CNN's Anderson Cooper calls out President Donald Trump over a tweet he retweeted that claims the Clintons were somehow behind the death of billionaire financier and accused sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.
"Is it just me or does the current President of the United States have a lot of time on his hands? Like more time than any President I've ever heard of? ... I know enablers in the White House call the giant blank spots in his schedule 'executive time,' but can you actually imagine any real executive at any reputable company sitting around, watching so much cable news, and then tweeting so much made-up stuff, and then retweeting so much drivel?" Cooper asked on Tuesday.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Is it just me or does the current president of the United States have a lot of time on his hands? Like more time than any president I've ever heard of. I mean, we know he watches a lot of cable news early in the morning, seemingly all night, even on the weekends between rounds of golf, which is hard because he plays a lot of golf.
I know the enablers of the White House called the giant blank spots on his schedule executive time, but can you imagine any real executive at any reputable company sitting around watching so much cable news and tweeting so much made up stuff and then retweeting other people's dribble?
This is not a new question, of course, it's been asked before but I bring it up tonight because the president once again have been playing one of his favorite games -- suggesting a conspiracy exists without any proof and with the intention of hiding any potential blowback on his own possible actions.
Today, the president defended his new conspiracy mongering by falling back on one of the lamest excuses he used time and time again. So, I just want to quickly give you the back story you probably know shortly after pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead, a comedian who according to his website doesn't actually have any upcoming dates but does sell t-shirts and ring tones and has appeared on Fox News sent a tweet essentially suggesting the Clintons were somehow involved in the death of Jeffrey Epstein. No evidence. No facts, just this guy tweeting it out.
Now, if you were the most powerful person in the world and had briefing books to read and you had decisions to think about and grieving families of victims of gun violence to call and console, or even I don't know, a wife and young child to maybe spend a little time with, what would you do when you read that tweet? I mean, you might read it and if you were, even on Twitter, that's to say and then you would probably go about your important work.
But this president doesn't think that way, and apparently doesn't have either the courage of imagination to come up with this sleazy, unfounded conspiracy theory on his own. So instead, he takes the time to retweet the sleazy unfounded tweet, OK, which is fine. It's something he did in the spur of the moment and maybe thought better of it and moved on and felt bad about it beneath the dignity of the office, all that, not presidential.
But no. Not this president. Today, in fact, the president defended his conspiracy mongering by describing the source of the tweet and how respected he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a very highly respected conservative pundit. He's a big Trump fan. That was a retweet. That wasn't from me. That was from him.
But he's a man who has half followers, a lot of followers and he's respected.
The retweet, which is what it was, a retweet, was from somebody that is a very respective conservative pundit, so I think it was fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: OK. He's a self-styled comedian. So, two things are sad I think about this response. One, the president thinks because someone has half a million Twitter followers, they are respected or they're legitimate. That's how he judges legitimacy in his own mind.
The size of your crowd, your Twitter following, your rating, fine. We know this. It's sad. It's shallow, but it's nothing surprising.
The second thing to note is his "that was a retweet" defense. This is a personal favorite of mine for quite sometime going back to the campaign because for all his talk about being tough and taking the heat, that was a retweet is like when you're 5-year-old blames his 4- year-old brother for hitting him first and claiming he started it if.
Can you imagine if the president was hauled in for questioning on something, he would turn on a dime? Wasn't me. It was him. I just retweeted what he did. He used this excuse a couple times before.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, they made a big deal out of that and I just don't see it. That was a retweet.
I did a retweet. You know, a retweet -- sometimes you do retweets -- when you do your own tweeting or you do your own social media, it's fine. When you do retweets, they can cause problems because you never know who is doing it to start off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sure, but don't let that stop you. You don't know who is doing it but, you know, you can claim they are a respected conservative pundit later.
The president even pushed the conspiracy theory further today, referring to something a fringe news site has raised. Now, the site only arrived on Twitter according to the account just months before the 2016 election and its run by, quote/unquote, independent journalist and that's all we know about them from their site, but the president felt the need to repeat accusations, as well, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And then the question you have to ask is -- did Bill Clinton go to the islands? Because Epstein had an island. That was not a good place as I understand it. I was never there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: OK. So did you notice what he did there? Because this again, it's just classic. It's a classic Trump.
He made the acquisition which a Clinton spokesman has denied. We'll go into that a little further detail later about the former president possibly going to Epstein's island and as of now, there is no evidence he did.
And then unprompted, the president said and I quote, I was never there. Which is kind of weird, right? This other person did something horrible but, by the way, I wasn't there.
Why would the president want to reflect and raise this point that he was never there? Perhaps because he told "New York Magazine' in 2002, quote, I've known Jeff, meaning Jeffrey Epstein, for 15 years, terrific guy. Terrific guy Jeffrey Epstein.
The future president then went on to say and I quote, he's a lot of fun to be with. It's even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do and many of then are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his essential life. Well, he certainly did. Not a lot of other people did but he certainly did.
In fact, we have tape from a decade earlier showing Epstein enjoying his social life with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. NBC News first broadcast this tape. At one point you can see him gesturing toward a woman and appears he says to Epstein, look at her back there, she's hot. Classy.
Now by any legitimate standard, none of that means the president is involved with Jeffrey Epstein's crimes. But by the standards of our own president, it does kind of raise questions, doesn't it, by the Trump standard. Does the president believe any of this about the former President Clinton? Probably not. That doesn't matter to him or to the harm it might do.
Does he believe the Clinton's killed aide Vince Foster as he suggested or Ted Cruz' dad was involved in the JFK assassination or the Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered. He was found with a pillow over his face according to Trump.
All we know is these theories about murder become more prominent as we get into election season. This is the way he connects and solidifies support among his base like what he told reporters about whether his base could accept background checks. I don't know if he believes it or not. All we know is these theories
about murder become more prominent as we get into election season. This is the way he connects and solidifies support among his base. It's like what he told reporters about whether his base could accept background checks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think my base relies very much on common sense and rely on me in terms of telling them what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They rely on me in terms of telling them what is happening. No, Mr. President, all of America used to be able to rely on the president to tell them what was happening, particularly times of crisis but you know what? It sure feels like a long, long time ago.
Before we talk to our guests about all this, I do want to read precisely what Clinton's spokesman said back in July about his travels with Epstein that the current president is now eluding to and building off of.
And according from the spokesman in 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein's airport, one to Europe, one to Asia and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of Clinton Foundation. Staff, supporters of the foundation and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg of every trip.
He had one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002 and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein's New York apartment with a staff member and his security detail. He's not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade and never been to little St. James Island, Epstein's ranch in Mew Mexico or his residence in Florida, end quote.