tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 15, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
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or get unlimited. and now get $100 back when you buy a new lg. click, call, or visit a store today. good evening, we begin tonight with breaking news, part of the skyline at paris is in ruins tonight, a catastrophic fire continues to move through the world's most famous cathedral, france's most famous cathedral, notre dame, an iconic
landmark and international treasure known for religious significance and remarkable architecture, now partially destroyed. the president of france saying "i'm sad tonight to see this part of all of us burn," more than 400 firefighters on the scene, some of climbed up the building, while it's burning, trying to save the structure. one firefighter is seriously injured. the fire started nearly eight hours ago, 12:30 p.m. local time. the flames moved fast. the cathedral's 300 foot tall wooden spire was engulfed, you see it right there leaning over and eventually collapsing. the wooden roof is also gone. inside the church here's one of the first photos of the damage. you see where the roof has landed. now look at the before and after. a place of prayer more than 800 years old attracting more than 13 million visitors a year. now, at least in big parts in ruins. there is some good news. officials say the facade and two
bell towers were saved. crowds have gathered, some singing hymns as their beloved cathedral burned just a few days before easter. ♪ others prayed on their knees standing vigil as fire crews battled the flames risking their own lives. nic robertson is in paris tonight and joins us now. what's the status of the fire. >> reporter: the fire according to place anderson is now under control. it is still burning, firefighters are still pouring water onto it. the structure has been saved and some news from the mayor of paris as well, she says that some of the major artworks there, including the relics known as the crown of thorns and the tunic of louie have been safely removed and are safe. the extent of the damage, however, i think the
firefighters can only just be beginning to get their hands on that as they still work to put out the last of the flames. we've seen this evening in the last hour people presumably firefighters high up on the structure of notre dame cathedral with flashlights looking around the roof there. but the roof itself, known as the forest, that has been entirely destroyed, we understand. >> but the facade and the two towers, those are secure? >> as we understand at the moment this is what the french president has said, has told this to the nation after coming here to look at the building himself, he's said that it will be paid for, the repair and rebuilding will be paid for. so the indication tonight, this time, is that those -- those part of the structures are safe, and secure. however, again, i think we just have to caution ourselves here. that the investigation into why
the fire took place has not yet started. it's been initiated. it hasn't started. and the firefighter are still only putting out the flames. it does seem early for a fire of such ferocity to know all the damage and the extent of what may or may not have been done to all parts of the structure, anderson. >> have they said anything about how it may have started? i know you said the investigation hasn't even begun. i wonder if they've made any kind of preliminary statement. >> the preliminary statement from the chief prosecutor indicates that this was not an intentionally set fire. it was not maliciously done. so this was accidental is the starting point for the investigation. what we understand at the moment is that the fire probably began high up in the building in the attic. of course, we know there was restoration work going on at this time.
we don't in the two things are connected. clearly that's going to be a very big topic for the investigators to look at. if they're looking at an unintentionally started fire, then perhaps that gives us some clues towards potentially the restoration works or people involved therein that were the trigger here, anderson. >> such a sad day. nic robertson, thank you very much. as nic mentioned the cause of the fire not yet known. officials have suggested it could be connected to the restoration work under way. notre dame is irreplaceable, religious relics, joining me to talk about the fire fight itself and the iconic history of the church is michael davis, a chair of architectural studies at mount holy oke college in massachusetts, and thomas van nessen, former fdny commissioner who served during and after the
9/11 attacks. when you saw this in terms of the pictures you saw what did you make of the burn itself and the fight to stop? >> if you've been around a while you immediately think it's a construction accident when you see all the scaffolding. we've had so many of them here in the city that have begun with welders, people working with any kind of a flame that start something, they don't know it's burning, they leave and it gets going. gets air and starts burning overnight. >> that's pretty common. >> pretty common. we don't know for sure. you need an investigation, but i would bet that's what's happening. if they were working in the eves in the attic, then it makes more sense what happened. that's a lead roof. when they're pouring that water on the outside it's not penetrating. if it started on the inside, only recently we put in st. patricks a dry system and a dry chemical system that prevents this type of thing. >> it's interesting because i thought -- i have a house that has a lead roof, i thought that
was a good thing. but it lasts a long time. that's interesting water doesn't get in it. >> it needs to be put out from underneath in that attic space or teve space, it's an expensiv system to put in but it would have been prevented this whole disaster. >> the aspects of the cathedral's infrastructure, are they the same aspects that made it a triumph of engineering when it was first built? >> certainly. the cathedral, when it was constructed, was briefly the tallest structure in western europe. so where the fire broke out was very high aboveground. and i might add, too, that the structure of the roof was arguably the most original part of the building. it had survived pretty much
intact from the middle ages until today. and was a real monument and testament to the achievements of the craft of carpentry in the middle ages. >> the firefighters weren't only having to focus of getting the fire on the roof under control, but then you also have priceless artifacts inside and artifacts of significance. the crown of thorns jesus was believed to have worn, a piece of the original cross that jesus was believed to have been crucified on, those are incalculable, and just in terms of religious significance, incalculable. >> that's exactly right, anderson. and as the commissioner can tell you, you know firefighters are generally very connected to the areas that they serve. and no doubt the initial responding companies, the first two or three alarms to the cathedral not only understood the severity of the fire but also the significance of the
building that it was in. and for all of the reasons that have been point out, whether it's access or height or difficulty with the water supply, it was pretty evident early on in the initial 20 minutes that this was going to be a bad fire. they were behind the eight ball before they ever even pulled out of the fire house with this type of fire. so at some point it becomes a command decision to decide what parts of the building you believe you still can save and what artifacts can you deploy teams in the area to get those out as safely. as you noted, maintain some of that historical significance from that building? i have to just mention, i find paris firefighters to be incredibly well trained just as urban firefighters to begin with. the fact that they were able to control the fire spread as much as they did, and save a large portion of the building, including the two bell towers, it's a tremendous effort.
i think any firefighter that you ask that does this for a living would tell you that this is a significant fire fighting event and those firefighters should be praised tremendously. >> commissioner, do you agree with that? >> yeah, they're terrific, they're young, they're military in paris. >> oh, really, they're part of the military. >> yeah, they're part of the military. after they do their time in the military and the fire service they go out to the fire departments around the rest of france. you get a young aggressive group of people, and i would think it's a tough call for the chief, the fire chief in charge because he had to decide when is that roof going to collapse? >> i'm wondering, i mean, you don't want to send firefighters into the church itself if the roof is going to collapse, obviously, you can't. >> no. and if he knows, like the chief mentioned, the locals know. they know it's a lead roof. they know it's very heavy. you don't know how fast that will be compromised. you might just have to burn a small part of it to make the
whole roof collapse. maybe it doesn't burn through. that was burned so viciously there was very little. the last picture you saw was very encouraging to me because there's not a lot of fire material on the floor of the cathedral. it must have burned so violently it's mostly ashes down there. that makes me think they may be able to preserve -- >> that's the picture you're talking about. that looks better than you thought? >> that's encouraging to me. it's not, you know, 30 feet of debris, well i don't want to compare anything to the trade center. but it's not, you know, stuff that's -- smoldering for days. it looks like they've got this fire out. >> that -- it's interesting that you could look at that and -- to me it looks obviously terrible. but that's interesting from your -- >> to me it makes me think that all the statues are going to be okay. we've done that at fires here in new york city. the statues survive. they're marble, they're unbelievable. paintings from the heat, i don't
know. >> commander, do you agree that that picture looks better to you than perhaps to a non-professional. >> i saw it a few minutes prior to to coming on set here, and i was encouraged by the lack of smoke condition i saw at the floor level and as the chief mentioned it looks like a good majority, 30, 40 feet is largely unobstructed by debris, a good cleaning company, especially that's something that's that hois forically significant will do a good job. what's also noted one of the challenges is where things were going to fall. heavy timbers, a large span of roofs, the steeple that came down, you have to be close to the fire to get any resources towards it. as the commissioner mentioned if i'm the chief of department for paris you have to decide where you're going to place your resources so that they can still do good but they don't have a steeple falling on top of 40 firefighters as they're trying to position the apparatus.
they did a tremendous job, given the volume of fire, the intensity of the fire and the size of the structure itself, i'm tremendously impressed by their efforts. >> michael, from an architectural standpoint put into context the uniqueness of this building in terms of just human achievement for the time it was built? >> yes, i think it's a cathedral that uniquely reflects really the development and maturation of gothic architecture. you can follow the successive phases of gothic architecture from its 12th century beginnings in which there was this desire to unite tremendous height and scale with really transcendental
logic. this is one of the first -- really, the first building to fully utilize and exploit the potential of the flying buttress for building this new kind of structure with paper thin walls and enormous windows filled with stain glass. and so it really tells a story of gothic architecture. the most ambitious structures of the age and of european culture at the time. >> fascinating. michael davis, i appreciate your expertise, greg favor as well, thank you so much, really fascinating stuff, really appreciate it, commissioner. we should also point out the paris police put out a statement saying the fire is now under control. those are live pictures you're looking at. now some insight on the sacred grounds of notre dame, the cathedral is where emperors came
to be crowned. great leaders were laid to rest. and joining me now, delia gallagher. father moon, how important a symbol is notre dame for catholics and the catholic church as a whole sh. >> it's central. there's no other place in europe, maybe in the world that so represents catholicism. >> and delia, i mean, the vatican, what have they had to say about this today? >> anderson, as you can imagine pope francis came out as quickly as possible with a statement expressing his closeness to french catholics and the french people and also a word for firefighters and all of those helping in the situation, the vatican has been following it closely, and they came out with that statement just earlier this evening. >> father -- notre dame is one of the most well-known structures in europe, if not the world. it is also a cathedral, but also
just a church for everyday parisians, regularly held masses there, remaining a community centric house of worship. >> it's the headquarters of the archbishop of paris, there are masses celebrated there, baptisms, funerals and weddings. it's a paris church. it's also the heart of catholic france. france is often called the eldest daughter of the church. this is the heart of that eldest daughter. as a symbol it works on many different levels, one reason why you see the vast outpouring of emotion in paris, but worldwide. >> delia, notre dame also has some of the most famous relics in christian history, items brought out during holy week. do you have a sense of what they are, or can you explain a little bit about what they are? we don't know right now the status of the art works inside the building or relics. >> we don't, but it's one of the things, anderson, that i think makes this event so poignant
because it's happening at the beginning of holy week, which is the holiest week for christians around the world and it commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of jesus which culminates on sunday and easter sunday. inside notre dame you have what they claim to be the crown of thorns that jesus wore for his crucifixion, which is commemorated on good friday. and they have always had their venn ration on friday of that crown of thorns. that's one of the most important relics inside that church. we don't know the status of that. and another one is part of the cross, they say, of jesus' cross. so those are two very important symbols for catholics and for christians around the world. and they are celebrated precisely in this week, which makes this event obviously all the more touching for catholics around the world. >> father, it's also the -- i mean, just -- there's the building, there's the
significance as the church, but there's also just the history of human beings expressing faith inside that hallowed structure, human beings which bring prayers and, you know, confessing. and meeting. and hearing scripture. and, you know, talking to the deepest part of themselves and the deepest part of their faith and speaking that out. it's the history of everything that has happened inside that building. >> no, that's very beautifully put. it's not simply the relics and, you know, whether or not they are historic or authentic. the faith of the people, however, is authentic. as you say it's layers and layers, centuries and centuries of that -- you know, i was talking to a jesuit friend of mine living in france a few minutes ago. he said it's a unique place because of the artistic, historic, poetic and religious and secular parts of france come together in that one structure. even on top of the faith you're talking about that people have
expressed there so beautifully, you know, you have it as kind of a secular symbol of france. so it's invested with meaning, and so many people's hearts which is why i think you saw so many people outside praying and moving, very moving today. >> delia, i said this to somebody else today, but given what this building has survived historically, i mean is survived the germans occupying paris. it survived the nazis. it survived both world wars. it survived, you know, the revolution, played a role with napoleon. it's extraordinary what has -- the people who have gone through those doors who have knelt in the pews, in the aisles, you know, the events that have swirled around this building. >> there's something in the nature of these buildings which does regenerate, which does rebuild. there is also this long-term view, if you want, of these holy sites which have gone through centuries of devastation and yet
have been rebuilt. >> father martin, delia gallagher, i appreciate it, thank you. more on the notre dame tragedy next, i'll talk with a world renowned author and french philosopher about the impact of today's horrible fire beyond the physical destruction. later the justice department announcing a date for the mueller report to be given to congress and the public. when political factions are preparing for arrival as you can imagine. itso chantix can help you quit "slow turkey." along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first and ease into quitting. chantix reduces the urge so when the day arrives, you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix, you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
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made with fresh milk and real cream. more breaking news now the mayor of paris is giving praise to the fire crews and first responders who saved these major art pieces from notre dame. this photo was posted on twitter a short time ago, the artifacts are in a safe place, and people in paris are standing vigil singing hymns, take a look. ♪ joining me tonight on the phone, bernard, when you first saw the images of notre dame burning what went through your mind? >> what went through my mind was that the heart of paris was burning, that the soul of france was burning. and that for my christian
sisters and brothers it is a tragedy. it is a sense of their life that is burning. but beyond that it's for europe and civilization something like a real -- something happened there. i don't know why. i don't know how. but i have this feeling that something was happening very heavy in the history of my country and of the west. >> for those who in america and around the world who have not been there, who have not seen it for themselves or who don't know the history can you talk about the significance of this cathedral for paris, for france, and what the loss means? >> the loss, it's a loss in
terms of duty. the wooden roof of the cathedral was built in the -- between the 12th and 13th century. it's a big loss on this regard. but it's a big loss also because notre dame to paris is really one of the beating hearts of the french civilization. it is -- the kings of france -- so many big and important celebration were done there. the biggest rendezvous of the french history in a way or in another went through the
cathedral, it's a holy place for christianity, but also in secular terms the spirit of france. >> and it is -- it's extraordinary to think that this is a cathedral that survived the reformation, the french revolution, two world wars, the city occupied by germans. and now this has happened. the worst damage in 800 years. >> exactly. paris has survived so many -- the spirit that intended, in the mind of so many bar barrians in the eight last centuries had the will to destroy this cathedral. but they never could. their arm was always at the last minute impeached, if i dare say.
and today this terrible accident made the drop -- the most radical of the revolutionary of 1792 and '3 could achieve. >> can it be rebuilt? >> of course it will be rebuilt because at the time where we are speaking the main part of the cathedral is apparently resisting and holding firm. so it will be rebuilt. but how can you rebuild eight centuries or nine centuries of history? how can you rebuild from the elements of wood who have the age of half of all christianity. how can you rebuild the chills
and the whispers and the memories of the whole country and of the whole civilization? you can, of course, rebuild fake parts of it. but the original with its eternal youth and the real age will never be rebuilt. >> i'm happy to talk to you on this day. i'm sorry it's under these circumstances but that your words help. thank you very much. >> thank you, anderson, thank you. well, coming up with breaking news on president trump's personal finances, why deutsche bank has received a subpoena from a house committee when we continue. r. with a terrain management system for... this. a bash plate for... that. an electronic locking rear differential for... yeah... this. heading to the supermarket? get any truck.
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president trump organization. the redacted version of the 400-page mueller report will be handed over to congress and the public this thursday. white house fishes are telling cnn's pamela brown that no matter what's in the report they believe it won't change public opinion too much because the top line conclusions are already known. before the broad cast i spoke with eric swalwell, a member of both the house, judiciary and he's running for the democratic presidential nomination. congress swalwell is the white house's confidence justified here? they've had three weeks to solidify a narrative around robert mueller's conclusions whether it's accurate or not. >> good evening, anderson. and first let me just express my -- the grief that we have with the french. we grieve with them as they've lost such a historic cathedral. always been such good partners to us in our times of loss. we're thinking of them. but the white house as it relates to the mueller report, anderson, i think that the fact that they're unwilling to tell the attorney general to release
everything shows a consciousness of guilt. the president knows what he did, what his team worked with, and the efforts he took to obstruct. and i think that's why he is backing away from the earlier pledge to just have the full report released. >> the attorney general has stated that there will be as few redactions as is legally possible in order to ensure transparency. do you expect we'll see anything less on thursday? i mean, do you believe that? >> well, what i can tell you, anderson, we will see the full report eventually, not as fast as we'd like. most of us are pretty impatient because it was a long investigation. we paid a lot of money to see it. but the president is outnumbered now. we have the subpoena power and judicial precedent on our side. again, if the president is 100% exonerated he should just order the full report. if we get anything less than the full report we will seek to have it sent over to congress. of course we should protect sources and methods and ongoing investigations but anything else should be seen.
>> do you believe barr will release as much as he can legally? >> the attorney general seems to be, you know, doing the exact opposite of jeff sessions. he was conflicted and so he recused himself. i believe the attorney general is also conflicted because of his prior submissions to the department of jus itice about h views on the president and obstruction of justice. the way attorney general barr is acting is embedded. he is par -- the validity of the investigation, even suggesting that the department of justice or the intelligence community was spying on the trump administration. so i have very little faith in attorney general barr at this point. >> a lawyer who's dealt with mueller's team told axios that their guess is it's going to look more obstruction to the casual eye than it might actually be to a legal eye or legally speaking. do you believe that might be the case? >> well, we've seen obstruction already in plain sight and now i think we'll just read the legal justification for why it meets that standard.
but again, you don't have to, you know, have access that mueller has to see that the way the president has obstructed, he fired the person investigating him and then bragged about it to lester holt during an interview and also bragged about it to the russians when he invited them the next day after firing comey to the white house. but i also believe that although we all accept that mueller did not find evidence of collusion that goes beyond a reasonable doubt i believe that you're going to see evidence in this report that the president and his team and his family and his businesses did receive offers from the russians, did invite them as the president did at a press conference and did not tell anyone in law enforcement. and that is not the standard we want for conduct from a president of the united states. >> just lastly, your committee and the financial services committee issued a subpoena to deutsche bank this afternoon seeking information about loans they gave to president trump and the trump organization. we've been covering the deutsche bank side of this for a while now. what exactly are you hoping to collect from them?
>> anderson, we want to know if the president or anyone in his family is financially compromised, not just to the russians because we shouldn't assume he's faithful to them. he has worked, you know, with the saudis, with other countries, in ways that are certainly, i think, below the standard of conduct that we would accept. but also the president could clear all this up. here we are on tax day and the president promises a candidate that he would release his taxes. we know almost zero about his finances. and so to make sure our national security is not compromised we're going to have to see all of his finances as it relates to deutsche bank. who has been fined by the way, in the past, for laundering russian money, just recently. >> congressman swalwell, appreciate your time, thank you. >> thank you, my pleasure, anderson. a presidential tweet about 9/11 and democratic congresswoman ilhan omar, keeping them onto on that.
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littered is shattered norms there is now one more, a member of congress says president trump out her life at risk, not her political life, but her actual physical safety. the congresswoman is ilhan omar, a freshman democrat from minnesota and one of the first two hmuslim women. the president tweeted a video that congresswoman omar said about september 11th. in all caps the president wrote we will never forget. the president says the congresswoman was dismissive of the attacks. she says he's taking her words out on context and in recent days she's seen an increase in threats, some directly referencing the president's tweet. the capital police are assessing whether the congresswoman needs enhanced security. the white house says the president was not trying to cite violence but otherwise stands by the tweet.
keeping him nons it's not the first time the president has sought to use islam to inflame intentions, not radical islamists, but islam itself. >> i think islam hates us. there's something -- there's something there, there's a tremendous hatred there. we have to get to the bottom of it. there is an unbelievable hatred of us. >> in islam itself? >> you're going to have to figure that out. >> well, candidate trump called for a blanket ban on muslims entering the united states, not dangerous fanatics, not people with known links to terrorist groups, just muslims. he falsely claimed to see thousands on top of rooftops in new jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks. maggie haberman says trump is
trying to make her a household name as an enemy among enemies. poor choice of words. the irony, of course, is that this is a president who has used poor choice of words nearly every day of his presidency. but being a hypocrite is clearly not something this president has any fear of or sense of shame about. it's also hard to argue that it's an accident that this president is yet again focusing his ire and attention on a person of color and a muslim as well. how many times have we seen this before, american judge being labeled as mexican by a president and unable to be partial. african-american football players choosing to take a knee or called sons of bitches and railed against at a rally. and s-holes, implied nigerians live in huts. all presidents have the power of what's known as the bully pulpit to focus the country on what's important. this preponderate doesn't
understand the meaning of the phrase, the bully pulpit. joining us, a muslim-american who has unfortunately experienced being on the receiving end of the president's insults. thanks for being with us. i don't think anyone would argue that congresswoman omar used perhaps the best words to talk about the deaths of 3,000 people, americans and people from many other countries, muslims included, who were murdered on 9/11 by islamist terrorists. but do you believe the president cares he may have put someone else, a member of congress's life in danger by tweeting out such an incindiary video, using sacred images of that day for political reasons? >> anderson, i'll take only one second. i was so saddened to see the fire at notre dame cathedral in paris. especially this week, especially
this week of good friday and easter sunday. and this humble muslim invites all of them to come to my humble home and please worship and celebrate easter at our home. so that invitation is sincerely extended. now to answer your question, your comment, this president has a habit of inciting division and hatred. that is his modus operandi. he feels powerful when he bullies others. and especially nowadays he is a bully who is afraid, who is afraid about this mueller's report, that is about to be released. all of his misdeeds are listed, regardless of how much his
attorney general tries to hide, tries to whitewash it, it will be released and the nation would come to know. i know most of america is decent, compassionate. he has used not only muslims but he has used immigrantsch he had used asylum seekers. he has used families. he has used small children put in the cages. just to make a point so that he can maintain his base, his base has also realizing that they have been utilized, they have been exploited and they have been used and they're realizing that he incites division and incites hate and they're not going to continue to lock arms around him. and it is sad that a president attacks a sitting member of the congress.
and to those who are incited, those who issue threats to honorable congresswoman ilhan omar do not realize it's a federal felony to threaten a congressperson. and it has several year of imprisonment attached to this crime. they should refrain from following his incitement. they should know by now the result of following him. look what happened to his attorney for so many years who so loyally followed him, look what happened to him to be in prison. >> do you have any doubt? >> and same thing for his manager and other associates waiting to be prosecuted and put in jail. >> do you have any doubt that the president sees this -- i don't know if i'd call it a battle with this congresswoman, but sees focusing on this
freshman congresswoman, who is muslim, who is a person of color, sees it as an easy political victory? i mean, as a way to sew division, as a way to essentially, by juxtaposing her images with the most, you know, horrific images from 9/11, it certainly can easily be interpreted as linking the two. >> that is so true. first, i condemn in the strongest words the terrorist attack on september 11 on united states, on us, we condemn those terrorists, never again, we will let something like that ever happen. second, he is now using that unfortunate moment in our history, that terrorist attack to -- for political expediency
purpose. he's citing it and he is unjustifiably blaming it on congresswoman ilhan omar to make political hay out of it for his reelection. and that's a shameful act on behalf of a person. that sits in the white house aided by our -- by our enemies, by our adversaries. he was added, and his election was added by richard. that report is and that's why he's going every which way and i'm concerned to what extent he will further go to hide that report. >> we shall see. appreciate you being on. thank you very much. i want to check on chris and see what he's working on for cuomo "prime time". >> i'm going to just go through what was lost today and what remains. i have been watching your show. i looked at the drown.
you're doing a brilliant job of covering everything that matters. i'm going to focus my hour just on this. we all know what we're waiting for later in the week. we know the battles that are to come. this is huge for me not just as a christian or a flawed catholic, not just this week, but there is a shortage of beautiful things that give us a respite from reality these days and this was a big one and she is still standing but she will never be what she was and it's important for people to know what was lost and the challenge of what to do now that goes from the vatican all over the world. so we'll spend an hour on this. >> great, chris, i look forward to that. see you 8 minutes from now. he claimed he was under audit and the white house has a new reason for the president not to release his taxes. we'll tell you what that is and hear from a congressman that knows a thing or two about taxes. ahead. boom! i fell 22 feet. i just remember climbing up the tree.
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it is april 15th, the deadline for filing your taxes. when it comes to president trump's taxes, white house press secretary sarah sanders weighed in defending his decision not to release them. >> i don't think congress is smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that i would assume that president trump's taxes will be. >> sarah sanders talking about how dumb people are. >> just before air time i talked to a democratic member of the committee. >> congressman, you're not only a trained cpa but also an attorney so when sarah sanders says you and your colleagues aren't smart enough to review the president's taxes, i'm wondering what you thought of that. >> i'm a former attorney. and cpa. i don't do the continuing
education requirements anymore. >> i don't know if i'm smart enough but i was trained in these areas. >> if anybody could take a look at these and have an idea of what was going on it could be you and others. how much do you think can be learned from the president's tax returns because people say look people put their best foot forward. what's in the returns is what they want the irs to know about them. >> first i want to make a big point. the very big point is that the chairman of the ways and means committee is utilizing this power that he has. very few people realize that every president and every vice president is supposed to be audited by the irs. it's in the irs manual that every president and every vice president for the past 40 years is supposed to be audited by the irs. it was done to take away the discretion. nobody is talking about it. that's why he is doing this. he's requesting these tax returns in the first place because this policy has been in place to take away the discretion of the employees so the employees aren't under pressure that they have to
decide whether or not to audit the president. every president, every vice president is supposed to be audited by the irs and the request is to find out in a narrow and targeted way is the irs doing what it says in the irs manual to actually audit the president. >> so when the president says that he always gets audited. as a citizen he's always audited. for awhile he said every year and then he said two or three years in a row. so a little contradiction there, the idea that you cannot release your returns or nobody would advise anybody to release their returns while they are being audited, what do you make of that argument? >> that's complete fantasy. that's not accurate whatsoever. the chairman has the power to request anyone's tax returns whether they're being audited or not. the irs made it clear there's no prohibition based on someone being audited.
the chairman has been deliberate in this process. he's not talking about impeachment or collusion. he's trying to find out is the irs doing it's job that it says specifically in it's manual that it's supposed to do and doing the audit that they're required to do or is someone putting pressure on them and saying we're not going to look at these tax returns. there's a whole big process. you're supposed to take the president and the vice president's files and put them in orange folders and chemothem -- keep them in a special safe. and only certain people are allowed to look at them but because of the frenzy going on on this topic, people are not looking at the narrow focus the chairman is taking here to look at this one question. >> if it is just to see if the president is being audited per regulations which every president you're saying is supposed to be, couldn't he just ask the irs that and have the irs, a representative from the irs underoath say yes, in fact, the president is being audited?
>> we'll have to see what they're following. the extent of the procedure. a one sentence explanation is not sufficient. he wants to of course it's a very complicated matter with the president having over 500 different entities all flowing up through the holding corporations and he wants to see the extent to which they're conducting this examination or if they're conducting this information of the president's returns. >> congressman, i appreciate your time. we'll continue to watch this. thank you. >> anderson, thank you very much. >> the news continues, i want to hand it over to chris for cuomo "prime time". >> thank you. i am chris cuomo and welcome to "prime time". it's 3:00 a.m. in paris where our lady of paris sits ravaged by fire. 13 million a year come to her. one of the most recognizable symbols of christianity. an aspirational symbol that withstood centuries. this may be her biggest test.