Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump: New Executive Order on Travel Ban Possible; U.S. Investigators Corroborate Some Aspects of Trump/Russia Dossier; Official: Flynn Talked Sanctions with Russia, Despite Denial; Official: Flynn Talked Sanctions With Russia, Despite Denial; Trump to Dems: "Pocahontas is Now the Face of Your Party"; Trump Renews Unsubstantiated Claims of Voter Fraud; Secretary Devos Briefly Blocked From Entering D.C. School; Members of Congress Face Angry Crowds at Town Halls; Town Halls Turn Angry Over Obamacare Repeal Debate; Terror Attack Survivors at Odds Over Travel Ban. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 10, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: A very good evening to you. I'm Jim Sciutto, filling in for Anderson tonight. Thank you for joining us on what is a very busy news Friday night.
At the end of the third full week of his presidency, Donald Trump has landed in Florida aboard Air Force One. His travel ban, though, still very much in the air.
The breaking news tonight, after a loss in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a tweet from the president saying, quote, "see you in court", the Trump administration may not in fact appeal the decision after all. At least not right away. That is according to a source familiar with the situation.
The president himself meanwhile is still promising victory, while at the same time still leaving the door open to just go back to the drawing board.
Here's what he said on Air Force One just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will win that battle. The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily, so it takes a little time, but we will win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now with the latest.
So, Pam, help clear this up about what the most likely, I don't know if it's decided yet, but the most likely next step of the administration. PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, just based on what we
heard President Trump say aboard Air Force One, he made it very clear that one of the options the administration is seriously considering is issuing this brand-new executive order with new security measures and he indicated that may be a better option because it could be more expedient than moving through the court system. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What are some of the changes that you're looking for --
TRUMP: Very little. Just in honor of the decision, we will perhaps do that. We'll see, but on Monday or Tuesday.
REPORTER: You talked about new security measures. Is that separate from potentially writing a new --
TRUMP: We're going to have very, very strong vetting. I call it extreme vetting and we're going to have very strong security in our country. We are going to have people come in our country that want to be here for good reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And as the administration is figuring everything out, the district court in Seattle has asked for both parties of this lawsuit to submit their plans. There were also be a hearing there on Monday, which, of course, we're following closely, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So, an option, of course, as the president mentioned, is to reissue the order, amend the order. But he could also still take this case to the Supreme Court?
BROWN: He could. So, nothing has been ruled out, according to the White House. But we're being told that is unlikely, though it could still happen. Sources I have spoken to say that the plan right now is not to immediately appeal to the Supreme Court, because there is a fear in the White House that it could lose again on a 4-4 split at the Supreme Court. Meaning the Ninth Circuit Court Decision to keep the ban on hold would continue.
Long term now, it could end up before the Supreme Court on the merits of this case. And if that happens, a source close to the White House tells me the administration would want the ninth seat to be filled with President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.
So, as one source told me today, it's sort of like a Rubik's cube, with the timing, and, you know, the case proceeding, and Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearing. There's a lot at play here that they're trying to figure out.
SCIUTTO: No question. There's a lot of other interim steps that could happen, because we're learning as well that you had a 3-0 decision, but it's possible that more judges on the Ninth Circuit, what's called en banc. Explain with that, how that would work. BROWN: Right. It is possible. So, basically one judge is interested
in the full court taking up this issue, an en banc, as you point out. But a majority of judges on this liberal-leaning court would have to agree, that is unlikely. But this puts the administration in a tough position because it has to decide whether it wants to move forward with an appeal or write a next executive order.
So, this essentially forces them to make this decision by next Thursday, yet another twist in this legal drama concerning the travel ban.
SCIUTTO: We're getting this sort of running civics and legal lesson as we follow this case.
SCIUTTO: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Joining me now is former U.S. citizenship and immigration services director, Leon Rodriguez. Also, Harvard Law School professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, and constitutional law professor Elizabeth Foley.
Thanks to all of you tonight help us wade through this a bit.
And, Professor Dershowitz, if I could start with you. So, after the ruling came down last night from the Ninth Circuit, from these three judge, you called it. You said that a whole new executive order was certainly an option for the administration. Do you think Trump was listening to you? Is this the path do you think he's going to follow?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think he should follow it. When I first proposed that -- I proposed it instantaneously -- I got laughed at and pooh-poohed by some of the pundits on some of the TV shows, saying the president would never follow this.
But he's being smart, I think. He's being smart, he's understanding that he has many, many options. Now, there's a new option that just got presented. Judge Thomas who is the chief judge and the administrator of the en banc process in the Ninth Circuit, has just responding on his own, asked to rehear the case en banc.
[20:05:01] There are some problems about that. Usually, in order to bring a case en banc, the government of the United States needs the approval of the solicitor general's office, and it's hard to understand how a court can take the case when neither side wants to take the case where is the case in controversy. But the Ninth Circuit does this all the time.
And so, it's possible that on their own they may decide to bring 11 judges and to reconsider the three-judge panel decision, and that would be a win-win for the Trump administration. It wouldn't have to do anything. It would get a free appeal, if it loses, not its fault. If it wins, hey, it has a victory. SCIUTTO: Professor Foley, what's your reaction to the president's
comments regarding the possibility of a new executive order? How would that look? And would it solve the problems that he has?
LEON RODRIGUEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: I think your -- Director Rodriguez --
SCIUTTO: Sorry, Director, apologies, I'm turning to you.
But let me go to Professor Foley first and then I'll come to Director Rodriguez.
ELIZABETH FOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Yes, I think it could solve a lot of President Trump's problems with this executive order. You know, basically, this would be a repeal-and-replace effort. He could go back to the drawing board, get it right this time, exclude the lawful permanent residence, probably also prospectively make the visa holders subject to the executive orders, which would essentially grandfather anybody who had a visa already.
That would mute out a lot of people that want to challenge the revised executive order. It would also give him the opportunity to put in that executive order, sort of lay the foundation for the national security threat that he believes is posed by individuals from these seven countries, which would make the record clearer for any future court reviewing it.
SCIUTTO: Leon, you know the specifics of how immigration works, citizenship, et cetera. If you were the president, what changes to the original executive order would you make to make it more likely to pass legal review?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, honestly, the first thing is that I would remind the president, that the procedure that is actually in place is very, very strong vetting. It relies on a multitude of law enforcement and intelligence databases. There are interviews by highly trained officers. And in fact, it's a process that's actually been working very well.
So, actually, what I would tell him is to rely on the process that for decades has worked very well. And to remember that one of this country's most honored traditions is the fact that it has welcomed refugees in very, very dire circumstances often.
SCIUTTO: Professor Dershowitz, does that make sense to you as well, if the administration takes this step?
DERSHOWITZ: No. That's just rhetoric and it won't work. The administration is not going to simply accept the current situation. Even the Obama administration didn't accept the current situation. It introduced these seven countries and not for this purpose.
But for purposes of applying a double standard, there will be a change and the change will involve these seven countries, it may involve additional countries. It may also include Egypt and other countries. If they can find a non-Muslim country that stimulates terrorism, they would obviously want to put that in there.
But, no, they're going to keep a lot of the restrictions, particularly on people who have never come into the country. So, the civil libertarians and the immigration people are not going to get the whole loaf. The people who want the old process are not going to get their whole loaf. We're going to see some compromise and my hope is in the end, we have something that secures the safety of all Americans without compromising the constitutional rights of anybody.
SCIUTTO: Professor Foley, according to the administration official, the administration, the president, not ruled out taking this to the Supreme Court. You heard Pamela Brown reporting it's very unlikely because they might very well face a 4-4 split there. That is unless they can get their nominee, Judge Gorsuch into place there.
How do you analyze the chances of that option working, taking into the Supreme Court in the end?
FOLEY: Yes. I think taking this to the Supreme Court would be a losing proposition, which is why I think President Trump said what he did today. I think he finally realizes that. I think the lawyers and his administration are getting through to him. I think he finally is begging to trust some of the lawyers in this administration the way he should, because essentially, you already have bad precedent on the books from the Ninth Circuit on the issue of standing, which is what all of this litigation has been about thus far, is that sort of technical procedural issue. And, you know, you don't want to have -- make things worse by possibly taking the risk that the Supreme Court could affirm that bad precedent on standing.
So, I think you just let the sleeping dog lie, and if you want to sort of expeditiously take care of national security concerns, you go ahead and you rescind this executive order, you repeal and you replace, and you can hopefully get your extreme vetting measures in, much more expeditiously.
[20:10:05] You know, their original goal was to get these revised vetting procedures in place between 90 and 120 days from the day that the original executive order. I think, now, there's tremendous pressure on the Trump administration to go ahead and get those vetting procedures in place, maybe within the next 30 days.
SCIUTTO: Well, a lot of decisions made by the administration. We're going to be following this very closely.
Leon Rodriguez, Alan Dershowitz, Elizabeth Foley, thanks very much.
And coming up, our exclusive new reporting about allegations raised in that highly controversial dossier compiled for political opponents of Donald Trump. U.S. investigators confirming to CNN for the first time that at least some of the information contained that dossier is corroborated, and national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, now changing his story about whether he had conversations with the Russian ambassador over the lifting of sanctions against Russia. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCIUTTO: There is more breaking now tonight and a CNN exclusive. CNN has learned new information about the ongoing investigation into allegations raised in a collection of memos created by a former British intelligence agent for political opponents of then-candidate Donald Trump. For the first time, U.S. investigators tell CNN that they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in that 35- page dossier compiled by that former British MI6 agent.
[20:15:09] CNN was first to report last month that then-President- elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the memos prior to the inauguration.
Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and I have been working the story. Evan and Pam join me now.
So, Evan, why is this corroboration of some details contained in this dossier important?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, until now, U.S. officials have said that none of the content or allegations have been verified. But now, multiple current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials tell us CNN that intelligence intercepts of foreign nationals confirmed some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier.
The corroboration is based on intercepted communications that give U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, quote, "greater confidence" in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents.
Now, we should be clear that CNN has not confirmed the content of the calls or whether any of the content actually relates to then-candidate Trump and none of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier.
Reached for comment on this story this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, quote, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting."
And I should add that the FBI, Department of Justice, CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence all had no comment on this story, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So, Pam, there's a lot of information in the dossier. Help me explain to our viewers what investigators are telling us that they have confirmed and have not yet confirmed?
BROWN: Well, remember that the goal of this counterintelligence investigation is to figure out whether there was truth to those allegations that Russians were seeking to compromise President Trump to start investigators look for information that they could verify easily, to give them a sense of the credibility of the author, who is already someone that they were familiar with as having credible source. And the memos detail about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals, so that was one of the starting points. And the one thing the U.S. has is foreign call intercepts, so that they use that information to seek to verify some of the alleged conversations described in the dossier.
And U.S. intelligence officials are emphasizing to us that the conversations they now verified were solely between foreign nationals including those in or tied to the Russian government, intercepted during routine intelligence gathering. But some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were known to the U.S. intelligence community as heavily involved in collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump. Now, sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of U.S. intelligence collection programs -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Evan, we have been very careful throughout reporting this story going back weeks, of specifying exactly what's been confirmed and what has not been confirmed. Help explain to our viewers what investigators still cannot verify at this point.
PEREZ: That's right. As we said, one of the officials stressed to CNN, that they have not corroborated the, quote, "more salacious things" alleged in the dossier. And I'll remind our viewers that CNN has not reported any of the salacious allegations. However, when we first reported this story, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials said they had not corroborated any parts of the memos.
And what they're now saying that they've corroborated at least some of these communications. None of the officials we spoke to for this story would comment or confirm that they had proof of any alleged conversations or meetings between Russian officials and U.S. citizens, including associates of then-candidate Donald Trump. Officials who spoke to CNN for this story cautioned that they have not reached any judgment on whether the Russian government has any compromising information about the president. And we should remember that President Trump and his staff have repeatedly dismissed this dossier, Jim, as phony.
SCIUTTO: Evan and Pam, thanks very much. I can assure our viewers that this is a story we're going to continue to follow.
And I want to add that Sean Spicer, White House spokesman, did call us back again to emphasize his very severe displeasure with the story. He said, and I'm quoting him directly, "It is about time that CNN focus on the success the president has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The president won the election because of his vision and message for the nation." That's the end of his statement here.
Thanks to Evan Perez and Pamela Brown.
There is more breaking news tonight. A U.S. official is confirming to CNN that despite numerous denials, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador did speak about sanctions during at least one phone call. A heavily sourced report in "The Washington Post" lays out the exact time line.
Jake Tapper reports the details.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bombshell out of Washington today.
[20:20:00] Nine current and former government officials told "The Washington Post" that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russia's ambassador before taking office, despite both Flynn and the White House insisting that was not the case.
Sources tell CNN the communications occurred in December, just as the Obama administration was announcing retaliatory sanctions against Russia for interfering with U.S. elections.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can do stuff to you.
GREG MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Some officials were actually characterizing what was said in the calls, right? It's not just, oh, this subject came up. It is, Flynn was conveying a signal here, a clear signal to the Russian ambassador, don't overreact to the sanctions the Obama team is announcing; we're going to have time to revisit this later.
TAPPER: Sources told "The Washington Post" the private conversations between Flynn and Russia's Sergey Kislyak were explicit contradictions to President Obama's actions.
But this is what Vice President Mike Pence told CBS.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.
TAPPER: That forceful denial turns out to be false. Did the vice president know he was repeating a falsehood? Or did General Flynn lie to Pence?
Vice President Pence's office today said the reports are a problem they will get to the bottom of, adding that the vice president had only conveyed what he had been told, creating tension between Flynn and Pence seen here earlier today.
And here's what Sean Spicer had to say about Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The call centered around logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect. They exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and to schedule that call. That was it, plain and simple.
TAPPER: Flynn himself denied the contents of the call when asked Wednesday by "The Post."
MILLER: He was adamant. He said no. In fact, he said no twice. We asked him, did you ever discuss this subject with the Russian ambassador? No was the answer. And then the answer changed the next day.
TAPPER: But an aide close to Flynn now tells CNN his boss, quote, "can't rule it out" that they discussed the sanctions.
The shocking revelations also might shed light on the likely reason Vladimir Putin did not retaliate against the Obama sanctions.
TONY BLINKEN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: That's been past practice. And you have to wonder whether, in fact, he was told: hold off, don't do anything.
TAPPER: Soon after Putin's decision in December, then president-elect Trump tweeted: "Great move on delay by Vladimir Putin. I always knew he was very smart."
Was Putin being smart, or did he just have information the rest of us did not?
Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.
SCIUTTO: Well, the news about Flynn is apparently news to the president. The original report in "The Washington Post" came out last night, but Trump said today, in fact, just a short time ago, he didn't know anything about it.
Jeff Zeleny joins me now live from the White House.
So, Jeff, this story on Flynn breaking in a major way today, but the president telling reporters he has yet to hear about them?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, that's right. He was traveling down to Florida on Air Force One, and he came back to talk to reporters and he was asked about a number of things, his executive orders and this story specifically. He said it was news to him. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?
REPORTER: "The Washington Post" is reporting that he talked to the ambassador of Russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions being --
TRUMP: I haven't seen that. I'll look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY: Now, there's no doubt that he had a busy day meeting with the prime minister of Japan here, other meetings. But it is very difficult to believe he did not know about this report. A, we know he reads the newspaper. It was on the front page of the "Washington Post". It was on CNN throughout day and other channels as well. His administration confirmed it. His vice president was concerned by the fact that this happened and he was not made aware of this.
So, Jim, it's pretty difficult at this late hour in the day, the president did not know about it.
SCIUTTO: No question. Do we know yet -- and I realize it's early in this investigation, but what potential repercussions General Flynn could be facing?
ZELENY: Jim, I think credibility is the biggest thing inside this White House. He led the vice president to believe that he did not talk about sanctions at all with the Russian ambassador. So, the vice president went out on television and said that simply didn't happen.
And I talked to aides around the vice president and throughout the administration today, and they said, the vice president was simply taking Mike Flynn at his word there. So, I think more than the discussion of the Logan Act, and that's something that might come down the line in terms of a government official talking to another government doing business with another government, it's a little murky during a transition period. But credibility for Mike Flynn inside this house as the national security advisor I think is the biggest question hanging over him tonight -- Jim.
[20:25:05] SCIUTTO: No question, a big question, thanks very much.
Certainly a lot to talk about with the panel. Joining me tonight, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN political analyst and "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers, former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator and senior writer for "The Federalist", Mary Katharine Ham, CNN military analyst, retired Army Lt. General Mark Hertling, and CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary for homeland security, Juliette Kayyem.
Gloria, if I could begin with you. You have some reporting on the danger that Flynn may be in?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the question is the vice president of the United States. I was told today by a senior administration official that Mike Pence himself has -- is not going to escalate this situation at all, but I was also told quite firmly by a senior administration official, that Pence was, quotes, "very intentional" before he went on those Sunday shows in questioning Flynn about what he said to the Russians, his communications to the Russians.
So, this becomes as Jeff was pointing out, an internal problem, I was told also that, you know, Flynn is kind on of thin ice at the White House, there are a lot of people who think he hasn't managed well, and they believe that if this White House were going swimmingly, or any other White House, perhaps he would already be gone.
But that's not the case right now. And again, nobody knows how the president will feel about this. But Pence is not going to -- he's not going to push it.
SCIUTTO: I guess the management issue was one that came up when he was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
SCIUTTO: And he was fired, in effect, by President Obama.
Kirsten Powers, do you believe the president hadn't heard about this story?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I mean, there is no way to know. Only Donald Trump knows that. But it's kind of hard to believe because as you mentioned, this is somebody who consumes an amazing amount of news every single day. And so, I think it's probably more likely that he has heard about it and maybe they don't know what they want to say about it.
This is somebody who was an early supporter of Donald Trump, very loyal and was behind him when people didn't believe in him. And I don't think Trump is probably eager to be throwing him overboard.
SCIUTTO: General Mark Hertling, you served with General Michael Flynn, under Stanley McChrystal, during your time in service. From your point of view as a military man as well, were his actions, were these conversations appropriate?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Look, Jim, it pains me to talk about Mike Flynn because we were fellow general officers, we both wore the cloth of the country. He was Stan McChrystal is J-2 when I was commanding in the north and Stan and I were working together against the terrorists.
But here's the thing, the actions that he has shown had been unprofessional ever since he stood up at the convention and shouted "lock her up". He has shown a complete disrespect for the Office of the President. Now, whether or not you agree with the person who's occupying that office or not, it doesn't matter. As soldiers, as a guy who was wearing the rank of lieutenant general, you have respect for the office.
And now, there's an issue this is an integrity crisis. These are three things that should be associated with anyone who uses the rank of lieutenant general. The problem with Mike Flynn right now is, I see it in three ways. Either he's had an extreme case of the dumb ass when he did all these things, he thinks he was above the law when he was doing this, or there was an integrity violation. All three of those things is something we don't want associated with someone that's working next to the most powerful man in the world.
But as we've seen, too, I think we have a president, you know, we say in the military, that an organization takes its lead from the top. And it becomes like the leader. We have seen a loose disassociation with integrity from the entire administration, as you have seen tonight with Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway and now Mike Flynn. So, I think we've got some problems in this area.
SCIUTTO: Juliette Kayyem, let me ask you, because you served in government and administrations. Just to play devil's advocate here for a moment, don't U.S. officials, even serving officials regularly have conversations with foreign officials about issues at hand? And we don't know the exact contents of the conversations with the Russian ambassador, but isn't it plausible that the conversations were okay on the up and up?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That is certainly plausible, but then why would Flynn have told Pence and certainly let pence have told the public that those conversations did not take place. So, at some stage, there's so much smoke that there is fire, I think that's what Mike Flynn is discovering right now.
And Jeff earlier reported about integrity and credibility, keeping Flynn as national security advisor is not only sort of I think embarrassing for this White House, I also think it is dangerous, because at this stage, the rest of the world is looking at what's going on, they know that the chief, you know, the national security advisor, the person closest to the president, is maybe not under investigation, but is in this scandal, sort of like the real housewives of the Situation Room. There's just so much drama.
And if you're a foreign intelligence agency, right, and you are sharing information with the United States, you've got to be a little bit concern at this stage about what this guy, Mike Flynn, and the Russians are up to.
And so I'm very nervous about, if he stays, how other countries will respond to protect our national security. So at some stage it's beyond the calls and it's really about what's in the best interest of the United States.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman Kingston, you're a Trump supporter, is that a fair criticism?
JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: I think it's a little over the top at this point. I'm thinking about Sandy Berger cramming papers down his socks and leaving the presidential archives wherever he was, taking classified information out. And I think right now, we need to find out what did he say, if he said anything at all? Remember, this is leaked information from a source who should not be leaking information. So to me, the source itself is questionable.
But the second part is, I think in a conversation of introductory conversation whereas I understand that he and Ambassador Kaslika were talking about logistics of the two heads of state meeting, they were talking about the holidays, they were taking a plane crash, would sanctions likely come up in passing? I'd say they probably would. And would General Flynn maybe not even think about it? It's possible.
(CROSSTALK) SCIUTTO: Well, excuse. Sandy Berger was prosecuted in time. So you bring up an example --
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Why did he answer the question two different ways? I mean this isn't reliant just on sources. This is reliant on what he said. I mean, how can you not remember that?
SCIUTTO: Well, the other thing that's surprising is there are transcripts. There would be transcripts of these conversations.
KINGSTON: And I would e assume he would know that those phone calls were recorded. But maybe on other hand, we all make mistakes that they weren't. And I mean look at General McChrystal. He's now just came up. These are fine men. But why was he fired? He was fired for talking to the press and saying things about --
SCIUTTO: Those were conversations about --
KINGSTON: And he's a guy who should have known better. So --
SCIUTTO: Conversations about President Obama.
KINGSTON: Yeah, but people do make mistakes, I'm just saying, even seasoned professionals, but we don't know what he really said. But we're asserting this that he said, "We're going to drop those sanctions and that's a lot different from saying --
SCIUTTO: Well, that's the key question. Is it a mistake or is it a violation of law?
SCIUTTO: We're going to have to leave it there. Mary Katharine Ham, stay there, because we're going to come back with the whole team in a short time. Stick around for the conversation. We're going to talk about the name Donald Trump called Elizabeth Warren during a close- door meeting with Democratic senators. Stick around, it will surprise you.
[20:36:01] SCIUTTO: President Trump apparently has pulled one of his old favorites out of his bag of nicknames during a meeting with senators this week. Sources say that the president said of Senator Elizabeth Warren, "Pocahontas" is now the face of your party. The sources said Trump used the nickname several times during an impromptu analysis of the Democratic Party.
We're back now with the panel. And Mary Katharine Ham, I want to begin with you. Offensive?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: OK. Let me -- I am perfectly willing to criticize Trump when he gets off the cuff on these sort of things.
In this particular case, he's making fun of her for having done something that's actually offensive, which is she pretended and claimed she was a native American for many years during her career and then it turned out she had absolutely no prove of it during a campaign when she was asked about it. And that to me violates all of the liberal's privileged rules for her side of the aisle, and yet he's a paragon of liberalism. And so on this point, in particular, I think he's picking on her for having done something that's a little offensive, frankly.
SCIUTTO: And Kirsten, are we merging into wrongs, make a right territory here?
POWERS: Well, I think it's one of those things where maybe I would agree with that maybe if he was doing it with his supporter and I don't know. But he's the president of United States and it's a very strange thing to be doing, meeting with, you know, numbers of the Democratic Party, speaking about one of the, you know, their senators who -- it seems sort of inappropriate to me.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you, because there was something else that went on during this meeting, which I think bears repeating. The president making a false claim again about false voting during the election claiming that there were thousands of people bussed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire illegally voted. He says that's why he lost the state. There's no proof of this, whatsoever. You know this, Jack Kingston. Why is the president of the United States making these claims?
KINGSTON: I'm not certain, but I'm going to say this, he's a guy who knows how to plant stories and get people running off in a direction. There's an expression in Washington. If you want a secret among three people, you got to get rid of two of the people in the room to keep the secret.
It's just --
KINGSTON: And so what I was saying is, anything --
SCIUTTO: So those are just the false claim, which the president has made repeatedly.
KINGSTON: But here's my point, anything that was said in that room, particularly in a bipartisan crowd, he absolutely wanted to broadcast it outside of that room. So probably throwing something out there as a topic, maybe takes his critics off something else.
SCIUTTO: But this is not just throwing because this is something the president has repeatedly tweeted about. He's made false claims about 3 million to 5 million fake votes of which there's no evidence.
KINGSTON: Well, remember, the Pew Foundation said that 24 million people were registered improperly. To some degree 1.8 million dead people registered --
SCIUTTO: There's a difference between problems in registration, which many of the Trump family members had fake voters.
KINGSTON: What we still want to know --
SCIUTTO: No evidence of dead people voted there.
KINGSTON: Well, I don't know. There probably will be in certain towns.
SCIUTTO: Do you have evidence? Have you seen evidence, anything in that (inaudible)?
KINGSTON: We will find out as time goes on.
GLORAI BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all there is no evidence and there won't be any evidence. And it would be the greatest heist in American political history, if that many millions of people voted and we didn't know about it.
But there's a largest point here, the larger point is that Donald Trump has not yet made the transition between campaigning and governing.
POWERS: He hasn't made the pivot (ph).
BORGER: Right, that word pivot, which shall never be spoken again. He is acting like a candidate, calling Elizabeth Warren, what he always called her during the campaign, except he was saying it to a bunch of democrats who he actually needs to vote with him on certain things --
KINGSTON: But Gloria, that --
BORGER: -- if he's going to try and get some stuff through the congress.
KINGSTON: Really, if there's anything that the Democratic Party has proven right now that it is in the hands of Franken and Warren and Ellison.
BORGER: Well, that's right. He can say that.
KINGSTON: And I mean he did say it.
BORGER: But he can say that.
KINGSTON: Because she's the face of your party. And remember --
BORGER: He can say that.
SCIUTTO: He could have used her Christian name, right?
KINGSTON: I don't know. I think Mary Katharine is right. It was, you know, it was an affectionate name that she earned.
[20:40:01] BORGER: I don't think it's affectionate.
KINGSTON: But let me --
SCIUTTO: There are many members of Native American Committee --
SCIUTTO: -- who consider --
KINGSTON: Well, that should be a phrase by her, not by him.
BORGER: Exactly, exactly. He's going to make a point.
POWERS: She literally claimed she was Native American because she had high --
SCIUTTO: No, Kirsten, I don't take issue with that, but it's the use of repetition.
POWERS: He's being repetitive.
BORGER: But also he's trying to win these people over. He's not trying to alienate them.
KINGSTON: But remember, hating Trump is not a platform. And I think frankly in terms of the current speeding contest that's going on, while there's plenty to say that the administration might not be doing right, the reality is they are doing a heck of a lot, right, on substance and on policy, and the Democratic Party has yet to introduce any meaningful policy alternatives.
SCIUTTO: Final question, Kirsten, it's going to have to be quick.
POWERS: I mean let's speak to what we're talking about though. I mean is the argument if she was actually was Native American it would be okay to call her Pocahontas? I don't really understand.
POWERS: So it's going to be the original offense. So it's actually -- like we're going to say he's offense, but she was never offense.
SCIUTTO: So Kirsten has reported the initial offense. But Mary Katharine, Kirsten, Jackson, Gloria, thank you as always. We have to leave it there. Thanks everyone.
Just ahead, disruptive protest around the country over the last 24 hours, as progressives bore a page from the Tea Party.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back, the controversial new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was not well-received when she try to visit an elementary school in Washington, D.C. today. Have a look.
Ms. Devos did eventually make it into the school issuing a statement saying, "I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education."
As you likely know, polls show the country is deeply divided, but you don't even have to look at the polls to see it. Lawmakers are taking a lot of heat back in their home districts, even in deep red states. In some ways, it looks a lot like when, in 2009, the Tea Party movement sprung up. But it's progressives who are filling the backlash using those Tea Party tactics at town hall meetings to get their point across.
Gary Tuchman has the details.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Just by watching the very end of Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz's town hall, you can tell how it all went.
The Utah Republicans also booed before he even he even said a word when he took the stage.
And in the midst of the event in the -- like city suburbs of Cottonwood Heights, the kind of reception, he's not accustomed to it (inaudible) Republican state and in a district (ph). He won with about three quarters of a vote.
[20:45:06] Republican politicians facing fiery backlashes at the Republican town halls from Utah to Tennessee at this town hall sponsored by the college republicans at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, much anger that the town hall only had a capacity for 78 people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were let in, even though there were fire codes and we sat on the stairs. If we don't get it, shut it down.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Inside, three state legislators and Congresswoman Diane Black, the current the acting-chair of the House Budget Committee.
REP. DIANNE BLACK (R), TENNESSEE: We're going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and we're going to replace it to something that is going to be good for the American people.
TUCHMAN (voice-over: For the most part, that statement didn't go over so well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't put all my trust in someone saying we're going to make a plan, but we have had six years and we don't have a plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
BLACK: Beside the quote (inaudible) by the president that if you like your plan, you can keep it, whatsoever, which was one of the greatest lies of the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, give it up. Get on to the question.
BLACK: The second was that the republicans don't have a plan. Paul Ryan had a plan even before the Affordable Care Act.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where was it?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Even for some of the people on the crowd who don't like Obamacare, unhappiness, there's no new plan ready to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're sitting in the chair, what's the holdup?
BLACK: The holdup is that we want to do it right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But how many years?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And anger from Americans in these opening weeks of the Donald Trump administration. A deja vu to the anger heard from protesters at the beginning of the Barack Obama's presidency and what would become the Tea Party movement.
This past weekend, California Republican Congressman Tom McClintock left his town hall early. A gauntlet of police surrounding him, offering him protection after he, too, found he had plenty of angry constituents.
Gary Tuchman, CNN Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
SCIUTTO: Certainly lots to discuss. Joining me now is Robert Reich. He's the former labor secretary and author of "Saving Capitalism for the Many Not the Few". He's also a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Also with us tonight, CNN political commentator and former Reagan White House Official, Jeffrey Lord. He's a contributing editor at the American Spectator, also a Donald Trump supporter.
Jeff, I can begin with you, how worried should Republicans be? You remember Democrats in 2009, they were riding high, control of the White House, both houses of congress then you really had the seeds (ph) formed of the Tea Party. Is this a pre-curse of something on the other side?
JEFF LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Jim, they shouldn't be worried about the progressives. What they should be worried about, though, is their own base.
Somewhere in that package was an obvious and I think good question. Why was the, you know, the Republican leadership of congress not ready with a plan that should have been on the floor of the house the day they were sworn in?
I can tell you there is increasingly restlessness from Republicans at the base level, saying, "Why weren't you ready for this? We want this repealed. We want the alternative. We want the plan, do it now." And there's seems to be some hesitation here. So that's what they really should be worried about. The rest of it, frankly, I mean that's opposition, they lost the election. We're going to go in a different direction. But, boy, you better have that map and that chart and the plan ready.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Reich, no evidence that they do have that map and that chart and the plan ready. Is this an opportunity for the democrats?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I think it is an opportunity for democrats. It's an opportunity for independents. It's an opportunity for everybody who is basically fed up with what they have already seen over the last three weeks of the Trump administration.
One of Donald Trump's promises, among others, but one of the major promises he have made was repeal and replace Obamacare right away. I hate to find myself agreeing with Jeffrey Lord, but I will agree on those points.
LORD: Oh, no.
SCIUTTO: We can't have that.
REICH: I will agree on this particular point and that is that the Republicans had no plan. But I want to go beyond that. They cannot get a plan, because there's no way of replacing Obamacare. The only way you replace Obamacare is if you come up with some way of preserving the preexisting condition provision, which depends upon the mandate that requires healthy younger people to get health care. If you don't have that, you can't have the preexisting, you can't cover preexisting conditions.
LORD: The mandate doesn't work.
SCIUTTO: How do you answer that, Jeff?
LORD: The mandate doesn't work. You've got a lot of people out there, young people in particular say they'd rather pay the fine than, you know, do the mandated health insurance.
I mean that's one of the problems there.
[20:50:03] REICH: Well, we can debate whether the mandate has worked or not worked. I think it has worked pretty well. The big problem with health insurance obviously is that health care costs continue to go up. It's not Obamacare. It's not the Affordable Care Act.
LORD: Yes, it is.
REICH: It's not even Medicare. It's health pay. Every part of the entire health care system is increasing in cost and copayments and deductibles are going up. And what you have is this big health insurers, are trying to merge and get even more market power. And thank goodness, the Obama Justice Department stopped them. But what is the Justice Department going to do under Trump? Is it going to actually buss up the big drunk (ph) companies, stop the big health insurers from coming together and monopolizing? That's the question.
SCIUTTO: Before we get there, Robert Reich, Jeffrey does raise a fair point there, which is that the balance so far hasn't been achieved of the mandate getting enough of those young people in the system in effect to counter balance the many older people who are in there who are in effect more expensive. How do you answer that?
RECIH: Well, I disagree with that. I think that actually you are -- the mandate is working pretty well with regard to preexisting conditions. Now you also have another part of Obamacare, and that is 80 percent of the people on Obamacare, Affordable Care Act have been getting subsidies, and those subsidies have been coming from taxes mostly on very wealthy people.
And if the Republicans want to repeal those taxes, how in the world are they going to subsidize health care for all of the people who need health care? Jeffrey, do you have a solution to that? Because Republicans are not coming up with anything, they've been trying for six years, they've come up with absolutely zilch. The only alternative to Obamacare is basically a single payer plan.
SCIUTTO: So what's your solution? That's a fair question.
LORD: Well, I mean socialized medicine simply doesn't work. I mean that's only the socialized medicine. (CROSSTALK)
LORD: There's a very simple question. What is the replacement?
SCIUTTO: What's replacement?
LORD: Why should I, in Pennsylvania, not be able to buy health insurance from a good plan that I see in California or Florida?
REICH: So wait a minute, wait a minute. I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. You think merely allowing anybody to buy insurance from any carrier in any state, you think that's going to finance preexisting conditions and also all the subsidies that go to 80 percent of people that need them? Is that really the answer? Is that the Republican answer?
LORD: What I'm saying is --
SCIUTTO: Jeff, I have to give you the final thought here.
REICH: There's no thought.
LORD: Compensation works better than (inaudible) anytime and always.
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Lord and Robert Reich, you raise some of the big issues on both sides. We're going to continue this conversation. Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
And just ahead, Van Jones and the travel ban, what he learned when he talked about the ban to survivors of the San Bernardino terror attack. This reporting, you'll only see here on CNN.
And just moments away, at the top of the hour, Van hosts another "Messy Truth" town hall. Bill Maher is his guest tonight.
[20:55:08] SCIUTTO: After losing in appeals court, President Trump is considering issuing a new executive order on a travel ban, which he says is necessary to keep Americans safe.
The ban two weeks ago disrupted thousands of lives. It's been messy, to say the least. At the top of the hour, Van Jones hosts another "Messy Truth" town hall. He recently visited San Bernardino, California.
VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): So the Trump administration has been using this attack that happened right here in San Bernardino as a way to justify the travel ban.
I wanted to be here, I wanted to understand what do the people who are actually affected by it think about the whole thing. SALLY CARDINALE, SURVIVOR, SAN BERNARDINO ATTACK: You could hear screaming and all of the gunshots.
JONES (voice-over): Sally Cardinale and Hal Houser are survivors of the San Bernardino attack.
HAL HOUSER, SURVIVOR, SAN BERNARDINO ATTACK: He came in, started spraying from the north side of the room down to the south side where the Christmas tree was. And he ran out of bullets right about the middle of the Christmas tree. He killed three guys to the left of the Christmas tree, but I was saved because he ran out of bullets and was reloading. And at that point in time, I said it's probably a good time to run.
JONES: Your lives have been changed permanently and the political environment seems to have also changed in a very, very major way.
When you hear the new president talking about what happened here and calling for keeping sort of countries out, do that strike you as good or bad?
CARDINALE: I disagree with it. Mentioning San Bernardino in that context as a justification, I fell like it doesn't really make any sense.
JONES: Why not?
CARDINALE: Well, the people that did this one was home-grown, and the other one was from a country that's not on the ban list. So it won't have prevented our shooting.
JONES: After everything you went through, everything that you saw, you don't think it's worth it to hold them all back?
CARDINALE: No, I think if you're going to hold an entire nationality or an entire religion responsible for the actions of a few people, that that's really walking the line of civil rights violations and human rights violations.
JONES: I know you care about civil liberties, but does Trump's policy make us safer, though, from your point of view?
CARDINALE: I don't see how it's making anybody any safer. I think there's a concern for people who are already in the country, that are United States citizens. But what were we doing to address that?
JONES: You are somebody who's been a Trump supporter. You voted for him. What do you think?
HOUSER: Well, I hate it when it was called a Muslim ban, because, you know, we had a couple Muslims in the office that are the sweetest people in the world that got shot and everything by another Islamist, whatever you want to call him. So I had to go look into the law a little bit more. And OK, these are countries that don't have very stable governments, who don't have very good information abilities to screen people from those countries. That's the rationale I saw. JONES: Is there not a danger that by being this tough on these countries and maybe doing too much of a broad brush, could you wind up creating more terrorists?
HOUSER: If that's the way it's trumped up by the ISIS people to use as a recruiting too, it's very possible. But Israel hasn't had a terrorist attach and its Air Force since like 1978 because they do severe screening. You know, you take longer to get into the country, but you get into the country eventually, if you're not a person that shouldn't be coming here in the first place.
JONES: A lot of Trump supporters are happy about this. They feel like Obama wasn't paying attention. Trump is paying attention. Is that a good thing? Even if he's maybe, he's not getting it all right, is it a good thing that he's at least trying to do something?
HOUSER: That seems to me to be appealing to the lowest common denominator, because those people who believe that these countries are all inherently bad are outside the fringe of normal.
They really don't speak for me, and I know they don't speak for a lot of conservatives. Somebody asked me the other day, "Do you feel any safer because of the ban?" No, I don't, because it would not have affected my situation one iota.
The president has made a valiant effort at doing something right and kind of screwed the pooch and needs to step back a little and clear it up a little. But yeah, I have no problems with screening for radical Islamic terrorists. You know, we found out we need to start at home with that, too.
JONES: You guys went through this together. You come out pro-Trump, you come out anti-Trump. Are you still able to be friends?
JONES: How is that possible?
CARDINALE: I think if you remove the labels and talk about the issues, there's a lot of common ground that people have, I think it removes that animosity.
JONES: I'll tell you this, if you guys can go through what you went through and have different political views but still find a way to take care of each other and support each other, the rest of the country has no excuse. And I hope that becomes a lesson now at San Bernardino.
[21:00:09] HOUSER: And I hope so, too.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCIUTTO: Fascinating, meaningful conversation. Thanks for watching "360".