tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN July 20, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
any trouble, which he did not. he was a model prisoner, according to himself and others at the prison. but ultimately, they decided, look, he is going to be paroled. that will happen in october. >> also, the fact that he had somebody who was the victim of the robbery speak on his behalf. that doesn't happen every day. >> that's absolutely true. it was actually extraordinary. i think the most emotional testimony in this whole thing was his friend and the memorabilia dealer who had a gun to his head that o.j. simpson was telling i want my stuff back. he was the guy that came forward and said look, o.j. simpson made a mistake but i want him out. let's listen in. >> it's time for him to go home to his family, his friends. this is a good man. he made a mistake. and if he called me tomorrow and said bruce, i'm getting out,
will you pick me up? juice, i'll be here tomorrow for you. i mean that, brother. >> clearly, the two are still friends. o.j. simpson mentioned that as well. they talked, he apologized to him and apologized for having some of his stuff although he said he was not the person who took it from o.j. >> sara sidner, thanks very much. i want to bring the panel, jeffrey toobin, and mark geragos. jeff, going into this, did you expect him to be paroled? >> i did. my understanding of the nevada rules made it very likely that he was going to be paroled. and i also think it was the right decision. as much as i think that o.j. simpson should be serving life in prison for the murders of ron and nicole, he was acquitted. and i thought this sentence was excessive. i thought this whole las vegas case was basically payback and much as i would have liked to have seen him convicted in the
original case, that's not how i think the legal system should work. and nine years for that case i just thought was too much. >> and they look at whether you're a model prisoner or not. it certainly seems like he was. he also went into great detail about the courses he had taken and whether he followed through on the promises he made in the last one. >> yes. i have to disrespectfully disagree with jeff in i don't think this was a slam-dunk. i think it was a close call. o.j., yes. his risk factors were low. his age is a factor that is in his favor. the fact that he did participate in programs. but at the same time the severity of his crime was very high. and that made this a situation where the board had to consider all the factors. it means under the guidelines that it really could have gone either way in this case. and then once, with that in mind, o.j. opened his mouth, i think he was at real risk for getting parole denied in this case. >> you certainly covered this case. >> oh, yeah, two decades ago. you know, i saw the same o.j.
here that i did 20 years ago. he is manipulative. he shows no remorse for what he did. he is self-centered, self-about a doshed. he was talking on an open mike, joking, making cracks about trump. i think jeffrey used a very good word earlier today. he is delusional. and i'm already making bets that he is somehow going to get himself in trouble. and we're going to be talking about him again. >> gloria, i'm wondering how you saw today's hearing. >> we have over 2 million people in prison, our jails and prisons today. and this system is one in which there are parole hearings taking place every single day. this makes the news because it's o.j. simpson. we've got to figure out what kind of standard we're going to have. he might not be the nicest guy. and as we said before, he was acquitted of something, and people want payback for that. but what are we going to do? are we going to keep lock up everyone and keeping everyone indoors, in prisons? i think this is one of those
indicative examples of what are we going to do with our criminal justice system. rer we going to use it for social morality because we don't like somebody, we don't see him showing enough remorse, even though in nevada you don't have to have remorse as one of the principle issues in order for you to get out. what are we going to do here? he has been a subject that represents race, class. he represents the police department. his case represents all these things. and now it represents how the parole boards work. >> mark, to gloria's point, there does have to be some reward for inmates who serve their time well and don't, you know, get into violent acts or don't bring in contraband. and from all accounts, he served his time in a very exemplary fashion. >> look, i said before the hearing today that to my mind, based on his low risk assessment, based on the factors that this was a slam-dunk. he is 70 years old. he has been in for close to nine
years. he's got no violations whatsoever. and mind you, i've had parole hearings where somebody took nuts out of the commissary and got written up, and that was called a violation. you have to admire the fact that the parole commissioners did their job. and i don't think it was that close. it was a 4-0 vote. you know, they had two people in reserve to kind of be a tie breaker. they didn't have to go to that. he was offered two and a half years, originally. he never took the stand. so it is not something where a judge enhanced the sentence because he lied while he was on the stand which was usually what we call the trial penalty. he got tax, tip and service charge when he got sentenced to 9 to 33 years. it was i think harkening back to what jeff said it was a prosecution by proxy. >> i have to jump in. because jeff said that he was overpenalized. and now mark is saying that.
but respectfully, he was convicted of 11 felonies, some of which were class a felonies. the mandatory minimum in this case was going to be six years, no matter what. so this ends up being a reasonable sentence. i agree he may have been overcharged. but when it comes to the actual penalties imposed, i think they were reasonable. >> but when you look at the fact that the guys who had the guns got slaps on the wrist, probation, very little jail time. and o.j., who was penal ides just for knowing the others had a gun gets a minimum of nine years. that to me tells -- >> but he orchestrated the whole thing, jeffrey. i mean, it was his idea. he is the one that made sure they were packing heat. and he was the one going after his memorabilia. >> professor, do you believe that this was in terms of the legal system some sort of payback for the acquittal of the murder charge? >> i think it's understood it was payback for the acquittal. i mean, that's the underlying
theme here. whether or not as you know we looked at the video when people saw the verdict, and we had a whole discussion around the racial issue, why there are certain white viewers who are very disappointed, black viewers who were jumping up and down, because the criminal system is so skewed when it comes to race. he ended up being the poster boy for black injustice which of course within the black community, hint, hint, give you a private conversation, we still are going back and forth on what he actually represents to the black community. but, you know, we have to agree that there was this sense of finally, you know, justice was delayed. and now, you know, we're getting our justice in some way, shape or form. if he could have been in prison even longer. even the parole chairman said, parole board chairman said that all of these opposition letters came in. and why were they opposing his parole? not for this crime. not saying that he didn't serve enough time for this crime. but because of the acquittal in
the past. >> we got to take a quick break. we're going to continue this discussion. more on the echoes of the simpson murder trial and how they still resonate today. later fallout from the president's headline-making interview and warnings to the special counsel who is leading the russia investigation. fety f. i think i might burst... totally immersed weekenders. whatever kind of weekender you are, there's a hilton for you. book your weekend break direct with hilton.com and join the summer weekenders.
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i and my family will do everything in our power to bring about the kind of change that won't allow what happened today to ever happen to another family again. >> back now with the panel. jeff, you spent so much time on the trial and wrote great work on it. as you were watching this parole hearing, i mean, as you think back to that time 22 years ago what did you think? >> you know, i feel so contradictory about it. i believe with all my heart and all my brain that o.j. is guilty of the crimes, of the murders. i have absolutely no doubt about that. so -- but i always thought this las vegas case was just bogus at
some level. that it was trumped up. that it was over-charged and over-sentenced. and so i just felt torn about it, because i do believe that the legal system has to operate on a one case at a time rule. and we don't you know, use one case to punish someone for an unrelated other case. but you know i also think it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. and i didn't really shed any tears, the fact he spent too much time for this. >> mark, do you think this case in vegas was payback in some ways? >> i think clearly it was payback. i think that you've got a situation, like i say, when the prosecutor offers you two and a half years and then you end up getting convicted and you get sentenced to nine years. and you have a -- as you saw today, you have complaining witness/victims who have already made amends, it's clearly payback. jeff and i earlier in the day were kind of arguing and teasing each other, but in a strange way
the three things that you have seen, the criminal trial, the civil trial and now the parole hearing to my mind all three got the right result. the criminal trial was a standard beyond a reasonable doubt. he doesn't have to testify. and any time if you knew the criminal courts building back in the '90s and what was happening there and johnny cochran kind of in his zone, that was the right result when you got a detective who is caught basically committing perjury. civil trial with a lesser standard where o.j. simpson can be called as an adverse party to testify. i think the jury there got the right result. and today i think the parole commissioners got the right result. so i'm not as disappointed in the justice system as a lot of others and i'm famously one who believes that it's broken in a lot of instances, but i think in this case i think people have to understand what you're dealing with.
>> professor, one of the parole commissioners addressed the 1995 trial. i just want to play what they said. >> i would like you to know we receive hundreds of letters of support and opposition. and while we always encourage public input, the majority of the opposition letters are asking us to consider your 1995 acquittal and subsequent civil judgment, however, these items will not be considered in this case. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> that, i get, but if he said something in the parole hearing which is deem strabl -- demonstrably not true, is that something the parole commissioner could point out? >> i think it's something the parole commissioner could have pointed out and asked more what he meant by that. because he has a domestic violence offense as well. so for him to say this is i think contradictory, and i think she was within her right to ask him follow-up questions about that. she didn't do.
>> i thought they were unusually frozen, perhaps they were just freaked out by the attention. they didn't ask any follow-up questions. and why one of the parole commissioners felt obligated to wear a kansas city chiefs tie, an nfl team tie. i know o.j. didn't play for the chiefs. but still. there are lots of tie designs out there. i think he should have worn a different tie. >> he is obsessed with the tie, by way. talked about this all day. if he wore a buffalo bills tie, it would have been a different discussion. >> it would be even more bizarre. >> you know, you keep bringing up pay back. geragos even said well, we should have just gone by the law. but there were a number of things that took place in this trial that people thought were not fair. there was a large part of this country and the world thought it wasn't fair that he walked free
when there was so much evidence that he killed two innocent people. and a lot of people still feel that race trumped justice in this case because of mark fuhrman, because of those tape recordings that were made. >> professor, and than then we've got to go. >> in my book, race law in american society, 1607 to present, we talk about 5,000 black people murdered in this country. and this one case, this obsession of so much of white america. we have police shootings taking place all the time and we don't see the same level of obsession. i'd like to know when we're talking about race trumping justice, where is all of the outrage when race is trumping justice all around america? this gets me about this case, within the black community and within a person that studies and writes about racial history, i don't understand this obsession and maybe that is why there was the split. and maybe that is why we're still talking about it today. >> because it was the first, i mean, that televised trial changed our business. it created --
>> it -- >> it should have been changed a long time ago. >> it super-duper changed our business and it never returned to the same. >> it was unique on so many levels which is why people are so obsessed. >> a black man with money paid high class attorneys and got the results that klaus von bulow and many other whites had been getting without money for many, many centuries. that disturbs white america so much they will not let this man rest. i don't think this one case should be what symbolizes our criminal justice system. >> one of the things that is so interesting, i think for so many people they didn't see this case in context of what had come before it in los angeles with the police department and criminal justice system and african-americans in america. and maybe i think in the african american community they did see that context because many people there have been living it. >> well, and one reason i think
why last year the fx series and the espn documentary brought back so much attention was because it was in the immediate aftermath of ferguson and black lives matter. and just a reminder of how poisonous relationships have been between african-americans and the police for so long. and 20 years later when johnny cochran took advantage of that relationship, things alas, have not gotten a lot better. >> we got to get a break in. keir phillips' special report after o.j., the fuhrman tapes airs friday at 10:00 p.m. eastern. we're going to look forward that. when we come back, the white house and what the president trump spokesperson had to say today about whether firing special counsel robert mueller is even on the table. which saves hassle. which saves money. and they offer a single deductible. which means you only pay once
yeah, and i can watch thee bgame with directv now.? oh, sorry, most broadcast and sports channels aren't included. and you can only stream on two devices at once. this is fun, we're having fun. yeah, we are. no, you're not jimmy. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. xfinity gives you more to stream to more screens. breaking news in the russian investigation, specifically the president's outside legal team. cnn just learned its spokesman has resigned. so far he has yet to comment on his decision. i also want to read you from their reporting. this is from "the washington post" that we just got. many on our panel are just hearing for the first time. i just want to read you the opening of this report. some of president trump's
lawyers are exploring ways to limit or under-cut special counsel robert s. mueller iii's investigation basing it on allegations they say he is granting pardoning of people familiar with the effort. trump has advised his attorneys about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. a second person said trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers amongst themselves. the article goes on to say trump's legal team declined to comment on the issue, but one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority as well as the limits of mueller's investigation. quote, this is not in the context of i can't wait to pardon myself, a close adviser said. it guess on to say, with the russia investigation continuing to widen, trump's lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the appropriate of the special counsel's work. they're actively compiling a list of mueller's alleged
conflicts of interest which could serve as a way to stymie his work according to several of trump's legal advisers. conflict is one of the grounds that can be cited to remove. the president is irritated by the notion that mueller's probe could reach into his and his family's finances, advisers said. the article goes on. a quit kwik note on the spokesman. it's being reported in "the new york times" and "the washington post." we have yet to confirm that detail. but it's being reported in "the washington post" and "new york times." this is the end of a day that saw the president dealing with blowback from his review and his threat for special counsel robert mueller. jeff zeleny with us for more. first this red line and new idea from "the washington post" about the lawyers or president trump talking about or looking into or trying to explore possible pardons. >> anderson, it's so interesting. and it gives you a sense of how much detail and time and
attention the president and his team are spending on this, vis-a-vis the rest of their agenda. this has in many respects consumed a lot of his schedule, a lot of his time. and they are having these active conversations. we have heard it from speaking with officials who are familiar with this as well. but the red line is so interesting. because in the interview last evening, the president was asked if the family finances, if that's what robert mueller started looking into, would that cross a red line? and the president said it would. but the question is well then what. at the white house briefing, sarah huckabee sanders was asked repeatedly would the president seek to remove the special prosecutor if that red line 1 was indeed crossed. and finances became an issue. she said no, he would not. but said look, it's supposed to be on russian meddling. this whole investigation is on that. that would be outside the scope. but anderson, you're getting the sense this is beginning to be a
follow the money type of investigation here. and that is obviously worrisome to many inside the president's circle. >> jeff zeleny, i want to thank you. bring in our panel, jeff beg gal lab, and alice stewart. first of all, paul, what do you make of this "washington post" trump asked about his power to pardon aides, family members, even himself. one adviser declared this isn't a context of can't wait to pardon myself. >> they time it every night with your show, anderson. you don't look into pardoning an innocent person. if they have done nothing wrong. we're running out of benign explanations. >> but couldn't you make the argument, any president, donald trump has no experience in this, would just ask his legal advisers, you know, if it gets to that and what are my options? >> oh, by the way how do i use this nuclear button? yeah, but we would rather you not. i don't think this just like how do you work the air conditioning in the west wing. i think this is a man who is
plainly acting like he knows that they're going to find something. he never has released his taxes. never will. he flips out about the slightest question that mueller might look at his finances. he goes on and on with maggie haberman about russia there is something going on here. pardon me if it looks like the guy is preparing to pardon himself and fire mr. mueller. >> jason miller? >> it's a pushback to that, i'd say the story also very clearly said a second source said this is only being discussed amongst the lawyers. i think we need to tamp it down a little bit, paul. but i think we're getting away from the broader point here, anderson. if you're wondering why trump supporters are so distrustful of the establishment clash in washington, it's this story and what we see going on. supposedly, when the special counsel was announced, it was purely about looking into this allegation that there was foreign meddling in our election and some sort of coordination between the campaign and some foreign entity. now we're hearing this news that they're looking into business dealings, or business ties or different transactions from
seven, eight, ten years ago. nothing at all to do with the campaign. i think it's time for a little bit of critical thinking here. i think a lot of people are looking at this and saying, okay, have they gotten to the end of the rainbow, and there is no coordination with the foreign entity? so now they're looking for something else to try to get him. i think this raise as lot of questions. >> joining us on the phone is "the washington post" carol leaning who was involved in. carol, can you explain what we read, several paragraphs of the report. what are the main points? because it seems like various number of people have talked about conversations going on among the legal team of the president and the word pardon. >> yes. so two things are really going on here, anderson. one, the president and his various teams of lawyer, remember, there is one on the inside now and there is one on the outside, they're all eyeing the fact that mueller's investigation is not your average prosecutor checking in
to one thing. it's a sprawling investigation that could involve a lot of things. and also he is learning that it could involve his own personal finances. so each of the teams and lawyers have different perspectives. but many of them are urging him to not be on the defense, but a little bit on the offense. looking at the conflicts of interest within the special counsel's office, mueller, bob mueller's own potential conflicts in handling this investigation, you know you have read, of course, about members of the team that may have made relatively modest donations to democratic candidates. you can expect the trump team talking about that. so it's an effort to really question the parameters as well of this investigation. you've heard the president say in fact "the new york times" the other day that, you know, this is inappropriate for him to be -- mueller to be looking at my businesses. in addition to that, the president has asked the
question, in curiosity at the moment about whether he can pardon his allies, his aides, his family members, himself. and lawyers on his team are looking at that. >> the -- it seems like one of the people in the article said this is not in the context of i can't wait the pardon myself, according to a close adviser that you quote. >> yes. >> so as your understanding, it's -- the president has kind of looked or raised questions about what are the parameters of pardoning? >> correct. which is a pretty interesting thing for a president to be asking at this stage in the game. and we thought it was newsworthy. >> jay sekulow is also quoted in your article, concerned that they're talking about real estate transactions in palm beach several years ago, which is something that we interviewed the reporter from bloomberg who reported this today. that may be one of the things that they may be looking as far
back as a purchase of a property ten years ago, or apartments that were purchased by russians in a building that trump built by the u.n. >> yeah. and i think that there is -- i think what you can feel coming out of this white house is a tension and an anxiety about how far is this going to go. you may remember, i'm sure your viewers and you do that ken starr's investigation into whether or not the president lied about a sexual relationship with a white house intern started with looking at some real estate deals. >> whitewater. >> in a rural part of arkansas that no one had ever heard of. certainly this team is mindful that i have heard them discussing this like where are we going from here. are we going to look at every condo in a unit as the president has remarked that may have been purchased by somebody who was russian? are we going to look at the prices of all of those things? were they fair market prices? are we going to look at every
bank transaction that involved a russian bank or a russian oligarch and his funds through a german bank? i think that there is anxiety and tension. and that's part of what's going on here. >> in fact, in your article, you quote one lawyer involved in the case as saying this is ken starr times a thousand. >> yes, indeed. we'll see if that bears true. >> that's certainly what they want people to feel. >> it could -- times a thousand may be overstating it. but remember, this is a president who as a business person has claimed to be engaged in billions of dollars in deals. he has had five, four or five different casinos in atlantic city. he has been a major force in new york real estate. having all of those financial transactions scrutinized, i'm -- i think that will be an interesting thing, if that's what happens. >> carol leonnig, thanks so much
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back now. talking with the panel, talking about late-breaking news that we just got from "the washington post" and also about the "new york times" about ways that the trump team is exploring to try to undercut special counsel robert mueller as well as looking to the president's power to pardon. back with the panel. joined as well by jeff toobin.
from a legal standpoint, what can the president do about pardons? >> he can pardon anyone he want. one of the open legal questions that's never been resolved is whether he can pardon himself. some of this i think may be not so terrible. people -- i think there is a tendency to hyperventilate about this. when i covered the starr investigation, i wrote a lot about the backgrounds of some of these prosecutors. hickman ewing, jackie bennett. paul begala will remember these people. they were politically conservative people who got involved working in this case. i thought it was appropriate. i thought it was interesting. if trump supporters want to write that there are abundant democrats on robert mueller's staff, i think that's fair game. this is high stakes stuff. people's backgrounds are relevant. i don't think there is anything sinister or inappropriate than. >> i don't know. i think the timing on all this is a bit curious, both this "washington post" story and
obviously "the new york times" bombshell last night too. because remember what we've got next week. we may or may not have testimony from don trump jr. and paul manafort. their interests are not necessarily aligned. and i think this could be an administration that is a bit worried about what they could be hearing if they do agree to testify. you hear the president talking about red lines last night. there have been warning signs talking about whether or not -- >> he was asked by "the new york times." they use the term red line. he agreed to it. but it wasn't like he -- that just came out of his head. >> he didn't say i'm not going to talk about red lines. but said anything not related to my busy. and therein lies the issue. because a lot of this russia deal does go back to his business interests. his sons have boasted about it. in fact talked about the meeting that don trump jr. had just last year that involved russian businessmen that had apparently some inside scoop on hillary clinton. so it does go back to russia. whether or not the president wants to acknowledge it or not.
>> i think one thing important to keep in mind is the white house today was adamant. and alluded to it as well that the investigation is on russian meddling. that's true. but you have to look at the original doj directive to mueller back in may. it was a broad mandate. it was extremely broad. it said to look at any links and/or coordination between the russian government and the campaign that is very broad. and oftentimes in these case, as you know, you follow the money. and when we see links between -- we've seen talk of soho development, palm beach and miss universe moving to moscow in 2013. these are all ties that need to be investigated. and i think if they have nothing to hide, which i certainly hope there is no there there, and i think that's hopefully will be the case, they should open the doors wide open and the talks about pardons i think are a little premature. open it all up. get it out there and let's get it behind us. >> you could make the argument if there are long-standing ties between donald trump and russian banks, or whomever it is in russia, that may have been kind
of the preamble to anything that happened later. i assume democrats -- >> think of what he is investigating. he is investigating this russian meddling. and you have to ask yourself what incentive would russia have had to want to wade into the u.s. election in an unprecedented fashion to this extent on behalf of donald trump. what leverage does it think it has on donald trump that it went to such lengths to get him elected? and so of course it's absolutely relevant to bob mueller. it's squarely in his purview to go back and look at this pattern of real estate sales where you have properties in palm beach that are selling for double their market value as a potential activity with respect to moneylaundering. you have to go back and look at that, because it may very well explain the motive here on behalf of the russians. it may well establish a connection that would be entirely relevant to a collusion investigation. i want to add one point about mark coralo, he was the spokesman until today for the
trump legal team. prior to that a few years back he had the same job as i had at the justice department. i overlapped with many officials that worked with him when i was in the obama justice department. they all spoke tremendously highly of him. this is someone that was viewed of having a great amount of personal integrity and independence. i don't know it directly, but i think it might mean something that he is stepping back from this today. >> anderson, when you look back at the headlines from when mueller was announced, let's look at the abc headline. robert mueller appointed special counsel to oversee probe into russia's interference in 2016 election. you look at the lead from "the new york times." justice department appointed robert mueller, former fbi director special counsel to oversee the investigation into ties between president trump's campaign and russian officials. this was clearly about trying to look to see if there are some sort of coordination between the campaigns. >> but alice is right. the obviously a headline doesn't include the entire purview. it's actually the next sentence in the directive to mueller actually is very broad. >> but i have it in front of me.
any matters -- >> from nine years previous. >> has nothing to do with the campaign. >> that may very well explain. if donald trump jr. himself said in 2008 we see a lot of money coming in from russia. it may very well explain how they had these contacts such that don jr. was so easily able to set up these meetings. it may explain how they were able to directly coordinate in june of 2016. it's absolutely relevant. >> if they have all these ties why would they need to find this 400 pound ex-music producer to make an introduction. >> the music -- [ overlapping dialog ] >> that's what the lawyer for the russians initially said early on in the week. but then we learned that actually they didn't really need it. because actually there are connections between the trumps and this family. and the family had a representative in this actual meeting. so the lawyer early on was portraying this of this russian attorney just used the pop star because she was an acquaintance
of his. it turns out they had actually -- they're actually more involved in it. the fact they sent a representative into this meeting do, you not find that curious? >> all roads lead to russia. >> in search of a problem. >> why is donald trump our president more loyal to vladimir putin than to jeff sessions, the politician who has been most loyal to him? even jeff sessions he is throwing under the bus when the heat comes on from russia. the purvey includes, quote, any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. directly is important. it can't go fishing. we can't go -- we don't want to -- >> you are deep sea fishing right now. you were way out there. >> i don't think so. i think this is coming right -- my old mentor always told me, a hit dog hollers. the reason trump is reacting is because there is there there. there is something about russia with this man that sets him off. >> or simply making the point because no one else is going to. >> i think another few words right after what paul just said.
matters that arose or may arise. i think the or may arise is going to be the issue here because i pray there is nothing here. i pray we can put this in our rear view mirror. the problem is the story has changed so many times. and that's what is going to get them moving forward. if they change or if the story changes while they're under oath, that's what got bill clinton. and that's potentially what could happen here. the or may arise may be the end of the story. >> with is retoo take a quick break. we're going the hear about someone who has written extensively about the inner workings of the campaign. we'll get his reaction on the breaking news. whatever kind of weekender you are, there's a hilton for you. book your weekend break direct with hilton.com and join the summer weekenders.
extensively about the trump campaign. joining us is josh green, steve bannon, donald trump and the storming of the president. josh, first of all, what are your thoughts on the "washington post" report tonight that among the trump legal team, they're looking into just the legalities of pardons and how it would work. and the president according to one source has asked about that as well. >> well, this has been a big fear of some people in the white house al i long that trump would lose his temper and lash out at bob mueller. and that hasn't quite happened. it sounds like we're seeing some early rumblings. i think it's a blow also to this outside legal entity that the white house had set up that steve bannon in fact was sent back from the president's foreign trip to saudi arabia back in may to kind of set up an outside operation of lawyers and a professional spokesman with experience in justice matters, mark coralo who we just found out has resigned tonight. the deal is if the white house
could hive off the russia investigation and mueller into an outside entity, it would free up the daily briefings and it wouldn't dominate the news in quite the way it has. the fact that there has been reported tension between the lawyers in the trump outside legal team and now coralo himself, who has a lot of experience working in the justice department. the fact that he has resigned i think shows that that plan is beginning to splinter. it's not really clear what's going to happen next. >> it's also hard to keep it separate when the president himself gives a long interview to "the new york times." yesterday going into details about it and going after mueller, attorney general sessions, who he also obviously seemed very upset about was the first member of congress to endorse then candidate trump.yo knew there were big risks in doing so. what were his concerns >> well, there were. sessions really was a pivotal force in the rise of donald trump's presidential campaign because as he said, although trump had won victories in new
hampshire primaries, he just won in the south carolina primaries, at the time sessions endorsed him at the end of february, he did not yet have the endorsement of any elected republican at the federal level. this was a big deal and it happened on the eve of a series of southern primaries. most of which trump wound up winning. i tell the story in the book about how once again steve bannon spent months brokering this alliance behind the scenes. bannon wasn't a member of the trump campaign at the time. he was the publisher of breitbart news. the right wing website. but he knew sessions. he cared a lot about these issues. and he knew that sessions was sort of the original trumpian populist in the senate before trump came on the scene and knew it would be important to get that kind of endorsement, that kind of mainstream affirmation for trump if you were going to go ahead and get the nomination. i lay out the scene of how sessions essentially got cold feet at the last moment and sat in a rental car while steve bannon talked him off the cliff
on his cell phone, lo and behold, he has a private meeting with trump on his plane and the next day makes a surprise appearance at a trump rally. and endorses trump by putting on a make america great again camp. this is a big betrayal of somebody who's very important to donald trump. >> were you surprised to hear the president's comments yesterday to "the new york times"? >> i was. yeah. i mean, it had been clear for quite a while that trump was unhappy about sessions' recusal, but sessions is a very loyal cabinet member and he's instrumental to trump implementing his agenda because he is the top law enforcement official in the land. and so the things that trump cares most about cracking down on immigration, criminal justice reform, policing and matters like that, and a lot of these executive orders all trace back to the attorney general, to jeff sessions. right now, he has a loyal ally in that spot, but if he fires sessions or if sessions feels
offended and resigns, trump is going to have a real problem filling that role. >> josh green again, the book is "devil's bargains." it's fascinating. thanks for being with us. i want to bring back in the panel. jason is a supporter and defender of the president. do you wish he'd not give that interview to the "times" yesterday in which this is, you know, buy america week, make american week, and obviously to refocus things on, you know, going after mueller and saying what he said about sessions doesn't make, you know, people pay attention to what the white house wants them to pay attention to. >> i thought that the president's comments regarding director mueller i think were going to come at a certain point in advance of next week, whether they were in yesterday particularly or whether they were going to happen, say, tomorrow, for example. >> wanted to somehow -- >> i think it was important to get that message out there as we're seeing this -- we talked about in the previous session, this mission creep, we see this moving away from this alleged coordination into business deals and such that don't seem to have anything to do with the campaign.
with going back to -- >> you think it's intentional that he made those comments about mueller prior to the testimony of this son and of manafort? >> or for the news cycles that are coming up, i don't know the exact thinking. obviously i wasn't chatting with the president about that issue. i think regarding general sessions, i mean, look, i think the president is right in his issue about the recusal. but i wish he hadn't brought that up. one of the things that the president stepped on yesterday was an absolute mastery of getting the senate reengaged on the health care issue. and back when the senate -- when the health care bill was going through the house, everyone said it was dead. and the president got engaged and he's the one who got it across the finish line. he got engaged in that same way yesterday, both in style and in substance. really engaging the senators to do that. i think the timing of the -- i wish he would have put it off by another day or two. that would have been my request. >> meanwhile, brian fallon, chuck schumer, democratic leader in the senate, used the sessions betrayal to lobby and to gig his colleagues on health care. he tweeted this out this
morning. two words to senate gop. when donald trump says i'll have your back, when you vote to repeal health care, jeff sessions. great shot because he's telling them, they know it, believe me, if you're in a foxhole with donald trump, write a will. >> the president also threw republican senators under the bus in "the new york times" interview. they had a lunch about health care. in the interview the president turns to russia, i talked to a bunch of these senators who all said they, too, would have taken a meeting with these russians had they gotten the e-mail that my son did. now they're in this situation where they're put in an uncomfortable situation, the president saying they would do something we all know most of them would have never done. >> don't we have to have some humility about, you know, saying at this table as we said all through 2016, oh, donald trump said such a dumb thing, you know, he insulted john mccain, he insulted megyn kelly, it's going it be terrible for him and it never was.
so i just think, you know -- >> until it is. >> he may know something we don't know. about -- >> now he's got to worry about an audience on capitol hill. i agree with your point in the campaign, jeffrey, clearly as we saw all the way up to november 8th, his base was loyal until the very end and they're remaining so until now. to a certain extent. grant him that. he's got a constituency he can't afford to offend on capitol hill. the example today, chuck grassley is going out there giving interviews to manu raju in the hallway saying he's going to subpoena donald trump jr. and paul manafort -- >> send a marshal. >> upping the ante we wouldn't have expected two, three months ago. you can't disaggregate it against the comments he made against jeff session. sessions was a colleague of theirs. they're offended by -- >> i applaud him for engaging senators yesterday on health care. i think that's smart. not only did they campaign on repealing and replacing obamacare, he did, too. all of them have a vested interest in making sure they follow through. >> we have to take a quick break. up next, john mccain weighs in on john mccain.
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what should i watch? show me sports. it's so fluffy! look at that fluffy unicorn! he's so fluffy i'm gonna die! your voice is awesome. the x1 voice remote. xfinity. the future of awesome. before we go tonight, word about senator john mccain. last night on this program, we reported the terrible news he'd just been diagnosed with brain cancer. almost immediately, of course appropriately, the tributes and good wishes poured in. one person we didn't hear from last night was the senator, himself. that changed today. in a tweet he wrote, "i greatly appreciate the outpouring of support, unfortunately for my sparring partners in congress, i'll be back soon.
so stand by." senator mccain, we cannot wait %-p. thanks for watching "360." time to hand things over to don lemon. lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news. president trump's lawyers reportedly seeking to undercut robert mueller's russia investigation. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. the "washington post" is reporting the president is asking whether he can pardon aides, family, even himself. that comes as he doubles down on his warning to mueller that looking into his family's finances would be a fireable offense. white house spokesman sarah huckabee sanders saying trump's warning made clear mueller, quote, should not move outside the scope of the investigation. now members of the president's own party are warning him not to fire mueller. meanwhile, attorney general jeff sessions vowing to stay on the job. in his words, "as long as that