Return to Transcripts main page


Secret MLK Document Included In JFK File Release; Trouble with the Truth; Bruni: Sanders Utterly At Peace with the Fictions She Peddles; WH Press Secy. Under Fire for Trouble with the Truth; No Prison Time for Bergdahl; No Prison Time for Bergdahl, Pres. Trump Calls It a "Disgrace"; Retired Navy Seal Dog Handler on Sentencing for Bergdahl; Pres. Trump Arrives In Hawaii; Russia Cloud Hangs Over President's Asia Trip; DNC Clinton Memo Comes to Light, Raises Questions on Primary. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

It's been a highly consequential week in the Russia investigation. We're now one guilty plea and two indictments into the probe and it either looks like the end or the beginning of the end. And where things go from here is anybody's guess.

What does seem clear tonight is as the amount of testimony and documentary evidence grows, it will get harder and harder for anyone involved to tell flat out falsehoods or claim amnesia when the accumulated evidence might say otherwise.

Which hasn't stopped President Trump from trying. Here is the president back in February.


REPORTER: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I told you General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that's one person. But he was dealing -- as he should have been.

REPORTER: During the election?

TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of.


COOPER: Well, since then we've learned that Jeff Sessions had on several occasions, Jared Kushner had in Trump Tower, Paul Manafort had with Jared Kushner at that same Trump Tower meeting. Also, George Papadopoulos. That's at least of all those we know about so far.

He's the member -- Papadopoulos is the member of then candidate Trump's foreign policy advisory panel. He pleaded guilty to lying, of course. Here he is in March of last year meeting with Mr. Trump.

We now know, according to another participant in that meeting, the Papadopoulos pitched the idea of setting up a meeting with candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin and Mr. Trump, quote, heard him out.

Today, though, before leaving on his Asia trip, the president said he didn't remember.


TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time ago. Don't remember much about it.


COOPER: The president's memory fails him there. This is the president who just recently said his memory could never fail him. That's how good it is.


TRUMP: There's no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time.


COOPER: One of the great memories of all time.

As we said, though, it is not just the president's statements that are coming into question. It's those of his attorney general and others.

CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us now with the latest in all that -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the president has just arrived in Hawaii, embarking on arguably the most important overseas trip of his presidency, but with these questions still swirling, changing stories, first, he and his associates saying no meetings with Russians, as you noted. That turned out to be false. Then they said there was no discussion of anything untoward. That we now know is false because at least some of his advisers have discussed the question of dirt on Hillary Clinton to be supplied by the Russians.

And we now know that this is very much of interest to the special counsel.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, new revelations darken the cloud of the Russia investigation hanging over the Trump administration. The first contradicting Attorney General Jeff Sessions' claims in testimony just last month.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you're saying?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.

SCIUTTO: In fact, court filings unsealed this week show that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators, suggested at a March 2016 meeting that Trump meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, a source adds that Sessions, then a top campaign national security adviser and surrogate rejected the idea.

Another former campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, tells CNN that he testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday that he informed sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, though he said that the trip was not tied to his role with the campaign.

Papadopoulos' account is placing another Trump adviser under scrutiny. Sam Clovis, who served as deputy campaign chairman. Court documents show that Papadopoulos contacted a campaign supervisor, who "The Washington Post" has identified as Clovis, about a potential trip to Russia to meet Russian officials.

The supervisor responded, encouraging Papadopoulos to make the trip. Papadopoulos' account was unsealed the same day as indictments of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates in relation to their lobbying work for the Ukraine government.

In the indictments, the government alleges that they received tens of millions of dollars for their work and to hide that income laundered the money through, quote, scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges, which cover activities prior to Trump's presidential campaign.


COOPER: And, Jim, I understand you're learning more about Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and when a trial might be.

SCIUTTO: That's right. There's now a proposed date for May 7th. This, of course, of 2018. That could move a little bit. The estimate is will take at least three weeks for the trial and keep in mind, that's going to take it into the summer of 2018, which is, of course, before the very important midterm elections. We know the president has wanted this investigation to end, this cloud hanging over him to disappear, but we know at a minimum with Manafort and Gates, it's going to continue well into next year.

[20:00:03] COOPER: Jim, thanks very much.

Perspective now from "AXE FILES" host and former senior Obama adviser David Axelrod. I mean, it's hard to believe, David, it was just four days ago that Manafort and Gates turned themselves in. We found out about Papadopoulos. DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I think

the Papadopoulos element was one that really jarred everyone around the president because whereas they were expecting the Manafort indictment and perhaps Gates, they were comfortable that that was about other matters, at least on the surface it was about something that had nothing to do with the campaign. And then, Papadopoulos came along, and as part of his proffer and his plea, mentioned others in the campaign who he talked to or at least were referred to other campaign officials.

And that promises trouble down the line. This is how prosecutions work. You start at the corners of this and you work toward the center of the puzzle. And I'm sure that that is one of the reasons why the president has been so outspoken this week about other matters and pointing in other directions. There is a great deal of anxiety around that White House right now.

COOPER: Well, you also give the sense that we really have only seen a tiny portion of what special counsel Mueller already has. I mean, the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

AXELROD: Yes. This is the way these things work. They take time. Everyone is impatient to know how the story ends, but if you look at all of these major investigation, they tend not to unfold that way and oftentimes, you know, one thing leads to another, and as you work your way up.

Now, we don't know where it will lead, but clearly, it's not going to stop with George Papadopoulos or with Manafort or Gates. There's going to be more. I think there seems to be broad agreement on that.

COOPER: And the president has certainly turned up the volume this week on his calls for Secretary Clinton and the Democrats to be investigated. Would you imagine that these calls from the president are only going to increase?

AXELROD: Well, absolutely. Look, one of the habits of Donald Trump is when there's an inconvenient blaze over here, he starts one over here. And all weeklong, he's been harming on the justice system itself, relative to the events in New York and the terrorist attack there, calling our justice system a laughingstock.

And then starting last night and into this morning, basically demanding even as he said it wasn't his place to do so, demanding that the Justice Department open up investigations on Hillary Clinton and others. And, you know, I think this is his reaction to the growing intensity of the Mueller investigation.

But the thing, Anderson, that gets me is here is a prosecuted who saw willfully and so enthusiastically exploits passions around the flag, passions around the national anthem, but doesn't apparently appreciate what those symbols stand for. One of the most important things that separates us from autocracies is the fact that presidents of the United States can't order the justice to go after -- he said they out to go after Hillary Clinton -- to go after his political opponents. There's been for time immemorial a separation between presidents and their Justice Departments and the FBI.

When I was in the White House, we could not -- I couldn't contact the Justice Department. I couldn't contact the FBI, nor did I try. But if I had an issue, it was plain. You go to the White House counsel. He would be the repository of your requests. He would follow-up on things.

The president was very cautious when I was in the White House about commenting on matters that were under investigation.

So, this is a complete departure from tradition, and it's a dangerous one. And as this thing intensifies, God knows where it's going to lead.

COOPER: Yes, David Axelrod, appreciate it. Thanks tonight.

Next, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager speaking out for the first time about the former Democratic Party chair's claim that the party, the primary was rigged.

And later, explosive allegations about Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. kept secretary for nearly half a century in the JFK assassination files. We'll talk about the facts, any behind them and why they were kept secret, why the FBI was collecting all this information and why J. Edgar Hoover was so focused on Dr. King.


[20:12:54] COOPER: Controversy and accusations have swirled over the last day and a half since the former DNC chair publicly claimed that the Democratic primary was rigged in Hillary Clinton's favor. Not only top Democrats but also the president himself weighed in.

Here's his comments from today.


TRUMP: You want to look at Hillary Clinton and you want to look at the new book that was just put out by Donna Brazile where she basically bought the DNC and she stole the election from Bernie. So, that's what you ought to take a look at.


COOPER: Well, now, for the first time, Clinton's former campaign manager Robby Mook speaks out. He'll join me in just a moment.

But, first, breaking news, a new document comes out that sheds light on the story.

CNN's Brianna Keilar joins me now.

So, what exactly is Donna Brazile claiming that prompted this reaction from President Trump.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, so in excerpts of her new book, Anderson, Donna Brazile alleges that an agreement that Hillary Clinton's primary campaign signed with the DNC gave the Clinton campaign control over who the party hired, how they spent money, even before winning the nomination. But we have read the documents. This is the key one here.

And what she's talking about isn't backed up really by what we read in these documents.

What we do know is that the DNC was broke following the Obama years. The Clinton campaign wanted the DNC in good shape for the general election, presuming that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee. So, they were, as is allowed, joint fund racing with the party. They eventually raised more than $50 million for it. And they did have this agreement that they would get, for instance, input on a communications director higher during the primary. In the end, the DNC didn't stick to that.

But this idea that there would be input on much money would be raised, how that would be spent for general election expenses, that actually didn't happen. And this document further emphasizes the committee's neutrality when it came to making decisions related to primary debates.

COOPER: So, Brianna, I mean, the Democratic Party was pro-Hillary Clinton, right? I mean, even if that wasn't why they made this formal agreement.

KEILAR: Absolutely. The Democratic Party apparatus was pro Hillary. All of the big Democratic money and staff, talent mobilized behind her. They really shut out all of the other potential establishment Democratic candidates from putting together viable campaigns by doing that.

[20:15:03] And that's why there was an opening, only for a candidate like Bernie Sanders who was not an establishment Democratic candidate.

But the document is not how -- is not the key here. It's not the key to how the field was cleared for Hillary Clinton. The key was actually and ironically, people like Donna Brazil and other people. That is the ridiculously ironic part about this.

Remember, Donna Brazile resigned from CNN because she was caught in the WikiLeaks e-mails funnel a question to the town hall campaign, trying to help Clinton out. And now, she is promoting her book, which certainly exploits party division that she helped create and the bottom line is this is really the side of politics that just grosses everyone out, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Brianna Keilar, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining me now is Robby Mook, the former Clinton campaign chairman.

Robby, thanks for joining us.

So, you heard Brianna's report. The memo says your campaign got to weigh in on who the communications director was before the general election. Was that fair?

ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, Anderson, I just want to underscore some things Briana said.

First of all, when the DNC approached both campaigns about a joint fundraising agreement, they were broke. They weren't going to make payroll. They were not going to be able to transfer down money to the state parties to keep them operational. They were in a really bad place.

Both the Sanders and the Clinton campaign signed joint fundraising agreements. So, we both thought it was a good thing to sign for. The only difference was Sanders didn't raise any money and we did. The DNC --


COOPER: Sanders was raising money -- I mean, you guys had big money donors, Sanders was getting more donations from, you know, individuals and smaller donations. No?

MOOK: Well, and that would have been great. It would have been great for the DNC to raise jointly with him. Hillary turned over her email list to the DNC after the election was over. So, it's really important for those low dollar donors to be part of the DNC process.

But the DNC came to our campaign and we said, we need help. You know, we're not prepared for the general election. We created the memo of understanding that what was there. It wasn't about the primary election. And as Brianna said, we were very frustrated with the DNC many times. The idea that we had any control over there was pretty laughable.

COOPER: Right. But --

MOOK: We simply put guardrails in about how the money that we raised needed to be focused on the general election activities that were really going to matter.

COOPER: Right. My understanding is that communications position actually had to be field even before the primary races.

MOOK: Well, that's correct. I mean, this is a perfect --

COOPER: So, that wasn't just about the general election, right?

MOOK: Well, no, it absolutely is. The purpose of the DNC while the primary's going on is to hold Republican candidates accountable. And there was nobody filling that post. It was a big problem. It was something that any Democrats should have been worried about.

That's why if you look in that memo, we explicitly said a date whereby they have to hire someone because we were distress that there was no lead voice out there speaking out against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and everybody else. COOPER: But was the Sanders campaign also offered the chance to enter into an agreement or they too could have a say in who the DNC was hiring?

MOOK: They were. And if you look at the memo that came out this evening, it explicitly says in that memo that we as the Clinton campaign acknowledge that other campaigns were welcome to in turn an agreement with the DNC of their own. In fact, honestly, Anderson, we would have beyond welcomed that. More resources coming into the DNC, we would have loved to have partnered with the Sanders campaign, talking about, you know, all the issues of how to organize and prepare for the general election.

We had a very good working relationship with the Sanders campaign, particularly as the primary came to a close. I worked very closely with Jeff Weaver. We've got a lot done. We got the unity commission that Sanders set up. So, we would have welcomed that.

COOPER: Right. But, clearly, Jeff Weaver and the Sanders campaign believe that things were rigged against them.

MOOK: Well, here's what I'll say about this. You know, politics is politics. People have to go there -- you know, go out there and say what they need to say. I think it is -- I think it's dangerous to say this contest was rigged for the following reason --

COOPER: Because Elizabeth Warren, by the way, is also saying that now.

MOOK: Well, and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are important part of our party. They're an important part of our politics. We can't make the case to working people in this country that we're going to be -- that we're going to stand up for them and we're going to fight for them, if we're fighting each other. We can't do that.

Hillary Clinton won this primary with almost 4 million votes. That's a bigger league that Barack Obama had over her when she lost and conceded in 2008. The idea that the DNC could rig a contest frankly is laughable.

And here's the thing I'll say. You know, the caucus contests within the larger primary are the contests that are run by the party. You know, the primary elections are run by secretaries of state. Those contests, the caucuses that were run by the party, Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly. So, if we look at what the party actually in this process, Bernie Sanders won those contests. I think we only won three of them and we barely won Iowa.

So, there's just no evidence to back this up. I understand that it's convenient. Some people like -- you know, they want to be angry of what's going on. But we've got to focus our anger on Donald Trump and this outrageous tax plan that the Republicans are proposing.

[20:20:02] COOPER: So, is this just about Donna Brazile trying to peddle a book? I mean, because as Brianna mentioned, you know, through somebody who didn't work at CNN, she gained access to one town hall question and she gave that or at least attempted to or in an email give it to somebody in the Clinton campaign, which is completely unethical. She lost her job. You know, she -- I mean, I frankly view it as a huge betrayal of everybody who work at CNN, the fact that she did that.

I don't see her attempting to -- in any of those e-mails attempting to give information to the Sanders campaign. It seemed like she was more than happy to cozy up to the Clinton campaign. And now, she has a book to sell, she's now spinning this yarn.

MOOK: I feel like all this is water under the bridge. And Donna Brazile has served our party for 30 years. She's been a champion for Democrats. It was my honor and my privilege to work with her as chair of our party. I look forward to working with Donna --

COOPER: Do you think it was appropriate for her to do that about a town hall question?

MOOK: I don't honestly know the specifics of it. It sounds like CNN looked into it and took action as they saw fit.

But again, Anderson, I'm not just interested in these things in the past. This is why we got to move beyond 2016. We have a governor's election less than a week away in Virginia. We've got critical midterm elections.

And I can't say it enough -- this tax plan the Republicans are proposing is outrageous.


MOOK: So, that's the fight. That's where we need to be as Democrats.

COOPER: I do also want to ask you about the dossier, obviously, because we haven't had you on the record on that. Were you aware that the Clinton campaign was at least in part funding it, along with the DNC? But I only ask you about the Clinton campaign, because the campaign chair, John Podesta, says he had no idea. I talked to Brian Fallon, he said he had no idea.

I mean, it seems like nobody in the Clinton campaign has stood up and said, yes, I know this and I was the one who helped sign off on it.

MOOK: Well, look, I didn't know that we were paying the contractor that created that document. I didn't. I'll tell you, you know, what I did know, and that is that when we started to look into Donald Trump's business dealings, it was this massive tree of LLCs and shell companies. We were overwhelmed. We were out of our league on it, frankly.

And so, I asked our lawyer and I gave him a budget allocation to investigate this, particularly the international aspect. My understanding is that dossier is a product of not just research that was funded by our campaign, but also by Republican donors and that they put that altogether and gave that to the press. COOPER: Right. Jonathan Steele was hired I guess after the

Republican people started it and dropped out, and once you guys were paying for it.

But I mean, did -- I know the dossier was something that was compiled later. Were you or other people in the campaign or who in the campaign was seeing the memos that Jonathan Steele was putting out? I mean, you guys are paying for opposition research, you must have been seeing the fruits of that throughout the campaign. No?

MOOK: Well, we were getting briefings that were put together by the law firm with information. I don't know --

COOPER: And they wouldn't say, we've hired this guy Jonathan Steele. And he's got sources in Russia and this is information in drips and drabs?

MOOK: What I know is that --

COOPER: Christopher Steele, sorry.

MOOK: Yes. Well, what I've known is what I've read in the press, that I think it was $1.2 million that were spent on this overall project. And that I think it was $120,000, some fraction of that, went to this Steele company. So, I don't -- I don't know who else contributed to these reports. I --

COOPER: But were you seeing --

MOOK: This package for us.

COOPER: You must have been seeing -- I mean, you're saying getting briefings from the lawyer, you must have been seeing -- what, was it a memo form? Memos of, OK, no, this interview and this person is saying this about the president's business dealings in Russia or this activity?

MOOK: Well, when you're on a campaign, you have a strategic team and you come together and go over all this information. So, our internal team was presenting information, our lawyer was presenting information, you know, and we -- and we sort of learned things in pieces.

I just can't attribute to what piece of information, you know, came to us at one time or where it came from frankly. You know, as campaign manager, there's a lot going on and so I just wanted to know what was important to find out. And our lawyer did that.

COOPER: OK, just finally, is there somebody at the DNC -- I mean, you were the campaign manager, is there someone at the DNC, maybe at a slightly lower level who knew about Christopher Steele? I mean, who didn't just know, OK, we're paying this lawyer and, all of a sudden, magically this information is coming back to us who actually knew the nuts and bolts of who is gathering the information and how it's being gathered? MOOK: I don't know the answer to that. It's possible someone at the

DNC knew about this. We had dozen of resources on the campaign. In fact, one of reasons we were trying to get resources into the DNC was to make sure that they had a lot of opposition researchers working on all these Republicans. I unfortunately don't know the answer to that.

COOPER: And to those who say, you know, this could have been some sort of collusion -- if Christopher Steele was being fed disinformation from people who had connections to the Russian government that essentially your campaign was helping pay for, for some of that disinformation.

[20:25:09] MOOK: Well, look, they chose what to put in that dossier. So, I can't speak to that.

I'm proud that we were able to assemble some of the research that has brought this to light. I mean, Anderson, you have to remember, I went on television in the first day of the convention, my colleagues were on television saying something is wrong with Russia. Russia hacked the DNC. Russia, when John Podesta was hacked, Russia hacked John Podesta, and frankly, it didn't get a lot of attention.

And I'm just glad that it's coming out now. I'm glad that there was research there. I can't speak to what, you know, what Fusion was doing. But I'm just glad that we're paying attention to this now and, frankly, I wish we paid more attention to it on the campaign.

COOPER: All right. Robby Mook, appreciate your time, Robby. Thanks so much.

MOOK: Thanks.

Up next, breaking news from the JFK assassination files. This is pretty explosive stuff, explosive FBI dossier not about JFK but on the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We'll explain what's just been released.


COOPER: There's breaking news tonight coming from the National Archives and another batch of JFK assassination files. They include though an explosive FBI dossier, not on JFK, but on Dr. Martin Luther King. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. reflects then Director J. Edgar Hoover's deep suspicion and obsession with Dr. King, which was certainly no secret at the time and it speaks to just how far he and FBI and went to try and discredit Dr. King.

The dossier released today contains items that are both and I say, explosive but they are unsubstantiated.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us now with more.

So, what are you learning? What's in this though?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, among the more than 600 documents released late today by the National Archives is this one. A never before seen file titled Martin Luther King, Jr., a current analysis. It's dated March 12, 1968, and includes a number of explosive allegations about the civil rights leader who was assassinated 23 days after this report was first compiled.

Among the claims detailed, Martin Luther King Jr. was involved in extramarital affairs and other sexual activities that if true and real publicly would have been devastating to Dr. King and his movement.

In addition, there are pages and pages detailing Martin Luther King and his organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with alleged ties to known communists. And finally details about supposed financial improprieties by Dr. King and the SCLC.

Now, I want to stress that the FBI under Director J. Edgar Hoover at the time had been investigating Martin Luther King for years at this point, in the hopes of finding damaging information and that we have no way of corroborating these allegations, Anderson.

COOPER: So, what does this have to do with the assassination of JFK? Because I don't quite get why this document would have been in there with that.

TUCHMAN: Exactly. That's one of many questions we have tonight, Anderson. Considering the document has no mention of John F. Kennedy or his assassination. The only clue we have in this biomark secret, it's also stamped, reviewed by the FBI JFK task force and dated May 8th, 1994. Meaning, it was reviewed by the archives, JFK task force 23 years ago but kept secret until today.

COOPER: There are still thousands of JFK assassination documents that have not been released right?

TUCHMAN: Right. And that's also unclear what's going on with that. We do know last week President Trump sent out this tweet, that read part, after strict consultation with General Kelly and other agencies, I will be releasing all JFK files other than the names and addresses of any person who was still living. And they are being released on a rolling basis by the national archives, there is still thousands of pages yet to be released so much more to come. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, thanks very much, appreciated Gary.

There's a lot more ahead to cover throughout this hour and the next two hours in (INAUDIBLE). I want to bring in Doug Brinkly and also Clayborne Carson. Dough is a presidential historian, Clayborne Carson is the founding director of Stanford University's Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Dr. Carson, of, you know, this being released the information? And is any of it new to you, because I feel like a lot of it's been sort out there before?

CLAYBORNE CARSON, DIRECTOR, MLK RESEARCH AND EDUCATION INSTITUTE: I think the allegation that King had affairs during his life time were certainly have been out there. J. Edgar Hoover conducted a vendetta against King. And it started with the allegation that he was -- had ties to communist. That really didn't leave anywhere, there were people who were associated with Martin Luther King who had in the past had ties to the communist party. But that investigation did not produce anything of great merit.

King fired the one person he felt was still involved with the organization. He continued to have a contact with Stanley Levison who had once been a member of the communist party. But the result of that was that Hoover then got organization from Robert Kennedy to tap the phones and bug the rooms of Martin Luther King and that led to information about King's sexual activity which Hoover tried to peddle to news media. He was pretty unsuccessful during his life time. And I think what's striking about this is that this was a file that would have -- that could have been released in 1968.

And in that climate, it probably -- you know, can hardly guess how people would have been responded to it. Because it's simply an allegation.

COOPER: Right.

CARSON: By an unnamed person, an informant. And it's striking that I've gone through some of the JFK documents that were released. The FBI and other federal agencies go to great lengths to keep out the names of informants and their own activities. But, in this case it seems like what they're really doing is invading the privacy of a -- of a person assuming that this is true, they're definitely invading the privacy of the off spring.


CARSON: Of this relationship. Then again, the relationship itself, it's not -- you would -- the person that we should be asking is the informant.


CARSON: Whoever gave this information?

COOPER: Doug Brinkley one thing that's so interesting about this is that how sort of the public understanding of Dr. King has changed over the course of time. But you look back -- you think back to this time and what a revolutionary figure he was. You know, we think of him through a particular lens, but he was also focusing on the Vietnam War on poverty in America in addition to the request for social justice and civil rights.

But you really you get a sense of the fear that concern the FBI had about him because he was such a transformational figure.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIALL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. And I agree with everything Dr. Carson just said. But let me add, what makes this a bombshell document is the date, March 12th, 1968. You know, only weeks later Martin Luther King Jr. will be dead.

[20:35:02] And the FBI keep on wondering what did the FBI hound King to his fate. This is not a good document of the FBI. There shows that deeply paranoid about what they call the Washington and spring project. The march on Washington of '68, the poor people's march.

But the lead of the document is the fear the FBI has that Stokely Carmichael, and Black Nationalist have teamed up with Dr. King in the first wave civil rights Christian group and are now going to have buy in America in the spring of a quote Dr. King saying apparently this FBI document, he wants to jail who's going to be the only safe place to be this spring because there's going to be so much violence in America. So the fact that the FBI gene (ph) this out, I mean a couple weeks later, when the Johnsons doesn't run for relection at the end of March of '68 and there's this fear that this summer may be a very, very violent one. And their following King around in this document right up till March. I mean there's stories about sex parties in Miami in 1968, some of this was almost x-rated stuff in these 23 pages of smearing really of Dr. King.

COOPER: Well, Dr. Carson that's thing about this, I mean when I first heard about this, you know, there's obviously concern that something -- something like this could harm Dr. King's legacy. But when you actually start to look at it -- I mean it really just reflects -- seems to just reflect terribly on J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI at the time.

CARSON: Well, I think again the -- if this had been released in 1968 the first thing anyone would have done would have been to question the source. These are anonymous informants who are spreading dirt about martin Luther King. Obviously some of them are black informants who probably disagreed with King's position on the war and other things at that time.

So the motivates of these people need to be questioned as well as what they're alleging about Martin Luther King. And I think that when we look closely at this, what we see is that there is a person who is trying his best to damage Martin Luther King's reputation. And, you know, I wish in some ways that -- well, I wish obviously that that person had been named --


CARSON: -- so that then we can go to that person and say, well, what was the basis of this.

COOPER: Clayborne Carson I appreciate you being on. Doug Brinkley as well. Thank you.

As we seen in recent weeks and months over again, as White House is troubled the facts in time with the truth. Now you might say all White House is lie, but "New York Times" call (INAUDIBLE) since Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is taking to whole of the level talk to him, next.


[20:40:18] COOPER: To see someone in government not tell the truth isn't certainly nothing knew. And to hear White House press secretary spin information certainly is the new either. But have we now entered a new age of misinformation? Frank Bruni from the "New York Times" wrote a piece about that today, focusing on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the trouble with the truth goes back long before this week though, everything you're about to hear in this sound bite is actually not true.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it's appropriate to lie from the podium or any other place. So, the process has people calling us a joke and calling us a laughing stalk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Specifically said he received a phone call from the president of Mexico.

SANDERS: They were direct conversations not actual phone calls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So he lied he didn't receive --

SANDERS: I wouldn't say it was a lie, that's pretty of him, bold accusation is. The conversations took place, they simply didn't take place over a found call that he had them in person.

I have heard from a large number of individuals that work at the FBI that said they're very happy with the president's decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president keeps repeating this claim with the highest tax nation --

SANDERS: And that's what -- we are the highest tax corporate nation, that's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's not what he say, he said we're the highest tax nation in the world.

SANDERS: The highest corporate tax nation seems pretty consistent to me, sorry we're just going to have this maybe disagree.


COOPER: Joining me is "New York Times" op-ed columnist Frank Bruni, and Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Frank, you write that you watched Sarah Sander's press briefings with what you describe that a shear awe. I know you didn't mean as a compliment. In fact you said, "We've surrendered any expectation of honesty" and you actually miss Sean Spicer. Can you just explain that?

FRANK BRUNI, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: When I watched Sean Spicer, he would get this panic look, he would appear to me flustered, like he kind of new he was a man swing -- swimming against the current and he was never going to keep his head above water.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders seems utterly at piece with the fictions that she peddles. And I find that disturbing. I also find that disturbing I don't see her attracting the sensor, the ridicule that Sean Spicer did not. I think that's because nine months into the Trump administration, we are also accustomed to being lied to, we so accustomed to seeing, you know, villain portrayed as victim, bad portrayed as good. And that really worries me, because I worry, you know, bigger than her I worry that the Trump administration is lowering our standards for government.

COOPER: You think this has became normalized?

BRUNI: Absolutely, yes. And I think it's not normal. Listen every press secretary -- I know -- I've been around for a while as have you, every press secretary that we've watched over the decades has tried to make his or her boss look, you know, as heroic as possible, portray them in the best light. And to that extend, some of what she's doing is just par for the course, but she's goes the extra mile.

COOPER: Scott, I'm wondering what you make of what Frank is saying and the job that Sarah Sanders is doing.

SCOTT JENNINGS, FMR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, two things, number one I think that if what you're wishing for is for a White House press secretary to walk out to the podium and trash their boss or correct their boss or sort of line up with where the press corp is on Donald Trump, that is not going to happen, it's not going to happen in this White House, it's not going to happen in any White House.

And number two, I appreciate what Frank says about previous press secretaries but I think that he's describing Sarah Sanders and Sean Spicer before her is though they have taken it to a level we've never seen. When I remember watching Josh Earnest at the podium lie about the nature of President Ronald Reagan victories, I remember watching him lie about the $400 million and ransom we paid Iran. And I don't remember anybody showing outrage about the White House press secretaries then. So I tend to think people are viewing these press secretaries through the lens of their own personal hatred for the president and that is rubbing off on how they view the staff.

COOPER: Frank?

BRUNI: Well, I respectfully disagree. I think if you watch -- especially over the last week and that's why I wrote the column at the end of this week. If you watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders' behavior at the lecture (ph) this week, there is such a contempt that she and so many other people in the Trump administration show for the media that I think is beyond what we seen before.

COOPER: But Frank the moment we heard earlier when Sanders was press on the president's assertion that the U.S. has flood out of the highest tax nation on earth, in fact that's not accurate and she -- you know, this response, I guess the president's allies will say look, she's helping him clarify his remarks.

BRUNI: Well I mean she is, but she's also pretending that's exactly what he said. And there was a moment this week when Jim Acosta said, you know, the president said that our justice system is a joke and a laughing stalk and she got into it with him, she corrected him and she gave him a different version that it didn't in fact was farther from his verbatim words than Jim Acosta had explain. There is this reflexive, you are all wrong and we are all right.

JENNINGS: I think frequently Sarah is in a position of having to explain again and again and again what Donald Trump does so well. He absorbed people's emotions and then he reflects those emotions particularly of his base in a lot of his comments.

[20:45:09] And I think that is frequently mischaracterized as her lying or as her trying to clean things up. But she's explaining what Donald Trump is doing and it continues to baffle the media that that's what he does very well. And so I think that press secretaries over the years have evolved from public information officers into essentially the chief White House punt. They are the core reflection of how the occupant of the Oval Office sees the world. And we're holding Sarah and we held Sean to a standard that I'm not sure we held previous press secretaries to.

Maybe we should have and that's a debate we could have. But use the word contempt. I mean if she holds you all in contempt, I mean I would respectfully say that the media frankly looks like they hold Donald Trump in contempt and so the contempt is flowing both ways. I tend to agree, (INAUDIBLE) seating down the contempt would be better. But this is not a one way street when it comes to contempt in this briefing room right now.

COOPER: Frank?

BRUNI: It's not a one way street, but to pretend that we can evaluate Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the context of all previous press secretaries is to pretend something bigger which is the Donald Trump is a truly normal president. And would you really say that Scott?

JENNINGS: No, I agree with you. This is not a normal presidency as compared to what we've seen. But I do think what is normal is the White House press secretary essentially being a reflection of how that particular president views the world. Now how he views the world may be different and abnormal as you put it, but that doesn't make the press secretary abnormal and what they're doing which is reflecting how their boss sees things.

BRUNI: When she was asked about the president's ridiculous and, you know, incredibly inappropriate tweet about (INAUDIBLE), she kind of went on this reverie about what a heroic man he was and how he's so tough and strong and that's why America loves him. It's always a little bit too much and too far. Now if that's what the president demands, that's what the president demands, but she is under no obligation to continue serving him.

JENNINGS: Well, not only is that what the president demands in this case but what you just described to her is exactly what Donald Trump does. I mean you would probably argue that he always goes too far, that he takes thing too far.

BRUNI: I would argue that, yes. JENNINS: So again, I go back to this point, the White House press secretary has become a reflection of the thinking of their boss, it was true for Obamas' press people, for Bushes, for Clintons, you know. And it seems to get more pronounced as time goes on. But it is not unique to this White House. Even if the presidency is not normal it's not unique.

COOPER: Well Frank Bruni, Scott Jennings, appreciate, thank you.

Up next what president Trump says about a military judge's position to got give Bowe Bergdahl prison time for deserting his post in Afghanistan? We'll also talk with retired Navy seal to be hatch what badly wounded in the search of Bergdahl as units K9 was also killed. Have spoke in court, came face to face the man he nearly died searching for, his take on Bergdahl sentence in a moment.


[20:50:11] COOPER: Bowe Bergdahl is a free man tonight not heading to a prison cell for a lengthy incarceration. A military judge had sentenced Bergdahl to a dishonorable discharge from the army in no prison time. The decision after pleaded guilty to desertion in misbehaving in front of the enemy.

In 2009 as you may know, Bergdahl walked away from his base in Afghanistan, he was captured by the Taliban and was held for almost five years. Bergdahl had said he spent most of that time living in a metal cage or chained to a bed repeatedly beaten and tortured. Bergdahl was release in a controversial prisoner swap for five on Taliban detainees.

Today on Twitter the president slammed the judge's sentence writing the decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our country and to our military. Several service memberships were badly wounded looking for Bergdahl in Afghanistan. Their lives, their families lives has been forever changed. Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch was shot in the leg searching for Bergdahl, he's gone through 18 surgeries, had to retire for the military and experience a lot of difficult days resting with PTSD.

Also his unit's combat dog name Remco was killed in the search for Bergdahl. Jimmy Hatch now runs a nonprofit group call Spikes K9 Fund which buys life saving ballistic vests for military dogs and police dogs around the country. He testified during Bergdahl's sentencing and it's an honor talk to him tonight.

Jimmy, first of all what went through your mind when you hears what Bergdahl sentence was and he wouldn't serve anytime in prison?

JAMES HATCH, RETIRED NAVY SEALS: There's people right now in military brigs that are serving sentences and dishonorable discharges that did less than go AWOL and get a lot of Americans hurt and chanced a lot of Americans with getting killed.

COOPER: For you, with the most important thing I understand was that he be dishonorably discharged? HATCH: Yes it was and, you know, so I guess I got my wish with regard to that.

COOPER: Yes, I mean Bergdahl's defense cited, you know, his treatment in captivity is a reason for him to avoid prison time saying, essentially, you know, he's been through an opposite as a Taliban hostage. I've heard you say that you don't really think he was -- he gets the right to call himself a hostage.

HATCH: Right, well essentially he was a volunteer now, wasn't he? So, I guess --

COOPER: I'll walking you off you're saying he volunteered to be a hostage?

HATCH: Right exactly.

COOPER: Do -- he's actually now -- in my understanding is that, they're going to appeal the dishonorable discharge which he received this part of the sentence?

HATCH: I think it's absolutely insane that anybody could look at Sergeant Bergdahl's actions and objectively say, well, you know, he was not dishonorable in his conduct. He certainly was dishonorable in his conduct.

COOPER: And I've heard you say that in the courtroom you got the sense that people in the courtroom didn't fully understand what it's like to make the kind of sacrifices that people in combat zones, that your team that you and others are making every day.

HATCH: That -- yes. I felt in one particular instance there was a Senior Chief Mike Tuson (ph) who is retired who is the handler of Remco, the K9 that was killed saving my life and others that live that night.

COOPER: Remco he alerted your team to the presence of the Taliban who were right there?

HATCH: Had the dog not alerted us, we'd probably all be deceased. So there was a point where the Senior Chief Tuson (ph) brought Remco's vest to the court room and that prosecution entered it as evidence. And I remember Colonel Nance said, you know, what is, what's the purpose of this? And --

COOPER: That's the judge?

HATCH: -- prosecutor and Major Sean (ph) -- right. And the Major Sean (ph) have said, hey, you know, is to show that the government lost -- government property essentially. And I wanted to speak up really badly and I looked at Major Sean (ph) and he kind of shook his head like don't do it. But what I wanted to say was, it means a hell of a lot more than the government lost some property. It means that the dog saved our lives and then was taken out of the battle from my crew from there on out.

COOPER: You talk about yourself having a life sentence and others who were injured as well having a life sentence.

HATCH: Yes, for sure. I mean think about Master Sergeant Allen, you know. Takes him an hour, his wife it takes her an hour to get him out of his bed. So essentially Master Sergeant Allen has a life sentence. He can't speak, he can't interact with his family. But his wife has a life sentence, his children have a life sentence. You know, Specialist Morita (ph) who was hit in the hand with a rocket-propelled grenade can't use his hand, you know, that's a life sentence.

COOPER: I was just reading online an article and you were talking about, that you actually met -- you actually shook hands with the attorney for Bergdahl?


[20:55:02] COOPER: And you actually thanked him for what he was doing, the line you said was -- I found it really powerful. And I don't wan to misquote it, but it was something -- do you remember what you said to him?

HATCH: You know, I wanted those guys to know I was grateful for them representing him in spite of the fact I definitely dislike their client, they take the constitution seriously and they want to do their best for him. And I said thank you for that. And then as I -- it was Mr. Fidel, he's civilian representation. As I walk away, Mr. Fidel, look at me and he motion for me to come over to him, put his arm around me and quietly is when a hotel lobby. He said, hey man, your fly is undone. So it's hard to hate a guy like that, you know.

COOPER: But I mean, I think that -- I don't know. I'm not sure I would have the strength of character that you have to go up to the person defending this person and thank him for, you know, doing something which is constitutionally mandated.

HATCH: I don't know that it's strength of character. I guess, I just feel like this is a crazy time we live in and there's, you know, Twitter tacticians and comment section commandos, you know. I think the legal system that we have, while flawed certainly I think it's important to recognize that even with sergeant Bergdahl, somebody who obviously I don't have any great positive feelings for, you know, he was represented. He's an American and he deserves his day in court, so to speak. I may not be happy with, you know, Colonel Nance's decision, but I didn't see all the evidence.

And I don't know what's going on in his head. But I can -- I'm an American too and I can say, hey man, I think it should have been a lot more severe.

COOPER: Is there anything else you want to say, Jimmy?

HATCH: I think that the cultural discussion around this type of thing is unfortunate, and I wish that we collectively -- you know, there's very few Americans were out in gun fights on the regular, and a lot of people like to comment on what that means, but I think it should be a little respect for it I guess.

COOPER: Jimmy Hatch, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

HATCH: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: A quick note, Jimmy has a book coming out about his nearly 25 years in military service including how he was wounded in the search for Bowe Bergdahl, it's called "Touching the Dragon and other Techniques for Surviving life's and Wars." It's going to be publish in May. And if you'd like to help him purchase life saving ballistic vest for police dogs around this country, check out his organization, he did a lot of great work.

Up next, President Trump arriving in Hawaii the first stop before he heads to the Asia, he can't escape the Russia probe cloud. We're going to get a live report from Honolulu ahead.


COOPER: We begin the hour with late development in the Russian investigation. One of the president's closest former aides a long time friend will be testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, we're join in a moment by one of the Congressman who'll be questioning him.

Comes at the end of a landmark week, won guilty plea to indictments. New insight into contact during the campaign with Russians and some hints at least the district strategy the special counsel Mueller may be following for the investigation.

[21:00:08] The president had just landed in Hawaii on the way to Japan, the first stop in a marathon tour visit Asia. Before he left, he again call for the Justice Department, his justice --