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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

North Korea Launches Missile Over Japan; Trump Still Thinks "Both Sides" At Fault In Charlottesville White Supremacist Violence; NY Times: Trump Called Sessions An Idiot; Trump May Or May Not Have Agreement On DACA; Secretary Mnuchin And Louise Linton Back In Hot Seat; Former NBA Star Tim Duncan Helping The U.S. Virgin Islands. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 14, 2017 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, is in Seoul, South Korea with the latest on what we know at this point. So what have you learned, Ivan?

[21:00:12] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that U.S. pacific command says that this was fired from eastern parts of North Korea, the eastern coast, and that it is believed to be an intermediate range ballistic missile that flew for about 20 minutes over northern Japan, before splashing into the ocean. No reports of any casualties or damage. But certainly, alarms going out across Japan and further ratcheting up tensions here in the region, since this is the second time in less than three weeks that North Korea has fired a missile over Japan.

U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, saying this is a direct threat against the key U.S. ally, Japan. And it also comes less than two weeks after North Korea conducted a nuclear test which has been met with international condemnation and another round of economic sanctions.

Secretary of State Tillerson has singled out in response to this, Russia and China, which it claims Russia is the largest user of North Korean labor and China is the biggest supplier of oil to take new measures now against North Korea. This is probably going to be discussed at the United Nations' general assembly and the Security Council in the coming hours.

South Korea has been conducting live fire drills in response to the recent nuclear tests and for the first time it announced that in response to the North Korea missile launch, it fired its own ballistic missile, claiming to have fired it almost simultaneously. Despite that, the South Korean president, Anderson, he insists that South Korea should not adopt or develop nuclear weapons, saying that that would lead to a nuclear arms race. It would not be good for anybody.

And just a final surreal thought. Despite all of this tension, despite the fact that North Korea in just recent days has threatened to drown South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. in a sea of nuclear fire, commuters here within an hour of the missile launch, here in Seoul, were walking to work as if nothing had happened, living next to this nuclear armed neighbor that almost daily threatens to attack them. Anderson.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, appreciate the update. Now to something the president said today. Ripping open in some ways, wounds that haven't even started to heal in Charlottesville, Virginia, and across the country, blame what he calls both sides for violence, surrounding a white supremacist rally there. Ryan Nobles joins me now.

So the president basically repeated some of the comments that he had made last month.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Anderson. In some ways, doubling down from what he said after what had happened in Charlottesville, Virginia from a few weeks ago. And this comes after a very high-profile meeting with Tim Scott, the South Carolina senator, perhaps the most prominent African-American Republican in Congress, who went to the White House with the express purpose of helping the president to understand how African-Americans may have received his reaction to what happened in Charlottesville. Judging by what the president said today on Air Force One, he didn't seem to get the message. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said. Now because of what's happened since then, with Antifa, you look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying -- in fact, a lot of people have actually written, "Gee, Trump might have a point." I said, "You got some very bad people on the other side, also," which is true.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

NOBLES: One of the people that did not think that Donald Trump had a point when he made those comments was Tim Scott. In fact, he said, specifically, one of the points that he wanted to make to the president was that you cannot find equilibrium between these two groups and that is something many people in America were uncomfortable with, Anderson.

COOPER: And I know you spoke to Senator Scott about the meeting yesterday. He seemed hopeful. I'm wondering what he said specifically about the president's comments today.

NOBLES: Yes, Anderson, when we talked to Senator Scott yesterday, he was really encouraged. He thought moving forward that President Trump seemed to understand his perspective and that they were going to be able to work on some of these issues together, but this is what he had to say today to our Phil Mattingly after hearing about what the president had to say on Air Force One. He said, "That's who he is. It's who he has been. And I didn't go there to change who he was. I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. And I think we accomplished that and to assume immediately thereafter he's going to have an epiphany it is just unrealistic." And one of the things that Senator Scott said to us yesterday was that anyone over the age of three can't be changed after a 40-minute conversation. It seems that Senator Scott did have a realistic view of this conversation with the president.

[21:05:01] COOPER: All right, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. A lot to talk about tonight with the panel. Joining me are Bianna Golodryga, Jason Miller, Tara Setmayer, Jennifer Granholm, and Alice Stewart.

Bianna, I mean, why bring this up? I mean, he's asked about the meeting with Senator Scott and he pivots very quickly to what perhaps the most controversial comments he's made in his presidency.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I guess, one of the only answers could be is that he believes it. He thinks that he's right. He doesn't like to be proven wrong. He could have avoided this conversation. I mean, the best thing you had going for him is those audio only and you didn't see his cabinet and staff behind him bowing their heads like we saw with General Kelly before he said this.

I also think that he can't help himself. And this comes at a time where he puts both Republicans and Democrats really in a tight spot. Democrats are trying to work with him. He's got momentum going on DACA. He's got momentum going perhaps on infrastructure and even the debt ceiling. And now they're going to have their own constituents, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer saying, this is the president, remember, who said that there are bad guys on both sides. And you got Republicans who he has put in a corner and isolated as well, who are not so fast to come and support him on these issues. So he could really put himself in no man's land by continuing to go down this road.

COOPER: Jason?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, to be clear, when we saw these images from Charlottesville a few weeks back, these were horrific images. And in the -- when we looked at the president's comments afterwards, especially on that Tuesday, the first time that I was on T.V. after that, I was critical of some of the president's comments and the way that it was presented as the both sides. But I think what the president was saying today was very specific to Antifa in criticizing the violence that was coming from those people. And we saw those images on T.V. of people fighting back and forth. And there were people that were obviously -- that were fighting. There's no place for violence at all. And so, while, yes, there was a lot of the political back and forth a few weeks ago and some of that criticism on the president was very much deserved, I have a tough time criticizing him for anything today.

COOPER: But it was interesting, because he wasn't asked about Antifa. He wasn't asked anything about that or even what happened. He revisited that and rather than pointing out white supremacists or KKK or anything like that, he just brought up Antifa, as proving that he had been right. I mean, this seems both him wanting to back up and repeat what he had said previously, and also prove that he had been right the first time.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he did the absolute right thing in having this meeting with Tim Scott. It was important for him to have this meeting. But knowing that, going in, he knew this was going to open up another can of worms that has gotten him into trouble before, and he should have had his answer down pat. For him to bring up Antifa today, I think that was a mistake.

The one thing that he has said unequivocally, that is important, that he should not have backed down on at all is that he absolutely, positively condemns neo-Nazism, racism, and white supremacy. And he has said that. Unfortunately, when he says "there's bad dudes on both sides" and "there's plenty of blame to go around" all of that gets watered down. I think it was important for him today to come out and make that one point about denouncing this hateful behavior and leave it at that and not open himself up to more scrutiny.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What is the matter with him? I'm sorry to -- you can have the strong last word, but I am so amazed that after all of the criticism that he got about this, and he's a guy who likes to be loved, that he didn't learn enough. He knew this was coming. That he didn't learn enough to just let it go. We had a great meeting. He has -- I mean, with I'm not a psychologist, but if you look up the definition of narcissistic personality disorder, that is the definition, somebody who cannot ever be proven wrong. He has a problem and this is exhibit "A" of that and it's also extremely disturbing for the country.

TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: Yes, I mean, we try to psychoanalyze this all the time, but Donald Trump is who he is. And this is a perfect example of that. He just came out of a meeting, not even 24 hours, with Senator Tim Scott, who is an honorable man, who is an African-American, who understands these dynamics and try to explain to the president of the United States, which I think is -- that's problematic in and of itself, that this conversation even had to be had. But he even -- he tried to do that.

And Senator Scott said in his interview, his post-meeting interview, that he was trying to explain this to the president and the president was still trying to justify his position, about there are, you know, bad people on both sides. He doesn't get it. And this is part of who he is. It's part of the -- I brought this up many times. His mentor was Roy Cohn, who taught him to double down, never admit you're wrong, never back down. And even on something like this, that has ripped this country apart in so many areas, this is such -- the issue of race and neo-Nazis and white supremacy is an issue that this should not even be at the fore, the way it is now.

In 2017, he cannot let it go. And we are still continuing -- and it's like, what is it going to take? It's not. This is Donald Trump, that's his character deficit. He's a megalomaniac and here's example "A."

[21:10:08] GOLODRYGA: And another self inflicted wound --

SETMAYER: Of course. GOLODRYGA: -- from how he --

SETMAYER: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: I mean we saw tragedy across the country but how he handled Harvey, how he handled Florida, --

(CROSSTALK)

GOLODRYGA: How he went down the floor that we saw him handing out food, really touching and talking to people and the locals there, to come back and to open this and to go there on his own, unprompted.

Again, here is a man who if you look back has never apologized or even said, you know what, I didn't mean for it to come across this way. Instead, you're absolutely right. He doubles down.

SETMAYER: Lacks empathy. Here is the perfect time. The focus today was supposed to be about hurricane victims in Florida and the suffering of people that are still continuing right now. My friends in the Keys, in Marathon, Florida, still don't have power, still don't have electricity, they don't have sewage. There are people in the islands who are suffering in American territories. And the president of the United States was today was supposed to be about that. And yet, he interjected this because he just couldn't stand the fact that he -- that someone might thought that he was wrong about this and no, I must be right, because some people say. It's unbelievable.

MILLER: This was a press gaggle and he was being asked questions from a number of different folks.

SETMAYER: He can turn it --

MILLER: But clearly, it was on his mind. I mean, --

SETMAYER: Why is it still on his mind, though, Jason?

MILLER: You would agree with me that Antifa are bad people.

SETMAYER: Yes, they are.

MILLER: And he said these are bad dudes, bad hombres.

SETMAYER: And the president should let his surrogates handle that. There are bigger things going on right now. We can bring up Antifa at another time. But the president of the United States needed to be president of the United States today and not still arguing these little granular things going on about something that happened a month ago that he was dead wrong on. We're messaging people, you know that was off-message today, Jason.

MILLER: But I guess on the nuance, in a press gaggle, he went through a number of issues. He went through 10 different things. This wasn't a big formal speech.

COOPER: Right, but I guess I don't understand why the focus is on -- for him is on Antifa, which I guess plays to his base well. But does bringing up -- I mean, I would think bringing up neo-Nazis and white supremacists should also play to his supporters, as well. Why not, at least brick them up somewhere in the conversation?

MILLER: And he's denounced those groups over and over. But I feel like --

COOPER: A handful of time, under pressure.

MILER: Over and over. And I think clearly this is on his mind, it was a press gaggle. It was an opportunity in front of a number of members of the press corps to go and say what he was thinking, which normally the press corps is glad about that. They like to have the fact they have a president of the United States in front of them and go through all the questions. And if he's not saying, you know, -- surrogates can go and make these points, but --

SETMAYER: Talking about Antifa.

MILLER: They're bad people.

SETMAYER: OK, Antifa, yes, bad people --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- the story of Charlottesville, though, is not Antifa. I mean, the story of Charlottesville is hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists and who chose to go to this town armed with shields and clubs and long rifles and guns and, yes, there were counter protesters and some of them were violent and that's not good and that's, you know, completely without offense. But the story is --

SETMAYER: A woman died at the hands of these people.

COOPER: -- neo-Nazis who chose to make this happen. And, you know, a woman is dead.

MILLER: Completely agree with you. I do think it was good that the president, though, was denouncing violence, wherever it's coming from.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. More of this conversation ahead.

Also, new reporting from "The New York Times" that the president berated his attorney general after the special counsel was appointed in the Russia investigation, calling him an idiot and saying he should resign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:17:07] COOPER: We've been talking about President Trump once again today saying there were "bad dudes" and "some very bad people on the other side" of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. As I was saying before the break, the story was these people showing up and marching.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: White supremacist who chanted Jews will not replace us and blood and soil which is an old Nazi slogan, so for the other side would be those protesting these people.

Back now with the panel, one thing that the president didn't mention today, he was sort of recasting his comments from a month ago. He was saying that he had pointed out violence on both sides and that there were bad people on both sides. What he had also said back then, which is what I think is what sort of surprised most -- got the most shock was him saying that there were some very fine people at that rally on Friday night, the night before there was the violence.

I've talked to a Vice news reporter who was there and shot, you know, was with the cameraperson shooting those images saying, look, were there like some good people who just happened to wander into this organized march of tiki torch, you know, chanting young men? And she was like, no, that's -- this was a very highly organized neo-Nazi march on a Friday night. And it's just odd to me that the president singled out that Friday as being, there were some very fine people.

STEWART: If there was a really fine person that showed up on that Friday night and they happened to be amongst a group of people that thought they were friends and they have tiki torches and they are shouting those chants, they would turn tail and run.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Get the heck out of there.

COOPER: Like, you know what, oh, sorry --

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: That being said, I think this is another example, unfortunately, of the president stepping on his own good news day. Today was a good day for him to go out and visit the victims and thank the volunteers and thank the responders there in Florida. And unfortunately, he took this as an opportunity, granted, to Jason's point, you cannot control a question that you're asked in a gaggle. But it is important to pivot or to stay on message --

COOPER: But what's interesting is he didn't even -- he actually pivoted to this. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is actually about the meeting with Tim Scott. And he started off by saying, look, we had a great meeting, I've been a longtime supporter of Tim Scott. Could have ended it there or could have said, you know, we had really fruitful discussions, it was amazing, we're going to continue to work together and --

GOLODRYGA: And also, you mentioned the Vice video. I mean, just today, Ivanka Trump had an interview with the "Financial Times" and she was talking about that weekend, she and Jared were out of town. She said she was sort of tuning out and not really paying attention and she saw the Vice piece and she saw the white supremacists actually single her out and saying she married a Jewish man and what a terrible thing that was. So if she said she took that personally, spoke to her father about that, so this is something that directly affected him, personally. It wasn't just something that the nation was grappling with.

COOPER: I believe that was the neo-Nazi who was like talking tough on the cameras and then --

SETMAYER: Crying --

GOLODRYGA: Crying after --

COOPER: Crying later on when he realized he was in trouble.

GOLODRYGA: Yes.

[21:20:03] SETMAYER: Yes, pity party.

COOPER: Right.

SETMAYER: You know what, one other thing, I think that, we haven't mentioned yet is that there are a lot of people like on the alt-right side were supporters of Donald Trump, who were emphasizing the fact that this was the taking down of the Robert E. Lee statue was changing our culture and we were having all this conversation about how that was, you know, left-wing progressivism, trying to be revisionist history and all of that. And I think that we already know that Donald Trump has an affinity for Robert E. Lee and for some of these generals. And I think he feels that that whole incident was -- he was upset about the fact that people were taking down these statues. So in his mind, I think he thought there were some fine people that were there and those other people, well, you know, we don't really care about them. It just -- it's amazing to me that there is just no sense of empathy there about the seriousness of that.

COOPER: Do you think he's such a student of history that he has an affinity for Robert E. Lee?

SETMAYER: No, he's mentioned Robert E. Lee many times if you listen as a tough general, he's mentioned this before. And I told you, we mentioned on the show another time that he had given the first part of his presidential salary to the battle of Antietam in Maryland, the bloodiest day in the civil war battle, he gave his salary to the restoration of that in Maryland. So there is something with him and generals and war that he seems to have an affinity for. He may not know the details or why, but there is something in him, because he's always talking about them, and I think that's what the attraction is.

COOPER: -- to play to some of his supporters --

SETMAYER: It could be, too. Those same people are very upset with him now because of his position on DACA. I mean, Breitbart called him amnesty don. So maybe that could have been read meat for them to say, hey --

COOPER: That was my other point. Could there in any way be bringing this up in order to just kind of move from DACA thing?

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: I think it was probably just an issue that was on his mind. And look, if there was one thing that I would be critical on with that response, I think the president could have used that opportunity to talk about job growth in the U.S. and the fact that the biggest growth that we're seeing is with blacks and Latinos, as we see the unemployment rate coming down, we're seeing the biggest growth with minority communities. That's a great stat. Come back to that and talk about how we're going to help improve race relations as the economy comes up and it rises everyone's income. So that's a great thing to talk about. And if he came back and pushed that, that would have been good for him.

COOPER: A lot more on our panel ahead. I want to get the panel's take on new reporting tonight about the president calling Attorney General Jeff Sessions an idiot, saying he should resign after the special counsel was appointed in the Russia investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[2:25:52] COOPER: A report in "The New York Times" says that President Trump pretty much lost it on Attorney General Jeff Sessions after learning that a special counsel had been appointed in the Russia investigation. I spoke with Maggie Haberman about her reporting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What happened was this was a May meeting in the Oval Office. They were interviewing or discussing potential candidates to replace James Comey, who the president had fired days earlier. While they were in the middle of this meeting, there was a phone call from the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, saying that he had named Robert Mueller as a special counsel. The meeting in the Oval Office then resumed with this news and the president unloaded his anger and frustration at Jeff Sessions in full view of others, called him an idiot, said he was one of the worst mistakes that he had made, said he should resign. And I think we're, you know, giving the cliff notes here, Sessions was deeply upset. Said that he would resign, left the Oval Office, was should intercepted, Mike Pence played some role in trying to diffuse the situation, but Sessions still wrote this letter of resignation that the president declined to accept, but took a while giving back. The president was also told by several advisers, this is just going to be devastating for your presidency if you fire Jeff Sessions in the middle of this or let him leave this way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, the irony is Jeff Sessions is, you know, one of the earliest supporters who, you know, the first senator to support him, was out on the campaign trail. And as the head of the Department of Justice, has been really pushing the president's agenda forward even though, you know, in ways large and small.

STEWART: We've heard rumblings of this before and this just adds a little bit more to what we've already heard. But I think the disheartening thing is that, as you say, Jeff Sessions has been a real patriot with regard to pushing the president's agenda. He is super strong on immigration. He looks at what hays doing now in the DOJ as a once in a lifetime opportunity to really get tough on immigration and he's really working hard to do that. And another big area of concern for the president is cracking down on leakers. And Jeff Sessions is really focusing on doing just that.

So I think news of this and the president's temper is not anything new. I think a lot of people always knew this was happening. But I think I commend Jeff Sessions for really, regardless of all of that, keeping his nose to the grindstone and getting the job done.

GRANHOLM: And only Donald Trump could make me feel sorry for Jeff Sessions. I think that it is really instructive to me that he's castigating Jeff Sessions, who has been this totally loyal person. What appears in this story is an interesting signal, if you will, to the rest of Donald Trump's team. How loyal is he going to be to the rest of his team when push comes to shove? When he's under the fire? If he had fired Jeff Sessions, can you imagine the fodder that would give to Mueller? Even this story now will give fodder to Mueller. It was the team that convinced him not to do it. It is a -- it is a disaster, either way. This story is not a good story for Donald Trump.

MILLER: But I don't think it's necessarily a bad story. I mean, this was a snapshot in time. So I'm not taking issue with the reporting of the story, but I'm saying that during that stretch in May, that was accurate. But, look, Jeff Sessions is doing a great job now. The president thinks that he's doing a good job --

GRANHOLM: But look at why he was about to be fired, though, Jason. I mean, he was about to be fired because he wouldn't recuse himself. So what it says is that even if you are acting ethically, if you are acting on principle, that's not good enough if you don't obey the wishes of the king.

COOPER: That's issue of loyalty. I think --

MILLER: I think we're conflating a few different things here, in the fact that the president is correct that Attorney General Sessions recusing himself did set off a chain reaction that ultimately led to Mueller and that obviously made the president upset. So the fact that the president was upset during that stretch --

GRANHOLM: But he --

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: -- the president firing Comey is why --

MILLER: But it went --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: -- way further back. But again, look, presidents have a right to get frustrated at staff and this isn't unique to this president. Governor, I imagine you probably got mad at your staff now and then.

GRANHOLM: I'm a gentle soul.

(CROSSTALK)

[21:30:01] SETMAYER: Nobody is arguing whether the president can get upset with his staff. Dressing down a cabinet member, I mean, the attorney general of the United States, I think, may be a different story.

COOPER: It's also --

SETMAYER: He also did this to General Kelly, who said that he would not take that again. And he's a marine general, for goodness sake.

COOPER: It wasn't also all behind closed doors. I mean, there was this sort of public humiliation of Jeff Sessions via Twitter that kind of went on for -- I mean, you know, you're indicating that this is kind of in the past. But some of that public humiliation was more --

GOLODRYGA: It was to the point where he had to have a press conference and say, it's still business as usual. We're still doing our work with Rod Rosenstein sitting next to him, saying the state of our foundation is still solid despite what the president is tweeting about me. We're continuing our work on the president's agenda.

GRANHOLM: This agenda, too, that is -- was including going after these DACA recipients. So what happens today or, you know, after the story last night about the DACA -- you know, him folding a bit on DACA, what does Jeff Sessions think then? That was the reason why he wanted to stay, was to be able to carry out the immigration --

COOPER: It was also Jeff Sessions who was tasked with announcing the president's policy on DACA, which then the president did so far --

GOLODRYGA: And every single legal expert said he did the absolute right thing by recusing himself. Imagine what would have happened, what we would be talking about right now had he not recused himself.

MILLER: But good for both of them for getting over it.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Always finding the silver lining.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It was less than 10 days ago that he announced the end of DACA. Now looks like President Trump may be making or wanting to make a deal with Democrats to keep it around. The question is, is he? Is that what's really happening? We'll talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:35:17] COOPER: Less than 10 days after President Trump announced his administration's decision to end the Obama-era DACA program and send it over to Congress, he appears to have changed his mind. After a White House dinner last night, Democratic leaders announced that the president agreed to protect Dreamers in exchange for more border security. But the border wall won't be on the table this time around. Then in a string of tweets early this morning, the president wrote, "No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote." This becomes even more confusing, because just hours later he said this to reporters outside the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 people young people brought here, no fault of their own. So we're working on a plan. We'll see how it works out. But we're going to get massive border security as part of that. And I think something can happen. We'll see what happens. But something will happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I want to bring back the panel, plus one new guest, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Are you encouraged all congressman by what the president is saying?

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: We like to hear that DACA is the top of the priority, the legislative priority. And this really comes as a result of all the mobilization of the Dreamers and advocates and even some CEOs, some good companies out there that understand that these are good kids, smart kids, they're working, they're going to school, they're in the army, and so, this is a good working force for America. It will be malpractice to kick them out.

COOPER: Do you believe that a deal will actually be done? Because before, when the president said, look, I'm sending it over to Congress and after six months, you know, I'll reconsider if they don't come up with a deal. Do you think actually this could work as a deal?

ESPAILLAT: He doesn't have to send it back to Congress. In fact, in Congress, we have several pieces of legislation that takes care of the problem. We have the Dream Act that is sponsored by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, bipartisan piece of legislation. That seems to have the provisions in it that would resolve this problem. It would allow young people that have been living here four years or more before the bill is enacted to stay. They have to be going to school, working, or in the armed forces. This allows them to be part of mainstream America. And it's right there in Congress. All he needs to do is, you know, hop, skip, and a jump to the capital. Let's roll up our sleeves, let's go over the provisions in the bill. Let's see what's good and what's bad and let's make sure that we pass it.

COOPER: So what do you think's going on here? I mean --

SETMAYER: Well, look, the president has been all over the place on this issue. Before he ran for office, he was -- he had this current position now, where he said, you know, we -- he was pro-legal immigration. He, you know, we know what he did at Mar-a-Lago, he wasn't as hard core as he was during his campaign. During the campaign, I believe that was the single issue that propelled him to the nomination, was his tough stance on the border wall. He was going to reverse DACA in the first day. That was a major -- that is the issue for Republican primary voters. But we -- most of us were watching this knew that that was not really -- he never meant any of that. It was bs during the campaign.

COOPER: Well, also, the other Republican candidates during the primary, they kept mentioning that --

SETMAYER: Of course.

COOPER: -- at every debate, like this isn't actually going to happen.

SETMAYER: This is softer than Marco Rubio's position was on immigration. So this is a -- it's a betrayal to a lot of the Republican base.

Now, in fairness, Republicans -- well, voters, people who voted for Donald Trump, 73 percent think that Dreamers should not be deported. And, fine, we've gotten to this point. There's been a failure in immigration. That's fine. We need to have that policy. But the Dream Act, if they're going to pass a clean bill in the Dream Act, there's a lot of things in there that are not addressed as far as border security, migration, the things that you need. This isn't amnesty.

COOPER: The idea of working with Democrats, does that help President Trump, just in terms of -- because everybody -- you know, a lot of people outside the beltway want government to work. They want people -- and the president during the campaign was saying, look, I can get people into a room together. This is sort of the first example of that. But among, you know, the Breitbart crowd, this is not a good development.

MILLER: I think it plays well outside of the beltway. And I think it's interesting watching a lot of the media coverage that is all jumping on the fact of where there are divisions between the president and his base, as opposed to saying good job, President Trump, for reaching out and trying to make a deal. I think there's probably something else going on here too, where the president is trying to light a fire under Republican leadership to go and actually get some legislation done. And we saw Congressman Mark Meadows from North Carolina say this evening that he's been working with the White House on something. Because obviously, we aren't going to just line up buses and ship out 800,000. That's just not realistic nor is it fair or humane. But obviously, there has to be some kind of long-term solution that's not by executive fiat, which we saw from the previous administration. There has to be a long-term solution that we get to. There also has to be a strong border security provision in there.

[21:40:16] And I think there's another thing that's important to point out is that if the president did nothing, if he just left it to Congress to go and kick the can down the road and some months, you know, from now, we actually get something, essentially what he would have put in front of him is amnesty. So I think what he's doing is laying down some markers, that he has to get some border security.

GRANHOLM: What do you mean by that, Jason? I mean, when the Republicans and the Breitbart today calling him amnesty don, when you say that, what it says is that the Dream Act is not going to be good, because your whatever team, the team that doesn't want to see this happen, will never grant citizenship to these young people. Will never grant citizenship, so what you will be doing -- and I heard somebody on -- one of the Breitbart editors today say, there is no movement off of this. There cannot be amnesty which means there cannot be a path to citizenship. So what do you do? Make 700,000 people essentially second-class citizens for their life?

MILLER: So governor, let me ask you this question. Where in the constitution does it say that you can just come into our country regardless of where you're coming from and automatically have citizenship?

GRANHOLM: But the point is, this is a unique class of people. The constitution does say that whether you are documented or not, you have equal protection of the law. That it would be unlawful, at least the argument would go, this has never been brought to the Supreme Court, that people would not be relegated for their life to never being able to vote in this country, to never having --

MILLER: But the constitution --

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: I think it's important to layout that this is far from being amnesty. Amnesty is what Ronald Reagan did. You know, he says, you can come in now, go to your local police precinct, and get fingerprinted. You know, they're going to have to get a conditional permanent residency that will be for eight years. They have to -- it's very stringent guidelines. I think you should all read the bill. It's very stringent guidelines. You have to do background checks, you've got to take a medical exam, you've got to make sure no previous criminal history. You've got to go through eight years with conditional permanent residency before you actually get your green card. And once you do that, if you want to become a citizen, as any green card holder, as I did, you have to wait an additional five years. So this is a 13-year process.

COOPER: Right.

ESPAILLAT: And to call it amnesty, I think, is really an attempt to derail the whole process.

STEWART: I think, at this point, to call it anything is a little premature, because we don't know if there was a deal struck, we don't know if there was an agreement. The Democrats came out of the meeting say, we have a deal, it has nothing to do with border security. The president today said, no, this isn't an amnesty --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: -- everyone is missing the fact that we have to get border security. We can't just go and roll out the carpet --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We've got to take a break. Much more ahead, including the request the Treasury Secretary had, reportedly wanting the government to give him a government plane on his honeymoon. We'll explain that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:54] COOPER: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, are back in the news tonight. This time, Mnuchin reportedly requested a government plane for their European honeymoon, a trip chronicled on Linton's now-infamous Instagram feed. Mnuchin is pushing back noting that he didn't use such a plane on the trip, and if he had, he would pay for. This, of course, comes after questions were raised a few weeks ago about the couple's use of a government plane to go to Fort Knox, which they also happened to watch the solar eclipse from the roof of Fort Knox.

Let's bring in our panel plus Norman Eisen, former White House ethics czar for President Obama.

Ambassador Eisen, Secretary Mnuchin said this was about National Security, that that's the bottom line. That was only -- the request was to have a constant access to communication, secure communication and effectively, this would have been a portable office. I mean, I think the cost of something like $25,000 per hour. Does that sound like a legitimate request? He later said that they withdrew the request because they found another means of secure communication.

NORMAN EISEN, FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Thanks for having me, with Anderson. It's a dubious justification. Cabinet-level officials, including the Treasury Secretary travel all the time. There are a lot of other means of secure communications. I entertain these officials when I was ambassador, abroad. There was no need for him to take a government jet at $25,000 an hour on his honeymoon. So I'm not buying that. We'll find out the answer, the watchdog I had, crew, is litigating to get all of these records. So we will get to the bottom of the truth.

COOPER: Do you -- does -- I mean, the panel, do you guys believe that this was a National Security request?

MILLER: Anderson, well, I think it's important, the way that you set it up, I think, was perfect and very accurate and the fact that there are a lot of things going on. You've got to keep in mind that the Treasury Secretary is part of the National Security Council. And when we have things going say North Korea --

COOPER: Right, he's dealing with sanctions, he's dealing with a lot of stuff.

MILLER: Right. And he has to have 24/7 secure access. So is the team went and figured out here a number of different options for having secure communications, that's one of the things that the staff level they wanted to go and to look at. Obviously, they looked at the price tag and other things and said, that's not a feasible option. They found some better communications to go with. But, again, they were the ones who withdrew that and said, we found a better option. But the Treasury Secretary does have to have 24/7 secure communications. So his team went and researched a few different things. Big deal.

SETMAYER: So the problem here is that if it weren't for the fact that he went to Fort Knox to watch the eclipse and used a questionable reason to go, that he was going there to check on the gold. That hasn't happened in like 50 years.

COOPER: Would that have been a story if it wasn't for his wife taking pictures and tagging --

SETMAYER: That's correct.

COOPER: And then, you know, if that didn't happened --

SETMAYER: So that's really ostentatious and obnoxious as hell and she insulted an average American citizen who said to her like, that was kind of obnoxious, and there was a Twitter war with that. So those --

MILLER: She apologized.

SETMAYER: She had no choice but to apologize. I mean, she got -- it was pretty brutal what his wife did and obnoxious, especially when your, you know, your husband is a public servant and you (INAUDIBLE) with the pleasure of the American people. This just doesn't look good. And so, maybe, yes, I know -- we work in government. Yes, we need communication. There are certain things people reimburse (ph) to that. But I think it's just the combination of these things is what happens when you put people that aren't familiar with how things work into these position -- actually known better.

[21:50:20] STEWART: And I think there's also -- here it is worth millions and millions of dollars and this is a yet another example that they really out of touch with --

SETMAYER: Right.

STEWART: -- what average people go through. And I think the issue here and the made it clear today, he spoke out today, wasn't that it was through request for this government plane, it was he asked for them the first place. And I think, yes, it is important to have secure communication and he -- at one point said this is a National Security issue. I think that's important. But if that's the case and they couldn't secure communication they might have considered a vacation honeymoon at --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, I mean, does it make sense that you would use, I mean, if you park a jet on some private airport -- I'm not sure where they were vacationing, but it's a way for where you're actually staying. So you would actually then journey to the airport. You would have to get the plane, air-condition, could have been sitting in incredibly hot weather with its window shut. If you are in there for hours, I mean, it just seems like that -- it makes no sense that that's going to be your mobile office.

EISEN: Anderson, like so much else in the Trump administration, this is not normal. I saw lot of officials travel. We have embassies and conflicts. We have military facilities. There's a lot of options for secure communications. If it's that much of a crisis situation then postpone the honeymoon or you delegate to somebody. It's not normal for a Treasury Secretary to do this. And it's not isolated incident. It's not just this plane. It's not just the Fort Knox. If he amended a $100 dollars in assets from his first financial disclosure form. He promoted the Lego movie against ethics rules. He said he'd step away from his business then he stuck (ph) -- ahead of his business, another epics question. So there's a pattern here that leads me to take his explanation with a rather large grain of salt.

COOPER: I love that he work in a Lego movie, in this discussion. It's the only time I think I've mentioned the Lego movie on this show. Ambassador, thanks for being with us. I want to thank everybody. We don't want to end this hour without again acknowledging the suffering that continues in the Florida and Caribbean, as you know, Hurricane Irma devastated much of the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Croix was OK, but St. Thomas and St. John real suffering there.

Retired NBA star Tim Duncan is from St. Croix. He's on the ground now in St. Thomas, raising money, helping with relief efforts. I'll talk to him when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:56:50] COOPER: After Hurricane Irma, just about everyone in the U.S. Virgin Islands needs something. A lot of homes are left in ruins. Lives have to be rebuilt. NBA star Tim Duncan is from the island. He's back there now getting a look at the damage and helping with relief efforts. He's raised a lot of money so far to help people start over. I spoke to Tim Duncan earlier. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tim, you just got back from St. John. I'm wondering what you saw there. How bad was it?

TIM DUNCAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It's -- the island is pretty messed up. Lots of trees and debris. Lots of homes without roofs and a lot of them just totally blown away. So, a lot of destruction over there, but a lot of people out and working to cleanup everything. A lot of guys with very -- people with very positive attitudes ready to start the rebuilding process.

COOPER: In terms of supplies that are getting in, did you see supplies coming to St. John? Did you see people on the ground from the federal government, from local authorities, both in St. John and St. Thomas?

DUNCAN: Yes. Yes. There's been a lot of support especially now, helped unload a bunch of supplies from boats. There's a lot of support here from FEMA and we see the soldiers all around the place. So it's starting to get here.

COOPER: What do you want people to know about the situation there? You've been raising money really since this storm. I know you grew up on St. Croix and St. Croix, thankfully was largely spared. What is your message to people?

DUNCAN: I just want people to be aware and not forget about the islands. Just make sure that they understand that this is -- they need help now, but it's going to be a long process of rebuilding because it's really devastating here.

COOPER: You've not only donated $250,000 to relief efforts, you've also been able to raise more than $2 million. I know you actually went through a hurricane yourself when you were growing up. What was that experience and how did that impact you in terms of wanting to help now?

DUNCAN: That's what did it. When I was 13 I went through Hurricane Hugo and I just remember all the experiences of going through it, not only the storm but the aftermath and knowing that and knowing what we needed on the island at that time, I knew I wanted to step in and help now and make sure the island get back and people could get back on their feet as quickly as possible. And if I can do a little bit of that by starting a relief fund and being down here bringing supplies, I'm happy to do that.

COOPER: So you brought supplies down yourself. And what kind of supplies are need now? What kind of donations, I mean, I guess, would be the most important thing or the easiest thing for people around the country to do?

DUNCAN: I had an amazing response from a lot of different directions. Like I said, we've raised a lot of funds which I've matched up to a million dollars worth of. We've gone beyond that. We're continuing to raise funds. We brought a lot of canned foods. People need food and water. And we've got people from all over the country sending stuff to us. We packed it up and it's on its way down here now. Should be here today.

COOPER: Well, Tim, I appreciate what you're doing and I wish you the best. Thank you very much.

DUNCAN: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's it for us. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now. See you tomorrow.