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New Revelations in Trump-Russia Probe; President Trump All In on Backing Accused Child Molester Roy Moore for Senate; Interview With Alabama Senator Richard Shelby; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; Obama Invokes Nazi Germany In Warning About Today's Politics ; President Trump Backs Roy Moore; Santa Trump's Naughty Or Nice List In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 10, 2017 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): All in -- President Trump urging voters to elect a man credibly accused of sexually abusing two young teenager girls to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.



TRUMP: Do it. Do it.

TAPPER: But not everyone in the Republican Party is with the president.

The senior senator from Alabama, a Republican who did not vote for Roy Moore, is here next.

Plus: historic move.

TRUMP: We finally acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

TAPPER: President Trump checks off one of his campaign promises.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Sometimes, you have to take risks. Leadership leads to peace.

TAPPER: But as violence erupts in the region, the question looms, will this lead in any way to peace? U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley joins me live.

And digging deeper. A new report says Russian operatives reached out to one of President Trump's top advisers, and the evidence gathered by the special counsel against Trump's former campaign chair continues to swell. How much further up the chain will this go? The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, is here ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is heading South.

In just two days, voters will head to the polls in Alabama to choose a new U.S. senator. President Trump is now throwing the full weight of his presidency behind controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore, who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing two young teenage girls, including a 14-year-old.

Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations.

And, this morning, we're learning President Trump has recorded a robo- call for Moore ahead of the election.

On Friday, the president held a campaign-style rally just over the Alabama border, explicitly calling on voters to choose Moore.


TRUMP: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.


TRUMP: We can't do it. Can't do it.

So, get out and vote for Roy Moore.



TAPPER: That endorsement from President Trump sure to offer Moore a boost in a state that Trump carried by nearly 30 points in 2016.

Let's get right to Alabama's senior Republican senator, Richard Shelby, who joins us now from Tuscaloosa.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

You said that you already cast your ballot in the Alabama special election, and that you chose to write in a candidate, instead of voting for the Republican, Roy Moore. The latest polls are neck and neck, showing Jones, the Democrat, leading by a hair perhaps.

When it comes down to it on Tuesday, who would you rather see win?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, I would rather see the Republican win, but I would hope that Republican would be a write-in.

I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. I didn't vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name. And I think a lot of people could do that. Will they do it? I'm not sure.

I don't know what is going to happen. You know, as a Republican, I had to vote Republican. I wanted to vote Republican. I understand where the president's coming from. I understand we would like to retain that seat in the U.S. Senate.

But I tell you what. I -- there -- there's a time. There's -- we call it a tipping point. And I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip, when it got to the 14-year-old story -- story, that was enough for me. I said, I can't vote for Roy Moore.

TAPPER: You're going to wake up on Wednesday, and one of these two men, Roy Moore or Doug Jones, is going to be your fellow senator from Alabama. Which one would you rather deal with on a professional level?

SHELBY: Well, I don't have to answer that question today.

I -- I had rather see another Republican in there, and I'm going to stay with that story. I'm not going to vote for the Democrat. I didn't vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn't vote for Roy Moore.

The state of Alabama deserves better. I think we have got a lot of great Republicans that could have won and carried the state beautifully and served in the Senate honorably.

TAPPER: Will you tell us who you voted for, who you wrote in?

SHELBY: I'm not going to tell you that, anymore than you do, OK?


TAPPER: Well, let me ask you.

Roy Moore's accusers include Leigh Corfman, who alleges that he sexually molested her when she was 14, and Beverly Nelson, who alleges he sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Do you believe these two Alabama women?

SHELBY: I think the women are believable. I have no reason not to believe them, just like the attorney general, Sessions, said he had no reason of something not to believe the women. They were credible.


But I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. But there's a lot of stories there. There's a lot of smoke. Got to be some fire somewhere.

TAPPER: Your fellow Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is head of the Senate Republican campaign arm, the NRSC, he is calling for Roy Moore to be expelled if he wins the election on Tuesday.

Back in November, Gardner said in a statement -- quote -- "If Moore refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate." Do you agree?

SHELBY: Well, if he wins on Tuesday, the Senate, under the Powell case out of the Supreme Court, will have to seat him. And we will see what happens after that.

But I want to reiterate again I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.

TAPPER: Would it be appropriate for the Senate to launch an Ethics Committee investigation if he wins?

SHELBY: Well, I -- I understand that's already being contemplated.

But that would be up to the leadership and others to do that. I think that the Senate has to look at who is fit to serve in the Senate.

TAPPER: President Trump obviously is all in on Roy Moore. He recorded a robo-call for him. He had a rally in Pensacola, Florida, just across the state line, on Friday, where he urged his supporters to vote for Moore, while also condemning his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.

Take a listen to the president.


TRUMP: He will never, ever vote for us. We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our make America great again agenda.

So, get out and vote for Roy Moore.


TRUMP: Do it. Do it.


TAPPER: If Roy Moore wins on Tuesday, I think it's fair to say that it will be because President Trump supported him.

Do you wish President Trump had not provided cover for Roy Moore, that he stayed out of the race?

SHELBY: I think Roy Moore has a -- has his own following, regardless of whether the president is involved or others.

I don't know what is going to happen Tuesday. It depends on the turnout, and go from there. But I do believe -- and I'm going to say it again -- the Republicans could do better.

TAPPER: Your Democratic colleague Al Franken resigned from the Senate on Thursday after a wave of allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Take a listen to what he said in his resignation speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving, while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.


TAPPER: Do the Democrats have a higher standard for code of -- for behavior and conduct than the Republicans do?

SHELBY: Absolutely not.

And I think you will see all this play out. I believe, whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, whatever you are, that you would not put up with the conduct, bad conduct, from a Democrat or a Republican.

And that is going to part of the -- what is going to happen in the future. The Senate is going to have to weigh, if Roy Moore wins, his fitness to serve in the U.S. Senate.

TAPPER: And let's turn to the economy.

Obviously, right now, tax -- taxes, the tax bill, is in conference committee or is about to enter conference committee.

Take a listen to something President Trump on Friday.


TRUMP: Economic growth last quarter surged to 3.3 percent. The stock market is hitting an all-time high record for another -- and think of this -- 86 times since Election Day.


TAPPER: As the president just noted, the economy is doing quite well in many respects.

Democrats say, why do you need to give a tax cut to big businesses and the wealthy if the economy is doing so well?

What do you say to that?

SHELBY: Well, first of all, I don't believe that tax bill is just for a few people. It's for a lot.

It's -- it's a lot of relief for a lot of the working people and middle class. It's probably something for just about everybody in the bill. That's how legislation comes about. I plan to support the bill when it comes out of conference committee. I voted for it before. I think it's a step in the right direction.

TAPPER: He says it's going to boost the economy, though. And I guess the question is, does the economy even need boosting?

SHELBY: Well, the economy is good now, but it could be better.

There's probably $5 trillion lying around in saving accounts and bank accounts in this country that -- looking for a better investment. We can grow this economy more. We have to prove that we can. And I believe we will.


TAPPER: Senator Shelby, thank you so much for joining us.

SHELBY: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: If I don't see you before, Merry Christmas, and have a happy new year, sir.

SHELBY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Violent clashes erupting after President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and now some new fallout for the U.S., as Vice President Pence is being snubbed.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, will be here to talk about that coming up next.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Violent protests this morning near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, after President Trump's decision earlier this week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Riot police clashed with protesters, some of whom threw stones toward the gate of the embassy and burned Israeli flags.

A new diplomatic fallout as well this morning. The Arab League is condemning the move by President Trump, saying -- quote -- "The transformation of the policy of the United States of America toward Jerusalem is a dangerous development. And the United States has placed itself on the side of occupation, the violation of law and international resolutions. And, as a result, it has isolated itself from the sponsorship and mediation of the peace process" -- unquote.


Joining me now is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

Madam Ambassador, always good to see you. Thank you.

The Arab League says this move has -- quote -- "isolated the U.S. from the peace process." Your administration, of course, has made peace in the Middle East one of its top priorities. How does this move help that? How does it help the peace process in any way?

HALEY: Well, let's, first of all, talk about what this does.

This basically says that the United States acknowledges that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem, and saying also that the embassy is going to be moved to the capital, just like it is in almost every other country.

In Israel, in Jerusalem, you have got the Parliament, you have got the president, you have got the prime minister, you have got the Supreme Court. So, why shouldn't we have the embassy there?

Secondly, I will tell you that, for 22 years, you have had presidents and the American people ask for the embassy to be moved. And no president, not -- not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama, actually made -- had the courage to make that move and listen to the will of the American people.

The Senate just overwhelmingly again voted to have the embassy moved. So, the president did the will of the people.

When it comes to those that are upset, we knew that was going to happen. But courage does cause that. When you make a decision, you are going to have some that see it negatively and you're going to have some that see it positively.

But I strongly believe this is going to move the ball forward for the peace process.

TAPPER: How is it going to move the ball forward for the peace process?

One of the things that has been pointed out -- first of all, let me just say that I'm sure Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama would dispute the idea that this was -- that they didn't do it because of courage.

But, putting that aside, President Trump is supposed to be a master negotiator. Isn't this just cashing in a chit and getting nothing for it?

How does this move the peace process forward in any way?

HALEY: Not at all.

And I will tell you, all the presidents wanted to do it, and everyone around them kept saying, don't do it, don't do it. This president said, for 22 years, that waiting didn't help us. Now let's try and move the ball.

What I will tell you is, you know, you have to look at the situation, that he just took Jerusalem off the table. He just took it off the table. So, now they get to come together. They get to decide what the

borders will look like. They get to decide the boundaries. And they get to talk about how they want to see Jerusalem going forward.

All we did was say, this is not something that we're going to allow to happen in the middle of your negotiations. You come together, and you decide what you want from the Israelis and the Palestinians for the peace process to look like. And that's what we're going to continue to do.

And in terms of the Arab League, yes, they have said that, but we have a whole lot more in common with the Arab League than we have ever had before. And, mainly, that's because of our fight against Iran.

And so, you know, while this is one issue they disagree with, there's a whole lot of other issues that we are working very closely with them on.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to something that Dr. Saeb Erekat, the PLO secretary-general, said after President Trump's decision.


SAEB EREKAT, SECRETARY-GENERAL, PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION: I think, tonight, he's strengthening the forces of extremists in this region as no one has done before.

This is an act, a statement that is totally uncalled for, totally unacceptable, is a total violation of international law, human rights. And he's turning the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis from a political one into a religious one.

That's a very dangerous situation.


TAPPER: Do you have no concerns that this decision is going to weaken the moderate voices in the Arab world and strengthen the zealots?

HALEY: No, because -- I have no concern, because what they mostly care about and what is their priority right now is Iran.

And we are in lockstep with them. And we have done a great job of talking about how we're going to fight extremists.

You know, Jake, when the president made this comment on Wednesday, everybody said the sky was going to fall. So, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the sky is still up there. It hasn't fallen.

It is maybe human nature for some to say, this is terrible, this is terrible, but what if this actually moved the ball forward?


You keep... HALEY: And that's what the American people...

TAPPER: But, Madam Secretary, you keep saying that, and I still don't see how it moves the ball forward in terms of the peace process.

All you have done, all the president has done is remove something from the table that could have been used to either force the Israelis to concede something or force the Palestinians to concede something.

HALEY: Because we have had conversations with both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

We have had great negotiations in that -- in that respect, and we're going continuing do that.

And for those who want to say this is a bad idea, I will tell you, ask us five and 10 years from now if you still think it's a bad idea, because I really do that this is going to move the ball in the peace process.

And what this does just say what is real. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. What is wrong with saying it?

TAPPER: What about East Jerusalem?

HALEY: The American people have agreed with that.

TAPPER: But what about East Jerusalem? This is...

HALEY: We did not talk about boundaries or borders for a reason.

And that's because whatever is East Jerusalem or any other part, that's between the Palestinians and the Israelis. That's not for the Americans to decide. The Americans just said, we want our embassy in the capital. And that capital in Jerusalem.


TAPPER: I still don't see how it moves the peace process forward.

But I do want to get to North...

HALEY: That's OK. It will move the peace process forward, and I will come back and tell you I told you so.

TAPPER: OK. Well, I await that booking.

Let's turn to North Korea, though.

President Trump spoke about diplomatic efforts in North Korea Friday night at a rally in Florida.

Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: As part of a campaign of maximum pressure on the vile dictatorship of North Korea, we have imposed the toughest ever sanctions passed by the United Nations Security Council.

And we have a lot of other sanctions. But, you know, I don't know that sanctions are going to work with him. We got to give it a shot. You know, we will see.


TAPPER: Just days ago, North Korea launched an ICBM that theoretically could hit the continental U.S.

You and President Trump keep talking about these toughest ever sanctions. But, with all due respect, it doesn't seem to be making any difference in North Korea's behavior. Is there any evidence at all that this approach is working?

HALEY: Well, I think you have to look at, what did the sanctions do?

They cut off 90 percent of the trade, 30 percent of the oil. But every ounce of revenue that North Korea receives, they put towards their nuclear program. So, the fact that the sanctions have completely squeezed them, that is less money they can put towards that nuclear program now.

So, whether people can't see it, it is helping us tremendously to not have them have the cash that they normally would have had. This is a serious situation. The missile that they launched not too long ago was much stronger than the one we had seen before. They have made progress.

But what we have managed to do is, the United States has led, and the international community is all with us in isolating North Korea. That's a very important move. They feel it. They are getting paranoid. They are stressed out about it. But we are going to continue keep up the pressure, because we have to.

TAPPER: Speaking of sanctions, back in August, the president signed a bill -- kind of forced to sign it -- that was a bill that passed overwhelmingly by Congress sanctioning Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

It's now December, and those sanctions have yet to be implemented. Why is President Trump, why is the Trump administration dragging its feet and delaying these sanctions against Russia for the election interference?

HALEY: Well, from what I have been told, the State Department says they have gone forward with the sanctions on Russia.

And so I don't know anything about what you're talking about, because the State Department has said they have fully implemented that.

TAPPER: President Trump attended the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday after two prominent black congressmen, including civil rights leader John Lewis, said they would not be attending because of President Trump's presence.

In a statement, they wrote -- quote -- "President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum" -- unquote.

Now, I know you're the U.N. ambassador, but you -- before that, you were also a South Carolina governor, and you were there during an important moment for the country and for South Carolina when it came to racial healing and reconciliation.

Do you think President Trump should do more, beyond simply attending a museum opening, to show that he actually stands for and believes in the values of the civil rights movement?

HALEY: Well, I can tell you this.

The idea of race is a very sensitive one. And racial issues are extremely -- we have to be very careful with racial issues, because they're personal.

What I do believe is, we all have to continue to work to improve race relations. That's something that we all want as Americans. I think the president made a first step really trying to go out there to recognize the civil rights that people fought for, to look at this museum, and to try and really reach out.

I wish they would have joined him in that, but that is something that we just have to continue to do. We have to continue to bring both sides together and say, how are we going to heal? How are we going to move forward?

TAPPER: Madam Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.

If I don't see you, Merry Christmas, happy new year.

HALEY: Merry Christmas, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: New attempts by Russian operatives to infiltrate President Trump's inner circle even after the 2016 election. It got to the point where the FBI stepped in.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia is here to discuss that next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Russian operatives made repeated attempts during the presidential transition to contact a senior adviser to the president, according to a new report in "The New York Times."

The report says that FBI officials warned Hope Hicks earlier this year about the Russian outreach, saying that two Russian operatives had contacted her by e-mail.

The new reporting shows yet another example of Russian attempts to infiltrate President Trump's inner circle even after the 2016 election.

Here with me to talk about this and much more, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congress Adam Schiff of California.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

I want to start with this new report about Russian efforts to contact Hope Hicks.

What do you make of this continued effort to permeate President Trump's inner circle?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, without getting into the specifics of that allegation, we do know that the Russians throughout the campaign were making overreach -- outreach to the campaign.

They continued that during the transition, including some of the people they had talked to during the campaign, and obviously even after that point.

So, this is part of a concerted Russian influence operation, that it -- that never stopped. We have also seen a lot of what we saw during the campaign in terms of Russian social media intervention never stopped.

The only issue I took when James Comey testified that the Russians will be back is, they have never left, in terms of certain parts of their active measures campaign.

But it is not at all a surprise that they would make outreach out to people they thought would have influence in the administration and misrepresent who they were and what their agenda was.

TAPPER: Does this report at all undermine the idea that the Russians had already established close contacts within the Trump inner circle? I mean, if they already had done that, why bother reaching out to Hope Hicks?


SCHIFF: Well, the Russian tradecraft is to try to find as many entrees as they can to make influence over a foreign government.

So, even though they had good contacts within the administration, and probably none better than Mike Flynn, they were seeking other avenues, other ways to exert influence.

And I think we have seen that as part of a broad pattern, some of which I can't get into here today, but that is very much consistent with Russian tradecraft.

TAPPER: So, you said earlier this week about the Russia investigation -- quote -- "You really have to be trying to look away to say there's no evidence of collusion here."

Now, as far as the public knows, we have seen evidence of Russian hacking, according to the intelligence community. We've seen the Russians dangling these e-mails, these damaging e-mails, before contacts with the Trump team or members of the Trump team.

And we've seen members of the Trump team expressing willingness to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. But we haven't seen the actual connection. We haven't seen an actual proof of cooperation and collusion.

So, what am I missing here?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, I think you have to look at the pattern and the chronology.

You have, in late April, the Russians approaching the Trump campaign and saying, we have stolen Hillary Clinton e-mails. You have only weeks later the Russians making another approach to the campaign, this time at the highest levels, offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.


SCHIFF: The campaign already on notice that they have e-mails.

You then have the message going back from the campaign to the Russians, basically, we would love to have your help, we would love to play ball, but we are really disappointed in what you gave us.

And only days later, Julian Assange announces he's received stolen e- mails, which we know now came from the Russians. And the Russians themselves start publishing the e-mails through these cut-outs.

You then have Trump Jr. in private, secret communication with WikiLeaks.

So, we have all these facts in chronology. You would have to be believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other. It just doesn't make rational sense.

Now, can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt will be Mueller's question to answer that the Russians communicated to the campaign that the way they were going to deliver the help they offered and that the campaign accepted was not by handing the e-mails directly over to the campaign, but by publishing them?

That will be up to Mueller, and we continue to try to fill in all of the missing pieces. But we do know this. The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help.

And that's pretty damming, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.

TAPPER: Do you know of any instance where the Russians said, we're going to do it this way, we're going to do it through WikiLeaks, we're going to do it through DCLeaks, this is how we're going to get this information out there?

SCHIFF: I can't comment. That's an issue that we have been investigating. And I don't want to comment at this point or not what the state of that evidence is.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

He removed an FBI agent over the summer from his team after text messages that this agent sent reportedly revealed an anti-Trump bias. Another top member of Mueller's team's investigators, Andrew Weissmann, sent an e-mail to Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, congratulating her for refusing to enforce the Trump travel ban.

And according to "The Wall Street Journal," Weissmann also attended Hillary Clinton's election night party in New York.

Can you understand, if the situations were reversed, why Republicans would look at these facts and say, boy, there might really be a problem with bias in the Mueller investigation?

SCHIFF: You know, Jake, the fact is, the circumstances have been reversed in probably a far more significant way.

And that is, we know now that, at the same time that James Comey was openly talking about a Hillary Clinton investigation, including up until days before the election, he was not disclosing to the public that there was also an investigation of the Trump campaign.

That is far more significant than any of these text messages, from my point of view. Now, I don't think that was because James Comey had a political axe to grind or was doing this in a partisan way. I do think it was an error in judgment. And I think it is perfectly appropriate for us to do oversight of how that investigation was conducted.

But the intent here is not to do oversight. The intent here is nothing short of discrediting Mueller, then discrediting the Justice Department, then discrediting the FBI, then discrediting the judiciary, should the judiciary convict some of the people that Mueller has charged or may charge in the future.

This is an effort to tear at the very idea that there is an objective truth. And I think this president, in astonishing speed, has remade the Republican Party in his own deeply flawed image. And that will be ruinous to the Republican Party.

But, as we depend on a two-party system with two functional parties, it will also be deeply damaging to the country. The discrediting of our institutions, of the justice system, the judiciary, the press, is enormously destructive.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, if I don't see you before Tuesday, happy Hanukkah and happy new year to you, sir. SCHIFF: And to you as well.

TAPPER: President Obama has a stark warning for Americans, stay vigilant or risk a similar path to that of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.


That story is next.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, presumably, there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked pretty sophisticated, 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. An entire world was plunged into chaos.

So you got a pay attention and vote.


TAPPER: As President Obama -- former President Obama seemingly warning people that they need to stay engaged, they need to stay -- pay attention, otherwise Nazi Germany could happen.

I'm here with the panel.


Amanda, kind of a stark example for President Obama to sight. And I know some conservatives are offended by it. What do you think?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think history is rich with examples of disgraceful leadership. And this is a form intellectual laziness that I don't expect from President Obama.

If you want to draw historical analogy, I would probably stick to Watergate (INAUDIBLE) that helped (ph) Nixon carry that out. But if he does draw on history, I mean, let's descend into Godwin's law from a president he could do better.

TAPPER: What do you think, Nina?

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, the president's main message was, we have to tend, I think it was his exact words where we have to tend to the garden of democracy. That was really his point. And he can use any example that he chooses.

The bottom line is that he's talking about consciousness within society that we can never lose sight of, that we must continue to fight for our higher selves. And that was mainly his point, that we can dissipate to the ugly side of humanity if we are not careful. TAPPER: Marc?

MARC LOTTER, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I hope he's not referring to his political opponent in comparing him with Nazi Germany. I'm going to hope for the best.

But really we have got to learn to disagree without being disagreeable again as Americans. And we can disagree with people in policy, we don't have to disagree or consider them our enemies.

TAPPER: Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that we have to look at what happened next, what he said next. Because after this he still talked about the fact that from the United States is an emerging narrative that the rest of the world still looks up to.

He talked about the rule of law. He talked about border. He talked about the intellect and the science and the technology and all of these emerging things that are coming from the United States of America.

But there are a lot of us who are concerned about the fact that the norms, the fundamental norms of democracy, the fundament tenet of our democracy are being preyed upon daily by this administration. And people who are neglectful and don't want to look that in the eye or just being naive or dishonest. And so it may have been an interesting example.

It may have been one that people want to shy away from. However, it is not historical. It's not -- it doesn't lack any fact. In fact, it is very much true.

TAPPER: Speaking of societal norms, let's turn to the Alabama Senate race and Roy Moore. A very important part of whether or not Doug Jones can pull this off will be if he can turn out the black vote. In Alabama the African-American population there makes up about 27 percent of Alabama.

An article in "The Washington Post" said, in order to win the black vote Doug Jones is going to need to win the black vote at a rate close to Barack Obama.

Do you think that Doug Jones can pull this off, Bakari? It seems like a pretty tall order.

SELLERS: About two weeks ago I would have told you no. Now I'm in the category firming believing that Doug Jones can win this race. It is an extremely tall order because the black voting age population at the end of this race has to be about 27 percent.

The polls that have them up two to three percent have it at about 23, 25 percent. The polls that have them down had it at about 17 percent.

I don't know how many people at this table or watching today have actually voted in December. I have never voted in December. I mean, it's very atypical to vote in December and it's a very difficult time.

But I can tell you this, that we spent a lot of time on CNN and every other network talking about Roy Moore. But Doug Jones is in Alabama talking about Doug Jones.

He's talking about rebuilding hospitals that are falling apart. He's talking about jobs in the black belt. He's encouraging African- Americans to come out to vote.

And it going to be a tough haul. But on Tuesday, we're talking about Alabama. And Alabama is going to be a close race.

TAPPER: Marc, President Trump is -- a lot of Republicans disagree with his decision to back Roy Moore.

You heard Richard Shelby, the senior senator from Alabama, earlier in the show say he didn't vote for Roy Moore. He believes the women who have charged and made allegations against Roy Moore.

What is the reason beyond pure partisan politics keeping that seat Republican to support somebody who is so controversial and who has had so many credible charges against him?

LOTTER: I think you heard Senator Shelby say it as well, he did not vote for the Democrat. He wants to see a Republican in that seat.

TAPPER: Just not that one.

LOTTER: Right. And that's the way he phrased that.

And I think that is what you have seen the president say and a lot of others is that, this seat is important and we need someone representing Alabama. And ultimately, Alabama will decide who they believe better represents their policy positions in Washington, D.C.

Whether that is Judge Moore or whether that is Doug Jones. And we'll find out.

TAPPER: The president has gone a lot farther than that though, to be honest. I mean, the president is out there saying, vote for him. That's not what Shelby said.

CARPENTER: Yes. Well, interestingly enough, Richard Shelby wouldn't even say who he wrote in as a candidate. I mean, how can you count any kind of opposition to Roy Moore if Richard Shelby will not say who you voted for?

But what I think is interesting about this race is that you are seeing the power of the presidency, they have done an effective job of keeping Roy Moore quiet and sending in the big guns which are now President Trump and Steve Bannon. And President Trump is formulating a strong 2020 generic argument against the Democrats.

He said repeatedly in interviews that the Democrats, pick any one of them, whether it is Doug Jones or anybody else are bad on immigration, bad for the military, bad on spending, will raise your taxes. He has gotten his playbook down and that is very convincing argument for Alabama voters.

TAPPER: What do you think? I mean, do you think that the Democrats can actually pull this off over the weekend?


Several prominent African-American politicians, Democrats, Kamala Harris from California, Cory Booker from New Jersey, Deval Patrick formerly the governor of Massachusetts, hit the trail for Jones, can that make a difference?

TURNER: I mean, we are giving it a try. And all the politicians are bringing in the big folks, so to speak, but this really comes down to how you cultivate a relationship with voters over the long haul.

Democrats tend to shy away from red states, purely for political reasons, and hopefully we're learning now that we definitely need a 50-state strategy. And that strategy has to be year after year after year and not just when we get in a situation like this.

And then further, for Democrats to always have to balance whether they win or lose on the backs of African-Americans is particularly troubling to me. It is crack the glass or break the glass in case of emergency.

Now, we do have a real emergency now, but I think the party can go a long way, especially the national party, and cultivate in building the state parties every single year so that when we have situations like this, you already have built a strong relationship with the voters that you're asking to come out to vote. And not have to try to rally or push people out last minute.

TAPPER: Marc, can you not understand why Republicans like Cory Gardner, the senator from Colorado, think that Roy Moore ultimately even if it keeps that seat, if he wins and that seat is (INAUDIBLE) Republican hands, that it actually will do damage to the Republican brand?

LOTTER: Many people have said these are very troubling allegations. And many asked for Judge Moore to leave the race right after they first surfaced. He did not do so, which really there's nothing that we can do to force him to be able to do that.

But what we're seeing is really playing out on a policy level for all of the voters in Alabama. And we're seeing it, if you can't have a candidate that's going to win enough votes that you can take a very difficult situation in this case, you have got to work on your overall message and strategy.

SELLERS: That's fundamentally the problem with this country right now. Marc just highlighted it and I'm not even sure he realized he highlighted it. Because Republicans right now, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, everyone else from top down are putting policy over the moral fabric of our country.

Like, what does the Republican Party stand for? Even more specifically, what do white evangelicals in the south and probably throughout this country stand for that you can turn a blind eye to someone who's charged credibly with pedophilia, charged credibly with preying on children that you say, oh my God, I'd rather have vote for tax cut than somebody who is actually a good person?

And to Nina's point one of the things that Doug Jones has going for there has been no clear dichotomy of any election that we've had in recent history. You have someone who literally imprisoned Eric Rudolph. You have someone who actually imprisoned the people who bombed the 16th street Baptist Church versus someone who, you know, thinks that slavery was a good time period for African-Americans and all of us.

And someone who as Ivanka Trump said is the worst part of America because they prey on children. I would ask you to rethink your position or have your party rethink their position on whether or not it is policy or what we want the moral fiber of our country to be. That's a problem for me.

TAPPER: Amanda, you're a Republican who has been struggling with this Trump era, especially when it comes to the standards of personal behavior. What is your take on the idea that the Republican Party is so set on achieving its policy goals it's willing to look away and ignoring serious charges as Bakari just said, do you agree with this take?

CARPENTER: I don't agree with all of it, but I agree with some of it.

There are some Republicans, friends of mine, who have made the decision that the politics are so toxic and damaged right now we will talk a flawed actor in office if they are a means of achieving the policy goals that we want. And honestly I can't look at a Republican voter who says abortion is my number one voting issue.

Tell them to vote for a Democrat who is pro-choice and will support abortion at 20 weeks or more. If that is their highest voting issue which it is to many Republicans who will go with the Roy Moore, knowing that he is a flawed candidate, because they deeply care about that issue.

And so my anger and my frustration is faced towards the Republican Party leaders who don't give us better choices. The Republican Party in Alabama had mechanisms to change the race, to change the election, would have been drastic -- there have been people that would have been upset? Yes, but they had the means to do it.

Just as Republicans did at the convention, to at least have a roll call vote to voice opposition to Donald Trump and they didn't do it. So my anger is at the leaders in the Republican Party that create these conditions, not the voters that have to grapple with them.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all for being here.

Chuck and Nancy, Roy Moore, Vladimir Putin, who is on the president's nice list this year? And who has been naughty? It's complicated. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" coming up next



TAPPER: Welcome back with just 15 days until Christmas. There is not much time left to get on Santa's good side but Santa Claus is not the only one with the naughty or nice list. And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): He's making a list and he's checking it twice.

But for Santa Trump determining who is naughty or nice, that's complicated.

Take Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore who has been accused of sexually abusing at least two teenagers. Now that might land him on Santa Claus' naughty list but Santa Trump?

TRUMP: He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also.

TAPPER: OK. So Moore is denying it but what about a man who admits to things like murder? Say Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte? Well, he's also in Santa Trump's nice column.

TRUMP: We have had a great relationship. This has been very successful.

TAPPER: And speaking of human rights abuses, what about the big guy himself, Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think it's going very well.

TAPPER: OK. That's the nice list. But don't bother checking your stocking if you have been naughty.

TRUMP: They're filled with West Virginia coal.


TAPPER: Starting with two former pals.

TRUMP: I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

TAPPER: Lumps of coal for Chuck and Nancy.

Santa Trump also thinks that former FBI director James Comey has been naughty. Comey probably has the president on the list of his own.

TRUMP: Director Comey was very unpopular with most people.

TAPPER: And one year later the person who still is number one on the Trump naughty list --

TRUMP: If Hillary runs again in four years which I hope she does, we're going to teach her unbelievably nasty, really nasty.


TAPPER: All time highs on Wall Street and dropping unemployment numbers the economy is roaring by many measures and President Trump is taking full credit but is the bubble about to burst? That's next.