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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Donald Trump Woos GOP Skeptics in Washington, D.C.; Interview with Representative Adam Kinzinger; Secret Service Investigating Trump's Longtime Butler;; Trump Flip Flops On Key Issues Of His Platform; Speaker Ryan Being "Wisconsin Nice" To Trump?; Trump Vs. Clinton: Attack Tactics; "The Eighties: Greed Is Good". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 12, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Deeply hateful remarks as his former butler has been making, dangerous enough to get the Secret Service involved. That's just ahead.
We begin, though, with Mr. Trump going to Washington. The presumptive nominee meeting with GOP leaders, some of whom see him less as the pick of their party and more like a skunk at their picnic. It is a summit unlike any in recent memory because it's not a meeting between former rivals like Ford and Reagan or Obama and Clinton in 2008. This is the man who's gotten more votes than any other Republican contender, sitting down with people who in any other election cycle would already be solidly behind him.
Again, though, this is not your ordinary election. So what happened at the capital this morning was no ordinary summit. We have two reports and plenty to talk about. First chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an event congressional Republicans never imagined in their wildest dreams. Gathering to greet their nominee for president, Donald Trump. And they all could not sound more eager to get beyond the discord.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The headline is positive first step toward unifying our party.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified.
BASH: In fact, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan even issued a carefully crafted joint statement using a version of the word "unite" three times in one paragraph, including, "We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there's a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall." But also said, "While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground."
The differences ran deep during the primaries. CNN is told that today behind closed doors, Ryan made clear to the billionaire it would be up to Trump to unite the GOP. A source familiar with the meeting says Ryan told Trump that while millions voted for him, many Republicans oppose him, too.
RYAN: I represent a wing of the conservative party, you could say. He brings -- he's bringing a whole new wing to it. He's bringing new voters that we've never had for decades. That's a positive thing.
BASH: Still, Ryan was not yet ready to endorse Trump.
RYAN: This is the first very encouraging meeting. But, again, in 45 minutes, you don't litigate all of the processes and all the issues and the principles that we are talking about.
BASH: A source familiar with the meeting also said Ryan brought up something near and dear to his heart, balancing the budget by reforming Medicare and Social Security, which Trump has argued he doesn't want to touch. And sources tell CNN that during the meeting Trump mostly listened and said all the right things.
The most anticipated meeting of the day was the first, just these three men, Trump, Ryan and Republican Party chair Reince Priebus. CNN is told Priebus has been working hard behind the scenes for over a week to bridge the divide between the two.
PRIEBUS: It's important to be unified. It's important remember that --
BASH (on camera): But it's not usually this hard.
PRIEBUS: Well, you know what? This was not an unusual election. I mean, it was a very contentious, tough primary. And, obviously, no one can deny that. It's something that a lot of us haven't been through.
BASH: Do you feel like a couple's therapist?
PRIEBUS: No. You know what? You wouldn't say that if you were in the room. It was very -- it was great. And I think we had very good chemistry between the two of them.
COOPER: Dana joins us now. So we heard Priebus talking about good chemistry. What more are you hearing from your sources.
BASH: Yes, chemistry makes it sound like it's the start of a beautiful bromance, right? Well, I wouldn't go that far. But I am told that they did seem to warm to one another personally.
Remember, Anderson, they didn't know each other at all. So in terms of the issues, though, which is what matters here, I am told that Ryan spent a significant amount of time briefing Trump on his own election year agenda that he is pushing in the House now to help Republicans. Of course all of them are on the ballot in November. And I mentioned in a piece that Ryan pressed Trump on budget related issues important to him like Medicare and Social Security. But I'm told Ryan also really pushed Trump on the question of what kind of Supreme Court justice he would pick.
The House doesn't have a formal role in that process. But nominating a conservative to fill Scalia's open chair is one of the top issues for conservatives, especially those who are skeptical that Trump is really one of them -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Dana, thanks for the reporting.
When Trump left Ryan, he went over to try and woo Senate Republicans. Manu Raju has that part of the story. And some surprising words from Lindsey Graham who has pretty much been on a scourged earth campaign against Trump for months.
Manu, first this meeting between Trump and the Senate Republican leaders. What can you tell us?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is described by all people involved as a very productive meeting. One senator who is briefed on the meeting later told me that, quote, "People actually liked him." And one reason why is of course we know that senators like to talk and so does Trump. But Trump spent most of the time listening. They talked about taxes, they talked about the tone of his campaign, they even talked about immigration.
John Cornyn of Texas told Donald Trump about how Republicans can win the Hispanic vote and being strong on immigration reform. But at the end of the day the GOP is happy with the meeting because they believe that Trump will adhere, Anderson, to basic Republican principles.
[20:05:06] COOPER: And before I ask you this next question, I do want to just remind people that Senator Lindsey Graham once said supporting Donald Trump would be like being shot. So with that on the table, did Graham actually say nice things about Trump today?
RAJU: Shockingly yes. They actually had about a 15-minute phone call. And Graham said he was impressed with Trump on foreign policy, but he also made it very clear that he plans to oppose Donald Trump this fall. But another Trump critic, Rand Paul, told me that he is optimistic the party will unite.
Now after that Trump meeting, Senate Republican leaders actually briefed their colleagues at lunch. One of the colleagues was Ted Cruz. And Ted Cruz actually was there and made a joke and said, quote, "To be honest with you, I didn't want to come back." And John McCain later responded, quote, "We didn't want you to come back either."
Everyone laughed. So it really was interesting to see the Republican Party in a pretty good mood after this Trump meeting.
COOPER: All right, Manu Raju. Manu, thanks.
Some thoughts now from the congressional Republican who backed two Trump opponents, Congress Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He's a former Rubio supporter and a former state co-chair for the Jeb Bush campaign. So, Congressman, the outcome of today's meeting between Trump and
Speaker Ryan, what do you make of it because it certainly was for a different, kind of rosier tone than we heard from both men today?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Yes. You know, look, I mean, obviously the speaker of the House is a very principled person. He has real concerns with some of what Trump said both on domestic policy, foreign policy and his tone. But ultimately he is speaker of the House, he's the leader of the Republican Party. And I expect that ultimately he will support Trump. And so he's going through that process to get there.
Look, a lot of us have some major concerns over what's going on. We want to support the Republican nominee as Republicans, but this really is on Donald Trump to unite the party and this is where he has to change his tone.
COOPER: Why is it on Donald Trump? Because, I mean, Donald Trump is essentially now the standard bearer for the Republican Party. He won the most votes, he defeated a very deep, very experienced pool of Republicans. Isn't it now time for those who are against him in the Republican Party to reach out to him?
KINZINGER: I think once you become the standard bearer, once you become the nominee, the burden to win is on you. You have to go out and figure out how to put together basically 51 percent of Americans to put you in office. And that starts with your own party. That starts with understanding where people have concerns with you listening to that. When somebody says, you know, some of the words I've heard you use to describe people is frankly hurtful and divisive, think about that.
When you think -- when you hear somebody say that, you know, your foreign policy is not really coherent, and you know, you admire Vladimir Putin, these are concerns. That is on Donald Trump.
COOPER: You've said that you put your country above your party in regards to backing Donald Trump. Do you believe Republicans who are critics of Trump who have now warmed or -- warned to the idea of his candidacy or just accepted it are putting their party above their country?
KINZINGER: No, I don't think so. I think everybody has a decision to make. And I think a lot of these folks that, you know, were Trump critics that are now on Trump side, are basically saying that from the perspective of OK, well, his Supreme Court justices will probably be better than Hillary Clinton's from their perspective.
And you know, look, I don't like Hillary and Donald Trump is a better option. So I think in their mind they are putting their country above their party, but we all have to make that decision in a different way. And for me, again, on somebody that cares about America's role and mission in the world, to hear some of the things he's said and some of the ways he's said it brings real concern.
COOPER: How does it, though -- I mean, I don't know that he's concerned about winning you over, but how does he win you over? I mean, because it seems like those are pretty fundamental things that he has dug in on and repeatedly -- you know, he has the tone that he has and he says look, he can be more presidential, but so far he's running the race that he's running. I mean, short of some sort of major conversion on the part of Donald Trump, how does he win you over?
KINZINGER: It's hard to tell until he gets there. I don't know if there's a specific formula. I can tell you if he starts talking like a man that's running for the job that Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan had, you know, great statesmen that inspired people instead of cutting people down. That's a first step. I think if he begins to really be interested in learning about foreign policy and the difficulties and challenges outside broad, populist statements, that will be a move, too.
Look, I understand the need to compromise, especially in a divided government, and in a party that's, you know, has people with some different views on it. I don't need Donald Trump to get to 100 percent of what I believe, but I do need him to get to at least reflecting some Republican values and again a tone that's worthy of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan and a tone that's worthy of uniting the country.
COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate you being on.
KINZINGER: You bet. Thanks.
COOPER: Well, in a moment, we'll have the panel's take on today's summit and why Paul Ryan has still so far declined to endorse Trump.
Later, and this is getting a big buzz online, what the man who served as Trump's butler for years has been saying on Facebook about President Obama and Hillary Clinton. We can't repeat the words he uses. We can say that he calls for the president to be hanged from the White House portico and now the Secret Service want to know more.
[20:10:00] Also how Hillary Clinton plans to succeed where 16 Republicans have failed. Her strategy for taking on Donald Trump.
COOPER: When Donald Trump sat down today with Paul Ryan, it was more than just Midwest style meets Midtown Manhattan. They are two political players with fundamental difference and different roles to play during and after the campaign. Speaker Ryan, as you've seen, has party unity to consider, maintaining GOP control of the House. In practice, of course, that means limiting any down-ticket damage from Trump without alienating millions of Trump voters, which may explain why he's softening his tone toward Trump without fully embracing him.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it is not what this country stands for.
If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.
If I see ideas and comments that mislead the people as to who we are as Republicans, I'm going to speak out on those.
It's time to set aside bullying, to set aside belittlement, and appeal to higher aspirations. We need a real unification of our party, which, you know, look, after a tough primary, that's going to take some effort. We are committed to putting that effort in.
[20:15:06] I am not interested in litigating the past. I am interested in going forward and seeing where that common ground exists to make sure that we can have a unified Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Speaker Ryan from last December to now. Let's bring in the panel, Alex Burns, national political reporter for "The New York Times," Sanders surrogate and biographer Jonathan Tasini, CNN political commentator and BET News host, Marc Lamont Hill. Also Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, a conservative who opposes Donald Trump, and former U.S. congressman Rick Lazio who ran for the Senate against Hillary Clinton back in 2000.
Kayleigh, were you surprised that there wasn't an endorsement yet from Ryan?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I was expecting an endorsement. I think I was one of the very few because I've heard, you know, from Dana Bash actually, she reported earlier, that many of the congressmen and women came to Paul Ryan and said, you need to do this, you need to get on board.
COOPER: Right. There was a lot of pressure.
MCENANY: Yes. So there wasn't just pressure from voters and from Republicans and from Trump people but from fellow congressmen and women. So I was surprised. Nevertheless, I think basically today we got everything short of an endorsement. So that is enough I think to move forward.
COOPER: Tara, it certainly does seem like, I mean, the meeting he had with senators, I mean, does seem like it is moving in the direction of party unity.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, Speaker Ryan is in a tough position. You know, he didn't ask to be here, but he is in it now. You know, he never probably imagined six months ago, eight months ago when he was kind of thrust into the speakership that he'd be here now again making one of the toughest political decisions of his life. I think he is really dealing with an internal conflict because of Donald Trump's past and his statements and even his policy positions on things. There just really anathema to a lot of what Paul Ryan stands for and what his political career has built on.
But this is the reason why you didn't see an endorsement today. As speaker, he doesn't want to give away all of his leverage. He still wants Donald Trump to tone it down, to try to be more presidential because moving forward they're going to have to endure the Democrats constantly reminding Republicans in congressional races of what Donald Trump said. For example, Harry Reid was on the Senate floor already going after Republicans saying Mitch McConnell, you seem to support all of the despicable comments that Donald Trump has made about women. That's the leader of your party so I'm assuming you agree with that, too.
You're going to have to deal with that. Republican congressional candidates are going to deal with that kind of onslaught and Speaker Ryan has to walk a fine line on how to build cover for those guys.
COOPER: Congressman Lazio, do you think this is about maintaining some sort of leverage over Trump for Ryan?
RICK LAZIO, RAN AGAINST CLINTON IN 2000 SENATE RACE: To some extent. I think what Paul Ryan is saying is exactly what Tara is saying. It's like I want to see how you lay things out. I care a lot about Social Security. You're not going to be able to balance the budget without dealing with Social Security. You're not going to be able to invest in domestic priorities if you don't something about entitlements. You need to be talking about that to be responsible.
But I also think rising poll numbers is an unbelievable positive in terms of trying to create an atmosphere of consensus.
LAZIO: So that was a big plus, I think, as you saw the battlegrounds -- the three battleground state polls that came out showing them basically --
LAZIO: In a dead heat, very, very important. The other thing is, the one thing that unifies Republicans right now, the Republicans who are favoring Donald Trump is they want to beat Hillary Clinton. And so that is a unifying principle.
I think Republicans have to move past that, they need to have a positive agenda that they sell to the American public. That's going to be a little bit more difficult to get to.
COOPER: Alex, just in terms of your reporting there for "The New York Times," it does seem like you're hearing Donald Trump may be willing to kind of massage some of his policy positions. Do you know where there seems to be a lot of wiggle room?
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, I think in some ways it's easier to say where there isn't wiggle room. There are a couple of areas where he clearly has very, very firm views on things like immigration and trade that do put him at odds with Paul Ryan. But when you talk to the folks who are advising him on issues like taxes, on issues like fiscal discipline and retirement security, they say there's a lot of room for conversation, for negotiation.
You go down a list of positions that Trump has taken on issues like the minimum wage. There's a different position virtually every day.
COOPER: Even recently on the idea of banning or temporary ban of Muslims, he sort of said on a television program that was a suggestion.
BURNS: Right. And what his people will say, and I think Trump himself would acknowledge he's a negotiator by instinct and by sort of political philosophy, and if what it takes in order for him to lockdown that Republican nomination and get this party on board is to back away even from some of the big things he said in the primary, I don't think any of us would be knocked over by that.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Negotiators are really nice way of saying -- it seems to me that he didn't just say I'm negotiable, I'm flexible on this issue, he said, I want a ban, and then he later on says, I never said a ban, it was just a suggestion. So I think that's a tricky place to be. That makes it a little bit unyielding for Paul Ryan. But I think Paul Ryan, and I agree, is in a tricky spot. But he has been very careful not to overplay his hand because every time the Republican Party has tried to kind of keep wraps around Donald Trump, he's managed to evade them.
And if Paul Ryan thinks that he leverage all of his authority to keep Donald Trump in check, he may end up on the wrong side of this equation.
COOPER: Jonathan, interesting piece in "The Washington Post" today eventually saying that Ryan is kind of giving a head nod to congressional Republicans about kind of a path forward, basically talk about Secretary Clinton, how she would be a bad president, say you don't agree with Trump on everything but know that Trump does agree on core principles.
[20:20:14] JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: But I think the key in your intro was down-ticket damage. And I think that's what we talked about. And when I keep thinking about this election, and it's early, I keep thinking about 1980 during the Reagan landslide when 12 Democrats lost their Senate seats, including Frank Church, Birch Bayh, Gaylord Nelson, George McGovern. People they never thought would lose the election. I think that that is a potential at least the Senate.
It's a little bit harder in the House because of the redistricting and the gerrymandering. But in the Senate when you have statewide races and Donald Trump as an anchor, you could see senators like John McCain, people you never expected losing their seats, and I think that's where the fear is coming.
SETMAYER: There's way more Republicans that have to defend seats this time than Democrats. TASINI: Right.
SETMAYER: It's just --
TASINI: And the map is expanding.
COOPER: When you hear Trump I think was on FOX saying well, that was a suggestion, banning Muslims, does that raise concerns for you at all? That it seems sort of --
MCENANY: It doesn't.
COOPER: Is he backtracking now for general election?
MCENANY: It doesn't. Because here's the thing. You have certain policies that are an end and certain policies that are means. For instance, pro-life, overturning "Roe v. Wade," that's an end that we want to achieve. The Muslim ban was never an end in itself. It was a means to securing --
COOPER: So does he want a ban on Muslims or does he not want a ban on Muslims?
MCENANY: No. Because that's not -- that has never been his end policy goals, keeping Muslims out of this country.
COOPER: Right. But do we know --
MCENANY: His policy goal is protecting our borders. And that was the means he suggested to that end.
COOPER: But is he going to -- I just don't understand, is he going to pursue, and maybe we don't know this, I mean, do you think he is going to pursue a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. or do you think he is not?
MCENANY: He is going to suggest that. He is going to say this is what I think needs to be done to secure the border. I assume he would talk with the FBI director and get the FBI director's input.
COOPER: So is the building a wall, is that a suggestion, too?
MCENANY: No, I don't think so. That's an end in and of itself. I think that's an end policy not a means policy. I don't think that that is at all negotiable. I think that that's something that is a cornerstone of his campaign. The Muslim ban is a way to protect this country, which by the way we found out today, I just want to point out, in Germany, they're investigating 40 people who entered this country that they believe are affiliated with Islamic terrorism. So in this mass open immigration, Germany has now having to back step and actually --
COOPER: Germany has had about a million people coming from Syria.
MCENANY: They have. They have.
COOPER: Congressman, I mean, do you think everything is up for negotiation? Because that has been one of the criticisms by conservatives of Donald Trump all along that these are opening salvos in a negotiation as he's written about in a book.
LAZIO: If Donald Trump gets elected president, he will be the triangulation president. So you have to accept that when you vote for him that he is not going to be down the line on terms of conservative president, that's not going to happen. Number one. Number two is, when he says things like we ought to have a religious litmus test for immigration, it is offensive to lots of people including core Republicans who believe that the greatness of America has been based on immigration and that we don't want to create religious litmus test.
It's one thing to say we want to pause on Syrian immigrants, and it's another to say all Muslims ought to be kept out of the country. And this is where Republicans who are also on the ticket, Senate or House members, are thinking like, do I want to be associated with this.
LAZIO: Right now that sort of has died down a bit. So people are being more comfortable. The polls are coming up. But if you see more of this, it's going to be a very quick trigger I think for people to pull back.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We're going to have more to talk about ahead, including tonight's breaking news. A reaction from the Trump campaign about Donald Trump's longtime butler who works at Mar-a-Lago letting loose with some truly ugly statements on Facebook about hanging the president. He talks -- told CNN today that President Obama should be, quote, "hung from the portico of the White House or as I call it, the white mosque." That's not all he said and wrote. Details when we come back.
[20:27:36] COOPER: The Secret Service says it's going to investigate one of Donald Trump's longtime employees after he posted on Facebook that he wants President Obama to be killed. That's just the beginning of a massive pile of rants that Trump's 17-year butler, Anthony Senecal, has posted on Facebook. Trump's campaign put out a statement disavowing his, quote, "horrible statements," and says he hasn't worked at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate for years, which may be true but only on a technicality.
Two months ago the "New York Times" did a big profile on Senecal reported that when he tried to retire in 2009 Donald Trump decided that he was irreplaceable and kept him around as an unofficial historian. He may not be on the payroll as a butler anymore but by all accounts he's still there as a historian and giving tours.
Randi Kaye joins me now live with more. So what do we have?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if anyone is wondering why the U.S. Secret Service is investigating Donald Trump's longtime butler, all they have to do is go to the man's Facebook page. The former butler, Anthony Senecal, as you've said, is 84 years old. And here's why he may be in some hot water with Secret Service.
Just yesterday, "Mother Jones" says Senecal posted on his Facebook page that President Obama, quote, "should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term." Now the post has since been removed. But when CNN called Senecal today for comment, he confirmed that he did write the post so he said that he used the word hung, not shot, correcting the post actually. And then told CNN this, quote, "I'd prefer he'd be hung from the portico of the White House or as I call it the white mosque."
Now he also told CNN by phone today, Anderson, that Obama is a Muslim, threatening the life of a president, as you know, is a federal crime, which is why the Secret Service is now on the case -- Anderson.
COOPER: He's also been talking about Hillary Clinton as well, correct?
KAYE: Absolutely. And if you have kids in the room right now, you might want to cover their ears. About Hillary Clinton, he wrote this last September. "This shows killary Clinton," is what he calls her, "to be a lying, deceiving," he finished that sentence with the C word so I'm not going to say that but then he added, "I would never cast my ballot for this bitch in any election."
This all coming from a man who has worked for Trump for the last 30 years ago or so, but notes on his Facebook page he does not speak for Donald Trump, that these are just his opinions, Anderson.
COOPER: Wasn't there controversy just yesterday about the Trump campaign and a white nationalist or a white supremacist who should be a delegate?
KAYE: There was, Mr. Trump had to distance from themselves from a convention delegate who is actually a well-known white supremacist. The delegate who is William Daniel Johnson, he has pushed for a whites-only United States, made up of people with, quote, "no ascertainable trace of negro blood."
[20:30:02] He was on this list of delegates that the Trump campaign submitted for certification by the California Secretary of State. And once this was exposed, the Trump campaign quickly blamed a computer glitch and database error for Johnson's name being on that list of delegates. The man later resigned as a delegate saying that he didn't want to create anymore baggage for the Trump campaign.
And you also might remember this, Trump got the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke earlier this year. When asked about that, Trump failed to forcefully reject that endorsement and of course was criticized for that as well, Anderson.
COOPER: Right and white supremacists had done a robocall on behalf of Donald Trump ...
COOPER: ... and so ahead actually been making headlines months ago. Randi, thanks very much.
Back now with the panel. Kayleigh, I mean what do you make of the butler/tour guide on his Facebook?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well Donald Trump's campaign came out as you reported and those are horrible statements, they disavowed the butler as they should. All of those views that were just enumerated. There's no room in this society, in this country for those type of view, and Donald Trump believes that.
And I think this notion on he is seating in Trump Tower is trying to find these delegates or, you know, in line with his butler just a pretty is silly notion. I think most people think Trump is a good man, who embraces all races, in fact there are many employees African- American employees who had put out videos saying what a kind and wonderful boss he is. So for every statement we just heard about Trump, you know, being involved by some, you know, third party tangents who were relationship to a butler that he fired many years ago, we could put out equally positive statements from African- American employees whom -- who saying he is very fair.
COOPER: I guess though that the question is would be -- or he wasn't fired, and in fact does come back I mean come back.
MCENANY: Not working on the entire.
COOPER: But I mean I guess for those who are -- who believed that that this is important, that they will say that this reflects, sort of -- I mean that this can't be of surprise to Donald Trump, that this employee felt, very close employee to Trump, I mean who had very close interaction with him felt totally comfortable saying these things on a public forum.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Really comfortable, which makes you wonder what was it about everything that's going on here. But he's not alone. Anyone who reads my Twitter feed, I think I've been called every single one of the things that this guy was on he might be even be on my Twitter feed. But those horrible things.
I mean this is something that is pervasive with Trump supporters, unfortunately there's been an ugliness that has been brought out on his campaign, unlike anything you've ever seen before, which is troubling. Whether Donald Trump believes it or not, that's, you know, something that he's going to have to deal with. But when he played coy with the KKK during that whole thing, that didn't help the situation.
So moving forward, these kinds of associations just like conservatives went after Barack Obama and his associations with Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers, you know, people would say those Trump supporters, I mean that Obama supporters would say well, he can't be responsible for what those people said. Well, I mean, which is it? So this situation with Trump, I think he was a lot closer to this butler and people want to say. The campaign is inconsistent on this. I mean that the butler introduced him at Mar-a-Lago on March 6th. And had a glowing profile in the "New York Times." And the Trump campaign didn't disavow him then because it was a glowing profile.
SETMAYER: So that's a problem ...
MCENANY: You don't have any evidence that any of that how close the butler it was or was not to Donald Trump.
COOPER: Wait, wait let Kayleigh respond, let Kayleigh respond.
SETMAYER: He introduced him March 6th.
MCENANY: You're openly speculating that based on your Twitter feed and the messages that got there was by the way, go check out my Twitter feed, I've hundreds and hundreds of horrible things that are just said.
MCENANY: So you're irresponsible to sit on this program and speculate about the closeness of the butler to Donald Trump and whether you think Donald Trump knew about these views. You have no information to support that. Likewise, you have no information the support a single person on your Twitter feed is somehow connected to Donald Trump, we cannot blame people ...
COOPER: Kayleigh ...
SETMAYER: I mean come on. But he introduced him at Mar-a-Lago.
COOPER: But Congressman, does -- did the Trump -- I mean the Trump campaign moved or quickly to disavow this.
RICK LAZIO, FMR CONGRESSMAN OF NEW YORK: You have to give them credit for that. They've been move quickly, they disavowed it completely. There are going to be crazy, toxic people that are in your organization or your volunteers that you have no control over the say things. And your responsibility as a candidate, is to quash that put them aside and disavow it immediately.
MARC LAMONT HILL, BET NEWS HOST: But how ...
HILL: ... that we are congratulating him for quickly disavowing so what it was ...
HILL: ... to hang the president, right. I mean ...
HILL: I mean says -- I mean it seems to me is that a ...
LAZIO: But what else could you have done?
HILL: I'm not saying it's (inaudible), I'm not saying that -- there is anything else you could have done nor my saying at the -- that the after bit. That Donald Trump, candidate Trump knew this. Both of -- I agree with you. However, there is something noteworthy. When there are so many people who are white supremacists, and so many people who white in nationals, so many people who may such awful kind of and they all seem to hang around you, but not hanging around Jeb Bush, but not hanging around John Kasich that not hanging around Hillary Clinton, there's something about Trump's campaign that speaks to them. And there's something he's doing that doesn't make them feel alienated in their position, and that's what Trump listen to.
JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SURROGATE: And I want to start a trending hash tag which is the #butlersyndrome. Because this connects us to the story to before which is part of what the congressional people are afraid is it these explosions are going to happen every day, every week as the campaign continues.
[20:35:06] Today was the butler, tomorrow it's going to be somebody else in the campaign Donald Trump himself is going to say something and so it's like the butler syndrome. What they're afraid is that the Trump campaign will continue to implode. Trump himself will say these things, and that will drag down -- as we talk about down the ticket, that's going to drag down lots of candidates and to defeat in the election.
COOPER: I mean Alex in your reporting do you hear concerns about this kind of things a lot from in the -- from folks in the GOP?
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Enormous concerns, I mean not about the butler specifically or this kind of violent rhetoric specifically. But regularly every time Trump has taken a big step forward in his campaign, you can think back to, you know, the Super Tuesday primaries and the Florida primary. Almost every time he scores on big victory and I think you can call his visit to Washington a significant win for him.
There's also some other major distractions, whether it's David Duke or whether it's, you know, this episode today, or whether of the tax returns earlier this week.
BURNS: For somebody like ...
TASINI: For some the side thing ...
BURNS: ... and sure.
TASINI: He thinks he says.
BURNS: But for somebody like Paul Ryan who wants to, you know, give the nominee, the benefit of the doubt up to a point.
BURNS: You don't want to handcuff yourself to a guy who is going to, you know, have some giant surprise on the other hand.
COOPER: We -- we're going to take another quick break. Coming up next, Donald Trump and the issues and the worries that some conservatives still have about him, the way some of his positions have changed over time.
[20:40:17] COOPER: Welcome back. As the Republican Party tries to find a way to come together with Donald Trump as their presumptive nominee, there are hurdles, the biggest one for some Republicans is the question whether Trump has the conservative credentials they look for in a candidate. And House Speaker Paul Ryan has definitely been in that group. One reason it can be tough to get a clear read from a policy standpoint is on who Trump really is in terms of position.
Tom Foreman takes a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Throughout this chaotic campaign, the Trump brand is built on clear, strong statements. For example, last December when he called for all Muslims to be barred from coming to the U.S.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
FOREMAN: But with the nomination looming, listen to him now.
TRUMP: It's a temporary ban, it hasn't been called for yet, nobody has done it, this is just a suggestion.
I am Donald Trump and I approved this message.
FOREMAN: On many subjects Trump the non-politician has been doing what politicians do so well. Highlighting possible flip flops by his opponents while quietly shifting his own views. On minimum wage, last fall he acknowledged that some people want to see it raised.
TRUMP: But we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can't do it.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST: So do not raise the minimum wage.
TRUMP: I would not raise the minimum.
FOREMAN: And now?
TRUMP: So I like the idea of let the states decide. But I think people should get more. I think they're out there, they're working. It is a very low number.
FOREMAN: On his tax plan. Earlier in the campaign he promised a break for middle class America and to hammer the wealthy.
TRUMP: In other words it's going to cost me a fortune.
FOREMAN: And now?
TRUMP: Now, if I increase it on the wealthy, that means they're still going to be paying less than they pay now. I'm not talking about increasing from this point, I'm talking about increasing from my tax proposal.
FOREMAN: And of course on immigration, he's proposed a wall along the southern border.
TRUMP: We will build the wall. Who is going to pay for the wall? Who?
We're going to build the ...
FOREMAN: Trump insists building a wall is not open for negotiation. But other parts of his immigration plan might be.
TRUMP: Things are negotiable, I'll be honest with you, you know, I make the wall two feet shorter or something. I mean everything is negotiable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: All of this of course makes Trump vulnerable to claims that he, too, is a flip flopper. But it also reveals that he is well aware of a basic political reality. Primaries may be won by strong positions on the left and right, but the White House is usually one in the middle, Anderson?
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Charlie Sykes is a popular conservative talk radio host from Paul Ryan's stomping grounds in Wisconsin, he's formerly the anti-Trump camp, he joins us now. Charlie great to have you on again. These sort of shifts ...
CHARLIE SYKES, TALK RADIO HOST: Thank you.
COOPER: ... from Trump, there does seem to be a kind of pattern, he throws out a big provocative statement, and then a short order where overtime indicates flexibility, negotiability which frankly makes it difficult to pin him down on any sort of specifics stands. SYKES: Well it also makes a difficult to rely on him. I mean this is the problem the Republicans have. There's a lot of happy talk going on right now, but there are two big problems. Donald Trump's character and his principles or lack of principles. And I think you see that illustrated, that Republicans, you know, may be in a room with him 45 minutes, and he will tell them that he, you know, how he stands on a variety of issues, but they have no idea how long that's going to stick, whether that's going to change.
You know, Paul Ryan wants to find out whether or not Donald Trump is going to be able to campaign as an adult and as a conservative, and this is going to be very, very tricky, the man is not going to change his character in 48 hours or 24 hours, and in terms of, you know, the position, he is a blank slate. Becomes the reason why is he is all over the map, and maybe he is being very, very clever, or maybe there is no in there, there. Maybe the fact is that that he is a man with no principles, that there is no fixed course. So, you know, Paul Ryan with these bedrock principles and, you know, Donald Trump who basically says what he thinks he needs to say any given moment.
COOPER: Today on this meeting with Ryan, did it seem to you that it's basically Speaker Ryan before he gets on the Trump train?
COOPER: Trying to figure out where things are going?
SYKES: This is going to be the most complicated bromance ever, because the brutal dilemma for Paul Ryan, is that he knows who Donald Trump is, but he's got a job. He has to be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, he has to minimize the damage, he has to make the best of a really, really, bad situation. And maybe there's a possibility that he can draw Donald Trump, you know, toward conservatism, maybe he can provide some policy guidelines to do this. Maybe he can actually heal some of those wounds.
[20:45:00] But I mean you want to talk about two very, very different guys, I mean last week you had Donald Trump who is releasing the flying monkeys on Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan trying to be conciliatory, trying to be persuasive. Again, a lot of happy talk, but huge gaps still remain.
COOPER: So where do you go as -- I mean as somebody who, you know, was part of the Never Trump Movement?
SYKES: Still there?
COOPER: Still there.
SYKES: Well look -- I mean can't -- you know, well very much so. I can't say that the man is a liar, a con man who, who makes fun of the disabled, the women has the emotional stability of a nine-year-old playground bully, but yes, let's give him nuclear codes. I don't know how you do that. I don't know how you say to the man, you know, is a race system, misogynist, but hey by the way let's make him president because what party loyalty. You know, that's a very, very difficult move and I think that a lot of Republicans are counting, you know, either the public having complete amnesia or the anti-Hillary thing being that strong. But I mean the reality is that at some point, you know, you have to draw the line and say, I can't be part of this.
COOPER: Charles Sykes, appreciate you being on the program tonight. Thank you.
Just ahead, with Donald Trump turning his fire on Hillary Clinton, she's facing a crucial strategy decision, fire back in the same fashion or try to stay above it all. Others have tried both tactics and failed. Take look at what her campaign seems to be wanting to do, next.
[20:50:19] COOPER: To the surprise we presume of no one, Donald Trump has been blasting Hillary Clinton with intensely personal attacks, the same kind used against Republican opponents. It's a strategy certainly work for him in the primary. Secretary Clinton who still work into clinch the Democratic nomination has been hitting back. Here's some of the back and forth they've been having.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I don't want anybody in our country or anywhere in the world to think he speaks for anybody but himself.
TRUMP: Her whole life has been a big, fat, beautiful lie. It's been a terrible, terrible lie.
CLINTON: The kind of language coming from Donald Trump is hateful.
TRUMP: If I had a contest between crooked Hillary Clinton and the media, I'm not sure, folks!
CLINTON: Trump keep saying things like well, you know, I didn't really mean it. It was all part of my reality TV show. If we buy that, shame on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well you just saw Secretary Clinton hasn't shied from mixing it up with Trump, though her style is less scorched earth. She's recently said she's going to focusing on policy, not respond to his insults. But certainly sounds familiar. That strategy didn't work out so well for the 16 Republican candidates who ran against Trump.
Back now with our panel. Alex, I mean do you think she's damned but she does, damned if she doesn't? I mean she said she's going to just focus just on running her race. There's lot of Republicans who tried to do that, but at the same time, you look at Marco Rubio who tried to fight back, and didn't work well for him either.
BURNS: Well I think, you know, there's no obvious right answer for how to deal with personal attacks on this level which are just they truly unprecedented in presidential politics at this level. But I do think clearly what the Clinton campaign has decided to prioritize is trying to pin Trump down on some of this policy pronouncements that he has made before he can, you know, had used the old Romney campaign for use the a sketch them away.
Actually doesn't want to find herself in that position where suddenly in July people have forgotten about the Muslim ban or he has a propose some kind of immigration deal. And I think the -- a rationale at least, you know, on some level is the personal attacks are coming no matter what she does now, so if you try to pin him down on some those issues where he is clearly on the wrong side of public opinion in a general election, maybe that serves you better over the long term, but it is a big risk.
COOPER: I mean Jonathan, one of the things I mean she kept saying I mean in the interview last week was loose cannon, that was the term she used and we've heard that now on the campaign trail. And that's clearly one of the things are going to running up the flagpole.
TASINI: Yeah, I have to say that, you know, listening to that is just depressing to think about what kind of election we're facing. You know, this country has very serious problems we have to address. And Donald Trump is dragging this election down into the gutter in a way that it will avoid those election is going to be a bitter, ugly election.
And whether Hillary is the nominee or Bernie is the nominee, I think the strategy would be the point out those contradictions as Alex said. The second thing I'll say that I think that baked in the cake for Donald Trump is the fact he alienated women and alienated Latinos.
My memory is that Republicans need about 40 percent of the Latino vote to win the White House, if I'm correct. I don't think they'll get 20 percent and so I think that baked in the cake no matter where the polls are today and what's going to look like in Election Day.
COOPER: Marc do you ...
TASINI: So I -- so just a bit I think that if we Democrats continue to talk to voters, independent voters, remember this isn't the primary, we're going to win the election.
COOPER: Marc, do you think Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, are know how to run against Donald Trump?
HILL: I think they do, and I think there are lessons to be learned from the Republican primary. What no one was particularly effective in fighting back with Donald Trump on a personal level -- and how many level.
Carly Fiorina got a different response when he beat up on her, when he attacked her. And I think Hillary Clinton may also benefit from that, because he performs as a sexist, whether he is not in his own mind, its not relevant. But voters read him as sexist when he beat about Carly Fiorina, when he talked about her appearance. Where is with Marco Rubio, that wasn't the case. So I think he has to be very careful. So she can play the loose cannon card, she can also play the policy card, and he has to be very careful, otherwise it will look bully.
COOPER: Kayleigh, just as a Trump supporter, do you see Trump running differently against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as that he ran against the GOP?
MCENANY: I think he needs to, because I think Marc has an excellent point that there is a gender dynamic at play. She's trying to push forward this narrative of Trump being anti-woman. So he cannot play into that. So yes, he does have to treat her I think differently than others. But that doesn't mean insulating her from very real questions like the Clinton Foundation and her e-mail setup. She's going to have answer those. I think staying silent won't be an option for us.
TASINI: She doesn't have to push the narrative though, they'll just have to run that ad to the Super PAC who is attacking Trump, that if all the women talking about what Trump said. It's not that this is fantasy, these are things he actually said about women.
COOPER: We're going to take ...
MCENANY: He has to address those. Yeah.
COOPER: We got to take a break here. Just ahead buckle up for some time travel back to the '80s. When money was can greed was good, according to movies and Ronald Reagan was president. We'll preview tonight's new episode of CNN's original series, coming up next.
[20:58:08] COOPER: In just a few minutes, new episode of the CNN original series "The Eighties". Now this one folks on how money and greed colored the decade and this preview we head to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, a moment when President Reagan gave a pep talk as the nation tried to bounce back from some hard economic times. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FMR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last five years, we've moved from malaise to hope, confidence, and opportunity. And the volume of shares traded hitting record highs and more Americans than ever before participating in the market. We are bullish on the American economy.
GIL TROY, MORNING IN AMERICA AUTHOR: And Reagan shows up at the stock exchange, yelling Ronnie, Ronnie is a way of saying America is back, that was Ronald Reagan's genius, he was able to link economic faith with faith in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Incredible moment at New York Stock Exchange. That does it for us, thanks very much for watching.
[21:00:01] Hope you enjoy the CNN original series "THE EIGHTIES" which starts, now.