CNN, ANDERSON COOPER, 2ND HOUR, APRIL 3, 2017
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): Tonight, Congress’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election is taking shape, with the Senate Intelligence Committee now interviewing witnesses and the House panel once again meeting after weeks of turmoil.
But the White House and Republicans now raising new questions over whether the identity of any of Trump associates were improperly revealed or unmasked within the intelligence committee during Barack Obama’s final days as president. The president tweeting Sunday, “The real story turns out to be surveillance and leaking.”
SEN. JOHN COMYN, (R) MAJORITY WHIP: Serious allegations have been made invading the privacy rights of American citizens who might have been caught up incidentally in the collection of foreign intelligence. That’s a serious matter.
RAJU (voice-over): Democrats say the White House’s focus on unmasking of certain Trump associates is a smokescreen intended to distract from allegations of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian seeking to influence the election.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: I think that the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in another direction. Basically say, don’t look at me, don’t look at Russia. There’s nothing to see here. You know, I would tell people, whenever they see the president use the word fake, it ought to set off alarm bells.
RAJU (voice-over): Behind the scenes, the House Intelligence Committee is trying to finalize a list of witnesses to interview as part of the Russia investigation, while the Senate panel is looking to talk to at least 20 witnesses as part of its sweeping inquiry. That’s all in addition to the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation.
. . . how will Congress deal with former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who is asked for immunity in exchange for his testimony? Even some Republicans call the proposal a strange idea.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I don’t know what he has to offer. I wouldn’t give immunity to somebody unless I knew they had something to offer.
RAJU (on camera): What about the president saying that he should be given immunity.
GRAHAM: I think he’s trying to encourage him to come forward, but I’m not so sure that’s appropriate. The bottom line is, if there were any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian intelligence services that were inappropriate, I want to find out about it and I want the whole world to know about it.
COOPER: What more can you tell us about all this talk of unmasking?
RAJU: Well, Anderson, I can tell you multiple members in the House Intelligence Committee told me tonight that they actually want to hear more about this and plan to hear about this tomorrow during a private closed door meeting, in which they’re expected to learn a little bit more about what Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee and the GOP Chairman Devin Nunes saw in separate briefings in the White House as part of surveillance information that shows some Trump communications were incidentally collected and unmasked in the words of Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman.
Now, earlier today, Fox News and Bloomberg News reported that the former Obama national security adviser was involved, Susan Rice, was involved in that unmasking, something that a source tells — close to Susan Rice tells our Jim Sciutto was false and she didn’t do anything improper, but that’s going to be a subject of further discussions in the House and Senate Intelligence Committee.
And, Anderson, tonight our colleague Tablo Bianco (ph) caught up with Devin Nunes asked him to comment about Susan Rice if she was involved in anyway and he said this, no comment.
COOPER: Joining us is in fact a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Connecticut Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. Congressman, today was the first time, as Manu was saying, that the House Intelligence Committee has met since Schiff called for Chairman Nunes to recuse himself. What can you say? I mean, how did it go?
REP. JIM HIMES, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the good news is the committee is back up and running and did our typical early in the week hot spot briefing today and it looks like we’re continuing to be promised access to the information that, of course, caused the chairman to do what he did a week and a half ago. So, I’m hopeful that maybe this thing is coming back on track.
COOPER: I was going to ask if anyone in the meeting reiterated a call for Chairman Nunes to step aside. But, essentially, you’re saying Russia was not the — the Russia investigation, was that not even discussed tonight? Was the topic kind of regular order of business?
HIMES: Yeah, it was regular order of business. No, it did not come up. And, look, you know, we’re doing our best to sort of see if we can’t get this — the committee first and the investigation going again. I think, you know, having Ranking Member Schiff go to the White House and look at the information, you know, we obviously — the rest of us need to get access to it. We need to look at it. But our hope is that we can get this thing back on track.
COOPER: You know, as we were reporting last week, both Schiff and Nunes spoke to each other last week. They agreed to bring back FBI Director James Comey to testify. Is that your understanding still that that will happen behind closed doors?
HIMES: Yeah. Well, as you know, the chairman has asked and has been asking for a week that we have that meeting. And so, the Democrats, we got together on Friday and we said, “Fine, if the chairman wants to have that meeting, let’s do that.” And we said, “Let’s do that.” No preconditions.
We also are expecting the chairman to reschedule the open hearing which is, of course, the day of that open hearing is when all this craziness began over a week ago. And we have been told that it will be rescheduled. As you heard, the president also said he wanted the deputy attorney general to testify.
So, you know, again, we’re going to move forward here and hope that we don’t have any more adventures like the one that took our committee off track a week ago.
COOPER: So that open hearing, which you want rescheduled, would that be Sally Yates, James Clapper and other, because those are the people who are supposed to testify, I guess, it was last Tuesday, and that’s the one that Chairman Nunes canceled.
HIMES: Well, that’s exactly right. And it’s not so much that he canceled it as he scheduled the closed testimony of Comey and Mike Rogers on top of it. So, again, it’s all a little bit murky. But the point is that we’ve said, “Fine, let’s sit down behind closed doors with Comey and Rogers and then let’s do the open hearing.”
COOPER: In terms of this issue about Susan Rice, and unmasking, how concerned are you about the issue, A, of unmasking and then information being leaked to reporters?
HIMES: Well, I guess I got two things to say about that. One, there’s absolutely nothing unusual about unmasking. We get all kinds of intelligence intercepts all the time. And it involves masked U.S. person information. It could be a reference to a U.S. person. It could be a U.S. person talking. It happens all the time as does the unmasking.
If somebody feels that there’s intelligence value and, of course, there’s a whole series of procedures that you have to go through and lawyers look over your shoulder, so there’s nothing at all unusual about unmasking.
With respect to Susan Rice, again, it’s one report out there and it’s not particularly unusual that a national security adviser might ask for something to be unmasked. We just need to remember that so far, there’s absolutely no allegation of wrongdoing, even by the chairman.
And, of course, this has nothing to do, even though I think some people would look to cloud the issue, it has absolutely nothing to do with the president’s charge that Obama had him wiretapped.
COOPER: I want to bring in the panel, Margaret Hoover, Bill Press, Alice Stewart, Jack Kingston, Van Jones, and Jason Miller. First of all, I was looking at your reaction to what the Congressman Himes said.
ALICE STEWART, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, first off — look, I’ll give Susan Rice the benefit of the doubt and that she did do nothing that was outside the scope of her responsibility and what is not unusual. But the problem is, a month ago she spoke to PBS and said she didn’t know anything about this. She didn’t know until she heard this in Nunes’ report.
So, I think there’s so much back and forth from all sides and I think we all need to sit back, not jump to conclusions and let this investigation play out as it should and let’s not pre-conclude what the findings of the investigation will be.
COOPER: I mean, Bill, on the unmasking issue, I mean, there are seems to be two issues. One, there’s unmasking how widely, you know, was somebody — was somebody unmasked just to one senior official? How widely was it kind of spread throughout the, you know, the Obama administration? And then also, was any of that information leaked to reporters?
BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, “BUYER’S REMORSE: HOW OBAMA LET PROGRESSIVES DOWN”: So far — first of all, I want to echo what — I think what Alice was saying too. We’re just at the beginning of this. We just heard about this today. We don’t know a lot. I think we have to be pretty careful about jumping too far.
But, I’d have to say, it seems to me that if I were national security adviser and during ordinary surveillance that the FBI and the CIA were always doing about foreign agents in this country, and there are — we were popped up several conversations where names that you could know they were sort of the same person kept popping up on those conversations, I think it was her job to say, “Who are these people and what are they talking about?”
So I think she was — from what we know, it looks to me that she was doing her job. It wasn’t an anti-Trump move, it was pro-national security move. It appears.
MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Yeah. Look, we have mostly in the past seen people say, I can’t comment on this issue until the investigation is fully done. You normally see that from the White House. You normally see that from every federal official.
You haven’t seen that this time because mostly you have the president weighing in through Twitter in 140 characters sort of stoking the fire and moving the story forward. But, I agree, prudence here is absolutely necessary. And, it’s very good that the intelligence committee and House is back on track it seems.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE MESSY TRUTH: Well, first of all, I just can’t understand what the problem here is. She’s the national security adviser. Her job is to give advice. In order to give advice, she has to have information. To get the information, she’s got to ask questions. She’s basically doing her job. All that’s been exposed, she’s doing her job.
Now, if somebody else is leaking it to the press, that’s whole another thing. But just to say, well, she’s controversial in the right wing media so, therefore, there are some big deal because it’s her. Any national security adviser advising the president has to ask questions about the information that they get. And that’s all that she’s doing. The rest of this stuff is just a bunch of nonsense trying to divert attention from what is clearly a very serious issue with the possibility that the president’s campaign was colluding with Russia.
COOPER: Jason, I mean, the president’s tweets over the weekend pointed to surveillance, calling the Russia investigation phony. I mean, sure, you know, it certainly appeals to the base. But, should he be doing that when there is an ongoing FBI investigation as well as the House and Senate intelligence investigation?
PRESS: I just want to point out one thing. OK, look, Adam Schiff was right. This is what their — this is what’s going on and we’re all falling for it. Donald Trump is saying, look over there. Look over there. Look at Elizabeth Farkas, look at Susan Rice, look at Tony Podesta, he tweeted out this morning.
Let’s get back, the central issue is the President of the United States accused the former president of wiretapping Trump Tower on March 4th and since then there’s been not one shred of evidence and keeps trying to change the subject.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight on late night efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, that’s right, what you heard right. The White House and Republican lawmakers are trying again their first effort earn them somewhere between a black-eye and the triple hernia. Now, Vice-President Pence is working to bring both conservative and moderate Republicans back on board.
Phil Mattingly joins us with the very latest. I know the vice- president just wrapped up a meeting with the Freedom Caucus. What do we know about what was discussed?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there’s something that’s on the table. I think that’s a shift from what we’ve seen. Obviously, Anderson, it was only 11 days ago that the president pronounced that this was dead. They were moving on to health care reform. It turns out that’s not actually the case. The White House is now basically offering to try and get those conservatives back on board.
Two things, the opportunity for states to apply for waivers to get away from the essential health benefits that are required under Obamacare, this kind of 10 requirements that every insurance plan would have and also a waiver to get away from the community rating system. And what that does is basically requires insurers that within a geographic — any geographic area, they can’t change premiums based on gender or age or kind of health situations.
That is something that the Freedom Caucus members, the conservatives have been pushing forward the so-called Title I Regulations in the Affordable Care Act. They believe that that will help drive premiums down. That is now on the table. There is not a deal. That’s what Mark Meadows, the chair of the Freedom Caucus said as he came out of this meeting.
They are waiting to see legislative text, but he is saying this is a positive step forward, which is more than nothing, which is basically where we’ve been for the last 10 days or so, Anderson.
COOPER: And what kind of timeline are we looking at? I mean, is there any indication of Republican moderates and the Freedom Caucus are actually close to a compromise once they see something on paper?
MATTINGLY: Look, I think the big question right now is how do you bridge the gap? I mean, it’s a gap that still very much exists. It’s a kind of a needle that the leadership tried to thread earlier trying to make sure that the conservatives and the moderates are happy. Look, the conservative members are saying they want to vote on this as soon as possible. [21:20:03] They leave for a two-week recess at the end of this week. If they can get something on the House floor by this week, they’d be thrilled, but I do think it’s worth noting. I’m urging some caution here based on talking to House leadership sources and based on talking to those moderate members.
The idea that these issues, these areas that have been put on the table by the White House will bring moderates along as well is still very much an open question. If you remember, Anderson, these essential health benefits were put on the table towards the end of the negotiations before this bill fell apart and moderates made very clear the leadership today were not comfortable with this. They didn’t like the headlines on it that would come out of it. They didn’t like how it would treat their constituents. So that’s still a very big open question.
As you noted, Vice-President Pence also met with the small group of moderates today. What I’m hearing basically is this, the White House is more or less blitzing this right now. Leadership is kind of stepped back, let them take the lead. I asked one House leadership aide, why is that the case right now? He put it very succinctly, the White House finally realized that the man who inhabits the Oval Office really doesn’t like losing and he took quite a loss just a couple of weeks ago, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, fascinating developments. Thanks very much.
Back with the panel. Alice, I know you’ve been talking to folks on Capitol Hill. You’ve been checking your phone, what are you hearing?
STEWART: Well, similar to what Phil said. Look, members of the Freedom Caucus have always wanted a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and while the president is talking tough on Twitter, he is really working to make sure and get a consensus on this. And as Phil said, allowing states to opt out of Obamacare mandates is critical and the community waivers, these are key issues that they can compromise on.
But first and foremost, the House Freedom Caucus members know they hold the key and they have promised their constituent they will provide lower premiums and greater access to health care. As long as they can come together on this, I can see something pen to paper and a bill —
HOOVER: I mean, it’s a pipe dream. It’s a pipe dream. Look, the Freedom Caucus does not hold the key to this, because if the Freedom Caucus hold the key to this you don’t get any moderates, you don’t get any Democrats, you actually make —
COOPER: Are you satisfied Freedom Caucus and then you get moderates —
HOOVER: And then you don’t get you 217 or 218. You don’t get all the Republicans you need. I mean, this is the problem with that. They gave the keys to the kingdom to the Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus can’t take yes for an answer. And so what are they doing now? They’re just dallying around with the Freedom Caucus again to no end. I mean, really, I talked to members of the Congress that got to yes and they haven’t even reached by leadership.
PRESS: Well, there’s one other thing going on here. Margaret is not going to like hearing me say this. But, Donald Trump I think made a big mistake in trusting Paul Ryan once to line up the votes and Paul Ryan did not deliver. I think he is making a big mistake thinking Paul Ryan is going to deliver this time. Plus —
HOOVER: Ryan is not engaging the Freedom Caucus. It’s the White House engaging the Freedom Caucus now.
PRESS: But, he is still the speaker. He’s got to deliver. Plus, I believe Donald Trump ducked a bullet the first time in losing this bill. And now, if it — if they get something together, what’s going to happen? 22 million people on Obamacare are going to be out of protection and 70 million people on Medicaid are potentially losing Medicaid, they’re going to own this. Donald Trump is going to own this.
HOOVER: By the way, who voted for Donald Trump?
COOPER: Van, do you think they can get a deal together?
JONES: Well, it looks to me that there’s a deeper problem here, which is more — we talk a lot about what’s going on in D.C. that’s also a problem at the base. The conservatives want repeal. The populists want replace. In other words, you have a lot of people at the base level — all they thought was Obamacare costs too much. I’m going to — when Trump gets in there, I’m going to get my premiums lowered.
And what — none of the conversation has been happening around Trump care, or Trump don’t care, or whatever you want to call it, has really gotten to scratch their itch around the real need to have lower premiums.
And so, you’re starting to see, you know, if you look at this right wing blogs, if you look at — this is some of the grass root conservatives, there’s a real disquiet here not just about old Trump lost, also what’s going on D.C., but I may not be able to get my health care done.
And if you wind up with that at the outcome, no matter what happens, if they pass a bill, if they don’t, you’re going to have a real deflation of the Trump base when you get to the mid-term election.
COOPER: Congressman Kingston, I mean, when this was defeated the last time, there was talk from Republicans about not — kind of doing overarching deal, but trying to go kind of piece by piece. Is that off the table?
KINGSTON: Now, I think they’re actually — Pete Roskam from Illinois actually proposed you do one very, very big comprehensive piece of legislation and then as you — that works its way through the system, you pull out of it the parts that could actually pass by consensus on reconciliation and you combine that with what Tom Price can do through executive orders. And so there is a way out of here. And I just blurred a very complicated process, but I know as a former whip, it’s a matter of numbers.
Right now, all they need to do is get to 216 votes. The Senate will rewrite it. The conference committee will rewrite it after that. So this is one step, but I do believe that it’s one that the Freedom Caucus wants to re-visit.
I talked last week to Mark Meadows, the leader of the Freedom Caucus. I talked to some freshmen yesterday and they all feel the need, because they know like every other Republican in America, they ran on repeal and replace. They’ve got to come out with a product.
COOPER: You know, Jason, I mean, hearing Phil Mattingly’s reporting that the White House has realized President Trump does not like to lose, knowing how the president operates, do you think that is a big driving factor here, that he wants to prove that he can get a deal done, that he thinks this is obviously something he ran on?
MILLER: Well, they’re going to have to get a deal done at a certain point here. I mean, Obamacare is failing. And it’s only a matter of months here until we find out what the premium increases are going to be for this next year. How many additional people are going to be kicked off the insurance that they currently have. And so, the law as it currently stands, it just — it isn’t going to work. They have to deal with it.
I would urge them to take their time. We have plenty of time to come to this. We know that the president is very excited about tax reform and infrastructure reform. These are measures that he can go into right now and really to have — but rushing this through and having another one come up short I think could be a real problem.
COOPER: Well, later on this week President Trump will — excuse me, will sit down with China’s president. It is just one of three meetings with foreign leaders on his schedule this week. The first was today with Egypt’s leader. Sara Murray has more.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump kicking off a week of high stake diplomacy by lamenting the terrorist attack at a metro station in Russia. DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Terrible thing happening all over the world, absolutely a terrible thing.
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump’s warnings on terrorism sure to drive the discussion in a series of sit downs with world leaders this week.
TRUMP: We will fight terrorism and other things and we’re going to be friends for a long, long period of time.
MURRAY (voice-over): Today, Trump welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House before meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on Wednesday and he’ll round out the week at Mar-a-Lago with China’s President Xi. Trump’s warm welcome for el-Sisi today.
TRUMP: And I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me.
ABDEL FATTA EL-SISI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT: Thank you very much.
MURRAY (voice-over): An early sign of a starkly different approach Trump will take to foreign policy compared to his predecessor. Former President Obama had a frosty relationship with the Egyptian president after delivering sharp criticism of el-Sisi’s human rights record.
Obama never invited el-Sisi to the White House. For Trump, counterterrorism is the priority, while human rights concerns are on the back burner. An administration official said they would be dealt with discreetly.
Today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to say whether the two leaders discussed the topic.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I’m not going to get in to what they discussed privately. But I will tell you that we understand the concern and I think those are the kind of things that I believe progress has made privately.
MURRAY (voice-over): But the new president’s most highly anticipated meeting this week is sure to be his two day confab with the Chinese president. After serving up harsh rhetoric on the campaign trail about China’s trade policies —
TRUMP: We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump said he would use this visit to put China on notice about North Korea’s nuclear program. Telling the “Financial Times,” “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
Even warning, the U.S. will act unilaterally if necessary, saying, “Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That’s all I am telling you.”
COOPER: And Sara Murray joins us now from the White House. I understand President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin today.
MURRAY: That’s right. We saw him publicly talk about how the terrorist attacks in Russia were terrible. But we’re also learning now from a senior administration official that there was a very brief, but private call between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that was the opportunity the president took to express these sympathies privately about the terrorist attacks in Russia.
Again, we’re told this was a very brief phone call. Obviously, this comes as there’s a lot of scrutiny about the relationship between Donald Trump and his associates and anyone in Russia, Anderson.
COOPER: Yeah. Sara Murray, thanks very much.
A lot to discuss. Richard Haass, he’s president of the Council in Foreign Relations and author of the new book, “A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy in the Crisis of the Old Order.” He joins me tonight.
Richard, Jared Kushner in Iraq. I mean, he has no experience obviously in militarily or foreign affairs and yet he has a very huge portfolio in this administration. I mean, pretty much — it seems like every major foreign policy issue for Mideast peace dealing with China, government innovation, and now Iraq. What do you make of this?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, what Jared Kushner has is the ear and trust of the President of the United States. So the fact that he would go to Iraq to get himself at least somewhat familiarized with that seems to me to be welcome, because, again, the bottom line is he’s going to have access. He is going to be in a position to say things, so the more informed he is by experience, the more access he has to experienced people and to situations on the ground, the better.
COOPER: It’s also — I mean, a smart move for the joint chief’s chairman who invited him to bring him because (inaudible), yeah, he has the ear of the president, Jared, and clearly joint chief chairman is very much aware of that.
I mean, the president during the campaign was talking about taking Iraq’s oil, saying, I think he said to me in an interview, you know, if there is no Iraq, there are no Iraqis. So, if Jared Kushner goes there, sees things, talks with Iraq’s prime minister, understands the players, that’s just all to the better in terms of informing the president.
HAASS: Exactly. And also, in places like Iraq and Syria, Anderson, American diplomats have very little role. Essentially, the military has taken on almost the entirety of American foreign policy. They’re the ones that are there on the ground. They’re the ones that are interacting on a day by day basis with local officials and local military. So that — whether it’s the future of Syria we’re talking about or the future of Iraq we’re talking about, it’s really the American military that is — that represents and essentially holds the cards for the United States.
So, again, this is, you know, from where I sit, this is a useful trip.
COOPER: I mean, is it clear to you where foreign policy decisions are being made in this administration? Obviously, you know, secretary of state defense have gone overseas and said things which contradict Kennedy, Trump, secretary of defense, you know, in Iraq the last time saying, you know, we’re not going to take Iraq’s oil. How concerning is it that to you that the secretary of state may not be in on some of these meetings, may not have the ear of the president?
HAASS: Well, again, you know, Secretary Tillerson is meeting quite regularly with the president, but I think it’s clear that the center of foreign policy decision making is the White House. It’s the president. It’s Jared Kushner. Steve Bannon, the strategist obviously is influenced. There’s also H.R. McMaster.
I think of all the cabinet official has probably the one with the most weight right now is the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis. And, again, in places like the Middle East, I think that reflects as much of anything his experience and the fact that most of the people on the ground are wearing military uniforms rather than business suits.
COOPER: In terms of this administration’s foreign policy, whether it’s China or Egypt today meeting with the Egyptian president, the administration says that President Trump will take — well, they say it private and discreet approach to things like human rights and that is best discussed behind closed doors. Do you agree with that?
HAASS: Well, up to a point. It’s important then that it is discussed behind closed doors that the United States makes whatever points it has. In Egypt, for example, it’s not clear that this leadership has founded a path of long-term stability. The polarization of Egyptian society under President el-Sisi I think raises some long-term questions.
Publicly, you’ve got to be careful. It can cause a nationalist reaction. You can alienate a government if you are critical of them on human rights. It’s very hard to cooperate with them on other issues.
That said, again, like everything else in life, it’s a balance. If you don’t say things when Russian troops and police are hitting people on the streets of Moscow and other cities or when we ignore essentially the protesters as we did several years ago during the Iranian revolution, again, it encourages regimes and it demoralizes opponents.
COOPER: President Trump has been very vocal on North Korea just this week in telling the “Financial Times,” “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” which, you know, essentially a public threat. What do you make of that? Obviously, you know, relations with North Korea are hard to calibrate even in the best of times. Is it good policy to be public with the threat like that? HAASS: Well, again, I think it’s a message that the Chinese pretty much understand that if they don’t use the influence that they have or more of the influence that they have with North Korea, it’s going to leave the United States with some pretty stark choices and the Chinese aren’t going to like those choices. We’ll need to keep building things like missile defense, which they don’t like. Or we will use military force, which they don’t want to see.
So if there’s going to be a successful negotiation, China is going to have to use the leverage to rise from the reality that most of North Korea’s trade goes in and out over Chinese territory. And China is going to have to weigh in heavily with the government and Pyongyang and I think this is simply reminding them of what the reality is.
COOPER: How much willingness do you think there is on China’s part to try to be tougher with North Korea? Obviously, the last thing they want is either unified Korea or destabilized — further destabilized North Korea right on their border.
HAASS: I think that’s — you put your finger on it, Anderson, that’s the Chinese dilemma. If they allow things to drift, it increases the odds that the United States may use military force where you can imagine a situation in a decade or so where other countries in the region might decide they need nuclear weapons of their own. That’s obviously a nightmare for China. If they press the North Koreans too hard, it could bring down the regime and that could’ve create a unified Korea, which is in the American strategic orbit.
So what China wants to do is find the, you know, the just right option to put enough pressure on North Korea that they compromise, but not so much that they bring it down. And I think that that will be one of the key subjects at Mar-a-Lago and in the months that follow.
COOPER: Contractors have until tomorrow to submit bids for the first step of President Trump’s signature campaign promised, building prototypes of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. Well, the designs are yet to come. This much is certain, hundreds if not thousands of U.S. citizens will have to give up their private land to build the border wall. We know this because it’s happened already.
CNN investigated hundreds of lawsuits filed the last time the government started building on the border and found legal battles that dragged on for years. Homeowners who described heartache because they never got what they felt they deserved. Our Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin tonight reports.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their lives were cut in half the last time the U.S. government decided it wanted to build a wall. Ray and D’Anne Loop couldn’t believe it. Their family had been farming the South Texas land for nearly 100 years until the notice came that government was taking it.
D’ANN LOOP, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: I was very angry and I just kept saying it way over and over again, how can they do that? How is that possible in the United States said they can do this? Put up a fence in front of our land and then keep us in here. You know, lock us in. I didn’t understand. I was very — I was floored and flabbergasted.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): That was almost 10 years ago and the Loops like hundreds of other land owners thought they could fight. They lost. The government paid them a settlement and took the land it needed to build this fence, cutting their farm in two.
RAY LOOP, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: It essentially left us no property on the U.S. side of the border wall, including my house, my residence. Everything was behind — on the Mexican side of the U.S. border fence.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Unbelievably, these American citizens were locked out of their own country. Their farm ended up on the south side of the border fence, still on U.S. soil, but wedged between the fence and the border with Mexico.
Their only access to the rest of the U.S., a locked gate.
R. LOOP: There’s not really words to describe it. We’ve learned to live with it. But when you come and you enter the border gate, you punch your code in or — and you come behind the border wall, there is a feeling of isolation.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): A few months ago, the family found out just how isolated they really are. In the middle of the night, a fire broke out. And as the fire raged, fire engines were slow to get there, hampered by that border fence.
D. LOOP: And I kept standing there yelling, “Where are they, Ray?” I had called 911. She was clear. She heard me on the call. She knew where I was. They couldn’t get in here according to our neighbors. They said the fire trucks kept driving up and down the street. We heard the fire trucks.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The family got out barely, but not their pets.
D. LOOP: We had a little miniature goat. He was on fire and he was running out of the structure screaming because he was burning alive. Everything was gone. They couldn’t — he told me, you cannot go back in for them. And we all stood in the yard and we had to listen to their cries burning alive. And we couldn’t go back in and save them.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Loop’s story is part of a CNN analysis of 442 lawsuits filed by the U.S. government against American landowners. The property owners either fought to keep their land or tried to get more money than the federal government was offering under eminent domain. In most cases, a CNN analysis found those land owners lost the battle.
And a decade later, 93 of the lawsuits are still in court. What did all those land owners get? A total of $78 million, the fair market value to cover 654 miles of current border fence land the government took. But, what happened 10 years ago in mostly desolate, dry ranch land will be nothing compared to what is about to take place?
President Trump’s recent executive order to expand the border wall could stretch into more highly populated areas. It will bisect even more farms, golf courses, resorts and ranches. Hundreds of miles of wall and hundreds if not thousands of land owners will be forced to sell their property to the government.
Former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Ralph Basham says expect huge, prolonged legal battles.
W. RALPH BASHAM, FORMER COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Particularly in the urban areas, it’s going to be very complicated. It’s going to be — it’s not a popular idea. And like I said, individuals are not happy when, you know, they lose part of their property.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The River Bend Golf Club and Resort in Brownsville, Texas is bracing for the worst. The fence is already here on the right and the left. If the government decides to finish it, it will cut the resort in two.
JEREMY BARNARD, RIVER BEND RESORT AND GOLF CLUB: 70 percent of our property would be on the south side of the wall. That would affect 15 of our 18 holes of the golf course and over 200 residences.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Jeremy Barnard is the general manager and says residents here will fight for fair value of their property.
BARNARD: I don’t think anybody here is just going to hand over their property.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Pat Bell is one of them.
PAT BELL, RIVER BEND RESIDENT: What happen here means everything to me.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Like almost everyone CNN talked to along this border, Bell is a Trump supporter. But she does not support a wall, especially one that would essentially move her home to the Mexican side of it. She says, fences and walls don’t work, which is exactly why she plans to fight for her property.
BELL: So, absolutely, I would go to the people that are in charge and you hate to say I would get a lawyer. But if it come to that issue and had you to, you would.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bell, like thousands of other property owners along this border, nervously wait the final design, placement and eventual legal notice that the U.S. government is coming to take away their land.
COOPER: Drew joins us now. So to be clear, Drew, no notices have gone out yet to property owners, but if the president does go ahead with the wall, how would things then unfold?
GRIFFIN: Anderson, if history repeats itself, landowners would be forced to sell their property to the government, lose their land and not be paid what they think that land is worth.
We have done an extensive analysis of all the lawsuits that came out of the 2006 border fence expansion, and what we found, Anderson, is property owners who fought the government to keep their land always lost. And the government offered them thousands of dollars less than what the land was worth. That’s from more than 400 lawsuits. The people lost their land, lost their court battles and got paid less than what they wanted. Anderson?
COOPER: Breaking news from Russia, a massive search underway for the suspect or suspects responsible for deadly explosion in the St. Petersburg metro this afternoon. I’m going to warn you, some of the video you’re about to see could be tough to watch.
According Russian state-owned T.V., at least 10 people are dead, dozens injured after an explosion tore through a subway train that Russian officials are calling — they’re saying it’s a terrorist attack. The people trapped inside the train frantically tried to escape by prying open doors, climbing through broken windows. Move and get ripped off one door on a train. A second device was found at another station. That was disabled.
Our Paula Newton joins us now from St. Petersburg with more. So, Paula, what are investigators saying right now about who could be behind the attack and any connection to President Putin being in that area?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, at least one Russian lawmaker said could it really be a coincidence? This is Vladimir Putin’s hometown. He was here when this happened doing a political summit. Having said that, as these hours took by, Anderson, no indication that investigators are any closer to finding any suspect or suspects that might be responsible.
Obviously, they are scouring some of that horrific video and all the video that came before it at two specific stations to see who could have left what was essentially one very powerful bomb inside the car and the other one, as you indicated, outside the platform.
And, Anderson, you know that even the one outside, as you’ve heard, it was a very powerful bomb, very crudely made, but definitely had it gone off, it would have created even more carnage.
COOPER: What’s the mood like right now tonight? I mean, how are people reacting?
NEWTON: Well, you know, as you can see, people are just shattered here. I’ve actually been, you know, struck by how rattled they are. This is a main metro station, main subway station, so think of yourself going through a very busy subway station, one that you might go through a few times today. People were frantically trying to find loved ones, and then you speak to the eyewitnesses.
And, you know, I spoke to one man who is just, you know, didn’t know what to do. He saw all of these people on the platform, but then when you looked beyond the platform to those ruined carriage cars, he said, where did I begin? What could I possibly do?
And many people on that carriage car thought, “We’re never going to make it out of here alive.” And it was the sheer force of the blast that really took many people by surprise. I’ve seen many people break down here.
Vladimir Putin was at another station just about a mile from here and laid his own flowers, but tonight he must be wondering exactly who perpetrated this and if it was generally an attack more focused on him, it being his hometown and him being here right in the middle of this terrorist attack today.