Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Porter's Ex-Wife: Rob Asked Me to Downplay the Abuse Allegations; Sources: Trump Aides Knew of Porter Security Clearance Trouble; Threat of Government Shutdown as GOP Sen. Rand Paul Holds Up Key Vote; Omarosa on Pres. Trump: "I was Haunted by Tweets Every Single Day". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 8, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to the second hour of "360".
On the table tonight, one of the Rob Porter's ex-wives speaks out about the abuse she says she endure while married to him. That and effort the White House seems to be making to obscure how long top officials have actually known the allegations against the former top aide.
Also tonight, the showdown over a government shutdown and the budget drama that's been playing out for hour on s on the Senate floor. And another former top aid Omarosa Manigault-Newman issues a dire warning about her former boss, the President is taking -- about where the President is taking the country. She does it of course on Big Brother house. No, is it Big Brother? Yes, I guess it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: Big Brother, yes, sorry. I don't watch it. Let's -- I just want to either to get to know one of women for whom this is not about damage control, but hopefully instead of measure of healing. Jennie Willoughby is her name. She was married to Rob Porter from 2009 to 2013 during which time she said she endured emotional and verbal abuse and frightening physical confrontation and even filed a temporary order of protection.
Porter's first wife, Colbie Holderness, also divorced him after years. She says, consistent abuse including incidents of physical violence, choking, punch there with a black eye. Rob Porter denies the allegations calling them outrageous, simply false. He says the reality behind the pictures is, "Nowhere close to what is being described." And says, "I've been transparent and truthful about these vile claims."
With that said, I want to play you what Jennie said in just a moment. But first, I want to two to Pam Brown standing by at the White House. Pam? PAM BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Anderson, here at the White House morale is low particularly about the handling of the Rob Porter situation with the White House so fiercely, coming to his defense in the wake of these domestic abuse allegations.
In fact, you heard today a rare admission from the White House saying that this could have been handled better. And there are still a lot of outstanding questions here tonight about what John Kelly, the Chief of Staff, knew and when today the White House said that he was not fully aware until yesterday.
But then when pressed on that, Raj Shah, the Deputy Press Secretary said he didn't know about the picture of Rob Porter's ex-wife where she had a black eye. But before that, as you well know, there were on the record allegations from two of Rob Porter ex-wives that they were physically and verbally abused by him. And before that, sources are telling us tonight, Anderson, that John Kelly, the Chief of Staff and other top White House aides knew months ago about some of these allegations. And so it raises the question why wasn't there an internal review. Why was Rob Porter able to keep his interim security clearance?
Now, the White House explains that away by saying that it was allowing law enforcement, the FBI to continue its investigation to look into these allegations. We are told that in terms of John Kelly's future here, the President is frustrated with his handling of it, he's upset about it, but that he will continue in his job that there is no consideration to let him go. And Raj Shah also said that he said he has confidence in him.
Also, interesting to point out here is that Raj Shah change the language in terms of what happened with Porter. Yesterday, they said Porter resigned and that he would be staying on for a while. Then today, Raj Shah says he was terminated yesterday and he just came in this morning to clean his desk. We should mention that Rob Porter denies all of these allegations. Anderson?
COOPER: It was fascinating though from the White House today, Raj Shah, the spokesman, who is point black -- blank as, you know, did General Kelly know about these allegations months ago. That's a yes or no question. He just kept saying, I'm not going to get into like a tick-tock. I'm not going to get into the timeline. And using the reasoning that there's somehow some sort of ongoing background check of Rob Porter which doesn't make any sense.
BROWN: Yes. And that a source close to the matter told my colleague, Jim Acosta, that Raj Shah did not go through a tick-tock because it would be too damming. So what is that tell you? And that is why, you know, it's interesting to do the comparison, Raj Shah said that the President did not know about the allegations until yesterday.
But when it came to Chief of Staff John Kelly, he only would say he wasn't fully aware until yesterday -- until recently. So that of course leads you to believe that he knew something that was going on, some of these allegations. And just to -- for context here, even though the FBI has been doing the background check for more than a year now, it seems, they interviewed the ex-wives almost a year ago. And so, it would be hard to believe that the FBI didn't flag these allegations at some level here at the White House.
COOPER: Yes. Hard to believe. Pam Brown, thanks.
And now my conversation with Jennie Willoughby about whether she thinks her ex-husband has changed his request that she give, what amounts to a false account she says of what happened just over the last several days. And the fear she has for his current romantic interest, Hope Hicks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:05:13] COOPER: I wanted to ask you about a couple of things the White House has said and about what they've done or have not done. Chief of Staff John Kelly said Porter is, "A man of true integrity and honor." That's what he said earlier yesterday. They now say they only became fully aware of the allegations yesterday and then when asked today about what changed between when the first statement was made and a later statement, they said it was, "The full nature of the allegations" particularly the images.
Do you think it should have taken the White House seeing images of Colbie bruised and battered to come up with a different statement?
JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, EX-WIFE OF ROB PORTER: Knowing Rob the way I do, he probably is able to even if his clearance hadn't gone through and they knew it was because of problems in his marriage, I think he was probably able to spin it in such a way that it was minimized, that was downplayed.
And I generally believe that Chief of Staff Kelly thought that it was lesser than it was and seeing those photographs, I wish that my interview would have been enough, but seeing those photographs sort of solidified that no, this is in fact an issue.
COOPER: You know, it's still not clear because the White House won't answer what General Kelly knew when he knew it and to what extent he knew about the reports, tthe allegations that both of you had made. There's this new statement out from General Kelly where he said she was shocked by the "New allegations" and there's "No place for domestic violence."
Is it important to you that somebody like General Kelly believes your story?
WILLOUGHBY: It's important to me in general that anyone who's coming forward with a story like that is believed up front. That it's not on the burden of proof for me or anyone else to justify those claims.
COOPER: The statement that Rob Porter issued read, "These outrageous allegations are simply false. I've been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign." Is this a coordinated smear campaign?
WILLOUGHBY: No. I had no intentions of disparaging Rob. I had been in contact with Rob a lot in the last two weeks as he gave me some warning that stories might break and knew that people might be sniffing around my blog post.
COOPER: He warned you that this might come out?
WILLOUGHBY: Yes, yes.
COOPER: Was he concerned about that?
WILLOUGHBY: Yes. He had asked me multiple times to take down my Instagram posts.
COOPER: You done a blog post where you hadn't named any names --
COOPER: -- you just talked in general about your experience.
WILLOUGHBY: Right. And I had done so with the intention of reaching people who may need to hear that message and see what it's like on the other side, you know, to have that hope. And Rob was aware of that post when it originally went out a year ago, a little less than a year ago. And again, asked me to take it down two weeks ago I think in anticipation of me being questioned about it.
COOPER: Did he ever ask you to deny?
WILLOUGHBY: No. We were in contact even a couple of days ago as he was asking me to release a statement about my blog post. And I went back and forth with him for an hour still about what language I would be comfortable with. And ultimately the language that he asked I wasn't comfortable with and he came out with that statement less than an hour later.
COOPER: Can you say what he wanted you to say?
WILLOUGHBY: I don't remember the exact wording but it was something along the lines that the post does not accurately depict my marriage. And there were some other things that were associated with it. And that just didn't feel right to me, because it does accurately depict my marriage.
And another thing that he wanted me to say was that I had taken some liberties with this therapeutic post, which it was for me that I taken liberties with that therapeutic post. And when I thought about it, I didn't. The things that I said were factual statement.
COOPER: It does sound like he was asking you to deny when you had --
WILLOUGHBY: He was asking me to downplay it.
COOPER: Right. WILLOUGHBY: And he was asking me to emphasize more the relationship that he and I have now as opposed to what I experienced in our marriage.
COOPER: Have you talked to him in the last couple of days?
WILLOUGHBY: I haven't. I haven't spoken to him since that conversation.
COOPER: The -- Rob Porter is now in a relationship with the White House Press Secretary Hope Hicks. Do you think he's changed?
WILLOUGHBY: I don't think he's changed.
COOPER: Does that worry you?
WILLOUGHBY: It worries me for a lot of reasons. I mean, it definitely worries me because if I'm being frank with you, if he hasn't already been abusive with Hope, he will.
[21:10:03] And particularly now that he's under a lot of stress and scrutiny, that's when the behaviors come out. And if he hasn't already, he will.
COOPER: You think he can't -- he has not gotten help. He can't stop at this point?
WILLOUGHBY: I don't think that he has done the self-reflective work to acknowledge this issue. I don't think that he has really taken the time to deconstruct why it is that he behaves this way and until he's able to do that, I don't know that he has control over it.
COOPER: So you're saying you're worried about Hope Hicks?
WILLOUGHBY: I am worried.
COOPER: We'll have more of the interview throughout this hour. Just in the last moments we learned of a new development from the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly tonight sending a lengthy memo to White House staffers addressing the Porter allegations, in one paragraph, he writes, "While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against the former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society." Kelly then advices staffers who are seeking counseling that resources are available at the White House.
Let's bring in our panel, Kirsten Powers, Jack Kingston, Margaret Hoover, Bakari Sellers and Jeffrey Toobin.
Kirsten, I'm wondering what you make of Jennie.
KIRSTEN POWERS, "USA TODAY" COLUMNIST: I mean that was just an incredible interview. There's just -- there's so many things. First of all, just for people to understand how hard it is for someone to come out and say all the things that she said and definitely even the fact he's still sort of pushing back against this I think it's very hard for women who have been abused to even after they're out of it to still push against somebody because often the abusers convince the women that they're kind of crazy and that they imagined it and it didn't really happen.
COOPER: That's one of the reasons the girlfriend contacted --
COOPER: -- both former wives, because she said she felt crazy, according to Jennie.
POWERS: Yes. And so, I think, you know, and that the people generally don't believe you. And if you look at -- you know, here we have this statement now saying that they take domestic abuse very seriously at the White House, but I would have to say, I don't think you do actually. Because a story came out before the picture that said that this person choked, kicked, whipped, you know, ex-wives, punched in the face before the picture came out and that wasn't -- he still had good integrity, right?
And so the assumption was I guess that the women weren't telling the truth. And then the picture came out and what it just seems like to me, is that they even work with a P.R. problem, right? It's a problem that it came out and then you have this picture and it's just too much to overcome. But it's not the immediate reaction of oh, my gosh, this, you know, this happened and we have all this reporting showing that they actually knew about it before the story came out of course.
COOPER: It's also seem, Margaret, that, you know, one of things that Rob Porter has said as well, I took that photograph of my then first wife and then now she come out and said, well, yes, he did actually take the photograph because I forced him to as an act of contrition to show what he had done.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think what you see here is also what, you know, the White House is acknowledging and what we also heard Jennifer Willoughby say to you is that, he's an extremely effective manipulator, right?
And so he was able to -- so I mean, and people who are often in these positions, right, are able to carry one face to the world and then have a really sort of secretive, dark side of their personality that nobody else sees and keep that sort of bottled in. And so the victims, even though she doesn't call herself a victim, sort of experiences thing and then they do think they're crazy because of the intensive -- he's a Harvard trained lawyer and then he is -- uses rhetoric and language incredibly effectively against these women sadly and probably against his superiors and against the other people that he's worked for, including Senator Hatch, including John Kelly.
And so you sense that there is a high level of frustration at the White House because they went to him and probably asked him and he probably minimized this in a way that was believable in enough key moments that, of course, the responsibility lies on them. But you have to understand that you're dealing with somebody who has deep psychological problems and is going to do anything they can to avoid being held responsible.
COOPER: Jack, you know, the White House today said that, you know, they could have handled things better essentially, but they were talking about just in the last couple of days, not in the last couple of months. I mean, it does, you know, point blank if they're ask did General Kelly know about these allegations months ago, as has been reported by us and multiple other sources, they just point blank refused --
JACK KINGSTON, (R) FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: And then I think that is a key question. How much did you know? When did you know? Or who else did you know? There's a manufacturing truism that you have one person in charge of quality control then you have quality control. If you have five people in charge then you do not have quality control because everybody thinks the other four people are doing it.
And I think that could be part of the problem here that there was this assumption that somebody had looked at his background and thoroughly vetted it. That would be my only explanation that somebody would rely on somebody else.
[21:15:01] And because of his charming nature, because he was a con man, because he could manipulate, I think that he was able to maybe gloss over things. He was given the benefit of the doubt. But it goes to show that when it comes to personnel, you have to have one person who looks at everybody's background, does all the background checks and says, yes, this one has a thorough one.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Jack, what if all five didn't give a damn one way or another?
KINGSTON: It doesn't work. That's, you know, my point I mean, you try to have one person --
TOOBIN: I mean, you know --
TOOBIN: You know, Dahlia Lithwick wrote a really brilliant piece today in Slate where she says, you know, one of the things that -- in domestic violence, women are always told we have to come forward. You know, you have to tell your story. Well, they did tell their story. They told their story to the FBI. They told their story to the White House. They told their story to the Mormon Church and nothing happened. Nothing happened.
And the only time it mattered is when they told their story to the "Daily Mail" and the Intercept. And the White House was embarrassed by their egregious behavior here.
So, the idea that -- you know, maybe there was someone at the -- no one in the government gave a damn. I mean, no one care. That wasn't likely, you know, one person or five people, no one care.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But to take you back on what Jeffrey is saying is that the White House treats this like they treat everything else. They treat it as a P.R. problem.
You know, just six weeks ago, we were sitting here talking about the excommunication of Stephen Bannon and "Five and Fury". And then last week it, was the memo and then we had the $100,000, $130,000 for the stripper and they have the porn star, excuse me. And they have treated all of these like P.R. disaster and nightmares when in all actuality they have a cultural problem in the White House. And I think that's what we have to begin to talk about.
And yes, John Kelly doesn't care, or to quote Jeffrey Toobin, doesn't give a damn. The White House doesn't care because you had these women. There were blog posts up. There were public posts up. The FBI knew. And you have one job. You are literally, it's your job title, you are the Chief of Staff and you still do not know that someone who delivers the most important documents in the country to the president of the United States every single day is a horrible human being that puts his hands on women.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this discussion. There are also more late developments report from the White House on this. We'll bring them to you and continue the conversation.
Also tonight, the latest on the budget showdown, whether we're heading for another government shutdown ahead.
[21:20:09] COOPER: As we continue to focus on Jennie Willoughby's remarkable account of abuse she said she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband Rob Porter. We continue to see more developments at the White House where they spend the day basically muddying the waters. And just in the last few moments, there's yet another development. Let's go back to CNN's Pam Brown.
Pam, what's happening?
BROWN: Well, Anderson, we've learned that the ex-girlfriend of Rob Porter called White House counsel Don McGahn in recent weeks to inform him of some of the abuse allegations against Robert Porter.
Now, we hear that information went and how high up is unclear. But the source I spoke with said clearly it wasn't handled properly. Clearly, it didn't go up high enough because he continued to work here and the White House continued to come to his defense once his allegations came out in the public.
The source I spoke with said that morale has been low in the White House today just given all that that has unfolded and the fact that John Kelly, the Chief of Staff and other senior White House aides, the revelations they knew about, at least, part of these allegations. Months ago, the fact that White House counsel was made aware or received a phone call from the ex-girlfriend alleging that Robert Porter was physically abusive and verbally abusive, and then the fact that the White House stood by him publicly for 24 hours, at least, before John Kelly put out the statement acknowledging the domestic abuse has really impacted the morale here at the White House.
One source I spoke with called it communication malpractice the way that it has been handled. Anderson.
COOPER: We should also point out, I believe that girlfriend is also the one who reached out to Jennie Willoughby and also to Rob Porter's first wife and talked to them about -- so, it goes to reason that she was informing them not only about what happened to her but also about what the two ex-wives had also been through.
COOPER: So it does sort of underscore just the way the White House was just not being honest today or just dancing around the truth and trying to cover up the fact that this information had been there for a while, you know, using the terms, well, we didn't know about it fully. You know, that John Kelly -- he only knew about it fully over the last, you know, 24 hours or so.
BROW: And I can tell you from speaking to several White House officials who say that Rob Porter in recent weeks, they knew this Daily Mail article was going to come out. There was stuff swirling around the West Wing about this and Rob Porter was going around, according to these sources speaking to myself and other colleagues, saying that his ex-girlfriend kind of downplaying the ex-girlfriend saying that she's just upset because he was dating Hope Hicks, the communications director. So this was her way of getting vengeance.
So these people -- some of these people we spoke with felt like they were mislead. But clearly, Anderson, enough people knew in this White House early on to have been able to potentially do something and that did not happen.
I also want to say from a separate official I spoke with, in terms of the White House admitting today that it could have done a better job, the President was watching the press briefing because it was the deputy press secretary's debut at the podium. And I'm told by the source familiar with his thinking when watching it that the President was not happy, not too happy that Raj Shah admitted that the White House could have handled it better.
COOPER: Of course.
BROWN: Even though personally, I'm told that the President was not happy with the way it was handled and the negative coverage about the aide that sort of took away from everything else the White House everything was doing. Even though he wasn't happy with the way it was handled, he was upset that the White House admitted that it could have been handled better, Anderson.
COOPER: Right. Admit a natural human weakness, that's not something this White House does. Pam Brown, thanks very much. We're now from my conversation with Jennie Willoughby. Here's what she told me about what her ex-husband wanted to know about her interview with the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did he know the FBI talked to you and was he concern about that a little?
WILLOUGHBY: Yes. So, he -- because we were in contact, he had actually let me know that the FBI was going to be contacting me and got the information so that they could. And then --
COOPER: Just standard procedure?
WILLOUGHBY: Yes, yes. And leading up to the interview and he asked me what I intended to say and what types of things I would say about him. And I was honest with him about what I planned to say. And after the FBI interview, he wanted to know the same things, what types of things are they asking, what types of things did I say. And so Rob was aware of what I had shared with the FBI.
COOPER: Was he concerned about what his first wife had said?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. It's so interesting, you know, to hear Pam's reporting that the President is unhappy that Raj Shah dared to admit, you know, that it could have been handled better. And Raj Shah was only talking about it could have been handled better over the last couple of days. He wasn't even talking about the months before.
[21:25:02] POWERS: Yes. And Raj didn't get the memo that they never make mistakes at the White House.
I just think that -- I would like to just let us stop, please, with this idea that nobody at the White House knew what was going on. And, you know, I think that the reporting has worn it out that there was ample reason to believe that they did know what was going on. But a bare minimum when the story broke, their reaction was to basically talk about the integrity of the person who has been accused.
So, we know, once the story broke about a man punching, kicking, choking his ex's, the reaction was to say he's man of integrity. We know that. So, we don't need to argue anymore about the idea that they didn't know what was going on, and they care a lot about domestic violence.
And then even in the next statement that was made, General Kelly said he stood by his earlier statements about the integrity of this person. And I'm sorry, but, you know, I don't think that anyone is rotten to the core. I think everybody has good qualities and bad qualities. But this is not somebody who had shown a lot of integrity in terms of taking responsibility for what he's done. And by Pam's account, we just heard has mislead people that he works with. That's not a man of integrity.
KINGSTON: I was re-reading Raj Shah's statement today, and it almost sounds like it was sort of half investigated. You know, OK, we know this is out there. What do you have to say? And he charmed his way back into the good graces. He used the argument that this was many years ago. I would never tell you it's thorough. I would never --
COOPER: You mean, the FBI is bias and The Trump administration then maybe you believe background checks which are made by, you know, FBI agents.
KINGSTON: Yes, and I'm not defending it. I'm saying it looks like they kind of felt like they had addressed it. And obviously they did not.
COOPER: Raj Shah, I mean, they keep saying, I know, this ongoing investigation.
COOPER: As if that information was being held in a locked cupboard until the ongoing investigation is finish and then they would have a big reveal to General Kelly. It just doesn't work that way.
HOOVER: Here is the part that's most troubling to me as somebody who works in the White House where the staff secretary was a hugely important person. All the information, all the top secret security, security compartmentalize the information, the highest level of clearance that anybody can have. You had to have in the Bush White House, before you could begin handling these papers.
The idea that this individual was seeing all the information, these, most sensitive security information in this country without having this degree of clearance while having major, by the way, not just moral failings, this is a national security concern because an individual like that is ripe to be able to take advantage off, to be able to be compromised, to be able to be blackmailed by any level of forces they have far, you know, that want to undermine the security of this country.
And so, forget the drama of like, is he a bad guy, I mean, we all know al that, that's really bad. But what's even worst is that this is critically dangerous for the security of this country.
SELLERS: To be extremely clear though, this White House is a mess. This White House culturally is a mess. You talked about security clearances, Jared Kushner is still running around negotiating peace --
HOOVER: Without a security clearance.
SELLERS: -- without a security clearance.
HOOVER: That's right.
SELLERS: So, I mean, this White House is a complete mess. But these all lives -- COOPER: Is that a sign of how much of a mess it is? That they got to
hold on to a guy who is a domestic abuser? Is that like a rational?
SELLERS: But in everything that we're hearing, Anderson, the trouble that I'm having is something like go back too often because they don't care that he was a domestic abuser. They care that they're not fighting back well on the P.R front. They don't care that they hired someone who has moral failings or could be blackmailed. They literally care that we're talking about it on CNN right now. The phrase we both look at each other.
TOOBIN: Communication malpractice, as Pam's report. This wasn't communication malpractice. This was substantive malpractice.
TOOBIN: This was letting a domestic violence repeat abuser in this job for months and months. It's not communications problem.
COOPER: We're going to hear more from the panel a minute. But first more on what Margaret was just talking about, Rob Porter's security clearance. CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us.
Can you just explain to us what it means that Rob Porter had only a temporary clearance from the White House? And how would he have gotten the temporary clearance? Because then, it must mean they knew he couldn't get an actual clearance.
JIN SCUITTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely yes. I spoke to former senior intelligence officials who served both Republican and Democratic administrations, they said it is very unusual for someone at this level of a position to be acting on an interim security clearance for so long and precisely because of the nature of the position he had. He's the secretary and in fact someone controlling the information flow to the President. And that information flow includes an enormous amount of highly sensitive, highly classified information.
We heard Raj Shah today during the White House press briefing say, this would not be an issue unless there was an issue for national security. But to Margaret's point, this is clearly an issue of national security because the background clearances are not just about whether you're a citizen with good character.
[21:30:06] They are whether you have risks in your background that could open you up to risk of blackmail. This would be one of those things.
So, you know, very relevant to the security clearance and now we know why that security clearance was held up.
COOPER: And to be clear, that means that someone in the White House likely had to review the information from the FBI and then actively decide to approve the temporary clearance any way. Right? SCUITTO: Absolutely, 100 percent. The FBI made that clear today. They released a statement saying, at least, we do the background checks then we pass on that information to the White House and it is up to the White House or whatever agency they're doing the background check. It's up to that agency, the White House in this case to make the judgment about the security clearance.
Interesting again, hearing Raj Shah today, he made recounted this 25 references to the background clearance process. So just have a listen to him as he was making his argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PIRNCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The background investigation process, the tried and true process, and the security clearance process, we relied on a process. This is process, the process was still ongoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCUITTO: The decider in that process is the White House. The FBI does the background check but the White House has to make the decision. So the process is the administration's process here. So that attempt to kind of throw it off on someone else really just doesn't stand up to the fact.
COOPER: Yes. Jim Scuitto, thanks very much.
Coming up, will the government actually shutdown again? Has Republican Senator Rand Paul managed to derail a compromise between Republicans and Democrats? That's ahead.
COOPER: The United States Senate is grappling right now with the possibility of another government shutdown. Yes, again, it turns out it could be a very, very long night. CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now from Capitol Hill.
So what's happening on the floor now?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, people are waiting, Anderson. And basically acknowledging at this point aides on both sides, in both chambers are basically saying there will be a government shutdown tonight.
And the issue in the Senate, Anderson, is not about support for the bill. The support for the bill to move forward is actually there. Instead it's about Senate procedure and one senator who has made very clear he's not going to agree to any type of time agreements to speed this process up.
[21:34:59]Senator Rand Paul, Anderson, making very clear that he wants an amendment to this bill. An amendment that would basically restore the same budget cast that the bill is trying to do away with. He is not getting that amendment and Senate leaders have made very clear they are not going to give it to him at any point.
The reason why is, when I talked to aides is basically this. They know if they give one amendment to one senator, other senators will want them as well. And that will essentially unravel the deal. So, they have agreed to basically hold the deal as is. And that means people are waiting at this point in time, Anderson, the vote scheduled for about 1:00 a.m. you're right, it's going to be a long night.
COOPER: So, where does it go from here? I mean, can this going to be short live?
MATTINGLY: It looks like in the short lived for an indication of where people think things are right now. House Republican law makers were just sent a notice to expect their vote on erudition of the bill sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. That's how long this is expected to last
But, again, there's a real open question hat goes beyond what's happening in the Senate floor right now, Anderson. It's House Democrats. They still have not committed the requisite number of votes to Republicans to ensure the Republicans have the votes to get this done.
The issue has been has been about immigration. It is been about DACA. It's been about minding some kind of resolution on that, Anderson. And until Speaker Ryan commits to a similar process, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has in the House, a process where there's no thumb on the scales, everything is created equally. Democrats have not committed to giving him those votes.
In fact, Anderson, I was told that this morning leader Nancy Pelosi who acknowledges Democrats are going to have come on board and get this across the finish line, who acknowledges her staff help negotiate this deal was integral to actually getting into this point. Told her colleagues, do not telegraph where your votes are on this. We need to maintain leverage throughout the day.
And, Anderson, I can tell you, that has been frustrating House Republicans just don't know yet where they actually are and where those votes went up, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, appreciate that. We're going to talk to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders about all this and where he us and how he is going to vote when we continue.
[21:40:01] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. As you just heard, people on Capitol Hill now say there will be indeed a government shutdown perhaps a short one but it shutdown all the same. The reason, objections from Republican Senator Rand Paul. Senator Bernie Sanders is another key player in the Senate budget drama. I spoke with him earlier this evening just before Senator Rand Paul took the floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Senator Sanders, how are you planning to vote on this budget deal?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Anderson, the irony as I spent a lot of time on this bill, worked very hard and there is a lot of very, very important stuff in this bill for the American people. We have doubled the amount of money for child care. We are making progress in funding the social security administration. We're dealing with the serious problem of student debt. We're dealing with rural infrastructure crisis, but at the end of the day, I'm going to be voting against this legislation for two reasons.
The first is that when we are now spending more money on the military than the next 12 nations combined and when study after study shows that there has been enormous amount of waste in the Pentagon. They have not been able to do an audit. The only agent of government not to do an audit, I think it is wrong to increase military spending by $165 billion over two years.
And the second issue that concerns me very much, as it does the American people, is that in a several weeks some 800,000 young people who have lived virtually their entire lives in this country, who are going to school, who are working or in the military, they are going to lose their legal status and be subjected to the possibility of deportation. And this would be a moral outrage.
So, for those two reasons reluctantly, I'm going to be voting against a bill which provides a whole lot of support for working families in this country.
COOPER: Yes. Is it fair to say you would not vote for anything that does not include a permanent solution for DACA recipients?
SANDERS: I think, again, if someone who work really hard trying to make this bill something that will positively impact the lives of millions of working families, I think we have a moral crisis in this country right now that has to be dealt with. Eighty percent of the American people in poll after poll say that we cannot turn our backs on these young people and leave them subject to deportation. So this is something I feel very strongly about. And I will do my best in the coming weeks to make sure that in fact we do protect them.
COOPER: Would you be willing to, you know, the administration has asked for some $25 billion for the essential for border wall and more board security. Is that something you would agree to in order to get a deal on DACA?
SANDERS: You know, between you and me, I think the idea of spending billions of dollars on a wall is totally crazy. But, you know, I think my major goal right now is to protect these DREAMers. There will be negotiations.
And what I'm very happy to say, and I want the American to know this, is that in the House right now, it is my strong understanding there a majority of members in a bipartisan way, mostly Democrats but some Republicans who are prepared to support strong DREAMers legislation. I know that there's a strong majority in the Senate. The question is, can we get 60 votes?
So right now we are working hard to pass strong DREAMers legislation. There will be negotiations. I am sure that if we can pass something there will be aspects of that legislation that I will not be happy about. But my main concern now is to not turn our backs on these DREAMers.
COOPER: How much leverage or what leverage do Democrats actually have when it comes to DACA? Because, I mean there's only been the promise from Majority Leader McConnell that an immigration debate would be taken up in the Senate on the House side. I mean, you talked about some Republicans on the House side but, you know, there's no promise from Speaker Ryan at this point.
SANDERS: You're right. There is no promise. And I think what Speaker Ryan has got to do is allow democracy to prevail in the House. And the majority of the people in that body want to pass DREAMers legislation, they should be allowed to have the vote and it is really wrong of Ryan to prevent that vote. Now here in the Senate, we do have a majority. And I think McConnell is going to play a trick and allow different amendments to come up. And we are working very, very hard right now.
COOPER: I want to ask you about the House Intelligence Committee Democratic memo, do you believe the White House is going to release it?
SANDERS: All I can tell you is what I read in the papers and I'm told that they will. That I think a lot of what Republicans recently have been trying to do is kind of a muddy of the waters divert attention away from the Mueller investigation. You know, I find it ironic of that Mueller was appointed head of the FBI by George W. Bush, reappointed by Obama, has always had in this investigation strong bipartisan for what let the man do his job. That's about all that I can say on that.
[21:45:05] COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, appreciate your time. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break.
Up next, it's back to reality TV for Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the former White House aide, who got her star on "The Apprentice". She's now on Celebrity Big Brother. Yes, she's a celebrity, I guess, dishing White House dirt with TV personality Ross Matthews. Yes, this is happening.
COOPER: Oh, yes, she started in reality television with Donald Trump and she's back in reality television. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman is now on Celebrity Big Brother, living in a house with Rudy from the Cosby Show, the guy from that (INAUDIBLE), some UFC fighter and some other celebrities.
In a quiet moment with another contestant, TV personally Ross Matthews says -- I know him, he's very nice, Omarosa said going to the White House was a call to duty and she was serving her country and not Donald Trump and said it was all basically pretty bad. And yes, this is real life or at least reality television. We now show you a clip when they're all whispering on Celebrity Big Brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Like I was haunted by tweets every single day. Like what is he going to tweet next? Does anybody say to him, what are you doing? I mean I tried to be that person and then all of the people around him attacked me. It was like keep her away. Don't give her access. Don't let her talk to him, they say. Like I said, Jared is there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:50:05] COOPER: If I whisper into the microphone, nobody can hear me.
Kirsten, what you think about this? That's crazy. What's going on? That's crazy.
KINGSTON: It's a "Saturday Night Live" skit. They don't need to change a bit.
POWERS: And who could have predicted this would happen?
HOOVER: So shocking. I know, it's like --
SELLERS: I'm mad though. I'm mad. Because it's black history month and we're talking about black day in and day out and we're sitting here talking about Omarosa. And I don't know what Omarosa is good at or qualified to do. I just -- I think that --
COOPER: What's the game though to be, you know, to work in the White House and then, you know, I guess betray everybody you worked in the White House with to go on the show and, like, speak ill of the person who gave you this job?
TOOBIN: It doesn't count as betrayal if you're whispering.
KINGSTON: She is risking her brand.
(CROSSTALK) SELLERS: I too -- I was going to say something to Omarosa's credit but I don't have anything. But I will say is that, this is indicative of this White House because you saw the Deputy Press Secretary go out there today and he quit working in the White House to "The Apprentice" and said, we fired her three times and now we had to fire her again.
And I guess the people who were this close to the President, were they in-depth is now Celebrity Big Brother whispering in the darkness talking about international secrets.
HOOVER: Only the best people. We only hire the best people.
COOPER: But it's also interesting -- I mean, she is portraying herself, she went on to say to Ross that, you know, she tried to stop the President from his tweets.
HOOVER: OK. All right.
COOPER: But then the people around, you know, got against her.
COOPER: It's like she is suddenly now the central figure in the White House. Yes?
HOOVER: So if you believe any of the reporting and by -- actually all of the reporting, she was one of the worst culprits of individuals who would walk right in, had walk-in privileges, walk into the President, hand him an outrageous story from Breitbart and actually fuel the tweeting that she is supposedly living and hiding from.
And then the other piece is she's actually sort of right. They ultimately did kind of gang up on her. John Kelly came in and fired her. I mean she was isolated because she was a disruptive and really sort of polarizing figure that really didn't do much other than serve herself and whined up the President.
TOOBIN: I don't mean to distract from the solemnity of the occasion --
TOOBIN: -- talking about the Big Brother, but, you know, it is true that Omarosa was the only high ranking African-American in the entire Trump White House.
SELLERS: Oh, I got a question. What was her job?
TOOBIN: Public --
SELLERS: See? She was so high ranking.
TOOBIN: Well, but --
HOOVER: But she wasn't serving the President.
TOOBIN: But, I mean, I know --
POWERS: She actually has the highest --
TOOBIN: But it does matter that there -- you know, no African- Americans who work at high levels in the White House. I mean, you know, the United States is not --
COOPER: We've got Ben Carson.
TOOBIN: No, I mean in the White House. He's a Cabinet member.
KINGSTON: Jeron Smith, he's in the Economic Council.
TOOBIN: He's in the Economic Council.
KINGSTON: Jeron can't --
SELLERS: Jeron is brilliant, by the way.
KINGSTON: Yes. He's a --
SELLERS: -- in the White House and I hope they promote him and they give more duties.
SELLERS: But he actually is raising a legitimate point here that, one, we don't know if Omarosa was qualified to do her job. We highly doubt that because we don't know what the qualifications for her job were. That's important.
SELLERS: We don't know the metrics by which she was measured because we don't know --
SELLERS: -- we don't know what she did every day. We don't know if she showed up. We don't know what her job title encompassed.
COOPER: She did allow "The Daily Beast" to follow her around for a brief time which was fascinating because she basically just wandered into offices and then at certain point maybe realized it wasn't wise to have a reporter follow her around and canceled the rest.
SELLERS: -- other qualified African-American from working in the White House. We do know that to be a fact. There are a lot of people who were applying for jobs and who -- because she was the sole black person in there, where they were like, here's the application, if you look at them. And she kept a lot of qualified good people from working in that White House. That is a fact.
COOPER: I got 90 seconds more so --
SELLERS: We don't have --
POWERS: Well, I mean, just to talk about what she was saying though, I mean she's acting like she's there to save, you know, America from Donald Trump.
POWERS: And she was begging to stay. I mean, she, you know, she wasn't --
COOPER: It's clearly -- she's hoping for a book deal. I mean, that would -- because that was her first interview coming off of the job into meeting, you know, racism or something going on. And, you know, I mean that's the next step. The next step is a book deal, right?
HOOVER: No publisher. Do not give her a deal. This woman --
HOOVER: She says Charlottesville. I mean she's the only African- American woman there and she stays through Charlottesville totally supportive of not saying anything, where is her moral courage now? Like just get -- like don't buy it. Don't buy the book, guys. Don't buy it.
KINGSTON: But did you get a gig for reality show?
SELLERS: I've been on a reality TV show, by the way.
[21:55:00] SELLERS: It's not all bad. That was on "Love Thy Sister".
KINGSTON: Who is the member of the Congress who is on a reality show?
KINGSTON: You got it. All right. You answered it too quickly.
COOPER: All right. We've just have fallen apart. More news ahead, we'll be right back.
COOPER: A quick programming note involving our friend Jeffrey Toobin, who's the author of "American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst", which Jeff, read it. It's an excellent book.
TOOBIN: Thank you. COOPER: Jeff is an executive producer of a new CNN original series about the case. It debuts this weekend. I'm very excited.
TOOBIN: It's -- and you know what, in my unbiased opinion, it's really good.
TOOBIN: Well, it's full of like archival footage.
COOPER: There's so much amazing video from that --
TOOBIN: It's incredible and interviews with people who have never talked about the case on camera, including the person who actually kidnapped Patty Hearst and pulled her out of the house in Berkeley. And it's still a mystery to a lot of people about what side she was really on.
COOPER: Yes, fascinating.
Be sure to tune in for "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst", Sunday, 9:00 p.m. here on CNN.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: And this is "CNN TONIGHT". I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
The breaking news, the federal government on the verge of shutting down again at midnight.