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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Electronics Banned From Cabins On Some Flights To U.S.; FBI Director Confirms Trump-Russia Probe, Refutes Wiretap Claim. Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired March 20, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:01:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Topping this hour of "360". In Washington, new security restrictions on certain flights coming into the country and the reason behind them. One of the affected airlines says they'll take effect tomorrow. Our Aviation Correspondent Rene Marsh has details, joins us now. So, exactly, what is this new ban involves?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: So, news official was telling me that the Trump administration is preparing to make this announcement that specific flights from certain regions, namely the Middle East and Africa, that have direct flights to the United States will have new security measures, and we're told that will mean that passengers getting on board those flights will not be allowed any electronics larger than your cell phone in the cabin of the plane.
COOPER: So you have to check the bags if you have a computer or anything like larger than a cell phone or tablet. I mean, you would have to check that.
MARSH: Right. It would have to go into the belly of the aircraft. Again, this is for flights coming from very specific countries in both the Middle East and Africa with direct non-stop service to the United States.
COOPER: Do we know what prompted DHS to make the change?
MARSH: Well, DHS is not saying much officially on the record tonight, but we do know from sources. I know CNN's Barbara Starr from her Pentagon sources telling her that they believe that this ban is related to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP.
MARSH: They also know that AQAP has actively been trying to build these undetectable-type explosives and get them on board of commercial aircraft. They also know that after that Yemen raid that happened recently, they gleaned some additional information that contributed to their ongoing concern about AQAP's continuing efforts to create these undetectable explosives so to speak, all of that together and here we are what we're talking about. COOPER: Right. Traditionally, AQAP has had pretty sophisticated bomb makers. I think they were able to put a device in a printer if members (inaudible).
MARSH: Right. And that's their concern that you have these airports that may not have the sort of checks and balances that we may see here in the United States. Perhaps, if AQAP has moved forward with their bomb making, they could perhaps get past the controls at some of these airports.
COOPER: Rene Marsh with the breaking news. Thank you so much with that. Appreciate it.
Now, the hearings that electrified this town today, much of the country, FBI Director James Comey testifying before the House Intelligence Committee debunking President Trump's claim that President Obama wiretapped him during the campaign and revealing for the first time that the question of ties between Trump associates and Russia is the subject of a criminal probe.
CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown has been covering the hearing who joins us again this hour. So, let's talk about the wiretapping claim. Explain what the FBI director's message was on that.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the FBI director certainly did not mince words today, Anderson, when he said there is no information in the FBI or Justice Department to support President Trump's claim on Twitter that his phones were wiretapped under the order of President Obama.
Now, at the time, when those tweets went out, Director Comey wanted DOJ to publicly refute the claim, which we know didn't happen. So the director sees on the opportunity today and then doing so, put himself at odds with the White House which continues to stand by this claim. So in that context, this is really an extraordinary rebuke, Anderson.
COOPER: And about the ongoing investigation, how far did the director go?
BROWN: Well, he acknowledged for the first time that the FBI is investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russians during the election, which is significant in it's own right that he acknowledge that and he said that that probe started this past July.
Of course, that was a time when stolen DNC e-mails were released. It was also in the same timeframe that Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, visited Moscow to give a speech. That visit has been under scrutiny by the FBI. Page claims he went as a private citizen and did nothing wrong.
The FBI is also been looking into this repeated contacts between former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russians during the campaign as well as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts. Investigators are simply trying to determine whether they unwittingly or wittingly worked with Russians in some capacity to try to influence the election. Of course, they've all strongly denied any wrongdoing, Anderson.
[21:05:03] COOPER: And both Republicans and Democrats on the committee today really focused on different topics.
BROWN: Yeah. It was certainly a partisan hearing with Democrats more focus on the possibility of collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russians. And then Republicans more focus on leaks to the press and whether that's a crime, particularly the reporting about Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador.
And at one point, Congressman Trey Gowdy even insinuated former Obama appointees could be the source of the leaks without providing any evidence to backup those insinuations. So it's clear, both sides of the aisle had their own agendas today, Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Tonight, President Trump held another one of those campaign sell rallies that he's been having since taking office, this time in Louisville, Kentucky. Jeff Zeleny tonight is there for us.
The president finished speaking short time ago. I understand that he didn't have anything directly to say about Comey's testimony.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he didn't. It was a rare example of restraint by this president when he had a rally here of some 20,000 people or so. The true believers here, you know, cheering him, supporting him on, and he did not mention that all the events of a very consequential day back in Washington.
Now, we've not seen his White House shying away from any of this is at all. In fact, Sean Spicer, of course, at the White House briefing was going aggressively after the fact that, you know, there was any news in this at all. He said that they're simply isn't a change in this, but, of course, at the end of this day here as Pamela was just reporting, the FBI confirmed it's investigating him.
Anderson, I think this is one of the only times I can think of that the president decided to stick to that teleprompter and not go after something that clearly is hanging over them so aggressively.
COOPER: It was all -- it was fascinating, though, today at the White House that they basically didn't try to walk back or qualify the president's allegations of wiretapping by the Obama administration at all.
ZELENY: No, they didn't. I mean -- and the reality is, you have the FBI director really as one of the last people standing in Washington, except the president himself who says, "Look, there's simply no evidence of this at all."
But Sean Spicer is saying, "Look, there should be more investigation of this. You know, this is not finish yet. Congress needs to keep looking into it." But, at the same time, they, you know, are not sort of hopeful or eager for a widening investigation into the actual merits of the Russian probe.
Of course, that is what, you know, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees actually started looking at before this shiny object happened about, you know, 16 or 17 days or so ago, but the White House clearly trying to pivot tonight. It's one of the reasons that the president, flying back to Washington as we speak with Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, he wanted to talk about health care. That first vote comes on Thursday. But, Anderson, even though they want to change the subject, the Russian subject is sticking with him for, you know, as long as we can see coming.
COOPER: Yeah. Jeff Zeleny, Jeff thanks very much.
Just ahead, reaction to the hearing from someone who's run the CIA, the Pentagon and served as White House Chief of Staff. You will hear from Leon Panetta, coming up. Also later, a panel including two Russia experts weighs in on Moscow's potential motives in all of this.
[21:11:40] COOPER: A lot of breaking news tonight. The White House doing damage control, into some extend, doing damage to facts trying to down point some of the more punishing testimony today's House Intelligence Committee hearing.
Earlier tonight, we spoke about the hearing and the remarkable circumstances surrounding it with Leon Panetta. He's former Obama administration CIA director as well as defense secretary. He also served as the White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, lots to cover. You heard Director Comey testify today that the FBI has no information to back up President Trump's accusation that then President Obama wiretapped him. But the White House, they're standing by that claim. Can you make sense of their position at this point?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: No. It's difficult to make sense of this insistence that despite all of the facts, despite the findings of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and today Director Comey's testimony that there's absolutely no evidence to substantiate that allegation.
Why the White House would continue to persist boggles the mind? I just think it's, you know, it really does affect the credibility of the President of the United States to insist that something that is totally untrue is somehow true in his own mind. And I just think it's hurting his ability to deal with all of the other issues he's got to confront as president.
COOPER: Also for the White House, for their official presidential Twitter page today to tweet out just a blatant falsehood, suggesting that what Comey said is that there was no evidence that Russia influenced the election process, which is not at all what he testified to.
They were talking about voting -- Russians going after voting machines, getting into voting machines in various states, which there's no evidence of at all. But the idea that they might not have influenced the election process, that simply was not the testimony.
PANETTA: Anderson, I think the fact that the president continues to tweet out whatever he thinks is just -- it's irresponsible of the president to do that. You know, he's not a teenager. He's not somebody who's just tweeting for the fun of it. He happens to be the President of the United States of America.
And very frankly, when you're President of the United States of America, you have to be very careful about what you say to the American people and to the world. And I just think that that kind of behavior is, again, impacting his credibility as president.
COOPER: And we should point out, we're not even sure if he tweeted that or if it was from somebody else, because it was on the White House official Twitter page. There was also the confirmation from Director Comey that the FBI is looking to possible coordination between the Russian campaign -- the Trump campaign and the Russian government, including possible criminal acts.
Republicans point to former DNI James Clapper who said he saw no evidence of such coordination by the time he left, before the inauguration in January 20th, General Clapper put out a statement today saying he's not aware of any intelligence gathered after the president was inaugurated. Do his past comments give you doubts about -- if there is indeed any fire, I mean, the smoke here?
[21:15:00] PANETTA: You know, we're in a highly politicized moment on this issue, where almost any work is going to be interpreted either by the Republicans or by the Democrats. I really think everybody needs to take a deep breath and allow this investigation to proceed.
I think it is -- it's important that the director of the FBI indicated that he is going to pursue an investigation on the Russian issue and the Russian hacking and the influence that they tried to implement it in our election. That he's also going to investigate the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign. I really think we ought to stand back, not jump to any conclusions, but allow that investigation to proceed.
COOPER: You know, talking about partisanship, I mean, this committee today, it was like there were two different committees, Democrats and Republicans, asking completely different questions. The Democrats, you know, at times sort of talking about stuff that's on that dossier, which we're not reporting on, the details of it.
Republicans focusing -- primarily, it seemed about on leaks. In terms of leaks and who's behind them, should that be as an important part of this investigation as the Republicans on the committee want to make them?
PANETTA: Well, obviously, the director of the FBI indicated that he is investigating those leaks, as well as I'm sure the intelligence agencies are investigating them as they should. And ultimately, they, too, will ultimately reach a conclusion as to whether or not there was somebody responsible for those leaks.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, always enjoy talking to you. Thank you for being with us.
PANETTA: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, let's bring this hour's panel. Joining us now, former CIA and FBI Senior Official Phil Mudd, Conservative Writer Mary Katharine Ham, David Gergen is back, Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is here, also CNN National Security Analyst and former GOP House Intelligent Chairman Mike Rogers, CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers joins us, Paul Begala is back. And last but by no means is Jack Kingston, former Congressman from Georgia is here.
Chairman Rogers, you know, the House Intelligence Committee quite well, as former chairman. What did you make of today's hearing?
MIKE ROGER, (R) FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I thought it was a swing and a miss for a couple of problems. One, we never really talked about why the Russians engaged in any way, shape, or form in an information operation to influence American election, it was a bad idea.
So the Democrats took their track of saying that laying out there in the court of public opinion why they felt that certain Trump officials were guilty and Trump himself was guilty. That really wasn't the purpose of the hearing. And the Republicans spent a lot of time talking about the leaks themselves.
And so, I thought it was a real loss to the American public, where they could have been schooled or educated or at least exposed to information that they might not be familiar with about how aggressive the Russians have been and are.
COOPER: There were some questions about sort of Russian strategy, Russian disinformation and things like that, but now it wasn't --
ROGERS: No. I mean, clearly, if you look at the news cycle, that was not the news.
COOPER: Right. And it's not going to make the headlines.
ROGERS: And that is just wasn't the headlines. And I think it's important that Americans understand exactly what the Russians are up to. I mean, the big winner in today's hearing, Vladimir Putin.
I mean, he has been communicated to our adversaries and our allies overseas that he has this outsize, this big national world figure, where before -- I mean, this is a guy who was losing about 10 years ago, and now it looks like he's winning around the world and that's a dangerous thing. COOPER: Also, Dana, for folks who don't spend a lot of time watching hearings, it does seem incredibly polarized.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLIOTICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does.
COOPER: I'm sorry, it does seem incredibly polarized. I mean, Republicans asked all about leaks.
COOPER: Democrats asked, you know, all about Russia. And it seemed like there's two different committees.
BASH: Two different committees, two different hearing, obviously two different goals. The Republicans -- and you saw Devin Nunes, the person who has now taken your job as intelligence chair, try to focus on leaks, to try to focus on that, again, at the top and the bottom of the hearing. Whereas, the Democrats, their focus, obviously was to try to kind of connect dots that frankly aren't connectible yet. We just don't know the answer to that.
COOPER: Well, they were relying on that dossier at certain points.
BASH: That's true. But I have to say that it's unfortunate, because there could have been a lot more discussed about why things happened, what happened exactly. But, it was almost irrelevant what the members of Congress asked based on the explosive headlines that we heard from the FBI director himself with regard to -- not just the idea that the president was flat wrong when he said that Trump Tower was wiretapped by his predecessor. Not just that, oh, by the way, I'm formally saying that I'm actually -- that the FBI is actually investigating, but also saying that there's a real problem with accusing the British intelligence of doing what they did and so on.
[21:20:07] COOPER: David, do you really believe today was sort of crossing the Rubicon in a way?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON AND NIXON: I do. I think that especially on the president's credibility, because it was such a naked example of someone who went out and slimed his predecessor and it was called on it. And actually, I has (inaudible) to just reflect my good friend, Mike, but I must tell you, I didn't think Putin won today. I think the United States came out better on this, because it shows that you're going to be held accountable in our system.The president was taken into account for lying about the wiretapping, and now whatever, you know, now we have an investigation under way, a serious investigation under way with the FBI for people meddling in our elections.
I do think what Adam Schiff there, I thought whom -- I thought his opening statement was one of the highlights of the whole thing, but he went to where you want to go, and that is, give us the pattern that the Russians engage in. And then he said, "Now, let's talk about the people who have been involved with this." Don't they come close to fitting a pattern? I thought that committee could have another full day or two on what the Russians are up to, how they do it, where they go. Bringing the French after their elections, bring in the Germans after their elections and that's really understand what the Russians are trying to do. They stabilize --
BASH: So Russians held accountable or was -- I mean the thing is --
GERGEN: No. I think the Americans are held accountable.
BASH: Yeah, but they focus so much on Trump officials and not so much on the Russians and whether or not they should be held accountable. I think they're not more sanctions should be in place.
JACK KINGSTON, (R) FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: I actually think the committee did not really come out ahead, because when Mike (ph) was chairman and I think the word of Adam Schiff to Devin Nunes, but you guys always met behind closed doors. We never quite knew what you were up to, but we respected it and it was a bipartisan committee.
Today, it boiled down to politics. A question that I would like to know is who was -- who won when General Flynn had to resign? Was that a victory for Russia? Did they pop corks over there and say we got rid of the son of a gun by cleverly leaking the discussion?
There was no kind of -- what really happened here? General Flynn had to resign. Is somebody celebrating? Was there a motivation to get him out? Those are the kind of topics that we're not discussed today.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right, but has -- there should be stuff done in private. For example, the criminal investigation should be conducted in private and not leaked the way it was on Hillary Clinton. Congress has oversight responsibilities, much of which might he did and much of which did behind close door, that's why so many, and I'm one of them, want to see a non-partisan, 9/11 commission look at the policy into this, not indicting people, but the policy.
What is Russia? Why? Why does our president undermined NATO? Why does our president deny Russia being in Ukraine at all and accept the annexation of Crimea? Why does he compare the United States, to say we're not morally superior to Putin who is a murderer's thug?
COOPER: That sounds very nonpartisan.
ROGERS: Why should we hate somebody we disagree with, like Paul Begala?
BEGALA: President Trump overturn the 65 years of bipartisan foreign policy visa be the Atlantic Alliance. That's a very big deal.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Yeah. I mean, I think it's fair to say that the Democrats could have done more in terms of talking about the leaks. But, we all know that leaks happen in Washington all the time, good or bad. I mean, a lot of people would say that's bad. What doesn't happen all the time is Russia trying to interfere with the election. So, I think you could actually argue that one of these two things is maybe a little more momentous than the other, and the fact that the Republicans didn't seem to have any interest in it at all is concerning.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean I'm sort of team deep breath with Secretary Panetta and I think the good news that came about this is that there is an investigation that the FBI is doing and it's their actual job to do that. And so -- and they're actually fairly decent at it. So I think it actually is better to have that conclude and to have it be a clear conclusion instead of this like leak competition we have going on, which doesn't inform the public and does not help.
And then, as far as the credibility issue goes, I agree with you on Trump, but there is this part, too, where the American public goes, look, like, they were reading the "New York Times" magazine piece where Ben Rhodes is just bragging about lying to all of America about the Iran deal, and they're like, wait a second, we had a credibility issue before, which is one of the reasons that they sort of what Trump's like.
COOPER: Phil, and then we're going to go.
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: I'm a CIA guy. Everybody is a loser here. Vladimir Putin lost going into election he believes that if Trump wins, which was a miracle from his perspective, maybe we can gain some leverage. The president has less leverage to move on Russia now than he did a couple months ago. The American people lost. Next time the president tweets, if we have a disaster, as we will, regarding terrorism on American soil, and the president says, "ISIS is responsible," people like me are going to say, "I don't trust the president's credibility."
Final point, the American people lose on the next electoral process. At some point, the FBI has to come back and say, were people involve with the Republican Party and the president involved in disrupting the electoral process? He can't let that die. We've got to have answer soon and we didn't get them today.
[21:25:09] COOPER: We're going to have more from the panel on just a second. We're going to take a quick break. We'll also focus more on all these Russia questions. We'll take that up with a pair of Russia experts shortly. More of the panel, though, ahead, including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tended to refute what FBI Director James Comey said today on Capitol Hill.
COOPER: White House efforts to discredit or discount the more damaging revelations at today's House hearing started before the gable (ph) even drop with preemptive tweets from president's -- or from the White House Twitter account, continued with more tweets later from the official of presidential account. Actually, I should say, it started from the president's personal one and then the official White House one, which Director Comey debunked in real time.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer joins LaFray (ph). On the one hand, he told reporters essentially that the investigation is already ruled out any collusion between team Trump and Russia, which is not true. And at the same time, when it comes to the president's wiretapped allegations, which Director Comey refuted, he said the jury's still out. He also continued to shift focus from that and the criminal investigation unto the leaks and the Obama administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Director Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that certain political appointees in the Obama administration had access to the names of unmasked U.S. citizens, such senior White House officials, senior Department of Justice officials and senior Intelligence officials.
[21:30:16] Before President Obama left office, Michael Flynn was unmasked and then illegally his identity was leaked out to media outlets despite the fact that as NSA Director Rogers said, the unmasking and revealing individuals endanger "national security."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I want to get the panels' take on that. I mean, Dana, that press conference afterward, it was just fascinating. Sean Spicer saying Paul Manafort had very little to do with the campaign and was only there for a very little amount of time. And Paul Manafort ran the campaign.
BASH: Listen, I mean, I've said this a couple times before, but I think it bears repeating. We've probably all worked with Sean Spicer and knew him in his former life. And that is not the kind of work that we know that he has done in terms of speaking the truth. I mean, he is so wrapped around the acts of --
COOPER: Just like the stories of Richard Simmons being trapped in his house. I mean, like, you're talking was like -- what do you -- it's like he's a hostage. It's like you're saying --
BASH: No, he is not, because I --
COOPER: I knew Sean Spicer. He was a nice guy. I don't know who that person is.
BASH: I get your point. He wanted this job. He was very dedicated.
COOPER: He's got new suits.
BASH: He's got really nice new suits. He's got a very famous person playing on "Saturday Night Live". But when it comes to what his job is it clearly is to make sure that the president is OK with the performance that he gives everyday.
And for Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman for a President Trump, that means to have reality, what's happening in the real world and then what he says from the White House podium.
COOPER: Well, it's interesting. There was an article in the "Post" or the "Times" while -- a couple of weeks ago, maybe last week, basically saying Sean Spicer speaking to (inaudible) to one, which is the President of United States. He's watching -- according to the reporting, he's watching the news conferences every day, that the president actually sets a time aside in his schedule to actually watch the briefing.
BASH: Its must-see T.V. in the Oval Office.
GERGEN: He's turned it into -- they've turned it into the worst job in Washington, because normally our press secretary has touched the reality. They may have different views and (inaudible), but here you're in a looking-glass. Yeah, you're through the looking glass and you're gagged.
Having to get orders from somebody about what you're going to go after and say, and you never know what you're expected to say, because you're always expected to say whatever served the president well, not what's true. And you get lost in that world. I'm just telling -- I'm telling, this must be a nightmare for him (inaudible). He's not PTSD when this --
KINGSTON: But he also -- you know, I've known Sean many years. He's a tough guy. And I now at "Saturday Night Live" wants to think they're getting him excited when he's -- when he essay this. That's just the way he is. He's a very animated person. He would be telling, "Paul, how great that you play it in there."
BEGALA: We can talk about that.
KINGSTON: But let me -- that's the way he talks.
GERGEN: He shredded the --
KINGSTON: But the other thing is as Republicans, we know that the media world isn't exactly the home court for Donald Trump or anything Donald Trump. And so, when he goes out there day after day, he knows no matter what Trump does, he's going to be pounded by it.
BASH: Congressman, you would never ever get out there and say, "Oh, I'm sorry? Paul Manafort, he just had a small role on the campaign." I mean, come on. And that's just one example, including that was so not real.
KINGSTON: Let me say this. You know, I did not know and I heard it reported tonight that he actually joined the campaign in March or April. I had no idea of that, because I believed there was Corey Lewandowski until May and if somebody had asked me or somebody who was at during the campaign, I would have said, "Absolutely, that's correct. He came in essentially to do the delegates at the Cleveland convention."
BASH: Come on.
KINGSTON: And it was a short-lived spin. I mean, I don't -- it was --
COOPER: Do we have the video?
KINGSTON: He's out so far. And I would have said this about Paul Manafort, "Did you see the statement he issued?" It was not -- it was very -- it was unequivocal. It was -- I have had nothing to do with this, any suggestion is absurd.
COOPER: But he wasn't -- nothing to do with the campaign.
KINGSTON: His own personal statement. If you're the least bit guilty, you don't go out there and issue the kind of statement that he did today. And I do have it. You know, we'll pull it up.
COOPER: Well, wait. I just got to play a video, because I feel like --
BASH: Buses are coming up.
COOPER: -- at a certain point, I feel like we were all there. We all met Paul Manafort.
COOPER: He was running the campaign. If only we had a video of some of Paul Manafort's appearances on T.V. or references to him -- oh, we do. Let's look at them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I have fantastic people. Paul Manafort just came on. He's great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul was amazing and, you know, he helped us get through the primary process.
TRUMP: I brought Paul in because a very, very smart friend of mine who knew him very well has said he is fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Manafort remains as our chairman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Manafort.
TRUMP: Mr. Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bringing professional like Paul, helped us grow the campaign and we need 10 more of these. Everything that Paul did for the campaign was one last thing I had to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:35:06] COOPER: Paul Manafort.
KINGSTON: He was fired.
COOPER: Right. He -- a very small role, a very limited role.
BASH: You said he was fired, doesn't mean he didn't have a role.
KINGSTON: He had a role, it was short-lived. I think you guys are picking on my man Sean.
COOPER: Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.
MUDD: Let me tell you something. We went in with questions, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, saying there's a legitimate debate about immigration in this country, about the Iran nuclear deal. There's a debate about health care reform and we have a man who comments about how many people showed up at his party.
He screws up the initial program on immigration, and now he's claiming that the British were involved in hacking the former -- and supporting the former president to wiretap his building. I think Americans are saying and polling supports this. We have interesting debates that president represents. There's other stuff, let me be clear, WTF, enough with the Twitter, get on with the program, enough. That's what I say.
KINGSTON: It was the Democrats who brought the Brits into the debate today. Not to -- just to remind everybody.
BEGALA: The president is accused (inaudible). Look, the problem is not Spicer, OK? It's not. Everybody likes Sean Spicer. I like Sean Spicer. He's destroying his career, I couldn't care less. He's destroying the credibility of the United States of America, though, and there's a moment when our president will use the words, on my order, which means, on my order, I am launching. I am deploying. And, my god, we have to believe our president and our White House when he says that. And that is what Sean and the president are killing.
COOPER: Believe me, we're going to take a quick break. On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee is also looking into the wiretap claims of President Trump that possible ties and associates may have had with Russia. You're going to hear from the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, next.
[21:40:16] COOPER: It was a remarkable day on Capitol Hill with President Trump being rebuked publicly by sitting FBI director and the head of the NSA. All of this happening during the House Intelligence Committee hearing into President Trump's wiretap claims, and a new possible connection his team might have had with Russia.
Next week, the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to hold its own hearing seeking answers. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, is the Vice Chairman of committee. I spoke to before air time.
COOPER: Senator Warner, FBI Director Jim Comey saying he had no information to support President Trump's claims that the prior administration had wiretapped him. As far as you're concern, is the issue put to bed now, because the White House certainly doesn't seem to think it is.
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) VICE CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEES ON INTELLIGENCE: I would hope so. We've had now the intelligence committee in the House, Democrat and Republican, intelligence committee in the Senate, Democrat and Republican. We've had the FBI director all say the president's tweet was untrue. I wish they would get over it and move on.
And then what we've done is rather than apologize to President Obama. We see the administration continue to kind of be in this hole and dig a deeper hole when they've now had some of them attacker our most loyal ally, Great Britain. And you've seen the amount of outrage that created in the U.K.
COOPER: Do you think they should apologize to Great Britain and to President Obama?
WARNER: I absolutely do. I mean, it is -- I think this president needs to understand that words or tweets for that matter. They matter when you're President of the United States. You can't go about and make reckless claims that perhaps you could do in business or he's done as a candidate. You can't do that as President of the United States.
We have the intelligence community. And I was happy to see, again, both Democrats and Republicans come out. You had FBI Director Comey who -- from the very first said this was a spurious claim. And, again, the White House, you know, when you're in a hole, stop digging, but this White House doesn't seem to get that message.
COOPER: Were you at all surprised to hear how far the FBI director went for him to confirm the existence of the investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, because it seems like not even the chair of the committee was told of the investigation until a few weeks ago. WARNER: Well, I've been aware of some of this information, that's why I said this investigation is the most important thing that I've ever taken on in my public career. We know already that the Russians massively tried to intervene in our election. They hacked and then released information on a selective basis to help one candidate over another.
There were literally 1,000 Russian internet trolls that were creating what's called botnets that they could then overwhelm some of the search engines. And people were getting really fake news, not Trump version fake news, but selected fake news that would come up with Russian propaganda.
And now we have a series of investigations, and it seems like from just the intelligence committee, it feels like almost every week there's another cloud that emerges. And, you know, the administration can't have it both ways. If they say they've done nothing, then they should cooperate with this investigation, because this cloud is now definitely hanging over everything this administration's done.
COOPER: There is such a partisan divide on -- in the meeting today. I mean, it almost seemed like there were two totally separate hearings going on. One solely ended in a possible collusion between Russian and Trump campaign. The other solely focused on leaks and going after people, I believe, or maybe even reporters in the case of frugality suggestion. Is the same divide present on your committee as well?
WARNER: We've had a very broad bipartisan approach. I've been very proud of my Republican colleagues, including Chairman Burr, but people like Susan Collins and Marco Rubio and James Lankford and Roy Blunt, who've been absolutely adamant both in public and in private that we're going to follow the Intel wherever it leads.
COOPER: Does it concern you that the White House in the midst of this hearing today on the president's official Twitter account put out information, which completely mischaracterized what Director Comey said until at this point in the afternoon, hours later, still has not taken it down.
WARNER: Anderson, I mean, every day in the week I think I'm not going to get more surprised by what this administration does. But, boy, oh, boy, every day and week there's a new surprise. This is not the way you operate. I mean, I heard some of the comments today, in effect dismissing the role that Paul Manafort played in the campaign. This was the guy that was campaign manager for months during the campaign.
COOPER: Right. Other said (ph) he didn't have a big role.
WARNER: I just don't get it when the fact, you know, I think the role of the media in terms of getting out facts is more important than ever. And I think all of us as Americans have to be a little more discerning. And I just wished the White House -- listen, I'm not here to re litigate the election. I'd like President Trump to do well.
[21:45:08] But he, you know, by using and misusing his Twitter account and his spokesman, you know, my concern is what happens when there is an actual national crisis. What happens when he may have to take action against North Korea or some other threat, and the only source of that information is coming from a White House spokesman or a presidential Twitter account that has been proven at least so far in the first 60 days to be more often wrong than right.
COOPER: Senator Mark Warner, thank you very much.
WARNER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: That was taped earlier today. Just ahead, at today's House Intelligence hearing, FBI Director James Comey outlined why Russia took actions to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, what he said. Plus, what our panel thinks Russia stands to gain or lose depending on the missteps in the Oval Office. We'll be right back.
COOPER: A short time ago, President Trump wrapped up a campaign scout rally in Louisville, Kentucky, without once mentioning say his extraordinary hearing in Capitol Hill. Just fine before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey flooded (ph) -- debunk President Trump's wiretapping claims and confirmed that as agency is investigating possible ties between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.
Now, here's what Director Comey said about Russia's reasons for potentially meddling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE CONAWAY, (R) TEXAS: The conclusion that active measures were taken specifically to help President Trump's campaign, you had that by early December, you already had that conclusion?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Correct. They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much. As December went on and the polls appeared to show that Secretary Clinton was going to win, the Russians sort of gave up and simply focused on trying to undermine her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Director Comey could not say how long the investigation is going to last, nor would he say if President Trump himself is part of the probe.
[21:50:03] There's certainly lots to discuss. Joining me now, "New York Times" former Correspondent Matthew Rosenberg, also, Jill Dougherty, former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief and Global Fellow, The Woodrow Wilson Center. And back with us, CNN National Security Analyst Steve Hall. He's a former CIA officer and veteran of Russian Operations.
Steve, can you explain why -- I mean, we heard from Comey there why Putin's view of President Donald Trump would be preferable than President Hillary Clinton?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah. And I don't think it's a particularly partisan statement, Anderson. If you look at candidate Trump's position, vis-a-vis Russia, you had his position on NATO, which was like, "Well, maybe it's a little old. Maybe we don't need to be participating any more."
You've got the participation on Crimea. So, yeah, we're not sure whether that was such a bad thing. I heard most Russians who live in Crimea want to be part of Russia anyway. You know the same for each in Ukraine and sanctions.
So purely on the basis of what his positions were, it would seem to make sense that, you know, Putin had to chose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, just based on the positions he would go with Trump.
COOPER: Jill, you thought something that Director Comey had to say today was particularly important. I want to play that and have you explained it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: They were unusually loud in their intervention. It's almost as if they didn't care that we knew what they were doing or that they wanted us to see what they were doing. It was very noisy, their infusions in different institutions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I thought that was fascinating when he said, why do you -- why is that so significant?
JILL DOUGHERTY, GLOBAL FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It struck me, because I haven't heard it said that way. I mean, you usually think the Russians are going to be sneaky about any type of spying or intervention, whatever, and here he's saying it's noisy, so you ask yourself why. And there could be, you know, there are many reasons, but there could be one which is they are saying, "Hey, we can do this, so look at us."
COOPER: And it's a message to the others, other country as well.
DOUGHERTY: Well, to intelligence agencies from the United States. And then you -- it could also be as Comey later went on to say, a way of creating some chaos and kind of getting people very disturbed by the fact that the Russians were, you know, involved in our election, which would make people very fearful and also think, "Gee, the Russians can do this, what can they do?"
COOPER: Matt, I understand, you've actually talked to some people who have gone further than Director Comey in terms of Russian thinking in the -- toward the end of campaign. MATTHEW ROSENBERG, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, what we've been told is that throughout the summer there's a lot of uncertainty. The U.S. is picking up intercepts, but the Russians are talking to each other within the Kremlin, within the government. What do we do? How far should we go at this? Can we actually influence the election?
They sort of decided by the end of the campaign that Trump was probably going to lose and that let's to undermine Clinton as best as we can. Let's try and create some of the chaos we spoke about. And I think right now, if you're looking around, if that was your goal, if that's Russia's goal to create chaos, look at today's hearing.
You have the Democrats going after Trump collusion, the Republicans going after the leaks. You had a complete division there and you really do have Americans kind of add odds over these issues. So, you've got to look and think what we've succeeded in to a certain degree.
COOPER: Yeah. Steve, do you think -- I mean, was this a victory for Russia today?
HALL: Yeah. I think it's a victory on a whole bunch of different levels. They're probably very happy right now, Putin is, and others in Moscow. Look, if you start the whole thing off, it's just a classical collection operation.
Let's see if we can get into the a DNC computer. Let's see if we can get into, you know, if I'm the Russian intelligence guide running this I'm like, "OK, if we can get anything out of that, that's great." And then you look at what you get out of it like, "Well, maybe we can actually do something with that. Do we have a chance of, perhaps, influencing?" Well, you know, let's give it a shot. What's to lose? You give it a shot and you think, "Oh, it's probably not going to work out, and then oh, my god. It actually did work out."
And on top that now, you've got this, you know, chaos might be too strong of a word, but you've got the whole U.S. government sort of wrapped around its own axle as to what's going on with this. So it's the gift that keeps on giving. It's a win after win after win.
COOPER: And you also have a White House, which has now, I mean just most recently alienated the British by kind of bringing Judge Napolitano.
HALL: The Germans.
COOPER: Yeah, and the Germans and then others. Yeah.
DOUGHERTY: Yeah. But, you know, Anderson, it' not working at a way the Russians wanted to.
COOPER: You said their coverage has now kind of shifted.
DOUGHERTY: I was checking in today, R.T., which is Russian T.V., their international broadcasting did not cover it live. I went on to R.T. tried to figure out, "OK, I'll search for Trump." Very little about Trump today.
One of the stories was actually insulting and making fun of the coverage out in twitterville (ph) about him and what he said about President Obama tapping, you know, wiretapping. And it was mocking Trump. This is not good.
But I think what they do not know where this is going, their idea that perhaps this would all work out and the sanctions would be ended and we'd have a great relationship is not working out. So, I think they're chilling out, trying to figure out, "OK, the less we say, maybe the better at this point."
COOPER: Matt, I've heard you say that President Trump's unpredictability is kind of fueling concern in Russia?
[21:55:04] ROSENBERG: Well, I think that's one of the issues here, too, is that, you know, you push forward, you -- like you said, you kind of stumble into success. But you're doing this to kind of undermine American predictability.
OK. Now, you've got an American leader who's not predictable. What do you do with that? You now need to plan with that. You now need to, how are we going to strategize around this? And when you don't know what the adversaries are going to do, how do you make a strategy? How do you keep it coherent?
COOPER: Well, also, I mean this has become such an issue that, you know, even if President Trump had wanted to change policies toward Russia, the question is now, can -- I mean is that something that his administration could even do?
DOUGHERTY: There's no policy. That's the problem, there is no policy. And what policy or pronouncements are out there are really contradictory. You have the president saying one thing, you have Tillerson saying another. You have the U.N. representative saying yet another thing. It's very incoherent. And I don't think they really understand, and nobody does, what is the policy.
COOPER: Appreciate you all being with us, thank you very much. We're going to be right back, more news ahead.
COOPER: We'll be here again tomorrow night. The confirmation hearing for the President of the Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, continue tomorrow. We'll bring you that, just part of the very big week here in Washington, D.C., and already, quite a day and night. It continues now with my friend, Don Lemon, on "CNN Tonight".