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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
WSJ: Trump Plans Intel Agency Shakeup; Obama, Pence Rally Troops for Obamacare Fight; Miners Could Lose Black Lung Benefits If Obamacare Is Nixed; Racist Allegations Sanks Sessions' Federal Court Nomination; Police: Attackers Streamed Beating Live On Facebook. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 4, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, the growing divide between the eyes and ears of the country and the next president of it.
And breaking news, new reporting on what could be the president- elect's plan to restructure big pieces of the intelligence community, including possibly reshaping the CIA. We'll talk to the reporter who broke that story coming up.
Meantime again, today, Mr. Trump cast doubt on the agencies in question on their consensus that Russia hacked the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign chair. Instead he appears to be placing his faith in the man he once said should face the death penalty. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who published what the hackers stole. This comes less than a day after a tweet widely seen as a slap at intelligence agencies, including the people who will be briefing him on the hacking.
Now, it also comes alongside tonight's breaking news which may put a lot of intelligence jobs in flux. A lot more on all that shortly.
But, first, the fight and CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, President-elect Trump escalating his ongoing battle with the U.S. intelligence community tweeting just days before the high profile briefing, "The, quote, 'intelligence' briefing on so-called, quote, 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."
Intelligence officials are pushing back, denying there was ever a delay in the briefing and that it was always scheduled for Friday. Trump also siding with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a man wanted by the U.S. for leaking classified information, who in an interview with FOX News denied Russia had anything to do with handing over the stolen documents from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER: We have said repeatedly in last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not state party.
BROWN: Trump tweeting, "Julian Assange said a, quote, '14-year-old could have hacked Podesta'. Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."
On Capitol Hill today, Vice President-elect Mike Pence defended Trump's skepticism.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: The president-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions.
BROWN: U.S. officials tell CNN Trump's continued public attacks are hurting morale in the intelligence community, with one official saying, "It's a sad day when politicians put more stock in Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange over the Americans who risk their lives providing objective, nonpartisan intelligence analysis."
CNN has learned Trump has already been briefed by intelligence officials on the Russian hacks, but that the comprehensive report due this week will provide a fuller picture of why the U.S. is putting the blame on Russia.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: I would suggest to individuals who have not seen the report or been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments.
COOPER: And Pamela joins us now.
The president-elect has met with intelligence officials in the past. Is there a disconnect between his public and private persona with this community? Do we know?
BROWN: According to intelligence officials I've spoken with, there is a disconnect, Anderson, which is leading to some of that confusion among these officials, because as we've seen publicly, he has been somewhat combative when it comes to the intelligence community's findings, even mocking the assessment as we saw on Twitter last night. That's been going on for months.
But then behind the scenes, privately, it's a different story, I'm told by officials. Donald Trump is very polite, professional, deferential. He'll ask questions at times, but not what you might expect based on what we see playing out publicly.
So, there is this difference there and the hope is, Anderson, after this briefing on Friday between Trump and the leaders of the intelligence community, that relations will improve -- Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela, appreciate the update.
One quick note on a commitment the president-elect made over the weekend to share the inside knowledge he said he had on the hacking, he said he'd do it today at the latest. Today came and went without a word.
Tonight on the other hand, there's new word that President-elect Trump intends to take on the intelligence community in ways that go beyond rhetoric. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting he's planning to, quote, "restructure and pare back the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and perhaps the CIA as well."
Damian Paletta who co-wrote the story joins us now.
Thanks so much for being with us.
So, first of all, this restructuring of the Office of Director of National Intelligence and perhaps the CIA, what are you learning about it?
DAMIAN PALETTA, WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Sure. So, remember, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established after the 2001 terrorist attacks. It has a way to get intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA to share more information so there were no surprises.
Now, a lot of Republicans and Donald Trump's top national security adviser Michael Flynn are very suspicious of DNI. They believe that a lot of the information that comes out of DNI is politicized and spun in a way to kind of make quite frankly Democrats feel better about the intelligence they're getting.
[20:05:09] And with Flynn now in this senior role, he was at the Defense Intelligence Agency and pushed out of that job in 2014 by the Director of National Intelligence. Now, Flynn is in the driver's seat and is prepared to push this proposal that would pare back the DNI, take a lot of its power away from Washington, and essentially make it more of an analysis center and more power quite frankly back in the CIA's hands.
COOPER: And you also write about possible reorganization of the CIA, essentially less people at their headquarters in Langley which is where their analytical branch is and other branches out in the field, and actually trying to get more people out into the field. Is that right?
PALETTA: That's exactly right. I think there's a lot of belief within the Trump organization that people at these headquarters are more susceptible to political pressure. They have more interaction with politicians and they're more likely to say things that the politicians want to hear.
When they're out in the field, whether it's in the Middle East, Russia or elsewhere, they're more likely to focus on intelligence gathering. Now, obviously, the risks are that, you know, decentralized intelligence community maybe they don't share as much information, maybe they kind of miss things, and they're more susceptible to terrorist attacks or other counterintelligence issues.
It's really hard to get that balance right. But I think right now, you know, the Trump phones feel like they need to shake things up and this is the way they should approach the intelligence community.
COOPER: Right. And people out in the field, I mean, those are covert positions. It's the director of operations, which is very different than the analytical branch back in Langley. So, essentially, they're talking about more people in the field, they're talking about more covert operators, more covert operations and that requires people back in the United States supporting them. It also requires a lot more perhaps contractors in the field protecting those assets.
PALETTA: That's right. You're talking about more raw intelligence coming in and maybe not as many analysts in Washington kind of deciphering what that means.
I mean, we have to look what happened over the past month. The Trump folks are upset at the way this news came out about the assessment that the hacking operation last year by the Russians was done in a way to help Trump win. They feel like that's very political and that it undermines his winning the White House. You know, it doesn't make it look like he won fair and square.
And so, they're pushing back and resisting deeply and this is kind of, you know, we wonder what all these tweets are about, why does he keep hammering on this assessment by the CIA, why is he keep promoting Putin on Twitter. This is what it's coming to. Once the election -- once he's inaugurated, this all is going to start rolling, as soon as -- after January 20th.
COOPER: All right. Damian Paletta, appreciate the reporting, thank you.
Plenty to talk about tonight with CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA officer Bob Baer, also former longtime CIA Russian operations officer, Steve Hall, and Jeffrey Lord, "American Spectator" contributing editor and former Reagan White House political director and obviously, a Trump supporter.
Bob, let me start out with you. You were an officer in the field reporting from "The Wall Street Journal." What do you make of the idea of more officers in the field, fewer analysts and others back stateside?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, like everything with Trump, I agree with him. There are too many people back at Langley. You know, you've got to have more people in the field. You've got to streamline your operations. You've got to restore the director of operations.
I know some of the people advising the Trump transition team and they're absolutely right, and they guarantee me there's going to be a bloodbath at the CIA and DNI, Director of National Intelligence.
But, frankly, Anderson, I think this is a sideshow to citing somebody like Assange, a mouthpiece of Russian intelligence or even, you know, taking the word of Vladimir Putin whether he hacked or not. I just find this absolutely extraordinary that Trump would side with the Russians in any sense or Russian agent of influence. You know, it's the twilight zone.
And another thing, this isn't a war against the CIA. Most of this information about the hacking is coming out of the National Security Agency. They've gotten into fiber-optics, the metadata, the code, the Russian code, and Assange going on about a 14-year-old being able to hack John Podesta is nonsense. This is very sophisticated code. That's been established by both the FBI and the National Security Agency.
COOPER: I mean, according to the report "The New York Times" did on how this actually happened, there was a lot of missteps along the way by the DNC who, you know, they got the call from the FBI. They weren't sure it was a real FBI agent calling them.
I mean, it just seemed like a ludicrous cast of characters at the DNC who didn't quite understand the impact of this early on.
BAER: They had no clue how vulnerable they were. And also the Obama administration, let's put guilt where -- it should have done something about this early on and alerted. We should have seen this report right away.
I mean, the Russians are -- this is an act of war as McCain called it. They're after us. It has nothing to do with who is elected president. They are trying to undermine our system, and we have to start dealing with the facts and we're not.
[20:10:04] In citing Julian Assange or Putin and taking their word is, like I said, twilight zone.
COOPER: Steve, what kind of impact does this potential restructuring in the intelligence community? Do you think this is a big deal? Do you think it is a sideshow to what Bob is saying, which the concern over Julian Assange and the president's seeming lack of faith in the intelligence community?
STEVEN L. HALL, FORMER CIA RUSSIAN OPERATIONS OFFICER: Well, first of all, I've got to agree completely with Bob with regard to Julian Assange. I mean, this is a guy who's a fugitive from justice, you know, who's holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London so he doesn't have to face rape charges in Sweden. So, you know, if you got all the members of the intelligence community telling you one thing and you're going with Julian Assange, maybe there's a plan there. I'm just not sure what it is.
But with regard to reorganization, let's not forget that John Brennan also embarked on a reorganization only about two years ago, his modernization plan, which did have some morale issues inside of the agency. But now, you're looking at the president-elect coming in and saying, well, maybe we need to go through that entire process all over again. And reorganizations in any organization, there is a personnel price to pay, there is a morale price to pay.
I do agree with Bob that, you know, yes, nobody's going to disagree that more people in the field, more operatives in the field, that's always a good thing. But there is an important tooth to tail ratio supporting those operations, analytical political stuff that goes on. You know, when you enter into a reorganization, especially before you've set foot in the oval office or before your national security team is in place, before you can see close up what's going on, it's sort of a strange way to go about it in my view.
COOPER: Jeff, what do you make as a Trump supporter, of Donald Trump seemingly siding with Julian Assange and citing Julian Assange, someone he, you know, previously said should get a death sentence?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, you know, he's the outsider, he's the executive. I think that some of this is meant to stir his troops if you will to better performance. I honestly don't know.
I mean, I've listened to the Assange interviews here that Sean Hannity had with him. And, you know, he's quite adamant the Russians weren't involved. I mean, obviously, I don't know.
But I do think -- I mean, Bob is right here. I mean, having been in government, whether it's the Central Intelligence Agency, the director of national intelligence, or Housing and Urban Development or the Justice Department, these organizations can get very, very sclerotic and out of date and get out of date quickly or very ideological in a sense.
So, when you have a new president come in, any new president, but particularly this one, who is an executive's executive, he is going to want, he is going to demand from his employees and the federal government that they produce. And clearly, that's what he's about here with the intelligence field. But I think you'll see this in other areas as well.
COOPER: Bob, do you think what -- to Jeff's point, and I think it's a fair point, you know, is this perhaps just a way to push the intelligence community, push the people who are going to be reporting to him to work harder, to scrub hard on the intelligence, to rethink assumptions, or is it something that kills morale?
BAER: I think Jeff's right. Frankly, I'm surprised I agree with him 100 percent.
BAER: Yes, he needs to stir this -- yes, you know, you're right. You know, it needs to be stirred up.
I mean, Brennan didn't help the director of operations. It was essentially eviscerated by Brennan over the last two years. And the people that Trump is relying on are friends of mine. I don't agree with him politically, but it needs to be reorganized even if the morale is hurt and get it away from politics. If it turns out that this whole hacking, Russian hacking thing is
based on politics, there should be a serious criminal investigation of some sort.
You know, I don't think it was. I think the Russians did hack, but, yes, let Trump -- let his guys get in there and stir it up and make the place efficient. And Trump is absolutely right. In 2003, 2002, with the National Intelligence Estimate, the CIA let everybody down by putting a lot of trash in it, under political pressure, and it's time to correct that.
COOPER: Steve, in terms of getting more CIA officers into the field, that's not something that happens overnight. I mean, the training for it can last for, you know, years, certainly, and just the support personnel. I mean, it was one thing when there were large scale U.S. forces in Iraq, also in Afghanistan, CIA officers could operate with -- in conjunction with the U.S. military and get operational security from them. It's a different scenario now on the ground in a lot of places that they need to operate.
HALL: Yes, no, absolutely. This is -- this is a significant challenge to anybody who's trying to manage operations inside the director of operations. You cannot just come up with these people.
With the area that I'm most familiar with in Russian operations, just training somebody in Russian language can take the better part of a year and a half to two years to get them to the point you want to them, not even including the more specialized training required for some of these tours.
[20:15:09] The same is true for paramilitary type of operations and everything. So, it is indeed quite a challenge and any reorganization is going to have to take that into consideration.
But I think one thing you have to consider again when you're talking about a reorganization, even if it's well-intentioned in terms of getting, you know, more people out into the field, there are morale issues that -- context of this is important is what I'm getting at. You're going to get a lot of younger officers. When you say, I'm going to put you through a long series of training exercises and learning languages and doing things, and, by the way, we're not sure that the president-elect really has much belief in your intelligence and what you're doing -- you put all of that together and get to a tipping point where actual productivity out of the organizations and especially CIA can be threatened.
COOPER: Yes. Bob Baer, Steve Hall, appreciate you being with us. Jeffrey Lord is going to stick around.
We're talking Obamacare next, mainly the president's effort to preserve it, the GOP continue to grapple over replacing it and the political cost of changing a law that affects so many people and so much of the economy.
Later, we'll talk to people in coal country who voted for Donald Trump and may now face actually losing Obamacare benefits. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Well, the tug of war between the incoming and outgoing administrations was in plain view today in Washington. On one side, you had the outgoing President Obama. On the other, incoming Vice President Mike Pence. The flag in the middle, Obamacare, and the question: what will become of it?
Michelle Kosinski tonight reports.
[20:20:01] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): President Obama on Capitol Hill today urging Democrats to battle with all they've got against Republican plans to gut his signature law, Obamacare.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
Looking out for the American people.
KOSINSKI: Democrats don't have the votes to block Republicans. So, his message to avoid, quote, "rescuing them, hoping them craft their replacement."
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The president asked us, are you ready? You have the fight in you. He didn't need to ask us that question.
KOSINSKI: He spurred Democrats to use tactics like the Tea Party did in opposing Obamacare, to go out to town halls, tell the stories there are millions of constituent who benefited from the plan, as well as hold Republicans accountable for what they come up with, the president saying Democrats ought to start calling it Trump care.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: They want to repeal it and try to hang it on us. Not going to happen. It's their responsibility, plain and simple. The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn't make America great again. It would make America sick again and lead to chaos.
KOSINSKI: At virtually the same time, Republicans also girding for this epic fight led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a meeting described by attendees as more pep rally than policy discussion.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: The promises of Obamacare have all been proven to be false. If you like your doctor, you can keep it. Not true. If you like your health insurance, you can keep it. Not true.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This law has failed. Americans are struggling.
KOSINSKI: The president-elect also jumping into the debate, in a series of tweets seeming to warn Republicans not to work too closely with Democrats. "Dems owned the failed Obamacare disaster with its poor coverage and massive premium increases, it will fall of its own weight. Be careful."
The White House today hammered Republicans for not yet presenting a replacement plan and pointing out the Congressional Budget Office estimates that cutting Obamacare could add to the deficit over time.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Republican ideas are actually bad for people. They're bad for the economy. They're bad for small businesses. They have bad ideas.
COOPER: Michelle Kosinski joins us now from the White House.
Do we know -- will President Obama continue to work on this even after he leaves office?
KOSINSKI: You know, it's interesting, as one of the members of Congress was leaving, he said that the president made it clear that he would keep lending his voice to this issue even as a private citizen.
One of the things President Obama did say to lawmakers today was that he envied them, they are still going to be on the field as he put it, fighting for this when he leaves office.
The White House, though, backed away from him getting really involved, at least publicly here. They said he's going to try to do what past former presidents have done and back away. They said the president believes it's time now for others to take the lead. It's time for fresh blood, as they've put it. And he's not going to go engage on a regular basis, although they wouldn't rule out him at times feeling like he wants to lend his voice.
So, I guess it will be on a case-by-case basis. They made it sound like he's going to try to stay out of the fray but they're not going to rule out him jumping in from time to time.
COOPER: Michelle, appreciate it, tonight from the White House. Thanks.
Back now with Jeffrey Lord. Also joining the political panel, former New York City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, New York 1 anchor and longtime Trump watcher, Errol Louis, and CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers.
Kirsten, I mean, Chuck Schumer on the Democratic side is essentially saying, Democrats, their strategy is to try to make Republicans own whatever the ramifications of repealing Obamacare are.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that makes sense. I mean, this is the first chance for Republicans to show how they'll lead now that they have control of all the levers of power in Washington and something they've been promising they want to do for a long time. They've passed bills to repeal Obamacare doesn't of times. And I think everybody's said, well, what are you going to replace it with? And as aptly said, the dog has caught the car and what they're going
to do. They don't know what to do with it, and they don't seem to have any idea other than this maybe repeal and delay where they will repeal it and then sort of kick the can down the field in four years maybe and give them time to come up with a replacement.
COOPER: Errol, I mean, it does seem they would have to have something to replace it because we're talking about tens of millions of people here.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one would hope. I think a complicating factor, as you suggest, there's something like 18 million insurance customers that the insurance industry might not be so eager to shed all of a sudden. So, they'll probably weigh in.
The swamp has not been entirely drained. They are donors. They have lobbyists. They have friends. They will probably make a few phone calls.
My expectation is that there's going to be a big round of finger- pointing and sort of positioning and that what we'll see for sure is some renaming of things. Parts of Obamacare that they want to say they repealed but they're going to have to keep. They'll try and rename it and say it's entirely new and different and rebranded and the kind of compromise that will let everybody kind of move forward rather than impose catastrophe on the health care market.
COOPER: Jeffrey, I mean, the real specific -- I mean, Donald Trump during the campaign was saying all along that he wants to keep coverage on pre-existing conditions.
[20:25:07] He wants to allow them to keep their coverage. Also now, the idea of people as they're older, up to 26 years old can stay on their parents' insurance. But again, there's not a lot of details.
LORD: No, I imagine this will come forth to mean, first of all, you've the Dr. Price, member of Congress, who is going to be the head of HHS, who knows this subject forwards and backwards. You've different members of Congress on the Republican side who likewise know the subject forwards and backwards. I don't have any doubt that this will be forthcoming.
But I would say to Kirsten's point, embrace it. Absolutely. I mean, I don't think President Obama imagine in the beginning that this would be called Obamacare and it would become synonymous with a bad thing.
As I think I may have said on one occasion, I've been stopped by people and this was their gripe running up to the election, a man stopped me in the store. He had a stroke. He had to deal with Obamacare. He was furious, furious with it.
So, the political decision has been made to replace it. So, the Republican Party and the Trump administration I hope should be bold, go out there, and take the credit for it and change it.
POWERS: But I think there are people who actually do like Obamacare. Look, there are problems with it and it needs to be fixed. But it is incredible I think for the Republicans at this point to now be in a position to do this and not have a plan.
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
POWERS: So many times be telling the Democrats you don't know what you're doing, we have a better idea and to literally not have any plan.
LORD: I just don't think that's true, Kirsten. I just think we don't know it.
QUINN: That's slightly ridiculous with all due respect, which is what you say when you're insulting somebody. So that's ridiculous, because we -- throughout the whole campaign, we heard there'd be a plan. Now, they've been up on Capitol Hill trying to take it away with nothing to replace it.
Donald Trump promised I think it was "60 Minutes" interview, nothing would be repealed, people need not worry, until there was something to replace it with. But his vice president is up there saying the totally different message. And this isn't -- shouldn't be about politics.
It's what should be happening.
QUINN: That's not a joke. I think that laugh is really demonstrative of the problem we have. What should be happening is Republicans and Democrats should be listening to Americans, find out what works and what doesn't and together write a plan to fix it.
But all we're seeing now is pivots to, don't own it. People are sick and they need care.
COOPER: But, Christine, if this election was a mandate on whether or not Obamacare works, Donald Trump did win this election.
QUINN: But he won the election, which pains me to say, but it is a fact -- he won this election -- I did it so leave it alone -- well, saying, I'm going to repeal Obamacare and replace it.
Now, he's telling us, we're going to repeal it. Hang on, there will be something maybe tomorrow. There's nothing.
COOPER: Would you agree they have to have something to replace it with immediately?
LORD: Well, I think they should make it as quickly as possible. Yes, because you don't --
QUINN: What happens in those three days if you get sick? LORD: Right, right, you don't want that to happen here. I mean,
these are smart people. Surely they have been talking about this for months and months. I think they've been talking about this for years.
QUINN: Why can't we hear what they've talked about?
LORD: Well, I'm sure you will be.
LORD: The president of the United States this minute, it's not Donald Trump.
QUINN: Then get Pence off of Capitol Hill --
POWERS: The problem for Republicans is that the Obamacare is actually based on a Republican idea. The idea they would have come up with probably is what Obamacare --
LORD: That was Romneycare.
POWERS: It came out of the Heritage Foundation and that really used to be a Republican idea. The only other ideas I've seen and I'm totally open to hearing them are sell across state lines --
POWERS: Anything else? I mean, I really --
POWERS: That's going across state lines.
It really is astonishing that after all this time, the Republicans don't have the health care plan.
COOPER: Those are the buzzwords we heard from Donald Trump during -- you know, across state lines, market place, free market.
QUINN: Right, yes.
COOPER: Everybody who has pre-existing conditions can remain. But without --
QUINN: Health savings account.
LOUIS: Once you add those elements he talked about in the "60 Minutes" interview, you're back to Obamacare or some version of it because the reality is you can't do all of those things. You can't protect from pre-existing conditions and keep people on their parents' policy up to 26 without subsidies. You take away the subsidies, you got nothing. You take away the young invincibles, if you don't have some way of getting healthy people into the insurance of any kind --
COOPER: Thus far, I mean, there's not --
LORD: Right. I mean, this has not -- the bottom line, this has not worked. And change has been demanded and it's coming.
COOPER: You don't agree, do you?
QUINN: No. I believe it has worked and in some states, you see that fabulously. How it's worked with the states that are committed. But can it be made better? Yes.
But this is a political game which is causing fear and may cause people to have real health life effects.
LORD: That will change Obamacare in the first place.
QUINN: No --
[20:30:07] COOPER: We're going to take a break. Just ahead is the latest battle over Obamacare kicks off. Coal miners who voted for Trump on the promising jobs, some are wondering if their votes will hurt their health and finances. We'll talk to them ahead.
And later in Breaking News, an alleged assault in Chicago. Police and the suspects beat a man on camera, streamed the video live online. It's a very disturbing stuff so are the details in the video just now emerging ahead on 360.
COOPER: As we mentioned earlier, it is game on in the battle of Obamacare which President-Elect Trump has promised to repeal. It was one of his key campaign promises along with bringing back jobs. The jobs promised wanted him to support of many coal miners but now some of them are worried their votes may end up hurting their health and finances.
Miguel Marquez tonight, reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The coal lay in Hills of Eastern Kentucky--
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF UNITED STATES: We're going to bring the coal industry back.
MARQUEZ: Trump country.
NEIL YONTS, FORMER COAL MINER: We just stay--
MARQUEZ: Neil Yonts, a Democrat and coal miner for 35 years initially supported Hillary Clinton. But--
NEIL YONTS, FORMER COAL MINER: I voted for Trump. It might be a mistake, but I heard him say let's bring coal back.
MARQUEZ: A mistake maybe because Yonts now suffers from black lung disease.
YONTS: From there to here, he say there's something on my breathing on it that close.
MARQUEZ: He voted for Trump to bring jobs back but now fears Trump's promise to kill Obamacare will also and his black lung benefits.
YONTS: When they eliminate the Obamacare, they may just eliminate all the black lung program. It may all be gone, don't matter how many years you got.
MARQUEZ: Three sentences in the Affordable Care Act made an easier for victims of black lung to get monthly federal benefits if they worked 15 years or more in the mines. And if they died, the benefits automatically extended to their widows.
PATTY AMBURGEY, MINER'S WIDOW: I'll be withdrawing his $643 and I think 42 cents.
MARQUEZ: Once a month?
AMBURGEY: Once a month.
MARQUEZ: Patty Amburgey just got her first payment, her husband Crawford after 32 years in the mines died in 2007.
[20:35:04] AMBURGEY: To see it, in somebody you lived with 45 years, to go from vibrant man to a child is very hard.
MARQUEZ: Getting the payment can also be difficult, even with the law it took her three years. Now, her black lung widow benefit along with social security and a tiny $62 a month pension keeps her financially afloat.
So this money is important to you?
AMBURGEY: Absolutely, absolutely. It's not a large amount but it's enough to pay the bills.
MARQUEZ: Keeping up with the bills here for many a lifetime struggle. So Trump's full-throated promise of jobs was a powerful message, the unemployment rate in Letcher County, 10.3 percent, more than twice the national average.
STEPHEN SANDERS, DIRECTOR, APPALACHIAN CITIZENS' LAW CENTER: This area has seen a terrific decline in the number of coal mining jobs in the last five years and those jobs tended to be high-paying jobs.
MARQUEZ: Steven Sanders represents miners applying for black lung benefits. As jobs have evaporated, he says, Obamacare benefits more important than ever.
SANDERS: President-elect Trump promised people that he was going to restore mining jobs. I don't think he thought about what the Affordable Care Act might mean to miners who are applying for black lung benefits.
MARQUEZ: Linda Adams' husband Tony died three years ago. She's now applying for black lung widow benefits.
You supported Donald Trump from this election?
LINDA ADAMS, MINER'S WIDOW: I did. I did.
MARQUEZ: But if Obamacare goes away?
ADAMS: If Obamacare goes away, I'm going to be in the world of depression.
MARQUEZ: Today, Adams devotes her life to helping others apply for benefits she hopes will survive even if Obamacare is abolished. Her enormous expectations is now squarely on President Trump.
ADAMS: If he don't come across like he promised, he's not going to be there next time, and not if I can help it.
MARQUEZ: Trump's future opposition already taking shape if jobs don't return and Obamacare benefits vanish.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Whitesburg, Kentucky.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: Out of high expectations. Just ahead, the controversy over Trump's pick for Attorney General is Senator Jeff Sessions. The NAACP stages a sit-in at his mobile Alabama office calling for him to withdraw from consideration to tell you how the protest ended. Plus, the allegations of racism that kept Sessions from a seat on the Federal Court decades ago.
Plus, the Breaking News out of Chicago, a shocking video alleged beating and now a big break in the case. We'll bring it to you in just a few minutes.
[20:41:08] COOPER: Confirmation hearings for several Donald Trump cabinet picks are attentively set to begin next week including Senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for Attorney General. He is facing fierce opposition, a multiple fronts.
The NAACP activists were arrested after staging a sit-in at his office in Mobile, Alabama. NAACP President Cornell Brooks was among six people taken into custody. More than a thousand law professors have sent a joint letter to Congress opposing Sessions' nomination. Democratic lawmakers about to do all they can to stall it. The controversy surrounding him goes back decades as Drew Griffin reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to come out in support of Donald Trump, was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama when then President Ronald Reagan nominated him for the Federal Court.
But the appointment broke down at Sessions' 1986 confirmation hearing when allegations over his alleged racial remarks took center stage, allegations that Sessions angrily denied then and now.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. I supported civil rights activity in my state. I have done my job with integrity, equality and fairness for all.
GRIFFIN: Transcripts of that senate judiciary hearing show that Thomas Figures, a black former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama testified Sessions called him boy and joked about the Ku Klux Klan.
SESSIONS: State categorically that I have never called Mr. Figures, boy.
GRIFFIN: And Gerald Hebert, who is a Justice Department lawyer, also testified. Sessions called the NAACP and ACLU un-American and communist inspired. Hebert recalled Sessions said that he thought they did more harm than good when they were trying to force civil rights down the throats of people trying who are trying to put problems behind them.
In a heated exchange with then Senator Joe Biden, Sessions denied calling the National Council of Churches and the NAACP un-American.
SESSIONS: My opinion is they have not. They may have taken positions not consider to be adverse to the security interests of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that make them un-American?
SESSIONS: No, sir, it does not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, does that make the positions un-American?
GRIFFIN: Sessions also denied a statement that he thought Klan members were OK until he learned they smoked marijuana.
SESSIONS: This assertion is ludicrous. I detest the Klan.
GRIFFIN: He went on to testify that I am loose with my tongue on occasion and I may have said something similar to that or could be interpreted to that. His seat on the court was denied, but 10 years later he was elected to the Senate and went on to become the judiciary committee's top Republican member. He told CNN's Dana Bash in 2009 that the allegations of racism were heartbreaking.
SESSIONS: That was not fair. That was not accurate. Those were false charges and distortions of anything that I did. And it really was not. I never had those kinds of views and I was caricatured in a way that was not me.
GRIFFIN: Today, Gerald Hebert tells CNN he stands by his testimony from 30 years ago.
GERALD HEBERT, FORMER JUSTICE DEPT. LAWYER: The allegations that I made against him and things that I had heard first hand from him were things that demonstrated gross racial insensitivity to black citizens of Alabama and the United States.
GRIFFIN: Hebert says, Sessions shouldn't be anywhere near the cabinet.
HEBERT: He has never backed off for the comments he made at that time. He never has apologized for them. The fact that he would be considered to lead a government agency at the cabinet level is very alarming to me.
GRIFFIN: Hebert has not seen Jeff Sessions since they sat next to each other during that hearing in 1986. Since then, Sessions has gone on to become the Attorney General of Alabama and for almost 20 years now, a U.S. senator.
[20:45:06] Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, joining me now, CNN Political Commentator and former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Angela Rye, also William Smith who is Chief Council for the Senate Judiciary Committee when Senator Sessions was ranking members. He is currently Chief of Staff for Representative Gary Palmer.
William, let me start off with you. You work for Senator Sessions. You know the guy. Did he ever exhibit any racist behavior? What do you make of the allegations from 30 years ago?
WILLIAM SMITH, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR REP. GARY PALMER: He never exhibited any racial behavior. If you look at the testimony of Mr. Hebert, who you just had there, he has provided false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee during that confirmation hearing. If you go back and look through real transcript, Mr. Hebert had to supplement his testimony to admit that he lied during that confirmation hearing.
COOPER: So, you're -- I mean, you're saying categorically that Sessions is being smeared on this?
SMITH: That's exactly right. So there's no doubt in my mind that Senator Sessions is being smeared. If you go back and look at the transcripts and you look at testimony that Hebert provided, later on he had to come back and say, "I'm sorry. I lied at this confirmation hearing."
COOPER: Angela, how do you reconcile what William is saying about Senator Sessions that he knows personally?
ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: So there are a couple things here. You hear often people who exhibit racist behavior saying things like, "I have black friends." And that does not negate institutional or systemic racism.
I don't know if Jeff Sessions is racist or not, but I do know that he acknowledged, perhaps, saying that the NAACP was communist or un- American, organization that is worked to protect not only the rights of black people in this country, but all people since 1909.
I don't know if Jeff Sessions is racist or not, but I know that a deputy U.S. Attorney who worked under him said that he called him repeatedly "boy" and told him to watch how he talk to white folks.
I don't know if Jeff Sessions is racist or not, but I do know that he's worked to -- which fraudulently by the way to prosecute a lead organizer that worked with Dr. King and two other civil rights activists for voting fraud, 1986, Anderson, the same year that he stood before the Judiciary Committee for that nomination hearing.
I don't know if he's a bigot, but I know that he's worked vehemently against immigrants in this country, that he supports building a wall and I don't know if he --
RYE: I'm not done, William. I'm not done. I'm almost done. I don't know if he's a bigot or not, but I know that he's said some horrible things about the LGBTQ community and he's opposed them. He also --
COOPER: Clearly, politically he doesn't agree with you. But, those are --
RYE: But I'm not talking about politics, Anderson. I'm talking about human decency. You don't call a grown black man "boy."
COOPER: OK. William, I want to get your response.
SMITH: I don't think she knows much about human decency.
RYE: Oh, really?
SMITH: She doesn't know Jeff Sessions. She's never met Jeff Sessions. She never spends 30 seconds with Jeff Sessions. I spent 20 years of my life around Jeff Sessions. I know Jeff Sessions well. And so to sit around here and say a person you've never met, a person you don't know, a person you've never talked to is a racist is inappropriate.
RYE: So let me ask you, William --
RYE: Let me ask you this.
SMITH: Let me ask you something.
RYE: When did you hear me say -- SMITH: Have you ever met Jeff Sessions?
RYE: When did you hear -- yes, I have met Jeff Sessions, actually.
SMITH: Have you spent 10 minutes with Jeff Sessions? The answer to that is no, you have not spent 10 minutes with Jeff Sessions.
COOPER: OK. You ask question, let her respond.
SMITH: So, William, let me help you because even though we're both attorneys somehow you actually missed what I said. What I said repeatedly was I don't know if Jeff Sessions is a racist. I don't know if he's a bigot. I gave you the fruit and I know one thing. We know a tree by the fruit it bears. So you can call it what you want to. I don't know if he's racist or not.
SMITH: You don't like the policies. You don't like Jeff Sessions.
RYE: No. That's the problem --
COOPER: Let her respond. William, go ahead.
SMITH: You don't like Jeff Sessions' policies and that's your big problem. So -- but the American people liked the policies Jeff Sessions has come up with. That's the reason he's been reelected by overwhelming amounts and that's the reason the American people have said, "We stand with Jeff Sessions."
RYE: The American people haven't said that.
SMITH: They haven't stood with you.
COOPER: Will and Angela, voters have voted --
RYE: In Alabama.
COOPER: Well, yeah, in Alabama to be their senator for many, many years.
COOPER: I mean, he's put himself in the public arena.
RYE: And I hate to say this, Anderson, but let's be honest. We have people who vote in the south who don't necessarily stand with where I stand on voting rights. Jeff Sessions had the opportunity to work to ensure that it was easier for people in this democracy to vote and he's opposed that as well.
SMITH: How did Jeff Sessions vote on the Voting Rights Act? He voted for.
RYE: How -- what has he done to move the voting Rights Amendment Act, William? What does he done for that?
SMITH: If you want to talk about the voting right act -- RYE: What does he done after Shelby vs Holder?
SMITH: Let me talk about what Jeff Sessions has done. When you and probably NAACP was opposing Janice Rogers Brown, a fine African- American jury to sit on the bench, Jeff Sessions was right there defending her. Where are you at?
RYE: So, again, William, you're making a lot of assumptions.
SMITH: I'm asking you a question.
RYE: That's fine.
COOPER: Let her answer now.
RYE: So, tonight, you've attacked me on my human decency. You told me I'm not a decent person.
SMITH: I'm not attacking you on human decency. I'm asking you where you are when Jeff Sessions were fighting for civil rights
[20:50:02] RYE: You know where I was when he was fighting for civil rights, not here. I'm still not here apparently because that's not his record. What I will tell you is --
SMITH: You don't know his record.
SMITH: You've got a bunch of rhetoric --
RYE: No. I actually don't have a bunch of rhetoric. You had --
SMITH: Show me some facts.
RYE: These are the facts. You just don't like them because you're the one black guy that he hired on the committee doesn't make him a civil rights leader, William. It actually really doesn't. It makes -- I'm not -- I'm going to leave at that.
SMITH: Yeah, you can leave it at that, because you have nothing.
RYE: I actually have a lot. I gave you a list, you just don't like the list.
COOPER: We're going to take a break. William Smith, I appreciate you'd be and I appreciate your perspective. Angela Rye, as well.
Up next, we got beaking news in the alleged beating that was broadcast across the internet. Police in Chicago have just spoken reporters. They make the news to bring you on that, a shocking video as well the story ahead.
COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Chicago police say four people are in custody after allegedly beating a man and streaming the attack live on Facebook. The details in the video and the case are disturbing to say the least as disturbing as they are bizarre.
CNN's Rosa Flores joins me now with the latest.
So I know Chicago police just held a press conference about this tape. What do they say? What do we know about this?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, I just got off the phone with police with a few more disturbing details. They tell me that the victim in this particular case was targeted because he has a mental health challenge.
[20:55:04] They described him as someone who is very tender. And while they took some police work they said, they were able to find the offenders, like you mentioned, four people in custody.
But let me set the scene here. According to police, officers were patrolling on the west side of Chicago when they saw a man that was disoriented and traumatized. So the police officers sent him to the hospital, actually, Anderson, and then there was a battery call that came in.
Police officers responded to that, and they were able to link the evidence from this battery call to this disoriented man, and then there you have a video on social media that was able to fill in the picture. Now, before we show you this video, we should warn you, that it is very disturbing. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There, you cut it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put a whole patch out, boy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you do this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my brother, my aunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He represents Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had it and it's -- because you had him speaking. (Inaudible) we're going to put this in a trunk. You put a brick on the dash so that they (inaudible). You understand?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was broadcast live one social media while they were doing that, right? Now, I mean, they're talking about Donald Trump. They're saying -- I mean, it seems like there's -- in their words some sort of a racial dimension to all this.
FLORES: You know, it really does sound like that, Anderson. We asked the police about that and, of course, the obvious question is, is this a hate crime? Is this somehow related to politics and all the tensions post the election? And police say that at this point they're still investigating, but they do believe, they tell that this is more related to this young man's mental health challenge.
Now, you saw on that video, he's white. The offenders, you saw on that video are black, so it definitely raises all of these questions, but at this point they still say that they are still investigating motive.
COOPER: And what about the victim in this? Did -- how is he doing now?
FLORES: You know, the police say that he's very traumatized. They say that he had a lot of difficulty to even start speaking to investigators or the police, because of the condition that he was found in.
Police say that they don't know if he spent 24 or even 48 hours with this group, and they don't know exactly what they did to him, of course. They're still investigating that. He's still being examined.
And -- but, Anderson, we should know more within 24 hours that's when we're expecting for charges to be filed. And when those charges do happen, then we'll know a little more as to what to inspired.
COOPER: All right, Rosa Flores, thanks very much.
Much more ahead in the next hour of "360" including what a top strategic scholar thinks to the ongoing war between Donald Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies.