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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
GOP Faction: Health Care Bill Will Fail; Radio Silence from Pres. Trump on Wiretap Claims. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 21, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Washington.
We begin tonight with President Trump trying to do what he says he does best -- close the deal. Some in his party rooting against it, even predicting failure this evening.
Speaking tonight at a dinner for congressional Republicans, he pushed again tonight for the House Republican legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This is something Republicans have been trying to do now for seven years, something they campaigned on, so did the president who also promised better, cheaper health care and insurance coverage for all.
The new legislation does not deliver on that, which is one problem. Some Republican members of the Freedom Caucus, they believe it already delivers too much spend and not enough cost savings, which left the president today with perhaps the biggest sales job of his presidency.
More from Phil Mattingly.
REPORTER: Can you get the votes, Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Think so.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump on Capitol Hill trying to close the health care deal, while laying out the stakes. The president, sources tell CNN, warning Republicans behind closed doors their seats and the entire GOP majority will disappear if the bill fails -- something Speaker Paul Ryan agreed with.
(on camera): The president told your members he believed many would lose their seats if this doesn't pass. The majority was at risk. Do you agree with that assessment?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes.
MATTINGLY: And do you believe that you guys have done enough to assuage their concerns?
RYAN: Absolutely. MATTINGLY (voice-over): House members in the room with the president
saying his deal-making skills were on full display.
REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: There was no animosity. There was no browbeating. It was a great, fun message the president had, which was -- I got tell you, the guy is talented.
MATTINGLY: But not everyone listening was convinced.
REPORTER: Did you change your mind at all?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: No. I said the president did a great job and I appreciate the president, but the bill is still bad.
REPORTER: So, you're going to vote no on Thursday?
JORDAN: That's what I plan to do, yes.
MATTINGLY: And the chairman of conservative House Freedom Caucus warned support isn't there enough.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: There still are not enough votes to pass this particular bill.
MATTINGLY: That even after Republicans sweetened the deal designed to bring both sides closer together, adding block grants for states to deal with Medicaid, including work requirements for enrollees, and trying to convince moderates, promising $75 billion in tax credits to make the bill more appealing to older Americans. Still, it's unknown if the changes will be enough.
Win or lose, Trump is all in on a bill that's still very much hanging in the balance.
COOPER: Phil Mattingly joins us now from Capitol Hill.
You've been talking to sources throughout the day. Do we -- do we know, Phil, where the vote stands right now exactly?
MATTINGLY: They're short, and that's just the cold reality here right now, Anderson. When I talked to GOP sources, those that are supportive of the bill, they acknowledged that there's work to do, but it's work that's being done. Obviously, President Trump's visit to Capitol Hill, a very important moment, a moment that both the White House and GOP leaders have been saying was coming for weeks now, definitely the last couple of days.
But now, the real work is going on behind the scene. You have Paul Ryan, the speaker, basically clearing his schedule to be able to meet with any members that have concerns. You've seen some of those Conservative House Freedom caucus members shuttling over to the White House in small groups, an effort there to try and peel them off. Vice President Mike Pence also on Capitol Hill, meeting with some of those same members. But the question now becomes, can they close the deal quick enough?
That vote is still scheduled for Thursday, Anderson, and there's no question, whether you're talking to the conservatives that have problems with this, moderates who still won't get onboard, or leadership sources themselves, there is work to do on this bill if they want to get it across the finish line just in the House.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly -- Phil, thanks very much.
Shortly before airtime, I spoke with a skeptic of the bill, Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Garrett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM GARRETT (R), VIRGINIA: I am still a no vote. I will tell you I'm very, very confident right now that there are not the votes to pass this bill as it stands. So, if they want to have a vote Thursday, I think that's going to end up putting some egg on some folks' faces. But that doesn't mean we'll abandon health care reform. It has to be done.
Again, we can't ignore the reality that is the ACA, a reality where in a third of the localities nationwide, there's one choice in providers, therefore, obviously no choice. But I don't -- what I don't get is the impetus that this must be done right now on Thursday, some sort of do-or-die date. It's not. Again, it's to get it done right away. It's to get it done right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman Garrett is part of that Freedom Caucus.
Well, let's bring in the panel. Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger, Trump supporter and "American Spectator" senior contributor, Jeffrey Lord. Also with us, CNN political commentator, former Clinton campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, former Obama campaign communications director, Jen Psaki, and former Trump senior communications adviser, Jason Miller.
Gloria, I mean, will they bring this to a vote Thursday if, in fact, they don't think they have all the vote?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, if they don't think they have the votes, there's no reason to bring it to the floor and I think Paul Ryan can probably count pretty well. So, at this point, they're moving full steam ahead and I think the president going up to the Hill was a pep rally, but it also was kind of a warning shot across the bow.
He said to people there, look, if we don't pass this, many of you are going to lose your seats. What was left unsaid, I might go out and campaign against you or, by the way, we might try and find somebody to primary you.
[20:05:04] And so, there is a little bit of fear here I think and I think members are going to always vote in their self-interest because that's what they do. And they're going to have to decide whether it's in their self-interest to buck the president at this point and stick with their principles if you're a conservative, or if it's in their self-interest to get a win sort of right out of the block, so they can say we ran on repealing Obamacare and replacing it.
COOPER: David Gergen, I mean, President Trump is clearly all in on this version of the bill. I mean, he's --
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he is, and good for him. I'm glad he's going down there in the arena and wrestling with this and trying to bring voters over. That's what a good president does. So, I think he deserves credit for that.
But I must it will you, Anderson, if you look at the rest of his presidency, if that had been successful, he'd been 65 percent in the polls right now, he would definitely win this vote.
But being 37 or 40, or whatever the number --
COOPER: It has an impact.
GERGEN: I think it's harder.
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: And, look, let me tell you, Donald Trump is not going to go campaign against Republicans in the midterm elections next year. That's just not going to happen. And some of the guys he's pointing to --
BORGER: Well, he might have in the primary, though. They're being --
LIZZA: Maybe he can encourage --
BORGER: You never know.
LIZZA: Think about it. They have a narrow majority in the house. His priority is not going to be to campaign against fellow Republicans. The guy he pointed to today as jokingly as someone who needed to change, Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, he won his general election by 30 points. He didn't even have a primary.
These guys know their districts pretty well. I think they know and, obviously, they're making the calculation support Trump or oppose what they think of as Obamacare light. In the primary, what can they say? Their opponents are going to say, well, you know, you didn't support our president. They're going to say, well, wait a second, this was Ryan care, Obamacare light bill --
BORGER: You broke your promise, that's what they'll say.
LIZZA: Well, the opponent might say that.
LIZZA: Maybe, but these are the most conservative members of the House. They are in gerrymandered districts where they win the general election by overwhelming majority. So, they're extremely conservative districts. They have Breitbart and other organizations on the right on their side opposing this legislation.
Jason, would you advise the president to go out this fast on Obamacare? Because there were other -- you know, could have done tax cuts, could have done infrastructure. The president even talked about this the other night saying I wish I had been able to do something else.
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, structurally, they need to go with the Obamacare repeal and replace before they get to tax cuts and some of these other things. I know it's been debated a little bit, but seems to be the consensus that they need to take this on first.
But keep in mind, Anderson, that this is something that Republicans have been running on for the last six years. I would not want to be a Republican up for election in 2018 who voted against the chance to repeal and replace Obamacare. They've made some key adjustments to the bill, I think this week, that I think will bring on board both conservatives and moderates. I think this is going to pass on Thursday.
COOPER: Given that they've been running on this for seven years, should they have more of their ducks in a row in this?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the dynamics have dramatically changed. Yes, they've been running on it for quite some time but Obamacare is now at 53 percent approval rating in the latest Pew Poll. Trump's approval rating is 37 percent, 38 percent, whatever it may be.
So, if you're a Republican, put the conservatives aside, if you're moderate Republican in the House or the Senate and you're looking at the politics of it, you're looking at the fact that not only are the politics questionable but people will lose their health care, you have seniors who are going to have a tax on them, people are going to be kicked off Medicare, people with disabilities are going to be screwed over, that's not a hard political call far lot of people. So, the dynamics have dramatically changed and the politics I think have changed far lot of people as a result.
COOPER: Jeff, do you buy a lot of Democrats are saying this plan is going to hurt the very people who voted for Donald Trump?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think they are going to be saying that. To be perfectly candid, when Obamacare came in, I mean, I was running a column for instance about a man on Long Island who lost his life to which his daughter attributed Obamacare. So, there are lot of people who are angry about what happened when Obamacare came into being.
And politically speaking with all these conservatives, I've talked to some of them, they look at this and Margaret Thatcher's old phrase which we've mentioned before about the socialist ratchet, which is to say that liberal or labor governments in Britain, and democratic governments in Europe move the country left, then a Republican comes in and basically sits on it until the next time and it keeps moving further left.
It's their job to move it back in the other direction. And some of them really do see this Ryan care package as the socialist ratchet that's been moved left by Obamacare and they want to sit and hold onto the fort here. And they're opposed to that and they're going to fight it and I think that Donald Trump's challenge, this is uniquely meant for him.
COOPER: Brian, do you call it Ryancare or Trumpcare?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's hugely unpopular. And it begs the question, knowing that they don't have the votes, why are they rushing so quickly headlong into this strategy of having this vote on Thursday? It's because they're staring at a congressional recess in a couple weeks and these Republican leaders on Capitol Hill know that if these squeamish members have to go home and face their constituents like they did a month ago when you saw these town hall protests, that this bill is DOA after the recess.
[20:10:10] So, they're trying to jam it through. They're actually fulfilling every criticism that they made about Obamacare in 2010. They're rushing it through, lack of bipartisan support. They're putting in pet provisions to buy off members in Upstate New York. And so, I think that the longer this thing hangs out there, the more it rots. Republicans knows they're in a race against --
COOPER: Congressman Garrett who I talked to earlier was saying that, you know, everyone -- the Republicans are talking about this is just the first leg of it, there's two other. Garrett says he doesn't think they'll get around to a second or third one after this is passed, they're going to move on to other stuff and kind of, that's what he's concerned about.
BORGER: I think he's got a really good point here. First of all, the reason they're doing it quickly is because of the budget. They want to do it under this budget bill so they don't -- they can only pass with a majority. Part two and part three, as Paul Ryan is talking about, well, if you can barely get this through, how are you going to get anything else through the Senate where you're going you have to break a fill buster?
LIZZA: They have a theory about that.
BORGER: That's kind of the land of the unbelievable.
LIZZA: Their theory is if they pass this legislation, right, the parts -- I guess part three, Democrats will accept the fact that now that Obamacare has been changed and the other legislative fixes they need will get some buy-in from Democrats, right, that Democrats will oppose it no matter what, but once it becomes law, they might join hands and get those 60 votes in the Senate.
GERGEN: I have an unorthodox view about this. I think they made a mistake going first with this. They have gone with their tax cuts and their infrastructure, because the most important thing to do is lift the economy. Everything else will flow from that. They can survive a month back and forth on health care as long as you got a strong economy.
And we had a rally after the -- you know, a big stock market rally. But that's in question. If they have to spend three, four, five months now, you know, trying to find some solution in, and you push tax cuts and infrastructure way back, it is waylaid into your term.
LIZZA: Even Trump seemed to make that argument last night. If you watch and listen to his speech, he was basically, we've got to do this Obamacare thing now, then we're going to get to tax cuts.
MILLER: I think they're going to get into tax cuts pretty quick and one thing that I would say with regards to these phases two and three, I think they need to get those out there and start pushing those a lot more, and let's start making the Democrats who are running in tough seats in 2018 start saying no and why they oppose things selling insurance across state lines, the Joe Donnellys in Indiana, the Claire McCaskills in Missouri.
They need to be putting the pedal to the metal on this and I don't feel that they're pushing the sense of urgency.
PSAKI: We don't know what's in part two and three, and unless part two and three are addressing the huge gaps that are going to be getting left for people who are on Medicaid now, unless it gives funding to Planned Parenthood, I don't think Democrats are going to rush to it.
COOPER: Right. We've got to take a break.
The president finished speaking just a short time ago a few blocks from here. It's a day after FBI Director Comey publicly rebuked him. We've been monitoring the remarks. We'll tell you just what he did not talk about next. Guess what?
Later, Ivanka Trump has no official title in the White House, no official role, so why is she now getting a top secret security clearance? Something that candidate Trump said he was not going to be doing for any of his kids. Details when we continue.
[20:16:59] COOPER: For the second night since FBI Director James Comey publicly called him out over his now widely debunked that President Obama wiretapped him, President Trump had a public event, his speech to congressional Republicans this evening. Once again tonight, he did not say a word about it.
More now on this from our Jeff Zeleny at the White House.
The wiretap claims, has the White House said anything else about providing proof today?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the White House says they're standing by it, the president is standing by it, but if that's true, he's not standing by it very loudly. The White House has not said anything about this at all this week. It's certainly is an uncomfortable moment. It's been rejected all across Washington from Capitol Hill to the FBI, every place but here at the White House.
And Sean Spicer, the White House press, was even asked about it today at the briefing. Listen to how he answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Can we expect the president to this week present evidence that he was wiretapped by President Obama or will he speak about it? Because he didn't mention it last night in his rally in Kentucky.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right. Let's see how the week goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Let's see how the week goes. So, hardly a fulsome response. But the president again has not denounced this. They say he stands by it. We'll see if he ever explains what he was talking about.
COOPER: Right. Because, I mean, as of now, I think the only thing he's explained was in an interview I think on FOX in which he basically said he saw something on Bret Baier and also, I think he talked about New York -- correct me if I'm wrong, talked about the "New York Times" and we've already discussed how "The New York Times" did not actually report that.
ZELENY: Exactly. "The New York Times" did not report that. But he's not ever apologized as John McCain and others have asked him to. But the question here is about his credibility. He's trying to sell a major legislative agenda item, the health care bill, to Congress.
He has an approval rating of 37 percent. It eats away at his ability to do that. It certainly is making it more difficult for moderates to come on board and other things here.
So, the question of credibility is one that hangs over this White House, much more different than they certainly thought it would be nine weeks in.
COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Back now with the panel.
I mean, Gloria, the credibility issue I think is a huge one. Clearly not -- you know, we to go to Trump rallies and the folks there are clearly behind him as they were before, but those poll numbers are pretty low.
BORGER: Right, and he's still popular with Republicans I would -- I would have to say. But, look, during the campaign, we heard a lot and they say, you know, you shouldn't take him literally, just take him seriously. When you're president of the United States, you need to be taken literally. Your words matter not only to people who look to you in a time of crisis but also to foreign leaders abroad.
And we saw last week that the courts took him literally when the courts quoted, for example, his interview with you about the travel ban and Muslims, and the FBI director took him literally when he said that there was absolutely no evidence of what Donald Trump tweeted about Barack Obama. And so, I think the public is going to have to start taking him literally because they need accountability.
[20:20:05] COOPER: You know, David, at a certain point, I mean, during the campaign, President Trump in a speech said, I will never lie to you, to the American people. You know, lying implies intent. Was he lying about this or did he actually believe President Obama wiretapped him? It's -- you can't get into his head, but at a certain point when it's been proven time and time again that what he said is false, at a certain point, whether it was a lie or whether it was just a mistake, and whether he believed it then, he certainly shouldn't believe it now, and he should either president evidence that he has or apologize or at least say, you know what, I was wrong.
GERGEN: Well, there are a couple possibilities. One is I'm told there are times when things come out that nobody else believed but he actually believes is true. And you can't shake him off it for whatever reason.
COOPER: Right, after a while --
GERGEN: I agree.
COOPER: -- when you have the leverage of your government say, you know what, there's no proof of this --
GERGEN: I agree. There have been hints from the White House and from the chair, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, that there would be something more coming about surveillance, other kinds of surveillance by the end of the week or sometime next week. So, on that issue, we have to give a little more time.
But I think clearly, it was a falsehood to say he was, quote, "wiretapped." He was not wiretapped.
To the larger point, though, think about this. The classic study of presidential powers following Richard Neustadt, no longer with us. But Neustadt argued that presidential power is the power to persuade. And he said it depended on how much respect people had for your words and for you personally as president.
And even though he's holding with his base basically, I think his power to persuade has been badly eroded over the last 50 days. And I think it's becoming much more difficult to govern than it was.
LIZZA: You know, I think actually and I'm a big fan of Neustadt, and the theory, but I think the country has changed to the point where the president doesn't have a lot of people he can persuade anymore, right? I think President Obama faced this when sometimes he would go out and champion a piece of legislation and it would actually have the opposite effect because it would rally partisans on the other side. Because we're so polarized, you've got your base but you really don't have that many people in the center or the other side of the aisle that you can actually persuade.
LIZZA: And Trump very much operates in that world.
GERGEN: I agree.
LIZZA: He's got 80 percent to 90 percent among Republicans, and that seems that's the only thing that matters to him in this White House. That does not excuse him lying, not correcting the record for a second, but it does change the way we think about --
GERGEN: But if he were more open, if he reached out more, he would be more able to persuade.
PSAKI: And this is much --
LIZZA: Maybe. You know, I remember when Obama was going to gave speech on immigration in Las Vegas, and all the congressional leaders, the Democrats called him up and said, "Please, Mr. President, don't give the speech because it will drive away Republicans from the deal we want to cut." So, that's the sort of paradox of presidential persuasion.
PSAKI: This is a much larger issue I think than pulling people in for a bill.
LIZZA: Yes, absolutely.
PSAKI: No question there's impact on the health care bill and his efforts, but they have not faced a crisis yet. There hasn't been a national security crisis. There hasn't even been a domestic crisis. That's the time you're the president for all people and you should always be.
But, you know, you look at President Bush during 9/11, you look at President Obama during the Newtown time, people are looking for somebody to calm them, to soothe them, to deliver that speech from the Oval Office. I don't think he's positioned to do that right now and that's problematic for the country.
MILLER: I think when that moment comes that the president will be ready. Look, I realize that the president's --
PSAKI: The country won't be ready to receive it.
MILLER: I think they will. I think -- I realize the president's communications style might ruffle the sensibilities of some of those in the quiet car on the Acela train, but the rest of the country --
MILLER: And I think that -- that being said, this administration knows what absolute success on the messaging front looks like, when you go back to the speech to the joint session of Congress last month, that was fantastic. Even the most partisan Democrats there were forced to stand and clap, and they know these policies are going to be successful if the administration can stick with them and drive them.
I think the Neil Gorsuch pick I think is fantastic. I think something that was on obviously this network quite a bit today, and I think if you look ahead to Thursday. So, if they're sticking with the policies --
COOPER: I would piggyback off what you said, Steven, to that speech and both houses of Congress it wasn't necessarily the policies, sorry, Jason, his tone was something that appealed to a lot of people across the whole political -- I mean, you have Van Jones saying he became the president tonight. I think Van took a lot of heat for that. You know, they kind of stepped on it a day later and it didn't last long.
But I think he has the capability of bringing people together. I mean, that's one of his --
LORD: Just today when he did speak out on this, it was to save me from all of you and bring --
COOPER: Was that what it was?
LORD: Listen, I think to be serious here, I notice Democrats on the Hill are saying they want to get Paul Manafort up there, they want to go through this whole list of people. I had a column in "American Spectator" that said, Republicans should respond and ask for President Obama to come testify, ask for members of the Obama White House staff, every other --
PSAKI: Come on.
LORD: -- staff member who had access to classified information because that is a serious question that the Congressman Gowdy touched on.
FALLON: The president's strength to date has been his impregnable base of support which despite the controversies in the last few weeks has kept him at least at 40 percent approval. Now, though, the Pew poll showed him at 37 percent, his lowest mark so far. And I think you have three ingredients that are creating a situation where you might actually see the bottom fall out.
You have the FBI director confirming the investigation which is going to create a permanent storm cloud, prop up an enduring story line of the president being under federal investigation. Even if there's no underlying collusion found, take it from me, it takes a toll over the course of many months.
Secondly, he's out there campaigning for a bill that completely drives a wedge with his core supporters in terms of what the bill would do. Thirdly, if he fails to succeed in convincing House Republicans to go away, it cuts away his calling card, his ability to negotiate the art of the deal. If he's proven weak on that, that's another thing that --
COOPER: The thing that you say about the cumulative tool, because -- I mean, there are some Democrats who are concerned that a lot of Democrats are kind of putting all their eggs into this basket of collusion and if it turns out there's nothing there, there --
LORD: That's right.
COOPER: -- how -- what's the blowback on Democrats? You say there may be blowback on Democrats but it still stains the president?
FALLON: The outcome of what James Comey did yesterday is going to be to key year to date a cloud for many months and we don't have a time line for how this quickly resolve.
BORGER: And here's a thing, there are Trump voters who didn't vote for him enthusiastically, but they voted for him because they didn't like Hillary Clinton and they didn't trust Hillary Clinton. This cloud raises the same kinds of questions about Donald Trump as does his temperament, and it could potentially drive away those Trump voters.
COOPER: David, and then we got to --
GERGEN: Yes, I think one other thing, to go to this in terms of this persuasion, he's now starting to talk so much about the politics of the bill and what's going to happen if you don't do it and he's not selling the bill. In order to make sale, you've got to take this issue as Obama learned, you've got to convince the country, at least for a while, that something like this is going to work.
COOPER: All right. Just ahead, first, Ivanka Trump getting a new office in the White House, in the West Wing, along with a security clearance. The questions that's raising, plus more on her expanding role in the Trump administration.
[20:31:23] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight another break with tradition at the White House. President Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka has known as one of her father's unofficial key advisers. Now the White House confirms that she's getting an office in the west wing, a move that appears to signal her role the White House is growing.
You might remember that in November 16th, following news reports that his transition team was looking into security clearances for his adult children, then candidate Trump tweeted, "I am not trying to get top level security clearance for my children. This was a typically false news story." Well that was November. (Inaudible) has the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BENNETT, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Even though she won't have a formal title in the White House, Ivanka Trump will have something far more powerful, top security clearance. It's a controversial move considering the oldest Trump daughter has no government, national security, or foreign policy experience.
DONALD TRUMP (R), U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.
BENNETT: But for those who know her and her father, it's not a surprise. The 35-year-old is a key cog in the White House inner circle. And she's been at his side in Washington since he assumed the presidency. Conducting roundtable discussions on women's issues with heads of state like Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER: Welcome. I'm honored to be here. I'm really looking forward to hearing from each of you who serve as tremendous role models for me and so many other business leaders across both of our countries.
BENNETT: And German Chancellor Angela Merkel just this past Friday where Ivanka was present for another meeting this time on workforce issues.
D. TRUMP: I want to thank everybody in the room. I want to thank my daughter Ivanka who is with us today.
BENNETT: Popping up regularly at Trump appearances.
D. TRUMP: Ivanka is here right now. Hi Ivanka! And it really is very, very special.
BENNETT: Even getting a presidential shoutout at a February press conference.
D. TRUMP: Helping her and working her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person and a fabulous, fabulous woman. And they're not doing this for money, they're not doing this for pay, they're doing this because they feel it, both of them.
BENNETT: And like so much of the Trump presidency, the arrangement is unprecedented, raising questions about conflicts of interest and the nature of her role itself.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WH ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: It is a very important that Ivanka Trump observe all of the ethics rules that everyone else does in the White House because she is an employee, she is subject to those rules just like everybody else, regardless of whether she's getting paid or not. That is irrelevant. And she has to follow the ethics rules. And I hope she does so.
BENNETT: Ivanka had yet to speak about her evolving role or what it could entail. Opting instead to showcase day-to-day activities either working with her kids or at the White House via social media. And this father/daughter colleague family member relationship is unprecedented. And Ivanka's exact position continues to drive speculation and more questions than answers. Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back with Ryan Lizza, David Gergen, and Gloria Borger.
You know, one forgets how I guess the word is unique a situation this is. I mean, if Hillary Clinton was the president and Chelsea Clinton was attending meetings without a portfolio and getting a security clearance to the White House, would that have been considered normal?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON & NIXON: No.
BORGER: But this isn't, you know, this isn't either. It's normal in terms of Donald Trump's world because he's always had Ivanka Trump by his side in business and she's a business partner as are his children, his adult children.
[20:35:01] And what's strange to me about this, though, is that she doesn't have a title. And everybody who knows the turf in the White House, you need a title. She doesn't have one because she can be everywhere. And if I were in the White House and you were talking about this during the break, that would make me pretty nervous just from --
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: -- you don't need a title when you're the president's daughter.
BORGER: Well, that's it. But that's what makes me nervous.
COOPER: I'm just trying to imagine. If I was the working for a company and my boss' kids were there --
COOPER: -- and they could walk into the office anytime and say whatever they wanted to boss, and then I just think it would be such a weird dynamic. (CROSSTALK)
LIZZA: There was a parallel with the Clinton Foundation when Chelsea Clinton took a senior role in the Clinton Foundation and it did caused some inter-palace (ph) intrigue. This is very unusual. We haven't experienced in American politics a family taking over the White House.
COOPER: Right, I mean this happens in other countries where, you know, you go to the presidential palace and you get into the inner sanctum and it's like the president and their cousin sitting around watching a soccer game, but kind of strange to have it happen here.
GERGEN: We've had presidential daughters who have been famous, not very often. Theodore Roosevelt had Alice, it was boisterous and, you know, wore a huge hats, Teddy told the press famously said, listen, I can either be president or I can manage Alice but I can't do both.
And when Franklin Roosevelt was there, because Eleanor was gone a lot, his daughter Anna was around a lot. We haven't seen -- this is more like how a private company is running.
COOPER: I mean she's sitting next to Angela Merkel --
GERGEN: Yeah, exactly. And I think I would give her a pass, generally speaking, I'm not giving press -- whatever helps him be a better president I think we ought to be for but I do question the national security clearance that's --
BORGER: Totally. Well, her husband has national security clearance and -- so she now has national security clearance without any delineated responsibilities aside from her interest in working women. But, so she can be in on meetings but others people in the White House can not be in on and she's pretty to conversations with her father that others cannot -- if I were working in the White House I'd be very wary of this and Ivanka's power.
COOPER: But what if -- you know, I talked to number of former chief of staffs, all say to have these advisers without a real portfolio who are just kind of able to go into meetings and then leave and get into the president's ear and all competing in different ways, then why is it the security clearance that for you raises red flag?
GERGEN: Here is a security clearance does comes with the capacity to read any cable that comes in. If we have -- does another 13 days -- you should be at the table. I just think that there are -- we have to have more respect for what the security clearances represent and that access to the nation's highest secrets. And I think she's fine there to be as a general counselor and all the rest of it, but I don't know why she would be at the table with the head of Joint Chief of Staffs to determine what U.S. --
BORGER: And what about the ethics issues which we haven't even --
COOPER: Right. BORGER: -- touched here, which is about how divorced is she from her business --
BORGER: -- and if she's got that kind of security clearance.
LIZZA: No, because Jared has already agreed to the full ethics regimen --
LIZZA: -- and because obviously they're married, all her financial interests should through Jared already --
COOPER: The paperwork hasn't been filed on Jared Kushner. So we --
LIZZA: -- should go through the office of government ethics like any other staffer. I think the other thing -- this is what you were hinting at with the former chief of staffs usually argue for a strong chief of staff and not a super top heavy White House. This White House is the most top heavy White House probably since like Ford. You got about seven advisers at the same level as the chief of staff.
COOPER: Just ahead, Sen. John McCain voicing his concerns about former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. He's not alone. I'll also talk to Congressman Jim Himes about the new allegations Manafort is facing over his ties to former pro-Russian president of Ukraine.
[20:42:58] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. There are growing questions about former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort's ties to Ukraine's former pro-Russian president. Here's what Sen. John McCain said just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have serious questions about some of the people around the presidential campaign. There were people with close ties to the Russians and including an individual who was paid large sums of money by Yanukovych, who was the Russian stooge as the president of Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talking about Paul Manafort?
MCCAIN: Talking about Mr. Manafort, his relations, I'm talking about how in the Republican platform the provision of providing lethal weapons to Ukraine somehow disappeared. I think it requires further investigation, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, the FBI has investigated Manafort over his consulting work in Ukraine and any possible links to Russia. His name came up more than ones at yesterday's House Intelligence Hearing. Here is a Democratic Congressman Jim Hunt as asked the FBI Dir. Comey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONECTICUT: Director Comey, did Paul Manafort ever register as a foreign agent under FARA?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: That's not something I can comment on.
HIMES: Whether he registered or not is not something that you can't comment on?
HIMES: OK. Paul Manafort was however Donald Trump's campaign manager in July of 2016, correct?
COMEY: This times, I really I don't want to get into answering questions about any individual U.S. person. It's obvious from the public record, but I don't want to start down the road of answering questions about somebody.
HIMES: OK. Well, I think the facts would show that he never did register. But as the ranking member pointed out, perhaps should come as no surprise that the Republican platform which was drafted at the Republican convention in July of 2016 underwent a pretty significant change with respect to the American response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and their aggression in that country. It appears from our stand point that we had perhaps somebody who should have registered under FARA pulling strings there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:45:10] COOPER: Well, now a Ukrainian lawmaker has released a document he says proves Manafort tried to hide payments he received from the ousted Ukrainian president through an offshore shell company. To be clear, CNN has not -- has been unable, I should point out, to verify the document's authenticity.
Mr. Manafort said through his spokesman that he didn't recognize the document and denied the signature was his. Congressman Himes joins us now.
You want Paul Manafort to come before the House Intelligence Committee. Why do you think that's so important?
HIMES: Well, Paul Manafort along with Roger Stone and a couple of others people like Michael Flynn and I could probably name two or three more, had the bizarre commonality of having been, you know, senior, not what Sean Spicer says, not, you know, in a very limited role but very senior campaign manager, campaign chairman with the Trump campaign and ties to Russia which first are usual in their intensity and their depth. And secondarily, here's the kicker, that have been dissembled about, you know, lied about in the case of Michael Flynn and any number of others.
So, that doesn't prove anything but at least suggests that we need to understand why they had those ties, why they felt the need to obfuscate about those ties and what it may mean in something that we're interested as members of Congress but certainly the FBI announced yesterday they're interested in which is what does this all mean in terms of connection between the Trump campaign and Russia.
COOPER: To get Manafort to come would it require a subpoena?
HIMES: Well, you know, that would obviously be up to Paul Manafort and his lawyers. You know, he will along with the few others to be at the top of list of the people that if we are to do a real investigation, we need to interview whether --
COOPER: So you before subpoena him if that's what it require.
HIMES: Look, it feels to me like there are four or five people here that we must speak to. Now, they may choose to not come voluntarily, in which case we would need issue a subpoena, we would need Republican majority's permission to do that. And they may, of course, at the end of day if they don't want to speak, they have the right not to. But that would be interesting in itself.
COOPER: Can you say to four or five you would like -- I mean, Manafort --
HIMES: Well, Manafort, Stone, Michael Flynn. We probably want to have a further conversation with Jeff Sessions. I don't happen to believe that Jeff Sessions he has the kind of deep and long-standing ties to Russia that the other people do, but, you know, yeah, we should be able to talk to them.
COOPER: Carter Page? Is he some of --
HIMES: Carter Page will be on that list, absolutely.
COOPER: The -- you know, you referenced this already. Were you surprised when you heard Sean Spicer at the podium at the White House say that Paul Manafort had a very limited role for a very limited amount of time?
HIMES: You know, I've run five campaigns. I don't know how you could convince anybody that your campaign chairman, that is somehow a limited role. You know, if you're talking about, you know, the little old lady who makes phone calls on your behalf, that's a limited role.
HIMES: Campaign chairman is not a limited role.
COOPER: Right. It can't be -- I think his chief strategist also was in his title if my memory serves me correct. HIMES: Yeah.
REGAN: You got another hearing -- the former acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates is going to be testifying. Do you know what you're interested in talking to her about? Do you know what you're hoping to hear?
HIMES: Well, I think in as much as the hearing yesterday was a little bit of a blockbuster with FBI Dir. Comey saying that there is, in fact, an investigation including links --
COOPER: Did that surprise you that he went that far?
HIMES: It did surprise me that he went that far. I expected him to put the lie to the idea that Pres. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. I expected that. You know, if news reports are to be believed he wanted to do that. But, yes, the comprehensiveness of his disclosure with respect to what's in that investigation was a little bit of surprise to all of us I think.
COOPER: Do you also -- I mean do you have an idea of how many more hearings you will need, of how long -- obviously there's classified components -- just how long this may go on?
HIMES: Yeah, yeah, you know, and this is something that's going to be necessarily frustrating to the American people. I mean, let's face it, what happened yesterday and what will happen next week with Yates and Brennan and Clapper, that's really not essential to the investigation. What is essential to the investigation is the depositions that will occur if people like Manafort, if Stone, and others, of Flynn. That's behind closed door sadly, because at the end of the day the American people really going to need to understand what happens. That's where we're really going to learn what happened. A lot of what we're talking about is classified and just can't be discussed in open session.
COOPER: Also, I mean -- if at the end of all this, I mean, there isn't anything there. Nothing can be proven. There's been this cloud over the presidency. There's been this cloud over the White House. Are you concerned as a Democrat that this has blowback on the Democrats?
HIMES: Well, there's enough circumstantial evidence. We have a president who will attack everybody from Meryl Streep to cast of "Hamilton" to Mexico to Australia. He will attack everybody, but he in the face of --
COOPER: When you say it like that, it's surreal.
HIMES: Right. And no matter what Vladimir Putin does, he can violate the, you know, the INF nuclear treaty, he can do what he's always been doing with respect to, you know, harming his political opponents.
Donald Trump not only doesn't critical size Putin for doing that, he sort of holding him harmless. And so, that's interesting in of itself. Then you have all of these connections. [20:50:03] So, look, at the end of the day, this is just a bunch of people showing radically by (ph) judgment, having connections with the Russians that they're not willing to disclose, that they dissemble about, that they're not -- maybe that's all there is. And I'm not going to pre-judge where this investigation goes.
But if that happens at a minimum we say to ourselves, this was a sort of bizarre moment in history when the president of the United States for the first time in our history wouldn't stand up against a clearly antagonistic power, Vladimir Putin wishes us nothing but yell (ph) and yet Donald Trump is strangely silent about that.
If this turns up to be just a series of bad judgments, you know, that's what it will be. But, you know, they've given us plenty of circumstantial evidence to at least ask the questions.
COOPER: All right, congressman I appreciate your time.
HIMES: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
Coming up, more breaking news, how Al Qaeda may have factored into the new ban on some electronics on some flights. We'll be right back.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. New rules for what you'll be allowed to carry on some flights new rules and we are quoting to an official partly inspired by intelligence about Al Qaeda. America and British authority say a ban on electronics are bigger than any smartphone on some international flights is obviously to keep passengers safe.
Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh spoke with a member of Congress who has been briefed on the issue of the decision to implement the ban on certain flights was based on new intelligence and the re-evaluation of existing intelligence. When asked (ph) why now without giving details because much of the information is classified, Rene was told the Intelligence Community believed the threat to be persistent and emerging in their words that they had to act. More now from Rene Marsh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:55:04] RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: In an unprecedented move. The Department of Homeland Security is demanding international flights from 10 overseas airports in eight mostly Muslim countries ban almost all electronics larger than a cell phone from the cabin of the plane.
The UK following the United States' lead will now ban large electronics in the cabin of certain flights too indicating there is intelligence that's creating concern.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's clear with these new restrictions the United States is essentially saying that they do not have full confidence in these airports in these various countries to stop bombs getting on planes.
MARSH: Tonight sources tell CNN the electronic ban was not prompted by a specific plot, but in part by new intelligence. A U.S. official tells CNN all Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen was perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in the batteries of electronic devices. The information was obtained over recent weeks and months.
The Department of Homeland Security said the intelligence, "Indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items." DHS pointed to the February 2016 mid-air bombing of the Somali passenger plane as proof of terrorist group's continued efforts to target commercial aviation. Sources say a sophisticated laptop bomb blew a hole in that aircraft. But U.S. Intelligence has known for years terror groups have been working to perfect and conceal explosives to smuggle on board, so why such a drastic ban now?
CRUICKSHANK: One scenario is that the new administration in the United States has re-evaluated the entire threat stream to passenger aircraft taking to account all of the intelligence that has come in over the last several years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: Well, Anderson the ban is indefinite and it is unclear at this point when it would end. If airlines refuse to comply, they would lose travel certification to fly to the United States, Anderson.
COOPER: Rene Marsh. Rene, thanks very much. Much more ahead in the next hour of 360 including Pres. Trump's all out efforts to close the deal on the Obamacare replacement bill. He's doing major on twisting (ph) ahead of Thursday's vote. The question is, is he locking the votes they're going to need? Details ahead.