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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: New Terrorist Laptop Bombs May Evade Security; Schiff Reviews Controversial Intelligence At White House; Sources: No Indication FBI Will Grant Flynn Immunity; Intel Member: Innocent People Don't Seek Immunity. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 31, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Top in the second hour of "360," a CNN exclusive. What our sources were telling us about new bombs made to be built into laptops tested on the very airport security equipment they are designed to defeat. CNN has learned that the intelligence on these devices is the same intelligence behind the recent ban on laptops in the cabins of certain flights in the U.S.
Our Evan Perez and Barbara Starr did the reporting in all of this. They joined us now. So, Evan, what's the latest? What did you learn?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in the electronic devices that FBI testing shows can evade some commonly use airport screening devices.
Terror bomb makers have come up with the rate of high explosives in the battery compartments, but still have the laptop turned on long enough to get pass the airport screeners. In December, FBI experts reported that they tested variance of the laptop bombs using different battery and explosives configurations to assess how difficult it would be for the airport screeners to detect them.
Now, using TSA rated machines, the testers found that the machines have a far more difficult time detecting these new types of bombs, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Barbara, there's no information about how terrorist are protecting their skills on this.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're calling themselves very handy technology in all of this, Anderson. The intelligence is indicating, according to the officials we spoken to, that ISIS, other terror groups are perfecting it and that they may have come into possession of airport technology, screening technology.
What does that allow them to do? It allows them to basically fabricate a device and then test it against screening technology, see how much progress they make, see how they can get something through this kind of technological screening.
It is not just ISIS in Iraq, there is al-Qaeda in Iraq, there is al- Qaeda in Yemen. All of the intelligence is pointing to all of these groups really stepping up their efforts to try and attack commercial aviation, especially aviation coming into the United States, al-Qaeda in Yemen or member of the Christmas day bomber back in 2009, the so- called "Underwear Bomber." They came very close as an airplane landed in Detroit to someone detonating a bomb on their body.
So, this is all part of the reason you are seeing the growing concern, all of this contributing to the ban on consumer electronics when you fly. Anderson?
COOPER: And, Evan, the TSA limited the ban to direct flights only from specific countries. So with this new information, the government still -- they're not widening the laptop ban.
PEREZ: Not just yet. And that's a big question. The explanation that was given when the ban was introduced, Anderson, was that the U.S. and the European countries had layered security that greatly improves the chances of detecting explosives, beyond just the screening equipment.
We heard from the Homeland Security Department tonight, they gave us statement that says in part, "The U.S. government continually reassesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence," this allowing DHS and TSA to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements when they are deemed necessary to keep passengers safe.
As always, all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Evan Perez, appreciate it. Barbara Starr as well.
I want to bring in our national security panel, Bob Baer, Juliette Kayyem, John Pistole and Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward.
Bob, how concerned, first of all, are you about all of this?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Very concerned. If they've managed to make batteries, Anderson, into explosives or hide explosives or in this case probably chemicals, a mixture of chemicals, that's a new development and it's never been seen before. And getting through airport security is fairly easy.
I mean, explosives -- emanate nitrates, they're easily detectable in countries like Amman, where this ban is in effect. But, chemicals are not -- they find a way to mix chemicals inside of a battery in a laptop. It's almost undetectable.
COOPER: Clarissa, I mean, you follow these terror groups for many year. They've certainly been trying to perfect these types of devices for a long time. They moved to more sophisticated high tech explosives. You pointed out for them there is no greater prize than bringing down some like a commercial aircraft.
CLARRISSA WARD, CNN SENIORT INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Anderson. And this is even predate 9/11. It's an almost an obsession with all of these various extremist groups around the globe. This is seen as the holy grail, because essentially in one fell swoop you both absolutely maximize your casualties, because, of course, everybody on board is killed. But you also deal a real blow to the commercial aviation industry, and to the very concept of our way of life in this global world that we live in.
[21:05:07] So, we've seen a lot of different incarnations, various levels of sophistication from AQAP or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in Yemen as its known, whose master bomb-maker, al-Asiri, was using both liquids at one stage, she was involved with underwear bomber, then we saw ISIS getting involved in the game. They were the ones who took down the Russian metro jet in the Sinai Peninsula using a soda can filled with explosives that was stored actually in the holt (ph).
But if you look at some of the bomb factories and some of the weapons factories that we have seen with ISIS in Mosul, it's really noticeable how much more sophisticated their technology and their ambitions have become, whether it's using drones, whether it's trying to develop planes, whether it's working on driverless cars. They have almost started to match al-Qaeda in Yemen, which had traditionally been at the sort of forefront of this effort to come up with this kind of technology, Anderson.
COOPER: Yeah. And, John, I mean, you were the head of TSA for years, how concerned are you that according to this intelligence some terrorists have actually obtained airport security equipment to test how to more effectively conceal this kind of explosives?
JOHN PISTOLE, FORMER TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, that is a critical factor, Anderson. And so from TSA, DHS' perspective, and really the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement community, they really look at three criteria for each of the almost 275 airports that have non-stop service to the U.S. on an almost daily basis, and that's really -- what are the policies that the country has in effect at that particular airport. And by that, I mean, do they use intelligence, actionable credible intelligence, tactical intelligence on a front end to inform their policies?
Second, do they have procedures in place, and by that, I'm talking about what type of equipment, because the vast majority of those 275 airports have walk-through metal detectors and some pretty basic technology as opposed to the advanced imaging technology that we have here in the U.S. and in many of our largest airports.
And then the third is personnel. What type of vetting do they do with their personnel that have access to the sterile side, the safe side of the airport and are they trusted in some level of confidence with those personnel? So you look at those three criteria and you make an assessment, what kind of confidence does U.S. governments and U.S. airlines and others have in those policies, those procedures and those personnel to make judgments, and that's what led to this ban from those 10 airports?
COOPER: Juliette, I mean, do you see this ban on laptops, you know, on board flights, I mean, as potentially going further because of this? I mean, it's not realistic to get to a place where no one can bring a laptop onto an aircraft.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: That's exactly right. I mean, if you just look -- think about the global aviation system, you know, almost 2 million domestic passengers here in the United States, 100,000 flights a day, it is too big, too massive, and so the harsher the security apparatus is, the less flow we'll have for global economy, for tourism, for all the things that make the world today have flow, essentially.
And so what your viewers currently know, what we know is you're not going to get airport security safe. You can make it safer and you can make airline travel safer and so you put in different security, layered security, to try to minimize the risk to passengers. And so the question is, is this one laptop ban worth it in various airports as compared, right, to the likelihood that you're going to minimize the risk.
From the outside, it's somewhat incomprehensible at this stage, I'll be honest with you, because Britain has different airports chosen as compared to the United States and they -- those don't match. And, of course, we know Paris isn't a covered airport, and we have -- there's plenty of problems with radicalization there. So, you either should have the complete ban or more targeted intelligence. That's the only way to do it and sort of insure security.
COOPER: Yeah, troubling. Appreciate all of your comments. Thank you.
Coming up next, more breaking news with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says about his visit to the White House and his conversation with the president, his administration, he is in fact obviously investigating. We'll be right back.
[21:13:01] COOPER: Breaking news tonight from the White House. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, speaking out about his visit their today, which included a meeting with the president and a look at the intelligence that the embattle Committee Chairman Devin Nunes says he saw.
And on top of that, there are new developments in the Michael Flynn immunity story, the larger Russia story in how the entire potentially toxic mix is sipping deeper into official Washington. More as well into the continuing White House effort to say that none of the above -- excuse me, matters more than the alleged unsubstantiated and possibly nonexistent leaks with the intelligence and national security committee.
So, as we've been doing all week, it is time once again to done a paravirtual sure reality goggles and try not to blink. There's a lot to see when Flynn, his fired national security adviser, the president first tweeted about him this morning and later shut down a press event when asked about it.
At 7:04 a.m. he tweeted, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity and that this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss, by media and Dems, of historic proportion." So many words bring it on.
Later though, no (inaudible) at all. He had nothing to say in what was supposed to be a televised signing ceremony for some executive orders. Take a look what he did when CBS's Major Garrett yelled out a question about Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, everybody. You're going to see some very, very strong results very, very quickly. Thank you very much.
MAJOR GARRETT, CBS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, today with your tweet, were you trying to tell the Justice Department to grant immunity to Michael Flynn? Were you trying to do that, Mr. President? Was that your intention, Mr. President, sir? Mr. President, was that your intention Mr. President? Is that you intention, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As soon as the question from Major Garrett came, he walked out of the room, motioned to the other room, the vice president picked up the folders containing the paperwork and the rest takes place off camera. Now, just part of that, his Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Michael Flynn. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn's attorney said that his client has a story to tell. Is the White House concerned that General Flynn has damaging information about the president, his aides and associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to Russia?
[21:15:04] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And now as unconcerned as Sean Spicer appears to be about Flynn testifying and as eager as the president appeared to be at least in his tweet this morning, one influential congressman Republican disagrees. Jason Chaffetz, who would chair as the House Oversight Committee, was asked if he believes as the president does that this is all a witch hunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R-UT) HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: No, I don't think it's a witch hunt. I'd like -- it's very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden General Flynn is suddenly out there saying he wants immunity. That -- A, I don't think Congress should give him immunity. If there's an open investigation by the FBI, that should not happen. I also don't believe actually that the president should be weighing on this. They're the ones that actually would prosecute something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As we said, this is just one of many related stories tonight, including Sean Spicer calling Devin Nunes' visit, "routine and proper," and Adam Schiff speaking out about his White House visit.
Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House with much more. So what did the White House have to say about Schiff's visit this afternoon?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Anderson, in addition to Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee having that chance to look at this documents over here. He did meet with President Trump for about 10 minutes. The White House says it was a cordial meeting, but it's interesting to listen to what Adam Schiff -- or read, I guess, what he said after this trip over here to the White House.
His office released a statement saying that according to the Congressman, what he was told over here by White House officials is that he was being presented with the same documents that were given to and shown to the chairman of the committee, Devin Nunes.
Now, what Adam Schiff says in the statement I think is also fascinating. He says, the White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with about one member of either committee, referring to Adam or to Devin Nunes, only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House.
And so, Anderson, we still have this question that's been unresolved here. Yes, they showed Adam Schiff these documents that they apparently showed to Devin Nunes a week ago during that secret trip over to the White House, but nobody has answered the question why it was necessary to show it to Devin Nunes, only to have Devin Nunes come back to the White House the next day and briefed the president on materials that he received and learned about over here at the White House. So, it's another one of those nagging questions just not going away.
COOPER: And what about Michael Flynn? What's the White House line on that?
ACOSTA: Well, you saw that. You just read that tweet from the president earlier this morning saying that is a witch hunt, so Michael Flynn should go ahead and testify with immunity.
We asked the White House Press Secretary about this at length during today's press briefing, and essentially, Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary said, yes, that the president believes Michael Flynn should testify, if he can get immunity, great.
But at the same time, there was this lecture that we heard throughout the White House press briefing today that we are concerned more about process than substance, and the White House was making this argument today.
Anderson, I think it's a sneak preview of coming attractions that they are going to be making the case from here on out that what is more important here is not these questions about Trump campaign contacts with the Russians during the campaign, it is that they believe the Obama administration unlawfully surveilled the president and his team some time around the election and during the transition and that is takeaway that this White House wants us to have.
But at the same time, they're just not providing any evidence. We offered them another chance today to provide evidence to back up the president's claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama over at Trump Tower. We, once again, did not receive that evidence, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.
Digging deeper now Flynn, because this latest episode is far from the only act, in what is so far have been almost Shakespearian drama full of sound and fury signifying what, we don't know yet. Our Randi Kaye has more.
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce the next President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a lifelong Democrat, yet during campaign in 2016, General Michael Flynn found himself on the trail stumping for then Republican nominee Donald Trump.
FLYNN: As a kid who grew up in a very strong Democratic neighborhood, grew up in the state of Rhode Island, I don't recognize the Democratic Party that I learned about.
KAYE (voice-over): So when he first met Donald Trump, Flynn was impressed.
FLYNN: I felt the conversation that we had was enlightening to me.
KAYE (voice-over): Flynn is a retired three-star lieutenant general who holds three college degrees, including an MBA. He has 33 years of military experienced, serving as a commander both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as the director for intelligence U.S. Central Command. And President Barack Obama nominated him to be the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's main spy service in 2012.
He was forced out of that role two years later he says for publicly questioning Obama's narrative that al-Qaeda was close to defeat. He later told Politico, "That was Obama's big lie, that the enemy was on the run and we were beating these guys." Flynn felt he still had more to give his country, so come 2016 he aligned himself with team Trump.
[21:20:05] FLYNN: Get fired up. This is about this country.
KAYE (voice-over): In July last year at the Republican National Convention, Flynn delivered a fiery speech.
FLYNN: We are tired of Obama's empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This, this has caused the world to have no respect for America's word, nor does it fear our might.
KAYE (voice-over): He also had harsh words for Hillary Clinton.
FLYNN: Lock her up. That is right. Yes, that is right. Lock her up.
KAYE (voice-over): That same month, Flynn was scrutinized after he re-tweeted a message bashing Jewish people. It was in response to comments the Clinton campaign had made remarks about Russia hacking the Democratic National Committee. He re-tweeted this controversial comment that said, "The USSR is to blame, not anymore Jews, not anymore." Flynn later apologized.
(on camera): After Trump won the election he named Flynn as his national security adviser. No one could have predicted Flynn would only hold that job for 23 days. That's right, 23 days. Flynn resigned after misleading the vice president and others about the substance of phone calls he'd with the Russian ambassador.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to General Flynn yesterday and the conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to new U.S. sanctions against Russia.
KAYE (voice-over): It turns out that wasn't true. Secret transcripts of Flynn's intercepted calls showed Flynn did discuss sanctions, a potential violation of federal law. After Flynn texted Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 25th to wish him a Merry Christmas, the ambassador texted Flynn three days later asking, "I'd like to give you a call. May I?"
The next day, they talked by phone. The very same day President Obama ordered extra sanctions on Russia.
SPICER: The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation in a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn's resignation.
KAYE (voice-over): Flynn later wrote this letter of resignation explaining he'd inadvertently briefed the vice president and others with incomplete information. Flynn also raised eyebrows in August 2016 during his speech when he referred to Islamism, "cancer in the body of Muslims."
FLYNN: We are facing another ism, just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism, and communism. This is Islamism and it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.
KAYE (voice-over): As Flynn's lawyer likes to say, his client has quite a story to tell.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, more breaking news. "The New York Times" is reporting a story that just broke a short time ago that new White House ethics filings show that even if they hold official White House jobs, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are still benefiting from sprawling business empire worth as much is $741 millions. Is there a conflict in their inherent? We'll look into it.
[21:27:21] COOPER: Well, it's a Friday night tradition despite the pedestrian-sounding name for to document dump usually delivered some breaking news, no exception tonight. Late this evening, the White House dumped page after page of ethics filings on -- as many as 180 administration members, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Reporters in "The New York Times" have been digging for the documents. Now, among the highlights, neither Jared Kushner nor Ivanka Trump have really divorced themselves from the financial benefits of their stakes in their family businesses were close to three quarters of a billion dollars.
Joining us again this hour, Trump biographer, Tim O'Brien, former George W. Bush White House Ethics Attorney, Richard Painter, and on the phone, the Times correspondence who broke the story, Jesse Drucker.
So, Jesse, I mean it's fascinating to read over these documents and the reporting that "The New York Times" has now posted tonight. There is so much, you know, for all the talk of how, you know, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have gone above and beyond the law in terms of getting rid of any ethical conflicts, there's a lot that just not known about who Jared Kushner's family company who is investing in it, what businesses from overseas are investing in it. You talked about a huge investment from a company in Israel and, obviously, he's tasked with bringing Middle East peace.
JESSE DRUCKER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Right. I mean, Kushner company has four separate loans from the Bank Hapoalim, which is the biggest bank in Israel and that presents a couple of issues, right?
One, Jared Kushner is as you point out tasked with doing peace in the Middle East. And then the other issue is that the Bank Hapoalim is the subject of a very serious investigation by the Department of Justice here in the U.S. and it's whether the bank helped Americans of a taxes with undeclared bank accounts offshore.
And so, the notion that he continues to be the beneficiary of this business that he ran for many years that is in business with the biggest bank in a country with whom he is going to be doing extensive work from a diplomatic perspective is quite surprising.
COOPER: Richard, from the ethic standpoint, I mean, is that an issue for you? And now that both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are White House employees, do you see other conflicts there?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, the law does not require them to sell the assets, but if they don't sell the assets and they have not sold the assets in real estate, the law does require that they recuse from any government matter that could have any economic effect on those assets.
And that includes anything that has an affect on the real estate industry on the financial services sector, because the banks are loaning so much money to real estate people that that's what drives up the price of real estate, and we often have booms in the financial services sector at the same time as we have booms in the real state sector often followed by a bust.
[21:30:10] So, both of them are going to have to stay out of Dodd- Frank repeal and anything have to do with financial services. And they also ought to recuse for many matters, in fact any of the lenders to their real estate projects that they have held onto.
So, there are going to be some broad recusals here. They have to follow the law, but they have gone a lot further than the president who is sitting there on an even more real estate and insisting that he doesn't have to recuse and he can go ahead and repeal Dodd-Frank and cause a real estate bubble and so forth. I mean, that's our -- our real problem is the president, not Ivanka and Jared.
COOPER: Tim, I mean, knowing what you know about the Trump family business empire and President Trump himself, I mean does any of this really surprise you? I'm feeling it doesn't.
TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD: It doesn't surprise me if they retained a close connection to their businesses. I don't think they really have any authentic interest in distancing themselves in a meaningful way from their bank accounts, from their business holdings or from their real estate holdings.
And the reality is, tonight's disclosure is really inadequate. It looks very much like the same financial disclosures that President Trump made last spring to the FEC. These are self-reported evaluations. They give us a sense of where their properties are located. We don't really know if the numbers are accurate. They haven't been audited. It relies on us believing that the family members themselves are putting forth adequate evaluations.
And at the end of the day, it doesn't solve the problem of the fact that this family in an unprecedented way is carting in an enormous number of financial conflicts into Washington that confuse the issue of whether or not they're making sound public policy or whether or not they're just making decision in their own financial self-interest. COOPER: And, Jesse, I mean, during the transition, Jared Kushner was still meeting with companies, potential investors of the Chinese company that was going to make a huge bailout of their 666 building. We know also now, they request the Russian ambassador. He had a meeting with a Russian bank -- a guy who ran a Russian bank, which there's disagreement on what exactly what that meeting was about.
But, I mean, it's clearly interesting that even during the transition while Kushner have this incredibly important role as kind of being the touch point for foreign dignitaries and foreign leaders into the Trump -- future Trump administration, he was still conducting business.
DRUCKER (via telephone): Yeah. I mean, I think the thing that's actually sort of funny about the situation with unbounded the Chinese financial firm that they had extensive discussions with around 666 Fifth Avenue is that they've made sort of something of an issue of the fact that they divested -- Jared Kushner divested his stake in the various companies around that property.
In other words, basically what we are seeing is, look, he is pulling out of anything to do with that particular property and that should sort of satisfy any potential conflicts. And it's almost as if that story hadn't broken a couple of months ago, they probably wouldn't have divested his stake there either.
I mean the fundamental issue is that this is a business with extensive opaque financial relationships, both equity investors and lending relationships and we know virtually nothing about those relationships. And one way to prevent potential conflicts would be for him to divest himself entirely from the business. Another way would be to at least make disclosures about who those investors and when there's are and we don't have either of those.
COOPER: Jesse Drucker, appreciate the reporting tonight. Richard Painter, Tim O'Brien as well.
Up next, I'll speak with the member of the House Intelligence Committee, who says innocent people don't seek immunity. That's not exactly true. He doesn't want to hear from Michael Flynn in a setting where there are conditions. More from him ahead.
[21:38:04] COOPER: Democratic representative, Eric Swalwell, is slamming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's proposed immunity deal in exchange for his testimony in Russia's meddling in the election. Congressman Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He says he doesn't want to hear from Flynn in a setting where there are conditions. We spoke shortly before airtime.
COOPER: So, Congressman, today we learned that the Senate Intelligence Committee would not grant former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn immunity. This time, you said it's too early for that kind of thing. Do you think the House committee should? REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Right now we don't know enough. And generally you don't give immunity to innocent people. So as far as I'm concerned, I want to know why he is seeking immunity and what he could tell us that would illuminate the ties that we suspect are there between Donald Trump and his team and Russia.
COOPER: You said you don't give immunity to innocent people, but innocent people, you know, their attorneys ask for immunity all the time. It doesn't necessarily mean somebody has committed a crime.
SWALWELL: No, it doesn't. But, generally, innocent people are not seeking immunity. And so, I would want to know what is he afraid of that could come out and what could he tell us that we don't already know?
Anderson, I was a prosecutor and worked on many cases where witnesses would give you immunity, but only after they fully disclosed to you what they knew. And so, right now, a blanket immunity, I think, would be irresponsible.
COOPER: Today, President Trump was encouraging Flynn to be granted immunity. He tweeted out, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity and that this is a witch hunt, excuse of big election loss, by media and Dems, of historic proportions." Obviously, you think issue of this being a witch hunt.
But, I mean, has the process devolved into, you know, certainly on the House side such deep partisan politics that he should be granted immunity even if he's, you know, not revealing anything just because -- I mean, there are clearly a lot of politics going on?
SWALWELL: I believe, Anderson, we have to stay on track. We have to stay above politics, because I'm home right now for the weekend and my constituents are asking me, what are you doing to make sure we find out whether any U.S. persons participated in Russia's interference campaign?
[21:40:07] And so, we have to -- really, I think, take the White House out of our investigation. And right now the way that they're working with Chairman Nunes, they have inserted themselves into the independent and incredible work that we have to do. And that's wrong and it affects our ability to do this the right way.
COOPER: The ranking member of your committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, was at the White House, as you know, viewing documents at the heart of the Nunes's surveillance claims. He's not able to share any information he learns from reviewing them. Obviously, you would like to see those documents. Is this a step forward, though, towards transparency?
SWALWELL: Well, it's certainly a step toward giving us information that the chairman went and received without telling us and only revealed and what looks like an effort to try and validate the president's wiretapping claim.
And so, again, I think the chairman is making this investigation about him and he should really step aside because if we are going to have that independence and credibility and make progress, we need to not be working with the White House where the president's campaign right now is under federal, criminal and counterintelligence investigations.
And so, people are counting on us to do our job right now and not work with subjects of this investigation.
COOPER: Do you have any doubt that there was collusion between Nunes and the White House on this subject, or at the very least, you know, that the White House knew about this information that was given to Nunes, whether Nunes was, you know, winning a bit or not?
I mean, the whole idea of that, the White House -- you know, President Trump had telegraphed, Sean Spicer had telegraphed something was going to be coming come out. A senior White House official talked to Ryan Lizza, "The New Yorker," that the morning of your hearings on Monday saying, you know, look for a predicate to be laid down here and that's when Nunes started talking about incidental collection, the fact that this was at the NSC on White House grounds. I mean, the White House -- Trump officials already have this information.
SWALWELL: And, Anderson, the fact that you're asking me right now, I think demonstrates why it's a problem. Just the perception of a conflict of interest can be as bad as a conflict of interest. That's why I think the responsible thing to do for the chairman is to step aside.
But also, Anderson, when you talk about telegraphing something that is coming, that has a ring of familiarity to me, because that was the same tactic that we saw Roger Stone display as he telegraphed that an attack on John Podesta was coming.
And so, again, whether they are wittingly or unwittingly using the active measures that Russia uses, we're certainly see that play out in the way that they've orchestrated the chairman's visit and work with the White House.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, I appreciate your time. Thanks.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
COOPER: Well, joining us now is David Gergen, Alan Dershowitz, Jason Miller and Kayleigh McEnany.
Professor Dershowitz, in terms of General Flynn's request for immunity, is there a potential strategy that his legal team may be using? And, I mean, they're not the ones -- we don't know who leaked the story, who made it public. They did send out a statement confirming that clearly they were looking for some sort of immunity. Is there an alternative strategy for making something public like this?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: That's the bizarre part of this. I have never heard of a case in 50 years of practice where the defense publicly states that it is actively seeking immunity. Normally, these negotiations occur behind closed doors. There are offers of information, proffers, and then negotiations occur. And then the prosecution decides whether to grant immunity.
Now, the defendant has no choice. He can't accept or reject immunity, but he has to testify if he's given immunity. And the thing that people are forgetting is the Oliver North case and that is the prosecution and the Senate and House could have their cake and eat it. They can wait a while. They can get more information, more evidence, put it in a lock box, time stamp it, then eventually give Flynn immunity. He would have to then testify and they can still prosecute him based on the information they had before he testifies.
So, we're seeing a three-dimensional chess game being played by various parties here and it's very difficult to know whether if this is a tactic that will pay or not. It also could be a bluff. It also could be that Flynn really doesn't want to testify. And so he goes public. He pressures the Senate and House saying, we don't want you to get immunity. At that point, he is the good guy offering to testify and they're the bad guys. So, it's very hard at this point to figure out exactly what it is.
COOPER: Jason Miller, I mean, do you believe it's good for the president and its allies to have General Flynn out there apparently shopping for an immunity deal?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I'm not the legal expert on this panel. I think Alan and Kayleigh are the two superstars to talk about the specific legal strategy. But I can say from the court of public opinion which I've a little bit more insight into.
[21:45:05] I would say that the tactic that Jared Kushner and others are taking where they're stepping forward and say we want to come in front of the committee and testify and we want to tell you everything we know, because guess what, there's absolutely nothing there.
And ultimately, I think General Flynn, who -- a three-star general, I highly doubt that he has anything that he has to be worried about as far as immunity. Obviously, that's his legal right. But I think in the court of public opinion this really seems to be going in the wrong direction.
And, look, in my opinion, 80 percent of these things are decided before anyone actually goes and testifies. And so, by asking for immunity on the front end like this, it raises questions and the fact that people -- we're having panels and discussions on this very topic, probably leads people to think that there's something there that very good chances, there isn't.
COOPER: Kayleigh, do you think it was wise for the president himself to weigh in to this today, you know, sending out a tweet? I mean, once your ex-national security adviser starts asking for immunity, is that a situation that lends itself to Twitter?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I have no problem with the president tweeting this and I think his tweet was actually taken out of context by many. I saw Representative Chaffetz say, you know, basically "How dare the president question the integrity of our investigation."
But if you look at the president's tweet, he says, "This is a witch hunt." And when I saw this, when I read this, I thought this inference based on only circumstantial evidence that there is Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, there is no direct evidence of that, only circumstantial. We have more proof of unlawful surveillance or wrongful surveillance, wrongful on asking, I should say, than we do of any collusion.
So, I don't think he was questioning the integrity of the investigation and I don't have a problem with him pointing out that it is a witch hunt.
COOPER: But the witch hunt language is actually the language, David Gergen, that was used by Flynn's own attorney. I mean, I don't know whether he said witch hunt or that it was a politicized investigation.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON & NIXON: Look, I'm not sure what Kayleigh was saying, it was a witch hunt or not. But she says it's a witch hunt. Well, a witch hunt says that this is a political investigation that -- which is now led by Republicans in the House and the Senate and we have the FBI investigating.
We don't know what the evidence is. It's way too early to say there is no evidence, because it's only now coming out. Flynn hasn't, for example, sung yet. He may be doing that.
But I want to go to one other point, go back to what Alan Dershowitz was saying, because I think he was pointing us toward what a motive might be on the part of General Flynn or his lawyers and as to go back to the case of Oliver North back in the early, you know, about a quarter of a century ago.
In that case, Anderson, the prosecutors were going after him. They found him guilty on three charges and he was granted immunity by Congress. And that immunity, he used that immunity, he was granted by Congress to get the courts to throw out his prosecutions.
GERGEN: And so they were tainted by, you know, by the whole process in the Congress so that Flynn may be looking for a way to get out from under it entirely.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, but you said that if they gather evidence on their own, they put it in a lock box and then he still gets immunity and whatever he testifies. If they had discovered that evidence previously, he doesn't get immunity for that?
DERSHOWITZ: That's right. It's not called transactional immunity, it's called used immunity. But it's very hard to navigate, because it means that the prosecutors who prosecute the case cannot have any access to the immunized testimony. They have to build what's called a Chinese wall between themselves and the immunized testimony. In the Oliver North case, they failed to do that and that's why the prosecution was thrown out.
COOPER: It's fascinating. I want to -- I appreciate everybody being on the panel. Have a great weekend.
Coming up, at the top of the hour, a new CNN Special Report, really, it looks fascinating. CNN Clarissa Ward talks with one man from Europe who joined ISIS and then returned home. He is out now. A preview of "ISIS: Behind the Mask", next.
[21:52:32] COOPER: At the top of the hour, stay tuned for a new CNN Special Report, "ISIS: Behind the Mask". CNN's Clarissa Ward talks to one man from Europe who joined ISIS and then returned home. Clarissa joins us in a moment. But first, take a look at this fascinating clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARD (voice-over): Meet Younnes Delefortrie, a 28-year-old ISIS veteran. Younnes offers a rare incite into the mind of an unrepentant ISIS supporter.
YOUNNES DELEFORTRIE, FORMER ISIS: We are Muslims who are dreaming of a caliphate. Every Muslim in the world, even if he has a beard from one meter to one millimeter, a Muslim has to believe in a caliphate.
WARD (voice-over): That dream led Younnes to the civil war in Syria and to ISIS. He says he never killed anyone there.
(on camera): Let me ask you something. If you had been asked while you are in Syria to execute someone, would you have done it?
DELEFORTRIE: Look, in Islam there is the pledge of alliance.
WARD (on camera): Would you have done it?
DELEFORTRIE: Because you have to obey the Emir.
WARD (on camera): So you would have?
DELEFORTRIE: That is Islamic law. And believe me, it's not a funny thing to execute people. It's something terrible. But, yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Clarissa joins us now. I mean, it's so fascinating to just hear this guy, as you said, unrepentant. It's so hard to understand why a guy like this, who was born in the west, would want to join a death cult. I mean, do you have a better idea after talking to him? WARD: I do, Anderson. And I should say it's not just Younnes. It's not just this one individual. There are thousands of Europeans -- European nationals who have traveled from the west to the battlefields of Syria and joined groups like ISIS.
I think on -- there are two different factors at play here. On the one hand, you have the Syrian civil war, which have been raging for years. Many civilians being massacred by the regime of Bashar al- Assad and apparently the west sort of standing on the sidelines wringing its hands over who to support and what to do about it and the militant Islamist groups were quite quick to run in and exploit that vacuum.
Then on the second hand, you have also this incredibly strong propaganda campaign by ISIS, which I should emphasize, did not focus so much on their brutality in the early days, but on the idea of this brotherhood of coming together and working to help the Muslim people.
[21:55:02] They presented themselves as god's warriors, as heroes. You may be no one back in the west, was the message to them, but here you can be a rock star. And that message, Anderson, was all too alluring.
COOPER: Yeah. I mean, it was appealing to the guy you talked to because we've often seen, you know, people with petty criminal backgrounds or even more serious criminal backgrounds and who's life, you know, were kind of losers and this gave them an identity, made them more than just a petty criminal, it made them somebody, you know, part of something larger as completely important as it is.
WARD: It does. It empowers them. It gives them a sense that they are somebody. They were a nobody back home, now they're somebody. And Younnes has said that he actually regrets leaving Syria. He regrets leaving ISIS.
He was back in Belgium. He couldn't find a job, taking a welfare check every month. Now he has a job repairing bicycles, but he is expected to go to jail now. He's been convicted for 18 months for domestic abuse.
So you can see the difference between life in Syria and Iraq where these guys can be rock stars and life back home were many of them were just losers, Anderson.
COOPER: I look forward to it. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much, fascinating. Stay tuned for the CNN Special Report, "ISIS: Behind the Mask". It's at the top of the hour just a few minutes. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And thanks for watching "360". I hope you have a great weekend. The CNN Special Report "ISIS: Behind the Mask" starts now.