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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

White House Comes Clean on What Really Happened with Condolence Letters; Trump on His Vietnam Deferments for Bone "Spurs"; McCain Appears to Mock Trump Draft Deferments; Trump offers to Pay Staffers' Legal Fees; NYT: Fox News Renewed O'Reilly After He Paid $32M Settlement. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 21:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The president publicly contradicts the young military widow's account on whether he remembered her dead husband's name. A war hero senator makes the point about how the president got out of serving Vietnam without ever mentioning his name.

And the White House admits it scrambled to send out condolence letters to the families of fallen service members after the president erroneously stated he had contacted virtually everyone. These are the president's battles on a Monday, all battles of his own making.

We begin with Myesha Johnson, the young widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, one of the four soldiers killed in Niger. Today she spoke about the president's phone call to her in an interview with ABC

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYESHA JOHNSON, WIFE OF SERGEANT LA DAVID JOHNSON: The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. And I was -- it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn't remember my husband's name. The only way he remembered my husband's name is because he told me he had my husband's report in front of him and that's when he actually said La David.

I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name. And that's what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name? And that what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Sara Murray joins me now from the White House. The president did not waste any time in responding to Mrs. Johnson's comments this morning.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. And for many, it was kind of a perplexing response because President Trump decided to dispute the account from a grieving widow. He tweeted, "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation."

It is worth noting that we had a number of occasions to question the president about this incident today. He wouldn't engage on questions about what happened in Niger, what went wrong there, but also whether he regretted the fact that he left Myesha Johnson feeling upset at the result of that phone call, Anderson.

COOPER: There's also more reporting on the White House's efforts to expedite the letters of families -- letters to families of the fallen service members.

MURRAY: That's right. They did confirm that they have made an effort to try to expedite these letters. They said they looked into it and they discovered there were bureaucratic reasons that the letters hasn't been sent out. They said they cut through the red tape and decided to try to expedite those. Not a lot of detail though on what was holding these up in the first place, Anderson.

COOPER: And Senator John McCain -- I mean yet again took what's obviously seems like a swipe at the president without actually mentioning the president's name, this time referring to his deferment from survey in Vietnam War.

MURRAY: Well -- and we have to remember that John McCain is not one who is necessarily been hesitant to criticize the president, but obviously, he's a former POW and he was speaking in a Vietnam War documentary and he was talking about the difference between higher income individuals and lower income individuals.

He was lamenting the fact that we seemed, at that point, in the Vietnam War to draft from the lower income tier of America. And if you were in this higher level, if you were better off in stature, you could go to any doctor and they would write you a letter for something, for instance, a bone spur that might allow you to avoid the draft.

And a bone spur just happens to be what President Trump, before he was president, used to avoid the draft. He had a number of draft deferments, including letters from a doctor saying he could not serve because of that bone spur.

Now, again, John McCain, not one hesitant to criticize the president, but he said he was trying to make a broader point here that the burdens of war are not necessarily shared evenly across American society, and certainly that's true now, Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thank you.

A lot to talk about with the panel. Joining me tonight is Kirsten Powers, Stephen Moore, Amanda Carpenter, Scott Jeninings, Carl Bernstein and Michael D'Antonio.

I mean, Kirsten, one of the things about this -- I mean the president responding to Mrs. Johnson today, for instance, all of this really goes back to -- none of this would be part of the discussion if the president himself had not avoided answering questions about Niger last week by praising himself for his response to the families of the fallen and going after former presidents.

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Right. And there's been so many opportunities I think for him to dial this back, you know. I think he has chosen to keep -- he obviously wants to be in an argument with this woman, which is really shameful considering this is the worst moment in her life. And she's very young. She's 24 years old. And this is somebody who's already suffering a lot and now she has the president of the United States essentially calling her a liar on top of everything else.

Look, I've said this before. You know, I'm sure he did the best he could in the call and, you know, she experienced it differently. And, you know, even if she wasn't telling the truth, I think she is, but even if she wasn't, in this situation, you rise above it and you -- you'd be the person who comforts her and steps back, not to continue to argue with her in a public way.

[21:05:01] COOPER: Does it -- I mean, Stephen, does it make sense to continue this?

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, look, I was on CNN the night this story broke, when this congresswoman made this allegation against Trump. And the headline on CNN was, you know, that the point about -- you know, he knew what he's getting into. And I thought it was strange at the time, you know.

I mean, why would the president say something like that? And I suspected that what he was saying is that what makes him even more courageous and more heroic is that he was -- that these servicemen --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- but John Kelly --

MOORE: And that's -- it's obvious that that's what he meant. And this congresswoman, who hates Donald Trump, you know, ran to the press and said that he was somehow demeaning the soldier, and I just think that the whole story is unfair, and it's been a week now of this story going on now.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: -- halted, you know, this back and forth, but it seems pretty unfair. I mean this congresswoman called Donald Trump a white supremacist for goodness sakes. I mean -- and by the way, we've never actually heard the tape, you know, of what was -- what that conversation, how it went.

COOPER: Well, there is no tape --

MOORE: Right, exactly, so we don't really know. COOPER: But it's not just the congressman, it is also now the widow herself who has backed up everything the congresswoman said. Whether you think the congresswoman should have rushed on to television, that's certainly a very, you know, fine point.

But I think -- I mean I think to your larger point, two people can have a conversation and interpret things differently and I think that's the point that you made and Kelly has --

MOORE: Why would the congresswoman just run to the press because she was trying to embarrass Donald Trump and that's --

POWERS: He's a 70-year-old man and she's a 24-year-old woman who just lost her husband. Who should be the bigger person in this --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN TED CRUZ: Trump should have been the one who walk away from this. But if we've learned anything is that Donald Trump, when his ego is threatened, everything is on the table, nothing is off one, even a Gold Star family.

His ego felt threatened because people went to the press and said that he didn't recognize the soldier's name correctly, and so then it was on. Donald Trump has to make a choice. He can continue to try to win these personality-driven arguments, or he can be a successful president.

You can't have both. You can't continue to waste news cycle after news cycle on stories like this that are self-inflicted and also be a successful president.

That said, you know, Democrats are running around right now, Tom Sayer is out there talking about impeachment. You can't impeach the president for being a jerk. You really can't.

And so I feel like (INAUDIBLE) were nobody is getting on the rails. You know, the congresswoman is out saying that she's a rock star. She made a mistake there. She's comparing this to Benghazi, that's a mistake. I don't know who's guiding people in the right direction here. Everyone is filing out of control when they should just shut up and thank the soldiers.

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, she's made a number of mistakes here, running to the press, making comments about Benghazi, calling the president and all of his White House staffers white supremacists. I mean this sort of proves the president's point, right, that she's grinding up political ax.

That having been said, there's a way of out this today for the president, I'm glad to hear Sarah say that he wouldn't engage on the questions because that did help right should it down. But the way out eventually is the same as it was on day one. And that's to say, if you took anything I said, you know, in a bad way, I apologize. Please know you have the thanks of a grateful nation. That's the answer seven days ago, it's the answer today, and it's the answer tomorrow.

So I'm hopeful that his lack of engagement with the press today is a harbinger of things to come.

COOPER: The president is though -- I mean he has never said -- he's never said that he's sorry about something as --

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is about an abhorrent president of the United States who behaves consistently in an abhorrent way, whether it's about the Russia investigation, whether it's about the legitimate powers of the Congress of the United States, he behaves in an abhorrent way that is not acceptable, that is beneath the dignity of the office itself.

And it's time, and you hear in private, Scott, you hear this too from Republicans all over Washington that we doubt his stability in these moments. And this is one story. It's one story with this poor widow who has been savaged by the president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: The president of the United States goes --

MOORE: How is she been savaged?

BERNSTEIN: Just a moment. The president of the United States going nuclear in public about a woman who has lost her husband? That is abhorrent.

And what we see consistently in this presidency from January 20th to now is one abhorrent act after another and lying. And so it all comes together as a piece. And that's a story that we as journalists and politicians also have to confront. What holds these dots together in this abhorrent behavior?

COOPER: Michael, you're not surprised by this?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not at all. I mean when you asked if he ever apologized for something, in his private life he may have. He's hurt a lot of people in his private life. And I can't imagine he's never apologized.

[21:10:05] In his public life, I found no record that he ever apologized. He just spoiled the investment of thousands of people who invested in his casinos. He's lambasted people who never deserved it, ridiculed them.

In one case after another, he just moved on to the next thing. He also has this habit, and I think this is what really gets him in trouble, is he says an outrageous thing and then tries to maneuver and manipulate in order to prove it true. So he can claim about the profitability of his companies and then hand you a document that purports to show that it's profitable in a way he suggest and all is well.

But in this case, it's really hard for him to be president, act this way, have there be multiple witnesses to his behavior, and claim that it never happened.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: We complain -- I complain a lot -- we all complain a lot about the president being a jerk essentially. There's no recourse for that. We can say, well, you can't continue being president, yes, he will. He will continue being president, and you know, at least until the next election, and if there's no good Democratic opposition, another four years.

And so we can keep saying this doesn't work for him, it does work for him, and there's more incentives than ever for Republicans to go along with it.

I think people should go and read Steve Bannon's speech to the California Republican Party this weekend because the whole theme of that was that winning begets winning, win at all costs. It is the only thing that matters. It's was a very insightful speech.

D'ANTONIO: The president is going to run against the Democrat at some point again. It's not all about a primary and pleasing the Republicans who are in your base.

(CROSSTALK)

D'ANTONIO: Right. So then it isn't just about winning the news cycle. I think the American people want him to win for the nation.

CARPENTER: No, and this is where I'm going to. There is a growing ethics within the Republican Party that win at all cost all the time, fight on anything, fight in all terms. And it's not going to be just Donald Trump in 2020. It will be more Republicans who have this attitude that we are going to fight on anything. All the time, it's going to be no holds barred. And if you think it's going to backfire, you need to reexamine 2016 like everyone does.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Look, I'm a friend of Donald Trump's, I worked for him, I have admiration for him, I don't think he's abhorrent. But look, sometimes he, you know, has a fist -- fast trigger.

And with John McCain, what's going on with John McCain, because I think that's almost the bigger story here about this feud that's going on between McCain and Trump. And, you know, the Republicans have to get a tax cut passed, right? And to get that tax cut passed, they're probably going to need John McCain's vote. So they'd better --

COOPER: I want to talk more about John McCain, what's going on with that. We're going to continue the conversation. Also, hear some of the audio from Michael D'Antonio's conversations with Trump in 2014 about his bone spurs.

And later, lawmakers in both parties consider the president untrustworthy and easily distracted negotiator, according to "The Washington Post." So what happened to the art of the deal? We'll look at that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:17:18] COOPER: As we've been reporting, the president got five deferments that helped him avoid military service in Vietnam, including a deferment for bone spurs. It's a topic now because Senator John McCain referred to it without mentioning the president's name when talking about the inequity of the draft during the Vietnam War.

Michael D'Antonio heard all about the president's bone spurs during extensive interviews in 2014. He's some audio from that conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D'ANTONIO: You did have a medical deferment?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Feet.

D'ANTONIO: What was it for?

TRUMP: OK, the medical deferment is feet.

D'ANTONIO: So what was going on with your feet?

TRUMP: I have spurs at the back of my feet, which at the time, prevented me from walking long distances.

D'ANTONIO: So you couldn't march?

TRUMP: So I would be -- it would be very difficult to march long distances. Very healthy, but in the back, in fact it's here. You know, you can see it, on both feet. I have spurs.

D'ANTONIO: OK, so that's a real thing. That's legit and a lot of people got medical deferments.

TRUMP: Right, and I got a deferment. Not an out, but I got a deferment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. Michael, he had actually talked to you or talked publicly about having a high draft number previously.

D'ANTONIO: Right, so that was the major point that he wanted to make in the rest of the interview was that he had this high draft number, so maybe the feet didn't matter, and I shouldn't take that too seriously.

And we actually talked about the draft number and this become very tortured conversations. I used to be exasperated because one hour with Donald Trump is followed by 10 hours of fact checking.

But he -- we eventually got to the point where he agreed that well, the draft number didn't matter, that he was no longer eligible for the lottery when they began it in 1969, and he was out of school and out of any potential service.

But yet, he went back to it a year later. He's on the campaign trail talking about this draft number because I think it's a story that felt the best to him and allowed him to be somewhat in the mainstream and not to have sought deferments.

COOPER: Which all gets us to -- I mean your point about John McCain. What is John McCain doing? I mean -- because this is now the second time he's referenced the president not by name, he gave that speech, I think it was last week.

MOORE: What goes around comes around.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: What we're seeing here is confirmation of Donald Trump, the president of the United States, who has never had a record of consistent honesty in his life. And that too is a fact that holds together so many things, the Russia investigation, the widow, what he says publicly day after day, which everyone in the press room, including his press secretary knows are lies.

[21:20:03] CARPENTER: But I think this shows the difference between --

BERNSTEIN: But it's really important to go back to basics because every day we have a kind of new standard that gets lower and lower in which we hold the president to less and less accountability. He lies day in, day out. That's what Senator McCain is talking about as well as what you're talking about.

CARPENTER: I would say that's a dualistic approach to what Donald Trump said on the tape. What Donald Trump would say to Donald Trump he's campaigning against about what's on that tape, he says show me you're feet. Show me your feet. You're lying until you can show me the bone spurs on your feet and you put in a picture, you know, like he diabetes -- Barack Obama in the birth certificate.

We can say, oh, he's lying, but Donald Trump, the way that he campaigns and the way that he wins, he's going to frame the arguments in ways that we can't predict and we think are off color and weird. But that's what -- how Donald Trump would handle, you know, someone else saying they didn't go to Vietnam because of bone spurs on their feet.

BERNSTEIN: All we can do as --

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: -- and decent politicians is to put out there what the facts are and it's time for decent politicians to say, look, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, we will not have a liar in the White House who lies like this.

JENNINGS: He lied about bone spurs on his feet.

BERNSTEIN: I say he -- it is a reportorial historical fact. Here's one biographer, this is a man who lies with a --

MOORE: No, but I mean --

CARPENTER: I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: You're saying he's lying about that?

BERNSTEIN: I don't know the facts about the bone spurs.

MOORE: Well then how can you say he's lying about that?

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: I know what Michael just said about the draft dates. He is a man who lies within impunity know what he just said about the draft dates. He's a man who lies with impunity and without thinking about the lies.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Do you think the president says things that are lies or says --

MOORE: No, I don't think he lies. And I think, you know, what -- the point I was getting at when I said what goes around comes around is this feud that's been going on now for over a year with McCain and it goes back to when Trump, you know, attacked McCain unfairly.

You know, look, I think John McCain is one of the greatest American heroes and I don't always agree with him politically. It was probably just from his own political standpoint a dumb thing to do because when I was making earlier, you know, he has got to work with John McCain. And now, you know, it's gotten very personal and ugly between the two.

JENNINGS: Yes, a word -- on behalf of the Republican agenda if I may, number one, we know John McCain has a history of voting against tax cuts proposed by Republican presidents. That's a problem. number two, we know McCain and Trump now have a history of fighting with each other in a very nasty, personal way. Number three, we know that the 52-seat majority in U.S. Senate has been relatively unreliable at passing the Trump agenda.

So -- and oh, number four, we know John McCain cast the deciding vote to seek the most recent key vote. So we know all this makes about the Republican agenda which makes this feud concerning. The bone spurs, the thing is interesting, but if you're someone who cares deeply about the Republican Party keeping its promises to the American people, this feud between these two guys is extraordinarily concerning.

COOPER: Steve, I just got to come back though. Do you really not believe the president lies just regularly? I mean, you know, whether he -- I mean lies, I guess means he knows what he's saying is not true, but, you know, even just last week saying about, you know, his calling all the families. Now the White House has to play catch up on that.

MOORE: I think Trump exaggerates. I think the American people kind of understand when he's exaggerating. It drives the press crazy. You made this point earlier about the fact that he acts like a jerk.

COOPER: When he has private investigators in Hawaii researching --

MOORE: Look, let me say this point about him being a jerk because this is one of the things I always tell people about Donald Trump. You know, I've been around politicians my entire life, 98% of politicians are jerks in private and wonderful people in public. Trump is, in a lot of ways, the opposite.

You know, he is an incredibly sweet and gracious person in private, and in public sometimes he does act like a jerk, and that's very different than most politicians --

CARPENTER: It's like saying most people won't meet him privately.

MOORE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: If they did, they would know what I mean.

COOPER: Let's take a quick break. The president's latest move on the Russia probe is raising all sorts of conflict of interest and alarm bells. He's offered to pay his staffers' legal fees, witnesses in the potential case against him, we'll get into that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:27:44] COOPER: As the Russia probe continues in Congress with the special counsel, President Trump is reportedly pledged almost half a million dollars to cover his staffers' legal fees, the trouble is most of those staffers would be considered witnesses. It would be highly unusual in almost any case for the man on trial to pay for the lawyers of those potentially testifying against him.

Back now with our panel, Matt Lewis joins us as well.

Scott, I mean I know you worked in the White House. Is this kind of a whole can of worms?

JENNINGS: Well, there's a lot going on here because most White House staffers I'm sure are surprised to find out when an investigation starts the White House Counsel does not represent you. You have to go out and get your own lawyer.

And speaking from personal experience, you can easily rack up legal fees into six figures. The multiple six figures you may have committed no crime, you may nearly be a witness but interviewing with the special counsel, congressional committees, talking to the White House Counsel, and then if the Democrats were to take control of a chamber next November, that ratchets it up against. So you can easily get into the six figures. So given the number of people who are likely to be interviewed, $430,000 is going to be, I think a collective drop in the bucket. Staff cannot accept get pro bono legal help while they are working at the White House. So these lawyers do have to be paid. I think it's a good gesture of loyalty by the president, but the legal bills here likely --

(CROSSTALK)

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: I would just warn them because there's a guy that was promised $25,000 who finally did get it today. But this is a pattern. I measure Donald Trump two years ago in Iowa when he was having a rally advised his crowd, you know, knock the crop out of them. I promise you, I'll pay the legal fees.

There was a guy in North Carolina who actually took him up on it, sucker punched somebody a protester at a rally, Donald Trump swore I never said that. I never said I was going to pay his legal fees.

POWERS: But he never lies.

BENSTIEN: This is a suggestion of hush money. Let's go back to basics. You cannot be under investigation for possible obstruction of justice. You're the president of the United States and you are saying to those who are also may or may not be under investigation I'm going to give you money for your legal bills? It is unacceptable. It goes back to the conduct of someone who has no regard for the law, for protocol, for precedent.

COOPER: Does he know that and he's just raising it because it's kind of a morale booster but then there's no intention?

[21:30:00] JENNINGS: I spoke to an old White House Counsel that I served with today about whether this is permissible. And he said it's legally murky but you could make an argument for it. And I said, well, if you were the White House Counsel, would you advise. And he said no, I probably wouldn't advise --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: At a minimum, it's unethical.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Yes, but it's loyal. It's loyal. I mean my reaction to this is, this is an act of loyalty of a president who's standing up for the people who served him. I don't --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: But it's unethical. So you're saying -- but it's unethical.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: I'm not a lawyer, but I'm saying if I served in the White House and I was under investigation for my service to the president and the president said I'm going to help pay your legal bills, I would think he was being loyal.

POWERS: What I'm trying to say is that it's unethical and I think most ethicists would agree with that statement.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let her finish.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let her finish.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Forget it. Just go on.

COOPER: No, no, no.

CARPENTER: Well, I would say two points. We're missing the real scandal which is $430,000 of RNC money is being used to defend Donald Trump and Donald Jr. That's where $430,000 went that Donald Trump is now offering to point pony up his own money for.

So every time the RNC wrote this e-mails across all America saying three to five -- send us $3 or $5 to fund the border wall, you are paying Trump's legal bills. That's number one.

Number two, since we have (INAUDIBLE) here, during Watergate, if John Dean or Alexander Butterfield had gotten their legal counsel from the president, we would have never been able to connect the dots between the Watergate break-in and the White House cover-up or the fact that there were tapes. That probably would have been missing.

So being paid off by the president to get legal advice is a recipe to be the fall guy.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, Kirsten, you're saying without a doubt it's unethical.

POWERS: Yes, it is unethical. And every time I say it's unethical you interrupt me to scream about loyalty. So it's like why don't you address the fact that it's unethical. And the fact that -- I mean I think if you're being honest about it, this is somebody who's trying to coerce people into testifying in a certain way. I mean it's pretty obvious what he's doing. This is not a man who likes to open up his wallet.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: So my point was that --

COOPER: Let him respond.

MOORE: My point is I'm not a lawyer. I don't know -- you might be right that this is legally unethical and he's not able to do it. My point was that I think it's a very loyal thing to do to stand up for the people who stood up for you. And that's what I would want.

COOPER: But this is a president -- I mean you -- I mean loyalty is not something this president --

MOORE: You can't in both ways. You can't say, you know, he's not loyal to people who serves him.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: -- legal advice when it's an investigation into the president. The president's lawyers are not going to have the staffers' best interest in mind. Their biggest client is the president. So, yes, it might seem nice but it's probably the worst thing that these aides could do --

COOPER: Well, also loyalty is not go out and justify my actions for me on television, I'm going to undercut at you next day by saying what you said is not true.

BERNSTEIN: Our whole discussion for the last hour is really fascinating because what unites every question is about right and wrong, basic right and wrong. And one time after another consistently, this president, this abhorrent president acts abhorrently and chooses wrong. He chooses wrong over right that children most often know. This is extraordinary.

LEWIS: I think it's a -- I was going to say real quick, I think it's a bad idea, but I'm -- I am worried about the brain drain, I am worried about what happens when staffers are basically -- you get the memo, like if you go to work in the White House, you could end up bankrupt. That a bad --

BERNSTEIN: That's a really good question. It has nothing to do with the right and wrong question here. We need to have a way that people can defend themselves pro bono, all kinds of ways. You can even start a pac or go ahead, go that way. But the president of the United States, the same president who pardoned somebody in Arizona and suggests to others that through that pardon, you might get pardoned in the Russia matter as well. This is all of a piece. The dots keep getting connected.

COOPER: We got to take another break. Coming up, secret payout by Bill O'Reilly to another accuser is made public. A huge secret payout. Fox News signed him to a new mega contract. Right after this was settled, O'Reilly is back with some heated words. Well, he's not denying the actual payout. Details on the scandal when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:37:58] COOPER: Former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly is trying to fight back once again after a stunning report in the "New York Times." According to the "Times" back in January, O'Reilly secretly paid $32 million to stop former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl from suing him for sexual harassment. Of all the settlement payments involving O'Reilly and anyone else at Fox News, this is the largest by far. Just weeks after the deal, O'Reilly got a four-year extension on his Fox News contract for $25 million a year. Then weeks later, you'll remember with all the allegations against him from several women, advertisers fled and O'Reilly was booted from Fox News. O'Reilly is firing back after this latest revelation claiming he's the victim essentially. Here's what he told "The New York Times."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is horrible. It's horrible what I went through. Horrible what my family went through. This is crap. And you know it. It's politically and financially motivated and we can prove it with shocking information. But I'm not going to sit there in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press who would sit there, and you know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel. Also joining the conversation is CNN's Brian Stelter who's been covering this story.

Kirsten, I want to start with you. Obviously, you worked at Fox. You complained about statements he had made or --

POWERS: I -- so I never had any -- you know, Bill O'Reilly certainly never propositioned me or anything like that. And I worked with him a lot. And I had an overall good relationship with him except for we have some incidents early on where he had said some things to me that I found to be sort of sexist.

And I complained to Roger -- well, first I complained to his executive, you know, producer and was basically told he wasn't going to stop doing it. And so I stopped doing his show for a couple of years. In that time, I complained to Roger, and Roger basically -- Roger Ailes, who was the CEO and Roger just basically said, you know, he just makes so much money for the network, I just kind of let him do what he wants to do.

So, you know, I told that story just to show you that there were people that were complaining. I wasn't complaining about, you know, him propositioning me or the kind of things about Lis Wiehl apparently has accused him up, but there were complaints.

[21:40:06] Megyn Kelly talked today about some complaints she had made about him. Again, she wasn't accusing him of sexual harassment. But -- and I'm sure I'm getting an attack tomorrow because today they were attacking Megyn, you know, releasing thank you notes that she had sent to Bill O'Reilly.

They have nothing to do with anything. He sent her a gift and she sent him a thank you and said some nice things to him, you know, long before she complained about him. So they try to, you know, go after to any woman who complains and try to, you know, smear them. And that's kind of their -- MOORE: Can I say something because I also worked for six years for Fox News and I know Bill O'Reilly very well as you do. I consider him a friend. Now, I consider him a friend, and he said things to me oftentimes, you know, that, you know -- I mean he -- Bill O'Reilly can be a jerk to people, and he can say things, you know. So that's different from -- now, look, I have no idea what --

POWERS: I'm glad you brought that up.

MOORE: I have no idea what, you know, happened --

POWERS: Yes.

MOORE: -- you know, behind closed doors and so on. And I'm just saying that, you know, sometimes, you know, it's just his behavior. I mean the way he is that --

POWERS: OK.

MOORE: -- came across as being offensive to people.

POWERS: I'm glad you brought that up --

MOORE: Yes.

POWERS: -- because I actually wrote something along these lines of saying he's mostly an equal opportunity offender --

MOORE: Right.

POWERS: -- when it comes to yelling at people or arguing --

MOORE: He does.

POWERS: -- with him and disagreeing with them. So when I called him sexist for attacking someone --

MOORE: Right.

POWERS: -- I can't remember who it was and I said, no, he's actually an equal opportunity offender when it comes to debating and arguing. That's not what I'm talking about.

What he said to me was thank you for your blondness at the end of an, you know, of an interview, which I'm a political analyst there. That's very different than Bill and I getting into an argument about immigration, which I never considered to be sexist and never had a problem with.

So we have to make a distinction between things that are very gendered and very sexist and --

MOORE: That's right.

POWERS: -- just your basic character.

MOORE: But he would say things like, you don't know what you're talking about.

POWERS: Right.

MOORE: You know, that kind of thing.

COOPER: But I mean -- the allegations, I mean obviously for anyone who paid $32 million, I'm sorry, I find that impossible to imagine. I mean I know he's got huge amount sum of money, but I, you know -- and to me, it's interesting how people keep bringing their children into this.

Harvey Weinstein did it in that recording. He said, you know, I swear in my children I'm not going to do anything. Bill O'Reilly continually brings his children into all of this. Its -- I mean --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, powerful man accused of harassment, evading responsibility, attacking the messenger, who's that sound like? It could be Harvey Weinstein, it could be President Trump. Today, it happens to be Bill O'Reilly, right? That he's trying to evade this issue by saying this to "The New York Times" out to get --

COOPER: Right. He hasn't denied the 32 million.

STELTER: But the $32 million settlement is real. He has not denied it and he can't deny it because he had to pay it. He's continuing to pay it in basically in installments.

So I think what everyone's turning up their head around is what could have possibly happen that will be worth paying $32 million for? You only pay a $32 million if it's going to be worst not to. If we're going to have to pay even more money in court, if we're going to be even more embarrassed at a trial, that's why --

COOPER: I mean I -- because I remember, the first allegation which was I believe Andrea Mackris who came forward. It seemed like she had recordings because at a press conference I think it was -- they read very specific things that Bill O'Reilly was alleged to have said with very specific speech patterns and stumbles in his sentence and the whole thing about the loofah. I mean it was, you know, very detailed and specific this must have been as well.

STELTER: And that was in 2004. And I think we can see how far this country's come that in 2017 there's no way Bill O'Reilly is going to be back on Fox even as a guest. I know they brought him back last month, now they regret doing that. He's not going to be back on that network and I --

COOPER: But that's only now. I mean but, as you said, he was on last month and all these allegations -- I mean, OK, it hadn't been a $32 million payout. It was what? More than I guess --

POWERS: Well they renewed his contract --

STELTER: That's right.

POWERS: -- knowing that he had struck this deal, right?

STELTER: Yes, that's right.

COOPER: Did they know the amount he had paid --

POWERS: Yes.

STELTER: They say they didn't know the amount but I wonder if they didn't want to know. You know, if they wanted to look the other way and not find out what was in the closet.

COOPER: Do you think this is -- I had this debate with people this weekend. Do you think this is some sort of a sea change in the culture in terms of how men interact with women in a work setting?

CARPENTER: I mean I would hope so because like he mentioned, it seems like there is a playbook that these powerful men have been able to use every time, and I think women to be able to see through it by now. I mean first step smear the victim, hide behind legal action and then last step is always present yourself as the victim to the media, which is what Bill O'Reilly was doing in that clip. Look at all I've been through. It happens every single time.

But with -- the thing that just boggles my mind is how could Fox, just as a business decision, decided to keep renewing this guy's contract knowing that so many millions of dollars cost have been paid out. I mean we're talking about -- this isn't the first time it happens, it's not the second time it happen. It keeps happening again and again.

So, hopefully, companies can be enlightened enough to see the bottom line by now. And if you let these people do this for so long --

MOORE: Well, what about Hollywood? What about Hollywood? I mean everyone in Hollywood knew what Harvey Weinstein was up to.

CARPENTER: Yes. And now --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Well, maybe they can see the affect of these women coming forward.

[21:45:02] COOPER: We've got to take a break. We'll have more on this conversation next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We've been talking about the latest revelation on the Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment scandal reported in the "New York Times" and he paid $32 million settlement to a Fox News legal analyst back in January. Here's what he said to Glenn Beck on his radio show today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: It's very frustrating for me. You can imagine me, sitting here, all right, being accused of everything under the sun. And the endgame is let's link O'Reilly with Harvey Weinstein. Let's make him that. That's what we want to do.

All right. And so we take him out of the marketplace forever. He never gets to give his opinion on issues again. We take him out because we hate him and "New York Time" obviously hates me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel.

You know, what's interesting -- because he keep saying that he has all this evidence that he, you know, that it's starting -- stunning and it never comes forward. I mean that's what he said before and that's what he's saying now.

[21:50:02] POWERS: Right. Well, I guess the story that he's telling us that he's doing this to protect his family by not going to court and so that's why he paid this money out. But I don't know. I mean it just seems like if you have information to exonerate yourself, I mean is this not painful for his family what's happening right now? It's probably seems very painful to me. I mean --

COOPER: Because it seems like the only evidence put forward is that, you know, notes were written, thank you notes were written previously.

POWERS: Yes.

COOPER: It seems not like evidence at all.

POWERS: Yes. Well, I actually don't understand this attack Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are like doing against Megyn Kelly right now. I don't even quite understand --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: -- women who'd complain about them, you know, against Gretchen Carlson. And Gretchen and Megyn never even said that O'Reilly harassed them. They just complained about his behavior. And so now these two guys are like together attacking these women.

CARPENTER: I just listened to the backend of the Glenn Beck program after you had O'Reilly. And I think there's an argument to be made anytime you get the O'Reilly platform you sort of buying into what happened.

But that said, Glenn was conflicted after saying, listen, I'm torn between Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly here. I don't know what happened because that's between them and I don't know if I should take sides or not. I don't want to enable abuse, but at the same time, I'll let Bill have his say.

POWERS: He was reading the thank you notes.

CARPENTER: Yes. I agree.

POWERS: I mean what is -- CARPENTER: If Bill O'Reilly wants to have explosive evidence, he's going to have to do better than a baby shower note, which I would have wished Glenn Beck would have told him during the program.

POWERS: It was written before she complains.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: But I do think the bigger issue here is how much we don't know when it gets caught up into these NDAs and settlements. And for people like Glenn Beck and people who are concern of this, you don't know how to pick a side because you just have to say, well, who do I believe more? Who has more credibility here? And we never really get at the truth.

JENNINGS: You know, we can't pick a side in these things because we don't know the facts. But I do think there's something larger going on. We know this in our political culture. There's this great populist uprising.

People have put the elites on notice. I think this is going into a lot of industries right now. If you're wealthy, famous, powerful, if you can lord that stuff over regular people who have to play by the normal rules, those people aren't going to take it anymore and thank god, because the elites and the powerful and the famous in these industries shouldn't be able to ruin peoples' careers and treat people --

MOORE: But there's something --

(CROSSTALK)

JENNING: This is happening in politics, it's happening in Hollywood, it's happening in media. I wonder what the next industry is.

MOORE: And I remember I had a meeting with a major, you know, top 20 CEO of Fortune 100 company, and he said to me about two or three years ago something that I thought was very good advice for people who run companies and this is a very good advice.

Is that I would never have a meeting with a woman without someone else in the room. You all -- and this is -- unfortunately, this is where we're at today. If you are in a position of power, a Bill O'Reilly, a Donald Trump, anyone who is running a company, you cannot be --

POWERS: Sean Hannity has never been accused of sexual harassment.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Sean Hannity has never been accused of sexual harassment. Anderson Cooper has never been accused of sexual harassment. What are you talking about?

MOORE: I'm saying that --

POWERS: So any powerful man hat has -- cannot be alone -- (CROSSTALK)

POWERS: This is -- this would affect women negatively --

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: -- that you can't even meet privately with your boss.

MOORE: If you're in a position of power, it's probably not a good idea.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: -- has never been --

COOPER: That also applies that if women sort of --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: I mean look at all the powerful men at Fox News who have never been accused of sexual harassment, and this is your solution --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: That's the interesting thing. Most of the Fox News men --

POWERS: Some of the man anchors, and I could go to the whole roster of them.

LEWIS: It does seem like the New York office that the culture of --

COOPER: Which is where Roger Ailes was based.

LEWIS: Right.

COOPER: We got to take a break. I want thank everybody.

Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of this long day. "The RidicuList" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:57:12] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And say it ain't so, "Madam Secretary." No, I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice. I'm looking at you, Tea Leoni, AKA Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord Sunday nights on CBS.

How on earth could you let national treasure, Bebe Neuwirth, AKA your chief of staff just shuffable (ph) change out the door last night? Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the work of Emmy and Tony winning Ms. Neuwirth, first of all, shame on you. Did you sleep through "Cheers?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't be engaged to you, Frasier, because I'm marrying Randy here. If anyone wants to get us a wedding gift, his butt is this size.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Did you blackout during the 63 seasons of "Frasier?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin, I'm especially delighted to see you here tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. Knowing as I do the history of your relationship with Frasier, when I heard that he'd taken you in, I immediately flipped to the weather channel to see if hell had indeed hell had indeed frozen over.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

COOPER: Well, look, even if you were living in Mars during the '80s and '90s, you might as you known what's good for you seen Ms. Neuwirth more recently as Nadine Tolliver, the top aide to Secretary of State Tea Leoni.

Now, I'm completing a few names and titles but you get the idea. Nadine was everything you'd want in the State Department, sort of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) and all bright wild side.

(BEGIN VIDE OCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Secretary, protocol explicitly states that foreign gifts remain in the gift room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Noted. I decree an exception.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thank god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Oh, yes. Nadine was the life of the diplomatic party until last night when she all of a sudden hit the bricks. Something about -- I don't know moving to be with her son. Give me a break, Nadine.

Anyway, there I was watching the show, wrapped in my synthetic chinchilla shawl drinking a Mai Tai, when I checked Twitter, and low and behold, Bebe Neuwirth says that it was actually her decision to leave the series. Lilies just pulled the Shelley Long.

Yes, you millennials go Google that reference. Come on Bebe, please reconsider. With you gone, who's going to charm global trade conferences with Billy Joel covers?

Oh, yes. She's still got it. Bebe Neuwirth can sing, especially on Broadway. In fact I was going to play a clip from her in Chicago, but instead I think we'll just watch Bebe play the spoons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me an A flat. Thank you. When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So the elephant in the room is obviously who will replace Bebe Neuwirth on "Madam Secretary." Let me just go ahead and float this idea. In addition to Tea Leoni, the other big star of the show is Tim Daly, whose sister, you see where I'm going with this, Tyne Daly from "Cagney and Lacey."

And no, I don't know whether she was Cagney or Lacey, but I'm not here for your gotcha questions.

So people, let's just move it along. In the meantime, I don't really blame Tea Leoni nor do I regret Bebe Neuwirth her decision. We're going to miss her on Sunday nights, but we wish her all the best, all the brightest, and all that jazz on "The RidicuList."

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