Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Lawyers on Robert Mueller's Side and Lawyers for the President Met Just Last Week in a Face-to-Face Interview; Newest Member of the President's Legal Team; Some GOP Lawmakers Warn Trump Against Firing Mueller; Stormy Daniels' Attorney Believes President Trump's Silence on Case Speaks Volumes. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 19, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


[20:59:53] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the second hour of 360. After a Presidential tweet storm of the Russia probe and breaking news on the possible shape of Presidential testimony in it, so on the table tonight, the President's new claim of witch hunt, in all caps, of course, his tweets storm targeting Robert Mueller and more.

Also tonight, the lawmakers who say firing Mueller would be dangerous, dumb politically, suicidal, but are doing nothing to stop it, and later a new twist in the Stormy Daniels saga.

We begin with the breaking news. And CNN's Pamela Brown at the White House.

So what have you learned about this meeting between the President's legal and Mueller's team?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've learned that lawyers on both sides, on Robert Mueller's side as well as lawyers for the President met just last week in a face-to-face interview. This is the first one they've had in recent weeks after informal discussions about a possible interview. But they met face to face, and I'm told by a source familiar along with my colleague, Gloria Borger, that during this meeting, Robert Mueller's team was able to provide more specifics, more granularity on the topics that they would like to discuss with the President if an interview happens.

That includes anything under the umbrella of the firing of James Comey and Michael Flynn and what the President knew regarding Michael Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak this past December.

Also, Jeff Sessions and his role in the firing of James Comey. So these are new details about what Robert Mueller's team is interested in speaking to the President about, going beyond what we've known previously, and also it signals, Anderson, that Robert Mueller's team is still very much interested in learning what the President knew about certain issues and possible collusion and obstruction of justice.

And it signals that potentially this investigation is far from over. As we know, an interview hasn't happened. There have been ongoing negotiations between the President Trump's team and Robert Mueller's team, but I'm told by a source familiar that the President is vacillating in terms of a possible interview.

As you know, he has said publicly that he wants to sit down with Robert Mueller under oath and do an interview, but as it becomes more clear that the Russia probe is nowhere near wrapping up, it seems, the President is sort of changing his posture in terms of an interview. And we also saw that spillover on Twitter over the weekend when he went after Robert Mueller by name for the first time. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, I understand you're also learning more about what was behind all the tweets the President was sending out this weekend?

BROWN: That's right. I'm told by a couple sources that the President is growing increasingly agitated because he's realizing what he's been told by his own lawyers, that this is going to wrap up soon -- we heard last year it was going to be November, then December. Here we are in mid-March, and there were all these signs that it isn't going to wrap up anytime soon.

So as he's realizing this and that what his lawyers have told him isn't really happening, he's growing increasingly frustrated essentially, and that is one of the reasons he went on Twitter to go after Robert Mueller by name.

Also, the fact that just recently Robert Mueller's team subpoenaed the Trump organization for business records, that also sort of added to this feeling that this is not going to wrap up anytime soon. And as you know, the President is very eager for this to. And as it becomes more clear that that is not happening, the President is growing more angry by the day, Anderson.

COOPER: And the new attorney that the President has hired, what do we know about him?

BROWN: Right. Well, as you'll recall just, what, a week ago, the President said there was no plan to hire anyone to his legal team. He said this on Twitter. And then just today we learned that in fact Joe DiGenova, who is a former U.S. Attorney in D.C., a longtime Washington lawyer, will be added to the legal team very soon.

Now, his role is seen as someone to do more of the P.R., to sort of speak to the media and speak publicly for the President. So he is someone, though, Anderson, who is known to peddle conspiracy theories. He said as recently as January that he believes FBI agents started concocted the Russia investigation to prevent Trump from becoming President. Obviously the President liked what he heard. He likes Joe DiGenova, and now he's hired on the legal team, it appears. Anderson.

COOPER: All right Pamela Brown, thanks very much. As you know, the House Intelligent Committee is no longer in the Russia investigation business. Republicans having pulled the plug.

With us now, a Democratic member of the committee, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. So Congressman, in light of the President's direct criticism of

Mueller and the investigation, are you concerned that Mueller's days as special counsel could be numbered.

ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Anderson, I've been long concerned that Bob Mueller's days are numbered and that the President is not the only one who is trying to limit them, that he has a number of my colleagues, Republican colleagues in Congress, all the way up to Paul Ryan, who are enabling the ouster of Bob Mueller.

So look, you know, the President can hire 100 lawyers, but there's only one version of the truth. So it's time for him to tell that version, end the games, and just come clean with the American people.

COOPER: You've said that Congress should immediately vote to protect Mueller. Some of your Republican colleagues over the weekend warned there would be serious consequences if the President did go so far as to fire him. But -- I mean, have you -- is there any real appetite from Republicans to take legislative action to try to protect Mueller?

[21:05:03] SWALWELL: No, Anderson. Actions speak louder than Sunday morning shows or tweets and all I hear from my Republican colleagues every time the President attacks Mueller, calls the investigation a hoax, or fires somebody who knows something is, you know, good talk. But we actually are not helpless. We can put into law and cement Bob Mueller's role and also make sure that he can only be removed if a panel of independent judges thought that he should be removed for cause. That's the best thing we could do, and we need leadership right now from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell on that.

COOPER: I want to read something that you tweeted to the President over the weekend after McCabe's firing. You wrote, "Gloat now, but you will be fired soon, and it's not going to be down cowardly as you've done so many who served you. There's a storm gathering, Mr. President, and it's going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs. You really believe that?

SWALWELL: Yes, I do. And I actually probably should have put an "s" after storm. There are storms gathering. I think the best outcome for the American people is if a check is put on this presidency this midterm and that he is impeached at the ballot box in 2020. But by his own actions, he's inviting obstruction of justice charges both in the criminal courts and also, I believe, to the House Judiciary Committee.

COOPER: The fact that the President's team has hired a lawyer who has alleged that the President is being framed by a group of FBI/DOJ officials, what do you think that says about the President's legal strategy going forward?

SWALWELL: Well, there's no floor of the FBI building that they are not willing to torch to peddle their conspiracy theories. And for me, as the son of a cop and a brother to two cops, it just really offends me that he would just project upon all police officers that they are politicizing their investigations and that they're out to get him. He ran on being the police-friendly candidate, and right now just to protect himself, he and his allies keep attacking the cops. I think that's wrong, but that seems to be the legal strategy. And, Anderson, as a former prosecutor, when you don't have the facts or the law on your side, you put the government on trial, and that's what I'm seeing right now.

COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, I appreciate your time.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

COOPER: I want to bring in our panel, Gloria Borger, also Ryan Lizza, Michael Caputo, Robby Mook, Anne Milgram, and Asha Rangappa.

Gloria, I mean, does it seem to you that we're entering sort of a new phase, particularly with the President's tweets, the new lawyer?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it does. This is the Donald Trump phase of the Donald Trump defense. This is being run by the President. He's the one who wanted Joe DiGenova in. I think this was not welcomed warmly by John Dowd, who is leading the interactions with Mueller.

COOPER: We should point out the President just last week said, I think it was fake news the idea that he was going to bring on another lawyer.

BORGER: Right. And I think this affects the President's feeling that the strategy, which was the Dowd strategy and the Ty Cobb strategy, which was kind of, Mr. President, hold on here. Mind your matters. Don't tweet about Mueller. This is going to be over. Just hold on. And suddenly the President looks at the subpoena for the Trump organization. He looks at these questions that Pamela and I are reporting, and he says, whoa. You guys are wrong, and I need to start pushing back and discrediting Mueller right now.

COOPER: Michael, I mean, if the President's attorneys told him that this was going to be wrapped up in thanksgiving or New Year's, I mean it's understandably he would be annoyed by that.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Certainly. And I think also, let's not forget the terrible end game I guess south of Pittsburgh in that Congressional special election last week. It doesn't look good for the Republicans in 2018, the midterm elections.

And if, in fact, we lose control of the House of Representatives, the President will most certainly face impeachment no matter what comes out of any of these investigations. And I think -- you know, adding DiGenova is a good idea. I also believe that they need to be looking at working the jury. I mean, it's unique to the American system that this is an actual -- the jury, the House of Representatives they can actually start having a charm offensive and bringing them in and talking to them because I think the more we look at 2018, the midterms, the worse it looks for the Republican Party.

COOPER: Robby?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with Gloria. I think the major development that happened is the Trump organization itself is now under threat. I think that financial risk to the President is what's striking deep. It's also his family --

COOPER: You think that's what sort of launched the President on this?

MOOK: I do. I think that really triggered something different because up until now he was able to obfuscate with conspiracy theories and so on. But at the point that there are true financial connections between his company and Russia or at the point that we can fill in the motivations perhaps for coordinating or cozying up to Putin, i.e. building the hotel in Moscow, he doesn't have much more to grasp at, at that point. So I think that's a big change.

I would also posit, I don't know the Democrats are going to give Trump the gift of trying to impeach him right away. I think the smart thing for Democrats to do is subpoena, which nobody has done -- subpoena his taxes, subpoena his administration. Bring those guys in every day and ask them the hard questions.

[21:10:11] COOPER: You say it would be a gift? Why? Because it's so political?

MOOK: Because it gives the President the opportunity -- who by the way, will be running for re-election, to say all the Democrats want to do is rip me out of office. I don't think we should give him that luxury. I think we should hold him accountable for his behavior, hold his administration responsible for how they have pillaged the government.

BORGER: He'll still say it by the way.

MOOK: But it's interesting that this has been brought up, I bet the President will start alleging this. They're trying to impeach me. They're trying to impeach me. Let's wait and see what the Democrats decide to do. I bet they'll just end up subpoenaing --

COOPER: I mean, Ryan, it is reminiscent of the campaign when candidate Trump kept talking about a rigged system. I mean that seems to be sort of now all the institutions are rigged against him.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All rigged against him. And that's probably why he liked this new lawyer, who has been on Fox News saying that the entire investigation is rigged, and it's a conspiracy at the FBI to frame Donald Trump.

And look, this legal team, as Gloria has been reporting, has been divided for months now between those on the sort of Ty Cobb wing of the team, who wants cooperation, no crazy tweets, and the other side of the team, who has been -- and some of the outside political advisers who have been saying you've got to go out there. You've got to do what Caputo is saying. You've got to work the reps, and you have to attack Mueller. And Trump has obviously switched -- after listening to this sort of moderating forces and the sort of Washington wise men, legal types, he's now taking the advice of the more radicalizing legal advisers. COOPER: Anne, I mean, you were attorney general in New Jersey. Did you question whether your investigator's personal political beliefs would color their investigative abilities or their judgment because that's what --

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's what he's saying, right?

COOPER: They're saying?

MILGRAM: Yes. No, I agree. I think that is the allegation here. But, you know, I've been a local prosecutor in New York. I was a federal prosecutor at the Department of Justice. I was a state attorney general, and I ran a police department in Camden, New Jersey, and I can tell you that I never knew the political affiliation of a single officer or agent that I worked with.

You know, it wasn't an issue, and I'm sure I worked with Democrats and Republicans, but we didn't talk politics. And so I do think this is part of a larger strategy really to discredit the investigation, and it happens to be that the FBI and Robert Mueller and his team are the ones standing in the way, so they're the ones being attacked as institutions and as people.

COOPER: Asha, I mean as a former FBI person, I mean, do you bristle at the idea that FBI agents can't separate their personal political beliefs from doing their job?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. I echo what Anne said. I didn't know who voted for whom, and this was after a controversial election in 2000. So it just wasn't talked about.

I think the President is now facing the reality that there is really no good way out at this moment. This investigation is moving like burning wood toward the White House, and as Gloria mentioned before, there's a subpoena to the Trump organization. There's the questions that Mueller wants to ask. He now knows that McCabe had written memos, and his legal team, in addition to giving him false promises, have probably also told him -- I mean they probably made it clear that he could get into trouble with this interview, that he can't talk his way out of it the way he did with "The New York Times" or when he goes on -- you know, talks to the press. So I'm sure that makes him very nervous, and he thinks that he can win this in the court of public opinion. And that way he doesn't have to fight it in a court of law.

BORGER: Well, and if he doesn't testify, he has to have a good reason for it. And the reason is, why would I testify before these corrupt people?

RANGAPPA: I agree.

MOOK: And just for a reality check on this too, if we look before Election Day, I don't want to relitigate the election, but the FBI wasn't doing Hillary Clinton any favors. I mean arguably the FBI was really coming down pretty hard on Hillary, talking about her investigation when they refused to talk about Trump's. Comey sending those letters, all the leaks that were pouring out of their New York field office. So all of a sudden on Election Day, the FBI changes their political views. I mean, it doesn't make sense.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Much more to talk about including more on the President's newest attorney and theories he believes about the FBI trying to keep Donald Trump from becoming president.

Later, our Congressional Republicans trying to warn the President against firing Robert Mueller while at the same, as Congressman Swalwell puts it actually enabling him, you have a chance to hear what they have to say so you can decide for yourself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:18:02] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight. Both sides in the Russia probe hashing out the details of possibility question of a sitting President as we learn more about that. We're also learning about the newest member of the President's legal team or rediscovering it. Joseph DiGenova, after all, is not a new face in Washington. However, his hiring could signal a new direction for the President's defense. Randi Kaye has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSEPH DIGENOVA, ATTORNEY: They didn't like Donald Trump. They didn't think he was fit to be President.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Joe DiGenova, a regular T.V. pundit and the man President Donald Trump is adding to his legal team in the Russia probe. He's the same Joe DiGenova who has, in recent months, pushed the theory that the FBI and the Justice Department were working to frame Trump, fabricating the Russia investigation in an effort to keep Trump out of the Oval Office. Evidence to support that theory is scant, yet still his notion is based in part on thousands of text messages exchanged between two FBI officials.

DIGENOVA: Everything that we have seen from these texts and from all the facts developing shows that the FBI and Senior DOJ officials conspired to violate the law and to deny Donald Trump his civil rights.

KAYE: DiGenova is just one of the conservative T.V. personalities Trump has brought onboard. He joins former CNBC Contributor Larry Kudlow and former Fox Anchor Heather Nauert, now fourth in line at the State Department, not to mention all the other Fox anchors Trump leans on for advice.

KAYE (on camera): DiGenova and his wife, meanwhile, have their own law firm in Washington, D.C. Before opening the firm, he served as the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia. Most of his focused has been on cases involving corruption and fraud.

KAYE (voice-over): The hiring of DiGenova may all be part of a more aggressive approach. DiGenova is expected to engage the media and mount a strong defense of the President. Often DiGenova delivers personal attacks, sounding a lot like the President himself. Listen.

DIGENOVA: The FBI has lost almost all of its credibility and regrettably its integrity as a result of the conduct of James Comey, who remains America's most dirty cop. Whatever you make think of Loretta Lynch, and she was a lowly, lowly attorney general by virtue of her conduct.

[21:20:16] KAYE: Like Trump, one of DiGenova's favorite targets is Hillary Clinton.

DIGENOVA: There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton, and if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.

KAYE: He slammed President Barack Obama too.

DIGENOVA: He has become a man drunk with power, abusive of the constitution, and lawless.

KAYE: Back in 1997, Joseph DiGenova once wrote a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed related to then-President Bill Clinton, saying an independent counsel should not be reluctant to prosecute based on some vague concept of Presidential immunity, adding, it would teach the valuable civics lesson that no one is above the law, words that may come back to haunt him and his client. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. Michael, do you think he's a good choice for the President?

CAPUTO: I like Joe DiGenova. I always have. I'm going to have difficulty getting used to this turtleneck look that he brings to television, but I'll get past that, I suppose. I think that the President sees the kind of optimistic view that his attorneys were sharing with him at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018 is not in fact true. And I think he believes more what Joe DiGenova is saying. I think between the three of them, they're going to give him pretty solid representation.

COOPER: It's interesting -- I mean, the choices the President seems to be making, Larry Kudlow, people with television experience who maybe he's looking for sort of more people out there defending him.

BORGER: Sure. Jay Sekulow, one of his attorneys, has been out there. But he's also trying to do this case. So it's difficult. I think DiGenova will be part of the legal team and not just part -- I'm told not just part of --

COOPER: Pundit team.

BORGER: You know, a spokesman team.

COOPER: Right. BORGER: I think it has not been well received by John Dowd, the way this was rolled out. And you know, the President did it in a sort of a way that's Trumpian, and Dowd has been the major communicator with Bob Mueller. And I think this is going to cause a difficulty internally. And so you have Dowd, who says, you know, we've got to be careful even though he tweeted over the weekend, I think at the President's prodding. He tweeted at Mueller at the President's prodding. Then you have DiGenova, who is very aggressive. But he's a former U.S. attorney, so he has a stature that Dowd does to counter Dowd. I think that's probably what the President was looking for here.

LIZZA: If you are a white male in your 60s and 70s and are a conservative T.V. pundit, you have a very high chance of getting a job in the current administration.

CAPUTO: He may have disqualified you.

LIZZA: Not only T.V. pundit, you know, does looking yet, but I mean, the Kudlow and DiGenova, I mean he's -- I mean he's watching cable news and picking his staff now based on the people and how much they defend him.

COOPER: You will think that's really how he's doing it?

LIZZA: Absolutely. I mean, there's no doubt about it. We know it's been reported quite frequently that he watches hours of cable news a day.

COOPER: Right.

LIZZA: The way to get in front of him, the way to get a policy issue in front of him is to go on Fox News and talk about it. We have examples of lobbyists actually successfully doing this. There's no doubt about it. He's watching DiGenova, and he's one of the few lawyers out there that is willing to spin a kind of -- these sort of crazy conspiratorial ideas about, you know, deep state trying to frame --

CAPUTO: What's so crazy about it?

LIZZA: With no facts, Michael, he's saying that the Justice Department and the FBI are framing Donald Trump.

CAPUTO: Well, then we find out that Strzok and Page were texting back and forth about getting in front of a judge who, you know, I guess it was Contreras is his name. Then Contreras goes ahead and recuses himself from the Flynn case.

RANGAPPA: So Michael, all these indictments that have been brought, Michael Flynn, what they had on George Papadopoulos, the 13 Russians, all of that was just framed by the FBI.

CAPUTO: Oh, no, not at all. I believe Papadopoulos lied to the FBI. I believe General Flynn crossed ways with the FBI in his interview. I believe those Russians needed to be -- RANGAPPA: So you believe there are real crimes?

CAPUTO: I believe that the Russians were messing with our election in a low-level way on Facebook and Twitter, and et cetera. I believe all of those things are legit. But in the end, when you say that DiGenova is completely off base, saying that there is some kind of a conspiracy to go after Donald Trump, I think you're ignoring what we see in the kind of post-Obama American democracy, and that is that the American people can elect whoever they want as President. But if that President goes against the whims of the elite in Washington, D.C., they're going to do everything they can to destroy him. That's what DiGenova believes. That's what I believe.

[21:25:10] BORGER: John Dowd believes that too by the way. John Dowd believes the same thing Joe DiGenova believes. The difference is this is a media strategy. John Dowd has always said go dark on the media. The media is irrelevant. The President believes the media is not irrelevant. The President watches the media. He's a consumer. He plays in that arena, and he wants somebody who says, no, you know what? We got to turn them around, and the media is not irrelevant. So I think Dowd and DiGenova are on the same page that way.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. One of the most understated men in Washington, a former CIA director weighs in with an outspoken attack tweet on the President of the United States.

Also tonight, why Stormy Daniels' attorney believes it's strange the President has stayed silent about their legal fight and what we know about the judge who will take up the federal lawsuit when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we mentioned, the President tweeted up a storm over the weekend, and John Brennan, the former CIA Director under President Obama also took to Twitter, not just to blast the President's firing of Andrew McCabe, but to blast the President personally.

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you."

Back now with the panel. Asha, I mean, pretty harsh words from John Brennan there.

[21:29:57] RANGAPPA: Yes, and let's remember that he was a part of the early stages of, you know, some of this investigation. He's the one who called his -- or met or called his counterpart in Russia to say, stand down this operation that you're doing. That's the level that it went to. That's not a normal spy to spy kind of thing. So he knows at least some background of maybe what was going on, which is kind of the context against which I read that because those were very strong words that he used against the President.

COOPER: To Trump supporters, though, is that just evidence of a deep state?

CAPUTO: Well, what's evidence of maybe of the deep state is the Samantha Powers quoting that tweet and saying, whatever you do, don't piss off, you know, Brennan. I mean, at the end of all of this, we see the most political director of the CIA in modern times going after a President of the United States. And we've never seen that. As far as I know, in my lifetime, I've never seen a former CIA director go after a sitting President. And for Trump supporters it smells bad. And you can't blame him for it because this unprecedented.

COOPER: Anne, do you see it as unprecedented?

MILGRAM: So I mean, it certainly is not common. It's not something we've seen often. But Brennan has been outspoken I think since the election, and he has been very forthright in saying that the Russians hacked the election. That --

COOPER: As has Michael Hayden, Mr. Clapper --

MILGRAM: Exactly. That there's a serious national security issue and so I think, you know, he has been out there and basically saying, look, this is a huge issue for the United States of America. He's a little bit hamstrung because a lot of information he has, he can't share. But I think what we're seeing is his conclusions of frustration.

BORGER: In a way, though, doesn't this play into Donald Trump, who can then say, look at how political the former CIA director is. Look at how political the former DNI is. Look, these guys were out to get me with the dodgy dossier and everything else, that by tweeting this, and, you know, I don't deny Brennan's right to say whatever he wants to say. But in a way, it does kind of give Donald Trump more ammunition.

MOOK: Well, and this is the classic Trump double standard. We're talking about people using forceful words against Donald Trump. It is Donald Trump who is insulting these guys. He's been doing it for months, even at this point years. So the idea of the Donald Trump, it's not fair for people to use strong language to criticize him is a absurd.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: I don't think it's not fair because I just think you all going to -- you know, back up and buckle up because this is the way it's going to be. If Brennan and Powers, and all these others are going after Donald Trump, you can expect they set on his hands.

MOOK: Well, they're going after the truth is what I would say. They're not going after Donald Trump. They're going after the truth.

COOPER: It sounds like he's going after Donald Trump. I mean, you can say it's truthful but I mean --

MOOK: No, no, no, but actually -- no, no but this is an important point actually. I think he is trying to clear the way and keep minds and heads level about what's really going on here. The point is every time you pursue the truth with Donald Trump, every time you try to set up the facts to establish what is actually going on, you are attacked in this way. And I think that's what he's standing up to. And I don't like that's the way things have gotten to in this country, but it's where we are.

LIZZA: That's what bothers me a little bit about it is, I mean, you can never criticize someone for speaking their mind as you said and telling the truth. And it's kind of fascinating to see this is what Brennan actually believes. But I can't skip the sense of like this is another example of how Twitter has just destroyed public discourse.

And, you know, we only have a few senior officials who oversaw and saw up close the Russian meddling in the 2015-'16 period, and I think some of these officials, to maintain their authority on this issue, it might be better for them to take a step back and not get into, you know, political pissing matches with the President, as hard as that may be for them.

COOPER: It is interesting there's the thing Marco Rubio faced in the campaign, is do you fight back in a way that Donald Trump fights back, or does it make you look -- you're not going to do it as well as he does it, and it makes you look silly.

LIZZA: He drives everyone to that point.

MOOK: I totally agree with your point. And I think you're making an important point. I will just say having been on the campaign end of this, boy, when you just let Donald Trump keep throwing it at you and you try to stand strong and be the mature adult, the bad child always wins. We've seen this so many times before.

LIZZA: It's different for a campaign and the former head of the CIA. You know, he was someone -- I shouldn't say was.

MOOK: He's defending his reputation, though, in fairness. I get it.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGAPPA: In the wake of McCabe being fired, and I think we're all wondering is Mueller next? So we also have to say that it was a forceful words to basically say, like, you're really trying to cover something up.

BORGER: But he's defending his institution, and this is the problem. You have one institution attacking another institution, and that's what we're watching every day here. And that's what's so disconcerting to people because we're used to these people kind of saying, well, we're all working for the common good and --

[21:35:00] COOPER: Let's get a quick break in. More with the panel ahead, we're going to hear some reaction from Capitol Hill about the idea the President will once again consider firing the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. What Congressional Republicans are saying about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: After a weekend with the President lashing out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team on Twitter, the question once again looms large will the President try to fire him? On the Hill, members of Congress are warning that would not be a good idea, including some Republicans. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The only reason Mr. Mueller could ever be dismissed is for cause. I see no cause when it comes to Mr. Mueller.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I like Bob Mueller. He's honest. He's a very good prosecutor. It would be the stupidest thing the President could do.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think there would be total upheaval in the Senate if that would happen.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When you are innocent, if the allegation collusion with the Russians, and there is no evidence of that. And you're innocent of that, act like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is serious. Firing the special prosecutor? Can you say Saturday night massacre? No, this would not be a smart thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leader may say, well, he's not going to do that. They've said they're not going to do that. A couple weeks ago he said he wasn't firing Tillerson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be an Archibald Cox moment, just there was Watergate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preemptively we ought to say that again. Don't do it. Don't go there. That's a red line you cannot cross.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: How many of those are running again?

BORGER: Not many. Not many.

CAPUTO: How many of those support Donald Trump?

[21:40:00] BORGER: All of them, they're not running. So it's not a little profile in courage there. But I would say about legislation, the President would have to sign it.

COOPER: Yes, Lindsey Graham.

BORGER: Oh, Lindsey Graham is, right? Lindsey Graham is. The President would have to sign this legislation, so it wouldn't go anywhere anyway because then you'd need to override the veto, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that Republicans don't want to touch it. They just don't want to touch it. When they're forced to touch it, this is how brave they are. When they're forced to touch it, they will. But right now they see no need to. The leaders want to pick their fights with the President, and this is not one they're going to take on.

LIZZA: But he does this every few months with Mueller. He puts out feelers to see what the market on Capitol Hill will bear.

BORGER: That's what John Dowd's tweet was.

LIZZA: That's right, exactly. It's to see how many of these Republicans are stepping forward and saying, don't do that. That's a red line. For months now, that has been the red line. But I mean as you mentioned, this was a roundup of the usual suspects on the Hill, Republicans who have been very outspoken against Trump. And you don't see Paul Ryan saying anything. You don't see McConnell saying anything. And the fewer Republicans who speak up, the more Donald Trump thinks, huh, maybe I can get away with this after all.

2MOOK: Yes.

CAPUTO: Please go ahead.

MOOK: No. I just think it's amazing. I think history will judge them so harshly. I don't know. I don't know what to say, and I think it's going to make it harder for them. We talked about this last week. The more the Republicans pull back and refuse to let this go where it needs to go, the more momentum Democrats are going to have when, knock on wood, they win back the House and have subpoena power. They're just -- they're creating the --

BORGER: That's not wood.

MOOK: What that?

BORGER: That's not wood.

MOOK: Oh, yes, well, glass, whatever. I'll knock on some wood later.

CAPUTO: I just think all the hand wringing over Donald Trump's tweets is -- it's a little bit hilarious to me. I think what the President is doing and what he did with these tweets over the weekend, is he's trying to define the terms of the conversation when it comes to the Mueller investigation. But in addition to that, unusually --

COOPER: And he's doing that.

CAPUTO: He is. But he's also trying to define the parameters of the interview. And I think if you watch the President's tweets in the days forward, you're going to see that more and more happening.

COOPER: Do you think the President's tweets have an impact on Mueller?

MILGRAM: So I think a couple things. I mean, I think the President's tweets over the weekend were like the greatest hits of complaints, right? I mean, it was sort of like one after the other after the other. And from a legal perspective, the issue I think is this interview. And look, he's setting it up to say the entire investigation is not legitimate, which gives him the ability to say, I'm not even walking in, right? And so that's what I think.

Also potentially with the new lawyer, you know, he's going to become a lot more aggressive publicly on this. Then he may put himself in the position of saying they're going to ask me about things I've already told them are not -- I have no knowledge about.

COOPER: He can be subpoenaed.

MILGRAM: He can be subpoenaed. And, you know, Gloria and I talked about this a little bit before. He absolutely can be subpoenaed. I personally think the special counsel will need to talk to the President. I do not see how Mueller can finish this investigation without talking to the President. I think he will bend over backwards to make it voluntary. My personal view is that if he won't walk in voluntarily, then Mueller will subpoena the President because I don't think if this is a search for the truth, I don't see how you would want to end an investigation like this without hearing the President's side of the story. And Twitter, to me, does not count.

BORGER: But his lawyers will fight that.

MILGRAM: Completely.

BORGER: They will take that to the Supreme Court. And, you know, the downside for them is this prolongs everything.

MILGRAM: Exactly.

BORGER: But I think they would do it anyway.

MILGRAM: I agree. They would fight it. I agree.

COOPER: Much more with the panel ahead. We've got to get the latest news in the Stormy Daniels' case. What her lawyer is now saying about the President's silence on the issue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:48:01] COOPER: A judge has been assigned to Stormy Daniels' lawsuit in federal court, a district judge appointed by George W. Bush. Full disclosure, I did talk to the adult film actress who said she had an affair with the President and was paid to keep quiet. The interview is set to air on 60 minutes this Sunday. In the legal wrangling over the past few days, Daniels has been threatened with $20 million in damages, but her lawyer says she's not backing down and the President can't fire or intimidate her. Michael Avenatti also says there is something strange about the President's silence about this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: He hasn't stopped in the past from tweeting and claiming every other claim is a witch hunt, baseless, et cetera. There's got to be a pretty good reason as to why we haven't heard from him yet in this case. It is crickets. And I assert the reason for that is he is, and he should be, very, very concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. Also joining the conversation, CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Geragos.

So Mark, a federal judge -- what does the new judge assigned to the case, what do you think it means to the case?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's a very well respected jurist in the central district, used to be a state court judge, has been on the federal bench as you mentioned, appointed by Bush. And thoughtful but generally what happens is, if you do a -- and this is what Trump's lawyers are going to do. They're going to do a motion to compel arbitration. Generally that's going to get granted.

COOPER: Why would that generally be granted by a federal judge?

GERAGOS: In the central district, the federal district court judges have a much higher case load than the state court does. And generally for arbitration California State Law is a lot more favorable to various kinds of ins and outs or kind of threading the needle to get out of arbitration. That's not the case under the Federal Arbitration Act, certainly not the case in the central district. Generally judges are going to lean towards if you enter into a bargain, and you said that arbitration is the way to resolve it, they'll send you to arbitration.

[21:50:03] COOPER: And -- I mean, the President's team want arbitration not only because it's in the contract but because it's out of public view?

MILGRAM: Completely. I mean, I think first of all federal courts generally do uphold arbitration agreements and -- sorry, they do upholds these types of arbitration agreements and so there's no question that in federal court. This is much more likely to go in the President's lawyer's direction. It is part of the nondisclosure agreement. They want to be in a small room with one person out of public view. It's a quite conversation. You're not litigating in a public courtroom where everyone --

GERAGOS: Oh, they're also going to test to run. They've got Judge Connor already issued an order who was assigned by ADR. So they know what they've got. They have a known quantity in arbitration. Why wouldn't -- it would actually be malpractice for them not to compel it at this point because they know that the arbitrator who is assigned is going to do something.

MILGRAM: And keep in mind, the arbitration conversation really is about disagreement whereas I think her lawyer is making this a much bigger conversation. It's not just this question of did -- was it signed about it President, it's also the question of has Michael Cohen by making the statements said things that have nullified the agreement? I mean, it's really a lot broader.

GERAGOS: Well, and he is -- I think he's right to, and Anderson knows this, I think. But my guess is that there is documentary evidence that they don't want out. Otherwise, they would not be fighting this.

MILGRAM: And that's part of the agreement too, right?

GERAGOS: Right.

MILGRAM: Yes.

COOPER: How likely -- the President attached himself on to this case when it switched to federal court. Why would he do that if according to Michael Cohen this has nothing to do with the President?

GERAGOS: There is a new lawyer. The new lawyer is very skilled. He understands what he is dealing with. He knows what the field requires of him and there is no way that they're going to get any action if Trump says he's not in there. If they don't have all parties, then they give Avanetti an argument. So they figured it out. They know what they have to do. You have to have all parties in there and they're going to argue that it doesn't matter if he signed the agreement anyway because it's an adoptive admission by his lawyer.

COOPER: What do you -- the rest of the panel, make of Michael's argument that -- or question of why is the President so silent on this?

BORGER: Well, I think it's a good question. I mean we have a President who tweets about everything. And he's clearly silent. Just because he doesn't want to talk about it, maybe there is documentary evidence as you say that he doesn't want. I also think quite frankly he has a wife. And he doesn't want -- I mean, Melania is upset enough about this, we gather.

COOPER: There may be personal reasons.

BORGER: There may be a very personal reason.

GERAGOS: Can you imagine what the shock must have been when there is $130,000 that's paid and blah, blah, blah, those of us who are married understand that those are very tough conversations that doesn't matter who you are.

MOOK: Well, and in some way this is could -- I'm not a lawyer this could be more cut and dry legally too. Things like collusion or obstruction of justice I think are a little bit more vague than if his lawyer paid $130,000 to aid his campaign by keeping her silent, that's potentially a straight up campaign finance violation if Trump organization lawyers were helping with this, that is a campaign finance violation. So -- and that hasn't been talking about much.

The interesting thing about this whole situation is this could be the cut and dry legal piece that gets them in trouble before any of the other stuff that we're talking about. CAPUTO: I also think -- let's just say, talking about the (inaudible) in the room. This is a woman that has sex for money, who wants more money and I think it's a bad look for the President of the United States to be tweeting about it or talking about it in public. It's bad for the base. It's bad for the people who don't support him. It's bad for his family. There is no upside to it. And, you know, Donald Trump as much as he may be tempted to tweet about things, if there is no upside, won't do it.

COOPER: The federal election laws which you're talking about, do you that I would affect Donald Trump or Michael Cohen?

MOOK: Well, if Donald Trump knew that, that payment -- you guys are the lawyer here, but if Donald Trump knew about that payment, it would be, right?

GERAGOS: Right. And the fact he is now joined with this -- puts him square in the middle of the FEC. Remember the FEC violation is very similar to what happened with John Edwards. John Edwards had baron flying around the mistress in the private jet and to be one step ahead of the media. The irony of all ironies, the lawyer for John Edwards is now Jared Kushner's lawyer. So, you know?

MILGRAM: So Trump would definitely be on the hook on the election question. I think Cohen is on the hook for all kinds of lawyer rules, right? I mean, what he did here, he was not -- lawyers don't do this. Lawyers don't pay $130,000 from their own personal home equity loans, for their clients. I mean, there's a whole host of things.

BORGER: Is that illegal?

MILGRAM: It could be illegal, depending on -- but it's more of a question of -- you're not allowed to do it as a lawyer. It's a code of professional responsibility.

GERAGOS: Right. I was just going to say, it's a rule of professional conduct. And, you know, I saw what he said today. I mean, there was something where he said, look, it's a high profile client. People do it with high profile clients. I said to Anderson, I have forced clients before to settle cases, literally scream or yell at them, advance money in bail situations or when somebody needs bail, but you don't keep that from the client. You have to tell the client. The client has to understand that. Otherwise you're getting to a whole host, as you've say, violations of rules of professional conduct. And that's a problem.

[21:55:18] COOPER: I want to keep your card with me. You're willing to pay bail. I want to thank everybody on the panel. We shall see again that interview is on "60 Minutes" on Sunday night.

The latest for the search of a serial bomber in Austin, Texas, the city is on edge. The unknown attacker uses a whole new tactics, injured two more people and we'll tell you how, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Police in Austin, Texas now say, they are on the hunt for a serial bomber, that's after a fourth explosion in less than a month. The latest happened Sunday with a horrible new twist. Two men were walking in a neighborhood when the device went off. It was triggered by a trip wire which the other three bombs did not have. Both men were wounded. Three earlier incidents involved packages left at homes killing two people and wounding two others. Police obviously are searching for more information.

Thanks for watching "360." Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.