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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senate Expected to Confirm Pompeo as CIA Director; Trump Meets with Congressional Leaders at WH; U.S. Investigating Flynn's Calls with Russian Diplomat. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 23, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:04] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks very much for joining us.
A big night at the end of a big day for the Trump administration, and significant developments in the wake of this weekend's massive protest marches in Washington, across the country and around the world. The president taking major executive actions, meeting with lawmakers today, business as well as labor leaders. His critics launching legal action against what they see as conflicts of interest and in their view a clash with the Constitution itself.
Also, his press secretary's first official Q&A session for members of the media today and some tough questions about the president's boasting of crowd figures at the CIA's memorial wall and Saturday's rant at reporters.
On top of all that, there's new senior reporting on the FBI investigating calls between Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador in Washington. That and the Senate acting on a pair of nominations, plus Bernie Sanders joins us for his perspective on pretty much all of the above.
We got a full night. It begins with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.
So, Jim, as we said, a very busy day at the White House today.
Let's start with Sean Spicer's first official press briefing. You were there. Very different mood than Saturday's.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A very different mood, Anderson. This was an attempt to really reset relations between this White House and the news media after you heard the president of the United States and his press secretary really go after the media on Saturday, accusing reporters of falsely reporting on the crowd size at Donald Trump's inauguration last Friday. And that episode was filled with Sean Spicer going to the podium on Saturday and basically delivering some false metrics in terms of how they came to the conclusion that Donald Trump's inauguration was the most watched ever, which was not the case.
But at this briefing today, Sean Spicer was not yelling at reporters. He was answering questions as the White House press secretary should do. I asked him at one point, why was there such a big focus on Saturday on this crowd size issue? And here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Isn't that just part of the conversation that happens in Washington --
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, it's not.
ACOSTA: -- the scrutiny that comes with being president of the United States --
SPICER: No, look, I've been doing this a long time. You've been doing this, the. I've never seen it like this. You see this historic thing. He stands there at the Capitol, I was not that close but on the platform. You look out and all you're -- it's an amazing view.
And it's just so many people who got in long lines, who had to go around all this different stuff to get in. And that was for the first time that we did have to go through fencing that far out. And then to hear -- well, look at this shot and it wasn't that big. It's a little demoralizing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, Sean Spicer also told reporters today it is not his intent to ever lie to the press, which was obviously something we all hope for as well, Anderson. But at the same time, we should point out the president does appear to be rather obsessed with this issue of the crowd size.
Steny Hoyer, a top ranking Democrat was over here with the rest of the congressional leaders here at the White House meeting with the president for a reception late this evening and Steny Hoyer told our Erin Burnett that Donald Trump was talking about this at this reception. So, it appears to still be on his mind.
COOPER: Also today, though, the president signed several executive actions. Was that all part of day one promises?
ACOSTA: They were. Actually, one of them, first and foremost, withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans Pacific trade deal. That's something we heard Donald Trump talking about time and again throughout this campaign. It is definitely chipping away at President Obama's legacy there.
There was also a freeze that Donald Trump ordered on hiring federal workers. He said there was a caveat that doesn't apply to military personnel. But also, we heard this White House setting new policy. Sean Spicer from the podium today at the briefing said that right now, there is not a priority when it comes to deporting undocumented young people, the so-called DREAMers.
That's a shift from the campaign when Donald Trump at one point talked about a deportation force. So, I think, Anderson, it's fair to say olive branches were extended today.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much. We're going to talk to Senator Bernie Sanders who actually agrees with Donald Trump on TPP. That's coming up later.
But now, the news and the Senate's action on the president's nominees for State and CIA director.
CNN's Phil Mattingly has the latest on that. He joins us now.
Some good news on Capitol Hill today for President Trump regarding nominees. Let's talk about it.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. The Trump administration has made no secret about their displeasure with the fact that the majority of their team, the majority of the nominees are not currently in place atop the agencies that they were selected for.
Tonight, and actually today, Anderson, some good news. First, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state nominee, moved through the committee process today, but what matters is Marco Rubio, the senator who had a lot of objections, a lot of pause about supporting that nomination, he's now on board. That more or less clears the way for Rex Tillerson's confirmation in the coming days, probably in about a week or so.
Also Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who Republicans initially wanted confirmed on Friday, he's on his way to being confirmed tonight.
[20:05:02] Some weather-related issues holding up the vote a bit, but already, 14 Democrats have voted for that nomination. He has enough votes to be confirmed already as soon as they close that vote.
So look, the dam isn't breaking, Anderson, according to one Democratic Senate source I spoke to, there are still eight or nine Trump nominees the Democrats really have problems with, really plan to put procedural hurdles in front of. But at least some of those nominees, Anderson, starting to move through the process.
COOPER: And, Phil, I know you've been talking to sources familiar with the meeting between the president and the congressional leaders today. How are they describing it?
MATTINGLY: Well, Jim kind of pointed out the most interesting part, the fact that the crowds did come up and they came up from the president. But I think when you talk to individuals over there, I spoke to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he said this was largely relationship building. It was described as a reception and Trump was in listening mode. We've heard this a lot behind close doors when he meets with individuals, where he kind of sits, tries to get a sense for who they are, tries to see how they click.
Now, when it comes to policy, there weren't a lot of in depth discussions, but Democrats familiar with the meeting said the Affordable Care Act did come up, trying to pressure the president on how he's going o the act on that. One of the most interesting elements I thought, at least talking to
the members, was how the president is trying to get a feel for these leaders. It's not a partisan thing for him. He recognizes if he wants to move his big ticket items through, he needs Democrats on board. That was the start of the process tonight. The big question, though, is Democrats are actually willing to join him, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly -- Phil, thanks for the update.
Our panel members tonight have seen more than a few administrations get down to work. Some have been on the inside.
Joining us tonight, CNN political analyst, Hillary Clinton biographer and Bob Woodward whisperer, Carl Bernstein, Republican consultant Margaret Hoover, also Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany. She's a contributor to "The Hill". Van Jones, former Obama senior adviser and host of CNN's "THE MESSY TRUTH", and joining us tonight, the legendary Ed Rollins, we're thrilled he's here, former White House adviser to President Reagan, who ran a pro-Trump super PAC.
Margaret, let's start off with you.
I mean, it was very interesting, it was sort of, obviously, a rocky start for the Trump administration over the weekend, certainly seemed to get back on track with a lot of events lined up.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Shocking to me, actually, is having been a White House staffer, it takes a lot of time to plan these events, to get all those 18 union leaders there in the Oval Office. They did six photo-ops today in the Oval Office. I mean, they've been working really hard without even having offices yet in the West Wing because the Obama administration hadn't vacated.
So, this -- I mean, this is a team that for all of the reporting about the missteps and they don't have their stuff together and the website didn't work -- I mean, they're making it work. This is the people's business happening on day one.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Carl, how much of it cameras are there for -- at least, you know, at least for part of it, to capture the images. It's very clear the Trump administration wants Americans to see what they are doing, to see that they are working.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, they want to show themselves working. But what happened over the weekend was extraordinary. We had an administration coming into office that declared war on the press, that has made once again the conduct of the press the issue rather than the conduct of the president of the United States.
There were lies told throughout today by the president, by his press secretary, and then when the press pointed out the lies, the fusillade continued against the press. So, I don't think we can just move on quite so easily. Hopefully, this will change. But this is an extraordinary development. And also, I think it calls -- I think there's a special role for FOX
News in this that I'd like to bring up. And that is that when you have the president or the people around him lying, all journalists covering that story need to point it out. And this is not, you know, FOX, they've got their point of view, that's terrific. But it also is about hard reporting.
And we all need to be together on this in terms of the best obtainable version of the truth. That's our job. Not complaining and whining about the president and about -- look, let's just do our jobs. But all of us need to be calling out lies.
COOPER: Ed, I want to ask you about your take on the last couple of days and versus today.
ED ROLLINS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL ADVISER TO REAGAN: I thought he had a great day today. A lot of the commitments he made in the course of the campaign. And I think at the end of the day, he brought some people in who traditionally haven't been in a Republican White House in a long time, labor leaders and what-have-you.
I found that the leadership of the House and the Senate when they came to their meeting, they kind of looked at him, here's this guy we've been fighting for, 18 months and all of a sudden, he's sitting there in the Oval Office and he's the president. We've got deal with him now. And I think the reality, he understands the big picture.
I think they made a big mistake over the weekend fighting about the size of the crowds and what have you. I mean, who cares? At this point in time, it doesn't matter. It's a long hard battle ahead here.
And the press, Carl, and I know you're obviously a part of that, the press are going to fight this guy and they're going to basically try and make up for the missed story that occurred in this election. They missed the story badly of the changes that were going on in this country. And he tapped into that, and I think the battle will continue.
But the reality is that I think the press secretary got a second shot today, and I think if he sticks up to the fact that he's never going to lie, that's a very important thing.
[20:10:08] But Trump is a competitive guy and he's going to basically always challenges things that relate to his view of things.
COOPER: Van, it's interesting. You see Donald Trump meeting with congressional leaders, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. I mean, that's certainly something which President Obama was criticized for not doing, rightly or wrongly, but it's, you know, obviously only the first full work day. What do you make of what you saw?
VAN JONES, CO-FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, THE DREAM CORPS: Glad to see them talking. If something can get done, it should get done. We get back and forth about this tweet, that thing, you got people out in the country who are hurting and who would like to see America's government work for the American people, period. That's a good thing. At the same time, those Democrats are sitting there with a different
feeling than they would have had the week prior because of the protests over the weekend which were --
COOPER: You think that's had an impact on Democrats?
JONES: It's given them a sense of, wait a minute now, you know, the Tea Party protests start off in August of 2009, and it was hundreds of activists, maybe thousands, but more like hundreds of activists going to those town hall meetings. And those minor protests ultimately wound up costing Obama the House of Representatives within 24 months.
What you saw over the weekend, 5 million plus people. These protests start out bigger than the peak of the protests against George W. Bush five years into his presidency. And so, I think if you're a Democrat, at some point, in some ways you say, jeez, you got a one-party Republican rule here in Washington, D.C., but at the same time, there's a big pushback coming.
And so, how both sides evaluate each other I think is going to be very interesting over the next several weeks.
COOPER: You know, Kayleigh, looking at what Donald Trump was focusing on today, which is really jobs, also meeting with congressional leaders, but meeting with union leaders, bringing business people -- I mean, it is probably the smartest thing for him to do because it just hits home the message that brought him here, which is jobs, jobs, jobs.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One hundred percent. If you think of any other Republican president sitting in that seat on their first day of office, George Bush, to a certain degree, then Ronald Reagan, you would have seen a different slate of action. You wouldn't see a rescinding of the Trans Pacific Partnership. That's not a conservative doctrinal position. You wouldn't have seen meetings with union leaders, which is out of the ordinary for a Republican president.
Donald Trump is a post-partisan president. And I think these protesters are going to be very surprised because Donald Trump has been depicted as, in the words of MSNBC host, Hitlerian. But when they see someone in office who is reaching across the aisle and you see someone in office who is probably going to put in place Ivanka's plan of paid maternal leave, when they see these policies come in place, all of a sudden, this guy who was so Hitlerian or so was described by MSNBC commentator, seems very palatable and very reasonable.
COOPER: We'll see.
Much more to talk about tonight, including what we've been touching on and Jim Acosta reported on -- the notion voiced today by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The administration is lashing out at the media because it's frustrated and doesn't get the recognition it thinks it deserves. Is that a fair point? We'll talk about that. Plus, new information on the FBI's investigation involving national security adviser Michael Flynn's phone call with the Russian -- or phone calls, I should -- two of them -- with the Russian top diplomat. And Senator Bernie Sanders' take on all of that ahead tonight.
[20:17:11] COOPER: We're talking about President Trump's first full weekday in office, which is what any opinion hopes for. There was also damage control today by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, cleaning up after the president's remarks at the CIA and Spicer's own I guess eruption, you could say, in the White House briefing room on Saturday.
Jim Acosta asked him about both today, here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: It's not just about the crowd size. It's about this constant, you know, he's not going to run, then if he runs, he's going to drop out, then if he runs, he can't win, there's no way he can win Pennsylvania, there's no way he can win Michigan. And then he won, it's oh -- there's this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has.
And I think it's just unbelievably frustrating when you're continually told it's not big enough, it's not good enough. You can't win. I think over and over again, there's this constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents and it's frustrating for not just him but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sean Spicer this afternoon.
Back with the panel.
Carl Bernstein, what do you make of what he is saying?
BERNSTEIN: I think there's no necessity for the press secretary to whine like that because Donald Trump won a great victory and the press knows it and the press has reported on it. It is one of the great upsets in American political history. And he deserves all the credit for that that he's getting.
That doesn't mean, though, that the picture of America that they're drawing in the White House of this huge mandate is accurate. What it means is that he won the Electoral College. He's 3 million votes behind in the popular vote. It's a divided country. It's going to be a fascinating development to watch this occur.
But we don't need lying on the part of the White House to advance what they're doing. But nonetheless, the fact that the president tweets, I think it's terrific. It's like an MRI of his psyche. It's really amazing. And we get to see it direct, no filter. It's telling us a lot. But let's back off from making the conduct of the press the issue
here. The press has reported accurately and fairly on Donald Trump and the business of lying, there was too much of it in the campaign by the candidate, there's too much of it going on now and let them learn from this lesson.
MCENANY: I don't think the press has necessarily been fair. It was important to me and revealing to me and insightful to me when you heard Sean Spicer say and describe as a real human being what it was like to watch the inauguration and then to go home and turn on the television set and hear this negative critique of what was supposed to be a day of coming together.
Just to give you a synopsis, "New York Times," "dark and angry speech," ABC journalist, "this was ugly speech with anti-Semitic overtones," NBC, "This was unnecessarily divisive."
[20:20:00] These are journalists describing a speech that a lot of Americans saw as re-empowering the people, giving the government back to the people. That's how a lot of people saw it. And when you have journalists not reporting the words of the president but instead characterizing it as dark, saying the same words in fact that came out of the mouths of Democratic senators, it is disappointing. And I think it's fair for Sean Spicer to push back on that.
BERNSTEIN: That's pretty dark.
JONES: Well, I mean, I think it's fair for people who have their own views. I have a different understanding of why it's so important for Trump and leaders like Trump to talk about the crowd size. You know, ordinary leaders rely on the Constitution as a source of their legitimacy.
But you get these kind of leaders that have these more authoritarian overtones, it's not the power of our Constitution, it's the size of their crowds. The legitimacy doesn't come from these documents. They come from the fact that I represent something. I represent these masses that are rising.
COOPER: But you're characterizing it as authoritarian overtones.
COOPER: There's another way you could look at it is that it comes from a Donald Trump who has a longstanding interest in his numbers, in his ratings on "The Apprentice", on the size -- I mean, he's talked about ratings his entire career, the size of his business. You know, even the size of the crowds at the CIA on Saturday.
BERNSTEIN: The size of his hands.
JONES: I wasn't going to say it. I wasn't going to say it. You said it. I didn't say it. Right on Twitter.
No, I wasn't going to say. No, listen, I think that most of us do see it as some kind of personality thing. It may be 80 percent personality, but I think it is also part of a strategy. He sees himself as a movement leader. And he sees himself as a movement leader who has now captured state power and he wants to use that on behalf of the movement.
But primary for him and his movement, and the way you measure a movement is by crowd sizes. When you diminish his crowd size, you know, who cares? This is a blow to his sense of legitimacy.
ROLLINS: I would agree. I think it's a very legitimate point. I think -- as I said earlier, he's a competitive guy, he does measure by those kinds of things, ratings, all the rest of it. I would argue at this point, the lessons I learned six decades ago when I was a young boxer is you never show pain. When you get hit hard, you never show pain.
And at the end of the day, he's now the president of the United States. He doesn't need to basically -- and he's never going to get the approval ratings. He's going to be a president who is below 50 percent through most of his term because we are a polarized society.
So, what he has to do is go out and accomplish things. He won the job. He now has the opportunity to govern and he has to govern in a way that's very unique in the sense that the Republicans now have a majority and he now is the leader o the Republican Party, he may not be the leader of the Republican philosophy.
And there may be time that he has to Democrats to lobby. He has to basically measure his accomplishments and four years from now, the American public has more jobs and feels about themselves, then he'll win again. That's the measure. Up until that point in time, it doesn't matter.
COOPER: Even, Margaret, I think Ed makes an important point and Kayleigh as well, which is that he's not an ideologue in a tradition sense. I mean, he has -- there's a lot of positions that conservatives are nervous about, which Republicans and many of the GOP are nervous about.
HOOVER: Very little about the inaugural address itself that conservatives can relate to.
HOOVER: And I think this will be --
COOPER: But that's an opportunity for him to get other people in who ordinarily wouldn't be --
HOOVER: Look, name the other Republican president who in the last half of the 20th century started his first day in office with 15 union members in the Oval Office for a photo op. I mean, what's very clearly happening, to me, it seems, is Donald Trump is trying to win over the union vote, win over the labor vote and realign that aspect of the Democratic Party with the Republican Party based on trade policy and protectionism. I mean, that is totally a separation from the past, from the conservative movement, from free market economics, from everything Republicans have really identified with.
How he threads that needle and that dance, how he finds sort of a new center for trade for the Republican Party is, you know --
COOPER: That's one of the things I think is going to be fascinating in the next four or eight years, however long the administration lasts.
COOPER: Just ahead, we're going to have more breaking news, new details about the investigation between Trump's national security adviser Mike Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
Plus, my interview with Senator Bernie Sanders. His take on investigation and President Trump's first day in office.
We'll be right back.
[20:28:02] COOPER: More breaking news to tell you about. New information tonight about an investigation to calls between Trump's national security adviser Mike Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the U.S. The conversations took place in late December.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about them in today's press briefing and our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins with us the latest.
So, what exactly it is that investigators are looking into here?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, Anderson, they're looking into phone calls in late December between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. We are told by law enforcement and intelligence officials that this investigation continues, and this is crucial, that they're not just looking into the phone calls themselves, rather the fact that they took place. They're looking into some of the content of these calls -- in other words, what was said on these calls which raises potential concerns.
I should say and make clear at this point that they have not established any wrongdoing so far by the national security adviser to Trump, General Flynn.
COOPER: So, why was U.S. intelligence listening to phone calls between Flynn -- I assume they were listening to phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador in first place?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. Well, this is part of routine eavesdropping on Russian officials, including diplomats here in the U.S. So, to be clear, Flynn was not the target. It was the Russian official here. This is something that U.S. intelligence agencies do, presumably Russian intelligence agencies do to American diplomats and others who are based in Russia.
So, that's routine eavesdropping. And sometimes when you're monitoring these calls, there might be an American on the other end of the line. And that by itself is certainly not incriminating, but as I said earlier, it's some of the content of those calls, what was said on those calls that is raising -- has at least raised questions which they continue to look into.
COOPER: And Sean Spicer was asked about this today. What did he say?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. So, he said that he spoke with General Flynn as recently as yesterday about these calls. He says that Flynn told him there were only two calls, one on December 29 and one just a few days ago. And on those calls, they did not, for instance, discuss sanctions because on December 29th, the reason that timing is important, that's the very same day the Obama administration imposed new sanctions on Russia for hacking of the U.S. election. But Spicer says that Flynn told him that all that was discussed was arranging a call between Putin and Trump, exchanging some pleasantries, et cetera. They say the Trump team says that those sanctions were not discussed.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right Jim Scuitto, thanks. The intelligence officials investigating Flynn, calls now have a new boss obviously President Trump, Leon Panetta served the CIA director in President Obama's first term and then serve his defense secretary. He joins me tonight.
Secretary Panetta, what do you make of this reporting out by CNN that U.S. investigator for scrutinizing calls between President Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S.?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I don't know that anybody ought to be surprised. It makes good sense. If you've got an FBI investigation going on into possible links between the Trump administration or Trump individuals and the Russians, that you would assume that all phone conversations between those within the administration and the Russians would be looked at to determine exactly what was said and just exactly what the relationship was all about.
COOPER: Should it at this point, though, interfere with Michael Flynn being able to do his job? I mean because at this point there's no evidence of any wrongdoing.
PANETTA: No, there's no evidence at this point, and I don't it should. I think Mike Flynn ought to be able to continue to do his work. We don't know of any specific information that indicates that there was anything that violated the law or violated the issue of whether or not there was in fact, a relationship here. COOPER: You know, I think some people have an idea out there that President Trump if he doesn't like something about an investigation, could just shut it down, whether it's a CIA investigation, FBI investigation, anything under the purview of the executive branch. It's not that simple, though.
PANETTA: It really isn't. You know, I've heard those same comments. And the fact is that, you know, I've served presidents of the United States who have been concerned about what was happening at the Justice Department, what was happening with the FBI, but realized there was very little that they could do to, in fact, interfere with that.
COOPER: When Donald Trump went to Langley, the CIA headquarters on Saturday, clearly it was an effort to mend any bridges that had been burned, to assure people of his support. He said he backed them 1,000 percent. But he also talked about how big his inaugural crowds were, insinuated that any rift between him and the intelligence community was simply made up by the media. Talked about I think how many times he'd been on the cover of "Time" magazine at one point, all of this in front of the CIA's memorial wall.
I know is -- when you were director of the CIA you lost intelligence officers, I think half a dozen or more, whose stars are very likely on that wall. What was your reaction to not only what Donald Trump said but also where he said it?
PANETTA: Well, you know, I was pleased that the president was going to the CIA to try to mend some of this relationship between the president and the intelligence community, but the fact that he stood in front of the memorial wall, which is as close as you can get to hallowed ground at the CIA, it is really, from my perspective, the same thing as speaking at Arlington Cemetery. And the fact that he talked initially about the importance of supporting their mission and how important it was to be able to back them and what they were doing, to then go off and talk about the numbers of people at the inauguration, to attack the press, to make some of the other statements that came right out of, you know, the campaign mode that he'd been in before. I just think was the wrong thing to do. And very frankly, I think it really demeaned his presence there at the CIA.
COOPER: Do you think he realizes that? I mean do you think the weight of the office, the understanding of the office has settled on him?
PANETTA: I'm not sure. I'm not sure yet. I think he almost thought like he was standing there and started talking the way he did, that he was before a Trump rally in the campaign trail. That's the way it felt. And I think he's got to recognize if he's going to be successful as president of the United States.
[20:35:05] He has to recognize that being president demands that you respect the responsibility of the presidency and that you exercise some discipline in what you say and how you say it because, you know, the power of the office of the presidency is that it commands respect. You're president. And if you misuse it, then I think you do incredible harm to the office itself.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, appreciate your time. Thank you.
PANETTA: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Well coming up next my interview with Senator Bernie Sanders and the inauguration of President Trump, the investigation to Flynn calls, the women's marches against Trump and the issues Sanders and Trump agree on -- trade.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight comes from President Trump's meeting with congressional leaders. During it he reiterated the unsubstantiated claim that 3 to 5 million illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the November election. As we said, it's been a busy day at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
[20:40:00] President Trump took a big step to undo America's trade ties signing an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership. Pulling out of the deal was one of his key campaign pledges, it's something he promise to do when he did. It was actually a goal shared by one of his opponents on the campaign trail, Senator Bernie Sanders. I talked to Senator Sanders earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want to talk to you about TPP and another -- a number of specific issues, but just overall I mean what do you make of this administration on its third full day in the White House, how do you think it's going?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Well, I think that the inaugural speech was certainly not what most Americans wanted to hear. I think what most Americans wanted to hear that President Trump should understand that he's the president for all of our people and not just those who voted for him. I think the incredible turnout yesterday in rallies and marches all across this country, unprecedented and larger, I think, than almost anybody could have believed should tell Mr. Trump and his cabinet that the American people are deeply concerned about his agenda, about his attack on women's rights and in many other areas.
COOPER: On the issue of TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, that's actually something you and the president are in agreement on. Were you encouraged that one of his first executive actions was to formally withdraw the U.S. from that trade agreement?
SANDERS: Well Anderson, as you know, millions of workers over the years have stood up and said that our current trade policies, whether it was NAFTA or CAFTA or PNTR with China has been an absolute disaster, that we have lost millions of decent paying jobs that we've been engaged in a race to the bottom. And during the campaign I spoke out very strongly against the TPP as did Hillary Clinton, as did Donald Trump. Yes, I am very glad that he is ending that. But what has to happen now are two additional factors. Number one, Mr. Trump right now owns factories in countries like Bangladesh, Mexico, China and Turkey where he's paying workers abroad very low wages. Now Mr. Trump during his inaugural said he believes in buy American, hire American workers.
Well, if he believes in that, he could set a great example by bringing those jobs back to the United States of America and hiring American workers here. Second point is, it's one thing to kill the TPP, which is a positive step, in my view. It's another thing to develop a trade policy which finally works for American workers and not the CEOs of large multinational corporations. And if Mr. Trump is serious about moving in that direction, I would be delighted to work with him.
COOPER: Just for accuracy's sake, I'm not sure that he actually owns factories overseas. I think some of his merchandise, his clothes were manufactured --
SANDERS: That's right.
COOPER: -- in factories overseas.
SANDERS: Yeah, that is correct. But the point is the same. The point is that he can and should be manufacturing those products, producing those products --
SANDERS: -- right here in the United States.
COOPER: I want to ask you about new CNN reporting and I want to be very precise about the language because it matters and it took -- with the CNN is reporting that U.S. investigators are scrutinizing late December calls between Mike Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser, and Russia's ambassador to the U.S. as part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian activities in the U.S. That's according to law enforcement and intelligence officials.
Now, the White House press secretary said today there have only been two calls between the two men, one of them just a few days ago and essentially topics discussed shouldn't raise any red flags. Do you take the White House at their word?
SANDERS: Well, Anderson, all that I can say, and not knowing very much about what CNN just reported, all that I can say are maybe two things. Number one, I think there's very little doubt that Russia hacked into our election and that they were supportive of Mr. Trump. The question of what kind of involvement Trump's campaign may have had with the Russians is something that should be looked at. I don't have the answer. But it's something that I think should be thoroughly investigated.
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COOPER: We're going to have more of my interview with Senator Sanders in the next hour of "360". We're going to talk about the women's march and where he thinks all that enthusiasm should go next.
Up next, more on President Trump's move to undo trade ties. His supporters say he's standing firm on his vow to make America great again. His critics say it's a move toward isolationism. We'll talk over with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, his not a Trump fan, and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord.
[20:48:22] COOPER: Well during the campaign Donald Trump made a promise about TPP and today he fulfill his campaign promise by signing executive order to abandon the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. The 12-nation trade deal had been negotiated during the Obama administration. And Mr. Trump says it doesn't do enough to protect American jobs.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We're going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that are taking everybody and of our country, and taking companies out of our country. It's going to be reversed. I think you're going to have a lot of companies come back to our country. Companies that left will come back to our country. They're going to hire a lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Trump also plans to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. Today he also met with the CEOs from several companies including Ford and Dow Chemical. Mr. Trump put them on notice, telling them if they move their businesses overseas, they'll place a (inaudible) border tax to sell their products in the U.S.
The President Trump and his supporters, today's moves are all part of his initiative to make America great again as he says, and put America first. Critics though fear it's also about isolationism.
Joining me now former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who's a UC Berkley professor and author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few". Also with us, Trump supporter, Jeffrey Lord, a veteran at the Reagan White House and CNN political commentator.
Secretary Reich, I wonder what you make of President Trump's approach in these first few days, particularly on TPP and NAFTA. Because he is very vocally campaigned on a platform of American protectionism as relate to trade. He was elected with those views, he wasn't hiding them. And now he is in a position to implement them. Isn't the simply what elections are about?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well to some extent that's absolutely right Anderson and I think that the Trans Pacific Partnership did have a lot of flaws. I was among those who felt it did need to be rescinded and the United States did need to withdraw from it. [20:50:05] I think that Donald Trump all he did today was basically put the last nail in the coffin. As far as NAFTA is concern, we do need stronger labor and environmental protections in NAFTA. And also there are a lot of -- there are lot of small things that can be done. NAFTA, it's a little late in the game, because a lot of companies that went to Mexico because of NAFTA have left Mexico and they're now in Southeast Asia.
But what worries me -- here's what really worries me, and that is, it's not just isolationism, it is Donald Trump's assumption that the world is basically a zero-sum game, in which there we win only to the extent that somebody else loses. That's Donald Trump's approach to life in general I suppose. But that's not the way the world economy functions, it's also not the way world politics functions. I mean his approach to Europe, in terms of being in different to European Union, saying that NATO is basically obsolete. Telling everybody in the world that America comes first and you got to really kowtow to us. Assumes that we do not depend upon the prosperity of other nations in the world and that is a very, very dangerous proposition.
COOPER: Jeffrey, is that a dangerous proposition?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I just think the secretary respectfully has misrepresented this. I mean one of the interesting things here, is in the last few days there were all of these calls for gee, we should be united, we should be united. Well, let's be clear here, Secretary Clinton reversed her position on TPP, separated herself from President Obama and agreed with Donald Trump. Senator Sanders wants the same pack done in with, which is what exactly President Trump did today. So there you have Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And I believe I just heard Secretary Reich say they're all on the same page here. That's unity, that's kumbaya in a political sense. So I think that's a good thing.
When he talks about you know, NATO for instance, et cetera, to say NATO was obsolete is not to say that it's not useful. It means that needs to be -- to use a modern-day term, it needs to be upgraded. You know, let's deal with terrorism, let's deal with some other things here.
COOPER: Well Mr. Secretary, when President Trump threatens to impose a border tax on good made outside United States as he did today to group of corporate CEOs, I mean that's really resonates with a large number of American workers who want their jobs to stay in the United States and like the idea of buying American made products.
REICH: Yes, but it will also is going to invite trade retaliation which going to hurt everybody. Look, I want to get back to this notion that we are in a positive some win-win situation with most countries in the world, economically, and with most countries politically -- obviously there are bad players and vicious players like ISIS. But to assume that America first is your policy slogan and your position in the world, in a global economy, in a political economy that is very complicated I think is very dangerous.
I have heard from a number of officials in Europe informally that they are confused, rattled, upset by what Donald Trump has stood for. The other thing and the other point related to this that I want to make, Anderson, is if -- if Donald Trump was really serious about good jobs in America, about strengthening workers' rights, about improving America's wages. He would come out slugging and favor of labor unions against -- or a lot of things that Republicans have been doing to destroy unions. He would be in favor of Obama's overtime rule, which he says he's going to rescind.
He would be in favor of the raising the minimum wage, he'd been in favor of -- of basically keeping the Affordable Care Act. But in all of these grounds he is going in the opposite direction of American workers.
LORD: Well, all I can say is, you know, let me give you a local example here from the middle of Pennsylvania. My dry cleaner complains to me at length, to -- I mean have learned more about the dry cleaning business than I ever thought I would know about NAFTA and its effect. About the minimum wage, I mean, these are things that affect local business as they try as hard as they can to employ people. These things are great in academia, they are great in theory but at the local level in fact they are not working. I'll just give you one quick example here.
Let me just you one quick example. Here is a guy who is being asked to clean ladies' garments and they bleed, which cause him money, because, you know, he has to pay for the garment. The reason they bleed is because they don't come into the country with the same standards, that's it -- because of NAFTA. That's part of the problem here.
In other words, what we've got is a disconnect between people who are operating in theory in Washington and people who are on the ground living with the results.
COOPER: Mr. Secretary --
LORD: Is very unpopular and can only tell you the dry cleaner voted for Trump.
REICH: Can I just be -- can I just add a note of realism here. I mean we're really talking fundamentally about and the real disconnect here is that corporate profits continue to rise -- have been rising now for 15 years. Over all CEO pay is now 300 times to pay of average workers.
[20:55:09] I mean, that's the real disconnect. Most people in this country have not had a raise in 30 years. And yes, part of the problem has been globalization without any attention paid to helping people get new jobs, that are good jobs, part of the problem is we have an educational system that really doesn't work for the majority of Americans. We don't have good access to college, we have a healthcare system that is really silly, I mean it's expensive, the most expensive in the world. And now Donald Trump --
LORD: You set it up, Mr. Secretary.
REICH: -- what we already have. Let me just say --
COOPER: But Mr. Secretary if Donald Trump --
REICH: There is -- there is a fundamental. Can I just -- there is a fundamental problem with regard to the allocation of power in this society. And you can't get away from that in describing what is happening to the economy. But Donald Trump is using kind of a, you know, citing these things on NAFTA and TPP, I mean, it's almost a smokescreen, it kind of divergent -- a dive from what is -- from what's really happening here and what the Republicans really want and what the patrons of the Republican Party are really seeking.
COOPER: Now, Mr. Secretary, if Donald Trump succeeds, if the rate of companies live in the U.S. laws, if job creation takes upward, would you give him credit for that?
REICH: Oh absolutely. I would give him enormous credit if we had not only more jobs, but more better jobs Anderson. One of the biggest problems is not --
REICH: -- the number of jobs but also the quality of jobs. And let me just add, that I don't believe and I don't think anybody looking at the global economy and global politics believes that it is just a they lose, and we win --
REICH: -- proposition.
COOPER: Jeffrey, a brief and we got to go.
LORD: Anderson, three words, save this tape.
COOPER: OK, Jeffrey Lord, we will. Robert Reich, thank you very.
There's much more ahead in our next hour. A very busy day for President Trump and his staff on their first week day on the job. Just a short time ago the Senate confirmed his pick for the CIA director, a lot of report from the White House, and all the key moments. Also reactions from our panel when we continue.