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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Referred to Shutdown as "Strike"; Tension At The TSA; Mueller Grand Jury Extended Up To Six Months; Democratic Lawmaker Rashida Tlaib Makes Profanity-Laced Vow To Impeach Trump. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 4, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:35] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Chris Cuomo is off tonight. Topping this hour of 360, the shutdown, the showdown over it. The president's take on it today and human cost of it all. There's new reporting tonight in all of that. The president gave a press briefing today and said that the 800,000 government employees who are out of work or working without pay are OK with that pretty much. He threatened to declare a national emergency and build the wall without congressional approval.
And according to new reporting from the "Wall Street Journal" out tonight the president told lawmakers at the White House today that he doesn't like the word shutdown but he said prefers the word "strike". Let that sink in for a moment. While you do, let's go to CNN's Manu Raju for the latest from Capitol Hill. So, what between today between congressional leaders and the president? Where are we at?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, nothing productive if you want this shutdown to end anytime soon. In fact, the president said in that meeting which he confirm later that this could go on for potentially years if this is not resolved to his liking.
Now, there's a fight over process and there's a fight over policy. Democrats made very clear at that meeting that they don't want to negotiate on issues about such as the president's wall and other related matters, immigration and the like until the government is reopened.
The president said very clearly he wants funding for his wall before the government is reopened and that's not even close to, you know, we're also talking about policy which the two sides are diametrically opposed on the fundamental issue of the president's wall. The president made very clear at the onset of this private meeting that he wants $5.6 billion for his wall but Democrats are only offering $1.3 billion for border security. They're saying it's not -- it can't be related to his wall so the two sides are completely opposite side of a key issue and can't even agree on the process for negotiating going forward.
Now, Vice President Mike Pence said at that meeting that staff level discussions could take place, should take place and there will be some staff level talks to White House staff and Hill leadership staff tomorrow morning. They could happen to the weekend. Mitch McConnell later said perhaps they could get closer to a deal by early next week but still that is expecting a lot of staff to come through an agreement that the principals aren't even close to reaching at this point, Anderson.
COOPER: What was the reaction on Capitol Hill?
RAJU: Well, there is growing frustration and impatient about this and no clear and in site. You're hearing some frustration particularly among rank-and-file Republicans who want some action, want the government to be open while the shutdown, the wall fight is negotiated.
You saw last night some Republican defections, up to seven in the House, a couple of Senate Republicans also saying let's open the government, le's negotiate later.
On the Democratic side, mostly are in line with Nancy Pelosi, at least one freshman House Democrat, Jeff Van Drew told me that Pelosi needs to go closer to the decision of the money that the President is proposing for the wall at least reopen the government has talked bout that. But most Democrats in the private meeting today were in line with their leadership believing they have the stronger hand to play, so the question, Anderson, is who blinks first? No indication that either will and the President warning this could go on a very long time. That's probably the one thing that both sides agree on this. This could take time. Anderson.
COOPER: Manu Raju, Manu, thanks. Appreciate it on the personal and a very real human told this is taking. CNN has learned that hundreds of TSA officers at least four major airports around the country have called in sick this week, as many as 170 a day at New York's Kennedy Airport. Sick calls are up about 200 percent to 300 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth. Some of the workers apparently can either no longer tolerate working without pay or don't want to -- can't afford to work without pay and working other jobs.
Our Randi Kaye found out, whether at work or not, TSA officers are under enormous strain right now.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brian Turner may look like he's on a leisurely walk with his wife and baby but the 28-year- old TSA worker is stressed. Thanks to the government shutdown, he has no idea when he's going to get another paycheck.
BRIAN TURNER, TSA OFFICER: I was last paid about a week ago and until the budget is passed we won't receive pay again.
KAYE: Brian has worked for the TSA for six years and is based at Philadelphia's airport. He's considered an essential employee so he still has to work but he is not getting paid.
[21:05:02] TURNER: I live about a half hour from work and it's going to come to a point where you say do I put gas in my car or do I feed my family. KAYE: And that's a hard decision.
TURNER: Absolutely it is.
KAYE: It's come to that and the couple says they will run out of money by the end of the month unless the government reopens. That means they could lose their house, a huge concern with five-month-old Elliot to care for.
KAYE (on camera): What do you worry about for this guy?
RACHEL TURNER WIFE OF TSA EMPLOYEE: Our child care payment is more than our mortgage. We're already stretched thin with that and without the paycheck it's just almost an impossible situation.
B. TURNER: We are a paycheck-to-paycheck family and the reality o it, so we do depend on that constant income.
KAYE (voice-over): His wife works but that second paycheck, Brian's paycheck, is critical.
R. TURNER: I need to fill up my car with gas today and I went until I have, I think a five-mile range left on my car before I have to really, you know, there's no other option.
KAYE: Brian says he blames both sides for the shutdown and he's frustrated that Congress is still getting paid when he's not. As a TSA worker, he certainly understands the need for security but -- what is more important? The border wall or paycheck?
B. TURNER: A paycheck, absolutely. You know, planes still need to go up and come down. You know, we need airport security. We need customs. We need all these necessary services to keep the government running.
KAYE: And you want to get paid for that.
B. TURNER: Absolutely. Of course.
KAYE: He's tired of watching the Washington blame game play out.
B. TURNER: You feel hopeless and you feel helpless, you know? I'm not in Washington. I don't have the influence that these people of power have. And we rely on them. We elect them to these positions to get a job done, I feel like it should be done in a way where we can still have conversations about border security and keep the government open. When you don't have a paycheck coming in and you don't have a guaranteed source of income when you thought you did, it's disheartening and it kind of makes you feel a little panicked.
KAYE (on camera): Do you have a backup plan?
B. TURNER: Right now I don't have one. And my backup plan is to hope that the two sides can reach across the aisle and come to an agreement.
COOPER: Randi Kaye joins us now. I know you spent this morning with Brian and his family before President Trump's remarks today. I know you called him back to get some reaction.
KAYE: Yes, Anderson. I asked him about what the president said in the Rose Garden late this afternoon. The words that he used "most of those people not getting their money are the biggest fan of what the president is doing." Meaning that those workers who aren't getting paid are in full support of what the president is doing.
In response I asked Brian about that and in response he told me, "I don't know where he's getting this from. As a federal employee who does work to protect the homeland everyday, I'm not a fan of this approach at all." He went on to say to this to the president directly. "Don't speak for most of the 800,000 people who aren't getting money right now. Don't say we're OK with it when we're not." So some pretty strong words coming from this TSA worker who is working and not getting paid.
And Anderson, just very quickly I wanted to get back to what you said at the top of this segment about the TSA workers calling out sick here at Philadelphia International Airport, we looked at the checkpoints, we haven't seen any long lines, it seems like business as usual so it's unclear if that's affecting this airport. We did asked Brian if he plans to call out sick, he said it would only be a last ditch effort to try and save his job. He doesn't have nay plans to call out sick of now, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much. Appreciate them talking to you.
For perspective now from CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, former Trump campaign adviser, Steve Cortes and Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and author of the book "Everything Trump Touches Dies."
Rick, so you have TSA screeners calling out sick because they're not getting paid. I'm going to get that doesn't make you feel better about our national security.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I mean one of the departments is taking the biggest hit of Trump's temper tantrum here, his hissy fit, a stompy foot rage episode is homeland security and so TSA and the guys that are helping to prevent terrorists from boarding our aircraft are right now not being paid and air traffic controllers are not being paid. And, you know, it took a sort of bunch of juggling in the executive branch to get the coast guard paid.
So right now we're seeing the actual impact on the economy and Americans and our safety and security because Donald Trump is a juvenile who is going to have a hissy fit until he gets his precious wall and, you know, this could easily be resolved. He has to step down off the cliff and stop asking for a fantasy wall in order to deal with the reality of the harm he's causing to the economy.
COOPER: Steve? How do you see this? Where do you see it going? How does it get resolved?
STEVE CORTES, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I'm puzzled first that Rick says there's harm to the economy because we just got a jobs report today that was absolutely gang bust.
[21:10:00] WILSON: Steve, that's from five weeks ago.
CORTES: And manufacturing at the highest level in 20 years.
Don't tell me it's from harming the economy.
WILSON: Five weeks ago. Five weeks ago.
CORTES: By the way, Rick, don't pretend you that care about working class --
WILSON: Five weeks ago.
CORTES: -- people because you were on this network weeks, night calling those of us who support the president calling us toothless rubes.
WILSON: Five weeks ago, Steve.
CORTES: Spare me the routine that you care about working class Americans.
WILSON: You know, Steve, all the Trumpian tough guy talk --
CORTES: You condescend to working class.
WILSON: All the tough swagger talk until somebody punches back.
CORTES: You talk down and punch down to working class Americans and mocks.
WILSON: When the shoe fits, I'll shove it on.
CORTES: And you call us toothless and you call us rubes so spare me that you care a lot about working class people. Now I do care about working class people including people who work for the TSA and there are bad stories out there, no doubt about it. And it's really unfortunate and I feel for people like the gentleman you profiled who's worried about paying his bills, that is a real reality.
I will also say this, though. It's temporary pain, it will be rectified at some point and that temporary pain is to prevent permanent pain that millions of Americans have faced because of our open borders or essentially open borders policy. By that I mean dealing with dangerous illegal aliens and competing in the work force with illegal alien workers who have made people lose jobs permanently not temporarily. So, I think that there's -- the near term pain is very unfortunate but it's to prevent long-term pain.
COOPER: Nia, has the president painted himself in a corner? Because even Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of the president has said that if the president gives in on wall funding it's probably the end of his presidency.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, in many ways Lindsey Graham is sport of holding the paint brush there for the president painting the president into a corner. You have people like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh do the same thing for this president. He of course was ready to compromise on this and settle without getting any funding for the wall and then there was a lot of caterwauling from the conservative chattering class and so he essentially buckled to that contingent.
It's hard to know how he gets out of this at this point, right? I mean he's throwing all sorts of scenarios at the wall here saying on the one hand, well, Mexico actually really is going to pay for it through USMCA which doesn't make any sense. He also said oh, maybe there's some sort of a slush fund he can figure out with the U.S. military and they can pay for the wall.
He also is suggesting that the wall is already being built, also not true, of course, kind of repairs going on the existing fence so it's really hard to know how he gets out of this without seeming to fold. His supporters are by and large very supportive of him. They're emotionally attached to this president.
And so in many ways I think he probably could sell what -- in reality would be a folding by him. He could probably sell it to his supports as a win because that's certainly what they want to see. So we'll have to see. There's obviously a meeting tomorrow. There'll be more movement on this. I think we're going to hear more stories from folks like that TSA man who. You know, you talk about this idea of temporary pain, when you have to pay your mortgage, when you got to fill your tank with gas to get your-to-your job, that doesn't feel temporary. It feels immediate. And for somebody like that it could have long- term consequences so I think we'll get more stories like that and it's not just in Washington, right, it's all over this country.
COOPER: Rick, it's interesting, though, you know, the president three weeks ago in front of Chuck Schumer when he calls in cameras for that, you know, that big face-to-face with Nancy Pelosi said, you know, when he got riled up and said he would take the mantle of, you know, being a Trump shutdown. Today, I mean, that seems like, you know, he's done a 180 on that, he was like maybe it's a Schumer shutdown, it's a Pelosi shutdown, he call it Trump shutdown, but the words don't really matter.
WILSON: I think Donald Trump is demonstrating something that a lot of people in the real estate business know, the guy is actually not that good at negotiating. He's actually not that good of a deal maker. And the image on TV from "The Apprentice" is not the actual Donald Trump. I know some guys that did a real estate in Florida and they pans to the guy. They took him to the cleaners.
And so what you're seeing here is a guy a who suddenly realizing that most of the polling says the public blames either Donald Trump or the Republican Party or both for the majority of this, almost two-thirds of the public blame him whether GOP for this, and it's not turning out the way he thought it would turn out. And so what you're going to see is a continued grind on the sky and no matter how many times he calls it the Schumer shutdown or the Pelosi shutdown. When they're putting out legislation, when they're putting out proposals and counterproposals to his wall idea, when they say, look, we can turn the lights back on tomorrow, all you have to do is walk away from something that is a fantasy that begin with, that is always been a rhetorical trope and not an actual security policy, then, you know, the political pain will continue build on Trump and the Republicans.
You've already seen a lot of guys in the Senate. I spoke to a Senate chief of staff today who was beside himself because they're up in 2020 and they're very worried right now that, you know, this is start to impact people at the state level and they're blaming Donald Trump for it.
[21:15:11] COOPER: Steve, I mean, there was a deal with -- I mean Congress had voted on this, that they, you know, had a plan to continue funding and then the president backed out. So, how can it be anything but his shutdown?
CORTES: Right. Well, listen, and I'm glad the president did if, in fact, he was willing to make that deal. I mean we don't know that, that wasn't on the record but if the reporting is correct I think it's good that he did. I think he was very much reminded by a lot of people like me, people who worked for him so ardently in 2016 that this was the foundational promise of his campaign. He has been a promise keeping president since the day he got elected but this is one really, really important promise that he needs to keep.
And since that time by the way, CNN reporting tells us that he has offered a compromise. More than I would like, quite frankly, that he cut his $5 billion number in half in negotiations with the Hill and their response, nothing, you get zero for the wall. So, that's not compromise. Compromise isn't saying we get everything we want and you get nothing you want, and that you're elected to do. Again, he wasn't subtle about this. This was the -- the foundational pillar of his candidacy --
HENDERSON: But Mexico will pay for it. It was a free wall. It wasn't a wall that Americans would pay for it. It was a wall that would be free. That's a great idea. It's just not what he's following through on.
CORTES: It still very much can be, there's a lot of easy ways to do that. The easiest of all is to tax remittances which are many billion of dollars a year --
COOPER: But he's not talking about that. He's pretending Mexico is already paying for the new trade deal which going to --
HENDERSON: Which haven't even been finalized.
COOPER: Anyway, we go to take a break. We'll continue this discussion. We just got a break in and we'll also talk about something else that report came up in today's shutdown meeting at the White House (INAUDIBLE) profanity. Later the Robert Mueller grand jury gets renewed, I don't forget this, another season. A look at what that could mean.
[21:20:12] COOPER: President Trump talked about the shutdown today since he got the support of government workers either furloughed or working without pay. He says landlords won't mind if they don't get the rent. He's reportedly said he doesn't even like calling the shutdown a shutdown. According to new reporting, the Wall Street Journal tonight, he told lawmakers at the White House today he prefers calling it a strike.
The "Journal" and CNN reporting he opened the meeting with a 15-minute profanity-laced rant not about the shutdown but impeachment. I'm back now with our guest.
Steve, you said the foundational basis of why this wall is important is foundational basis of the campaign but part of that foundational base is was that Mexico is going to pay for the wall and that just not happening so that foundation has already crumbled, no?
CORTES: Well, I wish the president would talk about it more but as I said there are easy ways to recoup the money from Mexico. I think the easiest being taxing remittances. So Mexico should ultimately pay for the wall. But the thing is we need it so immediately. We can't wait to negotiate with the Mexicans. They're not going to willingly hand us a check and put in the memo "the wall." That's not going to happen. But over time I think we actually can get that and pay for it.
COOPER: These numbers are pretty record lows. So what is the needs more immediate now than ever before?
CORTES: Because of what's going on -- it's primarily not Mexicans, by the way, it's Central Americans who are continually attacking our border. All we need to do is look at the caravan --
COOPER: They're not attacking --
CORTES: The caravan happened on New Year's Day.
COOPER: Right. They're not attacking the border and also numbers are --
CORTES: Well, when you storm a border and throw rocks at our law enforcement officers, I call that an attack. When you not lawfully allow to enter and you try to break and enter and trespass into the United States, when you hurl rocks at law enforcement authorities who have to defend themselves with tear gas and thankfully have done so really responsibly and professionally so far I call that an attack. And by the way, who cares what I think about the wall? The border protection people tell us we need the wall. The actual front line cops who are guarding America, who are guarding the front door of America --
COOPER: Those are union officials.
CORTES: The majority are Hispanic, by the way.
COOPER: Right. Those are union officials.
CORTES: Yes. But no, they also polled their members and the polled members 89 percent said they want a wall. So this isn't just, you know, this is not just Trump's idea and this is not some shiny object he wants to build, the on-the-ground cops there tell us that they need it and want it. We should give it to them.
COOPER: So Rick, the idea of the wall, though, according to -- I can't remember what book is it was from was basically a way for -- for candidate Trump to remember to talk about immigration. It was an idea brought up, I think if I'm remembering, by Bannon.
WILSON: He's not a tremendously informed guy and so the wall became an easy shorthand but, you know, history is repeat with examples of walls working out brilliantly. Maybe we should built it. You know, the Maginot line stopped the Germans from invading France for a whole half hour. Hadrian's wall stopped invasion if Roman Britain.
The Great Wall of China stopped the invitation -- oh wait, no none of them did. Walls failed. Walls are not a functional means of defense in the world. You know why the U.S. Military doesn't build walls? Because we recognized years ago that any time you build a wall around yourself you're inviting attacks, you're inviting subversion, you're inviting something to go around or under or through or over.
And so the idea of a physical wall, Donald Trump loves selling this to his base and, again, these are people who are not sophisticated, they are not bright. They do not understand the complexities --
CORTES: OK, here we go again with condescending to us in the Trump --
WILSON: Steve, if the shoe fits wear it.
CORTES: And that's why we want a wall, right, Rick?
WILSON: That is Donald Trump's target audience. He's a con man who works unsophisticated people very successfully.
CORTES: You know what?
WILSON: He's always been --
CORTES: I wear your sword as a badge of honor Rick Wilson.
WILSON: Donald Trump works his con on people who are not sophisticated? And this is something -- CORTES: People like you are why we won in 2016, Rick Wilson. Condescending political elites like you are why we won.
COOPER: The president is going to declare a national --
WILSON: Steve is Mexico paying for the wall? No. Is he building the wall? No. Steve, is there a wall being built? No. Is Mexico paying for it? No. It's a con, it's a lie, it's a scam and it always has been.
COOPER: All right. I think we're going to put in -- I want to thank you all. We're going to continue on. Thanks very much.
So there is more to talk about tonight. We're going to take a short break in just a minute. We're going to take a look more at while the government remains partially shutdown, a big part of the Robert Mueller probe just avoided being shutdown. The close call. There are party (ph) judge step in. More on that next.
[21:28:17] COOPER: The work of Robert Mueller's grand jury is not over but it was about to be. A judge today granted an extension allowing the 23-member panel to continue meeting for as long as six months, otherwise the work would have ended this weekend. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is among dozens of witnesses who already testified in secret. Associates of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone have also been subpoenaed. Stone himself expects to be indicted.
The grand jury's lifeline is adding to the talk about the possibility of the biggest indictment of them all. One again is President Trump. It's a scenario that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls an open discussion. Neal Katyal was acting solicitor general in the Obama White House, he joins us along with Yale law and political science professor, Akhil Amar.
Neal, it certainly seems like with this extension of the grand jury that Mueller's investigation isn't wrapping up at least in the very near future, would you agree?
NEAL KAYTAL, FORMER U.S. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: I do and I've always been saying this. I mean, look, Mueller runs a very tight ship and nobody knows what he knows and that's, you know, by design, it shows this kind of conscientiousness. But the standard for an extension of a grand jury is it has to the judge has to say that it isn't the public interest and these grand jurors have been serving for 18 months so to add on potentially another six months is a big imposition and so there must be some more stuff to come.
COOPER: Akhil, I mean, Giuliani is out there saying it's time for Mueller to put up or shut up. Is there or should there be a time limit on how long an investigation like this can go on for?
AKHIL AMAR, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, YALE UNIVERSITY: As long as it takes to get to the truth.
COOPER: And in terms of any possible prosecution for the president were Mueller to find some kind of malfeasance, Neal was on the program last night saying he believes that a sitting president can in fact be indicted. Do you think he's right?
[21:25:11] AMAR: So even if he were indicted I always hesitate to disagree with my friend, Neal. And I don't think a sitting president could be forced to stand trial against his will so there might be a thing called a tolling of the statute of limitations, basically. So an indictment is filed, it would typically be a state case. The federal cases raise some other issues about who in the Justice Department could make that call. But suppose there were an indictment and the president says, "I actually have other things to do". So, we would suspend the statute of limitations and wait until the president is out of office.
COOPER: Neal, did the framers of the constitution immunize is sitting president from an ordinary of their criminal prosecution?
KATYAL: I mean not absolutely no and also hesitate to disagree with my dear friend Akhil and my teacher Akhil. But I think here there's actually a lot of common ground that is, you know, Akhil is just saying you can't proceed against a criminal trial but you could indict the president. And I think that's important because, you know, there are statutes of limitations and other things that would otherwise kick in and defend the president and immunize them from all potential criminal liability. And so I think the indictment of the very least has to happen.
And then I think the interesting question is this doesn't occur in a vacuum, you know, and their scholars like Akhil who say you can't try a sitting president and those who say the reverse. But here, I think the fundamental question is if Mueller decides that there is information sufficient to indict the president can he do so?
There are three texts that I think are going to illuminate that question. One is what career prosecutors have already found which is they have said Donald Trump committed -- directed the commission a very serious felonies of campaign finance violations. And then two parts of the special counsel regulations come in, 600.7 which says that if Mueller asks the attorney general or the acting attorney general to indict, that the attorney general has got to let that go forward unless it so clearly violates established Justice Department policies that it's unwarranted.
And then 600.9 says if the acting attorney general says that then it triggers a report to Congress. And those provisions taken together I think do not say do not say basically that if Mueller asks, I think the attorney general cannot say no to an indictment of the president because there is no established department policy for these kinds of campaign finance violations.
COOPER: Akhil, do you agree with that?
AMAR: Well, Neal wrote the regulations so a way back when or helped write them. But regulations themselves can be modified I believe. The key thing Neal is saying I think that everyone misunderstands is that at the end of the day the real constitutional prosecutor of the president and the oversight process is really the House of Representatives. And we call a prosecution of a president constitutionally, that's an impeachment -- that's what's the -- that's an impeachment it is a certain kind of prosecution of the president.
But the key there is that decision is made by in effect America's ultimate grand jury, the House of Representatives reflecting all of America not one city. Typical grand jury is going to be co -- coming from one location and we should be very hesitant to let a grand jury in any one location in effect undo a national election.
Every president whether Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative is going to be unpopular in some places and you don't want to let people in just that one place basically take over the presidency and undo a presidential election. But the House of Representatives has a democratic mandate to do just that if necessary because they're the ultimate grand jury, they come from all of America.
COOPER: That's fascinating discussion. Akhil and Neal, thanks you for joining us.
AMAR: Thank you so much.
KATYAL: Thank you.
COOPER: By the way, it's Akhil's father's 90th birthday today so we want to wish him happy birthday.
Now, the Democrats have power back in the House. How far will they go to investigate President Trump? We'll look at that and we'll talk to somebody who sits on the oversight committee next.
[21:37:33] COOPER: With Democrats now in control of the House. They are preparing to serve as a check on President Trump, obviously. One new congresswoman has caused a bit of a storm with her profane prediction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: And when your son looks at you and said, "Mama, look, you won, bullies don't win". And I said, "Baby, they don't because we're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the motherfucker".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, how far do Democrats actually plan to go with their new powers? I spoke with one on the oversight committee a short while ago, Congressman Stephen Lynch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Congressman Lynch, these comments from Congresswoman Tlaib, are they appropriate and are they helpful to Democrats?
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They are certainly not. We hope to give the impression that we're taking a thoughtful approach to the issues in the House of Representatives that type of language unfortunately is -- and I'm an iron worker so I've heard it all but that is certainly inappropriate language to use with respect to anyone certainly to president.
COOPER: And one of the things Speaker Pelosi said that she wouldn't use the language but if it's nothing worse than what the president himself had said. Just in terms of putting the language aside, just talking about impeachment, is that a wise thing for Democrats at this stage or focusing on?
LYNCH: No, I think we should be focusing on the process and wherever the facts lead. This is about the rule of law. And if that is at the end of the road we're at the beginning of the process right now. And so for the past two years during Republican control of the House we had no oversight at all, so we really have to begin, you know, from the very beginning. To start, number one, getting the facts and then holding the administration accountable for whatever we can determine they actually did.
COOPER: So now that your party controls the oversight committee, you're saying you haven't seen enough that you believe an impeachment inquiry is appropriate at this stage? Because I spoke to your colleague Congressman Connolly last night, he suggested that the Michael Cohen filing in the Southern District of New York, is it self enough to potentially impeach the president.
LYNCH: Well, that will be step one. We will certainly -- I talked to Mr. Cummings as well and we think it's very important that we speak with Michael Cohen, that will probably one of our initial full raise into that whole situation.
[21:40:11] There's wider concern about the tampering with the election. You know, we had 14 of our security agencies, intelligence agencies confirm with high probability that the Russians hacked the elections.
So, there's been no meaningful investigation by Congress even though we have that information from the intelligence committees, so we think that's a good place to start. But certainly the fact that Michael Cohen pled guilty, that that case is now out of the way. He's been sentenced and we think he should be brought before Congress and allow us publicly to get to the bottom of this, and where the next steps might lead.
COOPER: And the fact that Mueller's grand jury has now being extended. Do you think Congress should defer to Mueller's timeline before taking any major action itself?
LYNCH: I think we have to be careful. Obviously, we would consult with the Mueller investigation to make sure that we don't do anything that jeopardizes or compromises that investigation. We would have to, you know, give extreme courtesy, but if interviewing Mr. Cohen does not interfere with that, certainly that's something that we're eager to do.
COOPER: It also in terms of the President's close adviser, Jared Kushner, for example, do you want to call him in front of your committee, because Congressman Connolly raised the issue of Kushner's security clearance.
LYNCH: Yes. That's another issue. Security clearances in general have become an issue. So yes, he's a likely, you know, subject of inquiry on the part of the committee, as are the denials of security clearance from some individuals in their capacities with the administration currently. So, we want to look at that as well.
COOPER: Congressman Lynch, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
LYNCH: Thank you.
COOPER: Well ahead, draining the swamp or filling it? More like the latter for President Trump in some cases. He's given all kinds of former industry insider's cabinet-level power. We'll look at that next.
[21:46:96] COOPER: It was a pledge we heard over and over again from President Trump on the 2016 campaign trail, a promise to drain the swamp when he got to Washington. Hasn't exactly followed through on that pledge. In fact, he's stocking up his own cabinet with acting heads who were once corporate executives or industry lobbyists. There's Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is the former President of the pharmaceutical company at Lilly, USA. The acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, state former Boeing executive, acting Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for oil and natural gas industries, and acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal industry lobbyist.
Joining me to talk about this former Obama White House Ethic Czar and Ambassador Norm Eisen, and also former Trump White House Lawyer, Jim Schultz. Ambassador Eisen, is this what a drained swamp looks like?
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, Anderson. This takeover of the Trump Administration by the special interest lobbyists is like the alligators taking over the swamp. This is not what the American people want. They want a government that serves the public interest, not special interests. And in this environment where the Trump administration has watered down the rules, they threw out our Obama- era rule that a lobbyist cannot go work in an agency that they lobbied, for example, it's led to a crisis of confidence.
No wonder you've seen almost 10 million more Americans, the largest number in history, repudiate. I believe this and other malfeasance by the Trump administration in the midterm, a referendum on this special interest runaway riding the revolving door. It is the opposite of swamp draining. COOPER: Jim, I'll ask you the same question. Do you think this is draining the swamp?
JAMES SCHULTZ CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Look, we have -- this administration has appointed very qualified people to these posts. For instance, Secretary -- Acting Secretary Bernhardt. He -- all of these folks go through in OGE process and you know better, Norm, than to say that these folks have conflicts of interest that maybe causing them to not be able to do their jobs. They have ethics agreements that require recusals. They have to go through a stringent process with OGE and OGE with the career folks that review this, take a look at these issues along with the career lawyers in the agencies and these -- and they look at, and they draft ethics agreements to make sure that there's no conflicts of interest that are going to impact any of the day-to-day work of the acting secretaries. It's just ludicrous to say --
COOPER: So, Jim --
SCHULTZ: -- that there are conflicts of interest.
COOPER: So, Jim, you don't think it's problematic that there are multiple acting secretaries overseeing industries that they have deep financial ties to?
SCHULTZ: Look, you have very qualified -- here's what happens, Anderson. When you have a qualified people going into these roles and making decisions on behalf of the American people that are in the interests of the American people, the special interests on the left begin their attacks. And folks like Norm Eisen begin their attacks. That's what's happening here. It's nothing more than that. This is a leftist issue, this is a leftist attack on very qualified people coming into this administration and serving this country.
COOPER: Ambassador Eisen, I mean, there's nothing prohibiting this from happen, is there? There's no law or guideline that says a former lobbyist can't serve as an acting cabinet secretary, right?
EISEN: Well, Anderson, I think there is. No wonder, Jim Schultz abandoned the Trump administration. He had to get out because of cases like the case of Mr. Wheeler, the E -- acting EPA head. He worked on the coal ash rules when he was a coal lobbyist for Murray Energy and he's working on the coal ash rules now in the EPA. And an issue after issues, the same thing. It's the revolving door.
[21:50:09] Mr. Bernhardt who Jim mentions as a poster boy of ethics has to carry a card with him. He has almost two dozen conflicts because of his special interest baggage.
Anderson, it is the opposite of swamp-draining. Our government is being held captive by special interests. This is not a left versus right issue. All Americans, 80 percent Americans name it as one of the top two issues of both parties, Anderson. They don't want a government that works for the special interests, the special interests of the right or the left. They want a government that works for the public interest. This government is not doing it with these former lobbyists running cabinet agency after cabinet agency.
SCHULTZ: The American people elected Donald Trump because the leftist special interests in the Obama administration were dominating. You have well-funded, well-organized groups going on the attack against this administration, against very qualified people who know their industries and know them well, and are working on issues on behalf of the American public and doing it very well. You know what that does? It makes the left very, very nervous.
COOPER: Jim, just in terms of the sheer number of acting secretaries, how difficult does it make it for the administration when it comes to any kind of real movement on a specific policy level?
SCHULTZ: Look, all these folks were deputy secretaries and they were high ranking officials in those agencies when they were appointed the acting job. And they're all highly qualified people taking over those acting roles. And it's going to be incumbent upon Congress to -- the Senate to confirm the nominees once nominated, especially in the instance of the Department of the Interior. So I don't think they'll skip a beat as it relates to the policy issues that are being put forward by this administration, especially in important agencies like interior.
COOPER: All right. Jim Schultz, Ambassador Eisen, thank you.
EISEN: Thanks, Anderson. Thanks Jim.
COOPER: Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of a long week. If dancing politicians are wrong, we don't want to be right. They're ridiculous isn't it?
[21:55:38] COOPER: Time now for, "The Ridiculist." And tonight, we have one of the silliest, non-controversy controversies ever to sully the otherwise consistently optimistic in life affirming space that is twitter.com. That's one anonymous troll whose account, has since been deleted, post a video that was, I suppose meant to, as the kids say, own new U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Here's the video.
So, yes, somebody dug up a video from when Ocasio-Cortez was a college student doing dance moves from the movie, "The Breakfast Club." Speaking as the mayor from "Foot Loose," I -- for one am aghast. But the stars of, The Breakfast Club were impressed. Molly Ringwald tweeted, "That's it, Alexandria. You're in the club." And then Ally Sheedy retweeted it with the praise -- with the praise hands emoji, "I think Ocasio-Cortez should be careful, though, because if I know one thing is that there's no crying in baseball. And if I know two things, the second thing is, there's no dancing in politics, with granted a few exceptions."
Theresa May dance on camera. That is totally different because there were different rules for British Prime Ministers and for American members of Congress apparently, but wait, there actually having a few American politicians who have cut a rug or two in their day. Take, for example, the current Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, former governor, former contestant, a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars."
Yes. He's no Tucker Carlson. He was on an earlier season of "Dancing with the Stars," you may not remember that. No matter who you are, we'd all do well to heed the dire warning of one Gloria Estefan because eventually, the rhythm is going to get you. Say it's Halloween and thriller comes on. What is one supposed to do?
That was then, and here is the current President participating in a traditional male-only ceremonial sword dance in Saudi Arabia.
Reluctantly participating. I'm not sure if Molly Ringwald will have any comment on that one. Yes. Seems to be enjoying it.
Let's say that theoretically you're at the Soul Train Awards and are expected to do the dougie or is it the doogie, as in howser? I suppose, no. It would be dougie. Is anybody going to help me out on that one? Dougie, I'm told. I was right the first time. What do you supposed to do? Not do the dougie? What? Now they're saying go doogie. Which is it? Don't torment me like this, control room. It's dog -- it's --what is it? Anybody? Jerks.
All right. Well, let a take a look at Blitzer doing it, whatever it is.
See? As I said -- a dougie. I'm going with dougie. As I said the controversy was a non-controversy, and Representative Ocasio-Cortez responded to it on Twitter with this, quote, "I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous. Wait 'till they find out congresswomen dance too. Have a great weekend, everyone." And she posted this video to go along with it. Take a look.
COOPER: And with that, let's all just dance right into the weekend and on to, "The Ridiculist." Thanks for watching 360. It's time to turn it over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight" starts right now.