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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sen. John McCain Diagnosed with Brain Cancer; NYT: Trump Expresses Anger at Sessions, Comey, and Warns Mueller; Interview with Sen . Joe Manchin (D-WV). Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 19, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
"The New York Times" just published an interview with the president. What he says is enough to fill the entire broadcast tonight. We'll have details on that shortly.
[20:00:01] We begin, though, with some truly sad and shocking news about senator and former presidential candidate, John McCain.
CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now.
Sanjay, what have you learned?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: With Senator McCain's permission, I spoke to his doctors at the Mayo Clinic earlier today, and they said the operation that he had on Friday revealed that he has a glioblastoma. That is an aggressive type of brain cancer. That was what was causing his problems, what they operated on right above his left eye, as you may remember, Anderson.
This is a type of primary brain cancer. They didn't know. They just -- they just found this out after the pathologist looked under the microscope specifically, and what was removed there from his brain, and that is what they found.
As you point out, it is -- it's sad news. This is an aggressive type of brain cancer and I think surprised everybody, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, what more can you tell us about this? A, just to repeat this is -- you were given this information or permission by the senator or by his family in order to broadcast this?
GUPTA: Yes, they -- with his permission, I spoke to the doctors. They ask that I talk to the doctors, get all this information about precisely what happened.
We know that on Friday morning, he went to the doctors basically for a scheduled annual physical exam. He was complaining a bit of fatigue and said he's been feeling tired over the last few months. He also had a bout of double vision.
But because of those things, his doctors basically decided to order a CAT scan of his brain. Again, this is all Friday this has happened. And it was that CAT scan and a subsequent MRI scan of the brain that
revealed this abnormality. Again, it looked like a blood collection. But it was concerning enough that within -- that urgently, within the next couple of hours, the doctors took him to the operating room, they performed this incision as you heard again right in the left eyebrow area, removed some bone and removed this -- they believed they removed the entire tumor that they could see from that area of the left front of his brain.
This is a glioblastoma. Again, that's what that showed. Some people may have heard this term before. But glioblastoma is the same type of tumor that Senator Kennedy had several years ago, that Beau Biden had, you know, last year that we've heard about. It is an aggressive type of brain cancer.
So, Senator McCain and his family are just now dealing with this news and trying to decide the next steps in terms of treatment, and all of that. But he is at home, Anderson. He was able to go home the next day after surgery. He had a very rapid recovery.
The doctors told me that after he woke up from the anesthesia, he was very alert, very sharp, was able to tell you what year it was. He was making jokes with the recovery room staff. But again, this -- it takes a few days for these diagnoses to come back because the pathologist actually has to review it and this is what they found, Anderson.
COOPER: What are the next -- potential next steps?
GUPTA: Well, this is -- this is one of those types of tumors that is -- it doesn't have a particular cure. There's not a type of treatment that you can say is going to likely lead to cure. The types of treatments typically are a combination of chemotherapy and radiation -- radiation to that part of his brain.
It's -- this is a discussion that I'm sure Senator McCain and his family are going to have with doctors as exactly how to proceed and also when to proceed. Just recovering from this operation, as you and I have talked about, can take a couple weeks. But to begin this sort of therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, they've got to wait usually three to four weeks at least until after the operation -- until the after the operation.
He had that operation in Arizona. That is at the Mayo Clinic there. That's likely where he's going to get his follow-up treatment.
COOPER: So, I'm sorry. This is a dumb question. But I mean, is this a tumor, or is it more than that?
GUPTA: This is a tumor. It is a type of brain tumor. It's a tumor that comes from the brain as opposed to types of tumors that start somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. This started in his brain.
People were concerned about the melanoma having spread, because he does have a history of melanoma. But this was not melanoma. This was a primary tumor of the brain. It is -- it is a type of cancer, a malignant cancer.
And what that means in this case is that you operate on this. It needs to be treated as well with chemotherapy and radiation. The concern is that it will come back. That's the big concern with these types of tumors.
And, again, you know, in order to try and, you know, give him the best chance at that, it is likely that he'll undergo some further treatments over the next several weeks.
COOPER: All right. Sanjay, I want you to stay with us.
Joining us as well is "Axe Files" host and former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod. Also, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Obviously, Gloria, I mean, this is very devastating news for Senator McCain and for his family. Very tough news to hear for everybody, really. He was first elected to the Senate in 1986, which is more than 30 years ago. I mean, for the impact he has had, and continues to have on the Senate is not to be overstated.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's remarkable. And don't forget, he ran for the presidency twice.
[20:05:01] And as he told me, he once came in second place, which wasn't good enough.
And, you know, John McCain is a fighter. And I think we all know that, all of us -- all of us tonight. And, you know, this is a man who survived the fire on the forest, shot out of a plane, was tortured five years in a POW camp, melanoma, two presidential campaigns.
And Dana and I have been talking to folks who are close to McCain who say he's been on the phone talking about his statements on health care, and continuing to work. And if I know John McCain, he's going to want to get back to work as soon as possible and want to continue to do what he does best, which is represent the people of Arizona. And be the lion that he is in the United States Senate.
COOPER: Dana, I mean, you covered Capitol Hill for a long time. Talk about the influence that Senator McCain has there, and within the Republican Party. And also just what he's like personally. I mean, I've interviewed him a number of times. He's got a great sense of humor.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he does.
COOPER: And, you know, generally engaged not just in issues -- domestic issues, but internationally.
BASH: When the only people who can call people little jerks and mean that as a term of endearment, which he does, frequently, as a term of endearment.
I just want to echo what Gloria is saying. There is nobody who is the kind of fighter that John McCain is. Never mind all of the things that he went through in Vietnam, the melanoma that he had in 2000. But just even the extent to which he is going constantly, in warp speed always.
You mentioned the kind of impact he has in the Senate. A huge impact. But he has a huge impact globally. My friend Paul Kane at "The Washington Post" just did a story about the miles that he logs. Just this year alone, Anderson, 75,000 miles, to more than 15 nations across three continents.
I was just talking recently to Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who went back to Vietnam with John McCain I think it was less than two months ago, and talked about the fact that Coons who is about 30 years younger than John McCain, who's 80 years, who'll be 81 at the end of August, he had to change his own schedule, Coons said, because he couldn't keep up with McCain. And the way that he said that McCain is revered by leaders across the country, even and especially in Vietnam, which he said was really interesting.
But, you know, covering McCain, Anderson, in the Senate, and I covered his presidential campaign in 2008 from start to finish, he has a fighter pilot's mentality which is, you keep going and you keep going and you keep going and you don't look back, you don't worry about regrets, because we all have them, but he tries not to dwell on them but he keeps going. And that is his M.O.
And there's no question, you know, knowing him and the way that he likes to fight. He's probably also telling his dad jokes he told on the campaign trail like in the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it's black.
COOPER: Also, David, I mean, anybody who can survive the Hanoi Hilton and survive what he did with his, you know, his brothers in arms in those difficult -- I mean, he spent years there under excruciating conditions. As everybody is saying, I mean, he's a fighter. And he's also in so many ways is one of those politicians that transcends party lines.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He surely does. You know, I spent an hour with him, the initial "Axe Files" on CNN with John McCain. And to hear him tell the story of his captivity, and those very, very dismal years, and what -- but the strength that he drew from that experience, and the lessons that he drew from that experience was incredibly moving.
And yes, he's one of those people who has over the last 30 years found a way to walk -- work across party lines on issues like immigration reform, on issues like climate change. It didn't always make him popular with the base of the Republican Party. But even on this health care issue, even as he laid in the hospital waiting for this diagnosis, he was issuing statements urging bipartisan action on health care. I think that's who John McCain is.
You know, the thing when I sat here listening to you, and Sanjay read that news, discuss that news, I thought of his friend Ted Kennedy, who eight years ago, eight or nine years ago got a diagnosis like this, and continued to fight through it, work through it. But those two worked together on many, many issues. And, in fact, John McCain spoke at Ted Kennedy's memorial service, and there aren't that many giants left in the United States Senate. John McCain is a giant.
COOPER: Yes. And he continues to be. And we certainly wish him and his family the best tonight.
COOPER: And I know there are a lot of people all across this country and a lot of people he's met around the world who are saying a prayer for him tonight.
[20:10:05] So, Sanjay, thanks. David, Dana, and Gloria, thanks as well.
In other news, the president weighs on his attorney general, levels a sharp warning at Russian investigators, including special counsel Mueller. That's not all he said to "The New York Times'" Maggie Haberman. It just -- this article just came out. You'll hear all the breaking news from that, next.
COOPER: We just got the best look at what is on the president's mind right now on the Russia probe. The man in charge of it, the attorney general, had to recuse himself from it and a lot more.
He spoke to "The New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. "The Times" headline only hints at how much news he made. Trump expresses anger at Sessions and Comey and warns Mueller.
I spoke with Maggie Haberman just before air time.
COOPER: Maggie, this interview, it's quite something. I want to start with what he told you about Attorney General Sessions. What did he have to say?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Look, he was very clearly frustrated with Jeff Sessions. He very bluntly said that he would not have appointed him if he had known he would recuse himself from anything Russia related, he would have appointed somebody else.
We know that Donald Trump has been very angry with Jeff Sessions for quite some time. But it was -- it was a pretty remarkable statement for him to make on the record, for him to vent his ire that way and to make clear that, you know, he considers what Jeff Sessions did, which was a recusal because he was concerned about a conflict, to be problematic.
He faulted Sessions for what he described as turning an easy question into a hard one at the Senate confirmation hearing. It's actually a sentiment that a fair number of critics agree with.
[20:15:02] But it was -- it was a pretty remarkable statement.
COOPER: He also said if Sessions hadn't recused himself, there wouldn't have ended up being a special counsel, is that right?
HABERMAN: He did. And, look, he has -- you know, Peter Baker and I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the president's anger with Sessions was really at the root of what you were seeing about his culminations on other issues, that he thought it all went back to Sessions, that he believed that, you know, if Sessions had not recused himself from Russia, there would be no Rod Rosenstein stepping up, there would be no special counsel appointed. It is all the original sin from there.
He was less specific about Mueller, but he was very clear that he believes that Mueller has a number of conflicts of interest. One of which is something that Trump's aides talked about for quite some time, although I'm not sure they had it on the record, which was that they say that Bob Mueller interviewed for the interim FBI director the day before he was appointed special counsel. They consider that to be a mitigating factor to put it mildly.
The president refused to say, despite asking him repeatedly, you know, sort of what he would consider a violation of his charge on the part of Bob Mueller. He wouldn't answer it. But he did say he believes that Mueller's charge is very narrowly focused on Russia and that he himself is not under investigation.
COOPER: He doesn't believe that he is personally under investigation by Mueller?
HABERMAN: That's what he -- that is what he said.
COOPER: He also had fascinating choice words for former FBI Director Comey.
HABERMAN: He sure did. And as we know, he's said a number of choice words to James Comey for some time. But he was very specific that, you know, he believed that Comey was trying to essentially get leverage over him with that dossier, making all sorts of wild allegations about President Trump and his appearance in Russia in 2013.
You know, as we know, he was not happy with Comey for quite some time. Long before he actually fired him, there had been some belief he might even fire him immediately upon taking office. But I will say that his frustration was less trained on Comey than on Sessions today.
COOPER: But the allegation against Comey, I mean, this goes back to the meeting when U.S. intelligence officials at the time briefed then President-elect Trump in Trump Tower, and to Comey has testified, Comey pulled him aside after the meeting and told him about the existence of this dossier, or the two-page summary of this dossier.
The president is now saying he believes Comey did that in order to get leverage over him to keep his job? HABERMAN: Essentially that Comey wanted to keep his job and that was
the point in showing it to him. You know, again, the president feels sort of vindicated as I think you've seen him say publicly that Comey had to acknowledge under oath that he had told the president three times that he was under investigation. He said he would not say that publicly because it might change.
The president just doesn't accept that answer, and was very frustrated that Comey wouldn't say it publicly. Again, you know, I think his frustration with that dossier continues, and this was a piece of that.
COOPER: You know, if memory serves me correctly, the White House went after CNN and others who reported that Comey had -- that intelligence chiefs briefed the president about the existence of the dossier and the two-page summary of the dossier. I remember having an interview with Kellyanne Conway where if memory serves me correct, that they seemed either not to know that this had happened, or to deny that it had happened. So, the president is confirming as has already been confirmed by the participants that that actually did occur. But it's fascinating to hear his perspective of why he thinks that briefing actually took place by Comey.
I understand the newly reported second meeting with Putin also came up. He says it only lasted 15 minutes, is that right?
HABERMAN: He said -- I have to go back and check our transcript for what he said, because there's a lot --
COOPER: Yes, I think he said about -- I just read it, he said about 15 minutes.
HABERMAN: Yes, I mean, he --
COOPER: It's been reported by other people, sources who were there, that it was about an hour.
HABERMAN: Yes, yes. I mean, look, he was adamant in that time frame, which is consistent with what White House officials said yesterday about this second get-together. He was clearly not defining it in his mind as an actual meeting. You know, he told a very long and elaborate story about sitting next to Prime Minister Abe's wife of Japan. She doesn't speak English. He got up to go see his own wife who was seated next to Putin. And then they started talking.
He did mention, and this is interesting, he said that the topic of Russian adoptions came up when he was talking to Putin at this newer meeting. The topic of Russian adoptions as you recall was the -- supposedly the subject of -- or part of the subject of this meeting that the president's son, Don Jr., had with the Russian lawyer on June 9th, 2016, one that was ultimately billed as, you know, ostensibly about dirt on Hillary Clinton.
So, it was a little surprising that that came up. I have no reason to think it's other than a coincidence.
[20:20:01] But the Russian adoption issue relates to the sanctions. So --
COOPER: Right. Do you know if -- he said it came up. It sounds like he didn't mention it, it sounds like Putin mentioned it. Which if Putin mentioned it, they're not talking about adoptions, they're talking about sanctions.
HABERMAN: Right. I mean, that is -- that is my read, but it was not clear and I don't want to get ahead of what the president actually said in his remarks.
COOPER: Right. And just overall, how did his demeanor seem compared to other times that you've spoken with him?
HABERMAN: Incredibly upbeat. I mean, you know, when I contrast him on Air Force One last week, and today, with some of what we saw earlier on the administration, for whatever reasons, he seems to be in a pretty good place.
COOPER: Maggie Haberman, fascinating reporting as always -- thank you.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: One other notable item from the interview, warning for special counsel Robert Mueller. Asked if Mr. Mueller's investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family's finances beyond any relationship to Russia, the president told "The Times," quote, I would say yes. He would not say what he would do about it. He said, quote, I think that's a violation, look, this is about Russia.
Certainly, a lot to discuss. Dana Bash joins us. Gloria Borger is back. Jeffrey Toobin is here as well. Also joining us is Molly Ball and Matt Lewis.
Gloria, I mean, have you ever heard of a time when the president of the United States says such things about the attorney general who he appointed, attorney general who was one of his earliest supporters and, you know, went out and campaign for him and is still his attorney general?
BORGER: Right, no. His earliest supporter in the United States Senate, somebody who was with him every step of the way. And I think what you heard, in hearing Maggie, and in reading this remarkable piece in "The New York Times," is that this is a president who's very angry at a lot of people who work for him.
I made a list. Jeff Sessions, Comey who used to work for him whom he fired, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, and, of course, this special counsel Mueller whom he is not directly threatening, but saying, you know, you've got a -- you've got a lot of conflicts out there. And so, this was kind of a list of grievances. Even though he was upbeat in mood, I think that, you know, you could hear the grievance coming through in all of the quotes in "The New York Times" piece.
COOPER: Dana, what do you make of what Maggie is reporting?
BASH: This is something we've been told, I've certainly talked to people who talk regularly with the president for months, that this is something he will not let go. This being his anger and ire at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself.
And if you remember, if you go back to his sort of tweet, one of the first tweets that he sent that, you know, got him in big trouble as president, it was the sort of Saturday morning, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, where the president tweeted that President Obama was tapping Trump Tower. It was Donald Trump lashing out in fury, you know, maybe pointing his anger in the wrong direction. But that was where all of that came from from Jeff Sessions recusing himself.
And since then, as the president himself has now said in public on the record to "The New York Times," so many bad things for him has stemmed from that recusal.
Having said all of that, it's one thing for us to hear about private conversations that the president has about his attorney general and how upset he is. It's another thing for him to throw Jeff Sessions under the bus and then put it in reverse and then come back and do it again, in "The New York Times."
This isn't a former attorney general. This is his sitting attorney general, the person who he put in charge. And as you said, Anderson, maybe most importantly, a guy who went out on a very, very big limb to endorse Donald Trump when nobody else would go anywhere near him in the U.S. Senate. And that really gave him credibility with the Republican base back in the campaign.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, does this mean Sessions needs to resign or something?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think so. I mean, you know, Donald Trump operates by his own rules. Jeff Sessions is the attorney general.
He -- I'm going to go see on Friday. He's going to be giving a talk in Philadelphia. He will continue pushing for longer prison sentences, for more civil forfeiture.
You know, it's a bizarre situation. I mean, there's no doubt about that, but he is still the attorney general. He will continue to do what he's doing, advancing an agenda, which is basically Donald Trump's agenda but just under this weird cloud. I don't think he has to resign. I don't think he will.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think in dignity, he would. I think he should resign. This is -- like, first of all, I have to talk to Maggie, I don't think it's in the report, but was this unsolicited? Was it in response to a question?
Remember, why is he talking about Jeff Sessions today? It's apropos of nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia.
TOOBIN: He may have been asked about him. I mean, yes, it's obviously top of mind --
COOPER: But I think to Matt's point is, why give this interview today? I mean, today of all days, where, you know, health care is obviously the thing, this interview is right after the lunch with the senators about health care?
LEWIS: Yes, and that's the other thing. Nobody ever stands up to Donald Trump.
[20:25:00] We had him humiliate Senator Heller at that lunch and then he does this. I would love to see Jeff Sessions walk away at this point. And make -- on principle, walk away.
TOOBIN: What's the principle? What's the principle?
LEWIS: Well, I think -- go ahead.
BORGER: Well, I think -- I think one of the reasons he went after Jeff Sessions is he blames Jeff Sessions for the rabbit hole of the Russia investigation as he sees it.
COOPER: Well, he said Jeff Sessions' decision led to ultimately to the special counsel.
BORGER: He's right. He's right about it.
LEWIS: Jeff Sessions is the one person who actually did the right thing. What Sessions did was actually, in that moment, very honorable and credible.
BORGER: But if you look at it -- and I agree with you -- but if you look at it from the president's point of view, the point he made to "The Times" is, OK, if you wanted to recuse yourself and you knew all along you couldn't deal with Russia, tell me before I made you attorney general.
LEWIS: He thinks Jeff Sessions works for him. Jeff Sessions -- I mean --
BORGER: Exactly. I agree with you.
COOPER: Molly --
BORGER: I'm telling you, I'm channeling the president here, as hard as that is. But that's his point of view.
MOLLY BALL, POLITICAL WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think that's exactly right. He thinks everybody works for him. And for him, the presidency, the White House is all about him.
He's not focused on his agenda. He doesn't care about health care. He can have a nice little lunch and elbow some people in the ribs.
He doesn't care about the agenda that Jeff Sessions is implementing as the head of the Department of Justice. He views him as his own personal lawyer. And his personal lawyer is not doing his job.
He clearly does not see the Mueller investigation as an independent investigation. He wants Mueller to know that he retains the right to get rid of him, too, if he crosses a red line. And so, he's very clearly -- say what you will about Donald Trump, you always know exactly what's on his mind, right? He doesn't sugar coat it and it's very clear.
COOPER: He approaches it like a job interview. Like if you knew before he took the job that you were going to recuse yourself, you should have told me before I gave you the job.
TOOBIN: That's right. And, you know, there is a corner of what Trump says that makes a certain amount of sense. What really led Sessions to recuse himself was that extremely convoluted and basically false answer he gave --
COOPER: Which the president criticized him for in this interview.
TOOBIN: Right -- to senator from Minnesota -- Al Franken from Minnesota, where he denied meeting any Russians, which was clearly false, which put him, Sessions, under the ambit of the Russia investigation, which meant he really did have to recuse himself. I mean, there's no doubt that Sessions made the right choice, the ethical choice in recusing himself. But that led to the Mueller investigation, which is plaguing Donald Trump.
LEWIS: He was on the campaign. He was a surrogate for Donald Trump. And so, even had that gaffe not happened, he probably still should have recused himself from this case. I think Sessions did the right thing. And he's being -- that's the thing he's being attacked for.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Dana, that the president is accusing former Democrat tor Comey of basically trying to blackmail I guess is not the term, but leverage the dossier to try and keep his job. Do we have any evidence to suggest this actually happened besides the president leveling this accusation?
BASH: No, we absolutely don't. And, you know, you kind of --
COOPER: Because Comey testified about this --
COOPER: -- explaining why he felt he should give the information to the president. That he worried that, if my memory serves me correct, that then down the road, the president finds out about it and he thinks they kept it from him. That wouldn't be fair.
BASH: That's exactly right. And that's what I was just thinking about when you were asking me that question about James Comey's testimony on this very issue, the very question about why he decided to, you know, pull the president-elect aside, because he wasn't yet the president, when they briefed him in Trump Tower and give him this information.
And the fact is that the president's -- then president-elect's reaction was so unbelievable that he had to run down to his car, pull out his laptop and write it in a way that he could remember and retain the contemporaneous notes, but do it in a way that wasn't classified. So, yes, there's no question about that. Look --
COOPER: And also, if memory serves me correct, and again, I might be wrong about this, but that it was a decision by all the intelligence heads that Comey would be the one to do this.
COOPER: I'm not sure it was Comey saying, oh, I want to be the one to do it because maybe this will give me leverage.
BASH: That's true. Now, at the time the intelligence heads, the others were Obama appointees.
BASH: He still wasn't president. So maybe it made the most sense because he was the guy who was staying on because he had a 10-year term. But regardless of why it happened, Comey insists that he did it for the right reasons, just as you said, Anderson, because he felt that if this is out there, that he wants the president to have a heads-up about it, not because he was warning the president that if, you know, he fires James Comey, it's going to get out there.
I mean, it just -- it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. But having said that, I just think, take a step back, this Comey story, the Jeff Sessions story, and more recently, Mueller. You have such a sense in this interview about where the president's mind is. He is obsessing about these things. Some of the things that he can't change that happened before, you know, really many months ago with Comey, about a guy he already fired. About clearly betrayed by his current attorney general and not having control over the current special prosecutor. And what are we talking about now we're talking about Russia and we're doing this to this extent because it is the President of the United States who just blew a whole tank of oxygen into the story.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN'S CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and you also get the sense that this is a President who believes that everybody is out to get him. And talking about Mueller, look he interviewed for FBI director. You know, I didn't give him that job now he has got this and he has Democrats working for him.
Rod Rosenstein comes from Maryland everybody knows there aren't a lot of Republicans in Maryland. Andrew McCabe's wife gave money to the Democrat Party. So it's not about Mueller's qualifications to be special counsel or Rod Rosenstein's qualifications. It's about where he sees them on the spectrum and it's very black and white.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
BORGER: either they're with me or they're against me.
COOPER: We should also point out, according to Maggie Haberman, that the President seemed very upbeat and amiable (ph) and, you know, which is I think an important point because we don't -- you know, when we talk about obsessing and stuff, according to Maggie he seems, you know, in a good head space.
BASH: No question. And I should also to add to that, I mean that was certainly the report that I got from several Republicans who were in the health care meeting that he had with all Republican senators. That he was jovial, that he was trying to sort of tweaked senators like Rand Paul, saying, stop going after Republicans on T.V., maybe I should take you away golfing for three days to get you off T.V., no question. But I'm just talking about with this particular issue he seizes on it and expands it. And makes it a bigger story because he --
BASH: -- in a way that any political professional would tell you stop talking about it he just can't.
COOPER: We going to take a break. A lot more ahead tonight, including the White House efforts to down play the second meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, more on that ahead.
[20:35:49] COOPER: Just ahead tonight White House efforts to downplay the presidential meeting with Vladimir Putin they made no effort to actually disclose.
But first, we have breaking news on the three participants on the other undisclosed meeting. The one at Trump Tower last year billed as an opportunity for the campaign to obtain sense of dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. We learned that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, all now have dates to testify on Capital Hill, and the dates are coming up soon. Our Jessica Schneider joins us with the latest. What did you learned?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Very soon, Anderson. Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, they've both been called before the Senate Judiciary Committee that's scheduled to happen on Wednesday. However Manafort's spokesperson only confirmed that he's been invited. He hasn't confirmed yet if he will definitely appear. We also haven't heard from Donald Trump Jr.'s representatives. But senators on that committee they do say, they expect both men to appear. Anderson.
COOPER: And I understand that the testimony by Donald Trump Jr. as well as Manafort that's going to be in a public session, right?
SCHNEIDER: It will be in public. And if they both appear as requested it would really be the first time that senators will be able to drill into them on details about the June 2016 meeting that was set up between Don Jr. and the British publicists, allegedly on behalf of the Russian oligarch, Aras Agalarov. Member of the panel could also drill into why several of the people were present like the Russia lawyer, the Russian American lobbyist. So a lot of questions that could come from the senators if Don Jr. and Paul Manafort do, in fact, appear.
COOPER: They wouldn't be at the same time, right? I assumed one would be after the other.
SCHNEIDER: Right, we have the list here. We have two different sessions. They're scheduled to appear in the second session to presumably they would be one right after the other and not at the same time.
COOPER: And Jared Kushner also testifying next week before another committee, is that public? What more do we know about it?
SCHNEIDER: Right. Well, Jared Kushner is a definite. He will be appearing on Monday. It's a closed session. It's before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But, the questions there although we won't see it play out in public. It will likely include what he knew about June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower and what was discussed. Unless, you know, Anderson, senators they'll probably also drilled into why Jared Kushner has amended his security form at least twice now. They'll include the previously undisclosed meetings behind with the Russian ambassador, the chairman of the state-ran, bank and of course the most recent amendment that included the June 2016 meeting.
So a lot of questions there, but again, that one while it's definite it will playout behind closed doors when Jared Kushner goes before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
COOPER: Jessica Schneider, thanks for the reporting. With all that happening, the New York Times interview the White House gave another one of their no cameras allowed press briefings today. They used some of it to talk about the President's newly revealed the previously undisclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin after dinner at the G20 Summit. "It seems silly," said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "that we would disclose a dinner that he was already participating in."
Keep in mind, so the dinner isn't the issue that was of course already known. The meeting was not and the White House made no effort to make it known. It's now just one in a string of previously unknown contacts big and small between people and Donald Trump's circle and Russians. Last year's from tower meeting of course. The undisclosed meeting with Attorney Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn encounters, which live to the vice president about, it goes on.
We're focussing tonight on the latest, though. It's important to point out that yes this is what presidents do when meet with foreign leaders. However, what they traditionally do afterwards is not conceal the existence of the meeting while pretending there's nothing unusual about concealing it. What's also unusual looking into reported length of the meeting, though the president told the New York, he told it was only about 15 minutes.
Was that no other U.S. official was there, not even the U.S. interpreter was present? More from CNN Jeff Zeleny he joins us now, putting the fragment of a quote from Sarah Sanders in context because it's a bold claim to me.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a bold claim to make and it's sort of in line with what the White House was trying do all day by -- you know, essentially saying that this was a normal meeting, this was something that was not a surprise. Well, the reality is the White House only disclosed this last night, 11 days after the meeting because it had already leaked out. It was not a normal meeting. They were having a dinner but the fact that the President was there having dinner sitting next to the Japanese Prime Minister. That's why the translator only spoke Japanese.
He was not intended to speak with the Russian President that evening. They spoke earlier in the day for some two hours and 15 minutes. And all eyes in Germany. I was there -- we're on that meeting. Well, it seems they still had more to talk about in the evening. But this is what Sarah Sanders said at the press briefing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:40:15] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: They had a brief conversation and I'm not going to get into the specifics of the conversation. But again this was a social dinner where the President spoke with many world leaders as is the purpose. I think it would be incredibly awkward for them to all sit at a dinner and not speak to each other. And I would imagine that all of you would agree with that. It seems silly that we would disclose a dinner that we had already announced he was participating in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Now, it's not about disclosing the dinner. Yes, we knew he was at dinner with the other world leaders at the G20 summit there. But it's the fact that he had a separate conversation that drew the attention of other world leaders there who were watching this sort of an odd -- that they were spending more time together at the exclusion of other allies here. But again, the White House would not say, Anderson, what they talked about during that meeting.
COOPER: President Trump revealed more about what he said -- was said in the meeting with president Putin and put forth a new time line, basically saying it was much shorter.
ZELENY: Right. In the interview with the New York Times, he said the meeting was some 15 minutes or so. I can tell you Anderson, last night, I asked a top administration official if the meeting was an hour long because that's what we're hearing from people who broke this story. And they said, it was nearly an hour.
So, the President saying 15 minutes, nearly an hour, we do know that hey stayed at the venue at that dinner midnight or so, long after it was scheduled. So I'm not sure if the 15 minutes is accurate. We've seen story after story not necessarily the real story and real time. So regardless of the length of the meeting, the White House would not tell us today the length of the meeting.
We asked Sarah Sanders about that at that press briefing. She would not say how long it was or what they talked about. The reason this makes any difference Anderson, is because there is no U.S. record of what happened at that meeting, what they talked about, and a translator was only by the Russian government. The U.S., it's highly extraordinary, unusual to have a conversation like that between adversaries without at least having a translator from your own government there to make sure things aren't mixed up, aren't, you know, confused, and that was not the case. Anderson.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, I appreciate the update. Joining us now is Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, who first revealed this previously undisclosed meeting and Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Ian, first of all, the -- last night, the White House released an official statement calling this a brief conversation, minutes after that, an unnamed senior White House official told Jeff Zeleny that it was "nearly an hour." Today, President Trump says, they spoke for about 15 minutes. You have sources who were inside that room, do you know how long this was?
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Yes. I mean, look the reason I found out about it is because a number of the G20 allies of the United Stated, who view Russia as an antagonist of the U.S., were unnerved by the fact that Trump's best meeting and best chemistry, clearly closest relationship among all these countries, is with Putin. And it was the fact that in front of all these people, it wasn't, you know, it wasn't by himself. He's putting on display this very engaged, energetic, one hour conversation that apparently the senior White House official also confirmed to you. Trump saying 15 minutes is unfortunately just not credible as we've seen on so many of these issues around specifically the U.S.-Russia discussion.
COOPER: And, Ian in terms of this other details, where in the room was it? Do you know -- I mean, other people were around -- other world leaders were around watching this you said?
BREMMER: Yes. I mean, look, there were a lot of empty seats because a number of the leaders and their spouses that were supposed to be in attendance, didn't actually come. And so as a consequence, you know, Trudeau's wife, for example, was seated by herself at the beginning with empty seats on either side. I believe there was an empty seat near Putin.
So Trump gets up, leaves the Japanese Prime Minister about midway through the meal. The meal is about three and a half hours long. Trump goes over to Putin. My understanding was it was either-- it was right at the table or right next to it and was -- and started engaging in this conversation, which now we hear, is about adoption, read sanctions, and frankly, who knows what else. COOPER: Ambassador Pickering, when you hear the details of this, I mean, there's a big difference between a 15-minute meeting in which, you know, pleasantries can be exchanged and a discussion of nearly an hour. Do you say that -- Do you see a difference in that? Or do you believe there is?
THOMAS PICKERING, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: I do, Anderson, and I think it's self-evident. And I think Ian has made that very clear. But my sense is that a conversation that long is probably half interpretation time and half statements on each side. That's still a half hour. A half hour is long time in the international conversation. And talking about critical subjects can consume a half an hour very easily. And I think we're now seeing some of the results of that.
I understand that the Syrian rebels are no longer going to be supported by the United States. One wonders where that came from and how it's fitted in either to that context or perhaps other things that one way or another, are part of the U.S.-Russian dialogue.
[20:45:12] I think it's important not to, in fact, let the messenger here be the problem so much as understanding that it is important for Putin and Trump to talk, where there are allied jealousies. And it was I think unwise to do this in front of allies with all the invidious comparisons. But allied jealousy is aside on this kind of thing.
The U.S. and Russia have been in a deep hole. If Putin and Trump can dig us out in a serious way, fine. But it doesn't look like we have the great deal maker at work here if, in fact, we're unilaterally ceasing something that was very much in our interest and part of our way of dealing with the Syrian problem, was to support the opposition to Assad, who we would like to see gone.
So, those are important pieces to look at. And I think we don't know. We'll perhaps find out, we perhaps won't find out if there's no U.S. record.
COOPER: It's interesting, Ian, that President Trump telling the New York Times, telling Maggie Haberman that the issue of adoptions came up. Obviously, on the Russian side -- I mean, he was just saying it came up. I'm not sure if he means he brought it up or if Putin brought it up. But if Putin brought it up, I mean adoptions for Russia means sanctions.
BREMMER: That's exactly right. And so -- I mean, clearly Putin has been talking about the need to remove these sanctions for some time. Another interesting point, in addition to the very appropriate one that Tom just brought up, is that the Russians have given the Americans an ultimatum that they want these two properties back and they're not going to do anything, they're not going to engage in a deal to return them. And in the last two days, we've heard from the Russians that indeed they're very close to an agreement with the Trump administration to get these properties back, where they were engaging in illegal surveillance in the United States, one up in New York and one here near D.C. Again, is there a qid for that quo? Was this discussed between Trump and Putin privately? The Russians are the only ones with a readout and maybe a tape-recording of that that conversation. I think all of that is deeply problematic for the United States and Russia.
And I think one of my big concerns is that Trump gets played here, that, you know, he doesn't have his national security advisor or team. He doesn't have any expertise on this issue. In the same way that when he was in Saudi Arabia, we saw the Saudis and others hosting him very well and then saying, you're a great guy Trump. And by the way, those evil Iranians and Qatar is supporting them. Trump comes out and does that. And then we suddenly have a move against Qatar by our allies and Tillerson and Mattis have to clean it up.
To what extent is Trump acting by himself with a very savvy Russian president going to end up giving away the store. I think that has to be the concern here.
COOPER: Ambassador Pickering, I mean, have you ever heard anything like this before? Because I think people listening to this will, you know, those who like President Trump are going to say, well, look, what's the big deal. President, he should talk to Putin. Others who are, you know, don't have confidence with President Trump will be concerned about this. Have you heard of something like this happening before where there's not someone from the U.S. president or there's not talking points that the president has or anything?
PICKERING: Well, I don't know whether there were talking points or not Anderson. What I do think is unusual is not to have at least one interpret from the U.S. side. Now, it may have been that it was unplanned and he had the Japanese-speaking interpret, and he thought he had to go over there and do some business. But it was unwise to put himself in the hands of a situation where if there are any differences in interpretation, there are two Russian texts, two Russians will agree and he will be out there alone.
And I don't think Putin wants to, in a sense publically nail him to the wall in a set of verbal arguments at the present time. It's not in Putin's interest particularly if he's doing well. And Ian has pointed out that. But it is, I think, extremely unusual to do that.
I do know that in the Oval Office, there are often meetings with heads of state in which part of the meeting is a group meeting and part of the meeting is a one-on-one with interpreters if that's necessary. And that's obviously to settle carefully prepared business often worked up in advance and very much part and parcel of a government clearance process in which they say, Mr. President, we recommend you do this. And the president usually says, yes, I agree or I'm going to do something else, go prepare that for me. But unprepared and certainly, at this stage, unverifiable in a very uncertain set of relationships with Russia has its dangers. And I think one needs to be concerned about that.
COOPER: All right, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Ian Bremmer, I appreciate you both being on. Thank you so much.
PICKERING: Thank you.
COOPER: When we come back, we have more breaking news. We're going to size up the impact human as well as political and economic if there's new CBO numbers on Obamacare repeal.
[20:53:20] COOPER: To our other breaking news tonight, the CBO score of a straight Obamacare repeal without a simultaneous replacement plan. The agency says that 32 million fewer people would be insured by 2026 under the bill and premiums would skyrocket. Report also reveals that it would decrease the deficit by $473 billion over a decade. And this is likely a topic for a group of senators and White House staffers meeting on Capitol Hill that's where we find CNN's Ryan Nobles with more. So what have you learned about tonight's meeting?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there's certainly a broad group of senators that are in this meeting which is still taking place at this late hour on Capitol Hill. You had moderates like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and conservatives like Ted Cruz. And their goal tonight would be to try and find some sort of a way around this impasse that divide the moderate and conservative wings of the party to try and move forward with a bill that they could put on the floor next week that would vote repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time.
And the White House is involved in this meeting as well. We saw Chief of Staff Reince Priebus walk in not too long ago. But even though this meeting looks good and even though we got a lot of happy talk today out of not just senators but the White House as well. Aides are cautioning us that these fundamental problems that exist between these two wings of the party still exist and they are a long way away from cutting any sort of deal.
COOPER: And Ryan, I mean the CBO reports saying that 32 million fewer people would have health care coverage, explain more about what the report says.
NOBLES: Well, the CBO score was really devastating for the Republicans on a number of levels. I mean you've talked earlier about how it will impact a number of people on insurance. There was somewhat of a deficit decrease in that report but the real problem is what it says is going to happen to premium costs. And that's long been the argument of Republican that repeal would lead to lower premiums.
[20:55:05] Now, Republicans would only argue that this is only about the repeal portion of their plan and that even if they only repeal, they have got a plan to replace Obamacare within two years. But it's important to keep in mind that some of these provisions would take place right away. So that is one of big reasons why even though you heard talk about putting repeal only on the table first, that it's really the desire of almost all Republicans to do repeal and replace at the same time. The problem is, they're just having such a hard time coming up with an agreement that everyone can get on board with.
COOPER. Yes. Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.
The White House just weighed in on the CBO numbers saying the reports methodology is flawed because it doesn't take into account the President's full plan which includes an Obamacare replacement. As for the President himself, he is blamed the Democrats for the Republican's failure to get health care reform done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUM, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The way I looked at it, you know, we have no Democrat help. They're obstructionists. That's all they're good at is obstruction. They have no ideas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Democrats are pushing back saying hey, wait, we do have our own plans that includes Senator Joe Manchin in West Virginia I spoke to him earlier.
COOPER: Senator Manchin, the CBO score, 32 million Americans will lose insurance by 2026, average premiums will also -- will double by then, how much does that change the equation here or does have?
JOE MANCHIN, (D) SENATOR, WEST VIRGINIA: Well, not a nice thing it does and from my point of view it doesn't from saying, you know, we're going to save $470 billion. That's a lot of money and we need to be as cost effective as we possibly can.
But I can tell you, Anderson, to people, the 32 million people that are going to lose their health care are going to be much more expensive than that and they haven't score that. What happens to them when they go back to the way they were getting health care before? In West Virginia, if you don't have health care, you go to the emergency room. If you're working and don't have health care to workplace you're going to basically claim Worker's Comp. So you're using health care at the most expensive level that you possible can.
COOPER: And that's money taxpayers are paying?
MANCHIN: That's exactly. When I was Governor I had every hospital coming to me and says, hey Governor, I need 12 million, I need 15 million. I give all this share that to care away (ph), people came and they couldn't pay. So I know what it does and the toll it takes in stages.
COOPER: So I mean over the last 48 hours, President Trump has talked about repeal and replace, he's got then talked about just repealing to let it fail and today back to repeal and replace. What do you make of the President's approach and for you, what is the priority? Is it the insurance networks and propping them up?
MANCHIN: I've tried to remind the President and the White House, you know, the President got elected with one of which are tremendous margin in West Virginia and those were mostly Democrats. These were people that were upset with the previous administration, who thought they wanted somebody unorthodox and it changed. They didn't think they were electing may be somebody partisan like it's been before what they were upset about. So I would say to the President said there's a lot of Democrats, a lot of people that are going to be hurt. There's not one demographic group in my state that does not going to be affected, Anderson.
COOPER. Is there actually, I mean, you know, a lot of people talk about bipartisanship. I talked to Governor Kasich just yesterday about it. Do you really believe that's possible? I mean we're talking about Washington, D.C., where there's a lot of politics involved and each side has a reason to not cooperate with the other.
MANCHIN: Anderson, we have 11 former governors and United States senators right now. We have four Republicans. We have six Democrats and one Independent. So we started talking informally, nothing formal, just informal --
COOPER: Former Governor, talking about in the senate?
MANCHIN: Well, I'm a former governor for West Virginia. We have former governors, 11 of us we're recovering governors because it was the greatest job in the world because we could get things done. But we are used to in our work confinement as a governor of our state, bringing contentious legislators together, finding a purpose of moving forward, understanding the challenges every state has. We understand that. We think that we can add some clarity to this and also some bipartisanship. That's what we're working on. So I've said if the governors can't do it, nobody is going to do it here.
COOPER: Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer yesterday, you know, said that Democrats are open to working with Republicans, the door is open. He did seem to put several preconditions on that cooperation. Should there be preconditions on getting Democrats to sit at the table?
MANCHIN: The only precondition we need is we're not going to repeal it and the other precondition we need is that we're going to go through a regular order. We're going to sit down and be able to dissect the bill. Anybody who has an idea, an amendment that comes before it goes through this process. That's the way this place is supposed to work, that's the way the legislatures work, that's the way the United States Senate should work. We haven't done that for quite some time. That's the only preconditions you should have. Anybody else that has an idea, good, bad or indifferent should be discussed.
COOPER: But I mean can Republicans who have campaigned for years on repeal and replace, can they go back to voters in 2018 or 2020 with a plan that hasn't done either, which has still kept Obamacare in place. And, you know, to your point, tries to make it better and make more efficient?
[21:00:07] MANCHIN: Anderson, I can't speak for anybody else. I can only tell you how I approach a process.