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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

CNN Exclusive: Giuliani Pushed Trump Administration to Grant a Visa to A Ukrainian Official Promising Dirt on Democrats; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is Interviewed About Giuliani Pushing Trump Administration to Grant a Visa to a Ukrainian Official; President Trump Praises Fragile Ceasefire As Violence Still Unfolds; Republicans Attack President Trump Over Syria; President Trump Awards New Year's G7 Summit Of World Leaders To His Own Resort; Stephanie Grisham On The Riduculist. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired October 18, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:16]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with breaking news. More damaging testimony in the Ukraine affair, another indication of how badly President Trump's personal attorney wanted to obtain dirt on the president's political rivals. The news follows two weeks of other testimony that taken together lays out the parties parts and pieces of what is a wide- ranging, sustained, intensive campaign to get a foreign government to do the president's personal and political bidding, in exchange for badly needed military assistance.

And, of course, this comes at the end of a day of damage control after the president's own acting chief of staff conceded yesterday that, yes, there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: But to be clear what you just transcribed is a quid pro quo. It's funding will not flow unless the investigation into the -- into the Democratic server happened as well.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody. Get over it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He put out a statement just hours later trying to say that he never said that or didn't mean that which is a hard case to make when you put it in the context of two weeks of congressional testimony, documentary evidence on the question.

Two Thursdays ago, two Thursdays ago, lawmakers released text messages among the key players outlining this aid for dirt deal, as well as one diplomat's sharp objection to what he recognized as a quid pro quo. He called it crazy. He's going to testify next week. This past Monday, former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill told

investigators that Rudy Giuliani was doing an end run around professional diplomats for the president and then national security adviser John Bolton was so alarmed about it, he told her to alert White House lawyers. This followed testimony from Mary Yovanovitch, the fired ambassador of Ukraine, that -- Marie I should say -- that she herself was cut off the loop.

And yesterday, one of the three people who bypassed her added to the picture. Ambassador Gordon Sondland telling impeachment investigators that the president made Giuliani his point man on all this, saying he didn't realize until later what he, departing Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Giuliani were actually working on.

Now, CNN has obtained exclusive new reporting on what else the president's TV lawyer and Ukraine fixture was up to.

Kylie Atwood got the scoop, and joins us now.

What did you learn, Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. We are learning that in his testimony behind closed doors as part of this Ukraine impeachment inquiry just this week, a career State Department official George Kent told lawmakers that it was Rudy Giuliani who had pressed the White House and the State Department to try and get a visa for Victor Shokin, and that is the ousted prosecutor general from Ukraine. He was ousted because he did not take on corruption in his country. And there was pressure from Vice President Biden at the time and other countries to get rid of him.

Now, that visa, however, was not provided to Shokin. And so, the White House actually made an appeal and went to the State Department, called up George Kent and asked, why is he not getting in visa?

It was George Kent's understanding that Giuliani had called the White House and asked them to figure out why in visa wasn't coming through.

Now it's important here that Giuliani has told CNN previously that he wanted to talk to Shokin because Shokin had dirt for him on the Democrats. So we know he wanted to interview him in person. Clearly, he was not able to do so because that visa was not provided to him.

But this provides some more insight into how Giuliani had his fingers all over the Ukrainian policy and really was able to push forth on some of his efforts to try and get people to the United States to dig up more dirt on the Democrats.

COOPER: So, this is -- I mean in sounds nuts. So, Giuliani is trying to get this guy -- this allegedly or believed to be corrupt former prosecutor to come to the United States to deliver more dirt on the Bidens or his conspiracy theories about whatever it may be, his visa is rejected by the State Department. So, he calls the White House.

Do we know -- I mean, did the president -- do we know if the president was involved in this whole thing or just a conversation between Giuliani and somebody else at the White House?

ATWOOD: We don't know the exact dynamics of how President Trump was involved in this situation specifically.

But let's take a step back here, because what we do know from testimony this week, Ambassador Sondland told lawmakers that President Trump had told people working at the State Department, including Ambassador Sondland himself, that Giuliani was the key person they had to go through when it came to Ukraine policy. So, it's no secret that president Trump was speaking with Giuliani about Ukraine, and Giuliani declined to comment for our report tonight.

[20:05:02]

But I'm sure we will learn more details about how President Trump was involved in this whole situation in the coming days because there is no more testimony to come from U.S. officials on this matter.

COOPER: What's the State Department saying?

ATWOOD: Well, the State Department doesn't comment on specific visas. They say those are confidential and they're not going to put out a statement specifically on this.

But what we do have to look back on is what the State Department says on visas generally. So they say that they are confidential but they're rewarded in accordance with U.S. law. And they can be defied for a number of reasons, including -- this is according to the State Department's website -- if the information reviews falls within the scope of the inadmissibility or ineligibility grounds of the law.

So, clearly right now, there was a reason that this visa was denied. The White House pushed back. But ultimately the State Department won out here.

COOPER: Kylie Atwood, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining us now, someone who not only is running to defeat President Trump next year but will also be one of the Senate jurors if he is impeached. She also sits on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Kamala Harris, thanks for being on the broadcast. Appreciate it.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course.

COOPER: First of all, just what's your reaction to this latest reporting about Giuliani trying to override the Ukraine embassy and the State Department to get a visa for this former prosecutor?

HARRIS: Yes.

Anderson, it's further evidence of corruption by this administration, and the personal attorney of the president of the United States clearly implicitly being given permission to act as though he is an arm of the government and the State Department. And it's a violation of an extraordinary number of rules and ethical laws about what -- who should do what. And I'm just glad to see the process is beginning to really do the investigation into Rudy Giuliani. He has clearly broken many laws.

And, you know, I was listening to the report as you were playing it. And it also raises for me questions about, again, who knew what in the administration. As I've been thinking about it, clearly, there is -- there are questions to be asked of the chief of staff. We have talked about Mick Mulvaney. But I frankly think that we should also be asking of John Kelly and Reince Priebus, because clearly, for a long time now, we've been talking about bad behaviors coming from the administration and coming from the desk of the president of the United States.

COOPER: What -- are there specific laws you believe Giuliani has broken or may have broken?

HARRIS: Well, I don't know. We're going to find out. But I don't -- I think the range includes not only abuse of power and perhaps misstatement and mischaracterization of his role and responsibilities, but I also really do wonder just instinctively whether there's been bribery associated with Giuliani's conduct. I think there are a number of questions to be asked. And once the facts are transparent and have been available for Congress at the very beginning to see, I think we'll know the laws that have been broken.

COOPER: What's so interesting about Giuliani's involvement, too, is that -- I mean, it seems with every day that passes, there's another example of Giuliani kind of running and being licensed by the president to run a shadow foreign policy, circumvent state department protocols and it's not only for the president's benefit but Giuliani also has business interests in the region. I mean, he's got business interests in Ukraine that go back years.

HARRIS: That's right.

COOPER: He's got, you know, business interests I understand in Turkey as well.

So, it's not clear exactly who he is working for. He is working for the president but he's also working for himself.

HARRIS: Well, you're right, Anderson. And this is part of -- this is part of the character of in administration as a whole. There are many people in Donald Trump's administration who I think are, you know, have questionable priorities.

And whether those priorities are in fact on before of the people of the United States or on before of their special interests based on former relationships in the private sector or what they anticipate and are planning in terms of future replaces in the private sector.

You're absolutely right. And that's why it is corrupt. Because this is -- these are positions especially for knows who hold elected office and appointed office in this administration. These are positions held in the public trust. And they are -- they are not meant to be -- or designed to be for personal interest.

But Donald Trump and many of the members I think of his administration are not clear about that point, which is why we need this impeachment process to proceed.

COOPER: It's also the president is holding this money over Ukraine -- this is not his money. It's taxpayer money. American taxpayers have paid.

HARRIS: Exactly right.

COOPER: Given this money.

HARRIS: Yes.

COOPER: So, when you think about it that way.

HARRIS: That's exactly right.

COOPER: He is holding American taxpayer money over the Ukrainian president's head. They need it to fight Russia, lives are hanging in the balance.

HARRIS: That's right.

COOPER: And he would get information that helps him against his main -- or at the time a political opponent in the upcoming election with American taxpayer dollars.

[20:10:05]

So, American taxpayers are paying for dirt on a person running for president.

HARRIS: Well, and you are absolutely right. These are in the Donald Trump's personal dollars. These are the -- these are the dollars of hard working Americans who have been paying taxes to their government with an expectation that that money will be used to their benefit in their best interests, which includes the best interests of national security.

But yet, Donald Trump is bartering and holding hostage American taxpayer dollars for the sake of his personal political benefit. And, again, let's remember that this money was to be used to support a partner in a democracy who has been trying to defend his country against an insurgent from Russia which is a longstanding adversary of our country.

And it is -- not, so the corruption is rampant in ways because it's not only about what might be for his personal benefit. It's also a misuse of public funds, in a way that is -- is unethical and is frankly in violation of all that we would expect the president as commander in chief would do for the best interests of national security.

COOPER: So strange yesterday, the Mulvaney press catastrophe was training on many levels. But one of the things he insisted on was that the Bidens had nothing -- dirt on Biden had nothing to do with what the president was seeking. It was all just this conspiracy theory about the server being in Ukraine and CrowdStrike. And that, yes, that was the quid pro quo that he wanted information on.

But I don't understand how with a straight face Mulvaney can claim that dirt on the Bidens had nothing to do with it when the president in the transcript not only says the Bidens -- that's item number two on his ask after the guy, you know, is asking for the aid, but also just on the White House lawn, I think was October 3rd when asked -- he was asked what did you want the Ukrainian president to do after the call? And he said words to the effect of did -- I don't have the exact transcript. He said investigate the Bidens, do something on the Bidens. He has said it multiple times.

HARRIS: He's committing -- he is committing -- he is committing these acts that are violations of the law in the open, in the plain sight of the American people. And I think there are some who might be confused and might try to interpret -- well, how could he possibly be committing a crime if it happens in public?

There are plenty of crimes, let me tell you as a former prosecutor, that happen in public and people seeing it are called witnesses and witnesses then come forward with evidence that proves that crime. And that's exactly what's going to happen in this case and what has been happening in the case and it both relates to what Donald Trump has done -- I mean, you know, Mick Mulvaney, people say well he must have meant something else how could he possibly have told the truth about the fact that this was quid pro quo?

That's called a confession. That also happens a lot in criminal cases.

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE)

HARRIS: So, what we are seeing is frankly not atypical in a criminal proceeding. And in criminal cases, which there are confessions. That's why we have that term. And we use it often.

COOPER: Yes.

HARRIS: That's why we have the term witnesses. Because often there are people mo actually observe the crime as it is happening. And so, this is what we are seeing with this case.

COOPER: I'm always fast nature in courtrooms in when a defendant or attorney argues, well, no one would be so stupid as to do what my client is accused of the way he is accused of it when in fact many people are that stupid to do things exactly as they are charged with. I'm sure you have seen that many times.

HARRIS: Yes.

COOPER: Senator Kamala Harris, I appreciate it. Thank you.

HARRIS: Yes. OK, take care. COOPER: All right. Take care.

Coming up next new reporting on White House damage control after Mick Mulvaney's admission that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo.

Later, one of the lawmakers raising concerns about the president's plan to hold next year's G-7 summit at his Florida country club.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:13]

COOPER: A remarkable week in the Ukraine affair ends with CNN exclusive reporting on testimony detailing Rudy Giuliani's efforts to obtain a visa for a Ukrainian official promising dirt on the Bidens. In addition, it comes with the White House full on damage control mode over Mick Mulvaney's quid pro quo admission though he didn't use the words quid pro quo, and then his un-admission, if you will.

CNN's Jim Acosta joins us with more on that.

So, talk about how the White House has been responding to all this.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they were continuing to say that up was down, that black was white. That Mick Mulvaney did not commit a gaffe, even though they put out a statement cleaning up what he said yesterday.

Anderson, I think when I tried to ask the president about this, it spoke volumes when I asked him, you know, whether or not there was some sort of contingency for Ukraine to receive this money for them to investigate the Democratic Party. He simply said that Mulvaney clarified what he said yesterday and then he moved on, and talked about many and sundry things.

But, Anderson, the president I think very revealingly did not once again reiterate that there was no quid pro quo and he really did not spend much time defending his chief of staff either.

COOPER: What -- I mean, is Mulvaney's future -- I mean, now in question?

ACOSTA: I do think that's a real question, Anderson. We were talking to a number of sources today. I talked to a couple who has said that Mulvaney has been on thin ice. He's been on shaky ground for several months now.

The president from time to time has sounded out the idea of whether or not he should keep Mulvaney around. But I talked to one source close to the president earlier this evening who said there might be some difficulty in giving Mulvaney the boot because of what he knows in terms of this Ukraine investigation.

But, Anderson, I will tell you one thing that we shall point out, Mulvaney will be at Camp David this weekend, according to a White House official meeting with GOP lawmakers on a range of issues. [20:20:08]

That is an indication that perhaps he is not in immediate jeopardy. But I want to show a quote that I got from a source close to the White House, a Trump adviser earlier this evening who is defending Mulvaney and saying, we all get turned into a pretzel defending Trump, that's the sad reality.

Anderson, at the end of this very long and exhausting week, where things were turned upside down from a fact standpoint, sad indeed -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

And not like -- pretzel taste good I'm not sure that's a great analogy.

We should note, even a few Republicans are having a tough time buying the White House line. Florida Congressman Francis Rooney telling reporters, quote, this isn't of an etch-a-sketch. You can't go and revise what you want in the cameras and say, oh, actually, I meant the opposite.

Joining us now, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, and investigative reporter and author, Carl Bernstein. He and Maggie are also CNN political analysts.

There are times I wish I could have reversed what I said on camera. Doesn't work that way. Does -- I mean, does the White House really expect anyone to believe that Mulvaney's reverse sell what he men to say? I mean, he seems like he was saying what he really thought. In fact was belligerent about it and told people to get over it.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He also was asked the question several times. So, it's hard to suggest he didn't understand. I don't know whether he meant to go that far. He certainly was not expected to go that far by people in the White House who knew he was talking about the Ukraine related issues, but nobody expected that the sentences that would come out was some version of, yes, this was a quid pro quo.

The White House I think knows they have a problem with this. I think they are just trying to turn the page as fast as possible and tell all of us that, you know, he didn't really say what he said, tell us that the president is not angry which actually just based on my reporting, I think the president is not as focused as people think he is.

COOPER: On the Mulvaney thing or in the Ukraine?

HABERMAN: On the Mulvaney thing. Aides are -- he is very focused on impeachment. But on the Mulvaney piece, aides are much more concerned about it. White House counsel's office is more concerned about it. Jay Sekulow put out a pretty remarkable statement yesterday, making clear that he didn't know about it. So, they are trying to mop this up. But to your point, it's not like,

you know, members of the House who were on the fence possibly about voting for impeachment are going to be swayed by actually, I didn't mean to say that. It's right out there.

COOPER: Yes.

Jeff, just in terms of Giuliani and the latest reporting by CNN, that he tried to get a visa for this -- you know, allegedly corrupt former prosecutor who he wanted to come to the United States and went to the White House. Is there anything illegal about that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there is a lot we still don't know. And the most important thing we don't know is where the money was come from for all of this. It's certainly not illegal -- who was paying Giuliani.

I mean, it's not illegal for him to talk to lots of different people. It remains mysterious like what his ultimate responsibility was. Was he working just as the president's personal lawyer? Was he working for the U.S. government? Was he working for the two Ukrainians who were just arrested?

"The Washington Post" --

COOPER: He's been in Ukraine for years with businesses, with trying to -- there was a mayor who wanted to hire him for security in Kiev, and then he ended up getting hired by somebody else.

TOOBIN: Correct. And the question is, you know, was he a foreign agent for them? Should he have registered?

I mean, I think, legally, the potentially biggest problem for him is the Foreign Agents Registration Act, that if he didn't register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine. But, you know, putting aside the technical legalities, it's just wildly inappropriate that he was doing all of this at the same time.

And one of the things we have seen all through the hearings this week is that people in the government knew it was inappropriate and they were frustrated and angry. But he had Donald Trump's support. So they had to deal with it.

COOPER: Carl, is there any legitimate reason you can think of that Rudy Giuliani would what Viktor Shokin to come to the U.S. for -- besides political reasons?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We haven't seen it. Perhaps for business reasons -- that's possible.

COOPER: Because, I mean all of this was being sold as anti-corruption in Ukraine. That's not really something he needs to be in the United States for. It's -- you know, that would be in Ukraine.

BERNSTEIN: No, and we're going to find out eventually why he wanted this -- this visa. But more important is the large question of we're looking at a conspiracy led by the president of the United States and his personal lawyer to undermine our own electoral system in the United States through the intervention of a foreign power.

That's -- that is a high crime. That -- and that's what we are looking at here. And that's what the impeachment thus far is about.

And it's also occurring at exactly the same time that the Ukrainian -- the -- pardon me that the Syrian adventure by the Turks with the president's support is really telling on a lot of Republicans in the Congress of the United States who are starting to criticize the president in a way any haven't before.

COOPER: Yes. Everyone, stay with us. We got to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about, including to Carl's point, Turkey's war against the Kurds and how some Republicans are more willing than others to blame President Trump by name.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The ceasefire President Trump said he negotiated but which Turkey said wasn't one may have ended. That's according to Kurdish fighters and witnesses who saw shelling and artillery fire in one border town today.

[20:30:00]

This afternoon, the president once again assisted the Kurds are "very happy with the way things are going."

No evidence of that, but we know who is not happy and that's the members of his own party. This was senator Mitt Romney on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: What we have done to the Kurds, we'll stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history. Was there more chance for diplomacy? Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?

I believe that it's imperative that public hearings are held to answer these questions. And I hope the Senate is able to conduct the hearings next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLASKETT: Romney's demand for accountability is far stronger than one made today by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Well, he does call US withdrawal a grave mistake in the op-ed in the Washington Post. He never named President Trump one time, which is a nifty trick when you think about it. He does whoever lash out at former President Obama three times by name.

Back with us is Jeff Toobin, Maggie Haberman and Carl Bernstein. Maggie, does -- do you have any explanation for the President's

behavior on this? I mean, the idea of, I know there's the promise to, you know, to get troops out, but we're talking about, you know, 50 to 100 US special forces who are in that border region, which was preventing this invasion that the President has now said he knew was going to come because they've been watching the troops amassing on the border for quite some time. And then, he sends 2,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. So it's not as if there's a big withdrawal of troops from that area of the world over there.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, in his argument in terms of the Saudi Arabia troops is that, he claims that Saudi Arabia is paying for it, which actually makes our troops mercenaries in ways we are unused to seeing this.

I mean, I think a couple of things, Anderson. A, I think according to every source I have, the President has always been fairly pliant in his conversations with Erdogan. I think that was the case here as well.

COOPER: He got rolled by Erdogan.

HABERMAN: And pretty much based on the descriptions that I've heard of this call. I also don't think he cares very much about that area of the world. I mean, I think that's clear. And I think --

COOPER: But he said, it's nothing but sand. Let them fight over it.

HABERMAN: And I think that, he is when you take away all of that language, I think you get to a policy, it's not really a policy but an impulse that he has had on foreign policy for a long time, which is essentially come home America. And, you know, voters do not favor these overseas engagements that he believes that Obama created a mess in Syria. And I think he feels like he is not going to perpetuate that.

And he has some gut instinct that voters agree with him, and that this is not going to hurt him personally. It's not at all talking about, is this the right thing to do from a humanitarian front. He's not talking whether it's the right thing to do in terms of allies who have fought with the US, but is it, as he tends to see all things, how it well impact him, and he thinks it's not going to hurt him politically.

COOPER: Carl, what's so interesting to me about this is, you know, if you go back to during the Mueller investigation, the one talking point that so many Republicans on this network and elsewhere would say in defense of the president and his tough -- in his self-professed toughness against Russia was that, there were US troops in Syria and that, there was even a fight in which Russian-backed forepersons were killed by US forces. And that that shows the President's resolve and that he bombed, you know, an airfield.

He is now given all of the rest of -- the one third of Syria to the Assad regime and to Russian-backed forces, and Iranian-backed forces.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And walked away, took us out of the picture completely, and opened this piece of business in a terrible place to slaughter. But more important, Senator Romney is onto something here. There is a record of what the president has done here. And it's in the phone calls or phone call with Erdogan. And it's also in whatever he and Putin have discussed about this matter.

And just as we saw the readout of the conversations with the president of Ukraine, it is essential that the Congress of the United States have a look at the readout of these conversations in some kind of hearings conducted by the Intelligence Committee or another committee of the Senate.

Because what we are finding is, the President of the United States once again, as General Mattis and others keep saying, and the generals and admirals revolting against this President are saying, he is undermining this national security of the United States. And we have a roadmap to find out whether or not that's the case.

And that's in those same lock box phone calls at the National Security Council, and the people who witnessed and heard, and read the readouts of those phone calls, they need to come before the Senate of the United States as Romney has suggested.

[20:35:00]

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, is there -- well, I mean, just from a legal standpoint, there's no way whatever phone calls are out there that they're just going to be given up.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No.

COOPER: And we don't even know if, by the way, that the transcript that we have seen, the rough transcript of the readout of the call with the Ukrainian president, we don't know now accurate it is. We don't know --

TOOBIN: No.

COOPER: It's not a word for word as the president claim it was.

TOOBIN: And one of the deeply weird things about how the whole Ukraine scandal has unfolded is that, they have objected to disclosing basically any sorts of documents, any White House interviews, yet they have released the partial transcript of this phone call which presidents almost never release.

I mean, that is an area where I think no court would ever force them to disclose, you know, president, head of state to head of state phone calls. I mean, those are sort of the sacrosanct private foreign policy records of the president. So I don't think we're ever going to see the Putin records, the Erdogan records, but they chose to release the Ukraine phone call.

COOPER: It seems like they thought it actually was good for them.

TOOBIN: I mean, just shows when you listen to Donald Trump saying something is perfect, you better check it first. HABERMAN: I think part of the issue with that phone call.

BERNSTEIN: If I could interject one thing --

COOPER: Hold on. Maggie was talking.

BERNSTEIN: Yes, go ahead, Maggie.

HABERMAN: No, no, it's fine. I think part of the issue with the phone wall is I think that there were early reports that they felt they were trying to knockdown, which was specifically how many times Biden's name was mentioned and so forth, but it really didn't matter. If you look at the context of the call and the way in which Biden was mentioned once was plenty.

COOPER: We are out of time, so we're going to have to continue this conversation another time. Carl, thank you, Jeff Toobin, Maggie Haberman.

President Trump and his acting Chief of Staff say, there's nothing wrong with hosting the G7 at President's Florida golf resort in Doral. Up next, we'll talk with the member of the House Judiciary Committee on Democrat's plan to investigate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:00]

COOPER: Well, as norm breaking as it may seem to be for President Trump to award himself and his Florida golf resort a no bid contract to host next year's G7, it is also actually a pattern.

He and the vice president both have gone out of their way to stay at his golf course in Ireland. The President has also stayed at his resorts in Scotland and Hawaii during overseas trips. Overnight stops by members of the Air Force have increased at his Scottish resort. Attorney General Williams Barr is reported planning a holiday bash at Trump's DC hotel.

The 3 0:00:57.4 booked hundreds of rooms there after the 2016 election. The President even plugged his own Charlottesville Winery in 2017 whole responding to the neo-Nazi violence that occurred there three days earlier.

Despite the pattern, however, his acting Chief of Staff says nothing to see here. It is all on the up and up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We're going to do the 46th G7 Summit on June 10th through 12th at the Trump National Doral Facility in Miami. Doral was by far and away, far and away the best physical facility for this meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes. The president don't doesn't even hide what he is trying to do here either. Listen to how he pitched his resort in August.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows, that each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants, it's like such a natural. Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Anyway, a source tells CNN that Doral wasn't even on the list of venues because of ethical concerns. Mulvaney yesterday said it was the President who suggested it, surprise.

Just before air time, I spoke with Congressman Steve Cohen who sits on the Judiciary Committee about what Democrats plan to do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Congressman Cohen, is this anything other than the President awarding a huge federal contract to himself? I mean, does anyone really believe that, you know, this resort, the Doral, was far and away the best physical facility for this meeting as the White House says?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I can't imagine travel and leisure choosing this resort. And, you know, June in Miami is not exactly the prime season, that's when they're making all kind of deals to come down here at 50 percent off in Miami at that time of year.

This is self-dealing. This is just the utmost grifting and arrogance to take as much money and prestige as he can from his job and extend it to himself and his family.

And, you know, generally politicians are taut to avoid even appearance of impropriety. This just smacks of impropriety. The appearance is so far off the charts, this is main lining it.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, it's free advertising for media from around the world which covers these events. You know, the whole notion that the President won't actually profit from this, that Doral will do it at cost. If they won't release documentation showing how Doral was chosen, it certainly hard to believe that are going to release documentation showing that they made no money off of it.

COHEN: The President makes money off of everything. That's what the President lives for, is to make money, and to see his name in big, big letters on buildings. He will make money on this. The occupancy rate is low in early June. And he'll charge and make lots of money, and he'll charge the government for lots of other things.

Today, I joined with Representative Lois Frankel and Representative Bennie Thompson introducing THUG Act, which Rump Heist at the G7. It require the Trump administration to release all of the information on how they chose the Doral, who the other competitors were and what the rating system was, and what they did, and also ban the United States government from spending any money at the Doral for the G7.

We hope we get a hearing and a vote in the House, and we hope the Senate comes to their senses.

COOPER: You know, if this were any other federal employee, I mean, they could be facing criminal charges even prison for trying to profit from their position. Those conflicts of interest rules don't apply to the president because it was believed when they were written that they didn't need to apply to the president, that a president would be above doing something like this. And yet, here we are.

COHEN: Yes. I mean, it would be obviously self-dealing.

[20:45:01]

And, you know, there is just so many places where you'd rather be in June and other facilities that could accommodate this type of event in a better way. But just to, you know, the first thing you learn even is even -- I would think as a small time alderman in a small town is to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

This man has no shame, no shame whatsoever.

COOPER: It's a great point that you raise about Florida during the summer, not being obviously the high tourist time at a resort like this. The Cooper family has reunions in a state park In Mississippi in the summer and I can tell you it is really, really hot.

COHEN: Yes, I lived in Florida as a kid. The only thing -- early bird special is about the only thing you got going in June.

COOPER: Well, they probably have that at the Doral as well. Congressman Cohen, appreciate it. Thank you.

COHEN: I imagine they do. You're welcome, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, still to come, rarely seen White House press secretary surfaces and makes a guest appearance on "The Ridiculist."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:00]

COOPER: Busy week, another busy Friday night. I want to check in with Chris and see what he's working on for "Cuomo Primetime."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. A little bit of culmination and reset. I believe that the CNN exclusive about Rudy Giuliani trying to get this visa, really ends the discussion of what this situation was about, and what it involved in terms of different methods and means by the President and those around him.

So the argument becomes to the left, what are you going to do about it, what do you believe this rises to the left of and why. And the right, how can you ignore saying this is wrong.

You can argue all day about whether or not it's impeachable. I honestly see both sides of that argument, but you cannot ignore what happened. You cannot ignore that it was wrong, and you cannot ignore that it was an abuse of office.

So how was that done? We'll test both sides and we've got Anthony Scaramucci for the mindset of where the right is.

COOPER: Certainly seems like there's a lot of Republicans who have figured out a way to just ignore it.

CUOMO: Well, I mean, look, you got the Jim Jordan's, right? But I believe that's the irrational right, that they are with this president out of filthy. And I don't know that that will apply to the main because they have to worry about their personal dignity at some point, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, we'll see. I'll watch the show.

CUOMO: I'm an optimist.

COOPER: You sure are, nine minutes from now, see you then.

Coming up next, the art form is best appreciated by gaslight, watching the White House try to get us to unsee what we all saw live on national television. See for yourself on "The Ridiculist."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:00]

COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, we commend the bravery of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who finally got a brief furlough from West Wing Witness Protection. Grisham popped her head out this morning to check in with her supervisors over at Fox News. Though, it seems like she saw her shadow and now back under ground for six more weeks of stonewalling.

The rarely seen press secretary who, since taken that job over the summer, has actually yet to hold a formal news briefing appeared on "Fox & Friends."

By the way, I just want to point out, it's "Fox & Friends," it's got an ampersand. It's not "Fox & Friends," you know, Kibbles 'N Bits or Shake 'N Bake, that's what I thought it was, so I checked. You can, you know, take that off your list of great unknowns.

Grisham's appearance came less 24 hours after acting Chief of Staff Mick "Great Muffet Keeper" Mulvaney's news conference, which drew huge reviews ranging from not helpful to a confession.

Now, for her part, though, Grisham said that Mulvaney did everything a good accomplice should.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He did a great job. He mentioned the same message over and over, and over. And now, the media, of course, is, you know, we put a statement out clarifying some of the things that the media got themselves in a tizzy over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tizzy. Damn, Grisham's a truth teller. I mean, you know what, let the chips fall where they may. Stephanie don't care. Does everybody working for the President have to debase themselves and lie like he does? Apparently, so.

I thought, John Grisham was a great story teller. But I got to say, Stephanie Grisham may haven't be. In the alternative universe version of what happened, Mulvaney stayed on message, did a great job and the White House only had to clarify his statement because the media was in such a tizzy.

Frigging media, always in a tizzy over silly little things like using the presidency for corrupt personal gain, using American taxpayer money to coerce a desperate leader of a country under attack by Russians to dig up dirt damaging President Trump's political opponents in the upcoming election, that's nothing.

Stephanie had more criticism for the press today, though, it turns out what she said was actually something she's work shopped before on "Fox & Friends."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRISHAM: I think as evidence by yesterday with Mick, it was again more theater. It is about people wanting to be on TV and making names for themselves. It had become again theater, and they weren't being good to his people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Ooh, Stephanie. You got to increase your vocabulary. I mean, your criticism, theater now has been used twice.

I mean, Grisham, clearly doesn't get to Broadway enough if she, you know, thinks those press conferences are theater. Maybe on one of these seven days a week, she's not doing her job, she can catch maybe a (inaudible) Hamilton. Just tell them like Pence sent you, probably get free tickets.

Also, I hate to break it to her but TV reporters are already on TV. So no need to try to get on TV because that's where they work, on TV. It's tough to grasp but it's actually how the entire TV medium works. I am on TV right now.

And newspaper reporters, they are covering the White House so they probably already made a name for themselves. You know what I mean? It's a position that used to be kind of an exalted position of people wanted to be there covering it because important things happened at the old White Houses. Holding the President and his staff to account, that's not theater. Theater is, I don't know, the president spending taxpayers' dollars on a military parade for the purpose of fluffing his own ego, that would theater. Theater is, you know, campaigning next to a pile of steaks that you claim your company sells but, in fact, someone on your staff bought them at a nearby butcher.

Theater -- remember when that happened? I can't believe that actually happened. The steaks used to be sold , I'm in a tizzy, used to be sold at a sharper image when he actually sold steaks. Theater is standing in front of bunch of novelty size stacks of paper and telling the people you're not going to have anything to do with your family business, which you then spend your presidency pushing money toward.

And Stephanie Grisham can say whatever she wants from her perks on "Fox & Friends," but you know what? When she finally exits the stage as all the president's people seem to do, whether they want to or not, let's see whether the president is in a tizzy or not when he delivers here review on "The Ridiculist," what really he say.

The news continues, I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Primetime," Chris?