Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.K. Raises Terror Threat Level, Another Attack Possibly Imminent; Family Searching for Missing Teen; Trump Expected To Retain Attorney For Russia Inquiry; Ex-CIA Chief: Contacts Between Trump Campaign And Russians; Manafort Turn Over 300+ Pages Of Documents To Senate Cmte; Interview with Rep. Jim Himes. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 23, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We are devoting a good deal of program tonight to the Manchester bombings. There are new developments to report, of course, and we expect still more throughout the next two hours.
Ordinarily, learning more about anything nearly anything and bringing it to you first is one of the great privileges of this job. At times, it can even be a joy. Certainly not tonight. Not with this story.
There is instead only urgency and the search for ties that the man who blew himself up in Manchester Arena may have had to any larger terror cell. There is determination in the hearts of people in Manchester and people throughout the United Kingdom to resist being terrorized, even by this, even as the terror threat level is raised tonight to critical on concerns of another attack.
And above all, there is sadness and there is dread because each new development could bring the name of another child who now no longer is and only talked about in the past tense, as someone who was, or worse, someone who might have been, might have been anything at all. Perhaps even the first one day to live in a world where what happened last night never happens to anyone's child or parent or best friend ever again.
Twenty-two people were killed or mortally wounded at the Ariana Grande concert. We know the name of three.
John Atkinson was a college student who loved to dance, competed with a local dance studio. He was from Radcliffe, outside Manchester. He was attending college. He was 26 years old.
Georgina Callander was 18. Judging by her Instagram account, she loved Disney and animals. She just started driving and was studying health and social care.
Saffie-Rose Roussos was 8 years old, 8 years old. She was at the concert with her mom and her older sister. Both were hurt in the attack. Saffie's school principal said she was quiet, unassuming but with a
creative flair. The thought he said to anyone to go to a concert and not come home is heart breaking. Saffie Rose Roussos, who might have been eight decades of quite creativity, unassuming flair, love and life ahead of her, instead had only 8 years, now forever in the past.
There are 19 more victims yet to be named and some parents do not yet have even the cold comfort of knowing about the fate of their own child.
Charlotte Campbell is not able to find her 15-year-old Olivia. She and Olivia's stepfather Paul Hodgson spoke earlier today and Ms. Campbell describing the last time she heard from her daughter and why they're both determined to not give up looking for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, MOTHER OF OLIVIA CAMPBELL: It was her first day (ph). She'd seen the supporting act. She said they were amazing. She was waiting for Ariana to come on and she was so happy. And she thanked me. And she said she loved me.
And that was the last I heard from her.
I got a phone call from her dad about 20 past 11:00. He asked if Olivia was home. And I said, no. Why? The concert's obviously over.
He said, Charlotte, stop. There's been an explosion at the arena. I'm heading to Manchester now to try and find her. I straightaway got on the phone to the police. Then I phoned Paul because Paul was in Northampton working and informed him of what was happening.
I was told by the police there wasn't much they could do at the time because it was so fresh. I just had to sit and wait. I eventually got news that they were starting to be transferred to hospital so I started phoning hospitals. I was constantly on the phone to her dad, to Paul, to everybody.
It was on Facebook. The police said get it out on social media so somebody can find her. Somebody might see her, which we did. A good friend of ours got it on to Twitter for us. It's gone mad from what she's done.
And 3:00 I think it was they finally released a number. So, we rung, gave a brief description of Olivia. And she was then registered as a missing person.
PAUL HODGSON, STEPFATHER OF OLIVIA CAMPBELL: Number 13.
CAMPBELL: Number 13.
HODGSON: We searched every hospital. There's no signs of her at the moment. We've got to a point, we've searched and searched. And the search, we can only do so much tonight.
Tomorrow, we're going to be back out tomorrow, and we'll be back out and we're going to do it all over again and we'll do it every single day until we find that little girl.
[20:05:07] Whatever it takes, I'm going to find her. I'm going to bring her home, whatever.
All we ask is if anybody -- we're sharing the pictures, several pictures out there now of her. That people carry on sharing.
I know it might be getting boring for people. I know it might be getting repetition. But if that one person who hasn't seen it sees it and that one person sees her, then we get her back. And that's all we ask. We don't want much.
I thought also glad to the other parents who are in the same position as us. And sadly, to the parents of who lost their children, the little ones. Our hearts go out to them, as well. But at this present moment, we just need our Olivia back.
CAMPBELL: Olivia is a bubbly child. Cheeky. Cheeky as anything. If you're feeling down, she'll make you laugh. If she can't make you laugh, she'll hug you until you're smiling again.
She's always there for everybody. No matter how she's feeling. She'll put everybody else first. She's just adored by so many people.
HODGSON: The young lad got the tickets for his birthday.
HODGSON: And asked Oli to go and Oli loved singing. Oli's a singer herself. She likes that type of music.
HODGSON: Yes. It was -- it was a --
CAMPBELL: It was like a dream come true to her.
HODGSON: She wanted to do, see it. And as far as we were concerned, Manchester on the metro, 20 minutes away, young girl --
CAMPBELL: Hundreds of people.
HODGSON: Hundreds of people. Should be safe. And they went there --
CAMPBELL: She knows if she's lost her phone, she knows my number by heart. She knows to find somebody. She knows to jump in a taxi and come home.
HODGSON: We've always said if anything ever happens, you can't go home, you jump in the taxi.
CAMPBELL: She knows to find an adult, a police officer, anybody.
HODGSON: And she's got the guts to walk up to somebody and go, I need to use your phone.
HODGSON: This is -- this stumbling block. What we can't get hold of her. We haven't heard. And we don't know why. This is -- we need an answer to why she is not --
CAMPBELL: I love her so much and I want her home. I need her home. She's my baby. And I miss her so much. If she's out there, just phone. Just phone. I'll be there. I don't care where she is, I'll be there.
HODGSON: Can't say anymore than that, can I?
We'd just like to say thank you to every single person that shared, that's commented, that sent their love. We do it appreciate it. And each (ph) individual to thank -- when that little girl is back. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And there are many families in Manchester tonight who are waiting just as they wait right now.
As we reported at the top of the broadcast, British authorities have now raised the threat level to critical on concerns of another attack to be imminent.
Our Christiane Amanpour has the latest on that and all of the rest of the day's top news on this. She joins us now from Manchester.
Let's talk about the investigation, Christiane. What is the latest?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's just so heart breaking when we listen to that interview and as you said, Anderson, there are more parents in that terrible, terrible position, people who are still looking for their loved ones out there, searching the morgue, searching the hospitals.
And now, of course, the police have been ratcheting up their investigation. They call it fast moving. They have made one arrest. They have done a controlled explosion to get into a couple of locations in parts of the city and they are obviously trying to find out whether this person who they identified as being the killer, whether he acted completely alone or whether he had any kind of support, whatever kind of support, and whether there are any other cells or any other potential attackers on the loose.
As you know, the raising of the threat level to critical by the prime minister means that another attack could be imminent.
[20:10:04] So, they have done that and they've also, you know, deployed thousands of military, of the armed forces, as well, who are going to support the police and to relieve some of the police from other sort of more routine duties to help in this investigation.
So, that's where we are at the moment, Anderson. COOPER: And, Christiane, earlier today, there was news of another
arrest of a 23-year-old thought in connection to this. Has that -- do they know if, in fact, that person is connected to this? And also, obviously, ISIS claimed responsibility. Is there any evidence of an actual ISIS connection to back up its claim?
AMANPOUR: You know, only sort of bits and bobs and threads that we're sort of gleaning by what people have said and what they haven't said. ISIS claimed it later on during the day, calling the bomber a soldier of the caliphate and saying, describing how he, quote, placed explosives in the middle of this gathering. And I immediately picked that up because the police earlier today said that the perpetrator who was found dead was carrying an IED. They didn't say wearing, carrying. So, we're still waiting to know exactly, precisely how and what kind of explosives were used and how they were placed and detonated.
And in terms of the arrests, we don't know the full details at all. And we've heard lately from the Scotland Yard who say they're freeing up as I said more and more of the special police to continue with the investigations while they have military deployed, some several thousand in various static areas who will be under the control of the police and nonetheless, the military will be deployed and this is the first time since the 7/7 attacks back in 2005.
So, still, this investigation crucial to figure out whether it's part of a bigger issue or not, or whether it's one of these, quote/unquote, lone wolves.
COOPER: And given the amount of time that has passed, I mean, it's now more than 24 hours, there are still people unaccounted for and as we saw, there are families, there are parents waiting for word. What are authorities and their families doing at this point? It seems like -- I mean, for that family to be in the horrible, horrible limbo is just unthinkable.
AMANPOUR: You know, when you listen to those parents, I mean, desperate, desperate parents, as parents, you can only imagine what they're going through and the most horrible thing you can imagine. And that's why everybody has been so shocked, that this was so craven. Even in the annuls of the craven attacks we have seen over the years, to deliberately target children, I mean, the youngest, the most vulnerable and most innocent.
And so, you know, the police are still trying to help the parents, the authorities are trying to help the families. They've got sort of hotlines and tip lines and places where you can put photos. As you heard, that family wanted to talk to CNN so they could not only describe their pain but to show the picture of their daughter Olivia and see if somebody might have their memory triggered to have seen her and to be able to pass on a tip. That's the level of desperation so many people are under.
So formal, informal efforts are trying to, you know, gather information on the missing and help them be reunited. I mean, one of the things we were learning about the bomber, you mentioned, one of the victims and many, many of them, university age, we're told and they tell CNN that this person is sort of a dropout of one of the universities around here called Salford University, that he didn't really attend his classes, that he was studying there and people described him as a bit of a loner.
So -- and also, the prime minister said that he was born in England but of Libyan parentage, Libyan descent. So, all these bits of the puzzle are being put together and until we all find out what happened.
COOPER: Yes. The process of identifying the dead continues.
Christiane, thank you. Stay with us.
Next, more on the raids of police carried out today, what they were looking for, what they have found.
And later, former CIA Director John Brennan spoke today during his House testimony, talking for the first time in a public setting about the red flags that he saw between the Trump team and Russia. Also, more breaking news, word that the president's expected to lawyer up. We'll tell you with whom and why, ahead.
[20:18:04] COOPER: The breaking news out of the United Kingdom tonight, the terror threat level there raised to critical. It's the highest by definition indicating another attack could be imminent. It's only the third time in Britain's history that the terror level has been at critical.
So, authorities there are certainly scrambling to try and determine if there's a cell or some sort of larger network, not only responsible for last night's bombing but that might be planning another one.
Our Atika Shubert is in Manchester. She joins us now with more on the raids that took place there today.
What do we know about these raids?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's really two locations that police searched. Where I'm standing now is the street where the suspect lived or at least his last known address. Police used a controlled detonation to get into the house and then sent in forensics teams to comb through evidence that they found there. We understand they took out documents and other materials, but police haven't told us what else they found inside.
Now, separately, the other property they searched was in another neighborhood nearby and we have confirmed with family, friends and neighbors that was the apartment of the suspect's brother. A 23-year- old suspect believed to be linked to the attack was also arrested in that nearby neighborhood and it's quite dramatic we understand from one eyewitness that police sort of swooped in and really seemed to pluck him off the street was walking from the tram station.
Now, we have had a chance to speak to neighbors and friends about what's been happening. One man who knew the suspect since he was a little boy described him as a lonely kid who had grown increasingly devout, wearing traditional Islamic robes and said that the family did go back and forth from Libya, which is where the family was originally from, although the children were born here in Britain.
So, we are getting some details of the attackers but still no details on the types of explosives used or detonation device. That will be key to figuring out how this attack was put together.
COOPER: Yes. Atika Shubert, thank you for those details.
Christian Amanpour is back with us. Joining us as well is Philip Mudd and Paul Cruickshank.
[20:20:02] Paul, Britain raising its terror threat level to critical, as we said only the third time of the country's history. How does security forces get -- you know, get their arms around something like this and what does it to raise the level, how does it help them?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's a pretty stunning development to raise this all the way up to critical, meaning an attack is considered potentially imminent, Anderson. I think it's related to the fact that investigations today have raised the possibility of a conspiracy being involved, but it's also because there's been an uptick in terrorist activity in recent months and weeks in the United Kingdom, with a number of terror plots being thwarted. There's also this election coming up in a couple of weeks and we have seen attacks of terrorist groups in the past before elections, most recently in Paris, with that attack on a French soldier on the Champs-Elysees.
And it's also the start of Ramadan on Friday. Last year, ISIS called for surge of attacks during Ramadan. So, they're ratcheting up this threat level, but now, it was -- they were already on very high alert and unclear to me how they're going to be able to do a lot more to protect the country, putting a lot of military on the streets, while that's mostly to reassure people, it is the police and security services that have the toolkit to prevent terrorist plots and an intelligence-led process.
This military deployed to some degree will be a deterrent, but hard to see how they're going to stop terrorist plots from going into operation. That's the absolute crucial part of saving lives here.
COOPER: Phil, I mean, investigators saying the work of this bomber, that is more sophisticated than the work of a typical so-called lone wolf. Does that surprise you? And how likely do you think it is that this person was acting alone or had some sort of network?
PHIL MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: That's surprises me. If you look at the contrast we have seen since 9/11, Anderson, you have a sophisticated, centrally driven plot, multiple actors, for example. What we saw in Europe recently. And then you have a lone wolf who gets angered, picks up a knife and tries to cut somebody's head off on the street. In this case, you have a middle ground. Somebody who spent the time
and the sophistication to develop an explosive device, and to be blunt, who chose a target to maximize not only casualties but casualties of children. That to me is a hybrid between a centrally directed plot of sophistication and a homegrown guy who just wants to kill somebody.
So, I think, going forward, you've got to look at this, and say are we sure with that sophistication, that kind of hybrid operation, he never not only coordinated with somebody, but spoke with somebody. That's why talking to a brother is so important.
I would be surprised if he never whispered a word of his intentions, not that he had a co-conspirator but that somebody was aware of what he was going to do. We'll see that and expect to know in a day or two.
COOPER: Yes. Christiane, I mean, just -- you know, clearly, they knew what target they were going for. They had a sense of I assume when this concert was going to be getting out and a way to try to inflict mass casualties without being faced by security. They didn't have to try to bring the device in and have their bags searched and they knew -- they must have known that this was going to be young people.
AMANPOUR: Well, apparently so. I mean, Ariana Grande is famous, as you know, in America, and she's massively famous around the world, precisely to this age group. And that is clearly the number of people who were there, the majority of the people there with their parents, as well -- mostly young girls and their parents, mostly their mother. So, this was a very particular target.
And you know, we have seen now this idea of attacking people in concerts whether it was last night here, whether it was the Bataclan in Paris and the discotheque in Istanbul. So -- and the language coming from ISIS supporters of this was just vile. You know, they were blaming people for being at this kind of as they called, you know, unclean event. I mean, really grotesque.
Right here, behind -- you can see in the darkness maybe make it out, the Manchester arena behind and still a vast cordon is in place while they try to preserve evidence, keep looking, keep the place, you know, OK for police to go around and keep looking.
But as Phil said, this idea of a lone wolf or not, now, there's a big debate in the security community as to what is a lone wolf. It doesn't necessarily mean a lone person. That even if somebody didn't do the attack with this man, well then, perhaps he talked to them, perhaps inspired by them, perhaps any kind of a support, even though they didn't partake in the attack.
So, the lone wolf in this instance is already being blurred, the actual definition of what that might mean, Anderson.
COOPER: Phil, I mean, this is -- you hear about, you know, soft targets being looked at all the time. Obviously, in, you know, their security in order to get into this arena.
[20:25:03] But you can't secure every possible place. And, obviously, in going into an arena, there's going to be people coming out and when they come out, you know, they're vulnerable there. I mean, at a certain point, it is incredibly tough to secure all these places.
MUDD: Two things, Anderson. First, I keep hearing this term soft target. I don't view this as a soft target.
When I get on the Washington metro every morning, there's no security around that perimeter. In this case, there was security, at least checking a bag. That is hugely significant here. Someone with this emotional intensity going in there, realizing he's going to lose his life within a matter of seconds or minutes is going to detonate early, as soon as he determines that he is under threat.
I think the perimeter security here might have saved lives, even if it's a very limited security. So, this isn't classically soft.
I think when we look at this, we have -- we have to say perimeter security, football games, basketball games, makes a difference. But as you say, you know, security experts, terrorism experts are going to say, every time they see one of these, look, the target fits a pattern. There is no pattern.
You want to go to concerts, schools, sports stadiums, airports, train stations, bus stations, some point 15, 16 years in after 9/11, you say I'm not sure if we can sure everything, because I don't see a clear pattern.
COOPER: All right.
Just ahead, we're going to have more of breaking news, word that President Trump is about to hire outside counsel to assist him in the Russia probe. This comes after two top intelligence chiefs, one current, one former, were asked key questions related to the investigation on Capitol Hill. What Dan Coats and John Brennan said and didn't say in a moment.
[20:30:03] COOPER: Throughout the program, we're going to be bringing you the latest on the investigation the terrorist attack in Manchester, England.
Right now, though, we're going to shift our focus to Washington D.C. and breaking news to the Russian investigation.
CNN has learned that Pres. Trump is expected to hire his long time Atty. Marc Kasowitz, to represent him on matters related to the Russia probe. As not the only development in the story, the Senate Intelligence Committee is issuing two new subpoenaing seeking documents from business owned by Michael Flynn.
The new subpoenas are another sign the Committee is turning up the heat on Flynn who is invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. Senator Richard Burr, the committee's chair, said today a contempt charge is possible, his exact words, everything is on the table. That's what he said.
Meanwhile, at a House Intelligence Committee hearing today, Former CIA Director John Brennan testified about contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign and concerns they raised for him. Jessica Schneider has more to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The former CIA director revealed today he was concerned by the communication he saw between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials of the height of the 2016 campaign. It was the most detailed account by a high ranking intelligence official in an open hearing.
BRENNAN: I don't know whether or not such collusion, and that's your term, such collusion existed, I don't know, but I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.
SCHNEIDER: Today he told Congress he received information that the Russians were working to recruit Americans associated with the Trump campaign.
By early August, Brennan was so concerned he called the head of Russia's intelligence agency, FSB, to send a warning.
BRENNAN: I told Mr. Bortnikov that if Russia had such a campaign under way, it would be certain to backfire. I said that all Americans regardless of political affiliation of whom they might support in the election cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or distraction.
SCHNEIDER: Brennan led the CIA until the final day of the Obama administration.
BRENNAN: By the time I left office on January 20th, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not, to work in their behalf, again, either in a whiting or unwhiting fashion.
Frequently, individuals who go along the treason's path do not even realized they're along that path until it gets to be
SCHNEIDER: That interference has led to an FBI investigation and questions about whether Pres. Trump has sought to discredit, undermine, or obstruct that investigation.
Multiple current and former U.S. official tell CNN that Pres. Trump asked two of the government's top intelligence chiefs, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Director Admiral Michael Rogers to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, both men refused the request. Today Coats refused to comments on the reports.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president.
SCHNEIDER: It was just last week that sources disclosed Pres. Trump also asked recently fired FBI Chief James Comey to shut down at least part of the investigation. And now Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn announced he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, instead of compliant with the subpoena from a Senate Intelligence Committee, top Democrat Mark Warner is promising to push back.
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We don't believe that you can take a blanket immunity on the Fifth in terms of documents. We'll take some further action today, two sets of options and as Chairman Burr mentioned yesterday, we're not taking contempt to Congress off the table either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Jessica Schneider joins us now. I understand Pres. Trump's Former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort just turned over hundreds of documents to Senate Intelligence Committee, what do you know about that?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah, we're just getting that information and, Anderson, 300 pages of documents that include drafts of speeches, calendars and notes all from his time on the campaign. He was campaign manager until August of 2016.
Now t he Senate Intel Committee, they asked Manafort to provide materials documenting his ties to Russia. So all these documents they don't include any materials of Manafort's ties to Ukraine. That's something that the FBI and the DOJ are investigating, of course, because Manafort was a lobbyist for the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych, Anderson.
COOPER: Jessica Schneider. Jessica, thanks a lot of the details to with discuss. David Gergen, and Ryan Lizza, Jen Psaki, and Jason Miller.
David, so today on Capitol Hill, Former Head of CIA John Brennan said under oath that he saw evidence that Trump aide were being courted by Russia operatives. He didn't name any names. He said that those contacts could have been completely innocent, and that's the point we're going to point out. But he also cannot ruled out -- there could have been compromised by the Russians and maybe not even known it, your reactions.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, the opposition that Trump people are going to -- certain to push back against John Brennan, they're going to -- a lackey of Pres. Obama, he was an Obama appointee, and he's only -- he was trying to stick it to the president wherever he could today. But I actually kind of -- his testimony to put another piece into the puzzle and helped us see on the pattern more clearly, and what's -- I think what's new, Anderson, about this is a lot of us have assumed that collusion might be -- sort of meetings between equals. And what he is arguing is, he was concerned that the Russians were manipulating Americans unwittingly, and they were trying to make them their dupes and put them in a position where they could be blackmailed if they didn't go along with what the Russians would want. That's an interesting theory and one, but obviously, he took very seriously, and I would remind people he think he's a lackey.
[20:35:42] This is a fellow that spent 25 years in the CIA, rode through the ranks of Republican administrations as well as Democratic administrations.
COOPER: Yeah, I mean, Ryan, it was interesting, one of the things he was saying that kind of along David's point is that somebody can be a target of compromise and not even realized it or be compromised and not realize it.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He had that sort of startling line where he said, once you go down you could go down the treasonous path and not know it, right, that you could be -- unwillingly co-opted by a foreign intelligence service.
And, this is the first time that I can remember a senior administration or former administration official, if you think of Sally Yates or James Comey or Clapper or Mike Rogers, all the parade of senior Obama and Trump officials who have testified recently, all of which who have had sort of bad news for the Trump administration, is they've all taken the Russian investigation a lot more seriously than Trump.
He's the first one that actually raised -- used the word treason. So I found out a lot to be particularly, you know, sobering. Two other things about Trump in that hearing that were not good for the White House.
One, (inaudible) to the Russian investigation. He talked about the president's -- reportedly revealing classified information in that meeting in the Oval Office, with the two Russian officials and he said that there were two protocols, according to Brennan, that the president did not abide by.
And, finally, when Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican, asked him specifically did he have evidence of collusion between Donald Trump specifically and the Russians? He decline to say yes or no and just said he was concern enough that he handed over the intelligence that he saw to the FBI.
COOPER: Jason, as we -- the White House issued a statement very quickly after Brennan saying, "There is still no evidence of collusion," was it a bad news for the White House? Today, Ryan was categorizing in this?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I think in many ways we're back to the beginning of where we started. We're going into today, if you support Pres. Trump, you're going to say that there was absolutely not one shred of evidence that was put forward, saying there was coordination between the campaign and some foreign (inaudible).
If you don't like Pres. Trump, you probably found something today, some silver ling that you could grab on to and try to say that, you know, there is some scandal or some "there" there. But I think there are couple important things to go back to, number one, where was all this outrage from some of these folks that we heard from today, last year if there was supposed a leak, anything out there?
And I think also, two, I think --
COOPER: You mean outrage about possible Russian meddling or --
MILLER: Right, and I mean, it also too, even the point that the director, the former director made today that the Russians have been trying to get involved with elections for decades. And so to make it sound like, you know, for I think many in the media have tried to make this sound like a something specific to Pres. Trump.
But also this line today from the former director, saying that he's into intelligence not evidence. I think it's a line that -- he's a Trump supporter, many of us will look to and say, then what's this all about? If there's absolutely no evidence, we're still going to do these dances every single day?
Bottom line, we got to get this away from the Hill and I think this is actually where the special counsel could be a benefit to the administration because it's -- the Hill has just become a circus.
COOPER: Jen, do you see that difference between evidence and intelligence? I assume one reading of that is -- evidence is something which can actual lead to legal -- illegal, you know, illegal prosecution, intelligence something we can just be informational but doesn't actually lead to some of prosecution.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the role of a CIA director or somebody in the Intelligence Committee, somebody like John Brennan, who is -- that's already been known and served for 25 years including under Pres. Bush, is to gather the intelligence and gather the information.
Obviously the Department of Justice and a special counsel is somebody who would do the prosecuting, it's different. I don't think we should overanalyze what he was trying to say there. I think one of the interesting -- a couple of the interesting thing --
COOPER: That's what we do.
PSAKI: Sure. But there are times when it's warranted and there are times when I think they're more important --
COOPER: We've got nine minutes. PSAKI: Fair enough. But there are more important things, I think, that happened today and that happened during the hearing. And, you know, I think Brennan was saying he went through the proper chain of command, he raised the alarms internally, he had a basically a working group on the Hill and he's somebody who would know exactly what an operative from another country was trying to accomplish.
So, I think we learned something, a few things from his hearing today, then, frankly, raised more questions.
[20:40:01] COOPER: We got to take a break. We don't have nine minutes. But we have, do have more conversation ahead, with Michael Flynn facing new heat from the Senate Intelligence Committee and Pres. Trump facing questions about whether he sow to obstruct the Russia investigation. How big a problem is this for the White House? We'll talk about that ahead.
COOPER: We're talking about the testimony at today's House Intelligence Committee hearing, Former CIA Director John Brennan telling lawmakers there was clear contact between Trump campaign aides and Russian operatives during the 2016 election.
He (inaudible) describing it is collusion that said the contacts raised his concern. His testimony came on the heels of new questions about whether Pres. Trump sow to obstruct the FBI's investigation, a possible collusion.
Back now with the panel.
You know, David, just stepping back, looking at all these reports together, and again, one can, depending really what side of the aisle you're on, you can look at (inaudible) there's no "there" there, you can look at (inaudible) there's a pattern. You hear Pres. Trump asking Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn, firing Comey, telling the Russians the pressure is now -- is off now that Comey is gone, asking Comey and two top intelligence officials to publicly say there's no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.
If all that is true, how big a problem is it for president and his administration? Because until there's actual illegality, evidence of it shown, you know, to Jason's earlier point, you can look at it and say there's no "there" there, there's nothing illegal.
[20:45:00] GERGEN: Well, I think it's indisputable that the president wanted this investigation to go away, that he's found it very burdensome, he does actually based on his view that of course that nothing illegal happened and it's interfering my ability to govern.
But even so, all the steps he's taken to maker it go away, add up to a possible obstruction, but Anderson, as we all know, I don't think the obstruction issue is going to be settled in the court, it's much more likely to be settled in the court of public opinion especially in the elections of 2018. All the evidence has been brought together now with regard to the president and also with regard to the question that (inaudible) and his family, being brought together under -- by a bipartisan on the Democratic side.
Yeah they're waiting with a hope that in 2018 they can win the House back, and there will be evidence that they can bring and possible impeachment hearing.
So, I think it does matter what's being collected. I don't think that it's not actually clear whether there's obstruction of justice. But clearly, there's an arguable case for obstruction of justice, the other side will argue, no there's not. But I do think -- it's going to have a lot to do ultimately, how the politics of this thing begin to cut.
COOPER: Ryan, do you agree that the politics matter? Because I mean with Mueller's investigation, Mueller is not tasked with looking, is it something that's worrisome, it is something that's inappropriate. He's looking at illegality, is there evidence of something illegal and if there's not, and if he doesn't issue a report, --
COOPER: -- is it politically damaging?
LIZZA: You know, that's a good point. If Mueller does not issue a -- he doesn't do what Comey did at the end of his investigation, even if he doesn't bring charges. It's a publicly --
COOPER: Comey was hammered for it.
LIZZA: Comey was hammered for it. Now, that precedent may be, you know, that may be a precedent that Mueller does not want to follow.
On the other hand, you may have a lot of Democrats who will cite the Ken Starr example and say, we want a full accounting, and that was back when we had Independent Counsel Statue, we want a full accounting of what you found, we want you to report that to Congress, because, you know, you have a lot of Democrats who are using the "I" word already, and they're going to wanted some insight into that FBI investigation, whether it comes up with criminal charges or not.
And so, I think, a lot of Democrats will say that's what Ken started, he wrote a report to the Congress, but that they used as basis for impeaching Bill Clinton. At the very (inaudible), I think Congress is going to demand some full accounting of the FBI investigation.
COOPER: Jen, I mean as a Democrat, would you accept if Robert Mueller comes out and says, look, there's no illegality there, my work is done. Would you accept that?
PSAKI: I think everybody has to accept it, I mean he is somebody who has put in a position, who is respect by a people on both side of the aisle and everybody think he's going to do (inaudible) job. I'm certain he will. I think in the core of public opinion which is pretty extensive beyond the FBI investigation and beyond the work of Mueller, you also have the Senate Intel work. And there was a view two weeks ago or week ago when Mueller was named, that this -- they would disappear into the dark of night. I think Burr and Warner showed that's absolutely not the case and there's a lot, I think, that can come out of that.
COOPER: Very briefly, Jason, do you think Democrats will accept or do you think Democrats are going to move the goal post and say, look, there may not be illegality here, but, you know, what he do is inappropriate or whatever.
MILLER: Right, and the Democrats won't be happy until Pres. Trump is out of office. They'll keep pulling the string and pulling the string until there's no more sweater left. And I think that's when the things will resolved the gross hypocrisy this past week when Mueller was named. How many Democrats still continue to push for additional investigations or it has to be an independent commission, something of that nature put together.
Look, there's a special counsel, Mueller's probably the best person I think for both sides, let him go and do his job.
COOPER: We got a minute. Thank you everybody. I'll talk to Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee in a moment about John Brennan's testimony today and more on Manchester, we'll be right back.
[20:52:33] COOPER: Back to the breaking news in Washington. Former CIA Director John Brennan testified today that there were clear contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, interactions that he found concerning because of, "Known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals." Mr. Brennan said he did not know if the Russians were successful. He was testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing.
Democratic Congressman Jim Himes served on the committee and joins me now. Congressman, I'm wondering what your reaction to Brennan was today when he said that he saw evidence that Trump aides were being courted by Russian operatives.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECITCUT: Well, I wasn't particularly surprised. And, you know, he said that in answer to a question from one of my Republican colleagues. I think that my Republican colleague was hoping to get the answer that he'd seen no evidence of collusion. And to be very careful about what Brennan said, Brennan didn't give him quite the answer he wanted. He said, look, I saw some contacts that raised some concerns. And as we do, because we're not a law enforcement agency, we referred those to the FBI. And I think what that tells you -- and I was listening close to the previous panel. There's a lot of possible outcomes of the investigation that the FBI is doing and, of course, of the investigations that the Congress is doing. And one of those outcomes may be -- I mean it could be that there was criminal behavior. It could be that there wasn't. It could be there was inappropriate but not criminal behavior. But one those outcomes may be -- and this could be featured in a report that we write, not necessarily the FBI, but that we write, could be, hey, when you've got a transition and you've got a foreign power like Russia that will dedicate a lot of resources and a lot of people to try and to make those contacts, to try to cultivate people, here is how you should react. Here is how it works. We could learn from how the Russians seek as John Brennan said today this suborn people and processes here in the United States.
COOPER: Well, I mean frankly, it's what the CIA -- I mean it's what any intelligence service does when they're trying to recruit assets overseas. They basically develop relationships and can be a long recruitment and as Brennan said today, the subject maybe doesn't even realize the road they are going down until it's too late until they're facing -- that they've done something which they are compromised.
HIMES: Yeah. That's exactly right. And so, you know, I take some exception with the member of the previous panel who said that this is fundamentally about politics and you can tell what's going to happen based on the party label associated with investigators.
Look, I think Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff have been very sober minded, very fact based. Mark Warner and Sen. Burr has not, you know, been political, they've really -- I think played this down the middle. And I think we're all aware that there's lots of possible outcomes from the, you know, crazy Hollywood outcome of all sorts of sinister things going on that, quite frankly, the conclusion that, yeah, nobody did anything wrong but we can all learn a lot about how Russians and others, by the way, try to do this in a transition. And, you know, maybe some of the lessons are about protocol associated with contacts with Russians and other antagonistic groups during a transition.
I wouldn't prejudge with the outcome is going to be, but I do suspect that when it's all said and done we will have learned some valuable lessons.
[20:55:40] COOPER: The White House put out a statement saying that Brennan testimony backed up what they have been saying that there's still, "no evidence of any Russia/Trump campaign collusion." Is that what you heard today in the hearing?
HIMES: Well, you know, again, I just don't understand how the White House comes at these things. There's an FBI investigation under way. And the White House and the Congress have absolutely no idea what is inside that investigation, what information they have.
And so when the White House comes out and says there is no evidence, they are very clearly saying something that they can't possibly know. And that act, of course, damages your credibility. So why this White House persists in damaging its own credibility by making statements that they can't know to be true is a mystery to me. I would have thought that if I were the president, I would say, hey guys, build up my credibility, don't damage it. COOPER: Congressman Himes, good to talk to you. Thank you very much.
HIMES: Thanks Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead on 360, the latest on the breaking news at the Manchester, England, the terror threat raised to the highest level with concern another attack could be imminent.
Also, raids are being carried out as we learn more about the suicide bomber and our focus on the lives he took.
COOPER: We continue following breaking news tonight out of Manchester and across the UK where the terror threat level now stands a critical, that means another attack in the wake of last night's bombing at Ariana Grande concert could be imminent. That's what that level of warning means.
In the meantime, soldiers are out on the streets in key locations. Raids are being carried out. Intelligence agencies certainly working around the clock ...