Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House Summons Senators for North Korea Briefing; Interview with Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois; Tax Proposes Big Tax Cuts, Few Ways to Pay for Them; Trump "Absolutely" Looking at Breaking Up 9th Circuit. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 26, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
A busy day at the White House. The administration announcing the president's tax plan. But what will it mean for you and who is going to pay for it? We've got breaking news on that.
And about the president's unusual statement that he is looking at options to break up the appeals court, where judges have blocked some of his executive actions.
But we begin tonight with an unusual meeting today at the White House, so unusual just about everyone who was either watching it or was a part of it couldn't remember it ever happening before. Senators went on a fleet of buses from the Capitol on a roughly two-mile ride to the White House. President Trump all but summoned them there for a briefing on the increasingly tense situation with North Korea.
Upon leaving, some said they thought it was a photo op for the White House. We're going to hear from Senator Tammy Duckworth who is in that meeting in just a moment to get her thoughts.
Whatever the exact intent, it comes at a tenuous time. Just today, North Korea conducted an artillery drill which was one North Korean official called the largest ever, designed to annihilate the U.S. imperialist's bases of aggression. Their terminology.
CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us with the latest.
So, what are you learning about this briefing at the White House?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was important at least to the White House's vow for optics that the senators all came over here to this building. I was told earlier today by a senior administration official that optics were indeed a central reason, not for domestic political reasons but to send the message abroad to North Korea and China and elsewhere that the U.S. government was speaking with one voice here, and the level of gravity of this meeting was heightened at least in the view of the White House by having it all over here. Now, I talked with some senators afterward including some Democrats
who were not nearly as skeptical of having the meeting here after it was over. They said that they learned new information, that they, you know, found it just sobering, in the words of one Senate Democrat.
But then, some Republicans said, look, we've seen all this before. John McCain, for example, you know, said he has been briefed time and time again. So, there's nothing new necessarily.
But it was designed to send a message, A, that the president is on top of this but, B, that the U.S. government is also at least potentially speaking with one voice here. It also gave senators a chance to see the president and briefly ask him about this.
He was at the top of this meeting for 10 minutes or so, we're not exactly sure if he revealed any information there about what his plans are going forward. But it was optics, but we're told not necessarily 100-day optics but more international optics, Anderson. I would say probably at the end of the day, it was some of both.
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks.
Just before air, I spoke with Senator Tammy Duckworth who was at the meeting.
COOPER: Senator Duckworth, what was your takeaway from the briefing? And to what extent was there any new information share with you and your colleagues that you didn't already know?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Anderson, I seriously felt like I could have gotten all that information by reading a newspaper. I did not see any new information coming out of that briefing at all. It felt more like a dog and pony show to me than anything else.
COOPER: You think -- I mean, why -- why do you think the White House would do that?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I don't know. Maybe it's -- I guess it has something to do with his 100 days in office. But it's quite remarkable that they bussed a hundred senators over there and then the very same team that brief us came back with us to the Capitol to brief the 400-plus members of Congress, in the House of Representatives back here at the Capitol. And I talked to some of my former colleagues in the House and they said there wasn't anything new in their briefing either.
COOPER: Was there a reason needed to be at the White House? I mean, is there not a room big enough at the Senate?
DUCKWORTH: Actually, it's the reverse, Anderson. There's actually not a room at the White House that's called a SCIF, it's a secured briefing room, that's big enough for 100 senators. We have that room here in the Senate, here in the Capitol complex. And they, in fact, had to do a special sweep of an auditorium over there in the old executive building in order to fit in the 100 senators. So, it's the reverse.
COOPER: When President Trump came over from the West Wing, did he talk about specific policy on North Korea or was it more broad?
DUCKWORTH: It was very broad. He just gave opening remarks. He said that he had developed a very good relationship with the president of China and he was hoping that that would make a difference with North Korea, and he also talked about, you know, just escalating in his rhetoric with North Korea.
COOPER: You know, when you mentioned the 100 days and that this -- getting you all over there might be part of that, how do you mean? That this is sort of an effort for them to look like they're doing something?
DUCKWORTH: That's what it feels like to me, Anderson. If they really wanted to get something done, they should come to us and talk about a new authorization for use of military force. They should come to us and talk about what their next steps are. But they didn't talk about any of that, about North Korea or any other military -- potential military action in this briefing.
COOPER: Essentially, you're saying this was a photo-op or basically just something else to put on a list of accomplishments on the first 100 days.
DUCKWORTH: Right. I guess they successfully accomplish putting 100 people on three busses and tying up traffic in Washington, D.C. to get us over there for a briefing.
[20:05:01] COOPER: Do you think this White House cares too much about optics?
DUCKWORTH: You know, I wish the White House would actually care more about getting stuff done instead of just coming out with rhetoric and tweets. Let's come up with some real policy decisions and some proposals that can actually move forward.
I've been speaking a long time about the need for real infrastructure investments. Let's talk about that. But I haven't seen any of that coming out of the White House.
COOPER: Senator Cruz says that North Korea is, in his opinion, the most dangerous spot on the planet right now. Do you agree with that?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I think it is one of the most dangerous spots on the planet right now. That is true.
I -- what I'm afraid of, Anderson, is that the White House is ratcheting up the rhetoric in a way that has no off-ramp. If you continue to ratchet this up, what happens when North Korea does something that, you know, they have tested a missile, are we then bound to attack them?
I'm just very concerned that the White House is ratcheting up rhetoric but has not come to the House or the Senate or the members of Congress with a real plan on what they want to do.
COOPER: How likely is it in your view that President Trump could determine military force is necessary?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I think that that's the one place where he seems like he's willing to initiate military action. My concern is that he's moving forward without any real plan and that anything that he does will be much more kneejerk.
Look, if North Korea does anything that will endanger Japan or South Korea, we have a treaty or alliance with those two nations and, of course, we will come to their aid. If they try to attack the United States, of course, we will come and defend our homeland.
But I didn't see anything in the briefing today that talked to any real specific plans that the White House had for what they're going to do to get North Korea to actually scale down their nuclear capabilities.
COOPER: Senator Duckworth, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
DUCKWORTH: My pleasure. Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up after a short break, more big news from the White House. The president's tax plan or outline might be a better word, what is in it and what a lot of people are pointing out is not in it. We are keeping them honest next.
And later, President Trump says he absolutely wants to break up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has looked into it. I'll speak with the reporter who did that interview and we'll talk about whether that's something the president can actually do, ahead.
[20:11:00] COOPER: Now to the president's tax plan which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin today called the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of this country. There's a lot we don't know about it.
Here's what we know: the tax proposal would cut the top tax rate for businesses to 15 percent. It would reduce the number of tax brackets for individuals, from seven to three. It would end the Alternative Minimum Tax and most tax breaks for individuals. It would do away with estate taxes which currently applies to estates worth more than about $5.5 million.
As for what we don't know, we don't know the income levels for the proposed brackets, we don't know what the tax plan would really mean for the average American family in dollars and cents, and we don't know much about how it would benefit the president and himself and his business empire because he has not released his tax returns, and has no intention to, a point reiterated by the secretary today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The president has no intention. The president has released plenty of information and I think has given more financial disclosure that anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You can decide for yourself if you have plenty of information. We don't know how the president's bottom line would be affected by this tax plan. And again, keeping them honest, we also don't know one big important thing, the actual price tag. There are a lot of cuts, very few details on how they will be paid for. It's basically one page of bullet points, about 250 words or so.
The theory as it was presented today on that page is that it is going to pay for itself by stimulating the economy. There will be new tax revenue, companies will hire more workers, et cetera. That's the idea. That's the theory.
All we know for sure, all we got today are the broad details and the cuts. So, without some real detail in how it will be paid for, there's real concern about the plan possibly exploding the deficit, which is interesting, considering what we heard from then-candidate Trump during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We owe $19 trillion as a country, and we're going to knock it down and we're going to bring it down big league and quickly.
I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to bring back our jobs, to get rid of deficits.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: Then again, the president also said this on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: I'm the king of debt. I'm great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me.
I'm the kind of debt. I understand debt better than probably anybody.
I know more about debt than practically anybody. I love debt.
And I am the king of debt. I do love debt. I love debt. I love playing with it.
I also love refusing debt and I know how to do it better than anybody.
Debt is tricky and it's dangerous, and you have to be careful and you have to know what you're doing.
I made a fortune by using debt. If things don't work out, I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that's a smart thing, not a stupid thing.
INTERVIEWER: How do you renegotiate debt?
TRUMP: You go back and you say, hey, guess what, the economy just crashed. I'm going to give you back half.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: Well, lots to talk about. Joining me now is Kristen Powers, Jeffrey Lord, Matt Lewis, and Alexis Glick.
Kirsten, I mean, a lot of big pronouncements from the White House on this. But, again, it really was one page bullet points, less than 250 words.
KRISTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think that's -- so we obviously need to wait for more details and Congress has to actually write this bill.
COOPER: Details, these are details, Kirsten.
POWERS: Stop with the details, Anderson.
No, but sort of the big picture stuff I think we can talk about, which is the idea that, you know, that basically the tax cuts will pay for themselves through economic growth, which is something that hasn't really been borne out that much.
Now, I know someone is going to bring up Ronald Reagan probably, but the truth is while the economy was stimulated, the deficit exploded. And eventually, taxes had to be raised by -- you know, Reagan did raise them in 1983, Bush 1 raised them and Bill Clinton raised them because of the deficit.
And so, you have to balance this out. You have to accept the fact that while the economy may be stimulated, you're still going to end up with a deficit.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, does this benefit the people who voted for Donald Trump? I mean --
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course, it does.
COOPER: It does?
LORD: I mean, the Reagan tax cut and I --
COOPER: It is estate taxes. It's LLCs, which -- I mean, I have an LLC. It doesn't mean, you know --
LORD: Good, good.
COOPER: It may be good for me but I'm not sure there's a lot of like coal workers.
LORD: But, Anderson, I want you and every American to prosper.
But I'm glad that Kirsten is here because it was the Reagan/Clinton combination in truth that brought down the deficit, that balanced the budget eventually, that caused about 20 years of economic growth.
[20:15:04] COOPER: Do you really believe these tax cuts will pay for themselves?
LORD: You have to have the cuts in spending to go with them, and therein was Ronald Reagan's political problem. The Democrats controlled both -- well, particularly the House. They controlled the House, they didn't control the Senate for the first six years but they controlled the House which controls the purse strings and they weren't going there. That was Tip O'Neill and they weren't going down that path. So, that was the problem.
When the House finally came under the control of Republicans with Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton was in the White House, that is exactly what happened. And we finally got there with balanced budgets.
POWERS: How did Reagan reduce the deficit?
LORD: By -- he doubled the federal revenues, right? I mean, from about $500 billion to --
POWERS: When he left the deficit --
LORD: Right, but he also ended the Cold War, right, so Bill Clinton could reduce defense spending, yes? Remember that?
POWERS: Yes, that just seems a stretch to me. I mean, I don't -- I mean, the idea that -- I mean, we have to accept the fact that his economic plan did lead to a huge deficit.
POWERS: And ultimately, taxes had had to be raised -- taxes had to be raised to pay for the deficits.
LORD: Because Democrats would not cut spending.
POWERS: I'm not -- I'm not even making this a Democrat versus Republican thing. I'm just talking about facts of -- that at some point taxes have to be raised, right?
COOPER: Alexis, is it possible this thing will pay for itself?
LORD: Alexis is laughing.
ALEXIS GLICK, FORMER WALL STREET EXECUTIVE: I am laughing because I don't want to get in the middle of that conversation. But, look, the way I would characterize this is in two critical, I
guess, factions. One is this is all about stimulant, OK? At the end of the day what they're focused on right now is how do we create jobs, how do we increase investment and how do we get spending going in the economy?
And right now, as we've witnessed since Election Day, the stock market -- I mean, if you look at the Dow and the S&P, they priced in a real pro-growth strategy that they have not yet been able to deliver. So, what you saw today particularly around corporate tax rates is how do we stimulate the economy, how do we create jobs?
And what they're talking about in terms of repatriating, which is bringing dollars that were overseas back into the United States, if you look at companies like Apple, like Microsoft, like Oracle, they've got hundreds of millions of dollars overseas.
If you bring a couple trillion dollars back into the United States, that can help create jobs. That can be can dividends that are in your retirement savings and other things.
The other quick thing I just would say, Anderson, the other part of this is simplification. That's what they talked about today. So, to me, it is about stimulus and simplification of the code so that we can actually not spend -- what was it, 700 billion hours or something ridiculous -- on filing your taxes.
GLICK: So, it is the first step in the right direction, but what I liked about what they said today is they were realists. We're not going to get it done by August. If we get it done by year-end, that's a victory, and they didn't lay it all out. They said, we're sitting down, we're negotiating, we met last night with senators in both sides, of the House and the Senate.
And so, to me, I like the way they laid out the plan today.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think that it is -- this is a very good start. I don't think that tax cuts pay for themselves, but I do think it will generate some revenue. I think that this could stimulate the economy, get -- put people back to work, which was one of Donald Trump's plans.
The potential problem they're going to have though is, you know, if the devil is in the details as you said, but in order to do this through reconciliation which they want to do, it has to be revenue neutral.
Now, you can try to score it dynamically and you can make the argument that using the Laffer Curve, that these taxes are going to pay for themselves. But they're going to have to find a way -- maybe it is the CBO score or some other way, but they're going to have to show it is revenue neutral. That's not going to be easy to do to get it through the Senate.
COOPER: How does giving an estate tax break to incredibly wealthy people -- at this point, it's for people who are giving more than $5 million in their estates -- how does that help somebody who is --
LORD: They get hired by people who have the money to hire them. Poor people don't hire poor people. People who have money hire poor people.
COOPER: So kids who get -- inherit huge amounts of money, they don't sit on the money and live off it?
LORD: First of all, there's a moral aspect to this. I mean, if you are a great-grandfather, builds up a farm and this gets passed down in the generation and then you find out you're going to lose the farm because of all of the taxes --
GLICK: Forty cents on the dollar, that's a lot of money.
LORD: I mean, that's just -- that's a lot -- thank you. That's a lot of bucks right there. I mean that's not fair.
But the basic thing is -- because we know at the other end what happens. All of this money goes into the federal government and basically it is divvied up by politicians who hand it out to their buds. It's like cronyism, if you will. That's bad.
POWERS: No, I think the estate tax actually does -- I don't know what his plan is, I mean if it would affect -- where the line is for him.
[20:20:03] But it currently definitely affects people who are not multi-millionaires.
POWERS: It does affect people who -- you know, I mean, I have a friend who, you know, inherited a family home and had - to sell it because she couldn't afford the taxes on it, for example.
POWERS: Those kind of things definitely happen. Look, our tax system is broken, there's no question. It needs to be looked at and fixed and there's good things in this plan. I do think looking at the corporate tax rate is something that should be looked at for all of the reasons Alexis talked about.
I just think the bigger picture also has to be considered about the deficit, which actually does matter. And so, you know, you're saying like they're going to have to make revenue neutral, deficit neutral, or they can just do what George Bush did and have it expire in ten years.
LEWIS: The problem with that is that if you know is something is going to expire, then you're not going to reinvest it into your business. You need to be able to count on tax cuts being permanent. POWERS: I think it is a bad idea to do that.
GLICK: Or the GDP is going to go to 3 percent from 2 percent ,which is what they're counting on.
COOPER: We got to take a break.
More breaking news ahead. President Trump upset about the temporary halt on the executive order on sanctuary cities, takes his anger on the Ninth Court of Appeals. He reportedly threatens to break it up.
I'll talk with the reporter who said that to -- he said that to in a moment, and also discuss the many legal questions with Jeffrey Toobin and Laura Coates.
[20:25:10] COOPER: President Trump is not happy with the ruling that temporarily halts his executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. This comes weeks after his executive order on travel ban were also blocked in federal courts.
With those legal fights on his mind, the president wrote on Twitter this morning, quote, "First, the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban, and now, it hits on sanctuary cities. Both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court."
Tuesday's ruling was from a district court judge, but the Ninth Circuit could review on appeal. President Trump did not stop with his outrage over the Ninth Circuit.
Sarah Westwood is a correspondent for "The Washington Examiner". She spoke with the president today, joins us now.
Sarah, so, what did President Trump tell you about the future of the Ninth Circuit?
SARAH WESTWOOD, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, President Trump said that he would consider proposals that are now in Congress to break up the Ninth Circuit Court. There are Republicans who on have been trying to achieve this legislatively for years now. It is not a new idea. It is why I asked about it.
There are Republicans who want to carve out a 12th Circuit from states that are currently under the appellate jurisdiction of the Ninth. This is -- what Trump called it was judge shopping, right? He said that the concentration of liberal-leaning judges on the Ninth Circuit creates an incentive for politically motivated litigants to seek out the circuit where they're most likely to get partisan outcomes.
So, that's probably where Trump is coming from when he says that he wants to address maybe the overreach of the Ninth Circuit, how he views it. COOPER: Was it something this is going to be something he will make a
priority? I mean, this was based on question you asked particularly about breaking up the Ninth Circuit? Because sometimes he will say, oh, yes, I'm looking into it or did he bring it up on his own?
WESTWOOD: He's actually mentioned the plan to break up the Ninth Circuit previously.
WESTWOOD: He mentioned that he had heard that this is an idea that Republicans have been bandying around for a long time. And, obviously, the administration has been really frustrated with how judges on the West Coast have treated their executive orders.
WESTWOOD: It is not new that they have seen a lot of their signature policies halted by those judges. So, it is not surprising that President Trump would back a preexisting Republican plan to break up the Ninth Circuit. It is supported by Republicans like John McCain, like Jeff Flake and Dan Sullivan in the Senate.
COOPER: Let me ask overall when you were in the Oval Office with the president, his first 100 das obviously are close to wrapping up. Did he seem pleased with how things are going? Was he -- you know, how did he seem?
WESTWOOD: You know, I asked him to give himself a grade, and he did give himself an "A." He is proud of what his administration has managed to accomplish. A lot of that has been done through executive order, but he stressed that he did get to sign several pieces of legislation.
He said that by Saturday, he expects he will have signed 32 bills, and it seems like where a lot of that is coming from is the Republican's use of the Congressional Review Act to undo Obama era regulations. They pushed through a bunch of bills in first 100 days to do that.
But once the Congressional Review Act window closes they won't be able to use that tool anymore after Friday and the pace of legislation will likely slow a bit.
COOPER: Yes. Sarah Westwood, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
WESTWOOD: Thank you.
COOPER: I want to discuss this now with our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and Laura Coates.
Jeff, the fact president may be looking at proposals to break up the ninth circuit, is that something he can do?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he can't do it, Congress has to do it. But this is not something that's new. There have been proposals by mostly conservative senators for decades
to try to break up the Ninth Circuit, and, you know, break what is regarded as a liberal bastion in the court of appeals. But it is clear that that can only be done by Congress.
Congress added an 11th Circuit. They split up the Fifth in 1981. So, you know, this is not wildly unprecedented. It is just something that Congress hasn't thought necessary to do.
COOPER: Right. I mean, Laura, the president seems to be implying certainly that people go to the Ninth Circuit because they know it will rule in their favor.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, his argument is it is basically forum shopping. But in order to change and break up the circuit, it would have to be based on bureaucrat backlog or efficiency, not about ideological differences with the president of the United States.
Remember, this court has nine different states that it oversees. It is 18 of the 25 active judges are actually appointed by Democrats, which obviously is going to perhaps infuriate a Republican president. However, it's not the basis to actually break it up if it is based on ideology as opposed to administration of justice.
COOPER: Laura, is there a difference you think for the president criticizing a judge's decision and criticizing the judge himself? Because other presidents have certainly called out decisions they disagreed with. President Obama did it during a State of the Union Address, criticizing Citizens United.
COATES: Certainly. It is about blaming the message versus the messenger. And effectively, what Trump is doing is saying the messenger is the problem.
COOPER: But, Jeff, why shouldn't somebody be able to criticize a judge?
TOOBIN: I find it amazing that everyone is getting the vapers over Donald Trump criticizing these judges. You know, these judges are powerful people. They serve for life. They are completely unaccountable. Why shouldn't they be criticized? I mean I criticized them. I don't see why Donald Trump can't criticize them.
You know, the one thing he has not done is suggested that he won't comply, like the way Pres. Andrew Jackson did. But, you know, these people are important, they're big boys and girls, they can take some criticism. I don't see anything wrong with Donald Trump criticizing both the message and the messenger.
COATES: Well, I do, and I think a lot of people have that same perception, when he criticizes them based on his perception of what their their nationality might be. I know you agree with that two things. Terms that when he complained about the judge who may oversee one of his Trump University cases, --
COOPER: Judge Curiel --
COATES: -- Judge Curiel, I mean certainly we're just talking about the criticism of the messenger himself. My point is that when you criticize a judge based on non legal grounds, or grounds that have nothing to do with their actual mission and job judiciary. I think it is offensive.
TOOBIN: Candidate Trump's racist attack on Judge Curiel was beyond the pale. But, you know, he demoralizing? Are these people so sensitive that they can't take some criticism?
COOPER: You know, what's interesting though about this. This part of the judge's ruling on the same (inaudible) case was based on things president and his administration officials have said about sanctuary cities and we've sort of seeing judges doing this before certainly on the immigration, the case on the ban from seven countries, the temporary ban. I want to play the quotes that the judge himself cited on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't want to defund anybody, I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or state. If they're going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: The Department of Justice would also take all lawful steps to claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates 1373.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And the president is going to do everything he can within the scope of the executive order to make sure that cities who don't comply with it, counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cities don't get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is this appropriate, Jeff, for this judge to use things the president and his advisor have said publicly against him?
TOOBIN: I do. Especially, you know, since this is part of what was going on. But remember, this is an old controversy.
And there's a famous Supreme case where the court said it's OK for Congress to say if you want federal highway money you have to raise the drinking age to 21, Congress could pass a law about sanctuary cities that would be permissible. The problem here was that Trump did it without congressional authorization.
COOPER: We got to leave it there. Jeffrey Tobin, Laura Coates, thank you.
TOOBIN: Thank you.
COATES: Thank you. COOPER: Up next, tonight there's breaking news from Capitol Hill on the House Intelligence Committee's investigation on Russia and the Trump team. Sources say some key decisions were made today by committee members on who they want to speak with, including one big name in the White House, I talked with Congressman Eric Swalwella, a committee member, our conversation in a moment.
Now, a sneak peek at the new episode of sound tracks, songs that define history that airs tomorrow night here on CNN.
[20:38:16] COOPER: There's breaking news in our Russian-White House watch, sources say the top leaders of the House Intelligence Committee investigation on Russia have agreed on a witness list including some big names that that ties to Pres. Trump who could testify in two to three weeks. One source tells us that includes Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone, and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Committee members have also have been to spend more time in Washington as the investigation moves into a more labor intensive phase
Also with the Committee's Republican Chairman Devin Nunes recusing himself in the investigation, intelligence agencies are back sharing documents with the committee, there's no word on whether Nunes' his ties to the White House (inaudible) that freeze out. Congressman Eric Swalwella is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. I spoke to him earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman there's report that the list of witnesses for your investigation includes Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Jared Kushner, are you able to confirm that that is the fact in this case?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Anderson, I can tell you the witnesses are relevant ones and the documents that we are reviewing have expanded since Mike Conaway has come on to lead this investigation for the Republican side. So, we are back on track. And I think that's a good thing.
COOPER: Based on our reporting, a witness list is, "extensive," can you give us a better idea of exactly that means? Are we talking 10 people, 20 people?
SWALWELL: I can tell you, Anderson, it's going to be a long summer here in Washington, so even during recess weeks, I think members of the Intelligence Committee are expect to be here interviewing witnesses, getting to the bottom of this and doing everything we can to make sure we never mess like this again.
COOPER: You'd expect these hearing to be open? And to you, how important is it that they are?
SWALWELL: To me it's very important that if we are not conveying to a witness classified information or we are not receiving classified information, I think it should be open. Now some witnesses will have classified information and that can be done in secret, but I think the American people benefited when Dir. Comey and Dir. Rogers came forward, and I think, you know, the more we can do that, the more trust we can engender with the American people.
[20:40:08] COOPER: The notion that Chairman Nunes has recuse will actually spurred (ph) intelligence agency to agree to share documents with your committee, that they were reticent to that do so (inaudible) was still committee chair, is that your understanding or what happened here?
SWALWELL: My experience over the past few years has been that intelligence agencies have expected and just through the custom have seen the Intelligence Committee work together in a bipartisan fashion so this was unusual to see the chairman, you know, do what he did. And so, I think for us to be back on track with a new leader of the investigation, I think it's probably restored the faith among all and, again, we just want to get back to work and I can say right now that that's the case.
COOPER: How difficult does it make things for your community that there are currently four separate Congressional investigations into Russia interference asking, I presume, for a lot of the same witnesses requesting a lot of the same documents? Does it complicate?
SWALWELL: No question there are a lot of redundancies, I think that this would have been better handled if we had a joint Senate-house investigation, but that was a decision that Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan made to have them separately. But, you know, we'll go on. I still think, Anderson, that the most comprehensive way to get to the bottom of this, to take politics out and to debunk a lot of the myths out there is to have an independent commission and I'm pursuing a separate track to try and make that happen with the bill that Elijah Cummings and I have.
COOPER: You know, we all saw the drama obviously with Nunes and kind of the trips to the White House, do you believe your committee's investigation is back on track?
SWALWELL: Yes, and I also have a lot of faith in Mike Conaway from Texas, I, you know, take him at his word and have, you know, seen him at work and I think he just wants to follow the evidence. And, you know, we all have an interest in finding out what happened, you know, getting to the bottom as to whether any U.S. persons were involved, that's, you know, something very important to both sides. And then making recommendations so that no country, Russia or otherwise is able to pull this off again.
COOPER: You know, when we saw the first open hearing that you all had, there was sort of a tale of two committees really was Republicans asking questions about leaks and Democrats asking about Russia, do you still see that sort of division?
SWALWELL: Well, we have a response to just, you know, follow the evidence. And so, the Democratic side, we wanted to point out the deep personal, political and financial ties between Donald Trump and his team with Russia at the time that Russia was interfering in our investigation. That's what we thought was the most relevant. And I hope the Republicans understand that we too want to, you know, pursue anyone that violated the law if there were leaked violations. But that is not as important as our sovereignty being violated an us doing nothing about it.
COOPER: And Michael Flynn in terms of getting him to testify is an offer of immunity, is that a possibility?
SWALWELL: I'm not familiar with one and unless he were to proffer to us why we should do that, in other words what he could offer that we could not otherwise obtain, I don't think that would be a good idea.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, appreciate your time, thanks.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just ahead tonight, retired coal miners who were promised health care benefit for life are now just days away from actually losing coverage.
Tonight they're waiting to see if Pres. Trump who they helped elect will have that back.
[20:47:03] COOPER: A loyal group of Donald Trump supporters a crucial deadline is looming this weekend on the campaign trail. Candidate Trump promised repeatedly to help coal miners back to bring back their jobs. It said it's often became almost a mantra.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will pursue energy independence and cancel the job killing restrictions on the production of shale energy, oil, natural gas and clean coal and we're going to put the miners of Ohio back to work.
We're going to put our miners back to work.
We will also put our miners back to work.
Our miners are going back to work, folks.
We will put our miners back to work.
We are going to put our miners back to work. Get those shovels ready.
For those miners, get ready because you're going to be working your asses off, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, tonight, three months since the Trump presidency more than 20,000 retired coal miners are on edge with their health benefits set to expire just days from now. And the miners have kept their end of the deal made decades ago, now they say they need Pres. Trump to go to bat for them just like he vowed. Randi Kaye tonight has their story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A promise made, a promise broken so far.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Broken because now retired miners are just days away from losing their health care benefits and Pres. Trump who promised to take care of them has remained silent on the issue.
Donald Trump has said that he would work to protect the miners. Do you feel as though the president has your back?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
KAYE: Retired miners like Joe Reynolds and the others say they agreed to work in these mines partly because they were told they get health care for life, but those government funded benefit run out at the end of this month for 22,000 retired miners unless Congress acts.
One option, the Miners Protection Act, would secure lifelong health benefits and pension. Last year Congress voted to extend health benefits only for four months.
Back in 1946, miners a deal with the federal government. It's also called the promise. Miners agreed to work in the mines at least 20 years and in exchange, the federal government promised to provide pension and health care benefits to the miners and their families for live.
GLENN COLEMAN, RETIRED MINER: From the cradle to the grave is what the phrase was that they promised for our health care and our pension benefits.
KAYE: The fund for health benefits dried up over the years as coal mining companies filed for bankruptcy and stopped paying into it.
MARK PAYNE, RETIRED MINER: That's what we need as mine workers is a permanent fix, and now needed now we're at the short end of the fuse, time is running out. Donald, if you're listening, I believe you were being sincere when you made a statement that you were for the miners. So let's get something done.
KAYE: We shared the miner's complaints with the White House which told us the administration is actively working with Congress to address this matter. Adding, it is the subject of sensitive ongoing negotiations.
[20:50:10] How much will you have to struggle if you lose your benefits? PAYNE: I have health issues. In fact, I've got Crohn's disease and other maintenance things that I need. And my drug cost would be more than what I bring in a month now. If I lose my health benefits, I'm hurt. I'm one hospital stay away from -- if I have no insurance, from losing a home or wondering where my next meal is coming from or worried about my loved ones, how I'm going to take care of them, you know. And I feel like I have worked hard for this. They promised me this.
KAYE: All of these miners have health issues. And to a person say they can't afford private insurance if their benefits dry up.
Some miners have said, you know, this feels like a slap in the face, that they're not being taken care of. Do you agree?
JOE REYNOLDS, RETIRED MINER: Absolutely. It's worst than slapping a face, it may -- is absolutely sticking a dagger.
KAYE: Still, critics argue if Congress bails out coal miners, then Congress will have to bail out everyone else facing the loss of benefits like truckers. So be it says this group.
COLEMAN: That promise was in the contract that was made that we were supplying the coal that powered this country. And fuelled this country and through wars and everything else that a lot of us served in.
KAYE: A promise for life that's turned into a lot less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The money for these benefits would come from a fund that's already been established to clean up abandoned mines. But I should point out, Anderson, that there is a competing bill on the floor. Although, that does not shore up life long pension benefits only the health benefits. And of course, we know the miners want both. But it's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out in Washington, because Joe Manchin the senator from here in West Virginia is a Democrat. And he has been pushing for years now to get this fixed for the miners. He wants them to have the life long health benefits and life long pension benefits. He has a pretty good relationship with the president who has remained silent on this issue.
So, we're going to be watching that whole drama and see how it all plays out in Washington. The clock, of course, is ticking, Anderson. And it's coming down to the wire for these miners. Back to you.
COOPER: We'll continue to follow it. Randi, thanks.
Just ahead, the trump presidency barreling toward day 100, just three days ago promises a one thing, political reality in other. Score card coming up.
[20:56:15] COOPER: As we pointed out at the top of tonight's program, day 97 of the Trump presidency brought (inaudible) of activity at the White House from the tax plan blueprint, the administration unveiled, proposing big cuts and rate but short on details to an executive order to curve federal control of education to the federal, a friendly bus trip that brought nearly the entire Senate to the White House for a briefing on north Korea.
Here Sen. Tammy Duckworth say that the bus trip might have been all about the 100 day mark suggesting was an effort by the White House to try and make it look like they're doing things, like they're super busy, which could make sense considering the premium then candidate Trump himself put on the 100 day mark back in October.
His campaign released Donald Trump's contract with the American voter, a 100 day action plan to make America great again. Back then, Mr. Trump seemed to embrace the idea of 100 day deadline. Lately, though, as you probably know he's called it a ridiculous standard saying, like it or not the mile marker is three days away, let me just read that for you. "No matter how much I accomplished during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including S.C., media will kill."
Like it or not, the mile marker is three days away. Tom Foreman tonight reports on where things stand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Almost 100 days of promises colliding with political reality started with a staggering loss.
TRUMP: On my first day, I'm going to ask Congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace --
Repeal and replace --
Repeal and replace that horror show called Obamacare.
FOREMAN: That pledge brought sure fire applause on the campaign but calamity in office. The president's party even with control of Congress found itself bitterly divided. Some saying his plan went too far, some not far enough. His first attempt at major legislation was yanked without a vote.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us.
FOREMAN: Despite continued talk about a pledge to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it --
TRUMP: The wall gets built 100 percent.
FOREMAN: There's no concrete progress on that either. True, this president has signed more legislation than any of the previous five presidents in the same period, much of it erasing Obama era regulations. But none of it produced the broad public impact typical of major laws. For that, he has turned to executive actions, signing more than any other president in the first 100 days since Harry Truman. Quickly wiping out the trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
TRUMP: We just officially terminated TPP.
FOREMAN: But his most incendiary idea, banning travel from several majority Muslim nations, has stalled in the courts over the administration's protests.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States is a vital measure for strengthening our National Security.
FOREMAN: The legal branch of government is where Pres. Trump has scored by far his biggest victory.
TRUMP: We have to replace Judge Scalia with a conservative great judge.
NEIL GORSUCH, JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT: I Neil Gorsuch --
FOREMAN: Despite overwhelming Democratic opposition, Neil Gorsuch was approved and seated on the Supreme Court.
TRUMP: And I got it done in the first 100 days. That's even nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: This president has undeniably tried to move forward at a break neck pace. And perhaps many of his promised will yet come to pass. But faced with the string of protests and a plummeting approval rating, his first 100 days, as he himself has hinted, have turned out to be much more complicated than expected, Anderson.
COOPER: It's really have Tom Foreman. Tom, thanks very much. That does it for us. That's all the time we have. Thanks for watching 360.
Time for the special edition of "The Lead" with Jake Tapper. The first 100 days.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks Anderson. Ninety-seven days in and a brand -new poll shows that Pres. Trump has reached a modern record, though it's probably not what he wants. "The Lead" starts right now.