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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Source: Mueller Pushed for Gates' Help on Collusion; Attorney General Does Not Appoint a Second Special Counsel; Interview with David Shulkin. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired March 29, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin with breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation. Now, as you know by now, the president calls it a witch hunt, of course, says there was no collusion during the campaign with Russia. His defenders say at worse and at worse, this is about the minor league misdeeds, the unrelated misdeeds of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort or Manafort's deputy, Rick Gates. In short, they say it's much ado about nothing.
Well, tonight, for the first time, CNN is learning a key figure in the investigation, a figure who is a cooperating witness, we should point out, is helping Mueller make the collusion case. Now, I want to underscore those two words. He's helping.
That witness is Rick Gates. Tonight for the first time, we know how he's helping.
For a time, it was believed that Mueller was manly using Gates for information about Manafort, his former close associate. But now, CNN is learning Mueller is not primarily interested in what Gates has to know about Manafort. No, instead, CNN is learning that Mueller has been seeking information from Gates about the central question, did members of the Trump campaign work with a hostile foreign policy to win the election?
Evan Perez is one of the teams of professionals who broke this story. He joins us now.
So, explain what you've learned.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is fascinating. This is all in discussions happening last year, months before Rick Gates decided to plead guilty. In those discussions with the prosecutors from Robert Mueller's office, Gates was told they didn't need him to flip on Paul Manafort to provide information against Paul Manafort. Instead, what they said they needed him for was their core mission, which is looking into possible illegal coordination between Trump campaign and Russians, what people called collusion.
And so, this is a big deal, simply because despite what you hear from the president, despite what you hear from the White House, it appears Robert Mueller has not given up on the question of collusion, the question of collusion is very much what he wants Rick Gates to perhaps help his prosecutors come up with a case on.
So, again, what we hear from the president, what we are hearing now from people who were close to these discussions with Rick Gates, appears to show a different picture that very much paints a picture that Robert Mueller is not done with the question of collusion.
COOPER: And are there indications now of how this is playing out exactly with Gates?
PEREZ: Well, we're beginning to see a little bit of that, because earlier this week, there was a filing in a separate case involving a lawyer who had done -- whose law firm had done some work for the Manafort company. And in that filing, the government just dropped a line that said that Rick Gates was in frequent contact with someone that they assess to be a Russian intelligence agent. They didn't name the person, but we know that person to be Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with the Manafort company in Ukraine and in Russia.
And again the government doesn't -- hasn't made that allegation directly in the Manafort case. But it's the first time we've seen them making a direct connection between Manafort, the Trump campaign, and alleged Russian spies. That's a big deal.
COOPER: So, this person who is working for Manafort in Ukraine, my understanding is has a residence in Ukraine as well as in Moscow, and was formerly with what, the GRU or the Russian intelligence service?
PEREZ: Right, exactly. He had some training -- according to his bio, he has some training from one of the Russian intelligent services, the GRU.
Now, he has told "The Washington Post" that he doesn't have any association with Russian intelligence or any intelligent service. And so, the question here now though is, you know, obviously, they told one thing, the prosecutors told one thing to Rick Gates during these negotiations, but we'll see whether, when this trial against Paul Manafort, he is facing criminal charges and could go on trial this summer, whether Rick Gates is needed in that trial.
COOPER: Right. I guess the other question is, what kind of information might Gates have had access to that Robert Mueller might be interested in?
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And there is a lot we don't know about. We do know, of course, that Gates was very close -- worked very closely with Paul Manafort.
But even after Paul Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign, Rick Gates continued to work with the campaign. He even stayed on, into the inauguration for Donald Trump. So, there is a lot that he was there.
He wasn't exactly close inside the inner circle of Donald Trump, but according to people we've talked to, he very much liked to keep tabs on the comings and goings, he was definitely still associated with the campaign at the time of that Trump tower meeting -- the meeting where Paul Manafort was meeting with Russians, allegedly, to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. So, there is a lot he could have for the Mueller team.
COOPER: All right. Evan Perez, fascinating. Thanks very much.
I want to bring in our legal panel, Jeffrey Toobin, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and Paul Callan.
So, I mean, it's really fascinating, Jeff, that this whole time people were assuming Rick Gates role was essentially he pled guilty -- you know, he made a plea deal in order to -- he was turn, in order to get the person above him, who was Paul Manafort, but this is a whole other kind of aspect to it.
[20:05:08] JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right, and I'm certain he will be an important witness against Paul Manafort.
COOPER: He can still be called --
TOOBIN: Of course. And, you know, if you read the indictment of Manafort, it's virtually every paragraph says Manafort and Gates did this, Manafort and Gates did that. So, he will be an important witness in that case.
But obviously Mueller has his eye on the ball, which is not the Manafort case. It's the Trump campaign, and did they work with Russian interests to win the election. Gates was involved with the Trump campaign and he was as Evan reported in contact with someone who is a Russian intelligence agent.
What they said, what the exchanges were, was there a quid pro quo negotiation, we don't know that yet, but it is a very significant development.
COOPER: Congresswoman, it also fights back against what people at the White House have been saying, the president's supporters have been saying, pundits on TV have been saying, that all of that alleged crime that Manafort and Gates were being accused of by Mueller had happened a long time before the campaign, before any involvement with Donald Trump, according to this latest reporting. I mean, Rick Gates is being asked about conversations he may have had with this alleged Russian operative, even during the campaign.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, ATTORNEY: Oh, yes. Well, Republicans sadly have been trying simply to obscure what's going on and try to divert public attention from what's really -- what the real issues are. The question is, as you both have been saying, did the Trump campaign, did Donald Trump collude with the Russian government to undermine the U.S. election?
And Gates has a lot to say about that. Gates might even know, well, Gates might even know what happened at this infamous meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. in which the Russians came, he held the meeting in order to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Everyone said, nothing happened at that meeting. But Manafort was at that meeting. Likely he told Gates what happened at that meeting.
So, there is a lot of information Gates could have. One, about these contacts with the Russian intelligence agent and about Manafort and other actions in the campaign.
COOPER: Paul, in order for Gates to have gotten a plea deal, can you just explain how that sort of works? I mean, there is a proffer session, isn't there, where essentially he's asked to say everything that he would potentially say, it's kind of a free pass for that day?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a free pass for the day. As a matter of fact, they used to call queen for a day. For that day, anything you say will not be used against you in a criminal case, except for one thing. If you lie to the prosecutors or to the FBI during that session, you can be prosecuted for that.
So, a proffer session obviously occurred and my bet is that in that proffer session, Gates revealed, Russian connections, because the Manafort indictment indicates that the road to Russia leads through the Ukraine, where Manafort had a lot of connections. When those connections started to close down, they were Russian connections, because it was a Russian government in the Ukraine at that time.
COOPER: Pro-Russian government.
CALLAN: And those connections led back to Russia. And, you know, I think that Mueller saw that right away. I mean, he wasn't sent out to indict Manafort for money laundering. He targeted Manafort because he knew Manafort had information about the Russian connection and it's now finally developing I think through Gates and this proffer session that you asked about.
COOPER: Jeff, what do you make of the fact Gates made this plea deal, Paul Manafort is still fighting this in court?
TOOBIN: Paul Manafort is in desperate, desperate trouble. He's filed motions saying that Mueller doesn't have the authority to bring these cases. It's outside of his jurisdiction. But I think he is in an almost indefensible position. I don't know how he's going to defend this case at trial. I think a guilty plea from Manafort is far from out of the question at this point.
I think, you know, he -- the trial is months away, but I -- I have a lot of doubt that that case will ever go to trial.
COOPER: Unless he thinks he can get a pardon from the president.
TOOBIN: Well, he can get a pardon after pleading guilty, too. I mean, so that's, you know, it's not necessarily an either/or. But you're right, if he doesn't want to cooperate, if he doesn't want to talk, a pardon is certainly his best option.
COOPER: But, you know, in the proper session preceding the guilty plea, they'd be looking for information about Trump. If word gets back to Trump about that, maybe Trump doesn't give him a pardon. So, that might be a reason for him to wait until the trial is over. HOLTZMAN: There's another interesting nugget here, which is the
Russian intelligence agency that this person allegedly worked for was a GRU, which is the military intelligence. Fast forward to Roger Stone, he had -- he admitted conversations before the election with someone called Guccifer.
[20:10:03] COOPER: Guccifer 2.0, yes.
HOLTZMAN: Right. And he is allegedly part of the GRU, too. So this may suggest some kind of deep connections that we don't really know but that Mueller is probing and may know the answer to.
COOPER: I'm wondering, do you see similarities -- you were involved in the entire Watergate investigation. Do you see similarities between the Trump and Nixon inner circles or differences?
HOLTZMAN: Well, it's hard to know. Because, well, what I would say is what strikes me and struck me from the beginning was the thing we discovered in Watergate, when we listened to the tapes, was that Richard Nixon was orchestrating the cover-up from the get-go.
It wasn't his aides. He was giving the direction. You go to the CIA, tell him to stop the FBI investigation. That was Nixon talking.
And we see hints here that Donald Trump, himself, is taking a lead on some cover-up aspects. For example, writing the press release involving the son's meeting in the Trump Towers.
HOLTZMAN: So, we see --
TOOBIN: Firing James Comey.
HOLTZMAN: Firing James Comey. So, we see an intimate involvement with Donald Trump. He's not remote, removed. He's deeply involved and people very close to him are deeply involved with various aspects of this.
COOPER: Elizabeth Holtzman, thank you. Paul Callan and Jeff Toobin, as well.
That won't be the only Russia-related item for the president to ponder or possibly stew over. The other centers on a decision from perhaps his least favorite cabinet member, but favorite Twitter punching bag, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As you know, the president, Republican lawmakers and especially right wing talk show hosts have been pushing for Sessions to name a special counsel to look into what they call the real election scandal misconduct they say by the FBI.
They did not get their wish. The attorney general did not deliver what they and the president wanted.
CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now with more.
So, talk about this decision from the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Attorney
General Sessions is trying to offer something of a delicate compromise here, stopping well short of the formal appointment of a special counsel that his party as you said has demanded for months, but tapping a career federal prosecutor with essentially all of the same powers to investigate a range of Republican claims that the FBI engaged in misconduct when it came to investigating Hillary Clinton and wrongfully they say obtained a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
And the man now at the center of the partisan struggle is John Huber, a federal prosecutor who received bipartisan report in the past, in the past, serving under both President Trump and Obama as the U.S. attorney in Utah. And he's been something of a mystery man for months. Sessions had previously said he had someone outside of Washington looking into all these allegations mounted by Republicans. But today, Sessions confirmed he will rely on Huber to tell him if he needs to appoint a special counsel down the line, Anderson.
COOPER: Do we know why Sessions made this decision and made at this it the way he did, not through a special counsel but do it this other way?
JARRETT: Well, Republicans have repeatedly said a special counsel was needed, because the Justice Department's internal watchdog, the inspector general couldn't bring formal criminal charges. And there was a real need for someone independent to investigate allegations of bias at the FBI.
In a certain respect, you can say Sessions appears to have answered that call with a solution that uses someone outside of Washington but stopped short of a Mueller-like appointment that has only been used twice in history and was supposed to be reserved for extraordinary circumstances.
And it's interesting, Anderson, so far no major public blowback from Republican lawmakers. The real question, of course, is, how will President Trump react to all of this?
COOPER: Jarrett, thanks very much.
One other quick legal note, today, a judge ruled against Stormy Daniels, putting a stop -- a temporary stop, we should say, to efforts by her attorney to depose the president and his attorney, Michael Cohen. The judge called eh motion premature. But no doubt, there will be more action on that in the days and weeks ahead.
Coming up next, fired V.A. Secretary David Shulkin is firing back tonight at efforts to privatize the V.A., he says, and the politics of Washington that he now calls toxic and subversive. He is speaking out about his departure. I'll ask him about the non-partisan inspector general's investigation that put a cloud over his tenure. He joins me coming up.
And later, the president's claim about the border wall that he says is now under construction, even though the facts actually say something completely differently. How about that? We're keeping them honest, ahead on 360.
[20:18:08] COOPER: The president left Washington before tonight's Russia news broke. And whatever he makes of it this weekend at Mar-a- Lago, he's going to be doing it for the first time as president without communications director Hope Hicks close by.
Today was her last day in the job and she leaves, of course, with the president's warm wishes. Our next guest tonight does not. David Shulkin was fired yesterday as secretary of veterans affairs secretary, the last high level Obama appointee in the administration. And the subject, as we'll discuss, the controversy as well as the probe by the inspector general.
Quickly, though, a word about his replacement, doctor, Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson. He's the president's personal physician. By all accounts, a highly talented doctor. He's perhaps best known for his effusive praise of his patient's good health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RONNY JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE DOCTOR: I think he will make it for duty for the remainder of this term and even for the remainder of another term if he's elected.
REPORTER: Can you explain to me how a guy who eats McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken and all those Diet Cokes and never exercises is in as good a shape as you say he's in?
JACKSON: It's called genetics, I don't know. Some people have, you know, just great genes. To answer your question is he has incredible good genes, that's just the way god made him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, CNN has learned that the president was impressed with his performance and how Dr. Jackson handled himself on camera factored into getting on the job, which, keeping them honest, involves managing a department of 370,000 employees, providing health care and other benefits to millions of veterans. It's something outgoing Secretary David Shulkin grappled with for better or worse.
I spoke with him about it just before air time.
COOPER: Secretary Shulkin, you wrote in your op-ed today that you accomplished a lot in your time at the V.A. and you think you got let go because of your opposition to privatizing the V.A. How do you see that? What's the evidence of that?
DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Well, I think since I've been secretary, we have gotten a lot done in a bipartisan way. And, you know, I believe strongly, Anderson, that when it comes to V.A. and national security, we can't make this a political issue. And I have been running this department trying to work with both sides of the aisle.
[20:20:02] But there were some political appointees in my administration that didn't see it that way and really wanted us to take a much harder stance towards privatization. I wasn't willing to do that. I don't think that's the right thing for veterans and I stood up against them.
COOPER: So, you think it was Trump appointees within the V.A.?
SHULKIN: Yes, I do.
COOPER: You did take a trip to Europe last year. The inspector general of the V.A. investigated, found among other things that the Wimbledon tickets you accepted, that was an improper gift. A large portions of the trip were for personal reasons, your wife's travel shouldn't be paid for by the V.A.
How big a part has that been in your dismissal?
SHULKIN: Well, listen, I've been clear. This has been a trip of the five allies that we've been doing for 43 years. Every V.A. secretary attends. My wife was invited. She's a physician. Every other V.A. secretary has brought their wives when they're invited to conferences.
It was all preapproved by our ethics department. There was no surprises here. It was a single coach airfare. When the inspector general looked at it six months later and had concerns, I wrote a check to the government.
So, I think this was an issue that clearly had been dealt with and it was used in a political way to try to limit my effectiveness.
COOPER: Do you think it was -- the investigation was political? It's the V.A.'s inspector general, which is apolitical office. Their responsibility is to provide fair oversight, obviously for the V.A. Do you think it was politics on their decision?
SHULKIN: No, I'm not making any type of statement like that about the inspector general. As you said, the inspector general has as its mission to investigate. I think that's totally appropriate. They had certain findings. I think the way the findings were used -- were used in a political way. Not by the inspector general, but by the political appointees within V.A.
COOPER: CNN is reporting that you received warnings from the White House not to go on that trip. I'm wondering, who from the White House warned you and why then did you go on the trip?
SHULKIN: Well, it's simply not true. It absolute never happen. Everybody knew about this trip. We had notified all the national security agencies, the White House, everybody in my organization knew about it.
This was not a surprise trip. It had been on the books for close to two years, in fact, because that's how often these five allies meet together. There was never anybody who raised a single concern about this. As I said, everything was pre-approved.
COOPER: You said it was appointees behind this, I'm wondering -- I mean, can you name them? Who, in particular, are you talking about? I read you had problems with -- even the communications department there. You didn't feel that they were representing you well.
SHULKIN: Well, look, you know, fortunately, I'm not -- I'm not in office. I don't need to play this politics. I have no axe to grind here.
But all of the political appointees that were involved in this they all -- their names have been in the newspapers. Their memos, where they plotted to get rid of me as secretary, my chief of staff, my deputy secretary, that's all in the public domain. This isn't anybody making any of this up. There is all documentation about this.
And, look, my focus and where I hope the Department of Veteran Affairs goes, is to get back to its business it needs to be focused on, which is fixing this system, because our veterans need it.
COOPER: You know Dr. Ronny Jackson, the man that President Trump tapped to replace you. I want to read you something that John Brennan, the former CIA director, tweeted about him today. Quote: I personally know and greatly respect Ronny Jackson as a terrific doctor and navy officer. However, he has neither the experience nor the credentials to run the very large and complex V.A. It is a terribly misguided nomination that will hurt both a good man and our veterans.
Is he right?
SHULKIN: Well, I also know Dr. Jackson. He's a friend of mine. I have considerable respect for him. He's a great public servant. I will do everything I can to help Dr. Jackson succeed in this position.
This is a tough position. There's no doubt about it. This is one of the most complex organizations anywhere to run.
COOPER: This is a huge management role here. We're talking hundreds of thousands of employees, hundreds of thousands of customers.
SHULKIN: We're talking about -- yes, we're talking about 375,000 employees, a budget of close to $200 billion next year and a very complex organization. And so, it is going to be a challenge for anybody to take.
Fortunately, we have a process that we go through where Senate confirmation is required and all these questions will be brought out. But, look, I have confidence that Dr. Jackson is a person who is honorable and cares about our veterans.
COOPER: But can somebody without management experience, whether it's Dr. Jackson or somebody else, someone without managing a large organization, as you say, hundreds of thousands of employees, can they do this job?
SHULKIN: This is a tough job for anybody to do. What the successful secretary needs to do is to build a team around them because this is bigger than any one person, and to work very collaboratively with veteran service organizations and Congress.
[20:25:00] COOPER: Secretary Shulkin, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SHULKIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, we're going to take you to that part of the border wall that President Trump says is well on its way to being built. Only it isn't.
We're keeping them honest, ahead.
COOPER: On his way to Florida for the Easter weekend, President Trump stopped in Ohio to give, what his aides said was a speech on infrastructure. He also spent a fair amount of time on other topics, including his plans to build that border wall.
Here's part of what he told the crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We started building our wall. I'm so proud of it. We started. We started. We have $1.6 billion. We have already started. You saw the pictures yesterday. I said what a thing of beauty.
And on September 28th, we go further, and we are getting that sucker built.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COPPER: Well, he referred to pictures there. And this is what he meant, a tweet he sent out saying, quote, great briefing this afternoon on the start of our southern border wall.
The tweet was accompanied by these photos which were trying to prove his point.
The problem, we've learned those photos don't show the start of a new border wall at all. Keeping them honest, this is now the second we know of the administration is trying to claim that new construction of the president's border wall is going on when, in fact, it's not.
Last year, you may remember Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stood in the White House briefing room and showed reporters photographs of construction at two locations, as he said, prove that stuff, as he called it, was going up because President Obama was fulfilling his promise to build a wall. You might remember, we sent Gary Tuchman to on of those locations check things out, here's a part of that report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Construction workers here tell us this is the exact portion of fence where the picture was taken. The opening in the fence of the photo is now closed with that gate. Interestingly the picture was taken from the other side of the fence on the Mexican side. The mountains that you see in the background are the mountains here in New Mexico.
(voice-over): The budget director declared, "This stuff is going up now because the President wants to make this country safe. But keeping them honest, this stuff has nothing to do with President Trump. Daphne Griffin works at a restaurant right near the boarder.
DAPHNE GRIFFIN, RESTAURANT WORKER: This particular wall came from the Bush administration.
(on-camera): Is that common knowledge in this area?
GRIFFIN: Yes, absolutely.
COOPER: So Mulvaney's claim was wrong, the fence he claimed was part of a promise to build a new boarder wall was actually repaired to a wall that was built during the George W. Bush administration.
So, you can imagine our skepticism when the President tweeted out these picture yesterday. You also might imagine we would send Gary Tuchman to check it out which we did. And here's what he found.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): When the mayor of Calexico, California read the President's tweet claiming a fence in her community was the start of a southern border wall. She wasn't happy about it.
MARITZA HURTADO, MAYOR, CALEXICO CALIFORNIA: We all as a community want to make sure the people out there in this country know that Calexico, California is not the beginning of a wall project for the Trump administration. It is completely different.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The director of International Affairs for the neighboring city of Mexicali wasn't as diplomatic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew that it was a lie.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): The pictures were taken here. We're standing in Imperial County, California, in the city of Calexico, on the other side of this fence, the city of Mexicali, Mexico. This is not the start of a southern boarder wall. The fence here is new. But it's a long awaited replacement fence.
(voice-over): You can't get very close to the construction on the security conscious American side. But on the Mexican side, you can get right next to it. Close enough to talk to the American workers.
(on-camera): I just want to ask you quick question, is this -- have you been told this is the start of the southern border wall?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): You don't know if it is. How long is the project? OK.
(voice-over): The construction worker said he was not permitted to answer questions. But just feet away, the Mexican police officers monitoring the construction did talk to us. All saying the same thing. There's always been a fence here, this is nothing new.
GILBERTO BARAZA, MEXICO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Who required us, (INAUDIBLE) no contacts (ph).
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Do you remember a time when there was nothing here?
TUCHMAN: Siempre, always.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've always had fence or a barrier of some kind, as long as I can remember.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This portion of old fence replaced was put up two decades ago during the Clinton administration. But as far back as the 1920s, there was a chain link fence separate in the countries. The replacement fence is being paid for by a White House that still has no congressional permission to build any of the prototype walls the President has inspected.
(on-camera): In addition to this not being the start of a southern border wall, the President with his tweets is highlighted a relatively skimpy project. The entire southern border is just shy of 2,000 miles long, this replacement fence will be about two miles long.
(voice-over): About two miles long and nowhere close to a real start of a new border wall.
COOPER: So, Gary, has the White House responded to what you found, that basically the President was wrong in his tweets?
TUCHMAN: Yes. We reached out to the White House this morning, Anderson. We asked them why President Trump has dependably said this is the beginning of a southern boarder, the very at least implied it is, and we haven't heard any response from the White House.
I do want to tell you, this has long been a popular place for people to illegally cross, and frankly, that's why there has been some type of barrier here for more than 90 years. And there is at love terrifying and sad news that happens here. We saw this morning just about two miles in that direction to the west on this dirt road, we saw the border patrol looking inside this canal, and they found the body of a man who could not survive the current trying to get into this country. And as we speak that man is in the morgue, Anderson.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, I appreciate you being there.
Coming up. One of the teenagers who survived the shooting massacre at his high school, David Hogg did not get into some of the colleges he applied to, you might ask why we even bringing this up, because a Fox News personality decided to mock him for it. The story and how Fox is responding today after advertisers started running away when we continue.
[20:38:31] COOPER: Another Fox News personality is facing fleeing advertisers. This time is Laura Ingraham more -- why in a moment. But it is the latest controversy for Fox, the family of Seth Rich who murdered DNC staffer had sued the network and others for pushing conspiracy theories about his death. Police say it was probably a botched robbery that did not of course stop Sean Hannity from relentlessly pedaling unfounded claims trying to tie the case of the DNC hacking. This happened night after night until he started losing advertisers. Now it's Laura Ingraham, who is feeling the wrath of advertisers.
Randi Kaye, reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura Ingraham took aim then fired a off this tweet. David Hogg rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it. Ingraham's tweet linked to a story from a conservative news site which described Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting as a gun rights provocateur.
That was Wednesday morning, by Thursday afternoon, another tweet and wildly different tone from the Fox News host apologizing in the spirit of holy week to the brave victims of Parkland. Why the about-face? Because Hogg who has a 4.2 GPA had been tweeting, too, calling for advertisers to boycott Ingraham's Fox News show. At least three brands now promising to cut ties with Ingraham.
(on-camera): After Ingraham apologized, Hogg tweeted he would only accept her apology if she denounce how her network is treated Parkland survivors. No response from Ingraham. Hogg also took heat from right-wing media like Breitbart on info wars after his speech at the "March for our Lives.
[20:40:06] DAVID HOGG, SURVIVOR, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: And we will change the world.
KAYE (voice-over): That image led Hogg's critics on the right to falsely suggest it was a Nazi salute. Info wars actually edited it in Hitler's voice over Hogg, but Hogg wasn't the only student targeted by conspiracy theories.
EMMA GONZALEZ, SURVIVOR, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: And a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us. KAYE (voice-over): Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez took heat from the right about the Cuban flag patch sewn on to her jacket at the "March for our Lives. It represented her Cuban heritage. Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, posting on Facebook, your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp. After removing all weapons from its citizens, hence, their right to self-defense.
Gonzalez was also accused of ripping apart the constitution, it turns out the fake image was made from a pick of her in "Teen Vogue", in which she ripped up a paper for target practice. It was promoted on Gab, the alt-right alternative to Twitter. And the hits keep coming. The conservative blog Red State questioned openly whether or not David Hogg had been at school the day of the shooting. Even though this video of him hiding inside a closet during the shooting had been widely available. Later the writer admitted her story was incorrect. And an aide to a Republican Florida legislators suggested Hogg and others weren't actually students but crisis actors.
HOGG: I'm not a crisis actor. I'm somebody that had to witness this and live through this.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well joining me now is CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources".
It's interesting, you know, these students, look they're organizing marches and stuff. But, when you actually meet them, they are teenagers. I mean they --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Still just teenagers.
COOPER: 16, 17-years-old.
STELTER: Yes, I was reminded of this yesterday Anderson, spending time with one of the Parkland students, reminding that they are still just high schoolers. And they are trying to figure out how to speak out and use the platform that they've tragically been given in order to do good and make a change. And yet they are still high schoolers.
Now, I think today remind us of that. This time yesterday, David Hogg started promoting an advertiser boycott against Ingraham's show, my count right now is seven advertisers said they don't want to be associated with her show. That's notable within 24 hours to see that kind of impact. So, it's another reminder of how politically powerful these students are. And I think some of the attacks against them again reminds us how politically powerful they are.
COOPER: Well -- I mean that's the thing, I mean on the one hand, they've entered an the adult fray of, you know, you can agree or disagree with their cause, but they have entered the adult arena of politics and yet the same time, you know, they're still going to school. STELTER: They're thinking about prom and looking forward to spring break.
COOPER: And he didn't get into some colleges that he wanted to get into.
STELTER: Exactly. Spring breaks right now is the students are off on college tours, they're thinking about their futures. They're going to make some missteps along the way. And I think we should be candid about that. Some of these students in their rhetoric, I would argue they go too far, there are times when they maybe do in their calls a disservice, by being so harsh in the rhetoric against gun rights proponents.
But at the same time some on the right are going too far by attacking these students and in some cases promoting conspiracy.
COOPER: This happened to Hannity before when he was pedaling false conspiracy theories object Seth Rich and his connection to the DNC and why he may have been murdered, which policy say was basically a botched robbery, in their opinion notes unsolved at this point. How -- do advertisers come back? I mean do they come back to Hannity? Do they come back to Ingraham?
STELTER: Hannity is the one program on Fox that have been told by advertiser's executives does has some trouble holding on to advertisers.
COOPER: Despite having a very high rates.
STELTER: Despite having very high ratings, it's a unique in that sense on the Fox schedule, we'll see if this has an impact on Ingraham after today or tomorrow, but I thought the speed of her apology tells you all you need to know, that she was taking perhaps the advertiser messages seriously and the conspiracy minded thinking, you know, it's a live book on the right and the left right now, but especially on the right, and it sustain. It's a kind of form of pollution that all of us in a kind of a society, it's almost a society need to work against. That's why it's so interesting to see it play out in the courts now as well.
COOPER: Right. And we seen it against the, you know, parents in Newtown, it's not just against kids, who said that, you know, the parents were crisis actors who were grieving. I mean it's really sickening stuff.
STELTER: But now to see three lawsuits, involving conspiracy theories, going after Fox and others. It's interesting to see people trying to seek justice in the courts.
COOPER: Yes, like Seth Rich's parents, also Seth Rich's brother recently filed a lawsuit. Brian Stelter, thanks very much.
COOPER: Coming up, grief and outrage in Sacramento, Stephon Clark is laid to rest after being killed by police. More protest are plan. I'll speak with Dr. Cornel West, coming up.
[20:48:49] COOPER: There are more protests tonight in Sacramento and the attorney representing the family of Stephon Cclark is calling for them to be peaceful. Today was a funeral for 24-year-old Stephon Clark. He was killed by police who fired at him 20 times in his grandmother's yard. The killing captured on police body cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here, drop your gun! Suspect down.
COOPER: Police say they thought Mr. Clark had a gun. No gun was found, only a cellphone. Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at Clark's funeral today, joined by Stephon's brother. Sharpton reference something that Sarah Sanders said yesterday when asked if the President had anything to say about this and other cases involving the police killing African-American men. Sanders say it was a local matter, not something for the Federal Government to weigh into.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The President's press secretary said this is a local matter. No, this is not a local matter. They've been killing young black men all over the country. And we are here to say that we are going to stand with Stephon Clark and the leaders of this family. We are putting aside our differences. it's time for preachers that come out to pull pit, it's time to politicians to come out to office, it's time for us to go down and stop this madness.
COOPER: Joining me now is Dr. Cornel West, of Princeton and Harvard.
Dr. West, I mean I know you're from Sacramento. I wonder what it's been like for you watching what's happening in your hometown.
CORNEL WEST, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, brother it's heartbreaking, you know, man. You know, I'm straight out of glen elder in south Sacramento, you know, brother. And as, you know, this has been going on for so long. But I come from a people been terrorized and traumatized for hundreds for 400 years. With zero in on the Clark family, of course we must send our condolences, our prayers and we have to be strong. And we have to acknowledge that, you know, we got a White House that really doesn't give a damn about black people, especially young people. But that's true for most women, most Mexicans, most Muslims, most gays, lesbians and trans.
I think, the important thing here is on one hand, you got genuine freedom fighters. Just time in fighting (ph), you got Brother Kevin Carter. Part of the Black Lives movement in Sacramento, keeping the pressure on. Then you got a mayor, brother Stienberg who I met. And I'm convinced he's a decent brother and I think that he will have an openness in terms of how you come to term with making sure police are accountable. And I say the same thing about Brother Daniel Hunt, who I met just recently.
COOPER: Is their chief of police.
WEST: Their decency would be tested, you know, brother. But we have a very intense situation. And we got to tell the truth about the suffering of black people especially young black people. And at the same time we need decency and elected office. And I think it does time more than brother. (INAUDIBLE) that test, we shall see.
COOPER: One of the things that that occurred after the shooting was that the police turned off the microphones on their -- the body cameras that they have. And -- that obviously raises, it's not an illegal thing to do as far as I understand. But it certainly rates a question about why, what do they want, you know, want to say to each other that they did not hear should be recorded.
WEST: Well men, it does looks like they new that they done something wrong. Looks, like the (INAUDIBLE) to the guilt that already said in, that they made a mistake and judgment, but for -- so too many policeman, there's the sense of them not being accountable. So they can get away with anything. I don't care what color the policeman is, this is the human thing, even though we know that white supremacy us also operating in this regard. But most importantly, we just have to make sure that people understand black lives are precious. And that when they are taken away, those who take away those lives will go to jail.
COOPER: Just in terms of what Sarah Sanders said yesterday, the idea that this is a local matter. I mean this is a President obviously who certainly has not shied away from commenting on, you know, so-called local issues in any variety of things. What do you make of him choosing not to comment on it and frankly the White House not commenting?
WEST: Look, we should have no expectations of Donald Trump when it comes to issues of justice and relation to anything, poor people or anything. We should have no expectations. He's a right wing leader, he's got Neo-fascious sensibility, he's cold, he's indifferent, he's coward (ph). But we shouldn't get hyped up about it. We've got to proceed where we are. If we black people have been hyped up about how wonderful or the potential of slave holders or Jim Crow heads or Jane Crow heads and then zero in on what we can do, how we can come together, bring together people of all races genders, concerned about justice concern, about these young black men and women getting killed or any folk who get killed an innocent man. That's the crucial thing.
And as I said before, I think Sacramento can actually teach the nation something, because if in fact Mayor Steinberg and police Chief Hahn can come together with Black Lives Matter, so you know what, we're taking this in a zone we never have before in this nation, we're going to take a stand when it comes to making sure its accountability of policeman visa (ph) the most vulnerable of our citizens. Now, keep in mind, Brother Anderson, this is weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. I was about in Sac High, Kennedy High when he was shot, 50 years ago, I was 14 and my brother Clifton had just won the mile out of the third in the two mile. 50 years later, here we are with the legacy of Martin King, he was assassinate. Jesus, Christians like myself crucified tomorrow. Jesus bounces back on Sunday. Martin Luther King's Legacy, will it bounce back strong with substance? That's up to us, brother. That's up to us.
[20:55:03] COOPER: Do you see -- I mean it's been three and a half years now since Michael Brown in Ferguson. Do you think with all the attention that has been paid to this issue? And one can argue is it enough, has it been too much. Some people would probably argue that. Do you see progress being made when it comes to relationship between the African-American community and police forces in communities around the country or do you think we're still in the same place that we were?
WEST: There's always some isolated pockets where you have courageous and passionate and decent people coming together and making a deference. I think overall we're making very little progress. And as Malcolm reminds us even when we make the progress, we don't stab folk in the back nine (ph) and just pulled it out six inches and celebrate your progress. We got a long way to go in terms of coming to terms with white supremacy and as it relates to black girls and black boys, black women and black men though, brother.
And, as you know, even under our dear brother Barack Obama who was so much better in many ways than Donald Trump but at the same time he didn't come through the way he should have. Eric Holder didn't come through the way he should have. That's why the police still remain for the most part unaccountable even though on those black folk. With Trump now Neo-fascious, starring oh my God. We got to turn our heart break and heart ache in the certain powerful full of all that love and justice and ought to be flowing out of souls building on the legacy to done cold chains and the (INAUDIBLE) and Martin Luther King Jr., let us never forget the rich legacy, that love train that constitute the black freedom.
COOPER: Dr. Cornel West, appreciate your time. Thank you.
WEST: Thank you so much my brother.
COOPER: You take care.
Coming up, new information tie on one strategy the special counsel has been using to investigate the Trump campaigns contacts with Russians. What we're learning, next.