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White House Reveals Second, Undisclosed Trump-Putin Talk; Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; McConnell Plans Obamacare Repeal Vote for Early Next Week. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

John McCain compares the Russia story to a centipede. There's always another shoe to drop. Well, this evening, one more piece of footgear goes Trump in the night. One more piece of breaking news and this one's brought a surprise and kind of a mystery.

It's also another case of the White House disregarding advice today from the normally friendly "Wall Street Journal" editorial page to disclose everything Russia related now all at once. Instead, we got confirmation of a second meeting at the G20 Summit in Hamburg between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, a meeting undisclosed by the White House until now.

More from CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto who joins us now.

What have you learned about this second meeting?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, as you say, another undisclosed meeting and not disclosed out of their good graces but under questioning by journalists, and the White House forced to say this really happened because there were other witnesses in the room. This was at the G20 Summit. It was at a dinner where only the leaders, the G20 leaders were present.

President Trump got up from his table, went down, sat next to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and crucially, without a U.S. translator, only the Russian translator. Why is that key? Because there's no other witness to the conversation other than the Russian president and his translator.

And this, of course, follows the previous meeting between Putin and Trump, the announced meeting between the two of them where you only had the secretary state not only, but there were other witnesses to that conversation who could tell us what happened who didn't really have skin in the game. And that's the key with these meetings. And that's why often, not oftentimes, but by policy normally, you have either career State Department people or something that give you a record of what happened there. This is what we don't have.

COOPER: Was it just the three of them or were there other leaders around?

SCIUTTO: Well, it's a dinner party, right?


SCIUTTO: Multiple tables. But as to who was privy to the conversation, it was just Putin, Trump, and the Russian translator. And this was not -- this was not an insignificant pull-aside as often happens at major events like this. You shake hands, you speak for five minutes. By the White House's own description, it lasted for one hour.

COOPER: One hour at that -- so it wasn't just like hey, how do you like the steak?

SCIUTTO: You go welcome, so nice to see you again. This is an hour, which allows time for significant conversation.

Now, the White House is explaining as this. They're saying that this is part of the president's duties. They released a statement just a short time ago saying that this is not unusual. It's not merely perfectly normal, as they said. It is part of a president's duties to interact with world leaders.

That is true. But let's look at the context here. One, this is a world leader who leads a country that interfered in the election, one. Two, this is one in which there is no other record, as I said earlier, of that conversation which is important. Three, it was not disclosed previously.

And four, I might just note this. Yes, there are pull-asides at a number of meetings like this, but when you have a pull-aside with an adversary, that is significant. Think of all the coverage we gave when President Obama was thinking about a pull aside with the Iranian President Rouhani, which led eventually to an Iranian nuclear deal.

I mean, when you have countries with so many conflicting interests, when you sit down for an hour without anyone else present, that is a conversation of consequence. And this is something that the White House did not reveal tonight until they were pressured to reveal.

COOPER: Right. Even though they revealed -- you know, they talked about the other meeting, it would have been very easy for them to say, oh, yes, this was another meeting also.

SCIUTTO: Multiple opportunities.

COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you.

Late this evening, I spoke with Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.


COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, do you have any understanding why we're just hearing about this other meeting that the president of the United States had with Vladimir Putin? SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There seems to

be a pattern of reckless or willful concealment of contacts with the Russians involving Jared Kushner, other members of the Trump family, and now the president of the United States. And maybe the president was embarrassed or in some way reluctant to disclose the fact that this meeting occurred with him alone with a Russian interpreter and Vladimir Putin. We still have no idea what was discussed exactly. And this kind of private meeting is virtually unprecedented in the diplomatic world.

COOPER: I also just don't understand how the White House wouldn't think that this story would get out at some point and at least just get ahead of it or just explain -- do you think the White House owes the American people or at least a readout of the meeting, especially if this meeting did in fact last a full hour as is being reported?

BLUMENTHAL: A full hour meeting certainly merits a readout. The question is whether in fact the White House has enough background or material for a readout because the only source for that readout would be the president himself and he may not remember everything that was said.

[20:05:05] Which is why staff always accompanies a meeting -- president going to a meeting of such importance. And it's kind of breaking one of the first rules of diplomatic contact.

COOPER: Today, the Judiciary Committee was given the green light by Mueller to have Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort testify in an open hearing. Do you know what the timetable for those testimonies are? And what you need answered? What you want answered?

BLUMENTHAL: My hope is that Kushner and Trump and Manafort will all come before the committee. In fact, every one of those eight people in that meeting should be called to testify both for the committee and I hope it will be soon, probably this month or September, but the sooner, the better. And it has to be under oath. And full and fair open opportunity for questioning in public.

And I think the American public deserves not only an explanation of the latest disclosed meeting between Putin and Trump, the president, but also a full explanation for everybody being in this room because, clearly, the prelude to this meeting indicated criminal intent of a conspiracy to receive information from the Russians, to collude with the Russians in interfering with our elections and possibly other kinds of cyber hacking and criminal activity.

COOPER: Also today, we're learning the identity of the eighth person who attended the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer. He works for the Russian oligarch who initiated the meeting. His lawyer claims he attended the meeting only to serve as an interpreter.

Do you buy that? Because there was an actual interpreter there, and I'm wondering how his attendance factors into your thinking about this meeting. BLUMENTHAL: One of the questions here is why that eighth person was

at the meeting when he knew apparently that there would be an interpreter there, maybe only an hour beforehand?

But the mystery of this meeting is in fact, why there was such concealment of every one of the individuals, why continuing concealment, willful or reckless, a pattern of obfuscation and even obstruction in connection with the meeting and what other meetings there were. Those kinds of questions are at the core of what needs to be disclosed at the judiciary committee hearing.

And I hope it will be soon but this eighth individual who represented a family with potential financial or other ties to the Russians is part of this pattern of concealment beginning in June, but going through even the period before and after the election and the inauguration.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, what's so strange, I talked to the attorney for these two Russians for the father and son early last week. And he was claiming at that time that the Russian attorney was just an acquaintance of the pop star's son and that it was sort of that -- he was acting as a go between to help set up this meeting to make the introduction, but that they had no real relationship.

Now, not only does it seem like that's not the case but somebody who actually represents that family was in the meeting. So, certainly a lot of questions still to be answered.

BLUMENTHAL: There are more questions than answers right now. And they need to be answered by the special counsel, Bob Mueller, and he is now aware of this meeting and investigating it. That's how we learned, in fact, of the identity of this eighth person because his lawyer came forward and said, we've been dealing with Mr. Mueller.

COOPER: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thanks for your time.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.


COOPER: Let's get perspective now from CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, former CIA Russia analyst, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former deputy assistant defense secretary, Michael Carpenter.

Michael, you made what I believe to be the first public mention of this other meeting on the program last night. It was the first we had heard about it. What's your understanding of what occurred?

MICHAEL CARPENTER, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I mean, there's only three people that know what was said in that meeting and those are Presidents Trump, Putin and the Russian interpreter. But the fact that it took so long, this was a one-hour meeting, I mean, during my diplomatic career, I've seen plenty of five-minute one-on-ones. But to have a meeting of this length and not to be transparent about it, I mean, that is of concern. And then obviously, this provides a golden opportunity for President

Putin to try to press President Trump on his agenda and to spin things in his way. So, we know during the bilateral meeting they talked about a cyber unit which at first President Trump said it was a great idea and apparently it wasn't such a great idea a little bit later. We don't know what was said.

So, there could have been all kinds of things proposed by the Russian side that would have been deleterious to our interests. But that the president may not have been briefed up on. So, this is a big deal actually.

[20:10:00] COOPER: Yes. I mean, David, the White House is saying it's not merely perfectly normal, it is part of the president's duties to the interact with world leaders, adding that it was, quote, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. I mean, if it was an hour long, as is being reported, that doesn't seem like a brief conversation and there's no official government record and that they wouldn't even mention it.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, it is the president's duty to circulate and to meet foreign leaders in an informal, pull-aside way as Jim Sciutto called it. But it's highly inappropriate for a president to sit-down in a way Donald Trump did with Putin. If the president had brought his own interpreter so there were two people there, one an American, one a Russian interpreting, you had a record on the American side, and if the White House then disclosed it, I think we would be saluting the president for having yet another hour with Putin.

But the way in which he did it, leaving the Russian interpreter which -- I can't remember a time when a new American president first meeting has allowed the interpreter from the other side, from the Russian side to be the only person in the room. There have been times in the past when American -- Vernon Walters, for example, earned the trust of both sides and it was a rare thing that the Russians allowed to have Vernon Walters interpret for both sides in presidential meetings.

But it just does not happen. It is abnormal and it is not appropriate for his duty, and then not to disclose it only arouses further suspicions about what the hell is Donald Trump's obsession with Vladimir Putin, and why won't he be straightforward about it.

COOPER: And, David, is it normal not to have readout of it, I mean, for the American people?

GERGEN: Yes, it's abnormal.

Well, Anderson, if they want to have a very private conversation with interpreters there with the appropriate people in the room, that is -- that's regularly done. And you don't have to have a readout of everything. You know, sometimes, diplomacy is best conducted behind doors, but it -- you protect yourself as president by having other people with you who are from the American side and are looking after our interests and not letting the Russians take advantage of a new president. COOPER: Yet, Rolf, I mean, just from an intelligence standpoint, does

it concern you that there's an hour long conversation with -- again with just this Russian interpreter?

ROLF MOWATT-LARSSEN, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I would be concerned, Anderson, in normal times, but we're living in anything but normal times. For the first time at least in my lifetime, we're enduring I would say a counterintelligence investigation launched by former FBI director about the president and his own people. So, I say that's what makes this definitely a newsworthy item and it's worth asking those questions that you've been posing to this panel.

COOPER: I want to bring in Pam Brown here.

In terms of the meeting between Trump Jr. and the Russians at Trump Tower, as mentioned earlier, the eighth person in the room has now been identified. What's the latest on that?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's been identified as Ike Kaveladze and he was born in the Soviet Union. He goes way back with Aras Agalarov, back to 1999. He worked for his company. Of course, Aras Agalarov is the Russian oligarch, a business associate of Donald Trump.

And, so in fact, Anderson, he appeared in a video exclusively obtained by CNN standing there in the background right next to the Donald Trump as well as the Agalarovs from back in 2013. Here's that video. You can see him there in the background. This is in Las Vegas, 2013.

And then fast forward three years from that moment and he's been sort of thrust into the spotlight as an attendee of that meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr. and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, as well as Rob Goldstone, of course, the publicist representing Emin Agalarov who promised incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

Now, Kaveladze's attorney, Scott Balber, says that his client attended that meeting just as a representative of the Agalarov family and thought that he would be needed as a translator. He says he has never had involvement with the Russian government.

COOPER: But this guy was caught up in a money laundering case, is that right?

BROWN: He was. So, back in 2000, his actions as the head of a Delaware company called International Business Creations caught the attention of congressional investigators looking at how Russians and other foreigner for that matter were able to launder large amounts of money through U.S. banks.

So, there was a government accountability report. It's been requested by Congress. That report concluded that it was relatively easy for these foreigners to use shell companies to open U.S. bank accounts and route hidden money through the American financial system.

And Kaveladze was one of the people looked at as part of the investigation. We should point out, Anderson, he wasn't charged and his attorney again says there was no indication his client did anything wrong here.

COOPER: Rolf, how does -- you know, you've talked about the drip, drip of this and it's sort of at this point become kind of a cliche of it. And you've said that it's important to understand the context of each drip. The fact that now here we have another person who works for this Russian family who earlier last week we were told by, you know, the attorney for that family that they weren't involved in this at all, that this Russian lawyer was just an acquaintance of the younger son.

[20:15:02] Now, it seems like they wanted a representative in that actual meeting.

MOWATT-LARSSEN: That's right, Anderson. I think the ninth person in the room you might say has been reported today actually is the Mueller investigation in terms of looking at all of this body of information and developing the context which for me boils down to three critical questions. Why wasn't this meeting reported and the full scope of the meeting with all the participants reported at the time? And then after the fact that it was leaked originally, then why is haven't all the people been named and so we can get to the bottom of it, particularly if there's nothing to this, which has been asserted by the Trump team.

Second question is what happened to this information that was purportedly provided at the meeting? Has that been turned over to the FBI? And if why not? Particularly, I'm referring here to the reported information that was passed on alleged Clinton donors, why would not have been turned over?

And the third question is who really back-stopped this meeting? In other words, in Russia itself, can we determine the identity of the person presumably in the Kremlin that sent Veselnitskaya to this meeting and set all these people for meeting, for who actually provided the cover and back-stopping and the information for this meeting? These will be the kind of questions that the Mueller investigation has to come to terms with as they look into this meeting.

COOPER: Yes, a lot still not known. I want to thank everybody.

A lot more ahead tonight, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joins us on the implosion of Senate GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and the president's efforts to shift the blame.

Later, ever wonder what the take no prisoner Steve Bannon is like behind closed doors? Hear from the author of remarkable new up-close look at the president's chief strategist.


[20:20:12] COOPER: Well, it's a busy night. There's more breaking news. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he'll schedule a vote

early next week on repealing but not replacing what's known as the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Right now, it lacks support even within the GOP and it follows last night's stinging defeat on legislation to repeal and replace -- the defeat which led the president of the United States to say this today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.


COOPER: It's not exactly Harry Truman's the buck stops here, nor John F. Kennedy's right observation as he accept the responsibility that said victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan. It's not even utter words of tough love to his delta house frat brother Flounder, you F'ed up, you trusted us. Not even that.

Instead, just this.


TRUMP: We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.


COOPER: Well, the president clearly wanted people to believe this is not his problem, not even a Republican problem. According to the president, the problem is that no Democrats came on board. It's if the president has forgotten one of his most frequently repeated promises throughout the election.


TRUMP: Real change begins immediately with the repeal and replacing of the disaster known as Obamacare.

Repeal it and replace.

Repeal and replace.

Repeal and replace.

Obamacare, we're going to repeal it, we're going to replace it, we're going to get something done. Repeal it, replace it, get something great.

We're going to kill it. Let it die. Let it die. We're going to come up with something much, much better.

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


COOPER: Now, though, the president says he favors repealing Obamacare without a replacement which I just mentioned the Senate will vote on next week. That's a big change from the campaign. Back then, he took pains to reassure those who might depend on the Obamacare provisions they would not be left out in the cold, no repeal without a replacement, something better.


TRUMP: We're going to do it simultaneously. It will be just fine. We're not going to have a two-day period and we're not going to have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we'll know. And it will be great health care for much less money.


COOPER: Well, candidate Trump had good reason to promise not to simply try for straight repeal. He knew or his advisers did about the Congressional Budget Office's grim assessment of the repeal bill Republicans had passed the year before, which President Obama vetoed. The CBO's estimated that 32 million people would lose coverage under that. Now, you can agree or disagree with the assessment as many Republicans have. You can say it's only 3.2 million or even 320,000 people losing coverage.

But now that he's president, Donald Trump is responsible for what happens to each and every one, which he seemed to recognize back when he was trying to win their votes. It seems less concerned now that he says he's not going to own it, which is strange because when the House version passed this spring, the president was eager to own that one. He threw a big victory celebration there in the Rose Garden. He also, as you know, and makes a big production out of signing ceremonies and presidential proclamations. He's not going to own it now he says now.

But four years ago as a citizen, he said something very different indeed. In a tweet back in 2013, Donald Trump gave this piece of leadership wisdom: Whatever happens, you're responsible. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible.

What a difference four years can make.

Joining us now from the place where the buck is supposed to stop, CNN's Sara Murray.

What is I'm wondering the mood in the White House tonight about this latest health care fumble?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, certainly, this is a defeat that took them by surprise. The president was having dinner here just last night with senators about health care. There are some in the White House who feel dejected by this. But overall, their backs have been up today. They have been insisting

that this is not on them. As you saw the president says, that this is on the Senate, that this is their failure. And the president seems content to sit by and watch Obamacare collapse.

COOPER: Is there any sense that the going forward, the president will be more engaged than he has been in the repeal and replace process?

MURRAY: I think one of the things to keep in mind about this process is the president has wide latitude to sell this bill. He did not use the bully pulpit to do so. He did not make the case to the American public that this was a good bill for them, that this was a good deal for them, this was a good deal for their health insurance.

He also didn't do all that much arm-twisting behind the scenes. Now, today, they laid the blame at the feet of the Democrats. Sara Huckabee Sanders at the podium off camera suggested that they might be willing to have some kind of bipartisan fix.

But we can have not seen that kind of outreach from the White House. And as you are pointing out, this does raise the question of how the president sees his role in all of this. It's one thing if you are a candidate to say, we will stand by and watch this collapse.

But the reality is, he is the president now. And people who voted for him are dealing with increasing premiums under former President Obama's health care bill.

[20:25:05] They're dealing with insurers who are pulling out of the markets because of issues with former President Obama's health care bill and the reason they voted for President Trump, the reason they elected him was to solve this problem. Not to point his finger at the Democrats and so far, from this White House, we don't have a good sense of where this goes next. What the president would do next to fulfill his promise to voters, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, thanks very much.

More now on how, first, plan B, and now apparently plan C collapsed.

CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill tonight where Republicans are scrambling to figure out what comes next.

So, what do you know about this vote that Majority Leader McConnell is now promising?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's scheduled to happen sometime next week. Leader McConnell said that on the floor of the Senate late this afternoon. And earlier in the day, he promised that even though they are facing yet another setback, he is committed to finding a way forward on health care. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I believe we must continue to push forward now. I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful. That doesn't mean we should give up. We will now try a different way to bring the American people relief from Obamacare. I think we owe them at least that much.


NOBLES: But the problem that McConnell has right now, Anderson, is that the votes just simply aren't there. There are now at least four Republican senators who say they will not vote for a straight repeal. Even so, McConnell seems very content to put this bill on the floor for an up or down vote at least to start the debate process. If that happens, unless something dramatic changes between now and the beginning of next week, it will likely fail.

COOPER: What about support to make this a bipartisan effort? Does there seem much appetite at that from either side of the aisle?

NOBLES: Well, everybody talks about it, Anderson, but nobody seems to be having any kind of substantive conversations leading in that direction. Today, Chuck Schumer said at that time door is open. He's, of course, the Senate minority leader, that he wants to deal with Republicans.

But there's a fundamental problem here. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and Democrats do not. If they can't get past that impasse, there is no way that Democrats are going to work with Republicans and right now, it seems as though both sides are unwilling to give on that very central and important point.

COOPER: Yes. Ryan, thanks very much.

Up next, I'm going to speak to Senator Bernie Sanders for his reaction to the Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare without an immediate replacement. The senator is next.


[20:31:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Before the break CNN's Sara Murray and Ryan Nobles laid out how the Senate GOP repeal and replace Obama bill died today and how Senate Majority Leader McConnell is hoping a bill to simply repeal the law might pass sometime early next week. Surely before air I spoke with someone who has been a critic of some aspects of Obamacare, and sharper critic of Republican plans to get rid of it, Vermont Senator and former Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

COOPER: Senator Sanders. President Trump is saying his plan is to let Obamacare fail in his words and that the Democrats will then come back to him. What do you think of that?

BERNIE SANDERS, (D) SENATOR, VERMONT: Well, I think it's really beyond belief that we have a President of the United States who is working over time to sabotage the healthcare that millions of Americans receive. And it's in the reason that this Republican bill failed is because it is something that was a disaster that the American people overwhelmingly did not want. You don't throw 22 million people off of health insurance. Raise premiums for older workers, defund Planned Parenthood, cut Medicaid by $800 billion and give huge tax breaks to large corporations of wealthy people.

That's the Republican plan. And instead oaf working to figure out a way as to how we can lower the cost of healthcare in American and provide healthcare to all people, take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower the cost of prescription drugs, you got president who says, OK, let me do nothing. Let me sabotage the current system and so what if millions of people suffer. That's really awful.

COOPER: Will Obamacare fail if Congress or the President don't take steps to fix it?

SANDERS: No. I don't think it will fail. But I think millions of people will be in impacted with higher premiums and some cases. And this is not me calling to this. This is what the insurance companies are saying. If we don't put money into the cost sharing program, if you don't enforce the individual mandate, substantial sums of money are not come into the system, which make it harder for the insurance company. That's not me. That's what the insurance companies are saying.

COOPER: So at this point, do you think, you the Democrats as lawmakers have a responsibility to try to work with Republicans to fix the current system?

SANDERS: The answer is absolutely. And that is why there are many of us who are talking about ways that we can significantly improve the Affordable Care Act. Anderson, I don't think you can hear anybody here say that the Affordable Care Act is perfect and doesn't need improvement. Deductibles are too high, co-payments are too high, premiums are too high, prescription drug prices are off the wall.

So what we need to do is at least three things. Number one, I happen to believe we need a public option in every state in the country. If people don't get the private insurance coverage that they like or that they need, we should have a public option available.

Number two, I believe that we should lower Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. And number three, I think we should substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing pharmacists and distributors to import lower cost drugs from Canada and other countries, and also to have medicare negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical industry.

Those are three ways that we can improve the Affordable Care Act. Longer term, and I'm going to introduce legislation to do this, we have to join the rest of the industrialized world. And guarantee healthcare to all people as a right to a much more cost effective and simple system that I call Medicare for all.

COOPER: But, you know, I mean you know, in order to do anything you're going to need Republican support. I want to play what Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today about working with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK SCHEMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: If Republicans abandon cuts to Medicaid, abandon tax breaks for the wealthy, and agree to go through the regular order. The door to by partisanship is open right now. Republicans only need to walk through it.


[20:35:11] COOPER: A lot of Republicans are saying that doesn't sound like by partisan ship. That sounds like setting conditions in order to get something done.

SANDERS: Anderson, the last poll that I saw on the Republican proposal had the support of 12 percent of the American people. The American people do not agree about throwing millions off of Medicaid in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy. I think all that Senator Schemer is saying is, hey stop talking about tax breaks for the rich, stop talking about massive cuts to Medicaid. Let's see how we can improve the Affordable Care Act, not destroy it. I think that is a reasonable starting point for any serious discussion.

COOPER: I mean, the other thing the President said today was that he is not going to own it. The Republicans are not going to own it. I mean, Democrats you could say have engaged in their fair share, the blame game. Shouldn't people's healthcare take precedent over at this point score in political points?

SANDERS: Well, I certainly think that it should. But let us remember the political reality of today. Last I heard the President was a Republican, the Republicans had majority in the House and Senate. They control the United States government.

COOPER: Do they own the --

SANDERS: Those are just silly words. And you're right. We should not be worried about who is owning it. It's enough blame to go around on both sides.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Well, when we come back more on the collapse of the Senate GOP healthcare plan and who the President says is to blame, and later fascinating details on Steve Bannon's role in the White House and then President Trump's political rise, details not publicly known until now.


[20:40:39] COOPER: Before the break you heard Senator Sanders thoughts on the healthcare quandary that Republicans find themselves and you've already heard what the President now wants to do in his thoughts about where responsibility lies, as well as Senator Mitch McConnell plan to bring his latest plan to a vote early next week. But right now that effort is expected to fail because they don't have the support. So all in all bad day for the White House. I want to bring in the panel, David Gergen, Ken Cuccinelli, Maggie Haberman, Matt Lewis, and Kirsten Powers.

David, this notion of repeal without replacement is it realistic, or Republicans just hoping to be seen trying to do all they can before letting it go?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's more of an act of symbolism, Anderson. They don't have the votes. Interesting they have the four senators who oppose this replacement -- repeal and replace -- or repeal and delay. Three of them are women. And they've say, stand firmly on this. I just want to say earlier in the program the white House was instructing us on some of the duties of a President, especially overseas.

It's really kind of this White House faced up to duties of the President here at home. And that is to be president of all the people, not just your base. That is to put the interest of the country first and not your own politics. And that is to stand up like a man and admit when you have come short and go back and try again.

From my perspective on this issue when the President says he's just going to let Obamacare fail. What that means is he is going to let a lot of Americans suffer. From increased premiums as the month's ahead if the federal government does not try to fix some of its flaws that are in Obamacare. And that ought to be a by partisan effort. If he fails to do that it will be a dereliction of duty.

COOPER: You actually believe dereliction of duty. I mean, it's as far from true man saying the bad stuff here as you can get?

GERGEN: Absolutely. Absolutely, I just can't emphasize enough when the election is over you become president of all the people. Yes, you've won with your base and that's sort of thing. But you become President of all of people. And your first -- your moral responsibility is look after the welfare of people. Not to use their suffering as a political lever. That's what I think is a dereliction of duty. I think he's responsibility to all the people and the flaws in Obamacare do need to be fixed and fixed on a bipartisan basis. The premiums are going up today into a significant degree because the federal government is not paying the subsidies. That to keep -- to protect the Americans who can't afford healthcare and that's what needs to be fixed, fixed now. He cannot afford to go through this and say let people suffer. And it will help the politics later on. That's what I consider dereliction of duty.

COOPER: Maggie, I spoke to Governor Kasich earlier today. And we're going to play that any minute on the next hour. He told me things that the President doesn't really mean he'd let Obamacare fail. That he's not hung up on some idealogical fix that if Congress was able to give him something to stabilize the insurance market to bring down cost. That whatever form it took he would sign it. Do you think he's right there?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think John Kasich observed a lot about President Trump when he ran against him. And I think that, that is true. You are not dealing with a President who has a fixed clear ideology. He was raced in New York City where big government has generally been the rule of the day. And I think that he observed a lot of that. I mean, you have heard Donald Trump say various things about healthcare in this country but he has -- at several points suggested that the government has an obligation to take care of people.

And so there is discord, no, listening to him and say we're, you know, we're going to let it die, let it fail. You know, these are real people, millions of them. Who are still on Obamacare -- covered under Obamacare. And this is why when you implement an entitlement program it's pretty hard to then remove it. And he is discovering that.

COOPER: Ken, I mean, you're the President of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is a grow vowing to recruit, fund challengers to run against a Republican senator who oppose repeal. So to Republican senator Shelly, you know, Shelley Moore Capito who said that I did not come to Washington to hurt people. Talking about why he's opposed to just repealing. To her you say what?

KENNETH CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all the way the President is describing his view of this, I think he's consistent with the way he talks. And it's consistent with a long term benefit for America. You heard Bernie Sanders admit that the amounts of Americans have to pay under Obamacare is too high. The deductibles are too high. What people are failing to do including on this show is point to the culprit. Obamacare.

[20:45:02] And you don't start putting band aids. This is the Washington problem. You don't fix a failure. You get rid of a failure for the benefit of the most Americans possible. And that's the path we're on with repeal. It doesn't have to be immediate. It can be repeal by a date certain and put the pressure on. It will get suddenly very bipartisan about what other alternatives might take place once this complete failure of American healthcare that we call Obamacare has been stripped aside. And a lot of these Republicans have already voted to do this in 2015, including some of the people you're hearing say, well, no, we're not going to -- we're not going to do this now. So, you were lying then instead of lie now.

And the last point, this is a real Mitch McConnell failure. He's been caught lying to members of his own caucus about not really shrinking Medicaid. And let's call Medicaid what it is, its welfare. Welfare exploded under Obamacare. And that is a central point that Republicans for a long time have agreed to contain and shrink.

COOPER: Matt, I mean does the President have a role in this? I mean, is this a presidential failure, or that kind of thing, is it Mitch McConnell failure?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think that it was the success has many fathers kind of thing. Failure has a lot of fathers there too. Look, I mean, you know, obviously it's hard once an entitlement is granted. Rolling it back is really difficult.

I don't blame Donald Trump in the sense that a lot of people are saying he should have been out there selling it more. Well, look, yes, it might have been nice. Clearly though, I think the problem is it's not that he should have been out there lobbying people more. Instead fundamentally, this was not an after thought but they thought they could just do this quick. This was never a priority for Donald Trump or Republicans.

COOPER: Right. He talked about it a lot on the campaign trail. I mean, it seemed like his priority.

LEWIS: He talked about it a lot but it wasn't -- this-- he outsourced this. This is not a -- none of the plans, the House plan, the Senate plan, none of them were Trumpian in his world view about, you know, taking care of everybody. And they weren't populous. This was Paul Ryan mainly and Mitch McConnell. And I think he basically outsourced it. It never came from him. And I think that's the fundamental set.

COOPER: Well then -- I mean, Kirsten should he ever run by making his promises -- are we going to repeal him or replace him? Are we going to do it instantly and it's there's going to be an immediate switch over if he's not going to, you know--

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I mean he should have known what was going on. And I do think he was probably misled by -- you know, I think he was misled by some people around him, like Reince Priebus, for example, should have known better -- Tom Price should have known better. There are people who probably should have told him that actually this can't be done in a week, it can't be right when you come into office because we really don't have a plan that we have consensus around. There are too many different ideas within the Republican caucus.

It's a highly dysfunctional caucus. It's -- And it's not -- you have people who are absolutely not willing to compromise. It's not, you know, so when you have the Democrats who had a lot of disagreements but Nancy Pelosi was able to sort of bring people around. And on their disagreements, some, you know, people would give and take. On the Republican side, this doesn't happen. You have people like Ryan Paul just saying like, either you do it my way or I'm not going to support you. And how do you get anything done with a caucus like that.

LEWIS: The conservatives had, Anderson, seven years to come up with a coherent policy that would work and alternative to replace Obamacare. They did not do the work. And Donald Trump, he did outsource it to them. They weren't ready. Remember, he just ran for president sort of a year or two earlier. They had all this time.

COOPER: And they didn't -- yes, Ken go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, Anderson. Look, let's -- we're talking about promises. I'm hearing about promises. I agree with Maggie that if a bill hit the president's desk on this subject, I would be shocked if he didn't sign it. Whether I like it or not, he'd sign it. And that's what he promised to do by and large.

Republicans in Congress for seven years have pounded the podium, have, you know, tossed the red meat and made a promise to the American people, not just their base, to the American people that they would repeal Obamacare. That was what they stood for in these elections in 2010 when they took over the House in 2014, when they took over the Senate. And you heard Donald Trump saying in 2016 as he won the presidency, this is a promise made and it needs to be a promise kept.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody.

Up next, the inside story of the powerful partnership of President Trump and Steve Bannon that's the focus of a really interesting new book. I'll talk to the author, Joshua Green, joins us. He sure has incredible details he uncovered from the campaign trail involving Chris Christie's phone on election nights, Steve Bannon's philosophy and how the whole idea of a wall on the border was actually born.


[20:53:24] COOPER: Tonight we're learning new details from the President's Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who holds a lot of influence over the White House agenda. Bannon, like the President, has his own share of critics. But no one dispute that President's former campaign manager did help him get a victory, overseeing one of the biggest political upsets ever. Bannon's own path to the White House is pretty incredible. The two men are the focus of a new book that reveals a lot of interesting details from the campaign trail and even on election night. The book is Devil's Bargain, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and The Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: So the narrative that surrounds Bannon that he is, I think on the cover of Time, he was called the great manipulator, that he's sort of, you know, running the show there. How does that jibe with reality?

JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN": Bannon had a lot of influence. I don't think he was ever the puppet master that he was portrayed as being what he really was, was Trump's ideologue in his pit bull but I do think he was a little bit in that portrayal and it enraged Trump obviously because eventually it cost Bannon to seat on the National Security Council. He'd going to kind of put in the dog house. It didn't really get let out until a month ago --

COOPER: And that was because of the public perception?

GREEN: Everybody -- yes, Trump does not want to have anyone co- starring alongside him in his presidency, particularly not someone who seen as pulling Trump's puppet strings.

COOPER: Right. It's like when he said to Comey that meeting, oh, you're more famous than me. That's sort of seems like --

GREEN: Exactly. That's like warning, that's like a warning.

COOPER: He said it once to Jared Kushner but Jared Kushner seems to have survived so far.

GREEN: Well, you know, he's married into the family. A little harder to get rid of.

[20:55:00] COOPER: But I mean the political pairing of this two is fascinating, you really go into a lot, in the book I mean they're from such kind of different backgrounds.

GREEN: They are and yet they have a lot of similarities. Bannon was a Wall Street deal guy. He was a Hollywood movie maker. You know, he understood how to talk to big shot moguls. If you're a women's studies major at Wellesley, Steve Bannon is not going to be your cup of tea. But if you're a big shot New York developer like Trump is, then Steve Bannon speaks your language and he had experience around people like Ted Turner and Michael Ovitz. So he knew how to talk to Trump when he met him back in 2011, 2012 in a way that other people around Trump in the political world didn't.

COOPER: Unlike Trump, I mean he has a very firm political philosophy. He has a view of the world and you write also it just in terms of his views -- he focuses on narrative truth rather than factual truth.

GREEN: There's a great quote from one of Bannon's ex-employees, a guy named Ben Shapiro. Had a falling out with him and left. But he really put his finger on. He said, you know, Bannon's allegiance is to narrative truth not to actual truth.

COOPER: The actual facts.

GREEN: Yes. The actual facts, exactly, exactly.

COOPER: But as long as you get this sort of narrative.

GREEN: The narrative, the attitude and that's really what Bannon and Breitbart were all about and I think that's true of Trump also, and I think Trump saw in Bannon a guy who had a clear and coherent set of politics that meshed with Trump's own impulses. And a lot of times I think Bannon may be the only guy in the White House who has a true north star. Trump doesn't always follow his lead, doesn't do it near as much now as he did in the campaign but Bannon has an idea at least of where he wants to steer Trump.

COOPER: You have some just fascinating details. Election night in Trump Tower when the President found out that he had won.

GREEN: Trump was so superstitious they actually had not written a victory speech or a concession speech, which is traditionally what a President will do, staff will have it written ahead of time. Bannon, Stephen Miller with the guy in charge of his, he just never brought it up. Bannon didn't even think he was going to walk out on stage and concede formally if he lost. But then in the event that didn't come into play and so they went upstairs to Trump's penthouse and sat there and on election night at about 11:00 p.m. and hashed out a draft of speech that Trump walked out a few hours later and gave accepting the President of the United States.

COOPER: There was also a moment with Chris Christie that night.

GREEN: There was and a lot of people have wondered, how does that Chris Christie a guy who was really first major and figured endorsed Trump --

COOPER: It's you could just forget how close they were, you know, during the campaign.

GREEN: Oh, exactly and what and earthquake it was when Christie came out and delivered the surprise endorsement of Trump in Dallas. I mean it really shifted the politics of the Republican primary. But Christie had been urking a lot of people in Trump's inner circle. Trump adviser's told me that Christie was smothering the president. And on election night Christie somehow arranged with Obama's people that if Trump won, Obama was supposed to call Christie's cell phone and he would hand it to Trump. And Trump didn't like the fact, A, that Christie was exerting himself in this pivotal moment. And B, he's a germophobe and he didn't want to take Chris Christie cellphone phone and kind of lashed out at him using words that we can't say on CNN. And that was really in a lot of ways the end of Chris Christie he just appeared quickly.

COOPER: And that moment, really.

GREEN: You know, that moment and in the days that followed, you know, he wound up going from being in charge of the transition and maybe ticketed for a job like attorney general, some high-level job in the Trump administration, to being completely on the outs sent back to New Jersey.

COOPER: Also the wall which, you know, is such a huge part of the Trump campaign. You have fascinating details about the origin of the idea.

GREEN: The story of the wall is such a great story because it gives insights into how Trump operates as a politician. The idea for the wall didn't come from Donald Trump, it came from Sam Nunberg and Roger Stone, two long time advisers to Trump who back in 2013-2014, wanted to keep Trump focused on the issue of immigration because they thought it was a powerful one but they knew that Trump's attention always wandered. And so they came up with this idea of the wall it just as a device to keep Trump focused on the issue of immigration.

COOPER: To remind him to speak of that.

GREEN: To remind him to speak because if you can plant that seed in his mind, he can kind of riff on it. So at first Trump didn't seem very excited but wound up going to Iowa given a speech and he tried it out, got a great response from the crowd and did what Trump does best he started riffing on it. Said, you know, I'm going to build a wall and nobody builds like Trump. I'm going to build the wall in Mexico is going to pay for it. You know --

COOPER: That was a riff.

GREEN: That what was Trump does so well. He senses what it is that work with his audience and he develops it further, and further, and further, and further. And by the end of the campaign, it was like a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert were Trump's fun would show of and chat, you know, build, build, build wall and so he did the bet.

COOPER: It's a fascinating book, Devil's Bargain. Josh, thanks so much.

[21:00:03] GREEN: Thanks so much.


COOPER: Well, top on this hour conversation and consequence on disclose until now.