tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 24, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
all the hugging left them so happy that president trump missed a slap. the french disconnection rare for these two. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> at least macron will hold his hand. thanks for joining us. anderson starts now. we begin tonight keeping them honest with some simple questions. if the president hires only the best people, why aren't they still on the job? why are others serving under ethical clouds. why facing so much difficulty. creating a toxic work
environment, allegations being investigated by the republican controlled senate committee handling his nominations. and on top of long standing bipartisan concerns. with all of that, sources tell us he is not bowing out. not tonight at least. releasing testimonials from obama and bush. how does a president who champions extreme vetting of foreigners -- or the country's national security. how does what we have seen again and again over the last year and a half square with the promise the president made again and again during the campaign. >> we are going to make america great again. we are going to use our best people. >> i am going to get the best people. >> we are going to deliver.
>> we don't want people that are b level, c level, we have to get our absolute best. >> we are not using political hacks anymore. >> it is a sophisticated chess match. >> you need people that are truly, truly capable. >> we have to get the best people. >> we have to get the best people. statements don't complainer than that or promises, yet time and time again the record shows this president has failed to live up to the pledge. making personal, bad personnel choices and paying the price. and we are not talking about policy or even political choices that is what elections are for. by bad we mean undisclosed c conflicts of interest bad. alleged corruption bad. poor say
has brought -- >> aren't thinking nicely about our company? i don't think personally he should do it, but it is totally his decision. >> the president said he was not aware of the allegations against dr. jackson and the question of course is why. sources tell us no vetting at all. how did rear administratoral
jackson get the job? >> hands down, no question he is in the excellent range. his overall health is excellent. heart exam like i said was in the excellent category for his age and sex. i think he will remain fit for duty for the remainder of his term if he is electsed. >> can you explain to me how i guy who eats mcdonald's and diet cokes. >> it is genetics. incredibly good genes and the way god made him. >> cnn dr. sanjay gupta says he describes symptoms. he certainly said flattering things and looks good on tv which counts for a lot for the
president. the president chose scott pruitt who has made headlines for conflict -- best people have been hired and fired at a brutal clip. rarely has the phrase serving at the pleasure of the president been taken. as we said, dr. jackson's troubles begins on capitol hill. senator, thank you for being with us. >> great to be with you. >> a number of allegations and a lot of information that you are allowed to share with us. three major allegations and i want to go through them one by on one first of all, the allegation that he improperly dispensed prescription and drugs. do you know what drugs? >> these are drugs that are meant to put people asleep and
meant to wake up. they are prescriptions. the word is that on over seas trips in particular, the admiral would go down the aislew way of the airplane and says who wants to go to sleep. these are called controlled substances for a reason. we have -- >> so go down the aisle and say who wants to go to sleep? what wants to wake up? >> that is the report of the people. people who got ahold of us saying we got a problem. this doctor hands out prescriptions. >> ambien is one of the drugs?
>> i understand he had a nickname in the white house? >> and it was the candy man because he handed out prescriptive drugs like they were candy. >> the white house doctor was nicknamed candy man. >> that is correct. that is what we were told. >> that is not a nickname you want in a doctor. >> the second allegation is that dr. jackson was repeatedly drunk on duty over seas. under which administration? >> it was the obama administration. and the truth is admiral jackson was the primary health care provider for the president. and if you are drunk and something happens with the president, difficult to treat the president. so this is totally unacceptable. and multiple people told us this
was the case. >> do you know under what circumstances he was drinking? >> i believe they were social. comments about him being in the hotel room and couldn't respond because he had been drinking so much. >> he couldn't actually respond. >> that's right. >> someone else had to fill in. >> that's correct. >> was the secret service aware of this do you know? >> i believe the secret service was aware of it but we haven't talked to any secret service. the folks we talked to were active military and retired military. not civilians off the street. military folks that worked in the white house medical. >> so these are people actually worked in the office. >> active duty and retired. >> in the medical office in the white house. >> you talked to as many as 20 people. >> that's correct. >> and these allegations came from multiple people. >> that's correct.
>> the other allegation, the third allegation creating a toxic work environment, allegations of harassment, what is being alleged there. >> and i mean, this is people who were below him, not above him. the people above him, he treated like gold. the people below him, he belittled. lack of respect for their jobs. >> no allegations of sexual allegations? >> none that i know of. >> allegations of harassment, do you know what that entailed? >> toxic work environment that included screaming and belittling and talking down to the employees. as the secretary of the va, you
are the top of the food chain. if you start treating your people, and we have a problem with morale in the va. and i will say this, the veterans of this country deserve better than that. our vetting is not through yet. still have more information to gather. if this turns out to be solidly factual, then we have a big problem with admiral jackson. >> do you have doubts that it is not factual? >> not yet. >> so in terms of alcohol, from what your sources are saying, there were times when he was not able to function in his job. >> that is correct. and other times when he was inebriated and wasn't called upon to do his job.
>> were there times when he was inebriated and not able to do his job? >> we had a good conversation yesterday, chief kelly thought these allegations could be made up and the truth is that he was concerned about them not going through the chain of command. i believe these people did go through the chain of command and didn't get the results and when the nomination came up, they came to us. we didn't go to them. we are following the chain that is out there to get to the bottom of what has transpired over the career of admiral jackson. this is secretary of the largest agency in the federal government. important job and the va, needs some work and if we have a person in that position that has the issues that you talked about
in your opening and plus additional issues in his management style, we have problems. >> exponentially larger, the va. >> it is compounded. and it becomes a huge problem. we have to get the best person we can in the va to take care of our veterans. an obligation that we serve in the people in this military. getting to the bottom of these accusations is critically important and there should be no stone unturned. >> so was he vetted by the white house before the president made this decision? >> that is a really good question, it doesn't appear that he was. >> one thing to be vetted as a medical officer and another to be vetted to take on this management responsibilities. >> you are exactly right. secretaries have a higher level of perfection. >> will the committee reschedule
jackson's hearing? >> it is up to chairman. it is up to the chairman to re, you know, reschedule that hearing. what i anticipate johnny is going to do is over the next week and we are out and we are back in our states this next week. it will allow us and our staffs to do more bipartisan work in getting to the bottom. >> some of the people currently still work in the white house medical unit, do they fear ret trib b retribution? >> of course. that is a problem. some of these people work with him and they are afraid if their name comes out, there will be retribution. >> he will be able to stay in his current job even with these allegations. >> that is a call that the
president has to make. we are in process. sent a letter out on a number of issues. and inspector general reports to get to the bottom to find out what has transpired over the last several years. >> you talked of these allegations being in the obama administration. do some of these allegations go back to the george w. bush administration? >> i don't think so. >> is any of this in this administration in this past year? >> not that we have been reported. >> do you think dr. jackson should withdraw? >> well, look, my goal here is to give folks a fare shake and when we get reports of wrongdoing, it is our job as senators to make sure we get to the bottom of this. the information we got on
admiral jackson is not good. and i told chief of staff kelly if we had that hearing tomorrow, on wednesday, there would be questions asked and we would be very uncomfortable. and he will be under oath. i think it would be wise for the admiral to do self-assessment. and ask himself if this is out there. if this stuff is true, it is certainly not going to happen for him. >> going back to that medication, for him going down the aisle of the plane and dispensing it. ambien is widely used. pro vidal, you need a doctor to know your history, why you need this. traditionally it was narcolepsy. you are supposed to go through
rigorous examination before being prescribed. >> you are correct. i will tell you they are called prescription drugs and controlled substances for a reason. you need to have somebody prescribe them to you. and so consequently, if that happened, i think it is a very, very serious offense for a medical doctor. >> we are told the white house is marshaling testimony from george w. bush and also from president obama. >> once we get through the vetting process and talk to the folks out there, because we are getting new calls every day. >> more people still contacting you. >> not only me, both sides of the aisle, then we will have a good idea. the truth of the matter is, i don't think president obama was aware of this stuff or he
wouldn't have tolerated it. >> senator tester, i appreciate your time. we are waiting to hear a toast from president trump and french president macron at the white house. we will bring them to you live. also the michael cohen question will the president pardon his personal attorney. we should point out he is yet to be charged. the president was asked. and keeping them honest, the president's claim that he never spent the night in moscow. if nothing happened why did the president seem to lie about it twice to james comey in those memos? detail ahead. before discovering nexium 24hr to treat her frequent heartburn, lucy could only imagine enjoying a slice of pizza. now it's as easy as pie. nexium 24hr stops acid before it starts for all-day, all-night protection.
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the president and first lady are hosting the french first family. at an earlier event president trump snapped at a reporter when asked about his personal attorney michael cohen. >> thank you very much. >> stupid question. >> this weekend, a reporter and cnn political analyst wrote about the possibility that michael cohen could flip. and the president. going out of their way to destroy michael cohen and his relationship with me in the hope he will flip. again, the president and maggie go way back.
>> the way the president responded to jonathan carl this is still bothering him. >> however many tweets it was, tweet storm over the weekend is part of it. he is frustrated by this. i don't know what we would be pardoning at this point. i think he hates these questions and hates this topic. >> he clearly hated the article that you wrote as well. and i know you don't like being part of the story, but he obviously, you know, subjected you to his criticism, you know, saying basically he doesn't know you or never spent time with you which is obviously not the case. do you think his reaction to that article is because, i mean when i read that article those details were devastating of the
account based on multiple sources on how he treated michael cohen both in public and private for years and years. >> one thing we know about this president is nothing is ever his fault. when he makes an appointment of somebody for a cabinet position and hasn't been vetted it is not his fault. same thing with michael cohen, it is not the president's fault that he has treated somebody abusively and it could end up, again, may not but may be a factor in a decision about what to do going forward if there is pressure from prosecutors to cooperate. i think anything related to the michael cohen issue in general touches a nerve for him. and hard for him to read that it is possible that michael cohen could flip and possible that he could help do something to make that happen and to be clear, people don't flip unless there is something to flip on. this isn't just being pressured by prosecutors. >> does he not know how he
treated michael cohen or not aware of how he treats people? >> i think it is more the latter. michael cohen has come in for specific abuse in the sense of what michael cohen always sought was an attaboy from the boys. one person said to me, when i said the president has been abusive to michael cohen for many years, they said he is abusive to everybody. it is not in equal parts or equal measures but almost everybody comes in for something at some point. >> did you get a sense of why michael cohen continues to seek the approval and the, i don't know if it is the love or the respect of somebody who has clearly demonstratively treated him poorly. >> donald trump has a history of getting people to seek his approval. i don't think michael cohen is the only person in that role
before. i don't think they had a symbiotic relationship. he does have genuine affection for michael cohen. i don't think it is all just go do this, go do that. my understanding is that he went to michael cohen's children's bar mitzvah. i think that he is good at meeting it out and getting small doses. >> what do you make about what the president said about you and your lack of access. >> first of all, this thing that he comes back to about access constantly is always sort of strange because we don't cover the white house base on whether we have quote-unquote access or not. we don't need permission to cover the president. but in his mind he thinks this is how it works. you read my stories and read whether they come true or don't come true and that speaks for
themselves. >> thanks. >> tomorrow night cnn town hall james comey, truth lies and leadership. answering questions. tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. there is even more breaking news tonight as we said the besieged epa administrator scott pruitt is hanging on to his job. details when we continue. you said $30. yeah, well it was $30 before my fees, like the pizza-ordering fee and the dog-sitting fee... and the rummage through your closet fee. are those my heels? yeah! yeah, we're the same size... in shoes. with t-mobile taxes and fees are already included, so you get four unlimited lines for just $40 bucks each.
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to note we are getting a defiant tone out of the white house when it comes to ronny jackson. we are hearing at this point we know his hearing was postpone as you were talking about with senator tester. the white house does plan to request that his hearing be reschedule. we have been hearing from the white house, that he plans to fight on, and fight against these allegations clear his name and get confirmed. of course we will see if that happens. >> i understand you have new information from your sources about the epa administrator next week. >> reporter: that's right. for a lot of americans this rises to a lot of allegations. and one thing i can tell you is that scott pruitt has hearings
coming up on thursday in the house. expected to be grilled on a host of ethical questions. and i talked to an official here earlier this evening who said they offered to assist scott pruitt to prepare for these hearings and he declined. he refused any assistance from the white house and he wants to go it alone. so the white house feels scott pruitt is prepared to answer policy questions but not these ethical questions. >> does the president still have confidence in pruitt? >> reporter: at this point he does have confidence in pruitt according to our sources but that basically hinging on pruitts ability to advance the president's agenda. they like the fact that scott pruitt has taken an ax to environmental policies all over the country and want to see it continue, at the same time this
ethical cloud hanging over him have become a distraction. some people inside the white house are concerned that the president is sticking with pruitt too long and according to this senior official i spoke to this evening, going to be a lot of people over at the white house watching how pruitt performs at the end of the week. we are all talking about jackson all over the white house. what is looming over the epa is whether or not pruitt can survive. serious questions. as to whether he can. >> all right. thanks very much. also reporting on some of the close oklahoma friends that pruitt came to washington. those friends don't have spotless records. >> reporter: this man albert kelly may be a disgraced former banker having been banned from bank for life.
this didn't stop pruitt of putting him charge of the task force. >> we are proud of our 95 years of service to our customers. >> reporter: back in 2003, kelly was the owner of spirit bank in oklahoma. part ownership of a minor league baseball team. at the time pruitt was making just over $38,000 a year as a state lawmaker. but kelly approved him of a $2 million loan to buy a per percentage of team. ken wagner hired pruitt to work in his law firm.
increased six foeld to have a million dollars. the epa tells cnn that the finances of the team were approved by major league baseball and they met banking standards. dedicated employees who have earned the respect and admiration of epa career employees across the country. but questions of pruitt's past drawing criticism. >> a lot of serious allegations against him that i would want to check out and i am doing it. >> reporter: white house seems to be waning too. >> we are continuing to review a number of reports that you mentioned. >> reporter: two more top advisers who came frwith pruitt are embroiled in latest controversy. receiving $84,000 in raises
through a loophole. pruitt says he later rescinded them. to be clear, when you are talking about hiring friends and former business partners, it is not necessarily uncommon in politics except after this case, it comes weeks. there is an added scrutiny in his past business dealings and relationships. we did see today at least two public letters to the epa and inspector general calling for investigations. so we are likely to hear about this in the coming weeks. >> thanks very much. just ahead discussion about whether the minefield of ethical questions of scott pruitt will amount to anything in the long run.
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beyond your criticism of environmental policy, do you think he can still serve as the head of the epa? >> i think he has been fatally wounded by the ethic scandals. violated law, the luxury lobbyi lobbyist family condo for $50 a night. but only paying for the nights he used it. the hundreds of dollars spent without need on luxury travel, first class travel military air and on the security detail which et epa memos say are unfounded and worst of all, retaliation against whistle blowers. five whistle blowers. and these are not deep state liberals. some of them are campaign people. make senator santorum look like
bernie sanders. no, i don't think he can survive this mess. >> do you think he can survive? >> well, he has been one of the best cabinet secretaries that the president has. if you look at this is being prepared to tom price because of the similarity and travel. the difference between tom price and pruitt, is tom price wasn't able to carry out and deliver on health care. scott pruitt is doing a great job and doing it, the left doesn't like what he is doing, but he is doing it in an effective way and measured way. he is not an anti environmentalist, he is doing more to clean up super fund sites. he is not just getting rid of a lot of the bad obama policies, but moving forward and improving
the environment. >> these ethical questions, does that cast a shadow? >> it does. when you have members from his home state saying we have to look at this, i don't think jim acosta characterization is that people are questioning him, what they are saying, is you need to look at this. we have to give him his day in court to answer these questions as well as us doing our research. i don't think that is people backing away from him. any rational politician is not going to run away, they are going to look at the allegations and find out if it is true and if it is as heinous as norm suggests and out landish things that he has done. every elected official has a travel budget. and the travel budget of the secretary of epa, you know, pales in comparison to a weekend
at mar-a-lago. an entire week of budget. the idea that a few thousand dollars here and there is going to be the end of the secretary of epa. i don't see that. >> the security detail is more than a few thousand dollars. >> hundreds of thousands of dollars and the same with the travel, anderson, and no need for him to take first class travel or no need to take military air. being investigated by the inspector general. the worst part is the retaliation alleged against these people. the allegations piling up and now we are hearing about similar allegations. they are just allegations from back in oklahoma. and when you have senator, who is a good and honorable man. when you have senator imhof
saying there are things that need to be looked at. there are ten investigations into the man and he has turned the epa into an ethics super fund site. >> on the travel budget, let's be clear. he has a budget. is he over his budget? no. you may say i don't like the way he is spending his money. this guy is getting more threats than probably any official in the administration maybe other than the president and probably has some legitimate security concerns. >> but the people inside the epa say this travel spending is not necessary it is under ig investigation and memos inside the epa saying the threats don't merit the extra security. why does he need a $43,000 isolation phone booth in his
office? no prior epa administrator has anything like this. the worst part is the alleged retaliation against these five whistle blowers including trump campaign aides who tried to say don't do this. >> news that pruitt refused white house assistance to prepare for hearings in the house this week. does that trouble you? i mean a white house official says the president -- this week during the hearings could change that. >> that is a calculation on his part. i mean, i suspect he feels like the team he has around him will sufficiently prepare him for the questions and i don't think he is going in there not anticipating he is going to be asked every single question he is asked about and more at these hearings. >> he sat down for a fox news interview that is not going
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we're expecting to hear shortly from president trump and french president emmanuel macron. they are sharing a state dinner. they have the toughest jobs on television tonight, and they join us from the white house. kate, what do we know about the guest list? >> reporter: the guest list is actually smaller from other state dinners. we didn't see any frercnch on ts list, and we didn't see any of the cabinet on this list as
well. there were cabinet members in the president's good graces, if you will. certainly very few democrats, if any, and there were trump supporters, some money folks. tim cook of apple was there. the head of louis vuitton was there to represent the french fashion side. all in all, a much smaller side than past state dinners. >> the first lady -- well, actually, jeff, both presidents talked a lot about foreign policy earlier today. it's interesting to see former secretary of state henry kissinger in attendance. >> reporter: that was interesting. he was walking in and was certainly one of the more experienced members of the crowd. certainly probably has been to more state dinners than anyone else here in attendance this evening. certainly it was a day of handshakes. we've seen this relationship between the two presidents really unfold before our eyes
president macron, brigitte, melania and i are profoundly honored to host you and your entire french delegation for our first official state dinner. and to america's absolutely incredible first lady, thank you for making this an evening to always cherish and remember. thank you, melania. [ applause ] >> tonight we celebrate nearly two and a half centuries of friendship between the united
states and france. yesterday we had a wonderful visit to mt. vernon, a place that is truly special in the history of this very remarkable friendship. [ translated in french ] >> it was there that general george washington met with general roshembach to finalize victories at yorktown, many, many victories. it was there that he returned to visit his adoptive father, george washington. lafayette named his only son after washington as a tribute to respect and love for his dear friend. [ translation to french ]
>> and there at mt. vernon hanging on the wall for all to see is a key to the bastille, a gift from lafayette to washington. this tool of imprisonment had become a symbol of liberty, the desire for freedom that burns brightly in the heart of every french and american patriot. [ translation in french ] >> this is the divine flame
which victor hugo wrote that evil cannot ever wholly distinguish and victory to splendor. this is the flame that spurred american soldiers to join the french on the battlefields of world war i. this is the flame of french resistance of which charles de gaulle rallied his country in 1940. more than a million frenchmen took up arms to defeat fascism in world war ii, and this is the conviction that unites the french and americans all as we work together every day to build a future that is more just, prosperous and free. [ translation in french ]
>> the veins that link our nation are forged in battle, strengthened through trial and defined by the finest principles that make us who and what we are. respect for life, love for our neighbors, pride in our traditions, defense in our heritage and reverence for the rights bestowed on us through grace and the glory of god. [ translation in french ]
>> so tonight i ask that we raise our glasses as i offer this toast to president macron and brigitte, to the french delegation, and to every proud citizen of france. may our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger, and may our sacred liberty never die. god bless you, god bless france, god bless our alliance, and god bless america. thank you. [ translation in french ]
>> mr. president, first lady, dear melania, and dear friends. it is an honor for brigitte and myself to be here with our friends you were so kindly to invite. >> we'll go back to jeff zeleny and kate bennett. jeff, why is this the first state dinner? is it traditional that it's taken so long to have one? >> it's not, anderson. actually, this is a little longer than most state dinners. they're so -- it's no question, though, that the reason that france was picked for this was indeed because the trumps were invited last year to paris, to the bastille day parade, and they were treated to quite a show in paris. i remember it well. that's why the president decided to have france be the first state dinner here. and anderson, i am struck so much by watching the pre