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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: Russia Tried To Use Trump Advisers To Infiltrate Campaign; 4 Times In 4 Days: Russian Warplanes Probe Alaska Coast; Trump: "Big Announcement" On Tax Reform Wednesday; Progress In New Health Care Talks Though Path Forward Unclear; Debate Swirls As U.S. Seeks To Charge Assange; O'Reilly Out After Bombshell New York Times Report. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 21, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:02:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Topping this hour of "360," a story you'll only see right here. CNN has learned that investigators now believe Russia tried to use Trump advisors to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown broke the story. She joins us now with details. So, explain what you know, Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Anderson, we're learning from our sources, U.S. officials familiar with the investigation that the FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggested Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Now, Carter Page's critical speech of U.S. policy against Russia back in July of 2016 at a prominent Moscow University is one factor, is part of what raised concerns in the bureau that he may have been compromised by Russian intelligence. But this new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Not only through the e-mail hacks and propaganda referred to commonly as fake news, but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit.
Now, the intelligence led to a broader FBI investigation that we heard from FBI Director James Comey into the coordination of Trump's campaign associates and the Russians. But the officials we've been speaking with made it clear that they don't know whether Page and perhaps the other advisors they had been tracking were aware that the Russians may have been using them because of the way Russian spy services operate. Someone like Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents, Anderson.
COOPER: What's Carter Page saying about all of this?
BROWN: Well, he disputes this idea that he has ever collected intelligence for the Russians or that he was ever used by them saying that at times he actually helped U.S. intelligence. This is what he said today.
He said, "My assumption throughout the last 26 years I've been going there, as in Russia, has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past."
But, Anderson, U.S. officials say the intelligence has been gathered -- suggests that Russia tries to infiltrate and influence the Trump campaign by using back door channels to communicate with people in the Trump or the people like Carter Page.
It is important to note here that within the Trump campaign, Carter Page was viewed as someone who had little or no influence, but he is one of several Trump advisors whom U.S. and European intelligence detected in contact with Russian officials, Anderson.
COOPER: And where do things stand now with this investigation?
BROWN: So, it's an ongoing investigation. We don't know when it's expected to wrap up. These investigations can take a while, but we know FBI investigators have been analyzing, rather, various strands of intelligence from human sources to electronic and financial records and have found suggestions of possible collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.
[21:05:05] But at this point, at this stage in the investigation, there's not enough evidence to show that crimes were committed. The officials say in part of the problem for investigators we're told is that they sort of lost their ability to conduct this investigation in secret because of several leaks last year that revealed the FBI was looking at people close to the Trump campaign, people that the U.S. was monitoring, then changed their behavior so it's become more difficult for the FBI, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Pamela Brown, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
You just heard Carter Page's blanket reaction to suggestions he spy for Russia or did anything improper. We spoke in greater detail about the investigation recently, his role in the campaign and his time in Russia over the years. This was before this latest news from Pamela Brown. Here's more of that conversation with Carter Page.
COOPER: First, start about what you said to Judy Woodruff and then what you said last night on MSNBC. Last month, you said to Judy Woodruff, she asked you, "Did you have any meetings last year with Russian officials in Russia, outside Russia, anywhere?" You said, "No meetings." You repeated it three times. We just play that.
Then, all of a sudden, last night you said to Chris Hayes that you, quote, "Do not deny talking with Russia's U.S. ambassador over the summer at a conference at the Republican convention." That sounds like you were misleading to Judy Woodruff.
CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: You know, Anderson, a great analogy is we -- you and I were members of the same health club here in New York previously. And I remember walking by you even though we didn't know each other and I said, "Hi, Anderson," and you said "hello" and we, you know, a nice little exchange for half a second. Now, does that to you constitute a meeting?
COOPER: Well, we've -- I guess we've met, but it's not a meeting.
PAGE: Exactly. Thanks a lot. So, I mean that's -- I will not talk about anything that happened in off the record meetings. There's plenty of people in Washington I know --
COOPER: Right, but when Judy said, "Did you have any meetings last year with Russian officials in Russia, outside Russia," you could have just said, "Well, I, you know, I did attend a conference and was in a meeting with the Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention," because that sounds like more than just saying hello to him.
PAGE: It was literally -- you know, the amount of time you and I walked by each other and, you know, greeted each other, it's about --
COOPER: So you're saying --
PAGE: Again, I don't talk about off the record confidential information.
COOPER: Right, but --
PAGE: Everyone knew that attended that meeting --
COOPER: But if all you said was, "Hi, ambassador," that's not a confidential conversation.
PAGE: The fact that we were participant -- you know, I wouldn't even be talking about this if someone hadn't leaked it to "USA Today."
COOPER: Right, OK. But last night -- so, you did meet with -- you met the Russian ambassador at this conference in Cleveland.
PAGE: I don't feel comfortable --
COOPER: Last night, you said you do not deny it. So, you do not deny --
PAGE: I do not deny, I mean, these reports.
COOPER: Do you believe that Russia hacked into the DNC computers that it tried to influence the U.S. election?
PAGE: Again, I don't know anything about that so, you know.
COOPER: You know that the Clinton campaign tried to, what, subvert or influence the intelligence community, but you don't know, you can't say whether Russia tried to influence the U.S. election, even though the entire intelligence community says that happened.
PAGE: Well, it's interesting. You know, actually in my letter, you know, it's another political stunt in my view. If you read --
COOPER: Well, that's a political stunt.
COOPER: -- is going to say, look, you're a guy who has business dealings in Russia. You need to make -- I mean, that's how you make a living. And so it's understandable you wouldn't want to be publicly saying that Russia was hacking into the U.S. But can you really sit here and say you don't have any belief or you can't even imagine that Moscow might do that?
PAGE: I don't imagine that. You know, I don't think about those things, Anderson. All I know --
COOPER: Well, you're saying a lot -- you're telling me you spend a lot of time in Russia and you don't think about what Russian intelligence is capable of?
PAGE: What I think about --
COOPER: You don't -- you're telling me you don't carry a second phone when you go to Moscow because you know that they're going to hack into your phone? Everybody who goes to Moscow does that. Do you do that?
PAGE: You know, what --
COOPER: Do you do that?
PAGE: Yeah, I do have a second phone.
COOPER: OK. So you carry a second phone when you're in Moscow because you know Russian intelligence is likely to hack into your phone, but you can't imagine that Russian intelligence would hack into the DNC?
PAGE: I didn't say that.
COOPER: Do you believe that Russia meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries?
PAGE: I don't know anything about that. All I do know --
COOPER: You don't know anything about that?
PAGE: Listen, if I read that -- based on that Intel report, its all politics. And I -- if you --
COOPER: Wait a minute. I got to jump in here. I have -- only have an undergraduate degree, so I'm not as educated as you are, but I've studied Russian and the Soviet Union a fair amount.
PAGE: Yeah. COOPER: You honestly can say -- you have a PhD, right? You honestly can say you don't know anything about whether Russia meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries?
PAGE: I --you know, in the context of my life which, you know, all these defamation approach by the Clinton campaign to drag my name out --
[21:10:02] COOPER: Carter, you're not making sense. Yes or no. You can just tell me, "Yeah, I do not believe that Russia ever meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries, or yes, I do believe they do."
PAGE: Listen I mean, you know, they may -- I think all countries, you know, or certainly the U.S., if you look at what happened in Ukraine, right, on the --
COOPER: Yes, the U.S. meddles in internal -- of course, the CIA has done this for decade.
PAGE: So, yeah, I think that's a fair statement.
COOPER: That quote by the way is from Vladimir Putin who said that Russia does not meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. So the point why I was putting that to Carter Page was to see if he would disagree with Vladimir Putin, which he seem reluctant to do.
Perspective now from two experienced observers of campaign, Russia, and before that the Soviet Union, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty.
David, what do you make of this new reporting, particularly the idea that we keep coming back to Carter Page? I mean, do you buy that he could have been willingly or not some sort of linchpin or whatever may have happened with Russia?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's certainly possible, Anderson. And I don't think yet we've seen a smoking gun in all of these reports, but we sure as hell are seeing a lot more smoke. And the Carter Page story just simply adds to that, the sense of suspicion when you have so many different pieces of evidence that point basically in the same direction and that is that there was something fishy going on.
We don't know if it was collusion or not. But the Russians that were sure trying to turn some people in the Trump effort it appears and we will have to wait and see. But I think this steady drip, drip, drip of week after week of new evidence, new suspicions, new trails followed by the FBI and others, this is not going away easily. It's not going to go away quickly and it's very damaging for the Trump organization as he tries to pull this up together in this presidency.
COOPER: Jill, you actually attended the speech that Carter Page gave in Moscow last year, the one that drew the attention of the FBI. What sense did you have then of who he was, why people in Russia might have been interested in what he had to say?
JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Basically, he was there as -- I would call it an academic researcher, but everybody knew and he was mentioned as an adviser to President Trump. And the expectation in the hall -- there were a lot of students, these are graduate students, primarily in economics, and they were all very, very interested in hearing about the Trump campaign.
And then lo and behold, right at the beginning, Carter Page said, "I'm not going to talk about the campaign." There was a lot of sound of kind of disappointment and then he went on with this lecture about oil in energy in central Asia. And I have to be very honest, I was not impressed. I mean, it was very confusing kind of convoluted explanation. And what people really wanted to hear, again, was the election. There was nothing of that. So, what he was trying do there I'm not quite sure.
COOPER: You know, Jill, Carter Page has said he got permission from the campaign. He wouldn't say who in the campaign gave him permission to go to give that speech that you heard in Moscow. I read a press conference that he gave in Moscow. In part of the things he said there was that he has been in meetings with Donald Trump.
Now, later on when I talked to him, he said that he was using the Russian definition of the word meetings. And the meetings he was talking about were actually rallies that, you know, we all saw on the television that thousands of -- more than 10,000 people might be at any one time. So that was his definition of meetings. I'm not sure if that is the Russian definition of a meeting, but he certainly seemed to be playing up in the Russian media his importance to the campaign.
DOUGHERTY: Exactly. I mean, Anderson, when I heard that thing about meeting, there actually is a Russian word meeting and it does mean like demonstration, protest, big meeting. It does not mean sit down and have a meeting.
So when I heard that, number one, I was shocked that he even spoke Russian, because I never heard a word of Russian from him really and that he would be using that as an excuse. It's ludicrous.
I think what he was doing is he was exaggerating on both sides, his role in the campaign, at least that appears to me that he was a want to be. He wanted to be more impressive than he actually was.
GERGEN: I think there's another piece to this and that is, we're learning through these investigations just how -- there are so many shadowy figures who operate further between countries. You know, these are people who are Americans who are frankly selling access to high powered people in America who are selling influence in America and they're making, you know, trying to make lots of money on it. Paul Manafort, you know, he got paid $10 million we understand from various investigative reports for working with Ukrainian government. You know, this is a very dark world which going to needs to have more sunlight. People need to be registered much more rigorously, especially around campaigns. It's ridiculous to have somebody who can affect, you know, come this close to power and possibly have influence over the campaign who is obviously selling something to the Russians.
[21:15:10] DOUGHERTY: I will tell you, that speech in Moscow was really shocked me with the anti-American tone. I mean, he was very critical, really dismissive of American foreign policy. He called it essentially, you know, focus on this kind of fake democratization. It was very anti-Russian.
So, I can see why any type of spy, KGB, et cetera, would want to at least talk with this guy. He was obviously -- to a certain extent on their side. He was very, you know, not critical of Russia and very positively about Putin, so it makes sense.
Now, what they could actually get from him is another question and whether he actually gave them anything that was of any use. And in one of those documents, the FBI documents as I understand, he was described by the KGB agent who was trying to get him, to recruit him, as an idiot. So, did they get anything from him? I don't know. But, their job is to get information, even if it's from an idiot.
COOPER: Or to compromise somebody and then later on get information from them. Jill Dougherty, we'll continue this obviously. David Gergen, thanks.
Just ahead tonight, what are Russian warplanes, four in the last four days, in fact, doing near Alaska? What are the Pentagon and State Department doing about it? We'll find out ahead.
Also later, health care and tax legislation, what the president is doing to push it forward? And what he's also doing to make it sound like it's no big deal if it happens next week or not.
[21:20:11] COOPER: With all the talk about possible Russian attempts to infiltrate the Trump campaign, Moscow is also trying to do something much more concrete, more tangible and certainly more troubling if you remember the Cold War. For the fourth day in a row, Russian military aircraft have popped up off the coast of Alaska. CNN Barbara Starr is monitoring developments from the Pentagon tonight.
Barbara, four Russian military aircraft, four days, does the Pentagon know why this is happening now?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is one of the things they're trying to analyze, Anderson. Why are the Russians doing this? They haven't done it since2015. They are making a statement. They're making sure that they are out there being seen clearly sending that message. They know that U.S. aircraft can spot them and escort them back toward Russian airspace. They know that U.S. radar is up in this area of Alaska, can see them coming from a long distance away, very critical. They're not flying into U.S. airspace. They're staying in international airspace.
So, it's not a provocation, but the U.S. increasingly believes the Russians are sending a message at this time of tension in the region. They want to send a message they too are out there and operating. Anderson?
COOPER: And the U.S. obviously is intercepted them, but has not really responded publicly.
STARR: Yeah, that's right. They're watching it carefully. They are occasionally sending U.S. aircraft to escort them back out and they kind of encourage them to turn around and go back to Russia. But, I think the sense is that there's not a lot to say about it for one big reason.
The U.S. military does the same exact thing to the Russians in the Mediterranean, in the Baltic. You find U.S. aircraft flying. They stay in international airspace, but they know that Russians see them. And more often than not, the Russians send their planes out and try to encourage the U.S. to move away. Anderson?
COOPER: Barbara Starr. Barbara, thanks.
More now from CNN Military Analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Tony Blinken, former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser.
General Hertling, Russia flying planes close to Alaska four times in four days, obviously doesn't happen by accident. What's the message that they're trying to send? And is it an actual threat?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is extremely unusual, Anderson. I'm not sure it's a threat because they haven't come within the national space of the United States. They are staying in international airspace, but it certainly attempting to send a message.
What's been good, though, is military planes have intercepted each one. I think they're looking for us to do that, but the question is, what else is available for us to do to stop this kind of action, because these are the same kind of things they've been doing in Europe over the Baltics and over several European countries as well.
COOPER: Tony, why do you think it's happening now? I mean, Russia apparently hasn't conducted flights like this since 2015.
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Anderson, a couple of things. I think in 2015, they actually stood down in part because they were having safety problems with these aircrafts. And it may be that they're now standing this up again. They need to do some training, but I do agree they are sending a message. And I think the message is, one, we can project power around the world, and two, we're a pacific power and we're a north pacific power.
And as tensions are rising with North Korea, they want to send a message that they need to be factored in too, that they're part of this and that they have to be -- their interests have to be considered as we deal with the North Korean problem.
COOPER: And, General Hertling, I mean, you have two U.S. F-22s and Canadian flight jets were dispatched to intercept them. What happens in an intercept exactly?
HERTLING: It's all part of the North American Air Defense and it's not only the intercept of U.S. planes, like you said the Canadian one. They get off the wingtip. They try to be as professional as possible. They make sure they don't get in the way of those big "Bear" bombers, but they basically let them know that they are there.
Nothing happens except an escort. If it gets into U.S. airspace, then it becomes a little bit more sporty. They may signal them. They may paint them with their radar to let them know that they are on a missile lock. But it certainly can get a little bit dangerous at times if they do get closer to U.S. airspace.
COOPER: Are the pilots communicating with each other? Are the American and Canadian and the Russian pilots?
HERTLING: They sometimes do, but sometimes the opponent, the person in the other airplane just doesn't answer. They'll communicate not only -- attempt to communicate over a commonly used frequency for international air, but they'll also communicate with hand gestures and signals.
COOPER: So they can actually -- I mean, they're close enough to actually see each other?
HERTLING: Sure, absolutely.
COOPER: Tony, I mean, there hasn't been much of a response from the State Department or the White House. It's the kind of thing that a civilian you would think Donald Trump might have tweeted about but would certainly as president have not seen him tweet. Would you expect there will be more public reaction or is this the kind of thing that the U.S. normally wouldn't really comment on?
BLINKEN: No. I think they've handled it appropriately. I wouldn't play this up. You know, what they've done, for example, in the Baltics and Black Sea is far worse and far more dangerous. They buzzed our planes. They buzzed our ships. This they did professionally.
[21:25:03] They've done it the past, and it's true that four in four days is a lot. And as we were talking about earlier, it probably is to send some kind of message about their ability to project power and to be a pacific power, but they handled it appropriately. I wouldn't make too much of it at this point.
COOPER: Interesting. Tony Blinken, thanks, General Hertling, as well, thank you.
BLINKEN: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Still to come, President Trump has signed more than 70 executive actions since taking office. But, are they mostly photo ops? A reality check when we continue.
COOPER: Next week sure could be interesting in Washington. President Trump says he will make a big announcement on tax reform on Wednesday. The president is also saying there's progress on the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, though the path forward is very unclear.
Jason Carroll joins us now from the White House with more. Do we know what the big announcement so-called is going to be?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's supposed to be about tax reform, Anderson, but the -- just a few moments after the president came out and said that he was going to have this big announcement on Wednesday, the White House coming out after that and sort of walking that back just a bit and basically saying what the president was saying is that he will eventually have some sort of an announcement on tax reform.
[21:30:06] He will be doing that as quickly as possible, so perhaps that will be on Wednesday. Perhaps, Anderson, it will be shortly thereafter. But at the end of the day, what this administration really wants to do is get on the map with something in terms of tax reform since this administration has been unable to make headway when it comes things like health care, when it comes to immigration reform.
At the very least can get something out in terms of tax reform, it might go a long way to help satisfy some of those critics who say the president has not done enough in terms of meeting his-- those commitments that he talked about for the first 100 days in office.
COOPER: On health care, though, do we have any reason to believe that internal Republican divisions that caused the-- that it fail the first time around have anyway been mended?
CARROLL: Well, that's very much a question mark. And, again, you've got the president saying that, look, he wants to obviously pass something when it comes to health care. He's got to get pass the Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans.
He is saying though at this point it doesn't matter if that happens next week, if it happens the week after. They really want to get something done. They want to do it the right way. But what's clear is that this is something the president says when he needs more time, this time when they put something forth, they want to make sure they have enough votes with the Freedom Caucus, with moderate Republicans to make it stick this time.
COOPER: Yeah. Jason Carroll, at the White House. Jason, thanks very much. As Jason mentioned, other than the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the president had no legislative victories since he's been in office. What he has done is signed dozens of execution actions.
His pen has gotten a workout, and so the photographer is capturing many moments. But we want to take a closer look at what if anything all those executive actions that actually accomplished. Randi Kaye tonight has more.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should I sign it? So we're going to sign and this is a very important signing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, this is an executive order minimizing the economic burden of the patient protection in Affordable Care Act pending repeal.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On day one, President Donald Trump got down to business signing an executive order to ease the burden of Obamacare. Viewers got the message that Donald Trump was a man of action. But was it and the other executive actions just a photo op?
JOHN HUDAK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Donald Trump just assumed like as a business leader he would say do this and it gets done. But in government, a president doesn't have that power.
KAYE (voice-over): In fact, of the more than 70 executive actions President Trump has signed since taking office, January 20th, a CNN investigation shows only a handful of them really have any teeth.
Take the Affordable Care Act, the president's executive order back in January was aimed at the individual mandate which requires Americans to have insurance. But for this year, contracts were already signed with insurance companies. While it looks good on paper, the executive order had little impact on the law itself.
HUDAK: This was done sloppily and it was done as a result that was a-- an executive action that looked meaningful that connected well with President Trump's base, but ultimately fell slopped.
KAYE (voice-over): And what about the president's travel ban for which he issued two executive orders?
TRUMP: The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.
KAYE (voice-over): Both travel bans were blocked by federal judges. So in the end, neither executive order accomplished anything.
(on camera): Also tied up in court, the president's executive action stripping federal funding from sanctuary cities for refusing to turnover undocumented immigrants. Various cities have filed lawsuits. (voice-over): Another executive action that went nowhere? The presidential memorandum Trump signed to freeze the hiring of federal workers. Sure, that sounded good, but the action was nullified after being blamed for worsening backlogs at Veterans Hospitals and Social Security Offices. Still, optics matter.
HUDAK: The presidential show and tell in the Oval Office where he signs his name almost hyperbolically and then shows it off to the class. And that is Donald Trump the entertainer doing what is very important for a president to do and that's communicate and entertain.
KAYE (voice-over): Some of those executive actions that do have teeth, Trump's presidential memorandum to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12 nation trade pact. Also his executive order promoting energy independence, which curbs carbon dioxide emissions.
HUDAK: President Trump through that executive action is seriously challenging the Obama administration legacy on the environment.
TRUMP: With today's executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy.
KAYE (voice-over): Still, it's unlikely to restore the coal industry and more likely to be caught up in court for years. And remember this?
TRUMP: It's going to be a big beautiful wall.
KAYE (voice-over): Once in office, President Trump issued an executive order instructing his Department of Homeland Security to immediately begin construction of the wall along the southern border with Mexico.
[21:35:07] While preliminary planning has begun, there has been no wall construction of any kind.
(on camera): Nor has there been any change to regulations on "Wall Street." President Trump's executive order regarding that simply directs the treasury secretary to review existing regulations on the financial system and report back to the president in about four months.
(voice-over): Same goes for the order to shake up the executive branch. That, too, will undergo 180-day review. Then a plan will be proposed to eliminate redundant federal agencies.
HUDAK: What we've seen so far with many of his executive actions is not really shock and awe policy making, but slow bureaucratic policy making.
KAYE (voice-over): In a move to capitalize on his executive actions to continue building the Keystone in Dakota pipelines and another action to buy American, Trump recently announced this.
TRUMP: I have also directed that new pipelines must be constructed with American steel.
KAYE (voice-over): That may not be so easy. In fact, the Trump administration had already given Keystone XL a pass on buying American steel since the developer TransCanada has already bought much of its pipe from Canada.
HUDAK: If there is not enough steel being made into pipe, then contractors can ask for waivers to buy foreign steel. I think if the details of that get out, it could be something that is politically devastating to the president.
KAYE (voice-over): That could mean not a single U.S. pipeline ends up being built with U.S. Steel. The commerce department has been given six months to come up with, yes, another plan to put the buy American requirement into affect.
COOPER: And, Randi, how do -- the number of executive orders signed by the president, how is that compared to other administrations?
KAYE: We tallied up the numbers. Donald Trump has 71 executive actions, 25 of those are actually executive orders. How does that compare as you ask? President Lyndon Johnson had 26 executive orders in the first 100 days. So, that's one more than Donald Trump. That's the most of any president.
In fact, Harry Truman had 25, like Donald Trump, John F. Kennedy, 23, Eisenhower had 20, President Barrack Obama had 19 executive orders in the first 100 days. But it's really, Anderson, for the voters not so much about those numbers. It's about do they mean anything.
Even if you look at some of the smaller executive orders, Donald Trump has an executive order to reduce crime. But what it really does is setup a task force to look at strategies to reduce crime and then to report back. And then he has another one, to tackle drug addiction.
But, really, all that does is set up a commission headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to file a report to look at the problem. So, a lot of show, a lot of holding up those executive orders and big smiles as he signs, but the question is, are they really worth anything?
COOPER: Right. Randi Kaye. Randi, thanks very much.
Up next Julian Assange and the First Amendment would prosecuting the founder of WikiLeaks for sharing U.S. secrets, threaten freedom of the press for all journalists? Two different view points ahead. Glenn Greenwald joins us ahead.
[21:42:01] COOPER: Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wouldn't say whether the Justice Department's decision to prepare charges against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, could lead to prosecution of journalists. On Thursday, Sessions admitted arresting Assange was a priority. Assange has been hold off, as you probably know, in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for years now seeking to avoid an arrest warrant on rape allegations in Sweden.
Here in the U.S., the Justice Department is taking issue with his WikiLeaks website which has filled the U.S. secrets for years. The site first gained major attention during the Obama administration for publishing classified information stolen by the former Army Intelligence Analyst, now known as Chelsea Manning.
Back then, no charges were brought as prosecutors struggled with whether WikiLeaks was protected under the First Amendment. But, it seems they now have a path to prosecution they believe after investigators found what they believe was proof WikiLeaks helped former NSA analyst, Edward Snowden, disclose classified documents.
A lot to discuss with journalist Glenn Greenwald of "The Intercept" and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Glenn, if Julian Assange did more than just published classified information, if he aided and abetted sources who stole classified information, which is apparently where the Justice Department wants to charge him with, does that change things in your opinion?
GLENN GREENWALD, THE INTERCEPT: First of all, it's a huge if. The Obama Justice Department said that they had searched for evidence that indicated that he did that and found none. But even if he did, there are all kinds of ways that journalists constantly work with their sources in order to get information that they think that will help them report on stories.
And if we start criminalizing and turning into felonies the collaboration that journalists frequently do with their sources in terms of reporting information, you would not only chill reporting in this country even more than it's already been chilled by the prosecution of sources, but you would enable the government, the Trump's Justice Department to routinely prosecute media outlets on this theory that they work with their sources and that's what makes it so dangerous.
COOPER: Mr. Attorney General, what about that? I mean, you hear Glenn's opinion. Do you think WikiLeaks is essentially news organization? Do you think Julian Assange should he be trialed in a U.S. Court?
KEN CUCCINELLI, (R) FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, two points. First of all, I'm an open government person. But, the fact of the matter is this isn't a whistleblower we're talking about. We're talking about the potential for leaking classified information, not leaking "Hey, this is what they're going to do in the EPA budget". This is classified information. Everyone involved knows that's a serious felony and there's good reason for it.
If Assange was involved in helping them do it or offering them ways to hide their tracks and so forth, essentially he became a conspirator as opposed to merely a news outlet that might publish materials that others decided to leak without his involvement. That's a big, big difference.
COOPER: Mr. Attorney General, I do want to remind people what then candidate Trump said about WikiLeaks during the campaign. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. By the way, did you see another one? Another one came in today. This WikiLeaks is like a treasurer trove.
And by the way, WikiLeaks just came out with lots of really unbelievable things, just minutes ago.
[21:45:10] In fact, I almost delayed this speech by about two hours. It's so interesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How do you square those comments with the president's own Justice Department now wanting to go after Assange?
CUCCINELLI: Well, I don't really, but I don't think you have to. I mean, what we're talking about should be a dispassionate prosecutorial review done in a professional way. And you have considerations, elements of offenses that if the evidence exists that a prosecutor reasonably believes can be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt showing that Assange was conspiring with people to take and then publish classified materials.
Again, that's very different than any other form of government information that Glenn is referred to, then it really doesn't matter what a candidate for president said. If you're going to follow the rule of law and if you're going to be tough in enforcing this law, then this is something that can reasonably be seen to be prosecuted.
GREENWALD: The most important stories in the last few decades have involved the release of huge amounts of classified information going form the Pentagon papers, through the Manning and WikiLeaks documents, through the Snowden reporting, through a lot of reporting that CNN has done this year on the highest levels of classified briefings.
And then all of those cases, you have reporters talking to sources about how the information, the classified information is going to be obtained, how is going to be transmitted, and how it's going to be leaked. And I think we see from this discussion how easy it is, especially with the president who said the U.S. media is the enemy of the people.
If you accept this theory, that a media outlet can be prosecuted because they collaborated with their sources, how easy that can then spill over into traditional media outlets and to investigative journalism of the type that we recognize as important and noble and that is done by journalists and sources every single day. And that's the real danger here.
CUCCINELLI: I would just say that, you know, we've talked about all this in the context of the media as if there are -- and there are legal distinctions for the press as it relates to the First Amendment from others. But they're pretty narrow, they're pretty are thin.
And, you know, I also don't think we should be giving them ridiculous levels of protection compared to-- just ordinary individuals as it relates to gathering, stealing and disseminating classified information. Again, that's a huge difference here than an ordinary whistleblower leaking case.
COOPER: Glenn Greenwald, Attorney General Cuccinelli, appreciate both your perspectives. Thanks very much.
CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you.
GREENWALD: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News, you know that. I'll speak with the reporter whose "New York Times" piece uncovered the multimillion dollar payout to alleged victims of his sexual harassment.
[21:51:38] COOPER: Well, sexual harassment claims against Bill O'Reilly have been out there for more than a decade, but he didn't get pushed out of Fox News until just this week after a "New York Times" investigation found he and the network paid five women $13 million to keep quiet. After that article is published nearly three weeks ago, advertisers fled, more women came forward and finally this week O'Reilly was out.
Joining me now is reporter Emily Steel, who along with Michael Scmidt wrote the piece in "The New York Times." Did you-- when you wrote the piece, did you have any idea that it would result in him being fired?
EMILY STEEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: You know, we wrote the story because we really wanted to follow the facts and expose what had happened and we wanted to say-- it's kind of tell the stories of these women and tell the story of Bill O'Reilly's history and show how the company had covered up all of these issues with him, but we didn't know. We didn't what would happen.
COOPER: It's extraordinary the culture that seems like, from your reporting, that existed at Fox News, I mean, from the top down.
STEEL: From the top -- right. And that's what we've learned over the past nine months as there have been multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes who was the chairman of Fox News and there are also were multiple allegations of there-- against Bill O'Reilly who was the top host there.
COOPER: Right. And, you know, the company for a long time said, "Well, you know, there was a hotline. There were internal ways." Bill O'Reilly, I think at some point said that as well. You know, people can contact H.R. But when the company itself, I mean, is running (ph) from the top, I'm not sure why anybody would have confidence in any kind of internal system.
STEEL: Well, and that's what a lot of the women we've talked to have said, is that they didn't think that they could report these complaints. They thought that if they did that they would face retaliation. And the story that they really told us as an example is the story of this woman named Andrea Mackris, whom you interviewed three years ago.
COOPER: Right, right.
STEEL: And what happened with her after her lawyers went to Fox News with her allegations, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News sued her.
COOPER: Right, for extortion.
STEEL: For extortion, putting this whole story into the public. And so she sued him, but they had a private investigator follow her and they had the smear campaign in the press to try to paint her as a promiscuous woman who is trying to shake him down.
So if you're a woman at Fox News and you saw that, why would your want to bring forward a complaint?
COOPER: Andrea Mackris gets it fascinating, because I mean, if memories serves me, her lawyer-- I think they held a press conference, and they had very detailed conversations that they allege Bill O'Reilly had with Andrea Mackris over the phone, to the point of having sort of stutters and things in the conversation which they didn't say, but it seemed to indicate they had recordings.
STEEL: Right. The lawsuit doesn't say that there are any recordings, but our reporting has shown that there were recordings.
COOPER: Because it was so specific. I mean, the speech patterns, everything, the uhms, that was all in there. And -- but, again, it's amazing that that case was, what, 2004?
STEEL: That was 2004.
COOPER: And there was $9 million payout, according to your reporting, right? So, the fact that that didn't -- you know, it just rolled off his back and Bill O'Reilly continued on.
STEEL: Right. That's what was really extraordinary about, the reporting is that there were allegations of inappropriate behavior about Bill O'Reilly going back as far back as 2002. There was the Andrea Mackris case in 2004. There was another settlement in 2011 with a woman who also had tapes.
[21:55:03] And then this summer, after Roger Ailes was ousted the company said, "We're going to clean up this behavior." The Murdoch's promised that this would be an environment based on trust and respect. And in the months after that, the company struck two more deals with women who had allegations about Bill O'Reilly.
COOPER: Women you've talked to, do they now -- feel now that Bill O'Reilly is gone that things will get better?
STEEL: That's what interesting. I've talked to several women inside the network this week and they said it was a good step that Bill O'Reilly was gone, but then they're remains a lot of work to do. Women say that they still fear making complaints. And the other thing that a lot of people were not happy about was the $25 million payout that Bill O'Reilly received.
COOPER: You -- is it true that he threatened you in the course of your reporting?
STEEL: It was not anything to do with the story. It was in 2015. I was writing a different story about Bill O'Reilly. He had-- there was a controversy about his reporting, his war (ph) reporting.
COOPER: Right. That is -- right, what he had -- how he had -- what things he had said about his resume.
STEEL: Exactly. And so, we were calling him for comment. We wanted to write a fair and accurate story and I picked up the phone and it was Bill O'Reilly on the line and he immediately said that our reporting had been fair, but if he found anything untoward he would come after me with everything he had and that he would take that as a threat.
So what's really important is that -- well, it did not have anything to do with the story. It was two years before the allegations about sexual harassment at Fox News had even come out.
COOPER: Right. Well, Emily Steel, I know there's (ph) a few long time for report, I appreciate you coming here.
STEEL: Yeah, thank you.
COOPER: We'll be right back.