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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Firm Used By Trump Campaign Asked WikiLeaks For Access To Clinton Emails; Source: Clinton Not Aware Of Dossier, Until Buzzfeed Published The Document; White House Facing Scrutiny For Russia Sanctions Delay; Questions Surround Obama-Era Uranium Deal With Russia. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 25, 2017 - 21:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news tops the hour on a day the president tried to make the Russian dossier more about the Clinton campaign's connection to it than the -- as yet, unverified dirt it may contain on him. We have new reporting on what may have been his campaign's effort to get dirt on her. Breaking news on contact between the data crunching (ph) outfit used by the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Our Pamela Brown has the latest. She joins us now. So, what's the situation? What are you learning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So we've learned, Anderson, that the head of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm working for the Trump campaign reached out to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, during the campaign asking about Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails.

Julian Assange acknowledged this today on Twitter confirming it happened and saying that he rejected the request. The head of this firm, Alexander Nix sent an e-mail to several people including top Republican Donor, Rebecca Rebekah Mercer, relaying that he had, in fact, reached out to Assange, but sources say no one from the actual Trump campaign was on that e-mail chain.

Now for contacts, Anderson, WikiLeaks which is responsible for releasing hacked e-mails from the DNC and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta's e-mails last year, but not Hillary Clinton's e-mails, and we don't even know if a third party ever obtained. So this new revelation establishes the closest known link between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. We should also note "The Daily Beast" was first to report the e-mail out leak. Anderson.

COOPER: So this firm, Cambridge Analytica, reached out to Julian Assange the summer of 2016. That was right around the time of the Republican Convention, right?

BROWN: That's right. It was shortly after Donald Trump became the official Republican nominee. And so the e-mail reach out happened around that time and then-candidate Trump was on the campaign trail repeatedly referencing Clinton's 33,000 missing e-mails. Here's what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: All that happening around the same time.

Now, the Trump campaign today responded by distancing itself from Cambridge Analytica saying, "once President Trump secured the nomination in 2016, one of the most important decisions we made was to partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics." And it also went on to say, "We as a campaign made the choice to rely on the voter data of the Republican National Committee to help elect President Donald J. Trump. Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false." And so, as you'll see from the statement, not only are they sort of distancing themselves from Cambridge Analytica, but also not denying that this e- mail reach out did actually happen.

COOPER: So, I understand CNN's uncovered a couple things that don't quite square with that contention by the Trump campaign?

BROWN: That's right. So we've learn that just after Trump won the nomination his campaign started the series of payments to Cambridge Analytica in July all the way through mid December, totaling just about $6 million. This is according to FEC filings.

In addition to that, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law who headed up one of his data operations and is now senior adviser said to "Forbes" magazine back in November that just after the president won the election he said, "We kept both data operations going simultaneously and a lot shared between them. And by doing that, we could scale to a pretty good operation." So he appears to be giving credit to Cambridge Analytica with the success.

I should mention that Brad Parscale who is also -- who over saw that the data analytics operation, he did tell "60 Minutes" recently that Cambridge Analytica did not play a huge role. So I guess it's just opinion on who you ask here. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Pam Brown, appreciate it. Thanks.

I want to bring in the panel. Kirsten Powers, Paul Begala, Ed Martin, Ana Navarro, Mike Shields, and Josh Green.

Josh, I want to start with you. You actually sort of embedded with the campaign in the final days. You actually wrote an article about their data operation. Was this Cambridge Analytica, was it involved?

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Cambridge Analytica had a full team of data scientists down in San Antonio in Trump's data headquarters. Brad Parscale, who is just mentioned, was our host and spoke about the work that they did and how their modeling was used for among other reason to help decide where Trump would travel to based on where they thought the most gettable universal persuasive (ph) voters was.

COOPER: Mike, you dealt with data operation the RNC.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICALCOMMENTATOR: Yes, and actually I just -- from what I understand from talking to people involved with the campaign, what you just said is actually not accurate. And so, I don't know if we've got our wires crossed when you talked to Brad, another people have talked to Brad. But I can tell you my understanding, which is pretty knowledgeable understanding of the inner workings of the RNC, was that the RNC did run the data operation for the Trump Campaign. The Cambridge Analytica has been a debunked company, that Cruz campaign fired them because they found out they were (INAUDIBLE). They got involved with Trump because the Mercers and because of Steve Bannon. There was some payment --

COOPER: Steve Bannon had been on the board?

SHIELDS: Yes, that's right. And there was some payments or --

GREEN: -- the Trump campaign CEO, right? I mean, --

SHIELDS: Well, that's right. That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: -- which speaks volumes.

[21:05:01] GREEN: He was actually inside the Trump campaign headquarters. The idea that they weren't involved --

SHIELDS: Right, let me finish -- I don't know why you argue with me about this. But it speaks volumes that if Bannon is CEO of the campaign, and they decided to go with the RNC data operation and not this psycho whatever crap that Cambridge is trying to sell that's ridiculously ineffective and not actually accurate, once they found that out, you have a lot of campaign novices working on the Trump campaign. Once they found out ways that -- like this guy is trying to sell us this stuff, this isn't real. And actually didn't -- one of the payments that's $5 million in the grand scheme of things is not a huge amount of money. It was $175 million data operation the RNC put towards this.

So, they did a test with this $5 million to do a T.V. buy, is OK with Cambridge. You think you should do better than the RNC and the entire machine that we built here, let's see what your test does. They came back with their T.V. buy and they want to buy like D.C. cable for the Trump campaign. And so that was the final nail in the coffin to say. You guys don't know what you're talking about. Even Bannon agreed with that.

My understanding is Jared agreed with everyone did, and they went and used the RNC. So the idea that the Trump campaign was using Cambridge is a fallacy that the Cambridge executives want everyone to believe because they're not selling their company. They go around the world and say, yes, I mean, we did all the stuff for the Trump campaign, and it's just not accurate.

GREEN: I mean we were there. It was on the record. The Trump campaign, Director Brad Parscale testified to the strength of Cambridge's models to our face on the record. There's pictures in the magazine. It was a cover story. You can see the whole thing. There's nothing mysterious or fake about it.

Now I will say this, the RNC had their own data operation, it was much bigger. I don't know how involved they were in Cambridge, but clearly Cambridge was an important part of the Trump campaign --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: -- and they've also been on the record in the "New York Times" about this before. I think that some of the Cambridge digital kids down in San Antonio working with Brad. They were doing prospecting, that sort of thing, they weren't doing -- and the GOTV stuff, they were going out and doing persuasion to the voters.

And so, it's a minimal role when you have this massive data operation at the RNC run, and a company that wants to sell themselves, which is convenient for the press to then --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- you're saying they were paid $5 million to $10 million and that they had employees there, which is what Josh has said.

SHIELDS: Yes.

COOPER: You're just saying in the grand scale of things, 5 million isn't much.

SHIELDS: -- oversold the role that they played inside this campaign is way oversold.

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But Anderson, can we celebrate? This should be a great celebration today. What we have now confirmed is that there are political consultants whether law firms, Perkins Coie, whatever, Cambridge Analytica, that go out and act wildly and go out and contact Julian Assange and Russians. I mean, what we have now is an admission. Hillary has got to deny that she knew that they did it, but we know that the Perkins Coie paid big money, $12 million --

COOPER: And we're going to get to that story.

MARTIN: -- right, so one of my point is that, that's a great -- the point these guys are all to Mike's point, they have consultants that are doing all sort of things and selling and advertising them, if they were the ones that made the difference, whether it's true or not doesn't matter. And that so -- this is kind of a --

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you don't pay a firm like that, I think it's $5.9 as Pamela reported, $5.9 million. But over $5 million, if you don't believe in what they're doing. This is the latest of several attempts to collude. Keep in mind there was the famous now June 9th meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign where Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman, met with the Russian lawyer, Russian lobbyist seeking dirt from the Kremlin, they were told.

From the (INAUDIBLE) I think they called the crown prosecutor, misnomer (ph), but seeking dirt from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton.

Then, as Pamela pointed out in her report on July 27th Donald Trump gives his last press conference of the campaign where he asks for WikiLeaks or for Russia rather to hack Hillary Clinton, which, in fact, they were doing and they did.

Now we have Cambridge Analytica reaching out to WikiLeaks which our Intelligence Community says was the vehicle the Russians used, that the Russians gave WikiLeaks this stolen cyber material. So that's pretty, pretty tight.

And by the way, during the campaign, 137 times Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks. A 137 times, that's collusion.

COOPER: Wait a minute. But on the Hillary Clinton story, I'm assuming you're going to be saying that the lawyer who was hired, you know, is not the campaign and therefore may have done stuff on their own.

BEGALA: No, no.

COOPER: Could you make the --

BEGALA: I'm not saying that.

COOPER: OK.

BEGALA: I don't believe it. He's an agent of the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Excuse me. He's an agent of the campaign. If he hired that firm, he hired that firm. Campaign would be responsible.

COOPER: So you don't buy that Cambridge Analytica, they were just some rogue people who may have reached out to WikiLeaks.

BEGALA: No, they were being paid by the campaign. They too were an agent of the campaign. They were contractor to the campaign, the consultant to the campaign in the same way. By the way, there's nothing wrong with getting opposition research and hiring investigators to do that, but that is true. But there is something wrong with reaching out to WikiLeaks, I believe, which was in possession of stolen material that the Russians hacked. And it's a huge difference.

COOPER: Kirsten.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, but they also communicating with the Mercers who were the biggest supporters of Trump. I mean, the idea this is some rogue group of people that aren't somehow connected at least to people who are completely dedicated to electing Donald Trump.

[21:10:05] And I also think sort of -- to what Josh is saying, they don't have to have been the biggest operation or the most influential. The point is they were there. They were somebody that a reporter was brought in to meet. I mean, they clearly were part of the Trump campaign. They don't have to have been super powerful or even good at their job.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This entire discussion, right, has been very in the weeds. And we're not going to get to the facts of it on this panel tonight.

Now, the one who may get to the facts of it is Bob Mueller. And the problem that the Trump campaign and the Trump administration now have is that this is another drip, drip, drip, another dot on the leopard when it comes to this ongoing investigation to colluding with Russia. It is a story that despite attacks at a Gold Star family, despite attack at NFL players, does not ever go away and it continues taking away his credibility and the trust that the American people already don't have in him.

MARTIN: I'm with Jimmy Carter. I'm with Jimmy Carter.

NAVARRO: That's a hell of a place to be for a Republican.

MARTIN: And Van Jones.

NAVARRO: I'm old enough to remember when Jimmy Carter was, you know, an (INAUDIBLE) to the Republican.

SHIELDS: There's one part, there's a lot of things I would disagree with Paul, but there's one that I would really disagree that I think you will maybe admit, just because a campaign spends $5 million on, it doesn't mean they think it's great or it's well-spent money. If that's the case, Hillary Clinton's campaign was the best-run campaign we've ever seen --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: -- if they were paid that $5 million, but they weren't really doing data analytics, what were they doing? Reaching out to Assange. I think we know why they paid him. They're terrible with data analytics, but they got paid --

SHIELDS: I actually know the answer to this.

BEGALA: What?

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: They reached out to Assange in June, correct? I don't know that they were even part of the campaign in June. June is when Cruz was winding down who they worked for. And Trump have -- I don't know when did Bannon become the CEO of the campaign, which is when -- MARTIN: August --

SHIELDS: Cambridge came in with Bannon and the Mercers. And then this reach out happened in June, it may have actually been before they're even part of the campaign. So to Ana's point, we don't know here. We don't know all the facts in this whole thing. I'm just telling you what I know about --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: -- so we don't overestimate --

COOPER: All right.

SHIELDS: -- that there was some huge conspiracy with this firm inside the campaign --

COOPER: A lot to cover tonight. Before we go to break, I want to clarify. An item reported at the end of the last hour concerning the congressman's conspiracy theory about the white supremacist rally that turn deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, talking about the rally organizer, Jason Kessler, I misspoke saying, "He originally voted for President Trump, in fact, he says he voted for President Obama and attended one occupy event." This as he later had a change of heart. I apologize for misspeaking.

Putting (ph) more to talk about ahead including the dossier and Hillary Clinton's connection to it.

Also, the president surprise impromptu press conference and some of the claims he made. Keeping them honest, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:24] COOPER: President Trump weighed in today on revelations about the Clinton campaign and DNC involvement and funding of research that led to the now infamous dossier of allegations about connections between President Trump and Russia.

According to the reporting, that research initially has been funded by, as of yet, unknown anti-Trump Republican source, a source familiar with the matter tell CNN that Hillary Clinton was not aware of Christopher Steele's dossier until "BuzzFeed" published the document earlier this year. The source says she was disappointed that the research was not made public before she the lost election.

The news comes a day after CNN reported the law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC acknowledge its clients role in paying for opposition research on Donald Trump that helped fund the dossier.

Back now with the panel. Kirsten, I think the president is calling this Watergate of the modern age.

POWERS: You know, probably not quite. I don't think that's quite where we are with this. Look, I don't think that there's anything wrong with hiring somebody to do oppo research whether that person is a British citizen or not. What would be a problem is if this is a foreign government.

COOPER: So why not -- if there's no problem with it, why not just admit it early on?

POWERS: Well, that's a great question. And so, I think Ken Vogel was on with you earlier.

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: And he suggested that it was some semantics that the Clinton campaign --

COOPER: Right, the lawyer --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: The lawyer was basically saying, well, it wasn't a dossier yet.

POWERS: It was a memo.

COOPER: And he was asking about dossier. It was just a bunch of memo.

POWERS: So they were playing legal word games with them. And, you know, I don't think that's OK. They should have been honest because they didn't do anything wrong.

COOPER: Paul, I mean --

BEGALA: Lawyers should never talk to reporters. No. There should be a translator in between. That somebody speaks English. And there is nothing wrong with -- Mr. Trump is an international businessman. I don't know if you know but he's very rich. (INAUDIBLE) mention it.

So, of course, his opponents both in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are going to want to know what's he's been doing in these international business deals. That's just -- campaign 101.

MARTIN: But now we have Paul's phrase earlier, an agent of the DNC and the Clinton campaign using a British spy who we're going to find out paying Russian sources in contact with the Russians to try to come up with a dossier. I mean, we now have a smoking gun --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I just want to know if it's true.

MARTIN: I agree with you.

BEGALA: If the Russian government has compromising information on my president. That's what I want to know.

MARTIN: No, no. You want to know --

BEGALA: Is it true?

MARTIN: -- the question at my hand is whether there's been influence on the election, the obsession with tying to --

BEGALA: Yes.

MARTIN: -- the president up.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Now we know that President Clinton's campaign, the agent of campaign went and worked with the Russians to try to sabotage the election.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We're investigating the Russians for Christ sake.

SHIELDS: Certainly --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Is our president compromised by a hostile foreign power, he sure acts like it does.

COOPER: Mike.

SHIELDS: -- much of a connection as the stuff that you guys keep trying to try out. This is amazing. So we've now found out that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were lying for months with a straight face as Maggie Haberman said was sanctimony. When they get caught, abusing the law firm that the DNC currently hires and pays, and that the sources that they were trying to get information from were Russia, which we've all agree were interfering in our election. Well this is just semantics from a lawyer. How dare you tries --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: And those are much stronger ties than some of the things --

POWERS: Mike, are you --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Are you trying to intentionally misunderstand what we said? Because, I mean, I feel --

SHIELDS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Let me clarify it for you. Let me clarify for you. There's a difference between the government -- that's what I said. I don't think that you can work with a foreign government that is trying to influence the election and that's not what happened. He's not a spy. He's actually a retired spy. He was hired to do this opposition research. We have no reason to believe he has any interest in swaying the election.

COOPER: Would it make a difference if he was used by the Russian government?

POWERS: Yes, totally, absolutely.

COOPER: To spread disinformation?

POWERS: Yes, and there would be -- and by the way -- and I don't think --

COOPER: Which we don't know. I mean, it's very possible.

POWERS: Yes, and totally possible. And I don't defend them lying about it. I absolutely don't --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Obviously they're covering something up. Why would you lie this long about something like this?

POWERS: Look, because --

SHIELDS: Clearly covering something.

NAVARRO: Because this dossier has become this taboo thing that nobody wanted to be associated with this, you know. Taboo dossier.

This to me tells me two things. One is, that the Clinton campaign was run by people who had -- you know, seasoned political veterans, they knew enough not to be making the direct calls to Assange themselves. They knew enough to hire and go between and have a buffer and do it the legal way.

And other thing it tells me is, that there's -- this rather blatant inconsistency and hypocrisy going on by people who want to be outraged by this connection between the Clinton campaign and this dossier and yet do not want there to be an investigation of the Trump campaign, the president of the United States currently, and the collusion with Russia.

[21:20:08] SHIELDS: There is an investigation.

NAVARRO: -- that to me is a much bigger issue. Hillary Clinton right now is hawking books on home shopping network.

COOPER: OK.

NAVARRO: President Trump is sitting in the Oval Office with the nuclear codes.

COOPER: By the way, the president called the uranium deal the Watergate in the modern-age, and we'll talk about that at our next break.

You're saying this is hypocritical?

SHIELDS: My point and I'm sorry to say there's a cover -- I don't know if there is or not, but my point is -- those are the types of words that we've been hearing for the last six months. There's an investigation, there's been literally zero evidence whatsoever that there's collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and yet people will come on air and just say it as if it's fact. And now when -- auspicious (ph) evidence that may or may not mean something gets thrown to the Democrats they're the ones who suddenly like, what are you talking about? This is absurd. This is just semantics from the lawyer. There's no cover up.

NAVARRO: Mike, are there anybody in the Trump world was hiding the fact that they were meeting like clowns in a circus with a Russian lawyer. I mean, it's like -- how many more Trumps can come out of the Volkswagen? You know.

SHIELDS: Right, but it's not evidence of collusion. And my --

NAVARRO: Well, but it smells like --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: There is a real investigation going on.

NAVARRO: Right.

SHIELDS: Sure.

COOPER: And just because we don't know what's going on in that investigation, I mean, that's all it needs. We don't know what's going on that --

SHIELDS: That's right. And, look, and I've said this before. First of all, the Russians clearly tried to get involved in our election and they're an enemy of America we need to do something about that. And we need to attack that. I have no disagreement on that.

But what will I tell you, he said something else that was interesting. He said that the Clinton campaign was run by professionals, right? The Trump campaign would not collude with the RNC. There wasn't anyone in the Trump campaign that was able to do something like this. So I find the idea of collusion absurd on its face. I find a lot of the allegations are just trying to connect dots that are all over the place. And yet, when that happens with the Democrats we can connect dots as well. They've covered this up for the last -- since the election. All of a sudden that's out-of-bounds. We can't talk about that. And then what happen? Stories about Assange and Cambridge start popping up in the press as soon as these stories start coming out, it makes you wonder about the timing of some of these --

BEGALA: Let me --

NAVARRO: Paul Manafort might have not had -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: OK, Paul, go ahead.

BEGALA: The Clinton campaign apparently conducted opposition research, as every campaign does, on their opponent. They got back apparently this very salacious and now infamous dossier, which they never used, in fact, didn't even reach the press until after the election was over. They never used it for whatever reason. I have no idea. I guess they didn't have confidence to tell you the truth. But I'd like now that he's my president to know whether he's been compromised by House to foreign power.

The contrast is, the Trump campaign met with Russian lobbyists and lawyers being told before the meeting we have dirt from the crown prosecutor of the Kremlin on your opponent, and Mr. Trump Jr. said, if that's what it is, I love it. But rather have it later in the summer. Colluding on the timing of the research, that is collusion.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break.

Coming up next, the president's take on party unity, suggesting it's a GOP lovefest. And also the Obama-uranium deal which is also much in the news. We'll talk about that ahead as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:26:30] COOPER: The president spoke to reporters today on his way to a fundraiser in Dallas. The South Lawn press conference was impromptu, made funny news. The president renewing his argument with a pregnant war widow, he accused the media of portraying him falsely as somehow not civil. Also in the wake of stinging (ph) public criticism from four big name Republicans including Former President George W. Bush, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee and both GOP senators from Arizona.

President Trump said the party is unified. He called yesterday's luncheon with Republican senators a lovefest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have actually great unity in the Republican Party. Yesterday I was --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even without Corker and Jeff Flake?

TRUMP: Oh, that's okay, look, you know, they have to do their thing. We have great unity. If you look at what happened yesterday at the meeting, we had, I guess virtually every senator, including John McCain. We had a great conversation yesterday. John McCain and myself, about the military. I think we had a -- I called it a lovefest. It was almost a lovefest. Maybe it was a lovefestm but we standing ovations.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Based on all the reporting. He did get standing ovation, however, they came after a punishing week as any president has had from his own party. By the same token, the administration may have reason to believe the president had a good day today. For more, we are joined by CNN's Kaitlan Collins in Dalls.

Kaitlan, the president saying that the Republican Party is united behind him, how real is that?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, that might be wishful thinking on behalf of the president. After he came away from that lunch on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans, Anderson, he essentially said that they were singing his praises. He received several standing ovation and declare that there's great unity in the Republican Party. But this comes after 24 hours of the president fending off attacks from members of his own party, including Senator Jeff Flake who got on the Senate floor immediately after that lunch was over and delivered this pretty blistering 20-minute critique of the president, and that was just hours after Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said the president was debasing the nation. And that was just on Tuesday, Anderson.

We've also seen Senator John McCain criticize the president in recent days and Former President George W. Bush who was pretty much silent during the Barack Obama years in office.

So if it's unity in the Republican Party really largely depends on who you are asking at this point, because we're seeing a lot of senators trying to stick by the president overall, Republican senators, because they're very desperate for a legislative accomplishment here and all eyes are on tax reform at the moment.

COOPER: The president also placed blame on the press for any dysfunction within the GOP.

COLLINS: Yes. That's right. The president was asked after he had been criticizing Jeff flake on the South Lawn as he was departing for Texas if he feels like he should be more civil and he said that it's the press that portrays him as an uncivil person and he cited his Ivy League education. And that he's a very intelligent person as reasons for that. But the president -- the same president who has demeaned his fellows Republicans and his own party by giving them nicknames and also disputed what a pregnant widow of a fallen soldier said about their call this week, just to name a few.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate that. Tonight, more now on the president's surprise press conference. Back now with the panel now.

Kirsten, what did you make of it?

POWERS: Look, I thought about this a lot. I mean his claims that the party is unified. In some ways it is sort of unified behind Trump if you look at the voters.

COOPER: It's his party. POWERS: They do. Yes. Really, it is a party of voters who supported the president over the members of Congress. You see the members of Congress being the problem, not the president.

[21:30:07] And I think, you know, yes, he's had some very high-profile problems with a couple senators this week, but overall he really has a problem with a handful of people. You know, we're talking about three or four people. And the rest of them --

COOPER: And most of them are leaving.

POWERS: Yes. And, look, and I think a lot of the people that are standing behind him also probably have some problems with him, but ultimately are voting, you know, the way he wants them to vote. So, you know, there is a fight going on in the Republican Party. There is no question there's a fight going on in the Republican Party. I would just say right now it seems like Donald Trump is winning.

BEGALA: He is, but he needs to unite his party. He should have done that last year before he was even elected. He got 45 percent of all the primary votes, and all the primaries and Caucus. It's 13.3 million votes, that's a ton of votes, but it's still 45 percent, 55 percent of Republicans who voted in those primaries and Caucus voted for somebody other than Mr. Trump.

If you're advising him, you say, boss, we got to unite the party. He got 88 percent of the Republicans in the election. Good for him. He's down to between 70 and 80 in the polls.

COOPER: What does it matter to the primaries?

BEGALA: Yes, exact.

COOPER: What does it matter --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: The first primary coming up in 2020 is in New Hampshire. He's below 50 percent there already.

MARTIN: Oh, come on, Paul.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: -- all this week.

MARTIN: Come on, Paul. Nobody's going to run against him.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Wait, say it again.

MARTIN: No one is going to run against him that's credible. If there are they'll destroy him in a second.

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: -- everyone needs to hear is this message. The Civil War was in the primary. The Republican Party is now Trump's party. It's not for international trade deals where we get cheated. It's not for illegal immigration amnesty. It's changed.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: -- it's not for immigrants.

MARTIN: Paul, you want to just name call. I'm talking about --

BEGALA: That's not name calling.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: The party changed dramatically --

BEGALA: Yes.

MARTIN: -- and it's picking up voters.

BEGALA: It's the party of Trump. Ed and I agree, America.

MARTIN: When you put up Maxine Waters -- you put out Maxine Waters and Bernie Sanders and see if --

BEGALA: Where is Maxine --

MARTIN: -- if you're picking up voters. What we're doing --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Trump is pickling up voters with people that say we prefer to have a president who's on the side of the American worker and the American people. That's what happened. And guys like Flake admitted, he said today, two things that are important. One, he said, of course, I'm going to vote for Trump's agenda. I'm going to have to vote for it because I'm not really that liberal, that's what he said. And the second thing he said was, he didn't support Trump. He didn't vote for him. By the way, I misspoke, Anderson. He didn't say he voted for Hillary. He said he didn't vote for Trump and so he probably voted for Evan McMullin or whatever.

And the reason he's not running is because he can't win because he's not a Republican where the voters are. That's good. Take care. Great service. And --

COOPER: Mike, do you see party unity?

SHIELDS: Well, I look at this a little bit differently. I think, you know, before Donald Trump came to Washington, the Senate shut the government down. They've been fighting each other in Washington for a long time. And what's interesting to me is the president would sign every bill that they send him. He has so far. What they had send to him. He has been signing bills. They're not the big marquee bills. Well, they passed bills in Congress send it to him. So, the idea that Donald Trump came to Washington and suddenly the party started fracturing I think is really not the correct narrative. I think that there has been a fight inside the Republican Party for a long time. Jeff Flake and some of the more conservative members are actually part to that fight. He's decided now he's getting primary. He's going to leave. And I don't put that down to Bannon, I don't put that down to Breitbart, I only put it down to the president. I think he might got in primary if Hillary Clinton won the election.

NAVARRO: I actually agree with Mike. I thank you -- you know, the Republican Party was fractured way before Trump. That being said, you now have the (INAUDIBLE) head, the symbolic head of the Republican Party who spends an enormous amount of time beating up on other Republicans.

Yesterday they published the list of something like 10 senators, Republican senators that he has attacked. He's attacked his Secretary of State. He's attacked his attorney general, all Republicans. He spends more time attacking Republicans than he does attacking the leader of North Korea.

GREEN: That's paid a price and that's why Republicans aren't unified in Washington. If they were, Trump would have passed more elements of his legislative agenda. You know, and the Republicans I talked to privately, I mean, the only place I really see unity is in their desire for Trump to stop tweeting and attacking them.

MARTIN: Right.

NAVARRO: And the interesting thing is, you know, a lot of the criticism that's coming from Corker, that's coming from (INAUDIBLE), that's coming from Flake, these guys actually vote with Trump. They voted with him on health care on the most important issues. They voted with him. The issue is tone and what he is doing to the country, the division, the hostility, the dog whistles to the races and the discrimination that's going on, the legitimizing of people that think they are better than others, that's what's bothering Republicans.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. When we come back the Trump administration more than three weeks passed the deadline to impose new sanction on top Russians involved in meddling of the U.S. election. Now some senators, Republican senators are demanding an explanation. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:38:00] COOPER: Tonight senators on both sides of the aisle are (INAUDIBLE) to find out if the White House is purposefully delaying Russian sanctions after the administration missed an October 1st deadline set by law. Top Senate Republicans including Senator Bob Corker and John McCain tell CNN they're trying to get information out of the West Wing about the delay. This all comes after the House and Senate passing the sanctions against Russia nearly unanimously back in August in retaliation for meddling in the U.S. election and President Trump signed the bill into law. Now earlier I spoke to independents Senator Angus King of the Intelligence Committee. Here's our conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Senator King, it's been almost a month since these sanctions were supposed to have gone into effect. Do you have any clarity as why they haven't been implemented?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: No and I think it's pretty frustrating. This bill was passed back in the first couple of days of August. The president signed it. The deadline for the implementation was October 1st. I haven't heard a thing. I'm going to be talking to Bob Corker later this evening and I know he's concerned. Senator McCain is concerned. You know, this wasn't an optional law, this is something the Congress passed by an overwhelming majority.

So far the Russians aren't paying any price for what they did to our country last year, and they should.

COOPER: The White House is pointing to finger at the State Department saying the sanctions are undergoing what they call interagency review and will be announced soon. Does that (INAUDIBLE) for you, I mean, doesn't the buck (ph) stop at the White House?

KING: Well, one of the problems is, at the State Department, there's literally nobody at the top echelon and this isn't because of any delay at Congress. These people just haven't been nominated. Secretary Tillerson is about it, other than that there's nobody running any of the departments and divisions over at the State Department. So I'm sure that's slowing it down. But, ultimately this is the responsibility of the White House, and I hope and believe that it will be implemented in short order.

COOPER: Does the story that broke yesterday at the "Washington Post" about the DNC and the Clinton campaign paying for some of the opposition research that was in that dossier, does that change things at all?

[21:39:58] KING: I don't think so. I mean, my understanding has been right along that the original work, the original investment, if you will, was made on the Republican side. I don't know by whom. And then the Democratic side took it over when Mr. Trump was the nominee. Opposition research is part of -- an unfortunate part of every political campaign these days. It's not very shocking that this took place. I don't -- my understanding is that the Clinton campaign didn't hire this guy directly. They hired an opposition research firm which in turn picked up on the work that had already begun.

COOPER: The president says his visit to Capitol Hill was a lovefest, those are the words he used, and that there's great unity within the Republican Party. From what you're hearing from your Republican colleagues, is that true?

KING: Well, I think it is. It depends on what you're talking about. I think when it comes to tax cuts and tax reform, they are certainly appears to be. I don't know whether it's 52 vote unity or whether it's 50 or 49, I mean, that's remains to be seen, because we don't really know what the plan is going to be. But I think -- I'm reporting now to a reporter, as an outsider, not a member of the Republican caucus, I think there is consensus in the Republican caucus, they want to move forward on that particular agenda item. But where it goes after that, you know, I think it's going to be item by item.

COOPER: From your vantage point, I'm wondering what the impact do you think of Senator Flake and Senator Corker's actions yesterday have on Capitol Hill, I mean, do you colleague think it's beginning any kind of a shift away from the president or is that simply just something that, that people were not running again might be able to do.

KING: Well, I can tell you from talking to people today. There are a lot of people that are sort of down about these two guys leaving. I know them both, Jeff Flake came in with me five years ago and, of course, Bob Corker has been here for, I think, this would have been his third term. Very capable, thoughtful guy. And I think the message that sort of disturbing is, if you're independent minded and willing to take your own position on particular issue and try to reach out and solve problems, that can cost you your seat politically, and that's a dangerous place for us to be in because we got to have people who are willing to reach across the aisle, who are willing to try to find solutions. And if that's a punishable offense, that's a bad sign. And I heard a lot of people talking about that this morning.

COOPER: Senator King, appreciate your time, thank you.

KING: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up next, the Obama-era uranium deal now under fire from House Republicans because of a big connection to Russia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:13] COOPER: More news out of Washington. House Republicans are now looking to the sale of uranium mining company approved by the Obama administration. The sticking point here is the buyer of that uranium company which turns out to be Russia's atomic energy agency. President Trump was asked about the deal today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I think the uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done, so underhanded with tremendous amounts of money being passed. Actually think that's Watergate modern age.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, it's a complicated story, a lot of interconnected threads. Let's turn to our CNN's Tom Foreman (INAUDIBLE) all to explain. Tom. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, complicated is the word, Anderson. A key question for Congressional investigators, did Hillary Clinton give 20 percent of the United States supply of uranium to Russia for donations to the Clinton Foundation? And it flows out of the sale in 2010 of this company, Uranium One, which controlled about a fifth of America's uranium to a Russian firm called Rosatom.

By law, even though Uranium One was a Canadian firm, the U.S. part of this deal had to be approved by the committee on foreign investment in the U.S. which has comprised of nine agencies including the State Department, and at that time, Hillary Clinton was the boss there, Anderson.

COOPER: So, I mean, a lot of this was looked at during the campaign. Why is it coming back now again? I mean, there were also -- the donations to the Clinton foundation.

FOREMAN: Yes, absolutely. It was all talked about before, but the Hill newspaper, which report on a lot of things was the government here, came out with report showing the FBI was investigating a subsidiary or Rosatom for possible racketeering money laundering, bribes, all aimed at giving the Russian government more influence over the U.S. nuclear industry while this deal was being approved. So some members of Congress want to know why they weren't told about all of this.

And further more, the Hill says, the Russians were channeling millions of dollars to the Hillary Foundation at the same time. Raising the question especially for some Republicans, did Hillary Clinton help this deal along in any fashion? Her staff, people who worked there say emphatically no, she had nothing to do with approving the uranium deal. It was handled at the staff level and Clinton herself calls the allegations baloney. Anderson.

COOPER: So Clinton deny it. Congressman Devin Nunes has launched an investigation. His committee wants to call a witness who allegedly saw much of this unfold.

FOREMAN: Yes. Well, Hillary know about that guy. He's an informant who supposedly played the crucial role in that FBI investigation. His attorney tells us at CNN this man has a lot of information about corruption surrounding this matter, and he says the informant was stunned when the uranium deal was approved. If he testifies, of course, we'll get to hear it all first hand and see how well his statements stand up to questioning. Anderson.

COOPER: OK, Tom Foreman thanks. Back with the panel. Mike is this Watergate modern age?

SHIELDS: We'll, I think we should find out. And I think of all the things we've talked about, this has more teeth and more legs than -- and that was a great explanation by CNN there of what this is.

When I worked in Congress in 2006, CFIUS is the acronym -- you mentioned, CFIUS, it'll be something that people (INAUDIBLE) start to say this word on here all the time. It's a committee that oversees foreign investments in America. They denied the country of Dubai from buying some U.S. ports. It's a long, laborious thing. We've really investigate whether or not a foreign entity for a very good reason can buy. This one was expedited. It went through the Obama administration in 90 days, with Democrats in Congress with no oversight hearings at all.

And the Republicans in Congress at the time said, wait a minute, what's going on here? Many Americans might be learning tonight and not realized that 20 percent of U.S. uranium is now owned by Russia. That all happened under the Obama administration with Hillary Clinton as the secretary of state while --

COOPER: It was approved by multiple government agencies.

[21:50:00] SHIELDS: All under the Obama administration.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

SHIELDS: So, it's like a committee of people of the cabinet of Barack Obama with her sitting there as secretary of state. It's well worth looking --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: -- finding out what the truth.

GREEN: This is all old news. I actually wrote about the story and how it came to be in my book published three, four months ago. I mean, all of this stuff came out years ago. There was a front page story in "The New York Times". And the element about this that hasn't got any attention. I think it's important is this story was generated by Steve Bannon working under the auspices of the Mercer family, the right-wing billionaires who produced the book "Clinton Cash" which in return before it was published was given to "New York Times' reporters who took this, realized there really is a story here and it generated a front page story in "The New York Times" above the fold just after Clinton announced her candidacy.

The purpose of the story as Bannon tells me in the book was to impugn Clinton's character, which it did, and what's interesting is it's coming up now at the very point at which Russia has become a problem for Donald Trump and by Congressional Republicans surfacing this now, I think it muddies the water and draws attention away from Trump.

BEGALA: The new company that bought this uranium has no license to export.

COOPER: The uranium is not in Russia.

BEGALA: Uranium is not going to Russia. It can't go to Russia. They have no license to export. That's point one.

Point two, those are nine cabinet and some sub cabinet agencies that sit on that, including the Justice Department, of which the FBI is part. So if the FBI had concerns they should have raised it at that level because they had a seat at the table. The Treasury Department chairs that process, by the way, not state or justice.

And finally, Hillary didn't even vote on it. She didn't attend the meetings on it. She delegated it sensible to somebody who knows more about this stuff, again, in Jose Fernandez, who is the assistant secretary who said, and I'm quoting, he said, "Hillary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter." So no intervention. She didn't even vote on it. And the Justice Department -- and they can't take --

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: But hang on. This is a point you'll want me to make.

BEGALA: OK.

GREEN: Mrs. Clinton did wrong was she didn't disclose the donors -- the head of this company was donating money to the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton was getting money from a Russia aligned investment --

COOPER: I think $145 million total which is a lot of money.

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on.

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: There was a deal that Clinton Foundation was supposed to disclose foreign donors and in this case they did not.

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: Hang on. What made it a viable story, what it doesn't show was there was any kind of collusion --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: -- Politifact, which has done a really good explanation at this one. One thing I point out, the guy that made those donations, he made them 18 months before Hillary was even secretary of state and three years before this deal.

MARTIN: But they knew she'd run --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But they knew she was running for president.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: At the end of the day --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: -- two things are the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: It's crooked Hillary.

BEGALA: Look it up online.

MARTIN: It's crooked Hillary, the money moving all around --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No. She's out of office. And the second thing that's true is the FBI, the story the Hill wrote --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: They're not carrying water for the Trump campaign. The Hill said, wait a second, the FBI was in this in a way that nobody ever knew and it wasn't disclosed. What's the story? And that's what we have --

BEGALA: Hillary shut up the FBI?

MARTIN: Well, I don't know. We'll find out.

BEGALA: Oh, sure, because State Department runs the FBI.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: -- it's not what you all said that we should look into whether the president has done anything to influence the FBI. You've been calling that --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: This is an attempt at all for Russia interference. Wouldn't this be one of the things that --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Exactly.

BEGALA: -- but it's been looked into.

NAVARRO: And you just hit it.

POWERS: Well, the other thing that I think is important to remember is that this happened at a time when -- it was the -- they were trying to do the Russia reset. So this was also part -- we're thinking of it in today's world, right, where we're looking at Russia as someone who tried to interfere with our election, who has basically become a major, you know, enemy of the United States and at that point they were trying have a relationship with them. And so that would be an argument for why they might approve a deal like this.

I don't think there's anything wrong with investigating it. I just think that -- like you're pointing out, the person who supposedly doing this pay off, he also sold his stake in the company before Hillary even --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Joshua and we got to go.

GREEN: I spoke to the CEO who said he's a huge Clinton fan. He gave a lot of money. He gave a lot of money to Clinton Foundation, considered Bill Clinton one of his pals. I think that was the word he used. So he clearly had an interest in ingratiating himself to the Clintons. What I don't think it showed, though, is that there any kind of Russia --

COOPER: We got to take a break here. Appreciate everybody on the panel. Thank you. More ahead, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:57:05] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist". Who is hungry? Because tonight we're taking you to a quaint little cafe in, Long Beach, California called Sweet Dixie Kitchen, purveyor (ph) of Southern comfort food, Mac and Cheese, grits, that kind of stuff, the kind of food I personally love. Here is the owner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of my stuff from here is made from scratch. I make biscuits every morning. We make pastries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Biscuits. Also on the menu, chicken and waffles and that's where the trouble starts because recently a customer at Sweet Dixie Kitchen saw boxes of Popeyes being carried into the kitchen. He couldn't believe the restaurant was using somebody else's fast food chicken for its chicken and waffles. He posted about it Yelp. And it turned into a kind of whole thing. It must have been some kind of misunderstanding, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love Popeyes chicken. I love it. I think it's the best chicken out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: OK. Fair enough. The restaurant owner freely admits she gets the chicken at Popeyes and she has a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My kitchen is not set up for frying. We're in old building. I don't actually have a proper kitchen back there. Walk through the front door with it. I mean, seriously, if I thought it was an issue I would put it in a brown paper bag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, it's her. It wouldn't take Colombo to figure this one out. The clues are absolutely everywhere. There is even one on the menu. Take a look it's called "Pop's Chicken and Waffles." There's no (INAUDIBLE). The dish sells for about 13 bucks which is, of course, much higher than Popeyes prices. So you can imagine the uproar over this, right. I've just been told there really isn't much of an uproar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't make that big of a difference. That went with a winning choice. They have a good price. And, I mean, it's like a win, win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. Some people must be upset. I mean, this would be like going to a fancy restaurant, ordering a fresh burger and outcomes a Big Mac which actually I would love as long as with these fries were included.

So let's be honest, at this point everything is derivative of something else, right. I mean, even the name Popeyes is derivative unless the actual sailor man built the company from the ground up with his own two biceps.

Fun historical fact, though, Popeyes isn't named for spinach binging old salt. A gentleman named -- like a little salt, a gentleman named Alvin Copeland Sr. opened the Popeyes in 1972 with the original name "Chicken on the run", which is an objectively terrible name for a restaurant. Who wants to imagine a chicken running away from some cook with a butcher's knife? Not me.

After several months of lackluster performance, as you might imagine, that restaurant reopened as Popeyes named after Detective Jimmy Popeye Doyle from the movie, "The French Connection". Thanks Popeyes.com. Forty five years later here we are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's so crazy. I'm a tiny little restaurant doing what I do. We didn't do anything wrong. I did something I thought was the best product I could bring in anywhere, anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I feel bad for her. Give her a break. It's like they say good artists borrow, great artists steal, really great artist just send someone a Popeyes and then make the best chicken and waffles this side of "The Ridiculist". You all come back now, you hear.

Thanks for watching 360. Time to turn things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.

DON LEMON, "CNN TONIGHT" HOST: Breaking news on the Russia investigation. This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon.

Remember when candidate Trump said this about Hillary Clinton's e- mails?