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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senate Intel Panel Announces Russian Hacking Probe; Source: Ex- DNC Chair Confronts FBI Director; Flynn Calls Russian Ambassador Same Day Sanctions Announced; Trump: Mexico Will Pay Us Back For The Wall; Bush Daughters Give Advice To Sasha And Malia Obama; History Made: The Legacy of Michelle Obama; Kidnapped As a Newborn, Found 18 Years Later. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 13, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:01] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight with breaking news involving multiple facets of the Russian hacking story, as well as some toxic fallout from it. The toxicity follows a closed door briefing by FBI Director James Comey where Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz reportedly tore into him about the stolen e-mails that led to her ouster as DNC chair. That is one item tonight.
However, the bigger development comes from the Senate Intelligence Committee and bipartisan plans to not just investigate the hacking but contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
CNN's Phil Mattingly tonight starts off from Capitol Hill.
So, what are you learning about the scope of this investigation?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's broad and it very potentially has real teeth. And here's why, this is a powerful committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence. This is a bipartisan investigation agreed to by the top Republican and the top Democrat and as they pursue this investigation, this is a committee that has subpoena power. Now, I said potentially because the senators are going to have to decide jointly to pursue the things that bring the teeth to this, most notably the subpoena power.
But in their description of what this inquiry is going to entail, they make very clear they will be interviewing people in the incoming administration, the outgoing administration, the intelligence community, and those interviews, should they not be agreed with, the committee will not hesitate to subpoena individuals to come up. That means there's no avoiding or dodging this committee, as they pursue this inquiry.
That's what makes it important. That's what makes it potentially powerful. It's a targeted look into this situation, Anderson. That's also a big deal because it's not just a look at the assessment from the intelligence community into the Russian meddling of the elections that we've all been looking at. They are going deep into specific pieces of that. Those pieces could bring forth news that we just simply haven't heard about or importantly, have had a lot of questions about over the course of the last couple of weeks.
COOPER: You know, not naming him, is this directed in any way at President-elect Trump's campaign team?
MATTINGLY: Yes, it's an important point. In kind of the announcement of this inquiry, they do not mention the Trump campaign. They don't mention the Clinton campaign. But there's really only one way to read how this is targeted. And, Anderson, you kind of hit on it.
One of the ideas, one of the issues they will be delving into specifically is potential contacts between Russian intelligence, middlemen for Russian intelligence, and campaigns. There's really only one campaign that pertains to.
I texted one Senate aide earlier tonight and said, hey, is there any way to look at this other than a direct look into the Trump organization, Trump campaign, transition? I got one-word response: no. This is targeted at the Trump operation, looking into how this all came to be. Obviously, looking very deeply into Russian intelligence and what they did as well.
But there is one potential target here, one real target and that is any connection the Trump campaign has had with Russian intelligence services and more importantly any connection Russian intelligence services had in helping the President-elect Trump win that election, these are the types of things this investigation could unveil, Anderson.
COOPER: But let's just be clear here. This is supposedly a bipartisan investigation, right?
MATTINGLY: That's exactly right. That's an important note on Capitol Hill. It's an important aspect of this particular committee pursuing this investigation.
And kind of an interesting development, because 24 hours ago, the Republican chairman of this committee said he wasn't going to be digging into potential contacts between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign, didn't want this to turn into a political firestorm, had a lot of us, had a lot of individuals on Capitol Hill and some Democratic senators wondering if it would have any teeth really matter at all.
In 24 hours, that changed, the direction of the investigation changed. I think that's why everybody on Capitol Hill, even though it came out on a Friday night when the House and Senate were out of session, getting a lot of e-mails and text messages saying people believe this is real. They believe this investigation could really matter, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, appreciate the update.
Again, FBI Director James Comey's appearance on the Hill generated a lot of heat, as you might imagine, given the audience.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with the latest on his clash with House Democrats.
So, the purpose of the briefing was to fill in members of the House regarding details of the Russian hacking. I understand that's not all they wanted to ask the FBI director.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Anderson. They wanted to ask also about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and how that came about, especially his October surprise letter couple of days -- 11 days before the election in which he informed members of Congress there were new e-mails they had found and they had essentially reopened the investigation.
The really interesting context here is that yesterday, there was a Senate briefing and we had a lot less fireworks. What happened was in the Senate they had about a couple hours to talk to James Comey and all the other intelligence chiefs. Today, in the House, they had only about an hour because of scheduling issues. And apparently it got heated.
We're told in the Senate briefing, Comey was able to provide more information in what happened, especially they had found these e-mails in an unrelated investigation into Anthony Weiner, and what Comey told the Senate members was simply that the FBI had found all these new classified e-mails, e-mails they had not seen before.
[20:05:08] But at the end of doing their investigation, they determined that Hillary Clinton had not violated the law, the same conclusion they had reached previously. Apparently in the House briefing, it didn't go so well. Apparently, because of the lack of time and because they had so many more questions about the Clinton e- mail investigation and why Comey had handled it the way he did, things turned a lot more fiery.
COOPER: So, what do we know about the confrontation or words between the former DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the FBI director?
PEREZ: Well, you'll remember that, you know, during the -- in the run-up to the election, these e-mails that the intelligence community says were hacked by Russian intelligence agencies and published by WikiLeaks showed a lot of very embarrassing facts about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, ended up costing her job right before the Democratic National Convention. And so, Debbie Wasserman Schultz confronted James Comey to ask him, why didn't you call me? Why didn't you pick up the phone and say, you know, this is what we found the Russians are doing?
And James Comey apparently pushed back. There was a lot of pushback between the two. Comey said, look, we did try to call your general counsel. We -- the FBI tried multiple times to try to make sure they understood what -- the DNC understood what the gravity of the situation was. And the DNC did not really take it seriously.
So, there was definitely a very tense moment there. And utter members of Congress emerged from that really thinking that Comey should go. A few of them said they think he should resign.
COOPER: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, we should point out, just released a statement. What did it say?
PEREZ: Well, she said -- I'll read her statement right now. It says, "As a member of Congress, I will not compromise information learned and discussed in a classified briefing. However, the FBI director must clarify for the American people the agency's policies for investigating and alerting those who were hacked by foreign governments. There are further questions that must be answered by Director Comey who must provide more clarity on this and other questions that have arisen surrounding FBI's handling of Russian hacking during the 2016 election cycle."
Anderson, I got to tell you, one part of this is that Democrats I think are frankly in a bit of a pickle, right? Some of them want James Comey to be tossed out because they feel that he handled this so badly, cost Hillary Clinton the election, he ought to be fired.
The problem with that is that now what you are doing is giving Donald Trump a pick for FBI director and I'm not sure that's exactly what they want. So, they're in a very difficult political situation. We'll see how it turns out.
Right now, Donald Trump has already said he doesn't know whether James Comey should stay in this job. We'll see what happens.
COOPER: All right. Evan Perez, appreciate it.
A lot to discuss. Joining us, "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman, Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, Paul Begala, Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany, and "New York Times" political reporter, Alex Burns, who's also a CNN political analyst.
I mean, Maggie, this is a bipartisan committee but it's a Republican- controlled committee. There's Senator Burr from North Carolina, the chairman. He said it was critical, that was his words, to understand the scope of Russia's influence in the U.S. election. He does it with the support of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This will be a difficult thing for the incoming president to contend with.
HABERMAN: Because you're going to have a parade of witnesses. This is a committee that's going to have subpoena power. It's not exactly clear what they're going to do, but they are certainly going to look, as we just heard, at any connections that have -- there have been allegations about this from Democrats for a while, Trump's people denied it, between his campaign and Russian officials. The fact this will be taking place under oath potentially ups the stakes.
This is not what an incoming president wants to do, especially someone like Donald Trump who has set expectations very, very high, and he's still going to be greeted with the realities of Washington once he gets there regardless. He's going to see that on Obamacare and a number of other issues that he wants to make, major changes in. This is going to be an unpleasant situation. There will be hearings aired on cable. There will be headlines about this. There's no way that it's going to be comfortable for him. It doesn't end that it's going to end proving something.
HABERMAN: But it's certainly not a great issue and it is one that he feels delegitimizes --
COOPER: That's a really important point, Alex. I mean, for this president-elect, he certainly feels that this is an attempt to delegitimize the election results. And if this continues, I mean, this commission moving forward can only just continue to drip, drip, drip of this story and that doesn't serve his purpose.
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. On a basic level, even before a witness is called, this lends a certain level of gravity to the charges about potential connections or potential motives in being -- you know, adjusting U.S./Russia policy that voters are already out there hearing about.
[20:10:04] And I do think, sort of to Maggie's point about the realities of Washington, the relationship between Donald Trump and the senators who control the balance of power in this Republican Senate, it's a very, very small margin of control, is already really tenuous. And the relationship between Trump and the chamber hinges in a lot of ways on Republicans who are hawks in general and hawks on Russia in particular. So, as fragile as that relationship already is, you could imagine a committee like this testing it every day.
COOPER: Kayleigh, I mean, I guess one other way to alternate way to look at this is, I mean, couldn't this be an attempt by Republicans, understandable attempt by Republicans to kind of put away -- get this issue out of the way for the president-elect? I mean, that's a positive way to look at it for the president-elect.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, absolutely, because I think you've seen Republicans asking questions of the intelligence community. You've had Democrats asking questions. So, I think this makes a lot of sense, to have a bipartisan committee that look into this. As you'll remember, Republicans looked into Benghazi. Those hearings went on for a while. This is fairly common to do this.
But I think that the president-elect, when he takes office, we have a unified government. They're going to hit the ground running. He already listed all the things that are his priorities, repealing Obamacare, the wall, it goes on and on. He listed several of those appointees, Supreme Court justice, those are going to be his priorities.
Yes, this will get headlines, I absolutely agree with that. But the president-elect's priority is the American people and he's not going to take his eyes off that.
COOPER: Paul, it's also interesting, because this is a reversal for Senator Burr.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Big time. Senator Burr from North Carolina signed on to be one of Donald Trump's national security advisors during the campaign. Then, he said yesterday, as Phil reported, we're not going to look into any potential ties between that campaign, which he advised, and the Russians. Now, he says he will.
Color me skeptical about Richard Burr's bipartisan credentials, but he did get the top Democrat in the committee, Mark Warner, to sign on to this investigation. Democrats have a lot of faith in Warner. So, we'll see.
The things we know are stunning, we know that the Russians hacked the Democrats. We know they did it because they preferred Trump, and Putin personally approved it because he hated Hillary and preferred Trump. We know they timed it to do maximum damage to Democrats.
What we don't know is did Trump or his campaign know. Worse, did Trump or his campaign collude? We don't know these things. These are the things that they have --
COOPER: You said we know this, though. I mean, U.S. intelligence says this is what they believe that this went to the highest -- the highest levels and the highest levels, that means Putin. They haven't directly said we know 100 percent Vladimir Putin --
BEGALA: I watched the public testimony, of course. They said with high degree of confidence and, in fact, Director Clapper said, my resolve is more solid today than when I first issued the report back in October.
So, you're right. I was probably too hard to say we know. Our intelligence community, all 17 agencies, say with the highest level of certainty they can muster this is true. We don't know is where this investigation is going to go.
BURNS: Well, and we heard Rex Tillerson say this week that based on his knowledge of Russia, this is something that would have likely have gone to the top. Not a conclusion that's being challenged from the other side, particularly aggressively.
COOPER: We've got to take a break.
Much more to talk about, including strong words from civil rights icon and Democratic congressman, John Lewis. Why he says Donald Trump is not a legitimate president. That's next.
Plus, more on the Russia story, specifically the Senate investigating possible contact between Moscow and the Trump team. Stories focusing attention on the national security advisor designate and his call or text to Russia's ambassador to the U.S., especially the timing of it.
More on that, ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:17:12] COOPER: Well, the other breaking story today, civil rights icon and Democratic congressman, John Lewis, says he will not consider Donald Trump a legitimate president and he says he's planning on doing something he's never done since being elected to Congress. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.
CHUCK TODD, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": You do not consider him a legitimate president. Why is that?
LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It would be the first one that I miss since I've been in the Congress.
You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong. I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open democratic process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman Lewis says he believes Russia helped destroy Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and conspired to help Donald Trump win the White House.
Back with our panel.
I mean, Paul, look, I get he doesn't like Donald Trump. I get he doesn't want to accept the results of the election. But is this helpful in any way to have Congressman John Lewis, who's obviously a highly figure for his civil rights record -- I mean, if a Republican said this about a President-elect Hillary Clinton, Democrats would be up in arms.
BEGALA: Or if a Republican had said Barack Obama wasn't born in America, we need to see his birth certificate, that would be an outrage. There's no evidence that Obama was born in Kenya and yet Trump pushed that lie.
This -- I haven't talked to Mr. Lewis. When you look at that tape, that's coming from a place of pain, not partisanship. My own view is that election is tainted, but the presidency will be legitimate. And I think Democrats do need to accept that.
But the problem that Trump has s hasn't brought John Lewis on board who should be easy. He is not a very partisan guy actually. He is an icon of the civil rights movement. He believes in the beloved community that Martin Luther King preached.
He -- Trump only has a 37 percent approval rating in his transition, 37 percent. George W. Bush who many people thought was illegitimate, like me, was at 61 percent. He spent -- it was a very brief transition because of the recount, spent that time reaching out and building support across the aisle. Trump has done none of that. His transition has been utter, utter failure.
COOPER: Is it, Kayleigh? I mean, is it the job of Donald Trump to reach out to John Lewis? Or is it the job -- I mean, John Lewis, we should say he believes in forgiveness, he said, and trying to work with people. But, I mean, saying Donald Trump is not a legitimate president, that's not going to help the working relationship.
MCENANY: No, it's not. And we -- I would disagree with Paul, but he has tried to reach out during this transition.
[20:20:03] And we have seen a fairly fruitful relationship between President Obama and President-elect Trump, and I give Obama credit for that.
But in all due respect to Congressman Lewis, right now, he is putting being a liberal leftist above being an American. He is putting self- interests and partisan interests above American interests. That is a despicable comment to say that he is not a legitimate president and to not show up for the inauguration. That's very upsetting.
And if he thinks that Russia destroyed Hillary Clinton's chances, he needs to look inward. Because what destroyed Hillary's chances were a private server in a basement, where the DNC damning Bernie Sanders candidacy before it began, he need to look inward and stop blaming third party, stop blaming a great guy, FBI Director Jim Comey, and stop blaming the Russians and look inward.
HABERMAN: I think Congressman Lewis as a civil rights icon is going to come at this and be seen from a different perspective and through less of a lens of partisanship. I do think there is a risk since he has said what I have heard a lot of Democrats say privately, certainly not elected officials, have said more publicly, but elected officials have said it privately. I think the risk for Trump this does seep into the consciousness. You do have other elected officials who will say something like that.
It will aggravate Trump enormously as we discussed before. He does not like the view that his presidency could be an asterisk in some way. And I think that if Trump -- it is not just that he has not really reached out to the other side. He has been in campaign mode eventually since the election. And that has not really changed.
There have been elements where he has certainly had conversations with President Obama, they have spoken a bunch. He spoke to Chuck Schumer. He also then called Chuck Schumer for disagreeing with him on Twitter. That actually might bring them cover to some extent, but this is not exactly sort of more shaming and harmony. I think there is a greater risk for Donald Trump in this than there is to Congressman Lewis.
COOPER: But, you know, I mean, Alex, again, I come back to I just remember before the election, there was all this talk of would Donald Trump accept the results of the election? And a lot of Democrats -- there's a lot of handwringing what if he doesn't and how terrible that will be? I mean, can't Republicans point to John Lewis and say, well, that's what John Lewis is doing?
BURNS: Sure. I think a lot of Republicans will see this as a comment that crossed the line, although I think they'll be very careful about taking on John Lewis personally because of the status he enjoys sort of historically in American politics.
I do think -- you know, Paul sort of mentioned briefly George W. Bush. When you talk to folks who were involved in George W. Bush's first term, coming into office with more people having voted for somebody else, they talk about just how politically perilous that was and how important it was to do these kind of ostentatious and in many cases really substantive displays of bipartisan, working with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind in that first year in office, right? That it was really important for him to convince Americans, not that he was a legitimate president because people, you know, by and large, accepted that but that he was able to represent everybody, right?
And when you look at the polling for Trump, it is why what Lewis is saying is dangerous for Trump as well, right, that he comes in on weaker footing than any president he's had in modern times. And, actually, that's why plenty of Democrats would prefer that John Lewis not go out there and say this because for a lot of sort of more cautious people in the party, they think the circumstances speak for themselves.
MCENANY: I understand Maggie's point about attacking Schumer on Twitter. I understand that. That was after him personally being attacked.
But I disagree with the notion entirely that Trump hasn't reached across the aisle. He brought Al Gore --
BURNS: I didn't say that.
MCENANY: He brought Al Gore into his office. He brought Tulsi Gabbard into his office.
BURNS: I didn't say that.
MCENANY: He brought union leaders. He brought union leaders into his office.
MCENANY: So, this notion he hasn't tried to be bipartisan I think is false one.
HABERMAN: It's not that he had -- what I said and I think that's what you're responding to, is not that he hasn't tried to be partisan. He has continued his slash and burn approach. That is very different than George W. Bush.
And I think that I agree that I think most people will see the election and the presidency as legitimate but I do think that for Trump, going in as Alex said, with such a perilous approval rating, that's just the reality. Things are going to get difficult.
COOPER: We've got to leave you there. Enjoy the rest of your Friday the 13th.
More on tonight's breaking news, specifically the focus on Donald Trump's national security advisor designate Michael Flynn, his ties to the Russia and the Russian diplomat he was in contact with that the day sanctions in Moscow were announced.
We'll be right back.
[20:28:24] COOPER: More on tonight's breaking news. The Senate Intelligence Committee announcing bipartisan plans to investigate the Russian meddling in the election, including, quote, "links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns." Their words.
So far, one name stands out -- incoming Trump national security adviser, Michael Flynn. More on the details of that now from CNN chief national security advisor correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, confirmation that President-elect Trump's national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, was in contact with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. the very same day the Obama administration announced retaliation for Russia's unprecedented cyberattack of the 2016 election.
In late December, the Trump transition team says Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak exchanged a series of text messages and a phone call. On Christmas day, December 25th, Flynn texted the Russian ambassador, quote, "I want to wish you a merry Christmas and happy New Year. I look forward to touching base with you and working with you and I wish you all the best." The Russian ambassador texted him, wishing him a merry Christmas in return.
Then, on December 28th, the Russian ambassador texted Flynn again and said, "I'd like to give a call, may I?" That phone call happened on December 29th, the same day the White House announced sanctions on Russia and ordered some 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country immediately.
Trump's transition team says the men did not discuss sanctions on Russia. Instead, their conversation was focused on arranging a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Trump after the inauguration.
Today, the White House says its reaction depends.
[20:30:00] JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You could imagine why these kinds of -- why these kinds of interactions may take place, why the incoming national security advisor may have the need to contact the representative of a foreign government that's based here in Washington, D.C. It depends on what they discussed. It depends on what he said in terms of whether or not we would have significant objections about those conversations.
SCIUTTO: Flynn's ties to Russia have been scrutinized since the moment Trump tapped him to be his closest advisor on national security.
Flynn was seated right next to President Putin at a Russian media gala in December of 2015 and previously had a paid speaking gig with "Russia Today", the Kremlin's T.V. network before he took taking on a formal campaign role.
Today, Trump again denied claims that Russia has compromising information on him, and continued to accuse the intelligence chiefs of leaking the allegations. He tweeted, "It was probably released by intelligence even knowing there is no proof and never will be."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jim, I understand a transition official told CNN that the two men are not in frequent contact. Is that the case and what else do we know?
SCIUTTO: That's right, not in frequent contact. They also say that on December 29th conversation, the day of those new sanctions being imposed on Russia, the two men did not talk about the sanctions.
But they have talked about many other issues, for instance, when the Russian ambassador was killed in Turkey, also an invitation from Russia for the U.S. to participate in Syria peace talks, so an ongoing conversation. But of course, Anderson, as relations between the U.S. and Russia have gotten worse particularly over the election related medley.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto. Jim, thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up right after commercial break, Donald Trump had said obviously repeatedly that he's going to build a wall. Now, he says Mexico is going to reimburse the United States for it.
CNN has learned that the Trump team is already talking about how to build it in spite of potential legal obstacles. We'll take a look at that next.
And later, a child stolen at birth. This is an extraordinary story, was found today 18 years after being snatched from a hospital when she was just eight hours old. The woman accused of the kidnapping has been arrested. Details, I mean, incredible story ahead.
[20:36:04] COOPER: Of course it was a big theme in Donald Trump's campaign is going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, which is recently more often (ph) to making Americans pay for and then trying to get Mexico to pay us back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to build a wall. I could wait about a year-and-a-half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get to office. But I don't want to wait.
Mike Pence is leading an effort to get final approvals through various agencies and through Congress for the wall to begin. I don't feel like waiting a year or a year-and-a-half. We're going to start building it.
Mexico, in some form, and there are many different forms, will reimburse us. And they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Mexico obviously said repeatedly, it's not paying. And that's not the only hurdle that Mr. Trump will face as he tries to build it. There are legal obstacles, environmental laws to name a few.
But CNN has learned that Trump's team is already talking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department to try to get it built.
Rene Marsh joins us now with the latest on that. So I notice that you're learning about a visit by the president-elect's transition team to the Interior Department that happened last month.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So the Interior Department, Anderson, is one of many agencies that would be involved if a wall is built along the southern border. It overseas federal lands, and as you said, environmental laws.
So a U.S. official tells me that there were members of Trump's transition team there at the agency. They had several questions. Some of their questions included, you know, how many miles of wall would be necessary to properly secure the southern border. They also wanted to know how long it would take to construct a wall given potential legal complications or legal obstacles.
The source telling me, it appeared as if members of the transition team were trying to gauge what were the potential regulatory obstacles that might get in the way of building the wall, Anderson.
COOPER: What about contact with the Army Corps of Engineers because obviously they would be involved soon.
MARSH: Right. So DOD official telling CNN that members of Trump's transition team has also been in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, specifically the southwest division.
The southwest division has constructed fencing along the southern border before in the past. And we are told that some of the questions that the Trump transition team asked included cost. They wanted to know about cost. Then they also wanted to know how they were able to construct that fencing previously.
Of course we know the Army Corps of Engineers, they would be the ones to execute this project. They would help in engineering and building that wall if it does indeed happen.
COOPER: Right. And Donald Trump has always made the distinction between fencing and actual wall, which what he says he wants.
The Department of Homeland Security, they would also have to prepare for the president-elect's plans.
MARSH: Absolutely. And actually, the information that I'm getting is the moment that Donald Trump was elected as president, there -- conversations began at the Department of Homeland Security. And those discussions essentially were in preparation for the scenario that one day they are told that they have to make this happen.
So a part of those conversations involved identifying what's the priority area along the southern border. Where would we start? Where would we start first as it relates to erecting that wall? And that's the nature of the conversations that have been happening at DHS.
We should point out. We did reach out to the Trump transition team but did not receive a response, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Rene Marsh, I appreciate that.
Joining us now, CNN Political Commentary and Trump Supporter, Jeffrey Lord and from the Labor, Secretary Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy of Berkley and the author of "Saving Capitalism: For Many, Not The Few."
Secretary Reich, how realistic is it do you think for the president- elect to believe that Mexico is going to reimburse for the U.S wall? I mean, he says payment will likely come from the re-negotiation of NAFTA. He's also talked about through taxing remittances.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: It's completely ridiculous. I mean, the president of Mexico two days ago assured Mexicans there was no way Mexico is going to pay for this wall.
[20:40:06] This is a folly. The wall itself is a folly. It's based, Anderson, on a very big lie that Donald Trump told over and over during the election, and that is that we have a gigantic problem of undocumented workers coming in from Mexico.
And in fact, the reality is that there is a dramatic decline in the number of undocumented workers coming into this country, even the Department of Homeland Security is saying that. This wall is going to be expensive. It's going to be costing -- in fact the best estimate I've seen, the most accurate and detailed estimate is $25 billion.
Think of all of the education, all of the kids, all of the health care that we could be providing for $25 billion, and American taxpayers are going to be stuck paying this.
COOPER: Jeff, what about that? I mean, the Mexican president once again did say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.
JEFFREY LORD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR: Well, what we're seeing play out here in realtime is a negotiation with the man who wrote "The Art of the Deal." Number one, he's a builder. This is what he -- he's done professionally all his life. He knows how to build buildings. He knows how to build walls. He's very, very good at it.
Number two, as you've hinted out here, Anderson, I mean visa fees, border card fees, wire transfers, there are all manner of things, trade negotiations that will result in payments from Mexico to the United States. So, I mean, I'm very confident in his ability to do this.
COOPER: I want to play, Secretary Reich, something that the president-elect said about the wall during his press conference the other day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But I say who's going to pay for the wall? And they will scream out, Mexico. Now, reports went out last week, "Oh, Mexico's not going to pay for the wall because of a reimbursement." What's the difference?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is there a difference between payment and reimbursement, I mean if the U.S. is actually reimbursed for the price? Is it a distinction --
REICH: No. In economic terms -- Anderson, in economic terms, yes, Mexico supposedly would reimburse or pay. There's not a great deal of economic difference. But there's no reason to suppose that Mexican -- well Mexico wants to do this.
And the argument that, after all, Donald Trump wrote the book, "The Art of the deal", makes that possible is utterly foolish. It's not politically realistic. Donald Trump may be a good deal maker when it comes to business, and I'm not even sure of that, or erecting giant edifices like Trump Tower. But when it comes to actually political, international political negotiations, we have no evidence that he understands anything.
Mexico is our ally. Mexico is our southern border. We need and have maintained and must have good relationships with Mexico for all kinds of reasons. We are dependent on Mexico just as Mexico is dependent on us. You know, we don't want drugs coming in from Mexico. We need Mexico's cooperation on guns and on drugs.
And we need Mexico's cooperation with regard to trade. Mexico is a gigantic and important ally. And here we have the same --
LORD: -- Mr. Secretary, if they were such a good partner, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.
REICH: Well, as I said, as I said, there is no problem here. If you've listened to what I say and if you'd listen to what the experts are saying, there is no problem. You know, we know, even the Department of Homeland Security is saying that there is no problem of actual Mexican -- Mexicans crossing the border illegally. It has gone down.
We have the lowest level right now of interventions of Mexican crossing the border, and so we've had it since 1973.
LORD: Well, Mr. Secretary --
REICH: We're spending -- and that's not the -- and that's not just because we are spend -- we are spending $8 billion already a year on border patrols, but we've been spending that for years and the rate is going down.
COOPER: Jeff, go ahead.
LORD: Mr. Secretary, if you would listen to the CNN Town Hall last night, you would have heard a woman stand up and talk about her son who was killed by an illegal immigrant who was deported several times. They are here. They are doing these things. We have to have control of our border. This is a country of immigrants. The entire country is --
REICH: No, this is, this is just a sort of policymaking. This is -- this is kind of policymaking by anecdote.
REICH: Now, wait a minute, can I say something here? Because a policymaking by anecdote is not accurate policymaking. You need to look at the data. I know the Trump administration does not want to look at data with regard to the environment and global --
LORD: Well, Mr. Secretary --
REICH: -- and global warming and climate change and intelligence and Russia. You've got to look at data. There is such thing as facts in the world.
COOPER: Jeff, go ahead. Jeff, Jeff go ahead.
LORD: Well, Mr. Secretary, all I can tell you is I listen to all sorts of experts, "the data" in this election. And they said Hillary Clinton was going to be elected president and they were wrong.
REICH: Does that mean that we live in a world in which there are no facts? [20:45:03] Now, honestly, this is what interests me. Because when you're talking about Mexican illegal immigration, or you're talking about the intelligence community and Russia and hacking, or you're talking about climate change, are we now living in a world or are we soon to live in a world under Donald Trump in which truth and facts are all just the basis --
LORD: Truth, facts and science matter.
COOPER: Jeffrey, quick and we got to go.
LORD: Truth, facts and science, I might add, matter.
COOPER: All right.
REICH: Well, I'm glad to hear that.
COOPER: We're going to leave the conversation there. Secretary Reich and Jeffrey Lord, thank you both.
When Sasha and Malia Obama went to check out their new house, the White House in 2008, President George W. Bush' daughters showed them around. Now, the Bush daughters have some advice for Obama sisters about being former first kids. That's next.
COOPER: A few people know what it's like to be the daughter of a president and what it's like to move to into the White House, what its like to move out. Sasha and Malia Obama are getting some advice from two other sisters who know what they are going through. Randi Kaye has that.
(BEING VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE W. BUSH: Eight years ago, on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps at the White House.
[20:50:02] RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Barbara Bush on the "Today's" show, sharing the new letter she and her sister, Jenna Bush, have written to the Obama girls.
A lot has changed in the eight years since the Bush twins first met Sasha and Malia. Back then, the Obama girls were just 7 and 10.
B. BUSH: The four of us wondered the majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move into. When you slid down the bannister of the solarium, just as we had done as 8-year-olds and again as 20-year- olds chasing our youth, your joy and laughter were contagious.
JENNA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE W. BUSH: In eight years, you have done so much, seen so much. You stood at the gates of the Robben Island cell where South Africa's Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades, your arms around your father. KAYE: The Bush twins had also penned a letter to Sasha and Malia back in 2009 titled, "Playing house in the White House." Then 27, Jenna and Barbara Bush offered this advice, "Surround yourself with loyal friends. They'll protect and calm you. And join in on some of the fun and appreciate the history. And that cherish your animals because sometimes you'll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide."
Their most important piece of advice years ago, "Our dad, like yours, is a man of great integrity and love. Remember who your dad really is."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR of "FIRST WOMEN": It's really an exclusive club among presidential children. And they do keep in touch. There's an empathy there because they've all been through it, and no one knows what that's like to be in that kind of public spotlight when you're so young.
KAYE: In her new letter, Jenna and Barbara Bush told Sasha and Malia how they watched them grow into impressive women with grace and ease. They remarked, so they were glad the Obama girls had each other just as the Bush twins did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Their letter encouraged the Obama girls to hold on to the memories, but also, embolden them to chart their own path.
B. BUSH: Explore your passion. Learn who you are. Make mistakes, you're allowed to. Continue to surround yourselves with loyal friends who know you, adore you and will fiercely protect you.
J. BUSH: Take all that you have seen, the people you have met, the lessons you have learned and let those help guide you in making positive change.
KAYE: In closing, a sense of solidarity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who have never even met them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents who put you first and not only showed you but gave you the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin this next chapter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so will we.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Randi joins us now. Now, it's truly a nice idea of, you know, grown kids giving advice to others who, you know, were now going through what they went through. It's not unique though to the kids, of course.
KAYE: Absolutely not, nor the parents do. The first couple that comes in has actually given advice as well. Because I guess, you know, as a first child, you get pretty lonely even with the secret service and all those around.
So years ago, actually Barbara Bush told Hillary Clinton that she should bring someone Chelsea's age, whether it's a friend, or a cousin, or some sort of family member to the White House to spend time there as much as they could to keep Chelsea company because it does get so lonely.
COOPER: We should also (ph) -- and you have a documentary tonight at 9:00 about Michelle Obama and her legacy.
KAYE: Yeah. We take a look back during that special hour, her journey really from the southside of Chicago where she grew up very poor. She went to Princeton and Harvard. And, you know, she eventually became this very reluctant campaigner as you know.
And then her husband went to White House, she becomes this mom-in- chief and then eventually, really a voice for so many young women and girls around the world. So we have a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: And I have to tell you that I, I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the most profound feminist without being labeled that, because she stood up for girls, and she stood up for women when they were being bullied from the most powerful platform in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She spoke for so many women when she said, "I feel this in my core. This is unacceptable."
M. OBAMA: Because remember this, when they go low, we go
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): High.
M. OBAMA: Yes, we do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michelle Obama slayed a dragon for girls and for women forever and that's, that's when you felt like your mom had come to school and gotten the bully and said, you know, "Not my girls." The voice that she gave to women and girls, that's her legacy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're really looking at Michelle Obama's legacy, the thing that rises to the top, because it is so powerful, is what it meant for everybody and also for African-Americans to see her as first lady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:55:12] COOPER: I look forward to that. Randi, thanks very much.
Be sure to stay tuned to CNN, "Top of the Hour", when Randi hosts the "CNN Special Report, History Made: The Legacy of Michelle Obama."
Coming up, she was kidnapped as a newborn baby. This is an extraordinary story. Now, 18 years later, she has been found living with the woman she thought was her mother. The amazing story next.
COOPER: Before we go tonight, an incredible end to a mom's search for her kidnapped daughter, and then in that is really just the beginning.
Shanara Mobley's newborn baby girl was kidnapped from a Florida hospital by a woman dressed as a nurse 18 years ago. And now, DNA tests have shown that that baby girl has been growing up in South Carolina with a woman all along she thought was her mother.
That woman has been arrested and charged with a kidnaping. She allegedly used fraudulent document -- documents to establish a new identity for the girl who is now 18. The young woman was found after a series of tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A sheriff says her biological parents and grandmother are excited and overwhelmed. And she's taking it as well as you can imagine since she has "a lot to process, a lot to think about", according to sheriff.
She's reportedly spoken with her biological parents on the phone and via skype. And we certainly wish her the best in that reunion.
That does it for us. Thanks for watching.
The "CNN Special Report, History Made: The Legacy of Michelle Obama" starts now.