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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.S. Officials: Info Suggests Trump Associates May Have Coordinated with Russians; Another Wiretap Dance?; Interview with Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight with a CNN exclusive. CNN has learned new details of the FBI investigation more about the investigation in the links between Trump campaign and Russian government.
CNN's Pamela Brown and Evan Perez joining us now. They broke the story, along with our justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Pam, first, what are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign U.S. officials told us. FBI Director James Comey made his bombshell announcement, as you'll recall, Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
So, the FBI is now reviewing this information which includes human intelligence, travel, business, and phone records, as well as accounts of in-person meetings, according to officials we've spoken with, and the information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials we've spoken with cautioned that this information was not conclusive and that this investigation is ongoing.
The FBI would not comment nor would the White House though. Trump officials have denied there is any evidence of collusion, Anderson.
COOPER: So, I mean, Evan, this gives more insight into what Director Comey knew when he spoke on Monday.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Anderson. If you recall, in addition to Comey saying that the investigation includes looking at connections of Trump associates, he also explained what it means that the investigation is actually being done. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you need some action or some information beside just attending a meeting, having been paid to attend a conference that a picture was taken or that you travel to a country before you're open to investigation for counterintelligence by the FBI?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The standard is, I think there's a couple of different at play. A credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: One law enforcement official that said the information in hand suggests, quote, "People connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who we spoke to said it's premature to draw that inference from the information they've gathered so far, since at this point, it's largely circumstantial. The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion actually took place. But the information suggesting collusion is now a large part of the focus of the investigation, according to the officials we've talked to.
COOPER: And, Pamela, what sort of coordination is under investigation?
BROWN: So, we're told, mostly, the FBI is focused on the stolen and published e-mails by WikiLeaks including the DNC and Clinton's campaigns' John Podesta.
Now, U.S. officials said the information being investigated was not drawn from the leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by that former British intelligence official, compiled for Trump's political opponents, though the dossier also suggested coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives, Anderson.
COOPER: So, Evan, do we know who is being investigated?
PEREZ: Well, the sources we talked to would not say who was connected, who these people who are connected to Trump that are being investigated here. But we know that the FBI was already investigating four former Trump campaign associates -- Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page -- for contacts with Russians known to U.S. intelligence.
Now, all four of those people have denied improper contacts.
Anderson, one of the interesting things is that we have some obstacles now in the way of the FBI investigation. The FBI is facing the fact that, you know, trying to find this conclusive evidence, they're facing the fact that communication between Trump's associates and these Russians has ceased in recent months, given all the public focus on the Russia ties and the Trump campaign. And then some of these Russian officials have also changed their methods of communications, making monitoring that much more difficult, according to officials that we talked to. COOPER: All right. Evan, Pam, thanks very much.
I want to bring in our panel. Political analyst Maggie Haberman and Carl Bernstein. She's a "New York Times" White House correspondent. He's a legendary Watergate journalist and author. Also, CNN counterterrorism Phil Mudd, formerly a senior official at the FBI and CIA. And CNN political director David Chalian.
So, Maggie, I mean, you just heard that reporting. It would certainly seem to underscore why the FBI is investigating coordination between the Trump campaign and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it continues to suggest -- I think two things are happening. I think that that information suggests that there is a basis for what the FBI is doing, why they are trying to get to what was at the heart of these contacts. We still don't know what they were.
It also, the second piece of it, is that as you have sort of a chess game going on where you have Nunes from the House committee, the Republican chairman tell reporters today that actually there is some intelligence that suggests that Trump campaign aides may have been intercepted in ways that Trump had suggested, that this was ordered by President Obama, which he had contended.
[20:05:02] We now get more information about the Russia aspect of it. I think the Russia question remains unsolved. It is still not clear I think what exactly we're looking at, the scope of this. We know the figures who were involved and they were looking at communications and travel it sounds like in meetings which we basically knew.
But this is becoming a low-grade fever that shows no sign of breaking for this administration. And that's very challenging as you go on. Either in a campaign or an administration, when you're trying to do something legislative and you have this going on. This White House has a habit of creating all kinds of self-inflicted wounds without this. This is deeply troubling for them.
COOPER: Yes, David, whether it's a low grade fever as Maggie describes or the kind of drip, drip, drip of information coming out, how significant is this information we're learning tonight? Again, there's been plenty of smoke before and still no fire.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. We all know as the FBI director said on Monday, this investigation is about looking into possible coordination. That's the ball game here at the end of the day. Whether or not there's "there there", Anderson, means whether or not there's provable coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian associates to help him win and defeat Hillary Clinton.
So, this reporting is a step in that direction. So, it's certainly not good for the Trump administration. But, you know, both President Trump -- and Sean Spicer as recently as Monday had been asked this question directly about whether or not they were aware, if President Trump is aware of any of his associates during the campaign talking to Russian officials, he's on record saying no, not at all, on record saying Paul Manafort denied it and he just went on to say, the president did say, Russia is a ruse. So --
COOPER: You know what? Actually, David, let me just -- let me play that Sean Spicer saying that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Now that we know there is an ongoing investigation by the FBI, does the president stand by his comments he's not aware of any contact that his campaign associates had with Russia during the election?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes.
REPORTER: The second one is has anyone from the White House --
SPICER: Can I just amend it, though?
REPORTER: Obviously, just to be clear, I know that -- I'm trying to think through this for a second because obviously General Flynn, but again --
SPICER: Right, and I'm not aware of any at this time, but even General Flynn was a volunteer of the campaign and that, obviously, there's been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.
But beyond -- hey, Jonathan, can you stop interrupting other people's questions? Hey, Jonathan, somebody is asking a question. It's not your press briefing. Julie is a asking a question. Please calm down.
REPORTER: Are you saying the president is aware of contacts that Manafort --
SPICER: No, nothing that has been previously discussed. I just don't want it to look like we're not aware of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, David, you know, it is telling they are distancing themselves from the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort saying he had a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. I mean, he was everywhere.
CHALIAN: There's no doubt about that. They're trying to erase a five-month period of the campaign where he was actually -- for a big chunk of that time running the show, Anderson.
But what you heard there from Sean said, nothing that hasn't already been discussed. Well, here we are, new reporting tonight, hasn't been discussed before, and it's about alleging potential coordination here. And so, this is going to continue to ask the question as Maggie was saying in terms of the low grade fever, if you're going to continue to have the question asked of the White House, so what exactly did the president know, when did he know it, or his closest aides?
COOPER: Phil, if you -- I mean, you worked in the FBI and CIA. If you were part of the FBI investigation and this was the information you were seeing, what would your next move be?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: First of all, we've got to slow down here. The FBI director has announced the investigation. I would be telling the counterintelligence guys, take your time. When this one goes public, regardless of whether the FBI decides to bring charges or not, this is going to be picked over even more than the Clinton e-mail investigation.
So, if you're in a leadership position, the first thing you've got to do is cross every T. This is not about whether we have suspicions of contacts. This is about whether you can prove that in a court of law.
The second thing we haven't talked about, Anderson, and let me be clear on this -- this is not simply about whether there was contact or collusion between Trump officials and the Russians. If you're inside the bureau, this is about whether someone lied to a federal law officer during the investigation. That is there were contacts whether they are illegal or not, and they told the federal investigator something else. Inside the bureau, that will tick people off, and furthermore that is a federal violation.
COOPER: Right, you can't lie to the FBI. It's a crime.
MUDD: You can't do it. So, it's -- you would be looking both at the facts of the case, and they're still murky, and what people have said along the way and whether their stories are changing.
COOPER: Carl, I mean, for you -- what new questions does tonight's reporting raise and certainly nothing I guess that will be answered in an open hearing?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I've been saying for a while that there's a cover-up going on here.
[20:10:03] And the cover up is among those who worked in the Trump campaign and associates of Trump, and it's now becoming much more clear what it is that they have been concealing, which are these contacts, and which revolve around leaked e-mails from Podesta's account.
So, the questions that I would want to know is actually of the White House: why cannot the president of the United States and Sean Spicer and others instead of pushing back against these investigations say we want to get to the bottom of this, we want to open up everything? I, the president of the United States, want to call these people in and ask them what happened, what is this all about.
What we're seeing is pushback, smokescreens, and attempt to keep away from what really happened here by the president of the United States, by Sean Spicer, and that raises a whole set of additional questions.
COOPER: Maggie, I mean, it's not just -- I mean, the smokescreens. There's also diversions, shiny objects, allegations against other people, allegations against the Clinton campaign, having contacts with Russia. I mean, it's going to be interesting to see how President Trump or Sean Spicer respond to the latest reporting if, in fact, they do.
I mean, they pointed out before that former DNI Clapper said he didn't see anything conclusive intelligence that there was coordination. Clapper himself has since clarified he was referring to before January 20th and obviously, the investigation is still ongoing.
HABERMAN: I think it was about a week and a half ago that Sean Spicer said, you know, we'll have nothing further to say on this topic. He wasn't talking about Russia but he was talking about the president's allegation of surveillance against him, either of the candidate or during the transition.
These two things have been tethered together and Spicer has continued to comment on it in basically every briefing. Including today where he read a litany of allegations and related facts about the Clintons. The election is over. So at a certain point I think it will be really hard for the White House to keep trying to pivot to either, you know, a vanquished candidate or the media is out to get us.
At a certain point, they are either going to have to say, to Carl's point, I think it's an important one, the president has not expressed much concern or worry that a foreign entity may have meddled -- did meddle, according to the intelligence community, in the election that he won. He sees it as delegitimizing and, therefore, he never addresses it that way, but there is a broader problem here and the White House has both been undisciplined about this and has had contradictory messages.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Maggie, because -- I mean, the president and Sean Spicer have talked about the importance of investigating leaks.
HABERMAN: That's right.
COOPER: So, if they -- I mean, they certainly have not shown the same enthusiasm for trying to get to the bottom -- I think Sean Spicer generally his comments have been along the lines of -- well, if they want to do that, go ahead.
HABERMAN: Right. The leaks are frustrating and consuming to the West Wing. They are personally grating and troubling to the president I've heard from several people, my colleague Glenn Thrush has heard the same thing. And they are finding a way to deal with it. Some is the newness of this president in a government that -- and a leaky bureaucracy that he cannot control. He's used to having full control as a businessman and as a candidate.
And some of this is just the information is not a great fact set for them and they have not figured out how to deal with it. COOPER: You're saying Nunes -- not a fan of Devin Nunes, I assume.
COOPER: Yes? Sorry, Carl.
BERNSTEIN: The heroes -- and I don't want to draw the Watergate analogy substantively here, but the heroes of Watergate were really Republicans. They were Republicans in the House and the Senate who wanted this investigated to the bottom, what did the president know and when did he know it? As was stated by the Republican Senator Howard Baker from Tennessee.
That's not what we're not seeing here. We're not seeing it from the Republicans on the Hill either who are consumed by supposedly looking for leaks. Many of the same Republicans decrying the leaks are those who have leaked classified information themselves on numerous occasions which I'm sure Maggie, others on our panel tonight can attest to. I certainly can. Look at the Benghazi inquiry of --
BERNSTEIN: -- and what was leaked there.
So, the smokescreens instead of us hearing that we want to get to the bottom of this from Republicans, not just the White House, is becoming very conspicuous.
COOPER: Yes. We're going to have more with the panel.
Coming up, though, the breaking news on what -- to Carl's point, the lead Republican on the House Intelligence Committee did today that's raising a lot of eyebrows. What the chairman did that left some jaws on the floor, not just eyebrows raised. And why the ranking Democrat on that same committee said the chairman took, quote, "a wrecking ball" to the idea that the committee can impartially do its job.
Later, the vote scheduled for tomorrow but is the House Republican legislation for a repeal of Obamacare already dead on arrival? Or is it going to pass? Details ahead.
[20:18:29] COOPER: Well, this morning, House Intelligence Committee chairman, a Republican, who is supposed to be a leading bipartisan independent investigation of Russian hacking, connections between Russia and the Trump campaign and leaks, Chairman Devin Nunes, didn't hold his normal joint press conference alongside the ranking Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff. Instead, he faced cameras alone and made what sure sounded like a startling revelation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: On numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What's more, he said, some of those names were unmasked and suggested it was done improperly.
Now, later, it turns out he made that announcement without telling Congressman Schiff anything about it nor had he shown anyone on the committee the evidence he says he saw.
Then, at the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about what Chairman Nunes said and essentially said, well, it's all news to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's a lot of questions that I think his statement raises and I hope that we can continue to get to the bottom of. But, right now, we just don't -- we're not there yet. I think that there are a series of questions that need to get answered as to what happened, why it happened, and hopefully, we will be able to share more with you going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then, a short time later, Chairman Nunes appeared at the White House and briefed the president and then made sure to step in front of the cameras on his way out suggesting something was very, very wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: This was information brought to me that I thought the president needed to know about incidental collection where the president himself and others in the Trump transition team were clearly put into intelligence reports that ended up that this White House and across a whole bunch of other agencies.
[20:20:07] And I thought it was important for the president to know this, that's why I briefed the speaker this morning, and I came down here as soon as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then, just minutes later, this from the president when asked if he felt vindicated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I somewhat do. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found. But I somewhat do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, to Democrats, the timing of all this seemed questionable, to say the least. And it also threw new light on something Sean Spicer said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Can we expect the president to this week present evidence he was wiretapped by Barack Obama or will he speak about it? Because he didn't mention it last night in his rally.
SPICER: Right. Well, let's see how the week goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: OK. So, there's that, the odd timing of it all and the fact that the chairman of what's supposed to be an independent committee investigating Russia and individuals in the Trump campaign possibly having connections that that chairman would have hustled over to the White House to talk to people who may be under investigation about what may be classified information.
But even beyond questions about appropriateness and timing, there's also the question, does this really partially vindicate the president for his tweets accusing President Obama of wiretapping him and being bad or sick? The president certainly seemed to want you to think it did vindicate him, at least partially.
But keeping them honest, if as Democrats suggest, Chairman Nunes was giving the president cover, it certainly wasn't on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The president said President Obama tapped his phones.
NUNES: No, no, no. That did not happen. I've said this for many, many weeks, including the day -- the day after, a couple days after in front of the press. That never happened.
I think the wiretapping, if you use it generally, like the president has said, you know, he clearly, you know, used it differently than what I think a lot of people took it which was, did Obama actually wiretap Trump Tower, which we know didn't happen. I think the president has been pretty clear on that.
REPORTER: But the physical act of wiretapping, do you see anything in the --
NUNES: No, no. That -- and I said that on day two.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump said that he felt somewhat vindicated by what you told him today. Just to be clear, there's still no evidence that President Trump himself was wiretapped.
NUNES: That's -- that is correct. That is correct.
COOPER: So, as you might imagine, there's more to the story, including reaction from Democrats and more details from the White House.
Our Jeff Zeleny joins us now with the latest on that.
So, I just said, Congressman Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, did not know about this information until it was released publicly. He's responded now several times today.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he has. And Congressman Schiff was very blunt about this. He said he was blind-sided. He found out about it only after the Republican chairman came here to the White House to talk about this. He says it compromises this entire investigation.
He was very fired up about it earlier this evening. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House because he cannot do both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, Anderson, as you were laying out earlier, the timing is definitely interesting to say the very least. The White House saw this as something of a lifeline this afternoon. However, if it sparked some type of independent investigation up on Capitol Hill, it might be a short lived lifeline.
COOPER: And the president saying he felt partially vindicated by the findings. Do we know what the administration's next steps are going to be?
ZELENY: He did say he said he felt somewhat vindicated. I was actually in the room there asking him that question. He said, "I was vindicated they found what they found." So, I asked him what they found and he didn't answer. We still don't know what they found here.
But an interesting exchange I had earlier with Sean Spicer in the White House to ask him why only the chairman has come here to the White House. The FBI director hasn't. The NSA director hasn't over these last three weeks or so, and this is what Sean Spicer said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Has the president asked the FBI director or the NSA or any other agencies involved to come here to the White House and brief him on this new information or is it just the intel chair? And if so, why not?
SPICER: Well, Jeff, it just happened. So, it's a silly question to ask me literally as I'm walking out here, and when the chairman was wrapping up an event saying that he is announcing that he's coming down here. It's not like we picked up the phone and called everyone else. The first step is to hear what he has to say and to find out who else he's briefed, where he's got the information from, and then we'll take the next steps going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, to answer the question about the next steps here, Anderson, it is an open situation here. It's a day by day changing narrative.
The president still says he stands behind and stands by the wiretapping allegation that has been debunked again today. So, who knows what tomorrow might bring on this, but it certainly is not over. New partisans fights on this, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Now, Democratic Committee member -- Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes.
[20:25:01] I spoke to him late today.
COOPER: Congressman Himes, first off, I just want to get your reaction to what Chairman Nunes announced today.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, my reaction was, what in world is happening right now? I mean, here's material that presumably would be relevant to the investigation that may be classified if it's -- if it's surveillance, and that the chairman would take it first to the media and second to the White House which, of course, is one of the parties being investigated here, without even sharing it with the ranking member or the other members of the committee, that is just I guess wildly irregular is an understatement. But it was really disconcerting, because it just -- it drives a stake right into the heart of the perception of impartiality that I hope our committee's investigation might have.
COOPER: I mean, can you honestly say now that this committee, the committee that you're on is impartial?
HIMES: Well, it's sort of hard to do that, isn't it? I mean, this isn't a one-off. You know, the chairman who I consider a friend, a couple weeks ago, you know, stands up for Michael Flynn and says that he's being brought down by swamp creatures and a day later, he's fired by the White House for lying to the VP, and then, of course, Chairman Nunes and Chairman Burr wrapped up in this of trying to knock down a "New York Times" story.
And today, we see this behavior. Look, I hope that the ranking member Schiff can reach an agreement with the chairman to proceed here. Or better yet, that the investigation be kicked out of this crazy political realm because this was a political move today, make to mistakes and into the hands of an outside bipartisan commission.
COOPER: When you say it was a political move, do you believe that Chairman Nunes is basically trying to give White House cover here or give the White House something to divert attention from the testimony earlier this week?
HIMES: All I can tell you is you just saw a wildly irregular action by the chairman of the committee charged with being objective and thorough in an investigation just fly down the street to the White House and, lo and behold, immediately thereafter, President Trump says that I've been partially vindicated. "Partially vindicated", odd sort of language in that outrageous tweet that Barack Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower.
And then you have Speaker Paul Ryan reiterating that, oh, look, there was something there. This is just the most pathetic fig leaf because it has absolutely nothing to do with President Obama potentially wiretapping Donald Trump in Trump Tower but it allows these guys I guess to tick a box and show America that maybe they were only partially liars rather than, you know, full bore, you know, completely crazy liars.
COOPER: And the chairman has not provided documentation of the intercepts to the intelligence committee and it's being reported that the chairman does not even have the documents. Should he have provided them to the committee before going to the White House? Should he have gone to the White House at all?
HIMES: Well, I don't think he shouldn't have gone to the White House at all. I mean, imagine that you're investigating somebody in a law enforcement context, you're investigating something or somebody, you turn up an interesting fact and you're going to run to the subject of the investigation to share that information. I mean, there's just no circumstances under which that is right.
I would add, too -- I understand and again, I have not been briefed, so I'm learning much of what I know about this from CNN and others, but I understand that he actually doesn't have them in his possession because he had to go to one of the elements of the intelligence community to review them.
Now, that would imply whatever it was he reviewed was classified. And then for the next step to be to talk about that classified information to the media raises some really tough questions for him.
COOPER: So, what is the next stem? What happens now?
HIMES: Well, I think that, you know, ranking member Schiff and Chairman Nunes need to sit down and figure out if there is any way forward for this investigation to go forward. Look, we as Democrats are not sticking around in the face of this behavior, or the face of other instructions. We are not going to lend some bipartisan sheen to what is starting to look more and more like an effort to back up Donald Trump, to obfuscate.
You know, we haven't talked about, Anderson, why would it happen today? Lo and behold, we are not talking about the story that Paul Manafort apparently went to work for one of Putin's chief oligarchs in order to advance the interests of Russia, his campaign manager. And we're not talking about that because we're talking about this.
So, I see here sort of a pretty artful deflection for some pretty big issues but sadly one that may damage our ability to do this investigation going forward.
COOPER: Do you trust the chairman?
HIMES: Well, I'll tell you what? I -- after today, I am very shaken. I've been telling the media now for a couple weeks that inside, outside statements notwithstanding about trying to knock down "New York Times" stories or whatever, inside, things have been constructive. And you saw that because we had a five-hour meeting, no holds barred, but again, I don't quite know how you recover from today's actions.
I don't know how you tell the American people that after looking at an information, sharing it with the president and running it to the White House, which is the subject of the investigation, no, don't worry, we can still do an impartial investigation. I don't know how you sell that.
COOPER: Congressman Himes, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
HIMES: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Let's bring back in the panel. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is also joining us.
Maggie, how extraordinary is it you have the House Intelligence Committee chairman, a political ally of the president, was on his transition team, whose committee is investigating the president's campaign, publicly announcing he's seen intelligence that could potentially give the president some level of -- some sort of political cover without informing the rest of his committee and then going over the White House?
HABERMAN: That was a long list you'd just been through. And they're all new to me. I've never seen any of that before. Look, there might be people who have covered the Hill longer than I have and more directly who have some recollection of something like this. But this is pretty astonishing to me when I found out about it. So they'll understand why he had to brief the president.
I haven't heard an explanation for that that makes a lot of sense. And it is the kind of thing that was going, you know, guaranteed to inflame Democrats. Nunes had been complaining about leaks just the other day as the big problem.
Today he seemed to think that they were the answer. And went out and presented this information. And again, we still don't know what this information is. I heard from a lot of Trump allies who said see, this confirms what we all thought. We believed this. It disproves it. But I don't know what we're talking about. Kindly, in the same way, as with the Russia stuff in investigation, I still don't have a great grasp on the granular of what we're talking about but there seems to be more thee that it is in public domain at this point. This is all very attenuated right now.
COOPER: And Jeffrey Toobin, I mean Chair. Nunes said he saw no evidence of any illegal surveillance. Ranking member Schiff said today that only one name was unmasked in intercepts and it was not connected to the Trump organization. So what's the legal substance here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Anderson, I'm having a little trouble following. Could you repeat all of today's developments very quickly?
COOPER: How much time have you got?
TOOBIN: What is going on? Let me just make two points. One, Devin Nunes is so far over his head, he has no idea what's going on here. I mean have you -- you watched his interviews today. Deer in the headlight. Every time different stories to different people. I mean, this guy has no idea what he's doing.
Second point, Donald Trump is on more tapes with international figures. Like what's that about? And who are they? I mean, it's just like the idea that this is somehow exculpatory for the White House, I mean, it's just the whole thing is so bizarre. And, you know, obviously completely unresolved.
COOPER: And David, I mean, you heard ranking member Schiff rip apart Devin Nunes' claims based on what the chairman told him because apparently the chairman says he can't show anyone the actual intelligence. Now Congressman Schiff is underscoring the need for an independent commission. Where does it go from here?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I find an independent commission hard to believe at this stage and that Republicans are going to get on board with that especially with this ongoing House Intel investigation and the investigation in the Senate. But I don't think that'll stop Democrats calling for it, Anderson, no doubt.
But remember Devin Nunes was at that hearing. You heard Jim Himes talking about it o you. At the end of the five-hour hearing with Jim Comey, he was the one, this ally of the Trump White House, who said you've put a great cloud over this White House. I think it was really clear that Devin Nunes' goal today was to run down to White House and try to move aside that cloud.
COOPER: Yeah, Carl Bernstein, I mean, can only imagine or guess what kind of pressure Nunes is under from the White House or fellow Republicans. What do you assess the credibility of him to be tonight?
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I don't have the slightest idea. I think he has a history that would make us doubt his credibility. And particularly, what he said during that the hearing the other day. But more importantly, I think incidentally that the press especially need to report as aggressively as we can what facts can be obtained about these allegations that Nunes is making and whether they are true or not.
But apart from that, we are seeing today and tonight why we need a special prosecutor. There is abundant evidence that there's something that has happened in terms of those in the campaign of Donald Trump and the Russian leaks of these e-mails that requires a kind of impartiality that only a special prosecutor under what we are seeing here on the air from these guys on this committee.
We need a special prosecutor, particularly given the bombshell story, not just the CNN story, but the AP story today about Manafort --
BERNSTEIN: -- literally proposing on paper that he can do things for Putin a few year back and that's what he wants to be paid tens of million of dollars for. This is an extraordinary story. It requires extraordinary investigating by an independent body by a special prosecutor and, --
BERNSTEIN: -- yes, we need a 9/11-type commission that can also look at what the Trump White House is claiming and see if there's anything there or put it to rest in a way that the American people can believe.
COOPER: Phil Mudd, I mean, just as a former CIA officer and FBI, I mean, the terms are being thrown around, you know, obviously Pres. Trump was talking about Pres. Obama wiretapping him in Trump tower, you know, used wiretapped in quotes twice, he did -- he talked about tapping not in quotes twice as well in two tweets, called him a bad and sick guy.
[20:35:5] There are various forms of surveillance, there's, you know, there's incidental surveillance. It doesn't stem from what Nunes is saying that this was targeting people in the Trump tower or targeting people in the Trump campaign or transition. It was basically incidental. They were picked up. How does that work? What is he talking about?
PHIL MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: Anderson, this is simpler than it sounds. This is a political job by the White House and Republicans on the committee, Congressman Nunes. This is not about intelligence. What the president-elect a few weeks ago was an illegal wiretap against Americans directed by the president, not against foreigners and not conducted or supervised by a court, all illegal. What we're seeing today is standard operating procedure for years. I saw this all the time. This is how it works.
A foreigner is intercepted. That interception is authorized by a U.S. court. When that intercepted communication comes in, sometimes that foreigner is talking to an American citizen. That's the incidental collection you hear referred to. To protect that citizen when you read that document if you're in a senior position it refers to that U.S citizen as, for example, American person number one. If you have a need to know in an investigation, as in this investigation, you go to the National Security Agency and say can you unmask that person, I have a need to know. Ain't that complicated. It happens all the time. It has nothing to do with what the president alleged two weeks ago, legal versus illegal.
COOPER: I want to thank everybody.
Up next, more breaking news, crunch time for the GOP health care bill. The House is set to vote tomorrow. Of this hour, Republican leaders are -- well, still on vote. A full-court press is under way to try to win over reluctant conservatives to try to get the votes they need. We'll try and take a look at what kind of progress if any they are making right now, and if this thing is actually going to pass tomorrow. We'll be right back.
[20:40:46] COOPER: Well, more breaking news on Capitol Hill tonight. Republicans are down to the wire in the race to nail down enough votes to pass the health care bill. The vote is scheduled for tomorrow. At this hour they seem to be coming up short. By CNN's count, 27 Republicans say they are voting no or leaning no. They can only afford 21 nos. President Trump has been into thinking about all week long, trying to close the deal with conservatives who opposed the bill.
Tweaks have been made already to bring doubters on board, changes that haven't yet -- haven't been scored yet by the congressional budget office. Sunlen Serfaty has the latest in these crucial hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the final stretch. And House Republicans and the White House are scrambling for winning votes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the House bill fails, will you keep trying?
DONALD TRUMP (R), U.S. PRESIDENT: We'll see what happens.
SERFATY: There are precious few hours left on the clock.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thursday is the big day.
SERFATY: Before the bill faces a vote in the House tomorrow.
TRUMP: It really is a crucial vote for Republican Party and for the people of our country.
SERFATY: House leaders manage to lock in at least one new vote today, Congressman Lou Barletta, who was leaning against the bill, now declaring he's now a yes vote.
RYAN: We're adding votes by the day, not losing votes. We're adding votes. And we feel like we're getting really, really close.
SERFATY: But the bill is still in serious jeopardy.
REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (R), TENNESSEE: We still haven't seen the movement we want.
SERFATY: According to CNN's latest vote count, at least 23 House Republicans have said they'll vote against the bill. Four more have indicated they'll likely oppose it. Speaker Ryan can't lose more than 21 votes or the bill fails which means they have absolutely no margin for error.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no plan B. There's plan A and plan A. We're going to get this done.
SERFATY: This reality setting off an aggressive last-minute offensive to make deals and change minds before the vote. In public --
RYAN: This is called legislating. And so, there are people who want to get various provisions in the bill, but what's important for us is we have to broker compromises to make sure that we draft legislation that can actually pass.
SERFATY: And behind closed doors today. President Trump ramps up his personal pleas to some of the holdouts, so many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus to the White House today.
TRUMP: Big vote tomorrow.
SERFATY: Sources tell CNN the president told skeptical members "I'll have your back" if they sign on.
TRUMP: Obamacare is making their lives so much more difficult as we all know.
SERFATY: But that presidential arm twisting for some isn't enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the votes are there today.
SERFATY: After the White House meeting today, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus is still a no.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: We believe that the best approach is to actually start over and do something that actually lowers premiums. We need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on in the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Sunlen joins us now from Capitol Hill. There are some new information, understand that Paul Ryan is open to making more changes to parts of the bill to be voted on tomorrow.
SERFATY: That's right, Anderson. Changes are being discussed at this moment up here on Capitol Hill. And for the moment, much of the discussion seems to be revolving around Obamacare's essential health benefits. Now potentially eliminating that, making changes to that could potentially win over House Freedom Caucus members who just a few hours ago were very, very against this bill. There has been a minor shift in tone, though, coming from many members of the House Freedom Caucus.
Tonight Mark Meadows saying that he is working with the White House, that they're going to work through the night on changes to potentially come up with something, but again, the situation is very fluid, a lot of fast moving parts but certainly a definite shift in tone coming from many up here on Capitol Hill.
COOPER: All right, Sunlen thanks very much.
Lots to discus. joining me is CNN Political Commentator and former New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn and CNN Senior Economics Analyst Stephen Moore, who served as Senior Economic Adviser for the Trump campaign.
Stephen, you have this late word about possible more deal making. How confident are you it's going to go up tomorrow, it's going to get passed, or --
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, the reason there's a bit of a revolt on the right on this bill is a lot of the conservatives saying why don't we just repeal the whole Obamacare bill?
COOPER: But they said they voted for that years ago --
MOORE: And so, that's the position of some of the, you know, my conservative friends in the House including Congressman Meadows where you just heard from.
There is arm twisting going on right now, there is late deal making. It's going on as we speak.
[20:44:59] I'm pretty confident that this going to either pass tomorrow or that may need an extra day, and may carry over to Friday. But this will pass and the reason it will pass, Anderson, is there's no room for failure. The Republicans have to get this done. You heard Donald Trump say that this was one of the central promises that he made to voters.
So I think there's a pretty high likelihood by Friday this will have passed the House but there's going to be some furious deal making going on in the next 48 hours.
COOPER: You know, Christine, you know, I think last week there were questions of how committed the president was going to be to this. He is all in on this.
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yup. COOPER: I mean he's been on Capitol Hill, he's, you know, even today talking to Freedom Caucus members. He's -- I mean, he wants to make this happen --
QUINN: I mean, the president seems certainly now to be all in. But you have to ask yourself might they be in a better position if he had gotten more active and all in earlier but you can't question his resolve at this moment in time. You know, --
COOPER: He has a lot riding on it, though.
QUINN: -- has everything riding on it.
COOPER: -- not just political capital but also his whole persona as a deal maker --
QUINN: Oh, yeah.
COOPER: -- a deal finisher. This is the first real test of that.
QUINN: Without a doubt. And I think we're seeing how Donald Trump doesn't understand that deal making in legislation with actual people's lives up in the balance is very different than, you know, cutting a deal around a building or an acquisition of a piece of property. It's very different.
And I think what you're seeing now is that last-minute fury, right, that happens in lots of different big pieces of legislation, but when you're not over where you can be in votes lost, and I say this as someone who's not (inaudible) kind of deals but done, sitting legislation when you're over where you can be and you start making changes and you're rushed, you inadvertently give person x something that screws up the only thing that made person y be your vote.
COOPER: But that's what's so complex about this kind of legislations.
COOPER: Is that you do have to -- there are so many moving parts to it. you have to make sure that pulling one lever doesn't affect --
MOORE: Of course. It's a complicated system. We're talking about 1/7 of our economy here which is our health care system so. It is enormously complicated. And frankly, I don't think Republicans are going to be able to fix all the myriad problems.
Look, our health insurance system in America today under Obamacare, it was happening before Obamacare, is truly imploding. We have to change it. I mean, people are going to start seeing massive additional increases in their health premiums if we don't do something to fix this.
But I would disagree with you on one thing. I think Trump has actually been someone masterful this week. He's gone over to the House, spoke to the Freedom Caucus, the people on the right. When I talked to some of the members they said, look, we were very reassured by Donald Trump. So I think he's pretty good at this. He's a newcomer, but I think he's --
MOORE: -- pretty good at the political game.
COOPER: There's no doubt. Even if you don't like his policies, he can be an incredibly charming guy.
MOORE: He knows the art of the deal.
QUINN: I genetically -- I can't say that, but, you know, I think the issue of whether it gets through the House is almost not the big question.
MOORE: That's true.
QUINN: Because the Senate --
MOORE: That's exactly right.
QUINN: -- is where the process it has to go through is reconciliation, a budgetary process. And even Speaker Ryan in early March, I mean it was (inaudible) on the Tucker Carlson Show, laid out all of the reasons the changes that are wanted, many of the changes we are hearing could be last-minute ones and ones that are now in the bill won't get through Senate reconciliation.
MOORE: The big issue of contention right now, your reporter had spot on this, what's called this -- essential benefit program --
MOORE: -- which basically requires people to buy, you know, all sorts of, you know, coverage for all sorts of policies. The conservatives can be live with that. I think that has to come out --
QUINN: But it will make it through reconciliation --
MOORE: We'll see. We'll see.
COOPER: A lot to look for tomorrow. Stephen Moore, thank you. Christine Quinn as well.
Up next, terror in London, at least four people are dead, 40 others hurt when a terrorist used a car and knife a deadly weapons, all in the shadow of the Big Ben in Parliament. Just getting some surveillance video showing the attack as it folded. We'll have all the details for you in a moment.
[20:52:49] COOPER: Our breaking news from London, a major terror investigation is under way tonight after an attacker driving a car plowed into people on Westminster Bridge and crashed into the gates of Parliament and continued his rampage on foot until he was shot dead by police.
Take a look. This is surveillance video of the bridge. The car in question speeding over the bridge and hitting anyone or anything in its path. In that spot we've highlighted. You see one of the victims jumping into the River Thames. We're told she was hospitalized. One of the dozens hurt and at least four others are dead. More now from CNN's Clarissa Ward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About 2:40 p.m. London time, a car driving over Westminster Bridge plowing to horrified pedestrians.
Witnesses described the carnage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people on the ground the whole length of the bridge. I saw people flying in the air.
WARD: Authorities estimate at least 40 people are hurt, including three police officers some with, "catastrophic injuries".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How bad the injuries --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, the one I saw the person wasn't moving at all.
WARD: One woman ends up in the River Thames. She's later rescued with serious injuries.
The attacker speeds over the bridge heading towards Parliament. Passes Big Ben and then crashes into a railing around the Parliament complex. But the attack is not over. He exits the car and runs through an open gate, heading towards Parliament, armed with a knife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and started plunging it into the policeman. I just, never seen anything like that. Just can't believe it.
WARD: The attacker is able to stab an unarmed policeman before he is shot by responding officers. One photo from the scene is of a man on a gurney being treated for injuries. Multiple knives strewn about the ground below him. It's unclear at this point who he is.
A medical helicopter lands amid the chaos in new palace yard. Authorities so haven't confirmed to CNN who was airlifted out. But we do know tragically, the policeman died from his wounds. His name was Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran. Three others also died in the attack.
[20:55:17] The assailant also dies from gunshot wounds. Authorities almost immediately called the attack an act of terror.
MARK ROWLEY, ACTING DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Terrorists have a clear aim. That is to create dislodge (ph), distrust into great fear. The police stand with all communities in the UK and will take action against anybody who seeks to undermine society, especially where their crimes are motivated by hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Clarissa Ward joins us now. What is the latest on the investigation?
WARD: So, Anderson, we've heard recently from Scotland Yard. They are saying that they do believe they know the identity of the attacker, but at this stage they are not releasing it. The only thing they have said is that they do think this was related to Islamist terror. They also said that they believe the individual was inspired by international terrorism, potentially the word inspired could be quite telling, and they have hundreds of officers they said who are now combing through a fairly large, Anderson, they'll be combing through that area all through the night. They're looking for clues. They're looking for forensics. They're looking to try to determine if there was possibly anyone else involved in this attack.
The threat level has been at severe in the UK for quite some time, Anderson. They said that that will not change. The threat level for now will remain at severe, Anderson?
COOPER: It's just sickening. Clarissa Ward, thank you very much.
Much more ahead in the next hour, we'll have more from London. Also our breaking news on the FBI investigation into potential links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government. New reporting on this. Exclusive details coming up.