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Trump Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign With 1st Fundraiser; Senate Intelligence Committee Still Looking Into Collusion; Manafort Registers As Foreign Agent; Trump Promises "Great, Great Surprise" On Health Care; Roger Stone To Testify Behind Closed Doors Before House Intel Cmte; Obama Not Taking Trump's Bait; Iraqi Forces Close In On ISIS

Aired June 28, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The president is spending tonight at one of his properties outside the White House, which isn't new. He's guest of honor at the first fund-raiser of his 2020 election campaign which is unheard of. No president has ever done this so early. President George W. Bush and Pres. Obama each waited three years before kicking off their campaigns for a second term.

We'll talk about the ethics and legalities of the event which took place it at the president's hotel in Washington. We would bring you video of it but at the last minute the White House disinvited the president. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is outside the venue joins us now.

So president is still there. He was supposed to leave about half an hour ago. I assume he's raising a lot of money. How much are people paying for this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHIT HOUSE REPORTER: It's a very pricey event, Anderson, $35,000 a head. And they're expecting about 300 guests. An RNC spokesperson told us earlier they're expected to make $10 million here at the Trump hotel tonight.

COOPER: And those are protesters outside, that's what you're speaking over?

COLLINS: Yes, yes, excuse the noise. There's a guy to my left with two megaphones who is protesting Donald Trump outside of his own hotel here in Washington.

COOPER: Do we know how much of anything the Trump hotel is getting paid to host this event?

COLLINS: No. That's one thing we have not gotten answered today despite the fact we have made multiple requests. I made one recently even half an hour ago, and we still don't know who is paying for this event at the Trump hotel tonight. Is it the RNC who splitting the fund-raiser with the president? Is it the president's re-election campaign? Or did the hotel, you know, not charge them for this event? We haven't gotten an answer today.

COOPER: And the president actually filed his papers for re-election the day he was inaugurated.

COLLINS: Yes, he filed it hours after he was sworn in just blocks away on Capitol Hill. And now less than six months later here we are at his hotel holding his first re-election fund-raiser. This is not usual, because George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not hold their first re-election fund-raiser within two years of their presidency. But Donald Trump is getting a head start. But for Donald Trump, the campaign never really ended. He has held five rallies since he was sworn in all in states that he won. His campaign produced its first commercial in April and now tonight he's here. So for Donald Trump, this is business as usual.

COOPER: Did the White House give an explanation for disinviting the press?

COLLINS: No, we have not. Today the press -- when we started out this morning the press was not invited for this event. It was closed press. When Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about at the press briefing today, she said that the reason was because it was a political event and they were keeping that separate. After some prodding from the press they decided to invite a few pen and pad reporters and one camera. Well, then two hours later they got back to the press and said actually we've changed our mind. No press is allowed because of a logistical issue.

Now it's a little perplexing what that logistical issue could be because there are 300 people in that room right now, so surely they could have made room for a few reporters. And if they had planned in the beginning to allow the press in it wouldn't have been a last- minute issue. So there is no press in there listening to the president give remarks to some of his biggest donors right now.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate you battling the sound of someone with a megaphone right next to you. Thanks.

More now on the legal and ethical dimensions, joining us is Former George W. Bush White House Ethics Adviser Richard Painter, he currently teaches law at the University of Minnesota and he's vice chairman of watchdog group that's suing the president over the constitution's emoluments clause. Also with us, David Fahrenthold, who is the (INAUDIBLE) investigator reporter for the Washington Post, Former Obama White House Communications Director Jen Psaki and Jeffrey Lord, well, because of Ronald Reagan and it's a bit of Donald Trump.

So, Jeffrey, I mean the fact at the last minute the Trump campaign decided to bar the press from this event, is that a problem for you?

[21:05:01] JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No. And Anderson, this kind of thing is so incredibly common. When I knew what our segment was here I went back and took a look. President Obama, for example, met with all kinds of donors to his library in private, and they went out and raised money for it. If you remember his famous bitter clingers remark which was about Pennsylvania, which is why a lot of people in Pennsylvania remember it, is because somebody smuggled out a tape of it. The press was not invited. It was a fund-raiser (INAUDIBLE) in San Francisco.

And to be bipartisan about this, Pres. Bush 43 had his pioneers and rangers who raised all kinds of money. They did these kinds of things in private settings. There's absolutely nothing unusual about this. The only thing that's unusual is he's doing it so early. But frankly, Anderson, you and I and some of others spent a lot of time in 2015 and 2016 saying this has never been done before and Donald Trump is doing it. This is just one more thing.

COOPER: Jen, I mean does fit into a larger issue of transparency by the White House by extension now this campaign as well, do you see a problem with this? I mean as Jeff said, you know, Pres. Obama held fund-raisers without the press being present.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRE. OBAMA: Well, first of all he's referring to a fund-raiser back in 2007. I was on the campaign at that time and we actually did change our policy to allow reporters in. Sometimes it was (INAUDIBLE) that was a very small fund raiser. Oftentimes it was the larger pool.

And in the White House when it was a fund-raiser that was over 100 people, maybe even smaller than that, we always had a pool present.

So, actually that's not accurate. I think the thing -- the piece here is very -- that is very -- I was there, Jeffrey. The piece here that is very should be very concerning to Republicans is that Pres. Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. So it's not uncommon to fund- raise this early, Pres. Obama did fund-raisers in March of 2009 but they were for the DNC.

So if you are the RNC, the NRCC candidate, he's asking to vote for this -- the health care bill that's incredibly unpopular. You really want this money and you are wondering why he is raising money for his re-election campaign that's more than three and a half years away.

COOPER: David, I mean the event being held inside a Trump property that's also nothing new. President patronized a lot of Trump businesses, during the 2016 campaign as well -- that's actually the president leaving the Trump hotel -- now and during the campaign but pretty much every weekend he's at some sort of Trump business.

DAVID, FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: That's right. I mean the campaign experience is predictably relevant. Last year, during the campaign he held a lot of events at Trump properties and plowed a lot of money that people had given to his re-election campaign and turned that from campaign money into personal money, it's a money for his business. That seems to be what he's doing here tonight. He's charging somebody the RNC, the re-election campaign for the money.

Some of this money that's coming in from donors ends up in his pocket now his political campaign. He can get away with that during the (INAUDIBLE) donors, I guess that's fine. The really interesting thing to me is the way that he's shaping the Trump organization is changing. He's not running the Trump organization anymore but it's reorienting to sort of be about monetizing their connections to the president rather than what it was before which was monetizing golf courses, banquet halls. It's becoming much more of a business that sells a connection to a guy who is in power rather than what it was before. Tonight is a great example of that.

COOPER: Richard, do you have any ethical issues with what's going on tonight?

RICHARD W. PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYERS, GEORGE W. BUSH ADMIN: I certainly do. As an American and a Republican first I'm disgusted with this campaign finance system we have all these fund raisers. It's clearly a pay to play game and that's not going to stop until the Supreme Court overturns citizens united. We do something about that.

But then on top of that we have the fact that a president is starting so early in the process, so early in his term raising money for his campaign rather than focusing on the job of being president and then, furthermore, he's taking a cut himself because he owns the hotel where the fund-raiser is. And it's not the only big event at a hotel. There are lots of events at a hotel. Not political fund-raisers but trade associations and others that pay top dollar to (INAUDIBLE) ballrooms there, or have parties. Bringing people from the White House, from modern executive branch agencies, that's the go-to hotel in Washington now for anyone who wants to schmooze the Trump administration, that's a (INAUDIBLE) money to the president of the United States, two company that he owns in order to get access to his administration, and that's just flat out corrupt on top of the corruption that was at both political parties from campaign finance system.

I think the whole thing is disgusting and the American people are going to get fed up with both parties if they don't fix our government and get the corruption out.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean idea was draining the swamp is benefiting financial -- I mean we assume he's charging for this fund-raiser in the ballroom. We don't know because they won't give any comments yet on it, but assuming he is charging because he has charged for other events in the past, I mean -- to the point that was just made by Richard, is there anything --

LORD: You know.

COOPER: -- problematic about that?

LORD: Anderson, the thing that Richard -- and I'm not picking on Richard here because this is a common place assumption in the swamp having work there for a long time. They have a problem with something like this, but when it comes to political benefit, which often leads to monetary benefit, they have no problem with it.


PAINTER: -- big problem with that.

[21:10:23] LORD: You what? You do or do not?

PAINTER: I have a big problem with the political trading of campaign contributions for political favors from both political parties.

LORD: -- let me just say, and I should say before I started out, I meet then Gov. Bush long before he was governor, I think the world of him. I voted for him twice, but he used the Office of Governor of Texas to get elected president of the United States. He used all sorts of donors, all sorts of Texans who contributed money parlaying his political office into a larger office. And he is not alone. Every politician in America does this.

PAINTER: And let's fix it and get on it. We don't have to have a hotel on top of it.

LORD: -- in the financial aspect. We need to rein in the political aspect of it and nobody talks about it because everybody has got their hands in the pot.

PAINTER: Well, let's get them out of the pot. But we don't need the president sticking his hands in the pot twice, one for political contributions and second for his own hotel for the Trump organization.

LORD: -- Donald Trump is for George W. Bush and Barack Obama. That's all I want.

PAINTER: We don't need to talk about the past. We need to fix the future, and this is getting worse and worse and worse. And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just pointing fingers at Obama or Bush and that is not going to work for this president.


COOPER: Jeff, do you not see a difference with a president actually benefiting financially from a fund-raiser? I mean, personally benefiting for him and his family?

LORD: Well, Anderson, Barack Obama is just what signing a book contract for how many tens of millions of dollars because he was president of the United States? And I worked for Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan benefited from the same system. I mean, if we're going to have a revamp of the system, then let's be honest and say, what, that Hillary Clinton --


COOPER: But he -- that wasn't -- you can quibble with, you know, should the president write a book and make millions of dollars. But he's not doing it while he's president of the United States. Donald Trump is president of the United States and he's making money.

LORD: I want the same standard for everybody, everybody.


LORD: Did the Kennedy's make money from their various properties when John F. Kennedy was the president? The answer is yes.

PAINTER: Not off the presidency he did not. He did not have a so- called whither White House or several White House where people paid money to go to his place in Hyena sport. That is disgusting. He did not do that. Do not accuse Jack Kennedy of doing that.

LORD: -- money earned from the merchandise part, which is in the --

COOPER: All right.

LORD: -- Kennedy family, a big property that they made millions of dollars from. Are you kidding me?

PAINTER: He did not use the presidency to make money.

COOPER: Absolutely.

LORD: The fact that he was president attracted the money.

PAINTER: They had the money long before he was president. So did Donald Trump.

LORD: So did Donald Trump.

COOPER: All right.

PAINTER: And so did Donald Trump. But he is using the presidency to make money when he has the fund-raiser at his own hotel. There are dozens of hotels in town. He could have chosen other hotels. He should not have owned that hotel. It is against the terms of the GSA lease for him to be receiving money from that hotel. He doesn't need to do it.

COOPER: All right. We got to go. I appreciate the discussion. Thanks everyone.

Coming up next, the question of collusion with Russia and the president has claimed that he is totally cleared of it. We're going to hear with the Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has to say about the state of his investigation. Is there any there?

Later, what did the president mean when he promised a big surprise on health care? That and more when we continue.


[21:17:08] COOPER: The president really wastes an opportunity declaring he's been cleared of any collusion with Russia. If you dig a little deeper though, you find out that not so cut and dried.

Today, CNN's Manu Raju spoke with the Republican Senator Richard Burr, who is the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He asked him about collusion and whether his committee is cleared the president.

Manu, I understand one of the topics that came up in your conversation with Chairman Burr was about the question of collusion. What did he have to say?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, he said the issue was still on the table, something they have looked at as part of this investigation. He said that while there's public testimony that suggests that perhaps there was not collusion, that's something he is not ready to make a conclusion on quite yet.

And of course, that's much different than what the White House is saying. The White House is saying there's no collusion whatsoever. But the Chairman of the committee who said they interviewed more than 40 witnesses so far are just not there yet.

And one big reason why, Anderson, some of these big-name Trump associates have yet to come before the committee, perhaps when they talked to some of these people that who had these contacts with Russians and that to review this information, the records that they provide, they can reach a conclusion. But that question still an open at point in the investigation, Anderson.

COOPER: And the Chairman also said he also talks about the pace of their investigation.

RAJU: Yes, he did. He said they're moving very quickly. He said, he compared it to the House Committee that's moving in a much different pace saying that they actually believed, are very confident that they are getting the information that they are requesting. Here is what he said.


SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R) CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We're quite a bit ahead of where the Special Counsel's investigation is, we're quite to have a bit ahead of (INAUDIBLE) of the investigations. But, again, I see the Special Counsel on a different pathway. He's looking at criminality. And that's not just (INAUDIBLE) of the Senate investigation.


RAJU: So two important points there, him saying that they're not looking at criminality. The issue of obstruction of justice, something the Senate Intelligence Committee is almost steering clear of as the Special Counsel Bob Mueller is looking into that issue presumably from what we are hearing.

Now, also, he's say that he did talk to Bob Mueller about the investigation, something that he did have a conversation with earlier today. One thing after that conversation Burr telling reporters that he believes that they're going to get access to those memos that James Comey, the fired FBI director, wrote about his interactions with Pres. Trump, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks.

RAJU: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, another figure in the Russia probe took a step yesterday there could have be a lot about his ties with Moscow, if any, by way of Ukraine. Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman officially registered as a foreign agent late yesterday. And the documents could have a lot to say. They already speak to just how lucrative Manafort to Eastern European consulting business was.

Our Justice Correspondent Evan Perez joins us now with the latest. So, what are some of the details you've learned?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Paul Manafort's firm got paid $17 million between 2012 and 2014 for work it did on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in the Ukraine called the Party of Regions.

[21:20:08] Now, this filing was actually done to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is known as FARA. The document has also showed $3.9 million in travel and other type of expenses. And this includes $531,000 that was paid to Konstantin Kilimnik he was a Ukraine-based business associate of Manafort's. The Manafort filing is actually disclosed one meeting with one member of Congress Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California in March of 2013. It also shows that they paid him $1,000 contribution to that congressman. Now, Rohrabacher is actually known as a vocal advocate for closer ties to Russia, Anderson.

COOPER: Why wait until now to register? Is there any explanation?

PEREZ: Well, you know, so Manafort's work in Ukraine was under investigation by the Justice Department now for years, frankly. A lot of people who do this type of work never actually register as foreign agents because the law is so loosely enforced by the Justice Department. But a lot of this work is now getting more attention in the past year because Manafort became chairman of Donald Trump's campaign and the FBI began doing this investigation to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and particularly because if there was concern of any ordination between the Russian hacking efforts and the Trump campaign. So it's important to note that in completing this registration doesn't mean that Manafor is out of the woods. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now overseeing the broader Russia investigation and that includes any issues that Manafort may have with regards to his tax and business records, Anderson.

COOPER: What's Manafort have to say about it?

PEREZ: We'll, we did get a statement from Jason Maloney who is Manafort's spokesman and he says that Manafort is actually started this process in concert with the Justice Department's FARA unit in September before the outcome of the election and well before any formal investigation of the election interference began. They say that Paul Manafort's primary focus is always directed at the domestic Ukrainian political campaign work and that is reflected in this filing which was done on Tuesday, Anderson. COOPER: All right. Evan Perez, thanks very much continue to follow.

Coming up, the president promises a, "Great, great surprise" in the health care battle. That was after acknowledging getting the legislation from the Senate is very tough. Take a look at where it stands now, next.


[21:25:51] COOPER: When it comes to your health care, how you get care, when and if you get coverage and how you pay for it. A big surprise may be the last thing you want but that's what the president promised today. A big surprise, a great, great surprise, he said. It's the latest effort to make good on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare but is so far has been paid with misery and struggle. Jim Acosta has to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great to see you again.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After once promising Americans more winning than they could stand, Pres. Trump appeared to be bracing for a potential defeat on health care.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I think we're going to get at least very close and I think we're going to get it over the line.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One day after Senate Republicans delayed a vote on their Obamacare repeal bill, the president defended his work on the issue tweeting, "Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I'm not totally engaged in health care. Wrong, I know the subject well and I want victory for the U.S." One big problem the president conceded cobbling the plan that pleases both moderate and conservative Republican's (INAUDIBLE) really he encountered in a meeting with GOP senators.

TRUMP: It's very tough. Every state is different. Every senator is different. But I have to tell you the Republican senators had a really impressive meeting yesterday at the White House. We had close to 50 of them, 52, we need almost all of them.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But later in the day the president was ginning up some suspense on issue without elaborating.

TRUMP: We're going to have a big surprise with a great health-care package.

ACOSTA (voice-over): During the campaign then candidate Trump insisted repealing Obamacare would be simple.

TRUMP: You're going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost and it's going to be so easy.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Now fellow Republicans visiting the White House are noting their opposition right outside the west wing. GOV. PAUL LEPAGE, (R) MAINE: Because they go far enough to fix it. I'm on the conservative side of this bill and I think we're going to work together to make it better.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Sensing they have the upper hand Democrats are calling on the president to host both parties at the White House.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: President Trump, I challenge you to invite us, all 100 of us, Republican and Democrat, to Blair house, to discuss a new bipartisan way forward on health care in front of all the American people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked about that, the president did not knock down the idea.

TRUMP: We have to find out if he's serious. He hasn't been serious.


COOPER: Jim Acosta joins us now. This is not the first time the president alluded to some kind of surprise.

ACOSTA: That's right. You know, the president about six weeks ago suggested there were tapes of his conversations with the former FBI Director James Comey. No such tapes ever existed and the president finally admitted that he didn't have those recordings. And so, yes, we've been down this road before.

But Anderson, I've talked to some Republican sources tonight who said they don't know what the president means by the surprise. I have one White House official quip to me, well, if we told you what the surprise was, it wouldn't be a surprise anymore. So it does sort of feels like we're going down the same rabbit hole that we've been down before.

But at the same time, Anderson, I think there's a very cold reality facing Republicans in all of this. If you look at all of the polls that have come down today showing approval for this health care bill in the Senate being somewhere around 20 to 25 percent. There was a USA today, Suffolk University poll ahead of this, at 12 percent that is legislative dog food at this point. And it's tough when you have those kinds of numbers, Republican senators who may be up for re- election next year for them to swallow it.

It's going to be a tough road to hoe and the president and he's going to have to put his weight behind it and something that a lot of Republicans say he hasn't done up until this point, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, Jim thanks. With us now is Doug Heye, Jen Psaki and Matt Lewis.

Now, when the president of the United of the States promises a big surprise in health care, do you have a sense of what he's talking about or I mean do you think he actually does have a surprise or is he just, you know, you know, being optimistic that there is going to be some sort of resolution like there was with the House bill? MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: I don't think he has a surprise. I think that he senses that he might be losing the audience that people might give up hope that this is going to happen. He knows that he has to keep the media engaged. He has to keep the activists and even the U.S. senators believing that it's possible. That this -- they don't want like throw in the tub, believing it's possible that he has a rabbit in his hat or up his sleeve or whatever the expression is, that he might be able to pull off another miracle. He's done it before with the election, for example, nobody thought he could do it.

[21:30:05] So we always have to have in the back of our heads like I don't think there's a surprise but maybe he has something. And as long as we think maybe he has something, he keeps us in the game.

COOPER: Doug, is there a power to sort of positive thinking or positive statements like that?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STATEGIST: Well, I think there can be. The problem is we've seen so many of these from Trump. We've seen so many wait and sees where there's actually been nothing to see. And what we've learned so many times now is it's either like waiting to find out what's in Al Capone's vault or waiting for O.J. to find the killer. There's either nothing there or it's just not happening. And that's where so many Republicans on Capitol Hill are getting more and more frustrated.

I spoke to a Republican southern member about an hour ago who said that they keep seeing this bait and switch and wait and see politics from Trump that's really causing not a Trump fatigue but Trump exasperation. He needs to fix that and a legislative victory is a good way to do so.

COOPER: Jen, I mean the other part of this is when Republican senators go home for the July 4th recess they're asked what the big surprise the president is working on for health care, how do they respond?

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRES. OBAMA: Well, look, I think a number of them will respond. I hope it's a lot more money for Medicaid for my state, I hope it's money to address the opioid crisis. And the problem for Trump is he doesn't have that money to play with because the conservatives will never accept that.

So I think -- I don't think they play to Doug's point. I don't think they play into the surprise. I think a lot of Republican senators especially the vulnerable ones like Heller and Flake are very nervous about this bill and where it's going and what it means for their political prospects. And when you have governors in a lot of states who were very vocal as well, I think they have to go home to their states and say we're going to advocate for getting the money and the resources that's not in the current version of the Senate bill.

COOPER: Matt, to the extent that Pres. Trump is supposed to be the deal maker in chief, how much is that reputation taking a hit because of health care? I mean it was a battle in the House certainly. It seems like it might be even bigger battle in the Senate. LEWIS: Yes. Look, it's interesting that -- I think he sold him seven as the deal maker. This was going to be so easy to get things done. We are going to get so tired of winning. He really hasn't had that much to do with this health care bill.

So, look, I think that part of it is that you would expect a president if Ronald Reagan were newly elected and he was trying to pass his first landmark piece of legislation. The White House would be calling the shots and they would have a firm grasp on the policy. Donald Trump very early on out sourced this to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. I do think that the problems that they're facing are not necessarily Trump's problems. You know, I think reconciliation was probably the original sin trying to pass this through reconciliation. It creates a ton of problems including the fact that conservatives want to get rid of the basic architecture of Obamacare which can't be done through reconciliation.

But if Donald Trump actually had a vision for what he wanted that might -- things might have played out a little bit differently. He doesn't have a vision and he completely out sourced it and here we are.

COOPER: Doug, I want to play for you some of what you were talking about, the whole idea of the president promising in sort of teasing. Let's play this.


TRUMP: We're going to be announcing something I would say over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal.

We're going to do infrastructure very quickly. We've got the plan largely completed and we'll be filing over the next two or three weeks, maybe sooner.

We'll have some very pleasant surprises for you.

We're going to surprise you.

So she's going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks.

We'll going to be having a news conference in about two weeks to let everybody know how well we're doing.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST: You have people now down there searching?

TRUMP: Absolutely.

VIEIRA: I mean in Hawaii?

TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they're finding.


COOPER: How much -- I mean does it hurt the president's ability to get the rest of his agenda passed if he can't get this done?

HEYE: I think it's a big step backwards for the administration. And that's where, you know, let me take you back to when I worked in the House of Representatives for Eric Cantor. We struggled sometimes to move bills through the House. We couldn't get anything through in the Senate. Been over the past two years, we could pass things in the House and the Senate but the roadblock was in the White House. There's one dynamic that's new in Washington, D.C., right now. That's Donald Trump. It's up to Donald Trump to get this to the finish line but not just Trump alone. He may be the great deal maker. But he's also got a closer with Mike Pence who's known these senators, who's know these members of Congress for so many years that he can work with them to get it through.

Then the Gorsuch nomination was a really big win for Trump. But as we saw that was largely out sourced to the federalist society, Kelly Ayotte, Ron Bonjean, and Rob Collins. This is where Donald Trump and Mike Pence need to drive a win home. They're the only thing that's new in this town.

COOPER: Do you see it as possible still?

HEYE: I think it still is possible. If you go back to just several weeks ago, we had written off the House bill and they had come back and won the vote which the House had never done before. This is new territory, not great territory for the Senate. But if the house can do it, the Senate can as well.

[21:35:01] LEWIS: You know -- the only difference though the House, the one advantage they had in the House was saying the Senate will fix it. So let's just advance the bill. You don't really have that anymore.

HEYE: That's why it's up to Trump and Pence. Absolutely.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Thanks everybody.

Another Pres. Trump's associates will be testifying in Capitol Hill in the Russia probe. 360's Randi Kaye digs into Roger Stone's past when we return.


COOPER: One of Pres. Trump's oldest and most controversial associates is set to testify next month in the Russia probe. But before he was one of the president's trusted (INAUDIBLE), Roger Stone, had a long career as a political operative dating back to his work for another President, Richard Nixon. Randi Kaye tonight reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is the ultimate Washington insider who helped get this outside elected

ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I was like a jockey looking for a horse. You can't win the race if you don't have a horse. KAYE (voice-over): But long before Republican Strategist Roger Stone

ever met Donald Trump, he was advising another president caught up in controversy. Stone was such a fan of Richard Nixon's the former body builder had Nixon's face tattooed on his back. Stone could relate to Nixon's resilience.

MORGAN PEHME, CO-DIRECTOR/CO-PRODUCER, (GET ME ROGER STONE": Roger was the youngest person called before the Watergate grand jury. He was all of 19 at that time. He was a young, dirty trickster.

[21:39:59] KAYE (voice-over): Later Stone became regional political director for the then-governor Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential bid. By then, Stone had formed a lobbying group with Trump's future campaign manager, Paul Manafort, called Black Manafort and Stone.

By 1996, Stone was run out of D.C. and out of Republican politics. He and his wife had been exposed by "The National Enquirer" as swingers and frequent visitors to sex clubs.

PREHME: The swinger scandal that "The National Enquirer" exposed forced Roger into the shadows. He had to operate from the fringes particularly as the Republican Party moved farther to the evangelical right. A person like Roger was no longer palatable as an out front political consultant.

KAYE (voice-over): In 1999, Stone worked with Donald Trump as he weighed a bid on the reform party ticket.

In 2000, he helped George W. Bush take the White House by sending protesters to Florida to shut down the recount. Always looking to live up to his reputation as a dirty trickster, Stone takes credit for bringing down New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

(on camera): Stone was later accused of spreading false rumors about Pat Buchanan having an illegitimate child, which Stone denied. During campaign in 2016, Ted Cruz blamed him for planting the fake story that Cruz had had five extra marital affairs. Roger Stone also pushed the birther movement and painted Hillary Clinton as unwell.

STONE: Well, look, I don't know whether it's Parkinson's or epilepsy or a brain tumor.

KAYE (voice-over): During campaign in 2016, Stone was sometimes referred to as Trump's brain.

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Roger's, you know, relationship with Trump has been so interconnected that it's hard to define what's Roger and what's Donald. While it will be clearly a Trump presidency, I think it's influenced by a Stone philosophy.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite that, Trump says he fired Stone as his campaign adviser. Stone says he resigned. Though now Stone is once again in hot water for possible ties to Julian Assange after tweeting that John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chair, would have his time in the barrel. Podesta's campaign e-mails were leaked by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Stone told a reporter, "I do have a back-channel communication with Assange, because we have a good mutual friend." Still, Stone denied having any direct communications with Assange and denied leaking Podesta's e-mails.

But, now, Intel officials want to know if Roger Stone had advanced warning of the e-mails leak and perhaps the Russian hack during the 2016 campaign. The man whose motto is admit nothing, deny everything launched counterattack now, back in the spotlight again.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: All right. Joining me now is CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who has profile Roger Stone in the -- his fascinating piece for "The New Yorker."

Jeff, I mean, Roger Stone is a fascinating character. You -- as we're saying, you profiled him for "The New Yorker." I mean, he sort of thrives in a murkiness between fact and fiction.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, that's exactly right, Anderson. And, you know, he is an unusual figure in that in my experience he embellishes the bad things he's done, tries to make himself look worse rather than better which is different from how most people I've interviewed over the years.

COOPER: There's a quote from Donald Trump back in 2008 in your New Yorker profile of Stone and Trump at the time said Roger is a stone cold loser. But then obviously, Roger Stone was involved for a time in Donald Trump's campaign and they seem -- I mean, I don't know what their relationship is now.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think that's indicative of the very much up and down relationship that Trump and Stone have had over the years. Roger was involved in the 80s trying to get Trump to run for president, and each cycle has encouraged Trump to do that.

Once Trump actually did run for president, Roger was really sort of a peripheral figure in the Trump campaign. He never had an official position. He was very much aligned with Paul Manafort.

And so during the period when Cory Lewandowski was in charge of the campaign, Roger was very much on the out. So it's never been entirely clear to me how much Roger really was involved with Trump and how much he was simply claiming to be part of the inner circle of the campaign.

COOPER: I mean, you know, he said he wanted to testify in public. It's -- you know, just from a journalistic standpoint, it would have been fascinating to see him testify because, you know, to actually see him under oath and have what he says under oath compared to things he had said publicly or on, you know, on Twitter.

[21:45:12] TOOBIN: That's right. And -- but that is characteristic of Roger's bravado that he would want to testify in public. And even though he brags about, you know, his nefarious deeds, one thing he's he been very clear on is that he was not involved in any sort of connection to the Russians. He -- that's what he said. I mean, obviously that's an area that's being investigated.

And the real question that I think the committee is going to want to answer is how did he apparently have advanced knowledge of the WikiLeaks disclosures about the Democrats and John Podesta if he didn't have some sort of contact with WikiLeaks or the Russians who were apparently doing the hacking. That's where Roger's role is at its most mysterious and I think that's where the committee is going to be looking for clarification.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Jeff, thanks.


COOPER: Well, coming up, how a vacationing former President Obama is dealing with needling from the current president.


[21:50:07] COOPER: Former President Obama is been on vacation a lot since the current president took office. He's going white water rafting in Bali this week, and still unclear if choppy waters back in Washington.

President Trump is continuing his line of attacks on the former president blaming Mr. Obama for Russia's meddling, accusing him of everything from negligence to collusion. So far, Pres. Obama has not been taking the bait. Athena Jones tonight has more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Online and on the air --

TRUMP: I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election. And he did nothing about it.


JONES (voice-over): President Trump making it abundantly clear that more than five months after replacing Pres. Obama, his predecessor remains top of mind.

TRUMP: We've been talking about this for a long time.

JONES (voice-over): Not content with simply undoing parts of Obama's legacy, like pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal and the Paris Climate Accord, Trump is increasingly using Obama as a political foil, blaming him for not doing enough to stop Russian meddling in last year's election despite calling such meddling a phony story for months.

TRUMP: The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even, you know, before the election. And I hardly see it. JONES (voice-over): President Trump even accusing Pres. Obama of criminal acts. From collusion and obstruction, to spying on him in Trump Tower, a baseless claim he made in March that was widely refuted. That was also when Trump called Obama a bad or sick guy, a level of public nastiness not seen in modern presidential history.

PROF. TIMOTHY NAFTALI, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: These personalized attacks are unusual and unfortunate and sets a very bad president.

JONES (voice-over): Trump has a long history of antagonizing Obama, as one of the loudest proponents of the false conspiracy theory that America's first black president wasn't born in America.

TRUMP: Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?

JONES (voice-over): A campaign that eventually led Obama to release his birth certificate to the press. He later had some fun with the issue at Trump's expense.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No one is happier, no one is prouder, to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?

JONES (voice-over): And while 44 has mostly pulled his punches since 45 took office, he made his opinion known on the campaign trail last year.

OBAMA: Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president. No, I'm not joking. You laugh. I'm not joking.

JONES (voice-over): And he infuriated Trump when he told former aide David Axelrod --

OBAMA: I'm confident that if I -- if I'd run again, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people.

If you succeed, then the country succeeds.

JONES (voice-over): After November's election, the pair made nice in an Oval Office meeting that they have not spoken since inauguration day.

TRUMP: He was very nice to any with words, but -- and when I was with him, but after that, there has been no relationship.

JONES (voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Up next, we take you inside the fight for the Iraqi city of Mosul. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is there as Iraqi forces close in on the last remaining ISIS fighters.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [21:56:50] COOPER: Five weeks ago, Pres. Trump promised to hold a press conference to detail his strategy against ISIS in the next two weeks. That deadline came and went.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are closing in on the terror group in the city of Mosul. Tonight, we take you deep inside the war-torn city. We'll look at the battle and destruction street by street, block by block. Our Nick Paton Walsh is there on the front lines. And we want to warn you, some of what you see you may find disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The end is near for ISIS. You can just feel it. And the normal life just bringing back out of these pancake buildings, yet turn one corner in Mosul toward its old city and the nihilism at the very final chapter in this war emerges.

Liberation leaves little for life behind. Bodies still where they fell in the scorching heat. Senior commanders take us in, in the calm before their final storm to wipe ISIS off the map.

How many more days do you think ISIS have in Mosul and in Iraq?


WALSH: Three, two?

Brigadier General Alzadi (ph) beckons us on to see that prize. These are the last rooftops ISIS own in Mosul. Barely hundreds of meters to go now in the distant left, the riverbank marking where ISIS's world ends and in the dust, the ruins of the sacred Al-Omari mosque, ISIS blew it up rather than let it to be captured. A terrifying moment for the civilians held underground as human shields here.

Well, that mosque has always been a distant target for Iraqi security forces, but now they literally are able to see it from neighboring rooftops.

U.S. trained Major Salam took us into Mosul eight months ago, now he's here to see the end.

We're in the beginning and now we're at the end of it.


WALSH: And so what are we seeing on the screen?



SALAM: -- that they're trying to reckon enemy, where they're located and try to find to know where is the civilian also. Nobody hear, exactly, how many civilian there are. They're located in so many different houses, many families in one house. WALSH: Are you getting enough help from the Americans now? Because when we first met eight months ago you won't --

SALAM: More than enough. I am so happy for all the support from the Israeli (ph) side, from American side.

WALSH: There is the occasion stench of death here from the bodies of ISIS fighters like this one below me here left behind. And also at times an eerie silence when the gunfire subsides.

But it's in these dense streets that you can really feel how hard the fight against ISIS has been in this final moments, but also, too, how few meters they are away from kicking the terrorist group out of Mosul, but also out of Iraq entirely.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.


COOPER: On the topic of Iraq, its citizens will not be affected when Pres. Trump's travel ban goes back into effect, which could happen as early tomorrow after the Supreme Court ruled to partially reinstate it. Iraq was removed from the original list of majority Muslim nations in the second version of the ban.

However, those from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, who lack a bona fide relationship with an American, could be barred from entering the U.S. starting tomorrow. And that could mean to some difficulties initially at American airports as custom officials try to figure out who has a legitimate claim to entry and who does not. We'll be covering it all.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. See you again tomorrow night. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon.