Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump to Meet With Kim Yong-un, South Korea Says Meeting Will Be By May; Source: President Trump Upset With Sarah Sanders Over How She Handles Questions About Stormy Daniels; Lewandowski Testifies Before House Intel Committee. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 8, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to what promises. It's been quit an hour of breaking news. The President is serving up a surprise to just everyone tonight including at the Pentagon, we're told.
So, on the table tonight, the meeting, perhaps in May, between President Trump and North Korean's Kim Jong-un, it's not a type O, if and when it happens it will be the first meeting ever between the leaders of each country.
Also following something other than the alleged infidelity in the Stormy Daniels story, namely the namely that went to buy her silence. Where did it come from? Who did it come from? Was it against the law?
Later former Trump Aid Corey Lewandowski goes before the House Intelligence Committee. The question is, did he actually answer all the questions or not.
We begin though with tonight stunning development, President Trump and Kim agreeing to meet and Kim agreeing to freeze nuclear development and missile testing.
Now CNN Jim Acosta starts us off at the White House. So explain why President Trump agreed to meet us with Kim Jong-un. What do we know about it?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a little bit of new information, Anderson. Senior administration officials were briefing reporters about the stunning development as you described it just a little a while ago. And one senior administration official asked why the President is taking this bold step as to meet with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
And according to the senior administration official, "President Trump has made his reputation on making deals." And so they are essentially framing this as the ultimate art of the deal. The art of the nuclear deal, you might say.
And essentially they are trying to take credit for the President's what they call strategic rhetoric. That's a phrase you hear here at the White House quite a bit that he is pushing on Kim Jong-un, as per rating of Kim Jong-un can actually have a net positive effect when it comes to global diplomacy and they are pointing to that tonight as a result of this.
Now, talking to senior administration officials, Anderson, they are still working on exactly how all of this will play out, where it's going to take place, when it's going to take place? But they do say, yes, in fact, the President is going to meet with Kim Jong-un.
One other thing we should point out, Anderson, this came as such a surprise over here at the White House and across the administration that Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State who was traveling abroad today was telling reporters earlier today that the essentially the administration was not really close to any kind of a situation where they would engage in direct talks with the North Korea as the Secretary of State was saying that, the South Korean delegation was hear in Washington making its way over here to the White House and it was within a matter of an hour, I'm told by senior administration official that South Korean envoy met with the national security advisor, then met with the President. Presented this offer, which by the way, we should point out, was a verbal offer, not letter. Administration officials are clarifying that.
And then the President came into the briefing room and sprung the news on all of us. Of course, you know, the big question moving forward is just how serious North Koreans are about denuclearizing and the administration says they are going to basically keep the pressure on while we wait to see these plans being worked out for that meeting between the President and Kim Jong-un. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, a lot can happen between now and --
COOPER: Our next guest has seen the ups and downs of the U.S.-North Korea relationship, mostly the downs over the decades Retired Air Force Lieutenant General James Clapper, Former Director of National Intelligence he joins us now.
So first of all, Director Clapper, I'm wondering your reaction to this invitation from Kim Jong-un to meet in person, certainly unprecedented.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it is, Anderson. I was on with Don Lemon last night and I was lamenting the fact that what was going on just between the north and south was quite significant.
I said concerned that with all the other distractions now in the White House that we'd miss perhaps a great opportunity to profoundly change the dynamic on the Peninsula. So like everyone else I was quite surprised of this.
I think in additional to the, you know, the normal traditional reasons that people advance for what happened here, you know, the effect of sanctions and the administration's actions, I also think President Moon should be given a lot of credit for his very astute handling of this.
And I think Kim Jong-un for his part sees an opportunity here with a rock, South Korean administration that would be more amenable to dialogue and negotiation. And President Moon I think is astutely taken advantage of those using first the Winter Olympics as leverage because the North Koreans badly wanted to participate in those Olympics and he took advantage of.
But the third factor, which I think is quite important to bear in mind is the fact that -- I believe the North Koreans have developed their nuclear capability such as it is that gives them sufficient confidence that when they do sit down and negotiate they're not going to be supplicants as they have been in all the previous engagements we've had with them going back to nuclear framework agreement in the mid '90s. This is quite profound.
COOPER: It is interesting -- I mean, according to Jim Acosta's reporting, this all played out within about an hour. You know, I've talked to a number of people tonight, who kind of worry about, is there a framework for negotiations? It's sort of has the ground work been doing? And obviously they're having been a lot of, you know, direct meetings to set this up. Is there time?
[21:05:11] CLAPPER: Well, actually I agree, which is something for me with President Trump's inclination to meet right away. I think there's some a virtue in this striking while the iron's hot. But I would also recommend, for what it's worth that this be a listening occasion. And I think we have a great opportunity here to get straight from the horse's mouth which we've never had before an expression of what it is the North Koreans' need to feel secure so that they don't need nuclear weapons.
And if could just that first meeting elicit from the North Koreans, a clear expression of what they want. And I imagine in one way or another, one term or another, it means ultimately reducing the presence of U.S. forces on the peninsula.
Now, this -- I'm getting ahead of the headlights here but I do think -- I hope we're thinking about the long game here. Because I do think this is a breakthrough and significant opportunity for us if we play it right. And I would start with understanding what the North Koreans want? Only that would lead to reduction of forces on the Peninsula.
When I was there, and spoke with them, a way to start this would be the conditions for negotiations of a peace treaty because bear in mind, all we have there is a cease-fire. Since the point of July 1953.
And, you know, we've had forces, military forces on the Peninsula for 68 years. And I think at some -- I've served there for two of them. And I think at some point we need to make a determination with the Republic of Korea when they are able to defend themselves.
And I recall when I was participating in so called, tract two negotiations in the late '90s with members of the North Koreans' U.N. mission. And at one of these dinners and one of the North Koreans suggested, for example, that we might morph the United Nations command, which is what -- you know depend that lead -- the defense of Korea during the Korean War. Morph that into a peace keeping force.
Now, this was coming from the North Koreans. So there's thought about that. I hope we don't beat our chest here and just continue coercion because we risk then, which is something that Chinese long concerned about. They violate implosion, the collapse in North Korea, which would have all kinds of -- had consequences.
CLAPPER: So in addition to what we've done with the sticks, or we also need some carrots. So, one of which would be, at least discussing entering into negotiations for peace treaty. I've long been a proponent of establishing intersections in Pyongyang and Washington respectively --
CLAPPER: -- which I think also would be a way of enhancing dialogue at the working level.
COOPER: Yes. General Clapper, I appreciate your time.
I want to bring in our panel, Gloria Borger, Scott Jennings, Jen Psaki, Marc Lotter, and Brian Fallon.
I mean, Gloria, again, it's hard to overstate how a change of policy this is.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN'S CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's huge. It's historic. It's a complete gamble to a great degree. I don't think anybody expected it to happen. It's the first time we've seen a sitting American President meet with the leader of North Korea. This is a first. And, you know, as General Clapper was saying there are risks associated with this but as he puts it, if this is a listening occasion, then it may lead to some progress. Obviously there's no ground work that's been done on this. So maybe it will just be a photo op but an opportunity to listen in which case it could be beneficiary.
COOPER: Scott, the President came under a lot of criticism for the rhetoric he's been using over last year, rocket man, fire and fury. Does he deserve some -- I mean, did it work? Do you think that sort of tough stance, as the White House says, brought this about?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No question. I mean, look I think for the last eight years before Donald Trump become the President, the North Koreans didn't think that there was a President in the Oval Office that have to resolve to follow through on the threats to the United States. The new President comes in. He's a serious person. We retch about sanctions, the President and his team deserved a credit for rallying the international community to strengthen those sanctions.
As we heard from the CNN reporting, the President deserves credit for getting Chinese to help here. The Chinese trucks are not coming into North Korea. So across the board, what this President has done, I think you can fairly state tonight has driven North Korean to the table.
So what we've been doing for the last 25 years has only given us a North Korea that as nuclear weapons. So I think for the American people, that's not working. The President is going to try something. We shouldn't mistake here that the North Koreans are all of a sudden trustworthy, credible negotiating partners.
[21:10:12] COOPER: All right.
JENNINGS: These people have been reneging on promises for decades. But you have to give Donald Trump some credit for his resolve and for trying something new to retch it down the tensions and relieve this pressure that we might been on the brink of a nuclear war.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the fact is that, North Korean leaders have long sought meetings with American Presidents for decades. So that's not actually a new ask or new invitation.
It is. He has broken the fever that's existed for some time on whether we should or should not directly negotiate. And that's something that many people in the Obama administration thought we should have considered more.
So in that sense, he deserves credit. This is far preferable to going to war or taking military action in North Korea by all accounts.
I think the big question is, what next? And when they say they've agreed to denuclearization that is coming as a message through the South Koreans. We don't actually have any idea what that means, we don't know that's means they're going to get access or they will sign anything that will be verifiable, it will require a very detailed negotiation. So we can give credit for breaking the fever, we can give credit for this being better than military action. But I think we shouldn't get further ahead of ourselves.
COOPER: It is interesting Mark, I mean, just this past October, President Trump tweeted, "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State that he's wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man." Clearly, he's had change of heart?
MARC LOTTER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I think what you're saying is, that the President maximum pressure campaign is working and North Korea is feeling the pressure to have to come to the table. And I think the biggest indicator of that is that, the United States didn't give up anything to have this meeting. It's the North Koreans who have said we will suspend our nuclear and missile testing during this diplomatic process. We recognize that U.S. Korea and Japanese, military exercises will continue and the sanctions will continue. So in essence we have given up nothing to be able to get this meeting. And then what do we do with it going forward? That's the key. PSAKI: But we also didn't get anything. And that's what people will be critical of in the national security community for justifiable reasons.
COOPER: Which in the past that's the reason why a U.S. president wouldn't meet one-on-one, is that right?
PSAKI: Well, typically the President would be the closer. And that's how it worked say, with the Iran deal, successfully. It doesn't mean it has to work in that way in every capacity. However, typically there will be months if not years of discussions and negotiations to come to the point if you're -- what you're agreeing, you're going to meet on the basis of.
COOPER: But Brian, you know, the argument that being made is if a dictatorship like North Korea where everything -- the power resides in one man, why not deal face-to-face with that one man and maybe that will alter the negotiations at a lower levels.
BRIAN FALLON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, look, Jen is right that an offer like this has been on the table for a long time. So it can't necessarily give Donald Trump, credit for that.
And also, yes, the President has ramped up the rhetoric against North Korea but really the teeth of the sanctions which have been a key cog of the Obama years have sunk in. And that's being brought to bear here. That's what's bringing Kim Jong-un to the table. I think Democrats should not react to this with pessimism, for pessimism sake. They should not react to pessimism for partisanship's sake.
Yes, there's a lot of reasons to doubt North Korea's intentions. There is a lot of key questions that need to be asked about the framework that the Trump administration is going to enter this discussion with. But I do think that if North Korea is seriously going to hope the idea of denuclearization. You cannot look scans of that, you need to actually test that out.
And so I do think Democrats will buying -- react to this and good faith unlike Republicans, who for eight year, dug President Obama during his 2008 campaign, live through it. President made a comment, if just and he'd be willing to meet with leaders from Iran, North Korea. The Republicans beat him up for eight year. This President, Donald Trump campaigned on tough rhetoric and called this President week and within a year he's meeting with Kim Jong-un.
COOPER: But it's interesting, I mean, negotiations like this, I mean, beyond this one meeting, I mean, they take a -- I mean, there's so much to be worked out. I mean, it's multiple, it's three dimensional chess in a -- you know, in a battle field.
PSAKI: Yes, and typically it involves people who we have never have heard of because they are experts on these very fine tuned nuclear issues. They are people from the CIA, from the State Department, from the Defense Department, who have been preparing for this for decades. They will be the people ultimately who will come to an agreement, if there's an agreement to be made.
I agree with what Brian said, Democrats shouldn't be critical of this just to be critical of it. It's a positive step to be pursuing diplomacy as opposed to military action. But you're right, that's very complicated, we shouldn't count this as done. We have a very way to go.
COOPER: Yes. I got to get a quick break. And we're going to have more on this, including looking back at all the non diplomatic things the President has said about North Korean's dictator that lead up to this moment perhaps.
[21:15:00] And later the story -- the breaking news, it's a clips by no means raise all the unanswered questions about the President, the adult film actress, and the payment to secure her silence.
COOPER: Given the state play between United States and North Korean, tonight's breaking news about an upcoming meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un certainly comes as a surprise.
Before the break we alluded to some of the President's tough talk. Here is just a small sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has great strength and patience but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
North Korea does not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
And we can't have mad men out there shooting rockets all over the place. By the way, Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. Mark, you worked in this administration. Are you confident there are -- that there is enough staff in place, of quality staff to get a frame work into place?
LOTTER: I am. They have a great team there. And you're going to draw on a lot of different people to do it. It's going to be a quick turn around if the President -- as what President said will do this May.
[21:20:03] COOPER: But there's a lot of empty slots like the State Department, right?
PSAKI: There's no ambassador to South Korea right now. There also no special no envoy. Those are two people, who would typically be central to a negotiation like this.
Now, unfortunately, there are career staffs who have worked on these issues for decades. And obviously, it would be in their interest and I'm sure they would serve.
COOPER: But the Secretary of the State just today was saying, oh, diplomacy is in the cards? I mean it doesn't seem like he is in loop.
PSAKI: No, no. He is not in the loop. The Pentagon was walking around saying they had no idea what was going to happen. Pence also contradicted this earlier today when he said, we wouldn't sit down with them unless they had very viable concrete actions taken. So it's clear that this wasn't the result of it internal policy process. No doubt.
BORGER: It was General McMaster, National Security Advisor who apparently on thin ice. We've all reported that who was thanked publicly by the South Koreans tonight. And he was clearly very involved in doing this. And so if he is on thin ice, does this mean he gets a reprieve and he stays through May until these talks are done or does it mean that something like John Bolton comes in, who's very much a hack against North Korea?
COOPER: Scott, you were saying, Bolton was very critical of --
JENNINGS: Yes, well, he is been skeptical that we can ever trust the North Koreans to do things like, let us inspect their country deeply enough to know whether they ever actually denuclearized.
I love John Bolton. And he is been -- I think he said the right attitude about despotic regimes like this for a long time. I think ultimately we need both sides of this coin. We need the people who know North Korea for what they are, people who renege on promises all the time. But we also need the new thinking that I think the President has injected which is to say we've been doing the same thing. Banging our head against the wall for 25 years, let's try something different.
COOPER: Does this help Kim Jong-un within his own country? I mean, look, he is -- you know, there's concentration camps in that country, there are tens of thousands if not more people who have grown up in jill essentially. Their entire lives, whole families, you know there's three generations of punishment if somebody does something wrong. Not only do they get sent to a concentration camp, their parents do, their grandparents do. Is this building Kim Jong-on up in way that's inappropriate?
PSAKI: There's big risk in that regard. And that he is a propagandas and very good at it and obviously their state run television there and it is likely he will use this as I summoned the President of the United States to meet with me. Does it mean that Trump or the administration shouldn't do it? Not necessarily. But it is a gap that gets out of this by having agreement from President Trump after decades of asking.
COOPER: Although President Trump gets something out of it too even, you know, I mean obviously, he's on the global stage and looks like he's breaking with precedent and doing something pretty extraordinary.
LOTTER: And you had reporting earlier tonight on CNN where North Korea knows there are only two outcomes in this situation. They will either denuclearize and join the world community or be allies in the worlds will take the nuclear weapons from them and their regime will cease to exist. This is them recognizing that top reality and the way out -- especially when you have China taking the economic screws tightening all of the other and the rest of the community that's been brought together with the President. This is the way out for them. They need to take it.
PSAKI: But not necessarily. If you look at Will Ripley's really interesting reporting over the course of last few months. North Koreans are all for bombing of the United States. They are all for military action against the United States. So that is not actually what North Koreans think. And his audience, are the North Koreans.
COOPER: We should also point out that China is not really interested in a unified Korea centered toward the United States on their border nor they interested in huge instability with tens of thousands of refugees pouring into China.
LOTTER: All this said you cannot fault the President for taking the meeting. I'm more concerned how the President is going to perform in the meeting.
LOTTER: Because it's not just a matter of palace intrigue to pay attention to how sort of haphazardly this meeting was agreed to today. It's another window into how Donald Trump operating. And we see it in sittings with foreign leaders, with domestic leaders, you saw it last week. He was sitting across the table with Democrats and Republicans welcoming them to the White House to talk about guns and he said that he would be willing to get rid of due process and take away guns. He put the assault weapons ban on the table then reversed himself 24 hours later.
You saw him last year in a -- with Vladimir Putin. He and Putin came out of the meeting with totally separate interpretations of what took place in the meeting. He has had other diplomatic meetings where he had not a note taker in the meeting.
This is a President who is always eager to portray himself as a deal maker and he is willing to lied key details for the purpose of acting like he is getting people closer to a deal. We have become used to taking Donald Trump seriously not literally. Will Kim Jong-un, does he know to do that?
BORGER: Maybe that's why it's going to become a photo op.
LOTTER: That would be good I think for everybody.
BORGER: I think -- you know, I spent a lot of time covering the Russia story. I know his lawyers in the Russia story don't want him to testify before Bob Mueller because of the amount of prep work it would take and afraid that he might say something wrong that would contradict someone. I think it's the same thing with meeting with Kim Jong-un. I mean they'd have to prep him so much for this if it were serious and detailed that it would take an enormous (ph) amount of time.
[21:25:25] FALLON: But we already know he doesn't like to even read the PDB every morning --
FALLON: You worry about Donald Trump, remember Kim has never met with another head of state. This is his first go at it.
BORGER: I can't worry about Kim.
JENNINGS: This are -- but we're acting like -- we're worried about Donald Trump. This man is a rookie. He's never been out of North Korea since he became the president. So I'm not sure we're dealing with a sophisticated of a world leader as you think. And let me say one more thing, all the caveats, and details to come aside, it's the president's job to defend America. How many nights did we sit here wondering are we on the brink of nuclear war?
JENNINGS: Right now, tonight that pressure is off because of what the president has done and coalition with the South Koreans and other international partners, and that is a win.
BORGER: How do you know if it succeeds? What's the -- what the, you know --
JENNINGS: I know right that now it's less likely we're going to have nuclear war with North Korea than it was last summer when we were (INAUDIBLE) watching missile test now.
BORGER: I think so too.
COOPER: Let's take a quick break. Coming up we're going to take a look at the latest developments. The saga of Stormy Daniels and her relationship with President Trump, alleged relationship, right ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back. More twists and turns in the Stormy Daniels story. More disclosures likely to emerge. Here's her attorney from my conversation with him last night.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: We are not going to disclose at this point all of the facts in evidence that we have substantiating the allegations and the complaint. Nor, we would have set that all forward in the complaint. I mean that just want to be smart. [21:30:07] But we certainly have more facts and evidence to support the allegation or allegations I should say than what has already been disclosed.
COOPER: It's Michael Avenatti. Back now with the panel. Joining the conversation Trump biographer Michael D' Antonio.
It is interesting, I mean increasingly this story sort of shifts not only from whether or not there was a relationship between Stormy Daniels and then Donald Trump as a civilian, because this was back in 2006. But also the money trail and where does this $130,000 where did it come -- where did it come from? Why did it raise red flags immediately at this bank so that a report was issued about it? I mean there's -- and who actually, yes where the money come from -- who did?
BORGER: Right, and we know that Michael Cohen, the attorney who paid Stormy Daniels. Said it was his own money. And it people are disbelieving of that and saying that if he didn't laid out, it clearly had to be reimburse, once the campaign contribution, that come from the campaign, that would be illegal to Stormy Daniels. Why did the bank suddenly start paying attention to $130,000?
COOPER: Right, it's not a huge amount of money for a bank normally being attention to.
BORGER: Exactly. And we don't, you know, we don't know the answer to that question yet.
COOPER: But also the notion -- I mean, you know, the White House has said obviously there was no affair and said the President had no knowledge of this deal. But the idea that Michael Cohen, as loyal as he is to the President, not just would use his own money but would enter into an agreement in which he was representing that Donald Trump was involved in this agreement without telling his client, Donald Trump. I mean just from an ethical stand point as an attorney, that -- I mean that's a huge ethical violation. I mean as if I start -- I formed a contract with somebody else claiming I was representing you without telling you.
BORGER: I mean it makes no sense to me. I think Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are close. And he's been his fixer for many, many years. But it seems to me, 11 days before an election and Michael, you know a lot about these relationships that it would be absurd to think that he wouldn't tell the candidate who might become the next president of the United States that you have a problem and I'm fixing it. So don't worry about it. I'm fixing it Mr. Trump.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he'd be very proud that he's fixing it. I think it's preposterous to imagine the president, then candidate Trump didn't know. we'll find out more from Michael Cohen. I think it's preposterous to imagine that the President -- then candidate Trump didn't know. But we're going to find out more from Michael Cohen, we're going to get the word from the check writer's mouth because he's, according to my sources in publishing, just made his book deal.
D'ANTONIO: So he'll recover some of the $130,000 probably through that deal. I've heard it's about half a million dollars. It's not quite enough to indicate that he's going to spill everything because if that were the case, it would be a million. But he's going to tell his story.
COOPER: Yes, but if -- I mean he's as loyal to -- as loyal as he says he is, it's highly unlikely he's going to be giving details about, you know, Stormy Daniels.
D'ANTONIO: I would expect him to go at length on the subject of why I wrote this check and why perhaps I did it out of the goodness of my heart. You know, this going to be the argument he makes.
COOPER: But when a bank red flags incoming money there's a report that automatically, I believed goes to the FBI ultimately. So the FBI would know already where the money came from and what about it was possibly suspicious.
FALLON: And that's what makes this a story. The fishiness of the transaction. The unbelievable explanation that he out of pocket of this money without any reimbursement. The potential campaign finance violation that it might represent. That's why we're talking about it today. I've seen Trump surrogates go on air all day today, trying to suggest that people are trafficking in smut and tabloid style allegations. This is not about the affair. In fact, I can't imagine if this had to came to light before the campaign, that it would have made a meaningful difference considering everything we already knew about Donald Trump. To me, it's curious because he felt a need to pay hush money to this woman.
D'ANTONIO: Well he was just trying to get through two weeks.
FALLON: Well, that's the thing, because right the settlement was signed on October 28th, what else happened on October 28th. Jim Comey's letter went to Congress and Hillary Clinton was in a soup on the e-mail investigation again. So, maybe this was let's clear the deck, let's not have any distraction, so the last 10 days are spent firmly --
COOPER: Also certainly on the of the "Access Hollywood" tape, I mean there was, you know, another women coming forward. You know, do you think if -- and I saw an article today saying, that the White House is so concerned about this, because if people believes Stormy Daniels, it's more likely then they will start to believe other women even though Stormy Daniels is not alleging anything but a consensual relationship from, you know, from everything she has said publicly.
JENNINGS: I think there's two hills here. There's the hill about the affair which I think most people believe that it happened. I don't know if it happened that wasn't affair, none of us where there. But people I think generally believe that something happened. But then there's the hill of this legal issue that Cohen has caused. [21:35:06] And I think in order to preserve credibility on these issues they need to probably not dial on hill number one and then focus on hill number two, because it's something like this, some picky tack thing where this guy lies and doesn't tell the truth and he ends up accidentally roping the President into some conspiracy to cover up a payment. That's where this unravels. And so, I think they need to preserve their credibility on this first issue of the relationship for the purpose of separating the President from Cohen, making him deal with this personally. Because the president can't go out and take the fall for this. I mean Cohen -- if Cohen did this and that's what he saying --
BORGER: How do you know he didn't say? Well it contain --
JENNINGS: I don't know -- I don't know, but I know that if I were constructing a strategy around this, I would not be allowing Cohen to go out there and either accidentally or in artfully drag the President down. I mean we're in a --
BORGER: He's done that. I mean its already happened.
FALLON: There might be some bad facts here that might be their problem.
JENNINGS: It could be -- it could be, it could be. But I'm just saying, that their trying to -- the credibility on the first piece of it to me is suffering right now. Because they're trying to hold out this idea that he doesn't know Stormy Daniels. Or that they don't know each other, they don't have relationship. It strikes me that, we need to push that off and focus on what really matters which is the probability and the legal issues.
PSAKI: This may sound completely insane, but they probably be in a better spot if they just fessed up to the affair. Early on probably during that week before the election and just said we did this. It's not introducing new information or a new personality characteristic about Donald Trump, so that go back to your question, I don't think the White House, if that's what they're concerned about, they're missing the point.
BORGER: Look, can I say. I also I think they're concerned about Melania Trump here to be honest. She's the wife. There's been a lot of discussion about her being very angry about the Stormy Daniels story having been caught off guard by this, you've seen them travel to the State of the Union in separate cars. Then, you know, all the rest of it. And so I think there is that that concern on the president's part by the way.
BORGER: And I don't think you can discount that in all of this.
COOPER: We're going to have more ahead with the panel. Coming up, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. The word is that he refused to answer some questions on certain topics, including the firing of James Comey. I'll speak with committee member, next.
[21:40:55] COOPER: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski spent more time today with the House Intelligence Committee saying he answered all, quote, relevant questions and it's subjective of course. It wasn't good enough for the Ranking Democrat on the Committee Adam Schiff. He said Lewandowski should be subpoenaed for refusing to answer questions.
I'm joined now by California Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member obviously of the Committee. Congressman, did Corey Lewandowski's testimony today provide anything valuable? Was it exactly what -- I mean, what was that he wouldn't talk about, if you can say?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Not really, Anderson. There's a growing wall between our investigation and the truth and Mr. Lewandowski added bricks to that wall today. And he actually had help of some of the hands of our Republican committee members.
He refused to answer questions about what he knew and what he talked about with Donald Trump about the June 9th Trump Tower meeting. He refused to talk about discussions he had with Donald Trump about Bob Mueller and whether he would be fired and he refused to talk about anything he discussed with Donald Trump with respect to James Comey's firing.
COOPER: I don't mean to be disrespectful in this question, but is your committee just, at this point, hopelessly divided and useless?
SWALWELL: I hope not. You know, people sent us hear to understand what the Russians did. What role, if any, the Trump campaign members played in working with the Russians. What the government response was and whether it was adequate and what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again.
We've worked in the past, Anderson. After September 11th, our committee worked as well as the independent commission to make sure that we wouldn't be attacked from the skies again and that we'd be safer from terrorism. So we have models of it working, but our committee members, I think, show today more fidelity to protecting Donald Trump than protecting the ballot box.
COOPER: Yes, because -- I mean, I ask that question and I didn't mean to be snarky but it does seem like, you know, person after person comes to testify and just kind of invents their own rules about executive privilege, kind of decides what they're going to answer, what they're not going to answer. And then the Democrats on the committee, like right now, Ranking Member Schiff, as he wants to subpoena Lewandowski, but obviously Democrats have unsuccessfully called for subpoenas of multiple witnesses who've refused to answer. And, you know, is there any indication it might be different this time?
SWALWELL: It's not snarky, Anderson, it's a fair question. Corey Lewandowski joins a long list of witnesses who have come in before our committee and have made up privileges, straight out refuse to testify or, today, Mr. Lewandowski decided on his own that he was going to tell us what was relevant or not. And that included any conversations he had with Donald Trump about pretty pertinent issues surrounding the Russia investigation.
But again, our job is to understand what happened and to make reforms. The Republicans seem to believe their job is to respond to Russia's attack with an attack on our law enforcement and to undermine Bob Mueller's investigation. I still believe, Anderson, that the American people are going to speak this November and that they're going to want checks and balances in place and that we may have to do this all over again.
COOPER: This news that Robert Mueller is looking to whether Erik Prince formerly Blackwater was attempting to set up a back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during meeting seashells. Do you think that Prince misled the committee during his testimony about that meeting and should he have to come back and answer more questions?
SWALWELL: Anderson, if the story about George Nader being in the seashells with Erik Prince to establish this Russia back channel is true, Eric Prince lied to our committee. But he wouldn't be the first person who tried to establish a Kremlin back channel. We know that Michael Cohen, who you've talked about earlier on the program, was working with Felix Stater to connect Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin.
We know that multiple offers were made to George Papadopoulos and Carter Page to connect Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin. This is unprecedented. We've never seen before a presidential campaign on either side of the aisle receives so many approaches and offers to work with the Russians. They're not our friends.
At best, this demonstrates bad judgment that we would be drawn so close to the Russians. At worse, this may be witting cooperation.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, appreciate your time. Thank you.
SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.
COOPER: When he emerged from the hearing room, Corey Lewandowski told reporters he had not been told by the White House not to answer questions. Back now with the panel in a bit to talk about that. We'll be right back.
[21:49:15] COOPER: As we discussed before the break, former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was before the House Intelligence Committee today.
Panel member Eric Swalwell mentioned this. The Committee's Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff is not happy. Congressman Schiff, as Lewandowski refused to talk about some topics and doesn't get to pick and choose which questions to answer. Back now with the panel, it does seem like just about everybody had goes before this committee does get to pick and choose what questions they want to answer.
BORGER: Right. Because, you know, the Democrats don't control the committee. It's fallen apart. They don't even know who the Ranking Republican is on the committee anymore who the chairman is. Is it Nunes or Conway?
And they're just daring (ph) them. Lewandowski, in talking with the Special Counsel, would not be able to claim any kind of privilege.
COOPER: But none of these people --
BORGER: Lewandowski doesn't have any privilege. I mean, he was dismissed during the campaign. He's not serving in the White House. It's not like it was with Hope Hicks where they were literally on the phone or was it Bannon, they were on the phone to the White House trying to figure out what he could and he couldn't say.
[21:50:11] So this is Corey Lewandowski just, you know, thumbing his nose at these guys and saying, I don't have to answer your questions. There is no hell to pay for it.
FALLON: But even when White House officials, sitting White House officials have tried to dodge answering questions, they haven't formally invoked any kind of privilege. They've just sort of informally said, no, we're not going to answer that. You heard Jeff Sessions go before Congress and say, I'm not going to answer that because I want to hold open the possibility that the President may want to invoke executive privilege which is another inventive privilege that doesn't exist legally.
You can do one of two things in these scenarios. You can either invoke privilege and have a legitimate claim and that can be tested or you can plead the fifth. In Corey Lewandowski's case if, he doesn't want to have the conversations he may have had where he -- that may implicate the President about that June Trump Tower meeting.
And so we were -- during the break, we're talking. This only lasts for as long as Republicans control the gavel and can take no for an answer. But I guarantee Adam Schiff is not going to make this a voluntary interview. He's going to subpoena things and subpoena people. And he will hold people in contempt if he takes that gavel back.
PSAKI: And Eric Swalwell just alluded to that during that interview. He just said, like, this is somebody we could bring back essentially.
COOPER: But what does this mean? I mean, regardless of, you know, where you stand on the rest of the story and whether do you think this committee needs to be doing what it's doing, just for the future, I mean, is this just a -- are we just going to see more -- this is a line that's been crossed and we're going to see more and more and more of this kind of stuff or is this just a one off? JENNINGS: You know, I have my thoughts about the way the Democrats have conducted themselves on this committee. But I think, generally speaking, the House Intelligence Committee has been more amateurish than the Senate Intelligence Committee.
I think what I'll want to see on the intelligence committee is, look, a lot of these policy committees, they get partisan. We have debates over bills. These intelligence committees are doing important things.
JENNINGS: Should be above partisan politics. The Senate Intelligence Committee is handled itself extremely professionally. I think most people would agree the House Committee has evolved a bit.
We've got to get these intelligence committees back to where they are which is basically above the partisan, you know, atmosphere that has gripped this House Committee and frankly has them. You know, I think most Americans are looking at both sides going. I don't know if I trust any of these people.
BORGER: They're not going to get the answers. Mueller's going to get the answers. I mean, it isn't going to come from the Congress. It isn't going to come from the politicians. It's going to come from the Special Counsel.
And as the story unfolds, I think that's where we're really going to really learn it. Because he does subpoena people. And he can indict people. And he has cut deals with people.
COOPER: We should -- I know there's obviously politics. But Marc should Republicans subpoena people who are not answering questions?
LOTTER: I think it's important to remember though that what we heard Congressman Schiff talk about is that Corey didn't answer questions about the drafting of the statement following about the June Trump meeting. Well, he wasn't in the administration, talking about discussions about firing of James Comey. He wasn't in the administration. Or possible discussions which have always been denied about potentially firing Bob Mueller. He's not in the administration.
So, did he not answer questions about things he wasn't in the administration to know about? And, I mean, at the end of the day, it seems to me that Democrats are grabbing at more straws than stable hands.
PSAKI: Look, ultimately, I think what the staff needs to remember is President Nixon didn't go to jail and about a dozen of his staff did. So, this makes lie with these committees but it's not going fly with Mueller and it's not going to even fly with all the committees. And that's why they're going to come back.
FALLON: And you're seeing it this week. I mean, we had a former Trump adviser have a meltdown on television the other day claiming he was going to defy Bob Mueller and by all accounts he is submitting because all it takes is one conversation with a serious lawyer to tell you that if you don't comply, you're going to jail. And it could be for a long time.
JENNINGS: Yes. I think this is a side show ultimately. I mean, look, you know, people could show up and answer questions, not answer questions, we can talk about Mueller is the key to all of this.
JENNINGS: You know, the partisan nature of this committee means Republicans are going to do what they do today. If Democrats win the House, they'll do what they do next year. But the only thing we ought to really care about here is getting this Mueller investigation conclude which is gone for a very long time and appears to be, you know, moving forward at a rapid pace.
This is a side show compared to that. And if I'm the White House tonight, I'm looking at this going, you know, this is not in my -- I'm worried about Mueller, not this.
BORGER: You know, I think Congress' responsibility to at least to shine the light on the stories. And they did it in Iran-Contra when you had people publicly testify even though there was a special separate prosecution going on. And these committees have not really done that. I mean, there was Comey testifying, but we didn't see a lot of public testimony.
COOPER: Yes. We're going to take a break. Thanks everybody, appreciate it.
Coming up, a new CNN Original Series uncovered rare details about America's most famous political family. I'm not talking about the Trumps. Preview of American dynasty, the Kennedys, after a quick break.
[12:58:52] COOPER: Along before politics were glim (ph) the Trump families eyes, there was another family arguably this country's most famous family. This Sunday night tune in for the first episode of a new CNN Original Series called "American Dynasties: The Kennedys." Here's A Preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know their name. You don't know their whole story. Ambition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the bear of Wall Street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're never running against one Kennedy. It's a full family affair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wealth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Kennedys always find a way to make their dreams come true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This compounder is the center of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where only the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let us not forget they were not angels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've had more than their share of scandals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then there are these moments of greatness.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We choose to go to the poll and do the other thing not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A rare and intimate reveal of America's most famous family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people enjoy a life that's normal and mediocre. Other people need challenges. That's who we are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "American Dynasties: The Kennedys" premiers Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Look forward to that. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.