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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Anatomy of An Unproven Claim; Interview with Michael Hayden; Spicer Won't Say Trump Has Confidence in Comey. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 06, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us tonight.
There is still no evidence to support President Trump's latest unfounded claim that President Obama wiretapped him than there was the moment he made it on Saturday morning.
[20:00:07] There is however a full-blown firestorm raging over it right now in Washington. We'll bring you the very latest on that in just a moment.
First, though, the genesis of the claim that prompted FBI Director James Comey to go so far as to ask the Justice Department to actually refute it over the weekend. Just think about that for a moment, the nation's top lawman asking in essence for a public denunciation of the sitting president of the United States. That's where we are tonight.
Let's just take a moment, though, to look at where we got here. Saturday morning, the president is at Mar-a-Lago, according to "The Washington Post", still steaming over his White House staff and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from any investigation involving Russia and the Justice Department.
So, at 6:35 a.m., he tweets, quote, "Terrible! Just found out that President Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
Then at 6:52, "I bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October just prior to the election."
And then just after 7:00 a.m., "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate, bad or sick guy."
Finally, after accusing the 44th president of the United States of perhaps the worst crime since Watergate, President Trump tweets again, this time attacking Arnold Schwarzenegger and once again mentioning the ratings and the TV show "The Apprentice".
Anyway, later on, Saturday, the White House apparently caught by surprise by the president's tweets, demands a congressional investigation of the threats to the republic, not the ratings of "The Apprentice". That's public knowledge.
Now, you might imagine for the president to accuse the former president of illegal behavior, he must have had some serious evidence to back up those charges. In fact, as president, he could have called up the Department of Justice and found out if a FISA warrant for surveillance at Trump Tower had been requested. He could have also decided to declassify theoretically any such request if he wanted to and make it public.
There's no evidence he's done any of that. As for any evidence the president had before tweeting, keeping him honest tonight, if it exists, we have certainly yet to see it. His information appears to come from conservative radio hosts and websites and the basis for their story as yet unverified reporting from the BBC, "The Guardian" and a new British website "Heat Street" on Obama administration efforts last year to get court permission to monitor four Trump team members suspected to have regular contact with Russia.
That reporting has so far not been matched by U.S. news organizations with prior good contacts in the intelligence community. Now, it's important to point out that none of these British outlets or the conservative outlets in the U.S. that are pushing this story reported that President Obama either ordered or sought wiretaps on then Mr. Trump. That's what the president himself claims Saturday morning. And the White House, that's what they've been playing catch-up on it ever since.
Earlier today, speaking off camera, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, and I'm quoting, "There has been enough reporting strongly suggesting something occurred." Now, just to be clear, that reporting may only consist of those several British outlets and administration spokespeople talking about either those unverified reports or simply the story itself, a story they gave oxygen to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think there have been quite a few reports. I know that Jonathan and others earlier in the program mentioned that it was all conservative media, but that's frankly not true. "The New York Times," BBC have also talked about and reported on the potential of this having had happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's deputy White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday.
Keeping them -- her honest, "The Times" did indeed talk about the story but only in the context the president said it and that it was unproven.
Ms. Sanders was pressed on it again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: It's his information that President Obama tapped his phone based solely on something he read in the media, yes or no?
SANDERS: Look, I haven't had the chance to have the conversation directly with the president. And he's at a much higher classification than I am. So, he may have access to documents that I don't know about, but I do know that we take this very seriously and we think it should be thoroughly reviewed and investigated and we're asking Congress to do their job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, former intelligence officials have come forward to deny that there was wiretapping, including the last director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who would have any knowledge of any court request that would be needed to wiretap then-candidate Trump or his campaign.
This is certainly not the first time we should point out that Mr. Trump has trafficked in unsubstantiated claims or outright falsehoods. Accusing President Obama of not being born in the United States is one, saying the election was rigged, and as president, making claims about the size of his inaugural crowd, not to mention the claim that 3 million or more undocumented immigrants voted illegally thus depriving him of a popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton. On that one, he said he was going to launch an investigation into that whopper of a story. But we have not heard about that investigation in quite a while.
I want to talk more now on all this, the impact it is having at the White House from our Jeff Zeleny, who joins us from the north lawn.
So, what is the reaction been from the White House today?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, from the president himself, it's been utterly silent. This is the first weekday of his time here in office where he has not had a single public event. He did not have a photo-op. He had no ability to appear in front of a camera or so reporters could ask him a question about this.
[20:05:03] But the White House is standing by him, defending him, but not talking as definitively as him. They're saying if this happened, you know, this maybe happened, we should get to the bottom of this -- but certainly not as definitive as his statement on Saturday morning.
But our Sara Murray caught up with Sean Spicer later today and she asked him about that congressional investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has made very clear that he wants the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to look into anything in the 2016 election that may or may not have been proper with respect to wiretaps or surveillance. We hope that they do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, this is now landing in the laps of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees already looking into the whole Russian situation here. But frankly, Republicans, as well as Democrats -- let's start with Republicans -- simply also didn't know what the president was talking about. Senator Marco Rubio, who is a member of that Intelligence Committee, says he has no idea what the president is talking about here.
So, the burden will be on this White House again to defend this. And even though the president was not asked about it today, you know, he will be in future, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Jeff, first of all, when you said he had no opportunity to be in front of reporters. I mean, he signed an executive order today on the travel ban --
COOPER: -- which in the past he's always been very public about, he's had reporters in, you know, even holding up the executive order. So they just chose not to have him in front of reporters today.
ZELENY: Exactly. They could have had multiple photo opportunities. They could have had him in various settings.
I was very surprised that he was signing that executive order essentially in private in the Oval Office. He did not have reporters in there or cameras in. And as you've said, on other executive orders he signs, he goes to great lengths to take pride in this.
And this is something he believes in, of course, this travel ban. He campaigned on this. But today, he signed it in complete silence with the exception of a few aides.
COOPER: And, Jeff, there is more information coming out about FBI Director James Comey's reactions to President Trump's allegations. What are you hearing?
ZELENY: He's incredulous about this, and that word is by design. Our Pamela Brown reported earlier today that the FBI director is simply furious by this. He thinks it makes the bureau look bad. So, he sent word over the weekend to get sort of out the fact that the FBI did not believe this. He was asking the Justice Department to push back on this as well.
Now, he has not made a public comment here about that, but he did send word through his advisers and he says he's incredulous about this. I mean, he's very sensitive to how the bureau looks at all of this. But interestingly this evening, Sean Spicer when asked if the president stood by his FBI director, he did not answer that question.
Of course, important to point out, the FBI director does not serve at the pleasure necessarily of the president. He's on a staggered term. But the president has spoken out, of course, in favor of him before.
So, watch to see if the director goes public with his deep sense of dissatisfaction over this.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, Jeff, thanks.
Joining us now is Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director and author of "Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror."
General Hayden, thanks so much for being here.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, you obviously would know this subject better than just about anybody who served under multiple presidents, I should point out. Is it even possible for a president of the United States to direct the wiretapping of a presidential nominee? I mean, there are laws.
HAYDEN: It's not possible for the president of the United States to direct the wiretapping of any U.S. person, an American citizen anywhere in the world or anyone in the United States.
Back in the 1970s, what we did was to take that authority -- because of some of the abuses --
HAYDEN: --- that existed at that time, took that authority away from the executive branch and planted it squarely in an Article III Court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. So the only way anyone gets an authority to target an American's communication is to go to that court and get a warrant, proving that the target is either, (a), the agent of a foreign power or, (b), involved in criminal activity.
COOPER: Now, if the president of the United -- and that's done for the Department of Justice?
HAYDEN: It's done within the Department of Justice. And, in fact, the process is such that I suppose the president could get a window into it if he worked hard, but it's designed fundamentally to keep the political branches out of the process, to keep it in the judicial branch.
COOPER: But if the president had done that, the director of the FBI would certainly know -- I mean, they're the ones I assume would do the wiretapping?
HAYDEN: So, you've got kind of two baskets, Anderson, that you can do this. You can do it as a foreign intelligence purpose or you can do it as a counterintelligence or law enforcement.
COOPER: So, it might be NSA? HAYDEN: So, it might be under Jim Clapper, the DNI over here, or it
might be under Jim Comey, the director of FBI over here.
COOPER: That's why the fact that both Clapper and Comey have come out --
HAYDEN: Both come out. Jim, explicitly, actually yesterday was given an opportunity to defer the question. And he said, "No, I'll answer it. I'll deny it."
[20:10:01] And now, we've got reports indirectly that Director Comey is in the same position.
Is it -- and just to be clear -- I mean, is it true that President Trump could have called up the Director of National Intelligence or the director of the FBI --
HAYDEN: True (ph).
COOPER: -- to ask them about this, was a warrant sent to a FISA court?
HAYDEN: Sure. Now, look, there are probably some sensitivities here as to an ongoing investigation and how much you tell one of the political branches, the president. And, frankly, we're off the map here. This has never happened before.
But it's my expectation that a president could get, if he simply asked, sufficient information that would allow him to answer the kinds of questions that he raised in the tweets.
COOPER: And if a president wanted to declassify whatever was presented to a FISA court, could he?
HAYDEN: He could. He is the declassification god. And, Anderson, he did. If this tap actually took place -- and we don't know that it did -- but if it did, in the act of tweeting, President Trump declassified it.
COOPER: It is a classified -- the very application --
HAYDEN: It's a very -- look, it is very sensitive classification system. So, imagine we've got a shop FBI, or NSA, maybe a hundred folks in it, and you're going to do something under FISA? There may be only three or four folks in that large shop that are actually privy to that and the collection from the FISA authorization is kept segregated from all the other collections.
COOPER: So, assuming -- it seems like the president did this based on what he read on Breitbart or what he heard on conservative radio -- but assuming he did have inside information, the fact that he then tweeted it out is actually revealing classified information?
HAYDEN: Well, it's not if he tweets it in the actual -- COOPER: He doesn't have to first declassify it?
HAYDEN: No, he -- I mean, he doesn't because he is the president. And what he chooses to make public is public.
I said earlier today, Anderson, that it seemed like the president forgot for just a moment that he was the president and that he could actually get the answer to these questions by simply asking the questions.
COOPER: Unless it wasn't really a serious question that he was asking. I mean, there's other theories --
COOPER: -- of possibilities.
HAYDEN: Sure. But it was a serious question and if this were a serious issue --
COOPER: The president can pick up a phone and find out.
HAYDEN: -- there are avenues open to him to get answers. And, look, he could have said to Comey and the acting director of national intelligence: get on an airplane, get down here, I'm going to talk to you before dinner and I want answers. And they'd have been there.
COOPER: The -- CNN is reporting that Comey asked the Department of Justice to formally address and denounce the allegations. You and Director Comey obviously both served in the Bush administration. Do you feel he should come forward? I mean, because this -- again, we're in uncharted waters.
HAYDEN: Yes, exactly right.
COOPER: That would be a public rebuke of the president.
HAYDEN: It would be -- it would be a very difficult decision for someone serving in the executive branch, all right?
Now, let's review history here. I have great admiration for Director Comey, but we have a history. We're on different sides of an issue in March of 2004 with regard to the president's terrorist surveillance program. And if you recall the history at that time, Director Comey went into President Bush and said, if we did not stop this program, he would resign.
So, you know, Jim has taken some pretty hard stances in the past.
COOPER: The -- earlier today, the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that he would not say if the president had confidence in Comey. Have you ever seen an administration so early on so at odds with the intelligence community?
HAYDEN: No. I mean, this is unprecedented. So, just take what happened over the weekend. I would imagine that the people, the leadership of NSA, the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, it's kind of gone to battle stations if for no other reason than to defend themselves against the implicit charge from the president that they were party to a felony in terms of collecting against a presidential candidate.
COOPER: Is it dangerous undermining, do you believe, the intelligence community?
HAYDEN: Look, these are good people. I know these people, all right? They're going to go do their duty, all right? They've worked for Republicans, they've worked for Democrats. They want to make American policy as wise as possible by making the president as wise as possible. And so, they're going to press ahead.
Mike Pompeo is going to work hard to represent them, to keep them focused on their mission. But, Anderson, they're human beings. This cannot help but have an effect on the morale, their spirit, their determination.
COOPER: Can I just ask on a personal basis, for you who dedicated your life to service and to the U.S. intelligence community in a variety of capacities, to hear the president of -- the sitting president of the United States -- I mean, one thing for somebody campaigning to say something -- sitting president of the United States to say, to raise questions about the intelligence community in this particular way? What does it feel like?
[20:15:00] HAYDEN: So, my first instinct is I want to get angry, all right? And I try to discipline myself not to do that, and I focus on this as a great sadness. This is a community that exists to serve the president of the United States, and he's done things over the past more than 45 days, even as president-elect, that seems to put him at odds with an intelligence community again that exists only to serve him.
COOPER: There is a lot of talk about the deep state --
COOPER: -- and the idea -- not a lot of people have heard of before, but this idea that there is this, you know, this entity within the U.S. government, particularly within the intelligence community.
COOPER: And maybe it's because they're angry at the president or they're holdovers from a Democratic administration, whatever it is, that there's this alternate state that is basically trying to have a silent hidden coup against the president or subvert the president.
HAYDEN: So, let me address that. So, I've heard deep state, all right? I generally heard it referred to Turkey or Moldova or Russia, not to the American republic. So, I kind of reject it.
Let me use the term, "the permanent government", all right? Let me take my old agency, CIA, and let's just take a really quick look at recent history, all right?
We've had three transitions since 2000 and the transition to President George W. Bush, no one changed at CIA. He kept George Tenet on. Eight years later, President Obama became president. Only one person changed at CIA. Me. In fact, President Obama called my deputy Steve Kappes to convince Steve and the rest of the staff to stay on.
And then eight years later, with President Trump, two people changed at the CIA, Director Pompeo and his deputy. The rest of the workforce, Anderson, are intelligence career professionals. They work for Republicans, they work for Democrats. They vote, they have views, but as professionals, they know what they have to do.
COOPER: I want to ask you, your book "Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror". You raise the question about how to balance the security of the United States and the individual liberty, which is obviously a question that's been weighed for generations. It's certainly relevant when it comes to the administration's new travel ban --
COOPER: -- in the executive order.
I am wondering what your thoughts are on that, because when President Trump initially instituted this, he said, look, it's got to happen right away or else we can't have a waiting period or else the terrible people are going to flood in, and it's these seven states and it's based on what the Obama administration sought to do after there were some incident with two Iraqi refugees and also the Republican- controlled Congress at the time did, and that's why it's these seven countries.
And then once that didn't work out and you had secretary of state actually weigh in, director of homeland security actually weigh in, Iraq was taken off the list, totally makes sense to me as a strategic standpoint.
What do you make of this new one?
HAYDEN: So, I think the new executive order is a far better implementation of what is still a fundamentally a flawed policy, all right?
COOPER: Flawed because it doesn't protect the U.S.?
HAYDEN: Flawed because it's based on flawed assumptions. Two assumptions I think are flawed. Number one, that there was this imminent near catastrophic threat to the United States from immigrants and particularly refugees. And, frankly, I just don't think that's true. I think this was overhyped during the campaign.
The other half is that we have an absolutely dysfunctional system for vetting who we allow into this country. I mean, the president has said we have no idea who these people are. Actually, we do. We actually have a very strict vetting process. I would even call it from time to time "extreme".
COOPER: Even in a place, if they're coming from Syria, where we're not -- we don't have connections with Syrian intelligence, where we can't --
HAYDEN: Look, it's hard, all right? That's why we only took into this country last year 10,000 Syrian refugees. Eighty-five percent of them were women and children. And the average vetting time for those human beings was 18 to 24 months. So, what is it we're going to have coming out of the end of this relook that's going to make this any more thorough?
COOPER: And does it hurt?
HAYDEN: By the way, if we do -- good.
COOPER: Does it hurt the U.S. in trying to work with Muslim allies or --
HAYDEN: So, it would be bad enough with the human cost that it imposes on the weakest, the most fragile of the world's people. But it's beyond that.
I think, Anderson -- and this is a little indirect but I think it's really important. It lives the narrative of our enemy. Our enemy that isolated radical branch of Islam tells the rest of Islam, "They hate us, they all hate us. They don't want us."
COOPER: That this is a war against Islam.
HAYDEN: There is a war between civilizations. And frankly, the second and third order effects of the executive order, particularly the way it was wrote out in first place and the campaign rhetoric that was wrapped around it, has us living the narrative of the part of Islam that says this is a war between civilizations.
[20:20:08] That's a losing hand.
COOPER: General Hayden, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: The book "Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror," thanks again.
Coming up next, will Congress investigate? Is there anything to investigate? Reaction on Capitol Hill, including some comments John McCain just made.
Later, president's second try at the travel, which we just discussed. We have an exclusive interview with the Washington state attorney general who successfully challenged the first one. We'll talk to him about the second one. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: We're talking about President Trump's exclusive. He had unsubstantiated claim that President Obama, quote, "had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory." He did not cite intelligence briefings nor court filings or anything from the Justice Department or the FBI. He didn't cite anything.
His spokespeople are citing British media reports, none of which has been corroborated. All of which are based on unnamed sources and have not been verified by other news outlets, which actually have prior proven sources in the U.S.
More now on how this is playing out on Capitol Hill from CNN's Manu Raju who joins us now.
So, how are Republicans responding at this point to the wiretapping claims?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, they don't really know how to react, Anderson, because they don't know if it's true or not. This comes, even including some of the Republicans who are in a position to get some evidence to determine whether or not this is true, like members on the intelligence committee. Susan Collins of Maine being one, Marco Rubio in other saying they're not sure what the president is referring to.
And others are concerned that it could be a distraction like Mike Rounds of South Dakota telling me today it could detract from the Republican agenda.
I talked to key Republicans, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, about this. And I asked Lindsey Graham this, is this a distraction? This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's not a distraction as much as it is unnerving. If it's true, it's earth shattering. Again, I don't know --
RAJU: And if it's not true?
GRAHAM: And if it's not true, then we don't need to be passing it on. I don't know why the president believes this, the current president believes this about the former president, but I'm sure there's a reason and it's up to him to explain.
[20:25:08] But it really is up to Congress. He's challenged the Congress to investigate.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think that the president of the United States should provide any evidence that he might have that would corroborate a charge of this seriousness. It is a very serious charge and one that needs corroboration and favor of Congress continuing the investigation. But, first, I believe the president should tell the American people what evidence he has that this kind of action was carried out by the previous president.
RAJU: Should it be a special prosecutor at this point?
MCCAIN: I think we ought to know what the president's statement is as to what evidence he has that would lead to his conclusion that his predecessor violated the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, says that he is looking into evidence and will take this investigation into where the evidence leads but not explicitly looking into this issue. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that they will look into this issue of surveillance even if the top Democratic on that committee, Anderson, says that these tweets by Donald Trump are, quote, "outlandish and destructive."
COOPER: Manu Raju, thanks very much.
Joining us now is Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki, former Georgia Republican Congressman Ryan Kingston, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for "The New York". Also, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, she's a contributor to "The Hill".
Van Jones is here. He's got another "MESSY TRUTH" town hall coming up on Wednesday night, right here at 9:00. And Republican strategist Kristen Soltis-Andersen here. She's a columnist for "The Washington Examiner" and the author of "The Selfie Vote: Were Millennials are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up". Also with us, CNN political analyst and premiere investigative reporter, Carl Bernstein.
So, Ryan, I mean, the two main possibilities are basically President Trump is either wrong about all of this or he's correct and there was a FISA court warrant, in which case it means a judge was convinced that there was enough there there to actually issue a warrant which is not good news for the president.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's what's interesting about this. He's sort of taken a piece of information that's been in the ether, been in some of these reports, and turned it into -- in the partisan debate over this turned it into something that makes him look like the victim, right?
So, if indeed we give this some validity, if indeed the FBI went to the FISA court and convinced the FISA court that Trump or someone else in Trump Tower was the agent of a foreign government, which is the standard you need to meet in order for us to conduct surveillance on someone on American soil, well, that's a big story, right? That means that Trump or someone in his organization was acting as an agent of a foreign government or if it was a non-FISA warrant, then he had to convince a court that there's underlying -- there's probable cause of an underlying crime. So, either way, either of those sets of facts would be very, very troubling, right?
COOPER: Right. And we should point out, Comey has said it didn't happen, and Clapper, who would have been involved in the intelligence side.
LIZZA: And then the third possibility, which is even more earth shattering, would be that Barack Obama somehow had the ability to conduct surveillance on someone in Trump tower that was outside of all of the legal means. And I don't think anyone believes that.
COOPER: Carl Bernstein, I mean, we've been careful. Obviously, with any comparisons to Watergate throughout all this, but given President Trump has now himself making that comparison, is it apt? And the argument about, you know, some Republicans we just heard from saying this might be a distraction, Democrats are saying and people that don't support President Trump might be saying this is a distraction by the president to get people not talking about Russia but in a way it continues the conversation about Russia.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's a real suggestion that the latter is the case, that this is a diversion created by the president of the United States to change the narrative and to make it seem that there is this deep state that we were talking about a few minutes ago on the air and that the deep state is responsible for trying to delegitimize Donald Trump as the president of the United States and that the Obama White House and the president himself, Barack Obama, tried to wiretap him. The latter, of course, is absurd and is outrageous.
But is it possible that there is an intercept of some kind of some communication with Trump Tower by one of the U.S. intelligence agencies? It's certainly possible. But to accuse the president of the United States, your predecessor, of being bad and sick, and saying Nixon Watergate is both outrageous and wrong, and this is a diversion and it's intended to create a political narrative, an alternative narrative that gets the supporters of Donald Trump incensed and making the conduct of the Democrats somehow the issue in this as opposed to the Russians and Donald Trump and the people around him.
COOPER: Yes. We're going to bring in the rest of the panel after a quick break. Show you what the White House is saying about President Trump's confidence on FBI Director James Comey or what he's not saying. A source tells us Comey was incredulous about the president's tweets.
And later, House Republicans release their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. What we now know about the plan when we continue.
COOPER: We're talking about the latest unfounded theory the president is promoting on Twitter that President Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower in the weeks leading up to the election. There's zero evidence for this. Multiple former senior officials are dismissing this as nonsense.
And as we reported, a source tells CNN that FBI Director James Comey was "incredulous" about the president's allegation. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about President Trump's view of Comey right now whether he has the president's confidence. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims. I don't think Director Comey has actually commented on anything that he has allegedly said.
So, I'm not going to comment on what people say he might have said. I think the director is more than capable of speaking for himself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what about the presidency of the FBI director?
SPICER: I haven't asked him that yet. I think obviously he's focused today first and foremost on this effort to keep the country safe.
[20:35:03] COOPER: Back now with the panel. Congressman Kingston, you know, this whole notion -- I mean, Donald Trump, if he really wanted to get to the bottom of this, there doesn't need to be a congressional investigation because he could -- as General Hayden was saying earlier, he could pick up the phone and get the information himself. He could declassify it.
JACK KINGSTON (R), FMR US CONGRESSMAN, GEORGIA: I think he could very quickly. I think the Intel committee is going to turn it around very quickly as well.
COOPER: Faster than a phone call? Did he really believe that -- wouldn't he just pick up the phone?
KINGSTON: I think he could. And, you know, I mean, I'm not going to put another conspiracy theory out there, but maybe he did, maybe he did before he tweeted that and maybe there is something that he knows. You know, nothing is impossible in this political environment. But I think --
COOPER: Do you believe, though, at 6:20 in the morning in Mar-a-Lago --
KINGSTON: You know, I listened to Mark Levin's full statement on this. And I think he was the guy who really kicked this thing off.
COOPER: Sure yes. Breitbart reported this on Mark Levin.
KINGSTON: Yes. And he -- but he quoted McClatchy, Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian, and he said they're all alluding to law enforcement surveillance of Trump at Trump connections to Russia. And so, I think under the idea of, you know, one side always uses anonymous sources and --
COOPER: Right. Right. But let's just zero in on that. Because actually, the reporting on the -- actually, you know, in order to do that, you would need a FISA Court unless you're -- he's alleging that this was some sort of secret -- KINGSTON: You know, I think -- but we do know --
COOPER: And the only reporting on the FISA stuff --
KINGSTON: There was an application for a FISA Court order in June, and apparently there was in October.
COOPER: Right. But this is according to Heat Street which doesn't really have a firm track record with its sources in intelligence --
KINGSTON: But remember, "New York Times", January 19th, had an article that said that there has been evidence intercepted, which is a really strange word, intercepted on communication and transaction between the Trump -- or the Trump/Russia connection in the campaign. Where did that come from?
COOPER: Right. Well, I can tell you. I mean, intercepts on the most obvious theories, intercepts on the Russian ambassador would not be out of the realm of, I mean, possibility or --
KINGSTON: But this really -- this one, about the Flynn, I would say yes, you know. They were following the Russian ambassador and that's how they found out about the Flynn phone call. But this was a different -- this was about a computer that had a connection to a bank from the Trump campaign. So --
COOPER: Right, in Trump Tower. Jen, would --
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. I think there's a couple scenarios here that we've already talked about. Either this is completely false or the Justice Department and the FBI had enough information to get a warrant from a FISA Court and they did that, and they have every authority to do that. So --
COOPER: Or a criminal court.
PSAKI: Or a criminal court, you're right. So, there's two options as you've already talked about in your show. So, the question is why on earth would there be an investigation? What are we even talking about here?
And the effort to do that or the proposal to do that by the Trump team seems to be another in a pattern of calling for an internal or external investigation to move the focus away from the larger issue at hand, which is their connections to Russia.
COOPER: I mean, Kayleigh -- I do keep coming back to the ease with which the president could just pick up a phone and find out this information if he wanted to.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes. He could do that with ease. And I do think that we will get more information on this as the days go by. I don't think the timeline is necessarily suggestive of their being no information.
To Congressman Kingston's point, that January 19th New York Times article, the headline was actually wiretap data used in inquiry of Trump aides. Now, I agree with you that perhaps it's not wiretapping of Trump directly, perhaps it was tapping, you know, a Russian official and pursuant to that, there were intercepted communications perhaps it was tapping someone else within his organization.
But it is still an extraordinary concept that even if it was pursuant to a criminal investigation, as Jen suggests, that you would have a sitting Democratic administration --
COOPER: But we know this by now, the president could know this by now by picking up the phone if he really believed this. And if he's really that mad about this, he can find out the information. He's the most powerful guy in the United States, in the world.
MCENANY: He might have that information, though. And I know that his White House counsel has been working to try to figure out this information, get it out there. I just think it's --
COOPER: Right. But if he had that information, why is he saying that it's President Obama who did this personally and why is he calling for a Congressional investigation to find out when in fact he can find out --
KINGSTON: He may be sending a signal that I think some on Capitol Hill need to hear.
COOPER: -- ask questions later.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST THE MESSY TRUTH: Obvious thing. This is obvious thing. The guy, you know, worked in the White House, as did you, this is weird. This is bizarre. This is not how it's done. Usually when you have a president, the words that come out of the president's mouth for the staff are precious.
You go through incredible amounts of work vetting back and forth, argue (ph), can he say this, can he say that, take that comma out. I literally was in meetings arguing about commas and semicolons.
[20:40:02] Because when the president says it, the whole world is going to take this very, very seriously. And so, if it's true, here's my problem, maybe you're right, maybe it is true, maybe he knows.
This is the worst possible way then to go about exposing possibly the biggest crime committed by any president. You don't tweet it out in the morning. And we got to stop pretending this sort of stuff is normal. This is not normal.
COOPER: By the way, this is the same president who has also suggested the largest voter fraud in the history of this country and called for an investigation, but that was a couple weeks ago and it's --
(CROSSTALK) KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: -- that Donald Trump benefits from is the fact that a lot of Americans, if you ask them, who do you trust more, Donald Trump or the media?
Most Donald Trump voters unsurprisingly a surprising swath of the American public says, look I would trust Donald Trump if something that he said directly contradicted something that the media said.
Now, granted the media is also not a monolith. What's sort of bizarre about this is that in this case, it's the president trusting the media, if you count sort of Breitbart or Mark Levin and the media over his own government. So, the reason this can exist is because you have this scrambling of who feels they can trust whom whether it's the government, the media --
RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's even more bizarre than that. Because the underlying stories that Breitbart and Levin are relying on are from, as you were pointing out, the BBC, I believe --
COOPER: The Guardian and Heat Street.
KINGSTON: The Guardian, The New York Times.
LIZZA: Heat Street, yes.
MCENANY: New York Times.
LIZZA: So, there were some credible reports that there was a FISA warrant, right?
PSAKI: These credible reports weren't about President Obama ordering it.
COOPER: And by the way, Mark Levin and Breitbart were not saying that President Obama ordered this. The president has made that.
KINGSTON: But remember this when we talk about Bizarroland. Here, we have all Democrats throughout the Fruited Plain yesterday embracing James Clapper because he said he would have known about it and it did not happen.
Now, this was the same guy that three years ago they wanted to convict of perjury because he said that the federal government was not gathering information on American citizens, and then (inaudible) and Edward Snowden --
COOPER: Carl, go ahead.
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I want to cut to the chase here. You know, the president referred the Watergate here, the Nixon/Watergate. The great thing that happened in Watergate was that the heroes of Watergate were Republicans. They were Republicans in the Senate who unanimously voted to create a select committee to investigate the presidential campaign activities of 1972.
And we have seen nothing similar from the Republicans in this, which is to say the creation of a nonpartisan investigation, a bipartisan investigation, a select committee of the senate of the United States or a special prosecutor that gets to the bottom of this including President Trump's allegations about his predecessor, that's what's needed here, there's a fair, impartial, non or bipartisan investigation. And it can look at --
KINGSTON: There hasn't been a crime.
BERNSTEIN: -- what, first of all, there was not -- the fact that there is no -- Jack, Jack, Jack, that has not -- there has been, as we know, an election in the United States with 16 or 17 intelligence agencies of the United States have said was altered or attempted to be altered by a hostile foreign power. If that's not enough reason to have a select -- let me finish, Jack, just a minute.
COOPER: We've got to take a break. So Carl, just finish your thought.
BERNSTEIN: If that's not enough reason for a select committee of the Senate of the United States to go ahead, there does not need -- there does not need to be a crime, Jack. There have been numerous select investigations. You should know this as a legislator.
COOPER: A break into a computer is it doesn't have to be a break into an office anymore --
BERNSTEIN: Jack, Jack, it's time to get off the talking points. It's time to get real about learning what happened. That's what Republicans ought to be concerned about.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break.
Coming up, we're going to have more on this. Also travel ban take two. President Trump signs a revised version of his executive order targeting refugees and travel from several Muslim-majority countries. We'll look at what's different and what has stayed the same. And we'll speak with the attorney general from Washington who got the first version of the travel ban blocked.
[20:47:12] COOPER: It is take two for the travel ban. President Trump signed a revised version of his executive order temporarily suspending the refugee program and travel from now a six majority Muslim countries. Iraq is off the list this time. Some changes.
People who have already have a green card or visa from one of the other six can still travel here. Officials can allow others in -- as well on a case by case basis. Syrian refugees are no longer banned indefinitely. And the new order removes language that seems to allow preferential treatment to Christians. Joining us now from exclusive interview Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson who successfully challenged the first version of the travel ban.
Attorney General Ferguson, what is your reaction to this because it seems that this executive order is designed to have addressed many of the issues which you raised successfully in court in Washington?
BOB FERGUSON ATTORNEY GENERAL WASHINGTON: Yes. Good evening, Anderson. Thanks for having me on again. And, yes, the bottom line really from our perspective is that on many of the key aspects of our litigation that we brought over a month ago, that this is essentially capitulation by President Trump and his administration. You listed a number of the parts of this original executive order that have now been eliminated. So I think it's fair to say that on many key provisions they've essentially conceded that they can no longer defend that in court.
COOPER: You see this as capitulation by the president?
FERGUSON: Yes. No, I mean, hey, they said, for example does not apply to green card holders. That's about 500,000 people in the United States. It does not apply to those who had visas already from the affected countries. That's tense of thousands of individuals in addition. Does not apply to Syrians on a permanent basis. And these are major, major concessions by President Trump.
And despite his tweet, you know, a few weeks ago saying, "See you in court", his attorneys have done everything they can before the Ninth Circuit and Judge Robart in the trial court to avoid seeing us in court. They filed motion after motion seeking delays in proceedings. So, no, there's no question in my mind that the president realized that the original executive order was indefensible and frankly four federal judges agreed with that.
COOPER: The fact that this was delayed even after the president made, you know, his remarks to both Houses and Congress, it was supposed to be ruled out the next day. The reporting is that it got pushed back in order to allow the White House to kind of bask in the glow of the positive reception his talks gave. Does that point to some inaccuracies when the Trump administration early on in your opinion was saying this has to be done immediately because otherwise bad people are going to rush in under the current system?
FERGUSON: Yes. You know, Anderson, I hope that those reports that the president delayed this because he wanted to bask in the glow of his address to Congress is not true. Because, you're right, the president had said this was all about national security, it can't wait another day. So, I hope those reports are not true.
[20:50:01] He also mentioned when he signed the original executive as, you know, it went to effect immediately which caused chaos at airports all around the country. This new executive order of course does not go into effect until next Thursday. So it has about a 10-day caution before it goes into effect. Yet, one more recognition that that original order was frankly illegal and unconstitutional.
COOPER: Supposed that the White House said there wasn't chaos, that everything went smooth. Attorney General Ferguson, I'll let your reaction stand for your response. I want to play some of what the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly had to say today on CNN about the new travel ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Clearly the courts have decided that they are in a position to understand the threat against the United States better than people like me or the intelligence agencies. So at this point in time, with a 30-day delay, generally speaking because of the court action, we wanted to roll this out in a way that we did not have the opportunity to do the first time around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What's your reaction to that?
FERGUSON: Well, I guess I'm confused by that. They had the opportunity originally, to have a thoughtful, internal conversation and consult with the right stakeholders to put together a travel ban that at least had some depth and thought to it. It was really keystone cops in the original roll out that executive order. And I think the coverage that your network and others showing the chaos at airports around the country is strong evidence of that.
So, look, it's a -- so there's very little that can be said about that first executive order that'll be complementary of the president. From my perspective, look, if an executive who is either a governor or a mayor of a major city or even a mayor of a small city would be embarrassed I think by the way that original executive order was rolled out. They're reporting out there rolling that order as an executive.
COOPER: I want to bring in Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Do you -- Jeff, do you think the White House has covered themselves legally speaking?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think they've come a lot closer. I think this is much more likely to be upheld by the courts. Basically, the first executive order was seen as a Muslim ban, as a form of religious discrimination. They have taken out the religious content, they have taken out the special preference for Christians and they have also explained that it's not Muslim countries that we are objecting to immigrants from, it's countries where there is no functioning government or a terrorist-supporting government that we, we don't want to trust.
So those get the order out of the realm of unconstitutional discrimination and the president has a lot of power here when it comes to immigration, and I think he exercised it fairly.
COOPER: I mean, it isn't seen though that Jeff, the same administration that denied there was no problematic with the first rollout is now saying, well, this should go seemingly.
TOOBIN: Right. And they were very, they were very careful to say in their announcement today, we believe the first executive order is constitutional, but we made this change. I mean, I think that's just politics. I think when it comes to the law, they got some real lawyers involved and real lawyers did what they (inaudible).
COOPER: And now the secretary of state and Homeland Security involved as well which is why Iraq is now off the list.
COOPER: Attorney General Ferguson, I mean, what is next for you? Do you anticipate taking new legal action against this new executive order?
FERGUSON: So what we'll do Anderson is though we did about five weeks ago when the first executive order came out. We'll talk to our clients, we'll talk to our universities and our colleges. We're already reaching out to businesses that supported us on the first executive order. And what we'll do is find out what harm is coming to Washingtonians and the State of Washington as the result of this revised executive order.
We'll take a look at that and we'll have a thoughtful conversation about whether or not it makes sense for us to proceed with litigation in light of this new, revised executive order. It does -- and that is as Jeff said, apply to a much smaller group of individuals. But we still want to make sure we're doing our homework on determining what harm exists with the new executive order, and then we'll decide what makes the most sense. (Inaudible) anticipate making that decision here sometime this week.
COOPER: You said what harm exists, that does seem to presuppose that there is harm being done.
FERGUSON: We'll see, right? We'll talk to our clients and find out. Hey, do we have students who have been accepted to our universities who wish to travel here but who may not be able to enter via the current executive order or under any other exemptions that are within the executive order. But we want to be careful about this.
I do not take suing the president lightly. And I twice sued the Obama administration, I've now sued the Trump administration, so I have some experience. All successful so far, I might add. But I think the reason we've been successful in Washington State with those litigations is that we do take a thoughtful approach on this.
COOPER: All right, Attorney General Ferguson, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
FERGUSON: You bet, thank you very much.
COOPER: Just ahead, more breaking news. House Republicans have released their plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Will the bill preserves the Affordable Care Act and what does it tell us? We'll look at that ahead.
[20:57:23] COOPER: It's more breaking news on Capitol Hill tonight. House Republicans have unveiled their long-awaited plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Two House committees are expected to vote to the measures early as Wednesday.
Here is what the White House tweeted just a short time ago, "House just introduced the bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, time to end this nightmare". Phil Mattingly joins us with details. Can you take us through what is actually in this new bill?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, here's what's out. The individual mandate and the employer mandate will both be repealed, Anderson. Here's what's staying. Two very popular provisions from ObamaCare, the ability for children to stay under parents' health insurance the age of 26. The ability to ban any type of disputes over maintaining coverage for preexisting conditions so long as that coverage is continuous.
Now, here are the two contentious items. How subsidies will be replaced? The ObamaCare subsidies will be repealed after three years, they'll be replaced by refundable tax credits. Now, this is an issue that conservative have had kind of a major problem with over the course of the last couple of weeks. Republicans trying to address that by capping them based on income. The other big issue here is Medicaid.
Obviously, Anderson, a number of states took the Medicaid expansion that was offered in ObamaCare, including the number of red states. Now, how this would work would be those rules will be continually allowed to grow until January 1st, 2020. So the program wouldn't immediate and the spigot wouldn't immediately be shut off.
Those states that did not take the expansion, they would also get money as well, so they wouldn't be punished. So trying to kind of split the difference there as they try and reach out to as many different constituencies as possible. They know they have a tough road ahead, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Democrats are saying this will not come near to covering as many people as ObamaCare does.
MATTINGLY: Yes, and right. And I think here's kind of the behind the scenes here. What we haven't seen yet is the congressional budget office score. Would that be, you know, this kind of an official tally of how much it cost and how many people will be covered.
Here's what I know from what's been going on behind the scenes. The committees have been trading proposals back and forth with the CDO over the past couple of weeks. And the reality is this, they're going to come far short of the coverage numbers that ObamaCare provides.
And look, when you talk to Republicans, they acknowledge that this was probably going to happen. But we're talking about millions of people here. And when you want to talk about a potent political issue that Democrats are almost certainly going to attack on, this will absolutely be one of them, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly thanks very much. And much more ahead in this hour of "360". Does President Trump have the evidence to back up his extraordinary claim that President Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign? If he can't prove it, what will the fallout be?