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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Govt. Official: DOJ Report Does Not Confirm Trump's Wiretap Claim; Trump Repeats Claim Obama Administration Wiretapped Him; Kasich: The President's Words Matter; Kasich Opposes Health Care Bill; Trump Unapologetic Over British Spy Claim, U.K. Furious; Govt. Official: DOJ Report Does Not Confirm Trump's Wiretap Claim; Pres. Trump Wants to Eliminate After-School Program. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 17, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight with breaking news that knocks the legs if there were any left out of President Trump's claim that then President Obama had him wiretapped. It comes from a long awaited report the Department of Justice is giving congressional investigators.
Our Manu Raju has just gotten the bottom line. He joins us now.
So, what are your sources telling you about this DOJ report?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, tonight, Anderson, a government official tells me that there is nothing in this report that will corroborate a central claim made by the president of the United States that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had ordered wiretaps of him and spite on him during the presidential campaign.
Now, this source tells me that that claim that the president made is false and that the claim is not backed up by the records that were submitted from the Justice Department to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Judiciary Committee today.
Now, this comes after this was released early in the afternoon to these committees in a classified setting. Going into the briefing room where Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, reviewed it. I asked him, do you think these records will corroborate what the president said? He said, "I don't think so."
And Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Committee, emerged from this room. He had not yet seen it, but he was about to review these documents in the coming hours. He said, "There's really no question about this. The president's statements before and his tweets since leading right up to today have no basis in fact." He said he was absolutely confident there was nothing in this DOJ letter that would prove President Trump correct.
So, it looks like a rebuke, Anderson, from the president's own Department of Justice on this claim he continues to hang onto over the last couple of weeks. COOPER: So, I know earlier, there was some indication that parts of
the reports might be classified. Is there a chance then that we might not find out what it actually says?
RAJU: There is a chance of that, Anderson. This was a classified report read in a classified briefing room. There was only one copy that was given to the House Intelligence Committee that members had to come in and out and look and review earlier today.
But Monday is a key moment. That's when there will be a hearing on Capitol Hill. James Comey will be among those who are testifying. He'll be asked about this, and what does he say publicly? What does he reveal publicly?
We don't know yet, but we're expecting according to some that he will back down these reports of wiretapping. So, that could be the first time we actually hear what's revealed publicly. But, for now, from what we're understanding, there's nothing in here that confirms what President Trump ha been saying.
COOPER: All right. Manu Raju -- Manu, thanks very much for that breaking news.
The Department of Justice report is just the latest in a string of high profile refutations of what the president claims. In the last 13 days, one official after another, and one lawmaker after another, Republican and Democrat, have come forward to say they've seen no evidence to back up the president's early morning Saturday spasm of tweets.
Now, despite all that, today the president reaffirmed his belief that he was wiretapped and he did it in the most public way possible, standing next to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in front of American and German and other international journalists.
Angela Merkel, who was actually eavesdropped upon by U.S. intelligence, the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as wiretapping, I guess by, you know, this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A joke. Kind of charming maybe.
But it's a joke based on something there is no evidence of. No evidence. And yet, the president of the United States continues to talk about it.
Now, he did use the word "perhaps" today, meaning perhaps he was wiretapped by the past administration. Maybe that's progress, a shadow of doubt, or maybe that's just the latest way the president is trying to distance himself from his bold and direct claims against President Obama. Perhaps it happened. When he tweeted about it 13 days ago, there was no perhaps in those tweets.
The president, mostly through his spokesman, has been trying to distance himself for days, it seems, by attempting to redefine what he actually meant in those tweets. He didn't really mean wiretapping. He put it in quotes sometimes.
He didn't really mean President Obama. He didn't really mean himself. It was done to other people around him. Now, he's saying perhaps.
In trying to defend the president, his spokesman has created a whole other problem. He's created something of an international incident, angering our closest ally in the world, Great Britain. Yesterday, Sean Spicer cited numerous media reports about surveillance, he inaccurately characterized reporting by "The New York Times" and then seemed to embrace a completely unproven allegation made by a commentator on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Last on FOX News on March 14th, Andrew Napolitano made the following statement. Quote, "Three intelligence sources have informed FOX News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn't use the NSA. He didn't use the CIA. He didn't use the FBI, and he didn't use the Department of Justice.
He used GCHQ. What is that? It's the initials for the British intelligence spying agency. So, simply by having two people say to them president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump's conversations, involving President-elect Trump, he's able to get it, and there's no American fingerprints on this.
[20:05:11] Putting the published accounts and common sense together, this leads to a lot."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that is the spokesman for the president of the United States speaking from the podium at the White House. In response, Britain's GCHQ did something they rarely ever do. They publicly denied Judge Napolitano's claim, calling him not just wrong, but I'm using their words here, nonsense.
Not only that, we've learned there were two conversations or confrontations between British officials and the White House today. A British official telling CNN the meeting between Sean Spicer and Britain's ambassador was serious in tone and not cordial. There were reports earlier today that Sean Spicer had apologized.
But later today, Spicer told reporters off camera, quote, "We just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts. That's it." He went on to say, quote, "I don't think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain."
And President Trump today, he didn't actually make a strong stand. He pointed the figurer elsewhere as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All we did was quote a talented legal mind responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so, you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to FOX. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's the president of the United States saying, hey, I didn't make that unfounded allegation. I just made sure it was heard around the world by having my spokesperson read it out from the podium at the White House. It doesn't mean we believe it just because we said it.
After the president said talked to FOX, FOX News then had to make a public statement. Shepard Smith was given that task.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: FOX News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. FOX News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that is where were tonight. Britain, our closest ally in the world, upset that the White House is trafficking in claims made by a TV commentator that British intelligence was running a secret operation off the books for the president of the United States against the man who is now the president of the United States.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but these days, fiction is getting a lot more play, perhaps.
Joining us is CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers and Maggie Haberman. Also, Trump supporters, Alice Stewart and Jeffrey Lord. She's a former communication director for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. And he is a senior contributor to "The American Spectator", perhaps.
COOPER: I'm pretty sure he is. That we know actually.
So, Maggie, I mean, you have Manu's reporting, which is huge news if it's later confirmed and if Monday -- if Comey actually comes out Monday, that kind of puts the whole thing to rest, I guess.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, if you look at what the president said, it's either true o not true that his phones were tapped. I understand that we have sort of walked it backwards from the podium. The White House has to suggest we were talking about a broader range of surveillance.
My understanding from people I've spoken to at the White House is the president does believe that he will be vindicated in some way. He genuinely has come to believe that -- a maybe believed it before -- that there will be some sort of surveillance that will show up, you know, perhaps elsewhere in Trump Tower if not of him or, you know, Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman has an apartment in Trump Tower. That's one theory that had been posited.
But, again, we are talking about the severity and the weight of both a president saying this and the press secretary saying this. The press secretary at the White House, from that podium, isn't just speaking as a spokesman for the president. They're essentially a spokesperson for the country, and so, reading an unverified report about our ally, about intelligence involving our ally that is not true as it turns, that FOX News on their air took the extra step of saying this is not true, and we have no independent confirmation of this, which is very unusual for them.
There is no responsibility that the president has taken for owning any of these words, and at a certain point, the risk for this White House is when everything is treated like it is essentially a rapid response operation out of the RNC, which is where a lot of the people who work there came from, there will at some point be a crisis that's not of their own making. All of these so far have been. And at some point, they're going to need the public to believe them and hear what they're saying.
And so, there is a real danger in going down this road, unless it's possible that Comey will come out and say something entirely different, something that validates what the president said. But this is pretty clear cut, and at a certain point, it's going to be hard to keep making the argument that there is something, you're just not seeing it.
COOPER: Alice, I mean, that is a larger issue about a crisis of credibility really.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. And what started virtually two weeks ago as what appears now to be a weapon of mass distraction has turned into a web of mass distortion of the facts. And no one really knows which end is up. And when we have not just this latest DOJ report, but we have House and Senate Intel Committee members on, as you indicated, both sides, Republicans and Democrats saying there is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim, I think that's a problem.
[20:10:10] And I think what he needs to do from all standpoints, not just a communication standpoint, is to come clean and say, look, OK, maybe I may have overstated this.
And the fortunate thing, he is the president of the United States. Judge Napolitano is phenomenal and brilliant, but the president has the benefit of being able to call the officials and saying, let's lay it all out on the table. Here's what I know. Here's what I meant. Here's what I intended to say, and put an end to this because we have a budget to talk about. We have health care to talk about.
And this has been, in my view, a big waste of time to be talking about this topic.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Kirsten, 13 days later, the White House is still trying to deal with this aftermath of a random series of early morning tweets and now has alienated Great Britain in the process.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And has sent the whole government apparatus on this wild goose chase to try to hunt this down. We have the intelligence committee looking at this. We have, you know, all of these resources being put toward this one claim. And then even, you know, what Maggie was saying how he thinks he'll be vindicated, you know, if somehow Paul Manafort was --
HABERMAN: Or whomever.
POWERS: -- or whomever was being monitored, that's not the accusation that he made. The accusation that he made was that he, personally, had his phone tapped by Barack Obama. It's a very specific allegation.
And then with Angela Merkel today said, you know, we said nothing. We just cited this FOX News report. Well, that is saying something.
So when you stand at the podium, and you cite a news report -- you know, CNN doesn't cite a news report without verifying that it's true first, right? So, shouldn't the White House do the same?
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Jeffrey, I got to say that excuse, you know, we just cited it, it does remind me a lot of then candidate Trump's repeated excuse during the campaign when he would re-tweet something that would get him in trouble, and he would say, look, I just re- tweeted it. You know, I'm just re-tweeting, which is actually a physical action that you are taking and a decision you are making to spread information further than it ordinarily would.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Anderson, I guess I'm going to be the lone voice here. I just respectfully disagree with all of my friends here. As to Alice's point -- and I must say I disagree.
Think what happened when Reince Priebus, now the White House chief of staff, was approached by the deputy director of the FBI in the White House, who told him unprompted that there was nothing to such and such an investigation. The media ran with that for days, and the idea was that Reince Priebus had overstepped, that the White House had overstepped, that they were trying to do something funny to an FBI investigation.
Can you imagine if President Trump called various people in and said, OK, I want to get to the bottom of this? The media would go nuts on this.
He's done the right thing not to do that.
COOPER: Right. But now that -- and, again, we'll know more Monday. But according to the latest reporting, the Department of Justice report does not confirm the president's claims. Jeffrey, does the president need to admit he was wrong?
LORD: No. What the president needs to do -- and frankly, I am totally dumbfounded at these Republicans on the Hill. What they need to do is take all the news accounts from Maggie's paper and put them out there and investigate those. Notice that FOX News has -- notice that FOX News has retracted its report. "The New York Times" has nut done so with these stories.
COOPER: OK, let's Maggie --
HABERMAN: I like to actually just say something. Jeffrey, there's a real problem with what you just said and there's a problem with what the president has said on this, which is that essentially, he has repeatedly said these are fake reports. Reince Priebus, to his point, in that whole conversation about the FBI and the FBI director talking to him, said these "Times" reports are not true. They told us these reports are not true.
These are the same stories that Sean Spicer is using from the podium to say this justifies our claim. And to be clear, we stand by our reporting. But these are now the same --
LORD: There you go.
HABERMAN: Right. But that's a different point than you're making. And these are now basically --
LORD: No. I'm making the point --
COOPER: Let her finish --
LORD: -- "New York Times".
HABERMAN: Anyway. So, the president and Reince Priebus said those weren't true. So I guess I'm trying to figure out what the White House thinks of this, number one.
And number two, at the end of the day, you can't -- I don't understand, I guess, if you're a White House and you want people to either believe in institutions or not believe in institutions. I guess I'm confused about how you can cite these stories and --
HABERMAN: No, no, Jeffrey, let me finish. And for the record, those stories do not say what Sean Spicer said -- claimed that they had said. Sean Spicer cited these to suggest they backed up the president's claim that he was wiretapped by the previous president.
LORD: He was surveilled.
HABERMAN: No, that is not what those stories said.
LORD: It is, Maggie. I just read them today.
HABERMAN: No, it is not. No, it is not. What those stories --
LORD: It says people in the Obama administration were responsible for surveillance, and then that surveillance was leaked to "The New York Times."
[20:15:02] HABERMAN: First of all, that's not what said, number one. Number two --
LORD: Maggie, who do the people work for if --
HABERMAN: Jeffrey, you're doing the exact same thing that Sean Spicer did, which is, respectfully, which is claim that the story said something other than what it said, to back up the president's statement, I was tapped by President Obama.
COOPER: Jeffrey --
HABERMAN: Nothing in the story said that.
COOPER: Jeffrey, we've had the reporter that you have cited multiple times. You've cited his reporting claims. We've had the reporter on twice saying you are wrong. "My article did not say what Sean Spicer and the White House and you are claiming it says."
LORD: Sean -- I mean, Sean?
I have just read again today these stories. I don't mean to -- I don't confuse Anderson with Sean.
LORD: What I am saying to you is that it is abundantly clear in those stories that people working for the Obama administration -- and let's remember, again, as I've said before, when some bureaucrat in the Agriculture Department said ketchup was a vegetable, Ronald Reagan was personally held responsible. That's what we do with presidents. Hence, Harry Truman's the buck stops here.
This happened on Barack Obama's watch with people in his administration. He was responsible.
COOPER: But, Jeffrey, did you read -- I know you've read those "New York Times" articles a lot. I would suggest you go back and read Donald Trump's tweets because what he alleged is not what you were saying. What he alleged was -- what Judge Napolitano is saying is that this is an --
LORD: Anderson, we're parsing words here.
COOPER: No, we're not parsing words. We're reading literal tweets from the president of the United States. And Judge Napolitano is doing the exact same thing. And his sourcing says that the president of the United States, President Obama, was running an off the books intel operation using British intelligence, and there's no evidence of that.
LORD: Correct. And FOX News has backed away from the story. As you just heard with Maggie, "The New York Times" is not backing away for their stories --
HABERMAN: But, Jeffrey, we're not -- our story that doesn't say -- our story that doesn't say what you said it says -- I'm sorry. But I have to defend both the reporting that my colleagues have done, which they worked very hard on, but which you are misrepresenting, Jeffrey. That is not what the stories say. --
LORD: Who do they work for?
HABERMAN: Who does who work for?
LORD: Who do the people in your stories, your sources --
HABERMAN: Well, first of all, we would not talk about it. We would not talk about who are our sources under any situation, and you know that.
LORD: Maggie --
HABERMAN: So, you can say whatever you want.
LORD: You made it plain in your stories that these were sources who were familiar with the investigations.
HABERMAN: Jeffrey, can you point to me the line in any single story that says, sources say that President Obama personally tapped, quote/unquote, President Trump's phone? That's what the tweet said.
LORD: No, no, don't do that.
HABERMAN: Don't quote the president?
COOPER: Speaking literally again.
LORD: The president of the United States is responsible for his administration, and everybody in it. And I assure you when this was Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush or anybody else, they nailed him for it. Believe me, no matter whether this guy was --
HABERMAN: I'm sorry. Do you mean the same way that President Trump today said, don't blame us. Blame FOX News for the thing that my spokesman read from the podium? Yes, that seemed -- explain to me how these are not -- that all same and on par. I'm just trying to make anything make sense out of this.
LORD: Presidents are responsible for their administration, and President Obama's administration was, in fact, surveilling him or surveilling somebody.
HABERMAN: That's totally fine. That's not what he said. And that's not what those stories say.
LORD: That's what you're saying.
HABERMAN: I'm loss now. What are you saying I'm saying? I'm actually confused. This is transitive property logic.
COOPER: Let's take a break because we're going to continue this on the other side of it. We can collect our thoughts and try to figure out what exactly is being said.
We'll have more on the subject next, including the whole apology, non- apology made by Sean Spicer to the British government.
And later, former rival, John Kasich and his advice for the president.
[20:21:56] COOPER: Well, the breaking news: we've just (ph) confirmed, an official telling us the president's own Justice Department has come to the conclusion that there's no evidence to back up the president's own claim that President Obama ordered him wiretapped. Despite presumably knowing the report's bottom line, the president say he did not back down, in fact, just the opposite.
Joining us now with more from the White House, CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
So, you were there at the press conference with Angela Merkel just a few feet away today when President Trump was asked about the wiretapping claim by a German reporter, we should point out. Tell us about the reaction from the president and in the room.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the look on the president's face was clearly one of a subject he did not necessarily want to talk about, which is interesting since he's the one who brought up this whole topic in first place. But the two U.S. reporters who were at the press conference and called on, picked by the White House, talked about health care. They asked about health care. Of course, it's an important matter, but certainly not the news of the day.
But when the German reporter at the end of this news conference asked that question, the president looked shocked in one sense and simply that he was not going to fully answer the question. But he did, indeed, double down on this, and he did not take that opportunity if he wanted to, to sort of correct the record on this. I guess not surprisingly.
But his initial reaction seemed to me to be one that he did not hope to be asked about this today, Anderson.
COOPER: And this whole apology/non-apology made or not made by Sean Spicer to the British government, did he apologize to them privately? When asked if he regretted making the allegations, his response was, quote, "I don't think we regret anything."
ZELENY: Anderson, this was yet one more interesting series of events here. This morning, we were told by a senior administration official that indeed the administration, through Sean Spicer and the new security adviser, McMaster, H.R. McMaster, expressed regret and some type of an apology to the British government. And it was confirmed with a spokesperson for the British prime minister who said the White House agreed to never talk about this again.
Well, then come a few hours later in the East Room of the White House, the president was just doing that, talking about this again and saying that you should be asking these questions to FOX News, and then after that, Sean Spicer said, look, we didn't apologize.
So, the apology hung out there for hours today. It wasn't until the president sort of stuck by this that Sean Spicer said, look, we are not apologizing for this.
So, it is ending tonight with the British government saying, look, we have no more comment on this. But it certainly didn't help matters, and in fact the end of the day here seems to me to be even more ruptured than at the beginning of the day. And the British government understandably was furious about this.
COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Back now to our panel.
It's not like the British -- you know, Britain is a long time ally of the United States or anything and has, you know, fought wars with us or --
HABERMAN: Is that true?
COOPER: No. They are actually a long time ally in case you're wondering. I haven't gone insane.
But it is -- I mean, in terms of an unforced error, this seems to be kind of top of the list given, to your point, all the important things this administration is doing and wants to do and wants to achieve. For them now to be embroiled, upsetting, you know -- you got Angela Merkel, who didn't look very pleased today, and President Trump clearly didn't look -- you know, looked like contentious meetings.
[20:25:06] Now, Britain's upset.
HABERMAN: Yes, again, to the point I was making before, just these are crises of their own making and there is work that the administration is doing. A lot of it is controversial. A lot of people agree or disagree with it.
But there's certainly when the president talks about what he's done in his first, however many days in office, you know, it's usually with sort of characteristic hyperbole, but he is not wrong, that he has done a series of successive policy moves that are significant and interesting and worth discussing. And he had a very good jobs report last week, his first.
HABERMAN: And granted these are not Trump policies in place yet, but it's still something that other administrations would seek to point to. And instead, we are doubling down -- we, meaning they, are doubling down on something because Trump's whole mantra is never admit a mistake. And so, this can't be a mistake by definition because they said it.
You know, to Jeff's point, this apology -- alleged apology hung out there for a very, very long time. I finally started hearing from senior West Wing officials late morning that, you know, there was no apology whatsoever. That's not true. I'm still not exactly clear on precisely what went down here.
But, look, at a certain point, there are real-world ramifications to these moments at the podium. This is not theater. There are -- people are taking these things, literally, and I just don't see how the White House is helping itself right now.
COOPER: Jeffrey, I'm -- I think I know what your argument is going to be, but I'm going to ask you anyway. Let me just tell you what I think you argument is. You can tell me -- it's that, you know, Donald Trump was elected to stir things up and to the people who voted for him and to his base, the idea that he's poking Britain in the eye or got Angela Merkel upset or whatever is maybe awfully good.
LORD: I don't want to give you a coronary, but actually, if it were me, I would just apologize and be done with it.
COOPER: Wow, OK.
COOPER: But you know this is a president who does not apologize.
LORD: Yes. Yes, I do.
And, in fairness to him, let's recall that the previous prime minister was saying all kinds of terrible -- who is a conservative, was saying all sorts of terrible things about him on the floor of parliament and lost his job the day Donald Trump arrived in Scotland to check out a new golf course.
And since that time, the British parliament has been debating seriously whether or not to keep the president of the United States out of their country, which -- I mean in terms of whether we get to do what Britain tells us to do, I think, was -- if I may say so, settled in 1776.
But, yes, in terms of current terms, yes, I'd just do it and be done with it and move on.
Kirsten, what of that? I mean --
POWERS: Look, I think -- I don't think- I'm not even sure that Donald Trump considers this a mistake, right? I don't think that they -- I really think when you get right down to it, he cares about one thing and one thing only, and that's himself. And he is consumed with what he thinks is being done to him, and he's not concerned about the repercussions of when he says these kinds of things and the sort of impact that they have on other people.
And you can see it in the way he's responded, that he just continues to act like this is the most important thing in the world, and it doesn't matter what everybody else is saying. All that matters is that he thinks this happened to him. He obviously believes this happened to him. Facts be damned. It doesn't matter.
And it doesn't matter that it puts American security in jeopardy by fracturing a relationship with, you know, multiple countries now bringing Germany into it.
COOPER: So, interesting, Alice, because -- I mean, one of the things I thought was so powerful that he said during the campaign was -- and I'm paraphrasing it. But, you know, every waking minute, what I'm going to be focused on is what is good for the American people, what's going to bring them jobs, the economy, keep them safe. All this stuff --
COOPER: -- none of this has anything to do with that.
STEWART: That is still his priority. You know, all this aside, they have kept the promises that they made to the American people in terms of right out of the gate, taking steps to secure the border and working to build the wall, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and taking steps that follow through on the promises that he made to the American people.
And this regard to saying things that might not be 100 percent factually accurate may be harmful to other people, he did that throughout the campaign. He did that to my boss, Ted Cruz, but people voted for him anyway because they like his policies.
And most importantly, one of my biggest issues is the Supreme Court nominee. And we have Gorsuch's confirmation coming up on Monday. That is a big deal for people. They knew this Donald Trump throughout the campaign and they still voted for him.
COOPER: Maggie, and we got to go.
HABERMAN: Yes, except that he's very used to being able -- A, I think you are very correct he's very frustrated this is being said. He's adamant it's not true and he can't change the narrative. He's so used to being able to use his Twitter feed to change something and make it go away, and he can't do that here, and I think it's driving --
COOPER: I want to thank everybody.
Just ahead, President Trump's former rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, responds to the fallout over the White House British suggesting spies were behind the unproven wiretapping of Trump Tower. He also has some advice for President Trump. More ahead.
[20:33:51] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Republican leaders have scheduled a House vote on their bill to replace Obamacare for next Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan is counting on President Trump to help lock in the 216 votes needed to pass the bill. There is major arm-twisting underway.
Meanwhile, four Republican governors, including Ohio's John Kasich have sent a letter to Republican congressional leaders urging them to drop the replacement bill and consider an alternative they've drafted. The big news of the day though is new twist in the wiretap story and President Trump's press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Earlier, I spoke about it all with Governor Kasich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Governor, I want to talk you about the letter that you sent Congress about Medicaid and also about the President's health care plan in a second. I do need to ask you just a couple of headlines out of today.
The British are upset over something that the White House repeated that, you know, Judge Napolitano said on Fox. You host a show on Fox News. You filled in as a regular for Bill O'Reilly. If a pundit on a show you were hosting put out an unproven claim like that, would you that have been something you would have repeated with any sort of certainty?
GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R) OHIO: Well, I don't know. I don't know the whole story with what happened there, Anderson. All I know is when I was on Fox just like when you're on CNN.
[20:35:00] We'd like to kind of get it right and not just say things to get ratings, you know, so I know the judge, I don't know what he said, and I'm not quite sure what the President said, but -- COOPER: Fox is saying there's no evidence of what they say -- of what Napolitano said.
KASICH: I don't even know what Napolitano said. But here's what I do know that as the governor of this state, my words matter and as the president of the United States, the President's words matter. And, you know, this is to some degree a learning experience for the President.
And, you know, one of the things I told him when I was in the Oval Office, you know, one time my wife pulled me aside because I was saying something and she didn't like it and she said, "Hey, John, you know, you're the father of Ohio. Why don't you act like it?" And so I repeated -- I told him that story and he kind of chuckled.
So, look, I'm doing what I can do and I'm not interested in being in a war of words with the President. I got -- you know, I'm going to praise him when he's right and when I don't think he's right, I'm going to criticize if I don't think I'm out of line.
COOPER: So let's talk health care. As far as the health care plan that the President and the GOP leadership are pushing, you and three other Republican governors have raised serious concerns about the impact on Medicaid, particularly in your state, saying -- you've said the House bill, "provides almost no new flexibility for states, it doesn't ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states."
You were able to get by expanding Medicaid 700,000 people who wouldn't have been covered got coverage under Obamacare. What happens to them under this plan now?
KASICH: Anderson, look, I mean, this whole thing needs to be reformed, there's no question. The costs are still growing and the exchange, which is the other part of Obamacare, the insurance industry, you know, we see companies collapsing on that exchange.
Couple things. First of all, you need to have a plan that allows the people who now are getting coverage to be able to keep their coverage. I wouldn't mind if the states kind of cut back the match. It's a 90/10 match if over time they kind of moved that thing down. We had a match a little bit higher. But I also want to --
COOPER: Right, the federal government is giving incentives -- is basically paying money for the states to expand coverage for --
KASICH: 90/10. The match is 90/10. It's called enhance match. We don't want to get into the details other than to say it's OK if they begin to phase that out over time but if you remove people -- because this is the thing that turns, most of the people who are on Medicaid expansion today are not on it in a year so you don't want to just kick them off because then where do they go? They're supposed to go to the exchange, OK?
Now, here's the problem with the exchange, Anderson. They -- the most you can get is a $4,000 tax credit to buy health insurance. And let me ask you, what would you buy for $4,000 for a health insurance policy? Most people are spending, you know, like $2,000 a month and we're going to give you $4,000? What are you going to get? You're not going to get any primary care, you're going to get -- you're going to have a catastrophic policy with a deductible that you can never pay.
So what I'm fearful of, if Republicans jam this through without working with Democrats and reaching some sort of real good compromise, we will be right back where we were in five or six years before we started with Obamacare.
COOPER: Do you have any reason to think that the White House or congressional leadership, at this point, are going to make the changes that you want? Because as you said, you met with the President about this, you've pitched your ideas, you've been very public about this.
KASICH: Well, he's also called me, OK. And we talked about it. And, look, he's going to fight right now, I believe, I haven't talked to them, to get this House bill through. But I think at the end of the day, I believe that he would be a negotiator. And I don't think this bill passes the Senate. I sure hope it doesn't pass the Senate.
I think that the situation is the roadmap is, maybe it will pass the House, maybe it won't. But when it gets to the Senate we have to involve both parties in the discussion because, Anderson, look, if you don't have both parties working on a major issue, it's not sustainable. Whether it was Social Security, Medicare, the Budget Act of 1997 where we balanced the budget, welfare reform. If you don't have both parties buying in, it just becomes a political issue in the next campaign and when the other party wins they just go ahead and repeal it. That is no way to run America.
COOPER: Governor Kasich, it's always good to talk to you. Thank you.
KASICH: Thanks, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Watch the full interview with the Governor online on our website, ac360.com.
Just ahead, President Trump may not like to say sorry but we know that he's capable of it after the "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced during the campaign he apologized. So why is he not backing down from his wiretap claim? More ahead.
[20:43:31] COOPER: Well tonight's breaking news, a government official telling CNN that the long way to report the Department of Justice is giving congressional investigator shows no evidence of wiretaps at Trump Tower ordered by President Obama as President Trump has claimed.
As we've been talking about, President Trump has refused to back down on his claim despite producing not a single shred of proof. A long list of lawmakers and other officials have repeatedly said they've seen no evidence to support the claim and yet President Trump hasn't budged.
During the campaign, candidate Trump was asked how he felt about admitting mistakes and apologizing. Here's what he told me at a town hall in Milwaukee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You said on the radio right here in Wisconsin the other day that you do apologize and you believe in apologizing. When was the last time you actually apologized for something?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, wow. No, I do believe -- I don't know. I'll think. Can I think? But, look, I do believe in apologizing if you're wrong. But if you're not wrong, I don't believe in apologizing.
COOPER: But you don't know any specific example that you apologized ever?
TRUMP: Yes, I mean -- apologized. I apologized to my mother years ago for using foul language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, seven months after that town hall the "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced and we all heard then candidate Trump using some pretty foul language. Hours later he apologized in this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret. And the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:45:07] COOPER: So for the record we know President Trump is capable of saying he's sorry.
Joining me now is Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voters". Also, CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, author of "The Truth About Trump".
Professor Dershowitz, Donald Trump's refusal ever to apologize or admit he was wrong, where do you think that comes from? People have pointed to Roy Cohn, who is his attorney, but also has a fascinating background with McCarthy.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Yes. And I think he was one of Donald Trump's mentors. I got to know Roy Cohn when we worked together on the Claus von Bulow case. I certainly didn't agree with his politics. But he was a man who never apologized.
And the important thing to know about Roy Cohn, he's not withstanding his McCarthyism. He was not an ideological person. What he cared about was personal loyalty, personal success, winning, being on the right side, and never backing down or apologizing. Of course he ended his life being disbarred.
COOPER: And his general kind of strategy was be on the attack. Attack, attack, attack.
DERSHOWITZ: Always. And it served him very well for most of his career. In the end, when he was dying, if he had been willing to profusely apologize he might not have been disbarred. But I think he wanted to go down without having to change his philosophy and I think that helps understand a little bit President Trump. He got to where he is with this philosophy. Success in business, his success in winning the nomination, his success in winning the election. I don't think we're going to see him change much as president.
COOPER: Michael, do you agree with that? I mean do -- you wrote about him, you spent time with him as a candidate, as a citizen. I mean this is a strategy that Professor Dershowitz has point that he's been using his whole life and successfully.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I agree that we shouldn't expect to hear anything different from President Trump. And Roy Cohn was one person who taught him this style, but his father was very much the same. If you go back and read the record of his father being questioned by a Senate banking committee on his use of federal funds for housing, he runs that committee in circles and refuses to admit to anything. So I think this is a style that is a way of addressing controversy without ever backing down. And I actually think he thinks it would be a sign of weakness to say I'm sorry to almost anyone. That is when --
DERSHOWITZ: And I think --
COOPER: Go ahead.
DERSHOWITZ: In addition to his style, it's also a brand I think for him, and what I think he's done as president it was something a little different. Because I think he now has a vice president in charge of saying he's sorry, doesn't necessarily mean Vice President Pence but there are going to be people in the White House who will issue apologies.
COOPER: You know, Michael, I mean, I wonder if the way he -- that President Trump's views the presidency is different than past recent presidents have view the presidency. Just -- whether Donald Trump sees it in the same way that other presidents have seen it.
D'ANTONIO: Mr. Trump or President Trump has always seen everything through a very personal lens. And in this case, if you saw how he treated Barack Obama when he was the president, saying everything he could to delegitimize him, I'm not sure that he held the office in the esteem or with the respect that his predecessors have held it. And that means that as a person he's going to resist ever changing his mind or being seen to change his mind. And I'm not sure that he attaches the same dignity to the presidency as other presidents have.
DERSHOWITZ: You know, a friend of his told me that Donald Trump may not regard the presidency as a promotion from where he was previously. He may regard it as simple a kind of parallel job. And he's going to keep the same style and the same tactics that got him here. But he's going to find that he's going to need to have people do the diplomacy for him.
Look, Putin doesn't apologize. And he sees Putin in many ways as a role model. There are other tough leaders throughout history who haven't apologized, some pretty good leaders who haven't apologized. So this is not a style that's only negative. It could get the country into trouble, obviously. But from his point of view, I think, he sees it as a positive style and a positive brand.
COOPER: And it certainly something which the people who voted for him and came out to vote for him and stand in line to see him even now clearly like about him, I think. Professor Dershowitz, Michael D'Antonio, thank you so much.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
D'ANTONIO: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, up next tonight, President Trump unveils his first federal budget blueprint. We'll go over the big numbers and look at what couldn't be cut, including a grant that funds an after-school program for about 2 million kids nationwide.
[20:50:05] The White House says, there's no evidence the program helps kids succeed. As you might expect, the folks that run it disagree. That's next.
COOPER: President Trump's first federal budget proposal calls for $1.1 trillion in spending. That includes $54 billion in extra money for defense and homeland security and the same amount in cuts that impact almost every other department, pushing some agencies' budgets to their lowest level in decades.
Also some federally-supported programs could be eliminated, including an after-school program for about 2 million kids nationwide. Gary Tuchman tonight has the story for us from Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the students at the S.L. Lewis Elementary School in College Park, Georgia, when the school day is done but the learning is not over. More than 130 of the students, most of them who live in low income households, are part of an after-school program called Wings for Kids.
It's called Wings because the goal of the program is to encourage kids to soar. They learn, they socialize and they have snacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In three, two, one.
TUCHMAN: They even have their own creed. But under President Trump's new proposed federal budget, Wings primary source of funding would be eliminated.
There are 11 Wings for Kids programs in three states, with about 1,600 children participating.
Bridget Laird is the CEO.
How does that make you feel?
BRIDGET LAIRD, CEO, WINGS FOR KIDS: It makes me feel devastated. I've been with this organization for 19 years, and thinking about the kids losing this program really honestly breaks my heart.
[20:55:07] TUCHMAN: Wings for Kids gets $1.6 million a year from the federal program called 21st Century Learning Centers. That program receives about $1.2 billion a year from the federal government that it then gives out to after-school organizations across the country. All of that money would disappear under the President's budget plan.
What will that do to you?
LAIRD: That will eliminate our programs. We will not be able to have the programs that we have operating in the fashion that they do and our kids will no longer be able to come to the program. They will go either home to unsupervised houses or their parents will be required to quit their jobs and stay home with them.
TUCHMAN: Jessica Williams has two daughters in the programs.
What happens if it goes away?
JESSICA WILLIAMS, MOTHER: I really don't know how I could -- I really don't know. I will be lost.
TUCHMAN: President Trump's budget director declared there was no demonstrable evidence that after-school programs help kids do better in school. But the people in charge here demonstrably disagree.
The CEO says the organization participated in a four-year long controlled study and says it clearly showed.
LAIRD: Increases in positive behavior, decrease is negative behavior. As for the elementary schoolers --
And what do you like best about Wings for Kids?
TAYLOR LAMBERT, FIFTH GRADER: Building friendships with some of my friends.
TUCHMAN: Is it fun to be here too? AMADO RANGEL, THIRD GRADER: Of course. It is a good place to learn and it's fun to know everything and there's a lot of fun that you can do and activities.
TUCHMAN: You like hanging out with your friends?
RANGER: Very much.
TUCHMAN: And they seem blissfully unaware that it could soon be going away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Gary joins us now. I mean it is likely that after Congress gets involved, there will be many changes to the proposed budget and many of the cuts may be reduced or eliminated as soon as the CEO of this group, Wings for Kids, have any optimism that maybe her funding won't get cut.
TUCHMAN: Well, I will tell you, Anderson, the CEO does not like what the budget director said about after-school programs but she says she has faith that ultimately Congress and the White House will think it makes sense to continue funding after-school programs not only for the people who are in them but also because they'll realize like she does that it's good for society. Anderson?
COOPER: Gary Tuchman. Gary, thanks very much.
There's a lot more ahead in the next hour of "360". Stick around, including another blow to the President's claim that President Obama had him wiretapped. It comes from the President's own Justice Department and we've got the potentially damaging bottom line. Stay tuned.