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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
New Russia Revelations Stoke Controversy; Trump Slams Schumer, Pelosi for "Ties to Russia"; Interview with Carter Page. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 03, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us tonight.
New revelations about previously undisclosed contact between Russia and Trump associates. Recently, President Trump is back at Mar-a-Lago tonight, called Russia a ruse, and when asked if such contact had taken place during the campaign said, quote, "I have nothing to do with Russia" and, quote, "no person that I deal with does."
That said, the stories keep coming about aides, former advisers, his attorney general, even his son-in-law, talking with Russia's ambassador, even during or after the campaign -- which in and of itself is neither uncommon or improper. It's the denial, the nondisclosure and all the rest that are raising questions and driving a whole new string of investigations.
In a moment, former Trump aide Carter Page, who first denied and now admitted to meeting with Moscow's man in Washington will clarify exactly what that was about.
First, the very latest on all it from CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: When then candidate Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy speech in Washington last April, Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak was in the audience, listening in as the real estate tycoon called for better relations with the Kremlin.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible.
ACOSTA: Three months later, Trump's national security adviser say they met with the Russian ambassador in Cleveland, during the Republican convention. Former campaign adviser J.D. Gordon tells CNN he and another foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, discussed U.S.- Russian relations with the ambassador.
The president's son in law, Jared Kushner, and former national security adviser, Michael Flynn also sat down with the ambassador at a previously undisclosed meeting at Trump Tower in December. Now, even Republicans are saying it's time for White House officials
to tell all.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: I think everybody who's had any contact with the Russians need to be in the practice of oversharing.
ACOSTA: The president who has pushed back on questions about his campaign's contacts with the Russians --
TRUMP: Well, I had nothing to do with it, I have nothing to do with Russia.
ACOSTA: -- is fighting back. Tweeting this photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer from 2003, calling the New York Democrat a total hypocrite.
Schumer responded he's willing to talk about his contact with Putin under oath. Asking the president, "Would you and your team?"
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign.
ACOSTA: Democrats warned Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russian investigation may only be the beginning.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: A recusal is an admission that something was wrong.
COOPER: Jim, the president has responded today. What did he say?
ACOSTA: That's right. He's pointing out that there are other people here in Washington who appeared to be suffering from some amnesia when it comes to meeting with the Russian ambassador.
We can put this tweet up on screen. This came from the president earlier this afternoon. It shows a picture of the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sitting down around a lunch table it appears with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and this came after Nancy Pelosi denied she'd ever met with him.
Now, she did fire back with a tweet of her own, we can put that on screen. She had a response saying that the president does not know the difference between an official meeting photographed by the press and closed secret meeting that his attorney general lied about under oath. So, House minority leader trying to make the distinction there that, yes, this was a meeting photographed by the press, whereas Jeff Sessions simply forgot or did not tell the truth about his meeting with the Russian ambassador.
And, Anderson, I should point out, that one of the outgoing questions about all of this is what about Hillary Clinton's campaign. I did reach out to a former top official with the Clinton campaign who said nobody from the campaign, no high-level officials in that campaign ever met with the Russian ambassador, trying to push back from a Democratic standpoint against this pushback you might say from the White House, oh, that just about everybody here in Washington met with the Russian ambassador.
The Clinton campaign, at least one official saying that did not happen when it comes to top officials with that campaign, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks.
More now on one of the two campaign advisers other than the attorney general who met with the Russian ambassador during the convention. His name is Carter Page. It's a name that might be familiar because it keeps coming up again and again in reports regarding Russia and the Trump campaign and/or the Trump White House. Carter Page is here. I'm going to talk to him in just a moment.
But, first, some background from our Jim Sciutto.
WASHINGTON POST: We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon, if there's anything you can share on that?
TRUMP: Carter Page, Ph.D.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March 2016, Carter Page's name is announced publicly by then candidate Donald Trump. Page was known more as a businessman than a foreign policy expert. He is an energy executive and former investment banker with ties to Russia. He lived in Moscow for three years while working for Merrill Lynch.
During that time, he worked as an adviser to Gazprom, the Russian- controlled energy giant which is now run by a former aide of Vladimir Putin when he was the mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s.
[20:05:09] In 2008, Page came back to New York and founded his own company, Global Energy Capital LLC. Page also started writing columns for global policy and academic journal where he was critical of sanctions and of the Obama administration's relationship with Russia.
Three months after Page is named as one of Trump's adviser, he attended a meeting of foreign policy experts in Washington and according to "The Washington Post", he stunned the crowd by praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, also saying a Trump presidency would be good for U.S./Russia relations.
A month later, Page was in Moscow for a speech at the New Economic School. He told the crowd he didn't want to comment on the U.S. election but was sharply critical of U.S. foreign policy.
CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: A failure of U.S. analysts and leaders to consider these principles has often allowed Washington to disregard proposed ideas that are actually not contrary to America's interests.
SCIUTTO: It was during this trip to Moscow he allegedly met with Russian nationals who were under U.S. sanctions -- an allegation that Page has denied multiple times.
JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: Did you have any meetings -- I'll ask again -- did you have any meetings last year with Russian officials in Russia, outside Russia, anywhere?
PAGE: I had no meetings, no meetings. I might have said hello to a few people, you know, as they're walking by me at my graduation -- the graduation speech I gave in July. But no meetings.
You know, I think it's a political stunt from the get-go.
SCIUTTO: Months after Trump named Page to his foreign policy advisory team, a Trump campaign spokesperson gave him a new moniker, "informal adviser". Then, one month later, communications director Jason Miller changed his status again, writing in an e-mail to "The Hill", quote, "He's never been part of our campaign. Period."
After the election, the Trump White House continues to deny any close connection between Carter Page and their campaign.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign.
SCIUTTO: Carter Page later said while he was part of the foreign policy team he did not work directly with Mr. Trump and did not work on anything substantial relating to Russia policy.
Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: So, that's some of the background. Carter Page joins us now.
Thanks for being here.
Let's -- first start about what you said to Judy Woodruff and then what you said last night on MSNBC. Last month, you said to Judy Woodruff, she asked you "Did you have any meetings last year with Russian officials in Russia, outside Russia, anywhere?", you said, "No meetings." You repeated it three times, we just played that.
Then, all of a sudden, last night, you say to Chris Hayes that you, quote, "do not deny talking with Russia's U.S. ambassador over the summer at a conference at the Republican convention." That sounds like you were misleading to Judy Woodruff.
PAGE: You know, Anderson, a great analogy is we -- you and I were members of the same health club here in New York previously. And I remember walking by you even though we didn't know each other and I said, "Hi, Anderson", and you said "hello" and we, you know, I a nice little exchange for half a second.
Now, does that to you constitute a meeting?
COOPER: Well, I've guessed we've met but it's not a meeting. PAGE: Exactly. Thanks a lot.
So, I mean, that's -- I will not talk about anything that happened in off-the-record meetings. There's plenty of people in Washington I know --
COOPER: Right. But when Judy said, "Did you have any meetings last year with Russian officials in Russia, outside Russia?", you could have just said, well, I, you know, I did attend a conference and was in a meeting with the Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention, because that sounds like more than just saying hello to him.
PAGE: It was literally -- you know, the amount of time you and I walk by each other and, you know, greeted each other, it's about -- again, I don't talk about off the record confidential information.
COOPER: Right. But --
PAGE: Everyone that attended that --
COOPER: But if all you said was "hi, ambassador," that's not a confidential conversation.
PAGE: The fact that we were participants -- you know, I wouldn't even be talking about this if someone hadn't leaked it to "USA Today."
COOPER: Right. OK. But last night -- so, you did meet with -- you met the Russian ambassador at this conference in Cleveland.
PAGE: I don't feel comfortable --
COOPER: Last night, you said you do not deny it. So, you do not deny --
PAGE: I do not deny, I mean, these reports, which is just totally getting this entire story out of context.
COOPER: Right, but off the record meeting --
PAGE: Instead of talking about real substance, real crimes that were committed last year during the election against me, you know, human rights violations by the Clinton campaign --
[20:10:04] COOPER: Well, I've read your letter to the Department of Justice. I'm happy to talk to you about it. But I do want to clear this up because it does appear as if you were misleading. I mean, when you say "no meetings, no meetings", the off-the-record means you're not going to talk about the details of what were discussed but you can say, "Yes, I had a meeting." It doesn't mean --
PAGE: It's exactly like you just said to me. It was not a meeting. You know, our thing in our health club when we said hello --
COOPER: So, did you speak to the Russian ambassador more than ten seconds?
PAGE: Never more than -- again, I don't want to talk specifics but I can assure, I've never spoken with Ambassador Kislyak more than 10 seconds. Yes. That's a safe statement.
PAGE: Again, I would not be talking about this if there weren't leakers --
COOPER: Right. It's already been reported out there.
There is confusion about your role in the campaign. In March last year, candidate Trump identified you by name as part of his foreign policy team. The next day, you tell "The New York Times" you've been sending policy papers to the campaign. Then, August 24, the campaign -- Hope Hicks says -- calls you an informal adviser who doesn't speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.
A month later, September 24, Jason Miller, as we showed, says, "Mr. Page is not an adviser, has made no contribution to the campaign." He went on to say, "I never spoke to him, wouldn't recognize him if he was sitting next to me."
And this is what President Trump said about you last month. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think I've ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don't think I ever met him.
Now, It's possible I walked into a room and he was sitting there but I don't think I ever met him. I didn't talk to him ever. And he thought it was a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, let me ask you. Did you ever -- I mean, you were apparently -- I mean, they said early on that you were an adviser to the campaign, a foreign policy adviser. Did you ever brief Donald Trump as a candidate or as a president-elect?
PAGE: President Trump said it absolutely 110 percent accurate. I never briefed him -- in reality --
COOPER: Did you ever meet him?
PAGE: I never shook his hand. I've been in many rallies with him from Arizona to North Dakota to many in New York.
PAGE: Rallies. You know, which is meetings, you know? So, you know --
COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that, because you have said repeatedly that you were in meetings with the president.
PAGE: That's it.
COOPER: You were in Moscow in December of 2016. You held a press conference at the Sputnik headquarters and you apparently -- to reporters, you denied claims that you had never met Donald Trump during your time as adviser and said, "I've certainly been in a number of meetings with him."
PAGE: Yes. That --
COOPER: That implies I'm in a meeting, in a conference room, around a table. You're now saying those meetings were actually rallies.
PAGE: That is -- listen, if you look at the definition of meeting in Russian and in a Russian context, when they have large --
COOPER: Do you speak Russian?
PAGE: I get by. I can understand what's happening in meetings and I can get my ideas across but it's pretty ugly.
COOPER: So, you're saying you were using the Russian definition of meetings. So, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been to rallies --
PAGE: Not -- I've been in smaller rallies --
COOPER: No, no, I'm saying, hundreds or tens of thousands of people who have been to Donald Trump rallies, can they say they've been in meetings with Donald Trump?
PAGE: I've been in smaller ones as well.
COOPER: What's the smallest -- I mean, have you actually been in a meeting where foreign policy was discussed?
PAGE: Anderson, listen, they were often discussed in rallies, et cetera, as well, right?
COOPER: I know. But if I go to a rally of Donald Trump's, it doesn't mean I'm an adviser to Donald Trump. It doesn't mean I'm going to a meeting with Donald Trump. I happen to be -- I'm at a rally. So, you went to a bunch of Donald Trump rallies. PAGE: Yes. And things like that, exactly.
COOPER: You gave quote to CNN in January. You said, "I spent many hours in meetings with him", and then you said, "But defined in the Russian sense of meetings, participating in some of the incredible rallies of the organizer of the country from Fulton Hills, Arizona, to Bismarck, North Dakota, to a number of events in New York, and I really got to deeply understand what he was talking about."
I think to a lot of people, that's going to sound like when you're saying one thing at Russia in a press conference that you were many meetings with Donald Trump, that makes you sound important that you were in meetings, and then to say, "Well, actually what I meant was I was using the Russian definition and I was actually in rallies with tens of thousands of other people."
PAGE: Ninety percent of the students from the university and other media people that came to that meeting that briefing, or the presentation I gave, was -- were Russians. So when they, you know, when they have demonstrations and gatherings in the square or other places, you know, that -- the term for that is meetings. So, I was, you know, using --
COOPER: But, I mean, you're being described on Russian television as an important foreign policy adviser to the president of the United States.
[20:15:01] So, when you say you were in meetings, it certainly does make it -- I mean, if I hear you're an adviser to the president, I would think you'd be in more than a rally in Bismarck, North Dakota.
PAGE: You know, Anderson, this is where things just get totally misfocused. I mean, this -- I described the fact that I was, you know, similarly in low-level position and just -- you know, as I've been stated, you know, an informal, unpaid adviser.
PAGE: You know, listen, it's just a big distraction from the real lives that are out there, which is kind of going back to the point you were talking about with the sanctions, et cetera.
COOPER: All right. Let's take a quick break. We'll have more on the other side. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're talking tonight to former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Although if you're watching before the break, the precise definition of adviser seems in some dispute.
I want to ask you about that because -- I mean, what happened?
You know, Donald Trump says your name, says your -- names you as part of foreign policy team. That was in March. In August, they say you're informal adviser. And then a month later, Jason Miller says you're not an adviser and have made no contribution to the campaign.
And you've been saying that you've been sending policy papers to the campaign as far back as in March.
[20:20:02] PAGE: Yes. I never met Jason Miller. I think he joined kind of mid-summer and was --
COOPER: So, did you actually write policy papers and send them to the campaign?
PAGE: I don't like talking about, you know, specifics of --
COOPER: Because you did say -- I mean, you told "The New York Times" you did on March 25th. So, I'm just trying to --
PAGE: That's fair enough. Yes, yes --
COOPER: Can you say who you sent policy papers to?
PAGE: I don't -- you know, I don't talk about internal matters.
COOPER: But, I mean, they are talking about internal matters, saying you were not part of the campaign at all.
PAGE: Well, I'm not surprised. He didn't know me because he was there until -- you know, he was -- came over from Ted Cruz's --
COOPER: Right. But nobody ever came out after Jason Miller said this and said, oh, actually, that's not true. Carter Page has been, you know, an adviser to the campaign.
PAGE: Well, you know, the beauty of it -- part of the reason why I stepped back is I wanted to prevent continuing to be a distraction. I mean, this cycle --
COOPER: You say step back. They said you weren't part of it to begin with, which is just weird.
PAGE: You know, Jason didn't know. I mean, he was -- I mean, that's -- it's an honest mistake. He was on a few months between Ted Cruz's campaign and moving on to another --
COOPER: So --
PAGE: -- someone else right now.
COOPER: So, when Sean Spicer, January 11th, just two months ago, says, "Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign," what were you put on notice for? What does that mean? PAGE: You know, I don't know. I haven't met Mr. Spicer either. So
COOPER: Because there was a report in "The Daily Caller" that the Trump campaign had sent you cease-and-desist letters after the relationship with the campaign ended. Is that true?
PAGE: I don't know anything about that, yes.
COOPER: So, you did not to your knowledge receive any cease-and- desist letters, your attorneys or anything?
PAGE: You know, I -- nothing -- you know, nothing specific that -- there's nothing that really came up in that regard, yes.
COOPER: OK. I've got to push you on this. Does that mean there were no letters or you can't talk about it?
PAGE: You know what? No material -- I mean, Anderson, this all revolves around large lies that were told against me for literally a year.
COOPER: Right, but I'm just trying to clarify --
PAGE: You know, I mean, this is such a minor point.
COOPER: I mean, it goes to, you know, to credibility of people -- I mean, Sean Spicer is saying you were put on notice and then there's this report. If you don't want to comment on it, that's fine.
PAGE: I have no comment.
I will say a lot of the people I worked with were some of the most supportive, positive people, you know, throughout the entire time, right up to the very be -- right up to the very end. You know, that's what matters.
COOPER: When you say though --
PAGE: I was, you know, look --
COOPER: -- you were working with people on the campaign, though, what does that -- what does that actually mean? Were there actual meetings that you and other policy advisers had? Was it just -- because back then, when President Trump said your name, he -- I know he wasn't -- he was candidate Trump, he was under pressure to name some names of foreign policy team because he delayed doing that.
COOPER: Were there ever actual meetings or --
PAGE: You know, I have no comment on that because -- I mean, what he said the night of the election is this is not a campaign, this is a movement. And I very much see myself as, you know, a supporter. That's probably the best definition of myself.
COOPER: So, in July 7th of 2016, you went to Moscow, you gave a lecture at the New Economic School, we saw part of it. Can you say who paid for your trip or how that came about? Was that a paid speech? Was that a Russian organization that paid for it?
PAGE: I was invited by the university. I was paid zero, Anderson. A big goose egg. So, you know -- and again, this is the story --
COOPER: Your travel --
PAGE: Some reporter said someone told them today that -- and I get this call that they were -- I was paid $100,000, you know? And again, this is -- things that are -- it's this red herring technique where let's --
COOPER: We want to clarify with you. I mean, obviously, the allegations are the Russian government does fund, you know, people who might be supporting their policies to come to Moscow and speak or whatever and give them speaker fees or whatever. So, you were saying you weren't paid.
COOPER: Did they pay your travel?
PAGE: In economy class.
PAGE: It's an hour flight.
COOPER: The university --
PAGE: Less than a $1,000 ticket.
COOPER: OK. Did the campaign -- because at that point, you were still being called an adviser to the campaign. When Corey Lewandowski left, I think at the end of July, he said you were absolutely an adviser to the campaign, at that point when he left. Did the campaign know about your trip to Russia in advance?
PAGE: People knew about it, yes.
COOPER: Because you told "The Washington Post" in September 26, you said that you made it clear to senior Trump campaign staff at the time that you were going to Russia, you were acting in a personal capacity and that they approved your trip in advance with the understanding no campaign issues would be discussed.
[20:25:05] Is that true?
PAGE: Not only is that true, what happened when I was in Moscow as opposed to the, you know, the dodgy dossier fake intel report --
COOPER: Which we've never reported -- CNN has never reported any details of what was in that dossier, nor would I ask you about the details of what was in that dossier.
PAGE: There's nothing to ask, Anderson, because it's -- everything about me is completely false and just so inaccurate. You know, this Rosneft stake for example, a stake which actually is bought -- was bought by Glencore, a company founded by Marc Rich, you know, who's -- long history there you probably remember.
COOPER: So, just -- before we get to that, can you say who gave you a heads up from the Trump campaign to go to Moscow? Who said it was OK? Because you said -- you told "The New York Times" I guess that you talked to senior campaign -- or Trump campaign staff at the time. You made it clear to senior Trump campaign staff at the time that you were going.
PAGE: You know, Anderson, I've never -- I don't like putting my name with someone else in the campaign because I've literally been public enemy number one. I'm constantly being attacked thanks to this false evidence.
COOPER: So, you don't want to say --
PAGE: And so, if I start telling you names, literally those people are going to get dozens of calls.
COOPER: So, you did tell somebody in the campaign you were going and they approved it.
PAGE: People were fine with it.
COOPER: People were fine with it.
While you were there, and this gets to the question that you were going to, did you meet with anyone connected with or potentially affiliated with the Russian government or who may have reported back to the Russian government?
PAGE: Listen, I don't know of what --
PAGE: -- for me, you know, people are --
COOPER: Saying hello to somebody in a hallway.
PAGE: -- there's plenty of, you know, intel supposedly, according to news reports kind of following what's been happening in -- you know, what I -- you know, my travels and my communications --
COOPER: Right. In Russia, it's hard to know who you were talking to and how they're connected to whatever. But did you hold meetings where you talked about, you know, the elections of Hillary Clinton? Can you say anything about who you actually met with?
PAGE: Scholars. You know, I was speaking as the graduation speaker at New Economic School. And so, you know, talking with professors, students, members of faculty.
COOPER: And were there conversations about sanctions, about what future foreign policy might be under a Trump administration? Can you say what the conversations were about?
PAGE: General -- I mean, these are foreign policy experts and so, you know, we're talking about that. You know?
COOPER: About the campaign, though?
PAGE: Nothing -- nothing serious about the campaign. You know, some -- people may -- look, I've been going there since 1991. That was my first trip while I was at Annapolis. I've never seen so much excitement about --
COOPER: Back in '91.
PAGE: It was very similar, you know, because I think U.S. foreign policy has been so severely mismanaged for, you know, for many decades that having someone who -- or the possibility that there may be some change at some point over the horizon led to an incredible level of optimism. So --
COOPER: This is an obvious question to ask but at this point when you were there, the revelations about hacking of the DNC had not -- it was not in the forefront. That was later on in the month. So, I think it's important to remember that time line.
PAGE: Yes, good point.
COOPER: It's an obvious question, though. I mean, did anybody there talk to you about, you know, what they call Kompromat in Russia against Hillary Clinton, about anything having to do with Russian policy, Russian thoughts on the campaign?
PAGE: Anderson, not only did they not talk about it then, they've never said -- no one has ever said -- no Russian person has ever said one word to me ever, you know, in the -- from -- to this very day.
COOPER: What do you mean? You mean about --
PAGE: Yeah, about that issue you just raised. Exactly.
COOPER: About hacking?
PAGE: Yes, yes.
COOPER: And so, any allegations that you coordinated or colluded with Russians during the campaign you deny? PAGE: Not only deny it, it's just so false that it's, you know,
completely -- it's a joke. It just -- it shows how dishonest and, you know, illegal the actions of the Clinton campaign were. When, you know, John Podesta, Robby Mook are constantly giving these lies based on these false intel reports by people that were paid and, you now, associates with --
COOPER: Right. And I know you've complained to the Department of Justice. I read your complaint to the Department of Justice. It's a little odd I got to say. I mean, you're saying the Clinton campaign was targeting you in part because you're Catholic and also because you're a man.
PAGE: You know, there's a very long list reasons why they were taking discriminatory action. You know, it's hard to --
COOPER: You called it hate crimes and based on your religion and the fact that you were a male.
[20:30:10] PAGE: You know, there is -- compared to that 35-page Dodgy Dossier, everything in my letter is factual and there are -- the difference between the two documents is there's a lot of additional evidence backing up all of my claims. I can --
COOPER: -- campaign were catholic.
PAGE: Well, you know, I don't want to get into specifics and discussions but there were definitely a lot of -- there's a lot of evidence and, you know, we can talk -- that's a longer discussion we can talk about.
COOPER: So, let's talk about -- quickly the investigation. Has anyone from the FBI or any intelligence service or any law enforcement service contacted you for an interview? Have you given an interview or anyone from the Intelligence Committees or members of Congress?
PAGE: Bo one from after -- from the DOJ or FBI or any member of the executive branch of government has ever contacted me over the course of the last year. I was actually excited when I got back from my trip overseas yesterday because I received a letter from -- you're asking about committees as well. I got a nice letter from the Senate select Intelligence Committee asking me to preserve my -- some of my information for, you know --
COOPER: And you just got that yesterday?
PAGE: Well, I just -- I mean, it was dated a couple weeks ago but I've been traveling the last few weeks. But, you know, I mean, I was very excited about it because everything that's been -- that we're talking about here is based on false information. So even though it's a little bit 1984-esque that, you know, we want to kind of look at my e-mails or stuff -- COOPER: They've asked you -- routine thing to do in investigation but
they asked you to preserve any documents that may relate to your travels --
PAGE: Yeah. Yeah.
COOPER: -- or any connections you may have had.
PAGE: But, you know, the nice thing about it is you mentioned the -- there was a brief clip with the attorney general's statement yesterday. It didn't include the full statement which was, you know, recusing himself for all investigations related to campaigns, plural, not just Trump campaigns, which is the focus o the, you know, the first part of the statement. But open to all elements. So, you know, I'm cautiously optimistic --
COOPER: You were called to testify, you would testify?
PAGE: I would be happy to testify. And, you know, but I would be more happy if there were -- I hope that the Senate -- I actually tried dialing the number for the Senate contact -- Senate select committee's contact to make sure that they're doing both campaigns and, you know, look at, you know, the very clear evidence of interfering in the election and kind of using the Intelligence community to -- for political acts to support --
COOPER: -- the Clinton campaign. For that, do you believe that Russia --
PAGE: It's clear. I mean, what -- is there any --
COOPER: Do you believe that Russia hacked into the DNC computers they tried to influence the U.S. election?
PAGE: I don't -- again, I don't know anything about that. So --
COOPER: You know that the Clinton campaign tried to, what, subvert or influence the Intelligence Community but you don't know, you can't say whether Russia tried to influence the U.S. election even though the entire Intelligence Community says that happened.
PAGE: Well, it's interesting. In my letter -- you know, it's another political stunt in my view. And if you read --
COOPER: What's a political stunt? Someone is going to say and is going to to say, look, you're a guy who has business dealings in Russia. You need to make -- I mean, that's how you how to make a living, and so it's understandable you wouldn't want to be publicly saying that Russia was hacking into U.S., but can you really sit here and say you don't have any belief or you can't even imagine that Moscow might do that?
PAGE: I don't imagine -- you know, I don't think about those things, Anderson. All I know --
COOPER: You said, you telling me you spent a lot of time in Russia and you don't think about what Russian intelligence is capable of?
PAGE: What I think about --
COOPER: You're telling me you don't carry a second phone when you go to Moscow because you know they're going to hack into your phone? Everybody who goes to Moscow does that. Do you do that?
PAGE: You know what, yeah, I have a second phone.
COOPER: OK, so you carry a second phone when you're in Moscow because you know Russian intelligence is likely to hack into your phone but you can't imagine that Russian intelligence would hack into the DNC?
PAGE: I didn't say -- I didn't say that. What I said is --
COOPER: -- a second phone in Russia, I got to tell you, you should because you're the only person I've ever met who does business in Russia and doesn't do that.
PAGE: Well, like I just said, I do have that.
COOPER: OK. So, you're concerned about them hacking you or listening on you --
PAGE: No, that's not my concern. You know, listen, I think what you have is if you read through that Intel report -- I actually have a good analysis of that in my letter.
[20:35:5] COOPER: Your legitimacy on this, your credibility on this does seem under question if you're completely unwilling to look at anything Russia may or may not have done to even entertain the notion that Vladimir Putin would be capable -- I mean I read some quote you read during your speech in Moscow and I wish I had it in front of me, basically it's a quote by Vladimir Putin which says -- here it is. He said, we never med until the internal political affairs of other countries unlike the U.S., do you believe Vladimir Putin?
PAGE: I think that was a conversation he had with Fareed Zakaria.
COOPER: But you read that quote out. Do you believe that quote that they don't meddle in the internal political affairs of other countries?
PAGE: I think what he is saying -- the point I was trying to make is that I don't -- I don't -- I'm not here -- I made very clear that I was not there as part of the Trump camp -- Trump campaign.
PAGE: I was there as a private citizen.
COOPER: Right, I just want to --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Do you believe that Russia meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries?
PAGE: I don't know anything about that. All I do know --
COOPER: You don't know anything about that?
PAGE: Listen, if I read that -- based on that Intel report, it's all politics. And I -- If you raid --
COOPER: Wait a minute. I got to jump in here. I have only have an undergraduate degree so I'm not as educated as you are, but I've studied Russian and the Soviet Union a fair amount.
COOPER: You honestly can say -- you have a PhD, right? You honestly can say about you don't know anything about whether Russia meddles in the internal affairs of other countries?
PAGE: I --you know, in the context of my life all which, you know, all these defamation approach by the Clinton campaign to drag my name out --
COOPER: Carter, you're not making sense. Yes or no. You can just tell me, yeah, I do not believe that Russia ever meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries or yes I believe they do.
PAGE: Listen I mean, you know, they may -- I think all countries, you know, are -- certainly the U.S., if you look at what happened in Ukraine, right, on --
COOPER: -- the U.S. meddled in internal -- of course. The CIA --
PAGE: -- exactly. So, yeah, I think that's a fair statement.
COOPER: All right. Carter Page, I do appreciate you coming and talking with us. Thank you very much.
COOPER: We're going to get the panel's take when we come back. More ahead.
[20:40:09] COOPER: Well, before the break you heard from Carter Page, the former Trump foreign policy adviser who was (inaudible) to have met with Russia's ambassador the Republican Convention outlast summer, he says he doesn't deny meeting. We talked about many things -- or deny talking, I should say. We talked about many things including the parameters of his relationship with candidate Trump and how his relationship with the campaign oddly came to an end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When Sean Spicer, January 11th, just two months ago say, Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign. What would you put on notice for, what does that mean?
PAGE: You know, I don't know. I haven't met Mr. Spicer either. So --
COOPER: Because there was a report, as you pointing out, in The Daily Caller that the Trump campaign had set you cease and desist letters after the relationship with the campaign ended, is that true?
PAGE: I don't know about that, you know.
COOPER: So, you did not acknowledge -- receive any cease or desist letters or attorneys or anything?
PAGE: You know, I -- nothing -- you know, nothing specific that -- there's nothing that really came up in that regard, yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now our CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers and Maggie Haberman, also former Georgia GOP Congressman Jack Kingston, Paris Dennard, served as Director of African-American Outreach in the George W. Bush administration, Democratic Strategist Jonathan Tasini, and CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein.
Maggie, you heard what Carter Page said. What do you make of it?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was a long interview. My take-away was he tried very hard not to answer by most pointed questions. He wouldn't give basic answers as to you asked repeatedly, and I though did a very nice job of trying to nail him down on specifics about his meeting or meetings or how many there were. He wouldn't go there, declined to say just a yes-or-no question to whether he believes or acknowledges that Russia meddles in other countries' elections, but he was pointed about what the U.S. does and he was very pointed and adamant that this is a campaign against him by the Democrats and by the Clinton campaign.
I guess I don't really know what he thinks he's accomplishing by doing these interviews throughout the week if he doesn't have more that he's going to say. I am mostly struck that his story changed from as recently as two weeks ago, you know --
HABERMAN: That's right. And now still declining to sort of put it all out on the table, if you're going to this, that's generally the school of thought. I don't see how keeping this alive helps either him or the Trump White House. COOPER: Kirsten, it does seem -- if there's no "there" there and there very well may no "there" there in any of these meetings, why not just have the White House come forward and say, yeah, Jeff Sessions met, and then, you know, Carter Page met and then spell it all out?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it must been the big question that everybody acknowledges that meeting with ambassadors is not an unusual thing to do. So, you know, why not disclose it. Jeff Sessions says he forgot about it. But it was a meeting that hadn't happened that long ago and also in the context of an election where there was Russian interference in the election.
So I think that it does seem like the type of thing you might remember or the people who were in the meeting with him maybe afterwards would have said, hey, you need to correct the record because you forgot to mention it.
I think with Carter Page it seems to me a little bit like he exaggerated his role on the Trump administration and, you know, it was a very awkward interview, why he came on when he doesn't want to answer basic questions about who he met with, why would that be confidential if you, you know, ran into somebody at a conference isn't really clear to me.
COOPER: Carl Bernstein, I mean we've got a long history of covering all sorts of folks and all sorts of levels of political controversies. What do you make of Carter Page?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One, I thought it was an excruciating interview to watch. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. But what I came away with was that here is someone who may have been used by the Russians and may have been used by the Trump campaign and perhaps rather cruelly in both instances. I don't know.
But let's cut to the chase here. There's a cover-up going on. We can't tell yet what the cover up from the Trump administration and from Mr. Flynn and Mr. Sessions who have lied is about. But there is a cover-up going on. People are trying to keep us and investigators from knowing what all of these goings-on are about, people around Donald Trump and Russians, Russian nationals, ethnorussians (ph), and the campaign. That's what all of this about.
We don't know yet what it goes to, but clearly the president of the United States and those around him including Jeff Sessions, who was the head of his National Security Advisory Team, appointed the same day as the man you just interviewed to be the head of the National Security Advisory Team though the campaign.
We don't know what it is they don't want us to know or why it is they don't want us to know, but it's clear they don't want us to know a damn thing.
COOPER: It is, Jack, is it fair to say there's a cover up?
[20:45:3] JACK KINGSTON, (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, GEORGIA: Absolutely not. I don't know the series of lies. And all I can say this, Jeff Sessions certainly did not lie under oath. He answered a question. The question never was, were you involved as a campaign or as a surrogate?
COOPER: But, wait a minute. That's ridiculous. If I say to you have you and I ever met and you say no, you've never met me because you and I have only met as a political analyst, I've never actually met you as a congressman ...
KINGSTON: But that was from the question.
COOPER: We've still met.
KINGSTON: But this is what Franken's question was. And I'm going to kind of cut in the middle of it. But it says any evidence affiliate -- that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian governments in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
COOPER: But he volunteered that he had not.
KINGSTON: What he said as surrogate I have not been --
COOPER: Come on. It was at the RNC.
KINGSTON: But let me say this. As a member of Congress who served on the Defense Committee --
COOPER: Why was he at the Republican National Convention, was that as a member of the Senate or was that as a surrogate --
KINGSTON: He spoke at that to 50 ambassadors and to later go out and say --
COOPER: OK. You say, that was the second, tat was that his first or his second meeting with the Russian ambassador? Either one he met with the Russian ambassador.
KINGSTON: But that was never the question. I absolutely positively believe he answered it correctly. I think --
COOPER: So if somebody says --
COOPER: -- OK, let me add. So if somebody says to me, have I ever met Congressman Jack Kingston, I can say no, I never met Congressman Jack Kingston because you're no longer a congressman and I met you as a political analyst. If they said have you met Political Analyst Jack Kingston --
KINGSTON: But that's not --
COOPER: -- then I can say yes.
KINGSTON: But Anderson.
COOPER: -- are people watching this?
KINGSTON: -- has anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign? What will you do? They never ask him --
HABERMAN: I guess what --
KINGSTON: This is the transcript.
HABERMAN: So I guess you have to wonder then, I mean if that is the case, if the feeling is that the question asked and answered, then why did the attorney general recuse himself from any possible --
KINGSTON: I actually think he's trying to get the issue off the table --
KINGSTON: I think he did the right thing.
KINGSTON: -- Wisconsin, the Democrats can't get over it so they're trying to grab onto this Russian thing.
COOPER: All right, Jonathan?
JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I just want to say I'm sort of in Kirsten camp at least about the interview which instruct (ph) me that this guy -- and I think there are a number of people like that in the Trump campaign because the Trump campaign kind of came out of nowhere and had to gather advisers together.
He was a hanger-on. I think he had no influence. What struck me from the interview when you were asking him questions was he was trying to make himself important but then every time you asked a question -- for example, you said, you asked him twice, did the campaign know about your trip and his answer was not the campaign, he said people knew. Does that mean his dry cleaner knew, his grosser knew?
COOPER: He has told "The New York Times" he told a senior campaign person but then --
TASINI: And Jack will know that I'm -- I take no second chair to want to skewer Donald Trump, right?
KINGSTON: But in this case --
TASINI: You make Bernstein look --
COOPER: But the idea that they were using him as an emissary seems highly, highly unlikely.
TASINI: Highly, unlikely. So, I'm very skeptical. But I do think just generally that where we're at is that there are -- it's plausible some of this happened and it's normal and yet you could also make an argue amount that there's something untoward.
And so, these are the two things I would suggest. One is Trump has the ability to declassify all these conversations, all these intercepts, all that garbage that people are talking about anonymously, he should do that. And you guys should call for a special prosecutor, get this out on the table, get all thrashed through.
COOPER: OK, Paris.
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One thing that we learned from the Clinton campaign is the slow drip, drip, drip that plagued her campaign as related to the e-mails in Benghazi, you know, the server and all that thing, that she had come out at United Nations and put it to rest, and put all in the table. She might have done lot a little bit better than she did.
Now, what we see with the Trump campaign and now the White House is this constant question about Russia. What I would suggest to the White House is put it to rest. If there's -- I don't think that there's anything to hide. I don't think there's anything untoward about a sitting United States senator talking to ambassadors because, frankly, they all do it. And there's plenty of tweets going out back and forth that shows even this particular ambassador his meeting tweeting and talking -- Republicans and Democrats. So I don't think --
COOPER: -- forgot about it.
DENNARD: Right, so there's nothing -- but hold on -- there's nothing untoward about it. But, the question is when you look at somebody like Carter Page, it was evident from the interview that he was by no means advising the campaign or necessarily the candidate.
COOPER: But clearly, I mean, it seems like to me -- I mean, you think back to march, Donald Trump was under pressure to name people who are in his Foreign Policy National Security cabinet.
HABERMAN: Yeah, that's right.
COOPER: And so he comes up with five names and Carter Page is one of them. It's -- and even then back then some of other people who interviewed said, I've never actually met with the president --
[20:50:02] HABERMAN: Right.
COOPER: He clearly, did not have -- So the idea that based somehow --
COOPER: -- between -- again.
DENNARD: He was at a big rally.
COOPER: Carl, does that make sense to you?
BERNSTEIN: Yeah, as I said, he looks to me as someone who is being used perhaps by both the Trump campaign and perhaps by the Russians.
HABERMAN: What we do know, I think one thing is absolutely true that I think that it is you are correct, that they were stacking up quickly --
HABERMAN: -- or looking like they were staffing up quickly.
What you are seeing now, though, in addition to that the White House says generally had a tradition and before that the Trump campaign have not laying all their cards on the table.
You know, all meetings are not equal, all people are not equal who have these meeting. You know, Michael Flynn is not the same as Carter Page. But, this is where the Trump campaign and now White House as a persuasive truth problem. In terms of the fact that they have repeatedly said things are not true or that later proved not to be true.
And so, to them, this is a kind of situation where you're asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt. Because you don't really know what's there. There's just sort of this in veneer. And that is I think where they have harmed themselves for the future.
BERNSTEIN: We need to remember what this is about from the beginning. And that is about the fact by the Intelligence Agencies in the United States, 16 or 17 of them, are finding that the Russians interfered in the presidential campaign, in the presidential campaign.
This is a huge event in international relations, and what we need is forthright openness, from the Trump White House and those in the Trump campaign. That's what we're not getting, and that's why we're all exercising these questions --
BERNSTEIN: -- and there are so many investigations going on.
COOPER: We've got to take a break. Much more to talk about in the next hour. Just add the fear of the children evacuated now in arrest and the wave of threats against Jewish organizations. Who the suspect is may come as a surprise. Details ahead.
COOPER: The investigation into bomb threats against Jewish institutions nationwide has led to arrest in St. Louis. The accusations against the suspect it involves just a small fraction of more than a hundred bomb threats directed to Jewish Community Centers since the start of the year.
[20:55:08] In the wake of the scares the parents have pulled kids from JCC schools and programs. Several Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized. Brynn Gingras has more on that today's arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Federal authorities say 31-year-old Juan Thompson is behind at least eight of the threats against Jewish institutions across four states.
Why did he do it? Authorities say to get back at an ex-lover. Using a fake e-mail account, Thompson allegedly pinned some of the attacks on his ex. Like this one, sent to the headquarters of the Anti- Defamation League. She is behind the bomb threats against Jews.
The next day authorities say he phoned in a bomb threat to the ADL and disguised his voice. Thompson is a former journalist from St. Louis and sometimes participated in panel discussions on social issues.
JUAN THOMPSON, ACCUSED OF MAKING ANTI-SEMITIC BOMB THREATS: And everyone I know, everyone I grew up with, the people that I interview, whether they be in Ferguson or whether be in Baltimore, the young people, like I did, at one point in my life when I was younger, they desire something more.
GINGRAS: At one point, Thompson wrote for the online publication "The Intercept." An editor-in-chief there says he was fired early last year after he fabricated quotes and sources, a claim Thompson denied in a previous interview with CNN.
Now at the center of accusations again, according to the criminal complaint related to the bomb threats, Thompson even went as far as making it seem like his ex was framing him, sending an e mail to a Jewish school in Michigan that read, "Juan Thompson put two bombs in your school last night. He is eager for Jewish Newtown."
Then he blamed the ex on social media writing, "Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty, racist white girl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name." Federal authority say the bomb threats by phone and e-mail with a culmination of seven months of harassment and intimidation toward his ex. The arrest which received praise from JCC and ADL came on the day FBI Director James Comey met with Jewish religious leaders to discuss the investigation into the dozens of other Anti-Semitic attacks and threats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Brynn joins us. Now, do we know -- I mean, does the FBI have any leads on who's behind the dozens of other threats?
GINGRAS: Well, Anderson, you saw the FBI director meeting with those faith leaders. He told them today that this is a top priority for the agency. And we do know from law enforcement officials, they believe that either one person or the same group of people are likely behind a majority of these threats that we've really seen in several waves across the country.
They also think a majority of those calls are originating somewhere from overseas. So certainly good news to see this arrest and there's hope that more arrests are coming in the near future, Anderson.
COOPER: Brynn Gingras, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Much more ahead in the next hour of 360, on the new revelations about previously undisclosed contacts between Russia and Pres. Trump's associates and the investigation focusing on them. What's next for Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is ahead.