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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Source: Comey To Say Trump Pressured Him On Probe; Sources: Congress Investigating Another Possible Sessions-Kislyak Meeting; 7 Subpoenas Issued On House Russia Probe; Trump To Announce Climate Accord Decision Thursday, 3PM ET; Clinton Blames Comey Announcement, DNC For Loss
Aired May 31, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER: Then late tonight this, new reporting on yet another possible, and we say possible contact between your top Trump associate and Russia's ambassador. If in fact it did take place, it's yet another instance of this kind of contact going on disclosed. Jim Sciutto, Jamie Gangel, and Shimon Prokupecz all broke the story.
Jim Sciutto joins us now. So what did you learned?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation tell myself and my colleagues, Jamie and Shimon, that Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia's ambassador during the presidential campaign.
Investigators on the Hill are now requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They're focusing on such a meeting took place on April 27th, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel here in Washington, D.C., where then candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address.
Prior to the speech, then Senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats, others. In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions that Trump campaign team may have had with Russia's ambassador during that event.
This is part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election. Neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place. They also acknowledge it is possible that any additional meeting, Anderson, was incidental.
COOPER: Has Attorney General Sessions responded?
SCUITTO: Well, we got this statement a short time ago from the Department of Justice. I'll read it in full. It says, "The Department of Justice appointed a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. We will allow him to do his job. It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media. The facts haven't changed, then-Senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel." Anderson, that's their full response.
COOPER: So, they're basically -- they're denying it categorically. I mean, if true, it would not be the first time that Sessions failed to disclose a meeting with the Russian ambassador.
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. During his confirmation hearing in January 10th, Sessions testified he, "Did not have any communications with the Russians," during the campaign. He said the same in a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But, when reports emerged in March that the two -- that he did have meetings with Kislyak during the campaign, one at the Republican National Convention in July and one in his Senate office in September, Sessions conceded that the meetings happened, but insisted they were part of his Senate duties and had nothing to do with the campaign. Nonetheless, he was forced to recuse himself from the Russian investigation.
After that revelation, Sessions was asked again at a news conference on March 2nd whether there were any other meetings with Russians besides those two. Here was his response then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you met with any other Russian officials or folks connected to the Russian government since you endorsed Donald Trump?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't believe so. I -- you know, we meet a lot of people, so --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, from those two meetings you discussed with the ambassador?
SESSIONS: I don't believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCUITOO: Later that week, when Sessions updated his sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he acknowledged those two meetings with Kislyak, but did not mention any encounter at the Mayflower Hotel, Anderson. But clearly those answers not entirely sufficient, as we know, that the Hill and the FBI are looking into this.
COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Again, this came at the end of a day that began with another shoe drop in the Russia probe. We learned that fired FBI Director James Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We learned when he'll testify, although we don't know the exact date. And most importantly, we learned what he is expected to say. Later today, we learned who the House Intelligence Community wants to hear from.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with all the details on that. So the House Intel Committee issued a number of subpoenas today. Who'd they call?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, seven new subpoenas went out today and here's exactly how they break down. Four of them related to the Russia probe. Those were issued to President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, also former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as well as their business entities. Those subpoenas are for documents that both men have been reluctant to turn over.
Now, the three additional subpoenas related to unmasking, that's, of course, the unveiling of identities in Americans -- of Americans in intelligence reports. And all of these subpoenas relate to the unmasking request made by Obama officials, including former CIA director, John Brennan, former national security adviser, Susan Rice, and former U.N. ambassador, Samantha Powers. So in all, seven new subpoenas going out today, Anderson.
COOPER: And the subpoenas -- I mean, House intelligence agency suspects that came directly -- some came directly from Chairman Nunes, but Nunes recused himself from the Russia investigation.
[21:05:04] SCHNEIDER: Yeah. You know, we know that he did step aside from the Russia probe. But it turns out, Chairman Nunes still has subpoena power and that's actually stirring a lot of concern within the committee.
Chairman Nunes can, in fact, unilaterally still issue subpoenas and one senior House intelligence aide tells us that the unmasking subpoenas, three of them, likely came from Nunes himself, without any consultation with the Democrats. And like I said, this has stirred up some controversy.
Ranking members should actually talked about it a few days ago, saying that he wanted the full committee vote on all subpoenas, but, of course, it doesn't look like that happened in this case, Anderson.
COOPER: So next week, we're expecting to see former Director Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do we know what to expect and what day that's going to take place?
SCHNEIDER: Well, sources are telling us that Comey will likely publicly recount his run-ins with the president. We know it might happen next week, not sure on the date yet. But, you know, when he does get up there to testify, the most intriguing details, they might come if James Comey recounts his February 14th meeting with the president, where the president allegedly asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into Michael Flynn and Flynn's ties to Russia.
Sources, of course, have told us that Comey wrote this all down. It's unclear if Comey would read from it or how exactly his testimony might unfold, but we do know he wants to tell his story. And in addition, Comey has met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to work out the parameters of his testimony. And we know that Comey will likely sit down with Mueller again for a formal interview afterwards.
So, Anderson, right now we're looking at that possibility of testimony, some time next week, not exactly clear on the date, though.
COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.
Let's get perspective now from "Axe Files" host and former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod, and "New York Times'" Matthew Rosenberg, and CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein.
David, how big of a deal would it be if then Senator Sessions did, in fact, have another undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if is an important word, but if that were the case, it would be a very big deal. Because, remember, the rationale for him not disclosing the previous meetings were that they happened, particularly the one in his Senate office, happened in the course of his duties as a senator that he routinely received foreign diplomats. This is a meeting off- campus, one on one, and it's another thing that he didn't disclose.
And, Anderson, the bottom line is, if you have nothing to hide, you don't hide anything. And there is stealth that pervades this entire story from the president on that and the attorney general has been guilty of it, as well. So this would really add a log to the fire.
COOPER: Matt, I mean, if this meeting did take place, and again, it's an if, we don't know, it would seem to raise more questions about that argument that Sessions made to David's point that this was, you know, that he didn't disclose this during his confirmation hearings, two other meetings, because he was acting as a senator.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely. And it's a huge if. But I think it's also important to remember that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, was fired and the White House reason was because he misled Vice President Pence about conversations or the nature of conversations he'd had with Ambassador Kislyak.
So, you know, if Jeff Sessions is now found to have had another meeting and was not -- we don't know what he's whole people inside or outside -- inside the administration, but it does raise that prospect, that you've already fired one senior member of the administration from misleading people inside the administration over this, would you fire another?
COOPER: Carl, again, this just being looked at. We don't know if this meeting took place. It could just though be a moot point though. I mean, did the White House could basically say, if it does turn out that there was a meeting, well, look, Attorney General Sessions has already recused himself from anything to do with the Russia investigation.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The point is that we need plausible explanations from the President of the United States, Jeff Sessions, General Flynn, Jared Kushner, about a cover-up. The FBI right now is trying to penetrate what it knows is a cover-up from the President of the United States through his family, his son-in-law, through Sessions, through others.
It doesn't mean that they've obstructed justice, necessarily, but the FBI is operating on the premise that the President of the United States and those closest to him are engaged in a cover-up. What they want to know, what we want to know in the press, what the congressional investigators in both parties want to know is, what is being covered up?
Is it financial gained by Jared Kushner, by Trump, by others or no financial gain? Is it some kind of secret arrangement to bring about the policy desires of Russia, whether witting or unwitting? They have a cover-up. They are trying to unravel and they're getting no help from the White House.
COOPER: How can you say it's a cover-up? I mean, unless it's known --
BERNSTEIN: Because a cover-up does not mean an obstruction of justice, it means an attempt to hide the facts from investigators and from the people of the United States. There's no question that's going on, and the FBI investigators will tell you that, people in Congress will tell you that, people in the White House will tell you that. It doesn't mean it's illegal. That remains to be seen.
[21:10:04] But if there was not a cover-up, why wouldn't the President of the United States say to his counsel, "In the White House, I want a white paper issued on all of my dealings as a businessman with Russians and ethno-Russian, with my son-in-law's dealings with them, with my campaign's dealings with them and let's get this behind us and get on the business of the country." We haven't seen anything like that.
COOPER: Matt, we should point out, the White House says they are fully cooperating.
ROSENBERG: The White House says they're completely cooperating. I mean, I think we don't know what happened with the attorney general if he met the Russian ambassador in April at the Mayflower. That's still a source of speculation.
But we have seen over the last few months a pattern where the White House says nothing happened and it turns out something did happen. Or I know from personal experience, we spoke to the White House about a meeting that Mr. Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador in December in Trump Tower and they kind of said, "Oh, yeah, that happened." And then we found out a few weeks later, actually, there was a second meeting arranged with the ambassador.
And then, Jared Kushner met with the Russian banker close to Putin that they just kind of left out of that conversation. So a lot of either sins of omission or attempts to kind of just move beyond things and not really answer questions. Does it look like a cover-up, at times, yes. Is it, we don't know that. AXELROD: Let's be clear that the banker he was meeting with is very tied up with the Kremlin and his bank was sanctioned by the U.S. government. And, you know, the question that's lingering out there or one of this is, well, were sanctions discussed and is that why Jared Kushner wanted a private channel administered not by the U.S. but by the Russians to have back channel discussions?
But I just want to say one other thing about what Carl said. It is absolutely true that the president can lift the veil on a lot of this, simply by making the kinds of disclosures that have been the norm since Nixon.
For example, his tax returns. He could release his tax returns for the last 10 years and other details about his businesses that would give people confidence or not that he didn't have these obligations or connections to people who are related to Russia, if not Russian. And he hasn't done that. And every day that passes that he doesn't do that, he's adding to the suspicion that there's something there.
BERNSTEIN: It would be very helpful to see as well the Kushner company's tax returns and whether Jared Kushner or his family's organization has loans that are outstanding to Russians, ethno- Russians, et cetera, or have been seeking them.
COOPER: Matt Rosenberg, David Axelrod, Carl Bernstein, thank you very much.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead tonight, two vastly different views of how unusual it was if Jared Kushner proposed using Russian facilities to secretly communicate with Moscow. A former CIA briefer joins us. And later, Hillary Clinton's speaking out in the sharpest language yet about her election defeat, Russia's role and whether they had help.
[21:16:39] COOPER: A new perspective tonight on a question that's been out there ever since we learned about Jared Kushner's meeting with the Russia's ambassador back in December, namely, how typical or not was the arrangement Kushner reportedly wanted to set up, called a secret channel, a covered channel, or just in plain a back channel. Was this simply business as usual?
Last night on the program, Jeffrey Lord suggested there was nothing novel about it, equating Kushner as Robert Kennedy, both in his relationship with the president and in his Russian counterpart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say that Jared Kushner is the Robert Kennedy of the Trump administration. And I would disagree with Maggie about back channels and secret channels, because they can be the same things.
In the Kennedy era, quite specifically, the knowledge of this was limited to the two brothers. One was the president and one was the attorney general. They kept it out of the State Department. They kept everything away from everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Former presidential briefer, David Priess, suggested otherwise. He's the author of "The President's Book of Secrets," and responding to a tweet on Jeff Lord's comment. He tweeted that it was, "True and that Jared and JFK are the only two regular family recipients of daily Potus Intel docs in its 55 plus year history. False in all other ways." He and Jeff join us tonight.
So, David, in what ways is the comparison between Robert Kennedy and Kushner you think a false one?
DAVID PRIESS, AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENT'S BOOK OF SECRETS": Well, there's a large difference between the two men. Robert Kennedy before he took over as attorney general of the United States had served, well, on a couple of Senate committees staff. He had served in the Justice Department, had experience with the government. And, of course, he was the attorney general of the United States. He was one of those people in the smallest circle around the president helping to make national security decisions.
That is a very different position than we've seen with Jared Kushner, who had literally no government experience before coming in, had not assumed a role as a senior aide, because the administration wasn't in office yet.
The only similarity there really is, is that one you mentioned, which is that both of them were brought into the president's inner circle of the top-level intelligence document, the top tier daily intelligence product, that only the president and those he designates to receive it get to see every day. That and their age is really the only similarity that I see.
COOPER: Jeff, how about that?
LORD: The real comparison I wanted to make is the bond between brothers is different between a father and a son-in-law, but it is still, in this case, a very serious bond. And it became quite clear, as the Kennedy administration went on, that the president relied on his brother in all kinds of manners, including this manner that we've been talking about of a back channel representative of the president.
COOPER: Isn't the fact -- the reason that there are anti-nepotism laws largely part because of the relationship between the two?
LORD: Yes. Correct. You're absolutely right, Anderson. Lyndon Johnson couldn't stand him.
PRIESS: The point you were making about the Jared Kushner and Robert Kennedy comparison is that, in fact, this isn't all a strange thing, that he did this secret channel discussion with the Russians.
Well, I'm curious, Jeff, would you feel the same if President Obama or President Bush or President Clinton before him had used a family member to go to the Russian embassy and ask them about a secret channel using Russian communications? Would you have the same reaction?
LORD: First of all, other presidents than President Kennedy had this kind of relationship.
COOPER: But, wait a minute, Jeff, if you're telling me -- Jeff, you're honestly saying that -- Jeff, you are honestly saying that if Chelsea Clinton -- if Hillary Clinton won and during the transition she had chose -- she tasked Chelsea Clinton with meeting with Russia's ambassador and Russian businessmen in order to set up what they're describing as some sort of a back channel, that would be OK with you? That wouldn't be screamed from the headlines?
[21:20:08] LORD: And, yes, there would be. There would absolutely be screaming headlines. All I'm simply saying here is that presidents are going to trust whom they trust. And there have been a number of presidents in American history, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Franklin Roosevelt, John Quincy -- or John Adams and his son, John Quincy, who used family members in exactly the way or varying ways that JFK used Bobby Kennedy and that Donald Trump is using Jared Kushner.
PRIESS: No modern U.S. president has used a direct family member to receive top-level secret intelligence and then to go into a foreign embassy, and according to the reports, request to use the secret channels within that foreign embassy to communicate, outside of all normal other channels, before they'd even been set up. There's no comparison for that going back to John Adams.
LORD: Well, I mean -- so you're saying to me that when JFK used his brother to deal with -- what's his name, Georgi Bolshakov with the Russians, that there was something wrong with that?
PRIESS: It was certainly not a normal manner of proceedings, but that was building on communications that was going on to establish two different channels. In this case, you're comparing apples and oranges.
LORD: Well, JFK used Bobby Kennedy exactly not to tell the State Department. He kept the State Department out of the loop, quite deliberately. Barack Obama used not a family member, but a Senate staffer as a senator when he was a presidential nominee to do this. He had no business doing that. I mean, if that's the view, then why weren't we investigating President Obama when he got --
PRIESS: Well, that's not the point of contention. The point in contention is going before the administration has set up a front channel to establish some kind of a secret channel using a foreign government's communications lines. That's not what we're talking about in all these other examples you're bringing up.
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Jeffrey Lord, David Priess, I appreciate you both being with us. Thank you.
PRIESS: Thank you.
LORD: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, next, I'll talk to another panel about what it would mean beyond our borders if President Trump decides to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. What message would it send to our allies? We'll be right back.
[21:26:08] COOPER: A full night of presidential tweeting. The latest on climate change reads, "I will be announcing my decision on Paris accord Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at the White House rose garden. Make America great again."
If the president withdraws as expected, many will see it as an example of his America first policy in action. In a "Wall Street Journal" op- ed, President Trump's national security adviser and top economic adviser spelled out what that policy means and how he conveyed it overseas last week.
The then General H.R McMaster and Gary Cohn wrote, "The president embarked on his first foreign policy -- on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. At every stop on our journey, we delivered a clear message to our friends and partners where our interests align, we are open to working together to solve problems and explore opportunities." The op-ed carried the headline, "American first doesn't mean America alone."
Lots to discuss with retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, Fareed Zakaria, and Jeffrey Lord.
Fareed, if the president does decide to back out of this accord, what does it mean moving forward for the U.S.? I mean, the U.S. was an early force behind this accord and I think the second only to China in terms of emitting greenhouse gases?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": So it seems to me it operates at two levels. One is, what does it mean for the environment, for U.S. energy policy? And there, I think the tragedy is that the United States really over the last 10 years, partly because of government policy, partly private sector, has become a dominant player in the green energy space in alternative energy. I mean, this is a point Elon Musk keeps making.
There are now so many more solar jobs in America than coal industry jobs. There are, you know, the number of winds jobs is rising dramatically, much more dramatically than the losses in industries like coal. And so we would lose a lot of that energy and initiative that is really making the United States dominate these clean, increasingly cheap sources of energy for the future.
The second piece is, what does it mean for the United States as a global leader? And this is, in some ways, perhaps the larger issue. Whenever the world has confronted this kind of global challenges, you know, where we have China pollutes, it still hurts us. If somebody dumps pollution into the sea, it still affects the fish everywhere.
Who will lead? Who will set the agenda? Who will bring the world together? It's been the United States for 70 years, and it's been incredibly beneficial to the United States, because it means that the rules of the road are written with American interests and ideas firmly in mind.
So, backing out of what is really the signature global cooperation agreement right now sends a signal that the United States is sort of retiring from world leadership.
COOPER: Jeff, is that the signal it sends to you as a supporter of the president? I mean, the U.S., I think, would only be, other than Nicaragua and Syria, would only be the third country to reject the accord?
LORD: Anderson, in listening to my friend, Fareed, I really do think that there is a serious divide here on the issue. Speaking to you here from Pennsylvania, which is coal country, among other things, people are not willing -- I mean, nobody is opposed to solar, but they want to know why they can't have jobs in the coal industry. Why they can't have the kind of jobs with fracking and these other things.
And this also goes very distinctly to an ideological issue. The issue where a lot of conservatives feel this is the United States giving up its sovereignty and handing it over to, you know, through an "international treaty," and losing control here of their own -- of America's destiny.
Whatever it is we choose to do, we're no longer going to be allowed to do it. There really is that streak here in this. I've heard this talked about repeatedly, as this issue goes along here. So, I can only say, there is a deep divide on this.
ZAKARIA: Look, the United States is part of many global treaties. You always -- you have the ability to opt out. You can pay penalties for it. We're part of the Free Trade Agreements all over the world.
[21:30:12] The basic idea here, Jeff, is with 5 percent of the world's population. If we want to have 25 percent of the world's economy, which is what we have, we have to buy, sell, engage, cooperate with the rest of the world. And that means there have to be some rules of the road.
We get -- we've so far -- we've got to write them, which has been an incredible benefit. If we walk away, those guys are all going to keep trading. The Chinese are not going to stop growing. It just means the United States won't be at the heart of it. We won't be setting the agenda.
COOPER: Admiral Kirby, where do you stand on this? Mitt Romney tweeted about it earlier saying, "Affirmation of the Paris Agreement is not only about the climate, it is also about America remain in the global leader." Which is the point Fareed was making. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: It's very much about our global leadership. And I want to piggyback on Fareed and then I want to talk just quickly about national security, but he's absolutely right.
If we see the territory here to China, then we can pretty much count on the fact that the standards that will be undertaken under the Paris Agreement going far won't be as transparent. And won't be -- and people won't be held to the same level of accountability as if we underwrote those rules and stayed engaged. And it's not about giving up our sovereignty, in fact, it's quite the opposite.
I think the more we stay engaged, the more we can help control the agenda going forward. And as for jobs, every million dollars, according to the World Bank that's invested in clean and renewable energy, creates two to three times as many jobs in this country as does -- it does for every million dollars invested in coal and natural gas.
So, the jobs are not going to be in coal going forward. The future is renewable energy. And I think we need to be making sure that we're leading that effort. On national security, Secretary Mattis, his own defense secretary, has said that climate change is a national security challenge.
In July of 2015, the Pentagon put out a lengthy report talking about the very severe implications for our own national security if we don't do something about man-made climate change.
COOPER: Jeff, do you agree that the U.S. does -- I mean, have to engage with the world in terms of, you know, international diplomacy and accords. And to that argument of giving up sovereignty, isn't any kind of engagement or, you know, deal when makes internationally, can't you argue the same thing that that's giving up sovereignty?
LORD: I think you have to compete, Anderson. And it's very interesting. I mean, you get to the notions of, are we competitors resist the community? I think there is some considerable belief that if we go down the community road that suddenly we've got all kinds folks, not unlike the Brexit situation in Europe where a lot Brits felt that they had see the control of their country to Brussels and they didn't like it. And I think that that sentiment is afloat here, very much so.
COOPER: Admiral Kirby, Jeff is referencing a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed from General McMaster and Gary Cohn saying that, you know, the world is not a global community that nations compete for advantage.
KIRBY: I think both are true. I frankly don't buy the argument that we're not a community and it's just an arena as the word I think the op-ed used. It's both. Obviously, there's competition. Obviously, there are selfish national interests that every nation state pursues. But in -- but we are also a community. We all have to live on the same dirt. We have to breathe the same air. We should all be invested in the future of the planet. I also do want to acknowledge that Jeff's valid point that we do need to listen to voters. We do need to pay attention to those in certain industries in this country who feel like their voice hasn't been heard and are worried about their future. That's perfectly understandable.
But one thing I would pled -- I stand and remember is that the emissions targets in Paris Agreement, they're all voluntary. What's uniform is the way they're going to be held to account and to measure. But the emissions targets are all voluntary.
So, the president doesn't have to rip up the deal. He can take another look at it and maybe change the emissions targets and that is a way of exerting sovereign. That's a way of having control going forward.
COOPER: All right, Admiral Kirby, thank you, Fareed Zakaria, Jeff Lord, as well.
LORD: Thanks, Anderson.
KIRBY: Thank you.
COPPER: Coming up next, Hillary Clinton speaking out, again, about her election loss, suggesting something was up between Russia and the Trump campaign.
[21:38:08] COOPER: Just moments ago, the president tweeted about statements Hillary Clinton made today about the election. "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate. Hits Facebook and even Dems and DNC."
Just moments later, Secretary Clinton replied on Twitter, "People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe". That statement will make sense in just a little bit, when you see "The Ridiculist." It's all about covfefe.
In any case, Secretary Clinton is indeed speaking out. She was interviewed at a tech conference. She covered a lot of ground, Russia, the elections. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Russians, in my opinion and based on the Intel and counterintel people I've talked to, could not have known how best to weaponized that information unless they had been guided.
WALT MOSSBERG, COLUMNIST: Guided by Americans.
CLINTON: Guided my Americans and guided by people who had, you know, polling and data information.
KARA SWISHER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF RECODE: So who is that person?
CLINTON: So I hope that we'll get enough information to be able to answer that question.
SWISHER: But you're leaning Trump?
CLINTON: Yes. I'm leaning Trump. Look, I take responsibility for every decision that I made, but that's not why I lost. So, I think it's important that we learn the real lessons from this last campaign. I get the nomination. So I'm now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.
MOSSBERG: What do you mean nothing?
CLINTON: I mean it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.
MOSSBERG: This is the DNC, you're saying?
CLINTON: That the DNC to keep it going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, lots to discuss with two of our political commentators, Paul Begala who have run a Pro-Clinton Super PAC, Jason Miller who is the senior communications adviser to the Trump campaign.
Paul, Hillary Clinton is saying that her decisions are not why she lost. I mean, do you really think that's accurate? There's the deplorable comment not (ph) on a Wisconsin having a private e-mail server. Aren't those reasons she lost and all decisions she made?
[21:40:11] PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, she clearly made mistakes in that campaign. By the way, I advised her -- you know, these are additional (ph). I advised the Super PAC that supported her. I made mistakes in this, too. And it's true that's not why she lost. Every campaign makes mistakes. Every candidate does.
By the way, Barack Obama, the greatest politician of our generation, totally blew the debate against Mitt Romney in Denver in 2012. Every politician makes mistake. I can't remember any of them, but I think Donald Trump made a few.
What historians will remember about this election is not that Hillary made mistakes. It's that the Russians intervened. They hacked our election and that then the FBI director, perhaps reportedly duped by the Russians interfered in the election in those closing days, which is what tilt to it. There's data on this. It doesn't exonerate me or Hillary's campaign from the mistakes we made, but it is true that what tilted the election was the interference from outside forces, from Russia and the FBI director, Mr. Comey.
COOPER: Jason, I also want you to respond to that. I should also point out Hillary Clinton said, "I was the victim of a very broad assumption that I was going to win". I mean, I don't know if you want to think to take the word victim there, but how do you respond to Paul?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Victimhood on fleek, you know. I mean, we're at the point now where raise your hand if Hillary Clinton hasn't blamed you for the reasons why she lost. Look, I think her comments today really speak to two things.
Number one, this whole entitlement mentality that we're seeing right now from the Democratic Party where Secretary Clinton exasperating, "I inherited nothing." Look, this isn't handed to you.
I mean, the second part to this is also the Republicans put together a much better operation whether it was Brad Parscale who developed and designed President Trump's campaign data and analytics operation or Chairman Reince Priebus who got some very nice praise from former Secretary Clinton in her remarks today who developed the RNC's platform. We just put together flat-out a better operation.
And, look, to the whole point that Paul was saying about the Russian involvement or supposed involvement in the election, look, unless Secretary Clinton had a scheduler named Vladimir who (inaudible) did never to go to Wisconsin, or she had to speechwriter named Sergey who said, "Why don't you go out there and called millions of people irredeemable and millions more deplorable," then I think that's absolutely silly.
COOPER: Jason, you said supposed involvement by Russia. Do you think all the U.S. intelligence agencies are wrong that Russia was involved in the hacking of the DNC and releasing the e-mails?
MILLER: Well, the former CIA director made a very important point last week and said that the Russians had been trying to influence our elections for decades. So, I don't think you can go and say that magically they broke through in this election. And we still haven't seen one shred of evidence or one voter that's been moved, supposedly, by any outside --
COOPER: So, you do not take it as an article of faith that the Russians actually did or behind the hacking of the DNC?
MILLER: Oh, I think the Russians most certainly tried to meddle in the election somewhat. But, again, there hasn't been one single voter who's come forward and said that they were moved or swayed by something that some supposed foreign entity did nor to the fact of all this other Russian nonsense has had been anything put forward saying that the campaign coordinated with a foreign entity in other way.
But going back to the topic here with Secretary Clinton, I mean for her to go out there and blame everybody else, except for herself, here's the bottom line. President Trump was a better candidate. That's why he won.
COOPER: Paul? BEGALA: I'm just aghast. I'm appalled. We know, we have all 17 intelligence agencies who say Russia hacked our election. And they timed the leaks of John Podesta's e-mails, Hillary's campaign chairman, to match one hour after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, where Mr. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. There was an ongoing effort by the Russians to harm Hillary and help Trump.
This we know not from me, this we know from our intelligence agencies. And the fact that Jason, who's a good man, can go on national T.V. and pretend that it's otherwise or that our president still pretends that it's otherwise is preposterous. Look, it's going to happen to you next time, brother. It is.
The Russians are not through monkeying around with freedom. And the fact that this has been the most successful foreign intelligence operation that even the FBI director fell for it, we all ought to be appalled by that. I think it's really, really ashamed that the Trump folks don't understand that at best, at best they were the unwitting beneficiaries of a stolen election.
MILLER: And Paul at certain point, Secretary Clinton is going to have to look herself in the mirror and say, "I lost the race."
BEGALA: Yes. Believe me, she's done that plenty of times, Jason. But you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, "The Russians helped me."
COOPER: Paul --
BEGALA: Can you say that, "The Russians helped me."
BEGALA: Oh, good, god. No, of course not. Why do you think they did it?
COOPER: We've got to leave there. Paul Begala, thank you. Jason Miller, always, thanks.
COOPER: Just ahead, there's more breaking news. New dashcam video of Tiger Woods' roadside sobriety test.
[21:48:46] COOPER: Tonight, our Gary Tuchman is in Michigan at a GOP Congressman's Town Hall, the state went red for President Trump obviously in November. Not everyone in the state is a fan of the president, most surprisingly, not even the Republican congressman. Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michigan Republican Justin Amash, one of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives, but attacking Donald Trump at a town hall full of mostly Democratic constituents talking about two bills he wants to pass.
REP. JUSTIN AMASH, (R) MICHIGAN: One was for release of the president's tax returns and the other one for an independent investigation with respect to Russia.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Responding to a reporter's question, the Congressman is previously agreed that Donald Trump could face impeachment proceedings if allegations that he tried to impede the former FBI Director Jim Comey are true.
And in the Congressman's district in Western Michigan, people who voted for both Trump and Amash this past November are certainly well aware of the split between the two men.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Are you comfortable with your congressman, your Republican congressman, saying that to Republican president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Yes, I think I am.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the district's largest city, Grand Rapids, where a former President of the United States grew up, there's considerable unhappiness among Trump and Amash voters that it's come to this.
[21:50:07] (on camera): Do you think it's OK that the congressman has brought up the issue of impeachment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sure. Yeah. I mean, because it's out there. It's not like he invented it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Nearby, Marge's Doughnut Den is just over the district line, but many of Congressman Amash's voters come here. And Dave (inaudible) thinks the congressman should be more low key about the "I" word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think he's thinking it all the way through when he should not talk about it until he has actual facts.
AMASH: Thanks for being here today.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The congressman also recently told reporters he trusts the former FBI director more than the president.
(on camera): Who do you trust more, James Comey, the former FBI director, or the president, Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Donald, so, I'd say him.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Joyce Johnson (ph) also voted for the president, but --
Who do you trust more, the former FBI director, James Comey or the current president, Donald Trump?
JOYCE JOHNSON, RESIDENT FROM MICHIGAN: Well, Comey.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Comey?
JOHNSON: Comey, yeah.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): How come?
JOHNSON: Because I just feel that he knows what he's doing. I think he knows what he's doing more than what the president has done now.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Fact is, here in Justin Amash's 3rd district, which is part of Donald Trump's United States of America, many Republican voters are torn.
(voice-over): Who do you trust more, the former FBI director, James Comey, or the president, Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to say Donald Trump at the present time, but --
TUCHMAN (voice-over): If you had to buy a car from James Comey or Donald Trump, who would you choose?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably James Comey.
TUCHMAN: After the two hour, 10 minute town hall ended, Anderson, I asked the congressman if he wanted to elaborate about his grounds for impeachment comment or his comment about James Comey being more trustworthy than Donald Trump. He said, he stood by comments, but did not want to elaborate. He did add, however, that we'll see the results of the investigations and then we'll decide what to do. Anderson?
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, Gary thanks.
Coming up, Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers and most talented athletes of all-time, lately though he's hit a rough patch, obviously, not just on the golf course, he's battle back injuries for years and now there's this, dashcam video of his arrest in Jupiter, Florida. It shows Woods having trouble walking, trouble trying to tie his shoe.
Woods was arrested Monday. He passed a breathalyzer test and said he hadn't been drinking when the officer asked him. He did admit to prescription medication. In a statement, Woods said he had an unexpected reaction to that prescription medication.
Coming up, the tweet that nearly broke the internet, the president sends a pivotal fashion midnight missive and much of country goes completely covfefe over it. We're bringing back "The Ridiculist" for this one.
[21:56:15] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight we're talking about, well, I'm just going to say it, covfefe. In case, you're unfamiliar with the word, late last night the president tweeted, "Despite the constant negative press, covfefe".
Now, nearly 24 hours later, I don't believe we as a nation have reached consensus on the exact pronunciation of covfefe and I know it's kind of rich to rant against made up words during a segment called "The Ridiculist," which is a made up word, of course. But the difference is we didn't come up with that name by possible just passing out on a phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went to an Ivy League school. I'm very highly educated. I know words, I had the best words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That is more true now than we even knew it at the time. The covfefe tweet that (inaudible) late night presidential sentence fragment with one of the best words stayed up with no explanation for hours and hours and hours and then as dawn broke, the president suddenly deleted it and wrote, "Who could figure out the true meaning of covfefe? Enjoy."
In the world of Twitter that would be generally known as the, "Oh, yeah, I totally meant to do that trick. Always super effective." The problem is by the time he tried to pretend it was just a fun guessing game for America, the internet was already having its way with covfefe.
In turns out that there are two types of people who tweet after midnight, presidents and comedians. What were people tweeting? Well, there was a lot of, "Ask your doctor if covfefe is right for you. And don't talk to me until I've had my covfefe," plus some other highlights. One was its 5:15 -- "It's 5:50 a.m., and his tweet is gone. The sun rises and we all walk home in our party clothes. Was it all just a dream? The wind whispered covfefe."
Back on this camera. "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of covfefe rising up through air." Another, "When he saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I covfefe." I like that one. I don't what it means. "If you think you're above covfefe, you're part of the profefe." Profefe, I messed that one up.
Bunch of people also joke that Sean Spicer would say the tweet spoke for itself, which was actually not that far off. This was from today's press briefing, which was not only off camera, but also off in an alternate reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the people should be concerned that the president posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last night and that it then stayed up for hours?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it stay up so long? Is no one watching this?
SPICER: No, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant. Blake?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does covfefe mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does it mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does the President mean?
SPICER: Blake? Blake?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is covfefe?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What is covfefe? Hey, do all you remember when Dan Quayle was publicly shamed coast to coast because he didn't know how to spell potato? How far we've gone America? I'm sorry, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant? Come on. Don't covfefe on the nation's leg and tell us it's raining.
Now, we don't know what really happened. Maybe the president does use a secret word with a small group of people inside the White House when he doesn't want Reince Priebus to know that they're all talking about him. Maybe he was writing a tweet complaining about his press coverage again and then he got distracted because he heard his name on television and then he fell asleep. There's a lot we don't know, but the president does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know words. I have the best words. I have the -- but there's no better word than stupid, right? There is none. There is none. There's no word like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I got to argue with the president on that one. Maybe there are uses to be no better word than stupid, but not now.
Thanks for watching "AC Covfefe." It's time to turn things over to Adele Dazeem (ph). "CNN Tonight" starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, a new war of words between President Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon.