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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Schiff: Nunes Should Recuse Himself from Russia Investigation; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California; House Intel Chair Nunes Cancels Closed-Door Session. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 27, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight with breaking news. Tonight, the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is calling on Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia's meddling to the U.S. election and ties or alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
It's been a day of fast-moving developments. Earlier, Congressman Nunes confirmed he was on the White House grounds the day before he made that surprise announcement last week about evidence he says suggest that communications of then President-elect Trump and his advisers may have been swept up in surveillance of foreign nationals.
Chairman Nunes spoke to Wolf Blitzer less than two hours ago, defended his decision to go to President Trump directly with his so-called evidence. He is the only person in the Intelligence Committee who has seen it. He went on to tell Wolf basically there was nothing out of the ordinary about this whole incident, but again, his counterpart on the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, does not agree at all. He's calling on Nunes to step aside.
Our Phil Mattingly spoke to Congressman Schiff just before we went on air. He joins me now.
So, what did the ranking member Schiff tell you?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was kind of a jarring turn to an otherwise crazy day that has really riveted Washington, Anderson, and that was the top Democrat on the committee, a committee that we should be noted that traditionally works in a very bipartisan matter. They work very closely together, the chairman and the ranking member now says it's time for the chairman to step aside.
Take a listen to what he had to tell me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: It's no secret that he was on the transition team and up to this point, you've been okay with him leading this investigation. Was it just the visit to the White House that changed everything in your view?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Well, it's two things. First, it was the sort of dead of night meeting at the White House and then later returning to the White House with whatever information he got at the White House. But more than that, to the degree that what he is claiming now goes to whether there was incidental collection on members of the transition team, that's a different issue than we were looking at before. Particularly if he says this doesn't involve the Russian investigation. If we are going to look at whether proper minimization procedures were followed vis-a- vis the transition team, we can't have a member of that transition team I think doing the oversight. So, in those two areas, I think it makes sense for the chairman to recuse himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And, Anderson, you noticed, the relevant question here is it's no secret that Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was on the Trump transition team. And yet, this investigation has been proceeding over the last couple of weeks, with the chair and the ranking member, Adam Schiff, agreeing to continue to move forward to it.
The key according to ranking member Schiff is this idea of what the chairman has uncovered, what the chairman only knows himself actually ties him into this because of his role in the Trump transition operation. So, what Adam Schiff is requesting now, the congressman, the ranking Democrat on this committee, is not just that Congressman Nunes remove himself from the ongoing Russian investigation, but that he removes himself from everything he has raised concerns about, related to the unmasking of Trump officials based on surveillance.
And I think this is a big development going forward because he's essentially asking the chairman of the committee to take himself out not just of the primary investigation they're leading now, but on a number of different issues the chairman says he's interested in and very concerned about, Anderson.
COOPER: Are they still having the classified briefing from Comey and Rogers this week, which was announced last week?
MATTINGLY: As of now, no. And that is a big development as well. A source involved with the committee tells me the main concern actually came from FBI Director Comey, whose point essentially was, at least as it was explained to me, until you guys get everything together, we're not going to come up and testify.
And I think this is a really big issue here as this continues to move forward is, the intelligence community has kind of also riveted with what's happened with Chairman Nunes over the last couple of days and they want to make sure and know for a fact that as they go into these briefings, as they go into public or private testimony, that they understand the dynamics of everything that's going on right now. It's not just lawmakers that have somewhat been out the loop on all of this. It's some individuals in the law, enforcement intelligence community as well. And because of that, this hearing that was scheduled is no longer on the books, Anderson.
COOPER: And is there any idea of, I mean, what happens next, where this investigation goes? I mean, is the investigation still under way or has it ground to a halt? I mean, on the behind the scenes, are folks on the committee still investigating?
MATTINGLY: Technically, the investigation is ongoing. The staff is continuing to work on it. Chairman Nunes has said the investigation is ongoing.
I asked Adam Schiff, the ranking the member on the panel, if he thought the relationship at this point was irrevocably broken. He said, no, he didn't think it was. He thought he could continue to work with Chairman Nunes on other issues. But when it came to this issue specifically, it was time for him to step aside.
And it's not just Adam Schiff who has requested this. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, has also said the same. I should note the spokesman for Devin Nunes has declined to comment on what ranking member Schiff has requested and also very importantly, Speaker Paul Ryan has consistently said throughout the day through a spokesman he maintains full confidence in Devin Nunes' ability to chair this committee, ability to run this investigations going forward.
So, this is a very partisan split, with no kind of clear resolution anytime in the future, Anderson.
COOPER: Wow. Phil Mattingly, thanks. Amazing developments, again.
Again, Congressman Nunes is standing by his decision to go to President Trump with what he calls evidence that no one else on his committee has seen. He's refusing the say the evidence came from the White House. Now, in the middle of all this, Nunes today cancelled, as we just said, the closed door session his committee was scheduled to hold tomorrow. He's already postponed the committee second public hearing, which was supposed to be tomorrow, before he cancelled that in order to have a closed door one.
Jim Acosta and Evan Perez have been working their sources.
So, Jim, what's the latest in the White House on how Chairman Nunes went about doing this and the reaction it's gotten here in Washington?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, quote, "anything is possible, when asked whether it was a White House official who was that source for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes during that quiet visit that he made over to the White House last week, one day before he announced this information about the president's claim about being wiretapped. Spicer said he was not concerned that this visit constituted some sort of new leak from the administration. Of course, they've been talking about their concerns about leaks coming out of this administration.
But I asked Spicer whether there's a perception now that it was just strange for Chairman Nunes to be on the White House grounds one day before revealing information that was apparently helpful some feel to the president. Here's what he had to say to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Do you reject that there's any kind of perception problem whatsoever in having the chairman over here the day before he comes out publicly and says, by the way, there's this information that's helpful to the president?
SPICER: Well, I think the chairman has made very clear through his public comments what his goal was. And I think anyone who wants to -- you can't ask someone to do a review of the situation and then sort of create inferences because they're reviewing a situation that there's something, you know, that's not right about that. He is -- he is reviewing a situation. He did exactly what -- I think he's been fairly open with the press as far as what he was doing, who he spoke to, and why. And I think, you know, from our standpoint that's what we asked to do as a review.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, another part of this mystery, the White House and Nunes' staff are refusing to say just how the chairman got onto the grounds of the White House for this undisclosed meeting, Anderson.
Anderson, we should point to our viewers -- White House visitor logs are still not available to the public under President Trump. They were available during the Obama administration. It was an online database you and I could log into and look and see who was coming and going here at the White House, who cleared them in, who they were visiting. That information is simply not available to the public right now under this new president, Anderson.
COOPER: So, just a couple of things. Jim, just -- I mean, I know Democrats are saying, well, it's weird that Nunes would go to the White House grounds, not inside the White House, but another complex in order to have this briefing and then the next day go back to the White House to brief the president on something he learned at the White House. Nunes though is saying that he had this information for a while before that --
COOPER: I mean, Democrats are saying he's trying to give cover to the president. Why couldn't the president have learned this information directly from whomever Nunes learned about it from or got more information about it from in the other part of the White House?
ACOSTA: Right. Something does not add up here, Anderson. Obviously, when you have the chairman saying that previously he had this information and then apparently, one day before he revealed this information to -- remember, it was the press and the White House before the Democratic members of that committee that he had to get over here quickly and talk to somebody here on the grounds of the White House.
And just so people understand, when you talk about the grounds of the White House, we're not just talking about this building behind me. There's also the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where there are various offices in there. And it was in somewhere on the White House grounds that Chairman Nunes had this meeting with some sort of source and what they call the SCIF, which is a secure compartment area where somebody can receive classified or sensitive information. They have those facilities up on Capitol Hill, Anderson. So, it is still unclear why Chairman Nunes needed to make this visit here in order to receive that information that he thought was so critical.
COOPER: And just finally, Jim, the whole thing about the White House not letting people know who is visiting the White House, what's the rationale? I know Sean Spicer was asked about it today. He said -- I think he said something to the effect, well, we're reviewing that. It's still under review. But the whole idea is draining the swamp. You would think seeing who is coming and going from the White House would be one obvious way.
ACOSTA: That's right. At this point, all we're getting from this White House is that this is something they're looking to put together and make available to the public at some point.
I don't -- I think it's an untenable position, Anderson, to continue delay making this information available to the public. I mean, keep in mind during the Obama administration, we were able to search those records and find out -- you know, it was after the fact of course that Hillary Clinton, for example, was over here at the White House meeting with President Obama.
[20:10:02] Remember when they had those lunches? And we won't find out about them until a later date. But at the very least, that visit was in the visitor logs. And so, you would see that somebody who came to the White House would be checked in.
So, for Chairman Nunes' sake, it would show who checked him into the White House, something they're not revealing at this point, and who he was seeing on that particular date. It's very critical information they're keeping from the public, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta -- Jim, thanks.
Before we go to Evan Perez, I just want to play a little more of Phil Mattingly's interview with Representative Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: You're making the point this isn't just because of the Russian investigation. It's broader than that, your view.
SCHIFF: Well, I believe that, you know, much like the attorney general recused himself from overseeing the Russian investigation at this point, it would be wise for the chairman to do the same thing and not just the Russia investigation, but if he is making claims about minimization procedures and whether they were followed with respect to the transition team, the chairman was a member of that transition team. So, I don't think he can properly oversee that element as well. So, I would hope that he would recuse himself from those two facets of
our oversight work because I think it would enhance the public trust that we're doing our investigation credibly and in a nonpartisan way insulated from any interference from the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Evan Perez is getting new reporting about the details on the surveillance at the center of this deepening mystery. He joins me now with the latest.
So, since Chairman Nunes won't say exactly what surveillance reports he's talking about, what's the leading theory among law enforcement and intelligence officials?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the leading theory, Anderson, is what he's talking about is U.S. intelligence collected on foreign leaders, that is diplomats, people who are president and prime ministers overseas and their staff. And the U.S. -- we know U.S. intelligence agencies routinely monitor those people and any conversations they may have, including if they had interactions wit the Trump transition team.
We know, for instance, that during the transition, the president- elect's team had multiple calls with countries that we know the U.S. intelligence is listening to. That is Israel, Russia, China, Taiwan. These are countries that if you hear them discussing the president, the new incoming team, there might be something of intelligence value that the NSA analyst who is listening might decide is worth summarizing and then it is kicked up and briefed to the White House, including to the Obama White House.
COOPER: The incoming Trump administration, though, didn't use the State Department to coordinate its calls with foreign leaders, which is the normal protocol. Could that be part of the issue here?
PEREZ: You know, it could well be, simply because again, that's a protocol that's usually established. You have career people at the State Department that are trained to handle those calls. They produce briefing books for the incoming presidential team.
In this case, they decided, the Trump decided that they were going to handle these calls themselves. They coordinated themselves from Trump tower.
And so, what you have is the NSA picking up some of these conversations. Again, they could simply be discussing members of the Trump team, and that stuff would be in these intelligence reports. Again, if they had gone through the regular protocol, perhaps less of this would have been taken place.
COOPER: All right. Evan, thanks very much.
Just ahead, I'll talk to a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee about his reaction to this new twist and turns. Plus, as the mystery surrounding Congressman Devin Nunes meetings on White House grounds deepen, we'll try to walk you through the twist and the turns, a timeline, hour by hour, as it unfolded.
[20:16:46] COOPER: Well, the breaking news, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is calling for the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, to step down.
This as Nunes in an interview with Wolf Blitzer earlier defended his decision to go to President Trump directly with what he said is the evidence that he says suggests that communications of then-President- elect Trump and his advisers may have been swept up in surveillance of other foreign nationals. They were not the target, but they were swept up in it. According to Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He joins us now.
Do you believe that Chairman Nunes is working with the White House to obstruct this investigation?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: I do. We were working together. We were going down an investigative road together and we made progress. Last week, of course, we had our open hearing. FBI director confirmed a lot of our concerns. The chairman exited that road to work with the White House. So, I don't think he should be anywhere near this investigation, let alone leading it.
COOPER: After that hearing, there was supposed to be another hearing tomorrow, which was going to be an open public hearing with Clapper and others testifying. Chairman Nunes cancelled that hearing, said they were going to have a closed door hearing. Now, we're getting word that closed door hearing is cancelled also. Why?
SWALWELL: Three hearings this week cancelled. We're supposed to have just a regular order meeting tonight, cancelled. One on Thursday, cancelled. And we're supposed to have on tomorrow, an open hearing, and he said that we should have the closed meeting with Rogers and Comey instead, as if they're only two hours in the day. And all those are being cancelled.
So, we're kind of frozen right now, and the American people are losing out because they want this out in the open.
COOPER: I mean, is there -- I mean, there maybe very legitimate reasons to cancel this meeting. Is the -- is your belief that there's a legitimate reason or that he's trying to stop some sort of momentum?
SWALWELL: I don't think it's legitimate because the witnesses were already to go. They sent over their testimony. And, you know, the American people I think felt they were finally let in last week and they wanted to learn more about what Russia did and what U.S. persons they may have worked with.
COOPER: Chairman Nunes said on CNN today that it was normal to go to the executive branch, normal to go to the White House to get this information, and then also normal to go to the president directly with it before going -- and going public with it before talking to the ranking Democrat or anyone else on the committee? SWALWELL: Not normal. It would have been normal if had brought Adam
Schiff with him over other. But also remember, the White House now, the president's campaign, is under federal criminal and counterintelligence investigation. So, I think it's a conflict to even work with them, with anything that has to do with the Russia investigation.
COOPER: Does it make sense to you he would go to the White House grounds, again not the White House building, one night at night, meet somebody, look at some stuff that he, I guess, says could only be seen there, and then the next day have to go back to the White House to brief the president when that information is apparently readily available throughout the executive branch?
SWALWELL: Well, he hasn't shown us what he has. But what he's claiming he had we could view at the capitol.
COOPER: You could?
And he could view that with Mr. Schiff, and he chose not to do it, which again, the White House seems to want to work with him to obstruct our investigation. I think this is just another smoke bomb that they're rolling into this investigation to prevent us from making progress.
COOPER: So, can your committee continue this investigation or do you think this should go elsewhere?
SWALWELL: I think we have to continue to pursue all leads. However, I wrote legislation with Elijah Cummings to have an independent commission. I always thought that was the most comprehensive way to get to the bottom of what happened. Now, it's also an insurance policy against what I think is now a compromised House investigation.
[20:20:02] One Republican has signed on, Walter Jones. I hope others join him.
COOPER: It is amazing how partisan this is. I mean, even the public meeting you had, the public meeting you had, you know, all the questions Republicans were asking are all -- the vast majority were all about leak-related. All the questions Democrats were asking were about Russia or about manipulation of the election.
SWALWELL: And it started bipartisan. We pledged to follow the evidence wherever it may take us because I think it's in the president's interests and the country's interests if these are just mere coincidences and not a convergence, he should want all of us to know that. If they are a convergence of personal, political and financial ties with Russia's interference campaign, people should be held accountable.
COOPER: So, when the White House says, today, essentially, well, look, we had nothing to do with this, you've got to ask Chairman Nunes about what he was doing and who he's meeting with. I mean, everybody -- you can't wander into the Old Executive Office Building or to White House grounds. You're checked in. You're signed in by somebody. That is information the White House itself has.
SWALWELL: They're punting. The White House is not an internet cafe where you can walk in and receive classified information. They should have brought that to us.
COOPER: Congressman, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.
COOPER: Up next, we're going to -- we're going to get our take -- our panel's take on this. A lot to discuss. We'll be right back.
[20:25:11] COOPER: Welcome back.
Again, our breaking news. Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is calling for the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, a Republican, to step down now as they investigate Russia's impact on the election and possible ties between Moscow and Team Trump. This comes after Nunes cancelled tomorrow's closed door committee meeting and other new developments.
There's a lot to discuss. Joining me is CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", Ryan Lizza, "New York Times'" Matthew Rosenberg, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, our political commentator and former Reagan White House official, Jeffrey Lord, CNN political analyst and "USA Today" columnist, Kirsten Powers, and CNN political commentators Mary Katharine Ham and Brian Fallon, she's a senior writer at "The Federalist", he was Hillary Clinton's press secretary.
We got everybody? All right. Good.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: We do.
COOPER: So, I mean, Gloria, what Chairman Nunes just told CNN that he had this information for a long time, which then raises the question why did he need to go to the White House grounds the night before?
BORGER: To see more information of the same sort that he already had. I don't know the answer.
COOPER: Which other congressman, Congressman Swalwell, was saying he could have seen on Capitol Hill.
BORGER: Right. And there are people who say that because of the source of his information he could only see it on the White House grounds. I don't know who his source was, so I have no idea.
COOPER: But if it was -- I mean, I think Sean Spicer said this was widely available through the executive branch.
BORGER: Well, and this is the problem, and I was talking to a Republican source tonight who has been briefed on what Chairman Nunes has seen. And this source says to me, these conversations were primarily among diplomats. They were kind of gossiping about the incoming Trump administration, things like what he was doing, where he was having dinner. And then, he added, well, you know, it was pretty easy to identify who they were talking about, as in the president- elect.
COOPER: They could have watched the cable news for that, basically.
BORGER: Right. And it doesn't seem like it is stunning information. I mean, their complaint is they believe this was widely disseminated in the West Wing and that people could dine out on the gossip about Trump, which he pointed out to me is nothing salacious.
But then you have to ask, why is Devin Nunes rushing to the White House to say, oh, my god, the house is on fire if it is not that substantial or consequential? You have to ask the question about whether he's just trying to change the subject from the Russian investigation.
COOPER: Jeffrey Lord?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to say when you're dealing with intelligence matters like this, this complicates the job for Gloria and everyone else out there because you have no idea and they're generally not going to tell you. So, it would seem to me in the interest of PR for the committee that they get more of this information out, get back to their open hearings. I have suggested, as you know, that they not only get Roger Stone who wants to testify, Carter Page --
COOPER: That is the exact opposite of what Devin Nunes is doing. I mean, he cancelled the open hearing which was going to take place tomorrow.
COOPER: And there was supposed to be a closed door hearing. That's not happening.
LORD: You just -- you know, one hopes he's got a good reason for doing this and that the rest of us well then find out what that is. But when you are not forthcoming like this, it can lead to suspicion and problems, and I might add Congressman Schiff was a big backer of Hillary Clinton when that famous meeting with Loretta Lynch came with Bill Clinton on the tarmac, he said, well, you know, she'll do the right thing, et cetera.
COOPER: We should also point out, Chairman Nunes was on the Trump transition team. So, we're pointing out half --
LORD: Right, right. My point is this is Washington and there's politics afloat. (CROSSTALK)
BORGER: But also, we should point out, none of this has to do with Russia, first of all. What Nunes is talking about has nothing to do with the investigation that he's supposed to be doing on his committee.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But the problem is he should have really it seems like the more reasonable way to handle this would be to go back to the committee with information, discuss with other people, have other people look at it because when you have -- everybody interprets this information differently. So, we're going completely on his interpretation of what he saw. We don't know. Somebody may look at it and say this is not really that big of a deal.
COOPER: Brian, was his responsibility as chairman of the committee to the committee and to the public that that committee serves or is it to President Trump to brief him on?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Certainly to the committee if only to protect the appearance of independence of the investigation. And, Congressman Schiff is someone, Jeffrey, who has a pretty good reputation of both sides of the aisle, someone who's sober, serious, has a prosecutor's temperament.
By contrast, we have seen from Congressman Nunes over the last couple of weeks is a self-immolation, the likes of which is very rare in Washington, D.C.
LORD: Let me say when the shoe was on the other foot, his first gut instinct was to defend Loretta Lynch.
FALLON: Keep in mind the sequencing of this. All of this got started because we had a hearing last Monday that spiraled clearly out of the White House's expectations and probably Congressman Nunes to unearth that acknowledgment by Director Comey that there was an open criminal investigation into the Trump campaign.
COOPER: Mary Katharine, to those who say that essentially Nunes is trying to put the brakes on the kind of momentum that came out, or at least the kind of the drama that came out of last week's hearing, what do you say?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm going to deliver a shocker, in the sense that maybe it's time to stop looking to the House for answers on things, anything.
But, look, I think Nunes who has had a good reputation to pass as well. I'm willing to believe that he had to go to White House grounds --
HAM: -- to get this information, it's also part of his job to oversee the Intel community and where there is wrongdoing to look into that. But it is also his job to give us investigation and therefore if you have this revelation brought to you, you bring it forth to the community in the most pristine way possible so that you avoid exactly what's happening right now.
COOPER: Look, I mean, Matthew, and this is kind of overshadowed -- I mean this has been whatever else is happening, obviously, health care debate has gotten a lot of coverage, but this is kind of stepping on everything else.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean we're seeing a pattern here which I think you're referred to where -- you have this terrible hearing that goes completely off the rails on money, next we know that there's an issue over one name for minimize and (inaudible) -- this put us, a very extra illegal issue on a lot of ways in (inaudible) issue.
Then three or more bad news and stuff about Kushner having meetings with Russian bankers.
COOPER: Which the story you brought.
ROSENBERG: Yeah. I'll take some credit for that sure. And then, suddenly well now we're talking about this again and we got more little leaks and Nunes making vague statements that you can't really decipher, and that start to looked like a pattern, like every time we have bad news, let's shift the narrative at somewhere else, look away from here, before get this -- kind of total (inaudible), that's really what this is becoming.
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Yeah, I mean if you just look at the three actions Nunes took last week, they don't really give -- by the end of the week, a week later they don't a lot of confidence that this investigation is going to get to the bottom of what it's supposed to get to the bottom of.
In his opening statement last Monday and most of his questionings were not about the core issue of the Russian attack or election.
COOPER: It was very interesting when you had Comey making this bombshell of the statement, --
COOPER: -- and Nunes, the first question Nunes asked is completely ignoring to asked about the leaks which is something that's important but --
LIZZA: And it's something that's very important to the White House. So already, you're looking at the question. I think (inaudible).
The second thing he did, of course, was go to the White House and brief the president about this information that we still don't have a handle on.
And the third thing he did was he shut down the open hearing -- COOPER: Right.
LIZZA: -- that was scheduled for tomorrow. So, you know, you can't blame folks for thinking maybe this isn't the forum to get to the bottom of this.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. One more twist that to all this Pres. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigate Russia's meddling November's election.
We're going to get everyone's thought on that. We'll talk to Matthew who brought the story. We'll be right back.
[20:36:23] COOPER: Our breaking news from Capitol Hill, the ranking Democratic of the House Intelligence Committee is calling on the Republican Chairman Congressman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee is also looking to Russia's meddling the U.S. in any possible connections to Trump team.
President Trump's son-in-law and close advisor Jared Kushner has volunteered to talk to the Senate committee during the Trump transition. Kushner arranged meetings between top campaign advisors and the Russian ambassadors as well as others. And the White House insists those meetings were completely appropriate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jared did a job during the transition in the campaign where he was a con due it and to leaders and that's until we had State Department and functioning place for people to go.
Remember we had a delay in some of there things in that. That was hi role. And he wants to make sure that he's very clear about the role that he played and who he talked to and that's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And we're back with the panel, Matthew, you broke the story for "The New York Times." A, what does the Senate want to hear from Jared Kushner and is this testimony under oath? Is this just them talking to the chairman in a room? How does it -- you know.
ROSENBERG: So a little bit of questions, was -- it's not under oath. They just want to know about these meetings, and they're particularly interested with Russian bankers he held. It's the way we've understand this. And we were told this by the White House, he met with Ambassador Kislayak in late December and then the ambassador asked him to meet with the Russian banker.
The bank was called VEB. It's this big Russian bank. Very tighten to the state. Dmitry Medvedev the Prime Minister sits on (inaudible). And (inaudible) told us yesterday, but, you know, this is such a routine meeting with the courtesy nothing of consequence happened and it was just in his role as leading the transition kind of foreign affairs stuff.
Well, about an hour ago. We got a statement from that Russian bank, it says an in quite different. The Russian bank said they were doing a road show, meting of leading businesses in the U.S. and that with Kushner is kind of Kushner companies and his capacities that.
In the middle of December, now there was a lot of talk about Kushner needing money for one of the buildings that his family owned and we don't know what went on there. But it's a big different between the kind of courtesy call meeting and meeting with a Russian banker from this -- oh, the bank is also one the U.S. Sanction.
COOPER: Oh, there's that.
ROSENBERG: There's that too. I forgot that detail, under U.S. sanction and the guy he met with trains at the Russian academy that trains all of their intelligence officers. And meeting with that bank is headed Kushner companies --
COOPER: During the transition.
ROSENBERG: During the transition. And we don't really have answers to that now. And we're up here and sort to that. But this is, I think looking at some of the conflicts we're seeing here.
COOPER: Again, I mean, this -- again it goes to questions we've been asking and everybody's been asking about, you know, the role of a lot of these people on the transition team who had also business relationships and, --
COOPER: -- you know, I guess technically they weren't in the White House yet, so Jared Kushner -- I don't know what.
LIZZA: And an update to Matthew's story is maybe bigger news than the original story, because you now have a direct conflict between what the White House said about that meeting, and what the bank is saying at that meeting. The bank is saying this was a business meeting. The White House is saying this was an official governmental --
LIZZA: So we have a very clear mixing of Kushner's business role and his role as a Trump foreign policy advisor.
COOPER: If memory serves me correct. Didn't Jared Kushner also meet with a Chinese company during the transition that ended up making a huge deal with the Kushner companies which is now supposedly divorced himself from but we haven't actually see, he hasn't filed the paper work? ROSENBERG: Exactly. I mean -- are we going to be seeing members of Donald Trump's family using their positions to risk themselves thinking really -- and this is a sanction Russian bank. You're there talking business with a bank under U.S. sanctions, that's run by someone who train and (inaudible) most of their intelligence officers. There are real questions here. And again, we have very limited answers. We have -- another look at here. It's all fine. Don't worry about. We got underhand.
LIZZA: -- Kislayak the ambassador is organizing this meeting.
[20:40:16] LIZZA: -- in Washington is to do what, get rid of those sanctions, he now knows Jared Kushner, and he knows his business background, he knows his business interest. He's organizing a meeting with a bank under sanction. You have some mixing of business and a governmental roles here that's --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a question of access to power --
BORGER: -- in Washington and there clearly a sense that I'm getting from your reporting that this bank believed that they had access to power, potentially in exchange for favor. We don't know.
ROSENBERG: We don't know.
BORGER: We don't know, but that's the question, and if you're the bank and you get a meeting suddenly with the president's son-in-law pretty quickly, you know, at the recommendation of the ambassador who sets it up or what --
COOPER: Jeffrey, does that concern you all that a Russian bank under sanction gets a meeting with the --
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: -- I mean, first of all I know Jared Kushner a bit. I have complete confidence in his integrity. I mean I just -- I mean, the suspicion that he would be out there to enrich himself in some sort of --
COOPER: -- that's his job. I mean he has spent his life --
LORD: Are you sure? I mean, I don't know what her income was, but I think his income is --
LORD: Here's what bothers me about this, Anderson, as we have gone through this whole scenario, we have found one person after another on both sides of the political spectrum, involved with this, that or the other Russian connection. COOPER: I guess.
LORD: And so, what I'm saying is, this is part of the swamp, this is how the swamp operates.
COOPER: But it's like, all of us here, like I'm 00 you know, I'm under strict rules about who I can speak in front of.
COOPER: Who I would meet with.
COOPER: I would not. I don't believe, unless I was working on a story about some sleazy Russian bank or alleged sleazy Russian bank, I would not put myself in a situation where the Russian ambassador asked me to meet with some Russian bank under sanctions with a guy -- run by a guy who was trained in Russian Intelligence.
LORD: He understood. I mean we need to know --
COOPER: -- if guy is running --
COOPER: -- he supposedly the bring trust --
LORD: I understand --
COOPER: -- the president doesn't do a back ground check on who's walking in door of Trump tower? That's even scarier, isn't it?
LORD: Well, --
LIZZA: And this is what connects the first story tonight with the second story where the House Intelligence Committee that supposed to look into all these has completely broken down now. The committee supposed to get to the bottom of all this as, you know, --
COOPER: Because I actually think this is a pretty -- seems like a pretty big story here.
ROSENBERG: We got update that Kushner basically met with the Russian banker at the suggestion of the Russian ambassador. The banker runs a bank that is a U.S. sanctions list. That tied deeply to the Kremlin, a Russian power circles that -- that has bowed out oligarchs. That's kind of use for the -- the Russian pet (ph) projects. Pet projects to help fund especially Olympics, for instance.
And, you know, he didn't tell anyone about this. We found out about it because we asked. And when we asked the White House about it they said it was a courtesy meeting. There was no big deal. (Inaudible) counseling happened.
Then the bank emails us just a few hours ago and says, oh, no, no, no, actually it was part of Kushner as his role -- Kushner companies, we met with him for business reasons. We don't know what that means.
BORGER: So who was asking for the favors?
ROSENBERG: We have no idea.
BORGER: Which way did they go? Was the Kushner company looking for something from the bank or is the bank looking --
ROSENBERG: I mean that's what we need to know.
COOPER: All right, up next, the new reason the White House says Pres. Trump wasn't able to make a deal to repeal Obamacare. We'll get reaction from the Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Well, tonight the White House says a new reason why the GOP health care bill failed. You remember Pres. Trump and the Republican promised to reapl and replace Obamacare. Then this past Friday, the president did not pull it off. They pulled their bill just minutes before the vote. It was not just a legislative defeat for Pres. Trump, he wasn't able to do what he's always said he does best to make a deal. Here's how the White House is explain there failure this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: The president recognizes that when there's not a deal to be made, when to walk away. That's one of the traits. It's not just about making deals, it's knowing when to walk away from deals and knowing when there's a bad deal that's the only solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There's a change from previous comments for both Spicer and Pres. Trump himself announced the support of the bill that worked hard to get it passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), U.S. PRESIDENT: And we have a great deal. And I think we have a very good chance.
SPICER: The president has put a lot of time and effort into this. And I think he's made a strong case.
TRUMP: I think it's going to be something that's going to be a model to be looked upon.
SPICER: There's no question in my mind, at least, that the president and the team up here have left everything on the field. Has the team put everything out there? Have we left everything on the field? Absolutely.
TRUMP: We met with 12 pretty much "no's" in Congress, you saw that a little while ago, and they went from all "no's" to all "yeses."
SPICER: We've done everything. We've done every single thing that meeting, every call.
TRUMP: We're going to have great health care. It's going to be passed, I believe, I think substantially pretty quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, what really happened? Joining me now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Illinois congressman thanks for being with us.
I mean earlier today you had Sean Spicer calling this a bad deal that the president walked away from, last week saying that the president left everything on the field. Did you ever hear anyone in the White House or Pres. Trump himself say this was a bad deal?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Well, I didn't hear them say that, but I'll tell you where it was going. So, I have to actually agree with Sean Spicer, the president worked his tail off for this. I went to the Oval Office. He spent an hour with 10 of us just asking, you know, what are our concerns to those who had concerned? But ultimate, here's the problem in our Caucus, you 30 people, they're called the House Freedom Caucus that can never, ever, ever get to yes.
And so what they did is they went to president and said, hey, we want you to repeal -- essential health benefits. He said, well, OK, states can make them. We'll do that to get your votes. And then the House Freedom Caucus said, oh, wait, now we want you to rescind all of title one, which is kids on your parents plan until 26, in preexisting conditions, and the president said, look, I campaign that we're going to keep that, all Republicans did, there's no way I'm pulling that. So, yeah, that would be a bad deal. But even if he had given on that, which he wasn't about to, the House Freedom Caucus would have come up with something else. So --
KINZINGER: -- and they've done this for years. They've done it for years.
COOPER: So, what happens now? I mean, is this thing dead for this year? Is it something, obviously, tax reform or something and, you know, infrastructure something the president's talked a lot about? What about health care?
KINZINGER: You know, it's hard to tell. Obviously, I think we need to move on to infrastructure, to tax reform, is there an opportunity for health care? Maybe. It's going to be up to the House Freedom Caucus, if they ever want to come to yes.
I think when it comes to Obamacare we have to understand that in health care system people's lives are actually affected. And why I thought that this was a better option, if we can never get to yes on this, we're going to have to start looking to moderate Democrats to say what do we do to fix the system? I'd still love to get to repeal and replace but, look, we you have seven percent of the House Caucus, of the Freedom Caucus, everybody in the House saying we'll never, ever, ever get to yes, you either have to have Democrats, or you do nothing. That's just the math on it.
COOPER: So you would possibly be open to now with working Democratic but essentially keeping Obamacare, by just trying to fix -- just trying to improve things that don't work with it?
KINZINGER: Look, I would rather not. We made campaign promises. But if you can't get the numbers out of the Republicans, and this is on the house Freedom Caucus, are you ever willing to get to "yes"? Are you ever willing to get to "yes"?
If you can get to yes we can fix this, but if not we have to understand as Republican, and frankly, as Americans that people's lives are being affected. So what we have to do to make it better? Are we right there yet where we say fix Obamacare? No. I think if there's still an opportunity, let's do it. But if you're a House Freedom Caucus member you have to learn that government is far different than being in opposition. And they think they're in opposition still.
[20:50:23] COOPER: I mean, shouldn't Republicans though have had more of a plan in place? I mean, shouldn't all of these have been worked out? And as you said, everybody was running on this not just, you know, in one election but in multiple elections over the course of seven years.
KINZINGER: Yeah, look, that's been a criticism and, you know, people have been repeating that. The reality and maybe we didn't do a good enough job of showing it.
A lot of these ideas came from, frankly, what we've been talking about for a long time, whether it was in the better way agenda. And then we developed this through committee.
I was on the Energy and Commerce Committee where this was developed. People had an opportunity to amend that. We stayed up for 28 straight hours amending this, it was a pretty miserable night, and then the bill exists and there's a process to go through. You got members of the House Freedom Caucus that say we weren't at the table.
Well, there were two members of the House Freedom Caucus on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Caucus doesn't write bills it's written in the committee.
So, we went through the -- we could have done a better job of messaging I'm sure. But the reality is you get people that take false information, the House Freedom Caucus, and they say that they never consulted us or we can -- we -- this isn't a straight repeal to Obamacare right, and you convince people of completely untruths. COOPER: On another subject, I just want to ask about your colleague Congressman Nunes Chair of the House Intel Committee, obviously, I mean, he acknowledges he was on the White House grounds last Tuesday revealing classified intelligence from the source he won't name. The following day, he announces publicly that legal surveillance for the nationals might have also with captured communication from then President-elect Trump and his advisors, nothing to do with Russia. He says, the resident said he felt somewhat vindicated by the chairman's revelation.
Does it makes sense to you that the Chairman would have, you know, rushed over to White House grounds to get this information, and then the next day go back to the White House to brief the president? Because Sean Spicer today said this information was widely available within the executive branch.
KINZINGER: Yes, see, I'm not sure. So, now, they're going back and briefing the president depending on what that information was that would make sense especially if it's talking about unmasking or people that have been captured in, you know, surveillance or whatever, in terms of going to the executive mansion or to the White House grounds, you have to keep in mind, that's a whole branch of government, there's different agencies that are housed there.
And then -- I'm not on the Intel Committee but I've talked to members that say, look, we can't get all the information always in the Capitol Complex. Sometimes we have to go to other areas to get it. So I'll leave those answers to Chairman Nunes. What I will say as I known to be a very honorable man and I really think he wants to get to the bottom of everything that's going on.
COOPER: You don't think he's just trying to provide cover to the president because clearly that's what a lot of Democrats on the committee thing (ph).
KINZINGER: I don't think so, but I think. Look, I think obviously, he's going to -- he is out there he needs to explain a lot of this. And, frankly, we need a bipartisan answer. There's still investigation going on in the Senate as well to what happened in terms of all the Russia questions I still (ph) hope we get there.
COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thanks very much.
KINZINGER: Any time. Thanks for that.
COOPER: More on our breaking news. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigations into Russians meddling in the U.S. election, that's after Nunes reveals he had a secret meeting at White House grounds so we just talked about, more on that ahead.
[20:55:29] COOPER: A House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is joining Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, in calling on Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation to Russia meddling to U.S. election and allegations of Trump associate ties to Russia.
Earlier today, Chairman Devin Nunes confirmed that he was on the White House grounds last Tuesday the day before he announced that he had information suggesting the communications of then President-elect Trump and his advisors may have been swept up in the surveillance of their by foreign nationals.
Congressman Nunes who served on the Trump transition team is defending his decision to go direct to Pres. Trump with the information without first showing his own committee, this is the called evidence. He is still refusing to say if the White House is his source for the information. There's day of fast moving developments that spark new questions about the timing of all of these.
Randi Kaye today -- tonight walks us through the story hour-by-hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be submitting certain things and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week. But it's right now before the committee and I think I want to leave it there. I think you got to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
RAN DI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDET (voice-over): That was March 15th, 11 days after Pres. Trump claimed former Pres. Obama wiretapped him. Then, six days later, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer suggests the so-called evidence could come even sooner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we expect the president this week present evidence that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama or will he speak about it, because he didn't mention it last night in his rally.
SPICER: All right. Let's see how the week goes.
KAYE (voice-over): Just hours after that a mysterious turn of events start to unfold. By all accounts, they begin with the House Intelligence Chair, Devin Nunes.
(on camera): It was Tuesday night here in Washington, D.C. when Chairman Nunes was riding in a car with a staff member, that's when he got some type of message on his phone and abruptly got out of that car and into an Uber. He then seemingly disappeared into the night.
(voice-over): His staff was left in the dark. No one knew where he went. To them, he had simply vanished. Whatever Nunes learned on that phone call or wherever he was called to visit appears to have been enough to drop a bombshell. After the sun came up on Wednesday morning, Nunes reappeared arriving on Capitol Hill sharing this stunning news.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I recently confirmed on numerous occasions the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.
KAYE (voice-over): Nunes divulged this information to the media even before he briefed members of his own intelligence committee.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The Chairman in what appears to be a dead of night excursion obtains or reviews some documents that he has not shared with his own committee. And it's not just that he hasn't shared them with Democrats on the committee, he hasn't shared them with Republicans on the committee. All of us are essentially in the dark.
KAYE (on camera): The timing of his secret contact so soon after the White House promised to provide proof is raising eyebrows here on Capitol Hill some even suggesting Nunes is providing cover for the president for his claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was the president also part of that incidental collection, his communications?
NUNES: Yes, they were.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the president of the United States is personal communications were collected in incidental collections, not in specific targeted way?
NUNES: It's possible.
[21:00:00] KAYE (voice-over): Nunes share that the intercepts took place in November, December, and January, after the election, during the transition. Still despite his big announcement, Nunes himself seem unsure about all that he had been predict too.