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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview with James Woolsey; House GOP Drops Plan to Gut Ethics Panel After Trump Tweet; Sources: Trump News Conference on Business Ties January 11; Trump Claims Intel Briefing on Hacking Delayed; Treasury Pick Mnuchin Faces Heat Over OneWest Foreclosures; Sen. Schumer Vows to Hold Trump Accountable; Sen. Schumer's Plan To Fix Defeated Democratic Party. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 3, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, breaking news on President-elect Trump's long delayed plan for unplugging himself from the family business and potential conflicts of interest. There's new reporting on his ties to the convicted felon Joey No Socks. A 180 on House GOP plans to put the watchdogs, keeping every member of Congress -- or to gut the watchdogs, keeping every member of Congress, Republicans and Democrats honest.
That and breaking news on Russian efforts to meddle in the election which is where we begin with late word that a new classified report is about to hit and the measure is being taken to make sure that Donald Trump gets the best possible look at it.
CNN's Pamela Brown has late details. She joins us now.
So, what are you learning about this report?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is a comprehensive review of the election hacks in Russia ordered by President Obama recently. There will be two versions, the classified version and the declassified version.
We're told by officials, the version that put together by the intelligence community is expected to be done this week. That will be the classified version. And then, there's the one that will be made public that basically has this declassified information, newly declassified information, to make the case about why the intelligence community believes the Russian government is to blame.
So, we're being told by officials that this will include information that we haven't heard about before and basically back up the intelligence community's assessment in terms of why it believes Russia was the perpetrator. We're told that there, of course, will be intelligence that's classified that will not be in the public report because officials don't want to give away sources and methods. But it will contain a lot more information than what we've heard so far. And Trump is expected to get his briefing on the classified report as early as this Friday we're told, Anderson.
COOPER: He's also getting some pretty high-level briefers.
BROWN: Yes, that's right. Chief spy James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan are just a couple of the lead intelligence officials briefing Trump. This was per Trump's request. It's not necessarily unusual for an incoming president to be briefed by the top leaders in the intelligence community, but as we know what is unusual is the fact that this high-profile briefing comes after months of Trump publicly questioning the intelligence community's assessment as recently as this past weekend, saying he's skeptical about it.
So, it will be interesting to see, Anderson, if he walks away after this briefing any more convinced about Russia's role. We heard today from the Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby that the U.S. is 100 percent about Russia's role, that the information is rock solid, so a lot of us will be interested to see what Trump's reaction is to this report.
COOPER: All right. Pam, thanks for your reporting. Pam Brown.
Going into this, of course, we were waiting for the president-elect to make good on a commitment he made New Year's Eve on the subject. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a pretty hard thing to prove. So, it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don't know and so, they cannot be sure of this situation.
REPORTER: Like what? What do you know that other people don't know?
TRUMP: You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said you'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday. That was three days ago. And as a great band once said, "Tuesday's Gone", which leaves tomorrow for Mr. Trump to do what he says there.
We've got breaking news on that scene. Jim Acosta has the latest. He joins us.
Do we know when and if we will actually hear from Donald Trump on this? And was it clear that he was saying, meaning that he would announce something or was he talking about the report that would be put out?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it sounds like he was talking about something he would say that he would tell the public on Tuesday or Wednesday. But I'm told by a top transition official that Donald Trump will not be making any formal remarks about Russian hacking in the 2016 election tomorrow. That's despite the fact that he told reporters as you heard in that video right there that he would have more to say on this, that he knows more than what the public knows about Russian hacking in the 2016 election that he would be talking about this on, quote, "Tuesday or Wednesday".
Well, tomorrow is Wednesday, and that is not expected to happen, according to this aide who says that, well, anything can happen with Donald Trump. So, there is a slight caution there that he could potentially decide at the last second to say something tomorrow about this. But at this point, there are no plans in the works or any kind of formal remarks on this.
And, Anderson, just to jump on what Pamela was saying a few moments ago, I am told by a Trump transition official that he is expected to meet with intelligence community leaders towards the end of this week. And that is when he's expected to receive that final report from the intelligence community on Russian hacking in the 2016 election. One of these officials told me, Anderson, that it wouldn't just be appropriate at this point for them to say more about this until they get that report.
They feel like this whole allegation and intelligence community finding about Russian hacking has been politicized and used as a way to delegitimize Donald Trump's election in the 2016 race.
[20:05:01] But you heard Donald Trump over the weekend calling into question these intelligence community findings that Russia was hacking and releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the election. But you heard Donald Trump say over the weekend he has as much faith in that as when the intelligence community said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So, he is coming into this meeting when it happens this week as a big skeptic, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate the update.
Perspective now from James Woolsey. He served as director of central intelligence in the early Clinton administration. He is senior adviser to the president-elect, to Donald Trump.
Ambassador Woolsey, thanks so much for being with us.
First of all, do you know if President-elect Donald Trump is, in fact, planning on making any kind of an announcement? As he puts it, what he knows that others don't about the hacking investigation?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I don't and I would leave it up to him and his people who work on press statements and so forth to carry that information. I don't know.
COOPER: Yesterday, you said that while you do believe that the Russian hacked you also believe others could be behind it as well. Today, some sources are telling CNN that there's no indication other countries like China or Iran played a role because other countries have specific digital footprints.
But do you still believe that others could have been involved?
WOOLSEY: Yes and it's important to keep a couple of things clear. The word "hacking" covers a multitude of possibilities -- everything from looking into a system to see what's there and then going away, to making changes to the voting machines so your side wins. And so far, I think most Americans would regard hacking into voting machines as meaning you're making some changes in what the totals were. But that apparently has not occurred here.
WOOLSEY: There's no indication that it's occurred. They apparently looked for it to see if it had happened and did not believe it had.
A footnote to this, by the way, we do need to fix our voting machines so that two and four years from now, they cannot be essentially falsely programmed by a hacker.
But, so if --
COOPER: Third option is in hacking, which as you said one is affecting voting machines, which there's no evidence of that, the other looking around to gather information. The other is what some believe happened which is them or somebody looking -- getting e-mails and releasing them, kind of weaponizing the information, whatever the results may have been. That's up for debate.
WOOLSEY: I don't know what it means to weaponize the information. If information was turned loose and as a result of that when found what the Democratic National Committee was doing to Bernie Sanders to tilt things against him, then fiddle on the Democratic National Committee. And I'm sure that was embarrassing to them.
But it's a little hard to make that be -- I think a salient example of how the election was changed.
COOPER: But -- I mean, I guess the argument is, and again I'm not saying this necessarily affected the outcome of the election, but certainly there are Democrats who believe that just the embarrassing, you know, drip, drip of information of what, you know, all the stuff that was revealed about the DNC may have had some sort of impact. Again, I think it's an arguable point about what kind of impact it had.
WOOLSEY: You know, my understanding is that the FBI worked with the Republican National Committee and the RNC let them in to do analysis and figure out what was going on and if they were being hacked and if there was any information on -- they could find and so forth. Whereas the DNC didn't or couldn't do that because they were under investigation for other things at the time.
But if one of two parties has said to the FBI come in, here are the keys to the kingdom, look at anything you want, and the other has not done, that it seems to me it's a little odd to be more suspicious of the one that is being open.
COOPER: Have you, as one of the president-elect's senior advisers, expressed to him that -- you do believe the Russians are behind this, you believe other actors could be out there as well, have you expressed that to Donald Trump? WOOLSEY: My view -- behind is I think a bad word here, because I
believe and I think probably a lot of people believe that the Russians did something. And it is entirely plausible if something like that occurs and a lot of hacking is going on in the sense of looking into something that other countries could have been involved and it would be surprising to me if they were not.
But I don't think that that means that there was anything untoward in an attempt to change the outcome of the election either by fiddling with the machines or any other way. I don't understand how what happened is supposed to have changed the outcome of the election. It seems to be a real stretch.
COOPER: And is -- I mean, what you just said, and you said that to President-elect Trump as well?
[20:10:03] WOOLSEY: I've worked for four presidents over the years, two Republicans, two Democrats --
COOPER: I know what you're going to say.
WOOLSEY -- I didn't tell anybody what advice I give them or say to them, and nor what they say me and I'm not going to start here and now.
COOPER: I kind of knew you would say that, but I thought I'd have to ask anyway.
WOOLSEY: Yes, right.
COOPER: You also said yesterday that there is a possibility that President-elect Trump is playing with us or the media. What exactly do you mean by that?
WOOLSEY: We were talking about the campaign at the time.
WOOLSEY: I think he goes into a different mode of operation when he's before a large crowd and he's playing to the crowd than he does, for example, when he's in a small meeting and I've been in a couple of those with him of just a very few people. He's very reasonable, straightforward, good questions, interesting answers. He's not like he is standing before 50,000 millennials and leading them in cheers.
COOPER: As we heard in Pam Brown's reporting, the president-elect is expected to be briefed on the review into hacking by both CIA Director John Brennan and DNI chief, excuse me, Director of National Intelligence Chief James Clapper. The fact that the leaders of the intelligence community will be briefing him, does that say anything? I mean, should people read -- does that speak to the gravity of the situation? Or is that just a pretty common place thing?
WOOLSEY: I don't know. This whole situation we're in is different than what we've seen before. And people are interested in this issue and it's an important one. I see nothing particularly odd or wrong at all about having the top two people in the intelligence community take part in the briefing.
My hunch is if they're technical subjects at issue, you're going to find that somewhat lower-level people make more of a contribution than the people at the top of the organizations.
COOPER: And, finally, the hacking that China was according to the U.S. government involved with in which people say information was actually taken, do you view that as more serious or how do you see that compared to what Russia is now being accused of?
WOOLSEY: Compared with Bernie Sanders being treated badly by the DNC, it seems to me that losing millions of background data about people or security numbers, their friends, their associates, their businesses, all of this in forms that they have to fill out, losing that to hacking by China is so far more important it seems to me than the tiff between the DNC and Bernie Sanders that -- I mean, I'm kind of staggered by anybody who would think it differently.
COOPER: Ambassador Woolsey, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.
COOPER: Just ahead, we have more breaking news. This time on President-elect Trump's plan to untangle himself from any business ties that might tie him up ethically.
Coming up next, how GOP House members nearly got their wish to weaken the watchdog and Donald Trump's role in actually stopping them.
[20:15:50] COOPER: All right. Curb your cynicism, Congress is back on the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected House speaker. And also, cynicism aside with the House, Senate and executive branch in Republican hands.
What these lawmakers decide will have consequences. However, Republicans' first order of business before repealing Obamacare or anything else in the agenda, before today's opening gavel sounded was a secret vote to essentially cripple the nonpartisan office set up for one reason only -- keeping lawmakers from either party honest.
Then, came a massive outcry, then came a tweet from Donald Trump. Now the plan is toast and Mr. Trump is poised to take the credit.
CNN's Manu Raju has the latest and joins us now from the Capitol.
How did we get from point A to point B here and how much did Donald Trump's tweet actually affect the outcome?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, you know, Anderson, this was not part of the plan. This proposal to gut this ethics watchdog, not part of the plan that both the House Republican leadership and the Trump transition team set out on ever since Election Day. They had been trying to lay out a number of things they want to do, ranging from repealing Obamacare to reforming the tax code, going after Obama regulations.
Going after this ethics agency only came up in a closed door Monday night meeting when Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia offered a proposal to change House rules in order to put what he believes is more oversight of this committee. Now, critics said this would have gutted the committee. And once that proposal actually was adopted in this closed door meeting by House Republicans, it got a lot of blowback publicly. Members of Congress were getting tons of phone calls from angry constituents. They're getting bad headlines in the press.
And Donald Trump tweeted, saying earlier this morning that he does not think that this is what Congress should be doing. Actually saying this, Anderson, saying that, "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the independent ethics watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority", saying that they should focus on other things like tax reform and health care.
Now, that led after all this pressure was building, House Speaker Paul Ryan holding an emergency meeting with his members, Ryan himself opposing this idea and prevailing upon his members to join with them because they do not believe they had the votes to actually approve this rules package in the full House this afternoon and led to the decision to abruptly scrap this plan to try to get on the same page in the first day of new Congress.
COOPER: And I understand Paul Ryan spoke with Donald Trump tonight. Do we know what was discussed?
RAJU: Yes, you know, that conversation happened after this vote took place. Not -- there were no discussions from what we understand before this about-face by the House Republicans. This is part of their efforts to try to stay on the same page going forward -- moving forward on Obamacare and the like.
The exact details we don't quite know yet. We'll learn more when House Speaker Paul Ryan talks to reporters tomorrow and also tomorrow, Anderson, Mike Pence coming to Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans and Senate Republicans to discuss their plans on Obamacare.
COOPER: Does this affect party unity in any way?
RAJU: You know, it's a sign of the real challenges Republicans are going to have staying united. I mean, this ethics issue is a small issue compared to the huge monumental issues they want to deal with in the new Congress. And if you're talking about party unity, that's going to be essential, not just getting things done through the House where they won't get much Democratic support, but also the Senate, where they need Democratic support to pass Donald Trump's agenda.
And once you start getting Democratic support, you may lose some conservatives. So, party unity is very, very challenging. It is a sign of the difficulties ahead for Donald Trump.
COOPER: Manu Raju -- Manu, thanks.
Joining us now is "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King and chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, clearly, Republicans have realized this was a wrong move politically. Why even attempt this though in the first place?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I know. It leaves you scratching your head. Maybe they wanted to lower their approval rating even some more or maybe it's just because they could?
[20:20:00] But to do this behind closed doors at the last minute as part of a larger piece of rule making legislation leaves you kind of wondering, why would they? In talking to some Republicans, look, it's clear that they believe that this office of ethics is too aggressive, that they believe they are denied very often due process in it, they don't like the fact that people who are anonymous can make complaints against them or their staffs. And they will tell you this openly.
But if they feel that strongly about it, the question is, why not do it publicly? Why not take -- have a public debate on it and then have a vote out in public which is what they decided not to do after Donald Trump tweeted today?
COOPER: Well, John, what about President-elect Trump's reaction? Does it give a clue about how he might react with his own party on the Hill?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does. Number one, this was first a gift to Democrats. Republicans doing this the way they did. A lot of Democrats don't like this agency either.
But as Gloria noted, if they had done this in the sunlight, if they had said publicly they wanted to change this, they probably could have had some Democrats with them. So, what do they do? They do it all Republicans first, giving Democrats essentially a low hanging pinata on the first day of the new Congress and then Donald Trump jumps in. Does he deserve all the credit? Of course not. Liberal groups were lighting up the switchboard. Tea Party groups were lighting up the switchboard.
But Trump smartly sees this train, not only he jumps on it, he takes over the locomotive, and he shames his own party publicly. He's about to be a Republican president with a Republican Congress. Manu just mentioned how important unity is. But Donald Trump had no druthers about publicly shaming his own party, saying, this is a bad idea, drop it.
COOPER: It is interesting, Gloria, whether that is kind of a sign of how he may interact with Congress and maybe it's something even some Democrats would be behind.
BORGER: Yes, look, I think Donald Trump is going to call it as he sees it and if he believes that the Republican leadership is doing something they shouldn't do he doesn't have particular ties, as you know, to Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. He'll tell them. And if he agrees with Democrats wanting to spend money on infrastructure, he'll do it.
And the thing about Donald Trump is, he's not going to call people privately on the phone. He has something called Twitter, which he will use and he will shame his own party if that's what it takes to get his message across. You know, he's always run on his own, not as a part of any particular group and that includes the Republican Party.
COOPER: It's interesting, John -- I mean, how much of Donald Trump's objection to this was the timing of it? Essentially saying, is this really the first thing you all should be doing? And how much was sort of a belief that it shouldn't be done at all?
KING: Look, he wants to get off to a good start. He promised to drain the swamp. What the House Republicans were proposing is to put the fox in charge of the henhouse, completely contrary to what Trump promised in the campaign.
Now, there are a lot of questions about whether Trump is going to truly drain the swamp. Or is he just going to throw out the old alligators and let some new alligators in? We'll see how that one plays out as it goes forward.
But this was such a gift for Trump, he came to the help of Paul Ryan, the House speaker, who it's interesting to watch here. Rank and file Republicans were doing something, they knew their speaker, knew the speaker's number two, the Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, opposed. So, we have to watch this going forward, how much can Paul Ryan control his own caucus?
Remember, last year, we thought he might be extinct. Now, he is essential to Donald Trump, but he still has problems with the family. But this was a gift from Trump to step forward and do this, because if you're a Democrat, if you're an independent, Donald Trump did something you like today. There's a lot you don't like about what's about to happen, but today, Donald Trump did say to something, no, Washington, you're not going to do business as usual.
Again, he wasn't alone. He's not the only reason this happened. But he smartly jumped in at the right moment and he now shares the credit.
COOPER: And, Gloria, even though this whole thing basically resolved itself today because of the complaints of people calling in to Donald Trump. I mean, this certainly wasn't the festive opening of a Republican-led Congress that I think a lot of people on the Hill were hoping for. BORGER: No. This wasn't the way they wanted -- they wanted to start
this. This was an embarrassment to the Republican Party. I mean, even if you believe the office is unfair and it's got overreach and it doesn't operate properly, do you want to start the Congress of Donald Trump and start his first hundred days by doing something that is the opposite of draining the swamp? I don't think so. What it did was it shined a light on the swamp.
BORGER: And that is not what Donald Trump wanted and I don't think it's what the House leaders wanted either. So, while he did kind of save them today, I guarantee that you there are going to be other times where he jumps in and he doesn't save them.
COOPER: Well, we'll see.
Gloria Borger, John King, thanks. Appreciate it.
We have a lead update on our top story, President-elect Trump casting more aspersions on the intelligence community and the report that he's about to get, a high level briefing on alleged Russian meddling in the election.
[20:25:02] Mr. Trump jumps moments, tweeting, "The intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."
Up next, more breaking news on the future of Donald Trump's business ties. What our Sara Murray found out from her sources who might be part of the leadership and will the president-elect fully divest?
COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight: President-elect Trump tweeting tonight, "I'll be having a general news conference in January 11th in New York City. Thank you."
Our Sara Murray is learning more about that and what's expected to be discussed about the president-elect's business ties. She joins us now.
What are your sources telling you about this?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's not clear exactly what Donald Trump is going to do in this press conference to be able to fully disentangle himself from what are really sprawling business interests. What we are hearing from our sources is it's unlikely that he is going to come out and say he's divesting completely.
Now, there are a lot of reasons for this, but part of it is also sentimentality. He's spent four decades building this company. He does wants to see his kids take over. And they don't really see it as feasible for him to divest completely.
But there are some other options they've been kicking around and one of those options is the possibility of adding sort of an outside trustee to add another layer to bat back conflicts of interest and to work together with Donald Trump's sons and existing executives from the Trump organization.
COOPER: I mean, this is the announcement that the transition team had promised to make I think in December.
MURRAY: It was supposed to happen last month, and they didn't really feel like they had worked out enough to where they were comfortable.
COOPER: Right. They said it was very complex --
MURRAY: And it is very complex. He does have a lot of business interests.
I've talked to a number of different officials today, though, and they do believe that this is actually going to happen. Next week, Donald Trump tweeted an actual date, so I guess that's a good sign.
COOPER: Kellyanne Conway on this program last night actually gave the same date.
MURRAY: Yes, exactly. And she sort of initially put the date out there. They were wavering a little bit on it earlier today. But they seemed set. They seemed like they are actually prepared to roll out details.
COOPER: Do we know is this going to be an actual press conference? Because that's another, you know, criticism that's been made, Trump had been critical of Hillary Clinton for not giving press conferences for going 150-some days without -- he's gone a very long amount of time here.
[20:30:03] MURRAY: Well, they're certainly billing it as a press conference. And they know people have been itching to ask Donald Trump questions. He has taken questions from small pools of reporters that are following him around but not held a big sort of official press conference where we know we can be there and have an opportunity. I do think that's what they're expecting to do.
The caveat being we have been duped by Donald Trump before. Remember the day he was going to say he believed President Obama was born in the United States. He did not take any questions that day even though we were led to believe he was going to.
COOPER: In terms of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, they have actually settled on a property in Washington, D.C.
MURRAY: So one thing is clear, that they are Washington bound. They have settled on a property in Washington, D.C., and the transition team feels like they're on pretty solid ground in allowing both of them to be advisers to Donald Trump in Washington in the White House. The discussions that are still ongoing, whether they can give them a formal title and still be okay under ethics rules.
Really, if you were talking to ethics experts they are public in their belief that they think it's a worst-case scenario to just bring Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in and not give them formalized titles. They would rather see Donald Trump go to Congress and say, "Hey, can we tweak this anti-nepotism statute for a few select family members" because then it's more transparent. Now, the transition team has not said whether they will do this, whether they have some other kind of back channel way to figure out an official role for them but it seems clear he'll have two top allies with him in Washington in some capacity.
COOPER: Sara Murray. Sara, thanks very much.
A lot to discuss. John King is back. And joining us, a Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. David, when I spoke to Kellyanne Conway last night, she did say Trump would have the press conference when the lawyers and compliance officers feel like they're ready. How complicated is it if he's handing over the reins to his two adult sons or even bringing in a trustee?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST: Well it's quite complicated. So Trump knows where all the investments are, he knows where the plans are, the holdups with various local permitting authorities all around the world are. So, the idea that he could sort of hand it off to his sons and avoid conflicts of interest, what we care about is whether foreign companies, foreign governments will use Trump's properties to influence his decision making. And if Trump knows how all those projects are going and sort of a dotted line to his sons, that's still a conduit for influence, so it's still a problem.
COOPER: John. I mean a lot of ethics experts, others, you know, have said that they are concerned these moves may not go far enough. It does seem like -- I mean it is what it is. The broad outlines, the arrangement they haven't -- it doesn't seem like they have changed all that much over the course of the last month or so.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's see when we finally hear and let's assume for now it will be January 11th, the date happens to be I think the day after President Obama's farewell address. So maybe they chose it to try to turn the page and keep some attention off the incumbent and turn it to the President-elect.
But, you're right, if they're going to add a trustee, that will probably be applauded at least a step. But as David noted, he's going to be the president of the United States whether it is foreign governments trying to curry favor with him or the sons trying to take advantage of trying to promote the business, thinking will people will do favors for us, people will have access for us because we're the sons of the president. So transparency is going to be key here for starters. But look, his name is his brand, his brand is his business. It's very clear that Donald Trump is having a hard time separating himself from the two of those.
I've been one who's argued give him some grace and time because it's so personal, because it's so hard. But we're now 17 days away from his putting his hand at the Bible, and if this is the best they're going to do, Anderson, you can be certain great reporters like David who have done a lot of work on this subject will keep at it throughout the Trump presidency. So if they're not perfect it's going to be a problem.
COOPER: And David, I mean it's not just Trump's business arrangements that ethics experts have raised concerns about it, it's also the fact that his daughter and son-in-law may end up with official roles in the west wing (ph). The law though, my understanding is, it's a little unclear as to whether or not that is allowed.
FAHRENTHOLD: That's right. And Ivanka and Jared Kushner will keep presumably their business roles. So now you have top advisers for the President who could be influenced, you know, or you could raise questions about the influence among them by their business dealings. The important point is if you like Donald Trump, if you want him to succeed, if you want him to get his agenda done, you want him to find a way to put this behind him. Because otherwise he's going to spend all his political capital batting down one scandal after another as these conflicts of interest come to life.
COOPER: Yeah, John, I mean it is really one of the -- and whether Donald Trump believes it is serious for his critics, it certainly is low-hanging fruit for them to attack him on.
KING: No question. And remember, Democrats will tell you every day Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Democrats will tell you everyday that the responsibilities of the presidency require you to take extraordinary steps to put the country first, not yourself first. Again, I think Donald Trump deserves some time, he deserves some grace because this has been his entire life, this is the first time he's run for office. It is complicated, give him plan to figure it out.
But, he has had that time since the election, he's had time throughout the campaign to understand this was the possibility. And again to David's point, the law does not require him to give up his business, but if that is the course he takes essentially he removes himself but his family is still intimately involved. We assume his sons will be coming to the White House for dinners, for family dinners, for official functions and things hike that. He's had his sons in official transition meetings.
[20:35:04] They've helped him pick members of his team. That is just leading to questions, and even if there is nothing there, Anderson, there's going to be a whole lot of smoke even if there's no fire, and trust me, people will look for fire.
COOPER: David, I mean, does Ivanka Trump, if she's worked in the White House, does she have to give up all her, all her licensing businesses and, you know, she's worn a dress at the Republican convention when she was making a speech then was sold on, I guess, you know, through her company and wore a bracelet in a "60 Minutes" interview? Does she have to give that up.
FAHRENTHOLD: I think it depends on the role that she gets. And if she has some sort of informal role probably not, a more formalized role she might have to. To John's point, Trump -- people say well Trump -- people new Trump was a businessman when they elected him. Actually during the campaign he campaigned saying, I'm going to have a blind trust. Anything less than blind trust is a violation of that promise he made on the trail.
COOPER: Yeah. And a blind trust is a very specific thing, it's not just giving operational control to your kids. It's divesting yourself completely and not knowing what's going on. David Fahrenthold, thank you very much. John King as well.
As we reported just a moment ago President-Elect trump has just weighed in on the intelligence pointing to Kremlin involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign, all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and the director of national intelligence believe Russia is involved or responsible. Mr. Trump has doubts and tonight he expressed them again on Twitter. Saying "The intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."
Pamela Brown is back with the latest. So, this tracks with your reporting about the informs but it really is another indication of Mr. Trump's -- certainly skepticism of it.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And the fact that he not only is challenging the hacking -- the assessments that Russia was behind this but the intelligence agencies that he will be working with hand in glove when he is president of the United States. And so, it's fascinating to see this play out, Anderson. I just got off the phone with an intelligence official who frankly is perplexed by the notion and by the claim by the President-elect in his tweet that the briefing was delayed.
We know at least one of the intelligence leaders, James Clapper, who's supposed to be there at that briefing about the Russian hack was never scheduled to go up to New York before Friday to brief the President- elect and so there is some confusion in terms of what he is talking about. In fact the comprehensive review about the hack and the fact they believe Russia is to blame hasn't even been presented to the President and that would happen before the President-elect was briefed.
And so it's fascinating dynamic playing out and this will be the first time, Anderson, when this face-to-face briefing happens that Donald Trump will be in the same room as recently since the criticism with the leaders in the intelligence community. So, you have to wonder what that's going to be like.
COOPER: Well also I assume him putting the word intelligence in quote is a jab at the intelligence community kind of --
COOPER: You know, saying essentially how intelligent are they really. That can't play very well, I mean for an entire, you know, there are many, many thousands of people who worked very hard to try to keep the country safe and take pride in their work in the intelligence community.
BROWN: Right. And from their view, from people in the intelligence community who have been working hard on this, and the analysis and coming to this conclusion, they feel like this is an attempt by the President-elect to undermine their work. Why, we don't know. We know that there have been these periodic briefings from people in the intelligence community to the President-elect. There was one as recently as today but I think there is some puzzlement within those in the intelligence community about why their work and the -- all the different strings of intelligence they have to bolster their confidence about Russia continues to be questioned by the President- elect. That's their view Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Pamela Brown, Pamela thanks. Just ahead, Donald Trump's treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin is bracing for tough questions about the California bank he run that was accused for shoddy foreclosure practices, many of the people who lost their homes were elderly. We'll have more on that ahead.
[20:42:36] COOPER: Confirmation hearings for several President-elect Trump's cabinet nominees are set to begin next week. They are expected to be in part contentious as we reported last night. Democrats are vowing to stall action on eight of Trump's picks including his choice for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin's official bio on the RNC's website highlights his time as a CEO of a hedge fund and the company he co-founded that's produced hit films like "X-Men" and "Avatar," leaves out other chunks of his resume including some of the controversy, it's a chapter of his past and certain to come up at his confirmation hearing.
CNN's Senior Investigator Correspondent Drew Griffin tonight reports.
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DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATOR CORRESPONDENT: Steve Mnuchin like Donald Trump is a deal maker, and during the height of the housing crisis he saw a deal, a failed lender named Indymac was being off by the U.S. government, and Mnuchin led a team that bought it. They renamed it OneWest took over and expanded its reverse loan mortgage program and then increased the pace of foreclosures.
JOHN TAYLOR, NATIONAL COMMUNITY REFINEMENT COALITION: OneWest was the foreclosure kings in California for their size. I mean there were bigger companies like countrywide that foreclosed but they had a much larger market share.
GRIFFIN: How big? In the first six years of Steve Mnuchin's leadership, 16,000 reversed mortgage foreclosures were carried out by OneWest and its subsidiary financial freedom. Four out of every 10 in the country, more than twice what a lender of its size should have produced according to John Taylor, CEO of a consumer rights group focusing on big banks.
TAYLOR: They were going to foreclose on as many people as they possibly could because that was the business model to them. We're going to make a fortune doing this. GRIFFIN: Mnuchin did profit handsomely. Eventually selling OneWest
Bank to CiT group for more than twice what he paid for it. He also became vice chairman of CiT which inherited the foreclosure mess. Dozens of lawsuits and a federal investigation would follow it.
JAMES GARNER: Hi, this is James Garner for Financial Freedom.
GRIFFIN: The pitch was simple, older people searching for a new source of income in retirement could make a deal with Financial Freedom. Get monthly paychecks and remain in their house rent free until they died.
GARNER: If you're 62 or older and own your own home I'd like to talk to you about something you should know.
GRIFFIN: It turns out there was a very big catch that a lot of people did not know about. The person who bought the reverse mortgage could stay in his or her house until they died, true.
[20:45:05] But after death, everyone else living in the house would have to go unless they paid back the loan. Elizabeth Lavulo's grandmother died in January of 2014. A letter from Financial Freedom arrived almost immediately telling the survivors to pay up.
ELIZABETH LAVULO, ALMOST LOST HOUSE: They said that the house need to be paid in full by April 28th or else they would foreclose the property.
GRIFFIN: Unless specific arrangements were made in advance, surviving widows, children, partners or grandchildren would be kicked out. Consumer groups say that information was buried in the fine print.
LAVULO: So they just gave us a deadline. They didn't even give us a program or a step process to try to save the house. It was just really cold and dry, cutthroat and dry.
GRIFFIN: Financial Freedom tried four times to foreclose on Lavulo's grandmother's home. She fought back. She got help and she stopped it. Others weren't so lucky.
TAYLOR: This was a big part of their business, and, you know, it caused a lot of pain and suffering for a lot of seniors.
GRIFFIN: Federal regulators heard story after story from people who said they had horrible experiences with OneWest and Financial Freedom. This letter is from a woman who says OneWest was guilty of, "unethical business practices." Another from a 90-year-old woman whose loan repayment accidentally came up 27 cents short. Instead of trying to fix the problem, Financial Freedom tried to foreclose over that 27 cents.
Mnuchin supporters say don't blame the bank, blame the federal bureaucracy that set up the rules of government-backed reverse mortgages. A source familiar with OneWest operations told CNN the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD as its called, set up specific rules, deadlines and procedures banks had to follow and said OneWest under Steve Mnuchin was just following those rules.
A HUD spokesperson told CNN while it doesn't dispute it has strict rules for government-backed reverse mortgages, the spokesman said OneWest had the ability to give survivors more time but chose not too. Steve Mnuchin didn't answer questions directly to CNN but a spokesperson insist the nominee for the U.S. treasury secretary remains proud of his record at OneWest, and goes on to say that during the height of the housing crisis Mnuchin was able to save three institutions that were in receivership, did tens of thousands of loan modifications, saving homes and jobs, and developed OneWest into a regional banking franchise that in turn made loans to consumers and businesses that helped create jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Drew, the fact that Mnuchin's bank foreclosed some 16,000 reverse mortgages, how big an issue is that for his confirmation hearing?
GRIFFIN: I think it will be big Anderson. And this could even get worse. It turns out lawyers in California's attorney general's office were calling on the attorney general to open a civil enforcement action against OneWest Bank, Mnuchin's bank, this was back in 2013. And they were citing some 35,000 foreclosures the bank was carrying out at the time. This is a memo we got from the attorney general's consumer law section. It was leaked to us. It's from January of 2013, nearly two dozen pages long and outline what is the state lawyers said at the time was evidence of widespread misconduct including back dating records, facilitating unlawful bids and other actions which these lawyers said deserved a full-scale investigation.
The attorney general of California at that time, Democrat Camilla Harris failed to carry through on the advice of her lawyers so nothing came of it but oddly enough Camilla Harris is now the new Democratic Senator from California. She can certainly help her colleagues in questioning Mnuchin about how he profited while foreclosing on these tens of thousands of California homeowners.
COOPER: Well let's see what happens. Drew Griffin thanks.
Up next tonight, a new Congress and new Senate Democratic leader. Senator Chuck Schumer goes after trump and his twitter posts. Also our Dana Bash talks to Schumer about the Democrats' path forward. The question, will they work with President Trump?
[20:51:58] COOPER: On inauguration day, Senator Chuck Schumer will become the nation's highest ranking Democrat. Today after the swearing in of the 115th Congress Schumer gave his first speech as Senate minority leader. He took aim at Donald Trump's twitter habit.
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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Making America great again requires more than 140 characters per issue. With all due respect, America cannot afford a twitter presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Schumer is also vowing to hold President Donald Trump and the GOP accountable. He spoke about the Democrats' path forward with our Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Hi everybody.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Schumer, arriving for his first day as Senate Democratic leader. His new large suite still strewn with unpacked boxes.
BASH: Yeah, you guys have some decorating to do here.
SCHUMER: Yes, a lot. It's not my forte.
BASH: Schumer was hoping to be the new Democratic majority leader working with Hillary Clinton in the White House, instead he's leading the Trump opposition. He proudly described a recent conversation with Trump.
SCHUMER: I said Mr. President-elect, you went after the Democratic and the Republican establishments when you run, you were an anti- establishment change candidate, but by your cabinet picks and early pronouncements you seemed to be embracing a time-worn, shop-worn, hard right.
BASH: You said that to him.
SCHUMER: I did.
BASH: What did he say?
SCHUMER: Nothing. But I said to him, if you do that, your presidency will not come close to being a success.
BASH: For Schumer, success will be even more complicated. A fine line between when to work with Trump and when not to.
SCHUMER: The only way we're going to work with him is if he moves completely in our direction and abandons his Republican colleagues. 90-95 percent at a time we'll be holding his feet to the fire and holding him accountable. But we're Democrats, we're not going to oppose things just to oppose them.
BASH: I've known you for a long time. You love a deal, not unlike the President-elect. I find that hard to believe that you don't want to make -- SCHUMER: Here's the problem. The Republicans in the Senate and the House have been run by a hard-right group, an almost tea party group, and they are so far away.
BASH: But now they've got a deal maker in the White House, just like you.
SCHUMER: Look, we're going to look at the specifics of what is proposed. Of course I'd like to make a department.
BASH: That makes progressive in Schumer's own party nervous.
Democracy for America, leading progressive groups said Democratic leaders from Chuck Schumer down need to stop playing footsie with Trump and pretending we can find common sense.
SCHUMER: We're playing no footsie. My views are exactly the same as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Both of them have said the same exact thing, if we can work with him and be true to our principles we're not going to reject it. But, overall we're sticking to our principles.
BASH: The two New Yorkers have a history. Schumer says he doesn't know Donald Trump well but he was one of the Senator's early political donors. Schumer confirmed the President-elect told him he likes him better than GOP leaders.
SCHUMER: He said something close to it.
[20:55:02] BASH: Were you surprised to hear a Republican president tell a Democratic leader he likes you more than the Republican?
SCHUMER: When you get to be in my position, people do want to tend to want to flatter you, and you got to take it with a grain of salt.
BASH: Trump is hardly Schumer's only concern. He's also in charge of fixing his defeated Democratic Party. His prescription?
SCHUMER: A sharp-edged economic message that talks about helping the middle class and people who want to get to the middle class get there more easily. We didn't have that in this election.
BASH: Just a task for the man who put himself on the map in the 1980s for being media savvy.
You know, the famous line, the most dangerous place in Washington is between a camera and Chuck Schumer.
SCHUMER: Said by Bob Dole after he was mad that I passed the Brady law, which I'm proud I did.
BASH: But, now our viewers should know that when we try to talk to you in the hallway you pretend you're on the cellphone, which you know you do. So, that has changed a lot.
SCHUMER: In the early days, the press was a very good way to bring out problems that needed to be fixed. Now I have other leaders of power so I'm hardly inaccessible. I'm sitting here with you. And you can say a lot of bad things about Chuck Schumer, inaccessibility is never going to be one of them.
BASH: Same goes for authenticity.
SCHUMER: There's a balcony.
BASH: Oh that sounds fun.
Leader or not, refined he will never be.
You just put a fire escape down there, it will be like Brooklyn.
SCHUMER: That's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dana Bash joins us now from Washington. It sounds like this is not the role that Schumer wanted to play, but he could oddly be well-suited to it to be a sort of foil for the President-elect at least for the Democrats.
BASH: No question about it. Yes, he did not want this. He was very much looking forward, he told me, to coming in and try to be in charge of advancing the Hillary Clinton agenda. And now that's obviously not happening, but he also admitted that that would have been more fun, but he said this, given where we are right now in the state of politics is perhaps more important.
But walking that line is really going to be incredibly difficult for Chuck Schumer, because he's got those progressives who really don't want him to do anything. And they're pressuring him big time to really hold the line. But in two years, the very next election, the midterms Anderson, 10 Senate Democrats who come from states where trump won are up for reelection.
So, if he doesn't also cater to those and make sure that they understand their constituency, most of them are pro-Trump, then they're going to lose even more votes in the Senate.
COOPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks very much.
Just ahead in the next hour of 360, the GOP agenda on the Hill during the Trump presidency, what House Speaker Paul Ryan hopes his party can accomplish when they control both chambers and the White House.
Also the breaking news, President-elect Trump tweeting again about alleged Russian meddling in the election.