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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Last Known Paris Terror Fugitive Captured; Romney Backs Cruz, Calls For Open Convention; Fox News Blasts Trump's Sick Obsession With Megyn Kelly; Awaiting Start Of Trump's Utah Rally. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 18, 2016 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with breaking news in the capture of the last known Paris terror fugitive. He spent four months on the run, four months as the most wanted man in Europe.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

COOPER: And now four months after the slaughter of so many innocent people, a shootout, a takedown and arrest of Salah Abdeslam and four others just outside Brussels. Now, in a moment we have details on the raid that got him, as well as how he managed to elude authorities, how he managed to elude authorities for so long.

But first, how we got here starting with the worst day imaginable in one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): November 13th, 2015, Paris under siege. Started as a typical Friday night ended with five coordinated attacks -- restaurants and bars, a soccer match, a concert. All hit nearly simultaneously by three coordinated teams of terrorists leaving 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

But it was this man who soon became the center of the investigation. 26-year-old French national Salah Abdeslam who police believe handled the logistics of the attacks and was the only suspected terrorist of the ten involved to have survived.

Hours after the attack, Abdeslam managed to evade authorities and travel towards Belgium with two acquaintances. The car he rode in was even stopped near the Belgian border and his documents checked. But police didn't know who they had and they let him go, touching off a massive manhunt.

In the months since, there have been some 100 separate raids and the arrest of nearly 60 suspects. But, still, no Abdeslam. The search for the fugitive turned into an international dragnet spanning multiple countries, including even the United States. But the trail was cold until Tuesday of this week when authorities found Abdeslam's fingerprints during a raid in southern Brussels in which one person was killed and two others escaped. And then this -- a shootout today between Belgian authorities and

Abdeslam. The hunt for this wanted terrorist came to an end in the place it began. The small city of Molenbeek just outside Brussels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And with that, let's go straight to that city where CNN's Nima Elbagir joins us with the very latest.

So walk us through what happened today, Nima.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, this extraordinary sequence was triggered almost by happenstance. It was what they found in that raid on Tuesday. In fact, the ferocity of the response they were met with in that raid on Tuesday that tipped authorities off if two suspected militants were willing to come out blazing with Kalashnikovs, then it gave them the sense that someone very important had been inside that property, but had at that point escaped, evaded their capture. And that's when they started broadening out their net.

Dozens of house searches, of raids, of investigations ultimately leading them here to Molenbeek where local residents told us that was it yesterday evening where they started sensing that there was an intensification as someone described it to me of activity.

Once the raid started about 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, Anderson, though, he was captured pretty quickly, about ten minutes past 4:00. If you can believe he was brought out. And even though he is believed to have been unarmed, he was injured in his leg. Also catch it with him were three members of the family who are harboring him. Abdeslam grew up very close to this address here and it's clear that when he felt that net closing around him, he came back to where he felt safest.

COOPER: And the fact that he came back to that very neighborhood where they have been searching for months now, what does that tell us? I mean, to me it seems like it just shows how kind of established some of these familiar and neighborhood networks are.

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. And I think also you can't ever underestimate the power of fear. We were just here last week trying to speak to people about these recruitment networks, about this -- about why this specific suburb is such a fertile ground for radical, violent jihadist ideology. And so many people wouldn't speak to with us, wouldn't even meet with us, let alone speak to us on camera.

There is so much fear in addition to, as you said, those familial bonds. He grew up here. Abaaoud, the mastermind of the Paris attack lived only a few streets away. They are very much entrenched within these communities. And that is the uphill battle that has faced Belgian authorities right from the start. That they' have had no intelligence penetrations or really no meaningful intelligence penetration into these communities.

[20:05:01] COOPER: And the fact that he has been taken alive, if he starts talking and giving up details, I mean, that will be certainly good news for the investigation to learning exactly what happened in the Paris attacks and how far it went.

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. And they have already said that even just coming this far into the investigation, they are realizing how little they knew about how wide that network actually was. And what the French and Belgium authorities are repeatedly stressing to us today, Anderson, is this isn't over. The fact that Salah Abdeslam has been caught that might provide some solace, some respite to those families in Paris. But in terms of the threat level, the danger here, this continues to be a very fluid, very worrying situation for authorities.

COOPER: Nima Elbagir, thanks for the update.

Let's get some perspective now from our national security analyst Peter Bergen, author of "United States Jihad." Also CNN counterterrorism analyst and former senior CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd. Also CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, author of "agent storm, my life inside Al-Qaeda and the CIA."

I mean, this big break in the manhunt came, what was it, Tuesday?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Tuesday is the key day. In the afternoon on Tuesday, Belgian police moved in on an address in the southwestern part of Brussels. They believe that that address was linked to the Paris attacks in some way but they weren't expecting to find anybody there at all. But they ran into this big gunfight. The terrorist -- three terrorists inside opened fire. Two of them got away, including Salah Abdeslam. And then after getting away, according to the Belgian state media, then got in touch with an associate in Brussels who was under surveillance already by Belgian authorities. And that's what allowed them to know that he was then going on to Molenbeek.

COOPER: Peter, authorities in Belgium have said that since the attacks in Paris, they have conducted 100 police searches. The fact that Abdeslam may have been essentially hiding in these very neighborhoods where they were looking, what does that tell you about how he was being hidden and how well protected he may have been?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think back to Whitey Bulger, who is one of the most wanted people on the FBI's most wanted list for more than two decades, and he evaded capture, despite the, you know, the best efforts of the FBI. So, you know, if somebody is really being careful, after all, this is only four months. It's not like four years, being careful about their communications, their internet communications, cell phone usage and the like, you know, they can go to (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Philip, the fact that he went back to this neighborhood was with a family that he had known for a long time, does that - I mean, I guess one way to look at is that the number of potential people who would have hidden him is relatively small if he has to kind of go back to known associates. Is that accurate?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think there's a couple of ways to think about it, Anderson. There's an additional piece and that is a cultural piece. You have a neighborhood here where security forces, intelligence services, the police are not welcome. So I don't think it's only the family and friends protecting him. I think it's an environment where local people in the community do not want to talk to the police. It's not about protecting a terrorist. It's about saying, we don't want the police in our neighborhoods.

The second story, I think relates to that's interesting, Anderson, it's not clear to me he had an exit plan. I think he initially anticipated dying. He did not go back to Syria, I believe, because ISIS expected him to die and he didn't think he would be welcomed after he backed out. So I think he returned and had to go to this small circle because he didn't have an option.

COOPER: Paul, do you think that's true?

CRUICKSHANK: One member of this circle who are protecting him was Muhammad Belkayeed (ph), an Algerian terrorist, a senior ISIS operative. There was some speculation he was persona nongrata within ISIS. Well, clearly, he was still very much part of the ISIS set-up, Anderson, because he was with a senior ISIS Algerian terrorist. And that terrorist was the guy providing covering fire allowing him to escape on Tuesday from that foreign neighborhood of Brussels.

By the way, Muhammad Belkayeed (ph), they think he was one of the senior powers behind the Paris attacks. He was actually coordinating it from Brussels over the phone when they were attacking in Paris giving orders to people like Abdelhamid Abaaoud (ph). So the fact they managed to kill him on Tuesday, every bit as significant as the capture today of Salah Abdeslam.

COOPER: Peter, has anything really changed in Europe in terms of sharing of intelligence and sharing of information? Because that was one of the things we kept talking about, you know, when we were there in the early days of the coverage how this guy Abaaoud, you know, was able, though he was wanted, was able to move from Syria back into Europe to get into Paris.

BERGEN: I think one indicator of that, things have improved is Interpol now has a list of about 5,000 names, many of them from western countries so people that they believe are foreign fighters. And you know, to assemble that list of names, be multiple European countries have to proffer their list to Interpol. So I think the situation has improved somewhat.

[20:10:06] COOPER: Philip, do you agree? Do you think there have been improvements?

MUDD: Yes. But I'm skeptical over the long term. What I witnessed at the FBI is when you have an event like this, people are pressured to share information. As Peter said, you are pressured to give information about your own nationals. Over time, though, that pendulum swings back. People start to ask questions at the other side of this that is the civil liberties side about why a government in Belgium is passing information on Belgian citizens to Interpol when those citizens haven't committed a crime. So they are very difficult questions that we deal here in the United States about preventive intelligence when you are passing information on one of your own citizens before he's done something wrong.

COOPER: And Paul, we have already seen that in Paris. We have seen demonstrations against the emergency restrictions that are still in place.

CRUICKSHANK: There have been those kind of protests and a big debate going on between security and civil liberties in Europe right now. But this san unprecedented threat, Anderson. ISIS are ratcheting up their international attack planning. And there's real concern as they begin to lose territory in Syria and Iraq. They lost about 22 percent according to some estimates. They're going to lash out. They're going to compensate for that by launching more and more attacks in Europe.

COOPER: Do you think the information sharing is better? I mean --.

CRUICKSHANK: The information sharing has become better. But it is still a lot about personal relationships between, say, a cop in Belgium and a cop in France. It needs to be much more systematic at the European level. There's a lot of work to be done in that regard given that this guy is a threat.

COOPER: Paul Cruickshank, thank you. Phil Mudd, always. Peter Bergen, as well.

Just ahead, more breaking news. Donald Trump takes a fresh swipe at FOX anchor Megyn Kelly. His latest tweet and the sharp reaction it's drawing. CNN's Brian Stelter is going to join us shortly.

Coming up next, protesters are now arriving at a Trump rally getting underway shortly in Salt Lake City. The question is, after all the violence and on the tough talk from the candidate, what will become a rerun of the mayhem in Chicago. Will it, or will things stay calm? Certainly hope they do. Mitt Romney's latest efforts to stymie Trump's chances in Utah slamming him saying who he will vote for instead but not endorsing the candidate he's voting for. We'll try to make sense of that when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:47] COOPER: Breaking news tonight in the stop Trump effort. Mitt Romney saying he will vote for Ted Cruz in the Utah caucuses next week posting late today on Facebook the 2012 Republican nominee and devout member of the LDS church explained why. Today he writes there's a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of the leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and most recently threats and violence. He goes on to say I am repulsed by each and every one of these. The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather Mr. Trump is to have an open convention.

Now, Governor Romney did not, however, endorse Senator Cruz. Either way it moved Donald Trump to tweet quote "failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the man who choked and let us all down is now endorsing lying Ted Cruz. This is good for me." He also said quote "going to Salt Lake City, Utah for big rally. Lying Ted Cruz should not be allowed to win there. Mormons don't like liars. I beat Hillary."

But Mormons do they don't like is one thing. Here is another. This is the first big event since Donald Trump warned of rioting if he is denied the nomination. Following a string, obviously, about the incidents involving protesters at other recent Trump rallies. And tonight, anti-Trump demonstrators, members of students for a Democratic society say they will be turning out in force to greet him.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now from where they are assembling just a short distance away from tonight's venue -- Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. We are about a block and a half away from the event here at a civics area near the event. You can see behind me. There's a lot of anger in the air. A lot of anti-Trump sentiment. There are a lot of chants just a short while ago. There are speeches planned and they are going to continue, they say, until Trump dumps his attempt to become president.

To give you an idea, I reached out to the Trump campaign today and asked them if they had added any security to their campaign after recent events. And after seeing the sentiment from protesters like these behind me, they didn't respond to the comment. They forwarded my question to the secret service. But it's evident from the event we saw today and other Trump events that we have been through before that there is enhanced security.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Despite assurances from the Republican front- runner --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no violence. There's lovefests. These are lovefests.

SANCHEZ: Confrontations between protesters and supporters have become routine at Donald Trump's campaign events.

TRUMP: Knock the crap out of him. We are doing seriously. I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.

SANCHEZ: As crowds cheer on --

TRUMP: I'd like to punch him in the face, I will tell you.

SANCHEZ: And seemingly echo the billionaire businessman's heated rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.

SANCHEZ: Tension between Trump's fans and his most vocal detractors boiled over last week forcing him to cancel an event at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Shortly after, fists were flying with skirmishes pouring into the streets. Trump accused Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders of playing a role in

inciting the protests.

TRUMP: I don't even call them protesters. I call them disruptors. A lot of them come from Bernie Sanders, whether he wants to say it or not. And if he says no, then he is lying.

SANCHEZ: And he has downplayed the confrontation.

TRUMP: There's no violence. I mean, nobody has been hurt.

SANCHEZ: The hectic atmosphere of Trump's crowds found its way on to the stage at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday. A 22-year-old protester tried to jump on stage and snatch Trump's microphone leaving Trump bewildered with secret service officers rushing to his defense.

While the secret service has protected Trump for months, private security now appears to be playing a bigger role in keeping him out of harm's way. On Monday, the campaign had anyone attending a rally in Ohio bussed in from about seven miles away.

TRUMP: Well, I haven't noticed that much of a difference. We've always had the secret service around. And, you know, I feel very secure.

SANCHEZ: As the Republican race moves closer to the Cleveland convention in July, concerns are mounting. Not only that protests may continue to follow Trump, but that anything short of a Trump nomination could lead to clashes on the floor of the convention itself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[20:20:08] COOPER: Boris, the group protesting behind you, one of the organizers is saying quote "if we get a lot of people out, we'll be much more confrontational." Have they explained what they mean by that?

SANCHEZ: It's not exactly clear right now, Anderson. But from what we have seen in this crowd, it really speaks to this campaign season. There is a lot of anger and frustration. Obviously on this side it's directed toward Trump. To give you an idea there was a gentleman out here with a very vulgar sign. I asked him to get out of the way. There's a lot of vulgar signs out here. There is a lot of vulgarity spoken in the air and they are set to march to where the Trump event is going to take place.

It will be interesting to see how the two get along from what I've seen so far, it doesn't seem that it will turn violent the way it did in Chicago last week simply because there are fewer people. There is only about 100 to 200 people here right now. But obviously, we'll keep our eye on it and keep you updated with the very latest.

COOPER: All right, Boris. Thanks very much. I think we got a glimpse of the vulgar sign there. Our apology for the profanity in the background. Let's bring in our panelists. CNN political commentators Kayleigh

McEnany and Margaret Hoover. Kayleigh is a Trump supporter. Margaret is not, though she is a former George W. Bush staff and a GOP campaign veteran. Also with us Angela Rye, former executive director of the congressional black caucus and John King, chief national correspondent, "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor and Dean of the magic wall for us.

You know, Kayleigh, it is interesting. I mean, you hear these protesters saying look, we'll get more confrontational. Do you think this play in Donald Trump's favor?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Because his whole narrative has been I'm seeing vitriol coming from the protesters. And when you see signs like we just saw, that plays into the narrative. You know, it plays into this notion that there are very violent leftist protesters that showed up at his rally and shut it down one week ago today. There's a protester who dove on the stage and the secret service had to physically remove Donald Trump in order to shield him from the protester. It definitely helps them. It helps with the narrative that this not Donald Trump doing this. This is the left that is sending people to his events.

COOPER: Margaret, do you think it actually hurts what the protesters would like to see happen?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well - I mean, look, if they are trying to stop Trump, they aren't doing anything good. I mean, again, add this to the list of tactics that doesn't work slowing down Trump. We actually have real data, Anderson, that show us that in Florida, in the last days before the election, the Super Tuesday 3 in Florida, Monmouth University had a poll that said 22 percent of people who are going to vote actually voted in favor of Donald Trump because the protests solidified their protest for him.

COOPER: And Angela, one of the group's organizers said and I quote "a resolution is that he should be afraid to go to the city." Is that - I mean, is that OK to be hearing from protesters? I mean, their protest is one thing, you know, allowing a candidate to speak, I mean, he is the leading Republican candidate.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yes, I think -- well, there are couple of things. One is just to respond to you all. When you get to a point where the speech is so dangerous and so toxic, you feel like you can't help but to protest. So there are a lot of folks who turn out because they are part of an agitation strategy. And they can't sit at home and watch this just happen. And I understand. I certainly get it. It is helping Donald Trump with his supporters, but the speech that he's making and the constant rhetoric is also turning people against him. And there's a growing anti-Trump movement and I think that has a lot to do with the protesters' actions.

But I think in addition to that, today the campaign saying, you know what, you are no longer going to be able to get outside of the pin, press folks. You got to stay inside the pin. You can't film protesters. He knows that it's also harmful to his -- not just his rhetoric but his chances in the general. I think that's the case now.

COOPER: What do you make of Mitt Romney? I mean, he campaigned for John Kasich in Ohio. He says he's voting for Cruz in Utah. And basically saying an open convention is the only way.

HOOVER: Well, I mean, I think, Anderson, you have two strategies amongst Republicans who are not for Trump. There's this one idea that the only way to do it is to solidify around Ted Cruz n Ted Cruz can make block and tackle to the open convention. But then this other concept which clearly Mitt Romney supports. This is what he said when he made his major speech against Trump is that if you are in a state that's going to favor John Kasich, vote for John Kasich. If you are in a state that is going to favor Cruz, and I think that's what he's doing.

Clearly in Utah, he -- Ted Cruz needs to get over the 50 percent threshold in order to get all 40 of those delegates. And so, since Romney can caucus there, that is what he is saying. He is saying I'm in Utah. I'm going to caucus for Cruz.

COOPER: John, I mean, Cruz has often been critical of Romney saying he was a seriously fraud messenger against Obama 2012. And he was part of the GOP's mushy middle, I believe, is the phrase he used and now there is kind of none-endorsement endorsement from Romney which Cruz is obviously gladly accepting. The rules have been completely thrown out.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, up is down and down is up. And east is west, and west is east.

Look. If -- you are dead right. If go back you listen to Ted Cruz in the early days, his central reason for running was I'm not John McCain and Mitt Romney. I'm the guy who is not going to be squishy. I'm not the guy who is going to promise you I'm a conservative and then get to the general election and bolt for the middle and become more of a moderate.

So the fact that Mitt Romney is saying Ted Cruz tells you everything about the desperation in the Republican establishment to stop Donald Trump. Now, will it work? Margaret makes a key point. Donald Trump right now needs 55 percent of the remaining delegates to get to 1237. If he wins Arizona on Tuesday, that's winner take all. If he wins, so that would get him 50 percent of the day right there. So he would be on track. He would be essentially on track. The question is can you deny him anything out of Utah?

And what Donald Trump is hoping for, obviously, hope to win but it's a caucus state. Cruz has tended to do better when you get to conservative caucuses. But if he stays below 50 percent and Kasich picks up some delegates, even if Donald Trump gets let's say, you know, 30 percent, then he picks up 12 delegates. Add those to the delegates from Arizona, which would be 58. And then Donald Trump has a good day and he lowers the percentage he needs to the remaining primaries from 55 percent to 52 percent.

[20:25:53] COOPER: Kayleigh, does - do you think Mitt Romney actually even helps Ted Cruz or does he, again, kind of help Donald Trump?

MCENANY: No. He hurts Ted Cruz. Look. The curse of the establishment is upon Ted Cruz now. And if history is any indicator, that's a bad thing. They rallied around Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush fell. They rallied around Marco Rubio, Marco Rubio fell. And what John just said that, you know, he spoke to this desperation on the part of the establishment to topple Trump.

Where was that same desperation to beat Obama in 2012? We saw a much milder Mitt Romney than we're seeing now. Because when you are a threat to his country club party elitism, his country club establishment, when you threaten that, that's when Mitt Romney gets angry, not when the left comes after him.

COOPER: The curse of the establishment. That sounds like something out of "game of thrones."

We got to take a quick break. We are going to have more with our panel ahead as we wait for the Trump rally.

The even more breaking news tonight, Donald Trump's newest swipe at Megyn Kelly over at FOX News. What he called her this time and the response, the tough response he's getting for it from FOX.

Plus, the latest from the Cruz campaign despite not getting Romney's endorsement today, he obviously stands to gain a lot from the Stop Trump movement. What is senator Cruz have to say about Romney's place?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:58] COOPER: Welcome back tonight's breaking new Mitt Romney posting on facebook that he'll vote for Ted Cruz in next week's Utah caucuses saying he's repulsed by what Trump's campaign has become associated with. He did not, however, endorse Senator Cruz.

Donald Trump fired back on Twitter calling Romney a failed Presidential candidate who choked in 2012. Now as for Cruz is now just waiting on the Romney news. He just wrapped up the press conference in Douglas, Arizona. Arizona and Idaho also vote on Tuesday's.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins me from Phoenix with the latest on that. So you have Romney tweeting he'd vote for Cruz not quite an endorsement what did Cruz have to say?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he of course is embracing it right after that, Anderson. But it was really interesting today as he is campaigning here in Arizona, he's really peppered with questions from reporters as to why this wasn't a full-pledged endorsement from Mitt Romney . It was to it seemed more that he was endorsing the idea of strategically voting for Ted Cruz in Utah as a way to get to a contested convention. Here's what Cruz had to say in response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very much appreciated Governor Romney's kind tweet today where he announced he's going to vote for me in the Utah election and he encouraged others to do the same. Listen, in my book when someone says I'm voting for you and encourage everyone to vote for you, that's pretty darn good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And so, Cruz was saying there, you know, a vote is a vote in the end. Now the Cruz campaign is staying mum on whether Cruz and Romney will appear together campaigning throughout Romney state of Utah where Ted Cruz is scheduled to be tomorrow.

COOPER: And in Arizona, what's Cruz's message been to voters today?

SERFATY: Well, today he spent the day touring the border, the Arizona border with Mexico, talking about the problem of illegal immigration but it's been interesting the message to voters has really been a blunt one about the state of play. He's almost been speaking to the urgency of the moment, ratcheting up his rhetoric about how critical a juncture this is right now in the campaign. Almost aligning himself somewhat with the Stop Trump movement that this is the time to really go on the offense.

We heard him in a radio interview today say, yes, Donald trump has the momentum yes, Donald Trump is in the lead but this is a critical moment, led it, for us to come together and unite. Also he's really amping up the pressure on John Kasich about his position in the race saying today point blank that a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.

COOPER: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks. There's more breaking news. Donald Trump is ramping up his long-standing feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Here's what's he tweeted a short time ago. "Everybody should boycott the @megyn kelly show never worth watching always a hit on Trump. She is sick and the most overrated person on T.V."

Fox fired back in a statement tonight saying "Donald Trump's vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a Presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. Megyn is an exemplary journalist and one of the leading anchors in America we're extremely proud of her phenomenal work and continue to fully support her throughout everyday of Trump's endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults."

Back with the panel joining us also is CNN's Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources". Brian let me start with you, it's bizarre to me that this continues and I should say this continue really from Donald Trump continuing this. What more do you know about it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: This is something I've never quite seen from Fox news before in all my years covering the network. You know they've been critical of me before and you before, Anderson statements from Fox news have been fierce in the past. But this is unique they are calling the leading Republican candidate for President an abuser they are calling his obsession sick and extreme and now what does this mean for fox and Trump going forward?

There was going to be a debate next week it was going to be on Fox Kelly was going to be a questioner. Trump is not showing up. Kasich is not showing up so we don't have a debate. You have to wonder going forward if Trump will appear on Fox at all and more importantly whether the network is going to treat him differently in the future clearly.

This statement, it suggests they don't think -- the quote here, "beneath the dignity of a Presidential candidate", it's almost they are saying he's unfit to be President.

[20:35:07] COOPER: But, I mean you know, Richard Nixon famously had an enemies list. I mean, one can imagine if he's doing this during the campaign, as president, is he going to continue this kind of, you know, war against individual reporters? And we're all, you know, at this point, everybody is used to him calling reporters disgusting and, you know ...

STELTER: Right.

COOPER: ... the lowest form of life, all that sort of stuff.

But does this all really stem from that first Fox Debate where Megyn Kelly asked him a question based on statements he had made in the past about women?

STELTER: You know, his enemies list. There has been chatter this week. There's some web headlines actually using that phrase enemies list. Because there have been various incidents, including a couple this week where specific reporters were not allowed to appear at Trump events.

I don't want to overstate it because obviously there are hundreds of reporters covering Trump every single day without sort of retaliation. But he does seem to have certain acces he grinds and Megyn Kelly is for some reason one of them.

Maybe it does go back to that debate in August. But notice how Fox is using the word abuser here. It's almost like they're saying you can't ask a victim of domestic violence, what did you do to cause this? You can't ask Megyn Kelly what inappropriate question did you ask in order to start this feud?

She, according to her and her colleagues, are just trying to do their jobs. I think almost all journalists would agree with that assessment.

COOPER: Kayleigh, I mean you are a Trump supporter. Honestly, what do you think does this make any sense to you what your candidate is doing?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Look, I do think it's time to pivot and let's focus on the other candidates and not so much the media. However, that plays really well with the Republican base. Any time you attack the media, you have a based that ... COOPER: But we know he attacks the media. He calls every points, you

know, in every rally points and calls them disgusting. Whatever. That's what, you know, I mean I am not a fan of that. If that's what he wants to do, that's what he's going to do. But repeatedly going after her, retweeting people, calling her a bimbo, retweeting the stuff, I mean is that really presidential behavior?

MCENANY: I don't think he should retweet the bimbo tweet. Absolutely not. However it's important to understand ...

COOPER: Calling her crazy?

MCENANY: It's important to understand that where his gripe comes from. It's a very serious contention that started in the first debate. This was the coming out party for the GOP.

The GOP voters were going to get to see the candidates for the first time and embedded in the question that was after Donald Trump about several of the remarks that he's made with regards to women, embedded in that question is the notion that he's a misogynist. And that's important to point that one of those women came out the next day and said that that was taken out of context.

COOPER: Right. But I'm going to say, isn't he proving her right in the question? I mean, he's retweeted the word bimbo in reference to her. He's called her crazy. I mean, it's -- I got to say, I find it stunning. I mean Megyn Kelly is a very good news person. She's a respected anchor.

MCENANY: But here's the thing, Donald Trump doesn't just attack women. Many of us, many of his supporters ...

COOPER: But there's nobody else he's attacking like Megyn Kelly.

MCENANY: No, he's attacked Rubio as fervently and he's attacking Megyn Kelly.

COOPER: Rubio is a candidate who he's against.

MARGARET HOOVER, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is inexplicable. It does talk about narratives, Kayleigh. I mean, it does feeds this misogynistic narrative and this narrative of vulgarity and this narrative of a thin skin and ...

COOPER: I mean is it a coincidence he's attacking a very attractive, very smart woman who stood up to him?

HOOVER: Let's be very clear about ...

MCENANY: .... as fervently as he's attacked women. His attacks have not been directed at one gender, that would be sexist and may have been like widespread.

HOOVER: ... but let's be clear. I mean the hard hitting ...

COOPER: I don't hear him calling Charles Crowdhammer a bimbo or, you know, other words related to sexuality or ...

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: ... or blood coming out of wherever.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Have any male news person crazy.

MCENANY: He talks about Marco Rubio's dear, he called him little Marco, he goes on lying Ted, he levels a lot he's attacked. Quite frankly, as lot of supporters which he would stay away from the personal attack ...

COOPER: John King, I mean, you have covered reporters for a long time, have you ever -- I mean you covers politicians for a long time. Have you ever seen anything like this?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": No. I've been on the receiving end of Donald Trump, you know, throwing Barack Obama's birth certificate back at me. But that's pretty minor. It happens once or twice. You disagree with the politician, you tend to move on.

I've had candidates get mad at me in the past but nothing like this. It is -- find another word for it if it's not an obsession. He comes back to it every couple of weeks, he seems to restir this up.

And I'm sorry, what Megyn Kelly did in the first debate was perfectly appropriate. He wants to be president of the United States. He wants the nuclear football. She asked him about his own words. She didn't make anything up. She read carefully from transcripts and quoted him, things he had said.

Look, you know, sometimes you ask a question the candidate finds inappropriate. And the viewers can decide who's right and who's wrong whether it's inappropriate, whether it should have been other places in the debate, we've all been part of that.

But there's something about this -- I assume there's something either he just doesn't like a strong woman getting under his skin or there's something about this we don't know.

MCENANY: But one of the women came out and said that it was taken out of context.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: One person who is on the apprentice said that she wasn't offended that he told he'd like to see her on her knees.

HOOVER: Then what you do when you're Donald Trump is you say, you know, what here's what is really going on. And you just answer the question. You don't attack the reporter and ...

COOPER: And it also continues the idea that Donald Trump is incredibly thin skinned. Something he repeatedly denies. But somebody who's not thin skinned doesn't, first of all, continually -- I mean if you are in the public sphere and you are running for president, you are going to get half the country isn't going to like you and you're have people on television saying things about you.

[20:40:09] He's watching television constantly and constantly responding to people who were saying stuffs about him on television.

RYE: I think that's right. And because this seems like a touchy issue, I'll use another example.

Marco Rubio who used to brought out Kelly who attacked him on the size of his hands and we know it was a pretty silly fight. But he got fixated on what the size of other inheriting, the size of his hands at his next rally. He was going on and on responding to this.

When it comes to Megyn Kelly, that one question threw him for such a loop, he has not let go of this. He's been relentless in his ...

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: Angela, do you think he would have been less relentless if it was Bill O'Reilly? Because a ...

RYE: 100 percent.

COOPER: We're going to take a break. We're going to continue this conversation on the other side when we come back. More on this and the Stop Trump movement as we keep an eye on Salt Lake City where Trump supporters are waiting for him to speak and there are some protesters gathered outside as well. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're back with the panel talking among other things about Donald Trump's latest attack on Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly.

[20:45:00] Just to remind everyone. This is the moment at the first debate that seems to have originally set him off. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account ...

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

KELLY: No, it wasn't. Your Twitter account ...

TRUMP: Thank you.

KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.

TRUMP: Yes, I'm sure it was.

KELLY: Your twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sounds you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton who is likely to be the Democratic nominee that you are part of the war on women?

TRUMP: I think the big problem of this country has is being politically correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So something on he turns it to political correctness. I'm not sure that's really political correctness. I mean, what you should call women bimbos and things like that, which again, he then goes on and has repeatedly retweeted about Megyn Kelly. Does it give you pause as a supporter Kayleigh?

MCENANY: No, it doesn't. I think I know Donald Trump is not a misogynist. That's what this boils down to. Because I can tell you this if Bill O'Reilly asked that question, he would have attacked Bill O'Reilly as fervently as making Kelly. I don't think it had anything to do with our gender, I think we're very quick to jump to race and gender in this country instead of really looking at what ...

COOPER: How do you know that the would have attacked O'reilly just as he ...

MCENANY: Because he's attacked males all along with campaigns. He talks about Marco Rubio's ears, he's talked about all different physical attributes of all different sorts of people. It's not a gender specific thing.

COOPER: Brian, do you believe that?

STELTER: Well, the reason that's not true with all due respect to Kelly is that Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly are friends. They've been friendly for decades, they have gone to baseball games together, other games together. They're friends.

And so, I don't think Trump would have assaulted O'Reilly verbally the way he's assault to Megyn Kelly. That's one of the issues here is that Trump has a number of friendships or friendly relationships with Fox News stars like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

You have to wonder with this new statement from Fox if that's going to change in the days and weeks to come. I also think this goes something really really important which is the source of information, the candidates have depended on.

We want our presidential candidates, Democrats, or Republicans or whatever to get a wide variety of sources of information, including information they disagree with.

When Trump watches Megyn Kelly's show, he tweets and complaints because he doesn't like the critiques of his campaign. He also expresses and shares conspiracy theories and other false information in the ways other candidates do not. I think this comes down to what information he's willing to take in.

Is he not willing to take in Megyn Kelly's critique in the form of a question? Well, that should be concerning to voters, shouldn't it? RYE: I think that's right. And now he's gone one step further than what Brian is talking about, he's calling for an all-out boycott of the show. This wouldn't be so concerning to me. The verbal assault, I think you're right, he is verbally abusive to more than just Megyn Kelly. Certainly has been of other candidates, has been like school yard bullying.

But with that also what really troubles me is Michelle Fields, the Breitbart reporter. I am a Democratic and would never defend anything about right, Breitbart. But these are facts then I just refuse to question facts. But we saw this, we know this happened. Was yanked, physically abused now. So it goes from verbal abuse to ...

MCENANY: That's not true. That's not true.

RYE: Let me just finish my point.

STELTER: That is in dispute.

RYE: Let me just say, this is something where even if they say, maybe it didn't happen, the fact that he was willing to run behind his campaign manager and say it absolutely didn't happen and then have him on the stage saying right after the last primary, good job, I think is a problem because even if it didn't happen, you can still say, just so we're clear, I will never protect or defend anyone who physically abuses someone.

HOOVER: And that's why it's so actually so good to see Fox News supporting their anchor and supporting their journalist so vehemently. I mean it's very very refreshing to see somebody standing up to the bully. Back to this question of, is he a misogynist, is he not a misogynist?

You know what, it doesn't matter. Politics is perception. And the perception is there. The narrative is there and all these stuff will continue.

COOPER: Kayleigh, I want you to be able respond to Angela and then we have to go.

MCENANY: Yeah, you know, as far as the Breitbart reporter so, she admits in the audio if you guys go in watching the audio transcript that she did not see who assaulted her. So if she were to go in a court of law and say Corey Lewendowski did this as a campaign manager opf Donald Trump, that a judge would say hearsay and ...

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: ...there is C Span video that demonstrates that he's the one that ...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You see him reaching. You don't see him -- you don't see who he actually touches.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: You don't see him touching. In a court of law that would not be ...

RYE: But can you at least acknowledge that the fact that your candidate, like normally, let me just tell you the expectation of ...

COOPER: You see that the fact he had him right next to him ...

MCENANY: He stands behind his people.

[20:50:01] COOPER: We've got to ...

RYE: ... who ever abused her.

MCENANY: Rye, can you at least say that? Sorry. Go ahead.

COOPER: Brian Stelter, thank you for joining the panel. John King as well and all our panelists here as well ...

HOOVER: Thank you.

COOPER: ... as we heard earlier the Fox Republican debate on Monday maybe off but this is not Monday night here on CNN. All five remaining candidates, Democrats and Republicans sitting down with Wolf Blitzer and me. Five conversations, one night, 8:00 p.m. eastern time as when it starts right here.

Meantime tonight, in just a few minutes, Donald Trump holds a campaign rally. His first event since his big victories on Tuesday, protesters are outside. We'll get the latest just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In just moments, Donald Trump's going to take the stage in Salt Lake City for campaign rally. There are protesters outside, CNN Sara Murray is inside. Wee see what's going on outside. What's happening inside, Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far we haven't seen any protester inside, Anderson.

But like you said, we now know there are about 100 to 150 people who are gathered outside. They're going to be heading over here. We'll see if Donald Trump makes any mention of them tonight.

I can tell you, it is a raucous crowd inside. They are just heckling the chairman of the Utah Republican Party U.S. just here trying to get them to register for the caucuses. So, it could be a wild ride here tonight.

One other things we're going to be looking for from Donald Trump though, is what he says if anything about Mitt Romney after Romney came out and said he was voting for Ted Cruz right here in Utah.

He's been tweeting up a storm. We'll see if he brings that to the stump tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks very much. Now in escape from all of these, the return of the "Wonder List" with Bill Weir this Sunday night on CNN.

[20:55:01] Bill takes us to Cuba. Here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Jesse and Eric are Cuban Marine Biologists. Fernando is a Cuban American devoted to using science to Trump Ideology.

He used Castro's love of marine life to open a dialogue years before the politicians. So, he credits Manatee Diplomacy with the change in cold war tone.

FERNANDO: I think we have a lot to do with that, our Science Diplomacy, breaking down barriers. From my perspective, I'm a Florida resident. So, my work here in Cuba is selfish as well.

WEIR: You're down stream of...

FERNANDO: I'm down stream. So, whatever happens if Cuban reefs aren't well protected, if we lose this crown jewel of the Caribbean, Florida suffers.

The Golf of Mexico suffers New Jersey suffers.

WEIR: Florida is just 90 miles away, but reefs this healthy are impossible to find there anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You can see more of Bill's adventures in Cuba this Sunday night in the season two debut of "The Wonder List" 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Continuing to monitor the developments the Trump rally in Salt Lake City. Quiet so far, especially inside the venue.

We'll keep an eye on things.

[21:00:00] We've got a big Monday coming up with all five presidential candidates sitting down with me and Wolf Blitzer.

Time now to turn things over to Don Lemon, "CNN Tonight."