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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mexico Quake Death Toll Rises To 273; Catastrophic "Harvey- Like" Flooding In Puerto Rico; Facebook Turning Over Russian Ads To Investigators In Congress; Axios: Investigators May Want Sean Spicer's Notebook; GOP Seeking Votes In Last-Ditch Fight To End Obamacare. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 21, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:27] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Two breaking stories topof the hour tonight. New rescues and fresh heartaches in the rubble of Mexico's earthquake zone and Puerto Rico in the dark, crippled by Hurricane Maria is still damaging storm now on the move.
I want to start with the storm with CNN's Allison Chinchar in the weather center. Allison, do we know, is Maria on track to hit the east coast of the U.S.?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's not likely, necessary to make a direct land fall. But I would like to point out that that doesn't mean folks along the east coast will have absolutely no impact.
So let's take a look at where it is right now. We've got winds at 125 miles per hour. That was up as of the latest advisory. The track at least in the short term continues to push it up into the Atlantic. This is a good thing because it's going to encounter much cooler water. Hurricanes, tropical storms, they need more warm water for fuel. So this is good news especially for folks along the east coast, they will be closely watching the storm. Because that means, as it follows up these yellow lines, those are all of the models. You can see even though a direct landfall does not look likely at this time, it's still close enough that we're likely to have some pretty significant impacts especially, say, from North Carolina all the way up to Massachusetts, perhaps even further than that. But that you're talking about 10 days out.
The main threat for folks in North Carolina to Massachusetts would be coastal flooding, the beach erosion and very gusty winds, tropical storm strength. And we've actually already even seen that, Anderson, from some of the folks that have been dealing with Jose over the last few days.
COOPER: Where are the immediate areas of concern?
CHINCHAR: Right, so in the short term, the main areas of concern are going to be further down to the south, the Turks & Caicos, as the storm continues to push up towards the north and east.
However, it's still producing some outer bands across the areas of Puerto Rico. This is not good. Look at how much rain these area has already seen. These are numbers similar to what we saw in Houston with Hurricane Harvey. Garcia, Puerto Rico, picking up almost 38 inches of rain. Lomas picking up nearly two feet of rain. And now we're talking about adding maybe just another inch or two which may not seem like that much, but it's enough to cause more problems for Puerto Rico.
All of the island is under either a flood warning or a flash flood warning. This is not only a problem in the short term, but you also have you to look at the long term angle of this as well Anderson, because rivers -- rivers are going to take days to crest, and then weeks to come back down to normal. So even after the floodwaters recede from the streets, you're still going to have river flooding be a problem for at least the next three to four weeks.
COOPER: Just incredible, Allison Chinchar, appreciate that.
As we've been seeing tonight, the full impact of this storm is only now becoming apparent in Puerto Rico. CNN's Layla Santiago joins us now from San Juan. What's the latest you're seeing there now?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we have spent the day out in areas that are just devastated. About 10 miles this way, you will find Catano, Puerto Rico and that is where we found people trying to just get across the road and really, it's not even a road. It is a river from the air. You can see how roofs have been just of ripped off of homes. I mean, you kind of can look into someone's home and see their lives on display. That is the power of Hurricane Maria. We watch as people walked across, again, not roads, but more like rivers which is a few bags in their hands. They just grabbed maybe a few snacks, pillows, clothing to get to shelter. In many cases they were carrying pets.
But again, as we talked about last night, still one of the big issues is power, 100 percent of the island not having power right now, only those that can get to generators, but also, the first thing people still ask me is, do you have signal? People desperate to find out the condition of loved ones who they can't get to because of flooding, because of debris, and loved ones who can't get out because of that same reason.
Now the government tonight has announced that FEMA has critical supplies right now enroute to Puerto Rico and that is via ship, Anderson.
COOPER: What are -- I mean, just some of the main priorities now that the storm has passed?
SANTIAGO: So, power for the government. I mean, they have already -- before Maria even came here, the government said that they believed that it would take not days, not weeks, but rather months to restore power. Remember, this is a power system that lacks maintenance and infrastructure. And so power is going to be a big deal. And then the communication issue, not just for Puerto Ricans on this island, for tourists on this island, but also, as I spoke to emergency management officials right now, just trying to work logistics, just trying to get to the people who need help. Even they are dealing with a communication issue.
[21:05:16] So many factors, debris, floods, roads that you can't use. Major roads, interstates, communication, power, it's just a combination of factors that for many Puerto Ricans on this island tonight, it's a nightmare.
COOPER: Yes, Leyla Santiago, appreciate it.
Earlier tonight I spoke with San Juan's mayor. She says the city she knew simply no longer exists. And the people's lives are in jeopardy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: People that are at home are elderly, they don't have their insulin, they lost their heart medications, they lost their blood pressure medications. And if we don't get to them in time, it is those that I cannot get to that really worry me the most.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: San Juan's mayor. Tonight joins us by phone is Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
COOPER: Mr. Ramos, what can you tell us about the extent of the damage to the power grid?
RICARDO RAMOS, CEO, PUERTO RICO ELECTRIC POWER AUTHORITY (via telephone): Well, Anderson, the whole island has actually been devastated and so has the electric power system. You know, we have -- we expect that today on two of the transmission lines, and we found over 40 transmission line towers completely crumbled. And on other areas, we found conductors down. And we still have no communications with two of our power plants. So it's devastating.
COOPER: And I mention in some areas, there's still flooding, so even beginning to work on that is going to be difficult. How long do you foresee taking to get power restored?
RAMOS: Well, you know, we're working on priorities first and foremost. The same level of priorities, we have the hospitals and the water system, water treatment plants and pumping stations. We have a plan that will shortly bring power to at least the central medical center, which is our largest public facility for medical services and where the federal government and the several health aid is going to be operating from. So at least that center should have power within the next three days. So --
COOPER: Those hospitals, do they have -- I assume they have generators now?
RAMOS: They do have generators. But those are emergency generators, they need to be stopped, you know, frequently for oil and filter changes.
RAMOS: And some of them are somewhat outdated.
COOPER: Even before the hurricane hit, I know your company was facing some serious issues, including, but not limited to needing $4 billion to update outdated power plants. Is that fair to say that you were facing big struggles before this?
RAMOS: Well, preparation there, title 3 under the law, which is basically a title, you know, a bankruptcy scenario, and we were requesting liquidity needs of our bills to $1 billion per year, for the next 10 years, in order to update the power generation system.
RAMOS: And, you know, it's completely outdated.
RAMOS: But, you know, this administration with the Governor Rossello, our plan was to modernize PREPA as quickly as possible, and make it a utility of the future. But, you know, we face two major storms and this one is, you know, doesn't have any precedence at least in the last 100 years.
COOPER: So what's your message to people in Puerto Rico who are facing months without power? What do you tell?
RAMOS: So, our message is that, you know, we'll be working as hard as possible. We're getting aide. We're getting manpower from the United States. We hope that we can beat the timeline that we have said before, for example in Hugo, that hurricane had us six months without re-establishing total power. But as I told you, with the medical centers, some people will get, you know, power in the next weeks, and progressive effort.
And -- so people that we will identify people, that it will take a long time, we will let them know.
RAMOS: And so that they can take the proper measures. You know, people that use medical devices that need power, should relocate to family homes or to the shelters. And, you know, we'll be working as fast as possible, of course, keeping our people safe.
COOPER: Ricardo Ramos, you got a big job ahead of you, I appreciate your time tonight, thank you.
RAMOS: Thank you very much Anderson.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, the earthquake, the latest from Mexico, for the first time area is closer to the quakes epicenter.
[21:13:39] COOPER: The death toll in Mexico climbed again today. It's now approaching 300. But that number is all that certain to change and most likely climb because people are still unaccounted for or trapped in the rubble, their condition unknown.
Natural disasters not only caused by changing destruction, they also bring chaos and confusion. The case in point the school in Mexico City, were so many children died. There were search had been underway for a girl believed to still be trapped, that turned out not to be the case.
Today we learned that everyone survivors and the deceased have been accounted for part of the fog of war in these circumstances.
In addition, we're just now getting access to areas beyond the capitol, in the state of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, the quake damaged a church killing a girl who was being baptized as well as 11 others. State wide more than 9700 homes, 100 plus government buildings were damaged in the tremors, elsewhere it's even worse. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now from one location. What's the damage -- where are you and what's the damage like?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm in a town here called Jojutla, Anderson. It's in Morelos State which suffered scores of casualties in Tuesday's deadly earthquake. At least 73 people killed in the state.
Now what you see as you come to this small market town, some buildings like this, a number of adjoining two story homes that all kind of came down in a pile of rubble. Most of the buildings are still standing, but there is a great deal of kind of structural damage right now.
[21:20:06] So much of the downtown is blocked off right now. Businesses closed and residents have had to move out because one of the big fears they tell me, is aftershocks that could bring down homes, buildings that are already somewhat damaged already.
We do see a large presence of police, of army, and civil defense as well. And they seem to be doing part of the work of trying to protect some of the streets, and especially now that darkness has set in, but there are some good sides to this. Street lamps are working right now, there's some electricity here. And what's remarkable is in the two days since the destruction and death and the shock of the earthquake. A lot of the roads here have already been cleaned up, Anderson.
COOPER: I know on your journey there, you encounter a lot of people who were volunteers, who wanted to help?
WATSON: That's really something that's incredible about this. And you may be hearing applause, this is from volunteers who are in the area here helping clean up. On our drive from Mexico City, we passed convoy after convoy of people driving, a passenger vehicles with handwritten signs saying they're bringing assistance. And everywhere you turn in this town and in the surrounding areas, you see volunteers who are distributing everything from medical supplies to food to drinks. A woman came up offering me water just now, so there's an incredible grassroots mobilization, not just in the capitol, but it's spread out into the countryside. And it's not just ordinary Mexicans, it's international as well. I came in on a flight today from Tokyo with Japanese disaster relief, with a team of helmeted uniformed, Japanese workers. And when they arrived at Mexico City airport, they were greeted by applause, by cheers and tears of gratitude. As everybody comes --
WATSON: -- to try to help Mexico in the wake of this deadly natural disaster, Anderson.
COOPER: Ivan, just in terms of the noise we're herring around you, is that an area where people are being searched for? What is the applause about? Is it just sort of encouraging searchers or what?
WATSON: There are volunteers who are helping clean away some of the rubble. I'm not sure what they were cheering about just now, but there's also a great deal of pride that I'm hearing from volunteers, students. I talked to a 15-year-old high school student who had been out helping clean things up. One of the things the volunteers say they need is kind of basically port-a-potties because the a lot of the -- kind of sewage treatment is messed up right now. So people who can't be in their homes right now, that's one of the things that people say they need on the ground right now.
But again, I don't think I've ever seen quite such a mobilization on a grassroots level of volunteers as I've seen here in the wake of this natural disaster.
COOPER: Ivan Watson, appreciate that report.
Just after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, I had the honor of watching the work of the Los Angeles County Fire Departments Urban Search and Rescue Team, they were in Port-au-Prince. One of the people we talked to on the ground as they work to try to save countless people was Captain Jason Vasquez. Part of his team is now in Mexico. Captain Vasquez joins me now.
Captain, thanks so much for being with us. When you see the destruction in Mexico and you see the huge crowds of people working on a site. Is it -- obviously is there a challenge with having so many people on one site? Is there a benefit to having fewer people or is it -- is just more hands better?
CAPT. JASON VASQUEZ, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPT. URBAN SEARCH & RESCUE TEAM: Well, when U.S. they sent us down to Haiti, we had a search team who is fast lighting mobile and looking for worksites for our rescue teams to follow us up and actually rescue those victims. So kind of break it up into a search component and then a rescue component. As one site is being worked on, we'll have a small team out looking for other worksites for our guys, so we're not wasting any time. COOPER: I was with your team when a woman came up to your team on a street, a mother who said her daughter was trapped and we're showing some of the video from back then. And your team spent -- I mean, just heroic hours combing through that wreckage, putting in sensors, sending the dog in, you believed -- you heard something, people believed -- the dogs seemed to indicate life, and then sadly after many hours, there was no more sign of it. I'm just wondering, just in terms of how much does -- is this -- like technology dependent, you know, having those sensors, having those microphones that you can put down, those listening devices, even cameras and the dogs.
VASQUEZ: Well, each one of those components in itself is equal to its worth. And the listening devices can listen through concrete up about to 20 feet, very accurate. The rescue cameras will give us location of the body. And the rest (ph) you're talking about was actually pretty interesting because that one we had half our team working on that site. We went walking distance was probably a city block. And right now that city block the next morning that's when we rescued three victims.
[21:20:12] COOPER: Wow.
VASQUEZ: So we were still in that fast lighting mobile stage. We maybe stopped the search around 10:00. And then we did some more searching in that evening, and our crews went to work that morning.
COOPER: That's incredible. How long have you seen someone pulled out of the wreckage still alive after an event like this? I can't remember in Haiti, I remember there was an elderly woman pulled out, I think, more than a week after but -- what have you seen in your career?
VASQUEZ: I believe the max I've seen is about 10 days. So -- but that's not saying somebody can be stuck, just stuck somewhere with food and water, and that going to extend their life span. Also, depending on the condition of the person. Are they just in (INAUDIBLE) or they have something on them, are they trapped. But that woman we were talking about, that lady was pinched for a few days and it was close to seven days into it, we got her out.
COOPER: That's just incredible. And you -- is it -- am I right in saying that you sort of create a grid of an area, and sort of each team is responsible for that grid?
VASQUEZ: Yes, so one of our trainings is just set -- getting the area in sectorizing it up, and just like you said a grid. And then we'll focus a heavy team on each one of those grids, so we're not wasting time, because right now, time is our enemy right now.
COOPER: Well, Captain Vasquez, I appreciate you taking time to talk to us. I've never forgotten the hours I spent watching your team, just extraordinarily professionals doing their job, and as you said, moving on to save other lives. So thank you for that, and thank you for talking to us tonight.
VASQUEZ: Thank you, sir. Have a good night. COOPER: Coming up next, the Russian investigation, and major change of face when it comes to providing possible evidence from Facebook. We'll have details when we continue.
[21:25:16] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. A reversal by Facebook, the company is saying that in a matter of days it's going to give Congressional investigators 3,000 ads linked to Russian accounts that were designed to influence the presidential election.
Now, just last night in the program Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talked about why he believes this is so important?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: At first Facebook said, there's no "there" there, and increasingly, we're seeing paid advertising, fake accounts. We're seeing efforts to try to drive people to rallies. I wish that Facebook would be more transparent and forthcoming. Most Americans want to know if foreign based paid advertising is coming into our elections. And I think most Americans are going to want to know if fake accounts by foreigners are driving content and that we ought to be able to take a look at that content.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's talk this over with our panel. Joining me is Molly Ball, Soct Jennings, Christine Quinn, Errol Louis, and Bianna Golodryga.
Molly, should they be giving over -- I mean, because that's, you know, there's obviously a desire to protect their advertisers, protect people who do business with Facebook?
MOLLY BALL, POLITICAL WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Right, and we've seen this before, we've seen technology companies be caught in a bind where -- on the one hand they don't want to be seen as compromising the privacy of their users. That is obviously been a huge quagmire (ph) for Facebook in the past where they're been accused of compromising people privacy. So they're sensitive on that side probably to want to not provide internal information to the government.
But then, this is a different matter, and this is something that they haven't had to grapple with before this issue of propaganda. This issue of who their advertisers are. So I think we're very much seeing this play out in realtime as they try to make these calculations and figure out where their values are.
COOPER: Scott, there is also "Daily Beast" report that a Russian propaganda used Facebook to organized more than a dozen pro Trump rallies in Florida last year. It's fascinating the degree to which -- I mean, I don't think five years ago anyone would have thought or 10years ago -- I don't know when Facebook started, but five years ago anyone who have thought that Facebook would have such a role in a U.S. election.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, some people believe the 2016 election was the Facebook election. I mean, the number of people who use their news feed to get all of the information for the day is huge. You know, the total spending on federal campaign in 2016 was $6.8 billion. I think they've identified about $100,000 in Facebook ads, so, proverbial drop in the bucket.
However, it's important to identify it, and it's important I think to do what Facebook has said they're going to do. Be transparent, crack down on bad actors and proactively work with Congress.
I've wondered about how we should view Facebook today. And I'm thinking about the way we view other telecommunications platforms. I mean, if someone were to abuse, say, automated telephone call, we don't get mad at the phone company, we get mad at the bad actors. And some people are mad at Facebook today. I don't know the answer to this question but it's interesting to me, are they a telecommunications platform or a news organization?
COOPER: What do you think it means, though, I mean, Christine, what do you think it means for the investigation? If Facebook is handing over -- I mean, how important do you think it could be or not important?
CHRISTINE QUINN, PRESIDENT & CEO, WIN: Before -- I just want to make one point of clarification, Scott. When you said a $100,000, right, versus the 6.0 billion. That's little apple to oranges, because -- like the most people know that buying ads on social media platforms even like Facebook are incredibly cheap, compared to buying television spots. So it sounds like it was nothing, but that actually isn't nothing in a Facebook social media purchase. So I just don't want the viewers to be confused by that.
JENNINGS: $100,000 out of 6 billion is still a very small amount of money. I agree with you it's easy to buy social media ads and they do have large impact --
QUINN: -- you're minimizing.
COOPER: Right, they're more targeted to an audience a specific audience than an ad running --
QUINN: And I think that's a little Trump spin to keep things down, and that's all we know of it as others are saying. But, look, you know, there's an interesting parallel in this to me, if you look back a couple of years ago, when really the issue of online bullying and online sexual predators started to get more attention, maybe eight years ago or so. And Facebook and the other platforms said, there's nothing we can do. We have to be hands off. All we can do is help train parents. But then that perspective evolved, and they knew they had to -- had a responsibility. I think we're seeing this here too, they're saying they have a responsibility. But -- and I think we'll continue to see that evolution at social media. But from an investigative perspective, I mean, the sense that this was ever going to be a narrow focus on just one aspect relating to Russia that, you know, Sean Spicer and others called fake news, well, that's blown out of the water. We're now bringing Facebook into it. They're part of the investigation.
COOPER: Well, also, do you believe that this is going to happen again in the next --
COOPER: -- next round, --
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's new.
COOPER: -- it's only going to increase with sites like Facebook and others.
[21:29:56] LOUIS: That's right. They built this gigantic world spending machine, and it's a little ironic, but perfectly appropriate that it's now through that very social network that they're being called to account that people understand that $100,000 that's pretty targeted and can do all kinds of fancy stuff is an enormous amount of money, you know, if it was a radio station, if it was a television station, that was like, you know, pumping out stuff to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, with targeted messages, we'd all be pretty clear that there was something seriously going on. A violation of the laws that problem hit foreign interference in our election.
So, Facebook can't, you know, they sponsored some presidential debates, for God's sake, they're taking Zuckerberg on this tour, you know, as if he's going to be a national candidate, and they still might be. So they can't have it both ways. You can't get that deep into politics and then say, we're just -- a platform, we're just the phone company.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and Facebook is really facing the unintended consequences of having two billion users, from a business perspective, everyone was in awe with how quick this company grew. I was more surprised that early on as soon as people started questioning Facebook's role they were quick to be defensive and say, we had absolutely no involvement in this election at all. All we are is a social networking site. So the fact that they're complying right now, I think could just be some catchup on Zuckerberg's, you know, --
COOPER: I recently saw this piece on "60 Minutes" about brain hacking and how companies target people. And one of the people had said to me, a guy that works in (INAUDIBLE) said, you know, we all think we're the customers of Facebook, we're not the customers of Facebook, Coca Cola and the advertisers, they're the customers, they're the ones who are paying. Nobody is paying for Facebook.
BALL: Well, publishers are also the customers of Facebook, right? I mean, I write for a magazine that has a website and we get a great --
BALL: -- the vast majority of our traffic comes from Facebook. We're utterly dependent on Facebook because that's where so many people get their news. And so, we are at the mercy of this sort of opaque (ph) machine that controls what people get to see. They tweak the algorithm and all of the sudden it completely changes the economics of the news business. And they have always wanted to have that power without the responsibility.
COOPER: We're going to move. We'll have more from the panel. Up more on the Russia investigation when we comeback including a possible new catch of documents from Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, details on that next.
[21:35:52] COOPER: Staying on the Russia investigation, there's new reporting from Axios tonight about potential trove of information and evidence from inside the West Wing. According to Axios, Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer reported kept detailed notes of every meeting at the White House, the campaign and his time at the RNC. When asked about that on "Good Morning America" today, Sean Spicer did this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA FARIS, ABC NEWS: Let's talk about the Russia issue which seems to be plaguing the presidency. Has the Mueller team reached out to you about --
SEAN SPICER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to discuss that issue at all.
FARIS: Have you hired a lawyer?
SPICER: I'm not going to discuss that issue at all?
FARIS: So you haven't been subpoenaed?
SPICER: I'm not going to discuss that issue at all.
FARIS: Did you ever hear inside the White House that Mueller should be fired?
SPICER: I'm not going to discuss that issue at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Vice president Pence was also asked about the Russia investigation at CBS this morning?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've made clear that during my time on the campaign, I was not aware of any contacts or any collusion with Russian officials. I stand by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: During his time on the campaign, not aware of, that's not a wholehearted denial. I want to bring back in the panel. The idea that Sean Spicer was keeping these detailed notes it makes sense. But, does it make sense? So worked on --
JENNINGS: No, it actually doesn't make sense.
COOPER: It doesn't, really?
JENNINGS: No, you shouldn't write everything down. That's inadvisable. So if you're in the White House and or you're about to go to work there, my advice, don't necessarily write --
COOPER: -- if you want to write a book later it makes sense.
JENNINGS: Yes, but here's the thing. This is what happens you write everything down and an investigation starts. And -- I mean, this is how these things unravel. And so I just -- I was little stunned when I heard that today, frankly.
BALL: Well the other reason to write --
JENNINGS: So the advice you would get --
JENNINGS: -- from probably lawyers and others who had been around before is don't do that.
BALL: But the reason to write everything down is if you don't trust the people around you, and you want to protect yourself. Think about why James Comey was writing everything down. He wanted a contemporaneous record, so that if he was accused of something or might forget something about something that he felt weird about, that he thought was iky (ph), then he could point to notes from that time. And I'm not saying that that's what happened here, but that would be one reason other than writing a memoir or write a bad memory.
GOLODRYGA: This could have been his m.o. before he even -- became a part of a campaign. I mean, everyone seemed to know that he was a meticulous note taker so it may not be just specifically Trump related. It could just be Sean Spicer -- taking notes, but it is something that every single person that knew him seemed to be aware of. So you can't back away from that matter.
COOPER: There's an Axios quote, this quote a White House official saying, "People are going to wish they've been nicer to Sean, he was in a lot of meetings." Nice.
LOUIS: Yes, you do get to settle some scores. The grand daddy of all of these situations is Richard Nixon, right? Who sets up a wiretapping system, so that his advisers and his generals could not later say the president didn't follow my advice on Vietnam, right? He invents the very machine that is the engine of his destruction, right?
So, you've got to really be careful with this stuff. If you want to settle scores, if you want to sort to fight with people, if you want to make sure everybody knows that you are right. If you want to sort of, you know, maybe protect yourself a little bit legally, it creates a much bigger problem than you might realize.
COOPER: You know, we asked Jeff Toobin about whether Spicer's notes would be covered under or any kind of executive privilege. He said the key issue would be whether the information is central to the functioning of the executive branch against the competing need from law enforcement or Congress.
QUINN: I think it's very -- I mean, I think Jeffrey out correctly but from my -- there could be very unlikely, that this would end up getting covered by executive privilege and not come in to the investigation. I would be very, you know, very surprised.
COOPER: -- by your reaction that -- I mean, it was -- I mean, I have never worked in the White House, my thought was like, everybody must be taking extensive notes.
JENNINGS: No, I don't think that's the case. You know, something everybody does, though, the whole course is e-mail.
JENNINGS: And so, in addition to writing everything down, people tend to e-mail everything back and forth to each other. So there's a whole separate record that I guess will have to get sorted out by the lawyers at some point. I was stunned when I heard there was a line by line diary. It was a stunning --
COOPER: When you're working -- I mean, do people e-mail each other in a casual way like, oh my gosh, can you believe that meet --
COOPER: And stuff like that, or do people have a sense of, you know what, this is best something talked about over coffee maybe at the Starbucks down the block?
[21:39:59] JENNINGS: Well, I mean, yes, people e-mail each other casually. I had, you know, I said there's some investigation I was interviewed for some investigations and, yes, every -- all the casual banter gets brought up, because you might be having casual banter and then three e-mails later, oh by the way, I forgot, I went the to this policy meeting. Well, then all of that now is --
JENNINGS: -- in the matrix, and so I would think in this day and age, given everything we know about how no e-mail is really ever private, people would be doing that less. But I'm stunned everyday by e-mails I get from people thinking, why did you put that in an e-mail? And so, you know, it's better to be discrete and less is more. COOPER: Snapchat.
QUINN: -- to run the government.
You know, the thing about the Spicer interview, though, the way he kept saying I'm not going to talk about that or whatever the phrase he used over and over and over.
QUINN: That is the way somebody who is under investigation and has lawyered up. Answers --
JENNINGS: You can't say he's under investigation.
QUINN: I'm telling you --
JENNINGS: You can't say he's under investigation.
COOPER: I know it's just a wise way to answer.
JENNINGS: There's no doubt he's probably a witness, but you can't say on T.V. tonight he's under investigation. We don't know that.
QUINN: I didn't say he was. I said those questions were answered in the way somebody who is under investigation and lawyered up answers them.
JENNINGS: Also a way witness would be coached to answer.
QUINN: You know what, a way that somebody who is either under investigation or part of an investigation and has lawyered up answers questions.
COOPER: But it's also -- just smart -- I mean, if there are -- you know there are investigations going on, whether you're going to be called in or whether you have been called in or whether you're focus of it or going to be witness, whatever. It's probably just better to say, --
COOPER: I'm not going to responded to that at all.
QUINN: Or maybe not to give interviews at all.
COOPER: That's true. I mean, clearly he's looking for a gig, you know and --
(CROSSTALK) BALL: -- everyone should agree to go on television.
COOPER: Oh, I'm sorry --
BALL: But I don't know why you take that call.
LOUIS: -- it underscores the fact that Mueller is not conducting some sort of broad hypothetical academic inquiry, he's looking for evidence of crimes, he's looking to sort of find if there's somebody who can be put in handcuffs.
LOUIS: Everybody is lawyering up for exactly that reason.
COOPER: There's hammering upstairs, so I'm not going to raise my voice about it. Everyone stick around really.
Up next, the latest on Senate Republicans effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, he heat over it and the question over whether it'll pass.
Also, what one GOP senator is saying now about the political realities behind the pressure when we come back.
[21:46:20] COOPER: Senate Republican leaders are in the final days of their latest push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. They're facing sharp criticism over the bill namely that is being pushed through too quickly with limited committee hearings and public input.
The actual content of the legislation is also under fire, at least on the GOP. One GOP senator, though, seems less concerned about that. Here's what Senator Chuck Grassley told Iowa reporters according to "The Des Moines Register," "You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of reason as the substance of the bill." I want to bring back in the panel.
Bianna, were you surprised to hear Grassley saying that?
GOLODRYGA: At this point no. Because I think most people know how unpopular this bill is. The question of, whether they just come to pressure maybe from donors, but -- I mean, the question is did they make a short term decision now that could end up biting them in midterms and years to come? Because you're going to see a lot of their constituents actually suffer if we're to believe these numbers that we're starting to see. And we don't have a CBO score yet.
GOLODRYGA: And if we do get one so it's going to be partial.
COOPER: So -- I mean, Scott, is this about politics or policy?
JENNINGS: Well, I think the politics are important here. I think the senators went home in August and they got an earful from constituents about why they had failed to keep their campaign promises. I think keeping campaign promises is very important. I think one of the most compelling arguments for conservatives on this is the concept of federalism, returning power and money to state governments, putting health care decisions closer to the patients.
As Senator Graham says, I read a fascinating article a national review by a guy named Berny Belvedere. He pointed out that state governments can't print money. And so if you're a fiscal conservative and you want fiscal restraint in our National health care system. Well, federal government can just print money to make up shortfalls. But state governments cannot. And so, the argument was, fiscal conservatives ought to get behind this bill. There's a lot of angles to this, but I think politics -- I'm a proponent of keeping promises and I do think politics here is important.
QUINN: You know, obviously, the Republicans made this repeal and replace promise, right? And there were other promises made by Candidate Trump and President-Elect Trump in his interview on "60 Minutes" where he promised and ahs repeatedly promised that there will be no elimination or reduction of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
So, you know, I don't -- what the senator said was, although not surprising, terrible, right? And a clear example why Americans hate Congress. But if you're going to go with that theory, for argument sakes, why does that one matter? Repeal and replace, and pre-existing conditions out of the president's own mouth, why doesn't that count and we heard that the legislation does not mandate it. And to track with your state's argument, which obviously I don't over all agree with, but the legislation we believe will give states the power to wave out of any pre-existing indications in the bill. And give them the power to wave (ph) out requirements of basic health essentials, which is a broad definition that we don't know the full purview of.
JENNINGS: It also gives them the power to keep it.
QUINN: But, but --
JENNINGS: It gives them the power to keep it. I'm glad you brought up the concept of promises, because the bill -- the law we're talking about repealing was also sold on promises. Keep your doctor if you want to. Your premiums are going down by $2500. It was sold on a pillar of lies.
QUINN: You know what --
JENNINGS: The promises are important and I agree with you.
QUINN: But, you know what --
JENNINGS: And I think the law we have right now was sold on a bunch of broken promises.
QUINN: If you don't like Obamacare, that's a debate. But right now we're debating about what it wants to be replaced with. And you know what, pre-existing conditions are critical in getting people health care in America.
[21:50:04] JENNINGS: I don't disagree with you. But I think this, people trust their state governments more than they trust the federal government, and I think they might love the concept of policy decisions being closer to home.
QUINN: You know what, first of all, whatever. I'm not even going to go there. But, you know what? If you have cancer and you have cancer and you need health care, I don't think you care at all whether a senator wrote the bill, a state senator, a city council member. What you want to know is that you have coverage. If your child has leukemia, you want to know when you put him down in his bed that when he wakes up and it's, you know, the next day or next week after September 30th that he can get the same coverage he could have got two months ago. That and this bill, by your own admission, does not rock solid mandate that.
COOPER: I mean, under this if a state does decide to waive it or a state decides to not have that, you know, they can charge as much as they want to cover pre-existing condition, is that OK because it's a state's decision?
JENNINGS: Well, the state needs to design the healthcare system that works best for that population. I think these states are drastically different and we've seen that in some of the Medicaid spending levels. At the end of the day, you brought up the concept does politics matter here, yes. And I think politics at the local level -- when you can run into your state representative at the grocery store when you can run into, you know, the people that make these decisions, I think politics will probably do what you want at the state level, which is keep a lot of these protections because you can actually get to the people making the decision. You can't get to any federal --
LOUIS: But when you get to them what do you say to a state that flamboyantly rejected Medicaid expansion. You know, we don't want it. We don't need the federal government. Keep your dollars. You're going to bust all of our taxes wide open. And then a couple years later say, you know what, take from the states that did the expansion. Now we'll gratefully accept the money. That's also a broken promise and it doesn't look like a very good way to sort of handle an issue that states already made their decision.
QUINN: And let's be clear. We're talking about putting very sick Americans in a place with no coverage, and that, quite frankly, is a disgrace.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there.
Coming up, Sean Spicer gets asked whether he lied to the American people. The Ridiculist is next.
[21:56:32] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Have you ever wondered what kind of hole gets punched into time and space when somebody lies and then pretty much admits they lied and lies about the fact that they lie in the first place? Well, wonder no more because much like a prairie dog in the grasslands separating deep road tunnels of fantasy from the clear lie of reality, Sean Spicer popped up again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FARIS: Have you ever lied to the American people?
SPICER: I don't think so.
FARIS: You don't think so?
SPICER: Nope. I don't cheat on my taxes.
FARIS: Unequivocally you can say no?
SPICER: I -- I, look, again, if you want to find some other thing -- I have not knowingly done anything to do that, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. You can take the man from the podium, but you can't take the podium from the man. He was asked have you ever lied to the American people. That, my friends is kind of a yes-or-no question. His answer, his third answer, by the way after I don't think so and I don't cheat on my taxes was "I have not done anything knowingly to do that." That answer is so Washington, D.C. it should have its own reflecting pool just a nice calm place where you can sit down with your word salad and think about what you've done.
Did Sean Spicer lie to the American people? Yes, he did. He lied about the Trump Tower meeting being about adoption even after Donald Trump Jr. was forced to admit it was about Russian dirt on Clinton. Remember the president's claim about 3 to 5 million people voting illegally. Not true, but Sean Spicer said it was. He lied about the president getting the most electoral votes of any Republican since Reagan. And the list goes on and on.
But, you know, I'm kind of sentiment, I'm a sentimental guy so I have a soft spot for the fist time. You never really do forget the first time. I remember it was right after the inauguration when Spicer spoke about President Obama's and President Trump's inauguration crowd and suggested you shouldn't believe sources that said Mr. Obama's crowd was bigger, you know, sources you're your eyeballs or your brain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: This was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass in the mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing. This is also the first time that fencing and magnetometer went as far back on the wall preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in an inauguration's past. No one had numbers. These attempts to less the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong. This was the largest audience to every witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I beg to differ, that's not Melissa McCarthy. That actually was Sean Spicer actually at the podium in the White House. That was his first time at the podium and it's clear he got his marching orders from on that one but he sure did commit to it, didn't he? I mean, if that wasn't pushing a line such in obvious way that's almost comedic, then why did this just happen at the Emmy's?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmy's, period, both in person and around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: See, he's making a joke of the fact that he lied. I guess the idea is if you let some time pass, lies become funny. Oh, by the way, the morning after the Emmy's Spicer told "The New York Times" that he of course absolutely regrets criticizing accurate news reports that Obama's inauguration crowd was bigger than Trump's? But was he telling the truth when he said that to "The Times" about this regret? Maybe that was a lie too because two months ago on Sean Hannity's show he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: And I will tell you. I have no regrets. I can't think the president enough for this unbelievable honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, OK. So he didn't have any regrets in July when he was talking to Sean Hannity, but with "The New York Times" he did have regret. The good news is Sean Spicer doesn't have to lie for a living any more. Now he just seems to be doing it recreationally.
Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news on major stories around the world.
This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.