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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Report: Trump Team Warned Flynn About Russia Contact; Mark Green Withdraws as Army Secretary Nominee; Massive Hack Against French Candidate Emmanuel Macron; Trump: Health Care Bill Could "Change a Little Bit" in Senate. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 5, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us, in what is a very busy Friday night.
We begin with breaking news in the Russia-White House watch. A new report that senior members of President Trump's transition team warned former national security adviser Michael Flynn about the risks of his contacts with Russia's ambassador. This is reporting from the "Washington Post."
Reporter Adam Entous joins us now with details.
So, Adam, explain what you've learned. That the Trump transition team, that -- who was it who warned Flynn, and what did they warn him act exactly?
ADAM ENTOUS, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Basically, this is soon after the election. You know, there's what's referred to as landing teams, which are being set up for different government agencies by the Trump campaign. It's now the transition.
And so, you had the head of the landing team for the National Security Council. He basically, you know, learns that Flynn is planning to have a conversation with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and he is concerned and wants to basically provide him with information. He wants him to know that his conversation with Kislyak would probably be intercepted by, you know, the FBI here in the U.S., which is monitoring ambassadors like Kislyak and other ambassadors, and overseas when Kislyak finishes his conversation with a U.S. official, he'll also send a report to Moscow. And the NSA might pick that up. So, he wanted Flynn to be aware.
COOPER: And he was so concerned and according to your reporting, as far as I understand, was concerned that Flynn didn't quite understand the role Kislyak plays, that they actually drew up, or requested intelligence documents, kind of a profile of Kislyak?
ENTOUS: Yes. So, the CIA draws up profiles of ambassadors, leaders around the world, which they provide to policymakers, senior policymakers. So, when they go and have meetings with those people, the American has an idea of what they're getting into. This is a document that's prepared and it's updated regularly. So,
what happened in this case is the transition official approached the Obama administration officials who were interacting with the transition team in the Situation Room in the White House, and at the end of one of their meetings about the transition, this Trump transition official asked for basically the CIA's bio of Kislyak in order to basically provide that to Flynn, so he had a sense of who he was dealing with, and again, to kind of put him on notice that, you know, there is a chance, a good possibility, if he talks to him on an open line, it's going to get sucked up.
COOPER: Is it clear where the idea of Flynn talking to the Russian ambassador came from, whether that was self-generated by Flynn, or did it come from somebody else, the president, or is that not known?
ENTOUS: Yes. So, we know that the relationship between Flynn and Kislyak from previous reporting goes back a few years. They were in contact with each other during the campaign. And then after the transition, and this, particularly, you can imagine, after Flynn is anointed to be the national security adviser, Kislyak and, frankly, any ambassador in Washington who is worth his or her salt, is going to be trying to get to know the new national security adviser.
So, Kislyak is obviously pushing for contact with Flynn. Unlike a lot of other ambassadors in Washington, who were struggling to make those connections with the incoming Trump team, you actually had a very receptive Trump team when it came to the Russians. And so, you know, if you talk to other European ambassadors around town, around that time, they felt like they were getting neglected, whereas, normally, during a transition, they're the ones who get most of the face time.
Whereas in this case, you had the Russian ambassador who was getting repeated phone calls and meetings with members of the Trump team.
COOPER: Fascinating reporting. Adam Entous, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
COOPER: CNN has also learned tonight that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked several Trump campaign associates to turn over records of their communications with Russian officials.
Jim Sciutto joins us now with the latest -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've now asked several people involved with these communications, including Michael Flynn, but also Carter Page, Roger Stone, Roger -- Manafort, who was for a time chairman of the Trump campaign.
But what's interesting here is Carter Page very boldly, even colorfully, you might say, refusing this request from the Senate committee, giving a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which I might add is chaired by Senator Richard Burr, saying that "I suspect the physical reaction of the Clinton/Obama regime perpetrators will be more along the lines of severe vomiting when all the facts are eventually exposed regarding the steps taken by the U.S. government to influence the 2016 election."
So, you see Carter Page trying to turn the investigation on its head, because, of course, what the Senate Intelligence Committee, as others are investigating, is Russian interference in the U.S. election. He is alleging there that actually the Obama regime, as he calls it, was monitoring him, surveilling him, which I might not, Anderson, is not far off what the president has charged at times, that the Obama administration was surveilling President Trump, as well, during the campaign.
[20:05:10] COOPER: Right. Carter Page as far, he says -- he's saying that they've committed the worst hate crimes against nobody since the FBI investigated Martin Luther King, and that they went after him because he was a man and because he was Catholic.
COOPER: But the Senate Intelligence Committee could subpoena records from Carter Page or others if necessary, right?
SCIUTTO: They can't. We were told, after Carter made this refusal to the Senate committee, which is prepared to use subpoena powers, we don't know responses yet from Manafort, Flynn and Stone, who also are subject of this investigation. Keep in mind, previous CNN reporting is that several members of the Trump Team were in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to U.S. intelligence during the campaign, including people like Page, Manafort and others.
This is the subject of an FBI investigation, as well as the Senate and House Intelligence Committee. So, this is something very much of interest here.
I might also add that it is our reporting that U.S. intelligence has evidence of communications and meetings between these Trump advisers and Russians during the campaign. So, you have the Senate Intelligence Committee saying, "Tell us what your communications were, what your meetings were." And if they lie or don't provide, keep in mind, the U.S. intelligence community, it is believed, has evidence of those communications, as well.
COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Joining me now is Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, both from "The New York Times", who've done reporting on this as well, and CNN commentator Jason Miller, who was formally with the Trump campaign.
Maggie, first of all, what do you make of this reporting by "The Washington Post" that General Flynn was warned about contact with the Russian ambassador?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think it is another drip, drip on the idea that Flynn had reasons to be more careful than he was. That we have seen him have contacts where he said one thing, ended up having to backtrack. That's what he basically got fired for, in terms of not being candid with the vice president, about what those conversations were.
We don't know whether he actually read this intelligence report or not. But it is, again, another question of why he was incautious in this setting. And I do think that it is interesting -- look, I don't know where the reporting is coming from, but I think it is potentially another example of the Trump team trying to sort of isolate him and distance themselves from him, as well.
And they have been uncertain of how much to do that. I think you saw the president very openly praise Flynn and say, oh, this is a witch hunt. But I think that there are a number of people within the White House that are concerned about what can come out with Michael Flynn.
COOPER: Matt, it is hard to imagine, Flynn, who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, would need a heads up on who the Russian ambassador is and what he is capable of and what role he plays with Russian intelligence. I mean, the fact -- how damning, Matt, do you think it is, that he was warned by Trump transition senior officials but still had contact with this guy?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: I think the one thing we all have to understand about Mike Flynn, he made his career by breaking rules, by kind of bucking the norms and bureaucracy of the military. He would share intel with the Pakistanis when he wasn't supposed to.
So, this kind of behavior isn't out of the character for someone who says, hey, you know, maybe chill out there. And he just says, you know what, I can do this. I'm going to get this done right. I'm going to get it done my way. I think that's what always made Flynn such an unusual choice and a perilous choice for the administration, because they were bringing on somebody who made his career out of being a wild card.
It failed him at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Then they were going to make him national security adviser. He wasn't going to change.
COOPER: Jason, do you have any knowledge of this apparent warning to General Flynn, and either way, what does it mean to you?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SR. COMMUNCATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, not of this particular briefing or whatever the report was that General Flynn was given.
But I think there are a couple of very important points to make here, Anderson. The first is that briefings like this are pro forma when you have a senior administration official, whether it'd be in the transition or now in the White House, I'm sure they receive similar briefings with the Palestinian president when he was here earlier this week.
I think -- what we don't know is the exact request and how that came down, and what we also don't know is if General Flynn even requested for this briefing to be given or if this is Mr. Billingsley (ph) was trying to demonstrate value. The fact that General Flynn was given the heads up to watch what he says to the Russian ambassador is a captain obvious point.
COOPER: Right. It seems the reporting -- again, this is "Washington Post" reporting, is the idea that, you know, someone in the transition, the -- Billingsley (ph) was concerned about Flynn talking with the Russian ambassador, concerned about his attitude toward it and that's why he requested it. It wasn't just a pro forma, oh, you're going to be talking on the phone to Mahmoud Abbas. Here's a resume of Mahmoud Abbas.
MILLER: Right. And so, this gets us to the broader problem with all of these stories. Again, I said this a number of times before but you can tell when President Trump is having a good week, when another one of these anonymous stories comes out, bringing up the Russia issue in some way, shape or form.
[20:10:02] Again, this is the story that's pushed by former Obama White House people, going to the "Washington Post" to try to get this story out. Again, there is nothing untoward or illegal or wrong that's been presented today. It's just the fact that there was a brief that was given and again --
COOPER: Although we don't know the sourcing. We don't know it was Obama people. It could be Trump transition people.
MILLER: Well, we do know that seven Obama White House folks were interviewed as part of the story. That's what they say in the "Washington Post" story. And so, clearly, it's not Trump folks who are putting it forward.
But again, it's this overall effort of the anonymous sources and leaking to go a try to smear the president and go and try to tear him down. Again, I guess the question I would put back is, what from the story was either illegal or unethical or wrong or breaking protocol? And there wasn't anything in there.
COOPER: Maggie, to the point, doesn't sound like there was anything illegal, wrong or breaking protocol. Does it --
HABERMAN: That we know of.
COOPER: Does it -- I mean, you can also make the argument that this actually gives some -- the Trump transition team some cover of, you know, here is this guy who was maybe a loose cannon and, you know, there were people on the transition concerned about him.
HABERMAN: I agree. And as I said before, I think you are seeing some people around the president trying to sort of cauterize the wound that is Michael Flynn at this point. But I do think Jason is correct that we have no reason to believe that there was anything illegal done. That there was anything inappropriate done. We don't know of that.
And I think there is the problem with this investigation so far, and we've, you know -- Matt and I have done reporting on this, too. But so far, there has not been any concrete evidence pointing to any actual wrongdoing.
HABERMAN: But that is what investigations are for. They go on for a while. So, we'll see.
COOPER: And, Matt, based on your reporting, I mean, is it clear whether Flynn was just taking it upon himself to develop a relationship or have contacts with the Russian ambassador, or if it came from some other place?
ROSENBERG: I mean, it is unclear where it came from. It wasn't entirely upon himself though, because we know in early December, both him and Jared Kushner met with Mr. Kislyak in Trump Tower. So, I mean, we know Kushner knows. And then Jared met with the Russian banker. Flynn kept talking.
This -- I find it unlikely that nobody else knew about any of this. But, clearly, from "The Post," we see that there were real concerns, that there was something unusual here. There was a predisposition to an adversary or to a rival and to tie up with that ambassador that people found unusual.
COOPER: All right. Thanks, everybody.
Just ahead, more breaking news. Another Trump cabinet nominee has withdrawn his name under a cloud of controversy, raising questions about who is doing the vetting.
Also ahead, Delta is apologizing for the latest airline mess. This time, booting a young family with two young kids off a fight over a seating mixed up. Is it just us or are the airlines just getting worst?
CNN's Richard Quest says it's just us actually. He's defending the airlines. We'll be right back.
[20:15:58] COOPER: There's more breaking news. President Trump's effort to fill his cabinet has hit another speed bump. His nominee for army secretary, Mark Green, a state senator in Tennessee, has withdrawn his name over controversial comments he's made and the outrage they've sparked.
This is strike two in filling the army secretary slot and it's raising questions about who is vetting potential nominees.
Jessica Schneider has details.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mark Green is a victim of his own words.
MARK GREEN, TENNESSEE STATE SENATOR: You poll the psychiatrists and they're going to tell you that transgender is a disease. SCHNEIDER: Green has also made critical comments about Muslims and is
a self-identified creationist who once delivered a speech arguing against the Theory of Evolution. Now, the West Point grad, who is President Trump's second choice for army secretary, is taking his name out of consideration. The first pick withdrew citing financial entanglements.
Green is just the latest problematic pick for President Trump, drawing doubts about the administration's vetting process.
Questions are also now being raised about 28-year-old Steven Munoz. He was hired for a top job in the office of protocol at the State Department on January 25th. But police records first reported by "ProPublica" and obtained by CNN show multiple people accused Munoz of sexual assault while he was a student at Citadel Military College. The alleged victims came forward to college officials and police between 2010 and 2012.
Munoz was never charged with a crime, but an investigation by the Citadel revealed that "based upon a preponderance of evidence, the college concluded that certain assaults likely occurred." Munoz's lawyer maintains, "The allegations were unfounded, it was a total overreaction by the Citadel to even investigate and ultimately no charges or lawsuits were brought against him."
The State Department is standing by Munoz and its vetting procedure. A simple search would have revealed the allegations. The White House and State Department did not comment on whether they considered or knew about the allegations.
Perhaps the most serious case of questionable vetting -- the appointment and subsequent resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The retired general accepted $45,000 in speaking fees from Russian state TV in 2015, despite being warned by the Pentagon not to accept money from foreign governments. And Flynn initially failed to register as a foreign agent for work he did for a Turkish-owned company.
President Trump deflected responsibility, pinning Flynn's approval on former President Obama.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level. And when they say we didn't vet -- well, Obama, I guess, didn't vet, because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration.
COOPER: Jessica, ultimately, who is responsible for the vetting process inside the Trump administration?
SCHNEIDER: Well, Anderson, typically, the Office of Presidential Personnel takes the lead on vetting all those potential nominees. They get significant input from the White House counsel's office. But we do know President Trump runs things a bit differently. When it comes to the vetting process, we know he often gets input from many different sources -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider -- Jessica, thanks.
More breaking news tonight. A bit of election deja vu. A massive hacking operation targeted against one candidate is happening again, only this time it's in France and days before the final election.
Jim Sciutto is back with the latest -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Anderson, it sounds very familiar because it is familiar. Emmanuel Macron, the front runner in the French election, now confirming what his team is calling a massive coordinated hacking operation to undermine democracy. Nine gigabytes of e-mails, photos that were stolen from the Macron campaign, dating up to April 24th of this year, so just about a week ago, released with fewer than 36 hours to go before French voters go to the polls to choose their president.
Macron has had a big lead in the race, 20 points, but the timing of this seems very familiar. It's not certain who is behind this hack yet. It takes some time, typically, to determine that with certainty, but I will tell you this, Anderson, U.S. intelligence officials have been saying to me that Russia emboldened by its success, some might say, in terms of hacking into the U.S. election and the Democratic Party, et cetera, was emboldened by that.
[20:20:08] It was expected, in fact, to target French and German elections happening this year. And this kind of thing, stealing e- mails, releasing them right before people go to the polls, fits that pattern.
Again, not certain it is Russia, but this is the kind of thing warned about not just from European intelligence but U.S. intelligence, as well. And the timing really extremely interesting and somewhat alarming here.
COOPER: Yes. We should also point out, you know, it's down to two candidates in France. Marine Le Pen is the other one from the National Front Party. Not only has she met with Vladimir Putin and taken a loan out from the Russian bank. She said it was the only bank that would loan her, but she also has a pro-Russia stance and also more or less against the European Union and even the idea of perhaps even coming out of the European Union.
SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And the Macron campaign, even before tonight, said they've been the target of hacks they believe are coming from Russia. So, all those things fit a pattern here. There's not a deficit conclusion yet. Remember, it took U.S. intelligence a number of weeks to determine it was Russia behind the hacks targeting the Democratic Party, but it certainly fits an alarming pattern.
COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto -- Jim, thanks very much.
Coming up, as the health care bill moves to the Senate, there are questions whether it'll pass or even be recognizable once the senators are through with it. The word from Capitol Hill is senators will write their own version. What the White House is saying about that, next.
[20:25:21] COOPER: As the Republican health care bill heads to the Senate, the backlash is starting for House members who voted to pass it. At a town hall in Idaho just tonight, Republican Congressman Raul Labrador faced tough questions from his constituents and made a bold statement of his own. It got a big reaction. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- people on Medicaid accepts dying.
REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO: No one wants anybody to die. You know, that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said nobody dies because they don't have access to health care.
As for the latest reaction from the White House, President Trump isn't there for the 14th week in a row. He's at a Trump-branded property. This one a Trump golf course in New Jersey.
Jim Acosta joins us now.
Is the White House ready for this kind of angry responses? The president took a victory lap yesterday but there are many out there who are obviously angry over this new bill.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they are not ready for these angry responses, and I think we're going to see more of that over the coming months. This is exactly what happened in the reverse to the Democrats back in 2009, when President Obama was trying to get Obamacare passed. There were angry town halls and people were accusing the Democrats of trying to pull the plug on grandma. You'll recall that.
And so, when you hear Raul Labrador say that people haven't died from a lack of access to health care, that's just not the case. Anderson, this bill is likely to undergo a major overhaul in the Senate. There are conservative Republican senators saying they're going to rewrite this bill. There are moderates with big concerns on the Republican side.
They don't like the fact the House bill weakens those protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and they don't like, in places like Ohio, scaling back Medicaid. That is going to be a big problem for people like Senator Rob Portman in Ohio. So, this is going to undergo an overhaul before it is all said and done.
COOPER: An overhaul, and yet, the president saying the health care bill could change a little bit. I mean, that seems like a huge understatement. ACOSTA: It's a massive understatement, Anderson. But, you know,
white House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about this earlier today. They're all but conceding at this point that this bill is going to undergo changes in the Senate.
They're saying that the main pillars of the House bill are going to remain. At the same time, there are just too many Republican senators on -- from the moderate side of the Republican Party who are just uncomfortable with that House bill. They don't like the fact that it hasn't been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Anderson, that is the next big headline to drop on this health care story. When that Congressional Budget Office score comes out, if it shows tens of millions of people potentially loses health insurance because of this bill, you're going to see the panic that you saw unleashed at the town halls earlier this year when the Republicans failed to get this passed before.
COOPER: And President Trump, you know, he told Australia's prime minister last night they have a better health care system than the U.S. Is the president standing by those claims?
ACOSTA: Not exactly. I think perhaps somebody informed the president that in Australia, they have universal health care, in a system that is run by the government. That's why the president tweeted this evening something very different. He said, "Of course, the Australians have better health care than we do. Everybody does. Obamacare is dead but our health care will soon be great."
That seems to be the talking point they're going to go back to time and again, whether it is the president, the White House, top Republicans on Capitol Hill, they're going to paint this picture that Obamacare is dying. It's not worth saving anymore. And that's why Trump care has to come to the rescue.
But we should point out, Anderson, you know, this is something that is far from being a done deal for the Republicans. This is going to undergo a pretty laborious and perhaps excruciating process in the Senate. No telling when it's going to be done, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Groups including the American Medical Association, the AARP and American Cancer Society are slamming the House health bill. Many expressing concern that people with pre-existing conditions could face premiums that are out of control. Other critics say it disproportionately affects women, particularly low income women. The president of Planned Parenthood says it is the worst bill in a generation.
Sunlen Serfaty has more.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beyond the politics of the Washington beltway, the House passed bill has some serious implications for the 117 million Americans living with pre- existing conditions, especially women.
Critics charging the bill in its current form would hit women especially hard. For example, women who are pregnant, have had a previous C-section, have irregular periods, have breast cancer, and endometriosis among others, could all be slapped with the pre-existing condition label, opening up the door for insurers to potentially deem them uninsurable, deny them coverage or charge them higher premiums, by pushing them into high risk pools where the policy may not be as affordable.
GRETCHEN BORCHELT, NATIONAL WOMEN'S LAW CENTER: This House bill would be devastating for women. Women would be in the same situation where they're denied coverage because of situations that are unique to them and that's discrimination.
SERFATY: The bill doesn't explicitly define what a pre-existing condition is. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says a pre-existing condition is a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts. That puts the power in the hands of insurance companies to decide with nearly any illness or medical condition on the table able to be considered pre-existing, including potentially domestic abuse or rape if it's a survive was seeking mental health help.
SOFIE KARASEK, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, END RAPE ON CAMPUS: Frankly the most concerning part about this is that it sends a message to survivors that, you know, you're going to be punished for this and effectively establishes a premium on experiencing rape or sexual assault.
SERFATY: Forty-five states have previously pass laws that prohibit insurers from classifying domestic abuse and rape as pre-existing conditions but this has raised some alarm on Capitol Hill.
SEN. BOB CASEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Will you commit to maintaining the protections that ensure that victims of domestic violence will not be discriminated against when purchasing health insurance.
TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: I think it's absolutely vital that victims of -- domestic violence and others, anybody, we need a system in place that ensures that individuals are either not priced out of the market --
SERFATY: And set off social media with the hashtag, IAmAPreexistingCondition. The fine principle (ph) of this comes down to what state a woman lives in. The new House passed bill give seeks the option to opt out of an Obamacare provision which ban insurers from charging enrollees more based on their medical history. In states that decide to do so, insurers could charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions who let their coverage lapse. But without knowing how many states would actually seek that path and how all of this would actually work yet, means many people with pre- existing conditions, especially women for now are left in limbo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And, Sunlen, what is the House bill mean for Planned Parenthood?
SERFATY: Well there's actually a provision, Anderson, in the House passed bill that would block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year. This of course is a big promise from candidate Trump and also many other Republicans, they have promised to defund Planned Parenthood at every chance they can get.
And as this bill now move over to the Senate, this could turn into something that's a major sticking point as no doubt that process will yield significant changes to this bill, a sticking point among a very small but a very important influential group of Senate Republicans may take issue with this, for instance, Senator Markowsky, for example, she has already said that she will not vote for any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, so likely part of a battle on this side of Capitol Hill ahead.
COOPER: All right, Sunlen, thanks. We'll talk more about this after the quick break, including this image of the people celebrating the health care bill that critics say will be disastrous for women's health. We notice what most of the people have in common. They -- the Senate group that's tackling the issue next, they are all men as well.
[20:37:25] COOPER: Welcome back. As we have reported, critics of the House health care bill say it's -- has big pitfalls for people with pre-existing conditions, especially women who could find themselves caught in a Byzantine system that's allowed to consider everything from pregnancy, to rape, to domestic violence a pre-existing condition.
That makes the picture of the people celebrating the bill's passage even more interesting. If you scan the crowd, you only find a few women there. I think before the break I said there weren't any. There are a few women there. It's pretty much a sea of white men.
As we know, the fight isn't over. The bill now goes to the Senate of course, likely be a lot of changes there. But let's take a look the group of the 13 senators who will work on building the Senate's version of the bill, no women in that group. GOP aide to one of these Republican senators say they have no interest in playing identity politics and that reducing it to gender misses the point.
Joining me now is April Ryan, Kayleigh McEnany and Christine Quinn.
Kayleigh, is it a problem that this group, this working group is 13 men?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Look, I think it would be nice to include Senator Susan Collins, who has co-authored a bill of her own cosponsor rather. I think it would be nice to have her voice there. I also know that in the ultimate passage of the bill, you are going to have several Republican senators having a voice -- female Republican senators in order to pass this. You will have to have female senators on board so that the female voice will be in there. But I think from the get-go, they should have put someone like Susan Collins among the 13 senators.
CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NYC CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: And, you know, forget the incredibly offensive and sexist nature of not having a woman on the panel. Let's forget that for a second.
When you're a legislature, you're passing legislation that, God willing, is solutions to problems that people are having. And you should have informed people who know what they speak of drafting and working on the legislation. It's why if you don't have any of these people in the legislature, you go find experts. They have women in the legislature. And if you're going to pass legislation that in essence makes being a woman a pre-existing condition, having children, potentially being a rape survivor, why wouldn't you want have people who actually have personal knowledge based on their gender of that.
COOPER: Some of the working group just consists of Senate leadership and they happen to be men.
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes.
COOPER: Women senators -- I mean there's no reason women senators couldn't be added to that group.
RYAN: Yes. I'm hearing from some senators that I talked to tonight, they're saying that Collins and Markowsky will be key. But again, this is a town, Washington is a town that is dominated, a male dominated town or white male dominated town.
And unfortunately, men talk to men, but you've got to bring women into this dynamic, when you're talking about issues of maternity, health care, I mean, mental health and substance abuse women or affected by issues of maternity, we carry the children. Not only that, we are head of the household and a lot of times, we make the decisions.
[20:40:06] COOPER: And if you're defunding Planned Parenthood -- I mean these women who are --
RYAN: Exactly. It makes sense. It's a common sense issue as well as a good policy piece to bring women in and put them at the table. What did Shirley Chisholm say, the late Shirley Chisholm said, if you don't have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. I think the women need to bring their folding chair --
COOPER: The statement from one of the Republican senators saying they have no interest in playing the game of -- or the games of identity politics, saying that focusing on gender, this is the more important point of the diverse segments of the conference the group represents on policy. QUINN: But, you know, let's stop talking about ourselves, for a second, Republican senators, this is actually about the people affected by this bill. And you're talking about passing legislation, the House has passed legislation that is almost uniformly seen as anti-women and disregarding and hurtful to conditions that just based on gender or ones that only relate to women. And why -- unless you really want to keep that anti-women nature going of this, why wouldn't you want to have women --
COOPER: By the way, that was just an aide to the senator, not the senators.
RYAN: Issues of mammograms, issues of C-sections are pre-existing conditions, having a child is a pre-existing condition. And for them to just totally say in the House, oh, you know, this is going to be an opt at us. That's a real issue for family.
COOPER: Is this identity politics?
MCENANY: No. Look, I think just to backup quickly to Christine's point, if you don't mind. I think a lot of what Democrats have been saying has been misleading. Let me backup and say I have a pre- existing condition, I have the BRCA gene, I have a 90 percent chance of breast cancer, every six months I get mammograms, I get ultrasounds. I'm well aware of the importance of health care and it is indispensable that Republicans protect this group of people. Democrats are being misleading when they say they've removed all pre- existing protections. They do have the waiver that does allow states to opt out if they have a risk --
RYAN: But that 8 million is a drop of the bucket for the scores of millions of people with pre-existing conditions and the most vulnerable.
MCENANY: In theory, if these high-risk pools work like the main high- risk pool, it can work. But it's up to Republicans to make it work in practice. Now, we'll tell you this, Republicans are not strict with who -- which states are granted this waiver, then you are going to have a new worst version -- if you like your doctor you can keep it --
RYAN: Anderson, this is not a victory. I'm sorry, this is not a victory. I mean I'm talking to House members, I'm talking to senators, they're saying they're now in their districts and they are saying Republicans and Democrats are speaking loudly. I mean this is just a day. I talked to Sheila Jackson Lee in Texas, she said on the plane going from Washington to Texas, she said people are hugging her, white people, Republicans are hugging her, saying please keep fighting. I talked to someone else in another state. And they were like, look, it's a mixed bag. People are upset.
You know, this is not about Democrats or Republicans. It's not about men or women. This is about people who are hurting. This is personal for a lot of people.
RYAN: I am a person with pre-existing conditions as well. But it's not about me, but it's about the issue at hand. Millions of Americans have pre-existing conditions --
RYAN: -- millions of Americans are the most vulnerable.
MCENANY: If Republicans only devolve power to the state where the states have a high-functioning, high-risk pool like in Maine, which it works, if they only devolve power to states under the strictest of conditions, this can work in a more cost effective way.
COOPER: It just seems the lack of women -- it just so interesting because it just seems to harken back to -- I mean the lack women in that photo, in decision making, it just harkens back to a time that I kind of thought we were beyond.
QUINN: Well, I think two things. One, that picture says it all. And what it says is they don't really care. They don't even care what women think, they don't care what mothers think, what aunt thinks, with -- what men think about how women should be treated.
But I just want to pick up on something that Kayleigh just said about state's rights and state's participations in this. It's important to know that the action taken in the House Trump care bill will very well likely make it impossible for states like New York and California that have required that the insurance coverage in the state have, abortion coverage. It will practically make it impossible, we believe, for them to have a higher standard of abortion coverage in their state.
Republicans have always believed in state's rights and that the state should get to raise the ceiling the feds with the floor. We're talking about this potentially as it relates, whether I agree or disagree to the pre-existing condition pool, why doesn't it apply to abortion? Why do they get to pick and choose and be so hypocritical?
And I also just wanted to say. What is the only crime that is a pre- existing condition? There are no other crimes that people suffer and survive that are pre-existing conditions aside from rape, which can happen to men and women --
RYAN: This is so bad. This is so bad. Women in this nation, there was a run on birth control pills in fear of the fact that what this president was going to do.
QUINN: And --
[20:50:00] COOPER: We got to leave it there, I'm sorry. April Ryan, thank you very much. Kayleigh McEnany, Christine Quinn, thank you very much. It's been a long week.
Up next, find out why the parents of two young kids on a Delta flight were threatened with jail time, jail time. The video getting a lot of attention. We'll show it to you. Hear what Delta is saying about the incident.
COOPER: A new airplane dispute is caught on video. This time Delta Airlines is apologizing for kicking a family, including two young children off of a flight after they boarded. Now, the incident happened late last month but the father just posted the video online this week.
At issue, the seat being used by the man's infant son, he booked the seat under the name of his teenaged son who ended up taking an earlier flight. Delta wanted a standby passenger to use the seat in question and have the infant sit on the lap of one of the parents. The father who paid for the seat was not happy about it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN SCHEAR, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER KICKED OFF FLIGHT: We're going to jail and my kids are going to be what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a federal offense if you don't abide by it.
SCHEAR: I bought that seat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand --
SCHEAR: Right. I paid -- I got him a ticket on another flight so that my son would have a seat and you're saying you're just going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That's not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is just the latest in a string of airline turbulence on flights that never even left the ground. More now from our Randi Kaye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHEAR: You need to do what's right. I bought this seat and you just leave us alone.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brian Schear and his family are about to be removed from a Delta Airlines flight in Maui bound for Los Angeles, why? Because the Schears had put their two-year sold who is in a car seat in the seat next to them. The trouble is, that seat was booked under the name of the couple's older son, who had taken an earlier flight.
[20:50:07] SCHEAR: I paid for the seat. I bought the seat. KAYE: Flight attendants told Schear to hold his toddler on his lap since they needed the seat next to him for another passenger on the oversold flight. Then they told him FAA rules, say the child because of his age had to sit in an adult lap for safety reasons. He didn't buy that.
SCHEAR: What you're saying makes no sense. We flew out here on a Delta plane and he sat in car seat.
KAYE: Despite their arguing, the family was escorted off the flight. Delta later apologized, refunded the family's travel and provided additional compensation. An apology was in order after this incident, too, this time, from American Airlines. The woman in the video is sobbing because witnesses say a flight attendant had just violently taken her collapsible stroller away, nearly hitting her baby in the process. And when a fellow passenger tried to step in on the woman's behalf --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bud. Hey, bud. You do that to me and I'll knock you flat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stay out of this. You stay out of this.
KAYE: The woman and her baby were escorted off the plane. American swiftly issued a statement saying, the video does not reflect our values. The woman was upgraded to first class for the rest of her trip and the flight attendant was later removed from duty. Just two weeks before that, a viral video from onboard United Airlines after this Chicago doctor was dragged off. He had refused to give up his seat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah. Ah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god.
KAYE: By the time it was over, Dr. David Dao was bloody. His lawyer says he suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god, look at what you did to him.
KAYE: The airline later apologized and settled with him for an undisclosed amount. Other airline incidents are hardly as high profile. On this U.S. Airways flight, a disabled Vietnam veteran was removed for not putting his Golden Retriever service dog on the floor for takeoff instead of in the seat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm legally in the right by ADA law. This is a service animal and he can ride with me anyplace.
KAYE: He and his dog were still removed by an officer and rebooked for the next day. Cell phones appear to be a clear trigger for removal. This woman was talking on hers on a Spirit Airlines jet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave me alone. Stop it. Stop.
KAYE: This passenger says Spirit kicked her off a flight because of her cleavage.
CATHERINE SUPP, FELLOW PASSENGER: Two or three times people came over and said, they're still not covered up enough.
KAYE: That case is likely headed for court.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a lot to discuss. Joining us for his take on all this, CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest.
So, Richard, let me get this straight. You actually defend the airlines here?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you're putting me in an impossible position --
COOPER: You go right ahead.
QUEST: -- with that statement. Look, what I'm saying is that the U.S. carriers, the major carriers, on an average day will board more than 1.5 million passengers over thousands of flights. Now, those passengers, I understand, are in close confines, they're stressed, they're on planes that are already 80 to 90 percent full. It is inevitable that if you have a blackout or a disagreement or some form of dispute, eventually one or other is going to blow out of proportion.
COOPER: You could be describing a Starbucks in the morning, it's full of people, a lot of people are very stressed, you don't see passengers being dragged down the aisles.
QUEST: Oh because -- now, come on, there's a difference there.
COOPER: I know. I know.
QUEST: The true point you're trying to make. But the reality is there is a difference in those sorts of circumstances.
COOPER: Maybe the business model doesn't work or these flights are, you know, they're overbooked or there's too many people flying. But it does seem like flying is much more of a nightmare than it's ever been before and, you know, flight attendants who I have a lot of respect for and I think, you know, have a very difficult job, they're the ones bearing the brunt of, you know, airlines cramming too many people on or having too quick turn around times, not cleaning the planes, things like that.
QUEST: I certainly agree with you on the last point that the airline, the flight attendants are bearing the brunt of the front line, the gate agents are putting -- being put under intolerable pressures to perform in extraordinary circumstances in a very, very intense environment. I'm not blaming the passengers at all. I'm simply saying, these are very nasty incidents that are being dealt with by the airlines but to suggest somehow the whole system is broken or systemically wrong is a nonsense bearing in mind the size, scale and success of the U.S. aviation industry.
[20:55:07] COOPER: How can things get better, though? Because, clearly, for a lot of passengers, it is not a pleasant experience.
QUEST: Well, I think the way it gets better is better training for the staff to deal with those crises situations, a better airline, a better air aviation infrastructure, such as the FAA reauthorization so that air traffic control becomes a lot smoother, the delays are reduced. And crucially, and this is where I agree with President Trump and the former Vice President Joe Biden, there needs to be a vast expenditure on airport infrastructure so that this behemoth can cope with the large and increasing number of passengers.
COOPER: Final question, when you fly, do you wear one of those U- shaped pillows around your neck? Do you walk onto the plane with one of those things?
QUEST: No, nor do I wear those silly socks. And -- I mean, nor do I have the big noise cancelling head phones that I walk down to the toilet looking like some sort of lunatic. No, no, I just sit there quietly in row 96 --
COOPER: Please tell me you don't go barefoot on a plane because that's my pet peeve, that drives me bananas. People going barefoot on planes then walk into the bathroom with their barefeet, that liquid on the floor, it's not water. That's all I'm saying.
QUEST: Absolutely. I was going to have dinner after this, I changed my mind.
COOPER: Thanks, Richard.
Well, up next, President Trump has pledged to get tough on America's opioid epidemic. So how does he explain a draft memo planning to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control policy by 94 percent? We'll look at that.