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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Pledges To Vote Tomorrow On GOP Health Care Bill; Trump Team Ultimatum: No More Negotiations, Time To Vote; Schiff: New Evidence Shows Possible Trump-Russia Collusion; Senior Administration Official: W.H. Has Concerns With How Ryan Ran Health Care Issues; Death Toll Rises To 4 In London Terror Attack. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 23, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: -- celebration, but GOP members are split on it. They spent the evening trying to hash out their differences then came the word the president is done bargaining, it's time to vote. A lot we are still learning at this hour. First, let's go to Phil Mattingly at the Capitol. Phil, what's the latest?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, an ultimatum was laid down, Anderson, as you guys have been discussing at the top of this close door Republican meeting. That meeting is now over. Members are actually on the floor voting to set up what they expect will be a vote on the final bill tomorrow. And here's how this all actually happened.
Over the course of the last couple of hours, leaders, both White House officials and GOP leadership has been meeting with the House Freedom Caucuses, those conservatives that they haven't been able to get on board. And, Anderson, they decided over the course of that that they simply were not making any progress. The president himself informed Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, that it was time to lay down the law more or less. It was time to say negotiations were over. There were no more changes coming to the bill and it was time for a vote.
I will tell you, Anderson, in talking to leadership sources, they don't have the votes right now. They are still short. They did this knowing that they need to put everybody's back against the wall and hold that vote. I will say, as this deal has actually even moved forward, I'm learning more about what will be in the final measure. One of their concerns here is how the moderates, Anderson, will react to the stripping of those essential health care benefits that are in Obamacare.
They are trying to apiece them in three different ways. One, they're requiring by 2018 that every single state decide and announce what their own individual essential health benefits would be for the state insurance plans. They're also adding an additional $15 billion to a state stability fund that's already in the bill that's designed to address maternity care, and separate issues that some of those essential health benefits would have actually helped out with. These are kind of the major issues that they're trying to reach out to those moderates. But, again, to underscore the reality here, they still don't have the votes. They are going into this thing completely blind and the hope is it that ultimatum, that push from President Trump, a push that he demanded and he decided he wanted to move forward with would be enough to sway the votes, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.
I want to go now to Congressman Trent Franks, who's a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us. Just very briefly, I mean, at this point are you a no or a yes?
REP. TRENT FRANKS, (R) ARIZONA: Well, I remain undeclared because there are still other side negotiations taking place, but I am very encouraged that the Freedom Caucus amendment is going into the bill tonight or tomorrow morning.
COOPER: What else are you looking for? I mean, what else are you hoping to come -- because the White House says there is no more negotiation from the White House.
FRANKS: In an ideal world we love to just see insurance be insurance and that we would see like preexisting conditions taking out in a special high-risk pool so that we could -- let the rest of insurance be as actuary predictable as possible. Because, when you have forced insurance and you require people to enroll, people that have preexisting conditions without some sort of compensation or compensation mechanism, then it makes it very difficult for insurance companies to make any kind of actuary or predictions.
COOPER: Do you have a sense, Congressman, of whether or not the -- Speaker Ryan, the White House has enough votes to pass this?
FRANKS: No, I don't know that at all. I don't know what the vote count is. I just suggest to you that the Freedom Caucus has labored very diligently and I think they've improved the bill significantly. And I think that could make a difference. I don't know.
COOPER: Congressman, I just want to bring in Gloria Borger and John King, because I know they have some questions. Gloria?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Congressman, do you think the Freedom Caucus will stick together opposing this bill as it's been opposed to this bill all along or will it splinter with some for, some opposed?
FRANKS: I don't know the answer to that question. Only that I think that their efforts so far have improved the bill significantly. There are still much that could be done and I'm going to hope all the way up to the deadline that we do everything that we can, either in the bill or through some type of side discussions that will improve it in the long run.
BORGER: Can you describe a little bit how intense these negotiations have been with the president and with his staff and what it's been like to be inside those rooms? FRANKS: Well, you know, I don't know what other people's experiences have been. I was at the White House this morning. I talked to the president yesterday one on one and I will just say to you that the man approached me in a reasonable rational manner and I thought it was amazing to see a president this engaged personally. And I've seen an open process in the House and, I mean, this is kind of happy days again in many ways for the process itself.
Now ultimately, the real test is going to be what comes out of the final product here and I think it's so vital instead of ever questioning each other's commitment to America that we try to get together and say OK, our commitment is ubiquitous. We're all together and we all have the same objective.
[21:05:05] Now, let's discuss how we can best achieve that objective and that's what we're trying to do.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Franks, this is John King. There's a lot that's very different in Washington these days, but there is a known gravity. Let's assume you get this bill through the House tomorrow, they will go to the Senate. They are likely to make it more moderate or change it from the House perspective, choose the word if you will, you understand the dynamic as well if not better than I do.
If it comes back at that point to the House and you were told this is the best we can get, do you feel an obligation to repeal and replace or at that point will you say, "No way, this is not what I signed on to," and it will collapse again.
FRANKS: Well, I don't judge (inaudible) except to say that there's no way to know what's going to come back and you have to judge it on its merit when it comes back. But I will say this, it is the most untold, under reported, most significant dynamic of all in all of this negotiation and it is the House efforts that are so complex and so complicated by the Senate rules.
We're having to put this bill through what's called the Byrd Rule in the Senate because we have to do this through reconciliation because the Senate has to have 60 votes to even bring the bill to the floor. I don't know if it's that way in anywhere, you know, the other part body in the world where the majority can't pull a bill to the floor without the help of minority.
And so, we're having to do this through reconciliation and therefore it must get through the Byrd Rule. And I got to tell you that -- with this bill, that's like trying to shove a camel through a key hole. He's the little worse for wear on the other side of the process. So this Senate rule, this arcane nightmare that no one understands is subordinating the best policy deliberations here and the tail is wagging the dog, you know. This is unfortunately.
COOPER: Congressman Franks, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
FRANKS: Thank you all very much. COOPER: I want to go quickly to the White House where CNN Sara Murray has some late news. Sara, what do you know?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think you're seeing a White House that is very much ready to get on with it. They have made it clear that they are ready for a vote tomorrow. They want to move forward on something the president talked about nearly every day on the campaign trail, something Republicans have campaigned upon for years, but also something that's not the sexiest part of this president's agenda.
Yes, he wants to get health care done. He wants to move beyond it. He wants to remain true to his promise, but he also has big ambitions for what he wants to do in this White House. He wants to do tax reform. He wants to do infrastructure and so they see this as a hurdle they need to get over. They need this bill to pass. They need it to move forward so that they can get on with tax reform and some of these other priorities. And I think that that's part of the reason that we're seeing this sort of gauntlet being thrown, part of the reason they are pushing so hard to get this done quickly, Anderson.
COOPER: Sara Murray, Sara, thanks very much.
Back now with the panel.
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: You can see almost the House loves the Senate.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That was time honor tradition. It was pissing on the Senate.
COOPER: I'm just visualizing a camel --
SANTORUM: My friend, Trent Franks, he is my friend and that you should be thankful that the Byrd Rule is there and that reconciliation is there, because without it, you wouldn't -- you would be going through an exercise of utility right now.
SANTORUM: Well, because the Senate requires a 60 vote majority to pass anything with the exception of things that are past pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 1974. That procedure is called reconciliation. You reconcile the law to the budget that you passed and that gives you protection in the Senate to require only a simple majority vote.
So they can complain all they want and they do about this arcane rule called the Byrd Rule, but the reason it's there is it gives the opportunity for the Senate to pass a bill with only 50 votes. And David said earlier that we don't have the margin that Obama had in 2009 or '10 --
AXELROD: 2010 by the time. SANTORUM: Right, in the past. But the -- we actually have a better margin, because in the Senate, they need all 60 votes. They had 60, but they needed 60 because they weren't going through that reconciliation. They needed the super majority to do all the policy that Trent Franks wants to do. So they had the votes, but they couldn't lose one. We can lose two.
BORGER: I just have a little --
SANTORUM: A little bit more leeway.
BORGER: -- point of order. I just have a little piece of news here from our Republican who said to me that Congressman Meadows has told the Freedom Caucus members to vote their conscience.
SANTORUM: That's a great thing to do.
BORGER: And do what they need to do. This source also says that most are standing firm on no right now. But, when someone tells you to vote your conscience, you understand that they're kind of giving you a long leash.
COOPER: We're going to think about that during the break. We're going to be joined by GOP congressman who says he is voting for the bill. Later, new developments in the Russia story that's turning the House Intelligence Committee kind of inside out. Details on that.
[21:12:56] COOPER: Well, the breaking news from Capitol Hill, the White House has made it clear, it is done negotiating with members of (inaudible) party, the Obama -- on the Obamacare replacement bill says it wants a vote tomorrow.
Joining us now is Georgia Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk. Congressman, thanks very much for being with us. Earlier, you had indicated that you were not in support of this. Where do you stand now?
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK, (R) GEORGIA: Well, I am fully in support of the bill that we have out there right now. When it first came out, I wasn't necessarily against it but I thought we could do a whole lot better. I thought we could put more in the bill that would meet the Byrd requirements in reconciliation.
So, it was something my dad always told me. He was a World War II veteran. He was in the battle (inaudible). He said, "Look, if there's something in live that you don't like, you got two choices. You could do something to change the situation or just accept status quo and go on, but just don't comply."
And so, we started working on it to try to make the bill better. I was at the White House last Friday meeting with the president. We were able to negotiate what I felt were key, four key changes to the bill and that brought me over to support it.
Now, is it a perfect bill? No. Is it all that I want? No, it isn't. But it is a step in the right direction. And this is the beginning of what we believe is fixing America's health care system.
COOPER: We've been talking about this to other Congressmen. Can you just talk a little bit about -- you know, you talked about going to the White House and meeting with the president. He's clearly gone all in on this. You know, he went to Capitol Hill and had folks in like yourself into the White House. How would you explain the impact he has had on this? What is it been like in those meetings?
LOUDERMILK: Well, I think it's had a significant impact. I mean, he was very open. He was a jovial person, very engaging. It was a different person than what some people may perceive that he is. But, he's very knowledgeable, but more importantly, surrounded himself with the right people. And so we had a good engagement. We were supposed to be there for maybe 15 minutes. I think we were there for 45 minutes.
And, look, he believes that we can do much better than Obamacare. He believes that it has been a disaster, as most of us do. It's hurt a lot of people, but we can actually fix America's health care system. And he fully believes that and he believes that this is our opportunity to do so, but he doesn't want to spend an incredible amount of time going down a path that we've had seven years to prepare for.
[21:15:10] COOPER: And just finally, do you think it's going to pass tomorrow?
LOUDERMILK: I think so. I just spent about the most emotional hour and a half meeting that I think I've had since I've been in Congress. And since I've served in elected office, people pouring their heart out because this is what we are here for. Many of us were inspired to promote freedom, to ensure that we do something better.
And as Ronald Reagan said, you know, we've got to promote things that make America more free that do better. We're not always going to get perfect, but we can get good and this is a defining moment for many of us.
COOPER: Congressman Loudermilk, appreciate your time tonight. Thanks very much.
LOUDERMILK: All right, thank you.
COOPER: Back now with the panel. Joining us also is former RNC Communications Director Doug Heye and back from the Capitol is Dana Bash. Doug, I want to start with you. You say that the only thing worse than pulling -- we don't actually have Doug yet. We'll have him in just second.
Dana, you rushed back here. I'm not sure how you got here so quickly. But, it seems like they are feeling kind of positive after the meeting.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: More positive.
COOPER: More positive.
BASH: And I think to be fair, I think the positive feeling right now is because of the atmosphere inside the meeting. Senator Santorum talked about it before. I'm just looking at -- back through my texts from a source who is inside talking about the fact that part of the reason why it was emotional, in fact, couple people were in tears, was because the speeches that were given were many of them by former members of the military, who are now in Congress, talking about their experience in the military. And which obviously has nothing to do with health care, but the idea was, you know, sort of this is what we fight for, so on and so forth. And it was kind of to get the patriotic zest going within the House Republican conference, which is why it was so emotional inside.
Now, being emotional inside, the fact that the people who stood up, I think about 30 people stood up inside this closed door meeting and said positive things about the bill is one thing, and getting the people on defense or those leading no to vote yes is a whole different ball game.
But, clearly, I mean, I could see it on the faces of a lot of these members who were torn. They understand that this -- it really is what we're calling it. It's an ultimatum. And the president has made clear like, "Look, you're going to have to go back to your districts and you're going to have to tell people why Obamacare is still the law of the land if you vote no and it goes down."
COOPER: You know, David, there's obviously a big divide between Democrats and Republicans on this and you were talking about -- and governor, you were talking about people losing health insurance, about the ramification of this. The folks, the Congress people who are voting for, I assume they genuinely believe that this is going to help people in their district.
AXELROD: Well, they may. I will say this that the strongest emotion, the most prevalent emotion on Capitol Hill is the emotion of survival, the survival instinct. And I think that there's no doubt that you get in to a meeting like that and I saw it on health reform.
I mean, obviously, President Obama was arguing to put more people on health care, not take them off of health care, but there was this sense in there that this is hard. This is tough, but this is what we're here for. I hear these reports and it reminds me of some of the meetings that I was in seven years ago. But, yeah, I'm sure they believe that.
But, you know, Rick was talking before and we can have a philosophical discussion about how best to go forward on health care. But there are immutable facts, you know. Health care inflation is the lowest it's been in 50 years. Add a pocket cost for people with employee health care has been half, as grown half as quickly in the last seven years as it did in the decade before. And, health care overall, the system itself is now slated to come in or was before all of this from 2014 to 2019, 11 percent under what it was estimated to be before the Affordable Care Act. So these are facts.
SANTORUM: Well, I would -- I just --
AXELROD: -- alternative facts.
SANTORUM: Yeah, there are -- I mean there are alternative facts.
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Also called the other side.
SANTORUM: Look at --
AXELROD: No, no, there are certain things that aren't go side. Health care inflation is what health care inflation is.
SANTORUM: -- going up, premium is going up, I mean, look, this is not fairytale. You got 17 states, I think, with one -- 17 percent --
AXELROD: You're talking about within the health care exchanges and that's a fair discussion to have. There are things that should be done to strengthen those health care exchanges, but the vast majority of Americans aren't in those health care exchanges. Most of them get their insurance through work. They've got more protections under the Affordable Care Act.
SANTORUM: But the whole point of Obamacare was to increase access through the health care exchanges in Medicaid. You can't move the ball
AXELROD: 21 million people did get health care.
SANTORUM: If you looked at the private insurance markets, the employer market, they were actually doing pretty well before Obamacare.
[21:20:03] JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTOR: They were not. They were not. I mean, not cost-wise. The costs were going through the roof, Rick.
GRANHOLM: I mean, this -- we could bend the cost curve down significantly for all.
SANTORUM: You didn't bend the cost curve, you just put boat loads of federal dollars in there. That was been the cost curve, it wasn't lowering cost.
GRANHOLM: But, I mean, what are you suggesting, though? Take away the money and people will be without health care and you go back to a system where people used an emergency --
SANTORUM: No. This bill does not take --
GRANHOLM: -- and that needs to be OK. This Freedom Caucus, I'm not free if I don't have access to health care. I am enslaved to that.
COOPER: I also want to bring in -- sorry, I want to bring Doug Heye, the former RNC Communications Director who's just joined the panel. Doug, you said the only thing worse than pulling a bill is having it go down in the vote.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. This -- look, this may be a brave new world that we're in with Donald Trump as president because it's the only new dynamic of what we've seen and I worked in the House Republican leadership for two and a half years.
What we saw time and time again, we bring up a bill on something out of controversy or what we call a must-pass bill, say the Bush tax cut is expiring, shutting down the government, opening the government, the farm bill, the times when Dana Bash calls you and you don't answer the phone because you don't have a good answer for her.
And this is the reality where Republicans are right now and where we've been for years, is we have this pendulum politics of where we bring something up that we consider a real priority for Republicans and we have to go to the right to get the Freedom Caucus and we lose some folks in the moderates so then we swing back and we swing back and forth and our members aren't happy. They don't have a direction forward.
And if Donald Trump can't bring this home as one the dynamic that we see that's different from what we've seen over the past six years, it sends real questions of whether or not Republicans can govern.
COOPER: So you're saying the vote tomorrow, it has -- I mean, for the good of the Republican Party, it has to pass.
HEYE: Yeah. This is about a lot more than health care, it's about whether or not we can pass tax reform, about whether or not the president can pass infrastructure bill, about a working appropriations process, it's about whether or not Republicans can govern. This is a gut-check moment.
And while it's all very familiar to me and Dana and folks who have been in the Capitol so many times when the pizzas arrive and the Taylor Gourmet sandwiches come, this is a gut-check moment for Republicans. The bill has to come up and if it doesn't pass, there are going to be serious repercussions for Republicans moving forward.
COOPER: Senator Santorum --
SANTORUM: Oh, no, I couldn't agree more. I mean, they have to pass this bill. And that's why they will because they have to and they all know they have.
BORGER: Can I just talk about -- ask you and Jeffrey maybe I'll ask you this question about the deficit? And you have, you know, Republicans want to lower the deficit, et cetera, et cetera, and, you know, tax cuts coming.
And the ACA will reduce federal deficits by -- this is a CBO and I know you don't like the CBO, but the CBO estimate is that it will reduce federal deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the next couple of decades, that if you just left the Affordable Care Act in place. This bill that CBO says will increase the deficit and --
LORD: Again, the CBO deals in -- Rick, correct me if I'm wrong, static analysis.
SANTORUM: It reduces deficit even more than the ACA would.
BORGER: 150 billion.
LORD: The point is their analysis is always static. They have no idea what was going to happen tomorrow than the man in the moon. This is where they always fall down. They are not --
COOPER: Technically, there is not a man in the moon, right?
BORGER: No, no, but, you know, there's a chance that this is going to be not cost effective.
LORD: Well, I mean, Obamacare was not cost effective. I mean, when you --
BORGER: In the long term it will be.
LORD: When you -- look, I mean, when you -- this is about individuals. When you interview somebody as I did, who lost their father and blames it on, on Obamacare, when you talk to a small businessman who had to cut his employees off the role because he couldn't afford it anything under Obamacare, you're talking with real human beings and that's why there is a Republican Congress and our President Trump in the first place.
COOPER: Right, but you can talk to other people who say that, you know, they got insurance for the first time and -- I mean, there are human beings in all side who have very --
LORD: Right. But that's why --
LORD: Right. That's why we vote and the vote went in favor of those folks.
KING: The Republicans won three elections on these issues and you can say 2012 was a draw in the sense that President Obama won reelection, Republicans did not get punished that he came (ph) at the presidential year at the level you would normally think they would. So Republicans have the political background here. They have the political background here. They won in 2010, they won in 2014 and they won everything in 2016 saying they want to do this. But, the point is they're going to own it. He says they believe going to this more market base. Still a lot of government involved here, that's why they have a hard time getting votes.
KING: They believe this more market base system will essentially get people -- still have access, not guaranteed coverage, but still have access. Most people's price will go down and this will be a better world in two or four years.
KING: We're going to find out. If they pass this bill, they will find out.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Much more ahead, including new developments in the controversy that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes touched off when he rushed the White House, tell the president about details he says he uncovered in the surveillance conference (ph).
[21:25:07] And later, "Time Magazine's" really interesting interview with President Trump. Mr. Trump talked to their Washington Bureau Chief, Michael Scherer, yesterday about 48 hours after FBI Director James Comey shut down his wiretap claim. What the president had to say, you'll hear for yourself.
COOPER: Hard to imagine, but there is more breaking news tonight here on Capitol Hill. Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he has new information on possible collusion between associates President Trump and Russia. This comes the day after the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, lodged a bombshell into the investigation he's overseeing.
Yesterday, he did not talk to Democrats directly on his committee, he told the public and then president -- and President Trump that communications of Trump and his associates may have been collected by intelligence agencies. Today, he met with members of the committee in private, apologized. Here's what he said afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Misjudgment call on my part and that's -- at the end of the day, that's, you know, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one, but you've to stick by what you -- the decisions you make.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did this come from the White House? Did this information that you got came from the White House? NUNES: As you know, we have to keep our sources and that's here very, very quiet. I told the American public several times that we want people to come to us to bring us information if they have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that answer didn't sits well with many democrats, not surprisingly, including Congressman Schiff. Manu Raju joins us now with the latest.
So the beyond this apologies, you spoke to both Congressman Schiff and Nunes today about the supposed evidence of collusion. What did they tell you?
[12:30:02] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, there's a sharp disagreement between the two men who are leading this investigation, Anderson, about what this evidence actually shows. Mr. Schiff telling me that "Paints a more complete picture" of what they know now and maybe it's not enough for probable cause to actually bring to trial. But enough for a grand jury investigation to look at this issue of coordination, look at this issue of collusion, to learn if there's more there.
But, Devin Nunes says there is nothing there. He has says he has no idea what Adam Schiff is talking about. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: You said there's more than just circumstantial evidence of collusion. What did you mean by that?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't feel comfortable talking about particular evidence that the FBI is looking at or what we're looking at. But I do think that it's appropriate to say it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.
RAJU: There's new evidence of collusion from Schiff. He said you have no idea what he's talking about?
NUNES: I don't. No.
RAJU: You haven't seen new evidence of collusion?
NUNES: Not that I'm familiar with, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So that -- and so the big question is where does this investigation go from here? Adam Schiff telling me that Democrats plan to continue to participate in this investigation even as they have been frustrated with how Mr. Nunes went to the White House, briefed the White House on this new information before talking to the committee. But, Schiff believes that if Democrats don't participate this investigation into Russia will not happen. But, Anderson, as you see, a sharp disagreement between the two over a central question about what the actual evidence that they are looking at is raising a question about whether or not the committee can ultimately produce a bipartisan report. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks very much.
Shortly after House Intelligence Chairman Nunes said what he said yesterday, the president said he felt somewhat vindicated with respect to his wiretapped claim even though Congressman Nunes made a point of saying he had seen no evidence that President Trump was directly or personally wiretapped.
In this latest issue, "Is Truth Dead?" Time Magazine examines the president's embrace of demonstrably untrue claims. The article is called "Can President Trump Handle the Truth?" Time Washington and Bureau Chief Michael Scherer wrote it after interviewing President Trump yesterday. He joins us now.
Michael, thank you so much for being with us. I got to say it was a fascinating interview and article. I want to get into some of the details what the president told you, but first on the timing of this, when did you reach out to the White House about the story and what did you tell them?
MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME WASHINGTON BUREAU: I reached out on Monday. I told them I was working on a story about this issue of truth and falsehood in politics and Trump. I've said it on Monday. This is before the Comey hearing that I expected to be pegged on what Comey's testimony said. And then, I had another conversation on Tuesday with the White House.
I think what led Trump to want to do this interview is he felt that he wasn't getting credit for things he had said in the past that had been disputed that had later turned out to be true.
I had said to them, I also want to explore this idea, which I talked about in the story that sometimes falsehood has worked to his benefit. That sometimes he's able to see the national conversation with claims like, you know, the president was possibly born in Africa, or Mexico is sending rapist across the border, or Muslims celebrated on September 11th.
That sort of work like viruses in our news media, of course, everybody else in politics to respond, take over the news cycle and then deliver his message of the day and that he had been rather savvy about doing this. And those were the two points I told him about and he called on Wednesday afternoon.
COOPER: You push the president -- many of the statements that have turned out to be wrong or flat out untrue. It's fascinating, you know, just to read it because he is -- as he often is in interviews, particularly we saw during the campaign, completely unphased and often pinning it on articles or cable T.V. shows that he's watched saying he was just repeating what he read or heard or that people who are talking about or people say or he heard it or he read it. You know, despite this being a week where the FBI director said there was nothing to back up these claims of wiretapping by President Obama, he clearly feels someone vindicating and kept referencing to what Nunes had said at the White House.
SCHERER: Yeah. So, we think of truth and falsehood as a binary, right? You're either right or you're wrong, its how journalism works. He sees this more as a negotiation. And at every point you push him, he'll maybe fall back a little bit and make another claim or change the topic or direct things to a different place.
You know, say I was only saying wiretapping in quotes say I didn't say that. It was a newspaper article I was reading. And I was just saying what the newspaper said even if it was the National Enquirer and it was basically a bogus story.
So -- and I think this says a lot about how he has always seen this issue. He came up in real estate. He came up talking about truthful hyperbole. He's always manipulated reality or these perceptions of reality and he's done it with significant success and this also brought the other part.
[21:35:05] You know, I kept asking him about credibility and the credibility of the Office of the President and if he worried that over time, if he kept getting called out by his FBI director or other people for saying things that weren't true, if the credibility of the office would be hurt and his answer to that repeatedly was did you see the size of my crowd in Kentucky a couple of nights ago?
SCHERER: And do you know that I won the election? I mean, that I -- that he's not willing to give any ground on that because he thinks his approach to this has been affirmed by the American people and still being affirmed by at least his supporters.
COOPER: What's also interesting in the interview and, again, this is something we've seen before. But just to see it out of the print the way he was talking to you. He will claim credit for something because he made a statement that was untrue about something that occurred, like something that didn't actually occurred, but then it may be, you know, days later occurred or months later occurred and then he will say that he was right because even though he was talking about something that hadn't occurred when he said, something later occurred that he then could claim credit for saying it.
SCHERER: Right. So -- and that gets to what I was saying before that it's not black and white. It's not true or false. He's not judging himself by the literal words he said. The example he was giving here was about what he said last month at a Florida rally about something happening last night in Sweden, referencing some sort of immigration issue in the country.
There was no immigration issue at the previous night, but a couple nights later there was a disturbance in a suburb with a lot of immigrants. And he said that vindicated what he had said before. I said, well, but you were talking in the past tense on Saturday, you weren't talking about a future event. And he just didn't see that as relevant. That for him -- and he said this several times, he has great instinct. He has a great feel for what's happening.
If he said months earlier in a tweet that Anthony Weiner's sexting was going to get Hillary Clinton in trouble and then it comes up in a letter from Comey a couple of weeks before the vacation, he thinks he deserves credit. And by its extension, he thinks if he says the president wiretap me, even if the FBI director is saying that is not true, that there is no evidence to that, he thinks we should basically suspend our disbelief and wait because he has a record that proves he's been right in the past.
COOPER: And, I mean, one of the headlines from today, just from the -- what was the line he said to you about where he must be doing something right?
SCHERER: Yeah. This is one of the times I was asking him about the credibility of the office. I tried one more time and he basically said, "Well, I'm president and you're not."
COOPER: Right. I must be doing something right. I'm president and you're not.
SCHERER: Yes, that's right. And that he was just repeating basically the same idea he had said earlier when he was talking about his crowds in Kentucky. If you want to say that I am misleading people, then judge me by my success is basically what he's saying.
COOPER: Right. Michael Scherer, just fascinating. Well, I just encourage people to read the interview. It's just fascinating. Thank you so much.
SCHERER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Back now with the panel. It is interesting. I mean, in -- just in that article, because it is kind of a perception of the presidency which is so unlike past presidents. I mean, you know, you talk about the credibility of the office. It doesn't seem -- and I'm trying to say this, I don't want to sound in any way, snarky, but it doesn't seem as if he has the same perception of the office perhaps that other presidents have had.
AXELROD: Look, I think the most telling -- maybe the most telling quote that we've heard from Donald Trump when he said when he justified all of it by saying, "I'm president and you're not." And I think it really reflects his governing principle, which is if you win, that justifies what you've done. And you can do anything in service of that and the result will justify.
I also found it interesting that, you know, his argument seems to be, "I may not be truthful, but I am president." So even if what I said happened, didn't happened, it's going to happen.
KING: Which is really unusual.
AXELROD: Or can I get the powerball number?
BORGER: Right. But he, you know, he's always been this way, and he's a 70-year-old man and he's not going to change. And I remember one story that a man in Atlantic City when he was opening the Taj and the slot machines were shut down by the gaming commission because they weren't ready to be opened for whatever reason. And then he went on Larry King and Larry King says, "What about the slot machines, you know?" And he said, "They just blew up because so many people were using them." And they blew up from overuse, which of course, was not true. And he's always done it.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But he knows exactly what he's doing.
PSAKI: I mean, I think he's an evil marketing genius, right? I mean, he became famous because he was on a company --
COOPER: You're using the terms, you know, lovingly.
PSAKI: I'm using it not lovingly. He became famous from a television show. He knows what he's doing. He's creating confusion. He's muddying the waters. What he hasn't confronted and we don't know yet because we're only 60 days in is what that means when you're the leader of the free world and you're the commander-in-chief and how the rubber may meet the road there because foreign leaders, the military.
[21:40:14] Others may start to take what you're saying literally and there are real consequences, but he's just confronting that.
COOPER: My friend Andy Cohen who, you know, has does all of these Real Housewife franchises, he tweeted out today that this is Donald Trump's -- this is the president's Real Housewife tag line. I must be doing something right, because I'm president and you're not.
LORD: You know, speaking of "Time Magazine" I did a column on them just the other weekend and other things that we never don't talk about here and I mentioned this a little bit piece for CNN is media narrative. And the piece I did on time compared directly, "Time Magazine's" cover of then President-elect Obama in 2008 smiling picture of the president and it says, person of the year. Eight years later, Donald Trump comes along. There is his picture. He looks grim. It says "President of a Divided United States of America."
Now, all I'm suggesting to you is that when you are going to constantly say that one person is the greatest thing than slice of bread, and you're media analysis always is, you know, this guy is terrible, then that plays a role in all of this and how this is presented.
GRANHOLM: This is not --
KING: How does that -- forgive me, forgive me. I don't want a debate media bias (inaudible), but OK. To your -- and even if I accept your point, at least 14 things he said in the article were demonstrably false.
LORD: OK. OK, John.
KING: What does that have to do with Barack Obama versus Donald Trump?
LORD: Sure. A lot, because when I went back and took a look, there were plenty of stories out there from conservative outlets about President Obama not telling the truth in all manner of things. Not just the famous, "If you like your doctor, you can keep it," but all kinds of things. But that was not the narrative.
KING: But when that turn out not to be true he was hammered for it. That's why they lost those elections.
COOPER: OK. You know, well, let's pause this because I do want to continue this discussion, but we're going to need this on the other side of the break. We have a lot more to talk about. Also, what seems to be a President Trump's go-to response when his claims are proven wrong? We'll be right back.
[21:45:31] COOPER: We're talking about President Trump sometimes distant relationship with the truth. Before the break, I talked with Michael Scherer, Time Washington Bureau Chief, who interviewed President Trump yesterday and wrote about it in an article headlined, "Can Trump Handle The Truth"?
It is a fair question concerning the number of times he's been caught or called out, I should say, making untrue claims or when that happens, he has a go-to move that we've all kind of seen. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You know, I was -- I was given that information. I don't know. I was just given. We had a very, very big margin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess my question is why should Americans trust you when you accused -- the information they received was being fake when you're providing information that's --
TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I was given that information. Actually, I've seen that information around.
We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so, you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Kind of a deflection and shifting blame, pointing finger at someone else. Parents of young kids everywhere maybe recognize the behavior.
Back now with the panel. You know, does it -- does any of that matter? Maybe could --
GRANHOLM: Yes, yes, it totally matters. I mean, don't we all want our president to have integrity and honor and --
COOPER: Right, but people saw this during the election and you know.
GRANHOLM: Yeah, that is true. Now they're seeing it as president. And I think it makes a huge difference. It makes a difference when people see him repeating lies that have been proven to be false. It makes a difference when our allies across the world don't know whether he's telling the truth or not or assumes that he's not.
It makes a difference when they're negotiation in -- on the floor for deals and those who are getting the deals aren't sure whether he's actually going to follow through because he is such a liar. I don't want a president who is a liar.
LORD: But you just had one for this year.
SANTORUM: Yeah, I was going to say.
PSAKI: Come on, Jeffrey.
PSAKI: But it's also going to make a difference when there is a crisis, which they have not had yet. And when there's a national crisis, whether it's international or it's something, god forbid, like a shooting that happens, every president has to go in front of the American people and bring people together. And soothe them and tell them it's going to be OK.
And he's -- I'm not sure he has the ability to do that. And I don't think people are going to look at him and believe what he has to say.
GRANHOLM: He could never accept that bus stops here. He never takes the blame for anything.
SANTORUM: Look, in part I agree with that. Look, I don't think the president should be doing this. I mean, I just don't think he should be putting things out there that -- when the president put something out there, it shouldn't be, that I read it somewhere and I'm just repeating it. We expect the president to have better information than what he read, you know, in the newspaper, you know, or saw on Fox News.
So, I don't think he should be doing it. I think it hurts -- I'm someone who believes in the president's agenda. I'm someone who wants to see him do something on immigration and trade and taxes and infrastructure. I believe in all those. I think we need to get our manufacturing back here. I think the president is the right guy at the right time for America and I think this is a distraction that hurts his ability to get that done. Now, I'm going to also agree with Jeffrey that the previous president had his share of whoppers that have not been pointed out as much as this president. But the problem with this president is the things he says that don't always come forth with the truth are somewhat extraneous --
PSAKI: Wait a second, can you name two things? Let's hear you name two or three things. What are you even referring to?
SANTORUM: Well, obviously, the health care bill he lied repeatedly on number of things --
LORD: About the higher percentage of black men in prison than in universities.
PSAKI: We're talking about our president lying about his team's contacts with the Russian government.
KING: How about ISIS and the J.V. (ph) team?
GRANHOLM: Oh, please.
LORD: He didn't lie. We have no idea.
AXELROD: Those aren't lies. There are maybe mistakes. He may have made mistakes. He --
SANTORUM: He misrepresented --
AXELROD: Every president says things --
SANTORUM: He misrepresented and he knew it was not true.
AXELROD: Every president not -- no president has a batting average of 100 percent.
AXELROD: But fundamentally, when you tweet that your predecessor bugged you or ordered your offices wiretapped, that's a pretty specific charge and it wasn't true.
COOPER: I got to go to Dana. I understand you're learning something new?
BASH: You know, just talking to a senior administration official as at this process is going down, even before the vote, and what this source says is that there are increasing concerns about the way -- from the White House -- about the way the House speaker has handled this process. Specifically, about the fact that they now believe that the speaker didn't work hard enough to bring members of the House Freedom Caucus in early enough before the president had to really start twisting arms for them. [21:50:15] And that the meeting that happened just earlier this evening inside the House speaker's office with the Freedom Caucus, House Republican leadership and members of the president's senior team, Steve Bannon, excuse me, Reince Priebus and other was "very intense."
You know, I'm sure that the House speaker, and I'm actually reached out to see if they have a response and my initial was that, you know, really want me to respond to something that's a blind quote, which I understand. But I just -- this is something that's percolating up. And I would imagine if the vote goes down tomorrow, going to be even more.
SANTORUM: I'm going to put a little bit spin on this. Postmortems follow the vote instead of--
BASH: No. But I don't think they're conform -- here is why I think this is noteworthy and the reason I thought it was important to report it is because this is the product of a lot of meetings. I mean, even more so today than we have seen in the past few days that include the House Freedom Caucus, that include White House officials, that include the House Republican leadership and this is a sense by somebody who is representing the president's team on this.
SANTORUM: Look, as I've been saying for a long time here on CNN that the speaker did not handle this the way that other --
SANTORUM: -- Republican leaders who successfully passed big things handled it. And so, I think they're absolutely right on that.
I think the message to your point why are they leaking this out now? Why are there recriminations now? I think it's a very clear signal to the Freedom Caucus that we got your back in the Senate. We're going to try to do what we can to hold on to what you did that we don't think you got a fair shake in the House and we're going try to do a better job and the Senate holding on (ph).
So to me, they know where their votes are coming from to pass this thing. It is not from Charlie Dent, it's from the guys on the Freedom Caucus--
AXELROD: Over and over and over again.
BORGER: You might be right about that. You might be right about that, but also this is an arranged marriage and always has been between the president and Paul Ryan. They haven't been close. I mean, Reince Priebus is close to Paul Ryan, but Donald Trump has never been close to Paul Ryan.
So, if he's going to pass the buck there or somewhere else because he's probably heard complaints from conservatives that they haven't been brought in, Paul Ryan seems the likely person that they would blamed.
AXELROD: There's also a history between Steve Bannon and Speaker Ryan. Bannon being no fan of Ryan. Breitbart has been relentlessly on the attack.
BASH: And that's a good point. I mean, when Steve Bannon was running Breitbart, Breitbart did several stories, many stories going after Paul Ryan. But one where -- a reporter actually went to speaker Ryan's kid's school to talk about the notion of him being hypocritical because he was against the Muslim ban, the idea of refugees particularly not coming in here and his kid goes to a Catholic school where they do ask kids for their religion. I mean, so that goes pretty deep. I know, but I'm just saying. It's -- no, I exactly, but --
GRANHOLM: For this news, though, that you just got suggests that they don't have the votes and he's just preparing to do the blame game.
BASH: I'm not sure.
AXELROD: I don't think.
BASH: I'm not sure if that's true.
KING: I'm over it. And to keep what they got --
KING: -- to keep what they got that they want these guys to know --
KING: We're going to be with you against Ryan.
COOPER: We got to take it. We have a quick break. More breaking news, the death toll sadly climbs higher in the London terror attack. We remember the lives lost tonight, including American citizen when "360" continues.
[21:56:44] COOPER: Well, sadly there is breaking news in the London terror attack. A fourth victim has died from his injuries. He's an unnamed 75-year-old man.
Tonight, thousands gathered in the heart of the city for a candlelight vigil to show unity and defiance in the face of terror. It's a message to terrorist around the world that Londoners stand strong.
ISIS has claimed responsibility of the carnage Wednesday afternoon. CNN cannot independently confirm that, but we do know the attacker ran over several people on Westminster Bridge with his car crash into a gate outside Parliament and stabbed the police officer before he himself was shot and killed.
As always, we believe the focus should be on the people who lost their lives, not the terrorist who took those lives. And, tonight, we want to bring you their stories. Our Nick Robertson has a look at three other victims, including an American citizen.
NICK ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kurt Cochran and his wife Melissa were visiting London on the tail end of a European vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
They were walking over Westminster Bridge on Wednesday when they were mowed down in the attack. Both slammed onto the pavement on the adjoining parapet.
Melissa broke her leg and rib during the impact. Kurt died from his injuries. The couple ran a recording studio together near Salt Lake City. Kurt was passionate about music.
They were just one day away from flying home to Utah. The family issued a statement calling him a good man and a loving husband. Our hearts are broken they said. We love him so much and we'll never forget him. Kurt Cochran was 54 years old.
Keith Palmer was on duty at the Gates of Parliament when the attacker broke in and stabbed him. Bystanders rushed to his aid, but he died from his injuries. Constable Palmer was with the Metropolitan Police.
Here, his team members lay a wreath in memory of the fallen officer. And he was also remembered today in Parliament.
JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: He was a strong, professional public servant. And it was a delight to meet him here again only a few months after being elected.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He leaves behind a wife and young daughter. Keith Palmer was 48 years old.
Aysha Frade lived in London with her husband. She was an administrator at the DLD College in London and was walking over Westminster Bridge on Wednesday reportedly on her way to pick up her two children from school.
Aysha was a British national, but was originally from Spain. A flag was lowered to half-staff in her memory in Betanzos, Spain where her relatives still live. Aysha Frade was 43 years old.
Nick Robertson, CNN, England.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We remember them and all of those who are in the hospital tonight. We are back here in Washington tomorrow. Time now to hand things over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight".
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, big breaking news. The White House to the GOP, negotiations are over.