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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization in Russia Probe; Washington Post: President Trump Decides to Remove H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser and Others May Follow; Stormy Daniels' Attorney: Six Other Women Have Come Forward With Similar Allegations; Pedestrian Bridge in Miami Collapses, Killing at Least Four People. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 15, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:01:01] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There's breaking news out of South Florida tonight, where a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed onto a busy road trapping cars, killing at least four people. We're going to be go there live a little later in the hour to bring you latest developments on that.
We begin this hour, though, with Donald Trump saying when it comes to Russia, to the election, and alleged wrongdoing, there's nothing to see here. Tonight, though, for the first time, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking directly at Donald Trump's family business. He's hit The Trump Organization with a subpoena. According to "The New York Times," which broke the story, he's seeking any Russia-related documents within the company, within the family business.
Joining us now with late details, CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto. So what do you know about this expanding investigation on Mueller's part?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is the hardest signal so far that Mueller is taking a serious look at Trump's business dealings. We had reported earlier, we'd heard from witnesses interviewed by Mueller that they'd been asked questions about Trump's business dealings including projects such as an attempted project at a Trump Tower in Moscow.
We also reported in January that Trump Organization had voluntarily provided documents to the special counsel's office. This is, of course, different. It's a subpoena. It's a legal document. It's requiring him, requiring them to present these documents. They really have no choice there and shows that this may very well be a serious line of investigation for him.
COOPER: What has The Trump Organization's response been?
SCIUTTO: So their simple response to our reporting today is that Trump Organization has cooperated with the investigation, provided all they can when asked to, but remember, and I'm sure you do, Anderson, back in July, Trump did an interview with "The New York Times," some of the transcript was released, some of the audio of that. He was asked would he consider it a red line for the special counsel to look into his business dealings, going beyond, you know, a couple steps beyond, you might say, the original focus of the Russia investigation, the special counsel's investigation.
The President did say more once in that interview, yes, he would consider that a red line, crossing the word line, he used the word, "violation." So the question is, as Mueller goes down this path, what is President Trump's reaction? Of course, we already know he's not happy with the investigation. He'd like to see it end, and this is a sign he's going down this path and could very well mean this investigation has many more weeks and months to go.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto, I appreciated that.
With Robert Mueller steering his investigation closer to the Kremlin, closer to the White House, and now right into Trump Tower. Our next two guests certainly bring the right perspective. We got pretty good timing as well in the book world, Michael Isikoff. He is chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo! News. David Corn is Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones. They are co-authors of the new book, "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."
Michael, this is a fascinating book. Based on your research, first of all, what you think might be of interest to Mueller in terms of the Trump Organization and any business ties to Russia?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CO-AUTHOR, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: Well, let's see. Chapter one, chapter four, chapter 11, look, it is not a surprise to me that Mueller is going in this direction because if you want to understand all the core issues at the bottom of this investigation, they revolve around relationships that Trump first developed with various Russian characters in trying to secure business deals.
When he flies to Moscow in November 2013 to preside over the Miss Universe pageant as we make clear in the book, it was all about trying to nail down a business deal to build that Trump Tower in Moscow with Aras Agalarov, the Russian oligarch who was close to Putin. Who are the characters in the Trump Tower meeting that is so central to the investigation?
COOPER: Aras Agalarov.
ISIKOFF: It was the Agalarovs. Aras Agalarov and his son Emin, who set that meeting in motion through the publicist, Rob Goldstone. So, all these relationships that we document in the book are pretty central to the issues that Mueller has to get to the bottom of.
[21:05:13] TRUMP: And, yet, David, the President, as I think as a candidate, I can't remember exactly when he said it. He was saying, look, I have no business in Russia, I have no business there.
DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: Well, of course, that was kind of a lie. He made money there on "Miss Universe." He spent 30 years, almost 30 years, trying to get a Trump Tower in Moscow and you might remember in 20 -- in the fall of 2015, into early 2016, a story that broke after the election, he had yet another deal to do a Trump Tower through a former felon named Felix Sater, working with a different set of Russians than the Agalarovs, a secret deal that he did not tell the voters.
But this is one way of explaining why he keeps fawning over Putin because he knows you can't do business in Russia. You can't put your name on the Moscow skyline. If you're criticizing Putin for human rights violations, for being a thug, for repressing homosexuals, gays and lesbians in Russia. So he has been fawning over him for several years now while trying to score deals and as we put it in our book, we describe each episode, one after the other, and it turns out there's a really obvious pattern that's been hiding in plain sight.
COOPER: Michael, I mean, the President also has a lot of Russian customers in the U.S. who have bought properties in Trump properties, most famously a building, I guess, an estate he sold in Palm Beach that he bought for, I can't remember how much he bought it for, sold it for multiple times that.
ISIKOFF: Right, right. I think the $140 million was the final number that he secured for that. Yes, look, there's a lot of mysterious ties that Trump has to various players.
Now, a lot of this may not add up to, you know, issues that are right within Robert Mueller's scope. But the idea that he is going to subpoena the business records of The Trump Organization, it makes perfect sense from Mueller's perspective because you can't resolve, you know, the issues that swirl around Trump and his dealings with these people without knowing how -- when exactly did that Trump Tower Moscow, the first Trump Tower Moscow project end? It's -- you know, as we write in the book, it -- you know, Ivanka Trump flew over to Moscow with Emin Agalarov in February 2014 to scout sites for that project.
In January 2015, and this is new in the book, there's a first Trump Tower meeting before the notorious one you've heard about when Trump himself, welcomes Emin Agalarov, and his publicist Rob Goldstone to Trump Tower and first indicates his plans to run for President.
So these relationships are much deeper and richer and have a much bigger history than I think the public has known. And that's what we've tried to document in the book.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, again, you talk about Miss Universe Pageant, which you focus a lot on the book. David, when -- you know, you talk about how the President tried to basically get a meeting or have a relationship with Vladimir Putin, when Donald Trump returned back to New York, I understand that Putin sent Trump a present. Do you have any idea what that was?
CORN: This is one of the great mysteries that we put forward in the book. We note that while he was in Moscow for almost two days, he was obsessive about meeting Putin. About putting coming to the Miss Universe Pageant, itself or Trump meeting him or having a phone call with him outside of that. He kept asking everyone around him, when will I hear from Putin? Am I going to meet Putin? And eventually he hears from Putin's aide that the President can't meet him. But he still is happy that he is in Moscow and perhaps they can get together at the upcoming Olympics. But then Trump goes back to New York, in a couple weeks later, Agalarov, again, that Russian oligarch who is Trump's business partner and Miss Universe who helped set up the Trump Tower meeting with the dirt on Hillary, well, it's his daughter, shows up at the Miss Universe office in Manhattan and presents a gift for Donald Trump.
It's a shiny small black box. Inside it, a letter sealed from Vladimir Putin. What does the letter say? We don't know. And I find it very, you know, interesting or curious that Donald Trump who has bragged many times that he knows Putin, that he's been on "60 minutes" with Putin, that he's a buddy of Putin's, has never once mentioned this letter publicly.
[21:10:10] If I was Robert Mueller, I'd be interested in that letter, too, as well as examining this really strong, tight connection between Donald Trump and the Agalarovs.
COOPER: By the way, someone work for 60 minutes, it's not like there's a green room at "60 minutes" where people who happen to be on the shame episode of "60 minutes" hang out.
CORN: I know.
COOPER: You know, obviously tape different times. So it's always fascinating to me that he used that as an example. It's really fascinating read. I appreciate you being on. Michael Isikoff, David Corn, congratulations on the book.
COOPER: Coming up next, breaking news, a big stuff new reporting that President has now decided to -- and I should underscore the word, decided, to give his national security adviser the ax that more may follow. We'll have more on that ahead.
COOPER: We've just gotten big breaking news coming out of the White House. "The Washington Post" is now reporting the President made up his mind National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is gone. The post headlined "Trump decides to remove National Security Adviser and others may follow."
Joining us by phone is "The Post's" Josh Dawsey. So Josh, explain what you've learned.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Sure the five sources tonight tell us, Anderson, that H.R. McMaster's days of national security adviser are numbered. The President told his Chief of Staff John Kelly earlier this week that he wanted McMaster gone and wanted finalists to interview to become National Security Adviser. [21:15:05] He has settled on several finalists. Among them, John Bolton, who is a kind of hawkish television commentator, who the President actually really likes, Keith Kellogg who is already at the NSC, the National Security Council, and there could be a wild card that James Mattis or others bring to the President.
Right now, what we've learned is a decision to remove H.R. McMaster has been made by the President. What it's going to hinge on is unlike Rex Tillerson who the President fired via Twitter and did it very unceremoniously, the President, others around him want a more stable landing for H.R. McMaster. They're looking for a high-ranking job in the military or a way to remove him without causing embarrassment or humiliation.
COOPER: I mean, this has been talked about certainly for a long time. Do you know what the issues between the President and H.R. McMaster were?
DAWSEY: Well, they haven't really agreed on anything, frankly, Anderson, or at least on many issue issues. They clashed over the Iraq war, and the strategy on the Iraq war. They clashed over the role of foreign aid in the world. The President's world view has been far more America-first as he describes it than H.R. McMaster.
And the President often finds McMaster to be too professorial, too condescending in his words and was really never a natural fit. He obviously was hired after the departure of Michael Flynn, first national security adviser who's now pleaded guilty in front of the Mueller probe, and H.R. McMaster while, you know, respected in the military community never really got along with Jim Mattis, the Defense Secretary, either.
Now we've reported that and others have as well, lot of tension there. He didn't get along particularly well with Tillerson. He didn't have a lot of allies in the White House, and now the President is finally making a move that we think he's been considering for months.
COOPER: But it's so interesting, Josh, I mean, McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson, and certainly Kelly, those were the people that so many people who even had concerns about President Trump pointed to as, you know, they would call them the adults in the room who might be kind of a more experienced people around the President. Tillerson's now gone, according to reporting. H.R. McMaster's on the blocks. Certainly Kelly seems to be in, you know, there's been a lot of talk of trouble for him as well.
DAWSEY: Well, there have been two phases of the presidency, Anderson, you had the Reince Priebus phase in the first six months, the chief of staff. John Kelly came in and posed what was seen in the White House as much-needed order and discipline, you know, more formal protocols, President is only briefed by certain people.
But the President has begun getting frustrated with that. He's someone who is a free-wheeling, you know, president. He wants to do things his own way. And in the past few weeks part of the frustration has boiled over. He obviously was warned by legislative leaders, by top advisers in his cabinet, Gary Cohn, by world officials, everyone about the tariffs he keep moving for them. He fired his secretary of state. He was shaped on him for months and what we're being told is that the President's that a point now, he's saying I'm going to do it my way, I'm going to be the people around me that I want around me.
I tried this, you know, John Kelly method, for several months, six, eight months now, I guess, and it's not exactly what I want, either. And in the past few weeks I think we've seen that. You've seen the departure of several key figures. You've seen the President announcing moves across tariffs without telling people on his staff and now you're seeing him make some personnel moves that he's been championing a bit to make for several months --
COOPER: Yes. Josh Dawsey with the breaking news tonight. Josh from Washington Post, thanks very much it.
I want to bring in our reinforcements, Paul Begala, Michael Caputo, Dana Bash, also on the phone is Retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
General Hertling, first of all, you know H.R. McMaster. What do you make of this report, and where do you think he will end up?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via telephone): Well, from what's been happening over the last several day, Anderson, obviously it's not a big surprise. But H.R. has been attempting to drive the national security policy process.
You know, a little over a month ago that they initiated and rolled out the national security strategy which early on there were indicators that there were some disconnects in that strategy, in what was the written document and what Secretary Mattis, Secretary Tillerson, and the rest of the national security team said were our priorities versus what President Trump was saying was his priorities.
It's not a surprise. The President chose H.R. after a very short meeting, General McMaster who I know is a very smart, intellectual, and savvy combat veteran, but he also has some different personality issues that I think would probably rub against the President.
[21:20:11] H.R. is not the kind of guy who's going to be a sycophant. He's going to tell it like it is. He's going to say, here's the main issues with our national security and we have to do the kinds of things that are associated with our security, and we all know that President Trump is a bit more free-wheeling. And I think H.R. probably actually stood up to him on several occasions. He can also be very pressing in his characteristics and he can stand up and support an argument. And as we've seen, that's not the kind of guy that --
HERTLING: -- feels well in this kind of environment and does well in this kind of environment.
COOPER: Yes. Dana bash, I understand you have some other reporting as well.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN is confirming that the President, according to sources that I've talked to, that Gloria Borger and Pamela Brown have talked to, has made the decision to remove H.R. McMaster.
What the holdup is, according to these sources, is to two things, one, who he's going to be replaced with. That's obvious. But two, where H.R. McMaster is going to go next, because he is active duty? He's a three-star. The question has been whether he would be put somewhere, deployed somewhere, in an effort to get a fourth star or whether he would go somewhere else, or whether he would retire from the military completely. I'm not sure that the answer to that is known yet, which in part why we have been reporting for some time that H.R. McMaster's days are numbered and that the President has been talking to replacements, people like John Bolton, for example, who was the U.N. Ambassador during the Bush years, to replace him, but it hasn't happened yet.
So this is something that --
BASH: A way, I should say, Anderson, that it's being handled, it appears, quite differently from the way we saw the Tillerson situation, whereas, yes, as general Hertling knows far better than I, he knows H.R. McMaster well, there certainly have been personality clashes. Just even the basic things like the way H.R. McMaster briefs I'm told grates on the President because of his style, because of his speaking style. Still, it's not like he's kicking him to the curb. It seems as though they're trying to find a soft landing, a way that is not as untoward as what happened with Rex Tillerson.
BASH: Or even James Comey for that matter.
COOPER: Yes. Paula, I should point out I think the President called the reporting earlier on this, from days ago, fake news about McMaster, and also I think he used that same term for reporting on Tillerson and being on the outs over time. So two examples where fake news, of course, turn out to be real news as it has most the time. What do can you make this decision by the President, Paul?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I saw from premise that the President is commander in chief, and no one else, and he has the right to have whoever he wants especially as his national security adviser --
COOPER: Hey, Paul, sorry, we got a problem with your mike. We're going to try to repair that. Michael Caputo, what do you make of it?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Well, you know, we've been hearing about H.R. McMaster's days being numbered for quite some time. It must have been a really high number when they first started calling it out. You know, H.R. McMaster came in after, you know, kind of a real kind of a debacle with General Flynn and I think he gave the White House some stability. And I think, you know, also you have to understand that, you know, H.R. McMaster is a military general, and Donald Trump responds well to the military. Responds well to the generals who are in the White House, and H.R. McMaster has done a very good job.
I think, you know, maybe we just skip the four-star, go right to the five-star for General McMaster but I love some of the names they're discussing about replacing him and I'm looking forward to the President having the cabinet that he deserves.
COOPER: Paul Begala, I think we have your mike back. How do you see this?
BEGALA: Well, a five-star would be pretty remarkable. We haven't had one since Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower, I think might be a little much to get a fifth star.
But I start from the premise that the President has the right to get his national security advice from wherever he chooses. My commander- in-chief and our commander-in-chief, and particularly this job, which is not confirmed by the Senate, it's really central to the President's strategy, to his briefing. So he should have whoever he likes. General McMaster is an impressive person. He earn a silver star. Two bronze stars. Purple heart. He's also quite a scholar. So as a citizen, I hate to see him go.
Dana's reporting that, perhaps, one of the people the President's looking at is Josh Bolton who was -- John Bolton, I'm sorry, the wrong Bolton, John Bolton who was our Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bush would be stunning. And this is something I think -- President Trump astonishes me every day, but Ambassador Bolton was part of the crowd that President Bush attacked during the campaign.
[21:25:15] He attacked the Bush crowd. He attacked the establishment as recently as yesterday in his fund-raising speech in Missouri. He was attacking the foreign policy establishment that he said they didn't know what the hell they've been doing for 25 years. So he -- President Bush claims that -- President Obama -- gosh, I can't keep my Presidents history. Mr. Trump, our President --
COOPER: President Trump.
BEGALA: -- claims he was against the Iraq war, which Bolton was a great champion of. It would be really be an odd fit if McMaster who is a straight by the book patriot, utterly nonpartisan, and non- ideological, if he's not a good fit, to bring in a guy like Bolton who seems to be against the stated foreign policy ideas of Mr. Trump is really would be stunning.
BASH: It would be. It would be. I agree with that. My understanding and my colleagues here have done reporting on this as well, is that they've had more than one get-to-know you session. We've reported that John Bolton was in the White House just last week.
It is not in keeping with what President Trump campaigned on, but it is not unusual for the President to bring in people who don't necessarily appear to be part of his world view. At first blush. So, yes, it doesn't make sense on its face, but it does make sense when you think about the way this President tends to operate and it -- what he's learning, what we're seeing before our eyes, is that it's a comfort factor. He likes to feel comfortable, which is completely understandable for any job, particularly when you're the leader of the free world.
And if he is, as we're hearing, comfortable with John Bolton, that could be a big factor given especially where he's coming from with not really meshing with H.R. McMaster. Not a done deal by any means. There are other people he's talking to but just that one that we have heard about.
COOPER: Michael Caputo, again, it's also interesting with -- sorry, Larry Kudlow coming in, I mean, again, John Bolton is somebody who appears on television quite regularly. You know, it's very possible the President has got to know him, you know, through the television first, before having these get-to-know you sessions.
CAPUTO: Well, you know, Larry Kudlow has been talking with President Trump since before he came down the staircase and declared his candidacy. As you probably know on the conservative side of the aisle, Larry Kudlow is considered legendary.
And I know the President respects him for his many, many years of economic leadership in it the conservative movement and his leadership on supply-side economics with Jack Kemp. You know, Ambassador Bolton is similarly well regarded among conservative types. He's kind of a lightning rod at times but I think both of these men who disagree a bit with the President on the issues are what the President is assembling as another battle of ideas. He likes to see a bit of competition on policy, and these are two men that will give it to him.
BEGALA: It seems to --
COOPER: General Hertling, just in terms of -- in terms of where H.R. McMaster might end up, you know, what is the likelihood that he would stay in military?
HERTLING: Well, I think truthfully, Anderson, would give that probably a four in 10 chance. I would wholeheartedly disagree with Mr. Caputo in suggesting that he's immediately going to get a four- star and a fifth star is pretty bizarre truthfully. I mean, there's only been five of them in our military history.
CAPUTO: Come on, I was making a joke. Dig deep and find your sense of humor, OK?
HERTLING: It's great, but what I will say is that he probably will not continue in the military. H.R. was on the verge of retiring when he was chosen for the job. I don't see him getting another operational assignment. He will probably retire out of this job, rightfully so.
But one of the things that would be interesting is this whole team has been put together, if you go into management operations and see the whole forming-storming-norming-performing, it appears like we're back in the forming stage again.
H.R. and several of the other people in the cabinets were setting up policy directives and national security policy and strategies and now we're going to go back to probably wiping them out and starting the second year with not similar direction or actual discipline and resources. So I think what we'll see is H.R. will probably leave, he will probably go to the private sector and be very successful somewhere in a think tank or in a university and what he's done in terms of the policy will probably be collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.
CAPUTO: I'll take that --
COOPER: Yes, he has been affiliated with the Hoover Institution before.
Paul Begala, I think you wanted to say something. I interrupted you.
BEGALA: Yes. No, I'm sorry I kept interrupting. Bad manners tonight. My belief is that General McMaster sealed his fate on February 17th. He went to the Munich Security Conference, one of the most important global conferences on world security. In front of the whole world he called out Russia in way that many of us have been wanting, our leaders to do. And he said there was incontrovertible evidence, that's the word he used, incontrovertible that Russia attacked the United States through cyber means. And the President undermined him publicly.
[21:30:22] And that's the end for a commander, when you say something that is plainly -- backed up by all the military and intelligence we have, and then your commander in chief undercuts you, you knew he couldn't function in the job after that. I think it's a shame for General McMaster, who I think history will prove right. I think it's a tragedy for President Trump and it's really again raises the question of why is this guy who is so hot to take on North Korea or Canada, why is he is weak on Russia. And that will be question I think to come up to who --
COOPER: Michael Caputo, you're shaking your head.
CAPUTO: You catch those sanctions that were announced today, Paul?
BEGALA: By Secretary Mnuchin --
CAPUTO: The 300-plus Russian mercenaries who were killed in Syria. I mean, the fantasy behind all of this theory of Russia collusion is coming apart at the seams. And I'll tell you this, I know that the White House is looking for a landing spot for H.R. McMaster, I hope they find him one. I'd love to have him continue in our national security apparatus, but, of course, you know, this is not as all of us on this panel are seeing. BASH: Can I just throw one thing out there that was mentioned briefly, but should be out there more sort of forcefully? That H.R. McMaster 14 months in is the President's second national security adviser because Michael Flynn was the first pick. Much to the chagrin of many, many people who were in and around the President and in it and around most importantly the national security apparatus of the Republican Party, And so H.R. McMaster was brought in pretty quickly. We heard somebody report tonight that it was really after one quick meeting that he chose H.R. McMaster, but, again, given the broader context of the turnover, the massive turnover across the board in this administration, it's noteworthy that his second national security adviser just a little more than a year in looks like he's going to be gone and likely to be on number three.
COOPER: Yes. I want to thank everybody.
Just ahead, we're back to the Russia breaking news, more on that reaction from a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which just got out of the investigating business.
[21:35:57] We began the hour with where the Robert Mueller's investigators are taking a step closer to Donald Trump's bread and butter, the family business. But even as his team appears to be settling in for the long haul, another team is leaving the investigative field. We're talking about the House Intelligence Committee shutting down its probe.
Republicans say their work is done. Democrats on the committee say otherwise, including California Congressman Eric Swalwell. I spoke to him earlier tonight about the Mueller developments.
COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, this news that Mueller is subpoenaing documents about Russia from The Trump Organization, itself, I'm wondering what you make of that in light of the fact that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, they made it clear they have no interest in looking into the President's finances?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Anderson, it looks like that the Mueller team is following Donald Trump's money and with the limited resources we had in our investigation without subpoena power on the Democratic side, when we followed the money, we found that Donald Trump was attempting to do business with a Russian-sanctioned bank during the election. That raised a number of red flags for us as well as a number of other contacts he had with the Russians financially. So hopefully the Mueller team will be able to do what the Republicans on our committee were not willing to do.
COOPER: You know, the President had told "The New York Times" when asked that it was a red line for him if Mueller started looking into his personal finances not involving Russia. Are you concerned that Mueller's subpoena may cross that line for the President? And he may try to retaliate?
SWALWELL: I hope bob Mueller has his own lines and, you know, follows the evidence, not the President's rules, because, you know, Bob Mueller should be able to proceed, you know, without any threats or intimidation from the White House. That's why, Anderson, the best thing we can do in Congress is to submit Bob Mueller's role in this investigation by saying that he can't be fired and unless it's for cause and reviewed by the judicial branch, because I think Donald Trump and his allies in Congress continue to try and intimidate the Mueller team and I'm afraid that this house intelligence report will only be used by the President as evidence that he should fire Mueller.
COOPER: Ranking Member Schiff explained that the report that the Democrats put out was essentially a roadmap to continuing the investigation. The reality, I mean, that's not going to happen, obviously, with the Republicans in the majority. So is this basically Democrats having this in place so it can be re-opened if they win back the house this fall?
SWALWELL: Yes, Anderson, our job as a committee was to put out a report that would protect the ballot box and the Republicans instead have chosen to protect the President.
Now, we have limited resources as to what we can do. We're going to try and fill in as much of the gaps as possible with voluntary interviews and talking to people who are willing to talk to us, but we also want to make sure that if we do win the majority and the investigation has not been completed, that we are able to go back and do all we can to assure the American people that our elections will not be interfered with.
Anderson, my big fear, though, is that if we win the majority that we will go into 2019 having to investigate two interference campaigns by the Russians. One from 2016, and what they're likely to do now because the Republicans have given them a green light because of their unwillingness to investigate what they just did.
COOPER: I mean, lastly, though, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today was asked if Vladimir Putin is a friend or a foe of the United States. She didn't answer that question, instead, said that Russia has to decide if they wanted to a good actor or bad actor. How would you answer that question? Is Vladimir Putin a friend or a foe?
SWALWELL: Russia is not our friend. Neither is their leader. It's not just for what they did during the cold war. There are atrocities in the last few years. Whether it's their activities in Ukraine, the chaos that they enable in Syria, or, you know, many of the deeply disturbing accusations of their support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. And, of course, what they did in our last election.
[21:40:06] I've tried, Anderson, to communicate this with the group I lead called Future Form, it's our youngest Democratic members reaching out to millennials across the country who don't necessarily have this perspective and they may ask why can't we get along with Russia so making sure they understand this country should not be given the equivalence as other allies of ours is a challenge but something we have to communicate.
Congressman Swalwell, I appreciate it, thanks.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
COOPER: Well, coming up, as we follow the money in the Stormy Daniels situation, now her lawyer says that other women have come to him with claims about the President. We'll talk to Michael Avenatti next when we come back.
COOPER: We've been following the money in the Stormy Daniels case, trying to get at whether the President was involved in efforts to keep her quiet about their alleged affair.
Now there's a new twist. Her attorney says other women have come to him to explore possible legal action against the President. Michael Avenatti joins us now.
So Michael, I know there's a lot you can't say. But do you find the stories of these other women who you say have come to you are credible, or are there any similarities in terms of circumstances?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Good evening, Anderson. As of tonight, we've been approached by six separate women with similar stories to my client. I want to stress that we have not vetted these stories to any great degree. However, the initial consultations, the initial information that we're receiving, indicates that there are some striking similarities between their stories and that of my client, Ms. Clifford.
[21:45:18] COOPER: Can you say if any of these women have nondisclosure agreements?
COOPER: They do?
AVENATTI: At least two of them do.
COOPER: Can you say is it from the same LLC that Michael Cohen set up for the one with Stormy Daniels?
AVENATTI: We don't know yet.
COOPER: So have you actually looked at those nondisclosure agreements or you've just been told that they have them?
AVENATTI: We have viewed at least two nondisclosure agreements, but it's unclear as to which LLC, if any LLC was used in connection with them.
2COOPER: All right. 2 AVENATTI: And, again --
COOPER: Last hour I spoke -- yes.
AVENATTI: And again, I want to stress that this is very early on, we have not made a determination as to whether we're going to represent these women. What the next step is. So I want to be very cautious, again, I have preached caution throughout this process in it the last two weeks because I think it's important that we don't get over the tips of our skis and overstate facts and evidence in connection with this.
COOPER: Just one more question on these other women you say have come forward. Can you give a sense of the timing of any of the nondisclosure agreements that they have signed?
AVENATTI: Not at this time.
COOPER: OK. So last hour I spoke to David Schwartz, a friend of Michael Cohen, an attorney of Michael Cohen in his own right on a separate matter. I want to play part of what Mr. Schwartz said so you can respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEY: I can guarantee one thing, that Michael Cohen will not rest, all right, when this is all said and done, Michael Cohen will not rest until he recovers every penny, that's $1 million per breach, plus punitive damages from Stormy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What do you make of that?
AVENATTI: Anderson, this is like Christmas in Hanukkah all rolled into one for me tonight. I'm ecstatic. I think this is, perhaps, the greatest gift that I've ever received. If Michael Cohen and President Trump want to drag this out and get into a street fight over the recovery, quote/unquote, of these millions of dollars for an American citizen speaking the truth, I think this is outstanding. And I'm really looking forward to the next two, three, four, five, years.
However long it takes. We're not going to be intimidated by Mr. Schwartz or Mr. Cohen or the President. They need to bring it and we're going to bring it. And we're going to let a court and, perhaps, a jury, ultimately decide who's telling the truth and who's not telling the truth.
Anderson, this situation has gotten so unseemly that now the attorney needs an attorney. So at first it was President Trump, then he was relying on Mr. Cohen. Now Mr. Cohen is relying on his friend, an attorney. And, frankly, Anderson, where is Michael Cohen? I mean, where is this guy? This guy prides himself on being a fixer. He ends tweets with #raydonovan. He actually refers to himself as Ray Donovan. But where is he? Why won't he come on your show or any other show and sit here like I do and answer simple questions? Where is this guy?
COOPER: I should also just point out for full disclosure for viewers who don't know, I have sat down with Stormy Daniels for an upcoming "60 minutes" interview. Cohen's arguments according to Schwartz is that the nondisclosure agreement is valid and binding because of the use of the word "and/or" that Donald Trump, Aka, David Dennison, didn't have to sign it, as long as Michael Cohen signed it for the LLC. Explain to people who aren't lawyers why you think that's not true.
AVENATTI: Well, there's a number of reasons why that's not true, Anderson. First of all, there are a number of portions of that contract, if wasn't just about the money, there are a number of portions of that contract that required Donald Trump and only Donald Trump to provide what's called consideration beyond the $130,000.
For instance, Donald Trump had to release my client from certain liabilities, claims, et cetera, in connection with that agreement, the only way that that could happen would be for him to sign the document. So that's number one.
Number two, the "and/or" under California law, I don't think that Mr. Schwartz is licensed in the State of California, he may be a very fine lawyer here in New York but our case isn't in New York. Our case is in California. I am licensed in California, and under California law, the "and/or" is a conjunctive term, it's a plural term. That's how the law views it, even though it says "and/or."
[21:50:10] Third, there's a line for Donald Trump on the agreement. If there was an expectation he was not going to sign and that either he or Mr. Cohen on behalf of the LLC was going to sign, there would have simply been one signature line that would have had and "or" or something of that nature. That wasn't done. There would have been no need for the side letter agreement which we've also made public by way of the filing of the lawsuit.
The list goes on and on. My client had the expectation that Donald Trump was going to sign that agreement to make it binding. He never did. There never was then under the law a formal agreement.
I want to go back to this ridiculous threat, and I am so glad that we've heard it again tonight. I'm ecstatic. That they're going to pursue $1 million worth of damages against my client for speaking the truth in America. That million-dollar clause in that contract will never be upheld by any court of law in California for a variety of reasons, including that it's what they call legally unconscionable. It's so beyond the pale of what a party would even be permitted to agree to that the courts will refuse to enforce it.
However, I am ecstatic about the challenge that they are going to bring against my client for attempting to tell the American people what really happened. We're going to have, Anderson, a sitting U.S. president who is going to be carrying out a vendetta against an American citizen for speaking to the American people so they can determine the truth. This is truly remarkable.
COOPER: Michael Avenatti, I appreciate your time. More to come on that. Thanks.
Up next, our breaking news from Miami, a pedestrian bridge collapsing over a busy road trapping cars, killing several people, the latest from the scene when we come back.
[21:55:00] COOPER: We have more breaking news tonight. Several people are dead after a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed in Miami. Rosa Flores joins us now with the latest. Explain what happened. Do we know why this bridge collapsed?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we don't know, Anderson. We probably won't know for a while. But rest assured, this will be investigated at the local state and federal level and a homicide investigation will also be conducted.
But here's what we know. This bridge collapsed at about 1:30 this afternoon. When first responders arrived, they found eight vehicles under the rubble. We know that up to four people have died. Eight people were transported to area hospitals and since then, this has been a search and rescue effort. You can see the scene behind me. It is extremely active at the moment.
The Fire Department telling us that they are using listening devices to try to hear for signs of life. They're using canines. They brought in heavy equipment, cranes to try to move those heavy pieces of equipment, again, to try to save lives. But they do say that they know that this will not end well, Anderson.
They have said that they believe that more people might be dead under the rubble. But they're doing everything that they can. This will be a search and rescue effort until they say that they have exhausted every resource. At that point they say that this will go into a recovery effort and that a homicide investigation will follow. Anderson?
COOPER: I mean it's just sickening to see those crushed cars underneath that. Do they know how many people were actually injured?
FLORES: You know, at this moment, we know that at least eight to nine people were transported to area hospitals. Those are the only numbers that they're giving us at this time. It's very difficult to tell, according to what first responders are telling us, Anderson. As you might imagine, it's extremely sensitive because those large pieces of concrete fell on those vehicles as they were going under this bridge. And they don't know exactly how many people were inside those cars. So right now, at this hour, they're listening for signs of life, hoping that they can save some of those people who are under the rubble. Anderson?
COOPER: Just awful. Rosa Flores, I appreciate the details. Thank you very much. We'll be right back.