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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Authorities: Woman Carrying Chinese Passports Charged With Illegally Enter President Trump's Mar-a-Lago; President Trump: I'll Close the Border If No Deal With Congress; President Trump Punts on Health Care Until After the 2020 Election; Rep. David Cicilline (D) Rhode Island Is Interviewed About Authorizing Subpoena For The Full Mueller Report Aired on 8-9 ET
Aired April 2, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news, an international intrigue. Federal prosecutors filing charges against a woman who allegedly got into Mar-a-Lago on Saturday. She was equipped, the feds say, like a small electronics store, including four cell phones and a thumb drive with malware on it. Maybe she forgot to do a virus scan. In any case, it's quite a case and quite a story.
Nicholas Nehamas is an investigative reporter for "The Miami Herald". He joins us now.
So, Nick, first of all, who is this who was arrested? How did she get into Mar-a-Lago?
NICHOLAS NEHAMAS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: So, we don't know a whole lot about this woman from China, whose name is Yujing Zhang. She showed up at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday with, as you said, an electronics store in her bag, and said she wanted to attend a United Nations friendship event with China -- between China and the United States. This was first after saying that she had wanted to use the pool.
Her story didn't add up. And she wasn't on any guest list at Mar-a- Lago. So, eventually, she was detained and then interviewed and arrested by the U.S. Secret Service.
COOPER: She's from Taiwan. Is that correct?
NEHAMAS: No, that was actually a mistake in the affidavit.
NEHAMAS: It should have said People's Republic of China. She's a Chinese national from -- at least she was traveling from Shanghai.
COOPER: Can you tell us more about the technological items she was carrying?
NEHAMAS: She had four cell phones, one laptop, one external hard drive, and one thumb drive that according to federal agents was loaded with or contained, quote, malicious malware.
Now, all malware is malicious by its nature, so -- but we don't really know much more about what was on this thumb drive. You know, was she a harmless tourist who happened to get a virus on a thumb drive or was she intending to plant something at the president's private resort? That is unclear.
COOPER: But charges have been filed against her?
NEHAMAS: She has been charged with lying to a federal officer. And that's because of the conflicting stories she told the Secret Service. And also, with entering a restricted area, meaning an area that was secure for the president of the United States. If she had just showed up to Mar-a-Lago when Trump wasn't there, it would be more like a simple trespass charge.
COOPER: So was the president at Mar-a-Lago when all this happened?
NEHAMAS: He was at his nearby golf course in West Palm Beach, although he was staying at Mar-a-Lago that weekend.
COOPER: And again, her motivation, it's not clear. Is that right?
NEHAMAS: It's not clear. At first, she said she wanted to use the pool. Then she said she was there for some kind of U.N. event. And then she was detained.
COOPER: Well, it's fascinating. Obviously, more to come on this. Nick Nehamas, appreciate it.
Our other top story tonight is the president yet again threatening to shut down the border with Mexico, meaning the ports of entry. It was a sudden threat he made days ago.
Despite the severe economic impact it would have and the questionable impact on illegal crossings, he continued to say he is considering it, unless he gets what he wants from Congress and from Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we have to do is Congress has to meet quickly and make a deal. I could do it in 45 minutes. We need to get rid of chain migration. We need to get rid of catch and release and visa lottery. And we have to do something about asylum. And to be honest with you, have to get rid of judges.
And let's see if they can do it, but I want to think it's a short period of time because for years this should have been done, but Mexico is now stopping people coming very easy for them to do, stopping people coming in through Mexico. Let's see if they keep it done, if they keep doing that.
Now, if they don't, or if we don't make a deal with Congress, the border is going to be closed, 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Now, this threat to shut down the border, meaning really the ports of entry, it was a sudden announcement from the president, one of several lately. Also a decision to suspend aid to three Central American countries and his call for health care, which the president has abandoned until after the next election.
Now, we should point out that the president's supporters like the fact that he's shaking things up on issues that have stymied presidents in both parties for decades, and it's certainly understandable that a president whose own election victory confounded the so-called experts might harbor doubts about the expertise of others on any subject and have greater faith in his own. But all that said, the results have yet to vindicate his confidence that he alone can fix things on health care or border policy.
And that's what seems to be behind these snap decisions -- the president's belief that he alone can fix the problem. You'll recall it's a claim he made repeatedly in the 2016 campaign.
[20:05:02] He made it the centerpiece of his acceptance speech at the Republican convention and a staple on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I alone can fix it.
This is so easy.
We're going to fix it.
Who can fix things better than me?
I'll fix it.
I'm the only one who can fix it.
I'm the only one, believe me. I know them all. I'm the only one that knows how to fix it.
I alone can fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He alone can fix it, he said. Right now, apparently because of his faith in that notion, because of the action he took, apparently on his own, we're now talking about shutting down the points of entry on the southern border.
Here's how this latest border decision came about. Thursday morning, Mr. Trump woke up and tweeted this: Mexico is doing nothing to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our country. They're all talk, no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have taken our money for years and do nothing. Dems don't care,such bad laws. May close the southern border.
Now, the next day, he said he would close the border or parts of it next week. He also pulled the plug on a half a billion dollars in aid for those Central American countries where mouth of those migrants are fleeing, both surprise decisions. Neither follow the traditional ways in which major policy is actually made, which again, some supporters of the president would say it's a good thing.
All the same, there are consequences for the entire country. When the president cut off that aid, he did not consider his own Department of Homeland Security secretary had just signed an agreement with those three countries to deepen cooperation on issues driving people to flee north. When the president trying to close the border, he apparently did not reckon with the human and economic impact.
And today with some of the negative consequences looming larger like maybe the entire U.S. auto industry shutting down within a week, according to one industry expert, the president did not back away from his threat. Instead, he raised the stakes, demanding that Congress take action as well and do it now, insisting that he could get the deal done in 45 minutes. Again, the idea he alone can fix it, as long as Congress and Mexico do the heavy lifting. As long as lawmakers change all the things he wants to change and do it all in a couple days.
Keeping him honest, the president has had two years to work with Congress on border issues. He's turned down compromise deals and shut down the government. He went so far as to go beyond suggesting that he alone can fix something and made the rare for him promise that he alone would take responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. Because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As you know, the mantle slid off the president's shoulders within days. While the pain that millions experienced from the shutdown lingered.
And in any case, he alone could not fix it with a government shutdown, nor by declaring a national emergency, nor apparently by threatening to actually shut down the border.
Joining us now from the border, CNN's Martin Savidge who's at the Gateway International Bridge at one of the ports of entry in Brownsville, Texas.
Martin, what is the level of concern there that President Trump will indeed close the border, and again, by close the border, it's really the ports of entry because obviously, places where people are crossing illegally, people will still cross illegally?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It ranges. People are really concerned, all the way up to people are really scared. In fact, there's a rumor going around town and on the Internet that says that the president's already made up his mind and he will close the border at noon tomorrow. Now, as far as we know, there is nothing whatsoever that substantiates that, but still, there are American businessmen I was talking to today that were planning to go across the bridge. They canceled their plans because they were afraid the border was going to close and they would be trapped in Mexico.
COOPER: Can you explain how the border factors into daily life in Brownsville? I mean, is there as much fear there as the president's rhetoric would lead one to expect?
SAVIDGE: I mean, the best way to put it is that the border doesn't factor into ordinary life here. It is ordinary life here. Americans far away may look upon the border as a place to fear. They may listen to the president and think this is a dark and dangerous place that needs to be sealed off.
For people who live right up against the border, it's just part of their daily life. I mean, it's their daily commute. There are, of course, Americans that go across to work jobs in Mexico. There are many Mexicans that come across every morning with the right documentation and do jobs in the United States.
There is a school bus stop right there at the end of the bridge. It picks up American children, American born, at 6:45 every morning and transports them to American schools. And every afternoon, it drops them off there. They walk back across that bridge.
There are people who take Whataburgers across the bridge. There are skateboarders who go across the bridge. There is a bike lane on that bridge. This bridge is just part of their lives.
Take a look at this. You have the border right here and this is Elizabeth Street. It's not Main Street. But there are many, many independent mom and pop businesses that are thriving on this street every single day.
[20:10:08] And 90 percent of their customers are Mexicans, which means if the border closes, those businesses shut down. Not just because they have no customers, because they won't also have any employees because many of their employees also come across and work here. The thing that strikes you most is that this border right here is just so ordinary, Anderson.
COOPER: So, I mean, you talked about that businessman who canceled his meetings for tomorrow. Are you seeing people preparing for a border closing just in case?
SAVIDGE: Yes. I mean, the business is one example, but then on top of that, students. For instance, high school students. There's testing that takes place in Texas next week, Tuesday. Part of how you have to pass to advance.
There are students who are scared they won't make their tests so they're going to live with family members over here at least in the short term so they can make sure they can continue their education. You also see what appear to be people stocking up, buying more goods, buying more groceries because they're almost preparing for a disaster.
Again, the fact people go across that bridge. They'll go for 20 minutes at a time. Maybe they see their mom, go to the dentist, maybe just buy food and come back.
This bridge, this border for everyone here, is just the way their life is. And it could suddenly and abruptly end overnight and quite frankly there's nothing they can do, and that's what scares them most -- Anderson.
COOPER: Martin Savidge, appreciate it, Marty. Thanks very much.
Again, more perspective now from someone who has done a lot of reporting from the border as well as along the route of the Central American caravans, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.
Jorge, the president is saying today that if Congress doesn't fix the problem, he's not ruling out closing the border by next weekend. I mean, does this make any sense to you, the idea that he actually could close the border, and by closing the border, he obviously really means the points of entry?
JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: It doesn't make sense for me, simply a presidential tantrum. Because if he wants to close the border, and that means basically closing the ports of entry, then these thousands of immigrants that are waiting on the Mexican side are going to go through the desert or through the Rio Grande or through the mountains, and then the problem is simply going to increase. So, it really doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
He has to do many different things. At this point, his government is preventing thousands of immigrants from entering the United States legally because he's only processing a few hundred, process applications for political asylum at ports of entry, so it doesn't make any sense whatsoever to close the border right now.
COOPER: What is so strange about or I guess it should be just normal by now, but the president's statements that, about cutting off aid to Guatemala, to El Salvador, to Honduras, what is so interesting is it's the complete opposite of what his own administration officials, what Secretary Nielsen, has been focusing on, which is or one of the things she's been focusing on, which is trying to improve connections between the United States and those countries, and improve programs that will stop people from actually being motivated to leave.
She had just signed this accord on Wednesday. The press release went out on Thursday. Talk came out that we're stronger together, and then on Friday, the president basically cuts her off at the knees.
RAMOS: And he doesn't make any sense because the worst president from can do if he wants to prevent more immigrants from coming to the United States, it would be to stop financial aid to Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. For the last few years, they have been receiving about from $700 million to $600 million every single we're. Then you might think, well, maybe the money is just going to some people's pockets.
That's not the case because most of the money is going to NGOs, to organizations that are trying to prevent crime, And to promote economic development. So if he wants to prevent immigrants from coming to the United States, what we have to do is just to invest more in Central America, not now, not in a few years, but in a few decades to prevent this from happening in 2020 or 2030 or 2040.
COOPER: Some of the president's supporters say, well, look, if those programs are so successful, and they have been going on a while now, how come there's now this surge of people trying to get across?
RAMOS: Well, I tell you, I have seen some of the numbers, and crime has diminished a little bit in some of those nations. But the truth is that, Anderson, nobody can stop that. Nobody really can stop that.
Just a few months ago, I went to the border between Guatemala and Mexico. You just pay $1 to cross from Guatemala to Mexico. And then we have to also understand that the borders between Central American countries and between Guatemala and Mexico are basically open. You can cross and no one is going to stop you.
And Central American countries and Mexico, they are not immigration police of Donald Trump. So, if these immigrants want to come to the United States, it is very difficult to stop them at the border. And it doesn't matter how much money the U.S. investing or what the government really wants to do. They simply don't have the power to stop that from becoming a reality.
We have to understand here in the United States that yes, we are getting every single year about a million legal immigrants, but also, for the last few decades, we have been getting from 300,000 to about a million unwanted immigrants and the U.S. economy has been absorbing them, and it seems we have to realize that the only way to deal with this is with in a legal way. In other words, to understand that legally, they're going to keep them coming, and there's really nothing we can do to stop that.
COOPER: I talked to Secretary Jeh Johnson who was head of DHS in the former administration for a while. He was saying that, look, in 2014, there was a big increase in numbers of people. One of the things they did is work with Mexico to strengthen the southern border, Mexico's southern border, to stop some people coming across.
If that's the case, some might argue, well, look, the president threatening to shut down the border is a message to Mexico that they have to get tougher on their southern border. If they did it back in 2014, I guess the argument would be, why can't they do it now?
RAMOS: Well, because they have a new president. The new president is Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador. He has been in power a little more than 100 days, and he has a completely different policy from Enrique Pena Nieto.
What Lopez-Obrador has been doing lately is give humanitarian visas to those Central Americans who cannot cross into the United States, because many of them are simply not allowed. It's taken a very long time for them to process political asylum. So, Lopez-Obrador is giving them legal paper to stay in Mexico, and this is completely different.
So we have restrictions on the American side. We have new visas from the Mexican president. We have a crisis in Central America. And we have a U.S. economy that even today, Anderson, that even today is observing and accepting all these immigrants legally and illegally.
COOPER: Jorge Ramos, appreciate your time. Thank you.
RAMOS: Thank you.
COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight, including just ahead, the president's decision to back away from a surprise effort he launched just last week to entirely replace Obamacare. It concerned many in his own party, and we'll talk about the fallout. We're keeping them honest. There's now been a reversal.
And later, fireworks on Capitol Hill. More than two dozen staffers getting security clearances when it was advised that they shouldn't. We'll talk with one lawmaker who had a front row seat to the drama.
[20:22:06] COOPER: Part two now of "I alone can fix it", call it the health care edition this time. As with the border issue he's talked about, the president is taking a seemingly unilateral approach. As we're seeing with the border issue, that kind of action doesn't seem to be working so well. And with the border issue, the president's go it alone actions on health care have triggered resistance within his own party.
You'll recall a week ago Monday, the administration suddenly and unexpectedly reversed itself on a federal court case, basically arguing the entire Affordable Care Act should be tossed out. As the shockwave spread, especially among Republicans who got clobbered on health care in the 2018 midterms, the president boldly claimed GOP lawmakers were working on replacement legislation that in his words would be really spectacular. In fact, what Republicans were doing for the most part is figuring out why the president decided to reopen this can of worms at all.
What they were also reportedly doing was calling the president, asking him to back down which he did today. However, even as he did that, he was still making these same empty promises about coming up with an Obamacare replacement that people would love.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, on health care, why are you pushing a vote on a health care replacement until after the 2020 election?
TRUMP: Because I think we're going to have a great health care package. I think the Republican Party will become the party of health care. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sounds really familiar. He said that he will have a great Obamacare replacement after the election. Keeping him honest, just last week, his vice president and chief of staff said, quote, the president will be putting forward plans this year. The White House later said he was getting ahead of the official policy.
But just a day later, the president himself suggested he asked a number of Republican senators to work on a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. However, at no time, no suggest group actually appeared to exist. Multiple Republican senators said they weren't part of a working group, although they had spoken to the president about health care recently.
The bottom line, the president appeared to be suggesting some Obamacare replacement was close at hand. Well, keeping him honest, it wasn't, and by kicking the issue until after the election immediately makes this a huge campaign issue he'll be asked about, no doubt, asked to provide details, which he was asked about during the last campaign, and then like now, there were no details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody is going to be taken care of, much better than they are taking care of now.
We need health care for our people. We need a good -- Obamacare is a disaster.
We're going to repeal Obamacare. We're going to replace Obamacare with something so much better. And there are so many examples of it.
INTERVIEWER: Who pays for it?
TRUMP: The government is going to pay for it, but we're going to save so much on the other side.
INTERVIEWER: Every American should get health care, is that your position?
TRUMP: We're going to have great plans. They're going to be much less expensive and they're going to be much great, because the Obama plan is unaffordable and it's a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. Well, it's been two years. Not so big on details still.
Keeping him honest, whatever you think of Obamacare, the Republican replacement plan that ultimate emerged was a far cry from the better, cheaper, more comprehensive plan the president was promising.
[20:25:06] Failed, of course, in Congress, and Republicans have been reluctant to take it up again, which is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others have asked the president to back away from it now. However, that's not the reason the president gave today for delaying action on it, and as you'll hear, he again said he had a plan ready to roll out, although there's no evidence that he actually does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, I wanted to delay it myself. I want to put it after the election because we don't have the House, so even though the health care is good, really good, much better than when the plan comes out, which we'll be showing you at the appropriate time, it's much better than Obamacare. So, when the plan comes out, you'll see it.
It's possible the Democrats would want to do it. I mean, it's much better for the people, but I'm assuming they won't because the Democrats never do anything that necessarily is going to be anything other than political.
So what happens is we'll go through the election. We have a very good chance at retaking the House, and we have a very good chance of keeping the Senate. And I think we will keep the senate. And I think we're going to keep the presidency, and we'll vote in the best health care package we have ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So basically, what he just said is that the Republicans that he has a double secret health care plan that's way better than anything you have ever seen, and certainly better than the current system. But this is not the time to talk about the details or even reveal any of it until after the election.
That's what makes the most sense. Don't talk about it now. Don't reveal it now. Because it's so good, what, someone's going to steal it? Or that just doesn't logically make sense. Why, if you have a plan, and it's really good, why not at least discuss it, put it out there?
Anyway, joining us now, former Ohio Republican governor and congressman, John Kasich, who is now a CNN senior political commentator. Also, former Utah Republican Congresswoman Mia Love.
Governor Kasich, does it make sense that the president would claim to have a plan but it's not going to be talked about, no details until after the election?
JOHN KASICH (R), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Well, there is no plan, Anderson. And look, let me say this about Obamacare. You know, we have divided in our country on both sides. Either you love it or you hate it. You either want to keep it the way it is or you want to get rid of it.
Anderson, there are ways in which you can improve not only Obamacare but also our entire health care system. With more market oriented care, I have heard this from Republicans and Democrats together, making sure people don't lose coverage if they have pre-existing conditions, and an ability to have more transparency across everything, including pharmaceuticals. But this is very, very complicated.
I have been engaged in health care as the governor of the state, and post that time, I spent so much time on this issue. It is very, very complicated and challenging. And that is why they really have not had a significant plan. And I would love them to do that, but I don't think it's going to be forthcoming because when you move one thing, you affect another.
The last thing I want to say, Anderson, about this. When people hear about Obamacare, if you happen to not like it or whatever, I just want you not to be reacting to a slogan. I want you to think about the fact that if all of a sudden, 20 million Americans lose their health care, you got to think that you hope that will never be your family, your brother, your sister, your children. It's a very serious matter. People have to have access to health care.
COOPER: I mean, Congresswoman Love, it is kind of extraordinary that we went through this entire election in 2016, in which the president was always saying, you know, we're going to replace it, and instantly there's going to be this other system and it's going to be better and there's not going to be a time lapse, almost instantaneous. And here we are all this time later and he's essentially still making the same hollow promise that he has a plan but he just wants -- I mean, I guess people will believe him because they want to believe him. But again, it was a hollow promise back then. It's a hollow promise now.
He's using the same deceptive thing of oh, yes, I have it. I'm just not going to show it to you now. It doesn't make any sense.
MIA LOVE (R), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN - UTAH: I still bear the scars of going through the entire health care process, getting that through the House of Representatives, just to have it fail in the Senate.
I can tell you, and I'm sure that Governor Kasich can also tell you, that this is not, the reason why it's so incredibly complicated is this is not something where you can find a silver bullet that is actually going to work on the federal side. You have got to get local government engaged and get their ideas. I know from being a mayor that the best solutions are found at the most local level.
And so, whatever plan he has, I think it's important to actually share that with the American people, share that with the states. Let people know what's going to happen. I'm sure he's afraid it's going to be scrutinized.
COOPER: Do you believe he actually has a plan?
LOVE: I don't know. But if he does, he should let people know. I'll tell you what. There are people that are in the House of Representatives that are looking for something to fight for. They want to be able to go out and say, "Look, we're going to either support this part of the plan or reject this part of the plan." At least people can get engaged. One thing you cannot do is look to the White House or look to federal government to solve all of these problems.
COOPER: Right. But you have said more --
LOVE: And either things that are going -- you're going to have to get people engaged.
COOPER: But you've just given more detail than he has ever given. I mean, he talked about market solutions and it's going to be across state lines and it's going to be -- pre-existing conditions are still going to be covered. But, again, logically, if you have a plan, you would put it out there because plans get better as they get discussed and people, you know, point out things.
COOPER: I mean, Governor Kasich, you're convinced he does not have a plan.
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think he has a plan, Anderson. And look, what we ought to be doing now is -- we're not going to solve this problem between now and the election, because the Democrats are going to use this as a very potent issue.
KASICH: And the Republicans are going to try to look for something where they can hang their hats. I don't know how this is all going to work out. But what we need to be doing is spend our time trying to figure out responsible people in both parties, in the House and the Senate, and sit down because Obamacare is just one piece of the American health care system.
Most people in America are either covered by Medicare or they're covered by their employer. And Obamacare was there to design to try to give people coverage who didn't have coverage in many cases. So the answer to Obamacare is not just that, it's the whole health care system.
KASICH: And everybody that's watching us tonight says, "I'm getting less health care and it's costing me more." Is there a way to fix this? Today, I was with a former -- a number of former HHS on both sides, Mike Leavitt, a Republican, Mrs. Sebelius who was under Bill Clinton, and we talked about this today, and Sylvia Burwell under President Obama. There's great agreement among the architects as to what we need to do to fix the whole system.
And I've got message for people, they all believe that if you can make the market function in a way where you get better quality at lower prices, that's the ticket. It just can't be done as Mia just said, with one silver bullet the whole system needs to be looked at, Anderson. And we can do it.
COOPER: Governor Kasich, I appreciate it. Congresswoman Love, thank you very much. COOPER: Coming up next, breaking news, an ex-White House official whose job was approving White House security clearances was served with the subpoena tonight. The House Oversight Committee authorized the subpoena after whistleblowers said 25 people, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, got clearances in spite of disqualifying issues. The real action happened before the committee vote. We'll show you that, next.
[20:36:12] COOPER: Carl Kline, the man formerly in charge of approving security clearances at the White House was served with the subpoena tonight. The House Oversight Committee voted to approve this drastic move after interviewing another White House employee, a whistleblower, who said that senior officials ignored national security concerns to approve security clearances for 25 people. On that list, the President's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The committee vote on the subpoena came down on party lines and after some very heated debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: This lady was scared. You hear me? She's scared. She's small in stature and she is already seen what is going on in the White House. She was scared to death. And she was afraid, sadly, of our Republican colleagues.
REP. JIM JORDAN (D), RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: First a Saturday deposition, then yesterday a press release after talking to just one witness where you hand-pick a few parts of her testimony and now today. Now today, we're going to subpoena a guy who just sent us a letter saying he's willing to come here voluntarily. I've been on this committee 10 years. I've never seen anything like this.
CUMMINGS: Oh, please.
JORDAN: Never seen anything like this. I haven't.
CUMMINGS: Yes, you've done it.
JORDAN: I haven't. I tell you what else I've never seen. I tell you what else I've never seen it.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Folks are suggesting that we are conducting foreign relations with folks with security clearances via WhatsApp. I mean, every day that we go on without getting to the bottom of this matter is a day that we are putting hundreds, if not potentially thousands of Americans at risk.
I mean, really, what is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs? This is ridiculous. We need to get to the bottom of this. And in order to do that, we have to issue subpoenas because people in this administration are not cooperating.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, Congresswoman Katie Hill is vice chair of the Oversight Committee. I spoke to her earlier about the vote and the moments leading up to it.
COOPER: Congresswoman Hill, you heard Chairman Cummings and Congressman Jordan today, obviously a lot of -- a partisan tension over this whistleblower's claim about security clearances, what comes next. I'm wondering what your reaction is to the Republicans' pushback.
REP. KATIE HILL (D), VICE CHAIR, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I had kind of a bifurcated reaction. First was that, "Oh, my god, why are they doing this," because it's so obvious to me. I mean, we you protect whistleblowers in these -- there are six reasons why people get denied security clearances. They are egregious. And we have people who have been overridden, clearly for political reasons, so why would you even be pushing back against this?
But then as further the proceedings went on, the more that I was convinced that they weren't really pushing back that hard, because they just kept using the one single argument over and over again. And I thought that that was a particularly interesting note. So it could have -- I guess that they could have tried a lot harder. So, we were ready with counterarguments to a variety of different points and they just didn't have them.
COOPER: I mean, Congressman Jordan says the investigation is an excuse to go fishing through the personnel files of dedicated public servants. He says that Chairman Cummings essentially cherry picked excerpts from the whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, and the Democrats are acting in bad faith using this whole issue of security clearances as a way to go after the President.
HILL: I mean it's just not true. Like we have a situation where in my district alone, we've got literally hundreds of people who are waiting for their security clearances because we have really critical -- mission critical efforts to build and work on aerospace projects that are critical to our defense. And they can't get security clearances for over a year.
It's having a huge impact on our workforce, but instead we have people that the President wants in his -- on his team, the civil servants, the career civil servants are saying these people should not have security clearances and are overridden by the Trump, you know, administration.
[20:40:08] COOPER: It is the right of the President, however, to do that. I mean, within his authority, yes?
HILL: Yes. I mean, it's within his authority, but it's incredibly problematic. And when we have a whistleblower coming forward saying that, "It is so bad that I have to do this because I believe that this is the only way I can protect my country," then we have to act on it. That's our job. It's our job to say, "OK, what is -- what exactly was going on? Why did you feel the need to -- why did the civil servants, why did the career staff decide that they couldn't recommend a security clearance for these people? What is it that was so egregious that they couldn't recommend a clearance, and why was it overridden? What was the justification that happened there?" I think that's within our rights to know as Americans who are depending on this for our security.
COOPER: Why do you feel the need to authorize a subpoena for Carl Kline who is a former White House official with authority over the security clearances? Mr. Kline apparently said yesterday that he would appear voluntarily.
HILL: So what he said that he would voluntarily appear for, by the way, which was after months and months of him not responding or refusing, was that he would come and testify only explicitly on the policies and procedures of, you know, how this process went through.
Now, I'm somebody who performed the audits in my last job. And you know, before I came to enter into the world of politics and -- policies and procedures are meaningless if they're not adhered to. And there are also things that can be written retroactively, there are things that frankly should not justify or do not determine whether or not the security clearances were issued in a way that is going to uphold our national security.
So, because he has his own lawyer, because he has somebody who is telling him in his best interest how to -- you know, what exactly he should be answering, if he comes in voluntarily, he's only going to answer on these specific topics. He's not going to answer this, you know, answer as far as the direct claims that the whistleblower made against him and against how all of this went down. So, we need him to be able to answer those.
COOPER: Congresswoman Hill, thank you so much.
HILL: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Well, more on subpoenas, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are poised to authorize one to obtain the full Mueller report. The question is, if that in fact happens, what are the next steps and what will the White House have to say, that's next.
[20:46:03] COOPER: The House Judiciary Committee will vote tomorrow to authorize a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report. As of now, however, there's no timetable for the serving of an actual subpoena. This is President Trump once again today both defended his actions and said Democrats wouldn't be satisfied no matter what's released.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they do vote out the authority for subpoenas, will the White House fight those?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's ridiculous. We went through two years of the Mueller investigation. So there's no collusion. The attorney general now and the deputy attorney general ruled no obstruction. They said no obstruction. And so there's no collusion. There's no obstruction, and now we're going to start this process all over again. I think it's a disgrace.
We could give them -- it's a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn't be enough. They'll always come back and say it's not enough, it's not enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For the record, of course, the summary released by Attorney General Barr 10 days ago did not clear the President of obstruction charges. Joining me now is Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, I mean, does the President have a point, though, that -- I mean, will congressional Democrats ever be satisfied no matter how many documents are subpoenaed, no matter how many hearings are held?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: No, the President doesn't have a point. Look, this is a very simple proposition. There was an investigation conducted on behalf of the American people. It took 22 months. Democrats fought hard to protect Mr. Mueller so he could complete that investigation. It was caused by an attack by a foreign adversary on our democracy.
This was done on behalf of the American people. They have a right to know the truth, to know the results of this investigation, and we're asking simply that the report and all the supporting materials be furnished to Congress.
That's exactly what happened in the Starr report. It was a 455-page report, 17 boxes of documents. Both of those things, the documents and the report, was delivered to the Judiciary Committee unredacted as soon as it was completed. The same process should be followed here.
COOPER: So all the underlying documents of the Starr report were also presented? Because, I mean, I understand the desire to have the full report with obviously I guess some redactions based on national security or perhaps grand jury testimony. Is that OK for you, if it was -- if there are some redactions?
CICILLINE: No. I think, look, we've been very clear about this. The members of the Judiciary Committee have a right to see the report in its entirety in an unredacted form. We see classified material all the time. We can do it in a classified setting. We're required to keep that confidential or face criminal prosecution.
So we have the ability to see classified information. The report ought to be furnished in its entirety and then we can engage in a conversation about what needs to be redacted before it can be published or made available to the public. But there is no reason to redact information and keep things secret from the Judiciary Committee.
We are the committee that has responsibility to determine whether or not there was any wrongdoing, not the attorney general. We are entitled to the full contents of that report, and all the supporting material. That's exactly what happened in the Starr investigation. That same day they delivered the report, a 455-page document and 17 boxes of evidence, we ought to follow the same practice here.
COOPER: So, do you have confidence in Attorney General Barr in terms of what he is going to do? Because he has said -- the Justice Department has said basically that they're going to redact four types of information, grand jury material, sensitive intelligence material, anything that involves an ongoing investigation or information that would "unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputation or interests of peripheral third parties." It sounds like you don't have confidence in what Barr is going to do.
CICILLINE: Well, the attorney general has taken a number of steps that I think it cause us to have a lot of concern about his conduct in -- with respect to this report. The first thing he did was he did that 17-page memo where he essentially audition for the job and argued no President could be charged with obstruction of justice because he or she is in charge of the Justice Department.
Clearly wrong, but he made that argument and caught the President's attention. He made him the attorney genera and he delivered on that promise when he found in just a short number of days that no obstruction occurred, even though Mr. Mueller said he did not exonerate the President of obstruction of justice.
[20:50:09] Now, Mr. Barr in his letter back to the Judiciary Committee saying, "Oh, here's four categories of things that I'm going to keep secret from you," one of them is particularly alarming, that is a stuff that might be embarrassing to the reputation of peripheral person. Who is that and who will decide that?
And so, you know, there's no standard for that. So he probably is going to try to keep secret, a damning evidence that may have been generated in connection with some other individuals that he's determined are peripheral. There's no precedent for that. There's no regulation for that.
Mr. Barr is not allowed to make it up as he goes along and keep things from the Judiciary Committee that might be embarrassing to the President. The American people have the right to know the full truth and need to see the full contents of this report.
COOPER: Yes. I assume the infringe on a personal privacy and reputation or interest of peripheral third parties, I mean, that is pretty open ended -- I mean, that could be the President if that's --
CICILLINE: It could be the President's children. It could be members of the administration. I mean, there is no such exemption. He sort of just made that one up that, you know, in this very important investigation which has tremendous interest from the American people, they have a compelling interest to know the facts and to see this work (ph).
He's now making up additional reasons to keep parts of it secret. This is not something the Judiciary Committee is going to accept that's why we're authoring the chairman to issue a subpoena tomorrow for the report in its entirety and all the supporting materials.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, appreciate talking to you. We'll continue to follow it. Thank you.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
COOPER: Helping me sort through this now, CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Tobin. I mean, the argument he makes is we don't have to release the entire Mueller report unredacted to the American people, but at least those people on the committee should be able to see it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, that has been the rule historically. I mean, the Starr parallel is not perfect because Starr was an independent counsel.
TOOBIN: He was not a special counsel. He was not at all under the supervision of the Justice Department.
COOPER: Right, which special counsel is.
TOOBIN: Right. And, you know, so the law does very specifically give Barr the authority to sensor, to redact the report. But the question obviously that everyone wants to know the answer to is how much will he actually do. And the Democrats clearly are just loaded for bear. They want to issue a subpoena even before Barr has made those decisions. You know, it may be worth waiting until he's actually, you know, decided how much to release, but you can just see how much suspicion there.
COOPER: Also the underlying documents, I know it was done I think in the Hillary Clinton investigation, but that -- I mean, that is -- that's another step beyond just the report itself.
TOOBIN: I mean, what was very unusual about what the Justice Department turned over to the investigating committees about Benghazi was that there was a lot -- and about the Hillary Clinton's e-mails, a lot of underlying investigative material by the Justice Department which they rarely, rarely give up.
They did give up in those circumstances and Democrats are now trying to, you know, site that precedent. You know, I doubt Barr is going to give that up. The real fight, at least initially, is going to be about the report itself.
COOPER: What do you make of the, you know, the President's argument that, look, this is all political that the Democrats are not going to -- no matter what they do, its never going to be enough.
TOOBIN: Well, that maybe -- this is a political matter, but the immediate issue is the Mueller report. And the Mueller report is something of enormous national importance. It's something that -- you know, 420 members of the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, called for its release. The four categories that you read really give Barr an enormous freedom to sensor an enormous amount of that.
COOPER: Right. Originally people were saying, OK, you know, grand jury testimony.
TOOBIN: Classified information.
COOPER: Right. But now it's --
TOOBIN: But, you know, this business about like third parties, that's just made up from whole cloth and you can see why Democrats are suspicious.
COOPER: All right. Jeff, thanks very much.
Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I agree with Jeff. I mean, politically it's a leverage play. You know, this isn't a legal issue so much at this point about getting disclosures. The subpoenas are going to be an extension of the administrative body there, right, the congressional committee, but it's a leverage play.
And if you don't give the American people stuff to read and process, I don't know how the President thinks he keeps the leverage. You know, he should want things to come out, especially if he believes it completely exonerates him. I know that that's this President's pension for hyperbole. But if you don't give him the information, you're giving them the (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: You're giving them the stick to use against you. That's what I don't understand about the play here and this is politics.
COOPER: It certainly is.
CUOMO: So, anyway, we're going to be looking tonight at this crazy thing that happened at Mar-a-Lago.
COOPER: Yes, it's weird.
CUOMO: Who was this lady? I mean, Chinese national. Is it relevant that she's a Chinese national?
[20:55:03] We have Mike Rogers on tonight. I just got lucky having him on tonight. He's the perfect guest to talk to about this, you know. I mean, is it relevant that she's a Chinese a national?
COOPER: Right. Well, I mean, look, how Chinese spying efforts in the United States are huge. CUOMO: Yes.
COOPER: We don't know if she's in anyway like that.
CUOMO: But would the President's pal, Xi, send a spy to his house? It's an intriguing question. So we will take it up. And then we have a Republican here who wants to make a case to the audience that closing the border is the right way to go.
COOPER: All right. We'll be watching. Chris, thanks very much. See you in a few minutes.
Up next, the President's latest dubious claim about a fund -- at a fund-raiser tonight.
COOPER: Well, as we showed you at the top of the program, the President earlier today offered a string of none entirely factual statements and -- actually, one entirely unfactual, one about his father being born in Germany, which he wasn't.
Well, he continued tonight at a Republican Party function saying Republicans should be, "more paranoid about vote counts." He made his remarks at a party function in Washington tonight telling the crowd, and I'm quoting again, "I don't like the way the votes are being tallied. I don't like it and you don't like it either."