Return to Transcripts main page


White House Defends President Trump Amid Porter Scandal; White House Blames FBI for Lack of Security Clearances; Wash Post: Porter's Ex-Wife Dismayed by White House Response; Pres. Trump's New Budget Adds $7 Trillion to Deficit Over 10 Years. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 12, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:52] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to the second hour of "360".

On the table tonight, the White House cover-up over accused domestic abuser Rob Porter deepens. The White House says the President supports victims above all else despite the fact he hasn't mentioned them, only support for Porter. Security clearance questions that the White House for Porter and dozens of other staffers who don't -- Kushner, what the White House is saying and who it's blaming. And budget deficits and hypocrisy, a question pose to the White House Press Secretary, if the national debt is a crisis, why hit the gas pedal instead of the brake when it comes to spending?

A lot to get to. We begin with the White House with CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

So the White House doesn't seem clear on the timeline of how all these played out and they're unwilling to go into detail.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that's right. Again for another day here, starting another week here, the White House was not giving specific answers for the timeline, whereas Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, yes, there were lessons learned, they could have done things better, but she did not answer specific questions.

Namely this, did the FBI know specifically about the photographs of the injuries, of the bruised eye to the second wife of Rob Porter, and did those two ex-wives say specifically to the FBI that they were abused, and did the FBI tell someone at the White House that? We know that from our other reporting that Don McGahn, the White House counsel, knew about this the longest, and then the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also knew about some of the allegations since at least last fall.

But again today at the White House briefing, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, would not say specifically what they know. She did say, you know, that the White House does not condone and they abhor all types of domestic violence and domestic abuse. But, again, Anderson, that was not what the President said at all. He had ample opportunity to say in front of cameras today or on social media that this was what he believed. But the White House Press Secretary was out much farther than the President was in terms of calling out domestic violence.

COOPER: Yes. I think you said it was the second wife who had the black eye but it was actually the first wife, Colbie Holderness who had the black eye in that photographs.

ZELENY: Indeed, indeed.

COOPER: Do we know any more about John Kelly's standing with the President after all this?

ZELENY: You know, that is a good question, Anderson. John Kelly was in the room today with the President during that infrastructure roll out. The White House wanted to be talking about their infrastructure plan today. So John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was there front and center. We do believe that he is on somewhat better standing, but we know that the President is someone who is completely fine with being at odds with members of his own staff.

We've seen it for months now, actually nearly a year with Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. So no question John Kelly is in the hot seat but there is no sense tonight that he is on the sense, on the verge of being replaced at all. He is carrying on here. He is doing, you know, all the work that's being done. So the White House is standing behind him.

The question here though is, Anderson, how many days will these questions linger? Will the President have to answer these specific questions about those domestic violence? We, of course, have another op-ed tonight in "The Washington Post" from the other wife of Rob Porter essentially doing the same message here. So this story is not going away and the White House today did not shed as much light on it as we thought they might earlier on. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

And more new reporting tonight from "The New York Times" in reference to White House Counsel Don McGahn knew and what was told by the FBI. Earlier, I spoke with "New York Times" reporter Matthew Rosenberg.


MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: We're told that it was in November that the FBI kind of came to McGahn and said, look, there's going to be a problem here that Porter wasn't likely true on making a cut for a permanent clearance. And that McGahn kind of requested the FBI, go out and finish the investigation, let's see what happens.


COOPER: We're going to talk about with the panel tonight, with me at the table, Van Jones, Jason Miller, Ana Navarro, Symone Sanders, and Mike Shields. Van, I mean it's interesting, you know, this President we've been exposed to, his inner thoughts on just about every issue and yet it's Sarah Sanders and others who are being brought out from the White House to push this message that the President cares deeply about domestic violence. We're actually not hearing it from the President.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW HOST: He doesn't care. I mean what we know, there are two Donald Trumps. There is teleprompter Donald Trump who sometimes reads a good speech, and then there's Twitter Trump that's actually him.

[21:05:07] And the omissions and commissions that he engages in on social media is, you know, the clearest insight of his actual thoughts and feelings. I'm going to tell you right now, if this President was upset about the fact that somebody on his team had hit a woman, I don't think we'd have to guess about that. Donald Trump doesn't keep people guessing about his actual feelings. And the fact that you just haven't heard it from him and even, you know, Sarah Sanders, she kind of kept reading the words, it almost like they had had to fight inside that building over what is the right phrasing and phraseology. She was very tough to move off of it. I think Donald Trump is showing his true character and his true heart or lack thereof.

COOPER: Jason, I mean that was the argument for the President being on Twitter from all the President's supporters, it allows him to bypass the traditional media. He can go right to the American people with what's in his heart and what's in his head.

JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Anderson, when you and I were discussing this earlier, I did wish that the White House had a stronger response right when this first became public and obviously a stronger response when they first learned about these allegations. And again, I think it's important to take a look back and say, how the heck did this guy even get into the White House, how did he get into transition, and how is he a chief of staff in the U.S. Senate for a very powerful chairman of a committee for so many years?

But I think one of the things we have to also be careful here is, remember, it was Rob Porter that allegedly was the one who went and assaulted his wife who committed domestic violence which again is a crime, a crime that people are locked up for, you know, it sounds like a really, really bad guy. And I think we have to be careful that we don't cheapen what happened to them when we start trying to pull in the President and make it sound like this is something that he did. I mean this was Rob Porter who's the one who committed these alleged crimes.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nobody is trying to say that this is something that Trump did. In fact, this should have been such an easy moment for him, right? He is not the one that knew about it. He is not the one that hit the woman. He is not the chief of staff. He is not the lawyer. He is not -- he should have said this is appalling. There is no tolerance for this. This guy should have been in jail not in the Oval Office. I mean it just -- it was so simple but I think that, you know, it's all about Trump. It all goes back to Trump.

He doesn't want the self-reflection and the fact that he's been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by so many women. And it's all about him looking in the mirror and that sentiment.

But, you know, I think America is learning something. Despite of Donald Trump, you know, we don't look at the White House for moral leadership anymore. We look at each other. We look at others for moral leadership. We look at the wives, at the girlfriend for moral leadership. And, you know, I've been posting about this this weekend and I have been so -- my eyes have been opened. My heart has been warmed in a way by the avalanche of people who are sharing their stories the same way we saw with the Me Too Movement. This is a watershed moment in American history for domestic violence, for intimate partner violence.

I've been looking up the statistics. I did not know that one in four women, one in seven men have suffered physical violence by an intimate partner and I think this is a moment that's going to be a learning moment for us. You know, forget Trump. You no longer look at the White House. You no longer look at the Oval Office for any sort of leadership.

COOPER: Symone, I just want to read something that was a "Washington Post" op-ed of the Colbie Holderness, the first wife of Porter, put up a short time ago. She writes, "Then there is the just-as-serious issue of being believed and supported by those who chose to tell. Sometimes people don't believe you. Sometimes they have difficulty truly understanding what you're trying to tell them. Both Willoughby who is the second wife, and I raised our cases with clergy. Both of us had a hard time getting them to fully address the abuse taking place. It wasn't until I spoke to a professional counselor that I was met with the understanding."

I mean the issue of not being believed, it certainly -- I mean it also pertains to the President of the United States.

SYMONE SANDER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I mean look, we have to be clear about the fact that it's the gold old boys club that has protected Rob Porter. Be clear, the only reason he is currently not still handling classified information without a security clearance and working in the White House is because media reports came out. It's because the women came forward. Though the White House knew -- perfectly happy of protecting him, the only reason we are having a conversation about Donald Trump's sexual misconduct and his sexual harassment allegations is because women came forward. Folks knew.

And so it is very tough for women to come forward in this climate but we have to have a conversation about the systems that are protecting these men. The good old boys club, General John Kelly, the Attorney McGahn, all of these folks protected Rob Porter. Senator Orrin Hatch, he put out his statement noting, saying, you know, I want Rob to keep a stiff upper lip and get help. Who needs to stiff upper lip and who we need to be patting on the back of the women that came forward that had the courage to tell their stories. COOPER: Mike, I mean just again, for the -- Sarah Sanders have been saying, you know, nobody -- everybody in the White House cares about domestic violence. The President cares deeply about it. Why not have the President -- I mean they ushered the -- you know, I said this to Jason the last hour. It wasn't like when the President made a statement about Rob Porter that he was like cornered and flustered by a camera. They ushered the press pool into the Oval Office for, you know, a pre-thought out statement.

[21:10:11] MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes. Look, I mean I agree with Jason. The President should be stronger on this. There should be moral leadership from the White House.

I mean when you're talking about domestic violence, it should be easy for us all to say this is wrong, and if you're getting -- if there's credible evidence that this has happened, maybe you're not going to jail, we'll have an investigation, we're not going to work here anymore. I do think it is a little hypocritical to criticize what's Sarah Sanders says it's not being for the President.

There are times -- the press secretary speaks for the president of the United States and plenty of people will come on here and criticize them for, oh, my gosh, Sean Spicer and Sarah, they don't have a brain. They just say what the President tells them to say. She wouldn't be allowed to say that without the permission of the President. So lets just -- just to set for the record that she is speaking on behalf of the President, he should be stronger --

SANDERS: But as -- Mike, let me just say I think the President is using his surrogates to --

SHIELDS: Well, that's a different issue than saying that he should --

SANDERS: No. But he --

SHIELF: -- that it doesn't count that Sarah said it.

SANDERS: But he has not said it, and we have seen the President himself saying many times like, look, you can believe me from my Twitter account. You can't believe these people that say they speak for me. So as a press secretary --


SANDERS: But I just want to note that as a press secretary, yes, she does speak on behalf of the President. But, again, he is using Sarah Huckabee Sanders to go out there and say something that I would just say he himself is not comfortable --


NAVARRO: There's a lot of times when the President remain silent and then we interpret what he's thinking through what his surrogates and spokespeople do. In this case, he has not remained silent. And so there is no need to interpret what Sarah Sanders is saying because Donald Trump is saying it or rather not saying it. COOPER: Mike?

SHIELDS: Well, then she spoke today. And so that is the latest word from the White House, from the official spokesperson of the president of the United States. Look, I mean --

NAVARRO: What has changed today between --

COOPER: Let him finish.

NAVARRO: -- when he twitted?

SHIELDS: On the idea that there's some sort of conspiracy or the people knew about this and it was covered up and that sort of thing, how many people here even knew that there was a staff secretary in the White House for the last 16 years under the previous presidents? I didn't even know that --

COOPER: I did.

SHIELDS: -- until the transition. I didn't know that was a position that mattered. I can tell you that staff secretary is not a senior position that people would --

SANDERS: Mike, they are handling classified -- Mike, come on now. They are handling classified information. No, you cannot excuse this.

SHIELDS: They are bringing documents in to the President to sign it and then take it back --

SANDERS: Mike, I think it's a little egregious.

SHIELDS: No, let me finish my point.

SANDERS: Just to be clear, it's a little egregious.


COOPER: Well, let's just take a break, regroup, and you can start off your point --


COOPER: -- when we come back. We'll take a quick break. We'll continue the conversation, next.

Also ahead, why the White House says law enforcement is to blame for the fact that dozens of staffers don't have security clearances.


[21:16:05] COOPER: As we reported, the White House today, Sarah Sanders repeatedly insisted that when it comes to domestic violence, the President is focused on two things, victim, something that he actually hasn't mentioned at all, and the notion of due process for the accused. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Above all, the President supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process. Everyone should be treated fairly and with due process. He certainly supports the victims of domestic violence above all else and believes that they should -- everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.

The President's simply saying that there should be a due process. Supporting due process for any allegation is not tone deaf. There should be a due process. But the President also supports due process because I think anybody here, if they were accused of something, would want the opportunity to go through due process.


COOPER: Mike, I mean is it a little hypocritical for the President to be focusing on due process when in front of police departments months ago he talked about you don't -- you know, don't put your hand and treat the suspects so gently when you put them in a police vehicle and when, you know, the Central Park Five were arrested, he put out full page ads calling for the death penalty of these teenagers who were innocent.

SHIELDS: Yes. I mean especially I saw the segment on the Central Park Five. Look, I mean for proponents of criminal justice reform like myself, who are happy that the White House is going down that path, let's hope that this is an evolution and a new position that the President wants to keep pushing for, which is due process as a part of criminal justice reform. That is something the White House is working on.

Just to finish the point I was making before, the White House is paying a heavy, heavy political price right now for having this person on their staff, right? The idea that that's worth it, that you would know about this and go, you know what, we could -- one of these guys -- this guy is beating up women. This could crush us. This is a massive political liability. We've all worked in political organizations. It takes a lot less than that to get rid of somebody you think could cause you a political problem.

The idea that you go, no, this is the staff secretary, we can't lose him. I just find it -- they haven't handled it correctly, the President should speak out more and see about this --

COOPER: But isn't --

SHIELDS: -- when Don McGahn's office got it, they should have investigated it and not left it to law enforcement. Try and made --

COOPER: But isn't that the argument of a normal White House that, yes, in a normal White House that calculus would be made. But this is a White House where Omarosa is walking around without her shoes and --

SHIELDS: No, but that's my point. COOPER: -- brining her in her wedding day.

SHIELDS: That's actually my point.

COOPER: But -- so a guy like Rob Porter who is a Rhodes Scholar and well educated maybe, you know, General Kelly latched onto him. It's like, you know what, he actually is really important because we've got this, you know --


COOPER: -- we got Sebastian Gorka who can't get a security clearance.

SHIELDS: I think it's more that the fact that Omarosa was in there shows that there is a bungling of things, that those things aren't handled correctly --

COOPER: Right. Well that's --

SHIELDS: There's a level of incompetence that went on here more than there was a let's turn a blind eye to domestic violence that we know as --

COOPER: Or let's protect a guy who actually doesn't seem incompetent and because everybody else surround here seems to be like in a clown circus.

NAVARRO: But I think -- you know, I think that's -- you know, I go back to this learning moment. And I remember your interview with Jennifer Willoughby last week. And I think this is one of the things that we all have to reflect on. The domestic abusers, there's no stereotype, right? They're not all in wife beater tank tops and, you know, looking like whatever, you know, the ecentral casting looks like. Some of them are Rhodes Scholars. Some of them went to Harvard. Some are Mormon, some are Catholic, some are atheist. There is no -- look, there is no type. And we have got to learn that as a society because we have got to be more supportive of the victims and be more -- be a lot tougher.

SHIELDS: And her point was you can be good at your job. You can be good at your job and --


MILLER: The process really let the President down here. When the fact is that Rob Porter someone who fooled a lot of people for a long time, and the fact that he was able to even get this close to the President, I think, is very problematic.

COOPER: But multiple people in the White House didn't know about this. I mean --

JONES: Yes. I mean to what -- I just want to say somebody who worked in the White House for six months, people wear their credentials around their neck. You don't have to guess who is, you know, cleared to be in this wing or that wing. You don't have to guess who has their final status, who doesn't have the final status. That's all clear on the credentials.

[21:20:03] And people play games in terms of like, you know, if you -- if you're feeling a little bit sheepish because, you know, you do all this stuff. So I'm telling you, the idea -- I mean you're very kind but I think the idea that people were not aware that this guy, what hadn't been cleared and that in a year, nobody had asked a question, how come home boy ain't cleared because home boy should be cleared, that's just not possible.

COOPER: Although in a White House where Jared Kushner isn't clear -- I mean the -- is the --

JONES: I just think --

COOPER: -- normal --

JONES: It just seems to me --

COOPER: -- order of things.

JONES: It seems to me that there's an attempt here and maybe it's well intentioned to paint the President as somebody who is, you know, operating in good faith and that it's a conspiracy theory to suggest that he may have been aware of this and not done anything. I don't think that's a conspiracy theory.

MILLER: He didn't know until last week.

JONES: Well, listen, I think his Chief of Staff certainly knew. I think that the people who have been complaining about this situation through the FBI, you know the wives knew told the FBI. I just think that I don't understand your desire here on this particular point. I'm trying to understand it. To present the President as somebody who, you know, maybe as a huge champion for women's rights, a huge champion against domestic violence, he just forgot to mention it. I just don't understand --


SHIELDS: Look, I just criticized -- I think the President -- I think we should have moral clarity of the White House. I think the President should speak out against domestic violence. It's actually not hard -- not a hard ask to ask the president of the United States to say, we don't want domestic violence and people that are on my staff that commit domestic violence, credible evidence of it, they should go through due process on the outside of the White House. That's what I would want the President to say.

My point is the idea that they were all in on this and they just kind of let this guy hang out in the Oval Office knowing that he had beaten women up. I also think it's a partisan thing that doesn't -- now, they've bungled it and they've left themselves open to that attack because they haven't handled this correctly. I believe that hey, he doesn't have this clearance, what's going on? 2 The counsel's office has it. What's happening there? I don't know. Go talk to them. Counsel's office, the FBI is investigating something. OK. Well, when they come up with something let me know.

COOPER: Right.

SHIELDS: Those are the kinds of things -- I don't believe they're happening anymore.


COOPER: But the problem is Sarah Sanders when asked about this now for days, point blank, she just -- she's playing games with words. You know, she says, well, I'm not going to get into -- you know, when asked specifically when did Kelly know? Well, he -- they -- we all fully knew, you know -- well, no, that's not the question.

When did Kelly know? Well, I'm not going to get into specifics on this. Same with Don McGahn today. Well, I'm not going to get into specifics, but we all became aware of it. And then when pressed on who is real, she just talking --

SHIELDS: I believe they had multiple chances to do the right thing --

JONES: Right.

SHIELDS: -- and screwed it up multiple times. There's no question about that. We wouldn't be here --

JONES: Right.

NAVARRO: Let me tell you, there's something that I -- you know, I just can't excuse Donald Trump for and anybody that's, you know, trying to explain him away where he termed this a mere allegation. When you have got two ex-wives, one ex-girlfriend, picture evidence of a black eye, police restraining orders, this is not a mere allegation. This is a very strong, credible case for domestic abuse. We have seen it.

He made that statement after that picture came out. You can argue that John Kelly didn't know that he made that statement before he saw the picture. But for people to make that statement after they saw Colbie Holderness' black eye takes an enormous amount of callousness.

MILLER: Well, and that's if I'm the president I want to know if anybody knew the full extent of these allegations, which I think are absolutely incredible. And if somebody did know the full extent and they didn't report that to the president, then if I'm the president, I want to get rid of him.

SANDERS: They did know. The FBI called the White House counsel to tell them.

MILLER: We don't know the full extent.

SANDERS: The FBI called the White House staffer --

COOPER: You know, let's --


COOPER: Let's talk to somebody who used to run the FBI -- the CIA to learn about the security clearance process. We're going to do that just a minute. There's much more to discuss, including those long delayed White House security clearances. We'll talk to General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA.


[21:27:26] COOPER: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says in effect don't blame us for the delay in obtaining security clearance for its staff. It's on the FBI and other intelligence agencies. But in a statement issued late last week, the FBI says in effect not so much.

Quote, "The FBI does not grant, deny, or otherwise adjudicate -- indicate on behalf of these agencies, nor does it make any security clearance recommendations. After the FBI completes the background investigation, it provides the information to the agency adjudicator authority who determines whether to grant or deny the security clearance." That's a bureaucratic handful of course, but it means essentially its up to the White House in this case to clear its personnel once the background check is completed and the information is handed over.

Joining me now is Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and former director of the National Security Agency.

So General Hayden, I mean the Trump administration is essentially blaming, you know, FBI or intelligence agencies that these are ongoing investigations. Can you just explain how it would work, how long an investigation would normally take, and who gets that information in the case of staff at the White House?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CIA & NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Sure. So first of all, Anderson, anybody who's gone through this process knows that it's invasive, it's cumbersome, it's overly bureaucratic. It is a very unpleasant life experience.

And frankly, I was willing to cut the administration a great deal of slack because, number one, they were so off the mark in naming their people. Second, a lot of people like me did not volunteer or were not asked to be part of the administration. In other words, people with a clearance history don't make up a significant portion of this population.

And, frankly, some of the folks there have very complex pasts that have to be looked at, like Jared Kushner and all his financial dealings. So for the longest time, I was saying, you know, this is fairly normal. It's more complicated than average. They probably do need a lot more time. But now after 13 months, I'm beginning to move in the direction of a position that there are some folks in this process have an interim clearance because there's still work to be done. But, Anderson, there are probably some folks in this process who have an interim clearance because they're never going to get a permanent security clearance. COOPER: Because of allegations, because of things that the FBI has found?

HAYDEN: Yes. Now, keep in mind, we're not talking about guilt here. We need to put that off to the side. What we're talking about here is risk or vulnerability. Is there something in this individual's past that makes him or her particularly more vulnerable to exploitation by a foreign service, makes them more vulnerable to perhaps a character deficiency that they shouldn't have and be entrusted with this kind of information?

[21:30:05] COOPER: So --

HAYDEN: So this is fundamentally a question about do I want this talent, and am I willing to embrace these risks?

COOPER: So would the FBI upon finding out interviewing the two wives or Rob Porter, finding out this information and then finding out whatever they have, would they turn that over to somebody at the White House?

HAYDEN: Oh, absolutely. They would deliver it and frankly would probably, as I think the public record already suggests, call a great deal of attention to this because this is not something that you normally see in the portfolio of someone with whom we entrust this kind of information. So I can understand why this was kind of, I think, put off to the side, we'll just live with the interim clearance, which of course the President or someone working on behalf of the President has the right to grant.

COOPER: So somebody in the White House would have made the determination, all right, we'll just go with an interim with this guy, or is it possible they would ask the FBI to just continue investigating while they continued with an interim clearance?

HAYDEN: They would. And either that's the reality or that's the process cover for what's going on here, they can't make it go away.

COOPER: Right. Because that's what the White House keeps saying now, is that oh, this is still ongoing which --

HAYDEN: Yes, sure.

COOPER: -- I don't understand.

HAYDEN: No, no. I think the White House could, at least in terms of the paper trail, say that this investigation is not closed. But, Anderson, there's no amount of investigation that's going to make the testimony of the two wives and the girlfriend or the picture go away.

COOPER: And those reports, do you know how widely they would be seen in the White House?

HAYDEN: You know, I really don't know. And, in fact, what we may be seeing here -- and I think it was suggested on your previous panel here -- this probably has a lot less to do with malevolence than it does with in attention. I can see John Kelly, for example, focused on this individual as a high performance individual that he needs someone with whom he has established a personal bond of trust, in whom he has confidence, and so I could understand why there might be a lack of energy to go back over here and begin pulling up these other old rocks.

COOPER: But if John Kelly, who obviously has a long, you know, distinguished military background, is working with somebody who does not have a full security clearance, I mean, again, I guess none of us can get in John Kelly's head, but you would think somebody of that experience would want to at least know, why is my closest, you know, aide not have a security clearance?

HAYDEN: I think that's right, and I understand it. Anderson, remember what's going on here, we're using a very bureaucratic process through third persons

to establish a very human factor here -- trust, all right? And so you've got a bureaucratic process to create trust, and I suspect in many instances, what you have over here is a human process that actually has created in its own way the trust that the bureaucratic process was designed to build.

COOPER: Just briefly, I just want to turn to the dueling memos coming out of the House Intelligence Committee.


COOPER: You do not want the Republican memo released saying it puts not just the FBI but every Intelligence Agency at risk. I'm wondering now what you think of, you know, that was released, the White House says this Democratic memo went through the same handling and problems arose. Do you buy that?

HAYDEN: Yes, absolutely predictable. So you know that the Republican memo is going to come out, it's filled with innuendo. Frankly, it kind of invalidated itself in its own context. I mean it was kind of a nothing-burger. But it's out there now, and a lot of people are waving it around, saying it proves certain things. And the only counter punch to that, Anderson, is to reveal the entire rest of the field of data, which the Republicans would have known going in, would have been a very difficult proposition on the part of the Democrats. So now the Democrats are in a very uncomfortable position of pushing against what I think are probably very legitimate classification concerns in order to push back against, again, what I believe to be a very illegitimate accusation in the first place.

COOPER: General Hayden, appreciate your time. Thanks.

Our panel is going to be back right after the quick break.


[21:37:58] COOPER: I just spoke with General Michael Hayden about the lack of security clearances at the White House. Up to 40 staffers do not have security clearances, including the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Today, the White House tried to pass the buck to law enforcement intelligence agencies. Back now with the panel.

I mean, it is interesting here from Hayden who says essentially they turn over the information and then it's up to each agency to decide.

JONES: Yes. And I thought the most important thing he said was drawing that distinction. It's -- it is not uncommon to have people there who have not been fully approved. I was there for six weeks, seven weeks waiting for my -- that's normal. But once it's clear that the FBI is not going to approve you because you are a security risk in their eyes, it's normal for you to be out. The idea that there's this whole new category of people who just, y'all ain't never going to be approved but here's some security documents anyway, that is new. It's weird. It's not normal. It's bad. It's risky. It's dangerous.

No matter what anybody else tries to say, oh, well, this is a new way of doing government. There's a reason that wed do it the way we've done it because I hate to keep pointing this out, if somebody can't pass the FBI vet, that means they could be blackmailed, they could be bribed. There's something about them that history has proven people in that category are dangerous to our country. This is not just, you know, hey, it's a nice way to do it. It's a suggestion. This is national security being put at risk.

COOPER: Michael, I think you agree?

SHIELDS: Yes. I mean, I actually agree with that. I mean look in to Symone's point, there's some women that came forward in the Rob Porter -- there was actually three. One was not public and behind show but she showed courage as well. All three of them did. And, but it did work hand in hand with the process because he was contacting them saying, hey, quit saying this because you're affecting my -- I'm not going to get a security clearance.

COOPER: In fact, he was trying to influence his second wife, Jennie, about, you know, retracting --

SHIELDS: You then going to get -- this had been flagged and was probably at that point being investigated to see, OK, what can we do about this? It is not uncommon for this process to take that long until the fall before this stuff starts to come up. I mean there is a massive -- we love the CIA and the FBI, but there are attached to them massive bureaucracies through Homeland Security, the CIA, the FBI.

[21:40:06] I know people in the White House who have waited even until now to get security clearances. They filled out all the paper works. Some of them have clearance before, and they still have to go get re- finger printed and have to go through the phone calls again. It does take a long time to really maybe something good that would come out of this is some reform of the whole process because it is national.

NAVARRO: And I know, I've been -- two things I will say. One is one of the things that enrages me about this is just the level of effort that these women went through to get their stories out. I mean, look, she got -- the girlfriend got through to the White House counsel. You're not calling Domino's to order a pizza. Getting through to the White House counsel is very, very difficult. She told her story. For women who are survivors to tell their story is a very difficult thing, and they did. And the process failed them. This White House failed them.

The other thing is I am dismayed by the deafening silence from Republican leadership. If this were happening in a Democratic White House with Republicans in charge of Congress, you bet that they would be lighting their hair on fire right now. The Oversight Committee, the Intel Committee would be demanding to know how it is possible that somebody that could have been blackmailed and that was vulnerable could have had, you know, sensitive information, security information in his hands.

Two days, three days after Rob Porter left, another guy left the White House because he had no security clearance and because there were allegations against him. I can't remember his name now. Maybe you know him. The speechwriter. You know --

JONES: Sorensen.

NAVARRO: -- so, how many more of these are there, and how come the Republican Congress, who is international security, who cares about law, who cares about national security and security clearances, is not saying a damn thing about this and allowing this to go on unchecked? That, to me, is dismaying.

SANDERS: And because even these are the same Republicans who basically barbecued Hillary Clinton at the stake because they said she was putting national security at risk with her server and a whole lot of other things. Huma Abedin, they alleged that she was hand ling classified information on a non-government-issued laptop. So, I too have questions. What Congress, I keep reminding people, Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They are to work with the president where appropriate and hold them accountable where appropriate. The Republican Congress is failing us. They are not doing their job.

MILLER: So, I think there's an important thing to keep in mind here is that they're two different things. If the FBI and law enforcement is being very thorough and they're going through, say, business dealings, so they're going through potential conflicts of interest. I want them to go through and make sure that they've completely vetted this. That's different than what we saw with Rob Porter. If there's an allegation of criminal conduct, then they should be gone immediately. There shouldn't be, hey, we need to finish the rest of the investigation. Like, no, we don't need to investigate all three instances. I mean if there's one instance of a criminal activity like that, then they should be gone.

But I think the other thing, too, is there does need to be some credit given to some of the other vetting that we've seen from the rest of the administration, where I think for the folks they put forward for these Senate confirmed positions, I think they've done a very good job of vetting and they know they don't even get nominated until they pass their FBI vetting and I think the --

SANDERS: You mean concept?

MILLER: -- I think the White House has done a really good job of that and they should get some credit.

COOPER: We're going to get more with the panel. President Trump unveiling his proposed budget. The deficit could soar. Some fellow Republicans where officials spending hoax to crime fell. More ahead.


[21:47:33] COOPER: President Trump has sent Congress a new budget that spends a lot more on the military and slashes Medicare and other social programs. The proposal also adds at least another $7 trillion to the national debt over a decade. A definite retreat from last year's promise to balance the federal budget. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about that today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the national debt is a crisis, why hit the gas pedal instead of the brake when it comes to spending it?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, the President, one of the biggest and top priorities of the President's first year in office was to pass the tax cuts and jobs act, which we think will have a big impact on that moving forward. The President also knows that one of the most important jobs he has is protecting this country, therefore, the need for rebuilding our military that had been ignored for so long, infrastructure, focusing on defeating the opioid crisis and a border wall.


COOPER: So she avoided answering the question just in case anybody thought they missed it. Jason, I mean, what about this budget? I mean, you know, like what happened to the Tea Party Republicans and the -- all the talk about the deficit and --

JONES: And Obama the socialist that was getting all the money, destroying America.

MILLER: We know that presidential budgets always kind of a rough guy. With know once it gets to Capitol Hill, they're going to do their own thing any ways.

JONES: But there's --


MILLER: I'm sorry what?

JONES: But the statement of Dow, he is the president of the --


MILLER: That's why I liked how the President put the emphasis on the military. I think that was good, finally, making the investments that we need to there.

SANDERS: Has always been.

MILLER: But the budget, the one that was presented, it's too big. And I think once it gets to the hill, I think some things are going to get changed there. I think where we'll see the real work that has going to come in this as far as reducing the scope of government and stopping some of the growth rate here is what Mick Mulvaney is doing at OMB. I think he's doing a fantastic job with paring back and with these agencies. And that's where we going to see the real action here. And so look, this budget that was put forward and they kind of have do it but watch what Mulvaney does.

Black: Of course, that's inside baseball of the OMB maybe all these in preparing, but it's a fundamental statement of values from this President. And he basically is saying, I don't care about deficits so -- and he's going to have a party who beat the crap out of Obama when he -- the deficit spending to get us out of the great recession. That was socialism. That was terrible. That was irresponsible. Oh, my god. So now --

MILLER: So I think you're wrong, where I think you're wrong is I think the economy is going to grow in a much better rate. And I think this is going to be --

JONES: Better than surviving the great recession? I mean, we --

[21:50:00] MILLER: There's not, I think the economy especially with these tax cuts and the way we see it taking off --

JONES: Deficits.

MILLER: -- and this is --

JONES: I love your pro-growth stand, but you guys were talking about --

MIILER: You don't deny the numbers though.

JONES: So all of thing -- you guys were talking about the importance of deficit reduction. I remember when the Tea Party marched hundred of thousands down the streets of D.C. We'd never seen a conservative march of that flight probably in the American history saying the deficits have to be brought down. Where is that passion now?

MILLER: And part of it is you wanted to socialize all of health care.


MILLER: That was a big part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to tell Van this.

JONES: I'm always here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know why you're looking a gift horse in the mouth. I mean, the messaging that this budget provides for Democrats in 2018 in just a few minutes about what it does to PBS, what it does to the poor, what it does to Medicaid. You know, you could go on and on. What it does to foreign policy, foreign aid, to poor countries, I think it is manna from heaven for Democrats running in 2018.


SHIELDS: Yes, I mean, this is -- Obama said he was going to shut Gitmo. And we had drone strikes. I mean there's things that he run on the party was an anti-war party and then President Obama did things in office that his liberal base didn't like, because now he was President. Look, this President openly said he is OK with debt. He said he has leveraged debt in the business world. So that's kind of how he looks at it. That's in conflict with the Tea Party and a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill. There's going to be a fight. I think the White House knows that.

So they're starting off with their priority saying we want to spend money which the Democrats should love because they love spending money. He's going to take it to the hill and Republican, the conservatives in the House especially are going to say, no, we're going to pair that and cut it down, because we don't want to spend all that money. That's legislating, there's actually legislating going on after the budget comes out.

So one thing I will add to this is that the federal government took in more than was expected in January because the economy is going so well. Something the CBO always gets wrong. A good economy in the tax cuts brings more revenue into the government and it won't be as big a problem as it is right now.

SANDERS: OK, but these tax cuts were absolutely tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, yes. More people got one-off check and so you see $1000 bonuses here, $1000 check over there, $180 over there, but that is not long term for, you know, Poke (ph), Keisha (ph), Jose (ph), Maria (ph) and everyone else. It's the corporations and companies that are benefiting from the long-term tax bill.


SANDERS: When we talk about the budget, though, these budget cuts, Medicare and Medicaid you're literally robbing Poke, Keisha, Peter, Paul and everyone else to pay the corporations --

MILLER: Are you saying people aren't getting raises and bonuses?

SANDERS: I am saying -- I am saying, folks aren't getting bonuses, but they're not getting -- this is not long-term, sustained dollars in folks' pockets.

COOPER: Right.

SANDERS: The wealth gap in America is the largest it's ever been -- those largest ever been in the history of this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lot of people will be happy on the 15th and 1st.

SANDERS: All right.


COOPER: All right, thank everybody on the panel.


Coming up, a hot take on the U.S. Olympic team from someone who thinks it needs more straight white people. That's actually happened. "The Ridiculist" is next.


[21:56:26] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And in these times in which we live with the President who has defended some Neo-Nazis, referred to African countries as s-holes. Defended man who have been accused as he has a sexual harassment and assault, defended an alleged pedophile -- domestic violence. It's pretty tough for anyone else to manage to say something that manages to cuts through all that nasty noise. It's difficult but it's not impossible.

So tonight, we congratulate John Moody. Mr. Moody is the executive editor and executive vice president of Fox News. Now, as a rule, I try to avoid cable news sniping but in this case, I just couldn't let this go. So Mr. Moody would like you to know that he has a major issue with the United States Olympic team. In his opinions it seems team USA is just to darn diverse. Mostly, too black, or maybe Hispanic and too gay and I'm not making this up.

Mr. Moody wrote a column that was posted on a column titled, "In Olympics, let's focus on the winner of the race, not the race of the winner.". The first paragraph the column read and I quote," Unless it's changed overnight the motto of the Olympics since 1894 has been faster, higher, stronger. It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to darker, gayer, different. If your goal is to win medals, that won't work."

Different -- Olympics, it's not about motto for gay bar, I gave you that, but I will just assume those aren't Mr. Moody's favorite watering holes. Apparently, John Moody likes his winter Olympics like he likes his orthodontia, straight, white and all the same. Why is John so moody about our Olympic athletes? Why is he clutching his pearls in fear and outrage of the team USA?

Well, it turns out that out of 244 athletes on the team, two of them have had the courage to say openly and proudly that they are gay, two out of 244. And as for the darker part of Mr. Moody's Olympic fever dream, guess how many of the 244 athletes are African-American? Ten, 10 out of 244. So that's a grand total of 12 athletes in Moody's darker, gayer and different nightmare, 12 out of 244.

Now, what really seems to have Mr. Moody swooning like an antebellum lady on a hot summer day is that the U.S. Olympic Committee's director of diversity and inclusion was quoted of saying that they are not quite where they want to be in representing every American. In his column Moody worries that Olympians aren't being chosen because they are the best of what they do, but because they're the best publicity for" Our current obsession with having one each from column a, b and c.

Now, Mr. Moody has firmly planted his foot in column d. D, as in, does this guy seriously have so little to do that he is sitting around and worrying that people who have no athletic ability get put on an Olympic team just because they're gay or African-American? And d, as in, does it strike any one else as usually and appropriate that a guy who is as high up in a news organization, I don't quite understand what he is title actually means, that a guy high up in a news organization is upset about another organization striving for diversity? Even Fox News had to admit this column was beyond the pale. And I do mean pale. They took it off the website and issued a statement saying it did not reflect the views of the company.

Mr. Moody's comments might be funny if he was some crank standing on the street corner I'm Sixth Avenue outside Fox and Friends, trying to get assigned on camera with a sign thing darker, gayer, different, but he is actually inside the building in a top position, an executive editor and executive vice President. And again, I don't know exactly what he does, doesn't sound like he does much. But as a gay man, if I was working under him, I sure would not feel all that welcome. But he is always welcome on our Ridiculist.

Thanks for watching "360". Time to turn it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.

[22:00:08] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is "CNN TONIGHT." I am Don Lemon. Why do we keep asking why the President won't say what spokes people and surrogates are saying about domestic abuse?