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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
President Trump Thanks Justice Department For Intervening In Stone Case; Senator Elizabeth Warren On the Path Forward After Fourth Place Finish In New Hampshire; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is Interviewed; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is Interviewed. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 12, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, new evidence of a president unleashed and upfront about it, continuing his retribution against perceived enemies, intervening on behalf of his friends and doing it publicly. There's a lot to cover on that tonight, and we'll get to it shortly.
We begin, though, with a Democratic primary that's taken on new significance in light of it all, an apparent front-runner in it, with Iowa and New Hampshire now in the books.
Senator Bernie Sanders is here, he joins us live.
First, quickly, CNN's John King with the state of the race now that New Hampshire is in the books.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the headline, Bernie Sanders gets the win, Pete Buttigieg a very close second, Amy Klobuchar, a surprising third place in New Hampshire.
Now, what are the lessons as we go from New Hampshire on to Nevada and South Carolina?
Number one, Sanders can rightly claim to be the leading progressive in the race right now. He won narrowly.
But look where Senator Elizabeth Warren is. She led in New Hampshire over the summer. She slipped to single digits, a disappointing performance there.
As we go on, a lot of people are going to talk about why did this happen? Sanders getting more than 75,000 votes. But that is less than what he received in this blowout over Hillary Clinton four years ago. Now, somewhat unfair.
It's a two-candidate race here. You have a multi-candidate race here. But still people will ask if Bernie Sanders says he can bring the new voters, bring the high energy, bring the turnout, why did he slip so much in New Hampshire? A question to ask as we go forward. The other question here is, what happened to the former Vice President
Joe Biden? Eight-point-four percent, allowing Buttigieg and Klobuchar for now to emerge as the leading centrists or moderate candidates.
Another thing we saw play out here in the race is the others, especially Mayor Buttigieg, ran very well in places we'll call Sanders' strongholds. These are the towns where Bernie Sanders ran it up the most, the highest victory margin against Senator Clinton, Secretary Clinton, four years ago.
Look, some of the light green, that's Mayor Buttigieg. A little bit of the dark green, that's Senator Klobuchar making inroads in what was in the last campaign the foundation of the big Bernie Sanders victory.
Something else we saw in New Hampshire last night was a definite split worth watching as we go forward among income groups. Bernie Sanders says he's the candidate of the working class. Blue-collar voters -- well, he proved that last night in New Hampshire.
Among those making under $50,000 a year, Senator Sanders winning with 38 percent, more than 2-1 over Mayor Buttigieg, then Warren, Klobuchar, Biden. Bernie Sanders can rightly claim blue-collar workers like me.
But there's a flip side to that. Look at this among voters who make $100,000 a year or more, very important suburban constituency particularly for Democrats as they move through this campaign. There, Mayor Buttigieg with a big win, followed by Klobuchar, Sanders in third. So, lower income, middle-class income, goes to Senator Sanders, more affluent voters splitting for the moderates.
Here's another win, look at that. If you look through the state here and just pop out the 25 wealthiest towns by median income in the state of New Hampshire, look at all that green. Mostly Buttigieg. A little Klobuchar. Only 2 percent going to Bernie Sanders.
This is a dynamic worth watching as we go into more diverse states, especially the big state of Super Tuesday. Can Senator Sanders expand his horizons and get to the upper-income voters? Can the moderates get down to the blue-collar workers? That's a test we'll see as we go forward. But for now, today, Bernie Sanders says, I have a win, and I can keep going.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: W won the popular vote in Iowa. We won the vote here in New Hampshire. I believe we're going to win in Nevada. I think we're going to win in South Carolina. I think we're going to win a whole lot of states on Super Tuesday.
We're feeling great. We think we're on a path to victory. We'll win the nomination and I think we're going to beat Donald Trump big-time.
COOPER: And with that on the table, we are joined now by Senator Sanders.
Senator Sanders, congratulations on the victory last night. How do you feel?
SANDERS: I feel great.
COOPER: A win is certainly a win. Pete Buttigieg, as John King was saying, finished closer than expected. He said last night, quote: Vulnerable Americans do not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive victory.
I'm (ph) assuming that's a swipe at you or nod to you. What do you say to that?
SANDERS: Well, what I say is that we are putting together an unprecedented grassroots movement. It's made up of working people. It's made up of lower-income people. It's made up of young people.
It's made up of people who feel disenfranchised from a corrupt political system which is dominated by big money interest.
Anderson, in my view, the American people want a government finally that represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors and the billionaire class, and that is why we're going to win in South Carolina, in Nevada. And we're going to beat Donald Trump.
COOPER: Some of the analysts last night, you know, said, look, if you take all the people who voted for Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and certainly a lesser extent, Vice President Biden last night, it's more than 52 percent of the vote, a big chunk of people going toward more moderate side of the party.
Can you win the nomination without voters who likely have already considered your plans for Medicare-for-All or free college tuition, and determined they don't want that?
SANDERS: Well, actually, I think if you look at the exit polls yesterday in New Hampshire, if my memory is correct, Medicare-for-All was extremely popular. And was one of the reasons that we won.
I think, Anderson, that the more we have an opportunity, and if we're in the general election, we certainly will, to talk about a dysfunctional health care system in which we spent twice as much per capita as the people of any other country, and yet 87 million of us are uninsured or underinsured, 30,000 die each year because they don't go (ph) to a doctor, 500,000 people go bankrupt because of medically- related bills, and we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs -- you know what, I think people will be very supportive of Medicare-for-All and help us win the election.
COOPER: Pete Buttigieg has actually been focusing on Medicare-for- All. And one of the things he said to CNN this morning was about union -- union health care plans. And I just want to play that for our viewers. It's from CNN this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you're in Nevada, you talk to a lot of folks including workers in organizations like the Culinary Workers Union and other labor organizations that have fought hard for good health care plans. And Senator Sanders' message that he's going to erase those plans and replace them with a single government plan for everybody is going to be, I think, a very tough sell among voters who want to have that choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's a 60,000-member union. He says they're handing out flyers saying you want to end health care for their workers and their families.
SANDERS: That's -- that's not exactly what that flyer is about.
But truth is, I have far more union support, to the best of my knowledge, than Mr. Buttigieg does.
And in fact, many of the unions are strongly supporting of a Medicare- for-All single-payer system, and I'll tell you why. Because when unions sit down and negotiate with their employers, very often what the employer will say, well, you know, I can give you a 2 percent wage increase, but I'm going to have to cut back on your health care benefits.
Talk to any union official and they will tell you they spend half their lives just trying to protect the health care benefits that they have.
We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people, and in those countries, unions are going to have to defend the health care benefits they have. They already have health care. They can talk about better wages and better working conditions.
So I think what you will find is that many of the unions are supportive of Medicare-for-All because it is comprehensive health care. You lose your job, you got it. You're old, you got it. You're young, you got it. You're unemployed, you got it.
It is where this country, if my view, has got to go.
COOPER: You know the criticism, obviously, of Iowa, and New Hampshire, largely white rural populations, not representative of most of the country. Next contest, obviously, is Nevada and then South Carolina, much more diverse states.
There was a national Quinnipiac poll this week. It showed Mike Bloomberg leading you among African-American voters 22 percent to 19 percent. Again, a lot of people haven't actually seen Mike Bloomberg in the flesh. They've just seen his TV commercials.
But does that concern you?
SANDERS: Look, I think at the end of the day when people, A, learn about Mr. Bloomberg's record of stop-and-frisk in New York City, I think that will change some minds.
But, second of all, I think when people understand that in our democratic society, we have an individual worth some $60 billion who in an unprecedented way, Anderson, is literally trying to buy the elections. He didn't compete in Iowa where all the Democratic candidates did, nor in New Hampshire, nor in Nevada, nor in South Carolina.
He didn't hold town meetings. He didn't talk to people, answer questions. All he did is take a small part of his $60 billion, put it into TV commercials, and I guess that can get you votes.
But at the end of the day, it is my firm belief that our kind of grassroots coalition, it's a multigenerational, multiracial coalition, with millions of people knocking on doors, volunteering, making small campaign contributions, we're going to defeat a billionaire.
COOPER: James Carville, who's obviously a longtime Clinton loyalist, who was supporting Senator Michael Bennet, who obviously dropped out of the primary race last night, he said this week core Democratic voters aren't interested being in what he called, said, a cult. He said they're not interested in socialism and revolution and other things, he called foolishness, and that, quote, I don't know how you win an election 78 years old screaming in a microphone about the revolution.
I don't know if he was actually screaming at the time, although it's very possible, knowing James.
But -- so, I want to -- I want to give you a chance to respond.
SANDERS: Look, James, in all due respect, is a political hack who said very terrible things when he was working for Clinton against Barack Obama. I think he said some of the same things.
Look, we are taking on the establishment.
This is no secret to anybody. We're taking on the Wall -- I guess the former head of Goldman Sachs attacked me yesterday. We're taking on Wall Street --
COOPER: Yes, he had some unkind things as well.
SANDERS: He did. Yes. Wall Street.
And the insurance companies don't like me. You know what, the pharmaceutical industry, which is charging us 10 times more for the same drugs they sell in Canada, they don't like me either. Nor does the fossil fuel industry because their product happens to be destroying our planet, nor does the military industrial complex or the prison industrial complex.
We are taking on Trump, the Republican establishment, Carville and the Democratic establishment. But at the end of the day, the grassroots movement that we are putting
together of young people, of working people, of people of color, want real change.
COOPER: But you knew --
SANDERS: And they want us to take --
COOPER: Right, sorry.
SANDERS: Yes, I'm sorry, go ahead.
COOPER: You knew, though, it's not all, you know, just establishment folks who have a vested interest. I mean, there are, you know, American citizens who, you know, went out to vote in New Hampshire, and voted for Klobuchar or voted for Buttigieg --
COOPER: -- or in some cases Biden, who just feel like --
COOPER: -- revolution is -- it's just too much.
SANDERS: All right. But let's --
COOPER: They -- and they maybe like their plans. They don't want their insurance taken away for something else in government hands they don't have, you know, any idea about.
SANDERS: Well, first of all, I think if you look at the issues that we are talking about, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour -- enormously popular. Demanding that the wealthy and the powerful and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes -- enormously powerful and popular. Making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
As I said earlier, Medicare-for-All was one of the reasons we won in New Hampshire. It is very popular in New Hampshire and I suspect among Democrats all over this country.
Criminal justice reform. Immigration reform. These are issues that the American people, in fact, support.
And we're going to win this election because we are prepared to stand up to Wall Street and the corporate elite and finally do what the American people want.
COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, appreciate it. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead, the other big -- the other contender in the liberal lane, Senator Elizabeth Warren, she joins us.
And next, the president was asked today what he learned from impeachment. The answers and what he said and what he's been doing are raising yet more concerns about a president with absolutely no guardrails. We're keeping them honest.
COOPER: Today's Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Here's part of how President Trump marked the occasion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What lesson did you learn from impeachment?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That the Democrats are crooked. They've got a lot of crooked things going, that they're vicious, that they shouldn't have brought impeachment.
REPORTER: Anything --
TRUMP: And that my poll numbers are ten points higher because of fake news like NBC, which reports the news very inaccurately, probably more inaccurately than CNN, if that's possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that's what he's learned. The heir to Lincoln's legacy, the party of what was once known as the Party of Lincoln, this afternoon seeming to confirm he learned none of the lessons that many Republicans may have hoped he would before voting to acquit him.
Ever since, as you know, he's been carrying out retribution against perceived enemies and now seeking to protect friends. This morning, he began reveling in it, tweeting this about the Justice Department's decision yesterday to scale back the sentencing recommendation for his friend, Roger Stone.
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of the case that was totally out of control and prance should not have even been brought.
When this happened, just hours after an early morning presidential tweet decrying the tougher recommendation for federal prosecutors withdrew from the case. That happened yesterday.
Here's the president's reaction today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned about the four prosecutors?
TRUMP: I'm not concerned about anything. (CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I'm not concerned about anything. They ought to go back to school and learn because I'll tell you, the way they treated people, nobody should be treated like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He also thanked the Justice Department while at the same time denying that he played any role in their decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I didn't speak to them, by the way, just so you understand. They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing. You have murderers and drug addicts, they don't get nine years. Nine years for doing something that nobody even can define what he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Murderers generally get more than nine years.
Actually, those prosecutors also did define what Roger Stone did, and actually a jury, which is our system in this country, convicted him on all seven counts of lying to Congress, obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering in the Russia investigation.
As for not speaking to the Justice Department, he might not have picked up the phone, according to him, but he didn't really need to, did he? He'd already told the world, he tweeted at 1:48 a.m., no less, Eastern Time, yesterday morning, quote: This is a very horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side. If nothing happens to them, cannot allow this miscarriage of justice.
Just like that, hours later the sentencing recommendations were changed.
By today, he was publicly thanking the Department of Justice. As for the reaction from Republican senators, well, you can pretty much guess. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Aare you concerned at all about political influence --
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): I'm sorry. I'll miss a vote.
REPORTER: Any concern about Roger Stone, sir?
REPORTER: So you don't have any concerns of what some say is a continuing pattern of some political intervention in a --
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I got real concerns about overzealous prosecution, more than anything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Senator Graham went on to say he's, quote, not losing any sleep, unquote, about the four prosecutors.
Senator John Thune said, quote: It's always best to allow the legal system in this country to work the way it was intended.
Interpret that how you will. Which are words the president has never actually shown any sign of living by, whether it's speaking out repeatedly in the Paul Manafort case or behalf of Michael Flynn or calling for Comey and others to be prosecuted.
In fact, the only time he seems to have spoken out against presidential involvement was when someone else was president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Here's a demand I'm making today to President Obama.
Mr. President, will you pledge not to issue a pardon to Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators for their many crimes against our country and against society, itself? Will you make that pledge? No one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, as you know, was never convicted of, let alone charged with any crime. As for no one being above the law, the fear now is the president is acting as if he is. This comes just days after the president fired a decorated combat veteran, Alexander Vindman, for testifying to Congress. Oh, his twin brother as well. And firing Ambassador Gordon Sondland who also testified.
Today, the White House formally yanked the promotion of a former Justice Department official whose office oversaw the Stone case as well as the case of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. One person familiar with the president's thinking telling CNN today that the problem was that she did not do more to get involved in those cases.
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler says he expects Attorney General Barr to testify late next month to address, quote, improper influence over the department.
Here's some of his past testimony on the subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Attorney General Barr, has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't --
HARRIS: Yes or No? BARR: Could you -- could you repeat that question?
HARRIS: I will repeat it.
Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no please, sir.
BARR: The President or anybody else --
HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.
BARR: Yes, but I'm, I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest." I mean, there have been discussions of, of matters out there that -- they have not asked me to open an investigation, but --
HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested?
BARR: I don't know, I wouldn't say suggest --
BARR: I don't know.
HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know? OK
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said back then he didn't know. Tonight, the question is, how could he not?
Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat of Connecticut.
Senator Murphy, the fact the president says what he learned from the impeachment trial is that the Democrats are crooked and vicious, it doesn't sound like someone who's learned any lessons as some of your Republican colleagues have said is the case, or hoped was the case.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, I mean, he definitely learned a lesson. He learned that he could get away with corrupting his office with absolutely no consequences. And, you know, we all knew it was laughable when our Republican colleagues who were voting to acquit the president suggested that he will have learned his lesson.
Well, he did learn a lesson. What he learned is he can do anything. He can use all of the tools that are at his disposal in the White House, at the State Department, at the Justice Department, in order to destroy his political rivals, in order to silence anyone who speaks out against him, and to forgive, pardon, or let off the hook his co- conspirators.
That's the lesson that he has learned, and what I think we all worry is that we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. He essentially has a get out of jail free card from Republicans in the Senate. And so, if he could get away with corrupting our Ukraine policy, if he can get away with firing everybody who told the truth about it, and if he can get away with lessening the sentences of people who offended in his name, I just don't know that there's any end to this.
COOPER: I mean, if President Obama had gone after the federal prosecutors and federal judge involved in prosecuting one of his cronies who'd been convicted of multiple felonies by a jury, you know, there's no doubt Republicans would have flipped out. Maybe, you know, he would have even stood up to, you know, previous Republican presidents who might have tried such a thing, but not this president.
MURPHY: No. I mean, listen, that's obviously the case. Just imagine what Lindsey Graham would be screaming about if President Obama had engaged in any of the conduct that is -- happened in simply the last three days.
And what we're seeing is the Republican Party turn into a cult. They have a "dear leader" that they follow without question and it's really sad to see. I mean, it's really heartbreaking to see Republicans in the Senate who I know in their heart understand the damage that's been done in democracy fall in line over and over and over again.
And, you know, we all worry that they're going to wake up some day in the near future and find our democracy gone.
It's a fragile, delicate, creature. It's only been around for 240 years, and I don't think anybody should assume it's going to be around for another 240 if you don't take steps to protect it from people like this.
COOPER: You think it's that bad? I mean, you think this -- actually democracy could come to an end?
MURPHY: Listen, I think that there are all sorts of different versions of democratic governments out there, and I don't know that in the next 10 to 20 years, America transitions into a Saudi Arabian- style autocracy, but we certainly could all lose our rights of political dissent, if we, all of a sudden, find out that the Justice Department targets people who criticize the president or is lenient on those who commit crimes directed by the president or in coordination with the president's political agenda -- then, all of a sudden, that doesn't feel like a democracy to me. And then, all of a sudden, it just makes it a lot easier for people who are in power to stay in power.
I mean, that's the fundamental -- that's the foundation of our democracy that you can't use your official powers to try to preserve your power. And that's what the president is doing today on almost a daily basis.
COOPER: Just lastly, part and parcel of keeping the president's powers in check, the Senate in a bipartisan vote passed a War Powers Resolution today that would restrict the president from taking action against Iran without Congress' approval. The president tweeted the resolution shows, quote, weakness, and Democrats are just trying to embarrass him.
Some Republicans joined Democrats in passing the measure.
What do you say to him? What do you say to the president on this?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, listen, this is a sliver of good news. We were able to get a few Republicans to join us with to make clear that he can't go to war with Iran without congressional authorization. And there are other ways in which Congress is trying in a bipartisan way to push back on the ways in which the president has abused his power.
I'm going to be going this weekend to Ukraine, the first congressional visit there since the impeachment trial with Republicans. And I will be sending a message once more to President Zelensky that he should stay out of American politics, even if Rudy Giuliani is still skulking around.
So, whether it be a War Powers vote or trips abroad, to try to make sure that our foreign policy doesn't continue to be perverted by this president, we're going to have to all be active in defense of democracy.
COOPER: Senator Chris Murphy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
COOPER: We're going to have more on this story just ahead.
Alan Dershowitz, one of President Trump's attorneys during the impeachment trial, joins us and CNN's Jeff Toobin to talk about the Stone case.
Later, Senator Elizabeth Warren on her disappointing performance in New Hampshire and why she says the race is far from over.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Before the break, you heard Democratic Senator Chris Murphy weigh in on the Roger Stone case. He said the actions of President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr were more proof of how emboldened the President's become since his acquittal.
Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz, who is one of President Trump's defenders during the trial, in the impeachment trial, he's the author of "Defending the Constitution: Alan Dershowitz's Senate Argument Against Impeachment." Also with us, Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor and CNN Chief Legal Analyst. Good to have both of you with us.
Jeff, the President today congratulating Attorney General Barr on Twitter saying, of taking charge in the case, thanking the Justice Department.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the power to prosecute is the maybe the greatest power the federal government has, except maybe to make war. You know, you can -- they can lock people up. They can execute people. And one of the bedrock principles of what we do as a government is to treat everybody the same.
We don't have the executive, who happens to be in charge now, single out his friends for harsh -- or easy treatment, or his enemies for harsh treatment. And to have the President pick his friend to have his sentence of, you know, recommendation overturned, is just a perversion of everything that the Justice Department stands for.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, the President says he didn't intervene in the Justice Department's decision. Does -- you know, his critics say, look, he doesn't have to pick up the phone and call the attorney general. He tweets out his thoughts and the attorney general knows what to do. What do you make of it?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY: Well, that's clear. And -- that's clear. The issue is whether or not that's unlawful or unconstitutional. And our constitution puts the President in charge of the executive branch.
And we know that President Jefferson micromanaged the Aaron Burr case. We know that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt micromanaged the case of the German saboteurs and determine what their sentence was going be. And we know that President George H.W. Bush pardon Caspar Weinberger on the eve of his trial in order to prevent Weinberger from pointing the finger to him.
We live in an imperfect world because we have a very schizophrenic Justice Department. No other western democracy merges the two roles of the attorney general. A, he is the minister of justice, the adviser to the president, the political adviser, the cabinet member, and he's also the chief law enforcement official.
In England, they have a separate office, director of public prosecution. In Israel, a separate office. Many other countries separate offices so we don't have that problem. But in our country, we do have that problem.
I wish we could eliminate it, and we could eliminate it if we created a new department, a department of public prosecution, which would be generally operated out of the courts and not by the executive.
But right now, presidents throughout history have put a thumb on the scale, have helped their friends, hurt their enemies and it's not a good system. I wish we didn't have it. In this case, of course, the sentence itself -- I hope Americans really pay attention to this because the sentence itself was absolutely outrageous.
Now, president shouldn't be focus on one sentence, he should be talking about how sentences have gotten out of hand. This guy got four times the amount he would have gotten had he pleaded guilty and that's called the trial penalty. And so there are a lot of problems and issues here, but it shouldn't be done selectively, it should be done across the board.
TOOBIN: But Alan, it seems like your point is because other presidents have behaved badly, it's OK that this President behaved badly? It's not required for presidents to abuse their power in this way, so why should President Trump have done it?
DERSHOWITZ: Of course not. Well, nobody should abuse their power. Obviously, the question is, is it within the power of the President to intervene? He says he didn't, but to intervene in order to try to lower an outrageously high sentence. If the President did it routinely and said, look, I'm going to look into harsh sentences, I see that as part of my role as checks and balance. I'm going to commute, I'm going to pardon and I'm going to influence the Justice Department to reduce sentences. I'm going to try to get rid of the guidelines.
As you know, when the guidelines came into effect, 20 percent of people pleaded not guilty went to trial. Now it's something like 3 percent or 4 percent because the trial penalty is so great that people are afraid to go to trial and they're getting -- when you sentence an old man, a first offender, nonviolent, to life in prison --
COOPER: Right, but this is not anything the President has ever talked about.
DERSHOWITZ: -- for a person that age.
COOPER: I mean, it's not -- this is not something --
DERSHOWITZ: No, he has talked about that. He has talked about that. He has talked about that. He's talked about excessive sentences. He talked about it with the First Step Act. I hope he will talk about it more generally now --
COOPER: Like the Central Park Five, because he was really outraged about it.
DERSHOWITZ: -- because I think the American public --
COOPER: I mean, he has a record of, you know, calling -- wanting people to be killed. I mean, he's not exactly all the time talking about harsh sentences and making this a focus. He's talking about helping out his friends.
DERSHOWITZ: I would love to see the President make it as part of his policy to reduce sentences across the board, to make sure that the trial penalty is eliminated or reduced. This could be a wake-up call. Look, civil libertarians and liberals should be outraged at the seven to nine-year sentence that was recommended by the Justice Department here.
TOOBIN: First of all, Alan, there's a recommendation, it wasn't the sentence.
DERSHOWITZ: And it would be if it weren't for this President. Yes.
TOOBIN: It wasn't the sentence. And isn't the fact --
DERSHOWITZ: I understand that.
TOOBIN: -- that he hasn't spoken out for -- on other defendants, make it worse that he spoke out on this one because this is his friend. This is someone who potentially could have testified against him. Doesn't it make it worse that this is the one case he chose to speak out on?
DERSHOWITZ: Like in the George H.W. Bush case. Of course, when the president picks one case, it's usually a case that's come to his attention for one reason or another. But Jeffrey, are you seriously saying that it matters that this was just a recommendation? You know how infrequently judges don't follow recommendations.
It's prosecutors' recommendations that result in the trial penalty and coercing people into going to plead guilty when they have close cases for which they could be acquitted. So, it's the recommendation of prosecutors. That's the real problem.
TOOBIN: Paul Manafort got considerable --
DERSHOWITZ: And if the American public would focus on this, even if this situation -- yes.
TOOBIN: Paul Manafort got considerably less than the guidelines. Roger Stone was --
DERSHOWITZ: That's the judge --
TOOBIN: -- very weakly (ph) defended. So the idea that this was a sentence of seven to nine years is simply not true. This was a recommendation of the Justice Department. It was consistent with what the probation department recommended.
DERSHOWITZ: And it was a terrible recommendation.
TOOBIN: I think it was a very --
TOOBIN: -- high recommendation. I agree with you on that. But the idea that the President of the United States decides this one case, and by the way, in that tweet, he said the Democrats should be the one who are prosecuted. So he's not just defending his own friend, he's asking for his enemies to be prosecuted, too.
COOPER: We're out of time. I appreciate it Mr. Dershowitz.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, we haven't seen that happening. But I hope this will result in reform in the system. That would be a good thing.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, thanks, Jeff Toobin as well.
Up next, my interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren, how she says she can turn her campaign around.
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COOPER: Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign is clearly reassessing its strategy tonight. The Massachusetts senator led polls just a few months ago, however, she's now had two poor performances in a row, placing third in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire.
Today, according to one media analysis group, her campaign has canceled more than a half million dollars in ad reservations in the next primary state in South Carolina. Just before airtime, I spoke to Senator Warren about her performance so far and how she sees the coming weeks and months unfolding.
COOPER: Senator Warren, thanks for being with us. I'm wondering about last night, what do you think happened in New Hampshire? There were obviously a lot of people who wanted you to do better, your supporters.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sure, including me. But, you know, we've got five candidates now who all have delegates, and I think we're in for a long nomination process. Since Iowa, I have raised $5 million in grassroots donations. People who are saying, stay in this race, fight this race, because they get it.
COOPER: Do you have a sense of why that message, which is the message you gave in New Hampshire, didn't resonate?
WARREN: You know, I don't. But I can tell you this, I can tell you that it's what I fight for. And I'm going to get out there and keep fighting for it and keep talking about it. I think we're in a very frothy place right now, but do keep in mind, we've only heard from two states. We got 98 states and territories, 98 percent of our states and territories left to go. That means we've got a lot coming up.
Although, I have to say I know everybody wants to talk about the horse race, but the thing that is really getting to me right now is what's going on over at the Justice Department and the whole notion that we have people in our Justice Department resigning because Donald Trump's inappropriate influence and the attorney general overturning a sentencing of Donald Trump's cronies.
You know, right if front of our eyes, we are watching a descent into authoritarianism. And this just seems like a moment to me everybody should be speaking up. Presidential candidates should be speaking up. People around this country should be speaking up.
COOPER: I said --
WARREN: We can't have this.
COOPER: Last night I think I said on air that, you know, "The Washington Post" says democracy dies in darkness. It actually doesn't. It dies on television. It dies right under the lights of, you know, the bright of day.
WARREN: With people not doing something.
COOPER: I mean, this is an attack on the institution of justice.
WARREN: That's right, and with people not doing something. I mean, understand right now we should all be calling for the attorney general to resign. What Barr has done should mean that we are demanding a resignation. And if that guy won't resign, then the House should start impeachment proceedings against him.
COOPER: I know when you called for the impeachment of the president and an investigation on impeachment, there were those who said, well, look, you know, politically, this is not going to be good for Democrats. You said, look, there are things that are more important than that. Is there -- I mean, the idea of launching another impeachment investigation this time against the attorney general, that -- I mean, again, there are political considerations, no?
WARREN: No doubt there are political considerations, but what do you think are the political considerations just sitting by and sitting on your hands? Look, you started this with talking about how democracy dies. It doesn't just die in darkness, that it dies on television with nobody doing anything. Enough of this. We can't just sit by and watch this happen. And I have to say, I'm surprised the other presidential candidates aren't out there talking about it.
COOPER: Before we go, just one last question about what lies ahead for you. Obviously, it's Nevada. There's South Carolina. Are you concerned that -- I mean, Senator Sanders appears to be solidifying the progressive wing of the party behind him. You got, I guess more moderates, you might say, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar. Do you see yourself as sort of a lane in between a Sanders, and a Buttigieg, a Klobuchar? I mean, some sort of bridge between them? Where is your lane at this point?
WARREN: So, Jesse Jackson made a wonderful statement many years ago, "It takes two wings to fly." And I think that's where we are right now in the Democratic Party, a lot of good people in this party, a lot of good ideas. But we need someone who's going to be able to unite this party, and to be able to fight hard on behalf of core Democratic values, to fight on behalf of hardworking middle-class American families, to fight on behalf of people who've just been getting the short end of the stick over and over and over.
You know, I came to politics late, but that was my life's work. And I'm running for president not just because I know how badly it has gotten for hardworking people, but I can see the ways that we can make this better. We get in this fight together. We can turn this around. We can make this a country that isn't just working for rich people, but a country that actually invests in all of our children, a country that actually builds a future for everyone. It's what makes this so exciting.
COOPER: Senator Warren, appreciate your time. Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
COOPER: Lot more ahead tonight, including breaking news, more fallout apparently from the Roger Stone case. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It's the worst thing we've ever seen a president do when it comes to the administration of justice domestically. It's not even debatable. You've had to look at something like Nixon. I listened to Dershowitz. I love those segments with you, Toobin, and him. I was very disappointed in that one. I'm disappointed in the professor's position.
I imagine if it were his client, and the President said the reverse instead of its too big a sentence, it's too soft, put him in jail for a longer. I wonder what Dershowitz would say then. I bet it would be a different argument and that's the problem here. Politics doesn't mix with the administration of justice. It's not debatable.
We're going to take on what the problem is. I have evidence of the same. We will lay out what happened here. The only question is what can be done about it. We have Senator Blumenthal here about what can be done by Congress and what can the Democrats do to win this election, because that's the only check on this President. Do they have someone for the job?
COOPER: Yes. Chris, we'll see you then, about six minutes from now. Appreciate it. See you in a few minutes.
On that front, there's breaking news straight ahead on yet more turmoil at the Justice Department.
COOPER: There's breaking news from CNN's Evan Perez tonight. People familiar with the situation say that more prosecutors at the U.S. Attorneys Office in the District of Columbia have discussed resigning in the coming days. Just the latest in a week since President's acquittal that has seen both Alexander Vindman and his twin brother fired. Ambassador Gordon Sondland fired as well.
The President attacking the Democratic senators and one lone Republican who voted to convict, the Roger Stone developments and the apparent retaliation against the former Justice Department official who oversaw that case.
CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House for us tonight. So you look at all of that. It's only been a week since the President's acquittal. I know you've been talking to people. Do you know what could be next?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as you mentioned our colleagues at the Justice Department, Anderson, are saying that there could be more resignations in the Justice Department in response to how the DOJ has been handling this Roger Stone case. I will tell you, though, if there are resignations, they may be in vain, Anderson.
I talked to a couple of Trump advisers this evening who fully expect the President to either commute the sentence of Roger Stone when that comes about or give him a full pardon. And so, those resignations could come along. Obviously, that is what our colleagues are hearing over at the Justice Department. But whether or not, it actually makes a difference in the end that it just may not come to pass.
I will tell you, Anderson, talking to one Trump adviser earlier this evening, this adviser was saying the President, he's been on this vindictive victory lap for about a week now, expect him to be more brazen in the coming days and weeks and months ahead according to this Trump adviser. He's really feeling unleashed by the verdict that was rendered by the Senate last week.
COOPER: Understandable why he would feel that way. I mean, no one in the Senate really on the Republican side, certainly, would stand up to him other than Mitt Romney.
ACOSTA: That's right. And that's why you saw the President's, you know, his mood was palpable in the Oval Office earlier today. You know, he was sitting in the Oval Office with the leader of Ecuador with a stack of Trump campaign hats right there next to him in the Oval Office.
And he was asked whether or not he had learned any lessons from this impeachment saga and he said the lesson that he learned was that it was the Democrats, in his words, who were crooked and that he should not have been impeached in the first place. Not exactly the lesson that a few Republicans, like Susan Collins of Maine, were hoping that the President would draw into from this experience. If anything, it sounds like we're going to see a more emboldened President Trump in the days to come, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House tonight. Jim, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CUOMO: All right, Anderson, thank you. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." The President attacked the rule of law like we have never seen. Forget the clever legal minds and devious debates. It is obvious what happened here. There's evidence that shows it and we have it, so let's get after it.