Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

GOP Faction: Health Care Bill Will Fail; Pelosi: Trump Owes Obama Apology; Gorsuch: Attacks On Judges' Integrity Disheartening, Demoralizing; U.S. Official: Al Qaeda Intelligence A Factor In Electronics Ban. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 21, 2017 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:01:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Topping this hour or "360." In Washington, President Trump trying to do what he says he does best, close the deal in a Republican health care bill, but a potentially lift (ph) for a number of Republicans now say they oppose. Also, the president seemingly trying to tiptoe past the stinging rebuke he got and is now debunk claim that President Obama wiretapped him. More in both of that from Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We had a great meeting and I think we're going to get a winner vote. We're going to have a real winner.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump on Capitol Hill today, desperately seeking a win on health care.

TRUMP: It was a great meeting, terrific people. They want a tremendous health care plan. That's what we have and there are going to be adjustments made, but I think we'll get the vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that you're always been a --

ZELENY (voice-over): But, tonight, the White House still isn't sure it has enough votes to pass its replacement of Obamacare. So the president took his case directly to House Republicans, delivering a blunt message behind closed doors. One person in the room told CNN Trump said this to Republicans. "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."

It's the first big test of whether the president can make good on a signature campaign trail promise, while navigating one self made distraction after another. The White House is trying to move beyond fallout from the ongoing FBI criminal investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

FBI Director James Comey made it clear in a House hearing Monday that the investigation is open ended.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I can promise you, we will follow the facts wherever they lead.

ZELENY (voice-over): The president showing rare restraint at a rally Monday night in Kentucky, not mentioning his discredited wiretapping accusation against President Obama or the Russia probe. Instead, he focused on health care.

TRUMP: As we move toward the crucial House vote on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of Obamacare's very painful passage. This is our long awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. We're going to do it. What's the alternative?

ZELENY (voice-over): The House Freedom Caucus, the most conservative cluster in Congress believes there is a better alternative. Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina called out personally by the president for his opposition to the bill said he was more worried about rising insurance premiums than his own reelection.

MARK MEADOWS, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Within the end of it, the day, it is really about bringing premiums down. It's not about me or any member of Congress.

ZELENY (voice-over): The conservative group Club for Growth is running T.V. ads urging Republicans to vote no on the health care measure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Congress is pushing Ryancare, a bad idea doubling down on disaster.

ZELENY (voice-over): The White House says the president hasn't ruled out campaigning against fellow Republicans who try and block his bill, which could have all ripple affect on the risk of his agenda.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah. I think there's going to be a price to be paid, but it's going to be with their own voters.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Jeff joins us now. The president just finished speaking to Republican --the National Republican Congressional on dinner. What did he say? Can you tell us?

ZELENY: Anderson, this was a fundraising dinner for 2018 Republican re-election efforts. Now, this is front and center on this issue, but the president made clear. He said this is why you are all elected here to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Now, he has been meeting with members of Congress all day long on Capitol Hill in the morning, then this afternoon he met with 16 Republican members of Congress, and then tonight, again. He is trying to use the power of his persuasion. But, Anderson, as the evening draws on here, it's unclear if he's brought almost anyone over to his side.

Our count shows that still 19 Republicans are opposed to this, seven are possibly leaning against it. He can only lose 21. So with about a day and a half left to go here, this White House knows it's still has work left to do.

[21:05:04] COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks.

Reaction now from the Democratic side. Shortly before the program I spoke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You twitted yesterday President Trump cannot be allowed to deal (ph) if you can simply say whatever he wants despite a lack of evidence. Do you think the president was outlined -- out right lying about the wiretapping claims?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER : Either that or he didn't know what he was talking about because, first of all, the president -- President Obama would not do that, cannot do that, and he has nothing to support the claims that he has made.

COOPER: You said he should apologize.

PELOSI: Yes.

COOPER: Does it surprise you to hear that the White House is standing by the claim?

PELOSI: No, no. But, I mean, this is the same president who said he won the popular vote because he had 3 to 5 million people voting illegally, no basis for that. That he had a bigger crowd than Barack Obama, whatever else he had to say. It's really kind of sad.

COOPER: Do you think he just says these things and -- I mean, he use the same things and they just kind of move on from them and never address them again.

PELOSI: Well, he's upped the anti. When you decide that you're going to say that a President of the United States has wiretapped you, which you know -- which isn't true, you have invited comment. It's not -- this is -- it's no longer frivolous. This is serious and he should not have done it. He should apologize, not only to President Obama, but to the American people.

COOPER: We're 60 some days in to the Trump administration. If you had one word to describe the last 60 days or so, how would you describe it?

PELOSI: Ineffective. They've accomplished nothing. He's the deflector-in-chief. He deflected some of the fact. He hasn't produced the job well. He hasn't produced an infrastructure bill. He has accomplished nothing and he just has to deflect by coming up with bans on certain religions coming into the country and when that doesn't succeed, deflect to the President of the United States wiretapping.

COOPER: In terms of the Russian investigation, James Clapper has said publicly that when he left he was not aware of any conclusive intelligence related to collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians prior to January 20th. He said that he's not aware of anything after January 20th. Do you believe that there really is fire there? And there's a lot of smoke, but --

PELOSI: Yes.

COOPER: -- so far, according to Clapper, there's no fire.

PELOSI: Well, no. First of all -- two things about Clapper. He left two and a half months ago, so --

COOPER: So the investigation had been gone, apparently now we know --

PELOSI: Yeah, but the investigation is continued now. B, the way it works in intelligence and this is where I was forged in the Congress and intelligence. This information might go from the CIA to the FBI or FBI to CIA, but now going to director of national intelligence, so he might not have known. But I wouldn't place a whole lot of weight on that. The fact is you have an investigation and there are -- there is reason to believe that there should be an investigation. The director mentioned that yesterday.

COOPER: There's a lot of Democrats who are putting a lot of faith that there is some fire there, that there was some sort of collusion. If it turns out that there wasn't, how damaging is it for Democrats.

PELOSI: Well, the director didn't say collusion, he said --

COOPER: Connection.

PELOSI: -- connection, a word like that. I don't think it's damaging at all. We do know that there's plenty of connection, a self evident, but the fact is, is there any criminal violation here or is there any other breaking of the law? The fact that they cooperated is not any -- is self evident. The Russians hacked. They gave it away so that it would be leaked. It was leaked in a way that was damaging to Hillary Clinton. That's a fact. That's a fact.

COOPER: You believe they actually have something on the president.

PELOSI: Well, I want to know, because the fact is this is a matter of our national security.

COOPER: Who is the leader of the Democratic Party right now?

PELOSI: Well, President Obama was the President of the United States until just a matter of weeks ago. I don't think that he can be dismissed as the leader of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton did not win the election, but a respected leader. But we have leaders for all different aspects of it. The Democratic Party is a congressional party and we have leaders in Congress. It is a gubernatorial party.

COOPER: But on the state level, it is a party which has suffered tremendous losses in the last couple of years, you know, under President Obama.

PELOSI: We have a plan to address that. COOPER: So there's not one standard bearer for the -- you see as the leader of the Democratic Party?

PELOSI: We're not in the presidential time.

COOPER: Just finally, when you think about 2020, when you think about the next presidential race, I mean, how do you think Donald Trump is going to make it four years? Do you think --

PELOSI: I don't know. It's up to him. It's up to him if he obeys the law.

[21:10:03] But the -- I'm not thinking of 2020, I'm thinking of 2018. The matter of year and a half from now, but almost -- there are more than a year and a half from now. The referendum, the first referendum on Donald Trump will come forward.

COOPER: Madame Leader, thank you very much.

PELOSI: My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can watch our whole conversation at ac360.com.

Plenty to talk about with our panel, David Gergen, Gloria Borger are back. Joining us also this hour, Daily Beast Senior Columnist Matt Lewis, Conservative Writer Mary Katharine Ham, and CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, just interesting, I mean, I sort of asked who is the leader of the Democratic Party --

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: That's kind of notable, but she, you know, it should be fair. She's right. There is -- this isn't a presidential election year, but at the same time, it speaks to the fact that there is a little bit of a vacuum in the Democratic Party with President Obama gone. And the expectation I think was that Hillary Clinton was going to win and it was going to become Hillary Clinton's party.

And now you have different people like Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker or Kirsten Gillibrand, different people who are still vying to be the leader. And, of course, she's -- Nancy Pelosi is obviously somebody who would come to mind, I think, when you think of somebody who is a leader in the Democratic Party as well. So, it was a very telling answer, I thought.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: The answer was an ellipsis. Let's get back to -- but for the reason is that, you know, because Obama was the president and because he was very skilled at his job in many ways, they allowed much of -- many of the losses on the state level and sort of let that get away from them and the party has really been damaged in a huge way, while, you know, folks are not watching the storm.

COOPER: You know, during the election it seemed like Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time focusing on having this be a referendum on Donald Trump. Clearly, that didn't work out for her. Is there danger for the Democrats in focusing so much on Russia to the exclusion of other things that if it doesn't actually -- if there's no there, there that they're kind of --

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Absolutely. Look, I mean, maybe there's a huge scandal brewing and maybe this is Watergate. But most of the time, you know, political parties when they focus on the home run, you know, the silver bullet, the scandal, the one thing that's going to, you know, if we could just prove that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, then we can be legitimize that. We don't have to do the hard work of actually winning elections.

So, this Russia thing is by definition a conspiracy theory. Now, sometimes conspiracy theories are true, but I would caution Democrats. You can pursue this. I think we ought to pursue this as a country to a certain degree, but you can't put all your hopes and we're going to take down Donald Trump via scandal. You've got to do the hard work electing people at state Houses, you know, governors and also developing public policy ideas.

COOPER: You know, I think we should (inaudible), but there's a lot of Democrats who are kind of pinning your hopes on some grand multi- headed hydro conspiracy of this, not just, you know, one person with a connection. It's some sort of massive collusion.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON AND NIXON: Right. I think it's more than a conspiracy theory, which often suggests very little there in which to base it. I think there is a lot of circumstantial trails that we've -- there's felony here from CIA yesterday, retired, that said look, when you get 3, or 4, 5, when you gets to have a couple leads into a story, it's probably not going to go anywhere. These 3, or 4, 5 players with different story is much more likely to lead somewhere.

But, to go to you point, Kirsten is right. The Democrats very much need a set of positive programs going forward. Hillary Clinton ran on a group of ideas that were fairly stale for the public. They had nothing that took advantage of technology that new world we're entering into and all that. They need a bill when the president goes up with this tax code bill. What is their plan on tax? What is their plan for growth? What is their plan for infrastructure? They need to sort those things out.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with that. But, it's been, you know, 60 days. And when you're in the opposition, it's easy to oppose and it's also a uniting factor and nothing so unites the Democrats like Donald Trump's tweets or James Comey's testimony yesterday. And I don't blame the Democrats. I mean, this is serious stuff that needs to be investigated.

COOPER: Right, but the focusing on Donald Trump's tweets didn't work during the actual election. BORGER: It didn't, but now as we were talking about earlier, there is a need to take him literally because he is President of the United States and he did charge the former President of the United States with a felony, which is a serious thing. And there is an FBI director now saying there is an ongoing counter intelligence investigation, which you have to talk about to the exclusion of everything else, to David's point, I agree.

You can't do it to the exclusion of everything else. But it would be malpractice for the Democrats not to be talk about this. And by the way, talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mails and all the locker up crap that was going on during the campaign didn't seem to hurt Donald Trump.

POWERS: Yeah, but I think also to the point of what Matt sort of saying, though, is if you look at even what happened with the Republicans where they ran against Obama, they ran against Obamacare, this is all they ever talked about was repealing Obamacare and then they -- all of a sudden were in power and they had no idea what to do.

BORGER: Right.

[21:15:09] POWERS: Right? And so now we're actually looking at something that maybe we'll pass. It's kind of we don't even know if it's going to pass, but even if it passes, it's not even really that good of plan, right? So it's like even if it passes, they just want to get something passed because they made this promise, but it actually isn't going to probably accomplish.

HAM: Well, I think there's danger not just in overreaching, but also in, like, dealing with the facts that are on the field. Comey also said during his testimony that some of -- much of what has been leaked and reported is "dead wrong," right? So if you're dealing in facts that are not real, and then it comes out this was not -- this theory does not come to fruition that does damage you.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: -- and allegation will damage you.

BORGER: Well, they didn't damage Donald Trump when he said that Hillary Clinton was going to jail for her e-mails and, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, I'm not saying you should write something that's fake, OK, but this is serious and very real.

GERGEN: But the problem is that a lot of this is going to go back underground. The investigations are not going to be in the news. There's nothing for them to talk about very much and they need to be a party which is looking forward. They need to build a bridge. They had to bring in younger people where the sense of the future and they don't have that.

LEWIS: And when you look at some of the, you know, the attempts to sort of let's just take down the president. Since Watergate, you know, you've had Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky and the Bush Air National Guard story and even Iran-contra didn't really work. COOPER: Yeah.

LEWIS: You know.

COOPER: We're going to take a break. Much more of the panel after the break, including the push to get Republicans in the House on board with their health care bill ahead of Thursday's expected vote. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:20:19] COOPER: The breaking news, is the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in critical condition? A conservative faction within the Republican Party says it is says in fact it will fail. Now, earlier tonight, I spoke with a GOP skeptic, Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP, TOM GARRETT, (R) VIRGINIA: I am still a no vote. I will tell you that I'm very, very confident right now that there are not the votes to pass this bill as it stand. So that -- if they want to have a vote Thursday, I think that's going to end up putting some egg on some folks faces. But doesn't mean we're going to abandon health care reform. It has to be done.

Again, we can't ignore the reality that is the ACA reality were in the third of the localities nationwide. There's one choice of providers, therefore, obviously no choice. But I don't -- what I don't get is the impetus that this must be done right now on Thursday some sort of do or die date. It's not. Again, it's not to get it done right away. It's to get it done right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right, back now with the panel. We should point out, Congressman Garrett is part of the Freedom Caucus and they're the ones who seem to be -- having the most objections obviously to this.

But, I mean, you know, you talked about this in the last hour. President Trump really has gone all in on this. I mean, he really has -- I mean, he's out there twisting arms today whether he note -- you know, you said that you thought that he should be speaking more about the details of the bill, less about the politics of it. Personally (ph), does he really know the inner-workings of the bill? I'm not saying that disrespectfully, I mean, he's not necessarily a policy kind of wonk (ph).

GERGEN: I think he's very different from most presidents we've had in that regard. It does quite true. I mean, President Reagan, when he got into this, he was famous for not knowing all the details, when he got into a situation like this, he knew the details. It was like tax reform. He had deeply into -- as early as first year he got deeply into the budget cutting and he knew the details aren't pretty well.

I think this is extraordinary unusual to have the first bill out of a new president who campaigned on it to be in this kind of trouble. You usually -- in the first year, there is sort of sense of honeymoon (ph) and you get your first bill. You know, people sort of -- your own party supports you, they got around.

The fact that he's having trouble in his own party, reflects not only substantive for the last year they've had a lot of splits in the party, but the fact is we have such an unusual president in the White House who has these extraordinary low approval ratings and he's having a really hard time bringing together public support and public pressure on the Congress.

You haven't heard anything about calls and letters coming into the White House or coming into Congress, Capitol Hill. What you've heard is if they go for recess in two weeks, it's going to really tank the bill. They're having so much negative.

COOPER: Do you think that's really true? I mean, that's part of the push is that the idea -- if they do -- go into recess --

LEWIS: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt about it. That's part of it. And they also -- the other part of it is, frankly, that, you know, I think Speaker Ryan and maybe correctly believes that there is very limited time to get anything done, in terms of actual days of legislating. And if you want to do tax reform and health care and infrastructure like basically this has to happen.

And so, I think it sounds great to say let's take our time and really craft a really good policy. You know, you've talked to people on the Hill. They'll say there just isn't time to do it. It's do or die time.

HAM: And it was never going to look like a perfect policy. There is an ideological gap between Trump and his campaign promises and what the Freedom Caucus would ideally like. What I would ideally like is probably closer to the Freedom Caucus, but I recognize that you're not going to get that through both Houses of Congress.

So Trump said there has to be a replacement. They have to (inaudible) replacement. They can make it through reconciliation that can get moderate votes in the Senate, so they're in a real bind here. And it wasn't going look beautiful. So they're going to have this fight.

I think my question was whether Trump thoughts it was his fight. And today, he signal that he think it's his fight. And then he says, "Well, I might go after you guys," and people say, "Oh, I'm not sure he's serious about that." He loves going after fellow Republicans. We've seen that happen for the past few years.

LEWIS: He was joking, I think.

POWERS: But I think also some of these -- the Freedom Caucus members feel pretty comfortable with their constituents. They know their constituents well and they have good relationship with them. And the complaints that you hear from them is that, you know, basically this was, you know, put before everybody and they said, you know, love it or leave it, basically. You know, they sort of went through this process of saying you can offer some ideas, but they don't weren't really interested in listening to them. And part of the problem is because this is really Paul Ryan's baby. And Paul Ryan is not acting the way a leader normally would be acting, which would be sort of pulling people together.

BORGER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: -- instead like he's like, no, this is my baby. I've been waiting for my whole life to do this and you're going to vote for it.

[21:25:00] BORGER: And the dirty little secret is the Republicans have never agreed on what to do about health care, so it was very easy for them to oppose, oppose, oppose to the conversation we were having earlier and that did very well for them and now they have to come up with something and they have proposed something that nobody really loves, except for maybe Paul Ryan, who does love it, and maybe not so much, actually.

So, you have this kind of orphan out there that everybody is trying to embrace, including Donald Trump and he just wants to get it done so he could just chart one win and move on to the other stuff.

GERGEN: You know, for the last -- since Franklin Roosevelt, you know, policy making has been president centric. The president, the White House proposes in Congress disposes and that's what is not happening here. It's making it Paul Ryan's bill. I think it weakened it and made it easier for people to oppose it than if it was a White House came up with the idea. The president went out and rallied for it, went out to his rally and sold it and they kept the pressure. You just don't see that.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Just ahead, more breaking news with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort facing new allegation. Senator John McCain says he has serious concerns now about Manafort's ties with Ukraine's former pro-Russian president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:10] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. As we said before we went on air tonight, Senator John McCain said he has serious questions about Paul Manafort's possible ties to Russia via Ukraine's former president.

The former Trump campaign chairman is facing new allegations that he took steps to hide payments he received for consulting work he did for Ukraine's former pro-Russian president. The Ukrainian law maker has released documents that he claim, show Mr. Manafort, funneled the money through an offshore account.

Mr. Manafort said through a spokesman, he doesn't recognize the documents and did not sign them. Mr. Manafort's name came up repeatedly in yesterday's House Intelligence Committee hearing. Earlier, I spoke to Congressman Jim Himes who's on the committee and wants Manafort among others to testify. I asked him if that would actually require a subpoena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. JIM HIMES, (D) CONNECTICUT: That would obviously be up to Paul Manafort and his lawyers. You know, he will, along with a few others be at the top of the list of the people that if we are to do a real investigation, we would need to interview whether it--

COOPER: So you would be for subpoena him if that's what it would require?

HIMES: Look, it feels to me like there are four or five people here that we must speak to. Now, they may choose to not to come voluntarily, in which case we would need to issue a subpoena. We would need Republican majority's permission to do that. And they may, of course, at the end of the day if they don't want to speak, they have the right not to, but that would be interesting in and on itself.

COOPER: Can you say the four or five you would like -- I mean, Manafort --

HIMES: Well, Manafort, Stone, Michael Flynn. We probably want to have a further conversation with Jeff Sessions. I don't happen to believe that Jeff Sessions has the kind of deep and long standing ties to Russia that the other people do. But, you know, yeah, we should be able to talk to them.

COOPER: And Carter Page, is he somebody --

HIMES: Carter Page would be on that list, absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March of 2016, he brought years of political experience to the job, including the consulting work that the FBI is now looking at. Brianna Keilar tonight has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before Paul Manafort was Donald Trump's second campaign manager or facing scrutiny for his ties to Russia, he oversaw the convention floor for Gerald Ford in 1976, worked on Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign, and managed Bob Dole's 1996 Republican National Convention, as Dole attempted unsuccessfully to push Bill Clinton out of the White House. Even then, within an inter-party battle over abortion brewing, Manafort was tasked with smoothing things over ahead of the Republican Convention.

PAUL MANAFORT, GOP CONVENTION MANAGER: There will be no floor fight on Monday. Everybody is united. What you saw today is was the Republican Party coming together. KEILAR (voice-over): It's the very reason he was brought on the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016. As Trump faced opposition within his own party that threatened to spill over during his nomination in Cleveland.

TRUMP: I have a fantastic people. Paul Manafort just came on. He's great.

KEILAR (voice-over): But Manafort's influence was seen as a threat to controversial Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.

CHRIS CUOMO, "NEW DAY" HOST: Are you the boss' boss now?

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I work directly for the boss.

CUOMO: So that's it. You only have one guy you listen to and it's Trump.

MANAFORT: Well, I listen to everybody, but I have one man whose voice is louder than everybody else.

KEILAR (voice-over): Manafort convinced Trump to practice more discipline with limited success and used teleprompters at least occasionally.

TRUMP: I've started to use them a little bit. They're not bad. You never get yourself in trouble when you use a teleprompter.

KEILAR (voice-over): He implored Congressional Republicans to get on board.

MANAFORT: Just a thing to unify the party, grow the campaign and build it out and then a steppingstone in that process.

KEILAR (voice-over): As Trump clinched the delegates needed to secure the nomination in late May. By June, Lewandowski whose mantra was let Trump be Trump was out and Manafort alone held the reigns after counseling Trump to tone down his bombastic rhetoric.

TRUMP: At some point I'm going to be so presidential that you people will be so bored.

KEILAR (voice-over): But in mid-August, just three months later, he too was gone amid an investigation of his lobbying firm for its work with the Ukrainian political party loyal to Russia.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We've learned that there's an ongoing investigation into possible U.S. ties to alleged corruption. The coverage was ousted in a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014.

KEILAR (voice-over): Manafort denies any wrongdoing, but the investigation is still dogging the Trump White House. Press Secretary Sean Spicer trying to minimize Manafort's influence.

SPICER: Obviously there's been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Not an accurate portrayal of Manafort's role, however. He informally advised Mr. Trump and then President-elect Trump and despite his short time leading the Trump campaign, he oversaw key moments as Trump won the delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination, as he picked his running mate, Mike Pence, and through the convention. Anderson?

COOPER: Brianna Keilar, thanks very much. Amazing to hear Sean Spicer that he had a very limited role for very limited amount of time.

Just ahead, more breaking news at this confirmation hearing. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticized President Trump's attacks on federal judges. He also faced tough questions on day two of the Senate grilling (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:38:50] COOPER: Breaking news on another front on day two of the Senate confirmation hearing. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was asked about President Trump's attacks on the federal judge who blocked his administration's travel ban. Here's Judge Gorsuch's answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, now, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Judge Gorsuch, you may recall previously said the same thing in private conversations with senators. Senator Richard Blumenthal went public with that in early February, I think it was, and President Trump actually tweeted about Senator Blumenthal called it a misrepresentation of the judge's remarks. Now, the judge has done so publicly. It was a long day in the Senate hearing room. And, today, some of the questions had a sharper edge. Jessica Schneider tonight has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of a 10-hour day of tough questions, Judge Neil Gorsuch emerged as a Supreme Court nominee who refused to be pinned down.

GORSUCH: When I became a judge, they gave me a gavel, not a rubber stamp. And nobody comes to my court expecting a rubber stamp.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Senators pressed Judge Gorsuch on his views in future rulings, but instead, he pointed to his respect for legal precedent and pledged to keep his own opinions out of consideration.

[21:40:11] GORSUCH: My personal views that also tell you Mr. Chairman belong over here. I leave those at home.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Judge Gorsuch rarely referenced President Trump directly, but firmly rejected the notion that his nomination was based on a litmus test.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Did he ever ask you to overrule Roe versus Wade?

GORSUCH: No, Senator.

GRAHAM: What would you have done if you'd ask?

GORSUCH: Senator, I would have walked out the door. It's not what judges do.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Democrats seized on Gorsuch's decisions. They say favor big business.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: How do we have confidence in you that you won't just be for the big corporations? That you will be for the little men?

GORSUCH: I participated in 2,700 opinions over10 and a half years. And if you want cases where I've ruled for the little guy as well as the big guy, there are plenty of them, Senator.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Minnesota Senator Al Franken hammered into Judge Gorsuch for his dissent offering no sympathy to a truck driver who was fired for leaving his disabled trailer behind after spending hours in the cold and snow at the side of the road.

SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. That's absurd.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Democrats also touch on President Trump's twice written and twice rejected travel ban. It's a case that Judge Gorsuch could here if confirm.

GORSUCH: The Supreme Court (inaudible) this held that due process rights extend even to undocumented persons in this country, OK. I will apply the law. I will apply the law faithfully and fearlessly and without regard the persons.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Trump praised his nominee throughout the hearing, tweeting, "Judge Gorsuch is the kind of judge we need on SCOTUS. Someone with a brilliant legal mind and a commitment to constitutional principles. #confirmGorsuch."

Judge Gorsuch seemed unflappable, but showed a rare moment of frustration and lamented the politics of the process.

GORSUCH: There's a great deal about this process I regret. I regret putting my family through this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But to my question.

GORSUCH: Senator, the fact of the matter is it is what it is.

SCHNEIDER: Jessica Schneider, CNN Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A lot to discuss with the panel. Joining me, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He is author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court." Also, Professor Elizabeth Price Foley, who teaches constitutional law at Florida International University.

Jeff, these comments by Gorsuch, I mean it seem to be in line with what a lot of today seem to be about, which is stabbing Gorsuch wouldn't be automatically beholding to President Trump.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It wouldn't be a rubber stamp. As he said, "I have a gavel, not a rubber stamp." You know, it was a -- like a lot of his testimony. It was prudent. It was careful. It was not extreme even -- it was not extreme criticism. It wasn't praised for the president. And I think it was the right line for what he should say. You know, he was not obligated to attack President Trump, but he was also obligated, I think, to defend the federal judiciary, which he did.

COOPER: Professor, I guess another memorable moment was talking about Roe versus Wade. Were you surprised at all by his answer? I mean, I'm sure a lot of people would have expected him to say that he would walk out the door?

ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Yeah. I mean, I think that Judge Gorsuch did what all Supreme Court nominees would do these days. They invoke the Ginsburg Rule, right? We call at that because he basically said, no forecast, no hints.

And it's kind of ironic to me, because on the one hand you have the Democrats on the judiciary committee seeming to suggest that it would be inappropriate for the President to impose a litmus test on abortion, which I think most people would agree with. And Gorsuch slammed the door, shut on that and said, "I absolutely wouldn't even entertain the possibility of, you know, abiding by some for litmus test."

But at the same time, they seem to be demanding some sort of litmus test, because they kept pushing and pushing Judge Gorsuch on the issue of abortion and trying to get him to sort of prejudge the issue, which, of course, would require him under the rules of ethics to recuse himself.

COOPER: Yeah. I mean, there's an irony, isn't interesting not have a litmus test and to seem to have a litmus?

TOOBIN: Well, and also I just think the Ginsburg Rule is madness. You know, you have all these senators who have opinions on Roe versus Wade. Obviously, someone who knows constitutional law like a Supreme Court nominee knows what they think about Roe versus Wade.

But, somehow it's supposed to be a secret. I just think it's just crazy, but that's what Democrat and Republican nominees have come to say in front of the judiciary committee and Gorsuch followed in that tradition.

FOLEY: Look, it's perfectly appropriate to ask judges, especially someone who has a 10-year track record like Gorsuch about his actual opinions on abortion and to get him to explain his reasoning and alike.

[21:45:09] The problem here with Gorsuch judge has no history on abortion. They're just thought that many hot button abortion issues that end up in the 10th Circuit. So we kind of gets surpassed on explaining his past decisions. But asking him to prejudge or explain how he would rule on a future case, I think it's entirely inappropriate. And if he had done so, on matter or any other hot button issue, you know there would be calls for his recusal.

TOOBIN: I just don't buy that at all. I mean, I think these are intelligent people who thought about these issues. We should know what they think before they're appointed. I recognize that no nominee thinks what I think about this, and -- but, I just think it's crazy.

COOPER: He did seem very calm and sort of collected throughout the entire thing.

TOOBIN: Well, he has a tremendous advantage in this circumstance. He knows so much more about everything he's being asked than the senators. And in a couple of times, it really came back to bite him. You know, Senator Durbin from Illinois --

COOPER: To bite the senators.

TOOBIN: To bite the senators -- you know, tried to confront him with a story that came out about a law school class that he taught where one woman thought he engaged in sexist behavior in the classroom. And Gorsuch told the story of how he taught this case out of a textbook and went on to say that his mother was a pioneering lawyer in Colorado and I think completely turned the tie because Durbin broke the cardinal rule, which is you never ask a question to which you don't know that answer to.

COOPER: Yeah. Which in a courtroom is like -- that's the rule number one.

TOOBIN: And it applies in a hearing room, too.

COOPER: Professor, thanks very much. Jeff Toobin as well, thanks.

Coming up tonight, electronics bigger than a smart phone will be ban from the cabins of some international flights. The question is why now? What we've learned about how intelligence and al-Qaeda may have played a role on the decision, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:50:30] COOPER: More breaking news. Starting Friday you will not be able to carry electronic devices bigger than a smart phone on some flights, although they'll still be allowed in check baggage. There are still a lot questions about the airline electronics ban, but American and British authorities say they are trying to keep passengers safe.

Our Aviation Correspondent Rene Marsh spoke with member of Congress that's been briefs on the issue and said the decision to implement the ban on certain flights was based on new intelligence in the reevaluation of existing intelligence. When asked why now, with argument details because much of the information is classified, Rene was told the intelligence community believed the threat to be persistent and emerging in their words and -- that they had to act. Here's more from Rene Marsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security is demanding international flights from 10 overseas airports in eight mostly Muslim countries ban almost all electronics larger than a cell phone from the cabin of a plane. The U.K. following the United States lead will now ban large electronics from the cabins of certain flights, too, indicating there is intelligence that's creating concern.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's clear that with these new restrictions the United States is essentially saying that they do not have full confidence in these airports, in these various countries to stop bombs getting on planes.

MARSH (voice-over): Tonight, sources tell CNN the electronic ban was not prompted by specific plot, but in part by new intelligence. A U.S. official tells CNN, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen was perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in the batteries of electronic devices.

The information was obtained over recent weeks and months. The Department of Homeland Security said the intelligence "indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative method to undertake their attacks including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."

DHS pointed to the February 2016 mid-air bombing of a Somali passenger plane as proof of terrorist groups continued efforts to target commercial aviation. Sources say a sophisticated laptop bomb blew a hole in that aircraft, but U.S. intelligence has known for years, terror groups have been working to perfecting conceal explosives to smuggle onboard, so why such a drastic ban now?

CRUICKSHANK: One scenario is that the new administration in the United States has re-evaluated the entire threat stream to passenger aircraft taking into account all the intelligence that is come in over the last several years.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARSH: Well, Anderson, the ban is indefinite and it is unclear at this point when it would end. If airlines refuse to comply, they would lose travel certification to fly to the United States. Anderson?

COOPER: Rene Marsh, thanks very much.

Joining me now, CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security. So, Juliette, I mean, this new intelligence that AQAP has been perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in laptops and other devices, what have you been hearing about it?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's what I have been hearing from sources and people talking I've been talking to both in the previous administration and this one. This has been a highly classified threat stream over the course of several months. It was so significant that in fact some sort of training and exercises, some planning for the possibility that this could happen actually occurred at the White House.

The question that we're all asking though is what has changed that would have lead, you know, lead this threat stream to cause enactment of such of sort of dramatic security measures. There's only two options, one is there's new intelligence, right, that there is more specific intelligence. We don't know about it. The administration has not been direct about that.

The other is that a new administration has come in and has looked at the previous threat stream and, you know, maybe their risk tolerance is lower and said, "Look, we're going to put this ban on in the next, you know, three days."

COOPER: Yeah. I mean, the rollout of this, there's certainly a lot of questions as to why the Department of Homeland Security gave airlines 96 hours to comply, instead of implementing immediately.

KAYYEM: Yeah. I've never seen anything like this. In fact, it fits no model in which you have no specific threat and yet you have this sort of very hasty immediate rollout and yet you're still giving people three days to implement it. It sort of fits no previous security rollout I've ever seen before.

[21:55:02] And, remember, we're dealing with the global aviation community, millions of people in the air at any given moment. So it's going to have a dramatic impact.

COOPER: But also in terms of potential risk, I mean, it could be also dangerous to put laptops and other large electronics devices in checked bags.

KAYYEM: Yeah, that's exactly right. I've been talking to some Israeli at security officials who argue that look, you know, you could still have a cell phone detonates or you're going to have some trigger that detonates the laptop and it's actually further away from people, from flight attendants or the pilot being able to get the fire out. And so, there's going to be risks to any security measure.

I think what's sort of, you know, the burden on this administration is to explain to the American public, let alone the global community, why this action, which is impacting millions of people, is actually sort of linked to the threat that they face, because from my perspective, if you're worried about a tactic, a specific tactic, the use of a laptop, then this -- then don't you want to get laptops off of all airports, right, because someone can take a flight into London, get the laptop and then, right, to London direct to JFK and you're not going to capture them in the laptop ban.

So I think one of the issues out there for all of us is that -- is the lack of linkage between what may be a very serious threat and this sort of -- let's just say not nuanced ban that is impacting Middle East and North American countries.

COOPER: Juliette Kayyem, Juliette, thanks very much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)