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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
CBO: Senate Bill Leaves 22 Million More Uninsured by 2026; WaPo: FBI Questioned Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page at Length. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 26, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
There's breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation. New reporting on how interested the FBI seems to be in former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The story just out of "The Washington Post" detailing how many times Page has been questioned already, what he's been asked about and told investigators. Page himself, according to "The Post", calling the encounters extensive. Now, in a moment, the correspondent who broke the story.
We begin, though, with the Senate Obamacare replacement bill and yet another big number: 22 million. Twenty-two million fewer people with insurance by 2026. That, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Also big deficit reduction. However, it's that 22 million estimate that could be politically toxic to some Republican moderates, or one of whom weighed in late tonight.
So, there's a lot to get to, starting with our Phil Mattingly at the Capitol.
So, what else is in the CBO report?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you start with that top line number, Anderson, and you know it's important, particularly for moderate senator. Several of whom have pointed to the coverage number before the CBO report released and said their vote may be contingent on that.
Now, 22 million is the top line number of Americans, fewer Americans that would have insurance over the course of a ten-year period.
Now, why that matters is this -- the Senate bill takes a different approach than the House bill to try and address the House bill's coverage problems. The House bill, if you recall, had 23 million. The Senate has a more robust tax credit. They phase out Medicaid over a slower amount of time. And still, there is not a dramatic change in the coverage of it.
You also need to look at the Medicaid cuts or the reductions in Medicaid spending based on what are really dramatic reforms in the Medicaid program. The types of reforms conservatives have pushed for for a long period of time, $772 billion fewer will be spent over the course of ten year period.
Now, you noted the deficit reduction and this is very important. Obviously, $321 billion the deficit reduction in this bill. Why does that matter? Well, Anderson, the House bill has a baseline of about $133 billion. That means the Senate at least has to match that.
So, they've obviously matched that and they have about $200 billion to work with. That matters because when you look at moderates who are concerned about how deeply this bill cuts back spending on things like Medicaid, or the Medicaid expansion, Mitch McConnell now has a pot of money to work with, to try and win some of those moderate senators over.
But as is always the case here, there's a push and a pull. If you start spending, some of that deficit reduction money on say, opioid recovery grants, or kind of phasing out the Medicaid expansion slower, you have conservatives who are very concerned about the spending, very concerned about the Medicaid phase out as is. They might revolt about this.
I will note, one other quick item, and I think this is important to note, conservatives have been very keen on one specific issue -- lowering premiums. That's their kind of be all, end all here. If you look at the CBO report, there is some good news on that front. By 2020, premiums on average for individual plans would drop by about 30 percent. By 2026, about 20 percent.
But the rational for that is changing the types of coverage that these plans allow, which again on the regulatory side is what conservatives want to do, but the CBO making clear, some individuals just before they're eligible for Medicaid would possibly lose coverage or be priced out altogether. So, there are a lot of problems with this report, Anderson, and it obviously throws a bill that Senate leaders that still want to try and finish by the end of this week in major flux.
COOPER: Yes, what's the reaction been on Capitol Hill?
MATTINGLY: Not great. And, look, I talked about Senator Susan Collins. You mentioned Susan Collins.
I want to read a series of tweets that she put out after she sort of digested the CBO report. She says: I want to work with my GOP and Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in the ACA. CBO analysis shows the Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on MTP. That means motion to proceed. CBO says 22 million people will lose insurance. Medicaid cuts hurt the most vulnerable Americans. Access to health care in rural areas threatened.
Senate bill doesn't fix ACA problems for rural Maine. Our hospitals are already struggling. One in five Mainers are on Medicaid.
So, on the top line, her insistence that she will vote no on what's known as the motion to proceed, essentially the ability to move forward on this Senate bill, a vote we're expecting as soon as tomorrow or on Wednesday is severely problematic. She now becomes the third Republican senator to say they won't even vote to get to the votes on the bill itself. So, that throws kind of a wrinkle into the process.
But also if you think about what Senator Dean Heller of Nevada said Friday, in a press conference, if you think about what Senator Rand Paul in the opposite side of the ideological spectrum has been saying now for weeks and then you put into context what Senator Collins said in those tweets, they are almost systematically taking apart piece by piece by piece very central components of this bill saying they are not good enough, they need major changes. Do they have the time to try and get these senators back in the fold by the time this week is out?
That is an open question right now, Anderson. They still want to get a vote by the end of this week, but there's no question at all, there is a lot of work to do and the CBO report certainly didn't help.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much for the update.
The White House tonight put out a statement sharply critical of the CBO. It reads, in part, the CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health care legislation will impact insurance coverage.
I want to bring in our panel, Van Jones, Scott Jennings, Gloria Borger and Maggie Haberman.
[20:05:02] Gloria, I mean, the big headline here, the 22 million more people being left uninsured by 2026 if the bill passes. I mean, is that too much for some Republicans to swallow?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you haven't heard Republicans come out and say, gee, the CBO report is so great. I think I'm going to throw my support behind the bill.
It obviously makes them nervous and it also shows that in ten years, you're going to have 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees, and you saw the tweet from Susan Collins where she's worried about that in the state of Maine. This affects older people. It affects lower income people.
And I think that what you see here are Republicans getting more and more nervous about voting for this bill. And, you know, I spoke with one senator today who said look, why are we in such a rush to do this? And we know that Mitch McConnell wants to get this done before the recess, so we don't go home to angry constituents.
But this senator said to me, you know what, I actually think I need to hear from my constituents.
COOPER: Hmm, Maggie, what is the rush?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think Gloria is exactly right in terms of the position that senators are finding themselves in. The rush comes from the fact that as time drags on, as we know with this type of legislation, if you look at where things are and how hard sit to get one vote that we're talking about from those three moderate senators or those possibly movable senators, the longer things go, the harder it becomes. And so, this is why you see Senate majority leadership trying to shove this through.
And it's also what the White House would like to see. The White House has made the calculation that Republicans have campaigned for several cycles on repealing Obamacare. They now have control of both houses of Congress. They have legislation with which to do it.
But, you know, make no mistake: it is very difficult to take away an entitlement program. And that is what you are seeing here. I'm using the word "entitlement" in quotes, but it is very difficult to take something away from someone and explain it to them as anything other than that. And that's what these senators are facing during the recess.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Scott, there are six senators who are no votes right now. Senator Lindsey Graham said, if you're on the fence, this score is not going to push you towards the bill. Others are saying the CBO is not reliable.
Is he right, though? I mean, does this score keep a no or on the fence from voting for this bill?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASST. TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, the score may lay out some places where negotiations could take place this week. I mean, I'm looking at this from a conservative Republican perspective that ran on, you know, repealing and replacing Obamacare.
We said these things during elections and campaigns and we said we wanted to cut premiums. This CBO score says it does.
We said we want to cut the deficit. The CBO score says it does.
We said we want to cut taxes. The CBO says it does, as well.
So, actually, I think there are some things in here you can hang your hat on, and as was pointed out in the report, there's room to negotiate now. If you worried about the opioid issue, if you're worried about Medicaid, McConnell now has some room to run this week in terms of negotiating with the individual senators.
So, I think that it was -- it was not unexpected that the CBO score would set off a round of handwringing. But there's room to negotiate, and I really hope Republicans remember what we ran on, which is cut taxes, cut the deficit, cut premiums, and the bill right now under the current framework does that.
COOPER: Van, what about that? I mean, to the point this is what the Republicans ran out? I mean, president did say he's not going to cut Medicaid, but, you know, is this what Republicans ran on?
VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think it's what Donald Trump ran on. Part of the thing I think goes wrong is we talk about this in a partisan prism. It's Republican thing, a Democratic thing, this (INAUDIBLE). This is not going to be a Republican policy. It's not going to be a
Democratic policy. It's going to be the American policy when it comes to health care.
And what we're going to be saying is, if you are poor, and you get sick, we just don't care that much about you. That is a fundamental message from this bill. And it's basically says we're going to give huge tax breaks to rich people and the savings are mainly going to come from taking health care, taking doctors away from poor babies.
Now, I don't understand why a President Trump, who ran on such a populist agenda, who said he wasn't going to do anything bad to Medicaid, he was going to look out for everybody, is now letting this sort of stuff go through under his name. But Donald Trump is betraying his base and his promises with this bill.
COOPER: Scott -- I mean, the president said that the House bill was, quote, mean and that bill left, according to the CBO, 23 million more people uninsured, just one million more than the Senate's version. Again, you can say the CBO is not accurate. But if the president believed that version was mean, how is this not?
JENNINGS: Well, it's one thing to say the CBO is not accurate, and it may or may not be here. They do have a history of inaccuracy.
But let's pretend for a minute they're 100 percent right. There's some percentage of this 22 million people that would have never gotten coverage in the first place had the government not force them to do it under penalty of law. And that includes people who bought private plans that wouldn't have otherwise bought them, and that include some people who signed up for Medicaid that might not have otherwise signed up unless it was not forced upon them by the government.
[20:10:09] So, that is absolutely a fact that we have to deal with here. There are some people in this country that just wouldn't want to buy health insurance. And so, you can call it mean, and if that's what the president said, and I know that's what he said he said. But again, there's a group of people in this country that it's not being mean to because they wouldn't have bought it in the first place.
JONES: But, Anderson, those same people, if they then -- were the moocher caucus, we're moochers, we're not going to buy this stuff. If they got in trouble, they slipped on a banana peel, they go into the emergency room and we all pay for those people.
So, one of the great things about Obamacare was, you just can't be a moocher in the system. You have to pay in if you want to pull out. And so, now, the Republicans have become the pro-moocher party. They love the fact that you got a bunch of people that want to be free riders in the system.
I don't understand -- the Republican Party has literally flipped upside down under Trump. It makes no sense at all.
BORGER: You know, to Maggie's --
COOPER: Scott --
JENNINGS: Under Van's argument -- under van's argument, Anderson, he is assuming that every single person who signed up actually paid their premiums. It is absolutely true. A bunch of people signed up and never paid in. So, you can pretend like there's no, what you call moochers on the system right now, but a whole bunch of people that signed up and count in the numbers today, but they never paid their premiums after they signed up.
COOPER: Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: No, I just want to add to Maggie's good point earlier, what you are doing here, whether people paid their premium or didn't pay their premium, they believe they had health insurance. And whether they, Medicaid expansion gave them health insurance or not, and what you are asking members of Congress to do is to take something away. And that's very difficult. Once people have it, they don't want to get rid of it, which is why we call these things entitlement programs.
On top of that, you add in the fact that the major stakeholders, the American Medical Association, the Hospital Association, the AARP, they are all opposed to this. And they can go out and campaign against it.
And I think it makes it very difficult for a Republican senator, no matter how conservative and what your argument is, or if you are Susan Collins in the state of Maine, to go to your older voters and your more low income voters and say, we're taking away health care.
HABERMAN: That's also -- an additional point I would make to what Gloria is saying, is that you have a president who has been, as he often is, he treats everything like it's an open-ended negotiation. So, he has been on very sides of his own bill, essentially. It is my bill, it's not my bill, he didn't call it mean, he did call it mean.
You're asking members of Congress to go out and now essentially campaign on and risk, you know, campaigning for 2018 on votes over these bills where there's going to be audio of the president saying on FOX News, yes, you know, Obama stole my term, that this was mean. That's going to be run against a ton of people who vote for this and that is a calculation for a lot of these senators and members of Congress.
COOPER: You know, to that point, Scott, I want to play what Van mentioned about then-candidate's Trump on the campaign trail about Medicaid. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can't do that.
Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.
I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.
I'm going to save your Medicare.
We're going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Scott, is he breaking that promise?
JENNINGS: Well, the bill says we're going to spend $500 billion on Medicaid by 2027. Today, I think we spent $389 billion. So, there's actually more spending on Medicaid.
One thing that we're viewing this bill through the prism of is -- we're cutting, we're taking away. But maybe we ought to be viewing this through the prism of, we overextended ourselves, we promised something that we can't afford and now, we're having to do reforms to bring it in alignment with what we can actually deliver.
Another issue that we're not talking about inside of Medicaid is this -- under the current Medicaid system, you get more reimbursement for covering able-bodied people than you do for disabled people. And one thing is true, right now, under the way Medicaid currently works, it is disadvantaging people who have disabilities in favor of people on the reimbursement rates who are able-bodied.
Some reform is necessary to save Medicaid for the people who actually need it the most.
COOPER: Yes, but -- he did say there would be no cuts and we're talking about $700 million of cuts.
Van, go ahead.
JONES: Well, I agree -- look, I agree that there are all kinds of ways we can improve our system, but to play this kind of fuzzy math game where you say, look, we're spending a whole bunch of money, so everything's good -- I think we're spending too much money on the health care system because I think we have too many big private insurance companies that are ripping us off.
There are other solutions, like single-payer. There are other countries that do a better job.
I'm all for reform.
[20:15:01] What I'm not for is giving massive tax breaks, massive giveaways to rich people and then throwing poor people under the bus. And you guys are going have to deal with the fact that a lot of people right now, they voted for Trump, because they said he's going to protect them and he was going to take cares of everybody and he said he's going to bring the premiums down.
The premiums that are coming down are coming down because you're going to be paying less for way crappier coverage. That's not what people wanted. And so, listen, we are now in a situation where the reformers, who have good ideas, are being drowned out by the people who are just hard core against programs to help poor people and it's going to come back to bite you guys.
COOPER: All right. We've got to take a break here. We have a lot more breaking news to talk about in the Russia probe, involving former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. According to "The Washington Post," the FBI has questioned him extensively. The question, of course, is why. I'll talk to the reporter who broke the story.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. As we said at the top of the broadcast, it involves Carter Page. We've had him on the program. It's safe to say the conversation was as interesting as it was at times baffling.
Page, as you know, was on candidate Trump's national security advisory team, but seems to have very little actual contact with him. In fact, it seems he may have never met President Trump or even candidate Trump.
However, "The Washington Post" is reporting he's had plenty of contact now with the FBI.
[20:20:01] Joining us now is Devlin Barrett, who's got the byline on this story.
So, you just reported that Carter Page, the one-time foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, has been interviewed several times by the FBI.
Do we know what they were talking to him about and how detailed it got?
DEVLIN BARRETT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it got very detailed, as has been described to us, and it lasted for a sum total of ten hours. Now, that's spread out over five separate meetings. But that's pretty extensive questioning.
You know, a lot of lawyers would certainly be surprised to hear that the questioning went on that long. And we know -- we know they talked about, for example, some of the allegations in the dossier that everyone has been a bit obsessed with over the last, you know, six months.
Page's position is pretty straightforward. He denies the accusations that are made against him in the dossier and more generally, he denies that he was any kind of conduit between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
COOPER: And Page confirmed to you that the interviews had, in, taken place. What else he did say?
BARRETT: That's right. I mean, he basically it was interesting because he did these interviews with the FBI, without a lawyer. And, you know, a lot of lawyers would sort of shudder at that, frankly, because it is a crime to lie to the FBI. And I asked him about that, and he basically said, look, I'm telling the truth, I've been telling the truth this whole time.
So, I'm not, frankly, his words, obviously, he just expressed that he wasn't concerned about any sort of legal jeopardy for him, because in his mind, the facts will bear out his version of events.
COOPER: Devlin, if you could, stay with us, I want to bring back in Gloria Borger and also Maggie Haberman, both have done extensive reporting on the Russia investigation.
Maggie, as always, I mean, difficult to gauge what Carter Page or anything he's telling to the FBI should worry the Trump administration.
What do you make of this?
HABERMAN: I mean, I would trust Devlin's reporting always and I assume that he was questioned extensively, but I don't know exactly what Carter Page knows and what he can provide them.
I watched his interview with you, you know, several weeks back and it was mystifying, in terms of what he was actually even trying to communicate. He did a couple of other TV interviews around that time.
You know, the Trump campaign did name him, did identify him as somebody working with them during the campaign and when the investigation kind of kicked off, they distanced themselves. I have no indication that he had any interaction whatsoever with President Trump, but he is certainly become somebody that authorities are interested in questioning. And I think it adds to the drip, drip nature of what we're seeing with this probe.
COOPER: Gloria, I interviewed, to Maggie's point, Carter Page back in March about his role with the role, or lack of role, and if he actually advised candidate Trump. I just want to play some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did you ever brief Donald Trump as a candidate or as a president-elect?
CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: President Trump said it absolutely, 110 percent accurate. I never briefed him, and in reality --
COOPER: Did you ever meet him?
PAGE: I never shook his hand. I've been in, you know, many rallies with him, from Arizona to North Dakota to many in New York --
PAGE: Rallies. You know, which is meetings, you know?
COOPER: So, hundreds of thousands of people who have been to rallies -- PAGE: Not hundreds. I mean, not -- you know, I've been in smaller
crowd he's meeting --
COOPER: No, no -- I'm saying, the hundreds of tens of thousands of people who have been to Donald Trump rallies, can they say they've been in meetings with Donald Trump?
PAGE: Been in smaller ones, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, it does -- it's very possible, Gloria, that, you know, Carter Page maybe was just kind of -- he was named, at one point, when Donald Trump needed to name some foreign policy people, but it doesn't seem like he really had much of a role, I think he attended one dinner or something, not that the president was even there, for other people sort of associated with the campaign.
And maybe he sort of talked up his credentials in Moscow, when he was there in front of reporters by saying he'd been in meetings with the president, but his definition of meetings are rallies that, you know, thousands and thousands of people attended.
BORGER: Well, you know, it's very clear from your interview and from watching Carter Page in other interviews and listening to him that he wasn't a confidant of Donald Trump. He didn't advise him, ever, one- on-one on foreign policy.
And, so, it's interesting that the FBI, as Devlin reports, is spending so much time talking to him.
So, I bet what they're looking at is what his relationship with the Russians was and whether the Russians thought that he would be more of a conduit than he actually was. And, you know, maybe they, you know, maybe they took a look at him, said, oh, he's on this list and we've known him over the years, and we've -- have a relationship with him and maybe he could be helpful to us with Donald Trump at some point in the future.
I mean, I don't know, Devlin, whether that's what you think the FBI might be interested in, but it seems to me that his relationship with the Russians would be a lot of interest.
BARRETT: Well --
COOPER: And, Devlin, in your article, I mean, to Carter Page, seemed happy with the end result of these interviews.
[20:25:06] I mean, he said to you, I believe, that he, you know, restored his faith in some of the people in the FBI.
BARRETT: Right. Right. And I think that's -- you know, that's how he approaches this whole issue. He feels that he's being smeared publicly and he feels like he can explain himself perfectly adequately. So, in his mind, there's nothing to worry about. And just to Gloria's point, I think that's exactly right. You have to
remember that Carter Page is sort of one of the first investigative issues in this whole Russia question, going back to the summer. So, he's one of the people that the FBI is interested in first and he is also one of the -- we've reported previously that there was a FISA warrant, intelligent surveillance warrant out on his communications precisely because of what Gloria mentioned, which was this concern that he may, essentially, be in regular contact with Russian officials who are maybe steering him in some way, or manipulating him in some way.
All of which he denies, by the way, but that was the concern, and I think, frankly, the questioning in March shows it was still a concern then.
COOPER: Interesting. Thanks to everybody.
Coming up, the White House saying another "Washington Post" article makes it clear there was no collusion between Russia and the president and his associates, and that the Obama administration knew that there was no collusion. To put it bluntly, though, that's not actually what the article says at all. We're keeping them honest on that, and another strange press briefing, next.
COOPER: Well, another day, another mystery surrounding the White House press briefing. Once again, for reasons that are not at all clear, today's briefing was off-camera. There is audio of it, audio which includes Jim Acosta trying to ask why the cameras were turned off. That was one remarkable thing about the briefing. The other was Sean Spicer attempting to answer questions about the president's latest tweet storm.
Jim Acosta joins me now with that. So what was the interaction personally you had with Sean Spicer?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was simple. We once again got our non-answers from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer off camera today. This was another restriction that was placed on us by the White House. And unfortunately, we all went along with it. Here's one example of -- one exchange where I tried to ask Sean Spicer to turn the cameras back on or at least allows us to turn it back -- cameras back on and here's what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Sean, can you answer whether the President still believes the question --
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no camera on, Jim.
ACOSTA: Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean? Why don't we turn the cameras on? SPICER: Jen.
ACOSTA: Why don't we turn the cameras on?
SPICER: I'm sorry that you have to do. Jen.
ACOSTA: Why not turn the cameras on, Sean? They're in the room. The lights are on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: There was another exchange later on in the press briefing, Anderson, when we tried again. And as a matter of fact, during that exchange, Sean Spicer ignored my question about why the cameras were off, but Trey Yingst reporter with a conservative outlet, OANN, went ahead and asked Sean Spicer the same question, and Sean Spicer said, well, basically we're going to have days where we have the cameras on and where we don't have the cameras on. But if you go back and look at the last several gaggles and briefings here at the White House, Anderson, they have nearly all been off camera. And so the question becomes, is this part of a new normal here at the White House where essentially our press freedoms are being taken away, to have these taxpayers fund, spokes people for the President of the United States answer our questions in front of the cameras.
COOPER: The President took to Twitter to criticize former President Obama for his response to the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
COOPER: I want to read some of those. "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good. The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!"
What did the White House have to say about all that?
ACOSTA: Well, the White House was asked about some of this today, and there was one interesting exchange that occurred during the briefing where Spicer was reminded that it was during the campaign where then candidate Trump invited the Russians to hack into hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server and find the so-called missing Hillary Clinton e-mails. Sean Spicer said, well, that was a joke, and that was exactly what we were told by the campaign at that time during the election last July, I believe it was.
But one thing we should point out about these tweets from the President, Anderson. One is, the President is alleging that former President Obama was somehow colluding with the Russians because he did "nothing" after finding out about the Russian meddling in the election. That simply not the case, President Obama confronted Russian President Vladamir Putin at a G20 Summit in September of last year. So to say he did nothing is inaccurate, even though there are some Democrats, like the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who said, you know, the President -- former President Obama should have done more. But it's just actually inaccurate to say that former President Obama did nothing about this.
The another thing about this, Anderson, is that, this is another attempt by the President, by this White House to shift the story on the Russia investigation to say it's somehow President Obama's fault, is just another example of this White House trying to escape accountability on a very important question. Anderson?
COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta, keeping them honest. Thank you very much. Now we're keeping them honest on one other point that Spicer made in today's off camera briefing. He said this about an article in "The Washington Post." Spicer said, "If you believe the story that is written, talking about The Washington Post story, 'that means from August to November 8, two things. One, that if you believe that then they did know about this and there are some serious questions about what they did or did not do in terms of acting. And the second is then pretty clear, they knew all along time that the Obama White House, that there was no collusion and this is very helpful to the President."
Now, we read "The Washington Post" article and did not get that at all from "The Washington Post" article in question. So we thought we would go to the guy who actually wrote the article, Washington Post Reporter Adam Entous joins me keep them honest.
Adam, what's your reaction to Sean Spicer saying that your story shows there was no collusion, and that the Obama administration knew that?
ADAM ENTOUS, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I'm not sure where he's drawing that conclusion from. That's something that we did not address in the story. And in fact, what really was going on was this compartmentalization took place within the U.S. government. When the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation, looking at possible coordination between the Russians and members of the Trump campaign, that was started in July before the intelligence arrives at the White House in either late July or the first few days of August, from the CIA, which pointed to Putin's direct involvement in ordering this operation.
[20:35:07] So there's no intelligence that's being received at that point by anyone in the administration about these contacts.
COOPER: Yeah because I mean, I reread your story from Friday and it -- to me I just could not find anything that was talking about collusion. I mean, there is a part in the story where you mention almost in passing the FBI investigation into context between the Russians and Trump associates but that's not what the story is about and that FBI investigation is obviously still ongoing. So the idea that somehow the White House uses your article to draw a conclusion, it just doesn't make sense. ENTOUS: Yeah. Not only that, we didn't put this in the story. But in the first few lines of the piece, we talked about a meeting that takes place at the White House in early August. And Comey is in attendance at this meeting, along with the President. But according to the people we spoke to in that meeting, Comey did not mention that there was an FBI investigation that had just been launched, looking into possible coordination between the Trump campaign officials and the Russians. So Comey actually was withholding that information from the Obama administration at that point. We learned that later on, around December, some information began to filter out. In part because Obama asked the intelligence community to go through all of their reports that had not been distributed. These are intelligence intercepts in particular, that were picked up by the National Security Agency.
So some of those, when they started to relook back through some of their previous intercepts, they began to see some information that was about some of these contacts. And so that's information that they only begin to learn about in December, which is around the same time frankly that we at "The Washington Post" and other newspapers, and at CNN were beginning to hear about the same things.
COOPER: This is a certain irony in Sean Spicer citing your article. Because obviously the President and Sean Spicer and his allies -- I mean they routinely slam "The Washington Post," New York Times CNN and others for stories that they don't like, especially stories that use anonymous sources. Here they are pointing to your story as some kind of vindication for the President inaccurately and your story does rely on anonymous sources.
ENTOUS: Right. I mean, Yeah. And, you know, they're obviously Trump said in some tweets that Obama was basically sitting on this and didn't respond. And he should have responded more aggressively. The irony of that is one of the reasons that Obama decides to not to respond more aggressively is concern that anything he did would be used by Trump when he was at that point a candidate to basically make the case that this election was rigged. That was part of the reason that Obama decided not to respond.
COOPER: Adam Entous, I appreciate you being here. Thanks.
ENTOUS: My pleasure.
COOPER: Well, coming up, with the current President now trying to blame the former President for not doing anything about the Russian meddling in the election, the web gets even more tangled. We'll try to sort it out with the former member of the Obama administration.
Also, we had the Supreme Court lets parts of the President's travel ban go into effect. We're going to hear full case -- they're going to hear the full case in a few months. We'll take a look exactly what it means for people trying to come to United States.
[20:41:24] One of the simplest questions of President Trump at the White House seems to have trouble giving a straight answer to is this, does the President believe that Russia interfered in the election? Reporters tried again today at the off camera White House briefing. Here's what Sean Spicer said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: He believes that Russia probably was involved, potentially, you know, some other countries as well could have been equally involved -- or could have been involved, not equally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So today the President seem to finally inch closer to what multiple agencies have confirmed. At least he used the term Russian meddling in a tweet. But as a report that came in a series of tweets they're calling that the President is now trying to blame the Obama administration for not doing anything about it, and repeating (inaudible) that there is collusion that deserves an apology. From whom he wants the apology, that's not clear.
Joining me now to find out -- talk about what the Obama administration actually did is the former Obama Administration Official Tony Blinken and CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen.
So Tony, "The Washington Post" article that we talked about in the previous segment quoted a former Senior Obama administration official who was involved in the Russia deliberations. And they said that it was "The hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend, I feel like we sort of choked." How does the Obama administration somehow absolve themselves from any blame for waiting until December before enacting punishment on Russia?
TONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE, OBAMA ADMIN: Well, we didn't wait, Anderson. First, couple things that are important, when this information first came to light late in the summer, we thought that the primary objective that Russia was pursuing was to actually hack into the elections and disrupt them, or at least create a lot of doubt within the American public about legitimacy of the elections. And so the first thing we did was to make sure that the elections systems themselves were properly defended and secured. We made a passive effort to do that.
And second, we also had to take into consideration what the Russians were trying to do and thinking how do we present this publicly? And we didn't want to play into Russia's hands by actually creating more of the perception of a problem than really existed. That would have actually been doing Russia's work for it. At the same time, President Obama directly confronted President Putin at the G20 Summit in September, warned him starkly to knock it off, and of course there was that extraordinary statement by the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of Homeland Security in early October, the very same day that the access Hollywood tapes came out and drowned out the warming they issued.
So there was a lot of action taken. And of course, at the same time we were doing that, Mr. Trump was calling on the Russians to hack more and to release more. So you've got to wonder exactly where his criticism is coming from now.
COOPER: Tony, in that Washington Post article, which, you know, interviewed according to "The Washington Post" I think two dozen or so or maybe like 22, I think, they said former officials and folks, if my memory serves me correct, anyway, it seem pretty well source that they seem to intimate that the White House, at that point, also believed that it was likely Hillary Clinton was going to get elected and that they could deal with it more after Hillary Clinton was elected, and that they didn't sort of want to upset or play into the notions that candidate Trump was saying about this being a rigged election.
BLINKEN: Well, look, we certainly didn't want to politicize things. And there was concern about being perceived as putting or thumbs on the scales. That's one of the reasons that we went very early on to Congress, to the leadership, including some republican leadership. We thought, if we could speak with one voice about this concern that would depoliticizing.
And we also needed cooperation from election officials throughout the states to make sure that the election systems themselves were secured. One of the things that was shocking and very, very dismaying and disappointing is that when we went to the Republican leadership on the Hill, John Brennan and others, the director of the CIA they believed or at least said they believed that we were actually politicizing things, that there wasn't a threat, and that they weren't going to join us in issuing a sort of joint statement. So that was very, very disappointing. I think it might have made a difference, had we all been able to get on the same page early on.
[20:45:16] COOPER: David, I mean President Trump is going after the Obama administration. The latest attacks this morning on Twitter. And he says, the real story is that President Obama did nothing after being informed in August about Russian meddling with four months, looking at Russia and did not want to "'rock the boat."' He didn't '"choke," he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good.
How -- I mean just from a political standpoint, how unprecedented is this as far as finger pointing toward a former president?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's been continuous, hasn't it? Going all the way back to how Obama bugged him and we found that wasn't true, Donald Trump said. Listen, Anderson, I think it's important to separate out, there are two different stories here, one, about President Obama, the other is about President Trump. I think it's a legitimate question of whether President Obama acted properly. You know, there are some Democrats, Adam Schiff going public saying he was too soft on the Russians. Tony makes a very strong argument the other way.
But that's very different from the question of what Donald Trump is doing and that the FBI is investigating. They're investigating not only was there meddling, but the second question about, was there collusion? And there's nothing in "The Washington Post" story, as you point out, that suggests that there was absence of collusion. It's just not conclusive on that point. But more importantly, what Donald Trump is doing is what we've seen him do before. And that is he discredits and diverts.
It's a clear strategy. He's discrediting the whole special counsel investigation and everything that's going on this issue. And he's also trying to divert attention away from the central questions, and that is whether his own team colluded, and we don't know that yet. We need to be cautious. But I think that President Trump is entirely misleading us once again about the nature of reality. I mean, he for months has said there was no meddling, nothing to be worried about, folks. And today he says crazy and says, look at all this meddling and Obama is responsible.
COOPER: Yeah. David Gergen, Tony Blinken, we'll have to leave it there.
More happening tonight, the Supreme Court allowing part of President Trump's travel ban to take effect temporarily. The Court will hear arguments in the case this fall. In the meantime, there are some confusion over who is allowed into the U.S. and who will be turned away? We'll sort out the details ahead.
[20:51:14] COOPER: A partial victory for President Trump. The Supreme Court today, the Supreme Court is allowing parts of the President's travel ban to go into effect. And we'll hear arguments on the case this fall. The ban as you know, is aim at six majority Muslim nations. However, with vague instruction from the court is unclear who exactly will be let in and who will be kept out. CNN Jessica Schneider joins us now with more. Jessica?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, part of the travel ban that will go into effect includes those foreign nationals from those six majority Muslim majority countries. So if those foreign nationals cannot prove that they have a bona fide connection to a person or any entity in this country, they can in fact still be banned.
However, foreign nationals who can prove a family connection here, who can prove that they've been admitted to university or have a job offer here, those people will be let in. So really the question amounts to, what exactly is the bona fide connection who will determine that? And will this in fact create some what of an onerous burden for immigration officials. That's something the Justice Clarence Thomas actually alluded to in his dissent saying that full travel ban should have gone into effect because it just creates too many difficult scenarios for immigration officials to figure out.
So the question now becomes, when does this going to effect? The Trump administration has said that 72 hours from the court's decision, it will in fact take effect. We're not exactly clear as to when exactly the clock began running. However, Anderson, the Department of Homeland Security says that they will be giving clear and adequate notice to all travelers when this does in fact go into effect, the portions of it that are allowed by the Supreme Court. Anderson?
COOPER: And this case, though, continues to the Supreme Court in the fall?
SCHNEIDER: Right. It does. So the Supreme Court said that yes, it can go into effect in part. However, the arguments on the merits of this case as to constitutionality, as to whether or not it complies with immigration law, those arguments will be next term. So the Supreme Court will hear this.
But some watchers, some Supreme Court watchers are wondering, will this case even have any effect considering that the executive order says that immigrants would be banned for 90 days. Refugees banned for 120 days. So the question is, that time will essentially have run by the time the Supreme Court will hear this case in the fall. So what exactly will the Supreme Court do, Anderson? Of course that remains to be seen as we approach October.
COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks for the update. A lot of discuss with CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Former Acting Solicitor General of the United States of United States Neal Katyal. He Represented Hawaii. One of the states challenging the President's travel ban.
Neal, what's your reaction to the Supreme Court not only agreeing to hear the case in fall, but also ruling the -- I mean, the foreign nationals, some foreign nationals covered by the executive order can in fact be prevented from entering the U.S.?
NEAL KATYAL, REPRESENTED HAWAII IN CHALLENGING TRAVEL BAN: Yeah, I was really surprised to hear President Trump declare a unanimous victory today, because in reality, he lost 6-3. The Supreme Court let stand the district court's injunction blocking major sections of both his travel ban and his refugee ban. And to be sure, they cut, you know, some of the technical stuff about non-connected U.S. persons, but they grabbing in the heart of the lawsuit that Hawaii has brought has been -- remained intact by the U.S. Supreme Court today. And we are very much looking forward to oral arguments in October.
COOPER: Jeff, is that how you see it?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Not really. I, you know, this has been an un-ending series of defeats for the President in the Lower Courts. And he did get all nine justices, liberals and conservatives alike, to let some of the travel ban, this executive order go into effect.
Neal is right that a lot of the individuals who brought these cases, the people who wanted their in-laws to be allowed in, the students, the business people with job offers, they are not covered by it. But, you know, this was a heck of a lot better than Donald Trump has been doing. And he has three justices who wanted to uphold the whole executive order. And who look like certain votes once the case comes to be argued in the fall. So, you know, I can understand, you know, why Neal says what he says, but I also think, you know, the President was right, that he did have a unanimous ruling on part of it in his favor.
[20:55:26] COOPER: Neal? KATYAL: Well, Jeff is certainly right that there was a kind of, you know, that the President won something today, unlike all of his times in the Lower Courts. I mean, that's such a low bar. I think the most important thing to understand is that, you know, it's -- I don't know of any president in U.S. history in the first 150 days has had this number of federal court injunctions then in injunction is been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. I mean, that you can look over the 200- plus years of American history, you won't find that.
And yes, Jeff is absolutely right. He got three justices. Three. It takes five to get a majority. He didn't get that. And, you know, I think that's a pretty telling sign what President Trump has done here is really aberrational.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, to your point, the court said that the travel ban could not be imposed on anybody who had a "credible" claim of a bona fide relationship with the person or entity in the United States students, someone who has a job offer or relatives here. But how is that actually going to be worked out? Just the -- I mean, is it -- it just seems like a difficult thing to kind of figure out for those who already have visas coming here.
TOOBIN: Well, it might be difficult at the margins. But I actually, you know, remember, immigration officials do this kind of thing for a living. They make value judgments about people's fitness to be in the United States. And it is not all that complicated to see if someone has been admitted to a university, who has a job offer, who has a close relative. I am sure there will be cases that wind up in court. But it is also true, I think, that the court gave reasonably clear instructions to the Lower Courts in how to determine who should get in and who shouldn't.
COOPER: Yeah. I mean Neal, the fact that the court allowed some parts of the ban to move forward, does that give you any indication about where this is headed when the Supreme Court hears the case in October?
KATYAL: I don't think it gives much of an indication with respect to that. I mean, what they left in and allow the President to do was just a very, very narrow slice. They rejected the Trump administration's request to limit the injunctions only to the individual plaintiffs. Instead, they said if there's someone like the individual plaintiffs, that's fine. Most notably, on the refugee part, they said you don't have to be a close relative or anything like that as long as you have a connection to an entity in the United States, that's enough.
And all the refugees in the pipeline right now do have that. Remember, this order is only supposed to last 120 days. All the folks, the refugees who are swept up by that order do have that the U.S. connection.
So, you know, at the margins, Jeff is right, there's going to a few people like tourists from Somalia and Yemen who have no connection to the United States. The order can go into effect with respect to them. I'm not sure if that's class of zero or one or something like that, but it certainly not something that the President is building as, oh, it's going to change the national security apparatus and keep the country safe and all that.
COOPER: Jeff, Neal, thanks very much.
KATYAL: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, more Republican voices weighing in against the GOP Senate Obamacare replacement. They will show you which moderate and conservatives are raising the objections and which are promising to act on that?