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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Senate Sets Votes on Dueling Bills to End Shutdown, Both Likely to Fail; Interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

In just a few days, 800,000 Americans many still on the job will go without another paycheck. Others who rely on the work they do will have to go without vital government services. The federal court system is running out of money. The FBI Agents Association says the bureau has lost several informants in terrorism investigations. Airports are backing up because unpaid TSA screeners are calling in sick and working other jobs to make ends meet.

CNN has obtained an internal TSA e-mail asking screeners at slow airports to move to busier locations harder hit by the sickouts.

Keeping them honest, before we talk about other late developments on day 32 of the government shutdown, before we hear from President Trump or Senator Elizabeth Warren who joins us tonight, I want you to hear from some of those 800,000 men and women who work for all of us.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How many of you are running out of money? Raise your hand.

All of you?

MARAH PEARLMAN, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: I don't know how I'm going to pay the $250 a month for his medication. My husband and I have put ourselves on a macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwich diet so therefore the kids can eat.


COOPER: Today, Senate Republicans introduced a bill along the lines of what President Trump is demanding, including money for a border wall, temporary protection for some but not all DACA kids and sharp new restrictions on lawful asylum seekers. The vote on it could come Thursday, a day before payday. Senators may also vote Thursday on a Democratic bill to reopen the government temporarily but not fund a wall. Neither measure is expected to pass, but a lot could change in the next two days.

However, keeping them honest some things will likely not change. One is that people overwhelming blame the president over the Democrats for the shutdown, 55 percent to 32 percent in recent CNN polling. Two as much as the president has lately tried to pin the blame elsewhere, it appears that the people in that poll took him at his word when he said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shutdown the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.

The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle and shut it down. And I'm going to shut it down for border security.


COOPER: In other words, the buck stops with him, except as you know, he doesn't really believe that.


REPORTER: Does the buck stop with you over this shutdown?

TRUMP: The buck stops with everybody.


COOPER: OK, so the buck doesn't stop with him. Hey, it's only a dollar after all.

Anyway, the president has made it clear that what he shut the government down for, his wall is nonnegotiable. But even that's open to question as our political reporters and analysts have been saying for weeks on this program, Republican lawmakers may be leery of fully committing to any kind of deal-making because they don't fully trust the president will have their backs. They remember the deal he backed out of at the last minute when right wing talk show personalities objected to it.

They remember when he said the buck stops with everyone. They may even remember that televised session a year ago when he told the stunned Senator Feinstein that he would like to pass a clean bill to protect DACA kids first, and he would later, quote, take all the heat he want to give me, unquote, for a comprehensive immigration bill.

Now, minutes after what he said to Senator Feinstein, a Republican lawmaker with cameras rolling pulled him in the opposite direction. Then the president said essentially he'd be good with just about anything.


TRUMP: This group comes back with hopefully an agreement. This group and others from the Senate and the House comes back with an agreement, I'm signing it. I mean, I will be signing it. I'm not going to say oh, gee, I want this or I want that. I'll be signing it, because I have a lot of confidence the people in this room are going to come out with something really good.


COOPER: Well, that's not how it panned out a year ago and he seems far less accommodating now. But you get the point that it's hard to tell ultimately what this president wants. Is it building a wall? Perhaps. He certainly promised that.

And again, he also promised the taxpayers would not pay for it. Now he's shutting down the government until they do. He said he'd take the heat, he didn't. He said he'd take the mantle. He hasn't.

He's said a lot of things and you can agree or disagree with any, all, or none of it, and you'd still wonder where he really stands and how this shutdown will really end.

More now from where things stand from CNN's Jim Acosta joining us from the White House.

So, where do things stand right now?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's a really good question, Anderson. Our folks up on Capitol Hill tell us there are going to be some competing bills up for votes later on this week, looks like Thursday, one which is coming from the Republican side. Mitch McConnell is essentially the president's plan to fund the wall down in the border and reopen the government.

[20:05:02] There's a Democratic plan that's essentially the one that's coming down from the House that would reopen the government. Both of these would do it for a brief period of time, but it would not have funding for the president's border wall. Both of those bills are unlikely to pass. And at this point, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, was talking to reporters, doing it in the driveway here and she did not rule out the possibility that the president could sign that bill.

But I talked to a White House official just a short while ago who said how likely is that Democratic bill actually going to get out of the Congress and over here to the president's desk. So, that doesn't seem likely either. So, what we're really staring at the prospect of, Anderson, is this shutdown grinding on, as we've been saying over and over again with no end in sight.

COOPER: Is there going to be a State of the Union Address a week from now? I mean, do we know at this point?

ACOSTA: The White House says there will be plans for a State of the Union up on Capitol Hill. Just as if Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, had never essentially disinvited the president from giving that speech. At this point, Anderson, I just talked to the White House official who said there are a lot of options on the table, anything is possible, this official said, with some planning. That means that they would like to have that State of the Union speech up on Capitol Hill. They could also deliver one over here at the White House, although as you saw with that border speech the president did recently from the Oval Office, the president didn't like the way that turned out very much.

There's also the idea floating around and we understand from talking to White House officials that this is under discussion, that the president could actually hold a campaign style rally outside of Washington to sort of drum up support for what he wants to do down on the border, or it could be more subdued speech to supporters. So, they're talking about all sorts of possibilities at this point because this government shutdown has not been resolved, as you said, Anderson, affecting, impacting and hurting millions of Americans across the country.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has not formally declared she's running for president. She's done everything but.

She set up an exploratory committee and has taken to the road, which may soon become the campaign trail. Tonight, she's in Puerto Rico making her first appearance on CNN since getting started. I spoke to her just a short time ago.


COOPER: Senator Warren, you're in Puerto Rico tonight. Can you explain why you're there especially so early on in your campaign?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So I've been talking about a government in Washington that works great for the wealthy and to the well-connected but not so much for everyone else. And I've been doing that for a long time. Puerto Rico is one of the prime examples of that. Right here in Puerto Rico, an island that's been devastated both by a financial crisis and by twin hurricanes, right now has a government that is taking money off the island in order to send it to Wall Street.

And cutting services, health care services, schools right here in Puerto Rico. It's just a prime example of government that works for the rich and the powerful and doesn't work for the people.

COOPER: Do you believe that the government in D.C. is complicit in the -- in keeping the body count of the actual death toll so low for so long? We've now learned from various studies that thousands of people died in the wake and months after the storm. Do you think the government is complicit in that?

WARREN: The death count in Puerto Rico has been proven to be now in the thousands. And the fact that this administration has refused to acknowledge that and continue to put out reports long after the evidence was available showing just a very small death count is just one more way in which the people of Puerto Rico have been disrespected from start to finish since the hurricanes hit.

COOPER: Just in terms of the shutdown, the Senate's going to vote Thursday on two partisan bills that have no chance of passing both chambers. Is that really the best that lawmakers can do? Does either side have a right to be proud of what's happening right now? WARREN: Look, we need to open the government. People are working

jobs. I today was with TSA agents who are out doing their jobs trying to keep us safe, and they're not getting paid.

People have been shutout from the jobs that they need to do. The government needs to be reopened. There are two ways that can happen immediately. Either Donald Trump can say he's ready to sign something to open the government or Mitch McConnell could just put the same budget bill on the floor of the Senate that was voted overwhelmingly in December.

This is manufactured crisis and it's starting to impose real pain -- real pain on families all across this country.

[20:10:06] Federal agents are not political pawns in some game that the Republicans want to play. We need to get the government open.

COOPER: The president's party, though, controls the White House and the Senate. Democrats only control the House. Do you ever think, look, the realistic end game is that Republicans get two thirds of what they want and the Democrats have to settle for the shorter straw? Is that how the balance of power really works?

WARREN: Well, let's talk about the balance of power. There are two coequal branches of government, the president of the United States and the Congress. The Congress of the United States in December, the Senate voted on a funding bill that was a compromise between Democrats and Republicans. The House held it up, so when the House came back into session after the new year in 2019, they passed the funding bill.

We have the votes on the congressional side. But so far, Mitch McConnell is saying, no, the only one who has any power in Washington is Donald Trump. And he's saying he won't bring any bill to the floor of the Senate that can't be passed that the president won't sign into law. That's basically just abdicating the responsibility of Congress.

We had a compromised proposal, Democrats and Republicans. Everybody had signed off ready to go, and then Donald Trump blew it up for his own reasons and said he would be proud to shutdown the government. Well, that's what he's done and we are now sitting here in the longest shutdown in American history.

And it's hurting people all across this country. It needs to stop. Reopen the government.

COOPER: I want to ask you a little bit about the presidential race. I know you said you're delighted that Senator Kamala Harris has announced her candidacy for president. Are you concerned at all how she and other centrists, you might call them, may run or attempt to paint you as too far to the left?

Is too far to the left of the mantle you may happily embrace?

WARREN: Look, I'm now talking about the economic issues how government works, about what's happening to middle class families, working families all cross this country, why the path has gotten rockier and rockier, and why it's gotten so much rockier for people of color. This is -- this is what I've worked on all my life, and I got into the Senate race in 2012 to talk about these issues, to fight for these families.

Now, here I am as we look at 2020 just right in the center of this fight. This is what I'm going to continue to talk about. And I'm delighted that there are lots of Democrats who want to talk about ideas, who want to talk about a way to build a stronger America. I believe in that.

You know, I'm somebody whose dad ended up as a janitor. I got my chance at a college that cost $50 a semester and I got a chance to be a public school teacher, a chance to be a college professor and chance to be a United States senator, because America invested in that opportunity.

I believe in investing in opportunities for our kids. I think that's how we build a real future in this country and I'm out there and willing to fight for it.

COOPER: So, to voters who look at the economy, see it booming, credit among other things, the president's tax cut for that, I'm wondering what you have to say, have the tax cuts had a positive effects on the economy?

WARREN: Look, giving away a trillion and a half-dollars to corporations, to billionaires, to the wealthy and well-connected, while young people are struggling with student loan debt, while families can't have prescriptions filled, while infrastructure crumbles around us, that's not how we build a future in this country. You know, the way I see this is it is this fundamental question, who do we think our government ought to work for?

This economy? Sure, there are great numbers. The rich got fabulous tax breaks. Wall Street has been up and down but back up.

But the lived experience of tens of millions of people across this country is the squeeze. It's about flat wages and increased cost for housing, for health insurance, to get your kids educated.

[20:15:03] Now, we have a country that's getting richer and richer, but the problem is that too much of that wealth is flowing just to a thin slice at the top. And everyone else is getting left behind. That's not how we build a future.

COOPER: The president has obviously had his fair charge of racially charged things to say about you, if not outright racist. Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries called the president the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Is that an appropriate thing for a sitting member of Congress to say about the president?

WARREN: Look, the president has made clear where he stands. And he did that in Charlottesville. He's done it over and over.

What matters is that we as Democrats make clear what we stand for and what we're going to fight for.

Look, for me. I believe in the wealth -- I believe in the worth of every single human being. I think that recognizing that worth and then as a country saying we're just going to invest in some opportunities, a level playing field, a chance for a kid who's the daughter of a janitor to be able to go to school, to be able to get an education, to be able to build some real security in her life, I believe that that is the best of America. I believe in an America that reflects our values.

But we're going to have to build it together. We're going to have to take our government back. We're going to have to take it away from the wealthy and well-connected who have turned it in their direction, and we're going to have to make it work again for the people. That's the reason I'm in this.

COOPER: Just lastly, just in terms of the race, are you confident that you know how to effectively campaign against the president and against his scorched earth tactics, because, you know, the high road didn't work out for more than a dozen Republican candidates, didn't work out for Hillary Clinton.

WARREN: You know, I'll tell you something, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. And all three of my brothers live in Oklahoma now. One of them is a Democrat. The other two are not.

But I love all three of my brothers. And one of the things we spend a lot of time doing is talking about the things we actually agree on, the values. We want the same things for our kids. We want all of our kids to have basic health care coverage, and we don't want it so there's somebody that's sick, they end up bankrupt as well.

We want our kids to be able to get an education, a good education, pre-K, K-12 and after high school. And we want those things. We want our kids to have a future.

And yes, there are places where we disagree about the best place to put that together. But I think as a people, when we talk about our values, we talk about the things that we care most about, we can find some common ground and we can build on that ground, and we can make a real commitment. Not just to hope it happens but a real commitment to fight for it, to make it happen. I think that's our opportunity. And I also think it's our responsibility.

COOPER: Senator Warren, I appreciate your time. Thanks.

WARREN: It's good to talk with you.


COOPER: More now on the shutdown and the president's deal making or lack thereof. As you know, when it comes to making a deal, the president says he's an artist. Coming up next, we'll put his claims to a test by asking someone who actually wrote a book on Donald Trump, "The Art of the Deal." Tony Schwartz joins us. And later, the allegations against the American being detained in Moscow. Is he a spy as Russia claims or just a pawn in a spy game that Kremlin is playing?


[20:23:06] COOPER: In the next few days, especially the two Senate measures for ending the shutdown fail as expected and another federal payday comes and goes, pressure is going to grow on all sides to reach a deal. Now, whatever you think about President Trump or the wall or any of it, this is literally word for word what he said he's best at doing.


TRUMP: I'm going to make great deals.

I am going to make great deals for our country.

I make deals. I negotiate.

Everybody wants me to negotiate. That's what I'm known as is a negotiator.

I'm so anxious to negotiate.

Nobody can out-negotiate these deals.

I will make a great deal and lots of great deals for the American people.

We don't make great deals anymore, but we will once I become president.

I've built an extraordinary business on relationships and deals that benefit all parties involved, always.


COOPER: Now, in fact, that's not quite true as Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio put on the program last night. The president simply did not see negotiations as a win-win process, that says -- the president, he said, preferred I win.

Former Trump executive Barbara Res was also on the program, talking about how Speaker Pelosi saying her old boss has troubles with strong women who have power or who have power.

More perspective tonight from author Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote and chose the title for the president's bestseller, "The Art of the Deal".

You not only wrote "The Art of the Deal", I understand that you kind of created the narrative of him as a deal-maker. Is that right?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "THE ART OF THE DEAL": Well, I was sitting across from him and he told me in an interview that I was doing that he'd been asked to write a book and I said what's it about, he said my autobiography. I said, well, you're 38 years old, you don't have an autobiography. If I were you, the words I must regret saying in my life, I said, if I were you, I'd write a book called "The Art of the Deal" because people were interested in the deals you've made.

So, it was a narrative literally. It was a way of framing a story about which there was very little to say absent the deals he'd been involved in.

[20:25:06] COOPER: I mean, as a negotiator, it seems like claiming victory is his main focus. I mean, some people make deals so that everyone feels they win. It just seems like he doesn't view it that way.

SCHWARTZ: Well, he views a deal as something he must win, and his style of deal-making is to take a hammer and raise it over your head and smash it down and say, would you like to make that deal? And if you say no, smash it down again. But we're in a very different world, in a New York real estate world now, in a world in which he doesn't hold all the cards.

COOPER: Right. It's also fascinating that, I mean you've talked about it on the program before, that he operates in sort of ten minute increments, and it's not this sort of long-term view. It's really what's going to get him through the next ten minutes.

SCHWARTZ: I mean, I've found myself wondering, Anderson, over the last few days what if you dialed this back and he started over, this is man with no ideology when I knew him and long after that, he didn't have any political beliefs. He had things he wanted to accomplish. And I don't believe until very, very recently, meaning the last several years he began to move right.

What if he actually decided I actually do want to be a deal maker, I actually do want to negotiate? What kind of accomplishments might have been possible?

And I wonder and I know he spends almost all his time watching television, we know that now. And so, I wonder, hey, Donald, if you're watching are you wondering if maybe you should have gone a different direction? Because it isn't working out, and that style has clearly failed.

COOPER: The -- why do you think it's failing? Just because he's not used to working with so many moving parts?

SCHWARTZ: I do think that's part of it. I think a -- you know, this is complex situation and there are multiple stakeholders. I also think the keys to real negotiation when you don't hold all the cards are humility, the ability to -- the ability to step back, the willingness to make sacrifices, and the absence of a need to win in an absolute way.

COOPER: It does seem Nancy Pelosi has sort of gotten in his head a way few other people have. Particularly as a woman, I'm wondering did he deal with a lot of powerful women previously?

SCHWARTZ: Well, you had Barbara Res on. And I would say Barbara Res is a powerful woman. Louise Sunshine, Blanche Sprague, those are three of the powerful women who worked for him.

But we're talking about power, we've got to rate it on a curve. And he's looking at Nancy Pelosi at a very different level of power. And it's kind of fascinating to see the difference the way he treats Chuck Schumer and the way he treats Pelosi. Now, I think part of that is because Nancy Pelosi is in charge of a group of people who actually have the majority and Chuck Schumer is not.

But I think the bigger thing is Trump actually believes she's tough. I don't believe he really thinks that Schumer is tough. And so, he's up against someone who defies his ordinary understanding because he doesn't think of women as being tough. He may think of them as being confident.

He always liked the idea he could use them. I had that -- and I don't mean just sexually. I mean use them in the service of his success.

But I don't think he's -- and Barbara may have said this herself, I don't think he's ever been up against a woman who's genuinely powerful.

COOPER: Fascinating. Tony Schwartz, thank you. Always good to have you.


COOPER: Coming up, Rudy Giuliani has released a torrent of contradictory statements over the past few weeks or days or months, actually. What's going on with plans for a Trump Tower Moscow during the campaign? He's been all over the map on that.

And wouldn't you know, tonight, there's another cleanup on aisle Rudy. The latest, next.


[20:32:36] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is that time of the night, time to get out your Rudy Giuliani decoder ring. The President's T.V. lawyer has been on a rampage of confusion the past few days, spinning, painting himself into corners and essentially denying that corners even exist.

This all has to do with the President's dealings in Russia, something the President has said were nonexistent. Giuliani said something different. He said the talks about the Trump Tower in Moscow continued throughout the campaign, then he immediately tried to backtrack and distance himself from that statement.

Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash spoke with Giuliani trying to get some clarification. She joins me now.

So what is the latest Rudy Giuliani has told you about all this confusion that he himself has sowed and whether the President is upset with him?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was the question I put directly to him, Anderson, whether the President was frankly pissed. And he said no. He said he's not pissed, he just wants it clarified and Giuliani said that either President understands these things happen, it happens to him all the time.

I also asked Giuliani if he has any sense that the President or anyone in that circle will ask Giuliani to take a break for a while because all of this confusion resulting from his interviews and Giuliani told me, "No, I don't think so." He said, "I don't get that sense." Because he noted that the Special Counsel hasn't reached out to them.

He said they don't seem confused, which list an important point because an open question is whether Mueller's team because of all this will go back to Trump's lawyers and ask for clarification on the President's formal answer under oath about when he talked to Michael Cohen about that Trump Tower Moscow project.

And Giuliani told me that although they had told the Mueller team no more answers from the President, on this one they would make an exception. He said if Mueller does ask that question, the answer is simple, the answer is, "We don't know. We don't remember."

COOPER: OK. So the question about whether Giuliani is lying to the President now involves Giuliani's tombstone. Can you explain that?

BASH: Well, he was asked in one of the publications, maybe "The New Yorker," about the notion that, you know, this is his legacy and that -- whether or not he's worried about that. But the way that it potentially came across in that interview was the suggestion that he admitted that he's lying from the -- for the President. So I asked him if that was what he meant to say. And here was his answer to me.

[20:35:00] He said, "I am not lying for the President. The reason I said that is everybody is concerned with legacy. I can't figure out why because you don't get a chance to -- whatever you do in life, you don't get a chance to shape the way people see it later, so do what you think is right."

So that was his answer to that. He said that -- admitted that he agreed to do this for the President. He knew how to control the angry at him. He said he's used to that from the campaign. Remember, he was the only guy to go out after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out that weekend and defend and explain and speak for the President and said they'd been friends for decades and decades and somebody has to defend him.

COOPER: I don't know what qualifies as the most problematic thing that Giuliani has said in recent days, but what he says to "The New York Times" claiming to be directly quoting the President about the lengths of discussions for the Moscow Tower project, he now says he didn't even say that, is that right?

BASH: Well, yes, I talked to him about that. He disputes that the President gave that quote. He said he was speaking hypothetically, that's not what he meant. He said he doesn't -- it didn't mean in any of these interviews whether on Sunday with Jake or subsequently trying to explain it.

He didn't mean to say anything different than he said a month or two ago, which is that the President doesn't remember exactly when he stopped talking about the Trump Tower Moscow project with Michael Cohen. He thought it was the beginning of 2016, but they left wiggle room because he just doesn't remember.

COOPER: All right, Dana Bash, thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

COOPER: A lot to get to tonight with Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, "USA Today" Columnist Kirsten Powers, and former RNC Chief of Staff Mike Shields.

So, Jeff, I mean, Rudy Giuliani says he's not lying for the President, but something's going on.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Something is going on. I think the core issue with Giuliani now is that the President has locked himself in with these answers to Mueller, these written answers. And those answers almost certainly are different from what the President was saying when he was just candidate Trump during the campaign, especially about the issue of these negotiations with Moscow.

So what I think he's doing is trying to sort of move the President's position closer to the written answers without admitting that the President was lying during the campaign and that's basically impossible.

COOPER: Mike, I mean, Giuliani says the President is not upset about all these contradictions and walk backs. Should the President be upset by that his own lawyer is muddying the waters so much, or is that to Jeff's point by design?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, he assigned Rudy this job and, you know, we know he's a tough critic of his representatives when they speak because he likes to speak for himself and it's really hard for him to watch somebody else doing this.

And it's -- you know, Rudy Giuliani's job as sort of a defense lawyer is to read the jury, and the jury is the American public, right? This is a political trial and they represent -- the American public is the jury, and their representatives will who decide this in a trial meeting if there was an impeachment trial on this.

And so it looks like, as Jeffrey said, he's trying to create wiggle room for that public to sort of say, well, it could be in this zone or it could be in this zone, and we're going to find out later. And so my job is to kind of create wiggle room form and when he does that it comes across as awkward.

And so, you know, the President has to decide how much he wants and as a Republican we have a lot of things that we should be talking about right now like the DACA deal the President just did and we suddenly get back to this. So there must be a reason why the White House wanted him to do it, because in the middle of all this they decided to come out and have him do that.

COOPER: Kirsten, Giuliani is now changing his story about quoting the President to the "The New York Times" and saying that he had conversations about Trump Tower Moscow from the day I announced to the day I run. Giuliani is now claiming that, A, he didn't say that, and B, that he doesn't know if the times made it up. I mean, it has to be one or the other.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I mean, "The Times" didn't make it up. That's just silly. And the best theory that I can come up with is that Donald Trump said this and Rudy Giuliani either somehow let it slip out or thought it was supposed to be for public consumption and now is trying to basically say that he didn't say something because it's obviously quite damning if this is true that this was going on.

TOOBIN: But it seems like the risk here is that we spend time talking about Giuliani when the fact is the guy who is now President of the United States was now clearly involved in negotiations with a hostile foreign power during the 2016 campaign, praising that power, praising Putin throughout and then lying about it. And now, you know, it's coming out. But what's significant is what Trump did during the campaign, not what Giuliani says about it now.

COOPER: Because what he says about it now is all over the place and designed to distract.

TOOBIN: It's all over the place. It's confusing. But the point is Donald Trump was in bed with the Russians during the campaign, he was lying about that.

[20:40:02] And the question it raises is whose interest was Donald Trump advocating during the campaign, his own commercial interests or those of the American people? I mean, it's a pretty profound question.

COOPER: Mike, I mean, do you see it as Jeff does that that is what the President was doing during the campaign?

SHIELDS: Well, this is one of the reasons why -- I mean, look, I know that the job of the President and of Giuliani and the President's team is to discredit Mueller's investigation just like any defense group would try to discredit a prosecutor and question their motives.

But in the end, they also should look forward to when this is resolved and that he could be exonerated because even if he was -- his company was working on a business deal, that doesn't mean that he broke any laws, that there was any conspiracy, that there was any collusion in his campaign.

It looks messy and it's something that you politically may not want to talk about, but that doesn't mean that that's something that is actually illegal or worthy of impeachment or a lot of the things Democrats in the House are talking about. So the sooner that they get this report out at over with, the more we can get away from the sort of --


COOPER: -- lying to the American people the whole time and actually promoting policies that would help his business interests.

SHIELDS: Well, I don't know if that's clear or not. I mean, that's what we don't know. That's why -- I mean, that's why this investigation will come out and potentially exonerate him of that stuff.

COOPER: Kirsten, do you agree with Jeff that the danger is you kind of miss the forest through the trees?

POWERS: Yes. And I think that this is an extremely big deal despite what Mike just said that the idea that he would be negotiating this deal that he lied about, there's a reason he would lie about it, there's a reason he wouldn't want people to know about it because it doesn't look very good. And he was hiding his relationship with a country that hacked into and disrupt -- tried to disrupt our elections. So, I think that it's not just this minor deal that he overlooked and forgot to explain to people. I think it was intentionally hid.

COOPER: Do you think, Jeff, that Mueller pays attention to Giuliani on T.V.?

TOOBIN: I doubt it. I really doubt it. And that's one thing where I think, you know, Mueller -- that Giuliani gets that kind of unfair criticism. People say he's waiving the attorney-client privilege and he's going to be brought in to testify, that's never going to happen. The Mueller people are not investigating Rudolph Giuliani.

I mean, there's a tremendous amount of noise, press coverage. I think the Mueller people are focused on what's going on in the grand jury, what the FBI interviews show and Giuliani is background noise, and I am sad to say what we say is probably background noise to them as well.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, Mike Shields, Kirsten Powers, thanks.

Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky was closed today because of what officials called "threats of violence" in the wake of that video that went viral over the weekend during the school's annual trip for the March for Life rally in Washington. And there's breaking news, the high school student at the center of the controversy speaks publicly for the first time. That's just ahead.


[20:46:42] COOPER: There's still fall out tonight from that viral video of an incident between students from a catholic high school in Kentucky and a native-American elder during the school's annual trip to the March for Life rally in Washington. The school itself today, official said it was closed because of what they described as threat to violence.

And there's breaking news tonight. The student who wore a make America great hat and found himself at the center of the controversy is breaking his silence for the first time. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nick Sandmann, the high school junior from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School speaking out.

NICK SANDMANN, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: As far as standing there, I had the every right to do so. I don't -- my position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips.

MARQUEZ: The video of Sandmann facing off with the Omaha Tribal elder, Nathan Phillips, ignited anger nationwide.

SANDMANN: I'd like to talk to him. I mean, in hindsight I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing.

MARQUEZ: Today, that Catholic High School abruptly closed. In a statement that Covington Diocese says it was due to threats of violence and the possibility of large crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through this incident here, dear God, our people can come together.

MARQUEZ: No protests today, but a vigil held at the Covington Diocese attending Trump supporters and native-Americans along with other progressive groups. There was even a moment of unity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in big trouble.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I mean, the people need to take back this country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, you know, we'll work together to do it.

MARQUEZ: Nathan Phillips, the Omaha Tribal elder says when the incident happened he was trying to diffuse tensions between the students and a group of Hebrew-Israelites who taunted both students and native-Americans for over an hour before the controversial standoff made international headlines. He's now offered to travel to Kentucky to meet with the students to discuss cultural diversity.

NATHAN PHILLIPS, OMAHA TRIBAL ELDER: When I started taking those steps using the drum, it was just spur-of-the-moment. I don't like it to say it that way, but it was just what do you do now? Here's a moment where something that -- that's really ugly in our society, in America, something that's just kind of come to a boiling point.

MARQUEZ: The Dioceses of Covington administering the all boys high school says in a statement, "A third party investigation is planned to begin this week. This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate." The incident has shaken this suburb just south of Cincinnati.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nationally it's huge, but, you know, it's kind of surprising all the friends I have from all around the country that are messaging me about it and asking questions about it.


COOPER: And Miguel Marquez joins us now. I understand there's some news tonight about the students and then the White House.

MARQUEZ: Yes. The White House, Sarah Sanders says has reached out to the students here and voiced their support for them saying that the President understands the predicament of the situation they're in on the media. She says it jumps too quickly to conclusions and the President basically put himself in the same position as the students essentially saying that they are welcome to the White House at some point but it would be after the government shutdown if it happens at all.

[20:50:16] So it sounds like there may be a possibility of them coming out to the White House but it is not clear when or if it would happen, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Got to go deep into these three different messes we're dealing with. We have Tim Kaine on. Now, he's a player in the Senate on the Democratic side and he says, I have it wrong. That this is not a done deal on Thursday that, you know, one bill, there's enough Democrats to scuttle it, the Trump immigration deal. The other one that too many Republicans deals so that's over, he says there's a chance and he's going to tell us why.

And I'm going to take you through how we got to where we are with the current positions of the President with the Mueller probe right now. And by doing that, I will reveal why all the confusion.

COOPER: All right. That's 9 minutes from now. Chris, I'll see you then, thanks, at the top of the hour.

Paul Whelan, the U.S. citizen arrested and accused of spying in Russia did have classified material in his possession his lawyer tells CNN. Coming up, was it a mix up or something more sinister?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:55:26] COOPER: Paul Whelan, the retired Marino arrest in Russia and charged as a spy was found in possession of classified material when he was arrested, that's according to his state appointed lawyer.

Whelan appeared in a Moscow courtroom today and was denied bail. His lawyer says his client was given a thumb drive, which he thought contained vacation pictures but didn't open it up to take a look. His attorney told CNN that device contained "evidence that constitutes state secrets."

Now from this distance, of course, it's difficult to asses what's real and what isn't, but we do know the President has not said a word about this so far.

Here to help me out, Max Boot, columnist for "The Washington Post" and author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." It does seem to get kind of stranger and stranger. I mean, you have these Russian attorneys allegedly representing him, although obviously -- I mean, he's a Russian attorney --


COOPER: -- saying in fact he did have secrets on him.

BOOT: Right. Well, this is straight out of the KGB entrapment 101 playbook, Anderson. This is very reminiscent of what happens to Nick Daniloff, an American reporter who was arrested in 1986. He was meeting somebody who gave him some photos. He thought they were just photos of central Asia, but in there apparently were some maps that were supposed to be classified of Russian military deployments in Afghanistan.

And as soon as he was handed this stuff, he was arrested by the KGB. And why did they want to arrest him? Because couple of days earlier in New York, the U.S. has arrested a Russian spy and so they wanted a trade for him. Now it seems to be what's going on here, this flash- drive was so-called classified information and nobody said what that is. It just seems like entrapment.

COOPER: So do you think this is linked to the arrest and prosecution of Maria Butina?

BOOT: Absolutely. They want her back, I think, in Russia and Paul Whelan is just a pawn so they can get Maria Butina back. Now, it's very interesting that Donald Trump may will have an interest in getting rid of her as well because CNN just reported that the Special Counsel is investigating the links between the Trump campaign and the NRA.

And as we know, Maria Butina was sent to infiltrate the NRA at the behest of the Russians and so President Trump may have an interest in getting her back to Russia so she can't testimony too much about this Russian infiltration of Republican politics.

COOPER: Do you think the President -- I mean it's interesting that the President hasn't commented on it. I don't know if he is trying to kind of not put pressure on it to let it kind of resolve behind the scenes.

BOOT: You can sort of putting nefarious construction on it or a benign construction. The nefarious (ph) construction is he never says anything bad about Vladimir Putin.

COOPER: Right.

BOOT: He trashes everybody else in the world, but it doesn't matter what Putin does. Donald Trump never says a bad word against him. Now, that's certainly based on his past conduct. You can reach that conclusion. On the other hand, you can also draw a more benign conclusion, which is that perhaps there are negotiations going on behind the scenes, exactly that kind of swap and he doesn't perhaps want to mess them up with public announcements, although one of you ever heard about Donald Trump being careful about what he says in public.

COOPER: Right, yes. It does seem like that's the only leverage the U.S. government really has in a case like this is some sort of a swap.

BOOT: Well, exactly, and that's why they do these things because they know that the U.S. doesn't just go out and arrest somebody for political purposes. In fact, they have to have reason to arrest somebody.

The Russians on the other hand, they have the advantage. They can arrest anybody they want for any reason that they want. They're not constrained by the rule of law, so they can just grab any American they want if they want something out of the United States.

COOPER: Yes. It's also -- I mean, if I was overseas and arrested -- with the idea of having -- it's a Russian attorney representing -- I mean, you know, they theoretically or inherently compromised.

BOOT: Well, yes. I mean, you have to put out of your mind the idea that this is a normal court proceeding. I mean, it doesn't matter what attorney represents Paul Whelan, he's not going to get a fair trial. This is not about determining what the evidence is, this is all about what the Kremlin wants and the attorney and the judge and everybody else, they're just actors in this drama which is scripted by Putin.

COOPER: Yes. And it could go on for -- I mean, there's no telling how long this will go on for.

BOOT: Until they get what they want or decide they're not going to get what they want, that's the game that they're playing.

COOPER: Yes. It's -- I don't know. We'll see what happens to Paul. Max Boots, thank you very much.

BOOT: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle." It's our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. You get to vote on what's stories we cover. You can get all the details and watch it weeknights at 6:25 p.m. Eastern at every weekday night.

News continues right now. I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo. "Cuomo Prime Time" starts now. Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." We have new information. A key senator says there is a chance that the shutdown could end if and when they vote on these two proposals they will tell you about on Thursday. We're going to bring in that Democratic in the thick of it all one-on-one with Senator Tim Kaine. Then, why is Robert Mueller seeking information in a Trump campaign's ties to the NRA?