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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Intelligence Committee Unanimously Votes to Release Democrats Rebuttal of GOP Memo; Interview with Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois; Interview with Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York; NY Times: President Trump's Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry; ; Market Meltdown: Dow Plunges 1,175; Dow Suffers Worst Single-Day Point Fall in History; Pres. Trump's Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired February 5, 20189 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
At the end of a full and somewhat harrowing day, which included a record plunge on Wall Street and President Trump accusing Democratic lawmakers of being un-American and treasonous for not clapping during certain moments of the State of the Union Address, we begin tonight keeping them honest, with the president's claim of vindication in the Russia investigation.
Talking about the Nunes memo on Saturday, the president tweeted, quote, this memo totally vindicates Trump and probe, but the Russian witch hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion and there was no obstruction. The word now used because after one year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. This is an American disgrace.
Today in Cincinnati, the president continued to focus on the memo in a speech about tax cuts and the economy. He went off prompter at a point and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)]
2DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I'm talking -- oh, did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught 'em.
Hey, we caught 'em. It's so much fun. We're like the great sleuth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we should point out that earlier today, he lashed out at the House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Congressman Adam Schiff, or the president now calls him "Little Adam Schiff", and he also heaped praise on the committee's Republican Chairman, calling Devin Nunes, quote, a man of tremendous courage and grit who may someday be recognized as a great American hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure.
Now, putting that prediction by the president aside, let's just focus on the idea that the president is pushing that the Nunes memo somehow, quote, totally vindicates Trump.
Keeping him honest, whatever else you might think of the Nunes document, whether you believe as the FBI does that it contains, quote, material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy, one thing is plain just from reading it. The memo does not exonerate or vindicate anyone, let alone President Trump. It largely deals with applications for FISA surveillance court warrants targeting Carter Page, the one-time foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
The memo alleges deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that no warrant would have been sought without the Steele dossier information. Christopher Steele, as you know, was hired by Fusion GPS, which was initially hired to do opposition research on candidate Trump by a conservative media outlet, then was later hired by the DNC and lawyers for the Clinton campaign.
Now, the memo alleges that in neither the initial FISA filing nor three subsequent renewal applications was the Clinton connection disclosed even though according to the memo, this was known to senior FBI and Justice Department officials. Democrats say that the court was told there was some sort of political motivation behind the Fusion GPS information. Either way, legal experts have told us the dossier would likely not have been the sole basis for a warrant.
Carter Page after all had been on the FBI's counterintelligence radar for at least a year prior to all of this. And even if you believe everything the Nunes memo alleges about bias, even if you believe all of it, the Nunes memo itself actually undermines any notion that the Russia probe then followed from the FISA application which came in October of 2016.
The memo itself states that sometime months before in July, something in July sparked the probe. That's when the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation of George Papadopoulos. He's another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser you probably no who pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Russians and is now cooperating with special counsel Mueller. So, the FBI was looking at possible Trump campaign-Russia connections months before, asking for a warrant for Carter Page. And as we and others have been reporting, George Papadopoulos drunkenly boasting to an Australian diplomat about Russian contacts was hardly the sole factor in the probe's genesis.
And the Nunes memo does not speak to any of it, nor does it mention that this investigation has so far yielded guilty pleas not just from Papadopoulos but also Michael Flynn, the president's former national security adviser. And the indictment of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, nor does the memo mention that former Mueller investigator Peter Strzok, whom it accuses of anti-Trump bias, also co-authored the first draft of the Comey letter reopening the Clinton e-mail case just 11 days before the election.
So, if Peter Strzok's behavior showed bias and colleagues say it did not, you could argue he was biased against both candidates.
But keeping him honest, however you choose to read the Nunes memo, you ought to know how one of Hillary Clinton's harshest critics in Congress, a Republican, reads it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an e-mail sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn't have anything to do with obstruction of justice. So, there's going to be a Russia probe even without a dossier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Congressman Gowdy is not alone among GOP lawmakers now pointing out that whatever else the Nunes memo either says or suggests, it does not say what the president says it does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:09] REP. MARK TURNER (R), OHIO: No, the memo isn't about the special counsel's investigation. It's not about Trump.
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: I support the Mueller investigation. Now, I hope that he does it fairly and honestly. Of course, we would always expect that.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: It would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that the special counsel shouldn't complete his work. I support his work. I want him to finish it. I hope he finishes it as quickly as possible. This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, while President Trump is claiming without any evidence that he's somehow vindicated by the Nunes memo, he isn't. And if he was expecting Trey Gowdy and other Republican congressmen to back him up, apparently, that's one memo they did not get to see.
The breaking news tonight is that the House Intelligence Committee has unanimously voted to make public the Democratic memo rebutting GOP allegations that the FBI abused surveillance laws. Now, whether the Democrats' memo actually gets released, that is now in the president's hands.
CNN's Jim Acosta has late details from the White House. He joins us.
So, explain what happens now.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The memo is now in the president's hands. It's in the White House hands at this point, Anderson, and they have five days to act on it as they did last week. This is sort of the battle of the memos part two. The sequel may not be as good as the original, and it makes you wonder, Anderson, how the president would respond if a Democratic lawmaker were to shout out release the Schiff memo. My guess is after the president's comments today and his tweets about
Adam Schiff, that he would not say 100. We've been talking to our sources this evening. They're going to go through the same vetting process, they say, over here at the White House as they went through last week. They're going to have law enforcement and the intelligence community weighed in and make sure there aren't any practices and methods of the intelligence community or law enforcement community revealed in this Schiff memo.
But at this point, if you're going off of what the president was saying earlier today, that the Democrats and Congress were treasonous and un-American for not standing up and applauding him at the State of the Union and the fact that he was calling Adam Schiff little Adam Schiff, you might not want to hold out as much hope for the release of this memo as the one last week.
COOPER: So, Jim, the White House has not given any indication about whether or not they're going to release it. They're saying they're just going to go through the procedure that they went through for the Republican memo.
ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. We pressed them this evening on this. They are stopping short at this point of saying, yes, they're going to release the memo. They're just saying they're going to I think apply the same painstaking process is the phrase we heard earlier this evening we heard earlier this evening from one senior White House official to the Schiff memo as they did to the Nunes memo. But remember the president was saying that memo last week was going to be released 100 percent before he had even read it.
So, it's not altogether clear what kind of vetting they're going to put this memo through. But keep in mind as you were hearing those Republican lawmakers raise doubts about the strength of the Nunes memo on the Sunday talk shows over the weekend, I just talked to a senior congressional source from the Republican side earlier this evening, who was saying, listen, there was a lot of hype around this Nunes memo, and clearly, it did not meet the hype.
So, inside the Republican Party, there are serious doubts as to whether that Nunes memo really accomplished much of anything. And if you had the president earlier today saying, aha, we got them, we caught them red-handed with this Nunes memo, it's hard to imagine the president wanting to release the Schiff memo, which the Democrats believe really undercuts the Nunes memo -- Anderson.
COOPER: We'll see. Jim Acosta, thanks.
CNN's Manu Raju reports chairman Nunes had no comment after the vote saying, you know the rules, we don't talk about committee business. Interesting that Nunes would say that despite his two recent interviews on Fox News, one of which he did earlier today, hanging over all this, the question of whether Chairman Nunes or his staff in any way discussed committee business, in particular his memo, with the White House.
Now, last week, Democratic Committee member, Congressman Mike Quigley, confronted Chairman Nunes on it, and Nunes would not be pinned down. Apparently the same thing happened today in the debate over the Democratic memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I also want to say that my colleague, Mr. Quigley, again and repeatedly asked the chairman whether he or any of his staff had consulted with, coordinated, conceptualized this memo in combination with the White House. You know, after all, the chairman embarked on a similar effort to coordinate a campaign early on in the investigation. And once again Mr. Nunes refused to answer the questions.
At the very end of the hearing, he gave a very lawyerly written response -- or read a written response saying that the White House had not been involved in the actual drafting of the memo. But in terms of whether it was coordinated with the White House or they were consulted or strategized, the whole concept, he refused to answer those questions. And obviously, that's a very important question for our committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He's talking about Congressman Mike Quigley. Joining us is the congressman from Illinois.
Congressman, thanks for being with us.
Can you just tell us exactly what chairman Nunes said when you questioned him today?
[20:10:01] Because as I recall, last week, according to transcript, you said -- you asked Nunes if he had been in contact with the White House, he said he had not. Then you tried to follow up saying, had any staffers who actually wrote the memo been in contact or coordination, and he didn't answer.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. I tried to do the same thing. I mean, you don't want to give anybody an out because you don't ask the specific enough question. So, I tried to say members of the committee, himself, his staff, you know, and every possibility. I want to make sure I got it right, conceived, prepared, reviewed, coordinated, communicated with the White House about the memo.
And, again, I was the only member he wouldn't answer questions for. He answered another member's question, and he said, I'll answer your question because I like you. So, besides having my feelings hurt, he didn't answer the question.
And as my colleague Mr. Schiff said at the very end, he had a very lawyerly answer that only responded to one small aspect of that.
COOPER: Because it would seem to me a pretty easy question to answer.
QUIGLEY: Sure. Look, it's fairly obvious. They have been blocking for the White House for a long time. They have coordinated with him when it came to that first Nunes trip to the White House. If you witnessed what we have witnessed for almost a year now with the chairman refusing to sign subpoenas on key witnesses, going along with the gag order of the White House, it is a pattern of behavior that makes it extraordinarily difficult to do this.
It's tough enough. We're investigating a foreign adversary. You're not going to be able to subpoena a Russian oligarch. But we're also doing it as a minority against a White House which has several times, in my mind, obstructed this investigation.
COOPER: So --
QUIGLEY: So, for the independent investigator to block us too, it makes it very difficult.
COOPER: Do you believe the president is going to allow the Democrats' memo to be released?
QUIGLEY: I think when he is briefed on it -- because I can't imagine he's going to read ten pages of footnoted academic-type material -- he's not going to want to. I believe he'll get some pressure from his own party and maybe his own staff hopefully to do just that.
But I can't imagine he's going to go along with it. I think the best case scenario is he tries to seriously redact it.
COOPER: And if the president objects to releasing it, I mean, do House Intelligence Committee Democrats have other options or other ways of releasing it, I mean short of leaking?
QUIGLEY: Yes, no. We don't want to leak this. We don't want to be as bad as what we accused the Republicans of doing last week. And we respect the intel community and the Justice Department, the FBI that this is reckless and dangerous to release these materials.
We think releasing the first memo was a bad idea. The only thing worse than that is not being able to respond to it. So, frankly, you're seeing what we can do. We're talking straight to the American public.
COOPER: Some Republicans, though, have been critical of the Democrats' memo saying that, in fact, Adam Schiff really doesn't want the president to release it, that it's full of sources and methods that would be dangerous to release and would be impossible to release and that it's basically a ploy to I guess make the president look bad.
QUIGLEY: At this point in time, after the first memo is released, the second memo needs to be released to counter that fact. The fact of the matter is we spent a lot of time on this, and we hope the American public gets a chance to judge for themselves.
COOPER: Well, if the Democrats felt the Nunes memo was a partisan memo and was dangerous for national security, why is it OK, then, for Democrats to have their own memo? QUIGLEY: Yes, again, I think that the difference here is that there
were -- I'd like to think third-party active actors who reviewed it. As you referenced, the FBI and the justice department, and I think other legal scholars would agree with that as well. The fact is they have thrown something out there which not only attacks the soul of our relationship, the trust that we've had with the Justice Department and the intel community, it's also attacked their credibility.
Whatever it is they say. Look, I'm glad that Mr. Gowdy and others have said what they've said. The fact is, I don't know of any Republican who has said those things who's not about to retire from the House. Where are the profiles in courage of the member who are sticking around?
COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: We're going to get a lot more ahead tonight, that's Congressman Quigley.
Next, a Republican lawmaker's take on the now competing memos and the president's claim the GOP version vindicates him entirely.
Also, Maggie Haberman has a scoop she just published. The headline, Trump's lawyers want him to refuse an interview in Russia inquiry. Maggie is here. We'll talk to her about that as well, as the legal implications.
And later, today's record on Wall Street not a good kind of record. That roaring market the president talks so much about left a lot of people worried today. Details ahead.
COOPER: We're talking tonight about the two pieces of breaking news. One, Maggie Haberman's new reporting on the president's legal team advising him to refuse an interview with special counsel Mueller. Maggie is going to join us in a moment. Also, the House Intelligence Committee voting to release a Democratic counterpart to the Nunes memo, as well as President Trump's claim that the Nunes memo vindicates him on any Russia-related wrongdoing.
Before the break, you heard from Democrat Mike Quigley. Joining us now is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY), HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITEE: Hi, Anderson. Good to be with you.
COOPER: So, this morning, you tweeted, I want to read it out, saying friends don't let friends on the House Intel Committee compromise good sources and methods, Schiff deliberately and unnecessarily loaded up his memos with many sources that shouldn't be released and he knows it. This is a zero percent chance this isn't a deliberate to play games, meddle, and obstruct.
You also tweeted you have a problem with Congressman Schiff's memo coming out if it's changed. What evidence do you have that he deliberately constructed his memo in a way that it can't be released?
ZELDIN: Well, you can tell by the way he's been answering questions with regards to the memo. He is -- he has not revealed the fact that his memo was filled up with different sources and methods that have to be redacted. I think the responsible thing would be for the drafter of the memo to prepare the memo for release because it obviously includes a lot of different sources of and methods that shouldn't have been in there in the first place.
COOPER: But didn't -- I mean the committee, which has Republicans on it obviously in the majority, they unanimously voted to release the memo today.
[20:20:03] So, wouldn't the Republicans have voted it down if you were right? And also the White House says, look, it goes through a review process just like the Republican memo did, and you would think any sources and methods would be able to be redacted, no? 2
ZELDIN: Yes, I'm confident as this memo was going through the declassification process, that you will have to redact those sources and methods. And I'm glad you quoted that second tweet that I had sent out because it's an important point. I want the American public to have as much information as possible, and that includes getting the Schiff memo as well.
As that second tweet went on, I said if, you know, Congressman Schiff wants to change anything that he's basically making the same exact point, but without revealing certain sources and methods, I'm all for that. As it goes through this process of declassification, I'm confident that we can get this out to the public.
COOPER: Why do you think, though, the Republicans then unanimously voted on the committee to let it go forward. I mean, if -- you would think they would share your concerns about sources and methods.
ZELDIN: They do. They do. And as it's going through the declassification process over the next few days, I don't want to speak for them. But I know that I'm not alone in being highly confident that as this memo gets prepared for a public release, that it will include redactions. Again, and I'm not saying redacting, you know, points that Congressman Schiff would like to make. I am all for him --
ZELDIN: Exactly, make the same exact point, just removing sources and methods.
COOPER: Congressman Schiff says Chairman Nunes refused to answer questions about whether he or his staff coordinated his memo with the White House. That we did in Schiff's words, make it, quote, lawyerly statement that the White House wasn't involved in the drafting of the memo. It still leaves a lot of room for possible coordination in some ways with the White House.
If there was coordination, would you be comfortable with that, if it was with staffers, some sort of coordination?
ZELDIN: I'm not aware of there being any coordination. Everything I've come in contact with in all of my different conversations, all substantiate there wasn't any cooperation at all in both the staff for the House Intel Committee and Chairman Gowdy. Those are the people who actually read the underlying source material, and they are preparing of the document, I'm not aware of any cooperation.
COOPER: Why not just say so? Because this is the second time that Nunes has been asked, the white house has been asked and no one seems to give a straight answer, just saying absolutely no coordination on any level.
ZELDIN: Well, listen, I wasn't in the meeting tonight that took place. But Congressman Schiff, you could say, has been full of Schiff at some times. He said that the majority memo was going to include national security that couldn't be released. That wasn't true.
He said it was going to contain sources and methods. That's all public, now we can see that's not true. He said it was materially altered, and it turns out there was grammatical changes and the only changes beyond grammatical was requested by Congressman Schiff as well as a change requested by the FBI.
You know, there have been issues with regards to when Don Jr., for example, was testifying, Congressman Schiff walking out of the room and providing updates to the media even though it's a several-hour interview, and that wasn't supposed to happen.
So, Congressman Schiff keeps feeding all of these different talking points to the public. I was in the House Intel Committee this evening, but consistent with all the way he's been communicating his own talking points to the American public, I wouldn't be surprised if the way he put it isn't exactly what happened.
COOPER: Finally, Congressman, "The New York Times" is reporting tonight a story that just broke that the president has been advised by his lawyers to refuse to sit down for, as "The Times" characterizes it, a wide ranging interview with the special counsel. Would you support that course of action that if the president's lawyers say don't do it, that he shouldn't?
ZELDIN: Yes, I mean I'm not aware of any evidence whatsoever that there has been any collusion at all between President Trump and the Russians. Probably the biggest risk if he was talking to his own attorneys with regards to a meeting is just a trap. I mean, Michael Flynn didn't get in trouble for underlying activities that he was being asked about. It was the fact that, you know, when Peter Strzok and the others were asking him about it, he didn't tell the truth -- same thing with Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. COOPER: But that's not a trap. That's just lying.
ZELDIN: Well, no, and it's really important that, you know, if the president wants to give testimony, that, you know, you have to be very careful. Each question that's asked, you know, you can't shoot from the hip at all. You have to give the best answer you can possibly give with the information that you're aware of in order to avoid that from happening.
COOPER: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you're worried the president would lie or just misremember --
ZELDIN: No. I'm actually trying to answer as to why his legal counsel may not want him to give that testimony. But I don't know what is going on behind closed doors in their conversations.
ZELDIN: If the president wants to give his -- you know, give testimony or not, you know, that's really his decision with his attorneys. I would encourage, you know, the White House has provided tens of thousands of documents to the special counsel.
[20:25:02] Many in the administration have sat down for long depositions with the special counsel.
I'm someone who is advocating for the Mueller investigation to end, not prematurely but ending by allowing Mueller to complete his investigation thoroughly and effectively and not have this linger for years.
ZELDIN: Let's bring it to an effective and quick conclusion the right way.
COOPER: Although as "The Times" points out, if he doesn't sit down, it could very well go to courts which would make it go on longer. But Congressman Zeldin, I appreciate your time, as always. Thank you.
ZELDIN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: More now on this story from CNN political analyst and "The Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman. It follows some recent similar reporting from CNN's Gloria Borger and Pam Brown, adds new context to it. It deals with something the president less than two weeks ago appeared to welcome.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it actually.
REPORTER: You want to?
TRUMP: Here's the story, just so you understand. There's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever, and I'm looking forward to it.
REPORTER: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath?
TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath, absolutely.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now is Maggie Haberman. Former federal prosecutor as well, Anne Milgram is here. Also CNN political analyst and investigative reporter, Carl Bernstein, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Maggie, let's talk about the new reporting. You have I believe four sources.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
COOPER: What have you learned?
HABERMAN: There is a divide within the president's legal team. And when I say a divide, it's basically almost the entire universe of people advising Trump both among his lawyers and external advisers, others in the West Wing, versus Ty Cobb, who is a member of the White House counsel's office, who is part of the president's advisory circle. He has been very much about a strategy of being fully complaint with Robert Mueller.
Almost everybody else thing thinks the president going in for a freewheeling interview with Robert Mueller is an incredibly dangerous moment and I've been hearing -- and we've all been hearing concerns about this for a while. There were some --
COOPER: Given depositions he's given in the past.
HABERMAN: In depositions in the past, he's actually been pretty aware of where the line is, much more so of truth, much more so than in his public statements. He is sort of conscious of it.
But those were civil depositions in civil cases. This would be a very different set of circumstances and most people just think that he could end up there with, you know, a number of investigators for Robert Mueller who are looking to trap him with any type of inconsistency in his statement. I believe that's their perspective, that he won't know what else has been testified to, that he might not even be able to help himself because of his penchant for exaggerations and telling falsehoods and so forth.
And where this ends up remains to be seen. I mean, if he doesn't go ahead, it raises the prospect he gets subpoenaed. And then there' a legal battle over it, which would draw this out for quite some time.
COOPER: Which could go all the way to the Supreme Court. HABERMAN: It could, sure. It could. I mean, look, the Supreme Court
has ruled in two previous cases, I believe, although Jeffrey would know better than me. But one of them related to Nixon and documents, not to actual testimony.
So, this would be a different circumstance. Clinton showed that a president can be deposed in a civil case, but this is something very different.
COOPER: Jeff, how have they ruled?
TOOBIN: Well, the most relevant precedent probably is the Paula Jones case where the supreme court said Bill Clinton could not put off his deposition in the Paula Jones case until after he was president. I think that's a very good precedent for Mueller because the way courts look at criminal investigations, it's that they are more important than civil investigations.
So, if he couldn't -- if Bill Clinton couldn't put off a civil deposition, if Mueller hits the president with a grand jury subpoena to testify, I think the odds are that Mueller would win that case although it is not at all clear. This is untrod constitutional ground. The president is a unique figure under our Constitution, so it's not a slam dunk. But I think the odds would favor Mueller winning that case.
COOPER: And why wouldn't Mueller just automatically subpoena the president?
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, as a normal course in a criminal investigation, you would start by talking to someone's lawyers and saying, hey, come in. Let's have a conversation first.
COOPER: I mean, if the president refused, why wouldn't he just automatically --
MILGRAM: I suspect he would try to convince the lawyers that if he did not come in, he would issue a subpoena. So, before he actually even put the document in their hands, he would say, look, I'm going to put that document in your hands, again trying to be respectful to the person who is the subject of the investigation.
But then, yes, I expect that, you know, and it's important to remember that when we hear these conversations, it's as people are acting as though we know all the evidence and all the information. The only thing we know for sure is that we don't know everything that Bob Mueller knows. So, I would believe that if he's asking to interview the president, there's a reason he wants to interview the president, and he will push forward to get there. But I think he will go step by step.
COOPER: This is obviously a departure from what the president had said publicly although he did sort of couch it as a --
HABERMAN: Caveat, right?
COOPER: Right, he was caveat about his lawyer.
HABERMAN: Yes. I mean, look, he's big on bravado as we know. And so, it was not a surprise, he said this privately too for weeks. I'd love to go in there. He genuinely seems to believe in these private conversations that he can go in and talk his way out of almost anything.
But realistically, you heard him add that asterisk of, well, depending on what my lawyers say, but otherwise I'd be thrilled to go out there and speak to Robert Mueller. There had been this conversation that as best I can tell from anybody involved is a non-starter about having him answer written questions. That seems extremely unlikely.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Because of clearly just be written by his attorney?
HABERMAN: Yes, and it's an incredibly controlled setting. And as just -- I think not what Robert Mueller's office is looking.
COOPER: Carl, you've obviously covered President special counsel, the Supreme Court got involved, the Congress was always to act -- it didn't, you know, certainly it's not pretty. I wonder you what you make of this news to news tonight?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Maggie's got a first-rate story. And at the same time, and I'd like to ask Maggie this, what I am hearing from people in the White House, and more often than he talks about whether he testifies or not, Trump is going around the White House continuing to rage at Mueller, at Mueller's investigation, and that he is determined to make it go away whether it is by firing Mueller, getting Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself or even issuing pardons that he is a rage-aholic on this subject and then it can't be restrain. Is that what you're hearing Maggie as well simultaneously?
HABERMAN: To a degree mostly his rage tends to center around Sessions and then it extends on to other people then it goes to -- and that's why we have then Rosenstein. And then that's why we have Mueller. And all of this is non-sense and so forth and so on. That the determination to make it go away from the people I have been speaking with has been less explicit. But that doesn't mean that it's not present in his mind, its just that he has not been as vocal that according to my sources.
COOPER: Carl --
BERNSTEIN: I think it also gives us reason to think that he is disingenuous perhaps in saying how much he really wants to go -- go before --
HABERMAN: Depending on what his lawyers say.
BERNSTEIN: The primarily -- primarily he wants an end to this investigation. COOPER: That's right.
HABERMAN: That's true.
BERSNTEIN: On his terms and his base to support him.
COOPER: Which has Maggie points out in the article, it does not bring a quick end be refusing to testify, it could go to court all the way, Supreme Court.
We're going to have more this conversation on this breaking story. Also tonight how the White House is responding to the market meltdown today, the Dow plunging more than 1,100 points at one point the worst point decline ever.
[20:35:31] COOPER: More now in our breaking news. "New York Times" is reporting this evening that President Trump's lawyers wanting to refuse any interview request in the Russian investigation and that can setup a long court fight.
Back with Maggie Haberman who shares the by-line on the story. Also with us Jeff Toobin, Anne Milgram and Carl Bernstein. Maggie at what point -- I mean, does there have to be a formal decision by the President and his attorneys about whether or not he's going to testify?
HABERMAN: I'm not certain to that what the precise drop date is, but I think we're coming up on it pretty soon. I mean Miller has been pretty conscious of the fact that there are elections coming up that after certain point in this year everything is going to be viewed through a political lens not that it's exactly viewed in a nonpolitical right now. But he would rather have it done sooner rather than later and I think he is going to go through the opportunity to exhaust all possibilities for getting this interview to happen until he goes ahead and files the subpoena.
COOPER: And Carl it does. I mean if it continues on and on it does then start to impact the 2018 elections even more than it might already.
BERNSTEIN: That's certainly possible. But I think we need to look at the possibility that Trump is getting what he wants these days. And then he is making this investigation and particularly the argument surrounding the two memos into a partisan political football in the view of many Americans and especially in conveying that message to his base.
So that we now are setting up a kind of false equivalency about the dueling memos and as if this is the most important thing going on right now when in fact the real issue is the conduct of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. And that's getting lost in this and he is the beneficiary I think of both the press, members of Congress getting down in the weeds and fighting out every single little paragraph about how the FISA application came to be. That's exactly where he wants the issue to be.
COOPER: So, and Anne just in terms of what Mueller already knows and again, as you pointed out rightly, we have no idea we just know a little tiny tip of the iceberg. Has -- would people who have already been called in, would they be able to claim executive privilege in talking to Robert Mueller in conversations they have with the president and would the president himself then be able to claim that.
ANNE MILGRAM, ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW JERSEY: So before we even get to executive privilege remember that the one thing that president can invoke that any American can invoke is the Fifth Amendment. I don't expect that would happen here politically, but just remember that there is one way for him to avoid testifying which is to say, I'm going to take the Fifth Amendment which allows me not incriminate myself. So that's one thing to think about.
In terms of executive privilege, the issue here and the presidents have tried to invoke it before the issue this is a criminal case. And Donald Trump is an actual witness to potential crimes. If there's obstruction of justice being investigated, if his campaign is alleged to have colluded and the standard that the court have used, I believe it was United States President Nixon it's very different when you're an actual witness to a crime.
And that's the way that you can, there's nobody else that can provide the information that Donald Trump can provide in this case. And so courts I believe they would fierce the privilege on that and that would also truly be a legal battle as well. You know they could invoke that and they can go on the mat on that.
COOPER: The other disadvantage the president hasn't talking to Mueller is that -- I mean the president does not know what all the other people from the White House have been called in some from this inner circle have already told Mueller.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's true. But, you know, I have to say, you know, one of these terms that I've always objected to is perjury trap. Its like, oh, maybe they're setting a perjury trap for him.
You know what? This is simple way to avoid that problem, just tell the truth. The idea that it's some sort of trap to ask the president or anyone else questions about events that occurred in the world, it's absurd to suggest that there's something unfair about that as you have, you know, the -- you know, the president's defenders have been saying, oh, they're trying to trap him. They may have documents that he doesn't know about. Too bad.
Just tell the truth. It's not a crime to make a mistake. It's not a crime not to remember things. But if you lie, that's not a perjury trap. That's just lying.
COOPER: And so Maggie, when the President's attorneys argue that Mueller doesn't have standing to interview the President on these things that's something that ultimately would be decided by the court. HABERMAN: Right. And I think that it's a difficult case to make. I mean I'm not surprised that they're making it again, Jeffrey would know more than I do. But I think that it's not an argument that it seems likely to succeed.
I think that you are reaching the stage of this in terms of what Trump's lawyers are looking at which is essentially, playing for time for lack of a better way of putting it which is just, you know, kicking the can down the road and daring Mueller essentially to subpoena them and see what happens.
[20:40:11] And after that I don't think that they have a whole lot of legal argument to make. Again we are, as Jeffrey said, in other charted waters, but I can't see how they can make the argument.
COOPER: We're -- I want to continue this discussion. Stay with us. Much more on this discussion and breaking news, when we return.
COOPER: Question tonight, the new question, will he or won't he talk to the Mueller investigation. New reporting in the "New York Times" tonight, says the President's lawyers are telling him no.
Back with the panel. Carl, I mean we should mention that when President Nixon refuse to turnover tapes the Watergate special prosecute the Supreme Court rule against him. I guess the president would be rolling the dice that if it did go to Supreme Court they could rule on -- they could rule similarly again?
BERNSTEIN: And one would presume that they would and that he would have to testify in a criminal manner. And what we're seeing here is the willingness of Donald Trump to provoke a constitutional crisis to keep from having to reveal the real facts that Mueller is uncovering in this investigation. He does not want this to go forward.
And one way is to not testify and that indeed could provoke this constitutional crisis. Trump does not want a report on whether or not there was collusion. Whether or not there was an obstruction of justice. Whether or not indeed the President of the United States has sought to cover up and undermine all of this investigation, which he has from beginning to end. He doesn't want that report made.
And he's willing from everything we know, from those who talked to him regularly, he's willing to provoke a constitutional crisis and at that point, perhaps Republicans might finally have to say, you know, we may have to leave this president's side. We need to find out what happened with the Russians.
COOPER: Maggie base on your report. I mean is it possible that this is just another bargaining chipping. That this is --
COOPER: -- a tough stands publicly letting people know about so that they can kind of gain Mueller. HABERMAN: No. I mean, and this was not, you know, this was not some authorize leak number one. Then number two, I mean I think that everybody has been pretty consistent in their reporting across these organizations that there have been concerns about Trump appearing before Mueller. I do think that's some of this is posturing but I also think it is the added benefit of being what they actually think which is then it's a huge problem if the President goes and speaks to Mueller.
[20:45:09] One that it -- Just one second, one that also his White House advisers who are not his legal team share. Almost all of them think this is a really risky dangerous idea.
TOOBIN: But the more in transition he looks now, the better his negotiating posture is with Mueller. For example I mean one issue that is very much outstanding is if you have an interview, how long is it.
TOOBIN: And if, you know, he's saying, no, no, no interview at all and he winds up saying, well, I'll give you one hour, that looks like a bigger concession if you've --
TOOBIN: -- been saying no all along. A one hour interview Donald Trump could eat up an hour answering one question. So, I mean, I think there's a lot of negotiating going on here that, you know, I think Trump has a lot of cards and, you know, if it turns into one hour he could eat up that time on his own very easily and relatively little risk to himself.
COOPER: Do you agree Anne that he holds a lot of cards.
MILGRAM: I agree, absolutely that he will try to negotiate all of these pieces particularly I think timing piece. But for the prosecutors and the investigators they will want to methodically go through with the president every fact they have, every piece of information. And that will take even with a witness who doesn't take an hour that would take I think a considerable amount of time.
So I think the prosecutors will not agree to a time limit and that does set up this kind of conflict. So I think the President has some cards. I do think, you know, it is obviously not going to be something Bob Mueller wants to do the subpoena the sitting president.
COOPER: But why not? I think for people watching some. I mean why not -- why would he not want to subpoena of the president --
MILGRAM: Well, because --
COOPER: -- it because it looks baldly for him that he's forcing the President?
MILGRAM: No, I think the president -- but the president is an extraordinary constitutional figure. He's different than other people in a certain way. And I think Mueller what we're seeing now is he trying every way he can to get the president in the door short of issuing the subpoena. But I do think that Bob Mueller will issue the subpoena if he has to. I mean if you ask me, you know, if pushed comes to shadow (ph) I think it issue.
TOOBIN: And it's also in Mueller's interest to be able to say if this goes to court we tried everything. We offered every possible accommodation.
HABERMAN: That's right.
TOOBIN: And he was -- so both sides are doing a certain amount of posturing here for good reasons.
HABERMAN: That's right.
COOPER: All right. Thanks everybody. Maggie, again incredible reporting as well.
Up next, the stock market suffers a historic loss at one point in a very while day down more than 1,500 points. On the day President Trump travels to Ohio to talk about his successful economic record. More on that ahead.
[20:50:50] COOPER: As President Trump was speaking this afternoon in Ohio and talking about his administration's economic record, cable news networks cut away and quickly focused on the stock market, which was taking a huge dive while the president was speaking, plunging to its biggest point decline in history during a single trading day. And for a bit of context here are some of the remarks the president has made about the market since last summer.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stock market is at an all-time high.
Our stock market is at an all-time high.
You look at the stock market at an all-time high.
The stock market is at an all-time high.
The stock market is way up. We're just hitting a new high on the stock market again.
The stock market smashes one record high after another.
The stock market is setting records.
The stock market is shattering one record after another.
The stock market hit an all-time record high today. The stock market is way up again today, and we're setting a record literally all the time.
I told you the stock market is hitting one all-time record after another.
COOPER: With us now, Stephen Moore, Former Senior Economic Adviser to the Trump campaign, and Austan Goolsbee, a former economic adviser President Obama, he's now a professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
Stephen, as we just heard President Trump obviously takes full credit, boasting the economy's roaring under his presidency and talks about particularly the stock market, not just the actual economy. But on this day that we saw the largest single-day point drop in the market's history, he was silent aside from a kind of pro forma statement from the White House. Isn't that one of the dangers of linking yourself to the stock market?
STEPHEN MOORE, FMR SENIOR ECONOMIST ADVIDER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, it's not too surprising that Donald Trump has been talking up the stock market since it has risen like a meteor, you know, since he was elected. And, you know, you go back to the Dow was at 18,000. Now even with this big fall, and look there's no question, Anderson, we've seen, you know, 1,800 points off the Dow in the last two trading days.
So that's a big decline, but, you know, we were still way ahead of the game in terms of -- instead of $7 trillion created, now it's about $5 trillion. But I agree with your central premise. You know, presidents probably shouldn't be watching the stock market day by day and get too carried away with, you know, the financial situation because, you know, you live by the stock market, and you die by it.
But I will say this just to reassure your viewers. When you look at the kind of real economy, jobs, investment, earnings by company, it all looks really good, and the economy looks really hot. And that's why it's sort of surprising the stock market has gone through this big tumble.
COOPER: And Austan, what did you make of what you saw today and the president's relative silence on it?
AUSTA GOOLSBEE, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Well, look, the president was right all along. We set a new all-time record, only it was the biggest point drop in the history of the stock market. So the thing that you have to know and as you know, Anderson, the President is shameless about citing data, statistics, or anything.
In the Republican primary, he loved talking about his polling. Then when the polling started to show him at historic lows in terms of approval, you have never heard boo about that again except to describe it as fake news. 2We've seen the same thing talking about climate change. He'll say, well, if the climate is really changing, even if 2017 is the hottest year ever, why was the Super Bowl so cold in Minnesota? So, you know, you -- if you razz people because then you taunt them because the Patriots won the Super Bowl, then what do you think they're going to do when the Patriots lose the Super Bowl? The president is about to learn that message.
MOORE: One interesting thing about this decline and I know if Austan would agree with me, I know when we're trying to look at what triggered the sell off. And, you know, we got very good news on the job market on Friday. And then we had the Federal Reserve board of Atlanta saying that what they thought we can get to 5.5% growth in the first quarter which is gigantic growth, we haven't seen that along long, long time. And that sort of spooked the markets because, you know, Austan, it seems to me Wall Street doesn't want to pay raises for workers because we got a pretty good number on the wage increases for workers in the last jobs report. And, you know, I'm just flabbergasted about --
[20:55:03] MOORE: It's not bad --
GOOLSBEE: Well, Steve, I guess I would have two questions about that, Steve.
GOOLSBEE: The first is, if that's true, then why did we just give a $2 trillion tax cut to those same corporations on the grounds that they were supposed to be passing it on in the form of wages?
MOORE: But they are. They are passing it on.
GOOLSBEE: And, two, what you see here is this is the Trump move, which is try to claim credit when something is good. And then if it starts to go wrong, blame others. No, it was the Fed. It was somebody else. Corporate America doesn't want to give wages. What are we going to do?
Look, that Donald Trump should not have been getting up and saying that just as he shouldn't have been getting up saying that the unemployment rate -- the real unemployment rate was 50% and then a few days after he takes office, he says, wow look, now we have a record low unemployment rate. As I say, the President has proven shameless at citing statistics, and he's going to get bit by this. They're going to run footage of him saying, look at how the stock market is up that shows him a good president.
MOORE: Well, you're right about that.
GOOLSBEE: And now the stock market is down.
MOORE: Yes, except that, you know, that you look this is two or three days of bad stock market news. You know the stock market could -- I mean look I actually think that there's a lot of good buying opportunities right out there earn now right now because there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy.
GOOLSBEE: The stock market almost tripled under Barack Obama.
MOORE: OK. And it sounds like you're boasting about the stock market.
GOOLSBEE: It's interesting that none of the people now who are trying to trumpet Trump's stock performance were willing to say that when it was happening under Obama.
COOPER: Yes. Luckily that there, Stephen Moore, Austan Goolsbee. Gentlemen, appreciate it.
Coming up, more on the new reporting that President Trump's lawyers don't want him to answer questions from Robert Mueller, the story broke just about half an hour ago, the 45 minutes ago I should say. Questions in the Russian probe. That could lead to one big legal battle. Perhaps even go to the Supreme Court. More of the details ahead.