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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Spicer Won't Say Trump Has Confidence In Comey; Source: Comey Was "Incredulous" Over Trump's Tweets; Former Intel Official Wiretapping Claims "Nonsense"; HUD Secretary Calls Slaves "Immigrants"; Hundreds Of Nude Photos Of Female Marines Posted Online. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 6, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:02:26] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Topping this hour of "360," silence from President Trump on his claim that President Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign has been from his spokespeople reports of slack-jawed amazement from his FBI director and questions from just about everybody else.
Saturday morning, the president made an extraordinary claim. The question tonight, does he have any evidence to back it up? And if not, are there any consequences to that? Our Jeff Zeleny starts this off.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the first weekday since taking office, President Trump did not appear before the cameras, leaving his aides to try defending his extra ordinary weekend attack on President Obama.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president firmly believes that the Obama administration may have tapped into the phones at Trump Tower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is that based on media reports?
SANDERS: You know, this is something that we should -- this is something that we should look into.
ZELENY (voice-over): But neither the Deputy White House Press Secretary nor any adviser provided evidence to back up the president's explosive claim, except to suggest that Mr. Trump has access to more information than they do.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR OF THE PRESIDENT: He's the President of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not. And that's the way it should be for presidents.
ZELENY (voice-over): The latest presidential eruption started Saturday morning from Florida when the president tweeted this. "Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
His tweets didn't stop there, attacking President Obama again. "This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad or sick guy." White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer who held his daily briefing off camera today defended the president, but also declined to offer any evidence.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that there's no question that something happened. The question is, is it surveillance? Is it a wiretap, or whatever? But there's been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred.
ZELENY (voice-over): The allegation shook Washington and raised the stakes even higher for the Russia investigation on Capitol Hill. A new CNN/ORC poll found nearly two-thirds of Americans say a special prosecutor should investigate Russian allegation, a number that includes most Democrats, many independents and even 43 percent of all Republicans.
James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence was among the federal officials who said no wiretapping took place at Trump Tower.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time or as a candidate or against his campaign.
ZELENY (voice-over): The White House called for a congressional inquiry into whether President Obama abused the power of federal law enforcement before the 2016 election. A spokesman for the former president said the allegations were simply false.
[21:05:05] Republican Senator Rubio who appeared in Florida with the president on Friday seemed dumbfounded by the allegations on CNN "State of the Union."
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: If it's true, obviously, we're going to find out very quickly. And if it isn't, then obviously, he'll have to explain what he meant by it.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny joins us now. There is some new reporting on the FBI Director James Comey's reaction to the tweets.
ZELENY: Well, Anderson, he is not pleased about this at all, very frustrated. We were told over the weekend by these reports. And one source is telling us that he believes institutionally, he has to push back on this. So inside the FBI, he actually urged lawyers at the Department of Justice to come out and say this simply didn't happen, not true, but they did not do that. So, Anderson, it does appear there is a split between the FBI and the DOJ here.
Now the question is how does this manifest itself? What will the FBI director do? At some point, he will have to testify presumably, before these committees. So this is something that we're, you know, are going to keep our eye on here, because the FBI director, of course, was embraced earlier in this year by the president and he, you know, serves at his pleasure, sort of. He has a staggered term. He was appointed by President Obama, of course. But, Anderson, we're told he's simply not pleased by this.
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thank you very much.
In addition to all the other questions surrounding President Trump's unsubstantiated claim, there is this. Was it any word a diversion, a kind of political slight of hand? We call it the shiny object theory. If true, it would not be the first time as Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Donald Trump's travel ban gave rise to outrage and protests around the country, he moved quickly to change the conversation with the surprised tweed about the Supreme Court.
"I have made my decision on who I will nominate for the United States Supreme Court." Was it an attempt to distract from the conversation at hand? If so, it seems to have worked. Despite the White House's blunt explanation as to why the president moves the announcement up.
SPICER: Because he wanted to.
KAYE (voice-over): The conversation turned to speculation about Supreme Court justice nominees. Changing the narrative away from the controversy at hand is strategy Mr. Trump used during the campaign, too.
KHIZR KHAN, HUMAYUN FATHER: I will gladly lend you my copy.
KAYE (voice-over): After he got flak for going after the parents of Captain Humayun Khan following their speech at the Democratic National Convention.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.
KAYE (voice-over): Then candidate Trump changed the narrative again by suddenly announcing he would not endorse Paul Ryan and John McCcain in their primary raises. Also during the campaign when the "Access Hollywood" tapes came out.
TRUMP: I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her.
KAYE (voice-over): Knowing the tapes would be an issue at the presidential debate later that month, Trump invited Bill Clinton's former accusers to that debate. As if to say, don't talk about me, let's talk about him.
(on camera): After the election, Trump seemed to try to put an end to chatter about him losing the popular vote by tweeting that he'd actually won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally. The conversation quickly turned to questions still unproven of voter fraud.
(voice-over): That same month after agreeing to settle a fraud lawsuit against Trump University for $25 million, he pivoted again, demanding on Twitter that the cast of the Broadway show "Hamilton" apologize to then Vice President-elect Mike Pence for this.
And when Donald Trump was supposed to hold a press conference to address questions about business conflicts of interest, he postponed it, then suddenly made news by appearing in the lobby of Trump Tower with Kanye West.
And remember those calls for Donald Trump to release his tax returns after the election? He made that story go away at least temporarily by appearing at CIA headquarters.
TRUMP: There is nobody that feels strongly about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump.
KAYE (voice-over): And just days after he forced out his national security adviser Michael Flynn, President Trump made new headlines with the 77-minute press conference.
TRUMP: The press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.
KAYE (voice-over): That got all the attention and the Flynn story got buried if only briefly.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Here to talk about this idea of diversion, CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, as well as (inaudible) panel members, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Ryan Lizza, and Carl Bernstein.
Mark, you know, those who say, look, this is a distraction. I mean, Republicans are saying this is a distraction from our agenda. Democrats are saying this is just a distraction like the president's done before to get people off the subject of Russia or whatever it may be.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I believe it's a distraction, because, you know, when's the last time we saw a sitting President of the United States accuse his predecessor of spying on him at 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday?
[21:10:09] I mean, it's just -- it doesn't follow any conventional wisdom that he has any information that would lead him to believe this, other than perhaps reading this Breitbart story, perhaps somebody e-mailing it to him and him getting angry.
Let's look at the context in time. He was very upset that he wasn't still getting, you know, great praise for his speech to Congress.
COOPER: Because of Jeff -- PRESTON: Because of Jeff Sessions the next day. You know, it eclipsed that, and he puts all his anger on to his staff at that time. So he was going into Florida pretty heated as well and I think that what we saw with these cases that he decided to try to --
COOPER: Kristen, it's interesting, because the "Washington Post," you know, had a kind of fascinating tic tac where they said basically that the president, Sunday, felt better because a lot of the press coverage was about his tweet, not about the Sessions or about Russia. But then wasn't happy even later in the day because not enough -- sort of Republicans were rallying to his defense on that.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: He has a very predictable pattern on a lot of these things, and I don't know that it's this devious sort of chess game so much as he just knows that when he tells people to dance that they will dance. That when he sees a story that upsets him and he wanted to be a part of the discussion in 140 characters, he can get everyone talking about it for at least 24 hours. And I think he likes having that power.
I think he acutely -- is acutely aware of the power that he has, that he's been exercising it throughout the campaign, pre-inauguration, and now that he is the president. I think he likes the ability to be able to just demonstrate that with the single tweet he can completely change the news cycle.
I don't know that it is exactly he wanted to divert away from the Russia story, because as we discuss on the earlier panel, this is also about the Russia story. He's switching it so that he's the victim of the story rather than the bad guy. But I think that that's -- the pattern is that he just likes being able to change the story. I don't necessarily know that -- to distract from something else so much as he just enjoys people following --
COOPER: Ryan, what do you think? I read somebody today kind of referring to it as kind of rhetorical bomb he throws or grenade he throws into a subject and it does sort of change --
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Yeah. And he -- look, there are narratives on the right that don't always get injected into the mainstream media, right? He reads the conservative press closely. He listens to talk radio. He reads some sort of far- out sites as well, you know, Alex Jones or -- and I think what happened here is he wanted to inject this counter narrative that was bubbling up on the right about wait a second, you know, Donald Trump is not the guy who is conspiring with the Russians, he was the victim of this espionage campaign by the last Democratic administration.
That is a narrative that if you read National Review and obviously Mark Levin, Breitbart, that's something that's been bubbling up out there that a lot of conservatives don't think has been a part of the mainstream press. Levin sort of articulated it in this sort of full, you know, talk radio appearance. Breitbart picked up on it. Trump read it and said, "Ah-ha, more people need to know about this."
COOPER: It is interesting, Carl, because, I mean, logically as General Hayden said in our last hour, you know, former head of the NSA and CIA, you know, the president could find out the information that he is alleging happened instead of a congressional investigation that he could find it out immediately.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president has no interest, whatsoever as we've seen in finding out what the real truth is about his own relationship with the Russians, those of his family, those of his aides, those of his campaign and those of his business organization.
What we are seeing here is the fact that Donald Trump's success in life, including as a politician and a businessman is about being a brilliant manipulator of media and a provocateur. And we are seeing this diversion here. Yes, it's a diversion, and he also probably believes some of what he's saying, because is he given to outlandish beliefs.
Look at his birther claims. There's no evidence that he didn't really believe that craziness. So, we had a couple of things going on at once here, but the most important thing to remember is that there is an investigation going on that is being obstructed by a number of people who are trying to find out all about Donald Trump's business relationships with the Russians, those of his organization, those of Mr. Flynn, those of others in his campaign. And they are having a rough time because of what's being thrown in front of them in terms of all kinds of diversions. They haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet. And one of the --
COOPER: When you say it's being obstructed, are you meaning by these sorts of allegation that are called by the president to investigate leaks, by calls of the president to investigate this new idea of President Obama ordering wiretaps?
BERNSTEIN: I don't mean literally, necessarily an obstruction of justice by obstructed. I mean, impediments put in front of all kinds of investigations by the press, by the FBI, by the Congress of the United States.
[21:15:02] It is very clear that Donald Trump and the people around him, and particularly Mr. Flynn and Mr. Sessions who have already lied about this, do not want the facts known about what happened in the campaign, about the business relationships around the Trump organization, with Russians, ethno-Russians, in Republics, so the former USSR that are now quote independent and dominated by Russian former KGB agents, et cetera, et cetera. That's why we need a select committee or a special prosecutor and why those numbers that you just put up about why the public wants it, including Republicans.
COOPER: Mark, how much cover are congressional Republicans willing to give the president?
PRESTON: You know, I think it's a matter of time right now, because what he's doing right now, we're not talking enough about it. So this is incredibly reckless what he as done.
Let's assume that it is true, right? You know, and Ryan has to gone through the scenarios earlier in the show. Let's assume it is true. And even if it is true, it's reckless that he would go to Twitter on a Saturday morning.
COOPER: You're saying true that the FISA court, not that the president himself was secretly somehow (inaudible).
PRESTON: Or somehow he was wiretapped whether it was done illegally by the president, which we know is, you know, he can't do that or if the FISA court decided to do so. So let's assume that that was the case, incredibly reckless. And let's assume that he just -- did try to do a head fake on everybody.
How much more incredibly reckless is that and where does his credibility stand, not only with congressional Republicans who at some point, you know, have to back off of him, but what about the American people? And quite frankly, what about all the foreign leaders we have to deal with? I just think that what he has done is incredibly reckless, no matter what the outcome is.
BERNSTEIN: He called his predecessor a criminal.
ANDERSON: Recklessness is sort of the speed of this presidency, and Donald Trump has tried to sell this as a feature, not a bug, that he is somebody that will come in and break things. And even though his approval ratings when he started were not great, it's not that his approval ratings have collapsed over the last, you know, couple of weeks. He has maintained the support of the people who supported him when he took the oath of office, in part by doing exactly the sort of reckless stuff that he sort of sold.
COOPER: We got to take a break. Next, reports of cursing and some chaos and more in the west-wing digging deeper into the roots of president's feelings right now.
Later, Housing Secretary Ben Carson drawing fire for referring to slaves or people who were in slave and brought to United States against their will as immigrants. Was it irony? Was it something else? Hear for yourself. Decide for yourself, ahead on "360".
[21:20:42] COOPER: Whatever President Trump's Saturday tweets turn out to be true, false, diversion, it's become clear from a number of inside sources that they came after a frustrating few days back at the White House. The president, as you know, is no stranger to tweeting fast and we might say furious. More now on the latest episode in the sources of his ire from CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The blistering series of tweets raised extremely serious accusations about the Obama administration wiretapping phones at Trump Tower with zero evidence to back the claims. Nonetheless, President Trump's team stormed the talk circuit echoing his outrage.
SANDERS: I think the American people have a right to know if this happened.
TRUMP: And God bless the United States.
FOREMAN (voice-over): What spurred the roaring tweet storm? After the president's widely praised speech to Congress, sources say he was furious to see questions about his team's ties to Russia against stealing headlines, particularly galling his Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decisions to step back from an investigation into the map.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign.
FOREMAN (voice-over): One source told CNN nobody has seen the president that upset. While others said in a meeting laced with expletives, Trump accused his staff of fumbling the Sessions' situation, creating a mini-disaster.
T.V. cameras captured an animated meeting in the Oval Office involving Trump senior staff, including Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There was nothing wrong with talking to the foreign, the Russian ambassador, about the current sanctions that were being put in place by the Obama administration. I just answered the question.
FOREMAN: Although, Priebus has been visible in defending the White House against the Russia questions and was originally slated to travel to Florida with the president for the weekend, that changed.
Priebus stayed in D.C. Some sources say because of the chaos. The White House says he had a family commitment. But this is clear. The president took off, the tweets started flying and so did the spin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got elected about 118, 119 days ago, and we still hear the Democrats and others screaming Russia every single day. It's attenuated. They haven't shown any connection.
FOREMAN: The lack of information from the president is still a problem, however, because while he may be privy to certain details that would justify these claims against the former administration, until those are broadly known, this can look an awful lot like it's about the fury, rather than the facts. Anderson?
COOPER: Tom thanks very much.
Perspective now from former Trump Adviser Anthony Scaramucci, former Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and "Washington Post" White House Bureau Chief Phil Rucker, whose byline is on perhaps the most vivid account of the president's latest episode, the headline "Inside Trump's Fury: The President Rages at Leaks, Setbacks and Accusations". So, Phil, let me start off with you. In the "Washington Post" piece, you wrote about the president's frustration over the last week with leaks, setbacks, accusations. He had, you know, very-well-received address to Congress on Tuesday and that seem to -- the attention on that didn't last as long as clearly with the White House would have liked. You called it "a perpetual state of chaos." What have you been learning from your sources?
PHIL RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: Well, sources are telling us that Trump has been frustrated, and not just by the Russia situation and by what happened in the news last week, but by the fact that he's now entering week seven of his administration and there's still chaos, there are crises left and right, many of them of his own making and he's not yet been able to have the big signature accomplishments that he would like to have.
Now, they dropped the health care bill today, so that's going to start to get off the ground, and that could be an accomplishment soon. But he looks at a comparison to Barack Obama from eight years ago and Obama have so many things, the stimulus bill, other big ticket items that were passed in his early months, and Trump's just -- isn't there yet.
COOPER: Anthony, what do you make of the notion that there's chaos, first of all, in the White House?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Well, I don't -- you know, listen, I'm not going to spin and say that there aren't, there's this contention. There's obviously contention, but I do think it's a healthy sort of contention. If you look --
COOPER: It's by design, you're saying.
SCARAMUCCI: I think so. And if you look at the last 45 days, I think his executive orders, his move for deregulation, the speech that he gave on, you know, the State of Union, I think, was exemplary and I think he wants to bring the country together.
[21:25:04] And once he rolls out the health care plan and then you see the tax cut, which Steve Mnuchin says will come by August, before the August recess, I think there's a whole blend of things that are going on that are very positive, Anderson, reflected in the stock market, reflected in jobs optimism. If you look at the --
COOPER: Let me ask you.
SCARAMUCCI: -- surveys.
COOPER: One of the things that -- I talked to like Andy Card and Leon Panetta, folks who have been chiefs of staff before for Republican Senate and for Democrats, and they all say that there can't be competing centers of power in the White House.
Different folks who have the president -- who have the ability with the direct lines with the president, there's got to be kind of clear lanes, and that's one of the things the White House -- the chief of staff's job is to give senior adviser clear lanes.
Do you think there are -- to the argument of those who say there are too many sort of centers of power, all of whom can get in the president's ear at different times?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think he's a very unique president. He's a entrepreneurial president. He's 21 months into his political career and 45 or 46 days into the presidency. And so, he's a very adaptive guy. If you look at the way he run the Trump organization at a hub and spoke system that worked very well for him.
COOPER: Was it that sort of competing power centers?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think what he's looking for is excellence from each of those power centers. And then I think as time goes on, he will draw from each of those power centers, what is best about those power centers. And so, it's just a unique way of doing this is very different from these other presidents.
COOPER: Governor Granholm, what about that? I mean, to those who say, look, these are growing pains. You know, it's a difficult thing for anybody to go from campaigning to governing, particularly if you've never had -- if you are not a career politician and if a lot of folks in your staff don't have, you know, record in the White House.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, (D) FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Two things, Anderson. One is he is the CEO of this massive organization. You do not intentionally create chaos inside of something that is so consequential. Maybe it worked for him in his Trump organization. It does not work in government. You do not want the American people fearful every day that as Mr. Rucker's piece said, he was steaming, raging mad.
I don't want a president who's steaming, raging mad, having his hand on Twitter, or the nuclear codes, and I think most people feel that way. No drama Obama was calm. He had lines of authority.
COOPER: But all presidents get angry.
GRANHOLM: Oh, I'm not saying --
COOPER: I mean, maybe we don't hear about it.
GRANHOLM: --we don't get angry. I'm just saying that he is so -- when you combine his intentional sowing of chaos with his perhaps rage on this occasion and who knows where else it can happen, and the point that you've been making earlier today about the intentional lies that he continues to sow, his --
COOPER: OK. I want to --
COOPER: Let me just quickly get -- SCARAMUCCI: Well, I have a lot of respect for the governor, but I have to respectfully disagree on some of the stuff. First of all, I don't know who's telling Phil Rucker this stuff, and maybe he's steaming mad. And if he was steaming mad, then he should be even sorer at the people that are in the room that are leaking that stuff to Phil Rucker. OK.
RUCKER: Well, there were 17 sources for the story.
SCARAMUCCI: You're a fantastic journalist. I take you at your word, and I think --
RUCKER: Thank you.
SCARAMUCCI: -- you know, and I read your byline every day, so I'm taking at your word. But I just think if he was "steaming mad" and there were 17 sources for the story that my recommendation to all 17 and possibly 18 people is shut up. Give the guy an opportunity to run the government. Give the guy the opportunity to have your faith and your level of confidentiality.
COOPER: So, Phil, let me ask you. Do you have a sense of whatever frustration there -- hold on. Do you have a sense, Phil, of steaming mad, whatever -- however, one would want to characterize his emotional state or how the White House is set up, do you think part of this is a frustration he has with having been a CEO?
Government is a completely different animal. You can't have people who are signing nondisclosure agreement which is the way it is in a private corporation, and suddenly, you have a leaky ship, you know, multiple leaky ships.
RUCKER: Yeah, that's exactly right. And the government is not just the west-wing. It's an enormous bureaucracy of all of these agencies that he has very little control over. So he's the President of the United States, but he can't dictate every hour and every minute what all of these agencies are doing, what they're saying, what they might be telling reporters like myself. And so he has less control than he did at Trump Tower or then he did on his campaign. And that's really been gnawing at him.
And the other problem that he has is that they've been slow to appoint a lot of the senior staff positions in these agencies in part because the president has such a high demand for personal loyalty. So he's vetoed a lot of suggestions for deputies, secretaries, assistant secretaries. And the result is that a lot of these agencies simply don't have the staffing structure right now to operate at full speed.
GRANHOLM: And when you have a great -- a big organization like that, it is -- if you are a successful business person or CEO, you do not point the finger of blame at everyone around you. You take responsibility for the things that you do that are wrong.
[21:30:03] And you -- and pointing out whether it's the permanent government employees, whether it is his own staff, whether it is the media, whether it's the courts, you name it, everything -- everybody but him has responsibility when he is the one who has been sowing the chaos.
COOPER: Anthony, final thought?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't see it that way. I think you got to give the President of the United States an opportunity to adapt to the job, and he's got to get his team to coalesce around him, which I think they will. And in 45 days, if you just look at the economy, the buoyancy in the stock market, directionally, I think, this is going in the right direction. He just needs more time.
COOPER: All right. I appreciate all of you being with us. Anthony, great to have you on the show.
Coming up, former intelligence officials say President Trump's wiretapping allegations are nonsense that it doesn't work like that and the FBI didn't get a so-called FISA court order. A closer look at what that is exactly. We'll talk about it with some of the best legal minds we know, coming up next.
COOPER: As we've been reporting, former intelligence and White House officials are calling President Trump's unsubstantiated claims that President Obama wiretapped him nonsense and false. Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that his agencies did not wiretap Mr. Trump nor did the FBI get a FISA court order to monitor his phones.
[21:35:08] FISA's the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Clapper said that there was no court order to monitor any phones at Trump Tower. Here's what Senator Lindsey Graham said at a town hall over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If the former president of the United States was able to obtain a warrant lawfully to monitor Trump's campaign for violating the law, that would be the biggest scandal since Watergate.
I'm very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president has done something illegally. I would be very worried if in fact the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the Senator said it is his job as a senator to get to the bottom of this, and he promised he would.
With us now is CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley. Judge Mukasey, let's start with you. Over the weekend, I saw -- I think was on ABC, you said, you think there are probably was surveillance and it was conducted at the behest of the attorney of the justice department through the FISA court, but -- that President Obama himself would not have ordered it. That's not the way it works.
MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: That's not the way it works. That really is not the way it works. And --
COOPER: So what do you make of the President of the United States tweeting that, accusing the former president of doing that?
MUKASEY: I'm not clinically trained, so I can't really make anything of it.
COOPER: You think it has to do with --
MUKASEY: No, no, no, no.
MUKASEY: No. What I'm saying is I don't know -- I mean, I don't communicate by tweet. And maybe that's -- maybe it's the medium that becomes the message. But, there is a core of truth in the sense that there was an intercept of some kind, I believe, because the "Times" had it. Number of other news sources had it. Your prior segment, it was acknowledged that there was in fact an intercept of some kind going on. And, apparently, it had to do initially with illegality involving a Russian bank that didn't go anywhere, and then they continued it as an intelligence investigation.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: But if Trump is picked up or someone affiliated in the Trump Organization is picked up on a wiretap ordered on the Russian embassy or on a criminal investigation, that's very --
COOPER: Or a Russian bank.
TOOBIN: Or a Russian bank, that's very different from Barack Obama tapping Donald Trump.
MUKASEY: To be sure.
TOOBIN: But Trump was saying that Obama tapped him.
MUKASEY: I understand that. What I'm saying is that the problem he seems to have is with the fact and it is a fact that there was some kind of surveillance going on of people around him at the time of the campaign. Now, whether he should have a problem with that or not, I can't tell you.
COOPER: Professor Turley, what do you think?
JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think that, I agree with General Mukasey. The point is obvious that no one would seriously suggest that President Obama, you know, personally ordered an intercept under FISA, and that may have just been an inartful tweet. Those things --
COOPER: Well, I mean the president did -- it didn't just suggest it, he said that.
TURLEY: Right. But he may have been referring to the Obama administration. I don't know. And there's no, you know, I couldn't say one way or the other. What I think is ironic is that the Democrats are embracing the FISA court like it's some great protection of civil liberties and due process. For most of us in the civil liberties community, we've been critics of FISA for years.
COOPER: You're saying it's too easy to get a warrant.
TURLEY: That's right.
TOOBIN: But, Jonathan, you're saying that -- you're just excusing Donald Trump saying Donald -- that Barack Obama was sick and evil. And you said, well, there are problems with the FISA court. I mean, we're talking about Trump here. We're not talking about the FISA court.
TURLEY: I wasn't addressing that statement. I was addressing the fact that he said Obama, you know, engaged in this wiretapping. I don't know what he meant, but I don't think it's nearly as important as the issue that General Mukasey was talking about, which is, you know, was there surveillance that, you know, swept into its scope, the Trump Tower and that does raise some serious questions. I don't have any information indicate that that's true or not.
FISA is a lower standard for surveillance. And I also think that it's a bit odd, you know. The Obama administration was not as pure as driven snow when it came to surveillance, not for civil libertarians.
You know, James Clapper that you just mentioned was accused of lying to Congress about one of the largest surveillance programs in the history of this country. President Obama's administration put journalists under surveillance, like Rosen at Fox. So, you know, I think it's a mistake to overplay this issue.
MUKASEY: I should also point out that -- and I wrote this down in the greenroom watching it, that James Clapper's denial was kind of a non- denial denial. He said that Donald Trump wasn't wiretapped and that the Trump campaign wasn't wiretapped. But that is not the same as saying that there were no intercepts going on of any kind that involved people around Donald Trump, and that seems to be the --
[21:40:06] COOPER: It left out Trump organization, left out people --
MUKASEY: Yes. You know, left out people who --
COOPER: Other people in the building of Trump Tower as well.
MUKASEY: Exactly. TOOBIN: But, if, for example, someone in the Trump Tower called the Russian embassy, the Russian embassy's lines are tapped as a matter, of course. How does that turn into some scandal involving Barack Obama?
MUKASEY: Nobody's saying it's a scandal involving Barack Obama personally.
TOOBIN: Except the President of the United States is saying that.
MUKASEY: Understood. But I think that the point that Professor Turley is making is that there was some kind of surveillance going on that involved people, somehow involved with Donald Trump at the time of the campaign and that that touches a nerve, clearly.
COOPER: All right. We're going to leave it there. Gentlemen, thank you all. Appreciate it.
Coming up, Ben Carson refers to enslaved people who are forced to come to the U.S. as immigrants. His comments are obviously getting a lot of attention. We'll play you what he said and you can judge (inaudible).
COOPER: Well, Ben Carson has stirred up controversy by calling enslaved Africans immigrants.
[21:45:03] The new Housing and Urban Development Secretary was speaking to department employees today. He spoke about immigrants in Ellis Island, how they worked hard for their children and grandchildren to have great opportunities in the United States and then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships who worked even longer, even harder for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining now, our CNN Political Commentators Paris Dennard and Angela Rye.
Paris, as you know, this obviously got a lot of pick up, a lot of controversy, kind of went viral. Do you think it's much to do about nothing?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think that Secretary Carson may have chosen to use the word that might not have been the best word when you're saying immigration, but I don't think anybody should take his comments during this speech as him not understanding the difference between voluntary immigration and involuntary servitude.
I was reminded of a quote from -- that's attributed to Dr. King which says, "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." Nobody insinuates that Dr. King was either belittling the way or the manner by which African-Americans came to this country or Africans came to this country. And I don't think we should do the same with Dr. Carson.
What's unfortunately to me, Anderson, is that it seems as if with black Republicans or conservatives, there's automatically this rush to judgment that we are somehow unaware of our history or unaware of where we come from or why we're here. And I think that we can understand that Dr. Carson, who has an exhibit in the African-American museum, that's Smithsonian just built (ph) in there and just toured it and saw portions of it that talked about slavery has an acute awareness of where we come from and how amazing it is so that so many years after slavery he can be standing there as the Secretary of HUD.
COOPER: Angela, what about that? I mean, is it unfair to, you know, pin point one sentence he says in a long speech where he appears like he's speaking extemporaneously, it's not a written speech on a teleprompter, and parse his words?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I think at some point we all have to be accountable for the extemporaneous words that we use as well. Ben Carson said that black people worked for less. Well, I have breaking news for Ben Carson today, and that is you can't see it on my shirt, Anderson, but it says, "We built this joint for free. We didn't build it for less."
I would also tell him that I believe that Kunta Kinte had no longing, no deep desire to one day become Toby in this country. His identity was stolen from him and he was brought here involuntarily.
Now, whether they had dreams and hopes for their children who may have been born slaves and then became free one day, maybe that is in fact the case. In fact, I would hope that it was the case. But the way that he talked about slavery today is treacherous, because it doesn't acknowledge that there were 400 years of involuntary servitude, 35,000 voyages across the Atlantic Ocean to bring black people here involuntarily. That is what was wrong with his remarks.
COOPER: When he said/talked work for less, is it possible he was being sarcastic?
RYE: Do you think it's a good idea to be sarcastic about slavery?
COOPER: Well, what I think doesn't matter, but, yeah.
RYE: It matters to me, Anderson.
DENNARD: Well, you know what, Anderson, I will tell you --
RYE: You know, I think it's an important point to dialog here -- just really quickly. I think it's an important point for us to dialog about. I don't think that it behooves anyone. It's not in anyone's interest whether we're in black history month or now women's history month to talk about slavery in a sarcastic manner.
DENNARD: Anderson, I think what's important is that the room that was there. The secretary received numerous standing ovations. And then after it was over, after the remarks, nobody had an issue with what he said.
As a matter of fact, the last question that was actually a comment to him was, "Sir, I actually was nervous about you coming and being the Secretary of Education," I'm paraphrasing, and the woman ended by saying --
RYE: He's HUD, Paris.
DENNARD: Secretary of HUD. Sorry, Secretary of HUD, she said but, "I am confident in your abilities now. I'm at peace. I know that you're going to do a good job."
So, I do think it's a lot of -- much to do about nothing, because the people in the room understood where he was coming from, understood what he was saying, and they swarmed him. Over 100 people stood in line to take pictures and meet him after these remarks. And so, it was only after this report came out in the media, which made it this big up to do about nothing.
And I think the unfortunate thing is that you could take elements of the media and totally missed the moment that the people in the room saw, heard, and were proud that, yes, Angela, that after 400 years of slavery and involuntary servitude that we can have people like you and me sit on this program, the Senates of slaves and have them at the Supreme Court, the President of United States and, yes, even Secretary of HUD.
RYE: Well, you know, Paris, I appreciate everything you said. In fact, I just learned last week that I originate from a slave from Senegal whose name was Marie (ph), and I just I can tell you that humbling moment where I found that out on the plane, thanks to some people doing who are geological research.
[21:50:13] I cannot tell you how this moment struck me particularly in this administration where so many things about black history, including our last black president have been trivialized. In fact, maybe I would just throw this away as a mistake and maybe he just had a gap in his judgment and a gap in his memory.
But he has also compared Obamacare to slavery. This is an analogy that Ben Carson tosses around and I think that he may have some severe misunderstandings about what American slavery really was and how it impacted lives including those of us who sit here today.
COOPER: All right. We're unfortunately out of time, but I appreciate both of your perspectives. Angela, thank you. Paris Dennard, as always.
Just ahead, the scandal that is now rocking the U.S. Marine Corps. Tonight, a private Facebook page, full of hundreds of nude photos of female service members and veterans, details on this ahead.
COOPER: Well, the defense department is scrambling to stay ahead of a nude photo scandal. The details are sorted, nude photos of current and former female marines and other service members posted on a secret Facebook page. Former marine exposed the scandal drawing new attention to sexism in the armed forces triggering an investigation that's ongoing. Barbara Starr has more.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The photos, hundreds of them, sexually explicit and posted without consent. They were posted via a private Facebook group page called Marines United. Members on the site solicited others to submit photos of women, only men were invited to join the private page where derogatory and reportedly violent comments were made against the women. Now, dozens of marines could face disciplinary action. It was all brought to light by a former marine.
THOMAS BRENNAN, FOUNDER, WAR HORSE: What we discovered was roughly 100 folders that contained dozens of other sub-folders.
[21:55:03] Some of those folders had one or two images in them with no real way to identify the victim. Other ones a little more than two dozen included name, rank, current military duty station, easily weaponizable put into the wrong ends.
STARR (voice-over): Brennan wounded in Afghanistan has now been threatened.
BRENNAN: My family has received threats, but it's not about us. It's not about our family. This is about -- it all goes back to this being about the victims that my story brought to light.
STARR (voice-over): Brennan founded War Horse, a military news site which first reported the allegations on the site reveal run by the center for investigative reporting. Now that it's all public, the commandant of the Marine Corps issued a statement saying, "For anyone to target one of our Marines, online or otherwise, in an inappropriate manner is distasteful and shows an absence of respect." A former military attorney says there are serious legal consequences.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could conceivably lead to a number of service members being court-martialed.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: And tonight, Facebook has taken down the offensive content. Anderson?
COOPER: Barbara Starr thanks very much. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:00:05] COOPER: That's all the time we have. Thanks for watching. Time to hand it over at Don Lemon for "CNN Tonight." I'll see you tomorrow night.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It would be an absolutely stunning charge if it were true.