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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: Kelly Says President Trump's Pledges on Border "Uninformed"; Interview with Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois; Bannon's Hill Appearance Reveals White House Effort to Restrict Testimony; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 17, 2018 - 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 HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, keeping him honest on immigration, the border wall and how the White House was reportedly directing what Steve Bannon did and did not answer in front of Congress. At the very moment when reaching a deal on immigration could determine whether the entire government shuts down, President Trump's own chief of staff John Kelly speaks out on candidate Trump's central campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border. And what he said may not surprise you, but the fact that he said it will. Candidate Trump's pledge on the wall was uninformed.
We are joined tonight by one of many lawmakers who were actually in the room when Kelly said that.
There is also breaking news in the Russia investigation. More new reporting on something Steve Bannon reportedly let slip to the House Intelligence Committee and what went on inside that hearing room.
We begin though tonight keeping him honest with immigration and a possible government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, if there is a government shutdown, whose fault would it be?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working on it. We're working on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the president late today on Capitol Hill leaving an awards ceremony for retired Senator Bob Dole saying we're working on it, earlier today, though, his press secretary seemed to be working on something else -- namely, who gets the blame if the government shuts down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president certainly doesn't want to shut down. If one happens, I think you only have one place to look and that's to the Democrats who are holding our military and our national security hostage by trying to push through other policies that have nothing to do with the budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the policies she's talking about is the one protecting so-called Dreamers as part of a budget deal to keep the lights on, which is true. It also is true that Republicans control the House and Senate and they simply try to pass legislation minus any language on DACA or anything else funding the government for another month or so.
In any case, though, Sarah Huckabee Sanders's attempt to shift blame begins to come unglued when you look at who is on record about what she is about to blame Democrats for. I, quote, Republican senators in 2018 change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess.
That is the president back in May, and here is Sarah Sanders being confronted with that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: He just said -- the president certainly doesn't want to shut down. Last year, he tweeted a shutdown would be a good thing. So, what causes the --
SANDERS: He said politics. Yes, look, it's never been a preference of this administration. It wasn't then, it isn't now. And, again, if that does happen, the blame, the fault will all lie at one place because we would like to see a budget deal happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sarah Sanders saying that what the president meant back then was that a shutdown would be good politics. That's not what he said, though. Again, in May, quote, our country needs a good shutdown. The country needs it. And now, according to Sanders, that's not what he meant at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: It's never been a preference of this administration. It was president then, it isn't now. And, again, if that does happen, the blame, the fault will all lie at one place because we would like to see a budget deal happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, those two positions, wanting a shutdown, never wanting one are obviously at odds with one another. It's not so strange in a way. Today, and in recent weekends we've seen evidence the president is not clear or has not made clear what he really wants in the way of a deal on immigration. As you know, just last week in the space of a minute or two, he told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he favored the Democratic version of immigration reform, then he greed agreed to a harder line Republican provision. He later hosted the authors of a bipartisan immigration compromise then somehow allowed a group of hard line lawmakers show up and talk him out of a compromise.
He sent mixed signals as well about the kind of wall he wants. Whether it should span the entire border or not, whether Mexico will pay for it or not. And late today, the Senate's top Republican clearly a frustrated man called him out on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm looking for something that president Trump supports, and he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor, but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and, therefore, solve the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As soon as we figure out what he's for, he said, a quote from the Senate majority leader. But if you believe Sarah Sanders today, he does know who he wants to blame, which is also pretty rich when you listen to what her boss, the president, said about an immigration deal just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll take all the heat you want to give me and I'll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans. My whole life has been heat. I like heat in a certain way.
But I will. I mean, you are somewhat more traditional politicians than me. Two and a half years ago, I was never thinking in terms of politics. Now, I'm a politician. You people have doing it many of you all your life.
I'll take all the heat you want, but you are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:01] COOPER: I'll take the heat he says.
Now, according to Sanders, the president and the White House, they are already out of the kitchen.
Joining us now is CNN's Phil Mattingly with the latest on the blame game and rather stunning admission made by Chief of Staff Kelly that candidate Trump was, quote, uninformed about the wall and over promised a bill as a candidate. So, what's the reaction there on Capitol Hill about this, Phil? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think it
is important to consider the context as much as you do the content right now, where this meeting was actually taking place and who it's taking place with. Chief of Staff John Kelly has had not a great relationship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to say the least. This goes back to when he was Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly, some heated meetings, some heated discussions.
And on the issue itself specifically, the wall, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had made very clear, they find this to be one of the most divisive, if not the most divisive issues that the president has talked about throughout the campaign, throughout the issues he's focused on.
This was a severely problematic issue for the caucus. And John Kelly saying that this was something where the president was simply uninformed when he wanted about a wall that spanned border to border, was an admission that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus found it obviously interesting. But it's also something I think is worth noting, Anderson, that as you pointed out, underscores the reality on the Capitol Hill. What the president wants in any potential DACA resolution, any potential DACA deal is up for open debate. Nobody has an idea, how big does the wall have to be, it's a system, is it just technology, is it barriers?
Move away from the wall. What he wants on family migration, what he wants on visa lotteries. All of these issues, Anderson, are very up in the air. It is what's complicating everything on Capitol Hill.
COOPER: And how much closer is Congress to making a deal?
MATTINGLY: In terms of DACA, they're not close at all. I think just to state plainly. Right now, there is a Gang of 6 bill out there, the bipartisan bill that the president summarily rejected, there is a bipartisan proposal in the house. Got its first mention in the Senate floor today, that hasn't necessarily picked up a lot of steam at least with the top leaders. I think people a lot of are wondering if perhaps that could come at the forefront.
The reality here is this. So long as the president doesn't get behind something, Republican leaders aren't going to get behind something. Anderson, Republican leaders don't get behind something, particularly when they're saying they don't feel like the deadline is there, they don't feel like there is urgency there, there is no question the pathway forward for a DACA resolution as it currently stands is nonexistent.
COOPER: Phil Mattingly, appreciate the reporting.
More now on Chief of Staff Kelly's meeting with the members of the Hispanic Caucus and his remarks on the wall, we're joined by caucus member and Democratic congressman, Luis Gutierrez.
Thanks for being with us.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you. COOPER: Congressman, this meeting with John Kelly, can you just explain exactly what he said about some of the president's positions as a candidate particularly regarding the wall? Did he actually use the wall uninformed?
GUTIERREZ: Here's how I remember it, Anderson. He was talking, he said, you know, the president promised the wall, 50 feet high from sea to shining sea. That's not going to happen.
He said -- he stopped talking about wall and started calling it barrier. In some places, the barrier would be -- in fact, it's so inhospitable no one would come through there. That's the wall. Some places it would be a drone, some places a border security agent. Other places, it might be a concrete wall.
But he said, look, think about it as barrier. This is what I think the most telling thing is. He shared with us that -- he said the president made promises during the campaign about the wall, and those promises were not informed promises. And that he as -- the chief of staff and former head of DHS, has educated the president and informed the president and his position now have evolved because he says, look, I told the president, I talked to governors and I've talked to Congress people and I've talked to mayors and we just cannot build this concrete wall.
And so -- and that was just as clear. That was in response to a question we asked, can you please tell us what you mean by a wall? Because intuitively, we thought that was something that was still not exactly clear.
COOPER: It's been reported that Kelly also said he was optimistic about Congress getting a DACA deal done. Did he give you any timeline? Did you get any sense that the White House is open to including a DACA solution in this short term spending bill?
GUTIERREZ: Anderson, here's what I think. I think -- here's what he did say. He said, the Dreamers can stay. That's done. Permanent residency, citizenship, they're not going anywhere -- and he repeated that three times in a very unequivocal terms.
But then just as quickly he said, we need a wall. We need billions of dollars for a wall. We need you to end what he calls chain migration, which everybody in the room felt very offended by that term.
He says, we need to end chain migration, which is family-based visas. That's where you unite. That's where, I don't know, I show up and I say, you know what? I'd really like my dad because that would be a good thing for me to have as an immigrant. I want my brothers and my wife and children so we can build a family.
[20:10:03] I shared with him that I found it extraordinary that the president would say that since he inherited the business from his dad. And he has the business and his children are going to inherit. The Trump family has made family-based decisions on their business and that's what immigrants want, right? We come and we bring our parents and we create businesses and opportunities. And I thought for a moment, wow, he said, I believe in merit-based
immigration. And I said to myself, does he understand that he's talking to 25 members of Congress, almost all of them are here because their moms and dads came here, low-skilled jobs and now we're members of Congress and our kids are going to college? And I expect Luis Andres, my grandson, to be a neurosurgeon one day.
That's the way America is truly built.
COOPER: I mean, is there any way you could vote yes on a short-term spending bill that doesn't have a permanent solution for DACA recipients?
GUTIERREZ: No, no. Anderson, look, every day -- and I'm happy you asked that question because a lot of times we get into the, how would I say, the making of the bill and we forgot who we're fighting for.
Here's one of the things Secretary Kelly told us. I'm sorry, Chief of Staff Kelly told us. He said, he said, that Graham and Durbin working together, that's not bipartisan. I need you to go and work with Cotton and Perdue and with those people who don't believe in immigration.
And I thought to myself -- well, that's not going to lead to anywhere. That's like saying, Luis, why don't you go and fight for reproductive rights and why don't you join Republicans who believe that a woman doesn't have a right to abortion even if the case of rape and incest, and come back with a compromise? You know what you're going to get? Absolutely nothing and stalemate. And so, that's what he's talking about.
So, I think it speaks to the naivete and how just uninformed Chief of Staff Kelly is. If you really want to reach an agreement between people who believe in immigration and believe the system should be reformed and improved, and those who want to shutdown immigration forever in this country, you're never going to reach a solution.
So, I would hope that Chief of Staff Kelly would see that that was a general proposal that Durbin and Graham, that's bipartisan ship. That's Democrats and Republicans putting the country ahead of party. Indeed that is bipartisan and it's what we need to applaud.
COOPER: Congressman Gutierrez, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, our political team, what White House Chief of Staff Kelly said and what this all means. And later, all the breaking news on Steve Bannon and what he told the House Intelligence Committee.
[20:16:32] COOPER: So, at a crucial moment for the president his party, the country, the man who is supposed to have the president's back tells lawmakers that his boss was uninformed about his signature campaign issue.
Joining us from the left and the right, respectively, Paul Begala and Jack Kingston.
Paul, I guess my question is, I mean, the president hasn't shifted all that much from his campaign promises. He still wants a wall, albeit maybe a shorter one or maybe they're not going to call it a wall. So, does that mean he still holds uninformed positions in General Kelly's eyes?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Apparently in General Kelly's eyes. He would know best. After all, he was secretary of homeland security before he became the White House chief of staff.
It is sort of news from nowhere. I mean, the American people, through the Electoral College through the help of Mr. Putin and Mr. Comey, they selected this man. And he's our first president in American history with no prior experience in the government or in the military. And so, I think it's understandable in a sense he doesn't really know.
He's been in there a year, he should know now, because this was his signature promise. We will build a wall and we'll make Mexico pay for it. Well, we're not going to build a wall and Mexico is not going to pay for it. Whatever happens, the American taxpayers are going to have to pay for it.
This is I think -- it's why he's down to 38 percent. He only had 46 percent when he won the election, he's down to 38 percent now. So, a whole lot of Trump voters who stood with him through all those travails of the campaign, they've quit on him now and maybe one of the reasons is they don't like being lied to.
COOPER: Jack, you were at the capitol today. You spoke with the president. We got a picture of that.
He apparently told you he liked your defense of him on the network, a network he never watches, by the way. That's neither here nor there. What do you make of this, Kelly's comments? There were plenty of the Republicans on the stage during those debates who said, you know, who disagreed with the president on this idea of his vision of the wall.
JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think that Paul will recall that there are a lot of presidents who make promises that they can't deliver on, but they get high marks for trying. For example, Barack Obama trying to close down Guantanamo Bay. He ended up having a lot of impact on it but he never closed it which was his campaign promise.
However, he got credit for those who wanted to close it for trying, and I think that one thing that if you talk to the base Republicans, the dip in his popularity has nothing to do with the wall not being built. At least that's not the direct issue right now. I think the president is trying. You can tell how difficult it is when you just saw Luis Gutierrez saying that Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin is bipartisan, but working with Tom Cotton is not. That doesn't make sense, but it shows how difficult and how high the emotions are when we're dealing with immigration.
COOPER: Paul, I mean, to Jack's point, I mean, President Trump would not be the first president to, you know, realize a campaign promise is harder fulfilled than he'd imagine.
BEGALA: Absolutely. He makes a great point. The late great Mario Cuomo famously said, we campaign in poetry, we govern in prose.
But this wasn't an ancillary -- not Barack Obama saying I'm going to close down Guantanamo, right? This is the central promise of his campaign. By the way, it's not all that popular. It is with the Trump base, it is, and we love the Trump base. You know what's even more popular with the Trump base? Regularizing the status of the Dreamers.
Jeffrey Garin (ph), a Democratic pollster whose quality control standards are highest as anybody in the business, just finished a poll. He surveyed 12 battle ground states, ten of which Trump carried. So, this is not exactly blue America. And among Trump voters, 68 percent of Trump voters want to regularize the status of the Dreamers, welcome them in America and make their status here permanent.
[20:20:12] That's an easy win for the president. It's something that even his base which he says he's all about, really, really wants. So, Mr. President, just cut the deal with the Democrats, let these Americans who they are, morally Americans, let them stay and live the American dream.
KINGSTON: But I think, though, Paul, when you ask that question somewhat in a vacuum, do you want to legalize a small child who came here through no fault of his own many years ago and grew up in America, I'd say, yes, in fact, I would say it's 95 percent people want to do something about that.
But when you ask people the big question of we have a million legal immigrants to America a year, 15 percent are skilled-based, 16 percent are simply because of family. What do you want to do about that when you start talking about visa lottery? Fifty thousand random people who just happened to win a lottery, who, because of chain migration, account for another 165,000 a year.
And then when you start just looking at the job displacement of Americans and driving the wage rate down, the competition for entry level jobs, I think there's a lot more to the immigration question than that Paul would reveal. I think that's why the president is having these issues with -- dealing with --
BEGALA: No, it's not --
COOPER: I want you to be able to respond just quickly then we've got to go, Paul.
BEGALA: He's had issues because he doesn't know what the hell he's doing, Jack. It's not like --
BEGALA: Excuse me, I did not interrupt you.
The president could easily help almost 700,000 people who deserve to stay here and that all Americans want to stay here, and get a political win. But he can't get out of his own way because he's competent. By the way, the best thing about Donald Trump is that he's incompetent. Thank God he doesn't have his arms around all the power that he actually could be exercising to pursue his --
COOPER: All right. I've got to leave there. We've got some breaking news on the unfolding Russia investigation. That's coming up. Is the White House working to limit testimony to any and all congressional investigators? We'll look at that ahead.
[20:25:31] COOPER: We're learning tonight that the White House is working behind the scenes to limit testimony to congressional investigators looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And that seems to clarify what went on yesterday at the House intelligence committee hearing where Steve Bannon invoked executive privilege rather than answer questions about president Trump and the Russia investigation.
Now, Bannon, by the way, has agreed to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. And we're going to talk with Intelligence Committee chairman, Congressman Eric Swalwell, in just a bit.
But, first, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, joins us with details on what she has been learning.
So, what have you found out about exactly what went on in the hearing with Bannon yesterday?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, can you imagine the committee finally gets Steve Bannon after Michael Wolff's book for which Bannon was a major source, and called Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting in Trump Tower treasonous. You know, they finally get him behind closed doors, Anderson, and they want to ask him about what happened during the transition and during his time inside the White House.
And instead, they are met with, I can't answer this question. I'd like to answer this question, I really can't answer this question. And what they find is that his lawyer, during breaks, is conferring with the White House counsel's office to figure out whether answers to some of these questions would be in violation of potential executive privilege. And so, it got pretty heated.
COOPER: The White House says it's cooperating with all of these investigations.
COOPER: So, why are they trying to limit what former staffers can say to Congress? BORGER: Well, you know, from the White House point of view, they're
just following a precedent which says that if anybody is going to decide what's privileged and not privileged, it's the president of the United States. And it's not Congress and it's not a former staffer. And what they've determined is that all post election conversations, activities, et cetera, that includes the transition and inside the White House should be off limits right now.
And the Democrats say, look, this is ridiculous. You're trying to muzzle people. You're trying to keep us from getting to the truth and even Trey Gowdy, a Republican, said, you know, this is no one's definition of privilege. So, on both sides of Congress, there is a little bit of consternation about it.
COOPER: Again, there is a reporting in "Axios" that Steve Bannon slipped up, actually admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that he had conversations with top White House advisors about the Trump Jr. meeting in Trump Tower.
BORGER: Right. So, he did slip up, talk about a meeting, and according to "Axios", members were saying, well, if you talked about that meeting, why can't you talk about other meetings? And they were upset about it.
Now, obviously, when he talked to the special counsel, he's going to have to talk about these meetings because it's a criminal investigation.
COOPER: Yes. Gloria, thanks very much.
A lot to sort through. The perfect person to ask is Congressman Eric Swalwell, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, where Steve Bannon obviously appeared in that marathon session yesterday.
I spoke with him just before air time.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, Steve Bannon has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation, but is stonewalling your committee. I'm wondering, did you get any kind of explanation as to why he'll talk freely to Mueller but not to your committee?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, Anderson. Actually, it doesn't make a lot of sense. And it also doesn't flow legally that he would be willing to talk to Bob Mueller, but under subpoena to Congress, that he would not answer any of our questions. Also, the White House has been quite inconsistent, that they are asserting the privilege for not only Steve Bannon's time at the White House, but any time after the campaign, during the transition, as well as even when he had left the White House.
And so, it appears that there is something they don't want Steve Bannon to tell us.
COOPER: And you have no doubt this is being orchestrated by the White House, that Steve Bannon, his attorneys are consulting with the White House on all of this.
SWALWELL: We were told by Steve Bannon's attorneys that they were on the phone as we were meeting in the Intelligence Committee with the White House. And their instructions from the White House was that Mr. Bannon could not talk about anything that happened during the transition, while he was at the White House, or even recent conversations he's had with the president.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Sarah Sanders, should be pointed out, also confirmed Bannon's lawyer was relaying the committee's questions via phone to the White House, called it, quote, the same process that's typically followed. Is that the same process that's typically followed? Is that normal?
SWALWELL: No, I hope he was not doing that, Anderson, because that would be an effort to read into the White House a committee's investigation. Now, the White House has a right to, you know, put parameters in place for any time that Steve Bannon was at the White House, but they cannot really, they should not know what we're asking Mr. Bannon.
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC SWALWELL (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- sensitive investigation. Now the White House has a right to, you know, put parameters on place -- in place for anytime that Steve Bannon was at the White House but they cannot really and they should know what we're asking Mr. Bannon with respect to the campaign.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sanders also characterize Bannon citing the executive privilege as the White House following a practice has gone back decades. Has any of the administration try to exert executive privilege to your knowledge for the things that happened during the transition?
SWALWELL: No. To my knowledge that has never happened in history and it's happening right now with Mr. Bannon and also it's not supported by any case law or any statue. And so, again we believe this is the White House and its most aggressive way yet trying to obstruct our investigation.
COOPER: Trey Gowdy said that they have been told Bannon is coming back tomorrow, can you confirm that? And do you think he should be held in contempt to Congress if he continues to refuse to cooperate?
SWALWELL: I hope when he does come back that -- and we're hoping that soon, that the White House will clear the way. The President said after all that he wants to fully cooperate. And so they should allow him to testify without any parameters on his testimony. But that has to be sort about sooner or rather later and that's a decision by the White House, otherwise he should be held in contempt and a judge to decide if he has to testify. COOPER: Apparently, Senior White House Stuffer, Dearborn from Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, they testify in front of your committee today, did either of them invoke executive privilege in the same way that Bannon did?
SWALWELL: Well, Anderson, I could tell you that in Executive Branch, a senior level Executive Branch member testified today and was asked about questions during the campaign, the transition, and this person's time at the White House and even told us that he was under no instructions to invoke executive privilege, which shows that the White House is now selectively picking who can tell us what.
Now, Corey Lewandowski is, as we speak, want to break right for votes. Corey Lewandowski is continuing to refuse to answer any questions after the campaign. So this is an effort by the White House. Corey Lewandowski told us that he spoke to the President as recently as last night by won't go into or anything that was said after he left the campaign.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, appreciate it. Thank you.
SWALWELL: Yes. My pleasure.
COOPER: One quick correction introducing Gloria Borger, I mistakenly called Congressman Swalwell the Committee Chairman, he is in fact a member of Republican. Devin Nunes chairs the committee, the Ranking Democrat, I should point of course is Adam Schiff.
Just ahead some high level conflicting the opinions on executive privilege, perhaps not surprisingly vote coming from the house, our panel weighs in ahead.
[20:36:14] COOPER: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly tonight told Fox News, the White House never told Former key aide, Steve Bannon to involve executive privilege before Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon testified yesterday, didn't answer a lot of questions, refused to answer some before the House into a committee, did the White House tell him to invoke executive privilege?
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No.
KELLY: No. Steve has had very, very little contact with the White House since he left. I know Steve a little bit, not very well, he was -- he left the White House in his head, he certainly never return to the White House and with exception of a few phone calls here and there, very, very little contact with the -- with the White House. And I certainly never spoke to him since he left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's bit odd because White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is taking seemingly opposite task, saying any sub testimony by Bannon is being cleared to really long detailed process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This White House is following the same practice that many White Houses before have that have gone back decades that there is a process that you go through anytime you have a congressional inquiries touching upon White House. The Congress should consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material. This is part of a judicial recognize process. And it's not just isolated to this instance. Executive privilege is something that goes back decade because it's something that needs to be protected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, seems like mixed messages there. Smart minds are here to help to clarify. Joining me tonight, CNN Contributor and Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, also New York Times, White House Correspondent, and CNN Political Analyst, Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, so this seems confusing, I mean is Kelly parsing words when he says that he didn't tell Bannon but, you know, maybe Bannon's attorney?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's my understanding. And to be clear, what we have had coming out about the White House and reports about what actually happened and what was relayed during this committee hearing has all been very muddled. But I think that Sarah Sanders' words most closely represent what this White House views its position as whether that is acceptable or not, whether that is acceptable for topics to be cleared to the White House as we were later told that Steve Bannon's lawyer did is an open question.
The other question here, remember is that Bannon's lawyer represents two other people, who are witnesses in this probe, one is Reince Priebus and one is Don McGahn, the White House counsel.
So I don't know that there's an actual conflict but certainly there's an appearance issue that a lot of people have raised a question with that.
COOPER: So Maggie, I mean just to clarify, I mean do you think Kelly does not know that they are in contact with the attorney for Bannon and it seems like a conflict, or do you think --
HABERMAN: No. I think Kelly knows and I suspect that he is parsing his language --
HABERMAN: -- to make it Steve Bannon specific. COOPER: And Maggie, this -- or John, this actually, this reporting of Bannon so-called slip-up, if it's accurate, it connects the Trump Tower meeting to at least one conversation with other members of the President's inner circle. I'm wondering how significant you think that might be?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it could be considered one thing, a waiver of the privilege. You can't partially invoke executive privilege. More importantly he doesn't really have a privilege to invoke at all. The President can't --
COOPER: He doesn't.
DEAN: -- enforce him. No, he does not. If he wants to talk, he could talk. For example, I test -- I assure Nixon didn't want me testifying and what would have invoke executive privilege to be thought that will do any good, he wouldn't do any good because I was going to testify. There is no injunction to stop a witness and testify and that I ever heard of. So he, Bannon could testify and he is obviously just doesn't want to testify or is playing to the White House with this. He tried to hint that he has got something that's they want to consider him saying or not saying.
[20:40:11] COOPER: Do you agree with that?
HABERMAN: I completely agree. And I think the ladder strategy is a piece of this. It is an important point that Bannon is not constrained by the privilege that he appears to have been citing and certainly with that slip up raised a different set of questions of what exactly it's applying to. But I do think that Bannon is trying to send the White House a signal whether it is a signal that he might have something. And they should be mindful. Or the he is being quote-unquote, "loyal" which I think it's a message that some of his folks started putting word that he was attempting do. Either way I do think this is some of virtue signaling towards the Trump administration.
COOPER: John Dean, I mean given your own experience. I'm wondering what advice you would give to Steve Bannon tonight?
DEAN: Well I think tell the truth when he does talk is the first thing. Secondly, sooner or later, he could be forced to testify. In the congressional setting it's very obtuse and difficult a force to witness to actually testify, so that can take a long time particularly when the Department of Justice is controlled by the same party of the witness. So that's not likely to happen. But it's going to be a different ball game in front of a grand jury if he ever gets there or even informal discussions with Mueller.
COOPER: And Maggie, this is interesting because we talked to Congressman Swalwell. And he said, you know, somebody else testified today, we didn't name. But the White House didn't -- you know, that person answered question and the White House apparently didn't revoke any kind of executive privilege. So, it does seems it is being done, Congressman Swalwell raised the idea that's been done selectively. HABERMAN: I think that's a legitimate assumption. I think -- Look Steve Bannon, there are certain people who they were concerned about and certain people who they were not. Among the small group of people who knew about a number of decisions were Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon was aware of some not all, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Hope Hicks. Bannon had tertiary, secondary knowledge about a number of key aspects of the Mueller probe most notably the firing of James Comey. And when that decision was actually made, he was not in the room for it, as I understand it.
And when the statement about the Don Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer was worked out to Board Air force One, which is a key area of concern for Mueller. Bannon does not have direct knowledge of either of those issues, but he does have direct knowledge about a lot of other things. And the reasons that slip is so important or part of the reason that slip is so important that he is supposedly made according to Axios about talking to people who were involved about in the drafting of that statement or more directly involved. If he could, among other things, and Sir Dean, can correct me on this, but I think he could, among other things provide additional information. He could contradict people who have already spoken with Mueller, who did have more direct knowledge. And so I think it becomes key.
COOPER: Yes, Maggie Haberman, John Dean, I appreciate it.
Coming up on 360, more on the President's health, and the question of whether if he has heart disease, -- or actually the President's reason ill informed (ph) and racist comments about Haiti and African and more. Conan O'Brien has decided to take his show on the road to Haiti. I talked to Conan about what he hopes to achieve. That's next.
[20:47:06] COOPER: The President's recent comments about the people of Haiti and the continent of Africa, it didn't just shake up politics in Washington and the nation's diplomatic reputation to roll over. I spoke about this on the program about the strength I've seen on the people of Haiti over the decades that I've been visiting there and working there. A strength and the dignity that I believe the President can learn from.
Conan O'Brien has decided to take his show on the road to Haiti. He's going to be there for the next several days meeting people from all walks of life to see for himself what Haiti is like. I spoke with Conan earlier today before he left.
CONAN O'BRIEN, TELEVISION HOST, COMEDIAN, PRODUCER: The first I did was I loved what you said on the air on your program on Thursday so I called you. And you -- It took a while to get through. Let's get clear about that. You have a Conan filter. But then finally you took the call. I think you thought I wanted to come to a party or something. You want to have in that. But you got right back to me and you helped us out a lot. COOPER: How do you go -- I mean because a lot of places you have gone. I mean you were by the west bank in Israel, Cuba, Mexico, you know, there --
O'BRIEN: We went -- when we went to South Korea and we went to the border between North and South Korea.
COOPER: I mean these are difficult areas to go to.
COOPER: And Haiti can be a difficult place to travel in a times.
COOPER: Just even to get around, you know, traffic and stuff.
COOPER: How do you approach them, though? Because it's a complex place.
O'BRIEN: Yes, you know, the first -- The goal of any trip like this is to make friends. That is, if you want to reduce this to as simple as I can make it and it can seem, obviously there is a political element to reacting to something that President Trump says, but more it's to go and make friends with people, and find out who are these people. Everyone is talking about Haitian right now. Let's find out who they are. Let's meet them. But I've really do want this to be a chance for Americans too see how -- I've heard the Haitian people are very funny. And there's a great sort of Creole-French sense of humor at that --
COOPER: Do you speak French?
O'BRIEN: No. I am very good in Spanish and that has helped me a lot. French is rough. No, no -- and apparently the dialect there isn't even French. So Creole-French, so --
COOPER: "Sak pase," is what do you need?
O'BRIEN: "Sak pase."
COOPER: "Sak pase," it's like hey, it's gone.
O'BRIEN: "Sak pase."
COOPER: What's happening?
O'BRIEN: Yes. "Sak pase."
COOPER: And when they say it to you. The answer is "Nap boule."
O'BRIEN: "Nap boule." "Sak pase."
COOPER: No, no, "Sak pase." O'BRIEN: "Sak pase."
COOPER: Yes, not "Sak pose."
O'BRIEN: I like that the only man in America whiter than me is teaching me. This is fantastic. You and I should go together. Two white walkers from "The Game of Thrones" have invaded. Yes, so I'm really looking forward to -- I will learn what I can.
COOPER: It's also -- I mean, so fresh. You know, you're going at a time when, you know, three weeks ago -- no, just four weeks ago New York Times reported that President Trump in a meeting with White House staffers had said that all Haitian have aids. I know that people in Nigeria live in huts. And then, you know, the shit house, the shit hole comments whatever -- you know.
[20:50:11] O'BRIEN: Let's watch the language. Look at you.
COOPER: Does it matter to you from a county perspective whether he said shit hole or shit house.
O'BRIEN: It's a huge difference. If it turns out that it's shit house, I'm not going. I'm only going to shit -- no, of course, it's make no difference, whatsoever. It's the attitude behind it. At the end of the day, people debating what did he exactly say, of course, you know, some people in the meeting are saying, well, he did say it. And others were saying, well, I think he said that, but it was tough language, but he didn't say exactly that.
They're missing the point. It's the attitude behind it, which is to dismiss giant swaths of the globe that we all live on as being either unimportant, or not worth our time, or people that we shouldn't know, people that shouldn't come to our country. That's the cancerous attitude right now.
So whatever word he said is completely irrelevant to me. It's more about, all right, I'm going to go. I'm going to spend as much time as I can, and in the limited time I have to meet as many Haitian people as I can. And let's try and -- The show won't all be funny. I don't want to turn a blind eye to all the problems there are in Haiti. But let's try and make something. Let's try and make something positive.
And as has happened with every other show I've done, I then spend -- I can't go anywhere without Mexican people coming out of stores and saying, "Oh, Conan." They speak to me in Spanish. Thank you for going to Mexico City.
I have Koreans, South Korean people coming up to me all the time. North Koreans didn't get the word about my show. Don't know what happened there. Yes, I just -- I have a publicist in North Korea.
And -- But really wherever I go, if I've been to a country, people from that country, Armenian people, they come out of the woodwork and they want to talk to me and they want to thank me for going. And we have these great chats about their country. And I'm hoping that will happen now with Haiti. This is just a desperate ploy for me to make friends around the globe.
COOPER: I'm glad you're going.
O'BRIEN: I'm really thrilled to go. And thank you for -- you did respond immediately. I couldn't believe I put up a pathetic bat signal, and this man responded immediately and you got us a lot of help.
COOPER: I was thrilled that you're going. So, I think it's going to be great for you and great for Haiti.
O'BRIEN: Yes, I hope so.
COOPER: Conan O'Brien on his way to Haiti.
Coming up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on skepticism in the wake of yesterday's clean bill of presidential health. That's ahead.
[20:56:41] COOPER: The White House is pushing back today on reporting from Dr. Sanjay Gupta that the President has heart disease. Yesterday Sanjay asked White House physician Ronny Jackson some tough questions. And from the information he got, Sanjay said it's clear that the President has a form of heart disease.
Today Sarah Sanders was asked if the White House stands by Dr. Jackson's report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Dr. Jackson has been a White House physician for the last 12 years, trusted by Presidents Bush, President Obama, and now President Trump. He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the President. And so I think a doctor that has spent the amount of time with the President as Dr. Jackson has is not only the most qualified but the only credible source when it comes to diagnosing any health concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There's also been skepticism about the President's height and weight which puts him just shy of obese. Dr. Jackson reported his height as 6'3". His draft card and driver's license have it as 6'2".
Sanjay Gupta joins us now. So, Sanjay, explain what you said. I mean, does the President have heart disease just based on the information his doctor presented yesterday?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean that's the bottom line. I mean he had a lot of tests done, understandably so, 3 1/2 hours of exams at Walter Reed Medical Center. And a big focus is his heart health as is understandable for a gentleman of that age, 71 years old. That's what you worry about the most in anybody is their heart health. He had several tests done. We know that his cholesterol and his low density cholesterol, the low density lipo protein have gone up despite being on medication. We know he has borderline obesity and we know based on that one test known as a calcium scan, coronary calcium scan, that he has a score of 133. A lot of people may not be familiar with this type of testing --
COOPER: I think -- I actually just had this. This is the thing that tests the calcium inside the artery, is that it?
GUPTA: That's right. It's testing the calcium inside the plaques which are located in the coronary vessels, which are the blood vessels that supply the heart. And yes, you and I actually both had a test like this done many years ago and it's basically designed to figure out if you have heart disease and trying to be predictive of what your likelihood of having some sort of heart problem is down the road. That's why the test is done.
Anything above 100 is considered heart disease. And they can make predictions if nothing else changes what the likelihood of having some sort of heart problem is. He can do things about it, but that's the whole point of the test.
COOPER: You pointed out also, though, that it's not uncommon for a man his age to have signs of heart disease.
GUPTA: Look, in this country, Anderson, most men, typically, over the age of 40, about 80 percent or so have some degree of heart disease, some hardening of the arteries, some plaque in those blood vessels, and it typically does steadily increase.
President Trump based on, again, the results that they released to us and the result -- when you put all that together, you find that he's sort of squarely in the middle in terms of risk. He's just basically in the middle for a man of his age. So --
GUPTA: -- there's things that can be done about it. The doctor has recommended increasing his statin dose, the cholesterol lowering medication as well as making some lifestyle changes.
[21:00:00] COOPER: All right. Sanjay Gupta, I appreciate it. Thanks.
Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CUOMO PRIME TIME HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson.