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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Jr. Cites Attorney-Client Privilege in Not Answering Panel's Questions about Discussions with His Father; Sen. Franken to Make Announcement Tomorrow After a Majority of Senate Dems Call for His Resignation; W.H. Admits Pres. Trump's Jerusalem Decision Hurts Peace Process; More Intense Winds Expected to Fuel Southern California Fires. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired December 6, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: New details are emerging from Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony on Capitol Hill today about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. His story about that meeting changed multiple times after the news broke. He said in a statement that it was about Russian adoption, a statement that the President had a hand in putting together and a statement that was proven to be misleading and incomplete at best. Trump Jr. testified about the statement before a House Committee today.
CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us now with the latest.
So let's talk about this testimony because -- I mean in the last hour talking to Congressman Swalwell, he -- I understand that Donald Trump Jr. evoked attorney-client privilege when asked about conversations with his father.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. That was earlier this year after the initial reports came out about the Trump Tower meeting from June of 2016. Now, what Donald Trump Jr. told the committee today was that he could not disclose this meeting that did occur after those initial reports came up, the meeting between him and his father, because of attorney-client privilege because it occurred in the presence of attorneys who were in the room.
Now, you'll recall, Anderson, how this played out. First "The New York Times" reported this story. There was an initial statement that was misleading about exactly what that meeting was about. We know that he was promised dirt on the Clinton campaign. And then afterwards, he met with his father. Once he released on Twitter all of those e-mails that occurred in the run-up to the meeting where he was clearly promised dirt on the Clinton campaign. So that was the first time that he said he talked to his father. And presumably, they talked about all these issues, but he would not disclose the contents of that conversation because he said simply there were attorneys in the room and he couldn't do that.
COOPER: And Trump Jr. is now saying he communicated with Hope Hicks, not the President, about the Trump Tower meeting response.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. Initially right afterwards, we're told that Donald trump Jr. said today that he texted with Hope Hicks, the now communications director, about the -- that initial response to the story that was coming out in "The New York Times". And as I mentioned, those are -- that was misleading at first about speaking it was mostly about Russian adoptions, not mentioning the fact that Russian had promised -- he have promised dirt from the Russians on the Clinton campaign and that he was told that this was all part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign. That was not included in that initial response.
But we know from our own independent reporting that President Trump was involved in the drafting of the response on Air Force One, was in communications with Hope Hicks. But Donald Trump Jr. himself said he was talking to Hope Hicks and this raises some questions too, Anderson, because some legal experts say that, look, there was a criminal investigation going on and the White House seems to have been misdirecting and misleading the public about what was going on and perhaps trying to mislead investigators as well, Anderson.
COOPER: I also understand that have new reporting about Michael Flynn.
RAJU: Yes. Earlier today, Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said that he had a whistleblower who could provide information about Michael Flynn on the day of Donald Trump's inauguration exchanging a text message with a business colleague about nuclear projects that they wanted to move forward with in the Middle East and a part of a project with Russia. And he told this colleague that they're good to go on this project because he assured them that the Trump administration, as part of its first moves, would roll back sanctions on Russia. Now, this is according to this whistleblower's account.
Now, Cummings is -- gave this information before today to the Special Counsel's Office. And we know the special counsel reached a plea agreement with Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The question is what do the Republicans in Congress do on this. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of that committee, Anderson, said tonight that's something for his committee to look at. So the House Intelligence should look at that instead, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks very much.
A lot to talk about with the panel. Joining me on the panel tonight, Kirsten Powers, Jason Miller, Paul Begala, Tara Setmayer, and Scott Jennings.
I have my lawyer on speakerphone so we're totally covered in attorney- client privilege. Nobody else will be able to repeat what see say.
Have you -- I mean I'm just going to throw this out for the panel. Have you ever heard of somebody claiming attorney-client privilege just because there's an attorney in the room? PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The privilege -- I am a lawyer. The privilege is between the lawyer and her or his client. That's the privilege. If -- so that clients can talk to their lawyers in confidence. There's a priest-penitent privilege.
[21:05:00] So if I confess to my priest, they can't call him in court. There's a spousal privilege in many states where spouses can't -- there's not a daddy dearest privilege. You know, there's not -- fans of "The Godfather" know though that like Fredo never should have turned on the don. And so I'm wondering maybe he's -- there's a godfather privilege or something. This is nuts and is never going to stand up if the Republicans subpoena him, but I don't know if they will.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Isn't it also if another person is present it's not attorney-client privilege either, right? I mean the idea is it's between two people. You would --
BEGALA: They can ask that third person --
BEGALA: -- and she can testify or he can testify.
BEGALA: But between the two, that's -- but we understand why we need that. We want clients to talk to their lawyers.
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think there's a bigger point that we're missing that Don Jr. went up to the Hill today and he testified. And the biggest news coming out of that is a process story about who was maybe in the room and attorney-client privilege or the fact that he was speaking with Hope Hicks and not the President directly on Air Force One. If there had been something particularly compelling that was said today, that would have leaked out --
COOPER: But isn't that what we're talking about? Because he wouldn't say what was talked about because it was covered by attorney-client privilege. So if he was subpoenaed and forced to then maybe there would be something -- because what is it he doesn't want to talk --
MILLER: But you know what, for the -- one of the first times of actually a little bit of my faith in the President's legal team is restored here whereas they'd finally, these guys just quit talking, quit blabbering, haven't seen leaks. But if there was something, I think, that was said today, of course, the members on the Hill would have leaked that out in two seconds.
TARA SETMAYER, ABC NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Look, the only reason why you come up with a cockamamie and a legal strategy is to conceal something. If everything was above board we wouldn't be talking about this, this crazy use of attorney-client privilege.
COOPER: By the way, he could have waived attorney-client privilege which doesn't exist but he could have waived it anyway --
SETMAYER: Of course.
COOPER: -- if he wanted to say --
SETMAYER: That's right. We have to remember something here and I've said this from the very beginning, Donald Trump Jr. and his role in all of this could be very important when it comes to Russia. Follow the money. President Trump and his businesses have done business with Russians, Russian banks, Russian money, all kinds of Russian deals, oligarchs for years.
Donald Trump Jr. himself back in 2008 said that a majority of their assets come from Russian money. He bragged about it. Trump has tried to do business in Moscow for 30 years. He's been fascinated with it. He has hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that are owned by international banks, including Deutsche Bank, which now -- with $374 million I believe there. And now Deutsche Bank is, from we understand, reported that -- the Mueller investigation is looking into those records to see what's going on.
And what's famous about Deutsche Bank, they've gotten into a lot of trouble with U.S. regulators and they've been famous for money laundering with Russians. There's a lot of things here concerning Russia, and money, and business. And Trump has always said that he would -- that -- if Mueller crossed the red line into their finances, then we might see something happen there, potentially firing him.
So I would pay attention to what comes out of anything Donald Trump Jr. says and where Mueller is going with that in addition to what the committees are doing in the House and Senate because of those ties to Russia.
COOPER: Do you think it likely that the Republicans on that committee would subpoena Donald Trump Jr. to come back and compel him to say what --
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't know, good question. I don't think it's out of the question that they would do it. I think a lot of people today are predicting that there's no way they would do it. I'm not sure that's true. I think they legitimately want to get to the bottom of thing.
You know, Paul and I were here the night with you that this story broke about Air Force One staff being involved in dictating Donald Jr.'s response. And we were talking about it earlier. I couldn't help but think about that night because we said the staff on that plane is going to get roped into this. And here we are with poor Hope Hicks who's going to get roped into this. And so I regret for the staff that was on the plane that they're now going to incur all these legal costs and have to go answer all these questions.
I don't know if they did anything wrong. I just -- the anxiety and all that goes into having to testify in a matter like this, it is significant, especially when you're the White House communications director, like Hope is. She's already under a lot of stress. And so it's a bad thing that's occurred. And I'm sure some people who are doing their level best to serve their country now are going to get roped into it.
COOPER: The other thing is -- I mean Robert Mueller is not going to stand for invoking of attorney -- of a nonexistent attorney-client privilege, I would imagine.
BEGALA: Right. And it's why -- you have a Fifth Amendment privilege, and I'm not saying that he would assert that, but you do have privileges. You can refuse to answer or you can just be in contempt, right? You could -- this happened in lots -- in several cases where the prosecutor can't get a witness to cooperate, a judge can then find you guilty of contempt. He has options.
But the most important thing is that he not lie. At least he put up, I think, a cockamamie excuse to not talk about a conversation, but that's better than lying, I've got to say. But I've said this from the beginning too. These people are going to get hung up on lying. Mr. Mueller is not going to tolerate that and he's going to know. He's going to know everything. He's going to know more than that witness. And that's the problem with these things is when the prosecutors know a lot more than you. Your only recourse is to tell the truth.
[21:10:06] MILLER: I think it's also a good discipline that they recognized the fact that basically Capitol Hill is a circus. And it's ultimately Mueller's team that they need to make sure that they're focused on, that they tell the truth to. The Capitol Hill, I mean, they're not the ones with actually the legal power. I mean that's basically just a big P.R. stunt.
SETMAYER: Well, I guess maybe they're testing out this strategy with the House members because it's not going to work with Mueller. You're not going to think you're going to outsmart anyone on Mueller's team. If they think they're going to do that, they're in for quite a surprise.
COOPER: Let's take -- get a quick break.
Up next, a majority of Democratic senators now calling on Senator Al Franken to resign amid sexual harassment allegations. The question of course is will he? Plus, we're less than a week from the special election in the Alabama U.S. Senate race. Candidate Roy Moore accused of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault. I spoke with Moore's campaign spokeswoman, tried to get her boss's take on the allegations and a number of issues. I don't know if you call it explosive issue, but an interesting interview coming up.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight, Senator Al Franken's office says he still hasn't made up his mind about whether or not he'll resign amid sexual harassment allegations even though an announcement about his future is scheduled tomorrow morning. This comes as 32 Democratic senators have now called on Franken to step down. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was the first when she wrote on Facebook enough is enough and then she spoke out at a press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: Senator Franken is entitled to the Senate ethics investigation process, but I don't think Congress is equipped, I don't think they have the tools to do the kind of accountability that the American people are searching for. I do not feel that he should continue to serve. Everyone will make their own judgment. I hope they do make their own judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean there is a possibility, Kirsten, that he won't resign tomorrow. Do you think that's a real possibility?
KIRSTEN: I think it's a very slight possibility. I think the expectation is that he will resign. And when you have, you know, pretty much the entire party turn against you, I think it's hard to fight against that.
And, look, I think what happened based on conversations that I've had with people who sort of know the story of how this came to be was a lot of the women senators had been very upset about this, the women Democratic senators and were kind of giving him the space to work through this. And then when we have the sixth accuser come out, it kind of got to this place of OK, we've given you time to kind of decide to do the right thing and you're not doing it, so we're going to have to call on you to resign. They didn't want to call him to resign. They like him, they respect him but they also don't want to look like they're enabling this kind of behavior.
SETMAYER: And politically it makes sense if the Democrats want to have an upper hand on this issue, considering what the Republican Party is doing with Roy Moore, there is no way that they could stand by and allow the Al Franken situation to go without calling for his resignation at this point with multiple accusers. I think he would have survived if it had just been the one. But now when you start getting multiple accusers here and it just looks -- it just does not look good. You can't --
[21:15:02] COOPER: There's also commonality among all the -- most of the incidents.
SETMAYER: Yes, yes.
SETMAYER: Same thing with Roy Moore. I think there's a commonality too with that. They were all teenage girls and I think that at least it's better late than never I guess in a situation like that because Republicans are looking at never with the support of Roy Moore, which is just despicable. BEGALA: It is striking that, to my knowledge, only one Republican senator, the 30 Democrats have called on their fellow Democrat who is popular, who's really well liked and well respected among his colleagues but 30 Democrats, I think, have and one, Susan Collin, Republican of Maine who is always the one. So it's kind -- so maybe Franken's last-ditch effort he could switch parties because apparently he'd be welcomed there. Roy Moore, Donald Trump.
SETMAYER: I think we've met the quota.
JENNINGS: -- issued a statement today and said that he didn't see how Franken could continue to serve as all of this was unfolding today. So, look, I think what he's setting up here is a situation where if Roy Moore makes it to Washington, he's going to face similar kinds of pressure. The difference, of course, is that Roy Moore has been removed from a political office not once but twice already. And I doubt that if a bunch of people called on him to resign he would care.
And so in his case, the Senate Ethics Committee process may be the only process that could ever move him towards not being in the Senate. With Franken, obviously he's thinking through the politics of it. I don't think Moore would succumb to that sort of pressure.
BEGALA: You do have this asymmetrical accountable, right? John Conyers, who rightly was described as an icon, also was called on by the leader of his party in House, Nancy Pelosi to resign. He's going to retire. Now Senator Franken, vast majority of his colleagues calling on him to resign. And meanwhile, the Republican Party and Republican president are campaigning for a man accused of far worse than senator Franken was accused of. And of course the President himself boasted of his sexual assault. And Republicans across the country voted for him.
POWERS: What you need to remember here is that there is -- it's -- it is risky for Senator Gillibrand to come out and have done this because he is -- Franken is so popular with the Democratic base and the Democratic base is angry that Franken is being held accountable and that Trump is not being held accountable.
Now, I don't agree with that. I think the Democrats need to hold people accountable based on their own principles but the truth is, it wasn't an easy decision for Democratic senators to come out and turn against Franken because they really could pay a price for that with the base.
MILLER: And actually have to commend the Democrats who took swift action today. I think they probably should have done it a bit earlier. And I hope that they show the same courage -- POWERS: How can you say that after Donald Trump is president? I don't even understand like how could you say something like that?
MILLER: I hope they show the same courage with Bob Menendez.
POWERS: But what are you talking about, Jason? You're happy that they did it but nobody did it with Donald Trump and there are more people accusing Donald Trump of worse things than Franken.
POWERS: Franken says it's not true.
MILLER: No, Franken admitted.
POWERS: No, Franken did not.
POWERS: The only thing Franken has admitted to is the thing that we have --
MILLER: The picture.
POWERS: We have a picture of, but the things have -- more people have said that they tried to kiss -- where he tried to kiss people, where he groped people, he has denied every single one of those things. So you're saying he should resign because of a picture but Donald Trump should not resign because of accusations of sexual assault.
MILLER: Franken admitted it.
POWERS: No, he didn't, Jason.
MILLER: Then why is he stepping down?
POWERS: Because there's so much -- because he's has all this pressure from the Democratic Party. He -- the only thing he's admitted to is the thing that we have a picture of. Everything else, he said he has not groped anybody and he has not forcibly kissed anybody. That's not how he remembers it.
MILLER: Do you think he's wrongly being accused?
POWERS: I don't -- no, I believe the women. I don't think people -- I mean we have consistent stories of all these different things happening to different people, same story basically. I believe them. You know, I'm with Senator Gillibrand. She said I believe these women.
MILLER: After next Tuesday, after Roy Moore wins, we can get rid of Roy Moore and Bob Menendez and have the governors appoint the senator and Senate will be a better place. SETMAYER: Bob Menendez, I mean I'm not one to necessarily defend a Democrat that was brought up on corruption charges, but he was acquitted. So --
BEGALA: It was a hung jury. But --
SETMAYER: Well, yes, but --
BEGALA: But the jury was 10-2 in favor of acquittal. And it's going come pack up. It's not done.
SETMAYER: So what is -- I mean Bob -- you're saying Bob Menendez should resign even though he was exonerated?
MILLER: It's a corruption trial. He's not exonerated. This is far from being done.
SETMAYER: No. I mean they're not going to retry him because of what you just said, it's 10-2. They're not going to retry him.
SETMAYER: What does Democrats do have to do with Roy Moore being credibly accused of being a child molester and Republicans not -- should not be backing him?
MILLER: So you don't think Bob Menendez did anything wrong?
SETMAYER: I think Bob Menendez did something wrong but the court of law he wasn't convicted so we move on to someone who has credible charges against him. Roy Moore.
MILLER: Roy Moore hasn't been convicted of anything either.
SETMAYER: No, but he has credible charges against him and based of what you just said if Al Franken should resign, then Roy Moore should have stepped aside.
MILLER: That's what I said.
BEGALA: Get rid of Moore and Menendez, the Senate will be a better place.
BEGALA: Ms. Leeds was interviewed by Anderson in the last hour. A woman who has a very specific and horrifying account of being assaulted by Donald Trump on an airplane. And her allegation comports precisely with the language Donald Trump used in the "Access Hollywood" tape bragging to Billy Bush about how he grabs women by the privates, I'm not going to use our President's language because even for a foul mouth -- potty mouth like me it's too coarse
[21:30:05] But that matches up just perfectly. I mean the guy admitted of bragging sexual assaulter and the entire Republican Party reveres him. (CROSSTALK)
MILLER: And then we had the national election and President Trump won and I think it was definitely argued out in front of people across the country.
BEGALA: So that's OK then?
MILLER: And people made their decision. The President said it didn't happen. Obviously she's entitled to have --
BEGALA: He bragged about it.
JENNINGS: I think the prevailing issue right now, I mean it's gotten much bigger lately in a lot of different sectors and I don't think most people want to see people in different parties treated differently. And so if you believe that Al Franken should resign, by definition, you don't believe that Roy Moore should be in the Senate.
If you're sitting at home tonight thinking, yes, I'm glad Franken is gone and I'm voting for Roy Moore, please go reassess your political compass because it's spinning right now.
COOPER: All right, let's get a quick break.
Up next, we'll hear what Roy Moore's campaign spokeswoman told me earlier tonight about the allegation against him and what she said when I pressed her on some of Moore's other positions to find out if she actually knew about them. We'll find out ahead.
COOPER: The Alabama election will send either Roy Moore or Doug Jones to the United States Senate happens in less than a week. As, you know, multiple women have come forward accusing Moore of sexual assault, sexual abuse or pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers. I spoke with Moore's campaign spokeswoman Janet Porter earlier tonight. I want to play you some of that conversation. And I've tried to get her to respond to some of his stances on various issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Janet, you believe these women are all lying, yet Roy Moore is the person who's been removed twice as chief justice of the Supreme Court in Alabama. The second time he had his honesty challenged by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, judges unanimously said he had not been credible and they found his use of case law to be incomplete, misleading and manipulative. That's a quote. So you don't believe any of these women, but you believe Roy Moore who was removed from office after being found to be not credible and misleading?
[21:25:00] JANET PORTER, ROY MOORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: First off, when 2we talk about believing the women, I would ask the question of maybe some lacrosse players at Duke University, ask them if they believe every woman who makes an accusation. If we did a lynch mob media against innocent people as we did with lacrosse, there would be some lacrosse players in jail right now.
Let's look at what the judge did. He stood for the 10 commandments. He said that I have the freedom of religion to display these commandments.
COOPER: Actually what the judge did is he violated state and federal regulations and he was removed from the Supreme Court for that and then four years later he misled the judges by saying he didn't order probate judges not to marry same-sex couples. They said he was essentially lying.
PORTER: So here's what really happened. And having been down here in Alabama, I'm learning a whole lot about what's going on. And one of the things that I learned is that what the rule of law really means is that you follow the Constitution, not activist judges that are acting outside the Constitution. And that's one of the reasons why the people of Alabama love him so much.
COOPER: You're telling me Alabama has a lot of activist judges?
PORTER: Pardon me?
COOPER: You're telling me the judges, all of whom voted against him and took him off the court, they're all activist judges?
PORTER: Well, Judge Roy Moore was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the state of Alabama and the Constitution of the United States of America and that's what he was following.
COOPER: Well, let me understand. He took an oath to mislead? He took an oath to manipulate? He took an oath that endangered probate judges?
PORTER: No. Don't put words into this formula.
COOPER: You're saying he took an oath. I'm telling you what the judges found him guilty of.
PORTER: He took an -- well, you know what, sometimes rulings aren't necessarily accurate. I mean there's all kinds of things that can be said about someone, but what he did is quite different.
COOPER: Well, let me tell you what Roy Moore said about those judges. He said that --
PORTER: -- the Constitution of the state and the Constitution of the uniTed States.
COOPER: Right. He at the time said that those judges were radical homosexuals and transgendered activists. Do you really believe that the judges on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary are radical homosexuals and transgendered people?
PORTER: I really don't know about the judges and what their orientation happens to be. COOPER: Well, you said you've been down there, you've been looking into it. I thought you would have loved to see if they're homosexuals or transgendered people running the court.
PORTER: Well, it matters not to me. What matters is we have someone willing to defend our religious liberty, defend marriage as the Constitution as he's sworn to uphold the Constitution of the state and the nation.
COOPER: I do want to quickly ask you though about where the judge stands on a number of issues that he's spoken of in the past but not as much recently because we haven't obviously been able to get to him directly. Does Judge Moore still believe that homosexual conduct should be illegal and that homosexuality is still the same thing as bestiality?
PORTER: Well, I think that what Judge Moore -- I can't answer that question, but what I can answer is that he's --
COOPER: Because that's what he said in the past. Can you get back to us on that one?
PORTER: I don't have that answer but I can tell you what he does believe regarding that issue. And regarding that issue, if you want to talk about making sure we don't have sexual predators --
COOPER: No, I'm not talking about sexual predators. I'm talking about anybody that's homosexual, gay, lesbian people.
PORTER: Let me answer, if I may. You've got to let me answer, Cooper.
PORTER: Excuse me, Anderson, Mr. Anderson Cooper. Let me just say, he wants to put out a welcome mat in front of these young girls, if you are a junior high school girl or if you are a high school girl, what abortion Jones is saying is we're putting out a welcome mat to any boy who's feeling like a girl that day, he's free to walk into the bathroom, the locker room with his camera phone and shower with your daughter. People of Alabama aren't going to take this radical position.
PORTER: They're not going to take the radical position, he says I can't tell you I won't take your gun away.
COOPER: Right. Can you get back to us on whether --
PORTER: And he said I can't tell you I won't take your religious liberty away.
COOPER: Can I ask you as the spokesperson --
PORTER: That's where abortion Jones stands. COOPER: Can I ask you as a spokesperson, can you get back to us on whether or not he still believes that homosexuality should be legal?
PORTER: I believe that he believes the bible and what the bible has to say --
COOPER: I'm just asking can you get back to us? If you don't want to answer that question, that's fine. But can you get back to us?
PORTER: I can answer that -- yes, I can look into that for you.
COOPER: Can you ask you, does he still believes that 9/11 may have happened -- I'm asking his public positions. Does he still believe that 9/11 may have happened because, "We distanced ourselves from God?" That's what he said in the past. Does he still believe this?
PORTER: You know, this is the thing. That when -- a lot of people talk about God and how they're Christians. In fact if you look at the commercials of Dough -- of Roy Moore's opponent, he's telling everybody what a great Christian he is and how he defends --
COOPER: You don't know the answer about 9/11 either, do you?
PORTER: I don't know the answer to 9/11, no, I'm sorry. I don't have that answer.
COOPER: OK, third question, does he still believe an American citizen who's a Muslim should not be able to serve in Congress?
PORTER: I think that what he's getting at there is that we believe in the rule of law by the Constitution, not Sharia Law. And I think that's really the bottom line and what we're looking at.
COOPER: Right. He said that Keith Ellison should not be used to swear on the Koran.
PORTER: -- I am sworn to uphold the Constitution and he'll lose his job if he has to to stand for that Constitution.
COOPER: So you don't know the answer to that either whether he still believes that?
PORTER: Well, I believe his position has to do with whether we follow the Constitution or the ridiculously oppressive to women Sharia Law.
COOPER: Does he still believe that Keith Ellison shouldn't be allowed to swear on the Koran.
PORTER: And so if you want a guy that's for women's rights, Anderson, if you want somebody who's for women's rights --
[21:30:03] COOPER: I get you don't want to answer these questions and that's cool but I'd rather you just say you don't want to answer them rather than just ignore them. PORTER: I'm answering them.
COOPER: Does he still believe --
PORTER: He picks the Constitution over Sharia Law and the people of Alabama agree.
COOPER: Does he still believe that there are Sharia Law that exists that communities in the U.S. are being ruled by Sharia Law as he did in the past? Does he still believe that?
PORTER: I think he sees that there is a movement toward that. If you look to --
COOPER: Right. That's not what he said. He said there were actually communities that are being run by Sharia Law. Does he still believe that?
PORTER: Well, there are communities overseas that are being run --
COOPER: No, no, in the United States.
PORTER: I'm not sure if there're any here in America but I know that there's a movement toward that and he stands for the Constitution.
PORTER: That's what you know.
COOPER: If you get back to us on that that would be great too.
PORTER: He's going to fight -- he's going to fight to us -- I've already -- I've told you what I know and that is the Constitution --
COOPER: You told me what you know but you don't know what his position is. I'm just asking as his spokesperson --
PORTER: Women suppressive law.
COOPER: -- I'd love to hear his position. Does he still believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States?
PORTER: That is his position. I'm pretty sure -- I can tell you with confidence that this is the guy that stood with the Constitution even when it cost him everything.
COOPER: Does he --
PORTER: You don't have to question that. We already know that. He's been through the fire and he's come out gold. That's what the people of Alabama know --
PORTER: -- and they're not going to be bullied. They're not going to be told what to do by the lynch mob media and they're not going to be told what to do by pro-abortion Democrats. That's what we're going to see --
COOPER: There's two more questions.
PORTER: -- six days from now on the 12th of December.
COOPER: Again, you're the spokesperson, I'm just trying to get his positions in. Does he still believe that the U.S. has become the focus of the evil in the world because the U.S. promotes things in his words like same-sex marriage?
PORTER: You know, you can ridicule biblical beliefs if you want --
COOPER: I'm not ridiculing, I'm asking you -- I'm giving you quotes of exactly what your candidate has said. You're the spokesperson and you seem unwilling. I know you're not from Alabama but you see him either not to know what his positions are or unwilling to actually tell me what his positions are.
PORTER: It's very public knowledge that he stood for marriage between one man and one woman as it has been for 200 years in the United States. That's not a secret. There's no --
COOPER: I'm just wondering does he still believe the U.S. is the focus of evil in the modern world because that's a pretty bold statement.
PORTER: He has stood for the Constitution and that's really what it's all about. It comes down to who do you want to represent the people of Alabama.
COOPER: I appreciate your time, Janet Porter. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More of that interviews online. The election in Alabama is five days away. You can count on CNN to cover every minutes of it.
When we come back, more breaking news. The White House admits the President's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel hurts the peace process. We'll hear from the chief Palestinian negotiator, next.
[21:36:22] COOPER: President Trump has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and started the process of moving the U.S. embassy there. The announcement was met with widespread condemnation from pretty much every world leader except the Israeli Prime Minister. Palestinian officials said the decision would undermine America's role in the Middle East peace process. And now CNN is learning that senior White House officials acknowledged the choice has at least temporarily derailed that process.
I spoke with the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat just before air. Here's that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mr. Erekat when the President says that this is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work toward a lasting agreement, to that you say what?
SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: I say that President Trump became part of the problem, not part of the solution. He knows very well that we were engaged with him and his team very seriously in good faith in order to achieve the ultimate deal. And the main principle between us as we agreed with the Israelis no side should take any steps that preempt or prejudge issues except for permanent status including Jerusalem. Then comes President Trump to announce that Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel. That's dictation, not negotiation.
And I think what he did tonight, he really disqualified the United States from any future role in peace making. That's the honest truth. He's rewarding the Israeli government for a settlement activities, dictation, human rights violations and the upper sight system they're creating.
The fact is such a speech on Jerusalem with all its history, religion, what it means to Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, and then Arab -- then it comes and throw this decision in order to -- I don't know, maybe for internal reasons, for other reason, but that's destroying the two-state solution.
COOPER: So are you --
EREKAT: That is destroying moderates like us in the region and that's crowning extremists in this region.
COOPER: So are you saying that the U.S. is no longer can be viewed as an honest broker in the peace process?
EREKAT: Anderson, I know that the United States was always biased towards Israel and I know that Israel is part of America's political life, but we had an agreement that no side should preempt or prejudge issues as if for permanent status. Now comes the American Congress and issue with Air Force to cut airport Palestinians comes the State Department to issue a closure order for the office in Washington, comes President Trump speak about recognizing Israel as the capital of Israel and moving and instructing his people to prepare for moving the embassy. What's left?
If you want to dictate Jerusalem before the negotiations begin, if you want to dictate refugees before the negotiations begin, and you want to dictate security. I'm saying that we -- these issues should be lift to negotiations between the two parties. Now the United States, the President acts more Israeli than the Israelis. What's left for him to play a role with me and the Israelis? COOPER: The President did say that the U.S. isn't, and I'm quoting him, taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Do you believe he left the door open for Jerusalem also being the capital of a future Palestinian state?
EREKAT: I don't think so because what he said overdue that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state, Israel, and then he said united. So by the fact when President Trump says I recognize Israel overdue 70 Israel, Jews, whatever it is, he's dictating and accepting Israel's annexation of Jerusalem and he knows and we told him that it's meaningless to have a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital.
COOPER: So what happens now? (INAUDIBLE) is reporting that Palestinian authority officials are prepared if necessary to sever ties to the White House. Is that in the cards? Would you support that?
[21:40:04] EREKAT: No. Look, look, I think it's premature to jump to things now. I think there will be an emergency meeting for the Palestine Center Council, which is the highest legislative bloody for the PLO, and maybe in the next few days. And then they will study this and make the decisions and announce it.
I think personally speaking, I think if the two states are undermined between the river of Jordan and the Mediterranean, Palestinians should focus on one state equal rights.
Judaism for us was never a threat or will never be a threat. Judaism is one of God's great religions like Christianity, like Islam. And I think if the Israelis and the President of the United State believe in dictating, I believe that the Palestinian struggle should not speak about two states as President Trump, you know, mentioned after dictating the push of Jerusalem.
I think our struggle should focus on equal rights. Settlements or peace, I think the Israeli governments have chosen settlements and I think the President of the United States have decided to reward such settlement activities and such violations committed by Israel and he himself is violating American positions, violating international law, violating terms of reference provided for by the peace process, and above all providing agreements signed between us and the Israelis, not to dictate but rather negotiate issues for permanent status including Jerusalem.
COOPER: What does that mean? When you say focus on equal rights as opposed to a two-state solution, are you saying that if this continues that Palestinians should not be seeking a two-state solution?
ERAKAT: I don't think we can anymore. If the President of the United States decides that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and he wants to push the world to do that, it's meaningless. We told him it's meaningless to have a Palestine state without East Jerusalem as its capital.
COOPER: Saeb Erakat I appreciate your time. Thank you.
ERAKAT: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. Joining the conversation is Peter Beinartt. Peter, how do you see the President's decision today?
PETER BEINART, CONTRIBUTOR, THE ATLANTIC: I think what Saeb Erekat said is very important. If the two-state solution dies, what you will see is a mass movement for one state of equal rights between Palestinians and Jews which will mean the end of a Jewish state of Israel. With Donald Trump -- the reason --
COOPER: How so?
BEINART: Because if there is a -- if there is an equal democratic state for all people between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, it won't have a Jewish majority and it won't have a Jewish character. That's where the Palestinian national movement is going. Not because people like Erakat want it to go there but because this President and this Israeli Prime Minister are foreclosing the possibility of a Palestinian state.
It's important to understand the reason that previous presidents didn't recognize Israeli control. Forty percent of the people in -- who live in the city of Jerusalem are not Israeli citizens. They are Palestinians who live without basic rights.
They're not Israeli citizens, they're not Palestinian citizens because there's no Palestinian state. So what previous American president said is when there's a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and those people have basic human rights, we will recognize Israeli's legitimacy over West Jerusalem.
By giving that to Benjamin Netanyahu, someone who is repeatedly said recently that he doesn't support a two-state solution at all, what you're basically doing is giving him the blessing to never allow a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. And as Saeb Erekat rightly said, a Palestinian state without a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem is like a state in Westchester with no access to New York City, it's absurd.
So you're killing the two-state solution and you're moving Palestinians toward a push for a one-state solution.
COOPER: Even if the President says today we're leaving open the possibility of, you know, not defining the boundaries of a Palestinian capital.
BEINART: He destroyed the Palestinians leverage. The one thing that Palestinians have -- the Palestinians are a very weak party. They're not a state, they don't have an army. The one thing they have on their side is recognition. It's the idea that the world will withhold recognition of Israel in certain ways until it comes to terms with the Palestinians. If you give Benjamin Netanyahu that recognition without him having to give the Palestinians anything, which is what he wants, you've cut the Palestinians off at the knees. That's what I think Erakat is trying to say.
JENNINGS: This has been U.S. law for 22 years. Republican presidents, Democratic presidents, on June the 5th of this year, 90 United States senators voted to affirm this as the position of the U.S. government. Donald Trump ran his campaign pledging to rebuild the U.S. relationship with Israel and we can see the Israeli response today. They're extremely happy.
Our relationship with Israel was left in tatters by the Obama administration. I think what Donald Trump has done is to rebuild that relationship. Most Americans and certainly most people who support the President are going to see this the way Israel sees it.
But again, I want to stress, this is a bipartisan position. Virtually everybody who's run for president has taken this position. Ninety U.S. senators on June the 5th, I think we're generating a lot of controversy here because people hate the President, not because they want to recognize the political reality in the United States.
MILLER: And the other point too I mean let's not lose sight of the fact that the President came out today and said he's in support of a two-state solution.
JENNINGS: No, he didn't say that. He would say he support a two- state solution if the parties agree on it, which is the different than the position George W. Bush, Barack Obama -- no, they took the position that was American policy.
[21:45:05] MILLER: -- in the interview, the Palestinians are not committed to a two-state solution.
JENNINGS: No, actually the Palestinians have a specific proposal on the table. I could give the details for a two-state solution.
MILLER: But why are they talking about walking away?
JENNINGS: Because they're saying that the two-state solution is being destroyed in front of them. The Palestinians --
MILLER: It's because they don't want to negotiate in good faith.
JENNINGS: No, actually if you look at the negotiations, they negotiated in extremely good faith --
COOPER: He also said in the interview, which I don't know if we played that part is, if the President had said, you know, I recognize Jerusalem is the capital for Israel, East Jerusalem as the future capital of the Palestinian state, that would have been different than what he actually said, which he made no mention of that. That's what Saeb --
BEGALA: Or get something for it. This has been -- Scoot is exactly right. It's a bipartisan position in America. It's been our law for 22 years that we're going to move our embassy to Jerusalem, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Why have we not done it? Because that's a piece of the final status.
Jerusalem is the most difficult piece of real state on God's earth and so we don't want to take one tiny piece of that final status and preempt it. We could have gotten a lot for this, a lot. And then Donald Trump in part was elected and so I'm the art of the deal. I can make a deal. Well, he just gave away his most powerful piece of leverage in the most dangerous territory on earth.
COOPER: We're going to take a break. We're going to continue -- I mean it was a campaign promise, the President followed through on it, one of several he's kept. We'll get into that, next.
[21:50:36] COOPER: Whether you agree with his positions or not, President Trump has kept a number of his campaign promises, including today with his key announcement on the Middle East. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now to the panel. I mean, to the point -- I think, Jason, you made it earlier that this is something politicians have promised for years, they've run on it and then they ignore it when they actually get in office. So, the President's credit whether you believe it was the right thing to do or not, he did follow through.
MILLER: And from both parties, this isn't just a Republican or a Democrat thing, I mean politicians from both sides have been doing this for decades. And so, as a Trump supporter, I was glad to see what he did today, that he took that step and show that he had to follow through and he has a whole lot other campaign promises. I look forward to see him implement here.
But I think there's one kind of captain-obvious point here that no one's made tonight, and that's the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. I mean that's where they have their center of government. That's where -- I mean, who are we to come in and say, that might -- you might think that's your capital, but we're not going to go and recognize or acknowledge it? I think that's just silly.
POWERS: Well, but we are supposed to be -- the United States is supposed to be playing an honest broker role in this dispute. And so, when you take sides in an argument, you sort of give up the idea of being an honest broker. So I think there is an argument against doing it. And you know, there's a reason that even though people said they're going to do it but they didn't actually do it, it's not because they were just wanton campaign promise breakers, it's because they recognize that it could lead to a lot of instability and a lot problems and make it more difficult to achieve an agreement.
SETMAYER: At this point though I think the risk -- there's a risk in doing this. I happen to agree with Trump's decision to do this actually. Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel and it has been for a very long time. And the fact that this is not new, it is a bipartisan effort, I think people need to remember that, you know, Chuck Schumer was a cosponsor of that resolution back in June, you know.
So, it -- I think that this may not necessarily kill a potential peace plan there. I mean, obviously, this has been a challenge for many, many years, something necessity (ph) and effort, it may never happen.
But I think there's a little bit of overstatement about how this is going to destroy any idea of peace. I mean, it -- for Israel, any move forward for a peace plan has to have an acknowledgement that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, or else it's a nonstarter. You're never going to have a peace plan without that element of it. So, I think it's hyperbolic to say that has blown everything up because Israel would never negotiate unless that was included.
BEINART: West Jerusalem is Israel's rightful capital. There are sacred spaces for Jews in East Jerusalem that absolutely need to be protected in any peace agreement. But Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, and the Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem are not Israelis citizen. They live in an essentially a colonial status in which they subject to Israeli control but lack basic rights. So, Israel does not have democratic legitimacy in East Jerusalem.
If you want to say that Israel should be praised, as I think they should be, for being a democracy, you also have to recognize that in East Jerusalem it's not a democracy. And one thing on the bipartisan point, right? The Vietnam War was also a bipartisan effort. We, all on this panel, know very well that democrats and republicans can get together in pursuit of things actually make no sense. And this makes no sense.
SETMAYER: But the holy site in Jerusalem has been protected internationally for everyone while Israel has controlled those areas. It is something that didn't happen before when everybody else --
BEINART: Sorry, that's not true, but in fact, it's extremely difficult for Palestinians from the west bank, especially men under the age of 40, to even get into East Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, because they can't move -- they can't go to --
SETMAYER: Perhaps because of terrorism --
BEINART: No. Actually, most Palestinians in the west bank are not interested in committing terrorism. Israel has very brutal control of movement in the west bank for Palestinians. COOPER: We got to take a break. Thanks everybody on the panel tonight.
The latest on the fast moving fires burning in California, crews are desperately trying to get the upper hand. The images are incredible. The weather is not helping. The latest from the fire.
[21:57:1] COOPER: Breaking news out of Southern California, where several fires are burning tonight. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate in Los Angeles all due to this frightening fire near the 405 Freeway, one of the nation's busiest roadways. This is a commute many people will never forget, part of the freeway shut down today due to the flames, but reopened.
Officials are warning more intense winds will make efforts of containing the fire is difficult. The biggest trouble spot, north of L.A. and Ventura, that's where our Paul Vercammen is tonight.
So, Paul, Ventura County Fire Department, I know they just gave an update on the fire. What did they say?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they confirmed this is a monster of a fire, Anderson, 90,000 acres have burnt. Only 5% contained. If you look off to my right shoulder, this is northwest of the city of Ventura, this is where it's burning close to the Pacific Ocean, and it seems that every canyon, every ridge is ablaze. The firefighters cannot go up there, too dangerous to try to fight it with hand crews so they have to let it burn down toward the 101 freeway and the Pacific Ocean. The concern, of course, you can see these embers in the air, if those land on the roof or hit a house or a tree, they can spot fire and that can cause more damage to homes.
Now, another point they made, they say 150 structures have been burned. They didn't raise that number at all, and they confirmed that they are going to have more structures burned, they don't have the ability right now to go out there and do the kind of damage assessment as they call it, to go ahead and count how many homes have actually burned, Anderson.
COOPER: See those trees that's on fire right now. There are more fires threatening other parts of Southern California as well?
VERCAMMEN: There are. This is the big one, but what you've got as you saw that there was that fire that you talked about on the 405 Freeway, near the Getty Center. There's other fire in Los Angeles County.
And so, you basically have a situation where they are spreading resources as best they can, California works some of that mutual aid back where fire departments help each other. Pure understanding of Ventura County, I can see the mud flaps on a fire truck, for example, from Monterrey County, and others who have come from Los Angeles, but they have to be so mindful to 2not put all of their resources into one region because that can leave a place vulnerable. And the next thing, you know, that area can go up, and they just won't have the firefighters to defend it. It's a real conundrum right now because these winds and these fires have been so bad, Anderson.
COOPER: So, are, I mean, there's -- are they fighting it overnight?
VERCAMMEN: They are. They're keeping crews overnight. They're working in shifts. I mean, in this fire alone, here in Ventura County, they estimate that there's going to be about 2,000 firefighters on the line, and some of them will come from out of state. And I was talking to the fire public information officer, he came over. He was nice enough to do us an interview with us. I mean, he said, one of the challenges we're having is that, you know, we've got injuries, lot of high injuries because there's ash.
COOPER: I get that.
VERCAMMEN: And we're getting these guys as many hot meals as much rush we can.
COOPER: Yes. Wish them best. Paul Vercammen, thank you. Be careful. Our best to all of the people there facing the flame and fighting the fires.
Thanks for watching "360". Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.