Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Campaign Adviser: Trump Listened To Papadopoulos And "Heard Him Out"; Atty. General Sessions Under Reviewed Scrutiny On Capitol Hill; Exclusive: Former Campaign Adviser Carter Page Testifies He Told Atty. Gen. Sessions About Russia Trip; CNN: Kushner's Team Turned Over Documents To Special Counsel; CNN: Mueller's Investigators Asking About Kushner's Role In Firing Comey; Pres. Trump: "Frustrated", Justice Dept Hasn't Done More On Leaks, Clinton; Pres. Trump Calls For End To Diversity Immigration Program; House Republicans Unveil Bill To Overhaul Tax System; Top Ten 2017 CNN Heroes Revealed. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 2, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We begin the hour with, yet, more breaking news on the Russian investigation on a day that has been pretty much wall to wall with it. This latest item, like most of the others today involves what various members to the Trump campaign and current members to the Trump administration had been saying about Russian connections and how much of it is now under growing suspicion. CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest breaking news. He joins us now. What have you learned, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you know, we were talking about this yesterday that then candidate Trump had this meeting with his national security advisory board. The picture has been up on our screens over the last 24 hours repeatedly. It's been up there for a while now that George Papadopoulos was the former adviser to the campaign made this pitch to then candidate Trump at the meeting that he could set up this meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also in the room was then senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Anderson, we told you a couple days ago that, yes, this was brought up at the meeting and that Sessions shut it down, but the man in between Sessions and Papadopoulos in that picture there, J.D. Gordon, former national security official for the Trump campaign. He is now confirming to CNN at that meeting, then candidate Trump heard out George Papadopoulos. And the words of J.D. Gordon, he "heard him out," that is very important. Because that is not what the White House is telling us. I asked the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about this yesterday, whether the president recalls that kind of conversation going on at that meeting. Here's what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Getting back to George Papadopoulos. Does the president recall at that March 31st, 2016 meeting with his national security adviser, Gordon, Mr. Papadopoulos was suggesting a meeting between then candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin, does he recall that?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I don't believe he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So there you have Sarah Sanders saying she doesn't believe that the president remembers having that conversation of being involved in that conversation, hearing out George Papadopoulos.
But, Anderson, look at what the president said at his first full news conference while in office, this was on February 16th, earlier this year. Really, the only full news conference, full official news conference that he's had as president. He was asked this critical question about whether or not he was aware of people inside his campaign having contacts with the Russians and here's how that played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the election.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I told you, General Flynn, obviously, was dealing. So that's one person. But he was dealing as he should have been --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?
TRUMP: No, no, nobody that I know of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're not aware of any contacts during the question.
TRUMP: Look, look, look. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So, there you go, Anderson, the president there saying at that news conference that he was not aware of any contacts.
Anderson, we now have an official with the Trump campaign J.D. Gordon saying that then candidate Trump was in the room with the now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, hearing out George Papadopoulos proposing this meeting between then candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Anderson, this is a critical question. Remember January 11th that infamous press conference during the transition at Trump Tower. That was the question I was trying to ask when he called me and the rest of us fake news. I was trying to ask that question. Did any of your contacts -- of any of your associates with the campaign have contacts with the Russians? And he would just not answer that question at that press conference. But as you saw at that February 16th press conference, he did go on to say, no, he did not believe or he was not aware of any contacts with Russians. But clearly we do know, officially now on the record from one person in the room at that meeting, that attempts were made and that -- then candidate Trump heard him out. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta, appreciate that.
Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his account under oath and of campaign contact with Russia and how former campaign name Carter Paige's Congressional testimony today may have cast fresh doubt on it. CNN's Manu Raju has that for us, joins us now from the Capitol. So, explain what Carter Page said today regarding his interactions with Jeff Sessions.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for more than 6.5 hours, Carter Page did testify behind closed doors on the Russian investigation. One of the questions of the House members asked him was about this July 2016 trip that he took to Russia. Now Paige has said that has not -- had nothing to do with the campaign. It was just a speech he delivered overseas. But he was asked about that trip and whether or not he informed anybody about traveling to Russia. And he did disclose to members of the committee that he told Jeff Sessions, then the senator from Alabama, and a top campaign surrogate, he told Sessions that he was in fact going to go travel to Russia, the following month.
Now, this is significant because Sessions has said repeatedly under oath in his testimony for Capitol Hill. He was not aware of any interactions between Russians and anyone associated with the Trump campaign. He even frankly (ph) denied certain communications that occurred. And he was asked directly in a June hearing by Senator Joe Manchin of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whether or not Carter Page himself had met with any Russian officials during the campaign season. And at that time Jeff Sessions said, I don't know. So he was informed of this meeting by Carter Paige.
[21:05:29] Now, Page told me that -- he mentioned this in passing. It happened at a dinner with the Capitol Hill club near the Capitol with members of the national security team, the Trump national security team. And Mike Conaway, the top Republican of who is investigating the Russia issue said that he didn't see anything nefarious in Jeff Sessions' actions here. It's understandable why he may not remember it, but still a lot of questions today, Anderson, about why Jeff Sessions has not disclosed this and other contexts with Russian officials. On -- given questions that persisted.
COOPER: Well, I mean, it comes on the heels of the questions regarding sessions meeting with George Papadopoulos of course.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. And as Jim just mentioned, Jeff Sessions at that meeting with Papadopoulos, loaded the idea of Putin -Trump meeting. And we're told by a person in the room that Sessions rejected that meeting from actually taking place.
So the question is, again, from Democrats and Republicans I spoke to today is, why didn't Jeff Sessions disclose this? Democrats calling on him to testify again before Congress and explain what happened to amend his testimony. But even some top Republicans, Anderson, today telling me that perhaps he should -- they would want to look into this a little further. Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee said he's, "looking into it". And John Cornyn, the number two Republican on the Senate who said of two of the key committees, also told me this is something that's a legitimate question to explore, and also they want to get more information about that. So, the question is not going away. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Manu, appreciate that.
Now, the Jared Kushner story, what his latest actions concerning Special Council Mueller may reveal. Evan Perez joins us with that. So, handed over documents, can you explain what the documents are?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, sources tell us that Jared Kushner voluntarily turned over documents he had in his possession from the campaign and the transition, and these related to any contacts with Russia. These documents that are similar to the ones that Kushner had given to Congressional investigators.
Now this all comes as investigators have begun asking witnesses about Kushner's role, possible role in the firing of James Comey. And we also know that even before the special council, Mueller was appointed in May, that the FBI had begun looking at Kushner's failure to disclose Russia contacts when he submitted his security clearance application, what's known as an fs-86 form. Now those are all documents that the FBI had in its possession long before Mueller got there.
COOPER: So why is the special council interested in his role in the Comey firing?
PEREZ: Well, we've told that investigators have asked witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing and we heard different accounts from sources about why that was, you know. Some say that Kushner was a driver of the president's decision. Others say that he simply, you know, didn't oppose it, and it was something that the president have already made his mind up about. Sources close to the White House say that based on what they know at this point, Anderson, Kushner is not a target of this investigation.
COOPER: So how significant is this?
PEREZ: Well, you know, the fact that Mueller's team is asking questions about Kushner is a sign that investigators have now reached into the inner circle of the president, and then extending beyond the 2016 campaign to actions, or action taken at the White House by high level officials that significant.
A White House official says that Mueller's team's questions about Kushner are not a surprise. They say that Kushner would be on a long list of people that they would be asking about. Lawyer for Kushner did not comment for the story, Anderson, and the White House declined to comment. COOPER: All right, Evan Perez, appreciate that. Lots to discuss. I want to bring in the panel. Molly Ball, Ana Navrarro, Ed Martin, Asha Rangappa, Bryan Lanza, and Michael Zeldin.
Michael, let's just start with you. I mean there's a lot of moving parts on this, given your experience with Mueller, what stands out to you today based on all that's happening?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what stands out most is, the president of the United States cannot go under oath, that his disconnected stories over the course of these months that we've been following this create for him the possibility of a perjury trap if he goes under oat oath. And I think Ty Cobb and John Dowd know this. I think that that his personal greatest liability.
COOPER: Can he avoid going under oath?
ZELDIN: No, probably not. But they'll try to stretch it out as long as they possibly can. So they know as much as they possibly can. So they can create a narrative that hopefully he can stick to as a witness.
COOPER: Are saying he can't go under oath because he's not being truthful or he can't go under oath because he just may not recall or he doesn't have the ability to recall all these moving parts?
[21:09:55] ZELDIN: I think he can't tell the truth, that's what I'm saying. I think that he can't go under oath from a legal jeopardy standpoint because he doesn't tell the truth with respect to what he knows and that is a problem. And if you're Ty Cobb or John Dowd, you have to make sure that the president is protected. And the way you protect him is to keep him from testifying under oath if possible, or at least have him testify under oath at the very end, so when you know as much as you can about people -- what people has said, that you can create a narrative, that you can stick to that's truthful.
COOPER: Asha, what do you think?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that the fact that they're getting Kushner's take on what happened with the Comey firing makes it pretty clear that Mueller has an obstruction case on the president and he intends to build it.
Remember when obstruction is, when you take an action which may in itself actually be legal, but you do it for corrupt reasons, OK? You do it for reasons that you know of wrong. And that's difficult to prove. It's hard to get into somebody's mind. Mueller is many things, but he's not a mind reader. So he's going to go to things that were said and done and written before and after.
And this is an administration that has loose fingers, OK. And we know just from these Russian e-mails or whatever, that they are not careful about what they've been writing.
COOPER: It seems like loose lips also -- RANGAPPA: And loose lips, I mean, we know that the president himself
tweets. Half of the obstruction case has been created by the president himself against himself. So, you know, this tells me --
COOPER: Well, Kushner is of interest because not only -- I mean, his entire role in the campaign and financial dealings of his own, that may be an issue, but in terms of the Comey firing and also on the flight where they're crafting the letter for Donald Trump Jr.
RANGAPPA: That's right.
COOPER: He's called.
RANGAPPA: So, here's where the Russia ties come in. If there are connections between Kushner and Russia and Don Jr., and all these things, that creates a motive for Trump to want to make this go away.
So again, those contacts will help bolster Mueller's case of obstruction against the president. As will any, you know, financial shenanigans that may have been happening in the past, that all of these give a vested interest on the part of the president to want this investigation to go away, which will help Mueller in his obstruction case.
ZELDIN: Just to follow up on that, to my point that the president is having trouble telling the truth. The Air Force One story that was put forth initially about the June 9th meeting was just not true.
ZELDIN: And if he said that under oath to Mueller, the initial story that I had nothing to do with that, I don't know anything about it. That would be a lie, it would be an actionable false statement for which Papadopoulos tells us, you could go to jail for several years, that's the greatest risk for the president.
ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm almost stunned to listen to this. I mean, we're speculating about things that didn't happen, might happen, you've got him on perjury charges.
You know, today's news is that we have a junior staffer who says in a meet that he was big time. Trying to say, I'll set up a meeting with Putin and every said, don't bother. I don't know if anybody here has been on a campaign and has, especially a big campaign (INAUDIBLE) bigger ones. There's lots of people in the room trying to big time and say, hey, I'll do this, I'll do that, I've got donors or whatever. So we're taking that and we're going all the way forward to the president --
COOPER: How do you know he's big time, because he actually did have contact with the president?
MARTIN: Well, everybody you can -- well, you can see it, and they've all said that they -- no one did anything with it, the fact that it's not remembered by anybody, is an indication that this was a guy who was trying to -- I mean, my argument is --
COOPER: -- by this guy, J.D. Gordon who is sitting there.
MARTIN: Right, by my argument is -- OK, he's not a junior staffer. But, I mean, the fact that Sessions and Trump don't believe it, as likely as this -- an idea they sat there and said, oh, my goodness, let's go to Russia, oh, no, we won't tell anyone about it. I mean, they don't remember that conversation of some staffer, and now we're all the way back to some kind of convoluted theory of perjury. I've never heard anyone talk about that.
COOPER: The president does not tell the truth, and under oath has a history of under oath not telling the truth. I mean, in his lawsuit against Tim O'Brien, I mean, he was demonstrably lying, you know, dozens of times.
MARTIN: But, whatever it is in the past that we want to point to that says now, therefore, that what's true is a Russia conspiracy, there's no evidence of a Russia impact in the election. There's now a kind of hunt on by Mueller to think that Jared Kushner. I mean, look, they were interviewed before, I think it was very important, Anderson, on the show with Schwartz, he said, Mueller will get him. Not anything to do with Russia, he'll just get him on something from his past, financial. If that's the goal stated by Mueller or anybody else, that's the problem, right? We're in a -- this is a coup of the American people's election.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, Mueller has not stated that, right? So we're talking about speculation. That is speculation on your part. I have been on campaigns. I've never seen coffee boys be able to have direct communication with campaign managers or sit around the table with the top executive, the top echelon of the campaign.
[21:15:11] Look, I think what this tells us is -- as we sit here trying to (INAUDIBLE) is just how thorough, how focused, how concentrated Bob Mueller is, he's not paying attention to the noise around him. He has amassed an impressive entourage, an impressive team of the best prosecutors and investigators in this country. He's peeling away the layers of this onion, and somebody's going to end up crying.
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: As a non legal expert, right, not a prosecutor, not a lawyer. I have no idea what if any case Mueller may be trying to build. But from the standpoint of a political observer and a Trump observer, it's very clear that some of Trump's most sensitive areas are under the microscope right now. And that's part of what a prosecutor does, is put pressure on areas that he knows are sensitive, right?
So the fact that he's looking into old financial dealings, things from long before the campaign, and the White House will tell you, look, all this stuff that Manafort and Gates are being indicted for is way before they ever took off with Trump, that's true. But what Trump may be hearing from that is, -- they are looking at old tax return, they're following the money.
COOPER: - allegedly going on during the campaign, I mean, there were efforts to, you know, there were -- there was outreach to Russian oligarchs about briefing on the campaign and things like that.
BALL: -- the activity in the indictment for the most part. The stuff that they are looking at with the activity is in Ukraine had nothing to do with the Trump campaign.
NAVARRO: Molly, for the part about the Republican convention that Manafort managed where the Republican platform specifically on Ukraine was changed to, you know, benefit the benefactors of Paul Manafort.
COOPER: We got to take a --
NAVARRO: There's a connection there.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to have more with the panel. I want to get Ryan on this as well.
The president made newest remarks to a radio station. We'll play you those.
And later new remarks from the president on immigrants after this week's attack here and the controversy they may be causing ahead. We'll talk ahead.
COOPER: The president's weighing in tonight on the kind of Russia investigation he would like to see. Speaking in Washington's WMAL radio, when asked about leaks and Hillary Clinton, he lamented his limited options.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: The saddest thing is that, because I'm president of the United States. I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
[21:20:12] COOPER: Back now with the panel. Ryan, we didn't get to hear from you, what do you make of, I mean, all the day's developments today?
BRYAN LANZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I guess there's three, we'll go one by one. You know, the Jared, what we learned about Jared is that he is fully cooperating. He volunteered the information. Same information he's volunteered to all the Congressional committees looking into this Russia stuff. He's been transparent. And I think that's what you want. That's not certainly somebody who's hiding anything, that's somebody who is focused on the president's agenda.
COOPER: The number of his declaration forms did have to amended --
LANZA: Sure, sure. And others will be amended as they go forward with other people. I mean, the fact, does he amended them, he didn't no, he didn't stick to whatever was there. He clearly acknowledged a mistake was made and he amended them. He didn't say anything different with that. And I think that's what we have to look at. As for, you know, the president should go on -- you know, whether he should be put, you know, through -- asked questions by the investigator, I think the president knows what the stakes are, and I think he's going to answer all those questions honestly. I think, yes, somebody who worked on the campaign.
There was, you know, I sort of sit here and I get a -- it's rather obnoxious to hear everyone talk about this Russia collusion, when you know the facts just don't bear out, when we know the fact that there's only one campaign that hired a foreign national that coordinated with the Russian to get involved in this campaign. And that's the Clinton campaign. You can't deny those facts. Now you have --
COOPER: -- involved with Cambridge Analytica and their conversations -- so you don't know what went on there?
LANZA: You're right. I don't know what went on there, but --
COOPER: And on Air Force One when they wrote that letter --
COOPER: But on Air Force One --
LANZA: -- coordinate with the Russians.
LANZA: That's what we do know.
COOPER: Again, but on Air Force One you were not on Air Force One --
COOPER: -- when that conversation about -- coming up with a reason for Donald Trump Jr.? So, a lot going on --
LANZA: -- about my campaign experience and I'm talking about the facts that exist right now. And so the facts are what they are. You have a lot sort of conjecture of what the Trump campaign did or what the Trump campaign didn't. You have a vendor who reached out to Assange who -- we didn't know anything about it, reach out to Assange sort of turned them down. But when you look at compare to what else exist as we have one campaign --
COOPER: Were you aware during the campaign that Papadopoulos had had this conversation with the Russian professor and had been in contact with Paul Manafort about it?
COOPER: OK, so there were stuff going on the campaign --
COOPER: -- that other people would not --
LANZA: Yes. But let's look at what the facts are. We know that Papadopoulos, you know, George Papadopoulos, you know, he's now a convicted felon. He's a convicted liar. He lied to the FBI. It's not like nobody knows not to lie to the FBI there's been enough information out there that this investigation is going on. Everybody is going to say, the way that Mueller's going to get you is by lying to the FBI and he still chose to lie.
COOPER: Why would George Papadopoulos lie to the FBI? I mean, Michael, you've worked with Mueller, why -- anybody's watched a cop show and knows --
ZELDIN: Well, they haven't been watching Matlock. I think that he thought -- I'm reading into his mind, which I'm not very good at. But I think he thought that he could either, one, get away with it, or two, thought that he was protective of the institution that he worked for and they want to work for, because it makes no sense objectively, why would you lie when the FBI asks you a question. So he had to -- he had to have some rational for it. Usually, I think, it's because they think they'll get away with it.
NAVARRO: My opinion is because he was a small fish, you know, in this big pond where there are so many people with much bigger names and much bigger roles that are being taken a look.
One of the interesting aspects about the Jared Kushner angle is that they can't deny Jared Kushner, right? They deny, practically everybody else, Papadopoulos, you know, his name rolls off the tongue. Oh, no, we don't know who he is. He was a coffee boy. Manafort, oh, he was, you know, he had a minor role, he was just around for a few months. Rick, who's that one? Rick, who? With Jared Kushner, you can't deny Jared Kushner.
MARTIN: Can I make a comment on what we heard the president say in that interview? I think it's important. I think it's a kind of set up for what we may see in a short set. We're coming toward a crisis, I suspect, at least a crisis of understanding. If the president of the United States is not in-charge of the Justice Department, he's not in-charge of the attorney general, he's not in-charge of that, then no one is. And we're going to have J. Edgar Hoover on steroids going forward. My point is --
COOPER: -- you want the president of the United States should be able to --
MARTIN: I want, yes. I want the president --
COOPER: -- to thwart the course of justice?
MARTIN: No, it's the course of justice. I don't want him to be the president of the executive branch. It's a little bit like today when we're going to say the subject.
COOPER: So you don't want the FBI to be independent or --
MARTIN: They're not independent. They're not independent.
NAVARRO: Ed, I think, you know, -- Ed, I think, you might be able to get exiled in Cuba, maybe Venezuela, even the Philippines if you want that kind of dictatorship.
COOPER: That's not dictatorship, it's exactly the opposite.
NAVARRO: Of course it is.
NAVARRO: What you're saying you want the president of the United States to be in charge of the FBI in terms of getting involved --
MARTIN: That's the constitution.
[21:25:01] NAVARRO: Well, I will tell you that it's very scary, particularly when you have a president that goes on vendettas and have a tantrum --
MARTIN: Anderson, very quickly. The IRS, there was a big question the IRS targeted people when Obama was in the -- that we're in conservative groups that was shown to be somewhat true, right?
MARTIN: Somewhat true.
COOPER: Mostly false.
MARTIN: OK, so one infringement on people's rights is OK with you, but not mostly --
MARTIN: No, no. Let me finish.
MARTIN: Either we have a constitution that allows an election to be meaningful or we have a country run by bureaucrats. We have a country run by the deep state, I don't think we do, I think we have.
COOPER: So anybody -- I mean, so you want any administration that comes in to be able to determine who should get investigated? You don't want -- there will be a permanent class of professionals who work for the FBI, and work for Department of Justice.
LANZA: Ultimately, you know, when the FBI does something wrong, and when the Justice Department does something wrong, you know, who's responsible for that, who is accountable for that. I mean, these are appointed officials.
LANZA: So you go to the elected official who's accountable for that.
ZELDIN: Right, so the president is in-charge of the executive branch, and with respect to policy he sets policy for the Justice Department and for the FBI with respect --
MARTIN: That's not the constitution.
ZELDIN: Yes, that's --
MARTIN: No, it's not.
COOPER: OK. Let him finish.
MARTIN: Go ahead.
ZELDIN: That is the manner in which by policy for 50 years, the president interfaces with the bureau and with the Justice Department and all other branches of the executive with respect to defying the policy of the executive branch. What he cannot do, by policy, is interfere with specific criminal cases, and what the president's MAL (ph) interview seemed to lament was that he couldn't do that. No one prevents him from running the executive branch as a policy matter. But policy and good judgment and good government prevents him from interfering in particular criminal matters, especially when he and his family or members of the interrogated.
COOPER: So, let's continue this discussion and some important (INAUDIBLE) after the break.
[21:30:31] COOPER: At the top of the hour, Jim Acosta reported that then candidate Trump heard out his Foreign Policy Adviser George Papadopoulos hitch a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Now listen to what the President said when ask about campaign contact with Russia back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
TRUMP: I told you General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that's one person. But he was dealing as he should have been.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?
TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of. Nobody --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you're not aware of any contact during the course of the election?
TRUMP: Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, is there a contradiction there?
BALL: Maybe, I don't think we don't know, right? I think there's a lot that we don't know and there is a lot that we're trying to read tea leaves on and speculate about. I mean, there it is clear that the president is extremely sensitive about this. He's very obsessed with this investigation and we know that from what he said, and from his tweets, and from the way that he always tends to react with this.
I think that that's what, you know, the people around him who are trying to sort of keep him under control and not do anything rash. What they fear is, that he may act on impulse, that he may simply get so annoyed by what he sees as a nothing investigation, whether it is or not. That he will sort of fly off the handle. Because he is a very unpredictable personality, and because he does strike at one of his deepest fears, the idea that his election win could be seen as illegitimate.
COOPER: Ed, how do you think he should deal with Mueller? Do you think he should fire Mueller?
MARTIN: I don't think he should fire Mueller, but I think he should watch Mueller. And I think he should watch, he should ask Rosenstein and Sessions or whoever is the ones that worked for him in the Justice Department according to the constitution, and find out. And I think if Mueller's far afield, I mean, if what Schwartz said in your last segment. You know, if he's saying he's going far afield then we have what we describe as a rogue prosecutor.
Somebody -- I'm not saying he's yet, but I'm saying, you know, the idea that we're going to let this guy continue to tie up the White House and look backwards. Instead of the question, the narrow question is, did the Russians influence the election? The answer so far is no, didn't change vote but they may have another things.
And what happened? Then let's go forward. I think that's happening. But after that, all the rest of this, I don't think, by the way, that there's any reason he couldn't fire Comey. So I don't think that that's a proper, you know, area to be digging into either. I think that's -- the president has the right to do that.
But again, we're in a constitutional question. But this is a problem. I mean, again I don't know why we think it's OK to have the government -- the people -- he won the election. He gets to be the president.
COOPER: It was Ken Starr the rogue prosecutor?
MARTIN: I think Ken Starr the reason why the independent counsel statute was allowed to expire by both parties. Was because -- it was to even different, but see, he was constitutionally and independent council that was passed by the Congress, and he was appointed.
This is a special council within the Justice Department. And, by the way, if the president goes too far, then the way it's addressed is through the courts. You can go to the court and say hey, somebody can say, "Hey you went too far. You're breaking the law on this. How you're handling it?" Or there's a political solution, either the election in three years or impeachment. Those are the way the constitution is set up.
ZELDIN: May -- just my impression of what I think is the difference between what you said and what the law sets out. Firstly, the regulations that governs Mueller which our presidential regulations that the president contain if he wants to change them provide that Mueller can only be fired only for cause.
Rosenstein gave Mueller a mandate. He has to operate within that mandate or he has to go back to Mueller, he has to go back to Rosenstein to get that mandate expanded or Rosenstein can take over the investigation himself. So the system is working just fine.
Nobody is -- I'm saying, so nobody is rogue. The independent council statue doesn't provide really any more protection than the current regulations do. I was an independent council. I was independent council just before Starr. I have no doubt but that this regulatory structure works just as well as ours did.
MARTIN: No, be clear, you have to be clear to the viewers. The independent council was a law passed by and signed by the president. So the president couldn't disregard that under the constitution. He can, as you pointed out, all the authority of all the special councils and Rosenstein comes from the president, comes from the executive.
COOPER: Again, I got to get another quick break. Bryan, you didn't have a chance to --
LANZA: Yes. I would say, you know, everybody says, you know, should the president be aggressive against Mueller? I'd say it's important to remember that at the end of the day, this is going to be a political trial. The information is going to be sent back to Congress and Congress are going to make decision what to do. So any time you're dealing with a political trial, you got to deal with it politically, and not deal with it criminally.
[21:35:09] I'm not going to tell, you know, the president's lawyers they're doing anything wrong. But I think there is an important component that you can't forget the political part of this. And, if we're going to play politics with this, its' that what Congress does. We should be more aggressive in fighting the politics behind it. Such as this dream team of lawyers, I would call the dream team of Democratic activist donors. A good member of them are donors and that's a problem for me. But maybe it's Mueller's approach by saying, if these guys sort of look through everything and can't find anything, that's prove that nothing exist and that's what we have hate then.
COOPER: All right. More with the panel ahead, including their take on this, the president calls on Congress to end the immigration program that brought the New York terror suspect to this country. He says the program is unsafe. We'll take a look at that.
COOPER: Today, the president said in the wake of the terror attack in New York that killed eight people, he's calling on Congress to immediately end the diversity immigrant visa program, calling it, "Disaster for our country."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This program grants visas not on a basis of merit but simply because applicants are randomly selected in an annual lottery. And the people put in that lottery are not that country's finest. We know that the program presents significant vulnerabilities to our national security. It's a very unsafe program for our country and we're not going allow it to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:40:04] COOPER: Back now with the panel, joining the conversation, Peter Beinart and Christine Quinn. (INAUDIBLE) pointed yesterday Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was no vetting of the people in this program which is not actually -- the case they're actually vetted as much as anybody else is vetted to come to this country, you can argue with the vetting is not strong enough. You can argue that we shouldn't have this program at all. That's to be discusses which, -- clear as we hear it. What do you think of this program?
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all let's remember it's -- also was a bipartisan program when it was developed.
COOPER: But, a lot of people have been trying to get rid of it.
QUINN: Absolutely but let's just make sure. You know, and I've take umbrage as a New Yorker that they got blamed on Chuck Schumer, right? So we just need to be -- about the fact of the evolution.
I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to have a debate at appropriate policy debate about different programs in immigration. But this isn't that. This is immediately in the wake of a terrorist attack, in the city that suffered the worst terrorist attack in history, moving immediately to kind of rock them, sock them, blame each politics, A.
B, it is drawing conclusions based exclusively on the program that this killer got in through. None of that is helpful, none of that thoughtful and none that I believe will really address the problems as it relate to terrorists coming into New York. But what it also really did, and I want to be clear, Democrats can be criticized of this just as much as Republicans.
In the wake of a tragedy, the president and other elected have done it too, didn't take on the job of uniting, didn't take on the job of bringing us together. He took on the mode of splitting us apart. And, look, we're in New York, we will always take care of ourselves and we will always push on. But that's not right for America and it clouds this whole conversation which is an important one.
COOPER: -- with this program?
LANZA: You know, listen, both sides do it all the time, what you're saying, sort of take advantage of the dynamics to push a public policy. The Democrats are guilty, and I guess the Republicans are guilty of it. But what is wrong with reviewing our immigration laws that protect Americans?
QUINN: But nothing is wrong with it. But what's wrong with it is doing it. Moments after people were flowed down, a stone is thrown.
COOPER: -- Peter, when you hear the president say, you know, the people in this lottery are not the country's best.
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
BEINART: Yes. Let's -- look, I think that's just a pretty good argument to get rid of this lottery program. But let's be clear about what Trump's agenda is, right?
Donald Trump, first of all, wants to cut immigration in half overall, right, regardless of how people come in, right? Secondly, he wants fewer Mexicans and he wants fewer Muslims, it is enticed, absolutely, obvious if you go back to the campaign that that is the agenda. That's -- and he should be honest about that, right? If he wants to -- the problem with -- yes, absolutely because proposed the Muslim banned, right? And when he --
COOPER: Wait, one at a time.
BEINART: I'll tell you. I'll tell you why you're wrong. I'll tell you why you're wrong.
LANZA: I'd like to hear why I'm wrong.
COOPER: Nobody hears you. Let Peter finish and Bryan go. Let Peter finish.
BEINART: The thing about chain migration is clearly aimed at the fact that we have a large Latino population that is bringing in family members. If you don't think that's a dog whistle to people who watch Breitbart, but you don't listen --
LANZA: Right, I don't.
COOPER: Bryan, respond.
LANZA: Yes. Listen, it's the whole thing that he was targeting Mexicans I actually find offensive, and I myself am from Hispanic dissent. I never felt targeted by that. What I though --
BEINART: When he attacked Judge Curiel you didn't feel (ph) sorry about that?
LANZA: That bothers me, that maybe a lot of it, that maybe very and uneasy because that's American citizen. That actually did make me uneasy pointed out something. But the whole -- to say blanket statement that he doesn't want Mexicans in here --
BEINART: He called them rapists.
LANZA: It's just not accurate is my point. It's like, he even said, we're going to build a wall and we're going to have a nice door that's going to let the people in through a proper vetting process. What is wrong with that system?
NAVARRO: But this is --
NAVARRO: Look, two things, first of all on the one point that Christine made earlier about his attack on Chuck Schumer, I though it was completely untimely and inappropriate and it something that he has done over and over again. He attacked the Mayor of San Juan right after the hurricane there. He attacked the Mayor of London by an act of a terrorist attack there. That's not just the time to be making political points against a hometown elected official.
Now, on the lottery visa, look, I think this country, I think politicians have a right and a responsibility to take a look at what's best for the country. We should have a conversation about a modern immigration system, comprehensive immigration system that meets the requirements of the modern economy in America.
We have right now the Dream Act that's being discussed. There's a deadline for it. We've got this lottery visa program that's being discussed. All of that was part of the gang of eight comprehensive immigration proposals a few years ago. It is time to take a comprehensive look at this, come up with a bipartisan proposal as that was and to try address all these issues.
[21:44:55] MARTIN: Look, I think everybody here, I think you're missing what's happening. I mean, Americans that was -- you're right, that was on the table. Comprehensive amnesty for illegals, so it's on the table, rejected not only by the Congress, but then by the American people. The president ran, Donald Trump ran on a message. From the time he came down the escalator, he said, and Americans bought into it, we're sick of an immigration system that allows these people to come and kill us.
Whatever the system is, that's bad or good. However the vetting happen or didn't, we're sick of it. And when he says, we're going to change the system, what is he doing is turning up the pressure on politicians that have shown that they're spineless and feckless. And the people are sick of it. So the harshness of it, all that, hey, you know what, eight people are dead because of a system that is broken.
COOPER: I know we have to go, Christine.
QUINN: You know, I just trying to -- the vast greatest example of hypocrisy, that when eight people are dead, appears to be killed by a Muslim, we immediately attack that group of people. But when a white man -- should we not let people from Florida go to Nevada because of what that man did at Las Vegas? No, it is same.
MARTIN: No, it's not.
QUINN: Because the President picks out people who --
MARTIN: -- demagoguing now.
QUINN: -- I am talking. But President picks out people who he believes will easily be hated, that other people will turn against, and he rips us apart. He is a hypocrite, and if he was really was going to be straight across the board, we will look at issues in the way Ana said. All he wants to do is engender (ph) fear.
COOPER: All right.
QUINN: He doesn't want to find solutions.
COOPER: We got it.
QUINN: And what he did say, nothing about Las Vegas and the man who perpetrated that -- was Florida have to stay in Florida?
COOPER: All right, we got go. I want to thank everybody.
Up next, House Republicans unveiling their tax plan, there's already some push back. There's people one of the Republican congressman who says, he is not on board. We'll find out why in a moment.
[21:50:21] COOPER: House Republicans released their new tax bill today. The headlines are lowest the number of tax brackets from seven to four, increases the standard deduction in the child tax credit, reduces the corporate tax rate. It would also eliminate the state and local tax reduction. And for that reason, not every House Republican is on board including Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York who joins us now.
Now, congressman, thanks for being with us. Can you just explain just why you opposed this bill and what you'd like to see changed?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: So I am an American, but I'm also a New Yorker representing a New York congressional district. I'm well aware that if I'm not representing my home state, I can't expect some other member in some other state to represent my home state for me.
I look at the proposal to eliminate the state and local tax deduction as a geographic redistribution of wealth. You're taking money from a state like New York in order to help finance deeper tax cuts in other places. There are many good things inside of the proposal, but on balance, while I'm pleased that there were some progress with bringing back the property tax deduction up to 10,000, I mean that's good progress, but it's not enough.
So we're going to keep fighting for my home state and fighting for my middle income, low income constituents looking for the maximum relief. I want tax relief not just for Americans everywhere else, but also back home in New York.
COOPER: So is that something you actually think you can get movement on?
L. ZELDIN: Well, we've already seen movement, because the original proposal was to completely eliminate the state and local tax deduction. It was good progress to get to this -- keeping the property tax deduction up to 10,000, but you still have on the table a proposal to completely eliminate the state and local income tax. So it's not lost on me that one of the reasons why our state and local tax deduction is as high as it is, is because our state and local taxes are as high as they are.
It is important for all levels of government to be working on tax relief, but for those who say that they're subsidizing New York -- New York is a net contributor. And if you look at tax policy and spending policy, New York sends more money to Washington than we get back. And that's with this all deduction.
COOPER: So passing I mean, the comprehensive tax reform bill is difficult to do even the best of times that certainly has been done for decades. Do you think the Republican Party is united enough to get this done on the president's timeline, which is by Christmas?
L. ZELDIN: I do. And I -- even though I am opposed to this bill in its current form, I'll tell you, looking at my colleagues today, they were nearly all unified with regards to this effort. It's going to the Ways and Means Committee next week. It's supposedly going to the floor the week after. So we'll see as it goes through the process where all the votes lie and how the whip count looks. I'm announced as a no. There are a few others who announced as a no.
I would love to be part of getting this bill as close to perfect and be able to vote yes. I'm certainly not there yet, though.
COOPER: I mean, during the effort to repeal Obamacare, the House and Senate GOP they were pursuing different strategies no bill ended up passing, might that happen again with this effort because some Republicans senators have already said they're not going to work --or they're going to work on their own version?
L. ZELDIN: Well, I think the House is going to be passing a tax reform bill. I just can't speak for the Senate as it relates to just about anything this year.
L. ZELDIN: They have -- the Senate has passed dozens of bills that have gotten to the president's desk bills that have also passed the House. I would say the House has passed well over 300 bills. Many of which were bipartisan bills. Many of those bills actually were very overwhelmingly bipartisan, but as far as this bill getting through the Senate, I just -- I can't speak for them.
COOPER: Congressman Lee Zeldin, I appreciate your time and I wish you best. Thank you.
L. ZELDIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, this year's top ten CNN heroes, incredible men and women doing their parts to make our world a better place. Going to introduce you to each of out top 10 CNN heroes and tell you how to vote for the Hero of the Year. We'll be right back.
[21:57:46] COOPER: Tonight, I have the honor of show casing the 2017 top 10 CNN heroes. They are men and women who inspire us to reach out and help one another in ways big and small. Now it's up to you to decide which one is going to win the top honor. CNN Hero of the Year and $100,000 to continue their work. Here are the top 10 finalists.
STAN HAYS, OPERATION BBQ: You guys need meals?
COOPER (voice-over): From Missouri, pitmaster, Stan Hays and his team of volunteers have responded to dozens of natural disasters providing nourishment and comfort to survivors and first responders.
Samir Lakhani from Pittsburgh recycles and distributes discarded bars of soap, hotels across Cambodia, including hygiene and creating jobs. Amid violence in Chicago, Police Officer Jennifer Maddox gives young people on the south side a safe haven to learn, grow and succeed.
"Mama Rosie" Mashale is racing a generation of abandoned and sick children in her impoverished South African community, many who have lost parents to aids.
Iraq war veteran Andrew Manzi free surf camp on South Carolina beaches bring therapy and healing to fellow vet and their families.
In memory of her son, Leslie Morissette provides computers and robots to children battling serious illnesses, keeping them connected to school and friends.
MONA PATEL, SAN ANTONIO AMPUTEE FOUNDATION: He is walking.
Mona Patel helps fellow amputees rebuild their lives through peer support, resources and transformative athletic activity.
Khali Sweeney's books before boxing program, provides mentorship and academic tutoring, guiding kids from Detroit's toughest neighborhoods toward a brighter future.
In Southern California, Aaron Valencia, teaches car restoration to young people in need, giving them trade skills, guidance and hope.
And finally, Amy Wright through her non-profit coffee shop in North Carolina. She's creating jobs in a community for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
COOPER: Well, now it's time for you to decide who will be named 2017's Hero of the Year and receive $100,000 to help continue their work. You can go to cnnheroes.com to learn how to vote for the hero who inspires you the most.
We're going to announce the winner with my friend and co-host Kelly Ripa on our live tribute show, Sunday, December 17th.
Thanks for watching "360". Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.