Return to Transcripts main page


Pres. Trump Speaks At Rally; Pres Obama Invokes Nazi Germany In Warning About Today's Politics; Papadopoulos' Fiancee Says He Wasn't Just A Coffee Boy; Rep. Trent Franks Moves Resignation To Today; NY Times: FBI Warned Pres. Trump Adviser Hope Hicks About Emails From Russian Operatives; Six Major Wildfires Burning In Southern California; "The Mystery Of Michael Flynn". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The president tweeting his support for the man several women have now accused of sexual abuse or sexual assault. Allegations that he, of course, denies, lending his support on stage as well.


[21:00:20] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot afford this country. The future of this country cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States. We can't afford it, folks. We can't.

We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and chuck Schumer. We can't do it. His name is Jones, and he's their total puppet, and everybody knows it. He will never, ever vote for us. We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our "Make America Great Again" --


COOPER: Some of what the president talked about. Here's -- actually let's check in with Alex Marquardt for more. Alex, what more have we been hearing?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is really what so many here in this crowd came out to hear, the president's support for Roy Moore.

Now it took the president quite awhile to get to that. This was billed as a campaign style speech, and it has held true to that. You can see up there next to the podium, next to the president signs that say "Merry Christmas". The president came right out of the gate blasting political correctness like we've heard him do so many times on the campaign trail before.

And then he just launched in to what he has seen as many of his accomplishments over the past 10 months including the economy, strengthening the military and strengthening immigration control.

Now this was perceived in the days leading up to this rally to be a rally for Roy Moore as well. It's not lost on anybody where we are right now. Pensacola, Florida. This Panhandle is all but Alabama. We're about a 20-minute drive from the state line. In fact, anybody who is watching this speech on local T.V. tonight here in Florida is doing the same in -- across the border in Alabama because they share that T.V. market.

So the Moore campaign was very eager for their supporters and volunteers to come out here to this rally tonight. The judge, we should note, Judge Roy Moore is not here at this rally. But just to show you how this was a not-so-subtle wink at the fact that this rally tonight is doubling as a Roy Moore rally. The daughter-in-law of the president, Laura Trump, so the the wife of Eric Trump, recorded a "robocall" that went out to a large swath of Alabama voters, some hundreds of miles away, saying that in your area the president is coming to visit, encouraging people to come here.

Now of course, the big question, if the president is going to endorse Roy Moore in the way that he has so vocally, not just here on stage today but also saying in a tweet this morning, "Vote for Roy Moore," then why not just go to Alabama and campaign with him? There are a couple answers. One that -- this is a very tight race. There's a decent chance that next Tuesday that Moore could lose. But at the same time, if Moore wins, then Democrats could of course use those images of the president, alongside an accused child molester in campaign ads next year in the 2018 races. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Alex Marquardt. Thanks very much for that.

We got some video now. Just a small sample (ph) of what the president has been talking about over the last 30 or so minutes. Let's take a look.


TRUMP: Look, it's being proven we have a rigged system. Doesn't happen so easy. But this system, going to be a lot of changes. This is a rigged -- this is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside. And, you know, there's no country like our country, but we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions. And we're working very hard. We've got a lot of them straightened out, but we do have -- we really do. We have a rigged system in this country, and we have to change it.

Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

They're resisting progress. They're resisting change.

Not only are we defeating these killers, these savage killers, horrible, horrible -- you don't even want to say people. These are savage killers over there, but we sure as hell don't want them to come over here. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

[21:05:08] You know, they come back to some countries and they come in. We're making it a very difficult process. We had such weakness. They go out, kill people then they come back and they go back home to mom and dad. OK. Before they went nutso (ph) and start over here. We're making it very difficult. You see what's being happened. We're watching every single one. We have thousands of people now under surveillance. Surveillance? Oh, that sounds familiar. That sounds familiar.

Remember when I suggested something like that? Everyone says Trump why is he -- well, turns out I was right about that one, wasn't I?

But they call themselves the resistance. You ever see these signs? Resist. Resist.

I love these guys. Look at these guys. Blacks for Trump. I love you. I love you.

By the way, now that you bring it up, black homeownership just hit the highest level it's ever been in the history of our country. Congratulations.

Oh, these resistors resist. Hillary resisted, and you know what happened? She lost the election in a landslide. But you know what they're really resisting? They're resisting the will of the American people. That's what they're resisting.

And by the way, how are your 401(k) is doing? Not too bad, right? Over the weekend I was in New York City and I love to say hello to our folks in uniform, whether it's the military, whether it's law enforcement. And we had people backstage and I always want to take my time. And a man comes up. He was a police officer in New York City. First time anyone said this to me. He said, Mr. President, I want to thank you. My family thinks I'm a financial genius. My 401(k) is up 39 percent in nine months. I think it's going to be very hard for someone to beat us in a few years. Can you imagine now we're only talking about a few years. All you have to say is, with us, it goes up, with them, it goes down, and that's the end of the election, right?


COOPER: The president tonight in Pensacola. I want to bring in the panel, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, also Bill Britt, editor in chief of the Alabama Political Reporter, Jack Kingston, Brian Fallon and Tara Setmayer.

David, first of all, what do you make of the president's remarks so far?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Classic Trump, lots of red meat and he's in Trump country. And I reckon it will help Roy Moore some next Tuesday. At the same time, Anderson, it's important to point out that if you look nationwide the Trump rhetoric, the Trump on vast (ph) is actually continuing to lose some of its appeal. The latest poll from Pew has his approval rating down to 32 percent. That is a very dangerous level for a president to reach nationwide. But in terms of what he's trying to accomplish, I think he probably helped himself and probably helped Roy Moore.

COOPER: Yes, Gloria, I mean you pointed out last hour by doing this rally in Florida, the president doesn't have to be with Roy Moore on stage. There's no photograph of them together. But the message is certainly the same.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he said vote for Roy Moore and he, you know, he made it very clear, we can't afford to lose this seat. The president has made the decision. He believes this seat is more important than any damage this might inflict on the Republican Party as a whole, say, in the midterm elections or the tough decisions Republicans would have if Roy Moore is elected. Don't forget, there are some Republicans who have said he should not be seated. And that's going to be another issue for them.

You know, the president tonight made it very clear where he stands. And he took this opportunity to kind of do a greatest hits on everything he has accomplished. He believes during his first -- you know, first year.

To me it was so much like a campaign rally with him talking about the rigged system and the sick system and he said there's a lot of sickness. I think the problem is, that the president is now the president of the United States and so when he talks about the system, he's actually the one in charge here. And his supporters believe that he's changing things. But his popularity doesn't show that most of the country agrees.

[21:10:13] COOPER: Yes, Phil, I mean it's interesting. The president's remarks for the majority of the speech were not about Roy Moore. He's talking about the economy, immigration, crime. You know, as Gloria said the rigged system as he calls it. But, I mean all are issues which certainly resonate with Moore voters, right?

BILL BRITT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: They absolutely do. As I was listening with that I thought -- without exception, it sounds a lot like a Roy Moore rally. I mean it is about immigration. It is about the accomplishments of making America great. I mean, you know, if there were Roy Moore stakes it would have been handed those out because certainly where a lot of Trump stakes out there well.

COOPER: Congressman Kingston, where do you make of where the president is at and what he is saying?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's enjoying himself. David is right. He's having a great time.

Anderson, I was at the White House earlier today, and the president was speaking about unemployment, the new numbers that are out, 228,000 jobs last quarter. He is in a good mood right now. He's going down there. He's contagious. It is an absolute campaign rally. But, you know, he noticed -- he put a little doubt in one of the accusers of Roy Moore, and then he quickly, having established that doubt, moved to the enemy territory, the safe enemies of Pelosi and Schumer and then it has been -- and with them he said the stakes are too high because of all of the above. We don't need Schumer and Pelosi to get another vote. You and I need another vote in Washington.

So, you know, I think he's brilliant in his simplicity sometimes. COOPER: Tara, does -- I mean, you know, invoking, you know, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, does that have the power that the president really believes it has?

TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: I think certainly I'm surprised he didn't say -- he didn't bring up Mitch McConnell, because Mitch McConnell is a dirty word down there in Alabama also.

I think -- I mean, I wouldn't use the term brilliant but I think that he's savvy enough to understand what buzzwords amp up the electorate down there in Trump country. And Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are the boogiemen to those folks and we have to remember Alabama is a decidedly red Republican state. I think Barack Obama got something like 28 percent or 30 percent of the vote in Alabama where you have a considerably large amount of even African-American voters and that was all -- that's as well as Barack Obama did.

So again, it's not -- it's pretty easy to invoke Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in a place where they've been the boogiemen for quite some time anyway. And that's what motivates a lot of these Alabama voters.


SETMAYER: You know, positioning this race as us versus them. That's why they don't have the ears to hear about how deplorable, and I will use that word with -- unabashedly to describe Roy Moore. How deplorable he is as a candidate. They don't care. It's become us versus them. And that's why any of the conventional criticism against Roy Moore and what used to be common decency is not working --


SETMAYER: -- because of -- they framed it this way about the Washington establishment, including against Republican leadership, to be honest.

COOPER: Yes. And Brian, I mean the president also bringing up Hillary Clinton.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and I'm sure that plays well in this deeply red corner of the country, the Panhandle of Florida. I basically agree with what David Gergen says at the top of the panel. I think this will deliver a short-term gain to Roy Moore's candidacy in Alabama, but I think that in the long term, this is just hastening a backlash that we're going to see play out nationally against Republicans next year.

If you think of this movement that has taken hold over the last few months where women have come forward, started to tell their story, finally hold men in positions of power accountable, it was really, I think, brought along by the election of Donald Trump in the first place. You saw the women's rally the day after the inauguration. A lot of women and a lot of men were horrified by the fact that Donald Trump could basically admit on tape to committing sexual assault and then win the presidency anyway. So if you on Tuesday have Roy Moore basically have a rerun of what happened with Donald Trump in 2016 have somebody, an alleged sexual assaulter be elected to the Senate with Donald Trump sort of willfully campaigning for him, holding up -- might as well be posing for a picture with him. I think that they are basically daring that women's movement to take them on. And I think you will see those women rise up next year in districts, in Senate and House races across the country.

COOPER: We're going to have more from the president. And also more from the panel coming up.

Plus a warning from President Obama with echoes of the Second World War in what he says.

Later the Trump campaign adviser, was he just a kid who got coffee or in high level contact with campaign officials as he made contacts with someone with ties to the Kremlin. Details ahead.


[21:18:25] COOPER: President Trump's speech tonight rallying the base in the Florida Panhandle comes just three days after Former President Obama spoke in Chicago. Although he never mentioned President Trump by name he issued a veiled warning about the dangers when only the hard core base, not everyone, is involved in electoral politics.


BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens. Now, presumably, there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked pretty sophisticated and seemed as if, you know with the music and the art, and the literature, and the science that was emerging, it would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And an entire world was plunged into chaos. So, you got to pay attention and vote!


COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, Gloria, this is the same kind of thing that, you know, General Michael Hayden has said repeatedly and Clapper and others. I mean pretty ominous remarks coming from the former president of the United States.

BORGER: Yes, it's a pretty apocalyptic. And, look, I think it's the way Obama feels. That we're going through something that we all need to pay attention to now. The interesting thing to me, though, is that President Obama is not in Alabama campaigning for Jones. And I think the reason he is not doing that is that perhaps Democrats feel that that would not necessarily help.

[21:20:19] You know, you haven't seen a lot of high profile Democrats down there. You have some African-Americans, Cory Booker, John Lewis, who are out talking about who will go to Alabama for Moore and Joe Biden went in October, but I think that there is a sense that if someone like Obama went in, like he went into Northern Virginia, but I think there was a sense that he ought to not go into Alabama, particularly with, you know, he feels so strongly about this. You know how we feels about this race. And you know how we feels about what's going on in the country if you listen to that. So it's interesting to me that he is not there.

COOPER: Yes. Brian, I mean it's an interesting idea that if, you know, President Obama or somebody else, a high-level Democrat, did go down, that it might actually motivate not only Roy Moore supporters more, not that they need more motivation, but it might motivate some Republicans who are on the fence and thinking maybe just sitting this one out, it might motivate them to go for Moore.

FALLON: I think that one of Moore's -- I should say, one of Jones' challenges on Tuesday will be sufficiently motivating the African- American portion of the electorate. I think he needs it to be some around 28 or 30 percent of the overall electorate to have a good chance of winning. And so in isolation, sending the president down, President Obama would be helpful in that regard. But I think in general, Jones' strategy has been the right one which is to seek to avoid nationalizing this race.

If you look at, for instance, what happened in Georgia, Jack may have his own views on that, but in terms of Georgia six, that election, the more national attention that came to that election, the more it woke up the Republican base and the fundamental redness of that district sort of showed itself in the end. Karen Handel was able to hold on.

I think Democrats have wisely tried to avoid nationalizing this race. And that's the worst, you know, Donald Trump next year and when the midterm elections happen, Donald Trump is going to be on the ballot. Not in a literal sense. But all these Democratic candidates are going be going around and the fundamental choice the voters in those district will face, do they want to send somebody there to help carry out Trump's agenda.

Trump in a campaign was able to throw out a lot of smoke screens and when people would raise issues about him not releasing his taxes he point to Hillary Clinton and the foundation. He continues to try to invoke Hillary Clinton because he needs a foil and he needs an enemy.

Democrats should be wise not to give him that foil, that this election in Alabama, the referendum on Roy Moore, that this election nationally and the midterms next year be a referendum on the direction of Donald Trump's taking the country.

COOPER: Jack, you know, when you hear former President Obama sort of speaking in regards to discuss to apocalyptic terms or warning about, you know, how easily sort of how tenuous democracy is, I'm wondering what you think of that.

KINGSTON: I think it's -- it just rings hollow. You know, this is the president who asked a candidate said, they'll bring their knives, we'll bring our guns. I was in Congress. The president was not a very bipartisan leader. I was in the Congress when President Clinton was, and so I can compare it -- to compare it.

I think that we have got into a rut (ph) in our country where each side has figured out getting their own base out to vote is easier than trying to convert people who are sitting on a fence.

But, you know, I want to say this in terms of Alabama. I do believe that if this candidate was a Joe Donnelly, or a Joe Manchin, he would be fine right now. I think the Democrats would take the seat. But unfortunately, Mr. Jones is no -- is not out of step at all with Pelosi and Schumer. And there is an enemy, and those are the enemies, Brian, I mean in terms of politics again. But he has not distinguished himself as an Alabamian, he is been more of a national Democrat, which is not good politics down there.

BORGER: And, you know, Anderson, I think if Moore wins, Republicans might rue the day here, because he is now their hood ornament, and Democrats can certainly use that against them. And also, in terms of everything Mitch McConnell wants to do for the president, I'm not so sure Roy Moore, if he were to be seated, would be with him on half of these things. You know, Roy Moore is kind of out there.

COOPER: I agree with you.

BORGER: And so I think he's going to cause problems, not only for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, --


BORGER: -- but also, you know, also for the rest of the party. And they may say, well, why did we even bring this guy into Congress?

COOPER: And David Gergen, when the president bringing up Hillary Clinton tonight, the crowd going with a "lock her up" chant. It is interesting that he continues to talk about her. He continues to tweet about her. And it's been a year since the election.

[21:25:09] GERGEN: I know, he can't give it up and she's still bruised badly, too. So, you know, you'd hope for the country's sake we'd move beyond it.

Let me come back to what, if I might to, to what President Obama was saying.


GERGEN: And that is -- he's giving voice to a conversation that now is going in universities around the world and that is the threats to democracy that we see. What Obama reminded us was between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second World War. The number of democracies in the world declined significantly. It is possible to go backwards and progress is not inevitable. You have to really work at making democracy's thrive.

And what we're seeing in the world today is, academians are pointing out to us is, the rise of authoritarian movements and country after country, strong men emerging in places like Turkey and Egypt and the Philippines and a growing number of other countries. And the worry that people started to have about whether our own democracy is under some threat.


GERGEN: This polarization is driving us apart. And the lack of civility, the lack of concern for each other, it's something I think is deserves a more serious conversation at the time of Obama point us toward.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody. Coming up after former Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The president and his team made him out to be a very low level volunteer, a coffee boy, some called him. Now his fiancee is speaking out saying, she has a much different view, much different story of his role in the campaign, that's next.


[21:30:21] COOPER: Tonight the fiancee of former Trump campaign Foreign Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos is speaking out. He has pled guilty to lying to the FBI. And the president and his team have tried to downplay his role in the campaign. One former adviser calling him the coffee boy. His fiancee said that is not true at all. She spoke with CNN's Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What have you seen, what have you read that doesn't square with the George Papadopoulos you know?

SIMONA MANGIANTE, GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS' FIANCEE: George Papadopoulos is everything but a coffee boy.

BROWN (voice over): Simona Mangiante says despite what the White House says about her fiance, George Papadopoulos --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the coffee boy.

BROWN: -- he was not a low-level volunteer in the Trump campaign or a rogue agent who acted without approval.

MANGIANTE: He was a foreign policy adviser for the campaign. He helped those editing Trump's speech on foreign policy. He attended many events and entertained contacts with high level officials of different countries. He was actively giving his inputs and insights in terms of strategies and of course he was in contact with high level officials and got approved for any initiative.

BROWN: In March of 2016, President Trump named him as a top foreign policy adviser.

TRUMP: George Papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.

BROWN: Later Papadopoulos met with the president and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions where Papadopoulos allegedly proposed setting up a meeting between Trump and Putin. Sessions claims he nixed the idea. But when news broke about his cooperation with the special counsel, President Trump slammed Papadopoulos in a tweet.

(on camera): A young low-level volunteer who was already proven to be a liar. What was your reaction when you saw that tweet?

MANGIANTE: It's the same person who called him excellent guy, so I agree with that.

BROWN (voice over): Mangiante says her fiance interacted with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, another top campaign officials including Michael Glassner, Sam Clovis, and Rick Dearborn. And she says during the transition, Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Most have denied, downplayed, or said they didn't recall their interactions with him.

(on camera): You say that he was consistently in touch with these high-level campaign officials.


BROWN: What was his interaction with Michael Flynn?

MANGIANTE: He was in contact with Michael Flynn and he worked with Michael Flynn during the transition and he was actively contributing to develop the foreign policy strategies for the campaign. And he didn't take any initiative on his own without campaign approval.

BROWN (voice over): Core (ph) document show Papadopoulos e-mailed campaign officials in March 2016 about setting up a meeting in Moscow between us, the Trump campaign and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S. Russia ties under President Trump. A campaign supervisor now identified as Sam Clovis responded, "great work," and later wrote, "I would encourage you to make the trip if it is feasible."

In a separate e-mail, a campaign official, now identified as Paul Manafort wrote, "It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal."

Mangiante tell CNN that Papadopoulos even did an interview in the fall of 2016 with Russian news agency Interfax as she says the campaign, the Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lanza, who is now a CNN contributor, signed off on it. Lanza declined to comment.

(on camera): So, the campaign approved him doing the only interview, as far as you know, with Russian Interfax.


BROWN: Signed off by the campaign?

MANGIANTE: Yes. BROWN: Was Russia a big focus for him to, like it could e-mail a contact there?

MANGIANTE: My understanding of his contribution to the campaign, Russia was a really secondary and he really did big work with Egyptians, Israel.

BROWN (voice over): She point to Israel as a foreign policy panelist at the Republican National Convention. And a meeting with Israeli settlers around Inauguration Day, seen here in video obtained by the Jerusalem post.

And while she says Papadopoulos communicated with Bannon, Dearborn and Flynn later in the campaign, he never discussed Russia with them.

(on camera): Why do you think the White House was so quick to come out and call him a coffee boy or low-level volunteer?

MANGIANTE: I think they wanted to disassociate from the first person who decided to actively cooperate with the government. I suppose this can be quite threatening for some people.

BROWN (voice-over): Mangiante says she was interviewed by the FBI in October. And that a key focus was on London-based professor Joseph Mifsud, suspected of being a link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

[21:35:04] Mifsud allegedly told Papadopoulos during the campaign that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, thousands of e-mails. Mangiante says she met Papadopoulos in September 2016 through LinkedIn because she was working at the London Centre of International Law Practice where he had worked earlier in the year. When they met, Mifsud was running the center.

MANGIANTE: I suppose that the FBI was interested in knowing my connection with Mifsud, which makes perfectly sense. It's quite a strange coincidence that's we both worked for the same person.

BROWN: She says despite that coincidence, she told the FBI she's not a Russian spy.

MANGIANTE: They asked me if I speak Russian, if I know Russian people. I mean, I think people got wild on Twitter about me being a spy, thinking I was the Russian, Putin's, you know, that was like a bit of fantasies and everything.

BROWN: Mangiante says despite everything they've been through, she continues to stand by her fiance and his willingness to work with investigators.

MANGIANTE: I'm very proud of it, of this choice to cooperate with the right side of the history.


COOPER: Pamela joins us now. What did Papadopoulos' fiancee say about him lying to the FBI?

BROWN: Well, I asked her about that, Anderson, and she says that he didn't intentionally mislead the FBI. She says she believes he might have gotten confused with the dates about when he met with Professor Mifsud but she says he is taking full responsibility for it. As you know, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and Mangiante says, she hopes President Trump will pardon her fiance because she says he has been loyal to him. We reached out to the White House, and the White House did not provide a comment for the story. Anderson.

COOPER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.

At the top of the program, we intended to show you a picture about White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, instead, we showed you a photo of another Raj Shah formerly in government. We regret the error.

We're going to have more on the Russian investigation tonight including the breaking news from "The New York Times" about Presidential Advisor Hope Hicks and the warning the FBI gave her about Russian operatives.

Also, our other breaking news out of Washington Congressman Trent Franks moves up his resignation date from January to today. We'll tell you why when we come back.


[21:41:11] COOPER: There's more breaking news. Tonight, Congressman Trent Franks has moved up his resignation date from January to today. Also, tonight, a (INAUDIBLE) on one of Frank's accusers said she was told the congressman offered $5 million to bear his child.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins me now with more. So what were you learning about the allegations against Congressman Franks?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of these new details for the allegations, Anderson are quite disturbing. I spoke this evening to a confidante of one of the accusers, a former aide in the congressman's office, who she says has detailed these allegations over the course of a couple years to her. She says the former aide said she was asked by the congressman to be a surrogate in exchange for money. The woman said she was asked to look over a contract to potentially carry a child for him. And it was said if she conceived his child, she would be given $5 million.

Now this is according to Andrea Lafferty, she is the president of the Traditional Values Coalition. She was in the room last week when this accuser brought her story to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's office up here on Capitol Hill. And we know there was a very swift move by the speaker's office to pressure him to resign and to leave. Anderson.

COOPER: And why the sudden change of date for the congressman's resignation? SERFATY: Yes, and this is really interesting. Yesterday he said he will resign in January 31st. Today, he says he will resign today, effective immediately.

Now, officially the congressman is essentially pinning it on his family. He says that his wife was admitted to the hospital with an ongoing ailment and the best thing for his family to do right now is to be by her side.

But, clearly, there was so much pressure on him. Clearly, there was just no appetite for him to stay a day longer up here on Capitol Hill. And we do know from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, he believes the allegations. He called them yesterday very credible and very serious.

COOPER: All right, Sunlen, appreciate that.

New information now about Russia's efforts to connect with the President team, "The New York Times" has reporting, the FBI warned President Trump's Communication Director Hope Hicks about Russian operatives who tried to make contact with her during the transition process.

CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is here with the latest on that. So what do we know about the FBI warning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that senior FBI officials, they cautioned Hope Hicks about several introductory e-mails that she received after the election. They were from Russian government e-mail addresses. So FBI agents met with Hope Hicks twice at the beginning of this year inside the situation room at the White House and they told her that these e-mails were not what they seemed and that they may have been part of a Russian intelligence operation. That's all according to "The New York Times".

So, Anderson, this was a very specific warning, and it shows that law enforcement was alarmed, that Russians were still trying to establish contacts with the Trump team even after the election. Reportedly, Hope Hicks disclosed the meetings with the FBI, the White House Counsel Don McGahn. And we also know that Hicks met with the special counsel's team today and yesterday as part of their ongoing Russian probe. Anderson.

COOPER: And when it comes to the case against Manafort and Rick Gates, what did you learn?

SCHNEIDER: So we have learned about a whole slew (ph) of information that prosecutors have. They have 400,000 documents in their case against Gates and Manafort. They include things like financial records and e-mails. And prosecutors have even labeled 2000 of the documents as "hot," meaning that they could be particularly relevant.

So also what the government has, they have 36 electronic devices they seized from Paul Manafort's home back in July. Investigators have also issued 15 search warrants and probably the most interesting thing, Anderson, in these filings is that the government referenced that Manafort and Gates had actually given deposition testimony in another matter. Prosecutors, though, they're not saying exactly what they mean. The case moving full steam ahead and we'll see both Manafort and Gates back in court on Monday. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

[21:45:00] Up next, Up next, a live update from Southern California where wildfires have already forced nearly 200,000 people out of their homes, could get worse over the weekend.


COOPER: I will show you some live images right now from a helicopter from affiliate ABC at over Ventura County which is north of Los Angeles. The forecast, by the way, is not one that Southern California needs. Meteorologists said that dry air, strong winds through the weekend could add fuel to wildfires that have already forced nearly 200,000 people from their homes. The fires have burned almost 160,000 acres this week.

Sara Sidner joins us now with an update. Explain where you are and what's around you.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Ventura, the city of Ventura. And around me is simply devastation from the fire. The reason why we just got word that much of this city, almost all of it, the evacuation order is being lifted. I will show you why it's actually sad story really when you look at why. It's because the fuel for the fire is pretty much gone. There's just nothing to burn in some of these neighborhoods, because it is already been burned to the ground.

[21:50:16] We looked around us and there's one street and just below and there were 20 homes we could see with the naked eye that were burned to the ground, just the chimneys standing very much like the house you are looking at now. That's on one street. We have gone street to street to street on this hill, and seen the same kind of devastation on each street.

And every now and then, you will have a street that nothing is burned. It is the way the fires work. But they are still raging. We are talking about a fire that is now three times the size of Washington D.C. and it has not let up yet. That's 132,000 acres, which is about 200 square miles that is burnt to a crisp.

I also should mention, those pictures you were just showing there of the helicopter shot. The best view of these is from the sky. Because as you see, some of this is burning in a very densely wooded area and it's too dangerous to get up close to.

And we've been in the situation Anderson where 101, that beautiful road that goes along the coast from here all the way up to L.A. there was a point in which we had to pull over, cars were swerving around fire as it jumped from one side of 101 to the other towards the ocean, where there are quite a few homes. Those homes did survive though, Anderson.

COOPER: That's incredible. I mean, I think last hour, you were saying it's about 20 percent contained, is that right?

SIDNER: Yes, I mean, and you imagine that 10 percent when you're talking about this kind of a fire, this is going to take a long time to deal with. You talked about this very important fact, that it is extremely dry. At one point, the dew point was in the negative. I didn't know that was possible, which means there's no humidity, there's less humidity than they can possibly imagine. That is terrible for fighting a fire.

And the winds kicked up at one point to about 70 miles an hour over the past couple of days. Now that red flag warning is what they call it, is extended. It was supposed to stop on Thursday, it is extended through Sunday. And so the big worry is, of course the neighborhoods, like this one, where there could be another round of evacuations, and more fire.

But for right now, the latest news here in Ventura, which has been hit the hardest with about 400 structures, many of them homes burned, the latest news is that the city of Ventura is saying look, the evacuations for most people have now been lifted. One tiny bit of good news after so much devastation here on Southern California, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, and it's just incredible. Sara Sidner, I appreciate you being there. Thank you.

Up next, we have a sneak preview of "CNN Special Report: The Mystery of Michael Flynn", it's a fascinating look. Jim Sciutto joins me with the look at how Flynn went from military hero to pleading guilty for lying in the FBI.


[21:56:48] COOPER: Before Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia probe and before he was the National Security Adviser to President Trump, he was a military legend. Now he's at the center of the biggest political scandal in decades.

Coming up in a few minutes, the top of the hours CNN Jim Sciutto investigates Flynn's downfall in the new special report. Jim joins me now with the preview.

So your report is called "The Mystery of Michael Flynn" and takes a look at the life and career of someone many people still really don't know very much about.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's true. And the reason we chose mystery is because really the way he went after his time in the military, distinguished career, really a heroic career, was something of a mystery to the people who knew him best, and served with him, admired him, served under him, served for him, risked their lives together. Why did he take this turn when he went political, particularly among military folks. His going supremely political, you know, the lock her up chants at the Republican convention et cetera, was something that they felt was a step too far for someone who just came out of uniform, but also a step beyond the Flynn that they knew when he was in uniform.

It really was a mystery for a lot of the people who knew him best.

COOPER: I understand there was an expression that some of Michael Flynn's colleagues used to describe his approach to intelligence.

SCIUTTO: That's right, I mean, particularly when he was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency after he left the military, one of the senior most intelligence officials. They called these "Flynn facts." And that was not a compliment. It was cases where Flynn went beyond, it seemed the facts and the intelligence.

And this is something we heard even from the man who hired him there, the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Have a listen.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Inside the intelligence agencies, some grew concerned that Flynn's position sometimes contradicted the facts and the intelligence. "Flynn facts" they called them.

(on camera): People talked about "Flynn facts". You've heard this expression.

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I was hearing from more than one source in DIA about, you know, what became "Flynn facts", that concern me.

SCIUTTO: Can you give me example?

CLAPPER: I think he was convinced that the Iranians were behind the Benghazi attack, which they weren't unless we had no evidence of that. But he insisted that we find evidence to back up that proposition.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): The increasingly infamous "Flynn facts" became one symptom of broader concerns about Flynn's leadership at DIA.

DOUGLAS WISE, FMR. DEPUTY DIRECTOR, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Flynn started to manifest some of the more controversial behaviors that ultimately played out on the national stage.


SCIUTTO: And that issue arguably got bigger, particularly when he was on the campaign. Because you had his comments and really some of this bigoted comments about Islam, the religion, saying it's not a religion, saying that people are right to be fearful of Muslims. And then you had him sharing on the campaign conspiracy theories, even that, you know, repeatedly debunked theory really for poster series -- theory that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta had some sort of child sex ring at a pizza parlor here in D.C.

So a lot of those trends got even worse in view of the people that knew him best after he left the military.

COOPER: Yes, it's going to be fascinating. Jim Sciutto thanks very much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

COOPER: That does it for "360." "The Mystery of Michael Flynn" begins now.