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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Man With Weapon At Orlando International Airport; Flynn Providing; Documents to Senate Intel Cmte; House Intel Cmte Wants To Talk To Boris Epshteyn; Trump Attorney Will 'Gladly' Testify If Subpoenaed By Congress; Police: Suspect Contained At Orlando International Airport; Conflicting Stories; Strained Relations?; Mysterious Meeting, Clashing Accounts; WH: Trump Relationship with Merkel "Fairly Unbelievable"; Spicer: Merkel, Trump Relationship "Fairly Unbelievable"; Spicer: Trump Carried Out a "Semi-Revolution"; Trump's Global Vision; Trump Attorney Michael Cohen: "I Have Nothing to Hide"; Staff Shake-Up in the Makeup. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 30, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing following breaking news out of Orlando, Florida. Right now, you're looking at live pictures from the main airport there. Police responding for reports, an armed man at the rental car area. So far no reports of anyone hurt or shots fired. The police activity has been heavy at times of course to bring you more as we get it, we're just getting this information.
And now there is breaking news as well tonight, in the White House Russia probe is central figure is about to turn over document, Sean Spicer gives his first news conference back home and makes news on many fronts and we've got new reporting on intelligence intercepts that if the people on them are telling the truth, could shed new light on what Moscow believed they had on the man that would become president. So there's a lot to cover in the hour ahead.
First, CNN's Sara Murray at the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Been all of our --
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Trump administration struggles to find its footing amid the cloud of controversy, a senior official is stepping aside. Communications Director Mike Dubke submitted his resignation of May 18. There was unclear when he'll serve his last day in White House. His upcoming departure comes as speculation about a broader staff shakeup reaches a fever pitch.
DAVID BOSSIE, CITIZENS UNITED PRESIDENT: Thanks for having me back.
MURRAY (voice-over): Former Trump campaign hence like David Bossie are playing coy about whether they may assume be headed to the west wing. BOSSIE: I'm not going to say that there's -- that something is sitting on table for me to pick. It's an ongoing conversation.
MURRAY (voice-over): As Jared Kushner, the president son-in-law faces scrutiny in the FBI's Russia probe, sources tell CNN he isn't going anywhere. And that for now, Sean Spicer's job is also safe.
The press secretary reemerged in front of the camera for the daily briefing today. His first since mid May. And insisted the president's priorities are on track.
SEAN SPICER, U.S. PRESS SECRETARY: That the president's legislative agenda is in full swing.
MURRAY (voice-over): But in a chaotic west wing, crisis management is putting the brakes on the agenda. Trump venting on Twitter Tuesday said, "The U.S. senate should switch to 51 votes immediately and get healthcare and tax cuts approved fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt." But both of those issues are slated to move through a process that only requires 51 votes. The biggest problem has been getting Republicans on the same page.
Meanwhile, the president isn't making key decisions that lie within his control. He hasn't named a new FBI director, though he is interviewing two candidates today. He hasn't made a decision about whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. And he hasn't announced whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris climate accord.
Fresh on the heels of a trip to NATO and the G7 where Trump privately criticized German officials, Trump took his scold in public Tuesday, tweeting, "We have a massive trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay far less than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. this will change."
COOPER: And Sara Murray joins us now from the White House. So the breaking news tonight about Michael Flynn, what else do we know?
MURRAY: Well we know that Michael Flynn, who is the ousted National Security director, has been sort of a central figure in this probe into the Russia investigation. Now we're being told from a source close to Michael Flynn that he is going to hand over a batch of documents, some of these were related to his businesses, some of this will be personal documents, to the Senate Intelligence Committee all to sort of help them move along in the Russia investigation of the first batch of these documents will be due June 6th.
And of course, this is in response to subpoenas from the committee. And so it seems pretty clear Anderson from those -- some of the developments happening here today that this investigation is expanding, it is beating up and Flynn is just one of the figures who is close to President Trump who is being tapped in this Russia investigation.
COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks very much. More now on the story that CNN Jim Sciutto broke along with Dana Bash and Pamela Brown, on what Russians may have believed they had on the president and people close to him. It's a potentially explosive story. It also comes with reasons to be very cautious about precisely what we're reporting and what we are not reporting. With that in mind, Jim Sciutto joins us. So what have you learned Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, let's be clear. So two former intelligence officials and a congressional source tell CNN that Russian government officials discussed having potentially, "derogatory information" about then presidential candidate Donald Trump as well as some of his top aides. This in conversations intercepted by U.S. intelligence during the 2016 election.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussions centered around whether the Russians had leverage within Trump's inner circle. The source says the intercept of communications suggested to U.S. intelligence that Russians believed, "They had the ability to influence the administration through this derogatory information."
Now, the sources do caution that the Russian claims to each other could have been exaggerated. They could have been made up but they are listening to them and this is part of the bigger picture they're investigating now, Anderson.
[21:05:01] COOPER: Do we know which Trump aides the Russians discussed?
SCIUTTO: Well beyond President Trump himself, of course that's key, none of the sources would say which specific Trump aides were discussed. One of the official said the intelligence report masked the American names as these reports would do when you have U.S. individuals caught up in collection like this. But it was clear these officials told us that the conversations revolved around the Trump campaign team. Another source would not give more specifics, rather citing the classified nature of the information involved.
COOPER: And what's the White House saying about this?
SCIUTTO: So the White House gave us a comment tonight, they reacted very strongly. Here it is quoting, this is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the president. The reality is a review of the president's income from the last 10 years showed that he had virtually no financial ties at all. There appears to be no limit to which the president's political opponents will go to perpetuate this false narrative.
The statement went on including illegally leaking classified material. And it ended all this does is playing to the hands of our adversaries and put the country at risk. We also reach out the office of Director of National Intelligence and the FBI, they did not comment -- just one final note Anderson, I should note that by the time Trump took office, questions about some of his aides' financial dealings with Russian entities were already under investigation. COOPER: All right Jim Sciutto, appreciated.
That Sara Murray touched on Michael Flynn, agreeing to start turning over some documents to the Senate Intelligence Community. Lawmakers also want information from two other campaign associates, Boris Epshteyn and Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen today declined that request whoever there's a late new development. Gloria Borger just got off the phone with him, she joins us now. What did he say Gloria?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF ANALYST: Well Michael Cohen said, first of all he has not been subpoenaed to testify as had been reported by another news organization. So he made that very clear. And he said, if I am subpoenaed to testify, I will comply and gladly, he said, as I have nothing to hide. There is no shred of evidence that implicates me.
So he's very -- he's, you know, very strong here. And he says the reason he didn't want to comply with the committee's request earlier as he told me it was poorly phrased, overly broad and not really capable of being answered. So, you know, you've had Flynn, for example, who said the request was too broad. And Boris Epshteyn who's been saying the same things. So what they're clearly trying to do is get these requests narrowed down.
COOPER: Right, you talked about Boris Epshteyn, I mean worked in both the campaign in the White House. He's also been contacted by congressional investigators for information.
BORGER: Right. And it's a voluntary request, as was Michael Cohen's. And his attorney said that it was broad also and that it was a broad preliminary request. And they said not that they wouldn't comply but they said that they reached out to the committee and asked some follow-up questions and are awaiting to hear their response.
So obviously, these things have gone out, Anderson. Some say, you know, Michael Cohen earlier to Jim Acosta that it was a fishing expedition. I think that's the way it's being received. But if these requests can be narrowed, then perhaps you can avoid a subpoena.
COOPER: All right to Michael Cohen just to reiterate after talking to you tonight your -- the latest is that he says he would cooperate as long as it's more specific?
BORGER: Well, and he -- and also, you know, the important thing is here as he says he hasn't been subpoenaed. But if he is subpoenaed, that he would comply because he has nothing to hide.
COOPER: All right, Gloria, thanks very much.
I want to update you quickly on the information we're getting out of Orlando. Police are saying there's no active shooter, no shots fired. Suspect is contained. So that's the latest there.
Coming up next, conflicting stories about why Jared Kushner was meeting during the transition with a Russian banker -- or met with a Russian banker with a shadowy past. That we'll try to focus on the facts, of course what we know, what we don't know.
And later, what's really going on between the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, from Berlin, it sounds like a key alliance is under pressure. From Washington, they say it's all good. Take a closer look.
[21:12:36] COOPER: Shortly after Jared Kushner met with Russian's Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about setting up some kind of secret direct line for some reason to Moscow, he met with another shadowy Russian figure, his name is Sergey Gorkov and as you know, he's a banker, a Putin confidant, a graduate of a Russian spy school.
In March he said in a statement and that the meeting was about business, the bank's business and that of Jared Kushner another American entrepreneur. Yesterday though and for a second time the White House said Kushner was acting in his capacity as a transition official. And there's a third possibility related to that meeting earlier in December on the so-called back channel.
Randi Kaye tonight has more.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man Jared Kushner met with in December 2016, just a month after Kushner's father-in-law Donald Trump was elected president. He's name is Sergey Gorkov, he's a Russian banker. The chairman of VEB Bank. He also has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appointed him to head the bank.
What exactly was discussed between Kushner and the banker last year remains a mystery. Though keep in mind, as an ally of Putins, Gorkov reportedly may have been using the meeting to help establish a direct line to the Russian president outside the usual diplomatic channels.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don't think its standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.
KAYE (voice-over): Jared Kushner has offered to answer the Senate Intelligence Committee's questions about not only this meeting but another meeting he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that same month. It was Kislyak who had suggested Kushner meet with the Russian banker.
(on-camera): The fact that Kushner didn't mention either of this meetings on his White House security clearance forms, may also be a topic of inquiry. Though he did rectify that quickly. There's also the concern that the Russian bank has been under U.S. sanctions for the last three years.
Also, when Kushner met with the banker, he was still CEO of Kushner Companies and critics questioned whether he was looking for financing for a pricey Manhattan real estate project. (voice-over): The White House has said there was no discussion at the meeting about Kushner's company or about sanctions. The meeting itself didn't violate U.S. sanctions, but investigators will want to know what was said.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: My dashboard warning light was clearly on and I think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians.
[21:15:10] KAYE: Seems that Jared Kushner, who rarely speaks beyond a whisper in the president's ear, may soon be called on to do a whole lot of talking.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: More now on with this all adds up to so far and how to make sense the flood of information only seems to grow. For that, we're always glad to turn to former NSA and CI Director Retired General Michael Hayden.
General Hayden, this meeting between Jared Kushner and Gorkov, why would someone like Kushner need a direct line to Putin if in fact that's what he was looking for or the president was looking for? And why would he be talking to a banker with the kind of background that Gorkov has?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I mean the published story, Anderson, is that Sergey Kislyak recommended that he talk to Gorkov, which might have been Kislyak's way of doing what the Trump team wanted, which was to establish this back channel to President Putin.
Now, to answer your question, why would they want to do that while we were in a transition, why would they want to do that while the -- then President Obama was actually coming up on a very serious decision with regard to sanctions against this same Vladimir Putin and the Russian federation. I just can't explain that and that's why this is a controversial thing. I mean back channel is back channel. Fine. I've actually better back channel for President Bush. But doing it this way with this actor while you weren't in government, that's why all the questions.
COOPER: I mean, Sean Spicer was asked about this today and he said in general terms, back channels are inappropriate part of diplomacy. I mean to be clear though, you talked about you had been a back channel. Is that how this was being used?
HAYDEN: Well, I would not define this as a back channel. A back channel is something that governments do for below the radar conversation. So that you can get some things accomplished that might be more difficult to accomplish should the channel be exposed, be made public. Anderson, I flew into Islamabad with Mike McConnell the director of National Intelligence after Benazir Bhutto was killed to confer with the President Musharraf. We went in there secretly. We met secretly. We left secretly. President Bush wanted us to share a certain message with President Musharraf.
I mean this is what government's do. That's fine. And you've got good people in the administration, Secretary Kelly, Secretary Mattis, H.R. McMaster, defending the principle of back channels. I agree. But I don't think that's exactly what this was.
COOPER: Does this just seem amateur to you?
HAYDEN: One of the background realities in which this took place was administration that was refusing assistance from the professionals inside the United States government, because they were so suspicious of them. And frankly, had a bit of contempt with the administration they were replacing. They refused State Department help to actually set up the calls with foreign leaders, to suggest what these foreign leaders might want to bring up with the president-elect, not controlling the president-elect, trying to help him and the administration in waiting pushed the assistance away.
COOPER: CNN is reporting now that Russians believe "they had the ability to influence the administration through derogatory information", that the may have been financial in nature. There's certainly the possibility that the Russians were exaggerating this, that they were, whatever the -- however the sources discovered this, that it was Russians making themselves more important than they really were or just lying to each other.
If it's true, how critical would it be to the investigation finding out what exactly that information is?
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, if it's true, the investigation would really need to know that, because, well it depends exactly on the investigation too, Anderson. You got the FBI investigation, which is about criminality. But you've also got what's going on the Hill from the two intelligence communities -- two intelligence committees and that effort is designed to get the story.
What's going on? What did the Russians do? What they do it? What expectations did they have? I think in both cases, you would want to know. But Anderson, let me make a comment on that report which actually began, you know, according to an intercepted communication between two Russians as a former director of NSA that's already bad, having that out there in the public domain. That is actually harmful.
And there -- therefore, I do agree with the administration that an awful lot of the information out there is hurtful of American intelligence.
One more point, Anderson, with regard to SIGINT, signals intelligence, which is -- what this is alleged to be. Those of us in the business know that you live by SIGINT, die by SIGINT. It gives you great intelligence. But often or sometimes at least you've got people trying to mislead and sometimes you just intercept a conversation between two people who really don't know what they're talking about.
[21:20:05] So you need to be careful with intercepted communications before draw firm absolute conclusion.
COOPER. General Michael Hayden, always good to talk to you. Thank you.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, the White House says President Trump would describe his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as "fairly unbelievable". There certainly have been some statements and tweets that some of the president's critics find kind of unbelievable. That's next.
COOPER: President Trump is back in the United States but continues to criticize allies who's feather his raffle during his first foreign trip. At a rally in Munich, Germany over the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel did not mention President Trump directly but did say that Germany can't count on the United States and has to take it's faith into it's own hands.
This morning the president took early morning Twitter to write, "We have a massive trade deficit with Germany plus they pay far less than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. This will change." Today, Sean Spicer was asked about the state of U.S.-German relationship. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I think the relationship that the president has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable. They get along very well. He has a lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G7.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:25:11] COOPER: Fairly unbelievable. Also, in that briefing today Spicer said the President's trip was incredible, historic and unprecedented and quoted people who praised him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "For the first time in my life I see real hope for change." In a correspondent one of the leading Israel publications wrote, "In the short space of three days, Trump carried out a semi-revolution."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Was the trip a three-days semi-revolution, an ally alienating show of bad manners or a little of both? Michelle Kosinski has more.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SERIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Overseas for the first time as president Donald Trump seemed to want to stand not just out but apart shoving to the front the fierce handshakes, the stunning reprimand of NATO allies and what was supposed to be a big moment of support.
TRUMP: Twenty three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): In Italy, he was the only G7 leader not to endorse the Paris Climate Agreement. While they walked in a group to take a photo, Trump chose instead to ride alone in a golf cart. As Trump continues to criticize Germany's trade practices, its foreign minister didn't hold back saying flat out that Trump's policies put Europe at risk, calling it short sighted, a new American isolationism.
NICHOLAS BUMS, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO NATO: This is a crisis of sorts in the trans-atlantic relationship and these are our best friends in the world. There's a major difference of opinion on trade. There's a major difference of opinion on how to handle Russia. We've never had an American president who was so weak, frankly, and dismissive of the big institutions that have binded us to Europe over the last 70 years. NATO when the EU.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): With the Russians, it was the new French President Emmanuel Macron who called out Putin to his face for spreading fake news, trying to influence his election.
(on-camera): In Asia, with the U.S. scrapping the huge trading block that would have been the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as slashing the State Department budget and foreign aid, China has been working on big deals of its own and is trying to expand its soft power and influence around the world.
(voice-over): Russia is also looking for inroads. And that the U.S. does step away from its push against climate change, that again leaves room for others to lead.
BUMS: I think this could do more to diminish American credibility and influence and leadership in the world than any other issue. Because outside the United States, this is a number one first order issue.
KONSINSKI (voice-over): As of stands, there is concern among allies over what the U.S. will stand for. Will it be as strong of voice for human rights and democracy itself? Europe now stating openly the dynamic of leadership and partnership is changing.
Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.
COOPER: Joining me, are Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order."
Fareed, what does President Trump achieve by saying the things he said about Angela Merkel in just of the last couple days?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: A lot of the behavior toward NATO strikes me as not strategic. Trump has most these grievances almost since the 1980s. If you look at Trump's writings, the few things he talked about when he talks about politics. There were two things, one, he thought that the -- he wanted to be protectionist. The Japanese were ripping us off, you know, later the Chinese. But the second was that our NATO allies have been ripping us off, not paying their fair share.
So this feels as though it's a long held grievance that he just can't stop himself from constantly expressing even though it serves no real purpose. It doesn't help the United States. It doesn't help our strategy. It makes the west look divided. It invites people like Putin to try to further divide it. I don't think he is thinking it through. I think this is emotional reflex more than foreign policy.
COOPER: Ambassador Haass you actually tweeted about this morning saying that the president's anti-German rhetoric is "short sighted politically and wrong economically".
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, short sighted politically, Anderson, because it drives a wedge between the United States and Europe where it encourages Germany and the European's to go off on their own. And that may not be all that much of a problem so long as you have people like Angela Merkel running Germany. But the day will come when we will have somebody very different.
And neither now or then, it also provides all sorts of opportunities for Russian mischief making. So I just don't understand what's behind it. Economically, the president seems all but obsessed over trade imbalances. And somehow assumes a trade deficit is a sign of American weakness, or that others are somehow taking advantage of us. And it's just -- it's a sort of argument that just isn't anyway justified by even rude mantra (ph) economics.
[21:30:07] COOPER: You know, Fareed, essentially the White House, Sean Spicer said that the president's relationship with Angela Merkel he described as I think was "fairly unbelievable". I'm not sure if he meant it in the sense that I think a lot of people take it. It is kind of unbelievable. I mean had he been trying to further Russia's cause, there's not much more he could have done on this trip.
ZAKARIA: Absolutely. Look in general, you almost say to yourself, what is the script that Vladimir Putin would want to write? It would be the president of the United States would go to NATO, refuse to affirm Article V, the one for all, all for one declaration of security, have bad, you know, push the Montenegrin prime minister out of his way, have bad relations with the Germans who are really now at the center of Europe.
This is -- you couldn't have scripted something to look worse for NATO, worse for the west. What's most interesting about it is you're beginning to see other countries, particularly Germany and France, start to say, we are going to affirm the liberal international order. We're going to strengthen the west. It's almost as though the position of, you know, leader of the western world has fallen vacant and President Macron of France is stepping in to fill that role.
COOPER: I mean can't you make -- or Ambassador Haass, can't you make the argument that that's what -- then candidate Donald Trump ran on, that America first, he doesn't want to be the world's policeman, he doesn't see the same role for the United States globally that past presidents have.
HAASS: Well, the problem with transferring leadership to places like France and Germany is even if they doubled what they spent on defense. They just don't have the capacity or the domestic politics to play a leadership role around the world. So again, I just don't see the strategic purpose.
And again, also what we spend on defense is not something that somehow is only a negative, is only a cost. It totally rebounds to our own benefit in terms of the security and stability that we tend to develop around the world. So I think Fareed a few minutes ago, Anderson, called it a grievance. In some ways it's even more fundamental than that's it. Its mind set, it's a world view in which trade, in which foreign policy effort is only seen as a negative rather than being seen as a positive.
COOPER: So where does this -- Fareed, where does this go? I mean in terms of relations with France, with Germany?
ZAKARIA: With Donald Trump, let's be honest, you never know what the next week will bring a total reversal of this week. But if this persists, it's a very serious shift. Because what it really represents is that the United States that has built, sustain and nurtured this liberal international order, the western world as we think of it, he has decided to back off, decided to absent itself. And so what you are going to see is countries like Germany and Chancellor Merkel was very clear, we're going to step up. The French President Macron has talked about how he is really confronting Russia and on -- for example the cyberattacks in a way that the United States president refuses to do.
COOPER: All right Fareed Zakaria, Ambassador Haass, thank you so much.
HAASS: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, we have just confirmed President Trump's Personal Attorney Michael Cohen now saying he will testify before congress if he is subpoenaed his path to the Russia probe and his loyalty to Donald Trump in a moment.
[21:37:18] COOPER: As we said, congressional investigators have asked President Trump's Personal Attorney Michael Cohen to turn over documents related to potential contacts with Russia. They've also asked him to testify before Congress. As Gloria Borger just reported, Mr. Cohen now says, he will testify if he is subpoenaed even though he says there's not a shred of evidence against him.
You may remember Mr. Cohen is a fierce defender of Mr. Trump during the campaign. He was frequent Trump television's surrogate known for his aggressive style which was evident again today. Tom Foreman tonight has more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A total fishing expedition, that's how the President's Attorney Michael Cohen described a congressional request for him to testify in the Russian probe. Rejecting it outright. It was just as quickly renewed with force.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: In all likelihood, there will be subpoenas issued which he will be compelled to respond to.
FOREMAN (voice-over): No confirmation from the committee on that. But even in the hot seat, Cohen's response is typically come on his own fierce terms. Listen to him insisting for example Trump never disparaged Mexican immigrants.
MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It was wrong.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And you haven't admitted that.
COHEN: And I will not.
FOREMAN (voice-over): For years, he has served as one of Donald Trump's personal attorneys. He has publicly fought accusations against Trump University and claims of sexual impropriety against Trump. He is also has been a relentless defender of his client's political positions.
COHEN: When Mr. Trump talks about of being a rigged system, there's really two parts to it. The first is the media and the second is the voter fraud.
FOREMAN (voice-over): In 1999, Trump was in favor of abortion rights.
TRUMP: I'm very pro choice.
FOREMAN (voice-over): When he later flip-flopped ahead of the 2012 race, Cohen told the national journal, "People change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives." When asked about polls months before the 2016 vote, which widely showed Hillary Clinton ahead, Cohen's combative side came out fast.
BRIANNA KEILAR, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But you guys are down. And it may --
COHEN: Says who?
KEILAR: Polls. Most of them. All of them.
COHEN: Says who? KEILAR: Polls. I just told you. I answered your question.
COHEN: OK. Which polls?
KEILAR: All of them.
COHEN: OK. And your question is?
FOREMAN: Cohen says the congressional investigation into any possible links between the Trump team and Russians are utterly without evidence. And while he is not rushing to explain anything to congress, he is calling the congressional probes a rush to judgment. Anderson?
COOPER: Lots to discuss now with the panel, Maggie Haberman join us again, Jeffrey Lord, Jen Psaki, Matthew Rosenberg and (inaudible)
Michael Cohen has said he wouldn't comply. He said clearly will comply if there is a subpoena but he says basically that there is no there, there.
[21:40:05] MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's my sense of it. I got a message from him earlier saying he has not been subpoenaed but if he is he will gladly comply, "as I have nothing to hide".
Look, Michael Cohen is very familiar face to most of us who cover the Trump campaign. He's been an aggressive defender of the president for very long time going back to I mean my dealings with him, go back a long time but including 2011, when Trump was first thinking of running for president in recent history.
You know, he has been pretty aggressive against this probe. He has been pretty aggressive that there is no there, there. I don't know expect him to go sort of quietly into the good night. And we will see. It's an interesting contrast in terms of how he is handling this. Because it is very different than to say what Michael Flynn is doing, which is -- that he was subpoenaed and resisted it for quite sometime and I think now has said he will comply with some documents.
It is funny as we were watching that viral moment with Brianna Keilar where, you know, the says who moment which a lot of people know, I'm laughing all over again watching it his funny moment but he wasn't wrong at the end of the day.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly.
HABERMAN: So like I just think it's -- I don't know where this ends up going.
COOPER: The polls did indicate that. But the polls were wrong.
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: The polls were wrong.
HABERMAN: That's right.
LORD: There's a difference between Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen. Michael Flynn was involved seriously in the campaign, was the National Security Adviser, designator, actual -- sort of. Michael Cohen has been nothing throughout other than a television spokesman on occasion but the president's lawyer in his business. I mean that's --
HABERMAN: That's not -- no that's not true. He did some stuff on the campaign.
LORD: Well, what I'm saying is, the extent of his involvement here -- I mean he is a good lawyer. He is not going to go out there and say I didn't do anything if, in fact, he did something. That's I guess -- if he had something to report.
COOPER: Matthew, how do you see this?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think we're in that situation where this is whole constellation of people. And Cohen may be right this may be a better of fishing expedition. But, you know, I thought the committees and I imagine the federal investigators too are at that point where like they need to start clearing things off and seeing, like OK, are these people we need to continue looking at, are these people we don't?
And to know that, we need to subpoena them, we need to interview them. And I imagine, we'll be seeing a lot more of this in the days and weeks to come.
COOPER: Jen, I mean to the argument that it's a fishing expedition, and Michael Cohen is saying, look, that the request was so broad, it was almost impossible to comply with.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRES. OBAMA: Well, it's not surprising coming from somebody who is an experienced lawyer to say that and one who has a reputation as being a bulldog in defense of Trump. I think there -- a lot of the questions surrounding all of these ties have been about the financial connections or that's always been in the background. He is someone who also presented the Ukraine- Russia plan that was, you know, taken from the Ukrainian thugs to Trump. He is somebody who has had a lot of investments in Ukraine and has had ties to Russia through business.
We won't know the answer until he participates, the committee looks at the information and they reviews and make a decision. But they've said they are going to be expansive. They're going to get to the bottom of the truth and clearly, this is part of that.
COOPER: Phil, does it seem like a fishing expedition to you?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: It does. I wouldn't comply if I were him. I have attacked President Trump from day one. I would do exactly the same thing as his lawyer said. Let's look at two issues. Number one, from day one if you look at the congressional committees, they have been partisan with some exceptions. So you're walking into an environment where if you provide information, you are going to be attacked by Democrats for siding with the president who from the Democrats' perspective has sold out America.
Meanwhile, we have a parallel investigation from the FBI that could have criminal implications. Why would you comply with this if you're walking into a shark tank where you're going to be attacked? I would do the same thing he's done.
COOPER: Jen, to that point, why should he comply?
PSAKI: Well, it's not partisan when it's burr and warner. It's the Democrats and Republicans requesting information from a committee. You know, I think he's going to make the decision about whether he's going to comply or not. But if he has nothing to hide and they subpoena him which they've shown they may do and they did with Flynn,m then it raises the question as to whether he just is looking sketchy in general. So, he'll have to make that decision if the committee decides they're going to use that lever.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean just because there's, you know, the committee is run by a Democratic and Republican, doesn't mean it's not partisan?
LORD: Right. You got insiders there. The question I have, Anderson, you know, when the dog chases the car and catches the car, then what? As they go through these witnesses and they get somebody like Michael Flynn who says I didn't do anything and then they find out, yup, he didn't do anything. Then what are they going to do?
I mean they're going to keep working their way successively through people that they will not have in Watergate style sitting there with a smoking gun and said, yes --
COOPER: I think to Michael Cohen.
LORD: Yes. I'm talking about Michael Cohen.
COOPER: Right, right. OK.
LORD: I mean, so when they get him there and they find nothing, then what? That, you know, I mean --
COOPER: Maggie, does it hurt the credibility of the committee if it is a fishing expedition?
HABERMAN: I mean I think it's too soon to say. I think that Matthew's point, you're going to see a lot of this.
[21:45:02] Look, they have said they're going to be pretty broad and scope. And so this would be the first committee that we've ever seen that is going to do sort of a wide net, a wide net you can flip it -- flip a meaning and say it's a fishing expedition. I think it's not a surprise that Michael Cohen is being asked to come in.
But I do think again, I have to go back to this, my ears perked up when Jeffrey said, Flynn, when he meant Cohen because with Flynn there's a lot more to review. And his behavior has obviously been a lot different. And he is I think the one person who investigates or is just based on this early stage believe could provide them with some information.
COOPER: We're going to have much more to talk about with the panel, including the departure of one key aide at the White House including pressure for a larger shakeup. Is that what's needed? Will that fix the problems? We'll talk to panel that ahead.
COOPER: As we said tonight, the White House is facing flood of breaking news on the Russia probe on several fronts. This comes as word broke today that the White House Communications Director Michael Dubke has resigned.
Back with the panel. Matthew, I mean you talk to a lot of sources within the White House probably and elsewhere. Is there a sense that the president needs to have a shakeup on -- inside the White House? Or do they think it's working well?
ROSENBERG: I mean it's hard to tell on any given day. I think, you know, you saw the press conference today with Sean Spicer that did not go well. And, you know, especially on the Russia stuff, on the Russia front, there's just this avalanche of revelation and it's -- move or a fire hose and a drip, drip.
[21:50:11] And that can't -- you can't come home from Europe to this kind of news and think things are going well. I mean Maggie really knows these guys, this incredibly well and I think we're all finding that they are having difficulty managing this and difficulty kind of absorbing these developments that seem to happen every other day now.
COOPER: You know, Maggie, I mean, some people like we've had in the show just in the last hour said this is the personality of the President.
COOPER: This is how he ran his company. It's a lot of -- it's obviously a very different thing when it's, you know, you're the most powerful person on the planet. Do you think a shake-up that -- what do you hear?
HABERMAN: I mean, I think it's -- I think there are couples of things. I think that there are people who are there, who really try incredibly hard and are in a very tough spot and they're there because they really do believe in the president and they want to work for him. I think that someone like Hope Hicks who was with him in the campaign and I think has essentially killed herself throughout the campaign and did a very good job for him in a very tough situation --
COOPER: -- for the country -- HABERMAN: And I think that there are other people who I think --
correct, number one. And I think that a lot of other people are there for a similar reason. Who do care about the country. I think there are some people there who thought being in the White House would be a career enhancer, and that this was a way to go about it and they are discovering that on any given day if you go out and say, no matter -- I mean, I that we can all agree that Sean Spicer's briefing today was less than optimal. If his goal was to see in common like he was answering question but I think that --
COOPER: The way they just said he's not going to have another one tomorrow.
HABERMAN: Right. I think that if you are person who is in the position of having to speak for this president, you go out there, knowing within hours, he might tweet something that is going to completely under catch you no matter who you are. And that -- it's like dancing on the head of a pin, and so sure, you can do shake-ups.
But number one, there aren't a whole lot of people running towards that buildings right now as a career opportunity. Because they see what has happened to the people who have done it. And what has happened to their credibility. That's a really, really, difficult thing, number one. And number two, you can change all the chairs you want but as you said, this is the president's personality and approach.
COOPER: Jeff, you know, I talk to so many former White House Chiefs of Staff when this administration first started, Republicans and Democrats. All of them said the same thing. You got up people clearly in their lunch. You can't have all these different power centers, people have, you know, ears to the President at different times.
LORD: I think that's Chief of staff --
COOPER: It doesn't seem -- that would clearly seem to help matters, I would assume if that's something that the President would tolerate.
LORD: I think that's true, but there is one ingredient here that always has to be adapted to, and that is the president. Whoever that president is, he builds the staff out from his own personality and his way of doing things.
COOPER: For better or worse.
LORD: For better or worse, right. And they were all different. And I think what President Trump is discovering here is he needs to get the staff to his liking so in respond the way he wants it to respond which is basic impulse they all have. I remember that Pat Buchanan was brought in for this very job after he had --
LORD: -- long since been in the Nixon White House and that was I think the CNN -- COOPER: He run the press office. You're right.
LORD: And he was the communications director for this exact job. He did a fabulous job. But this was from somebody -- his predecessor was having problems. So they brought Pat in. He knew exactly what to do. He knew Reagan well. They got along. You know, the fix worked. So I think really what you're seeing here is President Trump is trying to get this in his own fashion to work the way he wants it and he probably won't stop tinkering with it until it's done.
COOPER: Jen, I mean you work obviously in the Obama White House, do staff changes matter?
PSAKI: They can matter and they can be moments of reset and moments of opportunity. Our first communications director on the Obama administration was only there for three months and a change was made. So that's not uncommon but that alone doesn't solve every problem. You need bring somebody into a job like that or chief of staff or what -- any of those jobs that have a close relationship with the president. Somebody who the president trust and will relay on, but somebody who the president will give license and will give confidence to be able to do their jobs. It needs to go both ways.
So bringing someone new in will only make it work if he changes the way -- some of the ways that he is doing business as Maggie and some of the others on the panel have touched on.
HABERMAN: Yes. I mean I think that Jen touched on something really important, which is trust. The thing that I have heard over and over from people inside and outside the White House speak with the president is, you know, he generally is not a very trusting person and he wasn't before he became president. The leaks that have come out and whether you -- you know, I don't love the term leak because sometimes they're just people actually getting things with shoe leather (ph) and so forth but, often times it is. But the information that has been outside of his control, he always had people sign nondisclosure agreements.
HABERMAN: He always had some sense of control over the organization he ran. He doesn't have that here. He has all of this Republican National Committee former staffer whom -- many of them are very talented but whom he has continued to complain about. And I think that this has not instilled in him a sense of comfort frankly and I don't know how he gets that.
[21:55:11] COOPER: Phil, I mean, the staff can't go to their boss and tell them he's off track. Is that -- I mean is that an important attribute in the White House staff?
MUDD: Well, let's throw a panel flag (ph) here. That is. There's a couple of really basic issues here. Number one, how many avenues of messaging do you have? You have the family, you have the outright folks that Steve Bannon folks, you have the bureaucrats, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense. There are too many people with too many differences of opinion who have avenues to the president.
Number two, let's have a reality check. The spokesman for the president of the United States has a right to spin for the president. You cannot walk away from Europe where the European premier that is Angela Merkel for two days running says the western alliance is at risk. We've got to look at other options and have the spokesman say everything is great. You got too many messages and you got a message that is not reality. That's the problem here, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Thanks everyone. We're going to take -- we got a late update on the breaking news reports of a gunman at Orlando International Airport. Police just released new information. We'll bring you the details when we come back.
COOPER: Quick update now of Orlando International Airport is now a stand off. Police say this begun when someone reported a man with a gun in the terminal near the rental car area, negotiators now talking with him.
[22:00:03] Time now turn things over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight".
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Home alone and angry and isolated president hackers down as the Russia investigation swirl (ph) around them.