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Source: Trump Wants Top Secret Clearance for His Children; First White House News Conference Since Election; Trump Races To Fill White House Jobs; Anti-Trump Protesters for Sixth Night; Source: "Knife Fight" As Trump Builds National Security Cabinet; Fraud Trial Looms for Trump. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 14, 2016 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight, breaking news: Donald Trump is seeking top secret security clearances for the grown children who are advising him, as well as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

[20:00:03] That is what an official in the Trump transition effort tells CNN's Jim Acosta. It means that Kushner, daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric may soon be privy to the country's deepest secrets. It might not be utterly unprecedented. However, like everything else we've seen since election night, it's not exactly business as usual.

Tonight, on top of that, there's uproar over Trump's choice of his outspoken and controversial campaign strategist for top White House job, as well as late new reporting on the larger transition which one source describes as a knife fight. That and some words of advice from President Obama today.

Plus, we're following anti-Trump protesters taking to the streets again this evening. There's live pictures from downtown Seattle. People protesting in Tucson, Arizona, as well. We'll bring you any late developments there.

We begin, though, with the breaking news on the security clearances.

Joining us now, CNN counterterrorism analyst, as well as former CIA and FBI official, Philip Mudd.

So, Trump requesting the security clearance for his kids. Does that surprise you?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It does. But I think we need to take a step back for a moment. Everything about this campaign, Anderson, has been usual.

Let me take the names out of it. Take the name Trump, take the kids' names out. The president-elect has relied on people during the campaign for advice. He goes to intelligence officials and says, "When I begin to get intelligence briefings, more seriously, as I'm president-elect, I want the same people I relied on during the campaign to be in those intelligence briefings. Will you give them a security clearance?"

Put yourself in the position of intelligence professionals. You're going to say, if you think those are appropriate advisers, we will go through the formal process to try to clear them at a serious level so they can sit in on your briefings.

I understand it. It is highly unusual, Anderson.

COOPER: Especially if, I mean, his grown children are going to be running his business. The idea was they're running his business and, you know, they're not going to be kind of blending over into advising him in order to keep his business separate, although, you know, traditionally businesses are put in a blind trust. That's not going to be happening, but it does certainly make it sound as if, and your point does as well, that they are going to continue to be advisers to him even on, perhaps, security matters.

MUDD: Boy, that would make me uncomfortable if you had someone with a top secret security clearance and you had someone who still had active business interests. I'm not here to suggest, Anderson, that a child of a presidential candidate can't get a top-secret clearance. I still hold one with the U.S. government.

What I want to tell you is if you maintain business interests, there's clearly things you might learn in an intelligence briefing related to the Middle East, related to Europe, related to Asia that might affect your decision-making on the business side. I would argue from the Trump side, you have to make a decision, are these individuals involved in a national security process, or are they involved in a business process? Don't mix those two.

COOPER: David Priess, another former CIA intelligence officer, said that the only logic to get a security clearance is holding a national security position. I mean, do you agree with that? I mean, it seems like there's no real other domestic reason to do it.

MUDD: I have to agree with David. I know David well. Look, what if the president-elect in this case, Donald Trump, says the national security position is that these individuals are trusted advisers and when I'm dealing with that issue related to Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, I want these individuals whom I've grown to trust during the campaign to be in the room. They may not hold the position of secretary of defense or secretary of state, but the president-elect, and I keep not using his name because I think we need to separate the name out of this and go to the idea.

The idea is I want these people whom I trust in the room during those conversations, as sensitive as the conversations I had with them during the campaign. I understand it despite the fact that this is highly unusual.

COOPER: Now, I mean, there's different levels of security clearances. A top security clearance.

MUDD: Yes. COOPER: There's, I mean, there's code -- there's, like, secret, top secret, there's code word clearances above that. I assume this would be, what, top secret? Do you know what kind of information then they would be allowed to see? Could they see t presidential daily brief?

MUDD: Let me speculate here, Anderson. There are three basic levels of security clearance, confidential, secret, cop secret. From what I understand, they're being requested from the top secret level, same level I have, that's highest you can get in government.

We can get into other issues. There are compartments within that that are even more classified.

Let me make this simpler. I'm going to guess what the president-elect is asking for is that when he's having conversations with, for example, the Central Intelligence Agency about what to do in Syria, and what we understand about Russian intentions, some of that is top secret information. He wants his children in the room.

So, there's security classifications that are technical. I think this is even simpler. When he talks to a briefer, someone who's sent over from the CIA, he wants those kids in the room.

COOPER: Fascinating.

Phil Mudd, appreciate you being with us.

MUDD: Yes.

COOPER: Just a reminder, what we're looking at and following, protests, sixth straight now, in the streets of Seattle tonight, in Tucson.

[20:05:01] Right now, police confronting a number of marchers in Seattle. We'll keep an eye on this and bring you more as it unfolds.

Meantime, President Obama left just over an hour ago for his final overseas trip in office. He arrives tomorrow in Athens, Greece.

Before departing, he spoke to reporters in the White House. Now, his first press conference since the election. He had a lot of advice for the president-elect.

As CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, he appeared to weigh every single word that he spoke.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama tonight walking a tight rope, speaking out about the candidate lambasted and the president-elect to who he must now pass the baton.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the United States. ZELENY: In his first news conference since the election, Mr. Obama

talked about his 90-minute meeting with Donald Trump, saying he spoke to the president-elect about the weight of the job.

OBAMA: This office has a way of waking you up and those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don't match up with the reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick.

ZELENY: The president said he would work with Mr. Trump to make the handoff as smooth as possible, suggesting some of the biting language during the campaign was done for effect.

OBAMA: I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately he's pragmatic in that way.

ZELENY: But the president was candid about some of the weaknesses he sees in Trump, including his temperament.

OBAMA: I think what will happen with the president-elect is there are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them.

ZELENY: The president pointing out that Mr. Trump often made false statements and relied on misleading headlines on the campaign trail.

OBAMA: When you're a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you're president of the United States.

ZELENY: The president has seen defeat before, after the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections.

OBAMA: I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. You know, I'm sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons.

ZELENY: But no laughter today as the cornerstones of his legacy, Obamacare, to climate change policy, are at risk in a Trump administration. Asked about those questioning Trump's right to rule, the president said simply, "Trump won."

OBAMA: Hopefully, it's a reminder that elections matter and voting counts. And so, you know, I don't know how many times we have to relearn this lesson because we ended up having 43 percent of the country not voting who were eligible to vote, but it makes a difference.


COOPER: And Jeff Zeleny joins us now.

President Obama does seem pretty committed to this measured tone. Is there any reason to think that's going to change?

ZELENY: Well, Anderson, I think he wants to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, no question, and send a signal to Democrats out there to give the guy a chance. And it's on the eve of going on a foreign trip, as you know, and frankly, he has some work to do there. He has criticized Donald Trump aggressively on foreign soil. Do not expect him to do that.

But, Anderson, I checked with one of his top advisers after his news conference. I was struck by the measured tone of it. And they said the president is going to try and do what George W. Bush did to President Obama, and not say a thing, stay out of politics. But this aide acknowledged that could be quite a challenge -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, Jeff, thanks very much.

I want to bring in a number of people who witnessed presidential transitions either up close or from the inside. CNN political analysts Carl Bernstein, Gloria Borger, and David Gergen. And also, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

David, I want to get your reaction first to President Obama's remarks. But you worked inside the White House for Republicans and Democrats. What do you make of president-elect Trump reportedly wanting top secret security clearances for three of his children and son-in-law?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, there have been a number of instances when people who are primarily domestic in nature in the White House have gotten security clearances. Normally, the chief of staff, for example, gets security clearance. The counsel of the president I would imagine, Steve Bannon, would have a security clearance. When I was working in the Clinton White House as counselor to the president, I got a security clearance, top secret. So, I think that's -- there's a lot of precedent for that.

There is no precedent that I know of for children or spouses or anything else to get top security clearances. I would -- it may be legal. I would argue that President Trump ought to be prudent about this and maybe if he wants to have one of his children, but there ought to be a clear division, a very clear division between who gets security clearance and who runs those companies, those enterprises.

He needs to keep, avoid that. We've just gone through a huge controversy about the Clinton Foundation and if we now have children running around with security clearances and also doing business deals around the world, that is a terrible idea.

[20:10:01] COOPER: Carl, I mean, it is the same children, again, they're adults, but the same adult kids who are going do be running the businesses are the ones who are being apparently requested to have a security clearance.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's astounding especially just this soon after the election and it's wrong. Imagine if you're the president of the United States, your kids have these security clearances, the CIA comes in and briefs them. You can use that information to enhance your businesses, decide I'm going to open a new boutique in Riyadh because of what I heard in the CIA today in the briefing. It's just wrong. It sends the wrong signal from the first days and it goes back to this idea that we had during the campaign of business first.

And especially as David Gergen says, if Chelsea Clinton were getting this, the Republicans would be yelling, "Lock Chelsea up". It's wrong.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I was talking to a government official, former government official, I should say, involved in intelligence earlier who said actually by text, "What did they need access to the classified information for? What clandestine operation is Ivanka going to run?"

I mean, tongue in cheek, but it goes to the heart of the question, it's totally understandable what we heard from Phil Mudd before that these are his top advisers. I get that. And what David Gergen was saying, also, that domestic staff often gets clearance. But children who are not on the payroll but rather are dealing financially with their own business, that's another question. Just the definition of secret is something that could cause, quote, "serious damage to national security." Scary stuff.

COOPER: Gloria --

BERNSTEIN: This also belongs in the blind trust. I think we ought to get that out there right away.

COOPER: Right. Although that's not a legal requirement.

BERNSTEIN: It's not.

COOPER: But traditionally that is --

BERNSTEIN: But the idea that this businessman is not putting these huge holdings into a blind trust on its face is wrong.

COOPER: Right. And we have a lot more on that tonight as well. Gloria, I mean, to Phil Mudd's point which is, you know, if these are some of his top advisers, he wants to be able to discuss information with them. To you, is that a conflict or is it the fact they're also involved, they're running his business?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course, first of all, I think it's a clear conflict if they are running his business. And, secondly, usually, this type of top secret clearance is given because of the job you have in the administration, as David was pointing out earlier, if you are the chief of staff to the president, you would get a top-secret clearance.

Let me -- let me -- you know, since we're all sort of trying to figure out why the president-elect might want this, I think, and I've learned this through talking to his family, they talk all the time. I think he might be doing this to protect himself in a way or ask for it to protect himself because he talks to them about everything. He's used to consulting them about everything and there is this matter of talking about classified information when you're not supposed to be talking about it or sharing it is breaking the law just as he, you know, talked about Hillary Clinton sharing classified information on her e-mails.

So, if Donald Trump wants to talk to his kids about decisions, important security decisions he is making, he has to protect himself and have them have security clearance.

COOPER: It's an interesting idea.

I mean, Dana, do you think there's some truth to that, that in free- willing discussions, this protects him in case he says something?

BASH: No question. Like I said, I get that. I think we all have respect for the fact he has such confidence and trust in his adult children that they really are his top advisers and his -- and, obviously, his most loyal supporters.

But, you know, what I'm thinking, as we're discussing this, maybe David, maybe you guys know, what about a spouse?

BORGER: Well --

COOPER: I mean, presumably a spouse is somebody who has, you know, who is a president's closest confidant and maybe sounding board and I don't think that spouses get top clearance, I might be wrong.

BORGER: Well, I don't think Hillary Clinton had top-secret clearance during the first couple of years of Bill Clinton's administration, and I looked it up only going back to sort of the first couple years. So, I'm not sure in future years and I'm not sure about Michelle Obama, particularly since you co-habit with somebody, they may decide to give you clearance in case documents, you know, are in the private, you know, private confines of your home and your living quarters.

So, I think we have to investigate that, but it's kind of unheard of for your children, particularly ones who are --


BORGER: -- prohibited from serving because of nepotism rules.

COOPER: David, you know, we heard from President Obama today saying that he believes the president-elect is more pragmatic than ideological. He said he was worried Mr. Trump's temperament might be problematic in some instances, but generally, the president seems to be steering away from criticizing the president-elect.

[20:15:09] GERGEN: Yes, he was very restrained today. I think remains hopeful, not optimistic, but hopeful, that Donald Trump will temper some of his proposals.

I thought it was very important, Anderson, that he said today that he was going to Europe and he would be telling leaders there, and giving them reassurances about Donald Trump's commitment to NATO and transatlantic partnership. That is a -- that's a major deal. That's a very big help for Donald Trump in a Europe that is extremely skeptical, some ways terrified about what's coming. So, I thought that was positive.

At the same time, you know, he did urge him quietly in a restrained way, he urged him to send signals of unity and I think what he was really talking about, the president was talking about, is calling on Donald Trump to speak out, to give assurances to so many people who remain so deeply distressed, scared, you know, various groups, whether they're Jews or Muslims or gays or others, women who feel disempowered, he needs to do that. I think as urgent as his appointment are is to give reassurances to the country, he will respect people's rights.

COOPER: All right. We have a full night ahead. A lot to get to. We're going to take a quick break.

Coming up next, the controversy on the left and some extent on the right over Steve Bannon as one of Trump's top advisers, his ties to the so-called alt-right movement and the support he draws from white nationalist. We'll take a look at his career in media.

Later, how all the lawsuits involving Donald Trump will affect his term in office.

And we'll, of course, continue to follow new anti-Trump demonstrations unfolding as we speak in two major American cities.


[20:20:15] COOPER: Welcome back.

You're looking at protesters out tonight in Seattle and Tucson, Arizona, the sixth straight night of anti-Trump marches. We'll check in shortly with Gary Tuchman in Tucson, get the very latest from there.

Given all that and given all the rest of the news today, it's hard to imagine that President Obama isn't a little happy to be aboard Air Force One right now, putting mile after mile between himself and Washington. There's new late word as we mentioned, the conflict -- sharp conflict within the Trump transition effort, conflict and controversy over one of President-elect Trump's top White House picks.

More on both of that tonight from our Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In selecting Steven Bannon as his chief strategist, Donald Trump has invited into the Oval Office one of the leaders of the so-called "alt right movement", combination of conservatives, populists, white supremacists and anti- Semites. Trump's campaign says Bannon will act as, quote, "equal partners" with RNC chair Reince Priebus, who will serve as White House chief of staff.

And while to Trump advisers are praising the Bannon pick --

KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I worked close with Steve Bannon, the general of the campaign.

ACOSTA: Bannon is already coming under fire during his time as chairman of Breitbart News, which at times featured anti-Semitic and white supremacist material.

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: The guy I know is a guy who isn't any of those things. He is a guy who is pretty -- he's very, very smart. Very temperate.

PROTESTERS: No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here!

ACOSTA: The Bannon pick could inflame anti-Trump protesters and rattle a nation that's witnessing a rise in hateful rhetoric like the reports of churches vandalized with neo-Nazi messaging and attacks on minorities which Trump told "60 Minutes" must come to an end.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I am so saddened to hear that and I say stop it. If it -- if it helps, I will say this, and I'll say it right to the cameras, stop it.

ACOSTA: On the issues, Trump so far is signaling a potential softening on sensitive topics, suggesting he won't work to outlaw same-sex marriage.

TRUMP: These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They've been settled and I'm fine with that.

ACOSTA: But on another front, Roe v. Wade, Trump said he'd appoint antiabortion judges and if it's overturned, it would be up to the states to decide.

TRUMP: Well, they'll perhaps have to go to another -- they'll have to go to another state.

ACOSTA: As for Trump's signature campaign issue --

TRUMP: Don't worry about it, we're going to build wall, folks. Don't worry.

ACOSTA: The president-elect sounds open to something less than a wall along the Mexican border.

INTERVIEWER: So part wall, part fence?

TRUMP: Yes, it could be -- there could be some fencing.


COOPER: Jim Acosta joins us from outside Trump Tower.

So, late reports tonight that there have been some disagreements within Trump camp regarding key cabinet positions. What do you know about it?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I think is part of the jockeying that's expected when a new administration comes in and is filling some pretty key cabinet posts. Some of my colleagues are reporting it's been described as a knife fight inside the Trump transition meetings. I was told last week that there were some disagreements going on between the so-called, you know, never-Trumpers that are starting to make their way into some lower-level positions in Trump transition with people who are with Donald Trump all along and saying they don't want those never-Trumpers filling important roles with the administration.

Anderson, they are making some progress toward naming some important positions, putting people in some important positions. We're told that the secretary of state job could goo either Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, or John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush. I was told just earlier this evening from a Trump transition source that naming John Bolton to that position might use up a lot of political capital in the way that this source described it.

That's an indication that Donald Trump may be leaning toward Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani for his part, he was speaking at a "Wall Street Journal" CEO conference earlier this evening. He was asked who would make a good secretary of state. He said John Bolton would make a good secretary of state but he also said he would be a better one, getting to that jockeying that's going on inside this transition, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta. Jim, thanks.

Much more now on Steve Bannon, more specifically on his work running Breitbart. He leaves a legacy in the form of incendiary stories, especially provocative headlines. Details on that and a little history from our Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behave yourself. Behave yourself. Behave yourself. You are freaks and animals. You're freaks and animals.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning, Breitbart has been all about confronting liberals, the media, activists, the political establishments, anyone believed to be shouting down or shutting down conservative voices.

ANDREW BREITBART, BREITBART FOUNDER: Do you even know what you're protesting? How much are you getting paid?

FOREMAN: That's the late Andrew Breitbart who built the hugely influential right-wing media empire before his unexpected death in 2012. And these are the kind of headlines Breitbart churns out these days. Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.

[20:25:03] Gay rights have made us dumber.

The site called a conservative columnist a renegade, Jew and asked, would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?

At the helm for Breitbart news until recently, Steve Bannon.

STEVE BANNON, BREITBART: We need to have a fight in the Republican Party for the soul of the conservative --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with you.

FOREMAN: He's a former Navy officer, former investment banker, according to Bloomberg, the most dangerous political operative in America and now adviser to the president.

BANNON: Look, the media is the praetorian guard of the permanent political class, all the consultants that come after you, the permanent political class' consultants. They're all in bed together.

FOREMAN: So, how did he get there? Early investment in the "Seinfeld" TV series led Bannon to a wealth of cash and experience in media which he transformed into political battering rams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was sitting at the desk --

FOREMAN: Producing films to promote the political right, uncovering Anthony Weiner's sexting habit, exploiting the birther controversy around President Obama, bedeviling Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

BANNON: You have to understand how the Clintons who proclaim that they support all your values essentially have sold you out for money.

FOREMAN: But Bannon's aggressive use of the Breitbart brand is under renewed scrutiny. Civil rights groups point to those incendiary headlines as evidence Bannon is pushing a white supremacist alt-right agenda while his allies brush the complaints aside.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: And they now want to come back and say that anything anybody ever published in Breitbart is Steve Bannon. That's baloney.


FOREMAN: With his role in the government only loosely defined, it's hard to guess at his impact. This is undeniably a heady time for Bannon after years of sniping at the government from the outside, he is now as inside as anyone can be -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Let's bring back the panel. Joining us, New York One anchor, Errol Louis, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, and Trump critics Jonathan Tasini and Van Jones. Also with us, conservative talk show host, Dana Loesch, who once worked at Breitbart, who was involved in a legal dispute over employment.

Dana, did I introduce you?

BASH: That's okay.

COOPER: Dana Bash here as well.

Dana, let me start with you, as someone who knows Steve Bannon, who's worked for Steve Bannon, what do you make of all this? I mean, this man, I know at one point, you described as, quote, "one of the worst people on God's green earth".

DANA LOESCH, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW: He definitely wouldn't be my pick -- Anderson, thanks for having me -- definitely wouldn't be my pick to advise the president-elect and, you know, like so many people, I want to give voters a chance and I want to give the president-elect a chance, and I think that you need to give the new administration the best shot that they have so that they can hit the ground running.

And, unfortunately, I just don't think it's with this choice. I was pleased to see Reince Priebus. I think that he has a lot of credit due to him after all of the victories on election night. Steve Bannon, there's a reason why the website has a high turnover rate there and there's a reason why I have a history with Steve Bannon and, of course, Andrew Breitbart was a friend and mentor. And I still have the highest regard for him.

But, Steve, I think it kind of speaks for itself.

COOPER: Kellyanne Conway, Dana, this morning in a press conference denied Bannon had any connections to the so-called alt-right movement or would bring any of those views into the White House. What's your take on that? I mean, does he have connections to the alt-right movement? Are liberals making a bigger deal of this than it really is?

LOESCH: I don't know personally if he has connections to the alt- right movement. I think that there are probably individuals in that sphere. I know there are some individuals that have written for the site that they don't really say necessarily that they're representative of that particular movement.

But whether you're representative of it or not, and I want to remind viewers, too, that it's such a fringe of the right, it's such a tiny fringe. It does not represent all of conservatism or all of Republicanism.

However, I do think that there are certain individuals that maybe perhaps tongue in cheek do kind of play to that particular audience because maybe it's for click bait, maybe it's just to get more traffic, more content, whatever it is, but it doesn't look well.

COOPER: I want to bring in Kayleigh, you're a Trump supporter obviously. Have been really from the get-go. A lot of people point to headlines on Breitbart, you know, it could just be click bait, you know, controversial headlines on all these websites, get more clicks than other things. Newt Gingrich I think made the point saying, look, you can't say Steve Bannon is responsible for every article that's published on Breitbart. Is that true or do you have concern about Bannon?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what Newt Gingrich said is absolutely right. Steve Bannon wrote none of those articles whose headlines we showed. To some of them, there's a deeper story. For instance, the renegade Jew headline, the guy who wrote it, his name is David Horowitz, and he said, I, myself, am a Jew, and I, myself, have sat by Steve Bannon, I've never heard any anti-Semitic views at all, whatsoever.

So, I have no concerns about Steve Bannon because he was appointed by Donald Trump who's a leader I believe in, who's someone who's called for unity time and time again. I think that you will see the left, those in the Clinton campaign or those on the left try to demonize Steve Bannon. They've tried to do the same thing to Ronald Reagan. They tried to do it to Donald Trump. Now, the new attack dog is Steve Bannon is going to be subject to the attack.

[20:30:02] COOPER: Jonathan, what about -- I mean look, Steve Bannon came on with Kellyanne Conway, clearly did a good job compared to the last campaign manager they had, Paul Manafort, on getting Donald Trump on message. Why shouldn't Donald Trump keep the guy close to him who was able to kind of steer him to the presidency?

JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, just to clarify, Steve Bannon, himself, boasted that "Breitbart News" is the platform for the Alt-Right. And let's be clear what the Alt-Right is. It's a re- branding of white nationalism and it's got a strong race mix of racism and anti-Semite. And speaking of Jew, I don't know if David Harlow would say, I'm frankly appalled that anybody -- forget being on the stop, he shouldn't be allowed to have clearance to get into the White House as a visitor.

Now, let's pull this back a little bit. There's a context to this. Donald Trump ran on a platform of hate, bigotry, racism against Mexicans. He targeted people. So it's not a surprise, I mean, it's fine to target Bannon, but it is the man at the top that's responsible for that. He's the one that generated this hate and anger among people in the country. It's the reason there are protests in the street and the fish is rotting at the head. That's where it's coming from.

COOPER: Let me go to Van Jones. Van, last night the spokesman for Senate Minority leader Harry Reid released a statement, I read in part, "It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of white supremacist, themes and rhetoric as his top aide."

Is that taking a step too far?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think so for the following reason. I think it's really important that we not adapt to absurdity. A big part of the impact of the Trump movement has just been to drive the national standards further and further down, so that we got to a point where it just the fact that Donald Trump could read a teleprompter without insulting half of the country was a massive achievement and when you're talking about White House appointments about -- yeah something I know a little bit about, we tend to hold people to very high standards. The idea that we would now say, well, you put out a publication that, you know, gave aid and comfort and a platform for anti-Jewish bigots and for white nationalists, but you didn't actually write all the articles, therefore, you're OK?

Again, that's not the standard. The standard is this is the highest office in the land. It is the biggest honor on planet Earth to work in that building and we should have the best and Bannon is not the best. In fact, he represents the worst of America.

COOPER: I want to bring back our panel in a moment. We got to take a quick break. As those anti-Trump protesters on the streets for night six. This demonstration in Tucson. We'll hear from some of the students behind it shortly. We'll be right back.


[20:36:26] COOPER: Before the break, Van Jones was talking about the appointment of Steve Bannon as a top White House adviser. He said it's the highest honor on planet Earth, and I'm paraphrasing Van here that choosing Bannon dishonors the office. I want get Kayleigh McEnany's take on that before we move on.

MCENANY: Yes, just going to say, you know, we selectively, you know, picked part of Bannon's resume or my friends in the left too, and I think it's important to point out this man was a naval office on the Pacific Fleet, he was a special assistant to the planning officer of naval operations in the Pentagon. He got his M.B.A from Harvard. This is someone who's very qualified to work in the White House. And Donald Trump only picks the best. That includes Steve Bannon and he picked Reince Priebus to kind of be like counterbalance.

So I think it's easy to just focus on a few headlines on Breitbart and not tell the whole story of the man.

COOPER: The flip side of that ...

LOESCH: I think that there's a difference ...

COOPER: Go ahead Dana.

LOESCH: ... between exper-- there's a difference between experience and temperament as well, and someone who's known him for a number of years, and I know all of these -- and all of these individuals, and I've known them personally for a number of years, it's not just -- I think that people are taking exception to not just a few headlines that are on Breitbart. There's a reason as I said earlier why there's such a high turnover rate. There are a lot of individuals.

Ben Shapiro who has left and spoken out. There are a lot of individuals who have left the site and they say this is a little bit about temperament as well and look, everybody was divided in the primaries that after now that the general election is over, I think that people who want what is best for the country would like to see someone, this isn't an issue of qualification. It's an issue of temperament. Emotional temperament I think.

And I know that the base would like to see the administration be as successful as possible and they would like for Trump to be surrounded by the best people possible. Not someone who kind of goes off for a lack of a better way to put it, and gets angry and has a reputation around Washington, D.C, as being incredibly vindictive.

MCENANY: Well, there are other ...


COOPER: Let Kayleigh respond.

MCENANY: There are other character witnesses, though, Dana, respectfully. Kellyanne Conway has come out and said he's been great to work with. You've had Reince Priebus come out saying he's been great to work with, so he can bring negative character witnesses. There also very passive one for working on his campaign.

COOPER: OK, let me bring ...


LOESCH: He may be, but there are a lot of people that would ...

TASINI: We're talking about anti-Semite -- we're talking about anti- Semite.


COOPER: One at a time, no one hears when you talk over there. Yeah, I mean one of the things we know -- do know about Donald Trump, is he certainly believes in loyalty very strongly ...

BASH: No question.

COOPER: ... and Steve Bannon came on at a time when he needed help and clearly has been a whisper in Donald Trump's ear and in Donald Trump's opinion deserves to be rewarded for that loyalty.

BASH: Yeah, and that is -- the sort of the, I don't know if dichotomy is the right word. But between what -- I think basically what Kayleigh is saying and what Dana is saying could both be true. And that he could have temper, he could have, you know, temperament issues in the past and obviously issues that Dana had with him in the workplace.

But at the same time, somehow found a way to have a calming influence on Donald Trump, the candidate. And by all accounts of people I've talked to who were kind of around it was the guy who Donald Trump saw as an equal partner and somebody who could take his phone away from him.

COOPER: Which other people weren't able to do.

BASH: Which other people weren't able to do.

COOPER: Errol, the -- you know, we've heard that it's a knife fight going on. How much of that is though, is just, I mean, that's the way transitions often are. No? I mean, it's a lot of people jockeying for very powerful positions. A lot of people competing interests who want things.

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR NY1: This is the chance of a lifetime. It was a chance that people didn't necessarily prepare for, because we know that even up until the last minute, the campaign, itself, did not know or expect to be victorious. So all of a sudden, things have to change. The head of the transition is demoted. You know, Chris Christie is out, Mike Pence is in.

All of a sudden, everything, the stakes go up quite a bit. So, yeah, there's going to be quite a lot of jostling. I think that's part of what works against the Bannon selection.

[20:40:04] There are a lot of outside groups and lot of people marching in the streets. A lot of people have very good reasons to be suspicious of that entire Alt-Right movement. And, again, Breitbart was the platform for it. That's Bannon's words.

COOPER: Right.

LOUIS: You know, when you see the head of the American Nazi Party saying, gee, I'm surprised he supported him but I like the choice, that's a problem. He's also got a lot of other sort of rivals who for very basic careerist reasons would love to see him shoved aside.

COOPER: I got to take a quick break. Dana, before you go though, I just want to ask you a quick question, when you heard President Obama today say that he thinks Donald Trump is pragmatic more than ideological, as a conservative, did that worry you? Because that was the concern among many conservatives early on, and here's a guy who is going to make deals an maybe sacrifice ideology.

LOESCH: I think some, Anderson, I think that's a good question. Some might be concerned about it, however, there's a lot to be encouraged with a lot of the choices that be -- that the president-elect has been making with regards to his cabinet. People that with the exception of Steve Bannon. People who are going to be influencing him and I think that may override him. I mean he can be pragmatic and not be ideological, however, a lot of the individuals with whom he's surrounding himself are actually ideological.

COOPER: Right.

LOESCH: So it might be a good complement.

COOPER: All right, Dana, thanks for being on. We're going to have more with our panel.

Just ahead, President-elect Trump facing unprecedented number of civil lawsuits including several involving Trump University. One of the trial set to begin later this month. Will it actually go forward? We'll look at that ahead.


[20:45:18] COOPER: Add this to the list of things that sets Donald Trump apart from any other president-elect. As he prepares to take the oath of office, he's also facing dozens of lawsuits, several of them involving his Trump University. CNN investigator correspondent Drew Griffin tonight, reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPODENT: The biggest lawsuit facing the president-elect are actually three, all surrounding is Trump University. Two class-action suits in California, one, $40 million lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general. All basically alleging the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump University.

GIRRFIN: Trump's real estate university wasn't a university. Trump's hand-picked real estate experts weren't hand picked by Trump and it's exposed by a CNN report, Trump's so-called real estate experts like top Trump seminar instructor James Harris weren't really real estate experts at all.

Do you remember when you said this, I'm a former license agent broker, at 29 I became the top 1 percent broker in the country. I build homes in Atlanta, Georgia, and I used to live in Beverly Hills.

JAMES HARRIS, FORMER TRUMP UNIVERSITY INTRUCTOR: Yes. If I said those things, they are true. I did live in Beverly Hills and ...

GIRRFIN: We have no record of you ever living in Beverly Hills.


GRIFFIN: Well -- your broker's license anywhere.


GRIFFIN: And I have no idea what homes you built in Atlanta, Georgia. You build homes in Georgia?

HARRIS: I'm not prepared to answer those questions today.

GRIFFIN: Last week in San Diego, Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel urged both sides in the first class-action lawsuit to settle the matter, given the fact Trump's about to become president. Instead, Trump's attorneys filed a motion to delay the actual trial until Trump becomes president. Political Attorney Stephen Kaufman says the real strategy may be to delay the suit even beyond that.

STEPHEN KAUFMAN, ATTORNEY: Who knows what's going to happen once he takes office after January 20th that might further prevent him from participating in the trial and allowing his attorneys to conduct the trial at that point in time. So I imagine a delay at this point, would lead to further delays once he becomes president.

GRIFFIN: But the lawsuits against his school are just the beginning. There are dozens of lawsuits pending against Trump and some filed by Trump like the two restaurants that decided they wouldn't open in Trump's new old post office hotel in Washington after Trump made disparaging comments about Mexicans. Trump's suing them. They're suing Trump. Then there's the Republican consultant suing because she claims tweets calling her a real dummy ruined her reputation.

Some Trump protesters are suing Trump claiming his security team at Trump tower assaulted them last year. His companies face suits involving sexual harassment allegations, golf membership battles and even a fight over tips at a hotel. All of this going on at the same time, the president-elect is trying to form a cabinet, set a political agenda and, oh, yeah, turn over his entire business empire to his kids. Earlier this year, Trump's personal attorney Alan Garten told us, he had already begun that task and it wasn't going to be easy.

ALAN GARTEN, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: There are real issues there that have to be addressed.

GRIFFIN: Because legally I don't think he can run the Trump Organization while president of the United States, correct?

GARTEN: Yeah, I can't go into the details. There's obviously a lot of intelligent people who are working on these issues.

GRIFFIN: It is a lot to handle, which is why Stephen Kaufman thinks Trump should move to settle any lawsuits pending and certainly not file any nuisance, no lawsuit against the "New York Times," no lawsuits against women who accused him of sexual harassment.

KAUFMAN: If I was his lawyer, I would suggest he stay away from the courtroom as far as possible. I can't imagine any good would come out of testimony given in a court of law about the actions of the president of the United States.


COOPER: And Drew joins us now. This motion filed late this afternoon in California is another attempt by Trump's lawyers to postpone the trial on Trump University, right? It's supposed to start, what, just two weeks?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, Anderson. The judge is pretty much stated, he wants to get this over with. He either wants a settlement which he's recommending or a trial. Trump's lawyers are really pushing the idea that things changed on Tuesday which is why they refiled this motion.

You know, they are actually arguing that for the good of the country, it's a matter of great public importance, they write in this brief this afternoon, that they postpone this trial. But as if right now, Judge Curiel has not ruled. Currently it's set for trial two weeks from today. President-elect Donald J. Trump listed as a witness for both sides. Anderson?

COOPER: Well, we'll see if something happens in the next two weeks. Drew Griffin thanks.

[20:50:01] Our breaking news, anti-Trump protests taking part in the sixth straight day in two cities tonight. Our Gary Tuchman spent time with students who organize the demonstration in Arizona contrary to what President-elect Trump tweeted last week. Gary Tuchman reporting, they are not professional protesters. Details on that ahead.


COOPER: Students at the University of Arizona are holding anti-Trump protest tonight on their Tucson campus. For six straight days now, protesters have taken to the streets, mostly peacefully, in cities across the country.

Last week President-elect Trump criticized some of the demonstrator's tweeting, "Just had a very open and successful presidential election, now professional protesters incited by the media are protesting, very unfair".

Hours later he walked back his remarks in another tweet is said, "Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night had passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud".

We are asked our Gary Tuchman to find out more about who organized tonight protests in Arizona and why he did it. He joins me now. Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Anderson, hundreds of people here in the middle of the University of Arizona campus right now, a rally against Donald Trump. Not just students, but also people from Tucson. It's been very loud and rambunctious. The people are about to start marching through the campus and through the city of Tucson, but the whole idea for this rally started off very simple.


TUCHMAN: Khadra Farah, is a public health major at the University of Arizona, who wants to become a clinical epidemiologist, but her mind these days is on Donald Trump.

KHADRA FARAH, PROTEST ORGANIZER: I didn't go to class on Wednesday, I was still in denial and in shock, I had a meltdown the night before when I found out the election results.

TUCHMAN: In the hours that followed, Khadra Frah had an idea. She would become the organizer of an anti-Trump rally.

FARAH: I decided -- I would create a Facebook event and see -- a public Facebook event, and whoever wanted to come were more than welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to do it like ...

[20:55:02] TUCHMAN: She brought together other students she knew who felt the same as she did. They made posters and signs at a local art gallery. They discussed strategy, coordinated with the city and university police. Initially, a handful of people replied on Facebook they would come. Within a few days, the number climbed to over 1,300.

FARAH: I'm very anxious. I have -- I'm the first speaker. I'm a very social butterfly. You can ask anyone that knows me, but when it comes to a crowd, I have very bad stage fright.

TUCHMAN: There are a lot of smiles and plenty of laughter here, but it all belies the anger.

These are the six other people who have been leading the organizational effort with Khadra Farah.

TRINITY GOSS, PROTEST ORGANIZER: Just because, you know, the blank gator (ph), the rug was ripped off and, you know, all this hate is out there and it might be more blatant that it's usually been. This is a reminder that we have to keep fighting.

TUCHMAN: Do any of you see anything good about Donald Trump?

JESSICA HARRIS, PROTEST ORGANIZER: The only thing good out of this election, him being our president-elect, is that it's really forcing people to come together, especially marginalize people, and form solidarity.

TUCHMAN: These students have seen images of the other anti-Trump protests around the country, and are aware of what's being said about them.

One of the things Donald Trump tweeted recently about demonstrators was if they were, "Professional protesters". Are any of you professionals?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get (ph) in o the morning.


TUCHMAN: Any of you getting paid anything to do this?


TUCHMAN: I mean he said during some of his rallies that people get paid $1,500 to ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we disrupting (ph) his rallies.

TUCHMAN: But are any of you -- or have any of you heard -- have any of you heard from anybody above you who is getting paid to bring you to the rally?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone, one, two, three.

TUCHMAN: These students say they know nothing will change the results of this election, but think as long as everything stays calm, their rally will accomplish something by allowing their voices to be heard.

FARAH: I would say the hardest thing about setting this up is the possibility that it could go left. The possibility that there would be disturbers, agitators, people who aren't happy that this is happening. TUCHMAN: You mean, Trump supporters?

FARAH: Trump supporters.

TUCHMAN: And non-Trump supporters.

FARAH: And non-Trump supporters.


COOPER: So Gary, how have things gone so far tonight?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, as we speak, the march is just beginning right now and expected to last for the next hour. Everything has been very peaceful so far. The only slightly tense moment came when a man standing with a huge confederate flag and a sign that said "You're a bunch of crybabies", people started arguing back and forth, but everyone stayed calm after people saw that confederate flag.

COOPER: All right.

TUCHMAN: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Gary, thanks very much. Much more ahead on tonight's breaking news. President-elect Trump wants top security clearance for his three oldest children, that's news reporting. We'll also -- they'll also be running his business empire while he's in the White House. More on that ahead.