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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Republicans on House Intel Committee Ends Russia Probe Interviews Without Consulting Democrats; The British Suspects Russia Poisoned Former Russian Spy and His Daughter in England; NY Times' Maggie Haberman Stands By Reporting Amid Blistering Personal Criticism From President Trump; Trump and Trudeau Held Second Phone Call Today. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 12, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:59] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the second hour of 360. There's breaking news throughout the hour. On the table tonight, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee end their Russia investigation, prepare a report that's friendly to President and different to bipartisanship and pretty hassle to key conclusion from the nonpartisan Intelligence Community.

Also who poisoned the former Russian spy and his daughter in England with some kind of nerve agent? The British suspects Russia. The White House will not even utter the word Russia, but the Secretary of State will, raising the question what's going on with that.

And later, we're live in Trump country where an election tomorrow could give a red congressional district a case of the blues. We begin with Russia, though, and the conclusions of the House Intelligence Committee, some of which contradict a key conclusion of the U.S. Intelligence Committee which it reaffirmed just tonight and which the President just tweeted about in all caps, no less, "The House Intelligence Committee has after a 14-month long in depth investigation, found no evidence of collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 Presidential election."

CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us now. First, Jim, let's talk about what's going to be in this report because there's only been a one-page, I think, sort of summary of what's going to be I think more than a hundred pages?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: These are the two headlines. One -- and to be clear, these are Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, not the entire committee. The Democrats were not consulted but Republicans in the committee saying, one, they have found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election. And for instance, the Trump Tower meeting in 2016, they say that, that was inadvisable, a bad idea in effect, but not to their conclusion evidence that members of the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia.

The other one arguably more interesting, and that is the GOP, Members of the House Intelligence Committee contesting, in effect, the intelligence community's assessment in January of 2017 that Russia's meddling in the campaign was intended to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, saying in effect that they don't read the intelligence the same way that the intelligence chiefs and the career professionals that prepared that report read the intelligence.

And that's something that we of course reached out -- I reached out to Jim Clapper, who was the Director of National Intelligence when this came out, and others, and they say that they very much stand by their assessment.

COOPER: And even the head of the DNI, the Director of National Intelligence now, agrees -- who is a Trump appointee, stands by the assessment of the CIA, the FBI, and the DNI back then?

SCIUTTO: That right.

And this is interesting. They released a statement to us very directly from Brian Hale, Spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence saying in very plain language, they stand by that 2017 assessment and that they will read this house report -- the findings from this house report saying in plain language they stand by what they found a little more than a year ago.

I will add there as well that, yes, the intelligence chiefs who were in charge at the time and signed off in effect on that assessment were political appointees. But, remember, it was career intelligence professionals, intelligence analysts that prepared that report, analyzed the intelligence, et cetera. So it's -- you know, if the argument that it's a political argument that is contestable by the fact that many career professionals took part in bringing that report together.

COOPER: And Jim, I mean, Democrats on the committee are certainly not onboard with the investigation ending.

SCIUTTO: They're not. Adam Schiff, who is the Ranking Democrat on the committee, he was very critical in his language. He said that the GOP committee members, in his words, "placed the interest of protecting the President over protecting the country and history will judge its actions harshly."

Democrats taking particular issue with Republicans on the committee not compelling witnesses such as Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, and others, Corey Lewandowski to answer questions. You'll remember that when they came before the committee, many of them in effect invoking a very broad interpretation of executive privilege, not answering those questions. Democrats on the committee wanted to hold them in contempt but Republicans on the committee did not do that. In fact, in effect, did not compel their testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

[21:06:06] COOPER: Jim Sciutto, I appreciate it. A lot to talk about tonight with the panel, with me tonight, A.B. Stoddard, Michael Caputo, Robby Mook, Paris Dennard, and Maria Cardona, and Jeffrey Toobin. A.B., obviously the President feels vindicated by this Republican report and the shutting down of the committee. Should he?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, he wants anyone to say that was investigating this that there was no collusion and he's wrong to say that the committee concluded it. It's the committee's Republican membership. But, yes, he is going to take -- this is a great stamp of approval for him to say that a committee has shut down a probe, concluding that there's no collusion.

What happened is incredibly disappointing that you have the majority party. Not only did they not interview key witnesses. They interviewed several key witnesses who didn't tell them answers to their questions. They're actually saying that the CIA got it wrong. They are defying --

COOPER: I talked to a congressman would who said, look, I went over to CIA, I read the intelligence. I just think the CIA read it wrong.

STODDARD: It's pretty amazing, but what they did not do was even attempt to show the American people that they were trying to work in a bipartisan fashion. They shut it down without the Democrats' knowledge. They didn't include them in this one-page conclusion or the report that's forthcoming. They didn't even try to make an attempt to take this seriously as an attack on our country. They are not actually overseeing Don Junior's business deals or potential conflicts of interest between the Trump family and the Trump organization. They are actually investigating an attack on our election by an adversarial government.

We have not heard from this committee over and over again that they are rushing around trying to work hard to mitigate the threat of Russian interference in that election. We're hearing that for tonight, but we have not been hearing that for the last year.

COOPER: Michael, I mean, can this committee, can the Republicans really shut down this committee? Did they really do a job? They didn't look into any financial information. They didn't get a lot of answers from a lot of folks, Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski, all the people mentioned.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: As the only one here who had the pleasure of being interviewed by that committee, I'm glad to see it go away. I think it was a circus from the beginning, and I think that the reason the Democrats are upset is they never want it to end, ever. And I think that, you know, Ranking Member Schiff and Representative Smear (ph), they're going to have to find some other things to do instead of all these interviews about Russian collusion that never existed.

I've had it with this, but let's just face it though. This is one committee giving clearance. You still have the Senate Judiciary Committee. You still have Senate Intelligence, and of course you have the Mueller investigation. The Trump White House has a long way to go before we've been totally vindicated. ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I will agree that this whole thing was a clown show, but it was a clown show because it wasn't serious. And I'd actually be glad that it's over too because the clown show would end except that they're now claiming that based on evidence that is incomplete, that there was nothing here when all the evidence says that something happened.

And I'm genuinely puzzled. I don't understand what the end game is because they're going to be wrong. All the evidence is pointing in one direction, and they're pointing completely the other way. And they're making it -- they're basically saying, if we lose the House, Democrats, you now really have to investigate this all over again because this is so incomplete and our findings are so wrong.

The President just hired an impeachment lawyer. I don't understand. If I were them, I'd tried to resolve this. I try to -- I would focus on how Russia intervened in the election. I'd say let's put aside, you know, collusion. Let's sort of put that over here. Let's condemn the Russians. Let's look into it.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Rob, how? Have you met a congressional Republican? You think that was really a possibility?

MOOK: But that's --

TOOBIN: That is ridiculous.

MOOK: Come on. The whole accusation comes out of the Clinton campaign.

TOOBIN: Well, the accusation comes out of the intelligence agencies.

CAPUTO: Let me tell you, as someone who spent a lot of years in Russia and knows a lot of Russian people, I was a little incredulous about the idea that the Russians, for the first time in their history, would prefer a candidate they didn't know to someone that they did know. Russians always opt for the -- even if they don't like the person, they always opt for the --

TOOBIN: They didn't know Donald Trump?

CAPUTO: They didn't know how he would act as a government official.

TOOBIN: So you are seriously contesting that Russia was not supporting Donald Trump in this campaign?

CAPUTO: I will take a look at the intelligence at the end of this. I was always kind of palms up about it because it would really break with precedent, but it could be true.

TOOBIN: You think it could be that they hacked the DNC, that they hacked John Podesta and released it at key moments in the campaign, and that they used social media to --

CAPUTO: Have you heard of all the times they tried to hack the Trump campaign and the RNC and they failed to do it? I mean, it's been going on both sides. You hear about --

[21:10:00] COOPER: We don't actually know what -- they did hack the RNC, but nothing was released. We don't know what they have if anything.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly and that goes to the point that clearly the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win. How could you not understand that given --

CAPUTO: I don't understand it because I lived it.

CARDONA: Well, let me ask you. How could you not understand that given all the statements that Donald Trump made in favor of the Kremlin, in favor of Putin, never said a negative word about him, talked about how the sanctions are wrong, hasn't implemented one sanction since he became President? And so to me, it is obvious that Donald Trump would have been somebody and is somebody who is going very easy on Russia, who the Russians really wanted to become President. And what I also don't understand in terms of what this committee is doing is, you know, I think to Robby's point, they are going to have egg on their face because their committee thankfully is not the only one who is investigating this. You have the Mueller committee -- or the Mueller investigation. You have the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is a little bit more serious than this apparently.

COOPER: Paris, why would the current director of national intelligence, who is a Trump appointee, stick with the old intelligence community assessment?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because that's what he believes, and he's entitled to analyze the data and information and come to that conclusion. Just like the members of the committee on the Republican side. They looked at the same information and came to a different conclusion.

COOPER: Isn't it weird it's completely along partisan lines. I mean that they're analysis the data and Democrats are saying one thing. The Republicans are saying another thing.

CAPUTO: That's pretty normal.

DENNARD: This is Washington, D.C. a lot of things happen along party lines.

MOOK: No, this is not normal.

DENNARD: And a lot of thing happens along party lines.

MOOK: This is not normal.

DENNARD: It happens like on Supreme Court, it happens like that multiple --

COOPER: But on an intelligence committee. I mean, isn't historically this committee sort of, you know, in past years at least tried to work in a bipartisan manner?

MOOK: There were not two 9/11 reports.

DENNARD: I think at the end of the day we have to look at the point Robby made. If the committees and all of this investigation was focus on Russian meddling, that's one thing. But this is not what's happening. They're trying to make it seem -- and this would make Maria very happy -- is President Trump or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election. And thus far there has been zero evidence of any sort of Russian collusion. So there's two questions. Did Russia intervene or meddle in the election? That is going to be -- many people --

CARDONA: Yes.

DENNARD: Many people have come to that conclusion. That's fine. The second question is, is there any evidence that President Trump or the Trump campaign actually colluded with the Russians to win?

COOPER: But isn't the third question is, did Russia intervene with the intention of helping President Trump?

DENNARD: And even if they did, that goes back to the second question, did Prisdent Trump or the campaign collude, and the answer is no.

CARDONA: We don't know yet.

COOPER: All right, much, we're going to continue this discussion with the panel. Later, the President's campaign journey to Western Pennsylvania, the detour from his prepared remarks, some calling it vintage Trump, others calling it a new low, you can listen and decide for yourself ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:16:38] COOPER: Talking about Republicans on the house Intelligence Committee ending their Russia probe and issuing a report without input from the Democrats that affirms several key Presidential claims and takes issue with the intelligence community assessment that Russia was helping to elect candidate Trump.

In our first hour, we heard from two members of the committee, Republican Chris Stewart and Democrat Joaquin Castro. Here's a sample of what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: I would invite anyone, tell me the strongest piece of evidence that you have that supports the theory of collusion because, Anderson, there just isn't, and we've been looking at this for going on 15 months now.

COOPER: Have you seen any evidence to suggest there was collusion?

CASTRO: Absolutely. Let me just start with one fact. Roger Stone knowing ahead of time that WikiLeaks would dump e-mails belonging to Hillary Clinton. That's one example.

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: I have spent a couple days out to the CIA actually reading the raw intelligence, actually reading what we were basing this on. And when we release that report, we're going to be able to show, you know what, the CIA just got it wrong.

COOPER: Do you believe -- I mean have you had a chance to read the raw intelligence of the CIA? Do you believe the CIA got it wrong, the FBI, the DNI?

CASTRO: No. I believe our intelligence agencies. I think they got it right, and I have had a chance to visit the CIA headquarters as Congressman Stewart said he had as well.

STEWART: Many of them had come before the committee more than once. Hope Hicks was with our committee for something like eight or nine hours. I heard the same question asked again and again and again with the same answer give again and again and again. We just at some point come to the conclusion there's just not much more to learn here.

CASTRO: I respect that my colleague, Congressman Stewart, but I wholeheartedly disagree. This was a take their word for it investigation that simply went through the motions. This was like bringing in a suspect that you suspect of arson or something else, asking them, did you start the fire? They say, I didn't start any fire. And you say, oh, great. Go ahead and go home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, Jeff, just from a legal standpoint, can the President who is saying, look, this is -- I've been vindicated essentially tonight, use this as a reason not to appear before Mueller or use this as a reason even to fire Mueller?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, those are both political decisions more than they are legal decisions. You know, he can take the fifth in front of Mueller, and that's the end of the story. There's no way he can be forced to testify. He can use that as an excuse.

Now, if he doesn't take the fifth and just says, I have a privilege not to testify, that could lead to a legal fight over a subpoena. And as for firing Mueller, you know, that would cause a political firestorm, and I don't think he's ready for that yet. But, you know, the President is going to have to make a judgment about when or whether to testify. That is really going to be much more of a political judgment. And at the moment, I've been speaking to the people involved. It seems very much up in the air whether he will or not.

COOPER: I mean in the long run, do any of these Senate or House investigations matter not in the sense of trying to figure out how to prevent them again from happening, but trying to figure out actually what happened? Does it matter? I mean, is the Mueller investigation really the be all and end all here?

TOOBIN: Oh yes. CARDONA: I actually think they do matter because there is a difference. The Mueller investigation, and you will correct me if I'm wrong, is there to figure out if any laws were broken and then to do indictments if that's the case to make sure that people pay for what they did, if they did break the law, if there was any criminality there.

[21:20:07] I think the investigations from the House and the Senate are supposed to be there to actually tell the American people what happened writ large in terms of the Russians meddling in our elections -- not meddling actually I think it was an act of war as Senator John McCain said.

And that seems to not be in question, the fact that they did do it, and I think their responsibility to the American people is to tell us how it happened and to, more importantly, figure out what we do together, Republicans and Democrats and independents as a country to make sure it doesn't happen again. And they've turned blame eye for that.

TOOBIN: You're clearly right that the job of the Mueller team is to determine if any laws were broken. What's unclear about Mueller's mandate and really remains somewhat of a mystery is how much of a report he will write beyond his decision simply to charge or not charge. And the regulation under which he was appointed is pretty vague on that point. He has to submit some kind of report to Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy --

COOPER: Would that be made public, or is that unclear?

TOOBIN: Up to Rod Rosenstein. If you think Rod Rosenstein is a controversial figure now, just wait till he gets a 500-page report and he has to decide whether to make it public or not.

CARDONA: So that's even more of an argument for the important work of the investigative committees out of the House and the Senate.

STODDARD: Maria is right, when the five intelligence chiefs came before the Senate recently and they were queried about this, some of them were a little more, you know, energetic in their responses than others. But Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, this is -- I want to raise an alarm here that we have been attacked. This is a really serious problem. And everyone acknowledged that nothing has been done about it. So it is on the Congress to come up with laws or at least have the conversation with the public about the active measures and what they're doing to mitigate the threat. Frankly they're not doing anything.

DENNARD: You're right. They should focus on that, but you know what they're focusing on? A stupid narrative that somehow the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians --

STODDARD: Paris, first of all you can be an unwitting colluder. First of all collusion is not a crime. You can actually be unwitting colluder.

DENNARD: What did you say?

STODDARD: An unwitting --

DENNARD: Collusion is not a crime?

STODDARD: Right.

DENNARD: Right.

STODDARD: So basically Congressman Conaway admitted there were inappropriate meetings and it's sort of the bumbling theory that they did some things wrong. It is unwitting collusion.

DENNARD: Yes.

STODDARD: When someone offers you Oppo and it's someone connected to the Russian government and you say, that's awesome. Let's set up the meeting. Even if you don't mean to break the law or do anything wrong, you're an unwitting colluder.

MOOK: Also Paris, Roger Stone --

(CROSSTALK)

DENNARD: That sounds like witting to me.

MOOK: And Roger Stone predicted the release of John Podesta --

CAPUTO: But he did not know.

MOOK: He predicted --

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: He did not. That's actually --

CAPUTO: Roger Stone --

CAPUTO: That's not a fact.

MOOK: -- predicted the release of John Podesta's e-mails.

CAPUTO: That's not true. Not true at all. That's a lie.

DENNARD: In the sense that predicted the election of Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: That's the Democratic narrative. That is not what Roger Stone -- that is not true. That is not true. He said, all you got to do is look at the facts, Robby.

MOOK: I'm telling you the facts. You can yell as much as you want.

COOPER: Michael, what's your interpretation? CAPUTO: I talk louder. He said Podesta's time in the barrel is coming. He didn't say he's going to have e-mails released. He was talking about his business dealings with Russia, all the things he did -- he and his brother did. I mean that's what Roger Stone says is true. He did not say, there are e-mails coming. You are putting words in his mouth, and that's not factual.

CARDONA: You knew who did allude to the fact that e-mails might be coming or that information was going to come out that was going to be hurtful? Donald Trump himself.

MOOK: And Roger Stone said he was speaking to WikiLeaks. So all I'm saying is -- this is the thing. Let these guys come forward. Let's get the testimony and push it out. But these committees are not releasing testimony from these individuals.

CAPUTO: Listen, I spent three hours at the committee headquarters three weeks ago begging them to release my testimony because I'm being told I have to go before the Senate judiciary and the Senate intelligence committees to answer the exact same questions at $30,000 a pop each for legal fees. They should -- then they promised me that these transcripts would be released. And if they're not going to do it, I'm going to scream to the top of the trees.

CARDONA: Is that the Republicans who won't release your transcripts?

CAPUTO: I'm not sure. If I'm hearing -- this is the first time I'm hearing --

CARDONA: They're the ones in charge, so I think that's the case.

CAPUTO: You think that the majority of a committee, when the Democrats were in charge were really obsequious to the Republican minority, you're leave living in a dream land. This is the way it works in Congress.

CARDONA: They behaved better than the Republicans are behaving now.

DENNARD: And they're not focusing on Russian meddling.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. When we continue, perhaps a deeper mystery than who poisoned the former Russian spy and his daughter and terrorized an English Town.

[21:24:50] Namely, why the White House today couldn't say the name of British government's prime suspect, which was Russia. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The White House today Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to actually say that British authorities were or were not correct when they judged that Russia was, "Likely behind that nerve agent attack against a former soviet spy and his daughter." Now listen closely, watch what she said even when pressed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We offer the fullest condemnation and we extend our sympathy to the victims and their families and our support to the U.K. government. We stand by our closest ally and the special relationship that we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're not saying that Russia was behind this act?

SANDERS: Right now, we are standing with our U.K. ally. I think they're still working through even some of the details of that. And we're going to continue to work with the U.K., and we certainly stand with them throughout this process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, tonight Secretary of State Tillerson said the United States had, "Full confidence with the assessment that Russia was likely responsible."

Back now with the panel. Michael, was that weird for Sarah Sanders not to just say, yes, we agree Russia is the likely --

CAPUTO: I don't know. I think when we think about, who does the poisoning in this world, we pretty much know who does it. But at the same time, I think she's being cautious there and doesn't want to speak about the investigation while the investigation is still going on.

COOPER: Right, but --

CAPUTO: I know we all like how cautious the Trump White House is.

COOPER: I know. That's what I was going to say.

CAPUTO: But -- and this time she got it right. But the fact is in the end, we're going to find out that it's Russia. I have no doubts. I don't have the responsibility of providing proof for it, but I know exactly what went on. We all know what went on. That's what going to happen.

CARDONA: Can I just say, Michael, that's exactly an example of why the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win, because they are pussy footing around the truth. They can't even stand with their allies --

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: What do you think of the 200 Russians who were killed three weeks ago, in Syria by American fighter jets?

[21:30:01] CARDONA: And it's ridiculous to think that -- and the American people actually believe that that's the case and it's ridiculous to think that, you know, Donald Trump is not in office today because of the meddling that Russians did in the election.

COOPER: I mean it does -- the narrative that this President, you know, has gone out of his way to never criticize Vladimir Putin, you know, I mean there's -- it's not just a narrative.

CAPUTO: The U.S.-Russia relationship now is worse than it was during the cold war. We just killed 200 Russians, mercenaries in Syria with air power. I mean the relationship is as bad as it's ever been. And if Vladimir Putin wanted to have a positive relationship with Donald Trump so he tried to get him to become President, he really miscalculated.

MOOK: Here's why I disagree with you. I do think the relationship between our countries has become much more adversarial. The relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is quite strong.

CAPUTO: I don't agree with that.

MOOK: And not adversarial at all. I see no evidence whatsoever that Donald Trump has taken one adversarial move against Putin, and I have never seen Putin say anything bad about Donald Trump.

CAPUTO: Except for 200 dead Russian mercenaries in Syria.

MOOK: Has Donald Trump ever spoken about that personally? Has Donald Trump ever said a bad thing about Vladimir Putin? Never.

CAPUTO: But you understand in state craft, Vladimir Putin knows exactly what Donald Trump did. He's not happy about it.

MOOK: I think Vladimir Putin is in control of this situation. I think he is man manipulating Donald Trump.

CAPUTO: Oh, that is hilarious.

COOPER: But, you know, one of the things that Donald Trump said a lot during the campaign was unless you name an enemy, you have to name an enemy, radical Islam. I mean that was the line time and time again. It's a very valid argument, you could say, if that is in fact the case, why wouldn't you name Vladimir Putin? I mean he was asked, you know, is Vladimir Putin a killer? And his answer was, well, there's a lot of killers and we've done some pretty bad things too order words to that effect.

STODDARD: It is truly, Anderson that he has not condemned Vladimir Putin or his government and the things that they have done publicly. It makes Republicans extremely uncomfortable. And what has been their response? Acquiescence. There's an occasional Twitter statement from Senator John McCain or some others. But all told if you look back at the last year, year and a half, they have gone completely silent on the fact that this administration doesn't stand up to the Russians, at least rhetorically. And at some times other parts of the administration are speaking out of a totally different camp than the President himself.

CARDONA: And I think that today's report actually proves that because what you see in today's report, I'm sorry, it's easy to be able to report out that you didn't find any evidence when you're not really looking for any evidence, which is exactly what this committee did or didn't do. And to me it seems -- and to Democrats and what I think will be the American people, this is a full-on taxpayer-funded propaganda not just by the Kremlin, but for Trump Inc.

COOPER: Also, Paris, I mean, you have overwhelming support for sanctions, toughening sanctions, you know, bills passed in both houses of Congress, and the administration has not pursued it. I mean, how do you explain that?

DENNARD: Well, I don't work for the administration, so I can't explain it. But what I can say is my own opinion has been I think this has been part of a strategy from the very beginning of the Trump administration in terms of his personal engagement and how he was going to deal with Vladimir Putin. Similar to the strategy that I think he took and how he was going to engage with Kim Jong-un.

And I think that when we look at other statements of Republicans who have denounced Russia on multiple occasions in Congress and in the Senate, and if you look at the things that Secretary Tillerson has stated, we somehow try to say, well, just because it didn't come from the White House, it wasn't President Trump. It's not the Trump administration. Be clear. When Secretary Tillerson speaks, he speaks on behalf of the state department, which is part of the Trump administration.

STODDARD: That is not always the case.

COOPER: But also --

DENNARD: That was the case today.

COOPER: You're saying he's handling the same way -- I mean, he's been calling Kim Jong-un a little Rocket Man. I mean --

DENNARD: I mean, that was part of his strategy. There was a specific strategy with engagement on that engagement with that person and specific strategy --

COOPER: Vladimir Putin is the only guy who doesn't have a nickname from this President.

DENNARD: That you know of.

STODDARD: What I was saying, Paris, is Republicans are uncomfortable with the fact that the President publicly will not condemn or disavow many things that the Putin government has done while other people in his administration might try to get out on a limb and do. Republicans are uncomfortable with this, but they don't say anything out loud. They stay silent on this. This is a complete shift from two or three years ago.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Thanks everyone.

Coming up, for President Trump this past weekend was campaign season all over. Living the dream with a stem winding speech that was mostly off script, mostly in behalf of the struggling Republican candidate for an open congressional seat, we'll take a look at that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:37:52] COOPER: President Trump delivered a high profile speech over the weekend on behalf of a Republican candidate for Congress in a district that he won by 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. The Republican, Rick Saccone, and the Democrat, Conor Lamb, are actually locked in a pretty tight race. Here's the President saying he needs the Republican to win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need our Congressman, Saccone. We have to have him. We have to have him. Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, the only chance she's got to become speaker is electing Democrats. And, you know, we don't have a big margin. It's just very small. I mean if you -- I mean they're doing a number in your state. You see what they're doing with the congressional districts.

COOPER: As I said, it's been a reliable Republican district for a while. Things might be changing, though. Gary Tuchman takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Ellen Buzzelli, a lifelong Pennsylvanian is a proud registered Republican. She voted for Donald Trump for President. She volunteered on Rick Santorum's first campaign for Congress.

MARY ELLEN BUZZELLI, CONOR LAMB SUPPORTER: I'm calling from the Conor Lamb for Congress campaign. How are you this morning?

TUCHMAN: But Conor Lamb is a Democrat, running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 18th District, which Donald Trump won by almost 20 percentage points, and Mary Ellen Buzzelli a volunteer for Lamb's campaign, making calls to get out the vote for a man President Trump just called --

TRUMP: Lamb the sham, right? Lamb the sham.

BUZZELLI: I had one Republican friend who's in shock and he said, I think you're a closet liberal.

TUCHMAN: But she says that's not the case at all. She likes a lot of what Donald Trump has done as President but doesn't like --

BUZZELLI: The demeanor. I just think we need to tone it down.

TUCHMAN: And she's concerned that Republican candidate Rick Saccone sees that type of demeanor as a positive.

BUZZELLI: What bothered me was instead of talking about himself, he came out and said, I was Trump before Trump. And, again, that set the tone that really didn't -- why? Talk about yourself. Talk about what your accomplishments were.

Have you ever placed an absentee ballot? [21:49:59] TUCHMAN: The 61-year-old mother and grandmother, a consultant in the I.T. industry, says she and many of her Republican friends want to see bipartisanship in Washington, and they give the Democratic candidate in this too close to call race points for that.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This district has such a lack for Republicans that Timothy Murphy, the man who occupied the seat until resigning in disgrace this past October ran unopposed in 2016 and 2014. No Democrat dared run against him. And Mary Ellen Buzzelli was a strong supporter of Murphy's.

BUZZELLI: Thank you very much. We appreciate your pledge to vote, and we appreciate your support tomorrow.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But the time has come, she says, for a big change.

TUCHMAN (on camera): If someone calls you a disloyal Republican, what do you say back to them?

BUZZELLI: I would say I'm voting my heart, and I'm voting what's best for the district in the future of this region and country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary joins me now. What are expectations about turnout?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, the consensus seems to be there will be a robust turnout not only because of all the attention, but because of the special elections over the past few months where there have been big turnouts, which have seemed to have benefited the Democrats and that's why Democrats here are very optimistic about having a big turnout and having it reflect well for them.

However, there is a caveat, and that caveat is there is a forecast of snow here tomorrow in Western Pennsylvania. The accumulation is expected to minimal, but if it's more than minimal, that will hamper the turnout. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

During the President's weekend speech he singled out journalists for some severe criticisms, he called meet the press anchor Chuck Todd, "A sleepy son of a bitch."

And back at the White House yesterday, he found time to attacked New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman for her story, saying the White House was considering hiring new Washington lawyer Emmet Flood, specializing an impeachment defenses, "The failing New York Times, he said, 'purposely wrote a false story stating that I'm unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case, and I'm going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I'm very happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and have shown conclusively that there was no collusion with Russia. Just excuse for losing. "The only Collusion was that done by the DNC, the Democrats and Crooked Hillary, the writer of the story, Maggie Haberman, a Hillary flunky, knows nothing about me and is not given access."

Maggie Haberman is also a CNN Political Analyst. She joins me.

Maggie, before I get to the President's reaction, your reporting is that he's met with an attorney who represented President Clinton during his impeachment process. Can you explain the context of the meeting and what it might mean for the President's legal team?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. It's not entirely clear what it means in terms of where Emmet Flood, if he ends up doing this, the lawyer in question, would fit with the team.

My understanding is that they are not looking for a new lead to deal with the special counsel's office or that investigation. But that he basically would be playing the role of someone doing day to day, essentially picking up some of the duties that the White House counsel typically fills. The problem is in this case the existing White House counsel, the current one, Don McGahn, is a witness in the special counsel probe, and that has limited a lot of what he can do in terms of his interactions with the Justice Department, in terms of his interactions with the President.

And so the idea would be to have somebody who could do that. Flood is a pretty heavy hitter for that kind of a role, for any kind of a role in-house. The fact that he comes with experience with impeachment before is seen privately by a lot of people around the President, whether the President would acknowledge this or not, as a positive.

COOPER: Just in terms of the Presidential reaction, I mean, contrary to what he says, you've had extraordinary access to him. You've covered him for a long time. The Hillary flunky comment, I'm not even sure where that comes from. Do you have any sense why this particular article prompted such personal criticism?

HABERMAN: I don't other than the use of the word impeachment. It could have been he was in some kind of a mood. I know there was some concern among some of his advisers that his existing legal team would see it as some kind of a slight. I think the last thing you want to do if you're Trump is irritate lawyers who know an awful lot about your case and could be potentially harmful to you. I think all of those were the reasons, but I mean even the access comment itself is -- you know, pictures and number of interviews are just what they are. But the reality is we don't need the President's permission to cover him. And so that has been one of the perplexing things about how he approaches this job always. He tends to believe that that he can have a lot more control over it than he does and can. That's just not how the White House works. It's not how government works at any level.

COOPER: And in terms of the President's rally, I mean it certainly felt like candidate Trump was back, unscripted, talking about executing drug dealers, going after to Oprah Winfrey, Chuck Todd. I mean his supporters certainly responded to it. This is sort of his wheelhouse.

HABERMAN: It is his wheelhouse, and it is true that his supporters responded to it and his attacks on the press always end up, you know, riling up his crowd and making them excited. It comes with a different level of intensity now that he is the President. I am not somebody who thinks that we should be the story. I really don't. I understand that he wants us to be the story because he's lacking a clear opponent right now. But there is a risk to what he is doing.

[21:45:08] And in terms of the things he was saying at the rally, things like executing drug dealers, this isn't just a candidate popping off. When Trump was saying those things in 2016, a lot of people wanted to write it off as, you know, he's just doing this for effect. He's playing to the crowd. He'll never do something like that in office. That is what he believes. That is who he is.

COOPER: There's been reporting that he's somewhat giddy, that he's breaking free from constraints that have been placed on him the last several months. You know, he popped his head in the press room the other day to kind of give a heads up about the South Korean announcement, the North Korean meeting.

HABERMAN: Yes.

COOPER: What are your sources telling you? I mean, are they saying that as well. Should we expect to see more of this sort of untethered President Trump in the coming days and week?

HABERMAN: You are going to see more of an untethered President Trump but a lot of that is because it's not so much that he's broken free from Kelly, although I know that is an existing narrative. It's a lot of the people who had existed around him, you know, running into the Oval Office to stop things or to get him off of certain ideas are falling away. Whenever he is in a period of uncertainty, he returns to his more nationalist themes, and that is what you are seeing now.

I think the other thing that people are really discounting is how scared he was in this job for the first six months. He had never been in government before. He had never run for city council much less President and he won on the first try. He knew very little about this job, which we know, he has admitted that he spent very little time thinking about what it entailed. He now feels he has more of sense of how it works and I think he has more comfortable relying on himself now.

COOPER: Maggie Haberman, thanks.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: When we continue, more breaking news. The White House says President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had their second phone call in a week to discuss the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed last week by the President. We'll hear from the Prime Minister, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:50:56] COOPER: Breaking tonight, the House says President Trump, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, held their second phone call within the past week today, discussing those tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by the President.

Canada, for now, is exempt from the tariffs. I spoke with the Canadian leader shortly before our broadcast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Prime Minister Trudeau, the new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Canada and Mexico are exempt pending negotiations around NAFTA. Some Canadian analysts I've read have said it's kind of a blackmail by the U.S. do you see it that way?

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: I think it's something that we're dealing with. We recognize that the American side is eager to get motion forward on NAFTA. We are, too. So we're glad to do it. But one of the things that I pointed out to the President is that the steel issue, if there were tariffs brought in, it would actually make it more difficult to move forward on NAFTA. So I'm glad that we're exempt and we're going to continue working hard together at the NAFTA table.

COOPER: Does the announcement from President Trump, does it change your negotiating tactic on NAFTA at all?

TRUDEAU: No. We've consistently been, you know, positive and contributing in a meaningful way at the NAFTA table. We're looking for solutions for paths forward. You know, we're negotiating in a way that stands up for Canadian interests and Canadian workers. But we also know that it's very possible to get a good win-win-win out of updating NAFTA, and that's what we're totally open to.

COOPER: Do you see this as a negotiating tactic by President Trump, though?

TRUDEAU: You know, we're -- we'll deal with it in a straightforward way. We're glad to be exempt from the tariffs. We're going to continue to work constructively and productively at the NAFTA table. And we'll just respond the way we have, with focus on the work we do together and not too much worry about the rhetoric.

COOPER: I know you're traveling to Canada's steel heartland tomorrow to meet with industry leaders and workers. I'm wondering, what is your message going to be to them? I mean, can they breathe a sigh of relief now, or should they still be concerned that their industry could be in deep peril from these tariffs go into effect?

TRUDEAU: I think they can breathe a sigh of relief, both because of the exemption the President mentioned, but also because the number of folks I've spoken to in the United States who understand the level of complex integration between our two countries on steel and aluminum, I mean, you have a steel surplus with us, even though we sell a lot of steel to you, anyway. There is a tremendous level of benefit.

And on the national security side, you know, we have always been incredibly integrated. Our Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets. Canadian steel is in your tanks. There is no better security partner in the world to the United States than Canada is. So that whole issue of national security is simply off the table. And we can work together in ways that benefits, you know, steel workers and aluminum workers on both sides of the border.

COOPER: You know, we've seen President Trump change his mind on a number of issues, even just most recently, on gun issues. He does seem to change his mind a lot. You've actually touted that as an attribute of his. I'm just wondering, though, in terms of negotiation, when the President gives you his word on something or expresses his position, do you have full confidence that -- do you have full confidence that he will stick by that?

TRUDEAU: He always has with me. When we've agreed on things, he's moved forward. When I spoke to him about this concern around national security in two, three (ph), a year ago in Sicily, he assured me that Canada wouldn't be part of the tariffs if they moved forward. And indeed, Canada is not part of the tariffs moving forward.

COOPER: Some have said that flattery or praise seem to work well when dealing with President Trump. Is that an approach that you've taken?

TRUDEAU: I think I've certainly, you know, made a point of not disrespecting him or being insulting. But I think at the same time, I've demonstrated that I'm willing to stand up for Canadian workers every step of the way and Canadian interests. And I think, ultimately, he respects that.

[21:55:12] COOPER: Just lastly, last week President Trump accepted an invitation to meet with North Korea's liter, Kim Jong-un, do you think President Trump should meet with him? And do you have any concerns regarding the risks of a face-to-face meeting between the two?

TRUDEAU: Well, Canada has always said that of the challenge of escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, diplomatic and political solutions are the way to go, not military solutions. That's why we were good to host the Vancouver conference about a month ago to gather together a broad range of allies from around the world. We're going to continue to hope that there are political solutions and if this meeting happens, then we hope that it leads to good things.

COOPER: Prime Minister Trudeau, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

TRUDEAU: My pleasure, Anderson.

COOPER: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That's all time we have. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Breaking news tonight on another busy day in Washington, first up, major developments in the Russia investigation, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee tonight handing the President exactly what he wanted, saying they found no evidence of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and that they're shutting down their investigation.