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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jones: "Gracious" Call from President Trump after Historic Dem Win; Interview with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Aired on 8- 8:30p ET
Aired December 13, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight keeping them honest with the president offering a number of excuses for why Roy Moore lost in Alabama, none of them assigning any blame to the candidate being an alleged sex offender, or to the president's endorsement of him. The loss is a significant one, of course. For the first time in 25 years, Alabama, among the reddest of the red states, has elected a Democrat, Doug Jones, to the United States Senate.
Alabama overwhelmingly voted for President Trump last year. Roy Moore has not conceded the election, we should point out. He says when the vote is this close, it's not over.
When the news broke last night that Jones won, the president tweeted this: Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard-fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great and the Republicans will another shot in a very short time. It never ends.
Which is, fair to say, a quite very gracious tweet from the president of the United States.
Then came the tweet this morning, quote, the reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange and his numbers went up mightily is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the general election. I was right. Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him.
Now, it is true that the president originally endorsed Luther Strange. That part of the tweet is true, and it's worth noting that after Strange lost, the president deleted a bunch of tweets that supported strange and that's pretty much what we're seeing here. The president trying to distance himself now from his own endorsement saying he always thought 2Moore couldn't win and only as president Trump can do, twist this major loss into some personal victory of being right.
Now, you might remember, he said something similar when after months of questioning President Obama's birthplace, then Mr. Obama produced his birth certificate, Mr. Trump congratulated himself.
Now, the president didn't think Moore would be able to win. He could have done a lot of other things. He could have not weighed in. He could have, as the White House initially and repeatedly said, left it to the voters of Alabama to decide. He could have stayed out of it especially after the child molestation acquisition, made an endorsement politically treacherous. He could have called for Moore to step aside like many Republicans did.
But no, the president did not stay out of it. He did not offer some passive endorsement. He went all-in. He tweeted at least five times dating back to Moore's primary win.
Roy, win in December. He will help make America great again. We need Republican Roy Moore to win. And twice in last five days, vote Roy Moore in all caps.
And he endorsed him on camera. This was the first time back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.
REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? He's an accused child molester.
TRUMP: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, last week, he said this about Moore's chances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think he's going to do very well. We don't want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The president did not campaign in Alabama, but he got about as close as you could without actually being in Alabama. At a campaign style rally in Pensacola, about 15 miles from the Alabama border, the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. So, get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the president also made a robocall for Roy Moore.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hi, this is President Donald Trump and I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore. It is so important. Roy Moore is the guy we need to pass our make America great again agenda. Roy is a conservative who will help me steer this country back on track after eight years of the Obama disaster. Get out and vote for Roy Moore.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: The president can try to rewrite, retweet or re-imagine history but his ringing endorsements of Roy Moore, they can't be erased.
Senator-elect Doug Jones says he's gotten calls from his future colleagues in Washington, on both sides of the aisle and also a congratulations call from the president.
I want to give get the latest now from the White House and CNN's Jim Acosta.
Do we know what the president said to Senator-elect Doug Jones?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, all we know is what we heard from Doug Jones earlier today, at this press conference, that this was a gracious call, that the president invited him over to the White House and that they talked about finding common ground sometime in the future when Doug Jones gets to Washington.
Anderson, if they can find common ground after that election, that will be a welcome sight here in Washington because there's not much of that these days.
COOPER: In terms of finger-pointing, how much is Steve Bannon on the end of that now?
ACOSTA: Anderson, there's plenty. And I will tell you, I talked to a senior GOP congressional source earlier today who said that this was devastating for the White House but even more so for Steve Bannon, that his credibility is, quote, shot up on Capitol Hill.
[20:05:02] And, of course, this is a critical time not only for the president but for Steve Bannon because Steve Bannon had this idea, this dream of going against the GOP establishment in 2018. The Republican Party is now basically telling him, no, that's not going to happen.
But interestingly, Anderson, I talked to a Republican source close to the White House this evening who said that Steve Bannon is taking this hard, that he took it hard, what happened last night in Alabama and that he's going around telling people today, well, the establishment was just against Roy Moore, that everybody was out to get Roy Moore.
That is the public face that he's putting out there but privately he took it hard, according to the source I talked to a while ago, Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it, from the White House. Thanks so much.
ACOSTA: You bet. COOPER: Before air, I spoke to Senator Bernie Sanders about Jones' win in Alabama and about a tentative deal on the tax plan struck by House and Senate Republicans.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, Doug Jones' win, I'm wondering what you think it means for the Democratic Party, especially as we look at 2018?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think it's very significant. Not only because his victory in itself is important and Doug Jones coming to the Senate is very important. What Alabama was about last night was a tremendous amount of energy and a very high turnout. What I have always believed is when people are prepared to get involved in the political process, stand up and fight, there is nothing that we cannot do and against all of the odds, Jones won because there was a very, very large turnout.
Anderson, you'll recall that the Alabama election officials were talking about a 25 percent turned out that to be close to 40 percent. The African-American turnout was extraordinary. When people stand up and fight back, you can win even in a conservative state like Alabama. We can do this all over America. That's what we've got to do.
COOPER: There are some who say -- you can't read too much into it -- that the race was an anomaly because of the kind of candidate Roy Moore was. I mean, it's not every day that a candidate has been accused of child abuse and child molestation.
SANDERS: Yes, I think there is truth to that.
On the other hand, if you look at what happened on November 7th, all across this country, you saw high voter turnouts, you saw people running for office who never ran before, young people, working people, who are prepared to stand up and say Trump's vision for America is not our vision and last night was a defeat for Trump. November 7th was a defeat for Trump.
And I think if we can mobilize the American people to demand we have a government that works for all of us and not just the 1 percent, that we end the divisiveness that Trump has been advocating, I think we can win tremendous victories in 2018.
COOPER: You know, you talked about the support from the African- American community which played a big role in Jones' win. We heard last night from a number of people, Charles Barkley was a supporter for Doug Jones and Bakari Sellers who said the National Democratic Party has taken the African-American voters, their support, for granted, and that Doug Jones did not do that, that he laid foundation that he has been doing the work for years and years and years.
Do you think that's true that nationally, the Democratic Party, particularly in the southern states, but has taken African-Americans for granted? SANDERS: I think there is significant truth to that and I think also
there is another truth. In my view, too much of Democratic party money has gone to consultants, maybe too much to TV advertising and not enough to grassroots get out to vote organizing, getting into the communities. And it seems to me that what Jones did, working with the African-American leadership in the state of Alabama is due to grassroots efforts, going door to door and explaining to the people the importance of that election. That's what we've got to do all over the country.
COOPER: I want to ask you about the tax bill because we're learning more details about this consensus bill between House and Senate Republicans. The corporate tax rate will go down from 35 percent to 21 percent, slight uptick from the Senate bill. It will also include a major tax cut for upper income households.
Does any of this surprise you at all?
SANDERS: No. Look, Anderson, let us be clear, this tax bill was written for wealthy Republican campaign contributors. There was some 5,000 lobbyists here in Washington, D.C., working on this bill in the Senate bill. I haven't seen the full bill yet, the new bill.
In the Senate bill, 62 percent of the tax benefits went to the top 1 percent, 42 percent went to the top one tenth of one percent. Meanwhile, in ten years, in the Senate bill, 83 million middle-class families are going to be paying more in taxes. This is an absurd piece of legislation at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, what we need to do is pay attention to the middle-class and working families, not the billionaire class.
COOPER: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, your colleague, calling for Doug Jones to be seated before the vote on the tax bill. Is that at all realistic? Because all of the indications are that the vote could happen as soon as next week.
[20:10:02] SANDERS: Well, listen, the Republicans are trying to push this thing forward as quickly as possible. As you may know, they have not had one public hearing on it. They want to do it before the American people fully understand how bad this piece of legislation is.
Now, the precedent here is when Scott Brown of Massachusetts was elected to replace the late Ted Kennedy, he was allowed to participate in voting on the Affordable Care Act. That's the precedent there. And I think Schumer is exactly right in saying that Mitch McConnell should give Doug Jones the same opportunity.
This is an important piece of legislation. The people of Alabama voted for a Senate candidate who said he would oppose this legislation. Their voices should be heard in this debate.
COOPER: But even if Roy Moore had been elected, he wouldn't have been seated until late December, early January as well, right? I mean, you know --
SANDERS: Yes, but the point is -- COOPER: It's fair to say politics are at play here.
SANDERS: Yes. But the point is, you don't have to move this bill as quickly as they are moving it. They are moving this at lightning speed because they don't want the American people to know what's in it.
The other point to be made here is, while they're moving so quickly on giving tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations, they have not yet gotten around to the Children's Health Insurance Program, 9 million children on that program, low-income, working-class kids who get their health care through that program, yet Republicans have not had the time to reauthorize that bill and refund that bill. Community health centers, 27 million people get their health care through community centers. That bill expired at the end of the fiscal year.
Republicans are very busy giving tax breaks to billionaires, not so concerned about the needs of working families getting the health care they need.
COOPER: Let me ask you about the tweet the president sent out about Senator Gillibrand that she was begging for campaign contributions and would do, quote, anything for them. The White House said it was not sexist at all. I wonder how you read it.
SANDERS: Look, Anderson, what can we say about this president? I think you got a president who has some very serious emotional problems. To say that about a female United States senator is obscene. It is absurd. Everybody knows exactly what he meant.
COOPER: Lastly, there has been a growing number of your Democratic colleagues who have called for President Trump's resignation over allegations of sexual assault. I know you haven't gone that far in the past. I wonder, are you willing to go that far now? Do you think the president should resign?
SANDERS: No. Look, that's what I said. What I said, when Al Franken announced that he was going to resign and I was asked on a TV show my view, I said, look, Franken apologized for what he did. What he did was inappropriate. He apologized for it and then he said, I think I have to resign.
You got a president who has been accused by many, many women of harassment, to say the least. This was a guy who was on a tape seen by everybody in America essentially bragging about his sexual assault of women. Do I think under those considerations of Al Franken resigning, do I think the president should resign? I do. Do I think he will? I don't. But, yes, I do think he should resign.
COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, appreciate your time.
SANDERS: Thank you.
COOPER: Roy Moore's loss is, as we mentioned, a blow to Steve Bannon who campaigned for him in Alabama many times. One Republican congressman today said Bannon looks like a disheveled drunk who walked on to the Republican stage and doesn't belong there. That's from a Republican congressman. We'll talk to the panel about that and what Doug Jones' win means going forward, next.
And later, Omarosa out at the White House. Reports of major drama playing out as the former "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman leaves her mysteriously undefined White House job suddenly. What we know about her resignation, still to come.
[20:17:23] COOPER: Moore is not conceding the election for a U.S. Senate seat. He told supporters when the vote is this close, it's not over. Alabama secretary of state says it's highly unlikely that Jones wouldn't be certified as a winner. Here's the secretary on CNN's "NEW DAY".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: I know a lot of people say it's never over until it's over, but the margin of victory for Doug Jones at this particular time looks like a very difficult amount of votes to overcome. I think the people of Alabama wanted to make sure that their voice was heard and that their votes were counted, and that's the reason they voted in a record number in this special election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the law certainly isn't just for Moore. You can say it's also for the president, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon who campaigned for Moore.
Today, New York Republican Congressman Peter King said Bannon does not represent anything he stands for him as a conservative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: This is not even so much as a political issue, almost as a moral issue. This guy does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered onto the stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is former campaign adviser Stuart Stevens and CNN political commentators Mary Katharine Ham and Jack Kingston.
Stuart Stevens, I mean, you heard what Congressman King said. I don't know if you want to come in on his characterization. But just in general about what King is saying about Steve Bannon and his role in the Republican Party, how do you see it moving forward?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, look, I think Steve Bannon made the mistake that a lot of people do when they first get involved in politics and you end up working for a campaign that wins, you think people voted for you and not the candidate.
That's not the case. This was particularly toxic in Alabama where Bannon took the stage.
I mean, you had a guy in Jones -- I mean, in Roy Moore who came across as kind of a creepy guy and you combine him with Bannon who comes across as a creepy guy with a drinking problem. I mean, he might as well ended up driving around in a panel van with free candy on the side. It just was daring for people in Alabama not to vote for him and enough to come up on their dare.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Another man, and I don't know if Stuart would agree with this, you think about James Carville. He started wearing blue jeans everywhere he went and then suddenly every consultant that I met for the next 10 years wore blue jeans. So, consultants are kind of like that, disheveled, you know, outsider kind of hip look.
But I think the substance of the matter is that he picked the wrong candidate. He should have done proper operation research and saw this guy was sitting on an explosion, and that's what happened.
COOPER: Mary Katharine, there was another GOP congressional source telling CNN, referring to Steve Bannon saying that his credibility is shot. Do you think that's true or do you think it's too broad?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: Look, I think it took a hit. Anytime you lose, it will take a hit, although as we know many political consultants lose many, many times and are still not out of the game.
[20:20:02] I think there will be an audience for Bannonism. And I think it's up to the rest of the GOP to make an argument to that audience, without condescending to them, to say, look, you got Trump at the head of the party, he's the grenade thrower, he's the fighter, he's the outsider that this part of the base wanted. But it's not working in other places and it's not working in many of the Senate seats and if you lose a lot of those seats, it will be damaging to Trump, who is the person that they support.
I'm not sure that that actually works. You may end up with Bannon- type wins in primaries that do end up torpedoing other Senate races. It's a real risk.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Stuart, this was a very close race. I mean, you can argue, it's certainly close in Alabama, in a red state like Alabama. But had Roy Moore won, even just by a little bit, I'm wondering if people would be saying Steve Bannon was very prescient for continuing to stick by him and this is the next wave of Bannon candidates.
STEVENS: Listen, Anderson, you and I know, everybody knows if Roy Moore had won, Steve Bannon would have been up on that stage last night instead of hiding back in the back room. But listen, I just want to say one thing. You know, those of us who
weren't for Roy Moore who are Republicans, I don't think we really should be patting ourselves on the back too much because this was a race that was won by African-Americans in Alabama, and I think it's just very important, and frankly, moving to me that when there's a call to decency, not for the first time, black Alabamians saved Alabama from their worst extinct. I mean, they voted in record numbers. They won the day yesterday and I think that's just a tremendous step in this long civil rights march that Alabama has been at the center of.
HAM: I think there's another thing at play here, though, which is and I don't want to take away from that. I think Democrats did a really good job with the GOTV, with black Alabamians specifically.
But there's also this part where they have taken, the GOP looks like it's taken college-educated white moms, married women who they normally do well with in the exurbs and suburbs, and turning them into essentially what might be a swing vote. And if that happens, if that holds in the future, it happened a little in Virginia, now it's happened in deep red Alabama, despite -- this is a uniquely bad candidate but that's a pattern that will not help them.
COOPER: What do they do about that, though?
HAM: Well, as I was saying, I think there has to be an appeal to the more Trump-friendly base to say, look, we need candidates who will bring these folks back in because the GOP cannot win without some of these particularly married women as a bloc that they've done well with in the past. They're losing them in margin --
COOPER: Do you think it has to do with the president himself and the accusations against him?
HAM: Yes, I think it does. But if you look at places where Ron Johnson won ahead of Trump, there are instances where they can do well in those sectors, but they have to play a different kind of game, very different from the president.
KINGSTON: And they have to have a really good ground game. One of the big winners yesterday really was Mayor Woodfin of Birmingham. If you look at his election, he -- even know he was a Hillary state chairman, he utilized the Sanders network, working families party and they had grassroots and tied in other coalitions that Bernie Sanders had and the union vote and I think he -- because he was just elected, he had this great ground game.
And, by the way, remember, he beat a fellow Democrat. So, he put to work, I think, his maybe liberal ideological team who were already in place and they knew how to go, how to get there.
COOPER: Stuart, I mean, if you were advising President Trump now about who do you listen to moving forward, I mean, do you keep running with Steve Bannon, do you start, you know, talking to Mitch McConnell more and listening to him, or listening to Ivanka Trump? I mean, what do you do? STEVENS: Well, you know, I think with the surprise of the Trump
election, those said all of the political rules that we've lived by are thrown out the window, that characteristics like likability and decency and kindness and graciousness, which were really the hallmarks of the Reagan presidency, of the first Bush presidency, those of us who were drawn to the party because of those qualities, they are no longer needed, that they're no longer valued at the ballot box.
I don't think that's the case. And when you look at the candidates that are doing well, these are very likable, decent people who are about bringing people together and not dividing. I mean, say what you will, my friend Ed Gillespie lost in Virginia but he lost to someone who really was very likable and I think Jones is just a very likable, decent guy that you could be for even if you didn't agree with him on every issue.
And I think that's where the political heart of America still beats and I think to look at Trump and say that this is just all thrown out the window would be a mistake, and Bannon is just an angry guy who is trying to ride and prove that it's OK to be angry but it's just -- I just don't think it's appealing to people.
[20:25:05] COOPER: It is interesting because when Bannon left the White House, you know, all of those quotes from him about, we're going to roar and this is, you know -- he's going to be leading the charge on getting Trump-like candidates and races all across the country. I mean, to Stuart's point, Mary Katharine, do you think people just don't want to live in a permanent state of war or want to tear down all institutions?
HAM: No, I think some people do and I think Bannon is one of them and some people will be very receptive. I mean, one of the reasons people were willing to vote for Roy Moore despite the many, many, many things wrong with him as a candidate was that he would upset Republicans in Washington, D.C. That was a feature of this candidate.
So, I think he will continue to find an audience for people who want to throw that grenade but I think, yes, the broader public and that new swing vote we're creating does not respond to that in the same way.
COOPER: Yes. We've got to leave it there. Mary Katharine Ham, Jack Kingston, Stuart Stevens, as always, thank you guys very much.
Also breaking news in the Russia investigation. Two key figures interviewed on Capitol Hill today, what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said about whether Robert Mueller should be fired. Plus, details on Donald Trump Jr.'s interview, next.
[20:30:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight and a big day for the Russia investigation on Capitol Hill. There's two key figures who appeared before two-key committees today. The House Judiciary Committee grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on the Special Counsel's investigation.
Meanwhile, just over an hour ago, Donald Trump Jr. finally finished his interview with Senate Intelligence Community staffers. It was a long day behind closed doors.
Our Jessica Schneider joins us now for the latest. So let's start about Rod Rosenstein coming to the defense of Bob Mueller today.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Anderson, Rosenstein he was unwavering in his support of the Special Counsel and his team throughout that hour's long contentious hearing where Republicans repeatedly alleged political bias, but Rosenstein, you know, pointed out that Robert Mueller had been the FBI director under both Democratic and Republican presidents. And then Rosenstein made it clear that despite Republican criticisms, Mueller would remain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Have you seen good cause to fire Special Counsel Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He also faced tough questions over the FBI agent, Peter Strzok text messages.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. And Rosenstein responded by explaining in his view that political affiliations or opinions, they are different from bias. And he said that he and Special Counsel Mueller they have worked together to ensure that political views are not a factor in an investigation. But that really it hasn't satisfied Republicans and they say that Strzok's texts with an FBI lawyer calling Trump an idiot and loathsome during the campaign, Rob again say, well, that must have impacted his work on the Russia probe from which he was removed this summer and his work on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe where she was ultimately clear.
And, you know, Anderson, now the number two Republican in the Senate John Cornyn, he is calling for Special Counsel Mueller to just clean the house of people on his team who have been politically active, and there are many, and also those who have made comments critical of the President. Anderson?
COOPER: Finally, Donald Trump Jr. in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. What have you learned about that?
SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump Jr. he was behind closed doors for more than nine hours, a marathon session. But really, we don't know much except that top Democrat Mark Warner, he told our Manu Raju that he wants Trump Jr. to come back to the panel to answer questions from senators, not just from staff like he did today.
Senator Warner also would not say if Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege about conversations he had with his father. That's what he did last week with the House Intel Committee and of course that move was heavily criticized.
And of course, with all of this, Anderson, Congressional investigators they want more details on that meeting that Trump Jr. had with the Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower in June 2016. And then of course, answers about his conflicting statements when it was finally uncovered this past summer. Anderson?
COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider. Jessica, thanks for reporting.
Joining me up now is Michael Zeldin, Robert Mueller's former special assistant in the Department of Justice and Ken Cuccinelli from Virginia attorney general.
Michael, did it seem to you that Rosenstein was comfortable with the investigation Mueller is conducting despite saying there's no good cause to remove him?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. It seemed to me that one of the more important conversations he had was they asked him, was he in communication with Mueller and he said yes, that they were coordinating and discussing the matter with him. They wouldn't answer the question about whether his mandate had been expanded, but that Rosenstein felt that Mueller was acting within the scope of their overview that he had given to him and that he was comfortable with it and that he felt that he was operating with a team that was devoid of the type of bias that the Republican Members of Congress were accusing him of.
So in some sense, Rosenstein supported Mueller without hesitation and said that he is in regular contact with Mueller.
ZELDIN: And overseeing Mueller so that there's no sense that this is a renegade, runaway special prosecutor without oversight.
COOPER: All right, Ken, I mean, do you agree with Rosenstein's assessment, that there's no good cause to fire Mueller and do you believe him that he says if there were, he would do it?
KENNETH CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I certainly don't think it's reached that point. I also think the deputy attorney general had to give the answers and as firmly as he gave them today. I mean, the minute there's a crack in that door, it gets kicked open.
And I don't think you'll hear him back off one inch of confidence unless and until -- and I'm not predicting that it will happen, but unless and until he is ready to go down the path of considering removing Mueller for a good cause. And I don't think he is anywhere near that. I don't think, other than having to deal with the headaches that have arisen from his perspective, that he is going that direction.
[20:35:01] And frankly, as much as the President and his team don't appreciate what's going on here, I don't think it would help the President. I think there would be more problems caused by it than solved, even politically.
COOPER: Michael, in terms of the texts about then-candidate Trump for the now fired FBI agent Rosenstein said that in his words, it demonstrates political affiliation and the issue of bias is something different. Is he right there? 2 ZELDIN: I think that is correct. In the scope of one's work as a prosecutor, you encounter FBI agents and other federal prosecutors all have political affiliation. But if you work without, you know, sort of giving deference the politics of your positions in respect of what you're prosecuting, then there's no matter.
I was involved in two pretty politically charged investigations, one the hold of the American hostages in Iran, then second, independent counsel investigation involving George Herbert Walker Bush and then- candidate Clinton. We had Democrats and Republicans on both staff in both of those investigations. It didn't impact our determination of the facts in any way, shape or form.
And I think that Rosenstein is saying that exactly today, people are entitled to the First Amendment to have opinions. If there's no evidence of those opinions are biassing the outcome of their investigation --
CUCCINELLI: Yes, with --
ZELDIN: -- that's so. And that's the way Rosenstein sees it and he says he is talking to Mueller about that. And that if he finds there is a need for removal, as he did in the case of the FBI agent. If you remember --
ZELDIN: -- Mueller removed this guy for appearance problems that they'll do the same thing with any other person.
COOPER: Yes, Ken, what do you think?
CUCCINELLI: Yes, I think that Michael is technically correct and I think the Deputy Attorney General's answers today were technically correct. But this dives headlong into the pool of propriety versus the appearance of impropriety and particularly when the FBI agent in question was also involved in the investigation leading to a very questionable outcome in terms of both process by Comey and the decision Comey made, instead of the Department of Justice, you have the chief of police, federally speaking, making prosecutions decisions in the Hillary Clinton investigation -- that crossover makes this particularly problematic. It's just very, very ugly.
ZELDIN: So may I add one thing to that, which is, with respect to the Hillary Clinton investigation, what Rosenstein testified to is there's an ongoing inspector general investigation of that exactly and that when we get the results of that, we'll know what next steps feed to be taken. And second, that this same FBI agent was removed early in the summer. Mueller remember was only appointed in May.
So when he hears that this guy is on their staff, he removes him immediately so as to avoid the appearance issues that can raise it. So I think that there's a bit of a red herring here with respect to this agent as it relates to the Mueller investigation itself.
CUCCINELLI: Yes, but Michael, you've got to concede that was the end of July and technically, again, I completely agree with you. If Mueller doesn't know something, he can't act on that information. Right? So he learns about this agent, he removes him from the team. But this is no ordinary prosecution. I mean, we've got both the House and the Senate bringing people in and asking them about the same issues at the same time.
I mean, when you have this kind of appearance problem, and surely you'd agree that it's at least an appearance problem, I grant you -- I'll grant you that what Rosenstein said may also be true, just because someone expresses these opinions strongly and so forth doesn't mean they alter their work, but surely you would concede to the American people, people who are don't necessarily believe it's a clean process, this adds fuel to that fire, wouldn't you agree?
ZELDIN: No. I don't think that this agent's --
CUCCINELLI: He won't give in.
COOPER: Michael and then we've got to go.
ZELDIN: No. I don't think this agent's early involvement in the Mueller 2investigation tainted it in any way, shape or form, actually or as a matter of appearance. With respect to the Hillary Clinton e- mails, that's a different matter. We'll see what the inspector general says and then we'll make a decision on what the next steps are with respect to it.
COOPER: All right, Michael Zeldin, Kenneth Cuccinelli, I appreciate, good discussion. Thank you.
ZELDIN: Thank you.
COOPER: When we come back, President Trump's new Twitter target is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who has called for his resignation. We're going to hear from the Senator Mazie Hirono, who calls -- who was calling the President a misogynist and compulsive liar and an admitted sexual predator in response.
[20:43:49] COOPER: Breaking news tonight as you heard at the top of the hour, Senator Bernie Sanders is now calling for Trump's resignation. Take a look at what he said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS (I), SENATOR, VERMONT: Do I think under those considerations of Al Franken resigning, do I think the President should resign? I do. Do I think he will? I don't. But, yes, I do think he should resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He joins a growing group of senators asking the President to step down. One of the first was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. In response to her calls for his resignation, President Trump tweeted this.
"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago and would do anything for them is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked- used."
This morning, Senator Gillibrand was asked on the Today show whether she interpreted that tweet as a sexual reference that she would trade sexual favors for campaign cash. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), SENATOR, NEW YORK: Well, certainly, that's how I -- and many people read it and it was certainly just a sexist smear intended to silence me. And I'm not going to be silenced on this issue. I've heard the testimony of many women, numerous accusers, I believe them, and he should resign for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii came to her defense tweeting this. "Donald Trump is a misogynist, compulsive liar, and admitted sexual predator. Attacks on Kirsten are the latest example that no one is safe from this bully. He must resign."
[20:45:10] I spoke to Senator Hirono just before air. Here's that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator, why call for the President's resignation now? I mean was it the attack on Senator Gillibrand?
MAZIE HIRONO (D), SENATOR, HAWAII: I have been contemplating and in fact it was that very day that also and call upon in for his resignation because just the litany of all of these women coming forward and I'm grateful that they did who accused him, including one who has filed a lawsuit against him. The tweet that he did on first time was really beyond the pale and at that I said, look, I'm going to take the opportunity to call him to resign. But I can't make the President resign. He's got to look to his own morals and his sense of integrity to make that decision and since he had shown neither trick. I don't think he's going to resign.
COOPER: The White House has said very clearly, though, and many of his -- the President's supporters have said, look, you know, voters knew about these allegations against the President and they still elected him. They took those into consideration and they elected him. That they, in effect had -- you know, there say -- haven't they had their say on the matter, as opposed to someone like Al Franken or John Conyers whose allegations only came to light while they were in office.
HIRONO: Well, I think that maybe a lot of people held their noses and there are many ways to explain why people voted for Donald Trump. But as I said, one of the women who has come forward against him is filing a lawsuit. I've done depositions. You can find out a lot of things, whether there's a pattern of this kind of misogynistic behavior on the part of the President. So we'll soon find out about that.
But in the meantime, I tell you, the constant efforts on their part to try and derail the Mueller investigation is really problematic. And that's an investigation that should occur -- just in case you were about to ask me Anderson, whether or not there should be a congressional investigation of the President.
COOPER: Well, I was, actually, because some of your colleagues have said if not resignation then at least investigating the allegations against the President. To do that, though, Republicans would have to get on board, at least some Republicans -- it doesn't seem like there's any appetite for that on the other side of the aisle.
HIRONO: I'd say so. If there's some process by which particularly in the House that there's some way that they can gain jurisdiction over the President and then I say go to it. But as I said, there is an ongoing lawsuit by one of these women and you can find out a lot about the President's behavior if that lawsuit can proceed.
COOPER: Just lastly, this moment that we're in, the Me Too movement, women coming forward being heard, they can seriously in some cases men coming forward. Do you think we'd be here if Donald Trump hadn't been elected President?
HIRONO: I frankly think that he created an environment where there's a counter to the kind of misogynistic, you know, admitted sexual predator kind of behavior that he's engaged in. And really glad that maybe we're in a culture change moment which I didn't think would come within my lifetime where we begin to think of women as more than objects and toys to play things because all of us for this time in memorial we know that men in power have used their power and influence to harass and even sexually assault us. So I'm really glad they we're at a -- and I hope a cultural tipping point moment where we're going to hold these people accountable. I'm really glad that women are coming forward and their stories are being listened to.
COOPER: Senator, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
HIRONO: Thank you. Aloha.
COOPER: Up next, former apprentice contestant turned Senior White House Aide Omarosa Manigault Newman is stepping down from her job. The question is, were she forced out? According to one report she was escorted off the White House grounds this evening. The latest on that when we continue.
[20:52:54] COOPER: Tonight there is yet another staff departure from the White House. Former apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman is leaving her job as a Senior Staff for in the Office of Public Liaison and in assistant to the President.
President Trump tweeting this evening, "Thank you, Omarosa for your service. I wish you continued success."
For tenure had its controversy certainly and according to report her exit maybe gotten a bit confrontational. Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the President's former T.V. show, she was the player people loved to hate. Confrontational, controversial, and finally canned.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omarosa, go out and sell paintings so whatever the hell you're doing. You're fired.
FOREMAN: Now it's happened again. Just months after she married and let her 39-person wedding party on a tour of the White House described as disruptive at best, she's resigning from the administration. At least that's the official story. And CNN has found nothing to disprove it. But various outlets say, she was flatly fired and escorted off the ground in mid profanities.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, OFFICE OF PUBLIC LIAISON: He has to defend his wife just as strongly as he will defend this nation.
FOREMAN: It's a big come down for a woman who fiercely fought all critics of Donald Trump on his way up and his President too.
NEWMAN: Do I know it's got to be really, really hard after the, you know, the last year and a half of all the things that you said about Donald to see him sitting in the Oval Office.
Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It is ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.
TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him.
FOREMAN: Part of Omarosa's role seemed to be answering all those bitter accusations that he was too cozy with racist, too distant from minorities.
But her vigorous defense often tilted into shouting as it did during this convention for black journalists. She never backed down.
NEWMAN: Ask your question, but don't lecture me.
I now work for this country and I take my job very seriously. [20:55:05] FOREMAN: Maybe so but others did not, especially after Chief of Staff John Kelly took over, that according to a former administration official who told CNN people have long been unsure what she did at the White House, what value she brought. Many of her colleagues are elated at news of her departure.
COOPER: Coming up, President Trump calls elect Doug Jones to congratulate him on his win, the Alabama race, but Republican Roy Moore still not conceding. All of the latest from White House, Capitol Hill and Alabama, next.
COOPER: Well, it has been a long, strange trip in Alabama for the President or more accurately, a Luther Strange trip that turned into much more drama and ended in defeat, defeat of accused child molester Roy Moore, defeat of Steve Bannon, defeat of President's multiple endorsement.
Now the President is attempting to distance himself and also some have congratulated himself. Just Jeff Zeleny joins us now from the White House with the latest.
So explain how the President reacted to Moore's lose? So what we know about him?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, no question the President did not think today would roll out like this. But again it's a part of a pattern of the President not taking responsibility. But, you know, sort of parsing out the blame and quickly moving on. He showed his mood in the series of tweets this morning fairly early this morning.
[21:00:04] It started like this. Let's take a look. He said this about the race last night.