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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
W.H. Releases Details On 2005 Trump Tax Return; W.H., GOP Leaders Making Changes To Health Care Bill; Senator: Comey To Go Public On Trump-Russia Probe. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 14, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINGTON POST: -- it's still an interesting year. This is for example the year after the "Apprentice" debut on NBC. So, they're, you know, this is that something that by itself should have actually helped boosts his income.
This is something that "The Wall Street Journal," actually reported in March of 2016 that we already know that the statement that was just read and they reference this, we already know that he took a big easement because of one of his properties in New Jersey. So we already have some of the details there, but really what we're hoping to get is more detail on the big picture.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Right. White House trying to preempt the release of this by giving out some information that they hadn't previously given out.
Also joining us now is the panel. Ryan Lizza, I mean, potentially a big deal?
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: You know, we have to see exactly what the MSNBC has and exactly what it shows, but there -- as Philip just outlined, there are a lot of questions about Donald Trump's finances, and the fact that he did not abide by the traditional norm of presidential candidates going back decades to release his tax returns has created incredible media and public interest in these documents.
COOPER: Although the White House says the public doesn't care.
LIZZA: Well, you know, if you look at -- that every time this has been polled, more than a majority of the public says they do care and they would like to see the tax returns, right? So, I think they're wrong about that. And we'll know for example what is his charitable giving been in 2005. Are there any foreign sources of income?
And then as the White House goes into this tax reform debate later in the year, it's interesting to know how someone of Trump's wealth, what deductions did he take? What did -- how did he use the tax code?
COOPER: Paul, I mean, are you've probably polled on this during the election? Did you have a sense of whether it is actually resonated with people? Did they care? PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, did it move votes? I don't know, but two-thirds of Americans even today say that Donald Trump should release his tax returns. People do want to know.
Now, will this be enough? If in fact, Philip's right and it's just what he made and what he paid. You know, it's interesting. But, what I want to know, Russia. His son in 2008 said, "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." If we have the whole return, which I'm sure for a man as wealthy as Trump with all his complex business enterprises it's that thick.
I want to know -- there's a form called 8938, which is a Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. It was another form that you have to disclose if you have foreign bank accounts. That kind of stuff is like what I want to know. Does he have financial ties to Russia?
COOPER: We believe it's only the introductory form, so from my understanding, we'll have to wait and see. Matt, how potentially important is this?
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, based on what we're hearing right now, it kind of seems like a nothing burger to me. It seems like the story was hyped a lot, mainly on social media, and it seems like what we're going to learn is that Donald Trump paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes. That's a good story for Donald Trump as far as I'm concerned.
I think you're right though, Paul, it's not about how much money Donald Trump paid in taxes or whatever, it's about, are there conflicts of interest? Are there, you know, if he got a lot of money from Russia, does that influence? I don't think we're going to find that out today, but if we do, then it's a blockbuster.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And this gives, you know, this gives people who were saying release all your taxes a little bit more momentum I would say because it looks like he paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent. If I recall, Mitt Romney had an effective tax rate in 2011 of 14 percent, OK?
LIZZA: Which if this is true --
BORGER: So, if this is true and then it's good for Trump and why not release all your taxes? If the White House is responding to these two pages, well, fine. Why not respond to all of them?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: So, I think the least surprising detail here is that President Trump is a very successful businessman. He had a very good year, I mean, 150 million. That's pretty good money.
I think probably the most interesting thing is whoever stole and leaked these materials, how they look in orange, because they are in serious trouble. You want to steal forms like these and put them out publicly, look, the president has said time and time again, every time I've been with him publicly, every time I've been with him privately, that he's under routine audit, and the lawyers and accountants have said don't go and put this out there, and that's what's holding that back.
COOPER: Right, but that's not true because the lawyers have -- Trump's own lawyers have said the audit doesn't go back as far as I think 2004. That letter was put out during the campaign.
MILLER: Yeah. But any one, any lawyer or accountant with their salt would don't go out and put this out there, who I go and -- until he get through -- all the way through the audit. But, Paul, let go back to him ago (ph).
COOPER: No, but the audit has done for all those returns prior to -- I think it's
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE MESSY TRUTH: I mean, you have been on that focus for a long time.
MILLER: I can't let him get away with the ding on the Russia thing, because the president has made very clear, there are no business dealings in Russia.
BEGALA: Well, then (inaudible) his son's a liar? He's son said, "A disproportionate amount of our assets are in Russia. We have a lot of money pouring in from Russia." There were Donald Trump Jr. --
MILLER: They were talking about people who --
BEGALA: -- then senior vice president of Trump organization.
MILLER: -- buy condos and things like that on these different buildings. That's what it was referring to.
COOPER: It did at some talk about this. I mean, they sold a house in Florida to a Russian --
COOPER: -- oligarch.
[21:05:02] MILLER: They have no business dealings in Russia. So, I can't let an attack like that go. That just --
LEWIS: But I think there is also a fair -- to Jason's point, there's a fair point there. We probably all agree from journalist standpoint that the president -- I mean, he very nice, in fact, the president should release his tax returns. But if somebody stole these tax returns, I don't blame the journalist who they were leaked to, but if the person who absconded with these, that is a serious thing.
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Is the president the one to call that into question when he himself says I love WikiLeaks during the campaign? I mean, WikiLeaks beat -- lives on some of the documents.
JONES: We live in a world where, you know, there's leaks and leaks and I'll tell you what. I don't think Donald Trump does himself a lot of good when he stands up there and kind of like, "Oh, I'm going to put all these people in jail." I didn't like it when Obama was putting whistle blowers in jail. I certainly don't like it when Trump does that stuff.
But here's reality, if all we get tonight is that Donald Trump paid $38 million to America's government, that's a good night for Donald Trump, I'm sorry. There's just really no way. I was hoping and praying that it would show, not only that he paid no taxes, he actually charged the government and got money back. I want something I could get excited about.
COOPER: -- that he was paid in rubles.
JONES: Exactly, (inaudible) in rubles.
LIZZA: But you know what would be amazing about that is that when "The New York Times" got the 1995 taxes. The big headline was $960 million deduction that allows Donald Trump to not pay any taxes, potentially for 18 years. So if 10 years later he's paying 38 million, and Trump at the debate essentially said that that story was right, he's (inaudible) to be smart. That makes me smart. So, he was actually bragging --
BORGER: Right? Mitt Romney --
LIZZA: So, this shows that maybe -- that actually he paid more tax than he's previously admitted to.
BORGER: Right. But, also, I don't think we should assume. I don't think we should assume and I don't know anything about the sourcing of this. But I don't think we should assume that this document is stolen. I think, wait a minute, let me finish. Let me finish.
There is a possibility that Donald Trump private citizen was involved in an off a lot of litigation over the years and parts of discovery very often in litigation involve your tax returns if the litigation involves money. So there is a possibility, and I don't know what it is, but I would guess that there are some people out there looking at this. I just wouldn't jump to the conclusion that somebody ought to go to jail over this. It might just be good investigative journalism.
JONES: Yeah. You sound all smart and stuff.
COOPER: I want to bring --
BORGER: I hate when that happens.
COOPER: -- on what we're discussing here since we cross the top of the hour without a break. Tonight's breaking story on Donald Trump's taxes, hear what we -- here's what we know. His 2005 federal 1040 form has gotten out. We do not know how.
The White House is reacting sharply, acknowledging the taxes leak, slamming the media for facing (ph) ratings and the president paid $38 million on more than $150 million of income. So that's basically the headline at this point. We're going to learn more as soon as it is -- it's made public.
But, Van, to your point, if that's what it is --
JONES: I mean, I wish that -- could they have just hidden that one, because that one makes them look so good. Well, maybe it looks a little bit dumb. He said that if you pay taxes -- he said, when you pay taxes to America's government, you're dumb, so maybe he's dumb.
COOOPER: Philip Bump from "Washington Post" is also joining us. Philip, what are your thoughts as you hear this?
BUMP: Right. Well, I think that the point that this is the first time we've seen a return literally since 1977, the only public returns we have where Donald Trump is known to have paid federal income taxes were from 1995, '96, '97. The other returns of the absence then are six of them we haven't seen. He has not paid any taxes according to what we've learned so far. So that is by itself a noteworthy thing.
We don't know, however, from the statement from the White House exactly how that $38 million was distributed, how much it was paid and so and so forth. I will also note though that this is one of the -- to your point, Anderson, this is one of the years that he is no longer under audit. During the campaign in March of 2016, there was that letter from the accountants that said up through 2008 after this --
BUMP: -- were no longer under audit. The other years since then were, and those were the ones that Donald Trump had said he couldn't return. He never really had a clear answer on why he couldn't return -- or release the other ones prior to 2009. But that said, I think the one of the things tonight may do is put pressure on him to at least release the same top line numbers he just did for the rest of those years in (inaudible).
COOPER: You know, Philip, I mean, it seems like so much of the reticence of Donald Trump during the campaign to do this was, you know, his long-standing, I don't want to use the word obsession, but his long-standing desire to be seen as incredibly rich. He's obviously incredibly rich by any standard, by the standard of, you know, some billionaires. He's probably not as rich as some billionaires and he's richer than a lot of other billionaires.
But, clearly, his level of income is very important to him. He sued Tim O'Brien back in the day in -- I forgot what year it was, but he was at "The New York Times" for basically saying that his net worth was not as much as Donald Trump has said his net worth was and that lawsuit -- actually Donald Trump lost that lawsuit as far as I remember.
[21:10:06] So, I mean, it's possible, Philip, but if that is behind some of his reticence to actually expose his tax returns.
BUMP: Yeah, that's exactly right. And this is always -- when people were assuming he would never run for president, that was one of the main reasons they said, because he didn't want to release his tax returns and show much his worth.
I mean, for example, Forbes in 2014 their estimate of how much his was worth $4.5 billion. When he announced his candidacy in 2015, he said he's worth $10 billion. So there's clearly a discrepancy between what Donald Trump says he's worth and what outside observers say he's worth.
That said, I don't know that the tax, even just releasing (inaudible) each years when he tell us what his actual net worth is, simply because so much what he owns is tied up in real estate and he's always argued that one of the reasons he doesn't need to release his tax returns because he releases those personal financial disclosures, which break down into broad buckets how much everything he has is worth. So, the way -- still, the point here is that we're getting a very incomplete picture even if we get some sort of tax returns.
COOPER: Right. And the charitable foundation question was always kind of interesting because, you know, not only his comments that he'd given tens of millions of dollars, but when you compare to like Oprah Winfrey, her charitable foundation had, I think if numbers are with me, hundreds of millions of dollars in it. Donald Trump's never had that and there were questions about how the money was donated to the charitable foundation, whose money it actually was.
But, Jason, I think to the point that the White House makes and has made all along, which is all these things, whether they've been asked, they haven't been answered, that voters took all that into consideration during the election and they voted the way they did and gave Donald Trump the White House.
MILLER: Absolutely. I mean, we're past November 8th that the election is over. I think most people care a lot more about tax reform, about health care, about what's going and how it's going to impact them. I think, you know, these are all clearly little nicks and cuts efforts to try to attack the president, try to knock him off of his game. But, I think most people are looking at it and saying this is nonsense, and clearly something -- there's -- something was afoul here for this thing to be stolen.
LIZZA: But (inaudible) the election after promising that he would release his tax returns.
MILLER: When the audit is complete. LIZZA: So if you were voter who -- I don't know how many voters actually care about the tax returns, but if you were a voter who was like, "Well, the one issue, I'm not sure about Trump. The tax returns he didn't release, but he did say he's going to release after the election. All right, I'm voting for him."
LIZZA: What I'm just saying, you can't say he got through the election, he won, so this issue doesn't matter. He promised to release them.
BORGER: Do you think the IRS is sitting on his audit for some reason? I mean, the President of the United States have say, "You know what, I wish they would speed up my audit so that I could release my tax returns." That would be grant (ph).
MILLER: That was the last administration.
BORGER: Well, no, he doesn't have to -- listen, he can say it directly to the camera just like he said that he'd like the Russians to release Hillary Clinton's e-mails, right?
COOPER: Or defund -- I mean, defund the IRS so the audit will just go on through --
BORGER: Well, there you go.
COOPER: For ages, I guess.
BEGALA: Some people want to know how much he made. Is he as effective a businessman as he says, not interested? I think he's highly effective, doesn't it? Fabulously wealthy guy. Some people want to know how much he paid, right? Many years apparently he didn't pay. No, he did. That's not for me.
I want to go all the way back to the founding fathers, who were terribly concerned about a president who was compromised by a foreign power. That's why I don't agree with it, but why they put in the constitution you can't be a foreign-born American and become president. That's why they have these monuments clauses (ph), as well as president, you can't be earning money from a foreign government.
It is a real and present problem that founders warned us about that is still here today. Is our president compromised by a hostile foreign power? We know his election was affected by hostile foreign power. We want to know if his finances are (inaudible).
COOPER: And when you say compromised, you mean loans from Chinese banks --
BEGALA: It could be loan from his (inaudible) investments, even if he has investments there.
COOPER: -- from Russian banks, from wherever. BEGALA: I mean, I think the fact that he has these Trump Towers in all kinds of countries, some of which we don't have very good relationships with is a conflict of interest. They should have divested himself entirely with this business and there is a good argument. There's a lawsuit pending that says his continuing --
BEGALA: -- that receive --
BEGALA: --governments is a violation of the constitution. This week, the Mexican government granted him a bunch of trademarks. Why? The Chinese government did, last week.
COOPER: Right, trademarks which by the way in past years they had refused to grant --
BEGALA: Right, when he was not president. And so this conflicts that he has, that to me is the most important thing. That's why I want to see everything in his tax return.
JONES: And, also, I think, again, for the Republicans -- listen, way smaller dinkier stuff than this is going on with urban mayors who, you know, little tiny things. And Republicans jump up and down. You know what they say? They say, clean government, lean government, transparency, and that's one of the great things about the Republican Party.
But on this, if you ask a question, just a basic question, you're trying to delegitimate the president, the same people who -- listen, there's way more evidence that this guy has some problem with Russia than ever that Obama was born in Kenya, you guys spent years on a birth certificate. This is actually real stuff.
LEWIS: Maybe we should change the law, though, because there is no law that Donald Trump has to release his taxes. Maybe there should be.
BORGER: And there's been a proposal. People have proposed it in Congress.
[21:15:01] LEWIS: I think it might be a good idea, but right now, it's not like those small-town mayors or whatever that are involved in scandal because there's nothing illegal with that.
BEGALA: But it could be unconstitutional. It is not -- it is unconstitutional if he's accepting payments from a foreign government.
BEGALA: It is an argument in a lawsuit that he's doing that every day with these foreign investments that we already know about.
COOPER: Well the other -- I mean, to your point, you know, he had talked during the campaign about a blind trust. Obviously, the setup he has now, he still, you know, he says he's not doing the day to day running. He's not talking to his sons who are running the company about the business, but he still is investing --
MILLER: He still owns it.
COOPER: Right, he still owns it.
JONES: It's a sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Listen, here's -- I don't understand how you -- why can't we just be in reality? This is sloppy. It's weird. It doesn't make sense. I mean, if he has nothing to hide, he should reveal it. You're right, there's no law. But we're talking about this kind of stuff as opposed talking about real stuff.
MILLER: But now we've moved from the conspiracy theories. I'm trying to say that there (inaudible) collision with foreign governments. I mean, I've seen episodes of "The Axe Files" that were more plausible than, you know, what Paul's coming up here. But, look, Van, what I feel that you're moving too he is penalizing someone for being successful in this country.
MILLER: And that's -- no, look --
COOPER: How is that? How is that?
MILLER: Well, because by attacking and saying that, you know, that we have -- there has given the thought that there has to be something untoward in his tax returns. And that's absolutely not. And I think that's -- to say that on President of United States, I think it's going just -- I think it's just a little --
BORGER: Didn't his son once say that it was so complicated that it would be this high and there were hundreds of thousands of pages and it would be too complicated to digest? He's a successful businessman. It's not too complicated to digest. Just like health care, we all know it's complicated. We can digest it.
And, if you're a successful businessman, you know, we don't have precedent for this, I get that, and so everybody's kind of feeling their way on this. But if this kind of stuff gets drip, drip, drip, the White House is going to have to answer these things, drip, drip, drip, why not just put his tax returns out there and --
BORGER: Well, but he could say, "OK, I wish they'd hurry up on that." COOPER: Yeah. But also at this point, since he doesn't care about his business anymore, because he said he's not part of that world, you know, is it more important to be, if you believe that as president you should have your tax returns out there, and he generally wants that, he could make the decision.
You know what, some silly audit is less important to me than being president of the United States and not having any questions out there at all. I mean, he's not draining the swamp. This is one big step in that direction. That would be the counter argument to that.
JONES: And I think it's dangerous to say that any criticism of the president along these lines is wholly illegitimate. Either you're jealous with him being rich or you're a conspiracy theorist or you're something that I don't -- I think that's dangerous. I think what we want to be able to do and say, a bunch of people voted for him and have confidence in him. And that's great.
But other people still don't have confidence and it is dangerous when -- we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. We might have to pull this country together quickly. But when you -- if you have half the country still feeling from rug burn about the election and still have question marks, why not put the unity of the country first and answer the stuff. And I think you would expect that from a Democratic president, you know, that these kinds of questions being ask.
LIZZA: And the issue is not going away, right? I mean, you talked about how there's no evidence of collusion with the Russians. Paul talked about how you want that investigated.
Look, the bipartisan House intelligence investigation laid out four things they're going to look at. One of them is, was there collusion with American persons potentially related to the Trump campaign and the Russians hacking effort? So that is something that's being looked at by Nunes and Adam Schiff, Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
One of the questions they're going to have is, would it make sense to look at Donald Trump's tax returns to get some answers on that? So -- and other committees in Congress have also raised this question. So the White House at some point, they might be subpoenaed for these tax returns. So, even after tonight, I don't think that this issue is going away.
BORGER: And Republicans -- I mean, Susan Collins, I believe, is a Republican who said at some point we may have to subpoena his tax returns. Would he rather release it?
BEGALA: You know Donald Trump. I don't. Would he comply with a subpoena from Congress asking for his tax returns?
MILLER: I think he'd listen to his general counsel. I think he'd listen to his accountants and he probably follow their lead.
BORGER: I mean --
BEGALA: What does that mean?
MILLER: Listen --
MILLER: -- I'm not the White House general counsel, so --
BEGALA: But you don't think (inaudible) subpoena.
MILLER: Again, I'm not a lawyer. I'm not an accountant.
BEGALA: Listen to what -- where it all takes.
MILLER: But what I do know is -- I do think that this has been settled, and I think people would care a lot more about their health care and tax cuts.
COOPER: We're going to talk -- a lot more to talk about next, including the legal angles on this. CNN's Jeff Toobin joins us with that. We'll be right back.
[21:22:17] COOPER: We are talking about a revelation of the Trump campaign. Later, the Trump White House said would never happen at least not as long as Mr. Trump was, as they claim, under audit. Tonight, one piece of one year Donald Trump's tax returns have leaked and the White House is reacting already. CNN Jim Acosta is back with new information from the White House. Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. There was this story breaking tonight that Donald Trump's 2005 tax return was obtained, and so to try to get ahead of that story, the White House essentially tried to break the news first that back in 2005 then businessman Trump made $150 million --
ACOSTA: --$38 million in federal income taxes, essentially confirming what appears to be in this 2005 tax return.
We should point out, we at CNN have not obtained that tax return, but we have obtained what is a fairly scathing statement from the White House, printed up on screen for you. This is a portion of it. It says, "Mr. Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction on an income of more than $150 million as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and unemployment taxes -- excuse me, employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that. Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns."
And you almost (inaudible) like, Anderson, there's an echo of President Trump in that statement where it says it is totally illegal to publish this. That sounds like its coming straight from the mouth of President Trump. And at the top of that statement, it goes on to say that whoever is putting this out there tonight is desperate for ratings, and so desperate that they're willing to publish something that has been stolen.
Anderson, obviously, that this just sort of reveals how deeply sensitive this is in terms of a secret for the President of the United States. He does not want to release these tax returns. He has said time and again, his officials have said time and again, it's because he's under this routine audit. But as we've discussed many, many times on this network, he is under -- no obligation to keep those a secret because he's under an audit. He can go ahead and release those tax returns as presidential candidates have done all the way back to 1970s when Richard Nixon was president.
And we should also point out, this is not the first time this is happening. Back in 1995, then businessman Trump lost some $900 million revenue in his businesses, his casino businesses, and that was basically something that allowed him to not pay federal income taxes for some 18 years. How do we know that? That is because "The New York Times" obtained that 1995 return and released it during the campaign.
The president feels like the public just doesn't care about this, and so he's going to continue to keep these tax return secret, although it does raise a prospect that everyone in a while this tax returns just may leak out, as it's happening tonight, Anderson.
[21:25:03] COOPER: Yeah. And as Philip Bump from "Washington Post" reminded me short time ago, the tax returns prior to 2008 are actually no longer under audit, and we know that because Donald Trump's attorneys put that in a letter that was publicly released. So, that argument that all those tax returns are under audit, that's simply not true for those returns. Jim, we'll continue to check in with you as developments warrant.
Back now with our panel. Joining us is CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, as well as CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, of course, Gloria Borger remains.
Jeff, I mean, the legal standpoint the White House very clearly saying these are stolen, this is illegal. Are they right?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know.
COOPER: Whether they're stolen or not.
TOOBIN: It is illegal for an IRS person to give out a tax return. That is clearly a crime. However, if MSNBC has them, any number of people could have given it to MSNC and it certainly wouldn't be anything illegal that MSNBC did, if an accountant did, if a family member did, if someone found it on the street and gave it to MSNBC. MSNBC would be under no legal obligation not to publish it. The only people who are prohibited from disclosing a tax return are the people who have a legal obligation to keep it secret and that's the IRS.
COOPER: Right. Gloria, you made the point earlier that Donald Trump has been involved in a lot of lawsuits. BORGER: Absolutely.
COOPER: (Inaudible) discovery it's very possible there are copies of his tax forms in various files and various places during across the country.
BORGER: Right, particularly if he's involved in lawsuits that involved real estate and money and income and all the rest. And so I think --
BORGER: --be that some --
BORGER: -- in discovery. And, you know, one of the things I want to say, just looking at these numbers, you know, you look at it overall and you say, "Oh, it looks like he paid 25 percent or maybe he didn't." Maybe he paid a smaller amount and then had to pay alternative minimum tax and all the rest.
We need to know the details here before we kind of see whether he took advantage of what "The New York Times" reported. You know, a tax break that he got that would have helped him for the next 18 years. We really don't know much other than the bottom line figures here.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: "The Daily Beast," which has seen the document has reported just to your point that about 5 percent, he paid about $5 million on his regular federal income tax returns and the rest was alternative minimum.
BORGER: Which he wants to get rid of, yeah.
GERGEN: He wants to get rid of it. So -- but I must say, these returns are tantalizing, but I don't think they're explosive. From what we've seen so far, $38 million, as Jeffrey and I were talking about this before coming on, in the lives of rich Americans and the tax code is often skewed in their favor. $38 million and 150 income, I don't think it's all that outside of the mainstream.
TOOBIN: Not at all. I mean, you know, in the realm of people who make $150 million, paying $38 million is, at least as I'm familiar with the law, is in the range of average.
COOPER: And for those who are saying Donald Trump is not as wealthy as he claims, which may or may not be true, a lot of people are going to hear he made $150 million and say mazel tov. I mean, that's a great year.
TOOPER: -- unfortunate, we will say Mosul (ph).
TOOBIN: But, it's also 2005. I mean, that's a long time ago. I mean, he's had a lot of financial history since then, which we know nothing about.
COOPER: Philip Bump from "The Washington Post" is still with us. You know, Philip, I mean, as we were talking about earlier, so much of this became a story because of Donald Trump's bragging about his wealth on the campaign trail, his talking about his wealth on the campaign trail (inaudible) over the years, questions have been raised, is he as rich as he says he is. Many people in the financial world will kind of exaggerate their wealth.
So, it really became an issue on the campaign trail to see whether he was telling the truth and also to see whether he was telling the truth on charitable giving, which he had said he'd given away tens of millions of dollars. But when you look at -- when, you know, reporters from "The Washington Post" and elsewhere looked at his foundation, the amount of money in that foundation was relatively small and in some cases was donated by other people that Donald Trump was then distributing.
BUMP: That's right. And actually in most cases in, if I remember exactly (ph) since 2008, all of the money that came into the Trump foundation had come from other people, who've been giving to him from a variety of different --
BUMP: --he'd done event --
BUMP: -- money for that. And so it really undercut his claim that he was a very charitable person, because the mean body that he had to actually disburse money to charities was this foundation, and he wasn't putting any money into it. So that's one of the big question marks that have been looming over this.
I mean, it's also the case that -- and I think David Gergen himself actually made this point several months ago, that Donald Trump is coming into the presidency without any track record. He doesn't have any track record in politics. His only track record is his business record. And that is a black box.
We don't know how much he made. We don't know the extent to which he made millions of dollars each year. We no know that he made this amount in 2005, apparently, but he (inaudible) said that -- he said in the court filing that in one point in time that he valued his own net worth depending on how he felt that day.
[21:30:09] So, you know, we never had any real sense of Donald Trump's only credentials being his business background. We never had any sense of how solid that actually is. COOPER: I also want to bring in another guest joining us on the phone. He is Bloomberg Executive Editor, Timothy O'Brien.
Tim, you have actually seen some of Donald Trump's tax returns because he sued you after you wrote -- I think when you were at "The New York Times" that basically questioning his actual net worth, saying -- I think what you were saying that it wasn't as much as he was claiming, he sued you for that. Correct me if I'm wrong, you won that lawsuit. The lawsuit was dismissed. You've been looking at these documents, what jumps out at you?
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, BLOOMBERG EXECUTIVE EDITOR (via telephone): Well, you know, so that he as part of discovery in our litigation turned over a lot of financial records, including bank records, tax records, and business records. Those were turned over to us in discovery and there was a court order filling them, so there's a lot about them.
Specifically, Anderson, I can't speak to, but what I've said generally about his return is that if he was to offer a very full and robust disclosure of the returns, it would get to a lot of statements he's made about his (inaudible) days as a successful businessman, as a generous philanthropist, as someone who, you know, puts jobs in America first and foremost.
I think all of the -- and the financial and business pressures that would come to bear on him in the White House. And I think that's the reason why he's been reluctant to see these released.
I think the '05 returns, the reporting I saw on it tonight in "The Daily Beast," and then briefly watching some of Rachel Maddow's program, I think there's some erroneous reporting there about what were the sources of Trump's income that year, et cetera, et cetera. But the core fact about the '05 return that's been disclosed is that when you strip out the alternative minimum tax, there are a lot of things that he had to pay that boosted his income tax -- income taxes. He paid very little income tax on the incomes he earned.
And so, that's an issue that's obviously been out there due to people with substantial income, pay enough their fair share on their income, are they able to take advantage of the tax code in such a way that their incomes protected. And certainly --
COOPER: You know, one of the things --
O'BRIEN (via telephone): Go ahead.
COOPER: --Tim, though that's interesting about Donald Trump as a candidate was he basically preempted a lot of that by saying, you know what, I tried to take advantage as much as possible. I'm not quoting him directly, but his general message was, "I tried to do everything I could to pay as little as possible and that made me smarter as businessman." And so, I always found that kind of interesting that he kind of preempted any discussion of that by sort of saying, "Yeah, look, I would've tried to do everything legally possible."
O'BRIEN (via telephone): And I think most people are interested in trying to lower their tax returns. I think that's not irrational, and he's a businessman who was entitled to do that as long as he took advantage of, you know, legal loopholes.
I think, however, in Trump's case, one of the things he benefitted from was a massive write-off, a tax loss or, you know, business loss of over $900 million that he was able to carry forward from the mid '90s, into his tax returns into the early knot (ph), including the 2005 return.
And the reason he was able to take advantage of that loophole wasn't simply because he was a smart businessman taking advantage of the tax code, it was actually because he'd been a horrible business person in most of his real estate dealings in the late '80s and early '90s, and those losses was able to take advantage of were reflective of the massive loans that he couldn't pay back, and the business losses he suffered because of that.
COOPER: There had been reporting, Tim, and you would probably be more up on this than my memory is, but I seem to recall some people doing reporting about had he taken the money that he got early on from, whether it's from his father or that he had early on and invested it, he -- that people were comparing how he would have done then with how he did in his own business.
O'BRIEN (via telephone): Yeah, yeah, that argument was that if he had simply sat on the very lush inheritance he received from his father and invested it in an index fund in the stock market and sat back, he would have had more money than he ever generated by blowing it left and right on a number of hotel, casino and real estate deals that didn't work out.
[21:35:09] There's some truth to that, obviously, but no one is left in a static environment. The reality is, until the "Apprentice" or about 1991 until the dawn of the "Apprentice" and around 2004 when Trump earned some substantial income from the "Apprentice," he had been on essentially an allowance from the bank. He -- it was difficult for him to get bank loans, he was something of a pariah in the banking community because of his track record as a business person and none of it reflected someone who is as robust a businessman as he has always claimed to be.
COOPER: "TrumpNation" author, Tim O'Brien, we appreciate you being with us. There's more breaking news ahead.
Gloria, is it possible that, you know, is it possible that Donald Trump release himself? I mean, this is, you know, an idea that's out there that he may have released this information himself to get the --
COOPER: with the idea --
COOPER: --coming out tomorrow. We are now told that was our breaking news at the top of the last hour, going to be talking about what if anything the FBI's investigating in a hearing in front of Lindsey Graham's committee.
BORGER: I think that question has to be taken seriously. The White House was Johnny on the spot with a response on this. I think that, however, this -- and on the face of it looks like a decent story for Trump, although I would argue that paying, you know, $5 million on taxes on a $150 million, aside from the alternative minimum tax, is what a couple of earning 400,000.
Is it sort of -- it's the functional 24 percent, the functional equivalent of what a couple earning 400,000 would pay. I think that it's unlikely to me. He might have tweeted it if he wanted to release it. But, look, I think he would have to think of everything because the next news cycles are going to be --
COOPER: We're going to take a quick
COOPER: --with our Russia story shortly, more breaking news ahead. Word on efforts to sell the GOP Obamacare replacement bill and resistance from a growing number of Republicans. We'll be right back.
[21:41:12] COOPER: Well, the White House spent the day embracing parts of the House Obamacare replacement bill, like in part of the assessment a bit from the Congressional Budget Office that down playing outright dismissing another namely the estimated 24 million fewer people would be insured under the legislation by 2026.
Now, the reaction has been intense all day. Some moderate House Republican showing away from the bill. Number of Senate Republicans calling it dead on arrival and Democrats -- well, they're certainly savaging.
We get more on report right now from Phil Mattingly. He joins us from the Capitol. I understand the White House is trying to work with some Republican leaders to try and make changes to the bill, right?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's exactly right. That at least what they're saying they're trying to do. They've been reaching out to conservatives, but I think it's important to note here, Anderson, that directly undercuts what House leaders have been trying to do for over here for the last couple of days.
If they have it their way, the proposal that is currently standing out there right now will go to the House floor substantively unchanged. What one House aide told me is any effort by the White House to kind of freelance on this is only hindering what they're trying to do where they want changes to occur, in the Senate, not in the House. They want muscle (ph) this through, but the big question right now is, Anderson, if they want to get it to the Senate they have to find the votes first. And you mentioned at CBO score. You can say that things were kind of palpably unsettled over on Capitol Hill throughout the day-to-day as Republican is trying to adjust to this.
A canary in the coal mine of sorts if you will, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican member from Florida, a more moderate member, but somebody who has been a stalwart vote with leadership every time. She came out today and said she would be voting no. Why, because her Florida constituents would not be getting coverage, Anderson. That is a serious concern for leaders going forward.
MATTINGLY: All right, Phil Mattingly. Phil thanks.
Back with Gloria Borger, David Gergen. Joining us, David Walker, former Head of the Government Accountability Office. David Walker let me start with you. What do you make of how this is all playing out, and particularly, how the White House -- they're blasting the CBO report except for the parts that they like.
DAVID WALKER, FORMER U.S. COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Well, the fact of the matter is the CBO is the honest broker. They're the ones who keep the score, and while they do a better job generally on estimating the financial impact, you've got to make estimates about how many people are going to be covered in order to do the financial impact.
You know, the good news is that you'll reduce the deficit 337 billion over 10 year if you're providing more flexibility in choice and premiums won't go up as much over time. The bad news, 14 to 24 million people loss coverage. Medicare Part A goes insolvent, the trust fund four years earlier, and they're not really doing anything with regard to drug coverage and seniors end up taking along the chance.
So, bottom line, I think a bill will eventually get to the president's desk, but it won't be this bill because this bill won't make it through the Senate.
COOPER: David Walker, do you think President Trump -- has candidate Trump promised too much?
WALKER: Well, frankly, I think the American -- we need to have a discussion with the American people about how much universal health care is appropriate, affordable and sustainable. We've over promised. We over subsidized. We under deliver.
We got $32 trillion in unfunded promises for Medicare, $11 trillion for social security. We need to have a debate about how much should we have everybody, irrespective of age. In my view, that's preventive, wellness and catastrophic protection.
You're always going to do more for the poor and the disabled. We always going to do whatever we can for veterans, but we've over promised for a vast majority of the population. We need to rationalize those promises and we need to target our subsidies much better and pay for outcomes rather than activities. That's the bottom line. COOPER: David Gergen, do you agree with that?
GERGEN: Look, I think there's a very strong argument when you get beyond the CBO, whether it works or doesn't work. What we don't know is there are other groups who have also said there are going to be a lot of people thrown off, millions of people thrown off standard enforcers that (inaudible) has done that and so forth.
[21:45:06] So, I think the hard questions and the moral question was the Democrats are going to score some points than the moderate Republicans are. How can you justify lowering taxes on the rich and we just been talking about loopholes for the rich, probably Donald Trump. How can you justify lowering taxes for the rich and cutting back on Medicaid and there is consequence of that for intends of millions of American of health insurance. How do you morally justify that in society?
I think that's a very hard argument for them to overcome. And the dilemma they have is an order to address that to try to get the number who thrown off way down, you know, it's a much more expensive bill, and you can't get it passed by the Republicans.
COOPER: And, Gloria, I mean, Paul Begala earlier was making a point that a lot of this people who may not benefiting under this bill or the very people Donald Trump was talking too so well during the campaign who voted for.
BORGER: And there are a lot of studies that have been done about this one by the Urban Institutes that I was looking, which says that there will have disproportionate impact on working class voters in red states.
And so, these congressmen are not going to be thrilled to vote for this. And Donald Trump could pay for it in the end, because his voters, if they lose benefits, if they lose Medicaid, some of them, then they're going to be really unhappy about it and lots of his Republican governors will be unhappy about it.
COOPER: We have more breaking news tonight. New information on the FBI investigations, the questions have ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. It could be getting a lot more interesting just a few hours. FBI coming out publicly. We'll tell you about the next.
[21:50:26] COOPER: Well, the other breaking story tonight involves the question of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Now, we've learned after months refusing to openly confirm the existence of an FBI investigation into it, Director James Comey is about to go on the record.
CNN's Manu Raju joins us with the very latest. So, this is the breaking story tonight. What are you learning? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yeah, that's right, Anderson. The FBI Director James Comey privately told two senators in a meeting earlier this month that he would discuss whether or not there is actually an FBI investigation ongoing into the Trump campaign officials contacts allegedly that occurred with Russian officials during the presidential election.
Now, this is according to one of the senators who is at that meeting, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island. He's a ranking member of a judiciary subcommittee within this meeting with Senator Lindsey Graham. They were discussing their own Russia investigation.
In that meeting, Comey would not confirm whether or not the FBI is indeed investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia, but what he told Whitehouse and Graham was that by tomorrow when the subcommittee is going to have its own hearing on Russia that he would confirm the existence of this investigation.
Now, we don't know for sure what Comey will do tomorrow, because I've asked the FBI for comment and right now, Anderson, they're not commenting.
COOPER: Lindsey Graham clearly also wants any evidence of whether President Obama wiretapped Donald Trump's phones or Trump Tower as Donald Trump himself -- as President Trump has alleged. Will Comey talk about that tomorrow? Do we know?
RAJU: We don't know yet. That's the expected -- that's the hope from these two senators. Now, those two senators actually also sent a letter to Comey, to the FBI, asking for any details about wiretapping to be provided to their committee and Senator Lindsey Graham told me that he's prepared to get "tough" on the DOJ tomorrow if the Justice Department does not actually provide any of that information about wiretapping.
But I can tell you, Anderson, even in private classified briefings, senators emerging from those briefing on the intelligence committee say they still have not seen evidence yet to support Trump's claims, so we'll see what they say. And, also, a public hearing next week when James Comey goes before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, Anderson.
COOPER: Manu Raju, I appreciate the breaking news.
Back with the panel, also joining the panel is former CIA Russian Operation Veteran Steven Hall.
Steven, you also have a lot of dealings with Congress when you were in your long period with CIA. What do you expect tomorrow from Comey? And how much confidence do you have in the multiple investigations that are going on a Capitol Hill?
STEVEN HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a big deal, Anderson, right? And really, whatever the FBI director comes out with tomorrow is going to be important and in my view concerning. On the one hand, you know, if he says, yes, there is sufficient evidence for the FBI to be investigating as to whether or not the Trump campaign had some sort of cooperation, perhaps collusion with the Russian government before the election, that's a significant thing. It's a very big deal.
On the other hand, if he comes out and says, nope, there's nothing there. You know, we're pretty much done. I think that's of concern as well, especially when you start lining up all the different things that are out there that sort of tie the Trump campaign to the Russians whether or not it's Michael Flynn activities, whether or not it's the Russians themselves saying they had communication and contact with the Trump campaign or any of the other people that are out there, Stone, Manafort, the rest of them.
I mean, is it possibly if that's all just happenstance? I suppose it could be. So, really, either way it's going to be important and it's going to be concerning with what -- with regard to what Comey says.
COOPER: Although, Gloria -- it's entirely possible, Gloria, that Comey just says, yes there is an investigation --
COOPER: -- but I can't say -- we haven't reached any conclusions or I just can't say anything more about it.
BORGER: Right. And he can say I can't tell you the scope of the investigation, I can't tell you where we're looking -- whether we're looking into contacts. I can tell you that there is an open investigation and I will confirm that, period. And then move on.
I mean, he, you know, aside from the blip (ph) I think during the campaign, Comey, you know, hasn't been that willing to go out there and tell people exactly what he's investigating.
I mean, it was shocking when he did it during the campaign. And I don't think that he's likely to say to Congress, "Here's the parameters of what we're doing and here's what we know so far." Unless he says, "We have no evidence that Barack Obama was tapping Donald Trump's phone." I mean --
GERGEN: There's an important distinction beyond the wiretapping issue, which I think you will have to address.
[21:55:03] There's important distinction about whether he is investigating contacts between the Russians and associates of the Trump campaign.
COOPER: Or the Trump organization.
GERGEN: Or the Trump organization and collusion on the election. That's a very different, you know, that goes in a very different direction if there's collusion and that's what they're investigating. And I think, if anybody on the Trump side thought by releasing or secretly sending out tax returns that overplay the story -- if he's investigating for collusion --
COOPER: Do you think that there's actually a possibility that -- I mean, I ask detective, Gloria --
GERGEN: Got anonymously in the mail?
COOPER: The guy from "The Daily Beast" who actually broke the story.
COOPER: You're saying --
LIZZA: Yeah. I think that David Cay Johnson, a former Pulitzer Prize winning "New York Times" reporter, very well respected on these issues, he apparently got the two pages of tax documents from 2005 in the mail anonymously, the same way that "New York Times" got the 1995 taxes.
COOPER: Right and they're --
LIZZA: I believe right now, I should put up my mailing address.
BORGER: It wasn't postmarked 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, right?
LIZZA: Exactly, yeah.
BORGER: I mean, we don't know.
LIZZA: And Comey -- for a second, I do think there are two issues that we're looking for. One is, he made an extraordinary -- he set an extraordinary precedent in 2016 when he said he went public with Hillary Clinton investigation and give an enormous amount of documents and public testimony about it because it was of such public interests.
Well, one of the Presidents of the United States or associates has any relationship with the Russian who hacked into the DNC is also of enormous public interests. And by the standard he lay down last year, he should be quite forthcoming and tell the American people what is going on with the investigation.
BORGER: So, what if they don't know the answers?
COOPER: You know, Steve, I mean, you've had such an amazing -- fascinating career at the CIA and are probably used to conspiracy theories and a lot of the stuff you've been hearing. But, when you see just the sheer volume of questionable things, you know, Flynn lying to the vice president, you know, all this sort of -- the little pieces, which there's no evidence yet of any kind of collusion, there is no evidence of collusion, isn't to you are all those pieces just too many to be a coincidence?
HALL: Anderson, I look at it from counterintelligence perspective and admittedly that is a very different threshold from a legal perspective or for, you know, bringing somebody to trial or court.
For me from a counterintelligence perspective, if I were looking at this, you know, in my old job, there's way too much smoke, so there could be absolutely no fire. But that doesn't mean that I think everything that's come up is of concern. For example, I don't believe that Flynn's contact with --
HALL: -- inauguration kind of thing. But, there's a lot of other stuff that I think is significant and there's just too much there.
To answer part of the earlier question, Anderson, with regard to whether Congress is -- and this committees were able to deal with this, I -- my experience with the oversight committees is that, you know, they're very professional, they set up to do, you know, to deal with classified information. Their professional staffers are cleared, but there's always a significant political vein running through all of it.
I mean, take subpoenas, for example. If they subpoena information to further this investigation, they have to have a majority vote in the committee to do this. And I just don't see that happening. I think it's going to be much more independence than relying unfortunately on the politicians and the committees.
LIZZA: And the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, these have already warned that if this process breaks down over subpoenas or other issues that they're --
LIZZA: -- investigation.
BORGER: And --
BORGER: -- going into a volt --
BORGER: -- you know, CIA, and they're leafing through thousands and thousands of pages of documents. This takes a lot of time. And it's like drinking out of a fire hose for these committee members, because they're not given any guidance on what it is that they're seeing. There's just somebody sitting in the room with them while they go through these documents and they've been have to take the time and evaluate them and compare with each other what they've seen.
And so, they're not getting a lot of guidance from the FBI about which direction you should go in at this point. So, I think it's a lengthy and difficult job, which is why they want to hear from someone like Comey saying, "Yes, we take this seriously. We are investigating."
COOPER: David? GERGEN: Word from my sources on the Hill say that an expectation that these investigations are going -- will be under way for another five or six months, that we're not anywhere close to the end of things.
But beyond that, there's an interesting tie between the tax story and this story. And that is what we got was tantalizing because there's only two pages, but his tax returns, ordinary (ph) on October where a hundreds of pages long and they cover all of the business dealings. And one of the big questions that's been lingering, of course, is whether Trump's ties to Russia come because he had deeply entangled with their finance and then giving him money.
COOPER: All right. And we don't know much of that.
GERGEN: We don't know.
COOPER: I want thank everybody in our panel. Steve as well, thanks for joining us. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight."
[22:00:11] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news. Never before reveal information on President Trump's taxes --