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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Interview with Anthony Scaramucci; President Trump Promotes Epstein-Clintons Conspiracy Theory. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

President Trump vexed tonight according to "The Washington Post" after repeatedly telling crowds of voters at rallies across the country how not racist he is and how much he's done for minorities across the country, including taking credit for lowering the unemployment rate for black, Hispanic, and Asian-Americans, the president finds himself with a problem, people think he's racist. A majority of them, 51 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll, and that's from two weeks ago.

And this angers the president. According to "The Washington Post", quote: President Trump considers himself a branding wizard but he's vexed by a branding crisis of his own, how to shed the label of racist.

Now, keeping them honest, before we go through a laundry list of reasons that a majority of Americans might feel this way, before we point out the second anniversary of the white nationalist, white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed a young woman and for which the president declared there were very fine people on both sides, the night of the torch lit march neo-Nazis chanting Jews will not replace us, let's remember how the president sees himself on the issue of race.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.

I'm the least racist person there is in the world as far as I'm concerned.


COOPER: Before, while and since he's running for president, and this is the reason, according to a presidential adviser who spoke to "The Washington Post", and I'm quoting, the president views the characterization largely through the lens of politics, said one close adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, their shared private conversations, explaining that Trump feels the charges of racism are just another attempt to discredit him, not unlike he believes, though, more than a dozen women who have accused him of sexual misconduct or the investigation into Russian election interference. In other words, according to this unnamed aide, the president is just as innocent of racism as of sexual misconduct. It's an incredulous thing to say but at the same time, it is actually right on the money because it's something that people on the left and right would completely but I completely agree with for totally opposite reasons. It also fits the world view of this president when it comes to facts inconsistent with the image that he wants you to see.


TRUMP: And just remember what you're seeing and what you are reading is not what's happening.


COOPER: That was the president a year ago on criticisms of his handling of the autonomy but it is a fair summation of his attitude toward any criticism, particularly when it comes to his actions and rhetoric involving people who aren't white. That's when he tells four congresswomen of color to, quote, go back to where they are came from, even though they're Americans and three are from the United States, that he says isn't racist. And to call the black majority district of Baltimore of Congressman Elijah Cummings a, quote, disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess, that too is not racist, according to the president.

That when he fanned flames of birtherism or attacks a judge trying the case for Trump University over his Mexican heritage and says he can't be unbiased, or takes out newspaper ads in 1989 demanding the reinstatement of the death penalty for five black youths who turns out were wrongly convicted of rape, and then to never apologize for doing so, none of that racist, according to the president.

Well, what about when the president has spoken about an invasion from Mexico?


TRUMP: This is an invasion, when you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that's an innovation. We are on track for a million illegal aliens, trying to rush our borders, it is an invasion, you know that.

You look at what's marching up, that's an invasion.


COOPE: A "USA Today" reports show that of the 64 rallies Trump has held since 2017, when discussing immigration, the president has said "invasion" at least 19 times. And the far-right loves that word, too, when talking about immigration. In fact, "The New York Times" reports today that it's a favorite word of a lot of media types on the right. The El Paso mass shooter as well, the shooter talks of invasion, just as close on the far right did. The shooter's concern about why people being replaced by immigrants also found along the far-right. "The Times" found that the far-right and the shooter had, quote, a

shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fear, centered on immigrants of color. Now, this is not to say that President Trump or anyone on the far-right is responsible for the El Paso shooting. It's only to cite a danger of encouraging and echoing this kind of language because when you make it OK to talk about invasion or infestation or say that we need to send people back to where they came from, people are bound to pick up that message.


TRUMP: And obviously, and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!


COOPER: That was the president immediately cutting off that chant, as he said he did.

[20:05:00] As a result of all, it went on for 13 seconds. As a result of all this, at least one former top aide of the president has had enough. Anthony Scaramucci served 11 days as White House communications director, he and the president are now -- well, facing off over Twitter.

Scaramucci told my CNN colleague John Berman today, quote: I think you have to consider a change at the top of the ticket when someone is acting like this, in reference to President Trump.

This afternoon, the president tweeted, quote, Scaramucci, who like so many others, had nothing to do with my election victory, is only upset that I did not want him in my administration, where he desperately wanted to be. Also, I seldom had time to return his many calls to me. He just wanted to be on TV.

Mr. Scaramucci tweeted back, quote, you are losing your fastball, very weak troll. Bullying is the most anti-American thing in our culture and it's emanating from the Oval Office. Many have called and are willing to work on a necessary replacement, time to call in a good relief pitcher. POTUS is lost.

And Anthony Scaramucci joins me now.

Thank you very much for being with us.

I'm wondering, just on the issue of racism, I know in the past, you have said you believe the president is not a white nationalist or white supremacist, but I think you made the point that he is making a play really consciously using some words. Is that right that he is essentially playing to that audience for political reasons?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, he's trying to be cute by half. He's luring that out there, he wants to trigger everybody with that. But, you know, look, yet, in the end of the day, you know, he treats people like objects. So, he does -- there's no way he's a racist because when he's looking at it, he doesn't color, he just sees a potential transaction, an opportunity or a detriment.

And so, that's not racism. I mean, maybe that's narcissism. I'm not a psychiatrist, so I don't know.

COOPER: But that's fascinating --


SCARAMUCCI: But it's not racism because I've watched him do that.

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: I watched him do it. It's like worse level than racism. You know what I mean? It's like racism against everybody, you know? He could care less. You're just an object either in his way, for or against, and then he's got a playbook. He's using it on me right now.

So, the playbook is let me intimidate, let me bully, let me say stuff. I mean, you got to think about this guy. He's using the American presidency and the Twitter feed from the American presidency to go after his fellow citizens from the White House, from the presidency, right?

And so, you guys should think about how disturbing that is and, so, for me, he's talking about other people being un-American and they have to go back to places where they came from and stuff like that -- hey, you know, Mr. President, you're being an American. Bullying is un-American. And meantime, the first lady, who was a nice person, she's got this anti-bullying campaign going on, and he's lighting up and personalizing this.

COOPER: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: You know, Anderson, I've got five children. This guy is trying to put me in harm's way on his Twitter feed, as he's done to other people. I'm not saying I'm being singled out. I could care less.

But the reason he's doing this is not because of me, he's doing it to scare to bejesus out of those people up on the Hill that hate his guts. You know, they are up there looking at each other, shaking their head. We've got to wait this guy out.

It's either 15 months or five years, they hate his guts, he knows it, they know it, but they're afraid to speak up.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, they're not --

SCARAMUCCI: That's what he does, is he uses his Twitter feed --

COOPER: They're not exactly profiles in courage.

SCARAMUCCI: -- as a speed bump to stop everybody.

COOPER: Yes, I mean --

SCARAMUCCI: Remember, John Kennedy wrote three books and he said his smallest book was "Profiles of Courage", right, because it's hard to have it. You know, it's not easy to be in the line of fire of the president of the United States, and he knows that. But, you know, look, it's disgusting at this point.

You brought up three or four things. What triggered me the most was the whole "send them back" nonsense. I mean, that is literally a racist trope for two centuries, OK?

You know, everybody's parents have some kind of ethnic background have heard of that, I said when I was still supporting him, hey, you know, I'm still supporting you, you're doing a lot of good things, why do you want to go full-on racism like that and divide the country?


SCARAMUCCI: The first thing is the country is united. You are the president of the United States and you're leading the free world, what are you doing?


COOPER: The thing about send him, I mean, that as you said, that is something that was used against Irish immigrants when they came, against Polish --

SCARAMUCCI: Everybody.

COOPER: -- German, everybody, Japanese. I mean, it is the oldest racist trope there is, and for the president of the United States to be saying that and encouraging the chant is stunning and people think it's become normal but it is not normal.

SCARAMUCCI: But it's not normal, and just speaking fortunately, my grandmother was told that. Produced three children, one my mom, two of which served in World War II, one was on the Normandy beaches and one fought in the Ardennes at the Battle of the Bulge.

Did you want her to go back? I mean, these are American heroes, OK? And she worked very hard as a maid, and hostess laundry to help me get the lifestyle that I have now.

[20:10:01] Anderson, it's ridiculous. And here's the thing: my fellow Republicans have to wake up out of their slumber. A true demagogue doesn't want one syllable, one sentence out of line and that's not loyalty. That's a blind obligation to the demagogue.

COOPER: But that's not --


SCARAMUCCI: This is like Ice King or whoever he was. COOPER: Yes, let me -- sorry to interrupt -- we are on satellite, so

it's a little hard to --


COOPER: But no, no, there is a lot of people who are listening tonight who say --

SCARAMUCCI: I was going to promote one of your HBO properties again. Go ahead.

COOPER: There's a lot of people who are watching tonight who say I know I agree with what you're saying, but they would say to you where have you been, you're just coming to this realization now. He has been bullying people for a long time and he had the cabinet sit around and --

SCARAMUCCI: Absolutely fair.

COOPER: -- praise -- literally going around and praising loyalty. You know, all the Trump surrogates who are on. If they say one thing, you know, negative or nuanced about him, he gets upset with them.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. So that is a very fair criticism of me, so I have to own that. I'm not going to deflect that or make up excuses, but what I would say to your viewers is I grew up in a neighborhood, in a blue collar family, and the president's promise on the campaign was related to helping to provide advocacy for those people. And I should have been more attuned to the stuff that he was doing and less attuned to my policy alignment with him, and I think fell in that, OK? So, I think that is very fair.

So people want to criticize me for speaking out now, that's legitimate, but there are others who feel that way and they don't have the courage to speak out. And so, what I'm asking them to do is think about it, when you go to bed tonight and you're thinking about your country, don't focus on your wallet or your pocketbook, focus on what's right for America, and say, is this guy normal? Is this the right way to handle things in America?

And I think when you do that, you'll get to the place where I am at, and, by the way, it will take a while for a lot of these people that like the president. I understand that. But this is not the right guy for America.

I believe in the Republican Party and Republican values and we've got to fix the party, so we need a new leader at the top of the ticket that can bring people together, that can speak with the right rhetoric to people and also explain to people that we are going to do this together, all of our problems in the country we are going to fix this together. I mean, I know the policies are better on the Republican side for the most part, I'm socially progressive. But I'm just saying, we can do this, Anderson.


SCARAMUCCI: We have to bring up the Ice King, remember the scene in the "Game of Thrones" where Arya Stark kills him --


SCARAMUCCI: -- and then all the dead zombies like evaporate, that's what we are right now. We've got to have an Arya Stark come into the room. Let's knock this guy off, OK? I mean, politically, obviously, let's move to the side, get a good six innings, he's throwing stuff at the backstop right now, he can't even hit the strike zone.

And he's doing things that are classically un-American like bullying his fellow citizens from the Oval Office on his phone.

COOPER: So let me ask you --

SCARAMUCCI: I mean, come on. Enough is enough. Let's move on from this now.

COOPER: Do you think this is -- I think you've used the word "deterioration", I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you talked about he's not -- you know, I don't know the sports analogy, I'm terrible at sports. But he's not -- you know, he's not doing as well, his fastball has slowed down, I mean, do you believe that is just --

SCARAMUCCI: Lost his fastball (ph).

COOPER: Lost his fastball (ph).

Do you believe that is degeneration something in him or he's just politically misalign -- like misreading stuff?

SCARAMUCCI: It's a combination of things, OK? It's drunk on power. As we know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Everybody is scared of him, so there's nobody inside the White House that's giving the right advice.

You know I had my issues with General Kelly. Well, let me tell you something, this thing went way downhill after General Kelly left. Now, I have subsequently made peace with General Kelly, invited him to my conference and we had a 45-minute interview, we had dinner together and lunch, and he is an American patriot.

And so, we buried our differences, OK? But I'm just saying, after General Kelly left, this thing is on a descending slope because at the end of the day, nobody will -- he won't take anybody's advice and if you, you're a good journalist, Anderson, or a great journalist, go ask people in Washington, who does the president listen to and then truth, the honest people will say, ah, nobody, he listens to nobody.


COOPER: But isn't this Republican Party now his? I mean, isn't this Republican Party now his? I mean, it's not the party of Reagan anymore.

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, no. This is like -- no, it's like a told John Berman. It's like the green witch. One you throw the water on the green witch and she starts melting, you know, those great soldiers that came to hate Dorothy, I'm sorry about this, you know, we were behind the green witch because of her perception of power, OK?

[20:15:03] If they come to him in a unit, they know that I'm right, OK? Trust me, they know I'm right. They're just afraid to say it because they don't want to get primaried, they don't want to get Trump Twitter lit up like the big cyberbully that he is, they don't want any of that stuff. But they have to dig deep now and think about the country, think about America.


COOPER: Right, but everyone -- but every Republican has done that has left.

SCARAMUCCI: Think about your grandparents.

COOPER: I mean, every Republican who's done that, who spoken out, just decided they've got to leave.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. OK. So, let's bring those people back and let's have a another conversation with people that are still in the party and say, OK, come on guys, this isn't right. I mean, we can come up with the right policies that will help the most Americans, get most people out of poverty, we can fix these asymmetrical trade deals, and we can reignite the great alliances that we have around the world.

But we're not going to do with this guy. I mean, come on.

COOPER: Let me just -- let me just --

SCARAMUCCI: You're not going to do it with this guy.



SCARAMUCCI: And, by the way, Anderson, he's getting worse.

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: He's getting worse.

Go ahead.

COOPER: Let me ask you, I have a bunch of TVs in my office.

SCARAMUCCI: It's your show, brother.

COOPER: I saw some folks on Fox talking about you, and I click on the sound you hear it, and they were saying something like basically you are putting your finger in the air, you're sensing which way --

SCARAMUCCI: Attention seeker. COOPER: -- the wind is blowing, and you want to be able to go to cocktail parties in New York, and that that's why you are speaking out. So I just want you to be able to respond.

SCARAMUCCI: It's so important to me. I'm a -- I'm a blue collared kid that lives two miles from my parents. I don't even go to cocktail parties in New York. I wouldn't even know how to find them.

I live two miles from my parents in my mother-in-law, and I take care of them every day, so that is the nonsense. They want Trump to see them on television in oh that's good, they don't say something nice about them maybe or something like that, and they will puff up their chest with all this falseness.

So, that is a bunch of -- trust me, you think I want to be doing this? I mean, I've got a great family and a great business, and I reconnected with my wife after the fiasco two years ago. Do you think I need to be doing this?

But I'm worried about the country, OK? And if you are worried about the country and you are thinking about your ancestors that help to build the country and get it to where it is now you don't want it like this with this nonsense and this division.


SCARAMUCCI: The president is getting people a license to hate, Anderson, and a license to be angry about things when he should be uniting people.


SCARAMUCCI: And so, yes, they can say whatever they want about me, I get that. But trust me, you know, you think I want to be doing this? It's not about getting attention, it's about, hey, guys, we've got to wake up now because we are in a dangerous situation.

The yellow light is on. It's going to go red. If he wins the next presidential election, look out. He hasn't listened to anybody in the first four years, what do you think is going to happen in the next four years?


SCARAMUCCI: So, to me, I know they're with me, I just like a few more phone calls. I've got a tremendous number of phone calls today from people in Washington, outside of Washington, there is tons of business cards in my hand here. Let's go. Let's break the fever that is going on in the Republican Party.

COOPER: Anthony Scaramucci, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SCARAMUCCI: Hey, nice for you, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: All right. Have a good night. The president is also raising attention on conspiracy theories involving Jeffrey Epstein as well. Yes, apparently, it's time to do that. Details on that ahead.

Also, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang on the campaign trail. He joins me tonight. He became emotional when talking about gun control this weekend. We'll talk to him in a moment.


[20:22:40] COOPER: This weekend, President Trump elevated two conspiracy theories involving the Clintons and Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in prison. It's not the first time the president's dipped his toes and the conspiracies pond, so to speak.

"The Washington Post" highlighted 23 conspiracy theories the president has elevated both in and outside the White House. There they are. For instance, the Clintons were involved in the Epstein death. They were also involved in Vince Foster's death. President Obama and birtherism. Ted Cruz's dad involved in JFK assassination. Joe Scarborough involved in deaths. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered, deep state trying to oust him, vaccines can cause autism, and on and on.

Joining me now, two veterans of the Clinton years, Joe Lockhart, the former press secretary, James Carville, strategist for the 1992 campaign.

Joe, what does it say to you that the president of the United States, I mean, has time to, you know, tweet about and peddle conspiracy theories involving Jeffrey Epstein's death?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the right wing in this country has been on the conspiracy business game, you know, for as long as I can remember. You know, you remember Hillary Clinton calling it the vast right wing conspiracy.

But before, it was done without fingerprints and undercover. With President Trump, he's making it normal for everyone to do this. This is the president of the United States, and, you know, taking this into context, it would be like Barack Obama accusing George Bush of murdering someone. You know, that will never happen. It's startling.

With Trump, it's not startling, because, you know, he's a little bit nuts when it comes to these conspiracy theories, but it's done for a reason. It's done to do like the sound you played in that first block talking about, don't believe what you see, don't believe what people say, just believe me. It's Orwellian.

And what it does is reduce overall trust in the government, where people start to believe the conspiracy theories. So, it's -- you know, he's taken something that has been in the playbook of the right- wing for quite some time and exponentially increasing both its frequency and power.

COOPER: James, I mean, obviously, this is nothing new to push conspiracy theories regularly. I mean, it's new for a president to do it, but not for this president. His whole foray into politics obviously started with birtherism.

[20:25:03] But do you think he -- to me, what's particularly interesting to me is that he, basically as Joe said, it makes people doubt everything. It's sort of along the lines of, you know, everything is rigged, there's something going on here, something is not right and yet, he is the president. Arguably, you know, it's his Department of Government. He oversees this stuff. He's ultimately responsible and yet, he's sort of -- it's almost like a strange bystander watching and tweeting about stuff.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What I don't buy is that he is getting worse. I mean, it started with the Central Park Five. Of course, it went to birtherism and you had, Senator Cruz's daddy assassinating President Kennedy, and every other stupid thing that he says.

Look, the truth of the matter is we just have to accept the fact that we live in a country that's 35 percent of the people in this county would rather be told racist lies than be told unifying truths. Now, the good news is, 65 percent I think are not like that.

But, they've been doing forever, since I can ever remember, ever he even ran for office. I don't think he's one bit worse today than he was before. He's the same person that -- they keep counting the lies. I think its' like at 10,000 now. I think CNN does it, Toronto, Glenn Kessler.

COOPER: "The Washington Post" did it.

CARVILLE: It's all documented. Nothing -- you know, nothing new here.

COOPER: Joe, I mean, yesterday, Kellyanne Conway, of course, nothing new, defended the president promoting this Clinton-Epstein conspiracy theory, saying, quote, I think the president just wants everything to be investigated.

I -- I don't even know really -- there's not question there. I just -- what the -- yes.

LOCKHART: Yes. It's -- I'm not sure I have no answer. It's speech choice (ph) --


COOPER: You have no answer to my non-question?

LOCKHART: On its -- on its face, it's ridiculous because, you know, she -- if someone had followed up with a real follow up and said, well, do you think the president's family should be investigated? Do you think the president should be investigated? She would've said, of course not, because that's a political hit job.

It's -- you know, it's really sad seeing people who had, you know, a decent reputation get destroyed by the cancer of Donald Trump. But it's -- you know, it's just outrageous that she'd stand up there and say that kind of thing but there's no real answer to it.

COOPER: You know, there's -- I think -- one of our guests wrote the book, you know, "Everything Trump Touches Dies" and I'm blanking on who it was --

LOCKHART: Rick Wilson.

COOPER: Rick Wilson, I'm sorry, Republican strategist.

It is -- it does seem, James, that no one survives a close proximity to President Trump, like survived in the sense of reputation or -- and ultimately he turns on everybody just as, you know, with Scaramucci.

CARVILLE: Yes, it's a great polo game that people play. Who has been hurt the most as a result of being part of this administration, you know? Who came out with the least amount of damage? I think it's generally acknowledged that maybe General Mattis got out there with the least amount of damage.

But I mean, think of all the people that have been ruined, wrecked, disgraced, embarrassed, you name it. And, you know --but my point is, they knew this going in. He is not one bit worse today than he was the day he was elected.

I mean, you can't be a birther -- there's no explanation for birtherism that doesn't -- that you're willing to explain racism. I'd be careful calling someone a racist but clearly he doesn't mind exploiting it. There's no other explanation for being birther. He knew that coming out of the chute.

So, I don't buy this that he's getting any worse. He's always been horrific. I don't think he can't go any lower than the place he started.

COOPER: James Carville --

CARVILLE: I really don't. And as they investigate -- why don't we investigate whether the world is round or flat? I mean, let's have -- every side needs to be heard in this debate for sure. It makes as much sense, as Joe was pointing out.


LOCKHART: But to James' point, I think it is getting worse in one sense, not necessarily on the racism. If you look at, in the first year, there were people like Gary Cohn who could stop him from doing things. He is walking us into a trade war that could precipitate an international financial crisis, an international recession, even a depression.

There's nobody now around that's telling him not to do it.


LOCKHART: That has gotten worse.

CARVILLE: But Gary Cohen would take stuff off his desk, completely take stuff off his desk.


LOCKHART: Yes, the consequences --

COOPER: I got to go.

LOCKHART: The consequences are getting worse, I think.

COOPER: Yes, James Carville, thank you. Joe Lockhart as well. It's good to have you on.

CARVILLE: You bet. Thank you.

COOPER: We have news tonight on an arrest made following the massacre in Dayton. Who police have taken into custody and why?

We're also going to talk to the presidential candidate who was -- broke down into tears over the gun deaths in America over the weekend. Andrew Yang on that moment, coming up next.


COOPER: There has been an arrest following the last Sunday's massacre of nine in Dayton, Ohio. A friend of the deceased gunman was taken into custody on federals weapons charges. The 24 year-old allegedly bought the body armor and a 100-round double drum magazine used in the attack. Investigators say, he stored them in his residence to help hide them from the shooter's parents.

Over the weekend, a slew of Democratic presidential candidates addressed the gun violence epidemic at a forum in Iowa. One of them, Andrew Yang, was brought to tears about what he heard from a mom in the crowd.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My beautiful four-year-old daughter, Dayla, was struck by a stray bullet March 2011. My son, my daughter's twin brother, witnessed what happened that day.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a six- and three- year-old boy, just imagining. I was imaging it was one of them that got shot and the other saw it.

[20:35:05] I'm so sorry.


COOPER: I spoke to Andrew Yang just before we air.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: We just played that emotional moment from this weekend in Iowa. Are you surprised given all the attention right now on the issue of background checks and guns that Mitch McConnell is not -- I mean willing to bring folks back to actually address this or even clear on what moves he would support, if any?

YANG: I mean, at this point the will of the American people is very clear and hopefully he'll see reason and reconvene the Senate, so we can get this legislation pass. When you say am I surprised, unfortunately it's not as surprising as I wish it were.

COOPER: It seems like he's -- I mean you can make the argument. He's trying to slow walk this and basically hope that attention dies down on it and then passions die down on it.

YANG: Yes, it's been the playbook certainly. They hope that country turns its attention to something else. But I have a feeling the country is not going to let this one go until we get some laws across the finish line.

COOPER: The President talks about wanting meaningful background checks in the past. After Parkland, he talks about-- he talked about, you know, raising the age for buying a long rifle. He talked about background checks as well and then nothing happens.

And he seems to kind of walk away from it as soon as people support, you know, support those ideas leave the room and the NRA or somebody else comes in and it has a different opinion.

YANG: Well, we're kind of accustomed to an erratic level of commitment decision making out of the White House, unfortunately. I think we have an historic opportunity right now not only because the American people are so outraged and eager for real action. But also the NRA is kind of a mess right now.

The NRA is in disarray and I think that their ability to counter the will of the American people somewhat diminished right now. So we have to take care this -- take advantage of this opportunity.

COOPER: There is still -- I mean, it's easy to overstate the problems within the NRA and they still have a lot of money. They're still very powerful.

YANG: Yes, of course. But--

COOPER: Do you worry about that -- about their influence in politics? I mean, do you think they still carry tremendous weight?

YANG: Well, the times are changing but the stranglehold the NRA has had on gun legislation is a sign of a larger problem which is that our politics have been over run by lobbyist, has been over run by corporate money and other funders. So one of my flag ship proposals is to give every American $100 every year that we can only give to candidates and campaigns which would washout lobbyist's cash by factor of eight to one.

COOPER: So that would be -- they could -- you would give every American $100 every year to donate to a campaign?

YANG: Just democracy dollars, you use it or lose it. You can only use these dollars to contribute to a candidate or campaign. If you don't use them, they disappear and you get--

COOPER: So would there still be lobbyist money -- I mean, you can't stop that, can you?

YANG: So that's the trick here, Anderson, is that the NRA has their tens of millions of dollars. They have legislators locked up. And so the legislators feel like it's in their self-preservation to listen to the NRA and not the will of the American people.

Money talks in this country and it's very hard to push lobbyist money out of politics entirely. So what we do is we wash it out with a flood of people powered money, where if you're a legislator and the NRA says, "hey, I've got $500,000 for a year to run against you." And then your people say, "look, who cares about that 500,000? I've got $5 million because there are 50,000 of us giving you $100 each." Then we can actually turn and align the legislator's self-interest with the will of the people.

COOPER: And what do you support in terms of change on laws regarding firearms?

YANG: I'm aligned with most of all of the Democratic candidates where we need universal background checks. We need red flag laws. We need to ban military style assault weapons.

Now the question is why are we not getting this done? And then the answer is the NRA and lobbyist cash, and the fact that the legislative process is now disconnected with the will of the people. So you have to address that. Then we have to try and get the gun manufacturers interest aligned also with the American people.

We need to have a perpetual buy-back of guns in this country because there are over 300 million firearms out there in private hands.

COOPER: Great. Even if there's an assault weapons ban, that's one of the conclusions that they've reached in 2004. I think the final report on the assault weapons ban was -- it wasn't long enough to actually have a demonstrable effect on gun deaths because there were so many--

YANG: So many out there.

COOPER: Many weapons still out there.

YANG: You know, no matter the laws we have in the books, it doesn't diminish the supply that's out there because it's not like these guns disappear. I mean a lot of them are in private homes. So a perpetual buy-back where any gun owner could trade in their gun even if it's beat up or crummy.

I mean, you can imagine something like being like, "this is not the gun -- this is not my favorite gun. I'll trade this one in and we can start to decrease the supply over time." We can also try and make the gun safer by having then to be personalized to a particular owner's hand print.

[20:40:06] So it's not fingerprint. It doesn't need to actually read your fingers but can be personalized based upon your grip, the dimensions of your figures like where the weight is coming from. And so then if that again gets into a child's hands or someone else's hands, then it's useless. And many gun owners or parents would be excited about personalizing their weapon particularly if the government were to subsidize that or even pay for it.

COOPER: Elon Musk tweeted out support for you.

YANG: Yes. Elon is part of the Yang gang. I was so excited about it.

COOPER: What was it? It was a three-word tweet?

YANG: It was, "I support Yang," which says it all.

COOPER: That's all you need to say?

YANG: But, you know, Elon's team is in touch with my team and we're going to tap our heads together. Elon's ahead of the curve obviously in terms of seeing the future and seeing what's coming.

COOPER: Yes, I mean he's brilliant clearly.

YANG: Yes, so we couldn't be more thrilled with his endorsement.

COOPER: Vice presidential candidate perhaps?

YANG: I don't think he wants that job, Anderson. I think he'll be like SpaceX, Tesla, VP. I have a feeling VP might lose in that horse race.

COOPER: Andrew Yang, it's good talking to you. Thank you.

YANG: It's great seeing you. Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Sure. And there's breaking news tonight in the Jeffrey Epstein suicide investigation. As you know he was in a jail known for being among the best of its kind. So how was he able to die by suicide?

Plus the report who broke the story of a secret plea deal and identify dozens of his alleged victims who fear they will never get justice. That's coming up.


[20:45:09] COOPER: It's breaking news, an investigation of Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide. Tonight, the "New York Times" reports that one of the two guards who were supposed to be watching Epstein wasn't even a regular guard in the first place. That person was filling in and is not a full-fledged correctional officer.

A source with knowledge of Epstein's time at the jail tells CNN that his cell was not regularly monitored the night he was believed to have killed himself. And the two guards monitoring the unit he was held in were both on overtime.

Many of his accusers now wonder if they will ever get justice. Julie K. Brown is the Miami Herald Investigative Reporter with really breaking and leading the reporting on the Epstein story from the start and for years. First of all, when you heard, I mean, this news, this is something you've been working on for years. What went through your mind?

JULIE K. BROWN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: I was just stunned, I mean, you know, just like everybody else. The first thought was, isn't he on suicide watch and how does someone commit suicide when on they're on suicide watch? I mean, I thought the same thing as everybody else did

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: And my first thought actually after that was to call the women, you know, to call the victims. I called them immediately and, you know, they were very distraught.

COOPER: Because they felt that they weren't going to get answers? And that anybody else who was involved might not be brought to justice?

BROWN: I don't know if it was that as much as, you know, they had been wanting, you know, their whole goal was to hold him accountable.

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: You know, and to see that he finally go to prison.

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: Because he got such a sweet heart deal back in 2008, and he mercilessly in a lot of respects treated them terribly.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the detectives following them.

BROWN: Oh, yes, yes.

COOPER: Threatening them.

BROWN: And his lawyers were submitting, you know, their Facebook page at the (INAUDIBLE) at that time it was MySpace, that's how long ago it was. But, you know, because they were -- one of them was drinking a beer or one of them was smoking marijuana, or they did all they could to dig into the deepest darkest part of their lives. And remember, these were girls who came from the vulnerable environments and broken families.

COOPER: Right. And there is a reason he picked people in that situation.


COOPER: Just in terms of possible co-conspirators and he does -- do all the answers die with him? Or, I mean, obviously he knew a lot of stuff that he could have revealed how he'd been alive if he was so inclined or wanted to, you know, lessen a deal and so. Are there other ways to get at justice for the victims?

BROWN: Well, you know, he had a lot of people helping him. He did not do this on his own. You know, marshal you know, hundreds of girls to molest three times a day as we saw in the documents that were released the other day. He had to have it at least three times a day and he wanted different girls all the time. It wasn't even enough to have a hand full that came all the time. He wanted tons of them.

And so in order to do that and to recruit these girls from various places, he had some women that helped him do this and kept his schedule, and would call, and go to these schools, and go to other places where teenage girls congregate and try to lure them into giving him a massage. That was the code word for what he was doing.

You know, you'll get $200 and you'll give an old man a massage and, you now, these girls, you know, didn't have any money, some of them were pretty much homeless.

COOPER: And just in terms of questions you have about his death, you know, you had pointed out his cozy treatment when he was in jail, I think was in Florida. He was able to basically get all this preferential treatment. Do you were -- do you -- you must be curious if there was something -- some level of that going on in this facility?

BROWN: I absolutely think there was some level of that. He was a master manipulator. And he, you know, he had a jail term in Florida like no other sex offender would ever get in Florida. I mean, he was allowed to leave everyday for 12 hours a day, go to a very nice office in Palm Beach.

And he was greeting his visitors and even greeting women there. And he hired his own private security detail. I mean, it was unbelievable the kind of privileges that he had when he was jailed in Florida for, you know, a brief period of time.

So it wouldn't surprise me at all that he somehow managed to convince, you know, a commander or I don't know who in the jail to say, "well, I don't want to have" -- and I've seen it in the documents for the jail term that he had in Florida where he didn't like to have lights on for example in his cell.

So, you know, so he would convince somebody not to let him turn the lights off, which is a kind of security issue because you don't see what the inmate is doing if you don't have that little night light on. So he managed to do that in Florida. I'm sure he -- he persuaded them to not have a cell mate. He probably didn't want a cell mate.

[20:50:04] COOPER: Yes, Julie Brown, again, thank you for all your incredible work on this and obviously continues. Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

COOPER: The Trump administration announced new much tougher regulations that could make it easier to reject green cards and visa application, that's next.


COOPER: The Trump administration today announced new far tougher standards for illegal immigrants to obtain green cards or to qualify for citizenship. Under the plan green card applicants who've used government benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers could be denied full time status, because they'd be considered more likely to need assistance in the future.

In effect, the financial status of those seeking permanent status here would be heavily scrutinized. The rule which covers 837 pages won't go into effect for a couple of months, legal challenges are likely. They would apply to those wanting to remain in the country and those seeking to enter.

[20:55:04] I want to get perspective from now from Univision Anchor, Jorge Ramos. He's the author of "Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era". I spoke with him before air time.


COOPER: The news that the Trump administration is now making harder for legal immigrants to stay here. I mean, that's -- that's a whole new level for this administration.

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISON ANCHOR: You know, Donald Trump is the most anti-immigrant president in the last -- almost 70 years. So this is just another different step that he's taking. This is a president who separated babies from their mothers, who's putting children in cages, who's not allowing people who are applying for political asylum to stay here. And now he's attacking legal immigrants.

COOPER: I mean, it's, you know, you look at the Statue of Liberty, it's, you know, your tired, your poor, you know, how (INAUDIBLE). The idea that only wealthy, you know, people coming from countries that this administration seems to want to attract can contribute to America is, I mean, it's just a ridiculous notion.

RAMOS: And Donald Trump is not very good at being sensitive and he's not very good at math, because what they're telling also it not the whole truth. They're trying to give you the idea that immigrants are criminals or that they're too expensive and that is not true.

Of course at the beginning, immigrants, we have to pay for education, and for health care, and for public services. But at the end, it's just a great business to have immigrants in this country.

COOPER: Yes. RAMOS: I was reading a study by the National Academy of Sciences and at the end, all immigrants, both legal and undocumented, contribute more than $2 billion a year to the economy of this country. That's what we call the immigrant surplus. And the Trump administration is not telling you that.

COOPER: It also just -- I mean, it is a fundamental view of the United States of what this administration clearly wants the United States to look like down the road. The idea that, you know, whites will not be the majority, I mean, that's -- it's an exciting transformation of the country, it's an exciting evolution. And, you know, progress of our country in many different ways. Clearly there's, you know, among white supremacists, white nationalist that is viewed as a horrific event.

RAMOS: I do understand but there's nothing really they can do against this incredible demographic revolution. And in 2044, everyone is going to be a minority.

And then I think President Trump represents those who are trying to revert that trend and he doesn't say it. But he would like -- it seems to me, that's his vision, just to have America look like him. Again, that's going to be impossible.

COOPER: So, for those who support what the administration is doing, and say, "Well, look, America should have the best and the brightest." And if, you know, that's in their opinion, you know, people who are not taking public assistance early on, what's wrong with that?

RAMOS: Well, they're here. The best and the brightest are already here. Immigrants, both legal and undocumented, they harvest the food that we eat. They build the apartments and the houses where we live. They take care of our children. I mean, the country is great, thanks to its diversity and thanks to (INAUDIBLE) of immigration and because we continue with that tradition.

COOPER: I want to play something that the acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection said, in reaction to the video of a young girl crying that obviously got a lot of attention after that ICE on close to 700 undocumented workers. Let's just play what he said.


MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: So, I understand that the girl us upset and I get that, but her father committed a crime. And just so the American people know also is that girl, her mother was home and she was reunited with her mother within a few hours that night.


COOPER: I mean, her father committed a crime by crossing into the United States, apparently --

RAMOS: There's another 10 or 11 million. So officially we are in the business, these governments in the business of separating children from their parents. We know that for sure.

And when I hear things like that, Anderson, are we talking about also all the Americans, millions of Americans who benefit from the work of undocumented immigrants? I mean, undocumented immigrants, that father didn't come to this country to go to Disneyland. He didn't come to go to -- just to see a movie.

Now, he came to work and we all benefit from their work and that's why not saying , whenever we go to a restaurant or to a hotel, just do the experiment, go to back room, go to the kitchen, go to the -- to the lower floor, and you'll see the people who are really doing the job.

COOPER: We know, I mean, you go to a Trump resort, you go to a Trump golf course, you will find that, you know, at least in the past, up until it was exposed, you will find undocumented immigrants.

I mean, the hypocrisy is really astounding. Even reports of, you know, Polish workers who were undocumented building, doing demolition to do the foundation for Trump Tower, his, you know, allegedly his crown jewel.

RAMOS: And, and also what important, just to see the alternative. We've been discussing for 20 years now the possibility of legalizing 10, 11 million undocumented immigrants. There's nothing wrong with that idea, but he is just giving you the only option for them, which is just to deport someone who came here to work for the American people.

COOPER: Jorge Ramos, thank you

RAMOS: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Up next, the latest in the arrest made following the shooting massacre in Dayton, Ohio, a new arrest. Plus, I'll speak with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy on efforts to pass gun control legislation. President Trump talked about "meaningful background check." The question is, what does that really mean? Is it all talk no action? We'll be right back.