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State of the Union

Interview With Former New Orleans Mayor Interview Mitch Landrieu; Interview With Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci; Interview With National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow; President Trump Is "Open" To Visiting Moscow; Russian Military Intelligence Unsuccessfully Hacked Into Democratic Senator's Campaign; Does It Matter If Trump Approved Of Trump Tower Meeting?; President Trump's Version Of Reality In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 29, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Close combat, as the feud between the president and Michael Cohen heats up.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: He will lie like crazy, because he's lied all his life.

TAPPER: Will the president's former fixer flip? What secrets does he know? We will talk to Trump insider Anthony Scaramucci next.

Plus: boom and boast. President Trump touts positive economic numbers.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.

TAPPER: While continuing to push aggressive trade policies.

TRUMP: They stole our jobs and they plundered our wealth.

TAPPER: But could Trump's own policies undermine the economic uptick? White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow will be here in moments.

Healer in chief? As the Democratic Party shows signs of division, we will talk to a potential dark horse 2020 candidate with a history of bringing people together.

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: You elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

TAPPER: Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu next.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is seemingly on two different tracks. There are now 100 days until the midterm elections. And President

Trump is dealing with two very different realities, positive economic news and also scandal and controversy, including a messy public war with his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

The feud between the president and his former fixer is heating up. Late Saturday night, one of the president's current attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, argued in an interview that the tape Cohen secretly recorded of the president discussing a hush payment to a former Playboy model was -- quote -- "tampered with."

He told CNN the president's team has sent the recording to several forensic experts. A source close to Cohen fired back, mocking Giuliani and telling me -- quote -- "Obviously, it's a lie."


This after CNN's explosive reporting that, according to sources, Cohen claims President Trump knew and approved of the now infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Joining me now is someone who knows Trump world well and has spoken recently with both President Trump and with Michael Cohen, the former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. He joins us from Israel.

Anthony, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

I want to start with Michael Cohen.

You said in April that Cohen was a -- quote -- "3:00 a.m. break-the- glass phone call" and that -- quote -- "If I had a problem, someone broke into the house or drunk driving, he would be there in a minute" -- unquote.

Now the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani is out there calling Michael Cohen a liar. Do you think Michael Cohen is a liar?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, listen, there's certainly been a breach in the relationship.

And so, when I said that, I meant that, because I -- I had known Michael for 10 years, known the president for a very long time. And my -- my guess was is that they were very loyal to each other.

When your house gets raided and your apartment and hotel room gets raided and you get jarred by the FBI, maybe that has changed now.

The leaking of the tape -- and I listened -- I listened to the tape. I think what the president's trying to make the point and Mayor Giuliani is making the point that it seems like the tape was cut off, that there was more dialogue going there. And I think maybe the president thinks that it was favorable dialogue related to him.

But, look, at the end of the day, you're -- you're in the biggest aquarium in the world. The White House is literally like a fishbowl, and everybody's microanalyzing every single thing that's happened to you in your life, which is one of the main reasons why people, Jake, don't run for office, because they don't like every single thing that they have done in their lives...



So -- so, here we are now. My -- my guess is, is that this a rift that will continue. I'm not exactly sure what the criminality is here. To me, it doesn't look like it's criminal, when I step back and look at it and try to look at it objectively.

And I think the president's probably very frustrated because he's got a great economic plan going. He's got great things going on, whether it's in North Korea or the potentiality for a deal with the E.U. now.

And so this is one of those side-tracking things, and I think it has to be very frustrating.

TAPPER: I could certainly understand that.

You told CNN earlier this month you thought Michael Cohen would remain loyal to the president. That was after, of course, the raid on his office and his home and his hotel room.

What do you think happened to change Michael Cohen's calculus?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, what I also -- what I also did say, though, is that the isolation strategy of Michael Cohen -- I have said that a couple of times publicly -- is probably not the best strategy either.

Now, I'm not on the president's legal team, so I don't know what they're legally allowed to do and not allowed to do. And I'm not exactly sure what Michael is being targeted for. The president's indicating in a tweet yesterday that it might be related to the medallions and the taxicab licenses that Michael had.


So, to me -- it's not clear to me what is absolutely going on. I think -- and Michael would probably say that he didn't leak the last piece related to the Russian meeting. So I'm not really exactly sure where that came from.

But I don't like the crossfire. When you -- you and I have friends that go back a long time, and you see friends get in a disagreement, you say to yourself, geez, I wish these guys could put down their arms, recognize the longevity of their relationship, and stop the backbiting and the infighting.


SCARAMUCCI: And -- and, lastly, doing it on national TV, you know, so my -- my message to Michael -- and I have, frankly, said this -- it's not -- it's not the appropriate venue to be doing this.

So, let's see if we can calm things down. The president is obviously doing a great job as president. These things happened before he was president.


SCARAMUCCI: And, listen, it's -- it's a complicated world we live in, Jake.

What I'm hoping is, the Trump agenda on the scales of all these things, the Trump agenda and all the good things that are happening in the economy will outweigh all of this sort of stuff that's going on right now.

TAPPER: But, Anthony, as somebody who knows both of them, you have Michael Cohen, according to sources, claiming that President Trump knew ahead of time about that Trump Tower meeting with Russians. You have President Trump denying it repeatedly publicly.

Who do you believe?

SCARAMUCCI: It's a good question.

I mean, listen, I -- I -- it's not clear to me Michael leaked that. And so I'm going to -- I'm going to stay on the side of the president here. I'm going to take the president at his word that he didn't know.

I was in the campaign during that period of time. It was a major flurry of activity. You have to go back, Jake, back to June of 2016, where one of the things that the campaign was worried about -- and this something is Paul Manafort, frankly, was working on -- is to make sure that the president's electoral success state by state was going to be matched at the convention floor, where we were counting delegates and we wanted to make sure there wasn't some kind of insurrection.

And so there was a massive amount of activity around that, very, very little activity away from that. And so -- and you also have to remember we were understaffed on that campaign. We were underfunded relative to Secretary Clinton's campaign as well.

And so -- so, to me, it's very possible, and I take it -- I take the president at his word...


SCARAMUCCI: ... that he did not know about the meeting.

TAPPER: But knowing you know what about President Trump and how he runs things, do you -- you really find it credible that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort would have had this meeting where they were going to get all this dirt, allegedly, on Hillary Clinton for him to use against her, and they wouldn't have told them about it?

That -- that sounds credible to you?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think, could he have known after the fact? I think that's possible.

But I think what Donald Trump Jr. said last year, that the meeting was about 20 minutes, they thought they were going in for -- for one thing, it turned out to be a completely other thing, and then they shortly dismissed the meeting.

And so -- so, yes, I do think it's possible. And I think that, if you check sources inside the White House and you check sources inside that campaign, the level of freneticism, it is very possible.

Also, you have to remember the president is an entrepreneur. And so one of the things that entrepreneurs do very well is they delegate to other people, and they create a lot of autonomy around them.

And so one of the reasons why that campaign was so successful is that the president said, OK, Paul has a job, Jared has a job, everybody was in different positions, and he's a guy that would delegate to people, the way good entrepreneurs do.

So, yes, I do think that that's possible. I understand the pushback, why people think it isn't possible. But you have to understand, it was one meeting, and Donald J. Trump Jr. said it was a meeting that was 20 minutes' long.

TAPPER: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: And so, when you think about the totality of what was going on in the campaign, we're looking at it now with a microscope and the way we magnify and destroy ants.


SCARAMUCCI: But, back then, it wasn't that big of a deal.

And so I take them at their word on that as well.

TAPPER: Anthony, you were the White House communications director for a few days. And I know you wanted to improve relationships between the press and the White House.

So, I do want to ask you about this, because, this week, the White House barred Kaitlan Collins, a CNN reporter, an excellent report of ours, from attending an event, even though she was the pool for TV, after she asked -- quote -- "inappropriate questions" during the president's pool spray when he was meeting with the head of the European Commission.

Of course, her questions were entirely legitimate.

As somebody who wanted to improve relations between the White House and the press, what do you think? What's your take? Are you OK with the way the White House handled this? SCARAMUCCI: Well -- well, what I would do -- I actually think -- you

know, listen, I think probably that probably -- I mean, I don't know this for a fact, but that probably came from the president.


He likes to be respected. He was probably frustrated at that moment.

But what I would do in a situation like that is, I would pull a tape of questions that Sam Donaldson screamed at Ronald Reagan, and go right through the last 30 years of pool reporters asking questions that presidents probably think are obnoxious or untoward or disrespectful questions, and just point out that she was doing her job.

And so I understand that she was put in the penalty box. I would certainly recommend to my former colleagues there that you take her out of the penalty box, because I have said this consistently, and I will continue to say this to anybody that listens.

Having a war declaration or having that level of antagonism with the press does not help the president, does not serve his interests going into the midterms or the reelection.

I understand the frustration. I understand the president's personality, where he likes to punch back and he likes to be combative. But what I think that also does -- and, Jake, you will probably agree with me on this -- it galvanizes the press vis-a-vis the White House.

You know, I was watching one of the press conferences where I think it was a gentleman from Politico yielded to the woman from NBC.

TAPPER: Right. Yes.

SCARAMUCCI: And so what you're doing is, you're starting to galvanize people against the White House.

And it's a -- it's a collective, which I think is not in the best interest of the president.


SCARAMUCCI: So, one, I don't like that decision.

Number two, it probably came from the president himself. And so you sort of can't -- you know, when you're getting told by the president to do A, B and C, and you're sitting there saying, well, it may not be the best idea, I'm sure these people have strong enough personalities where they would tell him, look, it's not the best idea. But he probably wanted them to do it anyway.


SCARAMUCCI: And -- but I -- but I disagree with it. And I'm happy to talk about it. I'm happy to explain why. TAPPER: Yes.

SCARAMUCCI: I think the best people around the president will always give him constructive coaching. It's not criticism.

It's just, look, this is not in your best interest. Long term, removing Kaitlan from the pool or putting her in the penalty box, all -- you're not getting the exact desired outcome. What is the desired outcome? I guess that people don't ask you those questions. Well, guess what? The First Amendment gives these reporters the right to do that.

And, by the way, your predecessors, many of which you respected, take a look at a tape.


SCARAMUCCI: This is what all these reporters have been doing for 30 or 40 years.

TAPPER: Anthony, thanks so...

SCARAMUCCI: So, I disagree with it.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

For the record, the reporter that yielded the floor was from "The Hill."

But we appreciate it. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you so much.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, from "The Hill," OK, yes.

But you get the point I made.

TAPPER: I get the point, absolutely.

Hot off the -- that hot second-quarter growth number, the president says best is yet to come. What makes him so sure?

The top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, is here live in just a moment.

And a dark horse 2020 Democrat is here to talk about the risks and rewards facing the Democratic Party. Mitch Landrieu ahead.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump isn't known for his humility, particularly. And, this week, he had some very real bragging rights. By any

measure, 4.1 percent growth in the GDP is a strong number. When President Trump promised to hit 4 percent back in 2016, some economists called that crazy.

In the Rose Garden for an "I told you so" victory lap Thursday, President Trump said the boom is just beginning.


TRUMP: I think the most important thing -- and Larry Kudlow just confirmed to me, along with Kevin Hassett, that these numbers are very, very sustainable. This isn't a one-time shot.


TAPPER: And the top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, joins me now.

Larry, first of all, thanks so much.


TAPPER: After you were last here, you had some health problems, but you're -- you're out of the woods. You're all good now. And we're glad to see you.

KUDLOW: Never better.

To quote my favorite author -- or one of them, anyway -- was that reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.


TAPPER: Well, we're glad for that. We're glad for that.

KUDLOW: Thank you, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Larry, there's no arguing that the economic growth rate, 4.1 percent, is a positive for the country.

And you have said that you agree with the president that this is sustainable. There are some economists who are skeptical.

And I just want to read some of what they had to say.

The chief economist at Moody's said: "The growth we're seeing is not sustainable and will come close to stalling out by 2020."

The chief economist at Morgan Stanley said that this is -- the growth is a result of doomsday prepping.

In "The New York Times," she said -- quote -- "Global companies are stockpiling raw materials, intermediate goods and finished goods before tariffs take effect and raise the prices of those goods. Once the bite of tariffs hits demand, companies will no longer need to build inventories, and this boost to economic growth could end."

Why are you so confident it is sustainable?

KUDLOW: Well, there's just a lot of good things going on. I appreciate that my profession may disagree. They often do.

But, look, policies matter a lot, Jake. And I think the president deserves a victory lap. Low tax rates, rolling back regulations, opening up energy, for example, trade reform, which I think is already paying off with respect to the E.U. agreement we did last week -- the fundamentals of the economy look really good.

You know, just parsing through some of these numbers, the 4.1 percent quarter, inventory is very low, cap goods booming, business investment spending really booming. That's a productivity creator. That's a job creator. That's a wage creator for ordinary Main Street folks, terribly important.

In fact, the saving rate was revised higher by $500 billion. That gives consumers plenty of ammunition.

And, as I say, as Mr. Trump has made it very clear that he intends to reward success, he's not trashing businesses. He wants people to just take a rip at the ball. You're seeing the results of these new policies now.

We have got five Trump quarters, just under 3 percent, 2.9 percent. This was 4.1. The first half was 3.1. I don't see any reason why we can't run this for several quarters. Again, in technical terms, rock bottom inventories and a capital goods investment boom from business, those are very strong factors.

TAPPER: I want to get to both trade and the E.U. deal that you talked about.

But, before I do, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, this week, the Office of Management and Budget just came out with a projection that the -- projection that the budget deficit will reach $1 trillion in 2019. That's $101 billion more than had been previously projected.


Republicans control the White House, the House, the Senate. Is President Trump ever going to try to reduce the deficit?

KUDLOW: Yes. Yes, of course.

Look, the effects of this economic growth boom are going to be a major, important factor to this, very important.


TAPPER: Right now, it's raising the deficit, though.

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: Right now, the tax cuts are raising the deficits.

KUDLOW: Sometimes, in the short run, you know, in order to invest in the economy, lower tax rates do yield lower revenues.

I reckon it will take us a year, maybe 18 months to start turning that around. It's not unusual. I look at it as a good investment in America's future prosperity and healthy economy.

TAPPER: So, ultimately, you think it will be deficit-neutral, if not reducing the deficit?

KUDLOW: Some of the numbers I have seen -- heaven forbid, even the CBO, they're suggesting we have already paid for two-thirds of the corporate tax cut.

I think that, by the end of this fiscal year, that -- I'm sorry -- fiscal year '19, the corporate tax cut will be paid for. By 2020, it will be more than paid for.

And, of course, we inherited a tough deficit situation. Any time you have slow growth -- I mean, the prior administration had a very slow growth period, OK? That really damages the budget deficit.

TAPPER: They were coming off the Great Recession of 2008.

KUDLOW: And, by the way, I give them that.


KUDLOW: Always have, but -- but not eight years.

I mean, that was the problem. They never got the snap-back we should have gotten. I don't want to waste our time right on...


TAPPER: Right.

KUDLOW: ... policies. You got a new sheriff in town with -- with more incentives to invest.


TAPPER: Let's talk about the sheriff and his new -- and his plans.

KUDLOW: I do want to say...


KUDLOW: ... for Mick Mulvaney, our budget director, and President Trump, we are going to be tougher and tougher on spending, OK, tougher and tougher on spending. That's part of the deficit calculation, as you well know.

So... TAPPER: Well...

KUDLOW: ... I believe a combination of faster economic growth over the next bunch of years, Jake, as well as much tougher on spending will still get that deficit down...


TAPPER: Let's talk about -- let's talk about trade.

Before you became the president's economic adviser, you wrote in an essay -- quote -- "Tariff hikes are really tax hikes."

The president this week tweeted in part -- quote -- "Tariffs are the greatest."


TAPPER: As a philosophical discussion, are tariffs great?

KUDLOW: You know, if they're targeted for good purpose, as per China, I think the answer is absolutely yes. That's always been my view. Most free traders agree. China has not played by the rules, and the trading system is broken, largely because of them.

Now, I hope we get to our E.U. trade deal.

Let me say this. The president has adopted a view with which I completely agree. He's a free trader. And he wants to have no tariffs.

TAPPER: No tariffs at all.

KUDLOW: And no -- no non-tariff barriers and no subsidies.

Now, that's a goal, but I think that was part of our E.U. discussion. That's his view in general. That is also my view.

So, I think he's gaining -- this is a tough, hard thing to do. You know, people say, well, President Trump's tariffs are damaging this, that and the other thing. I say, don't blame President Trump. He inherited a completely broken world trading system, including a World Trade organization, most particularly China, but not only China.

OK? He's trying to fix it. Other U.S. presidents in both political parties, Dems and Republicans, even-handed...

TAPPER: Right.

KUDLOW: ... have never pushed the way he's pushing.

And he believes -- and I agree -- if we can work these things out and improve the trading system, it will be to the benefit of the United States economy, our exports, our farmers, our industry, and, by the way, will probably help the rest of the world too.

So you just got to him a chance to get this policy in place.

TAPPER: And it seems as though people like farmers are giving him a chance, although they say, we want trade, not aid, the $12 billion that is projected.

KUDLOW: And I agree. And I totally -- I fully agree.

TAPPER: They don't want that. They want open markets, so they can sell their goods.

KUDLOW: Yes. And so does POTUS on this. He absolutely wants to open markets.

As I said, China, the worst offender. Point here, the deal we made with the European Union this past week is very important to get us on this road.

TAPPER: Let me talk about that specific...

KUDLOW: And Mexico is coming.

TAPPER: Let me talk about the E.U., because there is this deal in paper -- on paper to agree.

Critics say that all that President Trump accomplished with this deal were to get things that were already on the table -- as you know, during the Obama administration, including negotiations on the -- with something called the -- our viewers might not have heard of -- the TTIP, which is basically a potential trade deal with the European Union.

Take a look what the president of the National Foreign Trade Council said -- quote -- "Most of this deal" -- the stuff that you worked on with President Trump with the E.U. this week -- "Most of the deal is stuff we were already on the verge of agreeing on in the TTIP negotiations, before that deal got deep-sixed after Trump's election."

Your comment?

KUDLOW: Well, I -- I -- I'm not sure about that. I don't want to get hung up on that, the Atlantic trading deal. There are a lot of issues with that. I don't even want to go back there.


Look, E.U. President Juncker, President Trump got together, surprised probably almost everybody in the world, and basically came to agreement on a number of key items.

I mean, lookit, if the deal works through nicely -- and it's going to be several stages -- I don't think there will be steel tariffs for the European Union. I don't think there will be automobile tariffs. I don't want to get ahead of it. But the president indicates...

TAPPER: That's not in the deal right now, though, but you're saying long term? KUDLOW: It was discussed.

TAPPER: Discussed.

KUDLOW: And, actually, there was a line in this carefully crafted final statement that suggests that would be the case.

The Europeans came, by the way, right at the top with an offer to purchase tons and tons of American soybeans. They don't have tariffs on them. They just said, we will buy them from you.

This is a contentious issue because of China's soybean tariffs. And that's -- to the point you made earlier, our farmers would prefer trade, not aid. But they have been stuck. I think soybean prices have already started to firm up in the commodity markets.

They want a big LNG deal, liquefied natural gas, want very much. The E.U. does not want to have to do business with Russia. They'd rather do business with the USA. In fact, they suggested to us that they would find ways and means to have us build or help them build pipelines for LNG.

So these are all major steps forward. I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say it replicates anything, because things have been a little bumpy.

TAPPER: Right.

KUDLOW: Now, all of a sudden, we're on the same -- on the right path. I like that very much.

TAPPER: Stay healthy.


TAPPER: We would like you back on the show sometime soon.

KUDLOW: Thank you, Jake. Appreciate it. You have been great. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: And your family and your friends love you and were worried about you.

KUDLOW: Thanks. Thanks.

TAPPER: Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

KUDLOW: Thanks.

TAPPER: Will the Democrats' lurch left knock them off-track for 2020? A potential Democratic dark horse weighs in next.

And Russians have already tried to interfere in one key Senate race in Missouri. Could the U.S. power grid be next?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

There will assuredly be no shortage of Democrats looking to take on President Trump in 2020.

And one of the names frequently discussed among party insiders is Mitch Landrieu. The former two-term New Orleans mayor raised his profile last year in his decision to remove the last of New Orleans' Confederate monuments.

Joining us now to discuss much in the news, Mitch Landrieu.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much.

He's also the author of "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History."

Thanks so much for being here.

LANDRIEU: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: We really appreciate it.

So, the most famous political saying from the most famous political operative out of your home state of Louisiana, James Carville, it's the economy, stupid.

Right now, the economy looks pretty good. The GDP growth is 4.1 percent for the second quarter, fastest pace in almost four years, unemployment at an 18-year low or near an 18-year low, the economy booming.


TAPPER: Why should Democrats -- I mean, why should voters look to Democrats?

LANDRIEU: It's a good number, no matter how you cut it. Of course, we have had 93 months of economic growth since the Great Recession. And, of course, President Obama had 4.1 percent growth four times during his administration.

So there's no -- no way you can cut this in a bad way. It's a good thing.

I think the long-term question is, is, are wages growing? Are the right people getting the jobs? Are the right people getting the resources? Is there job training? Is America healing and moving together? Is it moving in a different direction?

The other thing of course, too, is, you just had Larry Kudlow on, who said, trust me, it's going to sustain itself over time. Likely, the next quarter is going to be lower. We all hope it's going to be higher.

And then, on top of that, of course, the elephant in the room is the trade war, whether or not the actions that are now being taken by the president are going to undermine the great work that everybody has done in the last couple of years.

And, of course, all you have to do is listen to the farmers, who, although some of them are still sticking with the president, are sending the messages, you're hurting me.

And, of course, the greatest indication that the tariffs are hurting is that they have had to now put $12 billion in place to help sustain it while the pain takes course.

And, of course, in Louisiana, we have a $6 billion export economy that's going to be hurt as well. So you hope that the trade war doesn't really impact the economic growth that we're seeing today.

TAPPER: Let's turn to some of the policy differences in -- within the Democratic Party.

Last month, I asked one of the most prominent possible 2020 candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders, if ICE, the immigration organization, should be abolished.

Here's what Senator Sanders had to say:


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think what we need is to create policies which deal with immigration in a rational way. And a rational way is not locking children up in detention centers or separating them from their mothers.


TAPPER: So, he refrained from saying ICE should be abolished.

But, seven days later, after fellow possible 2020 candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, others called on ICE to be abolished and replaced, Senator Sanders came out on Twitter and said he now wants ICE to be abolished too. You have said you don't want ICE to be abolished, even though you think there need to be reforms on immigration.

Are you concerned at all about your party, as critics say, lurching to the left?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I don't speak for the national Democratic Party. As you know, I was the mayor of the city of New Orleans.

So, having said that, I have always talked about governing from the middle. I'm what they call a radical centrist. There are not many of us left anymore. And, yes, it is really important for us to make sure that, if we are

given the responsibility to govern, that we govern in a pragmatic way, in a big tent way that makes sense.


I don't think abolishing ICE is a good idea, primarily because, when police departments get out of the way, do the wrong thing or are governed in the wrong way, you don't say, get rid of the police department. You reform the police department.

We are, in fact, a nation of immigrants. We know that. We're also a nation of laws. And I do think that Congress has been remiss in not passing comprehensive immigration reform. But it does have to be commonsense. It has to be thoughtful. It has to protect the border, while at the same time making sure that everybody is dealt with in a constitutional way.


LANDRIEU: I do -- I do -- I do believe...


LANDRIEU: ... very clearly that separating families from children was -- was not a smart thing. It was a cruel thing. That really is not who we are. And there's a much better way to do that.

TAPPER: As a centrist, as somebody who believes in governing from the center, are you concerned to see the Democratic Party, which you and your family have been proud members of for generations, going to the left on a lot of these issues?

LANDRIEU: Well, I think that what you will see -- you will see this with the Republicans and the Democrats. It happens every election cycle.

The party themselves will get tested from the left, the middle and the right. Both parties are going to do that. And, of course, that's going to happen to the Democratic Party too.

It's clear that President Trump is going to be the nominee of the Republican Party. And you will see a family fight on the Democratic side. And you see the party getting pulled to the left. You will have people from the middle. You have people to the right of the party. And that's the way it's always going to be.

If the Democrats want to win, they are going to have to govern responsibly. They are going to have to govern with common sense. They are going to have to think about what people in America want, which is essentially to have a great opportunity and great responsibility and a better chance for themselves and for their kids.

TAPPER: A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 65 percent of Democratic voters believe that, if your party takes back the House in November, they should put impeachment of President Trump on the table. What do numbers like that say about where the Democratic Party will go if you do take back the House?

LANDRIEU: Correct.

Well, of course, right now, because the president's in office, the question is, do you like him or don't you like him? And he is the distinguishing factor between and amongst the people that say the nation is so divided.

I come from a different perspective. I don't think the nation is as divided as we think it is. If you're on the ground in America and on any day, people of different races, creeds, colors and religions are working together. And that's really what Americans most want.

This impeachment talk, in my opinion, is premature. I think you have to let these investigations follow their course. You think -- let the lawyers do their job. And when there is evidence of something that significant, then you take that step.

But impeachment in a democracy is always the last resort, not the first resort. And running towards that at this point in time, in my opinion, right now, based on what we know, is ill-advised.

TAPPER: It seems like all the energy in your party is with the progressive left. You saw the election -- or the primary victory, I should say, of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. Bernie Sanders is still drawing huge crowds.

Is there a market for a centrist Democrat like yourself when it comes to Democratic primary voters?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I'm not a candidate.

And I expect that there will other people that will occupy the right side of the Democratic Party and the center side -- the center part of the of the Democratic Party.

The bigger message for Democrats long term is to do what the Republicans are not doing, which is to be a big tent party, to make sure that everybody's got room, and that we hear all of these things.

There's a tremendous amount of energy. You don't want to quell that. You want to increase it. But you do want to forge it into something that's pragmatic, that's thoughtful, and that could actually deliver for most of the American public, because, as you know, not everybody in the country is a Democrat.

There's a part that are Democrats, there's a part that are independents, and there's a part that are Republicans. And the president of the United States has to govern for the entire country.

TAPPER: You say you're not a candidate. Nobody's a candidate right now.

LANDRIEU: Correct. TAPPER: A lot of the potential 2020 Democrats are descending on your

city for this big progressive conference. It's called Netroots. Deval Patrick will be there, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren.

You're not going to be there. Should your supporters, should people who want you to run take this as a sign that you're not going to get into the race at all?

LANDRIEU: No. No. Well, first of all, I don't intend to run. I have said that many, many times.

TAPPER: Nobody intends to run until they're running.

LANDRIEU: That's absolutely true. And when I decide to, I will let you know.

But, right now, I'm not planning to do that. What I am planning to do is to continue to talk and be a person that speaks about the direction that the country ought to go in, irrespective of whether I'm in the private sector or the public sector.

But, no, nobody should take the message. I wasn't invited. I didn't really know the conference was going to be there at the time. And that is what it is. But it's not a sign of anything plus or minus.

TAPPER: All right. Well, your book is great.

LANDRIEU: Well, thank you.

TAPPER: And congratulations on it. Thanks so much for being here.

LANDRIEU: It's good to see you.

TAPPER: I hope that we can have you back.

LANDRIEU: I will be back. Thank you.

TAPPER: Good to see you, Mr. Mayor.

It's a question some conservatives are starting to ask. Even if the president was working with Russia in 2016, so what? We'll tackle the next stage of the Russia spin cycle with our political round table in just a few moments.

Stay with us.




VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: We are ready for such meetings. We are ready to invite President Trump to Moscow to be my guest.

He has such an invitation. I have told him that. And I am ready to go to Washington.


TAPPER: President Trump says he is -- quote -- "open" to accepting Vladimir Putin's invitation to meet in Moscow. This as we learned this week that Russian military intelligence unsuccessfully tried to hack into the computer system of vulnerable Democratic senator Claire McCaskill and that they are also trying to get into the U.S. grid. My panel is with me now.

Congressman Swalwell, you sit on the House Intelligence Committee. What does it say to you that while Russia continues to attack the United States, whether Claire McCaskill or the U.S. grids, that President Trump is also to have this meeting, whether Putin coming to the White House or him going to Moscow?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Sends a green light to the Russians. They believe that the president is more aligned with them than he is with us. And if they believe that, they're going to keep doing that.

And right now you hear intelligence officials they don't have directives from this president to stop the interference campaign. So it's really now on Congress. If the executive isn't going to defend the country, then our congressional leaders need to unite and say that these elections belong to us, we're going to do all we can to protect the ballot box.


TAPPER: Where are the Republicans on this?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the one chance that they had to rebuke the president on something firm that came out was what we learned happened in Helsinki, when we learned that President Trump discussed the possibility of letting Americans be interrogated by Russian agents. Once we got word of that, the Senate has never moved so fast. They instituted a resolution that passed 98- 0 to say, no, we're not going to do that.

Part of the problem with this is is that no one really knows what the president's agenda is when it comes to Russia. And so when there's nothing firm to grasp onto, there's nothing firm to reject.

TAPPER: Let me turn the subject of on Russia, staying with Russia but on the question about whether or not there was any help that the Russians offered that was actually accepted by the Trump campaign which is a charge that the Trump campaign has always denied. And we haven't seen any evidence per se.

But already we started to see this week a change in the conversation where members of Congress and Trump friendly pundits are starting to say, even if they did do this, so what, it's no big deal. Take a look at California Republican congressman Darrell Issa who is retiring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: If he's proven to have not told the whole truth about the fact that campaigns look for dirt and if someone offers it, you listen to them, nobody is going to be surprised. There are some things in politics that you just take for granted.


TAPPER: Wouldn't you be surprised?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, let's put a pin in that and go back to a couple things that the congressman said. This administration has been pushing back on and fighting against interference -- the Russians interfering in our elections since the very get-go. Just because the president didn't stand up and announce it -- look, the CIA --


URBAN: The CIA -- because they're going to continue to act. That's their job, right?

SWALWELL: We defend --


URBAN: The bad guys are going to do bad things, right? And there are lots of bad people -- and the good guys on our side are stopping them, the NSA, CIA, FBI --

CARPENTER: And perhaps President Trump shouldn't be talking about doing a joint cyber security campaign with the Russians while they're hacking us. That's another bright line.

URBAN: Listen -- I mean, Amanda, why not? Why not try to stop them from the inside?

CARPENTER: Because they are inside. Because they --


URBAN: I don't not -- listen, I don't know what information you guys have that I don't have that tells you what the FBI counterintelligence folks are doing overseas or what the CIA is doing or the NSA is doing.


URBAN: But you guys must have a lot more intelligence.


TAPPER: Nina, let me bring you -- I'd like to bring you -- bring back to the topic about some Republican office holders and Trump friendly pundits changing the level now saying it's no big deal, so what if the Russians did help the Trump campaign. What do you make of that? NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Definitely a big deal. Had it been President Obama, you know, they would run -- be running around like their hair is on fire. So double standard. There is certainly a political double standard.

And all elected officials should care whether or not a foreign force, especially the Russians, tried to hack and continue to try to hack into our voter system and not just what the Russians are doing. What signal does it give to any other foreign power that if the United States of America, and I agree with the congressman, that Congress needs to step up and do something to protect the integrity of our elections both on the foreign side, cyber warfare and also on the domestic side. Since the Help America Vote Act, we really have not made requisite investments into securing our system.

URBAN: Listen, I agree -- listen, I agree. It is a big deal if they've done that.

It is a big deal. And you know what? Let's see -- let's see what the Mueller investigation proves.

TAPPER: If they offer information.

URBAN: I think -- listen, I think -- let's see what the Mueller -- but you know what we do know about the Mueller investigation?


URBAN: No, no. Wait. Hold on.

For folks nothing to do with collusion, nothing to do with the Russians.

TAPPER: Well, they were lying -- lying about -- lying about meetings with Russia.

URBAN: No, no. Hold on. No, no. Hold on -- hold on for a second.

TAPPER: That's why Putin --


TAPPER: -- guilty.

URBAN: The Mueller investigation, the first person to go to trial, Paul Manafort, the Mueller team, the government has said no evidence of collusion or anything to do with the Russians.

TAPPER: In that trial.


URBAN: -- trial. That's the first part. That's the first part.

So who -- who is the centerpiece of this grand piece of espionage? Carter Page? Papadopoulos? Who is the center? CARPENTER: Can we just boil this?


URBAN: I am. That's what I'm trying to do.

CARPENTER: - it comes to two questions. Did members of the Trump campaign knowingly solicit stolen information? Number one.


CARPENTER: And number two, was there any kind of an arrangement to set election help in exchange for --



TAPPER: Congressman, very quickly. Have you noticed your colleagues changing the bar now here in terms of saying, so what if there was?

SWALWELL: Yes. It's now -- well, we always get dirt on our opponents. And again we should never allow that to take place. Because if a foreign adversary is offering you dirt it's because they want something in return.

If you take it, you're compromised. That hurts us,

TAPPER: All right. Thanks everyone.

President Trump has never claimed to be a voracious reader but this week it sure sounded like he had taken a page out of a famous novel, at least according to the president's critics and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back. Reality bites and this week President Trump gave everyone license to just ignore reality all together and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): It's 2018, but this week to a lot of the president's critics it started to sound a bit like 1984.

TRUMP: Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.

TAPPER: That might be a bit extreme, but what is actually taking place in President Trump's version of reality? I mean, we do know for one that there are televisions hooked up that only show one channel. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your approval rating is soaring.

TAPPER: In this dystopian or utopian future, the White House press corps would only have friendly faces.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You were very strong at the end of that press conference.

TAPPER: And no poll would ever drop below 100 percent approval.

TRUMP: He is the most powerful, most popular Republican in the history of the party.


TAPPER: In this alternate reality there would be a McDonald's on every corner and every day would be November 8th, 2016.

TRUMP: We won the Electoral College by a lot 306 to 223 I believe.

TAPPER: In this alternate reality, special counsel would have a whole new spelling and even special counsel Robert Mueller would agree with the president's conclusion.

TRUMP: A Russian hoax. It's a witch hunt

TAPPER: But that's not the world in which we live. Even the biggest reality TV star cannot totally escape reality.

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I care deeply about the rule of law.


TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

"FAREED ZAKARIA" continues next.