CNN Panel: Trump Should Be 'Boning Up' on Policy, Not Watching Cable News

CNN's Anderson Cooper was aghast on the Tuesday edition of his program over Donald Trump still regularly posting to Twitter even after being elected president: "When I first heard that he was Tweeting about something that was on this broadcast — a number of Tweets; again, factually-incorrect Tweets...I kept thinking, doesn't he have, like, a briefing book on ISIS to be reading last night?" Kristen Powers replied, "He should have probably been boning up on what's going on...I think it is concerning that he continues to do this." [video below]

Cooper raised the subject of Trump's Twitter posts — especially his recent condemnation of flag burning — during a panel discussion segment. CNN regular Margaret Hoover offered her "alternative view" on the flag Tweet — that "maybe, this is not a big, strategic, sort of, gotcha. Maybe, he was watching a cable news channel that had a segment about Hampshire College...and their flag burning — and maybe, he Tweeted about it three or four minutes afterwards." Liberal panelist Paul Begala interjected, "One hopes that this guy's not nuts."

Trump supporter Alice Stewart responded by pointing out that "Hillary Clinton did the exact same thing in 2005 with the flag burning act, which would require a year in prison, as well as a hundred thousand dollar fine for people burning the flag. So what he's [Trump is] proposing is not unusual." Cooper then turned to Democratic strategist Angela Rye for her take on the controversy. The liberal guest decried the billionaire for his flag Tweet:

ANGELA RYE, CEO, IMPACT STRATEGIES: ...This man should understand constitutional law. He — it's fine for him to say the Supreme Court ruled in Texas versus Johnson, and I don't agree with that. But I think it is curious. It's not what's in the 140 characters. It is the mindset behind what's in the 140 characters on Twitter...it actually is legitimately scary to many of us who feel like...we potentially elected a dictator — someone who think he does not have to be accountable to constitutional law. He doesn't have to be accountable to the legislative branch. He thinks he can just come in and do some crazy stuff! That's crazy!

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The CNN anchor responded to this with his "doesn't he have, like, a briefing book on ISIS to be reading last night" question, which he directed to Powers. He added, "There's a huge amount of information that for him to be absorbing now and thinking about — and the fact that he's watching shows — I appreciate he's watching the show — he doesn't have a Nielsen box. It doesn't really help. But what is he doing?"

Powers replied with her "he should have probably been boning up on what's going on" line. However, she later sided with Stewart: "To be fair to him, Democrats have supported this and...there have been repeated attempts to have constitutional amendments. So, if he supports that, that's — I don't support it; I disagree with it — but it's actually not really out of the mainstream. It's the revoking the citizenship that's problematic."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion segment from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on November 29, 2016:

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Can I just offer an alternative view? Maybe, there's no game theory here — right? Maybe, this is not a big, strategic, sort of, gotcha. Maybe, he was watching a cable news channel that had a segment about Hampshire College on this morning — and their flag burning — and maybe, he Tweeted about it three or four minutes afterwards. I mean, this was a case—

[CNN Graphic: "Flag Controversy: Trump Suggests Loss Of Citizenship Or Jail For Flag-Burners"]

PAUL BEGALA: That's too scary. Margaret, just let me—

HOOVER: No. But that actually happened — Paul, Paul: let's be very clear. Let's be very clear—

BEGALA: One myth — one hopes that this guy's not nuts (unintelligible)—

HOOVER: That did happen. That happened. I didn't just create a scenario. That actually happened this morning. And so, what happened was Donald Trump, as we know, gets on the Twitter; isn't restrained; has gotten his Twitter feed back, clearly, because it's unlikely that any of his senior advisors would have—

ANDERSON COOPER: There was a Fox News report shortly before he had Tweeted out. We don't know if there — there was a linkage there. But, I mean, he certainly watches the shows. As we will talk about in a little bit — I mean, he was Tweeting about this show last night minutes after one of Jeff Zeleny's reports—

HOOVER: And you're not getting Tweets now because he's at dinner with Mitt Romney.

COOPER: Right—

ALICE STEWART, TRUMP SUPPORTER: And then, one of the things to keep in mind also: he put out a Tweet on this and we're talking about this 12 hours later; whereas, he put out several press releases today on key appointments and those aren't getting quite as much attention.

With regard to the flag burning issue, it's important to keep in mind — we all — a majority of Americans agree that it's despicable and disrespectful to burn the flag. But what he's proposing — Hillary Clinton did the exact same thing in 2005 with the flag burning act, which would require a year in prison, as well as a hundred thousand dollar fine for people burning the flag. So what he's proposing is not unusual. And what I think, with regard to the key appointments today, why would he want to distract from that? Him appointing Tom Price in that position, single handedly, would be the beginning of the end of ObamaCare, and that — and that will energize his  base—

COOPER: Right. And to her point, though, Angela: it may be not be — it may be not be unusual, but it still doesn't make it constitutionally appropriate.

ANGELA RYE, CEO, IMPACT STRATEGIES: That's exactly right, and I think that we have to start talking about this, as this is our incoming commander-in-chief. This man should understand constitutional law. He — it's fine for him to say the Supreme Court ruled in Texas versus Johnson, and I don't agree with that. But I think it is curious. It's not what's in the 140 characters. It is the mindset behind what's in the 140 characters on Twitter.

The reason we talk about this, Alice, over and over again is because it actually is legitimately scary to many of us who feel like we — I know, Anderson, feelings; I'm sorry — but we feel like we potentially elected a dictator — someone who think he does not have to be accountable to constitutional law. He doesn't have to be accountable to the legislative branch. He thinks he can just come in and do some crazy stuff! That's crazy!

COOPER: Kristen, it is — I mean, we are in uncharted waters with a president-elect who is continuing to Tweet just as he did — maybe, a little less — but as he did during the campaign. I mean, when I first heard that he was Tweeting about something that was on this broadcast — a number of Tweets; again, factually-incorrect Tweets last night — I kept thinking, doesn't he have, like, a briefing book on ISIS to be reading last night at ten o'clock or nine o'clock or eight o'clock?

BEGALA: He's turning those away those briefers — you know that? There's been reports that he's not even receiving the briefings he's obligated to receive—

COOPER: But, I mean, again, there's a — there's a huge amount of information that for him to be absorbing now and thinking about — and the fact that he's watching shows — I appreciate he's watching the show — he doesn't have a Nielsen box. It doesn't really help. But — but what is he doing?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Yeah; yeah, but that was true during the campaign. I mean, maybe—

COOPER: But I get in the midst of a campaign. He's won—

POWERS: Okay. Well, I guess I would still say, even then, he should have probably been boning up on what's going on. And so, I think it is concerning that he continues to do this. But in terms of the substance of what he said, I think the revoking the citizenship part is very concerning. I oppose — I believe that people should — I believe in the constitutional right of free speech. And so, I have a problem with banning flag — flag burning—

COOPER: You're so old-fashioned—

POWERS: Yes. But — but I think that what he said — to Alice's point, to be fair to him, Democrats have supported — have supported this and — and even though it is constitutionally protected, there have been repeated attempts to have constitutional amendments. So, if he supports that, that's — I don't support it; I disagree with it — but it's actually not really out of the mainstream. It's the revoking the citizenship that's problematic.

BEGALA: It's a question of why. And I guess I want to believe that there's a strategy; and now, you guys are convincing me that there's not; and he's going to have the nuclear codes in a few weeks, guys.

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel.

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