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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Blizzard Warning for Parts of 8 States; CBO: 24 Million More Uninsured in 10 Years; DOJ Wants More Time to Collect Evidence of Wiretap Claims. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 13, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
There is breaking news on three fronts.
The Justice Department fails to meet a deadline to supply evidence to support the president's allegation that Obama wiretapped him.
More than 100 people are facing what could be the biggest, nastiest late winter storm in decades. All that pink, that means a foot or snow or more, up to three feet in some place we're told.
And this -- 20 million more people could be without health coverage by 2026, 14 million next year alone. Now, that is not what President Trump has been promising. It is what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says about the House Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.
And that is where we begin tonight. Phil Mattingly has the latest on the CBO report, reaction to it, joins us now.
So, let's talk more about the headlines, first of all, from the report.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, start with the context. Republican aides knew this was not going to be a great number. They did not know it was going to be this bad. And you kind of hit the top lines -- 14 million uninsured after the first year. By 2026, that number jumps up to 24 million. Those are huge issues right now.
They, again, knew it was going to be a bad number. They knew the numbers weren't going to match up perfectly well with Obamacare. But that is a big number with very real political repercussions and very real policy repercussions.
Now, on the positive side for Republicans, there is a $337 billion decrease in the deficit based upon this bill. That is important for procedural reason, Anderson, moving forward. But it's also important because this is what they promised they would do. This is what they campaigned on. Now to the premiums, and I think this is one of the most important
elements here that you're going to hear Republicans talking about a lot going forward. They're saying we don't necessarily want to promise that everybody will have care, but everybody will have access to care. In the near term, the premium numbers aren't as good going forward. There will be increases in premiums based on this bill.
But as the bill moves forward, as it's implemented, you'll see premiums by 2020, by 2026 drop by roughly 10 percent. That is where you're hearing Republicans seize on right now. The top line budget numbers and the end game on the premiums are at least positives right now that the Republicans are trying to seize on, Anderson.
COOPER: Right. And Paul Ryan is certainly trying to do that. I mean, he is saying he is surprised as good as it is.
MATTINGLY: Yes, glass half full mentality I think from the speaker. But I think it's important to note -- this is exactly what Republicans campaigned on. They campaigned on repealing the individual mandate. They campaigned on repealing the Medicaid expansion program. These are the two primary drivers of why these numbers are so poor right now.
And the speaker made very clear, this is exactly how they designed it.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm excited about this analysis. And, yes, I think they sort of overestimate the uninsured number, just like they overestimated who would be insured by Obamacare. But I do believe that if we're not going to force people to buy something they don't want to buy, they won't buy it. And that's kind of obvious.
They say costs are going down in 2020 when our reforms kick in. As you know, we're doing a transition period because we don't want to pull the rug out from under anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Now, Anderson, that's going to be the pitch you hear going forward. But on the idea of not pulling the rug out of anybody, that's where the Medicaid expansion issue comes in. And when you talk to both conservatives and moderates on Capitol Hill, there is obviously sharp differences on how they view this going forward. This number only starts to cloud those defenses even more than they already stand as Speaker Ryan tries to make sure that they can move this bill forward through the House. These numbers just aren't helpful.
COOPER: What's the reaction from the White House?
MATTINGLY: Dismissal. I think this is the interesting element. While Speaker Ryan is willing to look at this report and say he's got some positive things, the White House is just saying -- rejecting it outright.
Take a listen to what Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower price and give them the choices that they want, for the coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government forces them to buy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Now, Anderson, an interesting element of this. The director of the CBO is somebody that Republicans put in place before this ever started to take place. The individual who put that director in place, then-House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, who is now attacking that individual.
But I think you recognize by that response, by Speaker Ryan's response, kind of the divergent responses I've heard over the past hours on Capitol Hill, that Republicans know this is a project.
I want to read one message I got from a Republican official who supports the House proposal right after he saw this number. He texted me, "Oof, we can recover. But this is not a good look for us."
They recognize that keeping their moderates happy, making sure that conservatives are OK with the plan, those are all necessities just to move this forward in the house. Then you get to the Senate. This is very complicated process going forward, before this number came into play. This top line showing up, this top line number being the headline in all the newspapers going forward and the headline in Democratic attack ads going forward -- well, they're going to create problems going forward, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly -- Phil, thanks.
Just to underscore now before our panelists debate this. So, we're all talking about the full set of CBO conclusions. The report estimates the deficit will shrink a lot.
[20:05:02] Medicaid spending will shrink a lot more. Eventually, average premiums will drop. And not before rising in the next couple of years. And for older Americans, it will rise by up to 25 percent.
Again, the CBO estimates that by 2026, 52 million Americans will be without coverage compared to 28 million under the Affordable Care Act.
Joining us is CNN senior economics analyst Steven Moore. He's a former economic adviser to the Trump campaign. Also, Robert Reich, professor of public policy at Berkeley, former Clinton labor secretary and author of "Saving Capitalism for the Many, Not the Few".
Steve, so, how do you square 20 million more uninsured by 2026, a 15 to 20 percent rise in premiums, we should point out in the short-term. Longer term, it's better. With what speaker -- how do you square that with what Speaker Ryan says the legislation does, which is lower premiums and improve access to quality affordable health care?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, Anderson, I don't believe this report. I think it's hocus-pocus. Remember, the Republican plan on health care throughout campaign and what they're saying today was two features. Repeal Obamacare. That's what CBO has scored. What they haven't scored is replace Obamacare.
So, it's going to be replaced with something else that will reduce cost, that will provide more competition and will make it more economical for people to buy insurance. You can have a system -- I talked to the Republicans where they say for the first two or three years, people are in the system are not going to lose their health insurance as the CBO reports.
One other thing, Anderson, I thought this report was a little bit exaggerated because under the current system, if we don't change things, tens of billions of people are going to lose their insurance because these costs are escalating so much.
I was just in Arizona two or three weeks ago, Bob Reich. There, the premiums for health insurance have doubled. Well, people can't afford it. They're going to drop their health insurance.
So, this idea that everybody is going to have insurance under Obamacare and nobody is going to have it under the Republican plan is I think fatuous.
COOPER: Secretary Reich?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, look, it's obviously a blow to the Republicans who are supporting this repeal and replace. And it was a replacement. That's what they advertised it as. It was supposed to replace Obamacare.
And Donald Trump said over and over again during the campaign and he said again after he was president that nobody would lose coverage. Well, here you have the Congressional Budget Office whose director was appointed by the Republican Congress, saying in effect that you've got huge losses. I mean, 14 million people the first year, 24 million people over 10 years.
Look, if I were a Republican, a member of Congress right now, I would be worried that possibly this bill could be enacted because then I'd have to run for Congress again and again, or I'd have to run for Senate when people were losing their health care and their health insurance and they're angry about that.
COOPER: Secretary Reich, is it people losing their health insurance or people choosing not to do it? I mean, it's not --
REICH: Well, look, now, that's mincing words. I mean, what kind of choice do you have if you can't afford it? I mean, that's when the Republicans are using these words like, well, you don't lose access. Of course, you lose access if you don't have any wherewithal.
I mean, 80 percent of the people under the Affordable Care Act had subsidies, and they could afford to get the Affordable Care Act.
Steve, when you say the premiums are going up, and yes, overall with regard to American health care, premiums and copayments and deductibles are going up. But if you have subsidies, if you are in the Obamacare Affordable Care Act, you are being subsidized. You are not actually suffering that kind of a loss.
Under this Republican plan, people actually are going to be hurt. And we can debate politics all we want. There are real people who are really going to be hurt.
MOORE: Look, first of all, I think if the Republican plan is going to fly, the Republicans have to make a guarantee the people are not -- who are currently ensured are not going to lose their health insurance, through Medicaid or whether it's through the exchanges and so on.
So, I think that's necessary, Bob Reich, that people will not lose their insurance for the first two or three or four years until we adjust to this new system.
REICH: But, Steve, how do you square request with what you just said with what the OMB said? I mean, do you think the OMB was completely out to lunch, that Keith Hall, a Republican conservative economist, you know him, I know him. He was appointed by the Republican Congress, you think he is wrong?
MOORE: No. I think he is not scoring the plan that Republicans are talking about.
What he scored is what happened if you totally repeal Obamacare. What he is not taking into account, there is going to be a new system that reduces the costs of health care, brings premiums down.
And, Anderson, the point I would make and I think Donald Trump would make this point is when you reduce the cost of the insurance, more people can afford it. I mean, the problem we have right now is we're going off this cliff, Bob Reich, where people average increase in the premiums across the country was almost 25 percent last year.
[20:10:03] Middle class --
REICH: Steve, I don't know --
MOORE: -- families cannot afford the current system.
REICH: Can you just -- can you just help me for a second. You say that he scored the repeal. He didn't score the replacement.
REICH: Now, where is the replacement if it wasn't in the Republican bill? When are we going to see a replacement if it wasn't already provided by the House Republicans and it is now being -- it has been marked up by at least two committees?
REICH: That's not a replacement? Where is the replacement?
COOPER: Steve, the Republicans are basically saying he didn't take into account other things that they're going to do in the future. But those things -- but there's no details on that.
REICH: What things?
REICH: Well, there are no details because there is no plan.
COOPER: Steve, go ahead.
MOORE: Let me give you a couple of examples. Number one, allow people to buy insurance across state lines. So, if I live in Virginia, I can buy a health care plan in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Utah that dramatically increases competition.
Under Obamacare, one in three counties, Bob, there is no competition at all. There is only one insurance company. So, that's going to lead to higher costs over time.
Another thing, we can do medical malpractice insurance reform. Another thing, well can provide subsidies to provide medical savings accounts that have proven in companies around the country.
REICH: You say that these are all possible. The Republicans had a chance to come up with a bill. They did not put any of this in the bill. They didn't put across state lines that you could buy health care across state lines.
MOORE: But it will be, though.
REICH: Why not -- but, but, you know --
MOORE: It's going to be a two or three-step process.
REICH: Why should Americans believe --
(CROSSTALK) MOORE: The first step is to get rid of Obamacare. Step two is to come forward with things we just talked about. Step three is get rid of some of the regulations that add to the cost of Obamacare, the mandated benefit package and so. And if you do all those things and we have real competition in health care, prices will go down.
But, Anderson, I'll make this point again --
REICH: Why -- I don't understand something.
COOPER: Don't talk at the same time. No one can understand you.
Secretary Reich, just finish up and we've got to go.
You're saying they should have done it all at once.
REICH: If Steve is correct -- if Steve is correct, why is a political matter when Republicans have put through this plan without a replacement? They would -- I mean, why would they have gone to all this trouble just to repeal without replacing when they say over and over again that it was repeal and replace? What is their strategy, Steve?
MOORE: What I'm saying is what the CBO said was essentially everyone who got health insurance under Obamacare is going the lose insurance under the Republican plan. That's a flat-out lie. There will be a system to provide subsidies to people who can't afford health insurance, but in a way that doesn't mandate various kinds of coverage, that doesn't destroy the job market and push people into part-time jobs and all the other problems that Obamacare has.
REICH: So, you think the Congressional Budget Office lied?
COOPER: We're going to continue this debate with our panel. Steve more, Stephen, great to have you. Robert Reich as well you.
To be continue speaking politics. We'll talk about that, and possible implications for the 2018 elections, next.
And later, breaking news on the deadline to provide evidence on the president's wiretap allegations, and new evidence the White House is trying to redefine what President Trump meant when he claimed that President Obama wiretapped him.
[20:16:24] COOPER: Twenty-four million more without health coverage by 2026, 14 million next year alone. Now, whatever else today's Congressional Budget Office report on the GOP Obamacare replacement bill says about budget savings, spending cuts and all the rest, those two numbers are certainly getting headlines.
Before the break, Secretary Robert Reich said if he were a Republican, he wouldn't be happy. Stephen Moore talked about more legislation to come, all with the midterm elections, of course, getting closer.
Let's talk about it with Democratic strategist Paul Begala, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borgia, former Reagan supporter, Jeffrey Lord, he's currently supporter and senior contributor to the "American Spectator". He also worked in the Reagan White House. Ryan Lizza is here. He's Washington correspondent for the New Yorker and joining us, "Daily Beast" senior columnist Matt Lewis.
So, Jeff, how does the president square what this plan does with the promises he made on the campaign trail?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In terms of the CBO and all that? Is that what you're saying?
LORD: First of all, in my youth before I worked for Ronald Reagan, I worked for a congressman who was on the Budget Committee. So, I had -- and I did his budget committee staff work.
I can only tell you, I mean, great people and all of this sort of thing, but they don't always get it right. To wit, our friends at the "Weekly Standard" say that in 2010, the CBO said that 23 million would be enrolled through Obamacare by 2017. It's now 2017, and that number is 9.2 million, which means they were off by 14 million, 48 percent. That kind of thing happens.
COOPER: But what they say is they didn't realize that first of all, Medicare, that some of the states would opt out of the Medicare expansion.
LORD: Right. But that's my point, Anderson, we don't know -- we don't know what the weather is going to be. It's going to snow, but how much? I mean, we don't know. We don't trust weathermen, you know?
So why should we trust the CBO? Not that they're not good people. But this is the problem perpetually in Washington.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, wait, are you saying that you think they're so wrong that no one is going to lose insurance? That people are going to gain insurance?
COOPER: But just because --
LIZZA: We know -- you don't have to be a CBO budget wonk to know that if you end the Medicaid expansion, millions of people who qualify for it now won't have it.
LORD: Millions lost their stuff because of Obamacare, right?
LIZZA: No, Obamacare, the un-insurance rate dropped precipitously. LORD: But people lost their plans. They lost their doctors.
LIZZA: No, no, Jeffrey --
LORD: They did. My mother lost her doctor. That's a fact.
LIZZA: That raised taxes and helped people buy insurance through exchanges and through Medicaid program, right? The expansion of Medicaid. So, the program spent money to get people insurance overall, right, even if there was some disruption --
LORD: Why do you assume --
LIZZA: -- in the system.
This plan, I don't think anyone, if this is what you're alleging, you would be the only one. I don't think anyone in America believes that this plan will ensure more people than Obamacare. Am I wrong about that?
COOPER: Matt, how do you see this?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think Jeffrey is trying to destroy the credibility of the sort of the discussion tonight is based around the CBO. And I think we would all concede of course there is no way that they can 100 percent accurately predict what's going to happen. There are so many moving parts in this thing. It's also the only thing that we have to go on.
And I think that Republicans demanded a CBO score with Obamacare and with other Democratic policies. This is all that we have to go on. And I think it's a really, really bad report.
I mean, first of all, this is a plan that really makes nobody happy. We talk for days about how conservatives aren't happy with it for a lot of reasons. But now you actually have a plan that is going to insure less people.
I don't think there is a political stomach for that. I don't think that can pass.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't either.
[20:20:01] And look, the metric that the Republicans are using is access, not coverage. And they will also say that because people aren't mandated coverage, of course, you're going to have fewer people.
COOPER: Right. Some people are going to choose not to get insurance.
BORGER: Because they're going to choose not to have health insurance.
LIZZA: That's true. BORGER: But I think you have to look at the magnitude of this, OK.
It's not three million people are going to lose their health care coverage or 10 million people. It's up to 24 million people over the next ten years. And that's a lot of people.
And in particular, let me also say that there have been groups who have done studies whereby this would hit the most. And it is those working class voters in red states. And those members of Congress, and Donald Trump himself --
LEWIS: Did you see the one, the CBO report if you were a 64-year-old guy making $26,000 a year, that your rates would go up. You would have to pay 800 times more.
LIZZA: The demographic that's hit the most if you're rural, white and lower income. That is the demographic --
BORGER: And in red states. And older.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's the political problem is that the people who are going to suffer about this, who lose their subsidies and who will lose their health care tend to be older and rural like the Trump base. People who are younger and wealthier who frankly voted for Hillary, they're probably going to be OK. They don't need the subsidy quite as much.
LEWIS: I've never seen a political party that actually goes after their own base --
LEWIS: -- like this. I mean, normally, you dispense --
COOPER: But this is what the Republicans were campaigning on. I mean, they said --
LORD: I mean, the assumption here --
COOPER: The mandate is going to be gone.
LORD: And I confess, I'm not that big of a fan of the Ryan plan, at least as I understand right now. I'm more on the Rand Paul, Ted Cruz sides of the ledger.
BORGER: You mean the Trump plan, don't you?
LORD: The -- thank you, Gloria. The assumption here is a free market system wouldn't work. I think that's wrong. I think a free market system would be better than Obamacare.
COOPER: But all these people who will be choosing not to have health insurance, when they get sick and they go to the hospital, they will still get care, and that care is going to be paid for by taxpayers.
COOPER: So, isn't that a cost -- I don't know if the CBO factored that in.
LIZZA: It was a famous Republican who made this argument, Anderson, back about 15 years ago. His name was Mitt Romney. And when he was putting health care through Massachusetts, he called people who wouldn't by health insurance and then went to the emergency room, he called them freeloaders, and he talked about how it was the closest thing to socialism you could have in health care.
LORD: That worked out perfectly well for President Romney, didn't it?
LIZZA: I'm just saying that that was the previous conservative arguments about why people don't who don't buy health insurance and freeload off the system by taking the most expensive care that they don't pay for, which is the emergency room.
LEWIS: Mitt Romney is the perfect example, because I'll tell you what this is. This is a land war in Asia. This is going into Russia, right? This is not -- if you were a political party, I would say the last thing you want to do is to go in and try to overhaul radical health care.
And they're doing it the way that Democrats did it, right, trying to pass it through reconciliation, a party line vote. I think they should do what Tom Cotton, a conservative Tom Cotton says take a deep breath. They need to really -- Paul Ryan --
BORGER: It's too late. It's too late. They can't back out of this now.
COOPER: Paul, how damaging do you think this is for Republicans?
BEGALA: It's catastrophic for Republicans. It goes after their base.
First, Trump made a cardinal promise. One of the reasons he did so well with older voters, he said, I will not cut Medicaid. This ends Medicaid as we know it, turns it into a block grant program, limits it and turns it over to states. It ends Medicaid as an entitlement.
The notion that somehow people want that -- people choose not to have health insurance. Paul Ryan, so, he reminds me of Anatole France, well, the law, in its majesty, it forbids the rich and the poor from sleeping under the bridge. The people who are going to choose are going to choose because they can't afford it and they're going to lose.
The person that Matt was talking about that the Congressional Budget Office cites is a 64-year-old man making $26,500 a year, currently paying 1,700 bucks under the Affordable Care Act, he will pay $14,600 under Trump care. More than half of his --
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We have a lot more breaking news, including the deadline the White House is facing to produce evidence President Trump's claim that President Obama ordered his phones tapped.
Also, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today about that when asked, whether or not we're supposed to take the president seriously.
We'll have more.
[20:27:26] COOPER: As we said at the top of the program, today was the deadline for the Justice Department to give lawmakers evidence of President Trump's as yet unproven claim that President Obama ordered Mr. Trump's skyscraper to be wiretapped.
There are late developments tonight. Jeff Zeleny joins us with that.
So, what are you hearing from the Justice Department and the House Intelligence Committee?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Justice Department asked for more time. They were facing that deadline today to turn over any evidence and they said they simply were not ready yet. So, they asked for more time.
The House Intelligence Committee said they could have at least a week but no more than that, or they would subpoena the documents. But it's unclear tonight if they're dragging their feet or if there simply isn't any evidence.
But here at the White House we saw the beginning of a new explanation to that Trump wiretapping claim.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump had his predecessor on his mind again today at the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people like him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much.
That's way life goes. That's human nature. The fact is Obamacare is a disaster.
ZELENY: He was talking health care, not his explosive allegation of President Obama spying on Trump Tower. Asked about that, Mr. Trump fell silent.
REPORTER: Will your Justice Department comply with the intelligence committee's request?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys.
ZELENY: The White House would not say whether any evidence would be produced. Yet the explanation has evolved over the last nine days. And did so again today.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there are two things that are important about what he said. I think recognizing that it's not the Obama -- he doesn't really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.
ZELENY: After saying last week, the president's tweets about the extraordinary allegations spoke for themselves, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said this today.
SPICER: There were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then. The president used the word "wiretap" in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.
ZELENY: But keeping them honest, that's not true. It was not widely reported surveillance took place in the campaign. And the president stated the wiretapping allegation as fact. In this tweet, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon Watergate, bad or sick guy."
At his first cabinet meeting later in the afternoon, the president again brush aid side a question.
REPORTER: Any comments on the wiretapping?
ZELENY: But one of his top advisers Kellyanne Conway muddied the already confusing waters over surveillance during a weekend interview in her New Jersey living room.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe that was --
CONWAY: There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their, certainly, through their television sets. Any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On CNN's "New Day" she tried clarifying her remarks to Chris Cuomo, saying she didn't have any evidence the president was being spied on, through a microwave or any other device.
CONWAY: I'm not inspector gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. However, I'm not in the job of having evidence. That's what investigations are for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Not in job of having evidence. Jeff, what's the next step for the investigation?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the House Intelligence Committee, Anderson, is holding its first hearing on this whole matter next Monday. That's where we could find out if there is any evidence or if there is not any evidence at all to any of this. But we do know the FBI Director James Comey will be one of the first witnesses.
Now we know that he does not believe this actually happened. At least that's what our reporting suggests. So he could be on the hot seat there. We could hear him publicly answer these questions for the very first time. That's one week from today, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. We'll be covering, of course. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Back with our panel. What do you make, Gloria, of this dance the Justice Department seems to be doing with the House Intelligence Committee basically asking for more time all leading up to the March 20th --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you can't mess with these intelligence committees. I think they take their oversight responsibilities really seriously. And today they were threatening subpoenas. They were re saying we want this information or we're going to get it one way or another. They're hysterious (ph) about it. Republicans as well as Democrats I should say.
So, they need to get this information as soon as possible or they're going to subpoena people or documents to get up there so they can get to the bottom of it.
COOPER: And Ryan, do you interpret Sean Spicer sort of -- seems to be moving the football or redefining exact what the president meant in those early morning tweets?
RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think they're starting to realize that, you know, be careful what you wish for, right? And the fact that the House Intelligence Committee is taking this seriously, right, is actually going to investigate it.
COOPER: Which is what the white house allegedly wanted them to do.
LIZZA: Right. So careful what you wish for. So I interviewed Adam Schiff today, the top Democrat on the Intel Committee and -- let me tell you, he's really excited about that March 20th hearing when he gets director -- excuse me, Dir. Comey in front of his hearing and he has to say one way or another, did this happen?
And I think up until this point, some of the tweets and misstatements that Trump has made have not necessarily had the same impact. But this seems like it's on a different scale. The fact that he made such a reckless accusation if it's not true, it seems that everyone has taken it a lot seriously, the press has, Congress has, and why? Why it is important that the president not say things that are not true?
At some point he's going to have to come before the American people and we're going to need to believe him. What if Iran is cheating on the nuclear deal and he needs to say look, Iran is cheating. He needs to convince allies. I mean, his credibility, there is nothing more important than credibility. That's why Spicer is doing this. COOPER: Yeah. It leads me to this other moment, I just want to show our viewers what happened in the White House briefing today. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is the question you still have not answered --
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have answered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say affirmatively that whatever the president says something, we can trust it to be real.
SPICER: Yeah, if he's not joking, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jeff, what does that mean?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it means what it says. I mean, everybody jokes. He's got a good sense of humor. He's also a New Yorker. He's sarcastic. But I want to go back to what we're talking about here. I was saying last week right here this evidence is all over the place. I have written about it. Other people have written about it. John Solomon, a 20-year AP reporter has written this long story at circuit.com with Sarah Carter. They looked into this. There was in fact surveillance of a Trump server. I mean let's get it all out there, the fact that it happened and it leaked all over the place for months.
COOPER: But the --
COOPER: -- you said last week which when you asked should the president be taken literally, which is --
COOPER: -- Nunes said that he shouldn't -- that the press takes him too literally.
COOPER: You said he should be taken seriously. That's essentially where the question is. Is should the president be believed?
LORD: I think he should totally be taken seriously that there was surveillance of the Trump campaign and it was leaked, absolutely.
COOPER: But not literally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey would you --
LORD: Well, no, no, I mean literally means there were people surveilling the Trump campaign and leaking the information that they gained to reporters.
COOPER: -- and words and emerge from his mouth --
LORD: That's right.
COOPER: -- and he understand the definition of those words, should we believe the president understands the definition of the words?
LORD: Anderson --
COOPER: -- that's literally, the words are literally what he means.
LORD: If you noticed that -- the tweet that he put out, he put the word wiretapping in quotes, right?
BORGER: Come on.
LORD: I mean, what he is trying to say is surveillance.
COOPER: I think he only did one of them.
LORD: I understood this a week ago. I mean -- I just -- I don't understand why --
BORGER: I don't know why we're seeing punctuation and suddenly from the president. If he says wiretapping, he means wiretapping.
[20:35:2] LORD: And "The New York Times" said there was wiretapping.
MATT LEWIS, THE DAILY BEST, SENIOR COLUMNIST: Sean Spicer says the president was very clear. He always says that, right? Every time Sean Spicer -- the president was very clear that when he put quotation marks around that he's not very clear. And maybe --
LORD: I got it.
LEWIS: -- but if you're the only who gets it out of everyone here, that's a problem.
LORD: That's why I'm here, Matt.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If, in fact, if in fact he was being surveilled, it was on a court order, not by order of the president of the United States that can't requested by somebody. Not by the president.
LORD: By somebody in his administration.
BEGALA: By the intelligence and law enforcement. I don't know. He is either under investigation or under Medicaid, OK? I don't know which is worse for him, to think that our president is nuts? Waiting for his fillings to tell him the latest thing from the CIA or he is legitimately cooperated by a foreign power who hacked our election.
COOPER: You're saying the president didn't mean that Pres. Obama had ordered this or wanted this, that you're now willing to say oh, maybe it was just somebody in the Justice Department?
LORD: I said at the time, the president of the United States whomever that may be is responsible for the actions in their administration. That's the way it works for Reagan, that's the way it worked for --
COOPER: But the president of the United States was make allegation that former president had ordered a wiretapping.
LORD: That's not what he said.
BORGER: But he said he order it.
LORD: But, Anderson, this is where your getting to be too literal. I mean the point is --
COOPER: I think, shouldn't we all take the president of the United States literally?
LORD: We should have an understanding when you say the president is responsible, Ronald Reagan was not responsible for Iran/contra. It was two of his staff people. They held Ronald Reagan personally responsible for doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Trump should not be responsible for what he says in his tweets?
LORD: Of course. Of course. Read the tweet. He put the quotes around it.
BORGER: But, you know, -- so every time --
BORGER: -- are we supposed to wonder whether there are quotes around his words or not? Or whether it's --
BEGALA: He accused the president of surveilling. There is no way around it.
COOPER: During the Clinton administration, --
COOPER: -- when Kellyanne Conway suggests that, you know, microwaves or, you know, to her local newspaper that they could have been spied on through microwaves, Chris Cuomo, I'm not in -- well, she said to Chris Cuomo I'm not on the job of having evidence. Isn't -- I mean it gets the whole literal idea. It's amazing that someone will come forward and present things and talk and just freely meant well, I have no evidence. It's not my job to have evidence.
BEGALA: It is -- I was (inaudible) with our president. It goes back to in the Nixon days when his Press Secretary Ron Ziegler who famously say that statement is no longer operative. Ok, that's at least -- because he was trying to advance the line of the cover-up. And then as more information came out, they realized Nixon was lying when he had his press secretary say that. This is a whole new thing. This is like paranoid delusions or guilty knowledge.
Donald Trump and his people are really acting like they're guilty. I have to say for the record there is no evidence of collusion --
LORD: Thank you.
BEGALA: -- by the Trump people with the Russians.
LORD: Endless stories, though. Endless stories about this with no evidence.
BEGALA: -- really acting like guilty people or they're acting like crazy people. I don't know which is worse.
BORGER: But at some point the public is going to say somebody needs to be held accountable. And usually the buck stops at the president's desk. You're right about that.
BORGER: But Donald Trump likes to say the buck stops there not that it stops here, that it's always somebody else who does something wrong.
LORD: So why doesn't that apply to Pres. Obama as well?
BORGER: Well, but --
LORD: The buck stops with Pres. Obama.
BORGER: But Donald Trump said that Pres. Obama ordered a wiretap.
LORD: He knew about this --
BORGER: Whether it was in --
LORD: -- in the newspaper. Didn't he --
BORGER: -- that Pres. Obama ordered it, which would have been illegal.
LORD: He didn't stop it, did he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the show a week ago --
BORGER: I don't know anything about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- when he had "The New York Times" reporter on the show right here of the article that you were citing, and he said you're 100 percent wrong, and that the article did not say what you said it said last week and what you're saying it says tonight. It was like the scene from that Woody Allen movie we had the reporter.
COOPER: -- right there.
All right, listen, in the break. We got a quick programming. You know, coming up at top of the hour, CNN's Fareed Zakaria digs deep. Examines the question, did Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin used his power to elect Pres. Trump, the most powerful man in the world? The CNN documentary, that's just ahead 9:00 p.m. Eastern and pacific.
Up next, during this hour, Iowa Republican Steve King doubling down on his tweet that set off a firestorm, he says, "You can't we build your civilization with someone else's babies." The fallout ahead.
[20:41:47] COOPER: Immigration was obviously a divisive issue in the U.S. presidential election. It's also key issue in elections overseas. Over the weekend Iowa Congressman Steve King tweeted his support for Geert Wilders, a from-right candidate for Prime Minister in the Netherlands who opposes immigration.
King is you may know is a powerful Republican, a frequent critic of illegal immigration. He tweeted, "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with someone else's babies." His tweets set off a firestorm of social media and beyond. But this morning on CNN's New Day, King doubled down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: -- exactly what I said it is always is the case, Chris. And to expand on that a little further, I've been to Europe, and I've spoken on this issue. And I said the same thing as far as 10 years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that doesn't -- isn't willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I've said to them, you can not rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. And in doing so, then you can grow your population and you can strengthen your culture. You can strengthen your way of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A lot to stay with the panel. Joining is Paris Dennard, former White House a Director of Black Outreach for Pres. George Bush, also Keith Boykin, Democratic Strategist and former Clinton House Aide and Republican consultant Margaret Hoover. All three are CNN political commentators.
Paris, there's a lot of people heard the comments that the congressman made and say look that sound racist, is it? PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there's elements of what he said that are certainly, absolutely cannot be defended and are terrible. But I think what people have to remember is he does not represent the entire Republican Party.
COOPER: Should other elements -- I mean there are -- some in the GOP have come at him. Should the president come and say that's not my Republican Party?
DENNARD: No, I don't think so. Because I think that if every person in the party came out and said something crazy and the president responded to it, even members of Congress, he would spend most of his time doing that. I don't think it's appropriate use of his time.
COOPER: -- who respond in just about everybody else who he disagrees with on Twitter, I mean Meryl Streep, I mean Alec Baldwin.
DENNARD: I think the president has been on record denouncing things like the elements of this, that he's come out strongly against racism and against sexism and against things that some people say that Steve King represents. I think he has done it effectively.
COOPER: Keith, that enough?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's enough. It's a part of a larger pattern of racism and xenophobia within the Republican Party. I think there is a troubling tendency on the part of Republicans to say offensive things, and then for Trump and other Republicans either say nothing or to come in defense of those statements.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is the first 100 days. And nobody -- I mean I bet you weren't speaking out against Pres. Obama in the first 100 days of his administration. And this is the uncomfortable place that Republicans are in -- hold on -- is that while many of us disagree with lots of what he is saying I think are very uncomfortable with some of these trends in American politics realigning themselves or threatening to realign themselves with the Republican Party, there is also the promise of really useful policy reforms that conservatives and Republicans like me have wanted for a very long time. So it puts people in a very uncomfortable position. I agree with you. I think this would be very useful --
BOYKIN: But --
HOOVER: -- Donald Trump to draw a line.
COOPER: You didn't say what Congressman King is that -- was racist. And I think, you know, it's -- that term is -- it's very easy to label somebody racist. But in terms of what he said, I mean he also talked this morning about some, you know, groups in society are more productive than other groups in society. I mean, doesn't that sound racist? [20:45:17] BOYKIN: Look, I do not like to put labels on people, because I think that's the easiest thing to do in American politics today.
COOPER: No, I'm not saying he's. I'm saying the comments sound racist.
DENNARD: I think the comments are deplorable. I think the comments are horrible. And I wouldn't make them. I don't think anybody in my family would make them. And I don't think the president of the United States would make them. I don't think anyone in the Republican Party at the national leadership would make those comments. That's why you've seen the chairman of the Iowa GOP denounce them. That's why the Speaker of the House (inaudible) Tim Scott and others denounce the comments. But calling somebody a racist when you don't know their heart is something I do not do and that liberals like to do, but I won't do it.
BOYKIN: But, do we know that the statement was racist. If you talk about an America where we're not concerned about other people's babies, it's hard for me to see how these Republicans say they believe all lives matter when they're only concerned about certain lives, apparently white Christian, heterosexual lives.
DENNARD: Liberals talk about all lives matter or babies matter like, but they did not stand up for right of the unborn. So let's be fair.
BOYKIN: But you're the ones who are saying -- liberals aren't the ones that are saying it. That's what the hypocrisy is here. I think it's time --
DENNARD: There is no hypocrisy.
BOYKIN: Yes. It's time for the Republican Party and people like Paris and I think Margaret is starting to do this and others, maybe even doing for a while, but it's time for the Republican Party just to represent something more than Donald Trump or else they're going to be going down with the ship that is Donald Trump.
DENNARD: -- free enterprise, smaller government, there is a host of things that we represent.
BOYKIN: But Donald Trump is the one who said that the immigrants were coming in from Mexico are rapists. Donald Trump is the one who said that Muslims are terrorists and he needed to ban them from entering the country during the campaign. Donald Trump is the one who said that black people are living in hell holes in the United States. Donald Trump is the one who talked about grabbing women's genitalia, it came out during the campaign.
COOPER: But Paris you are making a distinction between things that -- I mean Keith is pointing to things that Donald Trump said either as a civilian talking the central park five.
COOPER: Or as a candidate. And you make a distinction about what he has said as president.
DENNARD: I think there is a difference. I think the American people who came out to vote for him would able to make that distinction. They said I may not like the things this man said as an entertainer or as someone who was never planning on being the United States. But that does not incapacitate him from being a leader. It does not make him incapable of being --
COOPER: I think there is nothing worse than painting people with a broad brush, people who voted for Donald Trump as all being of one like mind. And, you know, a lot of liberals were saying who are people are going for Donald Trump. I think that's unfair you. You talked to people voting for Donald Trump. You know, they didn't like everything he was saying.
COOPER: But they felt he was representing the issues that were most important to them. But you -- Keith, you think -- I mean you do seem to be painting with a pretty broad brush. You are basically saying the Republican Party is now the party of Donald Trump, and you believe that is a party of racism?
BOYKIN: Yeah, well, the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump. He is the one they nominated to be their standard bearer. He became the president, 90 percent of Republicans voted for Donald Trump. And they still support Donald Trump. So you can't walkway from your man who is the head of the party and say that he doesn't represent us.
HOOVER: I think we really need to like put the brakes on and just pause that Steve King is a right-wing fringe Republican from a very safe district in a very, very conservative part of Iowa, OK. A state, by the way, that takes an immigrant, welcomes them, took hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people after the Vietnam War. I mean, it really welcomed. Who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, right? Not a racist state, not a racist place.
Steve King is on the fringe of the Republican Party. He said the war on terror would be over if Barack Obama won because (inaudible) and Al Qaeda will be dancing the street. He played footsie with birtherism. I mean this is a Congressman who doesn't represent the best in the American politics, let alone the Republican Party. So the characterization that somehow this is mainstream, I think is just --
COOPER: We'll have to leave it will there gentlemen, thank you Margaret, thank you so much.
Up next, the newly released security camera video of Michael Brown just hours before he was fatally shot by police. It's raising new questions, reopening old wounds. Exclusive new details on the video question coming up.
[20:52:35] COOPER: A new documentary that premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival over the weekend may shed new light on the last day of Michael Brown's life. And it depends really on who you ask, but no one dispute this. Brown was shot to death by police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, as you know in summer of 2014.
Now, new surveillance video is raising some new questions about the 18-year-old's final hours. Nick Valencia has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The video starts with Michael Brown walking into the Ferguson market just after 1:00 a.m. He walks to the back of the convenience store and pulls out two sodas and then makes his way toward the counter.
According to documentary filmmaker Jason Pollock, the surveillance video then shows a barter between Brown and the store clerk. It proves he says that Brown was no theft and actually had a relationship with the convenience store.
Pollack says Brown is trading a small amount of marijuana for two boxes of cigarillos. It's the same cigarillos, Pollack says that Brown came back for the next morning, a scene that played out in this now infamous surveillance video released shortly after police shot and killed Brown.
It appears to show Brow robbing the store owner. But the new video Pollack insists, proves that Brown did not commit a strong arm robbery as police say. Instead, Pollack says, Brown was simply coming back for what he left behind the night before. The attorney for the Ferguson Mart says Pollack is misleading the public.
JAY KANZLER, ATTORNEY FOR FERGUSON MARKET: There's no transaction. There was nothing even remotely close to what the filmmaker said.
VALENCIA: In a sit-down interview Ferguson Mart Attorney Jay Kanzler showed CNN what he says happened in an unedited clip of the surveillance video.
KANZLER: Right there, he puts the bag back down. And this is where he's going to pick up, the pot that's on the counter. There it is, right there, the paper is in the left hand. The pot's in the right hand. We just saw that his hand was empty before that. He gives the bag back, and now he's got something in each of his hands, and that's the pot he just picked up off the counter. And none of this is in the documentary film. He made it look like a 15-second transaction between friends.
VALENCIA: Not only was there no deal, the attorney says but in the full version of the video you see the clerk here restock the cigarillos and the sodas after Brown leaves, proof counselor says that there was no deal for Brown to return for them, as allege in the documentary.
KANZLER: As the videotape clearly demonstrates, that wasn't the case at all. There was a rather heated exchange of words about this notion that he could buy products with pot, and when they wouldn't let him do it, he left angry.
[20:55:03] VALENCIA: The video is inconclusive, and CNN can't draw a conclusion. Kanzler says all it does is reopen old wounds that were never quite healed.
KANZLER: All of this because a filmmaker put out a deceptive, badly- edited version of what clearly was a non-transaction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Nick Valencia reporting from Ferguson. He reports that the filmmaker is yet to response to the attorney's assertion that he's lying. The county prosecutor is also claiming that Jason Pollack is misleading the public. For his part, the film's director told CNN earlier today that he never edited the clip and that the video speaks for itself.
Nick also reporting the unedited video that he saw seems to draw into question what Pollack is saying.
Meantime in Washington, another news, the snow is now falling. Blizzard warnings are up. We'll have the latest on how bad things might get, next.
[20:59:49] COOPER: More breaking news tonight, a blizzard warning in effect tonight for parts of eight states, including New York City, Boston, the mass of northeaster expected to dump more than a foot of snow with wind, gusts in upwards of 50 miles an hour at some places. Winter is certainly not over yet.
Time now for the CNN Special Report, the most powerful man in the world.