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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Approves Short-Term Spending Bill But Senate May Not Go Along; Interview with Congressman Tom Garrett of Virginia; Senate Expected to Take Up Spending Bill Any Minute Now. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 18, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We're picking up on the breaking news on Capitol Hill this evening. The House voting just moments ago, passing a short-term funding bill to prevent a government shutdown tomorrow night. It comes after no shortage of GOP infighting, chaos, confusion over what the president really wants, and, of course, it's far from over.
Democrats say they have the votes to block it in the Senate, and if they do, or if Republicans can't agree among themselves and a shutdown happens, that would make history. The first one ever when the same party controls Congress, the White House.
A lot to get to. CNN's Phil Mattingly begins our coverage from the Capitol.
So, what do we know about how this vote came together?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you noted, it's a day that started with confusion. The president seeming to imply he was opposed to a key element of this deal. It continued with fierce lobbying behind the scenes by House Republicans, a recognition, Anderson, they were going to get no Democratic help. They needed to do this themselves.
And there were conservatives that had real problems with both the scale and scope of what this government funding bill would actually do. But by the middle of the day, I was told by top leadership aides that Speaker Ryan and his team felt like they were in a good place. In the hours that followed, the House Freedom Caucus, the conservatives that have been raising concerns about the bill, started to fall into line and shortly before the vote, that caucus confirmed that they were in majority in support of that proposal, clearing the way for its passage.
It is a big victory for Speaker Ryan and Republicans, getting something done on their own without Democratic help. But in terms of what happens next, it's still an open question, Anderson.
MADDOW: So, it's on to the Senate. What's the prognosis there?
MATTINGLY: Yes, look, if you have money on not having a government shutdown, right now, your bet's not looking good. Plain and simple, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to be able to move things forward. Because of attendance issues, he has 50 Republicans. It is now very clear, he will not be able to secure the votes of at least 10 Democrats. He's losing some of his own members on this government funding bill, as well.
Where does that actually leave things? It is an open question. You ask Democrats what the end game is here, they make clear that they want a vote on an immigration bill. They want to attach some type of DACA resolution to any government funding bill, or at least reach some deal on that front.
Republican leaders, the president himself have been very clear, Anderson, that is not coming now or any time in the near fuel sure.
So, where do they currently stand? Working on the blame game. They are digging in, both sides.
It is not actually clear when this is going to end. Things will start moving forward tonight, but again, they'll move forward to a vote that at this point, everybody knows is going to fail. We're coming -- we are now approaching 24 hours until the government shuts down. As of now, there's no real solution or game plan for what happens next, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.
Let's go next to the White House and CNN's Jim Acosta.
What's the White House saying at this point?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, what they're saying is that obviously, they're watching this. The president is watching this all unfold. They're waiting to see what will happen in the Senate.
But in the meantime, this administration has to get ready for the event of a potential government shutdown. And so, I talked to a senior administration official earlier this evening who said in the last couple of days, White House officials haven be talking to the various agencies to basically send the message that this should be minimally -- a minimal disruption for the general public, was how this senior administration official put it.
And essentially, one of the things they're talking about is getting the message to say the National Park Service, which is always a symbol during these government shutdowns, when Yosemite and other national parks close, this senior administration official was saying that in the event of this government shutdown, under the Trump administration, that some national parks and monuments and memorials that rely on minimal staffing, that those facilities should remain open and this administration official cited the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, as an example.
Now, if this goes late Friday night, one thing they've been studying over here, Anderson, is whether or not the president could send out a tweet late Friday night, early Saturday morning, if this gets passed in the Senate, to basically say, listen, I agree with this continuing resolution to keep the government open, and that that tweet would essentially send a signal that the U.S. government is going to remain open.
It's sort of unchartered waters to some extent, in that the president's team is looking at the possibility that a tweet could send a signal to the world that the federal government is not shutting down.
COOPER: The White House -- I mean, this president's received some criticism from Republicans, from Mitch McConnell and others, for essentially not being clear enough in what they actually want.
ACOSTA: That's right. And that was going on today, you know, the president earlier this morning sent out that tweet saying that the Children's Health Insurance Program, if that's extended, that they should be part of a longer budget deal, not a short-term budget deal, which obviously was in conflict with what the House Republicans were talking about earlier today.
Anderson, I was talking to some sources this evening that were saying that, you know, there's some grumbling inside the Republican Party right now. There's a feeling over on the House side that the president did not put in as many phone calls as he should have, that he should have been working the phones a lot harder, as this was getting down to the wire, and there's a feeling inside the White House, I talked to a source close to the White House and the House Freedom Caucus who said earlier this evening that there is a feeling that House Speaker Paul Ryan was struggling to put together the votes needed to get this continuing resolution passed.
Now, obviously, it's happening, so, that criticism doesn't really pass any muster, but there are certainly some grumbling inside the party tonight, as to how this is going down.
But, Anderson, they can only blame themselves. They're in charge of the White House. They're in charge of the Congress. If this government shuts down late tomorrow night, it's a Republican shutdown.
COOPER: Do they have a contingency plan if the bill fails in the Senate?
ACOSTA: Not at this point.
And, Anderson, what we're really going to have to keep our eye on, whether or not the president goes forward with his plans to leave for Mar-a-Lago tomorrow. He is supposed to celebrate the one-year anniversary of being sworn into office. That is supposed to take place Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago.
The Trump campaign and the Republican Party have -- they've been putting out e-mails inviting people to participate in this event and to fund raise off of this event. And so, the optic will be there, the image will be there, potentially, of the president of the United States as the government is shutting down, getting on a plane to go down to Mar-a-Lago and potentially party with donors and so on, as this government is shutting down.
Now, the White House is not saying at this point whether or no those plans will change, but it was interesting to note when the senior administration official was saying earlier this evening that the president essentially sent out a tweet signaling his support for a continuing resolution, that sounds like a contingency plan that would allow the president to go down to Mar-a-Lago and still allow this government to shut down while the negotiations continue over the weekend.
Now, I should point out, this official that I was talking to earlier this evening was stressing and trying to make the case that if the government shuts down over the weekend, that is not a huge issue, in their feeling, in their view, because many federal workers are off over the weekend.
The question is, how long it lasts and what kind of damage is done to this White House image and of the GOP's image moving forward -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate that.
Now, to a member of the conservative GOP House Freedom Caucus, Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett.
Congressman, good to have you on.
REP. TOM GARRETT (R-VA), FREEDOM CAUCUS MEMBER: Anderson, always good to be with you.
COOPER: You voted for the continuing resolution. What got you to yes?
GARRETT: Well, I mean, look, we've been very vocal on the Children's Health Insurance Program known as CHIP. I think it's ironic that by my count, 186 Democrats just voted not to reauthorize Children's Health Insurance through 2023. Was interesting when Jim, who I hold in high regard, said if we have a government shutdown, it's going to be the Republican's fault -- sure, we hold both chambers and the White House.
We need 60 votes to get this sort of thing through the Senate and I got 186 Democrats voting to shut the government down along with six Republicans, so, I would ask the American people to just do the math. We've had 186 people vote to shut the government down. Those were all Democrats and six Republicans. Meanwhile, 200-and-some-odd Republicans voted to keep it open, and fund the Children's Health Insurance Program through 2023.
That's the right thing to do. I find myself sort of living in strange world here.
COOPER: Do you worry, though, just, you know, the optics of people who say, look, you do have the White House, you do have Congress, and yet you're not all on the same page. GARRETT: Oh, I think the American people don't want us to all be on
the same page. Would you want to live in a world where every person could be counted upon to vote the exact same way or would you like people to think freely?
So, I respect people who might dissent. I don't understand, though, why Leader Pelosi has allowed and led and whipped her caucus to vote against children's health insurance to many times. And, you know, Governor McAuliffe from Virginia, a guy who I consider a friend, sort of chastised the Republican House delegation of Virginia for not having CHIP done. I'm 4-0 (ph) no voting for it. Leader Pelosi, I don't know, has she voted for it yet?
At some point, people are going to start looking at how people actually vote, because that's what matters. This is going to be a Schumer shutdown, if it's a shutdown, you know, because watch what happens in the Senate, if they vote to shut the government down. It's going to be a vast majority of Democrats that do so.
COOPER: When the president called into the Freedom Caucus meeting today, I'm wondering if you can talk about what he said? Did it have an impact on you, some of your fellow Freedom Caucus members getting to yes?
GARRETT: I wasn't privy to that conversation.
COOPER: OK. Senator Lindsey Graham said today that they need a leader in the president. As you know, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he doesn't know what the president wants.
Does -- do you believe that's a fair criticism, that the president has not been clear enough in explaining exactly what he wants?
GARRETT: Yes, I'm not going to depend people in positions -- excuse me, attack people in leadership for asking for clarity from the White House. I think, though, that the president can put that shoe on the other foot and ask for clarity from the legislative branch.
I hate governing by CR. It just is not the way we're supposed to do business. For the record, the House has passed 12 separate budget bills for the first time in 14 years. They languish in the Senate.
I told somebody the House moves slowly, but compared to the Senate, we're the millennium falcon. We did the Kessel Run in four parsecs.
So, you know, I think Leader McConnell has the right to speak to the president, say, this is what I need from you. I think the president has the right to say, this is what I need from you all. I'm not going to get into the he said, she said sort of pedantic.
I think right now, one of the biggest problems in America on both sides of the aisle is the tone. And if I have anything to do with it, it's going to be pointing out this vote count, which is the vast majority of Democrats led by former Speaker Pelosi voted to shut down the government and not fund children's health insurance and yet again, I, who am labeled a staunch conservative and spotless in voting to fund this program, so, again, it's an interesting world.
COOPER: So, what happens to this bill when it gets to the senate? Do you think it passes there or do you think there will be a shutdown?
GARRETT: Well, I'm hopeful that it passes. It is interesting, because I think America needs to do a better job understanding the rules of the Senate. If, in fact, you're going to get to the point where you need 60 votes, there's a filibuster process that could actually be invoked.
I would say to Majority Leader McConnell that we like to see him make this process play fully out. Let's see how committed Chuck Schumer is to denying children's health insurance, let's see how committed Chuck Schumer is to shutting down the government and, you know, I mean -- not throw up our hands and say, well, but that's too hard.
So, I'm not going to conjecture, I'm not going to speculate on what they'll do in the Senate except to say that I'm proud that we voted tonight not only not to shut the government down, but to extend this children's health insurance coverage to 9 million American children who had nothing to do with the circumstances in which they find themselves.
COOPER: Congressman Garrett, appreciate your time, thank you for your time.
GARRETT: Always great talking to you. Thanks for the opportunity.
COOPER: Take care.
Joining me now is CNN political analyst David Gregory and chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, clearly, I mean, we're watching this play out in real time. Which party do you think has the most at stake tonight? Clearly, you just heard from Congressman Garrett who is trying to call this a Schumer shutdown, trying to put all the blame on the Democrats if, in fact, it doesn't pass in the Senate.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and trying to make the case that Democrats are against extending children's health insurance, which I don't think is the issue here.
I think it's gotten so convoluted that the public's going to have a hard time trying to figure out who to blame and they should probably blame both sides in this. But as you pointed out at the top of the show, this is a Republican-controlled Washington, period. White House, House, Senate. And, you know, I think in the end, that the people in charge are the people who generally get the blame.
And I think we're -- this is no way to run a government. I mean, don't forget, the bill that they voted on in the House tonight only extends through February 16th. So, they're just kicking the can down the road here, and this is what Democrats are saying they don't want to do anymore. They don't want to just kick the can down the road. They want to come up with some solutions, particularly only the issue of Dreamers, which was not included at all in the House bill.
COOPER: Right. You know, David, we heard the criticism from Graham. We heard it from McConnell. Is it clear to you whether President Trump understands -- I mean, at least of this morning when his tweets again caused consternation within his own party, what was in this funding measure and what was not in it?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not clear to me that he cares, necessarily, because he's not standing by the party. He's -- he's someone who campaigned on the promise of draining the swamp and changing the way Washington works.
He also has demonstrated that he would step back and separate himself from establishment Republicans who seem to govern in a way that disappoints a lot of his voters. Well, the problem now is that the Republican leader, as you pointed out, says he's not sure what the president wants with regard to immigration. You've got a prominent supporter of the president in Lindsey Graham who say, it's time for him just to be a leader.
So, I'm sure he understands what the ramifications are, but he is still all over the place --
GREGORY: -- which is no way to get to what you need, which is either a short-term fix or pave the way to get something big. And if it's a kind of chaos theory negotiation, we haven't seen a lot of that before, maybe with President Trump, it will be different.
COOPER: Yes, David, Gloria, stay with me for just a minute. We have to take a break. I want to talk to you more when we come back.
Also tonight, the president promising over and over again to be the best deal maker. We'll talk about his role in all of this.
And ahead, more breaking news on a very different subject. New reporting on citizen Trump, the porn star and candidate Trump's alleged payoff to her. That and Trump attorney Michael Cohen's reported role.
[20:18:24] COOPER: We're just getting more information now.
We've learned that in a matter of minutes, the Senate may actually take up legislation to prevent a shutdown. This was not expected tonight, now, we're learning otherwise. We're learning the initial vote, a motion to proceed, may happen any moment.
Let's just go back to Phil Mattingly right now.
Phil, what's going on?
MATTINGLY: Yes, so, basically, the Senate is going to, once they get the House bill, they're going to take it up on the floor. What they will first do is have a vote, as you noted, on the motion to proceed. Basically, that would get them onto the bill. That is a simple majority threshold, so they need 51 votes to actually move that forward.
As of this moment, both Republicans and Democrats believe the votes are there to do that. That is not the vote that everybody needs to keep an eye on. The vote that everybody needs to keep an eye on is the next vote, Anderson. That would be the vote that has the threshold of 60 votes. That would be the vote where Democrats plan to hold off on giving Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the votes to actually move forward on the bill.
Now, when that vote will actually happen is still open for debate. They would have to get an agreement in terms of the timing on that. But I think the key issue right now is, and I've been batting back and forth, the Senate and Republican aides since the House passed their bill, is there any movement, is there any idea of how this is going to play out, not just tonight, but over the next couple of days? And the answer is no.
There is no necessary definite strategy in terms of how this is going to work on both sides, other than Republicans are dug in, Democrats are dug in, and the one thing we know for certain is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the 60 votes to move forward on that House-passed bill.
And until he does, the government is still on that path, Anderson, to shut down tomorrow night.
COOPER: All right. Phil, we'll continue checking with you as the story continues to break in this hour.
[20:20:03] Let's go back to Gloria Borger and David Gregory.
Gloria, you know, when you hear Republicans say, well, look this is all going to be blamed on the Democrats, it's the Democrats' fault, they're against, you know, helping kids -- what is the Democratic argument? Is it, for them, is it just a political roll of the dice that they believe the Republican -- if it does shut down, Republicans will get the blame?
BORGER: Well, look, you know, the Democratic argument on children's health is, if this is so important to you Republicans, why didn't you take it up earlier this year when you could have? When the Democrats wanted to deal with it?
I mean, children's health insurance is something that you can bring up on the floor --
BORGER: -- any time and renew it and they've been screaming about it for the -- the Democrats have been screaming about it for quite some time.
I think, look -- I was just talking to a senior Democratic leadership aide who pointed out to me that we have not talked to Republicans since Donald Trump became president. We really don't deal with each other.
So, they're kind of flying by each other here. The Democrats are incensed about what the president said, his vulgar remarks on immigration. That added heat to the fire here. They're concerned about Dreamers. They think this is something that should have been done awhile ago.
And the Republicans are effectively trying to bribe Democrats, saying, look, we're going to pass this children's health insurance. I don't note how they get out of this, to be honest.
COOPER: Yes, David?
GREGORY: I think the big part of the Democratic strategy is resistance. I mean, that's what you've seen.
GREGORY: They want to fight on the terrain of the president's a bad guy, he's unfit -- this is their argument -- and that he is racist, as you've heard, obviously, and that his views on immigration are un- American. That's the ground they want to fight on. They want to make this a proxy fight over his views on immigration.
They don't want to take him on on jobs or how the market is doing. And so, that's the bet here. There's a lot of energy in the Democratic base, political base, leading up in this election year, leading up to 2020, about where were you, did you stand up to Trump and by proxy, the Republicans?
So, I think that's what's driving a lot of this right now, and they think this may be the best moment of leverage.
The irony is that with a little bit more space, they might just be able to get a bigger deal that a mercurial president might be able to come up with.
GREGORY: Given the fact he's been al over the place.
COOPER: Well, Gloria, I mean, talking about deals, the president likes to call himself a dealmaker. He's done it a lot.
I just want to show you all the times that he's talked about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need somebody with great energy, with great passion, with great deal-making skills.
I'm going to make the great deals. I am going to make great deals for our country.
I mean, what I do is -- I do deals. I deal. I negotiate by creating leverage. So I can extract a good deal for the United States, for the people.
I make deals. I negotiate.
Everybody wants me to negotiate. That's what I'm known as, as a negotiator.
I'm so anxious to negotiate.
Nobody can out-negotiate these deals.
I will make a great deal and lots of great deals for the American people.
I am a dealmaker, and that's what the country needs is a dealmaker.
We don't make great deals anymore. But we will, once I become president.
I'm a closer. We're going to close. We're going to start winning so much. Just like the video. We're going to win and win and win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's so interesting, Gloria, because we've seen just in the last week and a half, when cameras were in that meeting on immigration, the president not seeming to exactly know what actually he does believe in. Agreeing with Dianne Feinstein first, then with Congressman McCarthy, who sort of interceded to do an intervention, to explain what Republican policy was and then kind of going back to the Democratic policy.
BORGER: Well, I think that what you saw is that the president doesn't have any set of beliefs. His belief is that he wants to win and he wants to be regarded as the person who brought the deal over the finish line.
But Lindsey Graham told him that you have to be involved. Mitch McConnell came out and said, look, if we know where the president stands on immigration, maybe we can get something done here. And you saw him this morning upend this entire debate by tweeting about a clean CR and saying that children's health shouldn't be apart of it, because he didn't understand that it was a six-year renewal.
So, this is not a negotiator. This is somebody who's not paying attention to the details, and you saw his own chief of staff talk about that yesterday as well, that the president has evolved. Well, I think the president may be learning, but then he shoots his mouth off and we don't know what he believes.
COOPER: Yes. Gloria Borger, David Gregory, thanks very much.
Coming up, who are shaping up to be the winners and losers in the negotiations with all of this? We'll ask two people who have had seats at the table of the White House and in the Senate, next.
[20:28:19] COOPER: We're now waiting for the Senate to take its first vote on a short-term spending bill to head off a shutdown tomorrow night. As Phil Mattingly reported just a moment ago, Republicans apparently do not have the support they need, in other words, if a vote happens now, it would fail. Some Republicans pin the blame so far on the president.
Listen what two members of the president's own party had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm looking for something that president Trump supports, and he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You can't blame President Trump for a broken congressional system, but we need a better partner at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They might be pointing fingers at the president, no doubt most Republicans, as we talked to Congressman Garrett earlier tonight, are going to be blaming this on Democrats.
With me now -- if there is a shutdown -- two CNN political commentators who know a lot about these tough negotiations, what's at stake, who can hold things up. Former White House communications director for President Obama, Jen Psaki and former Senator Rick Santorum.
Senator Santorum, I mean, the House has voted, so, now all eyes turn to the Senate. Can you just walk us through what's likely going on behind the scenes right now?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, they're obviously trying to get to the bill. They'll have to move to proceed, which usually the Republicans, whether you're for or against what the House passed, Republicans will line up and support the leader's ability to bring up whatever bill he wants. So, that should not be a big deal.
And then it's just a matter of whether they can twist enough arms and get enough Republicans to show some unity. The whole idea is for Republicans to show solidarity --
SANTORUM: And try to get as many people, if they get to 50 or 51 would be great. If they can get to a number, then they can point the finger pretty clearly at the Democrats and say look, we put up all the votes we could to make this thing work and the other side isn't helping us. But if they come up short, I mean five, six, seven, 10 Republicans vote no, and it's a little harder for there to make the case that they're responsibly governing.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jen, I mean were you part of the Obama administration during the shutdown in 2013. Does a shutdown really work out well for anybody? Because I'm guessing both sides right now are hoping the other side gets the blame.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICALL COMMENTATOR: Shutdowns are never great politics Anderson, but there have been four, this would be the fourth shutdown in the last 25 years. Republicans have been blamed, if you look at polling, every single time, because they controlled chambers of Congress. So there's no reason to believe that would be different.
In this particular scenario tonight, there are four Republican senators who have said they wouldn't support this. So you're looking at a scenario where McConnell would have to get 13 Democrats on board to get to the 60, which is a very hard hurdle. But the Democrats I've spoken to don't want a shutdown. It's not great politics. What they want is to use this leverage to get their Republicans a larger swath of them to the negotiating table, to address DACA, to address -- to make this a longer-term spending bill. That's what they really want to get to.
COOPER: But why go for everything all at once. I mean, you know, Jen I mean -- it couldn't Democrats just say, well look, we'll get the child, you know, the CHIP program, and we'll do DACA next. Is it all just about leverage?
PSAKI: Well part of it's leverage which they don't have frequently, because Democrats don't control anything in Washington, but they feel they were promised a deal on DACA in December. That has not been delivered on. And they're talking -- this is not just a political issue for many Democrats, it's a moral issue. We're talking about 700,000 people whose lives are ng hanging in the balance. And they don't trust that if the Republicans say we'll address that in February, that it will actually happen. So they feel now is the time where they need to get a deal on this.
SANTORUM: Yes, the problem with that Anderson, is that the deal they put forward wasn't just about DACA, it was about 10 million folks who could in one way or the other stay in this country and definitely. And so, if their concern was about DACA, they should have brought a bill, a compromised bill to the president that just dealt with DACA, they didn't. So, you know, they were overreaching, and they're getting their hand slapped as a result of this. So you make up the good point. Every Democrat is voting no tonight, is voting against the bill that they support. There's nothing in this bill that Democrats oppose.
So you say well, why don't you just take what everybody agrees with and they come back and get the next -- next bite of the apple. And really let's be honest, no one is going to negotiate an immigration bill in the next 24 hours. I mean it's just way too complicated to do that. This really gives the Democrats some month to still have leverage, they're going to come back in a month, they're going to need another vote, they're going to have to make another compromise Republicans are if they're going to get Democratic votes to pass it.
Now they don't have children's health insurance if this passes as the leverage point to get Democrats to voter for. I don't really see the angle. And candidly, to just contradict Jen a little bit, the reason Republicans got blamed for the last shutdowns was because Republicans were demanding something other than a clean bill. The Democratic presidents wanted or Republican presidents in some cases wanted a clean bill, and the Congress said no, we want to put this, there's things in here we don't like and we want out, or we want to put in there. And that's why they lost. The Democrats are now the ones doing that, and I think that puts them in a real precarious situation.
COOPER: Senator Santorum, you -- I mean you heard what Lindsey Graham had to say earlier today. Do Republicans need a better partner in the White House as Senator Graham says?
SANTORUM: I think he's right -- I don't agree with what Lindsey's doing on immigration, but I think -- but I think he's right that the president -- and Mitch McConnel's right. The president needs to show more leadership of what he wants. That the -- as good as the optics were for the president in that meeting that -- that he had -- he really did not provide now any clarity as to what he was willing to sign, what he wasn't. he listed four things, but then was all over the place --
SANTORUM: -- as to where he would accept pieces of those things. He needs to be very clear about what he will and what he want to accept. And let's be honest, the four things the president is asking for are things that Democrats by and large support.
COOPER: Senator Santorum, Jen Psaki, thanks very much.
The House Intelligence Committee is just now releasing the full testimony of the co-founder of Fusion GPs. The opposition research firm behind the so-called Trump dossier. We'll take a look at new details from that ahead.
Also new reporting tonight following the money, allegedly from the presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to the porn star, what the "Wall Street Journal" is now reporting when 360 continues.
[20:38:36] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight, which just not about any other news day might be a lead. The House Intelligence Committee has just released the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's testimony and the committee's top Democrat California Congressman Adam Schiff says it reveals what he calls a serious allegations about the Trump organization, Russian nationals and the very thing that Steve Bannon reportedly warned about, which is money laundering. Our Jim Sciutto has been going through the transcript all six hours of testimony work. He joins us now. What have you been learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, the Congressman Schiff of course the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee drawing particular attention to this mention again of money laundering. Trump organization, an allegation I should make clear, Trump organization, money laundering for Russian nationals and Schiff making the point, isn't this interesting because Steve Bannon, the president's former of chief strategist, made a similar reference in Michael Wolff's book.
Now to be clear, there was in this testimony no evidence, hard evidence presented by Glenn Simpson, and in fact, he was pressed by Republicans saying, OK you're making this allegation, what can you show us to prove that this is true? So he granted that. No hard evidence he could present there, but Schiff making the additional point then, well why won't my Republican colleagues let us on the committee at least pursue this, investigate if there was anything there. That's frustration.
Now, I will say Anderson, if that's not happening in the House Intelligence Committee, we do have a fair amount of confidence that is at least a line of inquiry for Robert Mueller's investigation.
[20:40:03] COOPER: So it did not have enough evidence or any really evidence in the money laundering claims, but his testimony also focussed on the so-called dossier. What did he say about that?
SCIUTTO: That's right. Listen, look back to the dossier. The dossier was a series of memos that alleged that members of the Trump organization, the campaign, were in touch with Russian nationals, some connected with Russian intelligence involved in what was alleged to be a conspiracy, to trade information damaging information on Hillary Clinton, et cetera, help turn the election campaign. And the point Simpson made was that OK, that -- those were early intelligence leads, but if you look at what has been revealed since then, things like the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. Other surreptitious contacts, between Trump campaign, people George Papadopoulos and others, discussions of damaging information on Hillary Clinton, that that some of what was alleged in the dossier has stood up, has come out in public since then. And that's a point, just to counter what you've heard often from the president, that this is a phony dossier, et cetera.
That in fact, one of the central allegation of the dossier, there has been at least some evidence of that revealed since the dossier was first revealed.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Sciutto, appreciate it.
Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro sits on the House Intelligence Committee, he joins us now.
Congressman, these allegations that the Trump organization may have engage in money laundering with Russian nationals, can you just explain exactly what Glenn Simpson actually said about that?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTO, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well sure, you can read -- see from the transcript that he had this concern based on -- basically a year's long worth of research and not just cursory stuff but actually going into court filings and corporate filings. He had this concern about the possibility of money laundering, this idea that you might have, for example, Russians who have some how acquired money illegally and they're needing to cleanse that money, and they're investing it in Trump properties.
But, as Jim mentioned, and as you see in the transcript, he said at the end of the day that he couldn't provide hard evidence of that. He only saw signs of that, and the reason he couldn't provide hard evidence is because Fusion GPS was not a governmental entity that can subpoena different entities for information. And the House Intelligence Committee, I think is unlikely to follow up on a lot of those leads unfortunately, part of that because of the resources committed to the committee, the politics of it, but I do think that it's something that Bob Mueller should and will look into.
COOPER: So it's not something your committee would actually look into.
CASTRO: I hope that we will. But unfortunately, it's something that I would not be surprised if the committee does not
COOPER: I want to ask you about Hope Hicks' interview with your committee getting delayed. Was it out of concern about the White House and what she might be able to say, whether the White House would be trying to invoke executive privilege?
CASTRO: That's impossible for me or for other members of the committee to know. But we definitely want to speak with Ms. Hicks. She's somebody that we want to interview. There's still many people that we think need to be interviewed in order to fill out the pieces of this puzzle. You know, so I'm sure that we'll have a chance to talk to her at some point in the near future.
COOPER: Chief of Staff John Kelly on Fox News last night said that the White House never told Steve Bannon to invoke executive privilege. Bannon's own attorney said he was told by White House lawyers that Bannon was not authorized to speak about his time in the transition or in the White House. So is -- I mean is Kelly -- General Kelly trying to basically just kind of have play semantics here, I mean saying well no, we didn't tell Bannon, but it sounds from Bannon's attorney who, you know, reportedly was even calling the White House during the testimony during breaks, it seems like the White House at least talked to Bannon's attorney.
CASTRO: It could be one of a few things. First, it could be, possibly, that they didn't give the order for him that they were going to exert executive privilege. And there was a misrepresentation, although I got to imagine that's very unlikely, with the professional representation that he had. That would be a serious violation by an attorney representing Mr. Bannon to make that claim. So I think it's more likely, what often happens at the White House, which is the left and the right hand don't communicate. And you get different answers on any controversial issue, depending on who you're talking to at the White House.
COOPER: Congressman Castro, appreciate your time. Thank you.
CASTRO: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as we just said was supposed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow. She won't. We'll have more of an explanation ahead.
Also, new reporting from the "Wall Street Journal" and how an alleged cash payment from a lawyer for then candidate Trump to an adult film star came to be?
[20:43:31] COOPER: A key White House aide was supposed to testify tomorrow before the House Intelligence Committee, looking to all things Russia in the 2016 election, that, as we said, Hope Hicks who's the White House communications director will now not be appearing. Her testimony is being postponed amid a swirl of confusing signals from the White House about whether or not she would invoke the executive privilege. As former White House aide Steve Bannon did the other day before the same committee.
So there's that, and also tonight there's Glenn Simpson's money laundering allegation that Congressman Schiff is talking about. To help sort through at all, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero and Michael Zeldin.
So Carrie, can these congressional committees force these witnesses to talk short of holding them in contempt of Congress, which is almost unheard of?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they can invite them to be interviewed. And they can also subpoena them if they want, although, it seems like the House Intelligence Committee, which is Republican- led is mostly not interested in subpoenaing witnesses, although I guess they did issue a subpoena for Bannon that didn't sort of work out, because he wasn't responsive. I guess the bigger point that we've seen day to day is this House Intelligence investigation just seems disorganized. They are inviting witnesses. Witnesses come. They don't know whether or not they're going to invoke executive privilege or not. They don't know whether the witness is going to appear. And so it just strikes me as disorganized. They're not communicating either effectively with the White House's Counsel's office to understand what's going to happen. And it doesn't necessarily seem like they're deconflicting well perhaps with the special counsel's offense.
[20:50:00] COOPER: Michael, I mean the report said the president personally made the decision to curtail Bannon's testimony which comes on the Hill last night. John Kelly saying, the executive privilege has not been invoke, so the Bannon was not asked to do that. Is the White House trying to thread some kind of legal needle here? I mean is it possible to ask witness not to talk about certain things without invoking privilege?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, you have to exert executive privilege to prevent the witness from answering questions. And i don't think that chief of staff was actually in the loop. I think that Bannon was in touch with McGann and that they were operating under the president's directives to not answer questions. I think the bigger problem on the executive privilege claim is the breath of the privilege that they are asserting which is to say that they're asserting privilege for the transition period.
ZELDIN: Where, I can't find any constitutional basis for that. It seems to me that the executive privilege starts when you're the executive. And you have one executive at a time. And so I think that -- that confuse the committee. And I think that -- they're probably right to postpone Hope Hicks' testimony till they sort out with the White House. What the nature of the privilege assertion that they're going to make. And for what time period is. Then I think they have to subpoena these people. And bring them in. And if they assert the privilege improperly, then they have to take him to court. And of course, Anderson as we know in respect of Hope Hicks she's already testified before Mueller. So that's the big deal, not Congress.
COOPER: Right. Carrie, I mean adds to the possibility of President Trump being interviewed by Mueller. The president's attorney Ty Cobb was asked by CBS News, if doing so, it could be a perjury trap. He said no, but it would be foolish not to consider the possibility. Isn't it only a perjury trap if you have something to hide?
CORDERO: Well, it's a -- so-called perjury trap if he's worried about what the witness is going to say. So any person who goes in front of an interview or in front of grand jury, it's not necessarily a perjury trap. Perhaps I called this concern about the way in which the president would answer questions.
COOPER: I mean, it's understandable the White House seems concerned about who the president sits in front of to do actual interviews on television, given that the limited, you know, the network, here does interview is with basically, you can only imagine a lawyer's concern about him sitting in front of, you know, Mueller or his team.
CORDERO: Well, in any fairness any president is -- any White House counsel or advisor to the president is going to be concerned about the president sitting in this formal sitting but I would think that a lawyer for this president would be particularly concerned giving his record of lack of truth telling and other settings.
COOPER: Great --
ZELDIN: Anderson, can I just say one thing to that. Definitionally, a perjury trap is a process by which the prosecutor is bringing a witness into the grand jury purposely to trick them into saying something that's perjuries. So they could charge them with the perjury. If you bring a witness in good faith and ask them questions about an ongoing investigation and they perjure themselves, that's not a perjury trap. That's just perjury.
COOPER: Good distinction. Michael, Cobb also said that expects the Muller investigation to be wrap in four to six weeks. This is of course after he predicted, it would over in early January which also after he predicted to be over by Thanksgiving or by the end of 2017 at the latest. I mean isn't he doing his client, the president disservice by, you know, publicly or giving to him directly these dates which don't seem to be accurate?
ZELDIN: Well, I can tell you as lawyer when you have a difficult client sometimes you do things that are against your best judgment but which is what the client wants you to do. And so, in ties case I just have no idea whether he is following the direction of his client who actually gets to control the messaging not tie or tie is just, you know, very optimistic that in four to six weeks some aspect of this investigation may wrap up. Remember we talked about in the past, there are multiple work streams that Mueller has.
ZELDIN: The money laundering, the collusion, the obstruction of justice. And so maybe there's a possibility that one aspect of this thing gets, you know, in four to six weeks more or less shutdown. But I don't think it's realistic that all of them will.
COOPER: Michael Zeldin, Carrie Cordero, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Some new reporting tonight, from the "Wall Street Journal on the alleged cash payment to a porn store by the personal lawyer for President Trump. You may recall the "Journal" reported Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to a woman who goes by the name of Stormy Daniels in 2016, just weeks before the election. Now that payment according to the "Journal" was to prevent publication of an alleged affair between President Trump and Ms. Daniels, 10 years prior.
Now the "Journal" says, it has track corporate records and talk to people familiar with the matter and discovered Mr. Cohen arranged the money through a private company that he set up in Delaware called Essential Consultants back in October of 2016. The president has generously denied any affair and Cohen told the "Journals" at the reporters were quote, "wasting my time". When asked about the Delaware company.
But an e-mail so the "Journal", he didn't address the alleged $130,000 payment.
[20:55:04] We have more ahead tonight, including the resignation that just happened within the Trump administration after CNN's KFILE team uncovered a string of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-gay comments. We'll be right back.
COOPER: News tonight of another resignation from the Trump administration. As the man who is the chief of external affairs for AmeriCorp, the federal government to volunteer service organization, that can next volunteer to service opportunities and some of the nation's poorest areas. An investigation by CNN's KFILE found that the appointee Carl Higbie, we should point out has been a guest on this and other news networks had a pattern of making racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-gay comments on radio broadcasts stretching back years.
Just two examples, he told listeners black Americans had quote "lax morals" and now the time declared that he hated gay people. Apparently talking about all gay people, every one of them. Higbie was the host of a radio program called "Sound of Freedom". That does it for us. Time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo, "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you, my friend.
[21:00:00] 27 hours until the government shutsdown. It is now the Senate's turn to act. We're going to test the potential outcomes and implications in realtime with players from both sides. What do you say? Let's get after it.
I'm Chris Cuomo, welcome to Prime Time.