Return to Transcripts main page


Sources: Russia Tried to Use Trump Advisers to Infiltrate Campaign. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight another story you'll only see right here on CNN. CNN has learned that investigators now believe Russia tried to use Trump advisors to infiltrate the campaign.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown broke the story today. She joins us now with details -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned, Anderson, that the FBI has gathered intelligence last summer actually, and that suggested Russian operatives were trying to use Trump advisors, including Carter Page to infiltrate the Donald Trump campaign and have influence within the campaign. This is according to multiple U.S. officials who we've spoken with. Now, Carter Page's critical speech of U.S. policy against Russia in July of 2016 at a prominent Moscow University is probably what raised concerns in the bureau, that he may have been compromised by Russian intelligence.

But this new information, we're learning, adds to this emerging picture, Anderson, of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election, not only through email hacks and propaganda, sometimes referred to as fake news. But also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit.

Now, the intelligence that was gathered last year led to this broader FBI investigation into the coordination of Trump's campaign associates and the Russians. But these officials we've been speaking with made it clear that they don't know whether Page or the other advisers were aware that the Russians may have been using them. Because of the way Russian spy services operate, Page for one could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents, Anderson.

COOPER: So, what's Carter Page saying about all this?

BROWN: Well, we reached out to him today, he disputed the idea that he's ever collected intelligence for the Russians, saying that at times he actually helped the U.S. intelligence community. This is what he told us today, "My assumption throughout the last 26 years I've been going there, Russia, has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government, as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past."

But, Anderson, U.S. officials say this intelligence suggests Russia tried to infiltrate, tried to influence the Trump campaign by using backdoor channels to communicating with people they believe were in the Trump orbit, people like Carter Page. But it's important to note here that within the Trump campaign, Carter Page was viewed as someone who had little or no influence. But as we reported before, he is one of the several Trump advisors whom U.S. and European intelligence services detected in contact with Russian officials, Anderson.

COOPER: So, where do things stand now with the investigation?

BROWN: Well, it's still ongoing, and the FBI, intelligence analysts, FBI investigators, continue to analyze various strands of intelligence, from human sources, to electronic intercepts and financial records, and they have found suggestions of possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials. But we're told at this stage, there's not enough evidence to show or to prove that crimes were committed, according to our sources.

And part of the problem here, Anderson, for investigators has been that they essentially lost the opportunity to conduct this investigation in secret, after several leaks last year that revealed these people were looking at these people close to Trump campaign. And after those reports, we're told, those people that the U.S. was monitoring then changed their behavior and that made it more difficult for the FBI to monitor them.

COOPER: And, Pamela, the only name right now that you have learned from -- being believed is Carter Page, but he said there may have been other advisors.

BROWN: Right, so our sources tell us that Carter Page was certainly a big concern, starting last summer, when he made that speech in Moscow, and the concern was that the Russians could be trying to cozy up to him and use him to infiltrate the campaign. We have previously reported, Anderson, that there were several communications with other Trump campaign advisors, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, but we have named them in this story as someone who -- as people who the Russians were trying to use to infiltrate the campaign.

But we have been told there were other advisors that Russians were trying to cultivate their relationships with in hopes of having influence within the Trump campaign, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pamela, stay with us.

I want to bring in the panel. I also want to quickly run down the timeline of Page's involvement that we know about in and with Russia.

His first visits in 1991, then goes back in 2005, working several years for Merrill Lynch, including as an advisor on deals involving the energy giant Gazprom. Exactly what level he was at that, it's under some dispute. People who have actually worked there said he was not very high up in the organization and sort of quibble about how important he was in some of those deals. Several years later, he's a witness in the federal prosecution of an

undercover Russian spy, who allegedly tried to recruit him without Carter Page's knowledge. The spy had reportedly talked about Page, calling him, quote, "an idiot".

By 2015, he was part of an FBI case against three other Russian spies. The bureau including his dealings with Russia did not progress to them actually recruiting him.

Then in 2016, while he was a Trump adviser, at least named a Trump adviser, Page took a trip to Moscow in July to give a speech that got the attention of the FBI.

[20:05:07] That also prompted the FBI to get a FISA warrant to monitor him. That same month, he met with the Russian ambassador at the RNC convention, which brings us to his time in the campaign and now in the spotlight.

Joining us is Carl Bernstein, Steve Hall, Phillip Mudd and Ryan Lizza.

Phil, knowing everything we know about Carter Page and everything you know about the FBI and CIA operations from having worked for both organizations, what do you -- what do you make of this? I mean, does it surprise you at all that the Russians would be interested in somebody like Carter Page, whose exact, you know, power within the Trump orbit is questionable at best?

PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERORISM ANALYST: I don't think that's the question here, it doesn't surprise me at all, because you have to understand, his role in the campaign, his position isn't the only significant element that would get him in the Russian orbit.

Let me give you four or five questions I'd have if I were an analyst looking at this from the Russian side. Can he advise us who the players are in the campaign? Can he advise us who's responsible, for example, for setting policy on sanctions against Russia?

Let's got real tactical. Can he advise us where those people are? What clubs they go to? When a Russian official can cross paths with them?

There's a whole range of issues that he can advise on, down to something that's day to day. When is somebody in the Trump campaign going to make a statement about sanctions? Is that a day that the Russians should be releasing fake news?

A lot of information he has access to regardless of his seniority in the campaign, Anderson.

COOPER: Steve, I mean, those are really interesting details, kind of tactical details that Phil is talking about. What kind of things would the Russians have been trying to extract from Carter Page, and what kind of tactics would they have employed?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA SENIOR OFFICER, RUSSIA EXPERT: Yes, once again, Phil's got it exactly right. I mean, what the Russians would infer from that entire access to the operation. This is typically done --

COOPER: Access agents.

HALL: -- the Russians have some access agents. So, you got the Russians in this case would have somebody that perhaps wouldn't have the greatest access themselves, not sitting down on a regular basis with Donald Trump or other than senior folks, as has been alleged by the Trump team. But somebody like that is still incredibly useful. Maybe, yes, you can say, OK, maybe I don't have the type of access that you guys are looking for. But I can put you in touch with somebody who does, or I can tell you where that person hangs out or what their motivations or vulnerabilities might be.

So, even somebody who's at a relatively low level, we've seen the Russians before use people like that to -- as access into other people who they have greater hopes for later on becoming a much better penetration, a much better spy for the Russian intelligence services at a later date. And they would use, you know, any types of motivation that they could find if there's -- if there are financial motivations, which we know the Russians assessed Carter Page is having. There's ideological motivations, which we know the Russians said, yes, he looks pretty pro-Russian, so that's a good thing.

And it looks like they assessed his personality, his ego, as something that could also be manipulated. So, all those things would have been brought into play as they may have approached him. We don't know yet whether he cooperated, but that's certainly not what's going on on the Russian side.

COOPER: Right. And the financial for Carter Page was certainly interested in business possibilities, business opportunities in Russia and elsewhere. And that was something he'd been working on very hard.

Ryan Lizza, you know, it's interesting, when things -- well, look, he wasn't really important in the Trump organization. In fact, within, you know, a month or so of making that speech in Moscow, folks in the Trump campaign basically started to distance themselves from him and then, finally, say, "Oh, well, he was never really part of our organization."

But the Russians, at the stage, that he was actually in Moscow -- I mean, he was playing up, he was, you know, well known as a Trump advisor, at that point, even if he hadn't realized the president on anything, or the president -- that the candidate on anything. And in interviews in Moscow, he said that he was -- had been attending meetings with Donald Trump and been in meetings, which again is not true, he'd been to rallies.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, you can advise on the campaign in different ways. I mean, some advisors sit down with Trump every day and talk to him, right? Other advisors write memos or influence campaigns or policies that way by talking to more important people.

So, just because he never hung out with Trump all day, doesn't tell you exactly what his influence in the campaign was. I mean, we do know that the Trump campaign's view towards Russia was dramatically different than previous Republican presidents, right? One of the major breaks that the Trump campaign had in last year's campaign was they wanted -- they wanted a new relationship with Russia. He was very pro-Putin, he was very anti-NATO.

So, if you go down the line with the issues that Trump took with respect to U.S.-Russia relations, they were favorable so Putin. So, one of the -- one of the puzzles we haven't really figured out in all that is, why was that? Was that just something that Donald Trump came up with on his own, or did people like Carter Page and Paul Manafort and others have influence?

[20:10:02] We do know that at the Republican National Committee, there was a fight over how to deal with Ukraine and whether the Republicans should call for the U.S. arming the Ukrainians who are fighting against Russian-backed separatists in the Eastern Ukraine, and we know that that debate was settled in a way that broke with what most of the Republican establishment wanted.

So, those are the things as this investigation goes on, you would want to know to really get a sense of whether Page had any influence and whether frankly as crazy as this sounds, the Russians successfully infiltrated that campaign --


LIZZA: -- and affected policy.

COOPER: And, Carl, it's so interesting, that what Phil says, is that even if he didn't have influence, he could give information even unknowingly about who did have influence, who the players were -- who players were on Russian policy, all the kind of inner workings, whether or not he even know that information would be of value to them.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. He's a way into the Trump campaign and subject to manipulation. But what's so significant about Carter Page is that he is a minnow swimming in a sea of sharks, Russian sharks and Trump sharks, and he was used by both and both were chasing after him.

And what has become so important in terms of the investigation by the FBI is that by following him and having electronic surveillance of him, they have been able to open up this supposed conspiracy of the Donald Trump campaign and colluding with Russians to help the Trump campaign against Hillary Clinton. That is what the FBI is looking at and trying to establish.

And as Pam Brown's terrific report indicates, there is now a greatly expanded FBI investigation even though there are not yet indictments or definitive evidence of criminal activity, but they are now looking, the FBI, at travel records of those closest to Donald Trump, closest to his campaign apparatus at the top, closest to his business organization, trying to understand why there are all these dealings and back and forth between ethno-Russians and Russians, in Russia and Eastern Europe as well with Trump campaign officials. And Carter Page is a key way, following this minnow, as he swims

around with these sharks chasing after him on both sides.

COOPER: We're going to talk more about this, just a fascination development Pam Brown is reporting.

After the break, my recent interview with the man or the minnow, as Carl said, of the hour, this hour at least, Carter Page.

Also later, what the president now calls ridiculous, he once called a campaign pledge, a new Contract with America, his pledge to get a list of things done in his first 100 days. We'll take a look at that list and what the president is saying now about the whole idea of marking the first 100 days.

Keeping them honest, ahead.


[20:16:43] COOPER: Our breaking news tonight, U.S. officials telling us that Russia is trying to use Carter Page and others, claiming to be advising then the FBI gathering evidence to that effect last summer. Now, Page denies he ever gathered intelligence for Moscow.

He and I spoke at length recently before this latest development. But after his name surfaced with questions about the campaign, here's part of the conversation.


COOPER: Did you ever -- I mean, you were apparently -- I mean, they said early on that you were an adviser to the campaign, a foreign policy adviser. Did you ever brief Donald Trump as a candidate or as a president-elect?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: President Trump said it absolutely 110 percent accurate. I never briefed him -- and in reality --

COOPER: Did you ever meet him?

PAGE: I never shook his hand. I've been in, you know, many rallies with him from Arizona to North Dakota to many in New York.

COOPER: Rallies?

PAGE: Rallies. You know, which is meetings, you know? So, you know --

COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that, because you have said repeatedly that you were in meetings with the president.

PAGE: That's it.

COOPER: You were in Moscow in December of 2016. You held a press conference at the Sputnik headquarters and you apparently -- to reporters, you denied claims that you had never met Donald Trump during your time as adviser and said, "I've certainly been in a number of meetings with him."

PAGE: Yes. That --

COOPER: That implies I'm in a meeting, in a conference room, around a table. You're now saying those meetings were actually rallies.

PAGE: That is -- listen, if you look at the definition of meeting in Russian and in a Russian context, when they have large --

COOPER: Do you speak Russian?

PAGE: Yes.

COOPER: Really?

PAGE: I get by. I can understand what's happening in meetings and I can get my ideas across but it's pretty ugly.

COOPER: So, you're saying you were using the Russian definition of meetings. So, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been to rallies --

PAGE: Not -- I've been in smaller rallies --

COOPER: No, no, I'm saying, hundreds or tens of thousands of people who have been to Donald Trump rallies, can they say they've been in meetings with Donald Trump?

PAGE: I've been in smaller ones as well.

COOPER: What's the smallest -- I mean, have you actually been in a meeting where foreign policy was discussed?

PAGE: Anderson, listen, they were often discussed in rallies, et cetera, as well, right?

COOPER: I know. But if I go to a rally of Donald Trump's, it doesn't mean I'm an adviser to Donald Trump. It doesn't mean I'm going to a meeting with Donald Trump. I happen to be -- I'm at a rally. So, you went to a bunch of Donald Trump rallies.

PAGE: Yes. And things like that, exactly.

COOPER: You know, Donald Trump says your name, says your -- names you as part of foreign policy team. That was in March. In August, they say you're informal adviser. And then a month later, Jason Miller says you're not an adviser and have made no contribution to the campaign.

And you've been saying that you've been sending policy papers to the campaign as far back as in March.

PAGE: Yes. I never met Jason Miller. I think he joined kind of mid- summer and was -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, did you actually write policy papers and send them to the campaign?

PAGE: I don't like talking about, you know, specifics of --

COOPER: Because you did say -- I mean, you told "The New York Times" you did on March 25th. So, I'm just trying to --


PAGE: That's fair enough. Yes, yes.

COOPER: Can you say who you sent policy papers to?

PAGE: I don't -- you know, I don't talk about internal matters.

[20:20:00] COOPER: But, I mean, they are talking about internal matters, saying you were not part of the campaign at all.

PAGE: Well, I'm not surprised. He didn't know me because he was there until -- you know, he was -- came over from Ted Cruz's --

COOPER: Right. But nobody ever came out after Jason Miller said this and said, oh, actually, that's not true. Carter Page has been, you know, an adviser to the campaign.

PAGE: Well, you know, the beauty of it -- part of the reason why I stepped back is I wanted to prevent continuing to be a distraction. And I mean, this cycle --


COOPER: You say step back. They said you weren't part of it to begin with, which is just weird.

PAGE: You know, Jason didn't know. I mean, he was -- I mean, that's -- it's an honest mistake. He was on a few months between Ted Cruz's campaign and moving on to another --


PAGE: -- someone else right now.

COOPER: So, when Sean Spicer, January 11th, just two months ago, says, "Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign," what were you put on notice for? What does that mean?

PAGE: You know, I don't know. I haven't met Mr. Spicer either. So --


COOPER: Look, you've heard Carter Page there mentioned Jason Miller from the Trump campaign, that same Jason Miller is with us right now. His reaction to all of this in just a moment.

We'll be right back.


[20:25:07] COOPER: Breaking news tonight, another chapter in the Russia White House watch. U.S. officials telling CNN the FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisors, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

I spoke with Carter Page last month. We want again just play one part of that interview. Afterward, Jason Miller is going to be here to respond, he was a senior communications advisor for the Donald Trump campaign.


COOPER: You know, Donald Trump says your name, says your -- names you as part of the foreign policy team. That was in March. In August, they say you're informal adviser. And then a month later, Jason Miller says you're not an adviser and have made no contribution to the campaign.

And you've been saying that you've been sending policy papers to the campaign as far back as in March.

PAGE: Yes. I never met Jason Miller. I think he joined kind of mid- summer.


COOPER: Well, back with the panel.

And joining the conversation, Kirsten Powers and Jason Miller.

So, you never met Carter Page?


COOPER: And, you know, candidate Trump did name him as one of I think five advisors at the time, at the time when as a candidate, Donald Trump was under pressure to name some advisors. He named Carter Page PhD. Did to your knowledge Carter Page have any role? I mean, did he put in policy papers, do you know?

MILLER: No, not at all. Here's the deal. So, Carter Page never met President Trump, he never spoke with President Trump. He said in some article, he went to lunch at Trump Grill, which if you know anything about Trump Tower, by law, the city of New York makes it open to the public to come in.

I mean, look, I went to a Yankees game a year or two ago, that doesn't mean that I'm advising Derek Jeter.

COOPER: Right. I mean, he says he went to meetings with Donald Trump. He's talking about rallies that thousands and thousands of people went to. So --

MILLER: No -- it's completely ridiculous. And I think there's kind of a broader push back point that I have with regard to the media, it seems that every time that President Trump is starting to put together a very good week or even a really good day, we have a great news of getting the Egyptian-American woman and her husband freed last night, all of a sudden, one of these stories pops up with these baseless allegations from anonymous sources.

I mean, take a look at this story. So, this story had four reporters in the byline, there's not one single quoted source in that entire story that identifies them by name to back up these allegations. I think that's completely ridiculous. I think there's this culture of let's go and try to get Trump I think has gone way too far.

COOPER: Do you think that's a culture that -- are you saying it's the reporters doing that or is it the officials who are leaking information to the reporters?

MILLER: I think this is the byproduct of pushing back on the administrative state. I think these are entrenched bureaucrats. I think there's potentially folks in law enforcement. Bottom line is, whoever it is, they're people who are upset that Trump is trying to drain the swamp and change Washington, because I mean, think about it --

COOPER: But, clearly, there is an FBI investigation going on and it's not out of the complete realm of possibility that Carter Page would be a focus of this because he was named as an adviser, even though you know and it seems pretty clear that he didn't have an actual real role in the campaign, as far as we can tell, but would the Russians have known that? I mean, if Donald Trump names him as my national security advisor, one of five, and this guy seems to be spouting pro-Putin policies and speaking in Moscow, wouldn't that be a natural person that the Russians would be interested in getting to know.

MILLER: Well, I think folks in media can't have it both ways. So, it was reported that some Russian operative at one point spoke with Carter Page and effectively determined that he was too stupid --

COOPER: They called him an idiot.

MILLER: Right, they called him an idiot to go and try to turn.


COOPER: Plenty of idiots are compromised by, you know, intelligence services all the time. They're useful idiots.

MILLER: But he's not even a useful idiot. He's just a plain idiot. I mean, he had no role to the campaign. He never contributed to the campaign. I mean, you know, this 15 minutes that he's getting right now is the most attention he's ever going to get. I mean, he had no role in our campaign.

COOPER: Carl, does that matter whether or not he had a role? I mean, you know, Phil Mudd made a point earlier that Russians might be interested in somebody who knew the inner workings of the campaign, or knew who did have a role in the campaign, or knew who was affecting Russian policy. I mean, little details that --


COOPER: Go ahead.

BERNSTEIN: There is great evidence that this minnow was pursued by the sharks in the Trump campaign, and by the Russian sharks.

But I want to go to something Jason Miller just said about four reporters and anonymous sources, and I don't want to belabor the example of Watergate. But in Watergate, in the stories we did at "The Washington Post" and also what the "New York Times" did, there was not a single quoted source, it was all reporting based on anonymous sources.

Mr. Miller, tell me if indeed I'm correct that you have often been anonymous source, am I correct got that?

MILLER: I have been sources with plenty of stories, but here's the difference, Carl, and here's the point --

BERNSTEIN: Just to answer that question.

MILLER: No, no, if you're going to let me answer and I got to answer.

BERNSTEIN: Mr. Miller, you have been an anonymous source, am I right?


MILLER: -- after eight months of them looking at this, including today's story, including today's story, there's still nothing at the end of it. There's not one shred of evidence that says that the campaign and any foreign entity --

[20:30:10] COOPER: Right, but the counter intelligence investigation --


BERNSTEIN: Well, let me tell Mr. Miller something about what is going on. There is so far, as far as I know, from FBI sources, and sources on Capitol Hill, no definitive evidence yet of criminal activity resulting in indictment. There is serious belief in the FBI, in the Congressional Committees, in the House and the Senate that there is an active cover-up going on involving trying to keep investigators from finding out what happened in terms of the Trump campaign, Trump associates, near the top of the campaign, and what happened in their associations with Russians. And that there is an active cover-up going on, doesn't mean an active obstruction of justice, but Mr. Miller, you cannot keep going on with this fiction, that nothing occurred and nothing serious is being investigated.

And one of the things that the Congressional Committees are very concerned about as is the FBI is that they don't have the resources to conduct a proper investigation, and the White House is taking advantage of it. There are only seven investigators, many of them part-time, in the Congressional investigation in the House, not many more in the Senate. And it's a reason why the White House does not want a special prosecutor or a select committee of the House and Senate and why increasingly members of Congress do want it.

COOPER: OK. Philip, let me (inaudible), Philip Mudd, I mean with your experience with the FBI and the CIA, does it -- would it matter that Carter Page, you know, might -- you know, was once called an idiot by Russian Intelligence back in, what, 2013 or that he wasn't even--you know, he wasn't in meetings with Donald Trump if the Russian aide didn't really know that, because he had been named by Donald Trump as one of his advisors. Would he have had a value to the Russians, even if he had a minor connection with the campaign?

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: You have to understand him as a repository of information. Let me give you a simple example. If you want to penetrate an intelligence organization, I'd almost have somebody down, a clerk in the IT department who can intercept the e-mails in that organization as opposed to the Deputy Director of the Intelligence organization.

Carter Page is a repository, potentially, I don't know if he did anything wrong, of information that would be a value regardless of whether he's an idiot or a genius. He could tell me as we discussed before who might be responsible for things like conversations about foreign policy related to sanctions regardless of whether he's involved in those conversations. That's really important to a Russian who wants to approach those people and potentially influence them.

JASON MILLER, FORMER SR. COMMUNICATION ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: But he wouldn't even know that. That's the point. Because I'm saying that he wasn't even in the organization, he's completely outside and, you know, Carl, I want to go back to something you said just a moment ago, because you threw out some pretty --


MILLER: -- you know, what I thought are some pretty outlandish allegations. What one shred of proof or evidence have you or anyone else put forward to say that there was untoward activity going on from the campaign? I think that's really loaded and really quite frankly dangerous to say this about the president of the United States.

BERNSTEIN: That's the center of the FBI investigation. What I'm saying is they're trying to find out what occurred. It is possible, Mr. Miller, that they will find out that nothing occurred, nothing untoward occurred. Though they seem to doubt that that's going to be their findings, because we already see what Mr. Flynn has done. We already know some of Mr. Manafort's activities. But whatever the case there is an investigation going on and one would hope that the president of the United States, yourself and those who advise him, would say hey, we want to cooperate, we want to see everything known that can possibly be turned over including the financial records of Jared Kushner, including of Ivanka Trump, including of Donald Trump and the Trump family, because one of the things the investigators are having trouble getting a handle on are the conflicts of interest in the Trump family and whether that may figure in some of these. Though that's where (inaudible) tangential you would think. But there are people in the investigation to think it is not tangential.

They're trying to find out the truth, and they're having trouble, because people are putting impediments in their way.


MILLER: I don't see, I mean, just a final word here, I don't know what impediments are being put out. I mean, heck, I'd like to see Susan Rice brought up to testify to get to the bottom of this unmasking.

BERNSTEIN: I think she is. I think she is going to be testifying.

MILLER: I didn't see her on the list from Congressman Schiff today.

BERNSTEIN: I believe she is going to --

COOPER: Yeah, I think that Republicans have a different list. It seems like the Democrats have a list --

MILLER: Well, good, then I --


MILLER: -- and find out why -- even though there are only 1200 or so unmaskings are happened over year, why she requested this dozens and dozens of times.

But again, Carl, even that allegations that people are trying to stone wall a (inaudible) cave, they're trying to interfere with something, I think is, look, I think it's ridiculous, and I think when you read a story like today, where you have four reporters on the by line, zero on the record sources, who are actually making these accusations that something happened with the campaign. Look, I think that's completely out of bounds.

[20:35:14] COOPER: We should also point out that our latest reporting is that both Republicans and Democrats who have seen the same information that Nunez says that Susan Rice did nothing wrong, but again, (inaudible) when she testifies. We're going to take quick break. We're going to talk to Kirsten Powers next.

The subject of Pres. Trump's tweet at the 100-day benchmark the presidential (inaudible) is, "Ridiculous standard," if that's so, why did he repeatedly set that standard for himself during the campaign? "Keeping Them Honest," ahead.


COOPER: Our "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight can be summed up in is just two words, wait, what? See if you can say those two words after hearing this tweet from the president this morning, "No matter how much I accomplished during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court, media will kill." Ridiculous standard this 100-day thing is absurd, I mean who would even make such a promise.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On November eight Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our country, secure our communities and honesty to our government.

[20:40:10] This is my pledge to you, and if we follow these steps we will once more have a government of, by and for the people. And importantly, we will make America great again. Believe me.


COOPER: You know, he put that 100-day timeline with great fanfare and great details. It sounded like the political equivalent what he had done for years as a real estate developer which is close a deal. He laid it all out, his most importing closing pitch yet in the final days of the campaign speaking in Gettysburg, even borrowing language as you heard from Lincoln's famous speech there.

And actually he tweeted about it as well, this 100-day standard he now calls ridiculous. "My contact with the American voter will restore honesty, accountability and change in Washington. #bringingtheswamp." The contract offered 13 executive actions and 10 major pieces of legislation, with candidate Trump promising to fight to get it all done in the first 100 days if elected.

Keeping them honest, he has been fairly successful on the executive action, no doubt about it, the regulations, lobbying, the Keystone pipeline, those orders on immigration and sanctuary cities, obviously, were put on hold by the courts.

On his 10 items slate of legislation he's -- has not accomplished anything from that list even the Republicans controlled both Chambers and Congress, not even on the centerpiece, the promise he made again and again long before he put it in the 100-day pledge.


TRUMP: Real change begins immediately with the repealing and replacing of the disaster known as Obamacare.

Get rid of Obamacare. It's going to be gone. It's going to be terminated.

Obamacare is a disaster.

Repeal it and replace it.

Repeal and replace.

Repeal and replace.

Obamacare, we're going to repeal it, we're going to replace it, we're going to get something done.


COOPER: Obviously, no legislation on that just mixed signals and trying to revive it the next week to meet the 100 day deadline. He did succeed, obviously, getting his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on the bench. That was a good accomplishment.

Just moments after the signing ceremony for a number of executive actions, we should note, he downplayed any major legislative action next week on health care and tax cuts, those are, by the way, item five and one respectively in his contract with the American voter to be accomplish in first 100 days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- legislative action that you're planning next week. How are you going to accomplish all that?

TRUMP: It's going to be great, it will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- health care and --

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. No particular rush, but we'll see what happens, but health care is coming along well. Government is coming along really well. A lot of good things are happening, thank you folks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- going to get health care --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- next 100 days?

TRUMP: I don't know. Doesn't matter, but it's next week, next week doesn't matter.


COOPER: So now two of the top legislative items on the president's 100-day pledge are no big deal. By the sound of it, in a 100-day standard, his own 100-day standard is in the president's words, ridiculous.

At the same time, the president's communication staff is grappling with how to spin this final or this first 100 days and they seemed to settle on this line.


SEAN SPICER, WHIE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have done so many great things, including nominate and confirm a Supreme Court Justice, roll back more regulations than any president in modern times, roll back the Obama air war on coal, oil, and natural gas, restore confidence in the economy.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, that is true. Some of it is debatable. Some of it is just false. Ugly enough, that's not really the point tonight. Because whatever the truth of it is, that's just a paltry of list of accomplishments when set against the candidate's lofty promises in Gettysburg, and if he was trying to close a deal there as he has done so many times before in business. You have to wonder whether he's now doing something else, he's (inaudible) during back then renegotiating the terms when the payment comes due.


TRUMP: I don't think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone's done nearly what we've been able to do.


COOPER: All right, joining us is Jason Miller, Errol Louis, Kayleigh McEnany, and Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, let me start with you, I mean, there's a very valid argument to be made that the whole 100-day thing is an artificial timeline that something propagated by the media and politicians and governors back a long time, but it is an arbitrary deadline. That being said, can the president have had it both ways to have made a big deal during the campaign of, you know, this 100 days, this is what he's going to accomplish, and now say, oh, it's a ridiculous timeline that the media has kind of just propagated?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Yeah, I mean not so long ago he's just -- were saying he had the best 90 days, so it's something that he has embraced and something that he made promises about.

And, look, I think he probably didn't have the best first 100-days and we know that because we can see him walking back and (inaudible) to the sort of arbitrary deadline before he was sort of building it up.

So I think we know that even he recognizes that, but it doesn't mean he can't have a successful presidency, it just means that he didn't get off to a very good start. And to a certain extent it's understandable, I think, because he came into the White House as somebody who didn't have Washington experience, I think it's probably a little surprised that he won, and didn't really have sort of the institutional experience to do this. And so, it got off to a very rocky start. Have made some bad decisions early on with the travel ban and mishandled that. It's been a lot of political (inaudible) on that.

[20:45:08] But, by any objective standard, he just has not really been able to do some of the major things that he wanted to do. Signing executive orders is very easy, and he did that. But getting legislation done is very hard and he hasn't been able to get that done.

COOPER: Kayleigh, don't you feel like the president has been tripped up now in two cases by things he said on the campaign trail, which probably were true at the time or may not have been. And now, you know, a, the Carter Page thing, that Carter Page his National Security Advisor. Clearly, Carter Page was not a National Security Advisor, he was just a name that Donald Trump needed to put out there, so now he's being tripped up by that because people are saying, well, wait a minute, Carter Page, you said he was National Security. And in this case, he's talking about this 100-day pledge, and now he's saying, well, the whole 100-day thing is ridiculous and you can't argue it is ridiculous, but he did use it.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Look, I think what his tweet was getting at was not that he doesn't look at the 100-day marker as something that's important. He obviously does, he constantly refers to it. Kirsten just pointed out he recently referred to himself having the best 90 days. He obviously think this is an important mark. And I think what his tweet was getting at is the standard being set for his 100-days, as opposed to the 100-days of past president.

He has done a lot, I looks at that contract he put forward, Keystone, TPP, Supreme Court Justice, his legislative proposals haven't gone through yet, --

COOPER: Right.

MCENANY: -- but when you look at the pledge, the language of the pledge says I will immediately pursue these matters. Immediately pursue. He has immediately pursued health care, but the Freedom Caucus hasn't walked towards him. He took a step towards them. They haven't take any step towards him. But he has immediately pursued everything that he put on that contract.


ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He tried, right? I mean, I think as you point out, this is something we've seen that carries over from his commercial practices over a number of years, all well documented that if you are his creditor, if you are his customer, if you are a supplier that did business with him, when the bill came due, you got a very compelling story. But you didn't necessarily get the money that you were owed. You didn't get of the education that he said he was selling you at Trump University. You got a refund, if you were lucky, or you had to go into court to fight for it. And I think that's what we're going to see here as well.

You know, as far as it being an arbitrary marker, look, it goes back to FDR and the 100-days of what was a national emergency where 13 major pieces of legislation got passed, where things were so urgent that FDR swore in his entire cabinet in one ceremony and back to work the very first day. I mean that was a sort of a true national emergency, subsequent (ph) presidents, including Donald Trump when on the campaign trail tried to sort of, you know, kind of hype up their own importance, you know, we're going to do something similar. We're going to be like FDR. It's such an emergency. I've got to get elected, that turns out not to be true.

COOPER: Jason? MILLER: Well, Anderson, kind of -- take a step back here look at really -- what I think is the bigger picture. There's a fundamental disconnect between what we're seeing on the 24/7 cable news cycle and the main stream media kind of the Washington, New York corridor and the rest of the country.

Around the rest of the country, we're seeing consumer confidence the 17-year high. Unemployment is way down. CEO, small business confidence are going up. We're seeing obviously the market and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 11 percent. So we're seeing some really good moments. We've also seen the president step up and lead on the world stage.

Now, of course, these aren't things necessarily that would have been described in the contract, that the president laid out at the speech in Gettysburg. Then particularly we see him stand a very strong to ISIS. We saw him go I think to a fantastic job of stopping Assad from the ability to use chemical weapons again. And we seen him on the world stage to stand up to Kim Jong-Un and really send a message.

But there are lot of other things where they really gotten the ball moving where I think to Kayleigh's point about the progress being started. We're talking about this coupling of security and economic issues, the fantastic job that Gary Cohn and Wilbur Ross since together negotiators (inaudible) within the administration that are doing. They're really setting the stage for this longer term bilateral trade agreements. Kind of go to this message of economic populism that the president has been talking about for 20 years.

So, yes, we're talking about the first 100-days, a very arbitrary number. But the rest of the country they said the economy improving and -- or safer, when other parts of the world are definitely not becoming more safe and I think most people are pretty happy with where things are right now.

COOPER: I mean his poll numbers are at pretty historic lows.

MILLER: Where they are right now are largely long whoever you voted for in the previous election. So, Republicans are supportive. A lot of Democrats aren't supportive.

Look, campaigns, it's always a difference between when you're the president by yourself or the campaign where there's a choice between two different candidates. But the fact of the matter is nothing fundamentally has changed -- we're still -- in a lot of ways, we're still a divided country. But the one things -- and I've see recent data points on this when you talk about investor confidence and a consumer confidence, people agreed that it's improving under Pres. Trump.

COOPER: Kirsten, --


COOPER: -- is this just kind of, you know, eastern corridor media thing? [20:50:03] POWERS: Well, I think two things. One, I think if Donald Trump felt the way that Jason feels, I think that he'd be saying that. I think he would be saying I had fantastic 100-days. Instead, he's saying, 100-days, 100-days who cares, right?

So, I think that probably suggests that was a great spin and you were focusing on a lot of things that actually he has nothing to do with. So I don't know. I think you really think that unemployment rate has anything to do with Donald Trump.

So, early on, I'm not saying everything that he did was wrong but, you know, I think that it has sort of objectively not been a great 100 days. And again, I go back to the fact that he doesn't want to talk about it as sort of evidence that that's true.

In terms of this sort of a corridor thing. Look, this is our job to talk about what's happening, you know, in government and with the people in power. And he is somebody who made a promise about the first 100 days. I don't think that because you're saying I don't know how you know this but the average person doesn't care about this, let's just say that's true, it doesn't really matter because it's our job to cover what's happening here. I don't think it makes it not important.

COOPER: We got to take a break. I thank everybody in the panel.

Coming up, a teacher is in federal custody. His 15-year-old is back with her family, thankfully. How they ended up in this California cabin? That's a live picture right there. We'll bring you the whole story next.


COOPER: A 15-year-old girl has been reunited with her family and is being treated by trauma experts. And the teacher accused of taking her 1900 miles away from her hometown of Nashville has been arrested finally. Fifty year-old Tad Cummins is in Federal Custody he's expected to be arraigned tomorrow -- excuse me, on Monday. The two were found in a cabin in Northern California yesterday ending a search that went on for more than a month. Sara Sidner tonight has details.


[20:55:15] SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirty-nine days. That's how long law enforcement, family and friends have been looking for Tad Cummins and his kidnap victim. It all started when Cummins, a 50- year-old teacher in Tennessee, was seen by another student kissing the 15-year-old girl. The student reported that and Cummins was later suspended. And soon disappeared with his victim. There were sighting in Oklahoma and leads but after more than a month, no arrest. That is until Cummins and the girl met this man in remote Cecilville, California.

GRIFFIN BARRY, PROPERTY CARETAKER: He came looking for work. He had -- for a little bit in past year for a little bit. SIDNER: So Cummins bunked down with the girl in this cabin for a night there he said. The area is so remote that the loudest sound is the rushing water from a mountain stream outside. There is no cell service, no wi-fi, no electricity in the cabin which was still being built.

What did he say to you? What were the conversations that you had?

BARRY: I mean the first time he was like, we're from Colorado. We had a house fire and lost everything.

SIDNER: Did he tell you what the relationship was between himself and --

BARRY: The first time he said it was his wife. But she was in the car, sleeping away.

SIDNER: Barry and two other residents thought something didn't seem right when they noticed the vehicle they were driving didn't have license plates. There he said Cummins and the girl initially found a commune in the mountains that allow them to stay for five days but Cummins made himself unwelcome and left ending up here in this cabin.

SHERIFF JON LOPEY, SISKIYOU COUNTY: He did suspect that he would be safer here. It's a -- just about as far away as you can get from Memphis, Tennessee.

BARRY: I had a picture of this amber where I can see right now. And then like I was like, that's the guy.

SIDNER: Hair color different?

BARRY: Yeah. It was vague just the way he was going about it, you know, keeping her in the shadows.


COOPER: Sara Sidner joins me now. Did they find anything in the cabin?

SIDNER: They did. And I'm going to take you into the cabin. We have permission from the owner of the cabin. We found out some of the things they got, because they letter behind a search warrant and a few items here. You can see they were going to be cooking and they were ready to stay here for a bit. There was beding according to the search warrant. There was also KY jelly and coconut oil. Those things important because investigators are trying to prove that he intended to have sex with this 15-year-old girl. They also know that he filled two prescriptions for cialis an erectile dysfunction medication for men before he took -- kidnapped the girl from Tennessee taking her almost 2,000 miles here to this remote area in California.

If you look out the window, there Anderson, you can see it really is remote. We are in the mountains. There's just a mountain stream and a bunch of trees. And you're surrounded by high mountains here in Siskiyou County. They intended to be here, because this is a place where there's no cell phone, no electricity, nothing out here to help people communicate. Very easy to try to allude, evade police. But because of this gentleman, the caretaker here and a friend, these guys got caught.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, thanks very much.

SIDNER: Anderson.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Coming up, another hour of "360," including the last in our breaking news tonight. Sources telling CNN, the FBI gathered intelligence that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisors to infiltrate the Trump campaign. The latest of what we know next.