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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Schiff, Pelosi: Nunes Should Recuse Himself From Russia Investigation; House Intel Chair Nunes Cancels Closed Door Session; W.H.: Trump Serious About Working With Dems; White House Looks To Tax Reform; Pres. Trump Notches His 13th Golf Course Visit. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 27, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): --in November, December and January, after the election, during the transition. Still, despite his big announcement, Nunes himself seemed unsure about all that he had been privy to.
MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: You said that the president's communications were incidentally collected, but then you said it's also possible. So, was it collected or is it possible that it's collected?
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: You know, I just don't know the answer to that yet.
RAJU: So you don't know if the president's communication --
NUNES: I know there was incidental collection regarding the president-elect and his team. I don't know if it was actually physically a phone call.
RAJU: And you don't know if it was the president himself, his communications?
NUNES: I do not know that.
KAYE (voice-over): His press conference was just the beginning. That afternoon, Chairman Nunes had bigger plans.
NUNES: And I will be going to the White House this afternoon to share what I know with the president and his team.
KAYE (voice-over): But before Nunes had a chance to brief the president, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was peppered with questions about the curious timing of it all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because the president said that he had additional information that he believed the White House or he or his representatives would present related to this investigation, what Congressman Nunes has is not related to that? SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't -- you're asking me questions that he has not briefed us. He has not briefed the president.
KAYE (voice-over): Nunes was back in front of the cameras Wednesday afternoon after talking with the president. And when asked about those claims by Donald Trump that he was wiretapped, Nunes' response was, "You could say a bit complicated."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this seem to describe what the president was talking about, he was talking about quote, wiretapping, which they then said was broader surveillance?
NUNES: You -- when you -- what I've read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal, but I don't know that it's right and I don't know that the American people will be comfortable with what I've read. Let us get all the reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the president was correct with what he tweeted?
NUNES: It is possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president said that President Obama tapped his phones. Have you see anything
NUNES: No, no, no. That did not happen.
KAYE (voice-over): Nunes was also asked why he made the decision to brief the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it appropriate for you to brief President Trump even that it's his own administration or campaign associates that are a part of this investigation? Does it appear to be interference in some form?
NUNES: Because what I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russian investigation. It has everything to do with possible surveillance activities and the president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there and I have a duty to tell him that.
KAYE (voice-over): Later on Fox News, Congressman Nunes went even further.
NUNES: I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him because as you know, he's been taking a lot of heat in the news media.
KAYE (voice-over): President Trump, meanwhile, saw and opening and took somewhat of a victory lap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel vindicated by Chairman Nunes coming over here?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I somewhat do. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found. But, I somewhat do.
KAYE (voice-over): By Thursday, both Democrats and Republicans in the nation's Capitol were reeling. Democrat's going so far as to suggest Nunes is colluding with the White House, compromising his committee's investigation into alleged ties between Trump's team and Russia. They point to his campaign ties to the president as proof.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: In another diversionary tactic, deflector-in-chief created some kind of a scenario where he either duped or the chairman of the committee was a willing stooge. He committed a stunt at the White House yesterday raising questions about Chairman Nunes' impartiality, especially giving his history as a part of the Trump transition team.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We can't conduct a credible investigation this way and the chairman really has to make a decision about whether that's his intention and that's what he wants to do or whether he is still acting as surrogate for the president.
KAYE (voice-over): Then on Friday to button the week, Nunes abruptly cancelled what was supposed to be an open hearing this week about Russia's interference, explaining that he wanted FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers to be able to speak freely in a close session.
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee blasted Nunes calling it an attempt to choke off public info. But unlike the cancelled hearing, the controversy was very much alive. In fact, Congressman Eric Swalwell hinted earlier at something that was just around the corner.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Where did he receive this information? From our knowledge, no one on his staff and no other members were a part of this, so that meant it had to be outside of the Capitol. So did he go to another agency and does that mean that the White House was a part of this? It sure seems like the White House after what came out on Monday was scrambling to do anything it could to put another smoke bomb into this investigation.
[21:05:12] KAYE (on camera): Was the White House part of this? That's the question everyone now asking, that's because we now know that Chairman Nunes was at the White House the day before his bombshell announcement. Was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where he mysteriously disappeared to after abruptly leaving his staff?
(voice-over): He did tell CNN he was not in the White House itself and that no one in the White House was aware he was there. The purpose of his visit, he said, was to, "confirm what he already knew." It was a disclosure that put the White House on its heels today, namely, who at the White House cleared him for his visit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clarification on your answer to Margaret, you said I don't know that members of Congress have to get cleared in. There is some question about that. Who in the White House signed him in essentially? SPICER: I don't know that you had -- I'll be glad to check on that. I'm not sure that that's how that works, but I will follow up on that point.
KAYE (voice-over): We followed up on that point and members of Congress do have to be cleared onto White House property. So it seems someone in the White House knew Devin Nunes was there. Who that is remains a mystery at least for now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Randy joins us. Now, it's -- I mean, it's fascinating to see that long timeline. Congressman Nunes spoke out this evening. What did he say about who let him into the White House grounds?
KAYE: Well, Anderson, as you know, he was asked directly about who cleared him onto the White House grounds and he refused to say. He did not want to get into the whole process of how he got onto the grounds, but we do know, Anderson, that he would have needed a White House staffer to actually clear him to get through that gate and get onto the grounds. So, even though he's not giving out a name, we do know that that is how the process works.
So I can also tell you that Nunes' quick to say that this was not some big secret operation that he was there on the White House grounds during the day that the sun was shining. He spoke with (inaudible) that he recognized. He spoke to people. He was trying to hide it and didn't want people to know. He said he could have gotten onto the grounds during the night.
His main point today, Anderson, was to let people know that he was there for one reason, to get into one of those skiffs, those secure rooms so he can look at those confidential documents, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi thanks very much. Back now with the panel.
Joining the conversation as well is CNN Political Commentator Jason Miller and Angela Rye. He's a former senior communications advisor for the Trump campaign and was the communications director for the Trump transition. She is the former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Gloria, I mean, does this timeline make sense? I mean, is this unusual, this whole --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's all very unusual, particularly since you have foreshadowing of this kind of information that is going to be revealed from the president and then Sean Spicer.
COOPER: Well, the president said we're going to be submitting something later on and then Sean Spicer said, "Well, let's wait and see."
BORGER: Right. And then you have Devin Nunes showing up on the White House grounds. And, you know, I was told today that this, by a source who's familiar with what Nunes was looking at, that the documentation was in control of the White House. So that's why he had to got fly, he had to go there.
And so, you know, you have to put one and one together and say, this is an effort to divert attention to change the subject. Nunes may have very good reasons for complaining about the unmasking of names in intelligence and, you know, this incidental collection, and that's a legitimate thing to look into. But it is not what he was -- is supposed to be looking into, which is the Russia investigation.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What it looks like is Trump tweeted something that had no grounding and fact.
LIZZA: And so the White House and the head of the House Intelligence Committee had to spend days figuring out what's something that could sort of be a fig leaf that would justify what he said even though it's not really what he said and that's what this entire process was and they turned to incidental collection as that fig leaf.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But even when he came out with what he said, it wasn't actually what Donald Trump had alleged?
POWERS: But what was interesting in the timeline, of course, it ends with Donald Trump coming out and saying he's been vindicated. So it's just whole, like, just leading all the way up to this of him being vindicated even though he wasn't vindicated, and so it sort of the charade.
COOPER: And, Jason, I mean, first Chairman Nunes said that the story was about surveillance activities, that he felt the president needed to be aware of. And then to Sean Hannity he said that it was his duty to brief the president because he was, "taking a lot of heat in the news media." Does that seem --
JASON MILLOR, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: You know, look, I think the biggest surprise today is that Nancy Pelosi is still around and we haven't seen her in a quite a bit, and so for her to jump in and --
COOPER: But, I guess, is it the chairman's job to protect the president from taking heat in the news media?
MILLER: I think, clearly, Chairman Nunes saw something that really concern. I mean, he brought it forward. I mean, look, the focus right now shouldn't be on the palace intrigue and the tick talk, it should be on what exactly Chairman Nunes saw and what he was so concern about that he brought to the president. And quite, frankly, I don't understand why the Democrats are calling for Chairman Nunes to step aside.
[21:10:04] This is supposedly an investigation into alleged collusion between the campaign and some (inaudible) before the election. Chairman Nunes has said very clearly, this is something that was after the election. It had nothing to do with Russia.
COOPER: They were looking for any contacts, but this has nothing to do with Russia at all.
MILLER: But that was to my point that it such a political stretch and quite, frankly, as someone who's partisan as a Republican, I'm glad to see the Democrats really overplay their hand here and I think it will be egg on their face.
COOPER: Mary Katharine?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So what is worth, Nunes did tell to Eli Lake, Bloomberg News, that his source was an intelligence official, not a White House official.
HAM: Just to put that out there. Look, I think it was a far better way to handle this because he's in the situation -- I think it actually is part of his job to investigate wrongdoing if he thinks it's there in the Intel community as the House Intelligence had. But, because you're doing this other investigation, you do it in the cleanest way possible, and you bring forth this information and you got it in a very serious way and it does not appear to be what happened here.
But I will say, I have no chill about the idea, the incidental information on any American citizen that sort of passed around like candy in a fun way within any administration. I do think that we give tremendous power to these entities and as a libertarian, I just want to say that that can be a problem. The Russian investigation is also an issue.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Mary Katharine, speaking of no chill, I don't have any either, because we're talking about Donald Trump once again throwing a story line, instead of us talking about missing D.C. girl, instead of us talking about a white supremacist that killed a black man and had plans to kill more black people just because of who they were, instead of us talking about the health care debacle, we're talking about something that didn't happen that your president can't even spell, tap.
RYE: No, no, I'm not directing that to anybody else besides me, because --
RYE: So, I think that the bigger issue that I have, speaking of having no chill, is that if this would have been under the Obama administration, there would be no end to this. Barack Obama had to be the next best thing to Jesus and here we are just two months in and isn't change and there is issue after issue. Maybe it's not Russian collusion, maybe it's collusion with the Intel committee chair, but it's highly problematic. There are skiffs on the hill that this chairman could have went to, to get the classified information that he needed to be briefed on.
MILLER: But not to contain that information, he said that today.
RYE: I think that the bigger issue that we have here is the Intel committee chairman all of a sudden has forgotten what procedures he needs to undergo, to study and learn and/or brief someone on classified information.
COOPER: But it's also interesting, I mean, there was at the beginning of last week, this bombshell of a hearing where Director Comey makes the statement and there was a certain amount of momentum to that and then Chairman Nunes has made several unilateral decisions basically to cancel the public hearing, which was supposed to take place tomorrow, which was essentially going advance this investigation, said it was going to be a closed door hearing with bringing back Comey and Rogers. That's now been canceled.
LIZZA: And, you know, what it looks like to me is Schiff and Nunes negotiated a very wide scope for a serious investigation and after Monday's hearing Nunes said, "Wait a second, maybe I made a mistake here. These guys just killed us, killed Republicans that talking about a criminal investigation of Trump. Maybe I need to put the genie back in the bottle, because everything he has done since Monday has been to dismiss, put up a smoke screen about what happened that hearing and shut down the public about the hearing."
COOPER: We got to just take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation. Ahead, the united fund that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff had been presenting. That is certainly history (ph). Schiff now, calling for Nunes to step aside.
What Congressman Schiff told Phil Mattingly just before we went on air, plus the panels' take and the White House playing blame game before and wide for the failed GOP health care bill. The blame game they're playing sounds familiar to some who've watched Donald Trump over the years. Details on that, ahead.
[21:17:27] COOPER: Well, breaking news tonight, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff in calling on the committee's Republican chairman, Congressman Devin Nunes, to recuse himself from the investigation of Russia's meddling the U.S. election in any possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Congressman Nunes is standing by his decision to go directly to President Trump with the information he say suggest that communications of then President-elect Trump and his advisers may have been swept up in surveillance about their foreign nationals. Phil Mattingly spoke with Congressman Schiff just before he went on air tonight. He joins me now. So what did Ranking Member Schiff tell you?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really interesting, Anderson. Just 24 hours ago, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee said that he was dedicated to pushing through, even after kind of a wild week with the chairman of that committee, wanted to continue to press forward. Today, that changed. Take a listen as to why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: You're making a point that this doesn't -- this isn't just because of the Russian investigation, it's broader than that in your view?
SCHIFF: Well, I believe that, you know, much like the attorney general recused himself from overseeing the Russian investigation at this point, it would be wise for the chairman to do the same thing, not just the Russian investigation, but if he is making claims about minimization of procedures of whether they were followed with respect to the transition team.
The chairman was a member of that transition team, so I don't think he can properly oversee that element as well. So, I would hope that he would recuse himself from those two facets of our oversight work, because I think it would enhance the public trust that we're doing our investigation creditably in a nonpartisan way insulated from any interference from the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIIP)
MATTINGLY: Anderson, just some context to underscore how big a deal this actually is. This committee is traditionally a bipartisan committee. On this committee, the chairman and the ranking member, which ever party they come from, tend to work together very, very closely. They try and mimic what happens on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is a major break with major ramifications going forward, not just for the Russia investigation, but really the committee's work all about, Anderson.
COOPER: So, if I'm hearing correctly, it's what Congressman Nunes actually discovered that Ranking Member Schiff believes disqualifies him?
MATTINGLY: Yeah, that's exactly right. It was not necessarily the ideas that perhaps he was too tight at the Trump administration related to the Russian investigation. It was specifically the chairman's own relationship over the course of the transition and how that actually ties in with what he saw. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: It's not a secret that he was on the transition team and up to this point you've been OK with him leading this investigation what -- it wasn't just his visit to the White House that changed everything in your view? [21:20:05] SCHIFF: Well, its two things. First, it was the -- sort of dead of night meeting at the White House and then later returning to the White House with whatever information he got at the White House. But more than that, to the degree that was his claiming now goes to whether there was incidental collection on members of the transition team, that's a different issue than we were looking at before, particularly if he says this doesn't involve the Russian investigation.
If we are going to look at whether proper organization procedures were followed vis-a-vis the transition team, we can't have a member of that transition team, I think, doing the oversight. So in those two areas, I think it makes sense for the chairman to recuse himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)]
MATTINGLY: Anderson, Chairman Nunes' defense has been once, again, as you heard Ranking Membership Schiff say, what he was looking at, what he has seem, which, again, nobody else has seen up to this point had nothing to do with the Russian investigation. And because of that, he should be able to maintain his role and continued pressing forward with that investigation.
What ranking membership is saying specifically right now is, because he was on the transition team, because that was the transition team that Chairman Nunes is now saying was surveilled and, perhaps, some of those individuals were also unmasked. He is now conflicted, and that is the exact reason why he needs to step away not just from the Russian investigation, but from anything that has to do with everything that he's looking into right now, Anderson.
COOPER: So, where does the investigation go? I mean, they were have -- supposed to have public meeting tomorrow, and then that was cancelled, and then there was supposed to have a private meeting behind closed doors, classified meeting, that's cancelled. Is there another meeting scheduled?
MATTINGLY: As of now, there isn't. And I think, look, this has been a divisive last nine or 10 days for the Republicans and Democrats on this committee, and clearly, that reach ahead in which in kind of an implosion of sorts.
I think it's worth noting, Chairman Nunes has said he plans on pressing forward. I asked Ranking Member Schiff if at this point that their relationship was essentially broken? He said, no. He still plan on working with Chairman Nunes on the other issues that the committee has to deal with, but when it comes to the Russian investigation, and then when it comes to what Chairman Nunes specifically found, the ranking member now feels it's time for him to step away.
As you noted, Anderson, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also called for the same thing, a number of Democrats on the committee have as well. Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat has called for the same thing. The question now becomes, is anything going to happen on this? As we've seen up to this point, Chairman Nunes' declined to comment specifically on what Ranking Member Schiff has said, but he said repeatedly, he plans to press forward. And it's important to note, Speaker Paul Ryan has said repeatedly throughout the day, I talked to his spokes people, other people from CNN have spoken to this spokes people, that the speaker himself remains fully confident not just in his ability to run this Russian investigation, but also in his role as chair.
So right now, we are out of (inaudible). We're at kind of a tipping point here. There's no real idea as to what's going to happen going forward. The question becomes now, not only does these investigations continue to move forward, but how does this committee actually continue to operate, Anderson.
COOPER: Phil Mattingly, thanks very much. Back now with the panel.
Kirsten, I mean, if -- for the American people who are watching this and, you know, if those who care about the possibility of -- well, the fact that Russia's meddling in the election and want a bipartisan fact-finding commission, they want to get to the bottom of this, should this House Committee continue?
POWERS: Well, I think there are a lot of reasons to be concerned. I mean, just listening to all the different things that have been laid out, I think it just raises some questions about whether Congressman Nunes can move forward in a way that, I think makes people feel that he can be unbiased. I mean, if he has these conflicts.
And I think even absent (ph) what Phil Mattingly was just talking about, I think the fact that he has already sort of raised these questions about how he got this information, did he possibly get it through the White House, did he possibly do this to help Donald Trump, he has said in an interview that, you know, Donald Trump was getting a lot of heat in the media. It's just raises a lot of questions about whether this is a person that's really an unbiased arbiter overseeing an investigation.
COOPER: And it would seem -- I mean, that both sides would want whatever investigations are done to be as transparent as possible and also to be credible so that whatever the resolution is, people will actually believe it.
BORGER: Of course. And this is the time you say thank goodness there is the Senate as well as the House, because the House Committee has basically collapsed. And I think what we saw Schiff do very deftly, just in his interview with Phil, is to call Nunes' bluff.
And he said, "OK, you're interested in investigating all this incidental collection, which unmasked people you shouldn't have unmasked, well, that was on the transition team and by the way, you were a member of that transition team, so you can't do it because you're conflicted out of that." So, you know, it -- he sort of said to him, "Well, you just dug your own grave here."
COOPER: Is that (inaudible)? LIZZA: Schiff's don't tell me.
LIZZA: He was a very smart prosecutor. It sounds like a conflict to me. It just sounds like everything Nunes has done in the last week has -- I don't know if this was his plan, but it's essentially blown up this committee's investigation.
[21:25:08] As you pointed out, Anderson, they were supposed to have a big public hearing tomorrow with Sally Yates.
COOPER: Right. Sally Yates, Clapper.
LIZZA: Yeah. And that's done and then they said, "OK, well, instead of that, we want this private hearing because we wanted to bring Comey and Rogers back in." Now, that's apparently --
LIZZA: There's nothing left for them to do.
MILLER: Not exactly Switzerland in this process. I mean, you look at his blind allegiance to Loretta Lynch last year. You look at his support for Hillary Clinton. It's not that he's this truly this neutral arbiter in the entire situation.
COOPER: Well, which also then raises a question -- I mean, again, is this -- I mean, we saw the divide in the first hearing when all the questions, most of the questions from Republicans were about leaks, most of the questions from Democrats who are trying to point a picture of collusion. So, is this really bipartisan? Is this really a fair commission?
MILLER: I think this is the way it plays out. You have Republicans and Democrats both up there and have their opportunity. But, again, I still think the fact that we're getting much more into the intrigue and process. In fact, you saw Ranking Member Schiff say that the supposed dead of the night --
COOPER: Right. But if Republicans already think Schiff isn't legit or isn't, you know, that Schiff clearly is not neutral, Democrats clearly think Republicans aren't --
HAM: I say, look ye not to the House to straighten this out.
COOPER: Are talking in old English?
HAM: Because, I do think this is extremely partisan, at this point and the intrigue is taking over because there's intrigue and, you know, Trump surrounding circles tend to create intrigue. So the Senate and FBI seem to have healthy investigations going on, which is good because I am interested in finding out about secret of collusion within the government, whether it's Obama doing secret deals with Iran or the possibility of Trump colluding with Russia.
RYE: So, you know, I'm glad Jason brought up Loretta Lynch, because if we're going to say that that is the desired outcome, she recused herself from an ongoing investigation. So if that is the standard, and let's be very clear that Loretta Lynch was not part of a transition team. She was an appointee from -- back in a day with Bill Clinton. Yes, he had a meeting that appeared sloppy, appearances terrible, him tap toeing, dropping down in the dead of night --
RYE: -- and I guess what I'm telling you is she recused herself. So I'm eager to see him. I'm eager to see him not only recuse himself from this investigation, I would like to see him step aside as Intel committee chair.
MILLER: That's not what Schiff wanted.
RYE: Well, I'm telling you what I want. Now, I'm glad you brought --
BORGER: The House is going to be irrelevant. Now, it wouldn't be the first time honestly, but they are going to be irrelevant. And the Senate could take over and you could have an independent investigation, which I believe also Republicans don't want, because those things tend to grow and grow and grow. And I think that wouldn't -- I don't think the White House would want it. I don't think Republicans would want it. But they could be backing into that right now.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Up next, the new tone from the White House after failing to get Obamacare repealed and replaced. A new insight and what is expected to be Trump's teams' next fight, tax reform. We'll be right back
[21:31:52] COOPER: Different tone today from the White House after failing to get the GOP health care bill passed last week. President Trump blamed Democrats for the bill's failure on Friday, then over the weekend, he blamed conservatives for the bill's demise. And a twist this afternoon, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said the president is serious about working with Democrats to push his agenda forward. And the next battle could be tax reform.
I want to talk about it all with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. He's now a professor at U.C. Berkeley and author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few". Also with us is CNN Economics Analyst Stephen Moore, former senior economic advisor of the Trump campaign. He's now a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Stephen, I want to ask you about this tweet from President Trump over the weekend, "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Obamacare." You're a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, I'm wondering what your reaction to that is?
STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMOIC ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of what happened. I think that the real story of what happened is Republicans made this much more difficult. I think if Donald Trump had a do-over, you don't get those in politics, but I do think they're going to eventually get Obamacare repealed. But if they could rerun the last six weeks, they would have just run a straight repeal of Obamacare, make it effective January 1, 2019 so the insurance market have plenty of time to adjust, people don't lost their insurance.
I think this got too complicated for people. I think that the, you know, that the approval rating of that Republican plan was falling and the support for it fell apart. But, -- well, I still think there's plenty of support within the Republican caucus. I think you get to two-way team votes in the House by simply outright repealing the bill entirely. And that is exactly where I think Republicans should go at this point.
COOPER: Secretary Reich, I talked to one member of Congress, a Republican who was involved in writing the bill who said it was the Freedom Caucus and that actually maybe what needs to be done is keep Obamacare and try to fix it with some Democrats.
MOORE: Well, I'll tell you this Anderson --
(CROSSTALK) MOORE: Bob, one quick thing. If Republicans keep Obamacare, if they haven't repealed it by November of 2018, they will lose the House and Senate, it's that simple.
COOPER: Secretary Reich?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I think that that's ridiculous. That's absolutely absurd. In fact, one of the problems that the Republicans ran into is the knowledge that Republicans had who are going to be up for re-election next year, that next year alone, 14 million people would have lost their health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office, if there was a repeal of so-called Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. And so, Republicans are not stupid. They know that their constituents want the Affordable Care Act. They want what they already have. They don't want to see it gone.
And, you know, the other thing, Anderson, is that the so-called Freedom Caucus. I mean, this group of people, they all pledged to one another that they're not going -- go along with whatever Trump wanted with regard to any kind of replacement. I mean, they wanted just straight repeal, as Stephen Moore just said.
And straight repeal would be a huge burden on Americans, even more than 14 million would lose. If it's just repeal, if there's not even an attempt to replace, I mean, that is cruel and unusual. Why in the world would any Republicans want to do that if they are, again, if they expect that they're going to be re-elected? I mean, that hurts people. [12:35:05] COOPER: Well, Stephen, let me ask you that because my understanding is that the strategy behind that is pass a repeal and then that -- for down the road and then that force is pressure for everybody to get on board with some sort of replacement knowing it is going to happen.
MOORE: Yeah. Well, thank you for correctly characterizing my position. And that was the position of a lot of Republicans. I think voters didn't think that you were going to get some kind of, you know, contraption machine to deal with the health care. They thought that Obamacare, which is -- look, the problem with your argument, Bob, is Obamacare. If we stay under the Obamacare train, we're going to see three times as many people lose their health insurance. There's going to be any health insurance market left.
REICH: And is simply --
MOORE: That's true. I mean --
REICH: The Congressional Budget Office said there was --
COOPER: One at a time. Secretary Reich?
REICH: The Congressional Budget Office said there was no death spiral at all and there can be minor fixes. I mean, it's not perfect obviously. You know, you want -- you don't want the major insurance companies to merge as quickly as they are merging into three or four giant insurance companies that have extraordinary bargaining leverage to (inaudible) jack up prices.
COOPER: Let me ask you, the idea that the White House could be willing to work with Democrats just days after blaming them for the health care bill's failure, I mean, do you think Democrats would actually be willing to work with the administration going forward?
REICH: I think Democrats would be wise to say, look, if you want to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, we are willing to work with you and here are a bunch of ideas we have, including, for example, having a kind of Medicare option that was considered in 2010. It was never put in, but if you want to make sure that there are enough choices on the exchanges for the Affordable Care Act, you do have an option to opt into Medicare.
COOPER: OK. So, Stephen, how difficult is it now to move on to tax reform? I mean, given the inability to pass health care and also some of the money that was supposed to be used for tax reform was supposed to come from changes in health care system.
MOORE: Well, just one quick thing before I answer that, because I got to respond to what Bob just said about the Obamacare. I mean, I just got back a week ago from Arizona. As you know, Anderson, the premiums doubled in one year under Obamacare. Bob, middle class families can't afford Obamacare. Their premiums --
REICH: You're absolutely wrong. In fact, the Affordable Care Act is designed so that the subsidies go up as the premiums go up. And the reason the premiums are going up is the fact we have an entire health care system that were the premiums are going up because you've got the baby boomers who are getting -- who are demanding more and more health care. This is why we need a single-payer system.
MOORE: Are you in favor of allowing --
REICH: Eventually, we're going to have a single-payer system.
MOORE: Are you in favor of allowing the people to buy insurance across state lines? That would dramatically increase the competition.
REICH: Yes, but the Republicans did not -- the Republicans, Stephen Moore, the Republicans did not advance that. I mean --
MOORE: I wish they had.
REICH: -- you keep on coming up with ideas if you -- why did the Republicans not even suggest that? That was not in the bill?
MOORE: Well, it was (inaudible) Trump bill (ph). But let me answer your question, Anderson, about tax reform. It raises the stakes, Republicans definitely need -- and Trump need a W here. They need a victory. I think we are going to get tax reform done. And I'd love to see a bill that even Bob Reich might support, which would be, you know, cut the business taxes so we're competitive, we bring jobs back home.
Bob, I'd be in favor of what you supported a long time, you know, add some infrastructure spending in there. Let's get Democrats and Republicans to have a jobs bill that brings a lot of jobs back home.
COOPER: All right.
REICH: You know, Steve, the problem is you just said something that I absolutely don't understand. You said cut corporate taxes so we can be competitive again. You think American companies that are now swimming in money, they're doing better than they've ever done in the past, you think they are not competitive somehow. They need a giant tax cut in order --
REICH: That is absurd.
MOORE: How many American businesses have to leave the United States, whether it's Medtronic, Johnson Controls, Pfizer, Walgreen, they're all leaving because of taxes.
REICH: They are doing extraordinarily well. They don't need a tax subsidy from Americans.
COOPER: Secretary Reich, I appreciate it. To be continued. Stephen Moore, thank you guys. Appreciate it.
Up next, how it seems President Trump tries to shift the story when things don't go his way. We have a new example. A new tweet he just posted moments ago and I'll talk to two people who've seen this tactic many, many times. They followed President Trump for decades. We'll be right back.
[12:43:20] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight as we continue to report on the calls for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to step aside. Just minutes ago, President Trump tweeted, "Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill and Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech money to Bill, the Hillary Russian reset, praise of Russia by Hillary or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax."
President Trump is coming off a bad week. Last Monday at the House Intel Committee's first public hearing, FBI Director James Comey testified that the agency is investigating possible collusion between Russia, or connections between Russia and the Trump campaign. Last week ended with Mr. Trump's signature promise to repeal and replace Obamacare obviously going down in defeat.
Now, from past experience we know that -- before he was president, Mr. Trump often tried to change the story line when it was casting him in unfavorable light, which may explain his latest tweets.
Joining us to talk about that, two men who know a lot about Donald Trump, Timothy O'Brien, the author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald," the book that prompted a lawsuit from Donald Trump, and Michael D'Antonio, a CNN Contributor and the author of "The Truth About Trump."
Tim, so, I mean, it is a tactic the president used a lot of his career. Don't accept responsibility for failures, assign blame elsewhere. Is he essentially using the same play book as a politician that he used as a businessman?
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD": I don't even think it's a play book, Anderson. I don't think he can help himself. I think he's somebody who throughout his whole life he's been insulated. I think in part because of wealth, but also in part because of his own bravado from the consequences of his own mistakes. And there's been these repeated examples since he was in his mid 20s where when anything went wrong he would simply turn the radar in a different direction and blame it on everyone around him.
[21:45:05] You know, he went into the USFL and essentially blew the league up and blamed it on the other teams, blamed it on everyone else's mistakes, blamed it on the NFL. It wasn't his fault.
He goes to Atlantic City. He blows up a robust casino business and ends up saying that it was because Atlantic City was a tough place to do business, which is a little bit similar to the automobile companies saying they had problems because they were headquartered in Detroit.
And now last week, you see all of these same shortcomings haunt the process around health care legislation, his impatience, his inability to form teams, prioritizing charisma ahead of coalition building. And when it all comes home to roost and they have to pull the bill, he first blames the entire Democratic Party, then he blames Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and then the next day, it's the conservative wing of the Republican Party, and the next night it's Paul Ryan and on and on.
COOPER: You know, Michael, I mean, it's so interesting because really one of the main selling points for Donald Trump as a candidate was this whole idea besides, you know, his communication abilities and his positions that many people supported, was the idea that he was this successful businessman who could get deals done, who would get people in a room, Democrats, Republicans and just make stuff happen that he could bring the business world to the world of government and clearly that was a massive defeat that he got on Friday.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well it was a massive defeat.
And I think one thing we didn't really appreciate about Donald Trump was that when he talks about making great deals, he was really just talking about making great deals for Donald Trump. These were never business arrangements where you heard lots of people come out of the room and say, "We did really well. We're really glad to have been in partnership with Mr. Trump. We're all going to make a ton of money."
This was a guy who was an entrepreneur, but also the head of a family business where he could call the shots himself and take the gain himself or walk away. And it's much different to try to influence 247 Republicans in Congress, to move men and women, many of whom he's insulted along the way, toward his position.
And I think the last thing that we need to appreciate is that his heart may not have been in this at all, because he didn't take the time to learn the details of the bill and that was a complaint that came out of the Republican caucus when they --
D'ANTONIO: -- were finished meeting was he didn't know what he was talking about.
COOPER: But, you know, Tim, it's so interesting this whole idea of running a family business is different than even running, you know, a company with shareholders who you are responsible for with, you know, public accounting. I mean, it's a much more insular world, it's a small grouping that Donald Trump has always had around him. And in some ways, it seems like that's kind of how the White House is organized, which is unlike any White House we've seen in recent memory.
O'BRIEN: Right. I mean, he's come out of this mom and pop shop essentially where all the outcomes were essentially binary. He had one person across the table. They more-or-less were bargaining over the same thing.
He comes to Washington and he's dealing with a population of politicians who have constituents back home, they have their own set of values and they have their own reputations to think about. And none of that necessarily corresponds with the interests of a president who has a very out-sized ego.
COOPER: And by blaming, Michael, the Freedom Caucus encouraging people to watch Judge Jeanine Pirro slam Speaker Paul Ryan on Fox News, which -- I mean, maybe he knew she was going to or maybe he didn't, although it seems odd that he would recommend people watch the show and that's what she does off the top of a show.
I mean, it does show kind of inexperience, because it's a different world when you're president unable to fire someone who didn't perform as expected. I mean, he said publicly supports Paul Ryan and then tells people to watch a show where they're going after him.
D'ANTONIO: Well, right. And as soon as that happened it seemed to me that he was going to pivot toward the Democrats. And what's interesting about Trump and people have said this is that he is a New Yorker. He is not --
D'ANTONIO: -- really a small government kind of guy. I think he'd be comfortable working out a deal with Chuck Schumer. If Schumer will talk to him, he'll do the deal.
COOPER: Yeah. Michael D'Antonio, Tim O'Brien, thanks so much.
Still ahead, the golfer in chief, President Trump spent Sunday playing golf at one of his courses and normally wouldn't report on something like this. But he did say time and time again during the campaign attacking President Obama playing golf saying he would never do it. Details ahead.
[21:52:50] COOPER: This weekend, President Trump visited the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. It was his 13th visit to one of his courses since he took office in January.
Now, playing golf is something candidate Trump sharply criticized President Obama for a while on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Obama, it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf. He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.
They plays more golf than people on the PGA Tour.
Golf, golf, golf, golf, more, more, learning how to chip, learning how to hit the drive, learning how to putt, oh, I want more.
I love golf. I think it's one of the greats, but I don't have time.
I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf.
I wouldn't leave the White House very much, because, you know, like little things like these little trips where they get -- they cost you a fortune.
If I were in the White House, I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again. I don't think I'd ever see Doral again. I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right? Who's going to leave?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But, President Trump does leave. In fact, he spent the last eight weekends visiting properties bearing his name. It is raising new questions about potential conflicts of interest. Tom Foreman tonight has more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A key question of the transition was how far would President Trump step away from all his business interests?
TRUMP: We sell water and we have water.
We have Trump Steaks.
We have Trump magazine.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The answer, not very. Almost every three days since taking office, he's stopped by a Trump building, Trump hotel or Trump resort, according to a breakdown by the "Washington Post". And he's been to golf courses so many times. His press secretary is playing defense.
SPICER: So on a couple of occasions he's actually conducted meetings there, he's actually had phone calls, so just because he heads there doesn't mean that that's what's happening.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But all that activity behind closed doors with no oversight is making government watchdogs nervous. Democrats are pushing for legislation demanding visitor logs at places like his Mar- a-Lago resort.
LARRY NOBLE, GENERAL COUNSEL FOR CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: He's really making his business part of the government, or the government part of his business.
TRUMP: You know, I'm a good golfer, believe it or not.
FOREMAN (voice-over): It's also presenting a big P.R. problem. When Barack Obama was president, no one was more critical of his time spent golfing than Donald Trump.
[21:55:02] TRUMP: He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.
FOREMAN: When Louisiana flooded, the candidate famously went after the chief executive for going golfing before going to the flood zone.
TRUMP: And honestly, Obama ought to get off the golf course and get down there.
FOREMAN: And candidate Trump insisted if he won the election, he might never see his own golf courses again.
TRUMP: And I love golf. But if I were in the White House, I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again. I don't think I'd ever see Doral again. I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right? Who's going to leave?
FOREMAN: But while President Obama did not hit the links until April after his first inauguration, and he provided a list of his playing partners, President Trump has visited golf courses 13 times already. And while he does not reveal if he's playing or with whom, it's clearly happening enough to shred his campaign claim.
TRUMP: I'm not going to have time to go play golf, believe me.
FOREMAN: Of course, the president's defenders say this is all just a bunch of petty political squabbling. But, once again, the question is in front of us. When is Donald Trump acting as a public servant and when is he a private citizen? Anderson?
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's about all the time we have. Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a stunning turn of events involving the House investigation into ties between the Trump campaign team and --