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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Source: Trump Wants Top Secret Clearance for His Children; Source: "Knife Fight" as Trump Builds National Security Cabinet; Obama on Trump: "This Office Has a Way of Waking You Up"; Supreme Court Changes; Trump on Business: "My Kids Will Run It"; Journalist Gwen Ifill Dead at 61. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 14, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:01:37] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us on this second hour of "360".
Topping the hour, the kids are all right, or are they? Should Donald Trump's grown children and his son-in-law be given top-secret security clearances? That, apparently, will be the question for intelligence officials, because we've just learned the President-elect wants them cleared. Jim Acosta broke the story. He joins us now from outside Trump Tower in New York.
So these security clearances, I mean, how unprecedented is this?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, it's something, Anderson, we haven't seen in a very long time. President Obama's two young children were not in position to receive these types of security clearances.
And what we do understand at this point is that the Trump transition is looking into this, although we should point out, Anderson, one Trump transition source is pushing back on this somewhat saying that Donald Trump has not made the official ask for his children to have these top-secret security clearances.
But it would not be unusual given how these adult children of Donald Trump have been close advisers throughout this entire campaign, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, might not be in line anymore to be White House chief of staff, although that was one of those rumblings out there prior to Reince Priebus getting that position. But Jared Kushner is going to be a very critical informal adviser to the future president. And so, it's not out of the ordinary that Jared Kushner would have this kind of information.
Now, obviously, questions are going to be raised and they've already been raised, because Donald Trump's adult children are going to have some very important positions running his business empire. The questions are going to be raised up on Capitol Hill, of course, whether or not there might be some potential conflicts of interest between being in charge of that business empire and having that kind of national security clearances, Anderson. All of this getting sorted out.
But at this point, I talked to a key transition source earlier this evening who says, yes, the transition is looking to this at this moment. Anderson?
COOPER: Right, because in past years, a president would put businesses or investments in a blind trust run by somebody else. Donald Trump isn't planning to do that. He's planning to have the three grown kids running his business empire. The idea that they would also be advising him on national security, that does raise a whole host of other issues. Can you explain just the details of a top-secret -- assuming it's a top-secret clearance, what kind of access it gives you?
ACOSTA: Well, you know, what I think we should point out, though, is that I don't think the adult children, perhaps, say, Jared Kushner, who would be a very important adviser inside this White House, would have access to the kind of operational security information that you would have inside The Situation Room, inside the White House, for example.
And so, the way it's been explained to me, Anderson, is that if these adult children of Donald Trump are in a situation were perhaps some kind of sensitive material might be useful to them as part of their advising capacity with Donald Trump, their father, being president of the United States, then perhaps that information might get passed along to them. But I don't think we're talking about, you know, the kind of very sensitive information that would be handled at the top national security levels, you know, locations for, you know, counterterrorism operations and that sort of thing.
But, Anderson, it sounds like from what we're hearing from our sources inside the transition, this is at the very beginning stage of this process. Not anywhere near the end. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Let's see where it goes. Jim Acosta, thanks.
The breaking news comes against a backdrop of controversy over one of Donald Trump's top White House appointments, not Reince Priebus, who gets the nod for chief of staff, for talking so as Washington about the man who's being build as Preibus's co-equal and perhaps Trump's closest political adviser. More on that from our Sara Murray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:05:10] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Donald Trump is already sparking outrage as he builds a White House team with an alt- right edge.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our work on this movement is now really just beginning.
MURRAY: The President-elect naming Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO and executive chairman of Breitbart News as his chief strategist and senior counselor and tapping Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, as his chief of staff. As Priebus argues, Trump wants to be president for all.
REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: It's really important that all Americans understand that he is a president for everyone. He wants to make everyone proud. He -- whether of your race, ethnic background, gender, anything.
MURRAY: The Bannon hire instantly grew criticism from hate watch groups, who have noted Bannon's embrace of the alt-right movement, made up of conservatives, populists, white supremacists and anti- Semites.
The Southern Poverty Law Center saying Trump should rescind this hire. The Anti-Defamation League voicing its opposition to Bannon, because he and his alt-right are so hostile to core American values.
And House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi saying, "There must be no sugar coating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump administration."
In a move that could further fuel concerns, Alex Jones, operator of the InfoWars website, says Trump called to offer his gratitude.
ALEX JONES, INFOWARS: He said, "Listen, Alex, I just talked to the kings and queens of the world, world leaders, you name, but it doesn't matter, I wanted to talk to you, to thank your audience, and I'll be on the next few weeks to thank them."
MURRAY: Jones' site is known for pushing many conspiracy theories, including the notion that Sandy Hook, the shooting that left 20 children dead, was a hoax, and that 9/11 was an inside job. The moves could further emboldened people who have been harassing Jews, Latinos, and Muslims in Trump's name. Actions of bigotry that the President- elect's condemns in an interview with "60 Minutes".
TRUMP: I am so saddened to hear that and I say, "Stop it." If it helps. I will say this, and I'll say it right to the camera, "Stop it."
MURRAY: All of this as Trump begins to flesh out his presidential priorities, saying, he'll focus on deporting 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants, who he says have criminal records. But offering little clarity for the millions of other immigrants here illegally.
TRUMP: After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you're talking about who are terrific people.
MURRAY: Trump also giving little inclination he plans to take up a fight against gay marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling.
TRUMP: It's irrelevant because it was already settled. It's law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it's done.
MURRAY: But suggesting he could still try to curtail abortion rights by appointing justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and leaving further decisions to the states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Sara joins us now. What are your sources telling you about a meeting tomorrow between President-elect Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence?
MURRAY: Well, we're expecting the two of them to meet tomorrow in Trump Tower and really begin to pore over some of the potential names for cabinet positions.
And, Anderson, I want to run you through a couple of them, because few of them are sure to raise eyebrows. For instance, when you talk about on education, they're likely to discuss Michelle Rhee, she's the former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. Public schools.
But when you get further down the list, when you talk about Treasury secretary, for instance, we've heard Steve Mnuchin, he was a fund- raising chair for Donald Trump.
But also on this list, they're floating the notion of Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, even though a source close to him tells me that Ben Bernanke would not be interested in the job.
And when you look at Secretary of State, they are, of course, mentioning the name Rudy Giuliani. That's going to be part of the discussion tomorrow, that's what we're hearing.
But they're also mentioning name like Henry Paulson. This is someone who has been openly critical of Donald Trump, who has, in fact, said publicly that he was planning on voting for Hillary Clinton.
So, Anderson, I think the message that they're trying to get out there is that as they're looking at some of these top-level positions, they're willing to take a look at names of people who have not necessarily been Trump loyalist, although it's an open question on whether they would ultimately decide to go with anyone who was not in Donald Trump's inner circle, at least from very early on, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Sara Murray. Sara, thanks.
All presidential transitions generate their share of controversy, intrigue, and leaks. Tonight, a leak about the intrigue, specifically a battle said to be brewing over top appointments, even more specifically, what's called a "knife fight." Details from CNN's Jim Sciutto who joins us now.
So, this supposed "knife fight," who's it between and who's making these allegations?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I'll be honest, it's been described in more colorful terms not appropriate for air. But clearly, internal disagreements, sharp internal disagreements about not only key cabinet appointments, but also just general direction of this administration. And the two camps, on the one side, a more establishment Republican Party camp, and keep in mind, you have Reince Priebus, appointed as chief of staff against a more non-traditional bent, and think of Steve Bannons of the world, right, who now has this senior advisory role.
[21:10:13] And in addition to that, what I've been told is that there's real questions, there's real confusion. The word "buffoonery" was used for me for someone inside the transition, because it's not clear who's in charge. You have Reince Priebus as the chief of staff, you have Steve Bannon then you have Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, with a senior advisory role and a lot of chiefs and not many Indians in terms of making those key policy decisions. So people inside the campaign talking about that as a real problem right now.
COOPER: You'd imagine though that for at least some of Trump's supporters, they would have little patience in him picking any kind of establishment type. It certainly kind of runs counter to the whole idea of change and draining the swamp.
SCIUTTO: No question. And it's pretty interesting to watch just how quickly you've had a pullback, not only on those appointments, but also the -- you know, some of these positions. You have Donald Trump saying maybe there are parts of Obamacare that he might keep. You have Obama saying today in his press conference that when he spoke to Donald Trump, that Donald Trump said he would remain committed to the NATO alliance. Of course, during the campaign, we heard him say many times, you know, question the importance of this alliance. But pulling back from those positions and perhaps pulling back as well from a complete departure from GOP establishment here.
But the trouble is, that what you have is in effect both, Anderson, right, because you have in senior positions already, people from both camps, and that's like putting two pit bulls in the ring to some degree in terms of those disagreements. And if you're -- and if you -- you know, eventually, you're going to have to make decisions, right? Not only the policy positions, but also on those key cabinet appointments.
COOPER: Yeah, Jim Sciutto, appreciate the pointing.
President Obama is wheels up, as they say, headed for his final official trip overseas. Before leaving, he gave his first White House press conference since the election. He devoted most of it to advice for his successor. Details now from our Jeff Zeleny who joins us.
So, it certainly seems like the President tried to give the same tone today that he conveyed last week in his remarks after his meeting with President-elect Trump.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he did. It was a measured tone. It was a wait-and-see tone. It was a give him the benefit of the doubt tone. And he did not comment on any of the new hires that the President-elect has been making, particularly Stephen Bannon. He said, "Look, I am not going to inject myself in his hiring decisions." But if you listen closely to the President, so clear he is trying to walk a fine line here and not always not giving him the benefit of the doubt. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that connection that he was able to make with his supporters, that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate. That's powerful stuff.
I also think that he is coming to this office with fewer set, hard and fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with. I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately, he's pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well. As long as he's got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.
Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course I've got concerns. You know, he and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But, you know, the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat. It's an ocean liner, as I discovered when I came into office.
ZELENY: So, clearly there, the President is trying to allow him some room here. But also, Anderson, worth pointing out, other Democrats have said, "Look, they only met one time. They had a 90-minute meeting here." So the President inferring a lot of things here. Donald Trump is still surrounding himself with advisers. We're still not sure what type of President-elect or President Donald Trump will be. Anderson?
COOPER: President Obama also spoke to some of the challenges of the Oval Office.
ZELENY: He did, indeed. He said that, "Look, campaigning is one thing, governing is a totally different thing." And he speaks from personal experience there. He, too, came into the office without much executive experience. Donald Trump has executive experience, but of a different kind, of course. But he said, "Look, reality often has a way of changing once you're inside the Oval Office." So I think his overall takeaway was that governing is hard and the bottom line, change is so much harder than you think it will be. Anderson?
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks.
Coming up next, the panel joins us, talk out t battle over Steve Bannon and how the transition is unfolding so far. And later, what could a Trump Supreme Court actually look like and how much could that count -- that court reshape U.S. law?
COOPER: It's been quite a day and night of breaking news from President Obama's very, very, very carefully worded advice to Donald Trump to security clearances to intrigue over picking cabinet members. Plenty to discuss.
The panel is back with Carl Bernstein, who's no doubt be played by Warren Beatty in the next big movie about his supporting career. Also, NY1's Errol Louis, who's been reporting on Donald Trump for years, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, as well as Trump critics, Jonathan Tasini and Van Jones.
Carl, one thing -- you know, we're talking about, first of all, Steve Bannon in the last hour, I'm wondering what you make of his role in the White House. Does he supposed to be on kind of equal par with Reince Priebus, the chief of staff?
CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE: THE LIFE OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The real thing about Bannon is he's a killer that he specialized ...
COOPER: You don't mean that literally?
BERNSTEIN: No. But he's there to really go forward lies, slandery, savage the opposition. That's really what he did during the campaign. And there's a real precedent in Donald Trump's life for this. And that is his closest friend, the late Roy Cohn, who was Joseph McCarthy's young aide. And Cohn specialized in this kind of savaging of enemies, lies, slander, character assassination.
COOPER: Roy Cohn, especially once he became an attorney in New York ...
BERNSTEIN: Yes, yes.
COOPER: ... which is where Donald Trump met him ...
BERNSTEIN: But also with Joe McCarthy.
COOPER: ... was fighting back hard.
BERNSTEIN: But it was consistent with his career. And Trump loves these fights. And he came to really have great affection and respect for Bannon during this campaign. And he helped him win it. There's no question that this tactical assault that is represented by Bannon is something basic to Trump's strategy.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, Errol, I mean, he seems to be setting up a White House where he has, you know, an establishment figure in Reince Priebus as chief of staff, Bannon also having equal access to the president. So, sort of a different style, different ways of -- different MOs.
[21:20:00] ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, NY1: Creative tension. I mean, there -- he's not the first leader to do that. To sort of let people fight it out among themselves, and then come in and sort of use that as a way to have their rivalry bring out the best in them then finally make the decision.
In this particular case, though, he's got somebody who is getting so much negative feedback, who's getting -- who has disturbed so many people, in the political world, that President-elect Trump cannot afford to simply alienate or ignore, that he raises the question about, whether or not his proper place, understanding that he's going to be an aide and sort of a comrade in arms for Donald Trump, whether the right place is to have him on a government payroll or perhaps somewhere else in the political world. COOPER: Van Jones, you spoke out against Steve Bannon in our last hour, but why shouldn't Donald Trump, who won the race, why shouldn't he be able to have whatever adviser he wants with him? And clearly, when Steve Bannon came on with Kellyanne Conway, they righted the ship enough that Donald Trump got elected.
VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Look, I mean, you make a very good point. The thing about it is that you aren't just serving the president, you're serving the presidency. And it's mixed role. And so, what you want to do when you're picking that cabinet, yes, you want people who you trust, who are close to you, but you also have to be signaling to the world something about your standards and what you think is important.
At that -- listen, at that level, you got two problems. One is, you're signaling to the whole world, especially the Muslim world, that you have somebody who is a very, very offensive sort of a character, but also the way the White House is structured, everything comes up from the bottom, up to those closest people, to the White House.
So, what you're going to have is somebody who's going to be filtering an awful lot of the information coming up through the federal family. And that filter matters. And thinking of that filter matters, because the president can't talk to everybody, talks to a few people. This is a very, very big development.
COOPER: You know, but Kayleigh, I mean, just arguing Donald Trump's perspective, if I'm Donald Trump and there's a lot of folks who aren't draining the swamp and who want a different way, if you just surround yourself with establishment types, then you're just like everybody else.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Anderson, that's exactly right. And that is the biggest fear of, you know, the Trump inner circle, I think, would be that, you know, those who were ...
COOPER: Washington changes the candidate, the candidate doesn't change Washington.
MCENANY: Exactly. Those of us who supported Donald Trump supported him because he's not a politician, because he's anti-establishment. And Donald Trump sent out the most important signal to his supporters and to his voters today when he said, Steve Bannon gets this position and Reince Priebus gets this one. Because ultimately an agreement is going to come between the establishment wing of the party and the anti-establishment wing of the party. To have both is crucial.
And Bannon, you know, we ignore that his main really rallying cause is ridding government of corruption. Newt Gingrich was on today, saying that he deeply is passionate about ridding government of corruption. That is the guy who I want to have Donald Trump ...
JONATHAN TASINI, HOST, THE WORKING LIFE PODCAST: But here's the thing. It's fine to bring somebody in to rid the government of the insiders, to have a clean slate, to do what Donald Trump says he wants to about t government. But we're talking about Bannon. He's a racist. He advances anti-Semitic views. This -- it's not just about what Carl said that he's a killer, you know, maybe not literally, this man is at the spear, at the tip of an anti-Semitic racist, xenophobic movement. That is not something that we should have in the White House.
MCENANY: I think it's very irresponsible to label someone a racist without facts and without proofs of that. I think we should all be doing ...
TASINI: Look at Breitbart. Look at what he has done and what he's promoted. He was proud of it. You're trying to whitewash something that he was very proud of.
COOPER: Let her respond.
MCENANY: I think we all should look to President Obama right now who set an amazing example for this country when he said, let's give this guy a chance, let's come together, let's unite. Instead of demonizing one another, demonizing President-elect Donald Trump, demonizing his advisers, let's give him a chance.
TASINI: We can't normalize racism and anti-Semitism. We can't do that.
COOPER: OK. Carl?
BERNSTEIN: One of the most important things that's happened here is that we are watching the President of the United States undertake the education of Donald Trump. That's what happened. I've talked to people who -- in the White House and around Donald Trump who talk about how President Obama laid on Donald Trump the mantle of the seriousness and huge responsibility of the presidency and how Trump reacted to it. He was stunned.
And what we are seeing in those comments by the President is his attempt to get Trump to tone this stuff down and to try to unite the country. It's a really extraordinary and patriotic thing that our President is doing here.
BERNSTEIN: And it's very, very interesting, because it's a little bit of what George Bush did when the President -- when Obama took office. But it's hugely important.
COOPER: Van, go ahead.
JONES: Well, I just want to say a couple of things here. First of all, yes, we're supposed to give the President a chance, so this mean, we have to give him a pass on everything. And it really is, I think, a moment of truth for the country.
[21:25:01] Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had gotten elected and she had someone, you know, who was a part of her cabinet who had been or a part of her inner circle, who had been the editor of "The Revolutionary Worker", a Maoist newspaper that calls for the overthrow of the government. People would freak out and they would say, what is going on.
I was a low-level adviser and people are freaked out about stuff I said when I was in college. So you have this kind of a weird double standard. The Republicans, when Obama came in, it was all obstruction, it was delegitimate him from the very beginning, say he's not even a citizen. And the same people who led that movement are now telling us we can't ask questions about an anti-Jewish bigot being put in the inner circle of the president? It doesn't make any sense. We've got to continue to have a serious debate about the direction of our country and that includes talking about who's putting the inner circle of the president of the United States.
COOPER: All right. Kayleigh?
MCENANY: I was just going to say, no one is saying you can't ask questions, but there is a line between asking a question and labeling someone a racist, which is what Jonathan just said.
And there's a line -- hold on, let me finish. There's a line -- there is a line between asking questions and legitimatizing Donald Trump wanting to put people in interment camps, such as what you said last night, Van.
JONES: Hey, wait. Anderson?
JONES: Look, Kayleigh, we've known each other for a long time, and I've never taken your words and twisted them in any way. And I'm very -- you know, we've butted our heads, but I've never done to you what you just did to me. I'd never said, and I really hope you'll apologize to me, I never said that Donald Trump is going to put people in interment camps. What I said was that there were Muslims who had contacted me who were afraid of that. I was trying to talk about the level of fear that was existing in the Muslim community. And that level of fear has frankly gone higher, not lower.
So for you to take something that I was trying to share with you and our fellow panelists about the level of fear and make it seem like I'm being irresponsible, I think is probably (ph) unfair to me, Kayleigh.
MCENANY: Van, as political commentators, we have a duty and an obligation, Van, to correct mistruths and falsehoods. And it is a falsehood ...
JONES: And I did.
MCENANY: No, you didn't correct that. It took me correcting you, Van.
JONES: No, that's not true, Kayleigh. I'm very -- I'm disappointed in you now. Very disappointed.
MCENANY: We have an obligation to correct falsehoods. And President Barack Obama stood up there and said it's time to unite and that means getting rid of these rumors and dispelling these rumors.
TASINI: Bannon is a racist and an anti-Semite. And he's at the ...
MCENANY: That's not true.
TASINI: He's at the head of an alt-right movement that is completely anti-American, frankly, in terms of American values. You should be ashamed of yourself that you're justifying what he's about.
COOPER: All right.
MCENANY: I'm very proud of this campaign and I'm very proud ...
TASINI: I know you're proud of ...
COOPER: Let's end it there. We'll have more reporting on Bannon in the days to come, no doubt.
Just ahead, President-elect Trump plans to give his oldest kids control of his vast business empire. They're all adults, of course. While he's in the White House, the same grown kids were already serving on his transition team and could end up with top security clearances. Why that is now sparking controversy? We'll have that, ahead.
[21:31:47] COOPER: As we've said, President-elect Trump wants his three oldest children and his son-in-law to have top security clearances. They all played important roles in his campaign. Now they're part of his official transition team. At the same time, they'll hold key positions in the Trump organization or are supposed to take over the organization. In the CBS "60 Minutes" interview, Mr. Trump said his kids will continue to run his business empire while his president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've built a great company. Have some of the greatest real assets in the world, real estate assets. I don't care about it anymore. This is so important, what I'm doing. And, you know, the people believe this. This is so important what I'm doing. I don't care about I own a building in Manhattan and I have nice tenants. My kids will run it. They'll run it well.
LESLEY STAHL, CBS 60 MINUTES HOST: And never talk to you about it?
TRUMP: They won't talk to me. Now, the laws are very soft on this whole matter. I don't have to do anything. You know, I don't know if you know this, I don't have to do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is Norman Eisen, visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution and former special assistant and special council to President Obama for ethics in government reform, also, Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
Ambassador Eisen, thanks for being with us. For a president to have so many business assets, both domestically and internationally, assets that could potentially cause a conflict of interest, is this pretty much uncharted waters?
NORMAN EISEN, VISITING FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Anderson, it's completely unprecedented in modern American history. And it's perilous, because every one of these business connections poses a potential conflict when cabinet members, lower federal officials, are selected. When policy decisions are made about banks who have loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to Mr. Trump's businesses, about international matters, where Mr. Trump owes money and has business connections.
The American people are entitled to know that the decisions he makes are motivated by their best interests, by the public interests, and not by his financial interests. And that's why every president for decade -- decades has used a blind trust mechanism. And other similar tools to divest themselves of these interests, roll the interests into cash, then they're hidden by the trustee, so the president does not know what his financial interests are ...
COOPER: Right. Trevor, I mean, putting his businesses in a so-called blind trust, which he's not going to do, which the blind trust, I guess, it shouldn't be -- if it was really a blind trust, it wouldn't be run by his children, because they're clearly have daily conversations with him. He's certainly not going to cut off all contact with his kids for the next four years or eight years.
TREVOR POTTER, FORMER FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: No, I think he's clearly not going to. He's very close to them. The point is that a blind trust is a trust with a third party individual running it, someone who is at arm's length from the president, someone who has not done business with the president before or have been part of his inner circle. And that person is supposed to make decisions without ever talking to the president, the person who's the beneficiary of the trust.
[21:35:05] So, this is not a blind trust, if his children are running it, because it's not at arm's length, and because, presumably, the children are going to talk to him, perhaps a lot, even if not about specific business decisions.
COOPER: Right, and now, Ambassador, if they have a top-secret security clearance, that raises other questions, because it does make it seem like in addition to running his businesses, they may be giving him advice or at least hearing him discuss top-secret matters. EISEN: Again, it's unprecedented, Anderson. And what they're doing if the children and the children's spouses are going to get a top- secret security clearance is turning our national security apparatus into a management consulting operation for Mr. Trump's business operations. It runs in the face of the way presidents have respected the office, respected the American people, and frankly, respected the world, by taking the assets, liquidating them, letting an independent trustee manage them, and the presidents not know, actually, what the trustee is doing with that money. So we know it's conflict free when the president makes decision.
COOPER: Sure, but in terms of what the president has to do legally, I mean, there are actual regulations for members of Congress, but when it comes to the president of the United States there are -- is it correct that there's no hard and fast rules when it comes to something like this?
POTTER: That's largely correct. The president is exempt from the provisions of the Ethics in Government Act, which was passed in 1978. So that the members of his cabinet and of his staff in the executive branch have to establish blind trusts or they have to recuse themselves when they're dealing with any matters involving their holdings.
And the -- as Norman Eisen noted, previous presidents have voluntarily established blind trusts. But they haven't had anything like the business holdings of Mr. Trump does ...
POTTER: ... in an international organization, which is why it's so important, I think, that this get thought through and done right, so it doesn't boomerang on the president and his administration.
COOPER: Yeah, it's a fascinating topic. We'll continue to follow close. Normal Eisen, appreciate it, Trevor Potter as well. Thank you both.
Just ahead, what a Trump Supreme Court could look like and what it might actually do in the years ahead? We'll be right back.
[21:41:22] COOPER: In his first prime-time interview as President- Elect Donald Trump, signaled that he could be softening some of his positions on immigration. He was also clear about which issues he won't be budging on, and how it will factor into his choice of his Supreme Court justice. The interview aired on "60 Minutes". Pamela Brown breaks it down, now.
Pamela, so, you're learning more about what kind of a Supreme Court justice Trump is looking to appoint. What do you know?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. So, Donald Trump gave his first glimpse as president-elect into what he's looking for in the next Supreme Court justice, especially when it comes to two controversial issues, same-sex marriage and abortion.
And in this interview he did with "60 Minutes", he signaled that he would be open to a justice who would be open to overturning Roe v. Wade, of course, a landmark Supreme Court decision, affirming the right to abortion nationwide.
So here's what Donald Trump said about that as well as same-sex marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They'll be very much ...
STAHL: But what about overturning this law?
TRUMP: Well there are a couple of things. They'll be pro-life. They'll be, in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody's talking about the Second Amendment, and they're trying to dice it up and change it. They're going to be very pro-Second Amendment.
But, having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back ...
STAHL: Yeah, but then some women won't be able to get an abortion?
TRUMP: No, it'll go back to the states.
STAHL: By state -- no some ...
TRUMP: Yeah, well, they'll perhaps have to go, they'll have to go to another state.
STAHL: Do you support marriage equality?
TRUMP: It's irrelevant, because it was already settled. It's law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it's done.
STAHL: So even if you appoint a judge ...
TRUMP: It's done. You have -- these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They have been settled. And I'm fine with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So there you heard him saying that same-sex marriage is settled. But when it comes to abortion, we know that states continue to pass restriction on abortions.
So it's likely, Anderson, that the issue will once again make its way up to the Supreme Court, and thus any justice confirmed under a Trump presidency and it's likely that Trump can shape the court for a generation or so to come, of course, starting with the late justice, Antonin Scalia's spot that he has expected to fill soon. And we know that three justices on the bench right now are over the age of 75. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah. Pamela Brown. Pamela, thanks very much.
A lot to discuss. Joining me, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor, also, Jonathan Turley, professor of Law at George Washington University, who's written extensively about issues concerning constitutional law.
Jeff, I mean, the distinction of Donald Trump seems to be making between the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and Roe v. Wade, I mean, it's interesting he says one is settled doesn't seem like he thinks the other necessarily is.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's not really true legally. The Supreme Court just last June affirmed Roe v. Wade in very ringing terms in the case out of Texas and of course, they have approved same-sex marriage. So, as a legal matter, they're actually in very similar situations. Politically, it's very different. It's that even the conservative movement has sort of given up on same-sex marriage, whereas, abortion remains as it has remained for our entire lives, the most important issue to social conservatives. And he made promises and he's going to keep them.
COOPER: Jonathan, how realistic is it that the Supreme Court could fully overturn Roe v. Wade? I mean, it's been more than 40 years since the ruling. Forty years with a majority of conservative court and the ruling still stands.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It is possible. The president can't change the meaning of the constitution. The Supreme Court is the final say of that. But he can change the makeup of the court. And yes, the court can reverse decisions, even decisions like Roe v. Wade.
[21:45:07] I think that what most likely the advocates on that side want, instead of a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade, is to chip away on the edges, to go for limitations of duration, conditions for clinics. It's a fight along those edges, and sort of incremental cutbacks. This is an incrementalist court. They're not very keen on reversing things in sort of radical decisions. But they do, in some cases, reverse things over time. So what I would expect is that the attacks would come from the margins and test cases from these states.
TOOBIN: But he needs really one more vote. I mean, five justices and the five are still on the court. Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan all voted last term for just those, you know, to invalidate just the kind of restrictions that Jonathan is talking about. And those five are still on the court. Even if Trump replaces Scalia with a, you know, similarly conservative person, he needs one of those five to leave. Now, since three of the five are over 75 and all three will be over 80 soon, it stands to reason that he may get the chance. And then Roe and all the abortion restrictions are really -- I mean, then ...
COOPER: But in terms of a timeline for that, I mean, beyond the unnoble timeline of what justices might leave when or if they're going to leave, the actual timeline of being able to reverse something, how long does something like that take or chip away?
TOOBIN: You know, it can go pretty quickly, but, you know, the Supreme Court vacancy story of when the justices leave, that's the key variable here. It does -- nothing else really matters except the composition of the court. We now have at least four years of a Trump presidency. We have three very elderly justices who are Roe v. Wade supporters. Their tenure on the court is the most important question about Roe v. Wade.
COOPER: Jonathan, you agree with that?
TURLEY: Yeah, I think that's true. I think that whatever else is said about the legacy of the Trump administration, he is at this point in an almost unique position, he could easily appoint four new justices to the court. And those justices would include potentially a replacement for Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer. Those are the core of support for things like Roe v. Wade.
So he could have a transformative effect on the court in all of these cases for generation, but as Jeff correctly said, he does have to pick up another vote. But it just turns out that the three oldest justices are the core of support for things like Roe v. Wade. And there's also a myriad of other decisions that are held in a 5-4 balance. All of those could fall like dominos if he was to replace one of those three justices.
TOOBIN: And this is why there is a lot of liberal resentment of Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, as much as they are admired figures on the left, that why they didn't leave, you know, at an already advanced age when President Obama was in office, and certainly, especially, when President Obama had a Democratic majority in the Senate.
COOPER: Although, how good -- I mean, is the track record of presidents and those who were selecting justices at predicting how the justice is going to rule?
TOOBIN: It's excellent. You know, one of the myths is the surprise president. You know, and that dates largely from Dwight Eisenhower who was surprised by how Earl Warren and William Branham turned out to be liberals. But you know what the Eisenhower administration was? It was a long time ago. And, yes, you could argue that David Souter, Harry Blackmun, Anthony Kennedy are somewhat surprising in small ways. But if you look at the eight justices remaining on the court, all were as predicted and I'm sure Donald Trump's people will do a very good scrub on their person to make sure there are no surprises.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Professor Turley, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
TURLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, it's not just Donald Trump's oldest children who he turns to for advice, there's also his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump's husband. We'll look at how he could become one of the most influential people in the Trump White House. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[21:52:20] COOPER: Our breaking news tonight, a source telling our Jim Acosta that Donald Trump wants top-secret security clearances for his oldest children. And that's not all, he also wants it for his son-in-law who played an important role in getting him elected and expected to hold a powerful role in the Trump White House. Brian Todd tonight reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, thank you very much President Obama.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office with President Obama, one man in the room seemed like an obscure junior staffer, unobtrusively snapping pictures in the back with his smart phone. He was later seen walking on the White House grounds with Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Dennis McDonagh. Now, the same man appears on track to become one of the most influential people in the Trump White House, maybe without a title.
The incoming chief of staff's spoke about him on NBC's Today Show.
PRIEBUS: I think Jared Kushner obviously his son-in-law is going to be very involved in decision making.
TODD: Jared Kushner, Trump's 35-year-old son-in-law, married for seven years to Trump's daughter Ivanka, is considered shy and avoids the spotlight.
TRUMP: And he's very good at politics.
TODD: But in the Trump White House, he's power will likely be considerable.
LIZZIE WIDDICOMBE, WROTE PROFILE OF KUSHNER FOR THE NEW YORKER: I think it will be similar to the role he played in the campaign, which is informal, and behind the scenes and yet massively influential. I think he's seen as kind of a conduit to Donald Trump and a major decision making player.
TODD: Kushner is a wealthy real estate developer and publisher who took over the successful real estate firm his father founded.
GABRIEL SHERMAN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Jared Kushner has ties to Wall Street investors, the Jewish community and New York City and also the media community.
TODD: He bought the "New York Observer" newspaper when he was 25, and once tried to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. He didn't have a formal title in the Trump campaign, but campaign sources say he was among the candidate's most trusted advisers.
One source telling CNN, Kushner was intimately involved in the decision to fire campaign Corey Lewandowski last summer, said to be intensely loyal. Jared Kushner once pushed back against his own newspaper which accused Trump of being anti-Semitic.
Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, wrote that Trump, "Embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife."
TRUMP: I have a son-in-law who is Jewish. Jared is a great guy. My daughter is Jewish. I have grandchildren that are Jewish. OK. And I love them. I love them.
TODD: Expert say Jared Kushner could avoid breaking a law against a president hiring a relative if he doesn't take a salary or a formal title, but he have another conflict.
KENNETH GROSS, FORMER ELECTION COMMISSION ATTORNEY: They have to be careful that he doesn't become a conduit of information because he is going to have information about what the administration is doing. And if he talks to his wife about what the business is doing, there is a conflating of the business and official interest. And that's something I think they're trying to keep separate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:55:12] TODD: Will Jared Kushner be able to avoid talking to his wife about the administration's dealing which might affect the family business? We did not get an answer back from the transition team on that. Jared Kushner did not comment for our story.
A transition team's spokeswoman told us there have been no decisions regarding Jared Kushner's future with the administration, but they are hopeful that he will continue to offer council, oversee operations and ensure their success like he did in the campaign. Anderson?
COOPER: All right, Brian Todd. Brian, thanks.
Coming up next, remembering a colleague who brought her own brand of humor, humility and humanity to everything we do.
COOPER: Before we go, some sad news to share with you. Gwen Ifill, a groundbreaking journalist and role model to many of us, has died.
Ifill was the co anchor of PBS NewsHour. Over the years, she also worked at NBC, the "Washington Post" and the "New York Times". Back in February, she moderated Democratic primary debate. She also moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates.
And in 1999, Ifill made history becoming the first African-American woman to host a major political T.V. talk show when she took over PBS's Washington Week in review. She had been battling endometrial cancer. Gwen Ifill was just 61 years old.
[22:00:02] That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.