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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Bill O'Reilly Out At Fox News; Russia Probe On Capitol Hill; Sources: FBI Used Trump Dossier To Help Get Secret Wiretap Warrant On Associate In Russia Investigation; W.H. Looking To Revive Obamacare Repeal Soon. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 19, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:02:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Topping this hour of "360," the firing of Fox News's Bill O'Reilly. For years, he personally was arguably the biggest brand on cable television. He was one of the loudest voices in the culture wars and conservative politics. He was also, according to a long string of female accuser, a sexual harasser who tried to use his power to coerce them into having sex with them or punish them for refusing.
So important was Bill O'Reilly to Fox's bottom line. They sacrifice the network's president and founder for almost identical reasons before letting O'Reilly go. Today, however, they did and he's also weigh in. We're talking about it tonight with a lot of people starting again this hour with CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter. What is the latest on this, Brian?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The latest is that Bill O'Reilly is flying home from Italy tonight. The end to his vacation, also the end to his Fox News career, a sudden and embarrassing end for O'Reilly who thought he'd be back on the anchor desk on Monday, resuming his conservative talk show.
You know, he was viewed as invincible, Anderson, but the men who run 21st Century Fox, the Murdoch's, they're trying to send a message saying they are dragging this channel, Fox News, into the 21st Century, trying to improve the culture at the conservative cable news channel.
But, this is not over, not by a long shot. There are other lawsuits against others at Fox still pending. Other women have accused others at Fox of harassment and retaliation, not the end. We're in the middle of this, not the end.
COOPER: Bill O'Reilly's statement that he released earlier today, what did he say?
STELTER: He is continuing to deny the charges against him. Here is part of the statement that he released this afternoon as he was boarding his flight home. He said, "Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history."
He went on to say, "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today."
He concluded by saying, "I will always look back on my time at Fox with a great pride in the unprecented success we achieved with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers."
Well, we don't know, Anderson, how O'Reilly's fans are going to react to this sudden split and whether the hot tempered O'Reilly might go to try to set up shop somewhere else and compete against Fox.
COOPER: Brian, thanks. Bill O'Reilly, as we've been talking about, a long time friend of the president who recently tweeted in his defense. In fact, he's having outsize impact on American politics and culture for the better part in two decades. Here to talk about is CNN Political Analyst David Gergen, Gloria Borger and Carl Bernstein.
Carl, what do you think the political impact or O'Reilly leaving will be, because for so long Fox News was Bill O'Reilly, Bill O'Reilly was Fox News. I mean, he and Roger Ailes were essentially the architects of the conservative media movement.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Even more than that. Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch changed America, changed American culture, changed our politics in the post-Reagan era as probably no other individuals did. They had enormous power and now they no longer have the same place to exercise that power in the same way and we don't know where it's going to go.
[21:05:08] What we do know is that Fox has seen that they had to make a very hard business decision about whether to keep him or whether to let him go. And in the end, they saw they had to change their culture in such a way that this spokesperson for a point of view that had virtually nothing to do with real news and had to do with counter factual advocacy of a kind and significantly that Donald Trump also practices, they're both great showmen.
And let's not forget, O'Reilly is a great T.V. performer. Don't take that away from him, any more than you would take away from Donald Trump. What a great performer he is in terms of bringing along an audience and getting that audience into believing in him and his belief system.
COOPER: You know, David, I mean, Bill O'Reilly was sometimes unpredictable in what his opinion was going to be. I mean, he was obviously advancing a conservative agenda, but it wasn't in the same way that Sean Hannity does. You know, I think that's one of the things viewers like about him is that he could take kind of counterintuitive positions sometimes.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's absolutely right, Anderson. He is a very smart fellow. He's just like Roger Ailes. Both of them were very canny people. They really understood television.
Bill O'Reilly is, you know, was a serious student of the past. He writes books that have done very, very well. And I think that he sort of figured out as long as I am free to be unpredictable, I'm going to be -- I'll have much better hold on my audience. People tune in for that and, frankly, it earns his credibility.
I have to tell you, I think Fox would have been a lot worse off had they kept him. I think that was the real issue, if they kept him. After the charges that have been made, you know, he continues to say he didn't do it, but why then $13 million in settlements? A lot of people say, "If you got -- if you pay $13 million, there must be something there."
One more thing, Anderson, his lawyer say this is all -- the left-wing has ganged up on him. They have evidence to prove that there's been a conspiracy to bring him down. Let's see the evidence. If he wants to believe that, let's see the evidence.
COOPER: You know, Gloria, I mean, it's also interesting to see is how people view this, whether they just view it through the lens of politics. I mean, things are so polarized now that, you know, when I read that lawyer's statement I thought, OK, well, that's an appeal to, you know, viewers of Bill O'Reilly who are fans of Bill O'Reilly who can just say, "Well, look, this is all just politics. This is a left- wing agenda trying to bring this guy down."
BORGER: Right. And it was, you know, and don't forget, while all of this was going on and the story in the "New York Times" came out I believe April 1, Bill O'Reilly didn't lose his audience.
COOPER: It grew, actually.
BORGER: It grew. So, O'Reilly still has his fans. And, you know, I think that that's what made it so difficult for Fox. I mean, as we were talking about in the last hour, Anderson, you know, Fox decided to do this because of business. It's a business decision for them, but they kept him because they needed him and they renewed him even though they knew all this stuff was going on and they knew about, obviously, the $13 million in settlements, because that was good for business, too.
And so, this was really difficult for them. But also, you know, I would add, that this is publicly traded company which is trying to make a purchase of the rest of Sky T.V. in Britain and this kind of a cloud hanging over your head of sexual harassment at your company is not a good thing.
BERNSTEIN: There's another element of this and that is that O'Reilly and Fox News has been about the demonization of liberalism and the so- called left. And nobody has been more seminal in the cultural wars in doing that than Bill O'Reilly and he's done it with great success.
As Gloria saying, we have to look at the size of his audience, Fox's audience. It is the dominant cable news channel in terms of its viewership because he and others at Fox and Murdoch and Ailes' vision of an alternative universe that was previously not mainstream --
GERGEN: I just had one point here, Anderson.
BERNSTEIN: Go ahead.
GERGEN: Carl makes some interesting points here. But, you know, there's a strong argument to be made that actually in the end the public -- the consumers brought him down. It's not unlike what has happened to Trump in some ways. His base has been very strong, very (inaudible), but his overall approval ratings have been falling and that's because there are -- you know, I think there are a lot of people out there that Fox knew were going to put pressure on the advertisers.
COOPER: Well, his advertisers had pulled out a lot since that "New York Times" article. I mean, it was an escalating -- a cascade of advertising pulling out.
GERGEN: Right, yeah. So when they pulled out, you know, that Fox is in a situation where a lot of consumers maybe will turn against the advertisers if they came back and that's why I think they in the end for a variety of reasons, but one was certainly the set business reasons that Gloria cited.
[21:10:10] I think that they felt that the consumers might -- even though they kept their base, he kept his base of viewers that tied was turning against him with advertisers and consumers pushing that.
COOPER: Also, Gloria, I mean, just in terms of internally -- I mean, I think David is absolutely right about the pressure, you know, that it was a money decision. But also just for the internal relationships, the culture within the company, and the parent company, I mean, what sort of a message would it have sent if Bill O'Reilly was allowed to stay and, again, you know, after all this payouts had been made?
BORGER: Right. You know, once the story became public, I think there was -- they couldn't put the genie back in the bottle. I think that they would have been happy to let it continue and renew Bill O'Reilly and let it go on so long as nobody knew about those settlements to those women.
Once that became public and more women started coming forward, I think it became very difficult for them to control no matter what the size of O'Reilly's audience, because even though O'Reilly makes so much money for them, there were larger corporate stakes here.
And also as you point out, internally at the news organization -- and I haven't done reporting inside Fox News at all, but I would assume that this was an issue for women there and for men, quite honestly, that what kind of a working environment would it be if you are going to succeed? COOPER: Yeah. I mean, David, I cannot fathom what it was like to work in Fox News with all -- I mean, with Roger Ailes, with the allegations against him and with the allegations against Bill O'Reilly. I mean, I've never heard of a workplace like that except for, you know, - which you -- I mean --
GERGEN: I don't know. It sounds like a lot of towel snapping, you know, 19th hole kind of locker room stuff. It is.
BORGER: I wouldn't know.
GERGEN: I guess it's (inaudible). All of us are having a hard time relating to it. It just -- I think we can remember when we were young there might be environments like that. But then, thankfully, a lot of it disappeared. I guess for women though, there are a lot of women out there I think who feel like it hasn't disappeared as much as you think it has. It has a long way to go.
BERNSTEIN: One more thing is O'Reilly portrayed himself as a victim here. That's what's partly extraordinary --
COOPER: And continues to.
BERNSTEIN: And continues to, which also is a little bit like listening to the President of the United States. There's a kind of straight line here about victimization and yet these are enormously powerful people who somehow managed to see themselves as being had by others.
BORGER: Well, it's about power. And, you know, I listened to Kirsten story -- Kirsten Powers telling you Anderson just earlier on in the show about this sense that no matter who she went to about an affront, everybody said, "Oh, it's just Bill O'Reilly and he is so powerful." So this is not only goes on in television, of course, it goes on in corporate America all the time. So it's about power.
And, you know, I can only imagine working in an environment where I couldn't walk into a colleague or a boss and close the door and say, "Look, I have a real problem and have some expectation that it would be taken seriously and not be dismissed," as Kirsten said it was.
COOPER: But, also -- I mean, to me, it's also the hypocrisy of -- I mean, in working in this business in which you are not only, you know, reporting facts but, you know, certainly Bill O'Reilly who made a lot of moral judgments on television about other people to be making those moral judgments and then have these accusations against you. I mean, it does raise questions of hypocrisy. David, Carl, Gloria, thank you.
Coming here next, we're going to bring you Kirsten story, what Gloria was referencing, you'll hear that. We heard that for the first time just moments ago.
Also, Bill O'Reilly, more on his relationship with President Trump and the views of a congresswoman who O'Reilly recently tried to mock, that's Congresswoman Maxine Waters, joins us.
Later, an update on the Trump/Russia hearings on Capitol Hill and the vast the witnesses the two parties intend to call.
[21:17:44] COOPER: The firing of Bill O'Reilly came not after the first woman accusing him took action more than a decade ago, nor the second nor the fifth. And his departure is not ending the stories, including from CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, who once worked at Fox. In the last hour, she told me for the very first time what she went through when I asked her to react to today's news.
KIRSTEN POWER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that it's stunning because Bill O'Reilly was Fox News. He had so much power there and it was sort of unthinkable that he would leave there except on his own terms.
And I did his show regularly for a long time and, you know, I was thinking about an incident that happened early on in my career there where I was on air actually with Margaret Hoover, who is at CNN now, on a regular segment we were on every Monday and he got Margaret's name wrong and Margaret said, "Hey, get my name right." And he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, there's a lot of blondes in this operation. I can't keep you all straight." Megyn Kelly is coming up sort of playing all this blonde names and then at the end of the segment says, "Thank you for your blondeness to both of us."
So, I went to his executive producer and I said, he needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again or I'm not doing his show anymore. And I was told basically, "Well, you know, Bill, there's nothing we can do about it. He's a throwback. He's kind of an Archie Bunker."
And I said, "Well, if you mean he's a (inaudible), then we're on the same page. He can never do that again. I'm a political analyst here." He went to Bill, came back and said, "No, he's not going to apologize."
So then I went to my -- I was called into my boss' office. I was told, "What can we do, it's Bill? There's nothing we can do. You know, we're sorry this happened to you, but there's nothing we can do." I complained to Roger Ailes. I was told the same exact thing, "There's nothing we can do. It's Bill. He's a jerk. Nobody likes him."
And then Roger said, "You know, Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them." And so the whole thing was sort of Bill -- oh, and then he said, "You know, and, you know, what am I going to do? I don't like him, but he makes so much money, there's nothing I can do." That was --
COOPER: Wait a minute, who said that?
POWERS: Roger Ailes. And so this was the culture, which was Bill was, you know, just too big and so that there was nothing you could do about it. So I did quit his show and I didn't do it for two or three years. It was an election year. It was the biggest show at Fox. And then about three years later, I went back and I said, "Look, I'm willing to give this another try." And he said sure. And I came on the show. And I never had another problem. We actually ended up having quite a good relationship.
[21:20:02] But it just spoke volumes that I had to completely handle it on my own that there was nobody that was willing to even say anything to him just to basically say you can't treat one of our political analyst this way.
COOPER: Powers, with the look at the culture inside Fox News at the time.
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters had a more recent brush with Bill O'Reilly. She joins us now. Congresswoman Waters, thank you so much for being with us. First of all, do you think Fox made the right decision to fire him today?
REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: Absolutely. And I'm very proud of what I understand took place. The sons of Murdoch are the ones that I'm told insisted that he had to go. And, they're trying to take this station into a new era. And so, I'm very pleased that they did that.
I'm pleased with the advertisers who decided that they were going to pull their ads from his show. I'm so pleased with the women who came forward who were victims and decided that they were going to expose what had happened to them.
You know, Bill O'Reilly is not going to be recorded favorably in history. Unfortunately, he was a man who made tremendous sums of money, had a huge show and really there's something wrong with him psychologically.
He obviously could not sustain relationships and the stories about him talking to women on the telephone with this kind of sex talk, it is really just, you know, unconscionable that he would allow himself to end up like this. It's all his fault.
And so, I hope he seeks some help. And I hope that the women who have come forward feel good about the justice that they are receiving. This is an era of women who are fed up with being taken advantage of, particularly in the workplace. We've been hearing about this for years.
Remember the old stories about the casting couch and what women in the entertainment industry had to do? Well, these stories are legendary all over this country and, perhaps, all over this world. Women have been taken advantage of.
COOPER: What does it say to you, though, that this went on-- I mean, the first accusation that was made publicly was back in 2004 by Andrea Mackris apparently, it was settled for some $9 million, according to "The New York Times." And that -- I mean, over the years, these allegations, these accusations continued and it's only now that Fox News took action. What does that say about the culture?
WATERS: Well, I consider that it was a sexual harassment enterprise there at Fox. And the men there and Roger Ailes, this was a way of life for them. Powerful men with a lot of money, who would proposition women, take advantage of them. They thought that was normal and the way that life should be.
And so, it is only then in recent years that women have felt strong enough to come forward and to talk about what has happened to them. Just think how many women depended on their jobs and didn't want to lose their jobs and was afraid to say anything. But things have changed.
Life is changing for women. Women are feeling stronger, coming forward, standing up for themselves. And I know that it went on for a long time, but thank God it's stopped now with Bill O'Reilly at Fox.
COOPER: You said before that you think O'Reilly should go to jail. Do you still believe that? The president says he doesn't believe O'Reilly did anything wrong.
WATERS: Well, I can't-- you can't pay any attention to what the president says. They are cut from the same cloth. They are two of a kind.
You know, for the President of the United States of America to stand up for a man who has spent $13 million in settlement, even though he claims he hasn't done anything wrong, certainly, he didn't spend all of that money and make these settlements because he was innocent. And this president knew that, but this is the way the president himself has been accused of acting with women. So I don't pay attention to that.
But let me just say this. The day will come when rich persons, rich men won't be able to buy their way out of this criminal activity and they will go to jail and they should go to jail.
COOPER: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
WATERS: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next we will talk about the long history to all of this, including, as we mentioned, the case of Andrea Mackris who I spoke with back in 2004.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MACKRIS, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER AT FOX NEWS: He tried and tried and tried and I said no, no, no. You're my boss. You're my boss, no.
COOPER: He tried to talk to you in person, on the phone?
MACKRIS: Yeah, on the phone and in person. Yes, both.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[21:28:33] COOPER: All right, as we've noted, multiple women have accused Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment over the years. One of them, Andrea Mackris, who worked as an associate producer at Fox News during two difference instance (ph). She sued him 13 years ago alleging he repeatedly said mood (ph) things to her both times she worked there. I spoke with Andrea back in 2004.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACKRIS: He had tried to talk as it says in the complaint. He had tried and tried and tried and I said, no, no, no. You're any boss. You're my boss, no.
COOPER: He tried to talk to you in person, on the phone?
MACKRIS: Yeah, on the phone and in person. Yes, both, at dinners and on the phone. And I said, no, no, no. When we were discussing me coming back, I said it on the phone and I said at a dinner, eyeball to eyeball. "This will not happen. We will not talk -- you will not have the saucy talk anymore." And he said, "Right, right. I'd be your employer. That would never happen, of course, not."
So I took that as, you know, I took that as a promise. I took that as a boundary that was explicit, not implicit. And he immediately within three and a half weeks bulldozed that boundary. He didn't just over stop it and he continued that. He did it the night before he spoke to the first lady. He did it a night during the Republican convention. And he did the night before he spoke to President Bush.
COOPER: Each time you're saying on the telephone him calling you up?
COOPER: Did you-- I mean, were these prearranged phone calls?
COOPER: Were these --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me are CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Attorney Lisa Bloom who represents some of O'Reilly's more recent accusers. So, Lisa, first how are your clients reacting to today's news?
[21:30:02]Are they satisfied that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to Fox?
LISA BLOOM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, THE BLOOM FIRM: This is a day of victory for us. I told them weeks ago that if you come out and you speak your truth he is going to be gone. He's going be fired. They didn't believe me. And I said, "We are not going to give up. We are going to keep this story in all of the headlines. We are going to give the evidence and the witnesses that we have collected." My law firm has been working on this for a long time, to the Fox News attorneys. We're going to call it in to the hotline.
We did all of that and we brought him down. I knew this was going to happen. My clients didn't believe me, but they're pretty happy today.
COOPER: Lisa, last night you said that there are other people out there, you believe there are other people out there. I understand you actually now say you have a third person that's called the hotline today?
BLOOM: Yes. I have that hotline on my speed dial and today my third accuser client, Caroline Heldman, called in with me and reported her claim of sex discrimination and retaliation against Bill O'Reilly. Of course, we didn't know that today was going to be the day that he would be terminated so we were just intending to keep the pressure on. And she made the decision to come out with her name and tell her story and she did that.
COOPER: Is she somebody who is new whose come forward or is --
COOPER: Yes. And what is she alleging happened?
BLOOM: So she was a frequent unpaid contributor on Mr. O'Reilly's show from back 2008 to 2011. There she is, and she's feisty and she would get into debates with him as people do on cable news. At one point in one of the pre-taped interviews, he accused her of being hysterical.
She said to him she thought that was a sexist comment to call a woman hysterical. He said he didn't think so and she said, "You have to understand the gender origins of that term." She's a professor after all, so she explained it to him. Well, that part of the segment was cut and she never appeared on the show again. She was completely frozen out.
And, you know, that's consistent with Dr. Wendy Walsh's claim that essentially once somebody really rebuffs O'Reilly or stands up to O'Reilly, that's it. It's over for them. They're retaliated against.
COOPER: So this isn't a claim of sexual harassment? This is a claim just of --
BLOOM: Gender discrimination and retaliation.
COOPER: OK. Jeff, you know, Bill O'Reilly is gone. It doesn't mean that the women who have already come forward or others can't still sue Fox News, correct?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it depends on -- mostly it seems on the statute of limitations. You know, the statute of limitations bars older claims and the precise years vary depending on what you are alleging, but usually it's in the range of five years and many of these go back well beyond five years.
But, you can be sure that one of the issues that was dealt with in the severance between Bill O'Reilly and Fox News was that Fox News would continue to indemnify, that is continue to pay any further damage judgments that might come down the pipe.
COOPER: Lisa, I mean, you said that -- I think, at least two of your clients are not looking for damages. Is that change? I mean, has anything on that changed now that Fox has decided to get rid of Bill O'Reilly?
BLOOM: None of my clients are seeking a penny. All of the work that I have done on this case has been at no charge to them. Listen, I knew Andrea Mackris back in 2004 and I know that it was alleged that she had tapes of Mr. O'Reilly calling her while he was masturbating. Another one of his accusers similarly has tapes like that according to "The New York Times." I mean, this is a disgusting human being.
And, Anderson, these women not only stood up for their rights not to be sexually harassed by their boss, but they were then driven out of Fox News and driven out of the television industry entirely. None of them are currently working in the television industry. And that's what really gets me. This is about women's rights to keep our jobs, not to be propositioned by our bosses, not to have the threat of a job hanging over us in that situation.
TOOBIN: Anderson, if I could just make one point about that. You know, the Andrea Mackris case was 2004, you know, from your interview. If Fox News had done the right thing then, which was fire him, how many women would not have been sexually harassed in the subsequent decade and decade plus?
I mean, it's not just that they didn't fire him. They effectively sentenced other women to suffer this kind of discrimination because O'Reilly knew Fox would write a check, it would go away, and he could continue doing it. And that I think is -- you know, before anyone gives Fox any credit for finally firing Bill O'Reilly, they ought to remember all the women who suffered because they didn't fire him when they already knew how he behaved.
COOPER: Lisa, what message do you think today sends? I mean, not only to your clients, but just in general?
BLOOM: Yeah. I spent a lot of the last couple of weeks behind the scenes talking to women like my anonymous client who is a clerical worker who was absolutely terrified to come out. Ultimately, she did but I held her hand. She cried on my shoulder. There were a lot of hugs. I told her we would protect her as best as we could.
[21:35:02] I mean, you cannot imagine the fear of somebody like that going up against Bill O'Reilly.
The message this sends to women is, be bold, be brave, stand up for your rights. We can do this. Get another strong woman to stand with you. Do not allow people to trample on your rights.
It's so important to report sexual harassment. I can tell you that my anonymous accuser from yesterday is now texting me, "I wish I had done this years ago." And I wish that women would do that. I think it's terribly important.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Lisa Bloom, thank you.
BLOOM: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, you know, ties between Trump associates and Russia are the focus of multiple investigations. I'll talk to the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee about the latest on this probe.
COOPER: As the Trump presidency nears day 100, its ties to Russia remain the focus of multiple investigations. As we reported last night, CNN has learned that the FBI used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification to get approval to secretly monitor Trump associate, Carter Page. That's according to officials briefed on the probe.
FBI Director James Comey has also cited the dossier in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks as one of the sources of information the bureau has used to bolster its investigation.
[21:40:08] Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting on this joint (ph) investigation which has made plenty of headlines already. Congressman Schiff, appreciate you being with us.
You probably can't comment on it, but I just have to ask. The reporting that we have that the FBI relied in part on the dossier to secure a FISA warrant and that Director Comey cited the dossier in some of the briefings with Congress, can you confirm any of that?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTE: No. Anderson, you're right at the outset, I can't comment on this. I can tell you in terms of an update on our investigation that, you know, on a very positive note I think the new Republican lead, Mike Conaway, is very serious about undertaking a thorough and a non- partisan investigation.
We've had a number of good conversations since he took over. I think we're very close to agreement on our initial witness list and the process going forward. So, happily, I think the House investigation is very much back on track.
COOPER: Can you say at this point -- talking about your witness list, you know, Republicans have been working on putting that together, obviously, Democrats as well. Can you -- have you finalized the list yet and can you tell us who's currently on it?
SCHIFF: You know, we certainly haven't finalized, you know, the length and breadth of the witnesses we're going to want to hear from. But they fall, you know, roughly into three categories. You have the analyst that produced the raw intelligence or the raw analysis of the intelligence that went into the unclassified assessment that the public read about the Russian interference in our election. We want to make sure that the conclusions that the analysts reach are supported by that raw data.
We also have witnesses that we would consider percipient witnesses that, you know, would testify about different issues in terms of what the Russians did with the DNC or whether there was any coordination with U.S. persons. We have agency heads and others as other kind of witnesses.
And, obviously, we need to sequence this so we get the documents from people first we interview, certain witnesses that will lead us to other witnesses. But in terms of the first tranche (ph) of witnesses, I think we're largely in agreement on those. And we're also, I think largely in agreement on the logistics of getting the information we need prior to their testimony.
COOPER: In the open hearing that you had the first hearing where Director Comey testified obviously, there clearly was a division between kind of the focus the Republicans on your committee who are focus on leaks, which is obviously something the Trump White House wants and Democrats in your focus. In the witness list, are you still seeing those kinds of divisions? Are the people, the Republicans want a witness list focus on leaks and Democrats on Russia's involvement?
SCHIFF: You know, I think that we all want to hear from the witnesses that both sides are selecting and I don't want to go into characterizing who is on what list. The most important point is I think that we're in agreement at least on the initial witnesses that we want to bring in. You certainly saw a different focus in that first open hearing.
One of the things that I said at the outset, the reason that we chose to focus in the first hearing on that issue of collusion or coordination is it's among the least understood, at least at that point by the public.
Now, we didn't know that during the course of that hearing that Director Comey was going to disclosed, that the FBI was doing its own investigation. But I thought it was important that the public understand why we were concerned about the issue.
Obviously, a lot of my Republican colleagues thought it was important for the public to understand why they were concerned about the issue of leaks. But I think it's safe to say that we want to cover all of this ground.
We want to cover whether the intelligence community got their assessment right. We want to cover how the U.S. government responded to this. What accounted for, what certainly looks like a very lethargic reaction. The issue of collusion, the issue of leaks, all of these things we intend to explore.
COOPER: All right. Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time tonight thinking the work you're doing.
SCHIFF: You bet. Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead, an exclusive interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the surgeon, the former senator who is a key player in the battle to replace Obamacare. Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked him what he thought when his boss said this about health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Now I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:48:11] COOPER: Day 100 of the Trump presidency is 10 days away and the White House is sending signals that it may take one more swing at replacing Obamacare when Congress gets back from recess. Vice President Pence traveling in Asia talks about it with Dana Bash in an exclusive interview aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The president said that the administration is going to have a big win soon on health care. And that you have been working it, even though you're thousands of miles away to try to take health care reform, Obamacare repeal over the finish line. How is it going?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATERS: Well, President Trump made it clear that the first priority of this Congress should be to repeal and replace Obamacare. And while it was clear that a little more than a month ago Congress wasn't quite ready to do it. We've never relented in our commitment to keep that promise to the American people.
I'm very confident that in the days ahead we're going to see the Congress come together and we're going to take that important first step to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of health care reform that President Trump has envisioned. We're very encouraged at the discussions that are taking place among members of Congress and the president remains personally and directly engaged in these discussions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mr. Pence did not say how many votes they've actually locked down. Last month, as you know, the House health care bill was pulled just before a final vote for lack of support. (Inaudible) was quite a contrast the promises candidate Trump made on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Real change begins immediately with the repealing and replacing of the disaster known as Obamacare.
We get rid of Obamacare. It's going to be gone. It's going to be terminated.
Obamacare is a disaster.
Repeal it and replace it
Repeal and replace.
Repeal and replace Obamacare. We're going to repeal it. We're going to replace it. We're going to get something great. Repeal it, replace it, get something great.
[21:50:08] We're going to repeal and replace the horror that's known as Obamacare. It is a horror.
I will repeal and replace Obamacare which is a catastrophe.
We're going to kill it. Let it die. Let it die. And we're going to come up with something much, much better.
You're going to have such great health care and at a tiny fraction of the cost and it's going to be so easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Not so easy, obviously, as it turns out. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a surgeon and a former congressman and has had a key role in the efforts to replace Obamacare, our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked to him in an exclusive interview.
TRUMP: Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I just have to know, what did you think when you heard that. This is the President of the United States, it's the biggest domestic policy and issue that he wants to get it done in the first 100 days. Who knew it could be so complicated?
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This is challenging stuff, there's no doubt about it.
GUPTA (on camera): He also says that we're going to have insurance for everyone. He was even asked, "Is that mean universal health care?" And when asked who's going to pay, he said the government is going to pay. But you can't strip away nearly a trillion dollars and say the government is still providing health care. It just defies common sense. PRICE: Well, it does defy common sense. The fact of the matter is we have a Medicaid system right now where one out of every three physicians in this nation who ought to be seeing Medicaid patients has said no.
GUPTA (voice-over): Of course, that means two out of three doctors still do see Medicaid patients and Secretary Price was one of those doctors. Grady Memorial Hospital is where Dr. Price trained as an orthopedic surgeon and where I perform operations every week.
PRICE: It brings back some memories.
GUPTA (voice-over): Grady takes care of the neediest patients in the city who represents some of the 24 million of the Congressional Budget Office projects would lose their insurance under the Republican-led bill. Numbers Tom Price disagrees with.
(on camera): You know, one in three people roughly are gone through those doors (inaudible) and then have Medicaid. And they're the ones who are most worried. You know, what gives? What's going to happen to those patients?
PRICE: Yeah. I would ask them what gives with the current system. What gives with the current system?
GUPTA (on camera): Well, there's more people insured than before.
PRICE: The concerns that they express about what's coming are appropriate and understandable because it's new. It's something different.
GUPTA (on camera): You've been at this for a long time as a doctor, but also releasing your own version of the plan. There were differences in what you talk about in terms of empowering patients versus the American health care act. Did you fundamentally agree with that bill?
PRICE: I believe firmly that the bill that has been discussed and that was put before Congress is a significantly better program than the one that we currently have.
GUPTA (on camera): Why would you just settle for significantly better? Didn't you want the best possible bill after seven years of saying you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare?
PRICE: The process that we have is not what Secretary Price thinks ought to be, the legislation. It's what 535 individuals in the Congress, the United States and the president believes is the most appropriate thing and the best thing moving forward.
GUPTA (on camera): At some point, you transition from --
(voice-over): One of the more contentious parts of the health debate revolves around the sales of insurance plans that lacked essential health benefits, skinny plans. (on camera): As a doctor, even more than as a former congressman or secretary, what do you think of those so-called skinny plans? Some of the skinny plans don't offer inpatient care for example. I just find it extraordinary.
If you're a young person and you're, you know, immortal in your own mind but suddenly you're diagnosed with a disease or you get in some sort of traumatic accident, you're going to need inpatient care. You bought the skinny plan, you don't have that covered. Isn't that the nature of insurance Mr. Secretary? You don't know what you're going to need until you need it.
PRICE: And you got 20 million people in this country who have said nonsense. I'm not going to be forced to do what you want me to do because I don't believe it's necessary.
GUPTA (on camera): Those people get in an accident, though. You and I, and everyone else in this room will pick up the bill.
PRICE: That's exactly right. So shouldn't we devise a system that actually allows them to purchase the kind of coverage that they want and then have a system that make certain that nobody falls through the cracks?
GUPTA (on camera): I don't know what that means.
PRICE: What if they don't have coverage now, Sanjay?
GUPTA (on camera): What I'm saying is an effort to get those people covered. What you may offer are plans that are cheap, but useless. That's the concern. And people would go to the hospital and find out they didn't have things covered. And it was part of the reason people say that health care costs is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
PRICE: So wouldn't we as a compassionate society step back and say, "OK, that's a real problem and we need to address it." That's what we're trying to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a Plan B like --
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, there is no plan -- I mean, this is -- there's Plan A and Plan A. We're going to get this done.
PRICE: There's always a Plan B. You just need to make sure that you're not only have a Plan B, but you got a Plan C and then D and then E and then F as well, because you've got to be able to pivot.
GUPTA (on camera): Do you believe everyone should have health care insurance?
(END VIDEOTAPE) [21:55:01] COOPER: Sanjay, he seemed unwilling or unable to answer your very fair question which is we're all going to end up paying for somebody who doesn't want to get insurance.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I think that that sort of one of the big stumbling blocks of this last bill was essential health benefits. If you don't have a health plan that actually covers the things that you need, you go up to the hospital, you're still going to get care, the difference is, is that the cost is going to be transmitted to everybody and I think it's a very basic question.
And I don't know how he or that bill more specifically will plan on dealing with that. You can buy a health care plan. Yeah, it's cheap, but if it's not doing what you hope that it would do, those costs are going to get defrayed onto everyone else.
COOPER: We said on the way and to your piece that the White House is indicating they're going to take another shot at health care very soon. After talking with the secretary, do you get a sense what that take two actually might look like?
GUPTA: Well, I think there's a few things. First of all, this idea that they could take away some of these essential health benefits, it's something that people should really understand because you have a certain guarantee of what your health plan covers now that may not exist and that's something that's within his purview as HHS secretary.
Also, rolling back the mandates so that people would not have this mandate to buy health care insurance, that's something he's very much against. So, you know, they say if this bill in many ways was being attacked from the left and the right.
Based on my conversation with Secretary Price where they're pivoting I think is seems more to the right, not to the left, in order to try and get something else done. But he absolutely said this was just the beginning of the phase. He thinks they're going to get it done. He thinks that this is still within that phase and that could happen within the next, you know, short period of time.
COOPER: All right, we'll be watching. Sanjay, thanks very much. And we'll be right back.