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Budget Crisis Aftermath; Tea Party's Power; Bill Reopening Government Packed with Pork; Snowden: Russia and China Did Not Receive Classified Documents; Senate Chaplain Speaks Out about Shutdown

Aired October 17, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Welcome to "AC360 Later."

We are live tonight in Washington, D.C., where there is no longer a shutdown showdown, more like a post-shutdown hangover. We wanted to be here again tonight after Congress passed the deal that the president signed late last night to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.

We're here to ask what on earth just happened and what really comes next? Today, the president praised Democrats and -- quote -- "responsible Republicans" for getting the job done, but he also called it a self-inflicted crisis with major ramifications for the country economically and otherwise.

He said he's well-aware that the American public has had it with this type of political theater.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that just the threat of default -- of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time -- increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.

And, of course, we know that the American people's frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That's not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington.


COOPER: Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has been following all the twist and turns and she joins us now.

What comes next?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What comes next is everybody hoping and praying that this doesn't happen again, except maybe if you're Ted Cruz who said through a source close to him to me tonight that he is not giving up on the idea of perhaps this happening all again and forcing this to happen again, at least trying to.

COOPER: Mitch McConnell has said it's off the table. We won't do another shutdown.

BASH: Oh, yes. He's definitely learned his lesson, as did most Republicans around here. There really has been a lot of wound licking, a lot of reflection. And what's been interesting is that the Republicans, even those who thought this might have been a good strategy from the beginning, are saying, I mean, some have said that they let John Boehner down, the House speaker, and that they maybe didn't understand the consequences of not playing out the strategy from A to Z at the beginning, meaning Z was still that half of that building is still controlled by Democrats and the White House is still controlled by Democrats.

And the Republican leaders both, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, they knew they were going to get the blame. They understood that. But they felt they didn't have a choice because we have talked about it so many nights in a row now of that pressure. And it really is real, real pressure on them from conservatives. But the question is going to be whether or not the people who some of them call themselves the sane caucus inside the House Republican world, whether or not they are going to be more aggressive, because part of the issue they do have a majority, but it's a silent majority so far and whether they're going to be more vocal about wanting to work with Democrats, because many of them really do.

COOPER: Although the message from some of the Tea Party supporters and Tea Party-backed candidates is, the mistake was not being tough enough. The mistake was that some Republicans were wishy- washy and didn't stand with us. We weren't united.

BASH: Absolutely. That is going to continue to be that message. There's a reason for that is because there is a real constituency out there for that kind of idea, of the idea that you have to come here and stick to principle, and the reason why the debt is so high, the deficit is ballooned to astronomical numbers is because people came here and became part of the establishment and they didn't stick to their principles.

So that's always going to exist. The question is going to be whether or not people who maybe have come here, have been here for, what, two-and-a-half years since the class of 2010, the Tea Party wave, came in get more comfortable as legislators as maybe realize that throwing bombs is OK sometimes, but it's also -- if you want to get things done sometimes you have to, as one congressman said to me, go a couple of downs and not just throw into the end zone.


COOPER: Ted Cruz, he continues on. As you said, he says I'm not taking a shutdown off the table.

BASH: Anderson, I have heard so many stories about him inside meetings with fellow Republicans as the saga has gone on.

They have been really aggressive, almost yelling at him, saying, why are you doing this to us? We're going to lose seats. We're not going to take back the majority in the Senate, which obviously is their goal if they want to achieve his goal, which is to try to defund Obamacare. And it just doesn't -- he's like Teflon. He just -- he doesn't seem to mind. And in fact, he's emboldened by the anger that he's feeling here by his fellow senators because what he's hearing from the constituency that elected him is attaboy.

COOPER: Interesting. Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar also joins us now.

Brianna, the president making a point again saying there are no winners here. But behind the scenes, does the White House feel that this was a victory for them?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think certainly White House officials feel like the strategy this time around worked much better than what we saw in 2011. The president back then negotiated in earnest with House Republicans. This time, he really sidelined them and ultimately at least in the polls he fared better.

So I think part of the message you were hearing from him today is that this kind of hardball strategy is here to stay. Of course, there's this question of does that tone really mean that there's going to be bipartisanship here? I think White House officials feel like they're external factors at play. Some Republicans may be tempted to try the strategy again.

You heard Dana talking about Ted Cruz. But I think they're banking on some of those other Republicans who are concerned about the national brand for Republicans and certainly the toll that that may take with independent voters.

COOPER: And in terms of the president's agenda, I mean, he's called today for immigration reform. Do they really think they can get something like that done?

KEILAR: Not just immigration reform, a farm bill and also a budget deal, things that have certainly eluded the White House as far as a bipartisan deal at this point.

I think the White House officials admit that this budget crisis and before it the Syria situation certainly got in the way here. But you heard the president outline his agenda. And he is insisting that he's going to press through with it.

You talk to White House officials, and they certainly admit that it's tough right now going into the next year, the midterm elections. You have Republicans who are going to want to be careful because they're afraid they will be primaried from the right.

I think they definitely see 2015 as perhaps less headwinds because they think the Republicans will try to moderate going into the presidential election. But what's clear, what I picked up from listening to President Obama today, is that no matter he's pressing ahead. And he's going to be no matter what trying to drag Republicans kicking and screaming if that's what it takes.

COOPER: Brianna Keilar, appreciate the reporting.

A question that's been asked a lot during the negotiation, what's up with the Republican Party? Is the GOP being commandeered by the Tea Party? And what is the ultimate goal of that particular faction?

Joining me now, Andrew Sullivan, founder editor of -- his -- actually, The Dish. His Web site is And Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed.

Andrew, to put it mildly, you find all this demonization which is your word of government troubling.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM: Yes, because conservatives have to have government. Everybody needs government.

I think what the Tea Party has done in a way that's positive is bring up the issue of long-term debt. And we do have to fix that. At the same time, they show they're incapable of grappling with it, because they didn't succeed in reducing the deficit or debt in this. In fact, they increased the debt. If they're really going to tackle the debt in the long term, they have got to get an agreement with Democrats who are also part of this country.

And they want some tax increases in return for entitlement reforms. That's the key bargain we have all known about for a long time. And my fear is the Republicans have not come out of this thinking we really do have to just get this past us, get a big bargain on the debt, even if that means raising some revenues, which you don't have to do with increasing rates because you can do tax reform and get reductions in loopholes and raise revenues that way.

I am not hearing from the Republican right any sense of chastening after this event, and any sense that they're serious about tackling the long-term debt with the Democrats.

COOPER: But, I mean, on your Web site, you have been very tough, I mean, sort of implying that the Tea Party or the far right is trying to sabotage our democracy in a way.

SULLIVAN: Well, yes, because I think the key thing there was not the goal of the debt, but the strategy. You do not threaten to throw the entire global economy into a second Great Depression.

You do not threaten the credit of the United States as a political tactic. They used such an extreme tactic that it was blackmail, a form of economic terrorism. I think the middle of the country, whatever you think about the debt, the middle of the country really thinks that kind of tactic was completely out of bounds and needs to be restrained. I think a lot of Republicans believe that, too. But they're too scared to take on these radicals.

COOPER: Ralph, I imagine you do not believe this.

RALPH REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, Anderson, I'm a veteran of the '95-'96 shutdown. I was a member of then Speaker Newt Gingrich's advisory group.

I was in the room when the shutdown occurred. For those of us who went through that, this was not our first choice. It wasn't my favorite tactic. But it's been 17 years; 75 percent of these House members on the Republican side of the aisle have been elected in 2010 and 2012.

And they felt very deeply and strongly that Obamacare posed both a short-term and a long-term threat, not only to America's health care system, but to our economy. I applaud them for taking the stand they did. But the reality is that as we first found in '95-'96, they have discovered themselves, that you can't govern the country at just one end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

If you have a recalcitrant president, which in this case said he wouldn't negotiate with you, said he wouldn't sit down and cut a deal, it's very hard to get a deal done. And I applaud them for taking the stands that they did on the merits of the issues. And the irony of this, Anderson, is if you look at the things that they advocated, for example, delaying the individual mandate for a year, just as the mandate on employers was delayed, that's supported by two-thirds of the American people.

If you look at the train wreck which is this Obamacare Web site, this health care plan is not ready for prime time, and if you looked at the spectacle of the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, on "The Daily Show" unable to answer a direct question of why employers were being treated one way and individuals were being fined for not signing up when the Web site won't allow them to sign up.

So this is past us now. We will continue to fight on the merits. But I would be surprised if there's another shutdown.

COOPER: Andrew, what about the problems with Obamacare, certainly the Web site? I mean, it's hard to defend the rollout of this.

SULLIVAN: No. It's indefensible.

And Ralph and I can agree on that, I think. But that means that this tactic, this attempt to destroy the American economy, the threatening of actually throwing millions out of work, threatening the credit of the United States, threatening the global economy, threatening our position in the world, was a disastrous gambit, because in fact if they had just done the normal things, the regular things, made their arguments through the normal constitutional processes and not attacked our very system of government, they would have succeeded enormously this month, because Obama sat there with this Obamacare thing that's been a disaster.

But they didn't do that. And Ralph cannot applaud what they did while simultaneously condemning the result of it. You have got to admit, these people are fanatical. They need to be restrained. And someone in the Republican Party has to talk reason into them. And if it isn't Ralph, if he's going to applaud them, who is going to stand up against them?

COOPER: Ralph?

REED: Well, I think the problem with that analysis, Andrew, is that the legislative system itself is broken.

The United States Senate has not produced a budget in three years. And we have got a situation where the House has passed varying measures to deal with Obamacare that even if you don't take the position that I do, which is that it should be repealed and left on the ash heap of history -- and I think we will ultimately be vindicated in that position, by the way.

But even if you're not in that camp, even if you're in a mend it, don't end it camp, there were numerous attempts by the House to send that over and Reid simply stripped that stuff out. Harry Reid, the majority leader, would not allow it to come to a vote. And the result is, is that we're governing in a dysfunctional way because the House can't pass a piece of legislation and have it taken up in the other chamber.

And, look, I would just say this. Divided government is an ugly thing to look at. But I will tell you this. I will take a divided system of government, of constitutional checks and balances over what's going on in Egypt, in Syria and Venezuela and Cuba any day of the week.

SULLIVAN: But that's exactly what the Republicans threatened. They threatened...

REED: No, it isn't.

SULLIVAN: They threatened to throw this entire country into default if they didn't get their way all the way.

And on the debt, they have never offered anything to the Democrats on raising taxes and getting revenues, whereas the Democrats and Obama have said they will cut, they are willing to cut entitlements. But the Republicans are being the intransigent one on taxes.

We have to -- if there are two parties, you want a deal, you have got to have some input from both. And the Republicans right now are the absolutist ones saying, absolutely no new revenues ever. Now do what we want.

How can the system work when one of the parties is that purist, that absolutist, that refusing to negotiate?

REED: I think the problem is that when you talk about something like tax reform, and if I heard you correctly, you indicated that you could sign onto something in which rates were not raised, but revenue was increased.

SULLIVAN: Absolutely. REED: I think Republicans and conservatives would take the position that we're all for generating additional revenue through growth, but the truth is when you talk about actually producing the revenue -- I'm not talking about nickels and dimes -- we're talking about $50 trillion in unfunded entitlement obligations between now and 2050.

You're talking really ultimately about either closing the depreciation allowance for business to invest in their businesses or you're talking about eliminating the deduction for mortgage interest or you're talking about eliminating the deduction for charitable contributions.


SULLIVAN: Let's talk about it.


REED: As a matter of policy, as a matter of policy, not a matter of ideology, I think all three of those are very bad ideas. And we have already sent a letter to the Hill during the fiscal -- my organization, Faith and Freedom Coalition, during the fiscal cliff negotiations saying that we strongly oppose any limit on the charitable contributions.


COOPER: We have got to wrap it up. I'm sorry, simply out of time.

Andrew, we will continue this discussion, Ralph Reed as well.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

We have more on whether the GOP brand is damaged ahead. Also, was Ted Cruz bruised in the process as well? We will hear of some of Cruz's, well, greatest hits during this crisis, a crisis he often talks about as if he had no part in actually causing it.


COOPER: Well, now that the dust is settling, a looming question is whether there will be repercussions for Republican lawmakers from their constituents and if the Republican Party has been damaged. The answer of course depends on really who you ask and where you live.

Chief national correspondent John King has the breakdown.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, one thing we have learned over the last couple of weeks in the debate over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling is that the president and his Republican critics live in what you might call a parallel political universe. What do I mean by that? Well, the president, as we heard today, still views the world this way. He won big last year, less than a year ago, a huge Electoral College win and a convincing win in which, remember, Mitt Romney said he would repeal the president's health care plan.

The president defended Obamacare. He thinks that verdict should still stand today. But House Republicans have a very different view. Here's one of the reasons why. They live and go home to red America. Look at all this. Remember, Mitt Romney won more House districts, Mitt Romney won more counties in America even as the president ran up big margins in the cities.

So these House members think they're on safe ground standing up to the president, including when it comes to the health care plan, because, remember, all this started when 80 House Republicans, 80 conservative House Republicans, wrote the speaker a letter saying we will not vote to keep the government open unless that legislation strips of all the money, defunds Obamacare. And 80 of them signed that letter. Despite all the pressure, despite all the polling, when the final vote came last night on the compromise, 71 of them stood their ground, voting no because the compromise did not strip any money from Obamacare.

Only nine yes votes on the compromise there. Another way to look at it if you're looking forward, if you serve in the Congress and you're a Republican, and you're thinking about running for president, well, the safe vote was no. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate, last night all voting no, even though both the Senate and the House leadership said this was a good deal. They didn't think so.

Another way to look at it, you might say, all politics is local. There are 232 House Republicans. Remarkably, only 17 of 232 go home to districts the president won last year, meaning a Republican House member, but President Obama carried the district. Those 17 deciding the safe vote, 15 of them decided the safe vote was to vote yes to support the deal.

Their districts not as conservative as many of their colleagues. One last way to look at this as we go forward. The Tea Party says if you voted for this deal, you violated conservative principles. They promise to punish those who voted yes. Well, among those who voted yes, the man who helped broker the deal, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

One of his key deputies, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, three Republican senators who voted yes who have Tea Party challengers as they seek reelection next year, three big races to watch as we see if the Tea Party can follow through now on threats to punish those who voted yes -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fascinating to see the maps like that. John, thanks.

As we have been reporting, an aide to Senator Ted Cruz says he is not ruling out another shutdown. The Texas Republican is taking a big share of the blame or the credit, depending on how you see it, for what has happened in Washington for the past several weeks. He led the Republican effort to inject the defunding of Obamacare into the budget battle.

One of the more interesting things to watch has been how Senator Cruz has talked about the shutdown as if he had nothing to do with it. Listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I don't think we should have a government shutdown.

Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?

Harry Reid and President Obama want a shutdown.

Why did the federal government spend money to erect barricades to keep people out of Mount Rushmore?

I don't think we should be in a shutdown. Throughout the course of it, I have said we should not shut down the government.

Our veterans should be above politics. Enough games.


COOPER: Enough games, he says.

Another common refrain by the senator is that he's only been doing what his constituents in Texas really want.

A little bit ago, I went to the source and talked to two Texans about it, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and columnist Mark McKinnon, co-founder of No Labels and former senior adviser to George W. Bush.


COOPER: Congressman, from your vantage point, what did Ted Cruz actually accomplish?

TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: What he accomplished was bringing together people from all over the United States, and he led and showed his leadership. And organizing all those people is a huge accomplishment, particularly since the conservatives have been crying out for leadership for many, many years, and he filled that void.

COOPER: But, I mean, he signed up some -- a lot of people. Critics of his will say, well, look, that's a potential fund-raising pool for him so they understand what he got out of that, but led them to where? What actually came out of all of this?

DELAY: Well, don't be so cynical.


DELAY: There's a movement out here in the real world, Anderson. People are desperate to stop this runaway federal spending. They're desperate to get rid of Obamacare. They're desperate for solutions to the country's problems.

And he has provided all of that for the American people. Unfortunately, because of the fight, the American people are taking it in the shorts.

COOPER: Mark, you're from Texas as well. Is that how you see it? Did Ted Cruz accomplish something?


I think the only thing he accomplished was gaining more supporters and fund-raising for himself, but did absolutely nothing for the country and did a lot of harm for the Republican Party. I think he's basically burned down the reputation of the Republican Party and is standing on the ashes to just stand a little taller for himself personally.

DELAY: I guess, Mark, your answer to and your strategy would be to surrender first. Give me your plan. How would you have done it in any other way and still make your point and try to bring the president to the table?



DELAY: Surrender first?

MCKINNON: I think it's surrender, Congressman, when you go into a fight knowing that...


MCKINNON: ... you're going to lose the battle. We knew ahead of time we were going to lose the battle.


COOPER: Congressman, you asked Mark for his plan, so let Mark say his plan.

DELAY: OK. Give me your plan.

MCKINNON: Well, the plan would be to argue on the merits of what Paul Ryan was suggesting.

We could have gone and talked about mean-testing Medicare. We could have talked about chained CPI and entitlement cuts and talk about budget issues, which is what Republicans are supposed to be talking about. Instead, we fought on Obamacare, when that's been decided and has 54 solid votes in the Senate. That's surrender, Congressman.


DELAY: Are you kidding? Boy, no, your -- surrender, because that's really going to get Obama's attention. That's going to get Harry Reid's attention and force them to the table.

MCKINNON: Well, those are things that they have already agreed, to Congressman.

DELAY: I'm just very glad -- I'm just very glad that the revolutionaries in 1776 didn't take up your plan, because if they thought they were going to lose and therefore not get into the battle, then we wouldn't be here today. That is a loser's plan.

COOPER: So you say shut down the government again, let's do it all again, but this time just stick to it?

DELAY: If that's what it takes to stand on principle and win, yes, absolutely.

COOPER: Mark, does that make any sense to you?

MCKINNON: I see it as clawing your way to the bottom. I don't think it makes any sense at all. I think we saw where it got us this time. I think we should adopt a different approach.


DELAY: Well, Mark, I hate to tell you that, but my way won for 12 years. We did some pretty amazing things with five margins fighting against really all odds. But we won. Your way, we lose all the time.

COOPER: But, Congressman, it does sound like you're painting what just occurred here as a victory. I mean, do a lot of people you talk to see it that way?

DELAY: I don't see it as a victory. I see it as a great fight.

And finally we have got some people that are standing up and filling the voids in leadership. I think that's what the American people have been crying for.


COOPER: And, to you, Ted Cruz is a major leader of the Republican Party right now?

DELAY: Absolutely.

Get out here in the real world. I was just at a meeting last night where people were just singing his praises. And they would carry him on their shoulders when he gets back to Texas, I guarantee you. The real people in the real world outside of Washington understand that.


COOPER: "The Houston Chronicle," which endorsed him, doesn't seem to like him anymore.

DELAY: Well, "The Houston Chronicle"'s a liberal rag. Come on. Please.

COOPER: Mark, do you see Ted Cruz as having a big future here?

MCKINNON: Oh, listen, I think that he will probably represent Texas for a long time. He's got a lot of support in the Texas Republican primaries.

But he doesn't have broad support. And that's where the Republican Party needs to go. The Republican Party needs much broader support.


DELAY: Mark, you need to come home. You need to come home. You have no clue.

The entire Texas delegation voted against the deal last night. The people here in Texas are extremely proud of them. They're proud of the fight that they put up. And you just -- Mark, I love you, brother, but you need to come home.

MCKINNON: Well, I'm spending a lot of time at home. I talk to the same people.

And I also realize, Congressman, that it's one thing to start a fire, it's another thing to put them out. And if we want to just break Washington more, we can keep on the same track. If we want to build on it, we need to adopt a new strategy, both for the party and for the country.

DELAY: Well, why don't you come up with one that wins?

MCKINNON: I will caucus with you on that.

DELAY: When you come up with one that wins, I will be all with you.

MCKINNON: Well, meanwhile, this has been great for No Labels. Millions of people are signing up. And we have 87 members of Congress who have joined who realize we have to work together, and not draw lines in the sand in order to get things done. It's called problem- solving.

DELAY: Wow. That's impressive. That's really impressive.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Congressman DeLay, I appreciate you being on, Mark McKinnon as well. Gentlemen, thank you.

MCKINNON: Kick it hard.

DELAY: Thank you.


COOPER: There you go.

Just ahead: What made it into the shutdown bill that had nothing to do with the shutdown itself? Oh, and your tax dollars, by the way, are paying for it. We're "Keeping Them Honest" next.


COOPER: Well, the bill that reopened the government today and raised the debt ceiling is 35 pages long. It will keep the government running until January 15. The new fiscal cliff deadline is February 7. Those are the bill's key features.

But there's a lot more in those 35 pages, with some surprising additions some folks might have missed. Call them earmarks or pork or extras. They're part of the bill that wasn't entirely clean after all. Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper tonight, "Keeping Them Honest."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Great news. Panda cam is back. More importantly, the federal government is open for business. But in order to get that compromise bill done, there were of, course, some shoe-horned extras. Some conservatives cried pork after a $2 billion authorization for the Olmstead lock and dam project was added to the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here on the Ohio river on the Olmstead lock an dams project.

TAPPER: The money will continue to pay for this massive Army Corps of Engineers project on the Ohio River along Kentucky's boarder. The Conservatives Fund, a political action committee, dubbed it the Kentucky Kickback, blaming the addition on Kentucky's own Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I'm pleased to get a first-hand briefing of a project I and others have been working on providing the funds for.

TAPPER: McConnell has long supported the dam project. Here he is on a visit in 2009. But this morning he fired back at critics on WVLK radio in Lexington.

MCCONNELL: There was no earmark. The Army Corps of Engineers requested the Olmstead lock funding. Both House and Senate passed an authorization for it. Every single member of the Senate had a chance to review it and no one asked for it to be taken out.

TAPPER: McConnell's negotiating counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed last night.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This is not an earmark. It saves the money -- the taxpayers lots of money.

TAPPER: It turns out, officials say, stopping and restarting the project would have cost over $200 million if the authorization had not gone through. Oh, and President Obama had the same provision to continue the project in his 2014 budget.

TOM SCHATZ, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: Rather than talking about shutting down the government, it's time to talk about shutting down the waste.

TAPPER: Tom Schatz is president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

SCHATZ: Adding a provision to fund a dam opens a door for similar projects in the next C.R. This project has tripled in cost. It's behind schedule. And if regular order had prevailed, it's unclear whether that would have been funded at all in the normal energy and water appropriations bill.

Other additions to the bill to reopen the government include $175,000 which will be paid to the widow of Senator Frank Lautenberg. Such a payment is standard practice, but he was one of the wealthiest members of Congress. "Roll Call" reported he was worth more than $50 million in 2011.

And finally, let's call this one the Edward Snowden effect. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will get $3.1 million. They're a White House oversight group set up to guard Americans' right to privacy against overreach by government cyber Intelligence.


COOPER: So, Jake what is McConnell saying about all his?

TAPPER: Well, he's saying first of all, this isn't an earmark. He points out accurately that President Obama had the money for this in his 2014 budget, and the House and Senate have passed it. And his office also says that he's not the one who put it into the bill, that it was Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California who do take credit or blame for putting that in there.

That said this is Washington, D.C., and when somebody is negotiating a major deal and just happens to end up with billions of dollars for a dam in his state, well, as President Clinton once said, "If I see a snail on top of a fence post it didn't get there by itself."

COOPER: What are other lawmakers you're talking to saying? TAPPER: Well, I think that the people who are really anti-pork like Senator John McCain are upset that this didn't go through the normal process.

Most Republicans are saying, because they understand this is something probably very important to the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who is facing a tough re-election fight possibly, are saying, "Well, I wish it had gone through the normal process," but they are not specifically criticizing the actual dam or the actual project.

COOPER: All right. Jake Tapper, thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Isha Sesay is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, New York City police are on a desperate search for a missing autistic teenager. Fourteen-year-old Avonte Oquendo, who is unable to speak, vanished after running out of school two weeks ago. His mother's voice is now being played on police call loudspeakers, imploring him to reach out to police.

A wild scene in Arkansas: a man armed with a knife hijacked a school bus this morning. Eleven elementary school children were on board. Police chased the bus for ten miles. They were eventually able to stop and arrest 22-year-old Nicholas John Miller.

The three women who are victims of kidnapper Ariel Castro may each receive compensation from the Ohio state government. A bill in the state legislature would give them up to $25,000 for each year they were held captive.

And Anderson, take a look at this. Nearly 100 bush fires are burning in Australia. Police say one man died trying to defend his home from the flames. Hundreds of homes are in danger of being destroyed. Conditions are said to be hot and dry. A very, very difficult situation, Anderson.

COOPER: Incredible pictures. Isha, thanks.

Up next, breaking news, NSA leaker Edward Snowden gives his first extensive interview. Did the documents that he took up end up in the hands of Russian and Chinese intelligence? We're going to see what he says.


COOPER: Welcome back. There's breaking news tonight about Edward Snowden, the former computer contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked a trove of classified documents exposing secret government surveillance programs. In an extensive interview with the "New York Times," Snowden insists that he did not take any of those documents with him to Russia where he's been granted asylum for one year. He also tells the "Times" that he gave all the documents to journalists he met while in Hong Kong, his first stop after leaving the United States, and did not keep any of the documents, thereby ensuring that Russian intelligence agents could not get their hands on them.

Snowden also says the Chinese intelligence did not get a hold of these documents either. He says he was familiar with China's intelligence capabilities, because he targeted those very operations as an NSA contractor.

One of the journalists obviously Snowden gave some of the documents to is Glenn Greenwald, columnist for the British newspaper, "The Guardian." He joins us tonight.

Glenn, it's a fascinating interview. Snowden is saying that he gave you and another colleague, Laura Poitras, and others, all of the classified documents. To your knowledge, is that true?

GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": He's been saying for quite a long time now that he never gave any documents of any kind to the Chinese or Russians. And knowing, as he did, the capabilities that they have, because that was what he was trained to learn when he was at the NSA, that it was impossible for them to have gotten any.

Whether he took any to Russia, I obviously can't say for certain. But I know for certain that his intention was to undermine the ability of states to engage in mass surveillance, not to help states do so by giving documents to other governments. So it's certainly credible.

There's zero evidence that he ever gave any documents or let any of those documents out of his control, despite the desire of people in the media to simply assert it without evidence.

COOPER: And a lot of people have been saying that, to your point. And in this interview, he says that there's a zero percent chance that the Chinese were able to break into his computer or get any of the documents because of his knowledge. Are you as confident as he is that that's the case?

GREENWALD: I am. Remember, I've spent the last 4 1/2 months reading through many, many top secret NSA documents, some of which discuss what their abilities are with regard to breaking through encryption processes and what their inabilities are.

But he's certainly one of the more credible people to talk about that, because as I said, he was a highly sophisticated cyber operative, trained in how to -- how to penetrate the defenses of China and other countries like Russia.

And so he's fully aware of what defensive measures you can take to prevent hacking by those countries, and he's aware of what works and what does not work. And I know -- I saw his methods -- extremely attentive to making sure that he protected that material using all of the advanced forms available. COOPER: As you said, you've been spending months reading through these documents. What percentage of these documents have you been able to actually reveal so far? I mean, how much more information is there out there that will make headlines, that will surprise people?

GREENWALD: You know, genuinely, a small percentage. I mean, I've been saying from the beginning whenever I'm asked that question, the same thing, that there's still a lot of stories to come in many, many countries around the world, including in the United States. And it's always been true, and it still is true.

These documents are very complicated. You have to piece them together. A lot of them take reporting. So the process isn't fast.

You know, when WikiLeaks got their diplomatic cables, it took them almost 10 months to even begin publishing the first one, because you have to go through them and vet them and understand them.

But there are genuinely very significant stories, ones that I think will surprise people. The problem, of course, is I think people know by now that the NSA is trying to collect everything. And so it's sort of hard to generate shock. That's not our goal. Our goal is to inform people of things they don't know. And there's definitely a lot of that still coming.

COOPER: I also just want to quickly ask you about the major changes in leadership at NSA over the next six months. NSA Chief General Alexander stepping down, as is one of his top aides. How much do you think is that the result of the Snowden leaks?

GREENWALD: You know, whenever there's -- there's a major scandal in Washington and then the top officials implicated in it leave, they never say, the government does, that they're leaving because of that. So it's impossible to know. Usually, the trite phrase is they're leaving to spend more time with their families.

There was someone on Twitter that remarked yesterday that General Alexander was leaving in order to spend less time with your family.

But I think clearly, there's a connection. He's been viewed as one of the most powerful military officials in the world. He really set the NSA in his image. The phrase that he uses is "collect it all," which was pioneered during the Iraq war. And so it will have a major impact on this agency.

And I think clearly one can infer -- it's not just him but his deputy -- that there's some connection to the movement for reform in the NSA inside Washington in their departure.

COOPER: And lastly, I know there's probably a lot you can't say about it. You're leaving "The Guardian" newspaper for a new media venture funded by eBay's founder. It sounds like a huge new venture and an exciting one for you. What can you say?

GREENWALD: It's extremely exciting. And the idea behind it is that there are a lot of things that we think aren't being done the right way when it comes to aggressive adversarial journalism that we intend to be able to do. We want to create a major network that supports independent journalists, ones who don't run to the government and write down what government officials say and pass it along and call that reporting, but who actually want to dig and subject to critical scrutiny what government officials say, what they're doing in the dark to inform the public.

And it needs a really substantial support institution of -- of researchers and technology and security and lawyers and reporters to do that. And that's what this new venture is designed to create. So it's very exciting for me individually, and I think for journalism generally.

COOPER: Well, Glenn, congratulations on that.

Up next we're going to check back with Senate Chaplain Barry, Black who used his pulpit to scold lawmakers during the shutdown. Why he says there may be a silver lining in the ugly battle that just ended.


COOPER: Over the past two weeks on Capitol Hill one voice stood out not because it was the loudest voice or most outrageous. In fact just the opposite: It was a voice of calm and reason. That actually counted as being pretty unique around here.

He opened each Senate session as usual with a prayer and did not mince words. Chaplain Black's prayers reached far beyond the Senate floor. "Saturday Night Live," in fact, did a skit about him, to give you some idea. I talked to the chaplain in the middle of the shutdown. We talked again today.


COOPER: How do you feel, now that this is finally over? People were referring to you as the last sane man in the Senate.

DR. BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Well, I don't agree with that characterization. But I am as elated as so many Americans are that this impasse has been taken care of, that this challenge has been met.

COOPER: What was the reaction you got from serving members of the House and the Senate to -- to some of -- of your prayers?

BLACK: Well, most of the feedback that I received was positive. Obviously, there are probably some people who feel that my prayers should not have been as pointed as they were.

COOPER: Did they -- did anybody express that to you?

BLACK: No one expressed that to me, but I do enough reading in the media to know that there were those who felt that way.

COOPER: Why did you feel it was important to be pointed? BLACK: I think that it is critically important that a clergy person does not utter in prayer in intercession, irrelevant platitudes. I mean, if you're in a burning house and you're going to pray for the folk who are in there that they extricate themselves from the conflagration. You're not going to pray, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep." It's time to run for your life not, you know, embrace slumber.

So my prayers simply reflect the reality of the environment that I'm in.

COOPER: Do you think this nation has been made stronger by what happened, or has it weakened us?

BLACK: I am convinced that there are blessings in adversity. And I think that you're strong in the broken places. If you look at the history of our nation, we've overcome far greater obstacles than what we've gone through here. I mean, we lost over 600,000 people in the Civil War. I mean, we've gone through gargantuan challenges where police dogs were attacking people and that kind of thing.

I think we're a resilient nation. And that's one of the amazing things about this experiment in democracy.

COOPER: What does that mean, to be strong in the broken places?

BLACK: I think that sometimes the bone that is broken and mends is stronger than the rest of the bone. And so I think that very often it's the same with an individual.

David said in the 119th Psalm, verse 67, "It was good for me they was afflicted." And so I think that many times afflictions, hardships have a beneficial impact.

Someone once said, "God sometimes puts us on our backs to get us to look up.:

COOPER: Final question. Kind of a silly question. But I don't know of any person in your position who has had a role on "Saturday Night Live." I don't know if you happened to see it this past weekend, where you -- someone pretended to be you. It is a huge honor to be -- Did you see it?

BLACK: I understand that. Well, I'm an old school. I'm way back to the John Belushi days.


BLACK: But I have three sons. And they sent me links. And I'm embarrassed to say that I was not even aware of Keenan Thompson. I'm one of the few Americans who probably was not.

I would say to Keenan he did a wonderful job. I am grateful that he didn't wear a clip-on Barney Fife bow tie. You don't do that. So he had the bow tie on, spot on. He needs to lower the pitch a little bit. It's not, "Let us pray," but it's "Let us pray." And work on being just a little less truculent and irreverent. But the premise was beautiful.

I do have an ineluctable optimism. And when I'm given -- given a reality check by a journalist, my first impulse is to say, "Let us pray." So spot on, Keenan. Keep up the good work.

COOPER: Thank you very much, Dr. Black.

BLACK: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: That's it for AC 360 LATER. Thanks for watching.

A special edition of AC 360 LATER that we're calling "AC 360 EVEN LATER" -- it's a half-hour special -- is coming up after the break.