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Undocumented Man Acquitted in Death of Kate Steinle; White House Defends Trump Retweet as State Warns of Violence. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with breaking news on the undocumented immigrant and the woman he allegedly killed who candidate Trump made the twin centerpieces of his presidential campaign, Kate Steinle, whom President Trump to this day calls "beautiful Kate" and the man charged with her murder Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.

Tonight, a jury has found him not guilty and the repercussions could be enormous.

CNN's Dan Simon has late details and joins us now.

Just explain what happened. What would have you learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson we know that just within the past few minutes the jury has acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of murder, first-degree murder, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Now, this is the case that really brought the term sanctuary city to the forefront. You had this person who had been deported five times to Mexico. He would have been deported a sixth time, but San Francisco, a sanctuary city, does not comply with federal immigration detentions and therefore let him go.

Now, many thought that this would have been a slam-dunk case for the prosecution. You had Kate Steinle who was walking along this pier, this well-known pier in San Francisco, July 1st 2015. She's with her dad and a gunshot rings out. Within an hour, police had their man.

But the defense did a very good job in poking holes in the prosecution's theory. Remember, the prosecution said that this was an intentional murder, that you had this person point a weapon at Kate Steinle and pulled the trigger, but the prosecution obviously doing it an effective job in raising reasonable doubt.

But one thing we know, Anderson, is that the bullet ricocheted before striking Kate Steinle. That obviously helped the defense. Also, the defendant had very little gunshot residue on his hands, which some would argue would show that this was unintentional.

We can tell you that the defense claimed as improbable as it seems that Garcia Zarate was just sitting in his chair there along the pier for about minutes looked down and saw an object. He said the object was wrapped in cloth and unwrapped it and that is when the gun went off and the jury apparently bought that story, Anderson.

COOPER: The defendant had given several explanations to law enforcement as my understanding, not only the idea of the gun just going off. Also, that I think he said at one point he had stepped on it or kicked it, didn't he?

SIMON: He gave rambling statements, conflicting statements. He does not have all his cognitive abilities and the defense acknowledged that. But the jury seemed to overlook that.

At one point, Garcia Zarate actually said that he was aiming his gun at a sea lion. At one point, he also said that he was just five feet away from Kate Steinle when the gun went off when in reality he was about a hundred feet away.

So, whatever he told the police, the jury didn't seem to put much credence in it.

COOPER: And in terms of it's interesting that prosecutors basically gave the jury a number of options as you said, first-degree murder, I think second-degree murder and manslaughter, and they found him not guilty on all counts.

SIMON: They certainly did and the conventional wisdom was that if they were not going to find it guilty of murder, that at least they would find him guilty of involuntary manslaughter. But that was not the case.

And one thing that we should point out, Anderson, is that the weapon that was used in this, it was stolen from the agent of a Bureau of Land Management agent. He was in San Francisco with his family on vacation and the gun was stolen. They were never able to really link this gun to Garcia Zarate. Nobody knew how the gun wound up in his hands.

And the defense had an expert who said that this particular weapon is prone to accidental discharges. And so, perhaps the jury bought that as well.

COOPER: What the prosecution though had said is that it would have required a fair amount of force to actually use -- to actually pull the trigger on this weapon and Zarate as my understanding actually did, and I think the defense admitted this, dispose of the weapon in the San Francisco Bay, is that not correct?

SIMON: That's exactly right.

As soon as the gun went off, he threw the weapon into the San Francisco Bay which the prosecution said denotes guilt. But again, the jury seeming to overlook that, Anderson, and it's just been a stunning case.

We can tell you that the fact that he was an undocumented immigrant. That, of course, is what brought so much attention to this case played absolutely no bearing in the trial. This was simply about whether or not this was an accident or an intentional shooting.

COOPER: All right. And then I think I said he had cleared of all charges. He was found guilty of a lesser charge, correct, so like firearm possession or something?

SIMON: He was found guilty -- that's correct, because he does have some felonies on his record, multiple felonies, drug offenses, he was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

COOPER: And isn't clear what happens to him now or where -- I mean, where is he now?

SIMON: Well, he could get some prison time for that lesser charge. But from what we understand, he'll get credit for time served. So, it's quite possible if he doesn't get any prison time, we'll have to see what happens. It's quite possible that he could simply be transferred back to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then they could simply deport him back to Mexico. And remember, he had already been deported five times, some might make the argument that he would come back into the country again.

COOPER: We're going to continue or we're going to have more on this throughout the next two hours.

Dan Simon, appreciate that.

There is more breaking news to tell you about tonight. On Capitol Hill, the Republican sponsored tax bill might just have hit a major snag. A new report out tonight showing the proposal would increase the debt by one trillion dollars is not sitting well with some Republican senators. The drama is playing out right now in Washington. We'll get to that coming up.

But, first, President Trump, his retweets of anti-Muslim propaganda from a British hate group and the continued fallout and, yes, there is continued fallout. You might recall Mr. Trump calls his Twitter habit, quote, modern-day presidential. Perhaps it is if modern-day presidential means misinformed, factually inaccurate, and perhaps at times even dangerous. Dangerous, because today, State Department officials told us they're worried about new and violent demonstrations perhaps erupting at American embassies in the Middle East.

In Britain's House of Commons, lawmakers lined up to join Prime Minister Theresa May in admonishing the president.


PETER BONE, BRITISH PARLIAMENT: Wouldn't the world be a better place if the prime minister could persuade the president of United States to delete his Twitter account.


COOPER: This afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was peppered with questions about the reason behind it all, the president's retweeting of those three videos from a British hate group. In a moment, we'll get further into who this group is and what it stands for, because you ought to see what the leader of the free world is endorsing by spewing it out to it's nearly 44 million Twitter followers.

But, first, I just want to play for you what Sanders said today in defense of it because you might not actually believe it unless you hear it for yourself.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think what he's done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat that's extreme violence and extreme terrorism, something that we know to be very real and something the president feels strongly about, talking about, and bringing up and making sure is AN issue every single day, that we're looking at the best ways to protect Americans.


COOPER: Elevate the conversation, she said right there. Elevating the conversation by giving the presidential seal of approval to videos from a hate group, videos originally tweeted out by this woman Jayda Fransen. She is second in command at the group called Britain First. Britain First his anti-immigrant, but first and foremost, it is anti- Muslim.

There's a sample of how Jayda Fransen elevates the conversation as she confronts a Muslim woman in front of her young children.

This confrontation last year earned Jayda Fransen a conviction for religiously aggravated harassment. And it's not some kind of one-off. It is actually what this group Britain First does. It's what it is.

They march in to Muslim neighborhoods wearing paramilitary style uniforms, confronting, harassing residents, and it's what the president is now retweeting. In armored SUVs, they sometimes go to places in Britain they called Muslim occupied.

Here's the leader of the organization whose videos the president is retweeting.


PAUL GOLDING, BRITAIN FIRST LEADER: We're in East London, the heart of Muslim East London. We've got an armored Land Rover full of activists, which is heading down into the Brick Lane White Chapel area. We've received new information that Muslim gangs are trying to enforce certain parts of Sharia law, and quite frankly, we're not having this. We've got activist teams out across the country tonight carrying out similar Christian patrols in heavily Muslim areas.


COOPER: And it goes on and on beyond that. Now, last year, British MP Jo Cox was murdered by a man, according to one of the witnesses, shouting "Britain First" as he shot and stabbed her to death. I spoke to Jo Cox's widower last night.


BRENDAN COX, WIDOWER OF BRITISH MP JO COX: This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan. You know, this is not a mainstream organization from the presidents of the United States, our greatest ally as a country, to be retweeting, to be providing a microphone to those voices I think everybody, no matter what your political persuasion in the U.K. I think has been shocked by that.


COOPER: These voices are a minority in Britain, we should point out, and a minority here and those voices have now been exponentially amplified by the president of United States who the White House now says maybe didn't even know he -- who he was retweeting.


REPORTER: Did the president when he retweeted Jayda Fransen know who she was?

SANDERS: No, I don't believe so. But, again, I think he knew what the issues are and that is that we have a real threat of extreme violence and terrorism, not just in this country but across the globe, particularly in Europe.

[20:10:09] And that was the point he was making, and I don't really have much to add beyond that.


COOPER: So, Sarah Sanders just said President Trump, the most powerful person in the world, who has access to a reams of information and the Internet probably doesn't know anything about the person whose propaganda he is actually spreading, elevating the conversation.

Joining us now is former director of national intelligence and our own national security analyst, James Clapper.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Director Clapper, I mean, the State Department alerting the White House over fears that the president's retweets could spark some kind of violent protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East. Do you share those concerns?

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I do and I've lived through this in previous instances of inflammatory videos which can really incite people in certain parts of the Mideast, and I in fact, I recall are closing temporarily some two dozen or so diplomatic facilities because of concern about the safety and security of our diplomatic missions. So, these things have a wave of inciting. Although, you know, you may think they are innocuous, in certain parts of the world they are not.

And, you know, tweeting is a great way to communicate. I just wish the president would exert more discretion and do so -- and have people fact check things before he tweets them out, because some of these -- and to me this is smacks of recklessness or if not abject carelessness.

So, it's very concerning to me to see this unnecessary risk to our people overseas.

COOPER: You know, I mean, radical Islamists are one thing. This group Britain First, I mean, they're, you know, costing Muslims just on the streets of England, and obviously, there are many people in United States who kind of try to do similar things on the Internet -- Internet trolls who do this sort of thing, costing the Muslims who are not radical Islamist but who are just living their lives.

I'm wondering as somebody who is focused on national security and intelligence for your entire career, does this the idea of sort of painting all Muslims with this broad brush, does it hurt us diplomatic but also more importantly military efforts because we have us soldiers and marines and sailors who are risking their lives in support of regimes in Iran, in Afghanistan, helping people in Somalia predominantly Islamic countries.

CLAPPER: Well, it does and particularly to have the commander-in- chief, the leader of the free world, seemingly endorsed such inflammatory and it looks to me like contrived or phony videos. And it just makes -- it just unnecessarily complicates what our folk -- our people overseas, the diplomats, our military people are trying to do.

And I just don't see the -- I don't see the point of it because it just generates unnecessary risk and then domestically, if there are some whatever the number is, 44 million followers of the president's tweets, well, some number of them -- some small number of them are at various stages of radicalization. So what is that -- what is something like this do to them here in this country?

So, I -- you know, I think the press secretary should be considered for the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers a sustained tap-dancing award for trying to defend the -- what to me is indefensible.

COOPER: You're saying this actually push it can push some individuals who may be predisposed or disturbed in some way but put or religiously-motivated push them into radicalization if they feel that there is this blanket war against Islam or hatred toward Muslims or fear or dislike.

CLAPPER: Well, exactly. I mean, demonizing all Muslims or the Muslim religion, I just think is -- and that's kind of what's happening here -- I think is really reprehensible.

COOPER: I mean, it goes without saying that that perhaps this is something the president should have taken into consideration before retweeting videos from an anti-Muslim far-right British activist -- at the very least, if Sarah Sanders is correct, and he had no idea who this what this group was -- I mean he certainly seems Internet savvy -- he could have at least Googled them.

CLAPPER: Well -- or somebody could on his behalf. As I say, the tweeting can -- is obviously a very powerful form of direct communication. So that in itself is not bad. It's just -- I wish there would be more discretion, more care given to what is the content of what is tweet -- of what is tweeted out.

[20:15:07] I mean, this has huge impacts in not only in this country, but the rest of the world. And it's just inconceivable to me that that is not done and that he -- he's not more careful about -- what he tweets. And here -- now, we've poisoned a relationship with our closest ally, the United Kingdom, and set off a firestorm of controversy and criticism there for what? I don't -- I don't understand it.

COOPER: Yes. General Clapper, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

We're going return to the other Steinle case next, bringing our legal experts, check on any reaction from the White House and the president who essentially made the case front-page news.

Later, the breaking news on your taxes and a bill that could be far more expensive than promised. Senator Angus King joins us with that.


COOPER: More now in the breaking news from the top the hour.

A jury has found an undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder in the killing of a woman in San Francisco, Kate Steinle -- a case that the president has seized on to bolster his anti-immigration campaign.

Just moments ago, CNN received this exclusive statement from Kate Steinle's brother Brad, referring to details of the case. Quote: I'm not surprised, he writes, the system failed Kate from the start of this chain of events. Why would it be any different? From the drug charge to being released to not being detained by ICE, the BLM agents leaving a loaded weapon in an unlocked car, it is failure after failure.

The statement goes on to say: The culmination of events is an epic fail. This doesn't affect us in any way. Kate is gone. The strength we have drawn from Kate, her memory is with us. Good has come from this. We've raised money in her memory for Challenge Athletes Foundation and Students Rising Above Youth, both of which Kate was involved in.

[20:20:00] The Day Kate died at 1:00 a.m., she posted, quote, whatever is good for your soul, do that.

Dan Simon has been following the case. He is back with us.

So, you've been following this trial. Is the not guilty verdict a surprise? I mean, there was a lot of evidence stacked up against the accused.

SIMON: I think it was surprising that he was not found guilty at least of involuntary manslaughter. I do think that the defense did an excellent job in terms of raising reasonable doubt.

The prosecution though said that this was a slam-dunk case. They said that this defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was essentially playing his own real-life version of Russian roulette, that he was at that pier that day with the full intention of killing somebody. They brought on a witness who actually said that Garcia Zarate was sitting in his chair laughing and smiling people as folks went by on that pier, basically laying the theory that Garcia Zarate was intent on killing somebody, if it wasn't Kate Steinle.

The fact though that this bullet ricocheted off the ground I think helped out the defense in a very significant way. You had a gun specialist testified that if it did not ricochet off the ground, that Kate Steinle would be alive. He made the argument that not even the best marksman in the world could make that kind of shot and it seems like the jury essentially bought that version.

COOPER: And, Dan, I mean the he had made various statements to law enforcement in what when he was interrogated, after being arrested. I assume the defense was basically able to just raise enough questions about his understanding of what he was talking about or what he was saying.

SIMON: The police interview was essentially meaningless. He gave conflicting answers. Sometimes, he implicated himself. Sometimes, he said things that made no sense.

At one point, he said that he thought he was pointing the gun at an animal. So, essentially, what he told police, the jury just -- what I think -- is they just couldn't make sense of it, so they were left with some of these questions about the ricochet shot, questions about the gun itself, questions about gunshot residue.

The defense made the argument that if he has a gun in his hand and fires, that there's going to be all kinds of gunshot residue particles on his hands. But he had just a single particle.

And so, that bolstered the argument that the gun was wrapped in a cloth, and that he found it. So, from the jury's point of view, there was enough question there to raise some reasonable doubt.

COOPER: All right. Dan Simon, appreciate that.

The president talked about Kate Steinle obviously a number of times on the campaign trail repeatedly. Here's what he said at a rally in Phoenix in August of 2016.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my first day in office, I am also going to ask Congress to pass Kate's Law named for Kate Steinle, to ensure that criminal aliens convicted of illegal reentry received strong mandatory minimum sentences strong, and then we get them out


COOPER: Let's go down the White House and Sara Murray.

Any reaction so far from the White House?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have asked the White House for a statement on this, to see what the president's reaction is, because as you pointed out, he talked about this numerous times during the presidential campaign. We haven't heard from him yet but we did hear from Attorney General Jeff Sessions who put out a statement. I'm going to read you a portion of it.

In the statement session says when jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public safety at risk. San Francisco's decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.

So, you already see there, administration officials taking aim at San Francisco's position as a sanctuary city. Of course, we have heard the president decry sanctuary cities a number of times, both during the presidential campaign and since he's taken office, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, you saw in that clip, we just played and you spend obviously a tremendous amount of time with the candidate on the campaign trail. This was a huge issue for him as -- and that he brought up many times.

MURRAY: It was a huge issue. Remember, immigration was his central issue when he entered the presidential race. It was something he campaigned on and when learned of Kate Steinle story.

It's certainly something the president latched on to and used as an example, as a rallying cry for tougher immigration policies throughout the presidential campaign. So, we are waiting to see whether the White House whether the president is going to weigh in on this.

COOPER: Yes. All right, Sara Murray, appreciate that.

Joining me now for legal perspective is Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, I mean, my understanding is the prosecutors gave the jury a number of potential -- it could have been murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter.

[20:25:03] The fact that that they didn't convict him on any of those, does it surprise you?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It does, although San Francisco juries are unusually favorable to defendants. It's a liberal city, and they're -- they are much more sympathetic to defendants than you might see in different cities.

It's important to remember that the jury was specifically instructed not to consider anything regarding immigration law.

COOPER: About immigration policy.

TOOBIN: Immigration policy or the fact that he'd been deported five times. That was that was not before the jury. Now, who knows if they read the newspaper? Obviously, that was something that that was much in the news.

But the issue before them was entirely on the basis of shooting, Kate Steinle. Not anything about his immigration status.

The attorney for this man said that that it was clearly an accident and that I'm wondering -- and that's what the evidence showed and yet, he did give a number of statements to the police, you know, saying --

COOPER: Right. But as Dan said, those statements were so contradictory and so confused that the argument that that was made to the jury, that even just disregard them all and apparently that's what the jury did, they did convict him of illegal possession of the weapon, but when you consider the magnitude of this loss and the death of Kate Steinle, it's a very minor conviction.

COOPER: Yes. I want to bring in Laura Coates as well.

Laura, I mean if he's guilty of a possession of this weapon and the weapon was fired, why wouldn't that be manslaughter? Which is obviously much lower bar to meet.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Of course, it seems very counterintuitive to people. However, the possession has to be different from the manslaughter because the matter of intent, in the way that the law structures different levels of intentional or unintentional killings is all about how you frame the narrative of intent. Was it reckless? Was it careless? Was an intentional act where you're trying to harm somebody? Was it an accident?

And it seemed that the way that it was framed, through the jury, seems as though the ricochet had the ultimate impact in being able to undermine any conceivable notion that perhaps this in fact was intended to shoot the person who was in fact shot Kate Steinle in this case.

And so, although the possession would tell you that look, he obviously had it, and obviously, the possession led to a killing of this young woman. But the intent portion of it is so pivotal to any jury considering it. But I find it very -- it's not shocking to me they did not find have a conviction in this case based on that theory.

COOPER: So that's an important point. So, if it hadn't been a ricochet, if it had been a direct shot, it might have been manslaughter or something else?

COATES: I think that would have been a very, very key and pivotal change of the entire prosecution's case, because a theory of course is that they thought it was going to be a slam dunk because this is the person who had residue on his hands, he was seen throwing the weapon into the San Francisco Bay. They were probably banking on the notions of the court of public opinion or somebody who is a repeated felon or somebody who was returning to the United States after having been deported, was acting in disregard at the law. And so, it would naturally follow in their mind somebody who disregards the law in one context is willing to do so in the other.

However, when you're talking about intentional or unintentional killings, you actually have to be able to prove that the two actions are related, that I intended to shoot the weapon and my shot was not intended to hit a sea lion as one argument was made or there is trying to hit a part of the pier, I had to be aiming for a particular person.

Now, there is this theory, Anderson, of transferred intent. So I could have been another person and then ended up killing somebody else, but that theory all would really be undermined by the notion that it ricocheted. It sounds more like an accidental killing, and that's neither voluntary, involuntary or an intentional homicide.

COOPER: All right. We're going to have more in this coming up. Jeff Toobin, Laura Coates, thank you both very much.

Coming up, the latest from Capitol Hill and the fate of the tax bill right now.


[20:32:37] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: With time running out for the President and Republicans to rack up only major legislative accomplishment of the year, the massive and complicated tax bill making its way through Senate just hit a snag. Congresses only score keeper just issued a report contradicting the president's claim that'll pay for itself by growing economy for a front end (ph) and that triggered turmoil in the Senate floor. More in the dollars and cents effort, CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.

So this new debt analysis from the joint committee on taxation that came out this afternoon was not what Republicans certainly what they need or wanted. How did they react?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRSPONDENT: Yes, didn't go over well at all Anderson up here on Capitol Hill. That really helped to kill a lot of the momentum that Republican leaders had been feeling for good portion of the day. Especially earlier in the day when they have John McCain come out and say that he supports this bill. But that JCP report which extend even accounting for economic growth, the bill would add a whopping $1 trillion to the deficit over a decade, that did not sit well for deficit hawks.

Namely senator Bob Corker, he has promised that he will not to get behind this bill to add a single pennies to the deficit. He had been behind of course this idea of a deficit trigger. This idea that some kind of trigger would be work in that would raise taxes automatically if growth projections were not met. But late today, there -- the set up some drama here because the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that trigger would not be permitted, essentially that potentially loses Bob Corker support of this bill. So now I'm behind the scene at this late hour, there is a scramble to salvage those polling people like Bob Corker by going to other ideas of -- what those ideas are, what changes are made at this point Anderson, is very unclear.

COOPER: So where do Republicans go from here?

SERFATY: Well they're not going to vote on this bill tonight that's first and foremost. They are going to try again tomorrow, those are debating through the night, first votes on amendments aren't scheduled till 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. So no progress in eminent user potentially tomorrow behind the scenes they were working, looking at different proposals, looking at changes to be made. A lot of talk about different things that could be worked in, but I do have to highlight that we are potentially still just hours away from a potential vote in Senate on major tax bill and as of now, many members up here wondering what's in this bill, what changes is going to made. They still have to write in the bill and there's potentially vote in on such short amount of time.


SERFATY: A lot of in flux up here.

[20:35:00] COOPER: Sunlen Serfaty, I appreciate it, thanks very much.

Joining us now is now Maine's Independent Senator Angus King. Senator, you were on the Senate floor earlier today, part of this huddle with Senator Corker. Can you just explain what was going on and major sticking points sir?

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: Sure, well first let me say, your reporter was absolutely right. The real question being ask tonight is, what tax bill? Believe it or not Anderson, nobody's seen it. Were is going to be voting on one of the most important votes we'll ever take in this body, that will affect this country for the next 30 years sometime tomorrow and nobody's seen the bill. To call this a circus would be an insult to circuses.

But let me talk about what was going on. I submitted a very simple amendment that simply said, send the bill back to the finance committee and have them report back a deficit neutral bill. A bill that doesn't blow hole in the deficit. And there were a group of Republicans that were inclined to support my amendment. It threw everything in to disarray. A vote it was supposed to take 15 minutes ended up taking over an hour. Ultimately those Republicans ended up voted against my amendment. But the issue is not settled by any means. And as I say, the amendment was very straightforward. Send the bill back to committee, send us back one that doesn't blow a hole in the deficit. And now here we are faced with, you know, we don't know what. And we're going to be taking this big vote tomorrow. But there are so many moving parts and its going to be fairly easy for them to fix this. But so far they just aren't doing so.

COOPER: Are there other options?

KING: Will be discussions all night.

COOPER: Yes, I mean are there other options on the table? Because I understand from Phil Mattingly's reporting that one option is the corporate tax rate going up after six years.

KING: Well, that's one option. And then to complicate, there is Marco Rubio and Mike Lee have an amendment to provide a more generous tax credit for children which I think is very appropriate, they would bump the corporate rate up from 20% to 22% in order to pay for that.

So, there's a lot of things in play here and -- but the really frustrating thing Anderson is, this is a bill that's never had a hearing. It's never had a hearing. When we did tax reform in 1986, there were 33 hearings over 10 months and the bill passed the Senate 90 to 10. In this case they've tried to jam it through, no hearing, one week of committee consideration, no expert opinion from outside, no ordinary citizens and here we are, and as of, you know, whatever it is 8:30 tonight, we don't still -- we still don't know what the bill is. That the people that are running the show don't know what the bill is.

So I just think it's ridiculous. And what we ought to do is, take a deep breath, stop and try to develop a bipartisan bill which could still be done, that everybody agrees, I don't know that everybody but most people agree without a cut corporate tax rate to be more competitive. And there are some other things we can do to stimulate the economy. But the report that came out this afternoon when the joint tax committee just blew away this argument, there somehow, this is going to pay for itself. And so, you know, they're left trying to figure out how to make it whole and I don't think they're going to be able to do it.

COOPER: I mean how can people in good conscience vote for a bill that nobody has actually seen or read? I mean there could be all sorts of favors to people and organizations and lobbyists inside there?

KING: Anderson, the Bangor City council wouldn't amend the leash law with a process like this. I mean it's embarrassing. And it's not the way the Senate is supposed to work. I worked here as a staff member many years ago, never -- it was never anything like this. And having -- bringing a bill up and rewriting it. I mean bills always get changed and they're always complicated, but idea of having us vote on -- as I say I think one of the most important bills that we'll ever vote on is going to affect every business, every American, our entire economy, probably for the next 20 or 30 years. And we have no idea how it all fits together, whether it does, what the unexpected consequences are, I mean it's just a hell of a way to run a railroad.

COOPER: What do you make of the President's comments saying that this bill will cost him a fortune? Will it in your opinion?

KING: Well, of course it's impossible to assess that, because we've never seen his tax returns. But the tax return we did see from 2005, we saw a summary. I think I remember my figures right, he paid $38 million in tax, $31 million of that was because of something called the alternative minimum tax which high income taxpayers, says basically says you can't deduct down to nothing. And it clicks in for high income. That's repealed in this bill.

The estate tax is repealed in the House bill and modified in this bill. Those two provisions, I don't see how they couldn't help, but help the President. Now, you know, it's one thing for him to assert that it helps, that it will hurt him. But all evidence is to the contrary and he could solve this issue very easily by simply handing his -- releasing his tax returns which every president, every presidential candidate for the last 40 or 50 years has done.

[20:40:03] But to me for him to say it's going to hurt me, that doesn't square with what we saw from his '05 return.

COOPER: As (INAUDIBLE), Senator I appreciate your time, thank you.

KING: Yes sir.

COOPER: Coming up next, we -- the reports that Secretary of State Tillerson was on the way out. Were they -- were those reports really a plan to publicly humiliate the Secretary of State? We'll talk "Rexit" and the possible reasons behind it in a moment.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight. A source tell CNN the White House wanted to publicly shame the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with the news that they were considering replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next few months. The idea the source says, was to shame him and then wait for him to quit. Today Sarah Sanders was press by reporters about whether or not Tillerson was on the way out. Here's what she said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS: -- because we've said many times before as a -- many of you love to write these type of stories. When the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in. The President was here today with Secretary of State. They engaged in a foreign leader visit and are continuing to work together to close out what we've seen as incredible year.


COOPER: Maggie Haberman at the "New York Times" first broke the news that Tillerson's potential ouster joins us now on the phone.

Maggie, rumblings on the President unhappiness with Rex Tillerson, is been going on for some time. How did this all come to a head?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, it's a wonderful question. I mean part of the issue has been this president has been unhappy with him as you say for months. And it's not just president, it's almost everyone around the president in the west wing. It came to a head that Tillerson was not going to survive for many months longer shortly after the NBC report about him describing the president as moron which he was pretty slow to disavow at least that particular comment.

They've been looking for replacement for a while, while John Kelly who was generally been a Tillerson's reporter internally and tried to keep continuity through this year. That there is a recognition that this is not tenable. The President and Rex Tillerson I'm told had a decent rapport during the recent Asia trip. My understanding from people I've spoken to is that this was put out really an effort to essentially say that Tillerson, you're going to have to go soon, whether you do it yourself or we do it for you, it will be happening by the end of the year and to lock in president so he doesn't change his mind.

COOPER: Why not just fire him though?

HABERMAN: Because the president of the United States despite having getting elected in part because people knew him for saying the line you're fired actually hates firing people. He's incredibly non- confrontational.

[20:45:06] If you recall, every major firings for the most part has taken place at the hands of a subordinate to the president, Corey Lewandowski, his campaign manager was fired not by the president but by his son. This is in keeping with that he doesn't like personal conflict. It is much easier for to swirl up this way and for people to try to get Tillerson go of his own accord. Tillerson has not been consistently happy either, there have been moments when Tillerson has talked about leaving. It does not seem like it's one of them but the administration is already preparing for the next act.

COOPER: I mean Michelle Kosinski is reporting that the news of the plan to ousted was meant as a public shaming. Do you -- have you anything on that?

HABERMAN: I think it certainly was meant in part as public shaming, but actually I think it had a practical goal of those making clear that this is where it's going and letting the president see that this is where it has to go. To my point earlier about how he doesn't like to fire people, he often changes his mind when it comes to the moment of truth, when you actually have to make an adjustment. Remember for how long Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been urging him to get rid of Steve Bannon before John Kelly arrived and that finally took place. It takes a while for these things to happen in Trump land.

COOPER: I found interesting in your reporting that White House may actually be worried about other departures coming soon of senior officials.

HABERMAN: That's true. There are a number of people who they're concerned are going to leave at end of the year. It's not uncommon for staff members to last a year into a new White House and then depart. The White House (INAUDIBLE) it's a stressful job under typical circumstances and these are obviously atypical circumstances. They want make sure that they have a handle on everything. They are looking across the board at who else could go, but again John Kelly has been keeping focus on things staying the same through 2017. After that, things will change. COOPER: Maggie Haberman, thanks so much.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Joining me for their take on this is Ambassador Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to six Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq. He co-wrote a "New York Times" op-ed sounding what he called the alarm bell about the president's dismandling the State Department. Also CNN political commentator Jen Psaki, former for State Department's spokesperson for the Obama administration.

Ambassador Crocker, you served under president's both parties going back decades. I wonder what do you make of the CNN reporting that the White House is trying to publicly shame Secretary Tillerson by leaking this plan to replace him.

RYAN CROCKER, DIPLOMAT-IN-RESIDENCE, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I've certainly seen the reports Anderson. Look, we've never seen anything like this since World War II. Throughout the modern era. This is not -- well in sense that the White House will float out there that they're going to fire somebody, how unhappy the President is with someone. We've seen with attorney general, we're seeing it now with Secretary Tillerson and we saw it a while back when it was leaked out that the President was considering firing General Nicholson, our combat commander in Afghanistan, it verges on the criminal.

It is weakens the authority of a man fighting a war. People can die for that. Similarly with Secretary Tillerson, whatever time he has left, he's not going to be taken seriously by too many world leaders. That is also very dangerous. So --

COOPER: That's essential for secretary of state?

CROCKER: This is not a celebrity TV show --

COOPER: That's essentially for secretary of state.

CROCKER: -- you going to have credibility. Absolutely. You know, that when the secretary speaks, people have to know that he is speaking for the president. So this is -- this puts Tillerson in impossible position.

COOPER: Jen, I mean the idea that this is how the White House would deal with nation's top diplomat, someone who is by the way fourth in line to the presidency is just stunning. I mean one source telling CNN that the west wing is just waiting for Tillerson to "punch out and the clock is ticking". If you were advising Secretary Tillerson, what would you recommend he do the deal with this?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's already left the period of time where he could leave on his own terms has already passed, because there has been a long death march here. Secretary -- or President Trump has been cutting him off at the knees for months, by criticizing him publicly and as Ambassador Crocker referenced, by really making foreign leaders question whether he's speaking on behalf of the President of the United States or on behalf of the United States.

But if I were advising him, I would say leave on your own terms to the degree you can. Go out gracefully, go out on your own terms before you're publicly fired and do that soon. And I certainly hope that that's something that he's being advised internally.

COOPER: Ambassador Crocker, what sort of -- I mean I'm certainly no fan of Secretary Tillerson, you know, internal decisions at the State Department. I know you co wrote a "New York Times" op-ed about that just last week.

[20:50:05] Do you have any reason to believe things would be different if the President Trump nominates CIA Director Mike Pompeo, I mean who the president will probably wants to add state or replace him?

CROCKER: I would like to think it would be different that the President would put in place people in whom he has confidence and then maintain that confidence. I have a -- my expectation that will happen is under control, let's put it that way.

COOPER: Jen, you know, we also learn today that the State Department express concerned at the White House about the President's anti-Muslim re-tweets yesterday, warning that they could be endangering U.S. personnel. I mean so whatever problem the west wing has with the secretary does seems like the State Department really has concerns of its own.

PSAKI: Absolutely. And Secretary Tillerson I believe and I think out what Ambassador Crocker wrote in the "New York Times" is proudly supported and agreed with -- by anyone who's ever work at the State Department. That what their doing and vetting the department is absolutely terrible. But he also has been aligned on some issues with the foreign policy establishment from both sides of the aisle, and expressing concerns of certainly about the tweets that were made earlier this week. That President Trump put out, supporting staying in the Iran deal, staying in climate -- that's a climate change agreement. Those are more aligned with what most people think should happen. The problem is if he has virtually no power and hasn't had power for some time.

COOPER: Jen Psaki, Ambassador Crocker, appreciate it, thank you.

So when we come back, breaking news. The President will hold a campaign rally just 25 miles from Alabama next Friday, that's just days before the U.S. Senate election that pits Roy Moore against Doug Jones. And after the White House said, President Trump would not travel to Alabama before the election. We'll get into that, next.


COOPER: Well, breaking news tonight, President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida next Friday. Which is just days before the Alabama Senate election that pitch Roy Moore against Doug Jones. The Pensacola of course is just 25 miles from the Alabama border and is in an Alabama TV market.

Our Gary Tuchman joins us now with more. So the White House says place and the president would not go to Alabama, but he sure is close.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what it comes down to Anderson. Roy Moore who is behind me right now inside a baptist church here in foggy door Alabama, about to start speaking at a campaign event very likely will come face to face with Donald Trump before the election a week from Tuesday and that's right.

[20:55:03] What's happening here, is Alabama, the closest point of Alabama to Pensacola, Florida is going 15 miles away. So the mobile Alabama, Pensacola, Florida area are part of the same television market. People coming to this rally that Donald Trump will be holding Pensacola will Alabamians, this will be on Alabama television. So despite the fact that Donald Trump said in the White House, said that he would not be coming to Alabama to campaign for Roy Moore, well this is the campaign rally he's having. It's not stated it's for Roy Moore, but you can bet at Roy Moore will be mentioned at a rally that lots of Alabamians will be at.

COOPER: And Gary, obviously Roy Moore continues to push back against the allegations concerning his behavior with teenage girls last night. I know he said, I want to play for our viewers something he said regarding his accusers.


ROY MOORE, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Let me state once again, I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women.


COOPER: He said, he didn't know any of the women. But listen to what he said two weeks ago when he was on Sean Hannity's radio show, he had this to say about two of them.


MOORE: I do recognize, however the names of two of these young ladies, Debbie Wesson and Gloria Thacker, which they have -- that's their maiden name. I remember her as a good girl. I seem to remember her as a good girl.


COOPER: So I know you've been talking to his supporters. Some of his supporters about the contradiction. What did they think about it?

TUCHMAN: Yes, the last few minutes Anderson, as his supporters, his part (ph) supporters came out into this church behind me. We asked them about these very different statements that he's made over a period of 2 1/2 weeks. We ask them if they had any second thoughts. We showed the video, we'll let them listen to the audio. And here's what they said.


MOORE: I seem to remember her as a good girl. TUCHMAN (on-camera): So my question for you is, he said last night that he didn't know any of these girls. But he said to Sean Hannity that he remembered two of them as good girls. Does that trouble you, does that two different things about knowing his accusers?

DANNY TESSENEER, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: No, sir. Not that -- I mean we're talking about again, (INAUDIBLE) we're talking about 40 or 50 years ago, so I don't know. He has --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Two weeks ago that he said he knew two of them, and now he's saying he doesn't know any of them. Does all he can't his stories straight?

TESSENEER: I don't know this or not.

JANET PORTER, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: It's whether you know them in an intimate way or whether you know of them. I mean I can say to you, let me just ask you, where were you on Thursday November 9th at 2:00 in the afternoon, four years ago. 40 year ago.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So the plain that you're saying, that doesn't mean anything?

PORTER: I know lots of people. I've met lots of people, but the ones I know or I know the ones I dated, I know the ones I've known, you know, as a close friend, but I know there's some people that you know as a happen an stance.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you don't think he's contradicting himself?

PORTER: I don't.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Could he be trying to change his story as this goes on?

BERT GRIGGS, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: No. I -- there's a lot of things that occur to me at a second glance that's not a contradiction.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you stand with him?



TUCHMAN: We talked to people off camera too who didn't want to go on come, they felt the same way. Nobody at least the people who were supporting him this church right now are troubled by these different statements that were uttered 17 days apart. Anderson.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, appreciate you being there. Thanks very much.

Coming up next more on the acquittal of Kate Steinle's suspected murder. An undocumented immigrant who serves as a flash point during the presidential campaign. Plus, a time running out for President Trump, they were (INAUDIBLE) gets tax reform through Congress before the end of the year? The plan hit the snag, we'll get into all of that, when we continue.