Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

House to Vote Tomorrow on Health Care Bill; FBI Chief: Still Believe I Made the Right Choice on Clinton Letter; Border Wall Pledge And Reality. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We are live from Washington tonight, and we begin with breaking news. A vote has been scheduled on the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The House will vote on the bill tomorrow.

Phil Mattingly joins us now with the latest.

Phil, how did we get here?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's almost a remarkable turnaround, Anderson, if you think just 24 hours ago, Republican leaders, the White House have really kind of run into a brick wall on the progress they had been making towards this, we'll call it third iteration of their efforts to repeal and replace.

What changed? An $8 billion amendment sending $8 billion into the $130 billion that already existed in this bill. That $8 billion is designed to try to assuage the very real concerns that we've heard repeatedly from the Republican members about how this bill, how these new changes would address the existing pre-existing condition protections inside Obamacare.

Now, did that do the trick? Well, this is what the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We are going to pass it. We are going to pass it. Let's be optimistic about life.

In fact, today, did you all read the story of the health care pulling out of Iowa? Where you have 94 counties out of 99 that do not have health care? That's why we have to make sure this passes to save those people from Obamacare that continues to collapse, where they don't even have health care.

REPORTER: Do you have 216 votes to --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: We will pass this bill. (CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Do you feel great about the count, sir?

MCCARTHY: I feel great about the counting (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Optimistic about life. That is the leader from -- the majority leader right no. Look, over the course of this day, Anderson, there's been a full-on, full-court press. The vice president has been up there. President Trump has been working the phones. And leaders have been grabbing members individually one by one by one.

I am told right now that they are right on the edge, and I think that raises real questions about whether or not they are actually there, and as we know, they are close enough to feel that they can have the House floor vote. House Republican leaders, Anderson, have made it clear they aren't going to put anything on the floor that they don't know will pass, and they will get a real test on that tomorrow.

COOPER: So, what happens next? I mean, what time would this be voted on?

MATTINGLY: It's likely to be early tomorrow. And, look, it's interesting, you think back just a couple of weeks ago when we went through this process the first time around, they actually had a lengthy floor debate on the bill they had to the eventually pull from the floor.

So, that time has been counted which means they can move quickly. They are already starting the House Rules Committee meeting tonight to set this all up. They will have a meeting of the entire Republican Conference behind closed doors tomorrow morning, and then they're going to move on this.

Remember, Anderson, House Republicans are going, actually the entire House, is going on recess tomorrow afternoon. They want to get this done quickly. They feel like they are close enough right now to have this vote. They don't want this to linger out there. So, expect this to move early, expect it to move quickly, and if the House GOP leaders and the White House have their way, expect this to be sent over to the U.S. Senate before early tomorrow afternoon.

COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

And so, just before we went on air, the fate of the House GOP healthcare bill still seemed very much in flux. At today's briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if it is a now-or- never moment for the bill, this was his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't want to put it there. I mean, the president has made it clear before that he is not trying to set a date certain. Obviously, that's up to the speaker, and the House leadership to determine when that time is appropriate. But as you have seen, we continue to move closer and closer to that time. And the number of members who are supporting it continues to grow further and further, and I think that's very promising sign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And now, hours later, Republican leaders say they are ready to hold the vote. Jim Acosta is at the White House and joins us now.

Jim, we just heard from Phil, Congressman McCarthy saying they have the votes. You're hearing something different, though, from sources. What can you tell us?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, slightly different, Anderson. Over here at the White House, they are optimistic about tomorrow. One official I spoke to just a few moments ago said they are feeling good and another official described this as positive development.

But I talked to a key GOP source who has been close to this process all along who said in these words, "We are saying we are having a vote, we are not saying that we have the votes." So, that is a key Republican source close to this process saying there are no guarantees at this point that this is going to pass tomorrow, but at the same time, they do feel like they have crossed a bit of a milestone here in getting some of these nervous Republicans comfortable with the language when it comes to pre-existing conditions in this bill, something we pressed the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about earlier today.

Under Obamacare, as you know, Anderson, people with pre-existing conditions are covered. Under Trumpcare, it's a bit more complicated. States can go for waivers and exempt themselves for those protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Here's what Sean Spicer had to say when we pressed him on this earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Why change the pre-existing conditions --

SPICER: We're not -- no, no, we are strengthening. I think -- look, we have done everything to do to not only strengthen but to guarantee --

ACOSTA: Strengthening it --

SPICER: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: -- but the governor can say, you know, here is my waiver and no more preexisting condition.

SPICER: Sure we can. Jim, I want to -- but I think the fundamental point that seems to be getting lost is that if you Obamacare right now, in case after case, you are losing it. [20:05:03] So, if you have a pre-existing condition and you have a

card that says Obamacare, but no one will see you or you can't afford it, then you don't have coverage.

ACOSTA: Why not fix that?

SPICER: We are. We are guaranteeing but I don't know how much -- we have literally --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: -- going to have be altered? Why not just keep that protection --

SPICER: The president has made it very clear that pre-existing conditions are covered in the bill under every scenario. I don't know how much clearer we can state it.

ACOSTA: So, anybody who has a preexisting condition under Trumpcare, they're going to be fine?

SPICER: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So, you heard it right there, Anderson, the White House basically guaranteeing that in the future, if this passes and becomes the law of the land, people have pre-existing conditions, they will, quote, "be fine." So, mark that piece of video for later use.

But at the same time, Anderson, Democrats are starting to sense that this could become a problem for Republicans if they get this through to the House and it is a lengthy process getting it through the Senate. That means the summer recess is coming and lots of rowdy town halls potentially facing those lawmakers when they are going back to the districts, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks for that.

Lot's to discuss with the panel: David Gregory, Abby Phillip, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, Jason Miller, Jen Psaki, and Kirsten Powers.

Dana, would the Republicans be bringing this to a vote if they didn't have the votes?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They would not bring it to the vote unless they felt that they would get there. But going into the meeting today that they had where they emerged and said that they were going to take a vote, they felt that certainly this big meeting at the White House today where the president -- look, give him credit -- sat down and turned things around and helped -- obviously, he didn't come up with the legislative text to do this, but he sat down with Fred Upton and Billy Long, two lawmakers who are, you know, good conservatives, who are really worried about people in their states and not having the coverage, and the money to pay for coverage. Those who have pre-existing conditions, and the president said no more negotiating and then he heard them out, and said, OK, can I get you the yes? Yes. And it happened.

Whether or not that will end up with approval tomorrow, we'll see, but as I was saying going into the meeting tonight, I was told that there were a handful at least of Republicans who were saying to the leadership, look, we don't want to vote yes, but if you are really needing us, we will. So, that's why they feel comfortable.

COOPER: Abby, how much could change between now and tomorrow?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, quite a bit can change, but they are getting this close. It becomes much more politically difficult for one or two or three people to hold up this vote. Once they are this close, it is much easier to get them over the finish line.

And two things happened today that are going to be help to clarify the political situation that the Republicans faced going into next year. You had two insurers pull out in states in Iowa and in Virginia, making it pretty clear that the climate of uncertainty right now is huge problem. And that the governing party would ultimately be blamed for doing nothing.

COOPER: Gloria, I understand you heard from Priebus?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Right. I reached tout the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who told me tonight that he's optimistic about this, that the president worked very hard as Dana was pointing out.

And, obviously, you don't bring up a vote unless you think you're going to win it, because they have been embarrassed a couple of times before, and a lot hangs on this for the president. His entire legislative agenda going forward, you could argue. He needs a win, he would like a win, this is really important to Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House.

So, you know, they know the stakes here. And they know the difficulties here, because they are asking people to vote on something without actually getting an estimate of how much it costs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None.

BORGER: Which is unheard of. There is no legislative text. They're just saying, you know, be with us. So, this is really a test.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Or what the real impact is going to be.

BORGER: Right. I don't know if they are using the carrots or the sticks or both, and I'm not sure what they are doing, and they don't -- we don't know the impact, but this president needs a win, and they are doing everything they can to get it.

COOPER: They're talking about $8 billion over five years for people with -- for coverage of people with pre-existing condition. Jen, do you think that's enough? JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a drop in the bucket, and

there are over 100 million people who have pre-existing condition. So, I think that problem is, when you do the simple math of it, it's probably about 0.1 percent of people who have preexisting conditions who would be helped. $8 billion sounds like a lot, but it is a shiny ball that people are using as an excuse.

What's interesting here is they are making the political argument to get enough votes, that may work, and Republicans frankly are better at doing that than Democrats are, but there are Democrats who are going to run against the Republicans, and they are licking their chops for seeing who is going to vote for this bill, because they are going to start running against them on this, starting this recess.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Jason, the stakes could not be higher for Republicans and also for this president?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, absolutely, and I think this is one of the big differences with where the bill is and why they're going to get it across the finish line tomorrow. It's really because of the president and also the work that Vice President Pence has put into this. The vice president was up on the Capitol Hill today and I heard he was very impressive, and some arm-twisting to go and get some folks over the finish line.

[20:10:02] But here's the reality -- Republicans have to act on this, not only as Abby mentioned the number of health care providers pulling out, but by next month, all of the carriers around the country have to announce that they're going to be staying in or not staying in. And keep in mind then in October, we're going to find out what the premium increases are going to look like. So, Obamacare in the current construct is collapsing on itself, and they are exactly right, that they have to take action on this.

GREGORY: Can I just say? I think that's an assertion that's made that is debatable, to what extent it maybe collapsing. There's a lot of problems, but as I go around the country and I talked to people who are in the health care business in the various streams, there are successes and there are failures.

This is something that's interesting to me, Anderson -- over the weekend the president got into trouble saying, oh, no, pre-existing condition, it's going to be in there. Well, it actually wasn't in there. But it exposed something. This is a very conservative approach to how government ought to interfere in the health care system.

The Obamacare approach was big government, big entitlement. This is a more conservative approach. Our president is more moderate and pragmatic on this issue. And I'm not sure that in the end, he is going to be happy with the more conservative ideological approach on health care if it proves to be inadequate with regard to preexisting condition.

BASH: I think he is going to be happy with a "W."

GREGORY: Well, no doubt about that, no doubt.

COOPER: We've got to take a break. We're going to continue this discussion right after the break.

Also later, the White House loves its picture of the border walls, for the second day in the row, pointing to pictures and saying it's a win for President Trump. We went to find the wall that they've been point to. Keeping them honest, it actually has nothing to do with President Trump, but we'll explain that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey, welcome back. We're live from Washington tonight.

Again, the breaking news, House leaders said they have enough support to pass the latest version of the GOP health care bill and will hold a vote tomorrow.

[20:15:00] They have been scrambling with the big assist from the White House to lock down the 216 votes they need.

Here again is what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCARTHY: We are going to pass it. We are going to pass it. Let's be optimistic about life.

In fact, today, did you all read the story of the health care pulling out of Iowa? Where you have 94 counties out of 99 that do not have health care? That's why we have to make sure this passes to save those people from Obamacare that continues to collapse, where they don't even have health care.

REPORTER: Do you have 216 votes to --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: We will pass this bill.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Do you feel great about the count, sir?

MCCARTHY: I feel great about the counting (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel.

Kristen, I mean, what about the White House's push back that, you know, you heard Kevin McCarthy? I think Aetna now is pulling out of exchanges in Virginia as well.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there's no question. This is a very serious issue. It's one of the most complex systems in our country, and they are trying to come up with something in the matter of really a month or so? The Obama administration spent 14 month, held scores of hearings, multiple CBO scores, and the Republicans still said that it was crammed down the throats of the American people, that it was moving too fast.

I think we have to step back to find out how fast they are moving with this and what is actually in this bill. You take the $8 billion -- Jen was talking about it won't even begin to cover pre-existing conditions, where did that number come from? I mean, nobody seems to know. It expires after five years, what happens after five years?

I mean, you know, there are a lot of serious questions about this bill that I don't think we really know the answers to, and to leave it to the states to decide on the essential benefits, and there things like mental health coverage that people could end up losing, the $8 billion also incentivizes the states to then who weren't going to set up high risk pools to decide to set up high risk pools so that they can then get money.

I mean, there's all sorts of very seriously problematic things with this bill, and I think -- there is some reporting done today where the people have come to talk to the members of the Congress questions about the bill, and they don't know anything. They don't know what's in the bill

BORGER: So, and the conservative think tanks have estimated how much you need for these high risk pools, and the estimates were between $15 to $20 billion, not $8 billion. If you want to cost it out over a number of years, and will it -- will it remain?

COOPER: We should also explain though that -- I mean, this is obviously, this is just the first step.

BORGER: Exactly.

COOPER: So, just for viewers, just to explain, I mean, obviously, this then goes to the Senate.

BASH: Exactly. Look, they just -- they in the House, the Republicans and at the White House, they just want to break the logjam somehow. And the first step is getting it through the House.

You are totally right, it would be shocking if there were answers from most of these members who are going vote yes as to whether they know what this is going to do, first and foremost, because we don't have the bill or the score. You are totally right.

But I think that's policy, which matters, but they are also thinking politically as you know, which is to get this done, get it over to the Senate where the $8 billion is going to be like in the rear view mirror of remembering --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: They're also going to need the Democratic support in the Senate, won't they?

BASH: No, I don't think so.

COOPER: You don't think they won't need any?

BASH: Right now, the Democrats are lock step in saying that they will not even come close to voting for anything that repeals Obamacare, even if it's replacing it, but --

GREGORY: And that's what the Republicans did. And one of the big dangers, one of the biggest mistakes of Obamacare was passing it on the party line vote and not getting the real buy-in when it came to the implementation and the ownership around the country. There was an unknown about Obamacare in terms of implementation. Here, they are even moving more precipitously, you were really not going to know, even if it becomes law, what the impact is on the system for years.

BORGER: But they can't get a party vote, you know? They can't even get support within the Republican Party, much less the Democrats, and that's their problem now.

And by the way, it could be even more of a problem I think in the Senate, particularly when people are focusing on the Medicaid expansion part of this, which, you know, you are going to roll back that expansion, you want to talk about loss of coverage that people are going to begin to feel in their states or think about when there's a little bit more time to think about it.

BASH: It is a different ball game in the Senate. They know that. The White House and the House, they just want to get this moving. I mean, I talked to a source at the White House yesterday who said that expectation is that it will take a long time for things to settle for them to digest, and I'm not saying totally start over, but I think you're going to see something that looks much like what you saw --

COOPER: And challenging that it has been for the White House and the House, and the Senate, it's going to be --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Oh my God, this is like kid's stuff compared to --

GREGORY: But the president broke the logjam, he got it moving. I mean, you've got to give him his due. He got into this process and forced it in a way that I don't know that how leadership could do.

COOPER: Yes.

We're going to take a quick break.

Coming up, the other big story here in Washington tonight. The head the FBI testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today about his decision to reveal that the bureau was going through more e-mails in the Clinton investigation 11 days before the election. What he said about where he regrets that, and why he never talks about the investigation to the Trump campaign, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:23:52] COOPER: Welcome back.

Tomorrow's scheduled house vote on the health care vote is big news from here in Washington tonight. The other big story, of course, today is the FBI Director James Comey's digestive system, testifying at a Senate hearing -- we'll explain -- testifying in a Senate hearing today. Comey said the idea that he affected the presidential election made him, quote, "mildly nauseous." Still, he said he thinks he made the right decision in revealing 11 days before the election that the FBI was reviewing more of Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

Pamela Brown joins us now with the latest -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, during this animated hearing today, FBI Director James Comey clearly wanted to get a lot off of his chest over how he handled the two high profile probes involving Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign during the election. And he said that if he had the to do it all over again, he would make the exact same decisions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, the FBI Director James Comey in the hot seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee telling lawmakers he has no regret about his letter to Congress, announcing during the election that the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe was reopened, even if it affected the election.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.

[20:25:02] But, honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28th with me and stare at this, and tell me what you would do? Would you speak or would you conceal?

And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight, and this is one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that on October 28th from the Congress.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Was there any conflict among your staff, people saying, do it, people saying, don't do it, as has been reported?

COMEY: No. It was a great debate. I have a fabulous staff at all levels and one of my junior lawyers said, "Should you consider that what you are about to do is may help elect Donald Trump president," and I said, "Thank you for raising that. Not for a moment," because down that path lies the death of the FBI's independent institution in America.

I can't consider for a second whose political fortunes will be affected in what way. We have to ask ourselves what is the right thing to do and then do that thing.

BROWN: And Comey made the stunning admission that he lacked confidence in the Justice Department's leadership after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac, which paved the way for his unprecedented press conference last July announcing he wasn't recommending charges.

COMEY: The department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people's confidence in the justice system. That was a hard call for me to make, to call the attorney general that morning and say, "I'm about to do a press conference and I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to say." And I said to her, "I hope some day you will understand why I think I have to do this."

Look, I wasn't loving this. I knew this would be disastrous for me personally, but I thought this is the best way to protect these institutions that we care so much about.

BROWN: Democrats fired back, asking him why he didn't also publicly acknowledge the ongoing probe into Russian connections with Trump campaign associates before the election.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Had there been public notice that there was renewed investigation into both campaigns, I think the impact would have been different. Would you agree?

COMEY: No. I thought a lot about this and my judgment was, in counterintelligence -- we have to separate two things. I thought it was very important to call out what the Russians were trying to do with the election, and I offered in August myself to be a voice for that in a public piece calling it out, the Obama administration didn't take advantage of that in August, they did in October. But I thought that was very important to call out.

BROWN: And revelations about exactly how disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner ended up with thousands of Clinton's e-mails on his personal computer.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Was there classified information on former Congressman Weiner's computer?

COMEY: Yes.

KENNEDY: Who sent it to him?

COMEY: His then-spouse Houma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him, for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to secretary of state.

KENNEDY: Did Congress -- former Congressman Weiner read that classified material?

COMEY: My understanding is that his role would be to print them out as a matter of convenience.

KENNEDY: If he did read them, would he have committed a crime?

COMEY: Potentially.

KENNEDY: Would his spouse have committed a crime?

COMEY: Again, potentially. It would depend upon a number of things.

KENNEDY: Is there an investigation with respect to the two of them?

COMEY: There was. It is -- we've completed it.

KENNEDY: Why did you conclude that neither of them committed a crime?

COMEY: Because with respect to Ms. Abedin in particular, we didn't have any indication that she had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And, Pamela, I understand, you have some new information about next week's testimony?

BROWN: That's right. Well, there's going to be another hearing on Russia's interference with the election, with Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, and James Clapper who has, of course, run DNI.

And we have learned that Susan Rice, President Obama's former national security adviser, declined the request. So, she will not be present there for this testimony on Russia hacking. In a letter obtained exclusively by CNN from Rice's lawyer outlines the reasons for her decision, saying that she was informed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, that he did not agree to Chairman Lindsey Graham's invitation for her to testify and didn't think it was pertinent to the topic.

And according to the source, speaking to CNN, Rice considered this invitation from Senator Graham, a diversionary play. That's a direct quote in terms of what she felt this was, to distract information from the investigation into Russia's interference in the election.

And as you'll recall, Anderson, Rice had been accused by President Trump of politicizing intelligence by unmasking the identities of Trump officials, speaking of foreign officials during the transition. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle told CNN they didn't see anything unusual or illegal about what Rice did, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pamela Brown, Pamela, thanks.

Lot's to talk about with the panel. David Gregory, Abby Phillip, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, Jason Miller, Paul Begala is joining us, so is Philip Mudd.

Paul, did -- what Director Comey said today make sense about his rationale for --

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yes, no problem. No biggie.

COOPER: I knew you would say that.

BEGALA: I want him to take me back to that room on October 28. There's two doors, one marked speak, and one marked conceal. No. No. One marked Comey, one marked country. He put himself ahead of his country. You know, they shouldn't have done. He had the lap top, he had the evidence, it wasn't going anywhere, put it in a safe, put it on ice, in 11 days we'll check it out. We don't even have a search warrant today.

COOPER: He says that would have destroys the FBI. If people -- if they discover that --

BEGALA: How? How?

COOPER: What destroys the FBI -- the FBI -- I was kid they were heroes and they're still heroes to me. I work in the White House. These are men and women who put their country ahead of their lives every day. And this guy is so obsessed with his reputation, that he decided to involve himself in an election 11 days out. Contravening decades of policy. He inserted himself into an election and it had a real affect on the election, I'm sorry it upset his delicate stomach.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Where I disagree on that is -- look, the big news, it was heading into that week was the fact that the Obamacare premium hikes that came out and all the people that were losing their coverage. That was really the big thing that really the catalyst that was going that week. And so that Friday morning, when we got our internal polling numbers back, I remember running down the hall into Dave Bossie, the deputy campaign manager's office and you see the numbers in New Mexico, see the numbers in Michigan were surging, were moving, let's go and get the boss and now the president, let's go and get to the states and start campaigning. It wasn't until later when all this news broke. The numbers were already --

BEGALA: Would it move the (INAUDIBLE) if Comey had said there's an investigation of the Trump campaign for potentially colluding with the Russians, of course it would.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That is the sole bias.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But the original sin in all of this was that Jim Comey, the man who stood up as number two in the justice department and the Bush Administration was big justice, which is don't let the administration interfere in justice department procedures. He threw them overboard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

GREGORY: And he did that when he came out and said we're not charging Hillary Clinton, and no reasonable person would charge her. He waded into politics then. Why? Because he knew there were so many agents who wanted to charge. So many agents who were so mad about how they handled General Petraeus and they were mad that they weren't going after Hillary Clinton. He was dealing his with own internal politics and the people who dislike Hillary Clinton so much, and then later on he was dealing with the politics of Capitol Hill and House Republicans. The problem is there are procedures if you don't charge, you don't talk --

COOPER: Right.

GREGORY: -- because once you start you can't stop and then you lose your independence.

COOPER: Do you agree with that?

BEGALA: He should have shut up. Prosecutors speak through indictments, and he not only cleared Hillary in July, which is good news for supporting her then he trashed her. A private citizen running for president, he had a negative campaign on her in 90 minutes. It was insane. He should have shut up in July, when he had the press conference. That was in contravention of justice department guidelines. He did not check with justice before he did that.

COOPER: If he did come out though and say the Trump campaign is under investigation for, you know, contacting the Russians, you can't deny that would have had an impact?

MILLER: But there's massive difference. And we were talking about Secretary Clinton, we were talking about this illegal home server, we're talking about five people who were taking this --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: No. It also what he said today, he used the term criminal intent when he was talking about this. So it wasn't the fact that there was a crime committed.

COOPER: You don't think that people would have heard Trump campaign possible contacts with Russia and thought --

MILLER: Of course. But that's the big news today. The big news today is there's still not one shred of evidence that there was some type of coordination between the campaign and some --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: That's what I'm saying.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, that's not what this hearing was about. So there wasn't any news on that. And he couldn't talk about it.

COOPER: the investigation's ongoing.

BORGER: Right

MILLER: But this is why it was all going on today. That was the fundamental thing they're trying to supposedly get to the bottom of this. And after eight months they still haven't put anything forward.

BORGER: But this is the first time we heard from Comey about --

UNIDENTIFID FEMALE: Right.

BORGER: -- his motive here. And the one thing that was stunning to me, was we heard how he felt about the attorney general and we heard about how he felt about her meeting with Bill Clinton in the airplane that day. And then --

COOPER: That he didn't have confidence that the department of justice was --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And I believe -- can I finish? And I believe that one of the reasons he went out and talked about Hillary Clinton that day and called her reckless, et cetera, was he felt he had the reputation of the, you know, justice department and the FBI on his shoulders.

COOPER: But Philip, (INAUDIBLE) what do you make because if that?

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: This is killing me. The FBI director comes across that he has a sense that he's a moral voice for America.

BORGER: Right.

MUDD: He is not.

BORGER: Right.

MUDD: He runs the FBI and they determine whether you walk across Pennsylvania Avenue and suggest to the Department of Justice, based on an investigation whether or not somebody committed a crime.

[20:35:02] He made one mistake. That was speaking in July to talk about this. He should not have done that. He made a second mistake in July. His personal opinion about Hillary Clinton, why do I care? Not your job, you're not the high school principal. He kept talking about October 28th. Wrong date, he set up October 28th because he closed the investigation publicly and then rightly said now that I screwed it up, I got to double back.

GREGORY: And he was worried, I know for a fact. He was worried about the spirit -- the esprit de corps and morale within the FBI. He was worried that all those agents who were so mad and who wanted to have Hillary Clinton charged would not believe in him and he was worried about Congress. And that's why he did all the extra stuff that he shouldn't have done.

He should have never said that no reasonable person would have prosecuted her. He shouldn't have leaned forward and pleased you. And he should have shut the hell up and done his job.

COOPER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue this discussion in just a moment. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we started discussing before the break, FBI Director James Comey said he would do it again, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

[20:40:02] Comey stood by his decision to reveal that the FBI was looking into more e-mails in the Clinton investigation, 11 days before the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have some an impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28th with me and stare at this, and tell me what you would do. Would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong but honestly made the decision between those two choices that even in hindsight, and this been one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I'm back now with the panel. Abby, you know, he said mild nausea. I mean, I don't know what it takes to get him really nauseous. But I want whatever is in his stomach.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, he seems to have really worked himself up about this. And we were talking in the break a little bit about his long history of being kind of this gladiator for justice. And I think that that's what he's fashioned this decision into and he's had to become comfortable with it because I think he acknowledges that there's a wide spread perception that he acted and made someone president.

One the other hand, I think that what he laid out specifically saying, I think I did the right thing or what is the right thing to do it was he supposed to do is not actually the test that he faces as FBI director. If -- it's your job is to not sway the election one way or the other, in some ways you kind of have to pay attention to, is something that I'm going to do going to affect things for someone or against someone or even vice versa. He had no way to know what the outcome was. But he should have probably known that it would have some kind of --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You have to take into consideration politics. Look, David, you said earlier that the initial press conference was the original sin and I think that is definitely true for Comey's part in this. But let's also remember that the original, original sin was that private server.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: I mean, Hillary had not that private server and I'm sure that even Paul would agree with this, then this ball wouldn't have started rolling. I'm not saying she did anything illegal, clearly, she didn't.

BEGALA: It wasn't in Russia. But my problem is you --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: I totally agree.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, you know, Paul, Comey did say that he offered to speak out about Russian interference in the election back in August.

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: But the Obama administration did not take advantage of that. Was that a mistake?

BEGALA: I -- for the Obama administration I think not. In August, he's pressing Obama as coming right out of the convention. He just giving those partisan speech that he can give. And then if you're doing that -- I think they finally -- the entire intelligence committee in October came out and by the way it was the FBI that was last in line. Sixteen of the 17 intelligence agencies said Russia is doing this, and Director Comey who now says, well, I wanted to do this months earlier.

No, that's not what is unfair. It was unfair, if both candidates are under investigation, one cleared, one still under investigation, he trashes the one who's under investigation and he violates the procedures. I -- this is what I can't stress it up. We are suppose to be government of laws not of men and women. And in the tough cases that's when the guidelines matter most. And the guidelines Eric Holder, the Attorney General has signed an order telling everyone -- and every attorney general has done this for 50 years. Don't mess with anything near an election.

It's always been meant to 60 days. And for decades, every attorney general has issued an order like that. Comey violated that order and it's a tough case where you have to follow the procedure.

GREGORY: It's also for protection of individuals in the country.

COOPER: Right.

GREGORY: I mean, people associated with this investigation have the FBI leaking interviews done with people who worked with Hillary Clinton displayed across the newspapers with the content of their interviews were. Any individual goes up against the federal government, that's a very powerful entity and that's why you need protection. If you don't like Hillary Clinton, if you want to see her go to jail, well, number one, you don't get to decide, the FBI does, ultimately the Justice Department they said no. But you can't punish her bad judgment, and her bad judgment was punished in the polls and ultimately on Election Day. It was a factor but, you know, those protections matter. BORGER: But it turns out that Barack Obama seemed to care more about not influencing the election than James Comey which is kind of shocking, right? Because Obama made a decision, hold off on the release of anything, just let's, you know, let's be careful about this where -- yes, with Trump and Russia. Where as Comey on Hillary Clinton basically said, OK I have to do this for myself.

MUDD: This is making me mildly nauseous. Let me intervene. We are talking about whether somebody should have spoke in August and President Obama said no. Remember, there's two issues here. Intervention in the election and Trump participation with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MUDD: You can't speak in August about Trump participation in that.

COOPER: All right, we're going to take a break. Up next, the White House keep showing photos of the border wall under construction as proof that President Trump is keeping it a top priority. Even claiming that Trump got the funding for this new wall in the latest spending bill. That is not the full story. We sent our Gary Tuchman to the border to find the wall, the wall construction in question. Tonight he's (inaudible) ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:48:58] COOPER: President Trump wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico, you might have heard about it. But in the recent budget, there wasn't any actual money for it. There was some for border security allot but not for the wall itself.

Now, that hasn't stopped the White House in two press conferences in these many days from showing up with props in the briefing room to try and argue otherwise. Press Secretary Sean Spicer today showed photos of border fencing under construction and pointed to a specific change in fence that he said is being replaced by a steel wall. Both of them he said are examples of how the president is keeping his pledge about the wall.

Just yesterday, the Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also talked about securing the border and used some of the same photos. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: When you heard at the last 48 hours about the deal, did you think we could build this? I bet you didn't. Nobody did, OK.

Is it a replacement for existing wall? Yes, that's fine. Is it new wall? No. This is what's out there right now, OK. And this is what's going to be put in as a result of this bill, OK.

That is better border security. You can call it new wall. You can call it replacement. You can call it names and codes whatever you want to. The president's priority was to secure the southern border and that's what this does. [20:50:02] We are building this now. There is money in this deal to build several hundreds of millions of dollars of this to replace this. That's what we got in this deal. And that's what the Democrats don't want you to know.

This stuff is going up now. Why? Because the president wants to make the country more safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, keep in mind that is not the full story, not even close. We sent our Gary Tuchman to the border to where those photos were taken of the wall under construction. Here's what he discovered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After Budget Director Mick Mulvaney pointed to the photographs of border wall construction, he was asked where it was.

MULVANEY: Oh, I don't know where it's being built.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But we do. We quickly matched up photographs and discovered the location is Sunland Park, New Mexico which borders a small town near Juarez, Mexico. So we came here and indeed workers are building a new improved and more secured steel wall.

(on camera) Construction workers here tell us this is the exact portion of the fence where the picture was taken. The opening in the fence in the photo is now closed with that gate. Interestingly, the picture was taken from the other side of the fence on the Mexican side. The mountains that you see in the background are the mountains here in New Mexico.

(voice-over) The budget director declared, quote, this stuff is going up now because the president wants to make this country safe. But keeping them honest, this stuff has nothing to do with President Trump. Daphne Griffin works at a restaurant near the border.

DAPHNE GRIFFIN, WORKS IN SUNLAND PARK: This particular wall came from the Bush administration.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Is that common knowledge in this area?

GRIFFIN: Yes, absolutely.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 in October of that year. Since then, he and President Barack Obama approved new construction and improvement construction to border walls and fences from Texas to California. So it's those two presidents responsible for improvements done to this wall in Sunland Park. This project began in the summer of 2016, months before Donald Trump was elected.

(on camera) So it's nothing unusual?

GRIFFIN: No. It's not unusual to see the wall being fixed.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): In addition to the frequent trains chugging along the border, one of the first things we noticed here was this chain-link fence separating the countries which a child on the Mexican side was climbing. A fence the budget director actually pointed out.

MULVANEY: This doesn't stop drugs and doesn't stop criminals from crossing the border. In fact, it doesn't stop hardly anything from crossing the border.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Press Secretary Sean Spicer also noted it.

SPICER: And if you look at that one in particular, you have got a chain-link fence is what is currently at our southern border. That is literally down there now. We are able to go in there and instead of having a chain-link fence replace it with that barreled wall.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Well, keeping them honest again, the chain-link fence has never been a border fence. Workers and law enforcement on the scene who say they can't go on camera, tell us it's just part of the construction site, put up by the construction workers for safety.

(on camera): To be clear, border wall and border fencing is often getting repaired and replaced. But if President Trump wants to build a new wall in a place that hasn't had one, he doesn't have the authorization or money to do that. At least he hasn't.

(voice-over) What Mr. Trump does have is the right to improve and repair current walls and fences. The same exact thing presidents before him have had.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Gary joins us now. So Gary, I just want to go back to one thing in your piece. That chain-link fence that the White House keeps saying they are replacing, that is not actually border barrier. That is part of the construction site put up by construction workers?

TUCHMAN: Right, it's just a temporary fence. Before the temporary fence was there, there was a fairly tall steel wall Anderson but it got old, there were some repairs that had to be done to it. People got through it, people got over it. And that's why this project to improve the wall started this past summer.

This is between 18 and 20 feet tall. To get over it, you need either a gargantuan ladder or you need to shimmy up a pole about 16 feet and then you get to the top where there's a four-foot hunk of metal. And then you have to get over that. So there's a couple more months to work on in this project.

One thing I noticed Anderson which is very interesting when the White House points out this chain-link fence. If they want to improve the fence, it's actually very easy to do so. Much of the border, there's no fence.

Much of the border there's knee-high barbed wire fence. They didn't have to point out the chain-link fence. I believe it's an honest mistake but either way, it's a mistake. Anderson?

COOPER: Well, it's good to find out what the truth is. Gary, thanks very much. There's much more ahead in the next hour of 360 including Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser on his take on FBI James Comey's testimony today in the Russia White House investigation.

Mr. Page's name came up a few times so I'll talk to him. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:53:10] COOPER: Welcome back. We're live from Washington, D.C. tonight on this very busy day in the nation's capital. And tonight's Russia White House watch, at least four congressional committees are investigating Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

The FBI also has an investigation into whether President Trump's associates colluded with Russia, something Director James Comey confirmed again today that they're investigating that. Comey was also asked about former Trump adviser Carter Page and I'll speak with him in a moment. But first, let's hear the exchange from today's hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Was there a FISA warrant issued regarding Carter Page's activity with the Russians?

COMEY: I can't answer that here.

GRAHAM: Did you consider Carter Page a agent of the campaign?

COMEY: Same answer. Can't answer that here.

GRAHAM: OK. Do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation, counterintelligence investigation regarding Trump campaign individuals and the Russian government as to whether or not they collaborated? He said that in March of --

COMEY: To see if there was any coordination between the Russian effort and people --

GRAHAM: Is that still going on?

COMEY: Yes.

GRAHAM: OK, so nothing's changed? You stand by those two statements?

COMEY: Correct.

GRAHAM: But you won't tell me about Carter Page?

COMEY: Not here, I won't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Carter Page joins me now. Hey Carter, so the FBI director refused to answer any questions about you specifically. Have you spoken or been contacted by the FBI?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You know, Anderson, I don't want to talk about any ongoing investigations. It's the same thing I was told when I tried asking Lisa Monaco about this back in January. So I have no comment on that.

COOPER: So you don't want to say whether you have spoken with the FBI?

PAGE: Let me just say that I've been very cooperative with a lot of individuals in government. And most on -- I've been very --

COOPER: I know you have written letters of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Yes. The last time we spoke, you denied -- you know, there's been so much focus on your trip to Moscow when you made that speech in the summer of 2016.

You've repeatedly denied having any conversations in a lot of interviews about lifting sanctions when you were in Moscow.