very personal.

And so, they have issues that I'm sure David and others would want them to run on. We may hear about some of them on the debate stage tonight like health care and things they want to talk about, and they're never going to get there.

I mean, this column came out today, ironically, on the same day that we watched in the House, Nancy Pelosi simultaneously saying we're not going to do an impeachment and Jerrold Nadler filing -- creating an impeachment investigation that was not authorized by the House, which it should be, and Nancy Pelosi say I'm not going to talk about this anymore.

They have a wing of their party that can't stand the president. They're sort of foaming at the mouth, and the image of the Democratic Party going into the election is not one of here are the things we stand for. It's we're the anti-Trump party.

So you have a roaring economy, as Max said and an anti-Trump party because they can't help themselves.

COOPER: But, Mike, do you -- do you see any sliding of the president's popularity among groups that were wildly popular for him before based on sort of this idea of just sort of sick of the chaos?

SHIELDS: I think people get sick of politics in general. And, look, people are sick of the chaos in Washington. They don't like it, and the Democrats now own a lot of that chaos in Washington.

But the thing you have to remember about approval ratings is we don't have a referendum. We have a binary choice election. And the president won his election in 2016 without being over 50 percent approval rating nationally.

There are people that are just as David described. Some voters say I don't maybe like some of the things he does, but I actually like his policies and I like what he is doing for the country. When they match that up with Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders in many of the states, he is going to come out on the of that because they're going to say, look, I may not like the way -- the tone he just used, but compared to what Bernie wants to do with health care, I'm going to vote for President Trump again and then it won't matter.

COOPER: Max, isn't it a danger for Democrats to think, well, the president is going to implode on his own, let's just do what we want to do and not be thinking about electing somebody who can appeal to people who might otherwise -- if things are too liberal, too progressive, might end up holding their nose and voting for the president?

BOOT: Oh, yes, no, I think that's absolutely true, Anderson. I think what David Axelrod is trying to say is Democrats should not try to go toe to toe with Trump on the insults.

Look, my analysis of the election is basically people are sick and tired of Trump. They're sick of this reality show. They want to turn it off. But they want to make sure that they're going to turn over the government to a safe pair of hands.

And so, I think essentially the Democrats have to negate the Trump attacks because he is going to be in frenetic mode, claiming the Democrats are open border socialists. They're going to destroy our economy. They're going to make us into Venezuela.

And, you know, if you're rung against somebody like Joe Biden, that is so absurd and so ridiculous, I don't think it can resonate. There is a danger if they're running against a Sanders or a Warren that they could make it stick. And so, I think it's very important if Sanders or Warren actually wins the nomination, they have to pivot to the center to negate these Trump attacks, because I think the one skill that Trump does have is he is very good at hitting the weak points of his adversaries. And so, Democrats have to be wary of that.

COOPER: All right. Max Boot, thank you. Mike Shields, appreciate it.

In a letter to the senate, some of America's top CEOs say the government should take concrete action on gun violence now. Just ahead, I'll talk with the CEO of Levi Strauss about why he signed the letter. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:32:37] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: CNN's Manu Raju reports tonight that a source familiar with his thinking says President Trump is open to supporting "significant new legislation to control gun violence." Now, what exactly that means is unclear.

The President held a White House meeting on the topic today, but he merged saying only some progress had been made on some issues, but didn't go into any detail. All of this as 145 CEOs and other business leaders signed a letter demanding the government take concrete action to control gun violence. In a draft letter to the Senate, they said in pardon, "Doing nothing about America's gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable."

Now, the CEO of the company who led the effort on this letter, Chip Bergh, head of Levi Strauss, he joins me now from San Francisco.

Chip, can you just explain your decision to lead the effort on getting this letter and getting this letter signed by so many people? Why would a company like Levi Strauss get involved in this?

CHIP BERGH, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEVI STRAUSS & CO.: Sure. Well, first of all, first and foremost, we have a gun violence epidemic in this country. And I think it's indisputable. There were 68 lives lost in mass shootings just in August alone. We actually waded in to this gun violence epidemic issue about two years ago when we respectfully requested customers to not enter our stores bearing a weapon.

We actually had a weapon go off in one of our stores about two years ago. Fortunately, it didn't injure any of our employees or any customers other than the person who was carrying the gun. But that kind of got us into this issue.

And then after the Parkland shooting about a year ago, we stepped up our efforts to really begin working with organizations that were committed to putting legislation in place that would begin making gun ownership for some people that shouldn't own guns a little bit more difficult.

So this has been a natural evolution of our efforts. And honestly, after the August shootings, where it seemed like every day on a weekend you were waking up to the news of another mass massacre, I just kind of hit the point where I said enough is enough and felt that Congress had to act here.

And so, we started reaching out to other CEOs and started to form a coalition demanding that the Senate take action on federal background checks.

[20:35:06] A similar law has already passed the Congress, or has passed the House of Representatives, and also on red flag laws. And I think the tide is turning. There's clearly momentum right now to demand Congress take action here.

COOPER: So is this -- I mean, is this is a business -- I mean, some -- is it a business decision or is it a decision from the perspective of someone who believes, you know, you, your company are part of American society and this is a problem and therefore you're speaking out on it?

BERGH: It is. I think gun violence today affects all of us. 58 percent of Americans have been affected by gun violence either directly or indirectly over the last couple of years. And this is an issue that affects everybody. If you operate a retail store or if you operate a movie theater, or if you operate a restaurant, places that have historically been safe for us as a society are no longer safe.

I'm a parent, and anybody who is a parent has to deal with their child coming home from school the day or the afternoon of a lockdown drill and has to deal with the conversation at the dinner table about the possibility of a shooter coming into their school. And they know, older children know that this is a reality, that this has happened. And so when they practice these drills, it has an impact on them.

Gun violence is one of the biggest issues affecting the young generation today, and they are taking it with them. And in fact, we were inspired to act because of the movement of the youth in this country demanding action. And a big part of what we've done, we've created a fund of a million dollars that we are investing in organizations that are committed to changing laws in this country to make this country a safer place.

COOPER: Chip Bergh from Levi Strauss, thank you very much. Chip, I appreciate it. Thanks for being with us.

The House Judiciary Committee has approved a legislative road map for an impeachment investigation. A lot of questions remain. Coming up, I'll speak with the committee's vice chair.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:56] COOPER: Well, the House Judiciary Committee inched along toward a full impeachment inquiry today by approving a resolution that defined the rules of an impeachment investigation. Now, it kind of sounds like a distinction without a difference.

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said that splitting verbal hairs over the word inquiry or investigation didn't really mean much of anything. The leading Republican on the committee said today that today's vote was essentially meaningless because it granted the chairman powers that he already has access to.

The committee vice chair is Pennsylvania Congressman Mary Gay Scanlon. I spoke to her shortly before air time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Vice Chairwoman Scanlon, all this mixed messaging, whether is it an impeachment inquiry, is it not an impeachment inquiry, I know Chairman Nadler says that it doesn't matter what it's called, but if the Democrats on the committee can't get it straight, how should the American people?

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Well, I don't think the Democrats on the committee have any question about what's going on. We've been undertaking an impeachment investigation for some time. There are serious, credible allegations of constitutional misconduct against the President, and it's our job to investigate and see where the evidence takes us.

COOPER: Your Republican colleague, Doug Collins, said today the judiciary committee has become a giant Instagram filter to make it appear something's happening that's not. Is that true at all? Is there a lack of clarity?

SCANLON: I think he appears a little confused, but I really like his other analogy better. He said we were off on a trip down the yellow brick road and I might be inclined to agree. Because at the end of the yellow brick road, the curtain gets pulled back and we see that the great and terrible oz is really a fraud.

COOPER: I don't think he knows this movie history perhaps very well on that reference. But, Kellyanne Conway today said that there is no public appetite for impeachment. And if you look at the polls, she is right. I mean, the majority of Americans say they're not in favor of it.

So why go ahead with this if that's not the case, if this is not how voters want taxpayer dollars to be spent. And, you know, if there are some Republicans -- Democrats who are concerned it takes away focus for the upcoming elections.

SCANLON: Look, you shouldn't impeach someone for political reasons. You also cannot impeach someone for political reasons. As I said, there are serious allegations of misconduct. It's Congress' job to look at those allegations and see if they're proven or disproven.

COOPER: So what are the next steps? I mean, how do you see this playing out?

SCANLON: Sure. Well, so as I said before, we've been engaged in investigation. It's been a little bit thwarted by the lack of cooperation from the White House, but we've expanded the investigation.

We're no longer just looking at the Mueller report. We're also looking at allegations concerning the payment of hush money to impact the election. We're looking at the dangling of pardons to obstruct investigations and affect other people's conduct.

We're looking at whether or not emoluments have affected the President's judgment, whether payments from foreign or domestic sources are affecting his judgment and whether he is lining his pockets at the public expense.

COOPER: Corey Lewandowski is coming in next week?

SCANLON: Yes. Corey Lewandowski will be in I think on the 17th.

COOPER: What is your focus there? What is your interest in talking to him?

SCANLON: Well, he is -- he's never been a -- an employee of the White House. He was the campaign manager before Manafort. But despite the fact that he wasn't a public employee, the Mueller report tells us that Mr. Lewandowski was ordered to get rid of the special counsel and try to talk Jeff Sessions out of being recused.

COOPER: The -- with 14 months until the election, I guess, you know, there are Democrats who are concerned, is this the message that you want to be sending to Democratic voters about where the party's priorities are? I mean, there's some Democrats who worry that you're essentially falling into Republican hands here and taking your eye off, you know, tabletop issues that voters really care about.

[20:45:00] SCANLON: As I said before, I don't see that we have a choice to -- but to investigate allegations of this seriousness. But that doesn't mean we're not doing the other things that the voters care about.

I mean, just today, Representative Hayes and Senator Warren and myself introduced a bill that would expand access to Pell Grants for students who've been defraud by for-profit universities. So we are going to continue working. You know, we may be working around the clock, but we'll do what has to get done.

COOPER: Vice Chairwoman Mary Gay Scanlon, appreciate it. Thank you.

SCANLON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Bahamas tonight, the last place that needs to see a storm coming. It's still reeling, of course, from Hurricane Dorian. That as officials have revised the number of people as listed as missing after the storm. We'll have details ahead.

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[20:50:00] COOPER: The Bahamas is on the alert again tonight. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the areas hard hit by Hurricane Dorian. The National Hurricane Center is tracking what could become tropical cyclone nine.

Meanwhile, the number of people listed as missing in the Bahamas after Dorian has dropped significantly to 1,300. It's down from an estimated 2,500. That list could likely get even smaller as the government urges people to check in with family and authorities. Dorian tore through the islands nearly two weeks ago as a category 5 hurricane, making it the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the Bahamas.

I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, how you doing, Coop? We're going to do a special report tonight on the Bahamas. We're going to take you onto the ground. We're going to take you to people who are trying to help in different ways, give you different looks at the situation, especially with the idea of getting hit by another storm coming.

We're also going to have the administration's top immigration official and test two propositions. Why did the President say what he said about basically bad hombres coming from the Bahamas? Has the door been shut? What are the rules? Are they changing? And we're going to talk about this new asylum law situation that just came through the Supreme Court. Why is that the best policy for America? Special report tonight.

COOPER: All right. For the whole hour, Bahamas, Chris, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Important stuff. We're going to go to Chris in about eight minutes from now.

Up next, right now, two grown adults elected to Congress trade insults on Twitter over who supports the President more. That's where we are, folks, Congresswoman Liz Cheney versus Senator Rand Paul when we continue.

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[20:55:37] COOPER: We've been a lot of talk about how silent many Republican lawmakers have been regarding President Trump no matter what he does or says or tweets, no matter how embarrassing or beneath the dignity of the office, they are marching in lockstep.

If you thought the sucking up couldn't get any worse or weirder, well, now two well-known Republican lawmakers are exchanging insults on Twitter and each is claiming the other doesn't love the leader enough.

They have fundamentally different views on international use of force, these two, and Afghanistan, but they aren't actually really arguing policy, they're arguing essentially about what loves Daddy Trump more.

Senator Rand Paul, son of former Congressman Ron Paul, versus Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, apparently still craving, fighting for and fearful of losing daddy's love. Here's Randi Kaye.

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RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The war of words between Republicans Liz Cheney and Rand Paul started Wednesday when the senator tweeted an op-ed from the "Washington Examiner" that called on Cheney, a top House Republican, to stop criticizing Trump who has said he'd like to get out of Afghanistan.

Paul tweeted, "I agree. Why do some neocons continue to advocate for endless wars? I stand with realdonaldtrump on ending wars. Let's focus on America first, not Afghanistan."

Congresswoman Cheney pushed back tweeting she stands with trump and our men and women in uniform who will never surrender to terrorists, unlike Rand Paul who seems to have forgotten that today is 9/11.

Things continue to go downhill this morning with Paul tweeting, "Hi, Liz Cheney. President realDonaldTrump hears all your never-Trump warmongering. We all see you pro-Bolton blather. I'm just grateful for a president who, unlike you, supports stopping these endless wars."

Then on CNN, Paul blasted both Cheney and her father, the former vice president.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): They hate President Trump' foreign policy. They want to stay in Afghanistan forever. They're apologizing for John Bolton. They love John Bolton. So really, they are part of this foreign policy swamp that's been trying to undermine President Trump. And so people of Wyoming and people across the United States need to know that the Cheneys are never Trumpers.

KAYE: Things turned even uglier when Cheney breathed new life into a 2015 tweet from Trump, himself, calling Paul, who was then his Republican presidential rival, "a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain."

Cheney piled on, tweeting, "No truer words were ever spoken." Adding, "Hi, Rand Paul. I know the 2016 race was painful for you since you were such a big loser, then and now, with a dismal 4.5 percent in Iowa. No surprise since your motto seems to be 'Terrorists First, America Second.'"

Paul swiped back, tweeting, "Hey, Liz Cheney. I feel like you might just be mad still about when candidate Trump shredded your dad's failed foreign policy and endless wars."

Just a few minutes later Cheney again, "Weird. I don't see you on stage here, Rand Paul. Oh, right. My bad, you had already lost." She added the #weirdRand.

Paul kept needling her tweeting, "While they might exist, I sure haven't heard of a war that Liz Cheney didn't want us to get involved in," using his new favorite #WarmongerCheneys.

Cheney never backed down, tweeting late Thursday, "Take a breath, Rand Paul. I vote with realDonaldTrump 97 percent of the time. You have a D. Maybe sit this one out and spend some time thinking about all your anti-Trump votes."

Through it all, the President stayed silent on Twitter, not offering a single tweet in response to the fighting within his own party.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll see if the President weighs in on who's his favorite. Be sure to join me right around 10:15 p.m. tonight for our analysis of the Democratic debate.

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

CUOMO: All right, buddy, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time."

While the debate rages on about who wants to lead on the Democratic side, tonight I want to show you what is not getting the attention it should. I'm going to bring you a special report on the ongoing crisis in the Bahamas.

Here's the reality. We don't know way too much about the situation, especially the missing, the dead, the level of destruction and loss.

END